Archive for the ‘learning French’ Category

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.


sleep wake sleep wake sleep wake or something like that

Flopped into bed around 8:00, slept til 9, woke up briefly, fell back asleep til 10:30, woke briefly, slept again til a little after 1, had a longer being awake til after 3, woke around 4:30, fell back asleep til 5:30, woke up, fell back asleep and the alarm went off at 6.

Some moderately bad nightmares early on, just strange dreams the rest of the way. I can remember some of the later ones, dreamed I went with my sister and niece to a meetup of diabetics that were in Type 1 diabetes circle on Google+. Sister and niece are not diabetic, but they went along.

One of the diabetics began singing and suddenly I realized he was singing in French. I went over to ask him how did he learn French and he along with someone sitting next to him were speaking French to me.

Then the meeting was ended and I tried to find my way back through the city streets which also went through various restaurants and clubs. At one of the clubs, I was blamed as being the one who spiked this big guy’s drink and he came after me. I saw him coming and calmly slammed my right fist into his nose and dropped him. Then I tried to find my way to the car again, but was lost in the maze of streets and restaurants.

Finally the alarm went off.

It’s no wonder I’m not exactly feeling rested with these dreams. That was one of the least intense ones.

Searching for a few coconuts for a meeting

This is nothing profound or important. It just amuses me. I did a Pimsleur lesson in the car this morning and part of it was a dialogue about a guy trying to find his notes. A few notes, which in French is quelques notes.

It comes out sounding rather like coconuts. Je cherche quelques notes. I’m looking for a few notes. I’m looking for coconuts. Have you seen some coconuts? I have some notes for the meeting. I have some coconuts for the meeting.

More seriously, I’m beginning to appreciate more and more the quality of the lessons in Assimil NFwE. It’s funny how I didn’t notice so much how often things would be repeated in subsequent lessons. I mean, I had noticed it, but now it’s more apparent. Perhaps because my overall comprehension is a lot better? I don’t know.


J’ai une cicatrice sur le poignet droite.

Il n’y a que la nuit.

Je me suis lavé la poitrine, je me suis lavé les jambes, les cuisses, les hanches, les bras, les épaules, le visage, dans le bain. Je me suis rasé aussi ce matin.

Ça fait longtemps que j’écris en français. Pas que j’écrivais beacoup, euh, je ne sais pas en dire en français. Comment on dit anyhow?

D’accord. Peut-être ça suffit.

Une certaine personne, elle me manque. Je n’ai personne pour converser. Vraiment. Personne. Il y a une conversation dans la tete, mais ce n’est que moi.

Est-ce que je suis heureux? Euh, non. Est-ce que je suis malheureux? Non. Je ne sais pas ce que je suis. Je suis, au moins.

J’ai vu un oiseau nouveau hier soir. Un goldfinch en anglais.