суббота, 21 марта 2015 г.

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life...

In the previous post I said that the "2nd season" would begin very soon... However, sometimes it happens that things you can't postpone or miss come one after another without any pause. Finally, the moment, when I have enough time to write, has come.

Today I'm going to present you a brief introduction on how the blog will look like in the future months and to provide this intro with an example based on the last month and a half, on the events happened during the period without blogging at all :)

New Format

First of all... oh, well, I hope you've already noticed one tiny change in the format ;) So let's go ahead!

The second idea is about periodization. I need a new one, because the standard monthly periodization has a lot of pitfalls. I don't like neither binding to the calendar (i.e. covering exactly a calendar month from its first day up to its last day with no respect to the life events in a monthly summary) nor unequal period lengths. It's difficult to cope with the first disadvantage but it is much more easier to get rid of the second one. Instead of previously used system I've decided to borrow the idea, that looks quite more logical (if we are not talking about seasons, harvest and other things like these ones), from the French Revolutionary Calendar. By the way, today the first spring month, Germinal, has started ;) And the first spring day, Primidi (day of the week), Primevère (date or, to be more precise, day of the year), is coming to its end.

Once a month (remember, saying "a month" I mean "thirty days") I will write a summary. It won't be like the previous ones and a bit later I will explain why.

A 30-day month usually divides into three 10-day weeks decades. I'm going to write something (it may be just sharing the ideas or sources full of them, telling you about approaches I apply in order to achieve some goal or asking advice about something) each decade. By means of that I try to achieve two goals simultaneously:

  • to guarantee myself regular practice in written English;
  • to make the blog a bit more entertaining because there is no secret for me that it may be boring to read here only about my achievements or failures.

Well, we have just reached the third (and the last one) concept behind the new format. Everyone who have read my blog previously will definitely agree that last monthly summaries were inadmissibly long. To make them shorter (and, what is more important for me, more quickly written) I've decided to restrict myself. Previously I've divided my activities into several contexts and had told about each of them, trying to penetrate the details thoroughly at the same time. Now I will tell only about five events/achievements/improvements or something like that, the most notable for me. The main part will be followed by some scores. Their range will change from time to time and will give some quantitative representations of my activity.

I appeal to you for feedback as usual. Both concerning the above-described format and the details of the below-written example of the future posts. Hope you realize which language is mostly appreciated here from now ;) However, comments in each language, which I have a chance to understand, are admissible.

Another kind of comments I will highly appreciate is about mistakes in my English, about how to improve some grammar constructions I use, etc. Here I can't avoid the example of bad comment: "You don't use articles properly". Yes, I guess that I've missed or mixed up some articles as usual. But pointing me where to add article or to change one will help me much more. And explaining, why I should do so, is the best thing you can do at the moment to help me.

If you have something to advise concerning the punctuation (because I don't no know anything about placing the punctuation marks except for the trivial and quite evident things), I'll be glad to listen to you, too.

Summary 0. Before

I. Top 5

5. A small injection of beauty into everyday life during the vacation

During the months after the September weekly journey to Paris I've visited some exhibition, as far as I remember, only once (moreover, that exhibition was not the one I really liked). However, the shortage of time seems to be the excuse, good enough for that. But there is no excuse if you don't take an advantage of two weeks when you dispose of enough free time to do something for which you haven't enough time before.

Last June I've praised the exhibition "Van Gogh Alive" for its unusual and, in my opinion, entertaining format. Then I also complained that such a high-tech exhibition is too rare guest in Saint Petersburg. But the popularity of the above-mentioned exhibition changed things a lot. Now the second such exhibition is opened and the next one is already announced. The current one is devoted to the paintings of the French impressionists. Personally I liked it less than the previous one and I see two reasons for that:

  • the new format may be an exciting thing only once;
  • I simply like Van Gogh's masterpieces much more than the paintings of Monet, Cézanne and others whose works are involved into the video sequence.

Nevertheless, this time I liked the first part of the exhibition (which looks exactly like the ordinary exhibition) more than last June. Exhibition creators used the concept of a time scale and turned one of the Lenexpo hall walls into a source of information which is easy and interesting to read and to interpret.

The second exhibition, I've visited, is the "Peter's Aquatory". Once again it has a lot of similarities with the one I've previously visited, this time with the "Grand Maket Rossiya". The "Peter's Aquatory" is about Saint Petersburg and its suburbs during the first half of the eighteenth century. It is even more impressive than the "Grand Maket"!
  • The amount, the variety and the complexity of details, of interactive elements which make up the exhibition is incredibly large. People of the emperor's court whirling in a dance, ship models sailing in the real water and many other things there are amazing!
  • The romance, the harmony of Saint Petersburg during its early years is much more attractive for me than the generalized image of our multicultural country which I am suggested to watch in the "Grand Maket".  
  • The exhibition employees' special uniform, a brief guided tour aroung the exposition suggested to all of the visirors support the sense of integrity.

