miércoles, 8 de julio de 2015

Talking point: Mind and body

This week's talking point is mind and body. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • Put these health problems in order of seriousness, giving your reasons: feeling exhausted all the time / feeling that your shoulders are stiff / having high levels of cholesterol / having a bad back
  • What do you have to do if you feel you are putting on a lot of weight?
  • What do you have to do if you intend to run a marathon?
  • What do you do to look after your body and your health?
  • What advice would you give to someone who wants to give up smoking?
  • What advice would you give to someone who is very stressed and wants to relax?
  • What advice would you give to an elderly person who wants to get fit?
  • How important is the body image to you?
  • Do you know anyone who is obsessed with their body image?
To illustrate the point you can watch this video on Michael Fukumura, who went from being a government lawyer in Washington, D.C. to a yoga instructor and surfing fanatic in San Diego.


Yoga Surfer from Charles Schwab on Vimeo.


I was born in Japan, Tokyo. In Japanese culture the parents have a very strong influence on their children. Punishment was going to be by the belt, so I studied hard and I played the piano and I did all these things sort of conforming to what my parents set of expectations were.
I went into law almost like a default. I didn’t love the law, I looked up to my father and so a lot of it was about wanting to please him. After graduating from law school I went to ATF. We had a very strict dress code. It was shirt, tie, dress shoes, dress pants. My hair was very, very short. I looked like everyone else, very much fit in to the urban lifestyle of Washington DC.
At the same time I wasn’t fulfilled. I felt there was a big missing piece because I wasn’t in my heart of hearts feeling I was being of great service.
I resisted, but my wife was really adamant about leaving. First time in my entire life where I had no plan. We literally drove cross country with all our possessions and decided hey this is going to be our new life. My parents, by the way, were shocked because I didn’t even have a job, I didn’t have a place. I started surfing. It turned me deeper towards where I’d not been focused on, which is spirit. I started having right shoulder issues. I hear that yoga is good for injuries. I started doing yoga. What had been like a whisper now became like a real deep calling. All of a sudden things clicked.
The more I did it the more I just started feeling a sense of well-being. It was this realization that, wow, there is something about this place that created a… awaking if you will. So now through teaching public classes, teaching one on one, teaching in many different settings, I have a way of giving back where I feel passionate about. So my students, when I see them start to make a shift, perhaps in a relationship, perhaps even they haven’t got a job that is serving them and find something that really wakes them up and they’re passionate about just like I did. That’s really satisfying to me. From that perspective I feel I’m being of service.

martes, 7 de julio de 2015

10 Questions for Julie Louis-Dreyfus

A couple of years ago comedian and actress Julie Louis-Dreyfus talked with Time Magazine about her role as the Vice President in Veep, her Elaine dance moves, and her biggest regret in life. Click on this link to watch the interview.



Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one of the most successful comic actresses working in TV today. She is now playing the vice-president a new HBO show, VEEP, and she's here to answer 10 questions of Time Magazine. Welcome to Time, Julia.
Thank you. I'd actually like to answer nine questions.
 Nine, ok, we’ll see what we can do.
Alright.
How similar is the character you play, the life of the VEEP to your life?
Well let's see, how similar? Of course I, personally, I'm not the vice president, so I just wanna make sure everyone understands that, but in fact the aspect of presenting yourself in a certain way to the public and the desperation to be liked is, there is a parallel between the political life and life as a person in show business, and that's sort of fun to, to draw on.
Did you talk to people in power, former vice-presidents?
I did talk to former vice-presidents and chiefs of staff, and, and schedulers and speech writers and, you know, the list goes on. It's kind of an ongoing process.
Was there something that you learned that you were surprised about, that you didn't know before?
The big takeaway for me and it's very sort of basic but it's just how human everybody is, for instance, on the senate floor there's a desk that has candy in it, on the senate floor, it’s one of the senator’s desks and it’s loaded to the brim with candy. They're eating candy in there, they like candy just like you and I like candy, how about that?
Apple pie…
Yeah.
Comedy of course can be quite tricky. There's a great scene in your new show where the vice-president makes a joke, and she makes another one on top. And it keeps getting laughs and she takes it a little too far. Has that ever happened to you?
Oh yeah, tons of times, yeah, it may happen in the next 10 minutes or so, but yeah, it has happened, yeah. And how do you deal with that?
Flop sweat comes to mind. It’s horrible, it's horrible, it's a nightmare. If you're gonna be a clown you gonna risk it, and sometimes it will not work. And it's not worked for me many times in my life.
The characters that you have become famous for, they tend to be narcissistic and unaware of their narcissism.
And angry.
Does it impact your life that you've always played these sort of not always easy to like characters?
Well come to think of it, I have very few friends, so I guess so. It had never occurred to me until this moment.
It's a breakthrough.
It’s breakthrough moment for me.
A lot of readers, when we asked them, told them you were interviewing you, Elaine still really, really resonates with them. Does she still live with you somehow?
Yes, of course, yeah. That whole experience was a gift and keeps on giving, frankly. I'm so proud to have been part of television history making, that show, and people talk to me about all the time and I can't really remember one episode from the other because there are so many of them, but I actually really am delighted when that makes people happy.
Can you actually dance?
Yeah.
Much better than Elaine?
Correct, and it's problematic when I go to any event that has dancing. When I go to a wedding or something, I'm hugely self-conscious because I know that people are watching me, and even though that may sound paranoid, I have reason to be paranoid because they are watching me to see if I'm going to do that…
Elaine, and you sometimes break it out for special occasions?
I've never broken it out.
Never?
Never.
Do you think the fact that you've had the most successful post-Sienfeld career is luck, talent, timing, gender or hair? Or all of the above?
I'm gonna say it’s luck, to be honest and now I'm answering it seriously.
Right, no, please.
Otherwise I would say it's because I'm so incredibly talented but that’s the joke version. I actually do think it’s luck. I think there's much more luck involved in show business than people care to admit.
If you were to start your life all over again, what one change what you make?
I would wear more sunscreen.
Your skin is amazing.
Well thanks a million, but I got a lot of  *** right now.

lunes, 6 de julio de 2015

Listening test: Britain's piers

Choose the best answer A, B or C for each question 1-7. 0 is an example.



0) What can you find on some piers these days?
A. A railway.
B. An amusement park.
C. Luxury restaurants.

1) Why were piers first developed?
A. As a place for enjoyment.
B. For getting on and off boats.
C. For walking along the coast.

2) What were early pleasure piers made of?
A. Iron.
B. Steel.
C. Wood.

3) What was responsible for an increase in the popularity of pleasure piers?
A. Bigger and more ornate pleasure piers.
B. Increased employment.
C. The development of the railways.

4) How many of the pleasure piers that existed in the late 19th century still exist?
A.15
B. 50
C. 100

5) What are the reasons for today's most successful pleasure piers?
A. They are bigger, longer, and more spectacular.
B. They create employment.
C. They have combined tradition with entertainment.

6) How have piers adapted to the changing leisure climate?
A. They are more natural and ecological.
B. They are wilder and more fun.
C. They provide enjoyment to all sorts of people.

7) Why should Britain's piers be protected?
A. They create jobs.
B. They are part of everyone's memories.
C. Both of the above.



Walking on water is easy at most British seaside resorts. Stretching elegantly out to sea, stepping across the waves, pleasure piers are the iconic structures of Britain's coast. And there's more to piers than merely promenading: many have cafés, ice cream parlours and seafood stalls, entertainment halls and amusement arcades. (0) Some are so long they even have railways running along their length.
Piers began life in the 18th century (1) as landing stages for boats: on a small island without proper roads or railways, this was a good way to travel. Ships from continental Europe were also able to dock in the deeper water at the end of the piers.

