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this and that

October 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Every day it’s a little darker than before, it’s going to be a bit of a haul to get to spring next year.

I golfed 9 holes alone on Saturday. It felt a bit revelatory about how sometimes it’s very useful for me to play on my own. I focused a lot better on every shot I had, and it paid off — shot a 43, 7 over par, which is about 4 to 6 strokes better than I’ve been averaging around over the summer. I tried to keep especially in mind a certain swing thought — the image of the back of my left hand leading through the hitting zone and swinging down the target line. It may have really helped to keep me from flipping my hands, which has plagued me terribly this summer. Over and over I get into bad stretches and when I finally slow down and think, I realize that hands have been flipping.

Anyhow, at the first hole, hit a fairly decent drive, overcooked with a tiny bit too much fade, but had a good lie in the right rough. My 8-iron was pulled a bit left, hit the front tip of the green and ended up just off the green to the left. I played a good chip shot to a couple feet away from the cup and made par.

Hole 2, was one of my worst holes of the day. I blocked my tee shot way right, had to settle for punching out underneath a tree to around 200 yards away from the green. I then hit a pull hook 4-iron across the fairway and over into the left rough, about 100 yards from the pin. I then hit a good wedge to the center of the green and 2-putted for bogey.

Hole 3, lost my tee shot to the right some, was forced to hit a low 4-iron underneath some tree branches and got it about 30 yards from the hole. I then hit a high lob wedge to about 8 feet from the cup, 2-putted for a bogey.

Hole 4, finally got my tee shot started down the left, but didn’t put any fade on it, there was a slight draw on it and it rolled into the fairway bunker on the inside corner of the dogleg. I hit a 6-iron thin out of it and it left me about 50 yards to a front pin location. At the 4th, you don’t want to put the ball up behind the hole when the pin is up front, so it was a somewhat delicate shot. I hit a lob wedge nice and high, it landed on the front fringe, bounced forward and ended up about 5 feet left of the cup, pin-high. My par putt just leaked a bit too much and it was another bogey.

Good drive at 5. Right over the 150 yard pole in the fairway. I found the ball about 115 yards out. A 9-iron was struck solidly and I was left with little more than 20 feet for birdie, but it wasn’t an easy putt — there was hump coming off the bunker that I had to putt over and on the other side of the hump, it was start going downhill and right. I left my putt stopped just short of that downslope, but I made the par putt.

Hole 6 I struck a hybrid nice and solid, put the ball in the center of the green. 2 putts and another par.

Hole 7 wasn’t very pretty. Drive wasn’t very solid and sliced some right. I then hit a 6-iron to get me to around 190 yards from the green. Another 6-iron off a downhill lie was pulled hard left. Fortunately I had just enough room from a tree on the left and I again used the lob wedge to good effect — the shot ended up 8 feet from the hole, and from there 2 putts for another bogey.

Hole 8, not the greatest drive, in the fairway but short. From a long way out, I hit the hybrid and left it in a good spot short and right of the green, good spot to chip at the pin in the towards the back middle left. But I did choke on the first chip, hit fat behind the ball and had to chip again. The second chip was good, about 4 feet from the hole and I sank that for bogey.

Hole 9, didn’t hit the 4-iron solid, well short of the green and I got bad luck on the lie. It sat down on a bare patch with a tuft of grass behind the ball. I elected to try 9-iron, I swung hard enough to make sure I got through the grass, but with the shot playing thin off the bare lie, the ball ran through the green and into the rough behind. My chip from there was about 5 feet from the hole and I missed that putt, so I ended up with a double bogey.

But overall it was a good 9 holes, I thought well out there and kept a good mood while playing.

—-

League bowling has been a real struggle the past two weeks. I’ve had 3 games under 100. And I haven’t rolled anything under 100 since I was a teenager. Part of it has been the struggle with the noisy environment. But when I rolled 4 games on Sunday for practice, I think I figured out some other stuff that was going on and causing me to continually miss my targets.

