Category Archives: identity

My YouTube Diary – Opening A YouTube Channel

Similar to television channels, on YouTube you can open your own channel to upload videos to. You can even make a trailer to promote it, add your social media links and pay for ads to advertise this channel. It’s like opening a free mini tv station which you can brand and upload whatever content (within YouTube guidelines) you want the world to see.

There are step by step instructions and technical tips on Buffer Social’s site write up on how to open a YouTube channel. Basically you need a Google account which will also give you an email account, brand account, YouTube account and Ad Sense account (for collecting revenue from ads or to pay for ads). It’s handy that everything is linked and the interface is quite user-friendly for newbies.

One of my friends told me that somehow they got banned from opening a YouTube channel because someone close to her somehow had access to her email and did some odd stuff on YouTube pretending to be her. Hence she was banned for a few years. Remember that the internet is like an elephant, it never forgets! So be careful of what you write and read the warning emails if they appear because you can get banned!

After opening a brand account and YouTube channel, you may want to think of a logo. This is an extra touch which helps promote brand recognition and it’s kind of fun to have the chance to make a logo for your own channel! To make a logo, you can either 1) DIY with original art, 2) DIY with free royalty-free stock art from Pixabay, 3) DIY with design programs such as the fabulous free Canva (you can upload your own images if Canva doesn’t have exactly what you want) or 4) hire an artist. If you hire someone and buy the copyright, the content is  yours. When you use stock art or Canva, read the fine print for license details for what you can and can not do.

Here are a few of my YouTube channel logos which were created either on my own or commissioned an artist for the art:

logos

Once you have things set up, you can actually open up more than one channel. Why do this? Well, for me, I wanted to have a few different channels due to different interests that don’t really intersect. I actually created the JF Garrard channel years ago to upload a book trailer for my multicultural vampire novel, The Undead Sorceress (looks so cheesy when I re-watch it!). Now that I have a new project, to organize things better, I created a playlist specific to my project on depression, Pessimist to Semi-Optimist (PTO) project so people interested in this project can watch all the videos on this project in one go. It’s like using setting up your PVR to record all the Big Bang Theory shows in a row to watch them non-stop.

Po Po Gets Results!” is a channel I opened to make Chinese language videos with my mom to drill some Chinese into my son because it’s hard to find Chinese/English videos with toys that he likes to play with. “Po Po” means grandmother in Cantonese. Viking husband thought that “Po Po Gets Results” was a funny phrase and describes my mom’s relentless nature in shoving food into our offspring. Anyhow, getting him to learn numbers from a Thomas the Train that sounds like his grandmother seems to be working for now!

Over Christmas, my husband went crazy while watching super boring videos of Disney toy openings with children that we were babysitting. I looked up the person that made these videos and it turns out they make over $1M a year! We have a lot of toys at home, so why not try to make some videos about toys which children would want to watch? However, my interest in attempting to making videos about toys (openings and reviews) does not really fit into my channel on author and depression stuff. As a parent, I would be confused if a channel has videos on toys and advice on how not to commit suicide or vampire book trailers. It might fit into the Po Po channel, but I want to keep that exclusive for Chinese educational videos, so I opened a channel called “Kid Creatures” for toy reviews and toy opening videos.

Finally, some friends wanted to get together to make comedy skits. Good comedy is extremely difficult to do and very subjective, which makes me a bit nervous about doing this. As a big fan of BBC’s Absolutely Fabulous I always wish there was more female comedy that was not only about hot flashes, women being mean or sex. “One Hand Wave” is the comedy channel I opened to upload funny things to. My friends and I haven’t gotten together yet because everyone seems to be busy. Maybe that can be a skit in itself! Funny how the one person with a toddler is the one that set up everything and bought equipment but the single people are still “thinking” about things before they want to do anything…sigh…ok, I’m being a bit mean now…

I admit it’s a hassle to switch in between channels or personas when doing updates, but I think it will be worth it in the long run. Within each channel you can create playlists, so when people are on your channel, you can create lists to link all your videos. This will help people find your videos as YouTube is a vast place with millions of videos.

One software I highly recommend to spread messages about your message on social media is Hootsuite, which allows you to schedule posts. For example, you want to send ten Twitter messages about a new video. Instead of logging into Twitter and typing it ten times every day (and trying to remember!) – you can schedule all ten posts over ten days in a few minutes in Hootsuite. There is a free version you can link to 3 accounts, but if you have multiple things to upkeep, a paid version costs about $200/year for up to 10 accounts.

