With about a year or a little more focused study, most students may be able to carry on a simple conversation in a second language.
Still, some barriers exist to that kind of practice.
First and foremost, there is the barrier of confidence.
It takes courage to butcher another person’s language and, inevitably, a novice speaker will do just that. Accept it. Trust that others will have the grace and patience to ignore the mistakes.
Second, there might not be anyone to talk to within the second language. Take a tip from Arieh Smith, a New Yorker and a polyglot, who is fluent in Mandarin, one of the most complicated languages in existence (although he says Navajo is actually the most difficult.) He goes by the name of Xiaoma on YouTube and regularly learns new languages, and practices them with native speakers. He does this mainly by ordering food. He goes to a non-English neighborhood restaurant, store, or food truck and orders food in English, then at some point switches languages to ask a question.
It’s a good strategy. Try it by creating some basic questions and learning the vocabulary for the location. Start out by speaking in English, then add a question in your chosen language.
This will also work in travel situations, from the airport to the hotel. Keep in mind that at resorts or on cruises, the wait staff is likely to be proficient in English while less visible staff, such as housekeeping or maintenance, are less likely to speak it. So try your language with the room attendant or room service person. Don’t be afraid to engage a tour guide in your chosen language.
While traveling, be sure you familiarize yourself with some helpful phrases. Don’t rely solely on your memory — write them down. Include phrases such as:
I need help
Where is the bathroom
I can’t find my room.
I can’t find my key.
We need more towels.
I am learning this language.
A close-shaven history of the beard
The beard: It’s gone in and out of fashion over the millennia and alternately been associated with kings and commoners, criminals and scholars, soldiers and hippies. It can be close-trimmed or bushy, carefully waxed into impossible configurations, or left wild and uncombed. Throughout the history of beards, only one thing was ever consistent: People have always had strong opinions about them.
Hair removal has been around a long time, and our collective mental image of a hairy, unkempt caveman isn’t necessarily accurate. According to Almanac.com, cave paintings from more than 30,000 years ago depict men without beards, and archaeologists have uncovered artifacts that suggest hair was tweezed with shells or shaved with blades made from flint.
Fast forward to 3,000 BC, when purpose-made metal razors were all the rage in Egypt. In the Egyptian heat, most Egyptian men opted to remain clean-shaven, but pharaohs distinguished themselves from commoners with long false beards, usually sculpted from metal. Even Queen Hatshepsut adopted the practice after she assumed the throne, and many contemporary depictions show her in women’s clothing and with a long false beard.
Ancient illustrations of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC) commonly show him with a flowing beard and mustache to match. According to PBS, Confucius insisted that the body was a gift from one’s parents, and should never be modified, whether by shaving, cutting hair, tattooing skin, or trimming fingernails.
For Norse Vikings, beards were a source of pride, expected of all men and maintained through meticulous daily grooming. Viking hygiene routines were famous throughout medieval Europe, earning the indignation of contemporary chroniclers who worried (often not unreasonably) that the bearded and soap-obsessed Vikings would seduce Christian women.
During the late 17th century, beards fell dramatically out of fashion in Europe, thanks to Peter the Great’s “beard tax” in Russia. While mustaches remained acceptable, beards didn’t stage a return until the end of the Crimean War in 1854, when returning war heroes all sported beards.
Wind speed and fuses cause many firework injuries
It was a windy Independence Day in 2015 when Jason Pierre-Paul, the star defensive end for the New York Giants, attempted to light one last rocket for the entertainment of friends and family.
He tried once to light the fuse, but the wind blew it out. Then again, and again, after seven tries the fuse lit. And it blew. He can’t recall whether the firework was still in his right hand, but when the explosion cleared, his hand was profoundly disfigured, nearly blown off.
Among all the dangers of lighting fireworks, two are notable. First, a fuse that burns faster than expected, and, second, wind.
Each firework has a fuse that ideally burns slowly enough for the person to get away. This fuse is linked to the lifting charge, made of choppy gun powder, also called black powder. You light it, you get away. The experience of Jason Pierre-Paul tells why you never light it a second time.
In many instances, the fuse actually could be burning. A smoldering fuse might be not immediately obvious, especially in windy conditions. But if you approach the charge a second time, you are risking grave injury or death. That’s why you should never try to light a firework twice. Instead, wet it thoroughly with a hose or bucket of water.
Many fireworks accidents occur because a fuse burns faster than expected.
Windy conditions are not safe for fireworks. Wind speed and direction can severely affect not just the fuse lighting, but where the shell and debris end up. A 2004 study found that a three-inch shell could end up 197 feet downwind if launched in 20 mph winds, according to the Washington Post.
