More Clues in the Mystery of What Language I’m Going to Specialize In

November 25, 2020 1 of 8

With “clues” and “mystery” in the title, I think I may have done too many Nancy Drew books for my Gratuitous Amazon Links. However, for good or ill, we’ve still got dozens of Nancy Drew books to go.

I’m thinking that the language I’m going to focus on for my modern languages degree is less likely to be Vietnamese than Czech. I did the Pimsleur conversational Czech and now I’m doing Pimsleur Vietnamese I. Czech came to me much more easily than Vietnamese, despite my having less exposure to the language prior to starting.

Of course, Vietnamese is a much harder language for an English speaker to learn. Looking at the Defense Language Institute site, my guess is that Czech is a Level III language and Vietnamese is Level IV.

The Pimsleur course says that if you are getting about 80% of the questions right, you’re ready to move on, and I am taking a *very* generous interpretation of “80%.” I’m still bumping up against that problem where the pause to figure out and say the sentence is too short and so I’m pretty sure that I would’ve come up with the right sentence in 80% of the cases. I really should be doing each lesson *three* times, but . . . .

I was only going to see what was left of my Rosetta Stone Vietnamese really quickly before the end of the month, when the language for my apps will change to Italian and I’ll go back to ChinesePod in the car, but this is so frustrating that I’m not sure whether to give up or to try to figure out how to fit the Vietnamese in around the Italian and Chinese.

Back when I was playing Pokemon Go harder than I am now, I spent more than 45 minutes a day in my car driving to gyms and raids. I could easily fit a daily Pimsleur lesson and at least one ChinesePod lesson in in that time, but now I’m in the car for a Pimsleur lesson and about five minutes of Spanish radio. That extra five minutes isn’t long enough for even one ChinesePod lesson.

If only I’d thought of Vietnamese back at the beginning of October. I could’ve done each lesson three times and still knocked out 20 of them.

I know I could do my Pimsleur, like, in my bedroom or something, but I’d find it awkward to sit there speaking very bad Vietnamese by myself in my room. If I could count on my cat to sit there and let me practice on him for half an hour a day, it might be doable.

And Vietnamese would be so useful for me right now. I have a bunch of Vietnamese patients and their grasp of English is okay, but it would be nice if I could meet them in the middle a little.

Oh, well. It’s 5:30 am and there’s not much Vietnamese I can do right now anyhow. I’ll sleep on it and see what I can come up with.

Our Gratuitous Amazon Link today is. I don’t even know. My Goodreads page was set on trying to find books that I’m reading right now so that I can add them to my currently reading page. Give my computer just a minute to catch up to us. Okay. Our Gratuitous Amazon Link for today is The Mystery at Lilac Inn, by Carolyn Keene.

Alex Has a Fever

November 23, 2020 1 of 8

Alex felt better yesterday. He came home from work and went to bed.

Then, when I came home from work, I thought he’d be at work, but when I came home, he was (still?) in bed. I asked him if he missed work today and apparently he had the day off.

After I woke him up, he said that he was going to go to a friend’s house and so he got up to get ready and took his temperature. It was, like, 101. He tried again and got more 100+ temperatures.

The Texas MedClinic chain has a 15-minute test, so we checked out the closest 24-hour clinic and found that the walk-in wait was only 30 minutes. We attempted to make an appointment for him to get tested, but every time we tried, it told us to try a different time, but never let us choose anything but 7:30, which was the time that it said there were no openings.

We headed out to just go ahead and wait, but when we got in, the lady at the reception desk said that they weren’t taking any more walk-in COVID tests tonight because the wait was 5 hours. Then she told us to make an appointment online. And we told her that it hadn’t worked.

We also told her that the website said that the wait was only 30 minutes, and she said that she couldn’t do anything about that. So Alex made an appointment for 6:45 in the morning (which has a $100 fee for after-hours services) and we got some decongestant at the supermarket across the street. After we got home, he went for a jog and I had dinner (I offered to heat something up for both of us, but he said that he doesn’t have much of an appetite).

So, if he comes out positive for COVID (we’re pretty sure he won’t; it’s probably just a cold or the flu), then I will call in late and go get a test myself at around 8 am. Then we’ll see how it goes from there.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, we’ve reached the point where I was going back and forth between Discworld and Nancy Drew books. So, today is Book 5 of the Nancy Drew series, The Secret of Shadow Ranch.

