Introducing e-postcards!

I was thinking about making another video for YouTube today to explain this blog entry with audio-visual aids, but it’s a little too late for that now: I’ll be leaving for the airport in less than 12 hours and the webcam is packed away for the trip.

The biggest reason why I bought that webcam… well, the microphone on the laptop is complete shit. There’s a strong echo, it makes everything sound metallic and it really sucks a lot. (Oddly, Mom and I brought it back to Best Buy to find out what the problem was and it turns out that all of their ASUS laptops had that problem. Some worse than others, but still all of them. Just an FYI for anyone out there who might want a new computer this Christmas season for recording videos.)

Anyway! Aside from keeping the online journal, I’m planning to send “e-postcards” to people during our trip. If a hotel has internet access, I can send emails and attach a digital photo plus a short video. The “front” has a picture, the “back” has a message to the recipient, no postage fees… yay for technology! (If I’m feeling really crazy, I can send e-postcards to individuals. If I’m feeling really lazy, I can send them to a bunch of people at once and start the video with something generic like “Hey there!” Come to think of it, I might start the individual ones with “Hey there!” so that everyone can think I made any given e-postcard just for you.)

So that’s the current plan. I’m not sure how many people’s email addresses I have or how many people might want to get messages about the trip from time to time, but you can still follow my trip to Thailand for the next few weeks by checking out videos on my YouTube channel. Be forewarned: none of them will be made just for you, even if I start the video with “Hey there!”

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Travel vlog

That’s probably what my YouTube channel will be, at least for the immediate future. My first video is posted at the bottom of this entry, but it’s a simple intro and explains that the primary reason for my current decision to start making videos is because I’m too elaborate and long-winded when I write. (Yes, I used those terms to describe my writing. It’s not like I can run from the truth.)

So I’m in the fledgling stages of learning how to make videos quickly: come up with a few ideas to convey, then turn on the webcam and start talking. At this point, changing video formats and posting the video online has taken a lot longer than recording the video itself, but that’s why I’m trying to learn this stuff now while I’m still here in the States.

On October 23rd, my mom and I will be flying to Thailand for a couple weeks. I thought it might be cool to report on some of the goings-on over there, but for those of you who have followed my travel blog posts before, you’ll know that I tend to be elaborate and long-winded and I just stop writing after the first couple posts. I run out of time and motivation. If I can find a way to prevent myself from spending two hours writing about what happened that afternoon (something I’m very capable of doing), yay for me. Thus, vlog entries.

Up to this point, I’ve never talked for two hours straight. That doesn’t mean I’m not capable of doing so, but even if I wanted to, YouTube will only let me post videos that are 15 minutes or less. I’m hoping I can keep videos down to just a couple minutes a day, but we’ll see what happens. Seriously, though, I wouldn’t want to go too far beyond a couple minutes a day because I’m pretty sure there’ll be plenty to do while I’m there.

So that’s the scoop of the hour. I’ll probably post another couple videos within the next two weeks to get used to the process, then head overseas and… we’ll see what happens. Beyond that, enjoy the little monologue below and I’ll talk at you later.

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To vlog or not to vlog?

The time is currently 8:16pm. Trust me, this will be relevant at the end of this entry.

I guess the title might be a little misleading because vlogging probably wouldn’t be a consistent effort. If anything, I’d probably do it less frequently than writing here on my regular blog. Which could mean “almost never” for the time being. I could do it once in a while for practice’s sake, but I wouldn’t do it with any consistency until October. Why October? Because that’s the next time I’ll be taking an extended vacation.

Looking back at other ventures (like my trip to Norway four years ago), my writing blog entries only lasted for the first few days out of the trip because, well, it was taking too long. I can be long-winded when I’m speaking in person, but when I’m writing a story, it can take several pages to cover just one day. A lot of stuff would have to happen to make an entry worthy of that length, but it can (and would) happen. Writing several pages per day when I’m supposed to be enjoying going outside and experiencing what a completely different culture has to offer… it’s not worth the time and effort, so I inevitably fell off the proverbial wagon.

I’m trying to avoid that this time around. My mother got a new laptop, I bought a new webcam (that’s another story that can wait until later) and I’m hoping to put them both to good use. My initial plan was to write “e-postcards”: send people emails with a short video and possibly a digital photo attached. Cheaper than a postcard, I can say more than what I could write in a tiny space… I found some compression software that reduces the resolution of a video and thus reduces the size so a 30-second video might be 3MB instead of some huge amount of space that’s too large to attach to an email. BRILLIANT! (If you don’t think so, well, I’m not gonna send you an e-postcard! Pptbptpbptptpbtp!!!)

