Posts tagged “life”.

Video Project, Phase 3

Last year, June 2009 to be more precise, I contracted imemories to digitize some old 8mm film that I had saved from my parents. It was pretty expensive, but I didn’t have a lot to do. I figured I’d break the job up into smaller bits and spread the cost over a few years. I’m glad I got part of it done before my father passed away this summer. I think that motivated me to make sure all of the video I’ve taken over the years was safe.

So back in March of 2010 I started a project to ‘recover’ all my home video. I could have used imemories to do this also, but I had so much video, it wasn’t cost effective to pay someone else to do the conversion work. It would have been tens of thousands of dollars for them to do it. And sure most of the tedious, boring, busy-work would have been farmed out; but, I’d still be stuck doing the hard work of categorizing and editing the video. It just wasn’t a cost effective solution. Plus, I had almost everything I needed. My old Video8 VHS camcorder still worked. I had a way to capture and digitize the analog footage. I just needed to pick up a miniDV camcorder that was in working condition to digitize the close to fifty hours of miniDV footage I had. Thank goodness for Craig’s List! I found a working camera for $80 and after about a month of working, I completed Phase 1 of the project — getting everything onto a hard drive.

Thinking this through, phase 2 might still be uncompleted. Phase 2 consisted of getting everything into an iMovie format ready for archival and editing. I migrated computers and think I may have several dozen hours of Video8 footage in EyeTV format. If that’s the case, I’ll figure it out after Phase 4, which will be the accounting and audit phase to make sure I didn’t miss anything. If I missed anything, Phase 5 will be to do whatever it takes to finish the project. I do mean, “Whatever it takes!”

So, I find myself here, in phase 3 — “Compression and Archival”. Since I started this whole process, I learned that iMovie saves my HDTV footage from my newest camcorders in Apple Intermediary Codec format. This is the native format that iMovie uses for editing. My understanding is that it’s a lossless codec and takes up 50% of the space that DV encoded events do. With this new knowledge, I am in the process of re-encoding all my DV footage to be this newly discovered native apple format. Afterwards, I plan on encoding each event as a .mov and .m4v file, then archive it onto optical medium (DVD +R DL).

I just started this last week. So far, I’m working on my third event. I think I could do an event a day: it takes about four hours to encode both formats and two hours to burn it to disc with verification for each hour long event… some events are two hours long. It takes ten minutes to set it up to start, two minutes to export to the 2nd format after one two hour conversion, then ten more minutes to set up the disc burning. So, about twenty two minutes of real computer work per day of waiting. Taking into consideration the lack of efficiency on my part, and the inevitable hurdles I’ll come across, let’s say I can complete five events a week. At around a hundred and twenty hours of events I’m looking at approximately four months of work for this phase. The product will be a DVD library of cataloged, home, video footage in neat little DVD cases with covers and explanations of what is contained within.

Wow, sounds a bit OCD, doesn’t it? Well, you know what they say… if the skin fits… wash it! They don’t really say that… it was my attempt at OCD-humor. Forget it. OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is sometimes epitomized by the frequent washing of one’s hands — it’s also epitomized by the compulsive need to explain failed humor, inform and enlighten others, and generally drone on for hours, blogging crap no one will ever read. But I digress.

“So what,” you say? So, I started another phase of this monumental task. I do it for me, to keep track of time, but, mostly to show that if you break it up into small enough pieces, no matter how big the task is you can tackle it.

How’s that for a blog entry really about nothing pulling a moral and life lesson out of nowhere! I think what I just did needs a name. If we were playing hockey, it would be comparable to a hat-trick, so let’s call it a head-trick!

A sad summer…

Not that I think anyone reads this, but if there is a person out there that does, or if years from now when I’m suffering from Alzheimer’s I need an overt reminder, last year I had a really bad week. My Dad went into ICU and was eventually diagnosed with MDS, a form of Leukemia. So, from that week in September, till July 4th, my Dad fought his disease. On July 4th, 2010, he succumbed to pneumonia.

I saw my dad just weeks before when I took a few extra days off to visit him on my way to Michigan for the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. It was only 600 miles out of my way and only an extra day of vacation from work to visit for three days. At work we were (and sadly still are) navigating a huge merger and unfortunately the pressure there on top of everything else prohibited me from spending more time with my father during his last days on Earth. It saddens me, but I take comfort in the simple phrases, “That’s life,” and “You have to do what you have to do.” They were phrases I heard from him often. He missed a lot of my childhood too. Not that I blame him. He was doing what he had to do to keep a family afloat, although, sometimes against his will, but all that is water under a very old, very distant bridge. I was doing what I had to do. I keep telling myself that. And I know that he understood.

I’m the kind of adult to make myself a big bowl of ice cream before dinner and when my kids complain I reply, “It’s good to be an adult!” Now I feel quite the opposite. Being a responsible adult, I was compelled by cynical, rational, dependable, logical thought to do what I had to do instead of doing what I wanted to do. Although, maybe to be fair I cowardly hid behind my responsibilities to avoid mental anguish and heartbreak? It was so difficult being with my father the last two or three times I visited him. Each time it tore a hole in my heart. I can honestly reflect and see that I did take comfort in my responsibilities and felt a little like they were excuses to avoid my obligations to my father. If I were to grade myself, I’d give myself a B+, I did a good job, but I could have done so much better.

And since my last post, I’ve been in a really bad place all summer long… last spring… last winter, and all of last fall. Life is just starting to feel like it’s beginning to return to normal. I know I’m still grieving. I also know that I won’t know when I stop. It’s not like you can put a date and a time stamp on the end of the process.

