Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

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Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by Guest on Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:58 pm

After having posted some pictures of Fiestaware in the Mine! thread, I had cause to think back on my time working the antiques and auctions circuit. It was a very interesting life making a living that way. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but as a hobby it can be really fun. Here are some things I learned during that part of my life that might prove useful to anyone who wants to collect.


1) Learn everything you can about what you collect.

For every kind of item that is being collected, there are all kinds of fakes out there, of varying qualities, from laughable to nearly undetectable. Read everything you can so you don't get taken. Very few auction houses will expressly guarantee that the items up of bid are beyond all shadow of a doubt genuine. Almost always you will be told to look the items over carefully. Once bought, yours to keep.

2) Book price is for suckers.


There are only three things in the world that have undeniable, inarguable value: food, water, shelter. Everything else is arbitrary. That is what the auctioneer for whom I worked explained to me. I cannot tell you the number of times I had to tell sweet little old ladies that they would not be living in the lap of luxury after the sale of their Hummel collection. They would hold up their well worn Hummel books and say things like, "But here in the book it says that Little Girl with Two Ducks is worth $500! What do you mean it sold for $25!" :rant:

Here's how book price works:

Every collectible item goes through periods of vogue. Last year it was worth nothing, this week it is the hottest thing, next month you can't give it away. That's just the way it goes. Books on these items rarely get published until the item is showing some movement in the antiques and collectibles community, and almost always just after the item has hit its peek price. The book price represents the highest price the item has ever sold for, and represents the item in its most pristine and perfect state. The problem is that the peek price of an item is often its own death knell. The item's price pushes it out of the average Joe or Jane's capacity to purchase and the item starts to get passed over both at auction and in the antique store. The market for the item falls out and = No can sell. It also often means no can buy as well. This happend to me with the fountain pens I collect. When I first started looking for them, any make, any model could be had for $25, $30. Fountain pens, along with a number of other men's collectibles started to take off and the prices went through the roof. Books got published. The prices got stuck at an exagerated mark, and stopped moving. I would visit antique stores time and again and see the same fountain pens gathering dust months, even years later. Which leads me to the next tip...

3) Collect things you like. You may be stuck with them.

This is not too big of a deal for the hobbiest because it is normally in the nature of the hobbiest to collect things they like. But if you collect with the intent to sell some day... well, just don't put all your eggs in one basket.

4) Watch e-bay!


One of the best places to get real (or at least more realistic) market values for antiques and collectibles is via online auctions. Still not perfect because there will always be that person who is willing to pay a rediculous price for an item for personal reasons.


So, um, yeah! That's me for today. More Wrandom thoughts to come. biggrin

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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by MC on Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:43 pm

LOL. Thanks for sharing! I might go to the Rodium with these tips in mind. :D I've gotta get me some of them snazzy serving plates. Laughing
Nah, it doesn't have to be serving plates, but I'd love to have something that matched and looked nicer than what I have currently.
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My love of Asia

Post by Guest on Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:02 pm

I really like movies from Asia. Right now I'm going through a Thai phase. Every movie I can find from Thailand on the web, I am watching.

I like lots of other things from Asia as well. I guess having had my formative years in Hawai'i played a big part in that. I have a beautiful collection of Oriental kitchen items, from chopsticks made of jade (yes, jade) and porcelain, to delicate bowls and serving plates.

I use them almost as regularly as I use my Fiestaware.

I even have a 'smart phone' from China designed for the Asian market. I bought it specifically because it supports Russian as one of the display languages. I was a Russian interpreter in the Air Force.



Anyway....

Last weekend, one of our friends was over the house for dinner and asked me about all the Oriental stuff in the kitchen. I explained my love for Asia. He got really strange after that, asking me why I didn't like stuff from here, Puerto Rico, more. Why was I not "getting into my own culture" instead of looking to the other side of the globe for things to interest me.

