More Cameras the Past Four Days

Here is an update on my attempt to watch out for surveillance and other video cameras that capture my image without my permission.

Friday

I worked at home part of the day and went into the office. I visited one elementary school. We then drove to Stowe for the weekend.

Traffic cameras: 7
Office building cameras: 3
Parking garage cameras: 3
School cameras: 2
Additional interstate traffic cameras: 2

Total cameras: 17

Saturday

I was a Trapp Family Lodge for the weekend with my family. I saw no security cameras there. We did go to a restaurant in town.

Restaurant cameras: 4

Total cameras: 4

Sunday

We drove home from Stowe without any stops.

Traffic cameras: 3
Additional interstate traffic cameras: 2

Total cameras: 5

Monday

I went to a school for my work with students. I made no other stops.

Traffic cameras: 10
School camera: 9

Total cameras: 19

This is a total of 45 cameras I noticed over four days. Add that to the 100 cameras I noticed the four days before and that totals 145 times I have been on camera over eight days. Again, I am sure I missed a few. They are not easy to notice. I am getting better at both remembering to look and at noticing. I will at least look through the rest of this week to see what I can see in terms of what sees me.

More Cameras Out and About

It is really hard to start thinking about something I have been ignoring for so long. I knew that if I wanted to be aware of all the cameras in my world it would take some practice, but I keep forgetting to look. I keep forgetting to try to be aware. Security and monitoring cameras are typically positioned so that they are unobtrusive, sure. They are visible but not noticeable on purpose.

Over the past couple of days I noticed a few cameras taking my picture. Yesterday I noticed three at a local market but I forgot to look when I was at the register area. I was checking out, paying and so on, so I tried to pay attention to the person helping me. I tried to be friendly and to make sure I appreciated what she did. That meant I did not look up to see the cameras around me, but I am sure there was at least one near the registers.

Yesterday I also went into a computer store to get a replacement back-up hard drive. I paid attention to the people around me and to what I sought, but I forgot to look for cameras. I am sure they were there but again, they are not meant to be seen, so I did not see them.

Today I noticed another camera at our local grocery store. There may have been more, but once again I stopped looking. It is really hard to pay attention all the time to looking for cameras when I have been not doing so for so many years. Part of my interest in seeing them is that I want to be more aware, not just of the fact that I am being spied on, but also of my environment, whatever it may look like. I want to practice paying attention. There is far too much in my world that I do not see. That makes sense–there is too much around to notice it all–that would simply be overwhelming. But still, I want to see more of what is around me.

I will keep trying to pay attention. I remember sometimes, after all. If I keep trying I will remember to look most of the time. I guess that is the best I might hope for, at least for now. Once I do really notice them I want to be aware enough that I wave to every one. Why not be friendly? Even to strangers trying to spy on me? Can’t hurt, right?

On Camera Again

Recently I was listening to fairly new podcast from National Public Radio, Invisibilia, which I highly recommend if you like good storytelling and thinking of things in new ways. The episode, Our Computers, Ourselves, examined how computers affect human behavior, for good or bad. One of the themes was the ubiquity of computers in our lives. They did not dwell on this as part of the show, but as I drove through the snow on my way to work, my own thoughts kept curling around the idea. I looked up and saw a video camera on a light pole, and I wondered, how many times does a camera take an image of me each day? I don’t live in a city but I also don’t live in the most rural part of Vermont. So, in the largest city in Vermont, a very small city by the standards of most other states, how ubiquitous are cameras?

Since then I have been thinking I should count them. Could I be aware enough to see the cameras that watch us but that we have forgotten are there? I knew that I would have to pay attention, that I would have to start noticing things I no longer see. I figured I would try it out today, knowing that it would be an imperfect experiment to start.

On the way to my destination for the day I passed at least two traffic camera intersections where I assume my image crossed a screen. I tried to pay attention but got lost in whatever I was listening to and didn’t look for cameras once I exited the interstate. I did go to a school this morning, which meant a camera aimed itself at me as I buzzed the front desk. I am guessing I missed some cameras but that is at least three, all of which carried my image twice. So at least six times today I was filmed (I’ll have to work on being careful with that word as there was no actual film involved) and none of those instances were of my own choosing.

I plan to try to keep an eye out for cameras around here as I drive and work and shop and play. I am guessing I will find some in unusual places. At some point I will try to count them all in a period of time (one day? one week?). If nothing else it will be good practice noticing, paying attention, being aware. I may find that there are fewer cameras than I imagine; I may find there are more. Either way, the question–how often am I camera?–is worth asking.

