The secret society of Valenciano-speakers

First page of exercises in the most basic textbook I can find

First page of exercises in the most basic textbook I can find

I have made quite a bit of progress over the last couple of years in Xàtiva learning Spanish. Although I still have a huge amount to learn, I no longer worry about having to answer the phone or go to the shops and ask for something. (Thanks to my teachers, Aarón and Saffron)

So I have been contemplating starting to learn the local language, Valenciano (which is almost identical to Catalan, which is spoken in Catalunya, the area around Barcelona). read more…

Procesión general del Santo Entierro – Xàtiva 2013

We went to the Good Friday “General Procession of the Holy Burial of Christ” in Xàtiva yesterday. The procession lasted about two hours.

Spain still maintains a lot of its traditions and there are processions and festivals in Xàtiva several times every year. I love them, as they usually involve the participants dressing up in traditional costumes. I went to the Fallas celebrations in Valencia a couple of weeks ago, which also involve processions in the traditional costumes, but those are modelled on medieval finery, these ones are based on religious dress, especially the “Capirotes” which were worn by the Spanish Inquisition.

Our first pomegranate

We’ve two pomegranate trees in the garden, and the larger one (in the foreground below) produced one fruit this year (which is not bad considering it was only planted last November). Unfortunately, I didn’t think to photograph the fruit until I had started opening it to try the seeds.

The pomegranate tree. The second one is smaller, behind the grass with yellower leaves.

I found an article on the web which seemed to offer a simple way to get the seeds out (other methods include immersing it in water – that seemed a lot of hassle).

After scoring the skin and starting to split the segments open

There are lots of ways you can use the seeds, so we hope we get many more fruits next year!
It didn’t take long to open, and then I ate the seeds straight from the chopping board with a spoon. Here’s my harvest from one pomegranate:

One pomegranate’s worth of seeds!

No wonder the country is going to the dogs

I think the British education system suffered a lot in the 1980’s and later: O- and A-Levels were successively dumbed down, the study of foreign languages became optional in September 2004, it it became illegal to use corporal punishment, and some children’s parents automatically supported their child against disciplinary measures that the school tried to enforce.

I thought that this trend pushed by the “do-gooder generation” had been halted. So I was was surprised to read that the BBC, the British government, and some schools have been re-writing traditional nursery rhymes to make them “politically correct” and non-violent as recently as 2009. Here’s an example:

The original children’s poem:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses, And all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again!

A sanitised version:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
He didn’t get bruised,
He didn’t get bumped,
Humpty Dumpty bungee jumped!

Not to mention:

In 2009, a Government-funded song book changed the lyrics of What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor? to remove any reference to alcohol or punishment.

Instead the ‘drunken sailor’ was transformed into a ‘grumpy pirate’ and ‘Put him in the brig until he’s sober’ was replaced by ‘Do a little jig and make him smile’.

I think it is a great pity that Britian today has so little regard for its own culture that changes like these are initiated by government bodies.

Of course there have always been other versions of nursery rhymes, for example bawdy versions that were popular with rugby club members, but to discover that the government and the BBC have been “sanitising” the original children’s rhymes is a shock.

Fortunately, The English Folk and Dance Society is now being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to record the original versions before they die out. (Now I’ll get off my high horse for a while).

Learn how to make better use of Google

Typical Monday agoogleaday puzzle

Google is running a series of puzzles at over the next months, which can be solved if you know how to use Google to help you. If you get stuck, you can click on “Show Answer” below the puzzle, and Google explains what you needed to search for. The questions are easiest on Mondays and get steadily more difficult as the week progresses. If you make your searches directly from the agoogleaday page, Google filters the results so you don’t see any websites which have posted the answer.

Here the answer to the (easy, Monday) puzzle above:

Answer to the above puzzle

Recreating the correct links to files in iTunes

The Mac mini I set up with Snow Leopard Server had previously been acting as a server using the client version of OS X. While I was setting up the server again after installing the Server operating system, I decided to also combine the existing external data drive with a second drive and make a RAID array. That meant reformatting both drives before they could be mapped as a RAID set. So I backed up my data (to a third drive) and then created the RAID set and copied my data back onto the new RAID drives.

I only realised some time later that I had used different names for the data partition before and after setting up the RAID array. So the iTunes library was full of little grey exclamation marks, indicating the track can no longer be found. If you double click on the track, iTunes will allow you to navigate to the new location of the music and will re-link the meta data in iTunes to the file containing the track. But with over 1000 albums and a lot of podcasts, that was not practicable:

The easiest way to fix the problem, that I am aware of, is to export the complete library as it is to your desktop.

How to export your library

This produces a file containing XML statements, however, you don’t need to be able to do more than identify your path to the tracks in this file. You need that because you are going to substitute the new path for the old one wherever it occurs. You can edit the XML file using, for example, TextWrangler and simply make a global replacement of the old path (up to, but not including the file name) with the new path. This might take several minutes – in my case the library file was 37 MB and that does take a time to substitute all the occurrences.

When the file has been edited and saved, you can import it into iTunes.

How to import the edited XML library file

The only small problem is that you will now have all your tunes listed twice, once with an exclamation mark and once without. However that is no big thing – you can eliminate the “wrong” tracks (with exclamation marks) by downloading and running the Super Remove Dead Tracks script from Doug’s Apple Scripts web site.

Being a script it is very slow, taking about 4 hours to run in my case. However, once it has finished its magic, you will have a clean iTunes library again.