Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy International Translation Day!

As ever, using Fête St-Jerôme as an excuse to post an Eddie Izzard bootleg*




*(Dear Eddie: Massive, massive respect for your ever-increasing awesomeness and I'mma let you finish, but if you'd bring your tour to Canada we wouldn't need all these bootlegs.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Teach me eBay etiquette

I emailed an ebay seller asking how much shipping to Canada would cost. Seller quotes an amount, I bid accordingly and win. Then I get a standard "YAY, you won!" email from the seller quoting a shipping price that's 20% higher.

The item ended up selling for close to my upper bid, so this 20% higher shipping price is enough to tip it from "cheaper than retail" to "more expensive than retail."

I already sent the seller a polite email asking WTF, but if they won't lower the shipping price back to their originally quoted amount, is there any way I can cancel the transaction without incurring any sort of penalty? I don't even particularly want the seller to get any penalty, I just don't want to buy the thing if shipping is 20% higher.

Update: Seller corrected it with no drama, all is good.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

How to teach financial literacy in high school without changing the curriculum

A recurring theme during this recession is that they should teach financial literacy in high school. Of course, adding mandatory courses isn't that simple. There's only room for so many courses over the four years, there are all kinds of other courses that people want to be made mandatory, and there still has to be room for people to take electives like French and Physics and History all the way through to Grade 12.

So here's what we do: make every single word problem in the textbooks about a financial literacy concept, whenever mathematically possible.

For example, one thing I learned in one of my high school math classes was the formula for compound interest. M = P(1 + i)^n. I still use it to this day when trying to plan my personal finances. However, every word problem we had on this concept was about earning interest on investments. They could quite easily have made some of the word problems about credit card interest. Same mathematical concept, same word problem, but now you've taught how credit card interest works, which is one of the concepts people are complaining that they don't teach in high school.

Apparently calculus is used in economics similarly to how it's used in physics. I don't know enough about economics to know how this works. (And I find it SO WEIRD that so artificial a concept as economics would follow the mathematical laws of the physical universe.) But they could have taught this quite easily with a sentence or two about how calculus is used in economics, followed by some economics-based word problems. Then everyone who takes calculus will know a bit about economics. They did that with physics - I learned about derivatives and velocity and acceleration in Calculus class before I even took the relevant Physics class - so it shouldn't be any harder to do it with economics.

As an added bonus, it will make mathematics seem more relevant to students, because everyone knows you have to do money stuff when you're a grownup.

It will take some rewriting of textbooks, but that's more painless and possibly faster than rewriting the curriculum.

Real-life Things They Should Invent

Voting for Project 10 to the 100 is finally open! You can vote here!

I'm trying to decide which one to vote for. Obviously my first thought is either the one that will give the most help to the most people, or the one that would be most beneficial to me personally. But then I started wondering whether I should also be thinking about feasibility? Which of these projects can actually be achieved (or have significant progress be made) with $2 million? Which of these projects could Google actually make happen (as opposed to being dependent on external factors)? So I'm going to have to give it more thought before I vote.

You should go check out the finalists and vote too!

Friday, September 25, 2009

I had a long, difficult day of translation today

But not nearly as difficult as this guy.

This is why I hope to be able to stick to written translation for my entire career.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Only one person stopped to help

Sometimes in the Star's Acts of Kindness and other good deed stories, you there are stories where someone's in trouble and only one person stopped to help, everyone else just walked by, pretending they didn't see it.

Today I saw a lady fall down, and another lady immediately stopped to help. I didn't see any further need for help (fallen-down lady was getting up, no apparent injuries, they didn't need more people to pick up her personal effects) so I didn't linger and, to protect fallen-down lady's dignity and privacy, did my very best not to stare.

What would they have me do instead? I certainly wouldn't want a whole crowd gathering if I were the one who fell down.

The choreography of spare change

I was walking down the street, wearing a skirt and blouse (no jacket) and carrying a large purse with my raincoat draped over it. Some guy stops me (yes, actually stops me, as though he was going to ask for directions) and asks for spare change.

