This I Believe

Nathan - Gilbert, Iowa
Entered on November 19, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Trying to Make a Lot with a Little

I believe in getting things done right the first time.

I have always been a perfectionist. This was even true in first grade. Whenever we did our handwriting books, I would always take the time to get my letters just perfect. That is, until I got bored and started adding things to my letters like extra lines and loops. However, I don’t think I had actually reached my highest level of perfectionism until I started helping out with sound for our school plays.

Schools, being federally funded, are always trying to cut costs, whether it be 1,000 sheets of paper here or waiting a few more years to give teachers new computers there. Unfortunately, this does not work well with sound equipment, where there are two general rules of thumb. One is, “You get what you pay for,” and the other is, “Your quality is almost always reduced to your lowest quality component.” Whether it’s something as small as a cable or as large as an amplifier or a set of speakers, you are limited by quality, which is almost always limited by budget. This is not a good thing when cost cutters are unaware of or apathetic to the needs of the system.

When I started helping with school plays, our sound system consisted of 4 lapel mics and some hanging mics, which were run by one student who often had substantial parts in productions. While this worked well enough at the time, technology prices have dropped, and our school has since added both more students and more microphones. However, the school has not yet upgraded our soundboard. The limited number of inputs leaves the sound operators to choose between micing that one kid who you can never hear unless miced or the general stage population. It also leaves me wishing they hadn’t cut that corner 5-10 years ago.

Also, recently a new version of Apple’s operating system came out. In hopes of being able to upgrade our home computers, I anxiously searched the Internet for the system requirements. However, upon finding them, I was disappointed to find that both computers fell 67 MHz short–less than 10 percent of the processor speed. Surely the next higher level of would have been able to run it. For what would have been a $200 increase in price, we could have gotten another 2 years of software compatible bliss.

Through these experiences, I have decided to always consider purchasing a level higher than what I think I will need. When I go off to college, I am looking to buy a computer that has more than what I think I’ll need in the fairly likely case that I do need that extra. As for our school’s drama department, when we add an auditorium to the school in the near future, I want to be first in line to see what is planned to be installed to make sure that the next generation of sound operators doesn’t get short changed in the future as badly as I was.