Coffee heat rising

March showers bring April winds…

So the spring winds are here. These are somewhat more brisker than a breeze but don’t (usually) rise to monsoon levels. Normally they blow the leaves and flowers off the shrubbery and the fruit off the trees, with the aim of dumping all that stuff in the natives’ pools.

Over the past week or ten days, though, we’ve had some passing stiff blows. Conveniently, these have provided an opportunity to test the latest panty-hose approach to pool filtration. And, by golly, it works!

Picked up some cheap hose on sale at a grocery store the other day. Lobbed off the legs, tied them off, and tied the resulting bag to the leaf-catcher. The booty-bag vacuumed up the leaves and twigs in about twenty seconds, without once threatening to slip off the device and dump its cargo all over the bottom of the pool. The one I secured inside the skimmer basket filter also stayed firmly in place; it was chuckablock full of leaves and blossoms this morning.

The trick is to disconnect Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner whilst the wind blows. This keeps him from choking on twigs, flying pecan shells, and the like. Dust, twigs, palm tree cuttings, and heavier leaves drop to the bottom of the pool; small blossoms and the BB-like palm-tree seeds alight on the surface and flat. After the wind dies down, one then turns on the pump, which sucks the floating debris into the skimmer basket and, by way of the current it sets up, pushes everything on the bottom into a convenient pile in one spot. Hence: the garden-hose driven leaf-catcher, which easily lifts the mound off the bottom and sucks it into the booty-bag.

Despite the half-bushel or so of plant debris, the pool is still holding its own against the recurring mustard algae, which by this time last year was joyously coating the walls with moss.

At one point earlier this spring, I was reminded that when I first moved into this house, I was so delighted with the pool that I used to sweep it down every day or so. Of late, that enthusiasm has flagged — not so much out of boredom with the pool but because the year of surgeries broke me of habits that entailed even small amounts of physical exertion and because of late the editorial workload has been such that I just flat haven’t had time to fiddle with the yard and the pool.

LOL! A friend of mine, a middling prominent music critic, once remarked that self-employment allows you to set your own hours: any 18 hours of the day you please.

Yea, verily.

When I moved into the house, lo these many years ago, I had…well, you know…a job. (Urk!) I worked regular hours, and those hours did not start at 6:30 or 7 a.m. and run all the way through to 11 p.m.

So, back in the day, I had lots of time to break out the pool brush and run it up and down the walls. It only takes about 10 minutes, once you get yourself off the dime. So there really was no problem with doing a few light maintenance chores before leaving for work.

Today when a job or three are in-house, it’s roll out of the sack, grab the computer, answer the mail, do the books, pay the bills, work on someone’s copy — all before breakfast. Feed the dogs, bolt down some toast and coffee, maybe write a blog post (maybe not), post some PR to Facebook & Twitter, edit copy or compile index entries…allllll day long.

Heh. No wonder I never get anything done!

Update: The Business

Along about 10:30 last night, I finished editing the latest Chinese academic paper, 12,250 words not counting the half-dozen complicated tables.

You understand: the last allegedly book-length manuscript I read was a little over 12,000 words… This is pretty large, for a journal article, which you would usually expect to run 3,000 to 5,000 words. And extremely arcane: a statistical study trying to make sense of the relationship between corporate board structure, Chinese laws, and the life cycle of firms over a period of 10 or 15 years.

The authors surfaced late last week and said they want it turned around by the end of the month. That is like right now.

Fortunately, by way of saving a few yuan, the co-authors asked me not to review the tables. That was a mercy, because tables cause some big problems with Office.

I sincerely hope the problem was the tables. Wyrd is allergic to tables and typically will react, after enough is enough, by swooning into a catastrophic crash, causing you to lose all your data not only in the file you’re working on but in any other files that are open at the time!

This can be dealt with by setting Wyrd’s auto-recover function to save every five minutes. Thus you lose only a few minutes of work, rather than a quarter-hour’s worth. Sounds good, eh?

Well…. It’s not nice to fool Mother Microsoft… Yesterday the thing started throwing up an error message to the effect that the computer was out of space and the document couldn’t be saved.


On the home stretch, fucking exhausted, anxious to get done…I knew I was GUNNA DIE if this thing decided it wouldn’t save to disk.

Rescued what I’d done by saving to RTF and, as fast as I could, emailing it to myself. This kept all the changes up to the point where these messages – which interestingly enough, occurred every five minutes – began to warn of an impending (current?) crash.

Opened it on the freaking enormous overpowered iMac, found nothing had been lost, and resumed working. Believe me, there’s more than enough space on that thing.

