Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Link of the Day

Ever pay for wireless internet at a Starbucks? If so, this may intrigue you.

Do you live near a Starbucks? If so, this might be a way to help pay for your coffee and scone. It's the link of the day:

Monday, February 26, 2007

All is Right with the World

My fingers were crossed, but then my fingers are always crossed for Melissa Etheridge. Couldn't have happened to a better person.

Be strong. Speak True.


So this isn't as funny as I thought it would be, but it isn't because the idea is off. Its just because I picked the wrong song. I'll have to think about it some more.

Every now and then in interviews we see candidates that are headed toward lighting design and are just a triumph of technology over substance. We'll be trying to get at the idea of a thing, and all they will want to talk about will be the gel color or the kind of gear they used. Recently I made the analogy that when asked what they had for breakfast, they would tell you what kind of toaster they had...

"Well, we have the Toastmaster TOV200 so naturally I had to have toast..."

As sometimes happened with the group I was with the examples kept piling on, leading to probable responses to the question:

"How did you get here."

Which prompted:

"We got in my Ford Focus 5X"

and then:

"We had to turn right at the Blue Ridge Mountains."

Which quickly (and inevitably) became:

"We had to turn right at the R60 Ridge Mountains."

And that, dear readers is how a running gag is born. This will make less sense to those of you not in the technical theatre industry.
This land is your land, this land is my land
From P3351, to P4856
From the R27-wood P6902, to the gulf stream P2360
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a G713 of G322
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a R09 valley
This land was made for you and me

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Watch it Sunday Night!

Supposedly the top of the second hour. My fingers are crossed for her!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

New Toy

I bought a GPS.

I've wanted one for quite some time now. I think my folks and Mrs. TANBI each tried to gift me one, but I was difficult about it. They were all either too big, or not right, or too expensive, or whatever. I have this purchasing process ritual that usually goes on for months when I identify something I want to add to my inventory. That's what happened here. Had I set out to buy a GPS I don't think I would have bought this one. It lists fairly expensive, and had I seen it in the store I would have thought it was too small a screen. But I found it on on of the shopping deal sites I watch occasionally and it had great reviews and was half price.

How can you look off half price?

So now I have a GPS, and I am fair well giddy about it. It is very small, read "cute as a button." One of the reviews I read said "smaller than a tennis ball" and I didn't believe it, but it is. I would have thought that would be a disadvantage, but the screen is easily readable even though the unit is small and as an upshot it doesn't obstruct much of the windshield. I've had it running navigation on my way to and from work for the past couple of days even though I've driven back and forth from work so many times that I could likely do it sleeping. I did discover I have likely been taking the wrong parkway exit on my way home for the whole time I have lived at this address. Who knew?

I find myself screwing around a little, like I know I have to take a right turn to go someplace but make the left just to see where the thing takes me in order to correct. Maybe I'll even learn my way around Pittsburgh a little bit. Which is saying a lot seeing as how this is where if you make three right turns you will likely come up no place near where you started, and likely is also the community in which the phrase "you can't get there from here" was born.

The voice of the unit is very polite. It even sounds excited when it says "destination!" Like it is glad to be there. Also, it doesn't gripe when you go off the route, just says "re-calculating." Mrs. TANBI thinks there would be a market for one that would say "Hey! Where are you going?" I tend to agree. You can hook the thing up to your computer to download information. I wonder if you can flash it a new personality. That would be too cool.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I Know, I Know...

I should write something.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tim gets it the Hard-a-way

Maybe this will teach him to keep his opinion to himself...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

419 scammers tricked into re-creating Dead Parrot Sketch

Boing Boing: "In this youtube, two West African scam artists are duped into re-creating Monty Python's famous 'Dead Parrot' sketch. "

Monday, February 19, 2007

I Ruin Resumes

Here's one from the department of unintended consequences. Over the past week or so I have spent a lot of time working with students on their resumes. February turns out to be time when most of the theatre community looks for work over the summer. It's been during this stretch that I have noticed that my particular brand of problem solving, while having a net positive effect on production and pedagogy (or at least I hope so) has done a downright disservice to student resume writing.

