Second Trip to Taiwan’s East Coast


8:10 am, Friday, Jan 27th, 2017

Off on my second bike trip to visit Taiwan’s east coast. The Taitung area, to be more specific.  A lady recently asked me if I was planning to bike all around Taiwan. In Mandarin Chinese it’s called huándǎo 環島. Was quick to reply that cycling around could be interesting, but my current dream is to huán hǎi 環海, or sail around the world on a sailboat. Wasn’t so sure if the term huán hǎi was commonly used in Chinese, but she understood anyhow. The short conversation I had with her was more precisely:


Which means translates as:

“Traveling around the island is a bit boring, I want to travel the seas and oceans.”

The feeling I have lately is somewhat inspired by a line in an Arcade Fire song.

“I have the notion of crossing the Atlantic Ocean”.

Only difference is that I want to add a bike to the formula. A bike and an old school Nordic Folk boat.


So anyhow, here I am off on another short trip. Sticking to the coastal areas. The pure oxygen and clean air must be fantastic inland in the mountains, but still think the air quality on the eastern coast is fresh enough.  Much fresher than the industrial west coast. Tainan has been having higher than normal PMI levels lately.  The Taiwanese weather and air quality app. That I use, gives a pretty good picture of what’s happening.

Train ride was the same as last new year. Ticket purchase with a bike always throws the ticket clerks off. What? You are bringing a bike? Let me look up the regulations and ticket prices on the system. 20 or 30 minutes later, the clerk tallied up the price for a no-seater ticket. Same as my last trip. Non luxury caboose. When I say non luxury this is it. Still like it, since I’m all alone at the back of the train.  Can move around freely and check out the sites from the back door space.

Feel asleep about halfway through the 7 or 8 hour train ride. Some other foreigner was quickly assisted by the well organized train crew. The rush of wind that came in when they slid open the doors, awoke me. The rest of the ride got a bit raunchy. The train staff had left the back door to the caboose opened to provide some air, since I was seated not to far from roaring diesel engines.  About thirty minutes through this, the engine maintenance engineer escorted me to some free seats, two coaches up. Sat nice and comfy in a reclining seat.

All of a sudden the grey skies had turned to a glistening blue and the vegetation was beautifully lush. This part of the trip is all about going through tunnels. That’s what the east coast is to me. Train ride through tunnels built on these mountains, that where probably once part of the ocean bed. Watching documentaries about the Mariana Trench and others kind of opens your eyes to how geography happens in this part of the world.  How the numerous islands in the area, including Japan, Philippines and Taiwan were formed in the geological past, just boggles my mind.   Understanding how the Mariana Trench was formed is an even bigger mystery.


It’s depth is almost the same as it’s relative distance to Taiwan – a bit over 10 km.

Back to the Taitung trip.  Two spots I plan to visit this time around. First attraction is Xiǎo liǔ 小野柳, which I had passed by without really noticing on my first trip. It’s a nicely manicured coastal garden with lots of nice trees and crafty and artistic rock arrangements and paths. There’s a nicely designed wooden path that leads to the coast where you can see some interesting sand rock formations. Worth checking out.


Second spot is Sān xiāntái 三仙台.  Also worth visiting, but I’m content with looking up the numerous pictures that others have taken of this bridge.


Biked in that direction, but met up with another cyclist while riding in that direction.   He was also visiting the east coast to get some fresh air.  He works in Kaohsiung, not so far from Tainan.  I should try to hook up with him again for a meet up ride, where he cycles from Kaohsiung to Tainan, and I do the opposite.  Meet halfway so to speak.  He’s quite dedicated to cycling but also runs and swims.  That makes him a triathlete!  We cycled at a quick pace for about 30 km.  We exchanged FB info and I decided to go for a dip in the ocean nearby.  He kept on cycling towards Hualien.  The picture with the scarf is me after that quick and long bike ride.