Opening a channel is the easy part! Now it’s off to the races by making videos to upload!

 

Advertisements

I am a "generic Asian"

Happy New Year!

Throughout December 2013 I had been travelling throughout Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, S. Korea since there was a major family wedding in Korea.

To my surprise, people thought that I was whatever they were and would speak to me at length before realizing I didn’t understand. Then I would get the “this girl is a deaf mute” look. This has happened before in China (I speak Cantonese, not Mandarin), but I didn’t expect people to think that I was Japanese or Korean.

A computer in 2009 simulated average faces for Asians, can you tell which faces are Chinese, Korean and Japanese? (click for answer as well as South Asian faces)

My Viking husband labelled me the “generic Asian” as he was quite amused by all this. With his red hair and beard, people didn’t even try to speak to him. I learned how to say “I don’t understand/don’t know” in Mandarin, Japanese and Korean. However, people sometimes interpreted this as I didn’t know the answer to a question. My brother in law suggested that I learn how to say “I have a mental disability” which may work better.

I was so amused by my new nickname that I decided to rename my blog to “Musings of a Generic Asian” from “Musings of JF Garrard”.

Unfortunately, there was some negative stuff as well which was obvious from angry speech and body language – that I am a terrible Asian as I am hanging out with non-Asian people. Usually it would be an older Asian man that would come up to me directly and say a long speech with nasty glares.

I was being made to feel ashamed that I was a bad Japanese/Korean when I was Chinese. I’ve never traveled to China with my husband, so I’m not sure if we would experience the same thing there. Generally, I think this happened so often because the older generation wants to enforce their rules on the younger generation.

Regardless, it was a wonderful trip and I have been inspired to create art again after a visit to the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) and National Musuem of Modern and Contemporary Art in Deoksugung. It was amazing to see the fusion of Eastern and Western art techniques and the powerful messages behind each piece.

I don’t think I’ll see my husband much this year as I want to finish up a few books, travel to a few conventions, start a podcast and create some cultural identity art!

Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll put together my pics and comments, so stay tuned!

Overthinking Romance

Medieval Wedding

Last night I saw a live musical performance of Once and told my Viking husband afterwards that I would rather see someone was being bludgeoned to death in a Takeshi Kitano gangster movie than the romantic stuff that happened on stage.  “I wonder why this is?” I wondered out loud.  “It’s because you understand violence more than romance,” he replied.

We continued our conversation a bit more.  To his surprise, I told him that all throughout high school I had read a lot of romance novels, ranging from Harlequins to Amanda Quick.  This was popular with the students because I attended an all-girls Catholic high school and many girls wanted to know what the opposite sex was like in relationships.  The plots were fairly predictable as there was usually a free spirited girl rebelling against something, then she meets a handsome man and there is some conflict before they usually fall into each other’s arms reluctantly while rolling around several times having hot sex.  There is usually a serious commitment at the end of the book to seal a happy ending and the woman lives happily ever after.

Having fallen in love and experienced crushes, I am familiar with the irrationality of such emotions.  There is this high of joy you get when you discover another person.  However, such feelings don’t last forever or else you will burn out as you devote all your energy into feeding this love or crush obsession.

Perhaps I am just annoyed that romance stories are very one sided as they are written generally by women for women and the men behave oddly in them.  If I meet men who was incredibly good looking, charming and with a silky tongue; I would wonder how many women he has charmed and if he has any STDs.  Also, what are his motives for acting in such a manner?  Why would they talk to me out of all the females available?

To genuinely fall in love takes time; as I believe true love is learning and totally accepting someone for who they are, including all their faults.   Over the course of a novel, film or musical, character development is usually rushed so I usually don’t have time to comprehend why someone would fall head over heels with someone else.  The story lines run so fast that in the blink of an eye, people have gone from being strangers to getting married.  People are complicated creatures and the notion of longing for romance confuses me.  It’s like “Waiting for Godot” – the harsh truth is that most of the men on the planet don’t have a clue about romance as it’s mostly stuff made up by women.

OK, I am sounding very old and cynical, so let’s change the topic!

The latest Takeshi Kitano movie, “Beyond Outrage”, is about a war between crime families so the different generations of gangsters go out and kill each other in creative ways; ranging from a drill to a baseball throwing machine.  Simple, primitive and understandable!

