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TGIF: A trip down memory lane January 30, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.

Here are two ads from Compaq Computer Corporation featuring John Cleese from the mid to late 1980s. I can’t get over Compaq’s idea of a portable computer. Ah, that brings back memories. Remember how we used to have to boot from a floppy? What? You’ve never heard of a floppy? Oh you kids these days… I think my dad still has some if you want one. Lord knows he can’t use them with his new computer, which doesn’t even have a diskette drive :-). Enjoy!


Best. Complaint. Letter. Ever. January 27, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, Random musings.

Since we are jet setters (I was just pricing a flight to Paris for tomorrow for a funeral but decided it simply didn’t make sense to try to organize a trip that last minute) I thought you all might appreciate this complaint letter to Richard Branson (the CEO of Virgin Airlines and Virgin Records), which was written by a man who flew from Mumbai to London. Trust me. It is totally worth jumping to Crazy Days and Nights to read it.

On another note, when did Bombay become Mumbai and how did I miss the memo?

Deadline is approaching for issuing and filing 1099s January 26, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

January 31st is coming quickly (ok, this year the deadline is February 2nd, but let’s not split hairs). You might have noticed that you are receiving 1099s from your agency clients. I like to compare my total yearly income with theirs – just to be sure. I have caught errors twice now, so it bears repeating. Obviously this only applies to those persons who have their corporate domicile in the United States or file taxes here.

While January may seem a bit early to begin thinking about taxes, 1099-MISC filing deadlines are looming for businesses. This includes sole proprietors and S-Corps, which most translators are. Generally speaking, IRS 1099-MISC is the form used to report miscellaneous income that you paid to anyone in the course of your trade or business. You must issue 1099-MISC forms to any person that you have paid at least $600 in rent, services or other income payments. This includes independent contractors who have subcontracted work to – be it proofreading or translation work. We also generally only have to file a couple 1099s a year, which is a lot of work for just two or three forms.

The IRS website has tons of useful information, but unfortunately you can’t download forms that you can actually file. You can order forms from the IRS by calling 1-800-tax-form or ordering them off of the IRS website (again – do not download). The IRS suggests it typically takes at least two weeks for the forms to be delivered, but keep in mind that it may take longer. If you need the forms sooner, you usually can find them at libraries and post offices.

Once you have received the forms from the IRS or library or post office, you should fill them out (The 1099-MISC form is a multi-layered carbon form, so you should make sure the information you provide appears clearly on all of the copies.) and then mail all the copies to the appropriate recipients. You must provide Copy B to the person that you are reporting to the IRS (i.e., your independent contractor) by January 31st. Copy A of the 1099-MISC form is intended for the IRS. You are required to file it by February 28th if you are sending the form by mail. If you prefer to file electronically, you have until March 31st to file the form. Since the IRS loves its red tape, it requires you to file an additional form if you are filing Copy A of the 1099-MISC by mail. In this case, you must file an “Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns” form. This summary is better known as Form 1096.

If this sounds like a lot of work to you, you are right. It is. My method of choice is visiting Filetaxes.com to issue my 1099-MISCs. It only costs $3.79 a form. You must initially set up a user name and password and can easily fill out 1099 and W-2 forms online. Once you have set up your account, your data is stored there indefinitely and can be accessed again next year. It takes less than a minute to fill out the form once you have the contractor’s social security number and address. Filetaxes.com does all the physical work of printing, filing, and mailing out the returns. I don’t have to get into my car to drive to the library or post office and have instant gratification (if you can call it that). This allows me to get back to business without having to worry about whether I messed up the form. I just filed my 1099s, and it took me three minutes – two of which were spent printing out the PDF copies for my records.

There are plenty of other similar services out there, such as www.ts1009.com. I’m curious to hear which service(s) you prefer using. If there is something better out there I’m all ears.

The the impotence of proofreading by Taylor Mali January 26, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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This fun little poem was brought to my attention on one of my listservs. You can learn more about Taylor Mali and check out his work at www.taylormali.com.

The the impotence of proofreading
By Taylor Mali

Has this ever happened to you?
You work very horde on a paper for English clash
And then get a very glow raid (like a D or even a D=)
and all because you are the word’s liverwurst spoiler.
Proofreading your peppers is a matter of the the utmost impotence.

This is a problem that affects manly, manly students.
I myself was such a bed spiller once upon a term
that my English teacher in my sophomoric year,
Mrs. Myth, said I would never get into a good colleague.
And that’s all I wanted, just to get into a good colleague.
Not just anal community colleague,
because I wouldn’t be happy at anal community colleague.
I needed a place that would offer me intellectual simulation,
I really need to be challenged, challenged dentally.
I know this makes me sound like a stereo,
but I really wanted to go to an ivory legal collegue.
So I needed to improvement
or gone would be my dream of going to Harvard, Jail, or Prison
(in Prison, New Jersey).

