Automobiles are a passing phenomenon. I believe in horses. Kaiser Wilhelm II, 1905.

It’s hard to predict the future when you live in the present and all you know is the past.

It’s so easy for us to laugh at Kaiser Wilhelm II now that two centuries later, 1.3 billion vehicles are driven on the roads and highways of this planet, some 64 million among them in Germany alone where the automobile is loved as a symbol of freedom at least as much as it is in the United States.

Yogi Berra said it best: “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

I don’t believe in horses when it comes to their usefulness to humans in the future. I admire these magnificent animals, but like everybody else, I know that after a few thousand years of faithful service to us, humans, they are now mostly good just for horse racing, historical films and corsage.

I believe in technology, partly because most of my working life of some four decades I have been making a pretty decent living by translating patents and documents about different technical subjects from various languages.

But technology is a double-edged sword. Our smart phones are now so smart that unless we make a lot of effort to prevent the government and greedy corporations from illegally spying on all of us all of the time, the people who have access to all kinds of data about us can easily find out anything and everything about us, including what kinds of thoughts are going through our heads and then use it against us.

It was Cardinal Richelieu who said almost three centuries ago: ” Qu’on me donne six lignes écrites de la main du plus honnête homme, j’y trouverai de quoi le faire pendre.” [If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.] How he would love to run a government and have access to thousands of lines written by each and every of man and women!

The “translation industry” has been trying for at least the last two decades to turn translators into nothing more human apps that can be installed, activated and deinstalled as needed. And to some extent, the industry has succeeded in doing just that because instead of fighting back, translators meekly accepted the new conditions that the “translation industry” created for the human apps by the impersonal and greedy design of the machinery created by the industry to maximize its profit.

I don’t think that the industry makes much of a distinction between an algorithm used by a computer program and a human translator. After all, both are just profit units.

In East Germany, the communist government was able to spy only on about every 18th person with the primitive technology available at the time, although it was much better technology than what Cardinal Richelieu was using in the 18th century. In the  countries of the modern world as it is set up now, everybody can be spied on with the help of modern technology all the time and there does not seem to be much that anyone can do about it, except to try to minimize the damage to ourselves by being aware of what is going on.

And even if we try to do that, it will be an uphill struggle.

Most people are probably not even aware of what happened to privacy anymore, or they simply gave up trying to reclaim their privacy and their rights as independent and free individuals.

There is no independence and there is no freedom without privacy.   

Here is another quote from Yogi Berra

            “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

The future does not look too good for translators, especially if they work for the “translation industry”. It is likely that in many respects, it will probably be worse than the past.

Technological progress has the power to liberate us, or to enslave us.

I believe in technological progress rather than in horses, but I think it will be more and more difficult for translators to make a decent living the way I and people my age who were translating for a living were able to do that for many decades.

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to work anymore, because I have found a formula to live quite comfortably off my savings and retirement income without having to worry about where the next job is going to come from and how to make ends meet if there are no jobs in the pipeline.

Regardless of what age you are, but especially if you are not that young anymore, you should probably find your own strategy and your own formula to achieve the same goal, or at least start working on it in the year 2019.

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Posted by: patenttranslator | December 29, 2018

How to Train a Translator Like a Dog

The perfect dictatorship would have the appearance of a democracy, but would basically be a prison without walls in which the prisoners would not even dream of escaping.   Aldous Huxley

Those of us who have or at some point in time used to have a dog know that every dog needs to be trained. It’s best to start training them when they are still puppies, otherwise, it may be too late to do much about how they behave because, as the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Over the years, we had seven dogs in more than thirty years, not counting Cherrie-chan that we had when we lived in Japan, all of which my wife, who by now has been actually my ex-wife for seven months, got from the pound in San Francisco. Fortunately, they were all house trained, and the problems they had, like being aggressive and chewing furniture, which is how they ended up at the San Francisco dog pound, stemmed from the fact that the humans who owned them did not love them, or at least not enough to make a connection with the dog’s heart.

You can train even an old dog new tricks, but first you have to make a meaningful connection with the noble animal.

Lucy, a scary looking expert at love bombing.

The biggest problem with puppies is of course that you have to train them not to go to bathroom inside the house, generally by rubbing their nose in the mess they made in the room before they get the concept of what being housebroken means to a dog. They eventually all get the concept that this is a major no-no. Other problems with dogs, such as when they are too noisy and keep barking too much, or aggressive to other dogs or even people, must also be dealt with sometimes, but humans are generally more forgiving when it comes to these personal canine characteristics.

Dogs are masters at making sure that we allow them to behave more or less the way they themselves want to comport themselves rather than what we want from them by using various incredibly sly canine methods, including a tactic also known as “love bombing”.

We are exposed to canine “love bombing”, which is different from human “love bombing”, used both by men and women, but mostly and generally much more effectively by women, when the dog acts oh-so-very-happy when we come back home after having been gone even for only a few minutes, and starts doing things like wagging the tail, jumping around, or even jumping at us and licking our face. It’s a very, very effective tactic, and every dog knows that the tactic can be used to train humans by melting their hearts so that as a result, their humans will become obedient and mindful of perfectly legitimate canine wants and needs.

Just like dogs, translators can be trained too to behave exactly the way their owners want and need them to behave. Fortunately, virtually all translators are house-broken, but even if they were not, given that they work from remote locations through internet, their owners who run translation agencies in “translation industry” 2.0, would probably not give a shit.

The demands that the owners translators in the “translation industry” have on us also are very different from those of rightful human owners of dogs. And needless to say, unlike with dogs, the best and only true friends of humans, there is no love lost, or pretense of love on either side, either among translators or among their owners in translation agencies, which nowadays prefer to call themselves “LSP”, or Language Service Providers (ha, ha, ha).

Dogs allow us to train them because they know their owners love them. It is much harder for translators to be trained by their owners in the “translation industry” because based on how they are being treated, translators know that their owners despise them.

The tools that “LSPs” need to train their translator-slaves are also very different from tools used by humans who try to train their scary beasts and cute doggies to behave properly.

It should be mentioned that the training of translators by their owners in the “translation industry” as if they were dogs has a relatively short history.

Before approximately Anno Domini 2000, translators were not really considered by their owners to be kind of less than human, partly because prior to the current, corporatized and dehumanized form of the “translation industry”, translation agencies were usually run by former translators who liked the management of translation projects more than translating, partly because they understood what translation is about, although mostly because they knew that there is much more money in management of translation projects than in actual translating.

