Monday, February 28, 2005

Car shopping

My truck has 110000 or so miles on it. Since about 75000 I've been thinking about buying a new one. This weekend I actually got enough momentum to go out and test drive a couple. We looked at this one:

The Nissan

and at this one:

The Ford

I have to say, that shopping for cars is a fairly crappy experience. I think this comes from when you go, and when they are ready to talk to you. I mean, if you just want to look around then the sales people aren't too keen to talk to you, and if you are serious enough to actually want a test drive, well then they are too keen to talk to you.

Since we did want to feel what it was like to drive these things, and to sit in the back seats of each of them we did want to test drive. And then after going through the trouble of the test drive we did kind of want to know what the thing would cost. So we would up sitting at dealer desks for much longer than I think either of us intended on.

Interestingly, cars only have a price today. They can't tell you what the price will be tomorrow. Really that's a misstatement. Car's only have a price now. After now, well that's just speculation.

Now I know why people like to shop with Saturn.

We never did get a price from the Nissan guy. After about a half hour conversation he told us that if we weren't buying today that we should just go to the web site. The Ford guy didn't even really ask, but more told us he was going to tell his manager that if it was the right price we would buy right then. That at least got us a figure.

They took my keys so the guy could look over my truck for the trade in value. Marisa thinks they do it so that you can't leave.

Once we got the figure we did the "I have to go talk to the manager" thing. Then we actually got to talk to the manager. Then the manager went away to get his absolutely best price. But we got away anyway.

Today the salesguy called three times saying they think they found us another couple of bucks a month off the payment. Interestingly, without really thinking about it we'd chiseled about $3600 off the price of the vehicle just by trying to leave. I think it had something to do with being the end of the month, but its a tactic I will have to remember.

In the meantime I think we want to look at the Chevy and a Toyota, and maybe another Mazda - as the one I have has done pretty well for me. I hope it has the miles left to get me through a decision.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Life's little ironies

Sometimes things just make you smirk a little:

I know one ought not be pleased at what must be a terrible moment within the Keyes family, but I can't help but think wicked thoughts.

Last summer, when it was all the rage to talk about Dick Cheney's daughter (excuse me, Dick Cheney's LESBIAN daughter), Keyes called homosexuality "selfish hedonism," and said:

"If my own daughter were a homosexual or a lesbian, I would love my daughter, but I would tell my daughter that she was in sin,"

Guess they'll get to have that conversation now.

If this were an idea

Someone would have already thought of it.

Everyone ought to glance at the article that was posted in the comments on the Hybrid Hysteria post a couple of days ago:

It is a lovely piece, fraught with possibilities.

The thing really got me thinking about the idea of little collectives of drivers partnering with fast food restaurants to use their discarded fry oil as motor fuel. Its a lovely thought.

Then I started thinking like this: you will want a regular source of oil, and the restaurant will want a regular source of disposal, and this stuff likely spoils doesn't it? So you don't want to stockpile the stuff yourself in your garage or you are just deferring the disposal problem the restaurant had in the first place. Ok, well what if you had a bio-diesel generator at your house, and you took your surplus oil and converted it into electricity for your home. You could either use it immediately, store it in a battery, or if my recollection is correct in a lot of cases the electric company has to credit you for any surplus energy you contribute to the grid.

So, problem solved.

Except, if this works, why doesn't every McDonald's and Hooters and the rest, why doesn't every place that has to dispose of waste vegetable oil have their own bio-diesel generator? The savings to a large corporation like McDonald's would have to be impressive. I mean, why aren't the people in the fry-o-lator business not in the bio-diesel generator business?

It must not really be that simple.

Plus, don't you have the nagging feeling that as soon as some critical mass of people wanted the waste oil that the people that had it would start to sell it to you rather than give it to you for nothing? I think that the appeal of this thing isn't just that its green, but rather that since it essentially uses garbage that at the moment the fuel is practically free. Does it remain as attractive when the fuel becomes a commodity?

I wonder.

There ought to be a law.

Truth be told, I think there was for some period of time.

I don't know what it is about my demographic, but its getting to the point where I can't watch commercial TV anymore. Now I am sure out there in the blogosphere that Peg, and Rachel, and Val and all the rest of you non-TV watchers are having a little giggle at my expense, but its true. Some of the commercials currently running on TV must be stopped.

First off there's that "Its all about the O" ad. For me that commercial is all about how fast I can change the channel its so annoying. Someone should let them know that the only behavior elicited in me by that ad, aside from wretching, is the guaranteed resolve to never look anything up on that website, ever.

Next, we must dispense will all the hard-on ads. If there is even a single person in these United States that is unaware they can ask their doctor for a pill to help them put some lead in their pencil - well, that person is not watching TV. I swear, if Ted Kaczynski were still in his Luddite shack even he would be tired of seeing Mike Ditka throw a football through a tire.

Frankly I think we were better off with no advertisements on television for prescription drugs. I guess that's fairly unlibertarian of me, an inherent restraint of trade, but I just think it doesn't do anyone any good. People watching commercials shouldn't be picking what prescription drugs to take. That should be left to doctors on all expense paid trips with pharmaceutical reps like back in the good old days. Besides, you can't convince me that the cost of all this advertising isn't actually making drugs more expensive.

Whatever the reason was to let these ads on the air, it was a crappy reason.

Even an outright ban on prescription ads wouldn't get rid of the overall champion annoying ad. Its that one that always airs in back to back 30 second ads touting "Natural Male Enhancement." If you pay real close attention you'll notice that there is fine print specifically saying this isn't a drug, its a nutritional supplement. Using more historically appropriate language we would call this "snake oil." We all ought to be ashamed.

The worst part here is that for most of this stuff I don't think you could even threaten a boycott. Usually when there is an offensive TV show, people boycott the advertiser. What are we supposed to do when there are offensive commercials?

I guess I will have to buy a book.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Kids Today

Here's a couple of articles I have been hanging onto like some kind of virtual pack rat for a while now:

The first one talks about grading at Princeton. They have so much trouble with grade inflation and an unrepresentative curve that they may take drastic measures:

"In a move students protested last year, Princeton became the first elite college to cap the number of A's that can be awarded.

Previously, there was no official limit to the number of A's handed out, and nearly half the grades in an average Princeton class have been A-pluses, A's or A-minuses. Now, each department can give A's to no more than 35% of its students each semester."

So no matter how well you do in a course, if you don't make the top 35% you don't get an A.

