I know it’s not Monday, but…

I’ve been telling myself since very early this morning that today is NOT Monday–it’s Wednesday.  No matter, it’s been a functional Monday.  First my secondary monitor was displaying everything with a distinct blue (very blue) tint–not good.  I need the extra display for this project.  Then MSWord crashed several times–I’m embedding the index in MSWord documents.  Did the Office Diagnostic thing…better.  The I got a phone call that said I had to go sign something on my grade rosters that had been missed.  Back again.  MSWord crashed again…error report…suggested fixes completed.  Finally, to work.

This is a fun project–excerpts from The Polar Times starting in 1936 to date (with a hiatus between 1985 and 1993) to go into a book. The challenge is making my entries reflect the excerpts–so that it’s a useful source of information about what is in the book–not what might be in the entire article–that will come later in the cumulative index.  A lot of the excerpts are from newspapers, so sometimes it’s a challenge to decide how to word the entry.  I know, I alluded to this in my last post–but this morning was being especially challenging, especially since I’m having to do a lot of serious editing on my first pass through these documents.  There was lots of pacing, type it, delete, it; rephrase it….

No amount of coffee was helping so I decided that maybe I needed a break.  I’ve been at this pretty steadily for two weeks except for this past Friday.  I was thinking that it was a run-away-from-home day, if I could think of some place that I wanted to run to.

That problem solved itself–a friend called to say she needed to go plant shopping for one of her clients.  Did I want to go along?  I readily abandoned the computer and went.  After an afternoon of wandering through Durham Garden Center and Niche Gardens, it no longer feels like a Monday.

The compromise is that I’ll be up extra early in the morning, but I think I’ll have much less trouble finding the right words now.  Sometimes some time away is necessary–and that can sometimes be difficult to do when you’re working freelance, and from home. I’m glad that I did decide to “run away from home” today:  I’ve reread the entries that I made this morning, and done some editing, and I think I’ll be more efficient in the morning.

red and yellow-green blossoms
Indian Pink

I came home with a lovely plant–and Indian Pink (Spigella marillandica) which I look forward to enjoying in the garden.  I had a relaxing lunch with my friend before we went to Niche Gardens, and just strolling around there and looking at all the plants and landscaping was so invigorating, but still relaxing.  Now I need to find some part shade to plant it so that on shorter breaks I can still enjoy it.

Now–time to think indexing again!  (As I finish this, I’m listening to some vigorous thunder approaching–which reminds me that I have to see about improving my surge protection for the computer…another of the things you have to think about for the home office, and the laptop needs a new battery) and…sometimes it’s necessary to run away from home for a bit.

How do you phrase that?

The Polar Times
“The Polar Times”

I’m working on the index for a collection of excerpts from “The Polar Times” to be published in book form–kind of hitting the high spots from 1936 to date.  Most of the excerpts are from newspaper articles that were reprinted in “The Polar Times”.  This has provided some interesting possibilities in terms of entries.

An example from today’s work: an article from “The New York Times” (part of an obituary) about an engineer who spent a lot of his life promulgating a theory that the accumulation of ice in the Antarctic icecap could actually tip the earth, causing catastrophic floods, et cetera.  How do you phrase that?

Then there was another article about climatologists suggesting that the Arctic icecap could actually melt; or the suggestion that the Antarctic actually precipitates pollution out of the air?  I’m sure it will be much easier doing the cumulative index where I’ll be dealing with the entire article and not just excerpts from it.  I wonder if those are famous last words?

No matter the difficulty of the phrasing decisions, it’s fascinating reading!  What a great thing to get paid for!

A good break is…

Even when you have an ergonomically sound workstation, you need to do more for prevention. Some precautions on your part will help prevent strain and/or overuse syndromes. There is something very simple you can do to help prevent overuse:  just take a break!  It’s that simple, and your computer can even help you do it!

I hear you saying that you just get engrossed in what you are doing and “forget”.  That is no excuse–your computer can help you! There are a number of programs available that will remind you to take a break; some of those are even free! Others that are available for a moderate cost will allow more customization optimization to fit how you work, when and how often to remind you that you need to take a break. Some will even give you preventative stretching exercises to do during the breaks.

