KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Monday, July 30, 2007

Calling Workers' Comp!

This—#%^*&+!—is one of the reasons I rarely do paper edits these days: I just managed to stab myself in the palm of my writing hand with a Col-Erase green pencil. Hurts like #%^*&+!

My computer keyboard never bites me like that.



The One That I Let Go


Once in a while, I have to turn down really great assignments because I must be fair to my clients. And I so hate doing it, but it's part of maintaining long-term client relationships.

I just got a call from one of the in-house production editors for a huge mainstream book publisher, asking if on August 28, about a week and a half after I return from my next camping vacation, I'd want to take on copyediting the newest manuscript by a big-name healthy-eating guru.

Would I ever!

But the manuscript, which isn't quite complete yet, will likely come in at more than 500 pages, filled with tables and graphs and charts and recipes ... and it would be due back to the publisher in just barely over 2 weeks. The pub would even pay me a much higher "rush" rate because of the short deadline.


Even getting no sleep and no family time, just when the new school year will be starting, even being paid in gold coins ... that's just too little time for me to complete editing on a complex manuscript like that—and it's on paper, not onscreen, which slows things down even more. Of course, I could do a quick but crappy job to meet the deadline, but that would affect my professional reputation. I asked for an extra week, but the book's on a "crash" schedule that can't be lengthened.


My hopes were dashed. I couldn't accept the project and do the quality of work my clients are used to getting from me. But the production editor thanked me for my honesty.


It's not that I'll go hungry; my clients will have plenty of work for me. But having to let a big one get away ... I wish I could clone myself. There are so many juicy projects out there and I can't do them all.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Dems vs. Repubs in the 110th Congress

Considering that the Democrats are up against partisan Republicans right now, the Dems of the 110th Congress haven't done too bad, if you look at yesterday's entry in the Democratic Caucus's Senate Journal.

Here's what the Dems accomplished:

  • Passed the first minimum-wage increase in a decade

  • Set aside more than $6 billion for hurricane relief; unfortunately, this was part of a $95 billion war spending bill

  • Passed legislation out of committee that will provide the largest increase in Veterans Affairs funding in history

  • Set aside an additional $1.8 billion for veterans' health care; this was unfortunately tacked on to the Iraq supplemental appropriations bill

  • Passed and ethics and lobbying reform bill

  • Passed a bill to better regulate the student loan industry

  • Passed what it calls a fiscally responsible $2.9 trillion federal budget that promises big spending increases for education and health care and a federal surplus in 5 years

  • Passed an energy bill increasing fuel-efficiency standards for the first time since 1975

Here's what they tried to do but failed because of the Repubs:
  • Change course in Iraq

  • Create tax incentives for clean energy

  • Authorize amounts in fiscal 2007 for U.S. intelligence activities and agencies

  • Allow stem cell research

Great work, legislators. Now please keep moving along, and put the impeachment of first Cheney and then Bush on the table. You're running behind on that one. (Hat tip to the Carpetbagger Report.)

Why I Love ESL Authors

The challenge of solving the puzzle of what the author really meant to say, plus e-mails like the following from a researcher in Korea, are why I so enjoy working with ESL (English as a second language) authors:

Hi kathrine!

It has been long time after last contact. I hope everything is OK with you. Did you enjoyed your summer vacation?

My recent paper that you revised was published in [Big-Name U.S. Medical Journal] at last January 2007. It was wonderful thing for me. Thank you so much from bottom of my heart.

Now, I'd like to apply very important paper for publication in [Same Big-Name U.S. Medical Journal] again to bring previous paper to a conclusion. The published previuos paper was just the basic hypothesis for this paper. I believe in your excellent ability for making revision.

Hey, Dr. S., thank you from the bottom of my heart!


Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Kind of Client I Want to Keep

Just got this lovely e-mail in my in-box:
Dear Katharine,

... I’m the editor of [Redacted Book Title]. I wanted to thank you for the excellent copyediting job you did. This manuscript has been a challenge from the start, and you really improved it with your work. I was very impressed.
While I was working on this particular project, I dealt only with the in-house production editor, not the acquisition editor (AE). For the AE to take to time to acknowledge my contribution makes it truly worth my having had to do a little extra work on the manuscript. (Yes, I was paid for my time, but acknowledgments are a special extra.) Sometimes it takes a lot of polishing to reveal the sparkle underneath. But I like a good challenge.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

BMJ Poll: Boycott Israeli Academic Institutions?

