Scene from today's voice lesson with the amazing [personal profile] sarcasma  (whom you can hear, incidentally, in this weekend's Essential Opera performance of Massenet's Chérubin. I highly recommend EO based on their last performance.):

We are working on "Why Do They Shut Me Out of Heaven?" which is one of Copland's settings of Dickenson. (Here's someone very competent singing it.) Sarcasma has been very patient while I grapple with the fact that Copland expected singers to just kind of pull notes out of chords that do not contain those notes and it's much more difficult than learning something by Mozart, darnit. 

Sarcasma: Now, because this is you, I don't have to worry about saying things like "What are these words about?" 

Me: Yeah. Patriarchy.

Sarcasma: *Sputter.* Yes. Okay, maybe I do have to worry. 

There ensued a fruitful discussion of the text and the interpretation thereof, during which we agreed that it really is about the patriarchy. So that is how I will sing it. 

Now, of course, I want to find more patriarchy-blaming soprano repertoire. Suggestions? 

I am creating an online copyediting course. The convention of this course is that each week contains a Discussion topic about which students can post on the class Discussion board.

The topic for Week 3 is Punctuation. So, I get to come up with a punctuation-related discussion topic, for copyediting students.

The hallmarks of a good discussion question are as follows:
  • It must be open-ended, to allow for a variety of opinions. Questions that allow for a simple "yes," or "no," do not really provoke great discussion.

  • It must have sufficient breadth to allow for a variety of opinions. If there is only one right answer, there's not a lot of room for discussion, and the students who post later on in the week can really only say "me too!"

  • It must actually be germane to the topic at hand.

So, Internets, what do you think I should set as the week's discussion topic for punctuation?

The semicolon: marker of an outmoded elite or undervalued shorthand?

Who will save the apostrophe? How?

Who really cares about em-dashes?

All suggestions gladly welcomed. Suggestions that actually provoke discussion will be entertained.

ETA: Stuff like Emily Dickinson's Punctuation: The Controversy Revisited is alas beyond the scope of my course. I am toying with a "how do you balance the needs of your author's artistry with the conventions of punctuation"-type question, but I don't want to have to write an entire idiosyncratically punctuated ms.
zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Mar. 31st, 2011 12:28 pm)
I have created a new test question! Please test it for me! 

Here's the deal: I'll give you the information you need in order to figure out the answer for yourself. Then you tell me what you think the answer is.


Trade magazine—a magazine that exists for the members of a specific profession or trade, for example Bar Code Quarterly or Canadian Family Physician.

Consumer magazine—a magazine that consumers buy out of interest, for example Model Train Quarterly, Chatelaine, or Cottage Life

Which of the following articles is MOST likely to appear in a trade magazine? 

    1. Sanding Secrets: Getting the Most Out of Sandpaper
    2. Ten Bicycle Helmets That Don’t Make Us Want to Barf
    3. The Silk Weavers of Exurban Anatanarivo: Documenting a Dynamic Tradition
    4. Collaborating With Parents to Implement Behavioral Interventions for Children With Challenging Behaviors

Most of my multiple choice questions test simple recall, so I don't really need to field-test them; this one tests higher-order evaluation and application skills: students need to know the background information in order to answer correctly (which is why I gave it to you), but then they need to think about each of the titles an evaluate which is most likely to fit the mandate of a trade magazine. So it's a bit trickier to know whether it will work as a differentiator.

I don't know what it is with my relations and peculiar purple accessories. I mean, yes, I like purple. I wear a fair bit of purple. I wear some accessories (mostly shrugs. Yet, for some reason, I do not yet own a purple shrug). But people on both sides of my family seem to enjoy giving me bizarre purple accessories that I don't know how to wear.

First, there was the muppet-tails scarf. That came from someone on my mom's side, possibly my mom.

Now, courtesy of my step mother, I bring you ...A very, very rare and perhaps wonderful thing. )
Does anyone in Toronto have a projector they'd be willing to lend to me and [personal profile] theleaveswant for her slumber party this weekend? Failing that, does anyone know of where in the Toronto-area we could rent one inexpensively? 


Random question: Why do A/V rental places have such dreadful websites? Why is it so difficult to discover the rental cost for one projector for one night? 

zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Nov. 3rd, 2010 10:20 am)
I've elevated this from a comment in [personal profile] sabotabby 's comments to its own post, because I really am baffled by this. Dictionopolis is one side of a duplex. Our next door neighbours seem like reasonably nice yuppies. He wears snappy suit jackets and nifty hats, and goes out at around 9:30 every morning. In the evenings he walks his little dogs. I think she's a fitness instructor or something—she's frequently home during the day, but not all day the way I am, and she often wears yoga pants and t-shirts. She's also very skinny, but more in the way of someone who does a lot of aerobics than in the way of someone who doesn't eat enough. ANYWAY. We see them to say "Hi" to on the street, and they're really decent about my parking my bike on their side of the house, in the lane between the houses.

