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Archive for November, 2012

Thursday - November 29, 2012

Want To Live Longer?

It probably goes without saying (is not necessary to say) that active people live longer than sedentary (spending a lot of time sitting down, not moving or exercising) people. Thanks to three recent research studies, we now know a little more about what and how much we need to do to live longer.

The first study followed (paid attention to) 7500 people in England for ten years. Every week the people being studied recorded (wrote down) the number of hours of activity and level of intensity (amount of energy required) for each activity – mild (using a small amount of energy), moderate, or strenuous (using a lot of energy).

Researchers found that any kind of activity increases life expectancy (length of time people are expected to live) and that more strenuous activities increase life expectancy the most.

The second study, in Denmark, followed 5100 bicycle riders for 18 years. Every week riders recorded how many hours they rode and how strenuous their rides were. Riders who rode regularly and rode harder (with more energy), lived four or five years longer than casual riders.

Finally, researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the U.S. found that people who followed the government’s recommendation – 150 minutes of moderate activity, such as brisk (full of energy) walking, per week – lived almost three-and-one-half years longer than sedentary people.

The NCI researchers also made two other interesting discoveries: first, overweight people lived longer with moderate exercise, even if they didn’t lose weight; and second, people who exercise at a low level (10 minutes of walking per day) added almost two years of life expectancy. Even a little bit of activity helps!

The government’s recommendation comes from the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. They recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days per week to become and remain healthy.

But, you ask, what’s a moderate activity? When you’re doing a moderate activity, you’ll be able to talk while you’re doing the activity. If you’re doing a strenuous activity, you’ll only be able to say a few words before you have to take a breath. If you want to know if the activity you’re doing is moderate or strenuous, try the “talk test.” Stop occasionally during the activity and try to recite (say something you know) a poem or song or talk to a friend. If you can do it easily, the activity is moderate; if you’re breathing too hard to do it easily, the activity is strenuous. The goal: moderate activities that are almost strenuous.

Any activity, or combination of activities, that increases your heart rate (how fast your heart beats) will help. People I know use brisk walking, jogging (to run slowly), bicycle riding, ballroom dancing, swimming, jumping rope, or hiking (a long walk in the mountains or countryside).

Which are you – active or sedentary? I try to be as active as possible. I ride my bicycle several days a week and work in my yard a lot. Both are moderate, and occasionally strenuous, activities.

Note: If you’re interested, the three studies I mention are described in more detail in Can Housework Help You Live Longer?

~ Warren Ediger – English tutor/coach and creator of Successful English, where you can find practical suggestions, such as How to read more: A lover’s guide, for better English.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Tuesday - November 27, 2012

Teaching Teacher

I don’t remember the boy’s name anymore. It was more than twenty years ago and I’ve had so many students since then, it’s hard to keep track (remember; be aware of something).

He sat in the last row (line of seats), had somewhat unkempt (not combed; not neat) blond hair, and was slightly overweight. That I remember for sure.

I was a student teacher (someone training or preparing to be a teacher) at Humboldt High School, one of St. Paul’s – how shall I say it? – “lowest performing” schools (schools where students did poorly). I was assigned (given the task) to teach a Spanish I class to a group of seventh, eighth, and ninth graders (roughly 13- to 15-year-olds).

I was far from (not even close to) being a very good teacher during the 12 weeks I spent at Humboldt, but no one jumped out the second-story (floor or level) windows of the classroom, so that, I thought, was something (a small accomplishment).

The boy in question (who I’ve been talking about) never seemed to like my class. In fact, he was the kind of student who always has this somewhat (slightly) impatient (not willing to wait for something) or even hostile (angry; mean) look on his face.

Worse still (even worse), he had the habit (would often) of asking questions almost in the form of a challenge (trying to disagree with or defeat someone), as if to say, “Really? I don’t think so.”

Teachers, like mothers, are supposed to love all of their children equally, but we all know this isn’t true. There were students whom I really disliked, and who I am sure disliked me.

Well, I disliked this kid. As a new teacher, I didn’t appreciate (like) the fact that he was always asking questions. I thought he was trying to trip me up (make me make a mistake) or show the rest of the students how dumb I was.

I answered his questions, of course, and tried to smile as I did so (as I answered them). But inside (in my thoughts), I wished (hoped) that he would just stop showing up (coming) to class.

Finally, my 12 weeks at Humboldt drew to a close (ended), and I had my last class with my students. We had a little party, I think, and I said good-bye to the students.

As class ended, everyone slowly left the room except for the boy. When everyone else had gone, he walked up to me and gave me an envelope with a card inside. He just smiled, said “Thanks a lot!” and left.

Standing alone now in the classroom, I opened the envelope and pulled out (removed) the card. It said something along the lines of (something like this, but not exactly):

Dear Teacher,
You are the best teacher I have ever had.
Thank you!