Life in Dulan was almost the same as last time.  Got the chance to check out some concerts and play some music with locals and foreigners.  That’s probably the highlight of my trip.  Just having a beer with musicians and chatting it up.  Met a French guy who plays various styles.  He’s written quite a few of his own rock songs, but also enjoys playing Django Reinhardt songs.  He calls the Gypsy styled swing, “manouche”.  Plan on traveling to France to join his band and work on a music project.  He lives in Provence, and we will practice for a month or so and then set off on a tour down south in Spain, or perhaps Belgium.  Depends on if his friend who owns a van will join us on trips.  Might also be a chance to work on more French to English translation projects.


Translation Projects for 2017


The New Year is coming in soon. Have been informed by some friends that the month of January will be a good time to cement things. Not sure if the cementing should be done on the personal level with relationships or with my business. I do know, that the New Year will mean a different approach to my business endeavors.

First thing to consider is to actively look for new clients, and not attempt working with LSP’s. 2016 has proved to me that LSP’s can be a total waste of time. CSoft, Pactera Trans, for example, has been trying to get me on board, but I realize that the countless emails I’ve received from them, coming from so many different email accounts, means that some LSP’s look to waste their competition’s precious time. Tests, more tests, and arbitrarily assigned scores saying you didn’t match their qualifications, for an impeccably done translation sample, simply means they see you as competition and want to dissuade you from competing against them.

Must keep reading and applying the principles of Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup (2011). There’s an abundance of common sense in that book. It’s a good read!

How to recognize a scam

Musings from an overworked translator

One of the most common questions I get from beginning translators is how to tell if a job request is a scam. I developed a PowerPoint presentation for the KSU grad students several years ago and thought I would share some of the tips with you so you don’t fall for a scam.

The most common warning signs:

  • Offer advanced payment (which the “client” would overpay and/or then claim a change in plans and ask you to “return” the overpayment.)
  • Spelling and grammar errors
  • Capitalized information suggest form letter
  • No contact information (freemail account like Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.)
  • Not much concrete information offered about the job
  • Wife, daughter, etc. does not speak English and is coming to the U.S. for a shopping trip, conference, etc.
  • Require the purchase of software (my one agency client that also sells a TEnT supplies me with the software and license for free, so you…

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British Pound Woes

LIFE_wavegraph copy

Today’s news confirms what I guessed would happen.  The UK has decided to leave the EU and obviously this has had economic repercussions on the British Pound.   News is currently talking about how it’s hit a 30 year low against the US dollar, and that 2.08 Trillion USD has been moved away from the  world’s stock exchange markets.  The black hole of economics!  Who has moved all of this money?  Nobody in the news is asking this question.  The Rothschild family, the Rockefeller Foundation?  Most probably.  Their network is not so small, and I’m sure there was a lot of preparation beforehand to move money away from the stock market and move it back into the banks.  In my mind it’s not such a big deal for me, since I haven’t invested in the stock market in many years.

Anyhow, back to the nitty gritty of my blog post.  A month ago, I was asked to do the French to English translation of a social science book that dealt with the Europe’s response to the NSA and the Snowden files.  Would have been an interesting book to finish up and put on my roster of translated books, but the book publishing house, which is based in London, was wanting to pay me a rather low British Pound rate per page.   The project would of been due at the end of this month.

Realizing creating a lean startup business for the translation industry requires quite a few skills.  Think I like considering all these aspects though.  Much more interesting than sitting at the desk of a humdrum LSP doing only one task.

Thanks for my fellow teammates for giving me advice and feedback on this project.  Turns out my initial hunch and gut feeling was correct.


Demonyms of Fictitious Place Names

I still think Wikipedia is a great reference website, even though most of my teachers kept strongly dissuaded me on making us of it.  It can always be used as a starting point to find things.  For example, my latest translation work deals with fictitious place names. How should I translate the French version of a place name like Urbia? What to call their residents? Urbians? That seems simple enough. Other place names might not be so easy.


Anyhow, looking up “Demonyms” on Wikipedia has given me a better idea on how to choose a proper sounding words.   The term, obviously has nothing to do with “demons”, although some of the residents of these fictitious place names in the book I was working on, seem to have the typical traits of  evil spirits.  Demo- comes from the Greek word that means populace, and -nym simply means name.

