Sunday, August 25, 2013

Collages and Video Editing Memories

I've always been a fan of photographs.  With the advent of digital photography, I took a lot of shots and made physical copies of my favorite photographs.  However, a few years ago,  I took interest in two things that also involved media. 

First, I learned to love making photo collages.  I had purchased an iPad 2 for my mom but used the device occasionally.  During my time on the device, I discovered a few apps I liked including one called "Pic Collage".  It was a free app that allowed you to create free form collages.   After using the app for a while, I feel in love.   I loved using the app to combine multiple photographs focusing on one subject matter.  In a sense, it was a digital version of scrap booking.  

Second, I learned how to edit and create digital videos.   The credit for the initial motivation goes to a person I know.  The person was doing some video projects for a basketball league I play in.  It was due to this person that I started investigating how to edit and create digital videos.  As I had a iMac, I realized I had a built in program called iMovie.  It was a simple matter of importing video into the program, editing the video, saving the result to my computer and then uploading online.  

When I first started doing these two things, it was mostly for myself.  I created collages of subjects I liked.  I created highlight videos of my basketball games (though others were involved too).   It was quite fun to do. 

In the past week or so, I was creating a collage for a vacation trip that dated back to 2005.  There were some nice photos and I wanted to share with my friends.   While I was creating the collage, I stumbled upon some VIDEO from another trip in 2005.  After the collage was done, I quickly created the video as well.  

I was surprised at the positive reaction to the collage and video.   Many people thanked me for bringing back some great memories from 2005.   Though I did not realize it at the time, 2005 was both a time of transition for personally and a special time for that particular group of friends.   The group had mostly met a year earlier and hung out a LOT for a few years after. 

Today, the group has mostly dispersed.  Pockets of people still talk and meet up every now and then.  It is not likely the entire group will be getting together like we did in 2005.  However, the memories we shared will always remain and thankfully, I was able to capture them in collage and video form for my friends to enjoy.  That definitely made it worth my time to put them together.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Humbling Yet Learning Season

The summer is wrapping up and so is my second summer basketball league on Wednesday nights.  Tonight was the first round of the playoffs and my team (1-6) was a major underdog against the #2 seed (5-2).   We battled but ultimately lost 67-45.  I scored 15 points to lead the way but this season was very interesting.

I came off the spring season with two championship titles.  The spring season was very draining and I was planning to be a coach / role player for my summer league teams.  For my Friday league, the team had enough firepower where I played a little bit and focused on coaching.

My Wednesday team was a different story.  I had a lot of veterans and I thought we could contend in the playoffs and maybe the championship.  Alas, it never happened.  Our team was a lot older and a few steps slower than other teams.  We also had some inexperienced players and getting everyone to click proved to be a challenge.

If there was a mistake that was made, it was that I misread the capabilities of my team.  I thought we needed to fast break more but in fact we needed to be opposite.  Some of the newer guys just weren't used to playing at a fast pace and a slower pace was much better.

The other challenge was I was forced to be a true leader of the team. In most teams I've played more, I'm usually the spot up shooter.  I don't need to worry about handling the ball or directing players on the court (unless I am the captain).

But with only two guys (including me) that could reliably handle the ball, I had to play point guard a lot and direct the team and the players.  That meant I had to give up some of my scoring opportunities.  Yet, at times, I would switch gears and play my usual shooting guard / small forward positions.

What I learned this season is that winning isn't everything.  After winning two titles, it was humbling to go 1-6.  However, my guys stayed positive and I think our team enjoyed playing despite our lack of wins.

The other lesson is I need to take charge when the situation warrants instead of being passive.  It's funny that this happened this year.  I noticed that I can be passive at times yet my personality has been slowly changing.   I see it at work, officiating and now basketball.  If things are not going the way I expect, I am taking charge a lot more.

So this season was a bit of a wash in terms of wins and losses.  But it had some good lessons that will much more beneficial to me in the long run.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In The Running Mood

A few months ago, one of my friends asked me if I wanted to participate in something called "The Giant Race".  Given the name, I figured it was a running event and I was correct.  The event was sponsored by the San Francisco Giants baseball team.  My friend's reasoning for asking me?  He said I played too much basketball and it was time to do something "different".  I couldn't argue with my friend so I signed up.

Alas,  I had forgotten about the event until my friend reminded me a few days before.  Thus, about 10 days ago (on August 4th, 2013), I got up early, met my friend and participated in the event.  My friend and I had decided to join the 5K race (3.1 / 3.2 miles).  

I didn't know what to expect as my friend and I trekked to AT&T Park in downtown SF.  As I got there, I wasn't too nervous.  In fact, it was pretty exciting to be part of a race that had 7000 people registered!

