Brian's Ramblings

My thoughts in text, photo, and video form

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Words Can Speak Louder than Images

I think I've hit a writer's block as far as my blogging goes. I don't feel that relaying my daily activities for the week is that interesting to be honest! And being one who values people taking the time to read my blog, I'll try to step up my writings a bit...make them a bit more dynamic and fun to read. With that said, I'll share the highlights of my week, as opposed to being caught up in details for the week.

I've finally been officially hired as a Graduate Assistant with the University's Center on Disability Studies! I'm very happy and relieved to have the process over and done with. On Monday, I had to get a TB skin test read; my doctor suggested that if I could find someone on campus to read it for me, I could save myself a trip back to the doc's office.

My plan was to visit the training room at the athletic complex. The people there all know me, as I'm around the football team so much. So, I asked one of the athletic trainers if there was anyone available to read my TB test and was informed that the doctors would be in around 2 that afternoon, and that it would probably be best if they read it.

Considering I would be in class at that time, I quickly had to think of an alternative plan. I navigated my way up to the Student Health Center on campus, and found the staff there to be very helpful. A doctor read my test, and filled out a form saying I was cleared.

I then had to have another form notarized, which meant visiting another building with a qualified notary public. I got my form notarized and then proceeded to turn these into the CDS Administration Office. Finally, after many opportunities to run around like a chicken without a head, I had submitted all the forms required for my official hiring. Relief!

On Wednesday, I had a great day at Dr. Skouge's (Jim's) office. This week, Melissa and Lei, from Miloli'i (a small fishing village on the island of Hawaii) visited. They worked on editing pieces from their Summer Fun 2004 experiences. It was nice having their presence in the office. They're enthusiastic about learning and are genuinely happy to have the opportunities that they've been presented with. I received feedback on some work that I had started on from Jim; that was helpful. I now have a clear task that will take some time for me to complete, but it WILL get finished! I also duplicated more CDs for SpEd 480.

Later in the afternoon, I asked Jim if he could help recruit help for my bowling league on Saturday, as Mortar Board, the group who normally helps, had another event on the same day so finding volunteers from that source was difficult. Jim was more than willing to do this and he asked if I'd make a short announcement on video. Along with this announcement, I informed him that I had come up with a third installment of my peanut joke.

This peanut joke has taken on a life of its own! It started off innocently enough, where one day I told the joke to Jim and despite his failing to see the true humor in the joke, he suggested I deliver the joke to students in his class via video. I agreed to do so. The next week, I was fortunate enough to actually visit his class in-person as I wrote in my last entry. Along with my remarks about taking risks, I provided a second installment of this joke. It was never meant to take on a life of its own; it was more of an attempt to humor MYSELF! But, somehow his students found it funny, and as I told Jim, "the more I'm encouraged, the more I'll do!"

So, here I was delivering this third installment of this joke on video, and although it was somewhat amusing, I couldn't help but think, "How ridiculous has this become?!" I promised that this would be the last of the peanut joke. It's safe to say that I took the idea as far as I could and have now run it into the ground. There will be NO resurrection!

The company in the office, Melissa, Lei, and Steve, couldn't contain their laughter for a while. Jim and I sat there looking at each other, in disbelief that humor had been found in this joke, and eventually we couldn't stop laughing! Laughter is such a healthy activity; it allows one to feel happy and enter another world of sorts, one where there are no immediate problems or stress.

By the time we had completed making this video announcement, it was time for me to head to my late Wednesday class. I was geared up for class, ready to learn. I had eaten a meal, drank a soda, had a good laugh...things were good!

This week's class was in a new location, far removed from the cramped room we once occupied. Things looked to be good. I began to hit the obligatory wall around 7:45pm, my eyes suddenly became very heavy. Time had finally caught up to me. I might have nodded off for a minute or two; around 8pm I was alert once again, but my head had become sore. I felt an intense pressure just above my eye sockets. I had succumbed to a migraine headache; this one came out of nowhere! Somehow, I dug deep within and managed to endure the rest of class. We had small group discussion, and luckily I had done my homework and had prepared answers to share as it related to the case study we were looking at. It pays to be prepared! I mentioned nothing about not feeling good; complaining wouldn't help the matter any.