As someone who recently boycotted a large group of medical journals, I was interested to read the following e-mail, forwarded to me by a medical copyeditor colleague and friend who lives in Israel. I have edited it for clarity and for U.S. English:
Promoting Academic Integrity and Honest Debate

Dear ... colleague, especially physicians ...

We have just received word that the British Medical Journal is conducting a poll on boycotting Israel. There is room [in the poll] for comments. While [the poll is] published by physicians and [the poll's creators are] certainly interested in physicians' views, there are sections for [nonphysician professionals] and members of the public. It is extremely important that all of you let [everyone] know [about the poll]. The poll can be found [here]. Please circulate it quickly and widely, as it is unknown how long it will remain open.
Why is the BMJ considering a boycott? According to Tom Hickey, chair of the University and College Union,
... we could not ignore what is being done in the Occupied Territories, or the systematic denial of educational opportunities and academic freedom to Palestinian students and scholars. Some ... have also expressed concern about the complicity of the Israeli Medical Association in the occupation. ...

The territories, occupied since 1967, have been colonised by Israeli settlements built on illegally confiscated land. The area has been disaggregated and rendered ungovernable by road networks for Israeli use only. Houses are demolished as collective punishments, and there is regular shooting and shelling. Farmers are separated from their land, and the supply of water sharply discriminates between the needs of Palestinians and those of Israeli settlers.

In these circumstances, there can be no normal educational provision. ...

In all of this, there is strong evidence of the complicity of Israeli academic institutions. No Israeli college or university has publicly condemned what is being done in the Occupied Territories in the name of every Israeli citizen. ...
Why should the BMJ not conduct a boycott? Michael Baum, professor emeritus of surgery at University College London, dismisses
... the big lie that Israel is an apartheid state. Israel is a multicultural mosaic with Jews, Muslims, Christians, and other faiths. Druze, Bahá'í, and Armenian Christians chose to live there after persecution in Muslim countries. Only malign commentators can be blind to the Arabs who form 20% of Israeli citizens. ...

Israel provides more academic freedom for Arab scholars than anywhere else in the Middle East. There are numerous examples of Palestinian and Israeli collaborations. ...

As Malcolm Grant, provost of University College London, put it: the boycott "betrays a misunderstanding of the academic mission, which is founded squarely on academic freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech." Lord Adonis went further in the House of Lords:
Not only would a boycott be inconsistent with the spirit of openness and tolerance that should inform public life. It would also be counterproductive. Education plays a vital role in developing and aiding understanding between different people. It is therefore all the more important to keep open channels of communication with academic and educational institutions in the Middle East during these difficult times.
Whether you're a medical professional, a medical copyeditor, a general copyeditor, or a member of another profession, participating in this poll may be your chance to help shape the future.

What Editors Really Do

Ah ... someone who understands what it is that editors really do! (Note that the link is to a Salon article. If you're not a subscriber, you can still read the article; you'll just have to put up with the ads.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Back From Vacation

I'm well rested mentally—got to read for fun, for long, uninterrupted periods, for the first time in years! I'm not so rested physically—it's pretty damn taxing unpacking and stowing all the stuff required by two adults and two children to tent-camp.

Before I left for vacation, I went no-mail on multiple e-mail lists that I subscribe to. Still, I came back to nearly 2,000 e-mails, a huge proportion of them spam! Thank goodness I didn't have work in-house today; it's showing up tomorrow.

One thing I learned anew: My husband's a saint. During the summer, I have all-day responsibility for our two sons, 5 and 12 years old, on weekdays while I work. I can get pretty fed up with them sometimes. On our camping trip, though, he took them off sailing and rowing and swimming, leaving me to the glorious quiet of no boys jabbering.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Camping! Vacation!

Ed, the boys, and I are headed north into the woods of another state. We'll be camping in our tents.

If I could camp all the time instead of living in a house, I would. I love the sounds of the bullfrogs at night, the wind blowing through the tall trees, the lack of traffic, the sound of no phones ringing, the feel of no work deadlines, the unscheduled days. We'll swim in a lake, head out in our tiny sailboat, hike around the campground, draw, talk, read (for fun instead of for work!), listen to music, nap in our hammock, listen to Neil play the acoustic guitar, cook over a fire, and maybe even play a hand or two of poker.

