Monday, June 27, 2005

The New Mrs. B

Here she is after the wedding:

Bloggers, thanks for the mentions...


Many more pictures later I am sure. And if you were there, and you have pictures, please please send them to me.

Be back to blogging after the 4th of July.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Best Laid Plans...

Let me begin by saying the we got to everything today we were supposed to do, and somehow the list for tomorrow is no longer right now than it was this morning.

But really, today, not so great.

  • The house sitter has the wrong key.
  • One of the roads on the directions to the wedding is now closed.
  • The weather channel is now saying scattered t-storms for Sunday.
  • The ketubah cannot be mounted in time before it gets here.
  • The Best Man's tux was shipped to the wrong location.
  • The hot air balloon ride that was the Maid of Honor's surprise gift was cancelled do to wind.
  • I messed up the seating arrangements needlessly
  • The caterer only today discovered what time the meal is at, and cannot make that time.
  • The temple membership is agitated that the officiant is not participating in the Saturday service, even though she was asked and declined.
On the upside, the inlaws' new hot tub was delivered today so the day ended with a nice soak and a beer. And like I said, tomorrow's list is no longer than it was before. So everything we could deal with, we did, on the fly. The other stuff is someone else's problem, the weather, or city hall.

We're smart enough to know you can't fight city hall.

Really there's only one day left until we're really in a linear time world, and then right at the top of that the rest of the wedding party arrives so we've got a bit of a SWAT team if we need it. Still it would be nice to not have these bumps, even if they are just the cost of doing business.

M and I are looking for ideas for gifts for our Parents. Any ideas?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Lets Do One Like Val...

The weirdest thing happened today. I was driving a long way, and after several hours I just wanted to stop and take a cat nap. I really didn't want to lose the time but I was nodding off. It was a hard decision. Then, like a higher power intervened, all traffic on the road just stopped in place for like 20 minutes. I got my nap and drove on. Too weird.


I think I almost understand the private contractor thing going on in Iraq. There was an NPR story about it today that we heard at lest twice due to changing timezones, and then we watched the Frontline episode the radio was promoting. While I still don't really agree, and I still wonder about the amounts and the cronyism that is obviously implicit in the system, I do think that the armed forces really do have a mismatch between the people they need and the people they have. This is the first time I have ever thought it was anything more than the VP kicking profits to his friends. I guess it is more complicated than that.


Is it possible that I do too much at work? I set up an away notice on my work email (the spammers will really enjoy that) and I had to include the emails of 6 other people for "if you're having an issue with this, email this person..." things. I think if I am the point for six other people that either I need an assistant or I should shed some duties. Just a thought, maybe I'm crazy. (oh yeah, I'm not even actually working this month.)


Have you ever heard of the 30/30 rule? The other day on CNN they were explaining that if you are outside and you see lightening, and you can't count to 30 before the thunder then you have to go inside for 30 minutes. Count to 30? Doesn't that mean the hit was 30 miles away? I don't know, but this seems real conservative. I guess it's like bicycle helmets. Kids never wore them when I was growing up and I never knew anyone that got brain damage riding a bike and yet now they're everywhere. When I was growing up we would see the lightening strike and then count out the thunder and when it was like three we were like "wow that was close" and went on with our game. Never knew anyone struck by lightening. Must happen though.


The wedding planning is in the final stretch. Just about everything seems to be settled. Really the only things left on my list are to get a haircut, pick up my tux, and show up. Truth be told that may have been my list right from the time I crossed off "propose."


Today, in the middle of Ohio, where the last time I listened to the radio I believe I commented that I heard Rush Limbuagh on five stations at the same time, I actually heard Air America on the radio. That was the first time. Previously I'd only been able to listen on the internet. It was pretty cool to hear Al Franken over the air. Now if they would only get a station in Pittsburgh.


It would figure, since I've been the one for weeks now trying to keep people from undertaking just one more project for the wedding, that tonight I should succumb. So While I should be packing, or sleeping, or something I am finishing up more arts & crafts.

Several weeks ago we sent the wedding photographer a CD of music we'd selected. He was gathering photos from many sources to do a video montage for the pre-nup dinner. At the time we thought maybe we should make some more copies. Then we promptly did nothing about it.

Today we decided that we did in fact want these custom CD's as thank you gifts. So we went to the Office Depot on the way to dinner. We just love Office Depot. We picked up a CD label kit and a bunch of jewel boxes. When we got home we ditzed with a label design for a while and got something we liked. Then I started burning CDs.

And then the wheels came off the wagon.

See the label kit says it has 138 labels. What it doesn't say is that only 5 of them are jewel box inserts. Bummer. Well paper will work for that I guess.

(truth be told, the HP Premium Inkjet paper looks better)

Then, well then we discovered that the people at iTunes may in fact be fascists. Did you know that if you buy something from the online store that iTunes will only let you burn 7 copies to CD? Makes it rough when you need 15. Have you poked around your hard drive looking for the mp3s that belong to iTunes? Let me know if you find them. They appear to be encrypted.

