Monday, April 25, 2011

My First Mayo Video Project

I just finished a very fun, yet exhausting, project for work. I wrote and helped to produce a video about one of our patients. Spending time with patients and learning about their experiences is the best part of my job.

I've spent the last three and half months working on the 2010 Mayo Clinic Annual Report - both the print and an interactive website. It typically features five patient stories; We had four that had been told in 2010, but we needed a fifth story that would be compelling enough to match the other four.

At a brain storming meeting, I said that I had a possible story. It was a story of gentleman (Ron) who lived through a horrific tornado. The more I shared, the more the group thought it might have potential. (I knew of the story because it happened to a high school classmate's dad.)

There's a sad part to the story. His wife died as a result of her injuries from the storm. That news made a couple of people push back; that we shouldn't include the story because of that fact. But death is a part of life and we shouldn't exclude the story for that reason alone. I got buy-in and they gave me the thumbs up to move forward.

I contacted his son Tom, who I went to school with, via Facebook, to see if his dad would be willing to share his story.  Tom sent me a message back that "Yes. Dad would be willing..." He also said that they were very grateful to have a place like St Marys Hospital/Mayo Clinic so close to Albert Lea.

As I thought about that comment, I realized the irony in it. Ron had been treated at St. Marys and Mayo Clinic because he was injured by a tornado, yet it's possible that neither St. Marys nor Mayo Clinic would be here if it weren't for a tornado that nearly destroyed Rochester in 1883.

I planned to meet Ron and set up a photo session with him when he was visiting Mayo Clinic the following week. I made the assumption that Tom would be accompanying his dad for this appointment (I have no idea why I assumed that). Ron was only told that I would meet him during his visit. We had never met, so without Tom there, I wasn't sure if I would find him.

I caught up with Ron and his brother Jack after his first appointment. Both were surprised that I could pick them out of the crowd, but since I know their sons, I just looked for family resemblance. And it didn't hurt that Ron's picture was on his CaringBridge site.

I spend most of the day with these two brothers and it was like spending the day with my dad. What a gift!

I hired a freelance writer to tell Ron's story and everything was chugging along smoothly. About 6 weeks into the project, we realized that his was the only story that didn't have a video for the website. While I love video production, this would be my first one for Mayo.

We scheduled video shoots with Ron's doctor and with Ron, but we lacked b-roll for the video (b-roll is that filler stuff that makes a video interesting and not just a talking head). I found out that Ron was also being featured in an annual report video for the rehabilitation center that he stayed at after his discharge from St. Marys. Aha! B-roll. So I contacted them and one week later I had the footage. 

I wanted news footage and since there is a TV station here in Rochester, we contacted them, but they were not interested in sharing. We contacted KAAL-TV in Austin and they were willing to give us some footage from the night of the storm. After going through the legal rigmarole, we got the footage at the last minute.
I got permission to use a photo of the storm taken by Arian Schuessler of the Globe Gazette that sends chills down your spine. The Albert Lea Tribune sent photos of the damage after the storm as well as photos of Ron when he was at the rehabilitation center. Score!

I started working on the script, but with so many video clips and other media, I was having a difficult time visualizing what I wanted. To get me through this blockage, I used a very large white board with large and colorful post-it notes to pull the script together. 

I used a different color post-it note for each of the video reel and for the still photography. The text for the graphics were written on a different type of post-it note. I had each segment (with time-code) written on the post-its and then I simply moved them around until the story flowed. I've learned that thinking with tactile objects helps me understand things better.

But there was still something missing. I wanted people to understand what a monster this storm was, so they would understand what a miracle it is that Ron survived it.

Then I saw some amazing YouTube footage of the storm and I had to have it. It happened to be footage of the funnel that hit the area of Ron's house.  It was quality video, so I paid the stormchaser and added it to the Mayo video.

The media support services staff at Mayo are outstanding and they took my script (I had written it out after the post-it note exercise) and they added the perfect music and pulled everything together.

I hope I did the story justice. Check it out below.

