My Security Camera

1545585772A few days after installing a security camera in my shed, I gave my buddy Stan a call.

“What are you doing?” I asked.


“Where are you doing it?”




“I can see you.”

“How?  You are in Florida.”

“Crank your head over to the two o:clock position, look up and say ‘hi’ to my internet enabled security camera.”

“What the…?”

“So what are you stealing out of my shed?”

He sounded deeply hurt. “I happen to be dropping something off.”

“Do either you or I own the something you are dropping off?”

“It’s complicated.”

“Yeah, and that is why I installed a camera in my shed.”

Now he sounded offended. “You are violating my privacy.”

“Not in my shed, I’m not.”

“What if I were picking my nose or scratching my butt?” he asked, “would you want someone watching you do that?”

“In my shed or somewhere else?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

There is more than a grain of truth in what Stan is saying because security cameras capture more than what is needed for security. Even when you are doing something you shouldn’t, there are still basic expectations of privacy – if what you are doing is done in private.

That may sound odd, but it is why you won’t find security cameras in lavatories or dressing rooms, even though a whole lot of what goes on there, shouldn’t.  We still give it a pass. We do so because the right to privacy means the right to protect our intimacies from the prying eyes of the world – even if what we are doing is not completely savory.

This balance between privacy and security is an interesting question that is still being worked out.

But privacy is the not the direction the world is going.

With the ubiquity of surveillance cameras and the oversharing of social media, absolutely nothing is forgotten and nothing is ever forgiven.

Within the last year, a half dozen careers have gone down in flames over something inappropriate done years and in some cases decades ago.

One would hope that within certain limits, the right to be an idiot would be coupled with the right to forgotten about and one would think that in a world where everyone lives in a glass house, no one would throw rocks, but sadly the effect is the exact opposite; with all too many believing that by some special grace they will not get hit or at least not hit that hard.

I am not sure why they would think that because one can never ingratiate oneself with a lynch mob and mobs only lose their fervor once they have consumed their leaders.

I would rather live in a world where jerks are allowed to be jerks than in one constantly on the prowl for them – and even more frightening is the remorseless world forever on the hunt for new definitions of what it is to be a jerk.

We are all jerks at one time or another and if you can show me someone who has never been a jerk, I can show you someone so anal that whatever they are holding back stinks to high heaven.

So if the statute of limitations on bank robbery is only five years, why is it like forever on yearbooks?


I thought deeply about this before installing my surveillance cameras and planned ahead accordingly.

A few days after I caught Stan, I found myself ensnared in my own trap.

“Explain this,” my wife said as she handed me her phone. “Take note at the 45 second mark.”

I recognized the app.

“I won’t try to explain,” I told her, “but let me show you what I have. Pay attention to what you are doing at about two minutes in.”

We still have security cameras.

….but we never, ever, look at them.

Author: Almost Iowa

55 thoughts on “My Security Camera”

  1. “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” Used to be, getting stoned was a youthful indiscretion. Now you get stoned for a youthful indiscretion, with no regard for the less researched indiscretions of those casting the stones, or for changing “what have you done for me lately” to “what have you done lately?”

    Of course, hypocrisy in politics is nothing new.

  2. We are thinking along the same lines these days, (And I would never invite Alexa with her inquisitive ears into my home). Although I do believe people ought to own their public actions, I do think that it is wrong to judge people for what they did decades ago when they were young and clueless. Who among us would stand up to that kind of scrutiny? Long live privacy, I say….

    1. If one purpose for punishment is to change behavior, there is no reason to punish after the behavior has been changed. Of course, another purpose is to set an example, and another might be that one cannot escape punishment for serious offences, but one must think deeply about this otherwise it becomes a witch hunt – which is where we are going.

  3. There is such competition to sell news these days, the bigger the scandal the bigger the audience. And humans being what we are provide plenty of scandals! I don’t have a security system but I have grown increasingly paranoid about the cameras on my iPhone and iPad and keep them covered most of the time. But are they also listening? How did they know I was talking about buying a new area rug and now kindly included options in the sidebar of my Facebook page? And how did Hannaford know I had just entered the store, sending me a text as I crossed the threshold letting me know I had coupons ready to use? It’s creepy!

    1. I keep the location services on my phone turned off. Otherwise, both Apple (iPhones) and Google (Android) are constantly pinging out your exact whereabouts to anyone who pays to know where you are.

      I quit Facebook in disgust a year ago after I created a test to verify that their application was reading the web browsing history on my smartphone. That is creepy. It is not that I am worried about anything they saw, it is more that one has to wonder what kind of mind thinks that is okay.

