When I was in the second grade, I received a letter from an old school friend. I opened the envelope to find a letter from her class and a drawing of a boy wearing a colorful tie. The letter went on to explain that I had received Flat Stanley, a school boy who was accidentally flattened by a falling bulletin board. Stanley’s new flattened condition allowed him the luxury of sliding under locked doors and flying through the air as a kite. Perhaps the greatest perk of being flat is that Stanley could now travel the globe for just the price of a stamp. My friend sent me Flat Stanley with the hopes that I would take a picture of Stanley with my class, send her the photo and a letter about my school, and then send Flat Stanley off on another adventure via mail. However, being a second grader with much better things to do, I promptly lost Flat Stanley and my friend’s letter. I hope that my Flat Stanley found the bottom of a dumpster as interesting as Cambodia or Peru could’ve potentially been.
A little history on our friend Stanley; Flat Stanley was a book that was published in 1964 by Jeff Brown. It wasn’t until 1995 that a third-grade teacher in Canada had the idea of using Flat Stanley and his story to create a small culture exchange. Not only does Flat Stanley promote interest in travel and different cultures, it also helps improve reading and writing skills in a fun way. I’m not sure what exactly made me think about my Failed Stanley from back in the 90’s, but it’s interesting to note that he’s still connecting classrooms around the world today. If you’re interested in Flat Stanley or connecting your classroom to others around the world, I highly suggest visiting The Flat Stanley Project. This website will help you arrange an exchange with another school to help continue Flat Stanley’s legacy.
Flat Stanley in Nigeria
Recently I’ve been enjoying teaching my students about portmanteaus. These are similar to compound words (light + house= lighthouse), but the difference is that some letters get cut out from one or both of the words.
Some simple and obvious portmanteaus would be cheeseburger (cheese + hamburger), smog (smoke + fog), and newscast (news + broadcast).
In my research for these lessons I came across several other words that I had no idea were portmanteaus:
- botox= botulism + toxin
- electrocute= electric + execute
- endorphin= endogenous + morphine
- fortnite= fourteen + nights
- gerrymandering= Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry + the perimeter of a districts he created resembled a salamander
- Microsoft= microcomputer + software
- napalm= naphthene + palmitate
- Skype= sky + peer-to-peer
- snark= snide + remark
- Verizon= veritas (Latin for “truth”) and horizon
- vitamin= vita + amine
Perhaps even more interesting is that the name for this lexical phenomenon came from none other than Lewis Carrol, author of the Alice in Wonderland books. That’s what I call surpascinating.
Molasses is a sweet, syrupy product that is created by refining sugar cane. Have you ever heard the simile “slow as molasses in January” to describe someone or something slow-moving? Molasses and similar products (think honey or maple syrup) at room temperature move quite slowly. However, today is the 100th anniversary of a day when molasses didn’t move so slowly; in fact, the sticky goop caused the deaths of 21 people living in Boston, Massachusetts. I’m talking, of course, about the Great Molasses Flood of 1919.
On January 15, 1919, a large tank that stored molasses burst flooding the streets of Boston. The weather had gotten slightly warmer which increased the temperature of the molasses and started a fermentation process. Additionally, the construction of the storage tank had neglected safety testing, such as filling it with water to check for leaks. The storage tank leaked so badly that the company painted it brown to hide the leaks. Nearby residents often scraped the leaking molasses from the tank for personal use. The fermenting gases along with lackadaisical safety testing caused the storage unit to explode sending a wave of molasses up to 25 feet high at some points and causing 2 to 3 feet in flooding. It’s estimated that the molasses flowed at a speed of 56 kilometers per hour which quickly cooled and harden causing great difficulty to free oneself from it’s sticky embrace.
Clean up efforts were a nightmare, with 300 to 400 volunteers using salt water and sand to wash away or absorb the brown goop. Public transportation, handrails, doors and floors were sticky for long afterwards as cleaners tracked molasses with their shoes where ever they went.
So, the next time you want to eat some gingerbread cookies or enjoy some pancakes, pray your molasses doesn’t become murderous.
The offending molasses storage tank in an undated picture. Watch out!
アミックでは新年最初の授業で、皆さんに新年の抱負（New Year’s Resolution）を書いてもらっています。「英検にチャレンジする」、「英語の本を読む」、「単語を頑張って覚える」など、たくさんの意欲に溢れたコメントを頂きました。
実際に英語ネイティブの方はどのようなNew Year’s Resolutionを宣言することが多いのでしょうか？
〇become (more~) 「（もっと～）になる」
Become more active.「もっと活動的になる」
Become more confident and take some chances.「自信を持って何かをやってみる」
Start saving money.「貯金をする」
Start eating healthier food.「健康に良い食生活を始める」
Stop being late.「遅刻をしないようにする」
Stop relying on a dictionary too much.「辞書に頼りすぎないようにする」
One thing I’m really looking forward to putting on my taste buds when I get back to America is spicy food. In particular, I miss hot sauce—in U.S. supermarkets, it’s not uncommon to see shelves holding 50+ varieties of the stuff to choose from.
I also decided that making my own hot sauce would be a perfect hobby for me: it seems cheap enough, involves cooking, and allows plenty of opportunity for tinkering and tracking within a spreadsheet.
