Personal relationships, non?

In a recent linguist book I’ve been reading, the author describes his relationships with some of the languages he’s studied. He refers to either having ‘married,’ them, or just ‘flirting’ with them, i.e. investing time and money into them to be fluent, verses haphazardly and casually learning random things (which is also tons of fun). I decided to do the same thing since I haven’t posted in a month of Sundays. Here we are:

Long-time companion: Russian- a long time friend, one I don’t need to speak with incredibly regularly, one I feel comfortable with even though we aren’t often in contact. We catch up when we speak, and that lasts for a while. Don’t know everything there is to know, but I get by when I need to. (I’ve invested tons of money and stuff into books, various size dictionaries, lexicons, grammar analyses, Pimsleur ($$$) programs, etc, and [you’d think I’d be fluent after all of that but at least] it gives me [the opportunity to have] a good foundation and reference library for the language. I’m left in need of very little, especially considering resources on the internet.)

New Best friend: German- take any and every opportunity to speak with this one; always interested in learning something new about it, and excited to try it out. Lots of stuff we have in common, and lots of opportunities to learn and get more acquainted. (I have some friends that are German or speak German, and it’s a close relative to English. The construction is similar to Russian in many respects and I’ve been carrying my German dictionary around a lot to learn words for common things I would say a lot if I were eagerly pursuing an organized study.)

Flirting: Romanian, Hungarian, Urdu, Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Japanese- had some good times, spent a little time together, but haven’t talked in a while, or plan to soon. Some not as serious as others, but great things about all of them. I just don’t have time for you all. (Romanian, Hungarian- I have (had) calls in these languages and have needed to learn them enough to conduct a return visit or simple study, but have all but forgotten most of it. I still enjoy playing with them occasionally)(Urdu- tons of speakers, especially when you consider that it’s 95% related to Hindi, the two together making the second most spoken language in the world. See ‘Crush’ for more details on its appeal.) (Dutch- see German. Dutch is more similar to English than German is, and sounds funny. I know people that speak it and it requires very little effort. It’s fun to speak a language you feel like you’re making up when you make up saying something and it’s right [so similar to English].) (Italian- I know some people that want to learn the language, and it’s a great language. I have dreams of moving there someday to serve in an English group, so I’m currently working on a course of teaching the language. See post below this one, I think.) (Chinese, Japanese- I figure since I’m GOING there, I figure I should really try to learn some.

Crush: Arabic, Persian- huge crush… wish I could spend time with these and get to know them better. They’ve got great qualities and look nice as well, very resourceful and practical. I just don’t know if I’m in that league right now. (They look super cool; I love the alphabet (they’re so similar I count them as one) and the script is actually very economical and practical. They sound great, have a lot of literature in them, very poetic, TONS of culture associated with both, and lots of languages are heavily affected by their influence worldwide.)

Love/Hate: Turkish, Swahili, French- comes and goes. Great things about all of them, but there are things I cannot get past. Those things don’t come up often, but when they do, I just have to walk away. I don’t know nearly enough about these as I should/want to, but sometimes my efforts to try are futile, and I just have to take a break. (Turkish- I’m sure I’ve already written about this somewhere: the grammar is like math. It’s very straightforward, there are NO irregulars, and it all makes tons of sense, but it’s also very different from other languages in its construction and word order, etc., so despite my love of the construction and logic that’s there, I can’t seem to ‘figure it out,’ and eventually give up at some point, only to pick up again a few weeks later.) (Swahili- Same as Turkish, except it’s not nearly as regular and it’s comprised wholly of PREfixes instead of SUFFixes. The ideas are the same, but it’s a little more warbly and less straightforward than it’s only-related-by-our-egregious-influence-from-Arabic cousin (Turkish).) (French- it’s French: natives give amateurs no slack, spelling is funny, it doesn’t sound nearly as cool as people think, and the French still think French is the world’s most popular, important, and internationally recognized language. Pardon Français…)

I’m sure that was bone-shatteringly boring for all of you, but it was something I wanted to write up anyway…


Three weeks of...

(not just non-blogging but) pure language obsession.


1)       My Italian course is coming along nicely. I showed it to the infamous BookReader last week and she was impressed… Pleased? Optimistic? Something like that. I’ve structured all of the verb vocabulary, the present tense conjugation, sentence structure, pronunciation, and am working on noun and adjective vocabulary. Email me for further details. I think I’ve really got something highly marketable here, and the next languages I’m going to do it with are Turkish, Indonesian, (maybe French, but more than likely not. Ça ne m’intéresse pas), and…

2)       Chinese. Since H’n’B has joined our excursion to Asia, she has been highly interested in Chinese- Mandarin. I had spent quite a lot of time with Cantonese, for a few reasons:  (a) I was told it was spoken in Hong Kong, where we would be for four days and have a free day to roam around, (b) because I was given the Pimsleur Cantonese as a gift and was thrilled to be able to use it, (c) because it’s arguably harder than Mandarin, with more tones, which makes Mandarin easier (relatively speaking). Anyway, she wants me now to use the current structure of teaching I’m developing to apply toward Chinese. There is many a difficulty surrounding this. Neither Chinese itself, nor the pinyin come naturally to the average English-typer on an English computer. This means lots of copying and pasting, and not so much confidence as to the exact translations of what I’m looking for. Tones don’t scare me, though. We’ll see.

3)       I have all but abandoned Turkish for the time being, which is sad. I’m working on getting back into it, but have all sorts of other deadlines with the Italian thing, and working on this Chinese one and other stuff that’s hindered my ability to spend lots of time with it. I’ve decided I’m learning Persian, though. I have three really promising calls in my area that are Persian, and I know of a solid dozen others that people (around here-ish) have that would develop really well in Persian, but there is no one handling it here currently. It would also be a tremendous aid toward my learning a good handful of other languages like Arabic, Urdu (and Hindi), and even Punjabi, if I so desire (and I probably will). It’s a strategic move, really.

4)       I’m teaching a Ukrainian (Russian speaker) English. We had our first pow-wow Monday, and she understands English enough to get the gist of what someone is saying, and she can read somewhat. I’m not sure how well she comprehends either of these, but wants to work mainly on her speaking ability. We’re going to use newspaper articles from the local paper, or from CNN something or other that I print out online. It’s more practical than using children’s books (which are easy to understand but offer no real practical vocabulary) or English literature (Steinbeck, Salinger, Joyce stuff, which is far too complicated to work simple translations off of). It’s pretty well rounded and will be a good tool to use to increase comprehension, vocabulary and an understanding of basic (and somewhat more complicated but practical) sentence structure.