Oh ... while I'm away, please see if you can do something about impeaching Dopey and Sneaky. You know who I mean. If you need to, you can download my "Grow a spine" artwork here, for use in decorating faxes to your senators and representatives, urging them to proceed with impeachment.

I'll see you back here soon.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Favorite Scents

The scents of these things make me happy:

  • Lilacs

  • Roses

  • Freshly mowed grass

  • The ocean

  • Pine trees

  • Freshly made pancakes and waffles

  • Gardenias (which I'm sad to say I haven't smelled in a couple of decades, since I moved away from the Texas Gulf Coast)

  • Handmade soaps from Moondance Soaps & More

  • Freshly bathed babies

  • Musk cologne

  • Basil

  • Patchouli

  • Lavender

  • Oranges

  • Vanilla extract

  • Any meat or chicken cooking in my slow-cooker

  • Cinnamon

  • Thanksgiving turkey

  • Mulled cider

  • The scent of coming rain (a kind of metallic smell)

  • Freshly cut wood
What scents make you happy?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mahogany Mantel

It's time for another peek into the files of My Husband the Master Cabinetmakertm. Today's lovely piece is a fireplace mantel made from mahogany and covered with a custom stain. (Click on any thumbnail to see a larger version.)

Favorite Sounds

These sounds make me happy:
  • The creak of my hammock as I rock it gently (while I lie in it) by holding on to a rope tied to a nearby tree limb

  • The sound of my 5-year-old singing, making up a song as he goes

  • The cry of seagulls at the beach and over the ocean

  • The sound of the tide coming in at the beach

  • The squeak-purr of my younger cat when I stroke her

  • The snap of a sail in the wind as a sailboat changes tack

  • The deep voices of bullfrogs when I camp in the woods

  • The buzz of cicadas in the summertime

  • The giggling of my two sons as they splash in our inflatable backyard swimming pool

  • The sounds of power tools—such as drill guns and chop saws—because they mean that My Husband the Master Cabinetmakertm is nearby

  • The sound of a hard rain on a lake

  • The occasional humming of my granddaughter while she's sleeping

  • The almost mystical music of the many large metal wind chimes hung all around the outside of my house

  • My husband's laugh

  • My brother's laugh

  • The cooing of mourning doves
What sounds make you happy?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dems with Guts?

Well, now ... maybe the Democrats in Congress have more guts than I've credited them for.

A Senate appropriations panel, chaired by Democratic Senator Richard Durbin, has cut off the $4.8 million budget of Dick Cheney's office until the Dark Lord hands over the classified info that he's supposed to under an executive order.

It's about time the Dems stopped making nice to the dirty-dealing Bush administration.

A Mom-ish Day at the Office

It's been a really mom-ish day at the office.

The boys have been mostly hibernating indoors in the air-conditioning because it's oppressively hot outdoors, inventing, building, singing, doing the occasional chore when asked.

My daughter Becky, with just over a week of maternity leave left, called this morning to ask if she and baby Ana could come over to sit in the AC; the apartment she and Li and Ana live in has none, and Li was at work.

I've spent my time editing, taking breaks to chat with Becky or hold or talk to Ana, answering the boys' questions or listening to their stories, and fixing everyone a late lunch.

Days like this one are exactly why I went freelance full time nearly 13 years ago—to have my family in my office! I am so lucky.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Getting the Disney Mom Out of the Way

I've just realized that I'm one of those moms that Disney movies always kill off or get out of the way. And now I know why they do that.

You know what I mean. The intrepid child heroes in the movie would never have any adventures if their mom was around. She'd sit them down and lecture them on safety, say that they should wait until they're older and more mature. In other words, she'd get in the way.

Ed and the boys are out in the front yard, using summer's extended daylight at this late hour to finish prepping our 1½-person sailboat so that we can take it along on our first camping vacation of the summer soon. I've been taking advantage of the quiet to play my favorite New Age music while I edit. I don't like to work weekends, but I must finish this book manuscript before we go.