But…the file is still telling me it’s not being saved. Same irritating, nerve-wracking message.

Suspicious, think I, that it saved everything right up to the last edit before I launched it into the email ether. Hmmm…

I hit command-S (which is alt-FS in the real world), and it seems to save. Hm.

Again I email the file to myself…and again the saved attachment does contain all the edits I’ve entered.

At this point, I conclude the problem lies not in the Mac but in our corrupted file. Even the RTF version generates the same aggravating messages. It’s probably the tables.

So I keep working, frantically, and saving manually about at the end of every sentence. Then I have to go through and verify page after page after endless page of references. And yea verily, our worthies have included eight or ten sources to which they haven’t referred in-text. And the References section isn’t alphabetized. Or rather it is, in a cursory way…it takes looking at it with the glazing removed from one’s eyes to realize the problem isn’t just a couple of entries incorrectly entered, but that the entire thing is fucked over.

In a file that has corrupted. Oh, good.

But I finally manage to finish, finally manage to get it saved. Run a compare-docs operation to generate the edited version; then have to review the 23 pages of edits. Oh, God! What a jumble!

And of course, this file, too, keeps generating – every five minutes – the “I ain’t a-savin’ this thing” message.

At last the project is as done it can get, at least until such time as the journal’s editor arrives at the office and finds my query: I need to know how the journal formats References entries for books. This journal uses a bastardization of APA style. It’s largely APA, but with weird quirks…like bold-face italic c/lc for journal titles. My god!

The thing comes out through Oxford. Why the hell not use Oxford style? Ohhhhh no. We have to get weird.

I’m drafting this post in Wyrd by way of seeing what happens.

The answer: nothing. Evidently the problem was in the file, not in the hard drive.

Moving on.

This paper will generate almost $400.

The Copyeditor’s Desk hauled in a phenomenal amount of work this spring. To hit my $20,000 goal for all of 2017 by the first of July, I’ll only need a couple of articles like this a month, or one book-length editing project per month, or one major index per month. That is effing amazing.

If this keeps on, the S-corp will start to generate, for the first time in its existence, enough that I can draw down a salary. Hot dang!

Problem is, I’m pretty fuzzy about where all this business came from. Word of mouth, I think. It’s a little hard to believe that the switch from a page rate to a word rate worked effectively enough to open the floodgates.

The writing bookoid, which I intend not to market on Amazon so much as to use as a marketing tool for the bidness by handing it out at speaking engagements, has yet to go to press, simply because I haven’t had time to fiddle with it. I believe the ebook designer is about done with it, but for the past month I’ve been too sick to go to the weekly networking meeting where he and I see each other on a regular basis, so have no idea where we are there.

I’ve also got to re-up for Toastmaster’s, another task that I’ve been too lazy/busy/sick to attend to.

And so, onward…

New Plumbers…wooHOO!

So yesterday I lucked in to not one but TWO new plumbers, both highly recommended by people who should know. The one who returned my call first got my business: he came over and in short order unclogged the problem bathtub drain. Bill? $59.

That was one heckuva lot less than expected.

That guy surfaced on Yelp, where he has way, way more raves than anyone could possibly generate by bribing and begging one’s friends, customers, and Fiverr contractors to post there. The other man is beloved of WonderAccountant, her family, and her friends. He called later and made an excellent impression over the phone.

The first guy mostly does roto-rooting and drain clean-out, though he will do some plumbing chores. The second is a PLUMBER plumber: he installs and repairs pipes and fixtures. And, he allows, he doesn’t do much drain cleaning, largely because he doesn’t like to haul equipment up onto roofs.

My all-time favorite plumber dude feels the same about cleaning out drains. But the problem is, sometimes that’s the kind of plumbing help you need. And the problem with that is, fave plumber dude is one of those people who hates to tell people NO to their faces. So instead what he’ll do is say he’s involved in something or driving, and he’ll call you back when he returns to the shop.

Somehow, he never gets back to the shop. Like Poor Old Charlie on the MTA….

Alas, I’ve grown tired of decoding that message and have decided to hire WonderAccountant’s guy for serious plumbing jobs and the drain guy for plugs and plogs.

Besides the fact that I’ve been living with several faucets that I hate for the past 13 years, since I moved into the house, there is about to be some serious plumbing work in this place. Drain Dude says that he couldn’t retrieve the doodad that fell into the bathtub drain, and the next time it plugs up, we may have to pull out the bathtub, take out the drain, and rebuild it. Charming.

