Duolingo’s Dramatic Update

I have been using Duolingo for almost 4 years. My current streak is 1416. I’ve been doing this for a while.

I don’t remember if it was last year or if it was the year before, but they did an update and they completely changed my entire lesson plan. They added things that I’d never done before and gave me the gold and the purple icons as if I had finished the lessons and mastered them when in fact I had never even started learning those lessons. I felt like I had to start learning all over again.

So more than a week ago, they updated their app again to this new layout which pissed a lot of people off, so much so that there is a petition to change it back. People hate this new update. I am kind of one of them, but, and hear me out, I am doing something to help myself learn.

This new update does not allow you to go back to previous lessons, so that’s why it didn’t work for me because they pushed me so far ahead of the lesson plans that they thought that I had already mastered before, when in fact I still haven’t even gotten to those lessons. So I was supposed to be on unit six, and they ended up bringing me all the way to unit 24. I tried doing the lessons in unit 24, but they were so far out there that I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t go back and I couldn’t go forward. I was pretty much screwed.

So I thought okay, I’m going to click on that broken heart at the bottom of the screen that has the number 48 in the screenshot and practice all of the mistakes that I had already made prior to the update and see what happens after that. So after I did that it said keep going and it kept allowing me to practice mistakes that I had made in the past and it was actually helping me go back to the old old lessons that I had made mistakes on prior to the previous update that changed everything for me. I thought, this is great, I’m able to go way back and keep learning those old lessons that I wanted to go back to learning. But, what is that going to accomplish? I need to go back to learning the regular way.

Since I am a Duolingo plus member, I have the ability to delete a language lesson plan so I can start over, and that’s what I did. But that’s nice for me because I am a plus member, there are people out there who aren’t paying for Duolingo, so they don’t have that ability. They have no choice.

Okay, so since I deleted all of my German lessons and started over at unit 1 in the very beginning with basics one, it has taken me a week and I’m just now in unit 5. I’m kind of glad that I’m able to go at this pace with this new Duolingo because since I cannot go back, I can only go forward and I can actually continue learning where I refused to continue learning before. Because for the last couple of years, all I’ve been doing is my lessons that I’ve already known and not going forward. I’m doing that because I have a learning disability and it’s hard to learn new words and also with German it’s hard sometimes because they switch the words around and I’m already dyslexic and it just makes my brain hurt lol.

So, I have no option other than to keep going forward and hopefully I will continue learning and maybe I will actually be fluent in German one of these days. I’ve been doing this so lazily all this time for the last couple of years by refusing to go forward and now I’m being forced to go forward. This is probably a good thing for learning this language. And maybe that’s the reason Duolingo did that, because they want to force me to keep moving forward.

The website on my browser is still the old website. Someone on Twitter who responded to me about the new update said that the update on their browser is the new update. So they don’t really have a choice, but I still have a choice with my browser. So if I start to get frustrated with the new lessons, I can just go on the computer and do the lessons for as long as I need to because I can go back on the browser. So I’ll just keep going forward in the app on my phone, but I can continue going back on the browser on my computer.

I need to be able to keep doing the same lessons repeatedly to allow my brain to let the words sink in. That’s why I have not gone forward in these lessons because I don’t feel like I’m ready to go forward. But at some point, I have to, otherwise what’s the point of learning a language if I’m not learning all of the language?

So I think that if someone is learning with Duolingo and this same thing happened to them that happened to me and you’re stuck in a situation that you cannot control, you know, just pay for one month and that way you can delete all of your lessons and start over from the very beginning like I did. It’s just one month and you can cancel before your month is over. There might even be a free trial, I don’t know. But don’t give up.

And also, don’t worry about losing all of your old progress because it’s all in your mind, right? All that German that I learned before is still in my head, and since I couldn’t go forward in the app because they pushed me too far ahead, then what’s the point if I can’t just start over? I don’t have that hang up of needing to keep everything that I had worked hard for because I can continue working hard and go forward instead of quitting. And also, it still says that I have learned the same amount of words that I had learned before I deleted my lesson. So all of that is still there, I’m just learning from the very beginning all over again and I’m getting now to the point where I’m starting to get into the lessons that I refused to go forward with.

