Saturday, May 14, 2005

More fun mail!

From: TimeWarner Inc.

Dear Colleague:

For several years, as part of our company's regular processes to protect our computerized data, Time Warner has used a leading data storage firm to ship and store our computer back-up tapes offsite. I am writing to let you know that this outside firm recently lost a container of these back-up tapes during transport to one of its storage facilities.

The missing tapes contained company data including names and U.S. Social Security numbers of: current and former U.S.-based employees of Time Warner and its current and former affiliates (and U.S. citizens working for the company abroad); some of their dependents and beneficiaries; and certain other individuals who have provided services to the company.

The U.S. Secret Service is involved in an active investigation of this matter, working closely with Time Warner and the outside data storage firm. We have now determined that public disclosure of this matter will not interfere with the investigation. To date, the investigation has not found any evidence that the tapes or their contents have been accessed or misused. In addition, the information on the tapes is in a form not easily accessed.

Time Warner takes the security of our employees' personal information very seriously and we deeply regret that this incident occurred. We are aggressively investigating this situation and are committed to staying in touch with you as the investigation unfolds. In addition, we have taken the following steps:

  • First, we have posted a copy of this letter, a press release, Q&A and other information on our company's internal (link redacted) and external ( websites, and we will post updates, as appropriate, on those sites.
  • Second, in the U.S. we have set up a special toll free number (redacted) to assist you with questions or concerns you may have relating to this incident.
Third, we have contacted the major credit agencies - Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union - to let them know about this incident. While we have no evidence that information on the tapes has been compromised, given that the investigation is ongoing, you may want to take the precaution of placing a fraud alert on your credit file free of charge for 90 days. The notification alerts creditors to use additional steps to verify your identity prior to granting credit in your name.
The letter continues on for another page with instructions on how to place a fraud alert on one's credit file, and an offer for free credit protection ("The Equifax Credit Watch[tm] Gold with 3-in-1 Monitoring") for 90 days. It then continues:

If we become aware of any instance in which the information on the tapes may have been accessed or misused, we will alert you immediately of additional steps that can and should be taken.

Again, please know that we regret any inconvenience or concern this incident may cause you. Be assured that we are committed to continuing to take whatever steps are appropriate to protect confidential employee information. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
Now why does that not make me feel better?

What does make me feel better is that my credit is so bad that if someone wants to try to buy something in my name, good luck to them - I don't even ask for a line of credit anymore, because the resulting derisive laughter upsets me.

Maybe if they steal my identity and get a card in my name, they'll keep up the payments and improve my credit.

Just no crime sprees, okay?

It's hot, and I'm a sucker.

A friend of mine talked me into helping her move today. In 80 something degree weather, in the Valley (note to readers who aren't familiar with Los Angeles - the San Fernando Valley is always at least 10 degrees hotter than LA).

I tried to get some guys to come along, otherwise it's just going to be the ladies shlepping furniture all day, but no one except me is stupid enough to say yes.

The good news is that Mr. Movie Star gave me the keys to his place so I can use his pool while he's at Cannes. He offered to take me with him, but I stupidly let my passport expire.

Damn. Remind me not to let that happen again. Cannes with Mr. Movie Star would have been fun.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Tape tabs, or the lack thereof.

Did a last minute wrap (production found out last minute that they had to be off the stage by this morning) last night (we came in around midnight and I got home around 5 am), and it wasn't too bad. All the cable was on the floor (which was good, as we were on yet another one of those cursed fucking pipe grid stages), and the rig was well done, and it came up fast (neat rigs come out much faster than messy ones).

The one annoying factor was tape tabs, or in this case the lack of them.

Lamp and cable connectors that don't have a self locking mechanism have to be taped together to prevent kick-outs. We use gaffer's tape (a heavy cloth tape) for this, but when you're done with the equipment, you have to remove all the tape from the connectors - they won't come apart if you don't, and if you send back cable and distro that's got tape all over it, the rental house guys will hate you.

Having to pick at the corner of a piece of tape gets old fast.

Hence leaving a tape tab - just fold about a half an inch at one end of the piece of tape over on itself, so you have a little handle to grab.

For some reason, the crew on whatever this was (some video by some band I've never heard of)didn't leave tape tabs, and by hour two of picking at tape ends we were all homicidal.

It's the little things that get to you.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

In the Interest of Clarity, An Incomplete Lexicon

Definitions courtesy of "The Set Lighting Technician's Handbook" (yes, we have a handbook, and you can buy it here).

