Thursday, July 31, 2014

200 Part Lot

The other night I was looking for Lego baseplates on Amazon.  The airport is outgrowing its footprint and so I thought maybe I would spend a little money to get us some more square footage.  What did I discover?  It turns out that baseplates are really expensive, like $8-9/each.  I would have thought maybe a third of that.  Also it seems like many of the plates I have were at some point discontinued and so getting matching baseplates requires purchasing what is essentially a collectors item.  I saw one lot where the parts were like $40/each.

Too rich for my blood.

While looking for these I kept coming across bulk Lego items.  Lego has some official sets (also fairly steep) and then there are third party sellers dealing bricks by count or weight.

I have a floating purchase max for this sideline activity, meaning when I do buy new sets I don't like to spend more than $19.  Something about exceeding $20 causes the nature of the purchase to mean rather more and I want this to all be casual.  The ceiling ruled out most of the bulk sets, but I did see one that was 200 random pieces for $9.00.

Most of the sets I look at in the $19 neighborhood are also in the 200 piece neighborhood.  So on its face this could be a decent deal.

I read the reviews and they were mixed.  The negative reviews fell into two camps: the first is that 200 pieces really isn't a lot of pieces.  This isn't a surprise to me.  The second flavor of complaint was that the piece selection was such that you couldn't build anything from the set.  This wouldn't much matter to me as I am just looking for bricks.  Part of that second group was also that some of the parts were pretty esoteric, to the point of having part of a multicomponent piece - like half a hinge.  This was a little alarming, but I decided to overlook it.

I mean 200 parts for $9.00, how bad could it be?

So here's what we got:

The upper left are what I call "specials."  Those pieces are either for a specific task or for detailing.  The 200 piece set was probably 100 parts specials.  I don't mind that.  Sometimes you buy an entire set just to get one special part and there were many in here that I didn't have yet.  Most notably in the "new to me" category were 2@2x3x1 slanted pieces with McDonald's Grimace screen-printed on them - you can see one up front there.  Once upon a time there must have been some promotional McDonald's Lego sets.  Not sure what to do with one of those, let alone two.

There were only 2 minifig related parts.  That was a little disappointing.  I had hoped for more than that.

Of the remaining parts there was a trend toward the odd.  In total I think there were 7 2x4x1 basic bricks.  There were some parts in there that I didn't have, and certainly some colors I didn't have (you can see under my current regime that green is blue and orange is yellow).

It was fairly easy to appreciate the "you can't really make anything" school of thought.  But like I said,  I was just expanding inventory, so that wasn't so much of a concern for me.

In the end, the only buyer's remorse I have is that the item wasn't prime qualified which meant I had to pay shipping and that the $9 set was actually a $15 set FOB my mailbox.  That $6 different is enough to tip it over and make me decide that this isn't the buy it seemed like it might be.  For it to be worth doing again either the nature of the pieces would have to be a little different or the shipping would have to be free.

Still, I got a treasure chest piece.  Didn't have one of those.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


All of a sudden, activity at the tumblr:

This was the post:

Who knew?

Couldn't Resist

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Since I did two posts yesterday can't I take today off?  No...  Did my "Don't shit on other people" lecture today.  I don't think it had the traction it did last time.  In other news, my resume is out of date again...  Got a new work keyboard because the existing one had no C's left.  That would mean a lot of students getting D's so we replaced it...  My brother-in-law came this weekend to get their stuff we've been storing, that and a round of purging and WOW is there a lot of room in my basement.  P.S. I need to apologize to the weekend crew at the East Liberty Goodwill...  This Ebola thing is really starting to nag at the edges of my attention.  I hope people that can actually DO SOMETHING are in fact doing it rather than just having it nag at the edges of their attention...  With about 75 television screens, expecting the baby to doze while we enjoy our BW3 wings may have been optimistic...  School starts a month from today.  Where did the time go?  Guess I should start gearing up for the year proper again...  I finally watched the last Primeval New World I'd been holding onto on the DVR.  Yet another decent show cut down before it really got it's feet under it...  Can you believe there's a football game on TV this weekend?  I guess it is time to finish the home theatre project...  Today I told the kids I am on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest among other things.  Still no connect requests...  I've quietly been acquiring some serious tools over the last month or two.  Guess I out to actually make something soon...  Looks like I am making a California swing in October.  Looking more and more like it will just be me...  I complained about my bank's website on Twitter and they have now called me four times to try to change my mind.  Who knew Twitter's killer app would be consumer complaints?  Not me...  We went to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  It is a sad movie.  Well done, but sad...  Finished Broken Angels, now moving on to Saturn's Children.  I've lost count, but it's something like 10 books this summer. I'll have to check...  Yes.  You have to put the references on your resume...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Vote For Comment of the Week

Voting closes Thursday noon...

