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Monthly Archives: December 2008

I’m going to make a revelation to all of you web surfers who are blissfully unaware. We track you guys like… a bloodhound on a foxhunt. You’d be amazed at the amount of fingerprints you can impart when you enter a site. Don’t get paranoid, I can’t obtain your physical address, the colour of your eyes, or your bloodtype.

However,  I can pull statistics that include: your browser type, screen resolution, and the most important item: your IP address, which shows me in what city you’re  connected from. I can also tell how long you spent on any one of my pages.

In this WordPress blog, some of these statistics are available whether or not I wish to view them. On my website, I purposely  turn the stats on, so that I can better attune the site to what you’re interested in, or what screen size best fits most users.

I know, this sort of voyeurism sort of creeps me out as well, so I try to keep the snooping down to a minumum. If it makes you uncomfortable, then you’d best be warned that snooping (aka “site statistics”) is probably the norm, rather than the exception.  I’d guess all of the sales sites track you, and a majority of private sites do so as well. Yes, there are get-arounds, and masking techniques, but it’s not worth the effort, unless you yourself are doing something nefarious. So just accept it as part and parcel of life on the net.

Back to the blog. Some of you find my blog with interesting search terms, so I’ll address these in this post.

David Fourie mp3
– you can purchase his mp3’s at amazon.com

Using Lorem Ipsum in Flash – I’m sure this search term is missing some more verbs and nouns that leads to my miscomprehension of what you seek. You can put any text in Flash that you want.

Lara ipsum – this is what happens when Lara Fabian marries the  inventor of the phony Lorem Ipsum text.

David Foster did not write bridge over t – Absolutely correct. He didn’t write the song that Josh sang, but he also didn’t write many songs on the Hit Man show. He was responsible for the artists, and not particularly all the music.

Dihan Slabbert – Yep, this blog was originally dedicated to the backstory of my creating  the Dihan Slabbert Fan Site, but it tends to veer off course. Sometimes, waaay off course.

Is Siberian Orchestra from Russia – No they are not. They are a band based in NYC. There’s another TSO show  that plays simultaneously on the west coast.  The band was named after the train that connects many remote parts of Europe. They hoped their music would accomplish the same interconnectivity.

Is BYKI legitimate – yes absolutely legitimate, and free.  I recommend you try ANKI, another free program. It has a superior card system that’s interval-based, and creates better memory retention.

Hi-5 Afrikaans – Sorry, no information here about the Hi-5 group. According to an interview with Renee Kruger, the group has disbanded as of timeframe January 2008. And yes, the entire Hi-5 website has disappeared.

Artificial Intelligence Elisa program – yes, I mentioned it, only because I was once fascinated with it, in my youth.  As a class assignment, my buddy and I wrote an amateur program in PROLOG that loosely imitated it. You may want to view this wiki on it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ELIZA

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I see dramatic humor in my pedestrian life. Sometimes the humor is a shade of black. I have an artificial tree that has served me well for many years. If it ain’t broke, don’t upgrade, and I’ll plug a scent into the wall socket for that outdoorsy smell of pine. “Real” is not part of my vocabulary.

Anyway, so this fake tree comes with a stand that mimics a real tree stand. What was the designer thinking? “When they see the tree stand, they’ll think it’s a real tree, but they won’t look past the branches and notice that the green metal support pole is not a real brown tree trunk.” That was a half-fast design. Besides, I cover the base with a tree skirt, which negates the beauty of the “real” fake tree stand.

The tree branches attach to the support pole. At the end of each branch is a metal hook, like a thick bent wire hangar. Last year, I stored the branches in a three foot cube box, and all of the hook ends are hanging out of the box. The box is not really heavy, just cumbersome. I can’t fit my arms around it, so I carry it down the stairs in a circus balance between my arms, body, and hip. The problem with this awkward balance, as I noticed while on the staircase, is that it puts the hooks precariously close to a vital part of my circulatory system. My jugular, to be precise.

I’m staring at the one hook, watching the stair treads, and simultaneously praying … and cussing to myself. In the meantime, while I’m slowly rotating the box to maneuver the hook away from my neck, another hook assumes a poke-ready position by my face. Its target was my eyeball. That’s when I decided that the tree was mocking me with its plastic/metal soul.

When I got to the bottom of the stairs, with all my skin intact and unbreached, I unceremoniously dumped the box of malevolent faux foliage on the carpet and walked away from it. I wasn’t about to try to assemble this tree today, lest I tempt fate.

I’ve always had a fascination with writing implements and calligraphy. It takes a lot of patience to sit and practice my letters. So, I cheat. I own a Parker calligraphy pen that has a bladder and interchangeable nibs.

