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.