Chapter 3. "Hurray, hurray, it's a Holi-Holiday!!"
How are you all doing after yesterday? Didn't you have Halloween Party last night? Ok, I'll just get back to this theme after short. But first, I'd like to thank all of you who read and comment my blog. It really makes my writing challenging. As Diema from Bulgaria have noticed, I indeed have some sense of humour. It's nearly impossible to live without sense of humour over here unless you're going to get mad. And I'd like to tell, in advance, if you will met something in my blog, that seems extraordinary strange, please don't treat it too seriously.
Today I want to tell about holidays. During the Soviet peroid of our country we didn't have much holidays. And most of them were rather dull, excluding maybe New Year Holiday. The biggest event on Soviet holiday was a demonstration which was mandatory ergo not too funny. As that period past, russian people seemed to compensate that lack of holidays absorbing all the possible holidays from all over the world. To name but a few the following chain of local holidays:
25th of December - Catholic Christmas,
31th of December - New Year Holiday,
7th of January - Orthodoxy Christmas,
14th of January - Old New Year Holiday...
There is no gap in between to recover. :) And you don't believe me, we even selebrate Chineese New Year as well! Unfortunately, the way of selebrating hasn't changed significantly since previuos times. The central part of each holiday is a dinner. Well-served but still a meal. And then - dancing. Apparently in order to free some additional room in the belly for another food and drink. And maybe fireworks which have become available.
In contrast with it the Halloween Party goes, which we have been selebrating for several years at 31th of October. At least it looks like a fancy dress party. People dress up as creatures from the underworld and perform some spectacular actions. This is fun as a rule. I faithfully believe sometimes it will become a costume festival like those take place in other countries.
Also now we have autumn school holidays started. That's a little relief for our family. We have sent our children to their grandma and now feel a little more relaxed. It't not kinda we want to get rid of them, but we live in a tight room with just a couple square meters of free space and as the boys are quite agile (they are twelve and nine) there is always a mess. In addition, grandma let the children to have more freedom in their actions. So that's a relief both for them and for us to get rest from each other. Of course, we communicate by the phone instantly.
Tricia, I'd like to know if You selebrate both British and local holidays at Your place?
Looking forward to read more comments from all of you. Bye for today.
posted on Wednesday, 01 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 4. Comment on comments.
As I've already recieved some comments I'd like to make some reply. First of all I want to thank Diema from Bulgaria to be most active commentator of my blog. Thank You, Diema. It's really important to have some feedback and to know is my writing interesting or not. Communication at all is meanless without a feedback. And while learning such a feedback is as twice as more significant. So, thanks BBC Learning English again for this useful oppotrunity. And thanks all the rest commentators as well.
Thi Hien from Vietnam asked me about my work. Well, unfortunately there is no much I can tell about it. Beside the fact that I'm not supposed to unveil details of my job, I'm just afraid it might be boring for those who has no deal with computers inside. Ok, here is an example of computer fun stories: "There are 10 types of people. Those who's aware of binary counting and those who's not." Have you got it? :) Speaking in general, writing a computer program is akin to building even not a house but a city or a world! And it requires significantly less resourses in comparison to real building. Haven't you ever thought of being God? There is an opportunity. Everything is up to you. :)) It's extremely exciting.
There is one more point mentioned by Thi Hien which seemed interesting for me. Which software I use for learning English. You know what - I don't use any! I tried several programs and they disappointed me. Most of the programs are created by mean of testing. And it's no use because instead of learning some words or rules I learn to deal with the program. As a result there is no difference between learning with or without the program. There were programs which used some vague technics, like '25th frame effect'. I didn't mention the result from them either. So, the only program I use is a computer dictionary as a complement to an ordinary dictionary. Maybe I just haven't find appropriate program yet? Can you advise me some?
Tricia, it's very interesting thought about fast reading. You know, I spend lots of time bumping into an unknown word and picking up its meaning from a dictionary. For instance, I've been reading the first part of "Harry Potter" for a half of a year because I meet up to half-dozen new words on each page. Now I'll try to follow the way You propose for getting impression of such words from the track.
That's all for today. See you tomorrow.
posted on Thursday, 02 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 5. Place of mine.
Today I'd like to fulfil the promise I gave in my first message and tell a little bit about my native town, Nizhiy Novgogrod. As I said, it's situated in the middle part of european Russia, at a junction of rivers Volga and Oka. It was founded in 1221 AD by grand russain duke Yury Dolgoruky as a fortress on a high bank of river Volga. Initially its purpose was to defend young russian state against an invasion of Eastern herds.
