February 26, 2014

Regulations Establishing Conditions for Making Regulations

After trying to read a document on making regulations under Canada's new Fisheries Act, I have come to the following conclusion:

We need Plain English Regulations to Establish Standards to Regulate Regulations Establishing Conditions for Making Regulations.

And yes, the title of this post is the title of the document that I was attempting to read.

Posted by Paul at 10:17 PM

March 22, 2013

Wow, I Read a Book on my Kobo Glo!

I am far from being a Luddite, I love my computers (yes, I have several), but though I've had an ancient  monochrome Kindle for years, and picked up a Kobo Glo recently, I've never read much on eBook readers. I have lots of paper books that I haven't gotten around to reading. . .

But I am learning how to create ePubs as part of my editing and communication business, so I figure I'd better start reading more of  them.

Today I read Head First WordPress on my Kobo, and aside from some formatting glitches and typos (hm, a bit disappointing for an O'Reilly book), it went well. But I certainly see why you have to be careful about formatting eBooks, as the ePub version of the book did have some problems, at least as displayed on a Kobo.

I attended an excellent all-day workshop on creating electronic books presented by eBound Canada a few weeks ago, and one of the things hammered into our heads was that you must test your ePubs on as many different readers as possible, because they will not render the same. That's why I got the Kobo to complement my Kindle. And as soon as the budget allows, it'll also be a great reason to get an iPad  : -).

Posted by Paul at 09:40 PM

February 26, 2013

Bought Kobo Glo eReader Following eBook Production Workshop

I attended an excellent all-day workshop on creating electronic books presented by eBound Canada last week. By the time I walked out my brain hurt from assimilating so much information so quickly : -).

Check out their website, they have great tutorials on all sorts of issues related to producing problem-free publications.

Anyway, one of the key points I learned is the importance of quality assurance, and testing publications on as many platforms as possible.

That led to buying a Kobo Glo, from a line of readers that is popular in Canada. I think I will like the Glo - the touchscreen is nice compared to my relatively ancient Kindle model which is hard buttons only, and the Glo is superb for reading at night or in dim conditions. Am busily downloading a ton of free, copyright-expired works to the Glo as I write this.


The old Kindle on the left and the Glo with its light on to the right
with both set to their library pages.

Posted by Paul at 07:26 PM

February 19, 2013

Waterborne Paint

I learned something new today. There is such a thing as "waterborne" paint. If you Google it, you get nearly 1.3 million results. It appears the usage is well established, yet I had images of paint being borne by water down a street drain and into our local creek. . .

Waterborne paint is actually much more environmentally friendly than solventborne paint (solventborne - another word new to me).

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary has this to say about waterborne: "1 (of goods etc.) conveyed by or travelling on water. 2 (of a disease) communicated or propagated by contaminated water."

Neither of those fits my image of what I thought was "water-based" paint.

Whoops! I was just interrupted by one of those canned phone calls: "Congratulations! You've been selected for a free cruise to the Bahamas!"

I hung up before I became waterborne.

Posted by Paul at 02:22 PM

February 07, 2013

‘Editors’ Association of Earth’ FB Page Passes 1,000 Members in 71 Minutes


An amazing experiment in social media. Editors' Association of Canada President Greg Ioannou started a Facebook page called the 'Editors Association of Earth' and with folks inviting folks it passed 1,000 members in 71 minutes.

Check it out here.

Posted by Paul at 09:56 AM

January 12, 2013

Adderson Delivers Excellent Fiction-Editing Workshop for EAC-BC

I attended a workshop today on editing fiction sponsored by the BC Branch of the Editors' Association of Canada featuring Caroline Adderson.

An accomplished writer, Adderson provided lots of good information on opening pages, cutting, scenes, cutting, characterization, cutting, dialogue, cutting, plot, endings, and yes, you got it, cutting . . . : -).

Seems like my journalism training and work in which a key editing catchphrase is "if in doubt, delete" also applies to fiction.

Adderson was great fun, making for enjoyable learning.

I edit a lot of fiction in translation for Language Lanterns Publications, but that has constraints of remaining true to the original that an editor doesn't face when editing something fresh from a writer. Apparently the February meeting of EAC-BC will feature a speaker on editing translations, so I'm looking forward to it!

Posted by Paul at 07:55 PM

December 28, 2012

New Streamside Communication Business Cards

I picked up my new business cards today. Thanks Al for getting this done as the year winds down!



So another piece falls into place. Now I have to get cracking on the website, as I'd like to have it done by mid-January.

Posted by Paul at 02:24 PM

November 20, 2012

I’ll Present at Language Lanterns Book Launch in Vancouver on Nov. 29

The Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada Vancouver Branch will host a book launch of several Language Lanterns translations of Ukrainian literature into English on Nov. 29, at 7pm, in the mezzanine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral , 154 E. 10th Ave., Vancouver. Free admission and refreshments will be served.

Thanks to UWAC Vancouver Chair Lydia Huzyk for taking the lead!

I will talk about several volumes, and do some readings from them. The books will include Prometheus and Maria.


Posted by Paul at 12:57 PM

November 15, 2012

Proof for Latest Language Lanterns Ukrainian > English Literature Translation Arrives

I received the cover and text proofs for our latest Language Lanterns translation of Ukrainian literature into English. Exciting! But it's also a bit nerve-wracking to see what you may have missed in previous editing stages.

This latest volume is called Fantastic Encounters and contains two stories by Oles Berdnyk: "The Eye Flower" and "The Illusionist", translated by Roma Franko and edited by moi.

Assuming I can get this proofread in the next few days, we should have the printed copies back well in time for Christmas.


Here's the description from the back cover:

"Bread is for the stomach, a tale is for the heart," says one of Oles Berdnyk's characters in these two enchanting stories, The Eye Flower and The Illusionist. Berdnyk addresses these works to "seekers of fantastic tales" who have "an openness to adventure." A charming mix of fantasy, science fiction, and bits of Ukrainian folklore, these stories can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Berdnyk says "we all live among miracles and wonders, we are all children of a fantastic tale and of the unprecedented, only we often forget about it. We awaken only sporadically." The common theme that runs throughout both works is that "there's no power greater than a flaming, loving heart--especially one that finds joy in a fantastic tale." Berdnyk encourages us to be open to the childlike wonder within us. "Seek and you will find. Look and you will see."

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

October 10, 2012

I’ll Present at Language Lanterns Book Launch in Vancouver on Nov. 30

NOTE: The following event has been moved to Nov. 29. Time and place remain the same. Thanks!

The Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada Vancouver Branch will host a book launch of several Language Lanterns translations on Nov. 30, at 7pm, in the mezzanine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral , 154 E. 10th Ave., Vancouver. Free admission and refreshments will be served. Thanks to UWAC Vancouver Chair Lydia Huzyk for taking the lead!

I will talk about several volumes, and do some readings from them. The books will include Prometheus and Maria.

Posted by Paul at 03:24 PM

August 21, 2012

Feeling the Words Flow

I love it when a couple of days of reading and pondering result in words flowing miraculously from my fingers. This came to me in a rush within half an hour early this morning, and I don't think we will change much when the book is published. I should note that this had been churning in my mind for a week or more, and it was a nearly physical relief to see, and feel, the words tripping off my fingertips, through the keyboard, onto the screen.

This is a draft that I "knocked off" in a few minutes before, gasp, coffee this morning. It's a back-cover blurb for the latest translation we're working on at Language Lanterns Publications Inc.

"Bread is for the stomach, a tale is for the heart," says one of Oles Berdnyk's characters in these two enchanting stories, The Eye Flower and The Illusionist. Berdnyk addresses these works to "seekers of fantastic tales" who have "an openness to adventure." A charming mix of fantasy, science fiction, and bits of Ukrainian folklore, these stories can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Berdnyk says "we all live among miracles and wonders, we are all children of a fantastic tale and of the unprecedented, only we often forget about it. We awaken only sporadically." The common theme that runs throughout both works is that "there's no power greater than a flaming, loving heart--especially one that finds joy in a fantastic tale." Berdnyk encourages us to be open to the childlike wonder within us. "Seek and you will find. Look and you will see."

Posted by Paul at 09:51 PM

August 20, 2012

Designers: Please Ensure Paper and Web Forms Match

Dear website form designers. When your company sends a notice to update credit-card details, please ensure that the order of the customer number and the subscription number on the paper snailmail notice are in the same order as the fields to be entered on your web form. Please don't reverse them, as this will annoy thousands of customers who will each take awhile to catch on as to why your online form keeps returning errors. Thank you.



In this case, not only is the order different, even the labels differ.

Posted by Paul at 03:15 PM

July 20, 2012

Am I in Communication or Communications?

I've been looking at rebranding myself recently. My wife and I ran a successful Japanese > English translation business for nearly a decade, but she's been working full time for a couple of years now, and I'd like to expand beyond my bread and butter of editing. I made the investment to get a master's degree in communication a few years ago, but have never capitalized on it.

Over the last few weeks I've been looking for available domain names (an increasingly difficult task as the years have gone by and squatters have bought up entire dictionaries of potential names), and have been running a few of the available ones past the name-approval process at the corporate name registry at BC Registry Services.

I finally found a combo I liked, and registered it:

Streamside Communication Co.

I will set up Streamside Communication Co. as a "DBA" (Doing Business As) under my present corporation, Cipko Consulting Ltd.

But then the doubts set in - should it be Streamside Communication, or, Streamside Communications?

My degree is in communication, sans "s". I have a Master of Arts in Professional Communication from Royal Roads University. I studied in the department of Communication & Culture.

Yet when I see many of my cohort on LinkedIn, and what they're up to these days, they are almost invariably in corporate or government communications, with that darn "s" at the end. Some Googling around shows this is a long-running debate, but I don't understand why, when every dictionary that I own makes a clear distinction: communication (sans "s") is the act of communicating, exchanging information, etc. Communications (with "s") is related to the technology used to relay information, such as telephones, satellites, etc.

