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My brain yesterday:

"May they burn eternally for their cruelty, and may the retribution they face be so overwhelming that they need lead-lined cenotaphs."

My brain today:

"You know what would have been hilariously awesome? Kermit the Frog as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car on Top Gear."
bktheirregular: (Default)
...I'm flying to Baltimore in less than 48 hours.

I wonder if I'll recognize the America I was born in?
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Yeah, yeah, Valentine's Day. Isn't it romantic? Look at all the promotions! Buy cards! Buy flowers! Buy conflict diamonds to show your significant other you care! (And if you don't have a significant other, then why are you breathing air that can be used by people who can give us lots of money?)

Yeah, I'm not exactly a fan.

Granted, these days, my objections are less personal in nature.
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Good riddance to 2016, and any hopes that 2017 will be a good one are of the forlorn variety.

Still, came back home, saw family, saw loved ones (though a fever messed with my plans). Flying back from New York to Athens via London tonight.

Be excellent to one another, everyone, okay?

Progress?

Dec. 9th, 2016 03:09 pm
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I can now read a news feed for four to five minutes before I hit a point where I want to punch a hole in a wall or collapse somebody's skull.

That's an improvement.

It's gonna be a long two to four years.
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At the moment, I am Not Dealing with the results. I'm trying to keep myself sane, and if I'm honest, a bit distracted.

My colleagues here in Greece are divided between wondering how the hell it could have happened and reassuring me that this too shall pass.

I'm not worried for myself, but I am worried for many friends whose lives are likely to take a dramatic turn for the worse.
bktheirregular: (Stewart)
I saw the news yesterday, but somehow it didn't register with me just how bad the massacre was.

I'm in between tasks, looking at the headlines on my phone, watching people try to turn it to their advantage, pour gasoline on the fires of hatred, and I don't know whether I want to scream or go home and crawl under the bed.

What the hell will I be coming home to?

I mean, there is an entire segment of the power structure of the country that dismisses an entire segment of the population as "other", lesser, unworthy of equal protection under the law, and then when that "other" gets attacked for it ... whip up fear against another "other"?

I don't know what to think. I'm pretty sure nobody else knows what to think. I do know that you can't say "don't politicize" because it's already too damn late for that, and you can't say "it's too soon" because for about a hundred people in Orlando, it's already too late.

I did say I was incoherent, didn't I?

And when I'm asked to explain to the locals here what the hell happened, I don't have any answers. Nothing that'll make sense, anyway.

Under the bed it is.
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I've gradually come to realize that there is something I look for in a candidate for an office, or more precisely, something that will disqualify a candidate seeking an office from getting my vote, no matter what his or her positions are.

Cruelty.

If you're cruel to others, and you look to me for support, you're looking in the wrong direction. For those who see cruelty as a virtue? Forget it.

I reserve the right to be subjective on this point.

I'm fairly certain it will influence how I vote in November, though it left me in a bit of a quandry as to how to vote in the New York primary - something I didn't realize I had a voice in as an absentee voter. Thankfully, there was a way for me to express my opinion that both remaining candidates in the Democratic primaries deserved to be heard: one can vote for delegates individually. Twelve delegates were on the ballot: six women, six men, six pledged to Bernie Sanders, six pledged to Hillary Clinton. (Each had three men and three women pledged.)

When I looked at others' attempts to blatantly restrict the rights of women, I figured that women needed a stronger voice, so I marked down all six women as my choices for delegates.

My ballot is currently in a mailbox at the Hellenic Post office on the corner of Karneadou and Ploutarchou streets in Athens.

Pardon my rambling.
bktheirregular: (V-Day)
I still don't like Valentine's Day, but these days, it's more a matter of principle than a visceral reaction. The marketing thing is more subtle in Greece, but it's still present (diminished by the ongoing economic crisis, of course; asking people who are worrying about whether their home budgets will be balanced to splurge on roses or diamonds or such is a hard sell).

Is the V-Day marketing blitz back in the States as bad now as it was ten years ago?
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Today's headache is brought to you by the letters O, T, and E.

I don't know what that particular three-letter acronym would mean in English, but in Greece, OTE means «Οργανισμός Τηλεπικοινωνιών Ελλάδος», "Organismos Tilepikinonion Ellados", or "Hellenic Telecommunications Organization".

And they sometimes behave like AT&T in the bad old days.

Got a call from them yesterday (Tuesday the 9th), notifying me that they were doing infrastructure upgrades to their networks, and as part of it, I could upgrade my DSL line without any increase in my phone bill. After assurances that there wouldn't be any problems with equipment during the switchover, I finally decided to agree to it. They tell me that they'll be delivering a new VDSL modem-router, free of charge, on Friday the 12th.

