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, November 30, 2007

Dangerous New Lung Disease

As a medical copyeditor, I feel that it is my duty to pass along this link to information about a serious new lung disease to which I hope none of you fall victim. Please be sure to follow the Update link at the end on that page.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A New Mentee

I am so, so pleased with my latest mentee: my cabinetmaker husband, Ed. Newly self-employed, he's diving right into doing all of the things I advise my other mentees, who are all freelance editorial professionals, to do:
  1. He got his business cards and letterhead professionally designed and printed.

  2. He's continuing his research into who, beyond his former employer and a couple of other ready-and-waiting-for-him clients, he wants to become his clients.

  3. He spent a large part of yesterday and today cold-calling potential clients from his list. He introduces himself, states any connection, however tenuous, that he and the prospects have, and lets them know that he'll be sending out a letter of introduction to them because he wants to find out how to best meet their subcontracting needs. Now, he's gregarious, so he enjoys talking with people, but just like many freelance editorial professionals, he doesn't enjoy cold-calling. So he asked me to help him come up with a script, and he modified it as needed for each contact. Cold-calling still isn't his favorite thing, but he's developed a rhythm and is relaxed while on the phone.

  4. He mailed a small batch of those letters today, with several business cards attached (for recipients who want to pass along the cards to staff members or colleagues). He'll be mailing small batches for a few days.

  5. He has plans for a brochure that he'll use in future mailings. Guess who gets to write the copy. ;-)

  6. He has calendar entries set up to remind him to recontact in a few weeks the people to whom he's sent mailings.

  7. His web site is under construction.

  8. He carries plenty of business cards with him wherever he goes, and there are extra stashes in our car and our minivan.

Not many cabinetmakers, especially solo practitioners, do marketing, so they end up with long spells without work. Because of that, Ed's name should stick in his potential clients' minds, which will help him keep the income coming in. And one of today's cold calls resulted in his getting a request to bid on a kitchen job. Yessss!

Moral of the story: If my guy, who's not used to this "marketing stuff," can make it work, so can freelance editorial professionals.

mentors publishing

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Putting the (Bus) Wheels in Motion

I've managed to prod my school district's board of education into action on the bus-bully issue! Go ahead, faint. I'll wait till you come to again.

[Hums while she waits patiently ...]

I've been trying to get the Three Village Central School District to do something district-wide to ensure that children aren't bullied on school buses. Right now, each school principal or assistant principal handles each reported incident after it happens; there's no systemwide action taken. Two weeks ago, I attended a school board meeting and asked the board to consider either hiring aides to ride herd on the kids or installing video cameras so that the kids would know that their misbehavior was being recorded.

I went back to the board last night and asked what the board was going to do. The superintendent of schools began dissembling, saying that the school district takes the issue seriously but that the board didn't "have the sense that there's a problem [with bullying on the buses]."

And I said, "So the board isn't going to do anything?"

The board president said that the board could request a proposal from the bus company for installing cameras, so that the board could see what the cost would be. A trustee said that such cameras cost $2,000 apiece; other trustees said that that was expensive. The vice president said that the district wouldn't have to buy a camera for each bus but could just install the camera shells on every bus, buy a few cameras, and rotate them among all of the buses so that kids would never know when cameras were actually recording.

Another trustee said that she'd like the proposal to include the cost of having DriveCams installed on the buses too. One male trustee said, "Oh, well, you could go hog wild on some of this stuff!" I loved it when the trustee who wants DriveCams stopped him in his sarcastic tracks by saying, "Not really. DriveCams are pretty much standard equipment these days." She said that with DriveCams, you can see who's at fault in accidents and see when the bus drivers are driving safely.

The president then directed a trustee to contact the bus company and see what capability it already has for cameras on its buses. The president said that he believed that the company operates several bus yards and may already have some capability in some bus yards other than the local one.

The proposal from the bus company will be due when the board is working on the 2008–2009 budget; that starts in January, with the budget vote scheduled in May. I won't show up at every board meeting from now on, but I will monitor upcoming meeting agendas on the board's meeting web site and will attend any meeting when the cost of bus cameras will be discussed.

Now, the board could very well decide not to include cameras in the final budget if it thinks that they're too expensive and that taxpayers won't pass the budget with the camera costs in it. And no board member even said a thing about the possibility of hiring aides to ride the buses. But I didn't even think that the board was going to issue a request for a proposal; I thought I'd just be blown off. Last night was at least a start in the right direction.

