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

Friday, September 28, 2007

Two-Freelancer Home: Update

Here's an update about my husband's progress toward self-employment:

Today was supposed to have been Ed's last day as an employee, but the very small cabinetmaking company needs him for one more week. Today, he has the task of helping get the last of the equipment out of the company's old wood shop; he text-messaged me that he's feeling sad about this because it's the end of 14 years of working in that shop. But later today, he will be allowed to use the company truck and load it up with as many pieces of equipment that he wants and can fit in it and bring them here to our wood shop. His boss (the owner) will be giving him some pieces—free!—and charging him less than market value for the others. This will help tremendously with Ed's startup costs.

Our graphic-artist friend has created a logo for Ed; you can see it at the temporary home page of his web site. She's also designed his business cards, which will be printed shortly. The talented woman who did my business web site will do Ed's, so it will look sharp. I've set up a CaféPress shop for him; we've ordered T-shirts for him to have ready to work in, and whenever he does a project for a new client, he'll give the client shirts or coffee mugs or whatever.

He already has projects waiting for him to be self-employed. The first week that he's on his own, he'll also be combing through our wood shop to get rid of nonshop stuff that's been stored there over the years, mostly by his parents, who live with us. We'll have to rent a Dumpster for this.

We're waiting on our attorney to get the incorporation papers filed so that Ed can purchase insurance and a workers' comp policy. And this weekend, we'll complete the list of startup expenses so that we (I'll likely be the vice president) can get a bank loan to cover them. He can't wait to be self-employed!

Genes Can Really Mess Things Up

It’s a little gray outside today. It matches my melancholy.

Becky, my sweet daughter, sent me a text message at about 10 last night: “R U up?” I e-mailed back, “I R. What up?” Thirty seconds or so later, my phone rang. She had bad news: Her father, my ex-husband, had just called to tell her that he needs a kidney transplant within the next 18 months or he will die. He is just 49. He has a wife and two other daughters; the girls are about the ages of my two sons, who are 6 and almost 13. I imagine they're rather worried right now.

He has
polycystic kidney disease (PKD), just like his sweet mother, Kate, who died at 71 because of it on May 25. On top of that, he has had rheumatoid arthritis since childhood. PKD is an insidious disease in which multiple fluid-filled cysts grow on the kidneys and slowly replace much of the kidneys’ mass, decreasing kidney function more and more until the kidneys shut down. Often, people who have PKD develop high blood pressure because their kidney function is reduced even before any cysts appear on their kidneys. My ex has had high blood pressure for years. He hasn’t talked with me about his situation, but from what I’ve read, if his physician is talking transplantation, his kidneys must be in poor enough shape that dialysis won’t help him. If a matching kidney donor can be found, the new kidney or kidneys won’t develop cysts.

Though I wish him no misfortune and don’t want him to die, what saddens me is the thought that because Becky is so much like him physically—down to the location of her rheumatoid nodules—it’s very possible that she will face PKD one day. Because her father has it, she has a 50% chance of having it. I’m talking about a 24-year-old woman who’s just become a mother, hasn’t been married very long, recently earned a master’s degree, and is looking for her first professional job. She already has plenty of pain from her rheumatoid arthritis; she doesn’t need anything more on top of it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Deadline and Sick Kids

Yikes! There's nothing like a do-or-die deadline on a day when I have two kids home from school with the first virus of the academic year—with raw throats, aches all over, and over-the-top nose-blowing—for creating a little stress.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Courage to Change One's Mind

I am astounded: A prominent American politican has had the courage to search his soul, change his mind, and explain why publicly without dissembling.

Wednesday, Republican San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders announced that he would sign the city's amicus brief asking his state's highest court to reverse a ban on same-sex marriage. He had long said that he supported only civil unions. He held a press conference to explain his new stance.

Watch it—it's very powerful—and be inspired.

Hat tip to Straight, Not Narrow.

A Client I Can Do Without

Yowza! Just got an e-mail out of the blue from a project manager for a book packager that apparently does work for huge publishers; she wanted to know whether I was interested in editing a 780-page medical book manuscript (250 words per page, as is the industry standard); her budget for the project is $1,849. That's a measly $2.37 per page! Cheap, cheap, cheap.

(If you're not in the publishing industry, you'll want to know this: Depending on how much editing a medical manuscript needs, I might work at anywhere between 4 and 7 pages per hour. If I did 4 pages/hour, I'd be earning the equivalent of only about $9.50/hour for working on that packager's book. If I did 7 pages/hour, I'd get about $16.50/hour. Neither of those hourly rates is anywhere near appropriate for a professional editor in 2007.)

