Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gone Ultra-Wide, and Other Stuff

Today I got my biggest Christmas present:

The Sigma 10-20mm Wide-angle lens.

It means I can take photos of something close-up and manage to capture the whole thing; for instance a couch - I could stand at the edge of a couch and include the entire thing in my photo.

I've gone out and taken some experimental shots (on Flickr) and the results are pretty cool. It's my first wide-angle lens and the first really good lens other than a Canon (a Sigma). The lens hood is a great touch.

The shot above was taken from my new camcorder - another big gift I'd gotten - because my Kodak camera is useless in terms of using up batteries. The only downside is I had to trade in my kit lens - but that's not really too bad. It completes the spectrum: I have this wide-angle, the 50mm prime, and the 75-300mm telephoto lens. From close to wide, I have it all. I just don't cover 20-50mm range anymore. But I'm not really too sad about that, that lens was the cheap add-on to complete the kit. It wasn't a super awesome professional lens, and half the time it focused in the wrong places or not at all (the majority of my Christmas photos came out unfocused using this lens). It was still in good shape and Henry's is now making good use of it.

On the other hand, the camcorder is really good as well. It's my darn third unit as my other older two have stopped working for whatever reason. I'd pin it on my using them for time-lapse videos. For instance, my really old film camcorder stopped showing a good picture anymore, and I attribute that to my pressing the record button twice at intervals to capture the scene, over and over for a long time to then fast-forward the result, making it a time-lapse video. That, and continuously fast-forwarding the tape, is what likely ruined the picture. Then I got a new one, much smaller and which used DV tapes, and when I started leaving it on for almost hours long just so I could speed the video up on the computer, it stopped working properly and stayed in 'play' mode, not being able to turn off or switch modes. The battery drained, and the only way to turn it on is to plug it in; you can't charge it because it turns itself on the minute it's plugged in, to 'play' mode. All because I wanted to make time-lapse videos.

I've learnt my lesson by now - I'm not doing any of that to this machine, which is smaller and uses just a memory card (evolution timeline here). I'm using it for what I originally wanted to use a camcorder for - filming proper things and making documentaries. 

Ironically, this camcorder comes with a time-lapse function.

Okay, okay, I've used that function once. The result here. Maybe I'll use that. But why didn't they come out with this function earlier? I could have spent way less money and time and stress if they'd had that function on my previous camcorders. No loss!

But it does open up some interesting ideas. One other great thing I got for Christmas is a new tripod, a sturdy one with thicker legs and a swivel-pivoting head. With all knobs in order. I'm not throwing out the old tripod, for it is still extremely useful. I can use both in some situations. Maybe while one camera stays in a corner time-lapsing the whole activity in the room on one tripod, the other can be used for filming the action in real-time. Then I have a sped-up time-lapse video of the video taking place. Sounds kind of like overkill but there are many examples out there. Just for fun, on film sets or during TV shows they'll have an additional camera at the edge of a room or set to show the evolution of how it was all put together, conveniently in under five seconds. They had that on Monster Garage. Every now and then, there'd be a small scene, usually before/after commercials, of a time-lapse of the mechanics and welders working on the vehicle. You could see the cameramen but they weren't really the focus of the scene, and besides they help to show how things looked behind the scene.

That's why it's always good to have more than what you'd need in terms of equipment. I was very fortunate this Christmas, and I have my mother and family to thank for that. I do hope everyone else who reads this had a great Christmas and spent it with many people they loved. With my three + cameras, camcorder, and tripods, I can accomplish many cool things. We'll see. I've uploaded some bass covers onto YouTube and the sound quality is surprisingly awesome with the deep sounds of my bass. I might try another documentary, with this newly expanded amount of resources. 

Wrapping things up, again, I hope everyone's Christmas was highly enjoyed and spent with close ones. I had a pretty good holiday, it's still not finished yet actually, but nevertheless. I've got things to think about, to plan, to take photos of, to do with. One more thing I should note is I saw a really nice movie last night, a feature called (500) Days of Summer. I like it in terms of how it is not your usual "they got together at the end" type of thing and that it was not typical of romantic films and it was realistic. The acting was exceptional and very real. Putting aside the fact that I like the female lead in the film, I liked it quite a bit and would recommend it to anyone who wants to see something refreshing.

Happy holidays.

Justin C.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Streetview + YouTube Video

Today I made a HUGE connection:

Now, look at this:

Notice any environmental similarities?

That Streetview image was taken the exact same day that I filmed my scene for my "Video of Transitions." Which would put the image date at May 6, 2009. Seems about right.