My bookshelf bears me out. I have titles such as: International and Development Communication, The Bias of Communication, Organizational Communication in an Age of Globalization and so on.

So I shall boldly sail forth under Streamside Communication. (Though I have also bought the domain streamsidecommunications. . . just in case. . . : - )

Oh, yes, why "Streamside"?

Because I'm a volunteer streamkeeper, and streamkeeping has been my entry to, and my connection with, my broader community. Because I live beside a lovely urban stream, Byrne Creek. Because I like the sound, and the images it can evoke of flow, of rhythm, of rise and fall, of clarity, of clearing muddied waters. . . Lots there to play with for potential branding and marketing.

Posted by Paul at 11:26 AM

July 10, 2012

FB Update About Consolidating Late Mom’s Files Draws Flurry of ‘Likes’

Dunno how this hit a chord today on Facebook, but it did:

Consolidated 6 bankers boxes of my late Mom's files into 1 box over the last two days. She kept meticulous records! Tidbit for the day: in one of her first jobs as a substitute teacher for the Saskatoon Public School Board in the early 1960s she was paid $15 a day. Her first full-time instructor contract at the University of Saskatchewan was some $6,000/year... but over a 35-year U of S career she reached the position of assistant dean of the College of Education.

Posted by Paul at 09:11 PM

July 06, 2012

My Blog Among Royal Roads University Alumni ‘Featured Blogs’

Thanks RRU!

Check it out here.

Posted by Paul at 09:04 PM

June 21, 2012

Saying Goodbye to the Paper Papers

Today I (sob!) cancelled my paper delivery subscriptions to the Vancouver Sun and National Post, and signed up for the digital versions. This will be the first time that I have never subscribed to a paper newspaper.

But the cost advantages are compelling. The Sun and the Post together were costing about $46/month, while I can access both online for $9.99/month. That's a savings of $432/year.

Not to mention all the carbon emissions avoided, and resources used such as paper (recycled or not) and ink. I work from home and run my main computer pretty much 24/7 anyway (with all power-saving options turned on for when I'm not at my desk), and have a lovely dual-monitor setup on which to view large docs, so why run those printing presses, delivery trucks, and delivery person vehicles?

Supposedly I get "everything" that appears in the paper papers, even an identical layout view if I so desire, not to mention other cool stuff like search and text-to-voice, etc.

It will be an interesting experiment, and will certainly be a lifestyle change. I read the paper papers in the living room, next to a big balcony, with lots of natural light. The office is in the basement, and while I have a decent window down there, it doesn't compare to the airiness of the main floor. I think I'll be in withdrawal for awhile, but I'm pretty confident that it will work out. I have already shifted many of my magazine subscriptions to the online Zinio service, and that's worked out well.

Posted by Paul at 01:54 PM

June 16, 2012

Cool ‘Lean Publishing’ Presentation at Northern Voice 2012

I attended the always stimulating Northern Voice social media/blogging conference in Vancouver over the last two days. One of the sessions was on "lean publishing."

The website is leanpub.com, and is a means to quickly and easily publish online in pdf, epub and mobi formats, while retaining ownership and earning royalties of around 90%.

The speaker, Peter Armstrong, "wrote" a "book" (basically a title and a few sentences), uploaded it, had it converted, published and ready to download with suggested pricing, all during his 45-minute presentation in live time.

Books are available for sale (or for free) in common ereader formats from the LeanPub website, and as I understood it, authors are also free to post their output mobi files to Amazon, ePub files to iBooks, pdf files to their own website, etc.

The other interesting part of the presentation is that he encouraged a "Publish Early, Publish Often" approach, in which writers share material in progress, and modify/tailor it according to reader feedback. I can see this working well with tech books and manuals, of which there appears to be a preponderance on the website, but Armstrong said the iterative process is also taking off with fiction. In fact, he said, in a sense this is nothing new, pointing to a long history of serialized works by famous authors from Dickens to Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Oh, yes, authors are also able to set a minimum price and a suggested price for each work, and buyers can choose to pay more than the minimum, with easy-to-use sliders that change the pricing and show how much the author gets... And apparently this has led to a phenomenon in which a significant portion of sales have gone at $11.67/book. Why? Because at that price, the author receives $10.00, and with this transparency, apparently quite a few buyers feel that's a fair price, even if the minimum was lower...

I have no experience with LeanPub aside from this presentation, and do not endorse it in any way, just thought it looked cool, and I will certainly be researching it further for potential use in my own editing and writing business.

Posted by Paul at 07:38 PM

April 16, 2012

My Introduction to ‘Maria’ by Ulas Samchuk

Maria by Ulas Samchuk is now available in English-language translation by Language Lanterns Publications. Maria is a gripping story about a Ukrainian woman's loves, losses, and daily toil, from the emancipation of serfs in 1861 to one of the most tragic periods in human history--the 1932-33 Holodomor, or Famine-Genocide.

Following is the introduction I wrote to the book:

"To see a world in a grain of sand."

These words by English poet William Blake remind us that minute, apparently inconsequential events in a life can represent universal truths. Ulas Samchuk's character Maria is such a grain of sand--or in the context of the novel, such a kernel of grain.

The life of this uneducated woman spans upheavals in Ukrainian history from approximately the 1861 emancipation of serfs in the Russian Empire under the Tsars, to the nearly unimaginable horror of the communist-induced mass starvation in Soviet Ukraine in the early 1930s that killed millions, and is internationally recognized as an act of genocide.

Samchuk dedicates his novel "to the mothers who died of hunger in Ukraine in 1932-33," yet the story is much more than that, taking the reader through three stages: A Book about the Birth of Maria, A Book of Maria's Days, and A Book about Bread. Each is important in its own way, as Maria grows, matures, and reacts to the changes going on around her.

She may be just a bit of flotsam carried by a tsunami of social and political change, but her loves, trials and toil through three score and ten (the author tells us that she lived for 26,258 days, or nearly 72 years) enable us to picture a harsh existence that prompted hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian peasants to abandon their beloved villages and emigrate in search of land, freedom, education, and opportunity.

There is obvious symbolism in how Samchuk names his lead female character: Maria is a reflection of Mother Mary, and Maria's daughter is named Nadiya, or "hope." Yet Maria is no Virgin Mary and Samchuk honours his character by portraying her as a real woman, with the flaws that all humans have.

Land is a theme that runs throughout the novel, as is the grain, or bread, that it produces. Land literally was life for small-scale farmers. Life revolved around, and depended on, the cycle of planting and harvesting grain, vegetables and fruit. An ethos of hard work, of providing for one's family, grew from this bond to the land. Without hard work, without sweat, a family would not eat. And with backbreaking labour came the satisfaction and joy of putting food on the table, of perhaps getting ahead a bit by growing enough so that a small surplus could be sold to buy a cow, or a pig.

The 1861 emancipation in the part of Ukraine controlled by the Russian Empire was viewed by the peasantry as a chance to finally be rid of forced labour, to expend all one's efforts on farming one's own plot of land. While it soon became evident that the "reforms" still heavily favoured the landed aristocracy, there was more opportunity for diligent former serfs to rise out of poverty, and even prosper.

Maria's husband, Korniy, after years of being drafted into the Russian Imperial Navy, returns home haughtily speaking Russian and shirking his culture and his community, but the land works its magic on him and he undergoes a transformation:

He is discovering an ever greater delight and joy in work. His vagabond-proletarian habits are fading into the past and being forgotten. The earth is drawing him into itself and filling his veins, his mind, and his entire being with solid habits. Korniy is now aware of this. His days as a freewheeling sailor are being forgotten and he is becoming a true human being. He slowly shakes off his vile cursing, begins using his native language, and this change restores him to the bosom of his family.

Samchuk's characters are not simply one-dimensional "peasants." They are human beings who labour and love, suffer and grow, celebrate small victories, and mourn terrible losses. The author shows us how similar experiences can have dramatically different effects on people--some lift themselves from their wanton ways and find reward in work, community, and their church, while others take advantage of turmoil to further themselves at the expense of others.

For those who worked hard, there were rewards, simple as they may have been.

Korniy, Maria and the elderly mother sit down at the table set with various dishes. There is everything here. Take whatever you want, whatever you feel like eating. Everything is good, everything is homemade, earned through the toil of their own hands and their patient endurance. Break off a piece of bread and eat it. Eat the bread, the cabbage, the varenyky. Eat the cabbage rolls and the fried fish. Eat the granular kutya and drink with it fruit juices from your own orchard. Wash it all down with honey gathered from the flowers of your native land.

But in the end, there was never enough land, and consequently Ukrainians began emigrating in significant numbers in the late 19th century to places like Canada, the United States, Australia and South America. That flow continued in spurts through the early 20th century, whenever the opportunity arose between wars, revolutions, and totalitarian regimes, with one final exodus following World War II, before the Iron Curtain fell, cutting off contact between the USSR and the rest of the world. Maria gives the modern reader a sense of how that love of land, combined with a lack of it, led to the conditions in which hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians left their native villages.

Initial reaction to the February and October Revolutions of 1917 that swept away the Tsar was often positive among the peasantry, with promises of more land, more freedom, more education. But with the new regime came the idea of creating a new Soviet man, and that meant destroying religion and age-old traditions, and replacing them with socialist slogans and "five-year plans" in which the central government imposed agricultural and industrial production quotas that had to be filled no matter what the reality of local conditions was.

When such quotas could not be filled, the next "solution" was collectivization, or the forced amalgamation of peasants' farms. Farmers no longer worked for themselves, they worked for the collective. Farmers no longer made decisions on what to sow, and when to sow it. All such decisions came from above, often with disastrous results as inexperienced administrators parroted demands from the central authorities.

