Friday, March 28, 2008

Inquiring minds

Someone viewed the profile and asked the not unreasonable question "What is opera metal?"

Short answer -- it's head banging done by actual musicians.

Swallows return to Capistrano

and flip flops and high water pants (capris, clam diggers, whatever) to offices in Atlanta. You know it's really Spring when the sound of flip flops is heard throughout the land.

I grew up in a part of the country where we all called flip flops "thongs" but I've figured out that most of the world now associates something other than footwear with that particular term.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fighting Words

John Dolan at Alternet has some interesting suggestions on language. I like the proposed bumper stickers -- now all I need is the hybrid to slap them on.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Fun and games


The above is positive proof on-line quizzes are total nonsense.

I would, however, run the category Potent Potables on Jeopardy.

March is a strange month

Or maybe Georgia is a strange state.

Yesterday we were walking around jacketless while admiring azaleas. Today it's snowing.

The azaleas are blooming

I always wondered why people would make such a big deal out of "when the azaleas are blooming." They don't grow in the U.P. so I'd never really seen them outside the context of a potted plant in a florist's shop. They did grow in some of the places we've lived, but not in the masses you find in warmed climates. Yesterday we visited Callaway Gardens, a private botanical garden/recreational area over near Columbus. Now I know why people rave about azaleas. A few photos the S.O. took:
These are from an area known as the Overlook Garden. It was the original azalea garden at Callway so the bushes have had 55 years in which to grow. They have a newer space, too, that covers about 40 acres and is quite pretty but it hasn't had as long a time in which to fill out. I didn't know azaleas could form clumps twice my height.
This bush isn't an azalea, obviously, but it does have interesting flowers.
Callaway Gardens was an interesting place. I'll do a compare and contrast (private recreational area vs public spaces) later in the week.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Given a choice, I prefer snow

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has articles and links about the weekend's dramatic weather. None of it happened in our neighborhood. I'm told by people who live elsewhere in the country that CNN had interesting coverage of themselves trying to cope with tarps draped over computers, but I never watch CNN on the weekend so wouldn't know.

I guess that could be the ultimate in no-work journalism -- just sit at the news desk and talk about your own broken windows.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Yes, we recycle

Also known as "the day The Crusher came" back in August 2006.

Checking to see if it'll fit. . .

Going. . .
So much for the Pimp My Ride fantasy.

It is, by the way, amazing just how much old iron can be found hiding in the bushes on a U.P. farm.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Modern marvels

Just discovered what the organization in which I am embedded is doing to save the planet, stave off global warming, and prevent ecological disaster in general: they have switched to using "coreless toilet paper" in the rest rooms. According to the information sheet taped to the ladies' room mirror the switch to "coreless" TP is going to save 1.3 trees annually. Wow. I shouldn't mock the effort, but 1.3 trees? I'm not sure that's worth bragging about. Does that mean the pulp savages doing the harvesting are going to be instructed to leave extremely tall stumps because the whole tree is no longer needed? And is it 1.3 trees per stall, per rest room, per building, or for the entire office park this particular company manages?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Welcome to Daylight Savings Time

Well, I managed to keep my eyes open until lunch, but it's going to take a few more shots of caffeine to get me through the rest of the day.

Friday, March 7, 2008

What makes a good editor?

Editing should be, especially in the case of old writers, a counseling rather than a collaborating task. The tendency of the writer-editor to collaborate is natural, but he should say to himself, ''How can I help this writer to say it better in his own style?'' and avoid ''How can I show him how I would write it, if it were my piece?'—James Thurber
Lately I've been thinking about what it is I do for a living. It's been the topic of relatively heated discussion around the proverbial water cooler, i.e, just how much meddling should we editors do in a paper just because we've got plenty of time to play with? If an author asks for a substantive edit when all that's actually needed is a proofreading, should we take that as license to go mucking about with their prose anyway? I say no, tempting though it sometimes is to turn into a collaborator rather than remaining a counselor.
To me, looking at editing from a writer's perspective, the best editors have always been the ones that after they'd tweaked my prose I couldn't tell it had been touched. I knew it had because the piece seemed a lot better after editing than it had before, but I couldn't quite figure out exactly what it was they had done that smoothed the lumps out. I firmly believe that when an author sees his or her work after it's been edited the reaction should be "Damn, I (the author) am good," and not "I wonder why the editor changed that section?" or "Where did that phrase come from? I'd never say that."
I don't know if I always succeed in being a decent editor, but I'm starting to have repeat business: authors have begun requesting me specifically when they submit requests for editorial services. I must be doing something right.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sunday in the park

This weekend the Significant Other and I finally got around to visiting one of the several National Park sites located either in or close to Atlanta. I'd been procrastinating, didn't want rip the scab off the still-festering sore created by leaving the best job I've ever had, but decided the time had come to face the pain directly. Given a choice between two historic parks, Martin Luther King jr NHS and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, and a recreational area, Chattahoochee River NRA, the river won.

I must confess a fondness for river parks anyway. While working in the Midwest Region I found myself hitting most of the river and water parks – Apostle Islands and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshores, both on Lake Superior, Saint Croix NSR in Wisconsin, Buffalo National River in Arkansas, Ozark NSR in Missouri and even the Niobrara NSR in Nebraska – as a routine part of the job. I was definitely curious about the Chattahoochee as compared to other streams I have known it's not a particularly attractive river. The glimpses I've had of it or its tributaries (I cross North Peachtree Creek twice a day as I walk to and from work) left an impression of watercourses that came real close to qualifying as open ditch sewers. The river's color made the Missouri look clean and there was usually highly visible trash either floating in the water or lodged on the banks. I was a little dubious that any of the park's units that fall within the Atlanta metropolitan area (and most of them do) would ever merit a second visit.

I was wrong. The Island Ford unit, which is in the general vicinity of Roswell, is quite nice. I have no doubt it can feel as congested as any typical city park on a nice spring or summer day, but we were there early enough in the season that the trails weren't jammed with joggers or dog walkers. There were about half a dozen fishermen trying their luck in the river (the Chattahoochee is a trout stream, a fact that astounds me) and several families with kids ambling around. I did spot one person out on the river in a river kayak, and am told that people do tube it and canoe it with great enthusiasm in the summer. Having seen real rivers (e.g., the Saint Croix, the Buffalo), I'm not sure I'd ever want to float the Chattahoochee, but I will concede it doesn't look quite as nasty up close as it does from highway overpasses.

The Island Ford unit isn't particularly large, but it does encompass enough land to have a decent trail system – you can experience a variety of terrain as you have a choice of ambling along paralleling the river or doing some loops that have you walking up and down some fairly steep hillsides. If it's representative of the other units making up the Chattahoochee any of them should be worth a day trip. Next time I think we'll try the unit that includes what the park map notes as "paper mill ruins."

Island Ford is home to the park's visitor center and headquarters. The building is a nice 1930s rustic log lodge built originally as a private residence. The offerings in the book store were a little thin, at least when it came to books for adults, but the kids' section was great.
The visitor use assistant/park guide/interpretive ranger/whatever they're calling the underpaid staff at the information desk was knowledgeable, but, no surprise here, a term employee who's considering leaving NPS for a job with more security. We commiserated about being torn between love of the parks and a desire for a steady paycheck. Some things never change.