I've been a little busy this Fall with the logistics of buying a house and exploring my game designs. But I have had a hand in a few interesting projects, so I'll just throw them in here.

I joined a group of narrators to produce works for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) research at a university in Virginia. Wikipedia defines ASMR thusly: "a perceptual phenomenon characterized as a distinct, pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back, or peripheral regions of the body in response to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or cognitive stimuli. The nature and classification of the ASMR phenomenon is controversial, with strong anecdotal evidence to support the phenomenon but little or no scientific explanation or verified data."

You can see why this is the subject of study! The researchers hope to publish an app - Silk ASMR - to reach a wider body of subjects. Reading for ASMR is very different: the reading must be soft (whispering is quite OK), languorous, with longer pauses than normal. 

Silk ASMR is currently undergoing beta testing.

Another project: The following partial post appeared on the LibriVox forum:
"I am a Norwegian art student, currently studying my masters at The Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm. At the moment I´m working on a sound project concerning language use and metaphors in physics. I would be very thankful if some of you are interested in helping me with reading texts for this project. 

The texts includes some actual poems written by physicists like James Clerk Maxwell and Werner Heisenberg. Others are original letters by scientists like Max Planck and Isaac Newton, describing discoveries and using the english language quite dramatically, and some are examples of how science borrows language from poetry, in naming new particles and trying to put words to the unknown. 

When I went to school I was of the impression that the method of the scientist and that of the poet were as different as day and night. Later I´ve come to realize that this is not the case. As Nils Bohr wrote to Werner Heisenberg in a letter: «When it comes to atoms, language can be used only as poetry. The poet too is not nearly so concerned with describing facts, as with creating images.» This may seem absurd coming from a scientist, but what lies beneath the visible world is always imaginary. We have no other way of talking about the invisible then trying to make suitable analogies and models."

The post went on to request participants. I signed up and have done several works for him.

Finally, a new publication for the audiobook industry began publishing this Fall with a September issue. Audiobook Monthly Magazine bills itself as an innovative showplace for narrators, producers, illustrators, and distributors. It has its own website, www.audiobookmonthly.com , and Facebook page.  They published an interview with me in the October issue (accessed through Archives on the Table of Contents of the current issue).

"Read by Mark Smith, of Greer, SC"

It's been a good run, but my fellow TechSmiths and I have the end of our Simpsonville residency in sight!

It's been our aspiration & intention since retiring to move to a smaller, more modern house, once we became empty-nesters. We made the effort in 2009, but the housing market was really, really awful. In addition, our nest re-filled with boomerang children!

As 2014 began, we took stock again. Family matters had progressed to where we felt we didn't need to relocate to Virginia, where Brenda and I both grew up, and where most of our remaining extended family reside. We had hopes of again being "on our own" in 2015. So we targeted this coming year to finally sell our home and move on - probably to some other community in the Greenville area.

About mid-2014, we began seriously thinking about where exactly that might be. We toured a Parade of Homes, and started paying attention to real estate listings. We went to a few open houses. Then we chanced to tour a house we really liked. Immediately, we had to discuss whether we could consider buying a house before first selling the old. Our answer was "yes!"; in fact, the attraction of gradually moving stuff to a new home over a series of weeks or months appealed to our lazy lifestyle! The house that sparked the discussion sold before we could make an offer, but at least we were then primed for future action.

In October, it paid off. We toured a house that enchanted us with its charm factor. We bought it! Now in December, we're just beginning the shuttling of stuff. First up after closing on the house: recover a POD-load of things we put in storage 5 years ago.

We had loaded that thinking we'd see our stuff later the same year... so it had all our winter coats & sweaters. Yeah, we had to purchase some new ones that year.

It also included six boxes of board games and nine more of my military miniatures. If you've followed this blog, you know putting all that stuff away for five years was a bit of a sad story. Yeah, we had to reload the game cabinet, too.

Now we have a real incentive to get busy, after the holidays, with prepping our old house for sale. (Did you know retired folks can get 30-year mortgages??!)

But will my LibriVox intros now say, "Mark Smith, of Greer, SC"?  I think not. It may be a tiny fib, but I think I'll keep my nine-year old brand: of SIMPSONVILLE, SC.