March 28, 2010

Choo Choo (Chattanooga, TN)

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 7:02 pm

I feel like I haven’t blogged much. That’s because our usual breakneck pace has slowed down these last two weeks. Today we did our first performance in a week. In the last two weeks, we’ve only played one other venue.

I wish I could say more about our hotel, the Chattanooga Choo Choo (yes, seriously). It’s a converted train station (well the lobby and shop area is), and some of the rooms are actual period train cars parked on the remaining tracks (not ones we can afford on our per diem, not that we were given the option to splurge — I’m afraid I might have!). Behind the tracks are more buildings where the normal rooms are. As a hotel, it’s a little bit run-down feeling, but comfortable. The internet was amazing the first day and has pretty much sucked thereafter. Curses!

And I should say, I’m the kind of person who once spent the better part of a week showering in the dark (Tuscon last year) because I didn’t feel it necessary to bother the maintenance people to change my bathroom light. I have had to call the front desk almost every day. Admittedly one time it was to order a fridge so I could chill the cache of energy drinks I was given by our company manager. Otherwise it’s been for problems. I’m debating whether I’m going to mention the fact that I came home from the show to find my door had been left ajar by the cleaning person. I’m just kind of tired of hotels right now, which should be great because on the next leg we’ll be sleeping most nights on the bus! I’m just ready for vacation.

Today was a really nice day. We loaded in yesterday (well, other people did — Nick and I did our 8AM load in and then spent the rest of the day at rehearsal for Alice in Wonderland, so it felt like we missed the whole thing), so all we had to do today was show up for show call. It was a 3PM matinee — not too early, not too late — and we left the theatre, not having to load out, while the sun was still shining and the weather just perfect here on the picturesque campus of the University of Tennessee. Because everyone has to be shuttled to the hotel in vans, it normally takes three trips (the buses were released when we got here because we’re about to go on vacation). A bunch of us, cast and crew, walked the 15 minutes back to the hotel, which was a nice change of pace.

Tomorrow night we have a show, and then in the morning it’s vacation time! Having never actually taken a Vacation with a capital V in my adult life, I’m going back to New York, where my activities will consist of sitting at home, surfing the internet, playing video games, sleeping, probably visiting Phantom, going to Stage Manager Drink Night, and visiting my parents’ house on Easter. Basically exactly what I would be doing with five days off any other time. And I can’t wait!

March 27, 2010

So Much Interwebs I Want to Cry

I call this: computers,gaming,tech — Posted by KP @ 9:15 am

We have been rehearsing and loading in on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Yesterday in the rehearsal room we discovered that not only is the interwebs fast, it’s like insanely, inconceivably fast. This score above isn’t even as high as what we got yesterday. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much bandwidth in my life. I don’t know what I would do with it.

I have been excited that our hotel (the Chattanooga Choo Choo) has occasional speeds over 1mbps, which is enough for gaming, and enough to make you doubly pissed when it inexplicably craps out in the middle of your gaming session.

And here we are, with more bandwidth than we have at home through the lowly cables of Time Warner, and we’re at work. Not necessarily work-ing, mind you, but it’s really hard to have a full gaming session with mouse, headset, gamepad and such when everybody else is working.

When I was in college we had dial-up. I don’t want to go back to college, I just wish I even had the option to have this much interwebs in my home.

Most of all, I’m really sick of hotels providing such crappy bandwidth, on purpose. Of course universities get tuition from their students to pay for such services, but their housing fees aren’t the equivalent of $100 per night per student. Why do I pay $100 per night in a hotel and get dial-up speeds? And my favorite is the hotels that provide crap bandwidth for free and then charge for more. Like it really costs them $12/day to provide one guest with bandwidth that you’d still say sucked if it was in your house. It’s like if warm water was free and you had to pay extra for every day you wanted hot water in your shower. Come to think of it, I hope no hotel owners are reading this, because they’d probably do it. And is the hospitality business so inherently unprofitable that buying a TV package that includes the History Channel would put half of them out of business? Apparently so.


