Il punto di svolta (The tipping point)

March 14th, 2016 by John Morris

These days I’m learning Italian.  Why would a septuagenarian take on learning of a new language?   Well, intrepid reader, learning a new language is a stalwart weapon in the fight to keep out the Alzheimer’s. Work the brain to keep it from getting flabby I’m told.  While this is enough of a good reason for my late in life desire to parla Italiano, I have a more personal one.  

At my last visit to my family’s ancestral home of Teramo, Italy, I told my cousins (cugini) there I would be speaking Italian on my next visit.  They encouraged me, and I want to reward them for their faith.

How hard can it be?

I had many false start with books and electronic language courses.  Oh sure, I got their greetings chapters down but no real knowledge of the language.

It was time to pick up the pace, I used inheritance money from my Mom to buy a Rosetta Stone course.  I thought she’d like this idea.

That was over a year ago.  I did lessons five nights a week.  At the halfway mark on the course, I realized I’ve knew words but not how to use them.  Learning refrigerator was frigorifero and vacuum cleaner was aspirapolvere would not help when I need directions to a ristorante?

Step two was Duolingo, a web based learning tool.   It addresses the use of words over just learning of them.  I doubled my efforts with both e-courses, but still sensed I needed more.

Next I enrolled in an Italian for travelers course at Widener’s Exton campus.  Early on, I knew what I needed to learn.  How to say baffling words like “gli” – “the” when used before masculine, plural nouns starting with vowels or “Z” or “S” followed by another consonant.  Got to love the complexity of Italian.

Where am I now?  My desire to speak Italian has gained momentum.  I spend large chunks of my time each day studying; getting frustrated and going back for more.

By reaching my tipping point, I believe my working knowledge will produce full Italian sentences.  I am excited about being where I am and where I’m going.

I sense my tipping point is just ahead of me, and I plan to knock it on its culo.





The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.