Some 20 years ago we got our first VCR. It was a brand new technology for the home at that time and we had the idea of taping our youngest daughter, Elizabeth. She was still a toddler.
At first, we had to rent a camera.
But eventually we bought our own and I proceeded to tape her with the skill, finesse and clear thinking of all fathers.
I turned the camera on her as soon as I brought it home and I didn't turn it off until two months ago when she graduated from college.
I estimate that if all the videotape I have taken of Elizabeth was placed end to end, I could tie one end to her tricycle, which is still in the garage, and the other end to the Mars rover.
Someday, two generations from now, I have a vision of my great, great grandson moving into a house with his new wife.
Wife: "My you do have a lot of boxes. I had no idea. Are you sure you need all this?"
Great, great grandson: "I can't get rid of this stuff. I inherited it. And I have more to bring in."
Wife: "What is it?"
GGG: "These are video tapes of Great Grandma Elizabeth taken during the last 20 years of the 20th century."
Wife: "Well, let's play them and see what they look like."
GGG: "What am I going to play them on? The last VCR was made 50 years ago."
Wife: "So we're just going to save all these video tapes for years and years?"
GGG: "It's a family tradition. Eventually we'll do something with them. Someday we'll give them all to our grandchildren."
I know I'm not alone in this. Lots of people have miles and miles of video tape and more is being taken every day. And now we're adding DVDs.
It's no wonder we need to land people on Mars. We need the planet for home video tape and DVD storage.
The other day my wife asked me to tape a TV show for her on the VCR
Me: " don't think I can."
Wife: "In 20 years you haven't been able to figure out how to program it?"
Me: "In 20 years I haven't been able to find an unused video tape."
Wife: "Here's a tape that doesn't look used."
Me: "I think Elizabeth's 6-year-old baseball team is on that one. Or maybe it's the Bears Super Bowl. You know, I've got about 1,000 tapes lying around here. Do you think I should have labeled some of them?"
Wife: "Why don't you just go to the video store and rent us a movie."
The average video store today carries many thousands of titles. They are spread throughout a large store and they are carefully organized so that the only way you are going to find anything you might want to watch is dumb luck. For the most part, if these movies appealed to us, we would have gone to see them in the theater in the first place and we wouldn't be renting them to play on the VCR.
The whole experience gave me a headache. I gave up and went home to tell my wife I couldn't find anything. She had fallen asleep.
So I settled down to watch some tapes I knew I'd enjoy: Elizabeth, 3 years, one week to 3 years two weeks, volumes 1 through 22.
But first I got a very big bowl of popcorn.
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