Wherever the Road Leads


I bought a new camera. Not a fancy one… today’s equivalent of point-and-shoot. It’s a Canon, and I’m pleased it’s a Canon.

I very seldom pay attention to advertising. I got rid of TV and watch commercial-free Netflix. For years, I haggled until I got the price I wanted from Sirius/XM so that I didn’t have to listen to terrestrial radio and its commercials. One has to wonder just how much longer not just terrestrial radio but also Sirius/XM will survive with the wireless internet radio services that are out there.

Jango, Pandora, LastFM, Slacker Radio are all, for the most part, commercial-free and allow you to create your own radio station, or choose from the pre-built genres. More and more vehicles come with the Bluetooth feature that makes it possible to pull Jango or Pandora to your phone then output it to your vehicle’s stereo.

When my truck was in the shop a few years ago after I hit a deer, I had a little Chevrolet rental car. It didn’t have the Bluetooth feature but it had an audio input jack. Same thing: I fired up Jango on my phone and ran a cord from the phone’s earphone jack to the car’s input jack. Worked like Jack the Bear. (Myrna:¬†Jacques l’ours.) No commercials.

I manage to ignore most of the clickable commercial links when surfing the web. Though the content providers – Yahoo, Fox et al – are getting slyer. Usually it’s when you click to watch a video, you are forced to watch a 15 to 30 second video commercial before they will show the video you wanted to see. Well, there isn’t anything that I need to see badly enough to endure a commercial of any length. Click, bye bye.

One of my favorite television programs over the years has been PBS’ “Nature”. The program is commercial free, save a ten-second blurb that the program is made possible by Canon. So when the need came to purchase a new camera, I wanted to support the people who brought me “Nature”.

My previous digital camera had been a Kodak. Whenever possible, I like to “buy American”. As well, I had worked in Rochester, NY, for a while and over the years have run into a number of people from Rochester New York and we have discussed the demise of the two major Rochester employers, Kodak and Xerox.

Kodak – and photographs as we knew them – appear to have been a twentieth-century phenomenon. BrownieHolidayWe have all seen sepia-colored photographs and prints of our great-grandmothers, new inventions like trams, the unsinkable Titanic and the motor car. For many, their first camera was a “Brownie”. I first got involved with photography on a high school, European tour, where I borrowed my father’s single lens reflex camera. As I was measuring light, distance and f-stops, eventually missing the shot, the rest of the group had snapped the scene with their DCF 1.08mmInstamatics and had returned to conversation.

Our family moved on to Ektachrome and slide photography. Then later, 8 millimeter film captured people in motion. Along came the Polaroid camera and instant gratification, instead of taking your exposed roll of film to the drug store to be developed.

Finally, along came digital photography and the demise of Kodak, and Rochester New York. On a cruise recently, I asked a fellow traveler who had lived in Rochester all her life why Kodak had not tried to keep up with the digital age? Correctly so, she replied that Kodak is a chemical company. Cameras were merely the vehicle to sell their chemicals.

We don’t sit and pore through family albums these days. We don’t even look forward to a roll of film being returned from the Wal-Mart one-hour film lab. I wonder if those who put Kodak out of business are struggling themselves as smart phone cameras offer higher and higher resolutions, eliminating the need for a stand-alone camera.

Another medium becoming redundant and obsolete is newspapers. telegram So much up-to-the-minute content is available on-line or the 24-hour news channels, it’s hard for a once-daily newspaper to keep current. Even cartoons can be read on-line and craigslist has all but done away with Want Ads.

Advertising, also, is being diverted away from the newspapers, with retailers delivering emails and texts directly to smart phones. More than once have I held my phone up to a cashier to receive a discount from a coupon that typically would have been clipped from a newspaper. I hate to see anyone lose his job, however, still lamenting the demise of the ultra-conservative Toronto Telegram, I cannot say that I will be sorry to see any of these liberal rags shutter their doors.

A few years back, the cat had knocked my Kodak refurbished digital camera off the counter top and I needed a new camera to cruise on the Queen Victoria through the Caribbean. The closest discount retailer to me is Target, so there I went, hoping to support “Nature” by purchasing a Canon camera. However, there’s brand loyalty and there’s being Scottish.

Target had a Nikon on special, $166 marked down to $122. It was more than I had wanted to pay but it turned out the only one left was the display model which the clerk let me have for half-price, given that he couldn’t find the box, the carrying strap, the manual or the USB cord. Scottish heritage: 1. PBS’ “Nature”: 0. Sorry , Canon.

The camera has served me well enough, especially after I ordered a USB cord on-line for under $5, but it has always been like the expression, “When you don’t like the slacks, it’s easy to spot the stain.” I really wanted a Canon.

Recently, my Nikon bought the farm. After installing new batteries, the battery/SD card door would not shut properly. To take a picture, I had to hold the door closed. But each time I lost connection, the camera had to be set up again, making it virtually impossible to get a good shot, one handed, of the set of Hat Boxes that I was trying to sell on craigslist. Time for a Canon.

Well over a year ago, I had been given a $100 gift card from the G.M. of our Office Depot distribution center. I had been hanging onto the card, eventually wanting to get a new laptop. However, with a Winnders 7 desktop computer, a Linux Mint desktop computer, a Raspberry Pi mini computer, a revitalized abandoned computer running Ubuntu Server, an older Motorola Droid smart phone to run Netflix to a television, my first HTC smartphone running Jango to my stereo PLUS a never-used Toshiba laptop running Vista, I figured that the gift card could be put to better use.

I am in the middle of No Man’s Land, when it comes to Office Depot stores. There is one store forty-eleven miles in one direction and another store forty-eleven miles in the opposite direction. On-line, I found the $100 Canon camera that I wanted then called a store to see if they had one in stock. After an eternity, he returned and said, no, but he could order one for me. Okay, I went for that.

However, I said, there’s a slight glitch as I want to use a Gift Card to pay. No problem, he said with the best of intentions. Well, there were problems as he had never processed this type of transaction before. After an additional eternity of asking me questions then checking with someone else, the transaction, he told me, was complete, the camera would be delivered to my door the next day.

“Delivered… as in to the house, not to y’all’s store?”

“Yes, sir, that’s correct.”

“Well, that’s wonderful, thank you!”

Wait a minute, I said, the camera was $100, plus 7% sales tax and the card was worth $100 as well. “No, sir, because of the inconvenience and your wait, we worked it out so that $100 covered the camera and the sales tax.”

Now, when I have shopped and haven’t gotten as much as a grunt out of a Canadian cashier, I find it hard to believe that I would get consideration like this at Canadian Tire. Yah gotta love the South.

Next time you watch “Nature”, you can thank me.

The Hat Boxes are still for sale. Probably the crappy picture.

Hat Boxes, Decorative, Fancy Set of 5 – $12 (Bethlehem)


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