      1. You were smart to quit Facebook, Gregg. I wish I had that kind of self discipline. I am always seeing things in my FB newsfeed that reflect what I was browsing on the internet. It is just plain wrong! There is a whole lot of snooping going on. I had no idea I was so interesting!

  4. I’m not sure who has the biggest attitude – dog cats or me……. probably dog despite being no bigger than the cats. As for security cameras in public places, I believe it’s time for people to revolt.
    Regarding your shed, and Stan, well that is understandable😁
    I’m with Linda, I despise the propagation of fear, and refuse to bow to it.

    1. We once had a black Labrador named Josie. What can I say about her other than she was a better dog than I was a person. Anyone who approached our door would see nothing but claws and teeth in the window and hear her booming barks – but once inside, she was gentle, even thoughtful.

      My favorite Josie story was when my wife and I were cooking and our two year old son was running around the kitchen. He had gotten a hold of a wooden spoon and was using it to beat Josie on the head. We were so busy, we just left the two at it. Eventually Josie had enough and gave my son a gentle but firm nip on the hand. It was the first time she bit anyone. She then scowled first at me than at my wife and stomped away. I gave her an extra treat that night to apologize and she licked my face as if to say all was good.

  5. Given that I can point to several instances of being a jerk myself in very recent times, I can certainly sympathize with people having youthful indiscretions paraded in public (though I don’t think criminal activity falls in that category). This is a thought provoking post. Privacy seems to be dead these days; the small-town grapevine run amok.

    I haven’t resorted to security cameras, though I did have a wildlife cam up for a while. Didn’t stop the burglars (who were still in the house when I came home). That’s a long story.

    1. You are right about criminal activity, but even then young people do stupid things. That does not mean they should be given a pass, appropriate punishment is what changes behavior. On the other hand, once behavior has been changed, punishment should stop. I favor a reform that says that like statutes of limitation, criminal records should have an expiration date, perhaps after ten years of clean behavior. Some things can never be forgiven or forgotten – but too much is remembered.

  6. I think what really gets folks is a politician who acts holier than thou. No wonder some stupid thing done 25 years ago is held up and used o smack them in the face. If I ran for office I would confess to violating every one of the ten commandments whether or not I really did. It would be the easiest way to keep the record straight.

    1. Politics is interesting, we have scoundrels who pose as saints and those who are unabashed about being scoundrels. I am not sure which is worse. What we need is the one who admits that they were a complete idiot when they were young and are half an idiot now. A government run by half-wits would be a definite improvement.

  7. I’ve definitely been a jerk. I’m still a jerk sometimes. I’m lucky in that social media wasn’t around when my jerk levels were at their peak, but I’m sure there’s photos laying around that could be used as evidence. Just like dear old Stan, we all have things to hide in the shed!

    1. I will admit to being a jerk also – but only my wife claims that I am a jerk now. Well, maybe a few others too. Come to think of it, quite a few others. Which makes it a challenge to deny them all the proof.

      The hardest thing for a parent is when you are trying to discipline your teenager and they come back with something like, “Yeah, but grandma told me all about you….”

      There is only one defense and it works well. You say, “Yeah, and her mother told me things about her and guess what happened to grandma?”


      “The same thing that is going to happen to you.”

  8. What’s most odd about all this is the contrast between the name of the device — “security camera” — and the absolute inability of it to provide what it promises. The more people focus on providing themselves security through the use of everything from cameras to various sorts of weapons, the less secure they seem to feel.

    I know a few women who quiver at the thought of my roaming the countryside with my camera, or traveling alone — but they’re the same ones who seem to think that any trip to any place beyond their yard is going to result in fearful tragedy. I’m no dummy — there are neighborhoods I stay away from, and you’ll find me at home at 3 a.m. Otherwise? I’ve been mugged, and I’ve run off a dude breaking into my house, and I escaped a terrible hit and run with only blood on my sandals and a few missing teeth –but I’m still alive, and I’ve got better things to do than obsess over security.

    1. Being secure and feeling secure are two different things.

      The best all around defense against burglary, break-ins and assaults is a dog. Even a small dog, but the bigger the better. Crime is based on opportunity and when windows are left open and doors unlocked, opportunity presents itself, but few criminals want to be presented with a dog, especially a menacing one.

      Back when I worked for the police, I used to jog during the noon hour. I always got a kick out of a sign hung on a fence. It had a photo of two dobermans and block lettering that read: THIS IS JOCKO AND THIS IS SAM. BOTH CAN MAKE IT FROM THE HOUSE TO THIS FENCE IN UNDER SIX SECONDS: CAN YOU?

