The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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it's way too early to be awake
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
My niece had her birthday party at Gattiland, and after doing my duty shepherding three under-six year olds for a while between games (easy, really; everything is shiny, so it's a matter of keeping them all moving in the same shiny direction), I was free to play. Which is, and I don't know if you know this, a surprising hazard.

I played skeeball.

I woke up this morning with a huge pain on my right side just between waist and hip and went through the options I was dying or seriously injured or you know, accidentally sacrificed something vital for three wishes that I'd forgotten I'd made (this is me; it could happen) until I mentioned it to Child, who gave me the most disappointed look ever.

"Turn around," he said, and rolled his eyes and turned me himself. "Where does it hurt?"

Blank, I pointed, and he poked me gamely because that's my kid. "Ouch, and what the--"

"Okay, try this," he says, getting my arm and pulling it back and nudging my shoulder. "Pretend you're skeeballing."

I did so, and crouched, seeing the game before my eyes now, lights lit up and fucking missing 10,000 again and--oh. Ouch.

"You can get skeeball injuries?" I asked, surprised. Because hey, you can. "How many games did I play?"

"A lot," he answers grimly, visibly not rubbing his side, which oh. "Skeeball hates left handed players."

Which it does, which is why his shoulder hurts too. Because apparently Child and I are the kind of people who get super competitive about skeeball to the point of injuring ourselves playing. No, we don't know how many games we played, but apparently, way too much. Which now explains why the rest of the skeeball lanes were mysteriously empty while Child and I doggedly ramped up the tension of playing like our souls were at stake.

So now you know--Skeeball Side and Skeeball Shoulder Are A Thing. Is there any exercises I should do before the next time? Get in shape, if you will.

Black Butler

Child has been trying to drag me into anime and manga as a serious thing, and in my absence, my niece is his favorite victim. Which is how I wandered into the room just as Sebastian's careless lock of black hair fell between his red eyes and fell in love, echoing my niece's cooing, and sat down. Two eps later, Child came in to gaze upon his work in satisfaction for a job well done.

You know, my fannish life was much less eclectic--and anime-filled--when it was online. Adding in an IRL fanboy in residence totally changes the rules. Any moment of any day I can and will be accosted with new fandoms, and God help me, he's trying to get me into Homestuck like an evangelical on a bender. It's surreal. Not as surreal, of course, as finding out we frequent some of the same journals and forums, but up there. There's a part of me--cruel--that kind of half-wishes he hadn't been coached into fandom so carefully and so knows the basics; he's a teen, and therefore has poor-impulse control, and he'd be fantastic in random flame war. Though his adoration of Misha Collins is worrying me on his troll potential. We shall not speak of his appalled discovery of comms that loathe Misha, as it's best left to the imagination, but I will tell you it was hilarious and only a mention now can set off a tirade to do a OTCer proud.

Black Butler--okay, yes, I should have totally jumped on this one like, yesterday, fine. God.

Duolingo

Note: it actually does work. Yeah, that was interesting to find out.

My text Spanish is dramatically improved, and I can report this objectively since at work I help review the Spanish and English text for SSP, and while I used to just be able to check for special characters, I can read most if not all of it now and can even--to my own shock--realize the rare times we get a translation for one thing that ends up matched to the wrong English text when a sentence from another part of the site ends up crammed into the wrong page. Which makes some hysterical reading now.

I'm as surprised as anyone on this one; college and high school did very little for me other than being able to pass the tests, and only when I was a clerk and then a caseworker did it ever actually progress to real-world usability. Now, it's not completely effortless, and I have to concentrate, but it's doable to read through a Spanish wikipedia article and get most of it. Duolingo's strongest arena is obviously going to be reading and translating, but equally surprising was the verbal--listening, not speaking--is coming across pretty well. I used to have to use the slow repeat a lot more than I do now, and I can sometimes follow the conversations at work from a few of the Spanish speakers.



