The last few weeks haven't been all bad. During my non flight weeks I was given the opportunity to get some refresher training on our SNG Truck. You see, the skill of operating an uplink had been something I had wanted to acquire for several years. I had pursued it back in the Maritimes, but since our Uplink was based in Halifax and me five hours drive away in New Brunswick, well you see it was not a viable option from the employer's perspective.
Year later I would get my chance, but due to my responsibilities in the office I would not get out in the truck for any extended period.
My first real opportunity came quite by chance during the end of a Vacation period when one of the primary Uplinkers was boarding a plane to get some much needed vacation.
That was the weekend in the fall of 2004 when Mount St. Helens began to get restless.
My assignment was to travel down to St. Helens and meet up with Toby, another one of the primary Ops and team up with him. The truck was already parked and set up for the most part and I would provide relief for young Toby who had been burning the wick at both ends for the better part of 4 days. We had demands for content and hits into our network shows back east which meant crew calls of 3 am as well as providing hits and content into our own shows both at suppertime and late night.
I was essentially booking and babysitting the truck. And that was my first quasi real SNG assignment. Not bad either, an assignment and an exploding volcano, this would be one to remember. You can check out the photos on my flickr site.
Of course anyone who uplinks knows you need to keep your skills fresh. It is not something that you can do without using skills acquired on a semi regular basis. In my case, almost three years would pass before I would find myself searching the "Clark Belt" looking for F1.
With the advent of digital encoders, and decoders since my initial time on the Truck, getting fimilar with the equipment all over again would be good for me. I do love to learn new things and spending a week assigned to training was time well spent indeed.
Now hopefully, it won't take another four years for me to get some time on the SNG beat.