Tonight’s conversation with iMovie

Me: iMovie, please import this file.

iMovie: on it! That’ll take a little while.

Me: Alright, in the meantime I will go to the Internet for a second.

(one second)

iMovie: OH MY GOD! LOOK OVER HERE!!

Me: What is it, iMovie!

iMovie: I’m copying a file for you?

Me: Is it done?

iMovie: No! Not even close!

Me: Ok, well, you didn’t need to tell me about that. Keep up the good work, and I’ll be back in a little bit, when that’s done, to edit it.

iMovie: Bye!

(five seconds)

iMovie: OH MY GOD!

Me: What is it, iMovie? Did something happen?

iMovie: This progress bar is TOTALLY DONE!

Me: Oh, good! I guess I’ll start editing the video then.

iMovie: Oh, no, you can’t do that yet.

Me: Why not?

iMovie: I need to “generate thumbnails!” It’s a whole new progress bar!

Me: Why did you notify me if you still have another progress bar to go?

iMovie: I missed you!

Wanted:

Wanted: Someone to design/run back-end on a new website. It’s called “haircut success stories” and features profiles of nerdy guys who cut off their godawful ponytails and discover that they are actually good-looking and they finally get the attention/respect they’ve been seeking. It may be a tumblr-based site.

Women are from Venus (a one-act play)

I wrote this play in college, as a submission for a playwriting competition. It placed!

Women are from Venus
By Angela Webber


INT. Bookstore. Mid-afternoon.

Two 40-year-old women are browsing the “Relationships” aisle of a clean bookstore. One woman, we’ll call her “Lily”, looks like the mother of several elementary school kids, she is disheveled and worn out, and does not have a job other than caring for her children. “Grace” is a more self-assured business-woman type, is well put together, and is wearing professional clothes.
On stage right, there is a “bookstore café”, simply a round table with two or three chairs. There is a sign that says “please seat yourself.”
Lights up. the women are minding their own business. Lily looks like she is on the edge of a breakdown, but is keeping herself together. Grace is frustrated but dignified. Grace is looking at a single book, while Lily collects a few in her arms, reads the back cover of others, and either puts them back or keeps them.
L: I suppose you’re right.

(Pause)

G: Excuse me?

L: I said I suppose you’re right.

G: (confused) Um…

L: I apologize. I really was being inconsiderate.

G: (confused) I.. are you talking to me?

L: That must have been very frustrating for you.

(Grace notices that Lily is reading from a book. Lily flips to another page.)

(Lily looks up, and directly into Grace’s eyes.)

L: How was your day?

(Grace looks at Lily, the book, back at Lily, and then sets down her books on a step stool, and takes the book that Grace is reading (another copy) off the shelf. She looks over Lily’s shoulder (hesitantly), and turns to the same page.(Note: from now until *, both women will be “reading” each line from the book.))

G: (still confused). Fine. It was fine? (looks up at Lily)

L: How was your presentation?

G: Ok.

L: Is there something wrong?

G: No.

L: I can tell there is something wrong. Why don’t you tell me?

G: There is nothing wrong. Wh… where is the television schedule?

(both pause. Lily looks at Grace, expectantly. Grace looks at Lily, expectantly.)

L: Do you love me?

G: Of… of course I love you. I ma… I married you.

L: How could you love me? (breaking) – We never talk anymore. How can you just sit there and say nothing? Don’t you care?
(Lily looks down at the book, flustered, and continues reading and flipping through pages. Grace looks at Lily worried, confused, anxiously, then looks through the book.  As she slowly becomes more involved in her own reading…)

L: We never go out anymore.

G: (looks suddenly up at Lily, checks the page, and flips quickly.) That’s not true, we went out last Friday!

L: The house is always a mess.

G: It’s not always a mess. (stifling a giggle… looks up at lily, who is not amused. Looks back down at the book)

L: We are always in a hurry.

G: We are not. Friday we were relaxed.

L: I want more romance.

G: Are you saying I am not romantic?

L: * Yes.

G: (not finding that line in the book) ..What?

