Thursday, October 6, 2011

Can 2011 Just End Already?

So, 2011 has to be one of the absolutely shittiest years ever. The universe decided that it would take my mom and one of my best friends from us. Why? I don’t know, but I would give anything to bring both of them back.

I typically pride myself on the control I keep over my emotions and my ability to keep things in check and rational. However, there has been absolutely nothing rational about this year, and it’s been a crazy roller coaster of emotions all year. I find myself bursting into tears at the mere thought of my mother or Lori. Luckily, I’m able to control it when I’m around others so that I don’t become a blubbering mess of snot and tears and look like a complete emotionally loose cannon. But that is how I feel this year – like I have absolutely no control over anything anymore, least of all my emotions.

I had already decided that this year was going to be my last one in Korea – I just felt it was soon time to move back to the U.S. and start living my life again around those that I love and care about. This year is just persistent in its “do it now” mentality and shoving it in my face that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. I’m probably one of the worst procrastinators that I know. Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll start that blog next week. I’ll call so-and-so this weekend. I’ll start that new training or degree program next year. Why can’t I do it now? I know everything can’t be done immediately and if I go at every day full tilt, I’ll just run myself into the ground. But I can try. Most of all, I can make sure that I don’t put things off, especially when it comes to my loved ones. My friends and family mean the world to me and I hope they know that even if I don’t stay in touch as often as I should.

Losing two people that I loved very dearly is just more of a wake-up call than anything else I can imagine. My mom being diagnosed with leukemia so suddenly and losing a battle that she fought so hard to win was tough to take. Mom took it better than any of us and found herself in the role of comforter to those around her. She made peace with the fact that she was going to die very soon and began to plan her funeral so we wouldn’t have to. She even picked out her own casket. It was her last hurrah, so she might as well be able to go out like she wanted. She rejected my song idea from Linkin Park, though – can’t imagine why (Leave Out All the Rest – I’ll have it played at my funeral). People wonder where I get my weirdness from – well, if they knew my mom, they’d know. She had a good sense of humor and would let it out once in a while. She could joke around and kick your butt in Rummy (I let her win most of the time *cough*). She adopted my brother’s, sister’s, and my friends as her own and they would end up just calling her “mom” or the occasional “Miss Patty” – she hated being called ma’am though. I know she made the cancer ward at St. John’s a brighter place even if only in her own room. She refused to let people be sad or cry when they visited. The nursing staff came to love her like the rest of us and some of them cried with the rest of us when mom was discharged after there was nothing else that could be done. One of my biggest regrets is that I was in S. Korea when she passed and I couldn’t be here for her in the very end or for my brother, sister, and aunts. I only hope she knew how much I love her even though I wasn’t the best daughter and didn’t visit or call as often as I should have.

Lori was one of my best friends over the past 12 years. Sure we had our issues like most friends, but at the core we were friends. One of the things that Lori always said was, “Friends are the family you choose.” And it’s totally true. That’s the great thing about close friends – you don’t have to love them or feel obligated to – you do it because you want to and because you love them for who they are. Lori had many demons to fight in her life, from being gay to alcoholism. She was finally at a place in her life where I believe she was truly happy – she was in a stable and healthy relationship, she was working, and she was going back to school. She was doing volunteer work that she loved and was living near her parents and nieces and nephew again. She had the brightest blue eyes and mischievous smile that just told you she had had an inappropriate thought or was up to something. She had a horrible sense of humor and found things funny that shouldn’t be found funny, which is probably why we got along so well. We had many late nights at Denny’s having coffee with Brennan or Wade doing homework or just bs’ing. I’ll remember and miss those days immensely. I’ll also miss her greeting of “hey homo,” and her exasperated sigh and “dammit, Libby” any time I’d say anything remotely negative about myself (even jokingly). She was a caring soul and wonderful person that can’t be summed up in a short paragraph, but most importantly to me, she was one of my closest friends and I miss her more than I can possibly express here or in any words.

So 2011 can basically kiss my big ol’ fat ass and end already because I’m totally over it. I just have to keep reminding myself that life is too short to let things slip by. Hug your wife/husband/bf/gf and tell them you love them; go back to school; rescue a puppy or kitty from the animal shelter; joke and laugh with your friends one night a week at least; make sure people know you care. There is a quote from Kung Fu Panda that pretty much sums it up (yes, Kung Fu Panda – shut up). Master Oogway tells Po, “…Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present."
Nothing is guaranteed, especially not tomorrow, so live for today and make the most of what you have, which is the moment.

