Reading Program – Starting On Audio

I haven’t managed to regular-read quite as much as I would like so far in this summer’s Reading Program (so much to do!). But as I said in an earlier post, reading to people and being read to by people counts, and so do audiobooks.

I caught up on the episodes of a podcast that I was listening to on my MP3 player, cleared them off the player, and added some audiobooks (for the most part from podiobooks.com) that I’ve downloaded but haven’t listened to over the past few years. I’ve got folders labelled that I downloaded the contents in 2013, 2014 and 2015 – some I obviously didn’t get to last time round.

The first book I listened to this time round, though, was not from Podiobooks, and I already had it lurking on the player.

Some background: Back when I was working nights in a distribution center, I came across the wonderful world of podcasts. One of the shows I listened to back then, was The Signal podcast, which is/was for the most part Firefly/Serenity themed. (Their segment about other shows you might enjoy was the main exception to the theme, and I’ve investigated, watched and enjoyed some of those shows.)

One episode (Season 3 Episode 7), an ambitious young writer weaselled his way onto the show, talking about a novel he was serialising on Podiobooks. The author had managed to get Nathan Fillion to read “The Story So Far” on one episode of the book. The show’s hosts, in their banter between segments, mentioned enjoying the progress of the book, “7th Son”, over a bunch of following episodes.

The 7th Son Trilogy (Descent, Deceit and Destruction – you get to the end of Deceit and say to yourself, “The NEXT book is called Destruction?!??!”) was the first audiobook I listened to in my grown-up life (the Transformers Tell-A-Tales and Disney Read-Alongs of my childhood being very distant now). J.C. Hutchins sucked me into his world (which I periodically revisit), and set the stage for me enjoying many more worlds.

In January 2014, Mr. Hutchins set out on a new project: The 33. The 33 are a a bunch of misfits with particular skills. When something beyond the scope of public knowledge threatens the world, a few would be selected to go on a mission and save the world. J.C. intended to release one episode a month, a sort of experiment.

As experiments are wont to do, this one didn’t go quite as intended. He got 7 episodes into the project: less than he intended, but not a bad run.

I think Mr Hutchins had a plan for each months’ episode to be about an hour long, and had a notion of how many parts each story would be. Unfortunately, he’s a wordy bastard like me, so the first story, “Pramantha”, was advertised as 4 parts: Part 1 clocked in at an hour and ten minutes, Part 2 was an hour and a half, Part 3 was two hours and a quarter, and Part 4 ended up split into two files (“Side A” and “Side B” – 1hr58m and 1hr52m respectively).

“Ten Minutes” was kind of a bonus episode that was sort of “Thanks for being patient” (13mins long). Then we were back to regular episodes, “Needles” Parts 1 and 2. Part 1 was again an hour and ten minutes, Part 2 was 2hrs37m.

One can’t help but wonder if announcing in advance how many episodes a story would be, pushed J.C. into a corner: if you’ve allocated the time for writing, editing and recording an episode that’s 1hr10m, and two of your episodes end up twice that and another is nearly four hours long, coming to the conclusion that such effort is unsustainable, is very understandable.

I hadn’t listened to Needles, yet, so that became my first audiobook of the season.

J.C.’s reading voice is solid, as always. J.C.’s writing is characteristically suspenseful, and again he was on fine form. Lots of these scenes are easy to picture in your head. There’s some stuff that has the potential to make really good screen (and it’s already really good audio and book).

Needles seemed less “Oh dear, the world is going to crack open like an egg” that I felt with 7th Son and Pramantha. That did not seem to be a particular weakness. There was still plenty of tension, plenty of characterisation, the team when it got along and also when it didn’t.

Most memorable part: probably a point in Part 2 when there was something that shouldn’t move, and it did. (Not wanting to be too spoiler-y.)

I hope Mr Hutchins finds a way to resume experimenting.

J.C. Hutchins’ stories are not “family friendly”. I enjoyed notorious horror author Scott Sigler’s comments at the end of a 7th Son episode, saying that J.C. writes material that is much more screwed up than Sigler’s. There is plenty of language (most of it English, and some of which is swear words).