If I were to give him spare change, I would have to take my raincoat off my purse and shift it to the other arm, open my purse, dig out my wallet, open the change section of my wallet, and decide which change to give him.

I wonder if he seriously thought I was going to do all that?

I wonder if panhandlers ever get money - like at all ever - from people who don't have pockets with change in them?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Things They Should Invent: medical symptom word bank (for patients)

When trying to explain the value of using target language native speaker translators, or of having translation services available even to people who can function on an everyday basis in the target language, I often ask people to think of the last time they experienced medical symptoms that confused or frightened them - didn't know WTF was going on, couldn't google up a cause - and then describe these symptoms in a language other than their mother tongue. Try it, I'll wait. See? You lose nuance and feel less in control of what you're saying, and this is exacerbated when you're confused or frightened or in pain.

One of my favourite reference tools from back in the days when I did more medical translation is this sort of a cheat sheet for student clinicians in psychology. It's like a massive multiple choice test of all the things they need to be diagnosing, listing each factor/indicator, and then the adjectives that can be used to describe that factor/indicator. So mood can be euthymic, affect can be labile, etc. I did rather extensive research when I first started doing this so I am familiar with the concepts, but the vocabulary isn't always right on the tip of my tongue. I read the source text, I grok exactly what they're saying, I know there's a nice psychy word for it, but it isn't coming to me. I do have the tools and skills to look up each term individually, but it's much faster and easier to just scan my cheat sheet and suddenly "Echolalia! That's it!"

I'm thinking a similar tool could be very useful to patients whose first language isn't English (or even to children who don't know what kind of answers the doctor wants). Just a list of words that might be useful, grouped by category. Pain can be: dull, throbbing, burning, excruciating. A wound can be: open, scabbed, weeping, festering, bleeding. The vocabulary would have to be more everyday than my cheat sheet ("How are you today?" "Euthymic, yourself?"), but it would still be a huge help.

You know how it's easy to read in other languages, but really hard to talk at the level you can read at? Like (assuming you're an Anglophone) even if you don't think you speak French, you could totally figure out how to, say, buy tickets on the Juste pour rire website. But even if you do think you speak French, you couldn't get up on the stage and actually perform stand-up in French (unless you're Eddie Izzard, but we already know he's a looney.)

With this word bank tool, coming up with le mot juste to describe pain or symptoms or bodily fluids would be as easy as reading. It would be like skimming the Juste pour rire website, looking for tickets, and thinking "Hmmm, the word for "ticket" is billet so Billetterie looks like a promising link" rather than having to come up with the word billetterie all on your own. Patients could describe their symptoms in a more precise and nuanced fashion plus have a better idea of what sorts of things the doctors want them to tell them about, doctors could give them better care, and all it would take is an hour of brainstorming and a few photocopies.

Things They Should Invent: optional accent sensitivity in search engines

Some of my tools are accent-blind (i.e. they read ou and où the same) and others are accent-sensitive (i.e. they read ou and où as two different words). As a lazy Anglophone, I prefer accent blindness, but sometimes accent-sensitivity would be convenient to filter out interference.

I'd love it if we could have a checkbox to turn accent-sensitivity on or off depending on our needs.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Letter to my 18-year-old self

I just realized that it was 10 years ago that I started university. Here's some things I wish I'd known then:

- Do half an hour of homework or studying per course every day. That's all it takes. You'll be on top of everything.
- Move out of your parents' house. You'll be fine, really. And you'll prove your parents wrong about all kinds of things that they're annoying about.
- Your boss shouldn't be playing mind games with you. Your boss should be protecting you when the customers sexually harass you. Your boss shouldn't be requiring you to cash in and cash out and take out the garbage and clean the bathrooms before and after your paid shift. There are jobs available where they don't do this. You don't have to keep your job just because you have a job.
- Apply for every single on-campus job you think you might possibly be able to do. Apply for every single work placement or translation practicum you can find.
- Apartments don't have to suck. If the apartment you're looking at sucks, say no thank you and look at a different apartment.
- Prioritize living within easy walking distance of a grocery store. You don't need parks, you don't need landscaping or scenery, you don't need in-building amenities other than laundry. You do need to be able to run out and buy milk in the middle of the night if necessary.
- Don't stop reading recreationally just because you're in university. Keep your library card active and add anything that piques your interest to your holds list.
- Read Harry Potter. Read the complete works of Miss Manners. Read the In Death series. Read Introvert Advantage. Read Malcolm Gladwell. Watch Eddie Izzard's comedy and every interview he's ever done. These will all not only entertain you, but help you navigate the world better.
- Contact the second-year-entry program you're after and ask them if they have any suggestions on what you should take first year. They will actually answer your questions, and you'll be better prepared and have met some program requirements ahead of time.
- Be out about your phobias. People will help you. Get insecticide with a paper label, and have someone remove the label for you. That solves the disgusting picture problem and gives you evil death powers over the yucky things.
- Be out about your insecurities in general. Your interlocutors will compensate. In the real world, people want you to feel like you belong.
- Don't try to save money by scrimping on internet service. It will only depress you.
- Make a point of consuming more information about Canadian politics than about US politics.
- People aren't going to think you're weird if you bing off a quick email thanking them for whatever. Seriously.
- Wear skirts. Wear dresses. Wear v-neck shirts. Wear t-shirt bras. Wear teacup eyeglass frames, and buy the best lenses available. Wear necklaces. Worry about heel width, not heel height. Buy every well-fitting pair of black pants you meet. Buy two of every shirt you fall in love with. Buy black cotton knee socks. If a pair of pants fits perfectly except for gapping in the back, any competent alterationist (and often your own mother) can put darts in the back to fix that. If your feet can go all the way into the shoes but they're a bit tight around the toes, any competent shoemaker can stretch them at a very reasonable price.
- When buying a new computer, get more RAM and more disk space than you expect you would ever need.
- You can trust your money instincts. You can trust your writing voice. You can trust your research skills even if you do end up sucking at documentation class.
- If something makes you cry, stop doing/thinking about the thing that makes you cry. Distract yourself. Run up the stairwell until your thighs fill with lactic acid. Sing nasty songs at the top of your lungs. Have a drink. Eat chocolate. Go to sleep. Then revisit the crying trigger later once you've regrouped. You'll save yourself a lot of time that way.

How do minor set-backs affect self-reported happiness?

This post was triggered by, but is completely unrelated to, this Language Log post about self-reported happiness studies.

Last night my glasses broke (yes, again) in what is hopefully a minor and fixable way, yet one that requires immediate attention. So now my plans for things I have to get done this weekend all have to be shuffled around. I'm annoyed and inconvenienced and have looming over me the possibility that they might not be fixable and I might have to replace them immediately and then when I go to a wedding next weekend I'll look like an idiot with suboptimal glasses.

So if you had me do a self-reported happiness study right this minute, my happiness would come out lower than if my glasses hadn't broke. Yes, I know intellectually that they mean a broader, more long-term definition of happiness, but right at this moment the feeling of contentment seems like only a distant memory.

It would be interesting to study if things like this have an affect on happiness studies.

Pure cute



(H/T Poodle)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Currently wondering

The cool kids in high school.

You only ever heard them spoken of as Other (at least in my corner of the world and of the internet). Is there anyone in the world who feels like they actually were one of the cool kids in high school?

So sweet and so cold

I noticed recently that whenever I bite into a peach (even one that has been sitting on the counter at room temperature for several days), the inside is cold. So I tried washing a peach in warm water, but the inside was still cold when I bit into it. It has never been in a fridge, unless the farmer at the market had it in a fridge, but I bought it three days ago and it's been at room temperature ever since.

I wonder why it's cold?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Re: Caster Semenya

Just think about this, quietly and to yourself, for as long as you need to:

Are you, personally, certain that you have all the sexual organs associated with your gender and none of the sexual organs associated with the other gender? Both internally and externally? Are you sure?

