Monday, June 19, 2006

My Week (Long)

It’s been a busy week. The last time I wrote anything here was Wednesday, so I guess I should recap what happened last week, before I get into the weekend.

For our concerts, we don’t like having empty space between the songs. If I’m playing electric guitar for one song, and then need to switch to acoustic for the next—meaning that there is a slight pause between songs (or not so slight, depending on if I have to change settings on the amp, etc.)—we prefer to have something happen during that song change, for the audience to look at, so they’re not just sitting there, waiting for me. Since the theme for our concert was a 70’s-style game show, we decided to film some commercials, that would show during those pauses. We worked it out that there were two times when I would need to switch instruments between songs, and one other pause while the keyboardist needed to switch from piano to keyboard (or vice versa—I don’t remember which), meaning we needed three commercials.

We taped the commercials last Sunday, on a video camera lent to us by a friend of Andrea’s, and the taping went very well. But my computer at home doesn’t have the appropriate connections to hook up the camera, so we had to give the camera back to her, and get her to get all of the video off and burn it onto a DVD for us, so that we could then edit it back together. We brought the camera back to her on Monday evening, and they promised to drop the DVD off to Andrea at work on Tuesday.

If I remember correctly—I didn’t enter it in my calendar—we had to get up early Tuesday morning, because Andrea had to be at work early. Tuesday evening, after work, Andrea and I sat down in front of the computer, slid in the DVD, and nothing happened. When I looked more carefully at the disc, I saw the word “Andrea” carved across the DVD’s surface. It turns out that they had put the DVD into a sleeve, and then put that sleeve into an envelope, and then written Andrea’s name on the envelope. Somehow, through three separate layers of paper, when they wrote her name on the envelope, it actually scratched onto the surface of the DVD! So, in a panic, we called Andrea’s friend… actually, she’s not just Andrea’s friend anymore; she’s my friend too, I think. I’ll stop calling her “Andrea’s friend” from this point forward. As I was saying, we called our friend, in a panic, and told her what happened. She promised to burn another DVD for us, and we drove across the city to pick up the new one.

We got back home, DVD and supplies in hand, ready to start editing together our commercials. We popped the disc into the drive, only to find that it still didn’t work. We called her, again, in a panic, wondering if the problem was that she had burned the DVD from her iMac; maybe there were compatibility problems? But she told us that she didn’t burn it from her iMac, she used her PC. And then I looked more closely at the disc, and realized that it was DVD+R, not DVD-R. (Did you catch the difference there? It’s pretty subtle, I know.) There are compatibility problems with DVD+R; not every DVD drive will read them. (So if you have a DVD burner, and are planning on burning any DVDs, you should try and make sure you always use DVD-R, because it’s a much more widely adopted standard.)

So we gave up, and decided that I should stop by Future Shop Wednesday, and pick up a DVD drive, that would read DVD+R discs. So, after all that, we ended up getting to bed late, and still hadn’t accomplished anything.

Wednesday, as promised, I stopped by Future Shop during my lunch break, and bought a DVD burner. It seemed to understand every DVD and CD format under the sun, so I figured it would be safe. And it was—I got home Wednesday evening, popped it into the computer, and it read the DVD just fine. (30 minutes of video works out to about 3GB of drive space, if you’re curious.) So we spent Wednesday night editing together the commercials, using Windows Movie Maker (WMM). Once we got going, it was fairly easy to put the commercials together. (We’re planning on putting them online at some point, so I’ll probably link to them when we do.)

(As an aside, the DVD burner I bought came with a bunch of software from Nero, including a movie making program. It may or may not have been better than WMM, but I haven’t played with it yet. There were some minor features that WMM didn’t have, that it might have, although we were able to live without them.)

Thursday morning we had to get up much earlier than normal, because I had a seminar to attend downtown, that started at 8:30. Then Thursday evening we had to go to the church, to help decorate. Actually, Andrea helped decorate, and I re-strung my guitars. But halfway through, I realized that I had picked up the wrong kind of strings. (There are four kinds of strings that I buy, for my three guitars, and two out of those four changed the way they do their packaging. So I apparently mis-read the packages, when I was picking them up.) So I was able to restring two guitars, and had to leave the other one for later. We got home late Thursday night.

Friday night, there was a church business meeting and a choir practice at the same time. I went to the business meeting, and got out just in time to practice the very last song with the choir. Just enough to realize that the strings I was using were too light; meaning that, out of the two guitars I had re-strung the night before, only one was actually usable. We got home late Friday night.

Saturday was the day of the concert. We were supposed to have practice from 10:00–12:00, but it went a bit late. We then popped by the music store, so I could buy proper strings, and I spent much of the rest of the afternoon re-stringing the remaining guitars (which included the one which I’d put light strings on).

(As an aside, it doesn’t normally take too long to re-string a guitar; maybe 10 or 20 minutes. But one of the guitars I own is a double-neck, meaning that there are two guitars built into one (like the image on the right—which is, I believe, the same one I have). As shown, one of those guitars is a 12-string, instead of a 6-string, so there are 3 times as many strings to change as on a regular guitar. And, I have a handy tool for changing strings, as shown on the left, which is what makes the job so quick, but because of how close the necks are together, I can’t use it for some of the tuning pegs, and have to do it by hand. So, all told, instead of 10 or 20 minutes, it takes about 45–60.)

The concert Saturday night was great. I was a bit worried, because even up to the practice Saturday morning it was still a bit chaotic, but they pulled it together, and did a great job. (I say “they” because it’s really the singers who do most of the work. I didn’t even have any really difficult songs to play, so it was mostly a breeze for me. Also, I had a lot less acting to do than last year, so I didn’t have as many lines to memorize.) Afterward we went out with a friend we hadn’t seen in a while, so we got home late Saturday night as well.

Saturday night/Sunday morning, at 2:00AM, I got a call on my work cell phone, because I was needed to help with a deployment. I would love to rant and rave about this, because it was something that shouldn’t have happened, for various reasons, but it would involve writing about work, so I’ll leave it at that. Luckily, I was only needed for 15 minutes anyway.

Sunday morning we slept in a bit, because we were told that we could take the morning off from playing in the service, if we wanted. In the afternoon, we met up with some of Andrea’s family, and had a picnic in the park. We had a great time.

Later on in the afternoon, though, I got a call on my cell from my mom, because my grandfather had gone into the hospital. It was fairly serious, but she didn’t know how serious. She was on her way to the hospital to see him—it’s about an hour’s drive—and promised to call me back when she had more information. I told Andrea that I might need to drive down and see him, but when Mom called me back later, she told me that he was in emerg, but was somewhat stable, and that there was no need for me to drive down, yet. She called back around 11:00 or so, to let me know that he was out of emerg and in ICU, and was more stable. Which is actually where the situation stands now, so I may or may not still need/want to drive down and visit him.

And that’s how my week went. Which should explain why I haven’t written here or updated the serna Bible Blog since Wednesday.

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