Searching for a Distraction

For the past decade, my primary hobby has been to sit in front of a computer screen and manage a website. Whether a personal blog, a social group’s hub, or a fan site for a particular game — this has been my way of unplugging and relaxing. Not coincidentally, for most of the past decade my career has also been intricately intertwined with the Internet.

And in the last few weeks I have begun the task of trying to find another hobby which with to unplug.

In the past two weeks I believe I’ve settled on one, at least for the short term. And that is, the study of language. There are a lot of fascinating languages, and I have always loved them. Had I not gone to college for Computer Science I believe I would have turned to a dramatically different path for my life based around linguistics. In some alternate timeline I’m wearing a cardigan sweater and working in academia as I pour myself into languages.

However, in this timeline where I exist, I am still working on the Internet with various websites. So I found myself in need of a hobby which allowed me to fully turn my back on web development as if to hide my face in the shade after years of unforgiving sunburn. Seriously, that’s how I feel. My brain has finally begun to rot from focusing on the Internet for so long and now I need something else to take my focus for a while.

Enter foreign language.

In the past two years I’ve visited Spain twice: Barcelona in 2012 and Valencia in 2013. While there I found myself enjoying the language and wanting to learn more, but resigning myself to lack of time except for my random jaunts with DuoLingo on my tablet. I had a similar experience in Amsterdam — which is my favorite city to visit — and the Dutch language. So I figure, why not begin pouring some of my drive and effort and free time into learning these other languages.

I’ve constructed a rough list of my plan for languages to tackle over the coming years decades. I’ve broken it into two lists: Fluent & Conversational. Fluent meaning I want to be able to converse easily and understand these languages without issue. I am hoping to eventually “think” in these languages. Conversational meaning I want to be able to read and write these languages, and with effort be able to converse in them.

Currently Fluent:

  • English

Future Fluency:

  • Spanish
  • French
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • German
  • Dutch
  • Russian
  • Portuguese
  • Afrikaans

Conversational:

  • Latin (previously conversational)
  • Mandarin
  • Cantonese
  • Korean
  • Ancient Greek

Fifteen languages. One down, fourteen to go. Should keep me busy for a few months, right? I’ve listed them roughly in order of my planned level of attack. I don’t plan to get to fluency before moving on, my goal is to spend 3 – 4 months focused and then move on to the next with a growing back log of languages I need to actively work to maintain.

My current project is Spanish. For the past few weeks I’ve been working hard on Spanish vocabulary and getting an understanding of its grammar. I’m slowly getting better and I’ve begun posting sentences on Facebook to get feedback and lessons from my Spanish speaking friends.

I’ll do another blog post which focuses on my process and the tools I’m using.


Me, Neil, and the Great Cosmos

While I mostly skated through school with minimal effort, science was something which, once I progressed beyond the basics, continually confounded me in school. I want to be clear: I do not blame my teachers. This wasn’t a single year where I failed. It was a repeated failing from middle school into college. This remains,

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Vacation Part 5 — Sickness and the Giant’s Causeway

When we got back to our hotel room we collapsed for the night and slept. We slept the sleep of the dead. Between our bodies still adjusting to European time and what we would soon learn was illness, the day’s tour proved utterly exhausting and our beds infinitely comforting. When the alarm went off the

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