It goes like this, up until two years ago we were in the traditional production mode that schools tend to be in. Students in my area working on production got to list things like Technical Director, Assistant Technical Director, or Master Carpenter on their resumes. They knew what to write and people reading the documentation understood what they were doing. Then two years ago I had an idea. It was a good idea and centered around people getting to do better projects and maybe work a little less - or at least spend their time more valuably. So we swapped the traditional structure for a commercial scene shop structure. Its been an interesting experience and has provided all kinds of nuances. One of the upshots though has been that the tried and true titles of the past no longer worked in practice and we wound up calling people Project Manager, Job Lead, and Carnegie Scenic Apprentice (if you're not me, if you are me you say Crazy Scheme Apprentice).

Really, I think once you get the conversation I think that these positions are better developmentally anyway - but, they do look odd on a resume. Additionally, depending on the people in the positions, the job responsibilities change significantly and when first seeing them many employers have no idea what we're on about. Oh well. Then I had another idea.

A year ago we had a discussion about how we were arranging freshman crew. At the time, most production students got a run crew and a build crew over the course of the year. Some people got significantly more than that. So when they went to write their resumes they would say run crew, or build crew; maybe focus crew or something like that. Again, straight forward and recognizable. Except that we were having many people that never got an opportunity to have all the experiences while simultaneously having the same people get overloaded with too much work. Enter the resume killing idea specialist again. We revamp the freshman experience: capping weeks, distributing experiences across all the disciplines, and tying the production experience directly to professionally mentored classroom work. Fabulous, seems to do great things, except what was build crew or focus crew now becomes:

Multi-Departmental Stagecraft Internship

and once again once you get to explain it is a wonderful thing, but at first glance nobody has any idea what we're on about.

So with two ostensibly good ideas I have pummeled the resumes of Freshmen, Juniors, Seniors, and all my Grads. This spring we are looking at the sophomore crew experience. At the moment it looks strikingly like Build Crew. My job seeking students can only hope I don't have any good ideas before this gets sent to the Registrar.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ok, Maybe the Fourth Time

Third Time's the Charm Update.

We can add one shovel to the list of three scrapers I have broken this week.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Third Time's The Charm

How much ice was there in Pittsburgh today, you ask? Go ahead, ask. I will tell you.

Today there was so much ice in Pittsburgh that I started the day with one ice scraper and finished the day with two.

After buying three.

Do the math, no that doesn't tell the whole story. Today I broke two ice scrapers while removing the clear candy shell from my truck. I broke one this morning before I took Mrs. TANBI to work - after she awoke to find her car frozen shut. Much later in the day I discovered that had I locked mine it would have been frozen shut too. So I went to Target, but they were completely sold out of ice scrapers (perhaps other people were having the same kind of day I was). So I went to Lowes, where there were many men grousing about how they had no salt, and bought a scraper I really wasn't happy with.

Which turns out to be ok, since when I went to pick up Mrs. TANBI I broke that one too.

Now knowing there weren't any to be had at Target and that the one's from Lowes sucked I tried Bed, Bath, & Beyond. I bought two just because of the record I had been establishing. Did you know there is an OXO Good Grips Ice Scraper? I didn't, but I do now. Both the evening purchases made it through scraping the other car when I got home this evening - had to scrape it to swap driveway positions. I am dubious that both of us will make it up the hill in the morning, but the four wheel drive vehicle is the one with the bigger challenge. I'm not sure how much use four wheel drive is on an inclined plane of ice though.

So how much ice? Three scrapers for every boy much (lets see the Beach Boys make an anthem out of that).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentines Day Mrs. TANBI!

