Monday, November 28, 2011

Countdown to Dec...crap it's nearly here...

...and just when you thought it time to do more life comes up and bites a big chunk out of your ass.  Work and the holidays ramped up and my tango with Spanish has come to a screeching halt.  But, just because it is easier to get off the horse than it is to get back on, that is no reason not to.  So, tonight I'm going to climb back on if even for just one lesson to "re-groove" if nothing else. 

My trip to Mexico comes ever closer and I've pissed away a couple weeks of learning opportunities.  Time to kick it into gear and see if I can regain some fuego before I hop on a plane and embarrass my gringo self.  But I do maintain, I'd rather be a silly sounding gringo than a rude American speaking loud and slow English and expecting that to make it understandable. 

It's like the old joke (I'll paraphrase at best):
What do you call a person who speaks two languages?
What do you call a person who uses many languages?
A polyglot.
...and what do you call a person who speaks only one language?
An American.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Countdown to December - 20 Days

All grammar all the the time - rock and roll.  OK, maybe not.  Weaseled out and took a single 10 minute lesson.  Such a double edged coin - you want to learn enough to be able to express yourself and perhaps begin basic conversations, but not knowing enough to do so is frustrating and makes motivation difficult at times.

But I suppose no one will worry about how much Spanish I don't know if I just sit here and do nothing about it.  I think it is time for more involved learning.  It is time to find that Spanish language radio station.  To watch my DVD's in Spanish with subtitles.  To find places to go where I can hear Spanish being spoken.  ...and yes, perhaps even engage in broken conversation with the couple of persons I know who speak Spanish.  It is time to do más!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Countdown to December - 21 Days

On the road again...or back on the lessons again more like.  OK, well I'll keep this short as my dogs are demanding attention.  Took lesson - streak in tact.  More mañana.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Countdown to December - 22 Days

...and we're back.  Or rather I'm back to be more precise.  The countdown to December has begun - 22 days to go and one lesson in the books for today.  Better to start back small than not to start back at all - right?

Todos los juegetes son de metal.  --> All of the toys are made of metal.

¿El NBA?  Yo soy demasiado bajo.  --> The NBA?  I am much too short.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Falling off...

OK, it's been a few days since I did my "daily" Spanish writing.  Insert list of excuses here, but I think it was just to difficult to try to express myself using my very limited vocabulary.  I mentioned this before so I won't beat it up again.

That said, there is 21-ish days remaining in November, so I am going to revert back to my lesson-a-day plan and shoot for perfect for the rest of this month.  I shall call it "Count Down to December" because that seems classy or some such. (Ya, I got nuthin')

So, enough falling off - time to get back on!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dia veinticuatro - escribir

Hoy tengo nada... 

It is so very challenging to try to express yourself in a new language when you know so very little of it.  You can only get so far on:
  • The man runs.
  • I like soup.
  • The girl does not like carrots.
  • My old ladder is broken.
  • The door is near the window.
I suppose one great thing about getting serious about learning a new language is a new found respect for those who have learned English and who must use it in the United States.  Though this is more difficult to grasp for English speakers - we can go virtually anywhere and someone will speak English.    English is common, a default.  Suddenly a person from Norway in Columbia speaking some English, a little Spanish, and knowing they are fluent in Norwegian carries a bit more weight with me now.  Change the countries and languages in the example all you want - I still think it takes a greater level of person to know more language than one was raised with.  I can only hope that in my time here on earth I come to learn to communicate in no less than five languages.  Culture transcends what we read in the pages of books and see on the television.  On the street, with the people, conversing in their language - that is where culture is discovered.  Here's hoping I discover, really discover, more than two...

Hasta luego!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dia ventitres - escribir

Hoy cocinando frijoles.  Me gusta mas las frijoles que el arroz.  Tambien, cociendo las verduras hoy.

Going to have to come back and correct spelling here...  But yes, I did take two days away from my Spanish progression, life gets in it's own way sometimes. 

Mas mañana. 

Adíos amigos!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dia Veintidós - escribir

Hoy estoy escribiendo en español.  No necesito una escalera nuevo porque mi escalera viejo no es rota.


