2021 - The Year of the Ox
Wishing You a Brighter 2021
Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Clients,
Well, where to begin?
There is an old Chinese curse which appears to be neither Chinese nor exceedingly old. The first known reference was in 1936 in the Yorkshire Post of West Yorkshire, England and attributed to Sir Austen Chamberlain:
“…May you live in interesting times. There is no doubt that the curse has fallen on us.”
I would like to offer an antidote to that curse for the New Year. May we all experience a little more peace, health, and boredom, and may 2021 be a bit less eventful than the last year.
I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe, and because I know some of you receiving this have undoubtedly lost loved ones or are struggling with any number of untenable difficulties, I offer my heartfelt condolences and hope that you all find peace, hope, and relief in the near future.
Rob and I just returned from our nightly walk in the rain to enjoy Christmas lights. While walking, I thought about all the things I am thankful for – rain for perpetually thirsty California, mild weather, a good raincoat and pair of galoshes, my soul-mate Rob, and your friendship, love, and continued confidence in my work. As I thought about writing my 26th annual missive with sadly few professional activities and even fewer personal activities, I wondered if there was anything worth writing about. Fear not! I have never been accused of having nothing to say.
Like everyone else on the planet, 2020 was an exercise in adaptation - staying home and learning how to conduct business and interact with people virtually. Add to that yet another summer and fall with endless stifling smoke from record-setting wildfires. News Flash! It was definitely not a normal year.
Much of my 2020 was spent in webinars and Zoom meetings. I attended 408 hours and 30 minutes (yes, I keep records). Eckhart Tolle said, “Wherever you are, be totally there.” It did not take very long for me to realize how important that is and yet how difficult when on Zoom. I found it to be very challenging to always be present through my computer screen, but I think I adapted and learned to do just that. Through countless hours of webinars, I humbly learned there are so many things I know nothing about. Yet, with all the knowledge I gained, I think I’m ready to join WA, Webinar Addicts Anonymous. (Is that a thing?)
January 2020 started fairly normally as it took me to Las Vegas for CES 2020. It was exciting to see so many unbelievable technological innovations showcased by more than 4,400 exhibitors and about 170,000 attendees. Interpreting totally futuristic advanced technologies is always a thrilling experience. Then COVID-19 disrupted everything. When I had to return to Las Vegas in late March for what would be a very rare “in-person” assignment, I saw a completely empty airport, rental car desk, and hotel front desk. What a drastic contrast! I have been to Las Vegas for work on numerous occasions but never expected to encounter such an eerie, empty feeling with no one around.
Late January, before the pandemic, I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Interpreter and Liaison Professional Enrichment Seminar and 2020 Global Ties U.S. National Meeting National Conference in Washington DC for five days. It was great to finally meet people I had only known by their job titles and email addresses. When asked to visualize and represent our team of interpreters, one of the attendees drew a wonderful picture that quite aptly conveyed his idea of interpreters as unknown angels.
So before worldwide shutdowns started, I had three in-person out of town assignments in multiple cities (Las Vegas, New Jersey, New York, Seattle, and DC) totaling 16 days (down from 93 in 2019). These assignments covered electric vehicle batteries and autonomous vehicles, education, and one military assignment. Then, everything was cancelled. My world seemed to stop for a time. I soon figured out that it was time to learn more about remote interpreting as fast as I could.
Virtual assignments: I had many firsts this year.
CA State court assignment - Zoom (April 3)
CA State court assignment - BlueJeans (June 8)
Webinar on remote interpreting in COVID-19 Era (April 8)
Remote Simultaneous Interpreting with RSI platform (April 24)
Coffee-Side Chat with Naomi Bowman (May 4)
Virtual Northern California Translators Association Meeting (May 9)
Hybrid Deposition - Adobe Connect for exhibits and phone line for audio and interpretation (June 29)
With the variety of video conferencing platforms now available, I became increasingly busier with Remote Simultaneous Interpreting (RSI) assignments as the year progressed. Here are some of the topics I covered (in alphabetical order): affirmative action, air pollution, autism, clinical trial, COVID-19, domestic violence, education, election, finance, hunger in America, information technology (artificial intelligence in the smart watch and mobile devices for cognitive skills), and labor unions.
California State Courts began embracing some of the video conferencing platforms available, but I had some in-person assignments as well. Of course, the courthouses remained eerily empty and social distancing was always maintained.
Court and legal assignments: In-Person Proceedings at California State Court – 41 days including 2 trials (1 jury trial – 9 days, and 1 court trial – 9 days); Video remote interpreting using Zoom, BlueJeans, GoTo Meeting, Microsoft Teams (36 assignments including 1 for Federal court; Attorney/Client meetings (5 Remote), and Depositions (12 In-Person and 16 Remote using Adobe Connect, Webex and Zoom).
