Speaking English: In a Grand Fashion*

Speaking English: In a Grand Fashion*

As an older English-speaking “expat”, who came at a later age, I have problems speaking the local language. Like so many people, especially Americans, I have struggled to learn many new languages with limited results.  I always thought that it was just ME.

My stay in a large local city hospital was an eye-opener to the problems that even well-educated native-speakers have in conversing in English.  Here is what so many medical professionals told me. 

  • Even though they studied English for many years and mastered the intricacies of its grammar, they cannot confidently speak the language.  They are “tongue-tied” by the grammar.
  • Often, they were taught by non-native English-speakers with “unique English accents”. Therefore, they learned an English accent that is difficult for native English-speakers to understand.   And, conversely, they cannot understand native English-speakers, even those speaking with a standard American accent.
  • They just do not have the opportunity to speak frequently real, everyday English with real English-speakers, who can help build their ability to speak English naturally.
  • They have not had the best method for learning to speak.


Whatever foreign language you want to learn to speak, the best learning method seems to be:

Face to Face: We all know that conversation involves much more than speaking words.  Hand gestures, body positions and facial expressions are equally important. To best learn to really speak, you and your teacher need to see each other in a natural environment.

Total Immersion: One of the biggest problems is translating constantly from your native-tongue to the new language while trying to speak.  Your brain gets jumbled up switching between languages.  The best way to learn to speak is to be totally immersed  in the new language.

Designed for You:  We all have had problems taking classes in which we get bored with the subject or that progress at the wrong speed.   What usually happens?  You quit. The best lessons are designed for you so that you enjoy learning and stay with it.

*Speaking English: In a Grand Fashion

Learning to speak English, or any other language, in a grand fashion, doesn’t mean that you have to come to your lessons dressed in the latest style.  This “grand fashion” means that you are able to speak easily and with confidence. 

What are your experiences learning a foreign language?

Smartphone Buying: iOS or Android


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If you live in an area where the best deal is to get your smart phone through a phone-service provider such as AT&T, now called a carrier, it is recommended that your first step is to choose that wireless service provider (carrier) then select a smart phone from them.  To read the article click on the red.

However, I live most of the time in a country where the best deal is to buy an unlocked phone outright instead of from a telephone company, such as Sprint. This is my story.

  On a trip to our Main Street, I saw several smart phone stores.  Suddenly—now was the time—I almost had made the decision and had a list of what features were important to me.

With credit card in hand, into the stores, I enthusiastically went. (Excited!)

There were phones behind glass. Salesmen knew little about each model and brand and thus could not compare them.

They expected me to put down almost  $1000 without even holding the smart phone.  FORGET IT!!!

So, I went to my more reliable source of information, the Internet.

Into the search engine went  buying smart phone  

If I was going to buy the phone directly (called unlocked), I learned that my first step is to decide on which operating system (OS) I preferred.  

The two most popular OS are android (that green robot) or iOS (Apple’s iPhone).  Today, in the global market, the android OS is much more popular than the iOS. (Click on red to read  the article.)

Into the search engine went  android vs iOS 

OOOPS!!!! Now I have too much information.  Very little of which I understand.

What it all seems to boil down to.  In 2015, the iOS and the android smartphones are very much alike EXCEPT the iOS is an Apple environment; whereas, the android is a Google environment.

“Environment”  ?????

I think I understand this.  I use Google’s Gmail, chrome search engine, cloud, translator and its many other goodies, properly called apps.  This means that Google is my environment.    No wonder I sometimes have trouble with Google products on my iPad, which is part of the Apple environment.


Another big reason that androids outsell iPhones is the price.  In most cases, Apple’s iOS iPhones are more expensive than the android brands.  And yet, today, feature-by- feature and app-by-app,   there is very little difference especially for the everyday, non-tech user.

I finally buy a phone.

Remember.  My number one criteria for a new phone is ease of use. This means that I just had to find a store that not only knew the details of these phones but also would let me have some side-by-side, hands-on experience with an iPhone and my two preferred android phones, the Samsung Galaxy and the LG G3.  

I found that store.

I went into my good old, well-established computer store, BUG, to buy some ink for my printer.  And there they were  iPhones,  Samsung Galaxies and the LG G3. Plus very customer oriented salespeople, who enjoyed working with older people, and could talk non-tech.

What did I buy?

