Umphrey’s McGee Covers “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” at The Aragon!

I just got an email from Jeff Waful, lighting designer for Umphrey’s McGee, about their recent show at the Aragon Ballroom on November 26.  The video I got was a cover of The Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want, and it’s awesome.  Jeff needs to get a buymper sticker that sways “I Am the Master of Pan and Tilt Patience.”

Check it out!

Thanks, Jeff!

Early As F*** Phish Fix – TAB at Bear Creek

Well, I am up early today.  Oh, am I up early.

I needed a pick me up to get out of bed this morning – and since I am SO AWAKE RIGHT NOW and want YOU to share in on the earliness of this early hour, here’s a bit of Trey Anastasio Band doing Push On Till the Day at the Bear Creek Festival in Wisconsin.  Did you see the sick lineup?!  Oh my goodness:

Check out this video – if it doesn’t wake you up, then try some strong coffee:

I love festival lighting.  I have had my face rocked SO many times at festivals just like Bear Creek.

Thanks, YEMBlog!

PRISMA 1666 – the Id of Sir Issac Newton

Have you seen the interactive exhibit called PRISMA 1666?  Well hold on to your knickers, you’re about to see it:

So. What do you think?  PRISMA 1666 is a collaboration between the two firms SuperNature Design and WonWei (which, I have to admit, gave me a bit of a journey to find out exactly what it is they do).  From the SuperNature Design site on the project:

In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton conducted a famous experiment that has been widely considered as a landmark discovery in the study of optics and color theory. Inspired by this discovery, PRISMA1666 is a light interactive installation consists of 15 triangular crystal blocks distributed randomly on a clean white surface. Projection of colorful graphics is refracted and dispersed by these crystal blocks, creating a fascinating visual experience and performance.

Ok, excellent.  Check out these shots of the exhibit from the WonWei website on the project:

It needs to be said that the project was done with OpenFrameworks.  YOU MUST SEE what this is – it is OPEN SOURCE.

Awesome project, SuperNature and WonWei!

Sunday Flickr Group Photo Pool

Good morning, world!  Happy Sunday!  If you’re like me today, you’re preparing for getting back in the saddle after turkey and pie.  If you’re like me and lost a loved one this week, I send my condolences.  We said goodbye to my final grandparent on Friday, Patricia Johns.  Rest in peace, Gramma.  Hang in there, Mom.

A beautiful selection from the Flickr Group this morning – I am always so happy to experience color and light the way others see it!




Pocket Universe

Sunset 3  -  10.16.11

Ceiling Fan


riders on the storm

Tap Kids! 2011 Showcase


Caroline and Maisie Broadhead’s “Taking the Chair”

Back when I was in graduate school at the beginning of this decade, my mentor gave me this book called Baltic Light: Early Open-Air Painting in Denmark and North Germany after I designed lighting for a Thomas Dekker script called The Shoemaker’s Holiday.  The book is very reminiscent of the Dutch master painters, like Vermeer, Rembrandt, Paulus Potter, Hals, and de Gelder.  The Dutch master painters have always been so influential to me, even when I was a little boy.  The way that these artists captured light in their painting is the stuff of miracles – I will always remember the skill of a painter named Ann Davis, who could take a piece of paper and a crayon and draw something that would make you cry.  That’s how the Dutch golden age painters make me feel.

I just saw a series of paintings by artists Caroline and Maisie Broadhead that recreates a bunch of Dutch master-esque paintings that are just absolutely brilliant.  Check it out:


Yatzer (which is a freaking awesome design blog, btw) caught up with the two artists and talked shop for a bit – check it out, interesting read!

Yatzer:  What motivated you to draw inspiration from paintings by masters such as Vermeer, Velasquez and Magritte?
MB: We wanted to find a point at which our work could meet, in researching paintings that had an empty chair that we still enjoy the composition of, was what determined the chosen referenced images.
CB: The way in which we worked followed on from previous work completed by Maisie, where she had taken paintings that had jewellery as a strong narrative restaging and photographing them. I had worked on several chairs and wanted to explore this subject more after much discussion where these two ideas came together.

