Friday, October 28, 2011

Why the world needs translation editors: beefs on the loose edition

I am totally reblogging something I saw today on Dave Reevely's blog in the Ottawa Citizen, as it fits in so well with my "Why the world needs translation editors" series.  This is an actual press release sent out this afternoon by the Service de police de la ville de Gatineau. (Gatineau is the city in Quebec right across the river from Ottawa.)

"Appeals in connection with two animals.

On October 27, 2011 to 12h22 P.M.

The SPVG received a call in relation to an animal or a beef, who was walking in public at large and was threatening to the population. The call stated that there could be two beef in liberty.

The call was received October 27, 2011 to 12:22. The beef was walking freely on the 148 or the Montreal Road West, near George Street in Gatineau (Masson-Angers). Throughout the duration of the intervention, the police found that the animal was aggressive and threatening to the population. The police even had to ask staff to primary school St-Jean de Brebeuf to bring the children inside the school for safety. Several times the animal has dark on patrol cars and police officers.

Around 1:27 p.m., the animal was at the height of the shore road and path of the Quai. It was impossible to contain the animal because of its high aggressiveness. With the consent of the owner, the police had no choice but to kill the animal. The animal has since been taken over by its owner.

Meanwhile, a police officer spotted the second animal in the George Street exit of Highway 50 eastbound. The police managed to contain the animal for some time, but again, the animal was aggressive and difficult to contain. With the consent of its owner the police had to shoot the second animal (2:08 p.m.).

It is important to know that prior to slaughter animals, including the police tried a few times to get the beef into the trailer of their owners using different tactics (in collaboration). The animals showed a lot of aggression and loaded with police officers, patrol cars and the trailer’s owner several times, the decision to kill the animals was necessary to protect citizens (the animals were threatening the population). All measures have been taken to ensure that no person has been put in danger when the shots were fired police officers."

Ah Google Translate, how I love you.

Poor beefs :(

Saturday, October 22, 2011

10 signs that I might be watching too much C.S.I.

OK, I'll admit it. I have a slightly disturbing obsession with the C.S.I. franchises. And maybe I've been watching too much. The signs? I mean besides making up my own hometown version: C.S.I. Carp?

1. I'm seriously considering wearing latex gloves to do the housework around here.

Like the laundry.

And cleaning the kitchen.

2. I've also thought that figuring out who left the half-full glass of milk on the kitchen counter that was knocked over by Max would be so easy if I only had a fingerprint kit. Because both girls deny it was them.

3. I've been looking around online for those special flashlights. Not because I need one, but because I want one.

4. I've been considering incorporating vests and lab coats into my wardrobe.

I think I could totally rock a vest.

5. I find myself wondering what the Windex budget for the C.S.I. Miami and C.S.I. New York labs is, seeing as they are composed almost entirely of glass.

6. I was using a pumice stone the other day on very dry, scaly feet and caught myself thinking, "Ooooo! Epithelials!"

(There's no picture for this one.)

(You're welcome.)

7. I've taken to standing with my hands on my hips a lot.

And taking my sunglasses off very, very dramatically.

8. I sometimes wish I had tweezers and an evidence envelope when cleaning underneath the dining room table.

9. I really like C.S.I. humour.

Really like.

Really, really like.

10. The clincher, when I realized that perhaps really do watch too much C.S.I., was a couple of days after I let Leah stay up and watch an episode of C.S.I. with me on DVD. I went down in the basement and saw a Barbie crime scene laid out on the floor.

Crap. What have I done?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just Don't 3

Yet another public service announcement for my loyal readers.

If you buy Just Dance 3 for the Wii for your daughter for her birthday, your entire family will spend more time dancing, which is wonderful exercise. Win.

If you are wearing a pair of pajama bottoms with a loose drawstring, and grab a Wii remote and dance like crazy to The Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited", you might *actually* dance your pants off. Fail.

However, this will send your children into fits of hysterical laughter, which is also pretty good cardio excercise. Win. I think.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Things I learned on the weekend

1. If you host a sleepover for your daughters and their friends and decide to jazz up their dinner of home-made pizza, baby carrots, celery sticks, and milk by lighting the candles on the table to give them some ambiance before grabbing your pizza and heading to the living room for some peace and quiet so as not to intrude, DON'T. Because later, when you go to throw out some leftovers, you might find almost all of the vegetables (which you thought the girls ate since the serving plate was empty) in the compost bin, scorched at one or both ends.

2. Your dishwasher will not remove "Hi, I'm Rebecca ♥ ♥ ♥" written on a dinner plate in soot from a scorched carrot or celery stick. You will have to wash those plates by hand.

Friday, October 14, 2011

According to Rachel: inability to distinguish between cultural stereotypes edition

Getting breakfast ready on a weekday morning:

Rae: It's a Freaky Friday for our class this week. It was Sara's birthday so she got to pick what kind of day it was going to be, and she picked "Pajama Day".

Me: OK, sounds good. Which PJs are you going to wear?

Rae: My monkey ones. Guess what? If it was my choice, I'd pick Korean Day. [assumes a passable Jamaican accent] -- 'Yah mon'.


Me [recovering]: Um, what does 'yah mon' have to do with Korea?

Rae: [slightly exasperated at my obvious lack of knowledge]: You know: 'Yah mon'?? That thing that Korean people say all the time?

Me: Oh.... Right.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Angus update, and how not to take two cats to the vet's

Well it's been a year since we welcomed Angus inside and out of his life as a wild kitten living by his wits. That tiny, scared, kitten has morphed into a large, skittish cat who loves having his belly rubbed, but only by family. He has learned to trust us. He loves me, tolerates the girls, and disappears if anyone else comes into the house (with the exception of Arlene, whom he lavishes with offers of his belly to rub, and my mum, whom he'll sit on.)

And about that 'large' part -- when you pick him up, he feels like a fur-covered bowling ball. While he was a small kitty a year ago (see below in comparison with Max):

He is now rather more, um, portly:

All in all, he's settled in well, though the Evil Ninja Assassin Cat has had to change his fighting tactics due to Angus's superior weight. The ENAC will now execute several pouncing maneuvers on Angus instead of engaging in a prolonged wrestling bout that he will lose. It's funny to watch. Definitely a case of old age and treachery being better than youth and skill...0r youth and portliness.

A couple of weeks ago the two cats had to go to the vet's for a check up and their vaccinations. I now have two cats. I only have one cat carrier. "No problem," said the receptionist at the vet's office*, "swing by before your appointment and we'll lend you one." And so I did. As I was leaving, the receptionist gave me this piece of advice: "Put the more difficult one in a carrier first."

She was wrong (or maybe not -- I assumed, wrongly, that Angus would be the difficult one). The advice should have been: "Put the smarter cat in a carrier first."

I came home with the vet's carrier and put it down on the floor of the living room. Then I went down in the basement to get my cat carrier. What I didn't do was to close all the bedroom doors. Angus, attracted by the enticing scents of all the other cats who had ridden in the carrier, followed his nose right inside the carrier. Bingo! I closed the carrier.

Max was sitting on the couch, not far away. He looked at Angus in the carrier. He looked at the empty carrier. Then he looked at me. I could see the comprehension blooming in his eyes.

Instantly, he took off at top speed into my bedroom, under my bed and lay down in the exact centre, where he was out of reach. I had to use a broom to get him to come out from under the bed, and then it was pure craziness as I tried to catch him. All that was missing was the Benny Hill theme music. It took me nearly 15 minutes, and a couple of scratches, before I had him safely in the cat carrier.

So here are your public service announcements for putting multiple cats into multiple carriers:

1. Close off all avenues of escape.

2. Put the smart cat in the carrier first.

3. A little vodka wouldn't go amiss. (For you, not the cats.)

Both cats are healthy, and have been vaccinated.

And Angus? Although he's gotten bigger:

He hasn't really changed all that much.


*I can't say enough nice things about the West Carleton Animal Hospital in Carp. The staff and vets are kind and caring, and the cost of veterinary care is more than reasonable. If you're local, please consider going there.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

According to Rachel: dubious compliments edition

We are having a beautiful early fall here in Ottawa. Warm, sunny days, chilly nights, and cool, crisp mornings. It's making deciding what to wear difficult. You don't want to freeze in the mornings, and you don't want feel too hot in the afternoons.

The girls are reluctant to give up their shorts, and have been wearing a hoodie over a teeshirt with shorts and running shoes to school. This morning, I put on a denim skirt, a dark red, scoop-necked teeshirt, and a camel-coloured cardi on top to keep me warm on the walk from my car to my office.

Rae: You look like a ketchup-ed hot dog today.

Me: A what?

Rae: Your teeshirt is like the hot dog covered in ketchup, and the sides of the sweater look like the two parts of the bun on each side.

Me: That's very observant. Is it a compliment?

Rae: I don't know. How does it make you feel?

Me: Not really good, to tell the truth. You're right about the colours, but do I look like a hot dog to you?

Rae: Only a little. You're not made out of pork, though.

Me: ....

Monday, September 19, 2011

Two countries separated by the same language

That quote, attributed to George Bernard Shaw (and sometimes to Oscar Wilde, people are arguing about this) was meant to refer to Britain and the U.S. But, in my experience, the same can be said for Canada and the U.S.

I was clearing out some old files on my computer and found this guest post that I contributed to a friend's blog some years ago. Alissa doesn't blog anymore, well except for her photo blog where she showcases her gorgeous Kentucky landscapes, sunsets, flowers and dogs, which is a shame. (The fact that she doesn't 'blog' blog anymore is a shame, not the fact that she takes beautiful pictures and shares them online.) So, I've dusted that post off and I'm posting it here.

(This may or may not have something to do with the fact that I'm having a bit of writer's block at the moment, and am dealing with the fall craziness of yard work, back-to-school, pool closing, firewood ordering, garage cleaning, cookie baking, etc., etc.)

Hi, I’m Alison, and I live in a small village just outside Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Like Briana, who guest-posted last week, I ‘met’ Alissa online through a parenting forum and have known her for probably six years or so [more like 9 or 10 now - Alison]. It was her blog that first inspired me to start one of my own, so I’d like to take this opportunity to say “Thanks, Alissa!”

Internet friendships have added a lot of joy to my life. I’ve been blessed by a wonderful and group of women (and one man) from all over Canada and the U.S., and now new friends in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, reaching out and showing that the world is a pretty small place after all.

But for all our similarities in experience and outlook, I have come to see that there are differences. And being a Canadian with American and British friends, I’m finding that language can be one of those places where those differences pop up.

During one thread on our parenting forum, I mentioned that the girls were getting a new toboggan because the old one was too worn out from banging into trees. Some confusion ensued with Alissa, and when we finally figured out what was going on, we realized that while I was talking about this:

Alissa thought I was talking about this:

Big difference. Yes, the same word is used in Canada to mean sled and in parts of the U.S. (Kentucky, apparently is one) to mean a winter hat. Which we would call a tuque up here. Go figure.

This reminded me of another miscommunication that happened in Kentucky, funnily enough, back when I was in university. I was on a third-year geology field trip in Corbin, Kentucky to study sedimentary geological features. They’re kind of hard to study in Ontario, seeing as the last glaciation scraped most of them away, but there are some gorgeous sections to study down in Kentucky.

It was November, and starting to get chilly. We spent our day driving around in a bus, stopping along the highway to get out and look at the roadcuts. (Sedimentary rocks are arranged in layer-cake fashion, and the best place to look at the features is in a roadcut, where you are looking at a ‘slice’ through the rocks.) Just an aside here, Kentuckians must be the most friendly, helpful people I’ve ever met. Whenever drivers on the highway would see the bus pulled over and all of us out looking at the rocks, they would pull over and ask if we were OK and if we needed them to call us a tow truck.

At the end of the day we were chilled. I hadn’t packed a heavy enough jacket, thinking we were headed to the (almost) Deep South. We ended up at a restaurant after nightfall for dinner. We sat down and the waitress took our orders. I wanted to heat up fast, so I ordered a bowl of chili and tea, and then headed to the washroom to run some hot water over my icy hands, thinking of how hot and comforting the hot chili and tea would be, picturing steam coming out of the little steel teapot, the cup upside down next to it.

Imagine my surprise when I returned to the table to find that the waitress had already set my drink order on the table, and I was looking at a tall, frosty glass of iced tea. Iced tea! When the waitress came back, I apologised for the error, and told her that I had wanted a cup of tea, not a glass of iced tea. “Oh”, she said as she headed back to the kitchen, “you want hot tea.” Up here, ‘tea’ means a pot of steaming tea, and if you want it cold, you have to order iced tea. In Kentucky, it’s the exact opposite: ‘tea’ is iced tea, and if you want tea, you have to order ‘hot tea’. Weird, eh?

I guess that ‘eh’ is a giveaway that I’m Canadian. Though I don’t pronounce ‘about’ as ‘aboot’ as we are reputed to do. There are a few Canadian words or phrases that seem to confuse readers from other countries, so as a public service, I’ll use the rest of my time here on Alissa’s blog (and doesn’t she have the cutest accent?) to explain a few of the most questioned Canadianisms, in case you’ve ever wondered:

Loonie – A one-dollar coin with a picture of a loon on the tails side. We no longer have bills lower than five dollars.

Toonie – A two-dollar coin. Named because it’s worth two loonies.

Tim's, Timmie’s – Tim Horton's: a franchise of coffee shops selling the Canadian national food: the donut. Founded by Tim Horton, an National Hockey League player who played for almost 20 years for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They are everywhere in Canada.

Double double – When you’re at Timmie’s if you want your coffee with two cream and two sugar, you order a double double.

Pickerel – what American fishermen call Walleye

Eavestrough – I think it's called a gutter in the States, you know, the long things that are supposed to collect water from the roof and then send it down the rainspout, but all they really do is clog up with dead leaves?

Kraft dinner – Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, the main diet of the Canadian university student

Chesterfield – sofa or couch

Serviette – napkin

Poutine – a French-Canadian delicacy – french fries covered in a layer of fresh cheese curds and drenched in brown gravy

I guess only a Canadian would understand this, “Excuse me, could you please pass me a serviette? I spilled my poutine on the chesterfield.” Only now, you all (y’all) do too! :-)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Why the world needs translation editors

Or, why Google language tools are not always the best.

Many years ago, I had dinner with my father in a restaurant in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montréal. I had bouillabaisse, a French fish stew that originated in Marseille. It was so delicious, I remembered that meal for years. So, when I Googled a recipe for it a few years ago, the first few pages returned were in French. I figured that a French recipe for a French dish would be the most authentic. However, I didn't read French that well back then, and hit the button on the page which translated the recipe into 'English'.

The translation was about as good as the English instructions for a Japanese VCR circa 1988. Here are some excerpts:

"Subtle dish with the many fish species which cook together to release us their different taste and particular perfume, to make a success of it it is essential to rigorously respect the order and the time of cooking of fish, if not parks with a pulp dull full with stop!"

Um, OK. I'll respect the cooking order. Because you know I don't want it to parks with a pulp dull full stop. That would be bad. I think.

"To make partly cooked, potatoes to the vapor, and to keep them with the heat. They will be cut in 4 sections each one and will be added during cooking. To put 8 semi hollow or hollow plates and a large hollow dish to heat."

Great! A chance to use the hollow plates. I hardly ever use those.

"In a pot, to make a bed with white onions thin slices, the crushed cloves of garlic, crushed tomatos, the bay tree, fennel and the bark of orange."

I'm not sure there's room enough in the pot for a bay tree.

"If need be, to add a little soup or water for just to cover fish, and to let cook 10 minutes. Your Bouillabaisse is ready to be useful, and like the soufflés, it could not wait."

I'm *so* glad the bouillabaisse is ready to be useful. Maybe it could vacuum the living room. Or fold some laundry.

"For the service, to present fish and their trimming of potatoes in the large hollow dish, the soup, the sections of toast rubbed with garlic, and garlic mayonnaise and rust with share. To pour a little soup in its plate, to deposit sections of bread pasted of rust or garlic mayonnaise and to taste there various fish with soup, rust or garlic mayonnaise with its own way. "

I'm totally lost with this one. Not sure I want to eat rust. And the mayonnaise sounds kinda pushy, wanting its own way.

I ended up making lasagna instead. But next time I'm in Montréal....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back seat conversations: the meaning of lyrics edition

So we were driving back from soccer one day last month, and "Kiss You (When it's Dangerous)" came on the radio. I've embedded the video above for those of you (my U.S and U.K. friends) who have probably never heard this 80s Ottawa band's most famous song.

And from the back seat came this conversation:

Leah [singing along]: ♫ ♪ I'll kiss you when it's dangerous. I'll kiss you then and only then. ♪

Rae: What do you think they mean by "kiss you when it's dangerous"? What does it mean?

Leah: I don't know.

Rae: Maybe it means that he will only kiss her if she's tied up on a moving conveyor belt with sharp knives on it.

Leah: Ummm....

Rae: And lasers.

Leah: Nah, it probably means that he's going to kiss her when she's mad at him and he might get slapped if he tries. So it's dangerous.

Rae: Like she's mad because he didn't buy her some shoes?

Leah: Exactly.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A public service announcement

Here is a picture of the people I nearly poisoned with toxic ribs earlier this month:

Well, actually, the body count would only have been 5 rather than 7.

