31 March 2016


Life as a Language Learning Challenge, Step 5

So far, so good . . . I've been counting and doing sums exclusively in L2 for months and praying the rosary in anything but L1. The only bad news is that giving up Il Volo for Lent made L3 take a hit that even Grisu Il Draghetto couldn't shield it against. (Happy Easter, by the way . . . That is: Frohe Ostern, uebrigens! And Buona Pasqua!)

The latest great way that life and language learning has overlapped is in my crafting hobbies . . .

17 March 2016


Theme Thursday 22

It turns out that the very first Theme Thursday link up I joined was back in 19 May 2011, when the theme was Male Person, though I waited until a whole month later to tell you about General Douglas MacArthur. If I hadn't already done this theme, I'd probably be telling you what I really think about Donald Trump. (Gasp!)

He's really not today's topic, but some time after he kicked off his campaign, I learned that there is a book that he and I have in common as an influence. I haven't had a chance to reread it, but I did find another by the same author that happens to fit the 26 May 2011 theme to perfection.

This Week's Theme:

15 March 2016


"Word" Problems

Did you ever have those awful flashcard drills in Maths class? And was your Maths teacher also a sadist who thought it would be a good idea to divide people up into teams that would compete to solve the flashcards the fastest? . . . The PTSD never goes away, does it? 

I've been traumatised for life, but I'm betting my long-lost identical twin who was raised in Germany hasn't been. For addition and subtraction are vastly easier in German than they are in English. That is, Zehneruebergang is simpler to do than regrouping, although they are basically the same thing.

You see, the "problem" with adding and subtracting two-digit numbers in English is that we process the digit in the ones position first but say the digit in the tens position first. If you had to solve the first addition card on the left, you'd add 2 to 9 to get 11, set the leftmost 1 aside on some mental side table, add the rightmost 1, 2 and 5 to get 8, pick up the leftmost 1 (if it hasn't fallen off the table in the meantime), put the 8 and the 1 together to make 81, then finally say "Eighty-one" aloud.

In German, on the other hand, the digit in the ones position is both the first to be processed and the first to be said. So you can add 2 to 9 to get 11, say the leftmost 1 aloud as "Eins," add the 1, 2 and 5 to get 8, and immediately say ". . . und Achtzig." For everyone other than savants like Bat, it can mean the difference between being on the winning team and having everyone shun you at recess. Again.

I wonder if my Maths teachers would have let me get away with saying "One and eighty."

09 March 2016


Early Edition: Last Page

And we're done! With a season finale that I was not expecting at all . . .

This episode was hard to blog about because it doesn't give Gary the usual moral or logistic dilemma that I tend to zero in on. By this point in his life, he seems to have hit his stride as The Reader. All the conflict he runs into here is external, and he deflects it all expertly. Both his friends and the city police are now taking his strange vocation for granted. This isn't a "Gary episode," you see. It's a "Marissa episode."

07 March 2016


Knitting (and Crocheting) Diary: The Loft

One reason blogging has been so slow lately is that it is simply difficult to type and to manipulate yarn at the same time. I only have one pair of hands--and even if I had that proverbial second pair, I'd still only have one brain and therefore one focus. Plus, the two projects I did back to back this time were greater investments of time than anything I had tried in the past. It all started when I realised I wasn't loving my little loft as much as I used to.

Did I really think I'd always be happy to have rough plywood be the last thing I see before going to sleep and the first thing I see after waking up??? Also, using a monobloc stepstool as a makeshift bedside table made me feel like a homeless squatter. It was all just too ugly.

You'd think the next step would be obvious to a yarn crafter, but it wasn't until I saw a magazine cover which set a model against a background the same colour as my wall that the wheels started turning. For I already had a lot of yarn in the same colour as her dress. And then it was only a matter of finding yarn in the third colour on the cover to get the same cool effect the cover designer achieved . . .