Yatzer:  Which were the common and contradicting elements in your collaboration?
MB: This was the first collaboration it felt very natural, and worked well.
CB: I have worked collaboratively on a number of occasions. One element in this was where we were both keen on getting a balance of producing work that was both collaborative and individual works that retained the identity of each of us. We worked very well together, we talked a lot, and we questioned each other, negotiated and edited ideas that didn’t fit in with the common ground.

Yatzer:  Merging the past and the present is a constant theme in the show. What is it that makes the show unique?
MB: The past as the present theme is something that came about as a reflection of our previous thoughts and concerns, my reworking the old masters and the old chairs.
CB: The past as a constant presence is nothing entirely new. It is a mix of something familiar and a difference from the familiarity that causes tension. It was useful for us to discuss how the situations in the paintings were relevant to our own lives and to the present day.

Yatzer:  Is nostalgia one of the themes that inspired you for this show?
CB: I don’t think the show is a nostalgic one. I think it picks up on threads of experience from a previous age, and re-interprets them into a contemporary time. I don’t think that any of the pieces imply that the past is better than the present.

Yatzer:  Using familiar and personal things like the wedding dress creates an intimate relationship with the viewer who witnesses the show. Was that something you had in mind?
CB: We were using personal icons, objects that are in our living spaces that mean something to us. They also act as substitutes and impersonations of the objects in the paintings. There was a certain flexibility in the way these objects related to the original painting and to the re-staging. Maisie was looking for ways of fulfilling a proximity to the original but also appropriating familiar things to make connections between periods of time / situations.

Yatzer:  Why does the chair become the meeting point where your works confront one another?
CB: The chairs I chose to work with are all upright, wooden chairs that have been bought second hand, they are modest in their design and material.  They are domestic items which wouldn’t be out of place in a modern home as such they are so ordinary. A chair denotes a person. The designs are controlled by the scale and proportion of a body, and most had evidence of use and contact with bodies. All this is interesting to me. In the paintings, all except for one was an empty chair. This gave a sense of expectancy of who might be approaching or who may have just left. I liked the idea of the invisible presence that the chair gave. The chairs had to work in the photographs, and in three dimensions.

Thanks, Yatzer!  Awesome article.


Baotou Halts Making Rare-Earths to Spike Prices. WTF!

To quote the dance performance students in my 8am Stage Lighting class, this is “jank.”  (I’m pretty sure that means that it’s f%$#ed up.)

Well, that it is.  This whole thing is certainly jank.  The “this” that I’m referring to is the fact that a Chinese government-linked company named Baotou Steel has been halting production of its rare earth elements since October 20 in order to “balance the market and stabilize supply and demand.”  I think that’s Mandarin for drive up the prices of rare earth elements, because Baotou supplies more rare earth elements than any other company in the world.  China as a whole produces 95% of the world’s rare earth element supply, so really other than a price driving measure, this is pointless.

From a Reuters article on the shutdown and the China state reaction, which seems to be actually driving this MCF:

China has resolved to streamline the chaotic rare earth sector by encouraging consolidation and cracking down on illegal private production, cited as the key reason for the decline in prices over the past few months.  It has imposed a national output cap of 93,800 tonnes for 2011, and has vowed to crack down on producers that exceed their quotas.

It launched a four-month inspection campaign at the beginning of August to ensure that production quotas, pollution standards and consolidation targets were being met.

The industry ministry said in a statement posted on its website last Friday that it planned to “strengthen monitoring and inspections” in the coming months, saying that it would pay particular attention to punishing traders and processors that receive illegally-mined rare earth products.

The region of Inner Mongolia in China’s northeast, the source of most of the country’s light rare earths, has forced a number of small firms to merge with Baotou Rare-Earth , and has also been cutting off electricity supplies to private producers to force them to shut down, local media reported.

With incentives high for private producers, China has traditionally struggled to impose its will on the sector. Total output exceeded the production quota by around 40,000 tonnes last year, and traders also resorted to smuggling in order to get round a strict export cap.

What does this mean, really, and why am I reporting on this on  Well, have you ever purchased an MSR arc lamp or bought anything lighting that has neodymium in it?  Philips’ Reveal lamps are made with neodymium inside the envelope, for example, to get that great high color temperature and whiter light.  Also to be fair, there are tons of other manufacturers who make neodymium light bulbs, and they’re great for people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Yeah.  So the prices for those things and thousands of other things both in our industry and outside of it that use rare earth minerals (oxides, typically) are going to go up.  Great.  Fans of rare-earth magnets as well will be well frustrated by this little market making exercise.

