Rohit's Realm

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December 19, 2009

Forgotten Memories

Eiffel Tower at Night

The Eiffel Tower at Night
January 2007

Having just finished another grueling quarter of law school (my third to last!), I once again found myself this week at my parents' home in OC with time on my hands to turn attention to the shattered remains of my personal life. High on my list of things to do was uploading photographs from my trip to Japan this summer—a necessary, but tedious job by any account.

Though I love shooting photos as I travel, I am notoriously bad at ever processing those photos once I have shot them. The set from the Japan trip was looming especially large on the horizon in terms of tedium as I had shot the entire trip in RAW mode (after I tried it a year or so back, I haven't been able to go back!), meaning an additional step in my work flow of processing each individual photograph for white balance, contrast, and the like. Doing that for some two hundred photos shot over six days would be no joke.

But what's the point of shooting photographs if they are destined to lie in some musty temporary directory on my fileserver forever, right? So, I steadied myself and logged on: traversing through that temp directory filled with random photos and other images, I made a horrifying discovery:

rohit@autocrat % ls -l
drwxr-xr-x 1 rohit users 512 Jan 15 2007 europe07

What? Europe? 2007? Those photos had already been processed and posted, right? Of course I had taken care of that already! Except, I hadn't—one city was conspicuously missing. The city, ironically enough, where I had spent most of my time on that trip to Europe. Approximately 150 photos from Paris were still sitting there, untouched for almost three years in some temp directory that was not even backed up, a poignant testament to the forgotten remains of my life before adulthood (when I actually cared).

I am not sure exactly why, but I was deeply perturbed by this discovery. It was not so much the fact that I had not processed those photos—it has taken me years before—but the fact that I had forgotten about them that was bothersome. That trip was about three years ago (a scary thought in its own right—has it really been that long?). What else have I forgotten? What else will I forget?

Perhaps this discovery does not seem like a particularly big deal to most of you. What's the difference, right? But to me, it was a very real reminder of my tendency to get so absorbed in whatever it is I am doing, whether that is work or school, that everything else falls by the wayside. That's probably not a good thing.

So, yes, here the consequences may not have been catastrophic. The worst that might have happened is that those photos would have been lost forever. Indeed, it came very close to happening because a disk—not the disk with the photos, thankfully—in that server did fail last year and had to be restored completely from backups. But even if it wouldn't have been the end of the world had those photos been lost, it would certainly have been a travesty of lost memories—and an inexcusable one at that.

I processed those photos last night. It took about an hour. I could have spared that hour in 2007, just as much as in 2009. Something to think about as I enter into my final few months of sanctuary in academia.


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