With years, the rivers became a great trade way rather than a natural hurdle for enemies. Due to lacky position of crossing several trade tracks, our town formed to a big trade center. One of the most famous trade event of those times known as 'Nizhegorodskaya Yarmarka' took place in our town in 18th - 19th centuries. Lots of plants and institutes were build here during Soviet period. Nizniy Novgorod became also a big industrial center. During The World War Two the town helped a lot in struggle with fascism providing Soviet Army with significant amount of weapon.
Nowadays, despite some common processes of depravation and stagnation, the town still remains a big trade and cultural center.
We still have a couple of museums and several theatres left. In contrast, the number of new restaurants and nightclubs has been increasing. Actually, it seems strange taking into acount the fact that average standard of living is steadily decreasing. Nevertheless the arhitecture of the town is getting pretty more vivid. The cubical style of Soviet architectural heritage is being replaced with nice new forms of just-build or reconstructed churhes and other buildings.
I think our habitat could even be named a city, but still there are few signs of a city. We've got no skyscrapers, lots of open soil in our downtown, neither for a car nor for a pedestrian road system. On the other hand our town is rather quiet and cozy. And still has some touch with civilization. Believe it or not, we also have 'holes in the wall' and usually don't have to queue up in the bank. :)
posted on Friday, 03 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 6. The shopping spree.
It's holidays again over here. Yesterday was National Unity Day and tomorrow will be anniversary of Great October Socialist Revolution. The first one was introduced a couple years ago in order to replace the second one. Of course, now we selebrate both. Me and my wife have decided to selebrate these days by mean of shopping. We have one of the biggest european trade center opened recently in our town. This is the place where several shops, restaurants and other entertaining facilities are situated at the same place. So, this weekend we got there.
The way there was dissapointing. The place is located at a distant from the town. It is supposed that people should get there by cars. There is a parking area at the place and it's really huge and impressive. I've never seen such a parking area before. But still there are lots of people who have no car or don't use it at the season. The center provides them with special fareless buses. Theoretically. In practice me and my wife spent about an hour waiting one of them. Without the result. Finally, we got to the center with regular transport.I made a complaint to managers of the center but I doubt it will improve the situation.
The center itself is marvellous. To my evaluation it's for a kilometer length and a half width. There are several big shops and plenty little shops inside. We managed to visit only two of them during our visit, a supermarket and a furniture shop. The supermarket is astonishing. Endless shelves of goods of different kinds. Everything of food, clothes, crockery, computer and other stuff one can find here. You know, it was very unusual and funny to see a woman pushing a cart full of car tires in front of her. The furniture shop was also admirable. On the one hand everything is decorated in museum-like way. On the other hand you can touch everything, sit on the chairs, lay down the sofas and so on and so forth. It's extremely interesting and inspiring. And it all provokes a shopping spree, indeed.
I presume most of you allready have such a trade centers as your everyday experience but speaking of our town it's a relatively new innovation. My family is looking forward to visit the rest of the shops in the center and to have more fun in the nearest future. And what you can tell me about shopping in your place? Do you like supermarkets or you prefer little shops. Where do you usually buy things?
Waiting for replies. See you tomorrow.
posted on Monday, 06 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 7. Bad news.
We got robbed!
We've got a house in a countryside. It's fifty kilometers away from the town. My family lives there in summer-time, when it's hot and stuffy and dusty in the town. It's lovely there. I could tell you more about it later if you are interested. Unfortunately, the neighbourhood is unpleasant. There are lots of rubbish people around there. They ramble here and there instantly drunk, dirty and stinking. There is little job in the countryside and all they intents are to steal something, sell it and get drunk again. Of course, houses like ours are good goal for them to get in for during the winter season the houses are unguarded.
So, sometimes ago I got a sign that a window of my house was broken. The neighbour whose life is still decent gave me that sign. And I had to get there to fix it. It's not so easy, actually, to get there now. For instance I walked on my feet for about five kilometers and thanks goodness the weather was sunny though cold.
The burglars haven't took much. So I just fixed the window and got back home. It took me for a half of the day yesterday.
It's already for the third time in this year. When it was for the first time we called the police. That time some expensive things were stolen. The police came and found the goods. It's pretty unusual but we had some suspects. Since that we don't keep anything important in the house. As a consequence, this time nothing significant was taken away. Nevertheless it's just troublesome and I need a little bit time to recover.
Hope tomorrow will be better.
posted on Tuesday, 07 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chpter 8. Watching a video.
Hi there. (I was so upset yesterday that I even forgot to say hello. I'm sorry.)
I'd like to say thank you for all those who write comments to my posts. I would like to answer all of you and make our discussion on some questions wider, but I can't yet. I beg your pardon. Thanks Tricia for Your support. It's totally OK to analyse my writing regardless the mood it holds. I agree with the thought about wisdom. In addition, due to regular basis of "circumstances" of that kind in our everyday life the recovering doesn't last long. A couple mugs of vodka and I'm allright, thank you very much. :) I'm joking, I don't drink vodka. I use humour instead.