But remember folks: it’s only Not Safe For Work if you share your headphones. Stay safe out there.

Dystopia

I came across the thought that dystopian fiction was popular among teens these days, because it reflects their reality.

The example used was The Hunger Games. Katniss starts off as a regular subjugated citizen, already testing the borders (that become more strictly enforced before too long). As an entrant in the Hunger Games, she’s a pawn in someone else’s agenda. As champion, she’s coerced into keeping up a front, in service of the President’s agenda. Then as Haymitch and co try to find her allies in the arena in Catching Fire, she pushes back against their agenda. As she becomes the Face Of The Resistance in the last book, we can understand her reluctance to assume the role.

I found some similarities in the Softwire series. JT and the other children of the Renaissance soon find themselves slaves, moving between owners over the course of the books. And their owners aren’t the only ones who are trying to use the kids for their own ends.

I think I can see why kids would identify with this.

At school, they’re pushed through many tests,and if they’re being “taught to the test”, as we so often hear, as opposed to really understanding the material, then they’re there to make the school or the teacher look good.

We see and hear parents say something along the lines of “you must go to a particular college/university, because I did and it was the Best Thing Ever”, or try to push the kid down a particular career path from a young age, without finding out if the child was particularly suited to, or interested in, it or not.

We hear of Scotland appointing state overseers for every child. And everywhere else in the Western world, the state acts like it owns the children before the parents do.

Case in point: while we were in England, we decided to not take Oldest for a developmental check (we knew he was fine, and going anywhere in the day is hard when you work nights). When the State decided it Really Needed To Meddle in our lives, it got used against us and we were made to take him for the development check (spoiler: he turned out to be fine. What do you know). When the State-sent busybody was whining about it, I ran through the list of all the things we’d taken him to, vaccines he’d had, and all that. “Those are optional” she whined, unconvincingly. It was obvious that if we’d declined any of that other stuff, and gone to the development check, that check would have been labelled “optional” and the other stuff not. Anyway, while she was whining about the development check, I pointed out that Oldest was fine. “But we don’t know that.” Yep, the State thinks it owns your kids.

You hear politicians and talking heads going on about the things we “must” do, “The Children!” are always an easy excuse to do it. No matter that it usually won’t help them, just another drudgery added to the burden they’ll have to carry when they’re of age.

School already felt like a prison to many, back when I went, these days we see, in some places, that they have to go through metal detectors and the like, just to get into school, each day.

Kids are told what they can and can’t eat, all with the best intentions, I’m sure. You hear stories of kids not allowed to bring packed lunches to school, or having the contents of such scrutinised, or being chastised when they share it with a hungry friend.

The list goes on and on, and I’m sure I don’t know most of it. But thinking about it, it’s not a surprise that they identify with stories set in dystopic societies.

They live in one.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.” – C.S. Lewis – I’ve seen it variously as from “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment” and “God In The Dock” – I haven’t checked.

I believe that where I heard about The Hunger Games reflecting the experience of kids today, was in the talk “Systemic Abandonment, “The World Beneath,” and Postmodern Adolescence”.

“We must dissent.” – M. Godwinson.

Square Notes Into Round Clefs

Today I was working on stuff for the Holy Transfiguration site.

I went back into MuseScore and converted the Beatitudes from four staves (as I did it initially) to two (soprano and alto together on the treble clef, and tenor and bass together on the bass clef).

Copying and pasting first the alto and the bass, changing them to Voice 2, and then copying and pasting the soprano and the tenor, worked for the most part. Things like triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets (which is how I work around the notes that are chanted quicker than a quaver) didn’t survive being changed between the voices, sometimes slurs needed redoing, and fermatas didn’t survive the voice-switching either, so it was a bit more work than I hoped, but it went ok.