On a guess, two things work for it. One, points and levels show progress, which is nice to see and gloat over, but it's also because each lesson is about the time it takes for me to take a break at work, and Two, strengthen skills lessons--which are basically just reviews--do the smart thing and aren't entirely eclectic in what they choose to review. Each time I do one, it has a vague concentration on one aspect instead of throwing in a whole bunch of different earlier lessons at random, and actually do the strengthening thing. It picks from any of the many, many skills, but about half of the exercises are following the same skill, which helps hugely especially on weaker skills.

It's also fun, the way class just wasn't. There's an entire lesson in which the exercises were various ways to say I/you/he/she/we/they basically conquered a country. I can now thoroughly declare my revolutionary tendencies in two languages. I like how when you fail a lesson, it does change up the lesson, but keeps some of the same things you made mistakes on the last time in another form--ie, messing up a translation to Spanish, it comes back translating it to English. I learn from my mistakes, get the repetition element without it being boring, and feel vague satisfaction finally getting through it.

The app has the lessons and the strengthen skills only; the website, interestingly, has both Lesson Practice (strengthening skills) and a separate one for vocabulary only, which lets you either work with a specific word/set of words in context or simply go for a strengthening lesson of your weakest words. There's also Immersion, which is documents in Spanish uploaded by users that everyone can translate bits of as they get better at it. Some are better than others, but seriously, the person who uploaded the Spanish guide to Minecraft I blessed a hundred times over; nothing like a gaming guide for a first attempt at it, being very straightforward but also interesting in nailing down the differences in grammar and sentence construction.

Duolingo - Yes I am totally pimping this to everyone. It's just a lot of fun and manages to do that while teaching. Amazing. If anyone decides to try, I'm on as seperis, feel free to friend!



Also, it's raining. I like this.

Posted at Dreamwidth: http://seperis.dreamwidth.org/985208.html. | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments

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Oooh, thank you for reminding me about Duolingo! I've been remiss in playing with it for too long. I don't remember my username over there, but I'll add you. :D ETA: I'm unquinnish!

I'm sorry about your skeeball injury. It sounds unfortunate. I suppose you could wait until it hurts less and then make a habit of miming the motion in sets of five a few times of day or something where you can steadily increase it until playing your butt off isn't painful? Ouch.

Edited at 2013-09-29 04:26 pm (UTC)

Daughter got me in Black Butler a few years ago and right now she loves Misha... I guess she and Child would perfectly match ;-)

Duolingo sound pretty srsly kewl!! A mi, no lo necesito, waaaay too many years as the only English-speaker in the kitchen, and there ya go. but it sounds like somebody with a fucking *brain* built it, which hey, never bad.

and yeah, Black Butler is mmm, *tasty*. I dunno how slashy the anime is; the manga is *hella* slashy, especially when the kid gets all dressed up frilly and that, mmm. what can I say, am a sucker for cute boys in dresses, lol.

and you are absolutely right -- not only does skeeball hate lefthanders so does most of the rest of the fucking *universe*. it's not fair. I'd demand my money back, but we all know I'd just get into more trouble with it, so yeah. huh. tricksterquinn's suggestion sounds a lot like my physical therapist; might work!

as for German in anime/manga, anybody here ever seen Georgia Peach? I highly recommend it -- is story of Erwin Rommel's brother, and holy fuck it is beyond description. found some a long time ago in a galaxy far away, pre-Net. hmm... gotta go see if moar ever showed up online someplace.

okay, it for now. hiya, you!!

Thank you for putting me on to Duolingo. I've only been using it for a couple of days, but I can tell it's going to be useful. I've been intending to do something meaningful about my language skills forever, and this seems to be a tool that will actually work for me.

My problem is I use spanish everyday, but I learned it in High School but was never really functional conversationally, and then didn't really use it at all for nearly ten years. Now I live in a spanish speaking country but most of my work colleagues speak english and no one will correct my grammar so it continues to be horrible. So I'm a mixed bag - I have a fairly big vocabulary but my grammar sucks and most spanish "courses" are too simple to start with so I loose interest really fast. This seems to be able to make me concentrate on the things I have problems with (tenses, prepositions, accents) while not constantly re-treading the stuff I already know well.

I haven't explored the social networking part yet, but I'm losterizo there too if you want to link up.

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