I love you


This evening the entire world appears to have a hard candy shell... Anyone out there got a CAD solution for trimming a block to another entity? Not trimming an entity to a block, by the way. The other way round... We're supposed to have more snow tomorrow, my 'rents are going to Mexico and the in-'rents are going to Vegas. Just not fair... Nice to see Kansas appears to have softened on evolution... Just how much of the Studio 60 episode are we supposed to think was a hallucination? Maybe it was the whole thing. Some very nice edits though, I particularly liked tapping the forehead/knocking on the door... I bought a GPS. Half price and free shipping. I turns out I am a weak consumer... If given the opportunity, Freya will stay in the bed for the whole day. Freya is a bright cat... One more SPAM post on the Tag Board and I think it will be going away... They had their surge debate today. It doesn't appear to have changed anything... DUQ is in a pledge drive again. Like Ira Glass says: you must be pretty hard core if you listen to the pledge drive. Maybe tomorrow I will give them some money... It's Valentines Day. I should probably post something nice for Mrs. TANBI... He Shoots! HE SCORES! Five, count 'em F-I-V-E brand new 22" Flat Panel monitors for the Fisher Cluster. Shows it can never hurt to ask nicely... I didn't shovel our sidewalk. I can tell by the footprints going across the lawn at 90 degrees to the sidewalk that the postman won't care - and it's not like I am going to shovel the lawn...


Think Progress » Kansas approves evolution-friendly science standards.: "Kansas approves evolution-friendly science standards. MSNBC is reporting that the Kansas school board, “long ridiculed for its resistance to teaching evolution,” today rebuffed social conservatives and approved “science guidelines that embrace Charles Darwin’s mainstream theories.”"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Hosted at

It Isn't Enough

Sometime in the next couple of days Congress will vote on a number of resolutions regarding the President's surge plan for Iraq. I would like to take a moment to talk about a plan they aren't voting on. I've been thinking about this for some time now. I believe it started to crystallize after I heard a commentary on NPR about how Iraq and Viet Nam are different.

The commentator was fairly off put by all the current discourse comparing our current situation in Iraq to our earlier experience in Viet Nam. The gist of what he had to say was that they are very different, and that the difference is that in many ways that did not apply then this war really does matter. I don't want to insult anyone that participated in the earlier conflict, but the reasoning does make sense to me. At one point in the story the speaker quoted John McCain as saying that "...with Viet Nam, they didn't follow us home." It does seem that we are currently engaged with an enemy who will bring the conflict to our shores if allowed to prosper in their own yard. George W. Bush's "we'll fight them there so we don't have to fight them here" may not have been entirely true when he said it, but because of the actions since then, in hind site it almost seems prophetic.

The point of the "this one matters" argument was that in this case the consequences for failure are much much higher. From oil, to regional stability, to Israel, to something as ephemeral as our world diplomatic "juice" the dominoes in this failure are much greater than the possible outcomes of the previous domino theory.

I accept this premise. "You break it, you bought it" doesn't really tell the story, although Colin Powell's early admonition does start to express the sentiment. You can always discard something you bought but turn out not to want or break by mistake. This is more akin to fixing one's own roof. Even if you screw up the job you have to live under it. But for that analogy to work the homeowner would also have to live alone on a desert island, because (if I am allowed to mix metaphors) our behavior leading up to this attempted home improvement drove off anyone else with a tool. And in this situation, there's also a storm brewing and we need the protection of our roof.

We need to let go of the disagreements about how we came to be in this situation. We can no longer care if anyone that voted for the authorization for aggressive action then would now, knowing what they know today, vote the other way. Perhaps that rhetoric has a place in the coming elections, but it is meaningless within the context of strategic decisions about how to proceed with the war effort. We cannot argue about the means the administration used to get people to vote the way they wanted. We can only look at the French, the Russians, and the Chinese and wish we had had the fortitude that they had at the time to say no.

We didn't.

Whether we supported it or not, our country started a war in Iraq. We have the responsibility to ourselves and our children to do whatever it takes to succeed.

And this, well I can't believe this, this puts me in the position of having to say that I agree with Vice President Cheney - that right now the greatest threat to our success in Iraq is that we as a country may not have the fortitude to do what is necessary.

