Monthly Archives: February 2015

Oh, Sparky…

While doing groceries this morning, I got a voicemail from Sparky’s school. He had called to say that he’d forgotten his lunch at home.

Except he hadn’t. There was nothing left on the floor of the entryway when we went out the door. And he had the lunchbox in his hand when I dropped him off at school.

When I got home, I double-checked the fridge, the entryway, and the back seat of the car. Nothing. So I threw together another lunch and took it to school, along with a note that said yes, he had remembered his lunch; he’d had it with him when he got to school, so it was probably in the schoolyard somewhere.

I certainly hope he finds his lunchbox, because I bought him a new drink bottle-thing yesterday, and it was not cheap. (Well, it was, actually; that particular single bottle was on clearance, but it was the last one, and the only reason I’d bought it was because it was marked down, because new the prices are stupidly high.) Also, I’m not a fan of the idea of having to buy a new lunchbox two-thirds of the way through the year, or replacing all the terrific nearly-new containers in it.

Apart from his lunchbox mysteriously vanishing between the schoolyard gate and his classroom, things are mostly okay. He got his second-term report card a couple of weeks ago and it was quite decent in most areas except math, and his French had dropped a bit. He got a plaque at a recent assembly, an award for being a risk-taker — which, if you know him, is both puzzling and great. He doesn’t trust himself to try new things or go out on a limb very often, so if a teacher recognized that particular value in him, then that means they’re doing a great job making him feel safe and able to be more daring in various areas of his life. (Risk-taking isn’t something out of the blue; it’s one of the values stressed in the International Baccalaureate programme’s philosophy. The IB programme embodies ten values: it aims to develop learners who are inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective. These ten values are underlined and revisited again and again in various modules and units, as well as activities, educational approaches, and teaching styles. It’s awesome; basically, they’re educating upright citizens of the world, the educational environment suits Sparky very well, and I am all for it.)

He has run into a roadblock with long division, with which I completely and utterly sympathize, since I did in grade four, too. (Mine stemmed from a sudden switch into doing math in French, and the French way of doing long division is different, which created a lot of stress and confusion at home when my dad tried to coach me through my math homework.) He is not a fan of having to do extra work to understand how something is done, so a few bonus long division problems every couple of days on top of drilling a multiplication table or two nightly is moaned and whined about regularly. There is much dragging of feet when I remind him to study his French vocabulary, too. Basically, anything that was not directly assigned by a teacher that needs to be handed in or checked in class is seen as the Worst Thing Ever, because we’re obviously manufacturing extra work as some kind of punishment or just to make his life miserable. Sorry, kid; what’s actually happening is we’re teaching you how to study and how to break tasks down into smaller components so you learn them thoroughly instead of just zipping through them and barely passing a test. He tends to rush through things and not question the answer he arrives at, something I’ve been trying to teach him to do when he finishes a problem. If you’re dividing 348 by 4, for example, the answer cannot be bigger than 348, and if you use simple logic, it can’t be bigger than half or a third of it, either; if it is, it means you went off track during your process and either multiplied two things together incorrectly or multiplied the wrong two things (something that happens with great frequency in his division). He loves to learn; he does not love to work. (As an aside… we were so right to switch schools. He probably wouldn’t have hit this until high school if he’d stayed in the other one.)

He’s on March Break next week. There’s at least a hot chocolate date, a bookstore trip, and hopefully a movie planned. But he’s not going to be happy when I remind him to keep up with his math practice.

Oh Look, It’s the End of February

And really, March 1 cannot come too soon.

I don’t have the energy for full paragraphs. Let’s do a point-form post.

My first two weeks on the video game project are done. So far I am enjoying it.

In my off time I handled my first project of the new year for the publisher. It was a Star Wars book. Yet again my geeky hoard of trivia proves useful! (Here’s a tip for you: The term ‘Jedi’ is a singular plural. One Jedi, two Jedi, many Jedi. Never Jedis. Never. LOOK, I CAN BE GEEKY ON MULTIPLE LEVELS HERE! AND PEOPLE PAY ME FOR IT!)

I started my free month-long trial of subscribing to Scribd for e-books and audiobooks. All things Agatha Christie have been converging in my life, and I decided to subscribe to an audiobook service so I could listen to her books while I spin or knit, but I find Audible very expensive for what it is. Scribd is $8.99 a month and offers unlimited access to a tonne of audiobooks, and e-books, too, so I went that route. (Bonus, I discovered: comics and graphic novels. Awesome.)