I feel that I can lecture on prevention because I didn’t do it until after the symptoms of carpal tunnel and Guyon canal compression had set in.  After having had hand surgery twice, I had to do recovery which is so much more painful, so much harder and longer than prevention would have been.

What is a “good” break?  It’s not the one you take when you are already in pain.  It’s a break that you take to prevent pain from occurring.

Laptop versus lap

I  posted some time ago about preventing loss of work by cat-proofing your computer with PawSense.  This is just an update on my experiences with cat and computer. The PawSense software really does protect work–it responds very quickly to cat-like typing.

I worked through the selection of sounds to “annoy” the cat and  chase him off the keyboard.  For some of the sounds, he simply sat down (on the keyboard) and looked at the speakers. Frankie and I have finally decided that the “not opera”  is what he likes least.  He has quickly learned where to put his feet so he was not activating the sound very often, and with some coaxing on my part, he’s now more readily moving from laptop to lap, and more and more frequently, straight to lap.

If you have a computer-loving cat, I’d definitely recommend this software–it’s both effective and inexpensive.

Index for “The Polar Times”

It’s a relief to have a cat-proof computer as I’m now editing/proofreading scanned excerpts from The Polar Times for a 75th anniversary publication.  The excerpts are coming to me as MS Word documents.  I’m doing some formatting and checking for OCR errors, and preparing an index.

My indexing software, CINDEX®, is making the embedding easy!  It’s a “drag and drop” process.  It’s fortunate that these are short excerpts for the most part; these have to be imported into InDesign–so I’m glad that there are not a lot of page ranges to deal with.

I’m glad to have the WorkPace® software installed as well–it’s very easy to keep working longer than I should without taking a break!  Very glad to have my computer making my life easier (and healthier)! And automatic back up of my work with Carbonite!

Cat-proof computer!

Quite some time ago, I posted about assessing the risk of losing work, cat proofing software, and backup of work.  At the time  the Keiko (the cat who was with me until 15 December 2011) just was not really a threat when it came to walking on the keyboard.  Sadly, Keiko had adenocarcinoma of the ileum and is no longer with me.

Ginger cat on laptop keyboard.Her successor has turned out to be a keyboard lover!  So–I’ve installed PawSense®–for obvious reasons.

I have to say that it installed easily.  It doesn’t seem to affect the speed of the computer.  It works.

Ginger tabby cat on keyboardIt comes with a selection of sounds, some that certainly seem as if they should be annoying to a cat–they are certainly annoying to me!  (That is not a complaint since I do really want Frankie to stay off the keyboard.) It even has the option for you to record your own your own message to said cat if you wish.

Cat grooming on keyboard of laptopIt reacts quickly when the paws hit the keys, locking the computer, and making noises at the cat.  (Is it obvious from the pictures why I installed this software?)

Once the cat is off the keyboard it’s easy for me to get access to the computer again–I can click the button that says “Let me use the computer” or I can type “human” into the little box at the bottom of the screen.  (I usually click the button, especially early in the morning lest the computer mistake me for the cat.)

I have to say that it’s inexpensive too!  The CD arrived promptly in the mail. (It’s not downloadable.)  It’s available for Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and 7.

It has a screen saver mode for when you’re not at the keyboard, but the computer is still on.

Right now I’m using the “not annoying” sound–simply a rather pleasant masculine voice saying “Get off the keyboard.” a few times, followed by a yawn that seems to say you’re interrupting my work.  Volume of the sounds is easily adjusted–I started low and have worked it up.

Ginger tabby with green eyesThis software, coupled with me getting up and walking away when cat hits keys is effectively keeping my work intact and seems to be training Frankie to stay off the keyboard.  (I really think that he’s trying to replace my RSI-prevention break-time software–WorkPace®!) Since I can’t imagine not having a cat in the house, I’m pleased to have the computer safe from Frankie until he learns to be a bit more selective about where he places his paws!

“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” – Jean Cocteau

I’ve had an interesting work day–The Polar Times is fascinating to read the scanned excerpts–even proofreading.  It should be even better while doing the index when I can read entire articles.

But I had some unexpected help–this is NOT my idea of break-timer “software”, nor  adult supervision.

Ginger tabby (large) lying on my laptop keyboard.