On Creating a Show/Podcast

Grad school is filled with many projects that have me pulling my hair out one by one, or banging it’s container on the table as I try to slog to the end. Probably the week 1/4 paper exemplifies that to the highest degree I have yet encountered.

Thankfully though, I followed that extremely challenging literature review, where I was to collect 20 articles and design them into something remotely coherent, with a more fun podcast. This was to be on employee identification within organizations. I had to locate three interviewees, one of whom should be a leader of sorts. I tapped my network and was able to speak with a newspaper reporter (thank you Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan,) a director of Community Relations (thank you Linda Convissor,) and a social media manager (thank you Samantha Allen.) I had to then ask questions that get to ways in which people operate in the ever-changing, now always-on culture.

I recorded the interviews with my iPhone using Voice Memos, and actually got pretty clear audio. Then I used Bossjock to convert them to MP3 so that I could import into Audacity, where things could be edited and moved around. After hours of manual reading and clicking this and that, I finally masted the basic art of adding clips after I spoke. Extraction of my first clip took nearly an hour, but once I fully understood the technique I’d gotten clip removal down to mere seconds.

Is it top-knotch professional? Well I’m not silly enough to think that. First, I still feel my voice is too monotonous, and maybe I need to try and drop it a bit so that I sound more authoritative. Also, obviously I didn’t have the real studio set up that I would need to remove the resonance that comes from being in a relatively hollow room.

But did I enjoy it? Indeed I did. I think if nothing else maybe I can be the one who writes the copy that an anchor/reporter reads. I had fun constructing the narrative and deciding what fits and how. I could probably also improve my audio editing skills fairly quickly, an area into which I plan to look more thoroughly upon completion of my degree. Finally, I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever really have a “radio voice,” but do wonder if there are courses that could help me pursue that goal as well.

I’m stating pre-grade, but whatever the outcome this project was the most desired thing I have done during my time in the program. It obviously comes close to my stated aim to do some kind of work for NPR, and I feel I can grow a lot from that experience.

And with that, another course largely ends. Amazing how quickly these things move! I do have a mini-reflection paper to complete next week, but the “sweaty stuff” is now behind me. Do I want to see what’s coming around the corner? Hmmm, I don’t know… More later.

Job Days No. 5

Well so what I’ve usually done these in March, this is my fiefdom and I do as I please! And besides, there is some precedence, as my second such post was done in April of 2014, rather than the somewhat arbitrarily agreed-upon date of March 23 on which many of the others have fallen.

RELATED: Job Days No. 4

I’m making it now, because I have lots of reason to be evaluating my place in this job/career world. I’ve now started year five (5!) with my current employer. This means that in all likelihood, I’ve already worked there for more days than I had during my time in the Charlotte blindness workshop location, as I never quite worked a five-day week there.

As fate would have it, I’m about done working five-day weeks here as well, at least for the foreseeable future. Yeah that grad school thing? And the important sleep thing? Don’t, quite, mix. And, that is causing big problems at the workfront, as the latter wishes to take me away at wholly inopportune times, prompting intervention from substitute supervisors. I do respect that lady though, as she not only gave a verbal notification, but was also willing to listen to my challenges and help me initiate the solution, which is to downgrade to four days. I just need more time to master these massive projects coming down the line at me now.

So that’s the biggest change. Let’s take a look at how much my routine has altered since last year. In order to really capture it, I write this post prior to having reviewed the last entry. I don’t want to be influenced by the nuance, after all.

4:45: Alarm sounds, whether it is needed depends on the day (see above). Out of bed, shower, dress.
5:05: iPhone in hand to begin reading until and after departure, even on six-minute walk to bus. Had been pleasure-reading, but academics are taking a larger and larger chunk of my time. (In one book this week, for example, we have to read from pp. 1-86, and 157-198. And about seven other articles! Where is that kind of time, y’all?)
5:32: Hop onto bus and resume reading, which had stopped so that safe street crossing could be had. Continue reading for 18-minute ride to Durham Station.
5:50: Chat with other regulars, (esp person who works six days a week, often from 7 AM-9 PM, and I thought my day was long!) Bemoan hot, cold, wind, rain, whatever the flavor of the day is, until bus pulls in (hopefully on time at 6 AM).
6: Listen to podcasts as GoTriangle 700 Express Route whisks me along Durham Freeway and I-40 E with no stops, to arrive at 6:15.
6:20: Stand in increasingly long line as people attempt to clock in with newfangled (touch-ID) tech, get buzzer that says “try again!” Finally check in and walk to break room, where podcast listening recommences. Fire off arrival text to fiance, usually about having missed sleep yet again.
6:35: Read other book on Braille display till time to go in.