There was no choice in collectivization. There was no opt in, or opt out. If a farmer resisted, land, seed, tools, equipment, and animals were all expropriated, and any further stubbornness was met with incarceration in a prison camp, exile to Siberia, or simply a firing squad. And the bolt-hole of emigration was sealed, not to open again until the 1990s, when Ukraine gained its independence.

While there were similarities in the governance of the Tsars and the Bolsheviks, for example both attempted to assimilate cultures and languages through Russification, in the end it was the Soviet regime that perpetrated almost unimaginable mass terror on Ukraine. Under Soviet rule, Ukraine, the "breadbasket of Europe," became a basket case. And when farmers en masse refused to join the shoddily run collectives, Stalin and his henchmen felt no compunction in sealing the borders of Ukraine, expropriating all of its grain, vegetables, fruit and livestock, and letting entire regions starve to death.

As Ukrainians died by the hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions, grain was being exported from Ukrainian ports under communist Red Army guard.

And this, unfortunately, brings the reader to the third "book" of Maria's life.

Where were human hearts? Where was conscience? They take good care of an animal, they care for a plant, they care for an insect, they even take care of the lowliest worm, but they don't take care of a human mother.

The contrasts that Samchuk portrays through this chronicle of Maria's life through her family and her village are stark, but real. Readers feel the grit, the sorrows, the happiness, the disillusionment in the government, and the utter helplessness in the face of totalitarianism.

In a sense the novel is a history lesson, but it is written so compellingly that readers are pulled along by the thread of Maria's story. It truly is the life of a simple woman who lived through one of the most tragic periods in human history.

Paul Cipywnyk

Posted by Paul at 04:44 PM

January 04, 2012

Ah, Now This is Journalism, Eh?



When I first saw this, I thought the Vancouver Sun had tied up with some "online chat" company, if you know what I mean, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more . . .

Yeah, I saw headlines today that Pete had tied the knot, but I could care less, and didn't click through to find the name of his bride.

So is this a "bait-and-switch"?

You be the judge.

I'm a faithful Vancouver Sun subscriber, and it's got several excellent writers and editors.

Don't drift too far, eh?

Posted by Paul at 09:16 PM

December 28, 2011

Let Us Not Forget Derek’s Last Post

As the year ends, I've been reviewing events of 2011 that moved me, and one was the death of Derek K. Miller, and his "Last Post."

I don't want to say much, because there are plenty of folks in EAC, and in particular EAC-BC, who knew Derek way better than I had the chance to. I heard him speak several times, and I followed his powerful blog, but we didn't have a personal relationship.

Derek's Last Post bears reading again, for it stares death, and life, in the face.


It's also a reality check. Are we spending the precious moments of our lives following our passions, and contributing as best we can to positive change in our world?

UPDATE: Dawn, another EAC member and editor, remembers this post as particularly moving:

For me, the post I most remember is Endgame
I never met Derek in person, just in emails and on his blog.
But his writing and his story really affected me.

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

November 15, 2011

Language Lanterns goes FB, Twitter

I've been working with Language Lanterns in various capacities for at least 15 years, but it's taken a long time for it to sink in that I have become one of the principals, following the passing of my Mom, Sonia Morris, a few years ago. Big, very big shoes to fill, and my Mom's sister--Roma Franko-- and I, still struggle at times without her. . .

So, Mom, we're going Facebook and Twitter!

I've been FBing and Tweeting for years, personally, but have never used either medium for promoting Language Lanterns or my own business. So this is uncharted territory for me.

Here we go, both works in their infancy, and in progress:




Posted by Paul at 10:02 PM

November 14, 2011

Feline Editorial Assistant

Choco wandered into my office meowing plaintively while I was
editing another Language Lanterns Ukrainian - English translation today.


Hello? Can't hear me? How about I jump on the desk?
I need some attention and affection, eh?


Hah! Can't ignore me now!


A folded towel - how nice of you. I'll catch a few winks while
I supervise from over here.

Posted by Paul at 08:33 PM

June 26, 2011

New Glasses with Progressive Lenses

Warning, my posts may be somewhat hallucinatory for a week or two as I get used to my first progressive lenses.

As I sit in front of the monitors and keyboard with the new glasses on, whenever I turn my head I feel like I'm watching an old "this is your mind on drugs" health-class movie, or a flick from the 1960s with Dennis Hopper in it. As I pan my head from side to side to shift from monitor to monitor, I get lovely ripples of distortion. While it will take awhile to "get used to the zones," so far I'm not feeling as woozy as some people warned me I might be.

I got the top end, cutting-edge HD lenses that supposedly offer the widest reading area and least amount of distortion. Wonder what the heck the cheapest ones are like!

These glasses have three zones: near, mid and far, and once I get used to them, I think they'll help with my editing productivity. I can use mid for the monitors, and near for reference books. Just tried it and it works great. I'd been at the point where I had to keep flipping my old glasses off and dragging my nose along a page to look in a dictionary, or a style guide, or a reference book, or whatever....

The other option would have been laser surgery, which the optometrist told me I'd be eligible for even with my major myopia and astigmatism. That would be like being correct for mid-to-far, and then having a pair of reading glasses for closeup work, he said. Still might try that someday, as I do a fair bit of hiking, canoeing, camping, etc. and it would be nice not to have to wear glasses for such activities.

I know lots of folks who rave about laser surgery, but I figured if I'd still have to wear some kind of glasses 40-50+ hours a week working at the computer and reading, I'd try the progressive route first.

Me with my new specs:


And for those who haven't seen me in awhile, that's not a playoff beard, that's a "forgot my razor when I went to a conference in Campbell River over the May long weekend" beard. So far my significant other seems intrigued, so I guess I'll let it go awhile longer. The last time I grew a beard was during summer vacation a couple of years ago, and I was dismayed at how white it came in. I guess now that I have accepted progressives, and am fairly comfortable with my white beard, I'm aging more gracefully : - ).

Posted by Paul at 07:46 PM

May 30, 2011

My Tweets from EAC National Conference

Here are my Tweets from the Editors' Association of Canada national conference Editing in the Age of E-Everything that was held in Vancouver from May 27-29.  Note that they appear in last-to-first order, as they appeared on my feed.

Grayson the story still exists, the book still exists, tho its form may be changing 

Grayson the core is storytelling - look at your career as a story - build a story around who you are and what you do

Grayson there is a dearth of critical thinking in socmedia, digital publishing

Grayson add value to the social media conversation - I don't care if you're having a cup of coffee

Grayson what makes me feel that I belong? that I'm part of the in group?

Grayson what's in it for the consumer? what do they want?

Grayson how do you become a great conversationalist? communicator?

Grayson global "niche" markets are huge

Grayson the beauty of the digital world is that there are no norms

Grayson perhaps editors should be called producers

Closing address with Rochelle Grayson

Harbeck copy editor is the ideal person to enforce styles, unless the doc is totally screwed up

Harbeck colour changes are easy in InDesign if you set up swatches

Harbeck wildcard symbols are bit different in Word than in standards-compliant apps

Harbeck http://bit.ly/kqreLc wildcard reference for Word

Harbeck Using spaces in Word for layout purposes is true evil

Harbeck scan for two spaces between sentences, scan for hidden characters as part of import cleanup

Harbeck you can apply unique markers in a screwed-up Word file to note elements, and then apply consistent styles in InDesign

Harbeck you can make tables in Word - they will import fine into InDesign

Harbeck the things you need to do in Word are completely different from what you do in InDesign

Harbeck never try to lay things out or use text boxes in Word - leave that for the InDesign stage

Harbeck the best way to manage styles is to have same names in InDesign and Word

Harbeck you want a dtp style for any element that may be handled differently

Harbeck most important dtp workflow decisions are what styles to use and how they are related

Hilarious presentation by Harbeck what an entertaining approach to dtp!

Harbeck Use styles, styles are your best friend for dtp

Harbeck if you get your docs set up properly ahead of time, final DTP is nearly done

Next session Harbeck Well Begun is Nearly Done: DTP at Warp Speed

Little kids' language, tech use changes so fast, that we need new focus groups for each campaign

Little  Hard to explain to execs that you can't just "make something go viral"

Little  As a corp we stay away from FB status updates - too hard to maintain a relevant, consistent flow

Little  Twitter can be dangerous for regulated govt provider - so need consistency in use

Little  A wiki-based style guide is a living document, created/maintained by users, track changes

Little  WCB using corporate style guide Wiki

Little  corp/org editors need to work on templates, workflow

Little  for corp editors, days of sitting and working with text are over - need multimedia

Little  editors working with video games, online content to engage youth

Little  only place we could reach young people aside from school was online

Little  Taking real-life narrative & presenting on web to engage young workers

Little  Difficulty of adapting corp/govt policy to engage wide audience

Little  Corporate policy can lead to dry web content

Little New Tools and Emerging Roles for Online Editors

Nice to see my fellow @RoyalRoads MAPC cohortnik Terence Little presenting

Sloboda make sure youre website is visitor-centric, not your company centric

Sloboda In metadata, titles & descriptions still count, keywords not much anymore

Sloboda Freshness important, so mix of website, blog, Twitter feed is a good idea

Sloboda Search engines are starting to take copy quality into account

Sloboda Be careful about keyword density - overdo it and search engines will penalize you

Sloboda Keyword make huge difference - few searches for "reduced fares" tens of thousands daily for "cheap flights"

Sloboda Take a look at webceo.com

Sloboda Writing web copy for 2 masters: search engines, people

Sloboda Segment website copy according to audience - language, interests

Sloboda Your website may be catering to multiple audiences

Sloboda Why have a website? What's your objective? Purpose?

Sloboda If you cater only to search engines, you won't convert readers

Next session "Writing for the Web - Nourish the Spider, Engage the Human" Sloboda

publishers need to interact with their audiences directly on the web @jmaxsfu

Maxwell Check out LeanPub

Maxwell MagFlow - magazine submissions & editorial workflow in Wordpress

Maxwell Pressbooks - Wordpress as an editorial environment

Maxwell The website is the real thing, and the book is a souvenir

Maxwell The book of MPub - a book built in WordPress

Maxwell Ickmull - bridge from web to print - reverse of prevailing systems

Maxwell The container is no longer the book - is it the iPad?

