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Taking advantage of the down time February 11, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.
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I’m sure it’s just an anomaly, but things have been quite slow recently for this normally overworked translator. I’ve taken advantage of the down time to prepare my financial statements and hand them over to my accountant (much earlier than I would normally have done!), send out some resumes to potential new clients, finish a test translation for an agency that I first tried to finish back in May ’08, and update my woefully neglected website (I hadn’t updated in the Translation Hints page in almost 5 years – ouch!). I’m sure things will pick up again any day now, so I am enjoying being able to take advantage of the lull. However, like most of you, I can’t help wondering if this trend will continue or whether business will pick up. I have a few promising irons in the fire, but nothing has materialized yet. I just need to keep telling myself that this too shall pass and soon I will be complaining about being overworked.

On a related note, I am really unhappy with the format of my Translation Hints page. It stems from 1995 when HTML was a brand new thing, so if anyone has any suggestions to make it easier to read and nicer to look at, by all means let me know. The only reason it is still in table form is because that is how it started out.

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Alltag bei Sprachmittlers: Übersetzer und die lieben Kunden February 9, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, German culture.
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Someone on one of my German-speaking listservs shared this link with us a while ago, and I found it too priceless not to share with you. It’s in German, but I might get around to translating it for the non-German speaking folks – providing the humor translates. It depends on how tomorrow goes.

TGIF: Man vs. computer February 6, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
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There are plenty of videos on Youtube of folks taking out their aggressions on their computers. Here are a couple of my favorites.

The video that started it all:

Angry German Kid (a.k.a. Der echte Gangster, Slikk or Leopold) is a 15-year-old actor from Bergisches Land, Germany. He plays a character, Der echte Gangster, a parody of a wannabe gangster. This video is him overreacting because he wants to play a video game. Remember folks, he’s just acting.

And my personal favorite:


Google Latitude: A monumentally bad idea? February 5, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tech tips.
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The folks at Google have just announced a new tool called Google Latitude. Maybe it’s just me, but I think this is just a really bad idea. It uses GPS to allow you to track your friends’ locations – and could be used for nefarious purposes by stalkers and crazy exes.

From the Google RSS feed:

Gmail is about keeping you in touch with the people you care about, independent of the large, or sometimes small, distances that might separate you from them. That’s precisely why email, IM, and voice and video chat are so powerful — the “where” is irrelevant.

With Google Latitude, a new feature on Google Maps for mobile and a gadget for iGoogle coming out today, we’re kind of turning that idea on its head, making the “where” matter again. Latitude allows you to see where your friends are located in real time on a map, anywhere in the world.

Latitude is a free tool that works on smartphones and PCs. If they have Latitude installed, users can use GPS and Google Maps to track other friends who are using the service. The service is an opt-in service, so people have to sign up for Google Latitude to be tracked . They can also limited exactly who can track them, and where they can be tracked. I can just see someone not knowing how to turn it off once they try it – or sometime taking their phone and installing it without their knowledge.

So what do you think? Do you think you might have a need for a tool like this? I don’t have any crazed stalkers or exes, but I still won’t be using this. I and most Americans value our privacy, so I honestly don’t think this will work.

Surviving the winter blahs February 4, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.
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I have been suffering from the mid-winter blahs for a couple weeks now. I live in Cleveland, Ohio, where we had 42 inches of snow, temps in the teens and single digits, and I think maybe one whole hour of sunshine last month. Being alone all day, every day with no one to talk to but my dog is not a recipe for emotional health when the weather traps me inside. The groundhog saw his shadow yesterday, so we are looking at six more weeks of snow, cold, and gray skies. It is a known fact that the lack of sunlight reduces your Vitamin D and all the happy endorphins in our brain chemistry, making you feel melancholy, listless, foggy, and sleepy. It makes us want to move less and eat more and work less and sleep more. The fact that the economy is crumbling and the flood of job offers has turned into a trickle – and my clients are taking forever to pay their overdue and outstanding invoices – isn’t helping. It’s enough to make me want to get a “real job” in an office somewhere.

But in the long run I have to remind myself that I love what I do and I would never do well in an office environment. I don’t do well with authority and have absolutely no tolerance for office politics whatsoever.

So in the meantime I need to embrace my malaise and fight against it at the same time. That means cuddling in with a good book and a dog on my lap when the mood strikes me, but I have also registered for the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer 3-Day from July 31-August 2 this year. I have already started training for it, having gone on an hour and a half guided hike through the Cleveland Metroparks with my dog this past Sunday. I can’t wait for the weather to get better so I can actually go for long walks outside. Treadmills just aren’t the same as hearing the birds chirp and watching the trees bud and bloom.

Being cooped up indoors all the time in the dead of winter, without the fresh air in our lungs, is bad for us, but when we do go outdoors it’s not very fun either. We had minus zero temperatures a few weeks ago, and temperatures are hovering at 15°F right now – not exactly conducive to a long walk outside. So what do you do to combat the mid-winter blahs (I don’t want to hear from any of you who live in warmer climates. I just might fly there and strangle you at this point. 🙂 )

Here are some of my ideas. I would welcome ideas from the rest of you:

1. Add some additional vitamin D to my diet, to make up for what we get from the sun (and go outside whenever the sun shines to tank up on some D).

2. Get out of the house and visit with old friends as often as possible – or even chat online or on the phone with distant friends. Facebook has proven to be a wonderful pick-me-up recently, since I have gotten back in touch with several old and very dear friends.

3. Get out of the house and smile and talk to other people whenever possible. I am now a Meals on Wheels volunteer and delivering meals to grateful shut-ins does wonders for your mood. My regular shift doesn’t start until the 17th though.

4. Fill and run my humidifier, every day and night. The static electricity and dry air are wreaking havoc with how I look, which plays a huge role in how I feel.

5. Go to someplace sunny for a long weekend. Anyone want to go on a last-minute trip to Cancun or Greece?

6. Embrace the winter and go snowshoeing. I have two classes scheduled for the next two weekends.

7. Go cross-country skiing.

8. Go walk on an indoor track.

9. Spend as much time as possible at the Rec Center pool. The heat feels wonderful – and so does the jacuzzi after the workout. And it is really fun being nice and warm and watching the wind and snow whip through the outdoor pool.

10. Eat more citrus fruits and pineapple

11. Put on sunny, cheerful music and dance in my living room. The Gypsy Kings or my summer mix CD might work.

12. Hit Bahama Breeze for one of their frozen cocktails and enjoy the live steel drum music.

13. I found this tip online: Hold your head up. When you’re down, you look down more and your head drops more. The way to start to choose to be happy when you’re feeling dragged down and unhappy is to stand up straighter.

Being happy in the dead of winter is a conscious choice. I choose to be happy and will be consciously pursuing that goal until spring hits. It’s a struggle every day, but it is worth it.