5)       Also, I have some sort of an interest in Hungarian (refer to all the Finnish posts: same sort of thing, but it seems less of a pristine language to me) because I now have a call who is Hungarian and is responding very well. Yes.

6)       Vietnamese… a friend has some involvement and needs my assistance with some correspondence. Not my favorite language (still).

Nothing else for now, but more later (hopefully not three weeks later).




Ўзбек тили

That’s right. I’ve got a new love affair with a new language that fits RIGHT into my current repertoire. Uzbek.

It’s spoken by about 24 million people worldwide and is a Turkic language (perfect) written in a (modified) Cyrillic script. That means I can read it, and the vocabulary is (beginning to look) somewhat familiar already. Because Uzbek is a Turkic language, it also shares the same background and relation to Persian that Turkish does: vocabulary, colloquial expressions, etc. It’s heavily influenced by Islam, so the Persian/Arabic phrases are found throughout the language. It is not dissimilar to Kazakh and Kirghiz in all of these respects.

A sister gave me an RV that she thought was Russian. She wanted me to take care of it and was not going to worry about it any longer now that I was going to handle it. I went by (it was at a business) and managed to meet the young man. He has been here a very short while and his Russian was shaky. I asked him where he lived in Russia and he said he didn’t. I asked him what other languages he spoke. Guess. That’s right, Uzbek. I showed him the Uzbek page in the booklet and he was impressed, but also busy. I’m going to try to go back some time later next week maybe and see if I can get him at a not so busy time.

Because Uzbek is only spoken by a (relatively) small population, it’s not worth pouring your heart and soul into learning it from this side of the Caucasus. However, I’m certainly not going to pass up the opportunity to speak a little and get my feet a little wet with it. It’s a unique language, and one that’s almost dead between the two I’m already interested in. Seriously. It’s very interesting. But what it has also done is given me a little bit of insight into what languages it would be worth learning if I were to continue heading down the path I’m currently going. Here they are, in no particular order:

·         Persian (because most people speak it more comfortably than Arabic, even though more people speak Arabic)

·         Urdu- an easy(ish) transition from Persian. The script is very similar, the sounds are very similar, and it’s the second most spoken language on earth, if combined with Hindi, its near-twin, which is also another excellent reason to learn it.

·         Turkish- Already in the works, but has tons of influence from the Persian language, etc.

·         Russian- again, not a new undertaking, but with the above languages, you begin to comprise a part of the country that is very densely populated. There are Russian-speakers in places like Iran, Egypt, Georgia, etc. They would more comfortably speak Persian, but it wouldn’t hurt to throw some Slavic слова their way. AND…

·         In that part of the world, it wouldn’t be rare to come across Kazakhs, Kirghiz, Uzbeks, Uighers, and other Turkic-Slavic languages. These are all heavily influenced by (surprise) Turkish and Persian, and for most intents and purposes would be a breeze to simply wing it if you knew the above languages.

Persian and Urdu are both highly practical. Persian is incredibly poetic and has lots of literature behind it. It’s spoken by a sizeable population and has sired, if you will, a lot of other languages. Urdu gets you the rest, along with almost the entire Indian population through about a 95% (ish) percent comprehension of Hindi, a hugely important language, aside from the fact that you would have to learn to read it separate from Urdu. Bummer there.

So those are my new projects (new as in ‘I’ll get to those a few (or ten) years from now’ type projects), but just seem to be practical. We’ll see. Thoughts?

Uzbek moment of the day: Барча одамлар эркин, қадр-қиммат ва ҳуқуқларда тенг бўлиб туғиладилар. Улар ақл ва виждон соҳибидирлар ва бир-бирлари ила биродарларча муомала қилишлари зарур.



1)       Finnish is intriguing (read: addictive because it’s inaccessible)

2)       So are its relatives

3)       It’s arguably harder than Chinese

4)       It sounds super cool

5)       Its speakers are more literate than any other nation’s

6)       It’s a very clean place

7)       Some say it’s related to Turkish

Finnish is intriguing the way Mount Everest is intriguing. It’s incredibly difficult, looks cool, few people know it, and you can totally impress people if you say you’ve done it. There’s a certain appeal to Finnish, and I’m drawn to sitting and reading about it. I watch Finnish news on the internet (a confession) and try to read newspapers outloud. I like it. Learning it is also about as productive and useful as climbing Mount Everest: there’s very little marketable stuff that comes from climbing it.

I say it’s definitely harder than Chinese. “Oh, but we can’t even read Chinese… it’s got those funky characters and stuff!” Can you read Finnish? Correctly? We don’t have those ä’s and ö’s and stuff in English, and we certainly don’t stress the first syllable of every word, regardless of how long it is (like they do in Finnish), or have glottal stops between doubled consonants. We also don’t have fifteen noun cases like Finnish does. Neither does Chinese. “Oh, but Chinese has tones.” Guess what: so do at least 50% (easily more) of the world’s other languages. And many of them have more than standard Mandarin Chinese: Vietnamese has six tones, Thai five, Cantonese arguably has as many as ten, and tons of African languages like Yoruba or Lingala also have them. Anyway, all I’m saying is that to ‘read,’ another language (almost any other outside of the European sphere, and even some inside) you MUST learn new pronunciation rules. So what if those correspond to new characters? You’ve got to learn them anyway, and I would much rather learn a single character for a word than memorize how to spell a sixteen character one with diacritics galore.

Chinese is also a HIGHLY analytical language, meaning it has a very high morpheme-to-word ratio, and a byproduct of that is that word order is very important. This is not dissimilar to English. Languages like German, French, Lithuanian, Russian, and Finnish (along with its cousins, Hungarian and Estonian) all have word ENDINGS, cases of nouns that denote that word’s function in the sentence, meaning word order is far more flexible. The other end of the spectrum (barring polysynthetic languages like Navajo) is an agglutinative language, where word order is far more flexible because everything is noted by suffixes or endings (sometimes prefixes, like in Swahili). Finnish is agglutinative. This to me is far more difficult than an analytical language because grammar is far more difficult to commit to memory than vocabulary. Chinese grammar is very straightforward: nouns and verbs DO NOT CHANGE and word order is very important, and usually never changes. We are used to this in English. This is what we are familiar with. Languages like German and Russian are more fusional than agglutinative, which is a step between the two (analytical vs. agglutinative) With these, more than one classification or quality is represented by a specific ending, that is, the article (in German; Russian doesn’t have articles) will denote a “singular masculine accusative” noun, where there would be an ending for each of those ideas in a language like Turkish or Finnish.