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "How To Build a Life-Size Dragon":

First off, this dragon is beautiful, impressive and overall amazing. As someone who sculpts, I would love to be involved in a project like this some day. I think the process of making this dragon shows the importance of a thoughtful process when undertaking a project. They started in small scale, then made a digital version. By starting with a prototype out of similar material, or at least material that will be sculpted in a similar way, they were able to get an accurate idea of the aesthetic potentially better than they could have if they had used a computer to generate the original model. They then put serious thought into various materials, rather than just going with what people typically use. By working with cubes that could be removed and replaced, they increased their margin for error, which is vital for a project where mistakes are inevitable. I could go on about how detail oriented, careful, and calculated their process was, but I would be naming almost everything they did. When you approach a project, you need to plan thoroughly and be able to find and correct mistakes. When I look at this article, it is clear to me that this piece is as much a result of impressive organization and planning skills as sculpture. After all, when Ippolito talks about how he built the dragon, he talks about the planning, not the sculptural techniques. What these artists do can be applied to any task to improve the quality of the end product and often increase efficiency. 
Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "Tina Fey's Mean Girls Had The Most Women on a Crew...":
What I find interesting about this study is the fact that the root of this problem is gender stereo-typing. While society has progressed significantly, it is hard to un-train our minds into not associating certain jobs with certain people. Typically, it is assumed men like action movies more so then women. This assumption carries over into who gets hired to work these movies. The mentality is you want to hire someone who is interested and invested in the job they are doing. However, it is unfair to assume that a woman is uninterested in working these jobs because she is a woman.

On a broader spectrum, the same goes for all forms of entertainment. Women have been given an image that is hard to stray away from when media portrays it so often. Supposedly, all women like romantic comedies, they like dresses, they like wearing makeup, the list goes on. Just like supposedly all men like action movies, sports, and doing hands on jobs.

While changing the ideas of society is not something that will happen overnight, the change can occur. It can start in a field like the entertainment industry which has always been known to break boundaries. Showing this change can only be determined by starting a dialog and watching the awareness and growth that follows.
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "5 Reasons Why Walt Disney World Represents the Fut...":
Disney and Broadway share a common goal: to entertain. It only makes sense that there are many theatrical elements in Disney theme parks because live performance is a way to entertain. Disney also uses short films, sculptures, and many other art forms throughout their theme parks. It is what works for their audience, and what gets their message across. That being said I just don’t agree that Disney is what American Theatre’s should be following. Mainly because the audience’s of plays and musicals are looking for a different experience. They want a comedy or drama they can invest themselves in, a show they can be engrossed in for 2 hours, not 20 minutes. They want humans they can identify with on a personal level, with no robots in the cast. They want a story that took time to construct, not something submitted by an audience member. While Disney is undisputedly successful in its ways of performance, their success came from recognition of what their audience wanted from them. And theatres across the country should do the same.
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "Inspired by ‘Sleep No More,’ More New York Bars Of...":
I've personally never been a fan of proscenium theatre. In smaller spaces it gets a little better, but there's nothing I despise more than working in a giant auditorium where you have to squint to get a sense of anything going on onstage. I'm a firm believer in immersive theatrical experiences-- ditch the opera glasses! Get onstage with the actors! Don't just sit there in your box seat, do something!! "The audience is the sixth character in the play."

However, due to the fact that I do most of my work in a high school theater, I don't have much variance in the format of the shows I work on. And due to the fact that I'm a teenager living in the suburbs with a curfew of nightfall, I don't often get to experience any works of devised theatre. Thus, it's always a joy to read articles such as this one, just to get a sense of what I'm missing.

Play/Date sounds awesome. From what I can see, it sounds like a perfectly normal nightclub experience, except in this case, you're encouraged to eavesdrop. What a brilliant idea! It's a raw and natural human desire to know exactly what is going on in the lives of others. This show allows the audience to completely indulge themselves as they're given a perfectly ordinary scenario with the freedom to act on their guilty pleasures. Play/Date is an excellent study in voyeurism.

I was also happy to read about the new forms of presenting Shakespeare. I'm actually not that preoccupied with the fact that Shakespeare's plays were originally meant for the rowdy working class; art can adapt to the society it finds itself in, and I see no problem with Shakespeare becoming a thing of highbrow academics. But for reasons of my own personal enjoyment, Drunk Shakespeare sounds awesome. As an avid fan of the Bard, I definitely enjoy studying his works seriously in an academic setting, but most of my Shakespearean love stems from the interactions I get with my like-minded peers. There's nothing better than swapping theories and joking with kids who have also read Hamlet religiously. So to me, Drunk Shakespeare is exciting less because of returning to Shakespearean roots, and more because of my own relationship with Shakespeare's works.

Altogether, this article was a great read and I'm thrilled with all the changes theatre is going through.
Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "Kurt Cobain Musical Theater Production 'Very Likel...":
If you ask any given white girl, they will tell you that Kurt Cobain never dies in their hearts. But, in reality, Kurt Cobain is totally dead. So it should come as no surprise that people want to resurrect him, and why not resurrect him through a musical? Nirvana is a solid band that arguably kicked off an entire movement (punk in the mainstream), but the punk musical has already been done. American Idiot and Spring Awakening come to mind. So then why make a Cobain musical, one might be asking themselves at a time like this. Is a seminal artist's passing really a decent reason to immortalize them in a musical? At the moment, we don't have a definitive answer, but the closest thing to one we do is Holler if ya hear me, the ill-fated musical based around the life of Tupac Shakur. Now, this musical crashed and burned almost instantly. Fame and infamy are themes Broadway grapples with constantly, but another dead star might just not be the best vehicle to drive down that street this time. I bet this comment smells like teen spirit.

Oh No! I'm a Bot

Do you think this is how Tigh felt when he found out he was a Cylon?

