Friday, October 16, 2009


Retirement is killing me.

When my first wife passed away, I decided to be a stay-at-home dad. My boys were teenagers and pretty independent, but I figured that a reliable presence in the home was a necessary bit of continuity for them. They did not need a parent preoccupied with career worries and responsibilities; since I was already taking time off, it seemed natural to extend that. Plus, I felt like I had this responsibility to make the effort to get into the best physical condition I could manage: After all, I was the only parent they had.

Well, now they are both seniors in college and retirement is driving me crazy. I could write about the sameness of every day, but it all comes down to wanting to feel productive. I'm volunteering for an after school program and have put in my time on the boards of nonprofit organizations. That has helped. But there's nothing like being a part of working group and the feeling that your contribution is important enough to merit being paid for it.

Aside from the volunteer stints, I haven't worked in several years and feel as if my technical and writing chops have atrophied. And, I'm profoundly uninterested in resuming an executive career. So, I've decided to pursue the retraining route, in this case via Professional and Technical Editing Certification from Bellevue College.

I signed up for the obvious starter class: Professional Editing I. In some ways, I haven't learned much that I didn't already know. As I've never been an editor, the class -- which is well taught by a very experienced and knowledgeable guy -- has been useful in helping me organize and clarify my thoughts about editing. The real challenge of the class has been the project, which has been humbling to say the least.

For anyone interested -- and if you read for more than two sentences I'll be amazed -- I chose to edit this Wikipedia article. I selected the article after a cursory glance through it: The article related to work in my past life and I felt a comfort level with, if not necessarily an affinity for, the material. Then I started working on it. Suddenly confronted with a bewildering maze of technical terminology and amateurish organization, I wondered whether I had bitten off more than I could chew. The instructor gave me a pep talk and I waded in.

And do you know what? Twenty readings and several reorganizations later, I've whipped it into shape. It's not perfect and I may not have everything right, but I've added value -- an organization and attention to technical definitions that simply wasn't there. After meeting with the program advisor yesterday, I'm feeling like completion of this program will give me exactly what I need to walk into an agency and get some contracts.

So, I'll be spending the next several months taking classes like Substantive Editing, Developmental Editing, Information Architecture for the Web, and Project Management for Technical Writers and Editors. I'm glad that the classes seem demanding: I need to be pushed, plus succeeding in them will grow confidence. Stay tuned!...

Check out Farewell to Storyville, Paul Sanchez' new album, here...


Cliff's Crib reflects on President Obama's visit to NOLA...

Happiness is listening to your wife play Joni Mitchell's "The River" on piano from sheet music that you just helped her download...

If you lived in NOLA, you could join the likes of Buddy Guy, Irma Thomas, and Sonny Landreth at the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival this weekend. Tasty in so many ways...

Friday's Choice: The incomparable Toots Hibbert -- with help from the Maytals -- sings "Take Me Home, Country Road:"


Foxessa said...

K -- I'm deeply impressed by what you accomplished in that wiki entry. I couldn't have done that, no way!

Cliff's Crib reflects on President Obama's visit to NOLA... reflects my own thoughts on the matter, as you probably are aware.

About now Vaquero's giving the keynote address to the Zócolo conference on hispanic immigration to New Orleans. I had to edit out about 3 pp. of it last night -- naturally he sends this to me after 9 pm, when my brain tends to shift gear to 'what?' But the focus is on the pitting of race-class of the displaced African Americans of New Orleans against the illegal hispanic immigrants brought in by the halliburton subcontractors, who don't vote, and who don't have families with them, and who so deeply undercut the wages of the traditional black blue collar workers of New Orleans. The ultimate consequence is that the black population can't move back, and that makes the republicans very happy.

Of course he can trace the history and the consequences of this, but -- how to deal with it productively is beyond our capacities. But it must be dealt with productively, because, well they're here now, and they aren't going home, and more are coming every day.

Love, C.

