I write in German regularly, but not fluently. What I mean is, my conversational German is okay (I can talk about my life and the weather), my transactional German is okay (I can buy shoes and order food), but my new pen pals keep raising topics I’ve never discussed in German, and so I’m learning new words. Which is GREAT! But… I don’t know how to conjugate the new verbs.
Google Translate (translate.google.com) is nearly magical in its application, and I rely on it while traveling. The image to text instant translations are AMAZING! And the translations are pretty smart. I think I’ve mentioned before that it misses context and nuance, which makes some sense: when I had large Swiss bills and smaller denominations, it offered transformation in place of change, because the nuance is a little different in German: I needed small money. But I knew enough German not to ask for transformation, so it was FINE.
Anyway, Google Translate is my go-to for trying to say new things. However, for all of its excellence, switches between conversational past (I had eaten) and simple past (I ate) in a way that distracts me, and which I don’t seem to influence by my English wording. I want to be more consistent, and this tool, which is called Reverso Conjugator, can help me!
German conjugation: conjugate a German verb with Reverso Conjugator, see German conjugation models, conjugated forms in future, participle, present, indicative.
We used conversational past in school, so simple past is kind of exciting – close to how I speak in English, but also unfamiliar in a few ways. So, I’m using it to learn, and it’s been great so far! I recommend it!
I write legal and technical materials professionally, AND I recreationally write a range of other things. Blogs like this, web pages, a surprising number of letters and postcards, diaries, notes for stories, and fiction. Writing is something I have always enjoyed, and I am always writing something, at least for my own satisfaction.
As with so many other fiction writers, the current pandemic has been a wake up call that the popular fictional narratives we have around plagues are not accurate. Yes, in nearly every popular movie, there is a warning from scientists that goes unheeded, and there is needless suffering. Yes, there are rumors and superstitions and panics, and we see those in films and playing out similarly in real life.
Yet, the level of denial visible in real life in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic is shocking. People are devoting significant time to announcing that the pandemic is: a hoax, a domestic conspiracy (despite its global nature), a foreign plot (it is somehow not real but also a foreign bioweapon), a domestic power grab (preventing illness is oppression?), a disease carried by outsiders (again, somehow it is not real but also something strangers bring? WHAT?), something that isn’t real so they flout precautions, something that isn’t real so they sabotage the medicines (but if it isn’t real, why bother sabotaging medicines?), a situation where the vaccine is free but a counterfeit card that falsely claims you were vaccinated costs $400 (so it would be cheaper to go along with the treatment than pretend you did), a private sector plot to embed microchips into people (for generally unexplained purposes, though when they are explained, it always involves something like the location your smartphone already records, which means an additional device would not be necessary)… In this bizarre current reality, the pandemic is somehow BOTH a situation where precautions against catching the illness are banned by a governor AND a situation where that governor’s state requires federal emergency supplies of hospital ventilators and monoclonal antibody treatments for the seriously ill, which the governor suggests people somehow self-medicate with for this illness he says isn’t serious?
If I had written ANY of these things into a fiction story, my writing would have been rejected as implausible. The publishers would have told me that people are not that stupid, and that I should feel bad about making my fellow Americans look so ridiculous.
-I mean, really.
I want people in my fiction writing to be both realistic and smart, but it feels like I can only have one of those two.
I am inspired to post this after reading the tweet above, about news that a sci-fi movie has been interpreted as reality by the anti-vaccine-far-right (who failed to even grasp basic details about the movie they are basing their nonsensical conspiracies on). Their nonsense has gotten so much press that the screenwriter for this remade sci-fi movie had to make public statements emphasizing that it is fiction:
I Am Legend screenwriter dismisses anti-vax claims based on film’s plot
A sci-fi writer hits back at unfounded rumours that Covid jabs turn people into zombies.
(It is still strange to read something on Twitter and later find the tweets I read subsequently inspired news articles…)
The past several years have inspired many discussions about the death of parody in the face of an absurd reality, but the current absurd reality also is killing off the premise that the vast majority of people could consistently act intelligently. Maybe we could get to half, or nearly half, but not an overwhelming majority.
I want a future where people ARE actually intelligent. I want to WRITE futures in which people are intelligent!
I suppose my defense for stories with predominantly intelligent populations will be: yes, but I told you this is fiction.
This is a beautiful, non-fiction graphic novel about an adopted Swede of Korean origin, her life experience as an adopted person, and the corruption and bureaucracy of the international adoption industry.