Not 48 hours after setting up my Blogger>RSS>IFTTT>Buffer>Twitter thing it all fell apart.  Twitter decided I was a bot since all my posts were links and I wasn't following anyone (you think they might cut me some slack as at that moment I was only tweeting to seven people).

Of course I didn't know it was Twitter that was the problem.  Their email saying they'd frozen the account got swept up  in a spam folder.  So naturally I spent a while making sure I hadn't screwed things up somewhere along the chain.  I had a nice twitter exchange with someone at Buffer.  I deleted and re-wrote the IFTTT recipe.  Eventually I looked at my old email spam (I had to tie the new twitter to an old email) and found the freeze notice.

Update password and we're off and running again.  At least until the next SNAFU.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Worth a Look

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

Proof That Your Moonlighting Gigs Can Earn You More Than Just Extra Cash

Fast Company | Business + Innovation: I am on a quest to stay passionate and productive in my day job.
By day I am a business consultant, but by night--not to mention during the wee hours of the morning and on weekends--I become a freelance writer, yoga teacher, and photographer.
On my journey I have met a number of inquisitors who ask why I toil away the hours before and after work to master crafts that are seemingly unrelated to my day job.
For instance, I work in consulting, so my pursuit of an MBA was embraced, even enthusiastically promoted to clients by my colleagues. But the mere mention of my other jobs provokes an inquisition of epic proportions.
Here are four lessons I’ve learned from moonlighting that may inspire you to render your own lessons from a side gig

Sign Painters: book and documentary

Boing Boing: Sign Painters looks to be a fascinating book and documentary about the traditional art and craft of hand-drawn signage that is being lost to digital prints and die-cut vinyl. The film is playing at venues around the US right now, including this Sunday (7/27) at the Webb Gallery in Waxahachie, Texas!

Beach Books for Museum and Design Folks (Summer 2014 Edition)

ExhibiTricks: The Museum Exhibit Design Blog: Since I'm not a "beach person" if I end up in a hot, sandy spot I try to make sure I'm under a big, shady umbrella with a book in my hands.
With that in mind, here's a list of books you might like to peruse, on (or off) the beach.

Craftsman Tools In Retrospect – A 50 Year Comparison

Tools In Action - Power Tools and Gear: Part of growing up is listening to your parents and grandparents gripe about how expensive everything is now. They’ll tell you how in their day, prices were reasonable, people were honest, and the world was a lot better off as a whole. Now, I’ve lived my life up to this point believing this view of yesteryear to be true, but as I started taking a fact based look at it, I discovered that at least part of that utopian recollection may be somewhat debatable.

The Broadway actors who’ve played the same roles for over 10 years

New York Post: The first time Donna Marie Asbury stepped onstage in “Chicago” crying, “He ran into my knife — 10 times!” her daughter was in diapers.
That was 16 years ago. Daughter Jacqueline, 18, heads to college in August, but Asbury’s still playing a character named June. Along the way — over the course of more than 6,600 shows — she’s seen 20 Velma Kellys, 26 Roxie Harts and 38 Billy Flynns come and go. That she’s still here, sharing a small dressing room with four other, less seasoned “merry murderesses,” surprises even herself.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Jetway Test

It's got potential...

Friday, July 25, 2014


Now is the time at TANBI when we shave the cats...

Freya decided to be conservative:

Bra'tac went for the full Brazilian:

And we apparently charged their lasers too.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Airport Expansion

The airport expansion continues.  This time mostly with support vehicles.  My playdate was very motivated to keep working as he's off to camp soon and won't be able to contribute for a while as a result.

So here's the current overview:

One of the first adds was a fuel truck.  I'd done one before, but I am happier with this one.  It looks less like a cement truck than its predecessor.  It's minifig scale - has doors, which is unusual for me, and hoses that can be manipulated.

Next up is a passenger staircase.  I keep running into this problem where to accommodate the minifigs takes only two spaces, but that representation isn't really something that would work.  So this time I went two wide but worked in some handrails out to the side.  If I'd built out the handrails with bricks I think the passenger aisle would have had to be four wide and then the thing becomes six wide and starts to look out of proportion.

Upon further consideration I decided that this unit was too tall in relationship to the plane (which admittedly is in a completely different scale - although more and more to me is believable as an executive jet - but that would mean the control tower is way too short).  So I dropped it down one course.  That necessitated re-jiggering the diagonal rails, fwiw I like this better.  I also added a safety chain to the front.

That's fuel and people, next we did luggage.  First was the baggage loader.  It has a ramp that raises and lowers.  It also has a data screen and a control lever.  I went to old school wheels here.  For some reason I thought it mattered.  Maybe I was concerned about the height of the deck using the standard wheels.  Anyway, I think it's a nice piece for what it is.

Then as you can already see we did a baggage tram.  It's a tractor and then three, two level carts with all flexible connections between them.  I think this was really successful.  It even rolls around like an actual tram when cornering.  If anything here I found myself wishing there was a two wheel axle component that was only two studs wide instead of four.  I've since discovered there actually are those pieces but I didn't have them at the time (and probably have IBI now).

