Tuesday, February 28, 2012


If you haven't heard, Allegheny County is going through a county wide real estate re-assessment.  A while back a few homeowners sued the state saying that their taxes we not representative and the judge on the case ruled that the whole county needed to be reevaluated.

Needless to say reassessing an entire county is a big job and errors have been fairly common.  I heard about one guy who owned a parking space in his apartment building that had previously been assessed at $500 having it reassessed at $40,000.  It seems likely that a computer model was used and nobody ever put eyes on the properties as they were evaluated.

Our house didn't see that kind of jump, but it was formidable.  The county says that even though the assessments are going up, people's taxes won't because the taxing bodies are not allowed to take advantage of a reassessment windfall.  So even though the property value is going up, taxes are supposed to remain the same because the taxing bodies will have to lower their rates.  That seems like it works fairly well if you are in the world of "average" but even if the millage goes down, people with sharp assessment increases will pay more.

So many people complained about their new number that the county set up an informal appeal process.  A formal appeal is a court proceeding and requires a filing fee, the informal hearings are free (although you have to take off work and then park downtown).

We spent nearly a month cogitating over what to do at our appeal.  We found the settlement from the home sale.  We came up with the appraisal we had to do at the sale.  We talked for a long time about how to characterize the work that we'd done on the house since we bought it; if it was a refresh or an update or a reno or a reno that didn't increase the square footage.  We looked at the comps the assessment specified and thought of all kinds of reasons that they weren't appropriate: traffic, streetlights, buses, rentals, steepness of grade...

The hearing went a little like this:

"So how much do you think your house is worth?"

"Well, we bought it for this much just over a year ago."

"Then that's what it's worth."
Maybe 5 minutes.  They scanned the settlement page and we were on our way.  Doesn't mean it'll come out that way, we'll have to wait and see.  What we did find out for sure is that I angst too much.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Good Thing or Bad Thing

Is it a good thing or a bad thing if your lecture notes look like this:

Something to ponder.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Worth a Look

Here are a few posts from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time...

How Technology is Influencing Storytelling and Film:

NoFilmSchool: Here’s an excellent panel from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, sponsored by Adobe and featuring Vincent Laforet, Rob Legato, Jacob Rosenberg, and Sharlto Copley. The 77-minute panel follows, in full, with some pulled quotes and highlights.

Carnegie Mellon Sets Tiered Tuition For Incoming and Current Students in 2012-2013

Carnegie Mellon University: Carnegie Mellon University will increase tuition by 4 percent for its incoming 2012-2013 class. This year's increase, and those of the previous three years, is among the university's smallest since 1975. CMU also announced tuition increases for continuing students, who will see their tuition rise by 3 percent for the 2012-2013 academic year. CMU uses this tiered pricing model to help protect current students from larger increases. The university's board of trustees approved the new tuition rates on Feb. 15.

Video: watch Photoshop CS6 cut hours of editing down to seconds

DVICE: Adobe might have conceded that mobile Flash wasn't worth the hassle, but it still knows how to keep Photoshop as the premier image editing tool. Be astounded as you see Photoshop CS6's Content Aware Fill tool magically move objects around a picture with little effort. Photoshop is only a tool. What you do with it and how you push the software to its limits to bend to your creativity takes years of learning. Ask any Photoshop pro, and the answers will be the same: most complex photoshopping takes hours to work on. It's the only reason why some graphic designers are paid the big bucks.

10 Ways Being a Theatre Major Prepared Me for Success

Wayfarer: I have a confession to make. I was a theatre major in college (yes, complete with the snooty but appropriate ”re” spelling). I’ll wait for you to stop snickering. Judson University (it was Judson College when I attended), the small liberal arts college outside of Chicago labeled the major course of studies as “Communication Arts” which is what I tend to put on resumes and bios because I realize that “theatre major” tends to elicit thoughts such as “Do you want fries with that?”

