Mar 28, 2003

Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose -- and you allow him to make war at pleasure. If today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us' but he will say to you, 'Be silent; I see it, if you don't.'" -

- Abraham Lincoln


Death by Packet and Smarting the Stupid War. Telexpo was a drowsy affair, at least for the interpreter crew. Very little work to be done, which means that the gringos didn't fly down to Brazil because they were too cozy watching CNN. We idled the days away in our booths, reading magazines, gossiping, walking the corridors and eventually stopping at the digital TV booth to look at the alarming difference of the images shown by Al Jazeera and CNN, enough to turn you schizofrenic on the spot, let alone the fact that my first husband was also sporting one of those Serviços Oficiais- Intérprete badges.

That ought to have been quite a momentous encounter, but it's such a done deal with him, everything so perfectly settled in mind and heart that I got more of a thrill by soaking in Al Jazeera, reading the newspaper that made my blood bubble with rage, laughing at the Founded and Losted sign, that is, when I was not too busy obsessing about the war.

Death by packet, title of this modest and obviously pointless post, was a line from a keynote speaker. He used the term in Japanese, and explained that it means to surf the Internet so much with your cellphone that you're doomed to death by the avalanche of packets piling up on your phone bill. It was a great enthusiastic talk, the interface looks brilliant, shiny and sleek and very much like this good old Internet of ours and the name of the thing is i-mode, in case the Hairy Eyeball is wondering. By the way, the number of active users is not uptodate in that site. My keynote speaker said it's 37.5 million users in Japan alone. And they are looking for a partner in Brazil, so there you have, a golden chance for the Brazilian carriers who are regular readers of my blog.

Maybe next week my mood will be lifted by this speaker, who I'm going to interpret on a videoconference, yet another proof that gringos are not flying anywhere at least any time soon. And next Friday, there is this ritzy 15-minute assignment for one of the seven sisters of oil. Such a sweet deal and quite glamorous as it is one of the events paving the way to the Brazilian Grand Prix. But maybe the most politically-inclined readers among me will understand that it sickens me considerably to have anything at all to do with an oil company right now, except perhaps filling up at the gas station.

I've been having these self-aggrandisizing fantasies in which the speaker will start praising the American invasion of Iraq and that I will simply put down my pen, because on top of everything, this is going to be a consecutive assignment, get up from my chair and leave resolutely, slamming the door behind me.

Of course, this is strictly a canapé, champagne and lubricants affair. Not a chance of that happening. But sometimes, I almost wish it would.


Mar 25, 2003

Bin Laden, Poster-boy for Foz do Iguaçu. Just before the rumors start spreading that the owner of this blog has been hit by a slightly disoriented missile en route to Kirkuk, here are some astonishing news on the marketing strategies going on in Foz do iguaçu. As everybody knows, this town famous for its cataracts has fallen in disgrace ever since a calendar featuring touristy shots of the waterfalls was found hanging on one of Al Qaeda's caves of iniquity. Visitor rates are swirling down the drain, counterclock wise. So the tourism promotion if fighting back by putting up billboards of Bin Laden, tourist extraordinaire. Call it twisted logic.

The world has turned upside down: I am addicted to CNN BBC, TV5, TVE, DW war coverage, I don't blog anymore and yet all is well: love, offspring and health. And lots of work: I'm off to Telexpo this afternoon, with fiber optics acronyms floating in my brain and ready to jump out of my mouth like a stream of polished jewels of incomprehensible geometry.


Mar 11, 2003

Translation Garden. A lot of interesting stuff for English into Chinese translators, including tutorials, articles, samples and problems. Totally unrelated: Panjabi MC is great! And yesterday I caught a TM segment of unknown provenance in my HD with the translation Meio do Leste for Middle East. Yeeks.

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Égüinha Pocotó, Ex-Girlfriend and Other Niceties. Some considerations on euphemisms for lover in post-carnaval Brazil.


Mar 10, 2003

Greetings from the Titanic. The translation market has never been this bad. Honestly, it makes me too depressed to blog about anything. I've been getting e-mails and e-mails related to quasi-projects that eventually are awarded to "translators who accept our rates". Instead of the coo-coo from Outlook everytime I get a e-mail, I should set the audio file with a violin playing just like in the demise of Titanic.


Mar 5, 2003

Why oh Why? Is there such a thing as a software development cycle that turns your world upside just when you're starting to get an inkling on how to update a TOC or index in FrameMaker 5.5? I was too lazy to convert my files into .MIFs so I could flatten them with my steamroller Trados skills. Now I suffer and whine and get helpful phone calls from an agency in India when all I want is an excuse to move incognito to Portofino.