The modern translation agency owners, who Jesus would probably call money changers, are almost always completely monolingual, don’t really know anything about translation, they could not translate anything if their life depended on it … and they are proud about it.

They are just salesmen who would be just as happy selling cigars, or refrigerators, or cars instead of selling translations if they could make more money doing that. But there is good money to be made in translation, you can sell it without knowing much about it, and unlike in most other enterprises, you don’t really need much of a capital to start your translation business.

One of the first tools that the translator owners in the “translation industry” used to train their translators to show them how worthless they are were new  “NDAs” or “Non-Disclosure Agreements” that started being used to beat obedience into translators by the industry around the year 2,000.

These new “NDAs” were very long, unfair and extremely demeaning to translators, as I wrote in several posts on this blog, such as How the So-Called Translation Industry Turned “Confidentiality Agreements” into Declarations of Acceptance of Servitude, or One Possible Strategy for Dealing with Unfair and Demeaning “Non-Disclosure Agreements” Pushed Recently by Some Translation Agencies.

Many of the clauses in these agreements were illegal, but translators were too scared not to sign them because they needed translation work, even if generally poorly paid, so instead of protesting or finding their own customers, they just shut up and signed.

Approximately at the same time, the agencies, especially the big ones, started lowering the rates that they were paying for translating. This was made easier by the fact that many new translators living in countries with a much lower labor costs than for instance in Western Europe or North America entered the competitive field of supplying cheap translations from third world countries.

The latest innovation in this trend to outsource labor overseas, imitating the trends of large corporations in other industries, is the development of so -called back offices in other countries where labor is very cheap, which in turn may be working as subcontractors for other back offices located in yet other countries where labor is even cheaper.

Agreements to work for their bosses anonymously, the customers can’t tell from which country or continent a translation that they think originates in United States, France, or England really came.

While the prices of translation charged to the customers did not really change that much, the rates paid for the translations to far-flung, inexperienced newbie translators were slashed to the bone, which worked very well for the bottom line of the “translation industry”.

The rates paid to translators were further reduced by the invention of wage theft enabling programs such as Trados, which can be used to remove from the word count translated words that translators are not paid for, as I write for instance in There Is Really Nothing Fuzzy About the Logic Or the Concept of Fuzzy Matches or in Is Trados Co-Responsible for the Falling Rates in the Translation Industry?

The “translation industry” is still busy innovating away along these lines, which is to stay trying to come up with new ways to increase its profits by paying translators less and less for their work.

Yet another innovation of the “translation industry” is post-processing of machine translations created by machine translation programs by pitiful human automatons, who are no longer called translators, but go instead by the generic title of “post-processors”.

I have been writing about this latest gold rush concept of the “translation industry” also in many posts on my blog, such as in Post-Processing of Machine Translations, the New Money Maker of “the Translation Industry” or in There Are Many Ways to Commit Suicide, But Post-Processing of Machine Translations Would Be a Horrible Way To Go.

Of course, these automatons, formerly called translators, who are paid next to nothing and usually reside again in countries with very cheap cost of labor, will not catch most of the mistakes because they generally have no qualifications and are paid almost nothing for what would be very hard work – if it was possible to do it well. But since doing something like that well would mean retranslating the whole damn thing by an actual qualified and experienced human translator, this would beat the purpose of the entire exercise since it would be very time-consuming and much too expensive.

Here I do find one interesting similarity between training a puppy to become house-broken and training a lowly post-processor to catch machine translation mistakes. You have to rub the nose of the post-processor in the shit and piss left in the text by the machine translation program, just like you have to rub the nose of puppies in their own shit and piss that they keep leaving on the carpet before becoming house-broken.

But the big difference is that while virtually all puppies eventually figure out that if they wait until they can go outside, their sensitive noses will not be subjected to the horrible smell of their own excrement, human post-processors of the detritus left after pre-processing by machine translation programs will have their noses rubbed in it and will be exposed to the cruel and unusual punishment that is their job until they find a better job or until they die, whichever comes first.

Happy New Year 2019!

Posted by: patenttranslator | December 22, 2018

Christmas in a Foreign Country

So I have been living in this pretty town in Southern Bohemia for almost three months now and it’s already Christmas. I can hardly believe it. Time flies, whether you’re having fun, or not. That’s just what time does … except when we are children and can’t wait to become grownups already.

The last Christmas that I remember in this country was 40 years ago, in 1978, when I still used to come back to my mother’s apartment in Český Krumlov for Christmas. My father was still alive, but he was spending most of the time at our “chalupa” (house in the country), which was just as well.

After eating and talking to my mom, I drank all by myself a bottle of red wine, I think it was Egri Bikavér (Bull’s Blood). After I had finished the bottle all by my lonesome, I started walking the streets to look at lighted Christmas trees decorated with ornaments and little chocolate figurines in the windows of apartments of the families in the festive atmosphere of the town, maybe mostly happy families, probably happy enough if they had small children anxiously waiting for their presents to magically appear under the tree already on Christmas Eve, unlike in America where the children have to wait until the morning of the next day.

Nothing makes us happier than when we can make a child happy.

I remember that I walked off the wine by walking through the town’s streets all the way to the fields and the forest behind the Zámecká Zahrada (Castle’s Garden), although it was late evening already. To my delight and amazement, I then saw many years later some of the streets end even a part of the forest where I had walked that evening 40 Christmases ago in the 2006 movie “The Illusionist” with Ed Norton and Jessica Biel. Except that in the movie, some of the streets and the forest were supposed to be in or near Vienna, not in Prague and in Český Krumlov.

But they can’t fool me!

Yesterday when I was coming back home from the bus stop after taking a look, along with tour groups of Chinese and Korean tourists, at the big Christmas tree and dozens of stands selling coffee and chocolate and punch and all kinds of Christmas goodies on the big square in České Budějovice, a tiny, terminally cute doggie started yapping at me like the hound of Baskerville with a serious case of rabies. I wanted to say to the old lady who was walking the miniature beast “What a cute dog”! But I had to stop and think for a couple of seconds how to say “cute” in Czech. I finally managed to say something and we exchanged a few pleasantries, but I’m still not sure I used the right word.

Thirty seven years is a long time, even for me. Although I was born and grew up here, I live in a foreign country now, at least for the time being. I keep thinking that people probably pick up on a wrong word I say and figure out that I am some kind of damn foreigner. Or maybe they think I already have old age dementia.

Or maybe I do and that’s why I am writing this silly blog? Oh well, who cares.