Fast Talk: Why Fashion Designers Need To Embrace Their Inner Geek

Fast Company: Jean-Paul Cauvin calls himself the binôme, or right-hand man, of the French designer Julien Fournié. Following his advice, Fournié recently teamed up with Dassault Systèmes, whose 3-D simulations last year demonstrated how you could tug an iceberg across the ocean. Why this unlikely partnership? Together, the team developed FashionLab, which enables fashion designers to envision their garments in 3-D from the earliest stages of the creative process. As New York Fashion Week drew to a close, Fast Company spoke with Cauvin about the need for designers to embrace the brave new world of technology-assisted fashion design.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Daytime ellipses this time.  Trying something new...  Google Reader has forsaken me, no longer marks items as read.  That's going to be a big number in my inbox soon...  Some of our Sweeney Todd productions are sold out.  Nice to have sold out shows...  Might be done with Glee, and Lost Girl doesn't seem to be sticking, and truthfully could be the end of Ax Men...  That joinery project is probably going to take you longer than you think...  Really I would like to rearrange/remodel my office.  Maybe this summer...  These days it seems like many kids get more education content than their parents had, so I'm not sure returning education decisions to parents is a generally good solution...  Made it through probably 30 minutes of Republican debate last night.  More and more I think its a strange country...  Got to stop wasting time...  They softened that Virginia law.  Still sucks...  Many people are talking about how wonderful the Spring is.  It is still February, 8 weeks to Carnival.  Often it snows at Carnival...  I think maybe the people that made our video missed the point...  Every time I watch these guys I keep thinking "What is it you're afraid of?"  But maybe they really are afraid...  Two shows this semester with grass after never having grass before.  I wonder what's up with that...  One more weekend of interviews for this year...  Have to start walking to work...  Really hoping Occupy makes a comeback this spring...  I made a fairly radical proposal at a meeting at the top of the week.  Doesn't look like anyone is going to bite though...  Yesterday I had a 30 minute meeting to meet someone I've actually worked with for several years.  Internal candidates are awkward...  Thinking about buying a chunk of Apple stock.  Think that's a good idea?  Let me know.  Soon...  Last week I was going to say how many strong female characters there were on Justified - but then Raylan shot her... 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Worth a Look

Here are a few posts from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time...

Announce 2012 YD&T Award Winners

Sightlines: Winners of the nine USITT Awards for Young Designers & Technicians in the Performing Arts have been selected for 2012. All winners were nominated by USITT members. The adjudication process included jury members whose areas of expertise matched the award categories working with representatives of the individuals and companies who sponsor the awards. The winners will be honored during USITT's Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Long Beach California in March. Awards will be presented during the Opening Night celebration on Wednesday, March 28.

Tom Petty, Bob Dylan Vs. Music Labels: The Industry's New Copyright War

The Hollywood Reporter: In 1976, Congress, sympathetic to musicians who often sign away rights for a pittance before they become stars, wrote Section 203 of the Copyright Act, which gives those who sell music rights an opportunity to "terminate" grants after 35 years, provided they give proper notice between two and 10 years in advance.

Yale Prof Moves Class to Room Without Wi-Fi. Cue Outrage

TIME.com: A Yale lecture capped at 270 students? And no wireless Internet available? Dial up the anger on the New Haven, Conn., campus. After Alexander Nemerov moved his popular course Introduction to the History of Art: Renaissance to the Present from the Yale Law School auditorium that easily fit about 450 students to the more cramped Yale Art Gallery auditorium, he not only upset some students and alumni by capping the class size at 270 because of the smaller venue but also shocked some students who walked into a room devoid of wi-fi or cell service.

The Model Alliance Launches In New York

Styleite: This is the height of New York ridiculousness,” a tall filmmaker told us as we lingered at the bar, surrounded on all sides by the toweringly tall legs of models looking ahead to Fashion Week. He had a point: there we were, enveloped in a sea of 5’10″ size 2s at the Fashion Week-friendly Standard Hotel. The room, like the models, was long and skinny. There was no food, or beer even, only vodka — Smirnoff. This did not look like a labor rally. But that is, in effect, what it really was.

Kushner and Schumacher on Education

Theatre Ideas: Fifteen years ago, Tony Kushner delivered the keynote address to the assembled college theatre professors of the US at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) convention. His speech was printed in January 1998 in American Theatre magazine (back when they thought that opinion pieces had a place in their magazine, especially if they were provocative opinion pieces). I urge you to read the whole essay; I'm rereading it today.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


There must be a constructive way to up my posting frequency...  Breaking news, Romney wins Maine, nobody cares...  More than a week later and I am still wondering if I saw all of Sleep No More...  The Syrian President's password was really 1-2-3-4-5?  That ought to be on some kind of pre-test...  I wish Pinterest had a flood control...  Maybe birth control will bring us to the tipping point that gay marriage hasn't.  I just can't imagine the likely amount of hypocrisy on that particular topic...  Really I can't relate to the love of snow...  Why can't you subscribe to a lottery?  I'd to a $52 annual subscription...  Mrs. TANBI kicked over a rock just as we were dropping off the candidate...  My nephews are growing really fast...  Really liked the first episode of SMASH, which is good since as a CMU Drama alum it might sort of be required...  We got a new treadmill, I ought to use it...  A full two days after the end of CMU Playground my Frosh were still pretty much toast...  I've come to the realization that I am putting too much content into the ScenoFab class...  Whitney Houston is dead?  how sad...  The time of year Yinzers have to become hockey fans...  Are you watching House of Lies?  I'm trying to decide if I should stay with it...  This spring at work we're bringing in something on the order of 16 teaching applicants.  As it turns out that's something less than like 5% of the number that applied for just one of the gigs...  Did you know that a DirectTV DVR maxxes out at 50 shows?  Neither did I...  Mario Batali thinks the election is over and that Obama will win in a walkover.  I hope he's not too far off...  I watch a lot of TV...  The comment of the week thing is a nice addition to the Greenpage routine...  It's amazing to me just how different my picture of Chicago has become...  Any thoughts for vacation ideas in Denver in the Spring?  Now taking suggestions...  Rick Santorum?  Really?  Sometimes I just don't understand...  I have a PADI cart and summers off, maybe I should be a Bering Sea gold dredger...  That professional development list is only getting longer...If you know where we put the remote for the little DVD player, shoot me an email, thanks... 

