All posts by Bill Genereux

Tony Adams – Adventure Cyclist

Here is a mini-documentary I made along with the students in my digital literacy class. Everyone was to make a video 2-4 minutes long about someone who is interesting that you don’t know well. (Here is the official DS106 video assignment.) I found Tony pedaling his recumbent bike along my morning commute, so I stopped to see if he would visit with me. This is the result.

I wrote about some of the challenges of making video this in an earlier blog. Needless to say, the shorter the video, the harder you have to work at making it something worth watching. I probably spent over ten hours making this thing, but I like how it turned out.

Thomas Pandolfi Pianist

Last night Emily invited me to go along with her and her friend Haley to attend a piano concert at the Brown grand in concordia. The pianist was Thomas Pandolfi from Washington DC and he performed works by various composers from America in honor of the Veterans Day holiday.  He began and ended with Gershwin. I think he adores Gershwin. I would not know Gershwin except for the fact that we sang Gershwin’s summer time in high school chorus. I have to hand it to my public school music educators. They did exposes to some of the greats. New line

He began and ended with Gershwin. I think he adores Gershwin. I would not know Gershwin except for the fact that we sang Gershwin’s summer time in high school chorus. I have to hand it to my public school music educators. They did expose us to some of the greats. New line

He was very eloquent and theatrical. He strolled out onto the stage and mesmerized us with  his virtuosity. He had an error about him that he plan to bring culture to the backward people of the heartland. Emily giggled uncontrollably at first but I made her quit. She was making me laugh too.

These are some sketches I made.  I forgot to bring my usual small sketchbook along with me to this concert but I had a small folded piece of paper in my wallet to make the sketches on. It was the hunting license I had printed out just the day before. I can print another one.

 

Thomas Pandolfi in concert

Brown grand theater

Concordia Kansas

November 11, 2019

Ink Wash on Self Portrait Index Cards

Recently, I’ve been collecting self-portraits made on index cards. I’ve traveled to several different high school career fairs over the last few weeks, and borrowing this idea from Lynda Barry, I have begun asking the high school students to draw portraits of themselves for me on index cards.

I ordered myself an ink grinding stone and an Asian/Chinese calligraphy brush as described in Lynda Barry’s One! Hundred! Demons! book.

Although I ordered them separately and several weeks apart, my stone, brush & ink arrived on the exact same day that Lynda’s new book Making Comics arrived in the mail.

I was eager to get busy with my new brush and ink. Lynda suggested to just experiment with using it, so that’s what I did.

After getting the feel of grinding the ink and laying it down on paper for a while, it wasn’t long before I was experimenting with putting washes on some drawings made for me by students on index cards. Here are some examples that I just love:

Stryker Hake

Abigail Hodges

derek d

Destiny Black

I feel like I am still getting the hang of using the Chinese brush & ink, but I love using it and how much it adds to these already fabulous images.

Cross Country Traveler Tony Adams

Thursday evening near sundown while driving home from work, I noticed the strangest thing. I saw a man a little ways off of the road climbing into what looked like a plywood box on wheels. The box looked like it was a bike trailer attached to some sort of bicycle. Like I said—strange. The next morning I was going to work I saw the man again, but this time he was on the road with his human-powered contraption.

Bike House Trailer

I stopped to visit for a few minutes with the man and asked him where he was going. He said he was heading to Colorado. As I drove off and headed towards work, I thought to myself that I should do the same assignment as my Digital Literacy students are working in their online course – the mini-documentary and that I should interview the cycling man for my project.

Immediately I thought about all of the reasons this idea made no sense. It would be awkward, even scary asking the stranger for an interview. I had some other things I wanted to be doing at work, so it would be an inconvenience. I didn’t have a video camera. I all had on me was a dated iPhone and old iPad Mini, both of which had their storage filled to the brim. I would have to delete some stuff to make room to record. It was freezing cold outside and a stiff wind was blowing.

So I stopped at a nearby convenience store, picked up a few energy bars and water, and drove back to where I thought I would find the man. After driving a few miles, I caught back up to him and asked if he could spare a few minutes to talk to me. He agreed, so we found a spot where we could pull off of the road and maybe get out of the fierce wind for a bit.

I learned his name was Tony Adams and he was returning to Colorado after riding out to Virginia and back. He told me he’s been doing these trips for the past 19 years and that he sleeps every night in his 600+ lb homemade house trailer. It is tiny but has several amenities like a propane cook stove, a DVD player and television, a cell phone and a solar panel for charging his devices. He purchased the recumbent bike he was riding and modified it for pulling the heavy trailer that he built by hand from scratch.

Many of the items he uses he finds along the road as he travels, including the three flags that he flies, various electrical chargers and devices. One thing he always keeps an eye out is for old cellular phones that contain SD cards. One card he found had over 30 movies stored on it, providing him hours of entertainment.

Tony was very inspiring to meet, and it makes me want to try to be a little more like him. Just do your own thing and don’t worry too much about what others think about it.