Now don't get me wrong, there's still a right way and a wrong way to do things, and the guys at the controls now hit the wrong button more often than not. But lets not confuse strategy and tactics. Leaving the justification for action as a postulate, the biggest mistake s that have been made and the most disagreeable actions we've taken (or that have been taken in our name) have been tactical. There's no reason we can't change up tactics and still complete what we began without further dishonoring ourselves and our nation.

Much of what is left is very hard to say and grinds against everything I think I am. But I don't see another answer.

Where should we go from here? Stipulating that failure is not an option means we have to win. So beginning by coming up with what it means to win might be a good start. "We will stand down when the Iraqis stand up" is a nice sound bite, but it doesn't carry much information. The country has a free standing democratically elected government right now, so that can't be it either. Clarification of an end state might go a long way to helping us see our way - and to see the whole board.

We also just can't continue to go it alone. Somehow the rest of the nations of the world have to be brought into play (hopefully on our side). How would that be done? I don't know. After the arrogant way we chose to begin the initiative I don't know what it would take to bring our allies back into the conflict. But they need to be made to see that an international message of "we told you so" isn't productive and that a failure on our part hurts them more than it hurts us. I'm not certain the last bit is true, but it makes sense. The instances of radical Islamic problems are already higher in European countries than in the US, so it only seems to follow that a general amplification of the problem manifests more prominently there than here, at least for a time.

So what would possibly convince the other world powers that they need to come in and that we're not the strutting blowhards that we seem to be? Perhaps we should put someone in charge of the war they might be able to trust. They certainly don't trust the people running it now. Even in countries where the leadership has stayed with us, the popular sentiment is not with them, or us. Do you think Colin Powell could be coaxed out of retirement to clean up the mess he warned us about in the first place? A move like that would be read as a shocking admission of policy failure on the part of the Bush administration while having the twin advantages of not actually changing the policy (which we've now postulated is unavailable) and putting someone equipted to handle the gig in place.

Would Colin Powell be enough? Its a start, and more than just the man you get the Powell Doctrine: do not enter a battle without overwhelming superiority. That would stop the discussion of the surge.

The country is now in a snit over 21,000 troops. We should be talking about 1,000,000 troops. Enough troops to pacify Iraq, while simultaneously picking up the ground we've been losing in Afghanistan, and maintaining a reserve to deal with other flare ups or domestic emergencies. We shouldn't be talking about a "surge" we should be talking about a "WAR!"

Maybe an untainted commander and one million American Freedom Fighters would jar world opinion out of inaction.

Maybe loosing the American armed forces from people so tightly bound to industry and money would convince the extremists that their best chance is to work within the system, not to rail against it.

Does it get worse before it gets better? Absolutely, but at least an effort of this scope would put the momentum behind the push needed to change the direction. What we have now is just more good money after bad, more good people after other good people. None of them with a mission, support, or a mandate to be successful in any way. We're currently petering out an endgame where we lose. A 20,000 troop surge to this war is like honestly trying to lose weight by giving up french fries. It isn't enough. We have to commit everything we are to getting this done, or in the end it will be us who wind up done.

Draft? Yes. Convert industry? Yes. No more stories about not having the troops we need or the gear they need. Suspend normal day to day American life? Yes. Aside from the people who have family in the conflict and the companies profiteering off of the effort, very few people in this country have been touched by the war at all. How do you support your troops? Do you fly an American flag on your SUV? Maybe you should only drive your SUV on even numbered days to conserve fuel. What are we doing watching American Idol? The only American superstars right now ought to be people directly involved in the war effort. Whatever we're making in our factories right now, if it doesn't help end this conflict in our favor we need to put it aside and start making something that does.

Broad strokes changes, world changing events are not brought about by half measures or in the background. We broke it, we bought it, and failure is not an option. Regardless of how many people did or did not vote for the President, he is the President of the United States of America. Regardless of how many Congressmen voted for the war, what they thought they were voting for, or what they thought they knew when they were voting, the Congress of the United States of America and the President put our Army in harms way and our reputation on the line. We as a country need to step up and demand they do everything they possibly can, not everything the conveniently can, but using every resource at our disposal to put an end to and secure us a victory in this conflict.

