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2018 June 13

Romeo and Juliet

This year seems to be the time for Romeo and Juliet.  UCSC Shakes-to-go did it as their touring production to the local schools—I did not get to see that production this year, but my wife did.

UCSB’s Shakespeare in the Park class (THTR 194A) did it as their production, which I saw twice.  My son was in it, playing the role of Tybalt.  I took still photos of the Saturday production and video of the Sunday production.  I’ve not had time to select, crop, color-correct, and reduce resolution on the still photos yet, but my son processed the video and we put it up on Youtube:

There was a camera glitch at the end of the party scene, and I did not record a minute or two of the play while rebooting the camera.

Futuristic Lights provided the gloving lights for the party scene (donated to the cast) and loaned lights used for indicating the life of the actors (a rather futuristic way to handle the fight scenes that may not have been clear to the audience).  Many of the roles are cast cross-gender (a necessity with only 3 female roles and many actresses), including the part of Lady Capulet, played by a male actor.

Later this summer we’ll be seeing Santa Cruz Shakespeare doing Romeo and Juliet with professional actors, which will probably be the best production.

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2016 June 11

Love’s Labour’s Lost

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 07:54
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Boyet with the ladies of France

Boyet with the ladies of France

Last weekend, my wife and I took a trip down to Santa Barbara, for three purposes:

  • To see our son play Boyet in Love’s Labour’s Lost with Shakespeare in the Park
  • To bring him two large wheeled duffel bags that we had stored for him
  • To bring back about 100 pounds of his luggage

Earlier in the week, we had seen UCSC’s Shakes to Go do a very stripped down version of Love’s Labour’s Lost (45 minutes) at the elementary school where my wife works. It was interesting to contrast the two productions: one of which has to travel and be performed for elementary and middle-school audiences with no on-stage rehearsal, and the other which is only performed twice before a primarily adult audience.

The UCSC version had to be ruthlessly cut to fit in the class period schedules of schools, and almost all the verbal jests had to be jettisoned. Given that the play is full of now-obscure puns and sexual innuendo, there was not much left but the bare bones of the plot. It was still funny enough to amuse the students, but it was a bit unsatisfying for adults.  All 10 actors were theater majors, which is not surprising given the time commitment (a quarter of rehearsals, followed by a quarter with dozens of performances, each of which can take up a full morning).

The UCSB version was not cut as drastically (about twice as long with a running time of 1:28), but many of Berowne’s longer speeches were cut to the bone, and some jokes were lost.  The costuming was more elaborate for this production, and there was less double casting (17 actors instead of 10 makes a huge difference).  Several of the actors were not theater majors and one did not even have English as a native language, but the acting and directing was overall very good.

I took my cameras with me to UCSB and recorded the two performances of the play (with the permission of the director), so you can see for yourself how the production went (I think I did a better job of filming for the Sunday production than the Saturday one):

Saturday:

Sunday:

We were in a hurry on Saturday, so we took the Greyhound from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara, making it in time to eat supper with him at Buddha Bowls before his 5:00 call.  Greyhound is the fastest public transit to Santa Barbara, but we prefer the comfort of the Coast Starlight train, even though it adds several hours to the trip, so we took the Coast Starlight and the Highway 17 Express back on Monday.

We had some time to kill between feeding him and the performance starting at 7:30, so we walked around the lagoon on the UCSB, which has quite a variety of birds (we saw egrets, cormorants, and a great blue heron).

I believe that this heron we saw is a great blue heron, based on pictures of herons I found on the web.

I believe that this heron we saw is a great blue heron, based on pictures of herons I found on the web.

On Sunday, we helped clean part of the apartment and pack most of his clothes and bedding, leaving him with enough to get through to his trip home on Wednesday.  He ended up with an easily managed load of luggage, after he stored his bicycle with the police for the summer (a very handy service that cuts down on bike theft and abandoned bikes).

The large rolling duffel bag that we brought home for him was overloaded (68 pounds, compared to Amtrak’s 50lb limit), so I had to rearrange the luggage at the train station on Monday—I’d anticipated this need, so it only took a couple of minutes to remove the already packed pannier from the duffel, and transfer a few clothes to the carry-on suitcase.

One big difference from when I was a student is that he had practically no books—what few textbooks he’d had this year he’d been able to get electronically, and most of his recreational reading is from the web rather than on paper.

We had a little time to kill Sunday afternoon while he caught up on sleep (there’d been a cast party Sat night), so we looked at the newly refurbished library on the UCSB campus. The facilities seem quite nice, but were overloaded on the weekend before finals.  There seem to be enough computers and power outlets, but not enough WiFi bandwidth (we heard students talking about going elsewhere to study, because of problems with the WiFi).

