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Tuesday - March 18, 2014

It’s Still Mom at Bedtime

François_Riss_LullabyIf you’re part of a working couple (two people who are married or in a committed relationship) with children these days, you’re probably sharing more of the household (related to home) work than parents did 50 or 75 years ago.

According to the American Time Use Survey (set of questions asked of many people) conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, men and women now work roughly (about; approximately) the same number of hours each week, although men still work more paid hours and women work more unpaid hours. And while men report doing more at home, there is still one area where moms do the lion share of the work (do the majority or most of the work): childcare (taking care of children).

You may think, well, if fathers are doing more of the other housework, such as vacuuming (using a machine to remove dirt from floors, rugs, and carpets), then the housework is equally divided (split evenly) and everyone’s happy, right? Not according to sociologists (people whose job is to study how people interact and other social issues).

According to recent research, childcare is much more stressful than household tasks done alone, such as washing the dishes. As one mother put it (illustrated it; explained it) in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “dishes don’t talk back,” meaning dishes don’t argue or reply in a disrespectful or disobedient (not doing what one is told) way. And at bedtime (time when people prepare for sleeping) when parents have to deal with children who are perhaps at their grumpiest (most bad-tempered) and most reluctant (not wanting to do something), it’s moms who are most often doing this duty (work).

According to the American Time Use Survey, in a dual-income (both members of a couple with paying jobs) family, the mother is three times more likely to have her sleep interrupted (caused to stop for a period of time) if the couple has a child under the age of one than the father is, and stay-at-home mothers (mothers not working in jobs outside the home) get up six times more often than fathers. Less sleep and more interrupted sleep means more stress.

Do these figures (numbers) and observations jibe with (agree with) what you’ve observed among families where you live? Are fathers and mothers sharing the work at home equally, not only in the amount of time needed but in the level of stress involved?

- Lucy

Image Credit: François Riss Lullaby from Wikipedia


Sunday - March 16, 2014

Podcasts this Week (March 17, 2014)

Get 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 982 – Home Shopping

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 “off” and “steal.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Celebrity Product Lines.”
“Many ‘celebrities’ (people who are famous for acting, singing, sports or other things)…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 442

Topics: American Presidents – Woodrow Wilson; junction versus intersection versus interchange; proprietary versus patent; to bluff (one’s) way into a secure area

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Presidential Illnesses.”
“Being the leader of any ‘nation’ (country) would be a ‘stressful’ (causing a lot of worry and tension) job…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 983 – Breaking Bad Habits

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 break” and “to share.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Common Bad Habits in Conversation.”
“Many people have bad habits in ‘conversation’ (speaking with other people)…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Thursday - March 13, 2014

What Did Charlie Chaplin Sound Like?

OriginalNipperWikipedia is a useful, though not always reliable (able to be trusted), source of information about people in the news, in history, and popular culture. Now, it may also become a place to go to find out what people sound like (the characteristics of their voice).

Recently, Wikipedia started soliciting (asking for) 10-second sound recordings for the people who have entries (individual pages) on Wikipedia. People and organizations are being asked to supply (give for use) open-licensed (with its use not restricted) and open-format (not restricted by file type) recordings that can be added to entries. The main request is that the recording include the notable person pronouncing their own name to show their own preference, since there is often disagreement.

So far, only a few Wikipedia entries have sound recordings. Among them are those of Emma Thompson, an English actress, and Dustin Hoffman, an American actor. But there are also voices of non-celebrities (people known in popular culture, usually from TV, films, and sports), such as English scientist Jane Goodall, Burmese political figure Aung San Suu Kyi, and American author John Updike.

Unfortunately, so far, there is no recording of Charlie Chaplin, but the project is still in its infancy (at its beginning; only just begun).

Whose voice from today or from history would you most like to hear?

- Lucy

Photo Credit: Original Nipper from Wikipedia


Tuesday - March 11, 2014

Work Would be Great Without the Coworkers

RED # 18355 64-NA-193The French philosopher Jean-Paul Satre once famously said, “Hell is other people.” I’m not sure who poor old (unfortunate) Jean-Paul’s neighbors, friends, or coworkers (people who work at the same place you do) were, but obviously they were not exactly ideal (perfect; the best possible).

