Swamped, but not sinking…then a vacation!

No doubt, some of you have scratched your heads (or butts, whatever works for you **) and asked yourselves where is my pithy commentary? Where has the wit and the half-wit gone? (A joke primarily for the European audience)

** Note: Remember to wash your hands before you type a comment to this post. 🙂

Or, out of sight, out of mind, I have become a faint memory, some vague recollection of stirring words that once were.

Or you’re thinking to yourself, why is he waffling on in this pathetic attempt to garner supportive comments when he should just make a few points and be on his way. Let’s go with this option.

I titled this “swamped, but not sinking, not drowning” because I have been almost completely snowed under with things to do, but have not been over-stressed, just super-busy, and there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

Some years ago, all of kids were enrolled at the same dance school. I decided after a few years that the video tape we were given at the end-of-year recital was not particularly good, did some research and volunteered to do the work myself for a discount on the fees for the following year.

Uggh. How dumb was I??? The technology wasn’t there at the time. Microsoft Movie Maker (or whatever it was called) couldn’t handle multiple cameras, disks weren’t big enough to hold all the data, the capture from the tape to the disk would fail every so often, yada, yada, yada.

Fast forward a few years. I am nothing if not persistent. One by one, I figured out the problems and taught myself videography. Technology shifts made it possible, of course. Faster computers, bigger disks, better software, a color laser printer (to print the covers for all of the DVDs), etc. I made it work. Then Amélie got old enough to drop out, Brigitte hurt her knee (growth plate problem that stopped her from dancing for 2 years), and it was just Charlotte (who went on to develop foot problems). I let someone else take it over.

Amélie is now in college (uni). Brigitte is back dancing and better and more elegant than ever, and Charlotte has been told she can return to dancing next year and wants to go en pointe as soon as she can. So I stepped up again. This time, I took over the entire production end-to-end. Total control. All the money. And all the hassles. But I’m told two out of three ain’t bad…

Well, it’s not easy. I have built a new super-fast PC. I have upgraded my video-editing software to the latest version. Here is a sample screen shot:

Sample Video Editing Screenshot

Sample Video Editing Screenshot

But it’s hard to get the wiring done, get the settings right on the cameras (they cost well over $10,000 each — which is why I rent them), get a hard disk or tapes organized, get the cameras placed and sealed off from those pesky parents that want a perfect view to see THEIR child (hrrmphh!), and every other detail.

In short, a very intense preparation time. Then there’s the shooting itself. There’s only one chance to record with each camera (I use two or three plus a separate sound input) and there’s no sitting down relaxing and the time allocated to the auditorium means getting packed up and gone quickly. Uggh!

But that’s just the start! Now the recording is done, it has to be downloaded to the PC — about 100 GB of data for the 2.5 – 3 hours of dancing in high-definition video.

And the list goes on. Over the coming weeks, I will spend most of my evenings acting like a director, and yelling “Camera 1! … Now 2!” to myself (not out loud, you understand). And I will be spooling up the printer and getting the labels done and buying blank disks and other stuff. I am faintly hopeful that it won’t be just a DVD that I produce, but a Blu-ray disc (for the first time, dancing in high-definition).

At the end of it all, I should make enough money to pay for the girls’ dance tuition for 2011-12 as well as a big contribution towards the new PC. Mind you, the math is against me. Some overtime at work and I’d make that same money much quicker. But something in me likes this challenge. I’m weird like that. Or maybe I worry that ifI ever stop, everything will come crashing down on me. Who knows…

Not long after the fuss is over with video and DVD and Blu-ray output, I will be shooting, not more video, and probably not into the sunshine, but to England.

Yes, 9 days in England!!

Dear old England, sometimes cloudy and dreary, sometimes wan but warm, sometimes both in the same day.

It’s quite important that I make this trip now. You see, I’m certain my runaway wife hasn’t told her relatives about the separation. So, I’m still on the “inside” of the family and her cousins are offering free accommodation in London, Hampshire, Devon, Derbyshire, and other nice places. I’ll be taking two of my girls — Brigitte and Charlotte — while Amélie works her way through Summer School classes.