Alex Has a Cough

November 22, 2020 4 of 8

At, like, three this morning, Alex woke me up and said that he had a cough and he was a little queasy and that he wanted me to see if I had anything for it. I had something for the nausea (diphenhydramine) but no cough suppressant.

Later, when he got up for work, he took his temperature a bunch of times and it came up 98 (36.7 Celsius) every time. He still had the cough, so he put on an extra-thick mask and went to work.

He’s still at work, so I guess he passed the screening.

He’s going to get a COVID test tonight and we’ll see how it goes.

I went out and bought a bunch of imperishable groceries (tuna, cereal, nuts, little plastic bowls of fruit, etc.) and also some cough suppressant just in case he does have it.

And if he does have it, then guess who needs to get a COVID test tomorrow?

Wish me luck.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. We’re still on the Discworld series. I don’t know if we ever see these characters again, so let’s call this one a standalone. Pyramids, by Terry Pratchett.

I’ve Been Up Since 6 am

November 24, 2020 1 of 8

I know. Lots of people get up at 6 am. However, my day job starts, at the earliest, at 8:30 am (and 11 am at the latest right now, though that may change after COVID ends). Since it takes me 1.5 hours to get ready for work and get to work, that means that I’m used to getting up at maybe 7 am (and frequently later).

I was awakened by Alex, who was working on his intake paperwork for the COVID test. Turns out he needed information on the guarantor (that’s me) that he didn’t know, like my social security number. Then, since he figured he’d go to work it it wasn’t COVID, he asked me to take my shower then, too, so that he could take his shower when he got home.

I did try to go back to bed after that, but with my hair wet, it was hard to relax. Plus, by the time I got out of the shower, it was nearly 7 and I had to be up at 7:30.

Alex came home just about 7:30, and it turns out that he does not have COVID, but he is sick. It’s probably a cold or something. The common cold is actually way more transmissible than COVID. It’s just seems less dangerous since our ancestors who weren’t able to fight off the common cold died out millennia ago. With COVID, we’re basically watching what happened when the first common cold virus hit the first human population, only they didn’t have the medical technology to increase the possibility that they would survive the virus.

Not that I’m saying that dying from COVID is positive or inevitable, or good for our DNA, or anything. Who knows who we would be today if it weren’t for that first cold virus. Maybe one of the people who died had an aptitude for math or science and would have given us a cure for cancer by now. Imagine your biggest bully. It could be a classmate, a member of your church, or even a relative. Maybe that bully’s great-great-great . . . grandparent was considering reproducing with someone who would have given that bully a sense of empathy? Maybe everyone would ultimately have carried that empathy gene and we’d live in a kinder, more just, world.

Or maybe the people who died were just people, with the hopes and dreams that anyone had back then — food, shelter, creativity, music, spirituality — and, much like in For Whom the Bell Tolls, their deaths diminished their community.

Anyway, back to something like the point. Since Alex works with the public, the doctor said that he should stay home from work for a couple of days. He’s feeling better, but he doesn’t know if he’s still contagious, so he’ll be home again tomorrow. He’s off Thanksgiving as well. He’ll be eating two Thanksgiving meals: breakfast with us and dinner with the group he’s getting a house with after that.

It seems that a non-gratuitous Amazon Link would be a poetry book that has For Whom the Bell Tolls in it, but I haven’t read any books like that. So, I guess it’s gratuitous again. We’re still careening madly between Discworld and Nancy Drew. Let’s see what we get today. We have Wyrd Sisters, the second book featuring the witches — Granny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax, and Magrat Garlick.

Running Ads on This Site

November 29, 2020 1 of (probably) 1

I’m going to post this immediately rather than scheduling it for later.

Out of curiosity, I looked at Google AdSense again and apparently I haven’t lost that account. So I’m now trying to figure out how to get AdSense ads to run here.

Maybe I will make some money on this site someday . . .

Our Gratuitous Amazon Link for today is Witches Abroad, by Terry Pratchett, the 12th Discworld book and one that features the Witches.

I Just Had the Weirdest Dream

November 22, 2020 1 of 8

Now, of course, that’s a bit of hyperbole. I always say that all of my dreams are the weirdest dream. I guess if I had a normal dream, it’d *that* would be the weirdest dream.

Anyway, I dreamed that somehow I ended up parking my car on the top floor of an administration building of a university. My dream didn’t specify that it was a private university at all, let alone a Roman Catholic one, but all of the administrators’ plaques and certificates and things all had “Sister (name)” on them.

