Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The mistake that just keeps on taking

by Barbara Fri Jan 11th, 2008 at 10:08:39 AM EST

In the past few weeks I have been involved as an interpreter in a rather gruesome case. A 43-year-old Slovakian woman is seeking to foster her two-year-old grandson as both of his parents are suspects for murder of his baby brother who died last September. The baby suffered a cracked skull, a broken rib and a dislocated arm, and died of his injuries on the very same day.

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Geneva??? Help!

by Barbara Thu Nov 8th, 2007 at 12:35:09 PM EST

Hello ET,

This is not a proper diary, really, just a question. Any ratings and recommendations will therefore be accredited to the brilliant and thorough answers I shall receive below :).

Migeru is interviewing for his new (and this time hopefully safisfying) job, and there is a head-hunter with rather bad English but with an offer to get him an interview with a "hedges funds" (shhhruberryy!!!) in Geneva. I know "zero pelotero" about life in Geneva. My brief research shows that together with Zurich it's the city with the highest quality of life in the world. It is claimed to be safe, clean, with great education and transport system. Encouraging, undeniably, since we've both developed allergic asthma three years after we came to London, got robbed three times (once per year seems to be the norm) and spent countless hours practicing standing on one leg and holding to the overhead bar with one finger on the tube.

Now, my German can be defined as "used to be" and my French as "never has been". Although I'm not madly in love with England (or London at least), I'm reluctant to leave yet again, and again go through the painstaking process of learning (or re-learning)a language, rebuilding my business, finding friends. I know Geneva is an international city, but realistically speaking, how does a foreigner integrate? Any experience? Could I teach yoga there, perhaps in English to start with? (Fran, maybe you'd know...) Is this place worth making the gigantic effort of starting from scratch again?

Any feedback will be greatly appreciated!

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The True Purpose of Weddings II: Confessions of a (tired) Czech bride

by Barbara Tue Aug 28th, 2007 at 11:34:52 AM EST

It's all said and done, we're married and back from the honeymoon, too, as you know now that Miguel's trying his absolute best to make up for his absence on ET (who gives a shit the house is a mess and the grass in the garden is waist-high again). I still love him, though. We each have several diaries worth of experience and I apologize ahead for any inaccuracies and discrepancies that might occur in case we both write on the same subject... if you want to know what REALLY happened, you need to read MY diaries exclusively.

I had been writing a continuation of my still-single, pre-wedding diary, and only now managed to sort of finish it, so I will post that before writing anything new.


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The True Purpose of Weddings

by Barbara Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 11:32:18 AM EST

I haven't written anything for a good while. I had an extensive diary in progress about Christmas, which I planned to "release" on Christmas Eve, but circumstances (read cantankerous, hostile Migeru desecrating my yuletide sentiments with his cynicism and general ill-adapted attitudes) killed my desire to preoccupy myself with anything related to Christmas for the next century, much less elaborate on what was once and shall never be again using Microsoft Word.

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Umbrellas: a serious ecological issue

by Barbara Tue Dec 5th, 2006 at 12:07:29 PM EST

A few weeks ago I bought a lovely stick umbrella at a great discount price at TK Maxx. The company that made it is proud of the product and offers a lifetime warranty. My umbrella is raspberry red with about three hundred miniature pictures of various female accessories, very cool and contemporary. It has a dark wooden handle curved generously so that you can hold it with both hands, the kind of handle you just want to stroke over and over, velvety smooth. It's also fitted with a rather sharp and long metal tip, which could prove useful when I walk back home from yoga late in the evening (and also during rush-hour to make my way through the crowds). It opens automatically in one fluid movement. The embodiment of grace and elegance, you could say.

