Sunday, January 30, 2011

Something to Chew On

You don't owe it to anyone to come from a perfect family or a positive childhood, but you owe it to them to get the help you need to ensure a break in the cycle.

It could be spiritual help, professional help, medicinal help, whatever. But you owe it to your kids, your friends, your spouse, to people you've never met before, to people you will meet in the future, to give your life purpose and help others find theirs.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Rarest Thing and Ripening...Cheese

I'm going to go ahead and warn you upfront, I have no idea what this post is going to be about. But I told myself I'd keep a blog going, so keep a blog going I shall. Even William Wordsworth wrote without a clear purpose in mind firsthand:

 "From such verses the Poems in these volumes will be found distinguished at least by one mark of difference, that each of them has a worthy purpose. Not that I always began to write with a distinct purpose formerly conceived; but habits of meditation have, I trust, so prompted and regulated my feelings, that my descriptions of such objects as strongly excite those feelings, will be found to carry along with them a purpose."

Although he didn't always know what message his poem was going to convey as he sat down to write, through meditation and revision he molded his poetry to have a clear message and purpose.
That just might be what I have to do.

So, since when did I become enthralled with Wordsworth's writing process? I'll let you know when that happens, but I do admire some of his ideas regarding writing and poetry (though his Preface to Lyrical Ballads is almost painful to read at times). I'm taking English 206 - English Literature - if that clears anything up.

I love my classes this year. My English class is taught by an incredibly laid back young guy who takes his tennis shoes off at the beginning of each class and wears dark-rimmed glasses. I find myself appreciating his dry humor and quiet enthusiasm for English literature. I'm also taking a geography class (which is not at all my favorite, but I've taken worse classes), an online cultural anthropology class (very interesting stuff!), and an intermediate Spanish class (also awesome).

If there's one thing that I've learned this week, it's that I take myself way too seriously and that I need to really start living. Oscar Wilde said, "To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." Well done, Oscar, well done. Step number one to living life to the fullest: slow down and get some freakin' rest. I'm always on the go, my mind is always racing, and I'm never satisfied with just sitting around. But I think sometimes our bodies just need some R & R to regroup. We need to plug ourselves into the wall and recharge. Or at least, I know I do.

It's hard for me to think of things to write about lately. I can never decide what to write about or what I feel comfortable with sharing. Some things just shouldn't be posted for the entire world to see. I'm learning that. Damn online self-publishing platforms. Makin' me think I need to share my life's story to feel like I contributed something to this world. Here's the honest-to-goodness truth: Journals can be your best friend, but only when you stop writing for an "audience." Some things are best written for you, the paper, and your pen. And if you do decide to share some things, wait until enough time has passed that you feel a bit removed from the situation and can look at it with fresh eyes. Write it as it happens, then meditate and comment on it later. Words need time to ripen, like fruit...or..cheese. Or just fruit.

That is all.

(by the way, thanks guys for the encouraging comments!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

4 Websites Every Spanish Student Should Bookmark

Hey guys,

First of all, sorry it's been so long since I last posted. I've been busy with the holidays, switching medicines (which is sending my mind and body on a wooden roller coaster) (hover here), and starting back at school (my classes seem pretty exciting this semester, actually).

In other news, in case you didn't know, I have an insatiable appetite for learning the Spanish language. It's incredibly frustrating and intimidating, however, to have to remember all of the grammar rules and the meanings of certain words (hover here).

