Sunday, June 19, 2011

Like My Father Before Me

Recently having transferred all our family photos to iPhoto, I have had some experience with the Faces option on the program.

For those of you who may not be familiar with this, it is the latest, JackBauer-esque technology for your photo archiving. It recognizes a face in a picture and then asks you who it is. After you type a name in, it then attempts to recognize the same face in other photos.

Notice, I said attempt.

My two sons are very often confused as twins. This happens in real life when real people are standing in front of them looking at their faces. Apparently their faces are so similar that it causes these same people to lose their minds and they are stricken completely oblivious to the six-inch height difference and different eye color.

Thus, I wasn’t surprised that iPhoto was often confusing my sons with one another. I actually had to look at the pictures pretty carefully myself to determine if it was guessing which son’s face was which correctly.

But amidst all that confusion, I found another trend I hadn’t expected. I typed in my own name below my face. I did the same for all my family members: my wife, my mother, my father, my brothers, my in-laws and so on. As I would then try and let the software do its job, I noticed that I often instead of being able to check the green check below my own face to tell the computer, “Good job,” I often had to check the red x to say, “No, no, no, you’ve got it all wrong, you nincompoop.” (Not my choice of words, that’s the literal translation from binary.)

The software was confusing me with one of my family members in particular on a startlingly regular basis. It kept asking me if I was my father.

My first reaction was to chuckle. My wife often tells me that I am beginning to look more like my father every day. To be honest, I was also instinctively hurt. I couldn’t help but feel like my computer was calling me old. This is not intended as dig on my dad’s appearance. I think that my father, in his early sixties, is in pretty decent shape and that he is a good-looking guy. He’s just 30 years older than me!

I began to build resentment towards my computer’s face recognition software. I bet CIU’s programs never mistook a terrorist for a man thirty years his senior. If they had, Jack may never have tracked down those uranium rods and saved the country. At least it would have taken more than 24 hours and then would have had to have a season ending cliffhanger, which would have annoyed the hell out of me. Obviously my computer couldn’t cut the mustard when compared to imaginary technology from an over the top television action drama. What exactly had I paid so much money for?

As with most things in life (like the majority of my teenage years) everything seems less serious with the passage of time. That certainly held true for this whole experience. I relaxed, laughed about it, got back on speaking terms with my computer and now, on Father’s Day, I am proud to have my face confused with my father’s.

Maybe it’s a good omen. Maybe if I look like him, I’ll be more like him. Maybe it’s an indication of how well received my sense of humor will be. Perhaps it means I’ll become a better musky fisherman like he is. It gives me hope that I can be the sort of funny, supportive, loving father that he was to me and the kind of amazing grandfather that he is to my sons if I am ever lucky enough to hold the same role with my children’s offspring.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is this: Thank you, dad. I love you. Happy Father’s Day.

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