Today let's talk about video. I presume this topic is rather traditional for bloggers. And I'd like to support this tradition. I like video. A 'movieholic' I am. I watch as many films as I can and I wish to see more. My favorite films are those which include many visual effects. They evolve my imagination and help to make a perception of the reality a little bit more diverse. If there is something more than just visual effects in the film it's even better.
My favorite movie as you may guess is "The Matrix". The whole sequence. To my mind it's the best combination of a bunch of philosophical ideas with incredible visual effects. Each time I watch the movie I find something new in it. It's wonderful.
As a result I find watching original movies one of the best ways of studying English. while watching the screen it's easier to guess the meaning of the phrase a character speaks basing on his behaviour and the reaction of his opponents. In addition, it's encouraging to see a movie in its original language. From earlier time we have unpleasant tradition to see films with totally replaced audio track. Initially it was made on purpose of censorship. Nowadays, due to widespread DVD format we've got opportunity to listen to original audio track. Usually there is a striking difference between original sound and the russian translation. The ability to see movies in original language was among fist reasons to learn contemporary English for me. Now my family tries to watch video in such a way. For example, we've been spending last evenings watching all the series of 'Harry Potter'. We are all pleased.
And of course, now I try to get as much english video as I can. It's not too difficult due to the Internet. In particular, my favorite video at the moment is "The IT crowd." It's a set of comedy episodes about one IT department. Extremely fun. And I love actors, especially Katherine Parkinson as Jen, she's amazing. I've picked up lots of collocations from there. The series as useful as fun.
posted on Wednesday, 08 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 9. The country-house.
As soon as I found some interest to my country-house I've decided to tell you some details of it.
As you can see from the picture It's not as cute as most houses in countryside in Europe. For instance in comparison with house of Anita from Slovakia, one of the previous student blogger, it should seem miserable. (By the way, Anita, I think it's great than You could manage to keep on reading and commenting this blog. Keep it up!) The problem is that we don't live there instantly and keeping it in order requires lots of efforts. When we bought it ten years ago it was supposed that our relatives would live in the house. But now my mother-in law has become insane, my father-in-law has problems with his eyes, my mother still works and all we've got is getting there just for weekend.
Still there is lots of job there in summer-time. The grass grows at a very fast pace. So I usualy spend one of two weekend days for mowing the lawn.
And it's not as just as easy as might seem from the first sight. Some sorts of plants are rather poisonous so I need to be well-protected while the process. Look at me! Don't I look like an astronaut? Taking into account that it's usually hot in that period you could imagine how I feel. In addition to the mowing there are several other house chores. And speaking 'several' I actually mean unlimited number. :) Meanwhile my wife usualy does gardening. She cultivates useful plants like apple trees, berry bushes, flowers and vegetables. But she does it not for profit but for pleasure. As soon as quantity of doings is overwhelming we don't treat them seriously and try to do only those things that are not too boring. Of course, sometimes our boys help us but most the time it's difficult to persuade them to do something useful and they just mess around and enjoy the life.
Despite all those problems we face with being at the place is lovely. Quiet and still surroundings (in comparison to the town) and fresh air make living there healthy and pleasant. The house is a handy base for picking up mushrooms and berries, fishing, making a barbecue (we use to call it 'shashlik') etc. We like the place, it really helps us to refresh our forces.
Bye for now.
posted on Thursday, 09 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 10. Animals.
Getting back to the theme of a country house... The comment of andrielledcf from Brazil have made me to recall a funny moment. Some time ago Brazil and Mexican soap operas were quite popular in our country. In one of those the action took place in a countryside and the place was called 'fazenda'. Actually it was relatively rich place. Since then we sometime jokingly call our country house 'fazenda' as well. But today Tricia's blog inspires me to tell about animals.
Speaking of wild animals I should say we don't have many of them over here. In my youth I used to ramble in a forest picking up mushrums, berries or without a purpose. And I never met animals. Meeting a squirrel was quite an amazing event for me. Only once or twice I saw an elk. The biggest 'beast' near our fazenda is a hedgehog. A family of hedgehogs lives in a heap of brushwood in the neighbourhood. Sometimes they are too noisy, in such cases my wife says they 'arrange a champing'. Anyway it's funny and never annoying. We've got geckos as well. Amoung vermints I can name only moles. They nibble the roots of our apple-trees.
And, of course, we've got Colorado beetles which is a real disaster for potato growers. But they are not animals but bugs, I reckon.
