Foreign Languages, Reading, and Reading in Foreign Languages, Part 3

I can’t find a subtitle box

So I’m going with headings

Subtitle: A/K/A The Weirdest Language Project I’ve Started So Far

Sub-subtitle: Our Gratuitous Amazon Links Aren’t So Gratuitous for This Post.

In the beginning (as I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before), my mom was a youth services librarian. I helped her read a bunch of the books that she purchased w-a-a-y past the point when it was age-appropriate for me.

And then I got a BSEd in Curriculum and Instruction (the fancy way of saying “elementary education”) and had to read kids’ books both for the degree and for planning my classroom library. I ended up becoming a paralegal, but the kidlit was definitely a high point.

Fast forward, oh, nine years? Ten? Alex was a baby and Harry Potter was the next big thing. I was kind of dubious because once something becomes what everyone I know talks about, unless I was an early adopter, I feel kind of excluded by the topic.

But when we were house shopping (and in this very house, btw), one of the kids’ bedrooms had Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the desk. It was this huge doorstop of a book and I was instantly intrigued. So I went out and got Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, and soon afterwards the rest of the series up to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I joined the fandom and wrote fanfic and waited impatiently for each book, despite growing sort of disenchanted with them as we got further into the series. More on this in maybe another book-blogging post.

Where to go next? Okay. While waiting for . . . . No, actually that came second, I think. Upon a quick visit to Wikipedia, yes, that came second.

In 2003*, Thomas joined a book club. One of the books they read was a mystery by a writer named Rick Riordan. Thomas told me about it, and it sounded interesting to him but didn’t do much for me.

In 2005, Thomas and I took a road trip and he wanted us to listen to an audiobook by Riordan on the trip. I was dubious until he told me that it was kidlit. So we gave it, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, a shot and I loved it.

Then, during the two-year hiatus between Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, one of my friends recommended Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series. I read the first two books. This had to have gone down earlier than 2006, because I remember talking to my mom about this. I wasn’t really gripped by it and stopped at two. I have no regrets about not reading the third book.

I realized after a bit, though, that I already had the perfect books to read (and reread) and plug to all and sundry, Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and the people I plugged it too would still kind of get in on the ground floor, because there were, at that point, only two books into the series.

Gratuitous photo time. I was tired last night. I forgot that I’d already dug up a second photo to post. This is the Dyfi furnace in Wales. Originally built so smelt iron, it also was used as a sawmill. At least, I’m almost sure that’s what it is. We were doing the American-style tour of the UK and didn’t have any time to dig around for interpretive signage or anything on that date. i snapped this picture out the car window and looked for what it was later.

At some point, Thomas gave me Harry Potter y el Prisionero de Azkaban as a gift, and I realized that I could get all of the Harry Potter books in translation as foreign language practice. I started with Chinese and got the Chinese translations of Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (for some reason, I can’t get typing in Chinese to work right now) and have spent the last couple of years working on them. I also have the Italian and German translations of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Then JK Rowling came out as a transphobe. I have friends, coworkers, and patients who are trans. My son has friends who are trans. I thus kind of reluctantly** decided to stop buying foreign translations of her Harry Potter books.

And then it hit me. Riordan has written, oh, dear, God, so many books in the world that started with The Lightning Thief. And so many translations! Spanish and German and Dutch and Vietnamese and Icelandic and Czech and Turkish and . . .

So, now the weird project. To get all of the translations of all of Riordan’s mythology books — Percy Jackson, Kane Chronicles, Magnus Chase, wherever else he ends up taking us. In every language we can get them in.

I know that I don’t speak Dutch, or Icelandic, or Turkish (and I barely speak Vietnamese and Czech, but I’m working on them!). But who knows where time and curiosity will take me in the future? And when I finally do start this degree, maybe I’ll have a classmate who wants to study one of these many languages and I can lend (with emphasis on lend!) a book or two to the cause.

