What Have We Learned?

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It’s cephalopod week.

Posted by Tony Padegimas on June 23, 2016

I think. Maybe that was last week.

Anyway, the Montery Bay Aquarium, like this blog, has an ongoing fascination with all things octopus.

 

Two more things that amuse me, but do not warrant their own blog entry.

Jack Schafer of Inc explains three easy ways to tell if someone might be lying.

And an infographic on how to make CreepyPasta. (This is a thing.) Maybe we’ll make one about octopi.

Lastly, over on Fantastical History, I’m quoting my own forthcoming book out of context.

https://fantasticalhistory.wordpress.com/2016/06/23/benastalk-beyond-quotes-1-of-several/

Now we know.

 

Posted in Natural History, Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Living in an RV links. No reason.

Posted by Tony Padegimas on June 14, 2016

For my reference and mayhaps benefit. If you benefit as well, great.

Becky Schade is not a retired Woopie, but lives full time in an RV anyway, and blogs about it at interstellar orchard:

http://www.interstellarorchard.com/

Which led me to this article:

http://www.interstellarorchard.com/2016/06/07/comparing-work-options-for-rvers/

And we meet her and her rig here:

And the guy interviewing her runs this site:

http://www.cheaprvliving.com/

There are two job-related websites mentioned in the video. Coolworx no longer exists. workcamping.com re-directs to

http://www.rv-coach.com/current_category.1950/index.html

which is mostly slow-flowing forums.

Again. No reason.

Now you know.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

It all depends upon expectations

Posted by Tony Padegimas on May 24, 2016

Every 18-24 year old male in the United States will likely undergo that time-honored ritual wherein they wreck a car for no good reason. My son has just crashed through that rite of passage, and now we know that the waiting room at an impound yard is, in fact, the fourth circle of Hell.

We also learned that the daily storage fee was $32/day – not $15 a day like the Scottsdale police officer told my son. And getting it towed there – at police insistence – counted as his free tow under our roadside assistance plan.

Vehicular mishaps are excessively burdensome upon the working poor, because you can’t budget for them, and they have no other resources to re-direct. Consequently, the patient if bored folks behind the thick glass have to keep repeating the same sad litany of fines and documentation.

My son is technically working poor, but he has literally no other expense he has to worry about at the moment. So even though he thinks his life is over, this is actually a nuisance for us and not a crisis. Not everyone in that dingy, airless room was so lucky.  There was one party literally wailing.

Another guy, though, was super-stoked that no one at the impound yard stole anything out of his vehicle. “That’s the way to run a business.” he exclaimed loud enough for me to hear him some distance away. It all depends upon expectations, I suppose.

Business Insider reports:

After decades of stagnant wages, 73 million Americans — nearly one quarter of our population — now live in households eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a benefit exclusively available to the working poor.

This is all in argument for raising the minimum wage:

We have been raising the minimum wage for 78 years, and as a new study clearly reveals, 78 years of minimum-wage hikes have produced zero evidence of the “job-killing” consequences these headline writers want us to fear.

A consume driven economy needs a large, viable consumer base or, you know, there’s a crash.

And now our friends the octopi – who are multiplying wildly, and no one knows why.

http://gizmodo.com/swarms-of-octopus-are-taking-over-the-world-s-oceans-1777790453?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_facebook&utm_source=io9_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

Which leads to this:

 

And finally, over on Curious Continuity, Legends of Tomorrow is Breaking My Heart.

Now you know.

Posted in Antics of my Children, Deeply Nerdy Things, Natural History, Supposedly advanced civilization, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

No Ranting – Just Links.

Posted by Tony Padegimas on May 6, 2016

Arizona House Bill 2112, the Technical Production Services exemption, has passed the AZ Senate, and sits on Governor Ducey’s desk. Here’s what I wrote about it for the March 2015 Collaborations – the newsletter of the Desert State USITT

Arizona House Bill 2112, currently awaiting a vote in the Senate, intends to remove the ability of live event technical professionals to collect unemployment. So if it passes, which seems likely, just about anyone reading this newsletter would be unable to collect unemployment compensation from the state of Arizona, even if they otherwise qualify.

The official summary says:

HB 2112 exempts technical event production services personnel from the definition of employee for purposes of the unemployment insurance (UI) program administered by the Department of Economic Security (DES).

That’s one of a long list of stoopid things the Tea & Gun party legislature is doing to our state. But I’m not going to turn this into a rant. This is a list of shorter items.