Speaking of pets... We ain't got pets. Unfortunatly. The first main reason is our poor living condition. We've no free room even for an aquarium. And I'm afraid that improving my living condition is my pipe dream. The situation with an accommodation in our town is absolutely dead-end, the prices are unreasonably high and incomparable with income. The second reason is... me. I think in any case we could have a cat. But I can't bear cats. I've got an allergy. When I share one room with a cat I start to sneeze, tears come out of my eyes and I suffocate. It's terrible but I can't help it. It's sad, because my children are fond of pets. They love to play with little dogs and if it's impossible they play with puppet dogs. I'm so sorry we can't afford to have pets.
Bye now. I wish all of you nice weekend. Alex, the Captain. :)
posted on Friday, 10 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 11. The wedding anniversary.
Today is our wedding anniversary. Me and my wife got married fourteen years ago. We did it in 13th, Friday, at 13.00. Full raw of lucky numbers. :) It was hard time then. Russia survived consequences of the 'perestroika'. All the former structures of society was ruined and new ones are still not made. The period of lack, lack of everything. Besides we were students. We hadn't got money and we worked to collect them for our wedding. Our parents had little money as well due to enormous inflation which took place that time. To say, when I was a first year student I collected money for a camera, which was pretty expensive then. And I nearly done it when cameras dissapeared from the shops (as well as many other things). Besides I couldn't get my money back from the bank, it just didn't give them back. Finally, after years, just before the wedding I managed to get my money (without any compensation of course). I spent them all for the wedding posy for the bride. Nevertheless, we were young and fool of hope to cope with all our problems. (What about the expression 'fool of hope', isn't it nice? :) ) So we arranged our wedding party in our tiny flat. We invited our friends and relatives. They could hardly move because there was not empty room in there. Despite all of that it was fun and we were happy. What about the honeymoon, you're asking? Well, we did our diploma papers. :)
Tricia, I congratulate You with Your successful survival of the teenage party. I haven't such an experience yet. All we do to selebrate our children's birthdays for now is a dinner. They invite their friends but it hardly can be a party. Usually boys are bragging to each other their new toys during the party.
Speaking of soaps... May be Your are right saying that soaps attract audience with pictures of unknown life. But I think that they rather popular among people who are about loosing their track of life. At the moment, most of soap operas we watch here are made in Russia. Well, of course they are cloned from west series templates but characters are russian and the stage is similar to our daily life. Still they are popular. On the other hand I heard for several times that old and seek people said about the soap opera they watched: "I'm not going to die untill I know what all this stuff ends up with." In some mean it's a replacement for their dull existence. For instance, my wife doesn't watch soaps. She says they're too boring in comparison with her real work.
And finally some answers on comments. Thanks all who write them.
For Addeax from Germany: 'arrange a champing' means chew with a considerable noise.
For Aivanik from Moscow and for all those who are recently with us. I should mention that most pictures in my blog are not contemporary. They are taken in summer period and I attach them just for purpose of illustration the topic discussed. At the moment there is winter as well. I hope I could publish photos of present time in my nearest posts.
Believe it or not, I've been to Moscow for several times. I should say I don't like it very much. I find it too noisy, crowdy and fussy in comparison to my town (Nizhny Novgorod for those who don't remember or not aware)
For Jerry from China: thanks for good words; about videos I advise You to start with blockbuster series like "Harry Potter", "The Lord Of The Ring" and such. Besides them are interesting they also represent good common English. Especially if You're going to enjoy them with Your daughter.
posted on Monday, 13 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 12. Romantic mood.
So, yesterday me and my wife went to Chinese restaurant to celebrate our date. We ate sushi and drank Chilean wine. Sounds strange for Chinese cookery, doesn't it? Nevertheless we were pleased. And as soon as romantic mood hasn't passed yet, today I'd like to share with you some of my poetry. :)
The first one is a little bit silly-romantic. I wrote it several years ago, when I just started learn English. It's called 'Sky is blue'.
Sky is blue.
I love You.
I am looking through.
Snow is white,
That's all right.
All my dreams come true.
In the brain -
I am very glad.
Sing a song.
In my poor head...
The second one is more philosophical. The title is 'Forever old'.
I want to be forever old,
Forever smart and wise like wizard.
I want to be forever cold
And still, and silent as a lizard.
I want to be forever old.
And older's better, as a wine.
And if I would as piece of gold,
I'd like to do forever shine.
Forever young, forever drunk?
What's use to be forever nothing?
What's fun to be forever blank,
Surroundings not realizing?
Eternity is just for God,
Who watch the Universe through glasses.
So let me be forever old,
With thousands means of aliases.