Professional pyrotechnicians take wind speed into consideration, as well as fuse burn time. But amateurs rarely have the knowledge to do this.
Leave the fireworks to the pros. It just isn’t worth losing a hand, your sight, or your life.
Outdoor workers at risk for lightning strikes
If you work at height or outdoors, you are at the greatest risk for lightning strikes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those in construction, farming, field labor, heavy equipment operation, logging, pipefitting, telecommunications, or power pole work are especially at risk.
A lightning strike has extraordinary power. According to Safety and Health magazine, your household current is about 120 volts and 15 amps. The average lightning strike is around 300 million volts and 30,000 amps. With that much power, you don’t have to be directly struck to be injured. Even a sideflash can cause injuries to the nervous system and brain. These include burns, hearing loss, light sensitivity, even memory loss, and personality shifts.
The weather report is the best first step to preventing injuries from lightning. If storms are in the area, stay inside a building until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder is heard. The strength of the rain is not relevant. Lightning can strike even if there is no rain or even a drizzle.
According to the National Weather Service, an average of 43 people die from lightning strikes every year. In 2021, the National Lightning Safety Council reported just 11 deaths from lightning, among them a construction worker and a lifeguard.
Generate enthusiasm for Monday morning
Does your Monday feel like the first day of spring or the first day of winter?
Some people can’t wait to get started on the challenges of the new week. Others, even those who like their work, dread Monday mornings. If you are in the second group, here are some ideas on how to generate some enthusiasm for Mondays.
* Before leaving work on Friday, make a note of what you will do on Monday. Include something you like to do. If you think about work on Saturday or Sunday, you’ll have something enjoyable to anticipate. It can take the pressure off Sunday night and Monday morning.
* When you are checking your wardrobe on Saturday, decide what you’ll wear on Monday. Make it something nice.
* Stop thinking ahead about work on the weekend when you should be involved in personal activities. Author and consultant William Bridges says many people live 18 hours ahead of themselves. He advises people to practice mindfulness and live in the moment.
* Enjoy the whole weekend. Those who dread Mondays often rob themselves of the joys of Sunday.
Safety experts say Monday morning is also a danger zone. More accidents occur then and people may not work as well because they are not mentally prepared.
When you wake up on Monday morning and you know what you will do, you’ll be ready for the week. You will be safer and more effective. You’ll have a head start.
George Washington’s rules of civility
In George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Conversation by George Washington (Little Books of Wisdom Series, Applewood Books, 30 pages), our founding father gives 110 rules of civility, many of which are still applicable today.
Rule 1: Every action done in the company ought to be done with some sign of respect to those that are present.
Rule 22: Shew (old-fashioned spelling of show), not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your enemy.
Rule 23: When you see a crime punished, you may be inwardly pleased, but always shew pity to the suffering offender.
Rule 35: Let your discourse of business with men be short and comprehensive.
Rule 38: In visiting the sick, do not presently play the physician if you be not knowing therein.
Rule 49: Use no reproachful language against anyone, neither curse nor revile.
Rule 56: Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation. For ’tis better to be alone than in bad company.
Rule 70: Reprehend not the imperfections of others, for that belongs to parents, masters, and superiors.
Rule 81: Be not curious to know the affairs of others; neither approach those that speak in private.
Rule 110: Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.
June brides still follow ancient traditions
Wedding ceremonies are full of traditions that reach far into history.
* The practice of keeping the bride and groom apart until the ceremony was important prior to the 18th century. After all, most marriages were arranged and no one wanted a runaway bride or groom. Today, tradition is becoming less important. About 59 percent of adults live together before marriage, according to Pew Research.
* Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe. This lucky advice to brides first appear in print in 1871 and is still practiced today, likely without the silver sixpence.
* White dresses. Red was the most popular color until Queen Victoria wore a lacy white gown for her 1840 wedding. Later, the white dress came to symbolize innocence and purity.
* Wedding rings: While women have worn rings to symbolize betrothal since Roman times, men have only worn rings since the 1940s. Jewelers attempted to popularize male engagement rings in the 1920s, but it never caught on.
* The banns. During the Middle Ages, the custom arose of announcing an impending marriage three times in church, called the banns of marriage. This allowed news of the wedding to spread and could possibly prevent bigamy.
Today in traditional church ceremonies, the officiant may still ask the congregation to speak now or forever hold your peace. The number of weddings with that exhortation has dramatically diminished since just 22 percent of weddings are performed in churches today. That is down from 41 percent in 2009.