ESL Podcast Home ESL Podcast Store
HOME > BLOG > Archive for the 'Life in the United States' Category

Archive for the 'Life in the United States' Category

Tuesday - December 16, 2014

Her Life Is Complete

3849731221_8b1eeeeab1Sylvia had always dreamed about being a mother. She was 49 years old and thought her dream would never come true when she received a phone call. Would she be willing (say yes), the caller asked, to take care of four children? The children had been neglected (not taken care of) by their mother. As a result, they had been missing school and sleeping on the streets or with other homeless people.

The children had been moving from home to home for more than a year because no one wanted to take care of all four of them together. Sylvia agreed to become a foster parent (someone who takes someone else’s child into their family without becoming their legal parent) for the three girls and one boy. “I went from zero to four overnight,” she said. “It was a big change. But what else could I do? Those children needed me.”

Foster children are minor (younger than 18) children who are taken care of by foster parents. Some are placed in foster care voluntarily (without someone saying they have to) because their parents can’t take care of them. Others are taken from their parents and placed in foster homes because they are in danger of physical or psychological abuse (cruel or violent treatment).

Often grandparents or other relatives (family members) become foster parents for needy children. But frequently people who are not part of the child’s family become the foster parents and take care of these children. Usually children are placed in foster homes by the government or a social-service agency (an organization that helps people with special needs).

Many children are placed in foster care for a while and then adopted (to take someone else’s child into your home and become the child’s legal parent). This process usually takes about four years. More than 100,000 foster children in the U.S. are waiting for a family to adopt them, and about 50,000 are adopted every year.

The idea for foster care in the U.S. began about 150 years ago with Charles Brace in New York City. Brace was concerned about homeless and neglected children who were living in the streets and slums (areas in very bad condition) of New York. From 1853 to about 1890, he found families to take care of more than 120,000 of these children.

For Sylvia, becoming a foster mother wasn’t the end of her story. Last summer, the children’s mother was killed. And a few months later, Sylvia officially adopted Rebecca, Giovanni, Olivia, and Mary as her own children. “This love is different from anything I’ve experienced,” Sylvia said. “I really feel now that my life is complete (as great as it can possibly be).” Her dream of becoming a mother had come true.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site.

Credit: Sylvia’s story is adapted from a story by Sandy Banks in the Los Angeles Times.
Photo by publik15 used under Creative Commons license.

 

Thursday - November 27, 2014

These Ducks Can’t Walk

450px-Lame_ducks_-_geograph.org.uk_-_241029“This week, the lame ducks are returning to Congress for their last bit of legislating (making laws). But no one seems too excited to see them.” That was the lede (or lead; the first sentence or paragraph) for a news story in the Washington Post last week.

Other newspapers and websites echoed (repeated) those feelings in their headlines (the title of a news story):

  • Lamest Lame Duck (Politico)
  • How Lame Will The Lame Ducks Be? (The Atlantic)
  • Don’t Let Lame Ducks Spend Your Money (American Spectator)

We all probably know what a duck is. But, a lame duck? If you know the word “lame”, you might say that a lame duck is a duck that can’t walk because its foot or leg is weak (not strong) or injured (hurt) – like the duck in the photo.

You’d be right, but in politics, “lame” means something different. Let me try to explain. In the U.S., our national elections (when we vote) are always early (near the beginning) in November. But the president and Congress – members of the Senate and House of Representatives – don’t take office (begin work) until later, in January. Each session (work year) of Congress begins on January 3rd, and a new president takes office on January 20th.

Do you see the problem?

Between election day and January 3rd or 20th, people who were not reelected (elected again) have to go to work, but they have no real power because their jobs will soon end. In a very short time, someone else will have their job. These people are the lame ducks.

An American newspaper first used the word “lame duck” this way in 1863 during our Civil War. In 1932, Will Rogers – an American cowboy and a very funny man who became a popular performer and writer – suggested his own definition. He wrote that a lame duck Congress is “like where some fellows (men) worked for you and their work wasn’t satisfactory (good enough) and you let ‘em (them) out, but after you fired (told them they had to leave their job) ‘em, you let ‘em stay long enough so they could burn your house down.”

This situation may seem strange to people from countries where politicians begin their terms (time in political office) shortly (very soon) after they are elected. But it’s actually better in the U.S. today than it used to be. Before 1933, the president and Congress began their terms in March. The 20th Amendment (change) to the U.S. Constitution (the highest law of the government) moved the beginning of the terms to January, where they are today.