Anyway, there are a couple of websites that I have made friends with this past year and consult them numerous times each week, if not each day. Here they are:
I was required by my Spanish instructors to purchase a hard copy of a Spanish-English dictionary, but SpanishDict has saved me a lot of flipping back and forth. When I'm practicing my Spanish, I use this site religiously. It's time-saving features include:

An awesome search feature that can often detect
if the word you entered is English or Spanish

Tool that allows you to roughly translate text (note: Do not rely on this tool for correct grammar! It is developed by Google Translate and will not always give you the correct verbs/nouns)

This site was developed by Rosetta Stone and is a wonderful tool for conversing with native Spanish-speakers (as well as speakers of many other languages, and you can help other people learn English if you feel so inclined). When you create a (free!) account, you indicate which language(s) you are fluent in and which you are learning. Once you join, you can talk to people via "Text Chat," "Voice Chat," or good 'ol e-mail messages (through a Shared Talk e-mail service).
I had searched all over the web for a credible way to instant message Spanish-speakers, but I constantly ran into stupid chat rooms where everyone either talked in English the whole time and didn't respond to a request for helping me practice, or they were full of spam and explicit content. Shared Talk reinstated faith in me that there are intelligent, patient, helpful people out there. I haven't even had to start conversations with people; I have received numerous enthusiastic messages from Spanish-speakers offering to help me learn Spanish (and some even asking if I will help them improve their English, which has been fun!)

One feature I wish was available on this site is the ability to save your conversations so that you can go back and study them later. I have an idea for a makeshift conversation-saving feature, though. If you maximize the conversation window (with the button on the top left), you could take a screen shot of the key parts of the conversation and save to your pictures. I haven't tried this yet, but I plan to.

Getting all of the different verb meanings and conjugations straight in my head (which is already jumbled) is a very daunting task. However, with the verb conjugation trainer on, I can study the verbs on my own, customize my verb drills, and keep track of my progress (since I signed up for a free account). You can customize the drills by type of verb (-AR, -ER, -IR, irregular verbs, semi-irregular, etc). Here are some screenshots of the drill:

Easy level

Hard level
 This site also has some other helpful games, drills, and basic lessons.

Colby Spanish Site
This website, provided by the Language Resource Center at Colby College, is a phenomenal tool for reviewing and practicing grammatical concepts in Spanish. You can choose from numerous interactive practice exercises and guided reading/listening.


I hope these sites/tools helped you if you haven't already discovered them. If you are learning Spanish, take some time to explore the uses of these sites, and if you aren't send this post to someone who is. Sharing is caring!

Know any other great sites for learning Spanish? Just want to give some general feedback comments? Share them with me, yes?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

First Post of the New Year

Happy 2011 :]

I don't do the whole "new years resolutions" thing, but there are some things I wanna explore in the coming months.
1. Lucid Dreaming: Inception captivated me, and I did a little research to see which parts of the movie are accurate. While it's not exactly possible to hack peoples dreams as they did in the movie, some people are more inclined than others to experience dreaming in which they are aware that they are dreaming and can therefore manipulate certain elements. Allegedly, you are supposed to be able to "train" your mind to be more capable of lucid dreaming and must practice techniques to improve. Sounds cool to me.

2. Rock climbing: I bought a "Living Social" voucher for a really awesome rock climbing studio visit. Fifteen bucks for a two people, all-day pass, shoe rental included. Yay for frugal Dani! If I like it enough, I'll go more often and maybe even join the studio on campus (and, even further, I think real rock climbing would be super fun if I trained for it).

3. Dance: I've also realized that I really love to dance. I mean, I've taken lessons when I was younger, and I wasn't that bad at it, but I haven't had time for it. Now, my schedule is freeing up, and I think I wanna check out some classes in town. Lyrical and jazz are my favorite styles, so I'll probably try those first. TJ said he'd learn to ballroom dance with me, but I dunno if he was serious about that :P

Speaking of dancing, my little sister got the Michael Jackson Experience game for the Wii this Christmas. IT FREAKIN' KICKS MY TAIL. But it's awesome. I didn't realize how easy it is to pick up on some of the dance moves. And it is an amazing work out. I couldn't move the next day, of course, but that's because my muscles are currently made of Play-Doh. I caught a video of my mom playing the game, too, but she would lacerate my face with a steak knife if she found out I posted it, so it shall stay hidden.

How was everyone's Christmas/New Years? Got any resolutions/plans?

Later, gators.