Fortunately the folks at Musicmatch aren't so pro-RIAA. I probably lost some fidelity along the way. The route was circuitous and I won't explain it here. Suffice it to say it's done.

I think they came out pretty nice too, labels and jackets. Nice little bonus gift. Here are the selections:

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The End of the Single Life

This is my last week of being a single guy. As of this time next week I will be married. Last week we were talking to the officiant for the wedding and she asked what we thought would be different after. Neither of us have a good answer.

Should we have a good answer?

Many of the things that would be changes in the day to day life of newlyweds will not be a change for us. I think that is part of the problem with coming up with an answer. It's not like we'll be buying a house together - we did that last year.

Part of it I think is just the way marriage is portrayed these days. Part of it is I think that we aren't itching to start a family. Lots of things are part of it.

Maybe though the biggest part of it is that we don't want it to be any different, that's the whole reason to give it this validation, that it is the way we want it. After you've made a choice for something, people don't ask how you think it will be different. You are choosing what you wanted because that's how you wanted it.

Why would you want it to be different?

If what you wanted was for it to be something different aren't you setting yourself up for disappointment? Asking how it is going to be different seems like second guessing before the fact.

I mean, I am sure some things will be different. A different person will get to pull the plug on me, there will be someone that cannot be compelled to testify against me, my car insurance will go down, all these things will change for sure. But I think for the most part I will be very happy with the status quo, thank you very much.

That was sort of the entire point.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

David Writes a Cranky Letter

Hi there,

I just wanted to take a moment to gripe a little about an article in the May 2005 Lighting & Sound America.

The article "Creating a Custom Scenic Automation System" touched a pet peeve with me and I guess I just had to tell someone. The solution to the problem the TD came up with, while good, and slick, and shiny and aluminum and possessing of a sexy name is nothing exciting. While working for Chicago Scenic Studios almost 10 years ago we employed the same battery operated, dc servo motor, Futaba radio control solution for a production of Baby that I project managed. In that case, the actuator was pulled out of stock and re-configured from a production of Big River from at least 5 years before that.

I'm not claiming credit for the solution for myself or for the shop. I just think it is unfortunate when someone re-invents what is easily 15 year old technology and gets press out of it.

I don't off the top of my head remember what state of the art in lighting was 15 years ago, but if someone cobbled together a really slick memory lighting board of that vintage today I don't believe they would have gotten a national magazine spread.

Its hard enough to get the name of an institution out there; when people get free press for re-inventing the wheel it is just irritating.

Also, there is no automation in this solution. The cuing and control are the truly difficult part of any automation solution. This is radio controlled mechanization. The distinction is important. This solution requires an operator per axis, and is *performed* in real time every single performance. The number of axes are limited by the available frequencies. The radio control itself is typically unreliable due to FCC restrictions on the power of the transmission from unlicensed transmitters.

So not only is what was done here re-inventing the wheel, but the language used to describe it implies that it was even more than it really was. This school does not do automation, they do mechanization, state of the art mechanization for 1986. I guess they can be proud of that, but its not really worth a national magazine piece. There are other programs doing much more interesting and more contemporary work.

Sorry about the rant.


I Will Not Stay Up All Night

11:30PM Begin new CivIII game.

"I'm just going to play for an hour or so."

2:00AM Go into bedroom to turn off TV as the movie M was watching has ended and the ONDemand commercial pitch is five times as loud. Note: do this without quitting the game.

3:50AM Can see the end of the game now. There is absolutely no chance I will lose. Calculate that the game will end in 16 turns.

4:30AM Click the "launch" button on the spaceship screen, ending the game with a space travel victory. Game time roughly 5.5 hours. Notice at this point that the score for a win on this level is less than 30% of the score for losing on the level I normally play and that that game would have ended in less than 3 hours.

5:00AM Curse the impromtu aviary in the back yard as the birdson makes it difficult to doze off.

This is the second time this has happened this week. The games ought to come with a warning. Seems unlikely that I would have done the same thing over 20 years ago just looking at a text screen that said "you are in a maze of twisty passages, all alike."

Figure I might have outgrown this by now.

But no.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Batman Begins

Its funny, when I started writing this page I thought that it would be a place where I would always be talking about movies I'd seen. Turns out I think I've discussed more books than movies - although at the moment I'm up a few books on the blog. Still does seem like a good place to talk about movies.

We just came home from Batman Begins. I thought this is one of the best movies I've seen in quite some time, and maybe the best superhero movie I've ever seen. As the movie was starting I was thinking that it would be difficult for this one to top the first Batman. In the end I think it does, easily. The writing is great, the production design is solid and not overpowering, and the acting is very good. The casting for the supporting roles is really impressive: Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine (who seem like they never stop working), Liam Neeson (who gets most of the first third of the film to himself), and throw in Rutger Hauer to boot.