I suppose the first mistake going on was that I had gotten a bit too aggressive with trying to roll the ball harder than what it is optimal for me. I wasn’t really letting the ball swing behind me, I had gotten to where I would try to pull it up higher behind me, and that was throwing off the rhythm. Another adjustment I made was a tip I picked up from a bowling video on Youtube, the professionals all turn the thumb down on their lead arm, it helps to open the shoulder on the arm with the ball. But it took me 25 frames of practice before I finally put all of that together. In the 3rd game of practice, after 5 open frames and only 38 pins, I then began rolling the ball better and finished with a 109. Not great, but after a half-game of 38, not bad either. Then I kept working on I was doing in the the last 5 frames of the 3rd game and took it into the 4th. In the 4th, I was at 81 after 5 frames and shot 154 total. So the last 15 frames I shot 225 — if I can roll like that, I can average around 150.

The hard part will be to keep my focus in the league environment. We’ll see what happens.

—-

I’ve been doing a lot of reading in French again. My comprehension is a lot better now. I believe at least some of the improvement is due to the work I’ve done with Esperanto — Esperanto has really helped to open up my mind to how the word order of sentences can be different. That’s very helpful in some French sentences, where pronoun objects some before the verbs. For a long time, I had to read those sentences in a time-consuming way, figure out what was what and then flip it all around into English. Now I can more frequently read those sentences without needing that, I can see the pronoun objects and verbs and just know what it all means, what’s doing what.

Listening comprehension is still rather sucky though. I guess I just need to do more work with listening to stuff I can understand and practice understanding what I do faster and faster. And maybe there is progress there too. For a long time, I couldn’t really lead books aloud in French. I could sound out the words, but I would lose the meaning of the words. It was frustrating. But the last few night I’ve noticed that I can read more and more sentences out loud and know what it all means while I read aloud. So that’s progress. But I read slower than what native French speakers speak at, so there’s still some climbing to do.

I’m also working some on production by copying and sounding out sentences from Assimil New French With Ease and La Petit Prince. One great thing about improved comprehension with the La Petit Prince, I can understand the humor in it much better now.

That improvement has been a help to the mood. Maybe still I will never really conquer French or absorb it, or become friends with it, but I’m still making progress. So I keep telling myself it’s not impossible, I can learn it, no matter how intrinsically defective I may be, no matter how my style of learning may not be all that conducive to how languages ought to be learned. Oh well. I can be stubborn some.

But yeah, again, about Esperanto. I really think now that for people who come late to the language-learning business, Esperanto is a good investment. It really helped me become comfortable with how everything doesn’t need to be SVO like it is in English. Esperanto can really help to break free from ingrained structure which might be more rigid in an adult brain. You can handle it much easier in Esperanto with how everything else is so regular, now easy it is to recognize what are nouns and verbs and adjectives and adverbs. In a French sentence, even when you start to get towards intermediate levels of comprehension, you can have a real struggle figuring out what is doing what. There’s le. It’s an article, here comes then noun. Whoops, no wait, that’s a verb following it, it’s a pronoun object. Now what’s it a pronoun of? You don’t have those beginner ambiguities in Esperanto.

intentions

August 15, 2012 Leave a comment

I can’t remember exactly when I first created the word faligi in Esperanto. It happened at some point when I was trying to think of how to say I dropped something. It came fairly quickly, that if you drop something, you’ve made something fall. And Esperanto has a way of making words become transitive.
To fall is intransitive. I fall. You fall. Someone falls. I don’t fall anything. But what if you make something fall. Well, if you drop something, you’ve made it fall. And so appears our useful little suffix -ig, which turns intransitive verbs into something transitive. Fali is to fall, faligi is to make something fall.

I hadn’t thought about that for some time, but it went through my head last night when I was trying to think a little in Esperanto. So I used a conjugation of faligi, but then wondered a bit longer about my understanding of it and how it relates to English and its counterpart, to drop. To me, there are two somewhat opposite meanings contained with to drop. I can drop something deliberately, with intent — I dropped my clothes in the hamper. But there is also the accidental drop — the right fielder dropped the fly ball. In my head, if I’m translating things, I could say this — I made my clothes fall in the hamper. It would be a bit odd to say that, as it’s not a common idiom, but it would be clear enough. But if I were to say the right fielder made the fly ball fall, it would be weird and off, almost as if to say his error were intentional. He made the fly ball fall, he did it with intent.