Then he payed me the worst insult you can do in my house. He said, "Chinese guys a gross. Don't tell me you ever dated one of them, please!"

I had to put my hand on my chest to check if my heart was still beating.

First, due to a strange tendency for generalization in my culture, Puerto Ricans refer to ALL Asian peoples as Chinese, regardless of there nationality, or race. This same strange tendency towards generalization causes Puerto Ricans to refer to all of Florida as Miami, and to call both butterflies and moths butterflies, even though there is a correct word for moth in Spanish. (More on that later)

I didn't know what to say. I was floored. My own boyfriend had a complete non-reaction to the comment, like there was nothing wrong with what had just been said, which as far as I am concerned is not different than if someone had just dropped the "N" word into casual conversation.

I haven't brought it up yet, cause I'm still a little raw.

Suggestions on how to broach this?


Last edited by Wreybies on Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:20 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : spelling)

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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by MC on Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:09 pm

Good idea to wait until you've calmed down. Don't want to turn all "wrabid dog" on him. Wink
That is sooo insensitive of him though. I can understand where some stereotyping (like with hillbillies and rednecks**) came from but I hate it when people buy into them with such ignorant fervor.

**I'm a native Tennessean and I always get slapped with this issue whenever someone in L.A. learns of where I'm from. If I spoke with a southern accent, I would instantly be labeled with a low IQ.
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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by Guest on Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:16 am

MC wrote:Good idea to wait until you've calmed down. Don't want to turn all "wrabid dog" on him. Wink
That is sooo insensitive of him though. I can understand where some stereotyping (like with hillbillies and rednecks**) came from but I hate it when people buy into them with such ignorant fervor.

**I'm a native Tennessean and I always get slapped with this issue whenever someone in L.A. learns of where I'm from. If I spoke with a southern accent, I would instantly be labeled with a low IQ.

So, I finally spoke with William last night concerning the whole issue. We got into a discussion concerning the difference between expressing a preference and making a racist statement. I boiled it down to there being a world of difference between saying, "I am not attracted to Asians," and saying, "Chinese guys are gross." The former being acceptable, the latter being well beyond the pale. I also explained that while I would not make a big deal out of it this time, a repeat performance would provoke an unedited explanation of my feelings on the matter, there and then.

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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by Garmar on Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:06 pm

I'm glad you waited long enough to think it through. That is usually best.

People used to think my grandpa was a bit slow because he always took his own sweet time thinking before he spoke. I once asked him why he did this, and he told me it was so he would say exactly what he meant to say. He was a man who rarely had to apologize for sticking his foot in his mouth.

I also explained that while I would not make a big deal out of it this time, a repeat performance would provoke an unedited explanation of my feelings on the matter, there and then.
Well said.

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Saturday Indulgence

Post by Guest on Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:01 am

Every Saturday I treat myself to something and give in to one indulgence.

Today's indulgence: Guacamole for breakfast (my guac kicks ass!)

Today's treat: A new food processor!! (I haven't bought it yet so Kmart or Wallyworld is in my future. I need a little one to make curry paste.)

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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by MC on Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:57 am

I saw the mini food processors at Target recently for $7.00. I wanted one too. I'm not sure why I didn't buy it then.

Care to share your recipe for Guacamole, old chum?
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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by Guest on Sat Mar 21, 2009 1:53 pm

MC wrote:I saw the mini food processors at Target recently for $7.00. I wanted one too. I'm not sure why I didn't buy it then.

Care to share your recipe for Guacamole, old chum?

Ingredients:

4 Haas avocados
1 8oz container sour cream (firm)
1 small container Pace Picante Sauce Chunky style (medium hotness)
salt (adobo is better if you have)
one lemon

The trick is in choosing the avocados. This is an art, not a science. They must feel soft yet firm. Too hard and they won't mash well and will lack that oh-so-critical buttery flavor. Too soft and they will have browned on the inside. Yuck! Sometimes better to buy them still overly firm and set them on a window sill at home until they have achieved that perfect balance.

