Sunday, September 30, 2007

No Spin Zone

Think Progress » The ‘Restore Patriotism to University Campuses Act’:: "The ‘Restore Patriotism to University Campuses Act’: The name of Rep. Duncan Hunter’s (R-CA) bill to cut off all federal funds to Columbia University because of the Ahmadinejad speech."

I've been thinking about this one a little and I have a proposal: I believe that legislation should not be named, only numbered. The above legislation is actually HR 3675. Really I think that's enough, and it would let the bill be debated on its merits without representatives having to worry about down the line being labeled "anti-patriot" for voting against a bill that had the word "patriot" in the name - but may or may not have anything to do with patriotism.

Modern politicians and their operatives have proven far too facile with labels to be allowed to use them. One need only remember the "Clear Skys Initiative" or I would even include "No Child Left Behind." These names contribute nothing to the legislation and do everything to distort and obfuscate the conversation. What legislator in their right mind would want to be on record as voting against "The Patriot Act?" Voting against HR 3162 might have been easier - or at least a more vague name might encourage someone to actually read the bill before voting for it.

They say you can't judge a book by its cover. We ought to stop letting people define legislation by its name.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cubs Clinch

But you can just feel the unbelievable disappointment lurking out there, can't you?

Ahh, there's just no other feeling like being a Cubs fan.

Party on - while there's still time.


Friday, September 28, 2007


First day with the app open...

Thursday, September 27, 2007


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You scored as Existentialist, Existentialism emphasizes human capability. There is no greater power interfering with life and thus it is up to us to make things happen. Sometimes considered a negative and depressing world view, your optimism towards human accomplishment is immense. Mankind is condemned to be free and must accept the responsibility.





Cultural Creative












What is Your World View?
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What Video Game Character Are You? I am a Thrust-ship.I am a Thrust-ship.

I am small and tricky - where you think I am, I probably am not. I can work very fast, but I tend to go about things in a round about way, which often leaves me effectively standing still. I hate rocks. Bloody rocks. What Video Game Character Are You?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

So Much for the iTunes Store

Gee I Hope That's a Typo!

David sets new record for checking the "I would prefer another time" box.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I don't know why I keep starring things in my RSS reader, I am now so far behind there is no way I will ever read any of it... I really hope the people in Congress learned something from their last force authorization vote... The Steelers are 3-0, that's impressive... Really, it shouldn't be this hard... You really want to see the Family Guy Star Wars episode if you missed it... Turns out coming West to East for a weekday holiday is near on impossible... Class was good today, at least I thought so... How about that Iranian President? Wow. Quick, look away and spell Ahmadinejad... I have now seen four full years of new curriculum at work. It's pretty cool... I wish it would make up its mind to be summer or fall already... I can't seem to remember to bring my lunch with me. I wonder what that's about... Are the Cubs really making a run? That team is such a tease... I am wondering if my own pride and nostalgia are good enough a basis for policy and procedure decisions... You just know I want me one of those Millennium Falcon Lego sets - and the AT-AT too... I am officially two days late on a major assignment. I hope my boss doesn't deduct points... It's not certain yet, but it appears I drafted the worst team in my brother-in-law's fantasy league... The first show is into tech with no real huge derailments. I guess that's an achievement of sorts... Gullifty's "Blue Crusted Pork Chops" is more food than one person really needs... Got any good holiday plans? Care to share? We're a little stumped...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Why? That's Why.

My questions for President Ahmadinejad | "In the moment, the arguments for free speech will never seem to match the power of the arguments against, but what we must remember is that this is precisely because free speech asks us to exercise extraordinary self-restraint against the very natural but often counterproductive impulses that lead us to retreat from engagement with ideas we dislike and fear. In this lies the genius of the American idea of free speech."

Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dan Rather isn't Sad

This morning I watched a CNN show where they discussed Dan Rather's law suit against CBS News. Over the course of the piece they called both the suit and the man sad, embarrassing, old, & pathetic.

First off, I don't think any of that really counts as decent commentary, and it certainly isn't news.

They were going on about how he was doubling over himself and trying to save his tarnished reputation and how it was all about how he appeared to the public.

I have another thought.