By the way, what do you think about poetry in terms of English learning. Does it help you? Do you even read it? I must confess I haven't found poetry as a good way of learning. It's difficult to understand it. The grammar is often abused for the sake of rhyme and metre. Besides, this is not the case when you can pass by unknown words while following the punchline. But I appreciate that I might have missed something because I haven't read contemporary poetry but only ancient one, Shakespeare for instance.
Looking forward to feedback from you.
posted on Tuesday, 14 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 13. A 'clash' of cultures.
Tricia, of course I read russian poetry and sometimes even write it. And I like it. My favorite russian poet is Vladimir Mayakovsky. He was a real master of words. But I suppose you must have essential skills in russian to appreciate him, because it's absolutely no use to read him in translation. Though I believe it's true about all the poetry. I've found the poem You mentioned. It's realy accessible, in both means that it's easy for perception and it's easy to google it out. Unfortunately I haven't found any poetic sense in it. I'm so sorry. I think it's due to the difference in our cultures. And I'd like to talk about it tiday. I think it's the most key and simultaneously most painful question in modern world.
Tricia, yesrerday You told that You married the same man three times. I presume You just wanted to say that You had three weddings, because to marry the same man three times means that you married once then you divorsed, then maried the same man again, divorsed again and so on... :) There was a movie with such script. Speaking of several weddings it's nothing peculiar about it in our region. If the brige and the bridegroom are from different places (the town and the countryside for example) there are usually several weddings in each place. Because it's difficult to bring all the relatives together. Such weddings could last for weeks.
But what is more interesting is that You and Your husband are persons from the different cultures. Was it a problem for You for the first time? Did you face with some difficulties which had cultural basement? I didn't notice anything about that in Your blog and I think if You'd drop in a little bit on this topic it would be terrific.
Indeed, the cultural diversity is the most significant hurdle in learning foreign language. I've noticed that when I listen to my nationals speaking English it's fairly understandable for me. Unlike when I listen to foreigners. What do we learn mostly in this blog? The patterns! Patterns are deeply embedded into the culture. Similar cultures have similar patterns. When I read blog of Anita from Slovakia it was clearer to me than, say, blog of Chittisa from Thailand. Evidently, the reason is that my culture is a little bit closer to Slovakian than to Thai and the patterns I met in Anita's blog (like 'to lay down like a log') were more similar to russian patterns.
The other question is English that is getting the language of the international communication. Do the English patterns threaten the cultural diversity of other countries? Or they enrich other languages? May be vice versa, English is threatened by influence of plenty patterns from other cultures. Or again it's enriched with them? And may be as soon as English itself has so many accents already there will be 'international English' as well as American English or Australian English. Or there already is such an English? I have no answers to these questions at the moment. I would be glad if someone share his or her point of view with me on all those questions, which I appreciate are quite controversial.
posted on Wednesday, 15 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 14. The Reader Discussion Club
Yesterday I attended The Reader Discussion Club at the local British Council. A group of people who want to improve their English gather together once a week or once a fortnight and talk English. Yesterday it was our second meeting in this year. We talked about music. And we borrowed books from the library of the British Council to discuss them at our next meeting. I've chosen a book about arhitecture of London.
The group is big enough but it's going to be devided into two of smaller size. We've got a leader of our group who leads us through a discussion. His name is Andrew and he's from Manchester. At the photo he's standing at the left side of the picture, right above me.
The club is quite usefull. It helps us to improve speaking abilities of English. I reckon speaking is the weakest point of English for all those who don't live in the English-speaking countries. Despite the fact that levels of English of group members are different we communicate well with each other. I think it's great that British Council provides us with this tremendous possibility of discussion in English. I'm looking forward to have fun and use from our future meetings.
posted on Thursday, 16 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 15. Listening to the radio.
On my way from home to work and from work to home I usually listen to the BBC radio podcasts. I download them from the Internet and then into my MP3 player. Unfortunately, it is not very convenient to listen it with earphones. The sound level varies from one issue to another and during the same composition if it's complex, for instance speech and music. So I had to sneak under my cloaks which are several due to the cold weather and manipulate the volume level. Nevertheless I find listening to the radio quite useful way of learning. First of all it's just interesting. Second, it doesn't reqire much efforts. I mean that you can do this while doing something else or while unwilling spare time. My favorite podcasts are "Documentary" , "From Our Own Correspondent" and, of course, "Digital Planet". Beside I always learn something new from them, they are easy understandable due to good English. Also I listen to "The Best of Moyles", Cris Evans show and several others. As a rule, they are more fun but less clear for me; they speak too fast in there. :) Sometimes I listen to audiobooks when I can get them. I think that it's great that all these opportunities are available at the moment. Do you agree?
