Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I've fallen way behind on the book reviews (reviews in general actually - but the movie and TV shows don't physically pile up on my desk). So here's some catch up by way of a more capsule format:

Light - M. John Harrison
Ok, I will admit it, I bought this book because it has a cat on the cover. The graphic is clean and interesting and the copy on the back says something about self-aware, intelligent spacecraft and so I thought I'd give it a go. It trys to be this sort of epic scale story of humanity reaching for the stars. I guess it succeeds, but in the end I cared very little for any of the people, really didn't understand why they were doing what they did, and then to boot the worlds they moved in were fairly unengaging. There was sex and violence that didn't so much contribute, really much that seemed just for the sake of itself. It's an ok summer read, but there are lots of those.

The Cylons' Secret - Craig Shaw Gardner
I figured I'd give a Battlestar novel a chance. I've liked most of the Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who books I've read. This one makes it self out to be in the universe of the current TV series. If it is, it is only on deep, deep background. The only common characters are Tigh and Adama, and the story takes place prior to Adama getting his first command. So that was fairly disappointing. Overall the story is ok, a tale of a cut off research station where humans and mech Cylons have learned to live together and then the fallout of their being discovered once again. Again, fairly solid summer reading, but truthfully nothing to blog the whole internet about.

Bloodlines- Karen Travis/Betrayal - Aaron Allston
These two pretty much hang together. Yes, Val, I am one of those people with these books. These are the first two of the "Legacy of the Force" series. We're 40 years post A New Hope here. The storys center around Jacen Solo (that's Han and Leia's older son for those without a scorecard). These don't have the depth of the Thrawn books, and they don't have the pace of the X-Wing stories, but they stand on their own and are faithful and respectful to the rest of the panopticon. There's a bunch of good stuff surrounding Boba Fett's family and people. Fett is a great character, and 99% of that is from what was written after the movies. Probably the hardest thing to grasp in these books are that Luke, Mara, Han, & Leia are now in their late 50's. Try as I might, I just can't picture them that old - and based on some of the physical things they do I think the author's might have the same issue.

Allegiance - Timothy Zahn
I have really thoroughly enjoyed each Timothy Zahn Star Wars novel. That is true of this one as well, all though I had some trouble getting on board with the basic premise. This book is pre-Battle of Yavin, during the Empire. At some point someone must have been involved in a conversation where they came up with the idea that the stormtroopers weren't evil, it was the emperor. So some of the troopers must have been stand up guys. This book is about a group of stormies who desert and become vigilante do-gooders. Just a real high diameter pill to swallow at the outset, but if you can supend your disbelief into siding with stormtroopers then this book will impress. (I never had any problem liking Thrawn, Pealleon, older and younger Fel, and Mara - even Fett. I wonder why I can't really picture white hatted stormtroopers.)

High Profile & Spare Change - Robert Parker
Someone once said of Iasaac Asimov's prolific publishing: "that's not writing, that's typing!" I wonder what they would say about Robert Parker. I think he has four novels coming out this year. Take that JK, Parker coulda wrapped up Harry Potter in two years. This is a Jesse Stone and a Sonny Randal. But really they're all Spensers, just cop Spenser and chick Spenser, and that's fine with me. I think maybe Parker has gotten the investigative process down almost too well. They always say that its really just dogged and waiting. Sometimes reading these books you get the feeling the crime is just a wall falling over in slow motion. Also, I think this is more in the recent books than the earlier ones but it seems like the "who" is always fairly clear pretty early. The books have become more about being able to prove it, or finding out the "why." Since Parker started writing Sonny Randal I have been waiting for the Grand Unifying Parker Book, for the story with Spenser, Jesse, and Sonny - not to mention Quirk, Belson, Joe Broz, Ritchie, Susan, Rita, Hawk, Spike, Healy and the rest of the regulars. Jesse and Sonny get together in High Profile and I was thrilled. So much so that when they talk about the disposition of that affair in Spare Change I was sad all over again. Both books are a good read, solid Parker.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Toss Up

So, the poll is complete and the "eh's" have it:

For the record, we went ahead and did it - before the poll closed, we had a party to throw. I've allowed myself to be talked into thinking its a good deal. There just appear to be some rules to follow. The first seems to be that you only buy what you mean to buy and you go to CostCo first for those things. Every time you buy something at another store you could have bought at CostCo you are paying just a little bit more for the membership.

Second, beware of the fresh food. Which is not to say that the fresh food isn't good. Its more about whether or not you can really eat three heads of lettuce, or ten pounds of potatoes before they spoil.

Oh, and don't buy a 50" Plasma TV just because its right there in front.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Please Hold on the Line...

Confessions: Why You Can't Cancel Your Account, An Insider's Perspective - Consumerist: "Corporations are ultimately responsible for creating and supporting ruthless retention practices, though that doesn't absolve CSRs who lie about canceling accounts just to get customers off the phone.

Canceling an account is a battle of wills. Corporations are determined to keep your money; CSRs are determined to keep their job. Don't be a pushover. If one call doesn't work, call back. Keep calling until your account is cancelled; and then, call once more to verify."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Get Together Hits & Misses

We had people over to the house today for a bar-b-que. I always like having parties like this as they usually have knock on effects for purchases and organization. This time around I bought some shelves to help clean up the garage and as a result probably pushed back an inevitable garage/yard sale at least a year (although I'm not saying that's a good thing, but the stuff that was making us think "we MUST get rid of this stuff" is no longer in our way.

