Methinks: Politicians, Part II

July 6th, 2013

I never know with the Americans; do they even realise how wonderfully cynical they are? The current USA ambassador to Slovenia, His Excellency Joseph Adamo Mussomeli, who has earned quite a reputation for frequently voicing his opinion of our bickerings, recently said something like ”In the USA, politicians pretend to hate each other, but your politicians hate each other for real”.

(You gotta love this guy. He’s outspoken to the point of being brave, brilliant, with a great sense of humour. He succeeded in ticking off more people than all other ambassadors to Slovenia present and past combined. One of the few things about him that sort of fits what I’d expect from a diplomat is his undeniable charm and his skill at wooing the press – though he assures us that the media are always going for his throat.) Read the rest of this entry »

Methinks: Politicians, Part I

June 15th, 2013

Our former prime minister made it to the front page of Wikipedia recently, even if for all the wrong reasons:

 

Janez Jansa in international news

A flattering picture btw. Read the rest of this entry »

Guess the Machine

February 19th, 2013

The machine converts various plant materials into semi-dry pellets. It’s self-propelled, runs on eco fuel exclusively and it is easy to activate by placing raw material anywhere within its reach and wait for the impressive array of sensors to point it the right way. The input material is taken up at the front end, broken down into smaller bits and finely ground. The machine then proceeds to process the resulting pulp by extracting fluids and compressing the remaining material into pellets which are ejected from its rear end.

The pellets are of two types: the hard pellet that is considered the final product and as such ignored by the machine, and the soft pellet that is picked up by the machine almost instantly and dutifully recycled. The previously-extracted fluid is excreted at the rear too, usually at the lowest point of the plane accessible to the machine, and if it happens to be a soft surface you’re either standing or sitting upon, the fluid will be deposited right where your foot or your butt, respectively, is parked. Read the rest of this entry »

Regardless of what your mother said, you most definitely are Slovenian if

December 18th, 2012

Your whole attitude to life could be summed up by ‘You can do whatever you want with me but you’d better not interfere with my driving!’ – that having been said, here are some sure giveaways as to your Slovenian roots:

– Your car is worth as much as your house or more; if you’re renting, your monthly car payment exceeds your rent.

– If you see an expensive car following the traffic rules, you consider it a waste of a fine vehicle and start fantasizing about all the rubber you’d be burning if you could afford a car like that.

– If you see an expensive car breaking the traffic rules you consider it proof that all rich people are inconsiderate thieving bastards who think they can get away with anything and could sure use a good whipping. Read the rest of this entry »

Tell-tale signs you might be Slovenian, Part II

December 15th, 2012

– You would never consider moving in order to land a better job.

– You will, however, backpack, hitchhike, climb, crawl and paddle your way from the Arctic to Antarctica and back just for fun.

– When abroad, you can never avoid running into your fellow nationals no matter how secluded your destination may be because they’re everywhere.

– Each time you encounter your fellow countrymen anywhere outside of your national borders you pretend to be glad to see them but in reality you consider your trip a failure and swear to seek out an even remoter place next time.

– You go to the Croatian coast each summer despite knowing it has one of the highest numbers of your fellow nationals per square foot on record and then complain under your breath about everybody around you speaking your language and feel like somebody robbed you of your holiday experience.

– You don’t necessarily go out of your way to make people from other former Yugoslav republics feel particularly welcome in your country but if you happen upon them abroad you couldn’t be happier and you’ll get drunk together and reminisce about the good old Yugoslavia until you jointly pass out under the table. Read the rest of this entry »

Tell-tale signs you might be Slovenian, Part I

December 12th, 2012

You might be Slovenian if:

– You own a car, a house and some land and you’re always complaining about being underprivileged.

– Whenever somebody visits you apologise profusely for your house being such a mess despites the fact the whole place is next to sterile with no clutter in sight.

– No matter how broke you claim to be you seem to have little problem finding money for high-end sports equipment.

– You claim to have no money while going out for drinks every night and taking seaside vacations and ski trips several times a year.

– You believe a deep tan is a sign of health and athleticism and feel obligated to drop hints to this effect around fair-skinned individuals.

– You believe your politicians must be some sort of an experiment gone wrong and are under no circumstances to be considered a reflection of your national character. Read the rest of this entry »

Lifestyle decisions I

November 8th, 2012

Doctor: You need to quit smoking, drinking and eating junk immediately.

Patient: Nah, it’s too late for me anyway.

Doctor: Don’t say that, it’s never too late!

Patient: Well I guess I’ll just wait a while longer then.