By the time class ended, it was about 9:15pm...this was probably the latest I've ever been on campus in a classroom...I was ready to get out of there! Some classmates were nice and accompanied me out of the building. On the way to the elevator, I nearly allowed my body to get the best of me; I felt nauseous and was ready to vomit. But, even though I felt really sick, I had much pride and felt I had to stay strong in order to not cause myself embarrassment. Perhaps this is where my ethnicity comes into play; Asians tend to be very proud people, they always strive to put their best foot forward. Somehow, someway, I managed to find my way to my ride and made the 30-minute trip home without throwing up.

Home was a much welcomed sight on this night. No sooner that I went into the house, I headed straight for my room and grabbed my emesis bowl. That night, I threw up a couple times; I felt a little better after that, though. I took some medicine, felt a little better and decided to try and carry out my normal routine of perusing my e-mail before bed. This probably was NOT the wisest of ideas, as I had to try really hard on focusing which in turned caused my head more stress. I felt really icky, so I figured I'd head to bed.

The next day, I was up in my chair by 5:30am. My parents said goodbye, and there I sat in the same position in which they left me until about noon; I fell asleep in my chair. I awoke to find my neck stiff, and my head stuffy. I still wasn't "right." I tried to eat lunch, but my appetite wasn't really present. Around 2:30pm, my mom called to check on me and asked if I wanted to lie down. I thought this might help my recovery so I agreed; my mom left work early and I was soon in bed sleeping.

I took about a 4 hour nap, awoke for dinner, ate a little and took more medicine. Earlier in the day, I had e-mailed Jim, alerting him of my situation but vowed that I would make it into work on Friday. Things looked bleak to be honest...prior to showering I felt nauseous yet again, and vomited quite a was NOT a pleasant sight. I showered, felt a little better, but nowhere near to feeling up to go out. I was determined to be well enough by Friday. There was a UH football scrimmage to attend, things to do at Jim's, and a volleyball social to attend with the Golden Key International Honour Society...I WAS going to be well by Friday!

I had a good night's sleep and awoke on Friday morning feeling all right! My head had finally cleared to the point that it wasn't bothering me much at all. Maybe just a faint sign of pain, nothing I couldn't handle.

The practice field of the UH football team was a great sight to behold on this day. It provides me with this odd sense of relaxation and happiness; I suppose this is in large part due to the fact I'm surrounded by people I genuinely enjoy and vice versa. There was a heightened sense of excitement in the air; players were excited about the scrimmage, the Scout Bowl, that was to take place.

Scout team players, players who simulate the opponent for the starters but see no game time action, would be provided with an opportunity to experience full-contact action. Contact is rarely seen at UH practices. The scrimmage was full of high energy, all out efforts, and hard hitting! A coach later commented to his colleagues, "This is the most excited that I've seen the guys in a while!" I would agree with that statement.

I approached a few of my friends on the team about helping at bowling, as this Saturday they had a rare day off since there was no game or practice to attend. All three of the guys said yes. I was excited about getting the help for one, and happy that they would see me participating in MY sport.

I had also recruited Mortar Board alumni to help out. A few replied saying they'd be happy to help. Things looked good! I sometimes over think things too much. Case and point: I was happy to have secured all this help, but I also felt a pressure to perform at my best. I didn't want to have a poor outing...I know the guys from the team would razz me if I bowled poorly, that's just a normal aspect of friendship!

On Friday, Jim relayed to me that one of his students was really interested about helping out on Saturday. He couldn't recall her name, but indicated that she might just show up. Even more pressure!

