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One of my hobbies is volunteering for Librivox.org.  (Its mission is to produce free audio recordings of all literature in the public domain in the USA.)  At the moment, I'm recording a little-known children's book by Lewis Carroll called Sylvie and Bruno Concluded.  Sylvie and Bruno are a pair of children from Fairyland, whom the mortal narrator occasionally comes across in the course of his day-to-day life.  In one chapter, little Bruno is sleepy and wants a lullaby:

"[Bruno] turned a loving look on the on the gentle old man who was sitting on the other side of his leaf-bed, and who instantly began to sing, accompanying himself on his Outlandish guitar; while the snail, on which he sat, waved its horns in time to the music."

Anyway.  I heard the tune in my head, and (worse) heard the guitar as well, and the resulting song became my summer project.  Carroll provided the words and illustrations in the video below (which is a rough draft - there's some issues, and I'd like to include all the words in a later version), I sang, and my computer played the guitar.  Enjoy!


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Huz and I both took part in the dramatic reading of Once on a Time, by A.A. Milne.  (He took the part of the handsome prince, and I the villainous almost-stepmother.)  It was fun to record, and the final product is available!  We've listened to the first chapter, and it's been beautifully put together - it really sounds like a professional effort.

From the catalog page:

"When the King of Barodia receives a pair of seven-league boots as a birthday present, his habit of flying over the King of Euralia's castle during breakfast provokes a series of incidents which escalate into war. While the King of Euralia is away, his daughter Hyacinth tries to rule in his stead and counter the machiavellian ambitions of the king's favourite, the Countess Belvane. Ostensibly a typical fairytale, it tells the story of the war between the kingdoms of Euralia and Barodia and the political shenanigans which take place in Euralia in the king's absence. The book introduces us to a princess who is far from helpless; a prince who, whilst handsome, is also pompous and vain; an enchantment which is almost entirely humorous; a villain who is not entirely villainous and receives no real comeuppance; a good king who isn't always good; an evil king who isn't always evil, and so on. The result is a book which children may not enjoy as much as adults. The book was written by Milne partly for his wife, upon whom the character of the Countess Belvane was partially based. (Summary from Wikipedia)"

Download and enjoy.  No, really.  Enjoy!

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Hmm, I don't seem to be posting all that much...

I've been busy!  Work continues to be very busy - I'm in the middle of a spin-off project from the interactome that should be really interesting if the results come out cleanly.  I'm also working on The Interactome Part II/III: working on extracellular proteins that have LRRs, FnIIIs, and other interesting domains.  I haven't started cloning yet (waiting for our collaborators to do primer design and synthesis), but I've been toiling away looking at domain boundaries for some of those 'other' domains - there's a quite large list of the things - and determining whether our collaborator has usable clones.  Yeah, I know it sounds like technobabble; sorry 'bout that.

The past weekend was really nice (apart from the &^#!&%! California poplar tree in our neighbor's yard, which goes into bloom about now every year and which produces copious amount of pollen to which I am horrendously allergic).  We had skating class for the first time in about three weeks on Saturday, and did things both useful and pleasant the rest of the day, including getting the rear driver door of my car fixed such that it locks along with the rest of the doors when it's supposed to.  (Metroid Prime ice beam, you are mine now!)  Sunday we went to the early bird showing of Toy Story 3-3D.  We really enjoyed it - I want more of the hedgehog! - though, like [livejournal.com profile] ladybird97 , I would be very cautious about what small children to bring to it, for the same almost-incredibly-traumatic scene near the end.  I have to admit, I'd really wondered whether Pixar would find anything new to say or do in this world... and, well, they did.  They're brilliant.  It was a little weird coming out of the movie at 1 PM and realizing we had the entire rest of the day to do with as we liked/needed.