Wednesday the 10th (which is today) rolls around, and when I go to check my work e-mail before heading out the door to schlep to the office, suddenly I can't connect to the office Gmail system. I check a couple of other sites and notice that they're not connecting either; I check my router stats page and find there's no connection; I reset the router, still no connection; I pick up my landline phone and there's no dialtone.

I grab my cell phone, call OTE Customer Service, and find out that the reason my phone line went down is that they're doing the switchover to VDSL today. As in two days before they send me the equipment to handle the switchover. I'm late for work by the time I get that answer, so I've got to hoof it over to the office and get to work.

Two calls to OTE Customer Service later (the next attempt transferred me to limbo), I'm told by a technician that no, an ADSL modem-router can't understand a VDSL signal, so what they're going to do is give me ten gigabytes of cell phone data free of charge, so I can tether anything to my phone until the new modem comes. I ask if maybe I can just go to an OTE office or storefront or something and pick up a modem from them, instead of being stuck until delivery, and the tech hems and haws and finally says he can't guarantee anything, because he wouldn't know what any store would have in stock.

Fine. I break early for lunch and head to the OTE storefront/office at Syntagma Square (which, contrary to public perception, is actually quite calm these days; the marble steps in front of the hotels have a year and a half or so of weathering on them, which didn't happen when they were being smashed regularly). I go and ask if I can pick up a new VDSL modem-router from them instead of being stuck in limbo. The answer: they're on different systems, and can't interact between the store and the courier system.

In other words, SOL.

Is it me, or would it have made sense for the phone company to have checked to make sure the equipment was in place before switching over the line?

Bleah.
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It's too late in Athens, but hopefully not in Chicago, to say happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] neonhummingbird!
bktheirregular: (Default)
Things in Athens are calmer than in years past. The economy's still in trouble, things are still a mess if one looks at the books, but it's not all spilling out into the streets like it was a few years ago. There are still protest gatherings every now and then, but it's not a several-times-a-week thing, and the feel of the gatherings has apparently transformed from "don't ignore us!" to "don't forget us!"

If that makes any sense.

My half-informed suspicion is that the crowds have accepted that their arguments, concerns, and fears aren't being ignored at the government level, but are being brought up the line when the Greek representatives in the international communities have to negotiate with other nations. That can have a calming influence.

One visible sign of the change: a few years back, the steps in front of the hotels at Syntagma Square were constantly being smashed, marble being shattered to be used as ammunition to throw at riot police. There was a period of over a year where those steps had only two stages of being: smashed, or repairs in progress.

Throughout 2015, the steps remained intact. In fact, they're showing signs of staining from the weather.

Personal life keeps chugging along, but on balance, it's better than it's been in years. Work goes crazy at times, and at other times it goes stupid, but that's probably true anywhere.

Saw the new Star Wars, sadly not before being spoiled for the big shock of the movie by a self-centered troll, and was relieved when I could finally talk about it. Got a bunch of spoilery thoughts about it, but I'll save those for another post.

Winter, or what passes for it here, has arrived, and a lot of people are suffering due to the cold, while I'm in that weird state where the temperature's too warm for my winter coat when I go to work, but I sort of need the winter coat to go home. I guess I've got a bit more antifreeze in my blood than most of the people around here. Got used to New York winters. However, I'm a little bummed that I missed out on snow when I went back to the US over Christmas and New Year's.

More as it happens ... eventually.
bktheirregular: (Default)
In the embarkation lounge at Athens airport, waiting for my flight to be called. Athens to London, then two hours at Heathrow, then on to New York and other points Stateside.

It'll be good to be home again.

In the meanwhile, be excellent to each other, okay?
bktheirregular: (Default)
Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] wiliqueen!

In other news ... things have been rather calm, I guess. I've been routinely walking down to Syntagma Square to get lunch, and it occurred to me the other day to check out the marble steps in front of the hotels on the northwest side of the square. When I first moved here, protesters would routinely smash up those steps and throw the fragments at police, and stonemasons would have steady work repairing them, only to see them smashed to bits in the next major protest.

Now? Those steps are not just intact, they're starting to get weather-stained. They've been intact for a couple of years now, at least.
bktheirregular: (Default)
So life's been kind of busy, the way life sometimes gets. I think I lost half of August and most of September on crunch tasks - I've become something of an anti-fan (is that a concept?) of nebulous deadlines, because they have a tendency to become concrete deadlines without warning, and uncomfortably tight deadlines at that.