(This will get better/interesting the more I learn...please bear with me...  No hablo español bien...yet.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Accountability - Day 21 - Goal Reached

21 days, each with at least one Spanish lesson - complete.  Had to muscle through a few, and some were half-assed - but for the most part I am farther along and retaining more with the consistency.  So what will the next 21 days bring?

Well, as I alluded to in my post earlier, I think I am going to try to put up something related to my day in Spanish at least once a day.  Might be straight from a lesson or just what I know how to say (e.g. Ahora estoy desayunando.)  As they say in cheesy westerns, "Vamos!"

Until next time...

Adíos amigos.

Accountability - Days 18-20

OK, I'm a bad blogger when it comes to daily updates.  But in my defense, saying, "Did it again." day in and out get's to be a bit lame.  I have also fallen down a bit on the word of the day, but there are already a million sites where that can be had (and they do have one EVERY day).  However, my word of the day has forever solidified puenta (bridge) in my mind - so purpose served for me.  The Mac keyboard shortcuts - great stuff for the short term, let's face it, if you are to do any serious amount of typing in Spanish, French, or other languages that have different keyboard layout, you're going to need to set up a computer and keyboard appropriately. 

(Note to self: get Spanish keyboard for mac...)

Now then, back to the "did it agains" which I did do again over the weekend up to and though my Level one, unit three milestone taking me to unit four.  So, later today, I'll be rolling into that a bit further and will thus complete the 21 day Spanish language learning/habit forming challenge!

...and here's a WOTD for ya in case you miss them:

toalla (ta-why-uh) - towel.

El perro mojado necesita una toalla. (The wet dog needs a towel.)

So there you have it.  One night of lessons away and then we're on to phase two.  Not sure what that is yet.  Perhaps I will use those clever keyboard shortcuts to post a blurb about my day, in Spanish, every day for the next 21 days?  Hmmm...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Accountability - Day 16 - 17

Uneventful lesson taking last two days.  Making steady progress and doing so at least once per day.  Four days to first goal.  Sorry for the blah post, but got lots of other stuff going on...


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Accountability - Day 15

Some new additions today, added the audio supplement to and from the gym this morning.  Your basic listen and repeat style reinforcement.   Landed on shuffle and some of the lessons were a bit beyond me, a few organized playlists will solve this.  So another day with lessons is in the books.  Hoping to get a good chunk of lesson in tomorrow when I have some more time.  Until then.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Accountability - Days 13 & 14

Diligent on the Spanish, not so much on the blogging...  Lessons continued yesterday and today which brings us two thirds of the way to making the 21 day Español learning challenge complete!

On a side note, it is becoming more enjoyable to hit the lessons and much less 'chore-like'.  Slowly but surely I am building the confidence that will get me into basic conversations with Spanish speakers.  However, unlike your Spanish teacher in High School, the average person doesn't know how much you know and invariably will go over your head in about two seconds...  Call it a learning opportunity if the other person can be patient enough with you.

But, truth be told, it is pretty cool to speak in a new language and have a native speaker understand you.  Earlier this year, when I was still working on French, I had to call the French Cultural Center where they answer the phone in French.  Then there is that clumsy moment where you answer back in English, they get it, and the conversation continues in English.  However, for this call, I had worked out how to say, "I apologize, I do not speak French.  Do you speak English?"  To this the French woman on the other end of the phone replied, "Oui, of course.  How can I help you?"  A small victory to be certain, but a victory none the less.

Back to the Spanish!  Until next time...


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Accountability - Day 12

Half assed last minute lesson before bed...but, a lesson today regardless.  The 21 day Spanish language learning challenge remains alive!  The lesson tonight was an "adaptive recall" lesson - so pretty simple and thankfully brief.  Despite this being "public" accountability - it really does drive one to do what is necessary.  Tomorrow is another day, and begins our single digit count down at 9.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Accountability - Day 11

Hoy estoy estudiando Español adentro.  Some accents aside today I am studying Spanish indoors.  The 21 day Español learning challenge enters day 11 with success!  More than half way there.

It is amazing how a trip to a Spanish speaking country can be such great motivation.  Will only be there a couple of days, and will spend most of my time relaxing, reading, and yes there will be some beer I'm sure.  However, I am really looking forward to making a sincere effort to interact with the Mexicans I encounter in Spanish.  (In fairness they may be Honduran, Guatemalan, Panamanian, Colombian, etc., but I will be in Mexico.)  Will I sound like a five year old Mexican boy with a learning disability?  Probably.  But I'd rather that than be your typical American tourist who just speaks English loud and slow and thinks that makes it understandable.  Will there be some Spangish?  Again, probably; but I will strive to have more Span than glish. 

