Congressman John Sarbanes

All posts tagged Congressman John Sarbanes

It’s Show Time!

Published April 18, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

Welcome AHC

To date, I have no idea why the audio was not in synch with the video during that tech rehearsal. I went through each video on both formats prior to the trip, and, on two computer systems with no issue. It made no sense. (Note: I tested the videos from that flash drive again on my computers when I returned from the California journey. There were no synchronicity issues with the audio during playback!) Obviously something else triggered an audio delay on my laptop once it was connected to their A/V equipment. I was counting on the DVD versions to solve the dilemma.

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Once I returned with the discs, I immediately inserted the first DVD, just to test the system. So far, so good. It loaded without incident. It was now time to hit the play button. Will it work, or will the situation become dire, leaving me to desperately seek and devise another solution? I nervously clicked on the play button and to my complete delight, the DVD worked like a charm. Whew! What a relief! Once I confirmed that all three DVDs functioned properly, I went through each one again to set sound levels as I wanted to avoid audio distortion during the presentation.

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The electronic hardware provided for the event was a fairly simple A/V system. It was not equipped with programmable capabilities, so I jotted down the sound level settings on a notepad. This strategy provided a means to preset each level prior to playback. (My stage managing experiences come in handy for these kinds of events). Then I ran through each video presentation a few times to make sure I was satisfied with the audio levels and video quality. All in all it was a productive run-through and I was ready for show time!

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AHC Gala Reception Station

After the tech rehearsal, I dashed up to the hotel room to get ready for the big event. About an hour before the dinner, while guests were still arriving and checking in, Kathy suggested I make sure one more time, that everything was set and ready to go. I thought that was a great idea and headed back to the ballroom to confirm once again, that all systems were set. When I arrived, the A/V technician also thought it was a good idea to conduct a quick run through, just to be on the safe side and make sure all systems were a “go” one final time. To be honest, this made me feel more secure and supported by the crew, because of the technical difficulties I had run into earlier. This extra step really helped provide for me, that extra peace of mind. Once again, I played each video, confirmed the levels I had established earlier using their electronic device as the master volume controller, and once again, I was completely satisfied with both the crisp sound of the audio and the quality of the high definition video that was projected on the wide screens in the ballroom. I was more than ready for my part and couldn’t wait for the big event!

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AHC Gala Dinner

The dinner was exquisite! Because we’ve been so focused on work and school, it had been a while since my daughter and I had the pleasure of enjoying a night out of fine dining and socializing. We dined with guests involved in the Hellenic media, so the dinner company was both pleasant and engaging. After the dinner part of the event concluded, an announcement was made that the program was about to commence. That was my cue to “places”. I went to the A/V station to get ready for the first video presentation. The initial directions I received had Professor Pantelia from UC Irvine as the first award recipient. Just as I inserted her DVD tribute, the Master of Ceremonies dropped by our station and began to speak to the technician about the order of the program, assuming he was the operating technician. I smiled and let him know I was the Technical Director. He then proceeded to explain the sequence of events and went over the cues to begin each presentation. I was so appreciative, because I discovered the first award recipient was Congressman Sarbanes. I would have felt quite silly playing Professor Pantelia’s video. That could have been an embarrassing blunder.

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AHC Master of Ceremonies, Mike Manatos

Once the MC began the program, I anxiously waited for my cue to hit the play button. The correct DVD was on stand-bye, the sound level was set, but I now noticed another electronic device hooked up to the system that was connected to their master volume control box. It was a piece of hardware that was not connected an hour earlier. I didn’t give it much thought, nor did I ask the technician what it was because I did not think it would have any affect on my equipment. The MC had just wrapped up his introduction to Congressman Sarbanes and invited the audience to watch the first video. That was my cue to hit the play button. The music came in and the narrative began. The audio was in perfect synch with the video, smooth sailing so far … hang on … I noticed there was something unusual going on with the audio playback. Listening more closely, a horror came over my face! The audio playback now had an unusual reverberation effect. What the …Miss piggy

Shock! Total Shock! The above image of Jim Henson’s Muppet, Miss Piggy, is how I was feeling! I imagine my eyes may have looked like hers at the time: the size of golf balls from being in a speechless state of shock! I was peeved and felt like Miss Piggy wanting to release a few karate chops at something! Instead, as a showbiz vet, I kept my cool and immediately tried to resolve the problem. At first, I thought it was because the volume was too loud, so I brought down the audio level a few decibels. That did not resolve the issue. There was still an echo effect; a delay in the playback. What had transpired in that hour since that final tech rehearsal? What was the culprit? Then it hit me … Eureka! It had to be the new device that was connected to the sound equipment – the hardware that was not attached an hour earlier. I leaned over, whispered to the technician, and politely inquired if he could explain the cause of the re-verb effect that was distorting the audio playback.

