Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Great Camera Caper

For those who are regular readers, you already know the long, sad story of my battle with cameras since leaving the USA in July.  For the sake of newer readers, however, I'll go ahead and summary the whole story, rather than just starting with the conclusion.

So, here is the "bullet point" version of my long-lasting camera escapades:

  • When packing to leave the USA, I had the hindrance of having to first move everything from Virginia to Michigan.  Because of that, some things got hopelessly lost.  Among those hopelessly lost items were both my universal camera battery charger and the cords to connect either of my digital cameras to my computer (in lieu of the charger, the cord would actually have sufficed for charging the cameras, so really I could have gotten by with just one cord).  So, no way to charge the cameras and no way to access the pictures on the cameras.  Hoping optimistically that I would be able to find a charger and cord in China for at least one of the cameras, I went ahead and packed both cameras.
  • Once I arrived in China, I discovered that no, cords could not be found, nor could acceptable chargers.  So, I now had two completely useless digital cameras.
  • I spent a ridiculous sum ordering the appropriate cord for my Cybershot off of Amazon.  It took a while for it to clear customs and make it to me, but once it finally did . . . I learned that it was for a later model than the one I have.  So, still two useless cameras.
  • I attempted again at some different stores to see if I could find the necessary cord for at least one of the cameras in China -- no luck.  I felt saddened and a bit covetous every time a friend whipped out her camera to snap pictures of all of the beautiful and new things we were seeing and experiencing in those first months.
  • I did considerable research into the best cameras for my purposes and went ahead and ordered a new camera off of Amazon.  I figured that it would prove to be worth the investment, since both the amount of megapixels and the zoom were so much higher than either of my cameras.  I awaited the arrival of my new camera in eager anticipation of the wonderful photos I would soon be able to take . . . 
  • Chinese customs kidnapped my new camera.
  • Weeks passed . . . 
  • I filled out forms, sent copies of everything from the sales slip to a copy of my passport, and even had our school receptionist do a bit of begging and beseeching on my behalf. 
  • More weeks passed . . .
  • Finally after paying a ridiculous ransom (they called it a customs fee), I received my new camera.  The first days in China were long past, but at least I could finally catch up on photo-taking . . . or could I?
  • The new camera, as it turned out, did not come with an SD card.  The internal memory could only store up to twelve photos.  
  • I went to the electronics stores around town, only to learn that none of them carried the type of SD card that my new camera required.  I now had two completely useless cameras and one partially useless one.
  • I felt like weeping as time after time, I had the privilege of traveling to various places throughout China (Hwangdao, Beijing, Weihai, Penglai, Weifang, Shenyang), only to be unable to capture any of it on film.  So many special moments had to go completely unrecorded.  I was able to get some photos from friends, but it just wasn't the same.
  • Months passed . . . 
  • The first semester of school ended . . .
  • On my daytrip down to Gyeongju, I stopped at an electronics store that has a reputation for having everything.  I asked for an SD card, showed them the camera, they got out an SD card for me . . . and it was the wrong size.  The two salesmen informed me that I would have to get it online.
  • Here in Seoul, I decided to put forth one last effort.  I went to an E-Mart, figuring that I would once again be disappointed.  Even when the salesman handed me the SD card and I payed for it, I was still convinced that it would turn out to be the wrong one and I would have to return it.  At a Starbucks, with considerable trepidation, I inserted the card into the camera . . . and it fit.  At last, I had a digital camera that I could use!  Overjoyed, I began to mentally plan out where I could go to start experimenting, at long last, with my wonderful new camera that finally was usable . . .
  • The battery died.  
  • I left the charger in China.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"