Maybe, after the time has gone by, he is absolutely disgusted with himself. Maybe after the time has passed he feels like he didn't do us justice and that at the time he should have fought harder. Maybe, with time to explore the idea, he really does think that the organization's largest unethical act was quashing the National Guard story rather than airing the suspect documents. Maybe, after reflection he is very concerned that a news organization would move so radically to placate a sitting administration, or perhaps he even feels undo force was brought to bear and wants to expose it.

Isn't it possible, likely, that instead of a disgraced old man trying to salvage his reputation that what we are seeing is a distinguished elder statesman trying desperately to undo the worst mistake of his career? And when I ask that I don't mean the mistake was going with the documents, the mistake wasn't fighting to get the underlying story out anyway.

Isn't it possible, likely, that as someone that stood up to business, government, individuals and organizations alike that we're seeing someone genuinely concerned at the chilling effect he actually went through, and that as a result feels duty bound to step up and say so?

After what Vice President Cheney, Rove, Libby, and Addington did to someone as obscure as Joe Wilson and his wife, would it surprise anyone for even a second if perhaps at some cocktail party somewhere one of the administration's people sidled up to one of CBS News' people and suggested that things might go easier for them if they just found an avenue to make Rather go away - "we wouldn't want another Plamegate, would we..."

I know I wouldn't.

It does seem strange that now is the time Rather has decided to litigate this. But let's not be too quick to say we understand his motivations. Let's do remember that for someone with as long and as storied a career as his, he was shown the door in a fairly expedited matter. Let's not forget that it has been alleged, established, and even admitted that the administration does try to pressure the media.

And please let's never forget that even though the specific nature of the aired documents was debunked that the substance of the story has never really been established as false.

Wouldn't That be Odd

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wanna Good, Cheap Screw?

Should I be shilling for Harbor Freight? Probably not, but how could I pass up a chance to use that post title?

$19.99 seemed like a decent price for a second screwgun a while back - and 18V to boot, so I bought this drill. When I bought it I didn't get the flashlight or a case they're offering in this deal. It's not by any means a replacement for a professional tool, but as a second, or a third (do I really now have three cordless drills, what am I a drama school?) it's just peachy. The other day when I was doing those goofy shelves I needed to pilot and screw at the same time and used this for the pilot bit so I wouldn't have to keep switching - just like Norm in the New Yankee Shop - two bits, two drills, why not!

And for $20, why not indeed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Browsers were redirecting to - uncool.

Here's how I've spent most of my recent free time...

  • Deleted all temp files and cache.
  • Run AdAware and deleted everything it indicated.
  • Run McAfee Virus and found nothing.
  • Run RougeRemover.
  • Run Registry Booster.
  • Unselected any unusual entries from the "StartUp" tab of MSCONFIG .
  • Deleted anything unusual from the scan results of HijackThis .
  • Uninstalled all Java instances.
  • Uninstalled AdAware.
  • Installed Spybot .
  • Ran Spybot and deleted everything it indicated.
  • Uninstalled all unrecognized apps.
  • Uninstalled McAfee Virus and Firewall.
  • Installed Symantec Anti-Virus.
  • Installed ZoneAlarm.
  • Ran Symantec Anti-Virus and found nothing.
  • Installed Fixwareout.
  • Ran Fixwareout.

Cooties gone. Woohoo!

Monday, September 17, 2007

From Our Buddy John Huntington

My friend Rebecca entered the "Public Radio Talent Quest", a sort of "American Idol" to generate new public radio "host" talent. There were 1400 or so entries, and Rebecca made it through three rounds of cuts to the final round, with just five entrants remaining. Three of these five entrants will be given the resources to make a full pilot show, which could, possibly, lead to a series on public radio.

I engineered and edited Rebecca's final round entry (Rebecca did the field recording). We ended up with about 12 hours to get the whole thing together while about 200 miles apart. So, I'm asking you to go the site, listen to her piece, and (I hope) give it a vote of "Excellent".

Rebecca was the clear audience winner of the previous rounds, and audience voting will count for at least 1/3 of the final decision. So, winning the audience voting for this round would be a clear leg up.

