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Tuesday - July 19, 2016

The Mountains Called; He Went

IMG_2634The U.S. has more than 130,000 square miles (about 340,000 square kilometers) of national parks, at least one in every state. They are cared for (operated; maintained) by the U.S. National Park Service (NPS), which will soon celebrate its 100th birthday.

Yosemite, one of the most popular, is in the Sierra Nevada, or Snowy Range (group or line of mountains), in California. Ansel Adam‘s photos and John Muir’s books and articles have introduced many to Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada and played an important part in the beginning of the NPS.

Muir, an immigrant from Scotland, once wrote that “The mountains are calling, and I must go….” He lived alone for 15 years, observing, experiencing, and writing about the Sierra Nevada. Today’s blog post is from The Yosemite National Park, an article he wrote for The Atlantic magazine in 1899. I have made some changes to his article to make it easier to read.

Of all the mountain ranges I have climbed, I like the Sierra Nevada the best. Though extremely high and rugged (rough), it is welcoming and easy to explore. Its beauty invites a visitor on and on, higher and higher, delighted and fascinated. Filled with divine (God-like) light, everything you see glows (shines with light), and every plant, animal, or rock beats (like a drum) with the heartbeats of God.

The Sierra seem to get more light than other mountains. The weather is mostly sunshine, made even more beautiful by occasional magnificent (beautifully impressive) storms. Nearly everything shines, from base (bottom) to summit (top)—the rocks, streams (small rivers), lakes, glaciers (slow-moving sheets of ice), waterfalls, and forests. It could easily be called the Range of Light, not the Snowy Range, because it is white only in the winter, while all the year it is bright with light.

Yosemite National Park – 36 miles (58 km) long and 48 miles (77 km) wide – lies in the center of the Sierra Nevada. The famous Yosemite Valley (land between mountains) lies in the heart of it. The Valley includes the beginnings of the Tuolumne and Merced rivers, two of the most musical streams in the world; uncountable lakes and waterfalls and smooth silky meadows (grassy areas); the noblest (majestic; dignified) forests; the highest granite domes (rounded tops of mountains); the deepest canyons (narrow rocky valleys); snowy mountains rising into the sky twelve and thirteen-thousand feet (3700-4000 m), with avalanches (snow falling down a mountain) roaring down their long white sides; water rushing noisily through narrow canyons; and glaciers working slowly and silently in the shadows to create new lakes.

Nowhere will you see the impressively beautiful work of nature more clearly side by side with the most gentle and peaceful things. Nearly all the park is filled with deep silence. Yet it is full of pleasant company, full of God’s thoughts, a place of peace and safety in the middle of the most impressive beauty and activity, a new song, a place of beginnings, full of lessons about life, mountain-building, never-ending, unchanging, unbreakable; with sermons (messages from God) in stones, storms, trees, flowers, and almost human-like animals.

But to try to put all this into words is a hopeless task. The simplest sketch (drawing, or a description of a thing) of each part would need a whole chapter in a book. No amount of space, however small the writing, would be large enough. I can only begin to strongly encourage good travelers to come to the feast (meal of celebration).

You can read all of Muir’s article here: The Yosemite National Park.

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

Photo of Yosemite Valley by W. Ediger


Sunday - July 17, 2016

Podcasts this Week (July 18, 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 1226 – Describing Sounds

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 “here goes” and “chain.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Jack Foley and the Art of Foley.”
“Jack Foley (1891-1967) ‘left his mark on’ (became well known and remembered for) the film industry…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 564

Topics: American Authors – Mary Roberts Rinehart; Famous Songs – “I’ll be seeing you”; to dispense, wedgie, and on principle; to get on with (something), to get along with (someone), and in a nutshell; semi

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Howcatchems.”
“In a traditional detective story, a ‘crime is committed’ (someone does something that breaks the law) and then the ‘detective’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1227 – Altering Clothing

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 take up” and “to grow out of.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Getting Rid of baby Clothes.”
“Children grow quickly, but it can be difficult to know what to do with the clothes and toys that they ‘leave behind’ …” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - July 12, 2016

Today is National (Something) Day!