A Streetview car drove by the same day I drove by on my bike in that parking lot.

Everything matches. I screened the video. All the cars in the parking lot are the same. The red Coca-Cola vending machine supply truck gave it away at first. Then the overcast sky. The rest of the cars in the parking lot. It all fit.
The only difference is the timing; it was evidently taken when class was in session, and so you can't see me on my bike, going by in front of the school with Fred standing near the doors, holding my camera to film the scene itself. It all matches. I can't believe it. What a coincidence! Now if that car had gone by during lunch when I was filming, it would have been perfect.

One thing that's constant, though: The person dressed in black, who I knew, stands out there all the time - enough for him to have been caught in a casual picture I took out of the bus once, and posted on Flickr.

It's quite hilarious for me to discover this. It means that if you look closely enough, you can see my bike ensconced in the bike racks with all the others (very hard to see, it's silver, near the doors). It's too bad the Google car didn't go by during lunch time. But hey, filming a scene on a location the same day that same location is caught in Google Streetview is still wholly amazingly coincidental and cool. The photo textures I used for my grand model of Merivale High School uses those images. My bike, within that image, is pasted on that model. I guess it's like a calling card, almost, because something that pertains to me is on the model. But it's not a constant calling card - it doesn't appear on all my models.

Still amazingly cool. Wow. Wow.

-Justin C.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Earliest I Ever Got Up

Yeah, I know, it sounds like a boring thing to talk about. But there's an interesting story to this post; it's not about me getting up, but rather the reason and story behind it.

Usually whenever I get up in the four o'clock am period of the day, it's to catch an early morning flight to somewhere whenever I rarely go on vacation. Take last year, late August. I had to get up at such a time to catch a plane to San Diego, my first international vacation somewhere. Aerial photos of that early morning plane flight on Flickr.

This morning, it was for school. On a beautiful Sunday, May 24 2009. 

No, I didn't have school that day. I was awfully far in my community involvement hours, and the Ottawa Marathon provided a perfect opportunity to gain those missing diploma achievers. Unfortunately it meant I had to get up that early to be at school to get ready so I could be at the proper location at 6 am.

At the time, I'd gotten into the habit of riding my bike to school. I'd ride up to Fallowfield, then get to Woodroffe and head straight to Norice Street, which connected to Viewmount and school. This morning, however, was different.

I got on a bike donated to me by my best friend Duncan, which was a fast street bike. I was able to virtually ride down the middle of the deserted Greenbank Road to Fallowfield with no traffic, it being five o'clock and the sun barely rising. The sky was a marine-blue color, not black but brightening. I had a backpack and camera with me. I sailed down the empty Fallowfield Road and turned onto Woodroffe, easily using the turning lane reserved for motor vehicles. This is where I got an idea to use a shortcut.

This Sunday marked the day I decided to use a completely different bike route altogether. It marked the first day for me to use this route. Actually, it was the first day for me to use a part of this route and then use it properly later on. Heading up Woodroffe, I noticed this dirt road. I'd seen it hundreds of times but never thought of where it led. Of course it obviously led toward the community that was nestled within the woods, but I'd never been through it before. Thinking it would get me to Merivale Road quicker, curiosity got me and I peddled my finely-tuned street bike onto the dirt road. Noticing an old brick house sitting within the trees, I then entered this grassy path that went straight ahead. Dawn was just barely breaking. My bike wasn't exactly made for the lumpy, grassy ground, and bugs buzzed around me. The wet marsh made it humid. Eventually, though, I came onto this clean street. My street bike was on the ground it was named after. A park appeared to my right.
It was like that scene in the movie Big Fish, where the main character goes through a harsh woods complete with huge spiders to then suddenly come upon this hidden, beautiful town called Spectre. Except the power lines in my instance weren't supporting dozens of shoes.

In my case I'd obviously entered a sequestered community called Grenfell Glen, and I was on a street called Burnbank. But then, why didn't I go down the street called Grenfell? It actually began at Woodroffe! This is why I said earlier that I would later use this new found, quicker route properly.

I quickly made it down to the aforementioned Grenfell street and it got me to Merivale in two minutes. My teacher friends had told me prior that one of my previous teachers lived on the street I'd come onto. But I didn't stop because it would be quite rude of me to wake him up at quarter after five in the morning. I got to Merivale and continued northward, riding in the middle of the northbound lane. It was quite peaceful. Before passing the Merivale Arena, I stopped to take a few photos of the rising sun:

I finally arrived at school to find a small crowd of people at the front. Some I knew, most I actually didn't (not usual). I think the reason for that was because 80% of them were grade nines eager to get a head start on getting their hours. Where was I in grade nine? Peacefully sleeping in, no doubt. I got my name checked while feeling a certain scrutiny from a girl I did know (same one mentioned in the General Bus story). The teacher in charge of organizing this whole thing opened her trunk to reveal hundreds of donuts, but I took none. I had my own packed in my bag.