The LG G3.     Their motto: “Simple is the New Smart”  Want to learn more, chick on the red.  

Image result for lg g3 phone

I liked the size, the clarity of the print, the price, controls on the back, the reputation of the store and the distributor  and, above all else, the ease of use and flexibility of organizing.  I’m not much of a photographer but a friend, who is a prize-winning professional photographer, says he is impressed with its camera.

And so, I joined the digital lifestyle.

After a month of using it, I love my LG G3……..and so do five people who have bought it on my glowing recommendation.

Need a New Smarter Phone



I thought I had a smart phone.  Until, my old beloved Nokia went dumb.

Image result for dead old nokia phone

My gmail connection was no longer being supported by Nokia. My fingers rebelled from sending SMS messages using its unfriendly style keyboard.  Worse of all, I was having trouble seeing the text and hearing the voice.

As you know, I don’t replace aged items, such as my TV, eagerly. (Click on the red text to read my blog post about having to buy a new TV.)   However, the time definitely had come for a new, truly smarter phone.   But, which one.  (As you also know, I have trouble deciding which of anything to buy.)

Overwhelmed by all the choices, I started a list of the features that were the most important. Here they are, starting with the most important for me.

Number one was EASE of USE.  I had used my dying phone for several years. Yet,  I still was frustrated by the complexity of doing simple frequent tasks, such as turning it off and on.  The new phone had to be intuitive.

Image result for dumb phone

Next, it had to be a GOOD HANDSET. (Smart phone jargon for that thing you talk into and hear people talking to you.) The real “telephone” part!!!!  Surprisingly, this was the hardest quality for me to find information on.

I must be able to SEE OUTDOORS in BRIGHT LIGHT and  it must NOT BLACK-OUT too soon so I cannot enter the numbers.  If you have ever struggled with these problems, you know how frustrating they are.

With emails, SMS and internet, you do a lot of typing on the new smart phones. Therefore, I wanted a FULL KEYBOARD that was EASY to TYPE on even with my stubby, aged fingers.  You also do a lot of reading so I must have ADJUSTABLE TEXT SIZE.

Then, came the issue of BATTERY LIFE.   How many times have you heard, or said, “Hurry up and talk. I’m almost out of battery.”  I want longer life and ease of changing the battery. Plus, simple ways of saving battery power, such as easily turning the phone completely off and still be able to readily get messages and calls.

It would be nice to have a CAMERA that I actually, easily could learn how to use. And, when I do finally take a picture, the quality would be worth saving.  And, then I can find the pictures and actually enjoy seeing and share my pictures.

Two other items would play an important part in my decision of which smarter phone to buy, but I didn’t think of them in the beginning.

First of all, was the availability of APPS for the phone, from what company they were available and their cost.

Remember. APPS, short for applications, are types of software that let you do specific tasks, such as find your way or read a book or learn the time in another city.  You know, all the fun and necessity of a smart phone.

With my old phone and other devices, I had suffered from both lack of availability and clarity of INSTRUCTIONS. I had concluded that this was the new modern way.  You don’t read about how to do something; you just fumble around until you figure it out or give up in frustration. And, then go through the same process  a week later when you have forgotten how to do it again.

So. here is my list.  What would be important for you?

Next, posting I will show you how I used the Internet to make my “purchase decision”.

Image result for buying something

PS.  I must tell you that having to buy something new is not that bad.  That is, after I have made up my mind what to buy and actually have gone out and bought it. In the last half year, I have had to buy a new TV, stove, dishwasher and now a smart phone.  You know what?????  They are all much better than the one old ones.  That is, after I learn to use them.

“Keep Calm & Carry On”



Why is my phone so smart, when I’m so dumb!

It’s all in our attitudes.

I’m using the collective noun because we all do it. PANIC. And, no one panics better than older persons facing a problem using their computer and other devices, especially their smart phone.  I’ve had decades of experience using a computer and being on the internet. Yet, there are many times when….yes…I do PANIC.

There are plenty of other situations in which I PANIC.

Such as, last fall, I went into a PANIC when I hosted with delight my granddaughter, cooked a holiday dinner, welcomed the rest of the family, while readying my stored winter clothes, paying the bills, getting my medications in preparation to packing  for my annual month-long trip to the cold North.   Then I saw this printed on my kitchen sponge.

IT WORKS. (I only forgot my toothbrush!)

