Thursday, June 30, 2011


This makes thirty posts in thirty days. Gonna have to be a short one, still no tubes at home.

Did I learn anything from the process?

It's clear that blogging really takes a hit from Twitter and Facebook. There was a time when I would post links to articles I would find surfing. Now I see the items in my RSS feedreader, share them through a Google feed and they wind up on my Facebook page. This has the dual upshot of having all my Facebook friends hate me and I lose a bunch of posts. You can still see the items if you care, the feed is in the sidebar.

Apparently over the years I've also become a little less outspoken. I'm not sure when it happened but I can't seem to bring myself to put my opinion out there like I did years ago. Is it possible I suddenly care more about what people think? One would think with a democratic administration I'd be shouting even louder from the left. But instead I appear to have more and more frequently set down the megaphone.

Will July bring us 31 posts?

I do think there's something good to keeping the posts coming. There's also something less than about forcing it. I do think I'll try to keep it up. We'll see how it goes.


Sent from my mobile.

140 Characters or Less...

  • 21:30 We coulda packed some of this stuff better #
  • 08:50 Clearly I don't understand how to quit apps on the iPad. #
  • 08:51 @caryatiddreams that was quick #
  • 10:01 @beccarebec is there a way to do it besides double clicking the home button? #
  • 13:22 Union Grill always seems to be more relaxed than I am #
  • 13:22 Precollege Drafting: layout, lineweight #
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Decisions, Decisions

I'm bringing back the "dinosaur workshop" for Precollege this summer. We've had at least a three year layoff, maybe longer. Last year I was away and I think the year before I had nobody to assist, so it had just faded into the fringe. This year I'm around and we seem to have the support so we're on - for Friday, July 15th.

We'll be doing the Triceratops (I don't care if it's actually a teresaur or whatever) and the stegosaur. I think we'll skip the Brachiasaur this time, and no T-Rex since it won't stand on it's own.

I want to pick two of these four puzzles to be new patterns. I think we'll go with the Parasurolophus and the Pteranodon. The Brontosaurus and the Dimetrodon are like two puzzles we've already done. Plus it'll be nice to have a upright that works and that Parasurolophus appears to stand on its tail, so maybe it will stay up. I've had visions of a flying puzzle hanging in a tree for a while now, so the Pteranodon is a no brainer, but we'll have to come up with some kind of base to show it.

Here's hoping for a bunch of fun. Watch this space for photos.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

140 Characters or Less...

  • 21:22 Unpacking the kitchen because we can't use the stairs yet. Need boxes? Come get 'em. #
  • 08:34 @aerdin don't forget your phone. All four of you. #
  • 15:44 hmm, no google toolbar for chrome. I'm probably missing the point. #
  • 18:12 @sspuh you could have some if you come get them #
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Do you play Euchre?

I had friends that played in high school but I never got into it. But as it turns out Euchre is the official card game of the Yale School of Drama and so when I went there I learned. The learning process was nit without pain. At one point I had figured out that it was generally a good thing to void yourself in as many suits as possible, so when my partner (the head of the program and what passes for a professional Euchre player) had me pick up, seeing that I had only one trump I discarded it to void in a suit. Oops.

I've had a couple of computer Euchre programs. The latest is on the tablet and last night it dealt me this:

Mine to order up and to lead. I can't remember having a five card lay down before.

Then, in the same game it dealt me this:

Which I think is even slightly stronger than the other hand.

Twice in one game to have five card lay down loners is pretty unusual. Perhaps the machine knows it's been stressful week and it was just trying to be nice.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

140 Characters or Less...

  • 22:53 @PunkyPicc bummer #
  • 22:55 @giantspatula I missed the season finale while moving. Is it online someplace? #
  • 08:21 a day without stairs #
  • 08:25 @keeboch gonna institute that when you run the scheme? #
  • 08:26 @bpeoples nope, but pushing in the dials starts the electric igniters #
  • 10:22 Maybe we just dont think big enough #
  • 13:38 Hello Google Toolbar people. Please catch up with the Firefox people. kthxbi #
  • 14:28 @KendraSerra yes, yes, I'm a browser or two behind #
  • 15:13 @walt828 and a former student of mine, small world #
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This counts because I have no home tubes... Looks like the former Governor of Illinois is going to prison, or like they call it there: retirement... Drafting class started today with "Who here is a slob?" Might as well find out right off the top... I worry about everything, but I am genuinely concerned about this debt ceiling sparring. I think one side has forgotten that the positions are likely to be reversed in the future... Someone fairly well positioned I only tangentially know said something really baseless and negative about my work. Can't decide what to do or if I should care... We are protecting them, we told them not to go - after that they're kinda on their own... The stunt post in our stairs is leaving tomorrow, I think... I know the NY gay marriage thing was important, but there is a part of me that thinks we should be talking more about the 46 other states... It is inadvertently kitten confinement week... I now have dual monitors at home and at work. Now I just have to figure out if it helps at all... I like that Firefox keeps after updating to close security holes. I dislike that the folks that do extensions don't often keep up with Firefox - but I'd probably feel differently if I wrote extensions... In a minute or two it will be July. June is for me the most stealthy of months... New DVR as of yesterday. I cannot remember the shows we were recording... Speaking of, we have DirectTV now - long FIOSFail story - are there any channels I wouldn't have had before I should know about? It's a lot of channels... Bringing back the dinosaurs at work. Gonna try for one or two new puzzles and an upsized steg... I think I am done with my AIM groups. Now I just need to find a way to ungroup people... If you haven't experienced "cut while you shop" Levelor blinds you should. It is a masterwork of product, packaging, and process...

Monday, June 27, 2011

140 Characters or Less...

  • 22:28 This house might be ridiculous. #
  • 11:16 what would a day be without a trip to the home center #
  • 11:17 @narcosislabs I think I'd rather be on the Uhit rifle team. #
  • 11:50 they can't tweet it if you don't sell tickets #
  • 14:54 No tubes tonight. But TV. #
  • 14:56 @narcosislabs since they now charge for baggage you'd figure the airlines would spring for carts to encourage he! avier packing. #
  • 15:18 Note to self: no leaning against the new range. #
  • 18:59 And the day's second home center trip #
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We're Holding For Internet

No tubes here at the new place, so blogging is... difficult. The move went ok. Given a choice I don't think we'd use that same company again. It's been difficult wading through all the items that came today and already I've discovered some damage.

The house is just nuts. Gonna take some getting used to that I live here.  I'm not sure where the notion comes from, but it's like I'm visiting someone else's house.

We're discovering some notes for our crew. They rushed to get to where we could get in here and we're discovering some things they've missed. So far though I think only one thing that really can't be fixed (fingers crossed).

We've got carpentry here for the next few days and probably painters all week. After that maybe we can really get unpacked and feel like we're home.

