Sunshine Abroad

The trials and rewards of French translation and beyond


As everyone can probably intuit from my lengthy silence, I'd been working on my thesis translation full-time for the last few months. It went well, but it put me into a little bit of a hermit-bubble. I guess I did get to go to my brother's graduation in NC in May, and I made time to go out swing dancing every so often . . . but on the other hand, at least twelve weeks' worth of PW, Weekend Reads, and publishers' updates went straight into my trash. And this blog didn't fare much better, either. Sorry about that.

But I come up from the murky depths of translation hermitage with a new story to share: as part of my research, I learned how to use a microform machine! It's been over a decade since I first saw one of those ancient machines sitting in the musty, dimly lit, extremely stereotypical newspaper reading room of my childhood library, and I hadn't had any valid research reason to try it out until now.

Guys. Gals. People. It's SO COOL.

I go nuts over organization. I also love things that work. Old, simple machines that are very good at what they do. Microfilm and microfiche should be completely obsolete forms of information storage by now, but they're not. Yes, the Internet and electronic databases are usurping many of the microform machine's uses (e.g. newspapers' archives are all held online now), but that doesn't mean that microfilm is dying. Oh no. Instead of just being an obsolete form of research, which some university libraries keep around only for that one tenured professor that won't leave, microfilm is actually acting as a hard-copy backup to many of the online journals we know and love! Useful AND fascinating!

Seriously. Fascinating. I mean, look at this thing:


And it plays this thing:

Tiny, man.

AND this!

(All images from Wikimedia Commons.)

I'll leave it to you to figure out which one is microfilm and which is microfiche. (Hint: fiche is French for something . . . )

I'm getting a little smitten, I think. It's actually gotten to the point where I'm trying to make up specific enough research questions that it would warrant a trip to the microform machine. It's fine, though. I can stop anytime I want. Really, officer.