L: (looking up at Grace). Yes. You aren’t romantic.

G: Well… that… (pause, flipping through the book.) Don’t you mean… (proudly smiling, points to the page, Lily reads)

L: “Sweetheart, you have been working so hard lately. Let’s take some time out for ourselves. I love it when we can relax and be alone. You are so romantic. Would you surprise me with flowers sometime soon and take me out on a date? I love being romanced.”
G: Is that… is that what you mean?

L: No! What the… (flips). “What women want”.

G: (giggling) Ok…

L: 23.

G: (flipping to page 23) – What women want.

L: The pressures of the modern world… do not reflect womens’ values. Women are concerned with living together in harmony and loving cooperation. Relationships are more important than work and technology.

G:  Women were not made for the modern world of two-income households. What makes women happy is unstructured time… to garden, to take care of the home and children, and spend time with other women.

(The two women look at each other, thinking. Lily then puts back the book with a disappointed “humph” and picks up a few other books. She brings them to the Café. This is a Café with waiters.  Grace picks up the stack she set on the step stool, and follows Lily to the table.)

G: (opening a bright, modern-looking book to a random page, reading) How to make time for your wife.

L: (opening to a random page of one of her books) Are you a helicopter, or a bridge?

G: Block out time during lunch for a telephone call…

L: (has turned to another page) – A husband and wife might assign different point values for different actions and gifts.

G: Hire people to give you more time?

L: (has turned to another page) Get help for serious problems. Don’t let your marriage be the truck in flames that drives off a cliff….

(pause)

G: While being chased by savage football-playing cannibals…

L: into a pit of angry, flesh-eating termites.

L: and if he had just remembered to call the exterminator…

G: (reading from a new book) What happened to your marriage? If you’ve got to the point of asking this question, you’re already in trouble. You may be asking yourself if you were ever happy, or if you were, whether you can ever be happy again.

L: Christ.

G: In any case, the most important thing in any relationship is communication.

(a waiter approaches the table, bringing two waters.)

W: Here you are, ladies. My name is  Brad, and I will be your waiter today. Here is some water (starts to give water), can I get you something to eat today?

L: Thank you.

G: Thanks.

(as he gives the women their drinks, he accidentally spills some, not much, water onto L, and the books on the table)

W: Oh my… I’m so sorry.

L:  It’s fine… don’t worry about it.

G: Ahem.

(L looks at G, confused. G looks at L meaningfully).

G: Is something… wrong?

L: (confused) no…

(W feels really awkward and tries to leave..)

G: Wait!

L: what? (pause) Oh yes… wait. Communication is the most important… Is anything wrong, with you?

W: I’m sorry?

G: Is everything ok? How is your day?

W: Um… it’s fine… Yes, I’m ok…

G&L look at him meaningfully, sharing an amusing secret with one another.

W: What’s going on? I really should… get back to work.

L: Why don’t you talk to me anymore?

G: Don’t you love me?

W: Of course I love you! I married you!

(fade to black)

Acing the Interview: a presentation (A One-Act Play)

The following is a one-act play I wrote in college for a playwriting competition.

It didn’t win.

 

Acing the Interview: a presentation

by Angela Webber

Once Upon a Weekend Submission

Fall 2009: Oct. 18

“Saboteur”
Acing the Interview: a presentation

NARRATOR (NAR) (male/female): Authoritative, cocky, speaks in a very presentational way (almost fake, but not quite). Wears nice, but not office-professional clothes: perhaps khakis.

PROSPECT/JEFFREY (P) (male) is lovable, sympathetic, but changes throughout the scene according to the narrator’s description. Dresses in a very professional suit.

HIRING MANAGER/ANDY (HM) (female/male) is reasonable, but strict, professional.

FAMLY MEMBER (FAM) (female): dressed obviously unprofessionally (revealing dress, logo t-shirt, tie-dye, or something), this person is the mother/compassionate father of PROSPECT.

