Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

In search of words...

Right, so I failed my Spanish exam the other day.  Pretty disheartening :(.  It was to cover the last three chapters and we were told to review direct/indirect objects, imperatives, and present subjunctive.   Okay so I did that.  I made a serious effort at that -- up to and including drilling all the exceptions to all the rules.   I both know and understand it.  So A, pretty pleased at that.  And B, should be ready for an exam right?

Except that where I went wrong is the exam is actual application.  So all the study exercises of the "conjugate verb X in the sentence" variety, or rewrite sentence in subjunctive, or any variation thereof goes out the window when it's "read this article and respond".   Frig.  So my vocabulary still sucks.  Which means that even though I understand the article well enough to respond, know how to respond and which tenses etc to use, I can't use them if I don't know the words to apply them too :(.  So that effectively wiped out both the reading comprehension and the writing portion.

Listening, as per last time, was a complete disaster.  On the plus side -- I at least understood parts of it this time (progress over last time).  On the down side, none of the parts I understood were relevant to the questions asked.   AND part of the question was essentially "write a synopsis of what they just told you".  Well I could barely figure out what they were telling me, much less reiterate it back in Spanish (again, vocabulary).   Given a ton more time and a pause button I could've done it, but not at rapid fire speed with only one repeat.   Fail.   Only thing that made me feel slightly better is that student peer with significantly better vocabulary (although zero grasp of grammar?) who spends a lot of time in Guatemala, said he can carry on conversations on the phone in Spanish with no problem, but he couldn't catch that.  So at least I'm not alone.

Then the grammar section, which I should be good at, half of them I couldn't understand the question.  Again - fried by vocabulary rather than lack of knowledge.   And of course there's no vocabulary list for the course -- you're just randomly supposed to know things.   I spend a ridiculous amount of time learning words, clearly I need more words, but would be really nice if I could point that in a useful direction *sigh*

Lacking a useful direction, my latest was that I'm learning a lot from Harry Potter, maybe I should make a vocabulary list for that...   But then that seemed excessive...  So maybe somebody's already done it?   LOTS of somebodies already have done it.  Varying degrees of quality but eventually found a list with useful vocabulary to learn that seemed correct.  lol.  Other than that, all my lists come from my self-teaching textbooks (which DO have vocabulary lists)...

I keep telling myself it IS much better than it was and I AM learning.  And I know that I learn best when I'm at the bottom of the class.  But is it ever hard on the ego to be there :(.  I'm not a fan of feeling stupid.

Ah well - mini victories...  Harry Potter is at least getting easier to read.  Lol still painfully slow, but that's got to count for something right?

#FridayFlash 73: The Check List


Just one long to-do list after another.   Lizzie sighed and considered the multitude of things on her list for tomorrow.   It was the weekend, a time she once looked forward to, but now seemed to consist only of the chores she didn’t get done during the week.  Adulting was not turning out the way she’d once dreamed.  Nothing was really.

-      Laundry!   The situation is becoming desperate.  Clean underwear is not optional.
-      Tiny (remember, you’re his whole life.  Play ball, take him for a walk, something!)
-      Get groceries (all that’s left in the fridge is wilted lettuce.  You don’t want wilted lettuce for dinner)
-      Put gas in the car (or the groceries won’t make it home)
-      Exercise!  Those last 2 lbs aren’t going to lose themselves.
-      Bake cookies.  After all, you just exercised.  You’ve earned them.  Lemon ones. Pick up lemons when you get groceries.
-      Study.  Something. Anything.  Preferably something related to work you’d like to do.  It’s the only way you’ll get out of the work you currently do.
-      Vacuum.  It’ll be a great way to avoid studying, and Tiny’s hair is all over the place.
-      Mow the lawn (maybe can count as exercise?). Unless it’s raining.
-      Weed the garden.  Seriously.  It’s starting to look impressively junglish.
-      Nap.  But set your alarm – you don’t have time to sleep all day (see above!)
-      Buy bday gift for nephew.  Something noisy and obnoxious.  Revenge is best served cold.
-      Mail wedding RSVP – it was due last week!  Bad guest.

She shook her head looking it over, knowing she was forgetting something but not sure what.  And not sure she could bring herself to care.  It had been a very long week.  With a smile, she added a few more things hoping to spur her memory:

-      Win the lottery (buy a ticket?)
-      Find soulmate
-      Plan dream vacation

With thoughts of her “one day” Africa trip in mind, and no idea what she’d forgotten from the list, Lizzie closed her app and dismissed all thoughts of tomorrow’s chores from her mind, pouring herself a glass of wine and settling in with a book she’d be moderately embarrassed to be caught reading but fully planned to enjoy every moment of.

The next morning she started with a long bath.  Just because she had a ton of things to do, didn’t mean she shouldn’t start the day out right!   Then with a sigh she reluctantly opened the list and started ordering things. Laundry first, it could run while she was doing other things.  Oh and she should probably do dishes at the same time.   Groceries would have to wait – once she went out, she knew her productivity would plummet.   Tiny could go for a short walk in the am and be sure it happened or a longer walk after everything else was done – but she might be too tired then.  Or both?   She looked to her great dane to judge his thoughts on the matter, but he was still sound asleep.   Afternoon it is.  

Exercise.  She should probably do that now.  But she just got out of the bath.   Not good timing to get sweaty again and then have to shower again.  She could exercise later.

Executive decision that lawn and garden were both getting bumped to Sunday.  She didn’t have anything on tomorrow anyways and this list was ridiculous.

Can’t bake cookies without getting groceries.  Studying is definitely an evening thing.   

So.  Laundry and dishes.  While they’re doing their thing, vacuum.  Then go out and buy all the things.  Put groceries and dishes away, put laundry in the dryer.   Bake the cookies.  While the cookies are baking, wrap the birthday present.  Rescue cookies from oven and taste test, put laundry away, and then the nap.  The wonderful nap.  Highlight of the day really.  

After the nap, a quick workout, then take Tiny on a walk to the mailbox to send the RSVP, maybe farther if things are good.   Study a little before dinner, and then freedom for the evening.  Maybe time for that dream trip planning (optional).

Feeling pleased with herself for having sorted a workable plan, Lizzie tackled the list with far more enthusiasm than she’d written it. She even picked up a scratch and win lottery ticket – couldn’t guarantee it’d win, but at least she could say she made a solid effort at that part of the list.

All was going well until while walking the usually impeccably well-trained Tiny through the park, he suddenly tugged on his leash and bounded away.  Lizzie was so stunned by the behaviour she dropped the leash; not that she could’ve done much about it – Tiny weighed as much as she did.  He stopped only a few feet away, head down on his front paws, peering under a bush.

She didn’t bother to call him, just went over to see what he’d found.  Telling him to leave it, she gave the strongest wait command she could and then bent over to see for herself.  The bush scratched her face as she lifted the bottom branches to see underneath.  And found a tiny black kitten, no bigger than her palm.  It stared back at her, didn’t seem scared – after Tiny, she surely seemed the better option.

She reached out and got swatted for her efforts.  Rolling her eyes, she tried again, catching the now angry kitten by the scruff of the neck.  She backed up out of the bush, bringing the kitten with her, only to find Tiny right beside her, eagerly nosing the kitten.  The dog had no maliciousness in him, only curiousity about the tiny fluff his person was holding.

