Monday, December 19, 2011

NEW YEARS SPECIAL ON LESSONS!

Attn all:  My new phone number is (732) 807-5424.  This a permanent phone number, you can reach me via text or voice wherever I am.

Remember that I offer a free phone consult and a free no obligation trial lesson.  Call me today!  I'm running a New Years Special:

Have you ever made a "New Years Resolution"?  A New Years Resolution is a resolution to do something better, to make yourself better in the New Year.  Do you want to reduce your accent to do business better in America, so that people understand you when you speak, so that you can give presentations to your bosses and your bosses boss?  Do you want to speak good English, eloquently with only a faint trace of an accent?

Have you ever dreamed of having the good, moderate, soothing speech tones of a salesman or an actor?  I can help!  Give me a call @ (732) 807-5424 today to set up your free trial lesson.  For the rest of December and the entire month of January, I will give $20 off to anyone who purchases an entire month of lessons.  Get $160 worth of lessons for $140!

And of course, don't forget to check out my American Idiom of the Day Twitter Feed or check out my accent reduction training website for details.  Call (732) 807-5424 TODAY!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Other possible conversation openers and ways to make small talk:

As I've mentioned before, small talk is the art, in America and other places, of making social talk that acts as a social lubricant.  We make small talk with our colleagues and with people we want to meet or network with.

Small talk is called small talk because topically it is about the small things we enjoy in our everyday lives--sports, kids issues at school, food, pets (dogs, cats, lizards, hamsters, etc)--just about anything can serve as subject for "small talk" as long as you remember that another reason small talk is small talk is that it is "small" in nature--unserious, not deep, not in-depth or deeply emotional.




(American football and baseball are excellent topics for small talk in America, and you may often find that some Americans are interested in what you call football and what Americans call soccer and cricket--for the difference between "American football" and what might be called "football" where you are from, check out this series of posts on David Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training page on Facebook. )

It's worth noting again here that "How are you" is a *greeting* in America, similar to "hello" and the appropriate answer is, "things are fine, thanks" or "things are good, thanks".  It's not that the asker doesn't care how you are.  It's just that if he wants to know he will figure it out in other ways--by observing you to see if your body language or tone of voice indicates upset, emotional stress, or what have you.

(This is why, by the way, it's important to learn good, proper American intonation and speech rhythm--because your if your English intonation and rhythm are not correct, an American may assume that you are upset or not happy in some way and will wonder what he or she can do about it.

(So for instance, if you are from Germany, Russia, Poland, or somewhere similar--Eastern Europe or Russia in particular, your English vocabulary may be fine but your rhythm and intonation will give Americans the idea that you are unfriendly or even hostile, even if you are friendly and personable.  Americans derive emotional content from intonation--mostly musical pitch and other things, rhythm, how you stress your words, syllables, and vowels, and so on.)

In any case, I meant to talk about the art of good conversation in America, but I got sidetracked.  What a shame.  However, if you'd like help with this, give me a call @ (732) 618-4135 or contact me via email @ david.berlin.esl@gmail.com or on Skype @ david.berlin.esl.

I have some really good handouts and a short ebook on the topic.

My Skype rates for simple English conversation practice for international students are considerably lower than my rates for private lessons where I travel to a students location.  Get in touch with me for details.

All right?  All right.  New podcast on American conversation and small talk coming soon.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

By the way, you can follow me, David Berlin, on twitter automatically by clicking *this* button:




And of course you can check out my website for details about what I can help you with and how, and you can check out (and hopefully "Like") David Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training page on Facebook.

All right?  All right.  And remember to call (732) 618-4135 when you are ready to get your FREE short phone consult and your FREE no obligation full length trial lesson!

The difference between /s/ and /z/, reprised.


Well, now it's really fall.  Veteran's Day is coming soon, the 11th of November I believe.  A sad day on which Americans are reminded of the horror and waste that is war.  In this country we are currently engaged in two wars which the average American citizen seems to have almost forgotten about.

War is waste; wasted resources and wasted lives that could have been put to much better use in other ways at other tasks.  War costs daughters their fathers, sons their mothers and mothers and fathers their sons and daughters. 

It costs brave men and women their lives and limbs; many of them barely children, not even old enough to take an alcoholic drink in their country but old enough to absorb a bullet, or a piece of shrapnel, or kill another human being for it.  Makes me wonder how straight we have our priorities at times.