2014 August 13

Junk mail from UCSB organizations

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:04
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I was expecting my son to get junk mail from UCSB, but I’m surprised at how much is addressed to the “Parents/Guardians of …”.  Today we got two pieces:

  • From the UCSB Alumni Association, suggesting we  buy him a lifetime membership in the Alumni Association (they’ll throw in a beach cruiser bike and a class T-shirt).  Now I’m aware that alumni associations are pretty aggressive about trying to get alumni to sign up, but I had not previously heard of them recruiting students who hadn’t even started yet.  I guess they are worried about losing the 20% of students who don’t graduate from UCSB even after 6 years.  If those students sign up for life membership in the alumni association while they are still students, they can be marketed to forever, even if they never become alumni in the traditional sense.

    Giving a bicycle as a premium for joining the Alumni Association is not a bad idea, but it is a single-speed beach cruiser, probably of the cheapest possible variety, without racks or lights.  If it had been a 3-speed with brakes on both wheels and a rear rack for panniers, it might have been worth joining the Alumni Association for the bike.

  • From the Residence Halls Association, suggesting that we buy him a “Welcome to UCSB Care Package” consisting of a sports bag, an aluminum sport bottle, a frisbee, a mini football, pens, and “tons of great snacks”—all with the RHA logo on them (except, perhaps, the snacks).  None of those items are ones my son is likely to need more of.  They also sell a couple of care packages for finals, including one with a stainless steel tumbler, a roll-up picnic blanket, sunglasses, coffee/tea packets, snacks, and a “travel stick and flag notebook”.  Their birthday package includes a water bottle, a teddy bear, and balloons “as well as many delicious snacks”.  This is apparently not the first year they’ve done this, so they must have gotten a lot of suckers customers in past years.

    Now, I think that sending care packages from home with favorite snacks is a great idea, and we may even do it a few times, but the selection of stuff in the RHA care packages seems not at all suited to our son, and sticking the RHA logo on everything is practically a guarantee that the resulting objects have no “coolness” factor at college.  Probably they put a water bottle in every care package because students go out of their way to lose the RHA bottles.

Explanations for first bill from UCSB

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:31
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In First bill from UCSB, I mentioned an e-mail I had sent to UCSB with queries about my first bill. I got a reply today, so I’ll post their answers (with the typos intact):

  1. Which meal plan did he sign up for?  The $5,202.94 price seems to be between the costs quoted on http://www.housing.ucsb.edu/rates for double room unlimited and double room 17 meals.  I assume that there is some variation from quarter to quarter on price, based on number of meal times, but the rates aren’t broken down by quarter and the bill doesn’t say which meal plan, so I’m not sure what we are paying for.To answer your question regarding the meal plan cost, I would recommend to look at his housing contract or he can contact the housing department at 805-893-5513 they will be able to answer this question in detail.

    My summary: “we have no idea what we’re charging you for—it’s not our department”.  I’d love to look at the housing contract, but I don’t believe they’ve sent it yet. Note that the bill comes before the statement of what the bill is for, and even direct inquiry doesn’t get the details.

  2. We requested a student health insurance waiver and appealed the rather arbitrary initial denial (which was an incomplete form e-mail that just complained about the Blue Shield phone number that we had provided).  When will we hear on the appeal of the waiver?  Do we need to pay now and get a credit when the appeal goes through?

    Once the health insurance appeal has been processed you or your student should receive an email of the decision within two weeks. If it has been more then you two weeks he my contact the student health insurance line directly at 805-893-2592.

    We’ll wait a couple of weeks, but that doesn’t tell me whether I need to pay and get reimbursed or simply not pay that portion.
  3. The link to  http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/feechart.htm  redirects to http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/feechart.aspx which just has a pointer to http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/downloads/2014-15final.pdf  Why not just point to the right document on the bill without double indirection?

    No response, but none expected.
  4. The fees at http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/downloads/2014-15final.pdf gives the campus total as  $4,620.05 but the bill is for $4,520.05  Where is the $100 discrepancy?He was require to send in $100.00 with his Intent to Registrar. The $100.00 payment is applied towards the first quarter tuition. That is why he is being charged $4520.05 instead of  $4620.05.

    OK, but standard business practice would be to record the deposit with the Statement of Intent to Register as a credit, rather than silently and mysteriously changing the fees.

  5. What is the unexplained “Contract Processing Fee – On” charge on the bill?  There is no mention of this on the document explaining the fees.The contract processing fee of $25.00 is for the housing contract.