It must’ve been very early in the morning, because no one was actually in the office and so I walked down to the ground floor so that I could get out of the building and there were some employees there. When I explained what had happened, one of them asked me to go back up and drive my car down right then, because if I wait until later, the building would be occupied and it might be dangerous to drive my car out of the building with all of those people around.

After that, my brain made up a storyline about college, Pokemon Go, driving, and a fictionalized, in-my-brain-0nly version of the suburbs I grew up in (where they were less suburban and more small-city-esque). I think I’ve dreamed about the small-city version of those suburbs before, but maybe that was just an impression I got within that dream.

I don’t normally try to analyze my dreams. Sometimes the meaning will be perfectly clear and I’ll be, like, “I’m still mourning my mom” or “I’m worried about work,” etc. I didn’t get a real read on what this meant aside from maybe looking forward to the day when I can afford that modern languages degree that I want.

Okay, it’s 4:00 am and I don’t have to be anywhere today, so I’m going back to bed for another six hours or so. Talk to you later.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Still Discworld. Sorry about how abrupt these links are, but really, it’s a huge, world-spanning social commentary/humor/fantasy series. There’s not much to say about each individual book. Book 4 of the Discworld series: Mort, by Terry Pratchett.

A Relatively Frustrating Pimsleur Day

November 21, 2020 1 of 8

Evelyn and I met up for Pokemon Go Community Day and on my way home, I finished my second Pimsleur Vietnamese lesson. First, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to need to do each Pimsleur lesson twice. When I look at written Vietnamese, I can understand it, but the native speakers on this recording don’t sound anything like the speakers in the Rosetta Stone, so I don’t know what they’re saying at all.

Also, on the way home, I didn’t get any red lights, and the parking lots on the way home were pretty small and it would’ve been frustrating to try to turn around in them and so I had Ray Brown and two Vietnamese people talking to no one in particular for probably about 15 minutes. I finally ended up putting the radio on and throwing my podcast phone into the back seat.

Now, this isn’t my normal in-the-car language approach. I usually listen to my language podcasts through my bluetooth speaker, which I can then turn off while I’m driving because it just requires me to push a button that I can find without looking at it. Trying to pause something on my phone screen, however, requires an actual complete stop.

My bluetooth speaker doesn’t work with Pimsleur, which is a real source of frustration for me not just for the “I can’t stop my podcast by touch” factor. It’s also annoying because my bluetooth speaker is much easier to hear and when I try to use Pimsleur on it (and I’ve tried with three languages now — Lithuanian, German, and Czech), I miss syllables. Like “thank you” in Czech might come out as “ději” instead of “děkuji.” So frustrating.

And it’s not the speaker. I can listen to Chinesepod lessons on it and also to Audible books. It’s just Pimsleur. Speaking of which, I’d better start downloading Chinesepod lessons again.

Well, for better or worse, November only has nine days left and I go back to Chinesepod in the car on December 1. I doubt I’ll be able to make much progress on Vietnamese in that time, particularly doing one lesson every two days, but every minute I spend will be a minute towards being able to use this language.

Our Gratuitous Amazon Link for this post is the third Discworld book. Today I bring you Equal Rites, by Terry Pratchett.

Mluvím Trochu Česky

November 19, 2020 3 of 8

I’m spending entirely too much time trying to get a capital “č” for that title.

Okay. I finally just found a page with it and cut-and-pasted it.

Today I finished Pimsleur Conversational Czech. I’ve been doing Duolingo Czech for a couple of months now and am getting somewhere, but I wanted to come at it from a different angle. I have most of it nailed, except for the part about “what do you want to do?” I don’t even know.

The program seems to be geared towards businesspeople. Well, technically, business*men* on work trips to Czechia. We learn a word for “to have lunch,” but not “to have breakfast” or “to have dinner,” which is odd. I guess they don’t have breakfast or dinner meetings in Czechia?

As for why I emphasized “men” in the previous paragraph, well, like when you’re supposed to say that you want something, like something to eat or drink, they want you to say “chtěl bych,” but that’s what a man would say, for a woman, it’s “chtěla bych.” So frustrating.

Also frustrating is that there’s not a lot of time to say the sentence if it’s particularly long or complicated. I found myself skipping the “Wenceslaus” part of Wenceslaus Square and just saying the “square” part for the first two lessons after it was introduced. Now I can say “Václavské náměstí” like it’s no big thing.

