Jan 312017

Scams are flooding our telephone lines.

Spammers and hackers are flooding our internet connections and getting viruses, worms, and phishing emails into our computers and email.

Obviously these scammers and hackers have enough success that they are encouraged to scam and hack even more.

How are they so successful?

Can you recognize an attempt to hack into your computer or elicit sensitive information from you when one such email enters your inbox?

We will begin a series on how to identify these, what to look for, so that you’re not the victim of a cyber-attack.

Below is one spam message that we received the other day.  It is easily identifiable as a hacking attempt to infect our computers in so many ways. I’ve omitted including the hack link, of course.

See how many identifiers you can find.

See below:
Dear Joey,

Your item has arrived at the USPS Post Office at January 23, but the courier was unable to deliver parcel to you.

Download postal receipt attached to e-mail!


Kind thoughts,


Freddie Horne,


USPS Support Agent.


 I identified at least ELEVEN errors that immediately stood out to me as an obvious attempt to infiltrate my computer.
What are they?

And the 12th obvious indication?

Please add your responses to the COMMENT box below. Let’s see if we can get all twelve.

Oct 242012

I’ve been hearing this expression so much lately, and it’s amazing to think how I could have survived living for so many years with out ever using it. It’s been around since the hills but lately it’s come into so much fashion that it even has its own website!

Let’s begin with politics.  NBC has its own blog, The Bottom Line, and within that you’ll find articles with the phrase “bottom line” in it. Not to leave ABC out: George Stephanoupolis has his blog there, and a recent post was entitled “Bottom Line: Can Debates Move the Needle for Romney?” That’s cool: We have two expressions here: the bottom line and (to) move the needle.

Bloomberg also has to get in on the expression, but we don’t typically link to videos on this website. But you can do your own search.

This article, Debating Points, Global Edition, states: “The bottom line: their basic approach to Iran seems very similar. But the president, having lived with and thought through the issue for the last four years, is more equipped to move more quickly on Iran than Mr. Romney. If elected, Mr. Romney would have to establish his administration and probably conduct a review of his options. President Obama has already done that.”

The bottom line is also vital to areas such as economics and business.  See the technical technical definition and also see how it manifests itself in media stories, such as this one:  China’s economy slows down – threatening western bottom lines.

Dating and social relationships should also have their bottom line, and you should be in healthy and rewarding relationships, but if you’re not, the SLAA San Diego has prepared a Power Point presentation to you all about social bottom lines.

We conclude this blog post with the following:  Clear writing delivers bottom-line benefits:  Clear writing is an essential business skill – one that generates revenue for your organization.

I love that article; whether you’re learning English as a Second Language or you’ve grown up in the United States and read and write English, it’s for you!!  Please read it and then give us some feedback!

Apr 272012

This TV program is big. People of all ages watch it. I’ve watched it.  But do we really have such a thing as an American idol? Do we want to? 

What is an idol, anyway?

An idol is something that is a representation of a god, and it is also worshiped.  People bow to idols, as if bowing to honor a god.

Then there is the word “idol” as in Hollywood.  Many stars of stage and screen are called “idols.” People look up to them as representing something virtuous. They idolize them.

Do we look up to the American idol singing stars this way?  Do you?

Personally, I think the word is a bit too strong for what the musicians and artists are representing.   They may sing well but that doesn’t mean that they are more virtuous as people or that we should bow down to them as if they were deities.

What do you think?

Dec 072011

Baseball seems simple but on the surface it is very complicated. Many of the baseball rules are very subtle. But there are some basics:

Nine innings.

Each team comes up to bat once, beginning with the visiting team.

Each team is at bat until there are three outs.

The team that is ahead after nine complete innings is the winner.

If the score is equal after nine innings, the game goes into extra innings.

In extra innings, a complete inning is played. If there is a team that is ahead at the end of the extra inning, that team is declared the winner of the game. Otherwise, another inning is played until there is a winner at the end of that complete inning.

The fewest number of “at bats” in any one game would, therefore, be 27: Nine innings, 3 batters per inning.

