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Adina's Journal
Stuff and Nonsense

Date: 2014-07-02 11:01
Subject: So I dreamed in Spanish last night
Security: Public
Or rather I had a dream with Spanish, because I was speaking English most of the time, but had to say something in Spanish. And did so, though not entirely correctly.

In the dream I was at a restaurant (in Iowa, but whatever) and the guy working the register didn't have change when I paid for my food. He for some reason only spoke Spanish, and he was trying to find change, but I wanted to sit down so I told him "Siento allí con mis amigos" (I sit there with my friends)--waving to the table where everyone else was sitting--and then tried to figure out how to say 'give': "Da--Me da el dinero tardes. Sí?" (Give me the money later. Yes?).

In the light of day that should have been "Me siento allí con mis amigos" and "Me da el dinero más tarde." But for sound asleep it was pretty good and would have gotten the message across anyway, I suspect.

In the way of dreams, by the time the guy found the change it was (and always had been) a bus and he was the bus driver, but again, whatever. *grin* I told him "Spacebo" but realized that was Russian and changed it to "Gracias."
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Date: 2014-06-25 11:28
Subject: Guard cats and woodworking
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Tags:cats, woodworking
This morning I woke up early and decided to do some woodworking before I started doing the work that I am, you know, paid to do. My shop is in the basement and last night I assembled and set up my Christmas present from Rita, a band saw. This probably has something to do with my eagerness to get up at 7:30 and play with wood. (I got the band saw and then we left for Costa Rica for three months. We got back and I started some remodeling in the basement, among other things rebuilding the wall between the shop and the old laundry room, which was rotten and pretty much falling down. The remodeling work is done except for installing the last replacement window, but that's not in the shop, and the shop has been reassembled. Six months after Christmas I'm finally using my new toy.)

So I went down into the basement, accompanied by Cleopesta, who is NOT allowed in the shop while I'm using it--tripping hazards should be avoided around power tools and it is really, really difficult to fit hearing protection to a cat's ears and she's deaf enough already. But she didn't even try to go into the shop, just settled down on a towel about five feet from the door.

I messed about a bit with re-sawing some cherry boards for making boxes, cutting 3/4-inch thick boards into two 3/8-inch boards, which the new band saw did very well--nice and smooth, though not quite even. Then I rough cut and glued up some stock for making a large heart-shaped box, about 3 inches deep, that I'm planning to give to one of my aunts. All told I was maybe working for an hour.

When I came out of the shop, Cleo was still sitting on her towel, meatloaf style, facing the stairs like she was on sentry duty. She did the same thing last night, same spot, facing the stairs. Either she doesn't want to admit that she's waiting outside the door for me like some dog or she's guarding the stairs to make sure no one comes down and surprises me. I wear hearing protection in the shop, pretty much constantly even when I'm not at that moment using a noisy tool, so it is disconcerting when Rita "sneaks" up behind me. She makes a point of waiting until I'm not cutting anything before she says anything, but I still jump. But it appears I have a guard now.
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Date: 2014-05-14 12:56
Subject: Dear young fan fiction author
Security: Public
Tags:computers, fandom
Dear young fan fiction author,

I know it's hard to imagine, but we have not always had email. When a character in your story, played by an actor who looks older than I do, checks his email in bed before getting up because he got in the habit in college, it kind of throws me out of the story while I check the actor's IMDB entry just in case he's actually younger than I am. But no, the actor was born in 1962 and the character is generally considered to be around the same age. Which means that when he went to college, starting in 1980 or thereabouts if he was eighteen, he probably didn't have a computer, let alone an email address, let alone a computer he could use in bed.

For reference purposes, your character would have graduated from college before AOL was formed and before Microsoft released MS-DOS. He was in college, barely, when Apple released the Mackintosh, the first Mackintosh, long before Apple called everything an iSomething. He would have a junior before SMTP was formulated as the standard email protocol.

