What We Should All Be Thankful For | November 2005


Twit’s Note: This column won a Special Mention Award (Best example of how to encourage and honor group volunteers) from American Mensa.

I’m a little upset at our editor, Mark Puddephat, right now. No, not because he nagged me to get this column done by the deadline (although he does do that and not just to me, but what editor doesn’t?).

Actually, my issue has to do with the last issue of Flamenco. In it, as some of you may recall, Mark waxed grateful about all of us columnists (And by the way, an aside here: you can be a columnist, too! Just make sure to send your submission in to Mark via the Miami Mensa Web Site) after Flamenco won an award from Mensa.

Well, hello? What about Mark? I mean–I can’t speak for the other columnists, mind you–but it might take me a few minutes (typically, during my daily commute or while I’m in the shower) to decide on a topic for my monthly column, then it’ll take me a few hours to write. That’s all I contribute to the Flamenco, folks, a few hours. Some of you spend more time reading it than it takes me to write this column (it shows, doesn’t it?).

Mark, meanwhile, has to take what EVERYBODY writes–and there are several of us–and lay it out on the page, making sure it fits without looking weird (well, if my column looks weird, it’s because it was submitted that way so I hereby hold Mark completely blameless). He has to make sure the various fonts are legible, large enough to see, and look good as part of the overall design. He has to pick the various graphic elements, make sure they fit, make sure they’re appropriate for the page they go on. He has to make sure the pages are numbered correctly (this is not as easy as you may think–trust me, I’ve worked in the publishing business before).

He has to make sure all the important sections (e.g. the birthdays, the calendar, the masthead, the RVC’s column, the ExComm list, legal stuff, etc.) are in place.

He has to make sure the pages are all put together and bound. Then he has to make sure the whole shebang is mailed out to all of us, in time for us to get it in the mail the first week of the month.

The work I’ve just described is typically handled by an editor, an art director, proofreaders and copy editors, a press room, bindery and mailroom at large publications. Mark does it all himself, with the help of John Gorman (who by the way, also writes a column) and I believe Marlene Adams, our previous editor, helps out from time to time.

But that’s it.

If I spend a few hours just on my column, I can’t even begin to imagine how much time Mark spends each month to get Flamenco ready. Of course, everything I mentioned above does NOT include his work on our fantabulous website (visit it today at http://miami.us.mensa.org).

In addition to all this–Mark, correct me here–Mark has a day job. I’m sure Mark would rather spend his time with his family, but he gives a lot of his free time to make sure we get our award-winning publication (almost) every month.

And notice I said “give.” Yes, this is a labor of love for Mark, as nobody pays him a dime for all the work he does.

So when Thanksgiving comes around later this month, and you’re thinking of all the things you’re grateful for, be sure to include Mark–and don’t forget John and Marlene, too. Raise a cup for the three of them. Without their dedication and hard work, there would be no Flamenco. And if there were no Flamenco, how would you be able to read my column, huh?