I will not be alone on Christmas because I will be spending Christmas Eve with my three nieces (well, one of them is a grandniece) and their children. I’m sure they’ll give me something, although I told them not to, and since I have no idea what to give them myself, I’ll just give them some money in an envelope, which is exactly what I have been giving to my children on Christmas for at least the last ten years.

It’s pretty effortless, and I think it works best.

An old girlfriend that I used to be madly in love with for quite a few years keeps calling me from Prague, after I called her and gave her my Czech phone number. But I think it’s basically just idle female curiosity on her part. She even asked me if I still carry the torch for her, I can’t remember now exactly what kind of Czech idiom she used. So I told her that I will never stop loving the girl that I used to know, but that I do not really know the person that she became and is now.

I’m pretty proud of myself, that I was able to come up with this answer, especially since it’s basically true. Her husband of many years died in an accident five years ago. So we are now both free and unattached.

And old.

She keeps calling, about once a week or so, asking me to call her back when and if I feel like it. But the calls are very brief and she does not really want to talk to me, I think, because she always calls when she is about to go to see a movie or a theater play, or when she is driving her car, so that there’s really no time to talk at all.

I called her back once or twice since I don’t really have any friends here, but I am not going to do it again. It’s some sort a weird game that she is playing with me that I don’t really understand and definitely do not like.

I think that what she is doing with me or to me is what many young men on Youtube who don’t like what feminism has done to women nowadays call “shit test”. A “shit test” is when a woman is saying or doing something to a man to test his reaction, like telling him that she already has a boyfriend even if it’s not true, basically to see how he’s going to react and if he’s man enough for her.

Women have been doing stuff like this to me and all males forever, of course. But at this point, I don’t feel like going along with these shit tests. I’m too old for this stuff.

What women usually don’t realize, (because they are so incredibly vain), is that when they get older, they lose the awful power they used to have over men when they were still young and beautiful.

Charles de Gaulle said it best when he said: “Treaties, you see, are like girls and roses; they last while they last.”  

Posted by: patenttranslator | December 19, 2018

Kidney Stones

Two weeks after I moved from United States to Czech Republic at the end of September of this year, I had to take a taxi around midnight to the Emergency at the local hospital because I felt terrible pain somewhere in my … what is called, loins? … I did not have an insurance card yet, although I was assured by phone by an insurance company that I chose to register with that I was already registered with them and my monthly insurance payment would be 1,640 Czech crowns ($73), exactly a half of what I pay for my Medicare insurance in the United States.

I remember that just before the taxi came, I went to my balcony to get some fresh air, and I thought to myself, half seriously, “Good thing I live on eighth floor. If the pain does not stop, I can always jump.”

The pain was really terrible, I could barely walk when I got to the hospital. An orderly put me in a wheelchair, took me to another floor by elevator to have an X-ray taken, and then a young doctor, probably an internist, saw me and diagnosed two smallish kidney stones based on the X-ray. One stone had already passed out from urinary tract to something else (I forgot what he called that part of my body to which it passed, but I remember that he spoke Czech with a faint Slovak accent); the other stone, about 2 cm in size, was still inside my body in the whatchumacallit, urinary tract or duct or something, and that was the thing that was causing the horrible pain.

After they gave me an injection, the pain stopped completely within about an hour. The Slovak-Czech doctor gave me a prescription for some pain killers, but the person at the Pharmacy later apologized that I would have to pay for the pills because I did not have my insurance card yet so that they could not bill my insurance company.

So I paid for the pills. I don’t remember how much it was, because the amount was so small compared to American prices. I think it was about $5 or $10. In addition, I also had to pay a fee of 100 Czech crowns (also about $5) to the Emergency department.

The doctor expressed surprise that I took a taxi to the hospital. That’s because you’re an American. Local people call ambulance for every stupid little thing, he said, because the insurance companies will pay for it.

When I asked the doctor, whose first name was Oliver, whether the stones could have been caused by the stress of moving to another country after so many years in United States, he said it was possible, that it could have also been caused by the changes of pressure during a supersonic flight or many other things, but that it is usually due to lack of adequate hydration. Drink a lot of water, he said, and the stone should pass out from your body on its own. If not, we’ll figure out how to deal with it, he said.

I have insurance in US called Medicare, which is supposed to be really good, for America, anyway … because Medicare is a socialized rather than a for-profit insurance system, for the most part, anyway (although private insurance companies already are part of the Medicare system, which is why the costs, deductibles, etc., are going up). But unlike for example European insurance policies, Medicare does not work outside of US. So I stopped paying for it as of this month since it is now useless to me.

Within about two days, the pain was gone completely as my body managed to pass out the second stone as well.

Had I suffered the kidney stone attack two weeks earlier, prior to my departure, I would probably have received the same treatment, the same pain killers and the same advice from a doctor in Virginia. Instead of a Slovak accent, he might have an Indian accent or something, I guess.

But based on my experience with insurance companies after living in United States for 35 years, I think it is very likely that after a few days or weeks I would receive a letter from my insurance company informing me that my insurance policy did not cover completely all of the services I received, and then I would be receiving bills from various doctors and departments of a US hospital for a year or two, multiple bills with letters demanding payment of thousands of dollars for each separate procedure, like the X-ray, the injection, the wheelchair, etc.

So instead of paying about $10 to $20 to the hospital in Czech Republic, the chances are that I would have to pay at least 5 to 10 thousand dollars (or maybe more) to a hospital in Virginia. The hospital could just say that Medicare does not cover this procedure, or that I don’t have Medicare Part This or That (I only have two “Parts of Medicare” and there are like ten of them now that private insurance companies figured out how to make their blood money from people on Medicare too), and that would be that.

I enjoyed my life for three and a half decade in America very much. But the thing is, unlike now, basic things that people need to live in any country, like accessible, affordable, good-quality medical care still used to work in America back when I moved there more than three decades ago, both for doctors and for the patients. Now, even basic necessities of life like healthcare work mostly just for Wall Street, for hospitals, and for some doctors too, I think.

But not for patients, that’s for sure. The patients are in the system just to get fleeced by the various parasites who are getting rich from the insanely greedy racket that the American healthcare system has become.

Seems to me I moved back to “socialist” Europe just in time.

Posted by: patenttranslator | December 11, 2018

The Zen of Downsizing

Niemand ist mehr Sklave, als der sich für frei hält, ohne es zu sein.

