The News of the World is not so great — you tune into Google News just to see what new signs of dementia are emanating from the White House — so one looks to a smaller scale in the search for things that have turned out well.
• The CRP V500 Call Blocker ordered up from Amazon a couple weeks ago. Damned if the thing doesn’t WORK, pretty much as advertised. The nuisance calls have fallen off to almost nil. The crooks who like to jangle your phone at 7:00 a.m.: blocked. The sh!theads that call at 9:00 p.m.: blocked.
The number of robocalls per day has dropped from about a half-dozen to one. As a reviewer at Amazon noted, nuisance incoming drops precipitously as you block those who do get through. The first day or two after the gadget came to live on my phone line, robocall harassment dropped from six or eight a day to two or three. Within another few days, it was down to one a day. That’s one helluva big improvement on six or eight interruptions a day, especially when you do the kind of high-focus, ditzy work I do.
Speaking of the which…
• Billing by the Word. Why did I never think of this before? It looks more and more like it’s true that when people hear “YY cents per word,” they imagine that sounds better than “X dollars per page.” This is so even when the YY cents works out to more, overall, than X dollars.
I just sent off the most incredibly mind-numbingly complicated piece of network theory to its Chinese authors — really, on the highest end of what I’m qualified to do. They didn’t even blink when I asked for a stiff fee expressed in pennies per word. The result: I’ll get paid something close to what my time and skills are worth. No more giving away hours of time for minimum wage. Or less.
Now I’m thinking there should be a way to convert this by-the-word approach to indexing. As a matter of fact, the latest would-be indexing client asked how much I would charge to index his academic tome “per word.”
Indexing is not normally calculated by the word; it’s charged by indexable printed page. You work from page proofs, unless you’re entering code in a Wyrd manuscript for machine indexing. I personally find that to be more work than just going through page proofs and…you know…reading the copy. And, oh, say thinking about where entries belong, how they should be ordered, who’s going to use the index, and why.
But it does occur to me that I could calculate an average number of words per page by pasting from PDF to Wyrd and figuring an average from, say, 10 pages. Or simply copying all the indexable pages into Wyrd and reading the total word count.
When you think about how you would do that so as to come up with the desired $4 to $6 a page, you come up with a per-word range of 1.05 to 1.75 cents per word. A typical 350-page academic tome would have something between 81,250 and 82,500 indexable words. That would create a range of about $800 to about $1200, which is what I’ve been getting with the existing page rates. It would even allow for pushing an estimate as high as $1445, for really complicated and abstruse horror shows.
Today, if I have time after getting through 10,000 words of the other client’s Great Novel of the 21st Century, I’ll update the business’s website to reflect a per-word system for indexing as well as for editing.
• The Countertop Oven Gambit. Now that has worked out well. The self-destructing wall oven is permanently turned off at the breaker, and any broiling, roasting, or toasting that needs to be done happens on the propane grill or in the little oven.
It works exceptionally well to make toast. REAL toast, not warm bread, not slabs of charcoal. It’s fast, clean, and out of the way.
Given Mrs. JestJack’s concerns about the potential fire hazards associated with the things, it gets unplugged after each use. It now resides in the garage, on a work table lined with ceramic flooring tiles. It seems to be pretty well insulated — doesn’t ever get hot underneath the thing — but I’m careful not to put any paper products near it and also to be sure it’s left unplugged. Although I have yet to get around to installing another smoke alarm out there, that’s high on the list of priorities. In lieu of an alarm, I’m careful to leave the door open between the kitchen and the garage, and not to wander off while bread is toasting or cheese is melting.
• The Weather, For a Change. It’s raining again, lhudly sing huzzah. We’ve had so much rain this winter, I’ve been able to turn off the irrigation system altogether, thereby cutting the city’s water gouge in half.
Just now we’re getting the tail end of the storm that’s hovering over Southern California. The drought is officially broken in that state, reservoirs full and streams running again. Whether that’s the case here remains to be seen — our drought has run longer than 10 years. However, the kind of soft rain we’re having now is crucial: it recharges the groundwater, because it doesn’t run off to the Gulf of California the way a hard rain does.
We should have wildflowers this spring. Real wildflowers. For the first time in years!
• Shopping Less at Costco. Not allowing myself to be dragooned back to Citibank’s obnoxious Visa card has worked to surprisingly good effect. Because it’s a little bit of a hassle to charge up goods on the credit union’s Visa card or debit card — you have to produce your official Costco card as well as a second piece of plastic, and now you have two statements to hassle with instead of just one AMEX bill — I’ve taken to shopping in grocery stores and on Amazon in preference to Costco.
That means I’m spending a lot less, overall, each month.
Yesterday’s bills came in on budget, in theory: about $1200, right around what I’ve always figured for routine spending. But… The actual routine spending was a lot less than that. The $1200 tab included a $235 HVAC service/repair bill, $200 for a pair of shoes I didn’t need and shouldn’t have bought, and $150 for the dentist.
So that means I spent $585 less than I used to spend routinely! Mostly by staying out of Costco.
• The Wash Machine Gambit. I love, love, love and worship the new Speed Queen washer. Oh, my GOSH what a difference between this marvelous old-fashioned machine and the accursed HE, low-water contraption. It works, it actually gets the clothes clean, it never tangles anything into a braid, and it does the job in 30 minutes flat.
It’s a miracle.