But we share a wall. And when you share a wall with people, you get to know things about them that you mightn't know if your houses had more air between them. So we know that he has serious anger-management issues.

Used to be that all I knew of this was his singularly ineffective approach to dog training. Around 9:30 or 10:00 each night, the infamous Charlie (the more neurotic of the two small fluffy dogs) would begin to bark. And bark and bark and bark. Then he would shout "SHUT THE FUCK UP CHARLIE!" Strangely, this did not actually cause Charlie to stop barking. (My guess is that poor Charlie barks because 1) she's just a barky dog, 2) they shut her away from her pack at night and haven't put the time into training her to sleep on her own, and 3) she wants the attention and reassurance that her monkeys are there. She may also be scared or trying to alert them that cars! are driving by! and there are shadows! and noises! I really don't think it's her fault that she's a dog.)

Later, when I started leaving for work later in the mornings, I would hear Anger-Management Neighbour go off on a tear at around 9:30 many mornings. As I was pulling my crap together to leave, I'd hear this explosive "FUUUCCKK!" Not like "Oh fuck, I dropped my contact down the sink and now I have to wear glasses." More like "Fuck your goddamn dog just crapped in my $1200 loafers and I didn't notice until my foot, clad in my $200 socks, was well into the loafer." Like there's no capslock on any keyboard in the world wrathful enough to fully express this level of violent anger. The shouting would go on for several minutes, sometimes accompanied by doors slamming, then he would slam out of the house. If I saw him on the sidewalk, he'd politely wish me a good morning, as if he hadn't just been wrathfully swearing and slamming doors not two minutes before. The first time, I thought maybe one of the dogs had crapped in his shoes or something. But it seems unlikely that the dogs could do this several times a week for two years. I mean how many shoes can a person buy before they get into the habit of, I don't know, putting their shoes on a high shelf or in a closet or something?

Granted, now that I work from home most days I have more opportunities to hear his outbursts. But it also seems to me that they are becoming more frequent. He never seems to become physically violent. His dogs do not behave like abused dogs do. When he's out walking them they run around his feet and wag their tails and seem generally stupid but behaviourally normal for stupid dogs—they don't cower, or start, or snap, and they don't seem to have injuries. They're a bit nervous, but I would be too if I lived with someone who shouted at me for inexplicable reasons.

I don't think there's anything we can do about Anger-Management Neighbour. It's not illegal to shout at your dogs, or to slam doors, or to randomly shout expletives before 11:00 p.m. But I'm worried about him, and about his girlfriend (honestly, I could not live with that much wrath threatening to explode all over the place.), and about their stupid yappy dogs. And, frankly, I don't enjoy hearing his wrathful outbursts. They're loud, and scary sounding, and generally do not improve the tenor of the day.

So what does one do? Start putting pamphlets for anger-management counselling in the mailbox? Shout "SHUT THE FUCK UP YOURSELF!" through the walls at night? Play opera (like maybe the mad scene from Lucia) really loudly so one can't hear the shouting? Discuss the problem with the landlord (seems like tattling)? Discuss the problem with the girlfriend (seems like a really overbearing thing to do). Move (dear gods, no!)?

So on Thanksgiving weekend, I wrote the LSAT. I'm not going to say much about it, because it's a long test and kind of boring. I have no idea how I fared.

But yes, I'm considering applying to law school.

In case you're wondering, no, it is not a good idea to start a small business while you're applying to law school. Starting a new business takes a lot of time and focus. So does applying for law school.

One of the difficulties with applying to law school as a mature student, especially when one is as mature as I appear to have become, is that academic recommendations are difficult to come by. I was last enrolled in a class at a university 15 years ago. Most of my professors have retired, or gone elsewhere. I could ask my dean at CityCollege, but all she knows about me is that I generally get my grades in late. I don't think she'd write me a very flattering recommendation.

So I'm asking one of my business partners, and thinking hard about who else to ask. In the meanwhile, I'm going to take [ profile] torontoteacher 's advice, and ask my Friendslists to write me a letter of recommendation.

Why do you think the august institutions of legal learning should accept me into their hallowed halls?


Here's the backstory:

For a unit on Energy, my client requested like a feature that is an interview between a nominal grade 1 student and a nutritionist about what foods provide energy for school, sports etc.

