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, February 25, 2008

Choosing Work That Fits Our Neuroses

Part of today's chatter on one professional editors' e-mail list that I subscribe to has been on a fascinating topic: To what extent do we gravitate toward the work that fits our neuroses?

My take is that we do so to a huge extent. If you read the psychological literature, for example, there is a lot written about the wounded healer. Lots of people with caretaker personalities become psychologists and social workers. I'm a caretaker type, and if I hadn't ended up a copyeditor, my second profession choice would've been psychologist.

I can't breathe if I don't read—often—throughout the day. So what am I doing? Getting paid to read. I'm extremely detail-oriented. So what am I doing? Getting paid to fix problematic details in manuscripts. In my universe, things must be symmetrical, evenly paired. So what am I doing? Making sure that for every first-level head that carries subheads, there are at least two subheads.

And my cabinetmaker husband Ed and I have come to think that the majority of cabinetmakers have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) to some extent. Most cabinetmakers are partly in that profession because they can't take a lot of sitting still; they must always be in motion. Communicate with other cabinetmakers, with contractors, with clients? No way—that communication stuff is for those office types who enjoy producing reams of memos. Besides, there's no time to communicate—gotta get the work done, and yesterday!

Looking at our sons' personalities and talents as thus far revealed, Ed and I predict that the older one would make a great cabinetmaker and that the younger one would make a great copyeditor. My daughter inherited my caretaking tendencies; her master's degree is in social work.

What about you? Does your profession make good use of your neuroses?

"I Could Do What You Do!"

Get annoyed when people say, "Oh, I love to read/play with type. I could be an editor/indexer/designer"? Then this cartoon's for you.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nine-Month-Old Ana and Family

I haven't posted photos of my granddaughter, Ana, in a while. Here she is at age 9 months with my daughter, Becky, and my son-in-law, Li, during a recent visit to my house. The tattoo down Li's arm is the name Anastasia. I swear that Ana calls me Grandma, but it sounds more like Gimbom. :-) (Sorry for the graininess; my husband took the photo with his cell phone's camera in somewhat dim lighting.)

Ana, Becky, and Li

Li son-in-law EditorMom

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tracking Soon-to-Be President Obama

The County That Civil Rights Forgot

Marching for voting rights in Texas (photo by Ken Basart)This burns me up: Blacks in Texas—the state I grew up in—are still having to march for the right to vote. From a post yesterday on Burnt Orange Report:

Early voting starts today in Texas. In Waller County, a primarily rural county about 60 miles outside Houston, the county made the decision to offer only one early voting location: at the County Courthouse in Hempstead, TX, the county seat.

Prairie View A&M students organized to protest the decision, because they felt it hindered their ability to vote. For background, Prairie View A&M is one of Texas' historically Black universities. It has a very different demographic feel than the rest of the county. There has been a long history of dispute over what the students feel is disenfranchisement. There was a lot of outrage in 2006, when students felt they were unfairly denied the right to vote when their registrations somehow did not get processed.

According to an article in today's Houston Chronicle:
Waller County has faced numerous lawsuits involving voting rights in the past 30 years and remains under investigation by the Texas Attorney General's Office based on complaints by local black leaders. Those allegations, concerning the November 2006 general election, related to voting machine failures, inadequate staffing and long delays for voting results.
The article adds,
"I was angry after registering to vote in the 2006 election only to be turned away at the voting booth," said sophomore Dee Dee Williams.
So what are the students doing?

1000 students, along with an additional 1000 friends and supporters, are this morning walking the 7.3 miles between Prairie View and Hempstead in order to vote today. According to the piece I saw on the news (there's no video up, so I can't link to it), the students plan to all vote today. There are only 2 machines available at the courthouse for early voting, so they hope to tie them up all day and into the night.

Thanks to the students' efforts, with a little help from the Federal Government, additional early voting sites will be open (just not right away):
Under pressure from the federal government, Waller County on Tuesday added three temporary polling places for early voting, ditching plans to open only one voting site in advance of the March 4 primary.

The Justice Department questioned the county's January decision to cut early-voting sites from a half dozen throughout the county to just one in Hempstead. The county's about-face came on the same day that vocal critics announced a mass march to the polls next week.

Commissioners made the change in an emergency session Tuesday to address questions from federal voting officials about whether one site would infringe on the rights of minority voters.

Early voting begins Tuesday, but the additional sites won't open until the end of next week. They will be available for voters from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 22 and 23.

You can see aerial photos here.

