Where I don't care what others think

Why I Don’t Film Hockey

February 4th, 2013 Posted in College, Personal | No Comments »

I spent my five years at RPI heavily involved in RPI TV, it was the first extracurricular activity I got involved in on campus and it’s safe to say I made a majority of my acquaintances at RPI as a direct result of my membership in the organization.  Over the years I served as News Manager, Station Manager, and a few other positions that have now been deleted or otherwise removed from history.  If you’re unfamiliar with RPI TV, I suggest you check out their wikipedia page which provides a pretty high level overview of the organization.  I can’t remember, but I might have started that page.

One of the tenants of RPI TV’s existence, as well as a handful of other organizations on campus, is the RPI Hockey season… the only sport that RPI is (at least as I understand it) competitive at some decently high levels.  If memory serves, RPI TV first started filming hockey because one or two of the clubs early members were particular fans of the sport and figured it would be something fun to film.  I think that’s a good attitude to take towards productions, I had a similar philosophy when it came to Student Senate meetings though there was  a touch of service-to-a-higher-calling in there as well.

As a very interested member in RPI TV I was mildly interested in participating in any activity, I didn’t see hockey as any more exciting than football or some strange dance or award show.  Freshman year I found myself busy the first few weekends when hockey season came up, and approximately everyone else was interested in helping out so there weren’t any slots for me to fill (at the time there were slots planned well in advanced).  I should have seen this as a forecast for the rest of my time there.

Come sophomore year, I had leg up on the rest of the RPI TV crew, I had a station wagon.  That made me particularly valuable considering the second best candidate for moving equipment was a small civic or something along those lines.  It could, and had, been made to work, but when lots of things needed to get moved I became the preferential transportation method because my seats folded down and you could actually see out the windows while driving a car full of stuff (that probably wasn’t as  important in retrospect, but I like to thing safety first or second).  When hockey season came around I chauffeured equipment to and from the field house, equipment that I rarely got to setup or use in any capacity.  When the crew was short a cameraman and I was feeling bored I’d stick around to help out, often getting the least important lowest-room-for-screwing-up camera that existed.  I didn’t have a desire to take away someone else’s role that they enjoyed doing or were perceived at being good at, but I also would have minded a chance to try my hand at something less mind-numbing or mildly important.

What quickly became apparent to me, in my role as senior equipment chauffeur, was that there were a lot of well established traditions that I was pretty clueless too as someone who hadn’t filmed hockey my freshman year.  I hadn’t gone out afterwards for pizza (this was before Denny’s was popular, though I didn’t do that either) and it was very convenient for me to volunteer to stay back and straighten up the equipment while others went out or headed back to a party in someone’s apartment.  I hadn’t done anything important or worth celebrating operating lame-duck cam, so I might as well take a few minutes to restore some self-pride by straightening up some cables.

In the back of my mind I kept hoping for a non-hockey opportunity to do something exciting and it kept not coming.  Partially because hockey had already trumped everything in the priority queue and partially because I’m not good at finding exciting things to do.  At the time my experience was producing daily news in a studio setting, neither of which RPI had (news, or a studio).

When my car became less relevant Junior year so did I.  There was no longer reason for me to be senior chauffeur, my sole purpose if I wanted to have one, at a hockey event would be to operate the lame duck cam and pretend anyone cared.  As you can guess, I ceased and desisted just about any hockey involvement that didn’t involve pleading for extra help first (aka there was once a holiday weekend before break or something).  I don’t know if I would have been any good at anything else, but the fact is that no one else was interested in finding that out.  Everyone had, my freshman year, established pretty solid roles that didn’t have any good place for me.  These things happen, I’m not as upset over it as you probably think.

More troubling, was the shift I felt I felt in the club from a group who filmed hockey for a few weeks a year among a plethora of other productions to a hockey-filming club that warmed up a few times before and after the hockey season to break in new people, equipment, etc.  As this spilled over into things like budgeting and long term planning, decisions weren’t made what would be the best solution to a generic need the club had or what tool is blocking members from trying a different production style to what do we need to make our hockey productions better.  Anything else was secondary at best (and humorously football was secondary, which looks a lot like hockey if you view it from the a color and depth-blind birds-eye view).  It didn’t matter that I wanted access to a studio, or that a camera was too large to be practical for a single camera shoot, hockey didn’t need a studio and you had N people to help move and setup gear for hockey.  If you weren’t replicating the hockey setup at non-hockey events people thought you were weird or bound to make a mistake just because that was the way everything had been done previously; all because a few guys happened to enjoy watching hockey.