I think we have Verizon tomorrow. No FIOS at this address, so back to DSL :-( but at least I won't have to plunk out blog posts on my phone.

If you're around you should come see the place. It's off the hook.

Sent from my mobile.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

140 Characters or Less...

  • 22:06 Packing, packing, packing #
  • 10:00 Movers loaded, now unloading - I have to take a break to work. #
  • 10:50 @keeboch are you on the ground? #
  • 10:57 @aerdin2 @keeboch maybe the first time just concentrate on surviving. #
  • 12:36 @keeboch watch that first step #
  • 16:45 In the new house. Setting up temporary cat world. #
  • !
  • 18:20 Five minute break. #
  • 18:22 @aerdin there are many things missing but stairs are not one of them. #
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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Movers In...


140 Characters or Less...

  • 22:00 Even if I do manage 30 blog posts in 30 days I'm not sure I will have achieved something. #
  • 22:29 they gave away a cool shot in the Captain America trailer, hope the film has more #
  • 09:21 @donttrythis isn't a broadcast "fixing in media"? Might be a problem with the law. #
  • 11:49 On my way to the office. CMU School of Drama Precollege begins. #
  • 12:53 Mind freezing. #
  • 13:51 Getting ready for the faculty meet & greet #
  • 13:53 I now have a ridiculous amount of monitor #
  • 15:17 Getting to my perch was harder than normal this year. #
  • 16:57 @Verizon @fios why do you keep changing up our installation and service? Thinking seriously about just canceling. #
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Free WiFi

No that title won't bring people here by mistake.

Question: Is changing my consumer habits because of free wifi the responsibility of the shop keepers or a demonstration of a poor hardware choice on my part?

Today I didn't go where I wanted to go for lunch. I drove right by that place on on to another place I wanted to go to less. I did this because the second place has free wifi. In retrospect it seems odd to me that I would base the decision of what food to eat on the stop's data availability. But here we are.

This never used to happen. I rarely if ever used my laptop in public places like that. The combination of abysmal battery life and a poor antenna always made taking it a eventually disappointing ordeal. My phone gets internet over 3G. The decision there always seemed to be about if what I was eating could be managed with one hand, leaving an ungreasy hand to manipulate the touch screen (and yes, I have managed to eat wings with one hand to be able to surf at the same time).

Then came the tablet. While battery life isn't something to sing about it is much, much better than my laptop. On the other hand, I have a wifi only tablet. For the first time today I kinda regretted not getting the 3G version (which would last right up until I was billed for it even once).

So here I am, out for lunch, just looking for a place with unhealthy food and free wifi. McDonalds has free wifi, but I am trying to cut down. Rock Bottom has free wifi, but I am looking for fast food or fast casual. Uncle Sam's? No. Qdoba? No. Chipotle? No. Ok, ok already, back to Panera.

Talk about your 21st Century Problems.

Now I am sure that people will tell me I am framing the problem incorrectly. I have internet at home (and at work for that matter). Why not eat at home, or pack a lunch. Yes, you're right. Or they could say I should jailbreak my phone to enable tethering so as to be able to access the 3G internet connection on my phone through the tablet. Of the two, the latter is probably more likely to happen.

But really I should have just bought a paper.

140 Characters or Less...

  • 13:43 Dear Qdoba. I would have come for lunch today if you had free wi-fi #
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Drama Pre College

Another hiatus has come to an end. I managed to put work behind me fairly effectively, although I still have a lot to learn about relaxing and vacation.

This weekend we begin the School of Drama Summer Pre College program. We have a faculty meeting, the students arrive, and then we do an orientation of sorts. I've been doing this program for most of a decade now. I took most of last year off for all that "to did" business. Let's hope this summer is less interesting.

While I have been coordinator of the Design/Tech portion of the program the curriculum, faculty, and staff have varied based on budget and school leadership. We've got a good slate this year. Students will get all of these classes:

  • Basic Design
  • Lighting
  • Sound
  • Technical Production
  • Production Management
  • Stage Management
  • Drafting
  • Stagecraft

The stagecraft class this year has several mods:

  • Lighting
  • Props
  • Carpentry
  • Costumes

That class might also get a chance to build a part of one of our shows. Depends on how the design comes along.

I'm teaching Drafting again. I keep going back and forth about abandoning the hand drawing content and just giving them a CAD intro. In the end I fall back on the manual skills since I think it gives the kids something to show at interviews. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think I can get them to the point of presentable hand drafting faster than presentable CAD plates.

We're also doing a series of workshops this summer:

  • Marshmallow Challenge Plus
  • Dinosaur CAM Project
  • Tie Dye Workshop
  • Applying to College
  • Moving Light Workshop

I started the workshop thing last year to try to make room for things that didn't fit into a class. Sometimes I think maybe we should just do 28 workshops and no classes. Maybe I'll pitch that next year.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

140 Characters or Less...

  • 23:27 Why is the story "generic Republican out polls Obama" when the gist is "Republican voters don't like their actual choices"? #
  • 09:27 Movers for phase 3 confirmed. #
  • 11:34 @aerdin2 @giantspatula and then you're 40 #
  • 11:35 Watching a father walk his daughter blank by blank through a McDonalds job app #maybejustletherdoit #
  • 17:33 the good day/bad day oscillation at the new house continues #
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Insurance Deductible

I am sure that with the dawn of "Obamacare" this will all become pointless, and we have not long to wait to be held in the warm embrace of a federal single payer medical system, but if not I have a couple of thoughts about deductibles.

It occurred to me because I usually have a slate of doctor appointments this time of year. I let things go until after school ends and then I do a physical and there are sometimes other tests and follow ups and the like. I've been distracted lately so this hasn't happened this year and while I was considering that I had the vaguest thought about how I hadn't used any medical services this year to date and so if I went in I would have to pay.

As a side note, I am fairly sure this is why we have deductibles. It isn't anything to do with money management or billing. They are there to keep us from consuming services such that we get to the point where the insurer has to pay.

But that's another post.

After considering that bit I had two thoughts. Number One: I would like to prepay 100% of my deductible at the top of the cycle. I would then like to never see a bill or an EOB ever. This would simplify my life as I wouldn't have to keep track of where I was in the amount, I wouldn't get bills from my provider, and I wouldn't get thousands of paper mailings from my insurer that say "THIS IS NOT A BILL." I think the insurer would like it too as they wouldn't have to send me thousands of pieces of paper that say "THIS IS NOT A BILL" and they'd get to hold my money. Win-win I think.

If I don't spend my entire deductible in a given cycle they just apply it to the prepayment for the next cycle. If they want to charge me a fee for this accounting I would prefer they didn't, but probably could stomach 10-20 dollars (one would hope getting to hold the entire amount for a year might offset the need for a fee).

