Saturday, December 24, 2005

A review of "Happily Ever After"

"Happily Ever After"
This is a great French film by Yvan Attal, starring Attal and Charlotte Gainsbourg. It’s a fascinating exploration of marriage, focusing on one relationship in particular, with a few glances into the lives of several other couples. Even though much of it made me cringe – why do married people so often treat each other in such awful ways? – the acting is superb and I was completely sucked in.

Johnny Depp’s cameo is a plus. My only complaint is that the end seemed completely inconsistent with the rest of this grittily realistic movie. I have no idea what that was about, but it’s forgiven.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A review of "Chicago (Widescreen Edition)"

by Rob Marshall

Chicago: I watched this on DVD last night; maybe it’s better on the big screen. I found it impossible to care about any of the characters, who were one-dimensional and cardboardish. Maybe that’s to be expected in a musical, but the plot was also insufficient to interest me. The music is just ok – did not leave me humming (with the exception of the song “All That Jazz”). The only redeeming features of this musical are a couple of spicy dance routines – gymnastic and energetic. The rest is just, eh, so-so.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Idoru, by William Gibson

I finished reading "Idoru", by William Gibson.

December was pretty busy and I didn’t have much time for reading. I had to read this book in bits and pieces over the course of the last few weeks, so I couldn’t get into it very deeply. I kept forgetting who the characters were and what was happening. It’s a bad idea to read a book like this over a long stretch of time. Next book I read, I will try for more focus.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

200K - complete!

Finished the last 10K tonight, hooray! Now I need to catch up on my weightlifting workouts, where I’ve been slacking off.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

145K complete

I was in a hurry last night, so I only did a 5K. Fifteen days into the Challenge, I find the rowing has gotten significantly easier since I started this winter. Usually it’s the other way around, and I’m beginning to drag at this point. I don’t know what’s different this time except that I hadn’t rowed for about six months when I started the Challenge.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Day 9

Did another 10K on my rower for the Holiday Challenge, just now!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Did another 10K

Despite the fact that I had no energy whatsoever. That puts me at 80K into the Holiday Challenge.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Day 7

Yes, another 10K, despite the fact that I got only 5 hours of sleep. Yay me! That makes 70K so far ...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Day 5

I only got 5 hours of sleep last night. I was very tempted to blow off the workout today. At the last minute, I changed my mind. It actually went pretty well.

See more progress on: Complete the Concept2 Holiday Challenge 2005

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Day 4

Did another 10K on my Concept2 this evening – that’s 20% complete. Also, weightlifting in the afternoon! Last day of a glorious long weekend ...

See more progress on: Complete the Concept2 Holiday Challenge 2005

Book recommendation: Practical Ethics

I finished re-reading Peter Singer's "Practical Ethics". This is a must-read book for anyone who asks themselves "Why should I behave in a particular way?", "What is the right thing to do?". Singer's explorations of these questions are not based in religion at all; his approach is purely ethical.

But the book is called "Practical Ethics" and Singer does not speak in general terms only. He examines several hot topics that are still relevant today (the book was published in 1979): affirmative action, animal rights, abortion, euthanasia, and obligations of the affluent to reduce "absolute poverty."

Many thumbs up!


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Why I want to meet Peter Singer

I’ve read a couple of his books: "Practical Ethics" and "The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush". "Practical Ethics" made a big impression on me as a teenager. I wrote Singer a letter, and he actually replied (wish I’d kept the reply!).

Judging from his books, Singer has an interesting mind, and I just think it would be fascinating to chat with him over the backyard fence once in a while. Ethics is a vital subject, yet it’s so hard to find people who are interested in discussing it – let alone people who are interested in acting on it.

Day 3

Did another 10K. It’s pretty difficult to keep going, I am so not used to it.

Also did weightlifting this afternoon, again. It's going to be hard to keep up the combination when I go back to work on Monday.

See more progress on: Complete the Concept2 Holiday Challenge 2005

Friday, November 25, 2005

Day 2

Did the second 10K this evening. I also did a weightlifting workout this afternoon!


If two people deliberately developed a plan to screw up their relationship, they couldn't do a better job than these two did without trying.

5x2 by François Ozon should probably be required viewing for couples intending to marry, sort of as a how-to course on what not to do. Personally, I wish I hadn't bothered watching this movie. I felt no empathy for these characters whatsoever; they were sulky, passive, and childish... and in an almost completely boring way.

Thumbs down!

See more progress on: learn french


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Day 1

Finished the first 10K today, post-holiday meal. Good start.

See more progress on: Complete the Concept2 Holiday Challenge 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Concept2 Holiday Challenge

The plan is to row 200K (that’s kilometers) on my Concept2 between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve been doing this since 2003. This year it will be tough; I haven’t used the rower since June. My excuse is that the summer is for hiking. But now that the days have grown dark and grim, indoor rowing is the way to go.

I have a feeling my weightlifting schedule is going all to shit for the next month.

Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

"Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior" stars Tony Jaa, a martial artist from the Thai boondocks, out to recover his village's sacred relic. The movie is worth watching for the chase scene through a Bangkok market area alone, and there are lots of good fight sequences as well.

The irony is heavy what with all that violence going on for the sake of recovering... well, the head of a Buddha. But ok, let's not start picking nits on the plot, which is not what I watch a martial arts movie for anyway.

Thumbs up!


Monday, November 21, 2005

I meditated for 20 minutes yesterday evening, but I felt all twitchy all over, as if my body didn’t want to sit still. I suspect this was due to my hike earlier. It was hard to sit still for the full 20 minutes, and it was not very restful, but I did it.

See more progress on: meditate daily

Sunday, November 20, 2005

hiking today!



The weather guy said it would be "mild". I decided to get going in the afternoon, to give things a chance to really warm up. Unfortunately, when I went out, it was actually a bit nippy, I'd guess around 50 F, and also a bit windy, which didn't help.

It's mildly depressing hiking (or doing anything) at this time of the year because the sun stays so close to the horizon even at midday. Sort of feels like evening no matter what time it is. And no, it doesn't really feel like dawn at all - evening is the mood. Really best to hibernate till spring...

Still, it was a nice hike. Clear skies, and never a soul in sight, except for a few startled deer. Very quiet.

See more progress on: go hiking

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Skipped breakfast today!

This is the first year that I did this.

I'm planning to do this every year from now on.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

weightlifting at night

I left work late, at 8 pm, so I wound up lifting pretty late - at 10 pm. That's always a bit rough for me. I like to get to bed around 10. I can't hit the sack directly after lifting; I'm wide awake.