I tried following that up by transcribing “Vouchsafe, O Lord”. I’m not really happy with its’ current state: some parts seem a little slow, and I’m not sure if it’s that the whole thing is slow. The tuplets I put in seem ok, I’m a bit paranoid that they will be too fast if I end up needing to up the tempo for the piece as a whole. I’m not happy with this piece, yet. Not ready for the limelight.

I did, fairly quickly upon searching, find an image that would be good to use on our service books. When I’m closer to having all the pieces ready for one of the service books, I’m pretty sure I’ve found the right email address to ask for permission to use it. I found them on a blog, which linked back to another site, who credited someone for giving them permission, I’ve found the email address of someone with his name, so with any luck…

Not entirely happy with the free hosting place I’m using there. Throws up an ad when you go there, and it disagrees a lot with Internet Explorer. A friend has offered me a very charitable rate for hosting the Transfiguration site with him. Very much tempted to go with that. Need to discuss it before I jump into that.

Adventures in Computer Security

My first email address was a Hotmail one. I was in college, and kept trying lots and lots of different things until I found one that they didn’t try and stick a number after. It was frog-themed, and I’ve kept that theme ever since. Even when I branched out into other webmail, even with a slightly modified name on message boards. I had a different website for a while, that had an amphibious motif to it.

I ran Outlook for a while, but have kept coming back to webmail.

These days, of course, we know that email is collected and analysed, some by the email providers to advertise to you better, some by the government because they’re fricking control freaks.

When America was still The Colonies, the British would intercept and analyse mail, looking for treasonous, rebellious and terroristic intent. The colonies set up their own mail system to get around this. Now the US government collects the world’s emails for the exact same purpose. What they’re saying (and not just with this issue), is that the British were right all along.

Well done, you public officials who swore to uphold the Constitution (which was rather against this sort of thing), but let this happen.

Just like the American colonists of yesteryear, there are digital colonists who rightly think that perhaps today’s government is overreaching just a little bit. And then finding ways around it.

Encrypting emails is one way that people are reclaiming their liberty and freedom.

A while ago I read an article on things you could do to improve your internet security and privacy, and a new one just did the rounds in the last couple of weeks. I gave the SeaMonkey internet suite a go, partly for a “try a different browser” challenge (I now use SeaMonkey, IE9, Vivaldi and Opera 12 daily, with FireFox as a “guest” browser on the machine proper, and FireFox as the default browser on my Lubuntu Virtual Machines). I chose SeaMonkey also for email encryption, but I haven’t tried setting that up until today. I read about it months ago, and I’m mainly getting around to it now because I’m finally setting up (after about a week now) the email for this site.

SeaMonkey’s email program doesn’t do the privacy stuff on its own, you have to install a couple of other things.

I followed the instructions for Enigmail. The first thing to do is install GnuPG (which was very straightforward). Installing Enigmail for SeaMonkey was a bit less obvious, but I found it by going through SeaMonkey’s menu, and looking for addons. Setting everything up was straightforward. Well, might be not-entirely-easy for the not-techie, especially throwing in the POP3 settings and everything (POP downloads your emails from the web server to your computer, IMAP leaves them on the server – figured the less time on the server the better). Fairly straightforward to do, but a bit of work.

If you’re looking through the instructions, I didn’t put my Public Key up for the world to see, yet, or really any of the steps after that.

Start small. One step at a time. and work up to sending everything encrypted: cat pictures, puns, world domination plans, the usual :)

Late-night ramblings

Been a long day, not sure what to say.

In the past few days, I’ve had good feedback about a couple of websites I’ve made (one of them’s not live yet, I’m itching to make it live).

Tonight we had some out-of-town visitors, who were here relatively spontaneously. We had a nice chat, then one settled down to watch Serenity (we hope you liked it!), while the other sat down for board games.

First game of the night was The Settlers Of Catan, the classic gateway drug. I did really well when we first got that game, but more recently I’ve been struggling to do even partway well. A lot of it’s luck of the numbers, of course (two early 7s when I was just about able to do something with the cards, set me back quite a way), and everyone having the same resources, so trading was awkward. A couple of thievings when I was consistently behind.