FORMER EMPLOYEE/JORDAN (silent character): (male/female) out-of-work programmer: messy (has been in a basement eating Cheetos for days, possibly weeks). Sloppy nerdy/pocket-T t-shirt, cargo shorts or equivalent

INTERIOR, OFFICE, DAY. HIRING MANAGER and PROSPECT sit across from one another at a desk, such that it is obvious PROSPECT is interviewing for a job. There is a door behind the desk to stage right, through which actors can enter and exit. There are papers on the desk, including PROSPECT’s resume and a list of questions the HIRING MANAGER is asking from and making notes on. Also on the desk, a phone, other basic office supplies, a computer monitor or similar prop. PROSPECT is dressed professionally, but in this portion has his shirt untucked so he looks a bit sloppy. NARRATOR sits forward on the stage, close to the audience, so he/she can walk in front of the action. When he is not speaking, NARRATOR watches the scene unfold behind him.

(fade up from black, en media res.)

P: (nervously, with lots of far-too-long pauses) …and though I don’t have experience with Photoshop specifically, I’m sure I could learn it quite quickly, since I, um, have been to college and can learn, things, very quickly.

HM: (skeptical of Prospect’s ability to do the work, but doesn’t want to be mean as Prospect is obviously nervous.) I see. That’s great! Here’s my next question: How have your previous positions provided you with the skills relevant for this position in our marketing department?

P: Well, it would be great if you hired me. See I’m… have… a marketing degree, and I can do marketing excellently. Please?

(lighting switch to focus on NARRATOR)

NAR: Hohoho (expected, fake laugh…) I bet you could see what went wrong THERE. Hi. I’m Mr. Anderson, and I’m here to help. The truth is, most people sabotage themselves in their first job interviews. I’m here so you don’t have to be “most people.” Jeffrey just demonstrated one of those typical “rookie mistakes”… don’t show your weakness! They can smell it! Hohoho… I’m just kidding…. of course. Let’s watch another scene… and see how it goes this time around. Let’s try a little more confidence, Jeffrey!!

(lighting switch to focus on DESK: PROSPECT now has his shirt tucked in and looks much more professional as a result. He now has a briefcase on the floor next to his chair.)

HM: Why are you interested in this position?

P: (with great confidence) Thanks so much for that question, Andy. Let me tell you—I think a position in the marketing department of your fine company is an important step in my career. Frankly, can I be honest? (HM does not react, P goes on quickly) – I’ll be honest, I don’t think I should take this job. But in this economy, there are so few Marketing Managerial or CEO positions that are in solid form… I think I’m going to have to start at the bottom, and I mean not just because your company is so small and relatively insignificant, but the position…(looks at pocket) Is that me? (takes cell phone out of pocket) Oh, hold on just a second, Andy. (answers phone) Hey doll—no, it’s fine, it’s fine of course! I’m going to have to give you a ring later, alright?—Yes I’m doing great… as always. Hahahaha! (hangs up the phone.) Now, where was I? Ah yes…

(lighting switch to focus on NARRATOR)

NAR: Oh no, Jeffrey! Now you’ve gone too far! Never lose your professionalism! So… so far we’ve learned that you need to strike that balance: show your confidence without being cocky. But the interview is more than just how you talk…. It’s also what you say. Let’s try that again, and this time you try to spot everything that goes wrong.

(lighting switch to focus on DESK: PROSPECT is now wearing a fedora)

P: I’ve always admired the work your company does, providing decorative houseplants to orphans in underdeveloped nations. I, like you, understand that it’s the small things that really make a difference in the lives of children. And that’s why I would embrace an opportunity to work with you.

HM: (smiling, really liking this interview) I appreciate that. One final question: Why should we hire you, out of all of the candidates for this position? What makes you a particularly ideal choice?

