What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor, proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Killing Time in the Twenty-First Century

The czarina and I watched Inside Llewyn Davis a few days ago. I think that's the right spelling. Coen Brothers movie about the New York City folk music scene in, well, really you can pin it down to a few days in 1960 or 1961 based on one of the closing shots of the movie.

Even though folk music right at the moment depicted in the film's days was way too earnest for my taste, the movie did take place in the neighborhood that kinda grounded my teenage years. As I remarked when watching the movie, "I was born in the right place, just about twenty years too late."

Anyway, I'm wasting time (see title) waiting for my goddamn phone to charge up so that I can get a VPN code to log into one of my work emails. When I was in Denver last month, I showed my younger issue how, considering different programs and phone codes and all that nonsense, I had to open up nine different computer screens and phone messages just to get started. And that's what I'm doing now. Waiting. For something to charge. That. I.



Wrong century, folks.

And I hate to harp on it, but I'm still not up on the world since November 7. This—in a construction that baffled the Eurotrash we housed for a few months—is not unlike measuring sobriety. I actually clicked on one of my usual news sites today and managed to click away before it loaded. It was like sticking your head in a bar wondering if you could get back out. I am learning firsthand about the phrase "ignorance is bliss." I think there's stuff my wife wants to talk to me about or show me on TV. She said, "You can't keep this up forever." I replied, "I can keep it up as long as I want to."

So, rather than give people hell under an assumed name and enjoying and not enjoying the game, I'm here, typing to no one.

Thoughts of authors are colliding. In the resurrection, does your virtual life go with you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Panikkar's Getting Close

After reading a few million words of Raimon Panikkar's output over the last six years (three more years to go) and after working on maybe close to a thousand books on religion and theology over the last eighteen years (and if I had an intern with hours to kill, I'd have that person catalog my reading over that time), I finally came upon a statement that just about sums it up for me (emphases added):

Though with no attachment to the word “theology,” I would like to use it in the sense of expressing any possible reaction of Man in front of the Ultimate Mystery. . . . But if theology is understood in our above-described sense of any possible reaction of Man in front of the Ultimate, then the name logos stands for a symbol that transcends its commonly accepted concept. 

Weather Report

Turned out to be a record one-day December snowfall. Just sent to a Northeast-based press that had inquired:

Everything's fine here. We received about 10 inches. The only time we lose power is when it's 70 degrees and sunny outside, with a slight breeze blowing. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. Of course, my car and house are encased in and surrounded by snow and ice, but we have nowhere to go. The streets are clear. The dogs are confused.

All the snow and ice around the house will be gone in a few days when the rain comes. And the side of our house where we do 100 percent of our egress and ingress is all northern exposure and the driveways are blocked by the house, so they never see the sun this time of year.

Looks like the package will arrive here on time, if they can ever figure out how to eject it from the Nutmeg State. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Winter in the South

Forecasts are calling for anywhere from 3 to 10 inches over the next few days. I think it'll be on the high end, with my vast meteorological experience, which basically comprises studying the radar and making sure I have enough materials on hand to enjoy it.

Where things get tricky in the South is the lack of preparation. I was in the middle of Snowjam '82 in Atlanta, which was an epic clusterfnck. Plenty of stories. I forget if it was during that or another weather event in Atlanta when I worked the solo 16-hour shift at Dittler Brothers, home of the late, lamented airline timetables; rigged scratch-off games; and one of my two great collections of fellow staffers. (Again, so many stories, especially from when Atlanta was still in its very early crazy-growth stage, on the cusp of the AIDS era, and I could and have and will go on.)

I loved the 16-hour shift, alone. The same South Atlanta crackers who ran the proof room said good-bye to me in daylight at 4pm, then returned at 8am the next day to find me still there. When they asked where everyone else was, I said, "Some couldn't make it. The others called in and asked me if they should come in, and I said, 'Don't bother. There's not much to do, and I'm here already. No reason to risk it.'"

8 hours @ $6.25/hr = $50
8 hours @ $9.375/ hr = $75
1 days' work (1982) = $125

And we were often told, at the last minute, "You're working 12-hour days for the rest of the week, then 12-hour days all weekend." At one point, we'd worked 42 consecutive days, often at 10 and 12 hours a day. We were the only hourly nonunion people in the printing plant. Only one person refused to work any additional hours, and that was the late Bill Leonard, whose passing was covered in this blog. He was a great proofreader and always gave off the air of, "What are you actually going to do about it?" Never received any blowback.