Since then, I’ve developed a new mantra, new to me, but old to history.  Keeping calm and carrying on makes life easier especially  with your computers, tablets and smart phones, You may not feel that you have control of your devices but you do have control of your attitude.





Don’t Punch Your Smartphone



I’m back.  Glad you missed me.

Here is how to get your smart phone to work “in a grand fashion”.

So many friends are now getting smart phones usually because their old phones have finally died.

At first, they are delighted to exhibit that they, too, own a new up-to-date, with-it instrument so loved by their grandchildren. Look at all the things it can do!

Except, despite getting all kinds of help from younger family, friends and even paid professionals, my friends cannot use it as a phone. Or, for that matter, they cannot use it at all.

I keep watching them very quickly jab their smart phone with one finger as if they were still dialing an old, dumb phone.  it doesn’t work that way any more.


A smart phone has a touch screen just like your tablet and possibly your new computer. This works by placing—-not punching—-your finger on the number or button that you want to work.  The new phones don’t react to the pressure of your tap, jab or punch—- but rather—- to the electrical conductivity of your finger.

Just remember to hold your finger gently and slowly on the number or “button” you want to work. When it responses, then go on to the next action you want to perform.

Don’t punch. Caress your smart phone.

Best Web Articles

 (Right click and open in a new tab.)

When I Tap on My iPad or iPhone, I Get More Frustration Than Results!  by Martin Kadansky  at kadansky.com  Good suggestions on how to increase your conductivity and making it easier to use.

How to Set Up a Smartphone for Someone Who’s Never Used One by Melanie Pinola at lifehacker.com

Do You Really Need A Smartphone? by Janice Brown at senioritycomplex.com

E-Reading from Amazon without a Kindle


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The other day, at my book club, we were talking about the problems of getting books when the weather gets bad or when we get sick for longer periods of time.  Hard to get out to the book store or the library.   Plus,  we’ve heard that many neighborhood book stores have closed.  Friends living around the globe are reporting that it is getting harder and harder to find a good selection of English books.

Next, of course, the conversation moved to the dilemma of the ebook being one of the causes and yet a solution for the situation.

Several of our members do have a Kindle. (We love our Kindle Paperwhites.)   And, are enjoying the ease of buying books from Amazon….and of reading digitally.

However, other members, who already have iPhones and iPads or Samsung phones and tablets, just do not want to buy another device.  On the other hand, they see the advantage of being able to buy ebooks from Amazon, too.

No problem.

Amazon has reading apps, free-of-charge.

There are apps for the Amazon Cloud Reader, smart phones (iPhone, iPod touch, Android …. that’s Samsung and many others, Windows and Blackberry), computers (Mac, Windows 8 and Windows 7, XP and Vista) and tablets (iPad, Android and Windows 8).

How to Download a Kindle Reading App.

1. Use the device to which you want to download the Kindle Reading App.  That means, if you want to put the app on your iPad, use your iPad to go to Amazon.  This is the absolutely most important thing to know.  How do I know—-because I tried to download a Kindle reading app for iPad by using my PC.  Doesn’t work.

2. Go to amazon.com

3. Under “Shop by Department“, put your cursor on Kindle E-readers and Books. 

4. See where it says Apps and Resources.

5. Right under this, click on Free Kindle Reader Apps.

6.  There you are.  Now click on the app that you need and follow the directions.

7. Be sure to read all of the wonderful things that you can do using the free Kindle Reading apps.


With a Kindle reading app on all your devices, you can synchronize your reading….as long as the WiFi is on when you finish reading.  It’s like having the same book on the coffee table where my iPad is, and in my purse where I have my iPhone and by my bed where I keep my Kindle.  I never have to remember my place.  Amazon does that for me!!!



Passion for Cooking Sites


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Next to figuring out marketing problems, I love to cook…or at least read cooking sites. So many of you also have this passion.  Cooking website and blogs are among the most popular sites on the Web.

The other day I was “benching”.  I love this word.  It means sitting on a bench resting while walking around town on errands.

 A friend joined me.  She is compiling individual cookbooks as gifts for her kids and grandkids.  She is using her own recipes plus finding new ones from the Web.  Now, how is that for exploring the Internet in a grand fashion!

I use cooking sites just as I use cookbooks on paper … for enjoyment and to get ideas.  And, especially, to follow the method by which a dish is prepared.  I rarely follow a recipe exactly…do you?