P: (to self, at first) Why should you hire me… why you should hire me… (raises voice, stands up, begins a musical song-and-dance number, HM is freaked out a bit) Why you should hire me? Oh, Why you should hire me! My name is Jeff and I’m a qualified guy – I’m a real team player and a real fast learner, oh! the reasons you should hire me…

(lighting switch to focus on NARRATOR)

N: Did you catch it? That was a tricky one… but important. Never sing songs or perform dance routines without being asked. (to audience) Of course, you won’t make all of these classic mistakes in your interview—not after this presentation! Hoho. Remember, it’s good to display your talents, but sometimes you can go too far! Make sure to gauge the feel of the room before you stand to perform, and remember that the volume of your voice should reflect the size of your audience. This next scene is the last one. There are at least 3 things wrong… try to see if you can identify all of them! (NARRATOR may exit the stage at this time)

(lighting switch to focus on DESK: PROSPECT is now wearing flip-flops and drinking loudly, but not arrogantly, from a slurpee/equivalent. There is now a big “Less Than Jake”/equivalent sticker on his briefcase.)

HM: (kindly hinting that prospect is not going to be offered the position.) So… Jeffrey. Jeffrey, Jeffrey—thanks so much for coming in to interview for this position.

P: I was afraid that was going to happen.

HM: Ah… yes? What?

P: (voice increasing in volume, as he calls someone from the next room)

Yes. And I think there is something you and I could discuss. Seriously. Isn’t there.. (shouting)

(enter FORMER EMPLOYEE, who for the rest of the scene does not speak, but looks quite pleased with him/herself for being empowered to ‘stick it’ to his/her former employer.)

HM: J… Jordan? What… what’s going on?

P: Yes, Jordan. You remember him. You laid him off, two months ago. Well, that wasn’t a very good idea, was it? Jordan was your network administrator. Jordan left himself a back door. (FORMER EMPLOYEE takes a floppy disk/CD/USB stick out of his pocket and waves it menacingly.) Jordan can bring this company down right now. He has already started transferring your money into several private Swiss bank accounts. He knows how to disable your security system. (rising intensity of speech, excitement. HM is FREAKING OUT. FORMER EMPLOYEE is quite proud.) He knows every little shortcut and every mistake this company has made in the past 15 years, and he knows which governmental department to report to. You’re over, Andy… you’re over. Because Jordan here can bring you down. He’s dangerous. He’s powerful. (PROSPECT and FORMER EMPLOYEE share a meaningful humorous nod). And he’ll do it… if your shoddy HR practices treat me the same way they treated him.

HM: What is WRONG with you! You’re insane!

P: I’m insane? Me? You’re insane! You’re too scared to hire me because I interview poorly, have some typos in my cover letter, and can’t demonstrate competence in marketing or any related field, from previous employment, educational transcripts, or basic questions. Really? ME? I’m insane??! Well now you have no choice, do you?

HM: (PROSPECT, throughout this speech, affected by the criticism… beings to whine/eventually breaks down to a sobbing cry, interrupting HM, who nevertheless continues his beratement. Jordan looks disgusted.) No… I suppose I don’t have a choice… There is no way I can offer you a marketing position. Or any position. You have no practical experience. You should have gotten an internship during college, or… I don’t know… created a portfolio? Gone to class? Listened to your teachers? What have you been doing? How do you expect to be employed? And now you’re trying to BLACKMAIL me? Really? This company has more lawyers than your little action-movie-watching brain can even comprehend.

P: Waaaaa!!! But I wanna have a job!!! Mommy….

(FAMILY MEMBER bursts through the door)

FAM: Oh, Jeffey. Poor wittle Jeffey… I heard you crying from the waiting room… do you need a tissue, baby? (wipes the tears off of PROSPECT’s face with a tissue from her purse) Mommy loves you. Did this mean man tell you you couldn’t work here? (turning to HIRING MANAGER)… you should be ashamed of yourself. Look what you’ve done to him. Jeffey is a positively brilliant boy. He can do anything he sets his mind to.

HM: I’m sorry, ma’am, but I can’t offer him…

FAM: Well then… he doesn’t want to work here anyway. Do you, Jeffey? (taking PROSPECT’s arm and leading him toward the door.) We’re going to find somewhere nicer for you to work, Jeffey. And you can just live in your old room in the house until you find a job. (walks out the door, yelling back at HM) Goodbye, Mr… Andy. And NO thanks. Don’t call us! We’ll call you!