When a pitcher is pitching against a team and there are 27 up and 27 down, he has pitched a  “perfect game“.

The scorecard for Lee Richmond’s Perfect Game

Another special type of game is called a “no no“. This refers to a game in which there are no hits and no runs.  If there are no hits and no runs, then why isn’t it a perfect game?  In a “no no”, a batter can be walked*, in which case he will reach first base and ruin an otherwise perfect game.

In American Major League baseball history, by the current definition of “a perfect game”, there have been 20 official perfect games.  There have been several unofficial ones.

It is thrilling to watch a perfect game – and my baseball timing has been incredible on several occasions:  I saw Dave Cone’s perfect game in 1999.  I also saw John Lester’s no hitter (a “no no”) in 2008, which was also thrilling.

Click here to see video highlights of David Cone’s perfect game.


*In another blog post, we will discuss the ways in which a batter is declared to be out.

Nov 212011

When people move and emigrate to a new land, they often lose track of their ancestry.  Records are lost, memories are lost.  When the older generation dies, there is often nobody left to tell the story of their ancestry to the younger generation.

In the United States, websites abound that specialize in doing ancestral searches.   One of the biggest websites is ancestry.com.  Americans can’t get enough of searching for their ancestors. They want to do their family tree. They want to know who their long-lost relatives are. Sometimes they’ll have a family reunion and meet, for the first time, long-l0st relatives.

Who are my ancestors? Where did my ancestors come from? Do I have living relatives who I don’t know exist?

These are some of the questions that Americans ask themselves.

Americans whose ancestors arrived in the United States between 1892 and 1924  use sites such as Ellisisland.org to help them identify their ancestors and to learn about their backgrounds. Ellis Island opened on January 1, 1892 as a port of migration for millions, and closed as a port of mass migration in 1924, when the government began to heavily restrict immigration into the United States.

What do you know about your ancestors?  Are you interested in doing an ancestral search?  Are you interested in learning more about your family tree?

How, and why, have memories gotten lost?


For an additional reading comprehension activity about Ellis Island, click on this link.

Oct 192010

Is it difficult for you to find your way around the computer keyboard in English?

This blog post is Part Two of our look at the English language keyboard used here in the United States. Today we’ll look at the right side of the main cluster of keys. (Click here for Part 1.)

First on the top row we have the backspace key.

The backspace key deletes what you’ve typed, one keystroke at a time.
one stroke at a time
one stroke at a tim
one stroke at a ti
one stroke at a t

and so on.

Next we have the back slash ( \ ) key. You use this key when you are designating file locations on your computer: c:\myeslblog\thekeyboard.doc  or c:\myeslblog\thekeyboard.pdf.

Beneath the backslash key, you have the Enter key. When you use the Enter key alone, it returns you two lines down (i.e. double space).

like this.

and this.

When you use the Enter key and the Shift key at the same time, it returns you one line down.
like this.
or this.

On the bottom row you have the Shift key, again, just like on the right side of the keyboard.  The shift key, again, creates CAPITAL LETTERS or, in terms of the top row of the keyboard, &)&&((#$@%^%&+_), the symbols on the tops of the keys.

Below is a review of the vocabulary used in this blog post:

Now I’ll list our vocabulary:

(to) backspace, the backspace key

backslash      \

(to) enter/to hit the enter key

(to) shift/(to) hit the shift key

(to) return

(to) hit the shift key

So that’s PART TWO of today’s lesson, Navigating the Computer Keyboard in English!

We will complete the keyboard in subsequent lessons. Continue reading »

Oct 122010

Are you having trouble expressing your computer-literate self in English?  One summer my husband and I traveled to Spain and found our hotel internet to be down.  So we went to some of the public internet sites that abound.  I had so much difficulty knowing how to navigate my way around the keyboard. The language on the keys was different.  Even the keyboard was different from the American keyboard: keys were in different places than I was accustomed to!

So let’s take a look at the English language keyboard used here in the United States and let’s learn what everything is.  We’ll begin with the left side of the keyboard.

