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Social media silence July 21, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.

Ever since I came back from my vacation in Florida to a dead computer (all I see is a wavy red checkerboard on the monitor and it won’t boot) I have been taking a break from social media. I’ve been working from my laptop, which although it has all the tools I need isn’t the most comfortable to work on. It also doesn’t have my Twitter add-on activated or a version of MS Money installed on it, which means I haven’t been entering my invoices into MS Money and balancing my finances. Luckily I had copied my latest quarterly spreadsheet and Taxes spreadsheet onto Dropbox before I left. Working from the laptop simply isn’t as convenient or as comfortable. I miss my ergonomic German keyboard and wide-screen monitor!

After trying to get a tech my friend recommended to come out (to no avail), my friend’s husband (who works for the Geek Squad) is coming to my place on Friday with a new computer (with Windows 7 and a parallel XP environment so I don’t have to upgrade all my dictionaries and tools). Luckily business has been somewhat slow, which I am relishing. I have had several small jobs a day and only two jobs of several thousand words each to occupy my time.

In return, my days have been filled with real life bothers like car repairs, taking the car to emissions testing so that I can renew my license plates, lining up repair service for my desk chair, gardening on my front porch, housework, taking the critters to the groomer, and manicures and massages (see – it’s not all bad news!). I promise to be back on Twitter once I have everything back up and running. I have to be honest though – I haven’t missed it all that much!


On a search for the best desk chair July 20, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tools, Work-related injuries.

The Simple Dollar featured an article entitled “How to Buy a Mattress” today and prefaces it by saying “the only two things you shouldn’t skimp on are your mattress and your shoes.” I agree, but would also expand on that to include a good desk chair. As freelancers we sit at our desks for 8-10 hours (sometimes more) a day. A good desk chair makes the difference between a sore back and feeling good at the end of the day (and the hours in between).

I have been preaching the importance of a good desk chair for years. When I lived with my parents right after moving back to the U.S. from Germany I had to sit on their wooden desk chair with a worn-out cushion. My back killed me. I hated sitting in it to work, but I had no other choice. I went out and bought a cheap desk chair from Office Max, and the arm broke off the metal arm joist within a month.

One of my students at Kent State proudly reported that she bought a desk chair with a built-in massage and was thrilled. You don’t have to go that overboard, but you should definitely put some consideration into the kind of desk chair you want.

I have been through just about every incantation of a desk chair out there. I had an exercise ball, which forces proper spine alignment and is constantly making you change positions to balance yourself. It also ensures you don’t have constant shoulder and neck pain since you aren’t hunched over a desk. My exercise ball had knobs/teats on the bottom so it wouldn’t roll away when you walked away. I loved it, but I had to leave it behind when I moved to the U.S. I also bought a kneeling desk chair, which killed my knees. I hated it. A lot of my fellow German translators in Germany swear by a desk chair called The Swopper, which (like the exercise ball) encourages “active sitting” and is “designed to help strengthen your back and abs, help relieve lower back pain, promote mental acuity and assist with good posture.” If I had the room I would get a treadmill desk like Corinne’s. Maybe once I buy a house and am not living in a rental…

Anyway, my chair of choice is the Aeron chair. I bought my Herman Miller Aeron chair (used – thanks Susanne III!) several years ago. The Aeron chair features a “sleek skeleton of metal and mesh. All interlocking parts and ergonomic contours.” (Source) It comes in 3 different sizes for various body types and allows you to adjust the height, the tilt, seat, etc. I love my Aeron chair, but it died about a year and a half ago. Well, the tilt hydraulic died, but the chair itself was still usable. I sadly relegated it to the living room computer and bought another desk chair from the used furniture store downtown (after sitting in just about every chair they had). The seat on my Aeron chair cracked last week. I bit the bullet and contacted customer service, figuring I had a pricey repair ahead of me but knowing it would be cheaper than buying another desk chair. The customer service rep took my info and called me back to report that the repair will be covered by warranty (despite the fact that I bought it used) and the tech will be coming out some time this week to my house to repair it. Woohoo!

Other freelancers prefer standing up when they work and use something like The Stand Up Desk. Standing up while working alleviates back pain. I also think it saves space since you work up and not out (meaning spreading out stuff across the desk). I’m tempted to use this concept in my living room when I redo it soon just to save floor space (since I rarely sit at the living room computer).

So what about you, gentle readers? What desk chair or method do you swear by? Is there something revolutionary out there that I may have missed?