So I got myself a spell checker
and figured I was on Sleazy Street.

But there are several missed aches
that a spell chukker can’t can’t catch catch.
For instant, if you accidentally leave a word
your spell exchequer won’t put it in you.
And God for billing purposes only
you should have serial problems with Tori Spelling
your spell Chekhov might replace a word
with one you had absolutely no detention of using.
Because what do you want it to douch?
It only does what you tell it to douche.
You’re the one with your hand on the mouth going clit, clit, clit.
It just goes to show you how embargo
one careless clit of the mouth can be.

Which reminds me of this one time during my Junior Mint.
The teacher read my entire paper on A Sale of Two Titties
out loud to all of my assmates.
I’m not joking, I’m totally cereal.
It was the most humidifying experience of my life,
being laughed at pubically.

So do yourself a flavor and follow these two Pisces of advice:
One: There is no prostitute for careful editing.
And three: When it comes to proofreading,
the red penis your friend.

TGIF: Grammar bullies January 23, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.

One of my pet peeves is people putting an apostrophe to pluralize something like CD’s or 1980’s <shudder>, but I had to chuckle at his comments about Lynne Truss, the author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves. I happen to like her book, and I imagine you do as well. But then again I also love The Deluxe Transitive Vampire and The New Well-Tempered Sentence by Karen Elizabeth Gordon. As translators we can’t help but become Grammar Bullies. I hope you enjoy this – and hope you can understand what the dudes in the video clip are saying, because I was totally at a loss. It’s still a cute little clip.

TGIF: Punctuation Police January 23, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
1 comment so far

Come on, admit it… don’t you sometimes wish you could do this to language offenders 🙂 ?

Procrastination and flow January 21, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings, Translation Sites.

Ryan at the GITS Blog has a fabulous post on Translator Flow. Rather than me summarize his insights, I encourage you to check it out.

It took me forever to get into the flow this week, but now I am firmly in it – and am now taking a few minutes to write about it and hope to get back into it when I’m done. I had a client call on Monday with a 3,000 word job due Wednesday morning. I procrastinated on Monday and only translated 500 words of it, because I figured I could finish it yesterday – forgetting all about the Inauguration. Oops. I spent yesterday scrambling to finish and stressed out. I moved my work computer into the living room to listen with half an ear while translating (never a good idea, BTW). I took time out to watch the actual swearing in ceremony, but then promptly turned off the TV to devote myself to my translation. I finally started getting into the flow about 4, which only left me about two hours before I had to leave for my dinner plans. Since I was the organizer I couldn’t bail, but I did cut out earlier than everyone else to go home and finish the translation. I finished it at 2 AM and sent it to my colleague to proofread, who wakes up earlier than me and had it ready for me when I woke up this morning. I delivered it on time – maybe even an hour early – and the PM told me she looks forward to working with me again soon.

Procrastination is a hard habit to break, but as a freelance translator with deadlines you soon learn how to not procrastinate in order to meet your deadlines and be ready to start another job. Back in November Scientific American explored the topic of procrastination in its article Procrastinating Again? How to Kick the Habit. The article defines procrastination as:

Procrastination does not mean deliberately scheduling less critical tasks for later time slots. The term is more apt when a person fails to adhere to that logic and ends up putting off the tasks of greater importance or urgency. That is, if just thinking about tomorrow’s job pricks the hair on the back of your neck or compels you to do something more trivial, you are probably procrastinating.

A penchant for postponement carries a financial penalty, endangers health, harms relationships and ends careers.

The article goes on to state that most people procrastinate and offers tips on how to break the habit of procrastination. I find if I am dreading translating a text or even a sentence or paragraph in a text I have a tendency to procrastinate (the article calls it “task aversiveness”). It is hard to motivate yourself and break through the wall, but it can be done. I am pretty good at not procrastinating if a deadline is far away, but if I have no deadline (just a “oh, whenever you can get to it”) I will procrastinate until I finally realize it’s been a week and I haven’t even touched it.

The article claims “the third oft-cited explanation for unreasonable delay is arousal”:

The “arousal procrastinator” swears that he works best under pressure, loving—perhaps needing—the rush of a last-minute deadline to get started. Such a person believes procrastinating affords a “peak” or “flow” experience, defined by psychologist Mihály CsĂ­kszentmihályi of the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University as being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. Time disappears. The ego dissolves. … But procrastination does not facilitate flow.