Overall a good time was had by all. Some hits and misses:

Yinzer invitation - hit
Parkway construction - miss

Zane throwing rocks at house - hit
Zane throwing rocks at my truck - miss

Enormously thick burgers - hit
Second round of thick burgers - miss

Grilled veggie skewers - miss
Grilled peaches ala Bobby Flay - hit

Pino, crack blondie thing - hit
Costco cookies - miss

Chicken skewers - hit
Turkey dogs - miss

Truck bed playpen - hit
Truck bed trampoline - miss

Charcoal lighter chimney - miss
Grilling basket for peaches - hit

Please, please take this beer home with you - hit
Please, please take these deserts home with you - miss


Think Progress » Time For President To Come Clean On Tillman Cover-Up: "President Bush is not helping at all. With these new details, and his decision to invoke executive privilege in the Tillman investigation, the President is certainly sending the signal that he has something to hide."

Redirect #2

Over at RandomThoughts again today.

Laugh While It's Still Funny

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Well Said


Today I am blogging here.


To Pissed To Post

Doesn't happen much, but a film I saw tonight made me so livid I had to stop watching and I can't get my shit together enough to write about it. I am not usually way way out of the loop, but I think this time the media machine got me and I was TOTALLY CLUELESS:

Did you know that several years ago GM, Honda, & Toyota all had production, plug-in, totally electric cars for sale in the US? 70 mile range on a charge. I am not talking about concept cars at shows, I am talking about production cars at dealers.

What was I doing that week? RRR THIS MAKES ME SO ANGRY!!!!

Here, you be pissed too: Sony Pictures Classics Presents: Who Killed the Electric Car?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Skittles Rock!

I Do Like My Melissa

Yes I do. As another curious part of the Google Reader experience, I am following the blog on Melissa Etheridge's MySpace page (Melissa has over 27000 friends - that's networking!). I rarely if ever check the MEIN page even though I am a proud fan club member. So I am often a little bit behind on the news. I'm on a mailing list or two, but really I tend to delete them after a real cursory scan (read - "not"). So you can imagine how cool it was to see the story some up on the feed saying they were leaking 30 seconds of a new track off the upcoming album on MySpace.

And how much cooler it was to see on the MySpace page that for MEIN members you could hear the whole song on the fan club page - I knew I paid again for something.

The song is sort of more of the same. It's nothing that will blow your socks off if you aren't already a Melissa fan. I however was floored. Really I think it wasn't so much the song as the idea of the song - and I don't mean the thought behind the song or its construction or lyrics. I just mean: WOW wasn't it just unbefuckingleavably cool to be hearing Melissa Etheridge again!

I can remember being at shows after a long hiatus, and being close enough to make eye contact and just grinning so hard my face hurt. It's been quite a while since Lucky, and when I got to hear a new tune I was just so stoked. I wish she had a new album every 10 months, and would tour behind every single one.

Ok. I am an MLE geek. But today I was a floored, stoked, happy geek. Welcome back old friend.

Yet Another Triumph of Good Government - Not

OpenCongress - Congress Gossip Blog: "Over time, the bill's focus has moved away from its original intent and has become a subsidy for a select group of crops, passing savings along to the big agribusiness corporations who use them in manufacturing. This system has come under increased criticism for its negative impacts on such wide-ranging issues as the health of Americans (and all the personal and social harms caused by poor health), global poverty and immigration, and environmental degradation. The bill will hit the House floor on Thursday and unfortunately, it looks like the farm bill reform that Americans had been hoping for will have to wait another five years."

Macy's Employees = Stagehands?

Polls: Should Macy's Require Employees To Wear Black? - Consumerist: "Starting this September, all Macy's employees will be required to wear black clothes to work."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Wonder if I am on a List

Blake would probably know, but he probably can't say.

I recently started using Google Reader. I guess I've talked about that before. One of the knock ons is that I am reading some things I used to look at only occasionally every single day. Sites like EFF, Think Progress, Consumerist, Open Congress, and yes even the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Previously I read quite a few papers as part of composing the green page. But that was just arts coverage. Now I am seeing quite a bit more about government and legislation.

Combine that with the relative ease of sending an email to various government officials and you come up with a rather squeaky wheel. In the last month I have written to my Senators, Congressman, State Representative, and the FCC just to round it out. I've talked about education, copyright, smoking, impeachment, a real range of causes. It leaves me to wonder two things.

First I have to wonder if anyone really reads the things. I get responses from the various offices. My Congressman sends me a letter through the USPS every time I send him an email. That can't be very cost effective. The FCC sent me a nice email saying that they are not permitted to intervene just because someone says something despicable on the radio because of the first amendment. Now, if they said "fuck" that would be a completely different story.

But really, with every desk bound whackjob like me emailing so often it must just all go right down the drain, yes? I can't imagine they would even task an intern to read all the email. The federal correspondence goes through a web form. Maybe they have some kind of bot that does the work for them.

Second, well, second I wonder how many letters you have to write before you get on some kind of whackjob index.

Whatever it is, I fear I may have exceeded it.

More to Ping Your People About...

Boing Boing: CALL YOUR SENATOR NOW! Senate trying to force colleges to buy snoopware for copyright enforcement: "Major copyright holders are backing a legislative proposal to make colleges do their dirty work. The Higher Education Act is supposed to make going to college more affordable, but, under a last-minute amendment, certain schools would risk losing federal funding for student aid if they don't divert funds away from education and toward policing corporate copyrighted content on their campus network."

Monday, July 23, 2007


OpenCongress - Congress Gossip Blog: "Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced a bill to impeach Dick Cheney in April and it has received 14 co-sponsors since then. Over the weekend, House Judiciary Committee Chariman John Conyers (D-MI) stated that if three more Congressmen sign on to the bill, he will begin the impeachment proceedings."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Link of the Day

I spent some time today clearing old bookmarks. I have a folder labeled "Link of the Day" for sites I think will be good for this page, but it seems I rarely get around to actually posting them. While culling through today I found at least half of the links were now bad. All the more reason to poop the rest out quick.

Without further fanfare:

12On/12Off is a group of film and TV professionals that think that the type of "long haul" day that is standard in the industry ought not to be standard.

They might say it like this:

Our Credo

As individuals, we believe every human being working in the film industry has a right to enjoy a life outside of their work, including family, friendships, and sleep.

