Sunday, 26 July 2009

Words for People

I have no idea why I thought of this today. Maybe I watch too much TV. But it's really a vocabulary question - and it's a good thing tere are so many native speakers of English out there - as well as a question of respect.

And before I continue, I must point out, and I can't point out this too much - I HAVE RESPECT FOR PEOPLE NO MATTER WHERE THEY COME FROM OR WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE.
It IS a vocabulary question.

Yes, it must be TV. All those autopsies. Ducky and Bones. And Dr. Sam. And Brass or Horatio, each of them with a whole team. Post mortem. Saying: Caucasian, male yadda yadda yadda....

My skin is pale compared to many on this planet, but to be honest, I have to do some googling to find out about Caucasus and the reasons for naming us the way they do. And now I read it's the name for all lighter-skinned Europoids, no matter what exactly the skin tone is. Right. I wouldn't use it in everyday conversation but okay.

Our society here is not as multicultural as in many other parts of the world, I guess. This is changing, but still. It's not like in the US, for example, represented so well in so many series, films and sitcoms.

We have never had racism here, simply because we have never had different races. Nationalism, maybe, to some extent. Years ago, a person of another race with significantly different features would therefore be somewhat exotic more than anything. Not that people would stare or anything. But couldn't go unnoticed either. It's different these days, with all this tourist and business connections.

Here is this picture from an old (1956) Slovenian movie "The Valley of Peace" where an American pilot takes care of two kids who run away from an orphanage. There is a cute scene in it when the little girl actually licks the guy's face, thinking he might be made of chocolate.

So somewhere in the States I would face another challenge, or better said, so many of them. I guess the police and all sorts of clerks must have some special training in order not to use a wrong expression. One that is not "politically correct".

To describe a chocolate-skinned person, I would never use the N-word, no doubt about that. But what about the other expressions - "coloured" sounds ridiculous and offensive as well. And out of date, I hope. What I hear most often these days is "African American". But that doesn't sound very realistic or nice, either. My question therefore is: Does "black" sound mean of insulting? I know it's really dark brown, and sometimes not even very dark, but I'm not white either and I consider myself white. Besides, I've never heard the expression "African European" which would make just as much sense. In some cases, I mean, when we're talking about the Nth generation. And also, I never hear "European American" - and some white people definitely got there later. They do, however sometime explain about their ancestors in this or that part of Europe. (It's TV I'm talking about, mind you).

Of course, then there are the Hispanic people - is that OK? I'm not saying that it is or that it isn't - I'm actually asking. And the people from all corners of Asia and so on and so on. It never ends.

And there is the race of planet Earth. All of us. My opinion is that it makes less and less sense to put people into categories, as we travel, move and mix. Around me, I find Slovenian, Italian, German, French last names, as well as those with origin somewhere in northern and southern Europe and god knows where else, having been around too long for people to remember how they got here. So what's the point?

My question, no matter how much I have just written about it, is quite simple, really:

When we, during an English lesson, describe people and the person we are describing happens to be of another race, what are the most appropriate words to say that?

Sunday, 19 July 2009


Tons and tons of clutter. Neatly put in boxes I have to deal with now. Thank god there's no dust on them, but they just keep coming and coming. While I'm trying to put them on the floor neatly without too much space between them, so that I can still breath, they keep falling from the ceiling if not from the sky itself. Just as I think I'm doing such a great job they appear from the basement, too (have no idea how they do it) and push me up and against the ceiling so I have to start from the beginning. Why does my leg hurt? I've been sitting in a strange way, not knowing it. What's that smell? Something in the kitchen, I guess. Oops! Coming! Let me just put these four, no five boxes where they belong. What were you saying? Can't hear you, but I'll be there in a minute - these packages keep bothering me - if I go away now, god knows what will happen! When I go to bed, I can see them, flying and waiting for me to direct them and place them perfectly. Blue and yellow, purple, orange and green and mixed in such a way that there are bound to be colours together that actually don't match! Ugh! And some are of such shapes you must leave some space in between. But I'm good, I'm good, I even get points for it and a higher rank...

No more tetris today! Or this week! Or ever!

Friday, 17 July 2009


Two years ago yesterday - 16th July 2007. A funny day.

I went to my mum's and also wanted to visit an old friend of mine from high school. We were (still are that is) best friends: talked about all sorts of stuff, partied together, shared a room. She's the best.

Anyway, her oldest child is a boy, he was in the ninth grade, her daughter was in the fifth, I think, when she had another baby in May two years ago. So I wanted to visit this friend's family and its newest member and bought a small present and everything.

