Learning Spanish With Franny’s Feet – A Little Girl Who Has A Weird Thing For Shoes

About 2 years ago, I signed up for Duolingo.

Like most people, I picked a language and promptly dropped it.

There went those dreams of speaking Spanish.  Now, I have always said “If you can’t learn Spanish in South Florida, you aren’t trying hard enough”, so I eventually went back to it.

Duolingo will teach you the language you select in a game format.  You answer simple questions, get clues, and have a goal.  By the time you finished today, you have learned a little of your selected language, and can come back tomorrow to do it again.  I selected a low goal because I didn’t want to be playing games all day, even if it did help me get better at my goal of speaking Spanish.

According to Duolingo, I am currently 50% fluent in Spanish.  I’m finding that I’m picking up snippets of conversation in public, getting some of the words in songs, and even able to watch TV in Spanish with the Spanish Closed Captioning Turned on.

I guess I’m about a year and a half old again.  When I watch Sesame Street, make that Plaza Sesamo, I can follow it just about completely.  Simple Spanish sentences help me learn too, not just your toddlers and preschool kids.

I branched into watching some Spanish language TV when I realized that listening to the talk shows was quite a bit too advanced.  Plaza Sesamo was a good choice and it emboldened me to instead look into something geared to a slightly older audience.


I was channel surfing after taking Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) out for his romp around the yard one morning.  There is a small TV in the back room and I was looking at the over the air channels.  I stumbled onto a little girl with a high squeaky voice speaking to me in Spanish about some adventures she was on.

Mind you that wasn’t what my mind was translating.  I did say I was only 50% fluent in Spanish, right?

The show called Franny’s Feet was about a little girl named Franny.  She lived in a shoe repair shop with her grandfather.

Great!  Just up my alley!  She spoke slowly and clearly, so did abuelo or grandfather, and I could follow along.

But it got weird.

She would be chatting until the doorbell rang and in came a client.  They would invariably drop off some old shoes to be repaired.  I knew they were old because they always were discolored and had holes in the soles. 

Normal for a cobbler’s shop, but I did say it got weird.

Franny’s job was to put the shoes away in a box to be worked on later.  That’s pretty easy except next she’d get this weird shoe fetish thing going on.  She’d set the stranger’s ratty shoes on the ground and then …

Step inside the shoes.

That’s pretty gross to me, an adult who didn’t really completely understand the action.  It must have been pretty gross to her because at this point she’d start to hallucinate.

The screen would spin around and she’d fall through a wormhole and appear in a magical world.

I did say that it was a wormhole.  There must have been something truly strange in those shoes the client brought in. 

She would have adventures with cartoon animals that all talked and told a story.  There was a light plot, after all it was about teaching children how to speak in which ever language it was dubbed in – It originally was an English Language cartoon from Canada.

At the end, everything was wrapped up in a nice bow.  The goats were reunited with their mom, the flamingoes became friends with the peacock and peahen, and there’s one about a moose I’m looking forward to seeing simply because well, this is www.ramblingmoose.com after all!

I’m thinking what ever hallucinogen was in the shoes would then wear off and she’d fall back through the wormhole to the cobbler’s shop.  Looking back inside the trippy shoes, she’d find something that came back from the other realm.  A feather or an old sweat band from the shoes would be placed in her shoe box of treasures after she put the old shoes in the work box.

It really seemed that it is like one of those old cartoons that a kid would watch and be entertained, and an adult would sit there and wonder what on earth was going on?

None the less, I haven’t grown out of the show since I can actually follow along with the dialogue.   It’s a little more advanced than Plaza Sesamo, and it’s helping me learn.

Isn’t that the point?

When I described this I was told I was reading way too much into it and got an email back with a sentence in Spanish:

a veces un cigarro es sólo un cigarro
Sometimes a Cigar is only a Cigar.

A rather famous quote from Freud.  A very nice touch by a friend.

