I'm still studying
French every day, but since you can't study French all the time,
I needed another hobby. So now I'm learning Norwegian.
We're going to Norway this summer to visit some of my relatives, and I
thought it would be fun and useful to learn some of the language first (even
though Norway has a very high level of English proficiency). Since Assimil's
French book + audio set worked so well for me, I looked for a similar course
for Norwegian. Assimil doesn't have any English-to-Norwegian books, and the
comparable ones I found from other publishers were extremely expensive, so I
ended up buying Assimil's Le
Norvégien… because why not study both languages at once? Anyway,
I'm now having fun learning a new language that's quite different from French,
though I'm still stuggling with the pronunciation.
After Norway we will continue on to Paris. Unlike our last trip to Europe,
this time we are bringing Nora along. She started kindergarten this year and
is working very hard at learning to read; we hope that'll help occupy her on
the trans-Atlantic flights!
Sun, Jan. 27th, 2013, 12:24 am
I haven't really posted in a while, so I'm going to try to write some catch-up posts about stuff that happened over the past year. First up: if you have talked to me at all recently, I've probably mentioned my new-found obsession with the French language.
It started when Sarah and I planned a trip to Paris last spring to celebrate our tenth anniversary, leaving the kid with grandparents for the week. The trip itself was great; along with the museums and dining and shopping, we also managed to stop by Mozilla's Paris office, and spend an evening with my old teammate Vivien and his lovely girlfriend Clarista.
I had started studying French a few months earlier in preparation, using Assimil and other resources. By the time of the trip I could read comfortably and could speak well enough to communicate, though my aural comprehension was exttremely weak. But I had so much fun learning that I've kept at it ever since: reading books and newspapers to build my vocabulary, using Anki to retain it, listening to Coffee Break French and Le journal en français facile to improve my listening skills, and occasionally chatting on Verbling to practice conversation. I'm pretty happy with my progress over the last year; I have a long way to go still but I'm getting closer to reading at an adult level and I am almost comfortable having simple conversations. :)
I've also been hanging out in the MozFR IRC channel and sometimes helping out with French-to-English translations. Recently Clarista honored both Sarah and me with posts on the Bonjour Mozilla blog that she runs.
Like the baritone ukulele that I picked up the previous year [oops, it looks like I never wrote about that either... I've been delinquent longer than I thought!], I like French because it's challenging and rewarding, and also completely unrelated to any of the stuff I usually do. Unlike the ukulele which I mostly just like to strum for my own amusement, I actually want to get good enough at French to put it to real use, so I'm spending quite a bit more time on it.
Sun, May. 20th, 2012, 10:20 pm
For the past six months or so, Nora has been wanting to make money selling lemonade. I managed to convince her that not many people would buy lemonade in December in Seattle. But I told her that in the summer she could probably sell quite a lot if she set up a stand at my parents' house on a heavily trafficked street near the beach.
Last weekend was hot and sunny and my parents were holding a yard sale as part of West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day. Perfect! The day before the sale, Nora made signs, bought lemons and carried them home from the produce stand, juiced all of them, and helped me boil sugar and water. Sarah baked some cookies for her to sell too. We set out the next morning with our lemon juice, sugar syrup, ice, cooler, cups, signs, cookies, and red wagon. (She insisted on the wagon because she'd seen some neighborhood kids selling lemonade out of a wagon last summer.)
There were plenty of people out in the neighborhood, and Nora greeted everyone who passed by with an eager "Want to buy some lemonade and cookies?" She kept at it for several hours, stopping only when we were out of several supplies and I told her we needed to get home. Her share of the profit was about $15 (net of lemons and after sharing the cookie revenue with Sarah, the baker) which represents several months' allowance for her. Not bad for a five-year-old, I think!
Mon, Jan. 2nd, 2012, 01:25 am
As we start to think about school choice, I find it helpful to remind myself that (a) decisions we make now can still be changed later, and (b) real learning is not confined to or limited by the classroom.
Eleanor enjoys seeing the moon (a rare treat for a girl in cloudy Seattle, with
an early bedtime to boot), so when I glimpsed a third-quarter moon through the
skylight last night, I pointed it out to her, then pointed our telescope through the skylight for
a better view. I had trouble explaining what craters were, so I grabbed a
nearby tablet (since I started doing mobile development, they are lying around
everywhere) and showed her some pictures from the lunar surface. She was
disappointed the mountains weren't like the ones in Wallace and
Next she wanted to see stars, so we went out on the back deck with a
warm blanket. The moon and the city lights and the house blocked out a lot,
but we did see a number of stars, plus Jupiter rising in the east. (Seeing
Jupiter's Galilean moons through the scope was especially interesting to me
because I'm in the middle of Galileo's
Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson, which is set partly during the life of
Galileo Galilei and partly on the moons themselves.) We stayed up past
Eleanor's bed time, and I tried to answer her questions about planets and
moons and stars and scientists. We used Google Sky Map to identify some of the things we'd seen outside.