I still think this joke is funny. But… When somebody close to you falls ill, nah, when enough people around you have developed chronic diseases to shatter your comfortable denial of the fact everyone’s arse -yours included – isn’t getting any younger, it’s time for some introspection and life-changing plans. I’ve been relying on my robust genetics and love of movement to keep me healthy and presentable for decades and I guess it would be wise to add healthy nutrition to the mix. I’m a vegetarian with an inclination towards occasional forays into the pescarian (=fish-eating) domain. My dad taught me how to fish when I was little and this is probably why I still consider fish fair game but it’s not something I’m particularly proud of. I’ve been helping take care of my mum’s koi and I’m finding this whole fisher-gatherer attitude increasingly difficult to pull off. It’s complicated :) Read the rest of this entry »

Word order matters: An oddly appropriate Halloween post

October 31st, 2012

Earlier today when I was getting my daily fix of online tabloids doing my vocabulary-building exercises I became fascinated by the following heading:

 

Two-year-old daughter of one of Britain’s richest men found hanged on a blind cord by her mother at their 12 million London home.

 

I imagine it didn’t take long before they heard from the grieving mother’s lawyer. The last time I checked the heading read:

 

Three-year-old daughter of one of Britain’s richest men is found by her mother hanged on a blind cord at their 12m home.

 

Oh well… Sometimes I wonder if the English language might benefit from reintroducing some of the declensions it used to have. In the meantime, a couple of strategically placed commas could help resolve the delicate matter of who did the finding and who did the hanging nicely.

 

But seriously, it’s safe to say the parents have enough on their plate without the added aggravation from hastily-composed tabloid headlines.

Things I didn’t know were possible until I had them happen to me

October 13th, 2012

Bread cuts. I picked up half a loaf of day-old bread only to find myself shrieking like a surprised marmot upon feeling the crust deliver a ¼ inch gash between my thumb and index finger. I didn’t expect a half-eaten bun to fight back with such fervour and I’m not quite sure that’s proper behaviour for supermarket-bought food. I wonder what they’ve been putting into flour these days. Anyway, the idea of bread cutting me sounds like a Yakov Smirnoff joke.

Ancient rituals practiced by translators

February 2nd, 2011

(This story was inspired by something funny I witnessed the other day.)

 

Never ask a translator what a certain word means when you’re in a hurry. Just look it up in a dictionary and save yourself a lot of grief. Because a translator will never give you the answer straight away. Oh no.

 

You see, translation is the second oldest profession known to humanity, so perhaps unsurprisingly some rather elaborate traditions have evolved over the millennia and they are duly followed by translators to this day. If you for example ask your translator what any word means she’s obligated to perform The Barrage, a much-feared and little-understood ancient ritual. What will happen is this.

 

First, your translator will blurt out an intimidating number of possible meanings and translations in rapid succession & random order. Your heart will start sinking at this point. But it’ll be too late for fears and regrets…

 

When she finally gathers her composure and stops hyperventilating, she’ll mercilessly interrogate you about the context, the intended audience and whatnot. Without fail. Go ahead and try it if you don’t believe me. If she’s any good she’ll flood you with questions until you’re swimming for your life, vulnerable and unable to gather the strength to resist this already second unexpected assault from the otherwise probably quite gentle, mild-mannered, perhaps even a bit shy creature. Your desperate attempts to provide her with the context she demands might leave you divulging confidential information. Luckily she’s a pro and knows how to handle delicate stuff.

 

Then she *might* even tell you the translation you need but that won’t stop her from embarking on a lengthy monologue that’ll lovingly explore each possible nuance of every single translation she mentioned in her initial outburst, coming up with many others as she goes on and on and on. She’s sure to explain all those linguistic subtleties only translators are willing to discern or care about. No escape here.

 

(It’s your fault really. You should have known better than to awake The Translator. You see, translators do know a lot about words. And combinations thereof. If you give them the right cue they’ll surely show you just how much they know.)

 

Your muttered pleas and objections having to do with you *not actually needing to hear all that right now, your migraine acting up or your ears starting to bleed* will be ignored throughout the ordeal.

 

In the end you’ll be left standing there, quivering with exhaustion, quietly swearing never to unleash The Translator again and – perhaps for the first time – fully appreciating the true value of a good dictionary.

 

And then your translator will inevitably ask if there’s anything else you’re curious about. Shake your head quietly, do not make eye contact, walk away slowly. Do not ask anything. Failing to do so will result in The Barrage being performed all over again, this time with cross-references to your previous question.