Drawn & Quarterly is a great publisher, and the excerpt of this book at their website drew me in. The story is charmingly illustrated, but the subject matter is serious. Who gets to decide what the narrative of adoption is? For international adoptions, why is the story always that heroic white people saved a child from their terrible relatives and/or homeland? Why are so many children who are not actually orphaned adopted out of their families and culture?
The narrator looks into her own family history, and it takes years of effort and abundant support from her friends and family to dig through layers of lies – constant lies, omissions, and half-truths – to learn the circumstances of her birth. She illustrates and narrates her experience wonderfully, and makes an excellent advocate for adoptees.
I had to double-check my understanding of the word palimpsest: it is a document that has been erased and written over, and so may have different layers of meaning. It’s a strange Greco-Latin word, and a fitting one for the identity layers adopted people experience.
I’ve had friends who have been adopted, and a colleague who made an international adoption. My adopted friends shared their perspectives about their adoptions with me, how they processed revelations about their origins, and their desires to eventually meet their genetic relatives. (They did!) Their views were the opposite of the adoptive parent colleague, who baselessly villainized his child’s anonymous birth mother to a degree that shocked me, but which fit into his desired heroic narrative. So much of what Ms. Sjöblom wrote made sense to me because of what my friends had shared, but her story should appeal to anyone who wants to know who they are and feel that they “belong.”
My mother apologized a few years back for keeping me so BUSY in childhood. Her mother did it to her, and while her family was Catholic, it still felt like a “Protestant Work Ethic” problem: busy people of all ages with no time to think will be docile and have no time to sin! Business = godliness!
Being “busy” to the point of not really having a life is a difficult habit to break, and so there are self-help articles about how other cultures do it. Wrapping the idea of rest or passivity in labels and costumes from another culture feels hip and exotic.
My favorite versions of these are my various Zen Buddhist books, which encourage us to sit, breathe, and observe our thoughts. (I have a list of friends who confide that they MUST NOT, under any circumstances, be alone with their thoughts, and I honestly worry for them.)
The Dutch are hip and have a word/concept for what we in California might call “chilling,” about being in and aware of your surroundings without multitasking, which is a nice reminder that such things are possible.
Last year, I quit a terrible job in corporate middle management. I was stressed all the time, traveling once or twice a month, occasionally internationally, and work followed me everywhere: from the first email in the morning, sometimes as early as 5 a.m., until the last texts late into the evening.
My holiday time off – several consecutive days in a row! – is jarring, since I’ve been doing metaphorical firefighting for so long that moments of calm almost make me uncomfortable.
As a creative person, I need this time to unwind and think my own thoughts, yet can still feel like I need to be “busy” with work that OTHERS deem “productive,” and that will never get me anywhere I want to go.
It’s nice to be reminded that I can (with effort and practice) relax and appreciate being alive without judging myself harshly for doing so.
Weblog by A. Elizabeth Graves. iPhone photography and links to science-y and foodie topics.
I decorated today. For the solstice/Xmas holidays, I mean.
I’m usually visually understated about this time of year. I have simple tastes, leaning toward one or two colors (gold, red, green, white, OR silver) and some sparkling visual calm. This isn’t rebellion, but I’ve had loved ones who needed ALL THE XMAS THINGS all the time, which was too much for me. As in: if the soap in the bathroom wasn’t Xmas-themed, the world might end. I’ve swung HARD in the other direction.
A solid, pagan solstice/northern European-themed Christmas for me is: a really good, gluten free cake or pumpkin pie, a fresh-smelling wreath, cozy pajamas, feasting on favorite winter foods with loved ones and chatting most of the day away, curling up in front of a fireplace (or bank of candles), and some light entertainment.
This year, all the social elements of Xmas are unsafe, so I’m going a bit out of my range to do something cheerful with lights that is NOT monochromatic (gasp), cycles through MANY colors (gasp!), and is even visible outside.
I’m afraid I’ll get so used to them, I won’t want to take them down. 🙂
Duolingo, the language study app/platform, showed me this cute graphic summarizing my progress this year. I study every day for a couple minutes, and I’ve been using it for about 550 days consecutively…
My eavesdropping in Spanish is getting better, and I made an actual (bad) joke to myself today (about podemos vs. perdemos) which is a good sign for me, though perhaps not for anyone near me.
My Spanish translation and/or guessing ability is improving, but my independent recall and sentence formation isn’t so great, so I’ll need to do some independent writing. I’ve only had spontaneous thoughts in grammatically proper Spanish a few times, whereas I have entire conversations in my head in German, so there’s a long way to go! The Spanish past tense has really bowled me over, perhaps because I hadn’t fully mastered conjugations for the present tense, and I haven’t recovered conceptually. (I ate, you ate, s/he ate, we ate, they ate IS SO MUCH EASIER than the Spanish versions of those: female: Yo comí, tú comiste, ella comió, nosotras comimos, ellas comieron; and then the same verbs for male, but different pronouns for those last three: Yo comí, tú comiste, él comió, nosotros comimos, ellos comieron. YES, German does something similar, but I’ve been practicing that for YEARS longer!)
