Posted by: patenttranslator | August 28, 2011

Hurricanes and Translation Deadlines

Every time when a major hurricane hits Eastern Virginia, which is about every couple of years, I am working on a tight deadline, usually on several jobs. I remember that I lost seventeen hundred dollars because of a hurricane a few years ago. I was working on a rush translation of a Japanese patent but I could not finish it because I lost power. I had to call the law firm and cancel the project.

This year I had 3 German patents and 1 Japanese patent with reasonable deadlines on my desk when hurricane Irene was setting in motion an enormous amount of water from Chesapeake Bay toward my backyard, but those deadline would be reasonable only assuming that the power would not go out. Unfortunately, we sometime do lose power during a hurricane. We have to have flashlights and candles ready, there is no WiFi and thus no Internet. We sit in the kitchen with candles burning and listen to the grim report on the radio. TV stations broadcast also an FM here during a hurricane so that people who have no power could listen to them on the radio.

After hurricane Isabelle in 2003, we had no power for 4 days, and it was really hot with no air conditioning when the temperatures were around 85 degrees (about 30 degrees Celsius) in the afternoon. The aftermath of a hurricane can be actually a very interesting experience when neighbors throw traditional post-hurricane parties as all the food that is in refrigerators must be eaten right away before it is spoiled. After Isabelle, we were barbecuing meat and sausages in my backyard (the one that is partially visible in the picture) and drinking beer and wine while newcomers like me were listening to old timers’ stories about deadly hurricanes. I remember how one of my neighbors who used to be in the Coast Guard was sitting there and eating a hamburger, drinking a beer and describing in great detail the dead bodies that he had to fish out from Elisabeth River in Norfolk after a hurricane.

Fortunately, as I did not lose power this year, I was able to work all day while Irene (which means “peace” in ancient Greek) was pounding Chesapeake yesterday with torrents of rain and wind gusts. I kept working because I was not sure for how long I would be able to use my computer and Internet. The street in front of my house slowly turned into a river towards the evening. The small pond behind my house became a huge lake as it kept absorbing huge amounts of water from Elisabeth River and from the Chesapeake Bay. Every thirty minutes or so I checked to see how far the water was from the utilities box of the local power company. The water level was only a few inches away from the utilities box during the high tide in the evening, but then the waters started receding and when I woke up in the morning, there was no trace of yesterday’s hurricane anywhere, at least nothing was visible from my backyard.

I know that everything is back to normal again when sprinklers start showering the soggy lawns of my neighbors with a completely useless deluge of water. The sprinklers are on a timer and it’s too much trouble to turn them off just because some hurricane, which killed seven people yesterday in North Carolina and Virginia, almost flooded your house.

I know everything is back to normal again when my fellow Americans are needlessly wasting precious resources of the planet again and thus contributing to global climate change because they are not paying attention.

Everything is back to normal again in my backyard


  1. Americans have the lame belief or assumption that the luxury in which we live is the norm. They do not understand the meaning or significance of waste and/or need. As I throw out my “recyclables,” I constantly wonder, “If I, as careful as I am, still throw out this much, how will the planet ever survive?” As they continue to spray poison on weeds between their sidewalk tiles, Americans refuse to understand the wonder of the “world” they have been given.

    Ricky Lacina (Ms)


  2. Any way you look at it, most Americans don’t live in luxury.

    But I agree, there is something profoundly wrong with our value system, which is why I ended my post with the metaphor of sprinklers wasting fountains of precious water after a hurricane.


  3. Glad you and your family are safe and you managed to keep working through the hurricane, Steve.


  4. Thank you, Jill.

    Onward and upward!


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