Sunday, December 30, 2007


Thunderbird - so far two thumbs up.

First Night Shelters - installed, so far no rain.

Shoe contest - Alana looks like the winner.

Caption contest - Catlin wins.

Next available table for six at Moto - January 30 :-(

Keep praying for no New Years Precip!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Quickie Project

Today I spent the better part of 10 hours on a project designed to keep Mrs. TANBI's First Night Pittsburgh installation dry in case it rains.

Last year we didn't prepare for this eventuality and it poured like Niagara Falls. The concept is that if we do the prep this year it won't rain.

The old Zen master says "We'll see."

Installation and maybe some pictures tomorrow.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Zen Master Email Application

I downloaded and installed Thunderbird at home today. How will it come out? The old Zen Master says: "We'll see."

Now I have to re-create all my rules, and my .sig, and god know what else.

And after all that Thunderbird doesn't do the "This message has been blind copied to you" thing that Mulberry did. I REALLY liked that feature.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


"Charlie Wilson's War" is ok... I've become conflicted about links in emails... I wish I understood domains better, specifically with reference to Google... "The Golden Compass" is also ok... It is going to be time to go back to work way way way too soon... We didn't really have much of a white Christmas... American consumerism is just flat disgusting... My office is a mess... I wish I were the winner of a lawsuit against Sears that allowed me to just go take whatever I wanted whenever I wanted... I have fallen substantively behind my "starred items" in my feed reader. It may be time to declare feed bankruptcy... Mrs. TANBI says she'll not be going to see "AVPR" with me. Guess I need to find a date... I now have two contests from the page to wrap up, guess I should get on that... There was nothing worth posting on the green page on Christmas... I can't manage to beat Civ IV... "Tin Man" was ok... I have a cold, it's delovely... I am amazed at the number of foods that can be prepared with a stand mixer... I am currently unaware of the whereabouts of my cell phone. I am also unconcerned... Maybe the airlines ought to just throw in the towel... I'll be giving my first rigging lecture as an ETCP Recognized Instructor next week... Why are you working on your resume at midnight during vacation??? I hope First Night Pittsburgh goes well. There's some discussion that it should really be called Last Night... Really I thought Laura's shoes would do better, but Alana had it wrapped up pretty early... I read some real depressing intel on the WGA strike. It implied that the producers are really in it for the long haul... When BSG went off the air, March seemed like it was really far away, now, not so much... Did I mention I had a cold? I guess I did... I hope everyone had a great holiday and got what they wanted...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Last Minute PTM Type Gift Ideas

Got some last minute shopping to do for someone in the Production Technology field? Well, I've got some gift giving suggestions that might be helpful. Even at this last second many of them ought to be available locally so you could do a Monday shopping spree and still be done before the sleigh comes to a rest on your roof. I imagine that even if these things are not available locally they can still be used for inspiration (or gift card fodder).

So a sort of top ten countdown of PTM gifts...

#10 - Flying Alarm Clock

This one will be of particular use to students in the field, but I will also admit to having a little difficulty getting myself out of bed on occasion. I've seen the "puzzle alarm" and "the sonic boom" and "clocky" but this one seems to me to have the most chance of actually working. When the alarm goes off, the propeller flies into the air and you need to replace it before you can shut the signal off (although I guess this is rapidly solved with gaff tape - but maybe not). There are several students I would recommend this to directly, but I bet people giving them gifts don't read this blog.

#9 - Getting Things Done, David Allen

So this is a sort of Bible to the desperately anal set, and I think that the GTD community might actually be a cult; but let's face it, there are worse cults a person could fall in with. If your gift give-ee never answers your emails this might be the gift for them. Lot's of good ideas about how to keep up with life without letting the keeping up overwhelm you. My boss recommends the audio-book.

If I'd actually read this book I probably would have done this post two weeks ago.

#8 - Stylish Safety Gear

There's so much cool safety gear these days. People are that much more likely to use gear that's actually fun. Pictured here are DeWalt's DPG82 Concealer Goggles which I recently got myself. They are comfortable, don't block peripheral vision, and they don't fog up - but mostly they look cool. If you don't want to do goggles you could do tinted safety glasses - I think amber is still safe for shop work - or some kind of hearing protection. There are also like a million new kinds of cool work gloves available and they all look like something from a sci-fi film - very cool.

