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Tuesday - August 23, 2016

An Actual Phone Call to My Internet Provider

A few months ago, the company that provides me with home Internet and phone service sold that portion (part) of their company to another business. Since then, there have been many news reports about service problems. I’m one of the customers who has been affected (felt the change or influence).

Below are excerpts (short sections) from an actual phone call I made to my Internet provider (company that provides Internet service) to report my problem. The same company provides my landline (regular phone; not cell phone). The person who took my call was named “Kimberly.”

Kimberly:  What is the problem you’re having?

Me:  My Internet has been slow for the past couple of months. This morning, service was cutting in and out (sometimes working, sometimes not). And even when I have service, it’s running (operating) very, very slowly.

Kimberly:  [Silence.]

Me: So I’m calling to get my Internet service fixed.

[It takes about six minutes to access my account using my PIN (Personal Identification Number used for security purposes) and for me to give her a phone number she can call me at in case we’re disconnected (call ends unexpectedly).  I repeat my phone number three times before she gets it right.]

Kimberly:  Okay, what happens when you have no service?

Me:  Nothing happens. When I have no service, I have no service.

Kimberly:  I mean, are you not getting a dial tone (the stuttering (short, repeated) sound you hear when you pick up a telephone when its not in use)?

Me:  I have FiOS (a type of Internet service using “fiber-optic” wires).  I don’t have dial-up (using a telephone line) Internet service.  And I’m not calling about my home phone service.  I have a problem with my Internet service.  That’s what I’m calling about.

Kimberly:  [Long pause.]  Do you have pets?

Me:  Huh?  What?

Kimberly:  Do you have pets?

Me:  No, I don’t have pets.

Kimberly:  Can you tell me what kind of router (device needed to send digital data, required for Internet service) you have?  I am going to troubleshoot (solve common problems using established steps).

[The call has already lasted 20 minutes and from what I’ve read about other customers’ experiences, I was confident that troubleshooting over the phone would not help. Others have reported being on the phone for three, four, or more hours going through troubleshooting.]

Me:  I’d like to get a service call (repair work done at the location).

Kimberly:  I’m supposed to troubleshoot, but if you request it, I can schedule it.

Me:  Yes, please order a service call.

Kimberly:  Okay, they can be there Monday at 8 a.m. [Six days later.]

Me:  All right.  If they don’t show up (arrive as scheduled), is there a number I can call?

Kimberly:  You can call the number you just called. I have to tell you that if they don’t arrive by 8 a.m., the window (the time interval (beginning and end time) for arrival, usually for work to be done) is expanded (made longer) to 5 p.m.

Me:  Excuse me?  I don’t understand.

Kimberly:  If they’re not there at 8 a.m., then they will be there anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Me:  Are you serious?

Kimberly:  Yes.

Me:  [Long pause.]  Okay, thanks.

The_Scream_Pastel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ Lucy

Image Credit:  “The Scream” From Wikipedia


Sunday - August 21, 2016

Podcasts this Week (August 22, 2016)

icon_51812We 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!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1236 – Dressing Inappropriately for Work

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 “cut-offs” and “tank top.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “School Dress Codes.”
“In the United States, school dress codes are often ‘controversial’ (with strong opinions on both sides of an issue), especially among students who…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 569

Topics: John Muir and The Sierra Club; The Ma and Pa Kettle Movies; every versus each; Christmas/New Year break at colleges and universities; jinx

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “United Daughters of the Confederacy.”
“The United Daughters of the Confederacy is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1894. Its members are the female…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1237 – Disagreements About Spending Money

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 “barely” and “to splash the cash.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Types of Formal and Informal Bank Accounts.”
“Banks offer two main types of formal accounts: ‘checking accounts’ that are used for daily expenses, and ‘savings accounts’ that are used to save money…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - August 16, 2016

#FirstSevenJobs

1393535551_28397c1f8e_zMarion Call had a problem.

The 24-year-old singer-songwriter from Juneau – the remote (far from other places) capital of Alaska – was writing a song about work. And she needed more ideas.

Call turned to (went for help to) Twitter and asked her followers, “What were your first seven jobs?” She used the hashtag (label to identify a topic) #FirstSevenJobs and included her own:

#FirstSevenJobs: babysitting, janitorial (cleaning offices, etc.), slinging (informal: serving) coffee, yard work (taking care of area around a building or buildings), writing radio news, voice-overs (speaking on videos or TV without being seen), data entry (putting information into a computer)/secretarial.

