Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Average Traveller Can Read Ten Languages

 ~ I've written before about language learning on this site, and pointed out some of the excellent free resources available online for anyone interested in learning a foreign language before they embark on international travel.

Today, I discovered the Easiest Foreign Languages site, which also provides free access to a wide range of information related to language learning. Easiest Foreign Languages, reveals that travellers have the potential to read 10 languages -- but most don’t realize it. This news is just in time for the upcoming travel season, and will enable tourists to read their way around Europe or Latin America in countries with these easiest languages.

The website has been developed to help more people begin foreign languages as easily as possible. It reveals that many foreign words are similar to English, especially in writing, and shows visitors how much they know about the ten easiest languages just because they know English. This free resource has been developed by Robert Masters, who previously served as a consultant developing Roget’s II Thesaurus.

The website explains that many foreign words are similar to English, especially in writing. So travellers can read a surprising amount in the following languages: Spanish, Italian, French, German, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and even Romanian.

Each of these European languages has over 1,000 travel words similar to English, which are easier to read and remember than 10 foreign words unrelated to English. Being able read thousands of foreign words related to English will help tourists in Europe, even if they are unable to speak much in a foreign language, nor able to understand what foreigners say.

In each language, the words similar to English can be thought of as Easiest French, Easiest Spanish, Easiest Italian, and Easiest German.

Here’s an example of Easiest French, which to my surprise, I was able to translate without too much trouble – no small feat given that my knowledge of French is minimal at best: Mon nom est Paul. J’ai réservé un appartement. Je suis allergique à la pénicilline. Informez ma famille. Où sont des toilettes accessibles aux handicaps? [Spoiler Alert: My translation of these sentences appears at the end of this entry.]

Tourists can read foreign words related to English at their own pace, unlike being forced to keep up when trying to listen to a foreigner speak.

So now travellers can get ready for several or many European languages, with words similar to English and also similar to each other's words, making it even easier. The web site makes the grand claim that “for the first time ever, it is possible to be prepared for up to 10 languages in Europe, in only a few hours.”

Travellers can discover how much they know about easiest languages just because they know English. They will recognize more foreign words than they realize. This will make it easier for them to travel in any countries where these languages are spoken.

The ten languages easiest for English are not the only the easiest languages. In most cases, whatever someone’s native language may be, there are foreign languages which have many words similar to that language. For example, there are easiest languages for each of the five Germanic languages, and also for each of the five Romance languages. Also, foreign languages exist in other families of languages that share many of the same words.

Go to Easiest Foreign Languages to find out all about the 10 easiest languages for English-speakers -- or the 5 easiest languages each for speakers of any Romance Languages or Germanic languages.

My translation of French sentences into English: My name is Paul. I have reserved an apartment. I am allergic to penicillin. Inform my family. Are the toilets handicap accessible?

The Quick and Dirty Guide to Learning Languages Fast How to Learn Any Language Spanish Language Book Revised for Kindle Edition - LEARN SPANISH in 12 DAYS - Speed Learning Course The Spanish Language Speed Learning Course Speak Spanish Confidently in 12 Days or Less!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

R.I.P Gil Scott-Heron

The inimitable Gil Scott-Heron

Incredibly sad to learn that Gil Scott-Heron passed away May 28, 2011 in a Manhattan hospital. He was just 62 year old.

I first heard Gil while travelling through France during the early 1970s. I was blessed to see him perform last year during one of New York City’s free open-air concerts that were held as part of the SummerStage series of performances.

Brief news items can be found here... and here...

Gil Scott-Heron, one of the all time greats. A true original. One whose like we may never see again.


Gil released several classic albums during a long and difficult career, but returned to form with his latest album I'm New Here released earlier this year.

