Gas station without pumps

2017 August 25

Door locks replaced

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:19
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Today was my day for repairing things.  Not only did I fix the oven (see Oven repair headache), but I replaced the deadbolts on the front and back doors, plus the lever set for the back door.

A week or two ago, the deadbolt on the back door started feeling funny—it still functioned, but the key and the thumbturn seemed loose.  I opened it up and noticed that a metal spring had broken—this spring normally sits against flat spots in the shaft, giving the lock its bistable characteristic.  Without the spring the lock easily slid from one end to the other, without clicking into the “open” and “locked” positions.

The brand of deadbolt that we had no longer seems to exist (at least, the only example I found on the web was a used one on eBay), so I decided to upgrade to new Schlage locks.  Because the front and back deadbolts are keyed the same, I needed to replace the front deadbolt at the same time.  My wife also requested that the door knob on the back door be replaced to be the same finish as the new deadbolt on the door.  She wanted satin nickel for the back door and antique brass for the front door.

I ordered the locks from handlesets.com, who had decent pricing.  When the order arrived, I realized that I had made a mistake in the entry of the order, and ordered a satin chrome deadbolt instead of a satin nickel one.  The lever set for the door was satin nickel, and did look better.

So I had to call their customer support to find out how to rectify the mistake.  They needed to know the number stamped on the key, so that they could send me a properly keyed replacement lock, and they sent me email to print a UPS return label, promising to credit my credit card when they got the lock back.  A few days later the replacement lock arrived, properly keyed and in the right finish.

Putting the deadbolts into the doors was fairly straightforward, as the backset and drill sizes he been fairly standardized for a while (the doors on the house are at least 30 years old, and probably more like 50 years old).  The holes in the edge of the door were just a tiny bit tight, so I used a round file to open them up just enough to squeeze in the new deadbolts.

The lever set was a bit more of a problem—putting it into the door was no problem, easier even than the deadbolts, but the strike plate was smaller than the old strike plate on the door jamb.  The bottom screw needed to be in the same place as for the old strike plate, but the top screw would have gone into empty space where the larger old strike plate had had an opening.

To fix the problem I used a razor saw to cut a tiny piece of pine (1″×½”×⅝”) and glued it into the hole with Gorilla wood glue.  I’ll have to wait a day for the glue to dry, then shave a little off the block to make the strike plate fit perfectly.  I’ll probably also prime and paint the bit of wood so that it doesn’t stand out, though the whole door and jamb really need painting.

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Oven repair headache

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:46
Tags: , ,

Our gas oven (LG brand model LRG3093SW) stopped working a week or two ago—it wouldn’t light any more.  It had been flakey for a while, but it had finally failed completely.  I suspected that the problem was that the oven igniter had failed, for two reasons:

  • It is the most failure-prone part on gas ovens.
  • We had had the igniter replaced once before in a similar situation (on the same stove).

I first went through the trouble-shooting instructions in the manual, which are a very short list of things to check (like whether the stove is plugged in and the gas turned on), ending with calling a professional.  Under “Oven Control beeps and displays any F code error”  subpart “You have ‘F11′” (the code it displayed), it suggests checking the oven gas shutoff valve (and cross-references “Surface burners light but oven burner does not”).

I decided to check the oven gas shutoff valve first, before checking the igniter.  The manual shows where the valve is located, but the drawing is so poor that it is not possible to make out what it is supposed to look like.  “PULL TO OPEN” is not very informative.  I ended up looking at oven gas shutoff valves on the web, and realized that the “lever” was a sheet-metal cam that pulled the valve open.  I toggled the lever and made sure I left it with the gas valve open, but this did not restore function.

I then looked at videos online for testing and replacing the igniter.  The videos by RepairClinic are pretty good, even if their parts price is among the highest on the web.

I disassembled the oven (taking off the door, removing the bottom plate of the oven, removing the heat diffuser over the burner) and checked whether the igniter glowed when the oven was set to turn on—it didn’t.  So my next step was to turn off the power to the stove to take out the igniter.

Unfortunately, the outlet for the stove is inaccessible (behind the stove, under the counter), so I needed to turn it off at the breaker box.  The stove outlet is not on the indoor breaker box, so I had to use the breaker in the outdoor box.  That turned out to be more effort than I expected, because the contractor who installed my solar panels 2 years ago had painted the box to match the house.  Unfortunately, he had painted the box shut, and I couldn’t slide the front down to swing it open.  I had to chip out the paint in several places with a knife, then tap the panel with a hammer and a solid screwdriver, before the paint seal was broken.

