A bit of a random post today. Excusez-moi, s’il vous plait. Put a kettle on. Get ready for a bit of reading. This is texty and light on photos.
Some days, I will dedicate most of my intellectual “leisure” time to French (before you start thinking that I should be waaaay better by now, remember that I am now working about 30 hrs a week again and we have no dishwasher or microwave here!). Obviously, my French is nowhere close to my English. I can read and fully comprehend one French news article in the time it takes to read something like three or four English articles. So while I am working on the language, I feel like I am less-informed about current events, taking in less literature, etc.
This week, my French may have suffered, but I put in a lot of reading.
1. I finally read Age of Miracles. Fast read, young adult novel. I always enjoy a read like this, especially after plodding through some dense non-fiction. I’m not a slow reader per se, but I definitely would not be considered a fast reader. I wish I could say I was above needing a confidence-boosting YA novel now and again, but alas, I am not.
2. I also did put in some of the aforementioned, dense non-fiction reading. Enter Oliver Sacks and Migraine. As a classical migraine sufferer, I found this fascinating and learned a lot. I feel so validated! The first migraine I remember having was in second or third grade, at a friend’s birthday party. Since then, I learned some triggers and associations. I often have migraines when I eat hot dogs (not an issue anymore, obviously), a bar of plain chocolate, too much cow’s dairy (goat cheese does not have the same effect), more than one or two servings of caffeine in a day, or much alcohol. My symptoms include loss of visions, numbness of hands/roof of mouth/nose, throbbing pain in temple and behind eye (usually the right side), and nausea. Those are the usual for me. On a couple of occasions, when I wasn’t able to take an Excedrin or lie down and fall asleep in time, I actually began to lose the ability to read and speak. Sounds scary, right? (Some sufferers have fainted or even had seizures as results of migraines–eek!). But after reading this book, I actually feel fortunate, as I maybe suffer between four-twelve a year, and often can stop the progression with over-the-counter medication.
3. Reading for class: The Fattening of America by Eric A. Finkelstein. So far, I’m not exactly learning new facts from this book, but the author’s argument that the obesity epidemic is caused by economic and technology changes is what makes this an interesting read.
You didn’t know I was taking classes?! My class, the Economics of Obesity, starts today and is offered by a Johns Hopkins professor through the [FREE!] online program Coursera. Coursera is great for fans of lifelong learning, who enjoy learning with structure, but do not enjoy paying for it! In most cases, you will get a signed certificate from a well-established university verifying your course completion. I’m signed up for some education courses that start in January as well. You can also watch the TED talk by Coursera’s creator if you’re interested.
4. Blog Reading. I don’t always have my nose buried in a
book iPad. I like to read all sorts of sources. You know I love blogs.
French in Perspective. David Lebovitz is a chef/blogger from San Fransisco who currently lives in France. He writes in English, but often reflects on learning/speaking French. This post hits on those frustrations and also highlights some neat old dictionaries (perfect for bibliophiles who are trying to learn French!).
When not reading in French, I do enjoy reading about learning it. One of my pet peeves is when people say things like “When I spent two weeks in Spain, Spanish just clicked for me.” As though language is magic and he/she learned Spanish as though receiving the gift of speaking in tongues from the Holy Spirit. First of all, a large portion of the people who have said this type of thing to me are not even fluent (sometimes have even fewer skills in Spanish/French than me!) Benny, who manages a blog for language learners, has a great perspective on this in “Why Learning a Language is Not Impressive”. He consistently reminds people that it is hard (but meaningful!) work to learn a new language. This is my experience, as I work for each and every word.
5. Current events. This one’s a bit light-hearted. And I just wanted to share the article with you. Please check out the side by side comparison of the “restored” fresco. Old ladies always mean well, don’t they?
I hope you’re enjoying some wonderful and educational reading lately. Along with that pot of tea that is now ready for you.