Thursday, March 3, 2011

the yellow logbook

I've been going through the back posts of Silver Fox's blog, and boy, was I behind! She discussed the trusty yellow field book in this post. You know that I can't resist a gear post to comment on...

We have certain standards for our field books (which are generally either yellow or orange) based on legal requirements. They need to be bound. They need to be numbered, although we also number them ourselves as we go. Any errors must be crossed out with a single initialed line. They can't have skipped pages, or empty space at the end of each entry (you put a line through and sign the line) - all these so that you can't go back and sneak in more stuff after fieldwork is done.

So what do we put in those logbooks? Anything that may be important later. Date, day of the week (not everyone does this, but it really helps your memory when you're looking for something specific), weather, name and affiliation of everyone on site (and when they arrive and leave), name and time of any samples, names of visitors if they'll tell you (sometimes the activists are paranoid), deviations from the work plan, contact info (this either goes into the front or the back page), calculations, and anything else that may need to be remembered later. Project name, start and end dates, logbook number, and charge number go on the front, and the company contact information goes into the inside front cover (I tape a business card there to cover the "where to send if lost").

I've always ended up with a blizzard of paper logsheets (health and safety stuff, boring logs, well construction logs, sample logs), but the thing that ties the project together is the logbook. And well, it's rewarding to look back at your office (or the administrative file) and see a big line of bound books that you've filled yourself.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

reading pains

A long time ago, I mentioned the presentations that set off my migraines - all white background, spindly (think times new roman) black text.

I've been collaborating with other writers on reports that require lots of input and editing, and I'm finding a couple of document issues that also set off the migraines.

1. A coworker highlights various passages in garish colors to distinguish things that he'll take care of but hasn't yet, things he wants me to take care of, and things that we need from the client. When I highlight things, I pick a nice, neutral color: gray. If I need to make things more complicated but for some reason don't want to track changes or add comments, I'll make the text different colors. I open documents from my coworker, and they're a combination of bright green, yellow, and blue. It's insta-migraine.

2. I've got a big technical report that needs to be completely re-done because we've gotten a bunch more data to fit in, and we're also trying to address comments on a previous version that are kind of random. We have a round-robin of four people trying to work on the thing, and we're keeping it in tracked-changes mode and nobody wants to accept any changes because they don't want to step on toes. Nobody can follow the text.

Of course, there are ways to fix these issues. For #1, I can un-highlight all the stuff that's not meant for me and then use gray for what I need. For #2, I can accept all the formatting and the stuff that's not controversial to keep down the mess. The problem is that I don't think about fixing anything until I'm already well into the migraine.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

comment moderation

I just realized that I haven't spelled out my comment moderation policy.

I have active comment moderation. I know it cuts down on the spontaneity of the comments, because you have to wait for me to log on and approve them. That can take a while because if I'm busy, I don't log in at all. I first set things up this way because I was initially paranoid that I'd be "outed" online, but I keep it this way to cut down on the spam.

I accept all comments that are not simple plugs, with somewhat higher standards for businesses. For example, if you leave a comment that says "great blog! Love, (my link)", you have to link to a fricken' awesome and relevant personal blog in order to be accepted. I will accept commercial comments if they actually add something to the conversation. I like comments on old posts. I like comments even if they appear to be from someone who googled something tangential to what I'm writing about and has an axe to grind. Basically, I like all comments that aren't a blatant effort to drive traffic to an unrelated site. I'm looking at you, college paper ghostwriting service!

It would be nice if I could pre-screen commenters so that regular commenters wouldn't have to wait for me to accept comments. But I can see more technical snafus, so maybe it's best to stick with the slow system.