Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Mr. F

i did pretty well in school and overall liked it. but as i've become an adult and faced the various duties

and challenges of life, i've mused on the disconnect between the two: in school, there are (usually) right answers and wrong answers, and there's a teacher to tell you if you got the right one or not. if not, they'll tell you what the correct answer is.

for much of life, it's not really like that. in fact, the more i learn about more things, the more it seems that right/wrong answers are rare. it used to seem that at least going to the doctor was a clear thing: i'm not feeling well, i go to the doctor, they tell me what's wrong with me and how to fix it, i get better and the doctor gets an "A" for that visit. and while much of medicine does work that way (that's the whole point of study and education, to learn how to solve and cure ailments), there's also a reason why second opinions are important, especially in more advanced cases.

i'm not a doctor, so i won't spend any more time questioning those who went to med school, but will bring it back to what i know about. and this is where it's hard for me, because i'm used to being the A student (and, in later years, the A- minus student. by the time i was in grad school, i was completely content with being the B student.) but i don't get grades on my cinematography or my editing. at best, my client and boss are happy with the work i did, but that's not the same as getting a 100% at the top of the paper. and there are two dangers with getting an A: first, it implied that you've reached the pinnacle, that there's nowhere to go from here. and second, because you've reach the top, why try harder? with the A+, you're already the best there is. no one could be better than on that worksheet.

i was thinking about this a few months ago as i was shooting a series of interviews in our studio. for much of the day, i was lighting and setting things up under the hope that my boss would like it. i was worried that he wouldn't, and if he did, well then that was all that mattered, right?
well, two things were happening when i was doing this:  i was slightly stressed as i was trying to find the "right" lighting and, because of that, i was trying to hit a finite mark. as long as my boss said it was good, that was what i wanted.

that evening i was thinking about that and realized that i should approach this from a different way. rather than be asking myself "is this shot good? now is it good?", i should be thinking, "ok, that was a good shot, how can i make this next one better? i've done this before, so how i can try something new, or approach this in a new way?" and i should add here that that is precisely the mindset my boss does have and encourages that mentality at the company. so this pressure that i've been feeling is purely self-administered.

and it seems that i'm not the only one questioning this. that evening my dad was in town and we took him up to look at the fall colors on the mesa. during the drive up, janelle told us how there is a shift in education towards growth-based learning, where kids do more projects and are encouraged to challenge themselves, rather than everyone being asked to answer the same questions. so rather than a subject being very easy for some and very difficult for others, the hope is that students will be progressing for where they are, regardless of where they currently are. this also helps them move away from the "that's right/that's wrong" mentality and to understand that setbacks and even failure are not, heck, not failures, but are part of the growth process.

there's a scene early in "seven samurai" where the master swordsman, kyuzo, is introduced. he is described as someone who is obsessed only with testing the limits of his own skill (or something like that.) no question of "good or no good," just "and how can i be better?" and as i've thought about this, i realized that i was doing this somewhat at my student job at a&m, where i was the senior videographer. i more or less taught myself everything i learned there (at least about creating a shot), and, with no one to really tell me how to be better (and they were nearly always happy with my work, even when i wasn't), i would often spend time looking over my shots and trying to figure out how i could do the next ones better. but part of why i left that job was because i didn't have anyone to challenge me or help lift me up to the next level.

and that's where i'm at. i'm trying to adapt myself to that new way of looking at my work (and this really applies to all aspects of life, including relationships, which hadn't occurred to me until just now.)
and i've been given lots of opportunities recently to do just that at work. i've been editing footage that i shot (which is a GREAT way for a cinematographer to learn what shots work and where to improve) and also working on a commercial that i directed. it turned out fine and the client is happy with it, but during production and in post, i've created a mental list of things i wish i'd done, ways i could've prepared more, and what i want to try next time.

good, better, and... more better, right?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


November 8 at 10:31am · Grand Junction ·
holding off posting that i voted until i can get my facebook app to again give me the option of joining in the "i voted" activity.

November 8 at 12:21pm · 
remember in 2004 when the meanest things got was that jibjab video of bush and kerry?

November 8 at 5:32pm · Grand Junction ·
i really do love that in my office of seven people, there are votes for at least five different presidential candidates.

November 8 at 8:51pm · Grand Junction ·
i suspect the new outlets are announcing the states that trump has won earlier in the evening to keep the suspense (and ratings) up. least i hope so, because this is the first time during this whole campaign that i've actually been nervous.

November 8 at 9:52pm · Grand Junction ·
a month or two ago a friend of mine said that he thought there were a lot of people who wanted to vote for trump but were afraid to admit it.
i thought that was a silly idea.

November 8 at 10:15pm · Grand Junction ·
watching the results and hearing how many counties that voted for obama now voted for trump shows how much people REALLY don't like hilary.

November 8 at 10:46pm · Grand Junction ·
i feel like i want to watch "dr. strangelove" this weekend...

November 8 at 10:56pm ·
sometimes it's helpful to laugh...

November 8 at 11:22pm · Grand Junction ·
janelle pointed out that "back to the future part 2" ended up predicting not only the cubbies but also donald trump/biff tannen.

November 8 at 11:57pm · Grand Junction ·
anyone watching that colbert thing on showtime?
any good?