What else?  I've started a new solo project over at Librivox.  It feels great to FINALLY  be recording again, after literally months of not doing so.  (I think the last time I'd made a recording before this past weekend was back in very early March, before the whole recent series of adventures started.)   We have an upcoming D&D game with [livejournal.com profile] cerebralpaladin  and co. this weekend.  I'm almost finished writing thank-you notes for Important People who came to Mom's memorial service last month.  There's still buckets of things I need to take care of that got shoved into the "After June" category: dentist appt, doctor's appt (annual checkup), calling United to get into my electronic account info, learning to drive a stick shift, calling a lawyer to formally put wills together... 

But it doesn't all have to be done today.  'Specially since it's our 14th wedding anniversary.  No, we're not doing anything much special today; the New Zealand trip was our anniversary gift this year.  But as noted, I am eternally grateful to and in love with my Huz, for everything he does and everything he is for me.  <3

Awww....

Apr. 8th, 2010 04:02 pm
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I just got a fan email for my recording of Brain Twister at Librivox.  It's so nice to have that reminder of a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT part of my life!

(Yes, I'm getting kind of fatigued/sick of everything, can you tell?)
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For four-and-a-half years, LibriVox volunteers have been making audiobooks for the world to enjoy, and giving them away for free.  It's made thousands of free audiobooks that have been downloaded by millions of people; the site gets 400,000 visitors every month. To date, all  costs have been borne by a few individuals, with some generous donations from partners. However, these costs have become too big.

LibriVox is asking for donations for the following:

  • to cover hosting costs for our website (about $5,000/year)
  • to redesign the site and improve its accessibility
  • to make the LibriVox catalog easier for listeners to use
  • to make the management software easier for admins to use
Find out how to donate by clicking the button below!  When LibriVox reaches its goal of $20,000, the fundraising drive will end.  This drive should sustain the site for the next four years or more!

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I have an online friend (through Librivox) who's dealing with cancer.  He writes regularly in his blog about the ups and downs, the doctors' visits, and all that, on a regular basis.  (He even posted some of the most salient CT scans one day.)  His entries are uniformly intelligent and thoughtful, and frequently humorous as well. 

I recommend to you his most recent post, about his night in the hospital as part of his second chemo treatment, and the music of the night that he heard there.  It's really something.  Thank you, icyjumbo, for writing it.
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I am pleased to report the completion of my latest solo project, Two Poe Tales (title mine - it's two stories that were always intended to be published as a pair).  From the catalog page:

Edgar Allan Poe is best known for his famous short horror stories; however, horror is not the only genre in which he wrote. How To Write a Blackwood Article and its companion piece A Predicament are satirical works exploring the pieces of the formula generally seen in short horror stories (”articles”) found in the Scottish periodical “Blackwood’s Magazine” and the successful misapplication of said formula by – horrors! – a woman author! – respectively.

You can download this short (just under an hour) audiobook here.  Enjoy!
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Huz just finished recording J.M. Barrie's charming little book Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.  It is essentially an extract from The Little White Bird (in which Peter Pan first appeared), and has a fair amount of influence on the film Finding Neverland.  It is by turns funny, sweet, and surreal, and Huz does a great job reading it.

From the catalog page:

"When he is five days old, Peter Pan flies away from his mother (forgetting that he is no longer a bird and therefore cannot fly), comes to live in Kensington Gardens, and acquires a goat."
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- The Ginger Peach Tea jam sold by Republic of Tea is really quite excellent.  (I ordered some for my mom, in the assumption that it would arrive sometime while we were visiting.)  There's a strong ginger flavor to it that really makes the jam.  I can't taste the tea in it, but that's okay.

- There's a free iPhone app specifically for browsing and downloading Librivox titles called Audiobooks.  From what I've heard, it's got a fantastic interface for browsing, downloading, and listening to LV books.  Go to the App store, or visit this website for more info.

- We spent time with animals the first few days here.  Sunday night, my brother and his family (two nephews, age roughly two and five) visited us, and Monday we saw a muskrat and a heron.  (Tuesday we got hopefully passable pictures of the muskrat.)

