Asides

Flying Through Obstacles

*I apologize that only one of my links is showing up, the rest I just had to embed the URL. WordPress was being difficult and not inserting the link and in the process was deleting a few of my paragraphs during my attempts.

Rolling On

This documentary style video by David Frank, of the New York Times, depicts the life of an athlete training for the olympics. It shows footage of him working out, of his eating habits (which could be minorly improved) and how hectic his training schedule makes his time at home.

So what’s the catch? Joshua George has spent most of his life in a wheelchair. Currently, he is one of the top wheelchair athletes in the world. A childhood accident left him without his ability to walk, but he is quick to discuss his hatred for the word disabled. He doesn’t consider himself handicapped because he can do just about anything anyone else can do.

The intro hooks the watcher with visuals of George’s wheelchair as he works out. You can see nothing but the wheelchair and you hear nothing but natural sound and panting. It was effective because it was intriguing. The wheelchair, although stabilized, was obviously going fast. It made me curious as to what exactly was going on in the video.

Frank did a very nice job getting the watcher to to care about George, not from a pity circumstance, but more through admiration. This man in a wheelchair is in better shape than most people who have full body function and feels no visible depression about the cards he has been dealt in life.

The story arc depicts a quest, left without ending. George was seeking to be in the Beijing Paralympics and there is an open ended question of “Did he make it?”

The ending I believe, would make the average watcher stop and think about one’s treatment towards people in wheelchairs or with other so-called handicaps. Too often I feel those people are treated as if they have learning disabilities and need to be handheld through life. George shows you can be perfectly independent, and successful, without legs.

The video did a good job of catching George in motion in a variety of settings, I hope to be able to do the same with my own video in the near future.

Wheels Up

http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000001015874/wheels-up.html?playlistId=100000002138841

This video, also by David Frank, is about a group of paraplegic veterans and their experience at a camp specifically designed for them to experience paragliding. The veterans, in specially designed wheelchairs with an array of volunteers and instructors, were able to experience flight again through the program. Each of the veterans tells a little bit of their story about how they overcame readjusting to life in a wheelchair.

The intro is of one of the men during a take off, possibly one of the first, because the team seems nervous about the attempt. Within a few seconds, however, he is flying through the air. The intro hooks the reader because it is something I’ve never really seen before.

This story has multiple heros and each one gives a small piece of their story. I think variety of reactions allows watchers to more fully understand the different emotions people experience when they no longer have the ability to walk as well as the trials they face trying to convince the outside world that there’s nothing wrong with them.

The story depicts a quest, from the soldiers learning to live their lives in a wheelchair, to the engineers trying to design a wheelchair that could face up to the challenge of a flight and landing.

The ending gives a well-rounded conclusion to the story. You feel respect for these men, not sorry. I was also impressed that they were able to design a chair that could stand up to the forces of a ground impact.

Frank did a good job on getting multiple point of views in the story. From the veterans to the instructors to the engineers, it was well rounded.

A Heavy Load

http://www.nytimes.com/video/sports/1194817108758/a-heavy-load.html?playlistId=100000002138841

This video, by David Frank and Greg Bishop, of the New York Times, depicts a mother of three on her quest to become an Olympic weightlifter.

The opening depicted a weight being dropped and the natural sound that comes with it. It is startling and the woman’s voice that joins after it intrigues the watcher. (I’ll be honest, at times I stereotype weightlifting and automatically think of men. Or steroids. Neither of which is the case here.)

The story’s hero is Melanie Roach. She leads a very busy life, running a business, being the wife to a Representative and raising three children, one of which (the youngest) has autism. While the story did show some aspects of her training for the Olympics, a majority of it was focused on her autistic child and her challenges as a mother and dealing with autism.

While the video showed her personal view on autism, I simply don’t agree with it. I’ve had personal experience with autistic people, and while she seems to note that there is something wrong with her son, I don’t think there is anything wrong with autistic people. While a cure for autism would be welcome, to help individuals fit into social standards if they so chose, I don’t believe she is right in detailing giving up on her dreams of what her child can accomplish. He can still accomplish so much, but only if she helps him strive towards it.

The story details more of a conflict, in her dealing with temper tantrums and heavy weights in her struggle to get to the Olympics. She notes that in a previous Olympic run she herniated a disk that forced her out of competition.

The ending leaves open the questions of “Did she make it?” and “How is life with her son now?” It leaves the watcher curious.

This video did a good job of contrasting her home life with her weight lifting. I think I may have shown a little bit more about her training regime and diet (in one shot the family was eating fast food, is that what she eats consistently?) But overall the video seemed to depict an average day in her life with adequate background information.

When “See You Later” Doesn’t Mean See You Later

I recently stumbled across the article Don’t Drink the Water on YahooNews by Christy Karras about what foreign travel guide books say about people in the United States.

Some of the tips I could have guessed, like one from Japan talking about how American food is not subtle. Americans like bold flavors from all around the world, especially if our over-indulgence in salt is any indicator.

Others I found slightly ironic, such as a tip from Latin America telling its travelers to not drink the water and instead buy bottled water.

A few more made me pause and think about the stark differences in some countries. Another Japanese manuel tells of how it is not impolite to laugh with your mouth open, in fact many Americans laugh often with mouths wide open and teeth showing. In Japan, showing one’s teeth is deemed offensive, men typically don’t laugh and women cover their mouths with their hands when they smile. Imagine how shocked someone from Japan would be without those words of advice. Likewise, imagine how many people an American, with no knowledge of this rule, would offend.

Similarly, a few Russian tips advise against gifts that could be seen as bribery (which is shockingly illegal in the US), that American women want to be treated as equals and that Americans are really as cheerful as we are portrayed.

I honestly hadn’t thought about it beforehand, but the idea that bribery wasn’t illegal in the modern world was a bit unexpected.

Similarly, that women wouldn’t be treated as equals in business ventures is offensive to me. In 2014 I figured this would be a nonissue in major countries and that it has to be put as a travelers tip is astounding.

One tip that was reverberated in a few countries tip list is “See you later,” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll actually see them later. I can see how this would be confusing, sometimes in new friendships the phrase is confusing to myself and I’ve had years of experience using the phrase over the phone and as a good-bye.

So, should you be traveling, it’s definitely a good idea to get a traveler’s guide of social etiquitte and things that might be health issues to avoid being the typical rude and overbearing American in a Hawaiin t-shirt with a fanny pack who demands English be spoken wherever they go.