You have to register for the site in order to vote, but it just takes a couple minutes, and Rebecca's piece is only five minutes (exactly). The key--you must vote by 11:59pm ET on Sunday September 23rd. That's less than a week away.

Please go to this page and register (I didn't get any spam from them, so I think it's safe)

Then, please go to this site, listen and vote.

I hope you will agree with me that Rebecca deserves an "Excellent"


John Huntington

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Theatre Education Part 1: How We Got Here

There’s a series of posts appearing over here. I can’t remember where I found them; probably it was a Google Alert on stagehand. For the Green Page I have alerts set with Google and Yahoo on “Stagehand” and “IATSE” as they seemed like to fairly uncommon words that are significant to me. I cross posted one of the articles to the Green Page, and the author tracked it back and left a comment. I always think it’s cool when that happens. Next, several students read that piece and chose to comment on it for their weekly Green Page commitment. This year we have a Freshman, Sophomore, and a Junior class all required to follow the page and do five comments a week as verification. I think its coming along nicely. We’re actually getting some cross-talk going and I think community awareness is building – and that was the whole point. Some of the Seniors are even still reading even though we don’t have a requirement for them.

So after several students comment on how CMU is developing in reference to the original article, the original author placed another comment asking for some specific examples of what they were talking about. I then emailed him and he emailed me and I sent him the answers which he asked if he could post. Being that I am as conceited as any other blogger, and also because there were some details that ought to be redacted, and to allow me to add a little bit more I suggested that I would post here and he could link to me, and I would link back to him and we could have our own little promotion party.

So here we are.

Here’s the starting point: Theatre Ideas: Theatre Education Part 1: How We Got Here

And here are the student comments: News From the “Real World”: Theatre Education Part 1: How We Got Here

Here is the question:

David -- I am looking for theatre departments that have created a curriculum that would help students question the status quo, think outside the box, and lead them to explore the larger questions that inform the practice of theatre. In other words, a curriculum that helps students to knowledgeably create their own aesthetic and worldview rather than develop skills that simply fit into the current aesthetic and worldview. Several people seemed to post about CMU, so I was curious how this was happening!

And here, is the answer:

So I should set this up by saying that we've been in the midst of something like a 4 year process of enforced navel gazing. CMU has an advisory board system and the last advisory visit produced a report that said that we weren't necessarily supporting our mission and that curricular decisions didn't always make sense internally or in how they interfaced with production. Coming out of that were a Mission/Vision project and a top to bottom curricular review. I don't think that in the absence of that process that we would have come to be thinking about many of the things that lead to some of the changes students were talking about on the green page.

The mission is about what you'd think it would be. The more important thing was the group produced five supporting "pillars" of that mission. For all the decisions that followed we always measure the ideas against the rubric of the pillars. Those pillars are: Education, Leadership, Experimentation, Diversity, and Community. I'm sure that sounds bland and it's true that nearly everything can be fit into Education or Community, but having them as a measuring stick really has forced us to evaluate decisions about curriculum, pedagogy, and production with a much clearer focus.

Also, having a rubric at all gave us permission to throw out "that's how it's done" as justification for anything.

So, some examples of how that played out…

Season Selection. We've completely turned upside down our season selection process. Instead of having standard scope of production and a "big show in the big theatre" mentality each teacher submits a "lab request" detailing the kind of experience they feel like their students need at that time. The requests are then "matched" into productions of all flavors. The result of this has already produced a "mainstage" in our studio, an off site, site-specific production, a multi-venue, multi aesthetic Orestia, and this year a period, traveling Comedia wagon. There's still the more traditional discussion of titles, but the new process has really thrown open the range of possible modes of outcome.

Playground. We've instituted a student festival. For one week each year we cancel all classes and students can mount their own projects start to finish. Really the only parameters are that it has to happen during that week, it has no budget, and it must include at least one School of Drama student. At the end of the week, the shows are presented in a sort of marathon-fringe. We've had cabarets, 90 minute versions of just about every kind of play or musical, we've had site-specific work, murals, light shows – last year there was a game of Monopoly "performed" on a 30'x30' board in our lobby. Students are encouraged to cross disciplines: designers direct, technicians act, and so on. For the part of the population that doesn't elect to simply take the week off it's been electric.

