Ice and Kinglets

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It wasn’t winter, but it did feel cold. The sun was low, but still high enough for an afternoon walk. The light was sharp and the shadows were deep. The woods had the feel of calm, ready for winter to hang out for a while. Leaves rustled under my feet. Wind blew in bare ash branches. Tall grasses shone golden.

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I was looking for Rusty Blackbirds. Maybe some would be around, picking through leaves in the wet understory. None were around. I did find quite a few Chickadees. Some crows flew overhead. The bird of the afternoon was the Brown Creeper I finally spotted, creeping, of course, up a maple trunk.

Around the back side of the loop I heard Golden Crowned Kinglets. They trilled their soft calls all around me, hidden. I waited. I watched. I looked for movement. I didn’t see any. And then I did. I got just a quick glimpse of one, its black mask metaphoric of its stealthiness.  Not far from there, White Throated Sparrows, or so I thought, called. They stayed hidden in the brown shrubs.

I warmed up after a while, comfortable by the end of my slow couple of miles. I saw few birds, but a chipmunk squeaking away from me, and a red squirrel carrying a beech nut into a hole hollowed out by a Pileated Woodpecker. Looking for birds means paying attention. The river slid by, cold and powerful. The pond tried to thaw out, its morning skim of ice almost gone, but likely to come back tonight. The trail, closed in like a tunnel in summer, was open and new.

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I looped around to the car, watching for those sparrows, but they stayed hidden. I headed into town to pick up my daughter and her friends, the heat a little higher than when I started, my mind a little clearer. Fall, that is what I found. I will find my Rusty Blackbirds another day.

Looking Out for Cameras

I posted last week about how I have been interested in finding security and surveillance cameras in my community. My question has been this: how often are images of me taken without my permission or even my knowledge? I have been trying to pay attention to these stealthy cameras around me this week and I feel like I have done a pretty good job. Below is an update. To clarify a few things, I am only looking for cameras that might see me. Any that I know about that are nearby but not close enough to capture an image of me do not count. I also only count each camera once. If I pass by the same camera again the same day I don’t count it again. I do count separate cameras on their own, however. For example, I count each camera at an intersection when I get captured; if I head out and then back I count cameras pointed in both directions.

Monday

I worked at home most of the day but went into town to get some groceries. I made only one stop.

Traffic cameras: 6
Grocery store cameras: 15

Total cameras: 21

Tuesday

I went into the office, which is monitored by security cameras. I parked in a parking garage, also monitored. I stopped to get gas and did not go inside.

Traffic cameras: 9
Office building cameras: 7
Parking garage cameras: 3
Gas station cameras: 2

Total cameras: 21

Wednesday

I had a meeting a good distance away, at Jay Peak Resort. I stopped at a gas station to use the restroom.

Traffic cameras: 10
Gas station cameras: 7
Jay Peak Resort cameras: 15
Additional interstate traffic cameras: 4

Total cameras: 36

Thursday

I went to a school for my work with students. I stopped for a cup of coffee at a convenience store.

Traffic cameras: 14
School camera: 1
Convenience store cameras: 7

Total cameras: 22

Now some of these are duplicated on multiple days. I take the same route two days in a row, for example, so the traffic cameras are ones I might have passed the day before, but this tallies up to at least 100 times I have been on camera in the past four days, not including cameras I may have walked past more than once. I will keep my eye out the rest of the week, as well as next week. I have a pretty varied schedule over those days and will be in many different places, so it could be interesting.

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?