That was my initial plan: use the webcam to send people messages. Then after spending hours upon hours of surfing through YouTube, it occurred to me that perhaps I could talk about the trip on video instead. It wouldn’t be as detailed and I wouldn’t be able to constantly edit and reedit the whole time I was recording, but that might be a good thing in the long run. If I try to give a general outline of the day’s happenings in five or ten minutes, that’s a lot less time than it’d take to write a blog entry every day or two. (Time check: 8:33pm.)

I could come home and do a better job providing details, make the videos look more interesting and entertaining… stuff that requires more time and effort, which I would have upon getting back to the States.

So at this point, I’m looking at it as a time-saver more than anything. Record a short video at the end of the day and post them when I have internet access, which should be pretty frequently: we’re taking a scheduled 12-day tour for the latter part of the trip that’s supposed to be using primarily four- and five-star hotels. Good stuff. There might not be an available connection on the night when our room will actually be floating on a river, but aside from that, I might be able to upload videos pretty consistently while we’re there.

I’m pretty sure I haven’t mentioned where the trip is heading yet, but I might as well say where we’re going now instead of trying to hide the details for some future blog entry: Mom and I will be traveling to Thailand.

Writing this last paragraph, I’m already going back and forth about some details and word choices, which is pretty much the issue I always have to deal with when I’m writing blog entries and something I could avoid by recording myself with a webcam and posting that online instead. It might not look amazing—it might all be just one camera angle with no cuts or anything like that while I’m there—but hopefully, the amazing details spoken aloud will cover up that deficiency. If not, well, I’m really doing this mostly for myself anyway, so ptpbptptppbtptpbpt!!!

That’s my current plan: save myself a lot of time and effort by just recording videos talking about each day’s goings-on and that should suffice instead of trying to write a couple pages worth of material on any given day. I might do a little bit of editing, cutting and pasting and what not, but for the most part, I might be able to just go straight through for a couple minutes. If I’m lucky. And if I’m not lucky, it’ll still probably take less time than it takes to write and edit a blog entry.

Note that this has included very few details of things that have happened in the past. Not much in the way of stories, mostly just talking about plans for the future. I may have neglected to mention that the trip will last from October 23rd to November 13th, so I’ve got plenty of time between now and then to change said plans or to practice recording and editing video if that’s what I decide to do.

As a side note, it just struck me as funny that when you’re on TV or in movies, they always tell you not to look directly into the camera and you will get in trouble if it screws up a shot. (I was once an extra in a movie and the director got mad at me. The problem? The people he wanted me to look at were directly between me and the camera, so I was also staring straight into the lens. Oops…) Conversely, vlogging entails looking at the camera and directly at your audience. It’s contrary to everything I’ve ever been told doing work with video before, so it just feels a little odd.

But I digress. The point I’ve been making over many, many paragraphs is that if I record videos, I might delete one and record another if the first one sucks, but it shouldn’t take too long if I try to make them short. Blog entries? It’s currently 9:03, which means I’ve spent 47 minutes writing many, many paragraphs and not actually making a decision about anything. The question still remains: To vlog or not to vlog?

(Final time check after writing, editing, rewriting and reediting: 9:17. Sheesh…)

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Open your history books, please!

While Mom and Dad did a lot of research back when we were in Minnesota, there’s nothing like getting information from the horse’s mouth. Or a Norwegian’s mouth, for that matter. It was time to talk to Bertha and dip our toes into some family history of Norway from just a couple hundred years ago. I’m sure you’ve all done it before, but it’s a first for me. Today, we got to see what kind of info Mom and I could dig up. Continue reading “Open your history books, please!”

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Road trip! … Again!

Thankfully, we’re running out of long drives. Pretty soon, a “road trip” might last three hours, meaning we’ll have to waste some time during the day. When the continental breakfast at one hotel ends at 10:00 and check-in at the next is at 3:00… you can only spend so much time lingering over lunch, you know? So we’ll see how things work out, but before that happens, we have to navigate our way through the big maps. Continue reading “Road trip! … Again!”

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Vikings sell refreshments in their villages?

Off for a relaxing trip out of Bergen. All we had to do was maneuver through the tourists and tour buses and we could make our grand escape. Well, we made it a little less grand by backtracking and taking the highway instead of driving through the city streets (and potentially getting turned in circles again), but we escaped nonetheless. Continue reading “Vikings sell refreshments in their villages?”

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