Turkish has been very difficult for me in this regard because although the CHARTS and LISTS OF ENDINGS are easy to memorize, proper use of ‘the dative construction in the context of the passing of time,’ or ‘ablative of motion away from a place’ verses ‘genitive of progression of time’ or ‘inanimate accusative’ are things that are very difficult simply to ‘get used’ to using. They carry such shades of meaning and specific ideas, and one is proper when another isn’t, and word order changes with each one, etc. Chinese has none of that. It is entirely analytical, which means there are more ‘words,’ but it’s also more rigid and less changing.

So, the moral of the story is, it’s far easier (in my book) to learn a brand new writing system with four tones and thousands of characters that look very much alike but NOT worry about verb conjugations or noun declensions and cases than learn a language you (think you) can read but have to worry about fifteen cases and their proper applications. That having been said, I believe the use of endings and cases is incredibly logical, well-thought-out, efficient, and brilliant. I love Turkish grammar, but the word order and shades of meaning are taking time to get used to. Finnish may be a little more straightforward, but I doubt it.

I didn’t even get to them being related. Let me do some research and I’ll get back with you.





Don't try to explain it...

Finnish, that is…


I was having a nice linguistic discussion yesterday with a brother (an MTS grad) who speaks lots of languages and we got to talking about Finnish. He had some friends from Finland and said that the couple would speak Finnish to one another pretty regularly, and he said he thought the sound of the language was really cool. I agreed. We talked about how it’s different from the other European languages in so many aspects (foremost that it’s not Germanic or Romance) and what qualities give it the sound it has. We also talked about the infamous grammatical structure Finnish boasts. There was another person that invited themselves in on this discussion that had no business trying to do so, and it was funny to see her try to try her hand at Finnish as opposed to Spanish or something. We talked about how Finnish has sixteen noun cases, and she concluded that it must be related to German, because, as we had established already, German had three noun cases. Nope, sorry. She next asked if Finland was east or west of Norway and Sweden, and I explained that it shares a border with Russian, and that languages like Mari were examples of Finno-Ugric/Uralic languages that have adopted the (or a form of the) Cyrillic alphabet because of their geographic proximity. She then concluded that Finnish MUST be a Slavic language. Nope, actually not. (Mind you, she had heard the entire discussion of how the ONLY [major] languages [excluding dialects and minority/dead languages] Finnish is related to are Estonian and Hungarian, [and very distantly at that]) She wasn’t getting the idea that it’s NOT (really) related to ANYTHING. It was necessary to convince her that it was also not a Scandinavian language, and it also came up that they roll their R’s instead of swallow them like the Germans or French, and she then concluded that it MUST be related to Spanish. Guess what… Nope. Finnish is a Finnic language, just like Turkish is a Turkic language. Done.

Anyway, I think that’s all I have for now, aside from the fact that Latvian and Lithuanian were mentioned somewhere in there as representin’ the Baltic language family (holla’!!!), but we didn’t discuss that because we’d have to differentiate that from the ever-present enigma of what Finnish is related to.

IT’S NOT!!! I just wanted to be sure to clarify. Thank you.





French meets Persian and I meet...

…Wolof, but not until later.


Addressing a few things here. First, is the fact that I’ve deviated from my original intentions here… language stuff. There are a few things I’ll be implementing soon that will be fun (if not for you to read, then at least for me to write. Back off.) Also is the fact that I feel it necessary to mention I commented (somewhat cryptically) on a friend-of-a-friend’s (read: of-a-cousin’s) blog, and that if they decide to amble in this direction, that I was forwarded there by my cousin, who is married to a Korean brother in the southeastern United States. Whatever. (I’m trying to stick to that policy that H’n’B initiated of not using real names, which is good.) She’ll tell him.


Anyway, I wanted to do a little research on some African linguistics because I’m not very familiar with a lot of that stuff. Swahili: easy as pie. It’s the simplest of the Bantu languages, it’s not tonal, TONS of Arabic loanwords (which means I’m actually noticing a lot of similarities with it and Turkish), pronunciation is a snap, and it’s (ostensibly) agglutinative, with prefixes instead of suffixes. That works. All the West African countries speak French, and most of northern ones, Arabic. Moroccans, for example, (at least the ones I’ve met) speak French far more comfortably than they do Arabic, but can get by with it. It’s all that Muslim influence, and it also has greatly affected languages like Swahili and Turkish, and by extension of Turkish, even languages like Azerbaijani, Kirghiz, Khazak, and even Mongolian (which is technically a Turkic language, but is, as some linguists believe (read: I believe), the bridge between Turkish and Korean, because they also say Korean is an Altaic language, and that Mongolian has enough Asian influence to bridge the gap between the two).  Most of these languages are written in a modified Cyrillic alphabet, which makes it easier (for me) to read than an Arabic (or modified Arabic) alphabet. (I’m losing some direction here, so new paragraph…)

My point in that last paragraph is (at least) two fold:

  1. I have this Persian call (I have a few that I’ve been turned over because no one else in our area handles the S-43 “turnover” forms) at a grocery store in our area. I spoke to her again yesterday for the second time, and showed her the page in the “Good News,” brochure. She got very emotional and read it, etc. She said thank you in what I thought was French… Seemed strange to me. What she said was مارصا, (which is actually in Arabic, and as best as I can spell it), or in our alphabet, merci. I asked her if thank you wasn’t Teşekkür, (because it’s the same in Turkish) and she said yes, but that they use Merci as well. SO the question is, at what point did Persian borrow from French (or vice versa) to share that word? I don’t believe it’s mere coincidence, but the fact that it’s a ‘basic conversational’ and therefore ‘international’ word, it could have crossed some borders somewhere. But where? The north Africans speak Arabic, not Persian, and the other conquests in south Asia or Canada aren’t much help… I must be missing something and seem horribly ignorant to some reader somewhere.
  2. French brings us back to Africa, which brings us to languages like Arabic, Hausa, Swahili, Zulu, etc, and although a great many of those are Bantu languages, and therefore tonal, there are some that aren’t. For example, in South Africa, there’s a great Germanic influence, (overlooking the obvious fact that they speak ENGLISH) because Afrikaans is so closely related to Dutch. However, I know very little about those languages, and although I have some friends that speak languages like Edo, Yoruba, Twi, and Fon, even they say it’s not an incredibly wise expenditure of your time to pour your heart and soul into a language like Xhoza or Zulu (which, by the way, are highly mutually intelligible). That having been said, number two could be condensed down to this: “I want to learn a little more about the linguistics of African languages.”

In my Turkish studies lately, I have been looking at, and understanding at that, languages that have their bases in Turkish, and by extension, the Semitic or Indo-Aryan/Iranian (i.e. Persian and Arabic) languages that Turkish gets a great deal of its vocabulary from.