Monthly expenses at the time:

$150 rent
$90 "incidentals"
$60? utilities and insurance
gas and food

As I've said, I never had more money in my life than when I was making $6.25/hour: mostly because of forced perpetual overtime, no time to spend the earnings, and nothing particularly I needed to spend it on.

Oh, and I forgot the entire purpose of the post: I suspect that today's Bristol Christmas Tour of Homes will be canceled due to snow. Around here that's known as the War on Christmas.

Today'z Message from the Tubez

Something very metaphysical going on here.

"Game only saves when you enter a detainment cell."

Friday, December 7, 2018

Another Sign You're Leading a Pathetic Existence

Heaven knows that commerce ain't my bag. I'd just as soon write over everything I make to some central power if I never had to pay for anything or owe anything again. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.

I just finished signing up to pay on one of our credit cards; my dear esposa has been handling it for years, not that I'm Mr. Money Management. But the card does have my name on it . . . and it is my credit score.

So, for the infernal security questions, a ladder of four appears. Suffice it to say that these questions scare the hell out of me, unless they are the most obvious of notions:

  • In what city did you meet your wife?
  • What was your first car?
  • What's your mother's maiden name?

On all of these, I think I'll score 100 percent until I can't answer questions anymore.

For this credit card, each of the four questions offered six choices. Out of twenty-four possibilities, I could maybe answer, much less remember, four authoritatively. I tried to leave the last blank. The rest posed too many questions:
  • What was your first manager's name? (Hmm, what do they mean by "manager"?)
  • What was the street name where your favorite job was? (Did I have one? Which one? And what was the address? How much information do they want? What if I forget to abbreviate?)
  • After your immediate family, who would you call if you won the lottery? (Can I say the IRS?)
  • What was your favorite place to go on vacation as a child? (Geez, that's a fraught question.)

And on and on. If I knew the answers—or even had any—I'd probably remember more of the questions.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Why Everything Has to Change, Part I

You do not want to be around me when I've spent a day negotiating the US health care system and the vagaries of homeowners insurance.

Homeowners Insurance Makes No Sense

We have a quasi-ephemeral waterbound asset that was almost legislated out of existence a few years ago. Getting insurance on such a structure is not easy, and for a reason I may or may not go into here, we find ourselves needing insurance after having it for fourteen years—and unknowingly not having it for the last two. Very few insurers offer such policies, and usually then only in combination with a homeowners policy.

We went to an independent agent who said its company that insures floating cabins would not co-insure a house with an asbestos shingle roof (which has been protecting the house for ninety years). 

Whaddya think is gonna be here ninety years from now? This?

brick georgian 1930 two-story gray trim azaleas in front springtime Bristol VA USA
the old home place

Or this?

Houseboat, lake, South Holston Lake, TVA, Harris pontoon boat, reflection on water, Prius in background
the wyfe pleaser, TVA no. 4-H-174

(Although it's a little more finished now, and about ten years older.)

By the way, feel free to suggest a price on either, much preferably the former. If you live in a city with a six-figure population, you'd be amazed at how little the top joint would cost you. Come live in an area of natural beauty, deep-rooted culture, and some of the roughest-looking civilians you will ever see. And that's the septuaginarians at Kroger at one in the afternoon.

Been quite a day. And four to twelve inches of snow are in the forecast. Flushes 'em all out of the hollows to stock up on body-killing consumables.Image may contain: outdoorImage may contain: outdoorImage may contain: outdoor

How to Deliver a Timeless Rant

Reprinted without permission of HarperCollins, although I don't think Dirty Al would care. Of no particular note, this was written on my parents' second wedding anniversary.


America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twentyseven cents January 17, 1956.   
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.   
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.   
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinister.   
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?   
I’m trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I’m doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven’t read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for murder.
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid I’m not sorry.   
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.   
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.   
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right.
I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over from Russia.
I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Time Magazine?   
I’m obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.   
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie producers are serious. Everybody’s serious but me.   
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.

