Goat Yoga Is a Thing

There are a lot of crazy, hilariously bad (so terrible they are funny) ideas that have their origin (begin) in California.

I’m not sure if goat yoga (see photo) actually began here (this article says it started in Michigan), but I know it is popular in the neighborhood where I live here in LA.

Yes, I said GOAT yoga. You read that right.

How do you do yoga with an animal? Very carefully, I would think.

Actually, you just do yoga in the same place where there are goats, such as in a barn (a building for animals).

People say that goats make people relax, forgot about their troubles, and be less stressed.

Now, I have not spent a lot of time around goats. Maybe they really do relax you. I don’t know. Perhaps this is the greatest idea of the 21st century, right up there with (close to in importance with) selfie sticks (a pole you put your phone on so you can take a better picture of yourself).

Whatever you think, goat yoga is definitely now a thing.

When I say it is “a thing,” I mean it is real, it is actually something people are doing even though you may not think it is true.

We use this pattern in informal English now to describe something that is perhaps a little strange but that is popular now, like, well, goat yoga.

For example, “Keeping a rabbit instead of a dog or cat is now a thing” or “The boys used to wear long hair, but that is not a thing anymore.”

You can also ask, “Is that a thing?” meaning “Is that something people actually do?” or “Is that something that is now popular?”

I’m thinking of starting a new kind of exercise called “Throw the Cat.” Basically, you work on your arm muscles by picking up cats and throwing them as far are you can.

You wait: Soon cat throwing will be a thing.

~Jeff

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How to Use “I’m Good!” in English

The Official Jeff McQuillan Halloween Costume

When most Americans say, “I’m good,” they’re not praising (saying something positive about) themselves. They’re not saying they’re not bad.

“I’m good” is actually a casual and common way to say, “No, thank you.”

You can use this idiom in many situations.

You can use it to refuse (say no) an offer politely (nicely), often when you’ve had enough of something already or just don’t need it:

A:  “Do you want another beer?”

B:  “I’m good, thanks.”

———

A:  “Can I help you carry your luggage up the stairs?”

B:  “No thanks, I’m good.”

———

A: “Is there something you’re looking for in our store?”

B: “No, I’m good.”

You can also use it sarcastically (jokingly) to refuse an offer:

A:  “You need a better hairstyle. Let’s dye (change the color of) your hair green!”

B:  “No, I’m good.”

———

A:  “Do you want to try my new dish—eggs with peanuts and fish?

B:  “Nah, I’m good.”

You can say, “I’m good,” “No, I’m good,” “No thanks, I’m good,” or a similar combination to mean the same thing, adding the “thanks” to be more polite.

In casual situations, you can say, “Nah, I’m good.”  Nah is an informal way to say “no.” (We don’t usually use “nah” in formal writing; it’s just the way Americans say it.)

So if someone offers you something you don’t want or don’t need – like maybe a Halloween costume (clothing) of Jeff McQuillan (see photo) –  you can smile and just say, “Nah, I’m good.”

~Jeff

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Sounding Like Shakespeare (Part 2)

Last week I mentioned a few common English phrases that we got from Shakespeare’s plays.

Here are few others. Do you notice a theme (common subject)?

1. Green-eyed monster – From Othello, Act III, Scene III

A monster is a big, ugly, imaginary (not real) creature. The green-eyed monster refers to or represents jealousy, or the feeling of wanting something that someone else has or when you suspect (believe) that your wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend is being unfaithful (having a sexual relationship with another person).
– You might say, “Be careful of the green-eyed monster. It might ruin (spoil) your marriage!”

2. Cruel to be kind – From Hamlet, Act III, Scene IV

You can use this when you are doing something that will upset or hurt someone now, but that will actually help them in the future.
– If I wanted to quit my job to become a professional singer, I hope my wife will be cruel to be kind by telling me I’m an idiot.

3. Love is blind – From The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene VI

This is a proverb (a wise saying). It means that when you’re in love, you don’t see the faults or the unattractive or bad parts of a person’s character or personality. You are blind to  (unable to see) those negative things.
– If your daughter decides she wants to marry someone with no manners (common politeness), no sense of humor, no job, and lies all the time, you might say, “Love is blind.”

We also use it sometimes to talk about an unlikely romantic couple, two people we wouldn’t normally expect to fall in love.
– People look at a beautiful woman with an unattractive man and say, “Love is blind” or “This is Los Angeles.”

Fun fact: “Cruel to Be Kind” is also a really terrible song from Nick Lowe that was popular when I was in high school. If Shakespeare heard it, he’d almost certainly die (again) from the pain of hearing it.