So just pay for a month, delete the lesson, start over and continue working to learn the language that you’re learning and don’t be so frustrated with everything. It’s not going to work if it’s not fun, and it’s not fun if it’s work.

Star Trek Corner to Corner Pixel Crochet Blanket from Two Magic Pixels

Well, I’ve chosen a pattern, bought the pattern and then bought the yarn. The yarn will be here later next week.

I decided to use blue yarn instead of purple because I wanted to use the color of one of the uniforms. At first I was going to use red, but then I looked at the color and realized it’s probably going to hurt my eyes. Also, there’s that whole red uniform always getting killed on alien planets thing in TOS, so perhaps blue is the logical choice.

When I made the Betty boop 007 blanket, I had posted some videos on YouTube of the blanket as I was still making it and then eventually I made another video after it had already been finished. Many people asked me to make a tutorial on how to do Corner to Corner crochet and I tried making a video and I just wasn’t focused enough. I just decided to tell people to just go find the video that I used to learn how to make a corner to corner crochet project. But I think that when I get the yarn and I start working on it, I might just try to make a tutorial and see if I can finish the tutorial. It will take me probably a few weeks to make the blanket, so it’ll be awhile before the video is completed. But I will try to do it.

I went into the listing for this particular pattern and it says that the pattern is 100 squares wide by 100 squares high and that translates to 100 inches by 100 inches. The Betty boop blanket was 80 squares wide by 120 squares high. So this blanket will be a perfect square. The G hook is my go-to hook, but if the stitches are too tight, I might use an H hook. That will determine the size of the blanket in inches.

Let me know what you think about the pattern that I chose as well as the colors. I chose Star Trek because I seem to be on a bit of a Star Trek binge. I’ve been watching Star Trek Strange New Worlds and I just decided that I wanted to catch up on the original series which I don’t really remember that much from childhood. I’ve also been watching Star Trek Discovery, Star Trek Lower Decks, I’m going to be watching The Next Generation again and of course Deep Space Nine and Voyager. I have also been watching the movies again. I’m literally in the Star Trek world right now, so this makes perfect sense that I would want to make this blanket.

I am going to say that it is a bit hot right now and I’m not quite sure I want to be crocheting anything that’s going to make me sweat, especially since I will probably have to rest it on my legs as I crochet and that will heat me up a bit much. But I would like to work on it before it gets cold when I actually need to use it. I will update this when I start working on it.

Two Magic Pixels C2C Pixel Art Crochet

I made this blanket for my Aunt several years ago. I found the pattern from a website called Two Magic Pixels. I wrote a blog post about it.

I learned to crochet when I was no longer homeless when I turned 18 years old. Never in my life did I think I would ever make anything like this.

The last few nights I have been going through Two Magic Pixels patterns because I wanted to make another blanket for myself. Last night I went to log in to my account on their website, but I didn’t have my password available, so I clicked “forgot password” and it asked for my email address to send me a link to reset my password, but it said we don’t have an account with that email address. I had only bought a few patterns, and I know I have them on my computer, so I thought ok, that’s fine. I’ll just create a new account. When I did, it said we actually found the patterns you have bought because you used that same email address to buy patterns using Paypal. So yay for me lol.

I bought these 3 patterns and they are all in my account, although I only made the Betty Boop 007 blanket. I bought the Mini Spiderman and Mini Superman patterns because I thought they were cute and I thought I would make them, but I never did. I am considering buying a different pattern to make for myself though. I’m thinking more of a rainbow pattern or something abstract, but I do know I want to buy it from Two Magic Pixels again because they have some really cool patterns. There are a few others I would like to make, like a Buddha or a Star Trek pattern, maybe the Scooby Doo pattern lol. I just cannot commit to one.

They have so many patterns and it’s really hard to pick just one pattern. The reason I have to choose is because it took me a month to make the Betty Boop 007 blanket and it cost me $60 for all the yarn. Not to mention the fact that I have carpal tunnel syndrome, so I can only make 1 blanket, and then I won’t be able to make another one for a very long time.

I really like the rainbow flower one because it reminds me of when I was a kid in the 70’s. I can also use that as a backdrop if I decide I want to continue making videos for my YouTube channel, then I’ll have something fun to look at.