Sometimes there are consequences. Sometimes a failure to do a task in a particular timeframe might result in a deal falling through, or someone going bankrupt, or someone going to prison. But sometimes the consequence is simply a client getting upset. And mixed in with that are the questions of what one is willing to sacrifice to get the job done by the deadline - sometimes I've got to tell people, essentially, "I think I can get this done by your deadline, but it's not going to be my best work, and I won't have time to double-check it."

Sometimes, I've got to be fast. Sometimes, I've got the time to check my work and make sure it's right. (I prefer the latter.) And sometimes I've got to bounce back to the person asking me to do a task and tell them that it's a couple of steps beyond insane. (Translate a 172-page law that just came out of Parliament? All of it? By when?)

I've fallen behind on fannish stuff, I know. I paid for the season pass for Agents of SHIELD, but I'm already a week behind and it's only two weeks into the season. I did get a chance to see The Martian, though - I strongly recommend it. Great adaptation of a great book.

Summer's finally over here in Athens - this past weekend we had thunderstorms. It makes life interesting, particularly because my apartment and my office are both on the low end of a significant hill, and Athens doesn't have a very good storm drain system.
bktheirregular: (Stewart)
The day was starting out so well. My folks arrived Monday from New York, they had a nice couple of days enjoying my hospitality, and I saw them off to catch a boat to the islands. I went to work, started to get things organized, and then my office-mate asked for help with something.

In retrospect, that's the point where I should have run for the mountains surrounding the city.

First, he sent me two documents, one old in Greek and English, one new in English, telling me that the new document had to be completed by the end of today. I started to look over the new English document, finding problems all over the place in the English, and then realized ... the last Greek version I had didn't correspond to the latest English version at all. Meanwhile, I was being asked how much of the thing I could do by the end of the day - I decided to be conservative and say that I could probably handle about half of it (it's a long one, at 28 pages).

Except what he hadn't told me at the outset was that it didn't need to be edited; it needed to be translated. Into Greek. By the end of the day. All 28 pages.

Oh, and if I wanted to yell, I should go yell at the guy who'd given *him* the task.

So up I went, and when the guy who'd given out the task asked me if I had any questions about it, I decided to cut right to the point: "What happens if this thing isn't done by the end of today?"

The answer was that the client wouldn't be happy, that they wanted to sign this agreement tomorrow morning, but that it wouldn't be a disaster, but maybe a bunch of us could split up the task?

I took on a big chunk of it. With luck it'll be done by the end of the day, although the English copy is atrocious, and the old Greek copy isn't that great, either. My office-mate got thrown a piece of it, and he was complaining that the English was the worst he'd ever seen.

I think there's a growing consensus that the first step of translating this agreement into Greek should have been to translate it into English from whatever it was written in ... but I'm the only one who'd be qualified to do that, and I've already got too much on my plate.

I think this task might get done today. Assuming I work late. Assuming no more surprises.

The latter's not a safe assumption.
bktheirregular: (Default)
My plan for today: breakfast in Athens, lunch in London, dinner in New York.

Yeah, it's a travel day. Eight days in New York, not counting today. First leg of the journey is scheduled to take off in an hour and a quarter.

It'll get me to New York sometime around ten in the evening, but the 1:30 departure meant a full night's sleep last night, and no groggy panic getting ready for the 11:00 cab.

Signing off for now. Everyone be excellent to one another, okay?
bktheirregular: (Default)
Good thing I saw the little number "1" in the LJ inbox.

Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] neonhummingbird!
bktheirregular: (Default)
Gotta unload a bit about work.

Last week I got thrown a translation task - someone was entering into a lease agreement, our client wanted the draft contract in English, the counterparty drafted a contract in Greek. Translation of the contract - thirty-plus pages - fell to me. I asked when the client needed it done, and was told basically "take your time" - which was a good thing because I kept getting thrown other high-priority tasks in the meantime.

Until today.

I'm maybe halfway through the job when I get the call: "when do you think it'll be done?" I grind away for a bit and give my estimate: Monday or Tuesday, assuming I bring it home with me tonight, tomorrow night, and over the weekend.

"We'll divide the task up, then. The client wants it tomorrow."

Y'know, when I ask for a deadline for a task, I'm not making idle conversation. I need to know how to budget my time, how to prioritize various incoming tasks, and how to balance speed versus accuracy in my work - which is always a tradeoff.

Not to mention:

I hate rambling sentences that don't seem to follow grammatical rules.

I hate running into a single sentence that runs for a page and a half and turns out to be just a long list with no clear division between items.

I hate when the original I'm translating from apparently hasn't even been proofread. Even if I can dope out what they mean, laziness on their part converts to stress on my part.

I'm at the point where I seriously want to find the person ultimately responsible for turning my working day into an emergency, grab my heaviest dictionary, and turn their skull concave.

Grr.

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