Number Two: I would like to set the rollover date for my cycle. As it stands now the reset of my deductible is tied to the annual calendar, resetting in January. This means the time it is most in my interest to use medical services is in December as I am most likely to have paid off my deductible and be into house money. As is the case for what I assume would be a lot of people I am very busy in December. It's the last week of class, and then I have finals and semester reviews and then there's all these holidays and family and travel. I'm busy. Like I started saying, I use the most of my services in June and July. Based on that I would like my deductible cycle to reset in September.

Truth be told I think if they do the actuarials on this they'll find it doesn't cost anything. All things being equal I don't believe I would consume makedly more services in this scenario. Mostly I think it would just make me feel better about the whole thing. But for the sake of argument lets say there are people that watch where they are in the cycle and in the deductible and do cram in visits prior to the annual reset. If everyone resets in January then this must mean that there is a surge in service in December. This would have to put an unnecessary strain on health providers and on insurance companies. Spreading the cycle reset around the calendar would even out this demand. Again, win-win.

Being that I don't run an insurance company I am sure I probably miss a critical feature of this discussion. But it'd be nice to think they could make this benign change just because it would make my life more pleasant.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

140 Characters or Less...

  • 22:32 Confirming. Daily blogging is hard. #
  • 17:33 no love from FIOS. Looks like its back to DSL :-( #
  • 17:34 @stagedirections I saw that, thanks! #
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Packing Begins

So whether the contractors are done or not, we're moving Sunday. (If you are keeping score on the whole finishing thing today we confirmed we won't have storm doors, a master bath, or completed paint - watch this space for updates).

This is an interesting move. Last Sunday we had a truck from Chicago. That was the stuff from my Dad's house. During the week (at least that was the plan, one we've had to change do to progress at the house) we'll be moving some of the things from the apartment. The last phase will be this coming Sunday. That'll be the balance of the things from the apartment (you know, the heavy things) and all of our stuff from the old house that has been in storage for six months.

Truth be told I don't so much even remember what's in storage besides winter clothes and a huge toolbox. Somehow I think it's more than that.

Side note. The iPad doesn't do as well as a camera as my other devices.

140 Characters or Less...

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There's No People...

...Like Show People

The contractor running the renovation of my new house just said the words "Monday or Tuesday" to me. That's as in next Monday or Tuesday.

We're moving in Sunday.

They were supposed to be done last Saturday.

And that doesn't count the original agreement and scope of work which said they'd be done by memorial day.

While I may in fact no many "Show People" that don't smile when they are low - quite the reverse, I know many who frown when they are happy - there is one thing I really admire about show people:

They understand a deadline.

Oh how I wish my house were a show and the guys doing in would treat our moving in as an opening night.

There's just something about folks that do theatre, movies, or TV that gives them a special relationship with deadlines. Remember the opening of "Broadcast News"? Where the Joan Cusack character sprints through the studio building nearly getting brained by a file cabinet so that the network wouldn't accidentally run dead air? If the guys building my house had been editing that report, the network would have seen color bars.

When you work in theatre you definitely take a lot of things for granted. Being motivated to finish tasks on time is a great big one of those things.

Monday, June 20, 2011

140 Characters or Less...

  • 15:30 The office sounds like it lost a battle with a can of Lysol #
  • 18:13 Yesterday's movers high definitely elapsed. #
  • 19:32 Mmm Mad Mex Highland #
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It's fathers day. Not the happiest of holidays in my world. It went alright... Trying to decide about Falling Skies. Didn't catch the premiere, not sure if I should look for it... One week to Precollege. Better think about drafting a little... Today was the start of the migration to the new house. The chicago stuff was delivered. Nice to have a chair at the new place... Hearing a lot about layoffs the last couple of days. Maybe we are in a double dip economy... I think it is funny that whatever the holiday, that's good enough a reason for a Star Wars Marathon on Spike... Today I briefly entertained the idea of heading a grassroots effort to unseat a Supreme Court Justice. Probably won't happen... I'm not sure, but I think maybe if you travel for work and others you work with don't make the trip then if you have to send emails to the group maybe they should be about how hard you are working... Turns out one of the things we saw furniture wise that we liked just happens to be the same line as a piece we already have... The Spiderman TOTD opening went without much fanfare... The President is coming to campus, the President of the United States, and all I could think of was how it would likely effect parking... After joining the Pittsburgh Ultimate Meet Up Group I have gone to zero meet ups... Was nice to see Owen get the game winning hit... The movie version of Company was pretty cool, be neat if this sparked a chain of all star concert films of musicals... I think this week I will finally read that book I have been carrying for several months... I got this app for blogging on the tablet. It worked twice but is now crashing every time I use it. Doesn't feel worth the investment to me... Is it true about covering a bird's cage? Would someone please tell my upstairs neighbor? Thanks...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

140 Characters or Less...

  • 21:43 @CBPittsburgh @mboevers be back soon #
  • 07:42 @giantspatula why did you not take my spares? #
  • 07:43 Waiting for the phase one movers. #
  • 11:07 Yes, still waiting. #
  • 11:28 Parking turns over quick here #
  • 14:02 Move phase one complete. David recommends Chicago's Midway Movers. #
  • 19:35 @cary! atiddreams you know I lived there for six years and never partook. #
  • 19:36 Internet sofa safari #
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Couch Fantasy League

Today we did a little design research. We went to maybe five stores to look at some furniture. At the end of the day we'd seen some really special couches.

If you were buying a couch, which would you buy?

Couch #1:

This one is really distinctive, and maybe not actually a couch. The piece on the right (stage right for the theatrically impaired) is a swivel. The ottoman is a separate piece, and that bit in the middle has a storage space.

After further consideration Mrs. TANBI thinks this might look like a woman bending over.

Couch #2:

So this one is really neat. It is two pieces. It might however be larger than most people's homes. It is a sectional system and there are maybe seven more pieces, so it might be worth some more research.

Couch #3:

This one has the advantage of sorta still being a couch while still having some very interesting lines. The curviness is a very nice feature.

I don't know if any of this will come to anything, but it was a fun day of shopping even if it doesn't.

140 Characters or Less...

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Friday, June 17, 2011

LEGO FunFest

Today we borrowed a couple of kids and went to the Lego Funfest at the convention center. It was crowded and loud and overall pretty cool. I didn't take too many photos because there were always other people taking photos, with their kids, you just didn't want to get in the way.

Probably the highlight of the thing were some large figures. Like these:

That one there is seven or eight feet tall. The Batman is really tall too, but it has a base. My favorites were from Star Wars:

Further in there was a section called "Models from Adult Fans" or as I heard it in my head "there but for the grace of God..." There were many pieces in there that were pretty good - although also many that wouldn't have competed with stuff I did in grade school. Here was my favorite from that part:

Complete with a tiny little DALEK.

