A Sticky Situation

Today’s post comes from Wessew

I’m going to write about glue. All Trailbabooners know about glue. Some of you are/were teachers and may even have made your own glue using flour and water. I recall being taught the recipe in first grade to finish paper-mâché projects. At the time, it seemed rather messy so I have my doubts that process is popular today. The history of glue goes back thousands of years. Affixing one item to another was a challenge to be met by tool makers and construction laborers. Tar, eggs, starch all found their way into everyday use.  For most folks their experience with glue is limited to the basics: Elmers and Super Glue. And typically their knowledge of glues is also basic: “Glue is glue”. Well, that is not true. Indeed, it can be quite confusing to go to the glue aisle of a Lowe’s or Home Depot and be confronted with a dozens of varieties of glue. As reading the fine print seems a lost “art”, I surmise that many failures arise from the assumption that all glues are pretty much the same.

In my floor covering trade, there are hundreds of different glues. Each has specific qualities and recommended usages. But the basic guideline for use is: Read the label. Well, back in the early 70’s, we were doing a project at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The material was delivered to the job site along with buckets of glue. It was cork tile. From Portugal. With instructions in Portuguese. There was no discernible contact information in the material so as Portuguese is not a common language in North Dakota, the University did put me on to a Spanish translator. As these languages are related, I hoped for the best in getting a fairly good idea as to how to use the glue. I missed a step in translation. The glue had to be used over a porous subfloor ie wood or properly prepared concrete. Our concrete was polished meaning it was now a non-porous subfloor. We came in the next day and found the tile we had laid expanded about 1/32 of an inch in each piece causing a peaking effect. The glue had no where to go except into the cork itself. I panicked. Then I remembered a little physics and what could shrink material: Cold. We obtained dry ice and moved the chunks around the floor for hours. It worked!

We still get material from foreign countries but most often it comes with instructions in multiple languages… including English.

Have you ever had a problem with translation?

 

 

139 thoughts on “A Sticky Situation”

  1. I took Latin in high school from a fat woman who had burned out long ago and no longer took her work seriously, Rose and I struck a bargain. She wouldn’t make fun of my lousy grasp of Latin if I ran errands for her during class time. I walked the streets of Ames delivering payments for Rose’s phone, gas and electric bills. My reward was a C, although I couldn’t translate the simplest Latin sentence. Well, I could translate one. When Rose signed my senior yearbook she included an insult written in Latin. I could translate that.

    Beyond that undeserved C, my only reward for sweating over Latin books was the chance to hide a little joke in the text of my book about my parents. It is a subtle joke, only understandable to former Latin students.

    Having demonstrated I could not translate Latin, I went on to college and grad school where I demonstrated I could not translate German.

    My dreams are goofy and comic, not dark . . . with one exception. I now have had four dreams in which I am told I hadn’t earned by degree and will have to go back to finish the foreign language requirement.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Maybe that was many Latin teachers of the time. My Latin teacher left me flummoxed and confused. She also wore her earrings backwards, which entertained us, a class of 9th graders, forgot to button her clothing, or zip the zippers. That was so distracting.

      I quit Latin after the first quarter. Seemed pointless.

      My son loved Latin, though. One morning his friends had visited our driveway with chalk in the night, and we awoke to Latin scribbled everywhere. We have a picture somewhere. Great, creative vandalism!

      Liked by 8 people

      1. My father is the only person I ever know that ever made good use of his Latin – and it was a dubious good use.

        When I was growing up, my sister and I would open up the dictionary and pick the hardest looking (or most off-the-beaten-track) word we could find and challenge my dad. Any word with a Latin root or etymology was easy pickings for him. After we finally figured this out, we started looking at words that were derived from Greek. He was pretty good at these too but not like the whiz he was w/ Latin!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. confedior deo onemotemtpe biata maria is the begining of my alter boy recall. did i ever write about my alter boy stint.
        atfter a year of memorizing the latin to get in and pass the test given by the alter boy priest the catholic dumped latin and went all english two weeks after i got in and i had to learn what i was saying in latin. i had no idea

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    2. So many friends I’ve known have these college-anxiety dreams years, even decades, after graduating. Mine took the form of registering too late; realizing that I’d forgotten to attend the first half of the quarter; and getting lost on the U of M campus and being unable to find where my classes were. I’ll be that there are some of you who had these post-college dreams as well?