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He immediately pointed to the mysterious black box. I kindly asked him to remove it because it was compromising the audio quality to a level that was below my professional standards. Much to my surprise, the man ignored my request. When I inquired again, he explained his hands were tied. In other words, he was unable to troubleshoot or try to find a solution. He advised me that a third party set up the new device, adding he did not have the authority to alter the connections. I could not believe what I was being told! I was dumbfounded and had a difficult time processing this information. Was I really the Captain in a no-win scenario? I was just informed by a crew member that there were no alternatives. In the meantime, I remained professional and stayed calm while we all listened to an altered version of the audio track from what I perceived, emanated from some kind of special effects processor device that was implemented by an unknown third party. This presented a situation where the resolution was out of the scope of my control. (This was NOT in the brochure!) In my perspective, the presentations sounded like they were being broadcast in an outdoor football stadium with an added echo effect. In other words, the mystery electronic device added a slight delay that played over the original audio track.

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Congressman John Sarbanes with distinguished AHC Guests

In truth, the audio was not inaudible. The audience members were laughing at the right places and I could tell they understood the content. As the producer of the intellectual property however, I knew what it was supposed to sound like, and this was not how they sounded during both rehearsals that day. For me on a personal level, it was like experiencing a costume malfunction during a crucial moment in a live show. All I could think during each presentation was, “how do I unplug this special effects processor that is ruining the quality of the sound?” Sadly, there was nothing I could do because it wasn’t my equipment. I didn’t want to cause a scene, plus, I didn’t want to risk making matters worse by unplugging the mystery device without knowing what the consequences would be. In my professional assessment, testing it out during a live show was not an option as the outcome could be disastrous. Needless to say, I was very disappointed with the output and unhappy that I did not have someone from the staff with authority to assist in this predicament. I was at a loss for words and felt the wind knocked out of my sails. After all the work, preparation, many long hours, and effort I put in to making these tributes to honor the dignitaries, this was an occurrence I was not prepared for. Oh well … that’s showbiz and the nature of a live theatrical event!

Next week I will focus on the investigation that was conducted to ascertain what went wrong to avoid running into future experiences like this one.

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Until then … Happy Easter to everyone celebrating and keep working on …

being organized!

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“Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed, it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart.” — Margo Anand

*AHC photos provided by the American Hellenic Council of California. For more information on their organization, please click here.

The Main Event: The AHC Gala

Published April 11, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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With the first two presentations complete, I was now focused on the final video for Dean Metropoulos. He was the recipient of the Aristeio Ward because of his continual support of Hellenism and his outstanding achievements which have had a significant impact both nationally and internationally. For example, the Metropoulos management firm has been involved in nearly 80 acquisitions that includes around $50 billion in invested capital for the past 25 years with impressive returns on Wall Street. With all of his accomplishments however, many would agree that his saving the Hostess Twinkie was one of the highlights.

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Dean Metropoulos Aristeio Award 2014 AHC Gala Tribute Video

The more information I gathered on Mr. Metropoulos, the more impressed I was with his story because what my research revealed, was that like Maria Pantelia and John Sarbanes, he too, is passionate about his life’s work, which is a key component that contributes to their effectiveness as inspirational leaders. Having worked on these video presentations and discovering what exemplary individuals they are, was a transforming experience for me. It sparked my Greek fire and motivated the storyteller in me to share their journey in a way that truly honored their authentic spirits so that the audience, could discover like I did, who they are and also understand why these extraordinary people were being honored. (Click on the image of Dean Metropoulos above to see his video presentation).

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Kathy invited my daughter and I to attend the event to make sure the video presentation went smoothly. So we decided to make it into a little mom-daughter spring break journey as we had not been to L.A. since she was in kindergarten when we traveled there to visit Disneyland. We left Vegas early in the morning to get in by early afternoon, but got caught in gridlock traffic on the San Bernardino Freeway. It held us up over an hour. (That’s the part of Southern California I do NOT miss!) By the time we arrived at the Omni Plaza, we were nearly an hour late and Kathy was deeply focused on putting out some of her own “fires” one of which was being short on volunteers that day.