Throughout the exhibit there were building areas, one for cars, one where they were making a map of the US, and several with only one color brick and a sponsor. The red bricks were sponsored by Target and in their area you were supposed to build things for their dog Bullseye. They even put out little suggestion sheets. I followed their suggestion and did this:

Can you tell what it is?

The kids had fun and I was mildly entertained, so I guess the trip was a success.

140 Characters or Less...

  • 21:12 Patti says "I'd like to make a toast" and I think: here we go and then she absolutely nails it. #
  • 21:16 Saw the "Company" film tonight. Took me back to season one of ATT in the IC basement. #
  • 11:14 @giantspatula is blue #
  • 11:18 Internet at the house feels like it is coming pony express #
  • 13:26 @ellenjuhlin should we send someone to infocomm? #
  • 16:53 Lego kidfest = human zoo #
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

We're the Very Best There Is

And we suck.

I have a friend who collects what he calls "Boeverisms." Today we were talking and he said he can't put his favorite Boeverism on his blog. I asked him what that quote was and he said:

We're the very best there is, and we suck.

I have to admit this is one of my current favorites as well. There seem to be so many occasions for which the statement is appropriate. So I ask him why he can't put this on his blog and he says "I don't want it to be too negative."

A little bit this surprised me. I've never really seen that statement as negative. I mean I guess I can see how it isn't particularly celebratory, but I also don't think it is a downer. At most I guess for someone that is particularly optimistic it could be a wet blanket. That for someone that thinks they are doing the very best that perhaps that isn't an accurate assessment.

I think the root of the thing is a positive statement. I mean it does start out "We are the very best there is." it is hard to get much more positive than that. The next part is very much "but don't let it go to your head."

The true heart of the statement is that in most cases no matter how well you are doing there is room for improvement, that you can always do better. I think you could also look at it as saying that even if you are right on target at the moment, that the frame of reference is dynamic and you have to stay on your game to stay at the top. There's also an element in there that you should judge yourself against an absolute scale rather than just against your competition: that even if you are the best, that doesn't automatically say you are any good.

I guess I can see how people might hear negativity in there. What I hear is reality.

140 Characters or Less...

  • 23:18 Blogging every day is hard #
  • 10:23 @bethsemler @rumdog_mcsmiles ...four hours later... #
  • 14:28 Did the "Men of a Certain Age" thing with Doc and Hardwareman today. We need a single guy. #
  • 14:30 @merichar @doctorow @cmubooks guess I should have come by - was right across the cut #
  • 14:58 @reneeblinkwolt if you go through life just a little bit depressed you're always pleasantly surprised #sayanything #
  • 15:04 LegoFest Tickets purchased #
  • 15:06 Printer installation angst conquered #
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Work Continues Apace

For those of you keeping track work on our new house is supposed to be complete this Saturday. It won't be, and really I haven't thought it would be for a while. It looks like it's going to be at least another week after that, and for a couple of items maybe even a little longer.

These may be the last pics I post for a while as the work is really winding up and things are almost finished. So much so that for people that see the blog that would see the house it might lose some of the "wow" factor - and for other people it will just look like something that isn't quite finished. So here's what happened just the other day.

The countertops for the kitchen were delivered.

This was a step involving much consternation as their truck and its boom wouldn't fit in our driveway with the dumpster there. This was a sub of a sub and the foreman wasn't on site when they arrived and phone calls and texts flew and then I had to go and be the TD. TD is the right metaphor as well because their guys got all crew-like and threatened to leave and then refused to do the job saying they'd get fired if that's what it took and then in the end did it anyway and got it done. Here's the very start of the install.

In the other room the floor is starting to go down, or the finished floor. We'd previously repaired floor joists, reattached a layer of planked underlayment, installed a new layer of plywood underlayment, treated the seams in that layer and then used some kind of mortar or flooring compound to level everything out, then applied a layer of felt underlayment, and now finally the floor: bamboo.

From the size of the room I figured two guys a day - day and a half to put down the whole thing. We're on day three and they are about half done. Residential floors are not the same as a show deck it would seem.

The much discussed stair guys have finally arrived and started their fit up.

I have to to tell you I have no idea what this is going to look like anymore, but I think it will be nice. Plus it will be nice to stop using the ladder to get to the second floor.

Last for this recap, the tile for the upstairs shower arrived.

Tiny pebbles. Hopefully a little foot massage every time we're in the shower.

Cross you fingers, the first wave of movers comes this weekend.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

140 Characters or Less...

  • 23:29 @giantspatula soon, certainly. #
  • 16:11 Even though it appears to fit, plugging the USB cable into the phone jack won't network your printer. #
  • 17:06 HP printer install sucking my soul. #
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Just Because You're Paranoid

That's the saying right? That just because you always think something is hinky doesn't mean it isn't? Yesterday Comcast announced that they're going to integrate Skype with their cable service (today they said they are also rolling out Facebook, which I guess means there will now be as many unusable widgets on people's Comcast boxes as there are now on my FIOS box).

I am guessing that this will mean that either the boxes will soon sport integrated web cams or you will finally be able to plug something into that USB port that's always been there with no discernible use.

Am I the only one creeped out by this?

A while back I remember that the Neilson people were talking about putting a camera in their "people meter" boxes so that they could tell if there were actually people watching or if the set was just on, or more productively how many people were watching when there were people watching. This felt like an invasion of sorts to me, but I guess it wasn't such a big deal because not everyone has a people meter.

But pretty much everyone has a cable box, one company or another. And what they think is that we want a live camera and microphone on our TV's? A live bug in every bedroom in America? Orwell would be proud.

There's a news story that's been around for a while here in PA about a school district that issued laptops to their students. The laptops had a security program that allowed a remote service to activate the web cam without the participation of the user. Can you guess what they found? Thousands of candid images of students taken without their notice. Is there anything to be learned here?

I have this picture in my head. It's of the people that work at the call center, the ones that can kick your box remotely when you call tech service with a problem. What is Comcast going to do to assure me that these kind folks aren't using me as reality TV? And whatever they do, why on Earth based on our prior experience would I believe them?

Comcast should have to sign a $10 million dollar pledge for any user who it is discovered to have had images wrongly recorded, and they should have to give every customer with the service a free year for each instance where it happens to anyone. The privacy rules here need to be iron clad if we are to allow this possibility into our homes.

Did you know your cable box is on even when it is off? Our FIOS box sends a little "you forgot to turn off your TV" message when it is "off" so it must be on. My old Comcast box would go to a set up menu if you pressed "menu" on the remote while the box was "off." At least cell phones and computers turn off, and land lines hang up. Have you read Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"? Think about all those open mics.

And let's not even begin to think about the NSA and FBI dimensions to the thing.

