Video Practice with the Canon 5D

I’ve been saving up to buy a new DSLR camera because I really would like one with HD video. In the meantime, I’ve been borrowing a Canon 5D Mark II from my school and filming random places I go.

Firstly, and most importantly, there is a beautiful little place called Woodstock Farm on Chuckanut Drive, right before that first 90 degree left turn. I can’t really pinpoint it any better than that. I had driven by it many a time and there was construction going on so I couldn’t stop and figure out what it was. When I finally did, I discovered a BREATHTAKINGLY GORGEOUS country estate built in the early 1900s by Cyrus Gates, who would later become known for establishing many of the parks around Bellingham. Though all the buildings are closed to the public, you can still walk the trails and through the fields and on the newly built boardwalk to a scenic overlook. And, as there are only two parking spaces (the city suggests you follow the Interurban Trail or walk from the North Chuckanut Mt. trailhead), there are very few people there so you basically get this whole place to yourself! Anyway, I’ve signed up to volunteer here with general upkeep of the property and so far, it’s been really great (though it’s getting a little too cold).

Here’s a 360 degree view from the middle of one of the “pastures” (more footage of Woodstock Farm is at the end of my 5D Weekend video at the end of this post). NOTE: All of these videos best viewed in hi-def fullscreen, as it is a 1080p outdoor/landscape video:

Secondly, I try to drive on every single road at least once. When I have to sit and look at topo maps all day for class, I’m really just looking up new roads so I can find out where they go (hopefully somewhere scenic). Also on Chuckanut Drive, there is a road called Hiline Road (which has been closed for the months of September and October, but is now open!). Hiline becomes gravel and then becomes Cleator Road and takes you basically straight up hill with only two switchbacks to the top of Chuckanut Mountain. Surprisingly, as there is no signage anywhere, there’s a parking lot with picnic tables and bathrooms! And access to the Chuckanut Ridge Trail. Unfortunately, it was freezing and there was a thin layer of snow but it’s definitely a place to come back to in the spring, perfect for a picnic and a hike.

It was kinda dark/wintery/overexposed/foggy so the visuals aren’t so good but here again is a 360 degree view at the top of Chuckanut Mountain (or rather the parking lot):

And finally, a couple weeks/months ago I filmed my weekend in order to learn all the controls on the 5D and the basic features of Final Cut Pro X. My dad and sister came up to Bellingham and we went to Teddy Bear Cove (also on Chuckanut Drive!) and Woodstock Farm. The next day was just hanging out with friends, trying to make them do cool things for the camera, generally failing.


I Donate Plasma

If you are a college student, and would like to make extra money while “saving a life,” you should consider donating plasma.

I’ve now donated five times. It’s really easy and I’ve made approximately $170.

This is plasma. And here’s a quick summary from Wikipedia: Plasma is the yellow liquid in which blood cells are suspended and it makes up about 55% of your blood. It is 90% water and also contains proteins, clotting factors, etc. Plasma is used to manufacture medicines to treat immune system disorders.

The process is very simple. Basically, whenever I feel like it, I head over to my local Bio Life Plasma Center. The first time you go you have to go through a medical screening to make sure you are healthy. This takes an extra hour. A normal donation will take 45 to 90 minutes. I have super small veins and therefore must pump blood really slowly so it takes me an extra long time. But this probably won’t happen to you. Anyway, on a normal donation, you scan your fingerprint, answer a couple questions (Have you taken illegal drugs using a needle in the past week… Have you gotten a tattoo in the last 6 months… etc) and then a “nurse” (I don’t know what to call them) checks to make sure you’re ok to donate. This means checking your blood pressure and pricking your finger to test your blood’s protein and iron levels. Then you proceed to the donation area (which is a giant room with about 60 half-bed half-chair contraptions). You choose a chair based on your donation arm of choice and a “nurse” will come over to help you.

(People don’t actually look like that or this would be a frightening experience. I blurred the faces.) Basically a needle is inserted in your vein (I look away and distract myself during this part because the idea of needles makes me sick although the actual process doesn’t really hurt) and then blood is pumped out, spun around and the plasma is separated, and then pumped back into your arm. This happens about 6 times. Pretend I look like this:

I hate the thought and appearance of needles. But for the sake of blog expression, this is what the plasma donating setup looks like.

Then you’re done! And you get an injection of saline to replenish your bodily fluids which makes you feel super cold and tingly. You check out and receive money on your “plasma debit card.” Hooray!

Dear College,

College essay by Hugh Gallagher, author of Teeth.



I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.

I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat 400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

But I have not yet gone to college.

My college essay writing inspiration.