Tonight the soundtrack to my workout came from the Evanescence album "Fallen".

There is not a single track on this album which is not excellent. However, there are two quiet, pensive tracks which I usually skip through when working out. These are track 4 - "My Immortal" - and track 11 - "Whisper". These are great songs, just no good for lifting (fine for the cool down afterwards though).

I bought the album mainly for the track "Bring Me To Life", but after playing the CD through a few times I found it really ate into me. I couldn't stop playing the thing; I played it during almost every workout for about 4 months. I play it less, lately, but it remains one of my all-time favorite albums.


Skip a meal for Oxfam

Tomorrow's the day. Wonder if I’ll skip breakfast, lunch or dinner? Probably breakfast. It’s cheating a bit, but I’ll probably collapse at work if I don’t have lunch... It’ll be bad enough skipping breakfast.

See more progress on: Read one book a month

tags: ,


I'm reading the article "Inside the Mind of a Savant" in the current issue of Scientific American (December 2005 - not available online at the moment). It's a study of an individual savant, Kim Peek, who has especially curious talents. Among other things, he reads rapidly (about 10 seconds per page) and memorizes it all, and is somewhat unusual among savants in actually comprehending much of what he reads. Kim Peek was the inspiration for the main character in the movie Rain Main.

It's an interesting story, short, and worth reading. The illustration on p.  112, comparing a normal brain with Kim Peek's brain, is pretty cool.

If you pick up this issue, be sure to read the article "Sick of Poverty" by Robert Sapolsky, also a good read.

tags: savant, poverty

Monday, November 14, 2005

Peter Singer's "Practical Ethics"

I will very rarely re-read a book – there are so many books out there, too many for one lifetime.

So it’s a bit odd that I’m re-reading "Practical Ethics" by Peter Singer. It’s a book that I read many years ago. I’ve changed a lot since then, and I wanted to refresh my memory.

In the interests of frugality I checked the book out from the library… I’m now up to chapter 3.

tag: books

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code

I read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code a while back, maybe six months or a year ago. So my memory of what Brown purports to be true is shaky at best.

In any case, I never assumed that any of the supposed "facts" described in the book were true, because, you know, it's a novel, despite certain claims made by the author. But the claims made me curious about just how much of the story was supported by documented evidence. And then a discussion at prompted me to look around for more info on the topic. I found just that in historian Bart D. Ehrman's "Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code".

Ehrman does a good job of dissecting Dan Brown's novel. I won't go into detail, but according to Ehrman, most of Brown's "historical" claims are pulled out of a hat. I like Ehrman's book because he approaches the discussion from the view of a historian and is fairly scientific about it.

The book is definitely worth the read - I wish I'd read it directly after reading The Da Vinci Code. I was afraid it would be horribly dry and boring, but I went through it pretty quickly. Ehrman goes into some details about various gospels that didn't make it into the official Bible. I already knew that these existed, but not in any detail. So it was quite funny to read about the "Infancy Gospel of Thomas" which makes Jesus look like a real terror as a boy, striking his playmates dead or aging them in an instant.

Then there's this description of Jesus' emergence from the tomb, taken from the Gospel of Peter, which reads like something straight out of a science fiction novel:

From the tomb there emerge three men; the heads of two of them reach up to the sky. They are supporting the third, whose head reaches up beyond the skies. Behind them emerges a cross. A voice then speaks from heaven: "Have you preached to those who are asleep?" The cross replies, "Yes"....

Yow, that's mind-blowing stuff!! This is interesting on its own, forget about The Da Vinci Code! So this book gets two thumbs up from me.

As a postscript, I have to note that some kind (??) person took the trouble of sticking a post-it note on p 183 with the message: "Suggestion from a previous reader: skip from the bottom of pg 181 to the bottom of pg 183. Context there will turn your stomach and is not necessary for comprehension of the import of this book" (followed by a smiley-face no less!). Despite the warning I went straight through that text, which described a slightly gory, apocryphal sex ritual which didn't phase me in the least; I guess I am jaded. (In contrast, the factual description of the events surrounding the discovery of the Nag Hammadi, on 36 ff, did sicken me just a little.)

See more progress on: Read one book a month

tag: books

Rockpile cave

Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
Rockpile cave at mile 1.31 of the Reservoir Section of the Mattabesett trail.

Back in form

I went for a 4 hour hike today, completing the Reservoir section of the Mattabesett trail. My pace was better than usual, about 2.3 miles per hour.

This was a difficult hike. On this section of the Mattabesett trail, there are several fairly steep slopes that are a bit hard going up, but terrible going down - especially because they are now covered with deep piles of leaves. Further, this section seems to be frequented by dirt bikers, especially after mile 2. I didn't actually see any, but the peace of my hike was frequently disturbed by the growl and buzz of their engine noise. This was all topped off by an encounter with a group of people with "friendly" unleashed dogs that leaped up on me, slobbering all over my clothes. Thanks!

Despite all that, it was a great day, and a nice hike. I think now that I've completed the Reservoir section I won't be heading back there though! Not my cup of tea.

See more progress on: go hiking

Saturday, November 12, 2005

twice this week

I meditated for 20 minutes twice this week. At least I am making some progress towards this goal.

See more progress on: meditate daily

Friday, November 11, 2005

Who needs a workout?

I do! I've been a total slacker this week. I went hiking last Sunday and haven't done a damned thing since then. I am still feeling the effects of the flu that hit me last week - mainly fatigue.

Today I got back on the wagon and did 30 minutes of weight-lifting. Felt great. Whew, I really needed that!

What's my blog worth?

My blog is worth $0, and I am damn proud of it! ;-)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

New Goal: Learn to surf

I've added a 43things goal: I want to learn to surf. I've wanted to learn to surf for a very long time. One of those things that's so easy to put off. Doh! But now that it's an official goal, I will think about how to really get working on it.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


I’m just beginning to recover from the flu, so maybe it was stupid, but I had to go hiking today. The weather was awesome for this time of year – almost 70 F. Unfortunately I couldn’t hike for long. I got exhausted pretty quickly. I hope I can do more tomorrow.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Comme une Image

I am biased towards French movies; I like listening to the spoken French. Even without considering the language, Look at Me is worth watching. Directed by Agnès Jaoui, it examines the dysfunctional relationships in the life of an egotistical celebrity and his needy daughter, Lolita.