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The Buses of London or Why I'd Rather Walk

by Barbara Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 05:17:37 AM EST

From the diaries by London bus -- afew

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Just a few questions

by Barbara Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 11:31:44 AM EST

Okay, this might be a bit of a rude entry, and you can say I am not entirely entitled to write this. I am not a "regular". I poke my nose in here when I get a chance, and I am certainly not as productive and as involved as I could be. I would like to be more than just a lurker. However, when I do write, I feel quite a pressure to produce something of some sort of quality that I don't have be ashamed of in front of people of ET calibre...this being mostly very educated, often very accomplished, and socio-politically very conscious group of individuals. ET is not an ordinary blog site and it's a good thing. The quality and scope of material discussed is excellent. You don't come with crap to ET, and you don't leave with crap. People are in general temperate with their comments and mostly very supportive. You come to learn, to grow, not to spew hatred. I have not seen any insults so far, and no derogatory or "primitive" comments, even when discussing very controversial subjects. (I used to participate in a discussion on a few newspaper websites and was appalled at the amount of profanity people freely showered others with at the slightest provocation).  That means ETers are committed to getting along in a civil manner, to holding a true dialogue. ET definitely has standards, and anyone who doesn't behave won't stick around for very long.

I do question the intention of diary contributions, though. It is possible that, besides sharing our ideas with others and widening the pool of ET knowledge, it has to do with a little ego massage? You write something, and then you get replies. The more positive replies from smart people you get, the better you feel about yourself. You become addicted to the "refresh" button. What did they say? Did I do well? But is validation from others ultimately the only reason why we contribute? Or do we write and share our opinions, wisdom, expertise and whatever skills we have in a hope that it might do someone, somewhere, somehow, some good?  

I would like to ask what the true, real purpose - or goal -- of ET is. What was it at the beginning, and what is it now? Has it evolved in any way? What is the next step? This website has attracted some incredible individuals. People who are upset with the present state of things, and who actually have the means to bring upon some changes. Can ET try to pool together all the smarts and knowledge to make something real, tangible happen? Even a small project that would have some local impact would be great. Or should we be happy with a once-in-a-while meet-up in Paris or London?

Recently I had the opportunity to interpret for a Peruvian lady called Albina Ruiz, who started what turned out to be the most successful recycling program in her country. She is "the" recycling person in Peru. She even made recycling legal there! And brought business to hundreds of people. In fact, her model was so successful that other Latin American countries want to copy her. The event was hosted by her sponsor called Ashoka, which is an organization dedicated to help activists of any kind who have established their idea could work. They are paid a salary to be able to pursue their plan, and are given an allowance and counselling along the way to help them bring their project to life. With their help, Albina was able to turn her idea into a national enterprise. Simply amazing. As I sat there listening to everyone, I thought to myself: why not ET? A place so full of brilliant individuals that are able to see the "big picture?" There is brain-power to stop a train here. What are we going to do with it?  

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Do nerds really make better lovers? (and husbands?)

by Barbara Wed Jun 21st, 2006 at 11:21:00 AM EST

"Do I know the difference between a knight and a pawn? Certainly," he says. "Am I familiar with the Four Move Checkmate? Well, maybe I am. ... But the truth is I'm a decent guy with diverse interests who actually offers authenticity in his relationships."

But to get to that authentic nerd, chic women have to be willing to embrace their own inner geek and accept the guy for who he is, chess trophies and all. The caveat to mating with a geek, as some dating experts see it, is coming to terms with his less-than-studly looks and less-than-suave demeanor. All thoughts of embarrassment have to go out the window."


Anyone would like to share her/his opinions on this subject...? I believe that at this place people'd really know! Fortunately for us, nobody's nick here is anything like "ivygrad" or "thinkspec".

