Frodo stepping stone - by Adina_Atl

California shootings

I just heard about the California shootings--by reading the online Costa Rican newspaper I had just read a story about President Solis breaking his diet--he's already eaten the first tamal of the holiday season!--when I saw an article titled: "Hay muertos, no sabemos cuantos," en California. Huh? Deaths in California? I was really, really hoping that my Spanish was confusing "muertos" with a word that meant something entirely different. Needless to say, I jumped to the NY Times for English-language news.

I don't know what's going on. No one knows what's going on. I hope people can wait until they do know what's happening before they make idiotic statements or take even more idiotic actions. I hope that everyone I know is safe and that the death and injury toll proves to be less than currently believed. I doubt it will be this one, but I hope someday we can look back on something like this and say "That was the last one ever."

I wish that the biggest news was still Costa Rica's president breaking his diet for tamales.
Frodo stepping stone - by Adina_Atl

Conversation earlier today

Me: I'm going to assume that there is a very large squirrel up in that tree with a very bad case of dandruff.
Rita: It's snowing?
Me: No, there's a very large squirrel with dandruff.
Rita: It's not even the middle of November and it's snowing.
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Frodo stepping stone - by Adina_Atl

Miss Cleo

Miss Cleo, our 18-year-old cat, appears to have had another stroke last night. She's been declining for about a week, and this morning was substantially worse, unable to control her back legs at all. She stares at the food and water bowl like she's trying to remember what they're for. Her feet and tail are cold, indicating that circulation is shutting down. She has a final appointment with the vet this afternoon.

I just took her across the street to visit her former owner to let her say goodbye.

We joke that Cleo was on her 27th life. She's survived so many things that could have been fatal. But old age has caught up with her at last.
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Frodo stepping stone - by Adina_Atl

Conundra for the ages

1. Why are elderly/ill cats apparently unable to take one step further into a litter box to avoid peeing over the side?
2. Why are some people so emotionally invested in keeping marijuana illegal? I can understand being intellectually opposed to legalization, but why the vehemence?
3. Apparently the correct plural of conundrum is in fact a conundrum itself. Conundra is almost certainly not correct. Maybe. Or not. But octopi is definitely not the correct plural of octopus--octopodes or octopuses is.
Frodo stepping stone - by Adina_Atl

Butterfly cats and volcanos

I just discovered a new Spanish term for a calico or tortoiseshell cat: "una gata mariposa", a butterfly cat. I knew that tortoiseshell cats were called gatas tortugas--turtle cats--but gata mariposa is even better. (Gata rather than gato because almost all torties and calicos are female.)

In other news, the Poas Volcano outside of San Jose erupted on Monday and is apparently still going. It's only ash and steam at the moment, though. The national park surrounding it has been closed. Two years ago I stood on the observation platform overlooking the crater while it belched clouds of sulfur-smelling gas. That platform is still habitable, apparently, but only by volcanologists in protective gear. (It's nice to be able to read Spanish-language articles about this from, because there's only been one short article in English about it in The first eruption was at 8:58 AM on Monday, right at the prime viewing time for the volcano. No one was hurt, but they did have to evacuate the park. That would certainly be a memorable part of your visit to Costa Rica!
Frodo stepping stone - by Adina_Atl

Another Spanish challenge story -- Space

El planeta fue hermoso. Su sol fue amarillo y exactamente la distancia correcta desde la planeta. Hubo agua líquida, una atmosfera rica en el oxígeno, y plantas verdes con la clorofila. Apareció perfecta.

El planeta fue peligroso, demasiado peligroso para la vida humana. Los colonizadores viajaron allí y murieron allí.

No hubo animales viciosos. No serpientes venenosas. Los animales fueron gentiles y pequeños. Las plantas fueron comestibles y aun deliciosas. El tiempo fue agradable, no helado ni muy caloroso. Los vientos soplaban suavemente, trayendo el olor de las flores y las hierbas verdes. La lluvia suave cayó por la noche, lavando el mundo de nuevo. No hubo nunca las tormentas, los huracanes, los tornados.

No, no fue el tiempo sino…el tiempo.

El tiempo. Las horas del día. El día de ese planeta tenía veinte y ocho horas, demasiado muchas para los seres humanos quienes nacieron en la tierra con sus veinte y cuatro horas. El ritmo de sus vidas, su ritmo circadiano, fue interrumpido. Cada mañana ellos se despertaron más cansados, cada noche fueron a cama más agotados. Cayeron enfermos, uno por uno.

Uno por uno, ellos murieron.

Algunos vivieron unos meses. Unos pocos vivieron un año.