Honestly, I don’t mind frequently working 18 hours a day. I don’t mind being away from friends and family for months at a time. I don’t even really mind being away from my stuff. Hotel internet is what makes touring suck.

March 22, 2010

Loading Out

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 2:51 pm

Today we played our last performance in West Palm Beach. We went up 25 minutes late because a school of 200 (out of 300 seats) was late, but they ended up being a really great audience — very much like what the “groundlings” of Shakespeare’s time are assumed to have been like: rowdy, fans of the bawdy humor, talking back to the stage at times, but completely engrossed in the story. It was a great way to end our run here. It’s a shame we were so late, as it would have been fun to have a talkback with that group.

After the show we began our load-out, which took a little longer than it otherwise would have with such a good crew, because of how tight the stage is, but we could hardly complain on the truck crew because the rain had stopped and the dock was equipped with a couple benches and the most beautiful weather one could ever want while being forced to be outside doing nothing.

Emotional Bus Rollercoaster

Pioneer Coach has been toying with our emotions this past week. On our drive to West Palm we found out that our current bus, which we love about as much as one could love a bus, will not be back with us on the next leg. Despite the initial rumor that it was going on the Jay-Z tour, the current story is that it’s going to some boy band none of us are pre-teeny enough to have heard of. We also haven’t been sure if we’re keeping our driver, Jim. Jim and the bus are not a permanent pair, but when the tour goes on hiatus, there is always a chance that driver or bus could be sent out on a different tour.

Anyway, that has been something of a black cloud hanging over our stay here, knowing that it’s our last week with the bus, and presumably our next bus will not be as cool, or else the boy band wouldn’t be taking ours, right? See the thing is, Pioneer is really nice to The Acting Company, and generally will give us nice buses if they can (especially for the crew, as we really live on the bus), but if somebody with deeper pockets really wants the bus, any time the bus goes home we are at risk of losing it. So it was really no surprise to hear that when we go on vacation we’re losing the bus that’s really better than we deserve.

Today when the show ended — I swear to God, this is how it went:

ME: Electrics 135 and the house lights… Go.

(Booth door bursts open)

DEVON: We’re keeping Jim, and we’re getting a brand new bus!

ME: What? You’re bullshitting me.


ME: Seriously.

DEVON: Bobby just heard it from Jim.

ME: Then Bobby’s bullshitting you.

DEVON: I don’t think so.

ME: I refuse to let myself get excited until I hear it from another source.

Well out on the dock, Jim was hanging out waiting for us to load out, and while we were waiting to load the truck, he confirmed that it was true. The bus is a 2009 model with a slide. I asked what color it is, and he said brown. We later went on the Pioneer site on my iPhone and looked up the pictures and specs of the brown 2009 bus, and found that the interior layout looked very much like ours. The color scheme wasn’t as cozy as ours, but we were very happy. We flipped through the pictures of a couple of the other new buses, including one Devon really liked that had a granite floor in the front lounge.

Then a while later Devon came back to the truck and mentioned the bus number — 9616. I said, “Wait a minute, 9616 isn’t the brown one — that’s the red one with the granite floor!” Well apparently that’s the number, so once again I’m not letting myself get too excited (there’s still two weeks for them to change their minds), but if true, that’s the absolute newest bus. Some pics:

This view looks almost identical to our current bus, except that it doesn’t look like the couch has fold-down armrests (with cupholders), which is a shame. You can never have too many cupholders.

Fancy sink in the kitchen! Our current kitchen is more practical.

Fancy floor! Devon also has learned a little something about the bunks on these newer buses, which you can kind of see in this photo: they apparently curve out at the upper-body end, so you have more room by your head/arms and it narrows by your feet. We’re not sure what we think of this idea, but I’m excited to try it.