Leave Out All the Rest

I dreamed I was missing
You were so scared
But no one would listen
‘Cause no one else cared
After my dreaming
I woke with this fear
What am I leaving when I’m done here?
So if you’re asking me I want you to know

When my time comes forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
Don’t resent me and when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest
Leave out all the rest

Don’t be afraid, I’ve taken my beating
I’ve shed what I’ve made
I’m strong on the surface, not all the way through
I’ve never been perfect, but neither have you
So if you’re asking me I want you to know

When my time comes, forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
Don’t resent me and when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest
Leave out all the rest

Forgetting all the hurt inside you’ve learned to hide so well
Pretending someone else can come and save me from myself
I can’t be who you are

When my time comes, forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
Don’t resent me and when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest
Leave out all the rest

Forgetting all the hurt inside you’ve learned to hide so well
Pretending someone else can come and save me from myself
I can’t be who you are
I can’t be who you are

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Blast from the Past: random thoughts

February 21, 2006

Well, life is plodding along as usual. Same classes, same job, same shit...different week. One interesting thing is I've gotten to know a friend better. So that's pretty cool, I really enjoy talking with her and spending time with her, she's pretty interesting...I've learned alot this past week. We're going to go see a movie tomorrow and get the hell out of the blackhole of Rolla for a bit. I've been wanting to see this movie ever since I saw the preview on MySpace (Bless you Tom). So I'm actually going to go see a movie instead of just saying that I'm going to go see it, which has been a rarity this past year....somebody is calling the department phone and it's 11pm...that's kind of creepy. Well I'm not answering it, that's just a horror flick waiting to happen .
I read submissions for the campus literary magazine today. Some of them were really good...after reading some I'd rather jab my eyes with a pointy, hot stick.
I also watched a video from Taty's new was a little odd. But I like the song "All About Us". The girls are still as hot as ever. :)
That's about it for my past few days I suppose...

Blast from the Past: Blah blah blah

February, 3, 2006

So it's about 5 o'clock and I;m sitting in my office trying to figure out what work I have to do for the next week. yeehaw. I'm surprised that so many faculty members are still here, I guess they really don't have lives. I guess that's why I love my department so much. That and there's a really hot professor :)...some students too.... Oh well. If only my gaydar worked.
I had a horrible weekend in Springfield stemming from my sister being a wretched bitch a lot of the time...she's in a good mood right now fortunately. Work kind of sucked too...but oh well, it pays the bills. If only a couple of my co-workers would fall off of the face of the planet it would be better. *drifts into a dreamland of a pleasant job* but alas....they still exist. I'm so looking forward to being able to leave that job, but I'll miss my customers. They make it worthwhile. And I'll miss Gene too...and maybe John.
I'm discovering that the pop-up blocker works when I don't want it to and doesn't work when I want it to. Piece of shit. Think I'll start using Mozilla or something.
Back to the grind...blegh.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blast from the Past: just another week

So, I decided that I'll start moving (some of) my blogs from years ago on MySpace to this blog. I won't be moving all of them since they won't be appropriate, and I'll probably be censoring them as well (in case a prospective employer is bored enough to read these). So, except for some censoring, they'll pretty much be the same blogs from years ago. I'm thinking I may move a few a day or so.

January 21, 2006 - Just Another Week

It's been kind of a weird week and past weekend. A little sleep deprived due to working a hella-long shift Saturday night and then having a toothache all week. I could kill Grant for calling sick....and John for being late the next day. I don't know why it's so damn hard to get up for work at 3 in the goddamn afternoon. I get to work on time at 6 in the ****ing morning and I have to get up at 3am to get there. At least Gene does a good job...and he should...he's the manager. I get to have my wisdom teeth yanked on the 31st...oh joy. I have a lot of reading to do for my classes, I'm indifferent about one of them unfortunately. I just wish I knew where we were going in the class...that would be nice. The professor is insane though. Today after the class I TA for her she stated I'm going home and having a gin and tonic, bwahahaha". No wonder we don't have any syllabus yet. I think it's getting to be about my bedtime....I hate having to get up so early to go to work. I think I'll fix a grilled cheese and tomato soup for din din and read part of the Abhorsen, yeah...that sounds like a good evening. Stupid job.