Here’s the fun part. I only use this pen maybe twice a year. I clear off my rolltop desk. Like any other horizontal surface in my house, its main function is to hold junk.

I find my bottle of black ink. The Skrip bottle has a metal screw cap on a glass base. You already know where this is headed. It’s stuck. It’s glued tight-stuck. NASA could have used this cement on their heat shield tiles. So I try the old “run it under hot water” trick, and worked it loose with an old sock. It’s open. It’s done… Not.

I rinse the bottle, but the bottle continues to leak black, like an interminable bloody nose. I thoroughly wipe the glass, top, sides and bottom, and rest it on the rim of the sink. A black ring begins to form underneath. Where’s this stuff coming from? It’s glass for goodness sakes. There are no pinpoint holes. It’s as though the ink is deliberately crawling out from underneath the cap.

I give up. I place it on a towel and attend to my writing chore. My hands are ashen grey, and I haven’t even dipped the pen in the inkwell yet. Writing with the pen is easy. I know how to hold the pen at a slant. Thanks to the Bic company, I forget how unforgiving real ink signatures can be. I signed my name, and skimmed over it with my hand. Smeared it.

Okay, learned that lesson. I propped the card up to dry. On the next card, the recipient got my greetings, and a bonus: my fingerprints. That would be serendipitous, if they worked for the FBI. My hand apparently had not yet dried after the Battle With The Cap.

I finish writing cards without spilling ink or dirtying any other body parts. The moral of this story: “Behind every beautifully addressed greeting card — lies a splotchy, cramped hand.”

INK-1, EVE-0

I’m watching the PBS Special “Hit Man, David Foster”. Great show, great guests, great music. Mr. Foster is brilliant and amazing.

Basically, I’m just counting the minutes til the other acts clear the stage because Josh Groban‘s going to appear.

Josh shows up, then he parks at the piano and starts to sing “Bridge over Troubled Water” and he introduces Brian McKnight. Great duet, but I wanted to hear The Voice sing solo.

The next number, is his signature song “You Raise Me Up”. He’s rarely sung that one publicly, recently. There’s something about the immediacy of a taped-first-airing of a performance (sarcasm there). Goosebumps and chills.

“When I am down and oh my soul so weary, when troubles come and my heart burdened be…”

“Mom”, says a voice from the other room.

“Leave me alone, I’m watching Josh!” I replied loudly.

“…I am strong when I am on your shoulders”. The stage lights reveal the chorus.

“Mom….” with greater urgency.

“It’s JOSH! Go away!!! Come back in 2 minutes.” I said with as much authoritativeness as I could project without sounding like the Fangirl disguised as a parent that I am. She knows better. This is a “Do Not Disturb unless someone is bleeding or the house is on fire” moment.

“YOU RAISE ME UP…” Josh is hitting those notes hard and loudly now.

She waves my credit card in front of my face. I nod “yeah, go ahead.”[Just stop bothering me while I’m experiencing the mysticism of a Josh Groban song.]

The next minute, she could have charged up a Cadillac and I would not have blinked an eye, or cared.

That song is an anthem.

The show ends, and the fervor has passed. Life is good. I log on, and in my spam folder is a note from Josh. Well, it was from his merchandising team. Their timing is spot on. They emailed it exactly during his performance.

The next time, I’m nailing the doors shut.

This is like grade school all over again. I’m learning my alphabet, my colours, my numbers, telling time, days of the week, months of the year. Geez. I think I’m ready for cookies and milk and a nap.

I feel like Helen Keller when she connected to the world around her. In my head (in my kop) I substitute the Afrikaans word for everything I think, see, and touch. I want to absorb it all in at once! Aaargh!!!

The easy thing about Latin was that the nouns had a fixed base. Puella = girl, puellae = girls. It’s a little bit different in Afrikaans.  Certain nouns with a double vowel becomes a single vowel, when pluralised.  It now makes perfect sense when I read song lyrics that spell “dream” as both “droom” and “drome.”

I looked up the word “student” in the Engels to Afrikaans dictionary and it translates to “student” or “damestudent” for a female student!

I’m trying to learn Afrikaans.

Armed with the following weapons:

With this arsenal, if I do not succeed in my quest, I am not trying hard enough.

I just realised why this is such a novelty for me. When I studied Latin in High School (and college), this was the one element missing from my education. There was never a section devoted to conversational Latin.  I read and translated Latin text.  My only rote memorization was of Cicero’s speech, and the beginning paragraph of the Aeneid. That was it! New vocabulary words were ridiculously easy because their roots are already in the English language.