We have had a similar issue here at CMU, with some ridiculous percentage of Drama students (in the neighborhood of 80%) turning up on the Dean's list semester after semester. Recently, we've been instructed to try to reclaim the "D." In our culture of late a C is the same as a D is the same as an R for all practical purposes. This jams us up in several ways, and I have thought that since it compresses everyone's evaluation to the top of the scale that not only do we lose the D, but we've actually made an A less special.

We're not doing anything as drastic as Princeton, but I must say I see the appeal.

The second article talks about how the last 15-20 years of parenting theory may have been off base. It says that the era of soccer games with no score being kept and trophies for everyone regardless of performance may be detrimental to these kids functioning in an adult world:

To be clear, self-esteem is important to healthy development. Kids who hold themselves in poor stead are thought to be most vulnerable to trouble — from low academic achievement to drug abuse or crime. For those from disadvantaged backgrounds, the stakes may be higher and the needs even greater. But empty praise — the kind showered on many kids years ago in the name of self-esteem — did more harm than good.

The article talks about how people who have never really been criticized prior to college fold up under relatively weak feedback because they don't know how to deal with it. Apparently the effects are not limited to school either, as they cite employers who have new hires wondering why they are not promoted in short order even though they have done nothing to distinguish themselves.

I really do see this every day.

A 1991 teacher training session in the Houston area taught the evils of red ink and told teachers to pick another color, says Pat Green, a teacher since 1982.

"They said it had a very negative impact, because red is so symbolic of wrong answers," she says.

Some also said grammar and spelling errors should be overlooked so students wouldn't be discouraged from writing, Green says. "It was so 'don't damage their self-esteem' to the point where you would praise things that weren't very good."

The result of that type of practice has turned out to be college students who don't really write at a high school level, and an entire population who improperly personalize feedback. Students who become defensive in the face of criticism, and believe that in not accepting work as is that instructors are in some way not accepting the student, that teachers don't have the student's best interest at heart. Makes things sorta difficult in the classroom.

At least there's some consciousness of the thing. Interestingly the article does make room for shifting of opinion, that 20 years from now maybe we'll realize that the whole self esteem thing will have been a good idea after all. Just goes to show that the more we think we know, the less we really know about anything.

Chris Rock racist?

Are you kidding me?

Legislators are calling for the resignation of a Florida official because he showed a clip from Rock's HBO show called "How To Not Get Your Ass Kicked By The Police." Apparently these legislators don't think this is appropriate material for a meeting with the NAACP, although reportedly nobody from the meeting complained.

I have to say I think that this bit is tame compared with the "Blacks and Niggers" routine he did on his first HBO special "Bring the Pain." I've often wondered why HBO always re-runs "Bigger & Blacker" while shelving the first one. I've always thought the first one was stronger. Rock was on 60 Minutes recently in a run up to Sunday's Oscars and said that they got so many complaints about that bit that he's never done it since.

That's too bad. People ought to recognize satire as commentary and not perceive it as threatening or as offensive - or in the very least there ought to be a sort of "eat your peas" recognition that even though it might cut you that it is still good for you.

Hopefully this group in Florida will get it sooner or later.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Hybrid Hysteria

For something like 40,000 miles now I have been thinking about buying a new car. Every now and then I think that my next car ought to be a hybrid. Usually though I remember that at the moment there really aren't any hybrid pickup trucks and the idea goes away.

For the next model year there will be a hybrid SUV. There is a version of the Ford Escape that will be offered as a hybrid. I heard someone talking about this on the radio tonight ("The Allegheny Front" went to the Pittsburgh Auto Show) and so my ears perked up. Mostly it seemed like they were explaining why you might not want to buy a hybrid now.

They were awfully excited to point out that the new Accord hybrid only manages 7 MPG better than the straight gasoline model. The guy they were talking to on the show floor didn't think that might be worth the investment and wondered rhetorically how many miles you would have to drive to make up the $4000 price difference. Making some estimates about mileage I came up with a figure:

225,500 miles.

So you are going to have to own your hybrid for quite some time. Which lead to the next question. The new Prius has six batteries, each about the size of a loaf of bread. This lead one show vistor to start thinking about maintenance costs. The Toyota rep explained that it wasn't really a problem because the batteries were warranted to 8 years or 100,000 miles.

But what is you had to drive, say, 225,500 miles?

Turns out that outside the period of the coverage each battery currently costs $7,000 to replace. I don't know what this thing lists for, but if it has $42,000 worth of batteries in it, I probably can't afford it.

The rep was quick to point out that that was the current price, and that by the time the 8 years were up the cost would have certainly come down.

Anyone remember what they told us about CDs when they came out at $15/disk?

So this thing you are going to have to drive right into your grave is also going to cost you a few bucks. Still, it will use less gas overall and is probably better for the environment (if you don't think about where all those dead batteries are going to wind up). Maybe there should be some help, some incentive to buy a hybrid?

It turns out that there is an incentive. You can get a $2,000 tax deduction for buying a clean running vehicle. However, you have to hurry, because in a way I am sure makes sense to them, congress has cut off that deduction as of the end of 2005 - although it does exist in 2006 as a $500 write off. Somehow I don't think they are taking the hybrid idea too seriously in Washington.

All of this made me come up with what I believe is a sure fire business opportunity. I am going to start selling little plastic signs and little vinyl graphics that say "Hybrid." People I think will jump at the chance to have all that social cashe without having to part with all of their own cash.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

National Security

Ray Salverda

  • teaches stagecraft, theatre effects, and production management
  • freelance project and production manager
  • worked with Soulpepper Theatre, Great Lakes Scenic Studios, the Blyth Festival, Huron County Playhouse, Canadian Stage, and the Manitoba Theatre Centre
  • has toured extensively throughout Canada and the USA

Ray is this guy who has really helped us out at the Drama School over the last couple of years. Two years ago he was our Production Manager, and last season and this year he's been providing some spot management when we get monumentally busy. Everyone really likes him and he does a fantastic job. He has only one failing...

...he is (shudder) Canadian.

As you can imagine, working in Pittsburgh while residing with his family in Canada has been difficult. He has to maintain a residence out of a hotel here in town, spend big blocks of time away from his family, and make frequent, longish trips between assignments.

This last bit has turned out to be more difficult than one might anticipate. On top of the other difficulties with the job arrangement, Ray has also had to deal with being perceived as some kind of insurgent.

Today, while trying to return to Pittsburgh to help us complete our tech process on the America Play Rep (no irony here) Ray was turned away at the border by US Homeland Security personnel. Seems frequent border crossings are a red flag, and someone at immigration was afraid he was up to no good.

I can not tell you how comforted I am, and how much safer I now feel, just knowing that our government is out there protecting us from foreign production managers.