Having opened the box and figured out which of the unlabeled breakers was the stove, I turned off the stove to test the igniter. (I labeled that breaker when I was done.)  I didn’t bother removing the igniter, just made the wires to it accessible and tested for continuity with an ohmmeter.  The igniter was definitely broken, showing an open circuit.

I cleaned the pieces and put the oven back together (having a little trouble getting the door back on, until I watched the video again and realized that I was missing the step of opening the door completely after re-inserting it).

So I spent a little time on-line looking for a decent price for the igniter.  I found prices from $20 (on eBay for a generic igniter that looked like the one that had just failed) to $125 for ones that claimed to be OEM (original equipment manufacturer). I finally chose to go with a mid-priced option: $68 from Sears Parts Direct which claimed to be manufacturer-approved (though not necessarily OEM).  I believe we had bought the stove originally at Sears, so it was not too surprising that they stocked parts for it.

The new igniter arrived today, so after supper I decided to replace the broken one.  Because I had recent disassembled the oven, I figured that there would be no trouble—it would be a quick job. Ha!

It did go smoothly at first.  Oven door off, racks out, bottom panel removed, heat diffuser removed, igniter cable detached (and screwdriver inserted to keep connector from falling back into the oven out of reach), first screw holding the igniter removed, and then frustration. No matter how much I turned the second screw (the back one that was harder to reach), it would not come out.  It turned, but did not back out of the hole.  I enlisted my son’s aid—he had no more luck than me. (He did help me find the one screw that I had gotten out—it had wandered half a room away.)

Eventually, I decided to take out the whole burner assembly (it is only held by two easily removed screws), so I could get better access to the screw.  This didn’t help much. Eventually I tried pushing on the tip of the screw, while turning the screw head with a phillips screwdriver bit in a socket-wrench handle.  I got the screw about halfway out when the head broke off.  So I grabbed what was left of the screw with visegrips and managed to unscrew it the rest of the way.

I now had the broken generic igniter off the burner assembly, but I was short one screw for reassembling everything.  The screw needed appears to be a coarsely threaded self-tapping sheet metal screw, probably #8.  I looked through all my boxes, jars, bags, and piles of screws and finally found one that looked like it might work (I’ve no idea what it was left over from).  It wasn’t self tapping, but the threads seemed to be the same size as the remaining screw.

I cleaned out the hole where the stuck screw had been by screwing and unscrewing the self-tapping screw that remained a few times.  After that, my newly found screw worked in the hole with no problems.  I then attached the igniter to the burner assembly, replaced the burner assembly, turned on the power, and checked to see with the new igniter glowed.  It did! and the stove lit!

I turned off the stove, replaced the heat diffuser, the bottom plate, the oven racks, and the door.  There were no problems with the reassembly this time.  I checked the stove once more, and it ignited fine.  I ran the oven at 350°F for about half an hour to drive out any residual fumes from packing materials or whatever—there was some smell, so there probably was something that needed to be burned off.

The repair took me about three times longer than I had expected, and the unremovable screw was pretty frustrating, but I’m pleased now that I got it fixed. And that my outdoor breaker box is now accessible in an emergency.

 

 

2017 August 23

Motor testing

Filed under: Data acquisition,Robotics — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 02:20
Tags: , ,

I bought some 6V motors with mounting brackets, wheels, and Hall-effect rotary encoders from Ali Express (https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1-set-2-set-High-torque-Electric-Encoder-Gear-Motor-DC-6V-210RPM-0-13A-Mayitr/32820157282.html), which arrived today, so I spent most of the day playing with them and trying to characterize them.

The first thing to do was to try to relate voltage, current, and speed.  I used the power supply in the Analog Discovery 2 to drive the motor through a resistor, monitoring both the voltage across the motor and the current through the resistor.  I used a Teensy LC board running PteroDAQ to monitor the frequency of the pulses from one of the Hall-effect sensor.  Initially I had tried looking at the pulses with the logic analyzer of the Analog Discovery 2, which gave me a fine short trace from which I could look at individual pulse widths and periods, but not get a long-term average frequency.

Varying the voltage on the motor gave different speeds, and the speed was linear with the voltage.  The current also went up with the voltage, but not linearly (it remained around 40mA even for very low voltages, and only went up to about 67mA at the highest voltages).