Carnaval is over. Thank God! Now we can all concentrate on more important tasks, such as attending the Buenos Aires Translation Congress to see José Saramago speak, increasing the number of sessions with my shrink and joining brains with the Green-Eyed Temptation for the creation of a glossary resource that will be the pride of the Internet. Have I mentioned I am now the moderator of the English into Portuguese community? Yep. That's why I have been a little aloof...such a great word, aloof, almost as delectable as ajar.

Other nerdy comments from the translation foundry: I loved working in ForeignDesk. This is the best CAT tool I've ever seen. It's fast, intuitive, has a great search function and propagates like there is no tomorrow. Rumor has it that Lionbridge developed it and then let it go open source at some point.

A little bit of disclosure won't hurt I guess. I did the linguistic testing for some localized Flash games the other day, which drove the Mermie into a frenzy. What can mom possibly be doing at the computer? No, that can't be work! Mom is playing at the computer! As the deadline loomed and after showing her the entire site four times, I had to barricade the door to the office. I also have to report that looking at those pink-pastel-wishy-washy images and listening to the bird chirping in the park for three hours may have impaired my ability to think and operate heavy machinery. Permanently.


Mar 3, 2003

Unsettling, Disquieting. Living with Michael Jackson was aired in Brazil last night. What really puzzles the Mermaid is: why is there an acknowledgement to Uri Geller in the credits?


Mar 2, 2003

Carnaval. It's been a long time since I posted, but before the hiatus broadens so that I begin eyeing the Blogger interface with the same guilty countenance I have when I meet friends I have neglected for long, let me make a little post about Carnaval. Truth of the matter is that I don't really like this time of folly and overcrowded highways, especially when the thermomether has climbed to the upper 100s and when perched there, the marker grimaces and throws you raspberries saying that it simply won't come down. Two nights ago in Piracicaba we had to sleep under damp towels to cool down, never mind the ceiling fan turned on at full throtle.

But Carnaval is here or so I am reminded by the kiddie activities going on. Since no Carnaval is complete without a costume, the Young Mermie and I went shopping for an outfit last week. Since the reais are clinking ever more slowly in my bank account, we went to Fradinho's Presentes, a cheap neighborhood store which attires itself according to the seasonal mood. When it's Halloween, this gringolandia fest that only in the past 10 years has been celebrated in Brazil, Fradinho's is all about skulls and witches. Easter? Bunnies and chocolate eggs galore can be acquired at discounted rates Fradinho's, which also possesses a bootleg Barbie line that's the envy of the street peddlers of Taiwan. But I am sure that the readers are more interested in the trinkets that make up a traditional Carnaval stash of goodies.

I bought the Mermie a bisnaga d'água, um martelo sonoro, confete, serpentina in addition to a white and silver ballerina costume at an astounding size 8 (the Mermie is 3 years old, but tall and chunky and getting chunkier). I think I was probably much more excited than the Mermie about the Carnaval Day at Tartaruga School, because I sent her dressed in full regalia and with the martelo sonoro in hand one day before schedule. Hmmm. Very interesting indeed, considering how one of my earliest memories is going to a day trip to the zoo, packed with a special lunch box containing boiled eggs and all of my animal figurines, only to discover that the day trip was supposed to be the next day. I remember feeling quite dismayed at my mom's lack of attention to the kiddie agenda and protocols. Luckily, the Mermie has less regard to conventions than I did, because the teacher reported she was only too glad to parade in the sandbox with her dainty ballerina outfit while the other kids wore their drab navy blue uniforms.

The next day we improvised another costume for her, this time, a pink ballerina tutu with a Little Mermaid maillot, not as dashing as the first one, I'm afraid. So now she has two costumes to choose from when we go to the Clube Athletico Paulistano Matinée Ball next Fat Tuesday. The Hairy Hungarian and I will be also attending the Monday Ball at the Paulistano, not that I care much about these balls, which only remind me of the drunken Carnavais of my teenage years. But the Hairy Hungarian is a foreigner and has no recollections of the follies of yesteryear and he likes to party hard, even with a busted knee.

The good thing about Carnaval is that it lasts only five days. I couldn't take the continuous broadcasting of the desfile de escolas de samba, with that poor sound quality that makes every samba-enredo sound the same, although watching the naked girls is fun, I admit it.

What I really like about Carnaval, however, is neither the excitement nor the glitter and masquerades. In the days preceding and following Carnaval, what I really love is looking under bridges and overpasses for the carros alegóricos. The escolas de samba many times lack the space to store them, so they are left unattended under bridges, the costumary home of the homeless. You can spot them along the major thoroughfares or in forgotten alleyways, shining like a miracle under the scorching sun, never complete and admirable as you seem them on TV, but rather downtrodden or half-built, the matte ossature showing through the sparkles of illusion. At once an augury and a summation of the euphory on the streets.

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