Anything else would be patently un-American, and a half measure we will pay for though not just years, but generations.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Long Comment at the Sliver

The Palmyra Sliver: "Like most government attempts to fix things, I fear that cable ala carte will, in the end, only make cable even more expensive and make for less choices of stations.

I don't think it really has anything to do with government actually. Somehow, whether they de-regulate something or regulate it, in the end it costs more. Sort of a something for nothing, perpetual motion machine of regulation and corporate profit.

There certainly are a lot of channels on my cable I don't watch, but when you dig into it you find you don't pay for most of them anyway, the broadcaster strong arms the carrier to take the unwatched channels in order to get the one channel they want... Want NBC? Well then you have to carry ShopNBC. Then NBC can sell more ads and they are happy. The cable company can say there's nothing they can do, so they don't care. And the customer is stuck with ShopNBC and feels like they are paying for something they don't watch, when in reality they are just paying for NBC in a round about way.

Internet video will be the death knell for all of it if government keeps the development robust and doesn't kneecap it to keep the existing providers and carriers fat.

With DSL you can almost moot cable now - almost. Some live things are hard to manage in real time. But just about everyeverything that goes on TV is available online eventually if you know where to look and are not conflicted about downloading it.

Well. This was quite long."

Yuki-taro Robot looks like Pokemon and plows snow from your driveway "The self guided has GPS and a pair of cameras embedded in its eyes, it sweeps in the snow compresses it and poops out hard cubes of ice 24 inches wide which can be in turn used for refrigeration and cooling. "

Clippy R.I.P. - The World Wasn't Ready For You?

Gizmodo, The Gadget Guide: "With recent tragedies surrounding our space an pornography programs, one major death has been passed over by the media."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Shopping Carnage

I finally finished buying my birthday present from my folks. They gift carded me to Best Buy with the thought I would get myself a new TV or a GPS. I went another route, buying myself 17 items over at least 20 store trips.

Here's the butcher's bill:

A: document shreader to replace my dead one
B: new DVD player for the bedroom
C: one desktop and one laptop netcams as gifts for my sister and her husband
D: DVDs for the collection: The Incredibles, Ice Age, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Any Given Sunday
E: CDs for the collection: Early Days & Latter Days: Led Zeppelin, Despite Our Differences: Indigo Girls, Love: The Beatles, the Happy Feet soundtrack, and Children Running Through: Patty Griffin
F: GorillaPod camera tripod
G: Replacement Ink set (Actually it was a 56/57 set, not the 45)
H: New earbuds
I: 1 gig data card for my digital camera (up from 256mb)

I think on the whole I did real well, although I did re-gift a fairly large chunk at Christmas. It was real hard to resist the impulse to use my parents birthday gift to purchase them a holiday gift. So that it was just the cameras for my sister was a bit of an achievement in and of itself.

I can't decide if I honored the spirit of the gift or not. As it is, there isn't any one shining new item to point to, but then how many birthday gifts really last three and a half months in the unwrapping phase? And most of the gift went to gift items, not like taking a cash gift and paying bills so it is all things I am able to enjoy. Plus, I can't think of a time where I would have comfortably walked out of a store with this much in discretionary spending behind me. So that is very cool.

Thanks much Mom & Dad!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Presidential Visit

So just what is the correct turn of phrase to introduce your ex-girlfriend to your wife (who is also on the order of 20 years her junior)? This is just one of many thoughts to cross my mind while attending a dinner tonight hosted by the President of our University in his home.

I mean, how do you turn down an invitation from the President - your boss' boss' boss?