The movie builds a very solid foundation for the man, the skills, and the toys. It was very nice to see Bruce Wayne accumulate all the things that turn into Batman.

I'd really thought they had raised the bar on superhero movies with the Spiderman films. This one is absolutely in that class or better. The one thing it isn't is a feel good superhero flick for kids. We saw a dad and two youngsters walk out fairly early on. It is relatively violent and the themes are often dark. It's also a little on the long side - but fine if you are into it.

But I am no longer a youngster and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Gets my totally worthless recommendation. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Writing On Spec

Here's the text of a sidebar for an article I'm hoping to write for Td&T. The article itself is about the launch of the ETCP Rigging Certification. The sidebar is more about my own journey and a thank you for the work that was done.

Think they'll use it?

For many people involved with the upcoming certification program, this November will be like the High School graduation for a family friend we’ve all watched grow up. It’s been so long, we can hardly believe he’s all grown up. I’ve had a remarkable vantage to watch the development of the program. Consider this plethora of acronyms a toast at the ETCP graduation party.

My association with theatrical certification began like this:

In theatre production, individuals often undertake tasks simply because they are the labor available. Currently the only indications of technical competence are experience, recommendations, union affiliation, and education. None of these are particularly dependable. Theatre technicians often vouch for their own skill level. The questionable validity of the peer reference limits a manager’s ability to verify skill levels (for hiring or for task assignment). Even an apparently reliable personal reference cannot establish competence with the certainty of a professional license or board certification. Union affiliation and education level can also be unreliable.

In other industries, many project participants are licensed or certified. Licensed architects design buildings. Licensed engineers detail their designs, and licensed electricians and contractors execute these details. Licensing and certification help to assure consumers a regulated quality of work, and assure managers a defined level of skill. Certification also provides governing bodies a means of assuring public safety. For a multitude of reasons, certification practices have evolved within industry over many years. Theatre could benefit by learning from this process.

That’s the beginning of an abstract to a research project in graduate school. All in all the most interesting bit of information to come from that research came from an industry survey which revealed that on the whole people were interested in the idea of a certification for certain theatre technicians. The scope of the survey was really somewhat small, but the finding turned out to be valid anyway.

Fast forward a couple years to a USITT conference in Long Beach, California. Out of the blue someone had contacted me about this research a proffered an invitation to the ESTA meetings concurrent with the conference. At this point I met the ESTA CPC, the Certification Program Committee. In fact, I was late to the party. While I has been raising a ruckus in my grad school sandbox, this ESTA committee and the professionals that comprised it were actually trying to get something done in the real world. At this meeting I learned that they had been working for quite some time and were preparing to do their own survey and were going to circulate it to a sample that had been impossible for me. I nervously applied for membership of what I felt was a group that was way over my head. To my amazement I was accepted.

Bit by bit the business of the CPC accelerated, slowly at first, but always building energy as progress was made. Operating rules were put in place and then task groups were formed to suggest professionals to head up working groups in specific disciplines. After a cycle of meetings we had proposals for working groups and working group chairs. I managed to go from the CPC to the task group and then to the Rigging Skills Working group.

The RSWG did an amazing amount of work. Coming together four times a year and completing homework assignments in between, the working group looked at a vast array of questions: who should be certified, what level of person, are there already existing certifications, who should be eligible, what should the program structure be, and just what is this body of knowledge that we are talking about anyway? We all learned the subtle differences between licensure, registration, certificate, and certification. The work was rigorous, time consuming, detailed, contentious, and enlightening. Everyone in the project worked very hard for a cause they very much believed in. A quote from a colleague’s email that I will never forget comes to mind: “These discussions are outstanding. It will go much faster if everyone would understand that I am right.” Though people did not see eye to eye in every instance, the work of the group as a whole was very much collegial and remarkably complete.

While the RSWG was working, things were also hopping at the ESTA office. The Entertainment Technician Certification Program was born. The ETCP Certification Council replaced the CPC as the organizing body and things really got moving. The Council set to work coming up with the funding that would be required to make the program a reality, and looked for a facilitator to assist putting the program together. Eventually we met the people at Applied Measurement Professionals of Kansas City.

Working with AMP, the chairs of the Rigging Skills Working Group set out to put together yet another pool of professionals, the Subject Matter Experts. Through what feels like an amazing stretch of good fortune I found myself an SME. More dedicated riggers, more meetings, more trips, and a lot of KC Barbeque were all part of the next phase. The SME’s finally determined the focus of the certification, came up with two rigorous job descriptions, one for arena and another for theatrical each with their own specific content, and then set out to write exams.

ESTA, CPC, RSWG, ETCP, AMP, SME, its been a very long road, and an army of talented and dedicated people have given their best work to see the ETCP Arena and Theatrical Rigging Certifications come to fruition this fall. I certainly hope I speak for the industry as a whole when I say thank you to all of them for their work, and good luck to the ETCP with their first exams at LDI and for the future of the program after.