Maxwell Publisher still doing print first, then trying to repurpose for digital

Maxwell How do we re-imagine publishing as if the web matters? Digital cannot be an afterthought

Maxwell When content is cheap, that changes how we write, how we read, and the editorial process

Maxwell Content is cheap - supply skyrocketing

Maxwell We live a Wiki world of multiple sources

Maxwell Authority is no longer singular - The Book, The Author - long gone concept

Maxwell We now live in a world of way too much content about everything

Maxwell We've gone from an info-poor world to an info-glut world

Maxwell Too many publishers have heads in sand - hope the revolution is not really coming

Maxwell Periodical publishers are being crushed by free content

Maxwell Self-publishers are having interesting effects on the market

Maxwell Market of non-traditionally published books is exploding

Maxwell Publishers have never seen the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google - these guys are out for all the marbles

Maxwell Publishers increasingly at mercy of monopoly players

Maxwell Publishers need to figure out how electronic markets work

Maxwell Publishing in upheaval after a century of stability

Maxwell Many publishers operate as if the web didn't exist

Maxwell Web is dominant publishing platform of our time and future

Re-imaging publishing as if the Web mattered Maxwell

Newman any change is always frightening ro some parties in copyright issues

Newman copyright law is always playing catchup - sometimes decades behind

Newman authors, publishers need to figure out how Google Books works best for them

Newman be aware of final Google Books settlement - you can wait until things shake out

Newman Google Books does the heavy digitization lifting for publishers

Newman becoming Google Books partner may = exposure, more sales channels, higher revenues, revenues from older books

Newman publishers can set minimum price in Google eBooks

Newman Google eBooks not limited to any particular platform - not available in Canada yet - soon

Newman partners can access array of analytics through Google Books

Newman at this point Google Books is for discovery and limited display

Newman next phase of Google books settlement coming soon

Newman useful to revist Google books settlement & its influence on publishing

Everyone looks bright eyed & bushy tailed at Newman

Google Books - what is it, where is it going next? Newman

AGM Derek was a great supporter of EAC & contributed in many ways #weloveyouderek

AGM Derek lived E-everything

AGM tribute to Derek K Miller

AGM My tweeting of EAC AGM will be sporadic as I've been asked to photograph awards, certificates etc

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen Twitter is the modern, personalized wire service - can be tailored to your needs

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen we no longer follow the wires - I monitor Twitter

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen digital audience is accepting of minimal-quality video - they're used to YouTube

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you're not already living online, you'd better be if you want to work in digital media

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you want to get into media, have a blog, Tweet, digital media want to know you can do these things

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you can get someone to actually click a link or 2 on your website, you're doing very well

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you can keep someone on your website for a few minutes, you're doing well

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen onlinei people are generally looking for specific info & want it fast

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen jump in & get comfortable with video etc.

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you're an editor, you're likely good at finding what's good in text, video or audio - skills translate

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen spend a lot of time looking for open source/free/cheap photos

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen the web is a beast you constantly have to feed - always need something new

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen photo of digital editing sessionhttp://yfrog.com/h6o30mnj

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen not as much time for editing when working online

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen 2 of 3 presenters using Drupal

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen Province, BC Living, Vancouver Magazine represented

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen Editing in the Digital Media World - next session

Finkelstein / Morris considering XML-first workflow, but not quite there yet

Finkelstein / Morris most large conversion companies are offshore - they're affordable

Finkelstein / Morris have done electronic books enhanced with video depending on channels

Finkelstein / Morris we do publish in colour on screen, rate of adoption of colour devices increasing

Finkelstein / Morris still issues with making indexes useful with eBooks

Finkelstein / Morris if using images in ebooks, they need to be resizable for different screens

Finkelstein / Morris trying to make content easily flowable across platforms

Finkelstein / Morris we really try to understand how ePub tech is evolving & how folks may use it in future

Finkelstein / Morris of course you're trying to reach as many ePub forjats/readers

Photo of audience at Finkelstein / Morris http://yfrog.com/h8dinazj

Photo of panel at Finkelstein / Morris http://yfrog.com/h8fpxazj

Finkelstein / Morris still a lot of work in file conversion

Finkelstein / Morris books still developed editorially in same way, but trying to innovate

Finkelstein / Morris Epublishing is changing quickly, in constant flux

Next session I'm attending at EAC Conf in Vancouver is on E-Publishing Finkelstein / Morris

Graves photo of seminar by Graves on collateral, content strategy http://yfrog.com/h4d5nihij

Graves always, alwaysa measure - downloads, click-throughs, page views etc., and revise, revise

Graves need a strategy for bringing your collateral into the 21st C - SEO, SocMedia etc

Graves break up text with subheds, if you can cover it with the palm of your hand & it's all text, it's too much

Graves tone & style hard to enforce. How would your company speak if it were a person?

Graves firm branding guidelines help avoid arguments

Graves youe collateral should be consistent, have personality, be brief

Graves collateral cannot be everything to everyone - write to a particular customer's needs

Graves have regular updating of collateral in your content strategy

Graves regularly retire out-of-date content

Graves content strategy requires narrowly defining your audience

Graves you need a plan to create useful, usable content, and everyone needs a different plan

Graves collateral represents brand, supports sales, keep company, jobs going

Graves works at Open Text on content strategy

Graves Winning Collateral: Writing & Editing to Fit a Content Strategy

Fralic clear communication is more important than it's ever been

Fralic the role of the editor as become more necessary, more compelling

Fralic web highlights gap between dreck and well-edited writing

Fralic customers want info they know they can trust

Fralic Vancouver Sun website gets 10s millions of hits because we have century of credibility

Fralic yet users of Web are getting smarter, better at wading through the tripe

Fralic glut of dreck on the web

Fralic we all know that everyone needs an editor

Fralic nobody is fact-checking blogs

Fralic most blogs do not get edited - makes my blood run cold

Fralic I may not like blogs, but they are effective in getting eyes on our website

Fralic our online readers are young - they like photos, sick dogs, cleavage and gangsters

Fralic blogs just fill up the e-hole

Fralic I hate blogs - stream of consciousness thing - I like my words to simmer

Fralic we're told to write for the web first

Fralic issue of digital rights, use restrictions on ebooks

Fralic books are still a big deal, libraries being used more, but conundrum ot ebooks

Fralic editors are not becoming obsolete, they are switching gears - need tech savvy these days

Fralic numbers of online editors is growing

Fralic new job description - online editor

Fralic press workpace has changed dramatically

Fralic interesting to see if paywalls are going work, because we're not making $ on Internet

Fralic trad media struggling to adapt, doing better job

Fralic young readers go online, shun trad press

Fralic increasingly difficult challenges for writers, editors in trad media

Fralic editors have saved my bacon many times

Fralic interviewed Dalai Lama 30 years ago, before he was Bono's BFF

Fralic having been an editor made me a much better writer

Fralic fear that once-venerated craft of editing is disappearing

Fralic audience of editors, so there are no hard copies of this speech anywhere

Fralic who is from Toronto? Love those #Canucks, eh?

Fralic happy to see so many women in audience

Fralic keynote speaker next

Auditorium packed for Shelley Fralic keynote

Posted by Paul at 09:54 PM

May 25, 2011

Welcoming Editors to EAC National Conference in Vancouver

Here's the Environment Canada forecast for the end of the week and coming weekend, just as we tee up for the Editors' Association of Canada national conference Editing in the Age of E-Everything.


Sigh. Whenever folks visit, it rains. Stop visiting! Er, I mean, ah..

Note that the Twitter tag for the conference is #eac2011.

Posted by Paul at 11:03 PM

March 18, 2011

Changing Your Driving with the Seasons

I ran across an advert today in which a few photos had been flipped with likely unintended results:


The headline read: As The Seasons Change; So Should Your Driving!

From the photos, it appears to me that we should drive on the right side of the road in winter and autumn, and on the left side of the road in spring and summer. . .

Posted by Paul at 02:34 PM

March 04, 2011

Grumpy Old Man…

I realize that I've had a couple of consecutive harsh posts to this blog. Barely into my 50s, am I becoming a grumpy old man? I hate to see what will happen if I follow this trajectory into my 60s and 70s! : - )

But, darn it, I just hate to see crappy behaviour by my governments, and crappy reporting by the press.

Posted by Paul at 09:21 PM

Sloppy Reporting in Shooting

I was surprised to see the following in a CBC story about a shooting in which RCMP had to shoot and kill an armed man with a known criminal past:

"The rifle was a standard .22 calibre that had been made to look like an assault rifle."

What the heck does that mean? And didn't the reporter and editors know to question it? There is no such thing as a "standard .22 calibre." A standard what? Bolt action? Semi-auto? Lever? Pump? How the heck was it "made to look like an assault rifle"? With cardboard, glue and paint? Duct tape? A portable holodeck? An astral projection?

It is important to be accurate when reporting the news. If you don't understand what something means, ask for an explanation, don't just regurgitate some nonsense.

Posted by Paul at 08:45 PM

February 11, 2011

Let’s Hear it for Plain English!

Singing for plain English

Found this via the Editors' Association of Canada mail list, which pointed to an
excellent post on the Writing Matters blog.

Posted by Paul at 04:23 PM

February 04, 2011

The Future of Publishing

This is a lovely little video - - be sure to watch all the way to the end, or else it doesn't work.

Posted by Paul at 01:35 PM

February 02, 2011

National Post Story Compromised

Here's  great example of how words can be confused, and how just a few letters can make a huge difference in meaning. As an editor, I dread -- and, I have to admit -- get a kick out of encountering slips like this.

