Personal ponderings from a natural night-owl!

Posts tagged ‘Memories’

Out of the Ashes

I get most of my news aurally from NPR and when the kids are not home, visually from CNN.com, so I am just now watching video of people in California returning to the ash piles that were their houses.

People had to evacuate quickly, and their goal was to get themselves and their most precious belongings out intact. And what did they take? When they had less than 5 minutes to get out, when they didn’t even have time to grab shoes, what DID they grab? Their family photos.

Interview after interview, evacuees tell us either how glad they are that they had time to save their photos or how they are mourning the photos left behind. Interviewers ask, “Were you able to get anything out? Pictures…anything?” Furniture, cars, clothes, and even houses can be replaced, but we all know that family photos are priceless treasures.

But really, it’s not even the photos themselves that are irreplaceable, but the memories, stories, and celebrations they represent. For some, a photo of a loved one is the only tangible thing that’s left. Photos link us together with other human beings and give us a way to tell our own life stories. Photos help us remember and celebrate, and be remembered and celebrated by others. Photos link us with the past so we can forge our future.

So even though houses have burned, homes will be recreated – and family photos will be a huge part of that.

If you are not preserving, documenting, sharing, and enjoying your family photos with those you love, please email me. As a Memory Celebration coach, I am passionate about helping people celebrate and share their lives and their stories.

If your photos are so important that they’re the first things you’d grab in a fire, what’s holding you back from enjoying them now? I can help you with that.

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Changing History

The concept of changing history used to be science fiction. One of my all-time favorite t.v. shows was “Voyagers!” where Phineas Bogg and Jeffrey Jones traveled through time to “fix” history that had gone wrong and get it back on track. I’ve blogged before about the nature of reality as a function of perception. Today, more than ever before, we have the power to alter memory, effectively changing reality. This bring up some interesting practical issues and sometimes thorny ethical ones.

On a practical level, the advent of digital photography allows anyone to alter her own reality. Creative Memories’ Memory Manager software makes it easy to change photos in all sorts of useful ways. Crop your photos, adjust light levels, and even use the clone tool to “erase” unwanted blemishes. As useful and fun as these features are, they are a form of altered reality. How much is too much?

In this fascinating article, a doctor talks about a split second choice to deliberately alter 10 minutes of a young mother’s reality through the administration of a memory-erasing drug. Ellen had chosen to undergo surgery for a suspicious bone tumor with only local anesthesia and the pathologist, not realizing the patient was awake in the operating room, announced over the intercom that the tumor was definitely a rare, aggressive form of bone cancer. The anesthesiologist immediately administered to Ellen a drug that caused her to fall asleep and erased the last 10 minutes of her memory. She woke up calm and happy at the time, although she was told about the cancer at a later date and ultimately died from it 6 years later, never knowing that 10 minutes of her reality had been altered.

As new as this issue feels, we humans have been struggling with “reality” for centuries. The psychological state of disassociative memory disorder is a physical way the brain copes with trauma, essentially altering reality to something the person can handle. But this is a rare disorder. Much more common is “selective memory” where only some of the events in an experience are retrieved. (I think this is also called “aging”!)

So is altered reality a good thing? How much alteration is too much? When is or isn’t it appropriate to alter reality? I suspect we will uncover similar questions and struggle for more conclusive answers in the coming years.

The Man on the Dead Horse

Since December of 2006, this historical photo of a man sitting on a horse has been sparking speculation and interest.

Dead Horse

The photo was one several historical pictures included in a 2007 calendar issued by The Sheboygan Press. Theories about the story behind the photo have poured in from places as diverse as Norway, Scotland and Brazil. The BBC, AP, CNN, and other major media outlets ran stories on the photo. The following link seems to have a pretty good explanation for the image. So the mystery is solved, right?

http://www.sheboygan-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070127/SHE0101/701270488/1062/SHEnews

Not so fast. THIS site has a DIFFERENT theory. It’s a remarkable example of the depth of research that some have put into figuring out the story behind this picture.

http://ancestralmanor.com/dnn/Default.aspx?tabid=129

So, what’s the point?