We should go to war only when *absolutely* necessary, when all other avenues have been exhausted and all other diplomacy has been tried.

Very quickly, I will talk about the difference between /s/ and /z/.  Essentially the difference, as usual, is that one is voiced (/z/ as in zebra or zest) and one is not voiced (/s/ as in sick, or sam).  Both sounds are made the same way--put the center of your tongue to your alveolar ridge, the hard gum ridge behind your front teeth, and blow air through your bottom teeth.  Try these words:

sell
seven
sire
slick
presto
musty
toast
close (describing distance between two things, not what you do to a door when you walk through it)







To make the /z/ sound, do the same as above, but use your voicebox--make your vocal cords buzz.  /z/
 
Try these words:

zebra
zesty
zealot
zenith
zipper
zero
present
peasant
blazer
blizzard
grows
rows
signs




Notice that some of the words with a /z/ *sound* are *spelled* with an /s/.  DO NOT FORGET that in English, spelling and pronunciation are *entirely* different things, and words are often not spelled the way they are pronounced.

Okay?  Okay.  If you get stuck, over on the right hand side of the page there is a link to a podcast you can download that will give you some idea of what this is supposed to sound like.

Remember that I offer a free no-obligation short phone consult and a free trial lesson.  To get your phone consult or book your trial lesson, call me today at (732) 618-4135.  Call today!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wow. Well. It's Halloween time, the time of year when American children dress up in all kinds of scary costumes and go around "trick or treating".  See last years post about All Hallow's Eve (All Hallow's Eve is the Catholic name for Halloween, which is followed by November 1st--All Saints Day in the Catholic Faith).

In any case, if you have any questions about American culture or corporate culture, or you'd like a FREE no obligation phone consult or to schedule a free trial lesson, email me by clicking this link or give me a call @ (732) 618-4135.

All right?  All right!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Remember that /θ/ and /ð/ are two DIFFERENT sounds in American English!

The /th/ sound comes in two different varieties in English--the unvoiced /θ/ as in thick and the voiced /ð/ as in the or these.  The difference, obviously is that you use your voicebox/vocal cords to make the second one--as in either.

The best rule to remember is that when the /th/ sound comes between two vowels, it is voiced.  This is because vowels in American English are always voiced, so it is easier.  But there are exceptions to this rule, for instance the word "ether" (the chemical that used to be used as an anasthetic).  But also, remember that "ether" is a scholarly or technical word, not an everyday word.  In English, scholarly or technical words are often exceptions to the rules used in everyday speech.  This is because scholarly or technical rules are typically drawn from other, non-English languages, with different rules.

Okay?  Okay.  And remember that I offer a free no obligation phone consult and a free trial lesson.  Give me a call @ (732) 618-4135 to schedule yours today!  I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Some Great Links!

Hi everyone! Here are some great links to some of my other ESL sites--

The first is my twitter feed: Dave Berlin's American Idiom of the Day Twitter Feed.

And Like my page on facebook: David Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training.

And remember that I offer a free phone consult and a free, no obligation trial lesson. So call me today at (732) 618-4135! Call today!

A Good Way To Open A Conversation

I know that some of you have trouble making what Americans call "small talk"--the talk that Americans make in social situations that helps move a situation along--talk to our co-workers, the people we do business with, and so on.

A good way to open a basic conversation in America is to make a remark about the weather. This may seem obvious, but culturally it's a good way to breach conversation with someone you don't know very well or don't know at all. It's considered a "safe" topic, and if you need to progress further you can.

Remarking on the weather will not make you an excellent conversationalist, but it'll get you started--it also depends on how you do it. "It's very hot outside." is a pedestrian thing to say, but if you walk into work and say, "Hoooooooweeee, it's hot. My goodness." in a loud voice, someone will take up the thread of conversation.

Americans tend to be very loud and expressive of emotion. We aren't reserved at all; we are informal speakers and we have no problem showing others how we feel--we are not subtle or delicate about our emotions, we express them everywhere and anywhere, with anyone.

This can be a hard thing to learn if you are not a native speaker of American English or if your culture is not as openly expressive of emotion. Some people perceive Americans as aggressive because we are so loud. That's one way to look at it. Another way is that Americans feel things very primally and very deeply.