There’s no question (no doubt) that getting along with other people can be difficult, especially when you are at your job. A recent article tried to look on the bright side (focus on the positive) of bothersome (causing trouble) coworkers and suggest ways that these types of people can actually be helpful. I’m not sure if I’m buying that argument (am convinced; agree), but I thought I’d talk about a few common terms used for these difficult types of coworkers in the U.S. Perhaps you know someone who fits (is similar to) one of these descriptions:

  • A social butterfly is a person who likes to talk a lot, be around other people, attend parties and other social events, and meet and know a lot of people.
  • A gossip is someone who likes to talk about other people, even if what he says isn’t true. You can have a social butterfly who just likes to chat (talk informally), but who may also be a gossip.
  • A workaholic is someone who works too much, and is always thinking about work, even when not working.
  • Malcontents are people who are generally unhappy and who may find ways to do things they are not supposed to do, or may express their unhappiness in other ways.
  • Someone who is passive-aggressive is someone who shows her unhappiness in small ways, rather than confronting (meeting face-to-face or openly) the person who is making her unhappy. A passive-aggressive person might misplace (lose temporarily) important papers, not return your phone calls, or “forget” to do the things she promised to do for you. So, it’s possible for someone to be a malcontent who is passive-aggressive. Even worse, this person could be a workaholic who is a passive-aggressive malcontent!
  • A narcissist is someone who believes everything should be focused on him or her, believing his or her own ideas, views, and beliefs are the most important. A person who is a narcissist might attract people who are suck-ups.
  • A suck-up is willing to say or do things — such as compliment someone a lot or say how great he is — to get an advantage in the workplace.
  • Backstabbers are people who pretend to be friendly with you, but make critical (disapproving) comments or do things to harm you when you’re not around.

Who do you think are the most disruptive (interfere with your work or cause the most problems) where you work: social butterflies, gossips, workaholics, narcissists, malcontents, suck-ups, backstabbers, or passive-aggressive people?

- Jeff

Photo Credit: Photograph of the Division of Classification and Cataloging


Sunday - March 9, 2014

Podcasts this Week (March 10, 2014)

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!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 980 – Retiring Abroad

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 “fixed” and “to put down stakes.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Retiring Abroad.”
“In the past, many Americans ‘dreamed of’ (thought about and hoped for) traveling abroad in their retirement…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 441

Topics: Ask an American – Saving the oldest photograph; law versus rule versus policy; to stem from versus to be derived from; bring it on; infomercial; hawking; exercise fad

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “What To Do With Photos.”
“In the past, Americans used to keep boxes filled with photos or placed them in ‘photo albums’…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 981 – Diplomatic and Economic Sanctions

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 call off” and “trade.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Types of Economic Sanctions.”
“The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury is responsible for…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Thursday - March 6, 2014

Ruby’s, Hot Rods, and Custom Cars

Rubys CruiseWhen you walk into a Ruby’s Diner in southern California, you take a step back in time, into the 1940s and 50s. The red booths (a table between two long seats), white table tops, soda fountains, and colorful 1940s posters (large printed pictures) are typical of (like, similar to) what you would have found across the U.S. during those years. So is their menu (list of food they sell) – mostly hamburgers, French fries, and milk shakes.

If you visit Ruby’s in Whittier, near where I live, on any Friday evening from May through October, you’ll experience more of the 40s and 50s. That’s when the Ruby’s Diner Friday Night Cruise* fills Ruby’s parking lot with dozens of cars – many of them hot rods and custom cars built during those years.

In the 1930s and 40s, many American young men, especially in California, began to buy older classic (admired by many people) cars and “hop up” or “soup up” (modify, change) the engines to make them more powerful. Sometimes they took out the original engines and put in newer, larger engines and took anything that wasn’t needed off of their cars to make them lighter (have less weight) and faster. They called their cars hot rods; unfortunately no one is sure how the name got started. Roadsters (2-seat open cars) were especially popular for hot rods because they were light and inexpensive (didn’t cost much).

