Let me start by saying that a manual film camera is not an electrical device.  You put the film tab through the little insert and lock the cannister in place at the opposite end of the camera.  When you press the button, the shutter lifts inside the camera for a split second, thereby making an imprint of light on the photo-sensitive film held taught inside.  You then advance the film with the little thumb lever.  Repeat.  It’s entirely mechanical.

What I didn’t realize was that most people don’t apparently know about this phenomenon.  Maybe I’m dating myself by discussing it.  But I was hassled trying to come in to volunteer at USCAN today, because I couldn’t turn the camera on.

Guard: “All electronic devices must be turned on.”

Me: “OK, well, the camera doesn’t turn on.  It uses film, and it’s manual.”

Guard: “ALL electronic devices must be turned on.”

Me:  “I can’t turn it on!  There isn’t any thing to turn on.”

Guard: “Ma’am, you HAVE to turn it on.”

Me:  “THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE. Look, I’m not trying to be rude!  It’s just not electrical!”

Finally, an older person came to the rescue.  Learn from this story–some devices are not electronic.  Old folks like us know this.  Respectable photographers know this.  YOU KNOW THIS.

That was how my day started, but seeing that they gave us free breakfast (and lunch) at USCAN, I cannot complain.  We stayed there most of the day, Kyle and I, just watching the news, attending press conferences, and observing the Ethiopian demonstrators outside our building.

I did not get teargassed or arrested.  But I did attend one of the marches, and therein lies one of the big gripes of the environmental movement. 

You might have seen it in the news.  Many thousands of people came to Pittsburgh to protest the G20.  Each had their own agenda–there are the labor unionists, the poor and unemployed, the peace activists, activists for various groups (Ethiopia, for instance, or Tibet), Falun Gong, social justice groups, anarchists, socialists, etc. etc. etc. 

Yet a major theme of the conference was clean energy and transitioning the G20 economies away from fossil fuels.  Climate activists had events planned but you don’t read about their events in the paper much.  Nor did they have a visible presence in the march of allies today.  Seeing that social justice, international crises, and employment issues are, to many in the environmental movement, all interlinked with climate change and clean energy, why was there no coordination?  Come on, guys!  You heard Carl Pope on Wednesday night: UNITED WE ARE STRONG!

Nor has the media been actively covering the climate change aspect of this.  I guess when kids swathed in black start throwing bricks at windows, every other story fades by comparison.  I don’t really know what went on in the rest of Pittsburgh, but around the dinner table we shared the day’s personal stories of the local and state police, the national guard, the military, public transportation, Obama’s double, police throwing a bicycle at a protestor, snipers on rooftops, barricades, and the uncoordinated actions of the thousands of demonstrators here today.

None of the day’s happenings seem to have been in support of combatting climate change.  Nor was there citizen pressure for the US to come to an agreement before Copenhagen.  I think the G20 itself was the most productive body on climate action!  “Thank you, G20.”

Oh well.  At least I got plenty of free literature!  Well, till next time–I am going to go read that literature!