600-Year-Old Penmanship

I was looking at Wikipedia earlier, and this was cited as a reference. As in, the contents of one of the paragraphs was mentioned in a footnote. (Follow the link, else the rest of the post won’t make sense)

I promise you it’s nothing to do with Lord Of The Rings.

Trying to make out what the letters are, I’m not entirely convinced that the image isn’t mirrored.

In actuality, this is a 15th century English legal document. The “Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas”, if you please. Some words look like they could be English words, but that could just be wishful thinking. The rest, no amount of staring, squinting, or head-tilting seems to be helping me. It could be C15th English, but who knows, it could be Latin or whatever else the lingua franca might have been.

Sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m not. I might be taking the mick a bit, but I can’t exactly fault a 15th Century court recorder for writing in 15th Century style. And illegible as the writing might be to me, it’s got a pretty cool fancy style.

What I Need To Do To Turn My Planned Project Into A Reality

I’ve mentioned before about the site I want to make. I haven’t gone into much in the way of details about what it’s about. Intentionally so, not because I think you’ll steal my idea, but more because I hope the vagueness now, will make the unveiling more exciting.

Here’s basically the things that I need to do to get it going.

1. POSTS
Turn research into content. Lots of research done so far. Try and get to a post a day.
STATUS: Lousy

2. CONTINUE RESEARCH
Accumulate a bunch for making posts easier, keep ahead so you don’t run out.
STATUS: Pretty good on current list. Resources available to continue afterwards.

3. LOOK OF WEBSITE
As long as it’s easy to navigate, how it looks is less important: at the same time, don’t actually want it to look terrible.
Can be worked on after the site is up, but is also less likely to be worked on after the site is up than before.
STATUS: Poor. Think I have a handle on menus.

4. EXTRA CONTENT:
Have some ideas for podiobook-able things, which will also help extend brand. Located microphone, think taking laptop to garage, and recording under blanket, would work.
STATUS: still relatively concept.

5. PREMIUM CONTENT:
Conversion services: software cursorily tested. Results promising, with caveats. No negotiations entered into. More thorough testing required, may benefit from purchasing sample materials for conversion (possible). Conversion process needs tested, particularly master new format (have test document ready and software installed, not progressed far in the conversion efforts yet).
Translation services: Entirely theoretical.
Audiobooks with site/author/reader/(translator) only at the beginning and end, not at the beginning/end of Every File (unless the book’s really short and only one file).

6. OTHER REVENUE:
Advertising. Have some ideas of who to approach. (also see who approaches). Need established site to make it worth their while. Decide number of spots, perhaps decide on genres for these spots.
Membership. Discounts to sponsors, discount to stuff we sell. Discounts to other people. Make it worth more than cost. Also contingent on establishment.

7. OTHER THINGS TO IMPLEMENT:
Community: forum software. PHPBB probably. Making it look right, I don’t want to think about at the moment. I’ve at least played with the software, call it a STATUS of 7%.
Submissions: Anticipate needing to ask for photos. Integration may be the issue. STATUS: concept only.
Amend a plugin to customize images used. STATUS: Started. Back-burner now, needs lots of concentration.
Find a plugin to implement different-language versions of the site. STATUS: A thought.

On Power, Connection, And Bonus

I mentioned yesterday that the power was going to go off last night, which it did, right on time. Replacing some major power poles from the local electricity-generating facility, or something like that. The power was supposed to come back by 7am, and it didn’t. It was still out when we left at 8-something, but was on by the time we got home.

Addition to to-do list: set the clock.

Last night, I was noticing the internet was a bit slow. Set the computer trying to download hour-ish long podcasts (2 of them), each threatened to take over an hour, and didn’t show any signs of recalculating to a more expected length before I decided to just shut down.

I’d actually noticed podcasts taking longer-than-expected to load a day or two before. I was catching up with the week’s Ancient Faith downloads, and normally a show’s downloaded before I can start the next one going. Built up quite a queue. Must have been Friday, based on what I downloaded.