I’m still working on Duolingo Czech and will be working on it until the end of November (when I switch to Duolingo Italian). And then I’ll be back to Czech in June of 2021? August of 2021? Something like that. Maybe I’ll save up for the full Czech 1 course for next year instead of just the conversational part. I will still be “Ano. Ráda”-ing instead of “Ano. Rád,” because, still a woman.

And for the last 10 days of November, I’m going to be tackling Pimsleur Vietnamese in the car. I did Rosetta Stone Vietnamese a couple of years ago and wanted to do two months of Vietnamese in December and January, but none of my games come in Vietnamese. Even if I set my phone to Vietnamese, the games that change their language according to phone settings revert to English (or at least they did the last time I checked, which was . . . a month ago?). So I’m going to squeeze in 10 days of Vietnamese at the end of my Chinese/Czech months, for this year, at least.

And our Gratuitous Amazon Link (I wish I had some good language books to recommend so that this would be less gratuitous. Alas, I don’t), we have All Fall Down, the first of the Embassy Row novels by Ally Carter.

My Poor Bed

November 20, 2020 2 of 8

I worked my way through most of those books in that photo I posted a while back and then went into Alex’s room and got more.

So now I have more FoxTrot books and a few other novels, including two that I had totally failed to put on my Goodreads page on the other side of my bed.

I’m thinking that I may have to buy ebooks for most of my collection and then take the hard copies to, like Half-Price Books to unload them. Most of what I own is books, but I own so many, that when I downsize back into an apartment, I may have to use books as my furniture.

I hope it doesn’t come to that. I think I need to make a definitive list of all of my books and maybe even start buying milk crates or something to store them in and then move them into the storage room, just to get some kind of idea of how many books I have and make some sort of plan for them.

I mean, Tsundoku is a legit hobby separate from reading the books, but I think there has to be a limit.

I was thinking I could add whether I own the book to my Goodreads page, but there are so many books there (I’m up to 295 read books), that it’ll probably take forever.

Well, I’m going to give that a shot. I’m only going to be counting books that I have in hard copy. No ebooks. No audiobooks.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, I bring you the second Discworld novel: The Light Fantastic, by Terry Pratchett.

What’s For Dinner Tonight?

November 20, 2020 1 of 8

I only have ten days left in the month. I’ve beaten my previous record of, like, 15,000 words. Will I make it to 50,000, though? I doubt it, but let’s try.

There’s a dish in the United States called “Cininnati Chili.” It’s not really chili, per se, as it has its root in the Mediterranean and not in South Texas. I wish I’d known that earlier. Oh, well, that’s all in the past.

Cincinnati Chili can be served several ways. And they are called just that — ways. Basically, you put the chili on top of spaghetti and then you can add cheese. Then you can add beans and/or onions on top.

Just before I moved down here (Thomas had been here for a month — Alex wasn’t born yet), I went out with a friend and some of her friends. One of her friends said that we had to try Wolf Chili when I got here. So we did, and boy was he right. It was excellent. It’s got a spicy, peppery flavor, but also has a very strong flavor of cumin. Yum!

Inspired kinda by Cincinnati Chili and kinda by using up leftover chili in “chili mac,” we used to use the Wolf chili almost as a kind of pasta sauce. We then decided to add cheese, and I ended up adding dark red kidney beans, too. So now we have what is more or less “four way” Cincinnati Chili with elbow macaroni instead of spaghetti and, of course, Wolf Chili.

Alex turned out to be either a regular taster who has a low tolerance for spice or a supertaster (which is odd, since I’m a nontaster), so he ended up having this dinner (which we just called “chili mac”) without the chili — just the pasta, beans, and cheese.

When Thomas left, I knew that half of the can of chili would’ve gone to waste if I kept up that recipe, so I just dropped it out and we made chili mac Alex-style into one of our dinners. We sat down and decided to dub it “macaroni, beans, and cheese.” We thought that putting “macaroni” and “cheese” next to each other would be confusing.

Macaroni, beans, and cheese has long been one of Alex’s favorite dinners and a staple in our diet.

And that’s what we had for dinner tonight.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, we’re beginning a Discworld run. I sat down and read, like, the first 22 Discworld books pretty much right in a row. Then I burned out and haven’t been back since. I’ll tackle the rest someday. For now, though, we have the epic fantasy parody novel that started it all, The Color of Magic, by Terry Pratchett.