- Watched the Star Trek movie Tuesday night (had lots of fun as promised by virtually everybody) at the Somerville Theater.  Yay for old-style movie houses with front-row balcony seats!  Though it would have been nice had my seat bottom not parted company with the rest of the seat several times.
     - Adjunct 1: there will be a Star Trek movie post later with amused snarkiness
     - Adjunct 2: the crepe place 2 doors down from the Somerville Theater knows how to do strawberries and dark Belgian chocolate.  Yum!

- My bro lent us the Get Smart movie on Sunday, which we watched Wednesday night.  Apart from a few moments that were Absolutely Not Necessary (e.g. upchuck in the fighter plane), it was surprisingly enjoyable.  It was rather refreshing to have Agent 86 be really quite competent as a field agent!  It was a good choice, I think; it would have been difficult to carry off an entire movie-length period of bumbling-incompetent-somehow-saves-the-day-anyway.
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It gives me great pleasure to announce the completion of my second book-length solo project at Librivox: Mark Phillips' novella Brain Twister.  I've been working on it since the end of March last year (with occasional interruptions for chapters of collaborative projects.

From the catalog page:

“Mark Phillips” is, or are, two writers: Randall Garrett and Laurence M. Janifer. Their joint pen-name, derived from their middle names (Philip and Mark), was coined soon after their original meeting, at a science-fiction convention. Both men were drunk at the time, which explains a good deal, and only one has ever sobered up. A matter for constant contention between the collaborators is which one.

Originally published as That Sweet Little Old Lady, Brain Twister follows the adventures of FBI agent Kenneth J. Malone as he attempts to unravel the machinations of a telepathic spy. His first problem: how do you find a telepath to catch the first telepath?

The novella was nominated for the Hugo Award in 1960.

-------

If you enjoy spy stories, science fiction, and moderate silliness, I think you'll enjoy this book.  :)

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It's a fairly regular occurrence that when attempting to record a public-domain audiobook for Librivox that a reader will have some sort of difficulty or mistake or other audio oddity. These are generally edited out and are never heard by folks listening to completed audiobooks. However, several of the more memorable ones are voluntarily posted by those responsible for the errors. Several of them have been lovingly compiled into a very funny video mashup by Cori Samuels, a member of the admin team. For six minutes and nineteen seconds, be prepared to giggle as you watch entirely appropriate PD videoclips narrated (as it were) by bloopers made by Librivox volunteers.

Watch the video here: Librivox Community Vidcast
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From here:

"OLPC plans to package and bundle as much of LibriVox's content as possible. If you would like to record an audiobook of materials that is already in the public domain, please do so though Librivox. If you have recorded an audiobook for Librivox that you would like to see included in the OLPC library, please see the page on library bundles or contact the curator Seth Woodworth. "

Kids in, like, Rwanda will get to listen to (I dunno...) Wizard of Oz and stuff like that!  Yay!

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We recently finished listening to Mark Nelson's recording of Tom Swift and the Visitor from Planet X. I'd never read any of the Tom Swift books before, and was continually astonished at how much of a product of their time (1950s and 60s) they are. What boy doesn't dream of being listened to and respected not just by his elders, but by the head of the local police department - and the FBI and CIA? What boy doesn't think it would be incredibly cool to be handed a potentially life-threatening problem and have the brainpower and materials handy to rig up a working solution in only an hour or two? What boy wouldn't prefer use a visiting space alien to spy on enemies to America (thinly disguised Russians in this case) to learning about the planet the visitor comes from? Despite the various ludicrous departures from reality, overt sexism, and brief moments of religiosity, the book retains a certain charm. Our enjoyment of the book was aided by Mr. Nelson's excellent reading and character voices. If you enjoy stories of adolescent boy adventure/incredible inventions, this roughly four-and-a-half hour recording is for you.

