Troy Thibodeaux

The emotional rollercoaster that is Duolingo

You ever have one of those Duo days where with the combination of just plain guessing, brain farts, typos, etc. you run out of hearts before you get through even one lesson? This was today, so far. 

The day before was great. I had 200+ XPs. I completed enough lessons where the next checkpoint became available "checkpoint 2". I had watched a few Youtube videos by "Spring Spanish" that gave me some interesting insights into how native speakers handle some common questions/responses. It was an encouraging day, and felt like I made some progress. But today, not so much. 

Oh well, I'll keep pushing forward. It sometimes feels like two steps forward, one step back, which by definition is still progress, it's just slow (muy lento).

Otra ano en los libros. Another year in the books.

I am blessed to have my health, a loving wife and family, good friends, a good job, personal interests that are fun and challenging and stimulate my body and brain. I wish for growth. I want to progress in all of those things, but if for whatever reason life keeps me where I am, then I've led a pretty good life. 

That being said, I can't be sedentary to maintain what I have, so it will take work to remain where I am. Everything is not perfect, and it doesn't all come easy.

I was blessed with being born to good parents, born in a country with a lot of freedom and opportunities, and born without any major physical or mental challenges. That is pretty much where the "luck" part ends. 

Unfortunately at my age, it takes work to be healthy. I am not in perfect health, so if I don't continue to "attempt" to watch what I eat, exercise, get check-ups, etc. I will regress for sure. 

Friends and Family
I hope my wife and family will always unconditionally love me, but love is reciprocal. "The love you take is equal to the love you make". Not that it takes a lot of work to love my family. They are easy to love. But to be loving, and to show love is an action. It takes volition and must be acted upon. Just feeling that way is not enough. This also holds true for friendship. 

My job, as stable as I might think it is at times, is volatile. I could lose my job any day, and it could be because of something completely outside of my control. But, if I slack, if I become complacent, if I stop being perceived as a value to my employer, I will be gone. That would change a hell of lot in my life. I could, should, and mostly probably would find another good job, but I don't like that uncertainty. At this point, I really enjoy my job, and the people I work with. I get paid a fare wage, and I think I'm respected. It's a pretty sweet situation.  

Music is a passion for me. I love making it, listening to it, thinking about it, etc. That is purely a gift from God. The creation of music is so rewarding. I really do think it's magic. The actual physical part of playing an instrument takes work. It takes a bit of work to maintain what I already have, and if I want to progress, it takes more work. For the most part, my skills on guitar have progress dramatically much over the years, buy my understanding of music and how to implement that on guitar has really progresses, and that is what facilitates make my own music. The transfer of the mental to the physical is a very important skill, and I can do that much better now than I ever have. 

A new interest is Spanish. I've always wanted to learn a language, and growing up in a house where both my parents spoke French, I was exposed to it, but only in a very small way. The culture in south Louisiana has a lot of French traditions, references, common phrases, etc., but it's not really a place where French is spoken very frequently any more. I missed a real opportunity to learn French, but growing up, I had no interest in it. 

Now, I have lived in Texas for many years, and Spanish much more common to hear, than French was growing up. It has a place in the culture, even for non-Hispanics. I gross paths with Spanish speakers almost on a daily basis. And, I will soon have a son-in-law (mi yerno) who is fluent in Spanish, so my interest in learning a language has ben heightened, and Spanish would be the natural choice. Maybe I can add French to my learning after I get to some level of Spanish where I can hold even a basic conversation. Besides the practicality of it, it really does challenge me, and make my brain work in a way it never has.  


Frank Gambale - Modes No More Mystery I remastered I #frankgambale

Frank plays the chord progression E, D, A, but says it's NOT in the key of E, even though he does acknowledge that the emphasis in the progression is on E, and E is the "home base" as he calls it. Instead of saying that it's in the key of E, he says it's "the E mode of the A major scale". 

He says, "No matter what key you're in, the fifth mode will always be Mixolydian".

I know this is all probably just a matter of semantics, but that statement is just not true. The fifth mode is only Mixolydian when the key is the natural major scale, which is the Ionian mode. Do Ra Mi Fa So La Ti Do.

I think it's confusing to say "the E mode of the A major scale". If you play the progression E, D, A, with the emphasis on the "E", like he did and explained, then it makes much more sense to say it's in the key of "E". But I would say it's "E" Mixolydian, so whoever I'm talking to knows it's a major key with a flat 7. Granted, when written, the key signature would be identical to "A" major (Ionian) with 3 sharps. 

My reasoning follows the definition of a key below.

A "key" of a song/progressoin is the note the music centered around. In the example above, the key is "E".

The dominant note in a progression, scale, riff, etc. is the note that fives the key it's name. The root, tonic, home key, etc. is that note that the music is centered around. The scale, riff, etc. feels at rest when you are on that note, or the chord based on that note. There is resolution in that note/chord.

A key signature is a different matter. That refers to how the key is written in standard notation. If a song like The Beatles "Let It Be" is written, it would have no sharps or flats. That in itself does not tell us what is the root note, tonic, key of the song. The song itself does that. The key signature will tell you what notes are in the song. When they key signature has no sharps or flats, then you know whenever you see any notes on the staff, they are the natural notes, A, B, C, etc. ... with no sharps or flats. 

