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Archive for May, 2011

Monday - May 30, 2011

Podcasts This Week (May 30, 2011)

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If you enjoy our podcasts, please consider supporting ESL Podcast by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!
…………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 690 – Types of Views

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “steep” and “upper.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Special Hotel Requests.”
“When “booking” (reserving) a hotel room, the “reservations agent” (the person whose job is to process reservation requests) needs to know how large of a room is needed and when. But callers can make many other requests, too…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 296

Topics: Ask an American: driving while texting; ground versus soil versus land; as such; pupil versus people

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Common Texting Terms.”
“Most cell phones and other “mobile devices” (small, hand-held electronic devices that connect the Internet and/or a phone network) have very small “keyboards” (a set of buttons with letters, numbers, and punctuation marks, used for typing), so it can be difficult to type long messages…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 691 – Dangerous Freeway Driving

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to get old” and “to pass.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Seatbelt Laws – “Click it or Ticket.”
“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was created by the Highway Safety Act of 1970. It tries to make people safer by “preventing” (not letting something happen) “crashes” (car accidents). One of its most successful programs is…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - May 26, 2011

Good Grief!

If you know Charlie Brown, you know “Good grief!” Charlie Brown was the main character – a little boy that never grew up (got older) – in the Peanuts comic strip (picture stories that appear in newspapers). Even if you didn’t see the comic strips in a newspaper, you might have seen the Peanuts comic books, television programs, or movies.

When Charlie Brown said, “Good grief!” he was using it as an exclamation, a sound, word, or short sentence that you say suddenly, and sometimes loudly, because you are surprised, angry, or excited. Charlie usually said it because he was both surprised and annoyed (a little angry).

Some people might call “good grief” an oxymoron. An oxymoron is a combination of two words that seem to mean the opposite of each other. Here are some examples I found online: seriously funny, pretty ugly, old news, and Microsoft Works. Some say “intelligent blonde” (a person with pale yellow hair) is an oxymoron, but I might disagree: I married one!

The reason some people might call “good grief” an oxymoron is because grief is the extreme sadness we feel when someone we love has died. Not many people would call that good.

My brother, sisters, and I felt a lot of grief when our mom passed away (died). It was a difficult time, but we discovered that remembering and telling stories about Mom helped reduce (make less) our grief. Mom was a hard-working, warm (friendly and relaxed), loving, funny, and creative woman. And many of the stories we told were about her humor (ability to think that things are funny) and creativity. Let me tell you a few.

When I was young, Dad didn’t receive a large salary (monthly payment from work). As a result, we often had to scrimp (save as much money as you can). One Christmas, Mom didn’t want to spend money on a Christmas tree, so she found a tumbleweed, which was easy where we lived. A tumbleweed is a round weed (undesirable plant) that grows quickly, dies quickly, and after it dies, tumbles (rolls in an uncontrolled way) across the ground wherever the wind blows. She brought the tumbleweed into the house, flocked it (covered it with a white powder) and turned it into a Christmas tree. No one had a Christmas tree like ours that year!

My second story comes from a photo we found of a snowman sitting in a chair at a snow-covered table on Mom’s deck (wooden floor behind the house). He was wearing a cap and enjoying a plate of peppernuts (I wrote about these in The Wanderers) – one of our favorite Christmas treats. What’s interesting about this is she did it for her own enjoyment. It doesn’t get very cold where she lived, and I’m sure that this scene disappeared a short time after she took the picture when the sun came out and melted the snow. She didn’t care! She was just enjoying herself in a creative way. And I imagine she probably chuckled (laughed quietly) to herself while she did it.

Finally, the story of the bear in the picture at the top of the page. Several years ago Mom called to say that she had been cleaning out the closets (small room where clothes are stored). She said she had found some things of mine and had sent them to me in a box. She told me that I could keep them or throw them away, whichever I wanted to do. When the box came, I opened it and found a quilted, stuffed bear wearing my first pair of overalls (pants held up by cloth straps that go over your shoulders). A quilt is a blanket made from pieces of cloth. The pieces of cloth Mom used to make this quilt had come from shirts and dresses she had made for us when we were young. One of the pieces even came from the dress she wore to the hospital when I was born! I discovered later that she had made five of these bears, one for each of us children.

Good grief! Not fun, certainly, but good for us because it gave my brother, sisters, and me a reason and opportunity to remember a wonderful woman and mother.

~ Warren Ediger – creator of Successful English, where you can find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Photo by W. Ediger.

 

Tuesday - May 24, 2011

Why Does My Digital Camera Have a Clicking Sound?