For example: I think a few months ago, Azerbaijani was on my bottom ten list. It’s still not a language I am particularly fond of, nor one I care to learn. However, instead of it being a strange language with upside-down e’s and weird words, I can actually read and understand a great portion of it because of the glaring similarities to Turkish. Azerbaijani has been largely adulterated in the homeland by Russian (which is TOTALLY a linguistic promotion) and even the older generation Azerbaijanis I’ve met can’t read their language in its own Roman script. Those that live in other parts of the world (and don’t speak Russian) have pretty much defaulted to Persian, another good choice. My point is, though, that I am beginning to have a grasp of some other pretty oddball languages, and the rule of six degrees of separation is thus true in linguistics, and it may even be smaller than that with powerhouses like Arabic, Russian, French, and (obviously) English in the mix.

Also, I like to hear myself type.


Hamba kahle…


More Acousticism

Went to a show this weekend with some cousins and friends, and it was very good. I saw Edwin McCain. He’s not my favorite, and I couldn’t name any more than about three songs of his that I knew before I went. The venue was very cool, and the group was great. Sam Thacker opened, and he’s also from around these parts. He was very very good. He had no more than a guitar on stage with him (aside from some of Mr. McCain’s stuff) and was very enjoyable. He interacted with the audience, and even did a Fiona Apple cover that was outstanding. I spoke to him afterwards and he asked me how he thought the cover went over. I told him it went swimmingly. He was pleased to hear it, and he said he’d never tried that before.

Edwin McCain was very good too, and isn’t quite my kind of music, but it’s all mostly acoustic and folk/storytelling-ish, so it was good. He would tell lots of stories about where he got the lyrics for this song or that one, and what events he was writing about. I always enjoy listening to that kind of stuff, especially in that kind of an intimate setting. He had some hilarious stories about some very famous “musicians,” that he shared, and he as an excellent sense of humor. It was a long show. Thacker played for over an hour, and McCain was onstage for over two.

What this all comes down to is plugging Sam Thacker’s new (only) CD, Above the Underneath. Goofy title, yes, but Good Music, also yes. It’s not on Amazon, and I don’t know where you’ll get it. I got mine (signed) at the show. Buy it.

(Also I haven’t posted in a while and this seemed an appropriate topic.)


I SOOO wasn't going to do this....

But when I saw that H’n’B decided to, I felt somewhat left out. Besides, it’s interesting, right? Only if people participate. We’ll see…


You can get my Jamaica window here.

Why do we find it so fascinating to have people tell us stuff about ourselves, good or bad? Who knows…


This is a little more like it...

You should learn Hindi

QuizGalaxy Language Quiz!

You should learn Hindi. You like to be able to speak to people wherever you travel if even just a little bit. You are very versatile and like adventure.

Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com

How'd This Happen?

You scored as Spanish. 

You should learn Spanish. It can be useful especially if you live in the United States.


Spanish: 87%

Arabic: 73%

French: 60%

Chinese: 54%

Latin: 53%

Japanese: 47%

English: 0%


What Language Should You Learn?


What is an Artist?

This isn’t meant to be one of those stupid metaphysical/abstract/fluffy questions. Affie mentioned something that I’ve been told before, and I listened to an interview the other day that was thought provoking, and the question is, again:

What is an artist?

  • What qualifications are there to be called an artist? (i.e. perfectionism, quality of work, popularity, special insight, uniqueness, etc.)
  • What relationship with others (or lack thereof) is required to be considered an artist?
  • How must this person be perceived by the outside world?
  • Can an artist still be such in a vacuum? (i.e. is it dependent on the perceptions of others?)
  • What responsibility does an artist have to himself or to others?
  • What authority does he have in society?

These are obviously cross-media, which seems to be an appropriate term, meaning they can apply to the sculptor, the writer, photographer, painter, musician, underwater basket-weaver, composer, cubist, etc., and are not medium-specific. I have some specific thoughts on all of this, but will not be accused of leading the witness(es) (maybe that should be capitalized…)

People have certain perceptions about artists: names like Rockwell, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Ansel Adams, James Joyce, Beethoven, Picasso, Shakespeare, and such come to mind. Many of them had innumerable difficulties and struggles in their personal (or public) lives and were troubled. They had their own special perceptions of things, and did things a certain way, and this caused them to have a certain notoriety (or lack) in the public eye.

Certain muses, topics, or things like synesthesia are responsible for the way many people went about their craft. What causes one person to choose one medium over another?

Do writers, more than other people perceive inanimate objects to have personalities, and personify them, attributing them characteristics in an attempt to develop them? That kind of thing.

This isn’t an essay assignment, but I’m hoping some responses with a plethora of comments will get some conversation going. What do you think?


New Television

We didn’t buy one.

A lot of new stuff was on, but not for the first week. It was for me.


30 Rock: Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Judah Friedlander, Tracy Morgan, Rachael Dratch, are you kidding me? It’s getting off the ground, and it wasn’t ridiculously clever like The Office, but Alec Baldwin’s character is excellent. If you never did read the “Things My Boss Said to Me Without Elaborating” list on McSweeneys.net, Alec Baldwin’s character, Mr. Donaghy, is the perfect person to say all of these things remorsefully dry and unconcerned. It’s rather hysterical. Part of the first episode dealt with Mr. Donaghy (Baldwin), the new boss, educating his new employees in a game of high stakes poker. The usual game of quarters and dimes becomes minimum $25, and the last round one character bets his wedding ring, and another bets his coworker’s Emmy. Donaghy still plays with cash. Almost all of the characters leave after realizing that Donaghy reads them like a book. He proceeds into a monologue of telling each player how he knows when they have a good or bad hand. There is, however, one character who is impervious to his innate ability to read people, the page Kenneth, whose middle name is Ellen. He is country, airy, dazed, and kind. He approaches Kenneth the next day and says “You are a puzzle, Kenneth Ellen, and I am going to solve you.”

The entire staff is invited to a casino setup on-set where they all play another very expensive game with real chips and on a real table. Cut to only Kenneth Ellen and the bossman left. K.E. is curiously licking a tortilla chip and Frank whispers to Liz “He’s awesome. You can’t read his thoughts because he doesn’t have any. Donaghy gives a great monologue in K.E. character, revealing that he’s done a complete background check on his rearing in Stone Mtn, GA, and how he was raised, etc and goes all in. K.E. has no more chips, and Donaghy settles to let him bet his page jacket, meaning if he wins, he keeps his job, and if not, he’s fired.

