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16 Kilometers in Under 1:17, Picking Fruit and Stupidly Messing Up Camera

To start with the bad, dad asked for the camera last week, I believe Thursday, and when he brought it back, Saturday, he said the screen wasn’t displaying anything when trying to take pictures anymore. That day had started a bit worryingly, with the UPS waking me up by clicking multiple times early in the morning again, but since now I can check I saw that it just reported the battery passing a self-test, so it seemed fine. The camera did not, on the other hand, since my initial assumption, that the batteries were simply very low, since that happened to me quite a few times as well but always under those circumstances, was proven wrong when I replaced the batteries and nothing changed.
Tried changing batteries a few more times, shaking it a bit, pressing a few buttons, obviously not including the correct one, and eventually concluded that some link between the sensor and the display had somehow failed. The fact that dad said he had given it to someone to take some pictures and got it back like that also led me to that conclusion, thinking that said other person had perhaps damaged it somehow. So I started looking and found an offer for another that I rushed to order Monday evening, after opening the old one and not finding anything I could do. Not that I took it apart too much, only removing the case, the screws I saw on the back and some of those on the front, and pulling away the display and the PCBs as much as I could without disconnecting anything, as at the time I didn’t even know that some of those strips could be disconnected. Must say that, for something that’s 11 and a half years old, it does look surprisingly nice inside, without dirt or rust that I could spot.
The problem is that some bits fell out when I opened it, and there’s nothing I can do about the two screw mounts that broke. It is possible that they were already broken though, so they weren’t holding the case before either, and I managed to put one back when I put it back together the last time, just to have it there where it should be, the screw just holding it in place. Not sure where the tiny washer that ended up falling when I first removed the back of the case came from though, and no way to make it stay in the place I think it may be from. On the other hand, Tuesday night I did finally find something showing me where the larger piece that fell after I first moved aside the PCBs was from and I opened the camera again Wednesday to put it back, so I believe everything should be fine inside. However, those broken screw mounts and the fact that clamps probably loosened a bit since I opened it likely mean that it’s less insulated now, so using it in the rain again will probably be an even worse idea than it was the few times I did it so far.
But the worst part about it all is that I didn’t need to do any of it! Somebody, possibly the person dad gave it to, had just pressed the button to turn off the display! It’s quite likely that it was done by accident, but dad didn’t know about it and, since I don’t turn off the display, it never crossed my mind that it was a possibility either. There’s a button that does that and there’s a clear label under it, but I just didn’t think to try to press it… Until I did so by accident, as I was trying the camera with the case still off, Tuesday, to see that it still worked before putting the case back on, and I couldn’t quite remember which button was which for a moment, as I was pressing them directly on the PCB. So I ended up accidentally pressing that button and the display suddenly worked again, making me feel like a stinking pile of shit for taking it apart and damaging it, or at least worsening some existing damage, out of sheer stupidity, when none of it was in any way necessary.
Did ask dad whether I should cancel the order under those circumstances, especially since the new camera is just some cheap “toy” that I won’t have much use for, but he told me to leave it, even if this strains the available funds to the limit, making me give everything I still had set aside while he also puts more than he intended to. It’d be funny if it wouldn’t be so annoying that when we thought this was broken he told me to look for one around 200 RON (about $50 or €43), when the cheapest ones I can find around here, on sale, are just under 350 RON. But I remember how frustrating it was to get him to buy this one back in 2006 too, when he was pointing to some that were about 350 RON in some offer and saying those are cameras too, what’s wrong with them, while I recall this one being 700 RON or so, including the memory card. Tuesday he actually kept trying to tell me that it’s impossible he’d have spent that much on a camera, it must have been around 300 RON, as he never would have spent much more and never will, saying he’ll see if he can still find the invoice for it to prove it, with me challenging him to do just that before I looked up archived sites of stores and found just this package, with this memory card included, for just under 650 RON (about $256 or €194 at the time, if the information I found is correct) in December of 2006. And we bought it no later than in September, so it could have been more then.
The thing is that this camera that I ordered seems to be just what he had occasionally been asking me to look for, a small and simple camera that will just be somewhat better than a cheap phone without requiring him to play with settings or learn much of anything. But, just like nearly all others still on the market, it doesn’t use regular batteries, so if its battery runs out when you’d still want to use it you’re out of luck, plus that the capacity of its battery will obviously degrade in a few years. And, from what I can see, it doesn’t allow manual control of the shutter speed, and pretty much all those pictures taken after dark, at protests or other events, plus the occasional ones I take of the night sky or out the window at night, were done with manual settings. Sure, I assume it will take significantly better pictures than this old one on automatic settings, but I doubt it’ll be good enough to be of much use to me in the dark, which is when I’ve been using this one more often than not. And of course that when I pointed this out to him he said we’ll get a better one for me later too if he’ll be left with this one I just ordered, but when I told him how much the one I was looking at costs he said that’s out of the question, yet at the same time kept saying it’s not anything to be concerned about and there’s no reason for me to be down because of it. The thing is that, while now it’s much more, I see that the SX540 was 799 RON (about $188 or €177 at the time, again if the information I found is correct) during at least one big sale in the past, but he had already made it clear that even that, or in fact even 700 RON, would be unacceptable.
But I guess a bigger issue is that I like this old camera. Sure, it has various issues, but in the nearly five years since dad pretty much gave it to me I learned to get along with it, and the fact that it uses regular batteries gives it a huge advantage over pretty much anything that’s available now. And it’s likely sturdier and more reliable than anything available now as well, as the fact that it still works after all this time proves. And yet I risked making it stop working, and likely caused some problems which will likely become noticeable sooner or later, for absolutely no reason whatsoever other than sheer stupidity. Mine.