Now I get to actually leer n’ nuwe taal (learn a new language — did I say that right?) It’s about time!

I can’t seem to do anything halfway.  I couldn’t be satisfied with just memorizing some simple phrases, I have to really learn a new language, don’t I?  “Learn Afrikaans Online“, great site. God help me, I can’t just stop at eating one potato chip.

Ek, jy, u, hy, sy, dit, ons, julle, hulle.
I, you, you (formal), he, she, it, us, you (pl), they.

As the little helper images fly by, I recite the Afrikaans at my computer.

I also read through the pronunciation guides, prefixes, suffixes, word construction and other building blocks.  It’s not as hard as I thought it would be. I haven’t yet figured out sentence construction. Next week, I’ll be walking with my mp3 player, and I’ll be memorizing vocabulary from paper and anki flashcards on the computer.

With this cursory understanding, I revisited some of my favourite songs. The lyrics are already starting to take shape as I’m hearing more words, rather than clump of sounds. Onwards!

My goal is simple, bordering on shallow, and possibly ludicrous: I want to learn just enough of Afrikaans to make out what they are singing on my CDs. Go ahead, double over with laughter. May I continue? I can pick out a few words from a whole sea of sounds. In some ways it’s good that I can’t understand right now. Judging from the depth of lyrics in popular American music (e.g. “I’m in love, I’m all shook up, hey, hey”), maybe I don’t really want to know the lyrics!

I visited a multilanguage site that connects learners of different languages. I thought swell, I can communicate with another real person. Some of the profiles are legitimate language learners, where others are obviously: “I am a good looking [male/female]. I want to talk to you so I can marry you and move to your country.” I didn’t get a warm fuzzy feeling from a site that didn’t screen their profiles. Upon further inspection, it seems I have to have an above beginner understanding of the target language. Nix on that site.

I went in search of basic kindergarten level lessons. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Linguata is the second site I visited. Excellent methods. I practiced on their timed demo. It starts with simple useful words. Strong reinforcement of spelling, and pronunciation by audio and visual aids. The pronunciation is something I was looking for. Linguata allows me to choose to read either English or Afrikaans and supply the correct words. I also like the sound of the voice. Can’t go above lesson three without buying the program.

Then I went to BYKI at transparent.com. Completely free lessons, no time limit, with option to buy an upgrade. After hearing the textbook clarity of the Linguata voice, the BYKI female voice bothered me. But I got over it, and I’m going to start studying from that program. I think once I get used to the sound of the language, I can work backwards. I’ll listen to the music, and try to write down what words I think I hear.

Or, I could just cheat, and find me an Afrikaans speaker to transcribe the music! That would be all too simple, and I would learn nothing from it.

This internet site was recommended to learners, by one reviewer at Amazon.
http://www.rsg.co.za/adverteer_luisteraars_eng.asp

I just downloaded one of the mp3s. So that’s what our news announcers sound like to a non-native speaker of English: 1) Fast, 2) unintelligble!

Here’s one of the five phrases I’ve been rehashing for the last ten minutes: Goeie middag!
And, now, totsiens.


I was never a fan of rock. My friend has threatened to bring me to a “Slayer” concert. I couldn’t name five metal bands if my life depended on it. However… TSO was in town! They come from a heavy metal background (“Savatage”) and they’re definitely high volume rock. Boy did they bring the house down. The house was 12,000 strong this night.

Three solid hours, interspersed with a little talk, and a brief between-sets introduction of the band members. The DJ at the beginning of the show was right. This is THE BEST CHRISTMAS CONCERT of the season. Even with our nosebleed tickets, fifth row down from the back row of the Hartford Civic Center, they were awesome!.

There were strobe lights, smoke, fireworks, lasers, snow, did I mention cannons of FIRE? In many combinations thereof. And a “rocket propelled” mini stage. If I were on pharmaceuticals, the laser display alone would sent me into another dimension.  The music was great, and I could actually make out the lyrics. It was a CHRISTmas show, not just a show about Christmas.

There was a point in the “Carmina Burana” number, where he asked us to open our cell phones and wave them at him, like little glowy nightsticks. This is one show where it doesn’t hurt to be in the cheap seats. The view from above is just as spectacular as it is from the floor seats.

As an aside, as we were going into the XL center, the street musician/trumpet player outside, asked somebody who was playing inside. Upon hearing the name of the band, he asked “from Russia?” No, not from Russia, they from the good old USA. They’re a NYC based band, who took their name from the railway that joins many different areas of Europe.

Caution, the strobe effects are great, but if you’re partial to epileptic fits, I suggest you avert your eyes and just let the music pulse through you:) If you have the opportunity to see only one show this year, go see this show!!!