Tour Bus Diaries: O Bethleham

By Adam Savage

Adam rants about two pet peeves from the tour!

Before I get to talking about the Bethlehem show, I have a couple of things to get off my chest. Things that have been cumulatively bugging me since the start of the tour.

Hand Soap. Nearly every theater and public restroom in the world has replaced their soap dispensers with automatic motion-sensitive ones. These do not work.

At. All.

For one, I must have some X-Men invisibility thing going on, because I have real trouble getting them to notice me (let alone the automatic faucets and towel dispensers). It usually takes three or four idiotic waves to get a little squirbel of soap.

That squirbel (my invented noun) is NEVER enough soap to actually wash my hands. So I wave again. And again. Only to find that it won't re-recognize me with soap on me. I'm thinking of licensing this discovery to the military.

So then I'm forced to wash my hands with a foamy equivalent of what must be a single drop of dish soap. What the hell? Soap dispensers were a solved problem! Push the button, get the soap! Bringing complicated electronics wasn't something the public was clamoring for. Least of all me.

Photo credit: Flickr user rusty_clark via Creative Commons

It's ridiculous. How much soap are we saving with this method? And by "this method" I mean the method of NOT dispensing soap. Probably lots. Let's go back to simple soap dispensers.

There, I got that off my chest. Feels better already.

Now to the other pet peeve: Digital Cameras.

The digital camera is another area where the electronic equivalent cannot be said to be a significant improvement over its analog counterpart. Here's what I mean: In the old days, when you had a point-and-shoot, you used it for situations where you wanted to -- wait for it -- point and shoot something. They took mediocre pictures, but they TOOK them. Nowadays the cameras have an extensive and time-consuming pre-game. They all must:

a. assess the environment, usually by blasting me in the face with an orange light beam.

b. focus, which can take a few seconds -- or even longer in low light (the most common conditions).

c. hit me in the face with between two and six flashes of indeterminate length, all BEFORE actually flashing to TAKE THE PICTURE. A situation confusing enough that many pictures taken are of the floor because the person taking the photo thinks that if a camera has flashed, it must have taken a picture. Silly humans.

d. finally take a picture. This is usually about two full seconds after the picture taker has pushed the shutter button. Longer than anyone reasonably thinks it should take to take a picture.

If you want a second pic? Get ready to wait, because you'll have to go through all that cockamamie rigamarole again. God forbid if the flash needs to recharge. It won't tell you; the camera simply won't take the pic.

The thing is, I'm always getting my picture taken with people who are handing their camera to someone who isn't familiar with that particular camera. And THAT'S where the problem lies.

We have been inculcated with the idea that with a "simple" camera, we should be able to point it and push the button. The camera designers have other ideas, like your needing to hold the shutter button for two to five seconds. Who is expecting to have to do THAT? I can tell you who: nobody.

I know. I know. I can hear you saying, "But they're only trying to take the best pictures!" And I get that. I do. I appreciate that.

But I get my pic taken with nearly everything you can imagine that has a camera in it. And most of them are mystifying to people not familiar with the device. This is a design travesty.

Read The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman. When you can't figure out how to use a common device (like when you push on an unlabeled door that you need to pull open), it's usually the designer's fault, not yours.

I mean, for chrissakes, Canon sees fit to put their POWER button right next to their shutter button! Every time I see a Powershot camera, I know there's a one in three chance I'll watch it get turned off when someone tries to take a photo.


I have two fixes for this debacle:

FIX THE FIRST: Colored shutter buttons. Let's color all camera-shutter buttons the same color across all brands. Yellow. Red. Pink. I don't care what color. Just make it clear which one I should push.

FIX THE SECOND: Every camera should come with a "I'm-handing-this-camera-to-someone-unfamiliar-with-its-operation" mode that's easily accessible on the camera. That mode simply takes a photo as quickly as possible under the circumstances. Wouldn't that be great?

Okay. I'm done with the rant.


Where was I? Pennsylvania! Yes. Bethlehem, to be precise. What a lovely little town! The Golden Gate Bridge was built in part here, if I recall correctly. Lovely pre-war buildings. Christmastown. Little shops galore. And my family. Lots of my family love nearish to here. That's awesome.

Specifically, brothers. I have two brothers, and they both live close by. Pete and Will Savage, respectively. Wanna know what they look like? Check out these handsome brutes:

That's Pete, the oldest, Will, the second oldest, and me in the middle. The youngest handsome brute is my nephew JJ. We all got to hang out for a few excellent hours, both before and after the show. Also at the show were Paul Sabourin from Paul and Storm, comedian and musician George Hrab and my awesome cousin Kelly Pickering!! I love Kelly and she's awesome. All in all a fantastic day.

Later in the show Jamie used his telekinetic powers to overcome the audience. (Not really!)

Where's your Messiah now!? (Supposed to be in the voice of Edward G Robinson).