Here there be dragons...

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

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...