Asia is rising against me.
I haven’t got a chinaman’s chance.
I’d better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals an unpublishable private literature that jetplanes 1400 miles an hour and twentyfive-thousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underprivileged who live in my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I’m a Catholic.

America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his automobiles more so they’re all different sexes.
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party was in 1835 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother Bloor the Silk-strikers’ Ewig-Weibliche made me cry I once saw the Yiddish orator Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have been a spy.
America you don’t really want to go to war.
America its them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.   
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power mad. She wants to take our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader’s Digest. Her wants our auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him make Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers. Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.   
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.   
America is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.
Berkeley, January 17, 1956

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Six Steps to Enjoying Your Editorial Work Environment

1. For a variety of reasons, have the thermostat set at 57 degrees through about four or five winters in one's home.

2. Develop Reynaud's Syndrome, so that the longer digits on one's right hand turn a deathly, pasty, waxy white while sitting in one's office, which is surrounded on three sides by brick and drafty ninety-year-old windows, with no insulation above and garage below.

3. Go into hock to get the damn heat pump replaced.

4. Turn thermostat to 68 degrees.

5. Puzzle through about half an hour of not knowing how to respond to the climate change without weeping.

6. Get over it, and get back to the production line. Too bad the line is suffering temporary difficulties because the current project is a complete nightmare.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

State of the Mascot

If you think taking a decent selfie with a basset hound might be hard, try walking one.

Make Your Donation to Wikimedia

I just did. Any editorial professional who doesn't give at least something to these folks should be ashamed. You know you use it.

As Damon Runyon might have written, "Do not be a welch."

And a Happy Hanukkah to All

Shiksa goddess and I just lit the first night of Hanukkah candles. Each year when I put out our Hanukkah flag, I am reminded of the time that our flag was set on fire. This was not a random occurrence; the perps were former classmates of my older son. Nor was it isolated: a few years later, another of his former classmates left a flare on top of one of our cars. Even though I got the license plate as it drove off, the police said that the plate itself was not an indicator of who left the flare. When I asked if the owners had reported the car stolen, no answer was forthcoming.

We'd taken these boys on vacation, etc. Hate conquers all.

And from the "Oh, that's no big deal; boys will be boys" department, in eighth grade, when the class was asked in art class to do something in the style of a well-known artist, the latter perp did a Warhol Campbell's Soup can, with the final s in Campbell's and the first s in Soup in the style of the Schutzstaffel. Nothing to see here; move along. When I saw the reports from Charlottesville in 2017, I could clearly imagine that kid's face among the tiki lights.

Such it is that, after 58 years and in this time in our nation's history, I'm fairly damn proud of Jews making it this long—and to be one of them.

I remember the words of my dear great-aunt Etta Kaganov: "Bobby, it doesn't matter what you say you are. When the Nazis come back, they're gonna get you too."

Not if, but when

Aunt Ettie was one of a kind—and probably no small influence on where I've ended up in my life. Aunt Ettie was a New York City schoolteacher for 50 years or so. When I was four years old, she used to take me to her principal and others in the school system who didn't believe I could read the New York Times at that age. Now I'm scared to look at it.

Still haven't seen the news. That's since November 7. Shiksa goddess and I were going out to eat yesterday, and I noticed the flags were at half-staff. She told me that H.W. had died, figuring I'd at least want to be informed of that and that it wouldn't harm me too badly. I had some problems with H.W. (I don't think any former CIA chief should be president), but in retrospect, he may have been the last of the liberal Republicans—at least in the 1980 primaries. What I'd give for a few of those right now.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Editorial Headhunting: How Not to Do It . . . and a Statement on Our Times

Years ago, I landed on an editorial headhunters' list. I have no idea how. A few times a year, I receive an email wondering if I know anyone who would qualify for a particular position. 
  1. That person is never me.
  2. The jobs are always on-site, none of them within 300 miles of the Land on Demand Intergalactic HQ.
Today I received the following email. The rampant editorial errors usually don't appear in these emails, as another person at this firm usually sends them to me.

But ponder this: 80K, with no health insurance.


I hope all is well with you and best wishes for the holiday season.

I wanted to check with you regarding a position I'm recruiting for at the B2B training company Acme Education.  Acme Education provides how-to training to thousands of healthcare and scientific professionals nationwide.  The company needs a provien editorial leader to manage an existing group of editors and devleop and maximize the value and usability of Acme Education content.