As managers, we believe that while occasional long days can be an acceptable part of our work, repeated excessive shifts and frequent insufficient turnaround are not.

As crafts-people, and technicians it is our responsibility to initiate discussions about these concerns and to look out for the well-being of everyone on our sets.

As human beings, we believe that every person’s health, safety, and life are worth more than any product we can produce while jeopardizing same.

As an organization, our responsibilities include developing and disbursing educational materials to promote these three basic rules of humane and responsible film making.

Certainly something worth discussion, and the link of the day.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Don't Touch That Button

Well, Peg warned us all a while back about the template conversion process going from old Blogger to new Blogger. I listened until today, and now I wish I had listened a little longer. Today I foolishly clicked something labeled "convert template" and POOF!!! everything I had added to the sidebar was gone.

But really, is this such a bad thing?

I've managed to recover a few of the bits from the old template, and its encouraged me to do some editing/revising. I don't think the Bunnyhero Labs figure will be back. Really it was time for me to be over Trinity and also the applet would crash a lot. The tag-board is gone. If I do a new one I will get a better app, but really it was just myself and spammers using the thing. The random image generator never worked on Firefox, so I haven't actually seen it in quite a long time. I would rather people click through the "TANBI Shared Items" instead of some generic news feed - so those are history.

I got to keep the hitmap and the counter, and they didn't reset, which is cool. I'll be looking for a "feed subscriber" widget soon. I'm thinking of adding a recent comment widget. But mostly I haven't thought about it, which is NOT the state to be in when triggering an automatic revision. (By the way, if anyone has any ideas for blog template revisions, now would be a good time to send them).

In the mean time, things seem to load faster and scroll smoother. Maybe we'll have less hanging. Also, I like now that the sidebar doesn't leap to the bottom of the page if your window is to narrow. Come to think of it I bet some people are seeing things they've never seen before. So there's a plus anyway.

So, "Pardon the Mess" and all that. Should have it stabilized in a week or two.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Um, We're Not Paying Attention

Evolution Minute: Poll figures on the American view of creation: "48% said they believe that God, in a single act, created human beings in their present form, sometime within the last 10,000 years"

One Page Please - For Deano

So call this a public service. Apparently it wasn't a big "duh" to tell a group of college instructors to advise their students to do one page resumes.

Um, if you are a college drama student go do this right now: ask your advisor how long a standard entertainment resume should be. If they say ANYTHING except

"one side of one page"

run, do not walk, to the registrar's office and drop out immediately. This is so basic there is just no other appropriate response.

I guess my first information here dates back to undergrad. I went to USITT in Milwaukee and attended a "Job Seekers Toolkit" session during which I was clued in to the whole "one page secret." Really if there is anyone left in this business that doesn't know this by now - I mean that session wouldn't have been the progenitor of the information, it would have been long before that, but the session was 18 years ago. Anyone left in this business that is unaware that a resume should be one side of one page probably isn't really in this business.

If that's the advice you are getting, you need a second opinion.

Here's a life preserver:
  • One (1) side of one (1) page
  • White or off white paper is standard
  • No more than two (2) fonts
  • Name, current phone, current email - nobody is going to mail you anything
  • No more than 10 years back for experience - don't list ANYTHING you don't want looked at as if it is the primary credit
  • If you are currently in college you can list your high school, if you have graduated college only list your high school if the person you are applying to is from that area
  • Three references with current contact info - resumes that say "references available by request" go in the round file - ASK YOUR REFERENCES BEFORE YOU LIST THEM!!!
  • Make sure the type is large enough to copy or fax
And, oh yeah, ONE SIDE OF ONE PAGE. It's a resume, not a CV. A CV is something else entirely.

And if you are an advisor who is unaware of this widely accepted industry standard, you really ought to get out more.


I am no better at getting my grading done during pre-college than during the regular year... I believe that TV has just spontaneously decided to suck... The people at Cirque told us to make sure our kids' resumes are one page only. Pretty Earth shattering... I am going to have someone wash our house. That's too bizarre... I need to cull out some subscriptions on my Google reader account... Papa's got a brand new bag! A Timbuk2 "Commute." First new bag in over ten years... I went to work today, first day back in town. I didn't even get to my list... Know that Simpson's episode where Homer gets a stamp "NOT INSANE?" That's me... I can't find ear buds that I like... I think the cats missed me. Either that or they are very excited about this new person they've never seen before... I self censored myself on a comment I was going to put on my own blog. That's a new level of paranoid... Apparently there is a survey now that says I am not scary... Coming back to 80 degrees/80% humidity I might elect to stay with 108 degrees/10% humidity... I am just a little less excited about the HP book than I was for the iPhone... I have a 2005-2006 academic calendar hanging in my home office. I should probably take it down. Right after I erase the family tree I drew for Mrs. TANBI in 2004... Should I go to Parent's Weekend? They've reminded us it was in our letter of agreement. Maybe I should remind them I never signed that letter... I have lost 10 pounds since Maui. I attribute this to nothing at all and am mystified... I am never going to write the book reviews I keep meaning to write for this page... Pittsburgh appears to be about to enact a cat tax. They certainly know where the money is... I hung a tie in the closet several hours ago. I wonder if the cats have ruined it yet? Best put in a drawer I guess... Do you have a Don Pablos near you? Don't bother asking why the dish featuring three enchiladas costs more than the pick three combo selecting three enchiladas. It's just one of life's mysteries... 50,000 is coming...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Insurance Just Sucks

Dvorak Uncensored » US private insurance less effective than American Medicare: "Paul Krugman writing in the New York Times has a great article about the supposed benefits of the private health insurance industry."

From Our Friends at Avolites

Company Procedure: "Entirely too much time is being spent in the toilet. There is now a strict three-minute time limit in the stalls. At the end of three minutes, an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, the stall door will open, and a picture will be taken. After your second offence, your picture will be posted on the company bulletin board under the 'Chronic Offenders category'. Anyone caught smiling in the picture will be sanctioned under the company's mental health policy."