Scoop out the avocado flesh and plop into a glass bowl. Avoid any brown spots, toss that part away. Squeeze one half of the lemon unto the unmashed avocado. You don't need to squeeze the lemon too much, it's not so much there for flavor as to delay oxidation of the avocado flesh. Mash the avocado with a fork to the consistency you would like. I prefer chunky, some prefer smooth. Do not use a food processor. I did this once and got avocado soup. Blech!

Dump about half of the Pace Picante sauce in a mesh colander. Shake the colander over the sink until almost all the liquid is gone. You really just want the chunky bits that have been flavored by the sauce. Add the chunky bits to the avocado and about half of the 8 oz container of the sour cream. Make sure the sour cream has been in the fridge this whole time. It needs to be nice and firm, not runny. Combine the avocado, sour cream, and chunky bit of picante sauce by folding the mixture until well mixed. Add salt or adobo sparingly to taste. Remember, you can always add more, you can't take it out once mixed in! Put it in the fridge for at least half an hour to firm up the guac. (more time is better for firmness)

Bust open the bag of chips (which I forgot to mention to buy) and enjoy!! Alka-selzer is good to keep on hand in case you overindulge, which is oh-so-easy to do. affraid


Last edited by Wreybies on Sat Mar 21, 2009 2:18 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by Garmar on Sat Mar 21, 2009 1:58 pm

That sounds yummy, Wrey! I loves me some guac and chips. Wife can't stand the stuff - leaves more for me. Wink

Thanks for the recipe.

*runs off to go shopping*

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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by MC on Sat Mar 21, 2009 7:30 pm

*dramatically*
That must be what we all have in common...the reason we gravitate to one another here in this forum: we all love guacamole! LOL.

I'm the only one in my family, too. Wink


Sounds good Wrey! :)
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Boss told me to watch Telenovelas....ugh!

Post by Guest on Thu Mar 26, 2009 6:31 pm

So, I'm chatting with my boss the other day via the net and we were talking about difficulty with Spanish regionalisms. I was mentioning the words I had come across during the week which I hadn't the foggiest clue as to their meanings.

She told me that I should watch more Spanish television, but to avoid dubbed American shows because they would never have the local, regional words that I was looking to learn.

This means watching Telenovelas (Spanish soap operas) good grief

I would rather perform surgery on myself without anesthesia than watch telenovelas. And there are no other shows that come from the Latin American countries. No police shows, no hospital shows, no sci-fi shows... nothing! Just telenovelas and shows like Sabado Gigante, which is worse!!

sarcasm

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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by MC on Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:43 pm

Ah, come on now Wrey. A couple of episodes and you'll be hopelessly hooked into the sappy plots. After then it'll be breeze. wink

Another suggestion would be to google them or join hispanic chat room/forum thingies. rolleyes


Last edited by MC on Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by Garmar on Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:01 am

This means watching Telenovelas (Spanish soap operas)
I wonder if that is anything like having your fingernails slowly ripped off? scratch

Sounds fun! cheers

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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by Guest on Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:42 am

MC wrote:Another suggestion would be to google them or join hispanic chat room/forum thingies. rolleyes

I belong to two! Guess what everyone talks about..... telenovelas & politics. My two unfavorites. thumbs down

I also belong to a couple of interpreter forums. I used to belong to three of them, but I got banned from one. Can you believe that? Little old me, banned?! I'm as harmless as a dormouse.

Here's how it happened:

Interpreters are, for the most part, a strange lot. We deal with some odd issues in our job that make some people a little sensitive. First, interpreters get a lot of, "Ok, so you speak two languages. So does every kid in Miami. How does that make you a professional?" Then there is the fact that we deal with many clients who have extra letters on the ends of their names (Phd., MD, JD) who guard their professions jealously. They sometimes rankle at the fact that someone (me) who didn't have to go to school for 900 years, and doesn't have a dozen framed, ivy league, diplomas hanging on the wall is privy to the same level of information as they are. Not all professional clients are like this, especially not nurses, who have my undying respect. (I believe that every good nurse should get an automatic upgrade when he/she arrives at the pearly gates.)