I e-mailed my client and sad "I'm really, really leery of this. I think it borders on prescriptivism at the time when most kids are moving from being very intuitive eaters, to allowing external factors influence what they choose to eat. Scientifically, I think it poses a lot of challenges too, since pretty much all food will provide energy—energy and nutrients and a bit of water is pretty much what food is for. Can we maybe, instead, have an interview between a nominal six year old and an elite athlete, about how that person eats in order to have enough energy to train, compete, etc.? That way, we're being descriptive, rather than prescriptive, and we can still make the connection between food and energy. Also, it's kind of cool."

The client went for it. Hooray for good sense.

Now, of course, I need to track down an elite athlete. Pronto.

So does anyone know anyone who competes at an elite level, in some sport or other. I'm e-mailing members of the Canadian Women's Hockey Team, as well as the publicist for the Canadian Paralympic Athletes, but it's often easier to get in touch with someone if you have an "in." 

So, does anyone have an "in"?

On behalf of trying not to screw up kids' eating, I thank you.
So every few months, I get what I think is a bog-standard grief dream. My dad is alive. The death was a mistake. The funeral? An error.

Cut for discussions of death and grieving. Because you might have something more cheerful, or at least less morbid, to do today. I won't be hurt if you do! )
What I want is a nice, footnoted social-scientific book about grief and dreams.
Something that says, essentially, "Yep, these dreams are normal. They indicate [[something]] about the grieving process. People who experience these dreams frequently express [[something]]. They tend to progress in these specific ways. Here are some techniques that people use to deal with feeling emotionally gutpunched the morning after."

I suspect the best I'm going to find is On Grief and Grieving. The book isn't specifically on dreams, but it won't hurt me to read about grief-not-dreams, and David Kessler and Elizabeth Kübler-Ross are rather the western authorities on the subject of grief. The association with Oprah is unfortunate, but I think I can overlook it. Just because someone appears with Oprah doesn't necessarily mean they're more slick than substantive, right? Also, on his website, David Kessler tells readers who feel they need his books, but can't afford them, to write to him—he'll do what he can to get those people a copy. That doesn't necessarily mean the books are awesome, but it does tell me that this is someone who cares about helping people. (I can afford a book. Or I can borrow it from the library.)

I'm okay, really. I just wish I had a better idea of what the program is, and some strategies for dealing with the sucktastic parts. Then again, I'm just as glad to lack much in the way of direct practice, you know?

* If you subscribe to the theories that I see as woowoo, I'm sorry to offend you. We can discuss our comparative ontologies another time (Or, we can agree to disagree, and not discuss them. I'm fine with that.). Right now, please respect the fact that I do not find religion comforting because I don't have any. I don't find appeals to new age principles appealing, and I'm not going to get exorcised, or channel my inner something-or-other without some sort of evidence-based reason to do so.
Get a load of me, fashion blogging!

Not that I'm especially fashionable—I'm not. I do spend an awful lot of time figuring out what to wear, thinking about clothes and style, and finding fun things to wear. So every now and again, I am going to opine on clothes, style, and accessories. Mostly my own, because I can take whatever I dish out.*

Cut for fashion blather. )

* Also because while I certainly notice what other people wear, and have been known to have opinions, ultimately, I'm not into actively criticizing people. Helping a friend shop for something wonderful, and telling them when that thing is not as wonderful on them as they might prefer? Fun and fair. Ridiculing or criticizing other people's choices? Less fun. People choose their clothes for a variety of reasons, and it's not my job to belittle them for that.
Dear Internets,


I need to come up with a title for a short article for a science textbook for grades 6, 7, and 8. The article is about the strange and fascinating reproductive practices of seahorses (short version: females deposit eggs in males' brood pouches. Males fertilize and carry the brood of seahorse babies, eventually going into something that resembles labour, and the brood leaves the pouch).

Here are the requirements:
  • No personification: we're not allowed to assign human characteristics to non-human entities (therefore no gender-role jokes).
  • No overt raciness: this is for middle-graders in the U.S.
  • Should be kind of fun and cool—these features are supposed to be engaging.
  • Title should not be more than five words (or it won't fit)
Ideally, for design purposes, the title will include the word "Seahorse," but this is not a requirement.

Titles that have been panned:

Seahorse Reproduction—too boring
Making Babies, Seahorse Style—too suggestive
Seahorses: Sexual Rebels of the Sea—personification; too long

So, oh internets, I turn to you for assistance, because everyone here is scratching their heads and looking puzzled. Well, to be truthful, everyone here has gone home. They've already scratched their heads and looked puzzled.

So, give me a title! Do it for the fame! Do it for the glory! Do it for the LOLs!

Mating seahorses. The male's belly is distended.


zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)


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