B for balloon

This is a sweet short story about two best friends who’ve been working together for more than 20 years. It’s a good reminder about how important it is to find a job you really enjoy doing.

Understanding the English accents will be good — if a little challenging — listening practice.


A job you love

Not a particularly Christmassy way to end the year, but I love dogs. And there is a little snow in the video. This is Piper, the Aviation Bird Dog — a border collie whose job it is to chase birds away from airfields, so they don’t interfere with the airplanes. And it’s the story of a man who loves his job. And a dog who seems to love his job too, after coming to terms with the fact that he has to wear those goggles.

This article from BBC is a little old (2013) and mentions a different dog: “10 ways to prevent plane bird strikes”

I’ll be back in January with new topics.

❄️ Happy Holidays ❄️

Investing in students’ futures

This is a short video about a new program at a university in the U.S. (Purdue, in Indiana) that aims to shift the risk of student loan debt from the student to the university. Basically, the students promise to pay the university a small percentage of their future income after graduation instead of having student loans — with interest rates — that burden them regardless of what happens after graduation.

On the PBS site, the video has a written transcript below it, and the subtitles are correct if you need them to help your listening comprehension.

Some related statistics (from this site):

  • There’s $1.45 trillion in student debt in the US right now.
  • The average amount a student has to repay in total is $37,000 (which is 6% more than it was last year).
  • The average amount a student has to repay per month is $351.
  • Interest rates on paying back student loans range from about 2.7% to 8.2%.

There are many issues to debate with a program like Purdue’s, but as someone who finally paid off her student loans — with interest rates at about 4 or 5% —  for undergraduate and graduate school in her 30s, I wish I’d at least had this option.

“A shift, a change in momentum”

The Autumn Sumo Tournament is starting this weekend. I happened across these two videos, which I enjoyed and even if you don’t know much about sumo (I love that I know the names of many of these rikishi, having been a sumo fan for the past couple of years and been to two tournaments at the Kokugikan in Tokyo) you may enjoy them too.

One focuses on the rikishi coming to and leaving the tournament. There’s no speaking, just a rather beautiful audio track, and it gets us thinking about tradition and modern conveniences.

The second one focuses on what the rikishi can do after they retire, especially the less successful ones. It’s rather bittersweet. Most of the speaking is in Japanese, with English subtitles, so it’s a good chance to focus on language similarities and differences.

I really liked the attitude of the rikishi who opened a restaurant. He has no regrets, he says.

“To make the best and not to waste everything the past.”

“It’s not an end. It’s a shift, a change in momentum.”