Brian's Ramblings

My thoughts in text, photo, and video form

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Craziness of Week 1 of Many to Come

Phew, I survived week 1 of this fall 2004 semester! All in all, I'd still say it was a good week, one that was busy, but fun.

My sinus infection, or at least what I believed was a sinus infection, has departed my body. I recovered fairly quickly, feeling ill on Monday, miserable on Tuesday, and then feeling strong enough to endure over 13 hours on campus on Wednesday. Amazing what drugs can do for one's body.

Wednesday was a test of endurance of sorts, both on my body and my relationship with Dr. Skouge. We would literally see each other for about 7 hours non-stop! If two people can co-exist after being in a room, no larger than a decent sized conference room, for that amount of time and still be able to laugh and smile at day's end...that in itself is an accomplishment!

Suffice it to say, Jim and I were laughing and smiling by day's end on Wednesday. Was it a mundane afternoon? Not by a longshot! We embarked on another project, requiring me to record television shows, which had been made in the past, with captioning open. Usually, captioning, if it exists, is "closed," meaning that it is not readily seen when a show is played. In order to access captioning, one needs to open the captioning, which I learned is contained on the audio track for a show.

Step one in this project was to locate the tapes of these television programs. After searching high and low, Dr. Skouge found a bunch of mini DV tapes that he believed were THE ones we wanted. The next step was to find the captioning converter, a device that "opens" captioning on a tape. Third, we needed to figure out how to set this system up, so that I could record the shows WITH captioning already on the show itself (it would be open-captioned). A few wires needed to be found, and after some searching high and low on Jim's part, we had all the pieces to this intricate set-up. Turned everything on, got the engine ready to roar, we were in business! But, ah, our first roadblock...the captioning wouldn't appear! After a while, it was discovered that these were NOT the correct tapes. We needed the original copies, which were on S-VHS tapes. So, back to hunting Jim went. In the process he almost got crushed by the electronic keyboard that is in the office. The very same keyboard that has provided us with hours of fun, almost was the source of tragedy. Apparently, Jim got entangled in cords that were attached to the keyboard, which in turn caused the whole stand to shift. A few more centimeters of shifting, and, boy, we would have had an ugly scene on our hands.

Imagine if you will, an ant being engulfed under a human finger. No matter what the ant's friends and family would like to do, there's no way that they could help their poor friend and loved one from being crushed. I was that helpless onlooker...but, all I could do was laugh!! I know, that sounds terribly insensitive and heartless...but the whole moment of it all was amusing for some reason! Luckily, there would be no tragedy on this day; Jim would survive and make his goal of seeing his Xth birthday. After the craziness of it all, he laughed as well and we both envisioned the mess that could have been.

After about a good hour or so of hard work on Jim's part, I was finally able to do something productive! I began to tape the television shows, with captioning opened. After we finish taping these shows, we will find appropriate segments and put together a nice little collection of video that will serve as a enhancement for students' learning of assistive technologies. I'm excited to be a part of this project, and just hope I can do just as good a job on it as the idea is in itself.

Around 6:55 that evening, both Jim and I would call it a day, in terms of being in the office. It was rather a small moment, but one that I felt was really neat. I was able to turn off all the lights that illuminate my workstation, providing a sense of closure to my "workday." The office has been adapted so that with a single press of a switch, I can turn on all the lamps and then turn them off just as easily. Having ended my day at work, I had to switch gears and assume the role of a student.

The room we have been delegated to, due to whatever reason, is not exactly conducive to any effective learning; or at least on this night it wasn't. We literally have a classroom in a hole in the wall; its small, cramped, cold, but we have electricity! Electricity is always a good thing. A room that fits 10, on a good day, was made to fit about 20. We would have student introductions, always a fun part of the first class meeting.

"I'm Bob and I work for such and such section of VR."

"I'm Mary and I work for such and such section of VR."

