3.11.12

El valor práctico de la meditación



En los ochenta viví varios años en Grecia, un país verdaderamente precioso. Allí conocí a un budista austriaco y de él aprendí la práctica de la meditación.

La sigo practicando hasta hoy en día, aunque con un tinte distinto. En aquel entonces estaba buscando la iluminación (la cual nunca encontré…..); las meditaciones se hacían en la posición lotus; teníamos mucha parafernalia como incienso y estatuas de Buda en el sótano donde practicábamos.

Hoy en día lo hago de una manera mucha más sencilla, sin imágenes o cosas semejantes. Simplemente apago mi celular, me siento en una silla, fijo mis ojos en un punto de la pared y observo, por 20 ó 30 minutos, mi respiración.

Estoy ahora, a la edad de 53 años, convencido de que ‘yo’ no soy mis pensamientos ni mis emociones. La pregunta sobre quién o qué soy no la quiero tratar entonces en esta entrada; pregunta que, en mi humilde opinión, está finalmente en el fondo de todas las religiones o prácticas religiosas.

Lo que yo siento, mis emociones, están directamente relacionadas con mis pensamientos; o sea: si me enfoco en la falta de dinero (el dinero realmente nunca es suficiente y, si lo tenemos, estamos ansiosos por hacer todo para no perderlo), me siento pobre. Si pienso continuamente en problemas de salud que se podrían presentar, estos pensamientos pueden llevarme a la enfermedad, ¡tan poderosos son!

Sin embargo, si pienso en mis amigos, en el cariño que les tengo, en su amistad, me siento feliz.

La técnica de meditación que yo practico no tiene el fin de controlar o influenciar mis pensamientos y, por lo tanto, mis emociones. Sirve más que nada para ‘salirse’, para ‘independizarse’ de mis pensamientos y emociones y así lograr cierta autonomía. Y este proceso te llevará con el tiempo a una relajación. No es una relajación espectacular: me puedo percatar de ella, por ejemplo, si por una razón o otra dejo de meditar.

Todos tenemos el hábito de tomarnos muy en serio. Si practicas esta clase de meditación te das cuenta que realmente no es para tanto. Enfocándome en mi respiración, imaginando que estoy exhalando lo que está pasando en este momento en mi mente, me vuelvo consciente, me doy cuenta de que soy espectador de un show tremendo —pero un show que de todos modos tiene muy poco que ver con la realidad.

Dejo de tomarme tan en serio cuando ‘veo’ que en mi mente estoy pensando en un momento en la crucifixión de Jesucristo, y en el siguiente me entran fantasías sexuales — ¡hasta es divertido!

Nuestros pensamientos y emociones son pasajeros, pero creo que todos tenemos la costumbre de confundirlas con la realidad; si la entendemos (a la realidad), o si no la entendemos, allí está, de todos modos. Creo que gran parte del sufrimiento humano está causado precisamente por no reconocer que lo que percibo como la realidad es nada más la interpretación de mi mente a ‘x’ impulsos. El hecho de que, a lo mejor, siempre tenemos las mismas creencias religiosas se debe sencillamente a que los impulsos siempre son los mismos, hecho causado por ir siempre a la misma iglesia, socializar con la misma gente, leer la misma clase de literatura, etc.

Pero hasta allí con puntos esotéricos. Te recomiendo mucho que inviertas 20 minutos al día en tu salud mental, en el alivio del estrés, en una mejor salud mental y física.

Asegúrate de que nadie te va a interrumpir, de que no entren llamadas telefónicas, de que esta apagado el estéreo —ponte cómodo en una silla, con la columna vertebral derecha, con los ojos abiertos enfocándose en un punto en la pared, sin intentar controlar tu mente… obsérvala, imagina que estás exhalando tus pensamientos. Te prometo que con el tiempo dejarás de tomar las cosas ‘tan a pecho’ y así aliviarás las tensiones y el estrés.     

28.10.12

Herramienta Gratuita Para Manejar Tu Cuenta Twitter

Una observación:
Esta herramienta ha sido desarrollada en Australia, por lo tanto las instrucciones están en inglés. Si tienes una duda, pónme un comentario al final de la entrada, con gusto te ayudo.
*****************************************************************************************************************

Twitter te pone inicialmente un límite de 2,000 personas que puedes seguir. No puedes pasarte de este número hasta que tienes un número aproximadamente equivalente de los que te siguen a ti, alrededor de 1,950. La realidad es que muchos usuarios que tú sigues no te van a seguir a ti. Eso se puede deber a que estas personas mismas han llegado a su límite, y no pueden seguir más usuarios. O sencillamente optaron por no seguirte de vuelta.

A la mejor te interesa ‘limpiar’ tu cuenta y en su momento decidir dejar de seguir a aquellos que no te están siguiendo. Si te fijas en la mayoría de las cuentas en Twitter, tienen en lo general un equilibrio entre seguidores y los que siguen.