It was a nice evening. The President's Residence is a very nice house in Squirrel Hill, formerly owned by among other people the chairman of Alcoa. Many of us spent a good deal of time trying to figure out what the metric was that had been used to select the attendees. Aside from my ex there wasn't a single person in attendance I knew - although there were one or two I recognized. Some time into the event the scuttlebutt was that it was a gathering of non-tenured, tenure track faculty who had been at the school since at least 2002. Really I think we would have come up with something better had we been made to guess.

Mrs. TANBI and I did meet a nice couple from Architecture, specifically Architecture Historians. They proffered the thought that the time loved story that Baker Hall's corridors are sloped so that if the venture failed as a school the building could be easily turned over into a factory is apocryphal. (ed note: I just spelled that "apocraphal" which although wrong I believe conveys a more vivid impression as not only false, but also a load of crap.) Since this is something that is like line one of the tour that every prospective student gets, Mrs TANBI and I were suitably shocked. The problem with the debunking is that the true reason for the sloped corridors wasn't part of the effort. We theorized that perhaps Andrew had one leg longer than the other and the hallways were configured such that when facing sideways he naturally stood upright. Its as good a reason as any I suppose.

Visits like this strike me as something that in the best case you make no impression at all. You don't want to be the one to spill red wine on the antique couch or some such thing. We spoke to the President and his wife two times each. All in all I think we did very well, although I am not certain it was in my best interest to declare that I knew for a fact that you could not use the University Procurement Credit Card in a Las Vegas casino. I mean, the statement was on topic and made sense, but perhaps I hadn't used the best sense making it (but really, you can't use a TT card in an out of town hotel). This is perhaps the sort of thing your boss' boss' boss might hope you really don't know.

Still, I wore a tie. Maybe that will count for something.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


I have been spring from dial-up and fee-for-use hell... As cold as it is here, it was colder there... My office appears to be like a treadmill, and apparently it's been running all along... Nice to be missed, although not for being a jerk... So much for Da Bears, I guess its a good thing there was no family betting... Blue line to the airport: $2, can't beat that with a stick... The class is not going to be happy with tomorrow's quiz, or at least thats what I am told... only 36 messages in the inbox after a week away and only 30 minutes of triage, not too bad... I'm uncertain I like doing business in the corridor, even if there is a sofa, coffee table, and two easy chairs... Just please leave the astronut alone, she snapped, happens to a lot of people and we don't turn it into a federal inquiry. Most times it doesn't even make the news. Book 'em on Springer if you have to, but please no more CNN... I fixed the 'rent's DVR. I unplugged it and then plugged it in. Gotta love technology... In case it happens to you, if the bank says "fuel" they might mean "Tauberg"... We're in that post super bowl black hole and I hardly even noticed a difference. Such is life for an NBAless city in February... Probably you shouldn't interview with me if you list Apple Tree on your resume and you weren't memorable... The Day Ford people won't stop calling... I hope it gets warm enough for the salt to work soon... I think maybe they should combine snow days with "take your daughter to work day" as it appears thats what happens anyway... Great, now I have to go back and tag all the "ellipses..." entries...

What's Next, A Ban On Walking While Talking? Oh Wait...

Techdirt.: "First there were bans on yakking while driving; then it was yakking while bicycling. So it's only logical that they'd go after yakking while walking.. That's right, a state senator in New York wants to ban the use of cell phones and iPods while crossing the street. The proposed legislation comes after two pedestrians in New York were recently killed, walking across the street while listening to their iPods. "

Good-bye Sesame Street

Think Progress: "President Bush’s new budget proposes to “cut federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by nearly 25 percent.” Throughout Bush’s term, the administration has worked to cut funding and put an “ideological stamp” on the content of the programs."

Comcast Fined For Being Too Slow At Answering Customer Calls

Techdirt: "This one should make anyone who's experienced being on hold for way too long smile. Comcast has now been fined $12,281.84 in Montgomery County, Maryland, for being too slow to answer customer service calls."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

So Very S-L-O-W

I am in dial-up hell, where checking my email is an achievement. One would hope that it will end soon. But for the time being I suggest checking out some of the previous links of the day.