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Or rushing around, feverishly looking for where the exam is taking place. I’ve also had all of the above, repeatedly. Have no idea why. I never missed an exam, and I didn’t skip classes. I was usually pretty well prepared. Go figure.

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  2. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    My biggest translation challenge came in 1989 in Tennessee. Lou and I travelled to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park near Gatlinburg, TN. We loved the area and the trip.

    Our translation challenge came in a restaurant, when we discovered that we could not understand the local dialect. It took a LONG time to suss out a conversation that went sorta like this:

    Local: Dya like the park:

    Us: Yes, we are enjoying it a lot.

    Local: Dya see the bars?

    Us: We haven’t gone to any bars yet.

    Local, insistently : No, no,no, Bars. Havya seen the bars?

    Us: No, we haven’t spent any time in bars here. We have been seeing the local sites and camping in the National Park.

    Local: You have to see the bars. They’re in the park, but be careful with your garbage.

    Us: Silence. Confusion.

    Locai: You know, BARS. Black Bars.

    Us: Oh. B-E-A-R-S!

    My other translation challenge was foreign TA’s in college. That would get really hard. Especially in economics classes and statistics which were both foreign languages of another variety

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Your story about the bars reminds me of two separate instances.

      The first was on my first night as a waitress at the Hubb Cafe in Carbondale. The kitchen staff consisted of two old black women and I had a very hard time understanding what they were saying, let alone what they meant. Every time I’d go into the kitchen, one of the ladies asked me if we had any coffee out there. I told her we did. This happened several times, and each time I assured her that we did. Pretty soon one of the ladies came storming into the cafe and huffed: “Well if you wont bring me any coffee, I can get it myself.” That’s when it dawned on me that I had misinterpreted her question. I thought she was asking because it was her responsibility to make more if we ran out (which it probably wasn’t, but what did I know?). It never occurred to me that was asking me to bring her a cup of coffee. I still have a hard time understanding these kinds of requests. Why not ask for what you want?

      The second instance happened a couple of years ago in a Turkish restaurant on Snelling Ave. Husband and a friend had stopped in for a bite to eat. The waiter, a Turkish man, spoke with a rather heavy accent, and husband had difficulty understanding him, but managed to place an order. When it was delivered he realized that the waiter hadn’t given him the choice between “rice” and fresh rice,” which had confused him somewhat, so he had asked him to repeat the options. Looking perplexed, husband looked to his friend for help. Jamie had shrugged and said “rice” or fresh rice,” that’s what he was hearing too. Not sure what the distinction was, to be on the safe side he had ordered the “fresh rice.” Turned out to be French fries.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. in boston i ordered a sub sandwhich and the guy asked “lodge?”
          i said huh?
          he said ” lodge?”
          i said “go and and put some of that on there”
          he looked confused and gave the large to me.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a domestic translation problem. My wife (who is word-, spelling-, definition-, and pronunciation-challenged. She’s totally a visual thinker/learner), will often misunderstand what I’m saying, and I’ll often misunderstand what she’s saying. We end up having conversations where we think we’re discussing the same issue, item, person, whatever, only to find out a few minutes into the conversation that SHE was referring to something only vaguely similar to what I thought she was referring to.

    You’d think we’d be able to communicate BETTER after 38 years of marriage, not worse.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No, wait a minute. That is MY marriage. Same conversation, different topic, conclusion and experience!

      While I have been bingeing on the TV show “Nashville” here in AZ, I came upon an episode in which two characters move in together. The female character objects to the male character’s ugly chair. We had that very same conversation at my house, another experience of “NO. Wait a minute. That is MY marriage! Are you listening in on my life?”

      This show is written by a woman, Kallie Khouri, who is married to T-Bone Burnett who Exec Produces the show. This conversation must have occurred in their house, too, for her to reproduce it so finely!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Part of the problem is people don’t like to say what they mean when they are unhappy. As anger dials upward, clarity dials down. My erstwife would come home from a long day in the office and a nasty commute, take three steps into the kitchen and roar (in her Queen of Hearts voice) “How long has THIS been like THIS?” My daughter and I would be two rooms away, desperately trying to figure out what the THIS was that had triggered the roar. What she meant was something like “Why doesn’t somebody WASH this cruddy roasting pan?” But that would have been too direct.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A series on Netflix called “Scandal” is similar to the “West Wing” series. currently, there’s a presidential race with a character who’c clearly their version of Trump. The guy’s vulgar, unscrupulous, and breaks every rule of civility. Unlike real life, I doubt he’ll win the WH, though!