Hit/Lit/Crit. In the curricular review we committed to making course content in History, Literature, and Criticism equally important as craft and skills. Along with this we placed a real emphasis on writing. The consensus was that these fundamentals were critical for students to be able to produce more than the status quo. We're also working with other schools here in the College of Fine Arts on a sort of "Connections" style Arts Histories class tying art of all kinds to history and context. In the School of Drama all students have to take six semesters of Drama Lit.

Basic PTM/PINO. In Design & Production we've always had a Basic Design class. This class abstracts the elements of design that will be applied to theatre on down the road: line, shape, symmetry, color. As part of the curricular review we created a similar course for Production. One semester abstracts technical subjects: tension, compression, shear, mass, acceleration, frequency, amplitude. The other semester abstracts management subjects: Communication, Sequence, Capacity, Critical Path, and Leadership. As part of the development of this course we discovered a raft of meta-skills we now call "PINO" for Production Information Nuance, and Organization – also because Joe Pino teaches the classes, but mostly because the working name "Too Stupid to Teach" seemed like it wouldn't look right on a syllabus. The germ of the thing is here: Common Sense Items but you can think of it as "turn on the light" or "work on a table" or maybe even "walk and chew gun at the same time." I guess the real application to what you were asking is that this is intended to stimulate lateral thinking and to get people to look at themselves in context.

OSWALD. I swear to God the thought behind the OSWALD class is "help students question the status quo, think outside the box, and lead them to explore the larger questions." Another creature largely of Joe Pino, but also Anne Mundell our Design Coordinator and then to a lesser extent the rest of us OSWALD is intended to help people learn to think, challenge assumptions, broaden horizons, and form their own measuring sticks. Like P.I.N.O. above, OSWALD stands for –REDACTED-. For a while the course was called "&^$%&#$." The problem was that in development, as soon as we put a more conventional name on it like "charette" or "practicum" or "sandbox" we found that the name brought with it expectations. For our own ability to break the mold we had to come up with not only new content, but new language. As a sideline, the students are going NUTS trying to figure out what it stands for. I can't tell you what they're doing in there because it's the first time through and I am not one of the teachers. I know the first day was a sort of scavenger hunt taking them all around campus looking for clues. There's a day coming up where –REDACTED-. There was talk of having someone come in with no preamble and start teaching –REDACTED-. There's no course outline; in the university catalog it says "a course sophomore Design and PTM students have to take, bring tools." It's taught as an 8 week intensive, meeting five days a week. Are we hitting our target? Is it working? We don't know, but so far we're happy with where it's going. Evaluation will have to wait a few years I think.

There are other things that might fit into the vein we're discussing, but I think those are the biggest contributors. I should say too that we're not all in agreement about the validity of these initiatives. There's a big population that says "our people are already successful, why are we monkeying with this?" But to many of us it does seem essential.

So, that’s where the discussion is here. I apologized for the editing, but there are students that read this blog and things pertaining specifically to the OSWALDs that we don’t want to tip.

There are a couple more things I should mention too.

The season selection not only turned to “lab review” based on the needs of courses, but in a fairly shattering moment is also supposed to be the end of the service posture. By this I mean that nobody is ever supposed to have to do something with their students exclusively because another program needs it for their students. This is I think groundbreaking. My impression is that a fair number of design and technical programs really only exist as service providers to acting and directing. This really wasn’t the case at CMU, but we still often found ourselves supporting shows because someone else “needed” a show. Since the lab review doesn’t allow for something to happen that isn’t directly related to pedagogy, if one group needs a show, and the other group doesn’t have someone for whom that production experience is manifestly constructive we're supposed to hire the missing piece rather than coerce someone into a service assignment. So far for one show or another we’ve hired designers, technical heads, technical crews, and even actors (we’d been hiring directors all along for another reason). It’s proving a tough transition culturally, and it is playing havoc with budgeting, but I think it is so special I sometimes can’t believe we managed to get here. While this doesn’t specifically relate to the idea of innovation regarding artistic development, I think it is absolutely groundbreaking with regard to Drama education.