Uno se encastilló en el barco en que llegaron. Sin un equipo y el combustible de cohete el barco no podía mover nunca, pero lo convirtió a su hogar. Ella escondió del sol de ese planeta y se despertó con el sol de nuestro planeta de muy lejos. Solamente cuando los soles de ambos planetas fueron altos juntos iría afuera. Dos días en la semana salía afuera para crecer su comida, para atrapar los animales comestibles. Los otros días escondía desde el sol nocturno, la oscuridad diurna.

Ella vivió sola por muchos años. Entonces murió, todavía escondía desde un sol hermoso y peligroso.

(No sé en verdad si un día de veinte y ocho horas podría lo matar a alguno. No sería saludable. Uno de mis profesores en la universidad dice que mataría pero fue hace veinte y seis años.)
Frodo stepping stone - by Adina_Atl

Zombis en español

Me gusta comer los cerebros. ¿Eso me hace una mala persona?

Dicen que significa que no soy una persona de todo. Pero soy una persona. Si me cortes ¿no yo sangro?, no sangro. No tengo sangre. También no tengo dolor. Pero me pone triste. ¿Es culpa mia que me encontré un zombi el mes pasado? ¡No! ¡Soy una víctima! Siempre soy la víctima. ¿Por qué siempre me culpas? Si yo fuera una vampira te gustaría. A nadie le gustan los zombis. No es justo.

No hice la plaga. El gobierno lo hizo. O una empresa mala. No puede ser Google porque dicen “No sea malvado.” ¿Quizá fue Microsoft? No sé. No me importa. Me importa sobre comer los cerebros. Y sobre correr en las calles por noche. Anoche la luna estuvo alta y la noche fue clara y los gritos de la gente fueron tan hermosos. ¿A quién no le gustan los gritos? Son música más hermosa que Justin Bieber y ¿qué mejor que ese? Hubo dos mujeres anoche. Cuando alcanzamos a ellas sus cerebros fueron tan deliciosos. Casi dulces. No sabía que los cerebros podían ser dulces.

No me mates, por favor. Solamente quiero comer un poquito de tu cerebro. ¿Por qué nunca me dejas hacer nada divertido?

(Someone set a challenge on Duolingo to write a zombie story in the language you're learning. Somehow I wound up with this.)
Frodo stepping stone - by Adina_Atl

Artificial stupidity?

I've been getting scam messages that purport to be from Delta informing me of a ticket purchase that I didn't make, with a nice attachment to open to print my ticket. Obviously I'm supposed to open the attachment, either to get the free ticket or to find out where to report that I didn't actually buy it. This is a well-known scam, apparently, and I'm not dumb enough to fall for it. But what's amusing is the one I got today.

The previous email had a reply-to address of something like "", which I suspect if I'd done a web search on would turn out to be some tiny regional airline or something else "air" related. Today's reply-to address was "". Which if you use a string search to find domain names containing (or ending?) in "air" will indeed come up....
Frodo stepping stone - by Adina_Atl

El León, La Bruja, y El Rompero

I just finished reading my first full novel in Spanish, "El León, La Bruja, y El Rompero" by C.S. Lewis (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, of course). The grammar was pretty easy, the vocabulary not too bad thanks to a Spanish-English dictionary on my Kindle. It helped a lot that I already knew the plot.

I'm sure some of the more lyrical passages escaped me, but I certainly got the sense of it all. But I discovered that in Spanish I quite dislike Mr. Beaver--shorn of his fine-sounding words, what he actually says is pretty nasty in a couple of places. Paraphrased: "If it looks human but isn't human, it's evil. I've known a known a few decent dwarves, but they've been the less human-looking ones." And about Edmund: "Oh, yes, I knew he was bad as soon as I saw him" (and yet somehow failed to mention it or take precautions). "There's something in the eyes."

I haven't decided what I'm going to read next. But I think not "Principe Caspian".
Frodo stepping stone - by Adina_Atl

Dutch for English speakers at DuoLingo

This is primarily for therealjae: announced today that their Dutch for English speakers course has entered beta. I suspect that you wouldn't get much use out of it, but they're also looking for bilingual speakers to look for mistakes and make corrections.

We know many of you have been waiting patiently for Dutch for English speakers to enter beta! We're excited to announce that today is the day :) This is the first complete course to be created through the Incubator. That means, it's now possible to learn English from Dutch and Dutch from English! Thank you to all of the volunteer contributors who helped build this course: KaiEngle, KevinKnauer, Kirlll, Lavinae, and Rhynn.

Because Dutch for English speakers is entering beta today, you might find errors or missing translations. Please report them, and help improve the course for future learners. Thank you!