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Last weekend's gossip: It's all here!!! :) (Well, it's a start)

by Barbara Mon May 22nd, 2006 at 07:02:33 PM EST

When Miguel presented me with the idea of going to the ET meeting a few months ago, I wasn't exactly elated about it. The prospect of travelling to a different country with a hyperactive preschooler just to have lunch with a bunch of socially anxious people talking through their laptops while touching elbows and occasionally peering at one another though yoghurt bottom glasses failed to stir much passion in me. My grudge against ET the vampire of family/couple time certainly didn't make things any better. I wasn't even lured by the thought to see Paris, although I had never been there before... I thought the time was too short to see or do anything at all. I hate being a racing tourist with a checklist more than anything. I wanted to savour Paris, wander around in the streets, buy copies of art nouveau posters and great retro postcards to frame and hang in my house, eat leisurely a large creme-brulee and visit at least a dozen of chocolate and cheese shops. A friendly bed-and-breakfast would fit in there somewhere, too. This one-nighter in a cheapo hotel with trains rumbling under the windows wouldn't even come close, or so I thought. If you can't do it right, why do it at all?

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ESF live blogging -- Friday (Interpreter's diary continued)

by Barbara Fri May 5th, 2006 at 01:05:15 PM EST

Hello again. As I found out, there are about 500 interpreters here at this conference this year. That's supposedly more than any other organization has around the world, even more than in the UN. Apparently they are very interested in getting people from Eastern Europe, and current Babels coordinators are trying to recruit them to join and become coordinators for Eastern Europe. I'm tempted. But the level of disorganization is so high I'm not sure I want to risk getting beaten to a pulp by angry interpreters from all over the world. It's quite comical sometimes, actually. My Polish friend was interpreting in a gigantic hall yesterday that was supposed to have about seven languages. When the conference started, they found out there had covered only two. So she was left with no choice but to recruit people from the audience to help out. Imagine simultaneously interpreting for 300 people staring impatiently your way if you've never even seen an interpreting console, and have never attempted anything like that in your life. Lotsa fun and excitement, I tell you.

I do recognize this forum is run entirely because of the goodwill of others. Yet I cannot help and think it's an analogy to the socialism I know and grew up in... this forum, as an organism, is like a dinosaur: gigantic but not very "bright". Just take the examples of us interpreters. We get food vouchers, lodging and travel expenses paid, which works out to about 1,000 Euro per person or so. There are 500 interpreters, so that's 50.000 euro. And many of them will be interpreting maybe 2 hours in total out of a seven-day stay. Can you think of anything less efficient?

I have seen some impressive artwork today. Particularly the statue of Justitia, an obese Caucasian woman sitting on the shoulders of an emaciated black man. I need to go outside and write down what it actually said, because my rendering wouldn't be as eloquent. I will post it along with my photo when I get back to London. My picture collection has expanded a bit and I hope you will enjoy some of the images. I must say lots of creativity went into this event, and there are some really fun things to see and read.

I am wondering to what extend this conference preaches to the choir. Many thanks to Talos for his clarification of what the socialist symbols I described yesterday mean for the Greeks as opposed to the Czechs. I do think, however, that the people who need to hear what's being said here the most will never make it behind the gates of this venue. And I believe the front that ESF puts up is a bit too radical to attract the common folk. The people that stream down the old runway into the E and S and F halls have the word "anarchy" written all over them. Dreadlocks, scarves, rainbow belts, holey jeans, long beards, chicken-foot pins, you name it. Surely these people already know about Bush's crimes, about the fact Coca Cola is evil, about recycling, peak oil. I am afraid that those that don't are still outside.  

I better go and try to catch something while I can. Tomorrow I'm finally going to interpret, or so I hope, and justify my trip here.  

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ESF live blogging -- Thursday (Interpreter's diary continued)

by Barbara Thu May 4th, 2006 at 11:28:07 AM EST

Hello from Athens, everyone. I'm finding myself at a rather antiquated computer (I'd say maybe 1991?), that, however, has a Greek version of Linux called Hellug. Nice. I came here to interpret along with five of my fellow students from London Met. Before I left, I promised I'd write a few reports on what's happening here, which I'm doing now.

