The best laid plans of mice and men…and of Suzelle…

Several months ago, I wrote a post about how I was going to take an EFA class on macros in April. Macros, for those of you who are unfamiliar with them, are keyboard shortcuts tied to commands in MS Word. They make an editor’s work go faster and the editor more efficient. And I am all about efficiency in my work and learning how to improve it.

I shuffled my long-term schedule around to accommodate the six weeks during which I would be taking the class. The class was to be from April 18 to May 29.

Alas, last week I received an email from the EFA saying that, unfortunately, the macros class could not begin in April. It would begin later in the year, but not before the end of May.

I understand that things come up in the lives of people and organizations. I am not angry at all about this. Nor am I cursing anyone or anything for it.

I am, however, rather torn. You see, my husband and I have a vacation scheduled for Thursday, June 23 through Sunday, June 26–our first vacation in three years (thanks to the pandemic). We have already put down a deposit at the hotel, and only 75 percent of that deposit is refundable. I am all about complete separation between work and leisure time, and I refuse to take my laptop to this beach hotel and work on my classwork and homework for the class there. Work time is work time; leisure time is leisure time.

On the other hand, I run the risk of falling behind in the class (albeit slightly, but still…) if I do not work on it for four days in a week. And if that week ends up being the first week of class, I am in deep doo-doo.

Bottom line: I have already been in touch with a super-helpful EFA staff member about refunds, and they assured me that the EFA will accommodate refunds when the new class dates are announced. If the new six-week class period overlaps with my vacation, I will be forced to ask for a refund, for the good of both the class and my vacation. After that, I will keep my eyes peeled for when the class will be offered again. I really hope it will be.

And so goes the work/life balance–a very important thing.

Malicious intent?

I studied science. I have a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in biochemistry.

I know that cancer begins with the genes in a cell. The genes cause changes that make the cell cancerous.

Likewise, I know that a virus contains either DNA or RNA (not both, as in a cell). And the DNA or RNA in a virus can mutate. That is how, for example, we get variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19).

Now, this is where you might think I’m crazy. I sometimes wonder if the genes in cells and viruses are somehow sentient and know what pain and trouble they will cause people when they mutate. For example, one cell in Jenny’s breast tissue might be saying, “Hmmm. I think that in this gene, I will swap a guanine for a cytosine. Let’s see if that teaches her to wear such tight bras!” Bad, bad cell.

Or if the SARS-CoV-2 virus is saying, “Hmmm. Those people think they have beaten me with their vaccines, huh? I’ll just change an adenosine to a thymine over here, and…BAM! The vaccine won’t work and people will suffer again.”

Okay, I admit, that’s weird talk. I know that genes don’t think.

This is where this post turns serious.

Today would have been the 60th birthday of a friend who succumbed to cancer in 2019. He was taken too soon. I remember his funeral at our church: the huge auditorium was close to filled, the worship band played such powerful songs, his children and business partner and wife (a close friend of mine) gave eulogies.

Cancer is such a jerk. My mother survived it and, thankfully, is now in remission, but it made her suffer a great deal and I remember watching her suffer. It wasn’t easy on anyone in the family, especially Mom.

COVID, too, is a jerk. I don’t personally know anyone who died or was hospitalized from it, but I know of people who did. One gentleman I know spoke to me of a young man he knew who was afflicted with the disease. His ventilator was removed only because he had no hope of living and the hospital needed the ventilator for a person who did have hope. And I still can’t get over seeing images on TV of huge refrigerators being used to store bodies.

Sometimes I wish genes could think–specifically, of the horrible potential damage they can do just by mutating one nucleotide base pair. (There is a large number of diseases that can also be caused by gene mutations; it would take days to write about all of them, but the people who have these diseases suffer just as much, if not more.) Then maybe the genes would think twice before they mutate.

Just thinking.

Job searching: Not for the faint of heart

Please allow me to talk a little about my past.

Once upon a time, I was unemployed. I had left the world of laboratory work (or, more accurately, the world of laboratory work chewed me up and spit me out) and I was left jobless. Wanting to continue being a productive member of society, I began job hunting.

I’m sure that everyone today knows that this is done online; long gone are the days of physically going to a potential employer’s office and filling out an application. If you try this today, you will most likely hear, “Go to our website and apply online.”

I have had varying experiences with online applying.

One very popular job board today is I used this a great, great deal during my job searching days, and it has come a long way since I used it regularly. These days, it can show you the details of a job you are interested in while still showing you the results of your keyword search in another half of the screen. I think this is genius. Back when I was using it, I had to click on the Back button of my browser to get back to my search results from the details of a certain job. Indeed also allows you to create a resume for use on their site–a feature which I have never used, since I like to write my own resume and include it with each job application.

Another popular choice is LinkedIn. Besides being a good form of social media (although at times it does resemble Facebook), LinkedIn has a feature in which you, after setting up your profile, can browse jobs which match your profile. Some of the jobs will even allow you to apply with just your LinkedIn profile. Many, however, will want your profile plus other items, such as a resume and cover letter; some will even want you to fill out an online application as well. Bottom line: if you have a LinkedIn profile (and, in my opinion, you should), make sure to keep it up to date!

The most luck I had while job searching, however, was to look at jobs which were on the company/organization’s own website. Many job postings lurk there while not being found on Indeed, LinkedIn, or other job boards. If you need help deciding on a company whose website to search for jobs, look at the companies that come up on LinkedIn or Indeed, or run a Google search for, say, “Cancer research organizations.”

And what about and They are SO two decades ago. Don’t bother with them.

I wish you the best!

Pass the crow. I’ll have seconds.

One could file the following post under “How should I have known?”

I was contacted by a graduate student from an unnamed institution this past week (because of the name and nationality, I could not tell the student’s gender, so I will refer to the student as “they.”) They had a master’s thesis that they wanted copyedited, and the topic (molecular biology) was right up my alley. They also said they were given my name by their advisor. Sounded great, right? Well…There were several things about the email request that concerned me.

First, the student did not address me by name.

Second, they did not name their educational institution or give their advisor’s name.

Third, the email originated from a address, not an address from any kind of institution.

Fourth, the deadline was rather tight.

So, saying “Better safe than sorry,” I turned the job down, telling the student that I did not believe I was the ideal editor for their work and wishing them well. I also showed the email to the Editorial Freelancer’s Association Discussion List to get my colleagues’ opinion on whether this request was legit.

The good people at the EFA did some excellent detective work and found out which institution the student was from and their advisor’s name. So let us found out where I went wrong:

  1. They may have not addressed me by name because they could not tell my gender from my name.
  2. A address is legitimate; the student may only be using their school email address for communication with faculty and other students.
  3. Many students who are unfamiliar with copyediting underestimate the time it will take to do so.

Therefore, I lost out on a gig. I am wiser for next time, and hoping my reputation has not been tarnished.

Onwards and upwards.