So as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been teaching myself Esperanto using Duolingo. It’s quick and fairly easy, something I do every day for around 15 minutes at least.

I really really like Duolingo. It’s free to use, unless you opt in for the pro version. I never realized before that it was a sort of open source language school. So much of their content is free.

Yes, they are a private company. But they’re clearly doing good in the world.

I know that in the month or so I’ve been actively using it, I am definitely learning. I’m able to read and write on a very rudimentary level in Esprinto already.

I first got the app a couple of years ago to try to learn Spanish. An ex of mine was married to a man who mostly spoke Spanish. I thought it would be a good idea for me to learn it too. That went by the wayside, but I still had the app and my account when I got bit by this new bug .

So about that goofy post title. For the most part I find the way Duolingo teaches me to be really smart, and on the nose. Instead of drilling grammar rules into me, it teaches me words and simple phrases.

Every once in a while though the app really surprises me, in a couple of ways. Sometimes the example Frases it wants me to translate are really odd, or are wonderfully inclusive and progressive. Just recently I translated a bunch of sentences about Adam and his husband, and Sophia and her two boyfriends.

One of the ways it teaches you is by having you select potential words for a phrase out of a pool of choices. Whenever I do this is zero in quickly on what I think are the correct terms. Sometimes after I’m done I take a look at the words that are left in the pool.

More often than not what’s left over is completely ridiculous.

Just now, laying in bed, I was taking a lesson where the phrase was: La edzino de mia frato estas mia bofratino. That is, My brother’s wife is my sister-in-law.

What was left over? You guessed it: sweet beef money niece.

AuthorMako Allen

I love to laugh.  Two things gave me the giggles yesterday.

First, I went out to lunch with some co-workers, to a dumpling restaurant.  The garbage can at the restaurant had a little OCD labelling that made me snicker.

"Trash... Also Trash"

"Trash... Also Trash"

Now that was surely accidental humor.

But later in the day, some friends of mine on the podcast slack introduced me to some intentional humor, a tumblr blog called LiarTownUSA.  LiarTown is the often NSFW creation of humorist graphic designer Sean Tejaratchi.

I laughed myself into a fit last night over some of the stuff on there.  For example:

"Confusing Premise" porn magazine cover, featuring a man watching another man forced to look at a painting of two nuns kissing, by another woman.  What fetish is this exactly?

"Confusing Premise" porn magazine cover, featuring a man watching another man forced to look at a painting of two nuns kissing, by another woman.  What fetish is this exactly?

Then there's this little gem:

"The What...How.. Wonder Book of HORSECRIME."  Ridiculous.  Amazing.

"The What...How.. Wonder Book of HORSECRIME."  Ridiculous.  Amazing.

But the thing that started this whole thing, that got folks on the slack talking about the site, was the movie poster for The Legend of Diaper Horse.  No, I'm not kidding.

So silly.  It's rapidly become my favorite tumblr.  

AuthorMako Allen
Categories365 Gratitude

So here's a funny thing.

As I'm sure you know, both of my books, and the majority of short stories I've ever written take place in a town called Littleton.

One of the weirder things about that is that I never say exactly where that is.  

That's on purpose.  There are actually many different places called Littleton across the United States, and even one in England.  

What I do when I write is intentionally blur details of all of them together into a sort of idealized Littleton.  I'll pull street names from the one in West Virginia, and the name of a business or park from the one in Colorado.  Plus of course the magical bonding glue of just Outright Making Shit Up™.  

Well, there's one of these Littletons (Littletonae?) in North Carolina.

And, on a goof, I decided to drive through it on my way home on Sunday.  I even stopped in the Hardee's there for a bite to eat on my way.

Pulling into town was decidedly weird and sort of magical.  

I kind of knew the place, and kind of didn't.  At the Hardee's I asked the cashier if there was a good place to get a picture of the town sign, and we struck up a little conversation about it.

She was downright folksy and countrified, and politely curious.  After she told me which way to go, she asked me, "Why are you so interested in that, sugar?"

"Well," I said, "I'll tell you a secret.  I'm an author."

"Ohhh," she said, nodding as if she understood.

"And I wrote a book that's kind of all about this town, and kind of not."

"Really?" she asked.  "What's the name of your book, honey?"

"Oh I'll tell you," I said, "but you should know, it's erotica, and it's rather a filthy book."

"Now you just have to tell me," she said, grinning.

So I did.  Like I said, magical.




AuthorMako Allen
Categories365 Gratitude

Saturday was quite a day.  It was like several days combined into one.

First, there was how it started.  I woke up at three am.  This was so I could get to the airport by five for my 6 am flight.

That was the plan anyhow.  

On my way to the airport, I missed my exit, and then when I finally got there, there were two police cars blocking the only entrance to terminal A's garage, having pulled over another car in front of it.  I ended up getting routed through the "rental cars only" parking lot, which as the sign said, was only for rental cars.  So, I had to explain myself, and then get allowed to go through it, and out.  After which I drove around the airport, back towards the blocked garage to my terminal, and then parked one terminal over.  This was around 5:00am.  Not good.  I park, grab my suitcase, and head for the bottom level of the garage to wait for the airport shuttle.

