2019 - The Year of the Earth Pig
Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Clients,
Happy Year of the Earth Pig!
A pig represents luck and I wish you all a happy and lucky 2019.
During the relaxing and peaceful staycation at the time when business is sluggish, I started to reflect on 2018 and begin writing the 24th annual missive while reading Ted Gioia’s How to Listen to Jazz and listening to Thelonious Monk’s 'Round Midnight. It’s a refreshing break from the onslaught of depressing and anxiety-producing national and world news.
I will not go into politics here, but I’ll just say that I hope everyone considers the following:
In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said,
"Do you know what I just heard about your friend?"
"Hold on a minute," Socrates replied. "Before telling me anything I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test."
"Triple filter?" said the acquaintance.
"That's right," Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you're going to say. That's why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"
"No," the man said. "Actually I just heard about it and..."
"All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?"
"No, on the contrary..."
"So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him, but you're not certain it's true. You may still pass the test though, because there's one filter left: the filter of usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?"
“No, not really."
"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?"
Wherever you stand on matters relating to gossip, politics or the world in general, please consider the source and check for facts.
Needless to say, you can trust all that I say in this letter.
Another favorite quote of mine comes to mind when I think of the current political landscape. “Flowers are like all of us… they thrive on kindness.” I don’t know who said this but I saw this quote at Vickie’s Garden inside Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park near Grand Rapids, Michigan. I highly recommend this hidden jewel if you ever find yourself in the Midwest.
In 2019, let’s all try to pass the Triple Filter test and show more kindness all around.
Now let me thank you for being an important part of my life as I share my personal and professional activities of 2018. As I am still one of only a handful people on this planet without a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account, I can assure you I have not shared any of this with you. Rest assured this yearly missive is the only vehicle I use to tell about my year and to express my sincerest gratitude for your friendship and love and continued confidence in my work. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
2018 started with personal good news with respect to an enigmatic and questionable moving violation ticket I received in 2017. The citation was for blocking an intersection (California VC 22526). I decided to contest this ticket in court. The officer who issued the ticket appeared, but before the judge took the bench, I approached the officer and politely requested to speak with him outside the courtroom. Outside the courtroom, I introduced myself and started telling him my side of the story. He then said he was going to request that the judge dismiss my ticket. Hooray! I will never know if he already planned to dismiss my ticket if I didn’t ask to talk to him before the court trial. Given the common knowledge that if the officer shows up, you'll most likely lose, that was indeed a sweet victory with which to start my year.
In February, my nephew Peter and his lovely wife Justina added the youngest adorable member, Jonathan to their family. I was so happy to hold that tiny baby as second time great aunt. Welcome, Jonathan!
Then during summer Rob and I received devastating news of Rob’s cousin Brian’s death; Brian Riggs was a couple of weeks older than Rob and they literally grew up together. I had known Brian for almost a decade and always enjoyed hearing about his adventures demonstrating sheer audacity and his in-depth knowledge about the IT industry. He was a globe-trotting analyst, one of the best in the industry. No doubt he lived his life to the fullest. We miss you, Brian.
Now, for anyone who might be interested in some statistics with respect to my professional activities:
Let me start with my favorite conference interpreting assignments:
Total number of interpreting days: 99
Topics covered: information technology, politics, religious freedom, human rights, climate change, marketing, design thinking and innovation, video games, food safety, virtual assistant such as Alexa, labor unions, philanthropy, almonds and cherries (yum yum!), defense, and automobiles.
Having to prepare for so many different types of assignments sadly left me little time for leisure reading.
Venues: Throughout the United States (Albuquerque, Charleston, Kona and Honolulu in Hawaii, Iowa City, Las Vegas, Nashville, New York, San Antonio, and Washington DC) and overseas (Buenos Aires, Seoul, and Yokohama). Yes, I did sleep, study and watch a lot of movies on the planes. After all these years, I should be used to it, but somehow it still takes its toll.
Favorite assignment of the year: G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires – I met and worked with so many wonderful colleagues from all over the world.
Court and legal assignments:
Number of Full Days: 54 at California State courts and Federal courts throughout California and in Denver, Colorado and Pahrump, Nevada.
Number of Depositions: 22
Number of over-the-phone legal interpretations and media interviews: 15
One of the interviews I interpreted that stands out was for Esquire Magazine. The reporter, Nick Pachelli wanted to hear from a North Korean defector about his perspective of 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyungchang, South Korea. (See the article here).
Also, I was interviewed by three media outlets - The Korea Times (Hankook Ilbo) with Young Joo Shin, The Daily Beast with Sam Stein and Time Magazine with Michael Zennie. They wanted to know about my interpreting experiences and the differences between the Korean language spoken in South Korea and in North Korea.
The Daily Beast article by Sam Stein was titled “Not Lost in Translation: If Trump Calls Kim Jong Un A ‘Fat Toad,’ His Interpreter Will Have to Translate It.”