The wiki page gives good examples, and I simply follow the pattern that’s nicely presented on their page. Examples of tricky place names are: Lilliput, Narnia and Oz. They even provide the example used in the Star Trek place name Qo’noS, where those war-loving Klingons apprently live, but that was simply up to the writer(s) to decide on.

Glossary of Technical Sci Fi Terms

Currently working on the translation of a Sci Fi novel that was originally written in French.  Really like the authors take on the future.  Cannot name the writer just yet, since the book is in the process of being published in French.  Hopefully the budget will be decent enough to help her translate the English version.

The Storyline kind of reminds me of the RPG game GURPS™.   Steve Jackson, who created the GURPS world, really knows science and where it might be heading.

Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games
Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games


Here a glossary of technical terms that he uses in his stories:


allele: One of the alternative forms of a gene in a particular position on a chromosome. For example, a gene influencing eye color will have “blue,” “brown,” and other alleles, with each organism possessing one of the options.

amino acid: An organic compound that is an essential component of protein molecules, and thus of life as we know it.

antibody: A protein made by the body’s immune system to attack and neutralize foreign bodies such as microbes or viruses.

antigen: A substance that triggers the immune system to produce antibodies.

apoptosis: The normal death of a cell that has reached the end of its useful life. This is a normal and healthy process, as opposed to necrosis.

archaea or archaebacteria: An ancient form of microbial life, related to but distinct from bacteria.

bacteria (singular: “bacterium”): A class of single-celled organisms. There are countless species of bacteria.

bacteriophage (“bacterium eater”) or phage: A small virus which only infects a particular species of bacterium. Can be used to insert new DNA into a bacterium.

base: One of the molecular “letters” in the genetic code, which combine into pairs and then connect in long chains to form DNA.

B-cell: A type of white blood cell that binds to foreign microbes, tagging them for destruction by the immune system.

biomimetics: Engineering designs that are patterned on or inspired by living things. bioprocessing: Using bacteria, gengineered plants and ani- mals, or other biotech processes in manufacturing.

biotech or biotechnology: A set of biological engineering techniques, such as biomimetics, bio- nanotech, bioprocessing, cloning, gengineering, and transplants, applied to research and product development.

blastocyst: A very early stage of a developing embryo, with only 32-64 cells.

cell: The smallest part of an organism that is capable of independent function. Cells are microscopic entities that consist of a nucleus and various organic and inorganic components, surrounded by a membrane.

chimera: An organism created by fusing together the cells of blastocysts of different species; a cruder form of blending traits than germline gengineering.

chirality: The property of molecules having mirror-image variant forms. Normally only one chiral variant is utilized by biology.

chromosomes: The self-replicating structures within cells on which the genes are located.

cloning: The technique of asexually producing a group of cells or complete organisms, called clones, which are all genetically identical to a single ancestor.

cryonics: The practice of freezing the dead in hope that future science will be able to revive them.

deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): The double-helix-shaped molecule that encodes genetic information.

diploid: Having two copies of each chromosome. Most plant and animal cells are diploid, but produce gametes by cell division without chromosome division, resulting haploid cells that combine to form a diploid zygote.

DNA: See deoxyribonucleic acid.

electrolyte: A liquid solution of ions such as sodium or potassium. Most liquids in the body are electrolytes. enzyme: A protein that serves as a chemical catalyst, accelerating the rate at which a biochemical reaction occurs. eugenics: The study or practice of human improvement through genetic control or genetic engineering. eukaryotes (“true nucleus”): Organisms whose DNA is surrounded by a membrane and which possesses organelles. Eukaryotes are a “superkingdom” of life forms that include most terrestrial plants and animals other than bacteria.


gamete: A male or female reproductive cell (sperm or ovum). These combine during fertilization to form a zygote.

gene: A sequence of DNA nucleotides, located in a particular spot on a particular chromosome, that encodes a specific instruction to a cell.

gene-cloning: The process of duplicating genes inside modified bacteria.
gene therapy: Genetic engineering performed on a fetus, child, or adult to repair defective genes.

genetic engineering or gengineering: Deliberate manipulation of DNA and genes in order to alter an organism’s genome.