Call got the help she was looking for, and more. #FirstSevenJobs quickly became a meme – an idea that spreads quickly from person to person, especially on the Internet. Many thousands of people answered her question. Magazines and websites wrote articles about #FirstSevenJobs. And researchers used #FirstSevenJobs information to compare the jobs teenagers work today with teenagers’ jobs from almost 50 years ago. All of this . . . in about 10 days!

Call says her favorite answer came from Buzz Aldrin, an American astronaut. He was one of the first two people to land on the moon and the second to walk on it. Here are his first seven jobs:

#FirstSevenJobs: dishwasher, camp counselor (responsible for children at a summer camp), fighter (military airplane) pilot, astronaut, commandant (officer in charge of a U.S. Air Force school for pilots), speaker, author.

Sheryl Sandberg, a top Facebook executive and someone we would consider very successful, didn’t get off to a good start (begin with success): she was fired from her first job as a babysitter. The parents were upset because she opened the door for a stranger and accepted and paid for a pizza that no one had ordered. She got a second baby-sitting job, but was fired from that one, too, because she fell asleep on the job.

Call has been fascinated by the responses because they describe “each person’s really tiny journey . . . You get to see thousands of strangers reflecting (thinking) about that journey – jobs they were good at, hated, learned what it was like to have a bad boss, what it was like to be a good boss, what it was like to be your own boss . . . you get a picture of a human (person) behind each one [each answer to her question].”

Here are my first seven jobs:

#FirstSevenJobs: yard work, construction work (building houses and other buildings), furniture factory, mail room clerk (responsible for the mail at a small manufacturing company), delivery truck driver, night watchman (nighttime guard at a school), radio announcer.

What were your first seven jobs? What did you learn from them? I wrote about what I learned from one of mine in What did you learn from you first job?

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

Photo by Bobby Acree used under Creative Commons license.


Sunday - August 14, 2016

Podcasts this week (August 15, 2016)

icon_51812Is your limited English standing in your way? Do you want to improve your English now?

Learn English even faster with the help of the Learning Guide. In it, you’ll 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 1234 – Traveling With Pets

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 “board” and “cabin.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Traveling with Pets.”
“Travelers who cannot ‘leave their pets at home’ (travel without their pets) must ‘comply with’ (follow the rules of) many restrictions if they want to travel…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 568

Topics: Famous Americans – Duke Kahanamoku; The Quiz Shows of the 1950s; terms used for family favorites; when versus what time; based on versus on the basis of

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Surf Music and the California Sound.”
“Orange County, California is almost ‘synonymous with’ (has the same meaning as; is thought of in connection with) ‘surf culture,’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1235 – Joining a Secret Society

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 “the chosen few” and “to amount to.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The ‘Know Nothing’ Movement.”
“The ‘Know Nothing’ ‘movement’ (an organized effort to change society in some way) was an American ‘political party’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - August 9, 2016

A Gold Medal in English

unevenbarsThis week much of the world is, like I am, watching the Olympic games in Rio. It seems like every Olympics has its own problems and scandals (doing something wrong that causes the public to have strong negative reaction). But somehow, when you actually start watching the athletes compete, you forget about all of that and just enjoy the magic of our fellow (similar to us) human beings doing some really extraordinary things.

My favorite sport to watch is gymnastics, perhaps because my father was a gymnast (a person who competes in gymnastics) when he was in high school and so he loved watching those events on television. Gymnastics involves lots of different activities, including swinging on the uneven bars (see photo) and moving and jumping on top of a balance beam (a long piece of narrow wood about four feet (125 cm) off the ground).

If you need a reminder of some of the English vocabulary used to describe the Olympics, check out (take a look at) our episode on that topic from a few years ago. (And if you want to learn a little Portuguese from our very own webmaster, Adriano Galeno, take a look at his Brazilian PodClass.)

Lucy described some of the more popular sports during the 2014 Sochi Games, so I thought I would talk a bit about the two “new” sports for this year’s games, sports that are actually returning to the Olympic games after a long absence (time away from something).

Golf is returning to the Olympics after being dropped (removed) after the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Missouri. We spoke about golf briefly here, but as you probably know, it is a game that uses long sticks called clubs that are used to hit a small ball (called, logically, a “golf ball”). The ball is placed on a tee, a small piece of plastic or wood that holds the ball up in the air, a few inches from the ground. The object (purpose) of the game is to hit the small balls into a hole that is located several yards from where you begin hitting the ball.

