Wednesday, July 21, 2010

San Diego Recognizes Klingon as Official Language

In a bold move, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has traded all of the English signage posted at Gaslamp Trolley Station for those written in Klingon.

Some may view this as a simple publicity stunt for the annual Comic Con held at the San Diego Convention Center, but others think it has a deeper meaning.

As mentioned, the English signs at the station have been removed. This forces transit users to either learn Klingon, or remain in the dark. Anti-Spanish language groups have been supporting this approach for years (although, with English signs).

By having Klingon as the only language at the station, San Diego has declared that Klingon is not only an officially recognized language, but one that it feels enough of its citizens and visitors are fluent in that it is the only one needed.
And since the United States has no official language, there is nothing forcing the MTS to post English signs.

As a San Diego native, I find this approach refreshing.

This is a major breakthrough for not only Klingon, but all conlangs. This is a major step down a very long road.

With official backing from the State, local California businesses can't be far behind.

Klingon translations were provided by Steven Boozer, Chris Lipscombe, and Michael Roney, Jr.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Australian Adventure - Thursday

Last day.

I met James and Tracy for my last breakfast down under: cereal and muffins.

Tracy was staying a few extra days on her own, so we said our goodbyes (and wrote a post card to Marc Okrand) and James took me to the airport.

SYD is setup differently than any other airport I have observed.
Instead of letting each airline have a permenent presence, they set-up shop just long enough to take care of business at any one of the identical ticket counters available.

So, three hours before my flight, I watched the Chinese airline take down their cardboard flight attendant, and United put up their signs.

Not armed, I made it through customes without a problem.

I had a random pizza, and picked up some final souvenirs.

Including a boomerang and a didgeridoo. Apparently wooden weapons and heavy, blunt objects are allowed.

During my 13 hour flight back to LA, I discovered thw the port for my headphones was busted.

Thanks, United

Without sound, I didn't feel the need to watch any movies.

Going through US customs at LAX was a breeze. And oddly, instead of keeping us in the airport, we ended up outside.

When I realized that I was about to exit the building, a rush of emotion washed over me; I was in California.
I was home.

I slowly stepped into the Californian air, taking in everything.

And then I saw it: sunshine. I saw the California sunshine on the other side of the road.

I couldn't resist.

I made my wa across the street and out of the shadows.

The light spilt over the buildings and onto my face. Oh! It was glorious.

It felt so good to be home. To feel the sun. To see the palm trees.

I wanted to stay. It was painful to leave. I had to rip myself away and force my body back inside the airport.

Standing in queue for security (again), it felt cruel to trap us inside, denying us the sensations just beyond the wall.

These thoughts were soon replaced by the realization that I could find Dr Pepper.

And eventually, I found some. At McDonald's... Um, sure.

That's all I purchased.

A few gate changes and slight departure delays later, I was on my way to Chicago.

With a working port, I plugged into the planes music stations.

The first few songs were quite appropriate.

An in-flight movie later, and I was almost home.

Starving, I found food and Dr Pepper.

And I finally figured out how to get a mobile boarding pass.

So for my last flight, I handed my Prē to the gate agent, she scanned it, and I boarded the plane.

The flight was only 30 minutes, not even enough for a drink service.

Which was fine by me. I was ready to be done with planes.

IND was almost empty when we arrived. And my bags were almost the first ones to show up.

My wife picked me up out front, and we went home.

My Austrailian Adventure - Wednesday

The day we came for.

The two main reasons for the trip:
1) Tour the cave--make script revisions
2) Record the script

I met Tracy and Dan for breakfast and enjoyed some corn flakes (with sugar) and some chocolate muffins.
(The muffins at Jenolan were better...)

Then we were off to the studio.

"We're in Austrailia. At a recording studio. About to record in Klingon."

Yeah, I spent a large portion of the trip in absolute amazment or disbelief.

Tracy did a fabulous job on the recording.

I was on the other side of the glass following along with the script to catch any slips of the tongue.

We made a few alterations to help the recording flow better.

When Tracy got to the section on Cave Rules, she really hit her stride.

((Dan likes listening to the rules in the different languages. He says that the French almost sounds apologetic, while the German means business. Our goal was to beat the Germans.))

Tracy really got into character during the rules, and just kept on going.

