Monday, November 21, 2011

Trashy Food Experiment

I recently read a book called The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks.** This was one of the first non-fiction books I've really enjoyed in sometime. In the book, the author does an experiment where she goes into the kitchens of nine self-professed horrible cooks, sees what some of their mistakes are both in what they stock in their fridges and how they prepare food, then leads them in weekly classes to improve their kitchen confidence and skills.

In reading this book, I realized that a lot of the common mistakes people make in their kitchen are the same ones I make in cooking, too. For example, people are so married to the notion that you have to follow a recipe. When really, if you just throw things together that complement each other and add your favorite spices and seasonings, you can make a pretty yummy meal. So I started making more soups from scratch, and it's been pretty rewarding and delicious! The only problem is that my food processor isn't so patient with liquids, and I keep getting soup on the kitchen walls. But I can deal.

I've also been working on my knife skills. My aunt gave me a gift card to take this class for Christmas last year, but I never got around to doing it. So I went and learned much about knives and how to use them, and I've since been cutting things the right way. I asked for a better cutting board for Christmas, too.

I'm updating my spices. Spices should be replaced every 6-12 months. I haven't yet thrown away my old and defunct spices, and it's hard for me to admit they're no good, because they look okay, though some of them are seriously years old. But I have started to acquire new, fresh spices.

The last thing I've been working on is using up what's in my fridge and repurposing leftovers. We all know we should eat produce, and a lot of Americans will go to the grocery store and stock up on loads of the stuff, but then not know how to prepare it. Or, they'll buy the giant bag of spinach because it's a better deal, but they won't be able to eat it all. It ends up rotting in their fridges, and they end up throwing it out. Thus, Americans throw out 18% of their groceries a year.

Anyone who's spent more than 5 minutes with me knows I am obsessed with saving money — that travel habit of mine ain't cheap! So I decided to do a little experiment to see if I, too, threw out 18% of my food. I labeled the price of all my groceries for the week with Post-It notes.

Here are some of the rules I followed:

- Grocery shop with specific meals in mind. Planning meals saves money.
- Don't buy the bigger portion just because it's cheaper. So, for example, I bought a small amount of loose spinach instead of a whole bag of it.
- Don't buy fruits for the whole week. Buy enough for the next 2-3 days. If you eat it all, you can go back and buy more. You'll notice I only bought three apples.

And once I brought the food home, I tried to follow these rules:

- Save the meals with non-perishables for last.
- If something's starting to get mushy, eat it already! It's not going to get any better.
- Try to be creative with meals by using whatever's left from previous meals.

Throughout the week, every time I threw away a Post-It note, I felt great accomplishment. To try to use leftover tomatoes and basil, I mixed them with pasta and Parmesan cheese. It wasn't the tastiest thing I've ever eaten, but it was okay. To use up the rest of the buttermilk, I made biscuits. Even though the raspberries and strawberries were looking a little sad within a few days, I threw some yogurt over them, gobbled them up, and hardly noticed their overripeness. They tasted like saving money. Yum!

At the end of the week, I did have to throw some of it out. I couldn't use all the basil, and the tomatoes were pretty awful, even when I first bought them. I didn't finish the cucumber, and I don't even know why I bought it, as I don't even really like cucumbers that much. There was a little bit of spinach I never finished, so that went in the trash, too. I'd say I threw away 10%, which isn't bad, but I can do better.

I don't think I'd do the Post-It note thing again as it is a waste of Post-It notes and paper, but I will try harder this week. It'll be challenging with Thanksgiving; I know I will be sent home with tons of leftovers, and I will do my best to eat them all.

** Does anyone else think book titles are getting especially long for better SEO?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Self Doubt... Kinda

I've always wanted to write. I didn't doubt it when I was unemployed or finding a way to use my (some would say) useless journalism degree. I knew I would end up with a job that involved writing, and if I didn't get one right away, I would keep working towards it.

The other night I met two high school friends for dinner, and after some catching up, I started to feel like I had nothing to show for myself. One friend works for the Environmental Protection Agency and the other is just about to graduate law school, and I know she is going to rock the bar exam and do great beyond that. They brought up words I've never heard and discussed things such as government corruption and investigating chemicals. I was genuinely interested, but as I plopped a piece of sushi in soy sauce, some splashing on the table, I thought about how my day-to-day work involves analyzing a single sentence and all its parts.