What I learned at my next-to-last board meeting (I’m currently the Secretary, but will be termed out by September) is that our DS-USITT is a unincorporated non-profit association, which means you can deduct fees or donations given tot hem from your taxes, but they can’t provide you with formal documentation.

Also, we learned that Arizona considers our traditional 50/50 raffle to support a student membership to be gambling – even if you are a lowly  unincorporated non-profit association. Because freedom.

No – not going to rant.

When driving to Tucson, don’t stop at Eloy. When I stopped there, I choked down a Carl’s Jr sandwich while surrounded by overweight white people with guns. I am an undersized, unarmed theater nerd. Ate quickly, Got out. Stop at Pichacho Peak instead. That Dairy Queen/Shell station/gift emporium was stocked by non-threatening, if unhurried old hippies.

Now – Links:

Research to replace my old tent:

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Best-Camping-Tent/ratings

What adhesive should you use? http://thistothat.com/

Someone thinks about pterosaurs. A lot.

http://www.pteros.com/pterosaurs.html

Background for my work in progress:

https://fantasticalhistory.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/background-for-the-beanstalk/

Curious Continuity looks at the barely forseeable future:

https://curiouscontinuity.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/some-visions-of-the-barely-forseable-future/

And finally, SciShow Space starts out talking about tin whisklers and ends with talking about one of this blogs regular obsessions – strange toilets.

 

Which leads us to the ESA telling you more than you might have wanted to know about that.

You’re welcome.

Now you know.

Posted in Deeply Nerdy Things, Jack the Giant Killer, Random facts, Rigging and stagecraft, Toilets around the world, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

An Irish Link Dump

Posted by Tony Padegimas on April 28, 2016

For  book research and an ongoing quest for  wakeful drunkenness, I researched some Irish things over the past few months, and collect my learning for you here.

History Ireland has a good summary of how beloved old St Patrick was quite likely a crank who is preserved in history because he wrote stuff down.

Patrick—to his fellow bishops, probably in Ireland, who would have seen his activity at close quarters—had gone completely ‘off message’ with his unique vision of himself as the apocalyptic preacher. Yet by answering these anonymous level-headed pastors, the real founders of Irish Christianity, Patrick became the only one who left a name and any account of evangelising in Ireland!

 

http://www.historyireland.com/st-patrick/st-patrick-the-legend-and-the-bishop/

Which, according to The Guardian leads naturally to Irish Coffee:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2015/mar/12/how-to-make-perfect-irish-coffee-st-patricks-day-recipe

Wide awake, I kept looking into this.

Christopher Null in Drinkhacker answers What’s the best whiskey for Irish Coffee?

Good question. I sampled all the Irish I had on hand in coffee and it was a tossup between the standard bottlings of Bushmills and Jameson. The only Irish that didn’t work well was Black Bush, which just didn’t play right with the bitterness of the coffee.

http://www.drinkhacker.com/2008/11/01/the-best-whiskey-for-irish-coffee/

 

Finally, Jim Slaughter of ineedcoffee claims to make the Best Irish Coffee in the World.

https://ineedcoffee.com/the-best-irish-coffee-in-the-world/

 

For myself, I replaced sugar with honey – as I often do, and was melting in the microwave when I had an realization: coffee, especially fresh coffee, is hot enough to do the job. This worked well enough for me. I use heavy whipping cream when I have it – if not whole milk.

Oh – and honey is bee puke.

https://youtu.be/Hq0SBwkLvUo

Last harps.

In Beanstalk and Beyond, there is, of course, a magic Harp. I fancied I might find something in folklore from which to draw inspiration – or at least some accurate technical detail.

There was something called the Harp of Dahgda, but that wasn’t quite right.

http://www.livingmyths.com/Celticmyth.htm#Dagda

The harp of our story may be inspired by this artifact though.

ancient-irish

For some actual facts, I relied upon Harp.com and The Harp Foundation, whose site plays such soothing music that you might pass out no matter how much coffee, Irish or otherwise, you might have had.

https://www.harp.com/history-of-the-harp.htm

http://www.theharpfoundation.org/about-us/history-of-the-harp/

Now you know.

 

Posted in Deeply Nerdy Things, Fantastical History, Jack the Giant Killer, Random facts | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Marketing ME! ME! ME!