Moral of this story: Get out there and speak up for what's right. One person can have an effect!

Updated at 6:07 p.m.: Our first-grader was reprimanded by the bus driver this afternoon for pounding on the back of the bus seat in front of him. Jared told my husband and me that he hit the seat out of frustration because a child who was in that seat didn't stop hitting the seat himself when Jared asked him to. We told Jared that just as we expect the other kids on the bus to behave, we expect him to do so too and that the bus driver was correct in reprimanding him. I think Jared was mostly embarrassed about being called out by the bus driver, but he was none too pleased with his parents either. We're so mean. ;-)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What I Give Thanks For, 2007 Edition

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for many people and things. Here are just a few, in stream-of-consciousness order:
  • My granddaughter, Anastasia (aka Ana). She's usually cheerful, she loves to play with and be held by her grandparents, and she's gorgeous. Also, she goes home after a visit—at 48, I'm so done with parenting babies. ;-)

  • That the catastrophe that is Dubya will eventually be gone from office.

  • My husband, Ed, who is gentle and sweet and patient (with me and with our children but not with completing tasks that he thinks should go quickly), makes me laugh, is my best friend, and always cheers me on.

  • Rebecca, my daughter, and Li, my son-in-law. They are both gentle and loving and are great parents to Ana. Rebecca's laid-back. I admire laid-back people, mostly because I've always wanted to be like them. ;-)

  • My son Jared, who is learning to read, looks just like his mom, and has his mom's facility with words. (Note to self: Scan and upload his first-grade photo already! You still have his kindergarten shot up!)

  • My son Neil, who is maturing into a more self-confident young teenager, looks just like his dad, and is learning lots of cool do-it-yourself skills from his dad. He wired some of the new huge fluorescent lights in Ed's wood shop yesterday! I don't think that too many eighth-graders have that skill. (Note to self: Again with an old photo! C'mon, poky!)

  • All of the people who have helped or are helping Ed set up his new business, Master Cabinetworks, Inc., including our longtime accountant, Martin Wertheim; our attorney, Elena Villafane; graphic artist Lisa Grabowski, who designed MCI's logo (and the Copyediting-L logos, at my request, and is our very good friend); Glenn Court, my friend and colleague who is a whiz not only at copyediting but also at web-site design and who will be building Ed's business web site (what you see there is just a placeholder page that I made); my freelance colleagues, whom I know from subscribing to editing-related e-mail lists and who are business owners themselves and so have plenty of great business tips; and Ed's cabinetmaker colleagues, who have generously given him tips on being a subcontractor and several of whom are giving his contact info to contractors they work with. Thanks to all of them, Ed's business is getting off to a great start, and he's so much happier being self-employed than he was as an employee.

  • The health-care providers and bloggers who inspired me to lose weight and who cheer me on as I continue to lose pounds.

  • My sons' stupendously talented and caring teachers: Terry Kalb and Maryetta Durden (Neil's) and Michael Dragotta (Jared's). The boys are so lucky to have them.

  • Clients, old and new, both for the income they bring me and for the intellectual stimulation that editing their writing brings me. Because of them, I get paid to read—in my home, wearing T-shirts and pants and clogs, away from meetings and office politics. What more could a person want from life? ;-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Pre-Thanksgiving Note of Gratitude

My cabinetmaker husband Ed, newly self-employed, has been taking a huge load off my shoulders, and I'm grateful.

He very much enjoys being the one who, most of the time now, walks our 6-year-old son to the school bus stop in the mornings and who meets him at the bus stop in the afternoons. Ed and I now do the get-ready-for-school routine together each weekday with our 6-year-old and and his 13-year-old brother. I had to do it alone all the time when Ed was an employee, because being self-employed, I was always available. And most times now, he is responsible for supervising our 6-year-old during homework time. I'd been the homework supervisor for years, starting when our now-13-year-old was in kindergarten.

It's so great to have much more of the nitty-gritty of the parenting workload shared these days, though Ed has always been a much more involved father than many fathers I see in our community. And guess who the boys most often choose to go to with homework questions these days: Ed. I feel a tiny twinge of jealousy because they say he's more relaxed about homework than I am. But that doesn't mean that I want all of the responsibility for homework supervision back. ;-)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Reactions to Our Quest to Stop School Bus Bullying

In the previous episode, I asked my school district's board members to place aides or video cameras on district buses to stop bullying, and Newsday, Long Island's giant newspaper, wrote a story about it that appeared online on Wednesday and in print yesterday.