I should also add for my Dramaturgy colleagues that there is a second component to the lab review to build on top of the nature of the pieces. We’re also charting each production against a rotating checklist of sorts guaranteeing that within a three year window students see something (if not a fairly equal representation) from several specific categories which I will now forget, but I think I might be: Classical Antiquity, Renaissance, Post War, Modern Drama, and World Stages. We’re told by our literature faculty that the investment in tying dramaturgy to season is fairly atypical, happening in something less than 5% of programs.

Probably worth mentioning as well was that the idea for the creation of the News From the “Real World” page and the reading requirement were also a direct result of the strategic plan and the curricular review. So in some small way an individual commitment to innovation was what made this discussion possible.

For me though, I think, we’re only just beginning. We still haven’t really figured out how to implement many of the decisions we made, we’re far from comfortable with the implementations we’ve undertaken, we’ve got two more years of classes to revise – and then the grad program to look at, and even then it could be years before we get any real indication of if the things we’re doing are having a positive effect. But I think this is a good thing. Although it has fostered quite a bit of turmoil in our school, and made for a lot of work for many of us I believe that the commitment to leadership demands that turmoil and work; and if we don’t get to stop, and have to keep adjusting that those adjustments are the process of innovation at work in our program. Even though they are tough, these are probably all things to be embraced.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bio Revising Time

Amongst the 800 things I am supposed to write this weekend is an updated bio. I hate writing these things, all the third person makes me feel like a rapper: Who's the professor? David Boevers is the professor. Also I think that no matter who you are and what you've done, you always know while you're writing that the thing sounds more impressive than it really is.

Anyway, how'd I do?

David Boevers is a professional theatrical Technical Director and entertainment project manager. He has been an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon Drama for over 15 years, a Professor of Drama for seven years, and the Option Coordinator of Production Technology & Management for five.

Currently David teaches the AutoCAD portion of Studiocraft and Studiocraft II, Basic PTM, Technical Direction, and Technical Design II as well as coordinating Stagecraft and PTM Thesis. Previously he has also taught Introduction to Production, Production Planning, Computer Applications – AutoCAD, Rigging Seminar, and Technical Design. David has also been an instructor in, and coordinator of, the Design & Technical component of CMU’s Drama Pre-College program, teaching Drafting, Technical Production, and Stagecraft.

Professor Boevers is a Project Leader for Commercial Theatre Outreach for the Technical Production Commission of the United States Institute of Theatre Technology. In addition to USITT, David has been active in ESTA and the ETCP working with the latter as a Subject Matter Expert during the development of the entertainment industry’s first certification program. He was a member of the first class of ETCP Certified Theatrical Riggers and the number on his “ETCP Recognized Rigging Instructor” card is four.

While a faculty member at the School of Drama, David has worked on projects for The Three Rivers Cultural Trust, Chicago Scenic Studios, Sapsis Rigging, The Carnegie Museum of Art, and for Showmotion Inc. on Broadway productions and national tours of “Into the Woods”, “Aida”, and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” among other projects. David also proudly serves on the Artistic Advisory Board of the family business, Apple Tree Theatre in metro Chicago.

Between the student and faculty stints at Carnegie Mellon, David worked for a wide range of organizations including Chicago Scenic Studios, Cirque du Soleil, and The Effects Network on many diverse projects including the 1996 Democratic National Convention, the Chicago Symphony’s ECHO center, the Bellagio Casino’s “O” show, trade show and store displays for Steve Madden, and the Paris Hotel/Casino’s Millennium display.

David is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon Drama where he received a BFA in Drama – Technical Production and the West Coast Drama Alumni Clan Gerald Adler award for outstanding production, and a graduate of the Yale School of Drama where he received an MFA in Drama – Technical Design & Production and the US NEH Jacob Javits Fellowship. He has had articles published in national publications such as Lighting & Sound America, Yale Technical Brief, and USITT Sightlines. David is a USITT Tech Expo award winner and has also served as a co-editor of the Technical Expo catalog on multiple occasions.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Do You Like Apples?

How do you like them apples? It's not for real yet, but its come a long, long way from where we were.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Still the Same

I went to see Genesis tonight. The last time I said that was in October of 1986. Tonight Phil Collins at one point said "Is anyone here old?" Not just him it turns out.