ManageFlitter te permite hacer exactamente eso. Te deja ver a las personas que son inactivas (no han puesto un tweet en los ultimos treinta días), y a todas las que no te están siguiendo a ti. Y claro, desde la herramienta misma puedes dejar de seguirlos.

Aviso: Particularmente si estas todavía abajo del umbral de los 2,000, no les des ‘unfollow’ a más de 100 personas a la vez, y esperas por menos un par de horas. Si no Twitter te puede confundir con un spam-(ro-)bot y suspender tu cuenta.

27.10.12

El Arte de Escuchar



La vida es difícil. La mayor parte de las personas lo saben, por lo menos aquellos que han logrado crecer y convertirse en adultos responsables. Por el otro lado, hay muchas herramientas y técnicas para aquéllos quienes, a pesar de esta verdad fundamental, siguen tratando de aliviar esta carga para sí mismos y para los demás.

Hay mucho sufrimiento alrededor de nosotros. Y parece que esto no tiene absolutamente nada que ver con el país en que vivimos o con la clase de gente con la que nos rodeamos. Parece que no tiene nada que ver con la riqueza o la pobreza que prevalecen en ésta o en aquella sociedad. Parece que sencillamente ‘allí esta’.

Lo podemos ver en las expresiones de las personas en una multitud. Y no me refiero a personas que se han juntado por un propósito común, digamos: la celebración de un santo o una manifestación contra el gobierno. Estas personas por lo general tienen una expresión facial idéntica, puesto que están compartiendo pensamientos idénticos y un objetivo común.

Me refiero más que nada a la gente en la calle, que espera un camión o que está haciendo fila en un banco. Gente regresando de sus puestos de trabajo, gente esperando que el semáforo cambie a verde.

Allí no hay una causa común que los conecte y que los haga sentirse parte de una comunidad (aunque una comunidad temporal, como en los ejemplos de arriba). Están esencialmente ‘solos’, compartiendo tiempo y espacio con otros seres humanos que por coincidencia están en el mismo lugar. Y hay muy poca inter-acción social.

Hablar con otra persona casi siempre significa que tienes una agenda; en palabras más sencillas, que esperas algo de esta persona. A lo mejor quieres saber por dónde queda el teléfono público más cercano, ya que se te acabo el crédito de tu celular. A lo mejor quieres convencer a tu esposo o esposa de que sería mucho mejor quedarse en casa esta noche en vez de ir al cine. O el llamado telefónico que le haces a tu hermano, donde realmente no se dice nada; sin embargo, la llamada misma le muestra a tu hermano que estás apenado por las tonterías que le dijiste anoche.

Además, con esta agenda nuestra en mente, controlamos nuestro lenguaje corporal, lo cual incluye nuestra expresión facial y el tono de voz. Estamos, en un sentido real, actuando, queriendo dejar la impresión adecuada.

Personas en una multitud anónima no lo hacen. No se sienten observadas, no se han puesto una máscara. Y a mí por lo menos me entra algo de miedo si me fijo demasiado en ellos.

Todos tenemos nuestra carga, y hay quienes la manejan con más, otros con menos gracia. Todos, sin excepción, tenemos nuestros problemas. A lo mejor estoy sufriendo de sobrepeso, me falta habilidad para controlar lo que como. Ahora, aunque éste es un problema que comparten muchas personas en todo el globo, sigue siendo mi propio problema personal, y me siento solo. Nadie realmente me entiende.

Lo mismo le pasa a la madre del muchacho de 16 años que ha empezado a fumar. Eso le pasa a muchas madres (y padres), pero ella se siente sola en esta situación porque nadie realmente la entiende.

Eso se debe a que nadie realmente la escucha.

Hay mucho material disponible hoy en día acerca de cómo desarrollar y mejorar nuestras habilidades de comunicación. Está escrito, en su mayoría, para gente de negocios que quiere llevarse bien con sus clientes, para ejecutivos de empresas que quieren comunicar los valores de la misma a sus empleados, para políticos que quieren ganar una elección… padres tratando de hacerles entender algo a sus hijos, maestros tratando de influenciar a sus alumnos, y muchos más. Pero todos estos libros inician con la habilidad más básica, y la más difícil: cómo realmente escuchar al otro.

Para verdaderamente escuchar a otra persona se requiere fortaleza de carácter. Tengo que estar dispuesto a invertir tiempo y poner mis propias preocupaciones a un lado. Tengo que, en un sentido muy fundamental, olvidarme de mí mismo.

Una persona con un problema tiene una carga emocional. Imagínate que esta persona está en un contenedor en donde los pensamientos racionales y las emociones comparten el mismo espacio. Entre más emocionalmente cargada esté esta persona, menor espacio tendrán los pensamientos claros y coherentes. Esta persona podría literalmente estar hundiéndose en sus problemas.