People commented in my Betty Boop videos that they wanted me to teach them to crochet like that and I’ve told them that they should go to the same channel I learned to crochet like this from, which is the crochet crowd.

Anyway, it’s a big decision because I will have to live with that pattern. I can still buy the patterns whether I make them or not, but I still want to choose one. I think I really want the rainbow flowers blanket.

Parotid Problems Part 2

I’ve had issues with my saliva glands, also known as the parotid glands. In 2013 I had to have the right parotid gland removed because there was a stone in there that was blocking the path for my saliva to enter into my mouth, so the gland was filling up with saliva, which caused it to swell up, which is very painful. Over the years my left parotid gland has gotten bigger, and had occasionally caused issues, but never this bad.

We went to the emergency room yesterday to get some antibiotics, because you can’t just go to the pharmacy for antibiotics. You need a prescription. So they told me to also follow up with my doctor so I can get the referral to a surgeon who will order all the tests so they can determine if I should have surgery and I’ll have to wait for approval from my medical insurance company. This could literally take several months. Several months that I’ll be in so much agony every day when I eat.

Eating is what causes this. So far I’ve discovered sweet and salty foods are causing my problems the most because sweet and salty foods cause you to generate saliva. Also chewing itself causes it to swell up. I googled what I can eat that doesn’t generate saliva and it said breads, fiber and oats. I had some toast and just chewing the toast caused it to swell up. So I had some malt-o-meal, which is not sweet and I don’t have to chew it, just swallow it. We have oatmeal, but it’s maple and brown sugar and I was afraid the sweet flavor works cause problems.

I have a heating pad that I place on my face to bring the swelling down. That worked great yesterday, but it’s not helping that much today. The swelling is so bad that I can’t touch my teeth when I bite down.

Here is a picture from when my right parotid gland was swollen from this same issue.

Here is a picture from after I had the surgery.

So yeah. I’ll go through that again. At least I hope so. I hate the thought of going through this again, but I’m literally going through the pain that led me to having this surgery again. So even though it’s not pleasant to look at, it’s necessary so I don’t have this horrible pain.

And don’t worry. I’ll still have glands under my tongue to produce saliva.

My Elder Scrolls Online addiction vs. EverQuest

I have had this game on my PlayStation 4 for probably 5 or more years, and I played it here and there over the years, but I never really got into it because I didn’t really understand the mechanics of the game.

Last month they introduced the 10 year anniversary of Skyrim and I bought it because I had played Elder Scrolls Online, and I wanted to see what Skyrim was like. It’s basically the same thing, but not an MMO.

The introduction of the 10 year anniversary of Skyrim made me decide that I wanted to at least try to play Elder Scrolls Online again to give it a chance, but my problem was I had too many quests going and I was kind of confused about what I was supposed to do. So I thought, let me go to Coldharbour and finish that quest which ended with me killing Molag Bal. Then it started Cadwell’s Silver, then Cadwell’s Gold which are basically the other factions. But I hadn’t finished my factions quests, so I went on a mission to finish that. It was all so confusing to me, but now I get it.

My necromancer character Ilren.

My website’s name Xanapus comes from a game very similar to Elder Scrolls Online called EverQuest, which I played for about 6 years. ESO is similar to EQ, but also very different. Like we had to download maps for EverQuest, Elder Scrolls Online have their own maps already in the game, and they have markers on the maps that tell you where everything is so you don’t have to guess. They also give you more information like what you have completed on that map, and it has a zone guide.

EverQuest didn’t really have a quest diary or journal like this when I was playing. You literally had to print the quests out and write on the paper to check things off on the quest list to keep track of your progress. I literally have a notebook with hundreds of pages in it lol. Elder Scrolls Online keeps track of everything for you, and even tells you what to do next. And they mark things on your compass which gives you the direction of the person you need to speak to or the item you have to loot or the direction of the place you need to go to.

One thing that I really love about Elder Scrolls online is that I can use a game controller. I wanted to use a game controller so bad with EverQuest, but I could never figure it out with game controllers that I bought for PC way back when. They just never worked for me and were a complete waste of money.

I still have EverQuest installed on my computer and I see that they have a quest Journal now. It’s a bit different from Elder Scrolls Online, but at least they have one. The map is pretty much the same as when I last played the game, but I did notice that they have more continents because they have so many more expansion packs than they used to.