I've always been proud to talk about my work. And even better, I like it! Even when I didn't have a job, I was doing something writing related. So it wasn't that I wasn't proud of what I do or that my friends were trying to make me feel ashamed. I just felt so much smaller than them. While they will go to work and defend the rights of individuals and even entire communities, I will write 20 variations of the same sentence until I find the perfect combination of words. An admirable pursuit, of course. But not quite the same impact as visiting a site contaminated by chemicals and figuring out what when wrong.

I'm going to have to find some other way to change the world.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

#12 Meaningful Connections

I'm participating in the 30 Days of Indie Travel Challenge on BootsnAll. Prompt #12: MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS. Travelers meet dozens, if not hundreds, of new people on every trip. They may become friends, enemies, lovers, and resources; they may stay in your life forever or be forgotten the next day. Tell about a time you felt a powerful connection – for however long – to another person while traveling.

My 10-day Croatia trip in 2008 was a big independent woman voyage for me. I was going solo, plus I was trying CouchSurfing for the first time, plus I was going to be making all my travel arrangements on the fly once I got there. It was the kind of trip mean to empower single ladies across the planet!

The whole thing went fine with generally no problems. I had lots of experiences that'll stay with me forever, but for the purpose of this post I'll talk about this girl I met.

Traveling alone is empowering and all, you can do what YOU want to do and not have to compromise with anyone. You can spend your money how you want to spend it, linger in one place for longer or leave another place sooner without consulting anyone. But, it can get lonely. I think I'm pretty independent, but even I got lonely.

I was staying at this hostel in Dubrovnik and was hoping to meet some people my age to explore with. I didn't have much luck, so I headed to the walled city to explore it in the company of thousands of other strangers. The walls that were built to protect the city in the 12th to 17th century still stand, and you can walk the interior circumference of the old portion of the city, which is littered with red rooftops.

It was pretty and I took heaps of pictures. I came back to the hostel at night and did end up meeting some people, but I secretly didn't care much for them. They were a few years younger than me, and to save money, they had been stealing all their food and booze throughout the trip. But, I had nothing else to do, so I ended up hanging out with them all night. I also met this other girl while I was eating alone at a restaurant one night — I noticed she was also eating alone and asked if she wanted to eat together — and although she was perfectly nice and we ended up drinking together that night in the company of strange old men, I was just something to do to pass the time. I still felt so lonely, even though I was meeting all these people.

Then I met this girl who was staying in the same hostel as I was. She was a few years older than me and had been WOOFing her way across Eastern Europe. She was a super interesting person, very laid back and interested in sustainability and organic farming (that's what WOOFing is all about). She was interested in going to visit the walled city, and asked if I had been yet and would like to join her. I lied and said no, I hadn't been, but wanted to. I paid once again to visit the old city, really because this was the first person I met in Croatia who I connected with, and I wanted to hold onto that. It wasn't even like we were super chatty and were discovering so much about each other. In fact, much of our time visiting this site was spent in silence as we took in what was around us. We stopped to rest and she took out cheese and bread from her bag and offered me some. I knew she was broke because she had told me, but I felt it rude to reject her gift, so I enjoyed lunch with her. My second visit to the walled city was a much more enjoyable experience than the first because I had someone to share it with.

We didn't spend more than that day together. One of us had to leave, so we just exchanged CouchSurfing usernames, not even emails. I remember I immediately sent her a friend request and left a comment on her page for everyone to see about how much I enjoyed her company. But she never accepted my friend request, I assumed because she was traveling so much with so little access to Internet.

What really gets me is now, I don't even remember her name. All I remember is how much meeting her meant to me, pulling me out of the throes of loneliness, even just for a few hours. I wish I could find a way to thank her one more time.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

$23,000 Poorer

I stopped in Amish Healthy Foods this week to use a Groupon that was expiring soon. It is a small grocery with organic meat and dairy and some vegetables and non-perishable items. As I was getting together my items at the register, I asked the woman how the Groupon was going. She turned out to be the owner. She didn't have many positive things to say about it.

She said she had lost $23,000.