The standard simplified model for a motor is an “RLV” model: a resistor, an inductor, and a speed-dependent voltage source (referred to as the back-EMF).  V(s) = R I + L dI/dt + V_s s, where the speed is s, and the current is I. With a constant input voltage, the inductor is not really modelable, so I came up with an RV model:

The speed here is represented by the Hall-effect sensor, which gives 11 ticks per turn of the motor shaft. The back-emf is about 7.64 mV/Hz and the resistance is about 4.8Ω.

I needed about 2.5–3V to start the motor, but once it was running I could reduce the voltage to around 0.667V before the motor stopped (the lower speeds in the plot above were done by reducing the voltage with the motor running).

I tried measuring the impedance of the motor with the new impedance tool of Waveforms 2015. I got somewhat different results depending on the frequency used and the test voltage. For ±1V and low frequencies (under 300Hz), I got around 3.5–3.6mH+4.25Ω, but at higher frequencies the inductance dropped and the resistance increased: at 40kHz I had 1.946mH+438.5Ω. With a 5V signal I got 5.1mH+4.88Ω around 20Hz and down to 1.62mH+484Ω at 40kHz. The resistances at low frequencies are fairly consistent with the resistance I inferred from the back-EMF+IR model. So I’m reasonably comfortable in modeling the motor as having
V(s) = (7.64 mV/Hz) s + 4.8\Omega \,I + 4mH \,dI/dt.

I may have to tweak that inductance, though, as I’m not sure which frequency’s inductance is relevant.

I also recorded the turn-on transients of the motor. I tried first doing this by turning on the power supplies while the oscilloscope was waiting for a trigger, but the power supplies turn on quite slowly, so I added an nFET to the negative rail and controlled the gate with a pushbutton. The pushbutton connected the gate to a positive voltage and the gate had a large pulldown resistor to ground. The large pulldown resistor eventually turns the FET off when the button is released, but slowly enough that contact bounce does not result in turning the nFET on and off.

The voltage initially spikes up to the supply voltage, then the current increases through the inductor, until the resistive voltage divider controls the voltage. Then the motor starts moving and the back emf increases. The initial spike is very short (about 2ms), but spinning up the motor takes over 200ms.

You can see the enormous commutator signal in the voltage and the current. The current is directly controlled by the commutation—the voltage signal is only affected because of the IR drop across the 10Ω sense resistor I used for sensing the current.

We can use the initial turn-on spike to estimate the inductance, by looking at the exponential curve for the growth of the current:

The current is growing towards 412.5mA with a time constant of 311.76µs.

The inductance is just R times the time constant, where R is the series resistance (the 10Ω sense resistor and the 4.8Ω internal resistance—I’ll ignore the on-resistance of the MOSFET). L = 311.76 \mu s 14.8\Omega = 4.61 mH.

All the speed measurements here were in terms of how fast the Hall-effect sensor on the motor shaft was pulsing, but how fast is the output shaft of the gearbox turning? There are two questions: what is the ratio of sensor pulses to motor rotations, and what is the ratio of motor rotations to output shaft rotations?

The website for the motor claimed “Encoder motor end: 11 signals”, which I took to mean that there were 11 pulses per rotation.  I confirmed this by doing a Fourier transform of the commutation signal (the current) and of the pulse signal.  The fundamental of the pulse corresponded to the 11th harmonic of the current, so there were 11 pulses per turn of the motor shaft.

Determining the gear ratio (ratio of motor speed to output shaft speed) was more difficult.  I set up an optical interrupter to be blocked by a bit of electrical tape on the end of the output shaft once per revolution, and recorded the optical signal on every rising edge of the Hall-effect pulse using PteroDAQ.  By recording for a while, I could count the number of Hall-effect pulses for some integer number of shaft rotations.  Taking the pulses/output rotation and dividing by 11 gave me the motor-shaft rotations per output shaft rotation (the gear ratio I was seeking).  Getting a real number for this was fairly straightforward, but I wanted a rational number using products of small integers, corresponding to the gear teeth on the gears!

For one run, I had 856 shaft rotations with 200523 or 200524 pulses (depending whether I counted between rising edges or falling edges of the optical signal), giving me 234.255841121 to 234.257009346 pulses per rotation, or a gear ratio of 21.2959855565 to 21.2960917587.

I did a longer run with 4811 shaft rotations with 1126978 pulses or 1127000 pulses , giving me 234.250259821 to 234.254832675 pulses per rotation or a gear ratio of 21.2954781655 to 21.2958938795.