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      1. It can be very difficult talking with someone who uses too many pronouns and not enough nouns or names. Especially if that person changes the subject but just keeps saying “he,” “she,” “they,” etc. so you think they are still discussing the same topic, but they’ve gone on to something entirely different.

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  4. Nice story Wessew.
    You probably know enough about glue you don’t need ‘thistothat.com’.

    I made a lot of plastic models as a kid so Testors Plastic Model glue was always around. I Didn’t sniff it! …much.

    I work w/ a lot of ESL college students. We have trouble understanding each other sometimes but it’s always interesting talking with them.
    My favorite story came from 20 years ago and was between stagehands.
    Some group had come through and one of the roadies is ‘not-from-here’. It’s break time and he asks ‘Has anyone got a ‘quarer’? We all blink and he says again. “A quarer. Anyone got a quarer’? We don’t understand and he gets more and more upset. And Loud. (because we all know it’s easier to understand when shouted) ‘Quarer! QUARER!’ Finally he says “A QUARER!! A F**KING 25 CENT PIECE!’

    OOOOOOOohhhhh. A quarter! Yeah, we all had quarters.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Ben’s comment reminds me that when my dad was creating his stuffed toy factory he took some weird orders just to generate a little revenue. One was for several thousand Green Giant dolls. These were weird. They were about four feet tall, green and mostly naked. I wouldn’t have put my daughter to sleep with one of those things in her crib; the visuals were just too crazy. Dad’s factory had a production crisis. Suddenly he faced being driven out of business if he couldn’t complete the order on time. Every family member and friend living in the Twin Cities area was pressed into emergency duty making Green Giant dolls one weekend. My job was to transport finished dolls to the shipping area. I’m still haunted by the memory of several hundred person-sized green dolls stacked on each other like victims of a massacre. My sister’s job was to glue the noses on. In our panic, nobody thought about what would happen to a teen who spent a whole day inhaling glue vapors. By day’s end she was totally zonked out and incapable of speech.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I *never* shop at Walmart, but one time I picked up a few things there. At the checkout counter, the cashier asked me, “Dyuwubu?” At first, I thought that I was just not catching it because of focusing on paying, but after she repeated it, louder each time, three times “DYUWUBU?” and I still didn’t catch it, the person behind me in line helped me out “Do. You. Want. A. Bag.” Oh! No, I don’t need a bag.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I remember helping a friend put together one of those storage cabinets – heavy duty plastic with doors and everything – in her basement. Got out the instructions, which were in… Chinese? By the time we were halfway through we were doubled over laughing, the English was so bad. I think we figured it out eventually, and I wish I had saved the instruction sheet.

    One reason I don’t watch more Masterpiece Mystery is I can only catch about half of the various English accents. At least with movies you can get subtitles…

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    1. I’ve noticed that when I watch shows that have British accents, if I stream them and watch on my laptop and listen with headphones I can understand a lot more than if I watch them on tv.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Although I’m ashamed of it and hate my weakness, I’m a Comcast cable customer. One of the compensations is that virtually every program has subtitles, and accessing them is easy. Because of my degraded hearing, this is a feature I use often. It starts with British accents, LJB, but as your ears age you begin fighting to make sense of American accents.

        A flow of closed captions is even available for live events like sports or TV news. When the programming is live, voice recognition software does the translating in real time. But, man oh man, it will drive you batty to read that stuff with all the translation errors!

        Liked by 2 people

    2. During my early years in the Twin Cities, I did some free-lance translation work from English to Danish for products like Toro snowblowers, weed wackers, and lawn mowers. User manuals, assembly instructions and the like.

      Many of these products were new to the Danish market, and there really wasn’t an established vocabulary for what the various parts were called on Danish, so I’d brainstorm with my various Danish friends and together we’d come up with a term that made sense to us. Wonder how many of those terms have stuck? Probably very few, if any, and I can imagine many a Danish user shaking his or her head and wondering who the idiot was who translated this.