Anyway, we’re spending one more night in the hotel in West Palm (Per Diem Vortex: activate!) and then tomorrow evening we’ll be doing a 13-hour drive straight to Chattanooga. It’s been great to be able to settle into a hotel for more than two days, but tonight I packed up (not that I really unpacked anything more than I usually do). In the time between when we check out and when we leave, I may go for a walk around to see the parts of town (like the beach) that I never got to, just to say I’ve seen more than the theatre and the City Place shopping area. There’s a commuter train that goes right past our hotel that goes to cities all along the coast for dirt cheap — I thought about taking a ride just to see some more of Florida, but not sure I’ll have time or energy. Anyway it’s been fun being here, but now it’s time to move on and get even closer to our vacation!

West Palm Beach: Vortex of Per Diem

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 12:04 am

We are now in the part of the tour that was, for a lot of us, I think, the big selling point of this whole adventure: a week-long sit-down in Florida. Let’s take a look at the budget:

Per diem: $90/day
Hotel room: $99/day


Food: NY prices
Martinis: NY prices


Despite the fact that we’re spending a lot more money here than we would pretty much anywhere else, I think the sunshine and warm weather (remember this is a company that spent the first two months in Minneapolis in winter), combined with the free time and calm routine of a sit-down, has been well worth it.

We’re playing at the Kravis Center, which is a large complex of two indoor theatres and an outdoor amphitheater. Our neighbor across the hall is one of the tours of Jersey Boys, which is in the middle of a three-week run.

Our theatre is a large black box that apparently also gets converted into a dining room for other kind of events. The stage is made of temporary platforms 40 inches high. The tricky part is that all the access to the space is at floor level, meaning that the wingspace is at floor level and the actors have to go up stairs to get to the set and the playing space. Which wouldn’t be such a problem if there was some extra room on the stage platform. But as it is, the set barely fits on the platform, so the moment they get off the physical set they have to deal with stairs. Getting from one entrance to another usually involves exiting, going down stairs, walking along the narrow floor-level space that is crammed with prop tables, and then back up another set of stairs to access a different part of the set. It is cr-a-zy. But it has been the subject of frequent conversations on the crew bus, at venues, hotels, restaurants and bars across the country for months now, and we worked out with the venue staff the best way to prepare the space for our arrival. It’s weird, but the fact that it functions at all is a miracle.

The backstage area is a veritable obstacle course (one actor actually had to vault onto a platform and under a railing because he forgot he had to set himself in a different place for his entrance until the last minute). However, onstage the set actually fits really well into the space. It’s very intimate, but the Rinker has a very high ceiling and an openness that matches the scale of the set well. Sometimes our set is a tiny speck in a house with a 60-foot proscenium, and then there was Baruch where the audience literally had their feet on the stage. The subtitle for the show among the crew and staff during the Baruch load-in was “Shakespeare… IN YOUR FACE!!!” This is a little bit like that because the edge of the marley is only a couple feet from the front row, but it all feels a little more in proportion.

We actually are doing a lot of the Baruch staging for the fights, because the actors are close enough to the edge of the stage, and the audience is lower than where the swords swing out downstage, but still very near, and Corey felt the impending danger would distract the audience from concentrating on the story. Since we did all the legwork at Baruch, we have a bag of tricks that we can pull from selectively when a venue requires a change in staging, and can mix-and-match to only alter the show as much as we have to.

We also had to change some entrances (which we do to a small extent in a lot of venues), many due to the fact that our only stage left entrance is about 18″ wide and down a flight of stairs in view of the audience. Directing traffic through that entrance late in the second act was a bit of a puzzle.

I must say the cast has done a great job of justifying the presence of the onstage escape stairs. It’s not easy to take a show that was staged on a flat surface and suddenly make everyone enter and exit on stairs for no apparent reason. Before the first performance they had a quick discussion of how to handle it, and the basic idea was just to start acting before you get to the stairs. They’re doing a great job making it make some kind of sense in every situation.