Monday, August 15, 2011

When is it too soon?, OK, all of the time when I read the news on, I’ll check the entertainment section to see what’s going on in the entertainment world back home in the U.S. - I figure the lives of celebrities have to be more exciting than mine. Sometimes it’s worth reading, sometimes it’s not, sometimes it’s good news, but usually it’s not. One of the more recent not-good-news articles was the death of Amy Winehouse. Comments from readers ranged from heartfelt sadness to people making wisecracks about the cause of death coupled with her last name. The cause of death speculations were valid due to the facts that the news of her death came shortly after news of her being booed of off stage because she was so out of it and of her recently coming out of a stint at rehab.

Why the joking and ridiculing so soon after her passing (literally, just hours after the news broke)? Why are we so quick to demonize and have no sympathy for a celebrity that dies tragically? It should also be noted that at the time of this writing, her autopsy results are still inconclusive: her family insists that she had been clean and looking forward to life at the time of her death. I’m probably guilty of a few off-color thoughts myself that I immediately felt bad for having in the first place – but with my off sense of humor, it’s to be expected at times. When Heath Ledger died, I don’t remember people being so crass about it. Was it because his battle with drugs and alcohol was kept out of the public eye? We didn’t see him on the front page of TMZ after being arrested for a DUI? I imagine the same persecution would happen if Lindsay Lohan were to suffer the same fate.

Is it simply because we don’t recognize celebrities as having the same weaknesses that we do? They have all of this fame and disposable income – they should be able to afford to seek help. They have so many people around them all the time that can tell them when they are spinning out of control. But what if these people are the enablers? Or what if they just don’t realize it’s a problem? Sure, they might see their friend do a few lines of coke once in a while, but it’s not an everyday thing…at least as far as they know. I’m sure just about every single person out there either knows someone that has suffered with alcoholism or drug addiction or you’ve battled it yourself. Or even, heaven forbid, know someone that has died due to one or the other? Imagine, if you will, someone coming up to you and making a wisecrack about it being about time your loved one/friend died from their vise. I’d be foreseeing someone leaving with at least a black eye and maybe a few teeth missing after making such a comment. So why is it ok to say it about someone we’ve never met over an anonymous news website posting? Why do we hold our celebrities to such higher standards (other than the fact that young kids look up to a lot of them)?

If you’ve ever seen the TV show Intervention on A&E, you’ve seen some pretty crazy addiction stories. One of the few episodes that I caught a while back home was the one with the girl addicted to huffing compressed air. Wow. It was a powerful story and it just made me think, “Why can’t she see what she’s doing to herself and loved ones? Can’t she see it in her moments of sobriety?” I imagine she probably could. She lost everything, but that still wasn’t enough. I don’t remember what finally brought her out of her addiction, but I do remember that it took A LOT of work. I imagine that Amy Winehouse could see it, too. Hell, all she had to do was look at any semi-news publication or in the mirror to see what she had become.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any reading up on addiction, so I may jumble some facts here. Addiction is a disease. For most people, the body/brain becomes dependent on the chemicals being fed to it. To overcome these cravings takes an immense amount of willpower. Which is where rehab centers come into play. They make sure these external stimulants can’t be accessed and that they’re replaced with healthier alternatives until the chemical dependency on them is to a manageable level for the patient. Being the offspring of someone with a chemical dependency can also make you more likely to be an addict – this is most notable with alcoholism. Some people realize this connection and will use it as an excuse (“Well, it’s in my blood – I have to drink”) to continue the negative behavior. Of course there are many other reasons that people will become addicted, but those are just a couple. So what was Amy’s issue? Who knows? It seems that she had drug issues before she famous, and becoming an international singing sensation just gave her the means to continue on a regular basis. If we look at it as her succumbing to a disease instead of merely taking one to many, then it is surely no laughing matter.

It seems that towards the end, though, Amy recognized that everything she had worked to achieve and everything that she was to her fans was failing miserably: She finally went to rehab despite her insistence years ago that she wouldn’t go. Until the autopsy results are final, we won’t know if it was a relapse into using that killed her or if her body had just been abused too much over the years to make it out on top just as Amy decided it was a battle worth fighting.