The other sport returning this year after many decades (a period of 10 years) is rugby. Rugby is not popular in the United States, and I would guess that most Americans have never even seen a complete game of rugby (that would include me). From what I understand (which is very little), it involves a bunch of men and women (but not together) running around a field with a ball that looks like an American football. From the photos I’ve seen, it seems like there is a lot of hugging (people putting their arms around each other), but I could be wrong about that part. Technically, there are different kinds of rugby: the one being played in this Olympics is called “rugby sevens” since there are seven players on each team who play for periods of seven minutes. If you want to know more, don’t bother asking the average American, who I’m sure doesn’t know any more than I do.

What are your favorite sports to watch in the Summer Olympics?

~Jeff

Image credit: Pinterest


Sunday - August 7, 2016

Podcasts this Week (August 8, 2016)

icon_51812Get the full benefits of ESL Podcast by getting 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 1232 – Intimidating 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 know full well” and “to pack it in.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Common New Hire Orientation.”
“When new employees ‘come on board’ (begin working at a company), they typically are required to participate in certain ‘orientation’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 567

Topics: American Authors – Gertrude Stein; Famous Songs – “Puff the Magic Dragon”; sport versus workout versus exercise; to come across versus to stumble upon; debaucherous behavior

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Dungeons and Dragons.”
Dungeons and Dragons is a popular ‘role-playing game,’ or a game in which each player pretends to be a particular character and uses words…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1233 – Improving Flexibility and Mobility

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 lift” and “to squat.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Mary Lou Retton.”
“Mary Lou Retton, often referred to as America’s ‘Sweetheart’ (a term of endearment; a word used to show affection and love for someone)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - August 2, 2016

Danger! Dumpster Fire!

25440096000_d166951dbb_z-2In the U.S., our national elections are less than 100 days away. For the next three months we’ll read and hear a lot of what some call “politalk” – political talk – in news stories, TV ads, speeches, and interviews.

We’ve heard a lot of this before, but occasionally some words become part of the news. Here, for a little election year fun, are a few interesting and unusual political words that people have been talking about.

Let me begin with a handful of (a few) ordinary, everyday political terms. A candidate is someone who wants to become a mayor, governor, member of Congress, president, or something else. Candidates belong to parties – groups of people with similar ideas about what to think and what to do. Candidates and parties campaign – say and do things to try to get people to vote for them. You can use campaign as a verb and a noun.

Dumpster fire” is a meme – a word, idea, fashion style, etc., that quickly spreads from person to person, often through the Internet. It appeared a few years ago in stories about sports and politics and has already been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

A dumpster – see the photo – is a large metal container used for trash. “Dumpster fire” describes a very confusing situation, especially one that is handled (managed) very badly. We might say of a sports team that “their season began as a dumpster fire and never got any better.” More than once this year, people have said about one or two candidates: “His campaign is a dumpster fire!”

In the U.S., Supreme Court justices (judges) don’t usually say anything about politics. This year one did, and many were upset by it. One of those people said that the justice’s comments went “beyond the pale.”

“Beyond the pale” is an old idiom. Many years ago, pale was used to refer to a wooden stake, or pole, used to hold up grape plants. It came to be used as a fence of pointed stakes and, from that, to refer to a boundary, a line that marks the edge of a state or country or an area of land that belongs to someone.

The person who said the justice’s comments went “beyond the pale” meant that the comments went over, or beyond, the boundary of what was acceptable. In other word, a Supreme Court justice should not do something like that.

A short time ago, a well-known American businessman got very angry with a candidate and called him a “jagoff,” but almost no one knew what he meant. Those who did probably live in or come from western Pennsylvania, especially around the city of Pittsburgh. It is local slang (informal language used by a small group of people) that describes a person who is stupid and inept (not good at doing anything) and it’s been used in that area for many years. No one is sure how it got started.

Vice President Joe Biden recently polished off (made clean or shiny; prepared for use) one of his favorites descriptions and called a statement (something said) by one of the candidates “a bunch of malarky!” Malarky is a 100-year-old word that means lies (untruths) and exaggerations (statements that make something seem better, larger than it really is) or nonsense (statements that aren’t true or that seem very stupid). Our vice president is one of the few people who still use it.

Are there any interesting or unusual words used during political campaigns where you live? Or have you seen or heard any other English political words that you’re curious about?

A final note, a reminder: this blog post has been about political language, not politics. It’d be kind of cool if the comments were, too.

