…again. Freelance work comes out of a spigot that someone else controls. It’s on for awhile, off for awhile. Sometimes dribbles. Sometimes overflows the sink. Just now it looks like we’re going into “overflow” mode.
Yesterday I finished off the latest Chinese math paper and sent it back to the authors…accompanied by a nice statement. 🙂 Very interesting article, amazingly enough. Some of these things are just mental masturbation: publish any damnfool thing for the sake of P&T (or whatever the equivalent is for Chinese academics). But this one? Not so much.
They’ve created a sophisticated data analysis of the way air pollution moves among 168 of China’s major cities. China, in case you missed this particular boat, is now the world’s most industrialized country, and it has the smog to go with. In some cities the air is truly dangerous to breathe.
The Chinese, however, are starting to get off the dime. They’re trying to come up with ways to control various kinds of pollution, and bad air is one of them. The system our heroes have come up with amounts to a tool that could be used to assess the sources and movement of pollution in any country…and of course, that insight is very valuable, indeed. Don’t know if citizens of the PRC can make something proprietary. But if these guys can, they should.
And…now you see why I do. not. want. to. put. my. clients’. work. in. the. Cloud! How hard is this to understand, dear Microsoft, dear Apple?????
Meanwhile, a middling-sized book came in for indexing. And that converted yesterday into another one of those stupid DAYS.
Needed to get about 250 pages printed. Even though I do have a laser-like printer with a practically bottomless ink cartridge, I really don’t want to print out page proofs for an entire book. So I usually trot the digital file over to my favorite FedEx place, which is a bit of a drive.
Really, I wanted to get started on the indexing project. Like now, not later. Plus I need another packet of index cards (yes, Virginia, there are still indexers who actually read the copy and actually make real, hand-crafted indexes). There’s a UPS store that will copy stuff for you on the fringe of a ghost shopping center called MetroCenter, just across the freeway from the Funny Farm. And directly across the street from that joint is a Staples, which I could visit on the way to the UPS store. While there is a Staples directly across 20th Street from the FedEx shop, the parking lot there is a screaming nightmare to navigate.
So it seemed like the path of least resistance to dart up to Metrocenter, grab the cards, and have the UPS clerk print out 245 indexable pages.
Not-so-much x 10³…
The traffic between here and Metrocenter is tangled by the accursed goddamned lightrail. You have to get over the train tracks, and because the thing curves west at GangBanger’s Way and comes to light in an end-of-the-line depot, navigating the left turn at that corner takes for-freaking-nightmarish-EVER. Normally I would backtrack into Richistan, go up the Genteel Folks’ feeder street, and hang a left onto GangBanger. This takes you through the intersection of GangBanger’s Way and Conduit of Blight without much delay, because it circumambulates the turn into the train depot.
But it dawns on me that maybe I could get there easier by taking Feeder Street E-W across Conduit of Blight, into Blight Central, across to B.C.’s main feeder street, cross Conduit of Blight on that road, and proceed straight up to the main drag on which both the Staples and the UPS store reside.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Ah, but this is Phoenix. Roads are not designed to make residents’ lives easy here. To the contrary.
The signals at BC’s feeder street, at Conduit of Blight, and at Staples/UPS Road were just fucking interminable. The traffic was gawdawful. I was not the only one who had this bright idea, and by the time we all reached Staples/UPS Road, we were all MAD AS CATS, to a person.
So now I’m hot and cranky, my fellow drivers are hot and cranky, and about halfway to my destination I realize I could have driven over to the Biltmore (whose palmy environs you can imagine by the tony name) in as much time as it’s taking me to drive a couple miles to the Ghost Mall.
Mildly pissed by the time I get to the UPS store, I’m even more pissed when the bovine clerk tells me the book file is “broken” and she can’t print it out. I drive home through the bitchy traffic, wasting still more time, load the file, and it opens. But to be sure, I copy it again to another flash drive.
Now I climb back into the chariot and drive to the Biltmore, where I present myself at the FedEx store.
Leave the file there to be printed. It will take them several hours to get around to it. They will call me.
If I had an IQ point that had not yet been fried, I would have engaged battle with the parking lot across the street, gone into the Staples, and bought the index cards. But by now I was hot, pissed off, and decidedly not in the mood to fight for a parking space and hike through still more heat. I figure by the time they call me, I’ll be cooled off and I will have had time to do a few things around the house that need to be done and so maybe I’ll feel more human by then.
Shortly after I get home, the phone rings: SDXB. He wants to chat. We yak for a long time: maybe an hour. I go back to work. Time passes.
Now I realize it’s almost 4 p.m., the witching hour. After 4:00, I cannot turn east out of the neighborhood to get to the tonier parts of town, at least not without driving several times around Robin Hood’s Barn or waiting for a half-hour-long signal on Feeder Street NS. So I leap into the car and drive over to the Biltmore FedEx store.
The traffic, as you might expect, is a bitch. Missouri Road, the route I would normally take to circumvent the hideousness that is Camelback Road, is all dug up. (Every navigable road in this city is always all dug up.) So I have to make my way around on alternate routes. Everyone else has the same idea. Everyone else is just as hot, mad, and frustrated as I am. On the way, I dodge a fresh wrecky-poo and almost clip a cop who’s standing in the middle of an intersection trying to cope with a motorist who is beginning to cry.
At the FedEx store, I fork over $35 for the page proofs and then discover…lo!
I told them to print NUMBERED pages 4 through 245, NOT the front matter. NOT starting on the page that the PDF counts as “4,” which is in the middle of the front matter. I showed them the page I wanted them to start with. “Start HERE. Note the title: ‘Introduction.'”
Did they follow instructions?
Fuck no! Of course not.
Goddamn it. Well…I don’t feel like arguing and I know that if I try to re-explain what they were supposed to do and why printing all the front matter and reproducing several blank pages will not help me, I just know I will lose my temper and will get mean. Real mean. So I figure the better part of valor is to come home and print out the 15 indexable pages at the end of the book that they failed to copy.
By the time I get home through the heat and by-now even crazier traffic, I’m just beat. I have something I have to do in the evening, and so pretty quick I need to get ready for that shindig. I pour a bourbon and water, jump in the pool, and try to cool off.
At least I got the math paper sent back to China.
But… This index is due to the publisher (not to the author) on August 2. Between now & then I not only need to compile the index, I’ve got to run it past the author and then make all the corrections she and her coauthor dream up. So we’re looking at a pretty tight deadline here. I did not need to have my whole goddamn afternoon wasted.
Meanwhile, at least one and probably two new indexing jobs are slated to arrive in August. (In academia, of course, that means “October,” but hope springs eternal in the entrepreneur’s breast).
All that’s needed, just this moment, to cover the cost of the new Macbook and its assorted accouterments will be one more index and maybe one or two more scholarly articles.
We also have an issue of Chicano/Latina Studies to edit — that should come in this fall. It pays a grand, but I have to split that with Tina, leaving not much to cover much of anything. But every little bit helps. I guess.
Image: DepositPhotos, © slovegrove