The acting is uniformly good and believable. The only part of the plot that is hard to swallow is Lolita's sudden transformation at the end. It's just a little too hopeful, given all the emotional baggage that she's been toting around for her entire life. Jean-Pierre Bacri is a solid actor and does an excellent job playing the insensitive father.

Thumbs up!


Movie review

I'm dreadfully ill this week with a case of the flu - it has lasted 7 days now. So I've spent quite a lot of time reading and watching movies. Here's another movie review.

Born into Brothels is a documentary about the children of sex workers in the red light district of Calcutta. I expected this movie to be pretty depressing, but the children are so childishly upbeat and playful, overall, that you don't get bogged down with feelings of despair. Definitely worth the watch. And while you're at it, check out the organization that was started to help these children: Kids with Cameras.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Movie review

Red Cockroaches directed by Miguel Coyula: Just because a movie is weird does not mean it is good. Yes, there are hints of David Lynch here. But I didn't follow any of the sci-fi elements, and the rest of the plot is sordid in a tired, rather than an intriguing, way. Two thumbs down.


Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

To celebrate Halloween, I watched Hide and Seek, starring Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning. I liked certain subtleties that were reminiscent of The Shining, but for the rest, the movie was fairly predictable and insufficiently scary. Thumbs down, I'm sorry to say!


Maybe this goal is too easy

I enjoy reading! But in the last year I’ve cut back a bit due to competing entertainment channels (movies on dvd). I’ve started reading a bit more, in the last two months, so maybe I don’t really need a specific goal to do this. But I don’t want to get out of the habit again, so I’m adding this goal as a reminder.

I most recently finished Mammoth, by John Varley. I’m a fan of John Varley but found this new one a bit disappointing. I also read Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America in October.

"Mammoth" by John Varley

"Mammoth", the latest science fiction novel from John Varley, is both entertaining and disappointing. I don't want to give away much about the plot, since it is probably best to read the book fresh without any information, as I did.

It's a fast read, and the plot is reasonably interesting. But I found the characters to be stale and not engaging, like the characters you find in a mediocre Hollywood film. And I'd swear that Varley is looking to sell the novel to Hollywood, with various jarring references to brand name products scattered around. Also, there were little inconsistent details that annoyed me throughout the book; nothing that affected the major plotline, just things that didn't make sense, but went unexplained. For example, and not to give anything away, when you've been taking all of your meals from a candy machine for a few days and you (presumably) don't have the use of a toothbrush, I don't think anyone will enjoy kissing you. Details like that jumped out at me and made me lose my focus.

I've read and thoroughly enjoyed a number of the early novels by John Varley - for example, "Ophiuchi Hotline", and the Gaea trilogy ("Titan", "Wizard", and "Demon"). I wish I could rec this book, but I would never buy it! I borrowed it from the library, and it's not a waste of time to read, when you're in the mood for something light (which I was - good vacation reading material).


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"The Da Vinci Code" is Entertaining

Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" is a quick read. It's a suspense story that starts with a murder in Paris, and cascades into plots and conspiracies linked to strange claims surrounding the origins of Christianity. There's a bit of controversy surrounding the book (some Christians in an uproar), but I don't give a hoot about that. The book is entertaining; I didn't need to think too hard when reading it, but it didn't bore me to tears, either.

I just wish there were some notations in an appendix that helped distinguish known facts from the invented bits. These links are somewhat helpful: Bizarre Facts, Dan Brown's FAQ. The Wiki page is a little messy. It has a “Criticisms” section, which is not entirely convincing.

It’s interesting that, at the moment, when I use this google search I get a sponsored link from the Opus Dei site!


Finished Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America"

"The Plot Against America" – I can’t exactly recommend this. It tells the story of what might have happened if the anti-Semitic Charles Lindbergh had run against FDR in 1940, and won.

As a rule I don’t like alternate histories, and I guess this is no exception. I enjoyed the first chapters, told from the POV of Philip Roth, the child. But I didn’t enjoy the last few chapters, which tell the story primarily in a more dry, reportorial manner.

The good thing about a book like this, though, is that it helps to make history come alive. I hated history as a school subject. For the most part, the story is engaging. As an alternate history, it made me more curious about real history than anything I read as a student. I wish I’d been exposed to such interesting approaches to history when in school – it would have helped to make real past events much more interesting and memorable.

So: thumbs up for struggling history students, I guess.

I’ve got to post my favorite quote from the book [p 346 of the hardcover edition]: "I was still too much of a fledgling with people to understand that, in the long run, nobody is a picnic and that I was no picnic myself."


Monday, October 17, 2005

It's "Achieve Financial Independence Week"!

Achieve Financial Independence Week is the third week in October – this October 16-22. The Stower's Innovations Newsletter talks about it; in fact, they invented the week. Here's another link to

Yes, it’s a hokey marketing gimmick to get people to buy insurance. But don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater; there are some good ideas and suggestions in the newsletter. Food for thought.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Thumbs down

I just finished watching Admissions, but I can't recommend it. It's like a highly produced teen movie of the week. It's not that the performances were bad, just that the content wasn't there.

One little tree

One little tree
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

One brave little tree on an island, doing its thing for Autumn. The view is from the Mattabesett trail, where I took my hike today.

Went for a hike

I was eager to go for a hike today, since the rain finally stopped. The roads are still flooded in places, and I saw waterfalls in unusual places.

Unfortunately, the rain was replaced by gusty winds. It was as if Mother Nature took a look around at all the green leaves still on the trees, and decided that if they couldn’t be removed by persuasion, they would be ripped from the branches by force.

I don’t like hiking when it’s so windy, and normally I might have passed on the hike today. But the season is almost over, so I had to give it a try. I finally turned around after about 30 minutes. The winds were so strong I was worried about trees coming down on my head!

almost finished reading The Plot Against America

I’m reading the postscript now.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Movie rec

Worth watching: Off the Map. It's a thoughtful indie movie, a quirky movie; don't expect a profound ending, but the story is enjoyable. Something that resonated with me in particular was the believable claim that the family was living in New Mexico on an income of $5K per year (quite some time ago, I guess, maybe in the seventies?). Really nice cinematography too.... How can you go wrong in New Mexico?


Another hike

It has been raining all week, which discouraged me from hiking. Well, there was finally a break today. I went out for a nice 50 minutes. The trails are quite flooded – in some areas, they’ve turned into little streams. It was absolutely beautiful, and felt great to be out, anyway. I hope I can go again tomorrow.

Weightlifting workout

Just finished working out.