Pero hay una manera de bajar estos niveles de emoción: hacerle sentir a dicha persona que realmente se le entiende.

Cuando una persona con un problema se s-i-e-n-t-e realmente entendida, es como si se abrieran mágicamente unas válvulas en el fondo de este contenedor y toda la emoción negativa pudiera salir, liberando así nuevo espacio para el pensamiento. Es entonces cuando esta persona puede ver la solución a su problema, la cual estaba posiblemente frente a sus ojos, pero cubierta por todas estas preocupaciones, frustraciones y sentimiento de impotencia.

¿Qué es lo que pasa en general cuando yo veo a una persona que tiene una carga alta de emociones negativas? Supongamos que un colega mío en el trabajo está a punto de ser despedido. Yo, siendo una persona de buena voluntad, quiero ayudarle y lo invito a que me cuente lo que está pasando.

En el mismo momento en el que me empieza a hablar de su situación, yo busco en mis ‘archivos’ si he experimentado algo similar en mi vida. Tan pronto como encuentro una experiencia mía semejante, siento que ya se de qué me está hablando —ya lo he vivido, o había leído acerca de esto, o amigos míos lo han experimentado… En fin, empiezo a hacerle una serie de recomendaciones acerca de lo que yo haría en esa situación, de cómo resolvería yo este problema.

Esto se llama una respuesta autobiográfica, y es de muy poca efectividad. Porque mi colega siente ahora que ha sido relegado al segundo lugar. Él me tiene escuchar a mí. Si hubiera buscado consejos, me los hubiera pedido. Lo que yo estoy haciendo se percibe más que nada como una imposición.

Pero yo realmente quería ayudar a esta persona, y lo único que he logrado es que, probablemente, mi colega ya no regrese conmigo cuando necesite que alguien lo escuche. Perdí una oportunidad excelente de disminuir el sufrimiento y de hacer un nuevo amigo.

La única técnica que funciona, el nivel mas alto de escuchar, es el ‘escuchar con empatía’.

Hay una diferencia entre la simpatía y la empatía. Con mi simpatía estoy disponible con todas mis habilidades y experiencia. Eso es relativamente sencillo.

La empatía, sin embargo, requiere precisamente de que me olvide de todo esto, de que me ponga en el lugar del otro. Y eso puede ser difícil. Pero es la única manera en la que puedo entender realmente lo que está pasando dentro de esa persona. Necesito experimentar su realidad en su nivel de experiencia para entender que es lo que realmente le preocupa.

Todas nuestras realidades están llenas de emociones. No sirve de mucho entender el problema ‘objetivo’ de una persona si no hago el esfuerzo por entender lo que este problema le está causando emocionalmente, porque es allí donde mi colega ‘vive’ el problema. Y tengo que estar dispuesto a sufrir con él, al menos temporalmente.

¿Cómo funciona eso en la práctica? ¿Recuerdas a mi colega, al que están a punto de despedir? Una vez que empieza a hablar, la pregunta mas importante que puedo hacerle es: “¿Y como te hace sentir eso?”

Para mi sorpresa, resulta que él esta contento por el hecho de que se va a ir de la compañía con una buena indemnización. Está harto del estrés en esta compañía, y ¡ya tiene una oferta de empleo de otra! Lo que realmente le preocupa es el hecho de que sus hijos van a tener que cambiar de escuela, porque su nuevo empleo estará en otra ciudad.

No hubiera yo tenido oportunidad de aprender eso si le hubiera contado mis experiencias cuando a mí me despidieron hace unos años. Es importante, en esta situación, preguntar y dar retroalimentación (feedback). A lo mejor no estoy interpretando bien lo que me dice, y podría preguntarle “¿Y eso te pone nervioso?” Él, por un lado, me puede corregir y, por el otro, y mucho mas importante, sentirá que estoy tratando de entender qué le está causando esta situación emocionalmente.

Y es allí donde empieza el milagro. Como se siente completamente entendido (o sea, la situación, y lo que está haciendo esta situación con sus emociones), las válvulas se abren, se baja el nivel de sus emociones, y él puede ver las posibles soluciones a su problema, siendo que tiene ahora mucho más espacio para el pensamiento racional.

Mucho sufrimiento hay en este mundo precisamente porque las personas se sienten ‘solas’, aunque estén rodeadas de gente. Sienten que nadie realmente las entiende. Un gran número de nosotros estamos literalmente ‘constipados’ por emociones negativas.

Si todos aprendemos realmente a escuchar a los demás, creo que este mundo sería un mundo mejor.



22.10.12

¿Que es una ‘Tormenta de Ideas’?



