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Argentina, Varvara, Duolingo and more

Hola! I have not had energy for blogging here, or coding very much, lately. I thought I’d drop a little note on some stuff I’ve been thinking about.


I went to Esquel! It was tremendous. This is the second time I’ve been, and the longest Helen has ever been away from her ‘ancestral home’ (almost 8 years). I’ve been thinking about the place and the people since our previous trip, so this one was quite special, not coming to it cold, but having had the time to build up anticipation.

Everything was wonderful. I got to meet some members of the family for the first time. The food was what you want it to be. I had the best beef I’ve had in my life; it gave me giggles.

We also got to take Young Griff and I think it was poignant to be there as parents. We also got to engage in some parenting heroics by taking on the 35 hour travel itinerary (Southport -> MAN -> ZRH -> GRU -> BRC -> Esquel) with an under-two. Twice in two weeks. But actually that all went fine and was way easier than I imagined. Once you’ve been travelling for more than a day, the mindset changes from “get through the flight” to “continue this journeyman existence, caught upon the wind, resting wherever it may lay us”. No-one was sick on anything, and that’s a massive win in my book.


Related: I spent the weeks before the trip making an effort to learn the language, and I’m still working on it.

Argentina is one of a few places that calls Spanish “Castellano”. The dialect still sounds like all other central-or-south-american spanish. A few notable tweaks are “Vos” instead of “Tú”, unvoiced ‘s’ in lots of places, ‘ll’ and ‘y’ both make a soft ‘zh’ sound… and some words like ‘quieres’ are smushed. Plus, vocab differences. So instead of “Quieres mantequilla?” You’d hear something like “Quere’ manteca?”.

At first I made a website based on some notes my mother-in-law gave me. Not sharing that right now. Then a cousin recommended Duolingo… I thought it wouldn’t give me a proper impression of Argentine Castellano but… turns out Duolingo is awesome. The Spanish course experience is one of their most popular, so it’s very polished, and has several unique characters with their own voice actors (and lip sync in the iOS version), each of whom have different regional accents from around the spanglophone world. It’s pretty amazing.

Now I might be going to Vietnam in the spring, so I’m trying Vietnamese on there too. The course is not so perfect. There are only two voice talents, and the font doesn’t even render vietnamese characters properly (they’re bigger than the other letters in a sentence). Still, just as a game, Duolingo is a fun way of “filling up bars” and turns out you learn a language at the same time, so… win-win.


Also exciting me is Uxn/Varvara. This is a little difficult to get into…

My understanding is that Uxn is a CPU spec and also the name for various virtual machines that emulate it on Windows/Mac/Linux/NintendoDS/Playdate/etc…

Varvara is the computer userland that runs on that Uxn computer.

If that’s wrong, I’m sorry. Don’t tell Devine, I want him to think I’m cool.

There are lots of guides out there to writing programs in the Uxn assembly language, but not a lot of docs about using the varvara computer, so I want to step in there and put something together for newbs like me.

I wanted a clean and easy environment for messing with Uxn, so I wiped an unused laptop here and put EndeavourOS (spin of Arch Linux) on it. Naturally it’s Linux so the WiFi didn’t work properly. So now I have two problems.


Also the NFL season is ongoing and that means more fantasy footballs. I have been doing some “sports journalism” to that end, amusing and enraging my friends.

Quick note about Tapestory

I’m still thinking about this project but I ended up in a technical swamp trying to maintain unique IDs and figuring out the best data structure to use in JS, crippling my pace and spoiling the fun of the project a bit. I may still get back to it.

Thanks for reading! Bye bye now! Bye bye!