Want to see something truly horrifying? Pull the drapes and put the kids to bed, because we’ve got head wounds!
Besides that, I promise I do have more photographs from my trip that are a bit more pleasant. I have pictures of the ocean and a rooster and cars churning through flooded streets. I don’t have as many pictures as I would like to have, however, as I managed to drop my camera in the ocean. The explanation of how that happened dates back to last August, perhaps as far back as January.
You see, in late August my friend Shane and I decided to hike Mount Bachelor to go snowboarding. As we trudged up the slopes (we decided to trudge) friendly people shouted encouraging words at us from the chairlift, speaking optimistically of how much snow there was on the mountain in August, and informing us of how large a bunch of douche bags we really were.
It was nice of them to say such inspirational things. There is something about chairlifts that will always turn regular people into loud-mouth cock suckers the second they leave the ground. It’s not as obvious during the winter because people must jeer into their coats to avoid frostbite, but when muscle shirts, chairlifts and the baked glory of August come together, an irresponsible social hell hangs from suspended cables.
Despite commentary, Shane and I found plenty of snow, and we hiked the crater a number of times so we could keep making turns. On one trip down I noticed something buried in the snow, so I hopped up to it. I found a digital camera laying in the snowfield and it looked like it had seen a rough life. The lens was beaded up with condensation and the camera body had rusty edge marks running down its length. Nevertheless, I tossed it in my pocket (the pocket of my board shorts, cuz hell if I was gonna snowboard in August in anything but board shorts) and took it off the mountain. Leave no trace, I always say.
I tried turning the camera on after getting it home, and nearly jumped out of my skin when it started making horrible noises. The battery was obviously powering something, but it didn’t sound like it was anything good. Nevertheless, I opened the camera and left out to dry. A few weeks later I powered it up again, and was greeted with what looked like a fully functioning camera. The lens opened, the LCD screen lit up and it was ready to go.
As soon as I tried to take a picture the battery died. Crap. My interest now piqued, I invested $30 in a battery charger and started to juice that baby up. In the meantime I removed the flash card from the camera and hooked it up to my computer, first to see if it worked, second to see if it had any pictures, and third to see if I could figure out whose camera it was.
The flash card worked, and it was full of pictures that seemed to document a father and son’s trip to Portland, the Gorge and Mount Hood Meadows. The last picture showed a bluebird day near the summit of Mount Bachelor, on the exact slope where I found the camera.
Something wasn’t right. There was far too much snow on the Sisters. There was way too much winter for this camera to have been dropped in August, or even July for that matter. The people were completely bundled up. There was snow in Warm Springs. There was snow on the Hood River Toll Bridge. Why, one picture even showed the two of them golfing in snow, in Portland.
From what I could fathom, I assumed that the camera had been sitting on Bachelor since January, eight months before I found it. When the battery finished charging I fired her up, and after a few minor protests she started working perfectly.
Amazing. How perfectly, you may ask? Well, you’ve already seen its pictures. Anything in the Photolog since September has been taken with a digital camera that probably sat in a snowfield for eight months.
At first I honestly did want to find the owners, poured over their photos to see if I could figure out who they were, and I found a video that they had recorded at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. When I played it back the audio was garbled, and at first I thought the video was corrupted, or playing backwards, or something. I watched the video a number of times and it slowly dawned on my that there was nothing wrong wrong with it, that the words I couldn’t understand were in Russian.
Having evaporated the possibility of reuniting camera and owner, I adopted it as my own. And like most foster parents, I beat the hell out of it. One day I threw my coat on the railing for the stairs to the basement, and a few seconds later heard a loud CA-THUNK, THUNK, THUNK, patter… My new camera had dropped out of my pocket, fallen ten feet and bounced down the remaining hardwood steps. Miraculously, it still worked.
Another day I took the camera mountain biking. After launching over the handlebars and rolling a few times I took it out, only to discover that the LCD screen was shattered. I was sure that this would be the final blow to my new camera, but Shane took it apart, Googled the part number for the screen, and found a camera forum that listed replacement information, prices, even phone numbers for the parts center.
I ordered a new screen and it showed up in the mail three days later. I carefully finished taking the camera apart (carefully meaning I lost half the screws in my carpet, and the ones I kept I failed to make note of where in the camera they came from) and replaced the shattered LCD screen with a fresh one. Again, when I booted the camera up it worked just fine.
Hardly satisfied and never responsible, I snuck the camera along to the lawless country of Baja California Sur. In preparation for my trip I had picked up a new flash card, bringing my total digital photo storage up to approximately 500 pictures. One morning in Baja, with thoughts and good ideas still leaking out the back of my head, I decided to go out for a spin in the kayak.
I got the kayak launched and everything, but after I clammored aboard I realized that I had been standing in waist-deep water. This wouldn’t have been a problem, except that my camera was in the pocket of my board shorts. Despite intuition to the contrary, salt water is not good for electronics, and a digital camera that has been immersed in salt water does not take photographs, and instead makes terrible hissing noises.
I took the camera back to my casita and washed it off in the sink, figuring I couldn’t do any worse than I already had. I removed the battery and flash card and washed them as well, figuring everyone could do with a playful bit of Montezuma’s Revenge. Over the next week I let the camera dry out (its lens was filled with beads of condensation, after all) and charged the battery, but nothing I did could bring her back to life.
Now that I’m back from vacation I plan on completely taking the camera apart and cleaning it, but this time around I really feel like it is the end. Of course, I’ve felt that at least five times before, too, and the damn thing always manages to pull through. We’ll see what happens.
In case you’re interested, the tough little guy is a Canon PowerShot S400. They no longer make the S400 model, not after that one got possessed by demons and went on a four-day killing rampage. If you can find an S400, I promise that it’s the perfect gift for the retard in your life.