The Internet has thousands of cooking sites. They take many different formats. Here are a few of my best sources.

To get more information, put your mouse over the red area before the word (click), then right-click and open in a new tab.


If you are on a touch tablet or phone, just tap on the red area before the word (click).

Traditional Websites

Allrecipes.com (click)

Allrecipes.com (click) has grown into the world’s largest global social network food website since its beginning in 1997. These recipes are usually practical and easy to make. I actually cook from them.

The website now has versions for 19 different countries in that country’s language. Fortunately for English readers, the exception is  India and SW Asia, which is in English probably because these countries have many languages.  If you  become a free member, you can develop your own Recipe Box, create your shopping list and receive a number of newsletters of your choice.

Cooking with your kids and grandkids. There is a whole collection of  kid friendly recipes and procedures. On the website, click on search and type in kid friendly.

This site has lots of cooking videos, too.  I like the ones from Chef John of Food Wishes that is part of this network. He also is on YouTube.

(Click on arrow)

 This is going into my box to share with my kids.

F&W: The Dish

F&W: The Dish is the newsletter sent out several times a week by the website of the popular Food & Wine (Click) magazine. Of the many cooking newsletter, The Dish does the best job of organizing recipes by chefs into categories, presented in a slide shows with lovely pictures, brief descriptions of the dish and  easy-to-follow recipes.

Yesterday, The Dish featured Healthy Thai Food Triumphs. Here is an example.  I’m having this for lunch soon.

“Joanne Chang prepares this salad when she’s craving Chinese food but wants something light and easy. She sometimes makes it even crunchier by adding Napa cabbage, cucumbers and carrots.”  Recipe. (Click)

To subscribe, without charge, go to www.foodandwine.com (click). Look for this down a bit from the top on the right side.

At the site, click “sign up” and enter your email address.

Substitutions: As with so many food sites, finding some of the ingredients can be a problem. However, you can use the Internet to search for a substitute.  For example, for lemongrass put into your search engine: lemongrass substitute.

Joy of Baking (Click)

My favorite baking site is Joy of Baking.  (Click) Founded by Stephanie Jaworski in 1997, the site has so many recipes, many with videos, that are devised and tested by Jaworski in her own kitchen.  Each recipe includes the history of the item.    A bonus is the sections on substitutions, ingredients, glossary, conversions, weight vs volume and an extensive bibliography.

Here is “my” Pavlova recipe.

(Click on arrow)


Newspaper Food Archives

Seems like every newspaper has a food section.  You can find the food section from your favorite newspaper by doing a search. For example, new york times food 

Here are two of my favorites.

The Guardian has a section that includes 159 recipes and growing by Yotam Ottoelenghi, (Click) award-winning, Israeli-born chef, writer and owner of popular restaurants in London. 

Los Angeles Times

I find that one of the biggest problems with Internet recipes is the lack of adequate professional testing.  Not with the Los Angeles Times.  (Click) The paper has its own Test Kitchen. They claim that they test over 600 recipes a year but only 400 make it into print.

Food Blogs

A food blog is very personally focused on the author’s own activities and interests.  There are thousands and more everyday.  Many now feature healthy eating. Some of them are excellent; however, beware, I have had more failures from this category of Internet food sites.

Here are three of my favorite award-winning sites that I enjoy. I receive newsletters from all of them.

Smitten Kitchen:  Deb Perelman makes magic in her 42 square foot , 1935 style half-galley kitchen with a single counter and a tiny stove. Creative cook and photographer, Deb writes about feeding her family  and friends.  Be sure to look at the comments. She has an army of followers who offer good comments on her presented recipes.


David Lebovitz: David Lebovitz “lives the sweet life in Paris”. This award-winning USA pastry chef  and author moved to Paris in 2002.  His blog is a culinary guide, with recipes, to this city and other areas that he visits. He also gives good advice about touring in each city.  I even cook from some of the recipes, but mostly I enjoy the photos and adventures.


Simply Recipes:  This blog is just what it says …. simple, cookable home-style family recipes. It repeatedly wins the best food blog awards. Elise Bauer, a Californian living near Sacramento, began her site from her family’s recipe box. Now she develops her own recipes. If a recipe comes from another source, she tests it and acknowledges the author. “We believe in a varied, healthy diet, using real butter, real cream, eggs, lots of green vegetables, and protein from meat, fish, beans, and cheese.”