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Worth a Look

Here are a few posts from the past two weeks of the Greenpage that might be worth your time...

After 320 years, Paris theatre's stage hands demand égalité

The Independent: The most prestigious theatre company in France, the Comédie Française, has been thrown into confusion over a 332-year-old pay agreement.
The classical theatre company has cancelled its published programme after backstage staff called an indefinite strike against a pay and bonus system which has been unchanged since 1680.

Ownership Mentality: Art Gallery Prohibits Sketching

Techdirt: I've always been a bit baffled by No Photography signs in museums and art galleries. Presumably they exist to make the exhibits more exclusive and attractive, but that misses the point of why people visit museums: they want to see these things in person, which is a vastly different experience from simply knowing what they look like. Nobody has ever seen a photo of a dinosaur skeleton or Michelangelo's David and thought "oh good, now I don't need to go see that for real."

10 Takeaways from TEDxBroadway

Ken Davenport - Opinions from a Broadway Producer: I had high expectations for the first ever TEDxBroadway, but we were blown away by the presentations given by our big-brained speakers. It was an exciting and inspiring day and all of us were so thankful to each and every presenter, and especially to each and every audience member who gave up a day's worth of work and $100 to focus on what Broadway could be in twenty years.

How Do We Identify Good Ideas?

Wired.com: I’ve always been fascinated by the failures of genius. Consider Bob Dylan. How did the same songwriter who produced Blood on the Tracks and Blonde on Blonde also conclude that Down in the Groove was worthy of release? Or what about Steve Jobs: What did he possibly see in the hockey puck mouse? How could Bono not realize that Spiderman was a disaster? And why have so many of my favorite novelists produced so many middling works?

Eiko Ishioka dies at 73

Variety: Eiko Ishioka, who earned an Oscar for the costumes in "Bram Stoker's Dracula," a Grammy for her design of Miles Davis' album "Tutu" and two Tony nominations for her work on "M. Butterfly," died of pancreatic cancer on Saturday in Tokyo. She was 73.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Whatcha Watchin?

The tablet and Netflix are a dangerous combination.  When we moved to the new house we made the decision to not have a TV in the master.  Somewhere I'd read that you sleep better if when you go to bed you go to sleep (other nocturnal activities not withstanding).  In any case, between the iPad, Slingbox, and Netflix - maybe throw in HBOGO and the TBS and TNT and various other channel apps; it's become fairly clear to me that one of the tablets major functions is television.

So I've been just pounding down TV series (and simultaneously really skewing the Netflix "you might like" engine).  I started with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.  Then I moved on to Sportsnight.  Next up was all of Red Dwarf.  How i missed Red Dwarf all those years ago escapes me.  

After that I went on a little X-Men cartoon binge, you can see those titles in the last post.  When I came to the end of the last X-Men series I had a real choice to make.  I was thinking about going through all the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episodes.  I really like that show.  I did watch the one where they sail the lightship to Cardassia, and then also the Tribble episode. I probably will surrender and watch the whole thing, but for the time being I put it off.

For what you ask?  Something even further into my past:

I decided to rewatch Star Trek, The Animated Series.  I remember watching these AGES ago.  Some things really strike me now.  First is that the voices are mostly the actors from the series.  Second is that the look and feel of the cartoon so closely matches the live action show.  The set up and transition shots of the Enterprise are nearly identical, and they've been very faithful to the design.  I even recognize the pattern of windows on the ship.  It's possible that the scoring is better for the cartoon.  I'll have to watch an original episode to be sure.  The one huge difference is their adoration for shots like the one above, with one character's face filling nearly the entire frame.  That'd look different with live actors.

Something else that's struck me is that the writing isn't dumbed down at all for the cartoon.  One of the first episodes dealt with wiping and restoring Spock to the timeline, fairly complex stuff for Saturday morning consumption.  I'm only halfway through season one and we've seen the Guardian of Forever, Tribbles, and the Shore Leave world as well as left the universe entirely for a story with witches and Satan.

Seem how I just don't think later generations got the same things out of The Smurfs.