We’re doing six performances while we’re here, including two school shows that were originally scheduled to be the 1-hour R&J, but just a week or two ago were changed to be full shows. It required a large flurry of emails among the departments to make sure that could happen (including delaying the load-out for a day), but I’m very happy they made that decision. The 1-hour is a great intro to Shakespeare for groups who for some reason can’t see the full show, but it’s no comparison to a real production with sets, costumes, lighting and sound, and since we’ve got the show loaded in anyway, we might as well go whole hog. It’s more work for us, but the payoff for the audience is exponentially higher in my opinion.

There have also been a number of social events, from birthday parties to free dinner and drinks for the cast and crew at a local restaurant, to a fancy benefit for the cast to mingle with board members and other donors. It’s definitely a change of pace from our usual breakneck pace at which we roll into town, do a show, and roll out.

After this we head to Chattanooga for another sit-down, which includes only two performances of R&J and two days of work on our Alice in Wonderland development process. After that it’s vacation time! So the West Palm stop has been kind of the gateway to our vacation. It won’t be easy when we come back, so we’re enjoying the cushy part of the tour while we can.

March 18, 2010

iDisk Syncing for Stage Management Files

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 9:59 am

Naturally being on tour I have a lot of documents to take care of. A lot of them have to do with schedules — there’s the cast schedule, the crew schedule, and the city sheets. Somebody always wants to know something, and there are a number of individual, constantly updated, documents which contain that information. I was finding it really hard to keep up with having the latest documents immediately accessible on my phone. I found myself saying, “I have that, but it’s on my computer,” way too often.

What I came up with is a solution using MobileMe’s iDisk, though I’m sure you could cobble together some other method if you’re not a MobileMe subscriber.

I have turned on iDisk syncing from System Preferences, which I’ve never really liked because frankly MobileMe / .Mac has always been really slow, and I don’t want it to spend any more time syncing than it needs to. However, I’ve never really bothered to use my iDisk to store files that I need frequent access to, so now it seems to be more worthwhile.

For a while I’ve had an alias folder on my desktop that links to a folder in my Acting Company folder, where all the schedules and city sheets were laid out in chronological order. This gives me easy access on my desktop — using OS X’s QuickLook feature, I don’t even need to open the files to read them. But it wasn’t helping me to have access to the latest copies of those documents on the go.

I moved that folder to my iDisk, and turned on iDisk syncing. Now I have access to the iDisk-hosted folder if I’m offline, which then syncs back to the online copy when I’m connected to the internet, and I can access the files using the rather nice (and free) iDisk app that Apple provides for the iPhone.

Here’s a picture of how I have the folder arranged:

I have the available city sheets on top, followed by the cast schedules (with the yellow labels), and the corresponding crew schedules (in green) underneath. This allows me to flip back and forth at a glance and see visually what the relationship is between them.

You can’t edit documents on the iPhone using this technique, but mostly I just use this folder to reference other people’s schedules when making my own. When I get an email with an updated version of the schedule, it takes about 3 seconds to drag it to this folder and overwrite the old one, and then I’m updated everywhere!

March 17, 2010

Should I Kill Myself Now or Later?

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 7:37 pm

This is April 5-10. What you are seeing here is iCal showing a selection of my calendars in 24-hour view. Those are all the hours in the day. There are no more — believe me, I have checked, and inquired into creating more. That’s it! Those little white spaces in the early morning are the only time we will not be working or driving, and I can assure you, will will most certainly be spending them sleeping!

It’s really more like one long day. I shall call it Thwiday!

Travel Days: Iowa –> Florida

I call this: On the Road Again,tech,theatre — Posted by KP @ 5:38 pm


After our 4AM load in and 3PM performance in Ottumwa, IA, we began loading out at breakneck speed.

On their way out, the cast posed for a picture before heading back to their hotel, anxious to begin their three-day trek to Florida.

The local crew was very ambitious and believed from the start they could break our record of two hours and 15 minutes. Here Nick and Jason enjoy the downtime the truck crew gets while waiting for the walls to be disassembled.


They did indeed break the record, by about two minutes! We then piled into the bus, on our way to the sunshine. But first we stopped at a local restaurant for dinner, where we ran into some members of the cast and production staff. We said our goodbyes, and then hit the road for real.