The short form of this is that having a fifty-two year old man reminisce about his email in college is only slightly less jarring than having Elizabeth Bennett calling her aunt in London in 1801.

An old fogey who still remembers a 300-baud modem
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Date: 2014-03-26 17:05
Subject: Bocas
Security: Public
Tags:costa rica, panama, snorkeling
Of all the weird things to have happened in life, I have a very painful snorkeling injury.

I was on vacation all last week, which was wonderful, let me tell you. We left the tropical paradise of Costa Rica to go to the tropical paradise of Bocas del Toro, Panama, which is just an incredible (as in nearly unbelievable) place. There is a large bay, protected by reefs, with a lot of little islands inside. The water is almost completely waveless, calmer than most lakes I've seen, and crystal clear. The bay is an enormous natural fish hatchery and nursery, so there are schools of fish ranging from the nearly microscopic to a foot or so long, who quickly clean up anything edible in the water, including algae.

We rented a small house that was built out over the water, so swimming consisted of lowering the ladder from the dock and getting in. We pretty quickly settled into a routine of before breakfast swim, after breakfast swim, coming home hot and sweaty in the afternoon swim, and before dinner swim. We also had free use of the owner's kayak, so I learned to kayak as well. This was a "sit on top" kayak, not the type with a skirt, but with no waves that wasn't a problem.

On Saturday, the day before we left to come back to Costa Rica, we went to Starfish Beach, where there are lots and lots of very large starfish in the water, some of them more than a foot across. I took my snorkeling gear with me and swam pretty continuously for at least an hour, covering a fair amount of distance. When I got out the arches of my feet were sore from the unaccustomed pressure of the fins--when walking, all of the force is backwards, against the ball of your foot, but with fins at least half of the force is forward (downward as you're lying in the water), against the front of the foot.

My left foot recovered fine, but my right foot has gotten more painful rather than less. I think I must have strained a tendon or something. I've been icing it and trying to stay off it. If that doesn't do the trick I'll have to see about a podiatrist or something.

The trip was still well worth it, though!
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Date: 2014-03-25 23:17
Subject: ¡Bienvenido a Valle de Noche!
Security: Public
Tags:night vale, spanish
Una comunidad amistosa del desierto donde el sol es calor y la luna es hermosa y las luces misteriosas pasen sobre cabeza mientras todos pretendamos dormir. ¡Bienvenido a Valle de Noche!

Hola, oyentes. Para empezar las cosas, me han pedido leer este aviso breve. El Ayuntamiento anuncia el estreno de un nuevo parque de los perros en la esquina de las calles Earl y Somerset, cerca de los Ralfos. Querrían que la genta recuerda que los perros no se permiten en el parque de los perros. Las personas no se permiten en el parque de los perros. Es posible que verás figuras encapuchadas en el parque de los perros. No te acerques a ellos. No te acerques al parque de los perros. La valla es electrificada y muy peligrosa. Trata de no mirar al parque de los perros y especialmente no mires para alguno periodo de tiempo a las figuras encapuchadas. El parque de los perros no te hará daño.

Y ahora las noticias.

In related news, my Spanish grammar has expanded dramatically due to Duolingo, though perhaps not reliably. (Grammatical corrections gratefully received.) I got verb tenses! Even if I'm not always 100% certain of when to use them. Duolingo has a distressing habit of translating a number of Spanish verb tenses into simple-but-incorrect English verb tenses, which can make it difficult to figure out what exactly the Spanish verb tense is supposed to be. If three or four Spanish verb tenses are all translated to the English past tense, it makes it just a bit difficult to figure out the difference.
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Date: 2014-03-12 10:59
Subject: Playing the real estate game
Security: Public
Tags:costa rica, spanish
On Saturday Rita and I were walking past a medium-rise apartment building between here and downtown, and Rita fairly idly wondered how much they cost. So I told her that the sign on front said the leasing/sales office was open every day from 8 to 5 for viewing apartments, so why not? It was Saturday morning and we had nothing urgent to do. (Rita had seen and could understand the "Alquiler/se vende" sign. And I've been considering the idea of buying an apartment down here for our use when we're here and as a short-term rental when we're not, though that's contingent on finding someone to be a local agent when we're not here. Like, for instance, our current landlord?)