I went googling some and found uses of faligis, the past tense conjugation of faligi. What I found showed me that Esperanto does use faligi just like how in English we use to drop. And that tells me something more about English than it does Esperanto — that when a conscious actor makes something do something, there is an implication of intent. Notice I say conscious actor, because one of the Esperanto sentences I found with faligis was “La vento faligis arbon.” In English, the wind dropped a tree or the wind made a tree fall. If a non-conscious actor makes something fall, there can’t be intent.
It’s also important to note maybe that Esperanto has a somewhat broader meaning to things. In English, we have two words, to make and to do. Esperanto is more economical, fari is to make/do and I think -ig is also a lot like that, but it just functions as a suffix to attach to intransitive verbs or to other affixes. Pliigi, to make more. Malpliigi, to make less. French has the verb faire and Spanish hacer, both of those function as a way of saying to make or to do — although a French or Spanish speaker who never learns English or some other language which like English has two verbs (or maybe more?) will never be aware that there is any difference. But in English we do.

—-

I’ve been reading Kristnaska Kanto, A Christmas Carol. It’s been introducing me to few more new words, but what’s also a good challenge in it is that the translator liked to mix word order up some. Lots of the Esperanto translations of English works into Esperanto tend to be mostly SVO for sentences and adjective-noun for those pairings. But this translator mixes in a lot of sentences which begin with objects and uses noun-adjective for those pairings. It’s good for me to read things like that because it helps to reinforce how the -n acts as the accusative or object marker in Esperanto, and how nouns and adjectives are marked in Esperanto. There’s a bit of instinct in me to still think with an English language pattern. And when you’ve thought with that pattern for most of your life, maybe 40 plus years of thinking that way, it’s a stubborn stubborn thing. Afero obstina aux obstina afero.

I suppose sometimes I wonder if there is anything useful in looking at languages and trying to learn them as my relatively older age. I try to pep myself up some by saying that it might be good to help keep my thoughts from becoming too rigid. It seems sometimes that as people grow older, they become more rigid in how they think. And maybe the best way to avoid that is to try to keep learning. And how we use language is very much tied in to how we think. I’m nowhere close yet to being able to use another language with maybe even a 1/4 of the speed and skill with which I use English, but Esperanto is becoming pretty strong in comprehension and production is getting better now.  It’s almost a weird feeling sometimes when I read a lengthy passage of Esperanto and I realize that it was all Esperanto to me and it all made sense.  But I’m still humbled by those who can switch between 2 or more languages, and have only a small dropoff between their native language and the second language.

Although I suppose maybe it’ll be a bit odd that in all likelihood the large majority of my use of any other languages that I might learn to sufficient fluency will come in the form of reading or watching movies. The irony is in how language is to function as communication between people, but I won’t have that intimacy. There’ll be the separation of paper or film. Ah well. That’s okay, I guess. It’s kind of that way for me in English anyhow.

bag of onions

There’s a bag of onions here with me at work today. It stems in part from the Wawa convenience store, which I used to stop at in the mornings, from being closed down for a remodel. Because of that, I’ve altered my route to go into work to stop at a supermarket, where I now buy a quart of milk and 2 yogurts every other day. Seeing how that’s a much cheaper deal than Wawa, I’ll probably not go back to Wawa when it reopens. But this morning on my way to buy the yogurt and milk, I realized that I needed onions at home, along with coffee filters. So I bought those as well. Now I don’t have to stop at the market when going home, but I have a bag of onions in my office here at work. It didn’t seem good to leave a bag of onions in a car when the temp might reach near 100 degrees today.

