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Third World Problems

Random thought of the day:

Earth is the third planet from the Sun. Therefore, we all live in the third world. First world problems would be having no atmosphere and burning alive.

#astronomyjokes #excusetogetbackintoblogging

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The Higher Beings

I just uploaded my latest video, Electress vs. Plasmar. If you’re willing, I wouldn’t mind bothering you with a little background on it, and perhaps even a little look to the future it brings.

Last Summer, Ari and I were sitting around at my apartment with too little to do. I’d been wanting to make a video, so I asked if she’d like to help me write one.

We quickly brainstormed a scenario, then sat down and wrote it. All of it. The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than an hour and a half. We just started hammering and didn’t stop until we were done.

I thought about the effects it would require throughout, and was reasonably sure I could manage all of it just with Adobe Premiere Elements, but we decided to do a quick test to make sure it was feasible. You can see said test here if you’re interested (I only recently made it publicly available).

The video idea was unlike anything I’d made before. I’d certainly imagined a few science fiction ideas in my time, but I’ve written very few, and so far have only made one actual script that I planned on making into a short film (that one is beyond my means right now, but it is almost certainly going to be made eventually).

As such, Electress vs. Plasmar was a pretty exciting prospect for me. We ended up filming it in one day a few weeks later, and I quickly set to work editing it.

That’s when the technical difficulties began. First, the footage didn’t play very well on my computer because of the camera’s high resolution and level of compression. My solution was to render each clip out as a small-resolution version to work with and a high-res version to switch it out for later.

Not only did that take forever, but after editing about 2/3 of the film, I tried it again only to find out that it didn’t work.

Shortly after that, my external hard drive enclosure failed. I took the drive out and tested it in my brother’s computer, and I could use it just fine there, but the enclosure itself was toast.

Facing a difficult time financially and being in the midst of one of my busiest semesters of college, I put off buying a replacement. I still had the footage on my laptop, but it just wasn’t fast enough to edit well (or quickly). I had discovered that I could install Adobe Premiere Elements on the lab computers on campus and edit there quite well, but without the time and external drive to transport it, it wasn’t going to happen.

The semester ended, a new year came, I got married, and things settled down somewhat financially. By the way, the getting married part was not as sudden as the last sentence may have made it sound.

I finally bought a new external enclosure in February, and immediately got to work editing. I abandoned the different-resolutions idea and edited using the originals. I still had the effects presets, and was able to get a pretty good rough cut together in just a few weeks off occasional editing.

I got busy making less ambitious videos, which impeded my progress a little, but it was good to do and have videos released more frequently. Then, finally, I made the finishing touches on Electress vs. Plasmar and hit Export for the last time. Uploading took a great deal longer than I would have liked, but hey, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to how long it took to get it together.

I do plan on making a few sequels to Electress vs. Plasmar. I have a firm idea for three more, and I’ve written about half of the script for the next one. New characters will be introduced, and I think the naming of each one will correspond to the characters at play (Plasmar vs. Particon is the next one), and the powers of each character will play a more central role. There will also be slightly less banter than this first one, though it will vary.

It’s been a long road getting here, and I promise that it will be far less time until the next one! Without further ado, I present: Electress vs. Plasmar!

There are a few things that I would have benefited from knowing as a wee freshman Pride Bandsman, some of which I learned later on my own, some of which I was taught by someone else. I feel it would be prudent to share with the 15+ new trumpet players in the Pride Band, as well as the other new members of the band at large, some of the more helpful and important things to know starting out.

Things about Pride

1. Just go with it. Plans change, and directing 300+ people with instruments and full uniform to stop what they’re doing and do something else doesn’t always happen instantaneously (or well). Information gets lost in the chain of command, things happen you don’t expect, etc. Don’t fret. Just go with it.

2. There will be rain. Keep a plastic ziploc back in your instrument case (or pocket) for those days when rain takes us by surprise. At least 8 people lost phones to water damage last year in Pride.

3. Bundle up. Not during band camp, mind you, but after August is over, the weather has no guarantees. For those of you who won’t be visiting home for a while, bring some cold-weather clothes with you on the FIRST trip.

4. Go to the section activities. This is rarely an issue, but there are always one or two who neglect some of the section activities during band camp… and they tend to be the people who don’t come back for a second helping of Pride. If you don’t make friends in your section, you will spend 8 hours a week with people you don’t like. Don’t let it happen.

5. Act like a freshman, by which I mean don’t act like you’re smarter, more experienced, or more well-informed than upperclassmen. This is, thankfully, also rather uncommon.

6. Do something else, too. Pride is great, and if it’s the only thing you do for fun, you’re not alone, and you’ll still have fun. However, it’s enriching to have something else going on, even if it’s with people who are also in band.

7. Bring your own dang valve oil. Stinkin’ moochers.
However, if you forget it, I will always have some.

Things about being in college (at MSU)

8. Virginity is cooler than Hollywood might have led you to believe. I have never, in all my college years, been put down because of it. It rarely even comes up, to be honest.

9. It’s okay to be a Republican. Your professors will try their very best to make you think that Republicans are all greedy, gun-toting cowboys who spit upon civil rights and privacy, but in reality, most of us really aren’t like that. If I assumed entire parties were like their most vocal constituents, I’d probably assume all liberals were gay.

10. Balance. I’ve heard it said that in college, you can have two out of these three: sleep, social life, and good grades. The one to which I most commonly see other people give the short stick is sleep, though I’ve avoided that myself. Don’t make a habit of shirking any one of them, but rather change it up every few days.

Things about living in Springfield

11. Walk or bike places. There’s a grocery store and a half*, two theaters, a number of college-budget-friendly restaurants, pizza joints out the wazoo, and most other things you need – all within a mile of campus. Don’t give up that perfect spot in the Hutchens parking lot because you wanted to save 5 minutes getting toilet paper.

12. Ride your bike correctly. Riding correctly is simple: just behave the same as a car. Ride in the lanes, stop at stop signs/lights, use left-turn lanes, and for the love of all that is sacred, DO NOT RIDE ON THE SIDEWALK! Check out this video to get a better sense of how to ride a bike in an urban setting.
Also, this blog about biking (written by one of MSU’s own professors) is always a good read.

13. The drivers aren’t worse than everywhere else. You’ll hear it frequently: “$&!# Springfield drivers! They’re the worst!” I’ve learned that they say the same thing everywhere else about their region/city, so try not to blame the greater Springfieldness for a few bad apples.

14. Cherry St. doubles as a river. A few other streets do this to a degree, as well, but Cherry is especially bad. If you have to cross it on a rainy day, bring a kayak (or, if you forgot to bring your kayak to college, just wear rain boots).

15. PARKS. Springfield approved a 1/4 cent tax ten years ago to help acquire and develop more land for parks, and today, there are a number of great parks both close to and far from campus… and they’re all free! A few to know:
Jordan Valley Park – Just north of campus, has fountains to play in
Phelps Grove Park – Just south of campus, and a whole lot bigger than Jordan Valley
Nathaniel Greene-Close Memorial Park – Remember how I said Phelps Grove was big? It’s a postage stamp in comparison to this behemoth. While it’s a ways from campus, it’s only a 10-15 minute drive, or a 30-ish minute bike ride, most of which is along the S Creek Greenway Trail.
And many more.

While this isn’t everything you need to know, I’m confident that you’ll learn the other 90 bajillion things without me cluing you in.

Pride Band from the stands

*Walgreen’s is the other half