But there’s something good to write about too, and that’s this week’s run, which was Monday, and which marked a new record for 16 kilometers: 1:16:54, with sector times of 4:21, 4:59, 5:53, 4:26, 4:58, 5:52, 4:29, 5:04, 5:56, 4:32, 5:05, 5:54, 4:37, 5:04 and 5:44, making for lap times of 15:13, 15:16, 15:29, 15:31 and 15:25! That just smashed the previous record, improving it by 2:35, so there’s no point in even comparing sector or lap times. I must, however, point out that great time on the last sector, so sector three of lap five, which was managed not only right at the end, but also despite losing focus at some point and likely slowing down a bit. Without that moment, I might have even had a chance at a new second fastest sector time at a most unlikely moment.
The weather was very good Monday, so I couldn’t miss the opportunity. The forecast mentioned rain and storms the rest of the week, and that was indeed the case so far, but Monday the reported high was no more than 25°C, possibly even a bit less, and there were some occasional clouds as well, but there was no risk of rain and the wind wasn’t a problem, though I felt a few gusts a bit. With the forecast mentioning highs likely exceeding even 40°C between July and September, I doubt I’ll catch such a moment again too soon. And the fact that it was Monday afternoon meant there weren’t many people in the park either, though I did have to get around some, including a moment, I believe on sector one of lap five, when I had to just squeeze through in one spot. But I also lost a few seconds when I obviously slowed down a bit while checking that the stuff I had in my pockets was still there or rubbing a spot that had started to sting at one point and a muscle that hurt for a bit after I jumped over a puddle. I believe that was on sector three of lap three, so I was worried I’ll have quite a problem, but it didn’t bother me for long. And what’s interesting is that even my left knee, which has been hurting quite worryingly for quite some time and which I feared was going to get a fair bit worse after such a run, ended up feeling much better for the next couple of days instead.
I did aim for a new record, possibly by quite some margin, from the beginning, and had sector and lap targets in mind for 1:18, 1:18:30, 1:19 and 1:19:30, but saw that I beat even the best ones on the first two laps, so at that point I was wondering how it’ll go from there. Lap three was slower, but it was still good enough to allow me to think of something even better than 1:18, yet I still didn’t do so until I saw that lap four was going unexpectedly well as well, at which point I had just a passing thought of 1:17:30. Still didn’t think it likely, so quickly dismissed it as a target, but pushed nevertheless and at the end of that lap I found that I just needed a 16-minute lap five to just make that target. Still didn’t quite think I’ll manage it though, remembering those lost seconds and thinking I may just miss it because of them, and that 4:37 first sector wasn’t encouraging, the first sector target for a 16-minute lap being 4:35. But then I just gave it everything, aiming for a 5:10 second sector and actually managing 5:04. And that put that 1:17 target very suddenly and completely unexpectedly in my mind. It’d have taken a mighty final sector, highly unlikely at that point, but I didn’t let that discourage me and with the exception of that moment I mentioned above I just pushed every single step, trying to get as close to sprinting as I could at that point. And it sure was enough. Five seconds faster than it needed to be, in fact.

