Sunday, 22 December 2013

Waiting around

<biographical_note theme="ho-ho-ho">
Last night I sang in my choir's carol service (and the ad at that link may have been superseded by next term's concert – in which case click on Past Concerts). And as usual, I regretted the line break before 'All in white...' at the end of Once in Royal David's City. In my (painfully RC) schools the line was unbending: the 'children' (the souls of the righteous) in the carol are 'crowned all in white'. In other words, they are sainted – and marked with haloes; which makes them look, from a distance, 'like stars' (Geddit?).

So when I sang carols anywhere but school, I insisted on joining the end of the penultimate line to the 'All in white', with a breath before 'shall wait around'; and found I was alone (when all my fellow singers with a schooling in the 'One True Church' had done the same). And the waiting around needn't detain us. In any case, the unfortunate vision – of juvenile delinquents hanging about on street corners – applies to both readings. The position of the breath (after 'crowned' or after 'white') affects only the colour of their hoodies. While 'wait around' is a phrasal verb in current English, it probably wasn't when the carol was written towards the end of the 19th century. I suspect the 'wait' has the sense of 'being available to serve'; and the 'around' is a simple preposition of place.

But this did not affect my enjoyment of the service, which was great fun to participate in and to listen to. And to rehearse. My favourite moment during rehearsals involved a private joke – private, that is, to people who have a bit of Latin.

We were singing an arrangement of In Dulci Jubilo that involved only half the choir singing the second verse and the other half joining in at the words Trahe me post te. As often happens when more people sing, there was a tendency to slow down. Our conductor said 'I feel as if I'm having to drag‡ you along after me.' This was my moment of private hilarity [little things...], as the words mean 'Drag me after you' (think of tractor on the one [Latin] hand and draught [animals] on the other [English].)


But my main object in writing is to 'fess up' to a few days' delay in the appearance of proofs of #WVGTbook. I spent last week proving the first law of software maintenance – the Law of Conservation of Bugs. This states that

In any development process, the fixing of one bug will generate at least one more, either by a bug in the fix itself or (more likely in these days of 'buddies', who keep an eye on this sort of thing) by exposing an underlying bug that was previously cloaked by the original bug.
In an earlier post, I rejoiced in the fact that Amazon's CreateSpace now accepts .doc files, which spared me the chore of getting to grips with Word 2010 (which supports .PDF as an output). Poor fool (or O me miserum as they used to say in Rome). I  might have guessed that the submission process still needed .PDF as an input, so their new acceptance of other formats meant that they would do the conversion behind my back.

So I submit a 'perfect' .doc file and they introduce a few dozen errors.† Then, working from their PDF file, I have to mutilate my .DOC file so as to produce something that, while looking a mess, will (one hopes) look OK after they've messed with it. So I fix a bad page-break and the fix itself causes several new mistakes further downstream. After my first submission, there were three notebook pages of errors. I fixed them, and after a second submission, there were three notebook pages of errors. I fixed them, and after a third submission, there were three notebook pages of errors. I fixed them, and after a fourth submission, there were (you've probably guessed it – I suspect you're beginning to detect a pattern here) three notebook pages of errors....  It seems to be a Sisyphean task.

I'll try once more with Word, but if that fails I'll have to find some way of producing a PDF directly. And that'll be after Christmas. Have a good one.


Update: 2013.12.24.17:10 – Added PS

PS Whenever I submit a new file I get an automated mail with the subject line

The automated print check for your file is complete

They tend to accumulate, in a way that is not Sisyphean but rather Augean. Having just got the innards of the book to pass muster, I've now cleared them (that is, the mails) out. There were TWENTY. Now I just have to do the cover. But later in the week. Festivities are in progress. Hokum all ye faithful! (not original, but mine.)

Update: 2013.12.27.11:00 – Added red bits for clarity (and resisted a manus joke [that's a Latin hand –  there, I did it.])

Update: 2013.12.28.14:40  Added link to old blog. And another one, just then.

Update: 2014.01.06.12:40  Added blue clarifications in last para.

Update: 2014.02.01.13:45  Added this aha note:


Tale from the word-face

When the proofs arrived, the first thing I noticed about them was an extra-wide line-space (leading [with an /e/] as they say in the trade, although a strip of lead is no longer involved) above and below a line with an IPA symbol in it which was just a bit ugly when it happened once or twice on a page, but when 5 or 6 lines with IPA symbols in them come together, the extra space adds up with itself and starts to look seriously deformed. (I attempted to explain this in a phone call to @life_academic, who has enough on his plate without worrying about his father's vanity project. [And speaking of vanity, #WVGTbook is now listed with other publications credited on the BNC site.])

But yesterday I put 2 and 2 together: the extra space causes the rogue page-breaks that hampered the submission process. It seems to result from CreateSpace's conversion from WinWord. When I create the PDF file (which I can do with a trial version of Acrobat Pro that I have use of until mid-Feb.) both the line-space and the page-breaks behave sensibly.

I hope when I submit PDF the problem will disappear (although it's possible that there's some conversion process downstream of the PDF,  which I'm ignorant of). But in that case there's nothing I can sensibly do about it anyway, and I'll have to like it or lump it.

Update: 2014.03.06.12:15  Added this note:
‡ It's happened again - the conductor talking about us 'dragging him after him' at a linguistically appropriate place. A different conductor this time, at a choral workshop (that link works at the time of writing, but will disappear quite soon possibly later today, as far as the workshop is concerned) that centred on a medley of songs from Victor Hugo's The Glums [OK, Les Misérables ]. And the language in question was not Latin this time, but the Italic dialect used in the libretto for Verdi's Nabucco (we were singing a few choruses from works that were rather more to my taste). The current Italian for 'drag' is dragare, but here it is traggere. The words are traggi un suono di crudo lamento 'drags/evokes/brings with it... the sound of <whatever-you-choose-to-translate-crudo-lamento>' ; [and the singing 'translation' doesn't mention dragging or pulling of any kind, so the coincidence is more striking to me at least].

Update: 2014.03.06.15:15  Added translaton of 'The Glums', and updated TES stats in footer.

 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources: over 39,500  views  nearly and 5,550 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with over 2,000 views and nearly 1,000 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.

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