Sep. 21st, 2012 09:21 pm
alexpgp: (OldGuy)
The rules for this meme: Grab the closest book to you, turn to page 52, post the 5th sentence as your status. Don't mention the title. Copy the rules as part of your post.

Hmmm. Not sure what posting anything as "status" might be, but here goes...

riffle-riffle Here we are... 1... 2... 3... 4... 5!
Она была спрятана в заднем кармане брюк.
My translation: "It was hidden in the back pocket of the trousers."

Or, considering the context of the previous sentence, "of his trousers." With that additional information, I imagine it is now child's play to guess the title of the book. :^)

P.S. I probably would have skipped this had not there been a book right next to my keyboard when I saw the prompt in my friends' list, and was curious to see what the result might be!
alexpgp: (Default)
I don't usually go in for memes, but this one, via LJ friend [livejournal.com profile] zia_narratora seemed like an interesting challenge. As it turns out, so has keeping up with a death-march translation project, but since I have broken the "10,000-words-to-go" barrier, I figure I ought to be able to kick back and do a few mental pushups of some other kind.

The assignment? Quoting [livejournal.com profile] zia_narratora's post: I will give you five words that I think of when I think of you. You will post them to your blog and post what those words make you think of, in depth.

I beg pardon if I take liberties with the last part of the specification. "In depth," is not exactly something you want to ask of someone who can go on, and on, and on... but I digress... I shall, instead, write for 10 minutes on each subject


I am told my first travel commentary came from the back of my mother's 1954 Plymouth, when, in response to her turning onto our street one day, I cried "I don't wanna go home!" I had the travel bug early, I guess.

My mother did her best to keep me at home. She failed. If it wasn't one thing (or perhaps I should say "one place") it was another. Florida for intercession, South Carolina for Marine boot camp, eventually getting completely out of control when I took a job in Moscow at the height of détente between the Soviet Union and the United States. But I'm not prepared to catalog the places I've visited.

There are people who are perfectly satisfied remaining exactly where they are. My parents were like that. And while I am certainly not against a stable lifestyle, there is something about the call of the road that makes my heart beat just a bit faster. Pack a bag. Meet new people. See new places. Eat new food (and of course, drink new beverages!). Figuring out how people go about their daily lives may have useful application to my own. Checking out neat stuff you can't normally get back home is just plain fun.

And yet, in the end, travel is not about where you are, but the ideas you run into, and in the end, reaffirming the truth of T.S. Eliot's observation, that "the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."


I find it curious that anyone would think of asking me to say a few (or many) words about suspense, because I'm not really a big fan, as a spectator—especially when people go out of their way to heighten it (the name "Hitchcock" comes to mind). When combined with the supernatural, as is often done in horror films, I simply cannot stand it.

Of course, if think about it for a little while, I suppose I have written things that have turned out to be suspenseful for the reader. In defense of what I have stated in the previous paragraph, it should be borne in mind that in writing said pieces, I knew—generally speaking—how things were going to turn out, so there was no suspense involved for me at all (except perhaps, whether I would make a deadline or not).


Thinking about things has always been fun for me, especially when it comes to puzzles. Figuring things out—and figuring out how to figure things out—didn't come naturally to me in school, but eventually, through a combination of parental example-setting (my stepfather literally wore out two bilingual dictionaries and was in the process of putting a third out of its misery when he died, as he just had to know the meaning of every new word he encountered in books, magazines, and newspapers, while my mother learned several languages in the course of her life, including Spanish at about the time I was in high school, in order to continue to work as a teacher) and the little rushes I experienced from a series of "Aha!" moments in junior and senior high school, I actually came to think of thinking, of studying, of figuring things out, as, well... fun. Later, when I started playing with various techniques people have used since ancient times to help them remember things and to calculate numbers in my head, the fun only got more intense.


Language is many things. Obviously, it's a way to communicate with other people. But it also opens a door onto how those other people think, though the idioms they use and the standard structures that permeate the grammar. Even humor provides insight, because while many jokes are impervious to translation, so many others are. So in that way, one might say language is a means of gathering information about a culture, making one better equipped to compare and contrast, and to travel within it.

Language can also be a weapon. And not just in the sense of getting people to do what you want (ultimately, war is an exercise in getting people to do what you want), but also in the sense that (a) if you keep your mouth shut, people will sometimes say the most interesting—useful—things in your presence, and (b) if you don't keep your mouth shut, you can establish yourself as someone not to be taken advantage of.

Language can be entertainment. I love the music of poetry. I love reading books without having to deal with the filter of translation. (That's not to say there's anything inherently bad about translation—which is, after all, what I do to put bread on the table—but simply to note that stories are best enjoyed unfiltered, even if you have to dig a little to understand what makes them tick.)


Winston Churchill summarized Russia with his famous observation that the country was "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." And despite the end of the Soviet era, there's still a lot of truth to that statement.

Back in the 60s and 70s, the two prevailing schools of thought about the Soviet Union—and while to many, "Russia" and "Soviet Union" were synonymous, technically, the former was but a part of the latter—were the "no-good-commies" school and the "they're-just-folks-as-good-as-if-not-better-than-us" school.

My stepfather had given me a pretty good summary of the former; various aspects of American society (and in particular, my university experience), the latter. It was this disconnect that likely drove me to seek a job in Moscow at the height of the era of US–Soviet détente, where I saw for myself—to the extent I was allowed to—what life was like in the USSR.