I'm loving the "Queer As Folk" soundtrack CD that I bought recently. I love working out to dance music, it's great for weightlifting! The only song that's a workout dud is Suffering by Jay-Jay Johanson - far too slow and pensive. My favorites are Spunk (of course!), You Think You're a Man, Dive in the Pool, and Crying at the Discotheque. All the other tracks are energetic as well - perfect to get me moving.

This is how I typically run through it:

1. Spunk (always play)
2. Dive In The Pool (always play)
3. You Think You're A Man (always play)
4. Proud (sometimes skip)
5. Lovin' You (sometimes skip)
6. Crying At The Discoteque (always play)
7. Suffering (always skip)
8. Shake Me (sometimes skip)
9. Summerfire (sometimes skip)
10. Start Rockin' (always play)
11. Do Ya (Feel The Love) (sometimes skip)
12. Let's Hear It For The Boy (sometimes skip)
13. High School Confidential (sometimes skip)
14. Straight To...Number One (always play)
15. Spunk ('Thank You!' Version) (always play)

tags: , ,

Friday, October 14, 2005

Car report

My car is a 1995 Geo Metro, which I bought reluctantly, but which I now love. It ran like a charm up until a few years ago, when it began to develop age-related problems.

The latest problem was a nagging worry for about the last six to eight months. The airbag light would flash on, for no particular reason, after I'd been driving the car for a little while. It would flash for about seven times as if it were signalling me in Morse code, and then it would stop. This is the same pattern that it flashes when you first turn the key in the ignition and all the other dashboard lights turn on as well.

The first time it happened I was in the middle of an hour-and-a-half drive, and it scared me - I was worried to continue driving. But quickly I grew used to it. I asked my mechanic about it, but he told me there was no way to diagnose the problem since it did not occur with regularity - no way to experiment on it while in the garage.

Eventually it went from flashing once every now and then to several times on every ten-minute trip. Finally I began to notice a couple of other lights flashing on briefly as well: the ABS light, and the battery warning light. With the battery warning light I took the car into the shop again. They checked the battery and said it was fine. The day after that, the battery light came on and did not go off from then on. Oddly no other lights came on: no more airbag light flashing or anything. But the daytime running lights didn't come on either.

The good thing was that, with the battery warning light on constantly, there was something for the mechanic to actually work with.

And well, it appears that they fixed the problem, knock on wood. They have replaced the alternator, which they say was faulty. They now tell me that the alternator can cause problems like the airbag light flashing (but if that's true, then why didn't they just check the alternator six months ago??). Since the new alternator has been in place for the past several days, there have been no more flashing lights, the battery warning light is off, and the daytime running lights are happily shining as usual. Hopefully that is the end of that!

Cost: $275 for a new alternator, and $225 for labor (@ $83/h).

This is going pretty quickly

I started reading Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America a few weeks ago. It was pretty quick reading, but then I put it down to read something else. I recently picked it up again, and it’s going pretty quickly. Should be done soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

summer is over

I didn’t go backpacking, although I did go for a hike with my backpack. I don’t think I’ll get to go backpacking this year; my weekends are packed with other things and there’s not much time left. Disappointing.

There’s always next summer though!

Sunday, September 25, 2005


It’s weird but it’s fun. Can’t explain why I do this.

View from the White Trail

View from the White Trail
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
I went hiking briefly at the tail end of Saturday afternoon. It's really starting to feel like autumn, which is always a bit depressing to me. Days get shorter, means hiking opportunities are beginning to dwindle. *Sigh*

On the other hand the weather was superb for hiking, nice and cool, sunny, no bugs!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Skip a Meal for Oxfam

I’m adding this here because I planned to do it last year, but forgot about it. The day to do this is Nov 17, this year (exactly one week before Thanksgiving). It won’t be easy, skipping a meal during the work week. Still, it’s relatively very easy when I can do it by choice, and so many have no other option.

If you’re interested take a look here:

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I went rollerblading on Saturday!

I went rollerblading on Saturday morning. I got to the nearby rail trail at around 7:30 am. Near the trail there’s a parking lot to an open mall. I didn’t see any signs forbidding rollerblading or anything else for that matter, so I went skating in the lot instead of on the trail. I like skating in open places much more than along rail trails.

I haven’t been rollerblading in a long time, and it was pretty difficult to start; I was never very good at it to begin with. So I just spent the time practicing.

Friday, September 16, 2005

downhill, of course

I first went skiing in my late twenties, with friends from grad school. I fell down sooo many times that first day. I’ve improved but I’m still stuck in the intermediate rut, because I’ve never gotten enough practice. But I love it and I’ll keep working at it until I’m expert!

never get enough

The first time I went backpacking it was a three-day event with friends. I thought I would like it, and it turned out I loved it. I’m hooked; can’t do this often enough.

The longest I’ve been out for was only 5 days. I would love to do a really long trail some time, 6 months or whatever. I don’t know if my body can handle it, but I want to try!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

4.75 hour hike - Beseck section of the Mattabesett

blue blazes along Beseck section

For my latest hike, I did the Beseck section of the Mattabesett trail, from Rt 68 to 66 and back. It took me 4.75 hours to cover the approximately 12-mile round trip, making my pace about 2.5 mph. I hadn't intended to do the whole section, so I had insufficient food and water. I have difficulty resisting the urge to complete a section once I get on it.

This section of the Mattabesett is a nice cliff walk. It would be nicer if it weren't for the fact that the views are mostly of suburban subdivisions. Unfortunately, for most of the trail you get the constant raucous noise of suburbia - traffic, engines, especially lawn mowers, and loud-speakers near some resort area. Connecticut trails!

In case you forgot, you're in suburbia


This particular section of the Mattabesett is poorly described in the Connecticut Walk Book. There are a few items of interest. There's a section in the middle where raspberry bushes are growing right next to the trail. Delicious and plentiful - I came upon them at just the right part of the season, it seems. After this, you come to a small ski area that appears to be entirely defunct. I know that the Powder Ridge ski area is in the vicinity, but I don't think there's a connection with this one. There are just a few chair lifts that end where the blue trail crosses the cliff. Looking down to the east from here, you can see the small pond that must have once fed the snow-blowers that still sit, rusting away.

Abandoned ski area

Beyond the ski area you come to an overlook populated by three car wrecks. It must have been an interesting drive getting those cars up there. I wonder what the story is there.


View of Black Pond

Farther on, you come to several nice views of Black Pond (although this section is called Beseck, I never saw a view of Beseck Lake, which is off to the east). After a while, the trail curves away from the cliff as it leads to Rt 66. There's an old chimney just to one side of the trail in here. I have to wonder what the story is there, as well. Was there really a house here, once? Trail conditions from this area to Rt 66 are poor. At some point there's so much blowdown that you really have to take care not to get off-trail.

