Solutions 2015: #January and #February

In order to motivate myself to revive my blogging journey I decided that I would try to post a summary of each month focusing on what solutions were found.

For the last year I have been in between different projects and making a living with freelance translations. The translating thing started for me in 2001 after I moved back from my MA Diplomacy studies in Paris to Riga and was not able to afford the luxury to work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia in a minimum wage job – that was not enough to cover regular living expenses.

I have been doing Latvian-English-French-Russian-Latvian translation jobs on and off since then with a longer break while I was working as the first and only Latvian Science Attaché to the European Union in Brussels (2004-2010). Even then, I did several translations for different science related events, as for example exhibition posters about Nanotechnologies back in 2008. Plus my daily job involved lots of translating too – just to remember French Presidency were documents were coming out mainly in French – and I was the only person that spoke fluent French in my ministry.

To come back to January and February 2015 – it was crazy busy with many challenging translation orders mainly for Latvian – French. I managed to successfully deliver my biggest ever job – 180 pages of an extremely technical and difficult text in the field of IT, telecommunications.

Riga Dome Cathedral - January 2015
Riga Dome Cathedral – managed to take a little Christmas walk break

Solution regarding planning and time management:

  • When you have a bigger project with a deadline that at first seems reasonably long enough in the future, make sure that the planning of your schedule is not only day-by-day, but hour by hour.
  • Figure out a way to make sure that you have results at the end of each day.

In this example – I agreed to deliver parts of translation being done every day by 5pm. Even if at first I did not like this being imposed by the client, it helped me to organize myself and actually be focused the whole month on a regular basis.

Up until now, I had the tendency to meet deadlines with crazy working hours shortly before the end date. We all know how it is – we all have done it.

self-made trouble
Translation of the text on the wall from Latvian: self-made trouble

The solution is to avoid creating self-made troubles.

Make the plan that is reasonable, and stick to it! If you do not have a client (or a boss) asking for a daily update of the project you are working on – make an agreement with yourself that each day you will deliver some parts of the job. Make a short follow-up each day. This will avoid stress and definitely improve the quality of your work, as you will have more time to review and improve your work.


Why I will vote this time? Because regardless the fact that for years now I have the feeling of disappointment and not belonging to my country. I still say “my country”. That means that I care. That I would like to see Latvia – independent, democratic, prosperous, a country that cares for its people and where there is a true rule of law and justice.

No, I have no hopes that this parliament (Saeima) and the new government will succeed or will be better than previous 11 ones since our independence in 1991, but I feel that this time more than before my vote will count because of geopolitical situation and possible threats to our independence. I still hope that my vote will provide opportunity for someone to decide, to take responsibility, to adopt policies that will change what is wrong and put in place laws that protect people. [Or not.]

But not going is not an option this time.

seeing red
seeing red

things to learn from CATS (part II)

My cats surprise me every day and here is the list of things that I suggest you learn from them (with a bit of smile):

1. Sleep deep.

2. Make every step in a new territory carefully.

3. Eyes wide open to learn new things.

4. Don’t get extremely wet if it rains or somebody turns on shower without you noticing.

5. Make them (humans) earn your trust and respect.

6. Drink milk (with moderation).

7. Go hunting with passion and excitement.

8. Play wholeheartedly and have fun for real.

9. Keep yourself clean at all times.

10. Don’t watch too much TV.

11. Get as much caressing and love as you need.

12. Play with your tail – don’t take yourself too seriously.

13. Talk only when you have something to say.

14. Move like a tiger.

And here they are inspiration to this list:



Tunisia – our home (part I)

It has been six months since we moved to live in Tunisia. And the time has been so busy and full of events, that only now I have some time to start a series of posts with my observations and impressions about our new home: Tunisia.

We arrived here shortly after “jasmin revolution” and had an excellent chance to witness all the good times and not so good ones that Tunisia and Tunisians had to go through to arrive to this week.