Keeping the kitten close to her chest so it would neither claw her nor run away, she took both critters home, deciding she would keep an eye out for lost kitten signs, but suspecting she’d just inherited a new pet.

Tiny was fascinated.  Lizzie watched him carefully as she put the kitten down, he nuzzled her, so gently she didn’t even topple over, then followed protectively as she wobbled around the floor.

Watching the kitten explore her new home with her giant shadow, Lizzie scratched her lottery ticket.  $5.  Woohoo!  Enough for another lottery ticket.  She laughed and reached for her textbook.

Looking up after forcing herself through one chapter, Lizzie smiled to see that the kitten had curled up in the middle of Tiny’s massive bed for a nap, and Tiny lay on the floor, with his head on edge of the bed still watching the kitten.

And as Lizzie started to think about what her Africa dreams might look like, she realized even her completely unrealistic list items had been accomplished.  She HAD won the lottery – just not the prize she’d imagined.   And she HAD found a soul mate, from the looks of things, it just happened to be Tiny’s.

Pulling out her app, she started a new list for tomorrow.

-      Write more ambitious list.

 
Not my dog; not my kitten

Found this pic *after* writing the story -- but you have to admit, it fits well :)

I wonder how many calories I burn tossing and turning?

So I got home from teaching, fairly wired.  This is not unusual and one of the reasons I enjoy teaching on Friday nights (a time slot I bitterly resented at first) as I can be wired late at night and it really doesn't matter the next day.

Got home and decided I'd burn off some steam in VR.  Did a rather disappointing boxing round that was all squats and dodging and very little punching -- kinda defeats the purpose.  So then played some Beat Saber which was way more fun (I'm sorry but you really can't help but feel awesome slicing away at things w/ light sabers!), although I was off tonight which is frustrating, even in game world.

But more of an issue was that Chris, who has to work tomorrow and thus be up early, was ready for bed, and Sasha was even more wired than I was.   So while my games, being entirely contained AND in the basement, aren't likely to keep him awake, Sasha running around and bringing me each of her toys individually in an attempt to entice me to play, might.

So my solution to this...   I'll take her for a run :).  I love the night -- esp warm summer moonlight nights such as tonight.  And, weekend.  So win.  So we go for a run, but we're both wired so there's no pacing, no intelligence in this at all really.  Just booked it till very unfit me was not capable of moving and breathing at the same time.   Then we walked the rest of the way home.  Fortunately Sash isn't terribly fit right now either so it did at least take the edge off so she was more willing to chill when I got home.

But now I've got teaching high, exercise adrenaline, and the magic of a summer's night flowing through me.  Sleep is so not happening anytime soon.  I'd actually love to have Alexa blare some music while I clean the house but, well, sleeping husband.   (Side note -- did I mention Alexa moved in last weekend?  And I love her!!!   I've had more interaction with her in a week than with Siri and Google combined in all the time I've had them.   Unrelated -- anybody want a fully functional but slightly useless Google Home?)

So I decided I'd take physical energy and see if it can be turned into creative energy.   I even started sitting out back, which was awesome except that it turns out Night Magic (tm) isn't strong enough to counteract mosquitos.  Ugh.   So I have retreated indoors.   The dogs are now in bed.   And I'm in my cozy library which has actually become my favourite room in any house I've lived in to date.   It's tiny, but I love it.

Anyways - it's still technically Friday, so my challenge is to see about a Friday Flash ;).  And it will be deemed Friday until after I sleep, regardless of what the clock may say.  This buys me more time for said Friday Flash.   Wish me luck!

A stolen moment

It’s a little after midnight and the dogs wanted to go out.  Rather than just send them, I followed and snagged one of our lawn chairs.   So I’m sitting in amazing warmth with the subtle glow of our decorative solar lights keeping it just light enough to navigate the patio with a soft blue tinge.  

Sasha and Tucker are thrilled to be out here and it’s warm enough we seem to be bug free.  Sasha stays near me although doesn’t understand why I won’t throw anything for her (too late to risk excited play barking) while I’m occasionally granted glimpses of Tucker’s shadow when he strays by a light in his yard patrol.  

There is really very few simple pleasures better in my world than a hot summer night with no mandatory wake up time the following morning.  It’s the kind of night where fairies run wild and magic happens.  Instant happy place.

Sweet dreams.

Happy birthday to me :)

So it was an amazingly perfect summer day.  So I was pretty pleased to not spend it at work :).   As per my norm, I continued the trend of taking my birthday off work.   Enjoyed a lazy morning that then became remarkably productive.   Lol did a ton of Spanish, some laundry (not so fun, but necessary), painted my bathroom, finally dragged a dead light out to the curb, and even did some running around.  Crazy for my day of nothingness, but resulted in me feeling completely justified in doing nothing more strenuous than throwing the ball for Sasha while I sat outside with my book all afternoon.  It was fairly perfect.

Birthday flowers to make me smile :)
So the last trip around the sun has been pretty good -- Africa of course was amazing.  It'd be pretty hard to beat that.  And we're pretty happy in our little house -- it's almost a year since we moved in.  Sasha's sleeping beside me on the couch right now.  Things are good.  Work is the only meh -- super frustrating, lacking in challenge, and disappointing.  Childhood me would not be impressed.   I'm working on fixing that, but it's definitely taking longer than I like.  Hence the intense Spanish efforts -- I need something to keep my brain going!   As for what's coming up, super excited Mum and I are going on a road trip this summer.   Pretty stoked.  Where?  No idea as of yet :).  Suggestions?  Drivable from Toronto -- not planning to fly first.   Stay tuned!
The next adventure...

Setting the bar low...


So I'm at that point in my Spanish studies that is mostly frustration.  I understand the vast majority of the concepts, but basically just need a ton of practice and vocabulary.  I cannot consistently apply several concepts correctly (most notably the two forms of past, extraneous usage of direct and indirect objects, and anything beyond the real basics of subjunctive).  I can speak and understand if done painfully slowly, but not at speed -- resulting in failing my last listening test horribly.  Blah.

So looking for things to keep life interesting and still grow my abilities and got the brilliant idea to go to a teacher supply store, where I found:
Sadly, this is actually about the level I'm capable of...
lol yup, I'm working my way through grade 4-6 science ;).  The premise of this one is for teachers with bilingual classes.  So it basically has a unit in English and then the same unit in Spanish.  Each unit has about two pages of reading and then a few pages of exercises.  And so far, this is working out for me.  It's moderately interesting since it was a *long* time ago that I did core science and I'm enjoying the refresher.  The grammar usage is well within my capabilities.  The vocabulary is a stretch.  lol I'm still working on basic conversational vocabulary, the periodic table of the phases of cell division really haven't been priority.  But it's interesting for just that reason.  And the length of the reading is about right for my capabilities ;-P.  Sad though that may be.   And if I really get stuck -- the same exercise is available in English just a few pages away.  Lol haven't resorted to that yet, but may be useful.

Also still working my way through Harry Potter.  It is definitely the stretch goal of the year, but slowly making my way through and some of the vocabulary is slowly sinking in.  So I have to feel that's a win.