      Both security and safety depend on doing simple things. Keep your doors locked, wear a seat belt, keep a cell phone handy and know your neighbors. That takes care of 90% of everything. The last 10% requires a Saint Bernard.

  9. The yearbook thing is a tough one. Old enough to know better and yet 35 years ago (or thereabouts). And what was that school thinking? They totally failed their students.
    I’ve made a ton of mistakes in my life, a ton, especially as a teenager, but I’m a different person now and don’t want to be judged by what I did as a stupid young adult. I learned from it and have made up for it with greater compassion and understanding and sounder judgment.
    And now you have a camera for blackmailing your friends and family. Ha ha. A funny and serious post. 🙂

    1. Twenty years ago, the talk around the family table was about a son-in-law’s outrageous and illegal behavior. At one point, my mother-in-law had enough and said she did not want to hear another word of condemnation. Her tone spoke to her personal knowledge of the histories of everyone around the table. That night she asked me for my opinion based on my experience from working with the police.

      I predicted that in twenty years, he would become “a paragon of virtue”. I was wrong. It only took ten.

  10. I think part of the issue is that we have streaming info, but we think in terms of snapshots.
    You’re right, we’ve all been jerks in more than one time in our lives (cringing at some of the memories of me), but another big part is about what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, accountability of the times as well as the individual, and how far into the realm of harm you’ve swung your ax.
    How do we find the right balance for forgiveness?

    1. A lot of it has to do with the age of the individual and whether the offense was a product of the irrational exuberance of youth or malicious behavior. Keep in mind that the male brain is not done cooking until around age 28. At least that is what science says, but opinions differ.

  11. Wearing fancy dress is a good way to prevent camera recognition – just don’t publish it in a year book! A gigantic can of worms has been opened at the Kavanaugh hearing. I am looking forward to the spectacle and seeing the conclusion when the mob loses its fervor once their leaders have been consumed!

  12. Greg, in defense of personal security systems, we have cameras to monitor package deliveries & anyone approaching the house. Not that we live in a high crime area, but packages have been stolen off front porches on nearby streets. Cameras in the house monitor our dogs when I’m away & Robert’s at work. Just an added sense of security. I agree with the comments about the over abundance of public cameras & invasions of privacy. Of course, I think cameras are great catching crooks in the act or hit & run accidents! 📚🎶 Christine

  13. Difficult times in which we live. Just glad to have grown up before social media became ubiquitous. And while as an adult I try to be civil and clear in my communication, it does take effort. More than I would have given it as a younger person.

    1. Civil and clear. It doesn’t take much more than that. On first impulse I wanted to add, “kind” to the list and while one should always be kind, there are times when we just don’t feel like it, maybe because we have encountered a jerk. In those times, civility serves us best.

  14. We have security cameras in the hallways (hallways!!) at work. So, of course, we shimmy or sashay down the halls to give ‘them’ something to look at. This whole surveillance thing is way out of control. And we all disabled the cameras on our computers…..

  15. I am so glad that I grew up in a world without social media and ubiquitous security cameras. Although, I’m sure if someone is invented enough, they could dig though the shoeboxes in the closet and find evidence of me being a jerk. This is a big problem now, and will only get worse as technology continues to scream ahead of the pace of the law.

    1. Even if the photos in the shoebox do not reveal us as jerks, the fashions we wore back then are enough to derail any dreams of a future that we might have had.

    1. I want to make absolutely clear that I never taped a “kick me” sign to Nancy Gruber’s back. She has been claiming that since third grade and I categorically deny it. I will admit that I liked her – but not THAT much.

  16. My husband and I were having this conversation mere minutes before your post hit my inbox. There must be a crowd gathered in a big warehouse somewhere on each side of the aisle searching for materials that can be used to attack and drown political opponents. One other lesson learned this week is spend some time on your initial response because once that bell has been rung, there’s no calling it back. Strange time we live in.

      1. Watch the whole thing and pay special attention to the credits where I acknowledge all the little people, cats and the dog who made it possible.

        Note: the cats were very insistent on being included in the scroll, yet they did nothing more than jump up on things.

    1. There must be a crowd gathered in a big warehouse somewhere on each side of the aisle searching for materials that can be used to attack and drown political opponents

      It is an industry that not only digs this stuff up but spoon feeds it to social media and the press. Scariest of all is that social media and the press thrive on it.

      1. They not only thrive on it, they cultivate it and seek to expand its reach. The cultivation of fear and envy is supporting an increasing number of “industries,” and it’s tearing society apart while the cultivators grow rich.

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