I picked up a couple of ticks near Rt 66. They were large; either adult deer ticks or wood ticks. Fortunately I noticed them in time and removed them before they had latched on. The insect population on the trails seems excessive this year. I'm frequently pestered by deer flies, which haven't been a problem in past years. Maybe it's the excessive heat and humidity this year.

Population on the trail was slim. I passed an old fellow with a straggly white beard, looking a bit like a Buddha, sitting with his dog at a view point along the cliffs. On my return, I passed two people picking raspberries. Other than that, no one. You might think it's the weather that's been keeping people off the trails, but in my experience CT trails are just generally dead, aside from major holidays. This may or may not be fortunate. I like the solitude but I think the trails are in major danger due to lack of use. Probably 100 years from now there will be no trails left, they will all be plastered over with pavement, subdivisions, and lawn mowers.

On the way out, I tried to avoid the hairy 0.2-mile walk along Rt 68 to my car by leaving the blue trail early and following the railroad tracks. Following the tracks seems a little risky, I don't know how bad it would be if a train passed by. And there's no great exit from the tracks onto Rt 157, which passes under the tracks. Rt 157 doesn't have any more space for walking than Rt 68 does, but it's much less trafficked. Can't believe they put the blue trail blazes along that stretch of 68, but I guess they had no other option.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

I went for a 3.5 hour trail hike today, did the Trimountain area of Mattabesett. Today happens to be the birthday of a good friend, so I threw a little on-trail party for her. She's off traveling now, but that's no reason to skip the celebration!

It was somewhat humid, but reasonably good weather for hiking. I did about 8 miles with a pace just a little more than 2 mph. Felt great!

flickr photo stream for the hike

Saturday, July 16, 2005

2 hour hike today

spotted wintergreen

Went for 2 hours on the Paug and Trimountain section of the Mattabesett trail. Very humid, but it was great to get out.

I took some photos along the way; they're published at flickr. I also found a great site for identifying Connecticut wildflowers - the Connecticut Botanical Society.

See more progress on: go hiking

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Hiked for 3.75 hours today

I started early, decided to attempt a loop that would connect Mattabesett with the new Lone Pine Trail. I wasn't sure how long the whole thing would take, since Lone Pine is a new trail, not in my maps. But I planned on a max of 6 hours (so I'd turn around by 3 hours if I wasn't sure of the loop time, at that point).

I parked at the Mattabesett lot off of route 77. The rain from last night had helped to cool things down, which felt good, though a bit humid. That first hike straight up off of route 77 going west is always a bit jarring, really gets the heart pumping. It was at the top of that scramble that I saw this weird little orange-accented millipede.

Soon after, I had my first fall, due to the damp and slippery rocks. I slid straight down a rock and landed on my butt, giving myself a nasty gash. My tailbone is still aching. After a brief pause to collect myself, I forged on to the lovely view of the Coginchaug Valley and Myer Huber Pond.

I was pretty sure if I kept hiking along the blue trail I must come to the Lone Pine Trail fairly soon, based on previous trips. Voilà, after 40 minutes of travel, I came to the first intersection with LPT, the white blazed blue-dot trail. The trail was flooded with a tiny stream here, due to the soaking rain of last night. I followed this branch of the LPT down to its intersection with the blue blazed red-dot branch.

The stream crossing along the way had become unmanageable, but I found a point close to the trail where some windfall could be used as a bridge. At the next point where the trail met the stream, the stones that I had used on previous trips were pretty well submerged. I didn't want to risk completely soaking my socks and boots, so I removed them to ford the stream. That was kind of fun!

By the time I came to route 77 again, I had traveled for another 40 minutes. I took the red trail to cross through Braemore Preserve. Lots of Indian Pipe was coming up there, and along the trail in general.

It was in Braemore that I started to see salamanders along the trail (or were they newts?). While I was attempting to photograph one, I had my only encounter of the day with a human being - a guy and his unleashed dog. The dog was hostile, raising its hackles and growling. The guy laughed it off and assured me that the dog was just frightened. Riiiight.

It took me another 40 minutes to get to the other side of Braemore, where there is an interesting rock wall that looks a bit like a wave. (It looks a lot more wavelike when you're standing beneath it.)

So, it takes about 2 hours to get from the route 77 lot to the edge of Braemore, close to where the Lone Pine Trail joins up with the Mattabesett again. At this point I was sure I'd be back to the car well before my max of six hours, so I hiked on. It was along this section of the Mattabesett that I slipped a second time, on another wet rock, this time bloodying my knee. It was just one of those days! Nice hike overall, though.

When I got home I took a nice soak in the bath to ease my aches. Great ending to a great day!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Pioneering Portfolio Management

A friend of mine loaned me the book Pioneering Portfolio Management, by David F. Swensen. I started reading it and it was pretty interesting. But I have a preference for fiction, so I kept putting this aside. I’ve had the book for a while now, and I’d really like to get it back to my friend. But I also want to finish it. So I need to zoom through it…

three hours today

I went hiking on the same trail as yesterday, but this time parked midway so I could start a little farther along. This time I got to the end of the trail that I couldn’t finish yesterday. Turns out this new trail intersects with the blue trail, and you can use the blue trail to complete the hike as a loop.

It was another beautiful day! I saw a deer with a small rack.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Most fantastic ski vacation I ever took! Charming village, no auto traffic allowed inside, buses to ferry you about to the ski lifts. Loads of skiing at my level (blues and greens). Just… wow!

five hours today

I planned to go for four hours, but I went off down a trail I’d never taken before, and I had to keep following it to see where it went. I never reached the end, though. I had to turn around at 2.5 hours because I’d only brought enough water for a four-hour hike, and even going for five hours was pushing it.

I saw a couple of deer, both of them bounding away prettily. And I saw two turkeys (both female, I think) with a brood of poults (juvenile turkeys). They were right at the side of the trail, very close. We saw each other at the same time – I froze to stare, and the juveniles flew up into the trees in a panic. The adults went running off into the woods. I think they must not have been too scared, or else they would have flown away too. Or maybe they were trying to distract me from their brood.

I also saw a frog (in water) and a toad (in the woods).

It was a quiet day, very pleasant. I passed an older guy poling along, with his two dogs (both unleashed, one of which snarled and jumped at me… drrr!). And I passed two older guys mountain biking… apparently they were lost, but I couldn’t tell them which way to go.