I had to know what kind of rare earths this company produces – I found a JPEG list of their product line on their pretty pitifully designed website (they aren’t web developers, obviously, they’re rare earth miners and steel makers), here’s the Rare Earths section:

Yep, Neodymium Oxide is on there, and it’s a primary ingredient in doping glass for lighting.  It’s technically Neodymium (III) Oxide (for all you Chemical Abstract Society readers out there), and it’s used all over the place.  Get ready for the price to go up.  Neodymium is used to make lasers (it’s a pretty great gain medium around the IR wavelengths (1054-1064)), as well as tons of other stuff that’s now going to get more expensive.

That image shows some of the National Ignition Facility laser filters – all doped with Neodymium.  I’m interested but not excited to see what this does to prices across the lighting and photonics industries.

Neodymium is pretty interesting when in glass doping for lamps – from an article at Wikipedia on Neodymium (a cool read, please do):

A neodymium glass light bulb, with the base and inner coating removed, under two different types of light: incandescent on the right, and fluorescent on the left. This demonstrates the difference in color of neodymium glass under different lighting conditions. These two photos were taken with identical white balance and coloration and no post-processing, except for cropping. (ISO, shutter speed and aperture were changed between the shots, but this changes only exposure and has basically no effect on the color of the pictures.) The only difference is the type of illumination: fluorescent or incandescent.

Ah, capitalism.

Thanks to LightNOW (which is an awesome blog, btw), IndustryWeek, Wikipedia, and the NIF

Where’s YOUR Fibonacci-Based Solar Collecting Array?

Back a while ago I got some info about a kid named Aidan Dwyer doing some work with solar power collection. Do you remember that article? The kid, a 13 year old kid, was testing whether a flat solar panel array was as efficient in collecting solar power as a tree-based Fibonacci-sequence-spaced “tree” array that Aidan had designed. The results that were posted all over the freaking Internet were that Aidan had figured out there was something to the Fibonacci sequence and Aidan’s solar arrays based on it. Gizmodo posted, the American Museum of Natural History gave the kid an award, and it was generally pretty awesome. How could you NOT be proud of it?! When I was 13 I was just a big ball of emotions who was good at whining.

Then this guy posted on his blog that Aidan’s experiment was a no-go, and that there was no real way that any of it could be plausible. Oh whoa, Nellie. As you would expect, when the Internet finds a crack in something, the vultures come out and they start to pick. People tore the research apart, hellfire and brimstone and treacle, and yes, there were even some people who acted dickishly in comment threads. I suppose we should expect nothing but the best, but that’s not good enough in this situation. There were even arguments of religious flare.  Gimme a break.

In the beginning before the “debunking,” a pretty good quorum of blogs and magazines (and the American Museum of Natural History, no doubt, who gave Aiden an award and a provisional patent on his design) posted about Aidan’s discovery. They reposted. And reposted. And reposted. But what happens when the debunking took place? It got reposted. And reposted. And reposted.

Did anyone think to check the findings in the beginning before rushing the news out the door?  No, as is the way sometimes in journalism. Maybe we’re just so stressed and in need of some uplifting news about our young people that it didn’t get fact checked.  People called this poor kid out on his shoddy research et al, and generally acted in a pretty demeaning/discouraging manner. Not everyone, not a large percentage, but enough to make me think to myself – “how dare you discourage a young man who took an initiative to improve upon a design he discovered in observation. who do you think you are?”

What happened was the media reposted what they discovered without fact checking. Then they slammed Aidan for posting wrong information. That’s stupid. There were some very nice articles though – people were also pointing out the flaws in the research and data collection, and the data as measured. It’s ok, everybody – Aidan’s experiment was flawed. Now he knows it, we know it, and now he can get to figuring out the next connection between Fibonacci-derived structures and solar arrays. Edison, the entrepreneur that he was, said that he did NOT fail at inventing the light bulb, he discovered 2,000 ways NOT to make a light bulb. Aidan, you keep looking for the connection, even if you discover it’s not there. We’ll only know if you keep looking.