Everything else she said, I had heard before. For each $30 coupon that Groupon cutomers purchased for $15, she only got $7.50. According to the deal on Groupon, 960 people bought it, but she could count on one hand the number of customers who came back. People were stingy. If their total was $32, they wanted to swap out an item to bring the total down to $30. This is familiar.

But that a business owner lost $23,000 because she partnered with Groupon? That leaves a horrible taste in my mouth. I have never felt so guilty to use a Groupon as I did this time. As I was saving $15, she was losing way more.

She told me not to worry about it, that it wasn't my fault. She didn't blame the customers. She understood how the deal worked. She was just glad it was ending soon. The Groupon was expiring in 2 weeks, and she could go back to life as normal.

My total was $40, and she asked me if I wanted to put something back so I wouldn't have to spend more than the total of the Groupon. I insisted that I wanted to buy all these things, which included fresh sausage, wine cheddar cheese, steaks, and bacon. I told her that I wanted to support her business and that I would come back, because I was trying to spend more money on good quality meat. I could tell she didn't believe me, that it didn't matter how good my intentions were. She did not expect to see me ever again.

I will be back. I really think I will. I don't buy meat at the grocery store for all those do-gooder reasons, and I rarely shop at Whole Foods because it's too far, and I end up putting too much in my shopping cart there, then end up having buyer's remorse. This place is smaller, with just the basics, and it's just a few minutes out of my way on the way home from work.

I will be one of the few who returns to give her my full-price business not just to prove her wrong, but because I want to shop there. So she's got one customer on which the Groupon worked its magic, because I would have never known this place existed if it weren't for the Groupon. But I'm just one customer who doesn't even have a family to feed. There's nothing I can personally do to make up the $23,000 she lost.

Some of Them Had Blogs

I listen to WBEZ, Chicago's NPR station, most mornings. The other day I heard a particularly disturbing story: Air Force Admits Losing Remains At Dover Mortuary. Body parts of servicemen have been lost at the Delaware Mortuary. Mortuary workers also sawed off a U.S. Marine's arm so he could be placed into his uniform and then placed in his casket. I know. It's disgusting in every sense of the meaning of that word.

And then, the Air Force didn't tell the families, even though they found out about it and took the allegations "seriously." These things happened in 2009 and 2010, and the families were notified just this last weekend. Last March, the Office of Special Council asked the Air Force to talk to the families, and then asked them again recently. Why hadn't they? "Their response was that these families, some of them had blogs; they couldn't be trusted - that they might go to the media."

That quote made me so mad. You are allowed to know the mortuary effed with your family member's body, but only if you don't have a big fat blogger mouth and can keep it a secret. Because those people who blog about their personal lives — how ANNOYING — will probably blog about how we sawed off their family member's arm. It's best to just keep this one in the top secret file. We can't let word get out on the blogs!

It's ignorant of the Air Force to assume the family members with blogs would even would want to blog about it. I have no idea how I would react if I found out this had happened to the body of someone close to me. Would I blog about it? I don't know. Why should it matter if I have a blog or am connected to the media? What matters is that the stupid Air Force protects their stupid image.

Happy Veterans Day. I'm glad our country has so much respect for the families of our dead servicemen and what they have provided for us.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

#5 Kindness

I'm participating in the 30 Days of Indie Travel Challenge on BootsnAll. Prompt #5: KINDNESS. One of the greatest joys of travel can be the random acts of kindness you’ll receive from total strangers. Have you ever found kindness from strangers in unexpected places?

I have met many, many kind people while traveling. I often wonder if I could ever reciprocate. Like CouchSurfing, for example. I surfed a couple of couches in Croatia a couple years ago, and I could not believe how generous and welcoming these people were. They fed me, gave me a place to sleep, and one guy even drove me a couple hours to the next town on his way to work. Or this other backpacker I met in Croatia, we visited the walled city of Dubrovnik together. And she shared her Gouda cheese with me for lunch. There are not many people I would share cheese with, and a stranger is not one of them. That sounds like a joke, but it's not really. I especially like cheese.

Anyway, I think about CouchSurfing. I can't host people now, since I live with two other roommates and two cats. But one day, I'll live alone. Would I open my home to strangers and pay forward the kindness other strangers have paid me? I'd like to think I would, but it's a lot to think about. And perhaps there are other ways to make strangers to Chicago feel more at home. I would be lying if I said I didn't know where to start looking; there is the Internet.