#7 - Label Maker

Especially if you are going to go the GTD route, you are going to need a label maker. As I understand it, David Allen specifies a label maker as one of the primary tools of organization. Even without that glowing recommendation I think we can all see the use of having things cataloged in a way that makes sense, you can only remember so much for so long and it is easier to read a label than it is to unstack an entire pile of bankers boxes only to disover what you were looking for isn't there. Just remember, don't label the walkie-talkie before you drop it down the well.

#6 - Tool Bag

It's all bags now, you need a refresher? Pictured here is my personal favorite, the CLC 26 Pocket Backpack Bag. I bought this thing several years back and could not be happier. David Allen would like it too because with this bag things need to go where they need to go. It might look small, but it can hold A LOT. How much? Check here. Although this is my favorite, there are dozens of cool options out there. Overall, I think smaller and more dividers is better - but that's me, you should see Kevin's toolbox.

#5 - Shop Geek Clothes

Did you know you can buy Craftsman pants? How about DeWalt shoes? I swear it's a shop rat dream come true. I haven't sprung for the shoes yet, but I always feel like just the right kind of geek when I wear my Craftsman pants - even more special than with Carhartts or Dickies.

#4 - Forbidden Lego, Ulrik Pilegaard and Mike Dooley

There are apparently rules that the designers at Lego have to follow for models that become sets for sale. There's no glue, no altering of pieces, and no automatic advancing magazine part guns. In authoring this book, these designers were not so encumbered. A nice read for any Lego fan, which is most Technical Directors.

#3 - Feet and Inches Calculator

Quick: What's 3'-2 5/8" + 6'-4 15/16" - 1'-11 1/2"? What? I don't know either, but I can tell you I have to do that sort of thing all the time when I am working. Remembering the decimal equivalents will help, but nothing gets it done as well and as quickly as having a feet and inches calculator. It's just indispensable for adding up a row of fractions on a drawing before the guy in the shop finds the problem for you. (oh, and I think it's 7'-8 1/16" but my calculator is in the office).

#2 - Theatre Geek Tools

Really you can never go wrong with gadgets. Every stagehand in the world has a multi-tool and a flashlight. I think I have two multi-tools and at least four flashlights. MagLite is the standard for flashlights. I won't even get into a discussion over Leatherman or Gerber or SOG or Victorinox or or or. Pictured above are the Streamlight Stinger Jr. LED and the Leatherman Skeletool. I think with both of these your gift-ee will be so cool people around them will be looking for their jackets. Want to put the people around them right into the deep freeze? Well, then you'll be wanting to make someone the first on the block with one of these:

The Spyderco ByrdWrench ~ BY15P. My monitor just frosted over.

#1 - Stapler

Ok, so it probably isn't what you were thinking would be #1. I can only say that there is nothing I wish people I deal with had more often than a stapler. If I make sure to impart just one skill to people I teach in my classes, that skill might just be stapling. Shown here you have my personal favorite the PaperPro Prodigy Stapler. It has a spring driven mechanism, so no matter how much you are fastening you always press with the same force, no smashing. They make a miniature version, the Nano, that I think maybe ought to be issued to every single person at birth.

So that's it. Certainly not anything ground shattering, but hopefully some decent ideas. Now, you've probably got about 12 hours left for shopping, so hop to it. Alternately, you could just bookmark the page for next year.

Happy holidays.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Why, Lord Why?

DEC. 17, 2007 | News | SCI FI Weekly: "Unlike many television shows, Flash Gordon will not be affected by the ongoing writers' strike. The writing staff completed enough scripts for a full season, and Holden and her co-stars are currently in Vancouver, Canada, shooting episodes 21 and 22."

It just isn't fair.

Friday, December 21, 2007

No Surprise

Take the Sci fi sounds quiz I received 100 credits on
The Sci Fi Sounds Quiz

How much of a Sci-Fi geek are you?
Guess the Sci-Fi Movie Sounds hereCanon powershot

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fall '07 Semester Review Shoe Finals

Cast your vote for the winning pair. Champion gets a TANBI T-Shirt. Voting will be open for one week. Have the big fun!










Semester Reviews - Final Day

And we're out. Putting the grads all on day one really put the gas to the floor on the other days. For the first time since I came to CMU I think I was out of the building by 4:00. Very unlikely. Overall it was a good series of presentations, not many tears for a change and a lot of good looking work.

Day 4 begins with Aaron...

... this is the first showdeck I can recall for a crit.

Next is Naomi...

... she was on the cover of some "girls of PTM" calendar or something. Also like the hardest working man in showbiz.

