Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A Distant Mirror, and more

 I finished Barbara Tuchman's classic A Distant Mirror a few days ago. Great book, especially if you are interested in the so called Dark Ages. I applaud her on telling the history through one normal joe,de Coucy. Lots of pages on the Black Death and supposed chivalric valor. Good read. 

I dumped the Russian HP4. Not enough time left before my DLPT and OPI, and I need to concentrate on Russian that I'll be tested on, therefore, lots of news articles. The big ones now are on changes Biden is proposing with respect to Russian-US relations; changes proposed to the Russian retirement system (дедушкам и бабушкам надо дольше работать!); and some other subjects I can't remember right now. One more class left this coming Friday night, then the speaking test on Tuesday, listening on Thursday and reading on Saturday.

Then I'll start an Esperanto book that my daughter sent me: Bogomolov's La Momento de Vero. Another in my favorite sub-genre of books by Esperantists about WWII. 

I'm a bit behind in my 2021 reading challenge, but I don't get as much reading time here as I do at home, so I expect to catch up once I've returned to the family.

Saturday, January 16, 2021


 Doing another Russian class with a Defense Language Institute (DLI) instructor like I did last March/April time-frame. I tried to get six weeks, twice weekly for two hours, but all they had available was six classes of two hours each. Gonna take what I can get.

I think I've been trained to be anxious before these classes due to the year of the Russian Basic Course at DLI way back in 1986. The teachers then, oh boy, God help you if you didn't do all your homework. I had one break into English once and tell me she was going to "fucking smack" me if I kept pronouncing в комнате as /və kom-na-tə/.

So now I don't sleep well the night prior, for fear of disappointing my instructor, who couldn't be nicer of course. I study and read, and study and listen, till I'm tired of the language, then have a great time during the two-hour block. Ugh.

Besides the things I'm doing for class, I'm also listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Russian while reading in Russian (one chapter) and English (the next chapter). So far so good, but I know I won't have enough time before my DLPT and OPI to finish the book; too slow going as I get back to my room so late every night.

Now, I'll finish this short post and get back to reading. Harry & Co. are about to go to the Quidditch World Cup. Nothing bad could happen there, right?

Monday, January 4, 2021

New year

 New year, new goal? Maybe. Who knows.

Goal again this year is 70 books. Secretly hoping for 80, but we'll see when I get back home. Currently I'm reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (HP4). I'm reading it in prep to L-R it in Russian. I'm starting a Russian class this Friday night. Two hours, six times in January. Then my tests in the beginning of February. Hoping to maintain my 2+/2+ and at least a 2 in speaking. 

I'm also "reading" (by Audible) Tuchman's A Distant Mirror about the 14th c., one of my favorite historical time periods. It's very long (29+ hours) but engrossing, as she traces history through the life of one "normal" man (thus, not royalty or a woman, as she explains if there is enough written about a woman in the Middle Ages then she was extraordinary, and not "normal"). Review later (16 hours left).

Coptic continues this week after a two-week holiday break. We're in chapter 8 still, two sets of exercises left then on to ch 9 where we work on prepositions with pronouns attached. Very interesting language, this. If this gets in the way of the Russian I'll audit till my tests are done.

After the Russian, I'm reading a new Esperanto book I got called La Momento de Vero (The moment of truth) by V. Bogomolov. It's a military detective story about the search for German spies in Belarus during WWII. Right up my alley!

I did end last year with 71 books, not just the 70 I reported in my last post. The family book club read was Rosone's Into the Stars, a really horrible and horribly edited sci-fi novel. (FTL or FLT, depending upon the chapter you're reading.) Thank God it was short. Thankfully, it cost zero dollars. Would have hated myself if I'd paid any money for it. 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. Schwab

 Great book. I'm on a roll.  Spoilers : Adeline "Addie" LaRue has a problem. She's being forced to marry. This is 1600s Fr...