These young men with the hot (powerful, fast) cars began a kind of competition, called drag racing – which Jeff talked about in this week’s English Cafe. In drag racing, two or more cars raced side by side on a street to see which one was fastest over a short distance. Street racing was dangerous and was eventually (after a time) outlawed (made illegal), so after World War II, many hot rodders moved to deserted (unused) airports and raced on the runways.

In the 1950s another kind of hot rod – the custom car – appeared and quickly became popular. Custom cars often had modified engines, like hot rods. But what made them different were changes made to the car’s appearance (how it looks) inside and out, like colorful, unusual paint jobs (if a car has a paint job, it is painted again). When creating a custom car, the goal is to make it look different than any other car. Today there are quite a few custom car shops in California, and some people spend thousands of dollars to have their cars or trucks customized.

The young men – the hot rodders and custom car builders – of the 1940s and 50s are older now and many are gone. But the traditions they started are still alive. You can still find them and their cars at places like Ruby’s Diner all across California.

If you’re interested, Pinterest has a large collection of hot rod and custom car photos, and here is a set of photos of hot rods and custom cars made from the classic 1932 Ford.

*Many young people used to drive their cars slowly up and down a particular street, usually the main street of a town, as a way to spend time with their friends. This was called “cruising”.

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

 Photo credit: cb750cafe.


Tuesday - March 4, 2014

Your Movie Will Begin…Later and Later

AirscreenIf you’ve been to a movie theater recently, you may have noticed that there are more trailers (advertisements for future movies) than ever, and they last (continue; has a duration that is) longer than ever. Film studios (movie companies) pay movie theaters to show trailers of their upcoming (future) movies, and movie theaters in the U.S. have increased the number of trailers shown to about six or seven at many locations, while a decade ago (10-year period previous), only three or four were shown.

Trailers are very effective advertising, second only to (only less effective than) television advertising, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. But there is a constant battle between movie theater owners and movie studios: movie theaters want to show more trailers to make more money, and movie studios want to show longer trailers with a longer lead time (time period before something happens) before a movie is released.

The latest move in this tug of war (contest; battle) was recently made by the National Association of Theatre* Owners, a group that consists of (includes) major theater companies.  It tries to influence rules and policies relating to movies and theaters in its favor (to benefit it).  The Association issued (released) new guidelines (rules) for trailers: they should be no more than two minutes long, and they should not appear more than five months before a movie’s premier (showing in theaters for the first time).

As you can imagine, movie executives (important people working in movie companies) aren’t happy. They say that the new guidelines are not to benefit moviegoers (people who go to movie theaters to see a movie) who have complained about too many and too long trailers. Instead, they say, movie theater owners are making room for (space for) more advertising from other companies.

Are there these types of rules for trailers where you live? Do you like seeing the trailers shown before feature films (main movies)? If you could lay down the law (make the rules), what would be the ideal situation with regard to trailers?

- Lucy

* Note that, in the U.S., the word “theater” is generally spelled with an “er,” not a “re” at the end. However, some organizations and companies in the U.S. like to use British spellings since Americans generally have positive associations with British English.

Photo Credit: Airscreen from Wikipedia


Sunday - March 2, 2014

Podcasts this Week (March 3, 2014)

Is 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 978 – Getting Access to Restricted Areas

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to be screened” and “to be shown out.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Press Passes.”
“A ‘press pass’ is a card, often worn on a string around the neck, that gives special ‘privileges’…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 440

Topics: Famous Americans – Typhoid Mary; The National Hot Rod Association; complex versus complicated versus intricate; “needle hit the groove” and “lampooned as a loner’s pastime”; to clean versus to cleanse

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Hot Wheels.”
“One of the biggest toy makers in the United States is Mattel…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 979 – Types of Humor

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 “juvenile” and “discriminating.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.”
“Mark Twain (see English Café 34) was a famous American ‘novelist’ (writer of stories that are book-length) and ‘humorist’…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Thursday - February 27, 2014

“Gentrification” Might Not Be Such a Bad Word

698px-Minneapolis_Warehouse_DistrictTo many people, the word “gentrification” is a dirty (offensive; vulgar) word. Gentrification refers to a change in an urban (city) area with new businesses moving in and housing prices going up, creating a more wealthy (rich) community than was there before. The reason the term “gentrification” is generally considered a negative one is that conventional wisdom (what most people believe) is that this change in a neighborhood pushes out (causes someone to have no choice but to move away) old residents (people who live there) and businesses, changing the character (the things that make something unique or special) of the community.