In other words, maybe I am reading too much into the little girl’s cartoon adventures, but I will say that this weird trippy view of the children’s show is helping me stay interested enough to practice my Spanish in a safe and non-confrontational way.

We all hate confrontation.

So enjoy your cigars safe in the fact that they’re just cigars, and that the Acid Trip that the little girl is taking is all in your head. 

Meanwhile, make sure you have good clean socks.  They’re Calcetines you know!

Maya Angelou on her 70+ birthday

If you have never had the chance to read the writings of this amazing woman, Maya Angelou, I give you a task.  Go find her books and sit down in a corner.  Read them.  She’s simply an amazing writer. 

This little snippet was sent to me by local “notable” Diane.  She’s another woman whose stories I love to listen to.  I may not be able to use them all here, but that is your loss.

In April, Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah on her 70+ birthday.. Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older.

And, there on television, she said it was ‘exciting…’

Regarding body changes, she said there were many, occurring every day…..like her breasts. They seem to be in a race to see which will reach her waist, first.

The audience laughed so hard they cried. She is such a simple and honest woman, with so much wisdom in her words!

Maya Angelou said this:
‘I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.’

‘I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.’

‘I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.’

‘I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a life.’

‘I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.’

‘I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back…’

‘I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision…’

‘I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one..’

‘I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone.. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back…’

‘I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn..’

‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

How NOT to Make Espresso

After commenting on Facebook that I was “contemplating a mug of espresso”, I decided to act…

For most people who choose to make the warm beverage of choice, it is usually not a life threatening act.  In my case…  Well just judge for yourself.

It started when I was broken out of the Disco Cave.  I have been listening to Deevaradio.net all morning on the noise canceling headphones.   Just loud enough to drown out the background noise that is not canceled by the headphones, it makes for a very productive mindset.  Basically it’s just good enough that I can’t hear people in the house speaking at a normal volume from 10 feet away.  

I had been searching all morning through the job boards for Project Management and Senior positions in the Broward County Florida area and it gets tiresome.   300 pages on a Saturday, 160 every other day.  I decided I needed some of the brown life giving fluid that so enamored itself to me years ago.

Yes, Espresso.

Getting out of the big green chair, I grabbed all the equipment and laid it out on the counter.  I have a can of unopened decaf Cafe Bustelo, my own roasted Hawaiian estate grown coffee, Hazelnut simple syrup, saccharine packets, and some optional leftover from Valentine’s Day Whipped Cream. 

Going into the kitchen means that of course, everyone in the house follows.  Kevin got out there and said “I see it’s time to make Waffles”.  After a quick back and forth, we got the mix that we bought on the clearance rack at GFS, laid out 5 eggs and 1 cup of home churned butter.  The dog decided to come in and look at us with a slight tilt to her head that is leftover from the stroke. 

As I’m looking at her and back to the burners that were warming, I realized that the non stick skillet should not be on the burners since if the thing is scorched, it will kill the parrot.  Bending down, I wrench open the cabinet under the burners and set the skillet on top of the “mulch” that has grown from the collection of baking sheets and pots and pans.   Closing the cabinet, I manage to give blood to the art by scraping my elbow on the little metal doo-dad that holds the door closed too tightly.  While all of this is happening, the skillet falls on my right foot.

At this point, Kevin takes pity on me, and the skillet out of my hand and puts them on the other side of the cabinet, safely.

Step over to the sink and away from the metal mulch and begin to prep the espresso as the burner warms…

I have to open the can of Cafe Bustelo, so reaching into the Idiot Drawer to get the can opener, I’m showing that the world is not built for a man who is 6’4″ and built like a baseball player… I stick my hand on a fork that is in the drawer.   To add injury to insult to injury, I manage to stick my hand on the lid of the coffee can as I toss it into the recycling.