(HIRING MANAGER and FORMER EMPLOYEE share bewildered looks)

(fade to black).

And now it’s time to talk about what I’m doing with my life

Here’s the story so far: right before Christmas, I left my job at a business newspaper. It was a very good job: I got to write and report all day, got to meet new people and learn all kinds of things, for which I was paid. It was, in many ways, a dream job.

But as I said, I left.

Below are some words for my parents, family, mentors, friends and colleagues who may be concerned that I have made a Huge Mistake.

Since graduating from college almost two years ago, I have had the opportunity to have a series of excellent reporting jobs. I got internships – (some of them paid!) – then I was hired as a reporter despite my lack of formal training in the field – and then I got a Full-Time Job! I have been very, very lucky. But I’ve also been doubting myself. While my peers were hiking the Appalachian trail, touring Turkey and biking across America, I was doing my best to get behind a desk As Soon As Possible. Like many decisions in my life, this is something I soon began to regret.

I also felt like I was missing the chance to jump into the future of journalism – I love being a reporter, but there are a lot of changes happening in the field and I want to take part in them! Me me me!

And so I decided to do something about all of these “me” problems. While working over the last few months, I’ve been trying to figure out what sort of things about which I want to learn more. I read a lot of blogs: delving into the Generation-Y blog community and the Future of Journalism online community. I conducted some informational interviews with people who do things I thought I might try. I made up a list of some stories I wanted to tell and skills I wanted to learn. In the fall, I finally set a date that I would take off and start doing this “exploration” full-time.

And here we are.

This notebook is where I keep my lists.

For the past three weeks, I’ve been “on vacation” trying to both relax and plan my next steps. I have a big list of new things I want to try, and I have (finally) prioritized them (somewhat). What are the big ones?

  1. Make an album with my band.
  2. Learn how to make a web application & learn enough of a language to do a sample project. Do the same with web design. (You’ll note I’ve already started to go a little WordPress crazy on my family…)
  3. Make a documentary (with filmmaker Martin Vavra- one of my informational interview subjects)
  4. Take classes in computer programming.
  5. Train and volunteer in community radio.

With some of those things – the documentary, radio, and website skills – I’ll be working on new kinds of journalistic storytelling. I’ll also do that with freelance writing. We hope.

While we’re on the topic of lists, I also have a list of “New Year’s Resolution”-type goals that I’ll hopefully keep track of:

  1. Write and send letters
  2. Try writing fiction
  3. Learn how to cook
  4. Throw more parties/events
  5. Plan and take travels to: Grand Canyon, Alaska, Prague

There is another set of goals that I’ve created for my band for 2012, mostly involving songwriting, aforementioned album, and using “touring” as an excuse to see more of ‘merica. The band has a couple less “concrete” goals, as well.

  1. Do it because you want to. Have fun. (As long as we are following this rule, I don’t consider us to be “selling out”.)
  2. Support awesome artists/local practitioners of music, photography and graphic design when possible.
  3. Spend time with the people we meet who are awesome. Play a lot of games.

With all of that in mind, the goal is that at some unnamed future date – perhaps the date that I run out of money – for me to have a better idea of what I would like to do with the rest of my life, or at least a little bit of it – and to feel like I’ve explored and discovered and had some good (wild?) times in my 20s. Next year, will I be a web developer/musical comedian/radio journalist/documentarian/writer? Or will I still be a freelance explorer? That is the question.

Thank you all very much for your support! If you want a letter, send me an e-mail (angela.webber.w@ gmail.com) with your address. I’ll plan to keep you updated (but you’ll note that blogging is not on the top 5 priority lists – so feel free to track me down on Facebook or Twitter if you’re just dying to know what I’m up to.)

update 1/18: Added a photo of my “first day of exploration” to provide “visual interest.” Added e-mail address.

After much turmoil, Fire Station 21 design decision finalized

After much turmoil, Fire Station 21 design decision finalized
As published in the Daily Journal Of Commerce, Wednesday, August 24, 2011
BY: Angela Webber

A five-month search by the city of Portland for a firm to design Fire Station 21 appears to be over. The city last week said it intends to negotiate a contract with Whelton Architecture to handle architecture and engineering for the project.