Tonight, the internet’s been ridiculous, Speed tests say we’ve got a fine connection, but staying connected to anything, or going from one page to another, has been a hit-and-miss affair. Hoping a reboot of the router will fix it, but waiting til someone’s show finishes, to do it.

Heard the end credits while I was writing that, turned off the router for the minute, doesn’t seem to have helped.

Sadface.

Did manage to download an hour’s podcast usually quick (which was surprising), but several websites were timing out on me. Not this one, which was nice, but Amazon, for example. Think the problem might be the ISP (oh look, YouTube is trouble, too). “And I’ll never get back the time that I waste, that’s what I hate…”

On the plus side, I tried the Civ IV Steam key last night, after leaving Win10 for my Vista installation (using Steam on there, until I finish my achievement run through Half-Life 2: Update). I proved to 2K that I had Civ IV Gold Edition, which has plain Civ IV and the Warlords expansion. I mentioned the Beyond The Sword expansion (which I have), but didn’t come right out and say I had it, or prove that I had it. I was wondering if the Steam key would be for just Civ IV. It turned out to be for Civ IV Complete Edition, which has all the aforementioned, plus Civ IV: Colonization, a remake of Sid Meier’s older game, using the Civ IV engine. Pretty pleased with that development, as I didn’t have Colonization…

Bits And Pieces

Just a quick one tonight, as the power’s going to go off in not-too-long, and the outage is supposed to last until about when it’ll be time to get up.

I’ve crossed a few things off my to-do list the last couple of days. Sorted payment for the web sites, arranged an eye test because I need a new prescription to get a new pair of glasses (my current pair got scratched while playing hide and seek with Oldest outside, in the dark), wrote the first draft of an article for a site I frequent. Did some of the data collection for my planned site. Some items go really quickly, and some take a really long time (such as the last one I did today.

The Steam key for Civ IV came through, am going to try and enter that before we lose power.

Played some Final Fantasy VII with Oldest today (disc 1, having left the Gold Saucer, we got to Cosmo Canyon, for those that means anything to). Oldest, familiar with the Star Wars music, recently saw an orchestra playing the Imperial March, He hadn’t realised quite how many instruments, or how many people playing the same kind of instrument, there were in an orchestra. He said he didn’t realise it was that “complicated”. So today, a while after we’d stopped playing FF7, I put on a YouTube video of the very beginning of FF7 for him. Then I put on that same music (“Opening/Bombing Mission”) on my Distant Worlds DVD. The full orchestra is playing it, and clips from the game are shown on a projector screen behind them. Oldest thought this was also “complicated” (quotes because that’s the part I can guarantee are his words). We saw a few more tunes on the DVD before he had to get ready for bed.

Smoke me a kipper, internet: I’ll be back for breakfast.

Review: True Blue, by David Baldacci

Mason “Mace” Perry was a cop. At the end of serving 2 years in jail for a crime she was framed for, she’s determined to get back on the force. Inspired by someone else who blazed a trail out of a similar situation, she intends to solve a major crime on her own, and earn her way back onto the force.

At about the time of her release, a big case comes up. a US Attorney is found dead in a dumpster, and then a high-flying attorney dealing with large international transactions, is found dead in a fridge in her office. The latter is found by her colleague, Roy Kingman, whom Mace latches onto as a way into the case. The former, the Chief of Police, and the FBI, get shut out of the investigation.

That Chief of Police is Mace’s sister, Beth. She tries in her own way to help Mace, and sets her up with a job, although not in the Police Department. The US Attorney for DC, Mona Danforth, has it in for both Perry sisters, and threatens both their careers if Beth helps Mace back onto the force.

Baldacci writes great thrillers, and this was another good’un. What’s nice is that everyone- good, bad, and otherwise, all are given believable motivations, and there comes a point where some of the bad guy muscle is given some depth, that you wouldn’t go in to a novel like this, expecting.