Some people are sure, I know. If you've had a tubal or a c-section or exploratory surgery to diagnose the cause of your infertility, you probably know for certain. But not everyone knows for certain. I don't know for certain. I know I have breasts and a vulva, both of which appear within the range of normal to medical and intimate examination. I know I have a vagina and a cervix, or something that resembles a cervix closely enough that no doctor has ever commented upon giving me a pap smear. I know I have something the behaves enough like a uterus that it produces menstruation that is regulated with birth control pills, and stands up to the palpation part of a standard pelvic examination. I can't tell you for certain that I don't have secret internal testes. I can't tell you for certain that my uterus is fully operational (I've never been pregnant). But I'm a woman, there's no question of that. I just...am. Even if I found out I had internal testes, I'd still want to put on lipstick before leaving the house.

Can you say with absolute certainty that you have lady parts, all your lady parts, and nothing but lady parts? (Unless, of course, you have gentleman parts). If so, could you say so with equal certainty at the age of 18? If you found out tomorrow that you have some bits that aren't consistent with your gender, or are missing some bits that are usually found in your gender, would that change you? Would your sexual preferences change? Would your personal behaviour change?

Teach me about the used car market

Apparently the quality of used vehicles is improving.

Interesting! Useful, if you're in the market for a used car!

But why does the used car market exist?

I totally get why someone would buy a used car, but why do so many people want to sell their now apparently perfectly good cars? I can see how some people might want to upgrade and have the very latest thing, but I can't imagine why so many people would do it that a whole used car market would exist, and buying a used car would be commonplace rather than exceptional.

I have no frame of reference here. I've never bought or shopped for a car, my parents have always bought their cars new and used them until they died (the cars, not the parents) and no one I know has ever sold their car. So help me out. What am I missing?

How does the United States of America continue to function with insurance premiums like these?

Via David Olive, a chart of US health insurance premium projections.

The general thesis is "OMG, they're going to get so high!" But my first thought was "OMG, they ARE so high!" $13,000 a year. Thirteen thousand!

Imagine having an extra $13,000 in necessary expenses, on top of your existing necessary expenses. To put that in perspective, that's more than I paid in taxes last year. Could you fit that into your budget? Because I certainly couldn't!

When I run the numbers on finding another $13,000, I've got a two-hour commute and bugs crawling out of the walls, and even then it's hella tight. I've got no savings, I'm wearing cheap men's runners for everyday and improperly-fitting bras, rationing cheese and internet access, hairdressing is not an option, and even then it might not work out. And that's without children, without a car, without travel.

But when you go to the states, you see people with children and cars and vacations. You see people wearing clothes that look like they were purchased new. People have had their hair done. It's normal to have wedding rings made of gold and diamonds. They have tivos and people buy books and DVDs and go to movies and out to dinner...how on earth do they make it work? Seriously. I cannot grok at all how their society as a whole can function with insurance premiums like that.

St. Paul's by-election roundup

1. I don't appreciate this by-election being made into a referendum on the HST. The HST simply isn't important enough to me to make or break my vote. Yes, I very much want them to correct the oversight in the transition benefit, but as for the tax itself? Meh. Any protest vote against the Liberals that I might choose to make would be about their habit of introducing poorly-thought-out legislation (banning plastic bags at the LCBO, restrictions for new drivers that are based on age rather than driving experience, breed-specific legislation against pitbulls when they can't even define the breed well enough). Any vote for the Liberals I might choose to make would be a combination of because they haven't fucked things up, because their candidate is admirable, and because I don't want my riding to turn blue. The HST doesn't come into it, and I don't appreciate my vote be interpreted solely as commentary on this issue that I don't care about.

Normally, elections are my favourite sport. This is the first time that voting felt like a duty rather than a privilege.

2. If this were a "Who has the best advertising?" contest, Eric Hoskins would totally win in my corner of the world. I got multiple flyers from him, all well-targeted to renters' issues. (A couple did dig at the other parties, which I don't much enjoy, but overall they were positive.) From Sue-Ann Levy, I got one flyer with the general thesis of "OMG, the HST is going to raise the prices of [insert list of things I don't even buy ever]." From Julian Heller, I got one flyer with the general thesis of "Hi, I'm not a Liberal and I'm opposed to the HST!" From the other candidates, nothing.