Anyway, this means that many interpreters are often either painfully insecure, or constantly offended on some deep, simmering level.

So, I go to the interpreter forums, and I am my usual, jovial, silly, random self and I run into a bunch of interpreters who treat the job and themselves as if they were monastic clergy. Everyone is very serious and most threads are about how transparent individuals are on the job, and the need to never interfere with the actual dynamic of the conversation, and how every bit of vocabulary is known to these people and that they never ever ever miss a beat.

Blech!

I start making some serious mistakes in the forum. I ask questions about how people handle certain situations. I ask what other people do when the client asks you to be a little less than transparent. I ask what other people do when they run into unknown vocabulary.

You would have thought I had spit on the Alter of Interpretation. Ridiculous.

So, one of the highly controversial threads I had opened was getting all kinds of responses that were all basically to the tune of, "You don't ask those kinds of questions. You stick to the Interpreter Bible (there actually is one, btw). How did you ever become an interpreter without understanding your lowly place, blah, blah, blah"

I finally responded with exactly the following, "Now, now, everyone. We're all pretty. I can't believe that I am the first person to ask these questions."

BANNED cheers

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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by NaClmine on Fri Mar 27, 2009 4:00 pm

Congratulations! A well deserved honor, confirming the personal integrity that I always suspected was Wreybies. I'm proud of you!

When I was in special forces in Nam, I spoke fluent Vietnamese (part of the job necessated by long range recon missions in enemy areas). One time, we captured a bunch of NVA and the South Vietnamese government demanded to interrogate the prisoners. Of course the US agreed, but our officials insisted that the prisoners would be guarded by American troops and returned to the US for "our" interrogation when the ARVN were done with them. I was "assigned" as one of those guards. Our "allies" had no idea that I understood everything they were saying and I had to maintain that "dumb" look the whole time . . . even when ARVN interrogaters traded promises of facilitating prisoner escapes for locations of weapon and food caches.

In this process, my recon uniform was taken from me and I wore the clothes of a low ranking enlisted MP (military police). The other MPs wondered who I was because they knew I was not from their unit but they were told to keep silent about the "new guy" (actually, there were two of us spies).

I stood next to each prisoner with an M-16 in hand while the ARVN officers threatened, cursed and spit on the prisoners. I "heard" the questions asked and the answers provided. During my "breaks", another guy from my spec ops unit took my place while I dictated everything I just heard onto a small reel-to-reel tape hidden in my pack. My counterpart did the same thing when I spelled him.

This went on for two days, during which, the prisoners revealed plans to invade South Vietnam from secret bases in the Parrot's Beak section of Cambodia. They told about hidden caches of weapons, general locations of communist headquarters and a couple of them asked for asylum. All this was in my report.

When I returned to MAC-V for debriefing, we compared my version of the interrogations to the report we recieved from our "allies". What a difference! Reports about preparations for an invasion were there and accurate. Locations of the communist headquarters were also accurate. But, all information about caches of food and weapons was completely ommitted. When US troops got to the locations I provided for the caches, everything was gone, having been raided almost immediately by our allies. Within a couple days, the food, weapons and ammo showed up on the black market in Saigon and a few ARVN troops enjoyed some extra spending cash.

I never trusted our "allies" again. In fact, on my last recon mission, I was assigned as an "observer" to an ARVN search and destroy team. Again, my job was a lot more than just watching, and, sure enough, the ARVNs received info from a village chief about a nearby VC storage facility. Only this time was different. My buddies (lerps -- "long range recon patrol" LRRPs) were silently trailing our team and, when I heard the info, I went behind a hut and immediately radioed them with the coordinates of the cache. Shortly after, the NVA officer in charge informed me that the mission was complete and I could leave. So, I did!

