The best places to live in the USA…

Whether you live in North America or are thinking of moving there, here are some handy tips on the best places to go hang your hat… (original authors unknown)

You can live in Phoenix, Arizona where…..
1. You are willing to park 3 blocks away because you found shade.
2. You’ve experienced condensation on your butt from the hot water in the toilet bowl.
3. You can drive for 4 hours in one direction and never leave town.
4. You have over 100 recipes for Mexican food.
5. You know that “dry heat” is comparable to what hits you in the face when you open your oven door.
6. The 4 seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot, and ARE YOU KIDDING ME (is this what hell is like)??!!

You can live in California where…
1. You make over $250,000 p.a. and you still can’t afford to buy a house.
2. The fastest part of your commute is going down your driveway.
3. You know how to eat an artichoke.
4. You drive your rented Mercedes to your neighborhood block party.
5. When someone asks you how far something is, you tell them how long it will take to get there rather than how many miles away it is.
6. The 4 seasons are: Fire, Flood, Mud, and Drought

You can live in New York City where…
1. You say “the city” and expect everyone to know you mean Manhattan .
2. You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Columbus Circle to Battery Park, but can’t find Wisconsin on a map.
3. You think Central Park is “nature.”
4. You believe that being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multi-lingual.
5. You’ve worn out a car horn.
6. You think eye contact is an act of aggression.

You can live in Maine where…
1. You only have four spices: salt, pepper, ketchup, and Tabasco .
2. Halloween costumes fit over parkas.
3. You have more than one recipe for moose.
4. Sexy lingerie is anything flannel with less than eight buttons.
5. The four seasons are: winter, still winter, almost winter, and construction.

You can live in the Deep South where…
1. You can rent a movie and buy bait in the same store.
2. “y’all” is singular and “all y’all” is plural.
3. “He needed killin'” is a valid defense.
4. Everyone has 2 first names: Billy Bob, Jimmy Bob, Mary Sue, Betty Jean, MARY BETH, etc.
5. There are only 7 last names.

You can live in Colorado where…
1. You carry your $3,000 mountain bike atop your $500 car.
2. You tell your husband to pick up Granola on his way home and he stops at the day care center.
3. A pass does not involve a football or dating.
4. The top of your head is bald, but you still have a pony tail.

You can live in the Midwest where…
1. You never meet any celebrities, but the mayor knows your name.
2. Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor.
3. You have had to switch from “heat” to “A/C” on the same day.
4. You end sentences with a preposition: “Where’s my coat at?”
5. When asked how your trip was to any exotic place, you say, “It was different!”

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You can live in the Pacific Northwest where…
1. You sleep with your raincoat on.
2. Mt Rainier is your ‘benchmark’ when traveling.
3. You hate Californians.
4. You develop webbing between your toes.
5. You fight a black bear for the salmon you just caught.

AND you can live in Florida where…
1. You eat dinner at 3:15 in the afternoon.
2. All purchases include a coupon of some kind — even houses and cars.
3. Everyone can recommend an excellent dermatologist.
4. Road construction never ends anywhere in the state.
5. Cars in front of you are often driven by headless people.

Still want to live in the USA? Or if you want some breathing space … come on up to Canada…!!

Wherever you live, make your writing lively!

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well
“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write
“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

 

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An American’s rant about teaching mathematics in the USA

Original author unknown, but I would love to meet him or her. In the meantime, thanks, buddy…

Last week I purchased a burger and fries at McDonalds for $3.58. The counter girl took my $4.00 and I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies. While looking at the screen on her register, I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried.

Why do I tell you this?

Simply because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s. See below:

Teaching Math In 1950
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1960
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1970
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?

Teaching Math In 1980
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math In 1990
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living?…………..Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers.)

Teaching Math In The 21st Century
(particularly in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas):
Un ranchero vende una carretera de madera para $100. El cuesto de la produccion era $80. Cuantos tortillas.

What are your experiences of teaching – or learning – math these days ?

Could your school learning (in English!) do with a tidy up?

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

“English to English: the A to Z of British-American translations”…more than 2,000 business and social terms from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

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Happy Independence Day, you young rascals…

Here in the UK there are still mixed feelings about all that tea that got thrown into Boston Harbour and your very naughty insolence when telling the Brits to F*** off. The sting is still fresh; after all, it was only 236 years ago….

However, magnanimous as the Brits are, they acknowledge that by now you folks are just about becoming civilized, so they grudgingly accept that maybe this day is something to celebrate.

And as I’m a Canuck from the frozen north, I shouldn’t really be commenting at all. But I will anyway.

Before we get into that, though…

Note, if you will, the use of “British” spellings in some places in the following  – the introduction of US spellings came later, according to my good friend Jonathon Green who wrote about this in his foreword to my latest book. This is what Jonathon had to say about the English used …

When, in 1776 the US declared its independence, the ex-colonists were still talking pretty much in the way they would have done had they or their grandparents stayed at home. But a new country requires a new language, or at least a version of an older one, and Americans were quick off the mark.

