First Week, first impressions

I am bad!  Ha!  Were you expecting that? I wasn’t.  I fully expected to be frazzled and at the end of my rope.  I’m not.  Not even close.  So far I am scoring well in the one class that has grades scored.  That’s Mass Comm 31 and I’m running at a 108%.  It would be 110% but for semantics.  Trick questions should be banned. ;~(

The first full week of school is behind me (coupled with my already in-progress online Mass Comm class) and it was a breeze.  I expect things will get a little more complex now, but not too much so.  I have to take and develop good pictures is all.  The morning class is about the basics (of taking a good picture) and we’ll probably shoot and develop at least ten rolls of B&W film.  The evening class is about individual projects, I have to turn in ten quality shots for the term in any discipline I choose…I’ll do five portraits and five landscape or animal shots.  The grading for the Individual Projects Class is based on improvement over the course of the term.  This should be relatively easy for me; since I’m a rank amateur, I will improve just showing up.

I am using the school’s film camera for this stage of my education.  The morning class is about film photography after all and I’ve always wanted to learn how to develop and make that particular kind of magic happen.  I’m easily fascinated with tech stuff, so this will capture my imagination and hold it for some time.  I decided to keep to the film process for the individual projects class too.  I’ll start using my Nikon DSLR next semester when I start Digital Photography classes.  I really want to learn this process from the ground up.  Photoshop can do some wondrous things, but imagine doing them without digital tech, eh.  Yeah, that’s why I’m doing it this way and you can do some amazing things in the darkroom.

The one thing that is standing out for me now is how unsteady my hands are.  Without the VR option (Vibration Reduction) of my DSLR, every shake is going to show.  I’ve fired off two rolls so far and I only notice the camera moved after I release the shutter, which is of course too late.  Unfortunately, there’s no “view” option on this thing.  I have to wait for it to be developed to see if anything came out at all.  :-O  Man, have we ever been spoiled!

As much as I thought I might be overextending myself, time wise, taking on a day class, a night class, and an online class; it hasn’t been near as bad as all that.  My one issue hasn’t been time, I have plenty of that.  It’s been that I’m not sitting in front of an instructor for the online course, so all the input comes from me and what I’m reading.  This is not optimal for me.  I get a lot from being in class it seems, and having to make up for that with my own reading is burdensome.  You all have read text books.  YECH!  Right?  Anyway, I don’t see them any differently.  For every module that called for reading from the text, I had to read it at least twice to capture the content, and still had to use the book to answer at least some of the quiz questions.  In my day,  that was unheard of…cheating.

In contrast, the photo classes are perfect.  well paced and I’m picking it up as I normally do, just from listening.  My Photo homework consists of rehashing my notes from the morning before, and I’m done.  Whereas, homework for Mass Comm takes hours, spent over days until I’m done.  Part of the issue Is that I’m so anal, the moment the instructor posts the lessons I’m on them and hammering away.  This is collaborative class so every chapter calls for some form of collaborative exercise.  The normal routine goes like this.  I slam through the reading and individual homework assignments/quizzes, then wait for the rest of the class to catch up so I can conclude that module.  These are mostly your typical teenage students who wait until ten minutes before the assignment is due to get it done.  This is great for them, but drives me bat-shit-crazy.  For instance, I would be done with this weeks assignments by now except that I have three collaborative exercises I need others to get on board for before I can continue.  UGH!  It’ll be Tuesday, end of day before they little bastiges get caught up.  ;~)  Anyway, unless I have no other way to fit a particular class into my schedule, I’ll be skipping the online option from now on.

I will say I am anxious about these two first rolls of film.  I’ve taken pics with a film camera before.  It was years ago though and I haven’t had to be concerned about shaky hands etc., since then…and I haven’t had to wait to see the results in years either.  I’ll develop these rolls this coming week and we’ll see.  I’ll post some here If I am able.  Black and White pictures are great to learn on.  With color, contrast is not as readily apparent.  We’ll see every nuance in a B&W pic, and every mistake too.  WHOOP!