You should have seen the grin on my face when he and his troops showed up at the cache location to find my men setting fire to piles of equipment and food. He was infuriated until I cursed him out in perfect Vietnamese. Then, he was in shock! It was priceless! Told him in his own language that this incident would be reported to MAC-V and he could expect repercussions from his own government. His men drew down on us (only 6 of us and about 30 of them). I fingered the mic on my walkie-talkie and quietly said, "This is sandman. Little help please."

In less than thirty seconds, two AC Cobra gunships from a mile away roared across the clearing. They circled around and settled into a hover about 100 yards away, nose mini-gun (6000 rounds per minute) and two pods of rockets aimed straight at us.

The ARVN office and his men disappeared real fast. I guess I was not a very good interpreter because I let my own feelings get involved! LOL
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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by Guest on Fri Mar 27, 2009 4:31 pm

NaClmine wrote:The ARVN office and his men disappeared real fast. I guess I was not a very good interpreter because I let my own feelings get involved! LOL

What an awesome memory to have! Yeah, the 'nuns' at the interpreter forum would be in shock. wink

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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by NaClmine on Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:01 pm

Staring down the barrels of 30 M-16s tends to become a long term memory! LOL
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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by MC on Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:25 pm

That's an awesome story Saulty.

Wrey, I don't get what their problems is. I'm baffled. What's wrong with asking a few questions like that? Wow.
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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by Guest on Sat Mar 28, 2009 9:49 pm

MC wrote:Wrey, I don't get what their problems is. I'm baffled. What's wrong with asking a few questions like that? Wow.

It's all in the training.

Civilian trained interpreters are trained the same way puppies are. Pee on the carpet, whack on the nose.

I was trained in the military, where interpreters (known as crypto) are privy to some of the little bit of swankiness that the military has to offer to non-officers. Basically we thought we were the ****. Few professions in the military, when when is a non-com, allow one to earn more than the stripes on one's sleeve dictates. For the most part, regardless of job, everyone with three stripes makes the same as everyone else with three stripes. Crypto guys and gals could earn much more than what their stripe would dictate if they maintained their tested language skills at a given level. And as long as the language you were testing in was one that had a mission use, you could test in as many as you wanted. I was a Russian linguist, but I regularly tested in Polish, Czech, and of course Spanish.

I made a mad amount of money!

Anyway, the way I was trained gave me a rather boosted ego about my profession. I was told, in a myriad different ways, "You are a critical part of the mission. The information you provide will save lives and keep others safe. Everytime you learn something new, you make the mission that much easier for the thousands of other soldiers who are all part of this team of ours. Keep your skills sharp, and we will make it very worth your while." And it was worth my while. I had the time of my life in Berlin and never once worried about the amount of money I was spending to do it.

Civilian interpreters get the exact opposite. They get told, in a myriad different ways, "We will begrudgingly deal with you, because we need someone with your 'skill,' but as soon as technology makes you obsolete, you are soooooo out of here!" They also get it beaten into their heads about transparency. Transparency basically means making as little of your own impression on the transmission of data between your clients. The civies take this very seriously because they have never had really important information pass through their hands, they have never worked with a security clearance. Yes, someone's Visa account number is sensitive information, but not quite as sensitive as discovering that a soviet training battalion in Poland has suddenly been converted to duty with SA-10, and SA-11 surface to air ballistic missiles.


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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by NaClmine on Sun Mar 29, 2009 12:16 am

Not nearly as exotic as Wrey's treatment, but it's the same theme. In Vietnam, I had an "All-country" pass (could ignore curfews), a Vietnamese drivers license and special written orders issued by a two star general in the black ops division of MAC-V that allowed me to take control of any military vehicle (including choppers) from any US soldier up to the rank of O-4 (Major in the Army or Air Force). Only those of us who completed and maintained proficiency in vietnamese (measured by the AFLS - Armed Forces Language School) were given those papers because headquarters knew we were interrogating villagers and might come up with important info about enemy troop movements at any time. This allowed me to get back quickly to the nearest Intell unit (MAC-V, Da Nang and a couple secret MI sites near the Laos border) for debriefing of "mission-critical" info discovered during our lerp missions.

