And the lesson for today is...

Plan ahead, but not too far ahead. And when you plan ahead, expect the unexpected.

We've been working on finishing the basement recently, with the idea that we'd turn it into a rec room / office. We had removed a lot of the clutter in the fall, then put up a partition wall to separate the laundry room from the rest of the basement.

We installed styrofoam insulation on the outside walls two weeks ago, and we're now ready to run the electrical. Right now, we only have two outlets in the basement, which are dedicated to the washing machine and the sump pump. For lighting, we have four functional -- but not attractive -- single-bulb fixtures which are typical of every unfinished basement I've ever seen. So we're planning to add about a dozen wall outlets and a couple of lighting circuits to give us some flexibility to place furniture and a television and to select lighting.

As I was saying, we're ready to start running electrical this weekend because I took the time around Thanksgiving to map every electrical circuit in the house. I spent most of a day turning off circuit breakers and then running around the house checking to see which outlets and lights were without power. I needed to do this because our breaker box is completely filled, and it was possible I'd have to combine some circuits to make room to wire the basement.

So what's the problem? Well, I'm notoriously disorganized. Scattered. I wasn't born with the place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place gene. Fortunately for me, my wife isn't just beautiful and smart -- she's also congenitally neat, and she's got my back. So when she advised me to put that map somewhere I'll be able to find it, I listened.

That's right, I put it in the one place I knew I'd be able to find it: in the home computer. That around Christmas. I copied the information into the PC and threw away the original hard copy. You can guess what happened next. The first week in January, the hard drive crashed and burned. Two months out of warranty, and me without a useful backup. This weekend, it looks like I'll be re-mapping all the circuits. And next weekend, I'll be backing up my hard drive. So, like I said, when you plan ahead, expect the unexpected.