If you were to write out the song "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" the key signature would be the same. It would have no sharps or flats. But these two songs are not in the same key. "Let It Be" is in C major, and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is in A minor.

"Let It Be" does throw in a flat 7 here and there, and WMGGW changes keys in the bridge, but that's for another discussion.

To be clear, Frank Gambale knows WAY more music theory than I do, but his video is about teaching and understanding the modes, and I just think that his explanation of the "key" of song, and how it relates to modes makes it harder to understand how they work. At least in that particular statement. The rest of the video, and the video in general is great and very informative. 

I think of "moods" when I think of "modes". They each have a different mood. 



Well, I'm still at it. I'm 75 days in studying Spanish with Duolingo. Where am I at? I still don't know. I have a lot of trouble breaking down sentences I hear at a native speaker's pace. 

Yo estoy apredieno mucho, pero no usar lo.
I'm learning a lot, but not using it.

I have not tried to speak with  Spanish speakers much, but when I do, I am instantly lost .

Yo necesito personas hablar muy lento.
I need people to speak very slowly.

I think that might be awkward and rude to ask, but maybe I just need to throw that out there, and hopefully they will oblige me.

I'm starting to get into the weeds, and it's pretty confusing. But, there is some hope in that every once in a while I hear a phrase that I instantly know. For example, I've known for a long time that "Donde esta el bano" is, "Where is the bathroom?". I heard that so many times that I instantly know what is meant by that phrase. That's where I need to get with Spanish, and it happens sometimes. It's not often, and it's only with really simple things but it does happen.


I went fishing again at Lake Lewisville. This is the same spot I've been going to lately. The weather was great, but the water temp was noticeably colder, and this will soon put an end to my wade fishing for the year. It was not bad at all until the sun started to set, and by the time I got back to my car I had to put the heater on to warm my legs up.

I fished for a couple of hours and I caught three small bass. One was a sand bass, which I dropped while trying to get a pic of it. The other two were largemouth bass. All were caught on a Roostertail.

My floating net is really working out great. Besides having it handy to land the fish, I experimented with using it as a live well. I put one of the bass I caught in the net and just let it float. The bass did not get out. These are small fish, so I'm sure a bigger fish would find its way out, but I say "success".

I only had a short time to fish, but was another nice day. I walked the the same spot I've been fishing at lately. I only caught one, but it was a good one.

Another beautiful day for fishing, and another day of not much catching. I managed to convince this little channel cat to bite on my Roostertail somehow.


I go running on a trail at Lake Lewisville pretty often. The trailhead is at a park that is 5 miles from my house, and the trail runs along the edge of the lake. I decided one day, after my run, to go to the closest access point to the lake, which is a short walk from the trailhead, and go fishing. 

From the looks of the water color, close to the shore was really shallow, and then a little ways out it looked to get deeper, as the water was darker green. I waded out a little ways to where I could cast to the deeper water. 

I caught one keeper size sand bass, and couple of other small fish, one being another sand bass, and another was a largemouth. All were caught on a white Roostertail inline spinner.

It was really fun. The weather was awesome, and water was not too cold for wading.

The next day, I tried again. This time it was the late afternoon and the sun was setting. It was beautiful, but I didn't catch any fish. I tried a few different lures. I tried a couple of different color Roostertails, a Beetle spin, and another one that I can't remember.

I went back the following week. This time, I had in mind to keep a few fish if I caught enough for a meal. I fished again with Roostertails.

I caught a 10+ inch sand bass, two really small largemouth bass, and another largemouth bass that was really close to being legal size, which is 14 inches. My intention was to only keep sand bass, or maybe if I caught some crappie or catfish, but I would have kept the largemouth if I were sure it was legal, as the catching slowed, and the other fish I caught were way too small to keep.

It was another awesome afternoon of fishing. The weather again was perfect.

and the battle begins


I win
Duolingo day 57

Well, I'm not sure how to judge my progress. I am more confident in the content I've learned, but I'm still so far away from having a conversation in Spanish. I have a decent grasp on what I've learned so far. I say it that way, as you could just memorize words and phrases, and that is great, and hard to do, but to know "why" you use certain words is another thing.

Estoy aprender pero muy lento. Esta muy dificil. Estoy no comodo hablar con personas. Estoy muy nervioso hablando espaƱol.

I typed the sentences above from memory. I completely understand the words and phrases. The problem is that if some else said those things at the speed most people speak, I would really have to think about it to figure out what they are saying. It wouldn't take me long, but it wouldn't just click that I heard this...

"I am learning, but very slow. It's very difficult. I am not comfortable talking to people. I am very nervous speaking Spanish."

Again, I'm not sure how to judge my progress. I hear horror stories of people studying for years and still can't follow conversations, and then I hear others say they worked around a lot of Spanish speaking people and just picked it up. I know it would be easier to be around people speaking Spanish, and there are a lot of people around here that speak Spanish, but they are not all people I'm comfortable asking to help me learn, or be patient with me while I try to hear and speak a few things. 

I do have some friends that are helping, but I don't want to abuse that generosity, so I don't beat them down with it every time I see them. 

I've tried a couple of times to speak to people, and it was OK. They understood me, and one person even said my pronunciation was very good. But those were just a few sentences, and when they replied, I didn't fully understand what they were saying. 

I'm sticking with it, but it's hard to picture myself "getting it". We'll see.