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So, we dropped off our luggage and immediately asked what we could do to help out. For us, it was fun because it gave us the opportunity to spend some quality time with our gal pals, working together while catching up. We also had a chance to check out the ballroom where the event would take place. Later, a few of the staff members escorted us to the venue to could go over the layout. For me, in the role of Technical Director for the video presentation, it allowed me to meet the Audio/Video (A/V) staff,  see the equipment we were given to work with, and schedule a rehearsal the next day to set light cues and sound levels for the event.

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What my experience in showbiz and my extensive research work in grad school have taught me, is to be well prepared and expect the unexpected. That meant, rehearsals were an integral part of making sure everyone knew their part and that I too, understood what my responsibilities were as well. I also came prepared with my own backup plan for the presentations if for whatever reason, we ran into any technical issues. In addition to bringing my laptop I had several DVD copies of each presentation. Plus, each video file was saved on a flash drive. In addition, I uploaded them all on YouTube in Hi-Definition. In other words, I had as many formats of the video presentation as I could think of to make sure I had many options to choose from, should one system fail. Boy am I glad I did!  But that’s next week’s blog post. You will have to come back then to find out how it all turned out and whether it was an epic success or a fabulous failure!

Until then … have a great weekend everyone and stay organized!

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“The appearance of things changes according to the emotions, and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.” — Kahlil Gibran

 

 

 

The Award Presentations

Published April 9, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Now that I had some feedback from Kathy about Congressman Sarbanes tribute video, I could begin putting together the presentation for the next honoree, UC Irvine professor, Dr. Maria Pantelia, the recipient of the AHC’s Theodore Saloutos Award. This award is given to honor distinguished members of the Hellenic Community for their extraordinary devotion to Hellenism, its traditions, ideals, and culture. (Note: this award was named after the late UCLA professor who founded and presided over the Save Cyprus Council which later became the American Hellenic Council).

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Professor Pantelia is the Chair of Classics at the University of California Irvine as well as the Director of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae® (TLG). The TLG is a research center at UC Irvine whose aim is to provide a comprehensive digital collection of all surviving texts written in Greek from antiquity to the present era. Under her direction, the TLG underwent a major expansion to include Byzantine and Modern Greek, in addition to being brought online in 2001. To this day, the TLG has identified and digitized the entire extant corpus of Greek from Homer to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 CE. It is a collection that consists of more than 4,000 authors and 15,000 works. Equipped with a highly powerful search engine and a suite of digital research tools designed to analyze this data, the TLG is an indispensable resource used by millions of readers in more than 2,000 academic institutions in 58 countries worldwide. Needless to say, like Congressman Sarbanes, Dr. Pantelia’s achievements were impressive and significant as well, so my personal goal was to make sure that the video presentation highlighted her accomplishments eloquently.

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After going through all the footage and collecting the data available, I pieced them together and completed the presentation. Both Kathy and I were extremely happy with the final results and couldn’t wait for show time. Now that I had finished these two presentations, I was ready to focus on the next and final honoree: Dean Metropoulos, the recipient of the Aristeio Award and the topic of Friday’s blog. In the meantime, for those interested, below are the YouTube links of the video presentations for Dr. Pantelia and Congressman Sarbanes:

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Dr. Maria Pantelia, The Theodore Saloutos Award, 2014 AHC Gala Tribute Video

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Congressman John Sarbanes, The Pericles Award, 2014 AHC Gala Tribute Video

Until Friday … keep focused and stay organized!

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“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” — Mother Teresa

My Introduction to the AHC

Published April 7, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

 

Kathy Konst, Executive Director, AHC

Kathy Konst, Executive Director, AHC

Early this year, a close friend of mine, Kathy Konst, found herself in a situation she did not quite know how to approach. The non-profit organization she works for was hosting their annual gala award dinner. In addition to her responsibilities to help organize the event, she was also in charge of providing the video presentations for each of the honorees to highlight their achievements. With all her corporate, political, educational, and organizational management skills, video production was new territory for her. Not aware of her predicament and while she was trying to determine how to approach this arduous task, I happen to post on Facebook,  a short video presentation I produced for a project in grad school.