The three other people I was going to be with at my location were getting a car ride from the parents of one of them. I was going to obviously take my handy street bike that had served me so well on the roads and the misty trail that had connected me with Woodroffe and Grenfell Glen (kind of). It was a great opportunity for me to do a few other things. I continued up Viewmount drive in the early morning sunshine and took this opportunity to do something I hadn't done since I was a young child: I took the route I took home that I used to take when I went to elementary school.

I continued up Chesterton, entered General Burns park, and came to Benson Street. This was the famously rough street I walked/rode up everyday from grade three to grade six. I should mention that if my bike had a conscious, it would recognize the scenery too; Duncan used to ride near here to get to school back then too.

Soon, after heading up Inverness Avenue to Wigan, I entered the parking lot. This was parking lot intended for the tenants of the apartment buildings and townhouses, of which I used to live. Entering a familiar courtyard, I stopped to look at my old unit. The ol' unit 14. If it had been nine years ago, I would have been just getting up to come out and ride my bike around in the morning dewy grass. Reliving those memories for a second, I paused before continuing onwards toward Fisher Avenue. My destination was the intersection of Hog's Back Road and Colonel By Drive. My friends were heading there too, in a vehicle. I rode eastward until I came to the traffic island, then parked my bike against a traffic light post. A minute later the car carrying my comrades arrived. Road barriers were piled nearby, and we soon put them up.

The rest of the immediate day was spent at that traffic island with those people. Official trucks drove by, runners passed us, and more than dozens of civilians asked us if this was the halfway point, of which we never knew. I spent most of the time reading. One or two camera vans drove by. If I was caught on TV, I would have been sitting there with a book in my lap, looking furious. It wasn't my fault the sun was in my face and I had to squint. I was protected by a hat and dark sun shades that attached to my glasses. This wasn't beneficial to my father's friend when I recognized him and he wondered what the adolescent was doing staring at him. I was trying to see if he was indeed someone I properly recognized. 

It all ended at around 1 or 2 pm. Twenty after anyway. I rode my bike homeward, taking the exact same route (well I went down Grenfell but it was direct enough). It was weird afterward, because I felt that the day was mostly done with, when it was only partly way through. The early morning wake-up call and sightseeing really took my sense of time away. It was actually quite nice. I liked seeing the sun come up, riding my bike down empty roads, discovering new sights (except the woody trail, but even that was interesting) and being part of the major event. I took many photos (lots on Flickr) and overall the experience was cool. All on a Sunday morning. Reminds me of the Madness song:

Sunday School and Sunday roast
Sunday papers Sunday post
Sunday morning Sunday rest
Sunday sermon Sunday best

It was the day of many firsts for me - the first time I took part in that kind of event; the first time I took a shortcut and improved my time; the longest distance I'd ridden that bike; the first time I'd been a few places like my old house and taken my old route in a long time; and the longest time I ever spent on a traffic island. Plus it was the earliest I'd gotten up on a Sunday. For school.

It's not a bad story and it's why I'm putting it here. I have some good memories of it. It was a beautiful day, and I loved the morning. I wish I got up earlier like that everyday. I used to get up at six a.m. for school each day, but now in college I get up a lot later.

We were on that island from 6 am to 1 pm. The girl at the right stood the entire time

Good times it was.

-Justin C.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Red Umbrella

A long time ago, when I was in grade ten, I decided to look at the photo gallery companion to my high school's (then) website. In it, I found over 100 photos that were taken on the 2005 grade nine orientation trip to Britannia Park. Intrigued at finding photos of myself as I'd gone on that trip at the beginning of grade nine, I slowly made me way through each photo, looking in the backgrounds, foregrounds, and 'middle-grounds' of each. I found a photo of a nice teacher who I remembered patched up my foot and realized with a shock that it was my present friend J. Graham, saw photos of many people I knew, group leaders and teams showing off, co-presidents...but no me.

In the selection of 115 photos, I could not find a clear picture with me somewhere in it. Maybe I was off somewhere in a group surrounded by people to be seen, in the background, but I could not find me or any part of me anywhere.