And, I got a tick. Easily removed.

Monday, June 27, 2005


I remember looking down from the Eiffel Tower. It was fall, and leaves, orange and yellow, had fallen to the ground around the trees far below. It looked like a magical dust surrounding each tree.

There’s so much to see in Paris. Historical buildings and monuments, parks, churches, museums. And then there are the little common things: the Metro, sidewalk cafes, patisseries. I will go back, some day soon I hope.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

three-hour hike today

I discovered a new area off one of the trails where I hike. There’s a nice loop that goes around a swampy lake. I saw some sort of bird fishing, looked like a white heron; a couple of turtles that dived off their log into the water; and a black snake. It was a pretty nice hike, despite the heat, and some pesky flies that dogged me most of the way.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Leçon Trois

This evening I reviewed lesson three of Living Language – Ultimate and took the chapter test. I got a decent 28/33 correct.

This is not an easy chapter. The sections I found particularly difficult were 5. Gender of Countries and 6. Other Prepositions.

In fact, the gender rules for countries are pretty simple. If the country name ends in e it is feminine. If it ends in any other vowel or a consonant, it is masculine. But I guess my Spanish training is overriding my learning process here, for whatever reason. I want to say La Canada not Le Canada. It doesn’t help that there’s an exception to the rule (Le Mexique instead of La Mexique).

Usage for “other prepositions” is just confusing as it is presented here, at least. So we have:
  • I am going to Germany – Je vais en Allemagne (because Allemagne is feminine).
  • I am going to Luxembourg – Je vais au Luxembourg (because Luxembourg is masculine)
  • I am going to the Antilles – Je vais aux Antilles (because Antilles is plural
  • I am going to Paris – Je vais à Paris (because Paris is a city, at least that is the reason given. Gender of cities is not explained, if there is such a thing.)
But, they don’t explain things in the orderly way that I’ve done above. Instead, their examples are all over the place – Elles sont au Venezuela, Nous allons aux Antilles, etc. This obfuscates what’s being differentiated in the examples. I think this is one of those cases where a systematic set of similar examples, like I have listed above, would have been more pedagogical. I understand they wanted to give a variety of examples; but they should have taken up sufficient space to do so and still remain clear.

In any case, I reviewed my errors and I think I understand the mistakes that I made. Hopefully it will go better next time I run through this leçon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

1 hour 20 minutes

I was supposed to lift weights tonight, but it was just too fantastically beautiful outside. So I went for a hike instead. I saw a small green striped snake – I think it was some kind of garden snake.

Unfortunately, when I got home, I also found I'd been bitten by a tick. It was pretty easy to remove, and it must have been attached for only a short while. Hopefully no Lyme disease will result. This is the third time that I've been bitten this year. Drrrr!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Slow progress this week

Tonight, I reviewed chapter 3 of Living Language – Ultimate French. They introduce the prepositions de and à; I am already familiar with these from chapter 7 of Les Portes Tordues. But I still find it difficult to remember when to use a contraction (des or du, aux or au)...

Saturday, June 18, 2005

1.75 hours today

Nice day, but the trail was very weedy. I hope I didn’t pick up any ticks.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I started going through chapter 12 of Les Portes Tordues this morning. Also, I finished watching Pas de repos pour les braves. I kind of enjoyed it, but it was very confusing. In summary: Rohmer on drugs.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Living Language - Ultimate French - Chapter 2

Today I reviewed chapter 2 of Living Language – Ultimate French and took the chapter test. I did well, 18/19 correct, same as for chapter 1! I made a spelling mistake this time – “danceuse” instead of “danseuse.”

I also did a run through chapter 3, following along with the CD, and then skimming through the text of that chapter. The first thing mentioned is syllabification – “In , syllables within a word generally end in a vowel sound.” (Compare the English pronunciation of “a-dor-able” to the French “a-do-ra-ble.”). This is just what tonytam talked about in his recent post.

On the more recreational side, I started viewing the DVD Pas de repos pour les braves (No Rest for the Brave). So far, it is rather unusual, interesting.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Went hiking for one hour and 20 minutes today

I was tired… not enough sleep. But I saw a deer, neat!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Les Portes Tordues - Chapter 11

I reviewed chapter 11 of Les Portes Tordues and took the chapter test – 18/19 correct. My one mistake – I wrote cette homme instead of cet homme, doh!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Hiked for two hours today

Beautiful day!

Went hiking yesterday

I went hiking yesterday, for 30 minutes. Today I plan to go again, and hopefully spend a little more time at it.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I want to get back into this

I learned to rollerblade in grad school, years ago. I was never expert at it, but I became pretty comfortable with it. The last time I rollerbladed was a few years ago, when I lived in Brooklyn. I would rollerblade around Prospect Park.

But now I live in suburbia, and it’s hard to find a place where there’s a lot of space to blade. There’s one place – a rail trail. But it’s so narrow, there’s no room to practice, you can only go straight on. I guess that’s better than nothing, though.

Maybe I can try this one morning this week, if I get up real early. We’ll see.

Last summer I went backpacking for three days

and it was great!

I don’t get lots of time away from work. But I love backpacking. I’m trying to make sure I get at least one backpacking trip each year, even if it’s a short one, 2 or 3 days.

I think it’s going to be hard to achieve this goal, but I will try hard.

Friday, June 03, 2005

I can't do a headstand at all

let alone elegantly. But I’ve wanted to do this for soooo long. The main thing stopping me from even trying this, at the moment, is fear of injury. I heard a story about someone who injured their neck attempting this. Such stories don’t keep me from performing other risky acts though…

I found this website that describes how to do a headstand: abc-of-yoga

I suppose I could work my way up to the full headstand slowly, starting by trying out the first few steps every day until it all becomes more comfortable. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

I tried to meditate twice today, this morning and also this evening. My mind was very scattered, though; difficult to empty.
This evening, I went through chapter 11 of Les Portes Tordues, and also chapter 2 of Living Language – Ultimate French. I didn’t take the tests yet, though.

Meditating once in a while doesn't work for me

Originally I was just going to try to meditate “once in a while”, but I’m finding that unless I do it every day, I end up not doing it at all. So from now on I am going to aim for 5 or 10 minutes of meditation, preferably in the morning, every day.

Learn French: Goal Two - Les Portes Tordues - Chapter 10

Finished Chapter 10. I got 10/11 correct in the chapter test. The one that got me was “qu’est-ce que c’est”.