Writing this post is making me feel guilty about how little I've tried to seek out foreigners to my city who could really use some local advice and help. I think about all the kind things people have done for me in France, and all those times I promised myself I would be the same kind of person when I was back in America. It's so easy to get caught up in your day-to-day life and forget that all the things that come naturally to you are challenges for other people. Like paperwork, or opening a bank account, or finding an apartment, or explaining why the El goes in a circle downtown. Kindess doesn't necessarily mean giving someone a place to sleep. It can mean a lot of things.

Monday, November 07, 2011

#6 Fear

I'm participating in the 30 Days of Indie Travel Challenge on BootsnAll. Prompt #6: FEAR. Just as travel can be fun and exciting, it can also have its challenging, or even downright scary, moments. Being in a new place pushes us out of our comfort zone and makes us face our fears. Tell about a time you had to face your fear when traveling, and what was the result.

I'm not a very nervous traveler, not in general. What does make me nervous is the very start of a trip. I'm always nervous about having everything ready and getting to point A on time. So for this Europe trip, for example, our flight was at 5 p.m. on a Friday. I left work at noon to make sure I had everything ready. Of course I did. I had packed Wednesday. So all there was to do for me at home was to pace nervously around my apartment with the Swiffer until it was time to leave for the airport. Then I go to the airport and the security lines for domestic flights were the longest I have ever seen in my entire life, so many people spilling out from the lines that people just walking through had difficulty getting past. This is O'Hare, a giant airport, where there's plenty of space for waiting in line, so it was pretty extreme. There was no way anyone was getting through those in less than an hour. Although we were obviously flying out of the international terminal that has its own lines, still, this was a sign that the airport was packed.

Our flight was in 2 hours and Jake wasn't there yet. I started to become irrationally afraid. What if he didn't make it on time? What if we couldn't get through security on time? What if the plane left for France without us? I couldn't concentrate on anything except for the feeling of fear in my stomach until Jake arrived to the airport, 1.5 hours before our flight, plenty of time to check our bags, go through international security (which took all of 5 minutes), buy food, and sit and wait for an hour by our gate for our flight.

Once I make it safely and soundly to the first leg of a trip, I don't care anymore. We had three more flights on this trip — to and from Berlin and then back to Chicago — and I was never nervous about those. In fact, we could have been late for a couple of those. We took the wrong direction on the train en route to the Berlin airport (my fault), so lost a few minutes there. And at Charles de Gaulle, they were pretty understaffed, so we spent a lot of time waiting in lines. We made it to the gate with only a few minutes to spare.

Maybe I don't worry about this stuff once the trip gets started because I wouldn't mind so much getting stuck or delayed in Paris or Berlin. It could be a fun adventure, and I'd get to stay a tad bit longer. To get stuck in Chicago when I'm trying to leave it for a vacation... that would not be the slightest bit of fun.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

#4 Mistakes

I'm participating in the 30 Days of Indie Travel Challenge on BootsnAll. Prompt #4: MISTAKES. Everyone makes mistakes. We forget to ask for Coke without ice in Mexico and spend the rest of the trip in the bathroom. Or we arrive at the airport for a 7pm flight only to realize the flight left at 7am. Tell us the story of your worst travel mistake.

We were meeting people for dinner at 7, right by the Eiffel Tower. It was 5. It was a pretty nice day out, and the Eiffel Tower was close. "Let's walk to the Eiffel Tower," I sugested. "It's only about a 20-minute walk. We'll have time to go up and then we can go to dinner. They live just a few minutes away." Jake said okay. A 20-minute walk isn't bad, right? Along the way we could take some photos and see more of Paris.

The 20-minute walked turned into a 45-minute walk turned into a 1.5-hour walk. Somewhere along the way, Jake stopped trusting me that it was a 20-minute walk. First he didn't say anything. We just continued to walk in silence, and Paris started to feel miserable. It was SO close though, we were almost there. We could see it. Except, just because you can see the Eiffel Tower doesn't mean you're anywhere close to it.