MONDAY: 10:00AM-ish

We awoke in Nashville, where our driver, Jim, lives. Jim parked the bus in the parking lot of a mall, for us to spend the day while he spent some time at home and slept. In addition to the bus, however, he also left us one of his own cars (!!) in case we wanted to get around town! Devon was pretty much the only one who used it, I think, to go to his favorite pancake restaurant. The rest of us were too lethargic to go anywhere but the mall.


Jim came back to the bus at our scheduled departure time, and brought with him a present to lend us: a Wii(!!). Now a Wii on a bus is not always a great idea, but this bus does have a slide, which makes it possible for two people to swing their arms around in the front lounge without breaking anything. We also learned sadly that our very awesome bus is not coming back on the next leg — somebody else wants it. We think it might be Jay-Z. Whatever. Doesn’t he know who we are??? We are hoping that Jim will be able to come back, though. Tour buses are like children: we don’t really care which one we get as long as it’s healthy.

With Jim back on board, we headed south!


When we didn’t stop for dinner for a while, and I got tired of the satellite cutting out while we were trying to watch a documentary on the Unabomber, I went to bed. I was awoken by Devon, asking if I wanted the best hotdogs in the world. I didn’t really want hotdogs, but I wanted something, so I got up.

When I got to the front lounge and peered out the window, I saw a surprisingly familiar sight: we were right in the heart of Atlanta, on Peachtree Street. I said, “wait, I know this corner!” and sure enough we passed by the stage door side of the Fox Theater, and I thought to myself, “this is the way to that burger place!” I soon realized that was our destination: The Varsity. I had never heard of their hotdogs, but I had been taken there at the promise of the best burgers in the world, when I was at the Fox for two weeks doing merchandise on the Scarlet Pimpernel tour back in 1999. Unfortunately, Varsity had closed five minutes early, and would not serve us. So we continued driving, watching South Park, and eventually stopped for fuel at a truck stop with a McDonald’s. Not so exciting. Then we went to bed for real.

TUESDAY: 10:00AM-ish

We awoke in the parking lot of our soon-to-be hotel in West Palm Beach. We were not officially supposed to arrive until Wednesday, so we just got a crew room for the first day. After a day-and-a-half without a shower, that was our primary concern, and we rushed through our turns in the shower until our scheduled 1:30 tour of the venue, which is right down the street.


The five of us who are involved in the onstage and backstage layout of the show (me, Nick, Bobby, Devon and Olivia) walked to the theatre, where we were met by two of the technical staff, to have a conversation we thought would be about how screwed we are.

The theatre is a black box with a raised stage. Even without the raised stage, it would be barely big enough to fit the set, and with the platforms, it is not actually as big as our marley floor (which we were assured would always be the minimum size of every venue on the tour). We’ve been talking about this on the bus, in hotels and restaurants all over the country for at least a month, so there have been many plans devised, and questions going back and forth to the venue staff about possible solutions.

We laid out Olivia’s tape measure to see how wide the set would be, and began brainstorming. We were told where additional platforms could be added to the stage, and where stairs could be located. As we talked over it, we got more reassured that there weren’t any major obstacles to the staging. The big thing was that we really didn’t think our platform, Fred, would be able to fit anywhere, even if he had to be lifted to stage level. Bobby and Olivia had planned to use Wednesday to go to Home Depot and buy supplies to build a mini-Fred. Thankfully, we realized we didn’t have to do that.

Somebody pointed to the slightly extra amount of width stage left and said, “it’s too bad that space isn’t over stage right, we could put Fred there.”

Massive lightbulb went off. “We can put Fred stage left. We’ve never had to do it, but it’s one of the possible plans for dealing with a Fred problem. It just means more light gets cast on the crew.” We’re also going to work with Devon to see if anything can be done so the crew isn’t walking straight through the light from the floor par. But even so, the fact that our real Fred can live on stage is better than any of the other possibilities, so we left after our short tour feeling much better about our load-in on Thursday.

Here’s a view of the house:


Back on the bus we began hooking up the Wii. After a couple quick games of bowling, Nick, Olivia and I went to The Cheesecake Factory for lunch, where we sat outside and drank pina coladas. The entire rest of the tour was worth it for that one hour. It felt like a paid vacation.


We ate way too much, and stumbled our way to Barnes & Noble, and then back to the bus, where Bobby and Matt were furiously battling each other on the Wii.

Here Nick and Olivia look on while Matt and Bobby race.


Me: asleep on the bus. Bobby texts me to let me know we can check into the hotel. I had asked him the night before if we had early check-in, and he said the front desk would have to let us know in the morning.

I was anxious to spread out into my own room, to take a shower, and to get away from any planned St. Patrick’s Day festivities, so I got up right away and gathered my stuff as quietly as possible, and headed to the hotel.

I was also anxious because I got confirmation that my new flashlight would be delivered today. For more about that, read my flashlight post.


I was getting my laundry ready when I happened to check Twitter and read that Nick was also doing his laundry. So we met up for lunch at the restaurant in the hotel, while waiting for our laundry.


After doing laundry, I have torn apart my suitcase, made piles of things, and have been making copious lists for what I’m going to bring home with me on vacation, so that I can lighten my load for the final leg. As I did on the last leg, I’m only taking my backpack and Acting Company tote bag home with me, so I have to think carefully about what will fit in those bags and can be taken on a plane. Getting my suitcase emptier is especially important because at the end of the tour I also need to be carrying all my personal possessions that normally live in the work box.

The rest of my night is free, who knows what I’ll do. I’d be happy to hang out and do some little projects, maybe read a little. 8:00AM load in tomorrow, with a 7:30 show. This one is going to require a lot of energy and clear thinking!

Flashlight Adventures: Novatac 120T

I call this: tech,theatre — Posted by KP @ 5:28 pm

Getting a new flashlight has been something of an obsession of mine since we were in Pittsfield, MA, where the light board, SM desk and sound console were all in a row behind the back row of the theatre. At intermission, Devon, Matt and I all stayed at our spots and geeked out over flashlights, mostly Matt’s, and passed them back and forth.

Matt had the Surefire Aviator, which is very cool, mostly because of the intuitive way it works: push a little for a green (or red or blue if you prefer) LED, push a lot for bright white. Twisting the cap works the same way. However, it’s very expensive, even as expensive flashlights go ($239). It’s also just as big as the current Surefire flashlights I have (the 6P and the G2), which I don’t like because I can’t reach the tailcap while also shielding the light with my hand (which is rarely that important — the only situation in the entire theatrical universe I’m aware of where you need that much control over a light is when decking The Phantom of the Opera, but unfortunately if I’m going to drop that kind of money on another flashlight, that’s what it needs to be able to do.) While I greatly admire the Aviator, it’s just not for me at that price.

The other light he has is from a brand I was unfamiliar with: Novatac. They don’t make as many different models as Surefire, but they also provide tactical flashlights for law enforcement and folks like that.

The one Matt has, that I ordered, is the 120T — which is really small, only takes one 123A battery, and provides 120 lumens at its maximum brightness, but also has two other brightness levels of .3 and 10 lumens. It also has a “disorienting strobe” feature, which is great if you want to stun a perp so you can take him down, or if you’re doing a production of Gypsy in your living room.

Novatac also sells a highly customizable programmable version, which is controlled with a single button. I read the whole user manual, which is fascinating, but decided against it when they said “if your flashlight does x you may need to perform a soft reset.” I’m sorry, I’m a computer person, but my flashlight is one thing that should not ever need to be soft reset. The programmable one is also more expensive and harder to find discounted on Amazon. The 120T retails for $149, but is frequently offered for less on Amazon through third-party sellers, and now by Amazon themselves: NovaTac 120T Tactical LED Flashlight. When I finally purchased it, it was $100, which is the lowest I’ve seen it. I had planned to use my Amazon credit card gift certificates to pay for the whole thing, but they have been stuck in the mail for a month, and I gave up waiting.