Yes, I can see that it will be an interesting morning…

Luckily I manage to scoop out two scoops of Decaf Cafe Bustelo into the Espresso Maker and three scoops of my Hawaiian home roasted coffee to top it off without further injury.  Screwing the water and coffee chamber onto the rest of the maker, it goes onto the now glowing red hot stove. 

Believe it or not, I didn’t burn myself!  


The espresso went on without a hitch, but espresso is always made by forcing live steam and boiling hot water under pressure through grounds.   There is a fair amount of steam, bubbling, and aroma that is released into the house.  Toward the end, the maker will sputter and spit out some hot lava of espresso at you so you should make sure that the lid is securely down over the coffee vessel.

I didn’t.

Yours truly had to watch.  Oooh Shiny Things.  Brown Coffee syrup! 

It was then that I decided to take a closer look.   If you see me later and notice a small red dot on my right cheek just under the eye, it was at this point that I acquired it as well as a spray of coffee.  211 degrees by my guess.

Cursing at my own confusion, I walked over to the sink and poured the steaming beverage over the Sweet N Low, thus steaming off the rest of my right arm in the process.  Luckily it wasn’t a burn, merely a major annoyance…

Ahh Art…

Yeah Drama is an Art Form, isn’t it?

Swirling in the big 16 ounce mug, there was 12 ounces more or less of espresso.  I added to it some Hazelnut Syrup, creamer to lighten it, then a nice layer of Whipped Cream to the top and walked it over to the desk. 

After the doorbell rang and I managed to answer it after running through the house pulling up my pants… I had a short talk with Lisa about her impending salmon dinner.  I was able to get back to my big green chair and start on the cooled espresso.

The warm laptop was placed on my lap, and Diva Disco went back on my head with a familiar classic that I remember from the 1970s…

Oh no, not I
I will survive
as long as i know how to love
I know I will stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
I’ve got all my love to give
and I’ll survive
I will survive…

Good espresso …

Is it Interference or is it in the Driveway

I listen to a lot of music while I do my thing.  I listen to music from many different cultures, many different languages.  If it bounces I will probably like it.

Early this morning I put on my headphones and I thought I heard some buzzing.  These are some “Refurbished” noise canceling headphones that I got at a deal for $17.  Living in a noisy environment, I hear a lot of oddball noises from the neighbor chasing after the dog that gets loose at least every other day, to the airplanes going to FLL or FXE, to the railroad thinking that it’s appropriate to blow the whistle when they go through South Middle River Terrace at 5AM until they cross through my town and into Oakland Park.

Ok, the railroad only did that once.   I have to assume someone was on the tracks when they should not be.

I started with the headphones that dropped the noises by 1/2, then switched on the noise canceling and lost another 1/2 and put on some “Euro Dance” station on www.di.fm while beginning the morning routine.  I had the feed on for over an hour before I got to the point where I considered another mug of coffee – being in the “Disco Cave” with these headphones helps you to lose track of time easily.

After the coffee, it went another hour of bouncing with an occasional phrase being said in different languages, not always my own.  The windows are open in the house, and while you snowbirds come down here for the weather, having the treat of them open is something to look forward for us Floridians.

They do bring the sounds and smells of the city in on the air, like the police siren that is playing in time with the 4/4 beat – just like in the clubs.  This one was real because I just watched the WMPD cruiser go past the house.

I sit low in my seat with my laptop on my left leg warming it somewhat, the music thumping in the deep background.  It’s a rather nice way to slog through the morning job search of what has grown to 160 web pages of jobs in the area.   When your city has a 15% unemployment rate, and many jobs posted to the job boards, you have a lot to go through – at least 3 hours on a slow day.  The music definitely helps and I choose it to help when I’m working on the web sites that I work on, or some of the work I do on Social Media and Search Engine Optimization.

This particular piece of music had some phrases being spoken.  It started as unintelligible babble that gradually got louder and solidified itself into a conversation.  Looking up over the Mac laptop that I am reinstalling for a client, I realized that there was an argument in loud Haitian Creole taking place.