Jake finally asked if I had looked at a map before I decided it was a 20-minute walk. No, because I knew how to get there. But I am not good with distances. I know Paris well, but I used to bike everywhere. It was probably a 20-minute bike ride from where we were. Which is not the same thing as a 20-minute walk. We finally get there, and Jake is miserable, which makes me miserable. He'd been feeling sick all day, and started complaining about his rotator cuff hurting too, and decided he was not going to go to dinner and would just go back to the hotel and sleep. Even worse, we had no time to go up in the Eiffel Tower. It was 6:45 by this point.

We were both grumpy, so we just sat on a bench with our backs to the stupid Eiffel Tower and didn't talk. It's supposed to be this romantic thing, this Eiffel Tower. But, no, not at this time. I made a mistake and I was mad at myself and Jake was mad at me too. Plus, he wasn't coming to dinner to meet some good friends of mine and probably wouldn't have the chance to meet them ever again. Blerg.

Jake finally agreed to drag himself to dinner, because it's not like he's in Paris that often. On our way there, we walked past a pharamacy, so I was able to pick him up some drugs. He said he instantly felt better after taking the mystery pills and dinner was really, really great. We went to a Japanese restaurant with two of the families I used to babysit for. They're awesome and their kids are awesome, too. It was just one of those dinners where everyone is having a good time and it's over before it even started. Jake also tried his first piece of sushi and liked it, SUCCESS (I've been trying to get him to try sushi for 4 years)! He even talked about going to Coast when we got back, a swanky sushi place by where we live in Chicago. We were sad to say goodbye after dinner, but everyone was in high spirits.

Afterwards we walked back to the Eiffel Tower. We were too tired to go up and it was too dark to get a couplely picture in front of it. But we enjoyed watching it glitter, all romantic-like, and I was happy I had brought someone with me to Paris who forgives me for my mistakes.

Friday, November 04, 2011

One of my Favorites

There are a few things that I'll always visit every time I go to Paris, and Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart) is one. Of all the churches I've ever visted, this one is still my favorite, even though it's crawling with tourists, every single one of them taking the same pictures. There's always some guy playing pop songs on the guitar, and those weird dudes trying to tie strings around your wrists and scam you out of all your euro coins. But still, I find it beautiful despite all these annoyances.

If you've ever been to Europe — or just seen pictures of it — you'll know that every country has tons of amazing old churches and cathedrals. Unfortunately, they lose their impact because there are so many of them. After awhile, all the churches look the same. I like Sacre Coeur so much because it's so much different than the rest. The basilica is always bright white, even after 100 years of weathering and polution, because it's built from travertine stone, which exudes calcite (that's what Wikipedia said). Also, it's built on the highest point in Paris, so it has a great view of the city.

Sacre Coeur never loses its magnificence to me, and it doesn't hurt that it's in Montmartre, where a lot of Amelie was filmed. I would have loved if our hotel had been in this area. Although parts of it can be a little sketchy, I love the tiny windy streets with bistros and cafes. Also, a lot of souvenir shops, but you can try to ignore those. This is where Jake tried his first crepe and liked it! A small victory.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

#2 Embracing Change

I'm participating in the 30 Days of Indie Travel Challenge on BootsnAll. Prompt #2: EMBRACING CHANGE. Change can be exciting and bring new joys into our lives. But it can present challenges that frustrate or annoy us. How has travel changed you in the last year? Did you welcome these changes or resist them at the time, and how do you feel about them now?

I've been wanting to take up more freelance work ever since I knew freelancing was a thing. And I never really did not because I didn't think I was good enough, but because I didn't know where to start. But a few months ago, when I started planning some trips and realized I didn't really want to wipe my savings clean, I started pursuing more freelance stuff.

Freelancing's hard, with more dead ends than leads. A lot of people don't need you right now, but maybe later. A lot of projects are one-time only, or the money runs out and they end. Working with some companies just plain sucks because they're unorganized or don't really know what they're doing. And in the work I've done, I'm usually paid a flat fee for one piece, which may sound like a fair price at the start, but that doesn't include the amount of time you spend researching.

But, I'm not complaining. Those are just realities. And even if a company's difficult to work for and I may never write for them again because they sucked so hard, frankly, I'm happy to have the $300 check from it. Because that's one round-trip domestic flight (if I fly Southwest and book my ticket far enough in advance).