And her message was addressed to a few other copyeditors too. I know because she put everyone's e-mail address in the CC line rather than the BCC line, which is unprofessional when you're hunting for an independent contractor. My response:
Thank you for your interest in my editing services.

However, I will have to decline taking on [the project]. The budget for the book works out to only $2.37 per 250-word page, a rate well below what most medical copyeditors charge. I have nearly 24 years' experience, and for light editing, I might charge a total project fee of [many times over $1,849] for 780 manuscript pages.

If you should have projects with budgets closer to industry standards, I would be happy to discuss them with you.

I BCC'd the other copyeditors. I'm hoping none of them is so new to the business that they think $2.37/page is good. Just heard back from one of them. Her response? An enthusiastic "What you said!"

Editing requires many more skills, and thus costs much more than the minimum wage, than does flipping burgers. And medical editing requires yet more skills.

No, thank you, Ms. X. Your offer's an insult. I've never worked with you before, and I don't want to start. Not even a greenhorn editor should be paid that little.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Too Much Computer Time

One click and maybe it'll disappearYou know you've been on your computer for too long when you notice a fly atop your screen and reach for the mouse so that you can remove the fly by clicking it.

Get That Chip Off (or Out of) Your Shoulder

RFID chip (AP photo by Steve Mitchell)People with diabetes and others with dementia have had radio frequency identification (RFID) chips implanted because their physicians told them that the chips could save their lives by letting physicians scan the chips to have instant access to their medical records. And lots of animal shelters won't let you adopt a dog or cat with getting the animal chipped, so that if the animal is lost or stolen, it can be traced.

But guess what? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved their use in 2005 even though there were studies as far back as 1996 showing that the tiny chips cause cancer.

Why? Because the pervasive Bushco corruption was in play. The studies with frightening findings supposedly weren't presented to the FDA. This story implicates Tommy Thompson, former secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) when the FDA, which is overseen by HHS, approved the use of the VeriChip microchip:
Two weeks after the device's approval took effect on Jan. 10, 2005, Thompson left his Cabinet post, and within five months was a board member of VeriChip Corp. and Applied Digital Solutions. He was compensated in cash and stock options.

Because I'm a medical copyeditor, I've always thought that implantation of any foreign body into humans or animals should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, so I've never wanted to have my cats chipped. On its web site, VeriChip even touts "infant protection" as a good reason for having your babies chipped. Yikes!

Unfortunately, my in-laws have had their dog chipped. They won't be happy to find out about this newly exposed research when they get back from vacation in about a week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Multitasking Madwoman

I'm still alive.

I haven't posted much in the last few days because I'm on deadline with a novel I'm editing, so I can clear my desk for two incoming medical-book manuscripts that I'll be working on simultaneously, and I've been busy operating as an unpaid vice president of my husband's new company, Master Cabinetry. (I'll be paid once his company starts bringing in money.)

Yes, I know his web site isn't glamorous, but it will be: I've arranged for a great graphic artist to design a professional-looking logo within the next couple of weeks, and the same talented woman who did my business web site will create a wonderful one for him. But we're in a hurry to have something up because though he won't officially be laid off for at least another week and a half, he already has subcontracting project offers coming in. We'll also be ordering magnetic business signs for the sides and back of our minivan.

Other things I've been doing are arranging for our accountant to set Ed's company up as an S corporation and making a list of some of the things Ed has to do, which he's been checking off bit by bit:
  • Looking into COBRA in case incorporating takes longer than we want; we can't go without health insurance

  • Finding an agent through which he can get worker's comp insurance

  • Finding out where to go to get his county home-improvement license

  • Researching what hourly rates he can charge

  • Compiling a list of suppliers

  • Compiling a mailing list of contractors he could do work for, so that we can mail them brochures and business cards

Yeah, I'm just a little busy these days.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Definitely a Two-Freelancer Home

After doing some intensive research and talking to cabinetmaker subcontractors that my husband Ed knows, he and I have discussed everything and decided that he will go "freelance" rather than seek a new job when his current job as a cabinetmaker ends in a couple of weeks. (I'm using quotation marks around the word freelance here because solo cabinetmakers speak of themselves as subcontractors or business owners rather than freelancers; my industry calls solo practitioners freelancers.)

