VocaliD: In studio

Hello from Soundscapes studio! Vid quality is ew.

I’m so excited! I love the folks at Soundscapes and the opportunity to work in studio is a fun change of pace from my day job, other hobbies, and volunteer activities. I’m not a professional voice actor, but fortunately I don’t have to be!

The process is easy. Phrases pop up on the screen, I click the record button, say the phrase, click stop and voila. Next phrase. It’s self-regulated, not timed, and I can do as many retakes as I like.

Microphone and computer

SAY WHAT? I soon realize the phrases are out of context so I don’t know how to deliver them. For example, “Walk the dog for exercise.” Do I emphasize WALK to indicate that the dog should be walked instead of run? Or EXERCISE because the purpose of the dog’s walk is not just to poop or pee? Am I saying it pleasantly, or am I saying it to someone who has been asked many times and I’m annoyed?

I decide not to read too much (ha, no pun intended) and go with the first take. I re-record only if I mispronounce or lack clarity. I figure the creators of the program know what they are doing and can parse the sounds for their purposes.

IMG_5285To avoid vocal fatigue, I end the session after 20 minutes. I’ll do a total of 3-4 hours of speech. I feel energized and happy. And who doesn’t love the chance to visit with Karen C and the crew at Soundscapes!

Thanks, Soundscapes for hosting the voice drive for VOCALiD!

SSC-Logo_Small_Bell copy

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VOCALiD – giving voice to the voiceless

What if you lost your voice, through disease or trauma? Now imagine having a computerized voice–like Siri or the voice that comes from the device that Stephen Hawking uses.

My beautiful friend Karen works at Soundscapes, a local audio production company that is offering their recording services for a project called VOCALiD … a project that is taking voices from those who can speak and creating CUSTOMIZED voices for those who don’t have them. HOW COOL IS THAT!?!?!?!

“Each one of us has a unique voiceprint. Yet, until now, millions of people who rely on computerized speech to communicate have been given uniform voices. Voices that don’t fit their bodies or their personalities. We wouldn’t dream of fitting a little girl with the prosthetic limb of a grown man, so, why then the same prosthetic voice? ” –VocaliD

VOCALiD is building The Human Voicebank, “a crowdsourced initiative to gather the world’s largest collection of standardized speech recordings from English speakers of all ages and backgrounds.” I jumped at the chance to volunteer to record my voice. I’m not a professional vocal actor, but what an opportunity!

More to come. :)

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Don’t be scared: Jicama

I’ve recently become a huge fan of jicama because I can nibble on it raw and have a satisfying crunchy, slightly sweet snack with almost no calories, and no added sugar or salt. It’s relatively inexpensive ($1 each) for what you get.

So what the heck is a jicama? And how do you say the word? First, the pronunciation:

Jicama is a vegetable…the root of the Mexican yam or turnip plant. In the store, it looks like a huge potato, with a tough outer skin that you peel off. I like to use a vegetable peeler.

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Jicama partially peeled.

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Peelings in sink. Compost those suckers!

It can be cumbersome and slippery but persevere.  Then cut into matchsticks (julienne for you fancy folk…here’s a tutorial) or cubed, based on what you want to do with it.

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I have been known to pick up one of these rounds and nibble on it.

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Matchsticks. I don’t cut off the rounded edges. Wasted jicama!

I like it raw. Alone or as a carrier for salsa or almond butter. It’s the main ingredient in the jicama mango salad I posted here. I also diced it, tossed with a smidge of salt and fresh mint as a side to lamb. I bet it would be good in fish tacos. Or as a coleslaw-type garnish for pork. YUMO!

Have you tried jicama? What other recipes or uses do you recommend?

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Don’t be scared: Chickpea “tabbouleh”

DANGIT IT IS HOT. Last thing I want to do is to fire up the stove, oven, or grill. So here’s dinner tonight. Super snaps to THUG KITCHEN and Mark Bittman for the inspiration. Lordamercy that site cracks me up. Warning: if profanity offends, you don’t want to click on this link. Seriously. Don’t do it. There. You’ve been warned. Ok now the recipe. Oh wait, if you’re gluten-free, dairy-free but not taste-free, this is for you.