To improve the listening I've found "Gritty Spanish" which is moderately entertaining.  Basically Spanish overheard on the NY subway system.  I'm also working my way through the duolingo podcasts which are exceptionally well done, but they speak very slowly.   Awesome, cause I feel brilliant and can understand pretty well all of it, but less helpful when it comes to understanding at real speed.  And then of course there's Netflix, which is all the amazing.   Spanish shows with spanish subtitles.   At the moment I still understand more by reading than listening, but even the reading practice is a win in this case because of the speed required.

And of course old-fashioned grammar exercises.   I make sure to work those in too, but trying to mix it up.  Haven't done duolingo in a while -- I tend to go back there when I need to feel like I've actually learned something ;).

And all the flashcards.   It's probably the most used app on my phone at the moment.  lol

Ah well - the battle continues.  At least my brain is busy :)

Ruff Mudder

Adventuring Aussie's
So Kerri, Mum, and I -- along w/ our respective dogs, went and did a "Ruff Mudder" on Sat :).  Lol this was as much fun as it sounds.

You've heard of the Tough Mudder?  Extreme obstacle course racing?  Well this was the significantly-less-extreme "take your dog to work" version.   There were people obstacles and puppy obstacles and some obstacles which could be navigated by both.
Ready to go
To be honest, I was a little concerned going in.  There were several very dodgy things involved in the sign up (a "parking" fee that's per person not per car -- when I asked I was told "it's going to charity, everyone has to pay it".  Ummm why not just include it in the fee then?   A "discount" link that didn't give a discount to those who clicked it.  A note that "if you sign two other people up, all three of you get a small gift".  Complete radio silence about this when I asked - even when they answered a different question in the same message.  Just left me w a generally slimy feel.
Orange paw-prints lead the way
Then there was the concern that any event with a large number of dogs raises -- namely, I don't trust a large number of dog people.  And if they can't control their dog, my dog is at risk.

However - it was all good.  Other than being asked for yet more money as we arrived, the number of dogs was manageable, and, remarkably, they all seemed under control.  I was super impressed.   They were doing waves of people/dogs on course every 15 mins, but after about the 3rd obstacle, other than occasionally being passed, we were pretty much on our own.  Which was all kinds of awesome :)
Puppy Pairs!
The course itself was amazing.  Alternating between a field and the woods.   Multiple river crossings (and one river wading!), the "real" swamp you could opt out of -- but we went through it.   There was a cut back point at about 3km mark that you could skip the rest, which included the rest of the swamp.   Things to crawl over, under, and through.  Things to climb -- even a rock wall to traverse.
The second half of the rock wall was significantly more challenging than the first
There were people to guide / assist at intelligent points on the course.  While we often felt we had the whole place to ourselves, there was never any question of being lost or off course -- always people to direct as needed.  And safety was clearly a concern as obstacles were being modified based on conditions (sadly the slack line was out of order by the time we got there due to structural challenges).
Kerri and Bo emerging from the tunnel
Overall was all kinds of fun in perfect weather.   The lack of showers at the end was made up for in part by the availability of ice cream :).    Sash I think was still feeling a little sore -- she wasn't a big fan of the jumping obstacles, which usually she loves.  But otherwise lead the way through the whole thing.  Bailey just wanted to catch up with Sasha lol.  And Bo was a complete superstar.

Bo didn't want to sit for his photo

A new reality?

So I set my fb settings to Spanish - mostly interesting and good mini immersion, except the “translate this post” now translates things into Spanish lol. Theoretically more practice but mostly really just shows how much I still have to learn *sigh*. And also, it now takes real commitment to translate posts in other languages - at very least cut and paste into google translate. First world problems :)

Also, I bought myself an Oculus Quest, which I’ve been wanting since well before it was available for purchase *g*. It’s one of the first wireless VR systems and I am having so much fun. Lol first sad thing - the vr living room is much nicer than mine. Ah well. Also - with the lens correction I can almost completely undo the double vision I live with all the time - so my vision in VR is also better than in reality. Sheesh

It does require more space than we technically have in the house, which is awkward, but am making it work.

I managed to get 10k steps without leaving my tiny living room lol - amazing. Although Sasha gets very concerned when I’m playing - really doesn’t understand what’s going on and wants to either join in or help.

Also moderately entertaining watching C play Beat Saber lol - I’m sure I look absolutely ridiculous myself. Esp since I discovered you get more points for bigger motion. But I was always the kid who lifted or turned the controller with the motion, so really I was clearly just ahead of my time. I’ve also never spent so many hours consecutively playing video games in my life.

If time flies when you’re having fun, what does it mean when it goes backwards?

So my days are always back to back meetings. It’s very rare I have dedicated work time, since mostly my job is herding cats and solving other people’s problems and I need to talk to them to do that. Other than an introvert’s exhaustion at the end of each day, this I’m totally used to and completely fine with.

So explain to me why today, when my 11:30 meeting ended 10 mins early I thought, sincerely and completely, “oh good, I have 10 minutes to prep before my 3:00”. Ummmm wtf? I genuinely thought it was day-end. And totally stunned and confused that it’s actually only lunch time. Lol. On the plus side - I have all kinds of time to prep for said meeting (I really only need about 15 min and I can steal that between now and then) but the time reality gap is a little bit hard to take. Yikes!

Ah well - I got to live two days today ;)

Unexpected results

So I've been doing the exercise program Transform 20.   And mostly using it to make sure I get something that resembles exercise, not because I felt it was getting any actual results (it's only 20 mins / day and uses only body weight, so my expectations aren't high).  I'm in the middle of the 4th week and felt I was getting about the results I expected.  lol.  I know the scale isn't moving, and I haven't got to the second measuring day yet so not sure there.  But we'll see.

Anyways -- today I just didn't have it in me.   I don't really enjoy the 20 routines -- they're not horrible, and the 20 mins goes fast, but just meh.   And today I just really didn't want to.   So I decided to do Core de Force Shred 2.0.   And here, I discovered that Transform 20 really is getting results.   I had an *amazing* workout and was faster and stronger in all the moves than I've been previously (2.0s of Speed and Shred are go-to workouts for me when I want to burn off steam -- lots of punching and kicking ;).   So yeah - I'm going to be super sore tomorrow, but so very please with what I just did :)

What was I thinking?

Had a great Spanish lesson last night, and homework this week doesn't look insane (seems to be an every-other-week thing, one week reasonable, next week crazy).   And I made the mistake of taking a nap after work today, which means I'll be up for hours (loving today but already dreading tomorrow!).    So brilliant me decides "hey, why not try to translate an old Flash into Spanish."   Right.  I see no possible flaw in this situation.

So I pick one that is A - short, and B - not particularly descriptive (my vocabulary is still pretty sad).  Trying to be realistic here...

And, because I wanted to see what I could actually do -- I set rules.   Google translate only for mandatory vocabulary that I couldn't think of a substitute for (eg, no cheating and dropping whole sentences in) -- AND I would write out those words so I have them for later (this is standard practice for me).   BUT - I could use whatever text books, homework, or internet *teaching* resources required to look up how to do something as necessary.