Back from Lost Wages and two days of Cirque-O-Rama.

Old things:
Todai Sushi Buffet, Samba Steakhouse @ Mirage, Tour of Ka

New things:
Mirage Buffet, Big meeting w/Cirque, Tour of Love, Love, Little meetings with Cirque, Mystere, Pho @ TI


Love is good, but ultimately I think I like Mystere more (really I like O better than both, but maybe thats a pride thing). Meetings with Cirque were a nice beginning. We'll just have to see what comes of it from here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Believe it or Not, I can Explain This

Looks like a group of my summer students has decided to demonstrate their philisophical agreement with me graphically...

It goes like this, I have a lecture I do for my Technical Design class that is titled:

Spitballing, and Why I Hate Zebras

We included that session in the summer syllabus this year, and it looks like it sunk in. The zebra thing is a combination of two truisms. The first is "a camel is a horse designed by committee." The second, which is a little more obscure comes from medical training around diagnostics and goes "if you hear hoof beats think horses, not zebras."

Theatre is very much a committee artform. It's sexier to call it a collaborative artform, and thats what we do. But the fact remains that ideas, priorities, and decisions are nearly always effected by a group of people - people with divergent interests. Just the sort of people that if sitting down around a table together to design a horse would come out with a camel. "Wouldn't it be great if you didn't need a saddle, but if there was just a natural place to sit..."

This is I guess shorthand for saying you don't often wind up with what you started with.

Engineering is very much like making a diagnosis. You take a look at all of the requirements and conditions, the technical design "symptoms" if you will, and come up with an approach. Just like in medicine often the same kind of conditions (hoof beats) can lead to both standard type solutions (horses) or exotic solutions (zebras).

Mediumhand for the longhand idea expressed by the ultra-shorthand: "K.I.S.S" Keep it simple, Stupid.

So why do I hate zebras? Combine the two truisms and you come up with the reason why when a student appears to be headed out onto the savanna that we try to get them to come back onto the ranch. There is elegance and value in keeping your solutions simple for their own sake, but when you factor in that theatre is a collaborative artform and you very rarely wind up with what you alone started with there is even more value to starting with something standard, understandable, and adaptable.

Put another way, at least if you start out with a horse the drift might only reward you with a camel. If you begin your process with a zebra, well nobody has ever even seen a black and white striped camel.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Talk Radio

Station Manager, WPGB

I am writing this letter to you to file a complaint regarding something I had the misfortune to hear on 104.7’s “Quinn & Rose” show this morning (roughly 8:45 EDT 7/13/07). I should preface by saying that I listen to many programs on 104.7, so while my politics may not be 100% aligned with the content, I do respect and enjoy hearing a range of opinions.

This morning “Quinn” misused a historical quote to imply that Margaret Sanger, the founder of planned parenthood wanted to kill Black people.

I was stunned.

The quote goes along the lines of “we do not want Blacks to get the idea that we are trying to kill them, Black ministers should be used to dispel that impression” or something close to that. He made it out as if wiping out Blacks was her goal, and she was seeing that ministers could be used to keep it a secret. A more likely interpretation would be that a historically oppressed population – one that was still well put down at the time of the statement – might interpret any family planning effort in a devious way and that since the ministers were typically forward minded that they could be recruited to help explain the truly beneficial initiatives.

This type of willful misinformation is despicable. It serves no purpose but to sow hatred and to drive Americans apart, and it certainly has no place on any station that calls itself “NewsTalk.” I was personally offended by this grossly false assertion, and the only reason I am not going to include a demand for an on-air apology is that my true hope is that this show never return to the air in Pittsburgh, ever. I’ll be copying this message to Clear Channel and to the FCC as well as to many other Pittsburghers who may have not had the misfortune to have heard the show.

By the way, in these situations there is usually some room to assume that I simply misinterpreted what he said. Since he finished up the bit by saying “At least the slave masters had a reason to keep you alive.” I am fairly certain that’s not the case here.

David Boevers
Forest Hills

cc: Planned Parenthood, NAACP, Clear Channel, Media Matters, FCC

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'm Out of the Loop

Looks like we're playing a little loose with the chronology. Fine with me. I love Michelle Forbes.

"If You Go Through Life a Little Bit Depressed..."

Boing Boing: Burning Man and Generation Dobler: "These types could be called Generation Dobler, after the famous quote from the sad sensitive man-child character, Lloyd Dobler, played by John Cusack in the 1989 film Say Anything."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

David is Scared of the MPAA

So I was going to include clips from Collateral and Jarhead so you could see what I am talking about specifically; but even though I believe even posting to this blog for this purpose would be fair use, just having it up on YouTube would not be. I guess I could still load it, set it to private, and then only link to it from here. Not sure if it matters.

But here is where I was going anyway:

Jamie Foxx: Expert Estimator

I need you help out there. I am going to make the leap to PowerPoint for my course lectures. The thing that finally sold me was Mr. Jamie Foxx. It turns out that Mr. Foxx has done a couple of movie scenes where he speaks directly to the subject of estimating.

The first lesson is in Collateral. In this film Mr. Foxx shows us that you build accurate estimates by breaking large, undefinable things into small, easily analyzable things:

(checks his watch)
How long you think this'll take?

Fourteen minutes.

Fourteen? Not fifteen? Not thirteen?

Two minutes to get onto the 101.
Transition to the 110 to the 10 and
exit on Normandie is four minutes.
North on Normandie is five minutes.
Two minutes to South Union 'cause
there's roadwork. Thirteen plus one
for "shit happens."

Vincent checks his watch.

Mind if I time you?
The actual footage has a less involved breakup of a seven minute trip, but you get the idea.

