Sunday, March 30, 2008

Conversation With My Sister Pt. 2

[In part 2 of my conversation with my sister, we talk about Todd's motorcycle accident}

Tiffany: So what else have you been up to? Anything much?

A.J.: No, not a lot. Let’s see – doing a little bit of work, you know, and let’s see, went out to Todd’s yesterday, rode my motorcycle out there. I’ve been riding my motorcycle a little bit.

Tiffany: You say you’ve been practicing on that?

A.J.: Yep, yep. And oh, I bought my ticket to Thailand.

Tiffany: Oh, so when you leaving?

A.J.: So I’ll be leaving at the end of this month, and then we’re gonna be staying there for – it looks like we’re gonna be traveling a couple months.

Tiffany: Okay.

A.J.: And then we’re gonna – at the end of the trip we’re gonna do a couple weeks in Japan, which will be fun.

Tiffany: Oh, okay. So when do you actually come home?

A.J.: Then we’ll be coming home in May sometime, I think.

Tiffany: In May; oh, okay. So then are you going anywhere between May and the end of the year, or just gonna be in San Francisco?

A.J.: We’ve talked about doing a little motorcycle tour of California, maybe.

Tiffany: Oh, okay.

A.J.: During the summer.

Tiffany: Now, Grandma said that someone – Mom told her one of your friends got in a motorcycle wreck?

A.J.: Yeah, Todd. Tiffany: Oh, man!

A.J.: He didn’t even leave the driveway. He had this thing, this little plastic piece on the accelerator that’s supposed to like be able to rest his hand, because his wrist hurts him, I guess.

Tiffany: Uh huh.

A.J.: Well, Wat had told him, you know, “Don’t use that thing. It’s dangerous.”

Tiffany: Uh huh.

A.J.: Well, he put it on there anyway, and sure enough, he started it up and he’s just, you know, in the driveway.

Tiffany: Uh huh.

A.J.: And he kind of hit the accelerator, and it – and then it got away from him, and he let go, but that plastic piece, you know, hit his, you know, kind of bumped against his wrist, and it kept the accelerator open.

Tiffany: Oh.

A.J.: So it ended up slamming his bike against a parked car with his leg in between-

Tiffany: Oh.

A.J.: And then falling down, and then it cut this huge massive gash in his calf.

Tiffany: Oh, God!

A.J.: You could see the muscle hanging out.

Tiffany: Oh, man! Could they even stitch it?

A.J.: Yeah, yeah. I took him to the ER, and they – it was, you know, of course an all-day ordeal, but they stitched him up.

Tiffany: Oh, yeah. So it was preventable if you don’t have that little thing on there.

A.J.: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think if he hadn’t had that thing on there he would’ve been okay.

Tiffany: Okay. I guess he should’ve listened to Wat.

A.J.: Yep. That’s what he said afterwards; he’s like, “Damn it, Wat told me not to use that thing. He said it was dangerous.” So –

Tiffany: Yeah.

A.J.: I guess we should listen to Wat. He’s the experienced rider in our group.

Tiffany: Oh, is he?

A.J.: Yeah.

Tiffany: Man, that sucks.

A.J.: Yeah, it was – oh, it was gruesome. When I saw it, at first my eyes were like –

Tiffany: Oh, man!

A.J.: Wide open. Because he hopped up really quick, and then he, he sort of hopped back into his house, and I didn’t see any blood or anything.

Tiffany: Uh huh.

A.J.: So I thought he – you know, I thought he was banged up, but I thought basically he was fine.

Tiffany: Well, he’s lucky that didn’t hit an artery or something.

A.J.: Yeah, yeah. He’s very lucky. Oh – it was –

Tiffany: Plus he didn’t hit it in a dangerous spot.

A.J.: Yep.

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Conversation With My Sister Pt. 1

In this conversation, my sister and I talk about the Super Bowl (the American Football Championship game). At the end we talk about Payton Manning (a famous player) and his brother Eli (whose team won the Super Bowl).

Tiffany: Hello.

A.J.: Hey.

Tiffany: Oh, hi! What are you doing?

A.J.: Oh, not much.

Tiffany: Oh, sorry I missed you. We – funny thing is we went to see a friend of ours, bought a house out in the country. We were just going on a little drive to see it. Well, the roads you’re on are all windy back there, and we got lost and ended up down in Brown County.

A.J.: Oh, no!

Tiffany: So that’s why we weren’t home till late.

