And yet another…

Suzie Eisfelder

This is an interesting time. We’ve lost four people in the last couple of months. One family member and three friends. I’m finding it a little hard to attend more funerals and try to give words of comfort. The only ones that are coming now are ‘I’m sorry for your loss’. Words that I say when I can’t think of any better. In Jewish tradition it’s normal to wish the mourners a ‘long life’ at these times. That doesn’t seem to happen outside of Australia, and possibly it’s only in Melbourne. And I’ve decided I don’t like it any more. I’m told it’s a mistranslation and should be ‘I wish you a good life’, but that doesn’t quite sound right to me either. But even before I was told of the mistranslation I wasn’t comfortable with it. If someone is suffering ill health why would we wish them a long life? Why prolong their suffering even more? I don’t want a long life, my body already hates me and things get worse as a person gets older.

Anyway, enough whinging…

In between mourning and attending funerals I’ve been cleaning out my in-laws house. It’s been a fascinating process, but exhausting. One of the things I’ve found is that in order to store some of their papers at our house I’ve had to clean out some of my papers from my filing cabinet. I managed to make a little over one drawer available. The only problem is that some of the papers are things I want to keep, albeit it digital format. I’ve had to find it within me to start scanning lots of my own papers into my computer.

Challenging for my energy levels and really challenging to remain focussed and not start reading everything. You see, some of the files were my notes from VCE and my uni degree. When I first mooted the idea of scanning in my notes and keeping just the digital format my cousin asked me when I’d be likely to look at them again. A good question and one that’s been in the back of my mind as I looked at the bundles. Another thing at the back of my mind is something a uni lecturer said a week or so ago.

Writing essays, fiction or non-fiction at school is very different to writing at uni level. Apparently uni lecturers work very hard to undo the writing we’ve learned at school. With both of these things in my mind I felt very differently about my VCE notes than I did last year. I was planning on scanning them all in and making a decision at some later stage. When I started scanning last month I made a last second decision to throw out my VCE notes without scanning them. I didn’t feel the love any more and with the uni lecturer’s comments in mind I don’t know if I’ll look at them any more.

My uni notes are a different kettle of fish. I’m looking at each subject and if I don’t feel the love then I’m ditching without scanning. Unfortunately, that doesn’t actually leave out many subjects. That brings me to a brief explanation of why I feel it is easy to scan in reams of notes.

During 2019 I put my name down for a new scanner. It was a crowdfunding campaign and I was anxious for it to arrive in February 2020 so I could get started using it for my synagogue’s archives. You know what happened there. It was coming out of China and didn’t reach our shores until August. At that point there was a problem with their paperwork and Customs wouldn’t let me have it until I’d paid duty. I object to paying duty when I don’t have to so I argued and eventually the company fixed the paperwork with the result that Customs released it to me.

This scanner is very different to a flatbed scanner. It has a camera on an arm and takes a photo each time you step on the button. The software is the clever part as it can turn jpgs into pdfs. I can now scan three to four hundred pages in an hour, if I want them to all go into the one file and I don’t check then I can tell the software what to do and then walk away for a while. With my uni notes I’m not checking, if I miss a page I’m not going to worry about it…until I reread it and scream at myself. With the synagogue archives I’m taking the time to go through and check each page before creating a pdf tailored to the document. Sometimes the documents contain only one page, sometimes they contain twenty or thirty, or even more. The biggest document I’ve made using this system was 497 pages! It took a while to process. I think I only have two more subjects to scan and then I’ll move onto something else. In the meantime that’s a lot of paper I’ve thrown into the recycling!

Some of the subjects I’ve found myself reading a few words, then a few more. I’ve had to be really disciplined or I could find myself reading the entire stack of paper. I think that answers my cousin’s question about when will I read them again…whenever I get the chance.

Anyway, I will get around to writing words about books in due course, just not today.

  1. My understanding is that by wishing a mourner a long life you're extending the period that the deceased is remembered.
    I remember clearing out my dad's house when he moved into the Home and finding his uni notes from when he studied at UWA. From 1949. I think even if he had remembered he had the notes he would not have looked at them in the previous 40-50 years.
    On the other hand, I also have a 20 year old job awaiting me to scan the letters that my mother wrote to her father. I wonder if I'll ever get around to it?
    I wish you and yours a long life.

    1. That's certainly an explanation I haven't heard before now.

      What you need is a good scanner. You should come and look at mine

    1. That makes sense. The European Jews I've seen don't actually say it too often

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