Lesson two comes from Jarhead. In this lesson, Mr. Foxx explains that you can estimate things of which you have little knowledge by working from something you do know:
How far are those trees?

(calling out all at once)
500 yards

300, how'd you figure that?

uh, three football fields.

Three football fields. That's
right, you take what you know
and then you multiply.
We often use the same kind of technique when bidding new kinds of scenery.

Two very sound, fundamental techniques expressed by movie characters. Should be fun to work into class.

So here's how I need help. I have a staff this summer that could rip these things for me, but I don't really know where they are. The only reason I noticed these was that they were the same actor and I saw the films close together. So, if you have any memory of film or TV content that would be good for any of my classes, please shoot me an email. My students will thank you - they'd certainly rather listen to the likes of Jamie Foxx than to me.

Finally, a iPhone post I want to see

What are the Odds?

Congress finally takes on OPEC. - By Timothy Noah - Slate Magazine: "The Prewitts were naïve enough to think that the United States might care to enforce the Sherman and Clayton antitrust acts against an international conspiracy to fix the price of oil."

Monday, July 09, 2007

Princess Leia "Do's & Don'ts"

Geek Student: "Remember girls…

If you can’t pull off the Slave Costume, paint yourself green and go as Oola."


I hope its not just me, but all of a sudden its real difficult to edit the titles of posts... I wonder if there is a reciprocity missing in government. If the President gets to attach "signing statements" to legislation that potentially changes the enforcement I think that the Congress ought to be allowed to do the same with Executive Orders. Just a thought... I cannot figure out why I didn't go see the Cubs this weekend. Guess I wasn't paying attention... Studio 60 ended last week while we were all doing other things. They did a fairly epic four parter to go out on and now that I think about it I almost believe they could have just saved themselves the aggravation of episodic television and just done a two hour movie for theatres, I would have paid... Is there something odd about a bible study holding their meeting in a bar??? On paying for Studio 60, we watched the last two episodes on the internet rather than on TV; one from the website and one from iTunes. It's my feeling that I think I would pay $2/hr for any show I wanted to watch if there were no commercials. Maybe that's really the answer to my "I hate Comcast" problem... You just knew those guys would whip out executive privilege. Dorks... About hating Comcast, now that T-Mobile offers wi-fi calls from a cell in a hotspot we have to decide if we hate Comcast SO much that we won't switch from DSL to Cable so we can go totally landline phone free... After my flying experience I have decided that before they can do anything else airlines should have to be able to consistently do two things: follow a schedule and keep baggage with passengers... I have a backlog of reviews, three movies and three books. I am not sure if I will do them... The trike fell over this week. I can't determine if it was structural, meteorological, or zoological... Pittsburgh got more bad news about their buses this week. Someone needs to break their box so they can think out of it... Does anyone else think there is something wrong with the expression "legitimate faith?" Seems like a contradiction in terms to me... Someone fell asleep in my class this week, my 1:30pm class, on Friday, of the first week. I must be pretty boring... Be sure to check out the TANBI shared sites. There's a feed too... Can you believe we are actually counting up to close to 50,000 hits? Me either...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

If Anyone Doubted...

...that sending a blog post to all of your friends and family, commenting on 20 other blogs, and "thumb's upping" the entry on StumbleUpon would have an effect, here's your answer:I guess next I have to figure out Digg.

Oh, and if you are one of "the regulars" thanks as always for reading!

Al's big day

Salon Arts & Entertainment: "Counter-insurgency, General Patraeus has said, is about capturing hearts and minds. There was simply no denying the infectious, unforced good feelings of Live Earth. You can only front for so long: Joy is real or it isn't. This was the kind of love-fest you can't buy or steal … and even snarky reviews can’t kill."

Saturday, July 07, 2007


I thought maybe I would take the opportunity highlighted by Al Gore's End of the World Telethon to say something about the next election.

Today I was asked if I already knew who I would vote for in the upcoming presidential election. I said I did, and that all things being equal I would hope to get to vote for John Edwards. Then of course came an avalanche of caveats including that I could certainly change my mind between now and then. But the one thing that is clearest to me is that I will vote Democratic in order to try to swing the pendulum back the way it came. Of all the comments and stories we hear lately regarding the current administration and the coming election the one that has hit me the hardest was Justice Bryer saying: "It is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much..." That said to me that whoever we elect, in the long haul we need them to be a Democrat (although I guess I might settle for an actual Republican, but I prefer the former).

Really though what I found most surprising is how much the question brought forth from me a sort of learned helplessness I seem to have regarding politics in general. I think even in these stressful times apathy runs high, and there's a part of me that believes even with an approval rating below 30% if George W. Bush could run again he would win again. Its about the choices we have. With the choices we get it isn't surprising that the kind of strategy that delivered for W works, and I guess I won't be surprised to see it work again when they get around to picking their new guy. I am a registered independent, and I will vote for whomever makes the best case, but truthfully all I hear from the current crop is noise. We get so bound up in the crap that there's nobody with a real vision.

I want so badly to be enthralled by a candidate's vision for our future.

To make the point I picked seven fairly well known candidates coming from the Democratic and Republican parties and grabbed the first heading on their websites under "issues." Here's what they think I care about the most:

  • Fighting Poverty
  • Strengthening the Middle Class
  • Restoring America's Moral Leadership in the World
  • Government Spending, Lower Taxes, and Economic Prosperity
  • Fiscal Discipline
  • Defeating the Jihadists
  • Energy and the Environment
Seven issues - for 7/7/7, get it? - and I should add that #1 neither I nor Firefox think "Jihadists" is a word and #2 most if not all of these issues appear not just on one site but on most. As far as I am concerned every single one of these things is noise; too small, too shortsighted, too easy.

Seven out of seven to be filed either under P for "pandering" or D for "duh."