[No one is more of a slave than he who thinks himself free without being so.]
Johann Wolfgang Goethe

It is a time-tested custom that older people downsize from a big house if it is no longer suitable for them as they suddenly have different priorities than when they were younger. This is now called downsizing in America and other countries, but it is in fact something that has been around forever, in different forms and in different cultures.

In old Japan, for example, there was a custom of drastic downsizing called obasute, or ubasute, ((姥捨て), which literally translated means “throwing the old woman out”, or “oyasute” ( 親捨て) , which means “throwing the parent out.” Wikipedia describes this ancient custom as “the mythical practice of senicide in Japan, whereby an infirm or elderly relative was carried to a mountain, or some other remote, desolate place, and left there to die.”

But I don’t think there is anything mythical about it. Why invent a mythical barbaric custom if there is not some truth to it? When times were hard and there was only so much rice to feed hungry family members, you had to make a choice whether to keep alive the children or grandma and grandpa.

When Bohemia was still a part of good old, ramshackle Austria-Hungary a century or two ago, a preferred form of what is now called downsizing in English-speaking countries was in Bohemia called “na vejminku“, which is hard to translate, partly because unlike Japanese, the Czech language does not have Chinese characters with cute and meaningful curlicues (although it would be so much fun if it did, wouldn’t it)? Anyway, na vejminku could be translated as [living] on a concession.

When the parents got to be too old to live in their original house, their children, who were now married and with children of their own and needed more space, simply took over the big house and instead of taking the parents to a mountain to die there of hunger and exposure, they allowed their old parents to live out their days in a smaller building constructed for the old geezers behind the main house. This was the condition (or concession) under which the old folks agreed to give their house to their kids.

To the best of my knowledge, people no longer bring grandpa or grandma to a mountain to die there, nor do they build that much little houses behind the main house for their elderly parents. Fortunately, old people in most countries now have an income called pension, provided that they have been honestly paying taxes for many years while they were working.

But because in every country, the income from a pension is likely to be much smaller than what most people were making when they were younger, typically about one third of the original income, older people often use different, creative forms of downsizing when they reach retirement age to make ends meet.

But downsizing is about more than when old folks move to a smaller place in a cheaper area or country. It is a philosophy and a way of life that is becoming popular as an alternative to the Western type of insatiable and ultimately unsustainable consumerism, a hungry dragon that insists on eating itself, starting from the tail and continuing until it logically must swallow its head and then die.

More and more people in all age categories are beginning to understand that it makes no sense to measure the health of a society and success of individuals in it by how fast the GNP (General National Product) is growing. When more than 50 percent of marriages in Western countries end up in divorce, which they do at this point, this is a very healthy development from the viewpoint of how quickly the GNP number is growing. Divorce lawyers are getting rich as poor ex-husbands must pay and pay, but it is hardly a positive development for the society in a given country.

Incidentally, as per the Youtube video below, unlike in recent past when divorce was usually initiated by men, 75% of divorces are now initiated by women who see divorce mostly as a way to conveniently squeeze even more money from the men who at one point were stupid enough to marry them.

Older people move from countries with a high cost of living to retire in cheaper countries, which often offer also a warmer climate and a simpler way of living.

Young people who refuse to be saddled with mortgage for two or three decades choose different strategies to avoid becoming slaves to insatiable appetites of the banking and real estate industry. When they eventually move from mama’s basement, and they prefer to stay a long time in what in Europe and Japan is called “hotel mama”, they move to small apartments instead of buying their first house, or use even more drastic methods of avoiding a huge debt, including building a tiny house or even retrofitting a van to create a permanent living space for themselves.

Drastic downsizing of any type of course always comes with many challenges.
If you move to a different country, you will either have to learn a new language, get used to a different culture and find new friends, or remain a foreigner in the country where you are trying to make a new home.

If you downsize to a tiny house, you may have to climb up a ladder every time you want to go to bed – and go from bed to bathroom – and you will have to solve all kinds of problems, such as where to connect your water, electricity, gas and other utilities, including WiFi, the most important utility because it connects you to information and to the world.

The downsizing trends, such as the MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) trend and other societal changes are only some of the many indications that the current economic and political systems may have outlived their usefulness and that the structures that used to work reasonably well for several centuries are now breaking down and disappearing.

People are looking for new ways to live because the society as a whole is looking for alternatives to the old, rusty models that no longer seem to work very well. We can try to ignore what is going on around us, or stop being slaves of the dragon who is eating himself and has already eaten up at least 50% of his body, and instead enjoy and marvel at how things are constantly changing, and join the changing world with our small contribution to it, however small it may be.

The second approach, which I am calling the Zen of Downsizing in my silly post today, is in my opinion much more fun than the traditionalist acceptance of the way things are because we “know” that we can change anything anyway.

 

Why did I move back from the green coast of Eastern Virginia to the country where I was born and lived for the first 28 years of my life, after spending 38 years abroad, mostly in the United States? Well, there was a number of reasons for that, not just one, of course.

My adult sons have left our household more than a decade ago, they live thousands of miles away and I would see them perhaps only once or twice a year. They don’t need me anymore, and I will probably still see them once or twice a year even where I live now, at least I hope so.

After 34 years of marriage, we decided to call it quits and my ex-wife will be returning to Japan to be with her elderly mother. I loved living in Japan when I was young but I would not want to do that at this point in my life.

I missed Bohemia a lot when I lived in California and then in Virginia. That was another potent reason for me to move again, this time back to where I came from. But the main reason was of course economic.

I calculated that to be able to stay in United States and continue living the same lifestyle as before also in retirement, I would need to make about 3,000 dollars in addition to my Social Security income, which I started receiving 2 years ago. I can do that relatively easily at the moment and I also have savings that would last me maybe a couple of years if I had to use them. But what if I get sick, for example, what then? Even though I like what I do for a living, there should be a point in my life, just like in everybody’s life, at which I should be able to stop working altogether like most people, n’est-ce pas?

There are many countries in this world where the Yankee dollar goes quite a bit farther than in the US of A, so I decided to join the hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of seniors who moved abroad to be able to live in retirement off a somewhat limited fixed income, often just Social Security.

As a US citizen, I can live anywhere I want to (except for Cuba and North Korea) and continue receiving Social Security payments as I have been paying taxes in the United States for 35 years. Actually, 36 years, because as I am still working, I already paid about a half of what I will owe to Uncle Sam for this year and I will pay the rest of it by March of next year.

There is a whole industry catering to US and other seniors who are looking for a country to move to once they have reached retirement age. Most of them move to countries with warm weather and a low cost of living, such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama or Thailand, but some move to pricier European countries, for example Germany, France or Croatia.