And here's an amateur video of part of the march:

Watch it and then tell me that all U.S. citizens are given an equal chance to exercise their civil rights.

Hat tip to AMERICAblog.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Excellent Blogger Award

Excellent Blogger awardI'm so honored! Jackie at Nursing Your Kids has named EditorMom an excellent blog for being "interesting and timely."

I read or skim well over 60 blogs a day—speed-reading, anyone?—and so could list a great many wonderful blogs here, but I'll limit myself to a few, in addition to Nursing Your Kids:

AMERICAblog provides terrific political commentary, sometimes being the first to report a story, and is activist too.

The Carpetbagger Report also has excellent political commentary. It ties with AMERICAblog for my favorite political blog.

FreelanceSwitch is for freelancers in all industries, all around the world. Read it to learn how to attract more clients, earn more money, and balance life and work.

Half of Me chronicles, with a sense of humor, one young woman's amazing weight-loss journey. She's now less than half the size she once was, and she is one of two bloggers who inspired me to begin losing weight.

Joe Wikert's Publishing 2020 Blog keeps readers informed about "print, online, video and all media formats not yet invented." This is the place to learn about coming trends in publishing.

Lively Women has women’s health and wellness information you can actually understand and use.

Publishing Careers provides an online informational interview for college students, new graduates, and career changers interested in knowing what a job in publishing is like and how they can get one.

Redneck Mother will make you laugh and cry in recognition of things all parents go through. "Raising children, lettuce and hell in Texas," RedMo is a smart—and smartass—homeschooling mother and feminist.

The Shape of a Mother allows mothers to share their stories and their photos in the service of teaching people what real women's bodies look like. We moms should be proud of our bodies—they've housed and nurtured new lives!

Thoughts on ADHD and Marriage is a huge help to me, as the sole person in the six-person House of AD/HD who doesn't have the neurobehavioral disorder. Its wise posts help me keep things in perspective. If you have AD/HD or have a life partner who does, you owe it to yourself to subscribe to Thoughts. One of its coauthors is Dr. Ned Hallowell, well known and loved in the AD/HD community because he both has AD/HD and is an expert on it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Break a Leg!

Now I know why in wishing someone luck, people (at least in the U.S.) often say, "Break a leg." It works!

About a week and a half ago, I wrote about how my cabinetmaker husband, Ed, ruptured one Achilles tendon three quarters of the way through. I told you that he'd had a brilliant idea for avoiding crutch use while he's doing work that requires him to be on his feet rather than sitting. Ever seen drywall stilts? People who are putting up drywall and using spackle wear special stilts to allow them to reach the ceilings and the tops of walls. He planned to retrofit the one for his right leg so that it would adapt to the position of his foot, which is casted so that it points down. Then, the theory went, Ed would be able to walk everywhere and still have the use of his hands—no holding on to crutches—for things like holding a lacquer spray gun or nail gun.

Alas, Ed couldn't figure out a way to retrofit the one stilt, so there are no funny photos to show. The stilts still will be handy, once Ed's leg is healed, for when he must work on full-height cabinets that are already installed.

What he's done instead is to use a Dremel tool to shave back the edge of the cast atop his foot and add some padding under it, and then wear a cast stock and an old sneaker that he's modified to widen it to fit the cast. That gives him a flat walking surface; remember that his leg was casted with his toes pointing downward to facilitate the growing together again of the two ends of the tendon. He walks without crutches when he needs to by throwing the casted leg out sideways and then stepping forward with his other leg.

He's already cut and primed five large cabinets that will go inside closets. He'll start assembling them tomorrow with the help of our 13-year-old son Neil. That kid seems to have his dad's talents; he's pretty darn good and focused in the wood shop. When it's time to install the cabinets this coming weekend, Ed will pay our hulking son-in-law, Li, to help him lift, with the aid of a stair-climber hand truck, and install them all. Son-in-law's a veterinary technician, not a cabinetmaker, but he follows directions well. ;-)

And Ed says that he had to injure his leg for his new business to really get going. Before he did so, business was slow. Now, in addition to the two large projects he's currently working on, three more are in the offing, and he has several more bids out.

The moral of this tale: Get yourself in a spot where you aren't set up for lots of work, and it'll come your way immediately.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Stem Cells in Breast Milk

Breast milk contains stem cells! How cool is that?!

Says an article in ScienceAlert, from Australia and New Zealand:
The Perth scientist who made the world-first discovery that human breast milk contains stem cells is confident that within five years scientists will be harvesting them to research treatment for conditions as far-reaching as spinal injuries, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

But what Dr Mark Cregan is excited about right now is the promise that his discovery could be the start of many more exciting revelations about the potency of breast milk.