What I won’t be doing however is trying to see how insanely hot a sauce I can make—I’m more of a flavor-over-brawn kind of guy. Thankfully, most of the world’s hottest peppers aren’t sold on the open market, so I won’t have to worry about accidentally throwing one of the world’s three spiciest peppers (as measured by Scoville units, or SHU) into my batches.
Pepper X (3,180,000 SHU)
Created for the YouTube series “Hot Ones” (where celebrities are interviewed while eating increasingly spicy hot wings), Pepper X is the heinous result of breeding together spicy varieties of bonnet pepper. Currently, it can only be found (in very diluted form) in the “Last Dab” hot sauce made by the company of the same name as the web series.
Dragon’s Breath (2,480,000 SHU)
Another Frankenstein creation, Dragon’s Breath was conceived by a British chili farmer and university researchers. Ironically, this tiny pepper was not bred for its heat, but instead for its flower-like appearance. The responsible researchers even pose that it could be used as an anaesthetic.
Carolina Reaper (1,569,300 SHU)
This contribution in the pepper arms race is a product of the PuckerButt Pepper Company in South Carolina. The reaper will make you do just that, and then some—in 2018, a man was hospitalized after eating one, complaining of severe headaches. It doesn’t, however, seem to bother mice:
Yes, I had an amazing New Years’ vacation, thank you for asking. Happy New Year to you, too! I went to Hong Kong and Macao, visited Hong Kong Disney, ate a lot of delicious foods (including dim sum and egg tarts), drank a lot of tasty beers, and saw a massive Buddha on top of a hill. I also saw some ruins of an old cathedral in Macao and plenty of beautiful Christmas lights and some very festive Chinese Christmas carolers. Oh, and I got engaged (again) to my number one favorite person and travel buddy.
But, today’s blog isn’t going to be about any of that fun stuff. No, today is reserved for something far more important: this video I found on The Internet™.
Ho-leeeee cow. I was not ready. After the first couple dozen of sneezes, you can’t help but wonder, “Are these sneezes real?” I mean, this woman sneezes as if a demon is trying to come out of her soul with each breath. The title “Grandma Sneezes Dramatically” is so on point. I counted 38 sneezes (35 with false starts) and 12 wardrobe changes which leads me to believe that these sneezes were all filmed on different days. But still, who is this grandma’s grandson that just so happens to have a camera pointed on her anytime she sneezes? She also looks up at the camera a few times, which could suggest a fake, but could also be her way of saying “why are you always filming me?”. Fakery aside, my favorite sneezes are the ones when she’s in her pantry, because, why is this grandma just chillin’ in her pantry?! I also like that her dog is seemingly unfazed by her loud sternutations.
What’s your favorite video on The Internet™ currently?
Happy New Year!
People can be divided into two types, ‟larks” or ‟owls”.
‟Larks” means people who are early birds, whereas ‟owls” means people who lead nocturnal lives. Which type you are is determined by heredity. It is sometimes hard to adjust our sleeping rhythms and hours to our life.
The term ‘lark’ comes from the old English expression ‘Up with the lark’ to describe getting up when the birds (one of them being the lark) start singing first thing in the morning.
The early bird catches the worm.
Are you a lark or an owl? I am a total lark! I usually get up at 4:30 and do many things in the early morning. I read a newspaper, do some cleaning, make breakfast, and study English.I can utilize my time in the early morning.
Early risers are more likely to succeed in the future! One day I read an article which said this, and I tried to get up earlier. Finally I got up at 3:30! However, after I finished my work at 9:00, I felt really sleepy and almost dozed off while I was driving home. It was so dangerous that I had to stop getting up so early.
However, I still get up at 4:30 and enjoy my time. This year, I was able to see the first sunrise of the year. The early bird catches the worm!
Why don’t you try getting up earlier?
December of sophomore year of high school, I remember being in class and seeing several students huddling around my teacher’s computer. The video they described to the rest of us didn’t sound that exciting at the time, but it would go to spark a (arguably tacky) trend that adds even more to the spectacle of Christmas.
The video was of the home of Carson Williams, an electrical engineer from Mason, Ohio (about 25 minutes from where I grew up). Williams had rigged the 16,000 Christmas lights on his house to flash and dance in time with Christmas metal band Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards of Winter”, which you could hear if you tuned to a specific radio frequency in your car. The light show became so popular that Williams had to shut it down for the 2005 Christmas season due to the traffic congestion it was creating in his neighborhood.
The following Christmas season, many others started to post videos of their own elaborate light displays, and Williams was even hired to do the lighting for a beer commercial. The buzz around the idea allowed Williams to start his own holiday lights company, and in the years that followed he was commissioned to do commercial-scale holiday light shows in cities like Denver and Chicago.
Although the fad seems to be somewhat dying off (at least according to Google Trends), new light show videos still make the rounds every holiday season, often incorporating other pop culture trends.
Even if these immaculate displays end up fizzling out and going the way of sending a family newsletter or actually singing carols to your neighbors, the decade of the light show will live on for a long time in Christmas lore.
Around this time, as the end of the year draws near, you can’t help but look back and reflect.