Pleasure piers began to develop in the 19th century. The earliest examples were simple structures (2) built out of wood. During the 1860s to 1880s, however, Victorian engineers and entrepreneurs built ornate cast-iron structures with magnificent music halls and pavilions. (3) The expansion of the railways brought holidaymakers flocking to the seaside. The main attractions were promenading, dancing, music and theatre. As more visitors arrived, piers became bigger, longer, and more spectacular.
At one time, during the late 19th century, there were almost 100 piers around the British coastline: (4) today only half survive. The most successful pleasure piers have adapted to the changing leisure climate and now (5) combine heritage and tradition with the demand for cabaret, music and nightclubs. (6) During the day they offer family fun, fishing, candy floss and leisure rides. By night there is eating, drinking and dancing. Some piers even offer a touch of the wild: at Southend, for example, you can enjoy birdwatching over the Thames Estuary. On a practical level, (7) piers also create jobs in resorts where unemployment rates are often high, but there is another, more important reason that Britain's piers should be treasured, says Tim Mickleburgh of the National Piers Society:

I regard piers as being part of Britain's heritage and everyday seaside heritage. Seaside, maritime, is very much appropriate for Britain, being a country completely surrounded by sea, but, on the other hand, (7) piers are everybody's form of history, a lot of the emphasis you get with organisations like the National Trust, they do a very, very good job restoring stately homes, castles and the like. But they're not really structures that everybody has got memories of, they're very, very much geared to one particular group of people in society. I like to look at piers as being everybody's part of history.

Key:

1B 2C 3C 4B 5C 6C 7C

domingo, 5 de julio de 2015

David Suchet: In the Footsteps of St Peter

Actor David Suchet goes in search of one of the most puzzling characters in history - the man we know today as Saint Peter.
Uncovering fragments of tradition and traces of Peter's life, Suchet reveals the real person hidden within the New Testament stories.
Beside the Sea of Galilee, he investigates Peter's early life as a fisherman and asks why it was that Peter chose to join forces with Jesus - a man so clearly on a collision course with Rome.


sábado, 4 de julio de 2015

Reading test: What makes a great museum

In this week's reading test we are going to practise the multiple choice kind of task. Read the BBC article What makes a great museum? and choose the option a, b or c that best completes each sentence. 0 is an example.

The six finalists for the UK Museum of the Year competition have been announced. With visitor numbers growing, what is it that makes a great museum today?

It's an eclectic group. There's a Georgian National Trust country house, Dunham Massey in Cheshire, that was converted to look once again like the military hospital it had been during World War One.

Another of the six contenders short-listed for the charity Art Fund's Museum of the Year 2015 is the Tower of London, which housed an evolving installation of 888,246 ceramic poppies in its moat last year, each one representing the death of a British or Commonwealth soldier during World War One. It was viewed by more than five million people.

Oxford University's Museum of Natural History, Belfast's Metropolitan Arts Centre, Manchester's The Whitworth and London's Imperial War Museum are the others shortlisted for the prize, worth £100,000.

Museums, competing with other places of cultural interest, are working hard to increase "footfall" - the numbers attending. Some employ outreach workers to attract visitors.

"One thing museums need to do to survive and thrive is challenge the preconceptions of their audience," William Cook wrote in The Spectator. This is particularly the case when so much historical and artistic information is available online, he argued. Institutional stuffiness and aloofness are two of the threats.

Those on the Art Fund's short list have devised innovative ways of engaging with the public. During its £4m redevelopment, Oxford University's Museum of Natural History allowed some of its specimens to "escape" to the city. Bookworms were seen in a bookshop and a penguin turned up a fishmongers. The museum set up a Goes To Town trail for those interested in finding out more about animals.

The Art Fund's description of "museums" goes a little beyond that which many British people might associate with the term - it includes art galleries. One, The Whitworth, used "pop-up" exhibitions while closed for its £15m redevelopment, which saw a doubling in size. They visited pubs, shops and care homes in Manchester. One of its exhibitions didn't have any accompanying information, the idea being that visitors could look at the artworks on their own terms, without preconceptions.