Still, the press is positive. I guess maybe it's time to invest in white noise generators and duct tape.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

140 Characters or Less...

  • 20:04 I'd like NPH to open the republican debate. #
  • 22:09 I am not mad at anyone #
  • 22:15 I could use some help in the shop tomorrow cleaning some steel and doing some paint prep. I'll pay (probably poorly). Afternoon. #
  • 22:30 This posting every day thing is hard. #
  • 09:48 Turn toward the pain, please. #dds #
  • 11:10 @giantspatula hasn't worked for me #
  • 11:34 Would you trust your cab! le company to have a camera on your cable box? #
  • 18:45 Slow day for me on the Twitterz #
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Monday, June 13, 2011

The Times They Are-A Changin

I follow the feed of this forum "" Mostly I do it for recruiting purposes for work. Internet discussion groups for theatre would be a topic for another day. So I am looking for "I want to grow up to be a TD, where should I go to school?" When I see that I plug CMU Drama. I'm not sure it's even generated one application, but I keep trying.

The other day someone (ok, not someone, "techninja") posts this:

Education a must or not??

Hi all,

I just finished my first year of undergrad as a theatre student, and well, I can't decide what I want for next year. I don't like some of the ways the theatre is run, and at times I feel like I really learned nothing. And I'm taking the fall semester off this year, and don't know if I want to go back. I feel like I don't NEED a degree in theatre to get far in this industry, but am looking at getting an Associates in Electric at a local tech school. But, I am worried that is not enough to get me where I want to be in the world of light and sound design.

So I guess that my question is, those of you who've 'been there, done that', do you think that its a necessity to get at least my Bachelors in Technical theare/design, or will I be able to make a living off of just an associates?

This is actually a fairly normal post. There are always people trying to decide if a career in technical theatre takes a college degree. What was different was what I said:
Re: Education a must or not??

So I have a long standing "it depends" flavor answer to this type of query and I think the time has come to change my tune. I don't believe I am saying this, but I think I've finally come round:

You will need to go to school to become a successful professional designer.

I just don't see the working your way up path leading there any longer. I guess there's still the right place/right time "struck by lightening" route. Maybe you become a rock and roll LD if you hook up with a band at the start and hang with them - but otherwise I just think you have to have school now. It'll be too hard to get the internships or the assistantships that lead to where you want to be when all your competition has the networking and the resume provided by school.

I'm not enthused about this, and like I hedge above there will be exceptions, but I am convinced that for the bulk of the people this is now true.


First I'm not sure if your goal is really design.


Really I think the bigger question in the current paradigm is not "if" but rather "when" and "what."

You are unhappy with your current training situation. You've elected to stop. Good choice. Many people in our field feel like they have to feel bad to be making headway when really they should be realizing they are in the wrong place.

How's this as a new gauge...

Rather than ask what training you need to be ultimately successful look for the work you want, and then if you're getting that work - do that work and be happy. If you get to the point where you're not getting the work you want, look at why you're not getting the work and make a change - if that change involves training you'll then have the incentive to get through it, and you will be sure there is something to learn that you need to learn (be it BFA, BA, MFA, Associates, or just specialized training).

Not everyone is ready for the same kind of training at the same time. Waiting until you've really identified what you need can't hurt you.
This is a little bit saddening to me, but the more I think about it the more I think I am probably right. There are just too many people with the degree chasing to few jobs, and the degree is the avenue into so many of the entry level experiences.

Is it all design disciplines? When I started considering the change of heart I was thinking no, that lighting was that much more complicated and that much smaller a community. But with more thought I think it's probably fairly even across the board, maybe sound design is easier because there are fewer people (but not for long). Maybe costumes has inroads because so many low level productions need costumes (but I'm not sure how you make the jump).

Do you have to have a conservatory degree? No.
Do you have to get a Masters? No.

Actually I guess the interesting question here is: Is there a niche for an associates level degree? I know there are community college programs out there. Many of them are designed to train people for the locals. But that's stagecraft and not design. It's hard for me to tell how we'd evaluate that on a resume, if someone with a BA would automatically look better than someone with an Associates.

Is this true on the tech side? I don't think so, but it depends what gig you want eventually. Can you work your way up to LORT TD? I doubt it. Summerstock TD? Probably not, but maybe - depends on your regular year gig. Commercial Project Manager? Probably, but curiously that might mean a drop in pay from the floor to the office depending on the shop.

In the end I think it does prompt a better question. Maybe prospective students will take more time to figure out when the right time for their training should be rather than just coming to it right away. It seems to me to be a far better process to go and get training you know you need for a path you've identified rather than committing to training you think you need for a path you're considering.

If you want to see the whole thread, you can do so here.

140 Characters or Less...

  • 19:54 So much for that double digit lead #finals #
  • 19:57 @walt828 they're talking to you right now #
  • 20:18 Halftime. Flipping break. #
  • 20:24 @matt_dollinger at least I got to watch an extra ten minutes of the Tonys #
  • 20:25 Where are the tweets from the people hearing what's behind the bleeps? #
  • 20:31 @bpeoples one would assume that would also be true of large waistlines. #
  • 21:07 Nice hoop to end the quarter, but not exactly finals worthy O #
  • 21:07 @giantspatula they did an arena tour show #
  • 21:09 Tap'll get you nowhere. #formymom #
  • 21:18 Actually we replace the floorboards once they're worn. #Tonys #
  • 21:26 That Wade backdoor should have been a turning point. I wonder why it wasn't? #finals #
  • 21:36 Fairly sure I went to school with him #Tonys #
  • 21:43 Perhaps undercutting NPH's op ener a little. #
  • 21:44 Mavs win #
  • 21:58 Too much media? #tonys #finals #
  • 23:28 @beccarebec nobody worth talking about anyway #
  • 11:19 Today I am living in an episode of This Old House #
  • 11:59 @giantspatula not how it works #
  • 14:07 Miss the Tonys?: #
  • 15:13 Wow, that's a big monitor. #
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Media Overload

If you are me, this is how you handled Chris Rock's Problem:

What was Chris Rock's problem? He said "If a year ago you had told me I would miss the greatest basketball game of all time to hang with Nathan Lane..." On the TV you have the Tony's. On the laptop, slinging from the bedroom you have game 6 of the NBA Playoffs. The solution worked pretty well, although it made me wonder why if we have a dual tuner DVR cable box why I can't do picture in picture like we could 20 years ago. Also, the Slingbox and app introduce a delay that was a little annoying when switching back and forth. I really could only use it to see when one cast was coming back from commercial. If I tried to catch something closer I usually just missed it (and yes the sling and the DVR are both caching, but going back seemed to be a fairly self defeating exercise).

In the end I think I saw just as much Tonys as I would have liked and maybe never really got into the rhythm of the basketball game.

One thought on each?

Tonys: I really think we ought to pay attention more to Mark Rylance. I've enjoyed his Tony speeches.

