Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Between the Rock and the Proverbial Hard Place

The purpose of this BlogSpot is to layout out the factors that determine when we schedule events, especially this coming year’s World Challenge XXII. The words had no sooner left my mouth about Las Vegas and the dates and I was approached by one of the athletes pointing out that October 29-November 3 encompasses Halloween.

The economic significance of Halloween is substantial for the retail industry. In 2007 it was estimated that $5B was spent on children; if you throw in the alcohol consumption of adults, the number might be twice that. As a parent, I’m certainly not immune to the pressures associated with all of the trappings of dressing up and begging for candy. As a teacher, my wife can attest to the effects in the classroom the day after!

I have received six emails asking what can be done to accommodate our athletes with young children. First let me set the stage for why this is such a conundrum.

1. We are backed up against one of the biggest trade shows in Las Vegas. Over 250,000 attend the SIMI show. Room rates will double- if you can find any. So that is an impossibility.

2. Unlike this year, US Nationals are locked- date and time. October 12, 13 & 14. This leaves a very narrow window to prepare for WCXXII; remember we have limitations on how many hours our CDL drivers can spend in the cockpit. And, we must allow some leeway in the event of a mechanical breakdown.

3. We have announced this date to the 400 attendees of the Lion’s Den banquet.

4. There is, nor will there ever be a perfect date that does not inconvenience someone.

5. Even from those who are voicing their preference, we have no warranty that they’ll be at WCXXII since some were not here this year.

6. Quite possibly, as of this writing, members may have already made travel/vacation/leave plans that would be interrupted.

So, let me proffer this one, perhaps possible scenario: we time shift the schedule by crossing over a weekend; e.g.: Start on Tuesday the 23rd and finish on Sunday the 28th. I’m sure I’m likely to hear some howling about this. I do understand that for firefighters, the week is composed of A, B and C shift-days, as opposed to the usual M-F. I’m not saying that we can make this happen, but I would like to hear the pro’s and con’s.

The host is offering a kid-centric day of activity, that may placate some of you. Here’s what I’m looking for: your response to an upcoming survey or posting your opinion on the forum on this website (not on Facebook, please- we’d like to handle this within our own ranks). We can’t dawdle. I want to lock this in by Friday. I’m also looking for ambassadors who will take the arrows and smooth the ruffled feathers. Any takers?

I’m all ears. 

And more thing...we promise that we will make every effort to avoid such a conflict in the future!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Coming to You Live...almost

If you’re looking for all the content from our live streaming of World Challenge XXI, you’ll find it at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/scott-firefighter-combat-challenge2012

We’re not exactly thrilled with Livestream.com. We’ve used them for the past three years. But this year they dropped the ball by changing platforms. You probably noticed when you Googled the doman and ended up somewhere else.

All of our content is now uploaded by Danny Lipps of Reel Events, the camera-production group who worked tirelessly for six straight days in bringing you the best of action.

I’d also like to thank Rick Lewis, our director of photography and Maria Prekeges for her stand-up interviews and Jim Degrandpre, PA announcer.

Mike Word took things up a couple of notches this year; his Master of Ceremonies at the Lion’s Den made that celebration the best ever.

Skyview of the Scott FCC Broadcast Booth

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

We're off...well sort of

Each year our ambitions are to make the current year's World Challenge better than the last. And sometimes, we get snake bit. Last year's beta test of Livestream came off very well- almost without a hitch. The only issue was someone tripped over an extension cord and our broadcast room went off line.

This year, we were expanding the coverage by adding High Definition. Or so we thought. Murphy was working overtime this past week. Monday was a forgotten holiday- Veteran's Day (even though is was actually on the 11th).

In any event, you're no more frustrated that we in getting this signal up and streaming. This is not just a matter of plugging in an Ethernet cable in the local outlet. It's pretty complicated and has to do with the local cable provider setting up a line of sight transmission capability and turning the dial up to 10MbS.

The signal is processed by a wireless uplink, over to a light pole and then streamed 500m to a receiver on a pole in front of the Planet Hollywood.

For the past two days, we've been dutifully recording all the content. And the chatline is active. In fact, many of you can hear us; you just can't see us.

I want to tell you that Wednesday, you'll be seeing everything live. Of course, it's not up to me, but the combination of HTC (cable company) and Livestream.com. There's enough blame to go around. But our technical crew is working on all of this as we speak. Livestream changed our account to another router, which has little meaning for me. In any event, be assured that all is not lost; all of the content will be available for viewing on a tape delay and it' will be there for the next year.

We thank you for your patience and we apologize for any inconvenience we have caused you.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Somber Warning

Several months ago, Challenge Competitor Nick Gravina of South Metro suffered a near-fatal heart attack while on duty. The news story is viewable through the hyperlink below. The take away from the video, in Nick’s own words: pay attention to symptoms. Challenge competitor Bill Briggs had been experiencing chest pain before his fatal heart attack. Any pain within two feet of your chest, especially if associated with exertion warrants attention. 

Next week over 500 firefighters will descend on Myrtle Beach for World Challenge XXI. While we boast some of the most fit athletes on the planet, it does not necessarily confer immunity from heart disease. Listen to your body. And don’t ignore warning signs. Let’s all work towards an incident-free competition. 

Nick Gravina: South Metro Firefighter Combat Challenge Team Member