Monday, May 30, 2011

The Ranting of a Mad Farmer, on Memorial Day

I bought a Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS Digital ELPH 12.1 MEGA PIXELS camera this past winter. It cost me about $140, and I've used it to take some of the pictures seen on this blog. I've been quite happy with the camera, in-so-far as the pictures are concerned (though the process of transferring the pictures to my computer is, like most things I come in contact with from the Govt. or Corp. worlds, inhumanly inefficient). Unfortunately, the camera no longer works. It won't take pictures, because the lens won't extend. Lens Error, says the screen. I've taken maybe 500 pictures with the damn thing.

This morning I tried to respond to a comment from a reader of this blog. I couldn't. On my own blog. Another reader recently told me it was a problem to post comments. I have since revamped the comment option. I hope it works. I can only hope.

What both of these issues have in common is, there is no trouble-shooting process. Not a meaningful one, anyway. recently deleted posts across the network, to fix something. The word from Google was, basically, 'we're on it.' A more paranoid mind might have thought it a pre-courser for a sweep by the Office of Homeland Security, or some such invasion. Those of us who blog simply had to wait, and assume the problem would be fixed. It was, evidently. Will Google fix the problem that would not allow me to comment on my own blog, that made it difficult for readers to comment? Not likely, as there is no real way for me to tell them there is problem, Google is so large. Unless this is a problem for all's. I assume otherwise I would have to have a personal friend within the Google inner circle, to have any hope of being heard. And really, what does Google care, unless the problem effects Google profits?

As for Canon, it's a curious business model, to build a thing poorly, and then make the remedy for problems effectively impossible, or so egregiously time consuming that any remedy isn't worth the effort. To be fair to Canon, I don't know this yet to be true, but I'm betting it will be. The question is, should I assume this will be the case with every camera I might buy from a giant corporation? With anything I buy from any Corporation? I bought a 4.0 mega pixel camera for my mother years ago, for $400. It worked. What's the point of 12 mega pixels at $140 if the camera doesn't function, or I have to buy three to find one that works longer than six months? A curious business model, but effective apparently, as Canon was 216 on Fortune Mag's 2010 list of the worlds largest companies. They do a lot more than make cameras.

My Samsung phone has never really worked like it was meant to. None of the three alarms works, and people tell me with some regularity that they tried to call, and left a message, though the phone never rang, nor did it tell me there was a message. Does Samsung care? Verizon? It is an absurdity even to ask the question.

My point with this rant is, I guess, that life in this high-tech age is basically an act of faith. Because little we are told about it, generally, is true. I have come to have more faith in my potatoes, of which I planted about 100 today, later than I might have, but they will be fine. It was the post I wanted to write, with pics; but I awoke late, because the sun wasn't shining for the tenth (or so) day in a row, one of the three phone alarms I set was going off, but it wasn't making any sound, and then I found that it wasn't a battery-charge problem with my camera, and then I spent a god-damn hour trying to comment on my own blog. I have come to feel there is a great deal more certainty in my potato patch than there is in any Corporation, or any product created by a corporation, esp. the more high tech the gadget. Properly cared for, I will plant the descendants of these eight varieties of potatoes fifty years from now; someone else, perhaps hundreds of years from now. My new fancy camera is a hunk of trash, except that it is probably full of rare Earth elements, the extraction of which is likely a great sorrow to some people, somewhere.

(Last night I dreamt about flying, waking several times and falling back asleep to practice flying. Then I dreamt about running a long distance, and then woke to ask myself why I didn't just fly? Then I dreamt about working with women, to assure the health of the Earth.)

I planted the potatoes I wanted to plant today, and then I called my father who is a veteran, and then I road my bike to the liquor store to purchase my first ever sample of mead. Bottled near here in Chisago City, MN. I bottled my own wine I made last fall, from the grapes on my sister's fence, Thursday. I have several grape cuttings partially buried in the yard. The future vineyard, though I'd have to take down at least one city tree to make 30-40 bottles a functioning reality. I need to check in with the city soon. They're after me again. I didn't ask permission to tear up part of my driveway for the orchard.

I found a patch of edible oyster mushrooms growing on a mulberry stump, when I was weeding the raspberries of menace morning glory seedlings. I cut the mulberry in the spring of 2006. I ate one mushroom, even though in my less inspired days I poured 2-cycle motor oil in holes I drilled in the stump, to kill the tree, on the advice of a Mexican I knew. It didn't work, the motor oil, as the mulberry has sprouted several new shoots this year. The oysters work well. Paul Stamets at has advocated the use of oyster mushrooms in the clean up of certain waste sites, the fungi breaking down chemical bonds of hydro-carbons, etc. I didn't know it was a mulberry when I cut it. Not all mulberry are created equal, and I generally prefer the raspberries, strawberries and the asparagus that thrive in the opening created (though I know at least one female Goddess worshiping singer song-writer, who brews a fine drink from mulberry). I'm letting a different mulberry grow on a different spot on the fence, there at least until it fruits.

