History of Rome

A few days ago I posted about TBTL, my favorite podcast. Well, truth be told, sometimes I get a little sick of it. I mean, it is great, and everything, but it can also get a little old listening to literally the same two people talk about basically the same two things over and over. And I’ve been doing that every day since August of 2010, basically. That is a long time to have been listening to the voice of one person every time I am in the car.

So a while ago I decided that I needed something to supplement TBTL for when things got a little rough. What I came up with is a little podcast called The History of Rome. It covers, in a fairly in depth matter, the history of the Roman Empire from the founding to the fall of Rome. So pretty ambitious. I think in all there are around 185 episodes, clocking in at around 15 minutes an episode.

I studied Latin in High School, and had a teacher at the time who loved Roman history. And yet I didn’t care. I just kinda made my way through the work, but didn’t particularly care one way or another. It turns out that I was a moron. Because Roman history is crazy interesting. There is war, and romance, and intrigue, back stabbing, crazy diplomacy, and the rise and fall of one of the most important empires the world has ever seen.

The narrator does a really good job of keeping it interesting, and keeping the pace moving, while making sure that he covers a lot of stuff. And at times it can get dry. You can’t cover 1000 years of history of one empire without running into a few dull patches. But for the most part, it is riveting.

Right now I am at the point where the Huns are about to become a problem for the Romans, so we are talking about getting pretty close to the end of the West, and I am just as into it as I was when I started back at the very founding of Rome.

The whole process also makes you really take a look at yourself, because there are some interesting parallels between things that happened 2000 years ago and things that happen today. It is also really amazing at the level of sophistication that people had so long ago. And for me it has been personally interesting to watch what I thought I knew about Rome be basically shattered left and right.

So if you are looking for some history to get you through the day, I really recommend The History of Rome podcast. I think even if you don’t like history, you will really appreciate it.

French

So on my trip to Europe, I was struck by one thing more than almost anything else. Most of the people over there speak a different language than I do. And sure, a lot of them also speak the same language I do, but they go to the trouble of keeping multiple languages in their head at the same time.

It has always kind of bothered me that I am monolingual, especially because I enjoy languages so much. But I guess each time I’ve studied a new language, I get bored or something, and move on. First there was Spanish, and then Latin, then Russian, and then Italian. Maybe the problem was that aside from Spanish, I chose to study some pretty silly languages. More importantly, I studied languages that really no one I interacted with regularly spoke.

Now this whole time I had a pretty healthy disdain for French, for no reason other than I just “knew” it was stupid. It sounded ridiculous, and from the little I had seen, the pronunciation and spelling made absolutely no sense. So I never bothered with it.

But after my trip to Europe I decided that I need to speak more than one language. It has been a goal of mine, and if I don’t do it now, then I’ll probably always just keep putting it off. And so for a couple of reasons, I ended up choosing French, the language that I had thought was really stupid and weird.

Firstly, I really enjoyed the French speaking parts of the world that I had just visited. Brussels and Paris were both really great places to visit, and I wouldn’t mind going back. Also, I really want to go to Montreal, where they speak French. And there are French speaking places in the Caribbean, so perfect.

But secondly, and more importantly, Kelly knows French, better than she likes to admit, so she won’t be put on the spot. But living with someone who speaks the language makes all the difference in the world. I can practice what I have learned, I can hear the correct pronunciations, and I have someone who is very patient with me to help me out. Perfect situation.

I’m also using the Rosetta Stone software, which I highly recommend. It isn’t perfect, but it does a really good job of getting you going, and does a pretty decent job of honing your pronunciation, even if sometimes it thinks you are saying something wrong when you obviously aren’t. I would say that French is the first language that I have tried where I can actually sound like I am speaking with a “native”-ish accent, as opposed to saying Italian words with an American accent.

So yeah, I’m having a really good time, and hopefully this time I can stick with it.