So we found the reception/guard desk and I said "Queremos informacion de alquiler o venta de apartmentos," which might not be quite correct grammar, but got the message across--or at least he got on the phone and called someone from the leasing office down to meet us. I asked the leasing agent if he spoke English and he gave a somewhat panicked looking "Un poco. A little." So the rest of the exchange was done almost entirely in Spanish, with a small bit of pointing at written material, also in Spanish.

The apartments are really not what we're looking for, unfortunately. The layout is nice, though we'd prefer something with a smaller master bedroom and larger secondary bedroom(s)--a roommate plan, in other words. But.... I asked the agent what percentage of the building was leased or sold, because the place was awfully quiet for a Saturday morning--we didn't hear a sound from any apartment, we saw no one in the hallways (I just asked, I didn't say why I was asking). 20% occupied. In a three-year-old building. I think I can fill in the history of the project, unfortunately. Sometime before the real estate bust someone said "Let's build luxury apartments in San Jose!" And the project was almost finished when the crash came--finished enough that they completed the project but cut a few corners, like cheaper flooring and fixtures and (possibly) smaller balconies. The balconies are only about two feet wide, barely wide enough for a few plants, definitely not wide enough to sit on unless you turn sideways--it was one of the definite "no" factors.

The thing is, I was able (with a patient and cooperative partner) to carry out a fairly complicated Spanish-language conversation about the apartments, the age of the building, amenities, bank financing (he offered the information out of blue, possibly since the terms were VERY generous by Costa Rican standards), leases and lease lengths, maintenance fees, etc., etc. I'm sure he found my wording stilted and weird, and several times I had to stop while I turned over what he'd just said in my head until it made sense, but communication happened! (I even found out that it was his second day on the job. Poor guy, I think this definitely qualified as a trial by fire. He seemed to know his stuff, though. Just not in English.)

Duolingo.com has helped a LOT, though I think it was also just a matter of now being the right time. I had enough vocabulary in Spanish already that adding a large lump of grammar allowed me to immediately start making sentences with it, which reinforced both the vocabulary and the grammar. I think Duolingo also just works with how my brain operates--they don't teach you a grammatical rule, in fact they never tell you anything about the rules. They just throw a sentence at you with the new word or grammar in it, with hover hints to give you clues, and you have to figure out what it means. You almost always get it wrong the first time, and then they correct you. Keep doing it and you stop getting it wrong, sooner or late. (And like any video game, there are "cheat books" available online if you just can't or won't figure out the solution for yourself, like spanishdict.com. But so far I've avoided using any of them.) It's much more like natural language acquisition than any class room language class I've had. The exceptions to the rules are thrown in just like the non-exceptions, from the very beginning, so as you internalize the rule the exceptions are already built in: "X works like this except for Y and Z."
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Date: 2014-03-07 11:26
Subject: Spanish language addendum
Security: Public
And in the "for what it's worth" department, I can now read Lolcats in Spanish:

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Date: 2014-03-07 11:14
Subject: Cleopesta
Security: Public
Tags:cats, costa rica
Cleo is the most laid-back cat on the face of the planet. I mean seriously, she's not even really a cat, I'm convinced.

Yesterday the maid came by to clean--once a week cleaning is part of the rent--and this week that included vacuuming the furniture, including the chair Cleo was sitting on. The very loud vacuum was turned on: Cleo sat and looked at it. The vacuum came nearer: Cleo licked her paw. The maid started vacuuming the chair (which I've described as "Oh no! Someone skinned a muppet and used its fur for a chair!" Long red fake fur...interesting design choice, no?): nothing. The nozzle of the vacuum was two inches from her side and she was ignoring it. The maid and I were both looking at each other, looking at her, and laughing. Finally I picked Cleo up so the maid could finish removing cat hair. I could *see* us both thinking it would be faster--and probably completely acceptable to Cleo--to just vacuum the cat. I told the maid "Ella es muuuuy tranquila." (The maid likes Cleo and gave her a skritch on the way out.)