From the front page of yesterday's National Post (Feb. 1) in a story about Canada's growing Muslim population:

"The current number of Muslims -- 940,000 -- compromises 2.8% of the Canadian population."

And as a sensitive, multicultural guy, I am not going to comment further on this one! :-)

Yes, I'm sure the writer meant "comprises," but someone screwed up somewhere in the writing-editing process.

Posted by Paul at 02:59 PM

October 14, 2010

The W/web, I/internet, N/net Progression

A recent thread on the Japan-based Society of Writers, Editors and Translators mail list was discussing the transition of "Web" to "web." A few folks were surprised to see the Chicago Manual of Style making the transition to lower case for "web" in its latest edition, though Chicago retains caps for Internet and World Wide Web.

I just checked my (published in 1996) Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age and was surprised to see all W/web references in upper case, though Wired was always cutting edge when it came to lower-casing and combining words (what's the term for that? Y'know, the two words, hyphenated word, one word progression? Linkage? Something fancier?).

Mind you this was very early in the W/web years. Here's one of many references in the 1996 Wired guide:

Web: Call it the Web, the World Wide Web, or W3, this is the place your money, phone calls, and email may soon live.


World Wide Web: A graphics-intensive environment running on top of the Internet, the Web brought hypertext home (literally). Conceived in 1989, the Web took off in 1993 with the NCSA's first GUI browser, Mosaic. Today there are many browsers, and many more people who experience the Internet primarily through the Web.

Funny how fast technology and language changes these days!

Ah, I just found this online article on Wired no longer capping I/internet, W/web, and N/net, dating to 2004:


Posted by Paul at 05:17 PM

October 06, 2010

Great Health Advice for Pregnant Women

A screen shot from my iGoogle news page this morning:


Headline 1: 'Light Drinking Said OK for Pregnant Women'

Headline 2: 'A Drink or Two During Pregnancy? Not So Fast'

So which one do you believe?

My main concern when I saw this was that most folks won't read much past the headline, and that the word will start spreading that "light drinking during pregnancy is OK." That's problematic, because most people are clueless as to how "light drinking" is defined, and how quickly/easily one surpasses that level. There are way too many FAS kids. Whether or not that can be pinned solely on over-consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, why take the chance?

Posted by Paul at 08:42 AM

July 30, 2010

PC Mag Gives Time Capsule 5/6 Stars – Huh?

The August 2010 digital issue of PC Magazine awarded Apple's Time Capsule NAS five out of six stars. Not bad, considering every other product is rated on a five-star scale!


Posted by Paul at 04:39 PM

July 23, 2010

Cover Boy

The Burnaby Newsleader picked up my blog post on completing three volumes of Ukrainian-English literature translations and interviewed me on the topic. The online story is here.

Today I was pleasantly surprised to find myself on the cover of the print version!


Thank you to Wanda Chow, the enterprising Burnaby Newsleader reporter who peeked at my blog, contacted me, and took the story higher. She was the consummate professional - giving me great leading questions and letting me blabber on and on . . .  I was mesmerized :-).  

And then she distilled and crafted my ramblings into an excellent article. Thanks too, to her editor(s), and to photographer Daniela Ciuffa, who made my mug look quasi-handsome .

As someone who has been on both ends of the mike and the camera over the years, I appreciate journalism done well - - especially when I've been at the blathering end of the mike! And somehow Wanda got into my soul and made me forget I was being interviewed.

That's talent.

We are very fortunate in Burnaby to have two healthy, well-written community papers. It never hurts to have some competition :-).

Posted by Paul at 04:32 PM

July 09, 2010

Streamkeepers of the Language

A well-crafted blog post by James Harbeck, a fellow member of the Editors' Association of Canada, that uses the theme of streamkeeping, and in particular the March 2010 Byrne Creek kill, to frame an essay on living languages and etymology.

Thanks for the links, James!

Posted by Paul at 10:54 PM

June 13, 2010

Surrey Owls Have It Good as City Builds Them Mini-Bars


If you find this hard to read it says: "As an innovative way to protect Barn Owls from further population loss, raised miniature bars such as this have been introduced in fields. . ." Yes, it should be "barns."

I'm an editor, and I've read this sign in South Surrey, BC, a couple of times, and I didn't pick up the typo until today. I'm not trying to be mean, I just love collecting such slips.

Dunno if building mini-bars for endangered species is such a good thing! :-)

And it gives expressions such as "the party was a hoot" a whole new meaning. . .

Posted by Paul at 07:36 PM

June 03, 2010

When Editing, Be Sure to Check Graphics

The following graphic was in an email pitch from Dragon Naturally Speaking  voice recognition software:


Posted by Paul at 08:35 AM

May 22, 2010

Who Is Proofreading Apple Website?

As an editor who understands too well the ease with which wee errors slip by, I love catching ones out in the wild.

On Apple Canada's website, someone was getting confused about whether or not to use hyphens with amounts of RAM and hard disk size:


The 13-inch models have "4GB memory" and "320GB hard drive" while the 15-inch models have "4-GB Memory" and "320-GB hard drive."

Posted by Paul at 08:24 PM

May 14, 2010

Name Pronunciation – Do I Win a Prize?

There's been a funny thread on the Editors' Association of Canada mailing list about pronouncing names. Here's my contribution:

Paul Cipywnyk
Need I say more? :-)
It's approximately Sip-iv-nick

The Ukrainian?
My romanization is weak, but more like Tsi-pyv-neck

I've been mangled
I've been tangled
I've been swallowed
I've been coughed

I've been hiccupped
I've been glossed
I've been shuffled
I've been lost

People freeze when
The name arises and
They must publicly proclaim
Damn that confounding name!

OK, I've never made any claims to being a poet, especially late on a Friday night after a long week!

Posted by Paul at 09:32 PM

March 23, 2010

Cybercrime ‘Hotspots’ – Huh?

There was an article in today's Vancouver Sun called B.C. is a cybercrime hot spot. It went on to list several cities as being "among the most dangerous in Canada." The problem with this is that cyberspace is not a geographical space or place. While the article goes on to say that it's the security of individual computers that affects their vulnerability to cybercrime, in combination with user behavior, it muddies the issue by attempting to scare people with a meaningless list of dangerous cities. The article is based on a study by security firm Symantec, but it appears some additional thought into how the data could best be presented to the public would have been useful before pen hit paper. :-)

It matters not where your computer is located. If you don't have a router, a firewall, up-to-date anti-virus software, etc., you are more vulnerable, no matter where you are. My online activity does not somehow become more risky if I move from one town to another.

Posted by Paul at 01:44 PM

March 18, 2010

Maclean’s Publishes Gross Errors on Korea, Japan

I am shocked at the March 22, 2010, issue of Maclean's. First, it somehow managed to place Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as dictators of South Korea (p. 9). Hello?

Then, in  a long article called "The Battle for Okinawa" the news magazine managed to turn decades of Japanese imperialistic expansion and military aggression (invasion and occupation of Korea? invasion and occupation of parts of China? Nanking Massacre, Pearl Harbour?) and over five years of WWII into something it called the "1945 Battle of Okinawa, the Americans' 82-day long assault on Japan. . ." Apparently, according to Maclean's, "Japan fell to the Allies in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa." Uh, Hiroshima? Nagasaki? Japan did not surrender until the first, terrible, use the world has ever seen of nuclear weapons.

The errors continue to pile up. How about "Okinawa lost as much as a quarter of its civilian population (estimates vary)-both in battle and through mass suicides, propelled by rumours about the brutality of approaching American soldiers." There is plenty of documentary evidence that the rumours were just that - rumours - and that those rumours were purposely spread by the fanatical Japanese military defenders on Okinawa, who also had no compunction about mass-murdering their own citizens if they preferred to take their chances with the supposedly barbarian Yanks instead of "voluntarily" committing suicide.

Maclean's needs to have a serious meeting of its editorial staff and take a close look at the claptrap it's publishing. It's one thing to perhaps mistype "South" for "North" and have a series of writers, copy editors and editors miss the mistake, but ignoring and rewriting history is extremely worrisome.

Posted by Paul at 10:06 PM

February 02, 2010

BC Artist James Koll Posts New Works to Website

I received an email from BC artist James Koll today about new pieces posted to his website. Coincidentally, the topic of art came up on the Editors' Association of Canada email list recently, with people sharing info about artists whose works they'd bought. I mentioned Koll and his website, and here are a few comments:

"Koll's work is beautiful and, from the photos, exceptionally well crafted. The next time I'm back in B.C. I'll make it a point to see some of his work; I'm in love with it, even via the Internet. A new slant on Internet dating?"

"Thanks so much for sharing this link."

"I like his Burrard Street at Night--lovely."

"Ooo--another great site."

Posted by Paul at 01:37 PM

January 13, 2010

Cumulative Effects of Watching TV a Killer

From an article in today's Vancouver Sun, sourced from Agence France-Presse:

"Relax in front of the TV much? Be warned, each hour you spend there boosts chances of a premature death by 11 per cent..."

So, math wizards, how many hours does it take to ensure death by TV?

Later on the article makes a bit more sense:

"... an hour of television time a day delivers an 11-per cent higher risk of early death..."

But even this is ridiculous. What about an hour a day of sitting and reading? An hour a day of sitting at a desk and working? An hour a day of any sedentary activity? Why only TV?

Hm, and then the article slips back into weirdness yet again:

"People who watch television four hours a day see their increased rate of death from any cause by 46 per cent, and from cardiovascular disease it soars by 80 per cent." [And no, I did not miss any words in that quotation.]

Huh? People who watch television see their increased rate of death..? I thought they saw various programs :-).

ADD:  And as an editing colleague points out, isn't the "risk of death from any cause" already 100%?

Posted by Paul at 11:08 AM

January 11, 2010

National Post dumps ‘The’ with Ukraine, Kiev finally becomes Kyiv

As one who has supported the usage of "Ukraine" alone, I am pleased to note that in today's National Post, "senior editors have ruled that 'the Ukraine' is verboten. And the country's capital is now to be given as Kyiv, not 'Kiev.'"