K. said...

Thanks, but that article is what I started with. Since there's not a subject matter expert to check my developmental edit, I won't actually post my changes. I don't have the permission for that anyway. My guess is that this was originally an internal Microsoft document written by a program manager or product marketer.

Re Obama's trip to NOLA, I appreciate that some people are upset by its brevity and by his use of Katrina shorthand. Myself, I think the guy is too sharp to not already grasp the issues with the Army Corps of Engineers and wetlands preservation. Publicly castigating the Corps is politically out of the question for a sitting president, I would think, so one must hope that he has had words for them in private.

I don't live there and certainly didn't suffer through Katrina, so I'm trying to tread carefully here. People I respect are unhappy about the visit. But the political moment to think and act big came and went before Obama was elected, so about all he can do is plug away. I fear that the best to be hoped for is slow but steady change.

And I don't envy the people trying to sort out the dilemma posed by Vaquero. Of course, it won't be sorted out and once again the poor will be pitted against the poor. Sigh...

Blogalot said...

Aieee -- an AD topic?! You're a brave soul! This is why I've always stuck to "end-user" documentation.

K. said...

I make no claims to absolute technical accuracy or marketing relevance, but at least I forced a decent organization and glossary on it.

K. said...

F: Cliff's Crib is one of the most centered blogs I've come across. It's a real treasure.

Foxessa said...

The Obama administration has done a lot, in the sense of letting lose funds that the bushregime kept knotted up. You can see the tremendous effect of that everywhere in the last 6 months, as I wrote about on Fox Home.

Some will say that to compare what the O people have accomplished with the previous regime's blockade isn't a fair comparison, of course -- because the regime did nothing and actively hindered doing anything, so of course Obama's administration has a better track record.

What matters to me is that the Obama administration started the unblocking and non-hindering as fast they possibly could.

It takes a very long time to heal from a catastrophe that enormous, spread over such an enormous region. Trees do not grow back in four years.

Still, for me, the worst is that the generations deep black families -- something like 67% of them -- have not been able to return. They are the foundation of that culture that makes so many fall in love with New Orleans, that made Jazz Fest the destination vacation of so many.

When you need dead trees removed from your block and who is there to do it but an illegal Honduran immigrant work crew for a job that is all day for a week, and the whole price is $500, and the black family guy down the street with his family and crew with their families are charging $2500 -- and they've got mortgages, or rent, and kids to clothe and feed, etc. -- who is getting the job?

And if those who did get the job don't get paid by their boss, who fights back?

Love, C.

Roy said...

More power to you for learning editing. I have enough trouble editing my own stuff when I do a mostly-prose article (I have a tendency to run on and get redundant); I have absolutely no patience for editing someone else's stuff. Good luck!

Who'd a thought Toots would do a cover of "Country Roads"? Not bad!

I can't watch the video of the kid asking the President why people hate him. When I click on it the player blacks out and then pops up a message that says: This video is not available in your country due to copyright restrictions." Huh?

Roy said...

Okay, after three more on a YouTube search page wouldn't let me watch for the same reasons, this one finally worked. I wonder what's up with the other ones?

Anyhow, he had a good answer, one that didn't go pointing fingers at his political enemies and keep the battle hot. That's something I'm pretty sure I couldn't do!

K. said...

Roy: OK, I think I've fixed the video. Thanks for the encouragement! I've seen Toots sing "Country Road,' back in the ate 70s. It brought down the house!

Foxessa: It does seem to me as if the administration has done a fine job of grabbing and distributing the low-hanging fruit. A couple of years ago, I read Billy Sothern's Down In New Orleans. It's a good book that left me discouraged because of the magnitude of the task and because the city is so splintered into groups in the habit of working at cross-purposes.

But I see no hope for sudden dramatic progress mainly because, as I say, the political moment for that has come and gone. That's not something that a even a politician as adept as Barack Obama can manufacture.

Scrumpy said...

I think it is fantastic that you are taking on this new challenge. (And it is nice to know a little more about your story.)

