Thursday, May 29, 2008

It is done.

As promised, here are the before and after photos of the exterior of our house. It almost doesn't look like the same house, does it?

And here's the after, for comparison...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So what exactly does this say about me?

blog readability test

Check it out. Rank your favorite blogs. What a hoot!

But more seriously, I wonder what dynamic digital permutations they use in order to get this "reading level"? Is it the words themselves? The sentence structure? It would be very interesting to find out exactly what they base their scoring on.

I ran several other blogs (and other sites) through its machinations, and agreed with the outcome (for the most part). The Anglican curmudgeon was College Postgrad level, and Stand Firm was College Undergrad. But I feel like I'm in good company, because Mere Comments and T19 are also High School.

I've done some research, and it looks like there are a couple of algorithmic possibilities, the Gunning-Fog Index being the most likely. I found another site that does roughly the same thing (though without the cool cut-and-paste graphic thingie!

Interpreting the Results
This service analyses the readability of all rendered content. Unfortunately, this will include navigation items, and other short items of content that do not make up the part of the page that is intended to be the subject of the readability test. These items are likely to skew the results. The difference will be minimal in situations where the copy content is much larger than the navigation items, but documents with little content but lots of navigation items will return results that aren't correct.

Readability Results
The following table contains the readability results for .

Reading Level Results
Total sentences 546
Total words 3674
Average words per Sentence 6.73
Words with 1 Syllable 2278
Words with 2 Syllables 681
Words with 3 Syllables 318
Words with 4 or more Syllables 397
% of word with three+ syllables 19.46%
Average Syllables per Word 1.68
Gunning Fog Index 10.48
Flesch Reading Ease 57.65
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 6.89

Gunning-Fog Index
The following is the algorithm to determine the Gunning-Fog index.
Calculate the average number of words you use per sentence.
Calculate the percentage of difficult words in the sample (words with three or more syllables).
Add the totals together, and multiply the sum by 0.4.
Algorithm: (average_words_sentence + number_words_three_syllables_plus) * 0.4
The result is your Gunning-Fog index, which is a rough measure of how many years of schooling it would take someone to understand the content. The lower the number, the more understandable the content will be to your visitors. Results over seventeen are reported as seventeen, where seventeen is considered post-graduate level.

Typical Fog Index Scores
6 - Resources
8 - TV guides, The Bible, Mark Twain
8-10 - Reader's Digest
10 - Most popular novels
11 - Time, Newsweek
14 - Wall Street Journal
15-20 - The Times, The Guardian
15-20 - Academic papers
Over 20 - Only government sites can get away with this, because you can't ignore them.
Over 30 - The government is covering something up

Because I was bored, I checked my Blog Readability again on June 24. Maybe it was the post I did on diversity, but now I rank at "College Undergrad" level! WooHoo!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Books and Movies

Frederica Mathewes-Green (A sometimes-contributor to Touchstone Magazine) has produced a list of movies which she considers better than the books on which they were based. You can see her article here. I will list her top ten, but definitely hop over to her article which expounds on her rationale.

1. Gone with the Wind
2. The Godfather
3. The Wizard of Oz
4. The Princess Bride
5. Jaws
6. Forrest Gump
7. Blade Runner
8. The Lord of the Rings (series)
9. Harry Potter (series)
10. Adaptation

Indeed, I agree with her on the top 7. (And I haven't seen or read #10.) I've seen the movies and I've read the books. I might quibble with #4, because the book was written not merely as a novel. But the movie stands on its own quite well, so I won't quibble too much!

Ah, but the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I take decided umbrage with that (no pun intended!) Say what you will about the Potter series, but the movies cannot - by the simple expedient that you cannot fit all the details of a 900 page novel into a 2-hour film - match the depth and breadth of the books. Regardless of whether you think Harry Potter is a load of tripe or deeply meaningful or merely a smashing story, the books have the value of detail and character building and so much else that you cannot capture on screen.

The same is true, though even more potently, with the Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson turned out a beautiful series of films, but some of the glaring omissions, additions and horrible changes to characters and events make the movies pale by comparison. I could talk about the revision of Faramir's character, or the weakness of Elijah Wood's Frodo, or the reduction of Saruman's insidiousness in his destruction of the Shire. And yes, I could also talk about the stunning music and scenery that brings Middle Earth to brilliant, shining life and the tremendous fearfulness of the portrayal of the orcs, but the positives here just cannot outweigh the negatives.