I'm New HereThe Revolution Will Not Be TelevisedVery Best of
Real EyesSecretsReflections

Gil Scott-Heron was a published author and poet, and several of his books can be purchased via Amazon.Com

The Vulture The Nigger Factory Now and Then: The Poems of Gil Scott-Heron

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Good Days And Better Days

George Lesses (January 4, 1941 – May 10, 2011)

“I only have two kinds of days – good days and better days.
And today is a better day.”
~ George Lesses (January 4, 1941 – May 10, 2011)
Blog posts have been a bit thin on the ground lately. That’s because most of my waking hours have been occupied by the extended illness, and recent death of my older brother, George.

While this may serve as an obituary of sorts for George, it is pretty much impossible to do justice to his 70 years in a few paragraphs. Family man and father, basketball player, coach and mentor, cabinet maker, carpenter and craftsman, athlete, grandfather (‘pop-pop’ to some, and ‘papou’ to others), brother, and lover of life. All these and so much more, sum up the many facets that were my brother and the life he lived.

I hope every family has a man like George in their lives. George was one of the pillars of our family. A man who always made sure to include everyone in celebrations - large or small. One of his personal motto’s was: We’re not here for a long time – we’re here for a good time. To that end, he loved organising family get-togethers, at which he presided over the bar-b-que or roasting spit, and it gave him no end of pleasure to see everyone eating, drinking, laughing and enjoying each others company.

George was the eternal optimist. The saying (and song), Always look on the bright side of life, could have been written for George. More to the point, he might as well have written the phrase himself, so much did he embody its spirit. But George lived by the quote at the start of this entry, which as far as I am aware, was original to him.

The story goes that George, who was a cabinet maker and master of anything involving the use of wood, was having a tough day with a couple of hard to please clients. At one point one of the clients, apologised – sort of – and suggested they were making his day harder than it needed to be, at which George said he replied to the effect: “Not at all. I only have two kinds of days – good days and better days. And today is a better day.”

And thus the phrase has made it into our family folklore.

In 2003, I wrote Good Days, Better Days, a song which adapted and incorporated part of the phrase, which pleased George no end. The song has always been a popular crowd pleaser whenever I performed it live, which you can see me doing in the clip below. George always enjoyed the song, and he was in the audience singing along on the chorus with everyone else when the clip was filmed.

It is a small but fitting tribute to a great man whose legacy survives in his two adult children, four grandchildren (with a fifth on the way), and in far more ways than I can hope to document here.

I’ll miss you bro’. This song’s for you…

Thursday, May 5, 2011

In Review: A Walk Across America

At the ripe old age of 22, and already married at just 19 years of age, Peter Jenkins was lost. Metaphorically, at least.

Having grown up in a nice middle class family, in a nice middle class neighbourhood, and having been groomed and prepared for entry into a nice middle class college, his life seemed to be going in exactly the same direction as that of thousands of other young Americans.

As 1969’s ‘summer of love’ slowly but surely turned into the long winter of disillusionment that was the early 1970s, Peter did what many others have done before – he went looking for America.

There is a history of searching in America. Searching for new lands. Searching for wealth. Searching for minerals and resources – in particular, gold and oil. And then there is the search for Self. The search for meaning.

These themes have been at the heart of many great songs, novels and films, and no doubt will continue to be. Paul Simon’s song America, is one example. John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley, and Jack Kerouac’s classic novel of the beat generation, On The Road are two novels that examine this thesis. Numerous movies have also explored this subject matter, in particular, Easy Rider, the 1969 classic starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson, for which the tag line read: A man went looking for America – and couldn’t find it anywhere…

Ten years later, Peter Jenkins was able to write: "I started out searching for myself and my country, and found both." While Peter’s 1979 book, A Walk Across America describes that quest, his personal ‘search for meaning’ had in fact begun over five years earlier, when, on the morning of October 15, 1973, he began his walk from the small upper New York state college town of Alfred, to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he arrived 18 months later in April, 1975.

