Monday, January 31, 2005


That will really just ruin your day.

Guy had a double fire on his nail gun and thought that it had only fired one and kicked back and hit him in the face. Six days later he found that it wasn't the gun that had hit him, it was another nail.

Story to be found here:

I can't wait to start getting the calls from parents wanting their kids to wear some kind of armored mouth guards when using the pneumatic tools.

Also, you can't help but notice that the guy now has a $100,000 medical bill and no insurance. Keep that in mind next time you take a job 1099 - no workmen's comp.


Sunday, January 30, 2005

Why is there bad food?

This has been a recurring question for me over the past couple of weeks. M and I have been doing South Beach, hoping to be more trim and attractive for our wedding photos. If you don't already know South Beach, like Atkins, is all about Carbs. The difference is in some flexibility and that Atkins would seem to prefer that you eat deep fried butter for every meal, whereas with South Beach they sort of also discourage that.

The commonality about carbs has to do with body craving, insulin, blood sugar, and fat. The idea being that carbs are easily digested and more readily turned into fat and saved for the future. My own understanding of this is that thousands of years of conditioning, and whatever number of years of evolution before that, have programmed our bodies (not so much our brains) that there MIGHT BE NO FOOD TOMORROW!!! And therefore it is really important to save food for later, you body does this in the form of fat. Should nuclear winter come next week, I will live longer than my sister in the same way that John Goodman would likely outlive Calista Flockhart.

Of course the problem is that there will be food tomorrow. We keep eating, and get fat. Ideally we could have some kind of software upgrade that would let our system know that in all likelihood there will be food tomorrow and that it can relax. Unfortunately the closest we come to this is a deconditioning through diet.

So I am on a diet.

The thing I discover on this diet though is less about me and more about food. It leads me to this question: why is there so much bad food? For year I used to say that it didn't really concern me if McDonald's burgers were beef or seaweed, just as long as they taste good. It seems that we should be in a day and age where some cooks could get together with some guys in lab coats and just solve this thing.

The culprits appear to primarily be white flour, white sugar, white rice, potatoes, and corn. South Beach bans all of these things rather emphatically. Interestingly, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, & brown rice and marginally allowed. This shows up most prominently with rice and pasta, and also some with bread.

Which is where the questions start...

If white flour is so bad, why can we buy standard pasta so easily? Why isn't most pasta whole wheat pasta? If white rice is so bad for us, why isn't most rice brown rice? Why is there such a thing as white bread, at all? Would anyone really miss white bread?

I believe that at one point or another this was about convenience or preservatives or something, but come on, this is the 21st century aren't we beyond this? Sadly, I think that the answer is more about momentum, infrastructure, and money more than anything else. The answers to the the questions above are a probably a depressing "because that's what we do."

You can see a demonstration of this with corn. We grow so much corn we don't need that we have to find other uses for it. A huge portion of it gets made into sweetener for soda - which leads to fat, and a lot of fat at that.

I wish some of the larger food purveyors in this country were more into this subject. Decisions by say McDonalds, Burger King, Kraft, and PepsiCo could likely force a change of epic scale. Whole wheat and rye bread, sweet potatoes, brown sugar and sugar substitutes, and maybe some genuine concoctions done with beans and soybeans. A group like that could not only change public opinion but could throw enough weight around to change the market structure. Do you think ADM cares whether it processes corn or soybeans? They will go where the cash is.

Why not put your cash where it won't make you fat? Just a thought.

Stealth Activism

So I am not what I think I would call an activist. I believe in things, but generally I don't put much time or money into advancing those beliefs. I have a feeling that as I get older this may change some, but it is what it is right now.

In a demonstration of extremely little effort I am starting to accumulate a little pile of banners on this page. I haven't really set out to find any on purpose, they've just been pages linked to pages I have happened upon that I think I should support - and hopefully other people will notice. So, if you scroll way way down you can see the first two. I guess eventually I may recompose the margin and move them up. Guess we'll have to see how many there turn out to be.

The first one showing is This is from their "About" page:

Over the last few decades, our country's economic system has stopped working for average Americans. Wages have stagnated while executive pay has skyrocketed. In the last 30 years, the average worker has seen their pay increase by only a nickel an hour a year. At the same time, health care premiums are forcing families to forego needed medical attention. In the last year alone, wages increased 4 percent, while insurance premiums increased more than 15 percent.

At, we're PO'd.

  • We're PO'd at corporations who rack up record profits by taking the low road—squeezing workers and refusing to offer quality, affordable health care.
  • We're PO'd at politicians who say one thing at election time and promptly forget their promises the moment they take office.
  • We're PO'd because the American dream is failing millions of hard-working Americans. We know we can do better.
That's why we're joining forces with the 1.6 million members of America's most exciting and fastest growing workers' organization, SEIU, to demand a better future for our nation.

An affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), America's largest union, is the latest advance of the American labor movement. By joining, you are standing with over 1.6 million workers from nurses and health care workers to librarians and public service employees to security guards and janitors.

I latched onto them because they have an education strategy for talking about WalMart and its effect on America. Click the link above or the banner below to jump to that page. There are tidbits there like this:

Reliance on public assistance programs in California by Wal-Mart workers costs the state's taxpayers an estimated $86 million annually. (Source: UC Berkeley Study)

There's also a funky contact tracing map that shows how many people hook up with them through me - which would be interesting in and of itself.

The WalMart phenom is going to be very important in years to come. We need to be paying attention. I'm not sure if the SEIU is the most benevolent of organizations, but they deserve some attention in this respect.