Here's the video

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Voice

Last week, I watched a TED video that featured Roger Ebert, the legendary Chicago movie critic, with the title, "Remaking My Voice." Ebert lost his ability to talk when cancer (and the surgeries for cancer) destroyed his jaw. Ebert talks on the video through a Mac PowerBook that simulates a human voice. He also had his wife and two friends read his story because he finds the artificial voice annoying and figured we would, too. 

The beauty of TED talks is that they are never longer than 20 minutes. I'll give you warning here, you will get choked up toward the end. 
His story made me wonder if I could deal with not being able to talk. I think most people, at one point or another in their lives, wonder how they would deal with being deaf or blind. I don't think most of us have ever thought about what it would be like to lose your voice. 

Because I've always been comfortable with the written word than the spoken word, I think I would find a way to deal. I would have to depend on other people more than I do now - I wouldn't be able go through the drive-through by myself or answer a phone call. I'm sure I would use social media even more than I do right now. 

Then a few days later, I received news that my uncle had cancer and would be losing his voice box. Roger Ebert's story took on a whole different perspective to me. He will be having surgery April 25th at Mayo Clinic and although he barely talk now, he'll be able to say final words to those he loves most. I'm hoping that he can use some of the new technologies to augment his communications, but I'm hoping even more that this surgery will get all the cancer. 

Keeping my fingers crossed and saying my prayers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Testing 1, 2, 3 and a quarter inch

As I described in my last post, I've admitted my addiction to quilting and how a fabric store is a very dangerous place for me. I may have admitted it, but I'm not going to treatment. 

The Fire Escape quilt that got me the purple ribbon.
Monday night, I had an opportunity to be a part of a quilt pattern testing at the Calico Hutch Quilt Shop in Hayward, Minnesota. Even cooler for me was the opportunity to meet one of my favorite quilt designers, Terry Atkinson. Terry designed the quilt that I entered last August to the Freeborn County Fair and for which I got the Championship ribbon. Her pattern directions are so well written, may be in part because she uses test groups before sending the pattern to the printer. 

Terry's Shadow Song pattern
Every six months, there is a "Quilt Market" where retailers go and see the new fabrics and patterns. The spring market is next month in Salt Lake City and Terry is introducing quite a few new patterns. Including the one we tested last night. 

The pattern is called Shadow Song and our job was to follow the directions and make at least one of each of the blocks. I'm not great with keeping everything perfectly square, so I sometimes end up with misshaped squares. I got thru the first block and wanted to sort of hide it because it looked so strange and I was sure I had done it wrong.  Then another woman talked about not getting everything to line up. and then another. While I was concerned with understanding the pattern, someone else figured out that Terry had one cutting error at the very beginning that was causing the problem.  The direction said to cut the square to 3-1/4 inch, but the correct cut was 3-1/2 inches. Just a 1/4" makes a big difference. 

So Terry got her pattern tested and a crucial error was caught before it was sent to the printer the next morning. And I got to meet a quilting rock start. At least in my book. 

I love the Calico Hutch's back room with super high ceiling & amazing quilts covering all the walls
Talk about a place that distracts me!
A new design from Terry - A cute pillow with zippers for the design

Everyone is into making bags now. This is called "Stack & Stow"

Here's another newbie from Terry - Texas Two Step.
Carolyn & her staff made us hot fudge sundaes!
This is one of the blocks and the one with the cutting issue.

She almost got one whole row done.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quilting Addiction

In February 1987, the Albert Lea Community Theater (also known as "ACT" cuz I guess AlbertLea is one word?) presented a musical called Quilters and I was the youngest member of the cast.

 It is a story of a pioneer woman and her six daughter which blends a series of interrelated scenes into a mosaic that demonstrates the challenges and rewards of frontier life. Each story centered on a various quilt block and depicted the life of a frontier woman: childhood, marriage, childbirth, spinsterhood, twisters, fire, illness and death (I had to die in one scene), but also the inspirational vision of simple human dignity and a woman's resolve in the face of adversity. The play ends with the various patches assembled into one glorious, brilliantly colorful quilt that qualified as the largest quilt I ever saw.  (The quilt was made by the Minnesota Quilters Guild for the Chanhassen Dinner Theater's production of Quilters.)