As you can imagine, I was stunned (really surprised). I stood there speechless (without words), amazed at how wrong I was about this boy.

I never saw the student again. My time as a student teacher ended, and the following year I took a job at another school.

Sometimes we just don’t know what is going on in the minds of those around us. We think we know, but we do not.  If we are lucky, we are given the chance to discover just how wrong we are before it’s too late.

~Jeff

Monday - November 26, 2012

Podcasts This Week (November 26, 2012)

Get the most out of each podcast by getting the Learning Guide today!

We designed the Learning Guide to help you learn English better and faster. Get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 846 – Donating Blood

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 “needle” and “faint.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Requirements of Donating Blood.”
“To “maintain” (keep up) the quality of the blood in “blood banks” (collections of different types of blood that will be used when needed), organizations that have…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 374

Topics: Famous Americans – Jimi Hendrix; the melting pot metaphor; U.S. state numbers and nicknames; by any stretch of the imagination; to play it fast and loose

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Jimi Hendrix’s Gravesite.”
“Many of Jimi Hendrix’s fans were very sad when he died in 1970. Hendrix was first “buried” (for a dead body to be placed in the ground) in a simple…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 847 – Experiencing a Blackout

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 blow a fuse” and “surge.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Notable Blackouts.”
“The two most “notable” (important and worth noticing or talking about) blackouts in the United States “occurred” (happened) in the…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - November 22, 2012

“U Can’t Stuff This”

Here, in the U.S., we are celebrating Thanksgiving today. It’s a holiday for being with family and being grateful for all of the good things in our lives. One thing we are always thankful for at ESL Podcast is our fantastic listeners.

I thought you might like another song for Thanksgiving (also see this and this). This is a version of the very popular 1990 hit song by MC Hammer called “U Can’t Touch This.”

This version is called “U Can’t Stuff This.” Traditionally, before turkeys are cooked, people put stuffing, a mixture of bread, seasonings, vegetables, and other things inside of the turkey to enhance (improve) the taste.  If I were a turkey, I probably wouldn’t want to get stuffed, either.

I hope you enjoy this, and if you’re reading and listening from the U.S., have a happy Thanksgiving!

~ Lucy


U Can’t Stuff This

Can’t stuff this
You can’t stuff this
Can’t stuff this

My, my, my, my ladies think I’m so hot (attractive)
Makes me think it’s time to trot (to walk at a fast pace, like a horse)
And strut (walk in a way to get noticed) around the farm (area of land used for growing crops and raising animals)
This hayseed (seed from hay, a type of dried grass that horses eat) here can’t do me no harm

Feels good when you know you’re down (informal for being in agreement with something)
A super tom (male) turkey you can’t sell by the pound
And I’m known, as such (in this way)
And this is one turkey you can’t stuff

You can’t stuff this
I told you farm boy
You can’t stuff this
Yeah, I keep on living, you know
You can’t stuff this
Put down the roasting pan (large pan with a cover used for cooking)
Break it down!

Stop!  Turkey time.
I’m fresh and I’m juicy
You, like that, coming here with a recipe (cooking instructions)
So move, out of my face
And get a big meal some other place

For Thanksgiving, hold on
I’m plump (fat; with a round shape) but I’m fit (physically healthy)
And I know what’s going on
Like that, like that
Baby, I’m a free-range (animals raised in natural environments) Cadillac (brand of expensive American cars)

So you know, you want too much
And this is a turkey you can’t stuff
Put down the seasoning (salt, herbs, and spices put on food to make is taste better)
You can’t stuff this
Get your hands off my giblets (the liver, heart, gizzard, and neck of a chicken, usually removed before cooking)

You can’t stuff this
Want a piece of me (want to fight), sucker (jerk)?
Can’t stuff this

Tuesday - November 20, 2012

No Learning English at Work, Please

Many businesses worry about their employees wasting time (not doing what you’re supposed to be doing; being unproductive) at work when they use the Internet. A common solution is to install (put in) special software that will block (prevent; stop) you from accessing (looking at) websites the software deems (decides; determines) are a waste of your (and the company’s) time. Sometimes the software gets carried away (goes too far; does too much), however.

I recently went to a mechanic (someone who fixes cars) in order to get an oil change (when you put in new motor oil into your car’s engine). Like a lot of places nowadays, the garage (place where you get your car fixed) had wifi for its customers, so I fired up (turned on) my laptop and tried to navigate (go to) a few websites.

Since it was a workday (a day I normally work; Monday through Friday), I needed to check out the ESL Podcast website for a few things. But when I tried to go to eslpod.com, I wasn’t allowed to access it. Instead (in place of getting it), I got a notice (see photo) which said:

Block Reason: Forbidden Category “Education.”

Forbidden means not allowed, not permitted.

Apparently, websites related to education were considered a waste of time by the software.