What's next you say?  There's still catering and maybe de-icing vehicles to do (and if my playdate has anything to say about it probably police and fire).  Also I am starting to see a terminal building and jetway in my head.  Just have to wait for the next visit I guess.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


And just like that it's 11:30 again.  This "post-a-day-July" is tough...  The country really must do something on the capital punishment front.  These botched episodes are just not acceptable...  Yesterday I was disappointed with what I could do with IFTTT.  Today I found a work-around and I am happy again.  Also, the News From the Real World page now tweets ay @NFTRW_Feed...  Not sure how you fight a war on a postage stamp and not involve civilians...  It's always a surprise to discover there's more precollege gone than there is left to go...  All the hemming and hawing over Kevin Love is making me think there's some kind of soft collusion involved...  Today I was expecting a package from Amazon: some clamps.  I got a package from Amazon: a volleyball set.  I didn't order a volleyball set...  Be nice if the next time other countries are railing about how we're the problem if they'd remember we weere just about the only ones trying to get someplace in Gaza...  The MSNBC Roku feed has really been less than lately...  Haven't been watching this season of "True Blood."  Should I?  I think we watched the first episode and waffled...  Mrs. TANBI asked me to make an extension for our dining room table.  I'm taking this opportunity to expand my tool inventory...  The Lego airport project has undergone two expansion phases, adding mostly support vehicles.  New post coming soon...  I finished "Boss."  There's no season three.  I wish there was.  It's a great show...  Melissa just announced two new dates.  Neither in Pittsburgh...  The layout project which was supposed to take one day took three.  Now I don't know what to do in Tech Production class...  None of the prekies have tried to friend me on Facebook yet this summer.  I guess that's a sort of paradigm change that's been propagating up through the student classes...  We had a home project we thought was going to be done in mid-July.  Now looking more like mid-August...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Sometimes things work out well.  Sometimes.

As one of my four readers you may be aware that I run another blog: News From the Real World.  That blog aggregates articles I think are relevant for my students.  This is the source material for the "Worth a Look" and "Vote for Comment of the Week" posts on this page.

There are two main streams for the content on that page.  One of the is the "ToDo/Alerts" folder in my email.  Through a bunch of Outlook rules that folder gathers a bunch of industry content and I winnow that for Greenpage (my shorthand for News From the Real World) content.  The other stream are articles I tag "Greenpage" in my RSS feed.  I have lost track of how many feeds I am subscribed to and which of them are pretty much exclusively for Greenpage content generation.  Anyway, articles pile up under that tag and then I winnow those into Greenpage articles.

In my present operation of 12 posts per day, 6 days per week I generally post 6 articles sourced from my RSS tag.  A quick scan of the tag shows 26 articles tagged today.  That means 20 articles that I initially thought were relevant don't make the final cut.  Often it's editorial balance that makes the difference - I just don't like the way the 12 daily posts are forming up.  Sometimes it is just volume.  If I posted everything it would be overwhelming for the students.  Sometimes I think even the 60 posts per week is overwhelming.

Back in the golden days of Google Reader (may it rest in peace) the software gave me an interesting sideline.  Tagged articles in Reader could themselves get RSS feeds.  That allowed me to have a link on the Greenpage to what I called the "Greenpage Feeder Page."  If people were so interested and wanted to see the remaining tagged articles that didn't make the 6 that got to the Greenpage each day they could check out the Feeder Page and see all of the articles.

Unfortunately that functionality was lost with the loss of that specific RSS reader.  I switched over to Feedly Reader and my process didn't change at all.  I still tag articles "Greenpage" and then select a couple of articles each day to promote to the Greenpage proper.  I could see the full list but the opportunity for readers to get access to the full tag volume wasn't available.

Until I got around to fixing that today.  Introducing the "Greenpage Source Page."

While I have been griping about this loss of functionality I have been peripherally aware of a service called If This Then That: IFTTT.  In broad terms this is a service that lets you link other internet services.  Looking through the available "recipes" I found one already written to generate a blogger post each time a Feedly article was tagged with a specific tag.  So I started a new blog, set up the IFTTT recipe and presto: new outside "Greenpage" tag access.

I need to work on some formatting issues.  Part of me thinks it will never look polished, but that is sort of in the "backstage" spirit of the thing anyway.  If you have the time and inclination you should check it out.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Vote for Comment of the Week

Voting closes Thursday noon.

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "Childhood Ruined: Disney Character's Face Falls Of...":

This is undoubtably the funniest thing I've seen all day. Literally every single element of this video has been engineered to bring me joy.

Let's begin with the setting: a summer late afternoon, long shadows and bright blue sky. Just from looking at the very first frame, one slips into character. I can just feel the fatigue of having a fun day at the amusement park, and the excitement of being able to finish off this perfect day with a performance from my favorite superheroes. The anticipation is high from the beginning.

I'd also like to take a moment to address the use of props. The MC wields a single laptop that looks suspiciously like a Macbook with an Incredibles sticker on it.

And who is the MC, anyway? Is he some obscure figure from the movie that I've overlooked? Is his an original character, engendered specifically for the purposes of this performance? He has an aura of mystery and I'm dying to know more.

Next, the reveal. Elastigirl herself enters, stage left. Watching this video for the first time, I must admit to emitting an audible gasp. Everything about the actress was perfect: her slender yet curvaceous body, her lithe gate, the modest wave. And, of course, the mask. The flawlessly iconic mask.