But since the topic has been dealt with admirably in her article, I have a poser of my own: Are there any books out there - written after the movie was released - that can hold up as a story on their own? Admittedly, most novelizations are dry and boring, and only enjoyable if you like to re-live the screenplay in print rather than, well, on-screen. There have been some notable exceptions, though. I'm thinking here of Orson Scott Card's stunning novelization of the blockbuster movie The Abyss. Card brings to life the backstory, this history, of the main characters: Bud, Lindsey, Coffey, and the NTIs themselves. Coffey is not a mere villian, so after reading his story you become sympathetic to his plight deep underwater. You have a deeper understanding of what make Bud and Lindsey tick, and their interactions become more clear and understandable. Especially, though, you learn about the NTIs, where they came from and why they decide to "interfere" with the events on the surface. (And despite the additions in the director's cut, that is still quite vague in the movie version!) Did you like the movie? The definitely hope over to your local library and check out the book!

So, any other nominations for the (presumably short) list?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Us

The philosopher and I are celebrating our 14th anniversary today.

::big, cheezy grin::

He bought me an old fashioned Galileo thermometer and glass liquid barometer set (much like this one). It's a Good Thing to be married to your best friend, who knows all your quirks and all the odd things you'll find endearing (even though most folks would say, "What a geek!") What did I give him, you ask? A bottle of wine and a potted purple violet (even though I swore when we bought his telescope that he would receive no gifts for any occasion until Christmas!). But I couldn't stand it, and thought a bottle of Italian chianti would be perfect. He thought so too. 8-) Now THAT is nerdy.

We're still deeply in love, and that too is a Good Thing.

"Years ago You took two selfish, self-centered people and taught us to put You at the center of our hearts and marriage. You taught us to take our problems to Your first, then each other. You taught us the delight of putting our mate's needs over our own.You taught us to serve one another in love. Your taught us that sharing disappointments and pain was another side of sharing our love. We have experienced the sweetness that together we're stronger than either one alone. From the wellsprings of my heart, thank You, Lord." (from here)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Do Not Feed the Librarian

I'm a librarian trapped in a circulation desk clerk's body. Most days I mindlessly check books out and reshelve those books that students have returned. Apparently being seated at the circulation desk places a visible-only-to-students sign over my head that reads "Do not feed. Do not ask reference questions." So not only do I receive no share of anyone's tasty treats (and what it is about finals that prompts students to bring in cookies by the truckload?) but I also rarely get to answer any interesting questions aside from "How much does it cost to print?" and "Where are the bathrooms?" At the Reference Desk at my former library job there was a badge that read "Ask me! Human Search Engine!" Although I hope the students here don't treat me like a computer, it is rather nice when I do get asked a question that actually requires me to put the gray matter to some use.

This is all about to change. I am being transferred (at my request, lest ye start to worry) to the new branch campus that is opening this fall. Brand new building. Brand new library. I don't know what my official title will be (other than "E-Schedule Staff") but I will be, to put it bluntly, in charge. I will no longer be "the circulation clerk". I will be the Librarian (for all intents and purposes). The college isn't promoting me (yet) to actual faculty status, though if we stay in the area for a couple of years I have no doubt that it will happen (due to SACS regulations regarding number of students requiring a full time librarian).

So what is actually happening is that I'm willing to be "taken advantage of" financially in order to be a branch director. Of course, it's all a matter of semantics. I'm a librarian now. Got the Masters on the wall to prove it. But here at the main branch I'm "low man on the totem pole". I work evenings. I haven't been here twenty years, so how can I possibly have any notion of what it means to work in a library? [off sarcasm] At the Cherokee Campus I will be the Librarian. I will get asked the questions. And assist students with their research. And order the books. (Alas, no cataloging - that will still be done on the main campus). The best part, you ask? It's a four-day work week. ::grin::

One of the evening part-timers and I will often chat when I get back from dinner. She gave me some good advice (if advice is what you call it). She told me that these months working here at the main branch are God's way of humbling me. Reminding me that I should look for no praise or glory on this world; that my reward will come in heaven. That ultimately whatever degree or position I have is not that important as long as I do my job well. And that when I am the "old timer" many years from now, I can use this time as a negative example. And you know what? She's right. If I ever have a staff of folks working for me, I know what kind of work environment is not conducive to a happy staff and getting things accomplished. So I've learned a lot about myself and about management styles (but that doesn't mean I have to enjoy it!) And I also know that God's refining fire will continue to burn as I struggle to follow the path set for me. And I have to think that this transfer is part of that plan, and that's a Good Thing.

Some folks around here like to joke that getting transferred to a branch campus is equivalent to being banished. If so, I'm really looking forward to Banishment Day!