Update: My husband argues that love is a chemical reaction in the brain after meeting someone, a type of attraction.  That’s fine because you have to be attracted to the person in the first place, but I stand by my belief to fully love someone you still have to know them or at least think you do.  There has to be some type of connection!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Nursing Home Stories

Today I took some time to visit my 98 year old grandma in the nursing home and then “broke her out of jail” as she calls it, for some dim sum at a nearby restaurant.  It seems like she really hated the place as they cooked crappy food (she was a really good cook), rushed her during bath time, didn’t have enough activities and in generally, she was really bored.  We only asked her to go to the nursing home (at age 95) after she kept falling and bleeding when her head hit the walls since she was on a lot of aspirin.

She described one of the activities, in which all the residents are suppose to sit and listen to Chinese Opera in a common area on a big screen:

Nursing Home Worker: Hi, would you like to join us in listening to some Chinese Opera with the others?

Grandma: No, my leg hurts.

Nursing Home Worker:  The music is so beautiful.  Your leg won’t hurt after listening to it!

Grandma: What kind of BS is this?  Of course my leg will keep hurting.  If I fall, can you even lift me up little woman?

The worker ran away soon after this conversation.  It’s not hard to imagine where I get my cynical humor from as I started laughing after this story.

Grandma also described some of the residents she avoids:

The 94 year old lady – I can’t talk to this lady who is in a wheelchair, she is crazy.  In the beginning she asked, “What is your last name?”  So I told her.  Then she kept asking me, again and again, “What is your name?”  OK, that was annoying.  But then at meal times, she would say, “Oh, my mother-in-law is waiting for me to eat” and then she would wheel herself out of the dining room.  She is 94, I’m pretty sure her mother-in-law is dead!

The new resident – Recently at my dining table, they assigned a new resident, a man.  He won’t go to physiotherapy because he says nothing is wrong with him.  I told him something must be wrong with him, or he wouldn’t be here!  He is also a pervert because he keeps looking at the nurse’s butts.  He claims he can tell their fortune by their faces and touches them.  Yuck!

When I have time, I try to call or visit grandma as she is quite lonely.  My mother says she shouldn’t complain as she is fed and someone does her laundry.  Mom plans to run for senior president on the floor and party once she gets to the nursing home.  My dad says that is BS…oh well…things to look forward to!

 

 

Curing the Living Dead…With No Sugar Added!

“How are you even alive?” The Chinese doctor looked at me and sighed. “You barely have a pulse, do you eat anything at all?” I told him that I have been trying to eat more vegetables, exercise, etc. “Is there a problem with meat?” “No, I just thought I was eating too much.” “Well, you need protein for your cells to repair and function.” At this point I was flabbergasted.  He knew cell biology? He was a Chinese practitioner with 35 years of experience and worked in HK, Taiwan, and Canada. But I guess I had a stereotype that people usually chose one culture’s scientific knowledge over another.

It’s been 30 years since I have seen any Chinese doctor after the last one my parents dragged me to did some “bone reconfiguration” after I sprained my ankle.  So now I have two “ankles” on one foot due to a misalignment somewhere. “It’s not like you are crippled!” my mom yelled back when I told her why I was afraid of Chinese medicine.

With reluctance after trying to have a damn munchkin for so long, I caved into to seeing a Chinese doctor after my Western doctor became too “busy” to see me. It was a difficult situation with a parent there, as she explained to him how she thinks it’s a stupid idea for me to have a child as children are bad karma creatures out to collect debts from the parents. The doctor smiled politely and said, “You’ve shared your experience with your daughter, now it’s up to her to make the final decision.” A former university colleague of my mother’s, he knew her personality well.

He spoke for about an hour about how to eat properly as it turns out I was malnourished.  With not enough nutrition to function, how did I expect to grow a parasite? He taught a minimal cooking technique for green vegetables to preserve as much nutrients in the food as possible: Add 2 slices of ginger to a wok, heat up; add vegetables which have been rinsed in water only; cook for 3-4 min; add a little olive oil and water if needed; use lid to cover wok; cook for 3-4 min and add a little bit of salt for flavor.

In regards to cutting vegetables, he recommended not using a knife if possible as just hand breaking them preserves the cells better. Also, what I can eat depends on my body type, so he had to take my pulse.