My travel aspirations haven't changed the way I write, but they have changed the way I pursue being a writer. I was terrified of being rejected before, but now, it's just part of the business. In fact, I expect to be rejected by most of the clients I pitch. But you'll never know unless you ask.

I'm not making bank as a freelancer or anything. My full-time job comes first, so that restricts the amount of time I can spend writing other stuff and researching clients and projects to seek out. But I've done about 100% more freelance stuff than I did last year, which means I'm writing more and learning more and earning more and even though it sounds laughable, improving my Google rankings (if you don't think that's important, then get off the Internet).

It helps having a goal. I have a purpose for waking up at 6 a.m. This money's going to flying to Seattle for my sister's graduation, or a dinner with my friend Megan whenever I make it to Dallas or a road trip with my friend Lucy whenever I make it to New Zealand. Having this idea of where the money is going definitely helps, and even if I am just getting a $50 check for something that took a few hours, it's $50 more than I didn't have. And $50 checks add up, right?

The only thing I don't look forward to is tax season in April...

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I'm participating in the 30 Days of Indie Travel Challenge on BootsnAll. Prompt #1: GOALS. What were your travel goals last year? Did you accomplish them? What travel goals do you hope to accomplish this year?

I've already written about this to exhaustation. I wanted to go back to Paris this year. Then I won a trip there. So yes, I've accomplished my travel goals this year. Goals next year? Well maybe I'll set the bar high and try to win another contest to somewhere else.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Mean French

One day in Paris, Jake and I explored the Marais. This is a great little area to walk around in, as it's very picturesque and chic with lots of boutiques selling stuff most people could never afford. I also wanted to take Jake for a delicious and inexpensive lunch at l'As du Falafel, which is right there in the city's Jewish neighborhood (NYT says it's delicious enough to turn you vegetarian for a day). I didn't have the address on hand, but the area is pretty small, so I figured we'd find it easily. I saw a woman eating a falafel that looked exactly the same as the one I was searching for. So I asked her if she could point us in the right direction.

As we started talking, I noticed falafel bits were smeared all over her face. She was eating it like a savage, which was a great sign. First, she told me that the place I was looking for was only the 2nd best in Paris, and her place was the best. She was so invested in us finding this particular restaurant, she wanted to escort us there. Her husband wasn't so keen on the idea. As they bickered about coming with us or not, more falafel bits seem to take over her face and her husband wiped them away. I insisted on just getting directions, and apologized for angering her husband. "Oh no no, he's not angry!" she told me "He just knows I want to go back to get another one, and he doesn't want to pay for it!" Finally we were on our way with just the directions, where we ending up waiting 20 minutes for the most delicious €5 falafel in the city. And we even saw the lady return while we were waiting in line! Don't tell her this, but I think this place and the place I was looking for serve exactly the same falafel, so they are equally good. Either way, it's evidence that you don't have to spend a ton of money to eat well while traveling.

Later that day, after walking and walking and walking some more, we stopped at a cafe for some drinks. We had a dinner date with a friend who lived in the 10th, a ways away from where we were. I was trying to find the address on the map the hotel gave us, but wasn't having much luck. So I asked our server if he was familiar with that area. Maybe he had heard of the street or lived close by and could tell us what metro stop we needed. "Ah, that map you have, that is only for tourists," he told me. "It is good for finding tourist things, but not for the little streets of the city." From his breast pocket, he removed a little red book like Paris Pratique. He located the street I was looking for in the index, then located the street on one of the maps. He cross referenced his map with mine, then made a mark on my nerdy tourist fold-out map where the street would be. Keep in mind Paris servers don't work for tips. Unless we decided to be particularly nice and leave a couple extra euros, this location service he provided was free of charge.

I tell these two stories to show that Parisians are not as mean as everyone says they are. Although, I had something that most Americans don't have, and that's the ability to speak French. But it's not like I just woke up one day and spoke the language. More like I woke up every day for 10 years, and sometime during that day, I worked on learning it. So maybe I feel like I am owed these extra helpful experiences because I earned them. If you go somewhere with a different native language, try to learn at least a few words. If you would like to talk to a random lady on the street about falafel or ask your server for directions and expect them to be genuinely helpful, I guess you're going to have to study the language for 10 years.