In some ways this is a frustrating book. I suspect that if it was being written today, we would learn a lot more about the background to Peter’s disillusionment with America, and the reasons for his anger and sense of alienation. Unfortunately, we learn little of the great social upheavals taking place in America during the 1960s and early 1970s: the race riots, the 1968 assassinations of Senator Robert Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the growing protests against the war in Vietnam which resulted in the deaths of four students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, and so much more.

So when Jenkins heads out on a cool autumn day towards New Orleans, his only goal appears to be to walk across the United States with the aim of deciding if he should stay and live in America, or whether he should move elsewhere.

Along the way he finds his answer.

Towards the end of the book Jenkins writes: “I had started out with a sense of bitterness about what my country appeared to be. But with every step I had learned otherwise. I had been turned on by America and its people in a thousand fantastic ways.”

His only companion for most of the journey was a huge Alaskan Malamute dog called, Cooper. Together they encounter a hermit mountain man; are run out of town in Robinsville, North Carolina, but a little further down the road they are ‘adopted’ by an African American family in Smokey Hollow, North Carolina. Due to lack of finances Jenkins had to stop and work during his long walk, and here too he encounters the ‘real’ America he is looking for. He shovels horse manure on an Alabama ranch, works for two months in a North Carolina sawmill, and spends a month or so on a hippy commune in Tennessee.

As you would expect, Peter Jenkins meets and greets (and sometimes has to run and hide from) a huge array of characters that make up 1970s America. Police officers, poor southern black families, rich southern white families, rednecks and moonshiners, Friday night boozers, and Saturday night losers, and countless strangers along the way who either threaten him, offer him food or invite him in to their homes for a night or two before continuing on his way. He even gets to meet the then Governor of Alabama, George Wallace.

But of all the experiences Peter Jenkins encounters, none are as profound as his encounters with God and religion. By his own admission, neither he or his family where regular churchgoers, but when he moves in with a poor African American family in Smokey Hollow, headed by matriarch Mary Elizabeth, his attendance at the small Mount Zion Baptist church every Sunday is non-negotiable. Here he is moved in ways he never expected. And later again, in New Orleans, his attendance at a revivalist gathering becomes life changing.

You have to admire Jenkins’ desire and determination to not just embark on a journey of this magnitude, but the fortitude and strength of character he shows – often despite great challenges – to complete it.

A Walk Across America ends with Jenkins meeting Barbara, his future wife in New Orleans.

Eventually, they would head west together, and continue the walk from Louisiana, through Texas and New Mexico, across Colorado before finally completing this monumental journey in California. Jenkins would go on to write about this part of the walk in his next book, The Walk West: A Walk Across America 2.

A Walk Across America is not a travelogue in the sense that a Bill Bryson book is. This is a journey into the self. The journey of one young man trying to find himself, and his desire to rediscover his country. During this journey, Jenkins' faith and pride in his country -- and himself -- were tested to the limit, and ultimately restored.

Peter Jenkins has written numerous books since undertaking his first walk across America. Click these links to purchase A Walk Across America , The Walk West: A Walk Across America 2, The Road Unseen, Along the Edge of America , Close Friends, and Across China . Click on the images to purchase via Amazon.Com:

A Walk Across America The Walk West: A Walk Across America 2 (Walk West) Along the Edge of America

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Road Trip Checklist

Sunrise and the open road. Does it get any better than this?
Checklist For a Road Trip - Get Ready to Hit the Road!
By Tara Waechter

Now that the spring is well underway in the northern hemisphere, and summer is just around the corner, it is time to start thinking about making the ultimate road trip. In this blog post, Tara Waechter provides some great tips to get the planning process started. Tara has also previously written about her Five Golden Rules of road tripping on this blog, and her Road Trip Planning Commandments so make sure you read that entry as well.

This checklist for a road trip will make sure that nothing important has been forgotten when you're finally ready to jump in your car or RV and go. Most people think about what they need to pack, but there's so much more you need to do when preparing for a road trip.

