Trying to spin straw into gold

Once again I find myself in the unenviable position of trying to spin straw into gold. 
This time, the bunch of texts in question are intended for the website of a certain educational institution, and are a total hodge-podge: some seem to have been written by top people in this institution, while others are bits and pieces of existing material – an informational leaflet, an old presentation, pale or incompetent summaries of better-written texts already in existence on the Internet. Most need translating from Hebrew to English, some the other way round.

Having initially seen only a couple of samples, I had thought this job would be smooth sailing.  But as I continue to struggle with the £$%^&* texts, and, as the administrator in charge keeps pressuring me, I find it hard, if not impossible, to explain to her why on earth it's taking longer than I thought. 
What can I say?
Listen, miss, your bosses may be great guys, brilliant educators, fantastic at running a college, but they can't write to save their lives?
Yeah sure, that'll go down well. Not to mention that it sounds suspiciously like a bad workman blaming his tools. 

Most likely, even if I did have the chance to point out to the lady an example of an inane, illogical sentence, she wouldn’t see what's wrong with it; after all, it was written by the guy from the Board of Directors! And it contains such important words as school climate, striving for excellence, etc etc.  Ah, yes, and that most impressive of buzz words, “core values”; what would any institution or organization be without lofty core values? They all sound exactly alike… no imagination, no originality. Everyone wants to assure us that, above all, they are committed to quality, integrity, service, blah blah… Hell, even the Spanish Inquisition had core values; but at least those were [fiendishly] original:

Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four* *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise....  Wait, let’s try again: Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms -
 (c) Monty Python [who else?!]

And on this happy note I shall return to my private torture of finishing this translation.

LinkedIn colleague recommendations: are they worth anything?

Recommendations, endorsements, testimonials on LinkedIn and elsewhere on the Web: are they worth anything?

- I've just changed the name of this post, having realized that it was too general and readers misunderstood it. I was not referring to recommendations of skincare products, hotels, restaurants... I mean, very specifically, the endorsements we -- professionals, service-providers -- are encouraged to provide to each other online: 

A colleague sends you a message asking you to endorse his/her website, services, company or whatever. You know this works both ways – you’ll scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours.

But there’s the rub: if it’s based on quid-pro-quo, is it of any value?

Some people are better at their chosen profession than others. You can be perfectly friendly with Sacha or Elsie, and still think that their work is below par, whether they themselves are aware of it or not. And if Sacha is a friend, or someone you’ve done business with and might get more work from in the future, how are you going to turn him down? Can you just ignore the request and pretend you never saw it, and leave it to him to draw his own conclusions? Do you write Elsie a formal-sounding, “correct” but cool endorsement, which any potential customer will easily see through?  And if you yourself are looking for, say, a localization expert from English to German, and you’re reading the recommendations given to Elsie, say on LinkedIn, are you expected to take them at face value, or with a grain of salt?

Just choose one of your LinkedIn pals at random, and read the recommendations about them, or the ones they wrote about others. No disrespect, but is it really possible that everyone on LinkedIn is the cat’s meow?... And those who have no recommendations, does it necessarily mean that they’re no-goodniks?... The answer is too obvious for words.

So far, I recall writing only one endorsement on LinkedIn, and one testimonial on a colleague’s website. In both cases, I did this with pleasure, as these are two people whom I wholeheartedly approve of, to say the least. Then came a request from a work-acquaintance, which made me somewhat uneasy: I know the person rather superficially; we’ve done some business together, and it was fine; but I really have no idea how good this person is in his current field of endeavor. So what can I say? Isn’t it better to ignore the request than to write a half-hearted, non-committal “recommendation”?

Do let me know your thoughts.

Another Hebrew ad mistranslated...

It's been a while since I made fun of the English version of local ads.
So here's one in brief:
The coffee shop Cup O Joe, or Cafe Joe in Hebrew, is offering you a free cup of coffee when you order one of their new "portions"...
This gem is repeated at the bottom of the ad.

Once again, I wonder: Why? What excuse does the company (the cafe chain) and/or the J. Post, who carried this ad in their weekend magazine, have for such literal translation? Why ruin an otherwise perfectly decent ad?

Wonder what new dishes the coffee shop is actually offering. Do you think it's worth dropping in, despite the ad?...

Help! I am being followed!

No need to call the Police; I am not in any immediate physical danger, I think.
Still – getting an email telling me that I Am Being Followed was a bit jarring. What have I done that merits being followed? Oh, I’m used to being followed on Facebook; and I wish more people would follow my blogs. But that’s about it. I don’t even have a Twitter account – seems like too much bother.
So no wonder I was taken aback.

As it turns out, it’s all my fault.

Ever since I moved my study from the front porch to what had become the spare bedroom, I’ve been on the lookout for ways to make my workspace more efficient and attractive. So when my daughter sent me a link to a pegboard , I fell instantly in love with the site that provided that wonderful organizer, and thoughtlessly joined the party by clicking a few check-boxes, then promptly forgot about it.

Well. That’s when the emails started. Apparently, people discovered that I was on Pinterest, and chose to “follow” me. But there was nothing to follow! My walls, or boards, or whatever, were pristine and bare. Not a pin in sight.

Not wanting to disappoint my new followers, I began searching for worthy images to “pin” onto my boards. Which required setting up boards. And inventing names for them. And copying and pasting and uploading and …  Worse than Twitter, I am sure. Especially since I found the Pinterest GUI not the most intuitive or self-explanatory, even for a veteran Web user like me. But – being a veteran Web user – I figured it out, of course. And diligently linked and uploaded some cute pics. Phew. Now my followers will at least have something to look at, and I can take a breather and get back to business.

Now, where was I?...
  • I’ve translated and polished the text about the upcoming summer camp;
  • I’ve sent client A.M. a list of fanciful names for their fancy new products'
  • I’ve decided not to undertake writing copy for T’s website, because, well, I don’t want to put you off that project, because I hope one of you guys will undertake it, so I’ll keep my reservations to myself.
  • I have to call R and ask if they still need me, or if they’ve found someone else, and possibly set up a meeting. Which I dread. Don’t like meetings. Prefer to just look at the text and/or website, get an email with some sound explanations, then issue a price quote.
  • I have to give T a price quote; the job isn’t urgent, which is a welcome change!
  • Last but not least, and most hated – I have to send reminders to recalcitrant clients… Wish me luck!