Hoops: I believe LeBron is still young. Micheal had to slog year after year through Detroit before the Bulls became a thing. He's just not there yet. He's got the talent, but he needs to build the resume some more.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

140 Characters or Less...

  • 19:55 @aerdin sears #
  • 13:55 I am not a sleazy link sender #
  • 14:01 @ActuallyNPH with great budgets comes great responsibility. #
  • 16:56 Lock on my lock back knife just failed. Still have 8 & 2. #ouch #notsupposedtohappen #thanksvictorinox #
  • 16:57 @keeboch I vote skydiving. You can sing "Being Alive" in freefall. #taxi #
  • 16:58 @giantspa! tula yeh, that was odd #
  • 17:47 Almost said this today: you cannot be a professional lighting designer any longer without school. Discuss. #
  • 19:22 @aerdin2 well, a little bit that hurt my feelings. Thanks. #
  • 19:37 Amazing how often the Finals and the Tonys are both commercials #
  • 19:38 @giantspatula got room here #
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What do you do on a nice sunny and thankfully not to hot Saturday in Pittsburgh? Many people went to the Pride Festival. Many people went to the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

And many, many people waited in line all day to be extras in a film we suspect is the next installment of The Dark Night...

This is like 1:00pm. One of my students working down at the point said people were cued around the block when he was going to work at 10:00.

Just goes on and on and on. I hope they got in the movie.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

140 Characters or Less...

  • 21:34 Dinosaur race. Surprise ending. #
  • 21:47 How is it that there are still people that don't know THAT ALL CAPS IS SHOUTING. #emailfail #
  • 02:19 Stayed up too late #
  • 10:58 Yeh well that wasn't very likely #
  • 12:08 ArtsFest bound #
  • 16:07 Appliance shopping #
  • 19:55 @aerdin sears #
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Dino Races

My mother-in-law sent us these toys a little while back with the tagline: "Let the dino races begin." So here you go. Turns out to not be much of a race, although there is a surprise ending. But really not much of a surprise if you live here.

I think maybe the green one wins. Might not be fair though as I think the purple one was frozen in terror.

140 Characters or Less...

  • 21:52 9.8 may be the lightest shoe ever, but on a hoops commercial all I can think of is the acceleration of gravity #
  • 21:59 @ellenjuhlin we saw those, they're in the running. #
  • 22:22 @ebertchicago how did tentpole Super 8 avoid 3-D? Execs thought it was in 8-D. #
  • 22:36 Haymaker time again #finals #
  • 22:40 Boom! #finals #
  • 13:27 @matt_dollinger even on a bad day it's got to be! pretty great. #
  • 16:12 High frequency tweeters among you. This is for you: #
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Thursday, June 09, 2011

On Apartment Living

This little housing odyssey we're on right now has us in an apartment for a few months. Really it was always part of the plan. There was something about the nature of the market we were in that said to us we should sell our house first and then buy the new one. That brings with it needing a place to be in between.

So we are living in a very nice apartment. It's reminded me of things I guess I'd forgotten. We're in the downstairs of a two story unit. The upstairs neighbors have kids. I think they are training to be world cup soccer players. We get an awful lot of scampering through the ceiling. Once a long time ago I stayed with a friend who lived in a basement apartment under a family with a baby. They has one of those caste red seats where the baby can roll around the room. They also had hardwood floors. My friend, she got hour after hour of rolling casters. The apartment here and our soccer athletes, it's not that bad, but it does remind me how nice it was when we were in our own house.

Sometime after we moved in the upstairs neighbors got a pet. Pets are nice. We have an army of cats. I guess we should be thankful the folks upstairs didn't get cats or a dog. We'd wind up hearing skittering all the time if that were the case. What they did get was a bird. Most of the time we have no notice of their feathered friend. Occasionally though it seems like maybe it's too much for them and they'll put the birdcage in the basement and we'll hear what must be a lonely bird tweeting from downstairs. More irritatingly, they've taken to putting the cage outside on their balcony - right over our bedroom window. We've been doing our best to keep the air off and the windows open. On more than one occasion that's got us chirping at 5:00 am.

And really chirping and tweeting don't really cover it. A little bit it's more like shrieking, if birds shrieked.

Recently we discovered that the new upstairs tenants in the next door unit like to stay up and shoot the shit well into the shank of the evening, and of course this is on their balcony. That gives us chatting until two and the shrieking at five.

All of which is just a real long way of saying I really can't wait for the work on our new place to be done.

140 Characters or Less...

  • 20:39 Burgatory fail. 45 minute wait at 8:30. :-( #
  • 20:51 @narcosislabs Im sure youll come up with something #
  • 21:11 the bottom 80% of filers received about 35% of the cuts. The top 20% received about 65% & the top 1% alone claimed 38% #
  • 21:35 Should I see Melissa in July in New York or August in Maryland; or have I outgrown such things? #
  • 21:46 Democrats shouldn't be worried a scandal makes them look bad, they should be worried their ineffectiveness makes them look bad. #
  • 12:36 @keeboch was pretty much all pants for a while. #
  • 12:58 @giantspatula um, its old #
  • 13:02 @aerdin Comcast - virtual monopoly, Amazon - not a monopoly; who did you think would do better? #
  • 13:07 @CarnegieMellon Drama CFA 1990 #
  • 13:22 Looking for offbeat shelving ideas (fit for a living room) - seen anything special? #
  • ! 14:53 @stagedire ctions not finding out much on desks, except that entry is like $800. #
  • 14:54 If you are looking for adjustable height desks, search "Sit and Stand Desk" #
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011


Just enabled a mobile format for the blog. Really hadn't had a problem with it on my phone, but I do what they tell me... We know about our troops on the ground in Afghanistan, Iraq, and our involvement in Libya. I wonder about how many places we're involved that we don't know about... Press really down on LeBron today. They're not really wrong, he did fade a little in the last game... Wondering if the Mrs. TANBI thing is over now and I should just say Marisa... They're remounting Charlies Angels as a TV show this fall. Next I am thinking Love Boat... Saw the Weiner money shot today, now its a whole different thing I think... Signed up for the Pittsburgh Ultimate Meet Up group. Only time will tell if I actually get out to play... We went to this cool restaurant for dinner tonight but had to leave - 45 minute wait at 8:30 on a Wednesday, we're just not that cool... Just heard that Pitt was the #1 seed at college ultimate nationals this year. They finished in a tie for 5th. Best we ever did was 3rd... Today our contractor told us we can't get the storm doors in time because the lead is too long, one wonders why they weren't ordered when the actual doors were (the ones that have been on the house for 2 weeks)... With all the Twitter transcripts, I wonder if the Ellipses posts are redundant? Still, it's a staple... I keep going to work even though each day I accomplish a little less. I'm thinking it's the air conditioning... Can anyone explain to me the obsession Republican legislatures have with gay marriage? I can't figure out why they care even a little... Got a new lock on our apartment door today from a guy who just assumed I would know where his shop was. This is a fairly tight neighborhood we're moving into... OPEC cut back production to keep oil prices high. Good thing we have no price controls or anything... One of my five cats refuses to socialize with us. I no longer think that's cute... It looks like Apple is going to build a spaceship for their next headquarters. I'm hoping they tell us it has turbolifts... I bought a monitor today that might be too big, guess we'll see when it gets here... Shania Twain is getting a Vegas show. But I already saw Shania Twain in Vegas... I'm really hoping the Opelio season goes better for the boys on the Cornelia Marie than King Crap did...