The strange thing was that in all of South Florida, these two loud women decided that they would drive their cars to Wilton Manors, down my street and park one in my driveway.   When the driver of car number two though she’d add some strength to her argument and leap out of her car, I decided it was time to act.

No, I didn’t go outside and scare them, nor did I turn the sprinklers on or anything that assertive.  I merely said four words.

“There’s Someone In Here”

Loud enough for them to hear it completely stopped the “discussion” dead in their tracks.   The one who lept out of the car raced around the back of the old Toyota Camry with the Jesus Saves stickers all over it, apologizing all the way, lept back into the car and drove off leaving the other loud Haitian woman standing in my driveway on the phone yelling at someone else and looking confused and foolish.

She then got into her old Toyota Camry and drove off after the other woman, head scarf flapping in the breezes.

Do they ever drive anything other than Toyota Camrys or Mini-vans?

I’m so happy they chose to brighten my morning.  It was an amusing episode that led me to do one important thing…

I changed the music to an instrumental Trance channel on www.di.fm – if I hear voices again I’m calling the front desk at City Hall.  They’re nice people there.  I wonder if they’ll mind if I put a gate up?

(Pause) It’s a Sales Job (Click)

I talk to a lot of recruiters.  Being a Freelance Project Manager and IT Consultant, I am actively looking for a permanent position.  Nearby.  Within a reasonable driving distance of my home.

There are a lot of “Perfect Positions”.   When I hear the loud shrill ring of my phone sound off, I check to see where that call is coming first.  If it is outside of the Broward County Florida and adjacent areas, it is usually the perfect job that would require selling the house, loading granny on the receiver tray on the back of the jeep and moving out. 

No, I rather like it here.  I have no intentions of moving.  There are some stinkers here, but for the most part I like my neighbors and the city.  You may have gathered that from some other postings.

This week alone, and this is before start of business on Thursday, I have had recruiters call about positions in Jacksonville, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco.   Each position would have been perfect were it here in Fort Lauderdale.  So I smile and think at least I’m shopping the right resume out there and wait for a local offer. 

If you want someone who can telecommute, I’m your man!  Between me and another person who was an amazing person to work with, we built a one of a kind virtual office using open source technologies that was splattered between here and the Northeast on a shoestring.  It was that man that taught me a very important phrase of “Own It”. 

I spoke to a local recruiter yesterday while I was on the way to another interview, and rattled off the Volunteer and Consulting work I have done over the last 2 months and thought “Hey, I should hire Me!”.  There will be an interview out of that one, and it would be The Dream Job.  It’s even here in Broward County!  Just far enough away to justify having a car and listen to my audio books on the way in, just near enough so the commute isn’t boring.

I have got to land that one first though so lets hope.

While that position is completely appropriate for me, there’s the others.  At least twice a week I get some poor confused soul calling me with a sales job.  I’m not a salesman.  If I were, I’d be doing some sort of technical sales position somewhere, I’m sure…  My negotiation skills are more of the “Yes, Director of the Department, you think you need A B and C but what you really have to have immediately is only A so that is what I’ll instruct the programmers to work on first and explain to them that B and C will come next time around” manner of doing business.

Agile Project Management… next step the Joint Application Design Meetings and my hovering over a programmer to get just the right look and feel….

Back to that poor confused Headhunter.   It seems that there are a lot of sales positions lately.   If they are calling me, they must be confused.  I have a long and technically oriented resume.  It is designed for a computer to read it.  I got 25 hits alone yesterday on Careerbuilder on that resume so it is working.  At least it did yesterday.   I have to think someone just went and scanned the resumes for phone numbers and started down the list.

I’m a “W” so I’m sure that was a very tired person in a dank cubicle somewhere.