My first-grader, who'd been picked on by two different children, tells me that at the end of the school day yesterday, his school's assistant principal, the school administrator stuck—er ... um ... tasked—with dealing with bus problems, boarded his bus before it left the school. My first-grader, who'd been picked on by two different children, tells me that yesterday, his school's assistant principal, the school administrator stuck—er ... um ... tasked—with dealing with bus problems, pulled from class every child who rides his bus and took them to the cafeteria. She informed them that the bullying has to stop and that they now all have assigned seats on the bus. But she hasn't contacted my husband and me to tell us this. I hope that they're doing assigned seating for all of the buses, but I doubt it very much. What I suspect happened is that she and/or the principal got a phone call from the school board saying that my son's bus situation must be handled immediately. After all, this is the shiny-bright wealthy school district that doesn't want its image tarnished.

My husband talked with our son's bus driver this morning, and he was thrilled about the news story. He says that all of the drivers would love to have aides ride herd on the 40 or so children on each large bus.

We'll continue to press the school board to resolve the problem district-wide. For us, this issue is about ensuring that our children and everyone else's children in the district don't feel unsafe or ostracized. We want them to rise to their full potential, without fear, because the world will be in their hands one day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Taking On the Enablers of Bullies

Remember my post about the bullies on my first-grader's school bus? I spoke at the school board meeting, handed out copies of news stories on other districts that use video cameras on buses, and asked that the board look into either hiring aides to ride district buses or installing cameras on the buses.

Here's the news story (or here).

I'm very pleased about the story. The school district, a wealthy one, absolutely hates bad publicity. (My husband Ed and I aren't wealthy, but that's another story.) The school board members sat in stony silence after I spoke and had nothing to say. But as the story makes clear, Ed and I are not the only parents who want the bullying on buses to stop. Other parents have said that the school district has had the bullying problem for years and wants to pretend it doesn't exist; we're very much hoping that that's not the case. But even if it is the case, Ed and I will continue to appear at school board meetings and ask what the board is going to do about bullying, until we get an answer.

We will not disappear.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Courage to Say What He Thinks

My eighth-grader, Neil, was given one of those school assignments this weekend that is typical for Veterans Day: write a short essay about what the day means to him.

This was hard for Neil, who is a shy, private guy. After years of catching flak from other kids and from adults because of his less-than-perfect social skills caused by his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), he tends to want to keep his sometimes nonconformist opinions to himself. And writing doesn't come easy to him; he's a science geek.

He kept telling his father and me that he couldn't think of anything to say. But his tearing up and his seeming anger told me that he could. After I did some gentle prodding, he confessed that he thought that he might get in trouble at school for what he wanted to write. I told him that he should write what he truly felt, because truth is a valuable quality. I also told him that he isn't required to echo his teachers' beliefs, his father's beliefs, my beliefs, or anyone else's beliefs.

With lots of struggling, he wrote:

What Veterans Day means to to me it that it's stupid, and who cares about all the people who died? I hate it. It's only good for the draft. War sucks. We're wasting all our tax money on all the wars. It puts people into poverty. Because of the wars, the damn gas prices go up. It's just about money, money, money. War doesn't resolve any problems. It's just stupid!

I doubt that he doesn't care about all of the deaths caused by wars; he doesn't want to have to think about death. I'm so proud of that boy for swallowing his fear and being true to himself. He thinks a lot more about the big issues than he often lets on in conversation.

Today, Dr. Seuss; Tomorrow, Dostoyevsky

Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and HamTonight, 6-year-old Jared read Dr. Seuss's entire Green Eggs and Ham aloud to his dad at bedtime. He didn't need to ask for any help, and he is tremendously proud of himself. We all cheered for him.

Today, Dr. Seuss; tomorrow, Dostoyevsky!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Never, Ever Piss Off a Mother

Never, ever piss off a mother—especially one who is an editor, a writer, and a former journalist.

Remember the first-grade boy who bullied my first-grader on the school bus? There's a third-grader who apparently gets her jollies by clawing the hands of any kids in her vicinity; she clawed my son on Friday. Yes, if I contact the school again, the assistant principal will track down the scratching girl and have a talk with her and her parents.

But this one-by-one process won't be effective in the long run, because there will always be new or different kids to do the hitting, poking, scratching, and tripping. So my husband and I will be attending the school district's board of education meeting this coming Tuesday night to request that the board either hire aides to ride all district buses or require the bus companies to install video cameras. Many U.S. schools use video cameras like this.

