Monday, January 24, 2011

Digital Memories

This year for Christmas, I got one of those storage drives for our home network.

An external hard drive that all the computers in the house can access.

A whole terabyte full.

One terabyte of space to put all of our family's home movies on.

One terabyte of space to put all of our family's ten years of pictures on.

One terabyte of space to put all of our family’s favorite music on.

It wasn’t long ago that a terabyte was a science fiction term – used to describe the memory capacity of an artificially inteligent robot or computer that would service the entire world.

Now we can get this much storage space to simply park our pictures and home movies on.

I do not have a terabyte worth of home movies.

Just in time to, as our home multimedia PC was stuffed to the brim with our digital memories.

After I moved all of this memorabilia off of our little family multimedia PC downstairs, it was like getting a new personal computer for Christmas . It was like the computer gave out a great belch after a big holiday meal, and was now going to undo it’s belt and relax on the couch for a while.

I noticed as I was going through this collection of ten years of archived digital family memorabilia that sorting movies and pictures out on a computer is no different than going through old shoeboxes of pictures and stacks of old VHS tapes.

You just have to stop and reminisce as you weed your way through your collection.

And I remembered how incredibly cute my two little girls were in their preschool toddler days.

And I remembered how incredibly young and fit both my lovely wife Darlene and I were in those not so ancient days.

Now we do still have shoeboxes of photographs – another life time of memories – to go through. Memories I really should take the time one day to scan into the computer and save as high quality images.

As well I have a stack of probably ten VHS tapes – each containing some three hours of video dating back to January of 2001 – just before Alannah was born. I really should hook up our one remaining working VHS tape player to the multimedia PC so I can turn that analog video into more digital memories.

All in all I figure there is about three solid dedicated months of effort sitting there waiting for me to do all this.

I don’t have three months to waste on all this.

But would it be waste?

Someplace on those old VHS tapes are Alannah’s very first steps. I remember that video like a memory in my mind. I have to find that tape.

When I was a boy, my family was not so concerned with pictures. And we didn’t have a home movie camera.

I wish we did though.

I have a small handful of pictures from my youth. And no video at all of my family – sailing or camping on holidays or baseball games or my brother Paul’s tennis tournaments.

Seems like a crime.

It’s too bad we can’t hook a device up to our brain and download memories to the PC – they way we remembered things.

But then how good would the quality be? They’d be pretty grainy and foggy in my own case.

And how reliable would those memories be? I would probably not remember them exactly as they played out in real life.

But I wish I had something.

I do have a couple of old snapshots of me and my Dad in his final days playing scrabble together.

And there are a few old pics of us all standing together someplace in a group smiling at a camera.

The only proof I really have that I existed before the turn of the Millennium.

Right now at our house we have three digital cameras floating around – including the one Alannah got for Christmas this year.

But it always seems like an afterthought to grab one when an event is happening. And the video on those camera’s looks like the event is very far away. The video setting on the camera is only able to capture clips of five minutes or less.

Shame on me.

I take everything that is right now for granted. Like it will always be this way.

Maybe I should get one of those home security camera setups. The kind where you have a camera in the main rooms –then I can catch on stored video just who is eating in the living room, who hit who first, and who is stealing my pocket change I use for my pool league games on Monday nights.

But aside from the snooping – just think of the uses of such a complete collection of video surveillances.

We could start a new family game called “where were you the night of August 13th?” or some such date at random. The winner is the player that can actually remember what they were doing?

And years from now, as I look back on these pre-teen daughter years with nostalgic tears in my eyes, I can pick any day I want to look back on and watch them – say an afternoon after school – both daughters lounged on the couch with their shoes on and eating a snack bar on the couch – hiding the wrapper under the cushions and wiping the crumbs under the carpet.

Ahh memories”, I will muse to myself.

And should I miss the girls when they go off to university, or leave the country to get married, I will just go for a walk down my digital memory lane on my terabyte data storage device and recall the petty name calling, fist swinging, tattletale moments that somehow will have dropped from my own personal memory library in my feeble mind.

I wonder how many years of digital surveillance I can keep handy on a terabyte server? I could always add a second one if need be.

It’s a lot cheaper than those checks we will probably write to my daughters when they move out – because these digital memories might just offset that emotional response of missing them.

Of course, I might be able to get a surveillance camera for inside their suitcases too …

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