Link of the Day

I haven't done a link of the day in quite a while, although I have been weeding the list a little, even though there still are a couple of dead links there. This came up the other day and I actually used it so I think it makes a great link of the day. Here it is:

This site lets you take any existing image you might have of text and get the font that it is written in. Its a great way to find out what you are doing if you need to add to a document which has text as a graphic so you can't tell by highlighting it what font it is written in.

Pretty cool.

Sunday, February 20, 2005


This year I am doing three things for USITT. I am on the Tech Expo committee, and will be assisting with that display. I am on a knot tying panel, for which I believe I will be a roving knot tying tutor. The biggest commitment is that I am chairing a panel on shipping and trucking called "Get your show on the road."

I don't know if anyone that reads this is not on my email distribution, but in case someone is, I have been soliciting topic requests for the session. I'll do so again here.

If you were attending a panel presentation about trucking, what question would you hope to have answered?

Some things people have already suggested:

My questions would be about overseas shipping and/or crossing borders in North America and the best way to handle those situations; customs info, shipping size and shape for overseas cargo, additional taxes or fees, that sort of thing.

I'd love to hear if any of these companies are looking into cost-saving measures such as using biodiesel fuel and/or used vegetable oil and making the minor modification to their diesel engine

Add a UPS rep to explain the difference between zones AND UPS Orange, Sat Del X-tra charges, the 3 different times for delivery of overnight packages, COD charges, etc. etc.

the way things are oriented in the trucks, and how they are loaded in
regards to what goes up/comes down first is key

What is an acceptable tip for truck drivers who perform excellent service?

In some areas (mainly west coast) there are roads that trucks can not
get down. Is it the responsibility of the tour, the location (venue)
they are going to, or the trucking company to be aware of these roads
and make the proper adjustments along the way?

1) How to Properly Use Truck Logistics, i.e. rachet straps, load bars, packing blankets, ramps.
2) Drop Floor Pack vs. Flat Floor Pack
3) "Double-packing" with a load bar shelf
4) Load Limits and Proper Weight Distribution

We have all heard the stories of containers falling off ships at sea, does
this really happen all that often or is this a myth?

I think if I were to attend one of these sessions, I
would want to learn more about import/export procedures taxes, duties, and
commercial invoices (manifests).

The age old favorite, "what is the size of the truck?"

I think we could likely get to all of this and more. Anyone else got thoughts about what might be a good thing to talk about?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Pete Foy 1926-2005

From Joe McGeough at Foy Inventerprises:

On a sad note I would like to inform you of the passing of Peter Foy
Thursday February 17th, he was 79. He was a legend.......One of the things
that impressed me most about Peter was the fact that one week he would work
on a production at the Metropolitan Opera, and the next week he would be at
a community theatre in Texas. I can't even imagine how many lives he
touched, or how many people he inspired to get into the entertainment
business. I know that I have encountered many people, actors, technicians,
and people in everyday life who have worked with him; and they all respond
with fond memories.

We will all miss him.........

We certainly will.

Friday, February 18, 2005

New Contest

A regular reader says:

"Using only search words that aren't proper names (or the url), can you get Dave's blog to come up as the first result? The fewer terms the better.

Or, is there a search that will bring up only one hit - Dave's blog?"

The second circumstance is called a Googlewhack. Except that a Googlewhack is also limited to a two word search, and no quotation marks.

I immediately tried "Carnegie Weasel USITT" and got only my site to come up on a Yahoo search. So it is possible, although "Carnegie" and "USITT" are arguably proper names. Google gives me more trouble, so maybe that should be a parameter as well.

So that's the contest...

Using Google, and the shortest number of keywords, with no quotes or proper names (or urls), who can get the highest ranked result for this blog (any entry). Ties will be broken by the highest ranking hit first, least number of keywords second and the least total number of hits last.

Same prize as last time, your own entry with a lovely photo (which you will need to supply), and dinner at the Waterfront - eventually.

Have fun.

Test Wise Answers

Not too many guesses at the Test Wiseness questions. I guess that's ok, I didn't answer them at the seminar. I think that at some level you read the nonsense and don't want to be the one that gets it wrong and then finds out you're an idiot.

Ben did very well though.

The point of this thing was to help us develop test questions (items) that didn't give away the answers and that had good wrong answers (distractors). This little exam demonstrates some of the problems with bad items and distractors. They presented it to us at the top of the day before we started writing items.

The answers go: ABCDAB. Which in and of itself is a bad thing because it is a pattern. They told us that regardless of the letter of the right answer in the items we were writing, they would go through and change the percentages of each letter to make them equal and then totally randomize the order. So people looking for patterns will be out of luck, and someone trying the "answer with all B's" method will get a 25%.

I assume a 25% will not pass. We set that at the next meeting I think.

So, here are the clues that tip the answers:

  • Question one has part of the answer (key) in the question (stem). They told us not to do that.
  • Question two has only one choice that works grammatically. Dead give away. It apparently doesn't matter that "an" goes with "A."
  • In question three, all the distractors are absolute and the key is conditional. We were told that it is hard to write a truly defensible multiple choice question where the key can be absolute - someone can always think of the one exception. Therefore absolute distractors are a telltale.
  • Answer D to question four has more qualifications than the others. This is another give away for the same reason as above - trying to be specific enough.
  • Question five has the same issue: two conditions next to distractors with one.
  • Question six is a well designed question, except if it is on the same test as question two. This is called "cluing," when you can use the text of one question to answer another one.

I have to say that in the case of the last example I sometimes find myself cluing on purpose on exams I have written for my classes. It was the sort of thing I was taught to try to do when I was taking tests in school. My students notice it with surprisingly little frequency.

So that was most of the "workshop." In addition to this they also said that "all of the above" and "none of the above" were bad keys because they typically have a higher percentage of being true.

I had this Bio teacher in High School who gave multiple choice tests with 8 keys: four answers and then "two of the above," "three of the above," "all of the above", and "none of the above." I'll have to ask next time if that is a reasonable construction.

Thanks again to the people at AMP.

No pants

Ever wonder what a cat would look like lounging around the house with no pants?

Well, now you know.

Trinity went back to the uberVet this week. She was supposed to have another laptop worth of surgery to remove yet another tumor on her hip (you can kinda see it, right at the top of the old scar). They had her all sedated and clipped - obviously - when the guy called me and said that he didn't think he would be able to get the whole thing.

Not removing the whole tumor means that we're basically only buying three months or so. Her prognosis without the surgery at all is something inside a year. So under these circumstances it would have meant extending that to something inside of 15 months. The rub is that this surgery would have taken her leg. Under the circumstances I think 12 months with both legs is better than 15 months with one leg.