Friday was a fun day; I found out that I was officially hired as a GA by CDS. Phew! I also enjoyed the company of Melissa and Lei. They showed me their work that they had produced over the week; awesome stuff! I commented to them that they had produced something that was better than anything I had done, and I really meant this! Prior to this, Jim had asked me what I thought of the comments that his students had provided in response to the video pieces of mine that they watched the week prior.

The feedback was very overwhelming and a bit surprising to read. I suppose one doesn't truly realize the impact that s/he might have on others until they hear/read it from others themselves. The CD that the students were provided contained one of the word poetry pieces that they had watched when I visited their class. They could have easily skipped the second viewing, but from what I read in the comments provided, they took the time to watch it again. One student even had a significant other watch it as well. Jim commented, "You might just be onto something here! I want you to do more of these (word poetry pieces)."

I had created a DVD earlier in the week of my pieces. Jim had suggested that I show my work to Lei and Melissa. So, I set up the DVD and had it run. I think the Lei and Melissa enjoyed it; after it was finished, they asked if they could have a copy to take back to Miloli'i to share with the youth there. I was more than happy to oblige. I'm proud of this work and I'm happy that people want to share it with others.

Later in the day, they mentioned going to the volleyball game that night. I said I was going as well, so they insisted that Jim come along! Ultimately, Jim did make it to the game. I'm happy about this, since he's taking the time to have FUN!

An odd thing happened on Friday afternoon. Jim had moved into the computer lab for the day, as it was empty and provided him with a quiet environment to work in. The super computer I use was being utilized to create a DVD; Steven mentioned he had to make a DVD, so I suggested he use that computer, as it's the fastest one we have. I didn't mind at all; as Jim says, "We don't need ownership of everything!" In any case, I saw a chance to pretend to be a professor. An empty room, A/V equipment at my disposal, an audience...what more was needed?!

So, I asked Jim if I could show a DVD on the big screen; he said sure. Steven had come into the lab, and helped set things up as well. So, there I was...preparing to take on the role of professor. In order to believe it, you have to envision it first. "Good afternoon class, welcome to SpEd 480. My name's Mr. Kajiyama, but you can call me Brian...To start the semester, we'll be watching two video pieces." At this point, Jim realizes what's going on and calls a halt to everything. "C'mon, we have to do this right! We need an audience!" Not even a few seconds after hearing those words, here comes a group of about 15 people into the room! I'm thinking, "Holy cow, what the heck have I got myself into?!"

Jim introduces me very briefly and tells me to say about being put on the spot! I say something to the effect of "I'd appreciate any feedback after you watch these videos." The videos begin...the subject of these word poetry pieces aren't light at all; I make some strong accusatory statements through them.

The students sat there, probably caught off guard as to what they were watching. As it ends, I elicit feedback, much like Jim would do, "Okay, maybe we can go around and have each person share a little something that they felt after watching the videos." The first student said it had left her speechless, as it was such a powerful message. The next student also had positive comments. And then time had run out, Jim felt pressured to let them get to their class. Before everyone left, however, I received two more comments, one of which was to make these pieces multilingual, which is an excellent idea. I hope to explore this idea more in the near future. Another student mentioned that he works at a middle school and that his students would benefit a lot by watching these pieces and possibly meeting me. We exchanged e-mails and I hope to be in contact with him to set something up.

After everyone departed, Jim and I reflected on what had occurred. Complete strangers, who don't know me from the next guy, had just come in and watched something that affected them in one way or another. That's pretty amazing! As one of Jim's students summed up so succinctly, "'Pictures worth a thousand words', but words can also be worth an infinite amount of pictures."

During the viewing, I jotted down notes, and have ideas on how to improve what I have. The music I selected to accompany my video was a song by Enya. Jim envisions that we will have all original music pieces on our future productions, thanks to Patrick's talents, the newest hire in Jim's office.