The ETCP Rigging SME’s:

Roy Bickel
John Bleich
Eddie Blue
David Boevers
Olan Cottrill
James Doherty
Harry Donovan
Glenn Hufford
Edward Kish
Stephane Mayrand
Joseph McGeough
Brian Miller
Walter Murphy
Rocky Paulson
G. Anthony Phillips
Eddie Raymond
Michael Reed
Bill Sapsis
Peter Scheu
Karen Seifried
Scott Sloan
Sammy Stokes
Jack Suesse


Rocky Paulson, Stage Rigging, A Freeman Company
Eddie Raymond, IATSE Local 16
Bill Sapsis, Sapsis Rigging, Inc.

Principal, Alternate and Individual Members
Patrick Bash, IATSE Local 720
F. Robert Bauer, F.R. Bauer & Associates, LLC
David Boevers, Carnegie Mellon University
Olan Cottrill, Staging Productions, Inc.
Harry Donovan, Donovan Rigging, Inc.
Jerry Gorrell, City of Phoenix - Phoenix Stages
Dean Hart, Stage Rigging, Inc.
Kent Jorgensen, IATSE Local 80
Nevin Kleege, Kleege Industries
Baer Long, Ninja Rigging
William Maiman
Shawn Nolan, Entertainment Structures Group
J. Smith, National Production Services, Inc.
Harvey Sweet, LVH Entertainment Systems
Richard Thompson, Thompson Associates
Stephen Vanciel

Observer Members
Michael Akrep, Polar Focus, Inc.
Keith Bohn, Tomcat USA, Inc.
Dan Culhane, Secoa
Dr. Randy Davidson, Risk International & Associates, Inc.
Don Dimitroff, Columbus McKinnon Corp.
Ron Epp, IATSE Local 461
Robert, Grenier Ocean State Rigging Systems, Inc.
Delbert Hall, Hall Associates, Inc.
Bradford A. Kagel, National Production Services, Inc.
Jo - Anna Kamorin-Lloyd
Dennis King, Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers
Eddie Kramer, IATSE Local 1
Ken Romaine, PRG
Louis Therrien, Production Safety Services, Inc.
Jim Utterback, Local 22, IATSE Training
John Van Lennep, Theatrix, Inc.
Tim Wade, IATSE Local 600
Steve Zapytowski, Kent State University School of Theatre and Dance

Monday, June 13, 2005

No Child Left Behind - Something

I am trying to like this magazine:

It is a libertarian publication and seemed to me to be a different slant on the news than we see from day to day. I thought some of you might enjoy it as well.

I just finished this article:

Its a lovely discussion of how the Federal No Child Left Behind Act is turning school administrators all over into true Americans - and by that I mean people willing to pad, spin, and change the standards rather than actually try to fix something. Here's a short snippet:

They found that on any given test the scores of students in 3 percent to 6 percent of classrooms are doctored by teachers or administrators. They also found some evidence of a correlation of cheating within schools, suggesting some centralized effort by a counselor, test coordinator, or principal. Jacob and Levitt argue that with the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, the incentives for teachers and administrators to manipulate the results from high-stakes tests will increase as schools begin to feel the consequences of low scores.

When I lived in Las Vegas, they had just started doing Math competency exams - this is before NCLB. The first year, an overwhelming number of students failed to pass. What was the conclusion? Of course, the test was too hard. Not like the thing wasn't likely researched and vetted and beta'd up the gazoo before it ever went in front of students, but really - it has to be a problem with the test.

Doesn't look like data and testing are going to be a reliable index for testing the schools until someone decides to rigorously proctor the proctors.

I'm not a fan of No Child Left Behind. I think when you tie a school's success or failure to a test that you inevitably wind up tying curriculum to the test, and to test taking for that matter. But truth be told I never really thought that the educators would be trying to game the system in the ways they appear to be. Wouldn't it just be better for the country to see all the schools fail honestly by a single, reasonable rubric? Then it would be difficult to argue that there are things that really need to be solved. I know that some people will invariably look bad that way, but how will they ever get what they need to fix things if they are expelling all their bad students prior to the test and then readmitting them the day after?

Wasn't this presidency going to be about education? Not really in the news that much of late is it? Maybe articles like this will light some fires.

Not nice

to update during class:

"Current Music: Boevers talking about 3-D rendering"

I'll get over it. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to listen either.

I can't sleep

at night.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Summer League

I was going to go to bed and not blog, but then I remembered we had to do the tooth whitening tape - so here I am (won't it make the wedding pictures nicer?). I also almost had a guest blogger, but Marisa is still smarting from her last appearance and so she renegged.

Summer League started last weekend, but I played for the first time today. If you want to follow the teams progress you can check it out on the CPU web page. Our team is Long Haired Hippy Freaks.

