Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Am I qualified?

“Hi” says my team “just to warn you, I've only been interpreting for one year now. I graduated from my ITP a few years ago”. This is said at a community meeting with political representatives doing the lectures. Everyone talking is a well educated professional, wearing a suit and tie.

This is an all too common occurrence. Upon arrival the terp realizes they should not be there. Now comes the blame game. Who's fault is it?  Are interpreters required to inquire on every job they take?  I have eleven different jobs this week. I don't have time to call every POC to get the details on the job. Then to take that information and determine my qualification for that position. By the time you realize you’re not the right fit, all other work on that day goes away

Should you ask the agency booking you?  By the time you go back and forth and determine it's ok, someone else has taken it. Asking for information on every job means you're the pain in the butt. This results in people not wanting to work with you.

What is the solution to this?  For me it is to make sure I am qualified for any job thrown my way.  But that is an unreasonable request to make.  Another solution is to work with a mentor, they can help you navigate the field to help you determine based on the dearth of information, whether or not you are qualified.

My solution is to assign a grade to the agencies I choose to work with.  I base their rates on how much additional work i need to do to prepare for and get paid for assignments.  The more information I receive up front the better their rating is.  The easier it is to get paid on the back end, the better their grade is.  The higher I rate the agency, the lower I charge them.  My rates range from $60/ hour up to $150/ hour.

Future posts will deal with working with agencies or not. Is it required and what does it mean.

A New Focus

I have given up traveling for a while and decided to focus my efforts on the educational needs of my community.  I will be posting on three main topics here:

  • Deaf Education
  • ASL (American Sign Language) fluency, development, linguistics
  • Interpreting

Hopefully you will find some insights and wisdom here not available from other sources.  In addition to my work here I will continue to post in various community forums to engage in a dialogue with others in these fields.

Friday, July 29, 2011

First day in France

I’m in France for almost three weeks. Today with my Father and Aunt I visited Mont Saint Michel about 90 minutes outside of Granville France. It’s important to understand my first exposure to Mont Saint Michel to truly grasp the significance of today’s events.

The first excursion I took overseas that I was old enough to begin to appreciate was to Europe with my father and sister when I was 9 years old and my father was close to the age I am now, he was 38. At that time we visited many locations but for some reason Grandville plays a central role in my memories. Perhaps it was watching my drunk 13 year old sister attempt to throw our passports into the ocean while yelling “it went boom in Granville” (FYI the boom was referencing a bird that was hit by a car in the road. I know, its complicated). I guess it could have been our departure from Granville when everyone on the little boat (including crew) got violently ill. Well everyone except me and one other boy my age. We spent the trip ducking and dodging projectile vomit shooting across the deck. (sorry for that visual Yo). It was like a game. Maybe it was this magnificent monastery (looks like a castle) set on an island, that is only an island at high tide.

I remember this place was so cool to a 9 year old boy. You walk up stone covered pathways to visit large pillared rooms. The Monastery looks like a castle

build with an eclectic mixture of Gothic , classic, and a bunch of other architecture. Before you ask I don’t think 9 year old me knew the word eclectic maybe Gothic, but he is not writing this, I am, so deal with it. To a 9 year old this

place looks like a castle (I found out only today it was not actually ever a castle) so I will refer to it as a castle because, I like that better. The cool thing about this castle is during high tide the place is completely surrounded by water. I imagine it is probably brackish tidal water. During low tide the water recedes and you are left with a wet sandy plain that stretches for miles. All around the castle there are signs posted about the dangers of the quicksand on the sandy plains.

After touring the castle I remember looking down on the plains and out about 2 miles was this other tiny little island. Then I saw something that stayed with me since that day. Even to this moment I can still picture this image clearly in my mind. As I peered over the edge I saw a woman walking. She was the only person out there and she was just walking across this quicksand field of death all by herself. Immediately I wanted to join her.

Did I mention I was 9 years old? Being 9 means sometimes other people get to make decisions for you, even if they are silly decisions based on their own fears and mortali

ty. What I am trying to say is both my dad and my sister were able to restrain me from running down through the castle and onto the quicksand field to join her. Instead I resigned myself to be the last witness to her imminent demise. I found out today it is only 4 miles round trip to the second island. Her sojourn could not have taken more than an hour and a half. To a 9 year old though, I sat and watched her face death with confidence at every step for hours and hours. I remember thinking that some day when I was older I would be brave enough to venture out into the unknown as this lone brave warrior woman did. (Actually, I think she was British with the funny hat and walking stick but warrior sounds more romantic here).