I haven't really said what my goal is for Les Portes Tordues. I want to become fluent with all the content in it. The book has 46 chapters, so I've got 36 more to cover. Is it being too ambitious to think I'll get through them all by the end of the year? Possibly. That's more than one chapter per week. But I will aim for that. I'll revise the goal as necessary.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

A third goal

To mix things up a little bit, I started going through my copy of Living Language Ultimate French: Basic-Intermediate. I listened to Chapter 1 on the CD and followed along, doing my best to pronounce things the way they sounded. I also read through Chapter 1 (since large parts of the chapter are not on CD), and completed the tests at the end. I got 18/19 correct, yay! But actually that’s not a huge achievement, since I’ve been down this road before. I already completed chapters 1 and 2 half a year ago. It’s a good review – they go over things like common pleasantries, the conjugation of être and avoir, and also the conjugation of regular -er verbs. Hopefully soon I’ll be into the new material of Chapter 3.

I still have a lot of trouble remembering how things are spelled. For example, the one mistake I made in the test was to write “nous somme” instead of “nous sommes”. It should be easy enough to remember – “nous sommes”, “nous avons”, “nous parlons”, etc. All those verb forms end in “s” for “nous”.

My goal for this resource is to complete the entire book by the end of the year. There are 40 chapters, so that may be overly ambitious.

Monday, May 30, 2005

1.5 hours today

Another gorgeous day. I wish I’d had more time for hiking!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Les Portes Tordues - Chapters 7, 8, 9

progress: I reviewed chapters 7 through 9 of Les Portes Tordues, listening to the CD and going through the tests. I did pretty well on the tests, great!

I also made progress creating a website with all the tests from Les Portes Tordues. I've entered all the tests up to and including chapter 9 into a MS Access (ew) database, and I've created web pages in php that let me run through all the tests. The scripts need some work, but they're already in pretty good shape.

two hour hike today

I saw a black snake, and a turtle!

I think the turtle was probably an eastern box turtle. Its shell was a rather pale yellow color with some darker markings on it. It didn't completely hide inside its shell; I could see a bit of its head and also its toenails sticking out. I guess it wasn't too alarmed. I tried not to perturb it.

I didn't get a photo, but it looked something like this:
eastern box turtle

Friday, May 27, 2005

Hiked for one hour, ten minutes today

It was a great hike. About 15 minutes after I got back to my car, it started to pour rain, a real thunderstorm! Glad I missed the rain.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Learn French: Goal Two - Le Portes Tordues - tests

This morning I re-took the tests from Chapters 4 – 6. I did ok, up until Chapter 6, where I got almost half wrong (close-but-no-cigar errors).

Also to help in this effort, I am creating a little local web site where I can enter the answers to these chapter tests into a database using web forms. This way, I can practice the tests over and over again more easily. At least, I think it will help.


Finished cleaning the living room

I moved a few more things into a closet, and vacuumed. This is probably as clean as it’s going to get, for now. I need to rethink some of the furniture arrangement.

Anyway, it’s nice not to have to step over piles of stuff in order to move around in there, now.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

More room cleaning

Moved some more items out of the living room… probably about 2/3 done now.

Learn French: Goal One - words that end in -ie are feminine

words ending in -ie are feminine. Examples (hopefully I'm getting all of the elisions correct):
  • l'anomalie - anomaly
  • la bonhomie - good-naturedness
  • la boucherie - butcher's shop, butcher's trade
  • la boulangerie - bakery shop
  • la charcuterie - pork butcher's shop, pork products
  • la fantaisie - whim, fancy, imagination
  • l'harmonie - harmony (is this an aspirate "h", or not?)
  • la librairie - bookshop
  • la magie - magic
  • la papeterie - stationery store
  • la pâtisserie - pastry, cake shop
  • la tapisserie - tapestry, wallpaper
  • la taquinerie - teasing
  • la vie - life

Monday, May 23, 2005

Learn French: Goal One - words that end in -ette are feminine

There is a rule that words ending in -ette are feminine. These examples were pretty easy to find. Note similar English and words in several cases!
  • la courbette - bow (as in curtsey)
  • la courgette - zucchini (courgette in the UK)
  • la chansonnette - little song or ditty
  • la fillette - little girl
  • la maisonnette - small house
  • la maquette - model
  • la palette - palette
  • la pailette - sequin or spangle; speck of gold dust; flake (as soap)
  • la pipette - pipette (dropper)
  • la pirouette - pirouette
  • la violette - violet

One hour ten minutes

this evening. Up the red trail, took the blue trail until it met purple, and then back again. What a beautiful day.

Learn French: Goal One - words that end in -esse are feminine

There is a rule that words ending in -esse are feminine.
  • la vitesse - speed
  • la finesse - fineness, slenderness, shrewdness, or subtlety
  • la largesse - generosity, or gift
  • la caresse - caress
  • la mâitresse - teacher (feminine of "master"), also mistress

Sunday, May 22, 2005

What I've done to clean my living room today

  • Moved a bunch of boxes into the spare room. I simply have too much stuff! - but now at least there's less clutter in the living room.
  • Discovered new storage space above the cabinets in the kitchen and moved some stuff up there.
  • Sorted through some odds and ends, decided a few things could be thrown out, and a few could be dropped off at the Salvation Army.
I’m about one-third done. Took about 45 minutes.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Learn French: Goal Two - Le Portes Tordues

I went through the first three chapter tests of Le Portes Tordues, about 50 questions in total. The questions are all fairly easy, just translating some simple words. I got all but one correct. That's good; means I didn't forget much.

I thought it would be kind of neat to have these questions set up in a digital format. When I started working on the book, I wrote the answers down in the pages of the book (tsk), and now it's hard to avoid looking at my previous answers. I'll have to think about the best system for digitizing the tests.

Now I'm going to try tagging this post using Technorati tags... this is my post about learning .

Took a 55-minute hike this evening

I saw a toad!

My room's a mess

and it’s starting to get on my nerves.


Since I have so many learning materials, I am going to set goals involving each piece. I’ve already set one goal, to work my way through my SparkCharts French Grammar Chart.

I think it will get deadly boring to work my way through a single goal before working on another. Hopefully, working on several goals will complement each other. So for my second goal, I will work my way through Les Portes Tordues by Kathie Dior. I started going through this several months ago, then life got busy and I stalled on it.

This morning, I spent about ten minutes going through the first ten chapitres, to review what I’d already read previously. Next I’ll run through all of those chapter tests to see how much I’ve forgotten.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

30 minute hike today

I managed to sneak out at lunch and do a 30-minute hike. Very peaceful!