I get up to stretch my legs and I look out a front window. Neil, 12¾ years old, is masterfully driving our minivan, with Ed supervising from the front passenger seat, maneuvering it into position and then backing it into our driveway so that Ed can hitch the little boat trailer to it!

Now, I've always recognized that spatial skills and physical coordination are two of Neil's unusually strong skills, stronger in him than in most kids his age. (Well before he was 3 years old, the little monkey literally climbed up our walls, holding his body up by the ceiling by stretching himself across the corner over a door, feet planted at the top of one wall and hands pushing against the top of the other wall.) But I'd never have thought to let him drive the van, not even a tiny distance and not even under supervision.

He did great! And I had to be out of the way for that to happen. Maybe it would be okay for me to loosen up a bit.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Impeachment Fax

This, with appropriate minor changes (including my contact info), is what I'm going to be faxing to my two U.S. senators and my U.S. representative every weekday, starting Monday. I'm tired of waiting for them to get moving on fixing our badly broken government.

If you'd like the "grow a spine" artwork (it's a PNG file) for use as a watermark on your faxes, e-mail me (click on "View my complete profile" in the sidebar at the right).

Updated 11:34 a.m., July 9: Watch the blue section of the sidebar, under "Political Action," to see how many times I've faxed my senators, my representative, and presidential candidate Barack Obama urging them to grow a spine and impeach Cheney.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Elf Shoes in the Office

Creativity is one of the terrific benefits of letting your kids entertain themselves and not booking every minute of their time with lessons and organized sports.

Of course, major messes are another outcome of free time, but when I'm working, I just don't have time to care, unless someone's been wounded.

We'll all have to clean up the family room tonight before we can sit down to dinner together, but I think that's worth having gotten to watch Jared create his own pointy-toed elf shoes, which look a lot like the ones shown here (except his are white), out of sheets of printer paper and adhesive tape. They fit him just right and even have paper fasteners. He worked on them as if he had a picture of them already in his head.

Excellent artisanal work for a 5-year-old—or 5¾-year-old, as Jared constantly reminds me.

Runaway Train

I'm watching an impending train wreck from a distance, and I don't want to.

I don't want to because I went through a similar train wreck years ago and my friend's train wreck takes me back to mine ... and because I don't want to see my friend or anyone in his family get hurt.

My friend has found a lot of emotional freedom by discovering, over the last year or so, that he is a fine writer. To have time to do the wandering around and absorbing of scenes that he needs to do to write, he's rearranged his work schedule. He now also spends less time with his family.

His wife, whom I don't know, is frightened by his freedom. I think she's scared that he'll like it so much that he eventually won't need her or their children or their life together. She's so scared that she's lashing out by denigrating his writing and the friends he's made through writing. This makes him incredibly angry.

They argue and argue, and he seems to have stopped trying to connect with her.

It's not my job to stop this wreck, but I sure wish I could. I've already stuck my nose in and urged that my friend get help to communicate about this issue with his wife. How often is our need to help others motivated at least a little bit by our need to spare ourselves the discomfort of seeing their pain?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Stunning Gift

Anniversary present: freshwater pearls
I'm just stunned.

Ed walked in the front door this evening and presented me with a gorgeous three-strand freshwater pearl necklace, designed by a wonderful local jeweler, as an anniversary present.

I've never owned anything so exquisite. The little pearls are green and blue and gold and copper and irridescent, all earth colors. The necklace is one I'd have picked out myself if I didn't have this thing about not spending a lot of money on myself. (The photo at the left looks nowhere near as good as the real thing.)

You think you know a person, and then he amazes you.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Patriots' Pleas on the Fourth of July (Réclamations des patriotes sur le quart de juillet)

A patriot's plea: Impeach Bush and Cheney now!
This patriot's plea: "Impeach Bush and Cheney now, and there will be peace in all lands!" (These flags have flown in my front yard for at least 9 months now.) Patriot Keith Olbermann's plea: "For you, Mr. Bush, and for Mr. Cheney, there is a lesser task. You need merely achieve a very low threshold indeed. Display just that iota of patriotism which Richard Nixon showed, on August 9th, 1974. Resign."