Pecan_pie_slice_(cropped)Today is National Pecan Pie Day. Personally, I hate pecan pie (see photo), so I’m not going to celebrate it.

You may be wondering, as I am, why there is a National Pecan Pie Day and why it is on July 12th.

Apparently (It would seem), the companies that grow and sell pecans want to remind everyone to buy their product (what they sell), although I was unable to find the history of this “national day” or what is so special about July 12th that we have to celebrate it today.

Of course, most Americans have no idea today is National Pecan Pie Day, because it is not a “real” holiday.

Over the last several years, nearly every day of the year is called “National Something Day,” often as part of some marketing (attempts to sell something) scheme (plan) by companies to sell more of their products.

Did you know that July 9th was National Sugar Cookie Day? Neither did anyone else, but according to this website, which lists all of these bogus (false; not real) “national days,” it was.

Sometimes these silly (stupid; foolish) national days are supposed to be fun. For example, according to one website, August 11th is “National Presidential Joke Day,” when (I think?) the president is supposed to tell a joke. Or perhaps we’re all supposed to tell a joke about the president. No one really knows.

Not satisfied with a single day, some companies and causes (groups of people in favor of certain ideas or policies) have taken over entire months, so we get things like “National Heart Month” (February),  “National Novel Writing Month” (November), and (my favorite) “National Sarcastic* Awareness Month” (October).

Yes, there’s even a National Cat Day. It’s on October 29th.

~Jeff

*Sarcastic means to say one thing when meaning the exact opposite in order to be funny. An example (for me) would be: “I can’t wait for National Cat Day this year!”

Image credit: Wikipedia


Sunday - July 10, 2016

Podcasts this Week (July 11, 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 1224 – Setting Timers and Alarms

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 time” and “to buzz.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The CONELRAD Emergency Broadcast System.”
“The CONELRAD Emergency Broadcast System was intended to be used as a way to send messages to ‘the American public’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 563

Topics: The Black Soxs Scandal; Classic TV – The Flintstones; census-designated place versus community versus unincorporated community; to mean well and to bend the rules; pit crew

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Bobby Socks and Bobby Soxers.”
“A ‘bobby sock’ is a small, usually white sock that was very popular among young girls in the 1940s and 1950s…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1225 – A Good Samaritan

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 “(one’s) own fault” and “deed.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Good Samaritan Laws.”
“Good Samaritan laws are ‘enacted’ (made into law) to protect people who help others ‘with good intentions’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - July 5, 2016

Put Another Nickel In

AMI_Multi-Horn_High_Fidelity_200_Play_Jukebox_-_The_Richard_Hamilton_Exhibition_-_Tate_Modern,_London*Put another nickel in
In the nickelodeon
All I want is having you
And music, music, music

That song, Music, Music, Music by Teresa Brewer, became a #1 hit in 1950 and sold more than one million records. I thought of it recently when I walked past a nearby Rocky Cola restaurant, a throwback (something similar to something that existed in the past) to the restaurants of the 1950s, and saw the jukebox inside.

When I was in high school, if you and your friends wanted to listen to popular music you often went to your favorite cafe (small restaurant that served light meals and drinks) and listened to it on a jukebox, a coin-operated machines for playing music. Teenagers spent many hours sitting in cafes, drinking Cokes or milkshakes (a drink made out of milk and ice cream), and listening to their favorite music. Just like in the television program Happy Days.

Jukeboxes were large, brightly decorated music-players (photo 1). Each one held a number of plastic records (circular discs for storing music) and a device for selecting and playing them.

Most records held one song. To play a song, you put a nickel (five-cent coin) into the jukebox, found the song number on a list of song titles, pressed the buttons on the jukebox for the song – a letter and a number, like D3 – and the jukebox found the record with your song and played it.

diner-jukeboxIn some cafes, a special extension of (addition to) the jukebox (photo 2) made it possible for you to choose the music you wanted from your table or at the counter (long flat area for serving food) you sat at to eat.

Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb, also invented the first technology for recording music and other sounds. But it was Louis Glass, a San Francisco bar owner described as a “wild-haired inventor,” who created the first jukebox in 1889. It used Edison’s technology for playing a recording and required a nickel to play one song. Rather than the high-quality speakers of later jukeboxes, Glass’s customers had to use listening tubes, similar to a doctor’s stethoscope (instrument for listening to a patient’s heart or breathing), attached to the jukebox. Only four people could listen at the same time.

The popularity of jukeboxes grew during the early part of the 20th century and was greatest from the 1940s through the mid-1960s. Thousands of them were made by companies like Wurlitzer and Seeburg. In the 1940s, 75% of the records produced in the U.S. went into jukeboxes.

Only two companies – one in the U.S. and the other in the U.K. – make jukeboxes today, mostly for throwback restaurants like Rocky Cola. If you’d like to learn more about jukeboxes, check out How the Jukebox Got Its Groove.

* A nickel is a five-cent coin; a nickelodeon is a coin-operated piano or jukebox, the topic of the blog post.

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

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia Commons and Dave’s Computer Tips.

 


Sunday - July 3, 2016

Podcasts this Week (July 4, 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 1222 – Describing Amounts and Movement of Liquid

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 “mix” and “hose.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Car Clubs.”
“In the United States, there are many ‘clubs’ (associations; groups of people who have similar interests or hobbies) for car ‘enthusiasts’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 562

Topics: Famous Americans – Alexander Graham Bell; Famous Songs – “At Last”; pluralizing “fish,” all things considered; to talk tech

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Prefix 555.”
“In the U.S., all phone numbers are formatted with seven ‘digits’ (any number between 0 and 9) in this format:…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1223 – Experiencing a Difficult Childhood

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 “heavy” and “seemingly.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Boot Camps for Juvenile Offenders.”
“A ‘boot camp’ is usually a short-term training program, especially when referring to training for new soldiers or intense…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - June 28, 2016

Bloodsuckers – And I Don’t Mean Politicians

mosquito-1016254_960_720Who doesn’t like summer in California? Well, me.

That’s not entirely (completely) true. I love the the warm temperatures and the sunshine. But there is one element (part; factor) of summer I dread (don’t look forward to): mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes are those little insects that fly around, bite people, and suck (pull into the mouth) their blood. If there is a mosquito within 50 miles of me, it will find me. It will then feast (eat a lot) on me and bring a few friends for the buffet (meal where you can eat as much as you like).

Scientists say that many things attract (are appealing to) mosquitoes. Mosquitoes may be attracted to certain blood types, as one study found. (Your blood type is either O, A, B, or AB. It can be neutral or + (positive) or – (negative).) In the study, people with type O blood were bitten nearly twice as often as people with type A blood. I’m AB+, so I’m not sure where I stand (what my position or status is).

Wearing dark clothing can attract mosquitoes who use sight (the sense that allows you to see) as well as smell to locate victims (people who are harmed).

Mosquitoes can also detect chemicals and gases (substances in the air; not a liquid or a solid) that come off of people’s bodies, such as carbon dioxide (the gas that people breathe out) and lactic acid (a chemical that is released from muscles when we exercise). Even drinking beer can attract mosquitoes to your skin.

Mosquitoes have plagued (bothered) me all my life. To add insult to injury (to make things even worse), I have Skeeter Syndrome, which is an allergic reaction to mosquito bites. (“Skeeter” is a nickname for mosquitoes in some parts of the United States.) Instead of the small itchy (with a strong feeling of wanting to scratch) bump (small, round, raised area) that most people get, I get large welts (red, swollen areas) that itch for a long, long time.

Even better, I discovered a couple of years ago that fleas like me, too, and I’m allergic to their bites as well. Fleas are those very small insects that like dogs.

Finally, I’ve come to terms with it (have accepted a difficult truth): I am delicious. I hope no vampires are reading this blog post.