If you and Premium T are ever in Chicago, you'll have to let hubby and I take you to Buddy Guy's Legends. It is right down the street from us.

K. said...

Scrumpy; We love Chicago! Don't be too surprised if we show up someday! I'd love to go to Buddy Guy's club.

Some Monday call down to the Green Mill and see if the Patricia Barber Quartet is in town. She won't disappoint. I took Premium T. to see Patricia (here in Seattle) for our first date. The rest is history.

Cowtown Pattie said...

Good for you - back to the classroom!

But, just don't edit me on the lone prairie...LOL

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

K, I really do appreciate your views and your respect for mine. Hence, Obama's Sham'wow of New Orleans Oct 15th has left me considerably conflicted. I cannot stand this. It will not do. If we don't address the Corps' civil engineering failures across country then we may as well hang it up and hit the road.

In the interests of full disclosure (and to satisfy the requirements of my court-ordered aversion therapy) Editilla must remind our y'all (and myself constantly) that I VOTED FOR THIS LIPSTICK PIG...

What we have heah is more than just a fail'ya ta'comoonicate.
On this trip he often and regularly said Katrina did it.
We have a fundamental breach in veracity of Obama's grasp of the difference between Man Made and Natural Disaster.
That is a difference that makes a difference to everyone.

I'm just telling you, in his faux southern accented Elmer Gantry Wise Blood Victim Card Speech in New Orleans, he showed me that he is either stupid or a liar for the Corps of Engineers. Both alternatives scare me to death.
Just for the record: Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi. The Corps of Engineers hit New Orleans.
This isn't my opinion or a gut feeling or a myth from my own broken sanity.
It is the stone cold facts.

And what is Obama doing sucking off George Bush Sr so hard?
~Reporting from College Station, Texas - In a glowing tribute to a Republican predecessor, President Obama on Friday praised President George H.W. Bush as an example of someone who eschewed "a life of comfort and privilege" and instead devoted himself to public service -- inside government and out.
Bwhahahahahahaaaa whew! Even Editilla can't field that one!
George H.W. Bush the Poor Community Activist! Hahahaha!
I mean...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA... I hafta go peeeee!
But, can somebody please tell us why the Big George has such a Boner standing next to His O'ner? Points of Light My Ass!
"There's no place for partisanship when a great American city is under water," Obama said. Riiiight, but there Was a place for it during his Tinkle-stop Tour(s) of New Orleans? Boo!

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

And K,
you and I virtually met over shits and giggles about Obama getting elected. It damn sure wasn't your baseball masochism.
Actually it is your own writing and love of writing, music, wild Foxes, Banjo Poets, Masqued E'vingas, leprechauns and all sorts of other tasty treats that drew me to this blog and hold me here.
I just hope you can remember how I gushed, snickered and poured forth such Gaga over Obama getting elected. I mean, I actually slept through the night. Now I can't sleep again.
We have a problem, Houston --and it just so happens to Be in Houston hahahaha!

What I realize now is that many who helped get Obama elected are just too young to know about Reagan/Bush. Hell, alot of them weren't even potty trained when George Jr stole the election in 2000. I mean I was only 12 years old when Chaney and Rumsefield started setting up this coup.

So now that Obama is patting that Nazi on the Back, calling him a selfless community activist, my sense of taste and timing follows me around like a lost jailhouse "girlfriend".
This is when you really know the coup took: we cannot avoid voting for the Bush Family Policies.
It makes me feel that, with the approach of H1N1, we are about to see Pigs Fly.

Jus'sayin, I apologize to you and your readers, all the rest can just pass on in silence.
We have only a year maybe two to try and get another candidate ready for 2012. Clinton's campaign office is still open btw, and staffed. Not that she would be any different, but I tend to trust Women legislators on the whole more than men right now.

K. said...

As I say, I wasn't there and am hesitant to comment one way or another. As you noted on the New Orleans Ladder, the visit is getting some tough press nationally. I continue to think that, politically speaking, this is a tough time to swing for the fences. no matter how justified