21 Totally Useless Facts

Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child  reaches 2 to 6 years of age. 

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds. 

If you are an average American, in your whole life, you will spend an average of 6 months waiting at red lights.

A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.  

It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open. 

A snail can sleep for three years. 

Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer. 

Butterflies taste with their feet.

If the population of China walked past you, in single file the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.  

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.  

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.  

Peanuts are one of the ingredients in dynamite. 

The Bible does not say there were three wise men; it only says there were three gifts. 

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

There are more chickens than people in the world.  

Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur. 

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance. 

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.  

Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks; otherwise it will digest itself.  




Teaching English in a Foreign Country

America might not be as influential in the world as it used to be. The times when ‘Coca Cola’ stood for a whole culture have long gone. And economically the US is still the biggest economy, but serious competitors have entered the scene, like China, for example.

England used to be a world power, but that is something you’d find in history books by now. However, both countries have left their imprint on the world as we know it, and that’s why we find that English is still the most important language in the world, in terms of its use and by how many people speak it.

German, the language of war, French, the language of diplomacy, and English for all there is under the sun. Foreigners meeting abroad try English first when they want to communicate; it is not at all uncommon to find two German tourists in the Czech Republic starting to talk English to each other until they find out that they are from the same country.

But most importantly English has been, is now and most likely will continue to be the language of commerce. This is why students all over the world, be it in Latin America, Africa or China, want to learn English. Their job prospects increase dramatically when they can show in their curriculum that they speak English. And this is why there are always openings for English teachers all over the world.

The market for teaching English as a second language has become kind of crowded of late, to say the least. More people want to learn it, and more Americans or other English speakers want to teach it. This is one interesting aspect of that particular market: you have a good chance of getting into it even if you don’t have prior experience as a teacher.

I’m not referring here to teaching jobs as let’s say a second grade teacher in a private school. There you will be asked for qualifications. I’m referring here to commercial institutes that cater to the needs of foreign and multinational companies that want to teach their staff to answer a fax in English, or attend to some supervisor in the home office.

Mind you, the times where it was just enough to be American in order to land a teaching job have long gone. You will have to meet certain requirements, but they are relatively easy. For one, you have to be ‘teach-able’. That means that most serious institutes around the world want motivated and skilled staff, and are willing to send them initially through a training program of their own.

Since staff turnover in these institutes is pretty high, they want to recover what they invested in your training by paying you a low salary first. Since most people drop out after a couple of month that makes sense for the language school. But you can be pretty sure that if you hang in there and do a good job, you will a. be allocated more classes, and therefore more pay, and b. your hourly rate will go up.

It’s not absolutely necessary, but it does help a lot if you have experience in general business matters, or if you have worked in a corporation yourself. Because you will find that your students are not so much interested in learning English, but to improve their communication skills. There is a fine difference. If they’re able to service a client better because of their command of English, that gives them a better standing with their company and better prospects for promotions. And if you as the teacher can focus on those phrases that are used in negotiations, for example, or in sales presentations, that would help both you and your students. But again, it’s not absolutely necessary.


Using 'AutoSaving'

A nasty thing that can happen while you are working on a translation is for your computer to crash. Depending on how much of your work you have saved previously you might lose a good chunk of your translation. Imagine you have been hammering away for the past 90 minutes, and a storm knocks out your power supply - it's extremely frustrating to do the same job over....

In Word there is a setting called 'autosaving' where the document you are working on saves itself every X minutes. You can adjust it by going to Tools>Options>Save Tab> and then select "Save Autorecover Info" every X minutes. I suggest you select 10 minutes. This way, should your computer crash, you lose a maximum of 10 minutes of your work.

You can do it as well manually by pressing "Control S", which works for most programs you might be working with.


#translationtip Back Up Your Files

It's a fact of life, computers do crash. Or they get attacked by a malignant software or a virus.

Now, imagine you are working on a dissertation, written by a Mexican student in Spanish. She is applying for a scholarship at a renowned English university to do a master, and you are translating her work into English.

There are a total of 60 pages, you are halfway through and 'bang' - your computer crashes. AND you forgot to back up your files...........

You don't want that to happen to you, believe me. You might have lost there 20 hours of work, and you have to start all over.

So always make copies of your documents (the originals and the translations), and make them OUTSIDE your PC. What I mean is keep those copies on a floppy disc or a USB stick. That way if your computer does crash it at least doesn't make you lose all the time and effort you have invested until that point.


Ask to see the text before accepting a job

I once translated a series of letters that were written at the beginning of the 20th century. They were sent from Indonesia to Germany, by a German lady working as a missionary.

When I was approached for the job the first thing I did, before anything else, was to ask for sample letters. My client scanned them and sent them to me via .pdf files.

The letters themselves were of a personal nature, so there weren't any technical or legal terms to deal with.

However, they were hand-written, and at times illegible.

So even though the material itself represented no challenge (they were written, after all, in my mother language), I had to invest a lot of time literally deciphering whole passages, and sometimes deducing the meaning of words through context.

When pricing the job I had to obviously take into account the time it would take me not to translate, but to read the original.

My suggestion here is that you NEVER accept a job unless you have seen beforehand what it is about.     


Set Up Your Computer Monitor

Working as a translator you will spend a lot of time in front of your computer monitor.

That can take its toll on your eyes (they may start to hurt), or you might get a headache. It's therefore imperative that you adjust your monitor's settings to a level that's comfortable for you.

By default everybody seems to view black text on documents with white background. That makes sense if you want to print out the document, since color cartridges are pretty expensive. But that doesn't mean that you have to work with a setting like that.

Your eyes might like it better when they work with white text on blue background, or a green background with a yellow text. Find out, experiment.

The process might take time, but remember, you have to do it only once.