Maybe we'll get lucky and she'll just grow old with a tumor. It could happen.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

More Test Wiseness

From our friends at AMP. They're the people working with ETCP on the rigging certification - and where I've been going for those Kansas City meetings.

Explanations soon. Peg was right on the question I posted earlier. Got any guesses?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Did you know that the counter on this page tells me what page referred each viewer? If you click on the counter, and then on referrals, you should be able to see what I am talking about.

Most of them come up "unknown," which I assume means that whoever it was has the site bookmarked. There are the odd number of hits from Ellen, Val, Peg, and Andrea. There are quite a few from the blogger composing page, which I can only assume are me. There are also some from random other blogs, which I guess are from when people hit the "next blog" button on the top of most blogger pages.

The most interesting ones though are from the search engines. If there is a search engine page referrer and you follow that link, you can see what the person was searching for that lead them to you. Only once has this made any sense to me. Some time ago there was a search hit for "mydaddidntliketheurl." I guess that was someone that new the url, but didn't actually know the url.

Other ways though it is an interesting way to be reminded what you had been writing about. The other day I saw a hit on my page while searching for "American Standard Toilet." A while back I did an entry about a home improvement where I fixed the toilet and that's what the search engine found. Today I saw one there for "extreme home makeover goth" which hit my page because of something I wrote about the ABC show and on the same page there was a "what high school clique were you" quiz that didn't work very well.

I really only bring this up because yesterday there was a real high volume of hits on the page, and the referrals thing said it was because people were searching "etheridge grammys bald." A while back I crossposted a notice I got through a mailing list saying to watch the Grammys because Melissa would be presenting. The actual even must not have been covered very well, because if you searched it yesterday you didn't get the grammy page, and you didn't get the MEIN page. Mostly it was just some random web pages, and this blog came up third.

If you search it today I've been bumped considerably. But just in case, here's what people were looking for:

I am having all sorts of Star Trek the Movie flashbacks. Isn't that Commander Ilia?

I have to say I did think it was pretty brave to come out in such a public venue showing such a private victory. Truth be told I don't think people really knew what to do with it. In my head while I was watching I kept hearing the director telling them to point the camera at the singer with the hair. But maybe not.

She was real good that night. I will forever think she won't nail that song like she did one time I saw her in New Haven. But I think she got the hammer pretty solidly on the head at the Grammys. But I am not an impartial observer.

Today I saw a link to a story that said that she gave each of her kids a ponytail from her hair before she lost it all. That's pretty cool.

I wonder what the next search engine referral will be?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Guest Blogger

In honor of today, St. Valentine's Day, David has allowed me, Marisa, his intended bride, to blog.
As this is obviously a pretty heavy honor, the key here is to pick a topic that will allow me to be both charming and enlightening. But how best to display my agile mind and cunning wit?

Should I write about my general malaise surrounding V-day? Its never the special, incrediably romantic day you want it to because it can never live up to the expectations that are shoved into our heads by greeting card companies that this is the one day of the year to celebrate your relationship, rather than taking each day to celebrate the love in your life? (This is trite and overdone, in a very chick-lit kinda way.)

Or perhaps I should review the tasting menu we just sampled at Casbah? Overall, very good, but not blow-my-mind. Again, a meal that suffered from high expectations on a high expectation day. (What is this Iron Chef? We had a lovely dinner where we had brillant conversation and a cute little steak. What more is there to say?)

Perhaps I will write about my secret desire for David to change the concept of his blog over to a "How I worhsip Marisa" page? Then perhaps I wouldn't mind the countless hours he spends writing and editing his blog. ( I can't admit this because it would take away my biggest complaint-chip "You spend all your time writing in your blog! ")

Maybe I should write a summation of our relationship which is often noticebly absent from this blog, mostly because of my instance that I would not be living my life on the internet. (I guess if its at my instance, than I should just leave it be.)

Or maybe I won't wrote anything at all. Yet another wasted oppertunity to impress the world with my brillance. Oh well.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


No its not about breakfast. I'm not allowed to eat waffles.

I've been thinking about a lot of my answers to the posted questions. I feel like I waffled on most of them. Part of me feels like this is a good thing, that it is representative of a life that at the moment is fairly complete - without much longing for other things. Part of me feels like I just couldn't think of answers. Part of me feels like its a bad thing because I couldn't really commit to an answer, but mostly didn't care.

Its interesting to me that there isn't one thing I would like to undo, one person I would like to meet more than any other, one place I would rather live, or one thing I would rather be doing. All with the "all other things being equal" caviat.

Does this mean I am thrilled with the path I have taken to teaching college theatre in Pittsburgh and there's nothing else I would rather do, anywhere, with anyone? Is it functional to answer that question either affirmative OR negative?

Maybe its just that the priorities expressed in those questions don't cover the entire experience, and that my choices emphasize other ideals.

  1. What is the choice you have made in your life you are most proud of?
  2. Who is the single person you've ever met that was most exciting/important/inspirational to you?
  3. What is it about where you live that you like the most?
  4. What is it that draws you to what you do?
Phrased this way I think the questions I waffled on don't as much assume that there is something wrong, or missing, or unsatisfactory. But the way the other questions are laid out, especially trying to answer all of them at once, seems to imply a deficiency.

I know that being safe and content does not eliminate wants, I guess it's just more worth celebrating in and of itself before looking at what else could be.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Four Questions Answers

I guess I have let these things marinade long enough.

1. If you had the opportunity to meet one historical (as in real, not fictitious) person, living or dead, who would it be? ONE.
2. Who is the last person in the world who you'd like to trade places with?
3. What theatrical character (musical or play, either one) reminds you most of yourself?
4. If you were given a chance to do one thing in your life differently, what would it be?
# posted by Peg : 2:57 PM

1. I guess I really don't have a good answer for this. So many people equally interesting for absolutely unrelated reasons. Having to pick one from everyone doesn't seem like something I could come up with a reason for. One person? Douglas Adams.

2. Doesn't it seem like pretty much any person distinguished enough that I would know about them would be better off than someone that doesn't even get on the radar? This is like when that paper in Maine interviewed me about the Pickard theatre and wanted me to tell them what was bad about it and all I kept saying was "whatever theatre you are in, something about it would piss you off." Do I become this person? Or am I me, stuck in the life of this person? If I become the person, then I don't think this has any meaning. If I would have to be stuck in the life of that person, like some sort of "Being John Malkovich" thing, that might be unfortunate. How about any number of people currently residing at Camp X-Ray, Guantanámo Bay, Cuba? Robert Blake? Michael Jackson? I would hate to have my boss' job. Once I saw a video of a guy that worked at a Tyson chicken factory. His job was to drive a bulldozer under the mass chicken coops, cleaning out the poop on an industrial scale. I'd hate to be that guy. But then he has a job, and his family probably loves him - they'd have to with what he must smell like. I think maybe I would hate to be the guy that designed the insulation foam on the external tank of the Space Shuttle. To make a mistake on that big a stage would be devastating.