Right - so story is written mostly in past tense -- no problem.  First sentence, good to go.  Win.
Should've quit while I was ahead...
But wait.  Spanish has two past tenses (that's a lie, but I'm simplifying here).  Two that were required by my second sentence.   And in theory, I know them both.  If you ask me to conjugate a word in either, I can do so.  Maybe iffy on some of the irregulars, but the general concept is there.   I even theoretically know when to use each one.  Theoretically.  Turns out the reality is pretty vague *sigh*. And while my CR teacher actually got the concept through my little brain, it's not in there solidly enough to make executive decisions *g*.   And not allowed to cheat with google.  So I guessed.  And in at least one case, I used the same word / situation twice, so I guessed the other way just to be sure I was right at least once.  Lol.  Right.


Then there's a tense for I "would do X" - not really sure what it's called or what it would be in English, but at least it's pretty consistent.   So filled in a few of those.

And future is easy.  Very easy.

So done right?


Oh no.   Cause just to make life exciting, Spanish has the subjunctive.  Yeah - that's about as fun as it sounds.  Essentially anything opinion / emotion / non-fact based uses a whole nother tense.  So all those previously learned future, present, past 1, past 2 skills?  Yup - only cover a portion of situations.  Frig.   And this one I've had only the vaguest exposure to -- as in I know some key trigger words that mean you should use it ("I think that..." the next verb will probably need it) and how to form it in present and one of the pasts.   And that's it.  So frig.   Needed both google and text book to guess when I should perhaps use that and remind me how exactly to make it happen.

Sheesh.

So yeah - my easy challenge?   Took almost 3h to translate 7 paragraphs.  And yes, I'm stubborn enough that I was determined to make it through.  And my brain is so spun now, I basically sent it to my teacher with a "I don't know what just happened, can you help?" lol.  We'll see if I get a response ;).  It wasn't actual homework and is definitely out of the realm of appropriate level (the class I'm in hasn't learned any subjunctive yet) so she doesn't deserve to have to correct the disaster it likely is.   But I suspect she'll be more amused than anything, so we'll see.

Choose your own adventure TV?

So I was more amused than I expected to be by today's discovery.

I was looking for background noise on Netflix while trying to assemble some Ikea furniture.  I found "You vs Wild" and didn't really thing anything of the title.  It features Bear the survival guy who I've seen on various other background noise shows in the past.  Sure why not.

So I turn it on and away I go.  But wait!   It's not *just* background noise.  In fact, it requires at least slight attention because it's interactive?!?!  

Lol it goes for a little bit and then you get a choice -- the first is something like "I have space for one more item in my pack, do I bring my grappling hook or my sling shot?" and you use your remote to pick which one you want.   Your choice will definitely have future repercussions.  For instance: at one point I got a snarky "well if I had my sling shot I could..." lol.   And at another he definitely got food poisoning a few choices after I had him eat something he really shouldn't have.

Yes it's certainly very simplistic, but I was amused and it kept my attention for a couple episodes at least.   I admit I will probably watch more later.  Frustrating though, if you pick wrong, you have to redo the whole episode from the beginning -- you can't just redo the last choice.  And my ridiculous TV only fast forwards 10 seconds at a time, so this quickly became very frustrating.    The first episode I flew through, no issues.  So I actually figured every choice was acceptable and it just changed how the story went.   But no.  In episode two I made a few choices that resulted in "I'm going to have to call my rescue team now.  The mission is aborted." and then you have to restart from the beginning :( 

On the one hand, it's very hard to take seriously -- I'm sorry, you're in this situation and you want *my* opinion on how to survive?   Dude - I haven't so much as set up a tent in more than 20 yrs.  On the other hand at times I want very much to pick the "right" solution and get him through safely to finish the mission.   But then there's the devil on my shoulder who asks "well what *would* happen if you tried to swim under a crocodile?"  lol.  These are important questions I never knew I needed answered.   Spoiler alert - it seems you cannot kill off poor Bear in his own series.   The worst you can do is put him in a situation where he has to call for air extraction ;).  But if you're bored, it's a moderately amusing way to kill some time.  Not quite TV, not quite a game...   Somewhere in-between.

Exercise would be so much more rewarding if the calories screamed as you burned them

A completely miscellaneous post of random things.   Consider yourself forewarned ;)

I've started a new exercise program -- to be honest, it's entirely an act of desperation to get me moving again.   Transform 20.  20 minutes a day for 6 weeks.  It involves a step -- which I didn't have on the first day.  Didn't think it'd make all that much a difference but I was wrong.  So very wrong.  The step exponentially increases the difficulty.   Lol other than that first day, I've yet to make it through the whole 20 minutes, but honestly it's nothing compared to some of the other programs.  Partially because it's only 20 mins, and partially because there's only bodyweight exercises.

80 Day Obsession has gotten me the best results, and I was tempted to go that route.  But I've never made it more than 20 days into it because the woman leading it drives me insane *sigh*.  It is also an hour each day, and at the moment I just don't have that in me.  Mostly cause if I don't work out before work, I won't do it at all.  And I'm not getting up that far ahead of time.   Mornings and I are not meant to be...

In other exercise news:

My dragon medal arrived this week -- it was surprisingly good quality.  Quite pleased :)

I'm really enjoying my Spanish lessons.   We get homework each week -- usually it's a few exercises in the textbook and away we go.  Listening exercises - which were the bane of my childhood experiences with French -- are my new favourite.  They literally tell you the answers!  lol.  But then last week, we had "write a biography of a famous Spanish person."  Uh - that's a bit of a jump...   Okay, so...  I want famous for something other than being famous (so no actors, singers, youtube stars, etc) -- and preferably female.  That combination cut out...  Almost everybody?!?!   Especially when I deemed that "royalty" fell in the famous for being famous category unless they actually did something with it.

My search was further limited by the fact that I was searching in English.  Lol - yes, I realize it would be a better learning experience to research in Spanish, and likely open up the range of people who meet my self-imposed categories, but...  I only have a week between classes and I really didn't want to spend my every waking moment on a homework assignment.  So, English research.   But I did find one -- "The Lieutenant Nun" lol - not so much famous, but at least lived an interesting life.   One that had to be significantly simplified to fit into my vocabulary capabilities *g*.  I was reasonably pleased with the results though and it went over well in class, so deeming that a win.   And for comparison, from my classmates we had a drug king pin, a celebrity chef, and a painter.  It made for an interesting homework review.

Also - we got our syllabus for the next several months.  Which A - is way more detailed than I was expecting, and B - there are 4 exams?!?!  I'm pretty sure that was not mentioned when I signed up for this ;).    Oh - and a pass is 75%?!?  Lol it may be time to go back to self learning ;-P.  But yeah - the classes are good, and I'm really enjoying them.

And yes I'm still reading Harry Potter -- I'm on all of chapter 4.  Poco a poco...