1 medical assignment and 1 voice over project
A little bit more on professional activities. I participated as a facilitator in a court interpreter training seminar for interpreters of American Sign Language, Russian and Korean, presented as a mock trial. It was fascinating and rewarding; I learned so much from the trainers, participants, and other facilitators. It was truly a wonderful experience at my alma mater in beautiful Monterey, California. In March, I also provided a four-hour workshop on conference interpreting titled “Yes, I do have the best job in the world: Introduction to Conference Interpreting” for my beloved Northern California Translators Association (NCTA) which celebrated its 40th birthday this year. I joined NCTA in 1986 and have been an active member for 33 years. To my surprise, NCTA granted me with Lifetime Honorary Membership during its February General Meeting. NCTA has connected me with so many wonderful colleagues and friends over three decades.
Between interpreting assignments and other travel, I provided translation and translation review services for a limited number of long time customers.
Favorite translation project of the year: Beautiful, artsy coffee table book titled Catching the Light by Bruce Munro. Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to translate any love letters which is definitely my forte.
Topics covered: Advertisements, the election, patents, court and legal documents, surveys, websites, eLearning courses, and economics.
As an FYI, I also finally updated my ancient resume. Yes, the shoemaker has no shoes and the busy interpreter has an out-of-date resume. I guess I have slowed down enough to catch up on that much. Okay, enough talk about my professional activities.
Here are my personal activities from 2018. In February, while walking around Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Park in Hawaii I found this selfie.
I also met several turtles happily tanning under the perfect Kona sun without any sunscreen.
And my simple, ideal home that would not require any repairs or maintenance.
Rob and I went through a very noisy and dusty six-month long repair and renovation of the main part of our San Rafael home. Gold plated problems for sure – we are lucky to be able to enjoy such a beautiful home, and we hope to never take it for granted. Still, it was stressful and unpleasant.
Año Nuevo State Park of California also provided us with lots of fun with gigantic elephant seals in a gorgeous setting.
Rob and I had a once-in-a-lifetime vacation in Alaska. We flew to Vancouver, Canada to spend several days with our dear friends, then took a cruise on the Holland America Lines’ Westerdam through the Inside Passage and ended up in Seward, AK.
The Crew on the Westerdam treated us like royalty.
They even let me pilot the ship.
OK, not really. But we did get an exclusive tour of the ship which included the bridge.
We bussed to Denali National Park where we got to see lots of amazing wildlife.
While in Denali, I wholeheartedly agreed with the naturalist Adolph Murie who said, “We come to Denali to watch; to catch a glimpse of the primeval. We come close to the tundra flowers, the lichens, and the animal life.
Each of us will take some inspiration home; a touch of the tundra will enter our lives – and, deep inside, make of us all poets and kindred spirits.” I feel that no one could summarize Denali better than that.
We then took an amazing train ride to Anchoage, AK. We were very lucky to have gotten a view of Denali (Mt. McKinley) as it is often shrouded in clouds.
Then, we drove down to the Kenai Peninsula and fished for halibut and king salmon.
This vacation fulfilled both our annual domestic trip (Alaska) and annual overseas trip (Canada) per our self-imposed yearly requirement.
Due to the expensive home repair last summer, in 2019 we will reduce our travel requirement to one domestic airplane or road trip and skip the international trip. (Unless we change our minds and decide to go somewhere exciting. Tune in next year to find out.) Please share your suggestions for destinations. Thank you.
I was very fortunate to have two mini vacations in Korea after my assignments. The best part was I got to spend quality time with my beloved niece in Busan,
and had a weekend getaway with my dear friend whom I have known nearly four decades. I also spent some overdue quality time with my older brother in Seoul.
As is my custom for this annual letter, here are my picks for cultural events:
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams
Best Film of the Year:
Shoplifters by Hirokazu Kore-eda (same director as Like Father, Like Son which I strongly recommend as well)
Crazy Rich Asians
and two Korean films
Little Forest and
A Taxi Driver
Favorite Stage Shows:
Defending the Caveman
Penn & Teller Show
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Museums that left me with indelible impression:
Newseum (“To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.” Frederick Douglas, American orator)
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (“This Museum is not an answer. It is a question.” Elie Wiesel, writer)
9/11 Memorial & Museum
Museum of Contemporary Native Arts
Georgia O’Keefee Museum in Santa Fe (Such a unique voice! I never forget the first time I saw her work with large flowers and cow’s skull.)
Lastly, I want to share one more story titled Power of Practice before saying "till next year.”
Bai Juyi, a poet of the Tang dynasty, asked,
“How should I practice?”
Zen master Dorin answered,
“Avoid evil and do good.”
“Any three-year-old child knows that.”
The Zen master said,
“Any three-year-old child may know it.
But even a 100-year-old person
finds it difficult to practice.”
That's it folks.
Thanks for reading. Here's wishing you a happy year of the Earth Pig!
With warmest regards,
(510) 914-7596 (Call/Text)
550 N. San Pedro Rd.
San Rafael, CA 94903 USA