I guess you could say that we haven’t eliminated (gotten rid of) the lame ducks, but we have shortened their lives.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site, where you’ll find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Information source: Washington Post.
Photo (edited) courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Thursday - November 13, 2014

These Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Music

2007 Appalachian String Band Festival at Camp Washington-Carver, Clifftop WVIf you want an unforgettable drive, drive west from Washington, D.C., for about one hour, turn onto Skyline Drive, take it to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and drive to the end. These two roads follow the Blue Ridge Mountains for almost 600 miles (965 km). And if you drive them, you’ll experience one of the most historic (important to history) and beautiful areas in the eastern U.S.

You can’t drive fast here – the speed limit (how fast you can drive) is lower than usual – but you wouldn’t want to. Every turn in the road shows you something new – rugged (rocky) mountains and pastoral (farm-like) valleys (land between mountains) with waterfalls, rivers, and lakes. Forests and fields (areas of open land) of colorful wildflowers come to the edge of the road. And if you look carefully, you may see deer, bears, wild turkeys, and other wild animals.

One thing that sets these roads apart (makes them different) is that the area around them is treated as a historical museum. Historical places and buildings have been protected and taken care of so people can enjoy them as they were originally (from the beginning) and learn from them. When you drive these roads, you drive through history.

If you open your car window and listen carefully as you drive, you may hear something else that sets this area apart – the music. These hills are alive with the sound of music.

The hill music can be difficult to describe. It’s old-time music, some of it brought by immigrants from Ireland and Scotland. It’s string-band (see the photo) music. It’s bluegrass music. It’s the music of the people who live here. And they love to make it.

You can hear the music on street corners and in barber shops (where men get their hair cut). Evenings and weekends you can find people gathered on someone’s front porch (area in front of a house with a roof but no walls) or in someone else’s barn (large farm building), making and enjoying music.

Chris Wohlwend recently wrote about his visit to a popular gathering place called The Red Barn. It was a very casual gathering, he writes. Admission (cost to get in) is free. And everyone is welcome. Many of the people bring food to share with everyone else.

When it’s time to start, the musicians pick up their instruments and, in the words of one of their popular songs, “make them sing.” Any musician is welcome to “sit in” (participate; take part), and many do.

The Red Barn has about 100 seats (chairs), and on the night Wohlwend went, about 75 people were there. During the performance, some listened, some danced, some sampled (took a small amount of) the food, and others visited with (talked to) friends. A dog wandered (walked casually) through the crowd from time to time, and a young boy leaned (rested) against the stage (raised area where the musicians sat), fascinated by (extremely interested in) the fiddle (violin) player.

At the end of the evening, Wohlwend wrote, after almost everyone had gone, one of the men picked up his fiddle and began to play one of his favorite songs alone, “oblivious (not aware) that the barn was empty. He was playing for his own enjoyment.”

If you’d like to look at Wohlwend’s article, which includes photos and a link to one of the songs he heard, you can find it here.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site.

String band photo courtesy of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

Tuesday - November 11, 2014

Let’s Party American Style

AsolocupI’ve recently come across (seen without looking for it) a couple of reports about American-themed (style) parties in other countries. The idea is to decorate, eat, drink, and play games that are stereotypical (a widely believed but too simple idea) of Americans and their celebrations. People attend these parties dressed like Americans — or at least what they think Americans look like — perhaps in cut-off shorts (short pants made by cutting off the pant legs above the knee, usually from jeans) and t-shirts, team jerseys (uniform shirts) of American basketball, football, or baseball teams, and baseball hats or cowboy hats.

The food served at American parties is also common American food, although not always the food real Americans actually would serve at parties. Among the things served are popcorn (made by cooking corn kernels (seeds) in hot oil and adding butter and salt), cupcakes (small, individual cakes), and hamburgers.

And, of course, there has to be beer. Apparently (it seems that) the most important part of having an American party is to have red Solo cups. Solo is an American brand of disposable (used once and thrown away) plates, utensils (knives, forks, and spoons), and plastic cups.

Most Americans would be surprised that people from other countries have identified these red plastic cups to be so, well, American. In fact, there is nothing special about these cups, to our way of thinking (from our point of view). The main reason they are so often used at parties is because they are cheap and they’re relatively large. They are large enough to hold a good amount of beer (16 ounces) and they are fairly sturdy (not easily broken) for a disposable cup. There is no particular reason for the cups to be red; it’s just the company’s way of distinguishing (separating themselves in people’s minds) its product from those of other companies. But because of its association with American parties, some companies are now selling red Solo cups on websites and in stores abroad (in foreign countries), precisely so they can be used for American parties.