genetics: The study of the patterns of heredity, the traits that an organism inherits from its ancestors.

genome: All the genetic material carried by individuals of a given species, containing the molecular instructions for inheritable features.

genotype: The specific genome of an individual; the combination of alleles the individual carries.

germ cells: The basic reproductive cells of a multicellular organism; see gamete. germline gengineering: Genetic engineering of the germ cells so that an organism will develop in a different way than its unmodified genome would have indicated.

haploid: Having only one copy of each chromosome. Fungi and some algae are haploid organisms. Plant and animal gametes are also haploid.

hormone: A protein that acts as a chemical messenger within the body. There are many different hormones, each with its own function.

in vitro (“in glass”): Taking place outside a living organism, usually used when referring to “test tube” fertilization or to the process of growing an organism in an artificial womb, clone tank, etc.

intron: A segment of DNA within a gene that does not code for protein sequences and that is edited out when the gene is expressed. Introns may have regulatory or structural uses.

ligase: An enzyme that can rejoin DNA fragments together, used as a tool in genetic engineering.

microbe: A single-celled organism, like a bacterium or alga. Usually microscopic, but colonies of single-celled organisms can be large enough to see.

mitochondrion (plural: mitochondria): An organelle that converts organic chemicals into a usable energy supply. It also contains DNA, separate from the chromosomes, inherited through the female line.

monoclonal antibody: An antibody grown in a cloned cul- ture, producing usable amounts of identical antibodies.

nanomachine: A microscopic organic or inorganic robot, usually cell-sized or smaller.

nanotech or nanotechnology: An emerging technology based around the manipulation of atoms and molecules using microscopic machines. In biotechnology, nan- otech promises the ability to precisely manipulate cells and genes.

necrosis: The abnormal death of cells, caused by injury or infection.

nucleotides: The basic molecular subunits of DNA or RNA. Thousands of nucleotides make up DNA molecules; their sequence determines the genetic code and the function of each gene.

organelle: A structure bound by the cell membrane in eukaryotic organisms, such as the mitochondria.

pathogen: An organism (usually a microbe) or chemical that causes a disease. PCR: See polymerase chain reaction.

peptide: A short chain of amino acids, which may combine with other peptides to form a protein.

phenotype: The expression of a genotype in physical features of an organism. plasmid: A ring-shaped structure of DNA, found in bacteria.

polymerase chain reaction (PCR): A means of rapidly copying DNA using specialized enzymes and equipment.

prion: A pathogenic protein capable of “hijacking” cells to produce copies of itself. Prions can produce various brain diseases such as BSE (“mad cow disease”) and kuru (“laughing sickness”) as well as pathologies of aging and senility.

protein: A large molecule made up of long chains of amino acids. Proteins are formed by cells as directed by their genes, and are the basis for the structure and function of living things. There are countless different kinds of proteins, each with its own specialized function.

protozoan: A single-celled microscopic animal somewhat more complex than a bacterium.

recombinant DNA: The basis of genetic engineering, this is the technology of cutting DNA molecules into discrete pieces and recombining them with other DNA molecules to form new genes.

ribonucleic acid (RNA): A chemical similar in structure to DNA. One type, messenger RNA (mRNA), relays the orders from genes to the molecular machinery of cells, while other types perform other roles. Because of its ability to tell a cell what to do, RNA is a primary tool of gengineers.

ribosome: Parts of the cell’s molecular machinery, these are “factories” that create proteins under orders from the genes.

RNA: See ribonucleic acid.

telomerase: An enzyme that increases the number of telomeres on the ends of achromosome.

telomere: A member of a repetitive DNA sequence at the end of a chromosome that serves as a buffer against incomplete copying.

tissue engineering: The design of artificial organic tissue. transgenic: A transgenic organism is one that has genes added to it from outside its original species.

virus: A non-cellular biological organism that can repro- duce only within a host cell. Viruses consist of RNA or DNA covered by protein. RNA viruses are especially useful tools for gengineering.

zygote: A cell formed when two gametes combine in sexual reproduction. Zygotes grow into blastocysts, embryos, and ultimately adult organisms.