The incident. The fateful trip. The mask comes crashing to the ground, and with it falls the hopes and childish dreams of the audience. The icon has fallen, our Madonna. The illusion, perfectly crafted up to this point, has been violently shattered by a few missteps. The first time around, I completely missed the rest of the video because I was laughing so hard.

And finally, the aftermath. I'd like the bring up the MC again: he was a champ. After rewinding and watching the video for the second time, I followed with bated breath the journey he took, from the initial "Oh no" to his faltering words as his attention is consumed by our fallen angel Elastigirl.

As her bald pate was revealed to the viewers, I lost it. I was left with a plethora of questions: Why was the back of her head bare? Why just that part? Was it always like that, did they just have her never turn her back to the audience? Or maybe it was ripped off in the Mask Incident? Maybe we'll never know.

Altogether, a hilarious end to an otherwise bland afternoon. Thank you,, for posting this tidbit of happiness.

Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "Church Sound: What Four Wireless Mistakes Are You ...":
Being the sound designer at my high school, I can say that I've experienced the problems described in this article. Our high school was built in the 1960’s by architects with limited acoustic experience and no idea of where technology would be in 50 years. This means I am constantly fighting with feedback. There is little to no absorption of the sound waves. All of the exterior walls are solid concrete making it very hard to avoid feedback problems. I can't begin to count the number of times actor will go on stage to find that there mic isn't on, it makes me livid! No matter how many times I ask them to LEAVE THEM ON! Somehow they still get shut off. The microphone asst. (who should also be monitoring the battery level) is forced to run back and forth to turn mics on. As for channel assignments, I've developed a fairly good method to keeping them organized during a show. The only part which gets challenging is when actors decide to change their mics during the show, and I end up pulling the wrong slider during the performance. The combined challenges of a high school with a bad PA system and actors that love to make life difficult makes it hard for me, , but I do the best I can with the technology I have. 
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "Are you a Millennial leader?":
Millennials aren’t a new, super genius species. The new generation simply had more time to grow as technology developed, slowly working out the functions of newer technologies as they grew and developed themselves. Just as children from the 80’s understood more about rock and roll than their parents, Generation Y understands more about technology largely due to popular culture and exposure. Changing leadership techniques in the workplace may not necessarily be the most beneficial to the millennials, but incorporating technology would probably work the best to keep them invested and diligent. Being exceptional at manipulating technology will help work processes increase drastically in productivity and efficiency, as long as the workforce remains invested. Motivation is a significant factor, however it is no more important than the motivation required for the effectiveness of any other generation. The claim that Generation Y holds more divergent thinkers is a stretch, though not entirely implausible. Simpler ways to communicate and discover have materialized, and at the swipe of a finger anyone can go from deserts to icebergs in a 10th of a second. With more versatile exploration comes more versatile ways of thinking, which will hopefully bode well for millennial leaders in the future.
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "Fear of audience participation":
Interactive theatre has always intrigued me because of the thin line between “fun” and “mortifying” that it frequently dances on. When I was young, my parents would take me to children’s performances from time to time and they frequently required someone to come onstage with an actor. As a more timid child, I never raised my hand, I never jumped up and shouted “Me! Me! Me!” and that was all just fine by me. One night, my parents took me to a performance of “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.” For the life of me I can’t even remember the context of why they needed a volunteer, but sure enough, they asked for one. However, tonight was different. There was no jumping or yelling from the other kids, and I remember sitting in a front row seat, right in front of the lead actor. Cringing, I felt a dozen eyes shift to me, and then I watched, horrified, as the lead came up to me and led me to the stage. My “job” as a volunteer was to dance to some music with him and a couple of the other actors, and I did, but after that I refused to go to the theatre with my parents again. Looking back on it, it’s silly how mortified I was, but thinking about if that happened now, I can still completely agree with the testimonials in the article, as I would be just as embarrassed as I was as a child. 
Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "How to Handle Social-Media Criticism":
Social media has both its positive sides and its negative sides. I worked as a digital media intern for a top 40’s radio station in Boston (#10 market) for a year and did a lot of social media management so I do have some experience in this field. There are only so many things you can do in a situation such as this. Obviously, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. If it is strictly an opinion statement, I say leave it be. If it is personal attack or you have determined that it warrants a response, the tips in this article are perfect guidelines. It is extremely important to stay professional in all responses and even posts, especially when posting for a business or group. As an individual it is ok to get a little more creative but you must remember to be respectful. Most of all you must remember that usually these arguments are not worth your time and you should choose your battles very carefully. Getting into worthless arguments online is not a help to you as a person you’re the company you may be working for. You have to remember that criticism is a part of life and as long as it is not a personal attack you should almost always just let it go.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Worth A Look

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

Debt Sentence

American Theatre – July 2014: Freddy Arsenault is living the dream. He’s appeared on Broadway; his nonprofit credits include shows at the San Diego’s Old Globe, Virginia’s American Shakespeare Center and Manhattan Theatre Club. But he is also $165,000 in debt, a holdover from having to borrow to attend the graduate acting program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Over iced tea in midtown Manhattan in April, Arsenault recalls receiving his first bill from Citibank, his private loan lender, shortly after graduation. “I owed about $1,200 that month. I panicked. I went into a cold sweat. I started thinking, ‘How am I going to maintain a career like this?’”