But when we got to Maryanne's section, she asked that it be calmed down.

After Tracy made a very weak-sounding recording, I made sure she punched it back up for the next session.

After the recording was done, we listened to it all the way through.
I wasn't listening for much beyond pronunctiation at this point, and was focusing on the script one syllable at a time.

Why does she sound so weak? I think I'm going to be sick. Oh, it's Maryanne's section.

Luckily, the weakness fades quickly.

But Marryanne is happy with it.

Amazingly, we finished hours ahead of schedule. Apparently even the English version took longer and had more mistakes.

So we went to lunch by the beach.

I had french toast, covered with powdered sugar and syrup.

And since we had extra time, we toured the Sydney Opera House.

That night, we had our celebration dinner.

At a steak & seafood restaurant.

Unknown to our hosts, I eat neither.

So I had the burger. And this time, the tomato sauce was perfect. Nice and rich.
And the chips? Just the way I like 'em, thick.

My Austrailian Adventure - Tuesday

A side-effect of inviting me down, was the ability to have a Klingon on-site for promotional photos.

Despite my efforts, I was unable to gather a group of local Klingons.

(Rohan, regardless of wether or not you own a KDF uniform, I apologize for not remembering you live in Austrailia.)

Fortunatley, mIl'oD, my ship's moral officer and mascot, also attended.

In uniform, I proceeded to breakfast.

Chocolate cereal again.
((Oh, and the morning before I also had two chocolate muffins.
They were out of such things this time.))

Then we caught up with Dan, Domino (Dan's wife), and James.

We headed back out to the Cave, audioguides in hand (promotional pictures for an audio tour need to include the audio guide...).

Mid-tour, Dan presented us with the Jenolan patch.
Domino pinned it to my cloak,
and James proclaimed "You are now a member of House Jenolan."

A great honour, indeed.

At one point, I jokingly lifted my audio guide and shouted "matlh, HIjolchu'!". This somehow resulted in the photo shoot turning into a video recording.

After Domino was done taking pictures, Tracy and I took over Dan's office to add our script revisions to the soft copy.

Lunch in the bistro was a ceaser sandwich. It was nothing like I expected yet totally deliscious.

Our time at the Caves was coming to an end, and so we hit the gift shop.

And then it was back to Sydney.
We had a Wednesday morning appointment at the recorsing studio.

The drive was extended due to scenic detours and stops--well worth it.

After checking into our hotel in the city, we walked to dinner.

Not sure what the place was called, but it was near the water.

Daring to be adventourous, I ordered the kangaroo.

And well, either the meat itself, or the sauce it was under doesn't like me.

It tasted okay--a bit too chewy. But my body refused to take more than two bites.

Eventually, I ordered a salad.

It was the most disgusting salad I have ever had--but it made me feel ten times better. I was grateful.

After choking down as much salad as I could, I had a wonderful slice of chocolate cake.

My Austrailian Adventure - Monday

I had assumed that I would sleep in.
Instead, I awoke before 8 am.

I found Tracy in the restaurant and we had breakfast.

I'm confused by anyone who serves mushrooms and tomatoes for breakfast.

I had chocolate cereal.

That out of the way, we went to go find the platypus.

((Despite the fact that we were told about three platypuses live in the area, everyone insisted on referring to "the platypus".))

And we found him.

Then we toured the waterway. Very peaceful.

We met up with Dan, and the three of us all grabbed a copy of my translation, an audioguide, and headed out on the tour.

The audioguides were more advanced than I had imagined. Thankfully, I was not forced to wear a headset.

I had spent the last few months translating 4,884 words. Despite this, I was not prepared for what I saw.
Words are not enough. You have to see it.

Tracy and I noted modifications to the script as we went. Dan made some helpful comments as well.

At one point, Dan pointed out that a certain section was Maryanne's favorite.
It's a flowery bit about the sun throwing its rays across the rocks. And the colours, and so on.

Dan noted that the Klingon seemed short.

I admitted that the section in question had caused more than one headache.
I also pointed out that Klingon has no word for "sun" or "colour" and that "red, orange, brown" are all one colour as well as "blue, green, yellow".
The paragraph was complicated.

He understod.

But as it was Maryanne's favorite, we would look over it again.

Lunch in the bistro was interesting.
"Tomato sauce" is almost like ketchup. But it wasn't for me. At least not that brand.