The cost of living in Czech Republic is higher than in some Asian and Latin American countries, for example, but quite a bit lower than in the United States. A number of differences in the cost of necessary daily expenditures accounts for this fact.

The cost of real estate and the cost of renting is much lower in Czech Republic than in US, especially when compared to California, as you can see if you click on the introductory Youtube video.

The cost of my mortgage, mortgage insurance, home insurance, home owners association fee and real estate taxes was about $1,800, which is not too bad for Virginia – thanks to the fact that we bought our house a long time ago. Even if the mortgage ($1,200) were paid off (which it isn’t), I would still owe about $600 in other fees related to real estate, more than half of it in real estate taxes which are much higher in US than in other countries. The utilities on my house in Virginia were about $300 to $500 a month a month – higher in the summer, which lasts about half a year in Virginia, because you need air conditioning pretty much non-stop.

I am now renting a small but comfortable and conveniently located apartment, (with a small balcony and a view of the small city and the Black Tower in Downtown from eighth floor, about 44 square meters or 470 square feet, as opposed to 3,800 square feet, or about 350 square meters that were wasted on only two people in our spacious house in Eastern Virginia), in the South Bohemian town of České Budějovice where I am living now. But the rent for my Czech apartment is only about $350, and the utilities are about $100. So the rent here is about nine time less here than in San Francisco where I lived from 1982 to 1992, when it was still possible for normal people to afford living there, and the cost of rent and utilities here in České Budějovice is basically what I paid just for real estate-related taxes and fees up until October in Virginia. And internet and cable TV are included in the cost of utilities, while in Virginia, I paid $220 a month just for for internet and cable TV. And the internet is fast and reliable – so far my wifi was out only once, in early morning hours, probably for maintenance.

So I used the hot spot off my cell phone for my computer, no big deal.

What about the cost of food here?

After only seven weeks, I am still not sure about the differences in the cost of groceries, especially since I don’t buy them much. It’s probably cheaper here, but I am not sure by how much.

But a delicious Czech meal, including a hearty soup and a main course such as Wiener schnitzel and potatoes with a good domestic beer (a typical Czech meal!) costs a little over $6 at a neighborhood family restaurant near my apartment. A similar meal in a restaurant in Chesapeake where I used to live would cost almost three times as much.

Plus there is a service that brings me and other seniors my lunch to my apartment Monday through Friday and the cost of that service is about $3.60 per lunch. I just nuke the main meal in my microwave oven and usually have the soup next morning. I never learned how to do anything more complicated than warming up a sausage or boiling eggs because for the last 34 years I was married to a former chef. So I thought that I would need to finally learn how to cook once I move not to have to spend too much of my budget on food.

But it looks like I will not have to learn how to cook after all, as the cost of restaurants and meal-delivery service is quite reasonable here in České Budějovice, a town with a population of about 100,000. After almost two months, I am getting a little tired of the Czech cuisine that tasted so wonderful at first … although so far I went only once to a Chinese restaurant and twice to a junk food place.

But there are many other restaurants in this town as well, from Italian, Indian, and Mexican, to Japanese and Chinese, Vietnames and Thai restaurants, I’ll just have to find them. I do have to say, though, that the pizza from the two pizza places I tried so far was pretty horrible. The pizza I ate in restaurants in Italy, Germany, or America was much, much better.

The food in junk food restaurants such as KFC, McDonalds, or Burger Kind is a bit cheaper here and it tastes pretty much the same anywhere in the world. But will I ever find a pizza joint here with a pizza that tastes as good as for example the pizza from Papa John’s in Chesapeake? That is the big, unresolved question.

The cost of health insurance for me at this point is $74 a month in Czech Republic, while I paid $173 for part B of Medicare insurance in United States. But there are many things that Medicare does not pay for. For example, I had to pay just under $1,000 for an eye exam and new glasses in Chesapeake last year. So far I have been to a doctor here three times and there has been a copayment that I had to pay every time. But it was only 100 crowns, or a little over 4 dollars. I also bought some medications, even before I had health insurance, but the cost was again only a few dollars, much less than what I would have to pay in United States.

Another interesting point of comparison is the cost of transportation in Chesapeake and České Budějovice. There is basically no public transport in Chesapeake with the exception of a few buses that are extremely inconvenient. So since like everybody else, we needed two cars, that the cost of transportation for the two of us, including insurance and gas, was about $150 a month, which was much less than what most people have to pay given that neither of us had to commute to work.

I don’t need a car here because public transport alternatives here, namely many buses and trolleys,  are everywhere and they run every few minutes. Taxis are reasonable too, it costs under $4 to get from my place to downtown or to the train station, both places only about a mile away.

The cost to me for public transport in the small city where I live is about 40 cents a year.

No, that is not a typo! Seniors of any nationality living in this town just need to bring their ID or passport to one of the Public Transport Authority offices in order to prove that they are old geezers based on their date of birth to buy a yearly coupon for a transport ID that costs 10 Czech crowns, which is at today’s exchange rates 44 cents in US dollars.

The idea is probably to get dangerous older drivers off the roads, which works for me just fine. Another thing is that once you have this senior ID, you can also get other discounts off the cost of the regular fare on trains anywhere in Czech Republic, which I think is fabulous. I have not tried it yet, but I intend to so soon on my next trip to Prague (under 100 miles), which should take about two hours and cost, thanks to the senior discount, under four dollars for a return trip.

I have still a few problems that I have to deal with here as a special case of a new immigrant. For instance, although I have a permanent domicile certificate, I don’t have a Czech ID yet, which seems to require much more documentation than I thought would be needed.

But other than that, I am getting used to my new environment fairly quickly, and of course, this is in no small part also thanks to the considerably lower cost of living here compared to the United States.

It’s so nice not to have to work anymore because everything is comfortably covered by your pension even though you live on a fixed income!

 

 

Posted by: patenttranslator | November 22, 2018

I Felt Much More at Home in the Last Century

When I started my own small business more than 30 years ago, most jobs required a certain level of people skills and the ability to interact well with other people in a world that still relied mostly on humans for most things that mattered. Some people were already using computers or even falling in love with them, but it would take another decade or two for the received knowledge that “algorithms are smarter than the human brain” to sink in.

It’s possible that the word “workflow” existed already, but probably mostly only as a new word in a dictionary, and I am pretty sure that the wording “efficient workflow automation” did not exist yet, which means that the concept of replacing humans by hardware and an algorithm did not exist or was brand new.

