Monday, January 26, 2009

"Thoughts from the whiteboard"

A friend subscribes to a daily Thoughts From the Whiteboard and shares the occasional goodie. I really identify with today's item: What I really need are minions! If someone else could fix dinner, clean the house and pay the bills so I could work on costumes and do vocalises, the world, or at least my world, would be a better place.

TW does do stuff around the house; he's been going thru seemingly every scrap of paper in the house, weeding out the stuff we no longer need, organizing the things we do, starting on the taxes... I bet he'd love a minion or two himself.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Found a link by surfing from a friend's blog, in which she posted the results of a "readability" test. I didn't like the starkness of that version, which gave no explanations of the results or the criteria used to derive them, so I went to another site and got these results:

It helpfully explains different systems for measuring ease of reading. What's interesting is their phrasing; they talk about how easy it is to understand what you write. It says nothing about your level of intelligence, unless you consider your ability to communicate ideas clearly to be an intelligence quotient.I thought it odd that 2 of the indices purport to estimate how much schooling would be needed to read my blog, but those numbers came in with pretty different results - Gunning Fog says you'd need an 8th-grade education, while the Flesch-Kinkaid index says you'd only need a 5th-grade education. Maybe it depends on the quality of the school system. ;-)

The biggest flaw I see in these "tests" is that the key, or perhaps the only, criterion seems to be number of syllables in words, assuming a direct correlation between "difficulty" and number of syllables. These assessments don't address grammar (or lack thereof) or punctuation (yes, punctuation can affect meaning!). It's completely possible to obfuscate or be unintelligible using words of 3 syllables or less; you don't have to bring out the $10 words to produce confusing prose, though of course it helps. Conversely, it's also possible to communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely without requiring one's audience to know every word in the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary and without "dumbing down" your text.

One more example of why one should take these Internet "tests" with a generous sprinkling of salt.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Maintaining momentum

Back to the gym today for more time on the treadmill. I tried one of the pre-programmed routines this time; a little less boring. One of my gym buddies promised to show me how to use the elliptical machines on Friday, so I'll give that a try then.

As we were getting started, someone else arrived who popped Night at the Opera into the DVD player. Much more entertaining than CNN or some other cable channel.

And tomorrow TW starts a cardio class on base. He sounds like he's looking forward to it.

Another reason to call it Hell Week?

A friend sent me a link to this href="">video. The subject line of his e-mail was "the dangers of community theater"; not hard to see why!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Busy weekend

I couldn't accompany TW to the cabin this weekend because I have rehearsals both today & tomorrow. Instead, I'm seeing a couple of shows he wasn't interested in.

Musical of Musicals: The Musical was a lot of fun, even funnier than I'd anticipated, and well done. It's funny how doing theater has skewed my perspective, though - I found myself considering the various numbers' potential as audition pieces, then dismissing them because almost all the women's stuff seemed to be written for soprano, which I'm not, except for the couple of "belt" numbers, and I can't belt. It's all about me, after all! :D

Tonight, friends and I are seeing Orpheus in the Underworld, in English. We've been invited backstage afterwards by the lead tenor. That's pretty unusual - audience members are not supposed to go backstage! - so I hope no one sics Security on us. However, having teched in that theater, I know exactly how to get to the dressing rooms. If we look like we know where we're going, maybe they'll just point us toward our friend and leave us alone.

That's twice...

Monday was treadmills, so Wednesday was weight machines. First time I've done those in (too many!) years, so I was surprised to find I actually remembered some of the basic principles. Better, I took the lowest weight on most, not all of them. I did almost no arm work because my one shoulder was still bothering me from some unknown injury, but the leg work went OK and I even did both regular and cross crunches. Almost nothing hurt afterwards, though, which tells me that I need to up weight, reps or both the next time.

The Chief was talking about hitting the gym on base Monday or Tuesday (since my lesson is on Thursday this coming week). I'm surprised to find I'm actually hoping that happens!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's a start...