Back to present day. I woke up at 5:30 am (about an hour before my alarm went off) and decided to explore Granville by taking a run. We had walked the city last night when I arrived so this morning would be dedicated to the less touristy areas. I did a quick 5 miles and I think I got a feel for what the neighborhoods looks like. It is a quaint city with definite charm. It seems the entire city is just one big jumble of ups and downs on a cliff side. Makes for a great run.

We hopped on a bus to Mont Saint Michel. We had your typical bus driver who knows the secret spots and doubles as a tour guide on occasion. He gave us some good tips about the back way up to Mont Saint Michel to avoid the crowds. He gave good advice. Today there were a multitude of school children in workshops at the base of the castle on the sandy plains. For the most part they were remaining in close proximity to the castle (yes I still refuse to accept it is a monastery). I coaxed my dad and aunt into walking down to where the school children were playing (obviously it’s safe there because the kids are there). I could feel the urge to run, building in me despite the 5 miles I had done in the morning. I handed my phone and wallet to my dad and told him I would meet him at this spot in a few minutes. He began to raise objections but it was too late. I was off.

It’s hard to explain, unless you are a runner, the immediate feeling I felt of joy and exhilaration. My face split from ear to ear in a smile and laughter escaped my lips. The wide open space, the lack of boundaries, and the feel of my legs working effortlessly to propel me forward, were a rush to say the least. My plan was to run a few hundred yards then turn around, just to say I ran on a quicksand riddled plain. Then I saw a group or horses up a head about a mile. I had to check it out. When I reached the horses, I saw tour groups on the sand even further out, I had to check them out. After a while I had run past every group out there and I found myself at the island. The very same island my warrior woman of 26 years ago had walked to. What I felt was a quiet accomplishment of a life goal I’d not realized I had set, until this moment. I did jump around a bit in celebration. It may have looked odd but since I was the only one there, It was the normal thing to do as accepted by majority vote. Then I turned and ran back to the castle that’s not a castle.

I have a habit of just doing stuff like this that may seem dangerous to others but to me the risk seems minimal. Let’s look at it logically, I am still alive, therefore the perceived risk must be higher than the actual risk. I have to admit I have been previously entrapped by quicksand up to my waist but, I lived to tell about it. On this jaunt I avoided the stuff as much as possible. Unfortunately, my father has been witness to several of my excursions of this death defying nature. When I found him, he was staring out over the plain searching for me. Turns out he had me in his sights until I made it to the island, then he lost me and lost hope. Poor guy has not figured out yet, I am immortal.

The rest of the day was touring the Monastery and taking a train to Paris. After my accomplishment of the morning, everything else seemed to pale in comparison.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally

So I made it to DC in case you were wondering. I have been here for
several days now.

I'm at the:

Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally

Right now. It's a ride through DC originally established after the
Vietnam war to bring attention to the POW/MIAs. It has since turned
into a support the troops ride. The first year there were 2,500
riders. This year they expect in excess of 250,000 riders and I'm one
of them!!

The people here are hard core cool! A couple of guys have set up a
lean to tent with their bikes and are sleeping now. The ride started
at noon but we are in the back of pack so we have not moved at all.

Jane and Joe to my right rode up from southern VA. Actually Joe drove
the truck and Jane rode the bike up. I love it!! They told me about a
ride down to Venezuela where they were headed through a mountain pass
to the city of La Jolla. They came around a corner and saw a group of
people lined up against the mountain. National guard were holding them
at rifle point. J&J just kept on going. Man that would be scary!!

Francois and Steve are on my left. One owns a Harley touring bike and
the other a Honda Goldwing Touring bike. We spent an hour comparing
the various gadgets and gizmos. Turns out they have the same cool
stuff just in slightly different places.

In front of me is Mark and his wife "Miss Fairfax county 2010". They
have invited themselves to join me on my ride back to LA. Well mark
did, the wife said hell no. We exchanged emails. I'll see how that one
pans out.

This is my first motorcycle rally ever. It is by far the coolest thing
I've ever done on my bike. Thanks to my friend Cox (cool name I know)
for telling me about it.

I wish you could all be here to join me and enjoy this with me. Since
you're not, live vicariously through me !!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 4 : Make Sure You Buy the Right Gear

653 miles today. Longest day yet. Tough ride but the end is in sight.