The red Solo cup even has its own song. Popular country music singer Toby Keith released (made available to the public) a song in 2011 called “Red Solo Cup.” It’s a tribute (something done to honor or appreciate something) to the cup, and if you must hear it, you can see the video for it here. It’s truly a dreadful (terrible) song. I normally wouldn’t pass judgement (give an opinion), but it really is a bad, bad, bad song. You have been warned.

If you have had or have gone to an American-themed party, tell us about it.

If we were to have a party based on the country or culture you live in, what is the one thing that the party must have?

– Lucy

Photo Credit: Asolocup from Wikipedia

Tuesday - November 4, 2014

How Much Does a Free Library Book Cost?

Town_Library,_Peterborough,_NH“Time is money” is an old saying in English, meaning of course that your time is valuable. The time you spend doing one thing is time you are not spending doing something else, something that might give you more money or benefits.

Most of us don’t think about the time it takes us to travel to places as being part of the “price” or cost of using their products or services. For example, if you want to borrow (get something from another person to use temporarily) a book from a public library in the United States, you don’t need to actually give any money to the library. The book is “free.”

But is it really free?

In order to borrow a book (and I’m talking now about paper books, not an electronic ones), you have to get in your car, get on the bus, or walk in order to get to the library. The trip therefore costs you both time and, if you drive or take a bus, money. And since time is money, we can think of the effort of going to the library in all cases as a having a certain “price.”

So borrowing a “free” book from the library does in fact cost you something. Now, generally speaking, the more expensive something is, the less likely you are to buy it. As price increases, sales (things sold) decrease.

This means that if you live a very long distance from the library, you are less likely to pay that “price” to use it, and will therefore borrow fewer books.

Studies on public library use have found exactly that: the farther (greater distance) you lived from a public library, the less likely you are to borrow and read books from the library.

Communities that have more (and better) libraries do, in fact, read more, and children in those communities do better at reading in school! The reason is simple: when you lower (decrease) the price of something, more people will “buy” it. Living closer to a library decreases the cost of using it, and increases your likelihood (chance; possibility) of using it.

This relationship holds true (is true) for many different kinds of services. A recent article in Time reported on the average (typical) distance Americans live from certain kinds of people, businesses, and services. The article didn’t mention this relationship between access (the ability to get to or to use something) and the amount that people visit these places, but it is interesting to think about how the “price” of getting to these places influences how much they are used.

Here are some typical distances found in the article that are true for at least 50% of all Americans (distances are given sometimes in miles, sometimes in minutes needed to travel by car):

  • Mom – 30 miles. This is true for married Americans, and means that the average (married) American lives within 30 miles of his or her mother.
    >> I live 1,985 miles from my mother, since I’m in California and she’s in Minnesota.
  • Body of water – 60 minutes. This would include living near a lake or an ocean.
    >> I live eight minutes from a body of water (the Pacific Ocean).
  • Starbucks – 20 miles. This is true for 80% of Americans, but the distance is much closer for those living in big cities like Los Angeles.
    >> My nearest Starbucks is 1.1 miles from my house. There are more than 25 Starbucks within just five miles of where I live, and probably close to a hundred within 20 miles!
  • YMCA – 5 miles. The YMCA is a well-known, low-cost place with gyms and swimming pools.
    >> I live 2.6 miles from a YMCA.
  • McDonalds – 3 miles.
    >> I live 2.3 miles from a McDonald’s, very close to the national average. But I almost never eat there, so here even a low price doesn’t get me to buy!
  • Gun Dealer – 10 miles. A gun dealer is a person or store that sells guns for hunting or other uses. An amazing 98% of all Americans live within 10 miles of a place that sells guns.
    >> I don’t know how many miles I live from a gun dealer, and hope I never need to get a gun!

How far do you live from your Mom, a Starbucks, and a McDonalds?

~Jeff

Image credit: Town Library, Petersborough, New Hampshire, site of the first free public library in the United States, Wikipedia

Thursday - October 30, 2014

Waiting For The Great Pumpkin

GreatPumpkinForty-five years is a long time to wait for anything. But that’s how long Linus has been waiting for the “Great Pumpkin” to appear.