As far as the actual work goes, I still do the same job of packaging light sticks. I have managed to gain another order of magnitude in speed, and now can go just about as quickly as the fastest person back there. So I finally rarely get complaints about that, unless they are about how we’ve gone too quickly and thus have run out of work. It is hard to win in there!

And that’s about all. As usual, I am crossing my fingers that year five will be my last, but with the increasing depth and richness of my network, this has never seemed more likely. Let’s see if I can secure this Master’s degree first, which does appear to take some doing on my part. I’ve just got to find my feet right now, but am still ok on the whole.

So, how long have you worked with your current employer? For class, we’re reading a book by Dalton Conley called Elsewhere U.S.A, in which he proposes that job mobility has not actually changed as much as we think, and that most still work the same place for 20 years whether they like it or not. That book was written in 2008 though, and so I find it rather difficult to believe this still holds true. I think even over the last ten years, things have changed significantly. But probably more on that in an upcoming post on my audio editing fun as I attempt to create a podcast for this class. Till then, keep rockin’ and a-rollin’ and workin’ in the coal mine!

#FridayReads Salt To The Sea, by Ruta Sepetys

I don’t have to tell you that we suddenly find ourselves in the midst of unparalleled times. Without going too much into politics, I will just say that any type of generalized discrimination against race/ethnicity, country of origin, gender, ability/disability, etc, is incredibly dangerous. Taking such a hardline stance against people because they don’t come from here makes little sense, given that problems can be generated from bad actors from within also.

But avoiding a full dive into that, which could go on and on, I thought it would be interesting to read a book proposed by one of my Twitter followers who suggested that it might make us more aware of the plot of the wartime refugee. It’s titled Salt to The Sea, by Ruta Sepetys. Yes, it’s another World War II book, of which there are many. I know, because I’ve read at least a quarter of them. It’s an era that has always fascinated and terrified me, given that really one man’s ideology could end up causing so much strife throughout Europe, and by extension and alliances, through Asia and Africa as well.

But the thing that makes this book more interesting is that it focuses on what happened toward the end of the war, as Germans, Polish persons, and others alike ran for the ports in an attempt to escape an uncertain future. The story is told from four perspectives: that of Joana, a nurse who takes care of many of them; Emelia, a 15-year-old who is contending with the loss of her mother and family; Florian, a runaway German soldier; and Alfred, whom I think is still serving in the German army. They all have different dreams and desires, for instance the German who is still serving recites the ethnicities Hitler wishes to wipe out and fantasizes about how he will help the Fuhrer achieve his awful aims. Emelia ponders what it will be like to reconstruct some kind of family that at least resembles that which she has lost. I’m still only 30% of the way through the story, but apparently these characters, along with other minor ones such as a “shoe poet,” a little boy and even a blind girl named Ingrid, will converge aboard a ship. I am anxious to see how this turns out.

I did want to address that blind character. First, I wonder to what extend that was influenced by All The Light We Cannot See, the bestseller from a couple years ago. Or, were there just a lot of blind folks out there walking around then. It’s interesting. My only small quibble with this individual is the usual; the idea that Ingrid has special sensory powers incurred by her lack of sight. Ability to hear things long before everyone else does. Can tell eye color by some sort of feel? Often has ability to deduce more about one’s personality than most everyone else.

On the sensory issue, as far as I know we do not have “more powerful senses,” but we just learn to use and integrate the information we receive more effectively. In a sense, we use all of what we have left to make up for our eyes, and in some case our ears as well. For instance, I have learned to use the smell of laundry to guide me back to my apartment door in some cases, when my neighbor happens to be running her washer. This isn’t always available, of course, but it can be handy. Along with the sometimes useful tactic of reorienting myself by using the Air conditioner’s hum, (only when it’s hot enough, so again I’d better kind of know my way!) But y’all, I think anyone could do this sort of thing if he or she really had to. It’s more about the repurposing of brain areas, as our visual cortex maps itself accordingly.

As far as “feeling” colors? Well I admit I’ve heard some say they can do this? But I have no idea how it works, and don’t think it’s at all common.

And finally the personality issue: we can see more with our heart than you can with your eyes and all that clich├ęd stuff? Hmmm, well again I don’t really know. I would say I do tend to have good vibes about people. Whether that’s to do with my blindness is an open question. But I can and do get it wrong as far as how people might actually come across, and I along with all of the other blind people I know are far from perfect and have the same kinds of flaws as the general public.

I think what I’d like to see most is a more complicated blind person. But maybe it’s my job to try and write one? We shall see. In any event, it is a pretty good book, and for the most part I don’t have a big problem with this portrayal. Check it out and let me know what you think.