Wednesday, February 24, 2016

(Not Quite) Reading in Spanish

I decided to give my Spanish skills a test by checking out an ebook from the library. I've tried reading in Spanish before, but I've always run into a vocabulary problem. Since using Duolingo, I've been able to get a good amount of meaning from the articles on BBC Mundo, so I figured it was time to try another book.

The Boise Public Library does not have a very large collection of ebooks in Spanish, but as I scrolled through the selection, I found one that I thought would be perfect for my purposes. It was a young adult book, and I'd read it before more than once. Surely, I'd be able to figure out some of the more exotic words by context in Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal. 

The problem was that the book was not immediately available. So I placed a hold. Unfortunately, the hold did not alert me when the book became available so I didn't even take a look until six of my fourteen allotted days had passed. And then I realized that it was not available through Kindle, so I would have to read it on my computer instead of on my ereader.

But all of those complications wouldn't mean anything if I couldn't read the text.

And, although I understand the gist, in part from a familiarity with the story and in part because I do have more Spanish vocabulary and grammar than I used to, I don't feel like I can read it. I hesitate every few words when something unfamiliar, either in construction or form, pops up. I tried for a while to search for the meanings of unfamiliar words, but that process was laborious and took away from the reading experience.

I think I need to find some simpler books to start reading in Spanish. Clearly, young adult is still too high an aspiration at my 54% fluency. Maybe I can ask my dad to send me that old copy of Jorge el Curioso...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

NHL - You've Gone Too Far

Oh, NHL... I can deal with the NHL app trying to get me to believe that both the teams are on a power play at the same time. I can deal with trying to figure out how to get my computer to play the audio for games (or just go directly to the WGN website). I can deal with the long load times in the phone app.

But I have found my line, NHL. I have found my line, and you have crossed it.

Whenever games are going to be broadcast on NBC or NBC Sports Network, there's a nice little icon displayed on the Scores section of the app. That's helpful. I like it. Because I don't have cable, and if the games are going to be on NBCSN, then I can't watch them. I can watch them on NBC, just not through GameCenter, excuse me,

And, in ye olden days of a few weeks ago, I could look on the app and also see when games were going to be broadcast on NHL Network. They even used an icon on the Scores section.

Now they do not.

And I have had the excruciating experience of looking forward to seeing my Blackhawks only to discover minutes before puck drop that the game was being broadcast on NHLN and I can't watch it.

I understand that NHLN broadcasts games, and that, as the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Blackhawks will have a number of games broadcast on both NHLN and NBCSN. But for the love of Zambonis, NHL, you have to let me know when it's going to happen. I need to prepare - set up the audio and be resigned to catching the highlights instead of live action.

I can't take finding out at the last minute anymore. I know you know I'm out-of-market for Chicago - why else would you block any games aired on Altitude Sports?

Use an icon. Tag it in some way.

Just stop teasing me!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

NHL's New App

The NHL has rolled out the revamping of their online properties, and it isn't horrible.

For the most part, I can still find what I'm looking for, just not all of what I'm looking for.

I'm still not sure where I go to access the audio for games from the website, though I can find it just fine on the app. I've gotten around this by going directly to the radio station's website, because the only time I want audio on the computer is when I'm blacked out of a Blackhawks game, and I know how to find WGN Radio online.

It's odd how some of the new features seem designed for less than avid fans while others seem designed with the avid fan in mind to the exclusion of those less so.

On the one hand, my phone sends me reminders when my "Favorite" team has a game, a few hours before it starts. Thank you, NHL App, but I have those games on my calendar. I look at them; I know when one is going to be on. I look forward to when they aren't blacked out. Why do you remind me of a game I've been looking forward to since the last game?

On the other hand, the standings page on the website no longer designates the teams' conferences in the conference standings, leaving my husband to have to double check with me on the matter of which team is first in the Pacific. Or to switch the view. But those little C's and P's and A's and M's were helpful.

I think that most of the little things will shake out. I was surprised at the mid-season roll out, but not surprised that there were issues, especially with the broadcasts on the first night. Most of the issues I find I can shrug off.

But there is one that bugs the heck out of me.

On the app, in the Scores area, the app will display the words "Power Play" under the names of both teams when one is on a power play. No, NHL App, no. Only one team is on a power play. Why must I click all the way through to stats to find out which team is on the power play? They cannot both be on a power play!

Fix this!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Writing Literarily

I have a lot of work to do this month. At work, I have a variety of projects that I'm testing and shepherding. I have a new employee's training to oversee. I have to write a performance evaluation for the first time for another employee. I have a presentation to prepare for a conference coming up in early March. And then there are all the little fires to put out as they flare.

And so, when I found that I couldn't sign up to hand in my first story for class after the conference, I decided to get it done sooner rather than later. I would have signed up to hand it in last week, but I was going on a vacation to visit my family and I didn't want to make myself try to write it when I'd be traveling and visiting for so many days.

So I signed up to hand mine in yesterday. That due date gave me a nice, non-travel weekend to work on it. And I had everything planned out. I scheduled myself to write 1000 words each day on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and, if needed, Saturday. Sunday and Monday would be revision days to get it into shape for sharing.

In part, I believe, because of my success with the January Tabata challenge, where I committed to and did two 4 minute exercises every day that month, I rose to the challenge of writing a story on a tight timeline. I had no time to work on the story during work. Even my lunch time wasn't a good time for writing, because my brain needed to relax and decompress.

I wrote about 1000 words of story on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I wrote more words of background, trying to figure out who my character was before I wrote her story, because I felt like the stories we had read the previous week by students had trouble in part because the author didn't know who the character was. In that, I feel I treated it more like the literary-focused class would have preferred.

But then I wrote into the dark.

I placed my character in a situation and figured out where it was going by writing it. A break in routine led to more characters. A vague idea of what might happen next developed into something I didn't expect until I wrote it. And I never imagined the ending from where I began. I had fun with the story. The words weren't difficult, for the most part. I just needed to keep exploring.

Since the writing into the dark technique of Dean Wesley Smith's worked so well, I went ahead and submitted the story to a magazine before I even handed it out to my workshop classmates. I got a rejection for it yesterday, and I'm going to send it out again. It's a story I like. There's no reason not to keep it "in the mail."