He loses, and Liz (Fey) stops Kenneth Ellen before he walks out and asks why he would bet his job on a King-high hand. He says “because I believe life is for the living, and in taking risks, and biting of more than you can chew. (cocking head to the side) Also people were yelling and I was confused about the rules,” and turns around to leave on his blue Schwinn bicycle. Donaghy stops him and gives him his job back because he says the shrimp tails need to be swept up by morning. All of that leads to the greatest quote in the episode, and one I will be using throughout my interaction with people:

Liz: Well, it was nice of you to let him keep his job.

Donaghy: The Italians have a saying, Lemon, (Liz’s last name): ‘Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer,’ and although they’ve never won a war, or mass-produced a decent car, in this area they are correct. In five years, we will all either be working for him (long pause), or dead by his hand.”


You can find the entire episode online here.

(Also I forgot to say “20 Good Years,” was enjoyable, but not worth elaborating on).


You thought I'd given up

I kinda did… I can’t believe it’s been over two weeks since I’ve posted. I couldn’t decide whether to catch it before the two weeks was up or intentionally wait to post… Not that I have anything to say anyway.

I spent most of the evening last night working on playing through one of my favorite covers by Mrs. Amos. (this is a live version that’s pretty good, but not as intricate as the studio version, which you can find on the “Higher Learning” soundtrack, and it’s excellent.) I haven’t been able to find any sheet music or chord progressions or anything (I have for the original) and I was left to my piano last night for a solid two hours to figure it out. I began to develop an ear for timbre and tone, because I could adjust for my piano not being at perfect pitch, (my guitar WAS), but even so, the resonance and clarity of the Imperial is obviously different from my Wurly, and you can tell. I need to go over to the piano store and play on the Seiler or Bechstein to get it right.

I had a cool dream last night that involves someone we know in the blogging community, as well as pianos and an old house. It was cool. Basically (to be very brief) it was an old frumpy grandmotherly place, a split-level with plaid couches and gross old lampshades, old china cabinet, dust ruffles, all that stuff that a typical grandmother’s house has. However, this one was actually a restaurant/bar of sorts. There weren’t any restaurant things, and any seating areas were only those found in a normal frumpy house. I don’t recall what any of the staff looked like, but you just sat around at an old house and were served food and drink. This person we know (of) (who doesn’t have a blog) is the person I was sitting next to on a frumpy couch and said we should go downstairs into the basement…? Okay… So we went down and what else is down there but a recital hall! But again, not set up like a recital hall. There are frumpy couches and easychairs and stuff that still make an aisle down to the performance area, which wasn’t a stage, just a clearing at the front of the room very near where the stairs let off. This lady, whoever she was, was playing a MONSTROUS piano. It was like a regular cabinet grand piano, where the cabinet is upright, so the dimensions are something like five feet tall by two and half feet deep. Cabinet (or upright grands, also, I think) are usually very intricately designed and carved, etc. This one was like six feet tall and twelve feet deep, so it was like a piano keyboard attached to a closet. It was strange looking, but the engraving had gold embossing and carving all over it. The room it was stationed against, as I was told, had a real (normal) piano, the same Bechstein I played, but I was told I couldn’t go back there, and I was given the impression that the room was a furnace… I dunno. Had another weird one, but not important.

Nothing else of interest going on, and I just saw a preview for a really good movie that I’m going to have to see. It’s Will Ferrel’s newest one, and I think it’s called Stranger Than Fiction…           


By the way, I’m “38% Dixie. You are definitely a Yankee.”


Language Diet

I’ve regimented my Turkish studies and in the past few days have honed this thing down to what I think is near perfection. I’ve also come to another conclusion that would have to be marketed to the right audience.

This book I’m reading, (or rather, taking note of) is not too dissimilar to Barry Farber’s book, with the exception of a few things. First, it’s far more regimented. Farber says “Here are the techniques: use them all day, every day, as much as you can as intensely as you can,” and Golly Gee, I bet that works, but for those of us that can’t pore over the intricacies of Korean pronunciation from nine to five, we need something a little more user friendly.

Hawke does just that. He says you need to use (  ) this much time per day learning x many verbs, x many nouns, and x many adjectives, along with useful expressions, synonym and antonym pairs, and conjunctions, etc per day. It’s about fifty something words (or phrases) (and one major grammar rule) per day, and he even gives you lists of the most useful so you don’t have to analyze the general worth of each word of your new language. (Granted, this book is a Universal guide, so it’s not specifically applied to any language, and you’ll need to do some tweaking [none for analytic languages][more for fusional][even more for agglutinative][tons more for polysynthetic]) to make it work for whatever you’re learning. Also, he does not AT ALL describe how to learn to read a foreign script, so if you’re diving head first into Arabic or Pashto, you’ll need to learn to read before going on his seven-day crash course in a language (did I mention Hawke also claims that with this method, you can communicate in seven days and be proficient in another 21? He does).

So what I did was this. I bought two really nice (sit-flat, meaning the rings will do just that) ½ inch three ring binders, 400 UNLINED 3x5 index cards, regular (square) size post-it notes, the medium bookmark size, the tiny size, and then the clear-ish “sign here” type ones, but they don’t say anything. I got two sets of dividers and some of the clear plastic protectors. I think that’s it. Anyway, I’ve set up a method where I’ve allotted his list (amended for my application of the language) to vocabulary lists divided up in the binders, and then made those into flashcards, written vertically with five sections (flip end over end and English matches the target language; far more efficient). I’ve taken the most useful or needed words and made them first.
Long story short is I have seven envelopes, (almost) all of them with their allotment of nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions and grammar rule for the day all packed up and ready to be pulled out for that day of the week. Each of those seven packets needs to be conquered that day, and the previous ones reviewed/refreshed.

I’d be willing to get a packet like this together (for a [maybe not so] nominal fee) if someone wanted to learn something else. You’d have to give me a couple of weeks to gather each of the day’s notecards, allot the grammar rules, set it all on the computer so it can be printed on notecards/vocab lists (because my handwriting sucks) and get everything together, and it could even be halved into a two-week deal (because I’m having some trouble keeping my head above water with this thing. It’s a big deal, if that tells you anything) and made into a nice “Here’s your language in written form; stick it under your pillow for two weeks and learn Yoruba,” type situation. It reminds me of those “we’ll make your meals” catering companies. I’d definitely be willing to do that. Sound interesting to anyone, even if not for themselves. Just the idea???

I’m going to get a haircut… and practice my flashcards while doing.