I figured it out upon looking at a crowd shot near the end. This was a shot of all the grade nines sitting on the ground watching a team show off their cheer. During this time, while sitting on the ground, the grey overcast sky threatened rain, and I had put up my red umbrella as a caution. Only one person, a girl, was annoyed about it, so I kept it over me as I sat on the ground surrounded by young people. 

Looking at this photo taken from the back of the crowd, at the very left edge of scene, the tip of my umbrella could be seen amongst the heads of people on the ground. 

So. I had managed to become part of that official photo selection of that day. Or at least part of me. Or at least part of something I was holding.

All right!

Out of pure coincidence, this photo appeared in my grade nine yearbook. There's a page dedicated to the grade nine day. That photo isn't in there. It's one of the random photos they inserted in the grade nine section of mugshots. The opposite page of my own mugshot. Plus, my team leader of that day had a photo of her on the main page (looking for my group), and lots of people I knew appeared. You couldn't tell if my umbrella (or bit of it that snuck in) was red or not, because since that photo was on an ordinary mugshot page, it's in black and white. It appears grey, like the sky that day.

I lost that famous umbrella years ago. It was a nice one. I think I left it on the bus sometime in grade nine. These days I use a huge white one with black stripes. Or one with red stripes. They haven't shown up in any photos pertaining to that high school I went to, or yearbooks, or any kind of media, but who knows. Maybe they'll be famous like my red one once was. Despite that girl's annoyance, it did triumph in protecting me from potential rain, obscuring me from people I didn't want to see that day (to be explained elsewhere), and inserting some aspect of myself in one photo out of 115. I have a photo record of it so I knew what it looked like and can refer to that photo. I don't mean to sound conceited, I just wanted to find a photo of myself within hundreds of photos of everyone else. I rarely ever saw photos of me anywhere. I was virtually invisible in high school up to a point.

That's why I'm proud of that minute accomplishment. Maybe I don't have the umbrella anymore, maybe it isn't that noticeable in the photo (esp. it being in monochrome), but it still appeared. Plus, it made me stand out. No one else had an umbrella opened over the sea of heads in that crowd. I think it would have been interesting looking (to me) at the time.

Wherever that umbrella is now, I hope it still works. Long live that red umbrella!

-Justin C. 

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Most Embarrassing Day. . .And the Most Exciting Day

Listening to an old song, it brought back a crazy memory from tenth grade. I was listening to this song while staring at my Flickr photos, one of which was a cartoon-ized Joel Graham. His cartoon image helped to bring back this crazy memory:

The wonderful fall of 2006. One day, I had a chaotic, backwards math class. I didn't get anything we were doing, I was having a lot of trouble, and I didn't understand anything and felt bad. I came to gym class in this state feeling hopeless and depressed. My teacher, Joel Graham, noticed this and felt bad for me, letting me sit out while the rest of the class had to run laps down the basement hallways. He approached me and said that he'll do something to cheer me up. I'd explained my problem to him and he had an idea that would make me feel better. I spent the rest of class that day talking to him while he coached a basement game of floor hockey, feeling better. He was a good friend.

Months later, around either January or February, Graham's pick-me-up finally occurred. It was nuts.

Being my friend I'd told him many things, among them my crazy, almost fanatical interest in Madness. He knew what I liked about them, which of their songs I liked, everything. That morning in January or February, Graham's idea of making me feel better started. You see, in the morning, between bells, the school played songs on the intercom. Songs from anywhere, old and new. From musicals. From the nineties, even the eighties sometimes. That morning, the co-president of the school came on the intercom to say his usual words - and then this: "This song is a special one from Mr. Graham, and it's dedicated to Justin Campbell." I almost bent over in humiliation - he'd said my name!! It was DEDICATED to me!

And then the song came on - the song that had catalyzed my fanaticism in that British band - their one hit wonder here in North America, their great number 7 hit single "Our House."

I was in Kevin Mellow's room at that time. I was there. The first thing I saw after hearing the guitar fade in the song's introduction on the intercom was him, with a diabolical smile on his face, bouncing back and forth in dance. Another student I knew, Matt, was watching him with amusement. I ran out of there. I raced down the halls to my locker. I banged my head on it as I got to it. Behind me, one of the teachers I was friends with from the spec. ed. department approached me and started asking about the song. I got to science, and the teachers I was also friends with there were smiling appreciatively at the general room in particular. They knew it was one of my favorites. They knew I liked this stuff. They were talking about it as I entered the room. Talking about the impact of the song and what it was like when it came out in 1983.