Moving on to Jeannie...

... who was outed showing some kind of office supply fetish.

And we finish up with Jen...

... who would rather see the actual person doing the actual job as opposed to just some numbers on a spreadsheet.

Tuesday AM shoe winner:


Since everything this year had seemed so dull we decided that "over the top" worked for us today. Also, I never did manage to get a pic from Dana, so we added another entrant from today as a sort of play in winner:


The afternoon session was the smallest group yet. I think it took like 20 minutes total. The "jumble" format certainly has its advantages.

We kick off with Jeanie...

... who had to crit at a distance of about 3 feet.

Then there's Jessika...

... who really, actually, built that ladder.

And finishing out the semester: Harriet...

... who believe it or don't loves the news quiz.

Tuesday PM shoe winner:


You just couldn't go too loud today.

Congrats to everyone for a great semester and have a terrific break!

Monday, December 17, 2007

#3 of 4

Weekend over, Steelers lose, and we're back to Semester Reviews. Oh, and it snowed. Still, we can take heart in that there is only tomorrow remaining for this semester and then we all get a nice break.

Today we begin with Alex...

... who became an inadvertent TA in the Art shop.

Then we move on to Maddie...

... who has declared an affinity for festivals.

Rico (what else can I say)...

... whom I reminded of everything he hated about his summer job.

Monday AM shoe winner:

The sizzling Laura

By the way, the AM session was distinctive for its total and complete lack of after meetings. I can't ever remember that happening before.

We move on to the afternoon session after a really, really long lunch break (who schedules this fiasco anyway?)

First up is Katie...

... who excelled this semester in all things she doesn't do.

And then Kim...

... who is going away to space camp.


... who this semester found time to finally finish off last semester, and to write an entire paper on Helvetica.

And we round out the day with Alana...

... who has decided what she really wants is to be a ballerina.

Monday PM shoe winner:


One more day.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

David Explains How To Get Fired

this post removed for being just TOO bad.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I'm Famous, Again, Sort Of, If You Live In Pittsburgh...

Last week I sent the "Year End Theatre Quiz" to Christopher Rawson at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Actually I sent it to writers at the PG, The Pittsburgh City Paper, and The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. I wasn't after market exposure, I just thought they might find the quiz fun and would maybe pass it along to other people in their office. If I had an ulterior motive it would just have been to get more people to enter the contest, curiously few do.

Anyway, the email led to a brief exchange and he said he would mention the page in his weekly theatre column "In the Wings." What he didn't mention is that he would write a whole piece on the quiz for the PG online. Pretty cool if you ask me.

I didn't know if anyone would see it, but this morning a totally random person said "didn't I see your name in the paper?"


Friday, December 14, 2007

Semester Review Friday Wrap-Up

Another day of semester reviews comes to a close. I didn't fall asleep today (Although in an unrelated note, I missed a letter in a recommendation I wrote during lunch. It was an "s" and it came before the word "he." I inadvertently changed the sex of the person I was writing the letter for - teach me to try to crib a new letter off an old one).

We begin with Ryan...

... who will finally realize his dream of working in the scene shop for workstudy.

and continue with Dana...

... who got the BIG stick. I felt bad, but she seemed to bear up ok. Only one more crit for her afterall.

Then we have Kristen...

... she doesn't look too pleased in this photo. I wonder what's up with that?

and then Chapel...

... who said she wasn't challenged. We'll fix that. Will they ever learn?

And last but not least: Sarah...

... who had removed her shoes and most of her board before I got there.

AM shoe winner:


After a botched letter and a short nap we have the afternoon session.

We begin with Bryan...

... to whom I explained "the difference on the personality compass between and outstanding technical director and insufferable bastard isn't all that far."

Later we came to Derek...

... still successfully completing our stealth Entertainment Engineering degree, and open foosball champion.

And finally Eric...

... who made the very most out of the Inventor session.

PM shoe winner: (would have been)

Except it was a rerun from last year.

We also had a few stunt shoes...

... but after Jillian's kitten shoes and Shannon's purple all-stars I think I am done with the stunt shoes. So there's no entrant from this session. If I can get a pic of Dana's shoes from the morning session I will give them an at-large bid.

We also can't finish today's commentary without a short trip to the surreal world of Brian's board. I myself made a sort of strange appearance...

.. and I call this next one "Susan, Susan, Kenny, & Brian":

Can you see the Christmas show in two years? Anyone say "Avenue Purnell?"