I was planning on regaling you with tales of mental math and how much
work this trip has been. Instead of all that, I will share only a
single tale with you. When I realized what happened, I laughed out
loud in the middle of a gas station.

In case you are not aware. The gas (throttle) on a bike is on the
right hand grip. You twist it to give the bike more gas. The left hand
is used only occasionally but if you want to keep going, the right
hand must be on the grip. This means, the right hand gets,
potentially, a lot more weather exposure.

Someplace before flagstaff I lost one of my snowboard mittens. It must
have flown out of my bag on the road. I was bummed because these are
my favorite snowboard gloves and they were my rainproof hand gear for
this trip. Of course I lost only one, the right hand one.

Luckily there was a big 5 sporting goods store across the street from
my hotel. I stopped by on my way out of town. This late in the year,
they did not have any snow gloves left. I settled on some neoprene
diving gloves. They seemed warm enough, and proved to be so today. I
tossed them in my bag and left flagstaff.

Now fast forward to today. I've been racing the weather this whole
trip and it finally caught up to me. I was freezing cold and miserable
but I really wanted to keep going. I stopped to put on all my rain
gear and hopefully warm up a bit. Still shivering and now covered with
multiple thick layers of clothes I went to don my gloves for the first
time. I pulled the left one on and reached down to pick up the left

No, that's not a typo. I had bought two left gloves in flagstaff. This
coupled with my remaining original left glove gives me a total of
three left hand gloves when all I really needed was a single right
hand glove. It was at this moment that I started laughing. It was one
of those deep earthy belly laughs. As I am typing this, I'm still

I ended up wearing a left hand glove backwards on my right hand and
completed the ride in relative comfort. It's always fantastic to get
to exercise practical problem solving skills.

360 miles to go tomorrow.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 3 on a motorcycle

I went 598 miles today and arrived in Little Rock.

I've not had a motorcycle in a while and I've only done this long
distance thing once before so I'm not well versed on the norms and
oddities of the road. In another blog I talked about the wind being
the single most challenging and demoralizing factor in riding a
bicycle. Then last night I confided in a dear friend my realization
that the wind is in fact "the enemy of all things on two wheels"

This morning after three hour of riding, I was ready to quit. I was
tired and sore and my mask was damaged in an annoying, insatiably
tickling my nose, way. I'd been riding at a 45 degree angle all
morning, just trying to hold a straight line against the wind. Every
time I passed a semi truck (seriously if those huge things are
semi=1/2 then what's full?) I had to wrestle my bike to keep from
careening down the freeway end over end. Then the most glorious thing
happened as I was filling up for gas... "How'd you like that wind this
morning, boy that was hell wasn't it? I hate it when that crap pops
up" said the leader of the group of bikers filling up next to me. He
was talking to me FYI. I was pleasantly surprised, I guess I just one
of the gang.

With that single statement I was vindicated in my frustration,
exhaustion , and despair. It wasn't just me, all the bikers hate it.
Best of all, it was NOT normal. We regaled each other with our
severely diminished MPG (I was getting 23, they had 27. Doing 85 did
not help mine).

I wonder if it's normal to have wind like that in the plains and
desert and not in the forested areas. Would be cool to see norming
tables on that data. Oops hard to play the role of hard core biker
dude when referring to potential meteorological norming tables on
seasonal winds. So just ignore this paragraph.

Those guys must have cast a magic spell with their words. After the
realization of the adversity sunk in, the wind was gone. The only
force pressing constantly on my body were generated by my movement of
85-90 mph. Happily these forces were orders of magnitude less than the
morning onslaught. It is surprisingly enjoyable to ride a motorcycle
in conditions like this afternoon. And silly me I wanted to give up
and buy a plane ticket.

***quiz time***

Q: name a type of person that initiates conversations with bikers.
A: Other bikers

Q: name a type of person that avoids conversations with bikers
A: everyone else

Next time you see a biker at a gas station be nice. Remember he may be
someone just like me (or me). Also its important to point out the
converse. Next time you see a biker at a gas station, be careful, he
be someone just like me.

Traveling alone on a bike is not scary. Think about it what are you
afraid of on the road? You're afraid of the crazy loaner bikers.
Honestly I'm probably the scariest thing out there.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 2

I have the most fantastic friends. Today was a glorious 606 miles. I
rode from Flagstaff, AZ to Amarillo, TX. Lucky for me Albuquerque was
on the way. I was not sure when I would arrive so I did not call ahead
to let my friends know. Instead I just pulled off the highway near
their house and sent a text message.