In just three days people will go to elect their representatives for “la Constituante” – democratic political institution (similar to parliament) that will be responsible for drafting and adoption of the new constitution. It is a very important task for those who will be trusted by their poeple. And all I can wish  to them and to the voters – make your decisions based on true analysis and with responsability, serve your country proudly!

This will be a very important Sunday and most likely the one that you will tell your children and grandchildren about. Comming from a “post revolution” (Latvia gained independence in 1991) myself I can observe many similarities with what Tunisia is facing this year, but one thing I can tell for sure – those who will go to vote on 23 of October will be making history and historical decision for themselves, their families and loved ones and for Tunisia.

Best of luck!


wordpress replaces e-mail

Couple of days ago I was asked to send someone special a handwritten note. Well, there is a longer story behind it but that is not so important right now.

The problem is that we don’t live in the same continent, so mail would take far to long and I decided to go with the e-mail option. First, we checked that our e-mail accounts “like each other” and it all went fine. But right now I was sending my handwritten notes as attached photo files (not extremely big ones) and to my big surprise “non-delivery” report without any explanation (on the other side it is a Latvian e-mail service provider) came back to my hotmail.

So, I decided that I will use WordPress and my blog and will just include those two handwritten notes here as photos!

Here you go, my dear Kni, I hope I get at least some prize for innovative way to send you handwritten notes! and yes, I do like tea (the best would be 7 agrumes)

with greetings from Tunis, smsb

Will go to see Kni for a tea :)
Will go to see Kni for a tea


after I relax - "will go to see..."

on discussion culture in a post-soviet country

Dear readers,

Just wanted to shortly share with you my experiences on discussion culture in a post soviet country. Country I am talking about is my country of origin and the name is not so important right now.

The most important thing is to know – that discussion as such has never been a part of the soviet regime ideology or politics – so also was never part of the education system. Therefore even 20 years after independence you will always find people that have NO culture or understanding what a really democratic and free discussion is about.

The most pessimistic situation is once it comes to the social media and blogging and comments. Majority of people would leave anonimous comments and by using this “childish” shield then attack directly the person instead of discussing the problem.

Once faced with argumented and logical response that also shows how incorrect it is to attack the person instead of making comments about the topic they either don’t respond or get even angrier with fiew examples who actually start thinking and may be change (although I don’t really believe in this one).

I hope this might be useful for those of you who have to be faced with similar cases.

On my solutions how to overcome this issue – next time.

Greetings from Tunis,

excellent point of view
excellent point of view - kram tunisia by smsb


simple rule

This is a very easy and simple rule: when you have to do something that you don’t want (like) just do the first little step!

I am a freelance translator among other things. And sometimes I get to translate documents that I really don’t feel like translating. Nevertheless the deadline is agreed and the clock starts ticking (sometimes real fast).

I am working from home office now that is at the same time our kitchen, dining and living space. And we recently adopted two adorable cats. And I live in a very beautiful and touristic and welcoming town where sun always shines. So, you can only imagine how difficult it is to put my head on translations.

Today was one of those days. Really, really hard to get started and stuff continued to come up – travel to organize, calls to make, e-mails to answer, comments to make, news to watch, papers to read, coffee to make, cats to educate…non-stop distractions..

So what I did – I just did the first little step – which was to open that one file and the word. And it already felt better! Even if I did not too much. Somehow the fact that job is started makes the engine work I guess. 

And here I am – 2:26am (my computer is still on Riga time) and I am doing what needs to be done!

good night and good morning to you all, smbs


things to learn from CATS

We could learn things from cats:

Stretching after just waking up (and from time to time during the day)

Having a structured day plan – eat, drink milk, play, sleep a good three hours per day, eat again, drink water and play

Be curious about things around us – they can sit and admire just a shadow of a tree or flower or fix on a flying mosquito for un bon moment

Keep ourselves clean at all times

three cats I love stretching
three cats, I love, stretching

Sharpen our nails every day (well, maybe not every day but often enough to be ready to use them if need be)

Be friendly and nice to each other (at least my little ones – brother and sister are very kind to each other except of course the play time when teeth and nails are used quite a bit)

Stay calm just to relax without sleeping – stretched on the floor when it is really hot or sitting in a comfortable position 

Avoid trouble – mine are trained and know that the Trouble is on the table (where all our documents and electronics are) as well as n our bedroom (where they are not allowed)

To curl up and sleep (or just relax eyes half-open)

And last but not least – keep things simple!

how to deal with heavy/bad situations?