All part of the game, though. I ended with a tragic 4 points.

The second game of the night was one I backed on Kickstarter, Harbour. I played it once just with Oldest, and once with parents-in-law a little while after that, and it’s been ages since then til now, the third play.

It’s a lot easier learning it the third time – remembering what to do, from the mistakes we made before.

Once I’d arranged my resources, I bought the clock tower – high in price, high in points. Not one that fit with my strategy, got a couple of resources when others wanted to use it. My next purchase was the similarly high-point, high-price Abbey. Helps you a lot, helps your opponents a little.

After that, I needed to recoup my resources. I built up, and got a bit lucky right at the end of saving, so that I could have 20 to spend. A 10-cost item I had my eye on got bought. I got a bit lucky, getting my purchasing power increased right before my turn.

I set my meeple on an unbought card that gave me 2 buys that turn. I bought two expensive buildings.

It was getting really late, so the other players forwent their last turn, because no-one really stood a chance of catching up.

Fun. Tired. Night, all!

Children, Language and Meddling

When I grew up, I was fond of Enid Blyton books. I think she told good stories. It was cool how kids were given free reign to do extraordinary things. She did very well at writing books for very different levels of reading. Noddy was for very young kids, Secret Seven was at a lower level of reading than Famous Five. She told the adventure/detective stories like Seret seven and Famous Five, but also much more fairy tale and fantasy with things like the Wishing Chair and The Faraway Tree series, I enjoyed the Mallory Towers and St Clare’s series, and all of this was fairly far removed from my own experiences.

It seems to be the case that the world of the not-fantasy Blyton books, that innocent, idealised, Fifties England (we assume it’s England, at any rate), never really existed. Except in our heads. And that’s OK.

In recent times, kids have been absorbed into the fantasy world of Harry Potter. At school I remember being exposed to a bit of Chaucer, and I think we’re still teaching kids Shakespeare. Expelliarmus and forsooth.

There are worlds, like Chaucer’s and Dickens’ and Shakespeare’s, that expose us to English cultures that are very different to the culture of today. We joke, of course, that we wish these books had been written in English (even without the assistance of General Chang). we expect kids to be able to grasp differences in culture and language (sometimes with the aid of footnotes. “Get thee to a nunnery!”).

Worlds like Harry Potter’s, Middle-Earth, and (not so much for kids but worth mentioning) the world of Stephen King’s Dark Tower (do ya kennit?) invite us to learn new languages, as a significant aid for introducing these new places to us.

This isn’t exclusively the realm of books we expose older children to. If you think that way, you really haven’t read enough Dr. Seuss, who sometimes writes in an exaggerated real-ish world, sometimes in super-crazy nonsense world, and sometimes switching between those places where it doesn’t make any sense.

And of course, it’s not just these. Gilbert & Sullivan. The Eragon books. Jane Austen. And it’s not just books: Disney (bibbedy-bobbedy-boo, supercalifragilisticexpialedocious). Doctor Who. Star Trek (“taH pagh taHbe’. DaH mu’tlheghvam vlqelnlS. quv’a’, yabDaq San vaQ cha, pu’ je SIQDI’? pagh, Seng blQ’a’Hey SuvmeH nuHmey SuqDI’, ‘ej, Suvmo’, rlnmoHDI’?“).

And as a rule, even when we do revise the text (there’s been modern-day retellings of Shakespeare, for instance), the original versions are widely available.

So I don’t understand the revisionism we see with Enid Blyton books.

The word “queer” gets changed to “weird”, “gay” gets changed, too (probably to “happy”?). Spankings get changed to something more politically correct. We can explain Chaucer and Shakespeare to kids, but can’t explain slightly archaic uses of words, or the fairly recent cultural appropriateness of corporal punishment?

“Dick” and “Fanny” get renamed to “Rick” and “Franny”. I know people with these names. If kids can’t get their giggles out of the way while reading the books, and getting invested in the characters, what happens if they meet people with these names (or hear secondhand of someone with these names)? Especially if they find out about the doctoring of these books.

