Saturday, March 21, 2009

With the Body of a Cat and the Face of a Cat

A small portrait of my cat, Abraham Lincoln, completed in about an hour methinks. Watercolors on Strathmore bristol... which after being spoiled with Fabriano Artistico 300 lb hot press for four years, is not a very good paper to paint on. The creepy eye? He's blind in that one. Has nine nipples too and a very recent chip in his ear. Despite what may be interpreted as complete and utter freakiness, Abe is the best cat I've ever owned.

Here's an actual picture.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Some Stuff About The Russian Language

If you are acquainted with me in the world outside the internets, you're most likely aware that I've been teaching myself Russian in the past couple months. It's been fairly slow progress, considering I just do it whenever I feel so inclined, but I'm steadily picking things up and I wanted to share a few fantastic resources. is a fantastic site and by far my favorite learning resource. If you're fortunate enough to have a subscription you get a bunch of goodies like word for word PDFs of all the lessons, flashcards... and other things. I do not have a subscription, but from the site you can mark the lessons you've completed and you do get access to the lessons. Of course, I'm also subscribed to the podcast on iTunes so I can listen to it whenever I need. Erik and Anna are awesome hosts, and my general tactic is to go through a podcast and take notes, repeating stuff when I need to. They also provide cultural insights and tips. By far, my most relied upon source. is really good about sitting you down and explaining to you all the messy stuff that has to do with conjugation and grammar. I've found this to be really helpful because sometimes it's a little difficult if I'm just being told this stuff verbally. It also gives you the alphabet straight up, and more than anything I recommend learning the alphabet before you do anything else. Once you understand the alphabet, you can pretty much read any Russian word out loud. The Cyrillic alphabet isn't all about tricks and things like silent k's like the English language. Oh, got off track. Anyways, good source. Also they have bits of audio to help you with pronunciation.
has a section with Russian flashcards. It's rubbish for learning pronunciation, but good for giving you some basics, and helping you with reading comprehension. When I wanted to know the words for the days of the week, this place helped. ...Yep.

Rosetta Stone is... well, I'm in the begining stages of trying it and thus far I've had to say the word 'Devotchka' upwards of 70 times. Until further notice I'm not going to say it's worth the money. It throws conjugation at you, and because of the 'immersion' aspect of the program nothing is really explained. If I had not been aware of both the Cryillic alphabet and the fact that Russian conjugation is a bitch, I'd have been really confused. BUT, it is kind of fun, and a little addictive, and I like it when I do finally grasp something. I think later lessons that don't treat me like I'm a 2nd grader will prove to show me that the program really does have reason to cost $550 for all three language levels.

So, add in the Collins Gem Russian Dictionary and The Dictionary of Russian Obscenities and a Ukranian friend you force to help you when you don't know how to pronounce something, and you essentially have a lot of really strong elements to teach yourself Russian.

I'm doing pretty good so far and I've not lost my motivation yet so here I go, once again plunging myself into something I may never wind up using. ...Except if I wind up going to Ukraine. Who knows.

Пока пока!