I'll try to take a picture of the oysters with my unreliable phone in the morning. I finished the mead (and the cookie is on the wane). I'll have to sample others, to gain perspective, at some future point. Though I'm thinking I should get some bees. For now, I'm off to the fridge, for a Magic Hat Wacko summer seasonal, from finish the post, and the night (I'd like to grow some hops on the garage, which I'd like to turn into a greenhouse - but that's yet only a dream).

(And Google lost the post when I tried to publish. Good thing I manually copied it. And I really wanted to add a link to Paul Stamets site, but Google won't insert it.)

*** I took pictures of the mushrooms with my phone Tuesday morning. But when I hooked my phone up to my computer, and the software app V-Cast Media Manager (Verizon), I made the crucial mistake of allowing the update. With the updated software, my computer will no longer recognize that my phone is hooked up to it, and Verizon's V-Cast Media Manager does not seem to recognize that this phone, which I am paying Verizon $80+ a month to maintain, even exists. As for Canon, I never even received an automated email response to my support email. Because, clearly, to Verizon and Canon, me and my cheap-ass gadgets don't matter.


Candice said...

Yes, I too get frustrated with technology. It's funny how it's supposed to make our lives easier, but in many ways it only makes it more complex. The increasing complexity of today's world and technology coupled with the capitalistic structure of our society causes poor quality of both technology and tech support. Products are actually made to break down within a specific period of time (planned obsolescence) so you keep buying new ones. Companies have to keep cutting costs to stay afloat so they use cheaper and less durable materials, and hire people from other countries who barely speak English to help us with our troubleshooting issues who have just as much knowledge as we do about our product. Many great things can and have come from technological advances, but our profit and growth motive has severely impaired it.

Thardiust said...

You might like this article I found off of Ran Prieur's blog since, it sums up today’s technology problems from a psychological perspective.

William Hunter Duncan said...


I agree with you that our "profit and growth motives" actually impede our technological process, by foisting on us mountains of next to useless technological gadgets, that do little more than increase our narcissism, nihilism and sense of separation.


You always have the most apropos links. I've long been suspicious of Franzens New York intellectualism, but he's speaking truth here, which I needed to hear. Though I profoundly disagree with the bedrock principle of our Age, that nature is indifferent to us, as if we and all we are is not of the Universe. Another deluded symptom of our sense of isolation and separation.


barefoot gardener said...

Yes, yes, and yes.

It BUGS me that things are made to break, made to not be fixed, made to be junk so soon after purchase. When I buy something, I don't wanna have to worry about buying it again for a looooong time!

Oh. I forgot. Hi, I'm Barefoot Gardener, and I have been lurking for a while. I dig what you're doing to your place. I love that you actually are living in the CITY and doing it! The coolest part is that you don't live in some southern city where you can grow stuff darn near all year 'round. You live by me, up here in the Frozen North! Kudos. Seriously.

William Hunter Duncan said...

Barefoot Gardener,

Thanks for the support. I checked out your blog. Fun. Though I think of the suburbs as purgatory. And yeah, I get down sometimes too. Like the last two weeks, with so little sun. Drear. And that unfriendly wind today, like a portent.

You've been lurking? Not so sure about that crazy man? Glad you came out and showed me where you place those bare feet. Blessings to you, your Mr Barefoot and the two Sprouts. Hope to hear from you again.


Ric said...

I used to be a programmer/analyst, but got out of the biz about five years ago. There were numerous reasons, but one was the new programming paradigm that users don't matter; just push something, anything out the door as quickly as possible, then fix on failure. And, in the case of Google or Facebook and the like, if anyone complains, point out that it's not like they're paying for it. And even when they are paying for it, what are the users going to do? Rip out everything, purchase software from a competitor, rebuild every company procedure and retrain their entire staff? When I got into programming, having code fail at a customer site was a firing offense. Now it's just BAU.

As to Canon, I have not had personal experience with them, but I know from several pro photographers that use their equipment that they generally are very fast to make things right even when the problem with the camera was the result of it being dropped off a cliff. I would encourage you to give them a shot. The large camera companies still have that old-fashioned idea that customers and brand-loyalty matter.

On the other hand, I've never had a cell phone that functioned properly and neither the service provider or the manufacturer will even pretend to care. They are junk from the start intended to last the length of the contract then self-destruct and wind up either contaminating our groundwater in a landfill or shipped across the Pacific where they are burned in open pits attended to by children to extract the metals.

And your blog is awesome. Good luck in your continuing struggles with the local government and enjoy the potatoes!

William Hunter Duncan said...


Thanks for the insight, and the friendly words. I Still haven't heard from Canon, though I haven't pushed it. My next move is to bring it to the Behemoth I once worked for, which I purchased the camera from.

I'm actually thinking of getting rid of my cell phone. That seems like heresy in this age, but I'm trying to construct my life in such a way that I won't really need one. I'm sure I'll be happier without it. That said, I'm thinking of the constant deluge of tele-marketers, when I still had a house phone.