I find it disappointing that I can’t be sure my kids are reading the same books that I read. That I probably didn’t read quite the same books that my parents read. That the publishers don’t trust my kids with Blyton, the way that they (and the schools) trust them with Shakespeare or Chaucer. That they respect practically every other author enough to not rewrite their work, but don’t respect Mrs Blyton enough to give her the same courtesy. That it’s just about impossible for the general public to find the text as-originally-published (not to completely dismiss the role of the editor), even just for comparison. Heck, when buying the Secret Seven books for Oldest recently, prior to purchase I couldn’t find out which revision of the text it was (I don’t think that anybody’s been able to keep track of the incremental changes that have happened over the years – I went looking).

I might joke about the publishers needing forty lashings, but I’d much prefer the original texts as an option. Let the market decide how much the revisions are worth (you can tell my opinion).

I’ll keep the lashings of ginger beer, though.

Learning Three Things At Once

I’m attempting to teach my oldest to ride a bike.

I remember that my Dad taught me, but I don’t remember how he did it.

There are three separate things that you have to pick up all at the same time:

  • Balance
  • Steering
  • Pedalling

Of these, all three are the most important.

I can mitigate pretty much all three by walking alongside, holding handlebars and seat. That ends up being quite hard work, though: there’s quite a height difference. On our first outing, we started like this on the path, and after we’d picked up speed we’d move onto the grass, where it was safer to let go. Sometimes he’d coast for a couple of meters before crashing, sometimes he’d start his descent before I let go.

Trying something different this second time out, I tried to get him to sit on the seat and kind of walk with his tiptoes. He wasn’t really into this, the experiment didn’t last long.

Next, I held the front wheel between my legs, and had him try pushing from one foot to the other. He got bored with this quickly as well, even with the challenge of trying to stay between legs.

It also didn’t help that there was a kid (maybe 4 years old) going around the track, on a bicycle, with training wheels, saying about how he could go faster than us.

Oldest wanted to go back to the method we’d tried before.

Most of the way round the track, I hit on something else to try, a trick I’d picked up, possible after I learned to ride.

Had Oldest hold the handlebars, standing to the left of the bike. Had him put his right foot on the left pedal, and push himself along with his left foot. It’s learning balance, not centered, you have to push and lean right, but hopefully it will help.

We went the rest of the way round the track like this, taking a sit-down break partway through when he didn’t want to do it anymore. After that I insisted he try it the rest of the way.

He fell off a couple of times, leaning or pushing too far to the right: that’s the way the bike went over. One time he found himself kneeling on the side of the bike (the side facing up). It was spectacular, but hurt. He was doing pretty well, though: this might be the most promising method so far. He was managing to coast reasonable lengths for someone starting out. He was wanting to abandon the bike and go onto the slides, from before even the sit-down time (I got him to carry on scooting to the gate to that area, then let him play a little). He was happy the times he managed to coast along for a little. Might try this again next time :)

 

Radio Killed The Radio Star

Coming out of a discussion that just happened in the room behind me (that I joined in with). There’s something about not having control over the music you’re listening to.

There have been several places I’ve worked where the radio has been on for the enjoyment (or otherwise) of the employees.

One was a relatively small store, where we had a little boom box on out back, in the warehouse area of the store. Sometimes we’d bring in CDs, but most of the time we’d hear the radio. A lot of the time we weren’t back there, being on the shop floor, but even then it was clear that some stations were more repetitive than others. Virgin’s “No Repeat 9-5″ offered some reprieve to this sameness… until you clued in to the fact that the playlist was pretty much the same every day. You could just about set your clock by the appearance of some of the songs – if I remember correctly (it was ten years ago), there was a period where the great November Rain by Guns ‘n’ Roses without fail would come on right before the 11 o’clock news. Made it easy to find out what the song was called.

Out on the road, by that point, I had started reverting to the rather more talky Radio 2.