On Other Fronts…

Yesterday also saw the completion of a number of other projects: Finished the latest math paper and shipped it off to the client along with a statement. Calculated a statement for editing 14 scholarly papers, based on the varying difficulty of the respective papers, and sent that to the anthology’s editor. Calculated how much we would have earned had we charged by the word instead of by the page; reported thereon to bidness partner. Wrote a post for Plain & Simple Press. Entered budgeting data. Filed paper filed paper filed paper filed paper…. Paid bills. Tried to write a post for LinkedIn but gave up after LinkedIn crashed the damn thing, apparently erasing everything I’d written. I hoped it didn’t somehow publish it, because it wasn’t finished and of course it wasn’t even faintly proofread.

LinkedIn has revamped its site, making it difficult to navigate and difficult to use. This morning I found the errant post, which had crashed when I tried to insert a jpeg in the post. Apparently you are NOT allowed to insert images in your “articles,” except for the one you put in the banner. You can enter “multimedia” — figuring out how will take more time than I care to kill when I’m this busy. Why fix it, dear LinkedIn, if it ain’t broke?

All but two important tasks ultimately got done yesterday. Those are still hanging fire. I have to leave in half an hour to meet a client-become-friend for lunch; on the way home have to stop at Safeway and the credit union, meaning it will mid- to late-afternoon by the time I drag back in the door.

And…having just posted that LinkedIn article, I’m now running late for the luncheon appointment. So, away!

Maybe a Brief Break?

Stack of Index Cards, each card individually groupedFinally finished the Endless Index, on the far side of mid-afternoon — that’s after starting at 5 a.m., after having worked till 10:00 p.m. last night. Gasp!

WHAT a job. Really, I think it’s one of the most difficult editorial jobs I’ve ever done. Not that there was anything terrible about it — the author has really done quite a tour de force. It’s hard to even imagine how long it must have taken her to write the thing. It’s huge.

She covered the ground. Then she went back and plowed it up. Then she raked it down. Then she planted it. We’re talkin’ major acreage here.

The result is content that is extremely dense. Every page has indexable data embedded in it. It’s not one of those things where you can go “widgets, history of, 236-242.” You have to read every paragraph, find the index terms, and relate each one of them to piles and piles of other terms. What’s she’s writing is as intricate as a web. Each part of it links to many other parts, and you’ve got to organize the stuff for the index in a way that a reader can make sense of it and track down whatever s/he is looking for.

In other words…your attention dare not wander.

Anyway, now I’ve got to get back to Honored Client’s  book, which is now in page proofs. That’s 431 pages to plow through — again! — proofread, mark up, and fix. Again.

He’s been out of town for the weekend, but you can be sure he’ll be hot to trot tomorrow when he gets back in.

Chinese graduate student continues to suffer. She has a totally brutal dissertation director…it’s amazing the guy gets away with what he does. I guess things must be tilted a little more in favor of faculty in Singapore.

We had an inquiry for another project — stateside — from LinkedIn, but it looks like nothing is gonna come of that. Just as well.

I planned to farm it out. But it still would be one more thing to supervise.

However, if work continues to flow in the way it has over the past three months, it would provide all I’d need to live on, when added to Social Security. It really doesn’t cost much to live, with the house paid off and the antique car still running.

I would so love to earn enough to rent a car and go over to Santa Fe for a few days. Or hell, even to drive around Arizona — it’s been forever since I’ve been to Bisbee or Patagonia or Jerome and waypoints. Yea verily: years.

The gas grill is busted — its starter won’t start. And no, new batteries don’t help. So I’ve fired up the ancient charcoal grill…and that’s pretty amazing. It is, we might say, weather-beaten.

§ § § §

But it still works! 🙂 Overcooked the hamburg a bit, but roasted the potatoes and the asparagus to perfection.

It’s been so long since I’ve used that thing that the plastic bag holding the hardwood chips had rotted away inside the charcoal bin. There was more than enough charcoal loose in there, though, plus a whole new, unopened bag of mesquite charcoal. So that’s good.

It’s a little more hassle to light up a charcoal fire than it is to flick a switch and turn on a gas grill. Had to bum some newsprint from the neighbor for the charcoal “chimney” lighter, since I no longer subscribe to the Times. No problem, though: they had a bunch of it in the recycling.

Chimney gadget still works. Grills still need to be scrubbed. The wood parts of the thing are falling apart — but I expect I could build some new ones pretty easily.

That would be a good project.

§ § § §

I have got to walk those dogs. The poor beasts  haven’t been outside the yard in days and days.

Me neither, come to think of it…

And so, away.

Index cards: Deposit Photos, @adroach