Which made me think of Ryan’s blog post, which I had just read moments before. Funny how I read two similar articles today on the subject. I think the universe is trying to tell me something, so I should probably wrap this up and get back to my 12,000 word job that is due Friday.

The best way to avoid procrastination for me is to stick to my job board and ensure it always has a couple jobs on it at all times. But I’d love to hear from you as well. Are you a big procrastinator? It’s ok to admit it as long as you always make your deadlines. As Ryan states, the client doesn’t care how long it takes you to translate something; they only want it delivered on time.

What strategies do you invoke to keep from procrastinating? Share your tips in the comments.

TGIF: Some more Victor Borge brilliance January 16, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
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OK, now that I’ve gotten started watching Victor Borge videos on YouTube I can’t stop. Here are a couple more showing off his talent for humor and classical piano.

The Muppet Show was a “don’t miss” show for me when I was growing up. The Muppet Show was a television program featuring a cast of Muppets that was produced by Jim Henson and his team of Muppeteers from 1976 to 1981. The idea behind The Muppet Show was that the Muppets had a weekly show that would have famous human guest stars in a kind of vaudeville theater atmosphere.

Here is Victor Borge playing Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 and trading puns with my favorite Muppet of all-time, Rolf the Dog. Since I was learning how to play the piano at that time the show aired Rolf was a natural choice for me.

And here he is performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Bobby Benson and the Baby Band.

And last but not least, here he is performing the William Tell Overture backwards (from “The Best of Borge”).

TGIF: Victor Borge and Phonetic Punctuation January 16, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in TGIF.
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Sorry to those of you who subscribe with a reader. I changed my focus mid-post and the title didn’t jibe with the content of the post, which I didn’t notice until I had already published it. So I ended up deleting the entire post and reposting it here. This is without a doubt my favorite TGIF video subject so far. I hope you like it too.

Corinne at Thoughts on Translation got on my case today because I hadn’t posted a video. I took today off after finishing a big translation yesterday and was going to skip it, but I apparently can’t disappoint my fans of TGIF. 🙂 Here is an oldie but goodie – Victor Borge. My apologies for not posting sooner.

Victor Borge is a Danish-American entertainer whose nicknames were the Clown Prince of Denmark and the Great Dane. He is also a phenomenal pianist. His act blended comedy and piano playing. He was also outspoken against the Nazis. He escaped the Nazis because he was playing a concert in Switzerland. He escaped to Finland and, according to his Wikipedia entry, “traveled to America on “the last passenger ship that made it out of Europe prior to the war.” He died in December 2000 in Greenwich, Connecticut, after more than 75 years of entertaining.

He is most famous for his phonetic punctuation bit. I remember watching him on The Electric Company and Sesame Street as a child. He is absolutely brilliant. Enjoy!

And here is a variation on the classic with one of my favorite singers of all time, Dean Martin.

Translator, heal thyself January 15, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Tech tips.

I’m not one of those religious zealots, but certain Bible verses have crept into common language and I had to play off the phrase “Physician, heal thyself” from Luke 4:23 for this post because it fits. Despite the fact that I have written articles about the importance of backing up your work and the fact that I bought an external Maxtor hard drive a few months ago to replace my dead hard drive but never got around to installing Ghost to back up my data, I have learned my lesson and am about to eat crow.

Yesterday morning I woke up ready to translate all day to finish a large job that is due today. Unfortunately my computer would not boot up. It beeped a lot and the hard drive revved, but it wouldn’t boot. I called Susanne of In-House Translators – A Dying Breed in a panic, and we tried to troubleshoot the problem over the phone. Nothing we tried could make the computer boot up.

At that point I admitted defeat and called in a professional. I called a local computer troubleshooter who was able to come over within a half hour and take a look. He figured it was the power source and took it to his office to work on it. He e-mailed me the file I needed, and I was able to work on my backup computer in the living room. He is bringing the fixed computer back at any moment.

So what have I learned from this incident and what do I want you to realize? It does no good to have an external hard drive if you don’t back your data up on it. I had also gotten lax and stopped e-mailing the files I’m working on to my Gmail account. No more! As soon as I get the computer back and have finished my translation (should be done in the next half hour) I am downloading Ghost and implementing a backup solution. The computer guy is also suggesting I use his off-site backup service, which costs $20 a month. I think that might be a good investment.

So do what I say and not what I do and heal thyself! Get a computer backup system up and running if you haven’t yet. I was lucky – I had a backup computer with Trados already installed and could continue working once the tech recovered my file off my hard drive.

Mmm, crow pie sure tastes good!