A.J.: Oh, no – you got lost, huh?

Tiffany: Yeah, so at least little Missy got a nice nap out of it, so.

A.J.: Oh, that’s good. So she did okay in the car?

Tiffany: Oh, yeah; oh, yeah. So how are you doing?

A.J.: I’m fine. Yep, doing fine. How’s is it – what’d you think of the game?

Tiffany: Oh, man! I couldn’t believe it. I never in a million trillion years thought the Giants would beat them.

A.J.: No, I didn’t think –

Tiffany: Nope.

A.J.: I didn’t think the Patriots would lose either. I was pretty – pretty shocked.

Tiffany: I wonder what happened? I mean, they have been on a roll.

A.J.: Yeah, and they looked pretty flat, you know?

Tiffany: Yeah, they did.

A.J.: I have no idea what happened. It’s – huh.

Tiffany: Really weird. I bet those Dolphins are celebrating once again.

A.J.: Yeah, really.

Tiffany: Because I thought for sure they would win. Well, everybody did.

A.J.: Yeah, I know, I know. I don’t know if they just got, you know, complacent, you know?

Tiffany: That’s what I’m wondering, if they got kind of cocky like, “Oh, this isn’t gonna be a big deal,” and the Giants were really hungry for it, and –

A.J.: Yeah, yeah. I guess so. I don’t know. It was interesting, though, so yep, the Dolphins are still the only team ever to have a perfect season including the Superbowl.

Tiffany: Are they – so no one before them has even done it?

A.J.: No. Now, I don’t know about like pre-Superbowl times, you know – they –

Tiffany: Oh, okay.

A.J.: When they used to have just like some sort of a championship, but at least in the modern time, since they started the Superbowl, the Dolphins are the only team to have a perfect season including, you know, winning the Superbowl.

Tiffany: That’s pretty amazing. Well, and the thing is to be so close.

A.J.: Oh, and it’s heart-breaking!

Tiffany: To it; I mean, you know it’s gonna be almost impossible to do that again.

A.J.: I know; to make it all the way to the Superbowl without losing, and then to lose the last game. Oh, my God!

Tiffany: Yeah. I mean, those guys just – because you know they wanted that record.

A.J.: Oh, yeah!

Tiffany: They’d been playing all their starters all the time.

A.J.: That’s gotta be crushing.

Tiffany: Oh, yeah!

A.J.: I wonder how they’ll bounce back from that next season?

Tiffany: I don’t know. It should be interesting to see.

A.J.: Yeah, yeah.

Tiffany: But –

A.J.: I’d almost rather – you know, I’d almost just rather lose one beforehand, you know.

Tiffany: Oh, I know, than to make it all that way and then to lose. That seems almost crueler.

A.J.: I think sometimes, you know, at least you always hear in the interviews that, you know, teams that maybe lose one game or something, that it sort of toughens them up a little bit, you know? And so it’s sort of like it’s a reality check, and they’ve gotta – so maybe, you know, that’s what happened. They just never got that –

Tiffany: Uh huh.

A.J.: And maybe it was too hard to start believing all the hype that they were so incredible.

Tiffany: Right, and I’m wondering –

A.J.: So now, you guys’ little bro – I mean, Payton’s brother has got a ring.

Tiffany: I know – good for him! Poor guy, they crucified him for – he had so much to live up to.

A.J.: Yeah, well, he’s in New York, you know. I think it’s a lot rougher than Indiana to be a –

Tiffany: They’re pretty rough there.

A.J.: You know, a sports star there.

Tiffany: Are you there?

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chat About Vegetarianism

Interviewer (AJ): I just did a podcast about vegetarianism. On the forums there’s this super, super cool learner/member named Sri. She’s actually Indonesian.

Interviewee (Kristin): Um hm.

Interviewer: Anyway, she comments on my blog a lot, she’s really active on the forum, she helps other people out and answers their questions. She’s like the über-super-learner, you know?

Interviewee: Um hm.

Interviewer: It’s like I wish I could be like her with Spanish. I’d be fluent in a month. But anyway, she’s kind of – she’s not vegetarian, but it sounds like she eats sort of quasi-vegetarian.

Interviewee: Um hm.

Interviewer: Like she eats lots of vegetables, eats really well. Well, she started, like scheduled this whole Skype discussion with other members on the topic of vegetarianism.

Interviewee: Hm.

