Thank you, Microsoft.
There, I said it. Words I thought would never cross my lips or flow from my fingertips are now out there for all the world to know. Our project makes me awestruck by the Twinkie-eating pencil-necked geeks who created the sublime “Track Changes” function in the otherwise forgettable Microsoft Word. I remain a mostly WordPerfect guy, and yearn for the day when some inventive entrepreneur merges WP’s “Reveal Codes” with MW’s “Track Changes” to create truly first-rate word processing software.
We are approaching the final stages of editing and revising the translated text for our first volume generated from A.J. Roubo’s “L’Art du Menuisier.” I am pleased to report Philippe’s assessment of Michele’s indefatigably brilliant translations (she is still averaging almost a page an hour!) and my extensive edits and annotations as being “on the mark” more than 95 percent of the time! Still, his light but authoritative touch on the manuscript is unmistakable, and invaluable.
The project remains simultaneously exhausting and gratifying, all the more enjoyable due to the opportunity to collaborate with these two dear friends. Recently I received a note from Philippe commenting that in a particular passage he was uncertain which was more vexing; the French or English. And this is from a native Francophone who trained at Ecole Boulle and has entirely mastered the arcane nuances of corporate and technical English! I can only imagine the trials of Roubo composing by hand an encyclopedia in a foreign tongue. True, it was not foreign to him, but it is sure foreign to me.
Which brings me back to Microsoft. I have already recounted the byzantine framework and implicit telecommunications technology we three are employing in leaving our own marker on the history of woodworking. Safe to say that any inventory of our computers would reveal several hundred versions of the sometimes gigantic documents we are jointly creating, and each contains dozens (more likely hundreds) of changes large and small that we MUST monitor in order to have any level of success in the end. Being able to track each iteration makes this a do-able project. Otherwise? Not likely, at least not in a span of a few dozen months instead of multiple decades.
If my experience with “Saving Stuff” (Simon & Schuster 2005) is any indication there will come a day quite soon when we will move past computers and back to reviewing the page proofs by hand, reading every sentence carefully and placing a blue check mark at the end of EVERY LINE with a sign-off initialing EVERY PAGE. Ugh. Otherwise the copy editor will track me down and beat me up. (Ed note: Don’s right. Not about getting beat up. But about the manual process at the end.)
I know we are getting closer to the end as Chris and I spoke only a few days ago about some of the arcane minutiae about book printing, binding, pricing, distributing… In the meantime I will continue to be transformed as a craftsman by accounts and descriptions older than our Republic.
Now, if I could just get Algore to make my Verizon DSL perform better than 54k baud…
— Don Williams