Posted by Tony Padegimas on April 26, 2016

 

Actually, I’m not going to market myself here – this very post. This is about marketing in general. And marketing via Blogs in particular.

OK, it is about me, and tonight’s Big, Stupid Question: do I need all these silly blogs that I rarely update anyway? If you care about those blogs, I’ll list them at the end, but first, what other people think – because that’s really kinda the point of the internet.

Julie Neidlinger of the The Coschedule Blog has this advice:

Multiple blogs, in the right circumstances, are a powerful tool that can energize your writing and your blogging success. But multiple blogs, in the wrong circumstances, are devastating to your blogging efforts.

CoscheduleBlog basically exists to sell an app, but they have put an admirable amount of thought into the content.

http://coschedule.com/blog/multiple-blogs/

 

Darren Rowse of Problogger makes me feel like a nose-picking amatuer with his talk of diversification strategies and workflow optimization.

While you do need to be careful of spreading yourself too thinly (more on this below) multiple blogs has been very beneficial for me and have been one of the main reasons for my own growth of income over the past three years.

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/03/17/starting-multiple-blogs/

Blog Tyrant is more blunt:

Well, to me it seems like the most successful bloggers are ones that focus in on a very specific niche and approach that niche in a way that is really distinctive. {emphasis his}

http://www.blogtyrant.com/one-multi-topic-blog-vs-multiple-blogs-with-a-single-topic/

Blog Tyrant is secretive about his identity – except that he’s not. But it takes four clicks and counting to get to it, and I can’t be bothered. If you want your name cited, use a by-line.

Elegant Themes lists their favorite WordPress management apps.

https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/tips-tricks/how-to-manage-multiple-wordpress-websites-effectively

It’s old (2014) and I don’t use any of these, but I might. So there it is.

 

5 years ago, Jennifer Mattern was where I’d like to be five years from now. AllIndieWriters is one of several sites she runs (ran? UPDATE: she still has a lot of them).

It sounds like a lot, but when you’re highly organized you can make it work in the long run.

http://allindiewriters.com/when-it-makes-sense-to-have-multiple-blogs/

 

Of more general interest:

Entrepreneur  reposted a good infographic  on optimizing social media:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235236?utm_source=Social&utm_medium=Sharebar&utm_campaign=Sumome_share

And Digital World reposted another good infograpic  on the psychology of color.

http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2013/08/how-colors-influence-people-psychology.html

POSTSCRIPT:

For my reference as much as anyone else’s – these are my blogs that currently exist:

This one.

Are We Lost Yet

http://trekalong.com/arewelostyet/

A blog about hiking and writing hiking guides, focusing on the Arizona hikes I have written about in my guidebooks and elsewhere.

Curious Continuity

https://curiouscontinuity.wordpress.com/

This is the support blog/website for Curious Continuity, which covers the time travel, time travel fiction, and how the past and the future inform each other.

Fantastical History

https://fantasticalhistory.wordpress.com/

Fantastical History covers the intersection of history and myth, and how this informs popular fiction and role-playing games (including my own).

Go Action Fun Time

https://sites.google.com/site/goactionfuntime/

Not a blog, but a wki-style draft of rules and background material for the RPG of the same name. Probably going to get it’s own WP blog eventually.

Notes from the Meeting

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/tpadegimas

My masthead blog on Tumblr.

Also includes echo blogs of

The 64

https://the64.wordpress.com/

A blog about my WIP of the same title.

https://padegimas.wordpress.com/current-fiction-project/the-sixty-four/

 

Now you know.

Posted in Deeply Nerdy Things, writing biz | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Certified!

Posted by Tony Padegimas on April 5, 2016

So at long last, I took and passed my long threatened ETCP theatrical rigging certification.

My score was 126 out of 150. Passing was 104. It was all graded on some weird sliding weight scale that I was going to write about – but I don’t care now. I passed. Rejoice and settle wagers accordingly.

All of those standardized tests I took in school turned out to be of some value. (That’s right millennials, standardized testing is not a curse aimed specifically at your generation.) Over 165 questions (of which only 150 are graded – but they’ll never say which) I got to use every one of those sneaky little strategies I learned in grade school.

But what really, really helps, and there is no avoiding this, is knowing what you are doing. Here experience in installing as well as operating systems in multiple venues was invaluable.

Also, I studied.