Words of the day...  As alluded to above: afuera y adentro --> outdoors & indoors

Yo estoy corriendo afuera. --> I am running outdoors.

Los niños estan corriendo adentro. --> The children are running indoors.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Accountability - Day 10

The 21 day Español learning challenge is successful through day ten.  Three more lesson today - not bad.  For a change I'll be tossing a verb out there as the word of the day.  It was bothering me, so I looked it up...

Cenar = to eat diner.

Ceno por la noche.  --> I eat dinner at night.
¿Cuándo cenas? -->  When do you eat dinner?
La familia cenan en la concina.  --> The family eats dinner in the kitchen.
Deseo cenar en Costa Rica. --> I want to eat dinner in Costa Rica.

Until tomorrow...

Adíos amigos.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Accountability - Day 9

Spanish level one, unit three, core lesson.  Things are turning up as some of the vocabulary surpasses what was covered in my three years of High School Español.  Desayuno?  Cerano?  Could be spelling those wrong, not sure - but I think they have something to do with eating at a certain point of the day.  That is the one bad thing about the Rosetta Stone imersion - if you don't get it, you just have to hope it makes sense at some point.  Like in this case, you see the word two or three times, have no clue as to their meaning, and you may not see them again for several lessons.  A little frustrating, but you have to trust the process I suppose.

A few years from now, when we are comfortable in our new home in Central America, I'll look back on this and laugh.  But is a reminder that we have to be beginners at some point and we should offer support, sympathy, and encouragement to all trying to break out, do something new, or live a way of life not on the radar of most.

Live small.  Live simple.  Live.

Hasta mañana amigos!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Accountability - Day 8

The 21 day Español language learning challenge continues through day eight.  Three lessons including the ever "fun" Rosetta Stone unit Milestone - I really dislike them.  But a milestone is just that and I've hit one - good things.  ...and the word of the day without much thought or creativity - corbata: necktie.

Mi corbata es naranja. (My tie is orange.)

No necesito una corbata!  (I do not need a tie!)

No me gusata las corbatas.  (I do not like ties.)

Clearly, I really do not like ties.  Hoping there will be no need to ever wear one again...soon...  I'm more of a shorts and flip flops kinda fella.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Accountability - Day 7

Pop open a cerveza - today marks one full week taking at least one Spanish lesson each day.  Today's lessons were review so no new words for the word of the day.  But this is still a good mini milestone on my path to a new language.  As I've said before, I hope start putting up more than broken fragments of bad Spanish soon.  But for right now let's learn how to type the '˜' over  an n on a mac so you can type words like:


Done using: option + n, n

Or press and hold the option key, while holding it press 'n' and release both keys then type n to get ñ.

A bit verbose, but all the tutorials do shortcuts differently.

So there you go - you can now properly type at least on word correctly in Español.

(same deal: option + e, i for í)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Accountability - Day 6

Hola amigos!

Hoy es el dia numero seis...and I'm embarrassed I have no accents and that grammar probably is poor.  But I am learning!  Six days in a row of taking at least one Spanish lesson.  ...and at least one person in Germany hit my blog yesterday.  So, somewhere in the world, at least one stranger might know what I'm doing.  Or it was a missed click on an obscure google search...  Either way - muy bien!!!

Right now I'm just hoping I stop sounding like an eight year old gringo soon.

So, today's word of the day: fregadero - sink

Su taza esta en el fregadero.  (Your cup is in the sink.)

Su perro verde es debajo del fregadero.  (Your green dog is under the sink.)

Nothing wrong with a little silliness - keeps learning fun!

Tengo hambre.  Necesito una ensalada ahora.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Accountability - Day 5

Day cinco is in the books.  Nothing exciting to report other than that.  However, five of twenty-one is almost one fourth of the way into the twenty-one day habit forming cycle.  Not too shabby.  Perhaps I should put a word of the day in here?  Hmmm...but what do I do when I need special characters - I suppose I will need to learn that as well. OK WTD #1: Puenta - bridge.