A few years later, I was working in a rather large distribution centre on a night shift. The shift lengths varied a bit over the years I was there – it was between 8 and 10 hours a night. They played radio there, too: I think the station got picked by one of the office workers, I know it changed sometimes.

The speakers in the area I worked in were relatively small for the area they had to cover. Other parts of the complex, you could hear more clearly. Where I spent the most time, you could hear the higher frequencies kinda ok, and the lower frequencies not at all. The upshot being, if there was an annoying part to a song, you would get that scratched into your brain.

For example, Beyonce’s “All The Single Ladies” was popular at the time, and you couldn’t hear the grungey electro-industrial weirdness that runs under the song. You could hear the singer, but not particularly clearly. The part where she repeats “All the single ladies” over and over – it sounded very much like “I want cigarettes”.

Another song that became particularly obnoxious very quickly was Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”. There was one song, and I think it was this one, that I counted five times in one shift. Seriously? A century of recorded music and you have to play that whiny junk over and over again? (incidentally, this also was the only song that carried through our floor from the shop below, while I was trying to get to sleep. Un-fun…)

Actually, most of the songs I tired of easily (Single Ladies, too) just sounded so whiny. The tinny speakers didn’t help, of course.

But even pre-tinny speakers. “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt. Just as whiny. (May I recommend the Dead Ringers parody version.)

As music radio became more tedious to listen to, I started listening to other things. Especially in that distribution centre job. Final Fantasy MIDIs on my phone soon became mp3s of my CDs, soon became podcasts and podiobooks. I’d venture to say that podcasts have changed my life. This may not have been possible without the utter tediosity that radio has become, so I can’t be entirely ungrateful.

I’m not quite in the same boat as Queen, though. “Radio, someone still loves you!” That wouldn’t be me. Radio, I’d be happy to love you again, but most of the time you’re just not really worth listening to.

———————-

Reading Program update: Oldest hit 9 hours altogether, Middlest hit two. I reached one hour total from reading to kids (today’s half-hour reading to Middlest, most of that was a chapter of The House At Pooh Corner) and five minutes on my stopwatch from reading to myself, in a little break, and I didn’t count thumbing through a newspaper from 1975.

Tree Assault

Today we had a visit from the designer of the sidewalk that’s going to be put in through our front yard. We found out they were putting the sidewalk there, as opposed to by the road (which would be in line with the sidewalk where it starts/ends a couple of blocks down) about a week after we planted trees and shrubs, some of which we will now have to move. Only one is actually in the path of the sidewalk, two are on the road side of where the sidewalk will be. Our happy maple, on the house side of the sidewalk, may also need to move, as it’s in the two feet buffer zone that the contractors might want to work in. I wonder if we will be able to talk them into working around it.

That was just the stuff we’ve just planted. We’ve got some well-established bushes that they’ll want to hack down – they’ve already cut down some (admittedly sad) trees next door, and some in the next block.

It troubles me that they send the designer as diplomat on the last day of the public consultation into the project. Like, if you have objections after getting the information and explanations, you’re just about out of time to voice them.

We didn’t think of any objections when the designer was here. I recall him mentioning something about the sidewalk being slightly below the level of the ground as it currently is, as it goes past our property. Didn’t think about it at the time, but it seems to me that the sidewalk would then collect a bit of the rainwater runoff from the grass  – which in our Rather Cold Winters could turn somewhat problematic for Those Poor Schoolkids that this path is for.

On a more positive note, today the Summer Reading Program at the library started. For those not familiar with it, the gist is that you sign up, record how much you read, and then for every so many hours of reading you do, you get a prize and a raffle ticket.

On these raffle tickets, you write your name and details, then you put it in a tub corresponding to a prize that you hope to win. In previous years, these prizes were divided into age groups. The first year that I was around for. there was a Lego kit in with the grown-up prizes. Since then, some years have been better than others for grown-up prizes, but for stuff I’m interested in, the trend is a general decline. Last year there were a couple of book series that looked kinda interesting, some years there have been cinema tickets. I guess the decline hasn’t meant a whole bunch as I haven’t won anything.

