November 5th, 2006

My New Camcorder
By James Castwell


So much for a narrative hook opening. Okay, this is about a new gadget I just bought. As we were dodging Seattle liquid sunshine (rain) Thursday evening on the way to our car from the front doors of Best Buy, she said, " Boy, that sure doesn't look like a new kitchen stove to me!" Right. That was my wife as she was getting into her side of our car. Well, for that matter, the small yellow plastic bag didn't look like a super-dandy fly rod to me either. But it cost as much.

Like a lot of my life, accidents shape most of it. This time it started as a gift. A most generous one from Ron Tidd. It was his old Sony 'Handycam' Video8. These things came out several years ago and are still workhorses. They use an inexpensive little tape to record picture and sound on. You can even record over your stuff and edit and all sorts of neat features. For those of you that really need to know, it is the CCD-TRV40.

The only problem was this. When he brought it over to our house and was showing me how to use it right before the Idaho Fish-In, it didn't work. Well, at least not right away it didn't. After a few interesting minutes of button poking and intensely peering at, it started to run. I told Ron that I was most grateful but didn't know squat about the things. Where's the manual? That was one of my more dumb questions. Of course, he had no idea where it was. But, I was a smart guy and he was sure I could figure it out.

I took it to (after buying two new tapes for it) the Idaho Fish-In and got a volunteer to shoot twenty-two minutes of footage before the battery pooped out. I dug the handycam out a couple of days ago and told the LF that I should go down to Chico Creek and film those Chum Salmon that would be jamming the creek about now. Great idea we agreed. I spent half a day and at least figured out how to perform the basics of 'Handycaming.' So, off to the creek I went.

Perfect. Raining like a cow pee'in on a flat rock. Windshield wipers on full blast. Almost missed my turn off of the freeway. I knew I would have fish. I did. Shot almost a whole battery full of fish jumping and cavorting and shoving and jostling.

Once home, with no small degree of accomplishment, I opened the side flap on the camera and was about to proudly show my wife how great a guy she had married. The camcorder quit. No, not quite right. It would not start up. Nothing doing in that department. Oh, it would turn on and I could see thru it, make it zoom, that was usually fun, but not right then. I wanted it to play, to go, forward, re-wind, something that goes around. It refused.

The great Castwell mind came to the forefront. Ah ha, heat. Find the hair dryer. So I opened it all up and blew gentle warm air in it and at it and thru it and up it. Nothing. Dead. I had killed it.

No! What is that little symbol on the screen? There, at the bottom? I even asked her to look at it. Hey, it looks like one of those stupid little batteries, those flat quarter sized things. Does it have one? Where is it? Did it poop out? Could be! I got lucky. I found it. Still time, I can make town before dinner hits the table. The grocery store had the battery, less than five bucks. On the way home (as I was almost going right by it) I whipped into Wally-World. Just to take a quick peek at what the new ones looked like and cost. I even called her from there so she wouldn't worry that I was a few minutes late. These new ones are almost cheap! Three-fifty and you have a pretty good one. But, not tonight. I was a good boy and went on home. And when I put that new battery in, the little symbol went away. Whoopie! But, it still did not go.

Over dinner we (I) got around to discussing the fact that we (FAOL) really should start to try to put more films on line. Most people have Flash or such and faster internet connections these days. Probably about time to make the leap. Blasted shame that stupid camcorder died. And with that footage of the salmon on it too.

You know how an idea can gnaw at you. Like an itch. You can ignore it all you want, but until you deal with it, it will not be denied. I hit the Internet and looked up Sony camcorders. Big surprise. They still make them. A telephone call verified that Wally did not have them on sale, but Best Buy did. By seven in the evening we were there. Now I had it all figured out. I wanted one that would record onto a DVD, one of the miniature ones, and not a tape or such.

Sony DCR-SP40

They were nice and the price was alright and you could record over them a few times, but it would cost you in quality. And in DVD discs too. Whoa. Hold on thar! I could see ongoing expenses and varying quality. Not what I was after. But, guess again. They make one that records into a buffer and then onto its own thirty gig hard drive. And it's only a couple of hundred bucks more too. And on sale. A Sony DCR-SR40. At this point I have got about six-fifty stuck in it. Just about the price of a good rod or a new stove actually.

So, once again, I step up to the plate and hit one for the company (deductible) but, no new fly rod for me and no new stove for mama. Below are a few shots of the creek and the fish and of us, taking some pictures. There is no fishing allowed right here, but about a thousand feet out toward the estuary you can and a lot do. Spinning rods and fly rods. We'll try and hit it this week. The Chum salmon are good eating, but smoking seems to be the best way to enjoy them.

Access sign

Fish in Creek

JC with camcorder

LadyFisher filming

Before I wrap this up, I should mention that last evening I spent a couple of hours learning how to run the new camera. When I plugged in the charger, same outlet as the old camcorder, I heard a faint sound. A noise. A hum. A hum from the old camcorder! The *&$^# thing was running. I pushed one of the other buttons. It re-wound. It went forward. It played. It was fine.

leaping salmon

My life is complicated sometimes. Maybe I can teach her how to make films of me making films of other stuff. Who knows. Accidents can happen. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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