But is that really true? Several recent studies, including one conducted at Columbia University about the famous New York neighborhood Harlem, which is currently undergoing (experiencing) gentrification, gives us a different perspective (point of view). (To hear more about Harlem’s gentrification, listen to English Cafe 411.)

At least in terms of people being displaced (caused to move), these studies found that people who were there before a neighborhood’s change didn’t leave, and in many cases, stayed longer than those in neighborhoods that didn’t undergo gentrification. This may be because the community becomes more attractive and those already there do what they can to stay. There are often more parks, better schools, and safer streets, so those who are able choose to remain in the neighborhood. New housing and space for businesses are created by converting (changing for a new use) old industrial (used for manufacturing, such as factories) buildings into livable (able to be lived in) and workable (able to be worked in) spaces, augmenting (increasing) the amount of space available in the community.

It’s certainly true that some rents (how much people pay to live in a home or operate a business out of a property) go up, and both businesses and people can be displaced. But the idea that this happens on a grand scale (in large numbers) doesn’t seem to be supported by these recent studies.

Are there any areas in the cities you’re familiar with that have undergone gentrification? What has been the reaction of the old residents? In your opinion, has gentrification changed the character of those areas?

- Lucy

Photo Credit: Minneapolis Warehouse District from Wikipedia


Tuesday - February 25, 2014

The Most Bible-Minded Cities in the U.S.

383px-KJV-King-James-Version-Bible-first-edition-title-page-1611.xcfIf you’re wondering which cities in the United States could be considered the most religious, you may be interested in a recent survey (piece of research where many people are asked the same questions) released by the American Bible Society (ABS). The ABS is a non-profit (not intended to make money) organization that distributes (gives to people) Bibles and Bible-related materials. (The term “Bible” in American English is usually used to refer to the sacred or holy texts of Christians, the Old and New Testaments, although it could also be used to refer just to texts sacred to Jews as well.)

After asking questions of 46,000 randomly-selected (select by chance) people, the ABS has determined the most “Bible-mindedcities in the U.S. (Minded here means having your mind on or thinking about something.) The ABS asked people whether they had read the Bible within the past seven days and if they agreed “strongly with the accuracy of the Bible.” Based on the responses, the ABS ranked 100 U.S. cities.  The top 10 cities are all in an area known in the U.S. as the “Bible Belt.”

The top 10 most Bible-minded cities are:

  1. Chattanooga, Tennessee
  2. Birmingham, Alabama
  3. Roanoke/Lynchburg, Virginia
  4. Springfield, Missouri
  5. Shreveport, Louisiana
  6. Charlotte, North Carolina
  7. Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C./Asheville, North Carolina
  8. Little Rock, Arkansas
  9. Jackson, Mississippi
  10. Knoxville, Tennessee

The Bible Belt is an informal term for the south central and southeastern parts of the U.S. that have traditionally been considered more religious than other parts of the country. (Belt here means an area where some characteristic or trait is commonly found.) The term is said to have been (believed to be, but not completely certain) coined (created) by an American journalist and commentator (person who gives his/her opinion professionally), H.L. Menken, who wrote for the newspaper Chicago Daily Tribune (now simply called the Chicago Tribune).

Perhaps ironically (being opposite of what one would expect), the American Bible Society is located in New York City, which is number 89 on the list, just ahead of (before) Las Vegas, often called Sin City, with “sin” referring to bad things people do that are against what God would want. Los Angeles doesn’t fare (do) much better at number 73, but we’re not as bad as San Francisco, which is ranked 97th.

If you’d like to see for yourself which cities are considered most Bible-minded according this survey, take a look at the full list here on the American Bible Society website.

- Jeff

Image Credit: King James Version Bible 1611 from Wikipedia