Best Boy: The assistant chief lighting technician, or second electrician. The best boy is the gaffer's assistant, and is responsible for hiring electricians, ordering equipment, and generally running the show so that all the gaffer has to do is light the set.

Boned: Pronounced like "loaned". To have something or someone impede your ability to do your job - "You boned me by putting that shit right where the light has to go." or "How's your day going? We're so boned, you don't even want to know."

C-47: Also called "bullets". A common everyday wooden clothespin (the rumor is that it's called a C-47 because that was the only way to get the producers to pay for them). C-47's are used to hold gels or diffusion to doors of lights.

Color Temperature: A temperature expressed in degrees Kelvin (K) that defines the color makeup of light emitted by a source, such as the sun or a filament lamp, which has a continuous color spectrum.

Cyclorama (Cyc):
A seamless set piece - normally permanently installed on a stage, usually white, and curved where it meets the floor. It is used to create a limbo background, having no discernible horizon or texture. If you drive a lift onto the curved part of the cyc where it meets the floor (the 'foot'), you crack the cyc and cost production a lot of money.

DP (Director of Photography): The person in charge of lighting and camera departments. The DP is the ultimate authority on how the scene is lit, where the camera goes, how the camera moves, and which lenses and film to use.

Material used in front of lighting fixtures to soften the light they produce. Common types of diffusion (from thickest to thinnest) are Grid Cloth, 216, 250, and Opal

Dikes: Wire cutters

Distant Location: A location that is far enough away from the production's town of origin that the crew must stay overnight.

Distribution Box (Distro box):
An electrical box with circuit protection, used to stepdown cable size and connector size and to provide a variety of sized of outlets. Distribution boxes are collectively referred to as "Distro".

Gaffer: The head of the lighting crew. The Gaffer works directly with the Director of Photography. The way I try to explain it is this: The DP tells the Gaffer what he/she wants the scene to look like, and the Gaffer is the one who actually determines what lamps will be used and precisely where they'll go.

Grip Clip: A metal spring clamp. They come in 1", 2", and 3" widths. The 3" ones are a bitch to hold open if you have small hands.

A lighting fixture. "Put all those heads in the truck"

Jockey Boxes:
Metal storage containers on the underside of a truck. We usually put cable, distro and such in the jockey boxes.

A unit of measurement of temperature (0 degrees kelvin = -273 degrees Centigrade). In set lighting, the term refers to the color temperature or light and not to it's physical temperature. 3200 degrees Kelvin is tungsten (standard lightbulb color - orangey).

Kick out: The accidental unplugging of a light.

Magic Hour:
The hour of light just at sunset, during which the sky creates a beautiful light. Magic hour, in reality, only lasts a few moments.

The last shot of the day.

Turnaroud: The time between when you go off the clock on one day and call time the next day. 10 hours is legal, but sucks. Crews HATE 10 hour turnaround.

I try my best not to lapse into 'insider jargon' here, but if I do use a term in a post and you don't know what it means, feel free to ask - in the comments or via email (randomblogmail[at]yahoo dot com).

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


My cell phone broke in half over the weekend (no, I didn't drop it - It cracked at the hinge where it flips open. It's a year old, which is ancient in phone years), and I've had to spend the entire day at home waiting for the insurance replacement (the insurance company will only ship to the billing address of the wireless account. Don't ask me why). Of course, DHL didn't show up until 6pm, so I can't get the card from the old phone loaded into the new one until tomorrow. Oh, well. It gives me a chance to charge the new one.

This is one of those times when the economic gulf between me and Mr. Movie Star becomes very apparent - my waiting at home all day for an insurance-covered replacement cell phone has caused a bit of a tiff, as he wanted us to go up to Santa Barbara today (there's some overpriced hotel/spa up there), and I had to stay home to wait on the phone.

His solution - when the phone cracked - was "Why don't you just go buy a new phone" - I'm not working much and I'm trying to get through the slow period (for the next few months - work doesn't pick up again until late August) on unemployment and what I have saved, so dropping $200 on a new phone isn't an option for me, and I'm apparently not explaining it well enough for Mr. Movie Star to understand.

I've never come out and asked him how much he's worth, but I suspect that my annual pre-tax salary doesn't even cover what Mr. Movie Star spent on clothes last year. I do my best to not make it an issue, but this ended up being an argument that we shouldn't have had.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Friday night's photo

View from the top
Originally uploaded by Peggy Archer.

This is a view of Hollywood from the Nitesun.

It was taken from about five floors up.