Some additional reading, mostly articles about how Aiden was mistaken:

This is Where Bad Science Starts @ Optimiskeptic
This is here Bad Science Starts @ Optimiskeptic
Was Our 13 Year Old Beloved Genius Just Proved Wrong? @ Gizmodo
Aidan’s Solar Tree Gets A Reality Check @ EarthTechling

Let me point out that there are a few things we need to keep in mind here about this whole situation before I write any further:

  1. Aidan, you are one smart dude. Way to go for having an idea and charging after it like a champ.
  2. Aidan’s a 13 year old kid who’s in 7th Grade. Cut him some slack, where’s YOUR Fibonacci-based solar collector array?
  3. Aidan drew some conclusions about data that might not have been really connectable connections, but this happens when you’re 13 and still learning about science. I gotta believe that there are kids who still think that science projects about how farts are fart-smelling are acceptable science, and teachers give them a grade to shut them up and pass them on. I’d also be interested in seeing statistics on how many 7th graders even know what the Scientific Method is and how many of them think it’s a Matt Damon movie. Aidan’s experiment had real zeal, which is a lot more than I can say for an unfortunately large number of “science” I have read lately.
  4. Our teenagers rank 17th in the world for science, and we rank 25th of 30 countries in math. Aidan wasn’t glued to The Jersey Shore, he was out there trying to make sense of the actual world around him.

Yeah, Aidan was perhaps misguided for whatever reason, he is learning science, and he is a 13 year old kid, albeit a pretty sharp one. But he’s applying as he goes. I am so proud of him for that. Instead of talking about how wrong he was, let’s do what real teachers do and help the world understand how Aidan is a pioneer. Make a mistake loudly, and the world will see it as beautiful music someday. Let me know how I can help you keep a solid interest in what you’re learning, it’s of the world’s most vital importance. And don’t forget – there is a huge consortium of people out there who are equally proud of you as I am!

There is something I have noticed over the last five years that makes me really sad, and I keep hoping that my enthusiasm for science and light will rub off on the planet. Every single time someone discovers something – an idea, a design, a way to improve something – a fundamental flaw is discovered, usually very negatively, and then the media has a field day proving how wrong the thing discovered is on all levels. When you criticize instead of thinking constructively about a problem or challenge, you shut people’s enthusiasm down. This leads to a lot of really potentially amazing solutions gone forever because the world was too interested in proving how right they were that someone else was wrong. We need to stop this, and post haste.  People, we need to get excited about science and math again.  Being wrong can no longer be a punishment, our mistakes need to be celebrated so that we can remember that mistakes are stepping stones to achievement (thanks for that by the way, Dad).  There is a very, very large margin between the number of the world’s children I’ve seen do absolutely amazing things and the number of the world’s children I’ve seen do completely detrimental things. We have to teach by example. Ideas can be wrong, designs can be improved, but we can only improve when we all come at a problem with an honest intent for improvement.

Again, congratulations for the initiative, Aiden. Let us know what else you discover. Now that we know you can, we need you to keep doing it.

Interesting bit of news on where the US ranks in some of the STEM fields here, get ready for depression though.

Do You Know How to Use an RPT?

That’s R-P-T, not R-P-G nor included in M-M-R-P-G. Though M-M-R-P-T could be a new term to use in a lot of cases. In this case, I’m calling it “Mass Misuse of a Relocatable Power Tap” – generally we just call it a “power strip” for short. And no, that wasn’t a pun.

Everybody has them. And most certainly, if you have one, you probably have more and you probably have something plugged into them. I know, it’s a very astute observation on my part. But, are you using it properly?

College goers…Who has their micro-fridge [substitute kegerator here if you’ve made that upgrade], hot plate, stereo, computer, phone charger, television, fish tank, floor lamp, portable fan or heater, or personal massager plugged into one? No need to show your hands. I’ve been there, except the personal massager.

Office workers…Who has their computer, pencil sharpener, radio, heated massage chair, desktop disco ball, or desk ground effects kit plugged into one? Again, no need for hands. I can feel the collective nod occurring. I AM there, except for the heated massage chair.

Home relaxers…You can pick and choose from the previous 2 references and maybe add in some magic fingers for a rockin’ good time!

Now before I put any more great but bad ideas into your heads, let me save you that midnight run to the local super store, lunchtime dash to the local office supply store or weekend stop at the local hardware store. Nearly everything I’ve mentioned should not be used with an RPT. The exception is your computer and its peripherals and your A/V equipment. I know you were all thinking it was any of the variety of the massagers. So was Jim, but alas it is not.