Like a lot of other smartphones nowadays, my phone has a camera. When I take a picture, there is a sound that is made that is just like the sound the cameras of my youth (when I was young)  made – a long clicking sound.  In the old days, before the explosion (rapid increase) of electronic devices (small machines), there were lots of sounds made by the physical movement of a machine’s parts.  When you took a picture, there was a sound made by the shutter (an internal part of the camera) as it opened and closed rapidly.  It wasn’t something added to the camera; it wasn’t extra.  It was just a sound the machine made due to (because of) the way it was built.

Digital cameras don’t make any sound, or at least, they don’t need to.  But the makers of digital cameras add the sound you used to hear.  Why?  Mostly because that is what people are used to hearing, what they associate with taking a picture. And we are slow to change.  We want to feel comfortable with the new technology, so keeping some of the old sounds, shapes, and the “look” of previous technology has become quite common.  When you move from one page to another on an iPad, you see something that looks like a paper page turning.  For most of us, that’s what reading a book feels like, and we want to keep that experience even when it is no longer necessary.

This process of keeping some of the old to help people transition (move from one place to another) to new technology is itself old.  When we moved from a system of transportation provided by horses to the steam engines of the 19th century, the amount of power was called “horsepower,” since that was what people were familiar with.  And we continue to use that term in English, even though most of us have probably never ridden a horse and have no idea how much power could be provided by, say (for example), 140 horses.

There are many examples of this way of designing technology – think of “folders” on your computer, or putting things in the “trash” to delete them.  Can you think of others?  Are there sounds that you don’t hear anymore that you wish you did?

~Jeff

Photo credit: Canon PowerShot A95, Wikipedia CC

Monday - May 23, 2011

Podcasts This Week (May 23, 2011)

It’s a pleasure and privilege to produce ESL Podcasts for our listeners all over the world!

If you enjoy our podcasts, please consider supporting ESL Podcast by becoming a Basic or Premium Member.
…………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 688 – Ending a Business Relationship

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to be up” and “to let (someone) down.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Common Legal Clauses.”
“Legal contracts contain many common “clauses” (sections of a legal contract dealing with one particular part of the law) that are seen “over and over again” (many times). Often these clauses are just copied and pasted…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 295

Topics: Movie: 2001: A Space Odyssey; Joshua Tree National Park; kind of versus so-so versus more or less; firm versus company; to get + participle

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Watson and the TV Show Jeopardy!”
“For many years, the computer company IBM has been working on a computer that could think like humans.  In 2011, they “unveiled” (made public) a computer they call “Watson”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 689 – Listening to a Political Speech

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to cut” and “to sit back.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Political Debates.”
“In the United States, many political “candidates” (people who are running for office) participate in “debates,” which are official opportunities for people to present their differing opinions on one or more issues…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - May 19, 2011

Gay Days at Disney World

If you visit Disney World in Orlando, Florida, you would expect to see Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, and Daffy Duck. If you visit Disney World the first week of June (May 31 to June 6) this year, you will see something else: A lot of people showing their gay pride.

Gay pride events are public events where gays (men who like men romantically) and lesbians (women who like women romantically) can show their support for those in the gay and lesbian community.  Most often, we see gay-pride parades, which is when people gather and march or walk through the streets together in celebration, often with music and costumes.

The “Gay Days” at Disney World is not an official Disney World event, but Disney World welcomes this one week each year when gays and lesbians gather and bring their families.  You’ll know who these participants are because they wear red shirts so others will know who they are.  Last year, about 150,000 people attended this six-day event, which included special pool parties, a film festival, after-hour (after closing time) visits to certain parts of Disney World, special gatherings and events for kids, and more.

The “Gay Days” started in 1991 as just one “Gay Day” with 3,000 gays and lesbians in Florida gathering for the purpose of becoming more visible (easy to see; easy to identify).  For gays and lesbians who had a difficult time in their childhood or adolescence (teenage years; between 13-19 years old), gathering at Disney World is a positive experience and, they say, a way to recapture (experience again) those early years with fun and joy, instead of taunts (remarks made in anger and to make other people react negatively) and being laughed at.  By 1995, about 10,000 traveled to Disney for the day.

Today, the Gay Days span (last) six days at Disney World and rival (is about the same as) in size the famous gay pride parades in New York City and San Francisco.  Several religious groups of Jews and Christians have complained to Disney about Gay Days, asking them to move the event to after-hours only.  But the Gay Days are not officially-sanction (officially approved and supported) by the company.  Gays and lesbians simply show up (arrive) wearing red shirts and enjoy the park along with other visitors.

Are there gay pride events where you live?