All in all, I had fun in RPI TV.  I’m not sure what I would have done differently in my involvement.  I ended up directing / using the switcher for a total of 4(?) productions, 2 of which never ended up being recorded; some cultural show that no one wanted anything to do with and the GM Debates which were mildly interesting events but nightmares for other reasons (t’was busy season).  I went out with club members a grand total of once to Denny’s after a production during my 5 years at RPI.  I didn’t run for President of the club partially because I didn’t like hockey enough, and I don’t know I would have had any luck securing a VP position if I’d tried for similar reasons.  I suspect I won’t go down in the history books, but until someone wipes my database entries I’ll be that guy who filmed a whole lot of senate meetings that no body cared about; I’ll have to be ok with that.  My other contributions will likely have been overwritten by more exciting and hockey-centric ones.

As the Chief Mate once described things, a more adequate name may for the group may have been “RPI Sports Sports”.

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September 25th, 2012 Posted in Life, Problems | No Comments »

One of my recent worries is that I’ve ridden my usually road/mountain bike onto one of those stationary trainers, putting a significant damper on the ground I’ve covered in recent weeks and months.  I know that I’m still riding the bike, as I can continue to count the lines of code I write and the hours of sleep I don’t get as a result of it, but I’m worried that I’m no longer traveling in any direction, never mind new directions.. I’m just facing a direction.  It feels like I’m peddling more for the sake of peddling than to actually make progress like I’m used to.

I think the most worrying part isn’t actually the fact that I don’t feel like I’m moving anywhere, but instead that the actions I need to perform to return to making progress and moving are completely out of band.  I have to stop riding, get off the bike, and physically move it off the stationary trainer.  I know, that’s all rather simple to do, but then you have to get back on and get back in the groove of riding again.  It might be preferable to peddle through wet cement, I’d at least be moving (albeit slowly) and also have something fairly exciting to say at the end of it or a great reason if I had to give up.

Riding on a stationary trainer does give me something to say, technically speaking it tracks tons of stuff like my total mileage, the average speed I travel, the total time I’ve been riding and all this other potentially useful stuff, but I don’t think that information is nearly as useful as talking about where peddling has taken me and what it’s let me see along the way.  I can report day after day that I’ve been starring at the same wall, but no one really wants to hear that.  The statistics I’ve gathered are purely useful if I was trying to beat some record or achieve a super quantitative goal, and no one likes to measure their life by that.

Good night moon.

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August 16th, 2012 Posted in Life, Work | No Comments »

Tonight’s platform has given me some of my best work to date, for old time’s sake let us hope is still has what it takes.

This trip to the home front seems to be plagued by a different feeling than most.  In past I’ve been primarily relieved to be home and relaxed to be back in familiar territory.  Those feelings are still present, but occupying a secondary (or tertiary) seat these days.  Of many thoughts and feelings, one of my primary concerns seems to be doubt if I’ve enlisted in the right service.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt that we’re fighting the good fight and serving a good cause.  I also have full confidence in my commanding officer and those up the ranks.  I suspect what has me feeling a uneasy is the lack of camaraderie resulting from the fact that I’m the only one in my unit in my position.  I don’t mind my responsibility at all, it’s fairly rewarding on personal and professional levels, but I’m left feeling less like an appreciated specialist and more like the guy in charge of operating the radio because no one else was ambitious enough to figure out how.

I can’t help but look to my buddies from training school who got assigned to tank crews where they work together closely (perhaps too closely for their liking) with the rest of their four man team.  I certainly don’t have a desire to be packed in a turret basket with three other guys, but I suspect they enjoy the fact that if they’re having a bad day there is someone their who readily notices and can help out if necessary.  More importantly, they can call you out when you’re doing something wrong.  The specialization of my current assignment doesn’t bother me, but the feeling of often being the lone man out does.

Thinking back, I miss the days in training school where all of us in the platoon would have to (and could easily) work together to get things done.  Everyone developed a pretty good understanding of the specific tasks best suited for each other, and the hand-off from one person to another was seamless and natural.  These days any hand off attempt feels less like an assembly line and more like a mess hall cafeteria.  With a position near the end of the line, I’m serving something particularly tasty, the trays will already be filled by the time I get here and folks aren’t interested.

The logical thing to do might be to talk to my CO about this.  I’ve considered it from time to time, but we tend to get caught up debriefing firefights when we talk.  Some improvement needed here.

Being home during the summer season also means that everyone is out doing summer activities.  In past I’ve coped with the fact that everyone is out and about by submerging myself in work (a technique I use to cope with just about anything).  There is still a plentiful amount of work I could submerge myself in, it’s just logistically more challenging to do so now that I’m working a more proper job.  During my summers developing open source code I felt quite comfortable working on a variety of different open source projects during the day depending on who needed help, what was broken, and what I planned to get done.  Currently my job provides me with some flexibility to do that, but I start to feel guilty if I don’t get back to my fairly specialized role because I can’t currently rely on others to keep up while I’m off tackling an unrelated problem.

I’m hardly keeping any sort of quantitative measurements, but it feels like the less logistical it is for me to participate in something the more likely I am to get invited to it.  Actually, that’s probably not true, though it does feel that way sometimes.  The more logical explanation is that I happen to be deployed further away now and the timing just coincides with people having more active social lives now that we’re not longer in training school.

Good night moon.

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