Monday, October 31, 2016

Music Monday: Wicked

True Fact: as a strict rule, I do not watch any movies scarier than those involving the Witch of the West.

Defying Gravity

For Good


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Friday, October 28, 2016

From The Choir Loft: Change Ringing Edition

This Week:

We laid out the Christmas-season Choose Your Own Choir Adventure options:

1. All-season Sunday Morning Sanctuary Choir
 Commitment: Choir rehersal from 6:30-8:30 Wednesday nights

2. Christmas Concert Dec 11th only
Commitment: First half of Wednesday rehersals

3. Christmas EVE choir
Commitment: a couple fun and festive! rehersals between 12/18 and 12/24

4. New! Everybody Loves Handel - One Sunday Only, Dec 18th performance of "For Unto Us"
Commitment: One! Dec 14th Wenesday rehersal

Fun Facts:

Two words -- Change. Ringing.

If you missed the live-action reinactment demonstrated by M Dodds, you Missed Out!

Dig the propaganda from the North American Guild of Change Ringers:
Change Ringing is . . .
A team sport
A musical performance
An antique art &
A demanding pattern-based exercise. . . All at once! 
Basically, change ringing is what you get with Math Combinatorics + Church Bells -- Playing the bells in different permutations, as determined by how long it takes each bell to reset after it's pulled.

In case you were wondering, the closest bell towers are Hendersonville and Raleigh, which seems a gross oversight by the City of Arts and Innovation.

(Apparently Wait Chapel doesn't count because you can play the bells with a keyboard. The Bok Tower Carillon is in the same boat..)

Change Ringing at the National Cathedral

In-depth Explanation of the Math Involved

Really Fun Example With Handbells


This Sunday, we're working on a challenging, pentatonic version of The Lord Is My Shephard (Rutter), with a great oboe part.

In Seriousness:

2016 had been a difficult year in this state, country and planet we call earth. It's also been a difficult year for many dear and faithful members of First Pres.

I am grateful for a church that shares their honest lives in the prayer list. At a big church, with multiple services, where you might not know half the people by sight, it unites us in prayer for each other.

And makes suffering, sorrow, pain, illness, less lonely to know the folks who might seem like they have it all together on Sunday morning are dealing the real things of life just like you are.

It is the anti-facebook. The real stuff of life that we need to share and bear with each other, in order to be a community that cares for each other.

And I am so incredibly grateful for this church choir. As a community within the church, it is more like a small-group, or a Sunday School class. Only, more diverse, I would argue, than any other group you'll find.

As a single girl without kids, and a smidge too old to be a 'young adult' there aren't that many places that I fit. So I especially love church groups that are activity-based, united on a shared interest instead of life-stage.

And choir has been an overflowing blessing of community. Not all church choirs are like this, of course, but I am so grateful mine is. A community to share with, rejoice with, laugh with, worship with, pray with.

God knew so well that I would need this community and I would wish such a group for anyone wanting to find the place where they 'fit' in their community of faith.

Wherever you go, God is sending you.

More From The Choir Loft

Friday Five: Baseball Movies

In honor of the 2016 Cubs vs Cleveland World Series.....

Baseball is a far third in my book, behind basketball and football, but live games, even especially minor league games, are always lots of fun.

Was trying to remember how many ballparks we were able to hit for family vacations... The Florida Wildcat will have to confirm.

But possibly: San Francisco, Chicago, Kansas City, Boston, New York, Atlanta, Toronto, Detroit(?), Baltimore(?), Philly(?), Cleveland(?), Tampa(?), Oakland*
*Technically not a game -- it was during the strike, and we sort-of snuck on the field...

This year's World Series features teams from Major League and Rookie of the Year. Here are a few other good ones, though I can't imagine where you'd find the time with football in full swing and basketball season about to start....

Five Baseball Movies

1. Baseball Documentary by Ken Burns

2. Field of Dreams

3. Moneyball

4. The Natural

5. The Sandlot

More Friday Fives

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

MinM: A Wishlist for Doctor Appointments

My wishlist for Dr offices is long and growing.. here are a few of the (mostly) easy things that would make my many appointments much easier.