The other banner you will find is for I think the intent here is pretty plain. This is a Planned Parenthood advocacy site. From "Why Courts Matter":

Planned Parenthood Federation of America has embarked on a unique collaborative project focused on coalition building, grassroots organizing, and public education around the Supreme Court and lower court nominees. The federal judiciary affects many communities on a spectrum of diverse issues. Due to the concern over court nominations that are currently being considered as well as a potential Supreme Court nominee, Planned Parenthood formed the Planned Parenthood Court Network. This coalition draws together various progressive national non-profit organizations to educate our individual constituencies about the threat that an unbalanced judiciary brings to reproductive and civil rights.

The site has information as well as avenues to contribute both money and time to the cause of protecting Roe and a woman's right to choose.

All in all I think the site is kind of depressing as it catalogs all of the various ways that reproductive freedom is under attack right now. But the awareness is necessary, and the opponents are energized, and feeling very empowered by the current administration. I guess it is time to gear up on this side as well.

I'll keep looking for other causes to add to the column as time moves on. If you've got one you think should be included, let me know.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Spit or Swallow

Had to write another one of those letters today. How'd I do?

In Re: Recommendation of Joe Student

I am very pleased to recommend Joe Student to you for selection for Law School. As a professor at Carnegie Mellon I had an opportunity to observe and experience Joe both academically and artistically. He was an outstanding student for me and will make a fantastic student for you.

Joe is a tremendously powerful thinker and possesses a formidable intellect. His compositions and positions are always firmly rooted in research. I was continually impressed by how solid his ideas were. Joe is a rare combination of both right brain and left brain aptitude. While here at CMU he excelled both as an artist and as a technician – and in a Herculean feat of time management also as a computer programmer. Typically, he is able to bring all these facets to bear on problems and projects focusing outstanding reasoning and analytical skills as well as unsurpassed composition and artistic abilities. Few people see the whole picture as well as Joe.

The making of theatre is all about collaboration. Joe always distinguished himself here as a valuable team member. He absorbed everything we were able to show him about how to work with other people. No matter how significant his role on a particular project, Joe could be depended on to both pull his own weight and make everyone around him that much better. As well as being a team member, Joe’s clear thinking and understanding of priorities and resources made him a first-rate team leader. On top of all of that, he is a very personable and genuine person; someone that is easy to work with and that people want to work with.

It should not come as a surprise at this point to hear that Joe is an extremely hard worker. People often refer to conservatory Drama school as “boot camp.” Joe marched through his time here impressively, combining both our design and production curriculums and adding a computer science program in his spare time. That path would not have been possible had he not been laser focused on his goals and determined to succeed. But focus and determination would not have been enough had he not also been simply indefatigable. His capacity for work is simply exhausting to contemplate.

Please consider this a highest-possible recommendation. Joe Student would make an excellent addition to any program.

I think I may have choked there a little.

Clarke OK

I have been wondering since the tsunami if Arthur C. Clarke was alright. It has always been an interesting bit of trivia to me that Clarke lives in Sri Lanka. When the calamity happened I didn't hear about him on any of the news shows. I guess that bit of trivia isn't as important to other people.

Today I was looking at the Ebert page and saw this link:

I guess Roger Ebert knows Arthur C. Clarke from covering the 2001 movie series. Ebert's site said that Clarke was ok, and pointed me to this site:

Which included the following letter:

From Sir Arthur regarding the recent tsunamis in South and Southeast Asia:

Thank you for your concern about my safety in the wake of Sunday's devastating tidal wave.

I am enormously relieved that my family and household have escaped the ravages of the sea that suddenly invaded most parts of coastal Sri Lanka, leaving a trail of destruction.

But many others were not so fortunate. For hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans and an unknown number of foreign tourists, the day after Christmas turned out to be a living nightmare reminiscent of The Day After Tomorrow.

Among those affected are my staff based at our diving station in Hikkaduwa and holiday bungalow in Kahawa - both beachfront properties located in areas worst hit. We still don't know the full extent of damage as both roads and phones have been damaged. Early reports indicate that we have lost most of our diving equipment and boats. Not all our staff members are accounted for - yet.

This is indeed a disaster of unprecedented magnitude for Sri Lanka which lacks the resources and capacity to cope with the aftermath. We are all trying to contribute to the relief efforts. We shall keep you informed as we learn more about what happened.

Curiously enough, in my first book on Sri Lanka, I had written about another tidal wave reaching the Galle harbour (see Chapter 8 in The Reefs of Taprobane, 1957). That happened in August 1883, following the eruption of Krakatoa in roughly the same part of the Indian Ocean.

Arthur Clarke
27 December 2004

Nice to know he made it.

Is it really so hard?

I have a box, a mail box, in the front of the building. It's a place where people can leave me things when I am not there and then I can pick them up later.

This, this is not a box:

This is a door handle. I use it to open my door. The difference seems clear to me. I wonder how that subtlety is lost on so many students.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Some Progress

The articles for the Tech Expo are done. Like most things, it turned out to be less work than it looked like.

The other morning on NPR they did a thing about language. There was this Czech word that caught my attention. Val looked it up for me:

litost [lee-tosht] (noun)
This is an untranslatable emotion that only a Czech person would suffer from, defined by Milan Kundera as "a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one's own misery." Devices for coping with extreme stress, suffering, and change are often special and unique to cultures and born out of the meeting of despair with a keen sense of survival.

I think there should be a word in English, preferably untranslatable that means "I am so busy I can not even take the time to comprehend how busy I am!"

Whatever that word is, that's what I am.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


I'm not quite sure how it happened, but my life and my job have gotten in the way of living my life and doing my job. Suddenly I have developed quite a list: letter for Josh, two letters for Sylvia, six articles for Loren, a presentation for Fritz... These things have all been staring me down for close to a month now without much if any progress, and all of them are sort of extra-curricular. Things that come on top of the normal load.

I got to tell you too, I am becoming nostalgic for my project management days. At least then all of the jobs had an end. You might be buried to well over your head from time to time, but at least there was real turnover in projects, and eventually - although it wasn't great for the shop - things would dependably slow down.