The Dragon Within


So I did my dragon race yesterday. My dragon within was horribly, painfully slow.  lol ah well.  At least it's done.  I have to admit the individual race idea feels a whole lot like just randomly buying medals *sigh* but it did get me off the couch to run 5k - which likely would’ve been a short stroll without the motivation, so deeming that a win. Also supports Alzheimer’s research which, well, I’d really appreciate it if someone smarter than I could solve that challenge sooner than later so happy to support. AND I’m going to get a dragon medal - so really, going to deem that a win ;)

Adult language learning

So the other day Harry Potter taught me that “shhhhh” in Spanish is .  Lol this amused me more than it should’ve.  And ajá = aha!  lol - the vocabulary you don't learn in the textbook.  Also, it’s taken me a week to get through one chapter.  Yikes!  For something actually painful, I am enjoying it more than I'd expected.  Everything I've been reading to date has been learner-focused, so very careful to use limited vocabulary and simplified grammar.  This is just a story, so I feel the grammar is a lot more natural and while this makes it more challenging (a WEEK for ONE chapter) I think it'll be helpful in the long run.  There's a lot of googling to get through a chapter; I'm pleased any time there's a full sentence that I truly understand.  Often I can get through a few paragraphs where I understand concept if not literally every word.  But then I'll hit something that I have absolutely no idea what is going on.  Lol

Last week I had my first Spanish class (well, first in Canada) -- my teacher is from Madrid (like arrived in Canada 2 wks ago) and I'm quite pleased both with her and the level of the class.  It's the right degree of challenge and I feel like I'm in the middle of the group capability wise, so all good.  It's a B1 class, so pretty pleased at that; I'm pretty proud to have made it there.  And follows Cervantes which is the same methodology that the school in Costa Rica followed which is cool.  Very conversational practice focused which is, of course, exactly what I need.  Textbooks, aps, and google can teach me grammar and vocabulary, but conversation really requires live people ;)

None of my classmates have pets though?!?  What kind of group have I landed in?!?   Lol not quite as good a fit personality-wise as the CR class was, but sobeit.  

Still not quite sure why I'm doing this, other than that it amuses me.  I like that it requires 100% of my concentration so challenges at work and life just stop because I can't give them attention while I'm learning.  My own form of meditation ;).  Lol ah well.  I also finish class feeling much like I do after a serious workout -- slightly stunned and slightly high.  Lol I have previously written about some of the random exercise adventures I've undertaken, but this one is entirely of the mental exercise variety.  Now, if only it got the same benefits as cardio ;)


Just when I think I’m getting somewhere...


Harry Potter was first released when my cousin was little and just learning to read.  I remember being at the cottage listening while his mom would have him read a page - as slowly and painfully as young children learning to read do - and then she would read a few pages to progress the story and give him a bit of a break.  Together over the summer they worked through the novel and gradually his reading improved.

So now I’m trying to read it in Spanish and wow is it ever just as painful.   Lol and while I don’t need an adult to read to me - cause let’s me honest, I’d understand even less if it were being spoken - I’d really appreciate at this moment to have a page in Spanish followed by 2 or 3 in English ;)

I’m just hanging on to the hope that my vocabulary and grasp of miscellaneous grammar that I'm not familiar with yet improves (eg it took me the longest time to figure out that pensándolo (and other 'olo' endings) = lo pensando.  The added accent completely threw me off.  And google couldn't even help with that one *sigh*)

To that end - I’ve signed up for actual, traditional, complete w text-book lessons :).  Lol it was rather serendipitous actually - the day I got home from CR, there was a fb ad for a local Spanish school having an open house for registration for spring lessons.   When I had called them last year they had no adult lessons at a time I could attend, but I figured I’d drop by and see.  Had interview / impromptu language placement test and turns out they have a class at pretty much exactly my level (they’re apparently slightly ahead in speaking, slightly behind in grammar) that starts next week at a time I can attend.  Win!   AND they use the same program as the school in CR (not certified yet but said they’re working toward it, but using the same resources and methods).  So yeah - all things came together and I’m pretty excited about it :)

A day of dramatic contrasts

So I’m sitting in the bank - which you go through an enclosed metal detector to get in, to get my exit visa. Lines in CR have chairs - as the person in front goes up, everybody moves over one chair, or up a row. Lol.
We’ll see - the security guard seemed to understand what I was after and pointed me to this line, so fingers crossed ;)
Last class this am was mostly conversational. It’s tradition here for students to give a speech to the school on their last day. Over the years I’ve trained myself to be a reasonably good public speaker, but let me tell you, switch languages and that all goes out the window. Lol I was very definitely reading from my paper with little to no inflection *sigh*. Ah well - they’re definitely used to that and I wasn’t the only one on my last day.
Chair line is moving quickly - I’m in the front row (of 2) already. Which is good cause I’m supposed to meet friends in 15 mins and since none of us have SIM cards, coordinating things is a bit more of a challenge.
We got a report card and a certificate :). Lol also got a textbook recommendation from my prof for a good book that had answers in it (v hard to self teach w no answers!)
——
So the bank experience was a horrible fail. Apparently there’s a form you need to fill out but they don’t have it there and I couldn’t understand her rapid-fire explanation. I did ask her to speak slowly because I’m learning but she had zero patience for that. So 30 mins of beautiful sunlight wasted and I still don’t have an exit visa. Fail.
Next effort is public transit - hopefully this goes better than the bank!
——
So public transit was a win! Made it there, and home again. Although home again took significantly longer due to traffic and the bus was standing room only. I got the last seat (sorry Emma!) and even still it felt claustrophobic. But - got on the right bus, had the right fare, and made it where we intended to go. Win.
San José was an interesting experience. Our goal was two different bus stations for the girls to buy tickets for their weekend adventures, and a book store our prof had told us about.
Well - turns out the bus stops are not in particularly good areas of town. Despite the fact that it was broad daylight, we were warned a couple times that it was dangerous and we shouldn’t be there. Somewhat scary. One girl stopped us when we were looking at our map sort of on the edge of the good area (it was a very clear delineation) and A - gave us directions, B - warned us to be back before dark or take a cab, and C - told Emma to carry her backpack on her front or things would be stolen from it. Yikes!
But we made it to the station, got the ticket purchased, and made it back w no drama. So that was good. Was interesting to me though the dramatic difference between the good part of town and not. Nice, clean, colourful, populated (and didn’t seem to be tourists at all, although certainly had a tourist vibe), lots of art/sculptures/murals/etc, people hawking goods, open park space, car-free walkways, lots of shops, etc. Vs deserted except for bus stops with long lines and tons of traffic, buildings in disrepair or falling down, cracked or non existent sidewalks, colourless, etc. Very dramatic difference basically from crossing the street. Certainly I wasn’t particularly comfortable being there - and had it been dark or I’d been alone, I definitely wouldn’t have. We’ve agreed that the girls going back there tomorrow will take a cab all the way.
However - the nice portion was really interesting. By far the biggest store we found was the first bookstore, so that was awesome :). Sculptures everywhere, murals on the walls, interesting cafés, every kind of shop you could imagine. Yes first bookstore - we may have gone in two ;). Disappointed you can’t browse books?!?! They all have plastic wrap on them. But I’m disproportionately excited I found Harry Potter in Spanish lol. Was way too expensive on Amazon. AND I could easily read the first paragraph. Win! I also bought what I thought was the book version of Siempre Bruja, which I watched a little of on Netflix, but it’s not actually. Lol so I’ll just have to read it and find out if it’s any good. Came from the teen section so prob a stretch for my abilities at the moment but I often enjoy YA fiction so here’s hoping.
Anyways - after that we mostly just wandered. Sophie knew of some good cafés so we headed there and got some food. There was also another bus station there in a much nicer part of town, so we didn’t have to walk back anywhere scary ;)
Sad to say goodbye to everybody - it’s amazing how fast you connect in circumstances like this. And I’ll definitely miss the lessons - they were really amazing. But tomorrow morning I head home.

