Thursday, 27 January 2011

Is the problem solved?

Sometimes I despair of technology and bureaucracy, certainly in combination. My wife has cancer and things are looking bleak, but in the last year she has been sent from one department to another in Amsterdam’s large academic hospital, the VUmc. It took them more than a year to discover that her cancer was back. By then, much too late, she decided to return to Amsterdam’s National Cancer Institute (AvL/NKI) for further treatment. However that is not always an easy thing to do, certainly when CT, PET and MRI scans are involved along with the relevant equipment produced by Siemens - using Sectra software at the VUmc and using Carestream at the AvL. 
Repeatedly in the last few weeks we’ve been informed by one doctor after another at the AvL that they cannot peruse the scans they had received from the VUmc. These were the scans made while she was still attending the old hospital, and that are needed now to compare the state of the cancer now  in January and back then in October/November. So today we took another CD along with us and gave it to the radiology department at the AvL. However the AvL radiologist made it clear he was not going to look at the images on the scan because he couldn’t read them into his system. He could have looked at them using the viewer software provided on the CD, but this is second best. By making a nuisance of ourselves, we managed to find out that two major hospitals in Amsterdam – the AvL/NKI and the neighbouring Slotervaart Hospital are both unable to use CDs of scans sent by the VUmc. And vice versa. This has been going on since November, but the problem has still not yet been solved. Apparently Sectra has decided to wait for the next major release of their software before fixing this bug. But if the problem can't be solved on the spot, then think up a workaround. For instance, use the old Radworks (by GE Healthcare) to burn the CDs.  

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Marsh Award

Letters? No. I never get letters! Just before Christmas. It was a delightful shock. I was nominated for the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation. And now I won!

I got the invitation on Christmas Eve and read on the net that The Marsh Award “was founded to highlight the exciting books made accessible to young people in the UK through their encounters with works in translation”. I fully support the aims of the foundation in setting up this award.

It’s such a pity that so many in the English-speaking world know so little about the other languages and cultures. I have spent most of my working life making subtitles in English for Dutch films. That is also how I first came in contact with Toon Tellegen – subtitling an animated TV series of his stories.

I have always been convinced that film, spoken language and subtitling are an excellent cocktail to allow people to get inside a different culture. I think that is also why so many Dutch people, even young ones speak such good English. So I’d like to thank Jan Willem Looze of OJTV for introducing me to the work of Toon Tellegen

I would also like to thank David Bennett and Frances Elks of Boxer Books for the faith they put in me. The road was occasionally strewn with rocks. I would also like to thank my wife and children for listening to me and of course Toon Tellegen for writing such delightfully zany stories and Jessica Alhberg for illustrating them so wonderfully.

So anyway – I got a letter on Christmas Eve. A translator’s dream.