In 1986 I saw the band at the Rosemont Horizon. I think the Horizon is now the Allstate Arena. I went with Cami; my dad drove. It's not that it was so long ago that I didn't have a license, but rather that the concert was in Chicago and I was in Pittsburgh. My next door neighbor in Schlag, Dave from Buffalo drove me to the airport. We got stuck in tunnel traffic and then an accident on Green Tree Hill. I missed my plane. I did manage to get on the next flight, but that got me to Chicago maybe 10 minutes before the show started. My dad had Cami and was picking me up at the airport on the way to the show. At some point he had to decide to wait for me or take her to the show - so he took her to the show. In what can only be described some serious father/son telepathy upon arriving at the airport I called my grandparents and asked to be picked up and taken to their house. Not more than five minutes after we got there my Dad showed up - and all without cell phones. He took me to the show, I got there in the middle of the first song. Finding my seat is one of the most memorable images in my life, walking up to Cami when she wasn't expecting me to show up. She had this huge smile and was wearing this multi-colored striped sweater - an image I'm not likely to forget. For that show we were in the balcony, behind the stage, but it was still cool. Genesis was the hugest thing ever that year. That show was one of like seven they had sold out in Chicago - my mom had actually stood in line to get me seats.

Things have changed a little. I got these seats online, last week. The band only has the one date in Pittsburgh. The room looked sold out, but if there were seats available a week ago it couldn't be that hot a ticket. Maybe the price had something to do with it. I think this show was more expensive than last time, and last time included a round trip plane ticket. The seats were on the floor, right on center in row AA. I've gotten used to closer through the MLE Fanclub, and even though I am sure the people 20 rows forward saw a totally different show, for spur of the moment I wound up with really good seats.

The show started real late. It was supposed to go at 7:30, but went at like 8:05. I'm to a point now where that's a little bit professionally embarrassing. No call to have a Sunday show go off late. I think they played until after 10:30. I was expecting a fairly tight 90 minute set. There were a couple of times I thought the show was over that it turned out not to be. Finally when it was, the fireworks were a little bit of a giveaway.

I could have done without No Son of Mine and I Can't Dance. I missed Duchess and Misunderstanding. But getting to hear In the Cage/Afterglow live made it worth it - I could even forgive the people behind me who talked through the entire show. I was hoping they would have complained to me after the show about standing so much, then I could have told them that I only waited for this show 21 years and then got to listen to them talk through it. Somehow I don't think they would have cared much. They played Ripples, which I wasn't expecting and closed with The Carpet Crawlers which was just like getting to go to hear the recording of Seconds Out. I remember Tonight, Tonight, Tonight, In the Glow of the Night/Domino, Land of Confusion, Mama, Home by the Sea/Second Home by the Sea, Throwing it all Away, Follow you Follow Me. There were definitely parts of Supper's Ready, Slippermen, Squonk, and Cinema Show. The drum duet started on a stool this time before wondering back to dueling kits.

Really the only downside was that its been so long since I have had this band in my regular rotation that I needed maybe half the show to remember what they were like. If you're going to another show, this will sound stupid, but warm up - listen to an album or two first. In the Cage was like the third tune they played. I wasn't really ready to appreciate it.

The production was nice. The sound was good, although there were things missing from the mix to my ear. The video was decent and not obtrusive - Mrs TANBI would have like the screens to have hung higher. The lights were what you would expect from Genesis, not a single conventional fixture - made me remember why I'd sent all those letters to Vari-Lite in the 80's.

The people were a lot older. There wasn't any smoking, and in stead of holding up lighters people were snapping pics with camera phones. Mine came out mostly blobs, but a guy in front of me had a better camera and I gave him a card, so maybe I'll have some better pics later.

Wish you'd been there? They're selling recordings of individual shows now. Doesn't even cost all that much. Check it out.

Although I am not a Big Fan...

can you do me a favor? can you put something up on your website or the ptm clearinghouse website asking for anyone who previously participated in growing theater as a grad or undergrad to contact me? i'm helping anne collect data for a grant, and i have some information but i'm sure there is more out there that i'm missing. i'm specifically looking for anyone who went on to work in education or outreach in some capacity after graduation.

also, did you see my article in pittsburgh magazine this month? ha ha

Andrea Shockling

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Just can't seem to find the groove lately. It must be out there. Its not about working or not working, or home or not at home, or sleeping or not sleeping. I don't know what it is about. All I really know is it's off.