I wish you good weekend.
posted on Friday, 17 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 16. The household chores.
Hi there, back from weekends.
How are you all doing? I hope you are alright.
Tricia, I admire Your parents, espesially Your mom, for they are not afraid of such a journey. Elder people are much sensible with distant relocation due to their organism is more subjected by climate and time variations.
Despite I'm not forced by some great incoming event, I spent the weekend doing household chores as well. As soon as we spend the vast majority of warm-season weekends in the countryside, we've got lots of our flat chores postponed till winter. And now that time has come. By the way, indeed we are aware of gardening possession by UK culture and we even use an expression "British garden" as a suprime degree for a description of our country place when it's in the superb condition. It's a pity it happens too rare. :)
So, this weekend I made plinthes in my flat. It was difficult job. First af all, I had to move furniture apart the walls to get access to the working place. In some places it was impossible and I had to work laid under the cupboard. Not too convenient. Second, the floor and the walls in my flat are far from being straight. So there are lots of alignement efforts reqired, which are, to confess, still have a little result. And finally, we live in a panel nine-storey building. The walls are hard therefore significant efforts are needed to place the bolts. Nevetheless I succeeded with my task. Probably listening to the BBC radio helped me. :) You know It's fun when you hear time ticks and the voice says "The time is fourteen hours", then you look at the clock, see that it's five o'clock and wonder the difference. Then remember that you are at GMT+3. :)
In addition, Saturday evening we played ping-pong.
Sometimes we do this to keep ourselves fit. But it's rather erratic. So, as a result of all those exercises, today I feel a little bit painful. I'm looking forward to recover in a couple days.
posted on Monday, 20 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 17. Workin' out.
When I was a boy, I didn't excel in many sports either. Nevertheless I was a sporty boy. I learned in a school which had emphasis on sport. So the majority of the pupils were involved in some training. There were several sports we participated: skiing, basketball, football, sport orienting etc. We had regular exercises and even played football in the morning before school. It was amazing and healthy. When I left school I missed sport. Then I started to practise martial arts. Martial arts were quite popular in our country in that period. Lots of kung-fu movies flooded video-salons. Wushu groups were raising like mushrooms after a warm rain. Many of them were accidentally or on purpose fakes. I was relatively lucky to happen in the group of Huynh Ngok An, the patriarch of Vietnamese Wing Chun Kung-fu. That was great. I studied Wing Chun for over ten years. Unfortunately the situation changed and I had to stop my study. Now I'm pity a little about it. Nowadays I go to gym sometime for I believe a human must keep his body fit. I blame myself for it happens too occasionally but I'm looking forward to improve the situation in the nearest future. :) I wish I went to a swimming pool but those in the town have poor conditions, so I don't.
Speaking of DIY. Tricia, by the word 'plinth' I actually meant not a shelve but a skirting board (or baseboard, if you like). I just didn't find appropriate word yesterday. It appears not to be an easy task to dig the correct word out of my dictionaries. :) A man of many skills I am, but it's not willingly. I just can't trust anybody else to do what I need. Usually it costs too much but the result is disappointing. In the most cases when I hired someone to do a job for me I just had to redo the job. So now I try to do it myself first and only if I fail I ask for help. To confess, I don't like it much. Concreting walls, reparing the car, fixing the roof, painting, drilling, sawing, glueing and so on and so forth. Jobs are overwhelming. And you must take into consideration that nearly everything I do from scratch. After all, it takes significant time! You know, recently I bought a chair. It was a package of separate parts with holes had been drilled in it, with screws and all the stuff supplied. I just screwed it all together and got a chair. I spent ten minutes. If all the DIY jobs were like this I'd probably like it.
posted on Tuesday, 21 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 18. What's on the news...
So, what's on the news today? 'Lebanon mourns murdered minister Pierre Gemayel...' The news makes me thinking. But the thinking is apart from the question why the Middle East has been remaining the hottest place on the planet for decades. The thinking is about a person and a history. I've noticed he was only 34, even younger than me. What has he done? For his country, for the world? On the one hand he was a son of the former president and as for our country it's enough reason to become a minister. On the other hand, people who do nothing peculiar are hardly assassinated. Was he happy with what he had done?
Apparently all the people in the world could be devided on those who actively stretch the life and those who are passively carried by the stream. ( I hope Tricia will give me the correct pattern for this thought ;) ) I wonder what is the ratio of those two groups. Which do you think you belong to? I hope I'm in the first. :) Would it be good if there is only one group? Which one?