Not sure why but this word just did not stick well for me.  Perhaps some day I will cross the puenta of not knowing what puenta means - until then, the WTD for today is Puenta - bridge.

Adios amigos.  Tengo hambre...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Accountability - Day 4

Well, I made it past my first post with this.  Day #4 is in the books.  Took a total of four Spanish lessons today.  A small victory, but proud of myself none the less.  I will have a conversation with a native Spanish speaker, in Mexico, in January - no matter how low my skill level.  I am Uber Gringo!  Watch out Central America - here I come!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Accountability - Day 3

OK, no one reads this so this is hardly public accountability - but I want to do it anyway so here goes.

Yesterday was the second day in a row I have take my Spanish lessons (rosetta stone).  In an effort to make language learning a habit, improve retention, and to actually learn; I would like to go 21 days in a row of completing at least one lesson. Today is to be day three. 

So, I will post when I am successful and when not.  When not, I should provide an explanation of why not.  Oddly, typing a blog post about why not would likely take more time than some of the lessons - so really no excuses.

Wish me luck!

Adios amigos!

Monday, August 29, 2011

...and so it begins.

I heard a comment today, during a segment about the Galapagos Islands, stating effectively that extinction is a natural part of evolution.  As we evolve and our world changes, for better or for worse, the strong will survive and the weak shall die.  Why then, is this not true in an ever "evolving" free market economy?  Why should J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, General Motors, and the others not be allowed to die naturally and make room for up and coming "species"?  Just because American banks and auto makers fail does mean that American's will no longer be able purchase cars or find loans - they will just get them from a different source.  As more well managed companies file in to fill the gap, the unemployed workers will find jobs with them, products and services will be produced, and life will go on.

I find it most frustrating that America tries to solve all problems by throwing money at them.  We have lost our hearts, our souls, and the "can do" attitude of fifty years ago that made this country great.  So, what can change all this?  How do we turn this around?  What is the magical key to creating the American utopia we all long for?  Simply put, some of us have to leave.

We built ourselves on immigrants from around the world and still continue to do so.  Many people in many places still believe that the streets here are, in fact, paved with gold.  Depending on from where ye come, this may be true.  But I hear tell of some places out there where the streets are platinum.  It is time to admit something, time to lay it out there, accept, and move on: America is no longer the greatest country in the world.  There, it has been said - we are all better now.

For years we have been the greatest country in the world...according to us.  So, that said, EVERY other nation in the world must be less than us and that MUST be just fine for THEM.  Well people, it is our turn.  We must take our place as second best just below every other country that is "the greatest country in the world".  At least for a time, this must be done.  But, sadly no one knows this; or if they do they cannot bring themselves to admit it much less speak of it.  So how, how then, do we send a message to the leaders and people of this country that this simple fact is true?  We leave.  Our best, brightest, and most driven must begin their exodus.  Our innovators, inventors, researchers, scholars, poets, playwrights, song writers, and teachers must not only stand up, but walk away as well.  Those who lead must leave the flocks behind.  Then, and only then, will the masses of sheep begin to awaken when all of their heroes have gone and see that serious work needs to be done to put America back on track.

So, with that, I prepare, anticipate, and embrace my future in another land.  A place where, everyday, people wake up, eat breakfast, kiss their kids goodbye and off to work.  A place where your team never wins, the neighbors down the block are a bit off, and traffic is still horrible.  Everyday, all over the world, life is happening in countries just as great as ours.  I for one am going to go see for myself, and wake up, eat breakfast, kiss my wife goodbye, go to work, and see what I can't do to get my team to win for once.

Becoming an Expatriate

I'm going down the path of becoming an expatriate: what it takes, road blocks encountered, fears, questions, reactions from others, tips & tricks, and the like.

While I have been planning a move to France for some time, a recent trip to Mexico has put the Spanish speaking regions south of the U.S. on my radar.  In particular Costa Rica.  So while it is likely that I write this for myself and no other - here I go down the road of pseudo public accountability for my lofty personal goals.

Next step: Pick a country
(this will be really helpful when I decide to continue learning French or to pick up where I left off with High School Spanish.)

Right now France, Germany, and Norway top the list, but in the coming days and weeks I'll be weighing some pros and cons and see what comes of all of this.

Au revoir/Adios