That just about defines the blahs, yes?

I have early September Blahs, not to be confused with the late September Dogs.

Maybe it'll pick up over the weekend. Or not.

Yup, that's blahs.



Thursday, September 06, 2007

She's My Hero

MELISSA ETHERIDGE - ETHERIDGE ATTACKS SKINNY PARTY GIRLS: "Rocker MELISSA ETHERIDGE has lashed out at Hollywood's skinny stars because they continue to promote the sick message that rich and thin equals success and happiness."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Ticketmaster is so greedy they charge you $2.50 to print your own tickets... It got humid again... That sure is one comfy chair we bought... Can there be any doubt that whatever the official report says the administration will interpret it to be exactly what they want? I think not... I watched some pool play and the semis for the FIBA Championship of the Americas. The finals were on another network, one I don't get... I guess it's true, if there won't be a quiz, people won't do it... I hope Tim Gunn's show is good. It'd be a real shame if it sucks... I don't think I care what Apple announces tomorrow... We're back in the brother-in-law's fantasy football league this year. Confidence isn't very high... Someone ought to pay me for the time I spend shredding mail I don't want. They should pay you too... I can't make the DVR do what I want, although I have a sneaking suspiscion that if it were a TIVO I could... Gallactica mini-sodes are an unfair assault on loyal viewers... All the dining services on campus are open again. I was probably better off when they weren't... Is it wrong to not do something when not given a due date? I'll have to think about that... Brey'tak REALLY needs brushing... Congress is back in session. I feel better already. Not... Really I need to do something about our driveway... I wonder if I would enjoy being in OSWALD... All the mortgage stories on the radio are making me real nervous... I gave a book to my boss today. I hope she doesn't think it sucks... We got the "Forbidden Lego" book today. It's cool, but I think I was expecting more... I got the cats a "litter robot." So far they only trust it for #1. I wonder what that's about... I hope everyone had a good labor day weekend...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Reasonable Stopping Point

One of the hardest things to do in any home improvement project is to find the line. There's a point where this project ends and the next one begins. If you're not careful, buying a piece of furniture can turn into a major remodel with structural. Today we seemed to see a reasonable stopping point in our current project and we jumped at it. It's not like we're completely done, but it should be something that can be finished in its own time without any kind of blitz.

To review, we were converting "the Superman room" which used to be Mrs. TANBI's office into something that could be a more comfortable guest bedroom, but would primarily be used as a reading/sitting room. Also, the idea centered around a set of shelves I found online.

So, here's the funhouse photo of where we started. That's the web-slinger, the Dark Knight, and the Man of Steel if you're keeping track.

Then we have me dispensing with Superman. Just call me Lex-Paintor. No, on second thought don't call me that.

Two coats of Kilz to get rid of the super heros, then two coats of color - but first a bunch of masking. We hadn't done a green room yet. This photo is a little more funhouse.

Painting done, I go to the shop for 48 hours to fabricate the shelving unit. Then we ship it to the house and do another 8 hours of installation and paint touch up. I've already published the installed shelving photo.

I should say something about the shelves. First up, you don't save any money doing these yourself against buying something from IKEA. So if all you want are shelves, this is the wrong way to go. Costwise that assumes you are painting and can use #2 pine. If you plan to stain and want to go d-select or to poplar then this is a real expensive set of shelves.

It's also a lot of parts to keep track of. There are 24 pieces, and when you consider which edge you want to be forward (so you can get the best face out) then they are all different. Even being fairly anal and labeling a drawing and every single piece I still had a few confusing moments. All of the cross joints are eggcrated half-laps. I did these in the shop using a router, a 1/4" mortising bit, and a spacing jig. The set up is crucial, because if one slot is off a whole board is trash. That part of the process was actually pretty simple, but nerve-wracking.