This is the second contract award for Whelton to design Fire Station 21. The city’s procurement services department in the Office of Management and Finance admits that the facilities department, which managed the first award, made some mistakes. The procurement services department says it addressed the errors by restarting the evaluation process. However, a competing firm’s owner, who brought to light the problems with the first award, says he still is concerned.

“It wasn’t a transparent process,” Carleton Hart Architecture’s William Hart said.

In April, 10 architecture firms submitted proposals to design a new fire station to replace an aging building near the Hawthorne Bridge. The existing station is the last in Portland not seismically upgraded – when a bond was passed to upgrade all city stations, Fire Station 21 was out of commission. It was brought online recently to replace a station in a different location that will be taken out of commission because of nearby Portland-Milwaukie light-rail construction nearby.

The Office of Management and Finance’s facilities department, which managed the request for proposals process, decided that of the 10 firms that applied, those with the four highest scores would qualify for oral interviews. The winner would then be selected based on the results of the oral interviews.

In a protest letter to the city, Hart wrote that the facilities department did not follow that outlined RFP process. The overall scores used to calculate the winning firm consisted of scores from the evaluation of written proposals and from the oral interviews. But not all firms were asked the same questions, according to Hart, which caused led some firms to score higher than others.

Hart pointed out that a representative of the city’s facilities department told firms during a mandatory pre-application conference that short-listed firms would “start from zero” during the interview process. According to Hart’s calculations, if the city had indeed “started from zero” and excluded the issues not discussed in their oral interviews, Carleton Hart would have won the contract.

Procurement Supervisor Barb Gibson called the problem a “process issue.”

“The Chief Procurement Officer agreed … that Carleton Hart had a point that there was a ‘process problem,’ ” Gibson said.

So the city rescinded Whelton’s award from the original RFP round, and the process was moved from the facilities department to the procurement services department. In a June 15 interview with the Daily Journal of Commerce, OMF management analyst Abby Coppick said that the city would re-interview the shortlisted firms.

On July 17, Gibson told the DJC that the city would return to evaluations of the original 10 written proposals and convene an entirely new evaluation committee. It was the first time in memory that the clock had been turned back so far on the process, Gibson said in that interview.

Written proposal scores in round one and oral interview scores in round one were based on a maximum score of 500. Written proposal scores in round two were based on a maximum score of 600.

“As we started working, it became clear that we needed to back it up one more step,” Gibson said. “We really wanted it to be a clean process.”

The new committee evaluated the 10 written proposals, and Whelton Architecture came out on top. On Aug. 12, the city once again issued a notice that Whelton Architecture would get the contract.

Aaron Whelton, owner of the winning architecture firm, said he believes procurement services took the right action. “I think it was the right decision to take a step back,” Whelton said. “By going back in the process, it strengthens the decision and removes it from potential scrutiny.”

But Hart doesn’t believe the time for scrutiny has passed. He said his main question at this point is why the city didn’t call firms back in for oral interviews for the second process.

“The interviews were important the first time around; I don’t see why they were excluded this time,” Hart said. “Usually things are more transparent. Given as much scrutiny that this (process) has had, it would seem that (the city) would have at least had oral interviews.”

Gibson said her office had the option of conducting oral interviews in the second process, but decided that doing so was unlikely to change the outcome because of the disparity in points between the top two firms.

In the first round, the top two candidates were separated by a distance of 10 points out of 500; in the second round, the distance was 13 points out of 600. Both of those represent a margin of about 2 percent.

“A lot of times, we use the orals when there’s just one or two points between. But when there’s a larger gap it’s not normal that we go to (interviews),” Gibson said.

Hart did not submit a protest letter after Whelton was awarded the contract in the second round. Even if the process had gone to oral interviews in the second round, his firm would not have made the cut. In the second round, Whelton Architecture was a front-runner with 502 points, and Carleton Hart had the second lowest score at 428. The firms received the same score when their written proposals were scored in the first round – and both were in third place.