Since my first trip in 1975, I've been to Russia more times than I can count. And each time, there's always something new to learn. Some new surprise.

alexpgp: (Default)

Take a picture of yourself RIGHT NOW! Don't change your clothes. Don't fix your hair. Just take the picture. Post that picture with no editing. Post these instructions with your picture.


I am a slave to fashion, non?


P.S. Copycatted from LJ friend [livejournal.com profile] bandicoot, FWIW.
alexpgp: (Default)
LJ friend [livejournal.com profile] greymaiden asks:
Thoughts on Yaoi? This I gotta see.
And so...

I should remark, at the outset of this essay, that I posted the original text of the "meme theme" without editing it, or imposing conditions, so as not to dilute its impact.

As it happens, prior to looking up the definition of yaoi on Wikipedia I had no idea what it was, and had this been that party game where one guesses or makes up a definition for an exotic-sounding word, I would have come up with something like "of, or pertaining to a subordinate grouping of indigenous Polynesian peoples, distantly related to the Maori of New Zealand."

My guess would have traveled wide of the mark, it would appear.

As it turns out, despite being in need of attention from a subject matter expert, the Wikipedia article provides the following definition, which for our purposes I will assume to be accurate:
Yaoi (やおい) is a publishing genre which focuses on male/male relationships and is marketed at females.
Having had no idea that such a niche existed, I can honestly state that, up to sitting down to write this post, I've never had any thoughts about yaoi. Moreover, the very first thing that crosses my mind upon learning about it is utter admiration for the kind of marketing mentality that is required to recognize such a market and then exploit it!
"Hey, Boss!"

"Yeah, whatcha want Nakamura?"

"You know that awful story we got the other day, about the two guys...?"

"Yeah," laughs the boss, "what a load of junk!" Then regaining his composure, he snaps, "What about it?"

"Well, I took the liberty of taking the manuscript home after work on Saturday, to have something to line my parakeet cage with, and my girlfriend got hold of it," Nakamura paused to bow in apology.

The boss grunted in dismissal of this violation of company policy, "And...?"

"Well, she sits down and doesn't pay any attention to me the rest of the night until she puts down the last page and then asks me if there is any more to the story," says Nakamura, "and then she disappeared somewhere yesterday morning, after which I start getting calls last night from all her friends asking the same question."

"Nakamura," said the boss, his eyes lighting up, "I think we've stumbled across something here!"
Yeah, I know. It's a little far-fetched.

Then again, I suppose the same thing could be said for the phenomenon of manga and anime in general. As an indirect result of my daughter's former job with a major U.S. publisher of anime, I've no doubt seen more of the genre - and read more manga - than some overwhelming portion of Americans, so when I am told that most consumers of the stuff are actually past the age of puberty, my brow furrows with puzzlement.

Why? Because with some few exceptions, such as Ghost in the Machine and the Claymore series, there seems to me to be not enough plot in the stories to support the weight of even one angel dancing on top of it. So is the point, then, to leer at animated images of prepubescent girls wearing school uniforms? I mean, by comparison, the adventures of Wonder Woman make sense.

Of the titles that are unmistakably aimed at a crowd that seeks sexual titillation in its animated escape (here I have in mind the likes of Crying Freeman), well... my puzzlement grows exponentially. Animated nudity? Animated sex? Bo-ring!

As far as yaoi is concerned, I think I may have read one volume of manga in this category, the title of which escapes me, where one of the main characters is a police officer, if memory serves. There didn't seem to be much happening in the story - at least I don't remember anything of it - but I am left with the impression that some kind of effort was made to create a sexual tension between him and his sidekick. Perhaps that tension was released, somehow, in subsequent volumes, I don't know.

Moreover - and this summarizes my views on the subject - I don't actually care.

alexpgp: (Barcode)
Looks like this one is coming/going around again:

Post the first sentence from the first post of every month in 2007.

The "live" goings-on in Times Square were replayed for us out here in the sticks (Mountain Time), where we got to see Dick Clark one more time (not speaking so well, but still carrying on... many more, Dick!), and it's now "officially" 2007.
Events meshed well this morning.
...but at least I'm home now.
The neat thing about programming with C++Builder is the ability to create applications out of components that, in a programming sense, already "know" how to do things.
Via the NYT
Today's stint at the MCC went well, capped off with a fairly long discussion of what's called the "pressure profile" aboard the ISS during and after the docked phase of flight 13A (coming up in the near future).
Just short of midnight, I came to a convenient stopping point, with 4000 source words left in the main document.
One of the side effects of having clients who pay over terms longer than 30 days (and sometimes even longer than whatever period they commit to) has been a perceived need to send monthly statements at the end of the month, which corresponds to the time that all work for the month for such clients must be invoiced.
Someday, when I have more time, I shall have to find a dependable, inexpensive replacement for iTunes (I tried Winamp, but it eventually succeeded in corrupting the database on my iPod).
I am told that translators working in Europe often have to wait for inordinately long periods to get paid, and I've proof it's no exaggeration.
Shiloh almost invariably gets me out of bed at 7 am, whereupon I pull on some clothes and we go outside, where she does her thing out in front of the house.
The translation is finished and has been in the editor's inbox since 8:30 am his time.
I'm just noticing: 5 of the 12 deal with work. (Probably an under-representation.)

alexpgp: (Default)
Caught from LJ friend [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll:

Explanation and other locations
I shall have to read more about this, as - despite the scientific look - it's not immediately apparent to me what this diagram represents.



alexpgp: (Default)

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