Personal Subtitling

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No voice? No Worries!
Wouldn’t it be great if people had subtitles? It would save people having to learn new languages. It would also be handy for those times when you’re having trouble understanding what someone is saying. Like Closed Captioning for real life. And if you lost your voice? No worries! Your personal subtitling would spell out everything you were trying to say!
I think it’s a wonderful idea. In fact, I propose that someone invent a device to do just this. I’ve already played my part by coming up with the idea. Surely there’s some brainiac out there with the necessary means to make personal subtitling happen.

On the down side, personal subtitling could land you in a lot of hot water. Like if you accidentally left your subtitling on while whispering to a colleague about what a tool your boss is. Or if you were playing Chinese whispers. And it’s probably not very helpful for people who can’t read. Or are dyslexic. Or for when you’re on the phone to someone you can’t understand.

Still, it would be useful a lot of the time. So I’m offering this invention idea for free. Tossing it out into the world wide web so that some techno boffin (I love that word!) can stumble across it and invent a truly useful piece of technology. I'd be particularly pleased if Apple were to come up with this little knick knack - not because I particularly like Apple products, but because they're the only company who could get away with calling it the 'iUnderstand'.

International Talk Like A Pirate Day 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Every year 't comes along, an' every year I miss it on account o' I be too busy not bein' a pirate. But today I’ve done it. Today I’ve made history! I’ve remembered that it’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day, while it still be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

I thought I’d use this year’s TLAPD t' provide a helpful public service fer them o' ye who find ye’selves spendin' yer TLAPD all on yer lonesome.

Courtesy o’ the official Talk Like a Pirate Day website, I’d like t' share wi' ye the top ten pick up lines ye can use t' try t' score yersef a lass on September the 19th. So now ye can not only talk like a buccanneer, ye can hit on random strangers like one too!

10 . Avast, me proud beauty! Wanna know why my Roger is so Jolly?

9. Have ya ever met a man with a real yardarm?

8. Come on up and see me urchins.

7. Yes, that be a hornpipe in my pocket and I am happy to see you.

6. I'd love to drop anchor in your lagoon.

5. Pardon me, but would ye mind if I fired me cannon through your porthole?

4. How'd you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?

3. Ya know, darlin’, I’m 97 percent chum free.

2. Well blow me down?

And the number one pickup line for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day is...

1. Prepare to be boarded.

If that wasn't enough Pirate silliness for ye, why not try bloggin' like a Pirate? Or get yerself a Pirate name.
Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day everyone!

Remembering September 11, 2001

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It was getting late; just before 11pm, but I couldn’t sleep. Beside me, my boyfriend was already dozing. Restless and bored, I flicked on the TV, turning the volume right down so as not to wake him.

At first I thought I’d flicked onto a movie – the towering inferno or something. Then the text began to roll across the bottom of the screen: ‘Explosion reported at WTC in New York.’ Then moments later ‘Reports confirm a plane has hit the WTC’.

Gobsmacked, I watched as the tower smoked and smouldered. A hundred thoughts flickered through my mind all at once. ‘How could this happen?’ ‘Why was a plane that close to the city?’ ‘What’s going on?'.

Watching the smoke rise from the middle of the tower, worry began to creep over me, and new questions began to form.

‘Why isn’t anyone doing anything? Where are the lights and the sirens? Where are the firemen with their water hoses and their ladders? Why isn’t anyone doing anything?’

I kept asking myself these questions over and over. The tower smouldered and smoked and the world went on as though nothing was happening.

But of course they were there. Of course people were helping. But what could they do? Their hoses and their ladders couldn’t reach the 100th floor of a skyscraper. In my distant view of the towers, I couldn’t see the flurry of activity going on below. I couldn’t hear the noise of sirens and people. Here, thousands of miles away with the sound muted, all I could see was the lonely view of a skyscraper smoking steadily.

I suddenly felt myself flooded with a sense of complete and utter futility. I felt helpless, knowing that I was on the other side of the world, that I could see what was happening clearly - perhaps better than the people caged inside that concrete tower. That here, on the other side of the world, completely removed from the situation, there wasn’t a thing I could do. All I could do was watch.