These were indeed the textbooks I relied on – in order of value:

  • Stage Rigging Handbook (3rd Edition) by Jay O. Glerum. This is THE textbook for operating fly system as an adult who gets paid for it.
  • Rigging Math Made Simple by Delbert L Hall. The link is to the 3rd edition, but the copy I have is the second edition.
  • Entertainment Rigging by Harry Donovan. This is more aimed at arena rigging, but the approach to working load limits is more detailed.

There were a LOT of questions about components of counterweight rigging systems and their use – as one would expect. There were also a LOT of questions about Working Load Limit, as related to Ultimate Breaking Strength and how to calculate one from the other. It is further crucial to understand what resultant force is and how to calculate it.

If in doubt, the weak part in the system is the cable clips. Somebody writing questions had a grudge against cable clips.

Other useful tidbits from my notes:

A useful,  basic math tutorial we found while researching the electrician side:

https://www.mikeholt.com/instructor2/img/product/pdf/1302643781-sample.pdf

I like this advice in particular:

When working with any mathematical calculation, don’t just blindly do the calculation and assume it’s correct. When you perform a mathematical calculation, you need to know if the answer is greater than or less than the values given in the problem. Always do a “reality check” to be certain that your answer isn’t nonsense. Even the best of us make mistakes at times, so always examine your answer to make sure it makes sense!

 

A good, concise (if dry) guide to wire rope and things attached to it:

http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/09/f2/std1090-07_chapter_11_wire_ropes_and_slings.pdf

Breaking strength

The measured force required to actually break the thing. This can only be properly measured by testing, eg applying force until it actually breaks, and writing that number down.

The best source for this information is the manufacturer.   Manufacturers of actual rigging equipment will test a large sample of their items to determine a breaking strength (which is most cases is really a bell curve; the number given is in the center of that curve), and provide that number to the customers – somehow.

That number is the basis for all the other load limit calculations, and why we prefer – nay insist upon – manufactured gear with known breaking strengths to rig with.

IF YOU CANNOT DETERMINE THE ACTUAL BREAKING STRENGTH – YOU SHOULD NOT USE THE EQUIPMENT.

Breaking strength is an average for most components, and only applies to new equipment. You must assume used equipment to have a lower BS and downgrade accordingly.

[…]

Working Load Limit is the fraction of the known breaking strength used in determining how much we will say the equipment is rated for. We then treat that like it’s a real limit and not a number that we derived from a much higher number that is actually an average of measured results. The specific point of a professional rigger is that WLL’s are rational and enforced.

When riggers say a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, they are not speaking metaphorically. That is the literal truth with rigging systems: the lowest WLL of any component (which could literally be chain) in a system determines the WLLL for that entire system.

and one more:

Fleet angle

In a perfect world, all of the lift lines would run true from their head-block and across the loft blocks in a perfect, straight line. The difference between that and what is actually installed is called the fleet angle. It is measured from the center of the sheeves.

The maximum allowable fleet angle for theatrical rigging is 1.5 d.

Fleet angle can be determined by finding the Tangent of the offset distance divided by the distance between shivs. (Be sure to use the same units of measure). [Glerum 102]

As a quick gauge, an offset/distance ration of 1:40 or greater is going to pass. An offset of 1:30 or less is going to fail. Between 30 and 40, you’ll have to do the math.

For those who got this far, I admire your dedication. Do the work – that’s what we learned.

Posted in Rigging and stagecraft | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fifty Facts about here

Posted by Tony Padegimas on February 20, 2016

A You Tube Video:

 

 

Now we know.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

How Damage Control Became my New Normal

Posted by Tony Padegimas on December 30, 2015

So last I posted, I waxed optimistic about how the damage control phase of my life might be over, and I might be able to actually make forward progress with my life in general and creative projects in particular.

Then my Father-in-law died (from long standing illness) and my Mother-in-law moved into our house literally the next day. This was not a contingency we had seriously prepared for. It just happened. There is all manner of ranting and whining that could follow that revelation, but that is not what I keep this blog for. The relevant information is that I have been forced back into damage control, at least in regards to the day-to-day functioning of my home and family.

Conversely, things are actually starting to look up at work. We have made dramatic improvements to our infrastructure, and I am starting to take on a role that involves more than doing the same thing I’ve done for twenty years.