The items on this checklist for a road trip have been placed in the order that they need to be attended to - so don't jump ahead!
  1. Select your road trip companions first - if you're going with your family or significant other, you can jump ahead to step 2. If you're selecting friends to take on your road trip, make sure you're truly compatible. That person that's fun to hang out with in a bar or go out with for the occasional coffee may not be someone you can handle on a 24-hour basis. Add all that time together to the close proximity you'll share during the ride, and tensions may mount. How do you know that they're the right person to bring? You want someone who generally shares your interests and attitudes, who is as much like you as possible or is complimentary, and someone who rarely (if ever) ticks you off. Watch out for any annoying habits or personal grooming issues - they will really get to you on a road trip.
  2. The next item on this checklist for a road trip is to select a destination that the entire group is excited about. It's not good enough for just one person or half of your group to be enthusiastic about where you're going. A road trip is often a week or more, and part of what keeps you going every day is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: your destination. You don't want some people in your group thinking that pot of gold is really just a pot of cheap gold-painted plastic coins.
  3. Map your road trip so that your route to your destination and your return route are different. This will make both journeys more interesting and give you more opportunities to see interesting sights, stay at different hotels, and eat at different restaurants - jazzing up your road trip considerably. Plan your route to hit sights, towns, cities, and various attractions along the way. A road trip is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. If you don't care about the journey, take a plane!
  4. Make your hotel/motel or campground reservations and print out all reservation information to have on hand in case there is a mix-up. Doing this has saved me many times when mistakes were made on the hotel's end - sometimes I even got an upgrade and some complimentary wine or a fruit basket for my troubles! If I hadn't had the printed reservation, I would have had to find other accommodations (and when you're in a popular area - that can often mean no accommodations).
  5. Pack your maps, any printed directions, and any reservation confirmations in a waterproof zippered bag that you'll keep in the car for reference. The waterproof and zipper part will come in very handy when you accidentally spill that soda or there's a downpour of rain when you're carrying it to and from the car.
  6. Get your car checked out and have any necessary maintenance work done. I recommend getting an oil change unless you just got one - better safe than sorry. Check the condition of your tires and replace them if they're worn. If you don't have AAA, consider getting it for not only the benefit of roadside assistance, but also the discounts most hotels offer to AAA members.
  7. Get both a roadside emergency kit and a first aid kit and put them in your trunk. Make sure the spare tire is in good shape.
  8. Arrange for your pets and plants - either boarding the pets or having someone stop in at your home to take care of everything. Have all mail and newspapers held or have a friend or neighbor take them in daily.
  9. Even if you don't have plants or pets, ask a friendly neighbor to keep an eye on your home. Let them know the exact length of your trip and also let them know that if they see a moving van in front of your house, call the police! I've heard too many stories of neighbors seeing a moving truck or van and thinking that it had something to do with the trip their neighbors were taking.
  10. Get an extra refill of any prescriptions if possible - it's good to have more than you need in case your trip runs longer for some unforeseen reason.
  11. Check with your cell-phone provider to make sure you'll have coverage where you're going and what the roaming fees are. You might want to check if your traveling companions have different calling plans and see if they are complimentary (they have coverage where you don't and vice-versa).
  12. Get or rent a roof-top cargo carrier if your car is too small for all of your stuff.
Now that you've completed everything on this checklist for a road trip, you're ready to get packing!

Tara Waechter owns http://www.planning-fun-road-trips.com - a website that covers every aspect of road trip planning including mapping tips, packing lists, road trip games and songs, trip ideas, recipes, tools, and in-depth articles. Tools offered include a road trip budget calculator and a printable checklist of to-do's to handle before you depart on your trip. Tara has traveled extensively in the United States as well as abroad, and has learned the knowledge she passes on in her website through the "School of Hard Knocks". She is also an office manager and meeting and event planner. She resides in Cary, North Carolina with her husband, Ash. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tara_Waechter

Below you will find a selection of great books to help you plan your ultimate road trip.
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