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.