It is amusing though.  If you have someone who is trying to talk to you to fill their position, there seems to be a rule.  Always hold back the most difficult detail of the position until last.  Sometimes it may be “Chicago”, and others it is that you will be expected to travel 50 to 75 percent of the time. 

Chicago is a great city.  I loved it when I visited.  I will visit again, happily, but when the winds blow off the lake in February I will not be there.   Travel once in a while can be a life enhancing experience but if you’re gone 75% of the time do you ever really live anywhere?

The last one recruiter call I got I knew was going to be one of these positions.  He asked if he could record the call for “Training Purposes” which was a tip off that it was going to be entertaining.  Then he rattled off the location (Telecommuting?  Hmmm interesting… do go on) and that he had read my resume and thought I was just the right person for the job.   Gave a pay grade and a bonus schedule that was appropriate for my varied experience and paused.

By the way, this is a sales position.

By the time he finished the word “Sales” I was already saying “I’m sorry I am not considering changing my career path at this time”.   By the time I got to the word “Changing” he was apologizing. 

Here’s a suggestion.  If you are calling someone who has a position of “Consulting Project Manager” and “IT Manager” as their current and prior positions on the resume, you already know that they won’t be a perfect fit.   State right out that this is a sales position.  Then Breathe.   Most likely you will be hearing “Thanks but no thanks” and the call will end.

It will get you onto someone who may indeed be a salesman.

Color me Amused.  Sometimes the most entertaining thing you will do in a day is talk to a recruiter.

Good Night, Gracie – My Senior Moment

I was out walking my Border Collie yesterday morning.  Nothing new about that, I do a walk with her three times a day.   Having a Border Collie means that you will be active, or you will have your house torn up.   I was told by Megs at Angel Pets Rescue in Dauphin County, PA when I got Lettie, Walk her as much as you can, as far as you can, for as often as you can and you’ll have a wonderful relationship with your dog.  Maybe not in those words but if you have a Border Collie, or for that matter any other dog, they’re words to live by.

Those long walks are long enough that I went back to my old skating habit of listening to either Audio Books or old time Radio shows.   Great habit to get into if you want entertainment and have to do something repetitive at 6AM when your mind is not quite there yet.   I have been listening to Burns and Allen for the last few days, and have been enjoying them.   Nice “Light Entertainment” as the BBC would describe it.

For example the exchange between George Burns and Senor Lee, his hispanic (Most likely “Mexican” back then) musician:

Senor Lee “I’ve been to Missippi”
George “Missippi?  It is Mississippi!”
Senor Lee “Mrs Sippi?  She got married?”

…And other cornball like that.  Well worth a listen if you get a chance.

As I rounded my half mile point and turned home, I ran into a woman who I see at least twice a week walking her Dachshund or as much as you can walk a Mini Dachshund like that.   We chat pleasantly every time we meet, she seems approximately 40 plus, so I assumed we were contemporaries.   She was asking what kind of music I was listening to and that was where I had to explain that I wasn’t.   I was listening to Burns and Allen.   She had no idea who they were.   I know George had been quiet until the 80s and 90s but he’d pop up from now and then, he’d made his 100th birthday barely and went to his reward shortly thereafter and doing his trademark dry wisecracks with Gracie in the great comedy room in the sky.

Not only that she didn’t know who George and Gracie were (Come in, I still hear “Goodnight Gracie” in sitcoms to date!) but she didn’t realize that there were such things as Variety and Comedy shows on Radio back in the 20s through the 50s.  Fair enough, we all come from different backgrounds, and all have different interests, and we are talking about something that predates my own birth by years.   I guess with the era of 300 channels and nothing on, and satellite radio one tends to forget the history of popular culture from before they were born, even if they were taught it by their older siblings and relatives.

*sigh* Then again I’m currently listening to “Its Good to be the King (rap) by Mel Brooks” from 1982.   I had enough of trance for the day…

Who is Mel Brooks?   Well back in the old days when the world was all in Black and White and Dinosaurs roamed the earth….