Feb 292012
The measure of things

The headline caught my eye back in September, and I knew it was a subject that I had to write about for Gydle. I stashed it in my “writing ideas” bookmark folder and there it sat, waiting. Last week, an article appeared in the local paper, reminding me. And then yesterday it hit – today, February 29, is the perfect day to write about this. Did you know that the kilogram is losing weight? So you, therefore, are gaining weight? But, you say, a kilogram isn’t a thing, it’s a measurement unit! You’re right, it’s one of the SI units, which together make up the solid mathematical foundation upon which all science is done.  When you study science, you study units. Rule #1: make sure the units balance out. (Well, if you’re an American, it’s more like First, stop thinking in feet and ounces. Then make sure the units balance click here to read the whole dang post […]

Feb 262012
Open up

A couple of years ago, a co-founder of an EPFL start-up came to me for help. Their html5 video player had just gotten fantastic reviews on gizmodo, and they wanted to make sure the English on their website was good. I suggested a few corrections, he asked me how much they owed me, and I said it was on the house. I thought their product was great, their enthusiasm was palpable, and I knew they probably didn’t have much money. He was very appreciative. A few weeks ago, I translated an EPFL press release about another start-up. I visited the company’s website to check some details, and noticed that it had some serious problems. I wrote the two young co-founders an e-mail, telling them that I would be willing to help them polish the English on their website. I didn’t mention money explicitly, but I hinted that I was prepared to click here to read the whole dang post […]

Feb 212012

I’m sure at some point in your life – even if only as a teenager under the influence – you’ve asked yourself this deep, philosophical question: How do I know that what I’m experiencing is real? The answer? You can’t. What you see as reality is unique to you, because it’s a complex interaction between the physical world, your senses and your brain. As proof, here’s a little snippet from my reality: It’s Tuesday. We’re on the top part of this week’s circle, heading counterclockwise in the direction of Wednesday. We’ve come out of Monday’s black zone successfully, and because Tuesday is red, I’m pretty energized. It’s February, which is my favorite color (green), so all is well. We’re heading clockwise towards March, which is mauve and located at roughy 8 o’clock on the circle of 2012. I think a bit more about the word I described in my last click here to read the whole dang post […]

Feb 162012
Translation and transition

There it was this morning, on the front page. Un jury unanime plébiscite le nouveau stade de Lausanne. Lausanne is going to get a new stadium with an Olympic-size swimming pool. I’m happy about this, because I like to swim laps. I love doing flip-turns at the end of the lane, stretching out for that long glide off the wall. I love the baby-blue of pool water and the crisscrossing, wavy lines of light that form on the bottom. I love doing breast stroke and watching the bubbles form at the tips of my fingers as I carve out the water in front of me. But I digress. What really caught my attention was the word plébiscite. No matter how many times I see it, I still do a double-take. Is it just me, or is there something icky about this word? Plébiscite. Usually when I read in French I click here to read the whole dang post […]

Feb 152012
Did you read the manual?

After a discussion about books and publishing at the monthly meeting of my writing group, my friend, fellow writer and book designer extraordinaire Sue Niewiarowski forwarded this video to the group. It captures the whole issue I wrote about last week  much better than I did. Hilarious! I do believe we will evolve into the world of new media. Related posts: The life of the book Al Gore and subtitle fatigue A moment in the sun Typical Yawn

Feb 122012

Last question,  said the moderator, scanning the room. I’d been ruminating on something said in an earlier workshop at the writer’s conference I was attending. An agent, one of two who had come to help all us clueless writers try to figure out the labyrinthine process of getting a book into print, had responded to a question about contracts with a sentence that included the curious phrase “the life of the book.” The life of the book. This resonated. A book is a living thing. Like a baby, the idea is planted, it gestates, you work and work and work, and then one day it is born into the world. Yes, I thought, it’s more than just a a physical thing, or even an electronic thing – it’s a living thing. It’s the distilled energy, hope, effort, blood, sweat and tears of its creator, offered up in human communion. It’s click here to read the whole dang post […]

Feb 072012
Moment of beauty III

This is a photo from the UN flickr site, showing the lake this past weekend near Geneva. It has been bitter cold and windy, and that makes the ice do weird things as it sprays up onto the shore. More images of frozen cars, trees and benches like this one can be seen at 9gag, just type “Lake Geneva” in the search window. I’ll take this opportunity to pass along a few more links: If you’re suffering through Superbowl withdrawal, here are a few tips from a real doctor on how to cope. I know you’ve been putting off that colonoscopy. Shame on you. This release about using space technology to zap kidney stones has been nominated for Terrible Title of the Year. World-renowned itch expert Gil Yosipovitch tells us why it feels better to scratch itches in some places than in others. Is this a case of reality driving click here to read the whole dang post […]