How many pictures do you have at home, in a printed or digital format? And each picture has at least one story behind it. After all, it was taken for a reason. And you probably figure that there’s no point in writing down the story behind the picture because YOU know what the picture shows, what it means. After all, it’s OBVIOUS, right? I think you see where I’m going here.

In junior high, we did a sociological anthropology experiment where we were asked to describe how people far in the future might describe a toilet seat if it were unearthed in an archaeological dig. We came up with all sorts of hilarious theories – the most memorable being a religious ceremonial object, since most houses have them.

The point is that in just a few short centuries or decades, things we take as commonplace today will be completely exotic, their uses perhaps even undecipherable. This is even more true now than it was when I was in junior high. My kids don’t have a clue what purpose a typewriter, rotary dial phone, or walkman served. The only place they’ll see one is in a museum (or my mom’s storage unit – she’s got EVERYTHING in there).

Your pictures are precious, but your memories and stories are priceless. I’m sure neither the man on the dead horse nor the photographer taking the picture could have imagined the impact that image would have on people over 100 years later. And perhaps the story behind the photo is mundane, but wouldn’t you still like to know what the heck was going on? So please, for the sake of future generations, go ahead and write down the stories behind your photos!

Memory Management

Do you take digital photos? Are they stored on your computer or on your camera’s memory card? If they are in your computer – bravo! – but are you able to quickly find what you need when you need it? The computer is the 21st century version of the shoebox: all the photos get thrown in the computer and most people STILL can’t find that photo of Aunt Sally they took at the family reunion.

Lots of people use the folder system to organize their photos. Some elaborate examples are blogged about here: http://www.trustyetc.com/trustyblog/?p=74

The problem with folders is that they are time consuming to create, allow you to view your pictures only one at a time, and don’t provide an efficient method for cross-referencing. If you DO try to cross reference, you are usually forced to create multiple copies of the same image, so space quickly becomes a problem.

I am a photo organization and memory preservation consultant. Since I help people organize their photos and capture the stories behind them, it is essential that I, myself, am organized!

Creative Memories’ “Memory Manager” software is simple and elegant in design, with more sophisticated and intuitive features than the popular programs Picasa or Photoshop Elements. And at $40, it’s less than half the price.

Like the other two programs, Memory Manager organizes not only digital images, but also digital video, scanned documents, and audio files (including MP3’s). It allows for single-click editing and CD/DVD backup. Like Photoshop, it displays multiple thumbnail images and allows for quick drag and drop sorting. But here are some amazing Memory Manager features the other two programs don’t offer:

  1. Stores both import date and picture date – and allows sorts on either
  2. Allows picture date edits – great for scanned-in photos or correcting photos mis-dated by your camera – & shows a visual timeline of all files
  3. Searches by season (winter, spring, summer, fall) using “fuzzy” dating logic
  4. Unlimited journaling with spell check for every file; journaling stays with the file
  5. Option for automatic shadow copies of all files, images & journaling upon program close for painless backups
  6. Cross-tag and file pictures in multiple places WITHOUT making multiple copies
  7. Powerful custom search on key words or strings, by event, by date, or by individuals in the picture
  8. Has the option to overwrite after edit or keep individual revisions
  9. Revisions are kept with original photo for easy viewing and managing
  10. View images that have been printed or not printed
  11. Has 45 print layout templates. Easily make index prints, wallets, 8×10’s or unique combinations of sizes
  12. Create & print custom journal boxes with or without borders in desired size, font, & colors
  13. Create a custom default toolbar with your favorite editing tools

The editing features are awesome because they are simple for non-technical people to learn and use. The search feature is my favorite because of the versatility. I am able with just a few clicks to locate and display all the photos taken in summer showing both our kids.

My husband John was skeptical. He demanded a showdown and challenged me to find a particular copy of a picture of Emily just after birth, which we had in some folder on the home server AND on a backup CD. Using Memory Manager, I had the image up on my screen before he had even found the CD with the image on it!

Memory Manager also comes bundled with Storybook Creator – free digital scrapbooking software that creates albums using simple drag and drop functionality.

To take a virtual tour of Memory Manager, go here: http://www.CMmemorymanager.com/

To purchase this software AND receive free, in-person, one-on-one training, go here: http://www.myCMsite.com/DebS

Welcome to the 21st century!

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