German Learning Adventures

The Migros Klubschule thinks I am at the beginning of C1 (which is the “advanced” level). Which is very flattering — but also does not seem entirely accurate. On May 30th, I did another “Einstufungstest” (placement test) and it came back as end of B1/beginning of B2. So it’s a big jump/improvement in 3 months, and that’s why I’m wondering whether I have not noticed a big improvement, or the results are off.

Estimating the effort: I did 9 hours of private lessons in the past 3 months, somewhere between 5 and 10 hours of homework (grammar/writing), one movie entirely in German, more listening and speaking than usual (thanks to MuKi Treff meetings and travel during school holidays) — let’s say 5 hours, about the same amount of reading (childcare and financial paperwork). So that’s at least 25 (fairly intensive) hours, which is almost equivalent to a semester of studying, if I was attending a course at school.

Cool, so it seems like there’s been progress and all that chipping away at German has been adding up. The exact “level” does not matter as much — keeping it up does!


Before: B1-B2


After: C1

A Belated Musical Farewell

I left Automattic at the end of March 2016, with a short farewell note to everyone I’ve got to know and work with during my 4+ years at the company.

At the time, I attempted to write a longer, more thoughtful, farewell note, but could not. To my surprise, Automatticians wrote many sweet comments in response.

They remembered when and how we met. They wrote thankful and kind words. The fact that I was surprised and that I still can’t bring myself to re-read the comments probably says a lot about… the cultural conditioning,the imposter syndrome, my personal issues? Give me a couple of decades, and I’ll figure it out.

Since March, I have wanted to write about what WordPress community, working at Automattic, and eventually leaving, have meant to me. I am still coming up short for words, so I have a song for you instead.

Small Things

How much can I write in 5 minutes? Let’s find out.

Today’s victories: a phone call to the Zurich Social Security service, in German (victory!), my questions highlighted two actual problems that the clerk agreed with (victory!), they promised to send the correction forms (victory!), and they did 10 minutes later (victory!), and I filled them out and mailed (OK, put in the envelope to mail) that same morning (joyful celebration!).

Today’s mixed news: took Maxim to an eye specialist (the slight strabismus problem that I got concerned about some 6 months ago, rescheduled several visits, and finally made it today). Highlights: his eyes are fine, what I sometimes see as crossed eyes is an “optical effect” (in the words of the doctor) because of the wide nose, and is quite common in children and disappears with age. Lowlights: the very experienced, matron-like doctor noticed immediately that Maxim did not want to cooperate, and she was not amused. Also, a non-pretty scene walking back to the car (neither of us handled it well, I am sorry to report).

Today’s upside: I am blogging again, and look how much can actually get written in 5 minutes. I honestly thought I’d max out at 3 sentences. Wow.

Goodnight, sweethearts! See you later on the internets!

Team Global Meetup in Tokyo – Day 5

Our last full day in Tokyo. The meetup fatigue is hanging in the air. We are wrapping up the work projects, buying souvenirs, and getting ready jet back to our homes and families tomorrow.

Team Global Meetup in Tokyo – Day 4

On our 4th day in Tokyo, we took a break from work and projects and explored the urban and green parts of Shibuya. (People with wearable devices tell me we walked some 23,000 steps).

Rather than a specific site, what I liked most were the clear blue skies, bright winter sun, and crisp winter air.

Today was when I realized that my newly developed green tea addiction was getting out of hand. After consuming dozens of green tea cookies, staying up too late due to drinking green tea throughout the day, I could not finish the green tea ice cream pictured below.