Also the thing that really bothers me about EverQuest is that they disable most of your gear if you’re not paying a monthly fee. Elder Scrolls Online has a monthly fee service that allows you to play all of their expansions, but if you don’t pay for it, they don’t disable your gear. In order to play the expansions, you have to pay for them, which I honestly don’t mind. I’d rather not have a monthly fee. I bought 21000 Crowns which are normally $149.99 for $89.99 during their Christmas sale and I used the crowns to buy some expansions.

Another thing about EverQuest is that you had to buy spells, then memorize them to put them into your spell book, then you had to add the spell gems to the spell gems slots. With Elder Scrolls Online, you just buy your spells with skill points and those spells upgrade the more you add skill points to them.

And I love that I’m getting epic gear for rewards and I can upgrade those epic gear items to legendary with crafting if I had the components. In EverQuest you had to do so many quests and crafting for so many hours, days, even weeks or months to get 1 epic and it was a weapon. In ESO all my gear can be epic or legendary, not just my weapons.

Oh another thing is that the quests are always your level, no matter what level you are. In EverQuest if I went back to do a level 4 quest and I’m level 50, I don’t really get a good reward because the reward is a level 4 reward. Which makes it feel like you’ve wasted so much time. No matter what level I am in ESO, the rewards are always worth it, and if they’re not, then I can deconstruct the item to get the materials for crafting.

I’m not trying to mansplain, I’m just really excited about playing this game and I just wanted to talk about it. I don’t have anyone to talk about it because no one I know plays this game.

Scariest day of my life

Yesterday, October 19th, 2021, was the scariest day of my entire life.

I woke up and went to the bathroom, just like any other day. The only difference is I was having trouble urinating. It was like there was a plug in my urethra preventing the urine from coming out. Except, something was coming out. I stood up and looked in the toilet and there was a long dark, almost black stream going down the inside of the toilet. I turned the light on and I could tell it was blood. I continued urinating standing up and blood just poured out into the toilet.

I went to the living room to tell my life partner that something was seriously wrong. He went into a full on panic because this isn’t something that happens every day. I was in a state of shock, and I was more trying to calm him down rather than worry about the blood in the toilet.

We drove to the doctor’s office to see if they could see us even though today is actually when we have an appointment. They couldn’t see us, so we went home and figured we would just go to our appointment.

I had more urges to urinate, and it was painful. I went to the bathroom and continued urinating blood. Suddenly it started sputtering, and I saw several blood clots, but I continued urinating blood.

We decided to go to the emergency room. They did a CT scan and couldn’t find any reason for why I’m urinating blood. No kidney stones, no infection, no obvious visible reason. The doctor told me that it’s possible I might have bladder cancer, but I would have to go see a urologist so they could run a camera through my urethra to my bladder to look to find the issue.

Last night just before bed I urinated one last time and sudden sputtering again, several blood clots, then regular urine with no pain. This morning I woke up at 5 am to urinate and it was fine. I went back to bed and woke up at around 8:30am and went to the bathroom and everything seems to be back to normal.

This is the scariest thing that has ever happened to me in my life, and I’m 51 years old. I’ve been through a lot of drama and trauma, but this one thing that happened to me yesterday was the worst thing to ever happen.

I don’t drink soda, or alcohol. I drink coffee in the morning and then I drink water the rest of the day. That’s all I drink. So I don’t understand why this happened. Now I can’t even drink coffee because the paperwork from the hospital said no caffeine for awhile.

We go to the doctor today and I’ll show him the pictures of the blood in the toilet on my phone and give him the papers and the CD from the CT scan from the hospital and I’ll have him refer me to a urologist and get that taken care of as soon as possible. That’s not something I want to mess around with. I’ll update this blog when I get new information.

Thank you for reading.

Update October 24, 2021: I woke up this morning, went to the bathroom and it wasn’t painful, but there was blood. I went 4 days with regular normal urine, then it was back, but it was only that one time. I’ve urinated several times since then, but I just wanted to update this to say it happened again this morning. Tomorrow I’m calling the urologist to find out if they got my referral yet and if so, could we make an appointment for as soon as possible. I don’t want to wait too long to fix this issue.

