More Videos from Oakland

I’ve learned to make short videos, sometimes with music, sometimes without. When I use music it is invariably from my collection of oldies-except the two videos I made using Boots Riley performing “Underdogs” at a rally against gang injunctions. I have made cat videos, mostly with my cat, Woody, but some with neighbors’ cats. I have made videos celebrating Lakeshore Avenue’s retail upsurge, well, one about the opening of Kwik Way and of local happenings near Lake Merritt.

But, mostly I make short videos of political events that say something to me. The funny thing is that I have a bunch (no idea of the actual length) of videos from the Occupy Oakland days which are languishing somewhere on my old computer’s hard drive-never did get around to putting them together which probably says something about my still sad, angry-confused inner zeitgeist on the whole damn thing. Someday.

(If you watch the first video, then keep watching, other videos will pop up or got to my channel on youtube.)

So, back to the music problem. If I use recordings I have come by legally downloading them, I still find that youtube has prevented them from being seen on mobile devices. A couple made it through before they decided to block them. The two videos I made using Boots Riley as a chorus I put on vimeo so no commercials would be sold on them; and I used one other platform for a long video of a meeting-don’t remember which! If you are acquainted with somebody who will let me use their homegrown music to avoid that problem, let me know. I can’t promise to make them famous though. The most hits I have gotten on my little channel is 336 on my “Save Adult Education Now” for a grand total of 2, 575 hits.

Well, I just checked my channel, bethpikegirlagain, and reminded myself that I made a really silly video on squirrels and one on bees buzzing my neighbor’s giant flower bush, nah, can’t remember the name of that fabulous plant, but it’s an ode to spring.

I’m still using windows movie-maker which leaves a lot to be desired and have recently used my phone to record video which really leaves even more to be desired. I should start carrying around my tiny camcorder so I’m always ready.

I don’t even know why I do it. I never take videos of tourist attractions. I don’t have grandchildren to record (yet). I can only get my kids to succumb when they have no way to prevent it (ha, my son’s law school graduation is very soon!), but I continue to want to document the life around me. There’s lots of snippets on my computer, waiting to be accidentally deleted, no doubt. Say a prayer that those snippets survive my general electronic incompetence.

Yes, I am as blown away that I can do any part of this as my friends are. Most of the time I don’t know how I got it put together. Just finding the damn shots stored on my computer can take up to an hour…then I used to have to convert them to another format before even using movie maker because I had an old XP system that could not translate some formats. Good grief, what language am I even speaking?

It’s just this damn tenaciousness that is a family trait. I might start making my video around 10 PM and wrap up around 2 AM waiting for youtube to finish uploading-and that’s for a 2 and half minute video! Without the assistance and encouragement of some folks formerly of Oakland Local-I won’t name them because they might be embarrassed by my product-I wouldn’t have persevered.

Anyway, while this videos never go viral, they are the little bit of art that my arthritic hands can still get satisfaction from creating. I hope that they inform, provoke, entertain, or annoy a few folks here and there. Whatever, I can’t stop documenting some of the moments that provoke, annoy, and even uplift me. So here are some more you may not have seen.

Oh, one more note, without some form of art and creation, life is not worth living, so maybe that’s why I do it.

The Revolution will not be uploaded today.

Today I’m writing what a real blog, I mean the kind of narrative on life and its discontents (or contents) that blogs were originally created for. Maybe some folks write blogs when they are in a blissful state, dunno, I probably don’t read those kind.

Lately, I’ve been playing around with making little videos. I started out wanting a video camera so I could interview women and maybe some men about the subject of abortion and birth control, Planned Parenthood, etc. You know that really radical socialist idea that women might have some say in how or when or why they bring children out of their bodies and into the world?

I recorded a couple of clips but got shy of asking the average woman-on-the-street if she had ever had an abortion or might want one. These days a person can get hurt for telling what most women already know that 3 out of 5 women have had one, 3 out of 4 or just most of women I know?

Then I started carrying around this baby camcorder in my purse. It’s about the size of a thick credit card. The videos and the videographer are pretty amateurish but we were having fun.

Now, I am a person of a certain age, I’m a Boomer-sounds nicer than I’m almost an official senior-yikes! My kids are grown and gone; and while I’m old enough to have a teenage grandchild, my kids don’t  seem to be thinking about providing me with any grandchildren at all. That’s relevant because without an adolescent around, you should probably just give up on technology right now.

I’ve always been hopeless with electronic things and cannot really see all the little crappy symbols, words, arrows, etc. that appear in the various nooks and crannies of the toolbars, dashboards, or whatever they’re calling them today. It may be that I’m ADD, because I can’t even take a class as I space out a few minutes into instruction; and most things that I’ve learned, I’ve learned by intuiting the process. I don’t use recipes, I don’t sew anything that I can’t visualize in my own head first-I even mix my colors when painting without having any idea which ones I added and how much. I’ve run out of paint and remixed the colors and had them come out the same so this approach usually works for me.

