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!