La ‘tormenta de ideas’ es una técnica que permite llegar a respuestas creativas a determinadas postulaciones o problemas. Permite a los participantes pensar ‘fuera de la caja’ (outside the box), aún en situaciones formales como juntas de negocio. De lo que sabemos fue desarrollada en Japón en los sesentas y setentas. Se aplica de preferencia en grupo. Sin embargo, puedes hacerlo solo para llegar a innovadoras soluciones a tus problemas.

Vemos primero el proceso tradicional de resolver un problema. Es el proceso ‘racional’ que, como vamos a ver en este texto, realmente en la mayoría de los casos nos impide llegar a soluciones creativas.

Estas en una junta formal, digamos en tu trabajo. La gente de tu departamento se ha juntado para resolver un problema X. Se les pide a los participantes de sugerir soluciones a este problema.

Asumimos además que en este grupo hay mucha competencia entre los miembros. Claro que nadie quiere ‘perder su cara’ sugiriendo algo fuera de lo común, siendo que podría ser interpretado como ‘absurdo’ o hasta ‘tonto’.

Por lo tanto las posibles soluciones se encuentran dentro de lo esperado, normalmente algo que ya ha funcionado en situaciones semejantes, probablemente con resultados mediocres.

La tormenta de ideas hace exactamente lo contrario. La regla principal es que todos pueden decir cualquier cosa que les llega a la mente, NO IMPORTA QUE TAN ABSURDA SUENA EN ESTE MOMENTO.

Cualquier sugerencia se anota en un pizarrón, recomiendo que este proceso sigue hasta que hay un mínimo de cincuenta puntos.

El pizarrón va a estar lleno de ideas absurdas, graciosas, tontas, lo que tu quieres. Pero en lo general, escondido en este montón, se encuentra esta una idea creativa e innovadora que es la respuesta al problema postulado.

Aquí son los pasos:

Ø Júntense y definen con exactitud el problema a resolver.

Ø Empiezan la tormenta, asignando a una persona para que anota las contribuciones en un pizarrón. Es importantísimo en esta etapa de NO permitir comentarios como ‘Eso nunca va a funcionar!’ ‘¿Cómo? Es imposible?’ o semejantes juicios. La idea es de permitir a tu mente andar en regiones a donde nunca llegaste con este tipo de problema, pensar lo que nunca pensaste, sin correr el riesgo de parecer tonto o absurdo. ¡Todos lo hacen! De hecho, en un ambiente competitivo pronto resultará que el con las sugerencias más absurdas ¡se lleva el aplauso de sus compañeros!

Ø Una vez terminada la tormenta, empiezan a borrar las sugerencias que obviamente no funcionan. Pero te prometo que se van a quedar con cinco ideas que si valen la pena.

Ø Entre estos ideas, ya regresando al ‘modo normal’, escogen entonces la mejor.

Tú solo puedes implementar este proceso con una hoja de papel y un lápiz. En una sesión (y eso es importante, en UNA sesión) anota a menos cincuenta posibles soluciones al reto que estas enfrentando. De la misma manera, no juzgues, no descartas en este punto. Una vez llegado a cincuenta, sigues el mismo proceso.

16.9.12

21 Totally Useless Facts

Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child  reaches 2 to 6 years of age. 

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds. 

If you are an average American, in your whole life, you will spend an average of 6 months waiting at red lights.

A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.  

It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open. 

A snail can sleep for three years. 

Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer. 

Butterflies taste with their feet.

If the population of China walked past you, in single file the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.  

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.  

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.  

Peanuts are one of the ingredients in dynamite. 

The Bible does not say there were three wise men; it only says there were three gifts. 

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

There are more chickens than people in the world.  

Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur. 

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance. 

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.  

Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks; otherwise it will digest itself.  
   

   

 

   

Teaching English in a Foreign Country

America might not be as influential in the world as it used to be. The times when ‘Coca Cola’ stood for a whole culture have long gone. And economically the US is still the biggest economy, but serious competitors have entered the scene, like China, for example.

England used to be a world power, but that is something you’d find in history books by now. However, both countries have left their imprint on the world as we know it, and that’s why we find that English is still the most important language in the world, in terms of its use and by how many people speak it.

German, the language of war, French, the language of diplomacy, and English for all there is under the sun. Foreigners meeting abroad try English first when they want to communicate; it is not at all uncommon to find two German tourists in the Czech Republic starting to talk English to each other until they find out that they are from the same country.

But most importantly English has been, is now and most likely will continue to be the language of commerce. This is why students all over the world, be it in Latin America, Africa or China, want to learn English. Their job prospects increase dramatically when they can show in their curriculum that they speak English. And this is why there are always openings for English teachers all over the world.