How do you feel your role in the history? I now tell you what I think on these questions. I believe there must not be one type of people. Our power is in our diversity. If there is only people of the first type they will tear the world apart soon. If all the humans are from the second group there is no progress, and we would be hanging on trees yet. In the same time, choosing my way I bear in my ming the track of the whole humankind. In particular, when I chose my speciality I thougth (and I still think the same at the moment) that computers is the best way to humankind's prosperity. And there is one more question I'm especially interested in. If the belonging to the certain group caused by man's nature or it must be brought up while childhood? Could it change with ages? As soon as I'm a father of two growing up boys and I feel a responsibility for them I wish I knew the answers.
In the end of today's blog I'd like to get back to podcasts for the sake of people like Namba from Germany who don't know about podcasts but would like to endevour to use it in learning English. I think it will be OK if I just give a link to the page where you can get all the information. Here is it:
posted on Wednesday, 22 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 19. The 'Casino Royale'.
Tricia, I simpathize You about Your managerie problems. In my childhood I had a dog. I named him Top, after the name of the dog from the novel 'The Mysterious Island' by Jules Verne I read at that moment. He lived for seventeen years and finally we had to put him to sleep because he was too old and weak.
Yesterday me and my wife went to the cinema and watch 'Casino Royale', the last James Bond film. Someone says that James Bond is back. I tend to disagree in this case. To my mind James Bond is not back. It seems that James Bond has died. But this is the case when we can say 'James Bond is dead. Long live to James Bond!' There is a striking difference between the last film and all the previous ones. Agent 007 has got new image, new charisma and new trend. It's difficult to say whether it become better or not. It's just become another movie. My wife didn't like it at all. She expected to see lots of luxurious cars, fashionably dressed girls and the ever-smiling hero. Instead she got the card game which she found boring. I don't support her in her judgement. I still find the film interesting and agile. But there is nothing special in it. The movie reminded me 'XXX' - the film with Vin Diesel, which some called 'James Bond in Rammstein style'. And again I pity I can't see it in English. Well, maybe I could find the mean to do it sooner or later.
posted on Thursday, 23 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 20. A plan for learning English.
Today I've decided to devote my blog to the problem arised by koorosh from IRAN - a way of learning foreign language. I believe this is the problem which is interesting for all those who study English, e.i. for all the current audience. The question of a plan for learning English is difficult enough. I must confess I'm not a newbie in English, in fact, I've been studying it for a quarter of a century. But it's a far cry to what it's meant to be. I started learning English at school and continued it at university. It was just a subject in a raw and I found it boring and useless likewise the majority of other subjects. So, when I left university I forgot English for a while. I got back to it several years ago, when I came to conclusion that English is absolutely necessary for participation in the modern world and especially in software design. Widespreading of the Internet helped it a lot. I pulled English out of the bottom of my mind and found it obsolete or even failed. At the moment I've got an idea that it was done on purpose. As soon as I learned English in the period of the iron curtain there was an intention to make us able to read texts and unable to communicate. But it's only my suspicion. Anyway I started to learn English again and now I'm on my way. Previous knowledge sometimes helps me, especially in grammar, but simetimes hinders, first af all by wrong patterns.
Despite the fact that my process of learning English was mostly occasional and erratic, I think that by the present moment I've realized the best way of learning. The idea is as simple as it could be - you must have a goal. But attention! There is a trap! The goal like 'I want to know English' is wrong. Process of learning is infinite and you are at risk to never succeed it. The goal must be sensible and achievable. To pass an exam - is a good goal. Thanks goodness, several exams for different levels are available. For instance, you can choose FCE -> CAE -> CPE line, or step by step increase overall band score in IELTS. It's up to you what will you choose, taking into account what your English is for.
Speaking for myself, similar to koorosh, I've chosen IELTS. It seemed to me more practical because it tests ability rather than knowledge. And this is ability that I need and that I'm weak. For instance fast seizing the mean is critical for reading. By the way, Tricia, following Your advice to read through unknown words I face with difficulty in understanding the mean of the whole sentence. Not knowing a word I often can't recignize where a subject ends and a predicate starts. Is there any key to cope with the problem?
I'm afraid I can't give a lot of advise for exam preparing strategy, beside you should have as much practice as you can. Different levels of English require different approaches. And it's might be better to ask available english teacher for recomendations. But if someone find it possible to share his or her tips and tricks here it would be terrific and usefull for all of us.
Wish you nice weekend.
posted on Friday, 24 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 21. Playing Go.
Hello, back from weekend.
