Today would have been my Dad’s 66th birthday (I think). My father’s birthday is always a pensive day for me and I miss him a little more on these anniversaries.
On days like today, I often find myself trying to conjure up memories of what he was like as a father. I wonder how he would deal with all the little situations we encounter each day? I don’t have many clear memories of my childhood and yet I sometimes have a sense of how he would behave in random situations.
Being a father isn’t easy. We have our own personality quirks to muddle through at the same time we are learning about how to be better dads and parents to our children. There is always room to improve, to give our kids more attention, play more with them, be more present.
On one hand, it seems I can never live up to my expectations of myself as a father and on the other, I wonder if each step towards meeting them is all we can really do.
Even though I almost always feel like I am falling short of my expectations of what it is to be a good father, perhaps having those expectations is a testament to my father. He wasn’t perfect (none of us are) but he set the bar pretty high by his actions and by what he was able to do in the short time he was alive.
To say that I ask myself what my Dad would do often is an understatement. In many ways he guides my actions as a father even though he passed away years before I became a father. That makes the journey a little easier and his loss a little more meaningful.
My photos are typically uploaded to Flickr and Google Photos by default. I also sometimes share albums on Facebook but I don’t have complete archives there at all. I also make multiple backups of my primary photo library and RAW files because I am more than a little neurotic about losing my family photos.
At the same time, I love living in a time where we can take so many great photos and share them so easily. Having machine learning systems go through our photos and make them so accessible, despite taking 23 photos of the same sunset, is amazing.
Google Photos definitely has the edge when it comes to identifying what is in our photos. As long as I have my Flickr (and other) backups for full resolution images, I’m happy to keep sending all my photos to Google Photos too.
I haven’t used Apple Photos much. The libraries tend to become pretty big. My current edited library is about 128GB. That is stored in Flickr in full resolution (I uploaded most of that when we arrived in Israel – a decent upload capacity and no data caps is a must) and in Amazon S3.
I don’t really see me using Apple Photos for my full library. For one thing, I don’t have the drive capacity for that on my current MacBook Air. For another, iCloud storage pricing is still relatively expensive compared to other storage options. Still, I created a small Apple Photos library to play around with the new Apple Photos app.
One of the changes that I like is that I don’t have to replicate my photos in the Apple Photos library. I can “import” photos that I have stored on different drives without actually moving or copying them. That saves a lot of space.
That said, Apple Photos still seems to take up a lot of extra space on my drive relative to the imported photos. At the same time, the library may seem to be relatively big because I activated the Photos iCloud Library and it is importing photos shared through my iPhone and iPad.
I probably need to play around with Apple Photos and use a bigger subset of my library to get a better sense of how much space it will actually use once I’ve accounted for my iCloud library.
Those old family slides
My current mission is to have about 150-200 slides from my childhood scanned and added to my digital library. The big challenge with older generations’ photos is that there either aren’t many or they are in physical formats that will only degrade over time.
The slides are mostly in pretty good shape and there are a lot of amazing memories in there. So much I have forgotten from my childhood.
My Grand Plan is actually to co-ordinate with my brother and sister to have all the slides they have from my mother digitised and shared as a collected family archive.
When I look at photos of my parents’ childhoods, I’m struck by how few I have access to and just how few there are altogether. It isn’t quite as bad as the great grandfather in the Google Photos video with just two photos in his whole life but there really aren’t many photos going back a couple generations.
If anything, our kids will have too many photos of our lives and theirs but, hopefully, machine learning will keep developing and the (likely) terabytes of family photos we leave for them when we eventually leave this life will become a rich and valued archive of memories.
I came across this old post soon after I joined Twitter in early 2007. I managed to lose two of the images I used in the original post so I cleaned up the old and broken image references. Other than that, this is what I wrote after I discovered the Twitter:
Gina Trapani spoke at the XOXO Festival recently and I finally watched her talk. I’ve followed Trapani for years now and when she mentioned that she spoke at the festival (hadn’t heard of it before) on an episode of This Week in Google, I made a mental note to watch the video.
She talks about 3 significant stories in her life starting with 9/11 and ending with her marriage and daughter’s birth shared online and how her Web app, Thinkup, helps her track her digital activity and be more mindful of how meaningful it is.
Trapani’s talk reminded me of a few things I’ve been thinking about lately and I wrote down a couple things she said in her talk which really appealed to me. I’m going through quite a bit change in my life (along with my family) at the moment and it feels like we’re in between our old life and a new one, in a sort of limbo. For someone not particularly comfortable with transitions (especially not the huge life changes we’re going through at the moment), this is a challenging time for me.
I find myself throwing out loads of old baggage (literally) and, at the same time, holding on to little memories and mementos I’m not quite sure what to do with.
Trapani spoke about how she started documenting everything in her life after 9/11. I capture so much of my life and my family’s life. I capture all those weird art projects our kids bring home (I take photos when they arrive and store them, along with everything else, in Evernote). One of the reasons I am so passionate about my photography is because it is a way for me to document our lives so we have a rich record of it for our future selves and future generations. I’m practically obsessed with scanning documentation and storing it, both for work and just to build that archive of our lives. I even scanned half a dozen Moleskine journals before shredding the originals while we were packing up our home and my office.
In the midst of all of that, I feel a little adrift between our old life when I worked to remain relevant in a changing environment and to support my family and the new life where we will begin again in a new country and where I’m not too sure what I’ll do to earn a living and grow further in the months and years to come. I find these transitions unsettling and difficult to plan for. One of Trapani’s quotes that stood out for me was this one:
Somehow, somewhere your worst moments will power your best work
I don’t see my current challenges as my worst moments by any stretch of my imagination and yet this idea still resonates with me. I’m excited about our new life and I know this limbo will end soon. I also know I can’t remain tethered to our old life if I am going to embrace our new life and create something fresh. Not letting go means that our new life could become a shadow of the old and a missed opportunity to create something better and more meaningful.
I’m still working on that “letting go” bit and figuring out where the balance is between letting go and forgetting.
I was sitting in my office yesterday afternoon and I felt the need for some Taiko drumming to get through the last couple hours of the week (I have fairly eclectic taste in music at times). That took me right back to one of my life’s highlights: my trip to Sapporo in Japan for the 2008 iCommons iSummit.
Visiting Japan ticked off a destination I had wanted to travel to for a long time. Another big one was Ireland which I travelled to about a decade ago.
I realised that I hadn’t published a short video I created at the time with a few memories from that trip so I uploaded it and here it is.
This is a powerful and emotional video and it touches on something I’ve thought about a couple times. We don’t know how much longer we have in this life. If our time came to an end today, what would we want to leave behind for our kids? Would we leave a letter for them sharing our thoughts, feelings and wisdom? I thought about recording short videos for our kids about the things I think about and the lessons I’ve learned and want to share with them.
I also realised that my blog, my updates and my photos are also my legacy to our kids. Through all this stuff I share online (publicly and not so publicly), they gain more insights into who I am which could help them understand decisions I have made. I think about what I have from my father and one of his possessions which help me understand him better is a journal he kept for a while before he passed away.
I wonder if our kids will look at all the stuff I have captured from our lives and see it as a valuable record of our lives? I hope they will see some benefit in it even if a lot of what I publish is either pretty limited to specific contexts and passing events or just waffle.
Mostly I just don’t particularly want to leave this life for many more decades to come. I’d much rather our kids get to know me better in person.