I converted the gear ratio to a continued fraction using my pocket calculator, getting

21+\frac{1}{3+\frac{1}{3+\frac{1}{-3+\frac{1}{2+\cdots}}}},

which expands to

21 + 1/3 = 21.3333333…

21 + 3/10 =21.3

21 + 8/27 = 21.29630…

21 + 37/125 = 21.296  = 2662/125 = 2 * 11^3 / 5^3   

The last ratio factors nicely, and looks feasible for a gear ratio.  To confirm my estimate, I carefully took apart one of the gearboxes and counted the teeth on the gears.  I got

  • motor shaft 12T
  • engages 22T linked to 10T
  • engages 22T linked to 10T
  • engages 22T linked to 10T
  • engages 24T on output shaft

This gearing does indeed give me the 2 (11/5)^3 gearing I calculated!

So my gear ratio is exactly 21.296 and I have exactly 234.256 pulses per rotation of the output shaft (with the quadrature coding from two Hall effect sensors, I get exactly 937.024 transitions per rotation).

With 6.0364V across the motor, I got 752.37Hz from the sensor, so the output shaft was rotating at 3.212Hz, or 192.7 rpm (somewhat slower than the claimed 210 rpm for 6V no load). The wheels that came with the motors have a circumference of 215mm, so the maximum speed would be 69cm/s, which is about 1.54 mph—not a real zippy machine, but more than fast enough for a small robot.

The tires are pretty squishy, though, and if I want to use the wheel turns to keep track of location, I’ll probably want wheels whose diameter doesn’t vary with the load—perhaps I could wrap the hubs with friction tape. The hub circumference is only 161mm. I could also laser-cut some wheels to get whatever diameter I want.

2017 August 21

UC salary numbers

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:12
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UC posts their entire payroll (redacting names for student jobs) each year.  The 2016 numbers can now be found at https://ucannualwage.ucop.edu/wage/

I was curious about several things: who were the most highly paid at UCSC, how much coaches were paid (the top four payments systemwide were UCB and UCLA coaches), and how my pay corresponds to my colleagues.

Most highly paid

UCSC had 87 people paid $200,000 or more in 2016.  The most highly paid was Chancellor Blumenthal at $396,866 (though I don’t think tat includes the value of his housing and other perks). There were about 24 administrators in this group, though many of them are technically also faculty, even if they aren’t currently teaching.  All five of those who make over $300,000 are faculty, though only one of the five (Lederman) is listed as a professor, rather than by an administrative title.

A surprising number of those paid over $200,000 were astronomers—they get paid more than I expected.  The highest-paid faculty who are not also listed as administrators are Lederman, Madau, and Lin (all physics, astrophysics, or astronomy).

Although I think that a few of those making over $200,000 are overpaid, the numbers are not ridiculous (unlike the millions spent for some of the employees at UCB and UCLA).

Coaches

There are 671 employees across all campuses with “coach” in their title, with payments ranging from $125 to $3,577,299.  UCSC has 45 of them, but the pay range is only $1,708 to $74,902.  This does not count the 4 “ath trainer” positions at UCSC ($9,736–$43,447).

Coaches are not being paid generously at UCSC, so though I still think it unwise for students to be paying fees for supporting intercollegiate athletes (rather than physical education and recreation, which all can participate in), the coaches are not getting rich off the students (unlike UCB and UCLA, where 53 of the top-paid 60 UC coaches work).  If we add in the “ath mgr” positions, UCB comes out even worse.  A big chunk of UCB’s deficit comes from the stadium boondoggle, but UCB continues to pour money down the athletics rathole.

I’m glad that UCSC is not wasting money at the rate that UCB and UCLA are, but I do wish that UCSC would return to the days when student athletes paid for their own entertainment, rather than taxing other students.

Me

My pay is relatively modest—I came out 430th on the list for UCSC.  UCSC is listed as having paid 12,288 people in 2016, though many of those got only tiny amounts.  Of those getting $1000 or more, there were 10,480, of those making $21,000 or more (CA minimum wage at full time) there were 4,248, of those making $30,000 or more (UC’s theoretical $15/hour minimum at full time) there were 3,580.  So I’m estimating that I’m at around the 89th percentile for full-time workers at UCSC: a comfortable pay, but nothing extraordinary.  Among the professors at UCSC who are listed as professors (not administrators), I’m at 263 out of about 566: a little above the median (the total count includes faculty who were only there for part of the year or who had “visiting faculty” positions, but not “recall faculty” who have retired but are rehired to teach a course or two).

