Happy New Year!

And yes, except for papas a la huancaina, I cooked all of this myself, from scratch, as always. I rule. 

Competitive Babies

The fantasy I cherished of Klara and her 2-year-old cousin playing happily together while we all admire their friendship and love for each other collapsed under the weight of full-blown sibling rivalry. 

Klara always shares her toys with friends and even strange kids. But the sight of her cousin touching any of her belongings – or any of his own belongings – makes her very angry. The kids fight constantly. If one of them stands in a certain spot, the other urgently needs to stand in that same spot. And the pushing, kicking and screaming begins. How they know that the other kid is not just any kid but a relative and thus needs to be bugged and hounded is a mystery. 

So instead of admiring cute scenes of happy babies playing together, we get to run after them, trying to prevent them from gouging each other’s eyes out. After engaging in this pastime for several days, N announced he urgently wants more kids. I have no idea how he arrived at that conclusion but here you have it. 

The Last Link Encyclopedia of 2017

Shop your way to equality!

Not surprisingly, Trudeau’s approval ratings are in the toilet. 

We aren’t destroying the Earth. 

Beautiful paper dresses from a Ukrainian artist

It’s not good to laugh at dumb people but this one is irresistible.

Oh, so they’ve always been this apocalyptic. Good to know. 

I’ve got to do something about my news feed so that in the new year it brings me the kind of articles that I like and not the self-pitying garbage I see so often in it. 

I Envy the Techies

I’m reading Disrupted by Dan Lyons and loving it. He’s ridiculing the “peppy, effervescent, relentlessly positive, incredibly hubristic and overconfident attitude” at techy startups, and I feel a pang of envy. I’m in a profession where everything is great except for the environment of apocalyptic, tragic, dejected gloominess that is entirely divorced from reality. If only it got a bit more fashionable to be peppy and effervescent, I’d be very happy.


After I spent an hour and a half picking up toys, food remnants, and bits of torn tissue that three kids left created in the process of actively playing for 4 hours, N came in, looked around, and said, “Wow, the kids really changed since last year. The place is spotless! They made no mess at all. Incredible!” 

A Good Link

There is a very good article in the WSJ about the transformations in hiring practices. Once again, I want tiresomely to repeat that a political force that doesn’t center its program on the challenges and very heavy human costs of globalization creates a vacuum that will be filled by forces of enraged populism. 


Since people are asking, this is my process for learning Basque. 

The first step is to figure out how the grammar works and learn some vocabulary. I have a textbook, and I’m working with the textbook, going through it in a very slow way. I’m not good with memorization but here there’s no way around it. But hey, it’s the best prophylaxis against Alzheimer’s.

After I get the basics down, I want to find a native speaker who’ll help me practice conversation on Skype. But before I get there, I need to be capable of conversation. 

The good thing is that I’m teaching languages and I’ve learned a bunch of them already, so I know what works for me and how I learn. 

But please don’t expect miracles any time soon because there is so much memorization involved, and I’m not good with that at all. 


The problem with learning a non-Indo-European language is that you can’t deduce anything from the previous knowledge. Everything has to be learned from scratch. Everything is entirely counterintuitive.

But hey, it’s good to be learning a new and a difficult language because I will be more understanding and patient with my students. It’s useful to remember how it feels to be completely done in by a language you are learning.

The Holidays Begin

For me, the holiday season is just beginning. Relatives are flying in today, gifts are slowly mounting under the tree, I’ve got a mountain of food to cook. I swear, though, I’d rather cook 5 dinners for eleven hungry revelers than wrap a single gift. I stink at wrapping beyond what words can describe.

Klara went to daycare today in her Halloween costume because the costume is very warm, and it’s -16°C here, which is impossible to believe. I’m still coming out of the house barefoot and in my summer dress, but I’m obviously not trying to get Klara to want to imitate me.