      Liked by 4 people

  8. I went on a seminar to Europe when I was a junior in college. As we went through British Customs, the our professor, a very tall and thin man, thought the customs agent asked if he was a member of “the tall group”. The professor was pretty confused until he realized the agent had said “The tour group”. When the prof commented about this, the agent said, stuffily “We have our ways and you have yours”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Getting off the boat at Southhampton in 1965 I was shocked at how little I understood of the English speaking workmen….I don’t think I will ever figure out some of the dialects…thus, subtitles used even on English films these days. So handy!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Since I work with folks from around the world, I often have translation trouble. But it always makes me feel bad because everyone I work with has better English than my tenuous grasp on their language (I do some Spanish, some French, a smidge of German and an even smaller smidge of Italian). Email has been a game-changer for me, since now misunderstandings have a paper trail so it’s easier to fix something. I do have one client who prefers phone to email; he’s from Belgium and I really have to work hard to make sure we’re on the same proverbial page!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. And then there’s the translation problem in my own head. Last summer I was trying to fix a broken patio table – one last fix before it was slated for the boulevard. Decided to use Gorilla Glue, since the fix was on the bottom side and wouldn’t show. At one point a big glob started to dribble down; my brain said “don’t wipe that with your hand” but my body didn’t get the translation in time. Took DAYS to get all the glue off my hand.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. And there’s understanding the ‘universal farmers hand signals’.
    Everything from speed up, back up, slow down, back up a little more, ‘mon back’.., [WHUMP!] ‘…that’s good..’– to raise the tractor loader bucket, tip the loader bucket, speed up the PTO or close the gate before the cows get out.
    Or my dad in the shop, yelling to me, over the sound of the tractor, which I Interpret based on possible options of what he might want, factored by some lip reading and divided by the number of syllables to come up with ‘Open the shop door so I can drive out of here’.
    People are amazed, but it works.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. OT: Two days ago, my furnace died during the -25 degree weather. I spent the next 30 hours with no heat, wearing a parka, wool hat, wool gloves and using 4 blankets. The furnace guy told me that there was a small carbon monoxide leak and to shut the broken furnace off or get out of the cottage. I stupidly thought I could tough it out for that night and most of the next day, but I was so frozen, I wound up sitting in my car with the heater blowing for a couple of hours. The next day while a new furnace was being installed, I found that my gorgeous large coleus plants were dead. That’s how I knew that the house temp had sunk to below freezing.

    I survived, but barely. It’s two days later and I’m still shivering. If the power goes out (which means that the furnace blower can’t keep heating the house), I’ll find a friend’s or a kid’s house to drive to!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lucky the pipes didnt freeze. the oven and stove running witht he doors open and the water boiling do a good back up. i had the furnace proclaimed dead by the furnace gys on a 25 below week when it was 7 days out for the furnace install. propanbe and a torpedo heater was the fix in that instance. my cars heater is sch that i freeze my ass off on the 5 really cold days. i am haveing a stretch of thsoe days right now. i dont use the propane heater in the car. hey maybe i should.

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    2. So glad that you just got cold. While your coleus leaves may have frozen and it appears dead, try trimming it all the way back. I’d not be surprised if it will come back.

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    1. yep yo can only do one or two on a cirucut
      on in the bathroom one in the kitchen one in the bedroom etc… if there are two on one fuse it will blow especially if the refrigerator or other big energy user is plugged in there too

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  13. Feel lucky you weren’t done in by the carbon monoxide. My favorite memory from six years of teaching Freshman English is the paper one of my young men wrote about carbon monoxide. He explained how it is an odorless gas, but dangerous. If you smell carbon monoxide, he said, you should get the hell out of there.

    That’s pretty much the story of my life. I creep along the path of life, sniffing for the whiff of a lethal odorless gas.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. We enjoy the chicken salad from HyVee but it became apparent that each store makes their own version and they’re not all the same.
    But as I was trying to figure that out, I went to a counter at a local HyVee and asked them how the chicken salad was made. I *thought* she said, ‘You’d have to ask the chicken’… which I thought was odd, but sort of makes sense in a random kinda way… so I said, ‘OK, where would I find the chicken’. To which she got a funny look on her face and I had to repeat myself and with furrowed brow, she said try the deli counter.