In the UC system as a whole, I’m at position 26,585 out of 141,138 making $30k or more (only about the 81%ile—the med-center campuses pay a lot more than UCSC does).

Postdocs

I was curious was postdocs get paid across the UC system and at UCSC.  The range is huge across the system from $14 to $255,950.  (The tiny amounts are probably not really pay—there are tiny reimbursements and honoraria that get counted as pay in the UC system.)  The huge amount is from UCSF, and probably comes from clinical work by an MD.

At UCSC the range is $557 to $70,833, similar to the range for coaches.  The median pay for postdocs at UCSC is $39,150.  This is just above what the City of Santa Cruz requires as a living wage (currently $16.21/hour plus benefits) and is reasonable for a single person, but not for someone supporting a child as well.

There are not many postdocs listed as such on the UCSC payroll (only 173), and many of them were probably there for only part of the year, so the number of postdocs on the payroll at one time is probably only 100–120.

Teaching Assistants

Graduate teaching assistants (“teachg asst” in the compensation database) are more numerous—there are 1003 listed (without names) for UCSC with payments from $91 to $41,927.  The median pay is $15,219.  Given that the median workload is 20 hours a week for 33 weeks, that is a respectable $23/hour, but it is not enough to live on in Santa Cruz.  MIT’s living wage calculator estimates that a single adult in Santa Cruz County needs about $27,779 before taxes (though the calculation probably needs to be fixed for grad students, as they do get some medical and transportation benefits that can reduce costs, but housing within reasonable distance of campus is more expensive than county-wide).

I was a little surprised to see the variation in how much TAs were paid at UCSC, as I thought that the pay scales were fixed.  Quite a few students got $14,995 (so that was probably the scale amount), but above that almost everyone had a different amount.  I wonder what made the differences?

2017 August 20

Santa Cruz Shakespeare 2017 reviews

In More recent theater events, I listed the 8 plays I’d seen in May and June, and reviewed Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s production of The 39 Steps.  Since then, I’ve seen the rest of the Santa Cruz Shakespeare season and a couple of other performances

Date title produced by
2017 July 18 Antony and Cleopatra Royal Shakespeare Company (broadcast)
2017 July 28 Measure for Measure Santa Cruz Shakespeare
2017 Aug 5 Split the Bill
2017 Aug 8 A Most Dangerous Woman (staged reading) Santa Cruz Shakespeare
2017 Aug 11 Shakespeare Conservatory showcase West Performing Arts
2017 Aug 15 The Night that Never Existed (staged reading) Santa Cruz Shakespeare
2017 Aug 19 Two Gentlemen of Verona Santa Cruz Shakespeare

Let me start with the non-SCS performances.

I won’t bother reviewing the Royal Shakespeare Company performance—it was worth seeing, but did not wow me. A workman-like production with nothing to excite particular interest.

Split the Bill was a combination of sketch comedy and improv with many of the same actors who were in the Dinosaur Prom improv troupe that my son used to act with, plus some younger comedians.  I suspect that he could have been in the Split the Bill shows if he had gone to the earlier ones this summer (this was their fourth of four), but his sleep-all-day schedule this summer has made it difficult for him to do anything involving other people.  The show was similar in quality to the Dinosaur Prom shows—amusing in the moment, but not particularly memorable.

The West Conservatory showcase was a little different from previous years, in part because they had different teachers this year.  The monologues and scene work were quite good, but the choral piece at the beginning was ragged and the clowning towards the end a bit clumsy. There are several upcoming actors in the WEST troupe who are good, so we’ll probably continue to go to the WEST teen shows, even though our son has aged out.  (Perhaps I should say “actresses” instead of “actors”, since only one of the actors in the conservatory was male, but I tend to use “actor” as a genderless designation.)

For transportation to the four Santa Cruz Shakespeare productions at the Audrey Stanley Grove, we did bus+walk to get to Measure for Measure, but walked the whole way (about 3.8 miles) for the other three productions.  For all of them we took Lyft home.  The walk takes us about 1:25, so is about the same speed as walking plus bus.  Lyft continues to be a fairly reliable way to get home (better than the taxicabs we tried last year).