So, folks (guys; informal for “people”), be careful about learning too much at work. It might be considered a waste of time by your company’s software.

~Jeff

Photo credit: Jeff McQuillan

 

Monday - November 19, 2012

Podcasts This Week (November 19, 2012)

We are grateful to our members and donors, because we are only able to produce this podcast with the generous help of our listeners. If you enjoy our podcasts, please consider supporting ESL Podcast by becoming a Basic or Premium Member today!

As  a member, you’ll get the Learning Guide with each new episode. We designed the Learning Guide to help you learn English better and faster. Get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 844 – Dealing With Corrupt Officials

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 arrest” and “on the take.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Whistleblower Protection Act.”
“A “whistleblower” is someone who tells the media or the public about something wrong or dishonest that…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 373

Topics:  The Chicago Seven; American Authors:  Horatio Alger; murderer versus killer versus assassin; …and all; so forth and so on

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Chicago: The Musical.”
“In 2002, a film called Chicago won many awards and received a lot of attention around the world. What some people may not know, however, is that that movie was based on a…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 845 – Dropping Out of College

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 “degree” and “to blow.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Non-Traditional College Options.”
“Some people who drop out of college “regret” (feel bad about; wish one hadn’t done something) their decision later in life. They wish they had more experience and education…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

 

Thursday - November 15, 2012

Being Cool

I have a question for you.

What adjectives come to mind (what adjectives do you immediately think of) when you hear the word “cool” used to describe someone?

Researchers recently asked a similar question to almost 1,000 people between the ages of 15 and 56. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times newspaper, the research was prompted (make someone decide to do something) by a disagreement among friends. One of them was trying to decide if a certain American actor and director was cool. But the friends couldn’t agree about what makes a person cool, so they designed a research study to find out what people think about when they hear the word “cool” used to describe other people.

Cool, the idea of low in temperature but not cold, has been around (existed) for many years and is a part of standard English. And since 1728, cool has been used informally (casually) to describe large amounts of money, as in “I just made a cool $1,000.”

The New Oxford American Dictionary tells us that using cool to say that people or things were fashionable or impressive began in the 1920s. It was first used by African Americans and became popular, together with jazz, in the 1940s. In the 1950s and ’60s it was popular among beatniks – a group of young people who were non-conformists (didn’t think or act like most people).

Like a lot of popular slang, cool became uncool (unpopular) after a while. But it has returned, and today it’s often used informally to express positive feelings or agreement. Here are a few examples:

  • “That’s cool (excellent, impressive, exciting)!”
  • “That’s a cool (creative, appropriate, bold) plan!”
  • “I’m cool (not upset about or agree) with that.”
  • “Is it cool (okay, acceptable) if I sleep here tonight?”
  • “How cool (impressive, exciting) is this?” (Can be a question or statement.)

When people use cool to describe other people, the research study discovered that they use it in two very different ways. The first kind of cool person is someone who appears to be confident and successful. They’re attractive (enjoyable to be with), likable, and make people around them feel comfortable.

The second kind of cool person is quite different. We would use it to describe James Dean, an American actor who was killed in an automobile accident when he was 24 years old (see his picture above). For many people, Dean represents teenagers of the 1950s who had become disillusioned – disappointed with life because it was less good than they hoped it would be. He played such a teenager in his famous film, Rebel Without a Cause (a rebel is someone who refuses to do something in the way people want them to.). People who are cool in a rebellious way appear confident, but they don’t usually show their feelings. They often act detached (not connected with other people) and aloof (not friendly).

This idea of cool also appears among jazz musicians. In the LA Times article, the director of jazz studies at New York University says that “[jazz] musicians still want to act cool and act separate, to follow their own path rather than [the path of culture]” and to be individualistic (do things their own way and not worry about other people’s opinions). Miles Davis, a famous jazz trumpet player, is often described as cool in this way.

What adjectives come to mind when you hear the word “cool” – to describe people or anything else?

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

Photo of James Dean courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

 

Tuesday - November 13, 2012

Opening Weekend

If you go out today and ask an Angelino (someone who lives in Los Angeles) when “opening weekend” is, he’ll probably ask you, “For which movie?”

If you ask a Minnesotan when opening weekend is, he’ll instead ask you, “For pheasant (a type of bird) or deer?

In Los Angeles and in most parts of the country, opening weekend usually refers to the first weekend a movie is released (shown in the theaters).

In Minnesota and neighboring (nearby) states, opening weekend refers to the first weekend of the fall (autumn) when you can go out and hunt (try to kill) certain kinds of animals.

Hunting is part of the culture of many areas in the Upper Midwest, a part of the country that includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, and Iowa (and maybe parts of Michigan).  Although my father was never a hunter (and neither am I), I had lots of friends who hunted deer and other animals each year. My uncle hunted deer with a bow and arrow (see photo). A good friend of mine would (used to) hunt pheasant with a rifle.