Random ramblings

Today was a quiet day. Mostly cause I was tired and it was grey and chilly out. Lesson this am started w Mad Libs, which was fairly entertaining. This was followed by “tell us about your country” complete w a map provided. That was cool both from a discussion / practical speaking and listening standpoint and also from a learning all about Germany standpoint (both my classmates are German). We also had an in-depth discussion about the correct way to make coffee, the fact that barristas here apparently work in the coffee plantation before ever serving so they know every step of the process, and the difference between a French and Canadian press (apparently Canadian has two filters and French has one that is metal. Prof says Canadian is better, but to be fair, google knows nothing about this ;)

Tonight’s homework is to write a speech - yikes!

This afternoon was pretty quiet - I read in the park and watched the hummingbirds flit around. Then the girls and I went to a cafe in town recommended by our prof, where I had absolutely the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had! Amazing.

Since not much happened some random thoughts about life here :). It amuses me to no end that the store Ropa Americano (essentially American Clothes) is a super-cheap secondhand shop.
I’ve noticed that fast food drinks are served without lids. Plastic straws are still a thing here but lids, not so much.

Residence has been an interesting experience. While I like my privacy too much to want to do it for too long, for a short stay it’s amazing. Esp w this being such a small town, it’s really nice to have like-minded people to talk to, coffee and lunch breaks, homework sessions in pjs, etc. Just like first yr uni, it really puts you in the middle of things and makes it easier to get to know people. When I added a couple of the girls on FB we were talking about how short a time we’ve known each other, but then really there are comparatively v few people on my fb who know me well enough to have seen me in my pjs ;). So the time = depth rule is very much broken.
Showers here (and apparently not just in residence, is a CR thing that we didn’t experience in the resort). As my roommate put it “you can have hot water or you can have a lot of water, but not both.” So if you turn the tap just a little you get hot water, with no pressure. As you turn it more, you get more pressure but lose all heat. Sinks are cold water only. End result is that my hair hasn’t been washed all week ;). Although it has been soaked through w rain several times so we’re saying that counts ;)

The school has insanely loud bells signally start, break, and finish of class times but somehow nobody is ever on time. All week I’ve consistently been the only one on time - even counting the teachers. Lol CR time. And to be fair, they generally continue a few mins after the bell too so it balances out.

Things definitely move slower here - people on the street move so slowly I’m not sure how they ever get anywhere. Checkouts are painful. Have to readjust my mentality before going into any shop (have I mentioned lately how much I love the paneria? Lol - that in itself took a kind soul to show me how to navigate the first time. You take a tray and tonges, and place the items you wish to purchase directly on the tray. When you check out they bag your items and wipe the tray.). But yeah - every checkout is painfully slow. And most of the time I have no idea why lol. Just a thing here.
I’ve seen nobody smoking, and lots of people use the gym equipment in the park. People here seem to be either exceptionally obese or supremely fit - there doesn’t seem to be much inbetween. I’m wondering if it has to do w the hills — any kind of physical activity (cycling, running, etc) here is a serious commitment. I don’t think I could bike in this town — it’d be like the hill we lived on in Paris everywhere. So there’s no entry level fitness option for people like me ;). Not a serious athlete but occasionally like to go run a few kms w my dog. Here - no way. So you get the Uber fit who either have no car and thus are forced into fitness or who are genuinely impressive athletes (the Olympic training centre is near here) but everybody else just gets round - helped w a carb heavy local diet.

Oh and the dogs. There are dogs everywhere. I believe most are strays (although a few have collars) but unlike other places w stray dog issues, these ones all seem to be friendly and in good condition - decent weight, good coats, alert expressions, no obvious scraps etc. Mostly either alone or in pairs; I’ve yet to see more than two together. So I’m not quite sure what’s going on. I’ve seen lots of people walking their dogs so it’s clearly not just common practice to let their pets roam.

My currency comprehension is improving and now I can comparatively tell if something is expensive (eg I know how much lunch should cost in a Soda - Costa Rican eatery - etc) but I really have no grasp of what it translates to in dollars.

Think that’s enough rambling for tonight. Have to write my speech. So sad :(

So today I swam through a cloud

Right so Fitbit says I broke 20000 steps today and 220 flights of stairs. And that was entirely done in the rain. I’m now frozen and exhausted but was still an amazing trip :)
Before the trip though was morning lessons. My teacher, Santiago, is a really amazing teacher so that’s making for a v positive experience. While the grammar we’re doing is all review, the other things are all new and useful - tons of vocabulary, but more importantly nuances that either aren’t in my textbook or that I missed entirely. Like words that change their meaning entirely when they become reflexive (eg - in one case it means ‘you’re fired’ and in another ‘goodbye’).
I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I actually really enjoyed tonight’s homework. First half of the exercise was conjugating verbs to make the story make sense (meh) but the second half was to write the end of the story. And I was pleased that unlike the last time I played this game, I didn’t have to entirely dumb it down. I only needed to google two words for translation (and confirm spelling on a ton ;) - but we’ll see tomorrow how much red is required to make it grammatically correct ;). It did take me almost 2h to complete (and it’s less than a page long) but sobeit. I was also chatting throughout so fair to say it wasn’t a dedicated effort.
Trip today was hiking in a private reserve in the cloud forest. The drive there was brutal, after re reached the end of the main road the next hour was reminiscent of the African massage. It was truly horrid, and a few of us were feeling pretty notion sick by the end (that was with drugs and armbands!).
The first half of the hike was the rest of the way up the road. Misty/spitting weather and all kinds of deep, sucking, mud. Did bring back memories of childhood, but was quite the challenge of balance and coordination to avoid ending flat out in the mud. Or to lose a shoe!
Once we made it to the trail things actually got slightly easier. And it was pretty amazing, deep woods, hugely green, with occasional gaps that you could see through to the clouds. Very cool. Hike was about 3h and always either down or up, no flat spots. In a few places there were ropes tied to the ground - without those, I think we still would’ve been there! Steep and very very slick (think wet leaf-covered mud). Felt like I was in a great obstacle course doing that.
Suffice to say by the end I was soaked and pretty well covered in mud.  My shoes will never be the same again (I actually took them in the shower with me in an attempt to save them!).  And I’m now down to one usable pair of pants for the remainder of the trip lol.
But overall the whole adventure was amazing. I was not at all fit enough for it, and *really* wish I hadn’t brought my camera. It never came out of its bag and by the end my shoulders and neck were killing me! But oh well. Drive home seemed to last forever, although there were a ton of lightning bugs (which the girl from the UK had never seen before and was fascinated by!) which made it moderately amusing. I’ve never been so grateful to reach a paved road!
Anyways - very long day and definitely time for bed.  

