A holding pattern

Last week marked the fourth full week of mandatory telework and social distancing; it had been preceded by a week of encouraged but not required.  It has not become more comfortable or routine to me.  We are busier than usual, and everyone is stretched thin between work and home schooling and worry (even as we know we are luck to be able to telework).

I’ve taken to putting an hour on my calendar in the middle of the day in an attempt to schedule a break for lunch and a walk around the block, but more than half the time it doesn’t happen.

Sacrificed a t-shirt to make a series of tie-able face masks.  Not ideal but better than nothing.  Wear them whenever I go for a walk now, even as I cross the street or walk in the street to avoid people on the sidewalk.

Hadn’t been to the grocery store in three weeks, and was out of fresh vegetables, meat, and dairy, so I went yesterday evening.  It was incredibly disturbing, mostly due to people’s behavior.  Still no toilet paper or cleaning products.  No flour of any kind at all. No eggs.  I’m not sure if that is because everyone had descended like locusts earlier in the day or if it is habitual.  Store patrons completely ignored social distancing.  They didn’t have lists and lingered or meandered.  No one (other than me) had a mask.

The nice weather this weekend meant a lot of people were out.  Most of them didn’t seem concerned about social distancing.  Very few of them had masks, and none of the runners did (still).  Very few moved to avoid contact with strangers.  Maybe we really are too stupid to live.

The seasonal farmers’ market should have started last Sunday but has been postponed indefinitely.  The city office that coordinates has some websites for the farms, so I poked around to see about delivery/pickup.  A few have CSAs, but most don’t do half shares; my experience with CSAs in the past is that a full share is WAY too much.  But I do want to help support, so I’ll see if maybe a neighbor wants to share.

Watched the second episode of ST:P.  Started reading Sharon Kay Penman’s Lionheart, but am kind of disinterested in Alicia as MC or potential narrator.  Have been enjoying the #recipesforthepeople videos posted by Chef José Andrés with his daughters.  The recipes aren’t necessarily things I would cook, but I love his delight in cooking/food, and his admonishment to respect the garlic.  (If I lived closer, I would absolutely be ordering takeout from his Jaleo – my two favorite dishes are the espinacas a la catalana and patatas bravas, which I do not share, sorrynotsorry.)

I need to learn about Duolingo’s theory of language learning.  I’ve been using the app to learn a little Portuguese for the last couple of weeks, and I’m utterly bemused by the vocabulary that they introduce early on and their sentence construction.  Is armadillo really an important word for a new language learner, relative to others?  The dog cuts the steak? Seems a little Noam Chomsky to me.  Having said that, my favorite words learned so far, based entirely on how they feel in my mouth and how they sound, are borboleta (butterfly) and tubarão (shark).  Some of it is strikingly similar to Spanish (tiburón) and some is not (mariposa).  And I find the app’s lack of explanation of rules of pronunciation and grammar a little frustrating.  For instance, for the difference in the pronunciation of the letter O –  as I understand it, O gets more of U sound when it is not in the stressed syllable, but that isn’t articulated anywhere.

4 Comments

Filed under language generally, miscellanea

4 responses to “A holding pattern

  1. rosario001

    I haven’t had much luck with Duolingo when trying to learn a new language, for exactly the reasons you describe. But it worked very nicely to order and solidify my knowledge of Italian, which is a language I’ve sort of picked up along the way (it helps that it’s relatively similar to Spanish).

    • I tried Duolingo for French and Italian, but stopped after a few lessons because it wasn’t really helpful to me. I’d be better off just buying a textbook. Even Arabic, which I studied briefly a decade ago was a no go – they just jumped right in without reviewing anything basic, like the alphabet. Russian seems slightly better, but I studied it in a structured way in college, so I don’t need the explanation of the alphabet or verb conjugation or how nouns decline. Portuguese looks similar to Spanish to me, but sounds different. I’m finding the voce and lack of tu confusing though.

  2. Add me to the Duolingo skeptics, although I can see what Rosario is saying. Refreshing languages I know, especially in terms of vocabulary and informal structure, is useful. But learning from scratch? Eh.

    Thanks for the tip on the Jose Andres videos, we will check those out. I have so much admiration for him.

    Shopping is horrible now, and a bad shopping experience takes me ages to de-stress from. The professional shoppers (instacart, etc.) don’t help, although I understand how difficult their jobs are. At least a bunch of stores are rationing access now. And having masks and gloves on makes me feel slightly better.

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