~Jeff

Image: “Othello’s Lamentation” by William Salter

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You, Too, Can Sound Like Shakespeare (Part 1)

If you speak English, you know Shakespeare.

That’s because many of the most well-known sayings in English come from Shakespeare’s plays.

Here are a few very common phrases Americans use:

1. Good riddance – From Troilus and Cressida, Act II, Scene I

We use this phrase when we want to show relief at no longer having to deal with something or someone who is troublesome or that brings us problems.
– If your girlfriend breaks up or ends her relationship with you and you are happy because she has brought all kinds of trouble into your life, then you might say, “Good riddance!”

2. To lie low – From Much Ado About Nothing, Act V, Scene 1

We use this phrasal verb when we are hiding or doing something to not bring attention to ourselves, usually because we have committed (done) a crime or we expect trouble if we’re found.
– If you made a big mistake at work, you might tell your coworker: “I’m lying low until the boss is stops being angry.”

3. Seen better days – From As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

We use this phrase to mean that something is no longer new. It is old, worn, and/or in poor condition.
– I bought my first used car from my uncle for $100. It was 20 years old, and needed a muffler (device on a car that makes it less loud) and a lot of other repairs. That car had seen better days!

That last example is true. My first car really was very old and purchased (bought) from my uncle for $100.

~Jeff

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Columbus Day Controversies

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The United States celebrates (recognizes and honors) Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the Americas on October 12, 1492 with an official holiday each year. It is celebrated on the second Monday each October.

Columbus Day became a federal (national) holiday in 1937, although Americans have been recognizing Columbus’ voyage (long journey by sea or in space) long before that year.

For example, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary (a date on which an event took place in previous years) of Columbus’ arrival in 1792.

In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison encouraged Americans to celebrate the 400th anniversary.

However, not everyone believes Christopher Columbus should be honored in this way.

Some activists (people who take actions to try to cause political or social change) oppose (are against) Columbus Day because of Columbus’ and other Europeans’ actions against the indigenous (original peoples) in America.

Native American groups have led the movement for the elimination (removal) of Columbus Day as a holiday, but the idea has not received widespread (among many people) acceptance.

There are two states that do not officially recognize Columbus Day: Hawaii and South Dakota. Instead, these states recognize another holiday on that date.

Hawaii celebrates Discoverers’ Day, which commemorates (remembers and honors) the Polynesians’ discovery of Hawaii.

And in South Dakota, residents (people who live in an area) celebrate Native American Day instead of Columbus Day.

~Jeff

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“Housekeeping!”

If you stay at a hotel in the United States, you may be sitting in your room and hear someone knock on your door. The person will say, in a loud voice, “Housekeeping!”

If you don’t answer the “housekeeping” announcement within 10 seconds or so by saying “Please come back later” or “Not today, thanks,” make sure you’re fully dressed (have all your clothes on), because your housekeeper will open your door!

All hotels provide basic housekeeping (cleaning) services by keeping the rooms clean and well-stocked (with all the necessary supplies). However, nicer hotels provide many additional services.

For example, in nice hotels, housekeeping might provide turn-down service in which the staff (employees) prepare the room before the guest goes to bed.

Turn-down service includes turning down the sheets, or folding back the top part of the blankets and sheets so that the guest can get into bed easily. Turn-down service might also include putting a pair of slippers (shoes worn only indoors to keep one’s feet warm) next to the bed and a mint (a candy that freshens one’s breath) on the pillow.

The turn-down service could also include dimming the lights (making the lights less bright) and turning on quiet, relaxing music.

Housekeeping can also supply (provide) a cot (a folding bed) or a rollaway bed (a bed that can be moved easily because it is on wheels). Guests might request these types of beds when many people are staying in the room.

It is not unusual to request a cot for a young child, for example.

Some hotels pride themselves on (take pride in; take great interest in) little details, like folding hand towels (towels used to dry one’s hands) into special shapes, making them look like birds or flowers.

Housekeeping might also fold the end of a toilet paper roll so that it ends in a point (a sharp edge) rather than a straight line.

If your hotel does most of these things, you’re staying in a nice hotel!

Also in nice hotels, it is customary (normal; expected) to tip (give extra money to) the housekeeping staff members who provide all these services.

A typical (usual; common) tip is between $1 and $5 each day, depending on the type of hotel and the amount of service housekeeping provides.

Of course, if you stay in a cheap (inexpensive) hotel, you won’t get most of these things. As we sometimes say, “you get what you pay for!”