And waited.  

After a bit, I realized this wasn't going to work.  So I hopped on the elevator, took the walkway across to terminal B, and then proceeded to run like hell across the terminal, wearing my heavy backpack, dragging my heavy suitcase, all the way to the connecting passage to terminal A.  I do this, working myself up into a huge sweat, and come pounding up to the check-in kiosks.  A woman sees me coming, and cooly steps in front of me, taking the kiosk I'm aiming for, giving me a look and saying, "Well, I'm taking it."

Fine I think, and move to another.  Whatever.  I scan the boarding pass on my phone and the terminal lights up, and makes these awful loud WHOOP WHOOP noises, alerting me that I'm a late check-in, that my bag will probably NOT make it to my destination on time, that I have poor judgment, and probably enjoy Nickelback albums.  (Okay, not that last part.)

The woman who cut me off is at the kiosk next to me, and gets visibly pale, realizing that she has contributed to this, and goes to apologize to me.  I wave her off, not really having time to listen to her apology.  I put not one, but two of the big yellow "LATE CHECKIN" tags on my bag.

The nice folks at the counter take my bag, and assure me they'll do my best, and tell me to head to the gate.

And my bag did in fact, make it there.  

The rest of the day was way more restful, but equally jam packed. 

Squee was there to pick me up, and we hugged, kissed, and generally made our way to the car very slowly, just happy to be with one another.  We spent several hours of blissfully, and well-needed alone time together, before going to pick up the kids from various places.  Once the five of us were all successfully reunited we headed to a Korean grocery store called H-Mart.  We were there to pick up treats before our next stop.

That grocery store was amazing.  It was filled with all sorts of exotic goodies, including green tea kit-kat candy bars.  (They're amazing.)  I have had these previously, sent to us by a relative of mine from Japan.  I didn't think you could get them here in the US!  And the store had all these little "mini-stores" in it too. It was like a grocery mall.  One of the stores, LG Beauty and Health had a display of products that accurately sums up my feelings about this whirlwind of a day.

"Whoo" products.  Whoo day!

"Whoo" products.  Whoo day!

Once we had bought the sufficient amount of kit-kats, pop-rocks, and chapaghetti, we headed to our next stop, a nearby Korean Spa called King Spa.  It was wonderful.  Squee and her daughters headed one way, and her son and I headed the other.  He didn't opt for all the hot-tub stuff, but headed right out to the main area.  

I did though.  I dipped myself in scalding hot water, and then freezing cold water.  It was bracing.  I think I made that "whoo" sound a few times.  I also struck up some nice conversations with random strangers.  

One of those conversations with one of those strangers was even about how I was in town visiting my girlfriend, and how we were poly, and isn't that wonderful.  I told him about the awesome Christopher Ryan book Sex at Dawn, all about polyamory.  It was all pleasant and nice until it suddenly got super creepy.  As I go to get out of the hot tub, the guy says, "That's so much good information, you should e-mail me it all.  I'll give you my address."  "I'd be happy to give you the name of the book again, sure," I said noncommittally, as my radar started going off.  "But I've got to go meet my girlfriend and the family now."

"Oh," he said, "they're here?  I'm very social, we should hang out sometime."  

"Gotta go," I said.  In case you were wondering, that's my polite way of saying, "Please don't skin me alive and turn me into a sandwich, kthxbai!"

I get my spa-pajamas on, and beat it out of there.

Eventually I get back with the rest of the family, and we have an amazing time.  We go in various sauna rooms together.  The girls particularly liked the ice room, which was black-lit, making our teeth and toenails glow.  Squee and I liked the infra-red room where you lay on these mats under infra-red lights, which are in a sort of cubby hole built into and under the wall.  It felt like being on a spaceship.

Then we all had an amazingly good dinner there.  (mmm, galbi.)  

After that, we found a place to sit and play cards, Crazy Eights, specifically.

This was actually the highlight of my entire day.  I had left my phone behind in the locker room, and I'll admit, I'm fairly addicted to it.  But I wasn't missing it at all.  Squee, the kids, and I had a fantastic time sitting there, playing, goofing around, and just enjoying one another's company.  It was simple.  It was easy.  It was wonderful.  

We played for a while, and then moved on to check out the rest of the place.  Too late for my own good, I find their movie room, with these big squishy, body-eating chairs you can lay in and watch movies on a big screen.  Next time we go to King Spa, I'm totally doing that.

Just as we were getting ready to go get dressed, Creepy Hot Tub Guy walks up to me and hands me his business card, right as Squee's youngest and I are sitting waiting for everyone else in the family.  

I take the card, he waves and leaves, and she looks at me and says, "Who was that Mako?"  I say he was some guy from the hot tubs, and show her the card, and we both sort of laugh.  

Later, I show the card to Squee and tell her the story, and she laughs, as she tells me to make sure to throw that thing away, and not email him.

Both of which I did.

Eventually, we went home, and everyone went to bed, including me.

For which, after such a jam-packed day, I was very, very grateful.

AuthorMako Allen
Categories365 Gratitude