Indiana Homeland Security Says Outdoor Stages are Not Structures – More on the Indiana State Fair Collapse

In the ongoing and expected to be long-winded and ongoing investigation of the Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse, the Indy Star has put out another article.  This one has some interesting information in it about how Indiana Homeland Security feels about temporary outdoor stages.  From the article at the Indy Star:

Under Indiana Administrative Code, a structure — temporary or permanent — has to meet stringent code requirements, such as being able to withstand winds of up to 90 miles per hour. The winds at the fairgrounds blew less fiercely than that Saturday evening, about 60 to 70 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

But the Indiana Department of Homeland Security said temporary outdoor stages are not, strictly speaking, structures.

“You’re talking about scaffolding and equipment,” Erickson said, “not a structure.”

Well, there we have it.  Outdoor stages are just scaffolding and equipment in Indiana, not “structures,” so they don’t get inspected.  Awesome.  You really have to read this article, folks.  Let’s hope Indiana’s Department of Labor and Indiana OSHA don’t take five months to figure out what happened on this one like they did with Declan Sullivan, the University of Notre Dame student killed when the crane he was in to film a football practice tipped over in the wind.

Gah.  Go read the article at the Indy Star on this – what a crazy read to just come across.

Sorry Governor Daniels, We’re In the Business of Keeping Our Fans Safe – Indiana State Fair Collapse Continues

Don’t forget this image, people:

Don’t forget this one, either:

I’m overwhelmed with the awesome response that was given to the article from yesterday about the disaster at the Indiana State Fair at the Sugarland show.  I’ve got my hands in as many places as I can right now to keep on top of this situation, but there are some large mysteries surrounding this misery.

However, have you read the news in the AP wire (thanks Fox) about how now they’re looking at the collapse?  This has become a media salvage operation for Governor Daniels and his crew.  Sorry folks, this really upsets me, especially the language in his statement about the collapse.  From the report at the AP wire:

“Our first job is to get back in the business of living, get back in the business of the state fair and back in the business of caring for each other,” he said.

Since we’ve already arrived at the blame game part of the disaster with the Governor and the State Fair promoter people, I think we have two fingers that can be pointed.  Sorry, Governor Danielsyou get finger #1.

You know what, I understand that you’re just trying to salvage face at this point.  What you need to understand, sir, is that our industry, the Entertainment Industries as a whole, doesn’t do too well when these kinds of events happen, especially when they could have been avoided.  Nate Byrd’s donation of his life for the sake of a State Fair show is a donation that you should be clamoring to give back with every second of future shows you ever have a hand in producing.  I want you to know that, everyone in the industry wants you to know that, and I hope that you never forget that a show is LESS important than what you observed on Saturday.

Let’s take a look at some chain of command stuff here before we start blaming stagehands and riggers.  I think that is very, very important.  So, the chain of command broke down WAY before the time to blame riggers and stagehands.  Now is there stuff we don’t know?  Sure.  Everything is speculation at this point.  But five people are dead.  It’s time to get some answers now.

  1. Promoters.  It’s your fault for this happening.  Since you didn’t call this show at least on hold when that weather is visible, the blood is on your hands.  What you’re going to find is that there are many people under you who were probably suggesting that the show be held, at least until the weather passed.  Another show was cancelled just a bit away from your site, and those promoters gave their audience at least 30 minutes to get there before any weather reached the site.  Did that not surprise you?
  2. State Safety Officer.  What was it that you were doing that was more important that this?  You can get weather reports and warnings for free via text message if you happen to have an old phone.
  3. Public Safety Officer.  What were you doing when the weather was an hour away?  Your responsibility was public safety.  Five are dead.  I’d say you failed.
  4. Venue Manager.  You should have had your weather reports right up in your face, ready to tell the promoters that you were going to stop the show, and that was that.  Getting the PA down, getting the roof down, and getting the hands off of the deck are all things you should have been reporting to both the promoter(s) and the crew chief to execute.
  5. IATSE Steward onsite.  This one hurts me, but it’s true – what the IA stewards say onsite goes for all IA hands.  People should have been out of that rig when that weather was coming.
Promoters are not Gods, everybody.  They can be told no.  I mean, what’s the worst they’re gonna do, fire you?  My guess is that there are a lot of people who wish they would have gotten fired right now.