Linus is one of the characters from the popular Peanuts comic strip (picture stories that appear in newspapers). Listen to him tell his friend Snoopy why he’s been waiting:

On Halloween night the “Great Pumpkin” rises out of the pumpkin patch (garden) that he picks as the most sincere (honest, truthful). Then he flies through the air bringing toys to all the good children in the world. Just think, Snoopy, if he picks this pumpkin patch, you and I will be here to see him!

Linus is sure he’s right. But his friends aren’t. Charlie Brown, his best friend, thinks Linus is confused (not able to think clearly):

Charlie: I can’t believe in the “Great Pumpkin” because I’ve never seen him!
Linus: But he exists (is real). I tell you! On Halloween night he rises out of the pumpkin patch, and flies through the air!
Charlie: I think you have him confused with Santa Claus.
Linus: Would I confuse the sun and the moon? Would I confuse NBC with CBS (TV networks)? Would I confuse the American League (group of baseball teams) with the National League? Would I?
Charlie: (to himself) I can’t stand (accept or put up with) it!

Lucy is sure that Linus’ problem is much worse than being confused:

Lucy: Stupid*! Foolish*, that’s what it is! Stupid and foolish!
Linus (writing to the “Great Pumpkin”): Dear Great Pumpkin – Halloween will soon be here. We are all looking forward to your arrival.
Lucy: Ridiculous*!
Linus (writing) Next week you will rise out of the pumpkin patch, and fly through the air.
Lucy: Absurd*!
Linus (writing) You will bring presents to all the good little boys and girls in the world.
Lucy: Preposterous*!
Linus: I have tried to be good all year long, and hope that you will bring me lots of presents.
Lucy: Crazy*! Completely crazy!
Lucy (as Linus puts on his coat and prepares to take his letter to the mailbox): Outrageous (shocking)! Insane*! Totally and completely insane!

Linus hasn’t convinced (to make someone believe) his friends about the “Great Pumpkin,” but after arguing with them and waiting for all these years, he has learned one thing:

(Talking to himself) I should have known better … There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people … religion, politics and the “Great Pumpkin”.

After 45 years, the “Great Pumpkin” still hasn’t appeared. But a television special – It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – has. And it is rerun (played again) every year. So every year we wait with Linus, watch the television special, and hope … that this will be the year.

* Vocabulary note: stupid, foolish, ridiculous, absurd, and preposterous all have the idea of being silly or unreasonable; ridiculous adds the idea of “very”; absurd and preposterous add the idea of “completely”. Crazy and insane suggest mental problems.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site, where you’ll find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Peanuts comic strip conversations from www.peanuts.com.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Tuesday - October 28, 2014

“Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett

Friday is Halloween, the unofficial holiday when children and adults dress up (wear makeup and costumes) to attend parties or to go trick-or-treating (going from one house to the next asking for candy). (Jeff also talked about Halloween in this blog post).

Every year as Halloween rolls around (approaches), radio stations start playing a 1962 novelty (fun or funny song, not to be taken seriously) called “Monster Mash.”  The song in sung from the perspective (point of view) of a mad (crazy) scientist who has created a monster (scary and dangerous creature). One day, the monster gets up and begins doing a dance. The dance becomes very popular and many other monsters attend a party given by the mad scientist to do this new dance. Very silly, right?  But, it is a very popular song on Halloween.

The singer of the song, Bobby Pickett, imitates (tries to sound like) the voice of Boris Karloff, an English actor best known for his 1930 films, including his portrayal of (playing the role of) Frankenstein in Frankenstein (1930), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939). Boris Karloff had a very deep voice, very recognizable (easy to distinguish from other voices), and he went on to play many roles (acting parts).

This song has become associated with Halloween, and if you don’t hear it played on the radio, you’ll hear it played at a Halloween party.  No one really knows what the dance — the “Monster Mash” — looks like. Maybe it looks a little like the “Mashed Potato.” You’ll have to use your imagination to picture how a monster can make his — or her — feet do that.

