I want a laser. That’s an odd thing to want for most people. Even for tech heads, usually something like a laser isn’t high on the wish list. Technophiles typically want the latest and greatest cell phone, PC, or some new up and coming gadget. I want all that stuff too, but I really want a laser. Why? The simple answer is for my shows. I do some DJ / Dance party stuff on a very small and amminture scale. I want to take it to the next level. What I would love to be able to do is a full arena or stadium concert experience but on a scale fit for venues like clubs and bars. In my mind’s eye I’m imagining moving head lights, videos, and lasers, all timed to music. Of course I can’t do it myself so If I did pull this off, I’m going to have to have a partner in-attendance during the shows to help control all the lights. Realistically I’m getting a bit ahead of myself thinking about the partner because I currently have no idea how to put on the show and I can’t really do anything until I have the equipment. I have some lights, some speakers, and some video monitors. What I don’t have is a laser, which explains why I want a laser.
I’ve started looking for the tools that are available to help bring my idea to fruition. It’s hard to do as the information isn’t readily available online. My guess is that this type of technology isn’t really a consumer thing. It’s much more of a niche business. I’ve found some solutions and I’ve also subscribed to an industry trade journal. I’m currently at the point in my discovery where for every lead I follow, there are a dozen more questions I have or links I have to follow. I honestly don’t know what I need to know. For example, with video, where do I get high quality clips and what licensing is involved with using them? If the different equipment comes from different companies, how can I sync it all up? What’s involved in the programming of the lights? In theory the best next step I can take is to work for a company that does the stage shows for big bands. I.e. be a sound and lighting design intern. At my age, and with my back, there is no way I can do the roadie thing. But I do think if I land an unpaid position at a design firm I can learn how they design shows just by being in the environment. Then I can do it on a small scale. Of course looking for the companies that do this sort of thing is about as easy as looking for the tools to actually do the work. Bottom line is that it’s a huge mountain of knowledge to climb and it will take a ton of time.
I had another experience of wanting something that should be somewhat easy to acquire but actually turned out to be difficult. The spark of desire happened during the 2022 Super Bowl, specifically during the halftime show. The show, if you hadn’t seen it, featured many Hop Hop stars performing their greatest hits. They were all artists who were huge during a period of my life when I was an avid consumer of new music. Everyone around me, mostly my age, was very much into the music and knew all the lyrics. I felt left out. The reason why I didn’t know anything about these artists is that during that period of my life I had gotten into Progressive Rock bands and was deeply immersing myself into music that had its heyday right around the time I was born. I was so into Prog that I completely missed out on an entire musical movement. Considering my age, I should have known every track and every lyric like everyone else around me. A less refined Mike Peluso would have dismissed the music as meaningless and talentless rap music and not comparable to the amazing virtuoso musicians I was into. A more seasoned Mike Peluso would conclude that this music must be good, and probably is great or it wouldn’t have impacted so many people and lasted long enough in popular culture to be part of the super bowl. I started to think that I wanted to go back and explore all of these artists. I realized that I am at an advantage in that I can focus on the best the genre has to offer and avoid the filler tracks and clone artists. I started to think about what it would take to become as proficient as all those around me. It would take a great deal of time. Learning music, even as a listener, takes a great deal of time. It’s why popular music is so targeted at youth. They have both the time and the disposable income to consume it. Speaking of time, I can’t forget that everything is time contextual. I wondered if it would have the same impact for me today as it did for everyone else in the room when they first got into the music twenty years ago. I questioned if I should spend all the time needed listening to, and truly learning, the music if it won’t have the same impact. So I sampled it. I listened to one track on youtube with an open mind, and it was catchy. Next, I checked out a Spotify playlist. I realized I did want to learn the music. It was an entirely new experience to explore and I could go back and read old reviews and news stories to get a sense of why the music resonates so well at the time of its release.
Although both the light show and the Hop Hop are related to music, the connecting thread in both cases is time. It will take a ton of time to really learn everything I’d like to learn in both subject areas. With the lights, it’ll also take money and space. Realistically the space is almost as big a deal as the money. I don’t have enough space to set up the whole rig to facilitate practice sessions regularly. If I have to set everything up every time It won’t get done. Lasers / video displays, etc. are large and complicated. The needed truss systems alone wouldn’t fit in my garage. I’d have to build another building, which admittedly is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Even if I had unlimited funds and a full warehouse in my backyard, there is still the factor of time.