He believes that it not only meets all the nutritional needs of a growing infant but [also] contains key markers that guide his or her development into adulthood.

"We already know how breast milk provides for the baby's nutritional needs, but we are only just beginning to understand that it probably performs many other functions," says Dr Cregan, a molecular biologist at the University of Western Australia.

He says that in essence, a new mother's mammary glands take over from the placenta to provide the development guidance to ensure a baby's genetic destiny is fulfilled.

"It is setting the baby up for the perfect development," he says. "We already know that babies who are breast fed have an IQ advantage and that there's a raft of other health benefits. Researchers also believe that the protective effects of being breast fed continue well into adult life.

"The point is that many mothers see milks as identical—formula milk and breast milk look the same so they must be the same. But we know now that they are quite different and a lot of the effects of breast milk versus formula don't become apparent for decades. Formula companies have [focused] on matching breast milk's nutritional qualities, but formula can never provide the developmental guidance."
Hey, formula makers, you can't make formula with stem cells in it! Nature does know what it's doing.

Hat tip to Nursing Your Kids.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Summing Up Obama

This the e-mail that I just sent to my brother and his partner, who live in Texas:
I'm asking you two guys to do me a big favor: If you're registered Democrats, please, please, please vote for Senator Barack Obama in the Texas primary on Tuesday, March 4.

He's an incredibly smart man who's down to earth—he's one of us. He also believes in civil unions for gay and lesbian people; he voted against the federal marriage amendment because he believes it should be up to individual states whether to legalize same-sex marriage.

Here is a summary of his stances on gay-rights issues.

Here is his January 2007 speech on universal health care insurance.

Here are explanations of his stances on various issues.

Here is a short bio of Obama.

Here is his voting record as a U.S. senator.

And here are the texts of his major speeches.

Obama has the people skills—and Clinton doesn't—to forge political alliances that will get legislation passed. Clinton is competent, but she doesn't bring people together. She's not a consensus-builder, and that's what this country desperately needs right now.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Living with AD/HD: "I Have Always Felt Different"

For "civilians"—those who haven't lived with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD)—to accept that AD/HD is real and debilitating without treatment, there must be much more research like this.

What's my interest in this issue? I'm the only person in the House of AD/HD who doesn't have the disorder, and I get tired of hearing all of the naysaying. AD/HD doesn't exist? It's a disorder made up by parents who'd rather control their children by giving them medication than by working hard at parenting? Yeah, right. I have a 24-year-old daughter from my first marriage who doesn't have AD/HD, and let me tell you, parenting my two sons from my current marriage who do have AD/HD is much harder, even with medication and behavioral modification.

Researchers Mona Shattell, Robin Bartlett, and Tracie Rowe decided that what it's like to live with AD/HD is best told by those who have it.

Barlett told me, "I thought that people who had lived a life affected by AD/HD had much to teach us. I chose to interview college-aged and college-enrolled students because they had achieved some success (as evidenced by their being in college). I thought, What better way to find out what works with children with AD/HD than to speak with people who had achieved some positive outcomes. Of course, being college-enrolled is only one small measure of success, but it seemed to me to be a great place to start."

And Shattell analyzed the study participants' stories, which is her area of expertise. She's written on a variety of topics, most of them related to mental health and health care. "My overarching interest is to share untold stories in meaningful and (hopefully) powerful ways—stories of real people living real lives who often struggle for and deserve something better," she told me.

Their article, just published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, reports young adults' descriptions of their AD/HD childhood:

Getting along with parents was central to these young adults' childhood experiences of ADHD. In their view, children with ADHD have more trouble than others. One [study] participant noted: "It is also coming of age, every kid goes through this, and getting to know yourself and not being afraid of who you are ... so, it's rough on anyone, but it tends to be a little rougher on people with special needs." In describing the impact of their ADHD on family life, participants recalled individual frustration, verbal arguments with parents and siblings, and, in the words of one participant, "mass chaos fights."

Fighting with parents was often caused by the failure of the child or the adolescent to perform chores within the expected time frame. Because of their distractibility and hyperactivity, participants said that they had difficulty completing tasks, causing problems with their parents. Parents' encouragement to do various household chores (such as laundry, vacuuming, and "keeping my room clean") often resulted in verbal altercations. One participant recalled,

Doing chores and stuff at home, I always had a problem getting things done. I never really finished anything. I always started things and then I'd go off and watch TV. I got distracted very easily doing chores. I don't know if it was voluntary distraction ... but we definitely fought a lot about getting chores done.

