29 April, 2010

The Seven-Legged Spider

If you, like me, enjoy a good clever chain email filled with wit, you'll have heard the story of the seven-legged spider. (Yes, yes, I recognise the paradox in that sentence: deal with it.)

If you haven't heard the story, read this page and then come back here.

I've been spending many an hour of late perusing the other articles on that site. I could wax lyrical on the sheer genius that is David Thorne. I could waste valuable time patting the heads of the righteously indignant, reassuring them that he only has an audience because people like them throw tantrums.* But I won't, because those people prefer tantrums to paying attention to wisdom, and that's eleventy bajillion minutes of my life that I'll never get back.

So in leiu of such a panacea, I have redeemed myself by inviting more than a thousand people to the birthday party of a complete stranger (a friend of a friend) who publically listed her birthday drinks on Facebook.

* I SO wanted to write "tanties" there, because thowing a tanty is infinitely more tough than throwing a tantrum, but for those who didn't understand what a tanty is, the graceful flow of my repartee would have been irrevocably lost.

14 April, 2010

Hmmm writing?

So I've submitted an article to Helium for the first time in ages. I wasn't too enthused about the subject though, and it shows (currently ranking just above the middle). I need to put some quality in. Maybe next time? Blah.

Tonight I attempted home made pizza. The base was absolutely fantastic! I did have to add more flour than the recipe asked for, but that's ok, all flours are different. I made the dough in the breadmaker and threw in 4 tsp of pizza herbs to it. Pizza dough recipe

The toppings weren't so perfect though. I made one with barbecue sauce, because I ran out of tomato. It was ok, but overall the pizzas were a bit sweet (pineapple and sweet corn overdose). It needed something more on the salty side of things. Still, I can still award myself 7 out of 10, quite respectable for a first attempt. And the crust was a 9.

11 April, 2010

Finnish Lessons: 2010

Over the Winter, my Finnish has basically frozen in time, just like the weather. I'm now in yet another beginner class. The grammar is just fine, I can read and write the lessons no problems. I can merrily parrot the answers to the teacher's written questions. Unfortunately, the moment anyone opens their mouth and speaks to me in Finnish, the babelfish in my ear turns it into perfect Swahili. It's not an exaggeration either - (well, maybe the Swahili thing is) - I'm presently on my 12th teacher and bored stupid by the course contents, but utterly unable to undertand what the teacher actually says.

The part that's REALLY sad isn't that I'm crap at oral Finnish. The part that's saddest is that when I confessed this to a classmate, she knew exactly what I meant. A bystander overheard and admitted that she, too, had done this class before and had returned because she couldn't use any of the grammar she'd been taught. Incredulous, I asked one of the guys. Same old story. People all over the place manage to grasp grammatical structures but never actually speak Finnish outside the classroom.

So an epiphany of sorts is just waiting to be seen by the powers that be. Newspapers reporters churn out article after article about how "difficult" Finnish grammar is and how Finland simply MUST spend more on teaching the grammar to the immigrants. Universities conduct studies on newcomers and find that nobody finds the Finnish courses very useful. Staff examine the course contents ad nauseum, writing new books and inventing different approaches to the same thing: imparting the grammar. And all for naught.

It isn't grammar alone we need to learn. Books can do that; why attend a class if I can study a grammar book at home? Will learning to create a perfect sentence help me, if speaking a sentence is so awkward? Isn't it better to talk "like a weird foreigner", my mumblings full of grammatical errors, but knowing enough to get my meaning across?

We need to practice speaking. PRACTICE; what a concept! Guess what, universities, hosting a conversation class is cheap - just take a copy of the Metro into class, no other preparation required. No photocopying, no exams to mark. Just have conversations about different topics. Or is that too simple?

Jam 5 immigrants into a classroom with a teacher and no pens, papers or books. Lock the door for an hour a day. They'll learn more in that 60 minutes than in the last 60 hours of homework.


You know what's weird? This blog (untouched for quite a while through sheer laziness on my part) is still consistently getting 10-ish unique hits a day. I wonder if they're all bots?

So as you might have gathered, I hammered the "post" button a few dozen times today and spewed out a bunch of posts I'd written a while ago, which had been sitting idle backstage. The dates aren't necessarily accurate and suddenly I've gone from Christmas preparation posts to the present day - when the snow is melting and Spring is peeking at us in sporadic bursts. Do not adjust your set, etc.