3. This is easier to do with movies: John Patterson in "The Ghost and the Darkness":

"I will kill the lion, and I will build the bridge"

or maybe John Cusak in "Better off Dead," or "Say Anything,":

"If you go through life just a little bit depressed, you're always pleasantly surprised."

or "High Fidelity." Although he's somewhat better looking. I have to say by the way that although I lived that last quote for quite some time that it isn't a good quote to live by. From a play? How about Alceste from "The Misanthrope":

"Meanwhile; betrayed and wronged in everything, I'll flee this bitter world where vice is king, And seek some spot unpeopled and apart Where I'll be free to have an honest heart."

Maybe less so with the medication.

4. Come to terms with the nature of being happy earlier.

1) If you could be doing anything other than whatever you're doing now, what would it be?
2) What is your biggest regret?
3) What is your biggest fear?
4) What kind of question/answer scenario would endanger our engagement?
# posted by Anonymous : 3:54 PM

1. Like right now? Anything besides answering these questions. Or like career now? Occasionally I like to think it would be better doing something that would make a real contribution. Politics, activism, research. People say that theatre and education do make a contribution. But often I am too close to see it. I have a pretty good gig ass it turns out.

2. When I was a student at CMU, living in Boss Hall, I saw a couple having sex in their room in Welch. Using the campus directory, I figured out the phone number and called, letting it ring until they stopped and picked up. Then I just hung up. They started up again and I called again. Finally they unplugged the phone. I have regretted this action for quite some time. It was pretty mean - although it didn't seem like it at the time.

3. I think I have a fairly persistent fear of being unprepared. I like to know what's coming, and what I am going to do.

4. Anything where a pro-forma response would require me to answer "my fiance" because there would be no way to know if it were spin.

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?
2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?
3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend except one. Which animal does not attend?
4. There is a river you must cross but it is inhabited by crocodiles. How do you manage it?
your old man

1. Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, close the refrigerator.
2. Open the refrigerator, remove the giraffe, put in the elephant, close the refrigerator.
3. The elephant, can't get out of the refrigerator.
4. Just swim across, the crocs are at the meeting.

1)What is your best memory of our friendship?
2)If you could live one place and still be as happy, healthy, and successful as you are now, where would it be?
3)What's one thing you fought for thinking it was right, or didn't fight for even though you thought it was right, and then regretted it later.
4)If life had a "do over" button, would you push it?
-H # posted by Anonymous : 9:59 AM

1. Lake George, Saratoga, Great Escape.
2. I liked Maui a lot, but I think I would answer "with my family."
3. I don't think I have any real regrets like this. Sometimes I regret the nature of my advocacy. From time to time the way I have gone after something has complicated the issue. I'm learning how not to do that. I had a recent ex, that I fought real hard when she wanted to break up, and then a couple of weeks later was like "what in the world was I thinking?" But I am not sure I would consider that regret. Mostly I think I am able to live with my decisions.
4. This one is problematic. I think if I knew I were about to die, and I had this option I might take it. If this meant that I would get to do things over again, knowing what I know now, like a "Peggy Sue Got Married" scenario, then I suppose there might be circumstances where it would be appealing. If the reasoning here is that I regret the path I have taken, or where I have wound up, then the answer is absolutely no.

FIRST QUESTION: You are participating in a race. You overtake the second person. What position are you in?
SECOND QUESTION: If you overtake the last person, then you are...?
THIRD QUESTION: Very tricky math! Note: This must be done in your head only Do NOT use paper and pencil or a calculator. Try it.Take 1000 and add 40 to it. Now add another 1000. Now add 30. Add another 1000. Now add 20. Now add another 1000. Now add 10. What is the total?
LAST QUESTION: Mary's father has five daughters: Nana, Nene, Nini, Nono. What is the name of the fifth daughter?
your old man

1. Second place
2. First place, you've lapped the last person (although I would argue that the possibility exists that you are now second to last and had simply been very very late starting the race).
3. 4100
4. Mary

Too much fun.

Friday, February 11, 2005

SME Meeting

ETCP rigging SME meeting... Dilbert style:

That hits it on the head pretty good.

New Banner

Another banner joins the stealth activism section of the margin today:

I'll do anything for Melissa.

I guess that the pink ribbons have been around for quite some time. This is also for breast cancer research. The money specifically donated in MLE's name.

Be strong. Dig deep.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

What would it take?

I read this article during my trip the other day:

The gist of the thing is that there is a real drain on the populations of rural towns, and some of them are going to extremes to try to bring people in.

Places in rural Kansas actually seem to be giving free property, home construction loans, job placement, and a $1000 per child dividend to families who relocate there. In some places they are actually going as far as to pair high school upper classmen with near retirement age business owners to try to even give people a business. Otherwise it seems that if a resident goes away to college, they don't come back.

So it got me thinking what it would take for me to move to rural Kansas - and by the way we're talking capital R rural here, not a suburb of Kansas City.

Realistically, I don't think I've exactly chosen a career that places me too far out of town. As long as I have family around the country, I don't think I want to live more than 45ish minutes from a major airport. I think I may have become attached to a few retail establishments - BestBuy, Home Depot and the like. Also, I'm not sure if me and my New York sense of humor would do that well in this type of community (that's a West Wing reference).

Maybe I am too shallow to live in rural Kansas.

It's a red state too, yes? I'd need a lot of blue paint.

Still, its an interesting phenomenon - the population drain as laid out in the article - and it can't be limited to these few spotlighted communities. They say that this is the new replacement for "Elephant hunting." That was the process of finding a large corporation to open a manufacturing plant in your town. It sounds like they've realized they just can't compete with China in that regard and they'll have to find another way.

The $1000 per child thing? It's about keeping local schools open. You don't get the money if your kids don't go to public school. Apparently the closing of a towns school is one of the most pronounced death convulsions. After that it becomes somewhat harder to get people to move to your no school town.

The whole thing is actually kind of sad. I hope they find a solution.

Charlotte Airport Boardwalk

Just a place to relax between flights...

This is the main concourse at the Charlotte, North Carolina airport. I thought it was real cool the way that they had used the trees and the rocking chairs. It was actually kind of calming. There was also good food and a bar.