November 9 at 1:09am · Grand Junction ·
y'all can give me crap for saying this, but trump's victory speech was better (more humble and more gracious) than i was expecting.
(although that's not the time nor the crowd to close with "you can't always get what you want." all those people there got exactly what they wanted.)

November 9 at 6:11am · Grand Junction ·
oh man, you guys, i had the craziest nightmare last night...

November 9 at 7:41am · Grand Junction ·
the sun still came up this morning.
i think things will be ok.

it's been over two years since i last hit the "new post" button and have been wanting to get back to writing for a while, and last tuesday was the kickstart i needed.

i wanted to write last wednesday, to record to my feelings in the moment, because this feels like one of the most notable events in the country's history since 9/11 in terms of an unexpected event that surprised almost everyone. although while that really unified us, this feels to have divided us sharply.

election nights are usually safely boring. it was cool that obama won in 2008 (he was inspiring and exciting, mccain seemed like a stuffy old man, and the thought of sarah palin being vp was scary), and i figured obama would beat romney in 2012 (and even though i voted for mitt, i liked both of them.) and last tuesday janelle and i (and a lot of the country) thought we'd clearly watch hillary clinton become the first female president and we'd turn it off and get ready for bed around 9:30.

instead, janelle and i checked the results shortly before going to the grocery store around 8:30 and were surprised that the early reporting states were favoring trump. as i said on facebook, i suspected that the news outlets were holding back announcing the blue clinton states to create some suspense, although for the first time during the whole election season, i was a little nervous.

but there just wasn't any real chance of this happening. sure, it went from funny to weird as he kept winning the primaries, and him actually getting the nomination was uncomfortable. the republican convention was looking crazier each day and i felt like the republican party was collapsing in on itself and become so far from what most americans wanted. i wondered if there'd be a new major party emerging within a few election cycles.

nope. the republicans control the house, the senate, and the presidency, and the head of the republican party has recently been named the chief of staff.
i can't bring myself to say that the republicans are doing fine, but they've got plenty of power.

i suppose it's probably best that the results aren't revealed all at once, like the winner of america's funniest home videos, but are tallied state by state. it softened the blow for all of us, with this gradual realization that, holy crap, this is happening. he's winning.

either monday or tuesday morning, the new york times gave hillary a 73% chance of winning. a few months ago i read an article looking at the stats and showing that trump would have to win all five key swing states in order to win, and that just wasn't very likely. and as i just looked through my large collection of bookmarked links to unsuccessfully find that article, i saw that most of the articles i've saved had the tone of "there's no chance." and these aren't sites with a hard leftist slant, but mainstream news outlets like the new york times, the washington post, and fivethirtyeight.

yet while the news came gradually, it was never really a contest. except for perhaps early in the evening before i started watching, trump was always ahead and the lead just increased. the news reporting teams (i ended up settling on whichever one george stephanopolous works with) tried to remain neutral but were visibly as surprised as they knew their viewership was.

again, for my own record or as a record of the moment for my future children, this was never supposed to happen, in part because there's never been anything this crazy. in 2012, when newt gingrich was briefly ahead as the republican nominee, i got an icky feeling because he seemed about as slimy as they come, but compared to trump, i would've had no problem with gingrich. for all the elections that i can remember-- bush v. dukakis in '88, bush v. clinton (v. perot) in '92, clinton v. dole in '96, bush v. gore in '00 (i was in japan, so didn't really follow that fiasco), bush v. kerry in '04, obama v. mccain in '08, and obama v. romney in '12 --there's usually been one guy i like more than the other, but i was never seriously worried scared terrified about one of them being the president and the things they might do. sure, maybe i didn't agree with some policies, but whatever. that's politics.

but this has been different. and when i asked my dad if he'd ever seen anything like this--where someone who openly and blatantly seemed unqualified, unprepared, and dangerously unfit to be president was a serious contender--he didn't have a time, either.

and that guy won.

despite needing to get up early in the morning, janelle stayed up with me until around 11:30, when she finally had to go to bed. but i wanted to stay up until the very end for this historic night (although a much different feeling than the historic night when president obama won.)

we saw footage of the hq where the clinton supporters had gathered, where people were still waiting but in a much more somber mood than they'd been expecting. the stage platform was transparent (glass?) in the shape of the united states, although the podium was empty. the news reporter said that there was a glass ceiling above the stage as part of a victory celebration that would not be broken that night.

i stayed up until 1:30 a.m. and watched donald trump give his victory acceptance speech in what seemed to be a (surprisingly) moderately decorated hotel ballroom (mom and dad were out in nyc for dad to run the marathon and left that monday morning; mom said that they were in the hilton, which she was told was the hq for trump celebration that night.)

posted this on facebook the next morning. sad to find out that
any sort of optimism was too much for some people.
he said that he'd gotten off the phone with hillary who conceded the race to him (and what was no doubt the hardest phone call of her life) and the (surprisingly) complimented her being an amazing person and running a difficult and impressive campaign. and then he talked about how it was time to get to work healing and unifying the country after all of this.
i don't remember the rest of the details (and i'm sure they're available somewhere, like here), but it wasn't nearly as bad as i'd expected. in fact, it was almost kind of good.

and i went to bed that night with a really weird feeling. it all just seemed so unreal. and thinking about the reality of it all, what it would mean and what would come was too much.