Ha, Anca at Tech Liminal helped me set up my blog or that wouldn’t even be happening. Geez, I just had to enter that sentence 3 times to get it in the next paragraph. I am not sure if it’s just me because every time I told one of my aging friends  that I wanted to start a blog, they told me they heard it was easy. “Really,” I’d say, “then come over and help me,” after which they would blanch and run away as fast as their blown-out knees and bad backs could take them.

Actually, it is me because typing was one of the few courses I was ever in danger of flunking in high school. The other was Home Ec, couldn’t ever remember to wear my damn hair net; and you might not think it, but Home Ec teachers tend to be very authoritarian. I think if you have ever read anything I’ve written- nuff said about how well I handle authority figures.

So I was amazed when I was able to put together a few short videos and even added music, clipped and cropped, played with the transitions, titles, credits and surprise endings. It was my little artistic venture.

I used to paint, make mosaics, make stuff from recycled items, collages, have stenciled my front patio to look like a brick path, and there’s my car which most people remember once they’ve seen it. It is not yet an art car, but I’m working on it. However, arthritis has its drawbacks and since it has lodged mostly in my fingers, it’s so bad that I have to ice them after even a short stint of weeding.

Now I’ve hit the wall and find that my internet and electronic world is closing in on me. No, it’s not that I think I spend too much time on it, I know I do. But since I’m only partially employed, so what? It’s that I just can’t keep up with the levels of knowledge that are required by each new level of technological development. It’s too much!

The other day, for instance, walking with my friend and her teenage daughter, I wondered if I could turn off the sound on my newest little camcorder-the one that has just brought me down-since the wind was blowing mightily off the Lake and I had learned that filming in any wind will sound like a hurricane in playback.

My friend said, “Here give it to Raquel.” So I did and she turned off the sound in an instant. So, ok, then it took her a few more minutes to show me how to do that. The rub comes the next time I go to use it as you know I will forget that it’s off, worse yet, will I even remember how to turn it on again?

So I have made videos with this damn new camcorder that have to be converted to different files before being downloaded, excuse me uploaded (that difference is not intuitive) to youtube but not to vimeo which then doesn’t always-but sometimes-seems to be able to make it through my email program so that someone besides me can see it!

I’ve learned that tech support for anything electronic is almost non-existent-no phone numbers are available anymore or if you get someone on the phone, they will always want to levy another  charge OR worst of all, you can’t register the blasted thing without finding out the serial number which requires a mind-numbing search of its own.

Then I head over to the internets, as my people are prone to call them/it, and make a query about how to work around the problems caused by my limited knowledge. Sometimes I miraculously grasp the solution, sometimes I play with it until I find one, but frequently I’m hit with a language barrier that I cannot surmount.

“The files for bladeblah have to be converted or down/uploaded by attaching a dps-unlv (no, part of that’s a basket ball team, disgraced, I think), after looking in the upper right hand corner of the page you just closed where the telltale instruction or serial number to the gizmo or gizmet you haven’t yet purchased/downloaded resides.

All your troubles lie just a free download away OR alternatively a computer virus -where all your family heirlooms, your secret longings, and your official self – lies that same download away- gone in a flash (and I don’t mean drive). But that software you previously downloaded and pay paled for twice at least, that’s supposed to provide security (didn’t the 60s prove to us womenfolk that security was a thing of the past), turns around, electronically, and says to you, “Do you know this guy/program/download?” That’s why I thought I hired you, you think to yourself, while backing slowly away from your desk before your finger twitches and everything inside your computer explodes.

While I was doing all this, a truly elderly friend called to tell me about her difficulty getting onto her facebook page, bless her for trying, and she ended up in password hell. It might have been less frustrating trying to get into Tahrir Square during the revolution than it  is to get out of password hell. Oh well, you wouldn’t have known about the revolution anyway unless you had already conquered password hell.

Right now I’m stymied and am turning to something I still know how to do, except of course, for the typing part. I will try and post the videos I’ve made (2 of them are somehow already on my blog) so someone can see the hours I’ve put in and what fun it all was during the brief period I imagined I could handle this new world.

Now, I’ll just go read a book and relax awhile. Let me see, my kids got me a Kindle for Mother’s Day maybe I’ll see if I can upload a new mystery……don’t you know this is just another trick, another bit of payback from those guys you punished by making them clean their rooms? Without them or a small child lurking inside the packing crate to set it up for you, you may find yourself languishing permanently in password hell. Haven’t I suffered enough?

Momentary relaxation....