On unrelated news, I'm finding more and more that I don't mentally translate to English as I read the newspaper, which is good. This is most notable when I'm reading the (Costa Rican) newspaper to Rita. I understand what the article is saying, but then have a lot of hand waving while trying to come up with the English equivalents. There was a train crash earlier this week between a semi truck and a passenger train (Rita asked about it, since she'd seen something on a TV at the doctors office--follow up with the doctor who took care of her last year), and part of the article was talking about installing "semaforas" at the "cruces de tren" and I had to mime lifting my arm at the elbow before Rita suggested "gates at railroad crossings?"

(Oh, and Rita got a clean bill of health, so to speak, from the doctor. Though she'd also followed up with doctors in the US.)

Learned a great word in Spanish: estadounidense. Estados Unidos as an adjective--United Statesian? Soy estadounidense.
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Date: 2014-02-20 12:38
Subject: Miscellany
Security: Public
Tags:costa rica, family
I just went to the fruit market again and bought as much fruit as I could carry half a mile home on foot. Which came to 1950 colones, or just under four dollars US. Sheesh. That's two small pineapples, five plantains, a bunch of bananas, three large mangoes, and a melon. And an aching shoulder. *grin*

The melon is a variety that just appeared in the last two weeks and is now everywhere in the market. It's a little smaller than a cantaloupe and a yellow rind, but the same "netting" over the surface. I think I've had it before, but I don't remember what it tastes like.

My father is down here in Costa Rica and I spent the weekend with him and Leslie. One evening I introduced him to "chicha morada," this kind of weird but tasty purple corn drink, at a Peruvian restaurant, mentioning that I'd seen it on the menu at a different restaurant and been curious and tried it. He commented that that was one of the BIG differences between me and him--I'll try something just because I've never had it. He won't. He tried it on my recommendation, but he wouldn't have tried it blind. Which I just don't understand.

The mountains on the way to and back from the market looked close enough to reach out and touch. They're only four or five miles away, but today they looked a few yards off.
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Date: 2014-02-14 23:19
Subject: You say tomato...
Security: Public
Tags:costa rica, family
My dad and his wife are visiting Costa Rica again this week and I'm joining them for the weekend. Tomorrow morning we're going to the Hanging Bridges of La Fortuna. Or some hanging bridges around La Fortuna, I forget the exact name. According to my dad, we're being picked up from the hotel at "O-dark hundred." Which turns out to be 7:30AM, or as I described it, "Mid-afternoon." (I'm not a night owl in Costa Rica!) We agreed to get up at 6:15 to go to breakfast at 6:30, at which point he pointed out that the hotel rooms have no alarm clocks (nor phones for wake up calls). I pointed to the trees outside our rooms. "You see those trees? They're full of birds. Who will go off at a quarter to six tomorrow morning. That's your alarm clock." I promised to knock on their door at 6:15, but if they manage to sleep through the birds they're sounder sleepers than I've ever managed. The birds here are LOUD! Fortunately there don't seem to be any chickens around, because the roosters go off about fifteen minutes or so before the rest of the bird-brains.

I actually spent part of this week and last in Boca del Toro, Panama. Which is another story entirely. Getting to Boca del Toro and then getting away from Boca del Toro were both...interesting. Mostly due to what might be best characterized as piss poor prior planning on our part. In our defense, who ever heard of a border crossing closing at 5PM? On the other hand, walking over the old railroad bridge to cross the river marking the border was challenging enough in daylight--they may close the border before sunset just to reduce the number of people they have to fish out of the river. There are planks laid between the old trestles, but they're not what you'd call even. Or continuous.
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