Towards the end of the book, one wonders if there’s enough space left to round out the story in a satisfying way, but in the end it was. The way it was wrapped up left a few threads that could be picked up on, were Baldacci to want to write a sequel, and one kind of wants him to (he hasn’t, yet). But life’s stories rarely wrap up all the loose threads at one time, and the loose ends weren’t a disappointment.

Yep, I enjoyed True Blue.

Reflection On Brothers In Arms By Dire Straits

Today, in a fit of nostalgia, I’m going to talk about an album that is, in a sense, a rarity. That sense would be that there are n bad songs on the album. I mean, one might have one’s favourites, and end up skipping a track or two when one is pressed for time, but equally you could just set the album going and not think about think about hovering over the “next track” button when a certain song comes on. Even some albums I like can have quite a few weak spots.

What is this masterpiece of an album? I hear you ask. Or rather, I don’t, because you saw the title of the post. Cheater.

Welcome to “Brothers In Arms” by Dire Straits.

Lemme tell ya, them guys ain’t dumb.

The album kicks off with “So Far Away“, a wonderful Song Of Longing. “I’m tired of being in love and being all alone.”

Then the classic “Money For Nothing“. I don’t know how many times some of my co-workers and I, several years ago now, would comment “That ain’t working” to each other. In this age of “Not being the ’80s”, it’s easy to want to sing the wrong lyrics. “I want my MP3″ rather than “I want my MTV.”

An aside: In one of the Buffy Season 8 comic books, Harmony, a vampire, gets her own reality show. After commenting about one TV network, saying no-one knows what the letters stand for, she talks about MTV. “No-one knows what that stands for, either, but they do reality shows.” She may be a ditz, but she’s onto something…

“We got to install microwave ovens”. Did they ever take much in the way of installing? “We got to install Microsoft Office” was a good replacement for a time, but I don’t think so many people use it, these days. “Microsoft Windows” would be better, but “Office” replaces “ovens” better than “Windows” does. Oh well, it’s all musical graffiti.

Walk Of Life” is next. Unceasingly upbeat and cheerful, this song is the most Your Mileage May Vary track as it relates to the “no bad song on the album” declaration I made earlier. The song is about a busker singing old songs. “He do the song about the sweet lovin’ woman, he do the song about the knife. He do the walk, he do the walk of life.”

Your Latest Trick” is a nice mellow number, as is “Why Worry“. The sax part in the former is catchy (apparently it is to saxophone departments in music shops, what “Stairway To Heaven” is to the guitar section).

Ride Across The River” starts off wonderfully atmospheric. Verse 1 is told from the perspective of a soldier invested in the cause, and the second verse is from the perspective of a mercenary on the opposing side. The third verse philosophises about the conflict, suggesting that neither side is “the good guys”. And the tune that goes along with it is melancholy, almost resigned to the inevitableness of it all.
This graphic was floating around Facebook today, based on a Reddit thread, of US soldiers reflecting upon their time in Afghanistan. Seems to fit the mood of this, and the next song.

The Man’s Too Strong“. A guilty conscience, and a confession, seemingly before an execution. Do the early choruses of “the man’s too big, the man’s too strong” suggest to you that the guy was a puppet when he was out doing all those naughty things? And now he’s caught, it’s possibly a different The Man?

One World” ultimately seems tangentially related to the two previous tracks, and the one after it. “But they can’t find a way to be one world in harmony”. And the rest of the song seems about various other layers of discontentedness. Instrumentally, there’s a lot going on in this track. I like the little guitar motif around “They say it’s mostly vanity that writes the plays we act”. Medieval, or possibly Renaissance?

The title track, the pièce de résistance, “Brothers In Arms“, rounds out the album. Again, it’s really moody. The guy from whose perspective the song is sung, implies that he is dying, towards the end of the song. Though it seems like he may already be dead. The dichotomy in the first verse between the “mist-covered mountains” and the lowlands, evokes some comparison with “The Bonnie Banks O’ Loch Lomond” with the “high road” and the “low road”, one interpretation being it’s the dead guy’s soul will “be in Scotland afore ye”. Another song about war, again there’s the implication of futility. An implication I don’t disagree with. We talk about how barbaric our ancestors were, with all the wars through history, but looking around, it seems like such talk is the pot calling the kettle black. You and I may not feel like we’re worse, but the state our leaders, recent and current, have brought our world to, reveal at the very least that humanity hasn’t left barbarity behind.