Free webinar on Working with Direct Clients July 13, 2011

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

On July 20, Chris Durban will be talking about working with direct clients in a webinar organized through Speaking of Translation. Corinne McKay will be interviewing her. The July 20 webinar is 30 minutes long, but you have to sign up. It’s free, and there will be a Q&A session after the interview.
For details and to register, see http://speakingoftranslation.com/upcoming-webinars/direct-clients/

Dear Client: July 5, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.

Thank you so much for your e-mail this morning. Seeing as the invoice you so kindly tell me  the accounting departement [sic] has told you will be paid tomorrow is 85 days overdue (when you promised me it would be paid in 30 days – I still have that e-mail), I am sure you can understand why I have absolutely no interest in translating your 811 word translation “from Germany to English.”

On second thought, this e-mail isn’t even worth a reply…

I’m back but I’m not… July 4, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.

There’s nothing like coming home after a week-long vacation to find your office computer on the fritz. It won’t even boot. All I see is a red flickering checkerboard on the monitor. It appears to be a graphics card problem, but I may have to buy a new computer. Ugh! Thank goodness for Carbonite, since everything of importance is backed up. If any of you geniuses know what might be causing this problem please let me know. I will be calling a repair guy first thing tomorrow…

A ♥ for Language Blogs July 4, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Translation, Translation Sites.

I was on vacation when Judy and Dagmar Jenner from Translation Times suggested a little experiment for translation bloggers to write a post listing their favorite language-related blogs. I don’t need a copy of their book, as I already own it, so I’m just doing this to share some blogs with my readers that they might not otherwise know. It seems most of those who have embraced this idea are introducing their readers to blogs that other bloggers have not suggested yet. I was going to avoid duplicates, but a lot of my favorites (like Thoughts on Translation, Translate This!, Translation Tribulations, There’s Something About Translation, Blogging Translator and the aforementioned Translation Times) have been mentioned and deserve mentioning again. Plus, I still have about 250 unread blog posts in my RSS feed after my vacation and can’t guarantee that they haven’t already been suggested. For what it’s worth, here are my favorite blogs (that are still active – I was shocked by how many translation blogs I have in my feed that haven’t posted in over a year or more!):

1. Naked Translations by Céline Graciet: this blog is completely bilingual (in English and French) and I can’t even imagine how much time she puts into each post.
2. Mox’s Blog by Alejandro Moreno-Ramos: Who doesn’t enjoy seeing our industry lampooned in comic form? Alejandro’s insights are hilarious.
3. Catherine Translates by Catherine Jan, a French to English translator who is from Canada (southern Ontario) but now lives in France. Her posts are insightful and interesting. She also posts interviews with notable translators.
4. Bunch of Thoughts on Translation by John Bunch, a German to English translator. He has been a translator since 1996 and a full-time freelancer since 2007. I also follow him on Twitter.
5. The Translator’s Teacup by Rose Newell, who writes about the translation industry and life as a freelance translator. I recently enjoyed her two-part series on what makes a good, successful and happy freelance translator.
6. false friends, good and bad translation, denglish, Tipps für Übersetzer by Martin Crellin. The blog is a mixture of German and English (but mostly German) and is often written quite tongue-in-cheek based on actual experiences with German clients who feel they “can English.”
7. Financial Translation Blog by Miguel Llorens. It is nice to hear well-reasoned arguments about how the sky is not falling (aka MT will not be taking over the industry as we know it).
8. The GITS Blog by Ryan Ginstrom, a Japanese to English translator and programmer. Ryan recently moved from Japan to take a job with Nintendo in the U.S. and his blog hasn’t been updated in a little while. I hope once things settle down he will be posting again soon.
Honorable mention: The Masked Translator (oh, where art thou, MT?!?! We miss you!).

Favorite non-language-related blogs:
1. Hyperbole and a Half – because it is pee-in-your-pants, fall-off-your-chair funny
2. Screw You! – a website by a freelance writer who rails against poorly paid writing jobs and job boards (surely we can all relate).
3. The Simple Dollar – because every freelancer should live frugally and understand investing.
4. Meet the Germans by Rory McLean – he lives in Berlin and writes about German culture for the Goethe Institut. It’s quite interesting.
5. The Grounded Traveler – because translators are at heart grounded travelers and love to travel. The author (Andy) normally writes about Germany and living as an expat there, but he recently married his wife in the U.S. (who he met online through Twitter) so he is also writing about the U.S. through the eyes of an expat who hasn’t been back in 10 years.
Honorable mention: Letters from Germany – even though Francesca died and her friend no longer maintains the blog, reading through the blog posts is well-worth your time if you are interested in German culture

I have to say that I am enjoying these lists. There are lots of blogs out there I was unaware of!