I mean, nobody wants to kill time in an airport. But seeing as I had to, this seemed like a nice place to do it.

Test Wiseness

Can you answer this question:

The fribbled breg will ninter best with an

a. mors
b. ignu
c. derst
d. sortar

Answers soon.

New Cards

I think the cat is pretty well out of the bag who I am, so this shouldn't be new information to most people. And that lets me share my new card phyche with you.

I finally got cards with my title on them. Too much fun.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Writing Items

Quick! Write 300 test questions about theatrical rigging. 300 multiple choice questions... 300 questions matched specifically to a job audit you did several months ago... 300 questions of a specific cognitive depth level.

Start again.

Quick! White 300 multiple choice questions matched to your job audit from months ago and make sure you get all of the questions of the correct depth of difficulty - oh, and do it with the 15 people you don't know, do it TODAY, and follow these "wise-testing" rules.

Ugh. Can't I just stick a needle in my eye instead?

The "wise testing" stuff is actually cool. I'll post it when I get back to school. Basicly they took some time this morning and taught us how to cheat on multiple choice tests. Then we took a nonesense test and identified the "correct" answers just using wise testing rules. This way, theorhetically, we won't write test items that are vulnerable.

We'll see.

So tomorrow, more of the same. I have to write really in depth questions about really simple rigging concepts: "write two application questions about breasting a lineset." I'm not sure there are two questions about breasting a lineset. Oh well, I'm sure we'll come up with something.

Babelonium is moving

Val's blog Babelonium is getting a makeover. It can now be found here:

The link in the margin has been changed. Its a cool blog. Check it out.

Back in KC

In the lobby of the hotel in Kansas City again, another SME meeting for the rigging certification program.

Random travel tidbits:

Its hard to eat well in airports... airport stores are expensive... the Charolette airport is real nice... not everyone thinks the USAir pullout from Pittsburgh is a bad thing... the airline magazines are always lousy...

More later. I have to let other people check their mail.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


So I guess the questions have stopped coming. That's just fine with me. I'm having trouble coming up with good answers for some of them. I was arguing last night about some of the connotations of one of the questions. We could not agree if "pressing the reset button" on one's life meant "it was so great I want to do it all again" or "that was so dismal I wish none of it had ever happened." Which you can see really effects the nature of the answer.

Still considering there.

I guess we can deal with my Dad's questions though.

Answers can be found here:

I have to say, I must have gotten each of these things a dozen or so times over the years by email. I really never did like them much. Especially the animal one. First, I always get it confused with other jokes. So I am thinking "giraffe in a refrigerator?" Cuisenart!

No, that's dead babies into a VW bug. Umm, take off their hats!

No, that's popes in a Volkswagen. Maybe... Label it "Break Room!"

No, that's 100 American workers in a shoebox.

Then I remember the gag. I must say that if the question is "How to you put a giraffe in a refrigerator" that the answer can't have "put in the giraffe" as a component. So this particular gag has always irritated me. I mean how big a giraffe? How big a refrigerator? A sleeping giraffe?

All of a sudden I am thinking "African or European Swallow?"

I will say that rather than swimming the river because the crocs are at the animal meeting I prefer the James Bond version from Live and Let Die. But its rough to get them to line up that way.

The second group I tend to get right, although I think they are poor questions too. How can you assume you've lapped the last person unless you know the race has laps? Maybe you were just real late starting. I tend to bomb the last one from reading too fast, but get it if I go slow - which I guess is part of the point and is somewhat reminiscent of the "read everything before doing anything" quizzes we had in third grade.

There is, on that second page a great link to The Meatrix which is about how we manufacture meat in the US as narrated by "Moopheus." I saw it a while back. Check it out, its cool.

Don't Hold Your Breath

We went to the movies tonight, Sideways, with Paul Giamatti. I went to school with him, and at a dress rehearsal even appeared on stage during some audience participation thing.

Before the feature they ran a teaser for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Now, one would think that since this is one of my favorite all time books that I would be excited, but I'm not.

They've been trying to get this film made for what must be 20 years now. It always fell apart. I can't think it bodes well for the project that it came to fruition, finally, just after Douglas Adams passed away. The casting looks interesting, with Mos Def as Ford Prefect.

Some other tidbits from imdb:

  • The movie was first optioned in 1982 by producers Ivan Reitman, Joe Medjuck and Michael C. Gross. Douglas Adams wrote three drafts for them per his contract. During this time, Medjuck and Gross were considering Bill Murray or Dan Aykroyd to play Ford Prefect, but then Aykroyd sent them his idea for Ghost Busters (1984) and they did that movie instead.
  • This film has been in "Development Hell" for over twenty years. At one point, Douglas Adams insisted it would be made "sometime before the last Trump". Just prior to his death, a deal was almost in place with Jay Roach directing and staring Hugh Laurie (Arthur), Jim Carrey (Zaphod Beeblebrox) and the late Nigel Hawthorne (Slartibartfast).
  • John Malkovich's character, a religious leader, was created especially for the movie by Douglas Adams.
  • This will be ninth version of the "Hitchhiker's Guide". It previously appeared as a radio series, a record album, a novel, a television series, a computer game, a stage show, a comic book and a towel.
    Jay Roach decided to pass on directing the movie, he brought the property to Spike Jonze. Jonze also passed, but suggested Nick Goldsmith and Garth Jennings (also known as Hammer and Tongs, also soon-to-be former music video directors), who accepted.
  • Jack Davenport was considered for the role of Arthur Dent, but in the end it was decided he was simply too good-looking for the role of the ultimate everyman Dent.
  • The movie's teaser features Louis Amstrong's "Wonderful World". The song featured in the end of "The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" (1981) (mini).
  • Cameo: [Simon Jones] [, who played Arthur Dent in "The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" (1981) (mini).]
  • The hymn sung by the Jatravartidian followers of Humma Kavula was recorded at St. Martin's Church, Highgate, London on 19 June 2004. The hymn was sung by several hundred untrained members of the public invited to the recording via a call for singers circulated on the internet.
  • In a chaotic scene shot in London, fans can spot Douglas Adams's brother James Thrift, sister Jane Garnier and daughter Polly rushing about in the general panic, as the earth is destroyed by the Vogons.

I guess it doesn't automatically have to suck. Adams is credited as screenwriter, and I think many of the past problems have been over adapting a screenplay.

Still, I'm not holding my breath. There's a fairly good chance that this will be the middle of a trio of books I loved ruined by movies: Starship Troopers, Hitchhiker's, & Ender's Game.

But maybe I'll get lucky and be wrong.