I almost had my whole piece crushed by the very last page I chose to look at, a candidate who probably won't get through four primaries if they last that long. There it was: "Energy and the Environment," a chance that someone was really thinking ahead. Then I clicked it and the bullets are:
  • Reduce 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Dodd Plan will begin to turn back the clock on global climate change, safeguard our environment, and protect American health.
  • Enhance national security by eliminating our dependence on Middle East oil by 2015. We must end the cycle of fighting terrorists on one hand while financing their supporters on the other.
  • Strengthen our economy and create jobs. From our university labs to our farms, from manufacturing to our technology entrepreneurs, the Dodd Plan will create jobs across the economic spectrum.
So really it's a tacit nod to emissions and then two environmental goals that are really a defense and an business policy. So even this is more under the "pander" or the "duh" category.

I guess it isn't as bad as all that. Many of the candidates list many, many goals; but I think it is clear that most administrations barely achieve their top three let alone their top 20. For the most part, with the exception of Health Care (and a monumental but worthwhile "duh" for the "sanctity of life" - in this context meaning "don't torture people" if we have to have an election to sort that out we're in really, really bad shape), the seven issues above are the top three for all seven candidates I looked at.

I guess I should say who. I looked at Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Giuliani, McCain, Obama, and Romney.

I am not feeling enthralled. I imagine many other people aren't either.

I guess I could get behind health care as a cause. It's got some momentum because of the movie. But there are two things even with this issue that bother me. First, it still isn't big enough. While guaranteeing accessible healthcare to everyone would be a good thing I think it's just a band-aid. We need to start talking about our need for health care and how we can change things on the demand side of the balance (something short of Logan's Run please, as I am well past "Last Day"). Second, I have a "fool me once" thing here. Years ago I stood in the rain in a school parking lot in Branford, Connecticut to vote for a candidate who's #1 campaign priority was health care. That man won and spent eight years as President. Little changed. This leads me to believe that even the health care debate is just the tip of an iceberg, there must be something bigger, more substantive underneath.

And so, much like picking sushi off the belt I've watched the candidates go by. I'm thinking really what I want is a spicy shrimp tempura roll but it isn't there and so I just grab another safe, easy, simple plate: tamago maybe - hard to screw that up. I'll probably get to vote for John Edwards, and if I do I sincerely hope he wins. But I am not enthralled.

What do I want to hear about? What is the political equivalent of my missing Maki? In case any of the other people on this page are listening here's an idea...

I would like to hear about sustainability, about fair trade, about transportation, about energy, education, and discovery. I want to hear about diversity in a context that does not include the concept of "tolerance." When I saw my Saturday School House Rock, "The Great American Melting Pot" it didn't talk about tolerating others. Check yourself:

Not one "tolerance."

I want to hear about education and health care without hearing about minimums, or about costs under the current structure. Really I don't want to hear about the current structure at all. The structure we're making all of our decisions based on comes from the 1950's. I think we've stretched 1950 just about as far as it will go.

Please won't someone tell me about 2050.

A 2050 where we have enough food for the whole world; food made of food and out of food our bodies want and need instead of the food we have or have gamed a way to profit from. A 2050 where its ok that some things are made in other countries because we have things we make here and the people who work there and the environment around them are not mistreated. A 2050 where we don't all need a car to be part of every single errand and where the price of every single thing isn't hostage to the cost of transport. A 2050 where anyone and everyone has a qualified doctor and any medication they need but also a 2050 where our food and our lifestyle don't cause us to all need so much of either, and a 2050 where health care workers are compensated without the drag of health care or insurance industry facilitation. A 2050 where education is treated as the foundation of everything and given the same investment one would make in the foundation of their home, church, or business. A 2050 where we understand that the smart money is looking toward 2100 and beyond rather than trying to squeeze every last cent out of 2049.

Mr. Obama, Ms. Clinton, Mr. Dodd, whomever? You want my vote? Change your campaign from "CANDIDATE for 2008" to "A 2050 for us all."

Will Iowa be the Next Saudi Arabia???

The case for turning crops into fuel. - By William Saletan - Slate Magazine: "Biofuel is our next logical technology. We've had an agricultural revolution, an industrial revolution, and an information technology revolution. Now, we're putting them together to harness the power of life. Ecologically, it's ideal: a fuel that literally grows on trees."

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Friend Suggests...

C'mon, someone take one for the team!


This whole special was awesome...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I Can See Clearly Now...

5 points to the first commenter who gets the location. What are points good for? I don't know.

Sooner or Later it Had To Happen

E! News - Sex and the City Movie a Big Deal - Sarah Jessica Parker | Kim Cattrall | Kristin Davis: "After three years of near-incessant rumblings that Carrie Bradshaw, Miranda Hobbes, Charlotte York and Samantha Jones would rendezvous for one more round of cosmos, E! News has confirmed that HBO and New Line Cinema have teamed up to finally give the girls the big-screen sendoff (or, possibly, rebirth) fans have been waiting for."

David's Latest Oil Treatise

This is a response I wrote to a letter I got in an ongoing discussion about the price of gas...

I just find myself wondering (in terms of changing the rules) if really there is a difference between “collusion” and “industry’s collective decision.” The difference between the two would appear to be something along the line of the “smoke filled room” but when the motive is so obvious, they don’t really need to talk, do they?

It seems like had one company decided to maintain a higher inventory or to make the investment in refining that right now the others would be unable to meet their price at the pump. To me that seems anti-competitive and even smacks of collusion without the overt act.

I never thought you were defending oil companies. My original point was that the price of oil and the price of gas aren’t necessarily related, as in “the price of oil goes up so the price of gas goes up.” It seems to me that the original data tracking you did suggests there is at least a correlation, but I think that’s more of a fig leaf than an excuse. What I think we’re finally seeing in the press is that it is far more complicated than oil up gas up, and that the oil companies prefer it to be complicated, because complicated is opaque and opaque is hard to fix from the outside.