So we sat, we talked, we laughed, memories were flowing, my kids were there with me so we admired what time did with our children, both proud of the young people that have grown so much. The news, you know - you have to know a little what has been going on. We had some juice, she even offered some cake her mum had made for her. Yummy! In a way it is a relaxed time for a family when there's a new baby. I know, all that new rhytm and all sorts of changes, but with the maternity leave, mum at least doesn't have to worry about her job for a year. This family was building a house, but still.

Anyway, after a pleasant afternoon we took off. We are never quiet in the car. The debate went on and on about this and that and came to birthdays. I don't know why or how. I remember quite man and were not yet on half way when I came to this friend's birthday on the.. wait.. SHE'S FORTY TODAY!!!

I almost started banging my head against the dashboard and my kids were laughing: "We had her birthday cake, mum!"Oh geez, so we did! I usually remember these things - whether I see her or not - I just call her. HOW COULD I????

I tried to call her but couldn't reach her and tried again later, till we could finally speak next morning.

"I know why you're calling," she laughed. There were no words to tell her how stupid I felt. She wasn't offended. She's a true friend.

Why am I writing this today? We went to my mum's yesterday (a spur of a moment) and later visited my friend as well. I found out yesterday that they had just moved, so we went to buy a plant - a nice flower in a pot.

She showed us her house a little, her youngest is soooo cute and again, we could just talk and talk.

Most important:

When I met her, I first wished her a happy birthday and gave her the present - not for birthday, but for their new home.

But I remembered! I did! :D

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Clearing up the mess

I'm not much of a housekeeper. I lack certain skills and above everything, determination, I guess. I WILL tidy and clean this place before the summer break ends, but one thing at a time.

My computer first. :D

The computer is not very old and could work perfectly fine, but with all the things that are installed on it, I can understand it's not easy, poor guy!
So we decided to format the hard drive and install everything (NOT everything!! really) again.

Struggling through the files I feel I've been so diligent writing all sorts of stuff! I've never known how hard working I've been until I have to deal with all this mess!

And yes it was very very clever to just close documents and let Word name it Doc1 or Doc 10 - this way you are bound to know where it belongs once you have to backup everything. Saving the same thing into six or seven different folders was another very smart thing to do. Yaay me! So what I've been doing most of the day today is moving files from one folder to another. Not knowing what some of them they are, I had to open many and rename them into something that makes sense. Then I moved them. Okay, since we are making some changes in the program, class 7 isn't necessarily class 7 - maybe we will be learning the same stuff in class 6 now - or class 8. Whatever.

And how good it feels to find things you were looking for only a month or two ago and couldn't find them: a very good exercise you then had to write again (and no I have one more - yay again!) or a test you could have used with some alteration!

Some documents brought some memories back - like a folder with some pictures and facts of Russia - my son needed those in 8th grade to make a presentation. It took him ages to put it together but he adnitted he actually learned something. He was 13 (18 now).

Much of the mess is the result of having difficulties in finding things in the past - so now I had like 3 files with clipart on health issues (headache, sore throat and stuff) and another four or five on animals - simply because once I had what I needed it was still easier to find the sam thing on the internet next time then to look it up on my own computer. And then, of course, I alsao found odd things like pictures of a formula one driver or mother Theresa - in a spur of a momet I decided we could use them at school and then we never did.

The next thing that brought memories back, were lists. Lists of students I used to teach. They generated pictures in my head of studens sitting in their places and doing what they usually did: some were very quiet, some made a fuss over every little thing, some tried to provoke me as often as they could. Some were just never quiet or serious. Maybe when they were writing a test.

Enough memories now - I'll go back and tidy some more folders - like rooms in a house - it' nice to see them change into a structured database. Like when you clear the chaos by putting things in order, finding a perfectly good desk beneath them. Know the feeling?

I'll switch to the shovelling of the files here and there now. How much more??!? I can't even see the light at the end of it... geez what was I thinking?

Saturday, 11 July 2009


What is wrong with this picture?
Anything right about it at all?

Like all pictures, this one is also telling a story. It's a story of a creative, talented 18-year-old and his mum. He (not only his mum's fault, but also) is at home while most of his friends are on vacation. Nothing really bad about that. But could be better. It's also a story of a cyclist with no races to go to because his cycling club sucks. Big time! Poker is a past time for only so long, he's also not working today, so... yep - he's bored to death!

So he's trying to fix the sewing machine, has actually used it (although a piece is missing), drilling holes into a piece of wood (have no idea why, hope he does), all in all, he's making a mess in the kitchen. And when he stops, he keeps asking me what he should be doing.... He even asked me earlier today if the library was open. A bad case of boredom, I tell you.