This gig I have now never ends. Kevin likes to say that the academic gig is good because every couple of months you get to start over. That's really not the case though. That really has to do with coursework, and in that respect it is true. I could however stay busy 40 hours a week, 12 months a year and never really even get to course work. Recruiting, marketing, troubleshooting, program development, advising, these are more than a full time job themselves. The worst part is that they are always there, and I rarely have time to get to them because of the day to day of coursework - and production.

Unfortunately they can't be ignored forever or things start to fall apart. This is a source of stress in what should be a nearly stress free gig.

And then of course there's the non-career list, it has the same kind of every day and extra-every day items too. House, pets, life, the wedding - that stuff could be a full time job even if I didn't have a job.

Ever had so much to do that you couldn't do anything? Welcome to my world.

OK, back on your heads.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Life imitates art - or at least TV

Stolen from McSweeney's Internet Tendency ...

By Eric Maierson

"Now, see, you can't just go and do something like that. That would be illegal."

"Boy, someone's gonna get fired for that."

"Wasn't that the one who made all the mistakes? Why is she getting promoted?"

"Come on, in real life you'd never get away with something like that."

"They really expect us to believe that?"

"Am I the only one confused here?"

"Does this make any sense to you?"

"Why is this still on?"

Clearance Sale

So I have all these things accumulating in a file for later. Seems like now is as good a time as any - some of the images are starting to disappear...

1985 by Bowling for Soup

"Where's the mini-skirt made of snakeskin?
And who's the other guy that's singing in Van Halen?
When did reality become T.V.?
What ever happened to sitcoms, game shows?"

You took the bitter with the sweet in 2004 - and kept laughing.

I am nerdier than 40% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

I am abrasive, some people really hate me, but there may be a group of other tight knit assholes and bitches that I can hang out with and get me. Everybody else? Fuck ‘em.

You Are 23 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

How long would you last in a zombie movie by zombi357
Weapon of choice
Friend who turned that you had to killaerdin
Chance you will survive: 4%
Quiz created with MemeGen!

You scored as Upper middle Class. Your determination have soared you this high, yet not high enough to enjoy the luxuries of the upper class. Your most valued posession is your country club membership which is kept framed in the office.

Upper middle Class


Middle Class




Lower Class


Luxurious Upper Class


What Social Status are you?
created with

You Are Ugly Underwear!

Comfortable and soft, more people like you than let on.
But it's very difficult for you to show yourself in public.

I'm Joshua Abraham Norton, the first and only Emperor of the United States of America!

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Your Element Is Air

You dislike conflict, and you've been able to rise above the angst of the world.
And when things don't go your way, you know they'll blow over quickly.

Easygoing, you tend to find joy from the simple things in life.
You roll with the punches, and as a result, your life is light and cheerful.

You find it easy to adapt to most situations, and you're an open person.
With you, what you see is what you get... and people love that!


Solid Ground
Your World (Part One): What is your world made of? [boys]

brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Traffic Cams II

So it looks like all the cams are back to pointed at the roads. Maybe my inner cynic got the best of me. I guess its possible that the cameras we're frozen in those odd positions, or that the snow somehow interferes with the control signal.

Anyway, its nice to have them up again.

Game over

And the season with it. I was going to take a stab at "Casey at the Bat" for this, but my heart isn't in it. In the end they just couldn't put it together, and that's too bad. Still the Steelers had a better season than all but two or three other teams. I guess thats little consolation on this cold, depressing Pittsburgh evening.

Wait 'till next year? I guess so.

Iron Chef Batali won the Cat Fish Battle. Its just not the same.

Two Minute Warning

41-20 Pats. Three touchdowns in two minutes? That's pretty grim.

I wonder how many players the Cubs resigned.

Third Quarter

Well that's a little better. Two possesions, two touchdowns, two sacks on defense, they're showing some life. Two challenges, one for and one against. Two costly penalties delivering big for the Pats. But going in the right direction finally.

Down two touchdowns and driving hard at the top of the fourth quarter.

In counterprogramming news, Food Network is showing Iron Chef America "Battle Catfish" maybe.

Game on.


24-3 Patriots. I don't know.

We don't look too good. New England making us look fairly ineffective on defense. Their defensive scheme, rushing three, is really frustrating the Steeler offense. That's got to leave a lot of opportunities we're missing for keepers, end arounds, delayed draws - anything that hits at the line but takes a second or two to develop. There have to be weaknesses in that kind of defense. I guess this time we'll get to see how good Cowher is at mid game corrections, because if they keep doing what they're doing now the outcome won't be too great.

Not giving up hope though. The Steelers' game wears opponents down. The run has been formidable in the fourth quarter, and there have been a few flashes where they have looked effective - just have to hope the hole isn't too deep.

FYI, in counter programming news, HBO is running a BRUTAL documentary right now. It features parents of soldiers reading their childrens' last letter from Iraq. Something they usually receive after they've been notified there was a death. Ought to be required viewing for everyone in Washington.

The football game isn't as bad as that yet.

First Quarter

10-3 Patriots. Ok its early, and things were looking a little better toward the end. Just not the opening I think anyone in Pittsburgh would have scripted. I'm a little nervous. Have to wait and see.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Traffic Cams

I am beginning to wonder about the PennDOT traffic cameras. In the past week we have had two significant snow accumulations. Suspiciously, during each period where there was snow on the ground, the traffic cameras were down.

It is snowing today. Marisa and I cleared in excess of four inches of snow this morning when she went to work, and the flurries really haven't stopped all day. I just got a phone message from her, at work, saying I should stay in as the roads were a mess with spin outs and stalls all over the parkway.

