As for what’s happened since the last time I shook hands with fellow travelers to Perú in 2001, I’ve been traveling south to visit our neighbors in the other Americas: South and Central. Before the US oligarchy took over the US economy, I traveled to Brazil (São Miguel do Araguaia, Brasília, and Pantanal), Perú, Costa Rica, El Salvador (twice, second time for b-roll), and Venezuela (twice). I actually learned Spanish enough to communicate when I visited. Until 2007, I was fully funded by corporate capital. Then I graduated out of the corporate morass and back to nature. Here’s a short clip of what happened to my Career History since 2007.
But what I’ve done in the last decade has been very rewarding in accomplishments. I bought a video camera in 2002 and started shooting my own travels. The first was Brazil when I took a two month leave to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in São Miguel do Araguaia to build homes for the locals, visited the IBM offices in Brasília, and counted animal species at the Conservation International’s Pantanal reserves, as a volunteer for Earthwatch. Just before I left for that trip, I shut down several aquariums, sold our Basilisk lizards, and kicked my nephew out of the house (because he’d become a dead-beat), after, of course, the terrorist bombed the World Trade Center. I went as a personal endeavor to show how US citizens care about neighboring countries and people.
The Brazil trip was quite interesting. It is a tropical destination with an aggressive edge, like I imagine Africa. In the Pantanal, plants and animals are a bit more protective with barbs and stingers to thwart attention. But the birds, reptiles, and plants are incredible, think Hyacinth Macaws, huge Caiman, and Acrocomia palms (with long thorns covering its trunk). I created my premiere cinematography and gave the video as a Christmas DVD gift; I just recently uploaded it to YouTube. Because this was my first attempt to shoot video in foreign countries with strangers, I learned a lot, like use a tripod. What I also learned from this trip was that the camera is no good for recording audio. I spent hours using SoundForge trying to remove the camera hum or background motors at the same time preventing the sound from flanging. What a waste of time. So, I had to come up with a better solution.
Then in 2003, my partner Troy, my nephew Chris, and I went to just the Amazon river basin. Troy is an audio engineer, so he provided the audio for my video that I produced into a DVD. It will soon be online as a FREE download from MoPix to experience (MoPix is a startup company who offers VoD for independent feature film productions – they actually asked me to publish my Amazon Explorama video production on their site). I also got great reviews from work associates with whom I had shared copies as Christmas (EOY) gifts, again. My supervisor actually said he thought it looked as professional as National Geographic. Of course, that was an exaggeration but incouraging. What I learned from this trip was how to manage a crew and equipment, again in a foreign country but not necessarily strangers: We ended up with Cliver Acosta as our solo tour guide, who was one of our tour guides our first time in the Amazon river basin.
It was a great trip. We all got a long professionally (although Troy and I wanted to kill Cliver and Chris when they talked over the animal sounds, again I spent hours editing audio and creating foley to cover verbal reactions) and saw more unique and incredible stuff. I included an interview with Dr. Linea Smith and the Amazon Medical Project she runs there. On this trip, we got close to pygmy marmosets, tapirs, and natives who make charcoal on the river banks. During this trip, I toyed with the idea of moving there or maybe somewhere in South America. Dr. Smith advised me to learn Spanish, if I did decide to move there. So, I started learning Spanish and started writing a script after I got home.
Then in 2005, I had learned Spanish from the first collection of Pimsleurs language audio CDs and took a trip to Costa Rica by myself to checkout possibly moving there. What I learned from this trip was that it was a US polluted country and shortly afterwards Wal*Mart moved in. So, I kept learning Spanish but the rest of this year didn’t do much in video until the end when I went to Boston to shoot an Earthwatch Institution conference, in particular Dr. E.O. Wilson. That DVD turned out nice but was pretty boring watching speakers present their stories and statistics. That Christmas gift sort of bombed.
Then in 2006, I got a call from a friend’s daughter who was going to El Salvador and asked if I wanted to shoot their trip. I went to see what it was like there and learned how much the US had destroyed that country through proxy wars. What an experience and shocking eye opener. Oliver Stone did a pretty good job documenting the history of that country and my video never made it to a final production DVD. I did share footage with my friend’s daughter for her to use to present at a fundraising event in San Diego. My next two trips, I went to Venezuela once with my nephew (wrote a story about this trip) and then by myself to Margarita Island for Spanish emersion. I had finished fixing up my house to sell by the middle of the year but the market crashed and I knew then I’d not be able to sell the house or move to South America.
Then I left IBM after 24.5 years working as a computer consultant and was ready for a change. With IBM severance funds, I finished my Spanish courses and was certified as a Project Manager Professional. If you watch my career history video, that pretty much sums it up to where I am today.
Oh, and on the personal side, Troy and I have adopted two Rottweilers, a female and her brother and in December, we adopted a Boston Terrier puppy. We converted our pool into an aquaponic system with blue gill and tilapia. Grew a load of okra this summer and are working on getting other veggies to grow.
If you’re interested in seeing more of my work, here’s my professional profile page: http://frankgouldportfolio.wordpress.com