Leah Buechley: Crafting the Lilypad Arduino

MAKE: I’ll never forget the first time I heard about Lilypad Arduino. I was astounded and said, “You can make LEDs light up and you stitch it with conductive thread? How does that work?” It wasn’t until years later, after experimenting with the board that I finally got to meet Leah Buechley, the inventor. She was giving a talk at University of the Arts in Philadelphia about artisanal technologies. She amazed me with her discussion of mixing classic crafts with electronics, and better yet, it was said in a lyrical tone which reminded me of my favorite teacher from 8th grade. Who was this woman that made art and technology magically merge? I was determined to learn more.

The Problem with Booth Babes: How ‘Casual Sexism’ Hurts the AV Industry Those of you who follow me on Twitter might have seen a hashtag I use frequently: #AVHallOfShame. It's one I use for the cringe-worthy AV moments: sloppy wiring; soundbars in places from which sound can't possibly carry to viewers; badly-sized or badly-placed displays; etc. This week I tagged Purelink's booth at Infocomm with the #AVHallOfShame hashtag. What was my issue this time? Take a look at the image to the right, from their marketing email.

Fear of audience participation The explosion of participatory theater — or at least my seeming inability lately to attend a show that does not include some degree of audience interaction — has set my skin in permanent rash mode.
I suspect that I am not alone out here, equating the theater with hives these days. The situation has become so anxiety-inducing that I have turned jittery and become ever vigilant — even as I write this in an office cubicle, I half-expect a cheerful actor waiting around the corner, eager to steer me by the elbow toward a stage.

An Open Letter to TV Showrunners: There Are Over 1200 Experienced, Accomplished Women Directors Waiting to Be Hired

Women and Hollywood: I have known many of you over the years as colleagues, bosses and friends. I know you to be a group of professionals with the highest work ethic and a mindful approach to your families and the issues you find socially relevant. So I can't help but wonder, where is your social consciousness about gender equity in Hollywood?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rainy Saturday

I'm not sure why, but for some reason today I couldn't put off the urge to finish the control tower I started yesterday.  At first I was telling myself that I thought it would take longer to build than I would have on the next playdate.  But a little bit I think maybe I just wanted to do it myself.

I had an idea of the geometry in my head while building the cap yesterday.  What I really wanted to do was based on an octagonal plan, but that shape and lego bricks don't really get along, at least not with the pieces I have.  So it was going to be a rectilinear base, tapering in and then out.  Most importantly it was going to have to be tall, sufficiently so as to appear to be close in scale to the plane we built last time.

Speaking of "pieces I have"...  I'm not really part of the adult brick builder community but I would lay dollars to donuts that they have slang for not having enough pieces.  Today I settled on "IBI" for insufficient brick inventory.  The number of times during this process I had to compromise or improvise to be able to work within my collection was pretty depressing.  The inside of the tower is covered with slants and reverse slants used to stretch the numbers.  As far as this model is concerned the only face that mattered was the outside, so this seemed like a reasonable fix.  I'm not sure if the observation floor at the top was about design or inventory.  But I am sure that the clear brick at the bottom of the yellow window was about not having enough pieces - I mean IBI.

Anyway, appears to have come out alright in spite of the issues:

I had to change to blue from black: IBI, same with the red windows.  Gonna be a lot of outflowing cash should I desire to resolve that issue at some time.  I didn't taper in as far as I had intended, but looking at the finished piece I think if I had come in another row it would have started to look frail.  I didn't quite get the feel of the curve I was going for.  To do so I think the middle section would have had to have been 2-3 times the height of the preceding section (rather than 1/3 as is).

Once more, without being able to identify whether the cause was design intent, IBI, or boredom I decided to put an "observation deck" directly below the control room:

The thought was something about a staircase in the core.  Looking at the implementation of the struts it occurred to me that they could have been an interesting feature at each footprint change.  I think I have the struts but I am not sure the additional height would help the overall composition.

What with the hodgepodge of colors and all the compromises in the end the most successful potion of the model might be the interior; which was actually somewhat of a throw away:

 I guess if you are going to try to work in minifig scale you might as well make the most of it.  There are four controller positions with panels and monitors as well as swivel chairs.  Those guys are working under the supervision of a fifth guy.  The top of the structure folds away to give play access to the figures, but my fingers are too fat to enjoy it much.  Thinking about it, there is a sort of ongoing conceptual "dollhouse" issue to these models - a choice between concentrating on the interior or the exterior and the ramifications and compromises necessitated by that choice.

So, we have a plane and a tower and I have a playdate tomorrow.  What's next?  Fuel truck?  Baggage train and loader cart?  Catering Truck?  Terminal?  De-icing station?  My friend likes trucks.  So I guess that's where the smart money is.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Substitute Project

I didn't do the table from yesterday.  I'm still not happy with the solution to the undercarriage and I thought I probably didn't have the time I needed.  Maybe I'll get into it next week.  Did you see the problem on the drawing?  In order for the parallel to fold flat the end hinges must be in the same position.  With the telescoping sides the ends would be offset by 3/4" on each side and that offset would mean an interference that wouldn't let the part fold.  I'll have to percolate on that one for a while.

The reason to do the table was because we were having Friday night dinner at our house.  Instead we made due with our regular solution.