More Pianos

I played another one. It’s a nine-foot Seiler concert grand that sounds somewhat different from the big mean Bechstein. (If you click on the picture, it takes you back to the stats, etc.) The width on the body past the keys is different, so that creates a different sound. It doesn’t sound as dark as the Bechstein (mellow is the wrong word, because the Bechstein wasn’t that either), but had almost as much power for about $50,000 less. It hadn’t been voiced when I played it, and it sounded a little edgy and thin in the treble, but that’s easy to fix. I liked it okay, and it would certainly be quite the purchase, nothing I’d complain about having. It didn’t seem to have the depth that the Bechstein had, though. That’s okay. We played some others that were nice. I played a Bechstein upright that I don’t really think is quite an upright grand or cabinet grand or whatever you call it, but it was made of alder wood, and Mehsha said it looked like a casket. It was a very blonde wood and looked unfinished. The light wood and finish has an effect on the sound, and it even had a practice pedal. The power and resonance from something like that was amazing. It sounded like some of the six and seven foot pianos they had lying around. It was incredible. There was another one that was the exact same model right next to it, except for the finish (it was the usual black) but had nowhere near the strength or voice that this one did. That’s the beauty of hand-made instruments… if you get the upper hand(made), that is…

So that was exciting, but even more greatly excitinger was this… (and it’s not so exciting now):

Ichabod Crane told me where the Bösendorfer dealer is for my area. He said I should go by and play a few and that they’d let me play the flagship model, the 290 (I think). It’s 9’6” and has 97 keys. They have one in the store in their recital hall that I want to go play, and it’s definitely the 800[0] pound gorilla in the room as far as wonderful, powerful, expensive, handmade German pianos go. It’s the best. Anyway, I really want to go touch it and stare at it and play it, but I was Ebaying on Sunday and found this glory. It’s the real thing. Handmade in 1984 and never commercially used [abused]. There’s a crack in the soundboard, but nothing that affects anything. I was overwhelmed because something like this today sells for around $150,000 and wouldn’t have been much (if any) less than that twenty-two years ago. The auction started at $10,000 but I didn’t realize it still had a week left. It’s already more than twice that now, and if you follow some of the links on the auction, the dealer’s private website gives a little insight into what the reserve might be. It’s a beautiful piano, and one I’d snatch up for quite a lot of money, whatever it took, but I have nowhere to put it (except for one place I could probably manage).

Forget that American-made piano company that everyone and his brother knows about that begins with S- and ends in –teinway. At least for now.

More relevant posting later. It’s time to go play tennis.




It's Winter

Not quite yet, but on more than one level…

It feels like it: it was in the mid forties last night and made for a delightful night’s sleep. So much so that I’m incredibly groggy and disoriented right now. It was very cold in my room when I woke up because I went to bed with the ceiling fan on AND the windows open. Oh well. The A/C was off anyway.

Super-cool piano tuning man, or we’ll call him Ichabod Crane, came and fixed my piano. It sounds so nice now. He said he really liked the model I had, that it was very well built and it would last forever, as he had seen some of the same that were very old and held their own.

I didn’t realize how out of tune the Wurly was. The sound quality was pretty sorry, and as he tuned it, it all cleared up. The notes were so wolfy, especially below middle C, that there was this growl (that was kinda cool for playing real loud grungy stuff in the bass but that I won’t really miss now that it’s in tune) when you played anything down there. Now the notes are actually intelligible and sound clearer. It’s more enjoyable to play… much more.

So much so that I started playing something that I dismissed as too difficult a few months ago. It’s also called “Winter,” (except I don’t have some of that first ten or fifteen seconds down cuz it’s not in the book). It sounds crisp and clear (relatively speaking) on the new’n’improved Wurly and that’s exciting. My cousin had a friend who did a more complex version (more true to the real thing than what’s in the book) for a piano recital) and he started to learn it. It’s a great piece and is coming along well, and I may have another chance to go see the Bechstein this weekend and give it another go, although I’m thinking of playing the little bro (the 7’) than the concert grand… not so intimidating.

I’m going to go enjoy the weather all day today… au revoir.


Lincoln Memorial: 6

“Well, I’ve been here thirteen years now. No big deal, really, because I’ve got no other plans. I like it here.”

“That’s very impressive. Most diners aren’t even open for thirteen years, and you’ve held a job that long? Congratulations.” He realized she wasn’t terribly busy, but seemed not to want to talk much, so he started again: “You must have seen a lot of changes over the years. What’s changed the most since you’ve started?” He was trying to get her to open up to him. He could tell clearly that she did not have any close acquaintances, or if she did, they were in the form of cash registers and aprons. He looked at her left hand, and there were no rings, and there were no other signs of family or human interaction.

Before she could answer the question, and he could see her preparation to respond, she was called away, and headed toward the kitchen almost violently. Mr. Horner paid no attention at first, but soon heard shouting and ruckus from behind him, as he had turned to look out over the diners and through the windows that looked out over the street. He turned back to see what could have been going on, and as he did, he could see through the food window that something had been ordered wrong, or that there was another error somewhere, and also that Polly’s response was not favorable. In fact, she was yelling at a young man who was nearly in tears. She grabbed him by the back of the arm and dragged him around behind a corner where they couldn’t be seen; they were still heard, however, and when the tirade stopped, she came out from behind the corner red-faced and clearly trying to regain her composure. The young boy, no older than fifteen or sixteen, was foreign and in tears. Mr. Horner could not immediately decide whether to make eye contact with his former acquaintance. She deserved to be acknowledged for what she had done, but she also did not seem to deserve that much human interaction. To further confirm that conclusion, she leaned up against the back wall of the kitchen and lit a cigarette, not relaxed, not passively, but as if it were the lifeblood that kept her heart pumping; it went beyond the act of smoking: it was vile, the greatest act of dependence and craving, and she nearly trembled until it reached her lips. It didn’t take Mr. Horner long to sum her up differently than he had before, and he was also quite sure (that is to say, he knew) he needed to see no more of her than to know what she was like as a person, for he had seen her react in what she thought was privacy. He took the last sip of his coffee, which had become cool and bitter, and left a dollar bill on the table. He walked out.

