Saturday, February 28, 2015

Am I Certifiable?

This has been a busy week. Teaching most of the week, along with a pile of meetings, including one to discuss succession planning at the publisher I volunteer for; plus general midterm busyness. Then the weekend in Toronto for a three-day meeting to discuss editorial certification and professional standards. I've reached Saturday feeling pretty wiped out.

I have worked as an editor for so long that I rarely think about my profession as a profession. The certification meeting has prompted me to do so. How should a body test prospective editors seeking to demonstrate that they have the skills to work successfully and appropriately as they enter the profession? A wholly knowledge-based test is likely insufficient, as there might be limited or no demonstration of actual skills; and a practice-based test, such as the exams I've marked in the past for one certifying body, is probably too rigorous for entry-level purposes. We want to demonstrate competence or proficiency, but not necessarily excellence. (A demonstration of excellence is the aim of the full certification exams.)

Do employers want to see confirmation of competence? Apparently they do.

Based on my experiences as an instructor of editing and publishing, I know that many students who leave my classroom, and my colleagues' classrooms, do not possess the knowledge, the skills, or the aptitudes to be successful professional editors — yet that doesn't deter some of them. And I've also met many writers who think that, because they work with words, they're inherently editors. Not every writer is an editor, and not every editor is a writer, although we have things in common. Perhaps a test of competencies would be valuable for writers who market themselves as writer/editors. And perhaps the same test would be valuable for people reaching retirement age who think they'd like to "dabble" in editing as an income supplement. I've taught a handful of potential dabblers over the years, as have my colleagues; as professionals, we need the dabblers to know there's more to editing than adding and deleting commas.

So perhaps an objective, knowledge-based test — an instrument that requires a degree of judgement as well as a thorough general knowledge of grammar, language vocabulary, publishing process, and basic editorial conventions — is something the market wants, or at least could use. I hope so: it's what I spent several hours discussing with national editing colleagues today. And I was surprised to discover it's something I have a strong opinion about. I'm no great fan of certification in general, but given that national editing societies are issuing statement of professional standards, then some form of testing for competency or proficiency seems warranted. All the better if, at least for our committee's purposes, the competency testing becomes a pathway to long-term professional development and even certification of excellence. (Frankly, that's not for me; and I doubt I could pass the certification exams anyway: they're much harder than anything I do in real life.)

When I was starting out as an editor, it was one of the last apprenticeship professions. That is, the best way to become an editor was at the elbow of an experienced editor. I have been lucky to have had great mentors along my professional journey (as well as some poorer supervisors who were instructive nonetheless). There was no coursework in editing when I was an undergrad, but I read every resource I could put my hands on — and I continue to do so. Today, of course, there is robust undergrad, diploma, and post-degree education in editing right across Canada. But as one of my heroes, Betsy Lerner, observes, the only person who really knows (at least in the context of book editing, my home turf) whether an editor edits, and edits well, is the author. And that doesn't seem right today, given the high stakes in book publishing specifically and in communications generally.

I'm pleased to find my feathers a little ruffled by the idea of competency testing. Going into this weekend's meeting, I would have said I would never be in favour of such testing. (In fact, I completed a survey to express exactly such a position.) Today, my position sits on the other side of the circle. I think that's personal growth, right?

 Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Things that make me smile

It's the last day of Reading Week and I'm procrastinating. Have accomplished only a fraction of the goals I'd set for myself. Am anxious about the remaining eight weeks of school. So I thought I'd post some pictures of things that make me smile.

1. The boys: Queen E, 1986, across from my locker. They're all still characters.

2. Graffito: Not sure the year, but Earl snapped this on Whyte Avenue. It refers to the former premier, and I heartily endorsed the sentiment. (I wish I also had a picture of the graffito on Rice Howard Way from the 1980s, "Young People Speaking Their Minds" — it never occurred to me to take a photo of it.)

3. Good people: This is the group that travelled to Toronto and Montreal in May 2006 to look at models for our future building. Good people, good memories.

4. More good people: Two of my grads in Victoria earlier this month. The Marks, looking good!

 Ahhhh. That does feel better.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Family Day 2015

In honour of Family Day, here's another photo post—with an obvious theme.