The Friday night cohort includes my Lego Playdate and the instant he came in the door he was angling to do a control tower to go with the airplane we did last time.  So instead of doing a table I got a start on a minifig scale control tower...

It is interesting to me the amount of composition that is dictated by the number of boxes we take out.  Tonight I wanted to keep the thing contained a little, so besides the people and the "specials" I only took out the box of black pieces.  Therefore the control tower will be black.  In hindsight this seems like a poor choice for a control tower as night time visibility will be an issue.  Good thing it's just a model.

Ran out of a lot of pieces here: yellow fences, black 1x1x1's, gray hinges, yellow flats, yellow windows, gray computers.  It's a wonder anything ever gets built in less than a hodgepodge.  I kept thinking during the project - and now is where we get to the unfortunate compromise portion of the project.  FWIW my playdate doesn't seem to understand what my fixation with matching is all about.  Maybe I'm trying too hard.

So I guess we're set up for the next session: build the tower.  I'll get right on that.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

This Is Tomorrow's Project

Wish me luck...

Now gotta go find a doweling jig.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Baby Light Show

I don't know why this hadn't occurred to me yet, but this:

This by the way is a turtle nightlight that projects stars on the ceiling.

Plus this:

This is your b-flat oscillating fan.

Gets you this:

Now I just have to figure out if this will be more effective at keeping him up or getting him to sleep.

As a side note, the video is like the hardest thing I have tried to film, just too dark.  Have to come up with something better.  But this will have to do for now.


I thought I had a cool post for today, but when I looked at the video I'd shot the whole frame was black.  Maybe next time...  I really do have trouble making that midnight deadline...  Saw earlier that California is going to have a ballot initiative over splitting into six states.  I think I should be against it, but really I think it makes sense...  Several times during class today I would explain something and then ask them to think of an even stupider way to accomplish the same thing.  Maybe that's backwards...  Can't decide if Planet of the Apes is worth a sitter...  I had this side job which was resulting in daily emails right up until I sent the final product - then nothing.  I hope that just means they're busy...  I tore out a bush in front of the house.  Right now it is sitting in 10 lawn bags on the curb.  I hope they'll take 10 lawn bags...  Today was the first time in weeks that we used both of our cars at the same time.  Maybe we should sell one...  I cannot believe so much of the summer is already gone.  I already want a do over...  If millenial students are going to ask you questions about things you just answered, maybe we should just skip the introduction part and go right to the work...  The "c" key on my work keyboard has failed.  Probably that just means that many more D's in my grades...  Have you heard Weird Al's "Word Crimes?"  Go listen.  I'll wait...  The person responsible for filling the Roku App que for MSNBC must be on vacation.  The feed hasn't changed since Friday...  This dude we hired to build a new deck for us won't call me back.  I was really hoping he wasn't that kind of contractor...  I care very little about the all-star game.  At this point I'm a little bit "Bring on the Steelers"...  The Newspage Reader has come back in a summer format.  The most commented articles don't have that many comments, but I can still separate out a top five...  Halfway through season #2 of "Boss."  Don't know much about other's opinions, but I think it is a really well written show...  It is amazing how quickly Baby TANBI is growing out of clothes.  He barely got to wear his astronaut suit twice...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Vote for Comment of the Week

Voting closes Thursday noon.

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "Behind Ballet's Diversity Problem":