One time, I used those papers to confiscate a jeep from a first lietenant because some of the guys in my Spec Ops units wanted bananas and fresh sweet bread to make peanut butter-banana sandwiches. When I returned it to him, I thanked him and said I put in a good word with the general about his "cooperation" and mentioned his positive contribution to the war effort . . . dumbass believed me! LOL
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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by Lady Goodman on Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:21 pm

Sidenote:

4) Watch e-bay!

One of the best places to get real (or at least more realistic) market values for antiques and collectibles is via online auctions. Still not perfect because there will always be that person who is willing to pay a rediculous price for an item for personal reasons.


E-Bay is also excellent for getting great deals on XBOX 360 Elites thumbs up
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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by MC on Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:43 pm

Wreybies wrote:
It's all in the training.

Civilian trained interpreters are trained the same way puppies are. Pee on the carpet, whack on the nose.

I was trained in the military, where interpreters (known as crypto) are privy to some of the little bit of swankiness that the military has to offer to non-officers. Basically we thought we were the ****. Few professions in the military, when when is a non-com, allow one to earn more than the stripes on one's sleeve dictates. For the most part, regardless of job, everyone with three stripes makes the same as everyone else with three stripes. Crypto guys and gals could earn much more than what their stripe would dictate if they maintained their tested language skills at a given level. And as long as the language you were testing in was one that had a mission use, you could test in as many as you wanted. I was a Russian linguist, but I regularly tested in Polish, Czech, and of course Spanish.

I made a mad money!

Anyway, the way I was trained gave me a rather boosted ego about my profession. I was told, in a myriad different ways, "You are a critical part of the mission. The information you provide will save lives and keep others safe. Everytime you learn something new, you make the mission that much easier for the thousands of other soldiers who are all part of this team of ours. Keep your skills sharp, and we will make it very worth your while." And it was worth my while. I had the time of my life in Berlin and never once worried about the amount of money I was spending to do it.

Civilian interpreters get the exact opposite. They get told, in a myriad different ways, "We will begrudgingly deal with you, because we need someone with your 'skill,' but as soon as technology makes you obsolete, you are soooooo out of here!" They also get it beaten into their heads about transparency. Transparency basically means making as little of your own impression on the transmission of data between your clients. The civies take this very seriously because they have never had really important information pass through their hands, they have never worked with a security clearance. Yes, someone's Visa account number is sensitive information, but not quite as sensitive as discovering that a soviet training battalion in Poland has suddenly been converted to duty with SA-10, and SA-11 surface to air ballistic missiles.

I understand now. Other interpreters are trained to be like slave droids with no brains or power. You were trained to be the opposite. Like the terminator of the interpreters.
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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

Post by Guest on Wed Apr 01, 2009 2:25 pm

MC wrote:I understand now. Other interpreters are trained to be like slave droids with no brains or power. You were trained to be the opposite. Like the terminator of the interpreters.

To bad I already got banned! I would have loved to have posted the above quote. Raucous! biggrin

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Recurring Dreams...

Post by Guest on Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:39 am

So, last night I played host to one of my more unfavorite recurring dreams: I'm still in the Air Force, there is a formation which I must attend and the formation is to be in dress blues (formal uniform, jacket, the whole nine.) There a parts to my uniform which are missing and I am stationed on a base that is not an Air Force base (it does happen,) and I cannot buy the items I need to complete my uniform.

Anxiety, anxiety, anxiety. No

Guest
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Re: Wrey's Wrandom Thoughts

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