I hope that Riordan is as great as he seems because I love his books so much.

At this point, it’s 1 in the morning and I’ve been writing for an hour. I have to work tomorrow so I’m going to leave this here and dig up a gratuitous travel photo sometime tomorrow (well, later today, I guess) and then post.

*I can remember what year it was because the only book they did that sounded interesting to me was The Devil in the White City, which was a new release that year. Thomas and I read it in parallel. I don’t remember if I went to the meeting or not, though.

** See also my growing disenchantment with the series.

Foreign Languages, Reading, and Foreign Language Reading, Part 2

I’ve been feeling kind of down on myself lately because “I haven’t been reading so much.” The fact is, though, that I read a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. I just read articles, and blog posts, and comments on those blog posts, and Facebook posts, and comments on those Facebook posts, and Reddit posts, and comments on those Reddit posts.

And that’s not even counting the rabbit holes. I’ll see a reference to this place, or this person, or this company in an article and down the rabbit hole I’ll go. I was reading an article on “Lean In” feminism and Elizabeth Holmes (alleged con artist who started a company that had technology that supposedly could do an entire workup of your bodily functions from one drop of blood).

I followed a link from the article to a short article on Holmes’s claim that her dog, a Husky she named “Balto” was a wolf. That led me to wondering what was up with the case against her, so now as I write this, I have another tab open to two different articles about how she may be going to claim a “mental disease” caused her behavior and how the judge is allowing up to 14 hours of psychological testing over a two-day period to see if her brain is malfunctioning.

That’s a small divergence rather than a true rabbit hole, but I’ve gone from article to article, then back to Google to research something else that one of the articles reminded me of, for hours.

Today’s unrelated photo. I really loved this picture of the Iron Bridge in Ironbridge from our 2002 UK tour. Unfortunately, the very top of the picture was overexposed or something. I played around with the clone tool to try to darken that section, but it was imperfect, so I cut it off. I’ll continue playing with it, and one I get my butt back to my travel memories posts, and I get to that part of the UK trip, maybe I can do a new version of this image as it should look.

What I mean when I say that I’m not reading “enough” is that I’m way, way behind on my National Geographics and I’m not plowing through novels the way I used to. I am therefore putting forth an actual effort. Fiction is still going slowly for me, which kind of worries me, but I’m hoping it’s just that I’m just out of practice.

I’m really, really hoping that I’m just out of practice.

Thomas’s side of my bed is now covered in novels (more on those in my next post) and National Geographic magazines. Once I finish my current National Geographic issue, I’ll post about the travel-y stuff in it. Or maybe I’ll leave it until November. Oh, I’ve got so many National Geographics to read that I’m sure I can do this one now and still have plenty for November.

As to books, I’m a member of a book club, so that’s at least one fiction book per month. And there are occasional bonus books, so that’s two books per month for those months.

I also have a new fiction-reading thing I’m doing, but that’ll have to wait until my next post, because it deserves a post of its own rather than being crammed at the end of this one.

Foreign languages, Reading, and Reading in Foreign Languages Part 1

Back in . . . June, I guess? I decided that I needed to focus on each of my languages for an extended period. While I’m still working on Spanish and Chinese daily (they’re my two strongest languages, after all), I’ve been changing all of my games over to my target languages, chronologically by how long I’ve been speaking them, for two months each.

So my first two months were Latin American Spanish for Animal Crossing Pocket Camp and Wizards Unite. The next two (which I’m in the middle of) is German for those two games, and also Design Home. And I’ve totally forgotten to do this with Pokémon Go.

Well, apparently I can’t change my language for Pokémon Go. Actually after looking around, I would need to change my phone’s settings to the language in question to make Pokémon Go run in that language. Now, due to something I haven’t gotten to discussing here yet, let’s see if I can get Pokémon Go to run in Czech.