Americans, by the way, tend to express their emotions in their speech via the use of intonation--the up, the down, the stretching of vowels, the stressing of and emphasis on certain words and syllables in speech, the changes in musical pitch when we speak, so on and so forth. If you are interested in learning how that works, I give accent reduction lessons and lessons in American speech. Give me a call at (732) 618-4135 to get your free phone consultation and remember that I offer a free no-obligation trial lesson. Call me today!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The difference between "put out" and "put off"...

There are two expressions in American English, two idioms, that have different meanings in American English than they do in British English. They are "put out" and "put off".

In British English, to be "put out" means to be angry.

Example: "I was put out with Ian for running around in the garden."

Another way the British say it is to be "cross".

Example: "I was cross with Ian for running around in the garden."

In American English, "put out" means something VERY DIFFERENT. You'll want to know the difference. "Put out" in American English is a verb--an action word--and it's very vulgar slang used to describe offering sexual favors. It really isn't used even in gatherings of men only. It's very, very vulgar.

In American English, there is another expression: "Put off". To be "put off" is *similar* to the British "put out" but to be "put off" is to be made uncomfortable or somewhat upset but NOT angry.

Example: "I was put off by his constant use of slang."

There is another meaning to "put off"--to "procrastinate". To procrastinate means to avoid doing something you have to do by saying you'll do it later. Someone who procrastinates rarely has everything together when they go to meetings, and is rarely prepared when they need to be. This is because they don't do what they need to do before the meeting.

Another way to say "put off" or "procrastinate" is to "put off for tomorrow."

This leads us to two English proverbs or words of advice (a proverb is a word of advice commonly offered): "Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today."

Okay? Okay. And as always, if you have any questions about this or any other issue in American culture, or about American language, or if you just want to get your free phone consult and book your free no-obligation trial lesson, give me a call at (732) 618-4135. My name is David Berlin. Call today!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fourth of July Is Right Around the Corner...

Well, everybody, the Fourth of July is right around the corner. The Fourth of July celebrates America's independence from the British Empire. We declared ourselves independent on July 2nd, 1776 and the news went forth to the original thirteen colonies two days later.

Trivia Question: Can you name all thirteen colonies? First person with the correct answer, emailed to me @ david.berlin.esl@gmail.com gets a $40 discount on the first month of lessons. Love to hear from you.

On Independence Day, Americans tend to do the same things we do on Memorial Day but Independence Day is overwhelmingly a joyous day--we light fireworks, we travel to see firework displays (the one on the Navesink in Red Bank NJ is one of the best in the country), we barbecue.

And in my own family, we have a long standing tradition of making ice cream. That's right, we have an old, circa 1969 ice cream maker, with a dasher (the part that "whips" the cream and puts air into it and makes it thick) a metal container, and a hand crank. It is to *die* for.

(the American expression "to die for" means it is so good you could lay down your life for it.)

I hope you all have a great holiday and remember! I give a free no obligation phone consult and a free trial lesson. All you have to do is make the call. (732) 618-4135. Call today!

Also check out Dave Berlin's American Idiom of the Day twitter page, Dave Berlin's ESL Website or become a fan of Dave Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training Facebook Page.

Take care!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What kind of stuff do you want to learn?

Hi everybody! I find myself wondering--you guys who read my blog, my readers--what kinds of things in English and Accent Reduction do you most want to learn? What kinds of situations in America give you the most trouble?

Do you have trouble making what Americans call "small talk" with Americans or in America--the social talk that people make at work or at social functions, dinners, parties and so on?

Do you have cultural troubles, where something Americans do mystifies, maybe upsets you a little bit?

Have you ever tried to order dinner and been upset when the server didn't understand what you were asking for? This happened to one of my students.

I'd love to hear from you guys. What are your troubles with American English and accent? How do they show themselves in your daily life in America?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tipping Hairdressers and Barbers And The Social Importance of These People In America

For tipping a hairdresser, I suggest reading this excellent article at eHOW.com entitled How To Tip A Hairdresser. It's worth noting that in America, a hairdresser is someone of significant importance in a woman's life. A hairdresser is expected to keep things in confidence the same way a therapist or psychologist would. My understanding is that hairdressers take a course or two in psychological issues and advice giving.