We will have to sit down with our accountant, who, by the way, was Ed's accountant before he and I met, during the time that Ed was president of his own corporation, so the accountant knows Ed's work history. But this time, it looks like Ed will create an S corporation so that I can be his employee and handle his books and help him do estimates. Through the S corp, we'll be able to obtain health insurance more cheaply than through my sole proprietorship. Paying for the insurance won't be a financial shock to us because even though we currently have insurance through his employer, the employer contributes nothing toward the monthly premiums; those have been deducted from his gross weekly pay in installments. We will once again be able to write off the premiums on our income tax forms, as we did when we had insurance through my business.

His research has told him that he can charge and actually get much more as a subcontractor than he has been earning as someone else's employee. He'll be charging time plus materials, rather than the project fees he used to charge and lose his shirt on when he had his own company years ago, because cabinetmaking is a really time-intensive process. He's made a list of his startup expenses, which won't be much, compared with what they'd be if he didn't already have a wood shop here at home, and he'll be talking to a bank he's already done business with about a small business loan. I'll help him design some business cards, letterhead, estimate forms, and invoice forms and get them printed ASAP, even before his time as an employee is up, and all of his contacts have vowed to (1) subcontract work to him and (2) pass out his business cards to others. (One subcontractor is already bidding on a kitchen renovation and has told Ed that he'll use his services if his bid is accepted.) I'll purchase a domain name for Ed and set up a simple web site for him with plenty of photos of his work. I'll also write and get printed a flyer for him to mail to every single contractor in our county who works in the mansions that need the high-end work that Ed can offer.

Besides being a very skilled cabinetmaker in general, he has one skill that will be invaluable: spraying (with stains and lacquer) furniture that's already built into a home (e.g., kitchen cabinets, library cabinetry, home-entertainment centers, bathroom details). His contacts tell him that because it's such tricky work, just about no one wants to do this, so every contractor doing work with megamillionaires who need this done could be his client.

This time around with self-employment, he won't be dealing directly with the homeowners or mansion owners who need the work done; he'll do the work that the contractors bill the owners for. This will work much better for him because contractors know what his work is worth; homeowners will always, always—even if they're billionaires—try to dicker with individual professionals. The contractors will ask Ed for his estimates for the part of the work he'll be doing, and the contractors, not Ed, will have to negotiate with the homeowners for the total project, whether that's one room or an entire mansion.

Ed is greatly cheered about his professional prospects after having done his research, and he's back to the happy guy I know best and love.

I will keep you posted on how things go. I owe all of you who commented here and by e-mail a big thank-you for your suggestions, your confidence in Ed and me, and your cheerleading. I'm so grateful for your support.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Reacting to Situational Depression

It was my youngest child's sixth birthday today, so I had a slice of cannoli birthday cake and a chocolate-covered cannoli at our early afternoon family birthday party for him.

That would've been okay—a rare indulgence—but then my behavior went down from there. I made poor eating choices and didn’t exercise because of feeling depressed: My husband was told at the end of work yesterday that in 2 weeks, he’ll be laid off, after 14 years with the same company. I'm worried about how this will affect our finances ... and that we'll be without health insurance shortly. It's not that my portion sizes were huge; I just ate cholesterol- and fat-laden stuff. Comfort foods.

I can't continue this way, though, because all my hard work to get healthy would be in vain.

cross-posted at Editing My Body

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Two-Freelancer Home?

Argh. I know things will work out fine, but at the moment, I'm trying to remember to breathe. My husband, Ed, has just been laid off, and I'm thinking out loud here.

Now, he's been given 2 weeks' notice and will get 4 weeks' severance pay, and the latter is a measure of just how valuable he has been for the last 14 years to his employer, a tiny, tiny cabinetmaking firm. The company is being forced to move out of the building it has long rented for its wood shop because the new owner raised the rent sky-high. It will be moving its offices to a new, lower-rent building, but the cost of moving all of the huge, complex shop equipment--and having it all set up again and recalibrated by manufacturers' technicians--would put the company in a severe financial bind. So rather than take out a big business loan, it will stay in business, but instead of having a wood shop, it will subcontract out all of the cabinetmaking and installation.