I like an accident as much as the next guy. So I figure I will take a look from the privacy of my own home. I blow open
the PennDOT camera page
to take a peek at the Parkway. This is what is there:

The PennDOT Traffic Web Camera Interface is currently offline due to technical difficulties. It should be back operational sometime early this week. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes.

That's what it said the other day too. Continuing with a little persistence I open up this page. All the way at the bottom of the left margin are the two cams most important to my commute. Interestingly, both of those images are live, but neither of the cameras is pointed at the road. Inbound shows a lovely view of the shoulder:

and outbound has a wonderful view of Rockwellian snow covered rooftops:

Do you think it is possible that since the same bureau is responsible for clearing the roads and pointing the cameras that we should take this as an indication that they don't really want us to be able to see how well they are doing on all the roads by looking in one place?

If so, that's really a shame. I think we all know they have a big job to do, and the cams really do help decide which route to take someplace, and how much time you need to leave to get there. Radio traffic is great, but having the cams is that much better.

I wonder if anyone will think to ask?

Well, I guess that happens

I got this today from Melissa Etheridge:

Be sure and tune into the Grammys on Feb. 13th (I think that's the date...chemo brain) for a little surprise, but I warn you...I am bald. Yep, all of that fine full dyed blond hair is gone. It will grow back, slowly.

I'm not sure that's something I want to see. Although I am sure it was worth it.

Friday, January 21, 2005

New Season

Tonight was the first real showing of Scifi Network's Scifi Friday Night. The season premieres of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, plus a new episode of Battlestar Galactica. Either I need a Tivo, or Friday nights will be spent in for a while.

So I'm a geek. Does this surprise anyone?

I'd been waiting for months for the Galactica series. They teased the series when they ran the mini-series last fall. So far its pretty good. I think the writing will even out eventually. It usually takes a new science fiction show a couple of seasons to get it's writers legs under it. Most of the updates and changes have been effective. It will likely take me some time to get used to the idea of Starbuck being a woman, and the humaniform Cylons change the focus of the show fairly fundamentally. The old show hadn't needed that wrinkle, I wonder if it will improve the new show or just bog it down. The thing I miss the most? I just wish they would still end each episode: "Fleeing Cylon tyranny, the last Battlestar, Galactica, leads a rag tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest for a shining Planet known as Earth."

I fed the first six words of that into the Google Talk thing and it came up with the rest of the quote - which I couldn't remember. Of course it went on to add "...vast civilizations have evolved, and ruling the galaxy is an enormous group of people. who have been treated for Lung cancer. and other health problems. in the community. and the University of Michigan Press. University of Minnesota, Press, Minneapolis, MN. pp. HARRIS, " so maybe the tool is limited. But to give credit, "Earth" is the last word of the line from the show. I talked about Google Talk a long time ago. If you haven't played with it you should, its neat.

Galactica premiered last week. This week they added the premieres of the two Stargate shows. I have my fingers crossed for SG-1. I hadn't liked where they went with it in order to get Atlantis launched. Hopefully now that the shows are split SG-1 will be able to regain its balance. The first episode was pretty good. They've established their villain, and they're as bad as the Borg ever were on Next Gen. I miss Hammond, but I guess you can't have everything. The Atlantis premiere was good too, if predictable. That show is still in it's pre-sea legs stage too, but it is showing signs. My fingers are crossed.

Anyway, three hours of TV. Time to actually get something done tonight.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Social Security

So, until today when W identified "evangelical democracy" as his first priority, one of the central goals of the second term was presented as reforming Social Security. I can't tell if I would rather have this team make a mess abroad rather than at home. Not a choice I guess we really get.

The administration wants to revolutionize Social Security to save it. There's been quite a bit of talk about the privatization of the program. It turns out though that at the moment all they are talking about is "private accounts." Although I am quite certain that this is just a wedge. The same way that illegal partial birth abortion is just a step down the road to no abortion at all, private accounts are a fairly clear first step toward dismantling the program.

Maybe the reason that the talk has gotten more tentative is because it seems like private sector involvement in guarantee payout systems has turned out to be fairly unsuccessful. There's a system in Britain that's been in place for a while. Soon they will have to reduce the guaranteed payout because the system is running out of money. The was a South American program, instituted by some of the same personnel now working for the Bush administration, that failed entirely.

So maybe its just a crappy idea.

Or maybe it just doesn't matter. A few weeks ago I stumbled across this article:

Its the story of a man who keeps records much better than I do. At retirement, this particular person figured what all of his social security payments had been, and when. He took those amounts and dates and put them into the stock market, just like the government wants to make possible for all of us. Propagating the accounts through the market fluctuations from his first payment until his retirement, he calculated what his private investment payout would have been. In the end, what did he discover? He would have made more staying in the system.

The real factor that decides how much you get out of social security has less to do with the rate of return or how much you put in and much more dependence on when you begin receiving payments, and how long you live.

So, in terms of investment, maybe it just wouldn't make a difference to individual workers.

Take that though, and add to it that what the administration is asking for is not a complete privatization, but just 4% of payments. If 100% makes no difference, how big an impact will 4% have? Of course the answer to that is 0.04xNo Difference. Zip. Nill. Nada.

What's the point?

I'll guess. Although 4% of an individual's retirement account amounts to almost nothing, the sum of all of that money would still have a huge impact on Wall Street. It's like the right wing version of a class action suit. The righties are always decrying the lefty trial attorneys that get rich over class action law suits; pulling down multi-million dollar fees next to individual claimants who gross less that $100. This is the righty version; channeling millions of dollars in retirement insurance payments to the CEOs of publicly held companies while the individual investors take a wash. Just a guess.

I guess in some ways that's still a good thing. That capital would do good things for the economy, wouldn't it? We've already established that it would make almost no difference to the investor. Still its slimy, and what amounts to an enormous public gift, a reverse robin hood taking a little bit from everyone that has nothing and lumping it into huge gifts for those that are already doing better. I would hope that turns out to be unamerican.