Learn French: Goal One - words that end in -isme are masculine

  • le catéchisme- catechism
  • le héröisme - heroism
  • le naturisme - naturism
  • le prisme - prism
  • l'égöisme - egoism
In making up this word list, I just tried thinking of English words that end in "-ism". I thought of one English word that did not have a French twin in my dictionary: relativism. I wonder if there is really no similar French word, or if my dictionary is simply lacking.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Learn French: Goal One - words that end in -ier are masculine

First thing I thought of were the months janvier and février. Do those count? I guess so. Mostly I came up with things similar to English words...
  • janvier - January
  • février - February
  • l'escalier - stairs (this word is plural masc.)
  • le panier - basket (similar to the English word pannier)
  • le courrier - mail, letters (plural masc.) (similar to the English courier)
  • le croupier - croupier, identical to the English.

Learn French: Goal One - words that end in -ent are masculine

Most of the words I thought of have similar English spellings and meanings.
  • l'élément - element
  • l'emplacement - site, location
  • le tempérament - temperament
  • l'accident - accident

Monday, May 16, 2005

Learn French: Goal One - words that end in -eau are masculine

This one was almost too easy; I could think of numerous examples. Unfortunately some of the examples proved to be exceptions to the rule!
  • l'eau - water - oops, this is an exception, it is a feminine word, crap!
  • la peau - skin - another exception, nf!
  • le rouleau - roller
  • le couteau - knife (easy to remember because it sounds similar to "cut")
  • l'oiseau - bird
  • le gâteau - cake
  • le bateau - boat
  • le chapeau - hat

Learn French: Goal One - yet more -ail words

And you thought it was all over for "-ail"! A French friend has pointed out more such words to me:
  • l'éventail - fan (the thing you flap at yourself to stay cool)
  • le soupirail - a barred basement window (apparently there's no single word in English for this one...)
  • le rail - rail
  • le portail - portal
  • vitrail - stained-glass window
  • bétail - cattle (pl, masc).

Learn French: Goal One - more words ending with -ail

I found a couple more this morning!
  • le détail = detail
  • le corail = coral

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Learn French: Goal One - words ending with -ail

It's past time for sleep, and I forgot to work on SparkCharts. The next masculine ending listed is "-ail". I can't think of anything with that ending, except travail, work. I'll have to put it off till tomorrow!

French words from Code 46

I finished Code 46. It's a good dystopian science fiction movie, brings to mind Bladerunner and Gattaca. Is Tim Robbins as tall as he looks? Trivia: Mick Jones of The Clash makes a brief appearance, playing "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" in a bar scene. Mick Jones also made an appearance in another Michael Winterbottom-directed film, 24 Hour Party People.

Here are the three French words that I mined from the movie:
  • (la) chauve-souris = bat. (The plural is chauves-souris.) This is an interesting one because souris means mouse and chauve means bald. So - "bald mouse". It really should be "flying mouse", since bats are not bald, and even if they were, their hair or lack of it is not the most peculiar thing about them. There appears to be some thought that "bald" actually means "featherless" here.
  • (la) valeur = value, as in "money has value". I think I have seen this word before, but I confuse it with the English "valour".
  • (le) témoin = witness. This one is confusing because it seems even a female witness gets the masculine article.
une chauve-souris: bats are not at all bald
I wonder whether I will actually remember these words for very long. It doesn't feel like they are sticking in my head very well.

Code 46

I'm expanding a bit on Code 46. Tim Robbins stars. He just looks like such a genuinely nice guy, I wonder if it's true. He's paired with Samantha Morton, who looks a little like Gwyneth Paltrow, if you ask me. I've seen Samantha Morton before, but I could not place where. Thanks to the miracle of IMDB, I learned she's been in Minority Report, a movie that I liked, and in Morvern Callar, a movie that I found fairly irritating.

Anyway... Code 46 has been interesting so far, though I'm only about 20 minutes in. There's a smattering of foreign words used in the dialogue, which makes reading the French translation at the same time a little confusing. The movie is so good that it's hard to make myself pay attention to the subtitles. Oh well!

I will attempt to glean three new words from reading the subtitles, and report back on them here.

Posting from 43things

This previous post was posted from 43things. I decided to add my blog to my 43things account. Decided I can always change my password later. Worst possible scenario is that my blog gets hijacked, which is not exactly a national emergency.

I'm not thrilled with the results, so I may remove the blog from the account eventually. The actual text of my post is there, but then there's the additional link and text "See more progress on: learn french". I'm trying to decide whether I really want to see something like that scattered all over my blog. I already "added 43things to my site" with their scripty thing, what more do I need?

Turned on the subtitles

Yesterday, I started watching the movie Code 46 with French subtitles on. I haven’t finished it yet…

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Learn French: Goal One - SparkCharts

Well, I created this blog as a sort of correlary to 43things. But in order to post to your blog from 43things, you need to give them your username and password, and there's just no way I trust them enough to do that (silly me) yet. I may give it a try later.

Anyway, I've now got "5 things" going on at 43things. One of them is "learn French". I've made a couple of entries at 43things about this goal, one talking about the learning materials I have accumulated and the other talking about the obstacles that I've encountered in the five years that I've been working on this.

I've decided that if I can cram all of the information contained in my two SparkCharts into my head, then I will probably have made a good step along the path to learning French. So this is my first Goal: to become extremely familiar with all the information in these charts.

Here I go through the French Grammar SparkChart.

Interesting, the English "gender" is French "le genre".... not to be confused with the English "genre".

French is hard because French nouns have gender, but English ones do not. In some cases, word endings help to identify the gender. I'm going to collect three words that exemplify the endings listed in SparkCharts.

Words ending with -age
  • le courage = courage
  • le dommage = shame (as in "quel dommage", "what a shame!"). It occurs to me that tant pis! means "what a pity!" and I wonder if these two phrases are used in different contexts.
  • l'hommage = homage or tribute ("en hommage à, "to pay tribute to"). Is the liaison correct here, I wonder? (l'hommage iso le hommage)

Why this blog?

I am creating this blog because I am a user of 43things and I noticed that you can link to your blog there. 43things is a sort of goal-setting webapp, but it doesn't really look ideal for long posts and for tracking progress along the way to your goal. Plus, who knows whether 43things will stay alive. If I post a lot of stuff there, and then it dies, I may lose all my stuff, which sucks. Of course blogger will never die, given that it is a protectorate of Google. Heh.

I will use this blog to track progress in the various goals that I set. I will post in great detail. Prepare to be bored!