—-

To continue to improve my Esperanto, I recently began corresponding with someone from Hungary who speaks hardly any English. And I know no Hungarian save for “hogy vagy?” which is the way to ask “how are you?” I think it’s helping. While my reading comprehension had gotten pretty good, there were still gaps. Actually having to put things into Esperanto is helping to cement some things in deeper, and also make them easier to access when I am reading. Last night I read chapter 3 from La Hobito and my comprehension was really really good. I read a lot of it without translating it into English, just had a few odd words that I didn’t recognize right off, and a few less used sentence or phrase styles which would cause me to drop out and take some time to figure out the meaning.

Then afterwards, as I fell asleep, I found myself remembering sentences from the chapter. I haven’t had that too much before. But it probably points to how whatever it is that brain cells need to have in them for a language to become rapidly fluent, it’s getting into them. I have sentences, statements and phrases that percolate up out of me during the day. Still I wonder when I will, if ever, hit a level at some point that I will finally hit a long protracted stretch of time that I will think in Esperanto? Or is English so deeply rooted into me that it will never happen. Are my instincts are so attuned to English that Esperanto or any other language will never be able work directly with those instincts?

bodyweight

It feels like I’m finally feeling good enough, physically and mentally, to work on regaining the strength I’ve lost. Even if I can’t really do a lot of pullups yet, there’s still other bodyweight stuff I can work on.

It began last Friday when I did some pushups spread out through the day. A total of 50 or 60. Sadly enough on Saturday and Sunday my muscles were sore from that. But I went back to them on Monday and did 100 pushups. No soreness felt on Tuesday, and on Tuesday I switched over to bodyweight squats. A total of 150.

I felt a tiny bit of soreness in the right leg yesterday and today, Thursday. On Wednesday it was back to pushups and I cranked out 160 during the day. Now today, there is a very slight sense of soreness in the lower back area, muscles which stabilize the torso when doing pushups. Anyhow, I’m squatting again and aim to do a total of 200 squats today.

When I took a look in the mirror this morning, it looked a bit like it’s already helping to make a difference from how soft I had taken to looking. I still don’t look anywhere near as strong or fit as I did when maybe I was at a peak of sorts back in 2010, but at least I’m not sliding anymore into a deeper softness.

I suppose I should consider doing barbell rows for the back, for a pulling strength motion. The only problem with that is I can’t bring my barbell to work and do them at spaced out intervals like I can with pushups and bodyweight squats. Still, that makes sense, so I’ll figure out a way to work something with them.

—-

Se arbo falas en arbaro kaj neniu ĉeestas por aŭdi ĝin, ĉu ĝi faras sonon?

Newspeak, 1984, Orwell, a little bit of Esperanto

April 16, 2012 Leave a comment

I first read George Orwell’s 1984 as a kid of 13 or 14. Maybe read it first in 1983 as some hype about the novel’s title’s coincidence with the upcoming year grew. I don’t have an exact memory, although I’m sure I read it before it was assigned to me in high school.  Since that initial reading, I’ve read it again at times — quickly again in high school, another time in my mid 20s, again in 2010, and I am reading it again now, although in a different language, as I am reading the translation of it into Esperanto.

Each time I’ve read it, there’s been something new for me. The first reading was very much just me enjoying my first contact with a science fiction dystopia. I suppose my youthful geekiness might have thwarted me some from feeling just how grimly depressing the book was, there was a kind of coolness and awe at how George Orwell had created this dark and foreboding world. But I was far too young to appreciate the love story in it, I was too young to acutely notice the misogynistic character of Winston Smith and the world he lived in. There’s some stuff you have to see happening in the real world around you before you can really see it well in a book.

My second reading in high school wasn’t much more advanced the first. It came too shortly after the first reading. And I don’t remember taking away anything too much in particular in my third reading of it in my 20s. Maybe I was still too young, I don’t know.

It was the fourth reading that I really encountered the tragic love story in it, along with the questions one can have about whether a romantic love could genuinely exist in such an environment, between a misogynistic character like Winston and the young Julia. In some ways, when reading it, I find Winston horribly disturbing in his attitude towards women. But then I remind myself that it seems to be a misogyny that has instilled in him by the grim environment of the Oceanic dystopia. The Big Brother governmental apparatus has done a lot to create a world where no one can love one another.