In a semi-surprising manner, OSHA actually has no specific compliance standard. However, relocatable power taps do fall under OSHA 29 CFR 1910.303(b)(2) and 1926.403(b)(2), NFPA 70 110.3(b) and NFPA 70E 400.3(B) which are all entitled, “Installation and Use,” and require instructions to be followed. In this instance, the instructions are written as part of their UL listing.

UL 1363: Relocatable Power Taps – relocatable multiple outlet extensions of a branch circuit to supply laboratory equipment, home workshops, home movie lighting controls, musical instrumentation, and to provide outlet receptacles for computers, audio and video equipment and other equipment.

The bullet points:

  • They are not extension cords.
  • They are not a temporary wiring method. (They can be used longer than 90 days.)
  • They can be secured in place but in a way that shall not require tools to remove them.
  • They are for low-powered loads.
  • They are to be plugged directly into a permanently installed receptacle.
  • They shall not be overloaded nor the circuit they are plugged into.
  • They are not to be used at construction sites or outdoors.

What does all of that mean? Let me help.

  • You shouldn’t be plugging in one device because it doesn’t reach the receptacle or using the power switch to turn something on and off because it doesn’t have a power switch itself.
  • You can use them longer than 90 days by itself.
  • You can attach them to the wall or under your desk but you should use something like a hook-and-loop fastener to do so. They have to be removable by hand and with your hands only.
  • Do not plug refrigerators, coffee pots, microwave ovens, space heaters, etc. into them.
  • Don’t plug them into each other creating a daisy-chain or into an extension cord. Remember that the extension cord can only be used temporarily (90 days). Don’t plug an extension cord or cube tap into them to add more outlets either.
  • Generally, they are only rated for 15 amps with either a fuse or circuit breaker internally. When you start adding all of your appliances to them, it adds up quick. Especially when you have 2 power strips plugged into that same receptacle. Take into account everything that is on that circuit. That receptacle by the door may be on the same circuit as the receptacle by the window.
  • They do not contain GFCI protection. When you put your power saw through the cord or it rains on your Christmas display, are you going to trust that fuse or circuit breaker to protect you and your equipment? You shouldn’t.

Can you get into the argument that only the work environment falls into these terms? Yes. But, they don’t call it “best practice” for nothing. Something else to consider, why do it right at work and not at home or in college? Pretty much everywhere you go in a college somebody is working, right? Is that not their workplace? Then the general industry standards come into play there, which include OSHA and NFPA.

In doing a quick web search for news, you’ll find a plethora of stories about fires caused by power strips. Please, don’t be the victim to a fire because you had your freezer, treadmill and space heater plugged into a power strip.

Just remember, it’s not okay to think that because it hasn’t happened to you, it doesn’t mean you aren’t on the list.

got fox?

4Wall’s First Internship – WHICH IS PAID!

Good afternoon everyone!  I’m catching up from LDI madness, and this needs to be posted!

4Wall Lighting’s used gear division, (Las Vegas) is putting up its first internship for application!  From Wes Bailey:, a division of 4Wall Entertainment, is proud to offer its first ever internship.  The internship will last 90 days and carries the possibility of further employment. 

The internship is a great opportunity for anyone looking for quality experience and references in entertainment and theatrical lighting.  The selected intern will work directly with the used sales and marketing team of and in turn, 4Wall Entertainment.

Duties will include:

-Gathering, pricing, and posting of equipment on the and websites
-Testing and prep of theatrical lighting equipment for sale
-Event support including customer interaction
-Dealing with used equipment movement between 4Wall locations


-Residency in Las Vegas for the duration of the Internship (not provided by 4Wall)
-At least two (2) years college experience (any related major)
-Working knowledge of entertainment lighting products and manufacturers
-Minor to mid-level repair capabilities for entertainment lighting products
-Above average computer skills (Microsoft Office Suite)
-Social Media Competency
-Some physical capabilities (able to lift 50-60 lbs)
-High level of motivation!

Please submit resumes to .  Resumes must be received by November 23rd for consideration.

Yeppers, the summer job hunt begins!  Get your information into Wes Bailey before NOVEMBER 23rd!