My math teacher (yes, this was second semester and I'd obviously failed math the first semester) noticed the connection when I came in second period. I'd proclaimed it was the most embarrassing day of my life.

Nowadays I think it was just one of the most embarrassing days of high school. It was so sudden. It was so nuts. My name, the dedication, it was broadcast to every room in every building of the school. Except in the gym and the large auto tech. workshop where it would be too echoed to be heard properly, everyone had heard it.

In later years (grade 12) I would find out that Mr. Graham had downloaded a small amount of that band's singles onto the gym computer. He could at will choose to play the songs in the gym office (or the entire gym) whenever he wanted, and he often played music in the gym during game play in gym classes.

As well as that, the song itself was evidently kept by the office or the student council who played the songs. Around April or May of this year, in my final year of high school, they played 'Our House' again one morning. I was surprised and delighted that they'd kept the song. They'd come around to it again. It took them two years but they did. Only difference was I wasn't embarrassed, a different person put it on, and it had nothing to do with me. Besides, most people, specifically those who knew me and knew I liked the song/band, they didn't realize it was playing again. Only my good friend Doug Elliot noticed what was playing on the speakers that morning. Mellow didn't notice it enough to break into a dance all over again.

But I won't disagree that that day, when I first head it, was one of the most exhilerating, exciting days of high school for me. That song was played. People heard it. Everyone got to hear the wonderful sound of that band. I don't know if they actually listened or cared or knew it, but they still at least heard it. Joel Graham had kept his promise. He delivered on it. Now the song is kept in the school's records, to be played again and again every few years. It's like a legacy. The proof that I attended that school is the fact that they now have that song in their library. That it was played, for my benefit. That I was the reason it ever made it onto the intercom (or the fact I had a hard time with math). My legacy is that one 1 hit wonder by Madness.

It was the song I was listening to this night (the instrumental version). It brought back that great memory. A funny coincidence is that of all the student councils that ran the school during my time there, the councils that ran when I was in grade ten and grade twelve were my favorite ones. I don't know. The co-presidents in grade ten were fun and brought a nice variety to the table. The morning announcements were fun with them saying it. And in grade 12, the co-presidents and majority of students in that council were in my grade, my generation, and they had the most ideas and fun filled activities. I've always thought that the people in my generation had the best fun ideas and tricks up their sleeves. They proved that this past year. With the hand-printed tree in the cafeteria where the grads including myself got to put their hand prints on the wall with our names. That was their idea. It was just fun. The fact that both councils played 'Our House' barely had anything to do with it, but it contributed. The other councils in grade nine and eleven didn't really do it for me (especially the grade 11 one).

Summing it up, that day was a great day and a horrible day in terms of my name and dedication being broadcast to the school. The thing was, a lot of people knew I liked the song, and a lot of them knew I'd liked the song for a long time now. My fear was that they'd be going "shouldn't he have moved on to a different favorite song by now? He's been going on about this one song for years!" Of course I shouldn't worry about what people think about me but it was that self-consciousness that helped fuel my embarrassment.

Good memories to think about though at least.

-Justin C.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On with it! Part 4!

After posting about that Thursday story the other day, and the name that slipped by me, i've come to this conclusion - let's get on with it. I'm going to post the ending of this story that I was prompted to write by an anthropology teacher. And no, I'm not getting rid of the name. It will come up again. I don't care. People are people. I don't mention the full name anyway. There's nothing interesting about it, and I'm excluding the fact that this person happens by in my ebullient imagery during that darn Madness song. It's an extremely good feeling.
Some people's way of life and their personalities are just breath-taking.

Here it is. It is a little long - but hey, it's the ending!:

I departed the area and walked back around to the side of the school, going in to the doors there and coming down the B-wing. Not five minutes later I wound back up in a familiar place. I decided to walk back down the D-wing to check on Mr. Elliot.
He didn’t notice me.
I walked into the stairwell at the end of the D-wing after Mr. Van Dusen, who had been my guidance counsellor the previous semester.
“Hi Justin. How are you doing?”
“Not very good.”
“Why, what’s wrong?”
I decided to summarize my day. But he had to go to the bathroom.
“No, no, I want to listen to you first,” he said. We were standing at the bottom landing that led outside through doors in one direction, and up/down stairs in the other.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go first? And it’s that way,” I said, pointing back up the small set of stairs to the D-wing hallway.
“No. Tell me how your day has been.”
“Okay...” And I told him about all the difficulties that I had to overcome that had no reason to it. My bus didn’t come. I was afraid of being thrown off another due to melodramatic teenage girls. I got to school right when it started. I didn’t see that girl as much as usual. No one could talk to me. Everything was harder than normal, and more boring.
“Very interesting,” he said. Beside us the doors leading outside constantly blew open, and we had to close them to the wind. “I like how you were descriptive about certain things.”
Outside, someone rolled out the opposite doors on a stretcher, accompanied by paramedics and the principal. Getting a better look I noticed the ambulance. I pointed this out to Mr. Van Dusen.
“Looks like someone has had a worse day than you.”
“Yeah, I guess. But their problems have been sudden. Mine have occurred all day.”
“Oh. Okay. Justin, let me suggest something.”
“What’s that?”
“You should write this down. Have you thought about that?”
“Yeah, a little bit, a while ago,” I said. “But that’s an interesting idea.”
“I think it would be very interesting,” he said. “I know you’re a good writer, and the way you’re describing everything and saying things, and how it sounds, would be pretty cool written down. The way you describe the bus, the way you had to sneezed, right here,” he continued, gesturing toward the violent doors, “the way this whole situation looks. It kind of makes it sound almost non-sensical, or eerie.”
“Yeah,” I agreed.
“But right now, as Mr. Mellow has work, I do to, and I really need to go to the bathroom,” he finished. “You get writing.”
“Okay.” I looked up between the staircases above us. Twice I had heard some shuffling up there. “And – Mr. Van Dusen...” I got closer to him and whispered, “I think someone’s listening.”
He grinned at the even more unusual thought. “I don’t know, maybe someone is listening. Hehehe...see you.” He walked off downstairs away from the bathroom I knew to be round the corner upstairs, but I guess there was a teacher bathroom down there as well.
Walking upstairs to partly see if anyone was up there, and partly just to go upstairs, I arrived at the top – to find Henrietta, the girl briefly mentioned in the morning when she’d told the entire school to get to class via the intercom. When I was angry.
“Well, I didn’t expect you to be up here. I thought someone might be listening.”
She noticed me and took her - oh - headphones off. “Sorry?”
“I heard some shuffling up here and thought someone was listening while I was talking to Mr. Van Dusen down there,” I repeated. “Didn’t expect you to be there.”
“Oh, I had music on so I didn’t hear anything,” she said earnestly. Yeah, I knew that now. I walked away.
I walked down the D-wing hallway (but the second floor one) and eventually I came back in the other direction. Heading south toward the back of the building, I saw no one other than Mr. Elliot wandering around.
“Justin, where have you been, I’ve been looking all over for you!” he said agitatedly. “I checked guidance, I checked the office, I checked everywhere looking for you.” Obviously he hadn’t forgotten about our talk. And with some free time he finally went looking for me. But to add to the exasperation to my day, I hadn’t been anywhere, so he’d gone crazy about it, which was my fault.
“Oh, god, this just gets worse,” I said. “I was talking to Mr. Van Dusen. I talked to him about everything.”
“Just a second, I’m trying to find something.” He disappeared into the English office. I stood out there for a little while but soon I went in after him.
“What are you looking for?” He was perusing the book shelves.
“A book, Different Seasons,” he answered. Oh, that was what my English class was reading at the moment. Well, I could help him there. I knew what the book looked like. For two minutes we both looked over the entire book shelf but there weren’t any there. I got an idea.
“Why don’t we go to my English room, Ms. Rankin should have some there.”
“Oh, CampbellTrain, great idea,” he said with relish. We left for the room I’d hung out in earlier in the day with the 'no' teacher.
“CampbellTrain, I don’t see anything negative about your explanation,” Mr. Elliot went on later, after we’d got the book and he’d disappeared into this classroom to set his student up with it while I stood outside for five minutes. I’d sort of given him the same anecdote I’d given Mr. Van Dusen, but it didn’t sound as good or as detailed because I wasn’t really interested in talking about it anymore and the current place and time didn’t fit with me. I was sagging against the wall because my feet were sore and he was standing over me. I’d already cleared it up mostly with Mr. Van Dusen. I tried to convince him the other way around a little bit but in the end he said he’d prefer if I sat in his room on a computer, with company, to write what Mr. V.D. had suggested. I didn’t want to.
“Why should I write it in there?”
“Because you’re not alone, you’re in good company, we’ll get you a juice box. We can set you up with that!”
“I don’t know anyone in there, it’s just a bunch of frustrated credit-recovery students.”
“It’s a good atmosphere.”
“Them doing remediation?”
“No, I’ve got them doing something else at the moment.” He sounded like he just wanted me to stop arguing and just do what he suggested.
“Mr. Elliot, the only goal they’ll be trying to reach is getting that credit they missed.”
“It’s your choice,” he said resignedly. “You can come stay here and work on one of the computers or you can go work alone.”
I walked away after that. I went to the number-one place I always go to in these times: The foyer.
I walked across the space and sat on one of the benches with my bag I had been carrying. My feet were still sore. As usual she came out of the door to the cafe and went to the bathroom, looking at me all the way. I glanced repeatedly at her myself.
Thing was, I had sat in a direct position to the door to the cafeteria, so I could see directly through the room to where she was working. As she came back and walked through the vast cafeteria she ended up directly where I could see her. And I could tell that she soon realized (by glancing repeatedly) that she could see me herself. From then on she didn’t turn away or work on her partner – when I said they were making plaster face masks I meant on their partner’s faces – she kept her stance facing the door I was looking through from my position.
Over time we’d stare at each other for as long as three seconds before looking slightly away. One time she appeared to smile, then pull a friend towards her and point. I looked away immediately while that happened, and she continued to do her walks between the cafe and the bathroom. Soon the period was over and the class filed out, and she walked carefully along the outside of the group, coming very close to my position on the seat. As they walked away I watched her.
I felt much better now. The last of the period had been spent starring at that girl that liked (and I liked back, I should obviously admit) and it rose my spirits significantly.  Soon I started walking toward the hallway at the end of the foyer, taking into account the time it took her to get from class to her locker. As I slowly passed across to the trans-building link, I glanced at her, at her locker. She was there. And she was glancing back, with a smile.
I spent the next period in a back room, on a computer, catching up on things and listening to music. Everything seemed better now.
When I got home and did my usual afternoon stuff, like playing drums and checking my stuff on the Internet, I looked up out the window and realized the clouds had parted, and it was completely sunny. Beautiful. Only now I was down in my basement.
Soon, I opened up Microsoft Word. And I typed the title “Thursday, May 14 2009.”
Here was, and is, my story.

