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What do you do with 25,000 photos ... and counting?
What do you do with 25,000 photos ... and counting?

How many photos are too many?

I’m not a professional photographer by any means, but I do enjoy taking pictures. I’m the default family photographer, and for work, I shoot almost all of my own photos.

That’s why I wasn’t too surprised when I noticed that iPhoto on my new iMac was running slowly. It does have to look after 20,454 photos that are sitting on its external hard drive. Couple that with the 3,349 photos and 266 videos on my iPhone, and that’s a lot of media – some 217 GB on that little portable drive.

Believe it or not, I’m reasonably judicious with the photos I store on my computer. Every so often, I go through and trash the very similar pictures, and even if I shoot 100 photos for an article, I delete all but a handful.

On my phone, it’s a different story. I snap so much, then forget to go back and weed out the bad ones. My phone used to fill up, but now that it’s more integrated into the cloud then ever, I can keep shooting and shooting and shooting.

This can’t be good.

In my defense, I curate the best photos into several shared photo streams. I print out the best into photo books for framed gifts.

But I’ve been shooting digitally since 1998. That’s 17 years of accumulated files. They started out as one megapixel files and are now up to 16. The quality and file size will only keep growing.

What am I supposed to do with all of these?

I remember helping a friend out in college after his grandmother died, and one of our tasks was going through her old photos and deciding what to keep and what to toss. This was a really sad task, and I felt like I was intruding on someone’s life, throwing away memories that meant nothing to me.

What will it be like for our generation? If everything fits on a tiny hard drive, or in the cloud, or on Facebook, will anyone bother throwing it all out? Will anyone care?

These are some deep thoughts, but I’ve been considering our collective digitized future a little more lately. Maybe it’s time. How many photos do you have si…

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Will the real Andy please stand up?
Will the real Andy please stand up?

The different versions of me

I remember back in college, I came to the realization that several different versions existed of me. It was an unsettling thought then, and it is now, too.

There was the personality the came out in front of family, the one with my Milwaukee friends, my Washington friends, and even the one when I was alone. It wasn’t about being schizophrenic; rather different inside jokes, shared stories and even vocabulary existed for each group.

It was always confusing when they came together, like when Milwaukee friends visited me in college, because different people knew a different version of me. I struggled with that, and in the end, merging the the versions produced something fake and disingenuous.

The different versions of me continue to this day, but nowhere are they more pronounced than on social media. I embraced Twitter long before Facebook and Instagram, but now active on all three, you’ll experience a totally different Andy Tarnoff if you only look in one place.

Twitter is the liveliest, most self-indulgent version of myself. It’s where I get political at times and where I pull fewer punches on any subject. It’s where I make friends and enemies and do too much self promotion. It’s the most controversial, but it’s also the most amped up: even though my opinions are real, they’re certainly exaggerated. Because, unlike Facebook, where you’re speaking to your friends, you’re speaking to the whole world via Twitter – and working to enhance your brand. My brand, of course, is owner of OnMilwaukee.com and passionate Milwaukee guy. Even when I’m a jerk, I usually like the polarizing Twitter version of myself more than any other.

Then there’s Facebook, where everyone strives to make themselves look perfect. This version of me is much more personal. This is where I share all the family stuff that I wouldn’t put in front of strangers. Understand that I’m very selective of who I "friend," because I get more than enough anonymous trash talking through T…

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Go Pack.
Go Pack.
Seasons greetings.
Seasons greetings.
Plenty warm inside.
Plenty warm inside.

Lighting up winter break

I remember vividly how hard school was. Not just the homework, but the routine of waking up early, navigating its social intricacies. Granted, my daughter is only in K-5, but still, she works hard – so I like to reward her with plenty of family fun when seasonal school vacations come around.

That’s why I jumped at the invitation from long-time OnMilwaukee.com advertiser Country Springs hotel to visit again this weekend, to kick off winter break with a unique visit to this close-to-home water park. We took advantage of the "Country Christmas Getaway" package, and even though we don’t celebrate that holiday, all of us could enjoy the revelry.

It starts with a trip through the biggest lights display I’ve ever seen. With more than 1 million lights on a mile-long trail, you just idle through it in your car and enjoy. At the end, you can stop in for included cookies and hot cocoa in Christmas Village, or marvel at a life-size nativity scene (we skipped that). Country Christmas gets super packed, but we arrived right at 5 p.m., and smiled through the entire 20 minute self-guided tour. The colorful bridge at the end is awesome, and I, of course, loved the Packers display.

Of course, the lights are just part of it. We’ve already visited Country Springs’ water park a few times, but never in the winter. There’s something very nice about splashing around in warm water when it’s cold outside, and I’m a big fan of an outdoor hot tub, where your head stays cool and your body stays hot.

The hotel, itself, is dated but spacious – but décor isn’t something a 6-year-old would notice. Rather, she was excited about the huge bathroom and suite, and the idea of getting room service for a pizza, garlic bread and drinks (included in the package). Starting at about $140 for a family of four, it’s a very complete package.

No water park is perfect, mind you. Like every one I’ve visited, we dealt with screaming children and boisterous adults in the hallway until …

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Dretzka's opened in 1902.
Dretzka's opened in 1902. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)

Hello again, Cudahy

Yesterday, I walked around Packard Avenue in Cudahy for the first time in a long time.

I mean, I drive through or around Cudahy all the time, but yesterday was different. I stopped to smell the roses.

Every real Milwaukeean should pay a visit to downtown Cudahy every now and then. It’s like a window into our past, and it’s still alive and kicking today.

I found myself on Packard to do interviews for an upcoming article on South Shore Cyclery – which is a great place, by the way – but looking around that block of 4700 S. Packard Ave., I was reminded of a whole bunch of stuff.

There’s Dretzka’s, an old-school one-off department that sells pantyhoes and sewing equipment and dry shampoo. There is Mirror Mirror, where I used to get my hair cut. There are three Chinese restaurants in a tiny radius. I found a brand new chocolate store (Jen’s Sweet Treats), a magic store, and the bowling alley I rolled one of my highest series ever (now apparently called Motion Lanes?), and all sorts of other one-off stores. A bit farther north, of course, is my favorite Polish restaurant, Polenez.

And there are bars. Lots and lots of bars.

In my mid-twenties, I heard about something called the "Packard Ave. Death March." The gimmick was to stop at every bar on Packard and have one beer. At the time, there was at least 20 taverns packed into a tiny circumference. At several of these neighborhood bars, the patrons I assumed I was a cop, but I beat the challenge. That’s the kind of stuff I would never even try at 40.

But my most significant memory of Cudahy comes from a little building just off Packard. Back in the ‘90s it was a toner replacement shop called Precision Media Products, and it was owned by my old boss from Johnson Controls and his wife. Early supporters of OnMilwaukee.com, they kindly offered to process credit card transactions for our first advertising customers – because in 1998, we didn’t have the wherewithal to do that.

While legend is that we s…

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