I received a notification this morning that the Short Nonfiction Collection #009 has been catalogued.  Awhile ago, I told a few of you about a piece that the huz recorded for this collection and which is now available: The Book of Accidents (originally noted by a buddy of ours on an email list; I forget who).  This short (~25 minute) book reads as if it were intended as a parody of all the Victorian instructional books for children ever written - except, of course, it's deadly serious.  From the dangers of drowning to being bitten by a dog to getting gored by a bull to being run over by a sleigh, it's actually kind of surprising how many of the core lessons apply even today.  (Okay, maybe the bull isn't so timely.  Substitute cars for sleighs, though...)  The huz gives an appropriately mock-serious air to his reading, which is the third piece in the collection.  Be sure to increase your child's chances of becoming a properly productive member of society by playing this recording to them.

The hyperlinks will take you to the catalog pages for each work.  Enjoy!

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As many of you know, the Large Hadron Supercollider fires up real soon now, trying to make little black holes or the Higgs boson or something. It got asked about at the Ask a Scientist thread over on the Librivox forums, and Steampunk gave a nice description of what might happen if a tiny black hole actually got created.

He also posted a link to this explanatory cartoon. Even non-scientists are likely to be amused. :)
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Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog!  Directed by the very-bored-during-the-writers-strike Joss Whedon, and free for downloading till midnight Sunday!  Go watch, go watch!

And from the land of Librivox:  Our founder got an email from a text-to-computer-voice service, essentially wanting Librivox to invest in their services.  Hugh wrote the following response, which you can view in the Librivox forums here:

"Hi XYZ,

"Thanks for the note. For our text to speech needs, we have been using a sophisticated model of advanced humanoid biological computing systems (AHBCS) since project launch in 2005, and we are more than satisfied with the results to date. We've found the units to be occasionally idiosyncratic in their interpretation of texts, but we've come to view that as a positive rather than a negative. Many of our clients grew up listening to previous generations of AHBCS, whose idiosyncrasies were similar to the ones found in our current models, and our focus groups and marketing data suggests that these errors tend to provide a pleasing sense of nostalgia in our clients. One extensive study undertaken by our Psychological Evaluations Team found that listening to LibriVox recordings can actually trigger memory episodes of early interactions with various AHBCSs in the clients' childhoods (often these interactions were with the celebrated Parental Care Provision Units, about which much has been written, and many of which are still in service today ... in fact, we are using a good number of PCPUs in our fleet of AHBCSs ). Of course some listeners prefer more traditional text-to-speech technologies, which obviously deliver superior exactitude and consistency, at the expense of the more nebulous (and frankly, difficult to manage) qualities generated by our AHBCSs. However, we've found our niche, our listeners seem happy, and, if you can permit me such a flight of fancy, I dare say our AHBCSs show a certain twinkle in their visual perception indicators that I've not seen in units put to other, more traditional uses.

"Regarding speechifying our web site, in that area we could see some improvement. However, we currently operate on a budget of $0, and everything we do is done by volunteers (even the AHBCSs are volunteers!). If your company is interested in supporting a good cause, perhaps you could consider providing us with a freebie?

"Best regards,
etc."
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I've been listening on and off to Joy Chan's Librivox recording of The Pilgrim's Progress.  It's one of those classics that I never had to read in high school or college, and I'd heard lots of comments about how good her reading is.  I am largely enjoying it, though I have to take breaks every now and then; Bunyan apparently never heard of subtlety, and his lack thereof eventually becomes tiresome.

I listened to Part 1 Eighth Stage on Sunday on my drive home from church.  Every so often, Christian (the main character) does something sort of stupid, but this particular episode took the cake.  He and his companion Hopeful got captured by the Giant Despair and were cast into the dungeon of Castle Doubtful.  This happened because Christian saw a nice, easy-looking path parallel to the currently-rocky Way to the Celestial City, and after failing a Wisdom check and winning a Contest of Skill (Fast-Talk versus Hopeful's Intelligence), convinced his buddy that it would be just fine if they walked on the nice easy-looking path instead.  It turned out to be not such a hot idea.  You also see what I mean about a certain lack of subtlety in Bunyan's writing.