A woman's hairdresser in America might know things about his/her clients that their closest friends or husband might not know. A hairdresser has a connection to his/her clients that is in some ways more intimate than that of a husband. Women feel safe and comfortable in a salon; they do not have to censor themselves or keep up the filters that they need to keep up in the world outside..

As such, women in America tend to keep their hairdressers happy and tip well--and leaving a hairdresser is done rarely and not without great emotional turmoil on the part of the woman. They also buy Christmas gifts for them, give them cash gifts at Christmas, and give them referrals, which are the best gift of all.

Incidentally, for men, in America, it is often the same--a man will see the same barber (a barber is a man's haircutter) for years. I personally expect to see mine for haircuts once every five or sixe weeks until he passes on. He is 80-odd years old; he is the only one who can cut my hair. I have known him for perhaps fifteen or twenty years.

Men are more particular about barbers In America than women are and for the same reasons. They don't have to censor themselves--a barbershop in America is virtually certain to be an all male place, except possibly for a female barber who often adopts a "three monkeys" (hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil) attitude towards whatever she sees and hears there.

To solve further questions about American culture and corporate culture, or to take advantage of your free phone consult and to schedule your free trial lesson, give me a call at (732) 618-4135. Call today!

Tipping in America (Gratuities When Eating In Restaurants, Coffeeshops, etc)

Here is an American cultural topic that you'll need to know for the summer and one that confuses many non-Americans who live here. That issue is tipping or giving gratuities to waitresses, waiters, people who serve food, and counter people.

Tipping is not that complex if you remember a few basic things.
  • In a restaurant, diner or what have you where there is table service tip 15% for lunch and 20% of the before tax bill for dinner ALWAYS. If you can't afford to offer this gratuity, it's best not to eat in the restaurant or diner.
  • In a coffeshop or donut shop or bakery or somewhere similar, where the food is "takeout" (in other words you take the food from the deli, pizza place, bakery, or what have you and eat it at home) and the server is a person who works the counter, a dollar is usually appropriate for most orders and two dollars for a bigger order.
  • HOWEVER, THESE KINDS OF TIPS FOR COUNTER HELP ARE GIVEN IF YOU CHOOSE. THIS DIFFERS FROM A RESTAURANT/BUFFET/DINER WITH TABLE SERVICE WHERE YOU MUST ALWAYS TIP.
  • In other situations, such as a shoeshine person in a train station or airport, people pay whatever they like over and above the cost of the shine. People who work in the financial district regularly pay $20 or even $50 for a $4 shoeshine; I pay considerably less--usually $6-7. Remember in my last blog post how I talked about Americans and hard work and entrepreneurship and gumption? A shoeshine person is seen by most Americans as having gumption, as someone who is working hard to "make it". As such, we tip that person.
All right? All right. Remember that I offer a free phone consult and a free, no obligation one hour trial lesson. Check out my website or call (732) 618-4135 for details! Now that it's summer, you might have time to take lessons!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Yard Sales And Memorial Day Weekend

Hi everybody! Just a quick note on Memorial Day weekend, lemonade stands, and yard sales.

Memorial Day weekend is what most Americans consider the start of the summer season. Most non-seasonal businesses slow down their operations, and people dress more casually for the workplace. Americans tend to love summer more than any other season, and it shows.

Kids often start "lemonade stands"--they make lemonade, put some ice in it, perhaps purchase a few bags of chips, and set up shop on the sidewalk and try to get passers by to buy lemonade from them. If a child in your neighborhood opens a lemonade stand in your neighborhood and you happen to be taking a walk, it would do no harm to buy a glass of lemonade.

(Lemonade stands do not generally require any licensing or supervision by the government or municipality. There have been incidents of lemonade stands getting shut down by over zealous health authorities or politicians but it's considered by most people to be a waste of resources and there is usually an apology afterwards.)

Be aware that the lemonade will vary greatly in temperature and quality, but you should always smile and thank the child running the stand. This is because, once again, in America we encourage children to learn to work for their own money and earn their own money. It is part of what we call our American work ethic. A child who does things like that is considered to have "moxie" or "gumption"--a kind of get up and go. He doesn't wait for his parents to give him money, he goes and gets it himself. This is consistent with American cultural values.