As he reached the street again, he turned around to see what had transposed since he left. He saw that Polly had gotten the dollar he left and it would have only been appropriate for any average person to look up to acknowledge their customer had left, especially when it was so obvious to even the less discerning person that the (former) customer was standing just outside your window, waiting to see if you would make eye contact. She did not, or not within the brief moment that Mr. Horner would have allowed her to. He walked on, and with the five or six steps he took on the sidewalk and around the corner, any bit of anger or resentment slowly turned into disappointment and sadness. Not for him and the failure to open up to her, but for her failure to recognize kindness when it is shown, and to take it upon herself to donate this damaging mentality to others. He walked around the corner to his right, down a small alley, and this wall (to his right) would have been the wall to his left when he was sitting inside the restaurant, except there were no windows along it. Most of this side would have been the kitchen, and therefore it was all brick. He knew there would have been a few booths on the other side of the wall, and continued around until he reached another corner. The brick wall ended abruptly to go down what looked like an alleyway, but it stopped. It was simply a square space made by the backs of three of the units. The one to the right would have been for the diner. He stepped over some soggy cardboard boxes, walked around some barrels of grease and by a dumpster to reach the rear kitchen door. It was a double door, and was very heavy, as it was made of solid metal. One half was open, and he could smell and hear the sizzling of grease. He knew that if he weren’t careful, Polly would see him, and it would become obvious what he was doing. He waited outside until he heard her voice, and it was far off. He fairly jumped inside the kitchen and looked to his right, where the scolded boy would have been. He was standing over a large industrial range, preparing omelets. He had just finished an order, and there seemed to be a lull in his work. He turned away from Mr. Horner, but did not seem to see him. Mr. Horner waited for him to turn so he could see his badge, and then whispered “Yong…” The boy heard him and looked that way, and Mr. Horner motioned for him to come outside. He took a quick look around and started walking toward the door.



I think I have found the world’s most useless must-have. I want to know where the people are that made this, as well as the location of the people to whom they marketed. Lewis Black said it best: they should “all wear aluminium foil so we know who you are.”


A New Friend

More than one, actually, but this one isn’t a person. It is called the C. Bechstein Model D 280 Concert Grand Piano. I played her today. I Dunno had to go get his glasses, and I took him. We were nearly there and I saw the piano store I wanted to go to months ago to get a heads up on where I could play a harpsichord. I told him we’d have one more errand before we went home. Got the glasses; they’re great. Walked inside the store, and if you haven’t read (rather, since you haven’t read) this great interview with a world-renowned pianist, you won’t be familiar with the discussion about the specific personality she feels each (handmade) piano has, etc., and it was entirely awesome to be in a room full of pianos (something like this one). I walked straight ahead until I met one of the salespeople. I couldn’t have looked to be that interested a party, what with my Jimmy Buffet t-shirt and flip flops on along with a sinussy brother in tow (yes, sinussy, because it’s only appropriate to double the last consonant before adding –y), but I was approached and talked shop for a while. We looked at a few of the pianos in the main part of the store, and they were all Kohler & Campbells. I asked him what else they carried. He gave me a funny look and took me to the next room. There was a Steinway, a Knabe or two, and a few Seilers, which are supposed to be extraordinary. I asked him (of course, and with a little bit of a sinister grin) if he had and Bösendorfers. He looked at me as if (and without needing) to say “are you kidding? Who do you think we are?” and asked me to follow him. There were two pianos in this room. I walked down an aisle that led to a monstrosity on a stage of sorts, only demarcated from the rest of the floor because it was hardwood and not carpet; it was not raised. There lay the Bechstein, and accompanying it was (unfortunately) one of the most hideous things I have ever seen. It’s called the Suspension, and all I can say is the one on my car looks cooler than this thing. It played pretty well, but was just hideous. It’s the kind of thing that should be the size of Washington’s head on the quarter and go inside a snow globe with a bunch of (also miniature) metallic-ish things.

Anyway, the Bechstein was unbelievable. I told him about the Kawai I had played (which I thought was nice) and he almost looked at me with pity. This thing is 9’2” long, which makes it an inch longer than the aforementioned pianist’s Bösendorfer 275’s (two of them, to be exact). Supposedly Bösey is having some financial trouble and isn’t as great a piano maker as I’ve been told (rather, have read), according to (we’ll call him) I Like Seiler. I played a few of the things I knew on the Bechstein, especially (and obviously) those with booming bass lines. It was just perfectly clean, in tune, and responded to anything. It was a thing of beauty. I’m almost willing to say, though, that the B 210 had a more comfortable feel; maybe it was just more broken in. I played a poor, poor Steinway they were giving away for nearly nothing. It was sorely abused and needed some TLC. Anyway, ILS made a comment that I was playing octaves between my thumb and ring finger; I guess I never thought about doing that, but it’s far more comfortable than using my pinky. Long story short was we talked shop and discussed pianos and dealers and such, and I was told I could come back whenever I wanted to play whatever I wanted (that wasn’t already sold). And I didn’t even have to speak any foreign languages.

That story is for later. (Also there is a new Just Because link)





Lincoln Memorial: 5

Mr. Horner walked out of the pharmacy door with his right hand in his pocket, jingling his change, and his left hand buttoning the top button of his jacket. He felt like smiling, but didn’t, and stopped at the end of the curb. He looked down the way he had come, back north toward home, and then to his left, west, toward the industrial part of town. It was clear that this street, Gamble Street, did not lead toward the affluent part of town. Even where he was, still inside the city proper, but on the southern end, this was one of the roads that everything backed up to: there was no street frontage, no storefronts, no shops or homes, but essentially a back alley road that was a two-way street instead of a one way thru street. He didn’t want to go down it, but felt like he should for that very reason. He eased his feelings by making a mental note to do that another day, maybe Tuesday.

Delaney Street ran to the right, and it led completely out of town, toward the farming community, and there was nothing to do out there, nor was there any way to get there in any moderate length of time without a car. That was immediately dismissed. He had already decided not to take Gamble, couldn’t go back north toward home, and wasn’t going to the farming community. He continued to head south on McLean, like he was doing before, but only one block, so he could walk a few blocks west without taking Gamble. He would then head north on one of the presidents’ streets so he wasn’t retracing his steps. This would eventually lead him to Wilkinson’s, which was a few blocks northwest of his home, but farther than he had been that morning. Virtually no time had passed for Mr. Horner to calculate his next move, but to him, it seemed an eternity.

As he walked down McLean Avenue, he noticed something about the brick buildings on either side of the road; this far down the street, outside of the nice residential and rebuilt part of town, some of the older buildings were abandoned, the windows broken in or shattered. Some of the brick sills still shelved shards of glass that were dirty and colored from the time they’ve spent exposed to the weather. Most of these buildings were factories, and therefore were built higher than most of the other shops or houses, and Mr. Horner couldn’t look inside the windows; rather, all he could see was the ceiling as they were too high off the ground to look anywhere else. He saw that the wall ended a short walk ahead and then resumed. He walked down to see that a set of stairs had been recessed inside the building, and walked up them just enough to look at the floor. It had some remnants or other of manufacturing products and materials, but they were so old he couldn’t even tell what they were. As he looked closer, he realized that they were badly charred, and the building was no longer in use from some structural damage from a fire. He reached into his pocket and flicked a penny inside the building and it clinked and rolled a few feet on the concrete floor. Mr. Horner walked back down the stairs and headed south as he was before.