Good, reliable and trustworthy employees were very much in demand, treated well and highly valued by smart employers in the old version of our world.

Even my small translation business required a certain level of people skills. I had to be able to talk to people calling me on the phone because some of them could be customers or potential customers. I had to be polite to them, make an effort to conquer my native accent and be quick on my feet to react quickly to what they were saying, while deciding who they might be and whether I wanted to talk to them, or get rid of them.

Back when cell phones were few and even more expensive than they are now, people used to talk to each other on the phone mostly on land lines. When answering machines came into use in the eighties, followed by call ID displays in the nineties, this was a major technological feat and a great advantage for all phone users because we could finally tell who was on the other end of the line even before we answered the phone.

But look what happened in the meantime!

Most people no longer answer the phone now unless they recognize the number of the caller. Unfortunately, the call ID feature does not mean much now because scammers can buy any number in any country and pretend that they are whoever they want to be. The same scammers have been calling my number for years – even though I never answer, just glance at the call ID. The people who do answer these calls must be a distinct minority by now. But apparently, there is still enough of them to keep the con artists busy in their profitable schemes.

So we ignore the phone spam, just like we ignore email spam, including spam from translation agencies that we know nothing about and who know nothing about us. The phone scammers killed the phone as we used to know it, and the email spammers killed email as we used to know it, now that 95% of our email is spam.

Most job offers emailed to me by translation agencies are indistinguishable from plain vanilla spam now. Sometime, a ridiculously low rate is included in the email, but even when it isn’t, I know that the rate is at least three times lower than what I would charge, even to an agency.

Even the wording that translation agencies use in their offers of work is indistinguishable from the phrases that are favored by con artists in the spamming industry. “I am reaching to you” is a rather dramatic introductory phrase, very popular in the spamming industry and in the “translation industry,” that may mean that somebody who does not know you or anything about you would like to sell you a reasonably priced miracle cure for psoriasis (which you hopefully don’t have), or that a translation agency just fired off a dozen emails to find a warm body for a translation project at a rate that I would not touch with a ten-foot pole, often for a language that I don’t even translate, because they found me in a database such as the ATA database of translators.

Because I was born in 1952, I spent most of my life in the last century and it is fairly certain that I will have spent the majority of it in the last century. And I am glad of that. As far I am concerned, it was a much cozier century than this one, at least in the second part of it that I got to experience in person.

It’s not that this century does not have its advantages, it certainly does. For example, it took me only 2 emails and literally just a few minutes yesterday to locate a work contract that I signed in 1980 as I needed to provide evidence that I was employed back then as a translator by a Czech news agency in Prague. So in addition to my American pension, I can now look forward also to a Czech pension, albeit a much smaller one.

But hey, every little bit helps. And unless I am mistaken, Czech pensioners don’t need to pay health insurance payments (because their pensions are so damn small!), so I will probably no longer have to pay for it either.

It would have been much more difficult and it would probably take weeks, or at least days, to do something like that before the end of the last century. But the advantages we have in this century are only or mostly just technological, and most of the time they are probably used more against us than for us or by us.

It is too bad that people skills are not as much needed or valued as they used to be thirty years ago, at least not in my line of work. Instead of relying on inter-personal relationships built over years and decades, people now just look up another database to solve a problem, thinking that they will find what they need in it.

That is one reason why the shelf life of translators and other people who are able to provide a useful, complicated and demanding service is much shorter now than it used to be in the last century.

We are being used basically in the same way as most people use the apps on their smartphones. Those who need us for a while will just download us from a database, use us to perform a task, and once they (hopefully) pay us, we may never hear from them.

The human app is then deleted and replaced by another one next time. In the twenty first century, there is no need to build a personal relationship with a human app, even if the human app does the job and works well.

Posted by: patenttranslator | November 18, 2018

How Many Translators Does It Take to Fix a Machine Translation?

 

 

The title of my silly post today is of course a variation on the famous light bulb jokes, as in “How many cops” (liberals, psychiatrists, feminists, Christians, etc., even dogs) “does it take to change a light bulb?”

Most of these jokes are very funny and some are very revealing, even though some people might find them a little mean, usually because they happen to belong to the particular group being made fun of.

Some of these jokes are really clever:”How many cops does it take to screw in a light bulb? Two, one standing on a chair with a light bulb and another one turning the chair with the other cop on it around.” Or, ”How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?”“One to change the light bulb and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad.” This one is funny without really being mean, which is kind of a rare occurrence in the universe of jokes.

The variations using dogs are a clever way to describe in a funny way how different breeds of dog deal with a particular task.

So anyway, enough of light bulbs and dogs. Let us instead concentrate on the job at hand, which is determining how many translators does it take to fix a machine translation.

I think we have to start with the question “Why should it be necessary to fix machine translations.”

It’s pretty clear why burnt out light bulbs need to be changed. Burnt out light bulbs need to be changed because, unlike cats and dogs, people don’t see very well in the dark. And it’s also clear why machine translations translation need to be checked and fixed … because unlike a human translation, a machine translation is just a translation tool, not really a translation. Most humans have discovered that despite enormous technological progress over the course of the last half century or so, some of the text translated by an algorithm is usually completely wrong and that only a well functioning human brain can figure out where the problems are and how to fix them.

A machine translation may look like a real translation, i.e. like a translation done using a human brain, but it is in fact a completely different kind of animal. Moreover, thanks to the progress achieved in machine translation, unlike ten or twenty years ago, the fact that machine translations now look almost like real translations made it much more difficult to find out where the problems might be hidden in the translations.

Machine translation is now an incomparably better tool than it used to be. It is so much better in many ways except for one – a machine translation is just as unreliable as it was two decades ago. A machine-translated text that looks like it makes perfect sense, reads well and appears to be a really good translation that was created by human brain may in fact be saying the opposite of what the original text says because, unlike human translators, algorithms do not have brains and therefore do not understand the meaning of what the original text is saying.

That is why so-called translation industry is putting so much hope in post-editing of machine translation by human translators as a way to get rid of this pesky problem, a problem that is always encountered with any machine translation system.

But can the post-processing strategy work?

If a human translator were really to fix all of the potential mistranslations in machine-translated texts, he or she would have to spend as much time, and often more time, reading the original text, comparing its meaning to that of the machine translation, and creating his or her own translation, just as if the translation were done by a human translator from scratch.

That would of course be so time-consuming and expensive that it would in fact beat the purpose of the whole post-processing scheme. So the “translation industry” found the perfect solution for this problem, comprising two key ingenious elements.

  1. Instead of actual translators who know what they are doing and who would be likely to demand the same reimbursement for their work as if they were translating instead of just “post-processing”, the industry is using (or wants to use) mere “bilinguals” for the post-processing task, whatever that means, because “bilinguals” are much cheaper than established, experienced translators, most of whom would not be interested in the mindless, post-processing slavery, even if it paid well (which it most definitely does not.)

As a result, what such “bilinguals”, who are expected to charge no more than a penny or two per word for their “post-processing”, are likely to produce is a text from which most glaring mistakes may theoretically have been removed, but not all of the mistakes. Especially mistakes that are crucial to the meaning of entire sentences, which often occur with machine translation programs, such as using “is” instead of “is not” and vice versa, are unlikely to be noticed by rushed and underpaid “post-processors.”

  1. Every now and then, the “translation industry” creates a few new, clever propagandistic buzzwords to make it seem as if a major problem in its quest for “perfect or almost perfect” machine translations has been solved. The latest highly creative buzzwords are “neural machine translation systems” and “deep neural machine translation systems.” As Google puts it, Neural Machine Translation (NMT) is an end-to-end learning approach for automated translation, with the potential to overcome many of the weaknesses of conventional phrase-based translation systems.

Whether this potential is real or not, the fact remains that no matter how deep or how neural a machine translation system is, it will still be unable to solve the main problem, namely how to create algorithms that would in fact understand the actual meaning of a given text, simply because that is an impossibility.

On the other hand, the terminology using words such as “neural” and “deep” is pure genius because it creates the impression that the machine translation system is in fact based on understanding of the meaning of the text. Since neural means “of or relating to a nervous system”, and deep in this context is likely to be associated with “deep thinking”, from a purely propagandistic viewpoint, the combination of such terms is very effective.

The industry is thus continuing to forge ahead with its plans because, regardless of whether the post-processing method makes sense from a practical viewpoint, i.e. regardless of whether the result of post-processing is a much better, or even slightly better product. Whether the mistakes unavoidable with machine translation have been eliminated during “post-processing” or not, the method is effective from the industry’s viewpoint as long as the customers can be persuaded that they are buying good value for their money and receive a good product based on what they are paying for it … despite the fact that most machine translation, even very good machine translation, is available on the internet for free.

So what is the answer to the question in the title of my silly post today? I’m afraid nobody really knows, and nobody really cares, as long the human “post-processors” of raw machine translations can be found at a rate that guarantees healthy profit margins for the industry.

The answer to the question in the title of my post today in fact makes about as much sense as the many answers to the question:“How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb”?

Border Collie: Just one. Then I’ll replace any wiring that’s not up to code.

Rottweiler: Make me!

Lab: Oh, me, me! Pleeease let me change the light bulb! Can I? Huh? Huh?

Dachshund: You know I can’t reach that stupid lamp!

Malamute: Let the Border Collie do it. You can feed me while he’s busy.

Jack Russell Terrier: I’ll just pop it in while I’m bouncing off the walls.

Greyhound: It isn’t moving. Who cares?

Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark.

Mastiff: Screw it yourself! I’m not afraid of the dark…

Doberman: While it’s out, I’ll just take a nap on the couch.

Boxer: Who needs light? I can still play with my squeaky toys in the dark.

Pointer: I see it, there it is, there it is, right there!

Chihuahua: Yo quiero Taco Bulb?

Australian Shepherd: First, I’ll put all the light bulbs in a little circle…

Old English Sheep dog: Light bulb? That thing I just ate was a light bulb?

Basset Hound: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

 

 

 

I recently read a blog post of a translator who parted ways with a translation agency that used to be one of her clients for many years. This happened after the translation agency she used to work for was acquired by a much bigger agency which started using practices that are very common in what is now called “translation industry,” practices that are intolerable to most self-respecting freelance translators.

For example, the new company introduced a translation portal through which translators had to interact with the agency to accept a job, submit invoices and keep updating their availability, so that project managers eventually stopped communicating in person with the translators working for them. The portal instead issued automated emails in which work is offered at any time of day or night to a hungry pack of an unknown number of translators who are expected to fight over available jobs as dogs would fight over bones with a few scraps of meat on them that are thrown to them.

Dogs are wonderful people, but most dogs have no self-respect when it comes to begging for food. As far as the “translation industry” is concerned, to treat translators as hungry dogs is simply an efficient method to match available warm bodies with available work.

This is the new, extremely efficient method of “placing” translation jobs with translators that the “translation industry” came up with at the beginning of this millennium. It happened to me as well many times over after about the year 2000, which is how I date the start of the era of the new “translation industry.” As a result, I gradually stopped working for most translation agencies, even though I may have been working for some of them for many years, first only for large ones, and then also for smaller agencies as they started adopting the efficient management model that treats translators as easily replaceable, virtually identical tiny cogs in a big and ruthless machinery.

From the viewpoint of the “translation industry”, the method works very well because it saves so much time to project managers, who then can take on many more projects than they would be otherwise able to do if they had to contact every translator individually, even if only by mail, rather than by telephone as used to be the case not so long ago.

But the side effect of this extremely efficient method is that most translators who consider themselves highly educated and highly experienced professionals will eventually sever all ties with translation agencies who treat them in this manner as I and the writer of the blog post mentioned above did, and the only people who will continue to jump through the ingenious hoops created by a faceless portal will be translators who for some reason can’t find work from other translation agencies (or from direct clients) who would not treat them in such a demeaning manner.

Generally speaking, the reason why people would probably not mind too much putting up with this kind of behavior is that these are translators who know that they have no other choice but working even for the worst agencies out there … because they themselves know that they are not very good.

The portals thus function as a software device that finds available translators very quickly and with the minimum effort on the part of the translation agency. But at the same time, the portal over time separates the best and most experienced translators from such an agency, while bringing in mostly new translators who lack experience, or old translators who lack self esteem, usually because they know that they are not very good.

In other words, the portal method, with numerous missives of emails launched at any time of day or night to many translators, also very efficiently destroys relationships that may have been built between translation agencies and the best translators over many years or decades.

Do the translation agencies realize that this is what is happening? I think that most of them probably do realize that, at least to some extent. But they simply don’t give a damn because efficiency is everything and the new methods are in fact very good at quickly pairing available cheap translators with available translation work.

And that is all that the “translation industry” cares about.