So while the world may have lost a talented singer that had a very public battle with addiction, some people seem to forget that lots of people lost a friend and a family lost a daughter that day.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ya want translation with that?

Translation. Ugh. Remembering to make sure I’m writing in English that’s suitable for translation is probably the bane of my work existence. I would often prefer to be writing something that will never be translated, but since I work for an international company at their HQ, that’s pretty unrealistic. Often it’s not the actual writing that is so difficult – it’s remembering what I’m going to have to provide to the translation company. Honestly, I’d prefer we change companies for this task, but hey, that’s not my decision to make (but I am one of the ones that has to suffer due to the poor choice).

So what kind of a checklist do I try to run through in my head while writing (and later editing) my stuff?

1. Is the sentence structure simple?
2. Am I using active voice? If not, do I have a good reason for it (i.e., active voice sounds wordy or awkward)?
3. Am I using the same words to make the translation easier overall?
4. Am I using the same sentence structure? Repetition = a good thing in tech. comm. albeit boring sometimes.
5. Are the words clear? Any double meanings? Most of the translators are native speakers of the language being translated into and not English.
6. Am I re-using previous content? The translators (supposedly) have a database of some sentences/terms; however, I’ve yet to see evidence of this, but we’ll discuss that later.
7. Have I eliminated un-necessary words (typically when I’m editing other people’s work)?
8. Have I used any idioms or slang?
9. Are the technical words OK to be used and will they translate OK?
10. Do all of my user interface terms match the actual application or device?
11. Is everything labeled properly in Structured Framemaker?
12. So I need to re-iterate something or can I simply provide a link to another section?
13. Do I have any hair left to pull out?
14. Wonder how much easier it would be to have a 1-page manual that just says, “Figure it out yourself!” in every language…

And that’s without having added any images or screenshots. In addition to making sure the language that I’m using is appropriate, images have to be provided in the target language. Those present a whole new headache. Luckily for me, the developers will usually provide these for me. To make their job easier, I try to limit the number of screenshots used in a manual and make the text as clear as possible – especially if the documentation is being provided as a CHM file or HTML. You can imagine how much of a headache this can be if something is being translated into 10 languages – that’s a whole lot o’ screen capturing going on. I also have to make sure that they name the screenshots the EXACT same name that I have for the English versions, so I try to give them a list of these names when I send them a manual to review (note: they never notice and it doubles my work later to provide them a final PDF w/ every single image labeled). Basically, I have to have screenshots for all of the languages provided. If I need to write something on an image, I have to either make sure it’s editable or (and this is what I do usually) just provide a number reference to text outside of the image.

Seems simple enough. Except for a slight snag. Remember that database of terms? I don’t think it exists. I’ve had some issues where I’ve had to contact 3 different teams to ask them for their list of translated terms (e.g., driver terms, software UI terms, and hardware UI terms). Now, in my opinion, if the translators actually had a database of some of our more frequently used sentences/terms, I wouldn’t have to provide all of these various spreadsheets. Also, the terms would all match (which isn’t always the case). Oh the English is the same, but the translated terms can vary depending on who was doing the translating. Anywho, that’s just complaining about our translation team’s processes. So, I also have to remember to gather up any terms and give them to the translators so they don’t have to, you know, translate things...

So, that’s the basic process of what I run through when it comes to getting ready to have a document translated.

Here’s a bonus (not) funny story about screenshots… So I was working on a manual a couple of years ago. It had lots of helpful screenshots. Then came the time for the international screenshots….dun dun DUN!! What do I get from the project manager? A huge, nay, ginormous headache. The screenshots were named as the page numbers they were found on for every…single…image…in…every…language. Maybe 8 languages with about 200 images each? Guess who got to stay in the office overnight and rename EVERY SINGLE IMAGE so we could request translation the next day. I’ll give ya a hint: not the project manager. *sigh* Now when this particular project’s documentation needs to be updated, the PM sends someone else to tell me, and if he has to do it, he ducks and cringes after telling me. But I digress…

Translation is pretty much a necessity in today’s market if you want to do any kind of international business, but it requires a lot more thinking and work than just saying, “Hey, translate this!” to a translator. A lot of extra work and thinking has to be done and red tape has to be muddled through before it can finally become a reality.