As for the event itself, the 5K event was a mix of walkers and runners.  I chose to run most of the race and weaved through the various walkers.  It wasn't easy but it also wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  I completed the event in about 30 minutes and 17 seconds which surprised me (about 9:46 per mile).

Participating in this event brought back to the last time I ran competitively.  That was in high school when I ran cross-country.  My high did not have a sports program until my sophomore year.  I spent my freshman year volunteering as a basketball coach at my old grammar school.  When the school announced that a sports program was being started, I had to make a choice of a sport to participate in.

In the fall, there were a choice of soccer, tennis and cross-country (football is fall sport too but my high school was too small to form up a team).  I didn't really like soccer.  I didn't think I was good enough to play tennis so I basically defaulted to cross-country.  I can't even say if I knew what the heck cross-country was.

In any case, I spent my last three years of high school participating in cross-county.   I was strictly a high school runner and not a competitive runner.  I only conditioned during the season and wasn't dedicated enough to try and condition during the offseason.

While I didn't win any medals during my high school running career, it was a good time.   I bonded with teammates since we had to run a lot for practice.  We got outside a lot and had to commute on the bus home.   That gave my teammates and I plenty of time to chat.

In participating in "The Giant Race", I actually found that I enjoyed running again.  I hadn't run much since high school.  But getting out there last week was fun and I think I will keep running every now and then in the future.

I'll wrap with a point of comparison.  During my FINAL high school cross-country race (All City Championship) in 1991, I ran 3.1 miles in about 22 minutes and 51 seconds (the winners were in the 18 to 19 minute range).   While I didn't complete last week's event like I did when I was 17, I'm still proud of what I did.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Day Above Ground - "Asian Girlz" / The Issue Of Asian American Representation

I was at home last night on surfing around Facebook when I saw a link to a video called "Asian Girlz" by some bad Day Above Ground. The poster of the link indicated it was one of the most racist things he had ever seen.

After watching,  I had to agree that the video was definitely tasteless and borderline racist.   I don't want to bore people with details of the video.  If you choose to watch it, you will know what I mean.

To me, the issue is how and why this video got made.  Firstly, I'll comment on the band Day Above Ground.  Seems like a bunch of white dudes with one Asian (Indonesian) member.  According to some of their comments, the video was meant to be a satire and not be racist in nature.  If we are to give the band a little credit that they weren't "intentionally" racist, that tells us something about how Asian-American women are viewed by some.  After all, the video is quite SEXIST in nature.  

Indeed, that is the battle Asian-American women have battled for years.  There is a perception that Asian-American women are dragon ladies / geishas who just like to please men.  In fact, an old documentary from the 1980's addresses this:

Slaying The Dragon

So that leads to the second issue.  Why did the Asian woman video participate in something so offensive?  The lady in question is Levy Tran who is apparently a well known import model.  I did not know this though!

For some who is Asian-American, I am surprised she participated in the video.  She issued some comments on the band and indicated "they were sweet and not at all racist".  Unfortunately, the video says otherwise.

Levy is an attractive lady and it's a shame she participated.  Her Instagram and Facebook fan pages have been deleted and she sent some apologies via Twitter.  Unfortunately, the damage has been done. Asian-Americans have very diverse opinions and experiences and not every agrees on things that might be consider racist.

The recent incident with the Asiana pilot names on KTVU illustrates this.  Some Asian-Americans thought the names were funny.  Some were offended and some took a neutral stance.

However, I've seen a good number of Asian-American women (and even NOT Asian-American women) comment on the video and it's been largely negative due to the sexist nature of the video.  Thanks to the power of the Internet, Asian-Americans (men and women) are commenting via videos, blogs and other Social Media sites.

Why is this important to the Asian-American community?  Actually, it's important to all minorities when it comes to representation.  While some people will disagree, it's pretty well known that the media (news, TV, movies, music) have a great influence on people's thoughts and opinions.

If there are people who had NEVER seen or met an Asian-American woman and they saw the video, this might form some unflattering perceptions of Asian-American women.   Forget the commentary if the band was racist or not.  The video itself is quite bad in that it PRESENTS someone / something in a negative light.

Why do Asian Americans and other minorities fight for more positive representation in many industries?  This is the reason why.   Asian-Americans are simply NOT represented in great numbers in movies, music and TV.  When they are, they have (in the past) been gangsters or bad guys in general.  If they are good guy, they are the martial artist (Jackie Chan) or wise sage (Mr. Miyagi).

Asian-American women have gotten some positive roles but they are off balanced by old perceptions as  I stated above.

To conclude, if this video had not come out, I would not have heard about the band.  They seem pretty small time.  If this is all the band is going to be known for, their career is not going to go very far.  However, the band did ignite some passion within the Asian-American community.  Maybe Asian-Americans will use this a starting point to ignite some activism and fight for more positive representation.