The methods used by modern “translation industry” clearly show that the industry does not value translators as experts providing a complicated and highly labor-intensive service that, depending on the field and the language, can be usually provided only by very few people. What the industry now values above all is the speed at which the transaction can occur, and of course, at what cost.

This why the resulting translations delivered to industry’s clients are now so often pure crap and the chances are that the resulting quality will be even much worse than it is now if the industry has its way and “post-processing of machine translation” by pitiful human beings who are no longer translators will become a new standard and a legitimate way for delivering the bulk of translations.

Is it possible for translators to regain the central role in the translation process that some of us have become accustomed to in the years and decades before the advent of the extremely efficient methods of the new “translation industry”, when translators were still used to interact on personal basis with knowledgeable and intelligent project managers in translation agencies, instead of having to try to satisfy a piece of managerial software written by people who know a lot about efficient management of easily replaceable cogs in a huge machinery, but nothing about translation, software that keeps coming at them with more demands and new requiremens designed to keep the little human cogs making the wonderful machinery of a translation agency working at maximum speed and minimum expense for greater and greater profits of the industry?

I for one believe that based on these new methods, it is not possible for translation agencies to even pick the best person for the job, or for the translators to function as specialized experts within the context of the system that has been relatively recently created by the “translation industry.”

I do think that reintegration of translators in the translation process is still possible, even in the age of disintegration of the role of translators brought to us by the management methods used by faceless “translation industry,” but only for translators who work outside of the automated system created by this industry.

And to me, working outside of the system means working mostly for direct clients, and partly also for translation agencies of the traditional type, namely those that are able to work with translators on a personal level, treat them with respect, and realize that the role played by an experienced translator is the most important element in the translation process.

The ruthless efficiency of translation portals is extremely harmful not only to the quality of translation, but ultimately also to the viability of the entire “translation industry.”

Clients are not idiots, and after a while they are likely to recognize the inferior quality resulting from these extremely efficient managerial methods and vote with their feet.

Which would then mean that these seemingly very efficient methods are in fact very inefficient because it is much harder to find new clients than to keep old ones, and clients will stay with a business only when they are happy with the results that they are paying for.

 

We have all seen how capital has been chasing cheaper and cheaper labor for many decades all over the world. In the translation business, we have seen that this is true not only about big translation agencies, because small agency operations are also very eager to take advantage of cheaper, often dirt cheap translation resources located on the other side of the globe, easily accessible through internet.

The quality of the translations may not be the same if you choose the cheapest translator, in fact it hardly ever is the same, but hey, the price can’t be beat! So who cares about minute details such as whether the translation makes sense, especially since many translation agency outfits would not be able to tell poor quality if it smacked them in the face, especially those that claim to be able to translate anything and everything, even though they don’t understand a word of the languages that they are so expertly handling.

That is why translators living in places and countries with a high cost of living often have to compete with their colleagues who live in a country with a much lower cost of living, sometime even those of us who are working in highly specialized fields.

The flip side of what appears to be a major problem for some of us is that we translators can also take advantage of this situation by rearranging it more to our liking and simply moving to a different location, a place that is much less expensive, as well as pleasant and welcoming.

I did exactly that for the first time when I moved 25 years ago after running my tiny translation business for five years from a small apartment in San Francisco, 40 minutes north, across the Golden Bridge to the town of Santa Rosa in the Sonoma Wine Country.

If I had my choice (i.e. if I were rich), I would probably still be living in San Francisco, a little city that is so different from all other places that I lived in, big and small. But San Francisco was not very suitable for raising children, which was the main reason why I moved my business, just a short distance at first, back in 1992.

In Santa Rosa I escaped the grit of the city. I lost the neon-colored cool fog seeping in from the ocean and the bookstores where I used to love to browse, but the panhandlers and sidewalks reeking of urine were gone too.

And I was able to buy a new, sunny house, much bigger and much more comfortable than the fairly minimalist apartment that we were quite happy to live in for a number of years before the children were born.

And the mortgage was not much bigger than the rent we paid for many years in San Francisco, where real estate prices were already pretty impossible for somebody like me, although not yet nearly as stratospheric as they are now.

This was before most people, including myself, knew what the word internet really meant. But besides the fact that I had to change my telephone number and the mailing address for checks, the only other thing that changed was that I was sending my translation to my customer by a dial-up modem from a different phone number.

Being location-independent is something that many translators take advantage of now much more than a couple of decades ago, either by moving to a cheaper but very attractive area, or to move to the country where the language they translate is spoken..

I know a translator who moved from Canada to Mexico and who just loves living there, although she visits her family in Canada frequently. She once told me that she starts crying every when she starts explaining to somebody why she loves Mexico so much.

I also know several Americans who translate Japanese and who eventually moved for good to Japan to be in touch with the language and culture of their choice.

One is never going to find the perfect place to live. There will always be compromises, and we will always miss some of the things that we loved in our previous location that we no longer have.

Translators are not the only people whose income is usually, although not always, location independent. I am fascinated by Youtube channels of so-called digital nomads, mostly young people who move from place to place, often from country to country, refusing to stay in one place and get a 9 to 5 job like most people, with the obligatory office commute that sometimes shaves off years from our life as we sit stuck in traffic on increasingly more and more clogged roads and highways.

Some of these intrepid nomads live in mobile homes, some find minimalistic apartments or invest their money in tiny houses that can be easily transported to a new, exciting destination.

Some are so clever and handy that they can for example convert an old bus into a cute and comfy apartment. It’s a good way not to waste your money on the rent while living off-the-grid and enjoying the adventure of an independent lifestyle …. although I am not sure how one can live like that without running water and plumbing!

I also don’t know how somebody who is living in a romantic wilderness in the middle of nowhere can have access to fast and reliable wi-fi, but apparently, it’s not a problem anymore these days.

Many of these intrepid travelers have jobs in marketing, PR, or tech jobs that I don’t really understand, and some are even able to make a living from their internet channel by simply documenting their nomadic life. I wonder how long they will be able to live like that. Probably not forever would be my guess.

Some are also retired older folks like me who found a way to beat the system by living on a fixed income, namely their pension, in another a country where their pension goes much farther than in the country where they used to live. Some older couples spend the rest of their life traveling full-time in a comfortable mobile home … probably making up for the drudgery of their 9 to 5 job and seemingly never-ending duties and responsibilities of all dutiful parents.

And why not?

Life is short, and then you die.

It’s a big world out there, and if you have the courage to drastically change your life, you can turn this world upside down and make things work to your advantage … if you are able to look at this  brave new world from a totally different angle than most people.

 

 

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