Watch your wallet.

Oaf of Office

Inauguration today. I am so excited.

Do you think there should be a spelling of so like "soo" for when used like I just did above? I mean, if I was saying "I am too excited" it wouldn't be "to."

Of course, phonetically its all wrong. Doesn't stop me though. A lot of the time when I am typing I type "soo."

Can you sense my inaugural excitement?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


I really need a new link of the day to move the Pope Urban site off the top of the list. It's been up there now for more than a month and nobody will remember what it is there fore anyway (perhaps I should delete it - interesting site manager dilemma).

I think I will use this one:

Now I like tape just as much as the next stagehand, but this may be taking it too far. I can't imagine what my date would have said had I turned up for prom in a duct tape tux.

Check it out. There's some cool stuff there.

Apparently there is even some legit business in duct tape accessories. I saw one sit branched off from here that seemed to suggest that it is a vegan thing. Certainly nothing "with a face" was hurt in the fabrication of a duct tape wallet. Not sure that makes me want one though.

Besides, everyone knows, gaff tape absolutely spanks duct tape.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

He's ba-ack

I got an email from John Kerry today. It's not the first one since the election, and most of the time I think its sort of annoying. This week though I have felt rather disenchanted by our leadership in Washington, so this struck a chord with me. I hope it will with you too.

Mostly for me I have trouble with what I can only describe as detached arrogance. People often make fun of touchy-feely leaders. Donald Rumsfeld is really the opposite end of the spectrum. I really don't have any confidence in the motivation and capability of the Secretary of Defense. If you feel the same, here's a chance for you to say so.

Dear Friend,

We must stop rewarding incompetence, start demanding accountability, and for the sake of the troops in Iraq, we must replace Donald Rumsfeld. Please join me in signing the following letter to President Bush on

Mr. President,

I was surprised and disappointed that you told the Washington Post last week that no Bush administration official should be held accountable for our failures in Iraq. As the situation worsens and more American lives are lost and troops deployed to the region, it's time to stop rewarding incompetence and to start demanding accountability. For the sake of our men and women in uniform and their families here at home, I urge you to start by replacing Donald Rumsfeld. His record of failure and his inability to play it straight with the American people and our troops overseas make him unfit to serve as Secretary of Defense for one more day, never mind four more years.

If you care about restoring our credibility around the world and our credibility with our troops on the ground in Iraq, you've got to start by removing Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. That's why I am joining Senator John Kerry and hundreds of thousands of Americans in adding my name to the petition calling for Rumsfeld's immediate removal from office.

I urge you to act without delay. We can't afford any more auto-penned letters of condolences and shifting stories about what kind of armor we have to protect our troops.

American soliders and their families are counting on you as Commander in Chief to hold those in charge of the war in Iraq to the highest standards.

Thank you.

Monday, January 17, 2005

And the Winner Is...

The winner of the first round of David Trivia is:


Andrea wins a huge picture on my site in her own post, and a dinner at the Waterfront restaurant of her choice.

The other day this was on Andrea's site:

1. david, for making me take his ridiculous one
2. sarah, for not responding to lisi's call already
3. katy, cause i haven't heard from you in awhile

Normally I would never comply to such a directive, but seeing as how this is her post I guess its not too bad. So here it is:

1. Dave
2. David
3. db

1. dboevers
2. dbinlasvgs
3. trinitythekitten

1. Sense of humor
2. Frisbee backhand
3. Professionalism

1. I spend too much time in front of a screen
2. rampant frugality
3. poor diet

1. procrastinating
2. amount of exercise
3. approachability

1. Russian
2. German
3. Polish

1. George W Bush
2. Dick Cheney
3. Pretty much any new Bush appointment

1. Pepsi
2. Skittles
3. Email

1. dirty jeans
2. button down shirt
3. a small kitten

1. Melissa Etheridge
2. Genesis
3. Chicago

1. Tuesday Morning - MLE
2. First Cut is the Deepest – Sheryl Crow
3. Complicated - Avril

1. Being happily married
2. Finishing a book or two
3. Teaching a new class

1. Humor
2. Patience
3. Longevity

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE (In no particular order...)
1. I am a professional Technical Director
2. I am a certified entertainment rigger
3. I am a college professor

1. Should be shorter than me
2. Should be lighter than me
3. Should be smarter than me (really its all about me)

1. pay bills on time
2. get out of bed in the morning
3. go to bed at night

1. Ultimate
2. Writing
3. Movies

1. Drink Pepsi
2. Eat Skittles
3. Fast forward to June

1. Attorney
2. Pundit
3. Fish Farmer

1. New Zealand
2. Arecibo, Puerto Rico
3. A world tour of straight cable bridges

1. Melissa Friday
2. Jordan Jeffrey
3. I imagine there will be some pressure for Leo Hap

1. Ignore, completely without guilt, a survey sent to me in my email.
2. Play in a family ultimate game
3. Discover how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop (the owl says it is only 3, I don’t believe him).

1. I would never make someone blog under threat of pain
2. I should say Andrea for calling my quiz ridiculous, make her do it again
3. Anyone who has read the blog and not left a comment.

I hope that is more fun to read than it was to fill out.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Extreme Home Makeover

I have to confess to being enamored with ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I think it must be the combination of shop affinity with the theatrical install pace of the whole thing. After years of This Old House and Hometime its nice to see the genre finally be ready for prime time. Even if in order to get there it also has to be just a little bit unreal. I've been watching from the start because I wanted to see what they would do with Ty from TLC's Trading Spaces which also had a phase with me, as well as While You Were Out, & Clean Sweep. All fun stuff, you should check them out.