Finally as promised – post about on of my solutions – how to deal with heavy/bad situations?

First, let me clarify that I am just sharing with you some of the approaches I use or I have used in the past. And of course you have and will be using yours. So, I will be more than glad to read and learn from you.

But here is the deal. Bad/sad/heavy/problematic situations happen to all of us and may be even every day. If this would be a scientific paper first of all I would have to define what I mean by “heavy/bad” and “situations” and “to deal”. But I am happy that this is not the case of looking for proofs and the only right way to approach the problem.

hotel view
very good place to let the time go by


So therefore here are just some points and ideas on how I would do it:

– With time passing by I have realized that the best way to deal with something difficult is of course – the time. Even if the saying that “time cures all the wounds” might sound primitive it is indeed working and you all know that.

– The second quite opposite way – is to face the problems/dramas/losses as they come – to live them – kind of really be inside the whole deal and not to try to cover or forget or not to think about it.

Being inside might involve – to look for solutions right away – and the most important is then to have the whole picture – as many elements as possible gathered in front of you. And then to analyze everything – the facts, the observations, the feelings etc. and if possible to talk with somebody about it… talking is not necessarily looking for advise, but more like a sounding board option.

Of course the person you would use (not a really nice word, but I cannot find better one right now) must be “the Master” of listening. It is true that it is not easy to find somebody like that. You could for that purpose go to therapist (involves reasonable amount of funds) or record yourself talking or even better just write the whole rubbish down on a piece of paper. Preferably some nice and “welcoming” notebook or the most fancy letter paper and using your favorite pen or pencil (this just to make you feel better with this difficult task at hand).

– Once the facts are on the table, it is much easier to see the situation as if from a distance. I even try to look at the facts and see the funny side or better yet ironic side if the case is related to some problems at work, or with how other people react to what I do. It really helps – from feeling like crying and being desperate and sorry for yourself – most of the times I turn to having a good laugh and even imagining how the whole situation might look in a movie script format. It helps. Believe me. Especially the laughing bit.

– And then if there is nothing you can do about the situation to change it or solve it or improve it – then there is nothing you can do – and the next most difficult step is to “put a lid on it” and really do nothing.

– If it turns out that while having fun you think of something that might be done, write it down – all of the craziest ideas – from “let’s send him/or her a nasty e-mail and tell him/or her everything that I think about him/or her” to much easier one – “let’s just forget about him/or her” or even better one “let’s leave it be and come back and think about it tomorrow”. Writing down helps for those like me who have difficulty just sitting down and contemplating about things.

– So, when your are done with the list – either pick the best one of all the options and do it (still preferably next day) or keep the list – don’t do nothing, come back, check after some time and then decide whether you will be acting upon it or not. Just the fact that you have the list somewhere will calm you down in cases if the “bad situation” meant that you were really angry and ready to explode.

– Finally as I said – time in these cases is the best friend – and that of course is more likely to be the best solution. But nothing must be left suppressed deep down somewhere – no anger, no sadness, no feeling guilty, or betrayed or having lost something – all of these must come out – be faced and only then put away.

I hope this might help and you enjoyed reading it! Of course Sunday would not be the best day to do none of this but if you have to – then you have to – go for it! And remember to have fun if possible – not to cover up anything – get the facts together – see what action take or not to take – and then put a lid on the whole deal and start enjoying your day! I hope the sun is out because as I was writing here before – the sun helps to feel better no matter what!

With greetings SMSB

coffee helps
this is how your morning coffee should look like