Tracy and I flushed out the script, and made some modifications here and there; and had an epiphany when we got to Maryanne's section.

After that was taken care of, we joined a tour of the Lucas Cave.

The tour guide even pointed me out mid-tour and requested several on-the-spot translations like "Cathedral" and "Home of the Tooth Fairy".


Dinner was in the restaurant again, this time with Dan, his wife, and their two children.

Mmmm... chocolate cake.

My Austrailian Adventure - Sunday

Just after six o'clock Sunday morning, I could see the shores of Austrailia through my window.

The plane circled a bay before landing at SYD.

((Much later, I studied a local map and discovered that we circled Botany Bay.
The S.S. Botany Bay is the sleeper ship that Khan and his genetically engeniered followers escaped on during the 1990's.
DNA from embryos from the same project that created augments like Khan is responsible for the smooth QuchHa' forehead seen in the 23rd century.
I was infected with the virus a few weeks ago.
The pilot was circling the bay as an insult.))

The first thing I tried to do was access the local Wi-Fi.

I managed to learn that SYD has two different providers, but didn't get far enough to actually connect.

I met up with Tracy and we proceded to customs while I continued looking into Wi-Fi.

Then we hit a sign that said no cameas or phones. *sigh*

Eventually, I handed my passport and a little form to an official.

The exchange went smoothly enough.

And then I bought $5 worth of Wi-Fi (Ah, the joys of a CDMA phone--no service in GSM countries) and wasted most of my 15 minutes.

Luggage was found, and currency exchanged--with a $10 fee attached...

And then we went through another customs check point.

I declared the food and knife in my luggage.

Long story short, I kept the food; they kept the knife.

I had brought my Daqtagh, a symbol of my personal honour, as well as the rest of my Defense Force uniform.

In the US, "costume laws" allow me to wear such a blade (or even carry a betleH) as long as I'm in costume and at (or traveling to/from) a related event.
The official stated that they did have such laws, but they were still going to confiscate the dagger.

This process took quite some time.

((Meanwhile, Tracy made it through customes without a scratch and found Dan standing with all of the limo drivers holding a sign labeled "Klingons". I hear he got a lot of looks.

After I didn't come out for a while, Dan remarked to Tracy "I hope they didn't confiscate his betleH."))

After all of the paperwork was resolved, they put me back in line to deal with whatever food I may have. But they failed to give me back the needed form.

After they figured out what happened to my form, they were so confused that they didn't ask me about the food--so I didn't tell.

Eventually, I made it out.

I found Tracy and Dan and informed them of the seizure, and they both looked over the stack of paperwork.

Dan assured me that we could get it back.

UPDATE:  I got an e-mail last night informing me that it should be on its way back by the end of the week!

And then it was off to the Blue Mountains in Dan's batmobile (his car has bats on it).

We stopped for breakfast along the way at a little restaurant? bistro? and I had my first Austrailian food: scrambled eggs, bacon, and some sort of bread with a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice.

I didn't recognize a thing.

But it was delicious.

Over breakfast I mentioned the superiority of webOS and Dan assured me that his iPhone was company-issued and that he wasn't a fanboi.

Hours later, we pulled off the road to find some kangaroos.

"I'm looking at a kangaroo. In Austrailia. Because I speak Klingon."
It was un-real.

The first thing you see when approaching Jenolan is their Grand Arch. I'm pretty sure it's the only cave in the world with a major road going through it.

Words do not do it justice.
(But please show up and take the audio tour ;-)

After making it through the arch, the view opens to take in the hotel and offices. Impressive indeed.

And cold. It's winter there.

Our rooms weren't ready, so Dan took us to his favorite cave, the Temple of Baal.


I don't know what I had expected, but this is a nice cave. And there's a rock that looks like bacon!

Finally, we got the chance to freshen up. We had been traveling for well over a day by then.

The rooms at the Jenolan House are quite nice. (I'll note here that they don't have TVs in the rooms--you won't miss it. There is a common TV room, though.)

I was even more impressed with the instantly hot water in the shower.
And all of the water in the hotel is local water that has been filtered through the surrounding limestone.

Mmmmm... limestone.

Dan had things to take care of, so James took over as host.

The three of us explored the Imperial Cave.