3. Weirdly, I wasn't on the electors' list. I lived at this address the last provincial election (the one with the MMP referendum) and voted then, but this time I didn't get a voter's card. Still voted without a hitch (luckily they accepted my G1 - my new health card (the one with two pictures) doesn't have my address on it!). AND I saw the awesome greyhound that I saw last election was there again! I still didn't pet him, but maybe I should have. We could be election buddies!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More information please: high-heeled boys edition

Via Antonia Z, it's seems they're having a fundraiser to end violence against women where they have men literally walk a mile in women's shoes. (No, it has nothing to do with Eddie, just coincidence.)

Cool idea! Credit for lateral thinking and a fun and very doable event rather than an epic feat of endurance!

But there's one thing that I'm super curious about and the website doesn't say: where are they going to get all the shoes? Finding women's shoes in men's sizes isn't the easiest thing ever. I'm bigger than standard women's sizes, but only about an 8 or 9 in men's sizes - man feet go way bigger than mine. If they ask the men to provide their own or only have shoes available in standard women's sizes, they'll be limiting the number of participants. So as not to alienate prospective participants, they'd need to provide high-heeled shoes in a range of men's sizes, and they'd have to be relatively reasonable to walk in (e.g. chunky-heeled mary janes as opposed to stiletto mules).

So what's the story here?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wherein I nag you for the last time to sponsor Eddie Izzard

September 15 (which is just starting right about now in the UK) is the last day of Eddie's run. He's going to end up in Trafalgar Square, where he left way back on July 27.

Donations are still being matched, Eddie's still injured, Eddie's still going for a personal best tomorrow, the kitten still has a home. In just a few hours this complete act of lunacy will be a fait accompli.

Eddie has over a million Twitter followers. If he doesn't manage to raise 100,000 pounds with this incredibly excessive act of human endurance, that will be a blemish on the honour of humanity. Now is the time to stop procrastinating and donate.

You can follow the adventure on Twitter, the blog, the Eddie Izzard forum, and this running forum.

Godspeed Eddie!

Donate here.

Update: HE DID IT! 43 marathons in 51 days, personal best on the last one, and totally upstaged the plinth lady on the way in (here at 31:15). Congrats Eddie!!! Hope you can sleep well soon.

In case you're thinking "Crap, I meant to donate but I missed it!", as of right this minute they still seem to be accepting and matching donations here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Things They Should Invent: a blank on ballots for the reason for your vote

Some people vote for the Yellow Party because they like their Widget Policy. Other people vote for the Yellow Party because they don't want the Purple Party to come into power and raise import tariffs on three-handled family gredunzas.

But sometimes I find myself voting for a party for reasons that aren't as common or aren't something listed in campaign literature. For example, suppose the Yellow Party is really focusing its campaign on the widgets and the gredunzas, but I don't actually care about that. I'm more interested in the fact that they want to require all shoes to be available in sizes up to 12. But us large-footed girls are considered a fringe special interest group so the big shoes issue isn't getting a lot of media play. My Yellow vote will be interpreted - by the politicos and the media - as pro-widget and pro-gredunza.

I normally email any newly elected representative with a friendly congratulations and touch on a couple of the issues that are most important to me (credit to one of my early clients for giving me that idea), but a) I doubt that has any significant effect, b) I doubt most people take the time to do that, and c) that has no effect on media interpretation of the election results.

I want a blank on the ballot where voters can (optionally) write their reason for voting the way they're voting. Then, after the votes are counted (so as not to delay election results) they can tabulate who's voting how and why, and this information could be made available to the media.

It would also be interesting to what proportion of the population is voting misinformedly. We all know that some people are, but it would be interesting to see how many.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Translation In Death

Eve Dallas wouldn't be entirely comfortable with the fact that she's inspired me in a number of ways, but I'm sure she'd be completely baffled to learn that she helped me with a translation.

