Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

Monthnotes for October 2017

I should be writing about October, but since the first of November has passed, I must note that it’s 16 years since I started this blog. It really doesn’t feel that long; a decade at most. I suppose it’s true what they say about time seeming to go by faster as one grows older.

Anyway, I don’t really have much to say about this anniversary other than I’m glad I picked things up again this year, even in the piecemeal fashion that I have. It’s good to carve out a space for oneself in the increasingly walled garden of the web.

On to other things. October was quiet on the work front, just the usual with some added administrivia, invoicing and doing my taxes and whatnot. Just the one film reviewed, S Craig Zahler’s intense Brawl in Cell Block 99. This guy hasn’t been able to make it to press screenings over the last few weeks for various mundane reasons.

I did, however, bookend the month with two films as part of the Light House’s Anime House strand. You can find my (very) brief thoughts on The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl and Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue on Letterboxd (or when I compile my month’s movie musings on here shortly).

Bee and I gave up on Star Trek: Discovery after episode five, or four. I don’t remember. I don’t get the point of hate-watching a series; a movie, sure, in the right context, but making a weekly appointment to watch something you know isn’t getting any better just seems masochistic. Besides, I’ve found a much more satisfying show on Netflix in the shape of Zoo, which I think I’ll write about in more depth at a later point.

What else? I’ve tweeted before about using Duolingo but haven’t gone into any detail on here. So here’s the detail. I started using the app this past summer, to learn some Japanese and re-learn French (which I did at school, and not as well as I could have… that’s another story). Just a few minutes a day, for 10XP in each. Any more than that and I knew it would become a chore. I also had a feeling that I’d pick things up easier from just a small bit of exposure each day, letting the minor repetition aid understanding and absorption. And that certainly seems to be the case.

As I write this (on the morning of 5 November) I’ve got a 167-day streak going in both (to be fair, I’ve used my credits to pay for a handful of streak freezes for those days I couldn’t find the time or the energy).

According to the app, I’m now 40% fluent in French, which is very much an overstatement. No such indication for Japanese, due to the way it’s been implemented in the app so far, though I did pick up the hiragana and katakana fairly quickly (I did use another flashcard-style app to help with that).

Could I have a conversation in both? Not quite, I don’t feel I’m at that level. The main thing is that I’m enjoying the learning process at my own pace, even adapting with my own aids when things get frustrating at times (and they do, particularly with the lengthier Japanese phrases). Please don’t consider this a review, it’s just a brief account of my own experience, but I’d recommend it to the curious.