Posted by Paul at 08:26 AM

December 15, 2009

PCs Advocate Rough Treatment for Liberal Senators?

Great editing catch by a fellow Editors' Association of Canada member. B. A. sent this SITW (Seen In The Wild) post to the EAC mail list, as seen on the National Post website:


The photo caption reads:

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says Liberal Senators who voted to weaken her
product safety bill "are putting the health and safety of Canadian families at risk."

Posted by Paul at 08:58 PM

November 20, 2009

Teen Sexting to Kill Us All?

I had a good laugh at a headline boo-boo in an email from CNET today - as you can see as you read further, it's not about hormone-fueled kids and cute vampires :-).


I delight in such editing slips because. . . I'm an editor and it happens to all of us.

Posted by Paul at 03:21 PM

October 25, 2009

Has Anyone Read Hemingway?

The question came up on the Editors' Association of Canada mailing list today, and here's my response:

It's been awhile since I've read Hemingway. I went on a binge :-) of his writing, and writing about him, about 20 years ago. Some of his stuff is very good, some may feel dated now, and, like any writer, there are weak patches.

I think his writing has been (and to some extent perhaps always was) overshadowed by his persona. And in death the persona grew even larger. I've seen the strangest documentaries on his life. By chance there was a scathing review in today's Vancouver Sun of a "new release" of his classic A Moveable Feast, and it doesn't paint a pretty picture of attempts by his heirs to "improve" on his work and cash in along the way.

My bottom line? At his best, I think he was one of the best. I just wonder how many people read him any more, how much he is now of a certain (bygone) era, and how many just wear the T-shirt.

Posted by Paul at 07:46 PM

October 20, 2009

‘The’ Ukraine?

The "The Ukraine" topic came up as part of a larger "The" usage thread on the Editors' Association of Canada mailing list again recently.

Didn't we discuss, a few months back, some geographic names that take "the"? Places like the NW Territories, the Ukraine, the Argentine, the Arctic, etc.

Here's my response:

I thought "The Ukraine" had finally died (though I see it's listed as an option in Canadian Oxford 2). I've never seen the need for a "the" on it.

I don't know why the use of the "the" ever arose in the first place. But to me it always seemed to be somehow diminishing, second class, not quite worthy of nationhood. With Ukraine's history of being constantly invaded, split up and forcibly incorporated into various empires, and subjected to repeated programs aimed at wiping out its language and culture, Ukrainians can feel rather sensitive about such things.

"Ukraine" in ITP Nelson does not list "The Ukraine," all the definition says is:

"A region and republic of E. Europe; came under control of Lithuania in the mid-14th cent. and was a constituent republic of the USSR from 1922 to 1991."

Huh? That's it? The blind man describing the elephant?

I also note that neutral phrasing: "came under control of" and "was a constituent republic of." Sounds like Ukes happily bought into both regimes, eh?

Posted by Paul at 09:12 AM

October 10, 2009

What’s Wrong With This FP Picture?

The joys of middle age: I can easily spot mistakes like this one in today's Financial Post:


That ain't no Monte Carlo!

Posted by Paul at 09:01 AM

September 02, 2009

A Plague of Plagiarism?

There's been some discussion on the Editors' Association of Canada mailing list recently about plagiarism and how to detect it. Here are my perceptions of overall trends:

I believe there is an ongoing technological and cultural shift that is blurring the issue of plagiarism in people's minds. We have become a copycat, copying world, and the digitization of content has made it effortless to make exact copies of text, graphics/photos, audio and video. This is not by any means a new idea or concern, and I'm sure there is research on this trend, but here are a few words off the top of my head.

In my youth we learned relatively simple analog copying from LP to cassette, from TV to VCR; however, such copying took as much time to accomplish as the length of the original recording. Now everything is digital files that can be copied and transferred from medium to medium in seconds or minutes at the click of a mouse. Kids have grown up with digital audio players (iPods et al), personal video recorders (PVRs) that amass hundreds of hours of one's favourite TV programs, and computers and the 'Net.

This digitization also makes it easy to non-destructively break down files and use snippets of original works. Kids are now encouraged to do "mashups" using text, graphics, audio and video, and web designers "suck" and "scrape" data from all over the 'Net for inclusion in re-purposed or re-branded websites. It's par for the course for bloggers and Twitterers to copy and use ideas/data, though most abide by precepts of acknowledgment, including citation, mutual linking, blog rolls and the RT (reTweet) function.

When I did my MA a couple of years ago after a 20-year hiatus from the halls of higher learning, I was pleased, amazed, and finally shocked at how easy it was to "do research" by logging into the university library from the comfort of one's home computer, and copy and paste relevant bits from peer-reviewed papers in respected journals downloaded in their entirety from databases. I kept such notes and quotations in a different font to make sure they stood out on the screen as I wrote papers. A far cry from physically entering the library, combing through the card catalogs and stacks, and taking notes by hand on 3 X 5 cards!

I have encountered situations in which people have copied copyrighted and trademarked material wholesale and passed it off in their "own works" -- entire swaths of writing, not just a sentence here or there -- only to have them deny that they'd done anything wrong. Pressing the issue resulted only in anger, incredibly (to my mind) broad definitions of "fair use," or a blanket dismissal that I wasn't with it.

Now I believe there are upsides to this technological/cultural revolution. I'm a fan of open-source movements that originated in software development and are gradually encompassing photography, audio/video production, and publishing. I appreciate the benefits of "open-source learning," which entails a lot of collaborative group work in educational settings. The key here is that people who honestly contribute original work are recognized by their peers in a self-policing atmosphere of mutual respect, acknowledgment, and encouragement.

Whether or not the positive influences of such open-source concepts overcome the temptations of cut-and-paste plagiarism remains to be seen. The bottom line is not technology, despite my focus on technological developments. Technology doesn't set ethical standards, though I wonder if it can undermine them. It's the people using the technology that need to know better.

Perhaps the cookie jar of original research and artistic production has become too easy to access and copy. A strange statement coming from me, since I despise DRM (digital rights management) and censorship. But I realize that I am human, and when there are cookies easily accessible, I know I'll be tempted to gobble them up, though if I had to bake them from scratch I'd think twice about the effort. At least I know that I wouldn't pass off store-bought cookies, or the neighbour's muffins, as my own!

I see that my argument is getting mired down, and my mind is not keeping up with my fingers on the keyboard, so I'd better quit now before I get stuck. Time to get back to work. Perhaps I'll write another mini-essay extending this topic another day.

Posted by Paul at 12:39 PM

May 26, 2009

Language Lanterns Founders to Receive Inaugural CFUS Translation Prize

CFUS is awarding its first George S. N. Luckyj Ukrainian Literature Translation Prize to my aunt, Roma Franko, and my late mother, Sonia Morris:

Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies

May 19, 2009


The Board of Directors of the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies (CFUS) is pleased to announce that Dr. Roma Franko and her sister, the late Sonia Morris have been selected as the first recipients of the George S. N. Luckyj Ukrainian Literature Translation Prize.

The Prize is named in honour of the late Professor George S. N. Luckyj, an eminent Ukrainian Canadian Slavist, editor, and translator of Ukrainian literature. It was created to encourage the translation of Ukrainian literary works into English and other major languages and consists of a monetary gift in the amount of $2,000.

Roma Franko and Sonia Morris are being awarded the Luckyj Prize for their dedication to and tremendous efforts and achievements in translating Ukrainian literature into English and making it accessible to a wide reading audience. After taking early retirement from their respective academic careers at the University of Saskatchewan in 1996, the sisters embarked on new careers, Roma Franko as translator and Sonia Morris as editor. Together they founded Language Lanterns Publications dedicated to publishing works of Ukrainian literature in English translation. They imposed on themselves what seemed a daunting schedule of publishing at least two books of literary translations per year. In 1998, a series entitled Women?s Voices in Ukrainian Literature was launched. By 2000, the first set of six books in this series was completed. The series includes translated prose of Ukrainian women writers of the 19th century. To date, seventeen volumes have appeared translated by Roma Franko and edited by Sonia Morris. A further three volumes are in preparation. Roma Franko currently lives in Toronto. Sonia Morris passed away in 2007.

The Prize will be presented to Dr. Franko and the family of the late Sonia Morris on June 3, 2009 at the UNF Library Dinner in Toronto. The names of the recipients will be inscribed on a plaque that will be permanently displayed in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto.

CFUS is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to securing funds and other resources that will promote the growth and development of Ukrainian studies in Canada in perpetuity. The work of CFUS is supported by the generosity of individuals through donations, bequests, and endowments.

For further information, please contact:
Natalka Zyla
Office Administrator, CFUS

Posted by Paul at 03:52 PM

March 07, 2009

Punctuation, Mechanics Rock -- Really!

Who says punctuation and mechanics are boring? Frances Peck led a great session today on the topic at an Editors' Association of Canada BC chapter workshop. Frances works with West Coast Editorial Associates, and also teaches at Simon Fraser University and Douglas College. If you think editors don't need punctuation workshops, you'd be wrong -- a refresher never hurts as today's session proved.

Posted by Paul at 09:22 PM

February 18, 2009

Setting Up a Business

Recently a student in the Print Futures program at Douglas Collage interviewed me about the freelance writing and editing life, and how I felt about future prospects in the sector. Today she followed up with a question about registering a sole proprietorship in BC (you go girl! :-), so I provided her with the following list of resources.

When I was setting up our company, I found the BC One-Stop Business Registry to be invaluable.

They have tons of great info, plus name search/registration, GST signup, etc. It might look a bit daunting at first, but it's actually not that difficult once you get into it.

Small Business BC is another great business resource. And it offers several guides, some downloadable as PDFs.

Another good resource is books from Self-Counsel Press that can walk you through the setting-up-a-business process.