~Jeff

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Happy Birthday, Jeff

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Bird-Brained Ideas

Los Angeles is a big, sprawling (covering a wide area) city. That’s why people have a hard time (difficulty) getting around without cars.

Our public transportation system—buses, subways, trains, etc.—just doesn’t reach enough parts of the city.

About a year ago, a type of electric “scooter” started appearing on city streets. Scooters are normally small motorcycles, but these scooters are different. They are more like skateboards with a motor and a pole to hang on to (see photo).

A company called “Bird” scattered (place randomly) scooters all over the city, putting them on sidewalks (walkways next to the street). They were placed near bus stops, at street corners, and anywhere a lot of people walked.

The scooters are intended to help people travel short distances so they wouldn’t have to walk or drive a car.

Here’s how these paid scooters work: You choose a scooter, insert (place into a machine) your credit card, pay a small fee, and then have temporary use of that scooter.

Ride it to where you want to go and then leave it there. At the end of the day, a team of people retrieves (pick up and return) the scooters for charging (for a battery to again store energy) and then places them around the city again.

The problem was, Bird and other similar companies didn’t have permission (approval; an okay) from the local government to do business, and no one was in charge of making sure people were following the rules and laws.

Soon, riders were leaving scooters where they shouldn’t, like the middle of the sidewalk, on people’s front yards, or in the street.

Children were riding them on busy streets with no helmets (hard hat to protect the head), and riders were causing traffic accidents.

Now, the government is finally stepping in (getting involved). They are setting up new regulations (rules) and limiting the number of companies that can have these scooters in the city. It will be some time before we know how things shake out (work out; come to a result).

I haven’t tried riding one of these scooters yet, but I have seen a lot of people on them. Some people ride responsibly (in the right way). But when someone rides like an idiot, then it seems to me these Bird scooters are a bird-brained idea.*

~Jeff

* Bird-brained is an adjective meaning very stupid or not very smart. The term is perhaps used because birds are small and therefore have small brains. I think “cat-brained” would also be a good way of describing dumb ideas, but that’s just me.

Photo credit: Grendelkhan

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Flu Shot Season is Here Again

A few years ago, I thought I was dying. My body ached (hurt). I couldn’t breathe. I had a high fever (body temperature).

I had “the flu.”

The flu, short for influenza, is a highly contagious (easy to pass from one person to another) virus. A virus is a very small thing you can’t see that gets into your body and makes you sick. There are actually several different kinds of viruses that can give you the flu, and it is often different from year to year.

For some people, like young children and the elderly (old people), the flu can be life-threatening (cause death).

So since then, I’ve tried to get a flu shot every year. (A shot is a drug you get from a needle (sharp instrument that goes through your skin – see the photo).

Like many Americans, I’m part of an HMO, a Health Maintenance Organization, which is basically a type of private medical insurance. I pay a certain amount of money each month and I get health benefits, such as visits to the doctor, laboratory tests, and treatment for illnesses or medical conditions at a lower cost than if I did not have insurance.

One of the benefits of my health plan is a “free” flu shot every year. I go into the medical center, the nurse takes a needle, and injects (puts into my body) a vaccine into my arm.

The vaccine contains a little bit of the flu–not the part that makes you sick–and your body starts to fight it. Later, if you come across (meet) the flu, your body is ready to fight it off and prevent you from getting sick. (What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, as we sometimes say!)

It’s worked for me. I haven’t had the flu in years—knock on wood. (“Knock on wood” is something we say to mean “I hope my good luck continues.”)

So this week I’ll be getting another flu shot. Maybe you should, too?

~Jeff

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New Words in American English, 2018 Edition

One of the leading (most popular) American English dictionaries, Merriam-Webster, has just published a list of 840 “new” words in English. Here are some you may want to know:

TL;DR – “Too long; didn’t read” – This is sometimes used before a summary or short version of a long blog post or document. For example, if you post a long story on your Facebook page about how your boyfriend/girlfriend has left you, you might also write, “So, TL;DR It’s over!”

hangry – This word combines “hungry” and “angry” and refers to how some people are not very happy when they haven’t eaten. “He was hangry when he came home after work, so he yelled at his dog.”

time suck – something that takes up a lot of your time. “Reading long Facebook posts can be a real time suck.”

rando – This word comes from “random,” and refers to a person you do not know or recognize. It is often used to describe a person you don’t know who is somehow annoying you or interfering with what you’re doing. “I was waiting in line at the post office and some rando guy came up to me and asked me for $10.”

I guess I could have put at the beginning of this post, “TL;DR English keeps changing!”

~Jeff

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