So now you see why I have been Absent Without Leave and why I have something to look forward to…for some additional reasons, too..

Oh, and in addition to the video stuff, there is helping my daughter get prepared for Summer School (No, she can’t do it all by herself. No, I don’t know why. Yes, she is 18 years old now. Yes, I should let her do it herself. But, when I do that, I still end up doing it, just with less notice.) There is ongoing reorganization in the basement after the waterproofing project (it looks much tidier now, if you ignore the missing bits of wall). And booking flights to England is not a trivial exercise as the prices, seats, and options change daily (and it is difficult to resist the temptation to add on $$$ for things like Priority Seating, Priority at Security, Priority access to bathroom toilet paper, etc.). And let’s not forget the last-minute notice for the music school concert (thanks Charlotte!!), the juggling of my and other people’s kids for sleepovers, etc.

I swear if some sultry hussy said, “Struggling Dad, you big hunk, I’m all yours if you want me. All I need is some time with you. How about it?” I’d have to say, “Thanks, but I wonder if you’ll still be all hot and bothered in August? June and July aren’t looking good. Oh…did I say something wrong? Why are you slapping me? Hey! Stop!”

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About Single Dad

I married young. Now, after more than 20 years of marriage, 3 wonderful daughters, and many ups and downs, my wife has decided the marriage is over. The "About Me" and "My Background" pages on my blog have more details.
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5 Responses to Swamped, but not sinking…then a vacation!

  1. Loooooooooooooool!!!!!!!!!!

    First of all – I love how you feel the need to sometimes specify whether a joke is meant for an American or a European audience 😀

    Second – If you’re really serious about the editing then I can recommend investing in a MacBook Pro and Mac’s editing system FinalCut. There is also a Pro version of that, but I’m guessing you should be able to manage with the Final Cut Express. I hope that you let one camera be hand held, so that you could walk around and get good close ups of both dancers (maybe even “backstage”) and audience. Full frame on full frame very quickly starts to feel long. Plus, if whoever introduces the recital also asks people to be aware of the cameras then you should be able to always have at least one good shot.

    Third – I don’t know exactly what kind of preparations you’ve been helping your daughter with, but as you mentioned – maybe it’s about time she start doing them herself. I know this is one of the biggest differences between American and European culture (and from where I’m from in Europe we’re probably the most extreme). But when I started high school, I was one of the few people who’s mum still prepared a lunch bag. Everyone else had to make it themselves (just like most of the girls had to do their own laundry – again, I was spoilt) or buy (even though there was no cafeteria) with money that they also had to earn for themselves. Several of my classmates had to pay themselves when there was any kind of school trip (including trips to other countries). And it’s not unusual for parents to begin charging their kids rent (often a symbolic amount) once they turn 18. In my home it was when we’s graduated high school. You’re daughter may not be quite ready for that yet, but feel free to quote me if she ever complains about her life 😉

    Fourth – You’re great! I know you think that it would be much harder for a single mother. But I will keep on admiring how well you’re handling all of this. I’m sure your daughters will carry that with them for the rest of their lives.

    • I know there are readers from different countries and I already said, tough luck folks, I’m using American spelling. But do I really want readers wondering if I’ve lost my mind again when I used an English expression in a witty aside (or an attempt at one)…

      For what I do, which includes multi-camera editing, it would have to be Final Cut Pro. Also, I don’t own a Mac… If you’ve read the press in the last few days, Apple has revamped FCP into oblivion by removing a lot of key features (like multi-camera editing, the ability to specify where the scratch disks will be, etc.).

    • Ooops, missed some stuff.

      I certainly get the idea of chores for the kids and we have an active program for that. However, one daughter is sooooo useless that she will not actually get out at all without occasional help. Sure I could watch her fail, and hope this helps her learn…but it doesn’t.

      I do like the idea of collecting rent though!!

  2. Heheheheheh….have a great vacation!!!

    • This promises to be a fun vacation. The last 3 times I was in England, I was stressed over Visas and Green Cards. This time, it’s just for one. R-e-l-a-x-a-t-i-o-n. And there is another element to the trip too. Should be very interesting.

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