A colleague & I actually made it to the gym yesterday. We each grabbed a treadmill and he ran, while I walked. My asthma kept my speed to 3 mph, but I did put in 1.5 miles. It's back to the gym tomorrow, but Friday I've got meetings at another building and Monday we're off for the MLK holiday. Here's hoping that doesn't kill my momentum before I've got any...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More sleepwear to sew!

TW's flannel pj's are starting to show their age and he hasn't been crazy about what he found in the stores, so he took me up on my offer to make him a pair. The one catch was that he'd have to accompany me to a fabric store! horrors! to pick out a flannel print. I eased him into fabric shopping: first we looked through Wal-Mart's limited selection (though I did get the pattern there). Then we visited a craft store with huge selections of fleece and flannel, where he settled on a print of duckies on a blue background. I guess he really likes the print - he keeps saying we need to go back and get more for a nightshirt for me.

Costume/sewing geeks having fun

Went to a friend's house a few nights ago to help her with a project. She's been working on a reproduction of a Tudor-era "french gown", accurate down to the underpinnings. This girl's so committed to accuracy, she sewed the stays herself from the general directions in The Tudor Tailor. She's already finished the chemise and kirtle (like a sleeveless underdress; this is the piece that has the stays in it) and I was helping her fit the torso mock-up for the gown. She showed me the gorgeous brocade she ordered on line for the gown; I can't wait to see the finished product, especially how all that fabric moves!

Naturally, we also spent a good bit of time catching up (we hadn't seen each other since Pirates) and talking costuming in general. I got to meet her cat (who didn't like it when the project got more of our attention than he did) & snake, see her brother again (another Pirates alum), and generally had a lovely evening. It's just a shame that I had to leave earlier than I would have liked so I'd get at least some sleep before work the next morning.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Another sign of colds in the household

In pulling a load of laundry out of the dryer tonight, I found the shredded remains of 2 or maybe even 3 tissues. Wonder which of us was guilty of leaving 'em in our pockets? (I blame TW; he's gotten so good about emptying his pockets that I've largely quit checking pockets before throwing things in the wash.)

Sunday, January 04, 2009


I've generally been opposed on principle to New Year's resolutions (it's just an "odometer phenomenon" - nothing special to get worked up about), but I'm toying in a very general, very UNcommitted way to maybe possibly thinking about trying this. More a "N things I'd like to accomplish this year" than "N things I MUST accomplish this year".

So, now that I've caveated this 20 ways to Sunday, here's a preliminary list of things I think I'd like to have done by, say, Christmas 2009:
  • hang some pictures at the cabin;
  • hang some pictures in the living room at the house;
  • expand my crockpot repertoire (this one won't be tough - I have exactly one recipe in that repertory at the moment);
  • start dancing again, at least a little bit;
  • maybe start using the gym at my new building (this one's heavily dependent on finding someone who can show me how to use the equipment without doing myself an injury)
  • expand my musical/theatrical horizons, perhaps by attending something new, auditioning for something I think I might not like, or learning a new tech skill.

Now to see whether I remember to check back on this during the year, especially come December.

New phase of life for a new year

The Chief retired (again - this time as a civilian) as of 31 December. He spent a fair amount of time this weekend doing his "I'm retired!!!" dance and gloating in song about no longer needing to iron shirts, lay out his things the night before, or get up by 5 a.m. to go to work. I'm sympathetic - I may well have my own happy dance when I can retire - but given that I do have to lay out my things tonight and set my alarm for 0530 and go back to racing rats tomorrow, I'm finding that ongoing celebration is starting to wear just a teensy bit thin... ;-)

Another believer

The Chief had his first massage over the weekend (he'd been complaining of neck problems so long that he actually acquiesced when I urged him to try a massage). The therapist I recommended has worked with an orthopedist for years, which I think reassured him that this wasn't some New Age, hippie-dippie pseudo-therapy. He now understands why I try to get a massage whenever I can (which unfortunately is rarely more than a few times a year) - he's still marveling at how much looser his neck feels, and has already booked his next massage. Yes, I'd say he's been convinced.