Update November 1st, 2021: I saw the nurse practitioner at the urologist today. He said the CT scan shows I have an enlarged prostate, which the ER doctor apparently didn’t tell me about. I’m now taking Flomax. Not looking forward to those side effects. Anyway, they’ll run the camera to my bladder in december.

Update December 15, 2021: I went to the urologist today and they put the camera into my urethra to my bladder and there wasn’t anything wrong with my bladder. I was able to crane my head so I could look at the TV monitor and he showed me a big lump that was inside my bladder, but he said that that was my prostate pushing on my bladder. Other than that there is really nothing inside my bladder that would give anybody any worry to believe that there is anything wrong with me. As he pulled the camera out, you could see that the urethra was getting smaller because my prostate was pushing on my urethra. So no cancer. No problem.

Style Me Up i-Loom Disabled App

Today is a very sad day for me because I just discovered that the i-Loom app on my Samsung Galaxy tablet has been completely disabled. This is what I see when I open the app now. I can no longer log in to the app and use the more than 40 patterns that I have bought over the last few years.

I had a strange feeling this would happen. When I noticed that they stopped posting on all of their social media accounts, then their website was completely gone, I had a feeling that all of my patterns would eventually just disappear, or they would block me from accessing my account. And that just happened to me.

I know that a year or maybe 2 years ago they discontinued their app on Android, and it was only available on iPad. But I was still able to use the app that had been installed on my tablet, so I didn’t really see it as that big of a deal. I recently asked people on Facebook who had an iPad if they could do me a favor and install the app and see if they could create a new account. One person did install it and she told me she got this notice that you don’t have internet access, which I have gotten when trying to connect to the community and the boutique.

So, even though it is only available on the iPad now, you can no longer create an account, and I have a feeling that whoever still uses the i-Loom on their iPad will no longer be able to sign in as well.

Style Me Up has completely abandoned their brand, their app, their product, which you can still buy online. I would say that they have completely abandoned all of the people who have spend money on their product, only to take it away from them. I would imagine because they weren’t making any money on their products. I tried to do a Google search to find out any news about their company and I can’t find anything. It’s like they just disappeared off the face of the Earth.

This really sucks because I thought this was an excellent product and they had an excellent app that gave you step by step, row by row instructions for making a bracelet. There is nothing else like it anywhere in the app store. The only thing I can find is an app that allows you to create your own patterns. There is also a PC program called FBD which stands for Friendship Bracelet Designer, which I have been using for many years and I had copied all 40+ patterns that I had bought from i-Loom onto FBD, so I didn’t really lose them. I had a foreboding that this would happen and if I didn’t copy all of the patterns to the computer, then I would lose them forever.

So I am sad that they have blocked access from using their app, but I’m glad that I copied all of the patterns to the computer. Always have a backup plan.

Friendship bracelets

I’ve been working on my friendship bracelets for my Etsy shop a lot lately. I made 2 of the neon rainbow arrowheads, 2 of the rainbow arrowheads and 2 of the rainbow weaves. I made a rainbow lightning bracelet and I was about to start making the second rainbow lightning and 2 neon rainbow weaves when my life partner asked for breast cancer awareness.

My life partner asked for a total of 5 breast cancer awareness bracelets for his cousins, then I asked for names and next thing I know, he’s naming 7 people. I’m like omg lol.

So I started working on the 2nd breast cancer awareness bracelet when my hands started to hurt. I took about 2 days off and holy hell, the 3rd day my hands are in absolute agony. I have carpal tunnel syndrome, so I can only make so many of a certain craft before I have to stop to rest.

This may be a teenage girl’s craft, but I really enjoy it, that is until my hands scream for me to stop lol.

I am making these with an i-Loom using patterns I’ve found on the internet. I originally bought the i-Loom from Amazon for $25. Great purchase, but they don’t sell them anymore. The i-Loom uses an app that used to be available in the Google play app store, but it has been discontinued and it’s now only available on the apple app store.

I had used a “My Friendship Bracelet Maker” clipboard before using the i-Loom, but I switched because the myfbm only allowed you to make bracelets with 10 strands. You can make a bracelet with 30 strands with the i-Loom. I mostly make 12 to 20 strand bracelets.