I’m coming to the stand that energy, even as gas, because of our dependency ought to be treated as a public utility. It’s just not whack that they are able to make that kind of money when prices are going up like they are. It’s unseemly, and while not un-American, it is somewhat un-Christian which ought to matter to the players involved. You just don’t raise the price of bread when your neighbor can’t afford bread and I really do believe that’s what’s happened here.

You are right that there is no way to expect the oil companies to behave more in the manner of a public trust and that government is the route to dealing with it and that the moment of inertia there is large, but I have to say that before we are buried under debt for Medicare or social security we are likely to see things crumble around energy & transportation prices – especially since the trail from transportation costs to food prices is so short.

So, you ask: “what is the proper behavior for an oil company?” And I think I have to answer, in a very non-capitalist kind of way, that we have built our society in such a way as to depend on the good public citizenship of oil companies and if they cannot be trusted to keep the general public’s best interest level with their own pocketbooks then they need to be more heavily regulated and compelled to do so; for at least as long as it takes for our society to raise the yoke of gasoline through technical innovation, conservation, and sustainable living practices. For the time being, in the real world we’ve built, the market is a liability.

I guess maybe that makes me a communist. But as much as we are a capitalist society, we do operate in a more collective way for many things – things that are essential get more regulation. While supplies were high and demand was manageable we could afford to let the market handle the price of gas. Now that the topography has changed our national management must react. And really, if an “on hand inventory” requirement and an “infrastructure growth and maintenance” requirement both of which could be offset with tax credits will do the job, I don’t even think its that onerous a regulative posture.

The real interesting thing here is that if it were outright collusion then the justice department could sue them and change the behavior. With it just being a shit sandwich it pretty much falls to new legislation, which would be the hardest way to get anything done.

It just continues to strike me that there are things that are just too important to the function of every day life to be left to the care of the market. Especially since the market doesn’t care about me, it cares about making money – and I guess that’s good for my 401k, if I ever get to retire. But with gas at $3.50 and rising I think many people are going to find retirement further off than they had anticipated. And even more than that since the market can be gamed if any block (overt, covert, real, or just “for all practical purposes”) can gather enough influence.

For oil, I think we are seeing the result of that kind of “quiet” market cornering.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

We The People

It seems fitting that this editorial should come out on July 4, even more so since the act that precipitated it was scheduled not by the anchor but by the President. I've thought for quite some time that since during the previous presidential administration the congress set the bar for impeachment at lying under oath to a question about personal private behavior that no person in their right mind could possibly think the actions of the current administration haven't eclipsed that standard by far.

Sometimes it feels like the weight of all the issues just makes it too hard to know where to begin, and the parsed, nuanced, practiced actions and statements all clearly calibrated to stay just far enough in front of the rule of law are such that we can feel the pointlessness of trying to enforce the spirit of those laws. But we are a nation of laws, or at least we are supposed to be; and our leaders should actually be held to a higher standard of conduct than one as defined as the letter of the law or maybe the NFL standard of "just don't get caught."

Haven't we long since reached "enough is enough?" Haven't enough rules been re-written? Hasn't our reputation and standing declined enough? Haven't enough people died? Isn't it blindingly clear? And if so, why don't we do something?

From the open wastes of TV political coverage comes an opinion not spoon fed by the administration:

And with that I call upon you to take the lead from the piece above and add your weight. All the opinion of dissent in this nation needs is courage and momentum. Add to that momentum. On independence day, before you go about your celebration of our freedom, exercise some of your personal responsibility for that freedom. Call or write your representatives in congress and let them know you agree with the piece above, that enough is enough, and that this President's administration has severed the public trust to such a degree as to merit impeachment. Maybe the impeachment will fail, maybe it will succeed and will fail in the Senate, or maybe it will remove the sitting president from office; but regardless of the outcome, the actions on record more than demand the action.

You can get the contact information for your representatives HERE.

Take a moment and send your support of disciplinary action, and then forward the message to others you know and ask them to do the same. Something more than half of us didn't vote for the man in the first place, I can't believe that at least that many wouldn't want him held accountable for the actions of his administration. Why are we sitting on our hands? I don't ask people reading my page to forward it to others normally. I make this one exception. The opportunity is now. Let's make sure we don't miss it.

And, so the post isn't a total downer...

Happy 4th of July!

Ok, yes, I know, she's Australian. But the apparel is appropriate.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Maui EcoAdventure - The Kaanapali Zipline

So, the last time I was in Hawaii the future Mrs. TANBI and I discovered this activity in the forest on the side of Haleakala: The Zipline. At the time one of the rules for the activity was that you could not be more than 240#. At that time I was, so we never really looked into it; although I do seem to recall hearing even then that it was difficult to schedule.

Flash forward to a couple of months ago when we decide we will go to Maui for our vacation. The very first thing we did after booking flights and a room was to look into the zipline activity. And the very first thing I discovered about it upon finding it online was that the weight limit had increased to 260#; a number I ought to be able to make all things being equal. The next thing we found was that it was booked, all day, every day through September.


Still, it seemed worth a phone call. I figured that maybe activity brokers were the ones booking it and so the wite itself would show no availability, but perhaps a broker would have it. When we called the broker, she told us that she couldn't get it, that nobody could get it because the cruise ships that come into Maui book just about every slot and they do so months in advance. She also said there are waitlists for each day, but that the waitlist can be like 50 people - for an activity that maybe only does 50 people through an entire day.

But, she informs us, but the same people with the Haleakala Zipline are soon opening another venue in Kaanapali. That venue hasn't gotten it's inspection clearance, so maybe if we call them direct in a week or two we could get in at that site. Which we did, and we did. By now it is probably as hard to book as the original location.