Jonathon Green

The lexicographer Noah Webster, whose great Dictionary appeared in 1828 and who in 1789 had been the first to use the phrase ‘the American language’, was determined to push the project forward. As well as collecting and explaining words, he created a whole new mode of spelling: it was not just a simplified, and what he saw as more practical  version of the UK’s notoriously problematic system, but a reflection of a new world, not to be tied to old and outmoded European habits. It is to Webster that we owe such differences as center/centre, flavor/flavour, check/cheque, the dropping of the second ‘l’ in words like ‘traveled’ and so on. On occasion his enthusiasm took him over the top, such as tung for tongue and ake for ache, and much would be dropped, but the change had come and would not go away.

Let me share with you, then, the wording of the Declaration of Independence which despite being written all those years ago, is still comprehensible as English and shows us how people in high places expressed themselves in those days.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

And my conclusions, speaking as an editor?

That old King of England sure had some issues to account for, according to this.

Somewhat frivolous use of capitalization, rather varied punctuation, intermittent but understandable use of British spellings.

An 8 out of 10, maybe?

(But never mind that it was a document that changed the world.)

(And have a great day, USA!)

Now, how to write modern declarations that make history:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

Confessions of a US airline ticket agent

I’m not sure the following are entirely genuine, or recent – I’ve seen some similar stories before. But the sad truth is they’re all entirely possible. In the version I received the people concerned were named, but being a total killjoy and not wanting to get sued, I have removed the names. Enjoy nonetheless …

I had a New Hampshire Congresswoman ask for an aisle seat in the aircraft so that her hair wouldn’t get messed up by being near the window.

I got a call from a Kansas Congressman’s staffer, who wanted to go to Cape Town. I started to explain the length of the flight and the passport information, and then he interrupted me with, ”I’m not trying to make you look stupid, but Cape Town is in Massachusetts ..”  Without trying to make him look stupid, I calmly explained, ”Cape Cod is in Massachusetts , Cape Town is in South Africa ..” His response — click..

A senior Vermont Congressman called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said he was expecting an ocean-view room. I tried to explain that’s not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. He replied, ‘Don’t lie to me! I looked on the map, and Florida is a very THIN state!!”

I got a call from a lawmaker’s wife who asked, ”Is it possible to see England from Canada?” I said, ”No.” She said, ”But they look so close on the map.”

An aide for a cabinet member once called and asked if he could rent a car in Dallas .. I pulled up the reservation and noticed he had only a 1-hour layover in Dallas … When I asked him why he wanted to rent a car, he said, ”I heard Dallas was a big airport, and we will need a car to drive between gates to save time.”

Enjoying this article? Spoil yourself with more good laughs in our humour section here

An Illinois Congresswoman called last week. She needed to know how it was possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:30 a.m., and got to Chicago at 8:33 a.m. I explained that Michigan was an hour ahead of Illinois , but she couldn’t understand the concept of time zones. Finally, I told her the plane went fast, and she bought that.

A New York lawmaker called and asked, ”Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know whose luggage belongs to whom?” I said, ‘No, why do you ask?’ He replied, ”Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said (FAT), and I’m overweight. I think that’s very rude!” After putting him on hold for a minute, while I looked into it (I was dying laughing), I came back and explained the city code for Fresno , Ca. is (FAT – Fresno Air Terminal), and the airline was just putting a destination tag on his luggage.

A Senator John Kerry aide called to inquire about a trip package to Hawaii. After going over all the cost info, she asked, ”Would it be cheaper to fly to California and then take the train to Hawaii?”

I just got off the phone with a freshman Congressman Alabama who asked, ”How do I know which plane to get on?” I asked him what exactly he meant, to which he replied, ”I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these planes have numbers on them.”

Senator (woman) called and said, ”I need to fly to Pepsi-Cola , Florida . Do I have to get on one of those little computer planes?” I asked if she meant fly to Pensacola and fly on a commuter plane. She said, ”Yeah, whatever, smarty!”

Another Senator called and had a question about the documents she needed in order to fly to China . After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded her that she needed a visa. “Oh, no I don’t. I’ve been to China many times and never had to have one of those.” I double checked and sure enough, her stay required a visa. When I told her this she said, ”Look, I’ve been to China four times and every time they have accepted my American Express!”

A New Jersey Congressman called to make reservations, ”I want to go from Chicago to Rhino, New York.” I was at a loss for words. Finally, I said, ”Are you sure that’s the name of the town?”  ‘Yes, what flights do you have?” replied the man.  After some searching, I came back with, ”I’m sorry, sir, I’ve looked up every airport code in the country and can’t find a rhino anywhere.” ”The man retorted, ”Oh, don’t be silly! Everyone knows where it is. Check your map!” So I scoured a map of the state of New York and finally offered, ”You don’t mean Buffalo , do you?” The reply? ”Whatever! I knew it was a big animal.”

Could ANYONE be this DUMB?

Now, get your writing to really take off…

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

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