1. My great-grandparents: These are my Riverdale relatives, Stephen Nicholas (born 1891) and Antonina Gregorievna (born 1896). "Nina" died years before I was born, but Stephen lived until 1975. If I met him, I have no memory of doing so; he had a stroke in 1969 and was bedridden for the rest of his life.

2. My father as a boy: The woman holding the baby is my aunt Nettie, so I'd guess the setting is Riverdale again. I see myself in my father's suspicious look at the camera

3. My father as a teen: My father was seventeen when this picture was taken—at least, according to the photo itself; according to my grandmother's annotations, it was taken in June 1961, when he was still (barely) sixteen. I don't know who the young woman is—not my mother, but likely a friend of my uncle Jack or a relative of my grandmother's second husband.

4. Zak in Victoria: This picture was taken in May 1992; Zak is nine months old and already a smiley baby. There are many adorable photos of Zak from this series; someone gave a copy of this one to my grandmother.

5. Zak meets "Santa": It's really difficult to tell when (or where) this photo was taken. The Santa is Shane, so the location is related to Lone Pine; Zak looks to be two or three, so the year is probably 1993 or 1994. If I had to guess, I'd say the photographer was Mary O., one of the (few) sane and rational people who worked in that crew.

I wish you a happy day with your family, whether of birth or of choice.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Grammar as the warm-up

A participle and an infinitive walk into a bar, intending to drink.

Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They drink. They leave.

A dangling modifier walks into a bar. After finishing a drink, the bartender asks it to leave.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Four Thousand

On Wednesday I added book number four thousand to my catalogue on LibraryThing. Quite a personal landmark! Of those books, some 1,430 are tagged as unowned — books I've read but borrowed from the library or from another person. So my personal library is potentially more than 2,500 books. Bibliophilia? Ha ha. Check!

Some of my recent additions, both work related and of personal interest:

Just Getting Started: Edmonton Public Library's First 100 Years, Todd Babiuk

Sir, I Intend to Burn Your Book, Lawrence Hill

Built on Coal: A History of Beverly, Edmonton's Working Class Town, Lawrence Herzog

Looking for Alaska, John Green (special tenth-anniversary edition)

How Mothers Love and How Relationships Are Born, Naomi Stadlen

And oh, look: it's Reading Week next week! Good thing I'm well prepared.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Relatively Speaking

As I've written previously, I find my father's side of my heritage fascinating. I also love physical artifacts — a quality that teaching print studies has amplified. I'm currently intrigued by old photographs. Here are some of my paternal relatives. I enjoy both the details in these images and the photos as physical objects in themselves, particularly in the shades of contrast.

1. Great-Aunt Nettie: The girl in the centre is my aunt Nettie, which I believe is a diminutive from Natalya. She seems to have been one of my grandmother's favourite people, as there are many photos of her in my grandmother's collection. I didn't know Nettie, though. I would like to know where this picture was taken.

2. Great-Uncle Fred: What a great period photo! My uncle is the one at the right wearing the hat. I have no idea who the other fellows are. It looks like they're standing in an ice rink, although that's not logical. Again, no idea where this picture was taken; I just love the clothes and the attitude in the image.

3. Great-Uncle Fred (again): If you know a little Western Canadian history, you know that Eastern Europeans were not particularly welcome in Canada, and that sentiment persisted for a long time. Ukrainians — and others thought to be enemy aliens — were rounded up and held in prison camps during World War One — and not just men, either: entire families were interned in some cases. My paternal family is from somewhere in Belarus; my grandmother, born in Canada, identified as Russian, but Belarus is also bordered by Poland and Ukraine, so was likely considered "alien" by British Canadians. Just the same, my great-uncle apparently signed up to be a soldier in World War Two. I wonder how my grandmother felt about this. Her comments on the back of this photo are flattering — she notes how handsome my soldier-boy uncle is — but I'd like to know how she felt about the war and Canada's colonial participation in it.

4. Great-Uncle Paul: My great-uncle Paul also took part in World War Two, although I don't know whether he signed up before or after Fred. Paul married an English girl, Rosemary, an act that I know caused my grandmother great distress. I remember Paul; he didn't agree with my grandmother's ostracism of my parents and stayed in touch with my father for a few years after the great break.