Some of the challenges:

  • It was so frustrating to get the video off of my iPhone. It took me forever, and I don’t think it should be this hard.
  • It is scary talking to a stranger. I really had to psych myself up to even do it.
  • I planned to do several other things on Friday morning. It was inconvenient to change my plans. I had many excuses in my mind not to go back to talk with him.
  • Didn’t have my best camera for recording, only an iPhone and old iPad Mini, both of which were completely full. I had to delete apps & podcasts to free up storage for this project on the fly. This was rough because as I’m trying to work the recording quits so I’m trying to delete more stuff so I can record some more.
  • After listening to the recording, I have more questions I wished I had thought of, but it was freezing cold. Probably around 30 degrees.
  • My batteries drained quickly in the cold. And I kept running out of space and had to delete more apps and content.
  • I hoped to get the video edited over the weekend, but that didn’t happen. It is going to be a challenge to get the thing edited during the week to my satisfaction.

Benefits of doing this:

  • It was very fulfilling talking with Tony. He’s an inspiration. He only moving 2-3 miles per hour but he’s traveled to Virginia and back.
  • In theory, I should be doing the assignments I give to students right along with them, but in practice, it isn’t feasible to always do it. I feel like doing the same challenging assignment, I am reminding myself of exactly what it is that I’m asking my students to do.

I’m still working on the video editing part of the assignment, but the hardest part, meeting a stranger and getting the recordings is done.

Free Video Editing and Content

I am always looking for ways to help students minimize the costs in their learning. One gaping gap between what we do in my digital media classes and finding affordable or ideally, free resources to do our digital stuff has been in the area of video editing. I have been looking for a quality free video editing tool for a long time and I finally heard about a good one this week from my friend Mike Wesch on the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast. It is called DaVinci Resolve, and I can’t wait to download and try it out.

Another resource Dr. Wesch recommended that I hadn’t heard of before is Videvo, which has high-quality, free video footage and sound, as well as premium content that paying members can access.

Finally, I found on Dr. Wesch’s website a treasure trove of video editing resources about how to make high quality videos. These are found on the Anth101 film school page.

Jazz Band Drawings

I really like this group drawing assignment from Lynda Barry. Each student drew a self-portrait as a member of a jazz band. Then the students copied several of the portraits on to a stage to create a whole band. This is a fantastic idea!

Lately, I have been having my own students do some self-portraits. We did One recently during our “career week” in which we drew portraits of ourselves doing the job or profession we thought we wanted to do as a young child, around 9 years old. It was pretty fun.

We also did the “drawing jam” exercise as Lynda B. discussed in her book Syllabus, (p108-9) in which you fold a piece of paper up so it makes 16 squares. Then you pass the paper around with each student writing the name of a job/occupation or a type of person. So you could have “doctor” or “dancer” or “nerd” or whatever. You only get 10 seconds to write this as a title in one of the squares. You keep passing the paper around until each square is filled. Next, you pass the paper around from person to person, allowing one minute to make a drawing of that person. Each person in the class makes the sixteen square paper and you are working on making one minute drawings on different pages each time until all of the pages have sixteen drawings on them.

In my class, we took another day and colored the drawings in with crayons. They colored and I read a chapter to them out of the book we are reading as an assigned reading. The book is Darius the Great is Not Okay. It has been a long time since a teacher has read a book to them and also a long time since they colored with crayons. But one thing I have noticed with college freshmen is that they enjoy doing things they enjoyed doing in elementary school but have long since forgotten about.

 

Some other Lynda Barry assignments I like:

Jim – The Devil Cat. (Make a comic about a story you just told or heard)
Three Phrases (What happens when you use different captions on the same drawings?)

 

Fish Head Soup

In a Facetime chat with my friend Maximo Alacar this week, he mentioned they were having “salmon head soup” for dinner. Max is my buddy from the Navy. He grew up in the Philippines and is largely responsible for the predilection that my family has for Asian food.

“You try the fish heads, Bill.” -Max Alacar

Around here, we eat rice probably as much as we eat potatoes, which is an unusual thing in Kansas. I’m kind of picky about the rice I eat. No “Uncle Ben’s” or “Minute Rice” around here. I like to go to the Asian store to get white jasmine rice fresh from Thailand or Vietnam.

But I’ve never had fish-head soup before. Below is the recipe Max said to try. He said it is called sinigang na ulo. I might actually try it.

spinach
tomatoes
onions
Tamarind sinigong soup packet

Max said I could use the head of the trout I caught a while back that is still in my freezer. The vegetables, I can grow in my garden. Since it is all wintery, and I’m out of fresh garden vegetables, it might be a while until I get around to trying this dish. 😉

I have to admit that when I heard about sinigang na ulo, I also heard a theme song for it. The Doctor Demento song “Fish Heads.” But this morning, when I went to look for the song to share here, I was surprised to learn that there is a video that goes with the song. I had no idea! Anyway, here is the Fish Heads song with video. I dedicate it to my dear friend Max.

Fox and Barred Owl

Yesterday when I was out exercising my dog Daisy, she got really excited and wanted to chase after a creature she saw. It was a fox! There was a fox running through the edge of town! I’ve never seen a fox in town here before. I was on my bike, so we followed it for a while, but wow that thing was really fast!

I’ve been hearing a lot of Barred Owls lately. I didn’t hear much from them during the summer months, but we have been hearing them all winter long for several years now.

According to Wikipedia, these owls haven’t been common on the Great Plains states, but in recent years they have followed the Missouri River and its tributaries westward. This makes sense to me. We live right along the Republican River, one of the Missouri’s tributaries. The barred owls have finally found their way to us. Sometimes I can count six or seven hooting and calling to each other. If you haven’t heard their calls, they are really unique.

This is a recording I made of them calling outside of our house a couple of years ago.