The top left key that says “Esc” is for “ESCAPE“. You use this key to escape from any bad situations. Be careful, because this might close any programs that you have running. We use this word “escape” as a noun (he planned his escape), as an adjective (the escape route), and as a verb (he escaped).

On the left, you have the “Tab” key. The “tab” key moves a certain number of predetermined spaces to the right each time you hit, or click, it. We use this as a verb (to tab over to a certain point).

Beneath that, you have the “Caps Lock” key. “Caps” stands for “capitals” and it locks the capital letters into place.

Beneath that, you have the “Shift” key.  Pressing this alternates your letters between small letters and capital letters (small letters and “caps”) and alternates the number row between the numerals and the symbols (such as the numeral 2 and the symbol @, or the numeral 8 and the symbol *). “Shift” is also a verb: You shift between capital letters and small letters.

Beneath the “Shift” key you have the “Control” key. You use the Control key together with another key to perform some function that you desire. For example, if you select some text or an image, then press the Control key and the “C” key together, you will COPY the text you have selected onto your notepad, which you can then paste onto something else.

Below is a review of the vocabulary used in this blog post:

Now I’ll list our vocabulary:

(to be) down
(to) escape
(to) close a program
(to) run/(to) have running
(to) tab/(to) tab over to…
(to) lock
caps/capital letters
(to) shift
(to) alternate

So that’s PART 1 of today’s lesson, Navigating the Computer Keyboard in English!

We will complete the keyboard in subsequent lessons.

Jul 292010

The next question, “How do I know if a noun is countable or uncountable?”, is similarly not easy to answer!

We’re speaking about English, remember?

It’s time to take out our dictionaries – hard-bound, soft-bound, or electronic. We will be using an online version, from Longman’s Dictionary of American English.

We’ll begin with an easy noun:  the noun, advice. You can click on the hyperlink or you can see below:

This noun has one definition, and right away the dictionary listing says [uncountable].

That was easy.  So now we know that this noun has NO plural form and that the verb we use should be in a singular form. We also know to NOT use an article (a and an) before this noun.

So how do we count this noun, then? How do we quantify it?  Look at the example “a piece/word of advice“.  This would be the standard way of counting items of advice.

Just yesterday a friend offered me some advice that I did not solicit. I said to her, “Did I ask you for advice?” She said “No” and that part of the conversation ended, and the topic was changed.  Thus, grammatically, you see there was no article (a or an) used before the noun, which is correct for an uncountable noun.

Be sure, with looking up any word, in particular a noncountable noun, to see if the dictionary gives you any suggestions for how to quantify this noun.

We’ll stop here for today, at this easy place.

But there are many nouns that have both a countable and an uncountable form, such as the noun “change”! What about those?  In our next blog post, we will answer the question, “How (Do We Know) If a Noun Has a Countable and an Uncountable Form?”

Jul 252010

You wanted an easy answer, didn’t you!  Sorry, I can’t give it to you!  You’re learning English!

Let’s say you are learning a new word.  A new noun.  The reasonable thing to assume that it is a regular noun, and that it is a countable noun and has a plural form.  As a rule, the plural form of a noun is constructed by adding an ~s or ~es to the singular form.

In most cases, that would work. But that’s where you may get into Grammar Trouble-ville.

So let’s do some research.  Let’s  look up a new word in a dictionary.

I looked up the word “man”  in my beloved little Webster’s Dictionary that I’ve had since I was a child.  It indicated man. n.; pl. MEN .  I next turned to my Longman Dictionary of American English that I’ve just taken off of the shelf for this purpose.  Right after the main word “man” was a note indicating its part of speech:  “n”  (for noun) and then “men”. So we’re good in both dictionaries, right from the beginning.  We learn the plural form for the noun man is men.

Now I tried this on an online Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English .  Go ahead; click on “man 1 noun”.

Right here it says “man plural men“. That’s it! This is a countable noun that has an irregular plural form.