They have several good titles including:

Start & Run a Consulting Business
Start & Run a Copywriting Business
Start & Run a Creative Services Business
Start & Run a Desktop Publishing Business
Canadian Legal Guide for Small Business

Many banks often have free brochures on setting up and running small businesses as well.

Posted by Paul at 12:18 PM

February 11, 2009

Obama's New, Simple, Straight-Shooting Language

NPR on 'The Art of Language, Obama-Style':


"Because he understands on a profound level that language is the way to hearts and minds, it makes sense to observe his word choice and manner of speaking very closely. In terms of style, Obama has a new way with words. Obamantics, maybe?"

Obama's way of speaking is a lesson to all communicators, speechwriters, writers and editors.

Posted by Paul at 11:45 AM

January 30, 2009

Friday Feast of Media Glitches

As an editor by trade, I can't help but notice when things go awry on the printed page. We all need editors. Editors need editors! Here are three items that popped out at me this morning:

1) From a Vancouver Courier article about the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, of which I chair the board.

Part of the article describes the history of how the watershed education/community art program started. The first mural went around a vacant, rubble-filled lot ten years ago:

...The eyesore sat abandoned while the owner fought with the city council of the day for permission to build a hotel.

"I just looked horrible," says [SDMS founder] Towell...

Yes, "I" should have been "It".

It was a great story, though!

2) The Vancouver Sun waffles on usage with Canadian Forces on page B1:

"The Canadian Forces have been taking a low-key approach to its involvement in the Games."

3) The Vancouver Sun slashes the population of the GVRD, now known as Metro Vancouver, on page A6:

"The total amount of regional parkland increased to 66,300 hectares in 2006.... But due to increased population, the amount of parkland per capita dropped to 29.8 hectares...."

Hm, that puts the Metro Vancouver population at 2,225.

Posted by Paul at 08:50 AM

January 21, 2009

Obama Speech Websites

I ran across these websites that will be useful for the speechwriting course that I'm taking. Whatever your political leanings, Obama has had some great speeches, both in the writing and the delivery.

The official inauguration website.

The Barack Obama website page featuring his speeches.

Posted by Paul at 04:54 PM

January 15, 2009

Speechwriting Course

I've signed up for a speechwriting course with Colin Moorhouse -- check it out here. I heard Colin speak some years ago and was impressed. If you're a freelance writer or editor, you should subscribe to his newsletter.

I expect the course will stimulate my brain, and perhaps add to my services.

Posted by Paul at 12:00 PM

January 13, 2009

Michael Jackson Big For Age

On the National Post's letters page today there is a photo of the Jackson Five, "circa 1960."

Michael is looking pretty big for a 2-year-old toddler, born in August 1958! :-).


If that doesn't work, go to National Post, Letters, and the "Motown" item.

Posted by Paul at 01:31 PM

April 10, 2007

Language Lanterns Carries On

My mom, Sonia Morris, was a founder of Language Lanterns Publications Inc. along with her sister Roma Franko.

At the time of her passing, Mom and Roma had published 15 volumes of translations of Ukrainian literature into English, accomplishing this immense task after they both retired from the University of Saskatchewan. Roma translated, Mom edited, and I helped out with proofreading and the website.

Roma intends to publish five more volumes over the coming years that Mom had already worked on, and I will help Roma achieve that goal. It'll be a challenge filling Mom's shoes, but it's the least we can do to honour and respect her memory.

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

March 13, 2007

National Post Sows Descent

In today's National Post, the RCMP takes on the Mafia in Montreal, "sowing descent and confusion among gangsters."

I guess this means: "You're going down, punk!"

Posted by Paul at 09:39 AM

February 02, 2007

Strategy? Tactics? What Enemy?

From a listing for the History Channel on the Zap2It online channel lineup:

"Strategic bombing is the tactic of dropping explosives on the enemy nation."

Huh? At least we're not bombing ourselves...

Posted by Paul at 08:09 PM

August 09, 2006

National Post Melts Water

There was a puzzling headline on page A6 in the National Post today:

Arctic Waters Melting As Temperatures Pass Records


Posted by Paul at 12:07 PM

April 19, 2006

Writing, Editing and the 2010 Olympics

The BC branch of the Editors' Association of Canada featured a presentation on writing, editing and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at the April meeting tonight.

Sam Corea, Manager of Editorial Services for VANOC, the Vancouver Organizing Committee, talked about communications, media relations, and editorial services required by the Winter Games.

The amount of paperwork in terms of manuals, guides, maps, brochures, media kits, reports, schedules, etc., that needs to be produced is staggering, though Corea hastened to add that with sustainability being a major goal of the Games, VANOC was exploring alternatives to printing as much as possible, and would ensure that all materials were printed using recycled paper.

VANOC is already contracting external writers, editors, translators and photographers, and will be handing out work to more in the future, so Corea encouraged attendees to keep an eye on the VANOC website.

Other ways to get in on the action include the 2010 Commerce Centre and BC Bid

Posted by Paul at 10:49 PM

EAC Report-Writing Workshop

I attended a report-writing workshop put on by the BC branch of the Editors' Association of Canada today. The presenter was Diana Wegner, who teaches in the communications program at Douglas College.

The workshop had a stimulating mix of presentation time and excercises, and even though I do not do a lot of report writing, I found the material useful. It started with a review of research report components followed by a comparison of the writing process as opposed to creating a final product for the target readers, and then got into the nitty-gritty of revising for coherence.

I found Wegner to be a knowledgeable and stimulating presenter, and would recommend the workshop to anyone interested in clear research and writing.

Posted by Paul at 09:49 PM

January 18, 2006

'Fearless Freelancing' Guru Invigorates EAC Meeting

Speechwriter Colin Moorehouse gave a rousing talk at an Editors' Association of Canada meeting in Vancouver tonight.

Moorehouse runs the Fearless Freelancing website, on which he provides advice to freelance writers.

He said most editors undersell their services, often because clients do not understand or appreciate what they do. He pointed out that you are saving clients time, and time is more important than money. So the key is distinguishing how you help people solve problems that are frustrating them.

If you're a writer or editor, and you have a chance to hear Moorehouse speak, don't pass it up!

Posted by Paul at 10:24 PM

November 16, 2005

Open Source Media - Blogs Rule!

I ran across the Open Source Media site the other day. Its goal is to collect the best in blog reporting.

"At Open Source Media, we believe... that freedom, openness and transparency in media is an inevitable result of the technological advances that have given every citizen the chance to breathe deeply of the news, thought and opinion that hovers in the ether between us... the phenomenon of blogging... (is) the modern equivalent of the Gutenberg revolution, a way of putting not just published material in the hands of the public?but publishing itself."

I'm doing a paper on the effects of blogging on traditional media and corporate public relations for a media theory course I'm taking in my Master of Arts in Applied Communication program at Royal Roads University.

This supports my thesis that blogs are changing traditional mass media.

Posted by Paul at 08:05 PM

October 15, 2005

Going Back to School

I'm heading off to Victoria tomorrow to start my Master of Arts in Applied Communication program at Royal Roads University. The online distance-education program starts with an intensive three-week residency on campus, so I will likely be updating this blog even less often than I usually do.

Looking forward to being a student again, but a bit nervous about how this will fit into continuing to run my business over the next two years while I'm hitting the books. While the program is designed for people who are working full time, they say to expect 20-25 hours a week of study time.

Overall, I'm excited, though I hate to miss a good chunk of the salmon spawning season in Byrne Creek!

Posted by Paul at 08:38 PM

August 14, 2005

Accepted for Communication MA at Royal Roads

I was accepted into the Master of Arts in Applied Communication at Royal Roads University about ten days ago. I didn't blog about it, because it's still sinking in.

I'm really looking forward to the program, however it will be a big change in lifestyle for the next two years starting Oct. 17. The program is designed to be completed while working full time, with the courses said to take about 22 hours per week.

Each year of the two-year MA starts with an intensive 3-week residency on the beautiful Royal Roads campus in Victoria, BC, while the rest of the work is done online.

It's exciting and a bit scary going back to school after a 20-year hiatus. I aim to apply what I learn to growing my business, and anticipate making new friends and contacts.

Posted by Paul at 06:28 PM

June 16, 2005

Copy Editor in Deep Doo-Doo?

Of several errors in Jacob Richler's "The Scooter Diaries" article in today's National Post, the following one takes the cake:

"... I like Vespa's style -- because the first image the brand name conjures for me is a young Jean-Paul Belmondo, helmetless, tearing down some street in Rome with an unfiltered cigarette dangling from his lower lip and a babe hanging onto his waste..."


Posted by Paul at 09:58 AM

January 07, 2005

Review - The Canadian Writer's Guide

Review - The Canadian Writer's Guide, 13th Edition

This "Official Handbook of the Canadian Authors Accociation" is a collection of bite-sized articles on a wide variety of topics of interest to aspiring and published writers.

Ranging from prose to poetry, from the business of writing to finding an agent, it can be read cover to cover, or flipped through at leisure to find topics of interest. Articles range from a page to four pages in length.

It also contains extensive listings of writing groups, contests, and private and governmental funding sources.

Posted by Paul at 10:05 AM

August 31, 2004

Busy Summer Sees Blog Wither

Yikes, this blog has gone from near-daily posts to only nine so far in the month of August, and several of those have been rather short.

If I do have any "fans" out there, don't worry because in a way this is a good sign, for we've been very busy with work this summer. July and August both entered the list of top-ten earning months for our little company since we started it in February 2000.

It's nice to feel wanted, however we're back in the old home business dilema -- when you have plenty of free time you have little free cash flow, and when you're making money, you have no free time.

We have prevailed upon our major clients for a one-week camping vacation this autumn, and while we need the break, I also feel guilty as a few smaller clients are quite dependent upon our specialty of on-demand, fast-turnaround translation and editing.

