Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Precollege 2012

Everyone asks what I am up to.  Mostly I am updating my office.  I moved everything out - doing a major purge in the process.  I threw away some things from more than 20 years ago that had gone from Pittsburgh, to Chicago to New Haven to Chicago to Las Vegas and back to Pittsburgh.  Anyway, moved everything out then we painted, the carpet is being replaced tomorrow.  I'm going to get some new shelving (still have to come up with a design).  I think there's a cabinet coming here from home, and then I'm eventually getting an electric convertible sitting/standing desk.  It's taken quite a bit of time.

What are the students doing in the meantime?  Here's this years schedule:

We're doing a fairly similar slate as prior years.  The biggest change this time around is that I've got a second class.  So I took over the Technical Production class Kevin had been teaching and switched him up to a more "sciency" class: Scenic Engineering.  I'm also teaching drafting again.

We continue to putz around with the stagecraft class.  I'd come to think that the content was becoming too fragmented so this year we tried yet another new format.  This time around we split the population into A and B groups, smaller groups make for better instruction in shop courses.  Each half group does six, four day modules: Paints, LX, Shop, Audio, Props, and Costumes.  Most of the instructors have converted over to a project mode taking the four day segment as sort of a broken up workshop.  We're not working on one of the fall shows this year.  It's still a goal for the program but we didn't manage it this time.

The Friday workshop thing continues to be pretty popular.  We're doing a fair number of repeats: marshmallow challenge, intelligent lighting, tie dye, stage blood, and applying to college (portfolio, interviewing, resumes).  There's one new workshop.  Kevin and I are going to take a shot at doing one day of Navigator training.  It's taking the place of the dinosaur workshop, so I hope it kicks ass.

We've got 12 kids this year; six male six female.  It's a good group.  I'm not sure what I did, but they appear to like me, who knew?  In a strange turn, left to their own devices they appear to be settling on calling me "Mr. Boevers."  Maybe I'm getting old.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Girl is Fine

This afternoon I heard a news story on the radio.  It was about a successfully concluded Amber Alert resulting from an arrest in Eastern Ohio.  The story ended "...the girl is fine."

The details of the story were that during an argument over custody arrangements the girl's father shot and killed the girl's mother and the mother's boyfriend.  He then took his daughter and ran from Western PA into Eastern Ohio before being aprehended.

I'd wager this girl isn't fine.

The choice of wording was a little jarring in real time.  I immediately thought that perhaps "unharmed" would have been a better word choice.  But then after a few seconds I decided even that is probably incorrect.  Just saying "alive" or "in the custody of..." seem too dour for what they were trying to say.  But filed under "keep it real" this kid's mother is dead, shot by her father who in all likelihood will be incarcerated for the next very long time.

Fine, uninjured, unharmed - probably not so much.  I do hope so someday, and soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Only Western Democracy

I've been getting a lot of quality NPR time of late.  Today I was listening to a show where they were discussing Pennsylvania's new voter ID law.  They had a guy on from the right and a guy on from the left.  It appeared to me that the moderator was fairly left of center.  The guy on the right was actually fairly interesting as he came off as sort of a benign academic shill for obvious party politics.  He kept giving dry, unpolitical analysis and explaining why this was a good idea why everyone on the phone or in the studio kept trying to goad him into admitting it was about cutting down democratic voting (it is clear this was the intent, regardless of the academic reasons for doing it; someone on the PA House floor said upon passage: "this will deliver the state of Pennsylvania to Governor Romney" or some other equally inappropriate comment).

It was fun to listen to both sides trying to prove a future hypothetical negative: "this will suppress turnout" - like you can prove who didn't vote that would have, and "this will reduce voter fraud" - like you can tell it was there in the first place.

"I was going to vote fraudulently but the new ID rules stopped me."

Right, like that will happen.  I you're motivated, you're motivated.

I have to admit to being a little worried about this.  I have two government issued IDs but neither of them has a current address.  I admit I don't know if this matters.  I have a little card the state sent me with my new address on it but it isn't a photo ID.  What about an expired ID?  The TSA won't let you use an expired ID to board a plane, as if after the expiration date it ceased to be your picture.  What potentially worse about the laws is the way they'll be used.  Who is the enforcement agent here?  The volunteer running the poll site?  How well are they trained?  How well are they supervised?  How well will individual voters know the laws?  There is absolutely nothing to stop people from spreading misinformation to try to influence the turnout.

I think the original intent, ages ago, would have been that the voting districts would have been small enough that the registrar of voters would recognize everyone by sight.

But this is all aside from my point.  My point is that at one point in the NPR segment the guy on the right said "We are the only Western Democracy without rigorous voter ID standards."

I was taken aback immediately.

The guy on the left argued that while they do have stiff regulations in many other countries, in those cases the actual process of getting the ID is less onerous than it would be here.  OK, but I think he missed the opportunity.

The real response is "are we allowing that as a reasonable defense for policy now?"

Since we're pretty much the only Western Democracy without...

manditory paid vacation...
reasonable gun ownership restrictions...
single payer health care...

If suddenly "We're the only Western Democracy without..." is a reasonable defense I might just fold on voter ID to get the other things.

But that's not the way the segment went.  Too bad for that.

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Drafting Project

After teaching Precollege drafting with manifestly the same assignments for a decade or so I decided to change it up some.  Used to be we did lineweight and layout and then constructions, follwed that up with orthographic projection and went from there to isometric and oblique.

I like the isometric and oblique project a lot.  Historically the students have not.  By the end they want to burn all of my figure blocks.  Also for the last couple times through that project has wound up being the last project.  We went from three days a week to two and as a result lost some assignment time.  The upshot is that they never get to scale, and never get to draft anything real.

So, I am changing it up.