    So I went over there and said to the kid, “I’m supposed to ask the chicken how your chicken salad is made.” He slowly squinted his eyes and then we both started to laugh.
    And that’s when I learned each store makes their own version of chicken salad.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think the employee must’ve said “You’d have to ask the kitchen”, but then, kitchens usually don’t speak when asked a question, so asking the chicken might be more effective.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. My translation issues usually came in my theater days working with directors. Things like, “so I’d really like something that is (waves hands around vaguely with inferences about colors tied to emotions that don’t make sense – perhaps something about lighting that I am not working on).” So I attempt to design and build something that is (that vague thing) and part way through get an, “oh – does that door need to be there?” Or, “That green isn’t what I imagined.” (Um – you didn’t ask for a door, the script requires it – so I added it where it made sense. And I’m not done painting – that ain’t your green.)

    In our house, the conversations are less about “oh, you meant that?” as, “back up…you started mid-thought – I have no idea what you are referring to.” Most recently, it was husband starting with, “when you call them, ask about the…” Um. Who am I calling? And why am I asking about that? (The dentist as it turns out what who I was to call.)

    I am married to an “all glue is the same” person. He is befuddled when I explain that I don’t have the right sort of glue. Daughter understands. She knows that some glues are good for many things, but some jobs require specific adhesives (super glue will not work well if fabric glue is needed, hot melt glue just doesn’t stick to some stuff, Elmer’s is mostly only good for paper and making a mess).

    Liked by 4 people

    1. This made me think of something that happened about 40 years ago. I was driving a 1973 Mercury Capri, and one evening when I was picking up a couple of friends, one of those weird shaped small windows in the back seat clattered to the ground when one of them slammed the door. The glass didn’t break, but I obviously had a fairly drafty interior for the rest of the night.

      The following day I went to my now long-gone little neighborhood corner hardware store. I asked if he had any glue that would fuse glass to rubber. He looked puzzled and said “No, I don’t think so. What are you trying to glue.” I explained the situation to him, and my car being parked right outside the store, he went out to look at it. He suggested that since this was only a three year old car, that I might be better off taking it to the dealership. I did, and they fixed it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. in 73 they were not very good at little cars here in america and it opened the door for the imports. stuff like windows falling off a 3 year old car was normal. today they are a bit better thank goodness.

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        1. Actually the 1973 Capri was built in Germany. It was a very sporty little car, and I loved it. But, rust got the better of it after about ten years. The hinges to the driver’s door rusted so badly that the door simply dropped of. That was the end of it.

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        2. We had a 1976 Honda Civic. Bright yellow. We quite liked it at the time, but in retrospect it had some drawbacks I would never accept. A lot of it had to do with our winter and specifically the salt. The brakes on,the Honda had a tendency to corrode as a result of winter conditions so that every winter I would have to take it in and have the brake calipers freed up. The nearest Honda dealer was in Hopkins, We lived in Crystal and I worked downtown. We only had the one car. So I would have to take the car out to Hopkins for service, then take the bus downtown and after work take the bus back to Hopkins to pick up the car. Every winter. The other insufficiency Hondas had at that time with regard to our winters was that the wheelwells were unlined so that salt spray from the tires would cause the metal along the sides of the hood to rust away, which ours did. It seems incredible, but nobody expected cars to last much more than about 5 years back then before they started to look pretty bad.

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        3. Cars didn’t last long in general a few decades ago. Yes, bodies rusted, but engines and transmissions also failed. At one time it was considered a big deal when a car lived long enough to roll 100,000 miles on the odometer. That is commonplace now.

          Incidentally, Bill, I used to have a 1975 yellow Civic. It got rusty.

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        4. Bill – my first car was a (used) 1978 Honda Civic. It had rusted just enough that you had to lift and slam the passenger door to get it to close. It was tiny enough I used to joke that with a couple of friends I could lift it into any parking space, no matter how small. It leaked oil like a sieve (which is how it met its demise), but for $500 it was a good “runner” for the year+ I had it.

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    2. Oh yeah, good examples Anna.
      Some days I swear I’m gonna get “It’s not done yet!” tattoo’d on my forehead…
      “Is that what it’s going to look like?” IT’S NOT DONE YET!

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      1. Ha ha – I watched The Agony and The Ecstasy (can we say Netflix at Sherrilee’s house these days?) over the weekend. I loved all the times the Pope/Rex Harrison said “when will you make an end?” and Michelangelo/Charlton Heston said “when I am finished.”

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  16. I can’t think of glue without remembering all the cartoons I saw as a kid that had fun with the idea of glue. One source of humor was the notion several cartoonists had that if this glue was any good, wouldn’t it glue the lid of the glue pot to the jar?