This weekend I was not too busy with my household chores, so I managed to find free time for one of my hobbies - playing Go (iGo, Baduk - there are several name for the game in different regions). Go is an ancient board game which was invented in China more than a thousand years ago and has been developing mostly by Japanese nowadways. To my mind, despite the simplicity of the rules, it's an extraordinary interesting game. It holds lots of levels of strategy and tactics and requires different mental skills like good memory, concentration, confidence and so on. As far as I know I'm not the one who admire this game, because it's the most widespread board game in the world. (May be due to prevailed Asia population. :) )
We've got a group of Go zealots in our town. One of them was my colleague some time ago and he tought me to play. Then I bought a set of 'stones' (pieces in Go) and made a Go-board by myself. Despite I'm not a good player yet myself, I teach my kids whilst inspire them with the 'Hikaru no Go' anime. The anime in in Japanese with english subtitles. So from time to time we play Go and my childer sing songs in Japanese and dream about 'the divine move' :)
Thanks the progress, the Internet provides players of all the board games with tremendous possibility of playing all over the world. There are lots of internet-servers where a player of any rank can easily find an opponent for a game. That's great, because for me this is the best way to play Go and to develop my skills. Maybe once upon a time I even met someone of the blog readers inside the Go-servers space ;). And one more thing about Go and IT - as far as I'm concerned, Go is the only game left where a computer yet can not compete with a human.
Now, back to English. Tricia, It's an interesting story about Your teacher Miss Cosy-Wright. I think it's a milestone in the life of every person - to meet such a teacher. I'm afraid I can't brag with such an occasion. I'd been inspired mostly by literature or historical characters.
This is wonderful, Tricia, that You happen to be an IELTS examenor. I just haven't caught Your thought about confidentiality of Examenors... Does it mean that You can't share with me, for instance, some common errors wich people do in the exam? That would be pity.
And thanks for all the comments I've got. By the way, for those who still haven't understood a good way of improving his or her writing skill... Here it is - the blog. :)
posted on Monday, 27 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 22. My hobbies.
Tricia, I'm very glad for You to be met with Your parents. I think it's very important and I wish much happy time for you to be together. And say Hello from all the learning English community to Your parents. They have given us such a good teacher :).
Thanks for the advice about speaking, it's very useful. But, Tricia, what do You think is more important - to speak (and write) more with mistakes or less but thoroughly?
Today I'm going to proceed the topic of my hobbies I started yesterday and tell about some more hobbies I have. I'll tell you about two of them - playing the guitar and painting.
I started to play the guitar when I learned at university. I was inspired by a friend of mine who had been playing the guitar for a couple of years by that moment. And he tought me. For the first time the friend did it simply by putting my fingers into the correct place on the finger-board and told me which string to pull. Then I learned notes and started to play myself. At the beginning I used the guitar as an accompaniment for singing but after while I just played guitar compositions. There was a period when I spent significant time for guitar playing but now I do it from time to time.
Another my hobby was painting. When I was a schoolboy I posessed with art. Perhaps if there was no mayhem in our country then, I would be an artist. Our friends were getting married that time and I was a poor student, so I pained pictures and presented them as a wedding gift. And I presented my pictures for birthdays and other events. That was fun. Present days, unfortunately I have no conditions for painting so I don't do it. But I still hold a hope in my heart to return to this occupation in the future.
Some of you can tell that I'm a man of many talents and that it's good. But you know what, currently I don't think so. I wish I was a man of one talent which I could solely develop. Instead I have to share my free time (which is not so big) among several occupations. And I still can't choose one, I love them all, don't blame me. What do you think of it? Maybe you have an advice for me? I would appreciate it.
posted on Tuesday, 28 November 2006 | comment on this post
Chapter 23. Healthcare.
Yesterday I felt a little bit sick. I suppose it was a virus. Lots of people around me suffer from the same symptoms. I slept all the day long and missed my blog. I'm sorry. Now I'm recovering, thank you very much. I always sleep when I'm ill. I just let my organism take care of itself. If the disease lasts for a long time I read books or watch movies. I'm afraid in the last years it's the only time when I read paper books. And what are you usually do when you are ill?
And how do you cure? Do you rely on a doctor? Is it expensive in your region? Or you help it youself, like me. I never rely on a doctor unless there is no more chance. Unfortunately, medicine have been dieing over here and it's nearly dead. Doctors don't cure even for money. They or can not or don't want. Several years ago I fell with pneumonia and was stupid to ask an official doctor for help. Instead of cure the doctor made me do endless series of analyses so I almost died. It makes me shiver to remember that time. Since that I cure myself. Of course, it requires additional knowledge and we read medical books. The only use from a doctor is getting medical papers like drug recipe (if it's requred) an so on. So often it happens fun: I come to a doctor, tell him my disease, appropriate cure and just ask for the recipe.
As a result, the question of preventive healthcare rises with all the necessity. And it's a tough question. Especially taking into consideration that we have not many facilities to improve our healt in advance. Do you have any advise on this theme?
posted on Thursday, 30 November 2006 | comment on this post