Writing the Unthinkable Part 1 – Some Initial Drawings

For two months, I have been dreaming about attending Writing the Unthinkable with Lynda Barry. I wanted to attend the October edition, but I couldn’t make it work, so as soon as the November one was scheduled and announced, I signed up right away.

Well, November 23rd finally arrived last Saturday so I drove out to Wisconsin with my dog Daisy, and I attended that workshop. Below are the first drawings I made:

This is me in a spacesuit taking Daisy along too.

This is me turning into an elephant.

This is me turning into an onion.

And this is me walking Daisy in a Batman suit.

Stay tuned. There are more stories and drawings coming soon!

The South Room

This is just an experiment using After Effects to animate a childhood memory. Sleeping on a cot in the south room of my grandmother’s house, watching the Twilight Zone on a Saturday night while my grandparents & parents played cards. It was a special time because I was the oldest, I got my own room and got to stay up late watching television.

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.