I’ve continued hitting the languages pretty hard. I’m listening to foreign language books and/or podcasts in the car on my way to and from work, I am doing at least two Duolingo Spanish lessons per day, and I also am doing Rosetta Stone for both Vietnamese and Mandarin. My employer requires us to do five hours per month to keep our access to Rosetta Stone and as we get farther into it, that has become more of a challenge. I’m on-target for January and may even exceed my five hours. Let’s see how I do in February, though, when the material is becoming tougher and I have three fewer days to get it than I will have had in January.

I really like Rosetta Stone, by the way (and you don’t know how tempted I am to link to their page at Amazon). The biggest challenge for me, the way they teach foreign languages in school, is to stop thinking in English and translating into my target language, because that’s how they teach a foreign language. Rosetta Stone doesn’t ever get you using your first language as a crutch by taking it entirely out of the equation. I have had to look up a couple of things where I couldn’t quite grasp what they were getting at. One of these was the difference between “chúng tôi” and “chúng ta,” which both clearly mean “we,” but I just couldn’t quite tease out the difference.*

In addition, I bought a copy of Pride and Prejudice in Vietnamese and am rereading the original paired with the translation. I’m still trying to avoid the whole translation trap, so I am doing it chapter by chapter. The night of January 24, I reread Chapter 8 in the original and then followed it up by the first two pages in the translation. My Vietnamese is not so good yet that I understand very much of it at all, but that’s okay. It’ll come with practice. Right now I’m just looking at the words for things that look familiar. There are so many diacritical marks on the vowels in Vietnamese, and I’m hoping that the book will also make those come a little more naturally.

I started paying myself to do this, and it looks like I’m on-target to have $70 saved up by the end of January. Once I have $100, I’m going to start investing the money that I’ve saved up. I’m not sure if I’ll be buying a CD or putting it on the stock market. We’ll see what I decide once I get there.

Alex and I did go to the march. He told his dad that we were going, so I felt pretty much committed when he did that. We got there a little late, but managed to join up with the march and Alex and I walk pretty quickly, so it didn’t take long to reach near the center of the 1,500 people who were marching in San Antonio. I hope to keep up with the things that the Women’s March organizers are suggesting we do to keep up the momentum, including mailing my representatives about issues that are important to me. I’m not sure if I’ll use the official Women’s March postcards or just pick up a few touristy ones at my local store and use them.

And, finally, my planned trip to Canada is now less than six months away. That means that I can finally put in for the time off at work and can shell out the however-many dollars it’s going to take to pay for this trip. This is my least-favorite part of travel. The interface for putting in for time off is awkward, and then there’s the whole “paying for it” part, even though I’ve already got the money saved up.

*”Chúng tôi” is the exclusive “we” and “chúng ta” is inclusive. So, if I am speaking to you and including you in the “we,” I would use “chúng ta.” If I am speaking to you of something that affects me and someone who isn’t you, then “chúng tôi” is appropriate.

As most of you likely know, there is a major demonstration for feminists (here defined as “people who think that women deserve to be treated like people”) in Washington, DC. You may also be aware that there are a number of “sister marches” being held in other cities (the official list is something like 673 marches with over 2 million expected marchers).

San Antonio is going to have a march today (as this posts, not as I’m writing it) and Alex and I are planning to attend the actual march itself, if not the rally part at the beginning or the planning part at the end. If we do make it, I’ll make a post updating y’all on what happened and what it felt like to participate in an event like this.

I’m categorizing this as “walking” as well as “2016 election” since the marchers will be walking nearly two miles just as the official marching part of the march. Getting there and then back to the bus stop will probably add quite a bit more.

Note the use of the word “may” there.

I actually finally got the tiniest bit ahead on Saturday, November 12. Then on Sunday, Alex and I went to the southern end of the Riverwalk, which was exciting. I’m trying to decide if I should post my picture of the end of the Riverwalk here or wait until I finish walking the whole thing and do the Mission Reach writeup. I think maybe I’ll leave you in suspense.

Then I went to work for two hours. When I came home, i was still about 2,000 steps short, so Alex and I took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood and then I got the final couple of hundred steps pacing in the house.