I played pretty well for someone who hadn't thrown a disc since last August. Took me a little while to get dialed in, but the throws were there by the end of the day. We split our two games today, winning like 15-8 in game one and losing like 15-8 in game two. I think we were tired by the middle of the second game. In game one we went up quickly and stayed up. In game two we went down quickly, traded goals through the middle, but couldn't get the momentum reversed and finally lost. But a good day overall I think - mostly because a couple of our best players were out of town at another tournament.

Myself, its tough to evaluate my contribution sometimes. I think in the game we won I actually was a negative contributor - more turnovers than goals. I don't know if that's a good index, but its the one that I've been using since I started playing here where so many of the players are MUCH younger than I am. I had some nice middle throws, but I was shying away from my flick because I hadn't warmed up at all. The first couple I did throw I left a little short. By the end of that game I did deliver on nice 60 yard backhand. It was just too bad that it wasn't 61 yards as that would have been a goal, but we scored anyway.

I benefited a lot in that game from the defensive approach too. Both teams played a lot of zone even though it was a sky blue still day. Sometimes teams play zone in good circumstances to try to keep from getting tired too quickly. like it because I am old, fat, and slow by comparison. It was a nice way for me to break the ice and let me come into the game when we were on defense, which I don't do if we're playing man to man.

In the second game I made a positive contribution, more goals than turns, although there was much less zone here so I was exposed a little on defense. Mostly though those passes were in the middle of the field. I only really got beat once for a goal all day and it was a good pass. I had a shot at it, but it would have been a phenomenal play.

Actually that was one of the more surreal moments of the day for me. When I played summer league in Chicago - for the ONE DAY I played - on the first point I laid out for a block, broke my wrist, and put myself in a cast for the nest 12 weeks. Today, while in mid air going for the block, I had this thought: "Marisa is going to kill me if I break my wrist."

Do you think playing next week would be tempting fate too much?

The last throw I made in the second game was a sweet 50 yard flat flick for a goal. I let it go and thought "see, THAT'S what that should look like." Nice to know its still there.

Two nice things today:

This one girl, 21-22, sitting next to me on the sideline was looking at a player on the opposing team who was about my age and says to me "I'm glad we don't have any old guys on our team."

Then later, the captian of the team says to me "You're not slow, you're like [this other guy] I've played with. He never seems to be running hard, and then you turn around and he's open, or right there on D." To which I responded that no, I am actually slow. Although he described the "wiley old man" ultimate player perfectly, and he was sort of correctly labeling my game - knowing when to exert and when not, and where to be with the database of 20 years of play behind me (uphill, both ways, in the snow - you kids don't know how good you've got it!).

Now, where's that ice pack?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Two wedding tidbits

I've been trying to not write too much about the wedding lately. Over the last couple of days though there's been a lot of talk here around one or two of the planning issues and I thought that putting them down might do some other people some good.

It turns out that some decisions made VERY early on really do effect what kind of event you are going to have. This should be obvious and not really worth mentioning except that those decisions also seem to be some of the least considered because your not really in event planning mode yet. And then once you realize all of the interactions you're locked into something.

We angsted quite a bit over the city we were having the wedding in. We thought that that would be a primary problem for attendance - that the travel aspect would be a deal breaker for some people.

In hindsite I believe that the travel aspect has not been as big an issue as our Sunday lunch time slot. Many people appear to not be able to get out of work on the Monday. Had we done a Saturday night they might have been able to travel on Saturday and Sunday and still make their work schedule. As is, we have people that could likely make the rehearsal dinner but then have to leave before the completion of the ceremony.

Now, we wound up with a Sunday wedding for a reason, and moving it to a Saturday night would have had substantive dominos. I mention it because the Saturday night dominos were ones that were obvious in planning, while the Sunday dominos (while appearing to work for many reasons) threw us a little bit of a curve in a way that wasn't immediately visible.

Also, most of the wedding prep books say not to have an A list and a B list for invitations. I guess that's good advice, because nobody wants to find out they're on the B list. The reality of it is that you will make a list (everyone will make a list) and then all parties involved will pare their list down to your invitation total. You could very easily think of the difference between your original list and your final list as your B list.

Here's what I am really talking about though. The books suggest having your RSVPs due like 14 days before the wedding. Most of the vendors don't need their final orders till then, it gives you time to do placecards and seating arrangements, and most importantly it coincides with the two-week discount airfare. The problem is that if you get an overwhelming number of regrets, with 14 days left there isn't much you can do about it.

If you had your RSVP date say 5 weeks ahead of the event, you could open up the wedding to some of the people who got bumped for space. I think you could even sell it to them that way without much difficulty: "I wanted to invite you all along, but my Mom had so many guests..." This might work even better for locals. The point being that so close in there is nothing you can do. With a little more headroom you might be able to react.

Also, just as a sideline, I now believe that the save the date cards really aren't sufficient. If you really want someone to attend, sometime halfway between the save the dates and the invites you ought to make a phone call.

Anyway, that's today's wedding wisdom.

The Crit Knight

Enough time has likely passed to remove the sting of this for anyone that had a bad crit.