Interviewer: Yeah, it was kind of cool, and so that inspired me to, you know, maybe write a little, do a little podcast about being vegetarian. Maybe I should – I can interview you some time about – because I talked about my story, why I’m vegetarian, but yeah, maybe we could chat about that sometime and record it.

Interviewee: Okay.

Interviewer: Would you be interested in doing that? When did you become vegetarian?

Interviewee: Well, you know, honestly not strictly until some point in Thailand, because I was still occasionally eating fish.

Interviewer: So you were kind of mostly vegetarian, though, before that, right?

Interviewee: Well, yeah. Everything was cut out except for occasional fish when I was 22.

Interviewer: Wow. That’s quite a while.

Interviewee: Yeah.

Interviewer: Because I don’t remember you eating that much fish.

Interviewee: I did in the beginning, and it was more of a rebellious thing because I felt like Todd is the one that pressured me into quitting eating meat, and I wasn’t comfortable with that. And I was like, “Well, you know, I’ve already been thinking of moving along these lines.”

Interviewer: Yeah, but you don’t want somebody –

Interviewee: I was hesitant about giving up fish, and so therefore I’m not going to.

Interviewer: Well, of course you don’t want somebody pushing you. That’s not good.

Interviewee: Right. So in the beginning it was more, and it generally became less and less. But I think I still – you know, I honestly don’t remember ever eating it in Thailand, but I must have because it seemed like there was this turning point when I – when Wat and I went with Gene and Brandy down to Phuket and went out on the boat when they went deep sea fishing. And one of them reeled in this fish, and it’s a big fish and it’s flopping around, and somebody picked up this mallet type thing and hit it, and just knocked it, killed it, instantly. And when I saw that, I was like, “I’m done. I’m not even eating fish any more.”

Interviewer: Yeah, you sort of realize, “Oh, they are alive and sentient.”

Interviewee: Right. Yeah.

Interviewer: You know, they’re aware and they suffer.

Interviewee: Yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah. I kind of get that a little bit when I scuba dive. You realize how like fascinating and intelligent they are.

Interviewee: Um hm.

Interviewer: And it’s – it’s like, “You know, they’re not plants.”

Interviewee: I started realizing, I think, when I had my 75-gallon tank, actually.

Interviewer: Um hm, um hm. I think that’s always been for me, that, you know, the main thing. It’s like if they’re sentient beings with some sort of nervous system that’s capable of suffering, it’s like, yeah, don’t wanna cause that.

Interviewee: Yeah.

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Osaka Demonstration: April 5th, 6-9:30pm

Announcing The First Effortless English Demonstration!

On April 5th, we will demonstrate the Effortless English System in Osaka, Japan.

This is a Free demonstration, open to anyone. During the demonstration, I will teach a sample Mini-Story Lesson. I will also teach a sample Movie Technique Lesson.

We will explain the Effortless English System, and will give suggestions about how to study independently using our methods.

Location: Osaka Municipal Lifelong Learning Center (Osaka Shiritsu Sougo Shogai Gakushu Center)
1-2-2-500 Kitaku (Umeda) Osaka, Japan
Room: Number 3 (5th Floor)
Time: 18:00 - 21:30

To register for this demonstration (and to get information about future Osaka events), please enter your email below:

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Vegetarian Story

Hello, and welcome to Effortless English. Today is another spontaneous podcast, spontaneous English. And of course spontaneous means “without a plan,” and it’s the most natural kind of speaking. It’s speaking without reading, without planning what you’re going to say. And it’s the way we speak when we have normal conversations, of course. So today I was trying to think about, you know, what should I talk about? I need a general topic at least, and I was reading our Effortless English forums and noticed they had some Skype discussions about being a vegetarian.

Sri, one of our really fantastic members, who – she’s got so much energy and enthusiasm and motivation – she started a Skype discussion on the topic of vegetarianism. And I thought, “Hey, hey! Why don’t I talk about that?” It’s a good podcast topic because, you know, some members know that I’m a vegetarian, and I sometimes get comments or emails asking me about when did I become a vegetarian, why, how? So I’ll quickly talk about that. How and why did I become a vegetarian?

Well, I became a vegetarian about 15 years ago, and it actually was not easy for me because before I became a vegetarian I used to eat lots and lots of meat. I was a carnivore. In fact, my favorite restaurant was McDonald’s, and I would go to McDonald’s all the time, many times every week. In fact, the McDonald’s employees knew my order. I would walk in and they already knew what I was going to order. They would just start typing it. But then, you know, something changed. A few things changed.