I guess I have since abandoned the TLC shows to make room in my television consumption for the Discovery Channel shows: Monster House, Monster Garage, and even American Chopper. I guess in some ways its just nicer to watch professionals working as opposed to homeowners. That, and the behavior of people on the Discovery shows is much closer to how people really behave in the field. Students watch Monster House and come away flabbergasted and I can't wait to tell them that they are as likely as not to wind up working for one of those guys once they graduate. Just a tiny little "Welcome to my world" moment.

I am wondering though if Home Edition is somehow a bad thing. Is there a possibility that people with problems are going to get to the point that rather than solving them that they wait for a TV producer to come along? House a mess? Wait for Clean Sweep. Overweight? Go on The Biggest Loser. Hole in your roof? Call in Extreme Makeover. Doesn't it at some level start to make people think that someone else is going to address their very real problems?

Don't get me wrong, the people that have been on Home Edition have all been very deserving. I think it will soon become a mantra when things get tough: "well, it's bad, but its not like the Extreme Home Makeover people are coming." These people's lives have all been devastated. At the end of the show this week I noticed that there is someone charged as "Family Casting." I guess this is the person that has the lucky job of going through what must now be millions of application videos and separating them into three piles: "truly pathetic", "not really pathetic enough", & "cry me a river." Talk about something to keep your own life in perspective. How would you like to be the family who's house burned down, mother lost her job, and father is shipping off to Iraq who don't get the home makeover because your life wasn't quite as hard as the people who's house was blown over by a tornado, dad lost his job, mom is shipping off to Iraq, and son has leukemia. Make no mistake, these are the major leaguers of hardship.

So yes, they are doing great things for deserving people. Still while asserting that, there is this little feeling that perhaps heaping all of that love on one family is exposing something. We have to be talking about millions of dollars here, and that was before it became somewhat traditional to pay off the family's mortgage as well. Tonight they build the family two houses, got the son an engagement ring for his fiance, made them a wedding, and gave them a $50,000 check to start their lives together, and of course every family gets a 7 day dream vacation while all the work is happening.

Is it just me, or can there even be an excess to charitable giving? All of the sponsors are quick to parade their logos in front of the cameras on the show. I saw the TrussJoist logo tonight, so I gather they likely donated some beams. The General Contracting company gets several plugs, and what amounts now to a two hour prime time network commercial. Sears donates tools and appliances. By the end of the season Sears will have donated something like, well I don't know, but I am sure on the last episode of the season their weekly "thank you for letting us be part of this makeover" commercial will tell me. But lets get real; Home Edition & its sponsors aren't Habitat For Humanity. It is still just TV and winning the lottery, not really charity.

I guess I shouldn't bash. They do a wonderful thing and change peoples lives. But every week I wonder if they would scale the effort down and not give so many pile on gifts at the end just how many more desperately needful people they could help. They gave one person tonight what was likely a $5000 ring, a vacation, and a house - all on top of the house they built for his parents. Couldn't the $50,000 nest egg have found a more deserving home? Maybe not, and again I don't want to diminish the giving or the graciousness with which all the families have received everything, but the thought is always there - do all of these families need 5 plasma TV's? Wouldn't it make more sense to auction the plasmas, buy them standard TVs, and donate the rest of the money to the community?

Two other wrinkles...

I assume that the families must sign some sort of agreement that says they won't sell. In most cases I would think that while the new house is great, they could sell it and the contents, pick a more modest but absolutely fabulous house, and walk away with a six figure profit. I haven't heard anything on the news about Extreme Makeover houses popping up on Ebay. Maybe the families aren't as cynical as I am.

How long do you think until we hear this on the news:

Last night in Smalltown, USA a family who had just endured a tragedy was forced to endure another. The Smith's had just found out last week that Mr. Smith has cancer and then yesterday their house burned down. Upon further investigation arson investigators discovered that the blaze had been intentionally set by the Smith's 6 year old son. Apparently the child was unhappy with his room and had figured the combination of a fire and a parent's illness might be enough to get them onto Extreme Makeover Home Edition. ABC television, which airs the program, declined the opportunity to comment.

Not possible, or just a matter of time?

Um, That's Not What I Remember

I don't think this one worked too well:

You scored as Goth.



Drama nerd










Ghetto gangsta




What's Your High School Stereotype?
created with

Really it looks like I wasn't much of anything. Of course, there's no "Band Geek" catagory.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

A Win is a Win

Let's hope the next two Steelers games are not quite the nail biter this one turned out to be.

GO STEELERS (or in Yinzerese: Ghost Tellers!)

Say What?

With this past weeks end for the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it seems appropriate to go back and look at what our leaders told us. Some snippetts of that can be found here: Zac Attack.

Let us not forget the best quote - which isn't on his page:

"The President doesn't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud" - Condoleeza Rice

I bet that tested well at some marketing firm.

I've said before that I thought we were getting a royal sales job in the run up. Perhaps because this turned out to be such a costly misdirection people will have their heads up for the next time. John Stewart has posited that someone in the administration is bound to come up with: "Since there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, they must be hiding in another country."

Don't be snowed when they tell us which country they'd like to go look in next. And don't let the same kind of rhetoric fool you regarding social security or the tax code. These people are weasels.

I think I will add Zac as a blog I read. I've been back there a few times now. He's got a nice news sensibility.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Round 1 David Trivia Answers

Ok, round one of David Trivia is over. Here are the scores:

Val: 2
Donna: 2
Sarah: 3
Nicole & Becca: 5
Peg: 6 (on the honor system as she didn't give any answers, just a score)
Andrea: 7

Andrea had to have had at least one fortunate guess - makes me think Peg should have answered everything, might have done better that way. So the winner of a post of her own and a dinner at the waterfront is: Andrea.

Thank you to everyone who played. Look for another installment in the future. Answers to this entry are listed below...