~ Warren Ediger – creator of the Successful English website: I help business and professional people improve their English and help students prepare to succeed in an English academic environment.

Photo by Goat4421 used under Creative Commons license.


Sunday - July 31, 2016

Podcasts this Week (August 1, 2016)

icon_51812We 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!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1230 – Expressing Disapproval  of Elected 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 reflect” and “regular folks.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Occupy Wall Street Protest Movement.”
“In 2011, the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ ‘movement’ (an initiative to change and improve society) began as people ‘protested’ (objected to)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 566

Topics: Famous Americans – Linus Pauling; The Texaco Star Theater and Milton Berle; squalid versus sordid; on my own versus by myself; postseason competition

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Six Flags Over Texas.”
“Six Flags Over Texas is a popular ‘theme park’ (amusement park; a large area that people visit to go on rides and enjoy other types of entertainment)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1231 – Feeding a Large Family on a Small Budget

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 “staple” and “day-old.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Common Types of Store Savings.”
“‘Bargain hunters’ (people who want to buy something at a low price) have many ways to save money at stores….” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - July 26, 2016

Is That Our Daughter in the Mail?

800px-Uniformed_Letter_Carrier_with_Child_in_MailbagSpeak to anyone who has worked for the United States Postal (Mail) Service and they’ll tell you that a lot of strange things have been sent in the mail. Perhaps the strangest were children.

In 1913, the U.S. post office (mail service) announced that it would begin a service called “parcel post” to send items that were too big to fit into an envelope. A “parcel” is a package wrapped in paper or other outer covering ready to be transported or mailed. According to post office policy at the time, the only living things that could be sent were bees and bugs (insects). However, it’s human nature (natural for people) to push the envelope (extend the limits of what is possible or allowed), so people started sending all types of things. In 1914, the first child was sent using parcel post.

This child and all of the others sent during this period were not packed (placed and sealed) in boxes. Instead, most of them had mailing labels (pieces of paper with the address of the person mailing and receiving the item written on it) and stamps sewed (attached using thread) or pinned (attached using a long, thin piece of metal) to the children’s clothing. At that time, the weight limit for mailed packages was 50 pounds (22.7 kilograms), so as long as the children weighed less than that, their parents thought it was worth a try (might be possible).

Why did parents mail their children?

Postage (the amount paid to mail) was much cheaper than buying a train ticket. Some of the mailed children either lived in rural (in the countryside) areas or were sent to relatives (family members) who lived in rural areas. The only people who visited these isolated  (far from other people and cities) places on a daily basis (every day) was the mail carrier (person delivering the mail), so the child could quickly and reliably be “delivered.” In those days, mail carriers were also considered trusted and upstanding (honest and respected) members of the community and could be relied upon to look after (care for) the children being sent. (I’m not maligning (insulting; speak badly of) mail carriers today. It’s just that most people don’t have those same expectation today.)

Many traveled only short distances. The longest trip was taken by a six-year-old girl sent by her mother in Florida to her father’s home in Virginia, about a 800-mile (1290-kilometer) journey (trip). Little Edna was just under 50 pounds and cost 15 cents in postage, about $3.85 in today’s dollars.

Mailing children was not a common practice (didn’t happen a lot), but there were some well-publicized (made so many people knew about it) cases. In 1920, the post office finally officially made it against policy (the rules) to send people in the mail.

What is the strangest thing you’ve ever received or have heard of being sent through the mail?

~ Lucy

From Wikipedia, Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution


Sunday - July 24, 2016

Podcasts this Week (July 25, 2016)

icon_51812Is your limited English standing in your way? Do you want to improve your English now?

Learn English even faster with the help of the Learning Guide. In it, you’ll 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 1228 – Designing a Product Line

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 (one’s) feet wet” and “trade.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “White-Label Products and Services.”
“‘White-label’ products and services are products and services that are ‘manufactured (produced), created, or…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 565

Topics: Movies – ­Ben-Hur; Carlsbad Caverns National Park; duty versus responsibility; Creedence Clearwater Revival

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Whitewashing.”
“In ‘Hollywood’ (the American film industry), ‘whitewashing’ refers to the practice of ‘casting’ (selecting actors to play particular roles)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1229 – Telling Others to Go Away

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 wave (someone) off” and “to get lost.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Common Children’s Games.”
“During ‘recess’ (breaks in the school day when children play outside) and ‘free time’ (time without scheduled activities)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide