January 31, 2011

Priority 1: Bus Internet

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 12:03 pm

I have installed myself in my new home. This bus:

I’m cheating a little by using a picture of our bus from last year. It looks pretty much identical from the outside, but this one is a little nicer. Also it’s covered in snow right now, and there are no palm trees. Which is only one of the reasons I’m using this picture rather than going outside and taking one. I will do a video tour later.

The rest of the crew won’t be here for a few more hours, so I got myself settled in at the table. Built-in power strip under the table! I must say I’m impressed because as I was packing this morning I realized that I forgot to grab one of our power strips from the road box for the bus, and I was kicking myself. No need to worry!

So I plugged in my computer and tried to connect to the internet. No surprise, the router needed to be rebooted. I don’t know what the deal is with routers, but they need to be rebooted too often. Depending on where your router is, this is a pain, but especially so on a bus like this where they try to hide the router somewhere inside the panels with the TVs, stereos, etc. So step 1 is to find the damn router. On some of our buses, this has taken days, and was only solved by using an app on my computer that gives very fine indications of wifi signal strength, using a hot-or-cold method to get closer and closer to the probable location, and then unscrewing paneling. This one wasn’t that hard to figure out. So I unplugged the router and plugged it in at the table, so we have quick access to it when it needs a restart.

Should you care, it’s a Linksys WRT54G3G-ST, which takes a PCMCIA broadband adapter. They use Sprint. It’s “meh,” usually. Sometimes it’s utter fail, but that’s usually in the same places that all carriers fail.

Here’s our speedtest.net score. I was hoping for better, but I’ll take that.

Next order of business is to watch TV. We had a fairly limited channel selection at our Guthrie apartments, so it’s nice to have the DirectTV satellite connection with like 500 channels. The only problem is that sometimes the satellite feed is choppy, especially when driving. A major consideration when parking the bus is whether it’s blocked from satellite signal. Sometimes we’ll drive up and down, making small adjustments as we call out to Bart when we go in or out of TV reception. If the bus is going to sit for an entire day (especially on a day off), it’s very helpful to be able to watch TV!

I also figured out which channels are for the front and rear cameras, so we can tune in and watch out the window from our bunks if we wish. Finally we need to know the channel numbers for the two DirectTV boxes. This allows us to be watching two different channels simultaneously — one for the front lounge and one for the back lounge, and people watching in their bunks can choose between whatever either of the two main TVs are watching (or play a DVD or tune to one of the camera views).

After a brief search of the program guide, I have turned on the movie of The Fantasticks, which I expect to be awful and turned off quickly. But I did work on the show Off-Broadway for several years, so it’s amusing to me.

Thus far that’s my day upon the bus.

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!