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The interpreter's diary (Part I)

by Barbara Thu Apr 27th, 2006 at 11:18:10 AM EST

Since October, I've been working as a public service interpreter in London. This kind of work won't help you earn the most Kudos in the interpreting world; it's quite at the bottom of the interpreters' foodchain, so to speak. Conference interpreters (making anywhere between 300 to 500 pounds a day) are the sharks, public service interpreters are the plankton. Police and court interpreters (highly qualified public service interpreters) are, say, the jellyfish. Or the baracudas.

Promoted by Colman ... read on for the social commentary.

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Why I don't like Sharon Stone

by Barbara Thu Mar 30th, 2006 at 05:35:12 AM EST

I'm sure you've seen the poster for Basic Instinct 2, displayed for the public eye in the wake of the "Oh-I-Can't-Wait-To-See-Sharon-15-Years-Later-Playing-The-Same-Crappy-Role" premiere. She sits on a black chair, a caricature of the most notorious spread-eagle of the world she herself coined in her "masterpiece." The back of the chair covers the area that made the "BI 1" investigators ooze sweat from their eyebrows, as if to say: If you come and see the movie, I will turn around... Despite her lascivious pose, perhaps due to her limp, greenish-blonde hair that's dark at the roots (spending too much time at the pool?), she looks a bit tired. She exudes the air of a been-there, done-that attitude that, at least in my eyes, would extinguish any potential spark of interest or enticement a viewer might feel.

Don't get me wrong. I think she looks pretty amazing... especially considering the fact she'll be fifty in two years. It's good Michael Douglas decided to spare himself the embarrassment... he was already a bit saggy in the first film and it's only wise he reserves his "goodies" for Catherine these days. (Mind you, I don't have anything against older men nude on the screen, but I do mind when they are stylized into the role of a sex god).

But the fact that Sharon's doing a sequel to a movie that celebrated and mystified the worst in man is not the main reason for my antipathies. I have a much more personal reason. One of my fellow interpreters that I met in January works each as an organizer of the Film Festival in Karlovy Vary. She was there also last year, when Sharon Stone was invited to represent the film Broken Flowers. The place was packed, naturally. Sharon Stone entered the stage. The visitors held their breath. She took the microphone and began her speech. In English, of course. She talked and talked. The interpreter stood nearby, dutifully writing down notes. Ten minutes later she finished. The interpreter stepped forward, clearing his throat. But Miss Stone said: "Why, there's no need to interpret...everyone here understands English, right?" She chased the dumbfounded interpreter away and went to sit down. Shortly thereafter, the Broken Flowers began. Without subtitles.

Hollywood stars are usually not known for their good manners. But to come to a country that welcomes you with open arms, and then not allow an interpreter to do his job so people can understand, and consequently force the audience to sit through two hours of reading nothing but body language, is the ultimate insult. Not only to the interpreter, not only to the audience, but to our entire country. It sends a clear message: Sharon Stone feels superior to us mere mortals not only because she is a celebrity; she also feels superior to us Czechs because she is an American. Her country is so much more important that it is our DUTY to know English. She represents the ugliest side of the superpower's way of thinking, the kind of attitude that gives Americans a bad reputation around the world.

Just imagine what memory of this show the audience would have brought home had Sharon Stone let the interpreter do his work, and then maybe added a "Thank-you" in Czech. The visitors would have left content, and maybe, out of solidarity, would go and see Basic Instinct 2, although they'd know it would be a waste of time. Now, however, I think that every time they see two-dimensional Sharon with her greenish, trashy locks and a steely number 2 between her thighs, their basic instinct urges them to scream the ever so popular four-letter English word, which even the Czechs know.

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Migeru and me -- A recapitulation of 2005

by Barbara Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 11:04:17 AM EST

For those who are familiar with my dear husband-to-be... meet the other side of Migeru :). This is a recount of our move from California and our attempts to establish ourselves again on the European soil. (Er, actually, the Brits somehow don't believe they're part of Europe... which is keeps puzzling me over and over again.}

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