Tracy took several pictures of me in the Imperial Cave.

((I should have these pictures on Saturday.))

It is a very impressive cave. Even has a wine cellar.

And when we came across an undergound river, we were shocked by how clear it was. Absolutely amazing.

That night, the three of us met for dinner at the hote restaurant.

I can't pronounce the chicken dish that I had, but it was wonderful.

I followed it with chocolate mud cake.

((I was unable to find Dr Pepper. Austrailian Coca-Cola is made with sugar, unlike its American counterpart. However, to my pallet, it had a distinct artificial sweetner aftertaste. I drank water for most of the trip.
My wife informs me that Americans have more sugar in their food than other countries. Between this and the lack of soda, this partly explains why I followed so many meals with chocolate cake and why I always felt sugar-deprived.))

As James is in charge of the restaurant, we discussed ways for him to tie-in to the Klingon tour.
We discussed various Klingon food and drinks.

((As great as this trip was, I can't help but feel like I'm missing out.
In a few months, they'll have a Klingon tour, Klingon food, and hopefully a T-shirt. Wow!))

The day over, we retired for the night.
Sleep came easily.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Austrailian Adventure - Saturday

I departed LAX Friday, July 9th.
I arrived at SYD on Sunday, July 11th.

Somewhere in there, Saturday occurred for a few hours.

Feel free to stare at a map and comprehend the International Date Line.

My Austrailian Adventure - Friday

Friday, July 8th, I arrived at Indianapolis International Airport.

International‽ They only got me to Chicago!

But let's back up.

In March of this year I was contacted by a guy named Dan from Austrailia.
Apparently they have some famous caves ( ) down there and they want their self-guided audio tour to be in Klingon.


That time last year I was translating for England-based Sophos and produced a Klingon anti-virus.

And so things moved on.

I completed the translation and assumed that everything was over.


It's an audio tour.
It needs to be recorded.

I recommended qurgh.

Someone was going to be in the States late June and they would do the recording then.
But I still wasn't done. They wanted me to be present for quality control.

No one on their staff speaks Klingon, and if qurgh were to make a mistake, they wouldn't be able to detect it.

Allright. We live only a few hours apart. If they book a studio in Kentucky, it'll be a day trip.

And then things turned seriosly cool.

They couldn't fit the recording into their schedule.
Aince they couldn't come to us, they invited us to them.

We were going to Austrailia. To speak Klingon.


Unfortunately, qurgh was unable to make the trip.

So I sent them audio samples of two other Klingonists; they chose Tracy.

Back to July.

Tracy and I made our way from IND to ORD to LAX to SYD over the course of 21 hours.

Our seats were never close.

The flight from Chicago to LA was the longest I had ever been on.
They even played a movie!

And then there was the 13 hour flight to Sydney. Wow.
It was so long that they gave us food. (Yes, I have seen such things in the movies. But movies lie all the time.)

I fell asleep before we even left LA. Several hours later, I awoke.

What time is it? Where are we? I wondered.

Then I realized how unreal those questions were.
We were not on some road trip where you can point out a highway sign and X miles to city sign.

We were somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. There was no way to know where.

And what time is it where? In LA where we left? In Sydney where we're going? In the random time zone that we're passing through?
Surely there's not a "ship's time" to go on.
No, the time was also to remain an unknown.

Soon enough, the random TV show playing ended and a map was displayed; complete with all of the info I was looking for.

Thanks United.

Hours later, a stewardess walked down the aisle collecting "rubbish".

I knew we must be close. be continued...

Austrailia on a Dollar

Early January 2002, my friends and I walk into a Half-Price Bookstore.

In a small display, I found the audio cassette Conversational Klingon on clearence for one dollar.

"Wow! I can learn Klingon for a dollar!"

My friends and I proceeded to practically choke ourselves on the way home attempting to pronounce  [Q].

Flash forward eight years.

I just got back from Austrailia after supervising a recording of a Klingon translation that I completed for Jenolan Caves.

That was the best dollar I ever spent.

As I have the time, and as the mood hits, I shall record my expieriences abroad.

There were three cameras involved in the trip--I don't currently have any pictures of me. So I'll have to go back and add them as they come in.

As I am still (back) on my social network-free diet, please post all comments and questions on my blog, not on facebook or twitter.