Lucy

 

“Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett

I was working in the lab (laboratory, where experiments are done) late one night
When my eyes beheld (past tense of “behold,” an old-fashioned word for “saw”) an eerie (frightening) sight (thing that one sees)
For (because) my monster from his slab (large, thick piece of stone), began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

He did the Mash, he did the Monster Mash
The Monster Mash, it was a graveyard (outdoor field where dead people are buried) smash (popular thing)
He did the Mash, it caught on (became popular) in a flash (very quickly)
He did the Mash, he did the Monster Mash

From my laboratory in the castle (large house where kings and queens live) east
To the master bedroom where the vampires feast (eat a lot)
The ghouls (ghosts) all came from their humble abodes (homes)
To get a jolt (electric shock) from my electrodes (something attached to the skin to deliver an electric shock)

They did the Mash, they did the Monster Mash
The Monster mash, it was a graveyard smash
They did the Mash, it caught on in a flash
They did the Mash, they did the Monster Mash

The zombies (walking dead people) were having fun
The party had just begun
The guests included Wolfman,
Dracula, and his son

The scene was rockin’, all were digging (enjoying) the sounds
Igor on chains, backed by (accompanied by) his baying (howling) hounds (dogs)
The coffin (box where dead people are placed before being buried)-bangers (hitters, like with a drum) were about to arrive
With their vocal group, “The Crypt (underground room for dead bodies)-Kicker Five”

They played the Mash, they did the Monster Mash
The Monster mash, it was a graveyard smash
They played the Mash, it caught on in a flash
They did the Mash, they did the Monster Mash

Out from his coffin, Drac’s voice did ring (sound loudly)
Seems he was troubled by just one thing
Opened the lid and shook his fist (raised his closed hand in anger) and said
“Whatever happened to my Transylvania Twist? ”

It’s now the Mash, it’s now the Monster Mash
The Monster mash, it’s a graveyard smash
It’s now the Mash, it caught on in a flash
They did the Mash, it’s now the Monster Mash

Now everything’s cool (okay), Drac’s a part of the band
And my Monster Mash is the hit of the land
For you, the living, this mash was meant, too
When you get to my door, tell them Boris sent you

Then you can Mash, then you can Monster Mash
The Monster Mash, and do my graveyard smash
Then you can Mash, you’ll catch on in a flash
Then you can Mash, then you can Monster Mash

Tuesday - October 21, 2014

Scalping Dinner Tickets

Jacques_Lameloise_DSCF6580Your favorite band is coming to town. You call, wait in line, or go on the Internet right (immediately) when the tickets go on sale (become available for purchase) hoping to snag (get something difficult to get) some before the event is sold out (without any remaining tickets).

We’re all familiar with this process even if we haven’t tried to get concert (music performance) tickets, but can you imagine going through this to eat at a sought-after (in demand; wanted by many people) restaurant?

Some chefs (professional cooks), tired of people making reservations (appointments to eat) that end up (result) as no-shows (not arriving when planned) or last-minute (close to the planned time) cancellations (announcing that a planned event will not happen), have instituted (put in place; started) a ticket system.

Like going to a concert or show, eating at their restaurants requires a “pre-paid” (paid in advance of the event) ticket. Some chefs say that last-minute cancellations can result in 40% of their tables going empty (without visitors/users). With tickets, they say, that does not happen. Of course, only the most well-known or respected chefs can pull this off (be successful with a plan).

This ticketing system was invented (created) by a Chicago chef named Nick Kokonas in 2011. A ticket to his theme (based on one subject) menu meals costs about $300. The menu changes every four months, so people can buy season tickets (tickets to attend each event during a period of time), just like they would for the symphony (large orchestra of musicians, usually playing classical music) or the ballet (a type of classical dance). Other restaurants charge about $100 for a complete meal and tickets sell out quickly.

Some who criticize this system say that hard-to-get tickets for restaurants have been sold by scalpers (people who resell tickets at a much higher price) similar to concert tickets at exorbitant (unreasonably high) prices.

I don’t have a very sophisticated (knowledgeable) palate (appreciation of flavors), so fine dining (eating at high-quality and fancy restaurants) isn’t usually my cup of tea (not usually what I prefer). I doubt I’ll be buying any of these dinner tickets soon.

Are there top or celebrity chefs where you live, and would you consider buying a ticket to one of their restaurants?

– Jeff

Photo Credit: Jacque Lameloise from Wikipedia

 

Thursday - October 16, 2014

The Musician and The Writer: A Return Visit

ayerslopezMr. Ayers (pronounced “airs”) and Mr. Lopez have been friends for almost ten years. Some of you may remember their story from The Musician and The Writer. In it, I described their story as “a story about dreams and broken dreams and triumph (success) over broken dreams.”