    And I remember the first Superglue ads. A construction worker’s hat was glued to some kind of beam, and he was swinging below it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My experience with superglue suggests that, if you wanted to affix your thumb to your forehead, superglue would be just the thing. If you want to glue your hat to a girder, not so much.

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  17. One problem with my bad hands: I cannot apply these modern glues to fix things without getting it on me. They all seem to work very well for skin to skin or skin to anything.
    How small children pick up body talk at a small age always amazes me. Last night we were facetiming with our three-year-old CA grandson. He was watching his kids Ipad while we were watching him. My son calls while he is halfway through one of the PBS shows and we watch him until it is over and then he talks to us. Last night Sandy decided to try to read a Dr. Seuss book to him as he watched. She did get him to turn around and look for a second or two a couple of times. On her third try, he turned around to look at her and then laid his head down on the couch to express his weary exhaustion with her. Funny. funny, funny.
    OT #1: Sandy and I were just talking. She has hot had diarrhea for 11 straight days. We do not think in our 51.5 years of marriage she has ever before come even close to that record. It is amazing.
    OT#2: A few months ago one of my favorite former students suddenly dropped dead in the office of the Waterloo IA newspaper. He was a sports reporter. Two days before he died, we were talking about potential for him to wrie on his own if the paper gave him a parachute. I suggested funny sports stories about Iowa might have a certain cache. So in memory of him I wrote a story about town baseball in Iowa. I think I captured a bit of Iowa, but it is not the very funny sort of thing Sully would have done. I did write the first draft of this with Windows 10 voice activation. The problem is that I have to do so many rewrites that it does not do my hands a lot of good. I have been at this for several weeks trying to get my hands through it. In any case, here is the story.
    https://everythingissouthofhere.wordpress.com/2016/12/29/beau-rudenfels-veteran-southpaw-of-raccoon-iowa/#more-231

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  18. PJ’s earlier comments about translating owner’s manuals from English to Danish reminds me that translation goes both ways. Both into English and out of it, obviously, but in subtler directions as well. We generally think of translation as serving to make information more generally accessible, but sometimes translation aims to make a communication more exclusive.

    When Steve was writing for a hunting and fishing audience, I have no doubt he employed a hunting and fishing voice. That would have been an easy voice to assume because Steve is in fact a hunter and fisher. He could probably talk more about what that meant in his case. I don’t know if it is ever taught as a principal of writing to a specialized or technical audience, but in my experience the voice you choose is incredibly important. Your audience will be more receptive to what you have to say if they accept you as a peer and not an outsider. In that sense, you are translating, subtly, away from general accessibility.

    For several years, I wrote copy for a small business-to-business advertising agency. Business to business means that you are trying to promote a product or service to specialists within another industry. That meant I had to devise single ads, ad campaigns, brochures and even scripts for multimedia shows for clients like 3M and Cargill, for products aimed at farmers, physicians, truck fleet managers, chemical storage facilities, data storage facilities, bottlers and chefs. In a sense I had to learn to speak a little farmer, a little physician, a little engineer, etc.

    Attempting to communicate to each of these disparate audiences— to translate from raw facts to a language that feels like inside information — is subtle and tricky. There are so many potential pitfalls. First of all, you have to read enough of the existing literature from that specialty that you begin to “hear” the characteristic voice. That can begin to inform your word choices and attitude. While it’s good to identify jargon and even use it where appropriate, you need to do so very sparingly, conscious that there are likely norms of usage you have not picked up on.

    You study the available documentation until you are comfortable that you understand what it is you are promoting. It’s important that you refrain as you begin to write from over-explaining your subject— it’s new and fresh to you, but commonplace to your audience. Over-explaining marks you as a newcomer. And only an outsider would present the case from the corporate perspective. You need to translate the story from what the company wants to communicate to what the audience is interested in hearing. Copywriters fail to do this all the time. Every time you see a headline that begins with “Announcing” or “Now!”, you are seeing an advertisement written from the stance of what the company seeks to push at you and not what you would want to know.

    In general my approach to writing for specialized audiences has been to be as spare as possible within the communication while still giving the message individual character. I once had to write some catalog copy for a Sharper Image-type catalog and the descriptions were as effusive and over the top as the business to business copy is minimalist, but that’s another story.