Friday, February 04, 2005

More Beach Boys Carnage

I think I may have to go see this thing, just so that I have it in mind for future comparisons.


CRITICS and theater insiders agree!

"Good Vibrations" is the worst musical of the season, maybe even the worst
musical of all time!

It makes "Footloose" (once the gold standard of awfulness) and "Dracula"
look like masterpieces of the American musical theater.

All three shows, by the way, were produced by Dodger Stage Holdings, the
Broadway production company that's done more damage to Western
civilization than the Visigoths.

The contempt around Broadway for "Good Vibrations," the Beach Boys musical
that opened Wednesday at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, is striking.
As one theater executive puts it: "You usually feel bad, if you're in this
business, when somebody gets these kind of notices. But, man, they got
what they deserved."

How much do theater people hate this show?

Well, one Tony voter who saw it the other night called to complain about
the finale, during which the cast throws beach balls at the audience (John
Carrafa staging, at its most imaginative).

"How dare they throw things at us," fumed this voter, who was bonked on
the head with one of the balls. "And it hurt!"

I'm told another voter complained to the management about the beach ball

Clearly, roles have been reversed here.

The cast should not be throwing things at the audience.

The audience should be throwing things at the cast.

And not beach balls.


The question now is, How long can "Good Vibrations" hold on?

Surveying the reviews yesterday, the only quote I could find that could be
used in an ad campaign was in Variety, which said the show was "not quite
the history-making train wreck trumpeted in advance."

I'm not sure that works on the side of a bus.

If Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns the O'Neill, has any say, "Good
Vibrations" will be consigned to the flop wall at Joe Allen's very soon.
Rocco Landesman, Jujamcyn's president, is already in negotiations to move
the well-received off-Broadway revival of "Hurlyburly" into the O'Neill by

David Rabe is willing to cut a half-hour out of his three-hour plus play,
and the producers are seeking money for the transfer.

So it would appear that the Dodgers will have fun, fun, fun till Rocco
takes their T-Bird away.

The Dodgers, however, are unlikely to go down without a fight, and their
spokesman told The Post that they "absolutely plan to run" the show.
One production source says that as long as the show doesn't lose money,
the Dodgers will keep it open.

Before the reviews came out, "Good Vibrations" was taking in, on average,
about $325,000 a week, which is probably enough to keep its head above
water (quick, somebody hand me a hose).

Dodger chief Michael David, an eccentric figure on Broadway, with his long
gray beard and the white sneakers he wears with his tuxedo, will probably
try to run "Good Vibrations" just to spite critics.

Shortly before he shut down "Dracula," he told his cast that the critics
had a "vendetta" against the show and were "frustrated" that it wasn't as
bad as they were hoping it would be, so they decided to kill it anyway.
Zany logic, but I suppose it can be interpreted as some sort of a pep talk
for a demoralized bunch of actors.

Whatever pep talk he delivers to the cast of "Good Vibrations" is going to
have to be of Churchillian proportions.

The only hope for "Good Vibrations" is that Beach Boys fans turn out
despite the reviews.

And in fairness, I have to report that I've received letters from readers
who enjoyed the show.

Responding to a column I wrote last week about "Good Vibrations," Marcy
Bianco, of Plantation, Fla., wrote: "The article by that well-known
Broadway expert, Mr. What's His Name, was nothing short of vicious.
"I, along with a huge contingent of friends and family, absolutely loved
the show. The ambiance and the performances were a welcome change from
most of the depressing fare dished up on Broadway these days.

"I wouldn't hop a plane to go see a musical about Lee Harvey Oswald and
John Hinckley [Stephen Sondheim's "Assassins"], but I'd go to New York any
day to see 'Good Vibrations' again."

And George Haber, of Jericho, N.Y., said I "came down a bit hard on what
is basically a bubble-gum, good-time evening. On a scale of one to 10,
where 'The Lion King' or 'The Producers' is a 10, I'd give 'Good
Vibrations' a five or six."

Would that Ms. Bianco and Mr. Haber were members of the New York Drama
Critics Circle.

Then Michael David would have a fighting chance.

Copyright 2005 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

At least this one aims sort of dismisses the show itself and focuses its ire on the producers more specifically. Still, I would hate to be the family member of someone in this show opening night...

"Gee David, what did you think?"

Thursday, February 03, 2005

What's in a name?

We tried for quite some time here at work to get a warehouse for storing all our prop, costume, and scenery stock. We were unsuccessful over and over until my boss had the stroke to stop calling it a warehouse - which is apparently unsexy.

This past summer we moved our stock into our "archival lending library."

I'm doing some future planning. Would you like to play a game? Match the facility purpose with the punched up title:

1. Stage Automation Classroom
2. Big Empty Room
3. Machine Shop
4. Electronics Shop
5. CAD & Drafting Classroom
6. Sign Shop
7. Digital Studio
8. Lighting/Projections Classroom

a. Entertainment Control Systems Integrations Lab
b. Electronic Multimedia Studio
c. CAD Design Studio
d. Entertainment Engineering Studio
e. CNC/CAM Studio
f. Mechanical Instrument Lab
g. Entertainment Systems Prototyping Lab
h. Intelligent Lighting Studio

See any facilities I am missing? Got a better name for any of these?

Can you think of a good way to try to sell this stuff? I am trying to punch up The Davinci Effect. Highlighting how art and technology collide to produce innovation. Got any thoughts?

Answers: 1.d 2.g 3.f 4.a 5.c 6.e 7.b 8.h

Sure you want a career in theatre?

Ready for reviews like this? This seems to me to be the critical analog to that x-ray I posted a couple of days ago:

February 3, 2005
To Everything There Is a Purpose

Even those who believe everything on this planet is here for a purpose may
at first have trouble justifying the existence of "Good Vibrations," the
singing headache that opened last night at the Eugene O'Neill Theater.

But audience members strong enough to sit through this rickety jukebox of
a show, which manages to purge all catchiness from the surpassingly catchy
hits of the Beach Boys, will discover that the production does have a
reason to be, and a noble one: "Good Vibrations" sacrifices itself, night
after night and with considerable anguish, to make all other musicals on
Broadway look good.

Such virtuous behavior could not come at a more propitious moment. Just
think of the roster of dim, dispiriting shows that have opened this
season: "Brooklyn," "Little Women," the deceased "Dracula." Each of these
clunkers now feels like a high point of professionalism thanks to "Good
Vibrations," which features a lot of washboard-stomached performers who
give the impression of having spent far more time in the gym than in the
rehearsal studio. As they smile, wriggle and squeak with the desperation
of wet young things hung out to dry, you feel their pain. It is unlikely,
however, to be more acute than yours.

