Got myself a skipping rope as a means of doing some cardio exercise. It’s a good way of wearing me out without having to travel distances unlike jogging. This means I can stop any time and not be worried about inclement weather.
I have never jumped ropes when I was a child, so it’s like learning how to ride a bike in some sense - “rope down, jump up, rope down, jump up…". There are no shortcuts when trying to acquire spatial-memory… just because you know what to do, doesn’t mean your body is able to automatically translate into a smooth movement straight away.
But I can feel being a little more skilled each day, progressing from barely able to do 10 straight jumps, to 20, 40, 50, 80 variously. Gains aren’t linear either - ever since recording my single-best streak of 150 jumps, I have yet to match that record for the week.
Making Bao instead of bread
So instead of having a subsequent experiment with making bread, I decided to try making Baos instead. Thinking that since heating in an oven is subjected to temperature variations, I guess steaming would lead to a more consistent and hopefully, a better outcome?
Wrong. The Baos did come out looking like Baos, tasted like Baos, but with one difference - they weren’t fluffy but rather a little more spongy and chewy compared to the ones that were gotten from shops.
I’m still not entirely sure where I went wrong here, will be experimenting with a few more variables:
- Knead them a little more;
- Proofing them longer outside the fridge;
- Adding sodium bicarbonate
What the purpose of kneading a dough? Even after talking to hobbyist baking friends, I don’t think I had a clear answer. Kneading is inherently mess-prone and a troublesome process that takes up time, space, tools and cleaning effort. Personally, that is the most undesirable part of dealing with dough that I remain quite uncommitted in doing.
Proofing it more and adding sodium bicarbonate might lead to further air pockets developing. I am thinking that may be enough for the dough to attain a fluffier texture. Maybe it might yield to better results, but I don’t know.
But given my current track record of 0/2 successes vs. time spent, the tradeoff seemed clear - why bother? It so much easier just to buy it from the shops. Think it would be better to stop and leave it for another time instead.
Duolingo - Day 50
I’m on my 50-day streak of learning Spanish. It is still surprising that the app has enabled me not to “break the chain”1 for this long. In terms of language capability, while I feel a little more accomplished within the artificial constraints of the Duolingo environment, once Womanfriend throws me a few simple conversation phrases, what I think I know immediately becomes unretrievable as there’s way much more words, known and unknown, that I have to go through my head, while struggling to actively pay attention to what is said to me.
While I don’t discount Duolingo’s utility, I’m coming to a conclusion that learning a language takes more than just a dilligent daily half-hour of practice in front of a computer.
Over time, I am getting a little better, but recent gains appears to be almost matched with losses; personally, the first 100 words had been easy enough to acquire without forgetting much, but moving towards my first 1000 words, that proved more challenging.
Also, recall appears to be easier only within the artificial constructs of Duolingo; when the same words were applied by Womanfriend just a couple of days after in ad-hoc conversations, it becomes really difficult to hold the sentence in my mind, match the meanings with words known, then pick from my set of limited grammar to respond. On top of that, there’s still the issue of differences in pronunciation and word use between Orthodox vs. Latin-American Spanish.
Don’t believe it?
Try saying ‘Mi carro grande’ to your Spanish friends, and see what they think you’re trying to say ;)
Attributed to Jerry Seinfield ↩︎