To protect my client I'm going to change the words involved, but my example is pragmatically analogous to the actual problem. The subject of the text was something that the organization was committed to providing to various people in various quantities, and the text was trying to figure out how they were going to afford this. Unfortunately, the author referred to the items being given away as trucs. Trucs is a very casual, very indefinite word, the sort of word that people use every day but might not actually be approved by the Académie française. Its most accurate translation given the context is "thingies", which is ultimately meaningless. And, to make matters worse, the word truc didn't appear anywhere on the client's website, reference texts, or texts we'd previously translated for the client.

The author knew what precisely these trucs were, the audience knew what precisely these trucs were, but I had no clue. It was an overnight turnaround, so the author of the text was unavailable - they sent us the translation and went home for the day, expecting it in their inbox when they arrived at the office the next day. While "thingies" was a perfectly valid translation of trucs and would probably stand up in court, it sounds funny, especially when used repeatedly like in this text. There was sentence after sentence of "We need 700 trucs in January and 300 trucs in June. Past presidents of the organization get 2 trucs each as a courtesy, and we need an extra supply of trucs should the media express interest." You can't say "thingies" there every time. There's also the problem that we don't know if the Anglophones involved in the organization call the trucs "thingies". They might call them "things" or "thingamabobs" or "whatchamacalits" or "snapping turtles". I don't know because I don't know what they actually are. If I use the wrong word, my text will be completely and hilarious meaningless to its audience, even if the word I choose is a valid translation of trucs. I really needed to know what, precisely and tangibly, they were talking about so I could make a meaningful translation.

Eve Dallas often solves her cases by following the money. More than once, the key to cracking the case has been that the timing and quantity of deposits to the victim's account corresponds with the timing and quantity of withdrawals from a person of interest's account (or vice versa). So, inspired by this, I decided to follow the numbers. So I started searching for 700, January, 300, and June all appearing in the same document, and turned up something about event tickets. I then went to the part of my text that talked about the total cost of giving away all these trucs, and extrapolated the cost per truc. I then looked up the cost of a ticket to the event in question, and lo and behold it was an exact match. So the trucs were tickets to this event, of which the client was a major sponsor, but the number of free tickets being given away was cutting into the event's revenues. Suddenly the whole text made sense and I was able to clarify a couple of other points that were questionable.

Translation by financial extrapolation. I think Roarke would approve.

I'm probably the last person in the world to realize this

But I just realized that this song would totally work as a round, and very flexibly (2, 3, 4, or 6 parts if I'm working it out right).

Things Google Should Invent: gcourriel (or would that be courrig?)

I was verbally giving someone my email address in French, and without thinking I simply uttered "gmail" exactly like I pronounce it in English, without bothering to spell it out.

Not a huge problem since most people are aware of gmail. However, as we all learned in Grade 4 French, the way we pronounce the English letter G sounds closest to the French pronunciation of the letter J, so it could have been misinterpreted as "jmail."

The inherently English name of gmail is a problem for non-English speakers who nevertheless wish to use this very convenient email system. In English, we just say "gmail" and it's obvious how to spell it, but in other languages it might be less instinctive.

So what Google should do buy a bunch of domains that serve as translations of the word "gmail." For example, the French would be either gcourriel.com or courrig.com, whichever sounds better to the Francophone ear. This would increase the number of gmail addresses available and give people the option of having multiple addresses to accommodate multiple languages. The ideal implementation would be to give the owner of each gmail.com address right of first refusal for the equivalent gcourriel.com address (et cetera for each language), but most likely having multiple parallel email addresses in different languages would only be of interest to a very small proportion of users.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Y.E.T.A.N.O.T.H.E.R. reason to sponsor Eddie Izzard

To recap: Eddie Izzard (who is hilarious and generally above and beyond) is engaged in a ridiculously epic feat of human endurance to raise money for charity. And rescuing lost kittens along the way.

In case you needed just one more reason to donate, there's now an anonymous donor matching the next £43,000 of donations. If you've been putting it off, now's the time.