The irony here is that I thought I had enough bandwidth considering I am now a teacher and I am supposed to have tons of time to do what I want. Now that I’ve done it for a bit, I’ll have to agree with what I’ve heard over the years that teaching can take significantly more than just 40hrs a week. Yes, there are definitely some teachers who work less than the standard work week by doing the minimum they can get away with. This is no different than any other job except perhaps that there are less metrics related to time that the teachers are being measured by. So beyond the Spring and Fall semesters, in theory we do have a huge chunk of time in the summers. Spoilers: We work during the summers, sometimes quite a bit. That being said, we do have much more flexibility in the sumers. Ideally, that chunk of time would be perfect to be an intern for a lighting company that designs lights for traveling shows. Then I could learn the tools. Even if I didn’t get paid, to me, and for what I want to learn, it would be well worth the time.
The challenge with summers, aside from work, is that I’ve got other goals that can only be achieved in the summers. As an example, I’m trying to travel more as a way to bond with my kids. If I’m on a lake fishing with my son or taking my daughter to mermaid camp, then learning how to program a Hog4 light show is not going to happen. Neither is listening to classic Hip Hop when they are around as most of the music is not quite appropriate for children in either language or subject matter. Beyond my children there are other priorities that take place over learning the things I want to learn. Specifically, health comes to mind. My back is bad, like many it’s gotten bad enough to where I sleep in a recliner. I’d like to get back to where I can sleep in bed. To do that I have to figure out how to deal with my back and another issue, sleep apnea. Both are problems that don’t really have easy solutions, so finding what works takes incredible amounts of time when you consider research, doctor visits, testing, etc. As an example, with apnea, I tried CPAP and it was a colossal failure. Now I’m going through the process of getting an oral appliance, a process that has taken about six months so far. These issues are somewhat normal for someone my age. As much as I’ve learned to live with it, I really do need to prioritize the time commitment to get as much of it fixed as possible.
There are other things that I should seriously consider such as career related projects like getting a PhD. I’ve come to the conclusion that earning one would be great for my ego but not so much for ROI on my career. That being said, it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t seriously consider it if I had the time. Then there are the ever present projects around the house, some I have been putting off because we can live without it, even some things like finishing parts of the house that are still incomplete several years after moving in. All require tremendous amounts of time.
The lesson here is that time is limited, even when you, in theory, have a ton of it. It’s not just teachers who would be affected by this. Students, those in job transitions, and the retired could all find themselves with enough time to do one or more of the big things they have been wanting to do in life. Additional time means what you do may have a greater impact. So the question follows: What should we spend our time on? How do you prioritize everything you want to do? When you think about it, it could be a real conundrum.
In my case I have to ask myself to decide. Do I learn new things? Do I focus on fixing health issues that really have no solutions? I guess I could just make a prioritized list and just work on one thing at a time in the order they are on the list. I know I can’t do it all in moderation as then I won’t get anything done. I also know that I can’t go where my whims take me on a day to day basis as I will never get anything accomplished because I’m always bouncing around and that slows my progress considerably.
If I do go the list route, then how do I prioritize? Should I start with the hardest or the easiest to accomplish? If I were to use the waterfall or baby steps method, I’d start with the easiest goal to accomplish and work my way towards the hardest. I think travel is the easiest, which may be why I am focusing on it right now. Once I’ve been somewhere I generally don’t need to go back for a long while. That being said, there’s always someplace else to go. I could try to climb the biggest mountain by focusing on the hardest thing to do. In my case that means really focusing all my energies on expanding my light show. With all the financial and physical resources that it will take to learn and do what I want to, it will be years before I’ve accomplished my goals. Of course, the benefit of finally doing the big audacious thing is that it can be tremendously rewarding.
This is my list but we all have a list. Many of us feel like we have no time because of the world we live in. There are corporate demands, family and child rearing demands, etc. It’s nice to think that we can do it all when we have time in retirement. The challenge with this is that retirement time can get sucked up into meeting healthcare needs or it can be a time of limited resources. It’s hard to learn something new when you can’t afford the tools or training. Maybe that’s the big point. It doesn’t matter which one of these I do, doing something is better than doing nothing. I feel like sitting around and watching netflix or hanging at a bar drinking every weekend without some big fun goal in your life is meaningless. I know if you are the type of person listening to or reading this, you most likely want to know or do something that you haven’t yet. What is that thing? Maybe it’s time to do it. Plus there is a positive to getting started now, if you do accomplish your goal, you can celebrate. By then you’ll probably know a guy who can throw you a killer dance party with all the usual DJ lights, but he’ll also have some really lasers too!
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