I’d love to do a big montage of war movies set to this song. “Brothers In Arms” seems like The Perfect Thing to listen to on Remembrance Day (UK, Veterans Day US). Right up there with watching the M*A*S*H finale, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”. November’s coming up, the video’s in the garage. Maybe I can swing that last part. Haven’t managed to get my video capturing equipment working for a while.

Well, that seems a bummer note to end on, but it seems like a trait of a great song: gets you thinking.

Please comment below: discuss my takes on the songs, tell me how great “Brothers In Arms” was on that season finale of The West Wing, let me know any albums you can think of with no duff songs, let me know what you want me to talk about in future posts.

More Progress Today

My lovely wife has been encouraging me to define what I want to do each day, so I can feel like I’ve gotten stuff done. In return, I also give her time she needs to do her projects, but I hope I was doing that anyway.

I’ve had some bank things hanging over me. I’d not checked one account’s online statements enough for the bank’s liking, so I had to log in and do that. Also, I needed to transfer money to a couple of friends, one for hosting for this site (I have used up soooo much of the space), and another for hosting for my church’s site. I had been putting off updating the church’s site because of the planning to change servers. I had to get details for that payment, so I could actually pay him.

Well, I managed to log in, and I managed to get the details from the friend (already had those from the other). Was all set to do the first transfer, but to confirm, it needed to make a phone call to my parents’ house, and they would need to enter a code that it would give me. And it would probably need to do this for both transfers. I’ve planned to speak with my parents on Skype in a few days, so I can take care of the rest of that, then.

You might recall in my last rant about DRM, about Civilization IV and the possibility of a Steam key for it. In my actual message to 2K customer support, I said plain Civ IV and the Warlords expansion don’t work on Windows 10, and suggested they patch it (after all, Beyond The Sword has a patch and it works fine). After a couple of days, they said they could give me a Steam key for it, if I were to take a picture with the box, the game disc, and a piece of paper with my email address.

Taking this photo was another thing on the list that I hadn’t gotten around to, and after the first “We can give you a Steam key” email, they sent a couple more reminder emails because they hadn’t received any response. The second one of those came today, and said something about the support ticket being closed if they didn’t receive a response within 24 hours.

I set up the items, but was a bit worried about the shadows, as I looked at it all from above. so I asked my lovely wife (aka “She with the camera”) to take the photo for me, which she did. And it turned out great, so I sent that off.

One-and-a-half things off the list! Yay!

During the time of less brainspace, I did manage to do some more of the Related Items research for the website I’m working on, so that was kind of a bonus.

All this progress is nice, I’m hopeful it will become momentum.

Mushroom Shelf Cover

A few weeks ago, I moved my mushroom-growing project to a different part of the back yard. While I did that, I changed the boards I was using for the shelves, so the cover I was using to keep the sun off them was not wide enough, anymore.

I found a big board that was by the side of the garage. On its side, it is almost tall enough to shelter the shelves. On its side, it was also far too wide. It caught the wind a couple of times, and fell over. My uncle-in-law offered to cut it for me, if I do the measuring and marking.

So it’s been waiting for me to go out there and do that, basically since I put it up. The offer was open “until it snows”.

It’s one of those “added to the list” things that’s been hanging over me. Not a big job, but one of those things it’s easier to do, if one escapes from the kids for a few minutes

When offered some time to get something done today, I chose this. It doesn’t take very long, and once it’s done, it shouldn’t reappear on the to-do list. So I measured and marked it, and uncle cut it, and I stood it back up. Looks like I did the line at close enough to a right angle, it stands up and doesn’t look like it leans over. It’s shading the shelves very nicely. At the angle it’s at, it’s comfortably below the window. At the suggestion of my uncle, I shored it up with a couple of dense planks (I say planks, they might not be wood, and they’re not particularly long, but hopefully they’ll be enough to help keep the board up in the wind).

