Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

What I Really Want To Do Is Direct


It's been curiously silent in these pages the last few weeks.  Life has been rather packed around here.  But I do miss writing, so here's a quick rundown.

Fall has come to Ohio, so it's the time of year when I'm desperately trying to finish home improvement projects before it gets too cold outside. I've had scaffolding blocking our driveway for the last couple weeks, as I cut a hole for the bathroom vent fan in the Great Bathroom Remodel.  And since I had a way to stand twenty feet above the ground and work on the, I'm taking the opportunity to reglaze and repaint the windows on that side of the house too.

I'm also learning a new type of data analysis.  As the Church moves into the "continental phase" of the Synod on Synodality, I'm working on a text analysis project for The Pillar looking at how what words and concepts are most discussed in the synodal reports for dioceses, regions, and the US as a whole.  I'm using a program called KH Coder which does quantitative content analysis.  You might find interesting this tutorial I used to get familiar with the software, in which the authors load the full text of Anne of Green Gables into the software and analyze which characters appear together, how they are described, and which verbs are most often associated with which characters.  It's been a slower process than I would like, both due to over-commitment on my part and having to learn a whole new type of data analysis.  And although readers here have probably already heard many times about The Pillar, it's worth noting that it's extraordinary that a startup Catholic news site would invest in having someone put a month or two into this kind of analysis in order to provide a unique view of how the synodal process is going.  They really do deserve your subscription.

Work, of course, has been busy. I imagine no one will be surprised to hear that the levels of inflation that we're seeing around the world leads to lots of work for those of us in the pricing game.  I had the chance to go down to Houston and give a talk at a pricing conference for the first time since the pandemic.  It was good to talk with a bunch of other professional pricers in person again. One of the tough things about being in a specialized field like this is one tends to be a unicorn within one's own company, so if you want to talk with other pricers you need to connect with people in other companies.

And, of course, we're fast approaching performances in the production of Clue On Stage which I'm directing for our community theater. If you're in central Ohio, do get tickets and enjoy it on Oct 28, 29, and 30.  One of the things that's so enjoyable about community theater is that it brings together people from all walks of life who share a love of theater, and give everyone a project which builds a great deal of comradery.  I feel very lucky in our cast and crew, and also lucky to have been given the chance to direct a show (something that I haven't done since college, although I've acted in a half dozen of the group's shows since we moved up here.) Directing requires some artistic and conceptual work, but also a lot of organizational and person-to-person work. In that sense, it combines the kind of things I enjoy about fiction writing with the aspects of my professional life I enjoy. And it really has been a lot of fun.

Though of course, it wouldn't be the week before production week if we didn't have nearly the entire family come down with a respiratory bug (not COVID, but some sort of nastiness that's going around.)  MrsD lost her voice last weekend and is only gradually getting it back, and the kids are all going around hacking like aging smokers.  So far, I've managed to evade it, but we'll see how long my luck holds.

So it's an eventful fall in the Darwin household. Indeed, one could even be happy with a slightly quieter November and December.  But many good (and a few just plain busy) things are happening. Hopefully we'll become more regular writers soon.

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