The market for teaching English as a second language has become kind of crowded of late, to say the least. More people want to learn it, and more Americans or other English speakers want to teach it. This is one interesting aspect of that particular market: you have a good chance of getting into it even if you don’t have prior experience as a teacher.

I’m not referring here to teaching jobs as let’s say a second grade teacher in a private school. There you will be asked for qualifications. I’m referring here to commercial institutes that cater to the needs of foreign and multinational companies that want to teach their staff to answer a fax in English, or attend to some supervisor in the home office.

Mind you, the times where it was just enough to be American in order to land a teaching job have long gone. You will have to meet certain requirements, but they are relatively easy. For one, you have to be ‘teach-able’. That means that most serious institutes around the world want motivated and skilled staff, and are willing to send them initially through a training program of their own.

Since staff turnover in these institutes is pretty high, they want to recover what they invested in your training by paying you a low salary first. Since most people drop out after a couple of month that makes sense for the language school. But you can be pretty sure that if you hang in there and do a good job, you will a. be allocated more classes, and therefore more pay, and b. your hourly rate will go up.


It’s not absolutely necessary, but it does help a lot if you have experience in general business matters, or if you have worked in a corporation yourself. Because you will find that your students are not so much interested in learning English, but to improve their communication skills. There is a fine difference. If they’re able to service a client better because of their command of English, that gives them a better standing with their company and better prospects for promotions. And if you as the teacher can focus on those phrases that are used in negotiations, for example, or in sales presentations, that would help both you and your students. But again, it’s not absolutely necessary.

7.9.12

Using 'AutoSaving'

A nasty thing that can happen while you are working on a translation is for your computer to crash. Depending on how much of your work you have saved previously you might lose a good chunk of your translation. Imagine you have been hammering away for the past 90 minutes, and a storm knocks out your power supply - it's extremely frustrating to do the same job over....

In Word there is a setting called 'autosaving' where the document you are working on saves itself every X minutes. You can adjust it by going to Tools>Options>Save Tab> and then select "Save Autorecover Info" every X minutes. I suggest you select 10 minutes. This way, should your computer crash, you lose a maximum of 10 minutes of your work.

You can do it as well manually by pressing "Control S", which works for most programs you might be working with.

6.9.12

#translationtip Back Up Your Files

It's a fact of life, computers do crash. Or they get attacked by a malignant software or a virus.

Now, imagine you are working on a dissertation, written by a Mexican student in Spanish. She is applying for a scholarship at a renowned English university to do a master, and you are translating her work into English.

There are a total of 60 pages, you are halfway through and 'bang' - your computer crashes. AND you forgot to back up your files...........

You don't want that to happen to you, believe me. You might have lost there 20 hours of work, and you have to start all over.

So always make copies of your documents (the originals and the translations), and make them OUTSIDE your PC. What I mean is keep those copies on a floppy disc or a USB stick. That way if your computer does crash it at least doesn't make you lose all the time and effort you have invested until that point.



5.9.12

Ask to see the text before accepting a job

I once translated a series of letters that were written at the beginning of the 20th century. They were sent from Indonesia to Germany, by a German lady working as a missionary.

When I was approached for the job the first thing I did, before anything else, was to ask for sample letters. My client scanned them and sent them to me via .pdf files.

The letters themselves were of a personal nature, so there weren't any technical or legal terms to deal with.

However, they were hand-written, and at times illegible.

So even though the material itself represented no challenge (they were written, after all, in my mother language), I had to invest a lot of time literally deciphering whole passages, and sometimes deducing the meaning of words through context.

When pricing the job I had to obviously take into account the time it would take me not to translate, but to read the original.

My suggestion here is that you NEVER accept a job unless you have seen beforehand what it is about.     

4.9.12

Set Up Your Computer Monitor

Working as a translator you will spend a lot of time in front of your computer monitor.

That can take its toll on your eyes (they may start to hurt), or you might get a headache. It's therefore imperative that you adjust your monitor's settings to a level that's comfortable for you.

By default everybody seems to view black text on documents with white background. That makes sense if you want to print out the document, since color cartridges are pretty expensive. But that doesn't mean that you have to work with a setting like that.

Your eyes might like it better when they work with white text on blue background, or a green background with a yellow text. Find out, experiment.

The process might take time, but remember, you have to do it only once.

14.8.12

Good News Is Not Spectacular

I said it before, and I'll say it again: life is tough.

Now, that might be by design, or it might be just the way it is. I for one am at a stage right now where I find the question in itself irrelevant. I'm more interested in how to deal with the whole mistery of life on a practical level.

Thing is I could easily fill up this blog with negativity, tell you about the going-ons in Mexico, all the bad news that's out there.

But what would be the point of that?

There is, however, a point in coming up with good news.

Downside is, you have to look for it - it's work!

I mean it, and not because of my particular circumstances: it requires effort to come up with good news.

BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT IT AIN'T OUT THERE!