~ Lucy

Photo Credit: “Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom – Gay Day – 2007″ from Wikipedia

Monday - May 16, 2011

Podcasts This Week (May 16, 2011)

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If you enjoy our podcasts, please consider supporting ESL Podcast by becoming a Basic or Premium Member.
…………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 686 – Roles Within a Family

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to let on” and “baby”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Ideal Family and the White Picket Fence.”
“What’s the “ideal” (best; what one wants to have) American family? In the past, many people would answer that question by talking about a “middle-class” (average, not rich or poor) house with a “white picket fence”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 294

Topics: American Presidents: Abraham Lincoln; to rise versus to raise versus to arise; rather than versus prefer; to tender (one’s) resignation

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Commemorating President Lincoln.”
“Abraham Lincoln is one of the most respected past presidents of the United States.  For this reason, he is “commemorated” (remembered and shown respect) in many ways…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 687 – Shopping for a Television

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “picture” and “to take up.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The TV Show The Honeymooners.”
The Honeymooners was a popular “sitcom” (situation comedy; a humorous television show with the same main characters in each episode) in the mid-1950s…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - May 12, 2011

Mac or PC?

From 2006 until 2009, many of us enjoyed the Get a Mac television advertisements from Apple Computers. Well, at least those of us who use Macs enjoyed them!

The ads featured cool, casual (relaxed) Justin Long as a Mac and stodgy (dull; uninteresting), stuffy (not open to new ideas) John Hodgman as a PC (a computer that uses Microsoft Windows). Let me give you a couple of samples from the early years, using in part  the descriptions provided by AdWeek:

In one of the first ads, PC is seen rocking out (obviously enjoying himself) to an iPod and praising (saying good things about) iTunes. Mac replies that the rest of the iLife suite (a group of computer applications) works just as well and comes on every Mac. PC gets defensive (acting in a way that shows you think someone is criticizing you) and begins to list the cool apps (applications) that he comes with. Unfortunately he can only think of Calculator and Clock.

In another ad, Mac and PC hold hands to demonstrate (show) their ability to network (connect) with each other. They are joined by a Japanese woman who represents a new digital camera. Mac and the camera speak to each other fluently, but PC, who doesn’t have the proper driver (small app needed to do something), gets confused and can’t communicate.

If you want, you can view all 66 ads at the Adweek website. We Mac users think they’re very funny!

Not too long ago, Hunch.com carried out (did) an unscientific survey (research study) to see if Mac users really were like Long and PC users like Hodgman. You can see the results here in an interesting infographic (information shown as a graphic design).

The survey reinforced (supported) many of the ideas about the people who use Macs and PCs, but it also shed light on (showed, revealed) some interesting differences. Nearly 400,000 responded to (answered) the survey. About 50% identified themselves as PC people and 25% called themselves Mac people.

In general, Mac saw themselves as hip (fashionable), liberal (open to new ideas), verbally-oriented (good with words), more adventurous, and more creative. PC people see themselves as very mainstream (part of the majority in society), conservative (not liking change or new ideas), math-oriented, and less comfortable, in general, with computers and technology.

One of the interesting things is how PC users view (think about) Mac users and vice versa (the opposite: how Mac users view PC users). PC users think Mac users seem trendy (always follow new fashions), shallow (not interested in serious ideas), or pretentious (think they’re more important than they are). On the other hand, Mac users see PC users as being rigid (unwilling to change), conformist (doing the same as everyone else) and boring.

What kind of person are you – Mac or PC? Remember, this is about the kind of person you are, not the kind of computer you use. Take a look a the infographic and see which one you are. Remember, it’s possible for a PC person to use a Mac or a Mac person to use a PC! And, I suppose (think or believe), it’s possible to be a little bit of both.

~Warren Ediger – creator of Successful English, where you can find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English and something to read during May.

Photograph “I’m Mac user” by Abdulrahman used under Creative Commons license.

 

Tuesday - May 10, 2011

Spousonomics

Economics is the study of how we produce (make), consume (use), and transfer (give to someone else) various kinds of goods (physical things) and services (actions). In recent years, there have been several books in which economists use the methods of economic analysis to explain the way society (our culture or social structure) works.  The best known of these was the 2005 book, Freakonomics, which tried to explain different aspects of modern culture and living using economics.  (A freak is a strange or unusual person, and the term (word) is usually considered an insult).  Of course, “freakonomics” isn’t a real word in English; it is a new word created from “freak” and “economics.”