The five-member committee for the first process and the six-member committee for the second process both included representatives from the city fire bureau and from the committee that oversees the bond that will pay for construction. Community members, one city staffer and one Multnomah County staffer also participated.

The scores were created by the evaluation committees assigning numerical values to subjective areas, like “project approach and understanding” and “proposer’s capabilities.”

Portland Fire & Rescue’s new Deputy Chief of Logistics Marco Benetti was a member of the committee for the second process. He said it was “pretty straightforward.”

“Everyone has their own subjectivity about how their scores are,” Benetti said. “But (the scores) all seemed to come out pretty close among all the scoring people.

“I’m looking forward to the project going forward,” he added.

 

Breakout Box:
Whelton Architecture will negotiate a contract for the design of Fire Station 21. Its proposed contract amount for the project was $607,075. The architecture team will be Aaron Whelton of Whelton Architecture, and architect David Suttle. The consulting team includes:
• TCA Architecture & Planning, consulting architecture
• KPFF, structural and civil engineering
• Interface Engineering: mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering, and lighting design
• Flowing Solutions, waterfront planning and permitting
• Green Building Services, LEED project management, energy modeling and building analysis, and commissioning
• 2.ink Studio, landscape architecture
• JMB Consulting Group, cost estimation
• Evergreen Engineering, code analysis

Breakout Box:
Round 1 written | Round 1 interview | Round 2 written
Whelton Architecture 452 464 502
Carleton Hart Architecture 452 461 428
Hennebery Eddy Architects 454 460 481
Peck Smiley Ettlin Architects 464 456 482
Architecture Building Culture 419 445
Group Mackenzie 435 481
MCA Architects 447 447 489
MWA Architects 435 470
Wilson Associates 258 301
Yost Grube Hall Architecture 442 447

How to start a career in Web Development, according to my band’s Twitter followers

There has been much buzz for a long time about how journalists should relate to web development–but this week a particular post by Boston Globe webster Andy Boyle caught my eye. He wrote three posts on the issue: two for journalists and one for programmers, all saying that all parties involved should do web development for journalism. There are jobs there, they are well-paying, and it’s a good need to fill. (Maybe it’s the magic bean to save newspapers! Just kidding. There are no magic beans.)

I asked my band’s Twitter fans – who are mostly nerds – for their advice on getting into web development. Before the Tweets are lost to the Internet, I’d like to share what they said.

The basic lesson from all the responses was this: Teach Yourself Web Development.

With the exception of one person (my friend’s mother, who decided to take up web development by taking a year of classes at a community college) people seemed to have taught themselves how to “make internets.” @BrendanAtkins (who is just awesome in so many ways), @AlaskaRobotics, @sparCKL, and @ghalidrim all echoed that statement in their own clever generation-specific ways.

@Mariafi also seems to be self-taught, and recommended “Head First Html,” a book with a scary lady on the cover, but part of the “Head First” series that I’ve heard much about. Andy Boyle recommended one of the books himself.

I think this is probably the right way to go–of course, I don’t know web development (is that a thing? “I know web development!”?) myself at the moment so I can’t say first-hand if this works. I did dabble in the CSS early this year in a teach-myself sort of way to make this site, an early version of my band’s website before I just gave up and went with WordPress. At the moment I have some journalism-y web projects (database-based) I’m going to explore, though I’m still trying to decide whether to try out Django (Andy Boyle’s tutorial here) or something else. I’ve realized that asking the Internet for the best language to start with, like asking my boyfriend and his friends for a language to start with, is overall a terrible idea and just results in nerds nerding around unhelpfully.

Watch this space for updates. There might be some.

An experiment in deadlines

You might think that I’d want a break from deadlines, since I face them every day as a journalist. Apparently that’s not true.

I am the primary songwriter in a tiny obscure local band. For the last 17 weeks or so, myself and a fellow band mate have challenged ourselves to write and record a song each week.

The project is inspired by Jonathan Coulton, nerd rock super sensation whose “Thing-a-week” project kicked off his Internet fame. While we are many degrees separate from Mr. Coulton, we’ve found that the deadline system is a great way to encourage ourselves to get down and writing.