Just today I received some very unsettling, bad news - and in the same event something was said that made me feel extremely good.

Now, my mind is easily impressed by bad news, it feeds on it - if I let it.

I rather go the extra mile, look for (and usually find) these little gems in my life, the 'good-news' items. 

Misery is easy, it's happiness you have to work at.



 





11.8.12

It takes 4 hours to hardboil an ostrich egg

and 9 other totally useless facts about animals.
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Roosters can't crow if they can't fully extend their necks.

Dolphins can hear underwater sounds from 24km (15miles) away

The fingerprints of koala bear are indistinguishable to that of a human

Emus can't walk backwards

Porcupines float in water

Flamingos can only eat when their heads are upside down

The cheetah is the only cat that can't retract it's claws

The bones of a pigeon weigh less than its feathers

Giraffes have no vocal cords
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9.8.12

Why is it 'raining cats and dogs'?

Way back in England, where the English language obviously originated, houses had thatched roofs - they were piled high with straw, with no wood underneath.

It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof.

When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.

Hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

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8.8.12

How fast is a drop of Heinz tomato ketchup?


On average, a drop of Heinz tomato ketchup leaves the bottle at a speed of 

a.) 5 mph

b.) 2 miles per year

c.) 25 miles per year

Don't forget to leave your Twitter id with your answer.

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Humans are the only animals to sleep on their backs

... and 9 other totally useless facts about humans
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If you shouted for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would produce enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.

Around 15 men each year have their penises chopped off by their wives and the highest proportion of men who suffer this are Italians.

After being decapitated a human can still see for 20 seconds.

Under EC law it is legal to have sex with inflatable dolls in the street.

Winners at the 2001 Nobel Prize ceremony for eccentric researchers, inventors and scientists include an American who claims to have invented anti-flatulence underwear, a Lithuanian who set up a theme park dedicated to Stalin, and two Indians who discovered that nose-picking is commonplace.

Human stomachs produce a new layer of mucus every 2 weeks to stop it digesting itself.

More boys than girls are born during the day, but more girls are born at night.

Michelangelo's cook was illiterate, so he drew her a shopping list, which today is priceless.

Banging your head against a wall uses a 150 calories an hour.

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7.8.12

The Shortest War In History


The shortest war in history was between England and Zanzibar in 1896. 

Zanzibar surrendered after 

a.) 38 minutes

b.) 4 days

c.) 6 weeks 

Don't forget to leave your Twitter id with your answer.

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Understanding Engineers

A pastor, a doctor and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.

The engineer fumed, "What's with these guys? We must have been waiting for 15 minutes!"

The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such ineptitude!"

The pastor said, "Hey, here comes the greens keeper. Let's have a word with him."

"Hey George. Say, what's with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?"

The greens keeper replied, "Oh, yes, that's a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime."

The group was silent for a moment.

The pastor said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight."

The doctor said, "Good idea. And I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there's anything he can do for them."


The engineer said, "Why can't these guys play at night?"


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Why Do Brides Carry A Bouquet?

Easy! Way back a lot of people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May.

They still smelled pretty good by June.

However, since they were starting to smell the brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.

Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

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6.8.12

Ten totally useless facts about humans.

It takes about 40 muscles to smile, but only 4 to pull the trigger of a decent rifle.

Semen is one of the most fattening substances known to man.

The average human will eat one pound of insects in their lifetime.

Humans share one third of their DNA with lettuce!

Right-handed people live on average, 9 years longer than left-handed people.

Julio Iglesias once had five gallons of water flown from Miami to L.A. so he could wash his hair.

Tom Cruise and Robbie Williams were both voted least Likely To Succeed at school.

Pirates wore earrings because they believed it improved their eyesight.

Volleyball is the most popular sport at nudist camps.

Every time you lick a stamp you consume one tenth of a calorie.



Weird Coincidences - True?

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

The names Lincoln and Kennedy each contain seven letters.

Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.

Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.

Both were shot in the head.

Both were shot in the presence of their wives.

The Secretary of each President warned them not to go to the theater and to Dallas, respectively.

Lincoln's Secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy's Secretary was named Lincoln.

Both were assassinated by Southerners.

Both were succeeded by Southerners.

Both successors were named Johnson.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.

Both assassins were known by their three names.

Both names have 15 letters.


Booth ran from the theater and was captured in a warehouse.
Oswald ran from the warehouse and was captured in a theater.


To cap it all off, Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.
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30.5.12

Fun Memory Game with German Pronouns

Tips, Tricks and Resources to Learn A Foreign Language Faster
 
Another little gem from About.com German Language. It’s designed along the lines of the old memory game, where you have a number of cards with images placed face-down on the table. There are two images of each, and the player has to try to remember where they are located.