Another participant said,

I like to read the newspaper at home on the weekends with my mom there. Sometimes I get so focused on the newspaper or what I'm doing that I don't want to do what my parents have asked me to do, like the vacuuming or the laundry. 'Cause they want it to be done, they expect it to be done and if I haven't done it, then I have a problem. ... Doing things for my parents and being aware of what needs to be done around the house, that's the only times it really gets to me or hurts me.

These young people said that even as children, they felt different from everyone their age, and their classmates were hurtful in emphasizing their difference: "Other kids at school would call them retarded, slow, or stupid, and then ostracize them." And the very adults who were supposed to be helping them at school were sometimes cruel:

Participants did not want to be singled out by special education or resource teachers and preferred these support persons to be discrete. One participant told about a time when her name was announced over the school's intercom system to "report to the special ed office." Another participant told about a coach who called him stupid because he could not understand the instructions the first time they were given.

What was it like in the classroom for these young people when they were children?

They had trouble listening, paying attention, completing homework, and staying on task; they were forgetful, had trouble standing still, and could not focus; they daydreamed—staring blankly into space. Deepening their difficulties in school, many participants had comorbid learning disabilities. As one participant said, recalling the fourth grade, "In class, I had a kind of lag time, 'cause in between me figuring out what had been going on, the entire class moved on, so I missed out on information. So that was one of the biggest things—missing out—taking a longer time to get the entire idea." [Participants said that even] after treatment began, ... [they faced] ongoing challenges, albeit less severe.

AD/HD adversely affects personal relationships too, including friendships, both because those with AD/HD often have poor social skills and because others perceive their differences. One study participant said:

I didn't have that many friends ... I was outcast and I had low self-esteem. I dropped out of my eighth grade for a year and a half 'cause I was so unhappy there. I think it was more of a self-esteem issue and the respect. It may have had something to do with the ADHD, them finding out ... people looked at me differently, like, oh, she has a disability, oh, she's stupid, she's retarded. I mean ... I just don't get things as easily as others. And I don't think they understood that.

Maybe these young adults' stories will at least get civilians thinking that AD/HD just might exist in children. But will they think it's only a childhood thing, something that kids grow out of? Let me tell you this story:

I love my husband, Ed, with all my heart. He is sweet, kind, patient, silly, charming, and attractive. He's a terrific father to our sons. I didn't set out to change him. But if I had not pushed him to see a therapist—when things got very difficult early in our marriage—because I thought he might have AD/HD, we would not still be married. We've made it through 14 years together so far. And yes, he knows that I'm writing this about him, and he's okay with it, because we believe that when we tell our story, we help clear up the misunderstandings about AD/HD, at least in our corner of the world.

Neither he nor I knew when we married that he has AD/HD, the inattentive type (without hyperactivity). Both of his parents have it too, which they didn't know back then either, and our 13-year-old son has the combined type (both hyperactivity and inattentiveness). And we now suspect that our 6-year-old son has a mild form of the inattentive type, without the hyperactivity.

Because of his AD/HD, Ed has an extremely difficult time juggling the various life spheres that many of us must juggle—relationship with a life partner, child rearing, work, leisure time. He also has a difficult time remaining focused on whatever task he's doing. To stay on task, he hyperfocuses. When he's working—and he's working here at our home because he's self-employed now—he can forget that I exist. I become a part of the room—say, the curtains—and, to his brain, not a stimulus worthy of notice. When he comes in at lunch (I'm self-employed too), he's all work and no play, talking with me only about work-related stuff. No "Honey, I love you"—and he's normally a very loving, demonstrative guy, which is one of the reasons I married him. When he's with me mentally, he's still often thinking obsessively about what he has to do for work, lest he forget something important. Once we had children together, I got lots less attention from him. Yes, I know that children take a lot of time and energy, but parenting ours sometimes seems to suck his brain out, leaving little of it for me.

With medication and through learning coping skills in therapy (which is still ongoing after all these years), his life-arena balancing skills have gotten much better, though they won't ever be up to the level of those who don't have AD/HD. He calls his cell phone his brain, because without its alarms and reminders, he's lost. He even has to set alarms to remind him to spend time with me. He hates that he needs to do that, because he thinks it should come naturally to him because he loves me. But he knows that if we don't spend quality time together, I become depressed and angry and withdrawn. (Yes, I do my part to initiate quality time with him, but I don't want to be the only one doing so.) Without those reminders, he does think about me, but then something else will catch his attention and he'll head off, good intentions completely forgotten.