So, here's the PSA:

Always, always, always defrost meat in the refrigerator. Don't leave two racks of frozen ribs out at room temp in the microwave to thaw overnight. Because if you do, they might grow copius amounts of bacteria and eating them could result in a trip to the ER.

When I went to put the ribs on the barbecue, the edges had turned a delicate emerald green.

(Joke: who are two people you don't want coming over for dinner? Sam and Ella.)

So, instead of my much-bragged-about barbecued ribs, we had hamburgers for supper. And we all survived.

This has been a public service announcement from the Let's Not Poison our Southern Neighbours Action Group.

(PSA #2: always have backup propane so you don't have to finish the hamburgers under the broiler -- the hamburgers you were serving instead of lethal ribs. A rookie mistake, not having a second tank, but I made that one too. ) I am *so* not Martha Stewart.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nice (n-ee-ce) was pretty nice (n-eye-ce)

Yes, I know I'm home, but you'll just have to put up with a couple more posts about what was the best vacation ever. No, wait. BEST. VACATION. EVER.

Nice (or maybe all of France, or all of Europe for that matter, I don't know for sure) is very different from Canada. Here are some random things I noticed:

  • Things are smaller (apartments, washing machines, refrigerators, supermarkets), and despite the crazy traffic and bus drivers who think they're driving in a Formula One race, life is slower paced.

  • Walking down the Promenade des Anglais, day or night, was the thing I liked to do best.

  • Best. Croissants. Ever.


Considering the above bullet point, it's strange that there are no overweight people here. Also, I have never seen so many attractive people in one place in my entire life.

  • Skin cancer does not seem to be a major concern in Nice. Everyone seems to be tanned to a deep toasty brown. Including the one woman we saw on several days down on the beach, clad only in a teeny yellow thong, a gold chain around her waist, and a Gilligan hat. Reading Emile Zola and eating nectarines, no less.

  • A real Nicoise Salad doesn't have any green beans or potatoes in it. But it does have lots of tuna, olives, radishes, tomatoes, hardboiled eggs and some anchovies.

  • Even though the Mediterranean Sea is salty and easy to float in

    I couldn't smell the sea the way you usually do at the seaside. But swimming in it will leave you all salty and with a bad case of Med Head until you shower.

  • Parking is a sport in Nice. People will park anywhere. On sidewalks. On corners. Double parking. You name it.

  • If you order anything with prawns (gambas) or shrimp (crevettes), be prepared to do some dissection. Most of the time in North America, shrimp are little pink commas of flesh when they're served to you. In Nice, they are cooked to a rosy red, but not peeled. Even in a curry sauce, you'll still see little eyes peering out at you, and little leg things waving.

    The upside is, that when you take the time to peel them, they taste better than any North American shrimp.

  • The Hotel Negresco is a truly fascinating place. The gorgeous architecture and eclectic art make it a place not to miss.

  • Wine there is really cheap and really good.

    Mostly we drank local varieties of rosé by the bottle, but we couldn't resist these single-serving glasses we found in the grocery store. Vive la France!

  • The default music type in any public space is jazz. It was playing on the tour boat we took to Monaco, and in those restaurants that had music playing. It was so nice. How nice was brought home rather forcefully when, on the long trip home, we ate lunch in a 'seafood' restaurant in the Newark airport and the soundtrack was Taylor Swift's greatest hits. Yeah.

  • You WILL gain weight in Nice (And Villefranche Sur Mer, and Monaco).

  • Oh. Yes. You. Will.

  • Banana split crepes. O.M.G.

    Warm goat cheese salad!!

    Moules et frites!!!


    I seem to have used up all my exclamation points.

    [I don't know why this is all different colours and underlined. HTML coding and I are not friends.]

    I think I would like to be dropped in a vat of Chantilly whipped cream. And left there

  • Lettuces, mangoes and nectarines from the greengrocers are ENORMOUS. And delicious. Really, really delicious.

  • The transit system -- the trains, trams and buses -- are clean and efficient and cheap. You can go a long way on the bus for a euro.

  • Even as far as Eze, which is probably the most picturesque place I've ever been.

  • This picture was taken from the boat from Nice to Monaco. You can see that Eze is perched right at the top of the mountain.

      So, to sum it all up, I can see why people retire to the South of France. Thanks, Dad, I'll never forget that trip.

      I can't wait to go back. Come on Lotto 649.