Being around a five-year-old makes me remember how intense feelings and
experiences were at that age. It's a lot of pressure for a parent, because
every offer you make, or wish that you fulfill or deny, can lead to either
thrills of pleasure or depths of disappointment. I don't have the energy to
keep up with even half of what Eleanor wants to do, so I just work at
finding enough I can manage. Yesterday she got to spend several
hours playing with her best friend from last year's preschool class, which was
perfect, Those two girls could keep up with each other so much better than I
could hope to. Socializing is also hard work for Eleanor, though, and today
she didn't seem to mind having a boring day at home.
Sun, Nov. 6th, 2011, 09:32 pm
At work we're in the process of rewriting Firefox for
Java frameworks. This is looking like a very good move technically, but on a
personal level it sort of cast me adrift. I've been working on the XUL
front-end code for almost two years, and suddenly everything I've done or was
about to do is living in a codebase that's soon to be abandoned.
Most of the team has jumped straight into the new front-end code, but I've had
trouble doing that, partly because I had some loose ends to wrap up in the old
code so we can ship the next few updates, and also because I was tired
out from our last big project
and didn't have the energy to jump right into another one. So I spent a
couple weeks doing simple janitorial work like bug-fixing and
This gave me some extra mental energy for my free-time projects like the
AI class, and learning enough LLVM to
contribute some patches to the Rust
I'm glad that I've learned to recognize swings in my productivity cycle.
Instead of denial and procrastination during the low-motivation periods, now I
try to accept them and use them to regroup. I think my anti-burnout strategy
worked this time, since I now have some ideas of new projects I'm excited to
try in the new codebase. If I'm lucky, that means I'm back on the upward
swing of a new cycle.
A few months ago we stayed at a small bed-and-breakfast while visiting family in Portland, Oregon. Two of our fellow guests were a couple with their own self-published comic book imprint. I had fun talking to them about their work, especially since I've been enjoying DMZ which is very similar to their latest title American Terrorist. (As a bonus, our kids are the same ages and managed to entertain each other nicely for part of our trip.) If you want to check out their work, you get the first issue for free as a PDF or from WOWIO or Comixology. The other issues are $1 each.
In other "self-published books by people I'm vaguely acquainted with" news, David D. Friedman (known to many of you as "patrissimo's dad") has published his second fantasy novel for the Kindle, and his medieval cookbook through Amazon's print-on-demand service. I've read and enjoyed both of his novels and several of his economics books; I haven't looked at the cookbook yet. (He also wrote a bit about the writing process and about self-publishing, if you want the behind-the-scenes view.)
I've done working from home
; I've done coworking
; I've done the Mozilla Summit
and soon I'll have my first work week
. But this week I'm trying something different.
We're visiting my wife's parents in Port Townsend, WA for several days. Instead of taking vacation time, I'm working from their house this week. Since I already work remotely, my team will barely notice the difference. Meanwhile it will be a nice long visit for Sarah and her family, and I get to spend time with them in the mornings/evenings/mealtimes/weekend.
This has got me thinking about other new possibilities for nomadic working. It also seems relevant to this article on vacations and happiness research
which says, "The most effective way to inoculate a vacationer against the deadening power of adaptation, however, may be the most counterintuitive — to break it up, to interrupt it with real life."
Sun, Apr. 4th, 2010, 06:22 pm
I've just returned from a busy week-long trip visiting family on the East coast. Now I'm ready to start my second week of work for Mozilla.
I stayed home for all my first week, to minimize potential hassles or distractions. It sure is nice and productive working alone in a quiet office for long periods, and going downstairs for meals and snacks with my family. But tomorrow for a change of scene I will be at StartPad
at 1st & Columbia downtown (near Pioneer Square). If you're in the area and want to share lunch or coffee, email/IM/call/text me.
In the future I'll post to Twitter
(which auto-updates Buzz
and Facebook) on the days I'm downtown. You can follow me on any of those sites (or subscribe to Planet Matt
) if you want to know when I'll be around.
- Eleanor (after bed time):
- Why is the sky not dark?
- Now that it's spring, the days are longer. The sun is just starting to set.
- Eleanor (cheerfully):
- Daddy, can't sleep when the sky's not dark!