Number of “in-person” assignments cancelled due to the pandemic: 97 Days (34 separate assignments). Obviously, that doesn’t count all the assignments that were never scheduled because of shutdowns.
The majority of my translation and translation review work was election- and COVID-19 related. Speaking of the election, and I make no apology for my opinion, it seems that the best news in 2020 was the presidential election result. I’m reminded of a quote by Virginia Woolf “If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.” The candidate lost who was incapable of telling the truth and made more than 50 false or misleading claims per day. I hope the next four years can bring more truth and sanity to this great democracy of ours.
I attended, presented at, and participated in more webinars than ever (191 webinars with more than 400 hours). Book Passage, a local independent bookstore, had numerous events with writers and poets all over the United States, such as Lisa See, John Grisham, Jane Hirshfield, Isabel Allende, Yiyun Li, and Chasten Buttigieg; I happily watched during quiet days at home. Other webinars I attended covered eclectic and interesting topics and provided me with precious moments to interact with my colleagues and friends and clients. I learned about best practices for remote interpreting. (Thank you Naomi!)
Here are some of the presentations:
U.S. Politics in a Pandemic
COVID-19 Recession: Economic Fallout and Prospects for Recovery
The Bone Fish – Using Animation to Explore the Emotional Complexity of Abortion
Financial Fraud in the Time of COVID
Nuclear Proliferation in an Uncertain World
Cognitive Skills Enhancement for Translators and Interpreters
Conflict Management and Microaggressions.
Some of the sessions I particularly enjoyed:
AIIC USA Online Lecture: Strategies in Simultaneous Interpretation (Presenter: Cyril Flerov)
AIIC USA Live Interview & Q & A Demystifying Audio Equipment & Sound Quality for Interpreters (Speaker – Rob Dickson, Audio Engineer. Yes, Rob is my beloved husband, so I am entitled to be biased!)
ATA Webinar Don’t Fall for it: Scams Targeting Language Professionals (Presenter: Carola Berger, PhD)
AIIC USA Notetaking for Consecutive Interpreting with David Violet
Virtual Event For Better: 32 Years of Asian Women’s Shelter hosted by Asian Women’s Shelter
Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program’s Professional Enrichment Seminar Mindful Presence and Masterful Facilitation (Presenter: Belinda Chiu)
After attending so many webinars I mustered the courage to offer one of my own on October 31. Preparation Strategies for Interpreters from Courtrooms to Conferences during and post COVID-19. During the presentation I shared with attendees what I learned about Remote Simultaneous Interpreting and some of the mistakes I made during my 35 years working as an interpreter in hopes that they do not have to make those same mistakes. Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”
After learning about the murder of George Floyd (8 minutes and 46 seconds) and the shooting of Breonna Taylor, as well as less publicized murders committed by the police, it was unacceptable for me to do nothing. With masks and as much social distancing as possible, Rob and I participated in several peaceful protests with the multilingual signs (“I can’t breathe” and “Enough is Enough”). We made these signs with help from my dear friends and excellent translators.
As you can imagine, my in-person cultural activities were near zero, and all prior to the pandemic:
75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz Event (Moderated by Randy Morgan)
Mick Foley’s The Nice Day Tour at DC Improv Comedy Club
Chicago (Musical) in New York
Rob and I spent too much time in our kitchen making bread, dumplings, pizzas, and pasta from scratch. Also, Rob’s hard work in the garden resulted in bountiful vegetables and wonderful microgreens, creating beautiful healthy and delicious meals and salads (only the cheese and almonds are from stores).
Here are some of my other personal activities in 2020:
Many walks around the neighborhood in the heat, cold, and rain
Hikes – Drake’s Estero, Point Reyes, Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Bolinas Ridge, Tomales Bay, Tomales Point Trail, Bear Valley Loop, Mount Wittenberg, and Point Reyes’s Estero Trail.
Please share your favorite trails in whatever region you live.
Now, here are some books, films, and programs that greatly helped me pass the time and cope with the pandemic and political tumult.
“…the reading of good books is like a conversation with the best men of past centuries" - René Descartes (1596 - 1650)
The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
The Trailing Spouse by Jo Furniss
The Three “Only” Things Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence & Imagination by Robert Moss
Films and Favorite TV Series – I watched some of my old favorite movies again.
Lee Jeong-hyang’s The Way Home (2002 Korean Film)
Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974 Film)
Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990 Film)
Richard Friedenberg’s The Education of Little Tree (1997 Film)
Rian Johnson’s Knives Out
My Octopus Teacher, Documentary directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed
The Queen’s Gambit created by Scott Frank and Allan Scott
Boardwalk Empire created by Terence Winter
The Wire created by Ed Burns and David Simon
Please share your favorite books, films, and cultural events.
That's it folks.
Thanks for reading. Here's wishing you a happy 2021, year of the Ox!
With warmest regards,
(510) 914-7596 (Call/Text)
550 N. San Pedro Rd.
San Rafael, CA 94903 USA