Problem → Solution

Most of my students seem to have no trouble falling asleep — anywhere and anytime. But one poor soul came to class yesterday, late and exhausted, because there’s construction going on next to his house and he’s having trouble sleeping. I can relate, as there’s a condominimium going up next to my own.

Solution: earplugs and this breathing technique

Thoughts that occurred to me while watching this:

Certain world leaders should try this before making public statements.

He does look like Santa Claus, doesn’t he?

I want him to introduce his dog (at 0:56).

(via Open Culture, which has a couple of related links)

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All about mosquitos

A small town in Sweden has a mosquito catching contest. Sound like fun?

“The Unofficial Mosquito-Catching World Championship” (from Atlas Obscura)

Looks like they do something similar in Russia, too:

“With 43 bites, 9-year-old wins ‘tastiest girl’ competition at annual Russian Mosquito Festival” (from the Washington Post)

What unsual contests have you heard of or participated in? If you could create an original contest, what would you have people do?

And speaking of mosquitos, here’s an unusual, counter-intuitive strategy to get rid of the pests:

“To Shrink Mosquito Population, Scientists Are Releasing 20 Million Mosquitoes” (from NPR)

Meanwhile, in Scotland one railway company has installed a “mosquito device” — a device emitting an annoying sound — to keep young people from loitering around train stations.

“Anger over Hamilton station ‘mosquito’ device” (from BBC)

Can you think of better ways to prevent loitering?

Dangerous colors

Other possible titles:

  • Why are humans so slow to learn?
  • How much have artists and scientists sacrificed so that we can learn?
  • This is why we need responsible agencies like the EPA and the Department of Health, run by ethical people.

I liked the narrator’s tone of disbelief when she stresses “the 1970s” as she explains when the white pigment made from lead was finally banned.

Perhaps the people of Ireland and India are feeling a bit defensive after watching this video, though…

Here is the TED-Ed of this video, with accompanying questions and links.

The grass is always greener…

“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

This is a saying that means we often are dissatisfied with what we have, and we want what other people have. I think the Japanese saying is almost the same (the grammar is a little different). Can you imagine what it is without using your dictionary or googling it?

This short video is about how many women in Ghana go to great lengths to whiten their skin, sometimes at great personal risk.

I think more people are concerned about protecting their skin from UV rays these days, but it’s true that many fair-skinned people wish they had tanned skin.

Discussion/writing/research questions:

  • Is there anything about yourself that you’d like to change?
  • Why do you think the Japanese saying uses 青 instead of 緑? How would you explain to an English speaker why 青 is both blue and green (think 青信号, too …)?
  • Make some example sentences from your own life or books/movies/currents events you know about, in which “the grass is greener.”
  • Why do you think many people (women only?) in Japan and other parts of Asia think that fairer skin is more beautiful? OTOH, tanning salons exist in Japan, too. What kind of people do you think use them?
  • Do you think tanning salons are safe? What about skin whiteners or self tanners? Hair bleach or hair dye? If you’re interested, do a little research and find out.
  • What famous people can you think of who use some methods to lighten or darken their hair or skin color?
  • One news story this week focused on Princess Aiko’s entrance into high school, but some of the media has focused more on her tan than anything else. Apparently, she went skiing.  Here’s a short article about her from the Japan Times. Try summarizing it and noticing some language.