On and on this would repeat itself. My turn, "I'm Brian and I'm just a graduate student luckily, but I'm a Graduate Assistant this fall, so that will keep me busy!" I typed on my DynaWrite.

I'm sitting there thinking, "Holy cow (insert your own word, it'll fit!)! Everyone has an established career and is working. And here I am, JUST a student! I am so in the wrong place."

Class ended early, too early for my liking actually. I was psyched up to endure class until 9:35, and here we were being let out before 8?! In all seriousness, I was happy to be out early. The room started to feel much colder the more we were in there.

My ride was not due until 9:40, which meant I had a fair amount of waiting to do! Luckily, my counselor from Kokua (Disability Services at the University), doubled as my notetaker on this night, and said she would wait with me. I appreciated the company.

At 8pm, campus is eerily quiet and empty. I suppose this is in large part due to people doing "normal" things at such an hour, such as eating dinner, watching the Olympic coverage (in an anticlimactic state), perusing the Internet for Brian's blog....whatever it is, MOST people aren't going to be on campus THIS late! But, as I mentioned in a previous entry, "Life throws you lemons, make lemonade." That's what I hope to do, presented with this daunting challenge of enduring such a late class.

In all, I would have spent 13 hours and 45 minutes on campus on this day. Home was such a welcomed sight!!! The food was even more delicious than it usually is...on this night, my sister, Lynn, made a yummy roast and mashed potatoes. I love mashed potatoes, but I also love my rice. That rules out any chance of my being on any low-carb diet!

Upon reflecting on my class session, I thought to myself, I'm a working student as well this semester! I can finally say, and proudly, that I AM working (earning money) and going to school. I also began to view this situation as a great opportunity to learn of real-world situations that these counselors deal with in their everyday lives. This is NOT a new situation for me, being the only one in a class who isn't in an established just takes getting used to each and every time. I guess I would equate it to a boxer. The boxer might not feel at ease until taking that first blow to the body, and then s/he can wake up and begin to fight. Or take the case of a football player who gets injured and can't play for a while. He might practice for hours, but nothing can substitute live game action. Until that player takes another full-contact hit, he won't know if he truly is back in the game.

I've absorbed my first week, now I'm ready to tackle the semester!

On Saturday, Mortar Board would volunteer at my bowling league. This time, the project chair, Chanel, was really on top of things and secured enough help. On some occasions, this project would be forgotten to some degree, and I would need to scramble to find help at the last minute.
Would my bowling woes continue? It appeared that I had broken out of my slump, my first game was decent and my second game was a little better as well. I felt good again, confident to a degree!

How quickly can confidence leave you swimming in your own humility. My third and final game of the day was yet another performance to forget. Absolutely terrible. I believe I'm suffering from what is termed a mental block. Each week, I'm thinking I'm bound to screw up at some it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy to some extent! Until I can bowl three solid, quality games, this thought will haunt me. I also need to remember to keep telling myself, "one and clear." Don't get too high, nor too low...keep an even disposition. [What you've just read was my attempt at counseling my own self! We'll see how it works...]

This week is finally game week for the UH football Warrior team! Florida-Atlantic...a school that supposedly has athletic players, but is still considered a lower-skilled team overall. I'm excited that the first game of the season is finally around the corner!

My neighbor, a childhood friend of sorts, is getting married this Saturday. There was a brief moment where a decision had to be I attend the wedding or attend the first game of the season? A no-brainer, really. Sorry buddy, I'm headed to Aloha Stadium on Saturday night! I'm sure I'll see you and your wife together for a good, long time. First games of a season only come once a year! Perhaps, this is where some might question my me, I know where my priorities stand....weddings and all that stuff just aren't high on my list of things I WANT to see! Now, of course, if it was my OWN wedding, you bet your butt I'd be there! But then again, would I pick a date that conflicted with UH football?! Of course not! It's all about planning!

Random picture of the week:

Mortar Board at Ft. Shafter Bowl


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