The mission of the Managing Editor will be to assist AE's profiessional audence to be more successful and profitable by breaking down complex and confusing government, legal and regulatory requirements.  Then, with the hlp of industry experts, present the information in an easy-to-use, understandable format.

The ideal candidate has experience not just writing content, but producing how-to, usable information.  You'll be expected to stay at the forefront of government reguilatory changes,  manage a productive editorial team, and have the ability to identify and develop new products.

The compensation for this position is up to $80K salary contingent on past history.  No 401(K)).  No health benefits.

The full job description can be found on our site.

If you know anyone who would be a good candidate please let me know or have him or her contact me.

Thanks very much--I'm grateful for your help.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

How to Explain Capitalization Choices to Your Family

The notion expressed in the title might seem silly, except for the fact that my son and daughter-in-law are high school English teachers. Well, and consider the fact that my sons, certainly the one who has become a teacher, never came to me for a writing or editing question. My god, the only thing in life I can actually help them with . . .

The only pieces of writing I've seen of my younger son's were a paper or two my wife liberated from his apartment one time while staying there when he and our future D-I-L were out of town. The reports that always came from his teachers were that they wished he wrote more. He presented his ideas with such economy of language that, while answering the questions, his assignments rarely approached the word limit. Could be worse problems.

So, while walking down the streets of Denver, my daughter-in-law mentioned that she and a student were having trouble deciding on capitalization of a certain term or category of terms. I tried to explain not only the proper approach (AP and Chicago agree) but that they really didn't have to puzzle this crap out for themselves. While Grammar Girl is pretty neat, so's your old man, so to speak.

As are these resources. The list is cribbed from the AP Stylebook. Thanks in advance to AP, which has not granted permission to reprint, but which has also of late realized the value of the serial comma. Mirabile dictu.


AP Stylebook editors refer to the following resources to help guide style decisions. If you do not find your answer in the Stylebook, try checking one of these other sources. You can buy them for yourself using the links below.

First reference for spelling, style, usage and foreign geographic names:
Other references for spelling, style, usage and foreign geographic names:
For aircraft names:
For military ships:
For nonmilitary ships:
For railroads:
For federal government questions:
For non-U.S. government questions:
For religion questions:
Other references and writing guides consulted in the preparation of the AP Stylebook:

Blast from the Past

That headline is clever for reasons that I probably shouldn't detail here.

I am surprised to find in an online rendering—a free download, natch—of Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book that the name of an alias to which I have attached my own self for 40 years now does not appear. I am wondering from whence it came. Must be another work.

Production Editors and Expectations of Copyeditors

Correspondence sent recently to a managing editor

I'm not holding this against you, although you can hold against me the lateness of the project, because it's ultimately my fault. But please, never again tell me a project is in good shape unless you know it firsthand from reading it cover to cover—and if that is never destined to happen, that's perfectly fine by me. I'd just as soon go into a project blind as with wrong expectations, because it then messes up my schedule and the publisher's schedule when the assessment of the manuscript is incorrect. I've got literally seven different projects in various stages of completion, partially because this thing wasn't off my desk much sooner. Again, my fault entirely. I start feeling weird if I have two projects going simultaneously. And this one seems to get worse as it gets further; maybe it's just me.

Don't, however, cut this guy any slack. First-time published authors who aren't great writers and who construct a manuscript full of citations as if they're not familiar with the form shouldn't get to dictate how their manuscript appears with a publishing house of your stature. I don't care who this guy is. He should be happy y'all care enough to make him look better.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sample Queries for Offensive Content

From a social club's history, the first blurb is the massaged version of the original text; the italics are my response.

Freelancer's hint: Send correspondence like this in a separate email, so the recipient doesn't, hopefully, foul up and forward it to the client.

> “had worked as a volunteer tutor for the primarily Appalachian students at the community after-school center.”

I have severe problems with their use of “Appalachian” as a euphemism here, and for what, I’m not quite sure. The Appalachian Mountains stretch from Maine to Georgia and include a lot of highly gifted students, and a lot who live in poverty. If what they mean by “Appalachian” is poor white trash from Eastern Kentucky, they need to find another way to say it than they have.