Story of his mum, I said - well, I was the one who should have put away the dinner stuff. I'll do it right away.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Weird Humour?

I had two children ages ago (in 1988 and 1991). And for that my body had been preparing like forever: why should a girl at thirteen need painful periods and than years of inconvenient leakages in our modern way of life or any other? Why should it be necessary to complain (or better even - bare it quietly) for so many years about stomachaches on the first or second day (or both), passing out from them and then years later about the headaches a day or two before the period? Not to mention feeling extremely irritated by little tiny inconveniencies which would otherwise go by unnoticed, just because your body is getting ready for yeat another leak in a day or two?

It all reminds me of preparing dinner.
First you have to do the shopping, if you have an idea of what you want or not. Not that the rest of the family don't want anything in particular, they just don't know it until you put something else on the table. So, the annoying grocery shopping, the cooking (I so don't like that), listening to the comments of the better chefs around you (yeah, right!), solving the problems that arise now and then (burning things, putting too much salt seasoning something in a weird way), calling the people to the table, arguing about their not coming right away after all that work (am I lazy?) eating it all in like five minutes (okay, let's make it 7) and then (yes, there is a pleasant feeling in your tummy and if the rest are pleased it's even better), you can start cleaning the kitchen almost forever - because it's never too clean to clean it a little bit more. After you wash the dishes and the stove, you see the tiles got a little greasy and there is something on the floor that needs not only sweeping, but also mopping and if you're clumsy enough you can slip on that little piece of boiled potato that you dropped earlier and didn't notice and then - you spot a web in the corner. And all that just because of dinners!!!! Okay, I must admit, after that afterdinner cleaning, I sometimes (always, that is) want a cup of coffee and here we go again - washing - rinsing - drying - putting away. Or I let it wait in the sink so it gets company.

Anyway, what was God thinking when making us? Can you imagine being God? Making a man, he must have thought "Hey, that's too simple, let's add a twist or two" and then he went on: "Let's put a little baby factory in here. Won't it be amusing - this woman creature with her "want to be slim" chip in her head? She'll watch her weight before and after and yet, she'll be like a balloon at a birthday party ! LOL! Should this plant just open and close? Naah, I'll put a code in the body which will start to develop it and do so for ages and make it ready years before it's really needed and won't close for a decade or two after it becomes purposeless. Since these creatures will be walking around on two feet eventually, I must be careful that their little ones don't get hurt falling out. I'd better make this entrance into the world a bit narrower than their heads. They'll find a way. And then this baby plant will be closing like forever, causing flushes, headaches and other weird symptoms, just to make life more interesting.

A playground? Okay, I can add that. But I'll connect the two in a way that people won't like. Will that be fun or what - looking at them, trying to avoid one, but not the other! Huh! Of course, that will give this one additional headaches - either from being successful or for failing miserably. This will be a neverending life story of the mankind. And when she grows old, I'll add a change or two every now and then, always something new that she will have to figure out."

Grrr! I'm pi..d! I went to my gynecologist today and no, I'm not dying, she says (I knew that! I wasn't THAT worried), but yes, I'm getting old. She smiled, she was kidding a little, but not entirely.

I'll go now and finish cleaning the kitchen. I guess t least the dishes are dry now.

Friday, 3 July 2009

My Dear Teenager!

There have been moments when you got on my nerves, causing serious damage. Or maybe not so serious because my nerves have become tougher (much tougher) than they used to be.

It's not about the times when you did the unexpected. That shocked me, but I could live with it. To be honest, the unexpected makes our lives more interesting. More risky, maybe, but interesting as well. Isn't it just too nice to know that something bad has almost happened - bit DIDN'T?

It isn't about those small things that didn't work out as rthey were supposed to. Really, I wouldn't mind. I can forget about the unimportant and enjoy the beauty of our life together.

It is about letting me down only too often!

Why do I have to call my friends (thank God for my good friends!) to do what you were supposed to? Why do I have to live with someone so terribly unreliable?

I could deal with my other two teenagers quite well, though. Still can, but one of them is no longer that. And the way she is, I must have been doing something right. Where did I go wrong with you???

I know, I know. I should have thought things through much better than I did. Sorry. I should have thought twice (ten times!) if I really wanted you. Sorry sorry.

I should have learned my lesson when the same thing happened with your older brother. What was I thinking?

But I guess I didn't. I did it again. You must go now. No place for you here any more.

Not today maybe, but soon. Okay?

(On top of everything, you're green!)