Last year, Kevin and I arrived at the conclusion that some people in conversation deploy what we now call the "shield of agreement." It goes like this:

commenter: "I think you really have a problem"
commentee (cutting in): "Yes, I understand"
commenter: "when we talk to you I don't get the sense you are listening"
commentee (cutting in): "I see"
commenter: "You really ought to work on this for the future"
commentee (cutting in): "I agree"

It's some sort of combination of active listening and trying to get control of a conversation and at least I think very disruptive to the exchange of information. At the end of one of these exchanges it is fairly clear that nothing was really heard. The person you were talking to has effectively utilized their shield of agreement to protect themself.

Anyway, earlier this year a few of us were unwinding a little and discussing this bit of armor and we decided that there were actually several devices in play, then someone had another idea, things got written on the board, and it was out of control.

Here's where it wound up:

Of course, now I'll have to ask students to come up with a rival middle ages figure to make it even.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

OK, Maybe I Do Care

So first this was on Maria's page, and then it showed up on Peg's. When it was there I commented something like "well, anyone that cares isn't surprised, and anyone who's surprised really doesn't care."

This, for me, has been the disappointing truth to the "Downing Street Memo" which pretty much wraps it up for any deniability that the Bush administration had any intension other than to invade Iraq. I've said it before, the run up was all so much tap dancing. We all should have known this was the case, and many people I think do - but now, now there's proof.

Independent confirmation of all things.

This isn't something coming out of Howard Dean's office. It wasn't run off of Dan Rather's typewriter. Hilary Clinton didn't print it on Chelsea's mac. Nobody who is "out to get" the current administration fabricated this document. It is fairly undeniably proof.

OK well I am sure they can and will deny it. But they ought to look even more idiotic spinning this than they did trying to convince us in the first place. Truth be told, I don't think they care. Remember when Dennis Miller translated the Reaganese of trickle down economics and explained that they were actually saying "we're pissing on you" and we still lapped it up? I think the posture of the current administration would be "So, you caught us. So what? We only lied to you because you didn't have what it took to do what we knew had to be done anyway. What are you going to do about it?"

And my answer to that would be a somewhat sheepish "well, nothing probably." Mostly because I am convinced that at least 50% of America wants to be governed this way. They don't want to see what's in the sausage.

Today I was stuck in a totally unexplained traffic jam - we were on our way to the Kenneth Cole store to buy a Kenneth Cole watch, turned out they didn't carry it but that's another post - and I heard Counterspin on the radio. On YEP. Counterspin is a somewhat more sarcastic and less narcissistic version of the CNN show Reliable Sources on which they talk about the news media as the story. After listening I would say that Counterspin has a somewhat liberal or libertarian bias - but lately I wouldn't think there's anything really wrong with that.

They spent a lot of time talking about the unveiling of Deep Throat, and how its sort of promoted an old home week in the news. There seems to be this perception that Watergate was some sort of defining moment for investigative journalism. This lead to a discussion of how lately that kind of dogged persistence and dedicated reporting has really disappeared. Thinking about it, I believe this is somewhat true. There seem to be many more human interest type stories promoted for 20/20 and 60 Minutes than anything hard core. I can't recall USA Today ever uncovering anything. This discussion was all a set up to talk about how in many ways the Downing Street Memo is a bigger deal than Watergate.

The thought being that if the media of today were the media of the Watergate period that this memo would have been the beginning of a literal shitstorm for the Bush administration. It shows they were predetermined. It shows they were spinning the intelligence to get what they wanted and to represent their cause to the world as just, and it shows that they have lied about their process to multiple parties on multiple occasions in the aftermath.

That's probably worth enumerating again. In the least, the Downing Street Memo shows:

  • the plan in Iraq was predetermined, not based on current events.
  • the administration was aware of intelligence on both sides, was specifically selective in listening to only those sources that agreed with their thoughts.
  • that they spun the intelligence to the US population and the world as some kind of justification.
  • and that they have lied over and over about how they came to their plan of action as we've gone along.

In the face of proof, someone ought to stand up and take responsibility. I don't think anything will come of it, but there ought to be independent investigations, and the people that lied to us ought to be made to come forward and explain their actions. If something happens to them, that's something else.

So I guess I do care. And I guess its worth trying to do something about it. Peg's post asks for you to talk to your news outlets and try to get them to cover the story. Once again I think I am asking people to write their congressmen.

It's important. We should care. Someone ought to step up. In the interim it ought to be us.

Just Payin' the cost to be the Boss

or not as it turns out.

Have you been following the pension news lately? I guess the spark was United Airlines. They went to a judge and got out of having to pay off a pension plan they were supposed to have been funding. The excuse I guess is that it is better to have the company solvent and to DO all the retirees than it is to have the company fold.

I'm not certain I agree. But then its not my job, my stock, or my pension in play. Perhaps that would change my perception.