Rhino Staging, where I serve as Technical Director, values their privacy (in what we refer to internally as the Doctrine of Pointless Secrecy), but I think can safely release a few details:

  • Our new warehouse (easily 3x the size of our old rented facility) and our new office space (easily twice the size as the old) are now finally at the same address for the first time in ten years: 125 W Julie Ave in Tempe
  • I spent a week in Middleton, Wisconsin learning how to install ETC Prodigy and Vortek motorized rigging systems and
  • I am the guy who organizes training for Rhino Tempe – at least by default.
  • I am also the Warehouse Manager of this big new thing – at least until I can train ,my replacement. I don’t mind running a warehouse, but it’s my third stint in that role – so it fails the “something I can’t do in my sleep” test.

The warehouse move is in progress – I’ll note later what we learn from that.

Meanwhile, the Christmas tree is still up, so a few notes on gifts:

  • If you make the mead in February, it will be well over its’ bottle shock by Christmas.
  • Relatedly, drinkers are easier to shop for than non-drinkers.
  • Buy gifts for your kids first. The other adults in your life will cope.
  • Seriously, outside of the very poor, most American adults have more crap than they need or can store anyways. Get them something consumable or expendable, or replace something that’s broken. Shiny new things are for the kids.

My new year’s resolution is for this to be less autobiographical and more informational, but it is a personal blog, so some context is in order on occasion. My other is to try and keep these under 500 words, so in our space remaining:

Ranker’s collection of Weird and Funny Toilets – because its been a while since we’ve visited one of our recurring topics. Completely devoid of location or other relevant details, and likely NSFW.

An excellent guide to Tumblr, posted here because it’s too true just to link to once of FB (or Tumblr for that matter).

And finally, this year’s 11 reasons for hope.

Now you know.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Moments of my Balls in the Air

Posted by Tony Padegimas on September 22, 2015

When something spins around an axis, engineers measure it by its moments. That’s one of the many things I’ve learned studying for my ETCP Theatrical Rigging certification. Because we have a client that wants to see one. I’ve been doing this ore than 20 years, but its still a big, complex, convoluted technical discipline, and I learn a lot every damn day.

  • The top channel in a pulley, where the rope goes in, is called the “swallow, and the bottom part, where it plays out is called the breech.
  • Manila rope is graded by something called the Becker Value. It measured with photoelectric reflectrometry (so by color) and is obscure enough that you may know more about it right now than most rope dealers.
  • Manila rope is also stronger than hemp rope , so it is no real loss than you can’t readily find hemp rope in the US. Theaters would buy manila anyway.
  • Calculating the forces on three point bridles is insanely convoluted. Like skip that question and come back if you have time because there are literally 17 steps.

So my approach to studying, after flailing around a bit, is to alternate between three textbooks:

I try to read a chapter a day in each book, and do the problems in Rigging Math.

So that’s one ball in the air.

I still try to market my hiking guides and still contribute to the blog my publisher set up for that purpose.

The latest is here: http://trekalong.com/arewelostyet/2015/09/18/taking-the-inner-basin-off-of-my-bucket-list/

In writing that I learned that it takes about 3 hours to put together an 800 word article with pictures. But I couldn’t hike inner basin without telling someone about it, could I?

Another ball far from my hand but not forgotten is Go Action Fun Time

It turns out that marketing a new Role-playing system has an extreme degree of difficulty.  The trouble is the learning curve vs the plethora of established systems that people are already familiar with.

Scott Thorne, of Mongoose Publishing cites: “Lack of interest by customers in venturing outside their comfort zone.  There are very few “Igors” (cue Dork Towerreference) who are willing to try a brand new RPG just because it pops up on the new release shelf.  Most stick with the tried and true, going for the new PathfinderDark Heresy, or, much less than in days of yore.”

http://rpgr.org/news/scott-thorne-on-future-of-rpg

My quest for game masters to play test this thing remains at zero hits.

And I just sent the complete manuscript to  Beanstalk and Beyond to my publisher. That’s right, they signed a contract for a book they had yet to actually read. Good thing they signed it with me, huh?

Some reasonably relevant links:

NPR on how book sale numbers are lower than you imagine, and perhaps generated by voodoo.

http://www.npr.org/2015/09/19/441459103/when-it-comes-to-book-sales-what-counts-as-success-might-surprise-you

and author Kameron Hurley has some cold facts on that same subject:

http://www.kameronhurley.com/the-cold-publishing-equations-books-sold-marketability-love/

Now You Know.

Posted in 5 Star Hikes: Sedona & Flagstaff, Hiking, Jack the Giant Killer, Rigging and stagecraft, RPG Rules | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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