For the record, the Entertainment Industries are all about protecting our fans from the art they desire while we execute it like only we know how.  But we’re professionals about it, and we know when you need to pull the PA down, drop the roof and lighting, and just deal with angry fans for the sake of the fans until the storm passes.  Sugarland still would have rocked the heck out of it.

Sorry folks, but there are some issues with this AP article that have to be addressed.  I’m gonna go through these really quickly here, but the world needs to know how pissed our industry is with this mess.

From the AP article:

As the fair reopened Monday, investigators and the families of the dead and injured were still seeking answers to hard questions: Was the structure safe? Why were the thousands of fans not evacuated? Could anything have been done to prevent the tragedy?

State fair officials have not said whether the stage and rigging were inspected prior to Saturday’s show. Fair spokesman Andy Klotz said initially that the state fire marshal’s office was responsible for inspections, but he backtracked Monday, saying he wasn’t sure whose job it is.

A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security said neither the fire marshal nor Homeland Security officials conduct inspections. And the city does not have the authority to inspect items on state property.

“We do have our own requirements within the city for temporary structures, and we do have our own permitting requirements,” said Kate Johnson, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement. “But in this situation, we don’t have that authority because it’s state-owned property.”

As they investigate, inspectors for the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be looking at the weather and any potential structural or design flaws in the stage, among other things, experts said.

Another emerging issue is whether fair organizers responded quickly enough to forecasts of an approaching storm, especially since a different concert nearby was canceled because of the weather.

People, Mother Nature is gonna trash anything when hurricane strength winds blow through somewhere, but what the media needs to understand is that the reason this happened is a combination of things that we will probably soon discover in the follow-up.  Biggest issue right now?  WHY WAS THE RIG STILL IN THE AIR WHEN THAT STORM WAS COMING?!  Did you see that big blue tarp in the video flap around in the wind like a sail?  My professional guess would be that it was among the reasons for the sideways fall of that structure, the sail catching wind and pulling the rig out of balance.  But let me just say this out loud again so that all government agencies and OSHA and all of the people who will still be blaming our industry for this mess for a long time coming:  WHY WAS THE RIG STILL IN THE AIR WHEN THAT STORM WAS COMING?!

Here’s finger #2 – at the promoters for this event.

I am making a public call to the media and to the world – WHY DO WE NOT HAVE AN ANSWER FROM A PROMOTER ABOUT THESE THREE QUESTIONS?

WHY was the RIG STILL IN THE AIR when the storm was coming?
WHERE were the safety organizations’ representatives when this weather was coming through?
WHY was the RIG STILL IN THE AIR when the storm was coming? 

Was it worth the deaths?  Was it worth the mess?  Here’s the REAL kicker for your sleepy time – you DO REALIZE that Sugarland would have still played a great show if you would have taken the time to lower the PA, drop the roof, just for the time the storm was coming, and then rocked the crap out of your fairgoers’ faces.  Nate Byrd would also be running spots still, too.

We need to be concerned about a few things here:

  • Does it concern anyone else that the very same people who keep saying “oh hey, I don’t know WHO’S job roof safety is” are the very same people who are going to be investigating the disaster?  What I’m gonna be looking for is for OSHA and the Indiana people involved with this to be reaching out to parties in the Entertainment Industry to help them with the engineering and consulting.
  • We need to be concerned that there is already backtracking in public statements.  This is going to get worse.  Governor Daniels’ constant “let’s be moving on and healing from this tragedy” makes me even more suspect.  Sorry Gov’nah, this is more than just votes and political popularity.  Our industry is on the carpet for the lack of due diligence that the fair promoters exhibited in NOT GETTING THAT ROOF IN when the storm was coming.  We will NOT let you hang us out to dry on this one, especially when you chose to exhibit such negligence in this situation.
  • Kate Johnson’s statement:
    “We do have our own requirements within the city for temporary structures, and we do have our own permitting requirements,” said Kate Johnson, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement. “But in this situation, we don’t have that authority because it’s state-owned property.”  Um, no.  More pass-off.  We can expect a lot more of this kind of garbage, I’m afraid.
  • Was the structure safe?  We’ll find out the answer to that soon, to be sure.  What is obviously a big issue is WHY THE RIG WAS A FULL HEIGHT IN THE ONCOMING STORM.  It’s Indiana, people, not Denver, where the mountains can hide rain.