5. My grandfather: He's the one on the left. This picture was taken in 1941; he was working on Lake Athabasca. Here's what my grandmother noted (on the back of a different photograph): "Bill [was] away commercial fishing from April till Oct. 1941. — I remember Bill wrote me a letter & talked about the Nazi invasion on the U.S.S.R. — firstly on Belorus [sic] which was home for him & our parents."

6. My grandmother: On this photo, my grandmother noted that she was fourteen or fifteen years old when it was taken and that her friend took it. This would be the early 1930s.

7. My grandmother (again): On this photo, my grandmother noted that she was fifteen or sixteen when it was taken. It must have been taken somewhere in Riverdale, but I don't have that detail. A few years later, she was married and a mother.

Since I started on this quest to learn more about my history, I've realized I have access to further resources (since all of these relatives are deceased). A history of Riverdale was published in the 1990s; it contains some of what I want to know. Must get my hands on that book — so I'm hoping my mother hasn't thrown away her copy. Just in case, I also contacted the publisher to ask whether they have a copy I could purchase. Curiosity and cats, you know...

Monday, February 02, 2015

These things I've done

Happy February! Here's hoping there will be only six more weeks of winter — and not the more usual eight or ten.

For today's post I've chosen a selection of photographs of things I've done.

1. Walked through downtown St Gallen (outside of Zurich, Switzerland): This picture was taken in November 2010. I love this bear; for a while, this bear was my Facebook avatar. I'd go back to Switzerland for the chocolate, the scenery, the history...

 2. Made a street mural: This is a view of the chalk whale we drew on our street with chalk; we did this in September 2011. We were going to make a dragon the following year, but the traffic grew too heavy to do it safely, even on a Saturday evening (maybe especially on a Saturday evening). Still, I think everyone in Edmonton should make a chalk street mural at least once. Up with public art!

3. Looked at Christmas lights in Highlands: This street is a destination for me, and people can see these tall treetops from blocks away. I have a picture of the trees and the lights closer to the house, but I like this streetscape from December 2011.

4. Found my cat on top of the cupboards: This is Artemis in the kitchen, April 2012. I can't think why she wanted to be on top of the cupboards, but here she is. Haven't caught her there lately.

5. Found my cat shredding paper: Who needs a paper shredder when you have an Artemis? She's organic and fully rechargeable, if somewhat random in her operation. This image is from July 2012, while my office was still in the front room but after the piano arrived.

6. Graduated from University: This is the view from the very front of the Jubilee Auditorium shortly before the beginning of the Fall Convocation in November 2012. A couple of hours later I crossed this stage and received my doctoral parchment.

7. Attended a dear friend's wedding: This is Gigi and Ryan's receiving line at their wedding in July 2013. It was an overcast day but a warm and beautiful ceremony, formally joining two wonderful people. Funny that our paths (that is, Gigi's and mine) should cross again so many years after I left the Forestry Association — but I'm so glad they did!

8. Helped make donuts: After years of our dreaming and scheming, in March 2014 C got the recipe for donuts from her mother. We procured a deep frying pan and pounds and pounds and pounds of lard. These donuts were very good, but so filling! Zak took the leftovers home and fed them to some candy kids, who could probably use all that fat and sugar.


9. Taken the ferry to Sointula: I love Malcolm Island! This picture of the ferry dock does not do justice to the charming socialist paradise that is Sointula. On the opposite side of the island is a pebble beach where orcas frequently rub — but regrettably they weren't there when I was there in June 2014. Next time!

Well, I've done a few others things, too, but these are some that I've enjoyed. Wonder what 2015 holds for me ...

Sunday, February 01, 2015

January tallies

Wow, January is over! The first month of the year passed in a blur. At this rate, it'll be Christmas before I know it.

• Number of individual tracks listened to: 2850 (of these, one song has more than ten plays, and ten songs have more than five plays)

• Number of books read: 11

• Number of chapters of ancillary materials remaining to submit: 6 (three test-bank chapters, three study guide chapters)

• Number of days spent in Vancouver: 3

Happy Super Bowl!