Save Your Photos

Soggy Books

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a bit obsessed with looking back at my past experiences. My calendar is a pinned tab on my browser and I use it just as much to look at what I’ve been up to as for scheduling the future. I love looking at old photos or files for the memories they bring up. When I read my writing from years earlier I can still put myself into the frame of mind I was in when I wrote them.

Even after purging a lot of the physical evidence, I still have totes worth of things I’ve produced over the years. Somewhere in my parents’ house are floppy disks with typing and drawing I did as a toddler. And I know I’ve got some of my most challenging exams and papers from college stashed away for when I want to be proud of my accomplishments.

Photos and videos probably make up the biggest percentage of the mementos I worry about preserving. Nothing makes reliving a memory easier than having a snapshot full of the important details, after all, a picture’s worth a thousand words. The switch to digital photography did nothing to curb the build of my collection, especially thanks to my mom who never deletes any bad pictures, even the blurriest and most embarrassing.

When I was getting to leave my parents’ house in the path of a hurricane I fought with myself about whether to take copies with me in case there was extensive water damage. Thankfully it was just paranoia, since I didn’t end up able to bring any with me, but the thought that I could loose all the pictures of my family made me very uncomfortable. And there are thousands of people for whom my worst nightmare (and then some) came true, when their home was destroyed by any number of natural disasters in recent history.

Soggy Books
Photo by Quinten de Graaf on Unsplash

I’ve had my fair share of lost memories on a smaller scale. Usually because of procrastination in dealing with the actual storage and backup system combined with an easily avoidable mistake. Case in point, one summer I was having some hard drive issues and made weekend plans to go through the files and copy over the things I didn’t have stored elsewhere. Well, one hot summer day working on the patio later and my solid state drive was toast.

I’m pretty sure the main thing I lost was some footage from the last camping trip I took, and maybe a couple of but I’ll never know for sure. I had some big projects in college that got corrupted, and I’ve also lost some important and sentimental emails after an overzealous deletion spree. And most recently, I lost the last draft of this post after making some significant edits…

All that said, I’ve been no stranger to data loss and decided I needed a real plan on how to save and store the files and photos I care about. One strategy has been Backblaze to backup my entire computer. It makes it easy to restore or back up individual files or an entire system. Though I haven’t had to do so in the several years I’ve subscribed to it. If you’re interested, the link will give you a free month when you sign up.

The other strategy I employ is to double cloud back-up my photos. I have an android phone, so all my pictures go into Google Photos automatically. But since we also pay for Amazon Prime, I back up my favorites through the Prime Photos app as well, along with my high quality photos from my fancy camera. I still have a risk of forgetting to download the pictures from disc and upload them, but I’ve been trying to work on building up a habit of doing it every week or so.

In contrast to these methods, I’ve also been trying to consciously focus on living in the moment instead of worrying too much about capturing something so fragile as a digital image. This somewhat backfired on me when I realized I have no footage from the first three months of my son’s life. Which is still something I regret. I can hardly remember those days as it is, what with the lack of sleep, but now I won’t be able to relive them or share them with him either.

There’s such a balance to be struck between simply living life and leaving a record. I certainly hope to have something to show and to share with my family in the years to come. But above all I want to strive to create those memorable moments for the sake of the experience, not the image.

Revisiting The Outside World

This post is an update to some thoughts I had almost four years ago, “Returning To The Outside World“. A lot of what I said in that post has changed in the intervening time, a lot of the sentiment has stayed the same. I decided to update it here, to reflect my current situation.

I still like to think, and I still need community. We all do. But what that community looks like has changed a lot over the years. After spending another “insular” winter inside in 2018 with a newborn, and what I now recognize as depression and anxiety, I all but lost most of the people who had been around to count on.

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Taking A Look Back [2019]

It’s that time of year again. And I can see there’s nothing I’ve posted since the last one. There has been a lot going on in my life. Including a shift in mood over the course of the year that finally has me back to feeling like a version of myself that I’m happy with. What follows is a summary of some of the highlights (and some lowlights) of the year 2019.

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Taking A Look Back [2018]

It’s New Years again and that means it’s time for my annual recap of what’s been going on the past twelve months. This was the first year of my son’s life, so as I mentioned in last year’s post, I spent much of the beginning of the year in a dazed state. I couldn’t even tell you how many weeks I spent getting sleep in two hour increments and staying awake from midnight until 4AM. It was a very full year. Good, but hard. I know I have grown as a result, but that growth is still in progress. I can barely believe the year is already over, there’s so much that feels unfinished about 2018, even after taking this look back. Maybe I’ll blame that on the lack of sleep too, it’s hard to say. At least I can say it has been a memorable year. Something happened every single month. Here is an (admittedly lengthy) account of this past year.

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What Giving Thanks In Abundance Teaches Us

As Thanksgiving approaches we are reminded to stop and take stock of the things in our lives to be thankful for. The first American Thanksgiving, as tradition has it, was a harvest festival. Our modern celebration is full of excess and abundance as well. We work hard for hours, even days, preparing more food than we can possibly eat. Harvest is a time of plenty, so it is easy to find things to be thankful for.

The past few Thanksgivings for me have been a mixed bag of whether I have been in the mood for celebration or not. Three short years ago e made the trip home to say a final good-bye to my grandmother, who had hosted Thanksgiving for many of my childhood years. While we were visiting my mom got her initial cancer diagnosis, kicking off one of the roughest times for my family that I’ve ever experienced and sending me into a nervous, distanced state that lasted for almost an entire year. Even last year, while I was excited at the anticipation of my baby’s arrival, I was reticent to celebrate as usual because it might be the last chance to do so, and I didn’t want that pressure. This year though, I’m trying to take a better approach that I hope will improve this holiday for me in the future. I’m going to take the abundance of this year and carry it with me through the rest of the year and beyond.

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Staying Afloat In A Sink Or Swim World

As part of the summer activities in this household we participated in swimming lessons. Not your average YMCA class, we put our child in an Infant Swimming Resource Self-Rescue course. These lessons are different than the “Mommy & Me” style relaxed waterplay that happens in a group class. They are individual sessions, one-on-one with the instructor where the infant is taught how to relax into a back float in order to self-rescue instead of drowning.

While it’s a pretty scary thing to put your baby into the water with (what amounts to) a stranger while they struggle to learn the techniques, I felt like for our family, having a pool in the backyard, I would feel less panicky about unlikely scenarios if we prepare for handling them. I forced the dog into the pool last summer so that I knew he’d be able to find his way out if he fell in, why do things differently with my child?
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When Mentors Move On

I was recently reminded how far I have come. Last year in September I was juggling the on-boarding of a fourth addition to our team in as many months, reviewing code written by team mates on the other side of the globe, and still getting to work on any tasks myself. Two years ago I was struggling with my involvement the decision to terminate a new hire I had been training who was not a good fit for the role. Three years ago I was working on some of the first projects I took a lead in designing and implementing, which turned out to be some of the most frustrating projects at the company for the year.

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Failure Is A Big Deal

The following is the script I wrote myself for a speech given to a group of 5th-8th grade girls at the culmination of their time at Camp Infinity coding camp, put on my the Michigan Council for Women in Technology. I can say the actual talk was only about 70% on script, but these are the points I raised. After the presentation I led an activity databending and creating art through hexcode manipulation, using trial and error.

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