I’ll post back here when the results are in.  Hopefully, we will like it!

It begins

I’ve been threatening this for almost a year now.  I think the time has come.  This is the perfect place and time to kick start the “Engage Me” project.  I have access to all kinds of artistic talent and facilities here at Las Positas College and I intend to take advantage.

Since starting this Mass Communications class, I’ve seen some of the more extreme examples of social media’s effect on lives, companies, regimes et al.  It is both frightening and inviting at the same time.  My little world of beating up liberals on Facebook isn’t even a zit on the butt end of worldwide interconnectivity via this new media.

In class, we are learning to use some of the tools associated with the new media phenomenon.  The following is a presentation I created using, a simple but truly amazing tool.  I’ve only incorporated the very basic components available in the interest of getting all my assignments done on time.  Still, this is a great starting point for my project and I can certainly build on this as I go.  It’s important to note that had I tried doing this several years ago, I’d have taken days to do so.  I finished this admittedly simple presentation in two hours.

Engage Me

God save me, but I can’t do this fast enough…

Twitter me this!

Attention friends and family!

As you may know, I am in school.  A requirement for one of my courses (Mass-Comm 31: Issues in Media) is a Twitter account.  You may also know, I don’t tweet.  Well, now I do; but, and you knew that was coming, this is for school only, please.  If you see me out there in the Twitter-verse; please, please, please don’t follow me or invite me, or whatever is appropriate there.  I spend too much time on FB, already.  (Who me?) Perhaps, when this is over, I’ll do as the instructor suggests and ‘remain connected’; then I’ll hunt you down and bombard you with 140 character artistic masterpieces. ;~)  BTW, how the heck does ANYONE express themselves in 140 characters?  This will have consequences!

I am quite excited about all this education stuff.  I was thinking (for a nonce, :-0) that it would wear off after my first assignments were due.  Ha, not even close!  This is great.  I have something to fill the gaps.  Unfortunately, though it isn’t Facebook, I still spend as much time on my butt, reading and keyboarding course related material.  This I think will wear off as I get used to the routine.  One thing I found quite amusing, yesterday as I was reading the text, my phone kept dancing across the table next to me as one after another notification from Facebook came rolling in, all about the most inane things one could imagine.  None of it was meaningful, really, and there I was reading about how social media had completely enveloped our lifestyles.  I had to put the book down and inform the Facebook world of my revelation before it sunk in that I had just demonstrated the point exactly.

It’s not all fun and games.  I find that reading text is just as tedious as it was in the 70s.  Back then, if I ran into a course that required lots of non-technical reading, I would have given up after a few paragraphs and winged it until I was failing the course, then stop going.  The difference this time, I guess, is that I’m really interested in the subject matter. Not only that, I’ve lived through most of its history, from “Do-Wop” radio to this near “tricorder” universe we live in now, so I’ve “seen it all”.  This is a perspective I think a lot of my classmates will not have, and as such, I’ll present a very different viewpoint for social dialog in the class…probably.  In the interest of learning and experiencing the discourse, I slog through.  Besides, class ensues in my lounge chair whenever I feel like it.

One drawback to having all this available time right now is that I am way ahead of the curve, as far as getting the work done is concerned.  I have nothing better to do with my time right now, so I spend a lot of it reading the text book and doing as much of the assignments as I can, then I go back and read the book some more, while I wait for the class to catch up…lol.  I imagine a bunch of kids who just finished Spring Semester and who are not quite ready to rock.  They aren’t as speedily zipping through the assignments.  This class is about Social Media, so we all must be connected.  I’m ready.  They aren’t.  None of them!

BTW: I don’t fear calling them kids because they are going to call me Mr. at least once…every stinking one of them. 🙂

Now, you know me!  Two hours after no one else had registered their Twitter names on the class discussion board so I can search for and follow them (this is an assignment), I’m sure I’ve done something wrong.  Not only will it be wrong, it will be ridiculously wrong.  Wrong enough that I will need to hang my head in abject humiliation (cybernetically, of course, since this is an online course).  Everyone will know who the Twitter rube is.