> “To form a collective to promote educational, social, artistic, and literary growth, and work to meet to the city's best interests . . . ” Updated in 2018 to reflect more contemporary language, the current mission statement describes the group as “organized to enrich lives through philanthropy and education.”

I call complete bullshit: Should read, “Updated in 2018 to placate the conservative Christian Trumpsters among them so that they can disavow any need to live up to helping society or the arts one bit, except when it suits their purposes.”

> “They have seen a Torah up close and toured a museum with Jewish cultural artifacts.”

Well, bully for them. Do they just want to come right out and say they do not now, nor will they ever have Jewish members? Oh, [city named here] . . . full of German descendants . . . right. If they have a Jewish member, they’d do well to change this bit of content. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

How to Market Your Editing Services at an Annual Convention

You can make it real easy by already having the following:
  • 35 years of experience
  • no need for additional but only replacement work
  • an exhibit hall full of present clients who can and will happily leave their perch and vouch for one's services 
Thankfully, I've accumulated the items on that list. Reports from AAR/SBL 2018 to follow (or will appear above, eventually).

One thing that occurred to me just now: That dopey English professor at UMass-Lowell who refused to pay me for an index a few years back and that dopey southern university press (link most intentional*) that agreed he was an @hole of an author but refused to stand behind me wash far in the background when I'm meeting face-to-face with world-class theologians and publishers who are genuinely happy to speak with me and who value my work -- and who lament my (mostly) getting out of indexing.

So many nice people. And coming from where I live, being in a gathering of thousands of scholars, none of whom appear to be morbidly obese or emaciated and meth-driven, was joyous. From the time I left Tri-Cities, TN, airport on Friday morning -- traveling through the ATL airport, 2.5 days in downtown Denver, coming back -- I did not see a single morbidly obese person until returning to the gate for the return flight to Tri-Cities. A woman in her mid- to late 20s, and a two-seater.

* LSU Press notwithstanding. Tennessee also.

News Report

I remain news-free. Twelve days. A lot of people still are moving and smiling, and not just the crazy ones. And I feel a lot better.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Sample Response to Author for Indexing Query

Just sent this letter to an author looking for an indexer. I'd asked for a few sample manuscript chapters since the pages weren't ready yet. I'm also printing it here so that I can use it as boilerplate, not that I'll remember it. I'm so geeked up about going to Denver tomorrow, I'm still working on what should have been finished seven hours ago. Gonna be the usual long night before travel. "Live and don't learn, that's us" (Watterson). I wonder if AAR has ever done a Calvin and Hobbes session. The question should be, "How many?"

Thanks very much, J——. Even though I'm a known quantity to —— Press, I understand their and your stance perfectly.

As far as the prospectus, my first reaction as an indexer is, If I had this before starting any book, my life would be immeasurably easier. I'm just sitting here shaking my head at the thought. I might ask authors or presses for it in the future, and if that's the case, I've gotten my money's worth out of this correspondence already. 

All that notwithstanding, your material has made it with room to spare under my psychic limbo bar. If the job were to come my way and came with the usual 6x9" or 6x9.25" trim size, the rate would be $5 per indexable page, which is generally from the first page of the introduction through the end of the last chapter, inclusive. Add on to that pages for any indexable front matter (maybe a preface, not foreword or acknowledgments) and back matter (notes, not bibliography or appendices [except in the most general of fashion]). For a book around 90K words, maybe 230 pages or so? Of that, usually about 210-15 would be indexable.

So if it's the usual academic trim size, entirely depending on the final page count of indexable material, probably in the $1075 range, give or take. If you're associated with an institution that might be paying for the work, I'd ask to start any necessary payment paperwork (registering as a vendor, submitting a W9) at the beginning of the job. I've found that being a first-time payee can take an inordinately long time, and I like to grease the skids. If paying on your own, I accept checks or—for the more adventuresome or 21st-century, which isn't me—PayPal.

Let me know whatever you decide. I'd like to work with you and will add you to my schedule if that's your call.


And if you're wondering about that rather formal head, I'm putting some knowledge to work

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Bob Land Better Stay Offa My Lawn

Pastors get no slack.

Bob Land Gets It Wrong

The Exigencies of Morality

We have a friend staying with us for a few days. She needed a new cord for her iPhone charger. I was going up to Le Petit Office Depot (it's Bristol, baby) to drop off something for FedEx Ground, and she came into the store to look for cords. Of course, they were about twice as expensive as she was expecting . . . and Sam Walton's baby was right across the street.