- Truly, I wish that there were not multiple stations to deal with to get back to the office. I get that it's partly psychological -- to take up time so it doesn't seem like such a long wait.

But here's the thing. I (clearly) have mobility issues, and being an aspiring e-patient, I do not usually arrive at the doctor's empty handed.

So it's actually a pretty frustrating and tiring burden to jump through the multiple stations for check-in and weight and blood pressure...

So first on the wishlist would be an alternative workflow for those of us that have a hard time getting around.

But if we assume that there are still stations of some kind, I would love to see:

- Shelf and Coat Hook for cellphone and purse or totebag.

I'm not one of those people who feels the need to shed layers and footwear for the scale, but there is almost never a place to put my bag and cellphone down, so they wind up on the floor, or the poor nurse winds up trying to juggle it along with their clipboard...

Very simple solution: a wall hook and a shelf next to the scale.


- Cane/walking stick storage

Whether it's at the check-in circuit, or sitting in the exam room, there's not a good place put my walking sticks or crutches. They are in the way, and awkward, and if I try to prop them up on a wall they fall over. It's frustrating and distracting. I'd love a place to put them so I don't have to keep watch over whether they're about to fall or trip someone up.

Full disclosure, I have no idea if these mop grippers are the right size for most canes, crutches, or walking sticks, but I'm definitely going to give them a test-run in my entrance hall.

- Chair at the Reception Desk

The initial check-in process is not always smooth, and after waiting in line it is crazy hard to stand up for an entire conversation and wait for the computer to catch up and get the right forms turned in and everything. My kingdom for a chair.

- Outline/Agenda

I've had the opportunity to visit more than 20 medical providers over the past 3 years, and there's a certain amount of psychology that goes into preparing for a visit. Different doctors like to run appointments in completely different ways. Which makes sense. We are different people, who take in information differently, and use different strategies to organize relevant info and come up with the best solution.

But this puts a big burden on a (presumably ill) patient to understand and adapt to each doctor's 'learning style'.

I would love for my doctors to ditch the long, specific checklists that usually don't have my specific issues listed (and very little room for other answers).

Instead I would love to see a very open-ended, one page form that gives more structure to the appointment. Like: 'What's changed since the last appointment?' and Quality of Life stuff, like 'What daily activities give you the most trouble?'... Now that I'm thinking about it, expect a separate post on this topic.

It could also include info like where to find helpful resources. Patients are a captive audience while they wait, use the time well.

- Easier check-in process

This is a dream-big type of scenario, but if we're talking about tech that actually improves life for everyone:

- Text message appointment reminders that allow me to confirm or cancel the appointment with a text. (Kudos to the local offices that are already doing this!)

- Text message if appointments are running more than 30 minutes behind schedule, and give me the option to reschedule if I need to.

- Kiosk check-in that actually checks you in.

A local office claims to have this but it actually is just a glorified 'take a number' situation which is more than annoying.

Side note: This office also started a high-tech tagging system, where they give you an rfid bracelet when you check-in so they can track you.

Except this has added to the check-in time, and now if you get to an appointment 20 minutes early, you are likely to still be 'late' to the appointment (cutting into your appointment time) because it takes so long to jump through the hoops.

I finally gave up one day and just walked straight back. Chaos and catastrophe! as everyone was shocked! I could just choose to bypass their elaborate technology. I thoroughly enjoyed it, I'm not going to lie.

(It worked because the providers are religiously on-schedule, and always at the same station. Wouldn't have been able to pull it off in a normal office.)

Those are just some of the small things that I thought about while at my last appointment. What are the things that frustrate you when navigating medical appointments?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Music Monday: Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan

Today's Music Monday honors the most recent recipient for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Controversial pick? meh. Still nothing compared to what happened when he dared to plug in his guitar..