The Measure for Measure production was the weakest one of SCS’s 2017 season.  Although there was some good individual acting, overall the performance was run of the mill.  The lower-cast characters were so ruthlessly cut that they added little to the play, the costuming looked like a low-budget high-school production, and the direction was lackluster.  They were deliberately working with a small cast so that the production could move to CalShakes after finishing in Santa Cruz, but the double and triple casting was not very effective.  In particular, I found that double casting Claudio and Pompey (and clothing both in the same prison outfit distinguished only by Pompey’s hat) did not work well.  I also did not care for dressing Angelo in high boots—it would have been better to dress him as a missionary than as a Nazi. The directorial choice of handling the problematic ending by converting the Duke’s marriage proposal into a job offer (with no changes to the lines) was reasonable for a 21st century audience, but it seems like so much of the director’s effort went into that choice that there was no time to make the rest of the play work well.

The two staged readings were an interesting experiment on SCS’s part.  They were expecting a fairly small turnout, but got around 200 for each of the readings. I don’t have cast lists for the two performance, though I recognized a number of the performers.  Julie James did a good job as George Eliot in A Most Dangerous Woman (by Cathy Tempelsman), and Mike Ryan was good in both shows.  I was expecting a little more blocking and gesturing in the performances, but quickly adjusted to the style of actors stepping up to the music stands with their scripts to indicate when they were on stage.  The story of George Eliot’s life made a good play, and it would be a good one for Jewel Theatre to produce (a better part for Julie James than many of the ones she casts herself in).

The Night that Never Existed is a play by Humberto Robles, translated from Spanish by Rochelle Trotter. It is a two-hander, with Mike Ryan playing Shakespeare and Patty Gallagher playing Queen Elizabeth.  The concept is a simple one: Queen Elizabeth asks Shakespeare to teach her about love.  Many of the lines are borrowed from Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets and are deftly arranged to support the scenes. Unfortunately, there are also a number of expository lines (Queen Elizabeth praising Shakespeare) that are leaden—I don’t know whether the fault here belongs to Robles, Trotter, or both.  It would require a really fine production by virtuoso performers to make this play worth producing, though with a little editing it could work well.

Overall, the staged readings were a good experiment, providing dedicated theater goers some extra entertainment and allowing the company to experiment with some different plays that probably could not command a big enough audience for a full production.  One big problem was the sound.  I was unable to hear one of the actresses in A Most Dangerous Woman (I don’t know her name), and even Patty Gallagher was hard to hear from the third row in The Night that Never Existed. I had no trouble hearing Patty in her roles in the main productions, so I think that the problem was more lack of rehearsal than inherent to the actresses.  The outdoor stage at the Grove does require more projection than most actors are used to, and it is particularly hard for the higher-pitched female voices (and it doesn’t help that I’m going deaf, losing the higher frequencies first). The sound system doesn’t help much, as it introduces echoes before it provides much support.  Perhaps the sound engineers could work on better speaker and mic placement for next year, and perhaps some filtering to produce more treble than bass boost.

Two Gentlemen of Verona is probably the best show this summer, though it is a toss-up with The 39 Steps. The costuming for Two Gents is some of the best I’ve seen from B. Modern (who is a great costume designer), directing was inspired, and the clowns Launce and Speed given full rein (they are too often cut drastically or underplayed).  This production was much better than the 1999 production by Shakespeare Santa Cruz (I still remember being disappointed that they had cut Launce’s “my cane understands me” joke in that production).  The conversion of Launce from a male to a female role worked surprisingly well, even if it did substantially change the sexual jokes in the milkmaid (changed to milkman) scene.  Doing that scene as a cabaret act was really impressive and gave the acting interns a chance to show off some of their skills. All the acting in this play was great (well, one muffed line by Speed, but it did not detract from his otherwise good performance).

Unlike Measure for Measure, the company did not come up with a reasonable resolution for the abrupt ending of Two Gents (the forgiveness for Proteus still seems wholly unnatural), but the rest of the play was so good that one could forgive them for not being able to fix Shakespeare’s clumsiness here.

Bottom line: go to see The 39 Steps and Two Gentlemen of Verona.  If you have time for a third play, Measure for Measure is ok.  If you can only afford the time for one play, choosing between The 39 Steps and Two Gentlemen of Verona is tough—you are unlikely to have an opportunity to see a better production of either play.  Much of the humor of The 39 Steps relies on the differences between film and stage productions (and it helps to have seen the movie—indeed to have seen several Hitchcock movies), while Two Gentlemen of Verona is a comedy that is intended to stand on its own.

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