Americans, particularly on Memorial Day weekend, which this year is May 28th & 29th, hold "yard sales". A "yard sale" is a sale where people put tables out on the sidewalk or the driveways of their home (NEVER THE STREET) and try to sell goods they own no longer use. They advertise their yardsales in the classified section of the newspaper under "garage sales" or "yard sales" (the words "garage sale" and "yard sale" are interchangeable--they are regional expressions for the same thing) and on craigslist and other classified ad sites, and sometimes you see signs around town directing you to a yard sale.

You can get great bargains on used goods at yard sales--most people are trying to sell things for whatever they can get for them, believing that used things that still work should not go to waste or be thrown out (another American cultural value--we think of ourselves as a people that doesn't like wastefulness). A garage sale is a very appropriate place to haggle and bargain. Many people make a day out of garage sales--having breakfast at a diner or a local place early in the morning and then heading out, going by car from sale to sale, looking for bargains on things they want or need.

Sometimes collectors show up at yard sales. There are people in America who collect all kinds of things, from guitars to rock n roll memorabilia to baseball cards--they often go to garage sales. Sometimes you hear about a "garage sale find", where someone finds a high end, expensive collectible at a garage sale for $5-10. I myself have heard of people finding expensive electric guitars and Stradivarius brand trumpets for $10 or $20. Even if something like that is in terrible condition, for $20 purchase price, it's worth it to buy it and have it repaired.

Just a quick note: if you want to hold a garage/yard sale of your own, you'll usually need a permit. It's easy and no trouble to get one--you just go down to the town hall and ask the clerk for one, pay a negligible fee and they'll give you one.

It's unusual for a town to crack down on unlicensed garage sales, but in this era of towns and municipalities desperate for cash, it can happen. The fine for having an unlicensed garage sale will be considerably more than the fee for the license.

So that's the story with garage sales.

Remember, I am open for business, I give ESL and accent reduction lessons to help New Americans do business, socialize, and be comfortable in America. I offer a free no obligation phone consult and a free 15 minute trial lesson. See my website for details or call (732) 618-4135 to speak directly to me, David Berlin. I look forward to hearing from you!





Monday, May 16, 2011

Another American Conversational Taboo: How much did that cost?

Here's another video describing another American cultural conversational taboo. Generally in American conversational culture, you try not to ask people how much things cost. It's actually considered in some quarters to be less polite than asking how old someone is. Asking how much something cost is a really big social mistake when conversing with an American.

video
So that's our lesson for today. Remember, if you have any questions about English learning, accent reduction, or American culture, feel free to call me at (732) 618-4135 to discuss them, or to get your free fifteen minute phone consult and a free trial lesson. You can check out my website for more information here:

David Berlin's Accent Reduction and ESL Lessons

Or you can also fan me on facebook here:

David Berlin's Accent Reduction and ESL Training Facebook Page


Or check out my Twitter American Idiom of The Day

Or David Berlin's ESL/Accent Reduction Podcasts Page

'Til next time, take care! Call if you have cultural questions or want to book lessons! (732) 618-4135

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hi everybody! This is a great video featuring yours truly, me. The video is on the difference between voiced and unvoiced consonants--for example the difference between /g/ as in gut and /k/ as in cut. Check it out!

If you'd like to further discuss this, or to schedule a free, no obligation trial lesson and get your free phone consult, give me a call at (732) 618-4135 or shoot me an e-mail at david.berlin.esl@gmail.com.

Also, feel free to check out my twitter page: David Berlin's American Idiom of the Day and David Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training Facebook Page. Become a fan on Facebook by clicking on the "Like" button to the right of the page title at the top!


video

And remember: I also give lessons via Skype--my Skype ID is david.berlin.esl. It's a great option for those who don't want to travel or who live in a country other than the United States of America. Contact me today!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Some links you may not have seen:

My Website: David Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training

My Podcasts: David Berlin's Accent Reduction Podcasts

Take a look! And as always, call me at (732) 618-4135 to get your free, no obligation phone consult and to schedule a time for your free trial lesson. Call today!

Spring in America!

Hi everybody! Well, Spring is sprung, at least here on the East Coast. People are going to eat in restaurants more, in a month or two they'll be heading to the beach or the lakeside. Things slow down in the US in the summer, although nightclubs and many retailers do a brisk business. Spring is a good time for entrepreneurs to start certain kinds of summer-related businesses (for instance, hot dog carts, shoe shine stands, coffeeshops, and so on) because of the cash boost they'll get.