To illustrate my words and to encourage you to visit the exhibition one day, I'll post several photos here.

The third cultural day was devoted to the cinema. The fact is that I hadn't watched any film in the cinema since the early July of 2013. To break the tendency I've watched the "Seventh Son". Well... I'll be glad to hear which idea underlies that film directed by Sergei Bodrov and the novel written by Joseph Delaney, on which the film is based, if there is one. I am not going to say anything concerning the speeches written for actors, just watch the film. Well. better to say, don't watch the it.

However, though I disliked the film, there are two things I admired.

  • To understand the first one, you have to consider the film as a sequence of snapshots. The amount of picturesque views in the "Seventh Son" is astonishing! 
  • It's ridiculous to say but the best part of the film, in my opinion, is the credits :) They are made so good like I've never seen.

4. Completely new approach to studying chess

One of the ways to master your level is to study analyses of various games proposed in the books by players much stronger than you. However, it's not easy to choose the most illustrative game and the best commentary which emphasizes the most important things which happen on the board. Sometimes the problem is solved thanks to the coach. But during the university team trainings we are currently focused on solving etudes full of tactics, so the strategy if left for self-improvement.

The source I've found is the videocourse proposed by the Argentinian Grandmaster Damian Lemos. Ten lessons, more than twenty hours of brilliantly chosen chess games provided with the narration by GM himself. By the way, Argentinian accent is so funny :) The thing I value the most about this course is that I needn't disctract from the game with anything, there is no need to move the pieces on board, no need to look into the book at one moment, at the board at another moment, etc. This is for those who are lazy value their time highly and want to concentrate in order to profit as much as it's possible. Each lesson looks like this:

I have watched three lessons so far and have revealed a bundle of great ideas to myself. And I am looking forward to the moment when I will have both enough time and energy to continue with that course.

3. Getting familiar with Haskell - the most impressive thing about the first month of the new semester

It occured so, that my acquaintance with that pure functional programming language happened almost simultaneously in the Computer Science Center and in the university. Two courses differ a lot: the first one devotes a lot of time to the theory (and was started by studying lambda calculus for quite a lot of time), while the second one is concentrated only on practice. Both the order in which we are familiarized with different sides of the language and the extent to which we are plunging in the depths of each aspect isn't the same for the two courses as well. And that makes the things more interesting and more useful because the courses simply supplement each other. I cannot say that everything is easy and clear for me now but I also cannot avoid admitting that I like diving into that new (for me) area very much! And I'm sure things are going to be more and more interesting with each lesson, with each attempt to code something new.

2. The first book read in French

To be honest, not in pure language, but using Frank's method. Written French (especially, the language one may face in literature) has a lot of differences from the verbal and is much more difficult to understand, so that was the only possible starting step. By the way, "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry became the first book I've read using the method proposed by Ilya Frank. I liked the method very much (and now I've already read the first third of the second book (rereading "the first third of the second" I guess it cannot be that the last sentence is grammatically correct but I hope you got the idea...)). The only pitfall I see in it is that the reader doesn't pay a lot of attention to grammar (as well as everyone do when reading any fictional text in any language) so one cannot hope to improve any skill except reading in such way. However, it sounds quite reasonable that performing the action X improves only how do you perform the action X.

Before switching to the leader of this list I should devote some sentences to the above-mentioned book. Just a rhethorical question: when have you read "The Little Prince" the last time? For most, I think, the answer will be somewhere between the primary school and the early years of the secondary school. It had been like that for me before February. Everyone will state that Exupéry's work is a good fairy-tale for children. I completely agree with such a point. But don't stop with that! Open the book now, start reading and you will see an enormous variety of meanings one simply cannot notice during the happy years of childhood. And I'm talking not about understanding "what did the author mean", not about the things pupils discuss during the school literature classes. I'm about your own notion of life, about the joining detail you may add to it, and about the amazing source for reflection. Experience and attention (and reading in foreign language helped to pay much more attention than "running" through the book written in Russian) - these are two keys to the hidden world of the fantastic masterpiece of world-famous French author and aviator. And maybe not to the most inner one? Maybe after ten years or so I will open this book, suddenly reincarnated for me among the favorite ones, and will see another layer of undertanding and another world currently still concealed from me?

1. Comprehending for which purpose do the vacation exist

The name of this section is a kind of self-irony while the content is much more serious.