Katie’s ThuggishBitt Chickpea & Quinoa Salad

Combine the following ingredients in a large bowl and chill for a few hours to let flavors develop. Eat. Also good in a tortilla with sliced avocado. If you are one who feels that s/he must have MEAT, add pre-cooked chicken or tuna because, again, I’m not turning on the stove.

  • 2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), or cooked from scratch
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped (I like 3 large plum tomatoes, seeds mostly removed)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-5 radishes, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley (1/2 a big bunch; I like flat-leaf Italian-style)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint (2 handfuls of leaves)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of 3 lemons)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped green onions (optional)
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Crunchalicious salad

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Photo: food network

JICAMA MANGO SALAD I had this at a local restaurant as a side to fish tacos and it made my mouth so happy! Sweet and crispy and refreshing. Reminded me of coleslaw but muuuuuuch better. The recipe I did had 4 ingredients: 1 jicama, 2 mangos, lime juice, cilantro. Oh and a dusting of kosher salt.

But what the heck was JICAMA? Had to look it up. Pronounced HIH-kuh-muh. It’s a root veggie. Mexican yam. Kinda like a big potato.

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Photo: the energized body

By itself, it has the same crunch as a crisp apple, but not as sweet. It was hard not to snack on the sliced jicama by itself so that it would all go into the recipe. :-) The hardest part of this recipe is peeling and slicing the jicama, so get yourself a nice veggie peeler and a sharp knife. Peel the outer brown part, then slice into matchsticks.

Peel and dice the mangos. Mine were super ripe so they got a little mushy but I didn’t care. (I also like to suck/nibble the pit of the mango to get all the delicious flesh my knife couldn’t.)

Toss the jicama slices and mangos with juice of 2 limes and a bunch (literally, I used the entire bunch) of cilantro. Season with salt to taste. Other recipes I saw added cucumbers, or red peppers, or dried chiles. I kept mine simple but may experiment later.

Let me know if you try it!

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On the in between after creating a void

beta.edm.me

Credit: beta.edm.me

So…this past weekend, Christians commemorated Jesus’ murder and subsequent coming back from the dead.

(If you don’t hold these beliefs, I invite you to resist the urge to click away. This post is not a meditation on Easter, but rather on what I call the “in between.”)

Jesus’ disciples lived through long, anguished hours between those two events. They didn’t know the events of Sunday would happen. All they knew is that their beloved friend and leader was GONE, the target of political and religious hatred. They could be next. They huddled in fear. They were left with a void. No direction (although had they listened to Jesus, they had some clues).

I have experienced similar times, when voids were created in my life. Losing a job. Receiving an infertility diagnoses.

And then there are times when I intentionally create some voids.

I created one in spring of 2014 that involved letting go of someone very special in my life. I knew the time had come to separate, as much as I loved (and still do love) her. I didn’t have any other love interests. Going solo wasn’t fun. It created a void. That was scary and lonely.

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yoko fukase, izu, 1973

A year later, I am creating more voids. I’m in the process of not renewing two large volunteer commitments. I know the time has come to separate, as much as I love these organizations and their activities. Here, going solo feels not so scary. It feels exciting. Like a child looking forward to Christmas to see what lovely surprises she finds under the tree.

Credit: generation-impact

Credit: generation-impact

Creating a void can assist others, as well. I explained to my fellow volunteers: “It’s not good for a group or organization to have the same leadership for too long. It’s time for me to create a void so that other people, and the organization, can flourish.” (hm…new thought…several disciples stepped it up a notch after Jesus was gone after the Ascension. And here’s an interesting article about knowing when to step down.)

In a few months, I will celebrate a year being in an intimate relationship with the woman I consider to be my life partner. I may not have connected with her had I not created space.

I look forward to seeing what other activities present themselves now that I am creating the void in my schedule.

What voids could you create, or are you creating, to make room in your life for something, or someone, new?

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Right to Work v At Will

Thanks to an alert reader, I learned that the phrase I wanted to use in this post was “at will” employer. Thank you PL!

“Arkansas is in fact a right to work state which simply means you do not have to join a union or pay dues unless you join one. The term you meant to use is “At Will” which is determined by the employer. The State chooses to be an At Will employer. The result you noted is accurate but it’s because the state government is an At Will employer.”

I plan to read these later. Right to Work States: Arkansas      At Will: Arkansas

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