I fell in love with quilting during that play. I was unemployed at the time, so I spent hours at my sewing machine teaching myself how to do it. I will admit - I was horrible at it. I made my first real quilt (Log Cabin pattern) as a gift for a friend's wedding. I went a bit overboard and made it far too big. I pieced it and then tied it because I had no clue how to do actual quilting. 
Eventually, I got better and started making quilts for my nieces and nephews. That continued until about 1996 when I got involved with skating and focused all my energy and free time on that. Unfortunately, only five of the nine got quilts, so there are four nieces and nephews still waiting.

Then about three years ago, I started quilting again and my passion for this hobby has consumed me (along with much of my budget).
  • When the owners of the quilt shops know you by name, that might mean you're a "good customer." 
  • I always have several projects going at one time because I'm powerless over the allure of quality fabric and cool looking patterns. 
  • When I started packing my condo for moving last fall, I think I had more tubs of fabric than I did of my clothing. 
  • I can recognize a quilt pattern, tell you the name of the pattern and if I have one in process. 

 Last weekend, I went on my first quilters' retreat sponsored by the Calico Hutch (Hayward, MN)  Just me and about 95 other addicts at the Austin (MN) Conference Center. Everyone had their own table to lay out their paraphernalia like rotary cutters, templates and high-tech sewing machines.There was also one group who had their laptops set up with the Decorah Eagles on 24/7.
The staff of the Calico Hutch was wonderful to everyone and I'm already signed up for retreats in February and April of 2012.
This Carolyn Matson, owner of Calico Hutch, demonstrating how you can confuse a ruler with a handle with your phone.
Here's Katie Zenk, the blog master of Calico Hutch's blog and a wildly creative young woman. Plus she's a financial whiz.

And the photo above? That's the quilt I want to make next. It contains thousands of pieces. Thousands and thousands pieces. Doesn't that sound like fun??

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Getting A New Driver's License Can Be Traumatic


I'm alive and I'm back to blogging. I haven't been sick, just crazy-busy. And frustrated with a computer not working right. It took the highly technical knowledge of the Geek Squad to get my home desktop fixed. The inside of the CPU was so dusty, that the system was over-heating and shutting down to protect itself.

The State of Minnesota sent me an early birthday card two months ago, informing me that my driver's license would be expiring on my birthday. Normally, that wouldn't be a big deal. Normally is not a word that I would use to describe anything in my life these days.

When you go in to renew your driver's license, you have to provide them with your current address. Since I'm not actively residing in my St. Paul condo and having all my mail forwarded, I couldn't use the St. Paul address. But I really didn't want to use my sister's address since this is a temporary situation. So I kept putting it off. Not that I had any expectation that within a month I would be living somewhere else, but it was the "I-don't-want-to-think-about-it" way of dealing with decision making.

I had a short "Harry Potter" moment when I thought about listing my address as "bedroom in the basement, 16 Privet Lane, Mantorville."

Finally my birthday arrived and my license would be expired the next day. My niece, Casey, had told me how to find the license place in historical downtown Mantorville. So did I go and do it that day? Nope. I blew it off.

I figured I would do it later that week over lunch; since I work downtown Rochester, I could just walk over to the Government Center. So did I do that? Nope. Too busy and/or too lazy.

It was going on a week overdue and I was feeling the additional pressure that my license tags would also be expiring at the end of March.

I was saved by serendipity (not to be confused with dippity-do). As it happened, I had to go to Albert Lea (my hometown) to do videotape an interview for work. Since I had free time prior to the interview and I knew WHERE to go in Albert Lea (having renewed my license there many times), I would do during that trip.

Only they tore down the newer part of the old courthouse and built a newer newer section. So I had to wander around the building to find the license renewal division. Luckily, the county register is the same person as when I got my original driver's license, so I knew who to write the check out to. Yee Haw. 

So now I have my new drivers license with the appropriate lie about my weight and my Mantorville address. I'll get a new one as soon as I land in a more permanent place. I'm sure I won't be living in the bedroom in the basement forever. Although I might stick around for part of the summer to enjoy the pool in the back yard...It's a dip I will do. :)