Belfast's Metropolitan Arts Centre, which opened in 2012, features galleries, theatres, a family room, an artist-in-residence studio and workshops. It uses volunteers known as "Mactivists" to show people around.

The redesigned atrium of South London's Imperial War Museum tells the story of 20th Century war through objects such as guns, vehicles and clothing. Permanent World War One galleries have opened as a reminder of the conflict's size and devastation, including interactive displays on life in the trenches. The museum employs advisers on how to attract a young audience.

The Tower of London Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper is described by Art Fund as a "visual metaphor, both epic and personal". It placed the Tower at the "forefront of innovation in the museum sector", it adds. "It burst in at you," says Jardine. "There were hundreds, thousands of people. You could hardly get near it."

"British museums are almost restlessly innovative," says Deuchar. "It's kind of wonderful. There's something daring and experimental, which has really developed over the last 10 or 15 years. I really think Britain has something to say to the rest of the world about museum presentations and experiences."


0 Example:
The six finalists shortlisted for for the UK Museum of the Year competition
a) are homogenous.
b) are of different types.
c) have seen visitors decline.

1 In the Tower of London
a) 888,246 flowers were planted.
b) five million spectators watched the event.
c) a piece of art represented dead soldiers.

2 For museums to attract visitors, they must
a) try and look warm and hospitable.
b) be careful with the online information they provide.
c) hire workers to attract visitors.

3 The Oxford University's Museum of Natural History
a) displayed some of the exhibits around town.
b) organized a competition to divulge science.
c) set animals free to attract attention.

4 The Whitworth
a) could be visited despite the redevelopment works.
b) had twice as many visitors last year.
c) set exhibitions in unusual places.

5 The South London's Imperial War Museum
a) employs staff to show people around.
b) is geared towards a specific age group.
c) has recently been redeveloped.

6 The Tower of London Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red was
a) barely surprising.
b) hardly innovative.
c) largely visited.

The Whitworth, Manchester


Key:
1C 2A 3A 4C 5B 6C

viernes, 3 de julio de 2015

How pedal power could charge your phone

BBC Click's Lara Lewington looks at some of the latest cycling technology.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and note down the different gadgets that are mentioned and what they do.



Cycle polo. Informal, urban, and as these people told me, still being made up as they go along. For these players, cycling isn’t just about sport. It is also their chosen method of transport every day. So who better to test the latest urban cycling tech with?
We managed to get our hands on some innovative devices at prototype stage, so designs and functionality aren’t perfected yet.
So I have a few toys here I would like to put to the test. First off  (1) a backpack. As a cyclist, being seen and your intentions being known are vital. So these lights that can be worn on any backpack can help.
It feels like I'm wearing a day pack.
I believe you are about to turn right.
I know the control is working but I don’t know if that… both working. A battery half-way through could be my only way of indicating and I'm trusting that this is telling people where I’m going.
Perhaps these (2) gloves will fare better. So the idea is that you hold your hand up to indicate and as soon as you bring thumb and finger together, it points an arrow.
They look like decent gloves.
The thing I like about it is that it doesn’t stop you doing what you are taught to do but it accentuates it.
What did you think of the battery wearing them?
It's very simple to use, it looks like gloves. I have never indicated them and found people can’t see me.
For those cyclists who say it is everyone else on the road that is the problem, well here’s your chance to prove it or not. This (3) backlighting camera records into two-hour loops everything that is going on behind you. It has a 130 degree wide angle lens, five hours battery life and records two hours of timestamps footage. The recordings continually loop, overwriting earlier footage, so you always have your last two hours of video stored.
Would you actually use one of these cameras?
I'm not sure if I would feel the need to always feel behind myself. It doesn’t seem bright enough for me. It's only really bright if you are looking directly at it.
What is it?
I’m going to explain to you in a moment.
Even in fog, (4) this radar warns a rider of what is going on up to 140 metres behind them. As a speedy vehicle approaches, not only does the backlight flash to warn of the bicycle's presence but it warns the cyclist of a potential hazard via the light panel in front of them.
I would definitely pick that up.
Would you want to use it in the real world?
Probably not. It stops you thinking about looking behind you. You should always be making those checks behind you.
What's your view on it?
It’s kind of not as good as a mirror.
Bike theft is something technology is trying to fight as well. This (5) lock only works via your smartphone. Its embedded sensors can even alert you if someone is merely tampering with the bike. And GPS tracking means that if it does get taken, you should know where to find it.
Sometimes your phone runs out of batteries and I think I would be a little bit worried about that. Essentially, the most important thing about a bike lock is how easy it is to cut through.
Maybe you feel your bike could do a bit more for you like charge mobile phone. Let's look at what this does.
This (6) USB charger gets its power from peddling, allowing you to charge your devices whilst on the go.
More lapse, more lapse.
That is wicked!
What did you think?
I think this is a really cool thing. I think it's really useful, it doesn’t affect the functionality of the bicycle at all. You know, you’re doing hundreds of miles and you don’t necessarily have access to a PowerPoint.
And we’ve also got the element there where there’s a removable battery pack, giving somebody who doesn’t work in an office where you’ve got a computer, then that gives you a USB charger on the go as well.
Yeah, a think this is a great gadget.
Mixed reactions from our serious cyclists but it's not until the finished products are available that we will see if the occasional cyclists feel the same.