So, naturally, we drive over to Walmart. Our friend has never entered a Walmart. So our friend maintains her illusion of cleanliness and I go in and buy the cord for her. Good thing I went in, though, because in my essential 1974 way, I needed a longer handset cord for my landline phone anyway—because without extenders, rerouters, and physical contortion, my 2017 cell phone barely gets service thirty feet from the wireless router in my home because of brick walls built almost ninety years ago.

Never See This Cited Too Much Either

Now, I wonder what would happen if an LGBTQIA individual went up to, say, the folks at Oakland Avenue Baptist Church of Johnson City, TN, who want to "Make Sunday School Great Again," and brandished this verse:

King James Bible, Matthew 19:12
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Not Often Heard from the Pulpit

Deuteronomy 25:11–12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

If men get into a fight with one another, and the wife of one intervenes to rescue her husband from the grip of his opponent by reaching out and seizing his genitals, you shall cut off her hand; show no pity.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Changing the Joint Up

I could just turn space into the equivalent of a Twitter feed, with a 280-thought limit. That gets the diversion monkey off my back and feeds the content monkey at the same time. Hell, if I tripled my readership, I could hit double digits.


In advance of said convention, though, I did an incognito search for Bob Land edits (with no quotes). I was pleased with the result, especially with what I am learning about SEO from what in some ways is my best "client."

I was hesitant to put this blog URL on a business card, mostly because every other time I have purchased the usual allotment of 500 cards, something happens to cause them to go out of date after I've distributed about 40 of them—and I never know when the blog might go dormant for another nine months or I just want to pull the plug on the whole thing.

This time, I kept the business card to the essentials, and I left off indexing: name, d/b/a (unofficial), services, email, phone number. And, lordy, the folks running the Minuteman Press on the Tennessee side are a window into the local culture. Cash and checks only. Woman who runs the place gives you a look that pierces right through your eyes to the back of your head, while chortling in a manner than only four-pack-a-day smokers can do. Her husband, I presume, has big ol' muttonchops and some other beardy thing going on. And a grandkid or two and a beagle. I walked in there about 4.10p on Monday, and I think I caught them as they were getting ready to leave, well in advance of closing time at 5p.

Editing Tips

This blog provides editing tips in a more, eh, anecdotal manner. Over the years, though, I've printed more than enough pieces of sample correspondence to use if you want to establish with people you barely know that you're a seething malcontent.

Proofreading Tips

(1) Pick up a copy of Highlights for Children. Go to the page to find differences between the two images. Find them all. (2) When venturing to impress an object of sexual desire, pointing out errors on menus only goes so far.

Indexing Tips

Run. Now.

The Kind of Stuff That Blows the Top of One's Head Off

"As Paul suggests, the manner in which everyone will be resurrected is patterned after the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus is recognized by his wounds, then should we not imagine that the resurrection of everyone else will similarly preserve premortem marks, and by extension, all kinds of infirmities?"


Today I Give Thanks

For a client that admittedly has given me some fits in the past. It's a university with a crucial piece of punctuation named after it.

How nice of them to think that I could copyedit a book of Sanskrit linguistics. And how nice of them, after I saw their feedback on my sample chapter, to thank me for telling them that this one was way out of my wheelhouse, and please find someone else to do it.

Fifty-eight years old and admitting limitations. Damn, what a concept.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

This Just In

Study Finds Only 20 Percent of Seminary Graduates Go on to Become God


Going to Denver, AAR-SBL 2018, this weekend. 

I was in contact with the folks at one of my publishers today about the confab, one of whom has started his own press that I’m also working for, and he offered to give me a badge for the conference. Just call him when I got there. 

So, no housing costs (staying with son and daughter-in-law, one mile from convention), no registration, and my wife remembered we had points on some card that got me enough airfare to fly out there. She says I was meant to go. I wonder if she’ll keep that thought in mind if I get run over by a bus.

If you had told me thirty years ago, or especially thirty-five years ago, that one day I would be traveling halfway across the country for a forty-eight-hour period to attend the annual conference of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature, and that I was really looking forward to it, I would have laughed in your face.