I’m 90% certain that this is Caernarfon Castle in Wales. I’m also 90% certain that this is my photograph. Most of the disposable-camera photos from that trip that weren’t in London or Paris were my work. Not that this has anything to do with the topic at hand (Welsh is way down my list of priorities in terms of languages). I’m just tired of not having any photos in my blog posts.

And no, I can’t. Poot. Well, let’s try resetting my phone.

Why did I try Czech? Because my languages, in order, are Spanish, German, Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese, and Czech. I’ve only done Rosetta Stone in Vietnamese, and I’m just starting on Duolingo Czech.

Resetting my phone didn’t work either. Darn.

Looking ahead on my games, though, I’ve discovered that the ones that have Chinese they only have traditional Chinese characters, and none of them, so far, have Czech. I haven’t had any luck with Vietnamese, either.

My phone has simplified characters, but Pokémon Go doesn’t seem to have them, either. I can get the game to work in Spanish, so I know I’m changing the right setting.

So I guess it’s going to be Spanish, German, Italian, traditional Chinese characters? I don’t want Spanish and Italian to be right next to each other. I’ve got almost another month before I have to commit to my October and November language, so we’ll see what happens by then.

Gratuitous Amazon Link. . . . Gratuitous Amazon Link . . . What have a I read recently? Let’s go with Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Noemí is sent by her father to check up on her cousin Catalina, who sent a letter to Noemí’s family saying that terrifying things were happening at the home of Catalina’s new husband, Virgil. Are terrifying things happening or is Catalina having delusions? One warning, though, it is more than a little body-horror-y when we find out exactly what is happening. If you’re squicked by body horror, let’s see what I come up with for my next Gratuitous Amazon Link.

I’m Going to Try Writing Again

I actually had a point when I first opened this editor, like, two days ago, but I can’t remember what it was.

I’ve tried, off-and-on, to “win” NaNoWriMo, which is, on the surface, writing 50,000 words in the month of November, but in practice, is about turning your brain off and not worrying about what you’re writing and just writing. So, in September and October, I’ll try to have some kind of point to my posts.

But in November, on days when I don’t have enough idea (and since my blog posts tend to run, you know, 200 words or so, I’ll have to come up with about eight blog posts a day), God only knows what I’ll end up writing about.

I’m also thinking that November would be a good time to take some kind of trip. If we can leave Texas by then, maybe Carlsbad. If not, maybe Big Bend?

Actually, if I take a four-day road trip in November, that’ll only give me 26 days to write. So nine blog posts a day.

Maybe I’ll come up with some kind of pattern. A travel idea first, a reading topic next, something from Google’s I Feel Lucky button next, a mobile phone gaming idea next, unpacking a childhood trauma next, something, I don’t know, music-related next, another I Feel Lucky result. That’s, oh, dear God, seven blog posts. What can be my eighth and ninth? Foreign languages? Art? That looks like a good place to start.

There has to be more to me than travel, mobile phone gaming, reading, art, foreign languages, music, and childhood trauma. Maybe this will let me find it.

Maybe I should dump one of those I Feel Luckies and post about trying to get my stuff together. I need to empty out my closet and find someone to gift a bunch of knit blankets to and bag up a bunch of books that I’ll never read again and shred so much junk mail.

And maybe, at some point, I will be able to turn off my inner critic and will be producing more than 200 words per blog post and thus can cut down on the number of posts I have to produce per day.

How do I know how many words a post is? I swear there used to be a tool somewhere that would tell me. I guess I can just paste the blog posts into a Word document and count them that way.

I remember what the point was supposed to be! It was reading and foreign language. But that’s another post for, probably tomorrow. I’m meeting Ray to go for a walk in nine hours and I haven’t gotten any rest yet.

Ooh! Photography! I haven’t posted an image in a blog post in ages. I think I’m just going to start looking through my old photos and picking out ones I like and pasting them into my blog posts regardless of whether they’re on-topic or not, and for the ones I *really* like, I bet I could make an entire blog post about them.

But, for now, good night.