I’m so disgusted with the just monster fountain of crap that’s engrossing this horrific incident.  It’s up to US to make sure we can filter the BS.  Anything and everything we can do is what is prescribed now.  If we leave this in the hands of the people who are obviously doing such a great job of managing the fair now, I fear it’s only going to be a matter of time before I’m writing about the next bunch of music lovers who were killed in a roof collapse.

Governor Daniels, this was not a freak accident.  This was negligence.  Promoters, I’m gonna be waiting for your answer.  We all are.

Stunning and Scary Image from the London Riots

I was thumbing through The Guardian this afternoon, and I came across a series of photos taken by a photographer named Amy Weston.  Before anything else, just look at these three photographs – the light is so intense, the story it tells is of horror:

 

Holy sh*t, people.  Those images are Amy Weston’s experience photographing a woman jumping from a burning flat building in London during these crazy riots that are happening.  Crazy?  Yes.  The crazy part comes from the destruction that takes place, because whatever voice you had before the riot is now gone because some people who like breaking stuff screwed it up for everybody.  I said it, just like in Toronto recently when the black face mask people kicked in windows and generally caused a bunch of chaos.  People who want to have their voices heard en masse really get screwed when the troublemakers turn it into a criminal enterprise.

A side note:  the last time I was in Croydon it was to prep a show in the Fourth Phase UK lighting shop.  Remember Fourth Phase?

my dimmer racks

From the article at The Guardian:

The photographer who took the shot of a woman leaping from a burning building in Croydon used on five national newspaper front pages on Tuesday has told of the mayhem as she captured one of the most dramatic shot of the riots.

Amy Weston had been told there were fires in the Church Street area of Croydon near Surrey Street market and was driving to the scene when she heard screaming by some shops that were in flames.

“There were six or seven people screaming and crying outside, and they looked like they lived at the flats that were burning. The flats were above small independent shops,” said Weston, who works for the London-based Wenn picture agency.

“A man in a white shirt was screaming that a girl was at the window and that she was ready to jump. He ran towards her but riot police had appeared and pulled him back, and they went to her instead.

“As soon as she dropped, the crowds pushed back and there was no way to see what happened to her. I remember hearing people screaming that there were more people in the building. The crowds started getting angry with each other, with one group blaming another group for starting the fire.

Let’s hope those people and any other people harmed in these riots make it through to see the next day.

Thanks to the Guardian and to Huffington Post.

I Think I Agree with Jon Stewart On EISA 2012 Right Now

I think this is kind of a very weird thing for me to say, but right now in Capitol Hill our Congress and Senate are debating the Energy Independence and Security Act (PDF link), and I think that it’s something that can wait until the rest of the bulls*** is solved and our politicians stop acting like a bunch of five year olds over this debt ceiling nonsense.  I mean, what do they really think they’re going to do?  Default?!  Come.  ON.

Take a moment and watch this Daily Show clip, you won’t regret it.

A snippet:
“It’s not, ‘Let’s all chip in a buy a keg for the party,’ it’s ‘Buy me a keg or I’ll burn your f***ing house down.'”

There is a big post coming in the next day or so about EISA 2012.  Stay tuned for that, I’m trying to demystify it as far as possible.  While the government works on getting this simple thing fixed (yeah, simple, I said it) then me and the world’s network of lighting bloggers and lighting professionals will try to hash out this other bulls*** for you.  I get the feeling that Jon Stewart will want to turn to us anyway for the real deal on all of this once all this other crap is no longer news.  I could be wrong though, Stewart’s a pretty smart and funny guy.

Thanks for the image, Maru!

RIP Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm – Home Power Consumption Metering Products are Almost Dead

Much to my dismay, I have to report that Google and Microsoft are both discontinuing their home power consumption products, Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm.