You can donate here and follow Eddie's adventure here and here.

Update: Plus, Eddie now has a rather serious-sounding ligament injury.

Are ballet dancers richer than I think, or is housing in New York more reasonable than I think?

Or has Brooke McEldowney not fully considered the economics of his universe?

Seth and Edda have a spare room. That means they have a three-bedroom apartment. They're both ballet dancers.

Not only that, but the apartment was originally just Seth's. He was already living there, and Edda moved in when she first joined the ballet. This means that Seth was managing a three-bedroom apartment on a dancer's salary singlehandedly.

I don't actually know anything about ballet dancers' paycheques or New York City rents. But conventional wisdom is that the arts don't pay particularly well, and conventional wisdom is that housing in NY is exceptionally expensive. So something is missing somewhere.

Monday, September 07, 2009

New words: anglotypical and francotypical

In English, if you search for something using the search engine Google, you say "I googled it." This construction is anglotypical.

In French, you'd say "J'ai effectué une recherche Google." This construction is francotypical.

These words aren't completely unknown (a few dozen google results each - "dozen" being an anglotypical word choice, with the francotypical counterpart being "quelques dizaines") but they're useful and ought to be more widely used. I went through translation school and half a dozen years as a professional translator, and have never heard them used.

They, of course, can be modified as appropriate for other languages.

New Rule: announce yourself as you knock on the door

In my old building, when the supers knocked on the door, they'd announce "Super!" Then I'd know who it is and open the door for them. I've had some delivery people do this, but not all. I think everyone should do it. Yes, I have a peephole, but peephole gets darker as you look through it so the person at the door can tell if you look and then choose not to answer the door. Also, you can't always tell by looking who it is. I once had enumerators come to my door, and they just looked like regular people (as opposed to UPS, who's in uniform). As a rule I don't open my door unless I'm expecting someone and I had no way of knowing they were enumerators, so I didn't get enumerated.

If everyone announces themselves as they knock at the door, then you'll get better results from your knocking on doors. And if announcing yourself will make people not answer the door, then you shouldn't be knocking on doors.

I can't stop listening to this


Into The Mystic - VAN MORRISON

Saturday, September 05, 2009

I went down to the Chelsea drugstore to get your prescription filled

As anyone who cares already knows, this is a line from the Rolling Stones.

But why do they call it a drugstore? Wouldn't "chemist" be more idiomatic in their dialect?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Perhaps my job is safe after all

Translation Party translates any English phrase you give it to Japanese and back until it reaches equilibrium.

Like this.

Still trying to find out: why is it using a mixture of two Japanese alphabets?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Why can't I find Campbell's Hearty Noodles in Thai flavour?

Yes, they're full of sodium and preservatives. No, they aren't particularly hearty. Yes, they're a rather pathetic excuse for noodles. Yes, I can get better Thai food in half a dozen places between my office an my home.

But they're a comfort food for me. In university they were my favourite no-dishes, just-add-water noodle soup, and they were always there for me, hot and filling, when everything in the caf sucked or I was just too tired for anything that would require washing dishes.

These past couple of days I've been wanting to revisit that flavour, but I can't find them anywhere! Every store I visit has all the other flavours, but not Thai. They're still on the website, but I'm not finding them IRL.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." - Socrates

It is possible to not be aware of the extent of your knowledge/ignorance. It is also possible to be fully aware of the extent of your knowledge/ignorance. So you can know very little and not be aware that you know so little, or you can know very little and be aware that you know so little, or you can know a lot and be aware that you know a lot.

But is it possible to know a lot and not be aware that you know so much? Is it possible to know literally everything about a given topic and not be aware that you've got everything?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

What to do if your TTC Metropass doesn't arrive in the mail

If you don't get your Metropass, go to the Metropass office at Davisville station (during business hours, 8:30-5 weekdays I think), show them ID, and they'll issue a replacement. They ask you to return the original if it subsequently arrives in the mail.

Blogging this because I couldn't google up the information.