Directed and choreographed by John Carrafa (with the reported assistance
of last-minute consultants), "Good Vibrations" strings together more than
30 of the kind of musically sophisticated, girl-crazy, California-centric
songs ("Surfer Girl," "California Girls") that kept the Beach Boys high in
the Top 40 in the mid-1960's.

But it isn't just songs that have been borrowed (and mutilated) for this
production, which features a blockheaded comic strip of a book by Richard
Dresser, a respectable playwright who should know better. Every element in
the show appears to have been cribbed in haste, as if on the morning of a
final exam, from other, more agreeable musicals of the jukebox/pop
pastiche genre, which is gradually devouring all of Broadway.

The plot, which traces the bumpy romance between a popular bad boy and a
nerdy good girl (who learns how to be cooler than he is), loudly echoes
that of "Grease," the pimply grandsire of the kitsch-rock musical. The
idea of showing a generation dance from adolescence to adulthood, to an
era-defining background of period music, has been shaped to perfection in
"Movin' Out," the improbable, inspired collaboration between the singer
and composer Billy Joel and the choreographer Twyla Tharp. (For its
interpretation of its title song, "Good Vibrations" unwisely dares to
invite direct comparison to Ms. Tharp's ecstatic, white-clad finale for
"Movin' Out.")

And as for where the folks behind "Good Vibrations" got the idea for their
goofy, literal-minded, karaoke-style approach to a classic pop songbook,
you need only think of two little words that have become a religious
mantra for producers looking for a prepackaged mix for a hit: "Mamma Mia!"
(That's the title of the cannily idiotic sing-along show that weaves a
score from the songs of the disco group Abba.)

But while "Good Vibrations" dutifully culls from its hot-ticket
predecessors, the sum effect is of a lumbering, brainless Frankenstein's
monster, stitched together from stolen body parts and stuffed into a wild
bikini. From its cutely clichéd script (which begins, "Once upon a time
there was a far-off land called California") to its haphazard
choreography, the show feels as if it simply gave up on trying to figure
out the balance of nostalgia and satire that can make this kind of
show-biz exercise profitable.

Since the performers really aren't to blame for the aimlessness of "Good
Vibrations," I won't mention any of their names, though there are a few
who make you feel that smiling should be outlawed for a while. I'm
surprised, though, by the sloppiness of the staging and dance routines,
since Mr. Carrafa showed himself as a choreographer of promising, winking
wit with the recent New York productions of "Urinetown" and "Into the

The talented Heidi Ettinger's cartoonish, overaccessorized sets (beach
balls galore!) are tacky in a way that looks appealing in the campy
windows of the Ricky's chain of cosmetics stores but does not benefit from
being blown up to Broadway proportions. Jess Goldstein's costumes suggest
a mass-market department store trying to woo a younger, trendier customer.
The clothes, by the way, are a potpourri of looks from the 1960's to the
present, since the creators of "Good Vibrations" are clearly hoping to
appeal to as many age groups as possible. (The year when the show takes
place is deliberately never identified.)

Much of this could be forgiven if the songs sounded any good. But despite
the abiding infectiousness and seeming simplicity of the music of Brian
Wilson, the brilliant mastermind of the Beach Boys, and his collaborators,
recreating these numbers is no easy task. Mr. Wilson is famous for
laboring for long months in the studio to fine-tune the elaborately
layered vocals and instrumentals that became his signature. A single flat
note or a falsetto's slip into a screech is enough to make the
Wilson-style wall of sound come tumbling down. Suffice it to say that
there is an abundance of flat notes, literal and figurative, in "Good

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

One Month Tally

One month, 1500 visits. Cool. 4160 hits since the 12th of December. Its almost enough to make one think they were popular. I hope not. In sixth grade I identified "popular" as a least valued personality trait for a project in English class.

Thanks for reading.

State of the Union

I decided for mental heath reasons to watch Project Runway instead of the Commander-in-Chief. That Wendy, I was sure this was her last challenge.

Did I miss anything?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Modified four questions

Why is this night different than all other nights?

Wait, no, not those, this (from Having Fun Storming Your Castle):

I invite everyone who reads this to ask me 4 questions, any 4. (No anonymous posts please.) I will answer them honestly (although I reserve the right to protect my employment and engagement), and in turn, you have to post this message in your own blog and answer the questions that are asked of you.

I did something like this once before and nobody answered, I wonder what will happen this time? Really I am only doing this because I posted questions on Andrea's site and she called me chicken. Guess we'll see.

Male Call

I've got another little banner for the bottom of my page:

Who would have thought that of all people to be upset about lingerie that it would be forestry conservationists? Click the banner, it'll show you what's up.

I have a friend who's father is a business school professor at the University of Chicago (or at least that's my recollection, it's a little fuzzy). The friend told me her dad thought that Victoria's Secret had the most aggressive direct marketing program in existence. This would have been close to 15 years ago, but at the time, Victoria's typically mailed 54 catalogs a year to people on their mailing list.

That's a lot of catalogs. From the Forest Ethics people's page:

What You Should Know About Victoria's Dirty Secret:
  • Approximately 395 million catalogs are mailed by Victoria's Secret each year - that's more than one million a day.
  • Most catalogs end up in the trash or recycling - often without even being looked at.
  • Almost all of these catalogs are produced from virgin fiber paper with little or no recycled content.
  • Paper for these catalogs is destroying endangered forests like the great northern Boreal forest of Canada.
  • Victoria's Secret is not satisfied with just stripping the Boreal, it is also destroying forests in the Southern U.S. The Southern US is one of the most biologically diverse regions of our country where nearly 6 million acres of forest are logged each year, primarily for the production of paper.
  • Indigenous people are being negatively impacted by the logging and paper production industries.
  • Native plant and animal populations are being destroyed by logging and processing operations and the pollution they create.
  • Because of its immense buying power, Victoria's Secret is in the position to help change the catalog industry toward sustainable paper purchasing.
  • The company has refused to make commitments to protect our Endangered Forests.

Now some of this sounds like what I am sure Rush would call the sounds of environmentalist wackos, but I can tell you as someone that used to be on this mailing list, you do get a lot of glossy porn over the course of the year.

I think that a reduction of the number of catalogs they send out wouldn't be a bad thing. Like the site says, most of them do go straight to the trash. Sometimes the next one comes before you even have a chance to look at the last one. I for one was real happy when I moved and somehow got dropped from their distribution.

Anyway, another decent cause - besides, Vickie's stuff hasn't really been all that impressive of late anyway, has it?