Now we have a new book in this same spirit (using this same idea or same approach) called Spousonomics, which tries to understand married people and their relationships through economic analysis. (Your spouse is the person you are married to.) Part of the book includes the results of a national poll (survey; questionnaire) of married couples and their opinions on various topics. Here are some of the results:

  • 36% said that having children has brought them closer together, while 7% said it has driven them apart (separated them more).
  • 45% agreed with the statement, “There are a few things [about my spouse ] I used to find appealing (attractive; making me like someone more) and now I don’t.”
  • 56% said they had gained weight (got fatter) since getting married; 62% said that their spouse had gained weight.
  • 57% said that a typical (normal) argument lasts 15 minutes or less; 4% said it lasts more than a day.
  • 77% said that the amount of sex they have has diminished (become less and less) as they get older; 76% wish that it would not diminish.
  • 35% said that they watch (pay attention to) their spouse’s spending, while 40% said that they don’t watch it.
  • 58% had “full confidence” (were very sure) that their spouse would not cheat on them (not have a sexual relationship with someone else).

If you are married, you might want to compare your answers with what U.S. couples reported (said).  My answers are (in order): Not applicable (I can’t answer since I don’t have children), disagree, I’ve gained weight and my wife has lost weight, two hours, none of your business (you have no right to know), never, full confidence.

Finally, my favorite result: 55% said that marriage is more work than they expected before getting married. In other words (to say the same thing another way), 45% of the people were lying.

~Jeff

Photo Credit: Anillos (Rings) by Musoromana, Wikipedia CC

Monday - May 9, 2011

Podcasts This Week (May 9, 2011)

Our wonderful listeners keep ESL Podcast going. Thank you, members and donors!

If you enjoy our podcasts, please consider supporting ESL Podcast by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!
…………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 684 – Asking for Information About a Coworker

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to fill (someone) in” and “to catch (someone) up.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Employee Information a Company Keeps.”
“Businesses keep electronic and paper “files” (groups of related information stored together) about their employees. Those files include basic “contact information” such as address, telephone number, and email address, but they also include…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 293

Topics: Famous Americans: Al Capone; The U.S. Military Academy at West Point; to crash versus to shatter versus to smash; how about you? versus what about you?; bite me

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Famous College Dropouts: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.”
“Many people see graduating college as a way to improve their “job prospects” (the possibility of getting a job and the quality of job offers) or as a first step to a successful career…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 685 – Getting Feedback on Writing

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “comment” and “margin.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Extra Help for College/University Students.”
“When university students don’t understand a “concept” (idea) or are not doing well in a particular course, they can get “extra” (additional) help in many ways. University professors are required to have “office hours”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Wednesday - May 4, 2011

“Buffalo Soldiers” by Bob Marley

In today’s English Cafe 292, Jeff was nice enough to invite me back to talk about the U.S. military soldiers called “Buffalo Soldiers.” In the Learning Guide under “What Insider’s Know,” we also talked about the song called “Buffalo Soldiers” by Bob Marley.  In case you want to hear it, here it is, with the lyrics (words).  Keep in mind that Bob Marley was from Jamaica and spoke Jamaican English, so he won’t sound like the Americans you’re used to on the podcast.  Enjoy!

~ Lucy

“Buffalo Solders”
by Bob Marley

Buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta:
It was a buffalo soldier in the heart of (in the middle of) America,

Stolen from Africa, brought to America.
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival
I mean it, when I analyze the stench (strong, bad smell)
To me, it makes a lot of sense
How the dreadlock rasta was the Buffalo Soldier

And he was taken from Africa, brought to America
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival (trying to stay alive)

Said he was a Buffalo Soldier, dreadlock rasta
Buffalo Soldier, in the heart of America

If you know your history
Then you would know where you coming from
Then you wouldn’t have to ask me
“Who the heck do I think I am?”

I’m just a Buffalo Soldier
In the heart of America
Stolen from Africa, brought to America
Said he was fighting on arrival, fighting for survival
Said he was a Buffalo Soldier, win the war for America

Dreadie, woe yoe yoe, woe woe yoe yoe
Woe yoe yoe yo, yo yo woe yo, woe yoe yoe
(repeat)

Buffalo Soldier, trodding (walking on top of something) through the land
Said he wanna run, then you wanna hand
Trodding through the land, yea, yea

Said he was a Buffalo Soldier
Win the war for America
Buffalo Soldier, dreadlock rasta
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival
Driven from (pushed out of) the mainland
To the heart of the Caribbean

Singing, woe yoe yoe, woe woe yoe yoe
Woe yoe yoe yo, yo yo woe yo woe yo yoe
(repeat)

Trodding through San Juan
In the arms of America
Trodding through Jamaica, a Buffalo Soldier
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival
Buffalo Soldier, dreadlock rasta
Woe yoe yoe, woe woe yoe yoe
Woe yoe yeo yo, yo yo woe yo woe yo yoe