~ Lucy


Sunday - June 26, 2016

Podcasts this Week (June 27, 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 1220 – Ramping Up Production

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 “production run” and “saddled with.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Federal Property Disposal.”
“When the ‘federal’ (national) government has ‘surplus’ (extra and unnecessary) ‘property’ (things that one owns)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 561

Topics: The Comstock Lode and the Silver Rush; Classic TV – The Beverly Hillbillies, lesson versus lecture versus seminar; interesting versus interested; I rest my case

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Rodeo Drive.”
“The most famous street in Beverly Hills, California is Rodeo Drive. The street itself is two miles (3.2 kilometers) long…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1221 – Buffing Up Home 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 “timer” and “compound.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Civil Defense Sirens.”
““Civil defense sirens” are ‘sirens’ (things that make a loud noise as a warning to others)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - June 21, 2016

Los Angeles’ Little Farms

6273What words come to your mind when someone says, “Los Angeles”?

Were “farms” or “farming” on your list? Farms are where farming – growing crops (plants grown for food) or livestock (cows or other animals) – is done.

If not, don’t feel bad. Probably not many people think about farms or farming when they think about Los Angeles today. One hundred years ago it was different. From the early 1900s until the 1950s, farms and farming were an important part of life in Los Angeles County – the city of Los Angeles and the area around it. And Los Angeles County produced more food products than any other county in the U.S.

A new book – From Cows to Concrete (mixture of water, sand, and cement used to build things): The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles – written by Rachel Surls and Judith Gerber tells the not-well-known story of farming in Los Angeles. I think it’s worth sharing (telling about).

The story begins many years ago, when California still belonged to Spain. Spanish settlers (people who moved here to live) discovered that the area around Los Angeles was a good place for growing things and established (started, created) Los Angeles as a food center for southern and central California. Even before that, the people who lived here harvested (gathered) crops that grew here naturally.

In the 1800s Los Angeles was California’s “first wine country,” long before Napa and Sonoma Valleys north of San Francisco became well-known for their vineyards (where grapes are grown) and wineries (where wine is made from grapes).

Citrus fruit – like lemons and oranges – quickly became one of the main crops in the Los Angeles area, and by the early 20th century, much of Southern California was full of citrus and other fruit trees. Farmers also grew vegetables – like cauliflower, celery, and tomatoes – berries, and even flowers. Immigrants from Holland raised milk cows and built dairies (places where milk is collected and milk products made). And keeping bees for honey was popular.

The growth of farming in the early 1900s was stimulated (helped) when people were encouraged to create neighborhoods where “small farm homes” were built on 1-3 acres (.4-1.2 hectares) of land so the homeowners could grow crops to eat and sell. During the Great Depression, the government helped people who moved to California to start some of these small neighborhood farms.

The number of these small farms grew from about 1,300 in the 1920s to 5,000 in the 1930s. In the early 1950s, there were 10,000 of these small farms in Los Angeles County. In 1940 the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce (organization that encourages business) claimed that nearly half of the food Los Angeles ate came from farms within 50 miles (~80 km) of the city.

After World War II, many people moved to Los Angeles for jobs in aircraft and other new industries. Soon schools, shopping centers, streets, and freeways replaced most of the neighborhood farms. Most of them are gone today, but you can still find a few if you look in the right places.

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

Photo from UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.


Sunday - June 19, 2016

Podcasts this Week (June 20, 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 1218 – Describing Relative Location

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 “after” and “to get settled.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Pseudonyms.”
“Sometimes people use a ‘pseudonym’ (a false name; a name that is not one’s real name) to ‘hide'”… – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 560

Topics: Movies – The Jazz Singer; The Selective Service System; microaggressions, social justice warrior, and trigger warning; to insulate versus to isolate; pluralizing glass

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Draft Dodgers and Deserters.”
“The U.S. draft requires men to serve in the military during a war unless they meet particular requirements for an ‘exception'”… – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1219 – Expressing Disapproval

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 “not (one’s) place” and “to go behind (one’s) back.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.”
At the Movies was a popular TV program that ‘reviewed movies’ (provided professional opinions about the quality of movies)”… – READ MORE in the Learning Guide