Ed's an incredibly talented cabinetmaker* with nearly 24 years' experience and could get a job with any of many firms in Southampton, NY, home to megamillionaire movie and music stars, but the problem will be whether those firms will want to pay him the high hourly wages he's been earning. He could also become a subcontractor to his soon-to-be-former employer and to other companies in the area. He owned his own incorporated business when we first met, and he had to close it because his business skills at the time stank. But over the years, he's developed the moxie he'll need for self-employment, and he's always had the schmoozing ability. It's just that if he does go solo, I'll have to end up being his bookkeeper and job cost estimator, as he stinks at estimating how long things take him and estimating costs well enough to actually make a profit. And too, we'd be a two-freelancer family. Holy sporadic income! I'm fortunate to have a booming almost-13-year-old business, but my line of work doesn't require the expensive equipment that his does, and he'd need to update some of what we already have in our own private wood shop. I guess that's where some of the severance pay will be handy. Plus, he'd need to get licensed (no exam, just a huge fee and lots of paperwork) and, believe it or not, pay for a worker's comp policy, though worker's comp won't pay him as the proprietor if he is injured while working. Nice scam the government has there.

The big, hairy, scary thing is health insurance, once again. For years, we paid for insurance through my sole proprietorship. When we finally got priced out of that market, his employer offered us insurance. If Ed goes solo, we'll be looking for insurance ASAP. I could become his employee (handling his bookkeeping and estimating and web site), while still having my own company, so that would get us slightly cheaper insurance because U.S. insurers give better rates to companies with at least 2 employees than to sole props with no employees. But that would mean I'd be doing payroll for him too.

If he does go solo, it'd be really nice to have him around more of the day; right now, his commute is a little more than 1 hour by car each way. And generally, he'd be a happier person self-employed than employed by someone else.

If any of you are in a two-freelancer (two–sole proprietor) home, how have you made it work?


* See
this, this, this, this, this, and this.

In the Library

Library cabinetToday's photo is of a library cabinet built and installed in a mansion by My Husband the Master Cabinetmakertm. The wood is pecan with a light brown stain.

You can see what unstained pecan looks like here, on the web site of a company that isn't the one Ed works for. If it were my cabinet, I'd much prefer unstained pecan. For that matter, I prefer any wood furniture to be unstained, protected by clear lacquer. Wood is gorgeous in its natural state; I've never been able to understand why other people think it has to be stained.

You can tell by the shipping blankets on the floor that work in the room isn't finished.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


America on the Move wants you to take part in SteptemberNo, that's not a typo in this post's title. Yes, most of us are experiencing the month of September, but for America on the Move (AOM), it's Steptember, when thousands of people will find small, easy steps to improve their health.

Full disclosure: Because I've been losing weight sensibly, I was contacted by an account executive at GolinHarris, the public relations agency that represents AOM, a U.S. nonprofit organization, about posting about AOM. AOM's sponsors are PepsiCo, Lean Cuisine (a subsidiary of Stouffers, which is owned by Nestlé USA), McNeil Nutritionals (makers of Splenda and other brands and a division of Johnson & Johnson), and Merck (maker of many vaccines and medicines, including the cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs Zocor [I take a generic form of this], Zetia, and Vytorin).

I can understand why Lean Cuisine, McNeil, and Merck would want you to be healthier.

But I find it odd that PepsiCo, maker of soft drinks that gets millions of people to ingest empty calories and lots of sugar, would. Maybe to burnish its image?

And Nestlé is the giant maker of infant formula (among many other products), samples of which it gives away in poor nations. This causes many mothers to favor formula over breastfeeding, and then when the free samples run out and the mothers can't afford to buy formula, they find that their breast milk has dried up, depriving their infants of essential nutrients. Or they mix the powdered formula given to them with dirty water, and their babies develop life-threatening diarrhea. Ever read some of the many reports (and here) and books about how the donation of these formula samples isn't benign but is really a marketing move to make more money for the formula makers? Because of these practices, a boycott of Nestlé has been going on for decades. The company apparently needs to do some image-burnishing too.

Still, what AOM wants you to do is admirable: take 2 simple steps (thus the name Steptember) to improve your health:
  • Add 2,000 steps (about 1 mile) to your daily routine

  • Cut just 100 calories (1 tablespoon of butter) from what you eat each day

For most people, making a lot of changes to eating and exercise habits all at once is overwhelming, dooming them to fail. If they do succeed in losing weight, they later gain it back because they didn't make the changes permanently. The changes I made would've been too much for some, but I'd been heading toward a healthier diet for some time and had exercised in the past, so it was just a matter of refining my food intake and going back to the exercise that I used to do. If you don't have any good eating habits in place, don't think you have time to prepare whole foods, and don't like the idea of an exercise regimen, AOM's plan is for you. Get yourself a cheap pedometer and keep track of your steps. You may be surprised at how inactive you are and want to add more steps, maybe by walking instead of driving or by doing more yard work.