This year following the orthographic projection assignment using the figure blocks we're doing a new assignment depicting a real world object in orthographic projection.  The object has to be large enough to also require that the drawing be done in something other than full scale.  For my example object I picked a bench:

Here are the instructions for the assignment:
The goal of this project is to continue familiarize you with the orthographic drawing format, and to introduce drawing scale.  You should continue to develop your lineweight, layout, & lettering.  There is an outline of the drawing on the back of this sheet, and one posted in the studio.

Go forth out into the world and find yourself an interesting (but perhaps somewhat simple) object of a size at least twice as big as our standard C-Sheet drawing.  Complete a top, front, and section view orthographic.  Dimension and label your drawing.

Drawing Components:
1.    Class border and titleblock.
2.    Select an object, and select one face and orientation as the front.
3.    Select an appropriate scale for your drawing.
4.    Using that figure and orientation draft a front, top, and right side view on your sheet in the proper orientation.  Remember to show hidden edges.
5.    In each view, dimension as appropriate.
6.    Label each of your views.

This assignment is due at the end of class on Wednesday, August 1st.  Please be prepared to present your work and discuss it at that time.

And here's the example drawing:
I think it'll make a nice bridge between the full scale mechanical drawing projects and actual theatre elevations.  This way we add scale and sections - two things I rarely used to talk about.

There's a couple of mistakes in that drafting.  Can you find them?

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Trying to up the publishing tempo...  Aparently getting naked at TSA checkpoints is protected free speech.  Still probably wind up in jail though...  Been watching "The Newsroom"?  Think it sucks?  Seems like most reviewers do...  Does seem to be particularly craven to prattle on about gun rights just now...  Only about a month until class, guess I ought to start getting ramped up...  Does it make sense that the US is behind so many other countries in paid vacation?  You'd think we could do better...  I should've done an ellipses post last week, when I had my students laying out ellipses...  California cities appear to be dropping like flies.  All well and good to negotiate contracts when things are flush.  Harder when things are tough...  Looking forward to seeing my sister and my nephews...  Of course the guns were banned under prior legislation and made available again under the last administration...  I was watching "Broadcast News" where Albert Brooks is painfully pleading with Holly Hunter and thinking "wow I am so glad to be married"...  While we're not looking, Congress is trying to walk back regulations previously enacted.  Pay attention...  Seems like I missed most of season two of "Ironman Armored Adventures"...  Once again, while trying to fix a structural budget issue the GOP is meddling around with the decorations: NEA, PBS...  Today, Mrs. TANBI and I managed to wash four cats...  People keep saying government can't create jobs.  I wonder why it isn't more like when someone opens a new business, all the knock on jobs and spending.  Seems simple to me: hire more people and they can spend money, lay them off and they drop out of the economy....  Remodeling, well refurbishing my office at work.  Looks like I am moving out...  Got me some freelance work.  Nice to be in the big leagues again...  Trying to come up with business cards for everyone who graduated from PTM since it's been PTM.  Not sure what I mean to do with them...  I'm not saying that the Pittsburgh Mills Mall is sleepy, but apparently the other day a bear wandered into the Sears...  Why do you think standing desks are so expensive?  I wouldn't have thought they would be...  Amazon Prime is looking better and better, free shipping, streaming media, and share with family.  Got to give it a closer look...  Regardless of what Kobe says, I'm with Micheal and Magic...  Do you read this thing?  What should I write about?  I seem to be running low on ideas...

Friday, July 20, 2012

I'm Famous

TED Marshmallow Challenge Gets Upscaled - It is Alive in the Lab: People often say "Bigger is better." Here is an example. I first blogged about Autodesk Fellow, Tom Wujec's, marshmallow challenge in October of 2010.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Yes We Can

The other day Mrs. TANBI and I got to attend an Obama campaign event.  They did the thing on the CFA lawn on campus and faculty and alumni could get tickets.  It seemed like it was going to be difficult to get in, but in the end I think there was plenty of space.

The tickets said noon, but the email from the school said 11:30 and we didn't want to be too far back.  We left for campus on foot at 10:50.  At that moment the President was live on CNN in Poland Ohio.  We should have taken the hint.

When we got to campus we lined up for security by the back door to Skibo and then went through a line all the way across the face of the UC and across to Purnell.  They had magnetometers and hand search for everyone before you could get in.  Really this part didn't take too long at all and we were probably standing in place waiting on the event by 12:10.

I'd originally thought the event was at noon.  I was wrong.  We got there in plenty of time, but then we waited through the heat of the day until around 2:15 for the speech.  For the first part of the wait we amused ourselves spotting the spotters.

Truth be told I think those folks were there for us to see (ok, maybe not that last guy).  I kept wondering where the agents I couldn't see were.

After a while they filled some.  There was an opening prayer, and then a song from a CMU student.  We heard a short speech from the Obama/Biden campaign coordinator for the region.  After that we got to see Franco Harris.

He probably could have talked a lot longer than he did.  Around this point Mrs. TANBI started to see tweets saying the President was in the area - actually that he had stopped for cookies.

Eventually we started to see young men with severe haircuts and ear pieces in the crowd and then in a moment Senator Casey was doing an intro and then there he was.

It turned out the speech was mostly the say as I'd heard on the TV that morning when he was in Ohio.  I guess on West Wing they would have called it "modified stump."  There was a lot of common material punctuated with the occasional "like they're doing right here at Carnegie Mellon."  He did start out with some talk about baseball, what with the Pirates and the White Sox both leading their divisions.

It was a decent speech after a very long wait on a very, very hot, sunny day.  The organizers did a good job.  They had bottle after bottle of water and people with sprayers watering down the crowd.  Even with all that we did see many people overcome by the heat (or maybe the anticipation).

I'm glad we went.  I even got a somewhat ephemeral souvenir.