Moving up in the world

So I did my first lesson of the day w the same group as yesterday, and while entertaining and credit to the teacher for creative and engaging teaching methods, it became clear very quickly that I was very definitely in too low a level. So at break I went to talk w the head teacher and requested a change, which she had no problem with.
Class I’m in now is 3 levels higher lol and a much better fit. They’re still learning grammar I already know, but I believe they all already know it too and for all of us it’s more of quick review and practice. So that’s way more useful. Also exposure to all kinds of vocabulary I don’t already have, which is helpful.
One of the other girls in my class also switched but in her case to a lower one. She was feeling completely overwhelmed. So there was a broad range in that group.
This afternoon we all watched a Costa Rican movie (cheating - there were English subtitles) and had a bit of a chat about social issues in CR. The entertainment director is doing his masters in that topic lol so clearly happy to take any chance he can get to engage people in his topic of choice :).
Then I hiked all the way back into town mostly because I absolutely love the cheese bread from the paneria and I feel like if I hike all the way there and back the calories don’t count ;)
Also - I learned today that grilled cheese isn’t a thing in Europe?!?! My roommates and classmates who join us for lunch (not everyone lives in res and we have a standing invite for those who don’t to join us) have a new appreciation for the wonder that is grilled cheese ;).
Also I should add I’m pretty sure I’m the only person for whom English is a first language, even though it’s the one we all use. Everybody else has at least two languages they’re fluent in and some more than that. My German roommate is learning Dutch from our other roommate - you know, along w the Spanish we’re all here for ;). I’m fairly impressed by the whole thing.
My current teacher speaks several languages and has a good grasp of what will be a challenge for different people depending on their native language. Eg - he took time to explain the difference between ‘while’ and ‘during’ which is the same in Spanish as in English, but evidently doesn’t exist in German, so that was interesting.
Have a fair amount of homework tonight but at least it’s interesting (write this story rather than any version of conjugate anything) and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s lessons!

Back to school I go ;)

Had my first currency fail today - fortunately the cashier was very patient in explaining that what I had put down did not, in fact, add up to the total ;). There was nobody behind me being held up by this so I didn’t feel as bad.
Also, I have a new appreciation for our cash-free abilities. More places here (including the trip booked by the school for Wed) are cash only and it’s a real pita. Also, change is heavier and bigger than ours and I don’t have an appropriate carrying location for it.
But on the success side - I found another grocery store more like what I’m used to and was able to locate peanut butter, so at v least I have fruit, pasta, bread, and peanut butter sandwiches to live off ;). Also found more coffee for Chris lol.
And in exciting news - I have discovered the wonder that is Pops. Lol essentially the CR version of DQ ;). Yeah - it doesn’t take much in my world. Also thoroughly undoing the health benefit of having to walk everywhere.
I have a student card again - highly amused by this. Also got the grand tour of the tiny town - there’s a fancy gym my card will get me into, but would be a workout and a half just to get there!
Disappointed and frustrated by my first lesson today. As expected my literacy far exceeds my speaking ability - apparently my accent is pretty horrid :(. But as a result they’ve put me in a very low class. I know the stuff being introduced forward and backward. Tomorrow I’m going to ask if I can switch. I feel like I can practice my speaking while still learning (or at least reviewing!) more challenging material.
The test though was super interesting. I didn’t complete it in the time allowed but was pleased that given time I was able to answer questions (admittedly w varying degrees of success) all the way to the end (test gets harder as you go). The final ones were the level of reading I’m working on on stretch days at home.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens 

So this morning I returned to San Jose to be picked up for today’s adventure. I was admittedly slightly concerned while waiting as the only other people were easily twice my age, and, well - I signed up for a hike!
Lol but it was all good - when the bus arrived, I was the only one on its list. Stopped a few times to pick up others and then on our way.
Started at a coffee plantation - not a tour so much as a bio and photo stop, and of course the opportunity to buy one’s husband the darkest coffee they have ;)
We drove through a tiny town that was packed for a strawberry festival. That’s the only time so far I’ve wished I was driving myself - I would really have liked to stop. Alas, was not on the tour :(
But when we got where we were going, it was all worth it.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens - animal sanctuary and rainforest. For the animals - zoos are no longer a thing in Costa Rica, but when they disbanded them there were some animals that couldn’t survive on their own, they may be here, or some of the ones here were confiscated from people who had them illegally as pets. One of the cats they said was in its 30s - that species usually lives to about 18. One of the other cats was pacing and I felt really badly for him, clearly bored, stressed, and frustrated. Conversely all the other animals seemed better off than any zoo I’ve been in. But really, after Africa, animals in cages just aren’t something I want to see anymore...
On the plus side - the aviary was awesome, while the butterfly area had nothing on the butterfly conservatory at home. I did get some amazing photos! Most of which are on my big camera, so will have to wait till I get home.
After lunch we went hiking through the rainforest - only free animals here :). And drizzle more than rain, although have to admit the “slippery when wet” signs amused me. When are they ever dry??? Got to see several stunning waterfalls (which have always been a fascination of mine) and, according to my Fitbit, climbed 40 flights of stairs. Will admit I was feeling it by the last set! Haven’t hit my 10k steps though - which tells you what proportion of today’s adventures was uphill! One way though - at the end was a shuttle to take you back to the beginning :). Win.
So yeah - ended up very hot, very sweaty, and fairly soaked, but with a huge grin on my face and feeling relaxed and happy. So overall win.
Our guide, Olman (sp?) was amazingly good at balancing “let people have all the time they want” with keeping those who want to move faster from feeling restrained. I was really impressed. Tour was in English so far less Spanish practice today, but other than that all good. If you’re ever down this way, look up Mid-Morning La Paz Waterfall Tours - pretty sure it’s a one-man show, and very worth it.
Oh - and I got a pet sloth :). Of the plush variety. More pleased by that than I should be.
Update on the strawberry festival - it took us more than an hour to get through that 2 block town!?!?! If we’d realized, we prob would’ve abandoned the vehicle to go get strawberries and gotten back in at the other side, but by that point all we wanted was to be very far away from there.
Took so long to get home that it was going to be well after dark before I got back, meaning I didn’t want to walk to town for food, so asked the guide if after dropping off the last person we could get fast food of some variety. Turns out other passenger was starving and equally concerned about not finding food where she was and echoed my request. He was awesome and found us food :). Win! And not only was my order fully successful in Spanish, but I managed to help her too as she had no words at all... So yeah, was pretty stoked at that. Lol you don’t have to be good if the comparison is nothing ;)
School starts tomorrow w an 8am placement test...  