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    1. I pretty much built my career on the appeal of a voice I developed. As Bill indicates, it is often necessary to incorporate a certain amount of jargon to show that you are an insider. If you wrote about fishing in the 1970s, for example, you had to use “weedline” and “breakoff” often and correctly. Saying something about a “fishing pole” would have almost been a career-ending mistake. Those whippy sticks we fished with were “rods.”

      An important aspect of the voice for outdoor articles was speaking vernacular English. The language had to be unpretentious. But, oddly enough, many writers of the time were pretentious in terms of how they presented themselves. They were eager to demonstrate expertise, so they bragged. The voice I developed was distinctive because of the precision with which I used vernacular speech, but even more because I turned the “hero” thing on its head. My stories had fun showing examples of my incompetence. I was virtually the only writer in the field who joked about screwing up, and readers made it clear that they preferred that to bragging. But I hedged my bet. While my words made fun of my outdoor failures, my stories had photos of me with enough fish or pheasants to show I wasn’t a total doofus.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. My primary motive for writing a collection of short stories was to play with voice, not so much to fit an audience but to fit theme, plot, setting and character.

        Liked by 2 people

  19. Sorry, Anna just reminded me that I didn’t post the next book club on the Blevins page. It’s there now.

    What Alice Forgot
    Liane Moriarty

    Life After Life
    Kate Atkinson

    Sunday, February 5
    Verily Sherrilee’s

    Liked by 1 person

  20. OT: We had a family dinner last week. My daughter’s family recently got back from a week-long visit to my SIL’s family home in Michigan. He now is campaigning to move the family back to the Midwest. I won’t list all the reasons why, but the biggest one is that he feels that folks in the Midwest have better values. I cast my lot with that family when I sold my home and moved here. I’m like a white-muzzled gimpy old Labrador nobody would adopt from a shelter, so if they go back to the Midwest they pretty much have to take me. They talked me into coming, so now they’re stuck with me 🙂

    If anybody has strong ideas about where we should go, I’ll listen. I think there are some really nice folks in south Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Winona. Property values, which are insanely high here, are dirt-cheap in Michigan. I can’t imagine what kind of palatial home “we” could buy if we sold here and moved back.

    What are the odds of this happening? My SIL talks often about breathtaking lifestyle changes, then almost always clings to the course he is already on. While I enjoy the weather here, I miss much of what I left behind when I moved.

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    1. If my daughter and sil take new calls, which they may, we would probably eventually have to follow, if they get much farther away. I keep telling her not to let us limit them.

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    2. Well, Steve, I suppose our suggestions are not worth that much, since you are at the mercy of your family as to where (or if) you move, but I vote for south Minneapolis. Or Duluth.

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  21. I’d cheerfully go to La Crosse! College town. Pretty location. I could switch my health care to the Mayo organization. And I happen to know there are at least three progressive folks in La Crosse (friends of the friend I write letters to). My left-leaning politics are lost in the muddle here, but if I lived in La Crosse I could vote against Scott Walker.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. The 100th comment is mine. It is political. About Trump.
    “What we have here is failure to” prevent communication. Someone needs to stop these Trump tweets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t want to stop them. The man is capable of saying loony crap in all conceivable venues, but his late night tweets are absolutely the crassest and most idiotic things he puts out–which is saying a LOT!. We’ve got this man for four years unless he does something so stupid he gets impeached. I’m happy to let him tweet himself from one mess to the next.

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        1. Renee has mentioned before that she can see pending posts, and she has even told us how she gets to the page where she sees it. I’ve tried her method and can’t see the pending posts. I guess she’s special.

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    1. Depending on how you look at it. It’s snowing here as well. Everything has a fresh coating of pristine white fluffiness. I have the luxury of not having to go out in it if I don’t want to; suppose that makes all the difference.

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      1. We got 12 inches of snow last night, so I’m snowbound up here in my mountain retreat. My hummingbirds have perished or migrated, for I haven’t seen one in four days. I sure hope they migrated. Last night Portland lost the fourth homeless person to hypothermia this week. But the world–or as much of it as I can see–is beautiful. Anticipating this storm, yesterday I picked up groceries and other supplies to get me safely through this time of being isolated.

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  23. Yesterday a light winter storm pretty much shut down the Portland area. Temperatures didn’t fall below freezing, but there was a light snow/rain that made roads treacherous. They closed schools and some businesses. TV news reporters flooded areas where pedestrians did spectacular falls while trying to walk on icy sidewalks. A Minnesotan would be tempted to snicker at this, but I do not. Local roads are unequal to existing traffic when conditions are perfect, so of course freezing rain is going to be trouble. The highway department doesn’t have the sand or salt that makes traffic possible in Minnesota. I don’t view this with smugness.