The last vacation helped me to perceive much more than usually the significance of meetings with my friends. There is not a lot of people who I can see often. Nevertheless, I am lucky to say that there is much more those who I wish to see. The moments when you find the time and the place to meet these people, who signify something essential for you, who played, or plays, or, you hope, will play an important role in your life, are the ones you should treasure the most.

No matter when I've seen the person last time, a year and a half or "only" two months ago, I feel happy to see him or her once again, happy to start with a simple question "How are you?" and to proceed to the exciting talk, to interchange experience and emotions, to understand once again how lucky I am to be familiar with my interlocutor (by the way, do you know the female form of that word? ;) ).

It is at the same time a great fortune and a great regret for me to admit that there are still those whom I haven't seen for a long time. It's fortune that they exist, it's regret that I haven't seen them for so long. And no matter what is the reason for that, issues with finding the appropriate time or even the frontiers which separate us from each other, I see, let's call it so, the goal, the one among the most important ones to avoid the obstacle for our meeting one day.

II. Scores part

Some weeks ago I've come up with an idea of how to replace the dull sheets with everyday scores for each context, ticks and crosses for each activity, etc. Let's call this concept "a strike". In the terms of previously published sheets the strike is a subrow full of green ticks. In the terms of the words everyone can understand, strike of power X it is the situation when I devote myself to some activity on a regular basis during X days. I think this criterion will justify my hopes because of the two following advantages:

  • firstly, I will write only about positive results which is important from the psychological point of view;
  • secondly, to have something significant to share with you I will need to perform some action each day. And performing anything on a regular basis leads to the progress and forms a habit. 

As an example I should say that I have been watching Damian Lemos's chess course on the daily basis during as much as ten days. These ten evenings form the most impressive "strike" for the period I consider in that post.

Also it's time to return to one almost forgotten tradition. At the end of each of the first posts I indicated how much time I have spent writing the post. Afterwards I've given that tradition up, partly in order not to horrify you by the enormous amounts of time. However, now the significance of such measurements increases a lot: it is essential to learn to express my ideas in English quite fast. For today I have no choice but to admit that almost 8 hours for such a post isn't fast at all. However, the future posts will be definitely shorter (and sometimes much shorter), and that is also the way of coping with the time distribution problems ;)

Another indicator of language level is the number of times I looked into the dictionary during the creation of the post. I decided to provide two numbers here: the first one is the number of times I've looked into the dictionary to assure that I'm right, the second one - the number of times I've consulted with the dictionary because no appropriate word came to my mind or because I wanted to verify that I'm right and, in fact, occured to be wrong. For today's post the numbers are surprisingly huge 38 and 32, respectively.

The above numbers show well that there is a vast space for improvement. Maybe, I'd prefer it to be not as vast but it is like that so far :)

Hope you haven't simply scrolled till that line but have read, at least, something ;)

Till the end of the first decade, my friends!

2 комментария:

  1. Hi, Ilya!

    Here are my suggestions about grammar in this post:

    > I don't like neither binding to the calendar (i.e. covering exactly a calendar month from its first day up to its last day with no respect to the life events in a monthly summary) nor unequal period lengths.
    Double negative. I'd suggest "I like neither binding, nor having unequal".

    > because I don't no know anything about placing the punctuation marks
    Looks like mistype. 'I don't know anything' or (which I would prefer) 'I know nothing about'.
    Also I like 'about punctuation' more than 'placing the punctuation marks'

    > it may be boring to read here only about my achievements or failures.
    read here about my achievements or failures _only_ (in the end, I guess)

    > visited some exhibition, as far as I remember, only once
    I rarely hear such splitting in English, which is acceptable in Russian.
    "visited an exhibition only once, as far as I can remember"?

    > The fact is that I hadn't watched any film in the cinema since the early July of 2013.
    I don't see a reason for Past Perfect here - you're talking about one fact (which is not referred to any other event in your past). My suggestion: Past Simple or Present Perfect (like "I haven't went to cinema since July of 2013").

    > second one is concentrated only on practice.
    Same thing with 'only': I'd suggest placing it in the end of sentence.
    Of course, I can be wrong here and your placement can also be acceptable =)

    1. Hi Egor,

      Thanks a lot for the attentive reading and for such great recommendations concerning grammar!

      I'm a bit surprised that there isn't any more crucial mistake than the ones you've pointed (and now I at least have a solid reason to hope that the things are not bad).

      Concerning the choice of Past Perfect: I wrote this way because I was keeping in my mind that I was speaking about the visit to the cinema which also occured in the past but later than July of 2013. However, I understand that since I haven't mentioned it in that sentence, there is no need to make the things here more complicated, so I completely agree with you.