Snow and Camera Practice

The forecast called for snow and we got it. It just came too late. It’s like this. I woke up at 5:30 and looked out the window. It was not snowing. “Oh well,” I said to myself. “No snow day today.” Then I suited up and strapped on my headlamp for an early morning run. By the time I got out there, about 5:50, it was snowing. At mile one it was snowing hard. At mile two it was snowing so hard I could see only about ten feet in front of me. After the turnaround point I was surprised to see, or not see, that my tracks had disappeared already. My thinking by the time I got home? It would be insanity not to have a snow day.

Alas, the decision had already been made. The school to which I was headed to day had decided by about 5:30. So instead of all of us staying home together–family time by the fire, baking cookies, playing outside, reading holiday stories–we all headed to four separate schools. Driving was iffy but we all made it to our respective centers of learning and back without any scratches. That works out better workwise–no work to make up–but a day at home, even if I were working at least part of it, would have been a gift with this head cold of mine.

We got a good deal of snow. Of course, it is now raining, but one can’t ask for too much now can one? On another note, check out these picks my daughter took this afternoon. Maybe you might say they look fuzzy or odd but I say she has a good eye.

Macro of Technology

Self Portrait with Dad

New Camera

I got a new camera, finally, today.  I ordered it on August 22nd from Amazon.  If I signed up for some service I did not want, they would have shipped it within two days.  That free shipping apparently comes with a price now.  It arrived by UPS while I was off working and I found it on the porch when I got home.  Unfortunately I had no time to really check it out.  I opened it and took a photo and set it back on the counter.  Then I worked for a while more before picking my daughter up from school, taking her to the dentist, and then picking up my son.  Then we had dinner to make and dishes to wash and now it just about bed time.  I’ll get to the experimenting soon.

In the meantime here is the photo I snapped this afternoon:

max Zoom with the New Camera

Max Zoom with the New Camera

Compare this to a photo I took this afternoon with the old camera:

Max Zoom with the Old Camera

Max Zoom with the Old Camera

The color isn’t the same since I took the photos several hours apart.  But you can get a sense of the quality of the photo as well as the ability to capture things far away.  I look forward to playing some more.

Slow Camera

For the most part our little camera does the trick.  It is several years old, however, and I would love to update.  Mostly, the shutter delay drives me crazy.  It is really difficult to get some types of shots, even with the various settings the camera offers.  Today, I was with my kids swimming.  I thought I would get some pics of them jumping into the pool.  But I either got this:

Dohp! Too early!

Dohp! Too early!

Or this:

Daah! Too late!

Daah! Too late!

It was kind of a bummer.  My birthday is coming up (although I guess, really, one’s birthday is always coming up) so maybe it’s time to treat myself to a new camera.

When Forgetting Pays Off

 

Visual of the Elusive Critter

Visual of the Elusive Critter

 

Last weekend I drove down to New Hampshire.  When I left on Friday I grabbed two things to pop into a mailbox, one of which was a DVD from Netflix to be returned.  I figured I would pass a mailbox at some point.  I picked up a friend to ride together and, once we got conversing, I totally forgot about the mail.  We arrived at our destination and I had to leave a random object (in this case a tin of mints) in front of the steering wheel to remind me to find a mailbox on the way home.

The tin of mints did its job.  It reminded me that I had left the mail under the seat and dutifully took it out to mail on the way home.  Since my friend and I rode home together again, however, I repeated my forgetfulness on the return journey.  I got home and the mail was still in my possession.  I dropped it in the mailbox to be picked up by our carrier the next day.  It was Sunday.

We had been watching the Indiana Jones series–four in a row was the plan.  We had watched the first three and the most recent, from last year, was on our itinerary for that Sunday.  The children fell asleep and I noticed that the disc I thought was the one we wanted was sealed in its return envelope.  I figured we had sealed it up by mistake and realized that it was the third movie.  I had put the wrong one in the mailbox.  At this point I was thinking how glad I was not to have found a mailbox it after all.  I would have sent away the film we were hoping to see.

So I headed down our long driveway to the mailbox.  It wasn’t dark yet, but it was getting there.  My wife had cut the lawn earlier in the day and I noticed a dark smudge on the edge of the driveway where the grass was newly clipped.  I wondered if she had run over something–some bark or old leaves or some plastic bag type item.  As I got right up to it, however, I realized that it was nothing that the lawnmower had mangled.  It was a snipe.