He was a little bit disappointed with his solitude. He was heading away from the city, and even though it was to get back into the city without backtracking, he felt as if he were wasting time. There were no people around and he was walking alone. He stopped what he was doing and turned around. He walked back up the stairs he had just come down and looked down the other end of the building. There was light coming through the other side. He decided to cut through the building instead of walking around the empty blocks. He hurried through, not running or jogging, but sure not to spend any unnecessary time in a burned building. He came out the other side and there were people. Only a few of them, but cars were passing by, and there were some businessmen walking up and down North Street. He had only come over one block, but the difference was noticeable. He waited until anyone that would have seen him come from the building had already left, and headed back north.

Now feeling a little better about his progress, and also realizing he was getting closer to Wilkinson’s, as well as the time when he could actually go there, he started walking, and stopped to go inside at a diner on his right. It was a greasy place, one where breakfast was served all day, and the silverware was almost expected to have smudges, and the table would certainly be sticky. Mr. Horner walked in and sat at far end of the bar. People around him were eating waffles and pancakes, and it seemed that most of them had been there for a while. He was somewhat secluded from everyone else, and he waited for the waitress to approach him. She looked to be a woman who would consider this her career, and therefore also seemed to consider it entirely normal if people did not greet or address her before giving their breakfast order. Mr. Horner moved his head to be able to read the rest of her name, as part of it was covered by the lapel of her work blouse, a blue and white vertically striped short sleeve shirt. She had curly blonde hair, and it appeared that it would have been curlier if Mr. Horner had come in earlier in the morning. She was probably younger than she looked, and he said “Hello, Polly,” and was about to continue with a request when he stopped and asked, “Is breakfast still being served?” Knowing it was, he looked up from the menu at her and smiled as he waited for her response. He watched closely the look on her face, and he was first met with some disdain and irritation, which changed to pleasantness as soon as she looked up from her dirty counter.

“Yes, sir, it is.”

“Oh, good. Well, I’ll just have a cup of coffee for now. I may have to leave soon.” Polly asked him how he would like his coffee, and he pretended to debate, and decided on having it black. She poured him a cup of coffee and walked away. Mr. Horner looked around near her work station. She was the cashier, and he looked for trinkets, pictures, magnets, or something that belonged to her. He saw along the back wall a few plaques that had peoples’ names on them. He saw one with the first name Larry “T,” but could not read the last name. He saw Larry at the other end of the bar at the stovetop. His plaque was for employee of the year. He saw a few more below those, but couldn’t find those employees at work today. Below that was a plaque with a picture on it that was clearly Polly, but it was a few years old. He looked closer at it, and it was to commemorate her tenth year as an employee. He was very surprised, not that she would keep a job, but that anyone would have such tenure, if it could be called that, at a breakfast diner. They usually didn’t even stay open that long. He was sipping on his coffee and had picked up a section of the newspaper in which he was not interested when she came back by. He coolly dropped the newspaper onto the counter from where it had been suspended in front of his face. He swallowed the coffee he had just sipped and asked her about the plaque.


Das ist blöd... and recruiting PrePoly's

It’s been an entire week since I’ve posted. And even longer than that since I’ve actually talked in my post.

So new things:

Installment 5 of Lincoln Memorial is in the works. (I don’t know if you guys realize I’m writing this as we go; it’s not all done. Y’all are about as in the know with the story as I am, minus the general outcome.)

I went to the Aquarium. Beautiful.

Writing letters in Turkish to send to people. Met a lady that can proofread them for me.

Learning (not only Turkish but)(probably just SOME) Persian. Have some literature and books and things and some people I need to be able to speak with that I met last weekend with The Doctor, and now I have to learn Persian. I tried to finagle Kimi Stewart to learn a language with me. Here’s why:

I went kayaking on Sunday (that’s not why). My old babysitter (still a great family friend) and her husband are in the Spanish congregation and every year they invite about twenty people or so to go kayaking. This year, however, their boss’s niece (I think) was coming as well. Only thing is, she’s from Germany. She speaks English very well, but I couldn’t help myself. With about a week’s notice and a crash refresher course from Frau Adorable I felt somewhat confident in my German. (Also, I Dunno helped me with some flashcards on the way up there that day). Anyway, I realized on the kayaking trip (all six miles of it), that spending time with a bilingual for a reasonable amount of time (with a small foundation already built), you can very quickly become comfortable (conversant, not fluent) in that language. It made for a very enjoyable (relaxing at times, at times not) six mile journey. The German girl was very pleasant and we talked about languages and school and stuff. Very nice. But back to Persian. I decided from this, as I mentioned earlier, that spending some considerable time with somebody that speaks (or, less desirably, is learning to speak) another language well, is invaluably beneficial to your learning the language yourself. Because we can’t GO to Italy or Romania or Turkey just to learn the language, we have to try to replicate total immersion as best as possible.

That having been said, how nice would it be to have a few friends learning a few different languages, or even just one, and be able to work off of one another. Now, it won’t be as easy as German, because in that case, she was fluent, and I already have some working knowledge of the language, so it was very productive, but you people need to help me out. Learn another language, set aside a few bucks and buy some CDs and a few books, and check out some online radio or podcasts, get some literature in that language (because it’s only printed in 265 langauges), and get cracking. You’ll be all the better for it, and hey, you may even enjoy it. I’m somewhat sad to say that Russian has taken the backburner recently, and I seem to be getting more unfamiliar with it on a daily basis, but that wouldn’t be the case if H’n’B would pony up and work with me on it. (Don’t take that too seriously, H’n’B; it’s just a suggestion). So y’all decide individually what y’all are gonna learn and get crackin’.

I couldn’t help myself at the thought of going to the aquarium: I knew that in the city, at the world’s largest aquarium, I would see some foreigners. I put the “Good News,” booklet in my cargo pants pocket and carried it along. For those of you that haven’t been, it’s breathtaking, unlike anything you’ve ever seen, even for somebody whose family has a 40-year diving tradition. It’s indescribable, so I won’t try, but you must go see it for yourself. It’s very well done, well built, well organized, and was not crowded when we went. Very leisurely and awesome. Anyway, I, of course, met these two women in the cafeteria who were from Ethiopia. I just walked over and asked what language they were speaking, and it was hysterical because they said “an Ethiopian language,” as if I wouldn’t have known which one it was, so I responded with “Amharic or Tigrinya?” and they were shocked. One responded and asked me if I spoke Amharic, and I said no. They also spoke Arabic and Oromo, the latter of which I am not as familiar with. Anyway, I talked with them for a while and they were very nice.

What else? You all know about Turkish… I’ll talk about that later.

I’m working on Lincoln Memorial as I can, and may have it up by this evening. I’ve taken a few weeks off of running, and am starting up again today, so that’ll be nice.