I next tried the common (singular) noun “person“.  My little Webster’s Dictionary didn’t say anything about its plural form (“people”).  Might this mean that the plural of person is persons?  My Longman Dictionary of American English (very helpful for learners of English) had, after all the definitions, at the very end of the entry, a “USAGE” note:  “The usual plural of person is people.”  You see, there is a plural form of person: persons, but its meaning is not our standard one:  We would not say “I saw many persons in the park.”  The form persons tends to be legalistic and mathematical.

I tried Longman’s  online dictionary
This tells us “person [countable].  Now it gives us the first “1” common definition:  MALE PERSON [countable}. So now we know we can say “There were many people looking for work.”

Let’s scroll down a little further, to definition #4:

plural persons” And we see this has a different meaning and use, as I wrote above, a more formal use.

So let’s practice and look up the word “woman“:  We find woman n women. That tells us the singular is woman, the word is a noun, and the plural is women.

As a rule, the plural form of a noun is constructed by adding an ~s or ~es to the singular form.

How about working this backwards !

Let’s look up “women“. In a hard copy dictionary, we see nothing there!  Dictionaries will not list the plural form of a word in its listings. So if this occurs to you, then you will have to figure out what its singular form is.  Either put on your thinking cap, or consult a grammar book.

Or look online: and there it is!

Now suppose you look up the word “change” – referring to the coins such as quarters, dimes, nickles and pennies.  The next question here is – how do you even know IF a word has a plural form? We have many words in English that do not have a plural form! Nouns such as these are referred to in a number of ways: non-count nouns, non-countable nouns, uncountable nounsWhatever you call then, you will need to know if the noun even has a plural form.

Stay tuned for our next blog post: How to Know if a Noun is Countable or Noncountable!

Jul 112010

Many of my ESL students have come from the Dominican Republic. They understand baseball! Baseball and the Dominican Republic go hand in hand! Baseball is also very popular in Japan so my Japanese students also understand and love baseball.

Many other international students, however, have no idea what’s going on in the game of baseball, which is so popular in the United States. Baseball is not popular in Europe, Russia, or the Middle East.  That sounds odd to an American, especially after many Americans complain about how slow baseball is! How could the game of baseball be so confusing when it goes so slowly? I guess when you grow up with a sport, like I did, its seem so easy!

So here’s my attempt to explain baseball, to the person who has no idea what’s going on. In fact,  baseball is so complicated that it will take more than one post.  So I’ll begin:

First, baseball is a team sport. There are two teams.   The teams are the “home” team and the “away” team. The team that is the “away” team bats* first.

The game is organized into “innings“. The basic game consists of nine complete innings. If the game is tied** after nine innings, the game goes into “extra innings” until one team wins.  The longest game in baseball occurred in 1920; it was 25 innings long!

Each inning lasts until there are three “outs” on the part of the team that is “at bat“.  There are many ways to score an “out”.

Let’s talk about the baseball field.  There are four bases:  home plate, first base, second base, and third base. Because the bases are arranged in the shape of a diamond, we use the term “baseball diamond” to refer to these four bases.

Also located in the infield is the pitcher’s mound.

Finally, the field is divided into “infield” and “outfield“.  The “infielders” are the following players: The pitcher, the catcher, the first baseman, the second baseman, the shortstop, and the third baseman. The “outfielders” are the right fielder, the center fielder, and the left fielder. That adds up to nine players on the defensive team who may be on the field at any one time.

The equipment used in the game is the following: the bat, the fielders’ gloves, the four bases. There are also batting helmets , knee and ankle protectors, and the catcher’s and umpire’s protective equipment such as the face mask and chest protector, because the ball is traveling so very quickly and could do some serious damage.  You might include sunglasses, batting gloves, and suntan lotion in this category, as the sun is a big factor in this game when played in the daytime.

Do you have that so far?

In part 2, we will discuss the rules of baseball.

As usual, we would love to hear your feedback and comments.

* from the verb, (to) bat
**from the verb (to) tie/ passive form: (to) be tied