1. g. Donna is a friend of mine from this second go around in Pittsburgh. She is a very smart doctor.
2. l. Kelly is a friend from Maine State Music theatre and then later in Las Vegas. She works for the O show.
3. k. Katie is a friend of mine from high school who I have unfortunately lost track of.
4. m. Lisa is also a second go around in Pittsburgh friend.
5. h. Heather is another MSMT friend. She works for ETC.
6. s. Traci is a friend from Junior High School, perhaps from grade school. She is a Chicago area teacher and Real Estate agent.
7. n. LJ, who I will always call Jessie is a friend from high school that I really made in college. She's a photographer in New Mexico.
8. e. Christina is a friend from my first go around in Pittsburgh.
9. p. Peg is a friend from MSMT. She currently manages Lincoln Center (ok, maybe that's a bit of an overstatement) and is the author of The Palmyra Sliver.
10. i. Hedge is a friend from MSMT. She's out of the business and making crafts for a living. She is the author of My Soap Box.
11. c. Carrie is a rock star. She's a friend from Chicago Scenic Studios. She's come to class to lecture on Event Management.
12. t. Trinity and I met in Las Vegas when her name was Daisy. I stole her away from her mother and five siblings to come live with me. Recently she recovered from cancer.
13. j. Jessica is my sister, very cool, and an NYC Actress, perhaps you've seen her in something.
14. b. Cami is a friend from high school who I have lost track of. I did find an internet page while looking for a photo which suggests she is married and has two children.
15. r. Stevie is a friend from the Yale School of Drama and then later from in Chicago. Once she worked for my mother at Apple Tree. Now she is a successful attorney.
16. d. Celeste is my current student assistant at CMU, when she can find time for me. She is slaving over a thesis I should not have approved. If anyone knows anything about the management structures of Broadway theatre she would love to hear from you.
17. a. April is my former student assistant at CMU. She is also President of the David Fan Club. Now she is out in Cali running the film business.
18. q. Steph is another former CMU student. She was the only student to pass my first CAD mastery the first time. She is also the Secretary of the David Fanclub. She freelances in NYC as a lighting designer and electrician.
19. o. Melissa Etheridge and I have a relationship going back to my junior year of undergrad, although she was never aware of it. These days it seems clear that she knows my face, but still has no idea who I am.
20. f. Debi is a friend from high school, college, and now again this go around in Pittsburgh. Once a stage manager, Debi is now a physician and Liz Bradley's personal hero.

Well, I imagine this is likely the longest post so far. Perhaps the next round won't have as many images.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Knot Dating

I do this thing in rigging class where I have the students spend a class session teaching each other how to tie various knots. So that there is a structure to the session I decided to copy the idea of "speed dating" where you have two groups and everyone has a "date" for like 7 minutes and then switches.

I guess I've done it four times now. The first year it happened with no hoopla. From then on I made it into an event, with a theme. I do the assignment sheets as invitations, with envelopes. We decorate the room and get refreshments, and the students dress up for the theme. Last year was "Cabana Theme."

The first two years we did "black tie" knot dating.

I'm looking for a new theme. I asked a bunch of people for suggestions. Here's what I have so far:
  • i think we should do a polar or arctic theme - ski bunnies, shredded toilet paper on the ground for snow, hot cocoa with marshmallows...
  • Knot Dating at the circus: come dressed as your favorite circus character
  • retro knot dating - dress like it's 1983 (or some other ambiguous year)
  • dress like your favorite professor (or student)
  • Under the Sea - Always a classic!
  • Knot your Mamma's Dating, son
  • Hot of Knot?
  • Knot Tonight
  • Tie the Knot
  • You're Knot Yourself
  • Knot on your life
  • How to Date!.....Knot!
  • Winter Wonderland

Last time I thought about it I think maybe I was leaning toward "Outer Space" but I'm not sure what that would mean.

Anyone got any other ideas?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Who Are These People?

Its been one month since I started running the hitmap:

2208 visits in 30 days? In a million years I would not have thought this site would get that many hits. My understanding is that a "visit" is a unique IP. The counter does page views and there have already been 1185 page views since 1/2/05. Unbelievable!

Maybe I really should think about doing the Google AdSense thing.

I guess maybe its not as epic as it sounds. A lot of people have rotating IPs. Anyone with dial-up, I think most people with DSL - I know I have a rotating IP at home. So that would mean that one person checking every day would be 30 hits all by themselves, and I, who check a bunch of times every day could even be more - depending on when my IP actually rolls over. 2208 in a month is like 74 hits a day. I imagine that's something like 30 regular readers.

I've only seen maybe 9-10 different people on the tag board or in comments. I wonder who all these visits are?

Well, whoever you are, thanks for reading.

Only Two Days Left!

Time is running out to play the first round of David Trivia.

I think I will post answers on Friday. So far only one brave soul has taken a stab at actual answers (although she might want to look at the list of names again).

I guess I need to up the stakes. Winner gets a full entry to recognize their achievement and a free dinner at the Waterfront next time it is convenient.

Good luck.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Why can't they find my box?

So with the start of a new semester I have a question. It is something I struggle with year after year and it defies explanation: Why can't students find my mailbox?

Inevitably during the course of the semester someone will have something to turn in and forget to do it during class. I always tell people that in that case they should put their work in my faculty mailbox at the front of the building. For some reason this instruction never seems to sink in.

First choice for people that can't find the box is to put work under the door. This of course means it is on the floor of my office and the cleaning guy from CPS is fairly likely to throw it away.

Next they either roll the thing up and tuck it into the door handle or lean it up against the door in the hallway. Inevitably this means the work winds up on the floor in the hallway and then we have the garbage problem again. Additionally this particular method leaves the work available for anyone who comes along to take it, or change it, or copy it.