The first thing that changed was I got a job as a security guard. This was after I graduated from university with my first degree – my first of three degrees – my undergraduate degree, which is in journalism. And I graduated and could not find any good jobs, so I had a lot of bad jobs, and one of those bad jobs was a security guard at a chicken plant, this big chicken processing plant. And what that means, in fact, is it’s a place where they kill the chickens. They bring in these big trucks with all these chickens, and then they put them into the factory and the workers grab them and put them on these machines, and the machines kill them, and the blood goes everywhere, and it’s truly horrible.

And I walked around this place as part of my job; I worked on the weekends as a night guard. Well, I only lasted two weekends. After two weekends, I had enough. It was too much; oh, it was horrible. I hated it, and I saw how the chickens suffered, you know. I could see they were in pain. They’re screeching and screaming, and it was horrible, and that made a strong impression on me. And I thought, “Hm, maybe I don’t want to eat meat.” So I started trying to eat less meat.

Also I wanted to become a little more healthy, because, you know, I was generally healthy but I had started running. Running, you know, first 3 miles, 4 miles, 5-6 miles, but running was very tough for me, very hard. I got very tired, breathing very heavy when I ran, and I didn’t enjoy it so much. So I had read that actually a vegetarian diet was really healthy, and that a lot of runners have a vegetarian diet, and tri-athletes have a vegetarian diet, or an almost vegetarian diet.

So I started trying to reduce the amount of meat that I ate, but I wasn’t a vegetarian until, then, I got a book called Diet for a New America. A friend recommended it to me, a friend who was a vegetarian, in fact, and the book is by John Robbins. It’s an excellent book, and it’s called, again, Diet for a New America. So I read this book, and it’s a really good book. It’s a book that it’s not trying to convince people, you know, “You must be a vegetarian!” But it – it just reviews a lot of the scientific research behind vegetarian diets.

It also talks a lot about the food industry, especially the meat industry, which is just horrible; the factory farming industry, terrible, terrible. And it talks about the environmental impact of raising animals to eat them, to kill them and eat them. And the environmental impact of going vegetarian. So I read this book and it was a very powerful book. I was convinced. I thought, “You know, this is – it all makes sense, and I have already seen, you know, how the animals suffer.” And I knew that cows suffer just as much or more, and pigs, really horrible, and I don’t want to, you know, contribute to suffering for any being, any sentient being, any being with a mind and emotions and feelings. I don’t want them to suffer because of me because I wanna eat something that I like.

So for all these reasons I started changing and really getting serious that I wanted to become vegetarian. And then the final straw, the final convincer for me, was I read Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, and he talks a lot about his experiences with being a vegetarian. Of course, Mahatma Gandhi is just one of the great human beings of the modern era, maybe ever. A very deeply spiritual and ethical person, and that also affected me. And so, finally, I became a vegetarian. But after one month, I quit, because it was too difficult because I really loved meat and I had this strong habit of eating meat, and it was hard to change. So I started eating meat again.

But then I started thinking that this is a principle that’s important to me; I don’t want animals to suffer. I want to be healthier. So then I became vegetarian again. And then I quit again. And I did this back and forth, back and forth, for almost a year, until finally I completely became a vegetarian, and that was about 15 years ago, and I’ve been a vegetarian ever since. Something very interesting happened when I became a vegetarian related to my running. I noticed during that year when I was going back and forth, I noticed that when I was eating vegetarian I felt great when I was running, and when I would race in these races, like a 5K race, for example, I got faster times. But when I was eating meat, I felt more tired, it was more difficult to run, and my times in the races were slower.

So for me this was a bit of empirical kind of quantitative scientific evidence that hey, the vegetarian diet is healthier. I’m in better shape, and I can run faster and longer, and I feel better, when I’m vegetarian. And that was probably one of the things that was the kind of big thing that convinced me that you know what? This is the way to go; this is what I need to do. And as I said, that was 15 years ago, and I still have a lot of energy and I still feel good, and I’m still very happy to be a vegetarian. No meat for 15 years, and I feel great. So anyway, that’s my story of becoming a vegetarian.

If you’re interested in being a vegetarian – you know, I don’t try to convince people. I don’t try to tell people, “You should be vegetarian!” But if someone is interested, if they ask me, then I do recommend John Robbins’ book Diet for a New America. It’s a really great introduction to being a vegetarian. Okay then. So that’s my story of being a vegetarian. See you next time. Bye bye.

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.