In songwriting as in journalism, I am not always happy to see the deadline creeping towards me. And sometimes I feel like if I just gave myself a little more time maybe I could have a more polished and “complete” final product. But, like in journalism, I with what I have when the clock strikes deadline and, in the end, what I have is what I have–and at least I have something.

Some songs are keepers, some are definitely not. But we have them!  Our band has more than doubled its repertoire since the project began in February.

The Jon Stewart Rally

Political, apolitical, funny, unfunny—lots has been said about the rally. We had a great time.

We woke up nice and early and found a great spot on the lawn. We were surrounded by some diehards (some women had set up before sunrise) and some passersby (I asked one man from Jamaica if he’d come all the way to DC for the rally. He laughed and said he’d just been walking by.)

We were also in the presence of some celebrities, like Capt. America himself.

America, capt

We were far from the only people who had flown in for the rally. This couple hopped down from Maine. The woman told me that she is the library director in a town where half the council wants to abolish all taxes and just pay for the police. “That’s why I’m here,” she said.

maine

Jon Stewart’s call for people to make “sane” signs was not ignored. Clever slogans abounded.

Ke$ha

Cary and I arrived on the lawn before 8 a.m. and entertainment didn’t begin until 10–and the rally didn’t start til noon. But we kept busy. By the time the rally started, we were tired of standing. We had a blanket to cushion the ground and went shoe-less: much more pleasant on the feet.

shoes off

Our spot was close enough to watch the stage. We could also see the teleprompter, which I largely ignored, but Cary said it was fun to see what was coming up (though it took away some of the surprise….)

Prompter

The show itself was excellent. It was live—so, not lacking awkwardness, and whoever was running the video feeds wasn’t really paying too close attention, so there were some hiccups. The star-studded rally did not disappoint us, enthusiastic 20-somethings who came for the Jon Stewart and got a bonus Ozzy & Cat Stevens on top of it. The biggest problem was that 3G coverage knocked out for everyone before the Rally even started, so none of us could Twitter! (Scandal!)

I have lots more photos over at my Flickr.

Links:

If you would like to see the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear for yourself, thank CSPAN for this feed. Check out BuzzFeed for a popular collection of the best 100 signs at the Rally.  Comedy Central has posted video of Jon Stewart’s “sincere speech,” the thesis statement of the rally—calling out media for presenting polarizing extremes.

A Life in Three Acts: Bette Bourne at the Kennedy Center

Today is day 1 of my Stewart/Colbert Rally trip to our nation’s capital.

Entering the theater, all I knew was that someone at my lovely host’s job got us free tickets, and it was at the Kennedy Center. I didn’t know we’d be witnessing a first person account of post-war England, gay liberation, and a drag queen culture.

Bourne was a key figure in Britain’s post-war gay liberation struggle. A Life in Three Acts is Bourne’s story, an autobiography on stage.

Bourne lived in a drag queen commune. The ladies protested, they did drugs, they lived in an abandoned TV studio.

The show was simple–set with a simple chair, side table and a projection screen for photos. Bourne joked with the audience; it was sort of halfway between a one-man show and a presentation. It was different from anything I’d seen before—casual, but obviously rehearsed—I guess the level of effortless performance should be expected from Bourne, who traveled the world with her drag show (short years after performing Shakespeare with Ian McKellan).

And despite the heart-wrenching moments one might expect from such a story: the conflict with Bourne’s father over “what his son had become”, the tragedies and repression that sparked gay liberation, and later, Bourne’s coping with dozens of friends dying of AIDS — really the play was mostly fun. Bourne’s first sexual experiences, for example, were described as matter-of-fact quibs. There was no dramatic “when did I first know I was gay” moment — really, clichés were dodged altogether.

I’m not a theater reviewer, so I’ll stop here. Bourne’s show is excellent, and continuing to tour (it’s at the Kennedy Center for the rest of the weekend.)

To read more about Bette Bourne, visit the Times Online.