On the days when I want to study, but can’t focus on Spanish, I return to German. I use German somewhat regularly, thanks to a friend and Postcrossing, so it feels like laziness. Or, less frequently, I switch to French, which I’ve still cumulatively spent more app time studying than Spanish. The issue with French is the random shared words: my trés bien could sabotage my muy bien. This is a really lucky problem to have!
It’s nice of Duo, the owl mascot of Duolingo (die Eule, le hibou, or el búho, depending), to encourage me with this certificate.
I still enthusiastically recommend Duolingo as a nice way to improve language familiarity as part of a bigger study plan suited to your personal learning/method needs.
Native Americans would appreciate it if the U.S. acknowledged that its national Thanksgiving myth is a myth; that Wampanoag generosity was rewarded with oppression; and that the Wampanoags are STILL fighting for their own land.
I’m sharing an article from Time of the current challenges the Wampanoags face – yes, they still aren’t properly recognized and need their land rights to be respected, which needs to be addressed (hello, Biden Administration) – plus a link to the livestream from the demonstration today.
Many Wampanoag hoped that the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing would be a galvanizing event to remind people that they still exist
Information about the National Day of Mourning and details around this event can be found on the page for the United American Indians of New England (UAINE.org). The livestream below has many intersectional values – hello, Palestine and Black Lives Matter! – but also ensures that Native Americans speak for themselves.
Even with the current list of obstacles, the speeches have encouraging solidarity for other groups around the world who have survived colonialism, and emphasis on a need to save the planet and ensure climate justice. The video is 5 hours long, but it includes real time video scenes from the march and other demonstrations – it isn’t all speeches. The pre-recorded portion of the program starts around 2:17, and it is a collection of remote testimonials and videos from many native cultures.
(Aside: one of the speakers from Puerto Rico sent greetings at the end of his speech in the Taíno language, which Wikipedia says is extinct … I recall reading that before, but Wikipedia’s page has a video of a speaker they say is speaking Taíno, and I’m more likely to believe someone speaking it than I am a Wikipedia article based on books from outsiders. While many Google search results insist that both the language and people are extinct, this article, “What became of the Taíno?” in the Smithsonian magazine takes a broader view, and allows people who self-identify as native speak. This touches on the topic of ‘who gets to decide what you are,’ which I think of often as a mixed-race person.)
Far-right racists were coming to power in Britain in the 1970s. When Clapton blurted out racist ideology, and punks seemed like they could go in a bad direction, a bunch of ordinary folks who gave a damn worked up an anti-racist punk zine, organized a network of multi-racial concerts, and functioned as the heart of a broad anti-racist movement.
This is a feel-good documentary, with stressful bits about the UK far right racists. It features performances from X-Ray Spex and the Clash!
Rock Against Racism was formed in 1976, prompted by Eric Clapton. It blends fresh interviews with archive footage to recreate a hostile environment of anti-immigrant hysteria and National Front marches.
There is always fussing within the arts community about artists contributing to mass movements, and whether or not it is effective to make art for a cause, and… it can work very well. Being a part of the solution doesn’t mean you and your group have to solve everything – movements aren’t all-or-nothing. Just being part of the solution moves things in a better direction.
I enjoyed this film, which… is still too topical, really. It is great to see examples of youth organizing of the past against all the usual villains.
I have four novellas from successful past NaNoWriMos, and while I’m trying to turn my attention to making photography books now, I’m still a zealot for sharing great experiences. Participating in, and successfully completing, a 50,000 word novel/la in a month is a GREAT experience!
It’s also surprising low pressure. When I was participating, the idea was that your first novel isn’t going to be your best, so let’s just get it done and out of the way without agonizing over it!
Also, 50,000 words divided over a 30 day month is just 1,667 words a day! You probably TEXT that (emoji aside)!
And the bragging rights! DO IT FOR THE BRAGGING RIGHTS!
I’m in a religion, and I did not think the Handmaid’s Tale was anti-religious in any way… because I don’t naturally associate the oppression of women, including treating women as property, forcing women to conceive children with men not of their choosing, or restricting other basic human rights with religious values. You’d have to be part of a religion with a similarly oppressive belief system to see that horrifically dystopian novel as an insult to your— oh. OH.