So now I am pretty much perfectly caught up. I’ll probably be good through Wednesday, but then I have Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday off, and Alex is with his dad for both this weekend and next weekend. That may leave me up to 24,000 steps behind again.

Let’s hope I can get motivated enough to get some walking done this weekend. Otherwise I’m probably sunk.

I aim to get around 8,000 steps per day.  I was off on the first of November, so even though I got nearly 1,000 steps in, that still leaves me about 7,000 behind. I can generally catch that up pretty quickly. Then on the second through fourth, we sold a lot of prescriptions, which means that I spent a lot of time on a cash register. The end result of that was that I barely kept up. Actually, on the fourth, I walked around the store up one aisle and down the other — twice. So that actually had me over for the day, but still about 5,000 steps behind for the month.

Then yesterday we had a friend over for lunch. I got a couple thousand steps in before she came over, but afterwards, nothing. So I’m about 13,000 steps behind right now. It’s still early today, so I might be able to get that many in. Except that it’s raining. I know that there are umbrellas, but so many of my usual places to walk are dirt. Walking in the rain is all right. Walking in the mud is far less acceptable.

Even if I were able to catch up today (which is doubtful — 13,000 steps is nearly six miles), then on Tuesday, I’m working the election, which is a 13-hour day of sitting down. So that will put me 8,000 steps behind again.

I think I’ll try to get my 8,000 in for today (maybe driving to somewhere outside the rain and also going to the supermarket?) and just let the rest of the month take care of itself.

Update (November 6, 2016, 6:54 p.m.): So, unwilling to give up so easily, I took Alex out to try to finish up the leg of the Salado Creek Greenway that we’re working on. We get to the trailhead and I ask Alex to put my phone in the pouch that I wear when we’re hiking.  And turns out I left my phone at home. We still got an hour’s walking in (and since we almost ran the whole way back we probably knocked out about three miles or so). We might have attempted more, but there were dark clouds in the distance and we didn’t want to chance getting caught in the rain so we headed back to the car. Afterwards, then we went grocery shopping, which added another couple hundred, probably.

According to the Google Map Pedometer, we walked 2.4 miles, round trip, which is 5,300 steps. Adding the grocery store to that probably brings me up to 6,000 steps or so. So now I’m faking it by moving my arm up and down 6,000 times.  Perhaps we’ll take the dog for a walk tonight.

1. It looks like my step count will likely be a lot better for June than it was for May.  It’s bedtime on June 9 and I’m done with my average step count through June 11.  I will still have to get the actual steps on those days, but if I’m two days ahead already, I doubt that I’ll end up behind like I was in May.  Also, hopefully July will be pretty easy to take care of, despite the 2nd and 3rd being weekend days because July will be our big vacation and I suspect that between running through two airports twice and visiting the Fishlake National Forest*, Salt Lake City, the Golden Spike National Historic Site, Yellowstone, and Dinosaur National Monument (also, possibly Craters of the Moon National Park), I can probably come up with a few steps. It probably won’t be as step-heavy as Italy and New York were because we will have a rental car with us. I have pretty high hopes for August, though, since we’ll be spending four days in Chicago without a rental car.

2.  Originally, our 2017 vacation was supposed to be our return to Europe.  To that end, I started saving up for our 2017 vacation when we returned from our 2014 vacation. Since we’re not going to Europe, but Canada instead, I’m now done saving up for that trip.  Now I am going to continue saving money for two smaller trips next year — a long weekend in Southern California (the last time I was there, Alex was a baby) and the eclipse weekend.  Let’s see how that goes.

3(a). I still have a box full of envelopes of pictures to scan, but the other day I passed the 20,000 picture mark.  I really need to remember to pick up two more SD cards to back up the pictures. Then I have to remember to take them to my safe deposit box. No sense making a backup if I then lose it in a fire or something.

3(b). My dad has a shelf full of genealogical materials.  After I finish my photo scanning project I will, likely, begin scanning all of that in.  Wish me luck.

*Because if you’re that close to the most massive single organism on the planet, it would be foolish not to see (and photograph!) it.  I doubt we’re going to get far enough east on our planned 2018 trip to Washington and Oregon to visit the largest organism in terms of area.