140 Characters or Less...

  • 20:07 Today I talked. To a CSR on the phone for 5 minutes, confirmed all my info just to be told I had to use the mail. #geethanks #
  • 21:04 Anyone getting a 4077 vibe off this new abc combat hospital show? #
  • 21:05 @matt_dollinger @mboevers ok we'll wait for next time #
  • 21:07 @keeboch @aerdin2 but does it have an elevator? #
  • 08:31 @narcosislabs shouldn't you save the iPhone-y stuff for while you're away? #
  • 08:34 Waiting for a repairman. #
  • 12:45 @jkrall no bullshit #
  • 12:46 Is A/C a legit reason to go to the office? #
  • 14:43 Val's logic could not be argued against. #
  • 14:45 @jkrall I had the same thought. I admire the thought but wonder about the language. No foolin? And no bull? Straight up? Dunno. #
  • 14:45 @bpeoples make it small enough you don't have to put anything in it. #
  • 14:46 @bpeoples sure thing. got lots of space these days. #
  • 15:11 @aerdin Sondheim? #
  • 15:38 @PghFilmOffice what's your icon look like? #
  • 16:20 @48v and make and break, yes? #
  • 16:28 @48v use a weldnut and then a tamper headed machine screw? #
  • 16:34 @48v right, a tamper proof snap. security velcro #
  • 16:40 @48v might be something here #
  • 16:40 @48v #
  • 16:46 @48v or here: last tweet #
  • 18:26 Having contractor confidence issues... #
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Sins of the Father

Do you watch the American Chopper? For me its one of the "real people" shows I watch: Stagehands Catch Crabs, Stagehands Drive Trucks, Stagehands Cut Trees, and Stagehands Build Bikes. American Chopper of course being the last. I think when I started watching a while ago it was more about the fabrication than the personalities, but the last two seasons they haven't really let it be that anymore.

A while back Sr. fired his son. I can relate to this. When my mother and I tried to work together we could really never make it work. For some folks, working with family isn't the best possible choice. I'm not sure we ever saw what the reality of the environment was and I don't know how much of it was work and how much was family issues, but in the end they couldn't make it work and there was a parting of the ways.

Jr. had a one year non-compete with OCC and so he spent a year kinda foundering and the show really suffered for it I think. This year he's back to building bikes at his own shop and for the first time in a bit the show had back some of what it had lost.

But it's also had this just wrenching, terrible through line of the father/son dispute with all kinds of sniping and lawsuits and politicking. It's been really hard to watch at times. Through the whole thing I've always thought that it shouldn't matter what he's struggling with, it's on Sr. to get it together and repair his family. The things he says about his kids to the people that work for him are just awful, and his take on the whole situation is just unfortunate.

I suppose we need to layer over this the thought that we're seeing something that's been edited and structured by a TV producer, and *maybe* there's been some of this that's just been for show. But my read is that if that is the case it's the greatest TV show in the history of the medium.

This season has climaxed with one client ordering bikes on the same theme from both companies. That show aired last night and Discovery is running a viewer poll so fans can vote for who they think is the better bike builder. If the show isn't a put on the results are going to be shattering for Paul Sr.

It's not very close.

More than the total wipeout on the scoreboard I thought the comments on the page were really telling with fan after fan saying they really wish Sr. would make things right with his son.

I really hope he can.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

140 Characters or Less...

  • 22:49 Genuine positive reinforcement. Almost forgot what that felt like. #
  • 11:28 @Mboevers apparently I don't follow anyone that replied. #
  • 15:52 The late night Weiner roundup: #
  • 17:22 Anyone know anything about desks like these: #
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Monday, June 06, 2011

And So It Turns Out He Did It

Can I tell you what most disappoints me in finding out the guy did send a picture of his package to that woman? That when it came out he didn't tell us he sent a picture of his package to that woman.

Would it have been so bad?

"Occasionally I have sent what I believe to be humorous photos to online acquaintances. It's always done out of a sense of play. Sometimes my interactions can be a little risque. Historically those involved have found those particular instances to be the most funny. On this occasion I unfortunately and inadvertently made something that was supposed to be a private message public. I am extremely embarrassed by this error and apologize to anyone else who may have been embarrassed or offended. I will do everything in my power to use better judgement and pay better attention to my actions in the future."
It isn't 140 characters, so he wouldn't have been able to tweet it, but I think if that had been the very first thing he said, rather than "I was hacked" it might be over now and we could continue musing about Paul Revere. But he didn't, a little bit he panicked I guess - that's what I heard he said. It's too bad.

The reason I think he could have squelched it is that I believe this is a more common behavior than is perceived, especially among younger people. I read just today that some jurisdiction is working on a "sexting" law that will protect the parties involved from being exposed (ha) to child pornography laws. Like it or not the whole country is a little freaky with their technology. Couldn't hurt us to recognize that within the public discourse.

Also a little bit I just can't stand to listen to people in Washington talk to me about moral behavior. Year after year we hear about scandal after scandal. They could do all of themselves and us a break to just cut everyone a little slack. I don't need to hear from someone on their third spouse about the dangers of emailing a picture of my underwear. There's a line here about people in glass houses, yes? And another about casting the first stone?

Where's Larry Flynt when you need him?

One of my friends asked "what is with these people?" and I think maybe it isn't just about Congressmen. I think what we're seeing play out here is about the intimacy of communication, the speed of that communication, humor, and young people. You know, you have this thing that is theoretically direct and private, and it all happens in an instant without much time for reflection - and there's really no "unsend" button to push. Plus its funny or feels good to be flirty, and often the people on the other end, they just don't have the same consequences to deal with so they're more than willing to go there even when an older person maybe should be having a second thought.

I've felt this in my own experience, especially on chat. When you become friends with someone and you are having these private exchanges you can sometimes see that line there and whiz right by it anyway. And then you are thinking, "wow, maybe I shouldn't have said that" but it's too late. You did, and it's logged and cached and out there forever. I never sent anyone a picture of my package (I did once *tell* someone I was sending her a picture of my tool. Then I sent a picture of my tool belt - not the same).

Mostly this makes me wonder what is fair game now. Are we going to start asking candidates for their internet history? How about asking people if they've run a search on Adult Friend Finder? Are hackers going to crack candidates computers and show us what websites they've been on or who they've been skyping with? Could a candidate in this climate recover from someone disclosing they'd recovered part of "2 Girls 1 Cup" from their hard drive?