I need a clone, or another translator-editor team I can trust to work to same-day in/out deadlines on occasion, using a variety of different style guides.

That's the other home business dilema -- at what point are you regularly earning enough to subcontract work out? Some months the hours pile up like crazy, however other months we've got plenty of time for streamkeeping activities and other volunteer work.

Well, the queue still has several items stacked up, so enough ruminating. Back to work.

Posted by Paul at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

July 07, 2004

Trying Open Office

I've been gradually trying out Open Office for word processing and spreadsheets. It saved my bacon the other day when a client sent me a file that kept crashing Word 2000.

I opened the file with Open Office Writer and started working on it. However, I soon discovered that I wasn't up to speed on OO, and I really needed to pump out the job quickly, so I saved the file and tried opening it again in Word, and voila, no more crashes.

One thing I've noticed that I miss in OO Writer is indication of cursor line and column position on the status bar. I get a lot of work editing newspaper articles, and I need to know these stats for headline length, etc.

I searched the OO website, and discovered that OO Writer can't do that, yet. However my search didn't turn up if the team plans to add the feature. I hope they do!

Posted by Paul at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2004

Free Writing at EAC Session

We arrived home in Burnaby last night after a couple of days camping on the road back from the Editors' Association of Canada conference in Calgary last weekend.

I'll post a few entries over the next day or two about our travels, however first I'd like to share a free-writing excercise from the conference. We were asked to write "to" a thing, keeping our pens moving non-stop as soon as they hit the paper. I chose computers.

To computers: You seduced me with your power, the magic of green or yellow characters dancing across a screen. You let me combine work with play, and even let a bit of that adolescent hot-rodder continue to express himself into middle age with gigahertz instead of horsepower, graphics cards instead of mag wheels, oodles of RAM instead of Edelbrock intake manifolds. You have made me dependent upon you to put a roof over my head and keep it there. Without you, my business would die. You make me uncomfortable because while initially you empowered me, I am now almost totally dependent upon you. That's why I'm eagerly looking forward to spending three days camping on my way home, far out of WiFi and cell phone range, isolated from email and clients. Three days of freedom before I am bathed in the glow of your screen again, mesmerized.

Posted by Paul at 06:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2004

Editors' Association Conference - Report 2

The Editors' Association of Canada annual conference continued today on the SAIT campus in Calgary.

I attended several useful sessions in the afternoon, followed by the annual general meeting, which was run efficiently, yet with humour.

As with any non-profit association, there were calls for volunteers, however as this is my first year in the group, I kept my head down. I already volunteer with the Stream of Dreams Murals Society and the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, which is enough. :-)

We just got back from a great banquet, which was enlivened, or disrupted, depending on one's point of view, by the sixth game in the Stanley Cup finals. Unfortunately, Calgary lost in double overtime, so there was no point in heading downtown after the banquet....

We enjoyed interesting conversations with many people, and look forward to a couple more sessions before the conference winds up tomorrow afternoon.

Posted by Paul at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

Editors' Association Conference - Report 1

We went to the opening reception for the Editors' Association of Canada annual conference yesterday evening on the SAIT campus in Calgary.

It was my first conference, and it was interesting to start putting faces to some of the names that appear from all over the country on the association mailing list.

My wife and I met many friendly and vocal people.

This morning Alberta Lieutenant-Governor Lois Hole gave a rousing keynote address on the importance of public education and libraries. It was an inspirational speech, ending with her saying she looked forward to the day when teachers and librarians were rewarded as well as hockey players. :-)

(Editors were later assured there would be a TV in a corner of the room with the volume off during tonight's banquet, which coincides with game 6 -- Go Flames!)

The first session I attended today was "Can Editing be Taught" with a panel made up of Kathy Garnsworthy, Maureen Nicholson, Frances Peck, Rosemary Shipton and Ruth Wilson.

It was entertaining and informative, with the conclusion being "yes and no." Some skills can be taught -- the craft side of the profession, however others may be innate -- the art side.

I look forward to more sessions this afternoon.

Posted by Paul at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

Silly Error Appears in Maclean's Japan Story

Why do western newspapers and magazines continue to publish cutesy stories about Japan without checking facts?

In the April 26, 2004, Maclean's, Steve Burgess writes: "Such unusual touches and jarring cultural snapshots have caused westerners to put Japan under a microscope for years." OK, one would assume that he would then have a passing acquaintance with his subject.

However, he later states: "Japanese writing features three different sets of characters. One of them is reserved exclusively for spelling out things that are not Japanese, such as the signs of foreign-owned restaurants." Not true.

If you look at the main photograph accompanying the article, it shows several Japanese companies displaying their names in katakana, the script that is supposedly reserved only for foreign words, or even in English characters, for huge outdoor advertisements.

I have beside me a Japanese-language catalog from electronics retailer Yodobashi Camera from my last trip to Japan a few months ago. The Yodobashi Camera logo is in katakana. Inside the catalog names of leading Japanese companies including Sony, Nikon, Canon, etc., are rendered in katakana, or simply in English characters.

Better take another look into that microscope!

Posted by Paul at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2004

Eight Step Editing with Jim Taylor

I attended Jim Taylor's informative and entertaining "Eight Step Editing" workshop today that was put on by the BC branch of the Editors' Association of Canada.

It was well worth the $90 fee. I won't steal Jim's thunder, I'll just say that anyone who has to write or edit anything would benefit from this workshop.

Jim has an excellent 76-page booklet that he hands out to participants, which contains plenty of excercises that are done in the workshop, and at home.

He puts on an excellent presentation, full of humour and wit, and leaves participants begging for more.

Highly recommended!

Posted by Paul at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2004

Review - Start and Run a Copywriting Business

Start and Run a Copywriting Business
by Steve Slaunwhite

Another how-to book in the Self-Counsel Press small business series.

Our business is mostly translating and editing, however I found this book a valuable read. Much of it applies to any freelance creative business.

Lots of good tips on setting rates, getting organized, marketing and promotion, and dealing with clients.

Posted by Paul at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2004

Those Pesky Bits and Bytes

The National Post screwed up bits and bytes in the Feb. 26 paper in an article on broadband ISP download speeds.

They took the data from broadbandreports.com which clearly states that it is measuring kilobits, however somehow all the references in the article became kilobytes. They further screwed things up by defining kilobytes per second as "kbps" which in fact is kilobits per second.

There is a good explanation of download "speed" on the broadbandreports.com site.

Posted by Paul at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2004

The Business of Writing & Editing

I gave my wife the best Valentine's Day present she's had in years -- the whole day to herself, while I attended an Editors' Association of Canada workshop :-).

John Vigna presented "Thinking Like an Entrepreneur: Growing Your Writing & Editing Business." As I recall, John has been running a writing and editing business for about three years now, and appears to have picked up a lot more business sense in that period than some of us who have been toiling away on keyboards for much longer.

Business plans? Managing cash flow? Marketing? Networking? All topics I suspect most creative types don't like to think about, yet that are crucial to success.

John told us about how he'd had a stellar rookie year, with gross sales that far surpassed his expectations, and then how in his second year he'd slacked off on his marketing and soon found himself pinching pennies.

By focusing on marketing basics, he pulled himself back up, and during the workshop he ran us through those basics, plus a number of excercises to see how we were doing, and where we needed to improve our business skills.

I can relate to John, as we too started out strong, had a stellar second year, and then became complacent, only to see sales slide for two consecutive years.

So it's back to the basics. We have to write a new business plan, and update it regularly. We have to devote more time to marketing instead of waiting for work to find us.

What a great way to spend Valentine's Day! My wife, who is also my business partner, got the day to herself, and I came home charged up with new plans for making money. How romantic :-).

Posted by Paul at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2004

The Discipline of Working at Home

There was a business tip from local publisher and internationally known speaker Peter Legge in the Vancouver Sun the other day.

He pointed out that if you get up an hour earlier every day, that gives you 365 more hours a year, or 15 extra days per year, to accomplish your goals. Well, duh. But the simple math got me thinking -- and feeling guilty.

My wife and I run a home-based translating and editing business, and if there are no pressing deadlines, it's seductively easy to roll over for another hour when the alarm goes off. With no commute, and no fixed starting time, it's also easy to watch some 1 1/2-star movie on the TV past midnight.

We talked about this, remembering with amazement the days when we had full-time jobs in Tokyo and got up at 6:00, made and ate breakfast, packed lunches, and trotted out the door at 7:15 to catch the train downtown.

What's happened to us? Wouldn't we like to have 15 extra days a year? Hell, with our present level of discipline, we could shoot for 30 extra days a year!

I used to scoff at all the tricks people who work from home say they use to maintain discipline and to remain focused on work. I now realize we've been in a long, slow, nearly imperceptible slide that has accumulated over the years.

So it's back to business.

When the alarm goes off, I will get up.

Thanks, Peter.

Posted by Paul at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2004

Creative Rates vs Trade Rates

A plumber paid us a two-hour visit today, and the labor charge came to C$162.50. That's C$65.00 for the first half-hour, and then C$65.00/hour for the balance.

I don't begrudge paying a professional tradesperson to do something that would likely take me two or three times as long to accomplish, and perhaps with questionable results. What gets my goat is that while the average person swallows paying a plumber or car mechanic such rates, quotes for translation or editing that are anywhere near that hourly figure draw gasps of surprise.

I know a plumber has years of training and thousands of dollars worth of tools. So does an editor. I have a total of seven years of university, and thousands of dollars worth of computers, software, and reference books.

Dealing with companies or other people in the trade is fine, and in the end I gross at least as much per hour as the plumber does, and on many jobs even more. It's the calls from Jane Public who needs help with a resume that irk me. Why would she think she could pay me less than, say, an electrician?

Part of the problem is the hundreds of less-than-professional editors and translators out there who are willing to work for a pittance. By selling out for 8 cents a word for translation, or $15.00/hour for editing, they demean our craft.

Posted by Paul at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)