I will say, as a taxpayer, I'm not thrilled knowing that a federally backed corporation will now be settling the pension debt at a reduced rate. I think that in principle funds like the retirement guarantee and the FDIC and FSLIC were put together to protect the individual's money, not the company and the ownership or management that lost it. More and more often though it sounds like at the end of the day even with the protection its the company that gets to keep the mine and the individual that gets the shaft.

Also, just as a sideline, it seems odd to me that the same people that are chicken little "the sky is falling" about Social Security and how the government can't be trusted with our money are fairly blithe about corporations pissing away the rightfully earned pensions of thousands (millions?) of hard working Americans.

If I were the judge in these cases I guess I would want to be sure that the workers got their due first, and likely that the shareholders got their piece of the pie too. The management of the companies shouldn't see dime one until everyone else has been paid. But that doesn't appear to be what happens. In reality it appears that the company loses a ton of money and then declares bankruptcy so that their suppliers and creditors take the hit. The company then uses the bankruptcy to roll back fairly negotiated wages from their employees (or they simply close up shop and cut off the employees). Then after they squeeze everything out of their workforce they can, they go to a judge and welch on payment of pension funds.

Now this isn't to say that labor doesn't share some of the blame for how we got here. Often it does seem like a high salary structure is partially attributable to the problems experienced. But let's face it, the employers did make the deal, and in good faith. They could have declined, but they didn't. They should not get to walk away from it now just because the payout was structurally deferred. The deal was "we'll give you that money later" not "we'll see how we're doing any pay you if all goes well." It's an annuity, not a stock option.

I swear, the Federal Retirement Guarantee Corporation ought to have a collections division that would make the mob squeamish. They ought to hunt down every Vice President of This and Chairman of That and repossess every last nickel they have and put it toward the settlement of the retirement funds before one cent of Federal insurance gets paid out.

If you're one of the guys on the line in these companies and you screw up you lose your gig. If you're one of the guys running the show and you tank the whole company you walk away with severance and the government lets you out of your obligations.

Something is wrong in that equation.

I've often wondered why health care has anything to do with your job. Lately I've lumped in pension as well. Maybe the "personal accounts" people have it right afterall and they're just aiming at the wrong pensioner. The new motto is going to be "Get your money up front." Or maybe in labor negotiations "Don't tell me what you are going to do, I've been burned before. Show me the money!"

I mean, on the face of it it really doesn't pass the sniff test does it? Try it on for size:

"What we want you to do is to do this work now, and if you do we'll pay you some money now, and then a little bit more 30 years from now."

Why would anyone take that deal? Probably seemed gracious at the time companies started to offer such plans. Hasn't seemed so gracious lately. It's going to make the cost of doing business higher, but I think American Industry is going to be hearing a new tune from Labor.

Show me the money.

(Now if you'll excuse me I am going to check on the status of my employer's Vangaurd contributions - need to see if the deseminations are concurrent or deferred.)

Time Waster

From our very good friend in the basement:

I have to say I don't think the penguin looks upset - if you were worried.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Precollege Content

Well, the campaign for CMU Drama Precollege continues. After a little bit of horsetrading we've come up with a list of classes:

  • Basic Design
  • Costumes
  • Drafting
  • Drama Lit
  • Lighting
  • Metals Stagecraft
  • Production Management
  • Scene Painting
  • Sound
  • Stage Management
  • Stagecraft
  • Technical Production
All of the classes utilize regular CMU faculty of staff, and we will be working on a CMU mainstage production.

If I can get that for next year it should make one hell of an ad.

This is more than twice as many courses as we had when I started here. I'm not certain, but I think this is likely the most comprehensive design & tech program available for high school students shopping for a summer program.

Maybe next year we will call it the "National Design/Tech Summer Academy." That would be pretty cool.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Link of the Day

The future missus contributes today's link of the day, which is from the people that brought you The Meatrix. As well as being a political message it also follows the Star Wars devotion I play to here now and again:

A link I am sure Peg will love. Have fun.

Its so quiet here

First time in the office in 12 days. Everything is so clean, quiet, and peaceful. This morning I went to see the doctor and she said my blood pressure was down - perfect she said. Do you think the end of the school year, my 12 day office absence, and my improved blood pressure are related? If so, do you think I need to be looking for a new career?

Before I left I wrote a to do list on my white board. Coming back in today I am able to cross off two things. So I guess even while I was out I still managed to get some work done. Of course there are still a half dozen immediate priority items there, and I really didn't make an exhaustive list to begin with. Maybe I ought to do the more complete list this week and right away decide what I am just not going to get to this summer.

Might make for a more leisurely break.

I have 123 emails in my inbox - no spam. I was thinking that I would get all of these retired before I leave for the wedding. The oldest messages are from February. I think those people really deserve some attention by now.

So: 123 emails, make a new list, and budget a show, oh, and finish prepping precollege. Hmm, the list is already growing. That's the way it goes.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Who gets the money?

Lately I've been thinking about charitable donations. I think I've narrowed the issue down to a couple of questions in my head:

How much can you afford to give?