You know, I'm not sure that would even be a bad thing. These are the people regulating our media. Maybe scandals like this are good for the government. At least it will educate them a little bit to what's out there (as if they didn't know - freaky little congresscritters).

140 Characters or Less...

  • 21:42 Haymaker time #nbafinals #
  • 14:02 20% of 56 is 11.2 or more coarsely a little less than 1/4 #sometimesworkishard #
  • 15:30 @CBPittsburgh barely got out of the furniture end of the store. Being from Chicago, am so happy to have you here #
  • 15:33 archiving email - every day can't be exciting #
  • 19:05 @sspuh yuck #
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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Film At Eleven

Did you hear on the news? The former governor of Alaska was in Boston and said something ignorant about Paul Revere. If you're a lefty like me you couldn't miss it. Every blog and news source covered it comprehensively. Even Fox News took her to task. Seems like given a chance the right wing news machine will eat it's own young.

If you follow my Google Shared Items Feed you saw the story. I think I linked to Jezebel or one of the other Gawker sites. I too took the moment to revel in the ignorance.

But there's a problem. One of the righty blogs I follow occasionally had a historian evaluate what she said, and if you can get passed the grammar it wasn't too far from the truth. While on the night of the "one if by land" ride he might not have trash talked to the British or fired warning shots or rang bells, and on that night maybe the troops weren't coming to seize colonial weapons all of those things were in play at the time.

I mean the quote came less than ten minutes after she left the Old North Church where I am sure a guide who knows more of the intricacies of the Paul Revere story than most of us probably laid it all out. The the Mama Grizzly's retelling was typically more detailed than you might normally hear is probably due to that.

I have a different media strategy I'd like to see employed. Next time that bus turns up someplace, don't cover it; and the next time someone on that bus says something, don't cover that either. You're not going to convince any of your readers to vote against her, they're already going to do that and while your not helping your cause at all you're providing free publicity for her to those that might vote for her.

Stop doing that.

140 Characters or Less...

  • 20:48 @aerdin shoulda gone to the movies #
  • 21:13 @aerdin now rock bottom #
  • 22:41 @aerdin bridesmaids #
  • 22:42 @walt828 wow that is a crappy article #
  • 22:43 @KendraSerra get to work #
  • 14:07 at work looking for distractions #
  • 14:09 wanna be in Batman: #
  • 14:21 Should I up the ante on the Basic PTM class? #
  • 14:27 the kittens at the store made me WAY allergic #
  • 15:04 I can't imagine why anyone would want this within an hour of Pittsburgh actually I can. :-( #
  • 16:17 Google says 49 minutes, doesn't answer why not SSWorks, or waterfront, or the Mills... #
  • 19:08 @aerdin much as I'd like for i! t to be true, if you look carefully it seems like she was more goofy t han wrong. #
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Saturday, June 04, 2011


So we went to see Bridesmaids. We went to the theatre not knowing which movie to go see, and I think we were going to see the new X-Men but Roger Ebert says not to see movies with a "D" after them when you can see something from a traditional projector. Since I do everything Roger Ebert says we saw Bridesmaids.

They're marketing this film like it is a female "The Hangover" but it isn't. I expected to see lots of Las Vegas hyjinks, but that's not what you get. It's much more about the relationships of a couple of key characters than it is about some kind of ridiculous weekend.

It *is* like The Hangover in a couple of ways, mostly by way of the gross out factor. There's a scene fairly early on that pushes back some boundaries with regard to bodily functions and polite society. There's also one bridesmaid that matches up with the unkept groomsman in The Hangover, but really even that is only about half of who she is.

This movie also has a romantic story that runs parallel with the main story. I kind of felt like this was the weaker part of the film, or moreover like this was part of a different film because it really didn't fit with the movie we thought we were going to see. The male part of this romance was drawn a little two dimensionally and maybe unrealistically well meaning.

Overall I guess when the film is doing the gross out plot it's fairly strong and when it's doing other things it's fairly innocuous. I imagine the deleted scenes on the DVD will be even funnier than the film in context.

Also there was Wlson Phillips, and Wilson (wait, now I'm thinking maybe I missed a gag).

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  • 22:10 Anyone got an iPad app for publishing to Blogger? The touchscreen navigation makes using the site through Safari less than. #
  • 17:28 @CBPittsburgh had a good visit to the store today, but no drinks. :-( #
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Friday, June 03, 2011

Some Thing I Have Learned About Stairs

I spent my day getting sucked into stair world. You know, we're doing this house and in the house there's this staircase, or at least there was a staircase until we took it out. Anyway today I learned a bunch about staircases.

Mostly I learned that sometimes the building code is not your friend.

See, it turns out in the code that a residential staircase with walls has to be 36" between the walls. If you're doing a staircase without walls then it has to be 36" between the handrails. Do you see what happened there? It means that a floating staircase has to be inherently wider than a staircase between walls. Wider by the width of the railings and the finger space behind the railings if there's an obstruction.

So, if you remove a staircase that had walls and try to replace it with a floating staircase and the whole thing has to fit in the space that has always been there... it won't.

And that's what we're doing.

Our stairs have no first floor walls, but pass through a gap in the ceiling that is a fixed size (the size of the old staircase). Also apparently they built the original staircase at precisely the smallest size it could be by code. The result being the new stairs don't really fit and one of the railings will really be place unoptimally.

Partway through this discovery I tried to apply some problem solving skills. We need 3-1/2". It's much like a TD scenery project so I figure I can find that much space. The plans looked like this going across:

1-1/2" space
1-1/2" rail
36" clear tread
1-1/2" rail
1-1/2" space
1-1/2" rail
36" clear tread
1-1/2" rail

So I puzzle over it an suggest:

1-1/4" space
1" rail
36" clear tread
1" rail
1" rail
36" clear tread
1" rail

Ding the math, that saves 3-3/4" and solves the problem, or at lest it would if the 36" wide step was the whole of the code. But it's not. The railing can't be 1" it has to be at least 1-1/2" and the spacing can't be 1-1/4" it has to be 1-1/2" (really, 1/4" matters to somebody) and you have to have the space between the rails EVEN IF THEY ARE AT DIFFERENT ELEVATIONS.

I swear it's enough to drive a body to vote republican.

So, the new steps, while cool, will not be exactly what we were looking for (or placed where we were looking for). But they will be up to code and pass an inspection. I guess that's better than doing what we want and then having to rebuild them to code.

Plus, there's an epilog. I went back and looked at the photos from the home inspection to see what was there before the demo. That staircase didn't fit under the hole either. Guess I wasn't (guess nobody wasn't) paying close enough attention.

I'll have to remember that for the next house.