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The timing could not have been more perfect. She watched the video and saw a solution to her dilemma. Dr. Chopra (2014) postulates that we use information and intelligence to move energy, and by focusing our intentions, we can help direct our outcomes. He further purports that when live our lives with an awareness and appreciation of coincidences and their meaning, we can then create more opportunities that will produce an infinite amount of possibilities. This is a state he identifies as synchrodestiny, where he explains, it becomes possible to accomplish the spontaneous fulfillment of our desires (Chopra, 2014). What this means in scientific terms is that the energy I transmitted from being in a state of joy, with a focused passion to create a video presentation simply as an educational tool to entertain fellow classmates, created an opportunity in which our energies became synchronized. Was this merely a coincidence, or a genuine example of synchrodestiny in action? The bottom line was that my friend was in a predicament and just like magic, I unexpectedly found myself in a position to step up and help out. Regardless of an explanation, I thought that was pretty cool.

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Due to our busy schedules, I had not been in close contact with Kathy for a while and was not cognizant of her position as Executive Director at The American-Hellenic Council in California, the non-partisan political advocacy organization, community organizer, and networking venue for Greek Americans nationwide. Since the organization’s inception, the American Hellenic Council has been the focal point of political activities of Greek American citizens. The AHC has become an effective and respected political group whose purpose is to lobby the U.S. Congress for the protection and promotion of Greek-American interests. During its existence, for example, the American Hellenic Council has supported numerous Hellenic issues, has made political donations, and raised significant contributions for members of Congress who support Hellenic issues (American Hellenic Council, 2014). I have not been as active in the political arena, so this was a new territory for me. All I knew was that a close friend had a dilemma and I found myself in a position to give a lending hand. She said she was so relieved and felt like an enormous weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

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The pressure was now on me. However, in truth, I did not feel any pressure. In fact, I felt joy and honor that this project fell into my lap, so to speak. I had just completed grad school and was confident in my skills and abilities. So I decided to approach this assignment like another research project, only this time, rather than creating a final product as a written presentation, it would result in a video presentation. My job was to gather the data and come up with an end product that would not only meet the level of last year’s presentation, but exceed it. I began by collecting all the pieces, including the biographies, photos, and video clips of all the three recipients: Congressman John Sarbanes from Maryland’s Third District, UC Irvine Professor, Dr. Maria Pantelia, Ph.D, and Mr. Dean Metropoulos, the CEO whose management firm recently saved the Hostess Twinkie. Next, I had to decide how to piece it together.

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John Sarbanes, Maria Pantelia, and Dean Metropoulos

I had gathered enough data on Congressman John Sarbanes, the recipient of the Pericles Award, so I worked on his presentation first. The parameters I was given for this assignment, was to take all the information collected and create a three minute video. This meant I had to go through all the video footage provided as well as create an outline to organize the data. From the information I collected, which was quite impressive, I composed a script and storyboard so that I could provide a clear picture of Congressman Sarbanes’ achievements. The Pericles Award is to honor this political leader as an advocate of peace and democracy in the Eastern Mediterranean as a supporter of the American Hellenic Community. After I pieced together a first draft, I sent Kathy a sample video from all the data I collected thus far, that also included a fabulous soundscape by the musical genius of Greek composer/producer Yanni. (Click on the image of Congressman Sarbanes below to watch the video sample I sent her.)

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Congressman John Sarbanes, Recipient of the 2014 AHC Pericles Award (Extended Video draft)

The reason I intentionally produced a video presentation that was longer than what she asked for was because there was a considerable amount of interview footage from Congressman Sarbanes and I wanted to be clear on what she felt was significant to include. The immediate response I received from Kathy was fabulous! She absolutely loved it! The big challenge now … editing the piece down to roughly three minutes. The results my friends, will be the focus of Wednesday’s blog … until then … work hard, play fiercely, and stay organized!

  “Abundance is a state of mind in which you believe you are intrinsically creative. You recognize that the universe is abundant, and that you are an expression of the universe.” — Dr. David Simon

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References:

American Hellenic Council. (2014). Retrieved April 6, 2014, from LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/american-hellenic-council Chopra, D. (2014).

Coincidences: Clues from the universe by Deepak Chopra. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from http://www.beliefnet.com: http://www.beliefnet.com/Wellness/2003/10/Coincidences-Clues-From-The-Universe-By-Deepak-Chopra.aspx#