Good morning :)

So jet lag got me.  I was in bed by 10 and awake - really awake - by 6.  So I have a couple nice quiet hours to myself. If I’d been more on the ball I would’ve gone down to the farmer’s market for when it opens at 6:30 - could’ve done that and made it back for when I get picked up at 7:45.  Since I didn’t, I’m just killing time - and when travelling I kill time by writing rather than reading.
Alright so the residences really are student housing :). The fridge doesn’t work, one of the bathroom floors is permanently flooded, doors are either super sticky or don’t quite close, blackout curtains don’t exist, showers have either hot water or pressure but not both, comfy looking chairs aren’t comfy, everything smells damp or musty, and I used two bed’s worth of blankets last night ;).  Lol that being said, I was a student for a long time - it’s putting me back in the right mindset for learning All the Things.
So this morning killing time, I lurked Sophie’s homework which was on the table - and it may be the placement test was right.  While I’m not 100% sure of all the answers, I got the vast majority right and there were no concepts that I haven’t learned.  Guess I find out for sure w the placement test tomorrow.  I’m the only new student here so the others all already have their groups.
It looks like it rained most of the night; I see sun and blue sky now though and am excited for today’s adventure.  I’m also glad I brought a box of oatmeal w me from home.  Lol food may be real basic this week, but I won’t starve ;)

Let the games begin

Updated to add - I wrote this as my day was going.  It is unedited and plausibly rambling.  Consider yourself forewarned.
Update two: wifi is really dodgy.  Don’t have enough power to upload photos :(.  Serious fail since they make the story much better.  Will have to add them in later; in the interim, will try and post some to fb.
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I am here!  I am amazed, slightly overwhelmed/terrified, and enjoying every minute of it :)
I managed the customs conversation almost entirely in Spanish (he was v patient given that I’m quite certain he’s at least moderately fluent in English) and the drive to the school...  oh let me tell you, small talk is a whole new degree of painful when you don’t really speak the language!   Lol Eduardo (my driver both for today and tomorrow’s adventure) speaks no English beyond “hello” but he was incredibly patient w my attempts at Spanish and spoke very slowly so I could follow, which was awesome.
The drive was terrifying - there’s a festival in San Jose this wknd so traffic was insane.  Picture Toronto traffic at it’s worst, then take away all lanes (standard seems to be “if I fit, I go”) and any adherence to street signs (like stop ;).   Eduardo was totally fine w it other than telling me usually that’s not normal Saturday traffic but omg.
Got to campus - which is entirely secured, which is nice.  It’s also fairly stunning :).  Was shown to my cottage and my room, and managed to ask how to find food (greeter also seems to have very little English - yeah immersion).  So now I have directions, more keys than I have to my own house along w the code to the gate, cash, and hunger as a driving force to go exploring.
There are signs I’ll have a cottage mate but she’s not here now.  Sooo. Off I go!
——
Walk in was no problem.  Have to admit the first several streets I crossed I found another pedestrian and tagged along behind them ;). Lol I have no idea where cars are coming from! Getting more confident as I go but was pretty dodgy the first few times.
So now I’m sitting in the town park being glared at by the impressive town church, enjoying a random festival that seems to be going on.  Very high energy, singers and dancers.  Tamborines seem to be a big part of this.  Random dude selling balloons.  Kids on bikes goofing around.  I just grabbed a seat and settled in.   It’s bright, sunny, and warm - but drizzling ever so slightly.  Odd but amazing.   I’ve also located but not yet entered grocery store, bread store, and street meat.
The sidewalks are in questionable condition which makes it more of a hike than the same walk at home would be, and traffic is crazy so not walking on the road.  The walk back is straight uphill - like the kind of hill I lived on in Fredericton.  So groceries will be limited.  But that’s for future Lauren - now enjoying the music and not having anywhere to be.
——
I have now successfully ordered and paid for food in Spanish :).  And continually meeting people who are exceptionally patient w my efforts.  Now - if the food that arrives is actually what I think I’ve ordered, we’ll deem it a win :)
Also - background music is now Queen?!?!   Lol yet somehow it works...
So I took my dinner back to the park and was so close...   lol somehow I got two burgers instead of one - which to be fair is how it looked on the menu but since that made no sense to me I assumed I misunderstood.  Alas no.  Also fries came drenched in ketchup and mayonnaise, which is not really my ideal - for future reference ;).  But really didn’t need them w the extra burger!   And coke tastes v different but still good.
Also - dogs speak a universal language:). Met a v sweet German shepherd.
Very much want to stay but the sun is setting and I feel like it would be a good idea to find groceries and get home before dark.
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Right - groceries were a bit of a fail.  I found bread but no butter or jam.  Eggs - but only in like 30 packs, which is more than a little excessive for one person for one week so I left those behind.  Came home w bread, apples, coke, and absolutely no idea about how much money I’ve spent today.  Lol I have zero concept of the currency here.   I was buying things in local stores though so I feel like prices were probably reasonable.
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The walk back was about 15 min from the edge of town at a solid march.  Spent nearly 7h on a plane today and still got my 10k steps :)
I felt safe walking around the town, and police presence was very visible throughout.  Given that all the homes seem to have security gates I’m sure there’s something there, but certainly for wander around populated areas and find food it was no problem.
I’ve met my roommate, Sophie, from Germany.  Apparently there’s another girl too but she’s away for the wknd.  It looks like I’m in a class by myself next week?!?  Not too sure about that - also know that I test higher in reading and writing than I can actually speak, so maybe when I actually talk to them they’ll bump me back down and I’ll get a group.  But we’ll see...  And apparently our fridge doesn’t work.  Fail.
Have a v early start tomorrow.  Jet lag works in my favour going this way, I’m kinda dreading the reverse when I come home.

Interpretive Spinning?


Right, so I posted this video with the comment "What did I just watch?  And why do I want to try it?"  I was reasonably amused that the first two comments were:

  • Friend 1:  For your own safety, please don't!
  • Friend 2: Please let me know when.  Will bring hi def camera to capture the magnificence as it happens.
lol the two types of friends, ladies and gentleman :).  I'm very pleased to have both.

And yes, I tried it.  Lol you can’t possibly be surprised by this.   

Lesson one - remove all tension from the bike.   Hmmmmm occurs to me I forgot to put it back on - next spin workout may start w more drama than required.

So taking the first advice in mind, and rejecting the idea of any video evidence, I started w just sitting on the bike making the pedal go w one leg.  Okay great.

Then tried the same thing standing.  This is significantly harder than you’d expect ;).  But I got it going, and was able to bring my right leg over to the left side both by going over the seat and across the bar in the front (*not* over the handles - just the bar).   I’m not super flexible or coordinated so I’m pleased this was injury free.

I also made the very conscious choice to work my onesidedness to my advantage.  Left leg is stronger and my balance is better -- it gets to peddle.  Right leg is more flexible and coordinated -- it gets to move around.

Okay so I can pedal (not long, admittedly, and there were a few times I’d get almost to the top and then it would fall back the other way which either resulted in 12 yo me giggling or adult me expressing adult language) -- but theoretically I can pedal and move leg around.  Okay, that’s a start.

But I was very aware I was holding to the handles as though I were hanging from a 10th story window...   So I forced myself to pry one hand off and see what happened.

And admittedly it wasn’t tragic.   Turns out years of riding has given me reasonably good balance ;).  And I could do this very ungraceful star shape thing...   But - I DID IT.   Lol not pretty or graceful, but it happened.

However - the vast majority of the movements this young lady is demonstrating requires no hands.  This, this is beyond my current capabilities.   Lol failed.  More than once.

So out of curiosity I broke it down.  Can pedal seated w no hands, one foot or two, no problem.   Can pedal standing with no hands, at least for a few rotations, all good.   But w only one foot pedalling?  No.  Just no.   I can go exactly half a rotation before I need to hold on.  Fail.

And obviously no grace or coordination or linking of actions.

More entertaining than you’d think though ;).  The standing start is easy and  may be how I get on my bike from now on.   Standing w no hands I found an entertaining personal challenge so may work that into some of my spin workouts.  Don’t know if I’ll fight the battle to learn the no hand, one leg, rotation or not, but the whole activity added a degree of entertainment to my Saturday.

If you choose to try it - lmk how it goes for you :)