Looking at my left wrist, he shook his head as my non-existence pulse.  After feeling my right wrist he frowned and asked, “You should be experiencing abdominal cramps after meals as you have a bad digestive system.” How did he know this? It was true, I get cramps once in a while, especially when I’m super full.

Then he looked under my tongue; there were black colored veins and when I relaxed it, the tongue did not have smooth sides.  “Your veins are black due to bad blood circulation and there are lumpy sides from your teeth.  When the tongue becomes swollen, it presses against the teeth which is why it is lumpy when you relax it.”  My mom, the energizer bunny, had a super healthy tongue of course.

After another hour of teaching me how to better take care of myself, he started to set my prescription for the next five days.  I had a weak body (low energy, bad blood circulation, heat based), but if I had too much rich food, that would make things worse.  He said there is lots more to know, but didn’t want to overwhelm me at the first meeting.  I have to return in a few days and have another assessment, then my instructions might change depending on how my body is doing.

herb powder ss
From herbs to GMP powder

My instructions:

-powder Chinese medicine mixed 2x per day in lukewarm water (on empty stomach, can eat 1 hour after).

I was expecting to have to buy herbs to cook, but he said that his GMP certified powders were tested for toxins and guaranteed to be the correct herb, unlike random vendors.  This technique of manufacturing Asian meds had been perfected by the Japanese.  Also, people don’t know how to cook the herbs properly which may mess up the meds too.  There were about a dozen powdered herbs in one “dose”.

-can only eat until 7/8 full for each meal

-can not drink water or liquids during the meal, as apparently I’ve been diluting my stomach acids.  I can have half a bowl of soup/water before and after meal that is warm in temperature.

-3 meals: breakfast (something small, carb or protein), lunch (palm size meat with 2x vegetables and some carbs), dinner amount is same as lunch, fruit 2x

-meat = chicken, fish, pork; my body can not handle lamb or beef

-vegetables and fruit must be different if eaten in the same day

-no caffeine = tea, coffee

-no alcohol

-no pop, too much sugar

-speaking of sugar, avoid as much as possible as body can not digest this well

-ARH!  NO CHOCOLATE!  I might as well be dead!

-Vitamin C, 500 milligrams; taking prenatal multi-vitamin ok as much of it will be peed out anyways

-breathing exercises, no more than 5x each or I might damage something (no aerobics as I didn’t have enough energy for that)

-no spicy or fried things

-less soya, tofu due to hormones in them

-No eating of frogs, toads, quail spit, placentas (really?!)

-snacks can either be fruit or yoghurt (Apparently the Japanese have the best yoghurt which is not available in North America)

I had questions about my use of Western medicine and he said that I should not stop as it would be a shock to the system.  I told him it was too late as the doctor pulled me from all meds after my last failed baby attempt.  He said it will take a while for my body to recover, but my body wasn’t too terrible compared to other women he had seen with the same problems.

He told a few stories in which he knew what to prescribe, but held back as he was worried about lawsuits as there is not much confidence in Chinese medicine in the Western world since Western medicine dominated.  There was some communication issues, as my background in science had been taught in English and his in Chinese.  So there were some moments which was like a game as we tried to describe the cell part we were each talking about.

In previous meetings, my Western doctor had said that I was about to take the last step in how they can help me and if it didn’t work, there was no other alternative.  So, I guess, I’ll have to give this Chinese medicine a try as I’m not sure what to do anymore. I am feeling hopeful, which is always a dangerous thing. Wish me luck!

The Price of Changing Your Sex

The other day at dinner I commented out of anger due to pain from time of the month that I wanted to be a man.  My male dinner companion quipped, “It’s not too late!  You can do it anytime; there’s lots of surgery options!”  I was a bit taken back by this as usually my Viking just groans and nods whenever I complain like this.  Anyhow, I decided to look into it and see what is involved.

The official term is sex change or gender reassignment surgery when one decides to change their gender.  There are usually 2 reasons for this: 1) babies are born with intersex deformities, so their sex is decided by the parents and surgery is done or 2) people believe that they are physically a different sex mentally and emotionally.  There is also the unofficial reason #3 of people being exploited for the sex business, but all the sites I found were for people who want to do it on their own.  Stats are difficult to come by as many surgeries are done in private clinics. Surgeryencyclopedia.com estimates that annually in the US 100-500 people have such surgeries and the number worldwide is estimated to be two to five times larger.

