Visiting the past -- 12/28/04

Santa Claus brought us a DVD recorder (well, actually the gift tag said "To my faithful staff - from Tiger") for Christmas.

For some time now we have been worried about all of our old VHS video tapes from back when the kids really were kids. Jeremy was just a toddler when we bought (for far more than we really could afford back then) a video camera so that we could tape their childhood activities. (Somewhere we have video of not just Gillian's kindergarten graduation, we have her nursery school graduation! There are only photographs of Adam's high school graduation; we didn't go video until a couple of months later.) Now the oldest of these tapes is eighteen years old -- which is beyond the average life expectancy of ordinary VHS tapes stored under good conditions.
Yesterday I moved a card table to the living room, pulled the VHS player out of the entertainment center and put it on the table next to the new DVD recorder and began connecting the VHS machine and the TV and the DVD machine together. After only one false start (when the DVD was asking me about the input signal I first thought it meant video channel rather than which set of input jacks was being used) I got things set up fairly quickly. Burning my first DVD went quite smoothly.(except it begins with about thirty seconds of a PBS newscast because of that aforementioned misunderstanding about what was meant about the input signal).

It's impossible to do this without watching the videos. Oh, not technically, of course... once you click the record button you really don't need to do anything until the tape ends... but it really isn't possible to not watch. Yesterday I watched Gillian and Jeremy at the end-of-summer fair at Camp Arbak, the summer day camp they attended for at least two weeks every summer for several years (In this particular case, Jill was the camper, Jeremy was too young and was just a visiting younger brother. Not only had Jill and Jeremy been Arback campers, Adam had also attended Arbak and we had also sent Nancy's youngest brother there one or two summers.) and Jill's first real soccer game in a CYO league (at a level where they had real teams -- she was on the St. Andrew's team -- with real practices and real games instead of just instructional sessions with practice games) and Halloween 1989.

Today I copied a tape that covered Easter on three separate years -- 1988, 1989 and 1990 -- and watched them grow each year. Then I did one that had one of Jill's soccer games from a Binghamton Parks & Rec league, and another Halloween and a neighborhood kids and parents snowball fight and some winter scenes with very deep snow showing snow piled up higher than me on both sides of our driveway (Now that makes for some exhausting shoveling!) and Jeremy giving a tour of snow forts and tunnels he and his friends made, and Furball our pet hamster, and a music recital (Jill was studying recorder and Jeremy was studying guitar).

Now I am temporarily at a pause because the VCR heads are clogged and I need to clean them before I can do more. Nancy had gone out shopping and I phoned her and asked her to look for a head cleaner ('cause I really don't want to try to take the machine apart and clean it) so I can resume copying VHS to DVD.

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