I also didn't set out to change my in-laws. But if I hadn't insisted that something was wrong there too—lack of boundaries with us, things blurted out constantly without thinking how they'd affect us, inability to remember promises they'd made to us, inability to have forethought and be considerate of us, and on and on—Ed's and my life together would've been hell, because his parents live in our home. My father-in-law has taken medication for several years now for his diagnosed AD/HD, and both he and my mother-in-law have learned, with my coaching, how to be considerate. These days, they're indispensable to us, and we are to them too. They help us out by cooking some meals for us occasionally and running errands for us while we're working, and we help them with technology that they don't want to learn and with things like paperwork.

If I'd known back in 1992 that I was moving into the House of AD/HD, I might have run screaming away. But I didn't know then, and I fell in love. And it has been worth it to do the hard work with Ed, with our sons, and with his parents. Though some days I can easily imagine myself pulling my hair out in frustration, the rest of the time I can't picture life without any of them. They each have so much to give me and everyone else they meet.

I want all of the civilians out there to know that AD/HD is real, that it can be treated (though not cured), and that those with it are worthy of our kindness and understanding. The research by Shattell and colleagues is an excellent step toward that goal. All of you others out there who research AD/HD, are you listening?


Misadventures at the Polling Place

Ed and I live in a Super Tuesday state, so right after we got our youngest off to school on Tuesday, we drove over to the elementary school, our polling place, to vote in the presidential primary. After we voted, we chatted with a couple of the poll workers whom we see every single time we vote in an election. Ed told them just how important it was to him to vote in the primary: "I'd have found a way to get here even if I had two broken legs." Everyone chuckled, and we headed out to walk back to our van in the parking lot.

As we walked, Ed noticed a box truck slowly heading off with its vertical sliding back door still partially open. Visualizing all sorts of things falling out of the truck and onto the road and causing a driving hazard for others, Ed took off running after the truck. He wanted to catch it before it left the parking lot and warn the driver about the door.

Now, being a cabinetmaker, Ed's in very good shape for a 46-year-old man. He's on his feet all day at work and is always lifting and moving heavy sheets of plywood and large cabinets. He's the one who climbs up and down a 40-foot ladder each December to string Christmas lights on the 40-plus-foot blue spruce tree in our front yard. Though he doesn't jog anymore, he did so for years. When he's doing yard work on weekends, he trots from the tool shed to the garage to the garden. He's just not a sedentary guy. So when he was racing after the truck, he was shocked when his right leg gave out on him in midstride and landed his body splat on the asphalt.

It seems that sometime in December, he had somehow slightly torn his Achilles tendon in that leg. He hadn't known anything was wrong with it; he'd just had some occasional aches in the leg. Yesterday, after X-rays and an MRI, an orthopedist informed him that in running full speed at the polling place, he'd torn the tendon three-quarters of the way through.

The doc said that even if the running hadn't done him in, eventually the tendon would have completely snapped, maybe even just while he was walking somewhere. Because there is still a quarter of the width of the tendon intact, Ed won't have to undergo surgery. The doc casted his leg from the knee down, with his foot pointing down and the tendon ends pushed back together. Within 4 to 6 weeks, the tendon ends will have grown together again. Then he'll be in a leg brace for a while as he undergoes physical therapy so that he can walk properly again; the tendon will heal shorter than it once was and will need some supervised stretching. Right now, he's out in his wood shop hopping and crutching around on his good leg as he builds some cabinets.

Moral of this story: Be careful what you joke about!

Updated at 3:45 p.m.: With the out-of-the-box thinking that is a gift of AD/HD, Ed has come up with a brilliant idea for avoiding crutches while he's doing work that requires him to be on his feet rather than sitting. Ever seen drywall stilts? People who are putting up drywall and using spackle wear special stilts, like those at the link below, to allow them to reach the ceilings and the tops of walls.

We just ordered a pair. He'll retrofit the one for his right leg so that it will adapt to the position of his foot, which is casted so that it points down. Then he'll be able to walk everywhere and still have the use of his hands--no holding on to crutches--for things like holding a lacquer spray gun or nail gun.

Nothing ever keeps that man down. :-)

Updated 2/18/08

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Yes, We Can

This country has been in a clinical depression for 8 long years. The reason Barack Obama is going to win is that he touches our hearts and tells us the bright shining truth that we have longed to hear for those 8 years—that we can work together and do the right thing, that we can be better than we have been.

Hat tip to Odd Time Signatures. Here is the story behind the video.

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