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Here I sit, sniffling and coughing, fighting off a cold I acquired while doing something cool. For the past 10 days I've put on my 'television production' hat and worked on a high school sporting tournament; but it's hard to really classify things as "television" any more -- this was a streaming event, so essentially dozens of channels, the overlapping rounds each broadcast separately and simultaneously, and all we had to do was keep it all on the air.

The label of Production Assistant, maybe I've said it before, pretty much means "do whatever would take the Skilled Technicians away from their work", so mostly it means getting coffee and food, standing someplace for some reason, and otherwise just being a go'fer.

For streaming video, I was in my natural element -- setting up networks and software and knowing what the different cables look like and what they do and knowing where to plug them in. There were the natural lulls where things were happening and nothing needed to be done, so I did get to sit in blissful relaxation for a little while, but otherwise there was work to be done. Fixing people clicking on the wrong thing. A network adapter suddenly goes bad. An extension cord needs to be guarded because people keep unplugging it.

Overall, I was really at the top of my game and got lots of compliments on my PA work; and while being a PA is usually an entry-level job and there's not a lot of skills needed to do a good job, I do try to make sure that I'm a valuable part of the team, and just that little effort goes a long way towards things going smoothly.

That is, until the last day: like someone at the bring of bowling a 300 game but hitting the gutter on the last throw, on the afternoon of the last day of the tournament I made a mistake. One with the real possibility of being fired over, and most of my effort went into not catastrophizing into a panic attack. I admitted my mistake, I took responsibility, I didn't try to make excuses, and I did get an angry lecture about being careful from my boss. In the end it became the past and the rest of the job went smoothly, although this company has the producers write up 'staff review' reports where my failing will be part of my permanent record if I work with them again (which I hope I can work with them again, it was a fun project).

But, the event was 10 days, with one day off in the middle, and every day was from about 10 - 12 hours long. It was tiring, and I ate like crap, but D noted a personality shift in me: I seem much more expressively happy when I'm working on these projects. She was even relatively shocked when I asked her for help. The crew were going out for drinks on the night before the day off, and I asked D if she could drop me off and pick me up so I could drink without driving, and not only did I have a good time, it did feel like old times.

On reflection, I wonder if what D is seeing is a bit of 'old me', from long before we ever met, back in my theater days. I mean, I don't 100% want to be my old self, because he was kind of dumb and a jerk, but maybe the Derek that has learned a bit more about life, put back in that world of working backstage, I'm probably being a bit more Me than I've been in a while.

Oh, the sniffling and coughing? Well, I spent the last week around thousands of gross high school kids, somebody must have coughed on me. I was tested for a variety of diseases, and the diagnosis is 'the common cold'. I hope it goes away soon, I'm tired of it.

I suppose once I started college again, I should have guessed my free time would shrink; my two courses are Advanced Film Editing Techniques and Astronomy, both entirely online.

The Astronomy class is a normal college class, and since it's summer semester it's a lot of returning-to-school, older-than-average students, and it's a relatively fluffy class where my personal interest in outer space means I know a lot of how this stuff works to begin with, but there's still a few things that I hadn't known before -- like how the sun works in the sky in the southern hemisphere in the summer and winter. That one is a three-credit course that runs to August.

The editing class is really a jump-in-with-both-feet class; it's my first Film Production class, but most of the other students are juniors or seniors, as its 372 designation would indicate. Because I have so many existing credits, and the film classes aren't offered every semester (or even every year) I have to take them wherever I can get them, which might be out of the normal sequential order. But I did OK, relying on stuff I learned decades ago. My midterm assignment got a good grade and some good feedback, and my final project is in the can but hasn't been graded yet. I, without reading the instructor's description closely, picked the hardest project to do, but I had the free time to try and get it as good as I could. There's things I know I was weak on, but overall it turned out really well. But, being a shorter class, I'm all done with Advanced Editing Techniques and just waiting for final grades.

One thing I have struggled with is figuring out how to get help with the online classes; I am, admittedly, bad at asking for help in general, but when you're in a project-based class like Film Editing, having time when you're sitting in class and can call the teacher over to look at something is a lot easier and non-flow-disrupting, versus needing to schedule a Zoom or sign up during the teacher's office hours, or try and compose an email with descriptions and screenshots and everything that would be much easier to just point at your screen to address. Sure, I may be an 'old' for this, but I'm also in an industry where we literally help people all day long via emails with screenshots or desktop-sharing so I'm not missing the skills, just knowing the right way to put them to use.

So, for the next month my class load is lighter, just Astronomy, but at the end of August is a new challenge: I have one in-person class, the Video Production 175 course. This is the normal "Welcome to Film Production" course, which my advisor wanted to let me skip due to pre-existing-knowledge reasons, but I really haven't touched any modern video or film equipment and I think I'd miss out on a lot of valuable skills, even if I'm probably overqualified.

But, there's my struggle with this -- on one hand, I have demonstrable skills, some of which I have learned and applied in actual professional capacity; on the other hand there's a lot of gaps due to not having a broad base of knowledge, because most of how I've gained my knowledge hasn't extended beyond an intern-level capacity. My current knowledge is like a sawed-off shotgun blast, a spray of dots with a lot of gaps but generally on target, while I need to either tighten up the skills with more focus, or fill in the gaps with more specific knowledge to reach more of a 'mastery' level. So, I'm leaning towards "take the class" and learn things I don't know -- like I did with my HTML class back when I was already a freelance web designer -- than to jump to assuming I know what I'm doing.

The other fall class is online-only, a nonfiction writing course to finish out my English requirements, which I should coast through. Overall, I think I'm doing alright with my classwork, so I should have no problem finishing with a degree in a couple years...knock on wood, the world around me has done its worst to stop me the other times I've tried to graduate college, but I think I've mitigated all that so far this time.

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