People take vacations in the summer--they go all over--we travel via train and plane and automobile. Some of us like to go fishing--to "go fishing" is to get a fishing rod and reel--usually obtainable for low, low cost, bait the hook with a nightcrawler, and go to a lake, stream, or river to catch fish. Some people eat the fish they catch; some throw them back.

In many states, the state "stocks" the lake for fishermen--this means the state raises fish and puts them in the lakes and ponds for fishermen to catch them. Bear in mind that you often need a license to go fishing and usually a trout stamp to fish for trout. This can be expensive (it's $24 per license w/stamp in NJ) but it's good for the entire season. Usually, very young children are not expected to buy licenses.

Licenses, rods, reels, and fishing locations (called, "fishing holes") as well as tackle can be gotten by looking in your local yellow pages or searching online in your location for "fishing gear". If you and your children enjoy fishing, it's good to make friends with one local store and give them your business; in return they will give you news on where, when and with what to fish. The information locals give you is invaluable to catching fish and you'll make friends too.

If you are lucky enough to live near saltwater--the ocean--you can go out on a party boat or fish off a jetty. A jetty is a long wavebreak made out of rocks that people head out to the end and sides of to fish for saltwater fish like flatties and blues (bluefish). In fact a common expression among fishermen at the Jersey Shore, where I live, is "the blues are running". Doctors have been known to leave the hospital and head for the shore if they hear that the blues are running. Lawyers close up shop early for the day. When the blues are running, it's a serious business because you have to catch 'em before the school is gone, and you don't know how long they'll be there.

By the way, the sound /ʃ/ represented by the letters "sh" at the end of fish or the letters "ti" as in the "tion" word ending (pronounced ʃɘn or "shun" as in situation) is a *different* sound from the sound /ʒ/ as in the end of the word switch or the beginning of the word chair. (Which can be contrasted by the following minimal pair):

share chair

or

fish fitch

or

sheet cheat

or

shill chill

And so on. A podcast with that info is coming, as is a video on voiced vs voiceless consonants. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hi everybody! You can check me out on facebook and friend me there if you'd like! My page is here:

David Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training

You can also see my twitter page here, and sign up for my American Idiom of the Day!

If all of this information is helpful, won't you help me with a small gift in the tip jar below so I can continue to bring it to you? I would really appreciate it and be honored by it.

And remember, you can always call me for your free phone consult and to set up a free trial lesson. That number is (732) 618-4135. Call today!

Check it out! David Berlin is all over the web!






Tip amount




Saturday, March 5, 2011

American Conversational Taboo

Hi everybody! This is a short instructional video about an American conversational taboo: A mistake you don't want to make when talking to an American.

video


If you liked this blog and this video, how about a little donation? It takes some work to put this all together, and I really enjoy the work and bringing these videos and instructional podcasts to you. If you've enjoyed them as well, how about a donation? Thanks everybody! Take care, 'til next time.






Tip amount




Monday, February 14, 2011

Definite and indefinite articles: a an the

Hi everybody! There's a new podcast that explains how to use the definite and indefinite articles (a an the) in English speech. Essentially, a and an are indefinite articles, used when you are talking about something but not a specific something: "A train" or "an ice cream cone."

You use a when the thing you are referring to starts with a consonant and an when it starts with a vowel. "A box of donuts." "An osprey."

(An osprey is a kind of bird, similar to a hawk.)

You use the when you are talking about one specific thing out of many--"the osprey that we saw in the moonlight last night" or "the box of donuts we got from Dunkin Donuts the morning of the test."

That's the general idea. As with all my podcasts, I hope you enjoy this one. If you'd like to reach me, remember that I offer a free telephone consult and a free trial lesson. Give me a call at (732) 618-4135 to get your free consult and free trial lesson today!

I've added a tip jar to this blog. If you find these podcasts at all useful, won't you show your support by bestowing some of the old gelt on the man who writes it, whose picture is on it, and who takes the time to do it when he could just as easily be wandering a beach in Bora Bora with a metal detector and a sand scoop...

Next time: Video for the Blogshack





Tip amount




Sunday, January 16, 2011

Major American football game this week if you live in the Northeast. The New York Jets vs the New England Patriots. People have parties with "buffalo wings"--chicken wings baked in hot sauce, which they dip in bleu cheese and then eat celery to cool their mouths.