Anyway.  They get stuck in the dungeon on Wednesday, and are left there without food, water, or light till Saturday, at which point the giant starts beating them and exhorting them to commit suicide rather than live on.  Oh, and of course not giving them any food or water.  It's a little unclear how many days this treatment goes on, but eventually Hopeful and Christian spend a long time in prayer.... immediately afterwards, Christian realizes that, d'oh! he's got a key (called Promise) in his breast (pocket? shirt?) that should open up all the doors in the castle.  Using this handy tool, the two make their escape, after some four or five days of imprisonment.

Dude, when you're lost or puzzled, check your inventory! 
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My latest solo project (short, only 1.5 hrs total) is up on Librivox's catalog!

From the catalog page:

“Old Ralph Rinkelmann made his living by comic sketches, and all but lost it again by tragic poems. So he was just the man to be chosen king of the fairies…”

George MacDonald (December 10, 1824 – September 18, 1905) was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister. Though no longer well known, his works (particularly his fairy tales and fantasy novels) have inspired admiration in such notables as W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Madeleine L’Engle. The Shadows is one such fairy tale. The strange Shadows spend their existence casting themselves upon the walls and forming pictures of various sorts: mimicking evil actions of those who have done wrong in the hopes of causing their repentance, playing a comic dumb-show to inspire a playwright and dancing to inspire a musician, nudging a little girl to comfort her grandfather, and playing with a sick little boy as he waits for his mother to return home. For all that their forms are black, their hearts are of the whitest.

Enjoy!

Home sick

Nov. 26th, 2007 08:03 pm
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Oh, and one nice discovery I actually made yesterday: Orisinal: Morning Sunshine is a site with a whole bunch of very pretty, almost entirely nonviolent Flash games that are great when only half a brain cell is working.  You can herd cats.  Feed ducks.  Bounce stars on bubbles.  Be a little rabbit, hopping up bells that are falling from the sky.  Collect sugar cubes for tea.  Help deer cross a stream.  All with pretty pastel-style art and nice (if eventually repetitive) music.  Great stuff for when you don't feel well.
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I just catalogued this marvelous collaborative project (which I also coordinated). 

From the catalogue:

The Golden Age is a collection of reminiscences of childhood, written by Kenneth Grahame and originally published in book form in 1895, in London by The Bodley Head, and in Chicago by Stone & Kimball. (The Prologue and six of the stories had previously appeared in the National Observer, the journal then edited by William Ernest Henley.) Widely praised upon its first appearance—Algernon Charles Swinburne, writing in the Daily Chronicle, called it “one of the few books which are well-nigh too praiseworthy for praise”—the book has come to be regarded as a classic in its genre.

Typical of his culture and his era, Grahame casts his reminiscences in imagery and metaphor rooted in the culture of Ancient Greece; to the children whose impressions are recorded in the book, the adults in their lives are “Olympians,” while the chapter titled “The Argonauts” refers to Perseus, Apollo, Psyche, and similar figures of Greek mythology. Grahame’s reminiscences, in The Golden Age and in the later Dream Days (1898), were notable for their conception “of a world where children are locked in perpetual warfare with the adult ‘Olympians’ who have wholly forgotten how it feels to be young”—a theme later explored by J. M. Barrie and other authors.

Get it here!  Both the huz and I read sections for this, along with a bunch of great readers both old and new.  :)

(Hmm.  I didn't really mean for the last 3 posts to be Librivox-related...)
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Just saw this post by a student at Texas Tech:

A message to everyone who makes this process available. I am a Language and Literature student at a major university and have had to study several works that are available through your organization. If it were not for this group I would not have made it through the material that I needed to read for the course. By the end of the semester I had my entire class coming to this site for the audio files we needed for the course. You helped an entire section [emphasis mine - A.] pass the class through your generosity and we would like to thank you kindly for making it possible.

Wow.

I'm wondering what the books were, and how difficult the particular section was if everyone was seriously in danger of not passing.

Anyway, glad we could be of help!

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