VHS and Audio tapes under Control

June 7, 2010

This past winter the focus of my reduction project was to tackle my recorded media stored here at the house.  Here’s what I got done.

I think I wrote before about my audio cassettes, how I sorted them down to one carrying case plus a bag of extras to listen to before I decided if they would stay.  They never were listened to, so I recently resorted what I had left and now all my audio tapes fit inside that one carrying case.  My large heavy boom-box stereo was donated to a local church.  It was hard to let that stereo go, but I really don’t use it anymore or have space for it.  All my music is digital now on my computer and iPod.

At some point in my reshuffling and organizing history I had collected all of my VHS video tapes in one place, and they fit into one bankers box plus a handful of extra tapes on top.  Rough estimate of time in storage – 12 years?

Mostly recordings of old TV shows that were saved to watch again “someday”.  In this case someday was in January 2010!  Some favorite shows were saved to “preserve” them.  I liked them so much that I wanted to make sure they did not disappear from the world, and future generations could enjoy them.  I now know this was rather stupid – I had incomplete seasons and lousy video quality.  All of those old shows are available on DVD, full seasons recorded in digital quality.  They certainly don’t need me to archive their shows.

Well I had all these tapes but no VCR.  After Christmas last year I borrowed a VCR tape deck for a month so I could go through all the tapes at my leisure.  The VCR was connected to my video encoder box, and that was plugged into my MacBook’s USB port.  With the EyeTV software I could play a tape and watch it in a window on the computer screen.  Also the software could record anything in that window and save as a video file on the hard disk.

The plan was to see what was on the tapes, and record anything that I wanted to keep.  One or two tapes were scanned through every evening, and more on the weekends.  The recordings I kept are stored only as digital files on a computer disk, so they don’t take up much physical space.  I ended up saving 9 movies and around 6 shorter video clips.  There were some funny videos I had made with a camcorder 20 years ago, so I saved those.  Also a video made at my late grandparents house – that was a keeper.

Now here is something that bothers me.  One reason I wanted to scan through every part of every tape was that I remember having a specific video recording that I wanted to find.  It was important to me so I could not imagine not keeping it.  All those years I knew it was in the storage unit somewhere but I didn’t know where.  I went through all my boxes in 2008 when the storage unit was emptied, so I knew for a fact that all my VHS tapes were together in that box.  I was excited to be finally going through my videos, partly because I wanted to see this recording again.  The strange thing is that I did not find it.  A few times I started thinking maybe it’s in a box at another storage location, but it can’t be because I have everything here now.  Don’t understand how something I was so sure I had could have been permanently lost in the clutter.  Do you own something you never got rid of but you don’t know where it is?

Video tapes that had anything personal on them were erased.  I gave away the whole box of used tapes on Freecycle.  Right now I own zero VHS tapes.

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