Personally, I think this sucks – but do you know the official reasons why?

Microsoft:
“…Due to the slow overall market adoption of the service, we are instead focusing our efforts on products and solutions more capable of supporting long-standing growth within this evolving market.”
Google:
“…Our efforts have not scaled as quickly as we would like, so we are retiring the service.”

So basically, Google and Microsoft put these products out there to give us the ability to literally monitor and evaluate our home power consumption to make us self-aware of the way we spend electricity.  Apparently, at the rate that we adopted these products, Google and Microsoft aren’t happy.  Bye-bye, home monitoring products.  This really sucks.

We could spend the whole day blaming people or departments or our generally care-less generation.  Were these products advertised well enough?  Did people stop watching Jersey Shore long enough to see the ads, or even care about the impact they have on the world?  Did the energy companies that didn’t sign up for either of these products just not want people trying to reduce their energy consumption?  Something my divorce taught me was that there is no reason to waste time to point a finger to the blame; instead, point the finger towards change and making yourself better.  We need to make this better.

How do we make this better, JimOnLight.com readers?  Together, we are one huge body of concerned and informed lighting lovers.  I believe in us!  How do we teach America and the world how important it is to be in touch with the impact we have on the planet?  Even more difficult, how do we teach the companies that make money on how much power that we use understand that it’s in their best interests for us to figure out how to better use our electricity?

Check out the Google announcement for the death of PowerMeter (and Google Health too, subsequently) and the announcement of Microsoft’s discontinuation of Microsoft Hohm.

From the WTF File: Xcel Energy Drops Out of Colorado’s Solar Market

In a move that is less than popular, energy company Xcel Energy has pulled its support out of the Colorado solar energy market.  You might remember Xcel Energy from a story I wrote back in 2009 about how Xcel Energy was charging solar customers who were using their solar panels to make electricity but not drawing power from the power grid.  I thought that was kind of a pretty rude move.

This one is yet another unpopular decision by Xcel Energy.  I find it kind of hilarious that their catch phrase is “Responsible by Nature.”

So back in 2004, Colorado voters passed Amendment 37 – the amendment says that by 2015, Colorado’s energy market will have 10% of the total contribution be from renewable energy sources.  At the time in 2004, 95% of the energy coming to the grid was from fossil fuels (coal and gas), and only 2% was from renewable energy sources.  From an article at Inhabitat:

Ammendment 37 was passed by Colorado voters in 2004 and required that public utility companies set aside money for a renewable energy portfolio. A small percentage of that power needed to be installed on consumer roofs where demand was great. Many companies opened shop or grew as the price of solar was cut nearly in half. As prices for solar equipment fell, and Xcel Energy met Ammedments 37′s requirements, they have gradually been able to lower the rebate amount to balance the total cost, while still maintaining a predictable pricing scheme for customers. The rebate money comes from a 2% charge on rate payer bills.

Hmm.  So what exactly does the pulling out of Xcel Energy have to do with Colorado and its future?  Well, tons, actually.  Job losses are expected to be about half of the total renewable energy jobs in Colorado, which is about on par with the entire number of fossil fuel gigs in the state.  Again, from Inhabitat:

While the solar industry was relying on a stepped approach for reducing the rebates, their sudden elimination has put nearly every planned residential and commercial project on hold. Being a capital heavy industry many solar company’s cash flow will be severely restricted, limiting opportunities for distributed generation.

One such project that was finalized the day of the announcement puts solar panels on the Denver Rescue Mission by the nonprofit Atmosphere Conservancy in order to help them reduce energy costs. Executive Director Alex Blackmer said that three solar projects the Atmosphere Conservancy finalized would have to be renegotiated and may not go forward after the announcement. Hundreds of  halted projects  will result in real job losses for a workforce that today totals more than 5,300 people and growing. Early estimates reveal that half of these jobs will be gone – more than the total number of jobs in the coal industry in the state.

Energy companies across the world: if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.  One of these days soon, the population of the world is going to get its collective head together and bring you to task for this kind of bullsh*t.  It’s time for one of these corporations to stand up and man up in order to change our future.  Profits are just profits – you all already have more money than you can possibly spend in your lifetimes – how about helping the rest of us by changing the future of the planet Earth?