Then again, although there were extenuating circumstances, my first presidential vote was cast for the ticket of Ron Paul and one of the Koch brothers. 

And the irony of both are not unconnected. 

Seven days, no news. I really just can’t recommend this enough. I’m going to have a hard time in the Atlanta airport, trying to avoid televisions. Might be time for the earplugs and finding the nearest airport chapel.

I think it was in Atlanta one time when I was traveling through that I stopped off in the chapel for some peace and quiet. Muslim guy comes in, puts his rug down, does his thing, and gets up to go. I said, “Please don’t take offense, but how do you know which way is east?” He said, “I saw some other guy do it this way.” Speaking of thirty-five years ago, that’s a question I never would have asked in my youth, before meeting the perpetually curious and sociable woman who became my wife.

Next airport chapel I went into, I noticed that they had the direction marked on the wall.

Monday, November 12, 2018

No News Is Good News

I couldn't tell you one single local, national, or international event that has taken place in the last six days. I feel pretty good about it.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

New Form of Elective Surgery?

"Mom? Dad? I've got something to tell you that will probably upset your whole lives."

"Yes, Son?"

"Well, I'm not who I am supposed to be. I think I was born with the wrong-size head."

“Are There Any Gender Differences in the Hippocampus Volume After Head-Size Correction? A Volumetric and Voxel-Based Morphometric Study,” Neuroscience Letters 570 (2014): 119–23. 

As William S. Burroughs Once Wrote

"Just the thing for your friends at parties":

"Tributyltin (TBT) is the biocide chemical that disrupts the HPA axis and thyroid function, as well as regulation of fat. Somehow it’s in our tap water and seafood and is used as a preservative and disinfectant in breweries, paper and pulp mills, and leather processing facilities. Even very tiny amounts (1 ng/L in water) makes a female snail grow a penis."

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Authors and Designers: Just Stick with What Works

Letter to a managing editor, in response to an author who wants special symbols by those Bible translations that are his own. The author had suggested an "a" or an asterisk.

"Everyone's got a new wrinkle.

"An 'a' would be confusing: could be a part of a verse. I wouldn't use an asterisk, because people will be looking for what it refers to, like a note. I'd suggest a dagger, but don't you wacky Romanists use that sometimes to indicate a person is dead? 

"A symbol is fine; the more distinct the better, and preferably something people wouldn't associate with a note marker. God forbid it should just say 'author's trans.' like every other fncking book. How about a pentagram, or an uroboros?"

Another book I am working on has one of the goofiest fonts I've ever seen for the sans serif text: when a lower-case f precedes and i, l, or another f, it has a long descender. Why? Because people just can't leave sh!t alone. Everyone's gotta make their mark.

Very prominent theologian or biblical scholar or philosopher—maybe she's all three—has a very particular way she wants her indexes done. Unfortunately no one let me know this while I was dragged through the mill of four rounds of changes, with her probably thinking she was dealing with a drop-dead idiot the entire time. The next year, she has another book with the same press, and it comes to me for indexing. I asked the managing editor, "Are you sure? Does she know it's going to the same indexer?" Yes, yes.

When I knew what she wanted ahead of time, got an immediate approval. Art imitates life. Indexing still sucks.

On the matter of authors, another managing editor mentioned that a book that was coming to me for indexing (I've promised this one press they have me for indexing for five more seasons) came from the desk of her worst proofreader. I have these bighearted managing editors who want to keep sending people money for doing crappy work. They could pay me the same and, well, never mind. So, her worst proofreader turns out to be . . . an author who likes to proofread and index. 

Well, hell. That's your problem right there. Authors generally don't understand either one.

Without going into too much detail, as it's a sad story -- but it's also 4am and I'm between projects and in a holding mode and not at all tired -- we came to know a teenager a few years ago, and I asked him early on, "What kind of work would you like to do as an adult?" He said, "Psychologist." I just shook my head. Never knew a psychologist who wasn't crazy. Ever been to an optometrist who had 20/20 vision?

Two-three years later, poor kid is dead. Born into truly unimaginable (for me) wealth and privilege, off-the-charts intelligent, and never given a chance to develop a single tool to deal. Sooner or later, that's gonna catch up with you.

Is there any point here? Eh, not really. Let me know if you figure one out. 

"Between the idea and the reality / falls the shadow"? That always works.