What’s more, after that run I wandered around the park for quite some time, picking cherry plums. Had taken two small plastic bags with me, which were one of the reasons why I was checking what I had in my pockets while running, yet somehow again “managed” to lose one. I have no idea how, but it seems to keep happening. Now I’m sure the second one was still in my pocket when I took the first one out and I had no reason to get a hand in that pocket again after that, and I obviously looked on the ground a lot even when picking from trees, since anything reasonably ripe and low enough to be picked directly pretty much already was, so I was mostly shaking trees and grabbing what was falling, before eventually just picking from what was already on the ground around that large tree I found. Yet, somehow, despite never taking it out and not seeing it on the ground at any point, it was no longer in my pocket when I got back.
Either way, all the wandering around didn’t result in much, finding quite a few trees with plenty of fruits but, as I said, others had already picked what could be picked from the ground and I didn’t shake any of them more than a few times, and climbing in any was out of the question, not only because I don’t know how to do that and I was worried about guards not being happy with it if they’d spot me trying, but because the trees themselves have pretty thin trunks that may well break even under my weight. Worse, the bag snagged on a tree as I was shaking it and one handle ended up torn, so it was somewhat difficult to hold and I was worried about it tearing completely, but just kept using it and it lasted long enough. Would have likely been better to get the other one out then, so I either wouldn’t have lost it or would have realized that I had already lost it at that point, possibly allowing me to go back and perhaps find it on the ground somewhere, but I didn’t do that.
Either way, eventually found a somewhat larger tree close to the bridge that had large fruits that were also low enough to be picked, but that was because the large majority were still green, so I just walked around it and picked only a few. That seemed to have attracted the attention of a little girl who was in the area and who walked up to me to ask whether I could pick “about four” for her too. So I did, just grabbing what I could from where I was, even if they were clearly still green. She dropped one of the four I gave her the first time though, but I asked if she wanted more and when she said yes I picked and gave her four more, filling her hands. Then just walked away, not even glancing back to see what she did after that.
Once past the bridge, I meant to go to an area where I had seen quite a few cherry plums with plenty of fruits on the side of the path around the lake, having made a mental note of them while running. But I moved again away from the path, searching the area between it and the road splitting the park, and before reaching the area I meant to reach I found a large tree with a lot of yellow cherry plums fallen all around it. I did have some concerns about picking fruit already on the ground, and had decided against doing so at first, but had changed my mind by then and had already picked a few from other spots, so I got down and started picking, looking for those that seemed to have fallen very recently and weren’t damaged. Was there for quite some time, in fact, and could have stayed even longer, but I needed to get back to make sure I won’t miss the start of the match, so I eventually stopped picking and ended up with just about 1.6 kg, most of that quantity having been picked from that spot. Did grab just a few more on the way back from a tree that’s just full of them, but that was it.

Since I mentioned picking fruit, I think the first time I did that this year was June 5, when after the storm I first went to this larger farmers’ market, then also to the other one, since all the apples found at the first one were too expensive. After finding the person with the cheap apples there and buying some, on the way back I picked ten cherry plums from a tree that’s in front of a clinic, eating them when I got back. Three actually seemed ripe, though the others weren’t, despite also being quite red.
Though it doesn’t count as picking, an apricot fell right in front of me from a tree on the street on June 19, so I grabbed it and ate it when I got back. But the next day I did actually pick again, cherry plums and just a few mulberries. May even be the first time I eat mulberries, and found them really tasty. Also somehow lost another small bag, which I thought I still had when I got back from Auchan that day but found that it wasn’t in my pocket anymore when I got to the farmers’ market after that. Either way, on the way back from there I just picked a few fruits from several trees on the street, not stopping long enough at any of them to try to get more, worried that somebody’ll say something, even if it’s such a waste to just let them spoil and fall and litter the streets and sidewalks instead of making use of them. And then I went to the other market as well, again for apples, and on the way back I picked a few more cherry plums, just a single one from a tree on the street and some more from that one in front of the clinic. Would have picked more from there, but some bugs fell on me as I pulled on a branch and after brushing off what I could I walked away, ending up bringing at least two spiders, or at least things that seemed to be some sort of spiders, with me, as I saw one on me and one on the floor after removing my t-shirt. Was also bitten in at least one spot, and possibly in two, on my neck. That itched a fair bit later, and while the swelling went down since then, now I feel like there’s something there, either some foreign object, like a thorn or a stinger, or a wart, and it hurts a bit. Hope it won’t cause problems…


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