Where exactly is the disconnect here, Big Oil and Coal companies?  Don’t you realize that if you switched to renewable energy sources to push on the market that you would make unbelievable amounts of money that won’t run out?  Even my neighbor’s five year old daughter realizes this fact.

Perhaps we need to let companies like Xcel Energy know how displeased we are with their decisions.  After all, a corporation by definition has rights and privvies like US citizens do.  If we made poor decisions publicly, people would call us on them, or we go to jail.  If you are affected by this decision or if you want to let Xcel Energy know how it’s doing, you should send the company an email at inquire@xcelenergy.c[email protected].

A Note about the 2010 Midterm Elections

Well, as you all probably know by now, the Republican Party has taken control of the United States House of Representatives.  Headlines across America are displaying titles like “GRIDLOCK IN AMERICA” and “THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN” and all kinds of other stuff like that.  Here’s the situation America finds herself in as of today:

Republican leaders like John Boehner are making statements like “This is not a time for compromise, and I can tell you that we will not compromise on our principles.”  Republican Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the #3 House Republican, is making statements like “Look – the time to go along and get along is over.”

Yeah.  Great effing attitude, especially when one in ten of our fellow men and women are out of work.

Democrats are not off the hook here, either – I am an equal opportunity caller of the bull, and Democrats are doing their fair share of stupid crap.  There is a reason that Harry Reid of Nevada SQUEAKED by Tea Party favorite Sharon Angle.  I mean, come on, America – did you see NONE of Angle’s back-and-forth gaffs in this ridiculance we called a midterm race?!  Why was this even an issue?  Democrats are doing nothing that can be considered groundbreaking either.  No one is doing anything.  This is why we are in this situation.

I have a message for the Congress, and specifically the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives.  I want you to listen closely, because the people who read JimOnLight.com are a strong majority of people who love light, lighting, light engineering, power distribution, and technology, to name a few issues we care about here.

This is a short list of things you need to accomplish in my world, you newly found controlling Republicans.  Let’s see if you can “get along” enough to fix these things:

  • Our ever-aging and ridiculously Keystone Cops-esque national power grid
  • Stop being patsies to the money from big lighting monopolies.  Just stop that now.
  • Stop legislating things like INCANDESCENT LAMPS and do something productive to SOLVE the problem, or get someone in who CAN solve the problem.  Legislation is a lazy fix to a technological issue.
  • Get out of the pocket of Big Oil and Big Coal and start getting solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal power running in our country on more than the pathetically small scale it’s in now.  If the military were to say “well, we need this new weapon to protect ourselves from whatever it is we’re protecting ourselves from,” you’d hop on that like flies on poo.  WE NEED SUSTAINABLE POWER GENERATION TO PROTECT OURSELVES.  GET ON IT.
  • Stop encouraging America’s ridiculously intelligent people to go work on Wall Street and in Big Government and start giving incentive to get the next generation of Optical Engineers, Laser Scientists, Lighting Designers, and Electrical Engineers, as well as Researchers, Teachers, and general technology leaders working and fixing our problems.  Perhaps then we won’t be ranked so embarrassingly low in the world’s rankings of education and technology.

I’m sure my readership and I can come up with about another thousand list items.  Just give me a call, you know my number.  America is a place full of opportunity and really smart people.  Give us some credit, we’re not all stupid like you think we are in the political campaign ads you pay millions of dollars to run.

Something Horribly Wrong is Going On at Wicked Lasers

A quick update on this post:  I did receive my laser after  a long wait.  But it took me getting ahold of the VP of Customer Service to do it.  I am, believe it or not, considering ordering a green laser from them.  I have been assured that the manufacturing and shipping problems have been corrected.  So, for what it’s worth, the laser is pretty awesome.

I’m not into libel or anything – these are hard facts for consumers to make up their own mind before they have to go through the experience that I am currently not enjoying.  However, I feel that with the research that I have, consumers can make up their own minds about future purchases from Wicked Lasers.