The same here, but this time not with images, but with German pronouns. Practice both your memory and your skills with German pronouns. It’s fun!
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28.5.12

Use Your Ego to Stay Motivated

Tips, Tricks and Resources to Learn A Foreign Language Faster

If you are well into your language studies you will have noticed obstacles on your way, and as in any other learning process, you have to find ways to overcome them.

You might get stuck at a grammar structure, you just don’t get the pronunciation of some words right, or you might be frustrated about your slower than expected progress.

Let’s talk about ‘ego’ for a couple of seconds here. ‘Ego’ is supposed to be a bad thing, at least according to Gautama Buddha, since it is the cause for all suffering.

Sounds great to me. However, I’m still battling with mine (LOL) , and I guess so are you. Why not use it as a tool for staying motivated?

Imagine yourself at the end of your learning process, speaking whatever language you are learning fluently.

Let’s say you’re learning Italian, and your Sicilian boyfriend drops by for a visit. Your other friends are there, and you are chatting away happily in Italian. How would that make you feel?

You are a mother of two teenagers, the going is rough, and on top of that you committed yourself to that darn Spanish course. You are in a fight with your daughter when your Spanish teacher calls you to ask about your assignment. You are happy about the distraction and chat away happily in Spanish. How would that make you feel?

You see, pull any register to stay motivated, do what it takes, if you persist you WILL speak that language in the end.  

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26.5.12

German Crossword Puzzle

Tips, Tricks and Resources to Learn A Foreign Language Faster

Distract yourself for a couple of minutes and do this German crossword puzzle. It has been developed by About.com German Language, and it is geared towards the lower intermediate level.

Remember, this is supposed to be fun, so if you don’t get it all in your first session, come back later and try again.
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25.5.12

Excellent Free German Course by ‘Deutsche Welle’.

Tips, Tricks and Resources to Learn A Foreign Language Faster
 
‘Deutsche Welle’ (the German equivalent of the BBC World Service) has developed a very comprehensive German language course which I highly recommend.

I recommend it to the student of the German language living outside Germany. The course in itself is not designed with you in mind, rather for the foreign student already living in Germany. However, if you are enrolled in a German language course in your country, then it is excellent support material that will help you develop your listening comprehension, increase your vocabulary and review grammar points. And it doesn’t matter what your mother language is, you can access the support material in almost any language.

Teachers: This is definitely for you. I have been using it in my classes for almost 10 years now, and my students practically fall in love with the fictional characters we encounter in it. Besides, the course conveys as well lots of facts about day-to-day life in Germany, her history and her culture.  You find the link here.

24.5.12

Mexico – A Country of Procrastinators?

Living in Mexico

Every language has at least some words in it that are practically impossible to translate. They have a meaning very specific to the culture from which they originate,  and since no two cultures are alike you have to laboriously explain a word like that. The best thing, however, would be not to use it at all.

‘Procrastination ‘ is a word like that, I still have to find an equivalent for it in either German or Spanish.

And that already answers the question posed in the title of this entry: No, Mexicans are not procrastinators, the concept as such doesn’t exist here.

Now, does that mean that every meeting down here begins on schedule, every appointment is honored at the time agreed?

Far from it.

But that’s not because things are being put off to a later time for a reason specific to them. It’s simply because at the time of the appointment something suddenly comes up that is more important.

Anglo-Saxons like to prioritize, plan, and then execute. Things down here are more circumstancial, happen at the spur of the moment.

And that’s not good nor bad, it’s simply the way it is. You have to be ready for surprises if you want to live or at least spend considerable time down here.

The biggest mistake you could make is to take it personal if a Mexican friend doesn’t show up for that drink he said he was going to have with you at seven o’clock in your neighborhood bar. Or if he shows up at eight and you’re already half drunk…….
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For your free, no obligation trial of Rocket Spanish click here.

23.5.12

I confess

Living in Mexico

At a very young age I got interested in current events, and ever since then I’ve been reading news papers, listening to the radio, and watching tv news programs on a daily basis – and I continue to do so. By now obviously I access most of the information over the Internet. My favorite by far is BBC World Service, with two German tv stations as a close second and the German magazine Der Spiegel as a runner up.

I ran a business in Mexico-City in the nineties, and in order to connect and network (that was still offline at the time) I had to be informed about what was going on in Mexico.  And I was.

However, over the last ten years I lost interest, at least in Mexican day-to-day politics. Big news I hear over the BBC. That’s how I find out that another stack of 50 dead bodies shows up on a highway near Monterrey, for example.

But I only recently heard from one of my students that the presidential candidate for the National Action Party is a woman. I don’t mind (I was an ardent fan of Margaret Thatcher), I just didn’t know.

Do I know that a war is raging down here – of course I do, read this post. However, when I want to find out about the annual inflation rate, I rather talk to the grocer in my neighborhood.
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For your free, no obligation life time trial of Rocket Spanish click here.