Justin S. Campbell
Ottawa, Ontario, May 14-15, 2009


To sum it up, the story was a detailed recall of an annoying Thursday in the middle of May. I was in the midst of keeping watch on a girl who seemed to do the same with me, and a lot of things weren't going the way they usually did, or properly, which annoyed me. I sneezed in my breakfast, wore my new purple golf shirt but couldn't catch the bus (it never came), missed several other prospective buses, got to school right before the bell, spent English looking out for my English teacher who came extremely late, had a boring photography class in which my friend Fred couldn't finish his work unless I (literally) spelled it out for him (he had trouble spelling some words), had a boring, uninteresting lunch, and wandered about in annoyance in my third period, catching the constant eye of that girl who was working in the cafeteria with her drama class. That was when the day finally brightened up for me, because I felt a lot better after the repeated glances and smiles at that one particular girl. In my smashing new gold shirt.

There were many other small disappointments and annoyances throughout that day, such as when I discovered my teacher friends coming back from a catch-up lunch with Mr. Graham without me, and when I tried to see a friend in the music basement (really just an excuse to glimpse that same girl in the hallway link nearby) and found he was in a music council meeting.

On the subject of the drama class making masks, it was kind of interesting to see them doing that because when I was mistakenly in drama once (the only class available) we had done that as well. I was the only student to have the teacher lay paper mache and glue on my face. Second most-relaxing period ever (the first being when I had a nap throughout English class). However, the tables in the cafeteria were quite hard and cold.

-Justin C.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Old Thursday Post

Something hit me this morning. I was thinking of someone, no one in particular, really, and I remembered that I'd posted this anecdote of my "awful" Thursday in May, in three parts. What hit me was "did I mention that person's name in that post?"

I ran down here and hit the 'search' on my blog (very useful). I keyed in the word 'Thursday' and looked over part one...oh! Darn it! I did! The full name was in there - in mid-sentence.

Aw! Shoot!

Well, oh well then. I'm not going back to change it. It's been there for months. The only other thing I can say here, and the main reason I'm bringing this to attention is..."in the - ci-ty!" Yes. It's been inadvertently revealed. The one 'person' I kept connecting to that darn Madness song. In that Synesthesia post. Well, that is quite annoying, because I intend on protecting identities unless they give permission. The big difference is that I wasn't talking about her in the Thursday post, I was mentioning in passing that her voice while I was annoyed. In fact I wasn't talking about her in the Synesthesia post, I was again mentioning that person came up in my brilliant thoughts during the part of the song. No identity revealed. I Just referred to her as "a girl."