Way back in 1987 when I started making friendship bracelets when I was 17, I had to attach the bracelet to my pants with a safety pin, which would create a rip in the knee of my jeans. I had to sit with my knee up to work on these and it was quite uncomfortable. I’m so glad technology has given us an easier way to make these bracelets.

Unusual credit card activity detected

When I woke up this morning, I checked my email, like I always do, and I saw this. It said it was from Bank of America and the subject was security alert unusual credit card activity detected. Great! What has life thrown at me today?

So I opened up the email and I saw exactly what you see in the image. Do you recognize all of these transactions? Declined transaction for $149.96 and approved transaction for $397.77. Uh… no I do not recognize these.

Of course, I didn’t click on anything because I wasn’t sure if this was a phishing scam. So I opened the Bank of America app on my cell phone and immediately it asked me if those were transactions that I made or if I recognize them or whatever. I went through the whole process to mark it as not my purchase, not my responsibility and they closed my credit card down and are sending me a new one.

I am the cheapest person on the planet. I would not buy myself something for $150 or $400 that’s just going to be consumed into my body and pissed into a toilet. It’s just not going to happen. And if this was a gift basket, you can bet it’s not happening. I am not paying $400 for wine that I don’t even drink. I don’t even like the taste of wine. I don’t care if someone wants wine as a gift, they’re not getting it from me because I can’t afford $400 for wine. Heck, I can’t afford $400 for anything.

I waffle on getting anything new because I know I don’t really need it. I may want something, but as long as I know that I don’t need it, I’m not buying it. And I certainly don’t need to send gifts to people that cost $150 and $400. Never. Going. To. Happen.

Thankfully the first one was declined and also thankfully the second one was still pending which means the merchant never got any money and so the bank didn’t actually lose anything.

As for my credit card. My credit card was paid off. I had a zero balance. I still had some things being charged automatically, like my Dollar Shave Club charged me $15 for a razor cartridge and a toothbrush, my website charged me $12 for hosting and there was one other charge that I can’t even remember what it was, but it is legit. But the total that my card is at now is $35 and I will be paying that off in a couple of weeks when I get paid. So you can imagine that if I’ve paid off all of my debt, I do not want to have to start over with a new debt of $400 for wine and $150 for Gourmet gift baskets. I want a $0 balance. $35, fine or zero preferable. But I am not putting myself in debt again for a gift for someone I don’t even know.

Oh and my credit card is in my wallet all the time and I never take my wallet with me anywhere. I keep my ID and my debit card for my checking account in my cell phone case. I don’t know how my credit card got compromised. The only thing I can think is that one of the companies that charges me for services was hacked and that’s how they got the credit card number and the three digit code on the back. That’s the only thing I can think. Well, now I have a new credit card coming so I have to change everything to charge the new credit card.

I hope this doesn’t happen again.

Style Me Up i-Loom

I bought this i-Loom from Amazon in January 2018. At that time I had a 10 inch Nook hd tablet that fit perfectly in there, but it stopped working and now I use my 7 inch Samsung Galaxy tab a6 Nook. It is a bit tiny, but it still works.

Style Me Up doesn’t seem to offer any help with their app, which by the way has been discontinued for Android. It’s now only available for iOS iPad. The app still works on my tablet though. My issue with the app is there are 6 duplicates of each pattern in the app and because of that, I can’t make any custom patterns.

I would love to see an app that has a simple interface that allows you to create patterns in the app and not just allow you to make bracelets from patterns they create.

I have program on my computer that allows me to do that, and I can save patterns and the image of the pattern and look at it on my tablet, but it doesn’t show me which row I’m on, I have to just remember where I’m at or put a piece of paper on the row I’m on. But it would be nice if that program is an Android app.

I copied their interface and added the pattern like this, but I had to create 48 pictures just to be able to keep better track of where I’m at in the pattern. It would be nice to see an app similar to this that allows you to insert the image of a pattern, and then tap the button to go to the next row.

The Style Me Up i-Loom is an awesome product, and I don’t understand why they have given up on it. They haven’t posted anything on social media since 2016 and their website doesn’t exist anymore. It’s such a brilliant idea, and it would be nice if there were more apps available.