Very interesting change going on in the dance community. Ballet as a form of dance is notorious for its rigidity and structure, which is mirrored by its rigid reputation. Ask anyone what they think of ballet, and they will immediately have specific concepts in mind: purity, grace, balance, clarity, virtue, etc.
The issue at hand is that these very concepts are not, in our culture, associated with people of color.
Thus, we have two solutions: change our perception of ballet, or change our perception of people of color.
If we open up our views on the art form of ballet, or (more importantly) if key figures in the ballet world opened up their views on ballet, what would that mean? I agree with Jasmine-- to make a change, you must appeal to those on top. In the entertainment world, people produce what they think the audience wants to see. If the audience is clear that they want to see diversity, in not only race but also form, perhaps the ballet technique can be altered. Art is fluid; it will adapt to the needs of the people.
However, ballet is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of racial issues. It is not the dance that keeps people of color out of ballet companies, but the principles behind the dance and how in our society, people of color are considered incompatible with such principles. We can alter the state of ballet all we want, but eventually we will have to address the bigger picture. It is a truth that people of color are seen through a lens of judgement, and allowing them visibility in the world of ballet is but one step to a larger process.
Ultimately, it comes down to the attitudes of the people. Everyone must reflect on themselves, and recognize the judgement they are conditioned to in order to make the world a fairer place.
Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "Robots And Choreography Abound In Update To Ballet...":
Although the article does make mention of how incredibly well the robot and the dancers are in sync with one another, there is no way to describe its genius until witnessing it. This is a beautiful example of how art and technology are rapidly coming together, building off of elements of the other in order to create something better. For a large period of time, forms of art were kept where they were intended. If the author’s intention was for it to be a play, it would be a play. Nowadays, that is not necessarily the case. Audiences are being opened up to several different interpretations of the same original piece. For example, musicals are rapidly growing in the film industry, television networks are producing plays, entertainment once intended for live theater is now being shifted to an area where it can be watched as many times as a viewer pleases to. While some may think the awe of witnessing live performance is lost, this can easily be argued. Even though someone in a film setting can call cut and choose to redo the scene, and live music has a significantly different vibe compared to something recorded and edited in a studio, the raw emotion felt in an actor’s performance is not lost, it is in fact improved. The audience sees every detail in a way that cannot be mimicked by a stage setting. This new technology of piecing together the grace of art and the mechanics of technology allows an up-close and personal experience for audiences. The element of live performance is still very much present and the one-cut attitude the director adopts only solidifies why this is an excellent direction to take in the world of theater. 
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "Comics on Film: The 10 Best Cinematic Superhero Co...":
I have been in love with marvel and superheroes all my life, I am still learning about them but the action that comes with them makes the movie. I have never really thought about the costumes but by reading this article shows and reveals to me that if they didn’t have these costumes for these characters none of the movie would make sense. They put so much detail and focus on the costume to make the actor feel special and to make it work for when the audience is watching the movie. It is also amazing that over the years with the remakes of the characters that not only is the film transforming but the costume and the ideas behind it are to. With Thor they said they used the comic book to relate which I think it great because when people watch that movie and have seen the comic book they can relate and have fun with their own creation. With all these new creations it can reveal and excitement for the audience to try and guess what will happen next and see where one thing in a movie can take you. I think it is also very neat to see what one person can do with something that everyone likes and really bring it to life and be very passionate about what they are doing. 
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "We've gone too far with 'trigger warnings'":
Having encountered situations before where I wish I could have had a trigger warning, I am slightly sympathetic to those who ask for them, but only just. In my case, I was a young LGBT youth enduring substantial amounts of bullying at my school, primarily in the form of slurs regarding my sexuality and liberal sensibilities. During this time, my english class had to watch a film in class where a multitude of these slurs were used, and I didn’t feel traumatized by the film, but instead I felt very uncomfortable, and felt as if this exposure to these slurs in a classroom environment was an unintentional encouragement for the students who used them towards others. This is an instance where I could have used a slight warning by the teacher, and I could have possibly avoided this uncomfortable situation. Before watching a movie with violence we are always warned by our teacher and given the option to leave the room if it makes us uncomfortable. I don’t feel like there should be a difference between the avoidance of physical violence and emotional violence, but I also agree with the article that there is no clear line of where to draw the line of what is “triggering” and what is not. Because of this grey area, it would be virtually impossible to regulate, but triggering subjects are undoubtedly a problem and people should be more aware of how to warn others of them and be empathetic to those who prefer a warning.
Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "Playwright Marina Carr explores matters of life an...":
Based on this article, I think the greatest testament to the strong show that they have in "Woman and Scarecrow" is the fact that the playwright is flying out from Dublin to watch this production. Having viewed the show myself, I can say that her time will be well spent. Through her interview, you can see her passion for the writing shine through everything that she does, and the personal relationship she appears to have with the director gives the prospective audience member that added little bit of comfort. This director knows the work and knows the playwright, so he should be able to handle the work well. To characterize the show as dark would be removing all the subtle nuances of the characters that bring elements of levity into the show. The darkly comic interchanges between the husband and wife detail the struggle of a love neither of them completely had for the other. Scarecrow knows how the story goes, but Woman is still trying to piece it together, creating a strong undercurrent of dramatic irony. All in all, Woman and Scarecrow gets a two strong thumbs-up, and it's exciting to know the writer will get to see such a strong performance of her work.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Worth a Look

Here are five articles from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time:

Chicago’s Theater By, With and For Young Audiences: Looking Back and Moving Forward

HowlRound: And shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?—Plato, 380 B.C.
Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) has a rich and varied history spanning global traditions rooted in entertainment, education and the fostering of imaginations. Yet TYA in the western world is deeply rooted in the social and cultural acceptance of youth as a group in need of control, protection and didactic cultivation. Centuries of prejudice have resulted in dividing professional and amateur theater on the basis of age—underpinned by images of young people as less than capable beings. When TYA is written off as less than, are we watching the effects of adultism materialize to shield projected innocence? If we are going to allow children to hear just “any tale” as Plato wrote, what better story to hear than one created by their peers?

Commitment and You

Dimmer Beach: If you commit to a gig for a company, you do it. When you commit to a gig, you are restricting your freedom of certain actions, as you will miss out on things, maybe even other gigs. It happens. It will happen to you, I promise you that.
Now, if you have read some of my other posts, or lived in the production world for any length of time, you know it isn’t quite that simple or black and white. So, let me expound upon that for you.

Exceptional Minds Students Contribute to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Below the Line: Seated among the cast and crew for Wednesday’s screening of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes at the Zanuck Theater, Los Angeles, were six crew members from Exceptional Minds – an L.A.-based digital arts academy for young adults with autism.

Busiest film agenda shapes up for Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: If everything and everyone, including superstars Will Smith and Vin Diesel, come and go as planned, the city will enjoy the busiest year of production in the 24-year history of the Pittsburgh Film Office.

Hand-Sketching: Things You Didn't Know Your Doodles Could Accomplish

Smashing Magazine: Is sketching by hand more than a nostalgic activity? How is paper any different from a screen, especially when hardware is becoming more and more sophisticated? Is improving your hand-sketching skills really worthwhile when high-tech software is advancing every day? What difference can a pencil possibly make?