Is that because love is an incredibly private bonding between individuals? I don’t know. But it makes sense in how privacy is destroyed in Winston’s world. The state does everything it can to have ways of finding out what you’re thinking. So maybe a theme in the book is that if privacy is destroyed, so is love. Another way of destroying love is to cultivate types of animosity between classes and groups — so thus you have things like the 2 Minutes of Hate, the Junior Anti-Sex League, the figures like Goldstein who are to be hated, the perpetual wars against Eastasia and Eurasia.

—-

It’s a bit strange now to be reading it in Esperanto. I suppose one thing that learning Esperanto has taught me is that Newspeak is a sort of failure. With Esperanto, I’ve learned about how you can combine roots and affixes to create new words. So it seems to me that Newspeak would never actually be able to fully restrict thinking in the way that Orwell imagined it might.

Or am I being too harsh in that assessment? Maybe Newspeak could slowly over time restrict some abstract forms of thinking, as without the words it could be hard to even create those with roots and affixes? And of course Esperanto was created to be fully expressive, it wasn’t created to stop people from being able to think certain types of thought.

—-

It is a great book. It’s interesting how there wasn’t much talk about the love story in it when I read it in high school. Unfortunately maybe at that time in America it was bound to be more about how great America must be for its freedom and see how communism will lead to Oceania.

I also suspect that the book’s dystopic vision is pretty well nigh impossible. If there’s a book with a dystopic vision that might be more appropriate as a warning to our present world, it’s probablyBrave New Worldby Huxley. Huxley’s vision of oppression by banality is more salient.

I wonder if I’ll read 1984 again in some years and see something new. It’s such a grim book to read, by the end of it you feel like you’ve been run over. It starts off grim, give a brief flare of hope in the unlikely love affair between Winston and Julia, then it gets squashed by the end with how they mutually betray one another.  Love is such a fragile thing or even when it’s not fragile, when it’s desperate, it can still get destroyed by circumstance.  Oh well.

foggy as hell out there

January 23, 2012 Leave a comment

We got our first real bit of snow here early Saturday. Just a couple of inches where I live, then it changed to sleet and freezing rain which crusted it over, which made shoveling a lit bit more annoying.  The turkey has been a bit unhappy about the snow. I don’t blame him seeing how he has to go around in bare feet.

But today warmer air is overrunning the snow and it’s foggy from that.  It’s supposed to rain later on.

—-

It was a couple of weeks ago I was in one of the supermarkets near my home and I noticed they were selling beef heart. It’s the first time I had ever noticed beef heart being sold in the supermarket and I also noticed it was cheaper than all the other cuts of beef like roasts and steak. It was also cheaper than pork roasts and pork chops. My first reaction was a sense of weirdness, since I had never really heard about anyone eating a heart of an animal. Well, I had seen it once before on an episode of Dual Survival, where those two guys demonstrated a survival situation on a small island near Nova Scotia. In that episode, the one guy killed a porcupine and they ate its heart. Waste nothing was the motto.

Plus I also reasoned that the heart is simply muscle, slightly different muscle, but muscle just like you eat when you eat a roast or steak. So I then used my google-fu to find out some ideas about how to cook beef heart. Last Friday, I bought ~3 lbs of beef heart and this last Saturday, I cooked up a beef stew with the heart.

It’s got a slightly different flavor from regular cuts of beef, but it’s still recognizable as beef. I think it’s a good flavor, the slow cooking I did of it in the crockpot resulted in a very flavorful gravy. So hopefully if the supermarket keeps selling it, I might make it a fairly regular part of the meal rotation.

The next thing I might try, since I see they’re selling it as well now, is beef tongue. That’s got a slightly more awkward psychological barrier to hurdle than the heart (although it felt a little strange when I was dicing up the heart for the stew). Plus from what I’ve read about its prepartion, the whole part about having to remove the skin or peel of the tongue might have a certain ick factor to it.