If someone sees this writing, far in the future when technology allows time travel into the past, please do me a favor, visit Mike Esposito at the Barry Tepp Company in Metuchen, NJ, USA at 11 Lenard Street, (Latitude 40.547102, Longitude -74.372678) some time between 1973 and 1974 and give this message to him, “Your son Andrew has sent a message through time. He loved you with all his heart and missed you terribly. He knew everything you’ve done in your life, all your secrets were revealed, and he forgave you and loved you unconditionally until the end.” That would be nice and shouldn’t mess up the time line any, he came to know that. It would just be nice if he knew it sooner.

Dad at the NJ Aquarium, Aug 2008

Towel Day, May 25th – Did I miss it? Again!

I just stumbled upon a reference to Towel Day this morning on the web and felt a little saddened that I missed being able to salute Douglas Adams in a positively silly way. Then I checked the calendar. Towel day was two days ago, May 25th, not yesterday. I remembered what I was doing that day, it was very easy, I was driving from NJ to MI — six hours through PA on route 80… not even I could forget that. The greatest thing? I had my towel with me that day!

Not only did I just happen to have a towel with me in the car, but I NEEDED it too. I was wearing shorts in the car. After a few hours driving west in the southern sun, my left leg started to hurt from a sunburn I could feel starting. So, I opened my center console of my car and pulled out a towel! I wrapped it around my leg, in pure, unprompted Hitchhiker fashion, and drove on.

Not only did I have that towel handy, but I had two other towels that were just laying around, handy if they were needed, because it is what all travelers, hitchhikers and road-tripers alike, need.

I feel so much better that even though I may have consciously missed celebrating Towel Day, I happened to have lived it that particular day and, as every Galaxy Hitchhiker knows, I’m going to keep my towel close by at all times.

Southern Snow Shoveling

Special Thanks to my brother Donald for the Snow Shovel. ;-)

Crash Test Dummy

Crash Test Dummy

I must recant.  In my previous post I stated, “No injuries.  I don’t even think you could fake one either.  My airbag didn’t even deploy.” Wow!  Was I incorrect in that assessment.

After the accident I felt fine.  100%.    Nothing wrong at all.  At least that’s what I thought.  I must have been so hyped on a natural high, adrenalized as it were, that I didn’t realize exactly what happened to me.

So it went like this.  BOOM!  My car is knocked SIDEWAYS.  My head snaps to my right shoulder.  My hands leave the steering wheel and slide right, hitting the windshield wipers.  I see black for about a second or so — I’m not comfortable saying I “blacked out” since I was aware that I lost my vision.  My car turned itself off, I drive a manual, and I’m sure my foot had to hit the brake, which will stall out the engine.  I got my bearings, which was another second or two.  Jumped out, and made sure everyone was OK.

The rest of the story is in my previous post.  Long wait, police officer, shouting, tickets, drugs, chest X-ray, home…

I played around on the Net that night.  Doing some Facebook stuff.  Making the last blog entry here.  I commented on Facebook, “4:30 a.m. and counting. I’m starting to feel physically ill.” I went to bed.  I had a horrible night.  Didn’t sleep much.  Was really uncomfortable, cold sweats, unsettled stomach, and at about 7:30 a.m. I sprang from bed to vomit uncontrollably for several minutes.  It wasn’t a pleasant experience.

I tried to sleep again afterwards.  I couldn’t get comfortable and I kept getting nauseous.  Then I correlated head movement to throwing up.  Move my head, puke my guts out.  Move my head, puke my guts out.  Now that I thought about it, my neck was really sore.  Put some ice on it.  A few phone calls to my Dr. and I made the decision to go to Urgent Care.  I should say I made the decision to go to Urgent Care too late.  At this point it felt like I had seriously injured my neck.  The pain was so intense, I would have sworn I had just fractured a vertebrae.  I couldn’t sit up.  I rolled a T-shirt under my neck for support, put my feet up on the wall, and had my wife dial 911.  I needed a ride to the ER.

The first responders were awesome.  Funny bunch of guys.  Good guys.  I apologized.  I really thought this was a bit much for what happened, but I really couldn’t sit up.  They stabilized my neck after I insisted that it was the worst of my trouble.  They were pretty convinced I just had a really bad flu.

The ambulance ride was rough.  Upon arriving in the ER I filled a bed pan for them — so I didn’t feel that much like a faker.  I was very dehydrated, in an increasing amount of pain, suffering from vertigo, nausea and really feeling downright shitty.  I told the Dr. about everything, my bronchitis, the tiny fender bender I had yesterday, and he said, “It’s not the drugs you started taking last night.  It’s the accident that did this.  We need to make sure you didn’t really twist and hurt your neck.”  So, I got a CAT scan and an X-ray of my neck, all negative, and the Dr. concluded that it was muscle spasms and soft tissue injuries.  Some Demerol, Torodol and some anti-nausea medicine made me feel much better, really quickly.  I like how fast intravenous medications can affect you.

Several prescriptions later and I was discharged.  I was in complete disbelief that such a small fender bender could twist someone up so badly.  If the Dr. had called me a sissy and told me I was faking, I would have believed him.  I don’t know why I was so afraid of being called a faker… but I was.  It was nice to have someone believe, even when I didn’t, and offer relief.

A few days later, I was chatting with the insurance adjuster, and she commented that the Crash Test Dummy’s you see on TV are only going 35 miles per hour when they crash.

So, I was wrong.  I hope everyone else in that other car didn’t feel as bad as I did a day after the accident.  No matter how rude or obnoxious the other driver was, no one deserves to have pain like that.

And did I mention, her Insurance is picking up everything?  Rental car too while my car is in the shop.  So, I don’t even have to pay a deductible.  It’s officially her fault.  They’ll pick up the Doctor bills and probably give me $20 to boot for pain and suffering.

Still, it wasn’t worth it.