Invariably, though, some grown-up tickets land in the tubs for kid prizes, and vice-versa. Such tickets, if selected, have been thrown away (there was an embarrassing moment last year, when one tub contained ONLY the wrong-colour tickets). If I hadn’t known that, there are times when I’d have been much more tempted to put my tickets in for kid-prizes (not entirely selfishly, I have three kids).

This year they are experimenting with a free-for-all approach to those prizes. Interestingly, unless they’re just not displayed yet, there’s very few that seem to be aimed at grown-ups. We’ll see how this shakes out.

The design of the reading progress cards has also been in decline over the years. The kids’ cards have had something to tick off half-hour chunks until each eight-hour goal. Two years ago the pattern was very convoluted and hard to follow. Last year the design just looked like there were half-hour things to tick off, until partway through you realise that it just ain’t right. This year there’s nothing at all for that, so now we’ve got some scrap paper on the wall, with boxes to tick off for each half-hour.

It’s not just reading in your head that counts: reading to someone else counts for you AND them, so keeping track of how much counts for each person (especially with two kids in the program) gets kind of tricky. More so if you’re not counting in small increments like that.

First day: Oldest has read two-and-a-half hours towards his first 8-hour prize. Middle has been read to for two half-hours. I’ve only managed half an hour (reading to both kids). Once I hit the audiobooks (they somehow count, which is great for me), I’ll start doing really well.

As for butchered trees, I start the Reading Program partway into:

  • The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel
  • The Adventures Of The Wishing-Chair by Enid Blyton

Those are the ones I’m actively reading. Nineveh And Its Remains, by Austen Henry Layard, is also nearby, waiting for me to resume it.

And so much more that I’m looking forward to getting into and through. Busy summer.

A Different Kind Of Coding

In addition to the site for a friend that I mentioned the other day (nearly there, nearly there), I have also created a website for my church.

As part of the site, I’m uploading music that we use, hopefully to help new visitors, or people elsewhere looking into Orthodox Christianity.

To be honest, I started transcribing the music before I thought of doing the site: I’m not so good at harmony, and I was hoping to get the hang of the bass part before we were due to perform a song (that one’s not up yet, I’ll explain in a bit). It almost worked: singing and thinking the bass tune while hearing the soprano is somewhat tricky.

I’m using MuseScore for my transcription. I came across it a few years ago, when Windows Media Player was sucking at playing Final Fantasy MIDIs. Now I’m getting used to writing in it.

Time signatures in Orthodox church music are somewhat complex. Or to put it another way, they don’t really use bars. In a lot of cases, one tune (a “Tone”) is used for various different texts, so a line of music has to be adapted to different lengths to accommodate varying lengths of text.

What I’ve been doing, then, is when starting a new score, I’ve set a basic time signature (usually Common time), the tempo, and the number of bars I want. Then I delete the “C” denoting Common time (which at an early stage like this changes nothing), and change each bar to the length it needs to be (often between 8/4 and 15/4, few have been less, but a few have been more than that).

Took me a while to figure that out, also took me a while to figure out where to add in tempo, and how to have notes of differing length at the same place in the same stave (using Voices).

The earliest things I transcribed, I need to go back and redo, armed with all these things I’ve picked up along the way.

Today, despite missing the kids-having-rest-time and kids-watching-a-Sunday-show window of opportunity, I managed to do O Gladsome Light, one of my favourite hymns from Vespers. I like the “now that we have come to the setting of the sun” and “for meet it is at all times” parts. Orthodox Wiki has a nice page detailing the history of the song.

I’d started in earnest with transcribing Vespers (fewer changeable hymns), and started at the beginning. At this point I’ve skipped the changeable hymn, because I’m not sure how I’m going to integrate it into the new service book. Another day…

Today, I also started putting files up onto the Files page of the church site. The transcription and that website are my Sunday project, it’s nice to make progress on projects.