22.5.12

Breaking Language Barriers

Guest Post by WeTranslateTLab

Once a colleague of mine asked me if I was happy. I didn't answer her back then, but thought this over. Am I happy? And what is happiness?

This is the questions most of us have been trying to answer all our lives, but does anyone have a correct answer? I think, it could be yes and no at the same time. No, because nobody knows the correct definition for the happiness so that it suits everyone. For somebody it is love, for others money, for third something else. But yes, because everybody is happy in his or her own way, you just need to want it. It's easy.

I love my family, love my children, love my colleagues and my work, love what I do. Do it sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes superb, sometimes worse than anyone else could ever do. But I love it. I learnt to value every second of my 'measly existence'. I love to write, love when something comes out under my hand (keyboard actually), even if not everyone likes it, I will do it anew again and again, so that everybody could be satisfied.

I love people around me. And that's funny, really, because I don't know many people I work with. Some I don't know at all, some know just a little, some are my good friends, some are just colleagues.

You are sure to ask: how could that be? How is it possible not to know people you work with? Let me explain.

We are doing software localization: take a piece of software and first write the correct words for its interface and then translate it into lots of other languages. Forty four of them, to be exact. And at the same time there are only five of us sitting at the same office, all my other colleagues work somewhere else around the world. Miles and miles away... I never saw them, never ever spoke to them. And at the same time I got to know some of them quite well.

When we started this work, we had two main obstacles to overcome: a way to easily translate the interface of TeamLab software (as we work for it) and means to communicate with all the translators around the world. Both were not that easy as it could be.

The first was solved when the translation system was invented. And, being invented in cooperation with us translators, for the translators and under supervision of the translators, it's come out just as great as we wanted it to be, making me (again!) happy with it. It works as it was meant to work, and can withstand the presence of several dozens of translators at the same time.

The second could be solved using the email communication, but we quickly realized all the drawbacks of such a way. The number of emails grew proportionally together with the number of our translation team members (we are now more than a hundred and a half and that's not that easy to track everything that happens using just email correspondence), and what could be done with all the news and announces we had? Email them to all the translators all the time? That's wasn't the way for us. We needed something else, something more like our own society.

We needed a community.

The community for those who want to translate, for those who want to write, for those who just need to communicate. Yes, we have such people among our translators. They just came to us to communicate, not even to translate or to write. We give this to them as well, because believe that with the course of time they might become our translators. Even if one of them does, it will be great. If not - why not make these people a little bit happier, it is that easy.

And we created such a community - 'Breaking the Language Barriers' portal. Invited all our translators there - and almost all of them who worked with us at the time the community was started (that was on December 27th, 2011) joined it, proving our idea, that it was really important for them as well. We started with about thirty translators, then we grew and soon we will be (I believe that) more than two hundred and will continue to grow. We have translators to all kind of languages: Latin alphabet, Cyrillic, Chinese, Georgian, Thai, Hebrew, Arabic... Lots of languages! Every day we discover new languages for us, see how our portals look like translated into them, love that very much, crave for new languages to be added to our translation system and to the portals, and are glad like children, when a new translator joins us.

That's true, new translators make us glad. And old ones make us happy.

We love to talk to them, love to read their posts in forums and blogs, love when they write something about themselves, about the work they do, love their successes, worry when they have some troubles with the translations. "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." They are no longer just translators. They are OUR translators.

That's how come I don't know most of my colleagues in person. But I know quite a lot about them from what they write, from how they work.

There is a professor from a Brazilian university, who started the translation even when there was no translation system. He works with his students on the translation and likes being praised.

There is a nice lady from mainland China, who translated everything alone, not only portals but also our site, the only one from the translators.

There is a guy from Finland, who translated every single word, every single document, everything at all we could provide him with, tested everything even better than our staff testers, but he himself does not even have a portal of his own and does not need anything from us, just wanted his work to be released into public, that's all. That's just unbelievable!

There is another guy from Vietnam, who managed to translate everything for less than a week (usually it takes not less than a month), working daily and nightly, because he needed it. A low bow to him!

There have been teams formed inside the community - Polish team, Ukrainian team, Finnish team, Dutch team, Portuguese team, other teams as well. They come to our community and communicate not only with us, but also with each other, in their own languages - they wouldn't even ever know each other if our community didn't exist. And that thought makes my head go round. And makes me love my job even more. Makes it meaningful.

We are waiting for new translators, welcome all of them to our community. It is not even the matter of translation. It is a matter of translators. We are translators ourselves, and we love to be among the ones alike. That's why we never regret if translators do not translate anything, but simply communicate with us. That means they just needed this, this is what had meaning for them.

The meaning in everything is what makes my life not futile. What makes me happy.

Yes, I am happy.
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