    Hmm, there is no mention of the “contract processing fee” in the stated price of the dorm contracts. Secret, hidden fees should be illegal.  I expected the RHA student fees, but not an extra fee from the university for handling billing. Furthermore, the fee was on the bill for $50, not $25.  Does the billing office not even know the secret fees themselves?

  6. Is there an easy way to transfer money directly from the Scholarshare 529 plan to UCSB, or do I need to write a check and wait for Scholarshare to reimburse me?
    I will provide you a link with the 529 college saving plan instructions http://www.bfs.ucsb.edu/barc/general-information-students. If you wish to pay the balance out of pocket and then submit your request from the 529 college plan in order to get reimbursed, you may do so.The link says that the 529 plan needs to mail a paper check and gives the address.  The check must also include the student’s name and “PERM number”.  The Scholarshare web site does have instructions for sending checks directly to universities, so I could do that or pay the amount out of my current bank account and have Scholarshare reimburse me.  If I ask Scholarshare to send the check, I have no idea how long it will take them—we were warned at orientation that it could take weeks.  So it seems safest to send the check myself and get Scholarshare to reimburse me, as long as I don’t risk overdrawing my checking account.  I’ll wait a couple of weeks to see whether UCSB can process the waiver of the student health insurance correctly.
  7. We were told that the summer orientation charges would appear on the BARC bill, but I don’t see them.  Is there a revised bill coming?The orientation department has not charged the orientation fee yet. I would suggest to give it a bit more time and the charge should appear on the next billing statement.

    That seems reasonable, but why is orientation so far behind on their billing?  They should have known when the bills were going to be sent to freshmen and had their billing to the right department at least a week ahead of time.

    Note that there is no mention of when the “next billing statement” will be.

Overall, I remain unimpressed with the competence of the business side of the University of California.

2014 August 11

First bill from UCSB

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:43
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I got the first bill from BARC, the tuition billing system at UCSB.  I can see now why students give up on trying to understand what the university costs—the bill is rather confusing.

There were CA Res U/G Fees-New $4,520.05, Undergrad Health Ins-Fall $856.00, H&RS-Rm & Bd-Dorm $5,202.94, RHA Activ Fee $30.00, and Contract Processing Fee – On $50.00; for a total of $10,658.99 for Fall quarter.  Assuming no changes, that would come to just under $32k for the year.  With books and computer, the college expenses for the first year will be about $35k.

Only the “CA Res U/G Fees-New” had further details on what the charge consisted of, and that only through a doubly indirect web pointer.

After reading the bill, I had several questions that I asked via e-mail:

  1. Which meal plan did he sign up for?  The $5,202.94 price seems to be between the costs quoted on http://www.housing.ucsb.edu/rates for double room unlimited and double room 17 meals.  I assume that there is some variation from quarter to quarter on price, based on number of meal times, but the rates aren’t broken down by quarter and the bill doesn’t say which meal plan, so I’m not sure what we are paying for.
  2. We requested a student health insurance waiver and appealed the rather arbitrary initial denial (which was an incomplete form e-mail that just complained about the Blue Shield phone number that we had provided).  When will we hear on the appeal of the waiver?  Do we need to pay now and get a credit when the appeal goes through?
  3. The link to  http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/feechart.htm  redirects to http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/feechart.aspx which just has a pointer to http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/downloads/2014-15final.pdf  Why not just point to the right document on the bill without double indirection?
  4. The fees at http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/downloads/2014-15final.pdf gives the campus total as  $4,620.05 but the bill is for $4,520.05  Where is the $100 discrepancy?
  5. What is the unexplained “Contract Processing Fee – On” charge on the bill?  There is no mention of this on the document explaining the fees.
  6. Is there an easy way to transfer money directly from the Scholarshare 529 plan to UCSB, or do I need to write a check and wait for Scholarshare to reimburse me?
  7. We were told that the summer orientation charges would appear on the BARC bill, but I don’t see them.  Is there a revised bill coming?

The student health insurance is a particularly annoying charge, as we already have UC insurance for him through my employment at UCSC.  But they have cleverly handed over the processing of student health insurance waivers to Aetna, the company that sells the student health insurance, setting up a massive conflict of interest and ensuring that students seeking waivers will be maximally hassled.  Since the initial denial of the waiver came on a Sunday evening, I believe that Aetna processes them somewhere in Asia (where it would have been a Monday morning).  The sloppiness with which the form email was filled out (blanks not filled in and spelling errors) makes me dread ever having to deal with Aetna for the student health insurance—they’ve already established themselves in my mind as bureaucratically incompetent, and even competent health insurers are a nightmare to deal with.

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