I continue to make progress with Esperanto. Reading is becoming easier and easier, almost every time I begin reading something that’s written in Esperanto. I definitely have good stretches where I just read it as Esperanto and understand it as Esperanto, with little to no translation into English. I’ve improved at recognizing how the sentences tend to be structured, so there’s much less of me of having those instances where I need to labor through figuring out the meaning of what was written.

It’s making me feel better about the chances I have of being able to learn a language well enough to think in it and use it. There were times with French I was feeling extremely frustrated, wondering if my use and knowledge of English was so deeply embedded there might be no room for me to ever acquire another language. But with Esperanto I see it coming. The understanding is growing steadily. Plus when I watched a couple of completely new videos this last weekend with people speaking Esperanto, I was pleased by how much I understood. The big remaining barrier is having me beginning to produce Esperanto output, speaking it, writing it.  But I have a sensation like if I were to have an opportunity of going some place where there were people consistently using Esperanto around me, that I would probably figure it out fairly quickly.

For now, I’ll keep on reading as much as I can in Esperanto, and maybe I’ll start working on translating stuff that it already written into Esperanto.

Once I get Esperanto really working well in my head, then I’ll return again to more diligent study of French, knowing that it will take more time because of its irregularities, but also knowing that it won’t be impossible.

Fighting Darkness

December 12, 2011 Leave a comment

The winter solstice is now 10 days away. I’m struggling badly this year with the sense of being surrounded by darkness.

To try to do something a bit indulgent but positive yesterday, I did some cooking. The first bit of cooking was making some cornbread, and I ate a piece of that along with some roast beef, potatoes, carrots and gravy I had made in the crockpot back on Friday. Then after I had finished my early lunch, I then prepared some stuffing to use with a chicken I had bought in the morning. I used the giblets, onions, celery and mushrooms, then added the leftover cornbread to the pan. Once it was thoroughly heated up, then I put it into the refrigerator.

When the time came later in the afternoon, I stuffed the chicken with the dressing and began roasting it in the oven.  The smell of the chicken and stuffing cooking was very good.

When the chicken began approaching its time to remove from the oven, I then worked on preparing mashed potatoes and peas.  After the chicken had been removed and there was time in between carving the chicken and mashing the potatoes, I used the drippings in the pan to make gravy. So with that, ended up with a pretty full meal of roast chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy and peas.

Now I’ve got plenty of leftovers to put together lunches and dinners for the next couple of days. Then whatever chicken I have left on Wednesday might get put into some sort of soup or stew-like concoction.

—-

Over the weekend, I decided it was about time again to get the wax buildup out of my ears. My ears have always been prone to producing and collecting wax. I remember lots of times having the doctor going in and carefully digging out the wax plugs that would form in my ears. But nowadays, I’ve found good success with using Murine ear drops, although the pattern has been it takes a few hours in the evenings to get the plugs expelled, through repeated applications of the drops followed by using the bulb to irrigate the canals. Saturday morning, though, I got the idea of putting the ear drops in before going into the shower. Then after a decent amount of time in the shower, I first removed the wadded up tissue in my left ear that I had used to keep the drops in and then filled up the bulb with water. The first squirt of water resulted in water getting trapped behind the plug and against the ear drum. The second squirt didn’t change that, but the third squirt worked and the plug dropped to the shower floor. The right ear also went down in a few squirts and my ears were clear of the wax plugs.

—-

My understanding of Esperanto continues to get better. I try do some reading of it every day. In the car, I mostly listen to Radio Verda podcasts, and I notice that as I replay through them, I tend to understand the stories better each time.  I don’t have full understanding yet, but I’m getting closer. Also right now, before I go to sleep, I will listen to the reading of Alice in Wonderland aŭ La Aventuroj de Alicio en Mirlando.

I think I’m at a point now where if I were to meet up with someone who is capable to speaking in Esperanto, I could understand a good deal of what’s being said. I would probably be a bit slow at producing replies, but I could do a decent job. Although I’m still a good distance away from being comfortable at speaking and thinking in Esperanto.