After months of a restructuring study, it can’t be good to find yourself scheduled for a meeting with your VP at 8:15 am on the first day back after a holiday weekend. Ascending in the elevator, the today’s-the-day atmosphere was palpable. I had a brief meeting with the VP and a lady from HR, and I am now retired as of the end of the month.
When asked what it is I do, I must admit I have a hard time summing up. My job (former job) has evolved over many years in a surprisingly fertile corporate ecosystem, the product of which was “interactive media”. Our shop developed world-class internal and external websites, had outstanding video production facilities and personnel; we produced around 40 live webcasts annually from a well-equipped in-house studio, hundreds of on-demand videos, tens of thousands of DVDs. A talented graphics staff produces print materials and carefully branded graphic and animation elements for web and video.
My role in this began as a video producer long ago, as pretty much a one-man-shop for training and public affairs videos for our coal mining division. Over several years I moved from the coal business to utility operating company to the corporate center. I managed the in-house corporate studio for several years from the U-Matic tape to Beta-SP days, and began using computer controlled editing and the fabled Video Toaster, and eventually began non-linear digital editing on the Immix VideoCube.
It was obvious that computers were the future of video production, and that formats, platforms, and standards would continually mutate; operating systems would ebb and flow in importance. As the department grew, I increasingly became the person dealing with file storage, hard drives, operating system and application issues, hardware compatibility, upgrade management, servers, and networks. I bid content a fond farewell and embraced codecs, compression, archives, and workflow automation. I deployed video across our corporate intranet with Real then WinMedia then QuickTime, and, as soon as it supported multicast, H.264 with Flash Media Server. I set up digital asset management with Canto Cumulus, then Extensis Portfolio. Video assets were backed up with Retrospect, then as assets reached terabytes, on a Quantum tape library using Archiware Presstore. I looked after the Win Media servers, then QuickTime Servers, and when those retired, I set up Flash Media Server on a virtual Win Server 2008 box. The stupid fun of the whole thing is that whatever you do, it will be out of date shortly; the platform will change, a new architecture will emerge, or you just outgrow an application. I learned to edit with 16mm film; now I’m ready for H.265.
I’ve had a long commute since moving to the countryside with my wife in the 1990’s and have often reflected on the stupidity of driving that far to go to work. About a hundred miles a day! Fortunately Jean and I have been able to drive together since we both have worked downtown for most of that time. Anyway, in the idle moments, it occurred to me that I put on enough miles to drive to the moon, which I put at about 250,000 miles. (It’s less, Wikipedia says it averages 238,900 miles, but 250 thou is easier to work in your head.)
So if I drive 100 miles a day, about 250 days per year, that’s 25,000 miles a year. So in a mere 10 years, I get to the moon. I started the long commute in 1993 or so, so by 2003, I was at the moon, and suppose I’ve been driving back ever since. By the end of 2013, I’d be back in the Morrow County Spaceport. But I’m a bit short of that, and seem to have fallen the last few miles.
I got a treadmill for Christmas, that, yes, I asked for. So I’m trading one treadmill for another. I seem to put in about 2 or 3 miles a day on it, in this fairly brutal winter of 2013.
Perhaps some other celestial destination is in order. The Space Station is only about 250 miles…I could be there in a few months!