(Traduction pour mon ami Hervé ... et parce que je puisse pratiquer mon français:

La réclamation de ce patriote: «Chargez Bush et Cheney avec un crime maintenant, et il y aura de paix dans toutes les terres!» (Ces drapeaux ont volé en ma cour pendant au moins 9 mois maintenant.) La réclamation de Keith Olbermann, patriote: «Pour vous, M. Bush, et pour M. Cheney, il y a des moins chargent. Vous devez simplement réaliser un seuil très bas en effet. Montrez juste cet iota de patriotisme que Richard Nixon a montré, le 9 août, 1974. Démissionnez.»)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Why I Celebrate July 3

Ed and Kathy, July 3, 1993
Fourteen years ago today, I married my sweetheart and best friend of one year, Ed. Two children and one grandchild later, he's still my sweetheart and best friend, even though I know all of his stories and even though he telegraphs his bad puns before he makes them.

His heart is always open, he'll talk with me for hours, he plays games with our sons, and he was the world's proudest stepfather when my daughter got married almost a year ago. He makes friends wherever he goes, tries to learn at least a little of the language of everyone he meets, cooks tasty dinners and Saturday-morning pancakes and waffles from scratch, keeps our home in good repair, makes me laugh, and keeps me honest. He's a fount of knowledge about all things biological, he makes wood furniture so beautiful that it sings, and he knows exactly when to turn his puppy-dog eyes on me full force. He smiles so big that you'd think his face would split, he talks throughout the few TV shows I enjoy watching, and he snuggles our sons to sleep.

He tells all of his friends about my professional triumphs and calls me "Xena, Warrior Princess." He always means well and never does anything half-heartedly. He works very hard and then finds the energy to work even more. He loves cats and dogs, and he stops for turtles crossing the road. He knows almost nothing about computers but offers advice about them anyway, and he plays tolerant neatnik to my slob. He's very tenderhearted, but the rocks and arrows thrown by the world never make him close down.

Ed, I love you, honey. Happy anniversary.

Monday, July 02, 2007

C'est un petit monde

I was just cheered up tremendously by an e-mail that I got out of the blue from a Frenchman I've never met. He and his wife have friends on Long Island, and he was doing an Internet search for another Long Island city when he found my blog. He wrote to me at my blogging e-mail address:
I don't understand all your sentences but I see that you are "against the war" in Irak. Your "position" is very "courageous" in your country. (In France, we believe that all the American are for the War). I congratulate you for this. I am also a grandfather and I understand your feeling about this great thing to be a grandfather or a grandmother.

Excuse my "english" if words aren't correct.

Sincerelly H.C. from France
If my expressing my opinions on my blog helps just one person somewhere else in the world see Americans as individuals rather than as drones who all think alike about political issues, that's terrific! And hey—I got to brush up on my French in replying to H.C.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Bragging on My Daughter

I'm very pleased to say that my daughter, Becky, has just found out that the research paper she missed for one class because she was busy giving birth to my first grandchild in mid-May, has been accepted and graded. She now officially has her MSW (master of social work) degree.

Her short maternity leave from the chain of drugstores where she worked her way through college ends in just about 3 weeks. She'll go back to work there, missing her daughter all the while, take the exam so that she can be a LMSW (licensed master social worker), and look for her first professional job as a social worker.

She says she's now done two things I never have: given birth naturally (all three of mine were C-sections) and earned an advanced degree (I have a mere bachelor's degree in journalism). She's right. And I'm quite impressed at the MSW. She's very much more laid back than I am, and my husband and I sometimes feared that she didn't have the drive to get that degree. (In the U.S., you can't get much of a job in her profession with just a bachelor's degree.) I now say publicly that I was wrong, and I'm happy about it. :-)

Intergenerational Living

The extended O'Moore-Klopf family
In our house: Left to right, in back, our son Neil, 12; D., Ed's mother, 72; A., Ed's father, 71; Ed, 45; me, 47. In front, Jared, 5. Not shown, our daughter, Becky (who took this shot today), 24; our son-in-law, Li, 27; our granddaughter, Anna, 6 weeks (who lives with her mommy and daddy in an apartment in another town); our oldest cat, Snuggles, 15; our younger cat, Emily, 7; A and D's dog, Sandy, 4. (In the enlargement, note Ed's "Impeach Bush and Cheney Now!" T-shirt. I was being politically neutral and wore my Copyediting-L T-shirt.)

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