To make myself feel better about this unnecessary delay, I took advantage of the quick shipping time predicted and had it sent to our hotel in West Palm Beach, where it arrived today, rather than having to wait until we’re on vacation.

Of course as this is our day off, I haven’t had any time to actually use it in a real-world setting, any more than I already have by trying out Matt’s. But I’m very excited to begin. Once I’ve had some time with it, I’ll add it to the tool reviews on the site.


While the flashlight is definitely bright and easily portable, one thing I’ve learned is that it requires good batteries to get the most out of it. 123A batteries are very expensive (about $7 each if you buy them in a drug store or something), and I have purchased mine at bulk rates of about $1.50 each for years without thinking anything of it. One day months ago, Matt ran out of juice and I gave him one of my batteries. He immediately noticed how cheap my batteries were. I can’t say it’s ever bothered me when using a Surefire or other high-end flashlight. I’m sure they don’t last as long, or shine quite as bright, but the Novatac really suffers and flickers with the lower-quality battery, and I noticed it right away the first time I had to change the batteries. Thankfully it only requires one battery.

I Have Found a Use for Twitter!

I call this: tech — Posted by KP @ 2:47 pm

So I’m at the hotel on a day off, thinking the rest of the crew is off partying for St. Patrick’s day. I settle in to sort my clothes for the laundry. When I do chores I generally like to put some music on.

I discovered yesterday that the hotel’s internet can’t handle Pandora reliably, so I start the Pandora app on my iPhone. I decide to tweet about how ridiculous that situation is, and open the Twitter website. In my feed I see a post from Nick (@nicktochelli) about how he’s doing laundry. Son of a bitch!

So I sent Nick a text asking if he was hogging the only machine, or if there were more. It also made me realize that I had a potential lunch buddy at the hotel, and wouldn’t have to go seek food alone.

Nick got back to me and said that he was moving on to the dryer so the washer would be available. We decided to have lunch at the bland and overpriced restaurant in the hotel, so that we could attend to our laundry, and because it’s raining and there’s nothing else close by.

See, without people tweeting things like “I’m doing laundry,” I would have dragged my ass, and my dirty clothes, all the way down to the laundry room potentially for no reason! This way I found someone to have lunch with and we got to coordinate our laundry cycles so I could get a machine easily.

The Map

I call this: On the Road Again,phones,tech — Posted by KP @ 10:22 am

Behold, the Acting Company tour overlaid on the only map that truly matters: AT&T’s 3G coverage.

AT&T has claimed that they cover 97% of Americans. I often feel like it’s The Acting Company’s mission to bring Shakespeare to the other 3%. To be honest, we’ve only been in a handful of places where my phone didn’t work at all, and I imagine that AT&T considers all of them to be part of their coverage area because your phone might sometimes work. Of course when you’re a stage manager trying to put on a show and you can’t reliably send or receive phone calls, text messages or email at your hotel, your venue, or anywhere in between, “in an hour there are many days,” as Shakespeare says.

But actually when you look at it, we only spend maybe half the tour in places without 3G coverage. At least according to this map. What it doesn’t show is that in places like Fairfax, VA, which is very close to Washington, and within the 3G bubble thereabouts, there is no AT&T service in the dressing rooms, which are only maybe 30 feet from the loading dock. I blame that on AT&T regardless. Buildings are made of concrete. People live and work in buildings. Plan for it.

Incidentally, the reason that Verizon works better indoors is because the frequency they operate on penetrates walls and floors better, so even with equal numbers of towers, they will always have better building penetration than AT&T (at least on the current generation of frequencies). However, with good service, AT&T does have theoretically higher speeds. Actually just the other day we were in 3G coverage somewhere and I ran a speed test on my phone and was getting speeds higher than the theoretical maximum of Verizon’s EV-DO Rev A. So it does pay off in the real world occasionally, I guess.

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