TSSurgeryGuide.com outlines a number of steps for either female to male or male to female surgeries required.  Before some of these surgeries, extensive planning is required, such as scheduling multiple doctor appointments; dealing with family, friends, work; insurance; legal documents; taking time for recovery from surgery, etc.   Transsexualroadmap.com offers tons of advice and financial calculator for those serious about change.

Male to Female (MTF) Surgeries

Breast Augmentation
Labiaplasty
One Stage MTF SRS/GRS – vaginoplasty
Orchiectomy -removal of the testicles
Tracheal Shave – Adam’s apple shaving

Female to Male (FTM) Surgeries
Hysterectomy
Ring or Simple Metoidioplasty – constructing the penis
Testicle Implants
Top Surgery – Chest reconstructive surgery

Male to Female (MTF)

Other than surgery, according to someone named “Clones Don’t Have 200k Pts” on Yahoo answers who made the transition from man to woman, there are a number of other things needed.  Their transition cost about $80,000 USD:

  • Therapy. Sessions run $100-150/hr.  At least a couple dozen sessions.
  • Facial hair removal. Done with electrolysis, laser or a combination of both. Electrolysis can cost $50-80/hr and between 150-300 hours is required to be hair free.
  • Body hair removal. Many people need laser treatment to help reduce excess body hair still left after starting hormones.
  • Endocrinologist. This doctor evaluates health, prescribes hormones, monitors progress and orders labwork to check hormone levels and liver function. Average cost per visit (with labwork): $500.
  • New Clothes. Cost depends on person’s fashion sense.
  • Legal fees for legal name change. New Birth certificate. New passport. Costs vary.
  • Facial surgery. Facial Feminization Surgery, the most expensive part of transition. Usually $20,000-45,000.
  • Breast augmentation. About $6-8,000.
  • Sex reassignment surgery. Costs vary,  North America ($18,000-20,000) or overseas ($8,000-15,000).

Historically, one of the first recorded surgeries took place in the US in 1962.  For those that aren’t queasy, it is amazing what kind of female organs can be created – medical diagrams and pictures are on this vaginoplasty site.

Female to Male (FTM)

Surgeryencyclopedia.com states that  female to male reassignment surgery can exceed $50,000 USD while male to female reassignment is $7,000 to $24,000 USD.  I’m guessing that female to male is more expensive due to removal and reconstruction of so many things (taking out uterus, making penis, creating broader torso, etc).  Also, female plastic surgery in general is more common than male plastic surgery, so there is most likely better competitive pricing.  Other items cost relatively the same (therapy, legal changes) and overall estimates I’ve read about online roughly total $80,000 USD as well, same as male to female.  Medical pictures of these surgeries are outlined in a scientific paper published in Seminars in Plastic Surgery journal and surgery recovery time from penis reconstruction is stated to be about 2.5 weeks.  This is only recovery time for one surgery, for multiple surgeries, times for recovery would vary.

And Then?

For the rest of their lives, people who change gender will need to continue taking hormones to counteract their “natural” ones.  In an article published in Archives of sexual behavior, researchers studied 32 male-to-female and 23 female-to-male post surgery and found that female-to-males seem to have better sex lives.  Generally, people’s expectations were met at an emotional and social level, but only 80% reported improvement of their sexuality.

What if you regret surgery?

Apparently it’s possible to go back…just do it all over again!  A British millionaire named Sam Hashimi became Samantha Kane and then became Charles Kane.  Dailymail UK interviewed him and apparently he is happier as a man now.  Granted, going back and forth isn’t very good for the body as there is probably some consequence such as desensitization to certain areas due to nerve damage, etc.  There are a number of other stories of regret online as well in which people become miserable for the rest of their lives as they suffered from bad surgeries or just changed their mind, but couldn’t go backwards for some reason.

Sam Hashimi  Samantha Kane   Charles Kane

Gender is a complicated issue and there are no easy solutions if one feels like they are suppose to be another sex.  For those who actually do take all these steps to fulfill their dream of becoming a man or woman, they are super brave!  Kudos to them!  I hope they find happiness after all these challenging steps.  In the future, would these surgeries become easier?  It’s hard to say, cutting into flesh seems painful regardless.

When I was joking with my Viking that if I get a penis it would be bigger than his, he nodded with raised Spock eyebrows and said, “Of course, dear”.  Hm, I guess this is what he means when he claims that I test/torture him everyday!  Anyhow, I hope you learned something new from this random post!