He hasn't released a response (yet?), but this speech from a few years ago might be some of what he'd say about it:

These songs didn't come out of thin air. I didn't just make them up out of whole cloth. Contrary to what Lou Levy said, there was a precedent. It all came out of traditional music: traditional folk music, traditional rock & roll and traditional big-band swing orchestra music. songs seem to divide people. Even people in the music community.
Critics have said that I've made a career out of confounding expectations. Really? Because that's all I do? That's how I think about it. Confounding expectations. Like I stay up late at night thinking about how to do it. "What do you do for a living, man?" "Oh, I confound expectations." You're going to get a job, the man says, "What do you do?" "Oh, confound expectations. And the man says, "Well, we already have that spot filled. Call us back. Or don't call us, we'll call you." Confounding expectations. I don't even know what that means or who has time for it.

The NYTimes' Take

The Autobiography: Chronicles Vol 1

The Music:

The Legendary Subterranean Homesick Blues Video

Blowing In The Wind

The Times They Are A Changing

All Along The Watchtower
As a case study of Dylan's music and lyrics 

Shelter From The Storm
[Youtube] ** Personal Favorite

Link A Rolling Stone

My Back Pages
[Youtube] ** From the 30th anniversary concert, which I'll probably be listening to for the rest of the afternoon..

More Music Mondays

Friday, October 14, 2016

From the Choir Loft

True to namesake, The Truant Chorister was absent last week. Fatigue has set in from some new pain meds, and I'm afraid I can guarantee neither the entertainment value nor the accuracy of this week's post.

Expectations lowered? Excellent! let's get to it:

This Week:

We've now started the long road til Christmas, with extended rehearsals and quick changes between tra-la-las and Latin (or German? to be honest, I was afraid to look too closely at that one piece with the I-talics in the blue folder. You know the one.)

I feel like I just got back into a good routine of 5k runs, and suddenly found myself at half-marathon practice!

Fun Facts:

7th chords are exciting. Like spices!

Though perhaps too exciting for this choir member, when tired and trying to find a note against the Sopranos. #I'mJustSayin #ProfoundApologiesToMyNearestNeighbors

But the triads-gone-wild serve a purpose -- they give direction.

Also: Compound Melodies are a thing, and I'm curious how they fit into the world of fugues and rounds, but apparently not curious to google it this afternoon.

Lessons in Music Lit:

"So much of what we sing is rooted in dance"

And dance, in the western world, tends to follow a certain pattern:
1. New dance is introduced
2. New dance is trendy and cool and an abomination and The World Will End because of it
3. New dance becomes mainstreamed (aka: when your favorite rock song hits the 'oldies' station.)
4. New dance becomes appropriated by artists and becomes high-art

And thus, a generation's scandalous dances eventually become 'boring' symphonic themes or operatic arias.

Examples: Tango. Waltz. Volta.

I will leave it to the Christmas Concert audience to guess which part of the program has a 'saucy' backstory.


Unfortunately, I cannot link this week's Anthem Of The Week as it is an extra-special, unique-to FPWS arrangement by one of our very talented composers/artists-in-residence (who you may have seen around town).

I can tell you it's a version of His Eye Is On The Sparrow but you'll just have to trust me that if you can make it to early service you'll be in for a real treat.

Also: the young chimers are ringing. Or possibly children's choir? But definitely maybe one of those.

Helpful Hints aka: How To Hack Choir Practice

So here's the deal -- I can read music, but am not at the moment in possession of a piano.

Best solution I've found so far: the keyboard feature of GarageBand App on my Ipad(mini).

Not too helpful if you're actually trying to play it like a real piano, but very helpful in picking out notes for a single line.

'til next week. (Or the week after...)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Music: Let Your Heart Hold Fast

I feel like I've posted this before.. in which case, mea culpa. Uno mas.

Fort Atlantic 

Let your heart hold fast

More Music Mondays

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

Music Monday: Four Tops

In honor of his birthday-week, a couple of the Florida Wildcat's favorites:

The Four Tops

Can't Help Myself

Baby I Need Your Loving

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