Publishing humor

(I don’t know who originally wrote these, but they’ve been circulating for a while and never fail to make me chuckle.)


Q: How many copy editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: I can’t tell whether you mean “change a light bulb” or “have sex in a light bulb.” Can we reword it to remove the ambiguity?

Q: How many editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Only one. But first they have to rewire the entire building.

Q: How many managing editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: You were supposed to have changed that light bulb last week!

Q: How many art directors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Does it HAVE to be a light bulb?

Q: How many copy editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: The last time this question was asked, it involved art directors. Is the difference intentional? Should one or the other instance be changed? It seems inconsistent.

Q: How many marketing directors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: It isn’t too late to make this neon instead, is it?

Q: How many proofreaders does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Proofreaders aren’t supposed to change light bulbs. They should just query them.

Q: How many writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: But why do we have to CHANGE it?

Q: How many publishers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Three. One to screw it in, and two to hold down the author.

Q: How many booksellers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Only one, and they’ll be glad to do it too, except no one shipped them any.



This has been a pretty rough winter. Nine snow days so far (including one six-day weekend in January and one five-day weekend in February), and it looks like we’ll be getting another one tomorrow.

A few weeks ago we had about 18″ of snow over a couple of days. It’s been slow to disappear—we still have about 3″ on the ground, though at least I can (finally!) see decent-sized patches of grass. We’re expecting 6-10″ tomorrow. Goodbye again, lawn!


Playing with fire

Many of you know that I’ve been doing pottery for the past few years. I had actually started it in grad school, when my tuition waiver made it possible for me to take Introduction to Ceramics for free. I lasted only a month in that class, however, because I didn’t have time for it: in addition to two four-hour classes per week, I was expected to do studio time as well—on top of my other coursework and teaching responsibilities. (Seriously, how do art students ever manage to graduate? It seems that every three-credit course requires at least fifteen hours of weekly in-class/studio time!)

I came back to pottery a few years ago and have been taking classes at a nearly studio/art school pretty regularly. I’m by no means skilled, but I am getting better! During my first couple of classes, I made a lot of the sorts of pieces that everyone calls “candy dishes” in attempts to make you feel better for producing a squat, lumpy, uneven bowl-like thing. (“Oh! That will make a great candy dish!”) I can turn out mugs pretty well (to the point that pretty much every time I through a 1 or 1.5 pound of ball of clay, it usually ends up as a mug—whether I want it to or not), and I’m not bad with small bowls. Plates continue to elude me, however. Still have a long way to go in that department.

The wood kiln, empty and ready for loading.

My studio uses electric kilns that fire to cone 6, which is considered mid-range. It’s great for the stoneware that most people use there, and the glaze results are pretty reliable. A few times a year, studio members have the option to participate in a wood-kiln firing. It takes a lot of time and work, since you don’t just plug it in and walk away for several hours. Instead, participants have to do all the work (most of which involves shoving small pieces of wood into fireboxes at regular intervals) themselves—and they have to pay an extra fee for the privilege, too.

Here's what my pots looked like after they were glazed but not yet fired.

The results can be amazing, however. After seeing some of the pieces that come out of our wood kiln, I decided to try it myself. So I signed up for the firing that took place over the first weekend of June.

There were eight of us involved with this firing. On Saturday we got together to prepare our pots (which we’d all glazed earlier in the week) by putting little balls of wadding (a special clay mixture) on the bottoms of the pots to keep them from sticking to the shelves and to allow flame and ash to pass under the pots. At the point, the kiln was completely empty, and as we loaded it we actually built the shelves (customizing their heights to suit the pots on them). And then we had to brick up the front door. All of this took about five hours.

There are three stacks of shelves in here, holding about 24 linear feet of pots.

On Sunday, we fired the kiln over about fourteen hours. We worked in shifts, so each person had to be there for only about eight or so hours. At the beginning, the goal is to build up the two coal beds slowly. By midday we picked up the pace, and by midafternoon we were stoking the fireboxes every minute or so. Temperature-wise, the firing went well: we reached our goal of cone 10 and nearly hit cone 11 (over 2300 degrees F) in one part of the kiln.

One of the two fireboxes.

It was hard work, though! (And 90 degrees F outside that day! Blech.) When I came home, even though I was covered in soot and ash and dirt and sweat and really wanted to take a shower, I sat on the kitchen floor for half an hour first, just to be still and not-hot for a little while.

Three days later, on Wednesday, we gathered to unload the kiln. As the door was removed and we started to catch glimpses of the interior, we could barely contain our excitement. This part was kind of like Christmas—over and over again, as the pieces were removed one at a time and examined by everyone. I think everyone was happy with the results (though everyone had pieces that didn’t turn out quite as they’d expected—the randomness of flame and flying ash are both risk and benefit of this process). I certainly was!

Overall, this was a great experience. I really love how my pieces turned out and already have ideas about what I’ll do next time. But because it’s such a huge undertaking, “next time” for me will probably be some time next year.

Taking down the door, brick by brick.

You can see the wadding here. After firing, it crumbles off pretty easily.

My pots


Hello, world!

I’m still here.

Are you?

“Facebook is a continuing nightmare of privacy disasters. It’s the bathroom door that resists all efforts at locking, swinging open again and again while you’re trying to poop.”








Magic glasses!




Ever since I read this article a few days ago, I have been haunted by it. It’s a National Geographic news piece by Jeffrey Bartholet titled “Tibet’s Man on Fire,” and it presents the story of Jamphel Yeshi, one of the many Tibetans who have set themselves on fire in recent years to protest China’s policies on Tibet.

Here he is:


I cannot imagine what it is like to feel so hopeless, so desperate, that it self-immolation seems the only recourse.

In early October, my family visited Washington, D.C., and near the National Zoo we saw some pro-Tibet protesters. They didn’t look Tibetan but looked like aging white hippies. This small group (of four adults and two kids) marched up and down the street, chanting, “What do we want? Free Tibet! When do we want it? Now!”

I don’t doubt their sincerity, but honestly, this was a pretty pathetic demonstration. There was no intent to educate or engage anyone. They seemed to be working on the assumption that “everyone already knows about what’s happening in Tibet.”

The problem is that most people don’t know what’s happening in Tibet. There’s an awareness that the Chinese government claims sovereignty over Tibet, and many Tibetans (and others throughout the world) believe that Tibet should be an independent state.

But there’s more to it than that. And I think the Tibetans who are burning themselves to death over the past couple of years are doing because they want the world to take a closer look at what’s happening there–and maybe do something about it. Self-immolation makes the news, both in text and and in pictures. It gets attention.

Earlier this week the director of Free Tibet published an opinion piece on that describes some of the oppression Tibetans face at the hands of the Chinese government. This is the sort of information those Washington, D.C., protesters should be trying to spread. Chants are great for rallying supporters but useless as education.



20121129-004201.jpgThe first snowfall of the season arrived two mornings ago. Just what we needed to ease into the Christmas season after a pretty warm autumn.

« Prev - Next »