At football parties we eat tortilla chips dipped in "layer dip", and "onion dip"--Lipton onion soup mix mixed with sour cream. We order out pizza and "subs"--huge sandwiches with meat, cheese, dressing, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, oregano, salt, and hot peppers. In America, pizzerias will usually deliver pizza and subs to your house. You should tip the delivery person--three or four dollars is appropriate for a party order. The delivery person makes part of his living from tips; he is only paid a small wage by the pizzeria that employs him.

At football parties we watch our teams and cheer them on--for the jets the cheer is "J-E-T-S! JETS JETS JETS JETS!"

Here's video of "Fireman Ed"--an unofficial Jets mascot leading fans in a Jets cheer.

Some people even have home theaters with huge television screens where they watch the games. We drink beer--Heinekin, Budweiser, or Coors are good brands.

We also have a tradition in this country of "tailgating" at American style football games. "Tailgating" is when fans of a team gather in the parking lot of the stadium before a game and set up huge grills and portable cookers and cook chile, hot fries, ribs, po' boys, crab sandwiches, barbecued chicken--everything and anything goes at a tailgate party. It's rowdy and raucous--a place to really let down your hair. (To "let down your hair" means to get rowdy and act wild). Tailgate parties often involve competitions for the hottest chili or the best ribs.

Tailgating got its name because of the "tailgate" of a pickup truck--people would drive their pickup trucks to the game and put their cookers and food and everything in the bed and sit on or serve food on the lowered tailgate. Tailgate parties are a great time for fans to meet up with each other and generally enjoy the camaraderie of their fellow team lovers.

Note: if you ever go to a tailgate party, you are expected to bring some kind of food yourself--meat is best but if you can't, a selection of dips, salsas and *plenty* of chips and drinks will do. You have to remember that you are feeding a *huge* number of people. It's also a good idea to bring beer--but be *careful* who you give it to. In America, the drinking age is 21 and it is ILLEGAL to provide alcohol to anyone under that age, and the consequences are SERIOUS.

All right? LETS GO JETS!

(The Jets are winning the game going on right now Sunday evening...if they go all the way to the Super Bowl at the end of January it will be their first time since 1969. Jets fans used to be referred to as "long suffering"--the Jets were famous for opening the season big and then falling apart. No more. Last year they made it all the way to the conference championships, one game before the Super Bowl. This year it is conceivable that they could go all the way and maybe even win it.)

All right? All right? Catch you later! LETS GO JETS! ;-)

Monday, January 10, 2011

How to get your snow shoveled or your car shoveled out...

In America, particularly on the East Coast, it snows a *lot*. If you are from India or Southeast Asia, or somewhere tropical and warm, you might not be used to the snow or know how to handle it. What do you do when your car gets stuck and you can't go anywhere?

Remember how I mentioned a few posts back that kids sometimes in the fall will go around the neighborhood seeking small chores?

Well, often in the winter those same enterprising kids come to shovel cars out. Now, this is a situation where you *must* not bargain or try to get the job done inexpensively. In this situation, the kids have the upper hand and here's the reason: There's plenty of work--if they can't work with you on price they'll leave you stuck and go somewhere else. People get desperate in the snow, when they can't go anywhere.

The going rate in NJ is about $30-35 to shovel out a car so it can move on to the road--in other words, to get it completely unstuck from the snow. Driveways are more expensive--between $50 and $80. Bear in mind that the kids work quickly and the work is backbreaking.

If you hire a crew of two or more kids, then the going rate is $20-25 per person, flat rate for a car or $40 per person or so for a driveway. What you are paying for is speed. A three man crew should have a car completely unstuck and a parking space carved out and able to move in half an hour or less. It's in their best interests to move fast--their goal is to move from job to job to make as much money as possible.

DO NOT hire a crew or a worker and then attempt to pay by check. First of all, most kids can't cash a check--they have no ID and no bank account. This kind of work is ALWAYS paid for in cash.

All right? That's how that works. Kids are taught from an early age in America that if they want money or anything else, they have to be willing to work for it. SO they work for it. However, if you live in a wealthy neighborhood, the kids might not come shoveling because they don't need to. It depends on the circumstances.