jueves, 2 de julio de 2015

My City Accra

As the gateway to West Africa and the driver behind one of the continent's fastest growing economies, there is a feeling in Accra that the good times are just around the corner.

Self-study activity:
Watch this BBC video and say whether the statements below are true or false.


BBC My City - Accra from Peter Price on Vimeo.

1 Twelve million people live in Ghana.
2 Cocoa, gold and oil are making Ghana a rich country.
3 Healthcare in Ghana is very good for African standards.
4 Rollaball is a popular sport among taxi drivers.
5 Coffins like those you can see in Accra are manufactured all over the world now.
6 Boxing matches are usually held on Friday nights.
7 The training facilities for would-be boxers are not very good.
8 Accra boxers are aggressive but classy.

The gateway to West Africa. Busy, bustling, boundless energy. Two million of us grinding away in the heat, making this place boom.  Hi, I am Akwasi and this is my city.
As one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, Ghana is upheld as a beacon to others. And it's Accra that drives it. This city's never been better off, thanks to cocoa, gold and now oil. But much of society is still playing catch-up. Living conditions are poor, healthcare basic.
Many disabled people are shunned and left to beg. But for a few hours every Sunday, this taxi park becomes their arena. Their sport, rollaball. It's not for the faint-hearted, either. The rough-and-tumble is part and parcel.
It's not easy being disabled in Accra. This sport has changed my life. Now I appreciate my fitness level even more than money. I feel like a star when I come down here on Sundays to play the game.
There's a real community feel all over town. Life or death, everybody comes together.
We do things a little differently. Even our funerals need to be seen to be believed. We give new meaning to going out in style.
Crafted all over the city, all handmade, be it farmer or fisherman, these fantasy coffins are a reflection of your life - what you did, and how you did it.
These coffins are a trademark of Accra. They aren't made anywhere else. If you see anyone making them in Britain or America, you know they've copied this from Accra. It's very popular here, and everyone wants to be buried in one.
On Friday evening, this city ignites. Fight night.
We love a good fight. Some of the world's boxing greats were born and bred here in Accra. We're famous for producing champions.
But the first jabs start here. Early morning workouts, brutal late afternoon training. In the suburb of Bukom, dozens of gyms filled with young fighters dreaming of a world title. The facilities may be basic, but the coaching is class.
Accra in particular is so special for boxing because we like fighting, everywhere. Most of our boxers, they are very aggressive. You see some of them who are very stylish, but we aggressive. If I get the support, and I give myself five years... I'll bring world champions to Ghana. We have the bright future.
With the economic boom and a little bit of luck, there's a feeling that good times for everybody could be just around the corner. Accra is my city.

Key:
1F 2T 3F 4F 5F 6T 7T 8T