Plus as it turns out, the new location has 8 zips while the old only has 5, and the longest zip in Kaanapali is 1000 feet - quite a bit longer than the longest at Haleakala. If you were to go, this is what it might look like:

So it is the BIG FUN. For the record I tipped at 254.1# which made me a sort of worst case heavy/faith in the gear/not afraid to go fast customer. While a part of my brain says they must say this to a lot of people, one of the guides did tell me it was the fastest he'd seen anyone go in the six weeks they'd been open. The views are great, the activity is great, the hiking isn't too hard, and while maybe a little flip the guides are mostly great too. We had a lot of fun.

One thing you might want to know is that when it says "white clothing not recommended due to dusty conditions" they might be making a play for understatement of the year. Marisa ruined a shirt, and my shoes are still red from volcanic dust more than a week later.

Also, it seems like even if you can't book, if you are a small party - like 2 people - it might be worth just stopping by early in the day. The guy that checked us in said he was able to get people in that way, and we did see a sign at the Haleakala site that said "walk ins welcome." Also, where we went, we were told that the cruise ships release their spots at noon the day before. So even if you are unable to book weeks or even months in advance, you might do ok at 12:05 less than 20 hours before.

The gear is climbing gear, except for the cable which appeared to be at least 5/8" GAC. All of the anchors looked really well done. It was kind of difficult to turn off my ETCP Certified Rigger mode. You don't see this kind of installation too often. Probably they could do even heavier than 260# if they are going by capacity. But the story is that they don't think they can stop someone heavier than that. If you see the "high-tech" stopping mechanism in the video you can probably tell why. For part of the time we were there I was designing passive dampers in my head, but Marisa pointed out that people might be more comfortable with the active method they were using even if it is more limiting to capacity.

I'd be lying if I told you I hadn't thought about calling Cory, Matt, & Avery about a possible business venture in Seven Springs. Shouldn't be too difficult to set up (I'm told at the Haleakala site they didn't even have to do anchors - just used existing trees) or too hard to run. So maybe if this teaching thing doesn't work out I'll become a Zipline proprietor.

Anyway, two thumbs up!

(oh yeah, if you can't book either of these the guys said there was a different company building one in Kapalua that was going to have a mile long zip. Not sure if I believe all of that, but like it was for us - might be worth a phonecall.)

Blogger Question

I've stated using Google Reader, and I like it a lot. It has a "shared items" feature that pulls together many postings in one place. This could eliminate many of the very short posts I do with a link as they also provide a widget for posting your shared items on a web page.

But as you can see below, there is a problem. Anyone got a solution to the formatting issue?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Well, Fuck.

Think Progress » BREAKING: Bush Commutes Libby Sentence: "President Bush has spared Scooter Libby from a 2½-year prison term, issuing an order that commutes his sentence, the AP reports. Libby will never have to go to jail, but his felony conviction will stand, and he will still serve two years probation and owe $250,000 in fines."

0.2 Score Years Ago...

Think Progress » Four Years Later: “Bring ‘Em On”: "There are some who feel like that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on."

Maui Photos

Sunday, July 01, 2007

PSA from Smudge...

For those of you following along at home, our cat Gandalf was diagnosed with cancer (vaccine associated sarcoma or VAS) about 6 weeks ago. VAS is a fibrosarcoma that develops at the site of a vaccination, and affects cats almost exclusively. Gandalf's was caused by his rabies vaccine. Thankfully, our vet followed the proper vaccination protocols (rabies vaccines are to be given as far down the leg as possible), so we were able to give our guy a chance at beating the cancer.

He's had two surgeries. The first was a biopsy and tissue excision aimed at getting not just the tumor, but the surrounding tissue. These cancers have a tendency to put out these fingers or tentacles, so the aim with the first surgery is to get the tumor, the invisible tentacles and still have 'clean' margins of tissue that measure at least 3 cms.

Gandalf lost a LOT of muscle in the first surgery, and we were hopeful it would do the job. Alas, it did not. He did recover very well from that first surgery, so we knew he was strong and healthy, and could withstand a second surgery.

Two and a half weeks ago, Gandalf's right hind leg was amputated. Since the rabies vaccine was given low on his leg, this was an option for him. Gandalf seemed to bounce back pretty well from the amputation, but he did develop a pretty disgusting infection which we have since beaten back.

As of today, 6/26/06, Gandalf is free of infection AND cancer. He's doing very well on his three legs--I guess the fourth was a spare? Once his fur grows back, it won't be so obvious that he's a tripod. Gandalf is still running, jumping and playing without any real difficulties. Now, we just hope the cancer stays gone.

If you do have a cat or cats, make sure that your vet is following proper vaccine protocols--most importantly, NO SHOTS in the scruff of the neck, or high on the front or back legs. Tumors that may develop in those areas can't be excised as easily, and amputation may not be an option. There isn't any real solid data on how often VAS develops, but it is primarily associated with rabies and feline leukemia vaccinations and the adjuvant used to stimulate the immune reaction. There is one rabies vaccine on the market that does NOT use any adjuvants--Purevax. More info on vaccines for your cat(s), including recommended locations for administering the shots, if you're interested, is available here.

That is the situation on the ground. Thanks for the support. It's been a really frustrating and stressful experience for us. And probably for Gandalf, too. What with the surgeries and the amputation and all.

Many thanks and all our best-
Stephanie, Eric and Gandalf the Tabby.

Maui, by the Links - First Photos

Not all the photos are mine :-P



It looks expensive, it was, but not as expensive as it looks.


So I asked about this when I first saw it - during the strike of the show...

The question is, I guess, how many people really ought to retroactively fail production for not completing the Oresteia strike? Could cost some people their treasured pieces of paper. Job Lead? Project Manager? BTLers? Other ATLers? Production Manager? This sore thumb slipped past no less than half a dozen students.

Decisions, decisions.

We're Back

Hi there, back in Pittsburgh and trying to get up to speed. Probably not up to blogging yet. Our luggage did not make it with us, but it arrived today.

Much more later, but here's a nice sea turtle picture to tide you over:

We got to see him when we were snorkeling. Big fun!