One of my skills to improve this year was Spanish. Last week I went to a meet-up group of Spanish speakers and did ok. As I expected, I did a much better job listening and comprehending than speaking. I took a few correspondence college courses in Spanish (yeah, weird, huh?) which involved a lot of reading and writing, a bit of listening and no speaking. Naturally my pronunciation and sentence structure was pretty rough. I think my vocabulary is pretty good (for a novice) but I can stand to get some work on all the various tenses, getting a broader range of adjectives, transitional words and all of that.
I’ve also been listening to the Coffee Break Spanish podcast, which is great. I’ve listened through a lot of it before but now I feel like I’ve got a real reason to learn it, so I think it’s sinking in a little better. I’ve been flipping through a Spanish textbook and bringing a Spanish phrasebook to work with me in case I get the urge to look something up that strikes me. The group was very helpful and I think as long as I stick to it I’ll make improvement. Actually getting out and conversing with people face-to-face is going to be much better than any other learning aid I could come up with.
I’ve been hitting the world of dairy pretty hard as I mentioned in this post.
Lately I’ve been reading Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Oceans which is written by Brian Fagan, an archaeologist and avid sailor. He writes about how different societies throughout history have gone about sailing and covers some interesting things about weather patterns and navigation through astronomy. There’s lots of things that would be of interest to people into primitive skills or students of history that wonder about the details on how they got from point A to point B. If you think about it, heading right into the stormy ocean for an uncertain destination has to be pretty scary. I’ve also been reading The Book of the Moon which so far is pretty cool. It covers virtually everything about the moon from hard science, our history trying to figure it out, folklore and mythology. I’m not that far into it, but I think I’m going to get some good out of it. I now at least can identify all the phases of the moon.