Searching frenetically through my new Twitter profile for the inevitable stupid mistake that has thwarted my most earnest efforts to “get connected”, I finally find and feverishly fix it.  I used a ‘#’ instead of an ‘@’.  “Fool!  FOOL”, says I.  But, no matter, I found it and I fixed it.

That was yesterday!  Still no one has posted their Twitter call-sign.  Nothing!  No catchy twists of their real names, no basic newbie-don’t-take-any-chances-on-being-too-cute names like mine, no Nom de guerre.  Sigh!

So, I wait!

Of course, I should mention that I am 80% through the week’s assignments already and they aren’t due until 11:59pm Tuesday next, but that would completely denude the anxiety, and I’ve already queried the instructor twice as to why this was going so slow. Do you think that was a bit aboveboard?  Harrumph!

To be sure, I start real school next week where I’ll be attending class at the College.  I’ll be far more taxed, time-wise.  I’m trying to get as much of this Mass Comm online course under my belt as possible before then.  This summer will be a good warm up for fall when I have a bit more of a commitment to make.  If I find the Summer schedule is too demanding physically, I still have time to draw back on the Fall schedule a bit.  Am I worried?  A bit, yes, but aside from family, I still have little better to do with my time; so, there is no excuse.  My back should be fine.  I am getting shots soon and the classes are mostly held in a lab environment so I can stand up as much as I need to for a break.

I know I can do this.  Every course I will take is one I selected and want to take.  The subject matter is what I’ve dreamt about doing for a lifetime.  When I finish here, what I create will be net/magazine-worthy and I will publish my work…unless it sucks, of course.  Still, I know this won’t be easy.  It is just what I want.  That’s usually enough.

When I’m inspired to write, I often have seen something that triggered the thought.  It has frustrated me in the past that I have no avenue to express the entire inspiration to you.  Frankly, other than some musical talent, I suck at what I call the “physical arts”, dancing and drawing, for instance.  Professional level camera skills and refined writing skills will fulfill that expressive desire for me.  This newer genre of written art, Haiku, seems to be tailor made for the Twitterverse.  I have experimented a little already.  Now I want to learn enough about Photoshop to make the edits I want and then add the thoughts that come to mind when I’m finished repainting my pictures…

You might ask, “You’ve waited all this time, why are you in such a hurry now?”

“Aha” I say, “I have until Nov 2018 to use the Voc Rehab money the Workers Comp Insurance provided after my injury”.

It’s a fair amount and coupled with what the state has pitched in, it could cover the entire path to the degree I aspire to, if I could squeeze all that course load into a year and a half that is.  I probably won’t, but I’ll get close and that’s good enough for us to finish on our own dime.  I’ll have all (well, most of) the Photo/Video gear I need by then, thanks to the Insurance Company’s Voc Rehab grant and the State’s grant.  We’ll find a way to finish the few credits I might have left, if any.  Aside from online studies, another way to crunch a little is to take night courses as well as having a daytime schedule.  I’m trying this out this summer and fall.  We’ll see!

So, zoom, zoom…  There is one issue I do have to address about being in a  rush, at least in the online studies world.  Back in the day, I found that the longer I dwelled on a question, the more likely I was to think of several different answers to it and then the doubt would creep in.  So, I got in the habit of blazing through tests as fast as I could go.  When I was done, I’d go back and review, but most times I found my first answer was the one.  I can’t go back now, at least I don’t think we can, so I must do it right first time.  No matter!  It’s just a different way to do the same thing.  It did cost me a point though on my second quiz.  I bet this will be another short learning curve issue.  GRRRRRRR!  Live and learn.

Thanks in advance for letting me be, Twitter-wise…just for now.


PS: One of the remaining assignments for this week is to write an essay on our experience with Twitter.  I see that I can simply cut and paste from here and I’ll have most of that finished. ;~) Let’s call it 85% done then. 😉