    The worst of it is the impact of this light storm on the homeless. Portland has a homeless crisis, as do San Francisco and Seattle and other cities. The usual mild climate allows people without shelter to cope most of the time. The regional hostility to taxes of any sort means that local governments have no means for coping. Because many homeless folks have addiction issues, they resist using shelters. In one week two of those poor souls slept on the ground and never woke up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such a sad situation.

      I know what you mean by the local municipalities not having the wherewithal to effectively deal with even small amounts of snow. A friend from Minnesota, who now lives in Atlanta, learned that the hard way last year. This year when they warned of a couple of inches of snow, she stocked the fridge to deal with the possibility of not being able to go anywhere for a couple of days.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My situation is special, PJ, because I live near the top of a small mountain. That becomes difficult in winter because the road connecting this area to the outside world is steep. How steep? No bicyclist can ride up the hill, even with the help of low gears. When our roads get slippery, the highway folks throw barriers out to stop traffic on this road, which leaves a lot of people living on an island high in the air. We can see drugstores and supermarkets in the distance, but we can’t get there! My daughter frequently nags me to lay a lot of groceries when a storm approaches because it is common to be cut off from things for two days. But at least I have shelter. I’ve not gotten used to the sight of all the less fortunate people who shuffle about pushing stolen grocery carts that hold all their belongings. Breaks my heart.

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    2. Freezing rain is never fun, no matter where you live. Both walking and driving are dangerous when there’s ice. Here, at least, between plowing, sand, and salt, they can get at least the main roads to a certain degree of safety, unlike places that are not equipped to deal with it.

      A few years ago, I was walking somewhere and was just crossing the nearest intersection to my house – it was very icy, so I was being extremely careful. A bicyclist came along and WHAM, he hit a huge patch of glazed ice and went down. I went over to try to help him up, because he was having a hard time getting up (because it was so slippery) and I didn’t want to leave him lying in the street. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get close to him because of the ice; I nearly fell, too, and he told me to not to try to help (it was obvious I could be no help).

      More recently, yesterday, I made a drive to a western suburb that should have been about an hour round trip. I didn’t think the snow was that bad, but between the traffic and the slick streets, the trip took 2 3/4 hours. That’s about how long a flight to Seattle takes. And a bit longer than a drive to Duluth.

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  24. I emailed Dale.

    I write psychological evaluations so that clients, physicians, attorneys, judges, other clinicians, child protection workers, and teachers can understand a person’s behavior. I aim for plain, understandable, and clear language. My husband is an absolute master at doing just that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is in response to Steve and Bill’s comments on voice in writing. My thoughts are fragmented due to the extreme cold we are having. No warm up here until Saturday.

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  25. My car became coated in ice over the last 24 hours or so. The doors have frozen shut, and I’ve gotten them thawed a couple of times by going to my favorite Starbucks that has the heated underground parking, but they keep refreezing again. So far I’ve been able to get into the front seat on the passenger side and crawl over. Warmer and/or drier weather would be most welcome.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I heard from Dale. There will a post from Tim on Friday. I have the best luck finding upcoming posts on my phone. I have no idea why.

    I read on the NOAA forcast discussion section of the weather report for our area that there could be “Blizzard conditions, or worse” this evening in central ND. What could be worse than blizzard conditions? The snow gods stomping on our homes?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I’m grabbing a moment to post. We were predicted to get a winter storm two nights ago. What came instead was an exceptionally severe storm, with up to a foot of snow . . . almost unheard of here. The heavy, wet snow dragged down utility lines. Our apartment complex was plunged into a power blackout for six hours. When it was fixed the internet connection was still down, and it remained down for over a whole day. For me that meant no TV, no internet, no email, no WiFi radio and no telephone. Because the only road feeding to this mountain top apartment complex is steep and icy, technicians couldn’t get here to fix things. As of 4 AM, the connection to the outside world seems to be working. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Are you charging out of bed today eager for the day, and if so, eager for what?
    Or are you dragging out of bed with nothing scintillating before you?
    Or are you content with the routine that lies before you for the next 16 hours?
    Or do you want to tell me to shut up and mind my own business?

    Liked by 1 person

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