I love voice recording...

I adore the sound of my husband's voice. It's not just that I love him, though that is true. When I was first dating him, I would save the messages he left and play them over and over again.
"Hi, Meg. Give me a call."
The stars danced. The sun wept.
That was nearing two decades ago, and the magic has mellowed. But my husband loves to read aloud to me and the rest of the family. For example, I have never first encountered Jane Austen in print--she has always entered my soul first through the voice of my husband, reading aloud.
This past year I purchased a decent USB microphone so my husband could record things. Since then I've had fun learning the technology. Here are some of the things I've gleaned:

- Good advice on tools and techniques can be found at librivox.org. Librivox is to audio recordings what Project Gutenberg is to books.
- Librivox recommends the Samson Q1 USB microphone (~$50)
- Librivox also recommends Audacity, free software for editing (producing) your recordings.
- Reduce the "pops" caused when puffs of air impact the microphone diaphragm (when you use plosives, such as ps and bs). You can use a professional pop filter ($20-80); a homemade affair with nylons, wire, and repurposed hoop ($0-10); a pencil attached vertically to the front of the mic (aerodynamic effects divert the abrupt air flow from a plosive); or position the mic off the axis of the direct blast from your mouth.

I'm beginning to dabble in the wide world of voice recording and having a blast.


Personal Progress

On Sunday Beth's Personal Progress leader came by to suggest ways in which the Young Women Personal Progress Achievement Award could be adapted for Beth, since she's autistic. In particular, this earnest leader was suggesting that Beth could maybe earn the award by doing less.

Now the Young Woman Person Progress Award is a big deal for a Mormon girl. It is like the Eagle Scout Award for a boy scout. There are a lot of girls who approach their 19th birthday and realize there aren't quite enough hours in the months or weeks remaining to do enough to complete the award.

As we talked about the "value experiences" and projects, it occurred to us that few of them were outside of Beth's abilities. The main challenge would be keeping up a steady tempo of achievement, getting the experiences done.

The leader mentioned an idea of making a cake or some other treat each month to encourage the girls.

"Beth loves to cook. She could help with that..."

So each month the Personal Progress leader and Beth will make cupcakes for the girls who have finished one of the Value Experiences.

Since Beth also loves computers, I created a blog with all the Value Experiences and Projects needed to earn the Personal Progress Award, along with links to the online scriptures and documents when there are suggested readings.

I earned my Personal Progress Award almost 30 years ago, back when the program was brand new. I'm pretty sure they didn't make me do everything, since it was a new program released when I was very close to leaving for college. Even if I had done everything, I have forgotten a thing or two in the intervening decades. So I look forward to doing these activities myself.

The blog is:



Another Great Weekend I'll Forget Monday

Usually on Monday, someone will ask:

"How was your weekend?"

For some reason, I rarely remember the details of those blissful days away from work. Maybe I'm too compartmentalized. Work is work, and not work is not work.

Or maybe I'm just having so much fun I fail to sleep enough during the weekend, and thus my Monday morning mind cannot comprehend the glory that was my free time.

This weekend was unusual because I knew, going in, that it was overbooked. There was Capclave, the local specfic convention. There was CropWalk, an annual charity fundraiser. It was Ward Temple Day. And we had tickets for the 2009 tour of So You Think You Can Dance in Richmond. That doesn't even count cool things that would be fun, like the fall "Market Fair" at the Claude Moore Colonial Farm or fall activities at the local garden parks and stores. It certainly didn't include any chores.

Luckily or unluckily, water eliminated two of the contenders. A water main 60 feet under the parking lot of the Washington DC temple burst, closing the temple for a week. Rain caused organizers of most outdoor events to either cancel or send letters acknowledging that sane people would be staying home.

So life was only chockablock instead of insanely overwhelming.

My husband and I had dinner with a group of friends from my writer group (Go Codex!) before spending a leisurely evening taking in readings and discussion groups at Capclave. The next day I was back, for another reading, picking up tips on doing podcasts and revisiting the writers' workshop.

Then it was home to fix food (home-made butternut squash soup and egg foo young) before driving to Richmond for the awesome, rocking, 2009 SYTYCD concert. As usual, we stayed after for autographs and were amongst the last to leave. We got to bed by 3 am, honestly...

Sunday was the usual opportunity to worship. Being LDS, our church service lasts 90 minutes, with two other classes that add up to a 3 hour block. But since I have "stuff I have to do" before meetings and choir practice is after church, I was at church for about 5 hours.

After that it was lunch with sandwiches that included home-made sprouts (we all decided we like mung bean sprouts better than alfalfa).

Off to an Eagle Scout court of honor, a church youth discussion with our autistic daughter, a nap, and baking two loaves of homemade bread from fresh-ground whole wheat.

Then at 8pm there was the weekly chatzy with my Mom and sibs, including my brother in Afghanistan (it was 4 am for him). Read a chapter from scripture out loud with my own family, prayed, and then lingered around sharing craft ideas and clips from the web or magazines or books until everyone decided 10:30 was too late to be up before a school night. An hour later my husband gave me a kiss goodnight and went upstairs.

So now it's just me, typing a blog entry, listening to the gurgling of the dishwasher and the hum of the computer, wondering if I'm going to eat yet another slice of fresh, buttered bread before calling it quits and going up to bed myself.

No to the bread, yes to bed, so here's Goodnight!


I'm just a Baby

At least that's what my doctor said when I went in recently.

The context is this: I hurt myself a year and more ago. Significant pain. In fact, it took weeks before it receded enough to realize it was focused on my arm.

In the course of treatment, they prescribed relafen for the pain - kind of a kinder, gentler ibuprofen.

Since then I've had times when I forgot to take the relafen, or ran out, or left it home when going on travel. Most recently I went on travel/vacation for several weeks without meds, and I was an achy, sore, irritable person by the end.

I've been taking the relafen religiously, night and morning, ever since.

I mentioned this to my doctor, and he was shocked. Apparently he never intended for me to take relafen on a long term basis.

"You're young!" he exclaimed. "You're just a baby! Only 46!" He proceeded to explain what long-term use of relafen could do. Oh my.

So I've been avoiding pain meds ever since. The doctor did refer me to Capsaicin cream, a remedy based on red hot chili peppers that works better than placebo and won't destroy my innards.

I guess I'll just have to start actually taking care of myself.