I’ve been into lasers for quite some time now, and back in August I decided to get one of Wicked Lasers’ 1W direct diode blue lasers from their China facility.  I am putting together a little laser studio, and I thought that their S3 Spyder Arctic 1W blue would be perfect.  Honestly, it would have been perfect, I think, and with the optics sets that I purchased and the laser shades that I ordered, I would have had a nice laser source to conduct some research!  HOW EXCITING!

Oh, contrare, mo frere.

I ordered the Spyder Arctic, along with their Expanded Optics set, the safety lenses (basically a low-power lens), and some laser goggles.  My order total came to $404.89, which was charged to my card the day I purchased the package, August 24.  On that day, Wicked Lasers’ website stated 3-5 days on shipping.  I had fully planned on rocking the heck out of that laser and optics set that weekend!

Well, here’s where the disappointment comes in – and it’s disappointing because, well, it’s a 1W direct diode blue laser, for under $400! I really, really wanted this for my research and work!

About 8 days after not hearing anything from Wicked Lasers about my purchase, I called the customer service center, apparently located in the United States.  At first glance, no one could locate my order number, so a message was taken to have a senior customer service representative call me back.  Another week went by, no contact, so I called again, got the same thing.  Then I went to the website and saw this – a “new” shipping schedule for the S3 Spyder Arctic:

Okay, suck.  So now 3-5 business days has turned into October 24.  Well, I really, really wanted this laser and optics set, so I put it out of my head and gave Wicked Lasers the benefit of the doubt – my order number was #66XXX, so October 24 it shall be.  However, October 24 had come and gone, and nothing.  I called customer service to find out if perhaps my laser package was stuck in US Customs, but once again, the customer service agent couldn’t locate my order number, so yet another message was forwarded to wherever they keep forwarding these messages that never get returned.

I’ve made a total of eleven calls to the US-based customer service department for Wicked Lasers.  I have had a total number of zero messages returned, even when the agent tells me that they’ve found my number, the status is still “backordered,” and a supervisor will call me within the day.

Starting to seem like a sham yet?  Well, it gets better.  Two days ago (October 26, 2010), I went to check the website to see if there was any more new information about my laser package.  I then find this – a new, revised shipping schedule:

The NEW SCHEDULE now says NOVEMBER 28 for shipping my S3 Spyder Arctic laser.  No one at customer service will return my calls.  Customer service agents keep passing me off, telling me that a supervisor will return my call.  Nothing – not even an email telling me that they’ll ship when they’re damned good and ready, nothing.  How about now?  Seem like a sham now?

So Wicked Lasers, since I’ve heard nothing from anyone, I’m filing a chargeback tomorrow and a fraud report with American Express.  Is anyone else who reads JimOnLight.com having this kind of trouble with Wicked Lasers?

OH – then there was this, on the Wicked Lasers Facebook profile:

Who knows what the hell this is about, but what it looks like is crap.  Shipping numbers posted out of order?  What’s that about?  Also, if this is a hack or something, wouldn’t you think that they’d take it down to stop confusing their customers?

Here’s what I know (which was true at the time of writing this post):

  1. Wicked Lasers let me order a laser and accessories that it seems like they have no intention of shipping to me.
  2. Wicked Lasers also took my money immediately for a product that it appears that they will never be shipping – were this a $5-10 dollar item, I’d just eat it and stop wasting my time, but it was over $400.
  3. I am not the only person dealing with this game of poop.
  4. Wicked Lasers CONTINUES TO ACCEPT ORDERS AND PAYMENT FOR LASERS THEY’RE NOT SHIPPING.
  5. Wicked Lasers will not contact me (or others) back with regards of why we don’t have our packages that were promised October 24.
  6. Customer service is a waste of a phone call, and emails are even worse.

 

 

Horrifying Statistics About Our United States Classroom Experiences

This is barely lighting related, but in my current state of mind, I had to share this with you.  Please join me in making this horrifying group of statistics go away.  Does it surprise you that American students rank among the lowest in the world?

This makes me want to f%$#ing puke.  If you imagine this is the case for general education, can you imagine what these stats must be for lighting education?  Holy crap.

Ugh.  Make it better.