Hunting may seem cruel (mean; unkind) to many people, but hunters say that it actually helps keep the animal population from getting too big. (Animals probably have a different opinion.)

Hunting is still mostly a man’s sport; you’ll find very few women in a hunting party (group of hunters). But although hunting is supposed to be for tough guys (men who are strong), many hunters try to provide themselves with a little comfort by building deer stands to keep themselves warm during the cold Midwest hunting season (time of year).

A deer stand is a place you can sit and wait for the deer to walk by. It can be as simple as a small chair, but more elaborate (complicated; complex) deer stands are like little houses, with doors, windows, heaters, and a place to eat!

The problem with deer stands is that some men build them on public (government) land (property) without the government’s permission (saying it is okay). The stands sometimes are abandoned (left without anyone taking care of them) and often kill the trees they are attached (connected) to.

As a result (because of this), officials (government workers) in some states have started to crack down (to punish) on the owners of these illegal deer stands, especially the larger stands. Hunters can now be fined (punished by being made to pay money to the government) for building deer stands on government land.

So, when is opening weekend?

For the latest James Bond movie, it was last weekend. For hunting deer with a rifle (large gun) in Minnesota, it’s this weekend.

Both involve guns, but only one will have beautiful women.

~Jeff

Photo credit: Hun bow, Wikipedia CC

Monday - November 12, 2012

Podcasts This Week (November 12, 2012)

Find out for yourself why so many listeners are learning even more English with the Learning Guide.

We designed the Learning Guide to help you learn English better and faster. Get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 842 – Taking a Standardized Test

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 measure” and “to bubble in.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Army Alpha and Beta Intelligence Tests.”
“During the first World War, the United States Army needed a way to assess the intelligence of “recruits” (people who had been persuaded to join the Army) so that…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 372

Topics: Famous Americans – Aimee Semple McPherson; Famous songs – “Turkey in the Straw”; marriage versus wedding versus wedlock; otherwise; pronouncing contractions

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Growth of Imitation Meat.”
“If there is one thing that Americans love, it is meat. Whether it is chicken, “beef” (meat that comes from cows), or “pork” (meat from pigs), Americans…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 843 – Passing Through Airport Security

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 “scanner” and “ray.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about the “Trusted Traveler Program.”
“People who travel “frequently” (often) spend a lot of time waiting in lines at security and “customs” (the place where bags are checked to make sure travelers are not bringing items not allowed into a country)…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - November 8, 2012

Are You a Classic Workaholic or an Engaged Workaholic?

You probably know someone who is a workaholic, a person who works very hard and works long hours compulsively (without being able to stop). When they’re not working, they may feel guilty, believing that they should be working and, if they don’t, they’ll fall behind (not have completed as much work as he or she should have). They may also feel restless, not being able to relax and always wanting to be doing something. These classic (traditional) workaholics are motivated by (driven by; want to do this because) external (outside of your body or mind) rewards, such as more money and admiration from others, or because they are afraid of bad consequences if they don’t work so much, such as losing their job or being thought of by others as lazy or incompetent (not able and knowledgeable). As you might have guessed, classic workaholics also suffer from health problems because of the stress (anxiety; feelings of nervousness) they’re under (they are experiencing).

But do you also know someone who works a lot and for long hours, but is very happy doing it? Some psychologists (professionals who study the mind) call these people “engaged workaholics,” people who have a healthy and positive passion (strong emotional feeling) for their work. (“Engaged,” in this case, means having your full attention and involvement.) The engaged workaholic may work hard, but he or she is not likely to burn out (ruin their health because of working too much) like classic workaholics. Rather than being under stress while working, engaged workaholics are happier when they’re working.

Not surprisingly, some scientists say that having control over the work helps determine whether you’re a classic or engaged workaholic. If you’re a CEO (Chief Executive Officer; main manager) of a company, you have a lot of demands on you (many requirements for your attention or action), but you also have a lot of control. If you have more control, the work may be more interesting and engaging. On the other hand, if you are in a demanding job with little control over what and how you do it, that’s a situation ready-made (made for) classic workaholism.

These ideas are not new, of course. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who is originally from Hungary but who immigrated to (moved to to live) the U.S., has written a lot about the concept (idea) of “flow,” a mental state (way for your mind to be) where you’re completely involved in doing something that makes you feel energized (with a lot of energy) and happy, and time slips away (goes by without you realizing it). That activity may be anything, but usually you’re learning something new. If your work gives you flow, then it’s no wonder you’re an engaged workaholic.

Are you an engaged workaholic? Do you know anyone who is? Are there any activities at work or in your leisure (not working; relaxing) time that gives you flow?

~ Lucy

Picture Credit: Detail from “Labor” by C.S. Pearce, Library of Congress, PD