I am knitting a hat for a swap, and I am arguing with it. I have already ripped it back twice, and I suspect I will do it again. I just don’t know if I will try the pattern a third time, or give up on the decorative stitch part and simply knit it straight, then add a little something to it afterward. That kind of feels like cheating or giving up, but it may save my sanity. Ceri pointed out that the pattern isn’t hard but it’s tricky, which can be just as frustrating in a different way, and she has a point. Add that to the fact that I can’t knit anything more complicated than basic stockinette or garter in a room where there are other people, and there is a problem. It doesn’t help that the deadline for mailing is in one week. I could have been done by now if I hadn’t decided I really wanted to spin the yarn for this project. (But I did, and it’s terribly nice to knit with, I must say.)

I’ve started spinning more yarn for Mum’s beautiful silk/cashmere/Merino wrap. She’s getting close to the end of the stuff I made for her in 2013, and it’s not long enough, even taking into account the length blocking will add. I am so glad I took good notes about how I made the initial yarn.

One month till the chamber orchestra’s spring concert. That’s… soon. (Saturday 21 March, 7:30 PM at Valois United church. Mark your calendars. It’s a lovely programme.)

Yeah, Owlet’s post is late. That’s par for the course these days.

We had a lovely little Valentine’s Day tea party for our goddaughters, and it was so much fun. We finally got to use the half-size china teacups I bought Owlet for her first birthday for the kids. There were several courses of delicious tea-type foodstuffs, excellent company, and it was just a lovely day all around.

I got a new fountain pen; a Noodler’s Ahab in the colour Ahab’s Pearl. It’s a flex nib, and I’ve been really wanting to try a flex nib. It’s got a thick barrel, like my Waterman Kultur. I would have preferred a Konrad or a Nib Creaper, both of which are slimmer, but didn’t have them in stock at the time and I had really promised myself a new pen when the big cheque for the math book came in. I inked it with J Herbin’s Vert Empire, and I am smitten. I am also wholly smitten by the converter it came with, and the converters I ordered for my Waterman and Parker pens. I put some Diamine Damson in my extra-fine Sheaffer pen, and it writes so much more smoothly than it did when inked with the Noodler’s #41 Brown. I think the Diamines may be lubricated; I’m not entirely certain.

Okay, that’s enough. Back to work.

Back to Work

It’s been an awful week and a half here. Everyone except Sparky was very ill with the flu. Today is the first day everyone is where they’re supposed to be. We’re all tired and drained, most of us haven’t eaten properly all week, and I’m still mystified as to how Sparky managed to escape all of this. (HRH thinks it was sheer force of will, because we had a Lego party for five of his friends slated to happen here yesterday, and we warned him that if he got sick we’d have to reschedule it. He stayed well, and the party went off brilliantly. Six ten-year-olds, a tonne of Lego, pizza, and a movie; it was a good day.)

This is good, everyone being where they’re supposed to be, because I am starting a new project today, according to the contracts that were countersigned last week. I signed an NDA in early January, heard nothing for a while, and then was in negotiations with Paris office at the end of January. (Full confession: I enjoyed saying “I’m in negotiations with Paris” way too much.) This week is devoted to getting to know the project, the team, and talking about guidelines and standards. It’s an exciting project and one I’m very interested in working on. It’s an experiment of sorts for the employer who signed me, because they’ve never had a devoted copyeditor oversee all the written content for a project like this before. The team’s writers are said to be happy, too, because a pair of outside eyes is going to be going through it all for consistency and stylistic tweaks before release. It’s difficult to do that for your own writing, especially when there’s no clear stylesheet and several writers contributing. I like to think that if it goes well and there’s a measurable positive impact, then this may become a repeat gig. (And I’m not just saying that because I get to work with a very good friend. Observing inconsistencies or errors as a consumer drives me nuts; I like to think it’s good business sense to have a copyeditor manage the vast amount of text produced in a project like this.) It’s full time for a month and a half, then a possible week after that, followed by two (possibly three) more weeks at different times between April and June as various parts of the project come due.

On Friday I also accepted my first new project of the year from the publisher, which I can work on in evenings and on weekends if necessary. It’s short and a lot of the work I’d normally do is already done, as tends to be the case when I handle a manuscript for this particular editor. While the exciting new contract is theoretically full time for these six weeks, turning something down from the publisher felt like a dangerous move, especially if I’ll have to do it in a couple of weeks once I’m actually buried in actual deadline work for the new project. Every time a freelancer has to pass on an offered project, it’s a bit less likely that they’ll be assigned something the next time a manuscript comes up for editing. It’s good to stay on top of things and keep one’s availability fresh in the coordinator’s mind.

It’s been a quiet year work-wise so far. It’s nice to sit down and be able to work again. I certainly needed the break, and I am endlessly grateful that I didn’t have work that had to be done last week when I was out with the flu, or the week that Owlet’s daycare was closed in mid-January… but it’s good to get back to my desk. Just cleaning out the mess my work and personal e-mail inboxes had become over the last three weeks felt great today. Now… to work!