On Saturday, bowling went great, as far as the volunteer situation turned out. We ended up with 10 volunteers, a perfect amount. My mom and I picked up my friend, Lamar, and proceeded to the alley. When we arrived, some Mortar Board alumni showed up and it was nice to see them again. One of Jim's students arrived as well, and that was great to see. She was very excited and enthused to be at the alley. Unfortunately, to be honest, her name escapes my memory, which I feel terribly about!

Nick and Jack, a couple other friends of mine, arrived soon after as well. All of the volunteers appeared happy to be there and helping the league. Lamar helped me for all of my 3 games bowled. It was fun to have his company, as he would be a positive source of encouragement all the way through. He also knew when I made a bad shot and would say something to the effect of, "C'mon B! We can't be having you do that, let's go!" Nick and Jack knew that we'd bowl afterwards, just for fun, and they would attempt to psych me out the whole time, saying things like "Yep, that's how it'll be when we bowl!" That was fun stuff for me.

We completed league play, I ended the day having done average; nothing spectacular, but nothing terribly bad...well, okay, my second game was horrendous. I always seem to have 1 bad game a week; I'm really not sure why this is. In any case, the guys were excited to bowl, I was, too.

I thanked the volunteers for coming, I specifically thanked Jim's student (I know for sure). However, her name STILL escapes my memory! Argggh. During the bowling, I observed her shooting video with a DV mini camera, and also took pictures with a digital camera. I'm assuming she'll use this footage for a project in Jim's class; I don't know for sure though. Hopefully I'll be able to be in contact with her, as it'd be nice to get a copy of the digital picture she took with me. I'm sure Jim will track this student down this week. Again, I apologize to her for forgetting her name!

Bowling with my friends was super! Athletes LOVE competition, regardless of what it is. I'm a highly competitive person, I hate losing or not doing my best. Nick and Jack kept talking trash to me as they bowled. It was close all the way through, between Nick, Jack, and I. Although Lamar wasn't doing as good as he hoped, he still plugged away, trying his best to knock pins down. Later he'd say that he hadn't bowled in years...sure Lamar, excuses, excuses. I'm kidding, of course. I bet with practice he'll kick my butt, so I best watch what I say.

For the first game, I barely held on, with Nick coming oh so close to beating me. A second game was a must! Jack was very consistent throughout. I'm not sure if the pressure got to me, but I really didn't bowl my greatest. I left the door wide open for someone to beat me and sure enough, in the end, an unconverted spare in the 10th frame would be my downfall. Jack stepped up like a champ and did what he had to do. Lamar came close to doing us all in as he nearly bowled a turkey (3 strikes in a row) in the 10th.

All in all, we had a great time enjoying each other's company. Now the big question is, who will win the tiebreaker....I definitely look forward to that! Bring it on, Jack!

After bowling, I got a much needed haircut. It's nice and short now, I like it. Longer hair annoys me; it gets too hot and icky.

On a happier note, I received my PC back from my computer tech friend! Unfortunately, he had to clean out everything and start from scratch, meaning all of the programs I obtained from friends and family, etc. are no longer, and many other files of entertainment are no where to be found. But, I'm just happy my computer works! I have a virus program installed that I've set to scan every night, and I have a firewall operating at all times. It's funny how you don't think about computer security, until you, yourself, experience problems. I've discontinued using any Microsoft products for the Internet, such as Outlook Express and Internet Explorer, opting for the more secure Netscape, Opera, or Mozilla browsers.

In the near future, I'll purchase a Mac workstation as to allow me to be productive at home. My idea is to bring work home on an external hard drive and use my Mac to do work (i.e. video editing) and bring it back to the office when I'm finished. This system will be purchased using my earnings from work, as Social Security policy allows one to do. I'll discuss this more in a future entry.

Randomness of the week (yay! it's back):

Pictures from the Scout Bowl (UH Football scrimmage)

Steven, Lei, Melissa, and Jim meeting at the
computer lab

Until next time, have a great week! And always beware of nasty viruses, of any sort!


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