To help make sure that we don't get patted on the head and told to sit down and shut up, I've written a press release that I will be faxing to the area news media tomorrow. If the news media show up, the board members will likely behave better.

I've posted the press release here, redacted for privacy issues.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Fruits of Friendship

My heart is overflowing just now.

FedEx dropped off a package at my front door. I figured it was tools or equipment that my husband had ordered for his business. But it's not. It's a large box packed full of organic fruit:

  • Bananas

  • Pineapples

  • Persimmons

  • Clementine mandarins

  • Satsuma mandarins

  • Mineola tangelos

  • Blood organges

  • Navel organges

  • Valencia oranges

  • Cocktail grapefruit

  • Ruby grapefruit

  • Fuji apples

  • Braeburn apples

  • Red and gold delicious apples

  • Gala apples

  • Granny Smith apples

  • Jonagold apples

  • Pippin apples

  • Bartlett pears

  • Red Bartlett pears

  • Green and red Anjou pears

  • Asian pears

  • Bosc pears

  • Star crimson pears

  • Comice pears

  • Warren pears

These delights are a gift from a dear friend whom I've never seen in person. We became friends a few years ago through an editorial professionals' e-mail list; I went on to work on a project for her when she did an in-house stint as a developmental editor for a publisher. We follow each other's lives and cheer each other on. She knows me well enough to figure out that because I've changed the way I eat in the last 4 months, organic fruits are the perfect gift.

Anyone who says Internet friends aren't real friends has no heart.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Doin' the Corporate Victory Dance!


Why, no, I'm not at all excited that the officers (that would be my husband, the president, and me, the secretary-treasurer) of newly established Master Cabinetworks, Inc. were notified moments ago that the company's loan application has been approved. And no, I don't think it's at all weird that I have the sudden urge to order such items as a Hinge Mate butt hinge jig, several Gross-Stabil KF2 edge clamps, a Hoffman doweling machine, a Kremlin Airmix 10.14 pump, the König Ko 660 Advanced Kit for touch-ups, and a Makita 10" dual slide compound miter saw with laser and fluorescent light and dicker for better prices than those listed on the companies' web sites.

Ed, my husband, started his first gig as an employee of Master Cabinetworks yesterday. Today we're sending out, by express courier, our application for a home-improvement contractor license to the township where most of his gigs will be located; all such applications must be turned in to the town board by this coming Friday so that they can be on the agenda for next Wednesday's meeting. As company officers, we had to put our mug shots on the application. We also had to include a certificate of liability insurance, which Ed obtained yesterday.

Now we can get a new health insurance policy. And now Ed can once again bring in income and I can get back to spending nearly all of my work hours with KOK Edit. I'm giddy from the exhaustion of working for both Ed's company and mine these last few weeks.

Updated at 8:29 p.m.: We celebrated with champagne toasts at dinner to Master Cabinetworks, Inc.; to each other; to our accountant of 14-plus years; and to my blogging friends and e-mail listmates, who had tips on surviving the two-freelancer lifestyle and on questions to pose to our accountant.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Environmental Alert

An environmental official from Long Island, New York, has issued an alert regarding impending aerial dissemination of biohazardous materials:
"It has come to my attention that human gray matter may shortly be disseminated across mid Long Island, especially in the East Setauket area, with danger for those exposed to it of being covered with organizing and editing cells," said Geraldine Witherspoon, a local EPA supervisor, today. "We do not yet know whether these cells will cause people to become more organized and to write better, but we believe it's best that everyone take cover, just in case."

Witherspoon said that the source of the gray matter in question called her office early this morning to say, "If I don't stop working such long hours on such dense manuscripts, my head's just gonna 'splode." Witherspoon said that the EPA has not confirmed the identity of the caller, but other sources have divulged that they believe the caller to be area resident Katharine O'Moore-Klopf, who is said to routinely engage in an extremely hazardous occupation known as copyediting.

Witherspoon advised area residents to avoid thinking, reading, and learning, activities that would make them even more vulnerable to the effects of the gray matter if it does indeed explode.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

There Ought to Be a Law!

Just caught my husband, who cannot spell his way out of a paper bag, using my copyeditor tea mug. Sacrilege! Impersonating a copyeditor!

There will be retribution. I'm gonna swipe one of his cabinetmaker mugs. That'll show him. I can't build cabinets or furniture.

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