Who gets the donation(s)?

At the moment I'm not living in a world where some outside entity is telling me that I have to donate X% of income to charity. I am fairly sure though that an accountant could tell me what a reasonable and economically advantageous amount would be. To date I don't really feel like I've been giving enough. A while back there was someone on TV that was explaining how to divvy up your money into needs, wants, and savings. It seems to me that some set percentage of the "wants" amount would be a reasonable way to determine a charitable donation budget. That way you would stay secure, but also work in a little altruism.

So there's a way to properly judge an amount. But who gets it?

I'm not currently the member of a congregation, so there's one obvious answer crossed out right from the top. Although that's something that ought to be rectified (but that's a different post). There's still a long line though:

How about WQED, WDUQ, & WYEP for starters? And really should those be the starters?
Carnegie Mellon & The Yale School of Drama?
Apple Tree Theatre? The Yale Repertory Theatre, Maine State Music Theatre, and the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival?
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust?
The Ultimate Player's Association, Community for Pittsburgh Ultimate, Pittsburgh High School Ultimate League?
The Pink Bracelet Fund?

16 upstanding targets, and really not so much in the way of "charities" among them, albeit a few 501C(3) organizations. How much do you have to give to make it worth while? I guess it would be different for each organization. I'd been contemplating a biggish check to the ETCP. Maybe I'll have to string things out some. And that's without even knowing what the missus' list would look like.

Guess there's still quite a bit of thinking to do.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Link of the Day

More Star Wars and Lego. I think its real cool that there's the connection between these two things I have always enjoyed.

Check out the movie: Revenge of the Brick.


So I was thinking today and I believe we forgot to invite some people to the wedding. They weren't people who I think would really come, but still - how may times do you get married? Why not take a shot? What is the worst that can happen?

M says that some of the wedding books say that if you invite the President or the Pope you often get a letter in response. I think there are some famous people I should have invited but didn't.

Foremost I think I would have liked to have invited Melissa Etheridge. Also I think perhaps Robert Parker and Orson Scott Card. Off the top of my head these are the people I think of. I'm fairly certain that M would like to invite Michael Stipe. My dad would probably like to have included George Carlin.

Maybe it should be a wedding tradition to do some impossible stretch invitations. You might just luck out, especially if you are getting married in the right city at the right time. Maybe one of these people might show up just as a PR move. Sort of win/win if you ask me. It ought to be possible to track down an address that would at least get to someone's people.

The worst case is that nothing happens, right? Maybe you get what amounts to an autograph on a declining RSVP card.

Maybe they even show up.

Also I think it might be fun to send invites to some of the people I only know virtually from the blog world. I wonder what Indri is doing that weekend? Could be interesting.

I wonder if I still have time to track down an address for Melissa?

Friday, June 03, 2005


Really, I got nothing...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Don't Blame Us

This morning, watching TV, I saw our Secretary of Defense standing in front of a Pentagon seal complaining about the coverage of the US Military of late.

Really the thrust of his message was that most of the things we hear in the mass media about current events, things like Abu Ghraib or the camp at Guantanamo Bay, are in fact false. This was couched within many other complaints about how we never hear about good things that are happening around the world.

It turns out that I have little sympathy. I guess maybe it doesn't matter that I have little sympathy - but it is my blog afterall.

The bit that got me to notice this particular address was that although he denied the reports, and complained about other coverage, he never really offered us any reason to believe his denial. I think the reason that the "Are Too!" stories persist is that the best response we ever really seem to get from officials is "Are Not!"

It really doesn't say much for our national level of discourse.

In the absence of any real proof, something we can see, someone who doesn't have a vested interest to sit for an interview; really I can't see any reason why anyone would give up their initial opinion.

So its less than 1% of soldiers. So there have been a bushel of military investigations and only a very few charges filed and even fewer convictions. These outcomes are the outcomes the administration would hope for and therefore can seem perhaps a little too convenient to be believed.

Why not an independent review?

I can think of only one real reason it cannot be made to work.

Well maybe that's not quite the real thing. The reason is because its not what they want to do. What I meant to say was that I can think of only one real reason they can't come up for a reason to want to do it.

That would be that they don't like how it would portray them.

In the absence of a portrayal of any other nature how could we come to any other conclusion?

If its not as bad as we're hearing it, then why not show us an independent review that testifies to the opposite?

I for one would welcome it. And then I would jump right on Rumsfeld's wagon about how we don't hear the positive news. Well I think actually I would still like to hear a definition and legal rationale behind "enemy combatant." I still haven't figured out how someone we've detained can be neither a criminal entitled to the rights provided under the Constitution, or a POW entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention. Apparently our leaders have figured that one out, but I've never really heard it vigorously defended - really never even heard it explained. And truthfully, I can't even recall hearing the question asked.

That's one I'd like to hear explained and independently reviewed as well. Doesn't seem very likely though.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005