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Round Pegs in Square Holes

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Thursday - Midnight

Lately, for some unknown reason (caffeine) I have been staying up late. Too late. Oddly, after stumbling to bed around 1am I manage to wake at 6am, hit the snooze bar exactly 4 times, allowing my body to wake up on its own schedule, and still get to work at a reasonable time. A cup of extra bold from the K-Cup machine, a bowl of bran flakes (watch enough colon cancer videos and you'll tolerate the woody texture), and hit the road to the office.

Usually the last thing I do before bed, after my continuing search for the "end of the internet" is to check my work e-mail. This way I offload any of the unknown unknown worries until morning. Sometimes this check-in shows someone else's pending emergency, so I can be ready in the AM, or even fire off a quick note saying "no worries, we'll get it done" or whatever.

This particular evening, there were no such emergencies. Rather, just the knowledge that Friday was an easy few hours in the office then out on the road for a quick narration session.

Friday - The Wee Hours

Rusty, the Abyssinian, does laps around the pillows. Occasionally he puts his nose to mine, and gently taps my cheek with his paw. Cute. Meanwhile my dreams progress in the usual fashion. Namely, totally bizarro. I'm in high school, no wait, that's I'm at the hospital for a shoot...but it's the wrong hospital, I was given the wrong address...I go into the OR and it is my wife having surgery...but she's not sick...I turn the corner and there is my beloved Grandma Hilda...she doesn't seem to know that she is not alive, but that's okay, it is always good to run into her in my dreams...we chat often, it brings me peace and restful sleep.

And then, just past the lucky charms tree...BEEEP BEEEP BEEEP...THWACK! as I hit the snooze bar.

Friday - Wakey Time

I drift back to sleep, sometimes dreaming about whatever random thought was in my head, sometimes just tossing and body knows when it is ready to move into a non-prone position, and that time is not here yet....BEEEP BEEEP BEEEP - damn, another 9 minutes has gone by...KERTHUNK, take that snooze bar. Amazingly the GE clock radio I got for high school graduation is still ticking. That alarm has helped me get to dozens of classes, lectures, exams, shoots, weddings and funerals on time....more pseudo-sleep passes. BEEEP, you get the idea...Was that 3 snooze cycles or only two. To tell you the truth in all the tossing and turning I've lost track myself. It's either 6:18 or 6:27.

"All I ever wanted, all I ever needed, is my arms. Words are very, unnecessary, they can only do harm..." My wife's ring tone circa 1985 tells me it is 6:30, followed by "Mike, it's 6:30, you, calendar, view week...a shoot in the Bronx. Oh and when you get a chance, can you make me a coffee, and toast me a muffin, and feed the cats, and slice me an apple and mail that package by the door."

Yes, of course. Amazingly, I do all of these tasks, and get out of the house by 8am - no coffee today for me.

Usually, the first thing I do when I go downstairs to feed the boys (cats - you take what you can get) I grab the Blackberry and check for messages. This is a slippery slope, because like this particular day, things can get complicated. Before bed, I was content to know that the next morning I had only to do some quick edits to a video then get on the road. After the cursory message check, "not so" became the order of the day.

Emergency 1 - we need a location contract for a shoot in a few weeks. No worries, I will simply modify the last such document we had to create, get it approved by legal and off it goes - hopefully. But that is an additional task to complete before 10:30.

Emergency 2 - the CD-ROM interface sent out for approval is no right. Again, no worries, that's why you send out mockups before moving to programming.

Emergency 3 - help our intern finish a draft of a DVD, to hopefully send out. This is not really an emergency, but just something else to do. Give him a template for DVD case slipart, a label and show him how to troubleshoot the Encore DVD project and then burn an ISO.

With these things done, I still had to do those edits. Well, I know the material pretty well, and I can easily differentiate a gastrojejunostomy from a jejunojejunostomy, so all is good in the world again.

10:35 - 5 minutes behind schedule - damn.

Hit the camera room, make a quick mental checklist, then grab each item and place on the floor outside the door:

Shotgun mic
camera case
power supply
Sony Lav mic
2 25'XLR cables
microphone stand
small tripod with camera plate
orange extension cord and power strip (you never know what kind of room you are going to be in)
Laptop, mouse, power supply mousepad
Pen and paper

hmm, that seems like everythi....TAPES!

Ok, grab a small luggage cart, carry everything to the ION and get on the road. No time for gas, coffee or lunch, gotta be in NYC at 12:45.

Stopped in Danbury for gas, gas station coffee (I love that whipped hot chocolate/capuccino machine) and a couple of donuts form the drive-through donut kiosk, then back on the road.

84 to 684 to the Saw Mill. Windy road, hairpin turns, and the lady in front of me was either on the phone, doing her makeup or drinking coffee, because she kept hitting the curb and very nearly drove into the Saw Mill River in Chappaqua.

Got to my destination just in the nick of time. Get the gear, leave the keys with a man who claims to work in the garage, get the elevator and head inside.

Went to the conference room, setup my makeshift recording studio/editing suite (a laptop and microphone - but that sounds so lame!).

Shotgun mic gets the best sound in a noise room (uncontrollable HVAC, shut off plasma screen and any fans I can locate), plus a lav for backup. My job is to monitor what is being spoken, and make suggestions for re-reads, knowing what material I will need for the edit. Sorry I can't get into more detail on the content.

Once setup, got the material I needed, packed up, and reversed the process.

Only problem is, Friday + 5pm + Greater NY = Gridlock. After the split to the Hutch it cleared up a bit, but then the 684 interchange was busy. Smoother sailing until Brewster, then the Danbury gridlock from the NY border up to Newtown was a nightmare. I stopped at Trader Joe's(good food cheap) and Stew Leonard's(animatronic animals + groceries)
for some quality food, and to get out of the car for an hour.

Home finally around 7pm. Cook dinner (spicy orange chicken with stir fry veg and rice noodles), then sit down at the computer, not to relax yet, but to do two more tasks that didn't so much creep up earlier in the day, but that would never have fit into the schedule. Download 7 videos edited by a colleague, review them before sending the client a download link. Then download another video from another project, review that and send to the client.

Finally at 10:05 I can relax. Watch some HD videos on Vimeo (check out Philip Bloom's videos) then remember that I wanted to write a blog post before bed. And now it is 1:34am and I was wondering what I could possibly have to do late at night on the internet. Maybe I'll search for a video about fitting a round peg into a square hole. In other words, fitting more into a short period of time than there is actually time to do. Or at least trying.

Seems there are 217 results. None very interesting or relevant.

So now I will brush the pearly whites, hit the hay, and close my eyes, touch noses with Rusty, then see where my dreams take me, as this strange journey continues.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jun 19, 2009 at 10:00:33 pmComments (1) travel, workflow, audio


Trader Joe's, good food cheap?
by Ron Lindeboom
Wow, Mike, I can remember when indeed Trader Joe's had good food cheap but it seems lately they are presenting themselves as "the best quality for only a little more than everyone else." At least that is what it seems like here in Central California.

Once again, reading your blog convinces me that I lead a simple life compared to my friend Mikey in New York.


I have a passion for my job, which entails training for medical professionals such as surgeons, nurses and administrators, not to mention various industries.

Technology is great, but how you apply your skills is what pays the bills.

Years ago I canceled my Media 100 support contract upon discovering what a treasure trove of helpful advice can be found on the Creative COW website. I am proud to be a part of this fantastic community.

In my blog I talk a little about media production, a lot about travel and workflow, and occasionally about cooking, nature and my four-legged friends.

Follow me on Twitter: med_ed_mike

I'm also on LinkedIn if you can't get enough of me!


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