I did the painting prior to assembly so I could roll it on flat. This worked real well. I can't imagine how aggravating it would have been doing all of the cubbies if it were already assembled. The one down side, if there is one, was that the latex paint really didn't want to cure. Even with a full 24 hour dry time the boards still didn't want to be stacked to ship, and every little particle of dust stuck immediately. Painting pine just isn't the same as painting walls, and the paint behaves differently.

The install has a few wrinkles. The parts are big, and delicate, so maneuvering everything in the tight confines of the room is somewhat difficult. You wind up having to lay everything out face down and do the boards running one way roughly spaced and just sitting on edge - hoping nothing will fall over. This isn't too tough on the first cross where you only have to make three joints. Making eight is another story. I gave up gluing after two boards. First, the glue was getting all over everything. It would drip on the floor, or I would brush it on and the board would fall over - it just wasn't meant to be. Second, although the joints were fairly loose in the shop, after two coats of paint and a change in humidity everything was a fairly tight press-fit. I figured that, plus the still curing paint would be enough. I could be wrong, only time will tell. On making eight joints simultaneously; it's possible to do this with one person, but if I did it again I would want three.

Believe it or not, there is a squareness issue to be dealt with here. Although the entire piece is like one big diagonal brace, until you attach the side pieces it is possible for the thing to squish more one way than the other. I'm fairly certain that I got this wrong, as the final height of my piece is not what it should be according to the drawing. Truthfully I don't know where the height went. Also, I have one real lousy corner for square - and then the walls turned out to not be plumb or true to the floor, so even if I had been spot on it would have still made an ugly spot when it came to installation. This is one aspect of in-home work that I will never prefer to building scenery. All the matching and templating seems much more difficult than what we get to do on stage.

I didn't think of a very good way to attach the side pieces. When I started the project I ordered a compressor and a pneumatic brad gun. They arrived the Monday after I finished the install, so my original plan to use brads sorta had to be revised. In the end I used drywall screws for everything. I pre-drilled every hole to keep from having splits. Also, on the door side stile I screwed the piece on from the inside out. It made some holes in the cubby, but it left the exposed side with no visible fasteners. Probably more work than it was worth. Anyway, these joints are probably the weakest in the whole piece. They are true toe-screws without much wood to hold them. You can see just a little bit in the photo above how I was unable to use this to suck the perimeter boards flush to the interior pieces. I guess some of those boards were cupped a little. It might have been worth it to use d-select for those - or it might have been more expensive without making any difference. If I ever build another set maybe I'll try that.

Finally, I broke two boards during the install. From the start I was concerned about the 1x12 holding together between the slots. In those regions it just sort of a six inch deep tab sticking out unsupported. Anyone that's done some carpentry will know that configuration is just itching to split. I cracked off one piece while somewhat indelicately smacking it to try to line up a joint. The second one I broke while I was walking across the back of the unit laid out on the floor - works fine for flats or platform frames, less so with 12 inch deep shelves with 6" free hanging pieces. Fortunately both breaks were real clean, took glue well and went back together with a couple of nails installed sort of in pocket holes. You can see above one of the shelves dressed with JC to cover this repair. The 1x12 appears to be more than enough to handle the weight of the books without breaking, but were an enterprising youngster to attempt to summit the piece several shelves would likely be lost in the effort. I'm considering using the late arriving air tools to retro-brad every one of the shelves in that configuration. But I'm not sold on it yet.

Anyway, it looks a lot better after paint touch ups and with books.

We haven't moved all the books in, but I think we'll have just enough room to not have room for any more books. The alternating direction of stacking comes from the original photo research. I personally feel like it dresses up the piece, but opinions vary.

Anyway, here's the most funhousiest picture yet showing the current state of things.

The painting is done and the shelves are done. We also remodeled the inside of the closet, doing two oversized shelves for those ubiquitous plastic bins. We're leaving the desk for the time being, but it is destined for another room now, to be replaced by an armchair, ottoman, and an end table. We purchased a reclining love seat from a local furniture clearance center and scavenged a lamp from our living room to come right up to the line. So there's still things to be hung on the wall, and a little more furnishing to do, but overall this project is complete. And I think pretty cool - although it's no Superman room.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Well Wishes

Dad had his second back surgery today. My thoughts are with him rather than here. Your well wishes are appreciated.