Today’s the day where I’m out for a big chunk of it, so I don’t expect to get much done at all at home on a Tuesday. It’s nice to have something accomplished.

Frustration

Today, I started writing a to-do list, which was a depressingly large amount of Things I Haven’t Got Around To Yet. I didn’t finish it.

Tonight, I started writing a post about the things on the list, and I haven’t finished that, either.

I managed to do some work on the data-gathering part of my site development, but not on the content-production part, which would bring me closer to a functional (and hopefully revenue-generating) site.

A job came up on the job site that I could actually do, but at hours that would remove me from the weekday family mealtimes, and the weekly evening service. On the other hand, money. At what point do I become less picky? I was asked. At some point I must, and probably soon. Income is kind of necessary.

At the same time, it’s discouraging. I feel like I should have the site up and running and bringing in money by now, and I’m not coping very well with not being able to devote the required brainspace to it.

I could put the site I’ve been developing onto the backburner again, and retool to a subject that requires less concentration, which might be better for sanity. The one that springs to mind, is going to take a bunch of thinking to figure out revenue streams. I have the template in mind, but the content there is work, too.

Decisions, I guess. And what’s the best one for now?

Sleep on it.

Some Thoughts On Dr Seuss

When I was rather young, I kept borrowing Horton Hatches The Egg from the library. I suspect that sometimes I would request it again right after we took it back.

I think it may even have been after I got married, my parents gave me that book, birthday or Christmas. Since then, we have collected a chunk of Dr Seuss’s book, ostensibly for the children. Some more I’ve read to them in the library. I remembered the concept from The Big Brag (collected in Yertle The Turtle) of seeing right round the world to the back of your own head.

So, I thought I would make some observations.

Some of the books are plainly nonsense. The tongue-twister masterpiece Fox In Socks is a great example. It seems the good doctor was trying to get kids to laugh when their parents mess up the lines. The silliness is introduced quite early, and continues through the book. I like the “tweetle beetle puddle paddle battle”.

Others are longer stories, probably with an outlandish element in it, but more trying to slip a moral in there.
Horton Hatches The Egg tells that the person who does the work, should reap the reward. Also, that Karma’s a female dog.
Yertle The Turtle and Thidwick The Big-Hearted Moose show that there’s only so far you can push a person of goodwill.
The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins shows the lowly as deserving as much respect as the authority figures.

And so on.

Of course, anyone who has kids who say they don’t like food they haven’t tried, will have a certain affinity for Green Eggs And Ham (even if said kids aren’t that interested in the lesson being applied to them). What Was I Scared Of? (collected in The Sneetches, and also to be found separately) falls into a similar category.

Occasionally (usually after reading a bunch of other Dr Seuss), a book will seem a bit… flat. I found that with Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!, when I read it the first time. I think the flaw was that the ka-razy wasn’t there from the outset, it just kinda showed up a little way into the book.

The idea is that the narrator has had enough of the company of young master Mooney, and would like him to skedaddle back home. After the initial expressions of “please go”, the narrator suggests methods of transportation. By foot, by cow, on skates, on skis, in a hat, by bike. Then it just seems like Dr Seuss runs out of legitimate modes of transport, especially ones that’ll rhyme, and has to resort to making them up. Zike-Bike! Crunk-Car! Zumble-Zay! Bumble-Boat! a Ga-Zoom!

It just didn’t work for me first time round. Think it was a matter of expectations, sometimes he can be more straightforward (Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is quite restrained in the text, only making up one creature, which was more to communicate a vibe than anything). Marvin K started off with the Straightforward Seuss air, then switched gear mid-book, as if to say “enough of that! Let’s get to the Zany!”. Latter readings came with knowing what was in the book, so you can get into the Wacky Seuss vibe early.

All that being said, though, it’s good to have a lot of Seuss around for the kids. You can get quite the laugh, reading Green Eggs And Ham in a melodramatic manner. And Seuss is much more hit than miss.