Ayers was a promising (showing signs of future success) young musician who dreamed of playing in a professional orchestra. When he was 19, he began to study at the Julliard School, one of the world’s best music schools, in New York.

Ayers’ dream didn’t last long. He had a mental breakdown (became very depressed, anxious) and had to leave school. His condition grew worse and worse, and he ended up in Los Angeles, a street person (without a home) living under a freeway bridge.

Lopez, a newspaper writer, met Ayers while taking a walk in downtown Los Angeles. They became friends and he told Ayers’ story in a series of newspaper articles and a book – The Soloist – that became a movie.

Earlier this year, Lopez continued Ayers’ story and wrote about his battle in the Los Angeles Superior Court against a doctor’s recommendation to take anti-psychotic medication, medicine that would control his mental illness. Ayers argued (strongly gave his opinion) that drugs like these had caused very bad side effects (unexpected results) for him years earlier.

Lopez wrote that it was difficult for him to listen to the arguments. Part of him wanted Ayers to win. But the other part wanted to see if the medication might “bring him relief (freedom from his illness), clarity (clear thinking) and peace.”

The Court decided that Ayers had to take the medication. So he did.

Lopez writes that he began to see positive results from the medication a few weeks later. Ayers became “softer around the edges (easier to be with), more focused (able to pay attention), and more lucid (able to think clearly).” And there were none of the side effects that Ayers had feared (been afraid of).

Lopez and one of Ayers’ friends who used to work for the Los Angeles Philharmonic (orchestra) recently visited Ayers at the rehab center (place to treat mental illnesses) where he lives now. Ayers had prepared a musical concert for them, and when he finished, his friend said, “I’ve never heard him play so well.”

Ayers seems to be doing better. He’s improved enough that he is allowed to leave the center from time to time. One Sunday he went to church with one of his sister’s friends and played his violin for the people who were there. “With all due modesty*,” he told Lopez, “I brought the house down (made the people excited, happy).”

Ayers will always have to live with his illness. “I’ve got my problems, but I wanna (want to) be free,” he told Lopez. “I wanna be back out there, using every moment as if it’s the most precious (valuable) thing in the world. I don’t have any time to waste.”

Mr. Ayers’ dream continues.

* Some people use “with all due modesty” when they want to talk about something they have done but don’t want to sound too proud (satisfied) about it.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site where you will find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Photo courtesy of Awesome Stories.

 

Tuesday - October 14, 2014

It’s Snowing . . . in L.A.?

IMG_0404I live in a strange town. Quite often, I’ll drive around and see large yellow signs that Angelenos (people who live in Los Angeles) know is a directional (showing right or left, up or down) sign to a filming location. The signs use code names (not real names), so you’re unlikely to see one that says “X-Men” or “Modern Family.” And if you follow them to the location, you’re just as likely to find a shoot (filming) for a boring commercial as for a TV show or movie.

Driving around town, you can also easily spot (find) filming locations by looking for a concentration (having many in one location) of trailers, the large enclosed trucks used for hauling (moving heavy things) filming equipment and as dressing rooms (rooms for changing clothes) for the stars or actors. Sometimes one of these shoots is in my neighborhood, so I’m seldom (rarely) surprised to see those signs or trailers when I drive or walk by. However, I had a surprise last week.

Last Friday, I was driving past my neighbor’s house a few streets over (past my house) and I saw a large crane (large mechanical arm; see photo) and several large trucks. That wasn’t so surprising, but I slowed down to see what the crane was doing. The crane was moving around the roof of my neighbor’s house spraying a white substance (material). When I looked more closely, that white material covered their lawn (grassy area in front of their house) and their trees. It was snowing in Los Angeles!

I noticed that on one of the trucks was the name of the business responsible for this weather phenomenon (special weather occurrence): Snow Business Hollywood. Apparently, there is an entire company devoted to (for the purpose of; intended for) creating winter snow scenes for TV shows and movies. That’s what I guess was happening to my neighbor’s house.

Anyone who films in Los Angeles is required to get a filming permit (written permission) and the permission of the property owner. Many home and business owners will rent out their properties for a price for a short time for a shoot. I guess my neighbor decided that their house would look good in snow.

Living here, I’m not sure what to expect next — perhaps dinosaurs roaming (walking around over a large area) my street or an alien invasion (creatures from outer space coming to take over or take control)? At least life is never boring.

– Lucy

Photo Credit: by Lucy Tse