Often in these cases students email me the work. This seems like a good alternative as it isn't vulnerable and it even comes timestamped. Unfortunately the creating of the output is part of the assignment, and if it is submitted electronically then they've never had to actually get the printer to do what I assigned. Also, this has a lovely tendency of maxing out my inbox so I can't get any email at all.

Sometimes, if they can't find me students turn in their work to another faculty member and ask them to give it to me. I guess this is better than some of the other ways - but they ought to know that sometimes its weeks before I actually get the thing.

Is it so hard to walk up to the lobby and use the mailbox? That's what its there for. I just don't understand.


I almost forgot. I got this when I got up today:

OUTSTANDING way to start the day.

Play the blogsound, do a dance. Maybe I should have a party. Housewarming/Student loan payoff/Steeler superbowl party maybe.

It's so nice to finally own my own brain and its contents.

Monday, January 10, 2005

E-Sheets and Output Gods

In this day and age, is there anything that really has to be on an E-Sheet?

I do as much work as possible on C-Sheets, you know, something that might fit on a desk. E-Sheets are more appropriate for say covering your car when it snows. I ran some output the other day. A three drawing package, on 3 E-Sheets, a .pdf file, generated from Vectorworks - which would be a different rant.

If there are going to be 3 sheets wouldn't it be ok to to more, smaller sheets? I can almost understand trying to get everything on one page. Many people might tell you I am to a certain amount obsessed with trying to get everything on one page, but once you roll over the one page line can't you start thinking about smaller sheets?

I could understand an argument that goes "its a working drawing, and these things need to be in that relationship and in a reasonable scale in order to do the work." But if the drawings are computer generated it is possible to maintain those relationships in the model, and scale is moot. Neither has anything to do with output.

This is I guess one of those things that is simply tradition, and won't change. I should not be cranky about it. I probably would not have been set off if they had been vector files. But consider the file size of a 48"x36" raster image - even a fairly compact image like a .pdf. It took more then an hour to print three pages. rrr. Files that big anger the printing gods. I had to get out my chicken bones - and thank goodness nobody was there to see the dancing.

That deserves an explanation. Drawing output turns out to be a recurring problem. In a multi-platform, multi-user (especially student user) environment you just have to assume you're going to have problems. I explain to classes that sometimes things just won't work and even after you get it to work you won't know what was wrong. That happened to me this time. The first couple of times I sent the file it processed from the app, went through the network, processed in the plotter, and then simply vanished: poof! So I played with this and that and eventually got the thing to work, but I couldn't tell you what the problem actually was.

Inevitably it has something to do with the game of telephone that the app plays with the OS plays with the network plays with the output hardware, complicated by memory and processing restrictions for very large files.

Or, it could be angry output gods.

Seems like just as reasonable a reason sometimes. In class I sometimes explain that you're just as likely giving some sort of sacrifice or demonstration of faith to the output gods as doing anything else - strip down and dance around the plotter clicking chicken bones. It's a joke, but sometimes it really feels like it might be more effective.

I have a personal campaign against E-Sheets. In my classes I cap acceptable output at D-Sheets. Join my crusade, save a tree, pacify the output gods.


I got my '05 Melissa calendar today.

I've had the '03 calendar up in my office on December for a whole year. Then people at MEIN didn't do a regular calendar last year, just a poster. This one is half "Lucky" tour shots and half set-ups. Pretty cool. Some of the pictures look like ones I took on the tour after "Breakdown." Although I'll never really know, as the best shots I got were on the roll they took from me at The Joint at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas.

Is being a fan like this dysfunctional? Is there something wrong with me? I looked for an online quiz to help figure it out...

You're A Tomboy!

You dress pretty casual and you have short hair
that's pretty easy to style. You are probably
frequently mistaken for a young boy. You are
very passionate and fall in love easily.

What Kind Of Lesbian Stereotype Are You???
brought to you by Quizilla

Well, I guess that's the best I could have hoped that to turn out.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

HR&I End Phase One

So today we put things back together. Whatcha think:

There's still stuff to do. The curtains are temporary, we're going to do the plantation blinds. We need to hang pictures; and there stuff to buy: a rug, a chair, a new cocktail table, matching end tables, and some lamps. But it is livable again, and I think about 1000 times better than before.

Political Leanings

This was is particularly good because it identified Marisa as a Republican.

You Are a "Don't Tread On Me" Libertarian

You distrust the government, are fiercely independent, and don't belong in either party.

Religion and politics should never mix, in your opinion... and you feel opressed by both.

You don't want the government to cramp your self made style. Or anyone else's for that matter.

You're proud to say that you're pro-choice on absolutely everything!

For the record, I am a registered independent.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Home Repair & Improvement V

Today Mr. Hines came to be a special guest home improver. While he called people to deal with the squirrels in his attic, we pulled up the carpet.

And just like that... Hardwood floor. The angsting may end, the floor is in pretty good shape. At least as good as we could have hoped for, no surprise holes, no chalk outline; just a bunch of staple holes, a few scratches, and some goo from the carpet pad.

Add outlet covers and white paint on the baseboard and you come up with a very successful day on the job.

David Trivia

How much do you know about David? Match each of the pictures to the corresponding name below. Post your answer as a comment and I'll post the key soon.

Here's a bunch of cool women I know:

1. 2. 3.
4. 5. 6.
7. 8. 9.
10. 11. 12.
13. 14. 15.
16. 17. 18.
19. 20.

a. April__b. Cami__c. Carrie____d. Celeste__e. Christina
f. Debi__g. Donna__h. Heather__i. Hedge___j. Jessica
k. Katie__l. Kelly___m. Lisa____n. LJ_____o. Melissa
p. Peg___q. Steph__r. Stevie____s. Traci___t. Trinity

Have the big fun!