I’m Starting to Get Nervous

I was really nervous on my way in to work this morning. Not about work, though. About NaNoWriMo. I think I like my plan of attack — eight short posts a day, on various topics including travel, parks, books, cooking, etc.

And, of course, on November 3 and 4, I should have a pretty good topic in the presidential election. If Trump wins again, I should be able to rant about that for quite a while, and if Biden wins, I wonder how many words I can get out of pleased astonishment.

Also, if Trump wins again, I’m going to be sucking on a shot of my dad’s Harvey’s Bristol Cream, so we’ll see what that does for my output.

Gratuitous photo time. This is what I’m pretty sure is the original Espada Dam in the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. I’ve been walking down the River Walk and I reached this part last time, but totally forgot to take a new picture. This is from 2009; it probably looks pretty much the same now, in all honesty.

I’m going on a short road trip on the, like, 7th and 8th. I’m not sure exactly how it’s going to work, since “my” dog is being spayed on the 6th at my vet’s office. I might take her with me, since she needs to be watched to keep her from overdoing and opening her sutures. How better to keep an eye on her than to have her seatbelted loosely in the back seat of my car, which I am driving?

Well, I’m using too many November words here in October.

I think I might just be able to do this this year.

Wish me luck.

Ack! I was in the process of posting this when I realized that I forgot my Gratuitous Amazon Link. I almost panicked, going, “Oh, my gosh! Which book am I completely going to fail to sell them this time?” Then I realized that Allie Brosh’s second book, Solutions and Other Problems, has already been released. So go forth and don’t buy this book, either.

Two Weeks to NaNoWriMo

So I need to come up with some kind of plan. I remember telling y’all (or yelling into the void, whichever) that I need to write about eight 200-word posts a day to make my goal. Eight and one-third, to be precise.

In addition to travel and book blogging, I think I may add a round of food blogging as well. You see, I’ve got a whole bunch of cookbooks and I’ve hardly ever used them. So since Alex is grown and hardly ever home, I’m going to start to, well, use them.

I cooked Diane Seed’s version of Pasta al Boscaiola, which is the rosso version. The rosso version uses tomatoes and the bianco version uses cream. You basically sautee garlic in olive oil, then add mashed up tomatoes, salt, pepper and parsley. Then you top with sauteed mushrooms. I love sauteed mushrooms.

I knew that the recipe I was following was supposed to feed six people, so I cooked a bunch of mushrooms and then realized that the mushrooms were a topping and not an ingredient in the sauce. So I topped the spaghetti with a few mushrooms and ate the rest as a rather odd dessert.

Today’s gratuitous photo. I took this at the San Antonio Botanical Garden in 2009. The sculpture there is one of my favorites. I don’t know if the gardens own it or what, but I look for it every time I go to the garden. Speaking of which, I haven’t been there in more than a year, I don’t think.

It was really delicious and an excellent way to start my exploration of these cookbooks.

Not-so-gratuitous Amazon Link this time. The book I got the recipe from is The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces, by Diane Seed. I’m going to try posting my Amazon link with an image. Let’s see how it turns out:

ETA2: It didn’t. It was just a big block of HTML. So, back to just text links for now. The Top Hundred Pasta Sauces, by Diane Seed.

ETA: This post was 253 words. If I can do that consistently next month, I’ll have over 60,000 words for the month

New Theme. Is it a Keeper?

I stuck the picture that Alex liked better in as my header image. I think it’s kind of busy, personally, but it might grow on me.

I’m working on getting a good picture of the Arsenal Street Bridge with the Pioneer Flour Mill in the background to see how he likes that. He liked this image because it wasn’t just a bridge and thus is more “travel”-y.

I think that I’m too short to get the picture I want, though. Maybe I can get Alex to drop me and the stepstool that we refer to as the “fish stairs”* off there and go around the block while I take a picture from a slightly higher elevation. Or, even better, maybe we could find a place to park and we could walk down there together, so he can keep me from getting so wrapped up in getting the perfect picture that I fall off the stepstool and break my leg or, worse, fall off the stepstool and into the river.

Will I be able to do this before the end of the COVID-19 outbreak? Will I need to wait until the outbreak is over? I look it up pretty much daily and everything I read says that outdoor recreation is still acceptable, even for people in the most locked-down areas of the US, like in San Francisco, just as long as you don’t get too close to strangers. Going out with people in your family is still acceptable. I guess that if I could get Alex to go with me during a work day or very, very early on a Sunday when we’re not likely to bump into strangers we could do it.

Of course, both Alex and I are “essential workers” right now. This means that we both have to go to work until we get infected. Alex is working for a restaurant with a drive-through, so he’s providing people with food. I’m a pharmacy technician and providing people with medical care. So I guess we’ll see if/when we get this thing.

Oh! A new-today discovery about COVID-19! It seems that one of the first signs of the illness is a decrease in ability to taste and smell. This may also be a symptom of a subclinical case (one that never develops really obvious symptoms). So I guess I need to keep something with a strong taste or smell around and test myself daily just in case. I had Indian food for dinner and could taste and smell it just fine, so yay!

Crap. I’m not sure what to do about my Gratuitous Amazon Link. Amazon has announced that they’re going to stop accepting non-essentials in their warehouses. I still want to hopefully be able to make a few cents (and maybe someday dollars) from this, so I hesitate to skip the Gratuitous Amazon Link. However, choosing an “essential” might not work long-term. And what would I pick? N95 masks? That might be useful for anyone who stumbles across my blog right now (and can wait until April 14 for it), but long run, maybe not. Maybe an electronic delivery. A downloaded music album, maybe? A Kindle book? Is clothing an essential? I’ve got it! Lupin Leaps In, by Georgia Dunn, the creator of the Breaking Cat News comic strip. Hers isn’t really the sort of small business that is likely to be affected by COVID-19, but a small business it is, and we really should support it.

* I had to stand on it to take care of Alex’s aquarium when he was little.

Foreign Language Update

I’ve really been slacking off on the foreign language front lately. And since that’s my best chance to be able to retire (well, not retire as such but switch from a “punching the time clock” career to a “do it on my own time” career, which is probably the closest I’ll ever get to retiring), I need to step it up.

To that end, I’m listening to less foreign language music and have just started working on the podcasts at Radio Ambulante. Radio Ambulante is a project of NPR telling human-interest stories from Spanish-speaking areas. And they cover a lot of territory. Some of the accents are way more challenging than others, but it’s good practice.

I also blew a couple of bucks on a 3-month Rosetta Stone subscription for Castilian Spanish. I figure that’ll give me more to work with than I get from speaking at work and doing Duolingo.

I’m still doing Duolingo. I’m laddering Spanish and Mandarin. They don’t have Mandarin for Spanish speakers, so I’m doing Spanish for Mandarin speakers.

And I’m still working (slowly!) on reading in my target languages. In Spanish, I’m working on the translation of Prince Caspian by CS Lewis, and Ciudad de las Bestias by Isabel Allende. In German and Italian, I’m still in the translation of the first Harry Potter book and in Chinese, I’m about a third of the way through Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

And, as always, I’m paying myself. 1¢ per Duolingo lingot, 2¢ per minute of Rosetta Stone, Radio Ambulante, and audiobooks, 1.5¢ per minute of music, 15¢ per page* of foreign language book (because that takes the most concentration of all). At an estimated $400 per credit hour for tuition and fees, I think I have my first four credit hours of my modern languages degree paid off, and it only took two and a half years to get there.

Crap. I’ve got to work harder, don’t I?

*Per paragraph for Chinese.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Why not? City of the Beasts, in English and Ciudad de las Bestias in Spanish.