You can even register with AOM, at no charge, as an individual or as part of a group to get planning guides and tip sheets to help you along.

Try making these small changes—no gym membership fees, expensive exercise clothes, or complicated diets to try and fail at—and weight loss just might sneak up on you. Wouldn't that be cool?

cross-posted at Editing My Body

A Little Professional Bragging

My name has now appeared in a second medical journal, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. I did a substantive ESL (English as a second language) edit of an manuscript for an orthopedic surgeon from China. Scroll down to the acknowledgments section to see my credit in the article.

See these this page and this page of my business web site for links to articles in The Permanente Journal that carry my name in the acknowledgments sections.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Friday, September 07, 2007

Why Is Natural and Gray So Rare?

About 18 years ago, I stopped wearing makeup. And then about 15 years ago, I stopped coloring my hair. These days, American women who use makeup and who use hair color to cover up gray look unnatural to me, like painted dolls. They are dolls, toys for a society dominated by heterosexual males who deem feminine, and thus desirable, only those women with most of the "important" parts color-coded. You know: here are the luscious female lips, here are the big glittery eyes with extremely long lashes, here is the hair that's young enough not to have been touched by time.

I stopped wanting to be a doll in my thirties, so I dropped the camouflage. I wanted to be who I was (and still am) and for the true me to be accepted. Was I accepted? I don't know if my work experience counts in judging that, because I haven't been employed by anyone for the last 13 years. I've been self-employed all that time, and I'm certainly accepting of myself. As far as intimate relationships go, I was very much accepted, because when I started being my graying-haired self was when I met and then married the love of my life.

In the U.S., it's weird to see a gray-haired woman, unless she's in her eighties or older. We've been taught for so many decades that we must paint ourselves and cover our aging to be considered attractive, both in the workplace and as lovers. It's so weird that someone's written a book about what it's like to be a graying fifty-something, and that's news. Even all of the getting-back-to-your-old-self-after-pregnancy articles I've ever read hint or say outright that if you're not wearing makeup and coloring your hair in the postpartum period, you may be depressed.

Depressed? I don't think so. I think you may just have come to realize that it costs a lot of bucks to keep yourself brightly hued. Or that you were doing it for everyone else, not yourself. Or that all that camouflage isn't practical in real life. Or that if you go back to a paying job—or even if you don't—it just takes too damn much time.

I didn't have to write—or read—a book to figure all of that out. Next thing you know, someone will do a scientific study investigating the issue.

Editing Is Political

DSCC bumper sticker needs a comma

I just e-mailed the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) about its new freebie:
I really like your "Sorry W" bumper sticker. There's one problem, though: it needs punctuation to prevent a misread.

As it stands, it reads: "Sorry W." Without a comma, it means that W is sorry; the word sorry is functioning as an adjective describing W. (I'll say he's sorry! He's the sorriest excuse for a president that I've ever seen!) But it needs to read: "Sorry, W" (note the comma). That would mean what you intended: "I am sorry, W, but ..."

Please say you'll correct this error. I'd hate for Americans to think that the DSCC is illiterate!

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf
KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984sm

Now, I'm assuming that there's a period implied after W (a period is often assumed at the end of a line in signs), so I didn't tell the DSCC that it needs to insert one. The difference in font size between the sticker's first line and its second implies that each line is a stand-alone sentence.

But I'm appalled at how few people these days know that that comma is absolutely necessary in that construction. I don't want to vote for anyone whose promoters can't get simple PR materials right. It just makes the candidates look stupid.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hide Your Sons and Daughters

I wish all members of Congress would be forced to view this ad, after it had been modified to address all of them:

Who My Eighth-Grader Is

My son Neil, almost 13, has just begun eighth grade. As a class assignment, he wrote a "bio-poem." I think he understands himself well.

Serious, nice, relaxed, creative
Friend of Cody
Who loves PlayStation 2, drawing, and summer,
Who hates distractions, rap, and annoying people,
Who wants to see a McLaren F1, actual snow, and Europe,
Resident of East Setauket

It's Raining Blood

There is so much blood on American hands. This makes me sick to my stomach and feel like weeping.

Masked Man

The Masked Man, aka my husband, EdThis is what work looks like today for My Husband the Master Cabinetmakertm. He's in a large bathroom in a customer's mansion. He's masked off just about everything in it so that he can spray lacquer onto ornate molding that's already installed. Before he begins spraying, he'll don a hat and a respirator. When he's done, he'll leave behind no evidence—except for a lovely new color on the molding—that he was ever there. No dust, no spray overblast, nothing.

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