Tag Archives: antique books

Odd Jobs #14: Virtual Assistants to Worm Farmers

This is the last of my series of odd jobs; along the way, there have been some amazing, some disgusting, and some downright puzzling ones.  Somewhere out there, beneath the deep blue sky, there’s someone thinking, “Why did I take this job, again?”  Having said that, every job has some kind of perk; it’s just that with some jobs, you have to dig into the muck to find it.

martin-luthers-haus-postille

A friend of mine had a grandfather who was a rubbish collector back in the 1950s here in Switzerland; times were slim for the family, and he used to bring home things he thought were interesting, useful, or perhaps valuable that he’d found in the rubbish.  One of those things he’d brought home was a large tome, with gilt embossing and brass knobs on the pictorial cover board (these “feet” are at the four corners, and were used to support the book cover and protect it from wearing on the gold leaf when it sat on the wooden pulpit), and deep, plain embossing on the back board.  That someone would throw it away rather than giving it to a charity is beyond me.  Be that as it may, it was discovered to be Dr. Martin Luther’s Haus-Postille (sermons), with illustrated lithograph engravings throughout, by W. Walther, from Dresden, dated from 1890.  It was passed down through the family to my friend, and she had no use for it; she knows I collect books (including antique books) and have a library, and thus it has now come to me.  It is in excellent condition, and is being well looked after now, despite its close call in the rubbish!  [The image does not do justice to the brilliant golden gilt that still shines clearly on my copy, even after all these years…]

So, on with the final lineup of odd jobs!  The first and last links take you to another list of odd jobs, which includes the two here.  A couple of the jobs seem a bit dangerous to me – either flying off the side of a water slide that doesn’t quite meet safety standards yet, or dangling by a rope off of a glass building… if I had to choose I’d take the water rather than London pavement as a place to land.  Safer, but not necessarily easier, is the job of a voice-over artist; dubbing languages for films, or filling in the voices for rough tracks in animated films, or even – and I find this particularly unethical, as a singer myself – to be paid to replace a recording artist’s voice, such as the scandal involving Milli Vanilli, which destroyed their careers.  Enjoy browsing the final list; perhaps in the future at some point I’ll bring along another addition or two.

  • Virtual Assistant
  • Virtual Head Hunter
  • Voice-Over Artists
  • Water Slide Tester
  • Wax Figure Sculptor: Mold wax to create figures, often for, but not limited to, the human form. Figures are often made in the likeness of people who have achieved historical or celebrity recognition.
  • Wig Maker: Put simply, they make wigs, but the process is anything but simple. First, wig makers create a plastic model of the wearer’s head and hairline, and then they transfer the mold onto a padded canvas similar to the client’s general head size, covering it with wig lace. Using a needle, they knot and pull thousands of hairs, one by one, through the mesh cap. Once all the hairs are in place, the wig is styled to the wearer’s preference.
  • Window cleaner for the Gherkin (London): It takes a team of 9 cleaners 10 days to complete the task, as the building stands 180 metres tall and consists of 7,429 panes of glass.
  • Worm Farmer
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The Debate: Online vs. Onscreen vs. Physical Reading

I came across an interesting article (click on the photo below to read it for yourself) on the Scientific American website; it compares e-reading to physical reading, and discusses the pros and cons, the questions as to whether our brains are adapting to deal with the new technological challenges, and whether or not we as a human race could risk losing certain cognitive functions by abandoning physical reading.  I found the article informative; but I also observed myself while reading and I discovered a few things:

As I write (type) this, I’m sitting in my usual writing location – in our home library surrounded by well over a thousand books.  I’ve collected antique books over the years, and have some nearly 200 years old, while I have my own latest books fresh off the press as well.  Those books, old or new, aren’t for show – they’re for reading.  I also have a Kindle, and often read books either on the Kindle or on my android Tab, or even my computer with the Kindle for PC app.  But as I read the article I found myself getting impatient, and I realized that the article, while professing to be a neutral assessment of the two mediums, had broken a few unspoken criteria for Netiquette:  When I read online my expectation is that the article is succinct (not rambling); 300-500 words is the optimal length (give or take a bit), and yet this SA article was over 3,900 words long, equivalent to 7 A4 typed pages (I copied the article to plain text for a quick check).  As a comparison, a random chapter from a novel (taken from my Kindle) was at 3,200 words (5 A4 pages).  Underlying assumptions are that a) a typical magazine or periodical article that works in a printed format should work equally as well for an online format and b) if it doesn’t it must mean that people reading online are less patient or (dare I say it?) less intelligent than our print readers.  But some of the questions (and one assumes they are rhetorical) the article raises are, “As digital texts and technologies become more prevalent, we gain new and more mobile ways of reading—but are we still reading as attentively and thoroughly? How do our brains respond differently to onscreen text than to words on paper?” Had they looked at any resources for tips on writing articles online, they would have seen a tip at the top of most lists regarding length.  Our brains do respond differently to online text because we have a different set of expectations or criteria.

Personally, I read a lot.  A LOT.  Both digital as well as printed formats.  I would classify myself as, for want of a proper word, “Polyliterate”: I read equally thoroughly in a book and on my Kindle / computer.  But criteria and expectations are different for online vs. onscreen, and I think the article misses that distinction.  Onscreen, I’m thorough; online, I expect the text to get to the crux of the matter within the first screen-length (and conclude by the end of the second); I have no patience for those sites that force a reader to click through several screens to get to their point(s).  Precisely because I work on the computer, my online time is more valuable; I want conciseness.  And as to reading books, like any true bibliophile I love the feel of a good book in my hands, the tactile experience of knowing just where I am in the context of the whole story; but I also love taking an entire library with me in my Kindle, getting lost in the story either way (and not the format).

Just Curious:

If any of you take the time to read the entire article (by clicking on the photo) below, what are your thoughts?  Or if you have given extensive thought to this issue yourself, what do you think?  What are your reading habits and expectations of physical vs. onscreen vs. online matter?

 

Image Credit:  Amazon

Image Credit: Amazon

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