I would have known now if she read this blog at all. I would have. If she had, I would have gotten a comment from her mentioning the Thursday post, and that's been up forever now. If I'd just said only her first name it would have been alright, but the full name - aw, shucks. 

Well, if anyone was always wondering who 'that girl that I thought about during In the City' was, she can (annoyingly and irritatingly) be "name-checked" in my grande, unfinished post of the Thursday in May. I now feel relieved I didn't finish posting it. There's a scene later on when I'm going upstairs and find her, and I think that she'd overheard me talking to a teacher below. Luckily that didn't get put on there.


-Justin C.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Google Model Race

I'm referencing the term 'arms race,' in which countries try to beat the other in producing better weapons than the other.

What I'm referring to, actually, is the replacement of one's models in the 3D Warehouse. I think it's kind of funny in a way.

Here's some history to help make sense of this: A while ago, maybe a year or even two, I was happily uploading plain white models to the 3D Warehouse. They weren't photo-textured, which meant they were plain and boring and not something Google would accept into Earth. Photo-textures, by the way, are photos pasted onto the sides of the model that are of the actual building, making the model look like the actual building:

Not Photo-Textured (My house, done a while ago)

Photo-Textured (AppleTree Medical Clinic downtown)

They look realistic and cool and a lot more attractive, and Google approves those kinds of buildings. A model without photo-textures is very unlikely to be accepted, though there are and were exceptions, like my original model of Merivale High School, which was included in Google Earth for awhile until yesterday. That's what I'm getting to at this post: The replacements.

During my time of uploading blank white models, other people started to take notice, and download them. One person downloaded my model of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, and added his own photo-textures to it, to try and improve it. He also wrote a very long description of it. Over time, several of my models appeared twice in the 3D Warehouse, one of mine, and one of someone's improvements on it, credited to them. I knew that they'd downloaded my model and made their own adjustments and touch to it. They were exactly the same except for the added improvements of photo-textures. 
I will say that I do have respect for the people who did this - who did a good job. Not a feeble one or a slight improvement, but a great job, way better than my original work. What I like to say is that my model was usurped by another person's better version. Because theirs made it into Google Earth.
What I didn't like was the feeble attempt of improvement on my Crowne Hotel model. Here's the difference:

My original blank white version. Uploaded December 8, 2007

His version, painted with lines and colors but not real photo-textures. Uploaded June 20, 2008.

It wasn't much better, yet it made its way into Google Earth over my original.
The thing is, it was like a competition. See who's version of what model will make it. For awhile, his was ahead of me - it was in Google Earth after all. But he hadn't won.

Weeks ago I decided to redo the model. With proper textures and proper techniques I'd come up with. The continuation of making that one model even nicer and more appealing continued as I uploaded this:

My more realistic version, uploaded November 6, 2009

Over several years this has been changing. I've got the upper hand now, because this is in Google Earth. I've usurped his version that had usurped my original version. This I redid completely, instead of downloading the original model of the original model. 
Will he or someone else come back and download it and make it even better? For anyone who does that and does an astounding version that's even more appealing, well, I have your respect because anything better than this deserves to be in Google Earth. Because this is pretty good. The bar is set pretty high.
Currently, at the moment there are two foremost modelers of Ottawa right now: Myself and someone named 'alp28.' He also appeared to have downloaded a few of my models and improved them, at the beginning, because a much better version of my Place de Ville building appeared in the 3D Warehouse. I have respect for that modeler because he does a great job and does his own original models as well that are just awesome. The version of my model he did was several times better, which I liked.

Nowadays I'm busy redoing other models I originally did as "Justin." I'm, say, 'usurping my own models' now.

My original version of Merivale High School, as "Justin." Uploaded July 11, 2007

My new and current version of Merivale High School, as "Justin Scott." Uploaded November 27, 2009.

Eventually all of my original models will have much better replications of them by me, all photo-textured and all hopefully accepted to Earth. Some of my original models that were in Earth will be replaced as the better model will get the spot. The "Justin" modeler is defunct. He used my mother's e-mail address which is why I made a new account as "Justin Scott" when I got my own on Gmail.

It's just interesting to examine all this and see how new and different models get made and replaced all the time. In Ottawa, like I said, it's emerged as me and that alp guy being the dominant modelers of everything. We're slowly building up downtown Ottawa. I started in the suburban areas and I've now began doing the larger buildings of downtown and environs, along with that guy. It's slowly turning 3D. It's great.

-Justin C.