I had never seen a snipe, but I had seen photographs, and I had seen woodcocks, which look similar.  It is a small bird with a long thin beak, colored to blend in to the grass and about the size of a robin.  I have heard snipes many times and, to be honest, I have seen them in flight, way up against the dim sky.  They have a funky mating display in the spring where they make eerie low whistling noises at the tail ends of the day.  They are either hiding in the grass or too difficult to see clearly, since they fly typically when the light is low.

So I was pretty ecstatic to see one of these puppies.  But it was not alone.  It had a mottled chick, fuzzy and still next to it.  I walked right up to them and they did not move.  Obviously they were working under the camouflage principal–Don’t move and no one will see us since we look just like everything around us.  Good theory, but since they were on the nipped grass, it wasn’t working so well.  I watched them for a while before continuing to the mailbox.

I assumed they would split when I returned but they were still there.  I watched them again for a while and they did not move.  I felt like I would stress them out so I split.  Then I thought I might get a photo, so I dropped the red envelope, picked up my camera and headed back down the driveway.  My spouse was on the phone so she missed out.  It was still there, so I took a couple of poor photos, getting as close as I dared and zooming in with our lame zoom lens as close as it would go.  I took four photographs, all of which, how to say this simply, suck.

By the time my wife was off the phone and tried to find our avian friends, they had decided to find some taller grass.  She was out of luck.  I would say at least I had the photos, but they were not much help.  So the lessons here:

  1. It is OK to forget things sometimes as forgetting may lead one in a direction that offers treasure
  2. Take time to look around
  3. Tell your wife to get off the phone if you see a snipe and its chick hanging out right next to the driveway without moving
  4. Get a better camera

Father’s Day is coming up.  Maybe I will drop some hints about that camera.  The movie, by the way–Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull–was pretty good.  They managed to bring our hero back as a much older man in a believable and fun way.  The story itself may not have been believable but hey, it’s just a movie.

Crocuses, a Camera and Late Driving

I managed to fit in a run today in the middle of the day.  I was working from home but I had worked a 12-hour day yesterday and I figured it was cool to take a couple hours to play.  I ran eleven miles, which I haven’t done in several weeks.  I was tuckered by the time I got back.  I did manage, however, to have a productive work day.

I was overdressed, of course.  It is easy to be so this time of year.  The temperature was 48 degrees and it was windy.  Tights?  A windbreaker?  Could I get away with shorts?  I ended up with tights and a windbreaker, just to be safe.  I had to shed around mile three.  Putting in writing that I wore tights sounds a little foofy.  Tights?  I think of silky dresses when I hear see the word tights.  It is one thing to say it alound but it looks, well, too dainty or something.  But whatever, I wore tights.  Black ones.

I saw flowers.  I had seen coltsfoot recently.  That is the always the first flower of spring.  I saw that in a number of places today.  In some spots it was clustered.  But then I saw crocuses.  Our crocuses are green, but hardly out of the ground.  These were on a hill, in the sun, by the road, and showing off.  At one point I smelled some kind of sweet flowery smell.  It smelled like lilacs but it couldn’t have been lilacs.  It is way too early.  But then, I thought it was early for crocuses.

Once again I wished I had a camera with me.  I have been pondering a new digital point and shoot for a while now.  If I had had a camera with me today I would have captured some of the early spring blooms.  I have been thinking about one of those Olympus jobbers that are waterproof and shockproof.  That is the kind of camera that would do well on a long run.  And wouldn’t it make this blog better, if it were easy to post pics?

In a little while I need to take off.  A friend is coming to visit for a few days.  His flight, like pretty much all flights to Burlington International Airport, comes in about 10:00 PM.  Not many flights arrive at that airport at, say, 4:00 or 5:00.  They arrive at 10:00 or 11:00.  If they are on time.  He called when he stopped for a connection.  It looks like he will be on time.

I will make a stop at the supermarket on the way.  You know, pick up some bread and beer and butter.  B things.  Maybe I will get some beans while I’m at it.  And maybe some ice cream, a flavor that starts with…

Criminy, I’m going to be up too late, and I’m getting loopy already.  Who’s idea was it to run far and work hard and stay up late all in the same day?  It will be chilly by the time I get out of here.  But I won’t be wearing any tights.  Unless I can find that dress with the crocuses on it.  If I do, I’ll make sure to take a picture and post it here next time.  But I’ll probably just go with jeans.