And that’s what I did.

I watched. And as I watched, a second plane entered the screen. A tiny speck of a plane from the camera's distant point of view.

I watched as it crossed the sky, its destination obvious from the second it appeared. Even so, the surprise that racked me as it smashed into the second tower was jarring.

It was in that instant that my heart sank. In that brief and violent moment that stole the lives of so many people, my world changed. I could feel my heart sink; feel my innate feeling of safety slip away. Not only because I had just witnessed what I knew would be a huge loss of life, but for what I knew this meant. For how our lives were all going to change. Because as soon as that second plane hit, it was obvious that this was no accident. It was obvious that this was intentional. And that could only mean one thing as a result.


There was no way that a country as invested in self-defence as the USA would let this go by without some kind of retaliation; and who would expect them to? If that attack had happened on my own home soil, I know I would have wanted the same thing.

But here on the other side of the world, watching the horror unfold before me, I knew that this meant more than just war for America. It meant war for us. For me. It meant the ANZUS treaty being invoked. It meant more death, more fighting. It meant the end of feeling safe in my own home, in my own country.

Those close to the events may sometimes forget in their grief over the attack on their nation, but on September 11 2001, Al-Qaeda didn’t just launch an attack on the American people. They launched an attack on the free world. They knew what the result of attacking the USA would be. They knew that retaliation would come, and not just from those to whom they had struck a direct blow. They knew they were bringing retaliation from multiple countries upon themselves.

They knew, the same way that I did in the split second when that second plane hit, that this would mean war. And it meant more deaths, not just for other countries, but for their own.

And therein lies the secret to how truly evil these people are. They struck, knowing that it could only heighten the violence around them. Knowing that they weren’t just signing their own death warrants, but those of everyone around them.

All this knowledge hit me in the fleeting moment of the second impact, and it left me feeling breathless. I suddenly felt sick.

As I continued to watch the events unfold on TV, a deep and permanent worry set in – a niggling worry that is still with me to this day.

Disregarding my sleeping boyfriend, I turned the volume up, desperate to hear what was unfolding. The sound woke him and he joined me, unusually silent as we watched.

As reports of a plane hitting The Pentagon flashed across the screen, followed by the collapse of the first tower, it became too much. Distraught, I got out my phone and began to call my family. I needed to know they were ok, to hear in their voices that same concern that was growing in me.

Ten years is a long time to worry about your safety and the safety of the people you love. Ten years is a long time after an event to still be able to remember it as if it were yesterday. Ten years is a long time to still feel the terror of an attack like what happened on September 11, 2001. Terrorism that can span an entire decade is why that niggling worry deep within me will never ease. Despite the death of Osama Bin Laden, despite increased security around the world. The knowledge that there are people out there capable of things which I could never even conceive of has changed my life forever.

Today, ten years on, I can still feel what I felt that night. Today I remember the terror, the aching sadness. Today that worry that niggles at me has heightened. I worry that this ten year anniversary will mean more attacks. I worry about my friends who are scattered all over the world; my friends and family here at home. I will remember these feelings and I will carry them with me all day and all night, until the sun sets on September 11th all over the world.

This post is included over at The Neon Lounge on September 11th, 2001: Where Were You?. Head over there and check out a collection of posts from bloggers all around the US about where they were 10 years ago when it all started.

A Phone Call from Last Night

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Me: Hello?

Caller: Um………….ah……hi there!

Me: Hi.

Caller: This is John calling from *Insert random company name which I ignored*.

Me: Hi.

Caller: Um….Can you put mummy or daddy on the phone please dear?

Me: Excuse me!?!

Caller: Er……ahhh….oh! Are you the lady of the house?

Me: Ok, bye now.

Now I’m not sure whether to be flattered or offended at having someone think that I was a child.

I also think I missed a golden opportunity for a smart come-back to the ‘Can I talk to your mummy or daddy’ comment. Maybe I could have said “Sure! Have you got a pen? I’ll give you their number.”

Or, “Tell me John, Who’s your daddy?”.

Or I could have just said ‘Sure! Hang on a minute!’ and put the phone down and gone to watch TV.

Sadly, comebacks like this only come to mind after the fact.