What is your favorite cooking site?

Let us know in the comment box below.

Learning about Online Learning


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For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, isn’t this weather terrible.

It may look beautiful from inside your warm home; however, it really discourages going out  routinely for classes and lectures.

No need to let you brain veg out.  The Internet offers you 1000s of courses and lectures.  The biggest problem is choosing one.

Let’s go search the web in a grand fashion.

Remember if you want to go to a mentioned site, run your mouse over the name.  If a red underline appears, click and open in a new tab.

iTunes/iTunes U

iTunes/iTunes U heralds itself as the world’s largest online catalog of free education content.  They claim that they have access to more than more than 500,000 free lectures, videos, books and other resources on what appears to be an endless variety of subjects.   Hundreds of college and universities including StanfordYaleOxford, and The Open University, and distinguished institutions such as MoMA, the New York Public Library, and the Royal Opera House.

Right now I’m studying  on my iPad…….

“Jerusalem: The Holy City” Lecturer. Dr. Robert Cargill at UCLA

“Science and Cooking” Harvard. Harvard Researchers and World Class Chefs

You don’t have to have an iPad to learn from iTuneU.  You can use it on your Windows computer and other devices using an Android operation system.

The downloading of an iTuneU app is required. To find the appropriate app search: 

iTunes u app for …..

Fill in whichever is your operating system: mac, android or windows.


YouTube has much more than videos that go viral.  Its education content includes 1000s  of high quality videos for students from tots to our age. For us, there are videos of everything from academic lectures including top universities from around the world to speeches by individuals who are “global thought leaders”.

Being a geek, I had lots of mathematics courses but nothing about the history of mathematics.  Right now, I’m “going” to Gersham College in London, founded in 1597, to “Shaping Modern Mathematics: The 19th Century”.

On the other end of the spectrum are the short, entertaining lectures about an almost unending number of topics such as science, technology, psychology and even gaming. This popular channel, called Vsauce, is created by Internet personality Michael Stevens.  

Here is one of my favorites.

Other Learning Sites

In its grand fashion, the Internet is rich with learning opportunities.  Here are some more sources.

BBC Learning   The BBC offer learning on most any topic you choose.  They not only offer information from their own organization but also provide links to other online courses.  The quality is superb.  For example, take a look at its leaning languages, quickly.

Ted Talks  “Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world” Over 1400 relatively short videos from some of the most engaging speakers around the world on an endless variety topics, especially technology, entertainment and design (TED). You are urged to share these talks with your friends.  Here is one of my favorites: “Colin Powell: Kids need structure”.


So if you are suffering from a lingering head cold —- as I am and so many of my friends are — forget that  it is frigid and icy outside and you are bored.  Snuggle up with your iPad and watch a lecture of your choice.

What online courses and lectures have you enjoyed?  Just let us know in this comment box.

In love with the fashion, finally, again.



When I first starting writing this blog about a year and a half ago, I emoted  about how really weird fashion had become for both men and women.  Then, about a year ago, I remarked that fashion was making progress by moving away from the absurd.

I’m delight to announce that I’m in love with the current fashion for the whole family, finally, again.


And, why not?  Look at these clean, classical lines of this trench-coat shown recently in the New York Times.

Red Leather Trench-coat. Right out of my 1960s closet.

Remember, if you want to go to one of the sites that are in red, just put your cursor over the red, click and open a new tab.


My favorite men’s fashion blog, Grey Fox, recently featured the Best of Britain 2014 fashion. Here, he looks at Marks and Spencer collection. These styles are appropriate for men of all ages. Look at those wingtip shoes.

M&S. 2014

And, Even Children

Dashin Fashion, the online designer kids fashion news magazine, is featuring the return to style in children’s fashion. You can shop for these fashions from the site.

What could be more classical than this tuxedo-styled romper  and “that little black dress with pearls” (painted on, of course).

The Tiny Universe. 2013 Holiday Party Wear.

Dashin Fashion reports that designers, like Oscar de la Renta, are creating styles for Mommy and Daughter, which they call “Mini Me”.

For Mom, remember the shirtwaist dress with a wide belt.  Here it is again….with such style.

Oscar de la Renta. Fall 2013

And now for the mini.  I cannot remember what this style is called except that my daughter had a dress with the same lines.  It was pink with a white Peter Pan collar.  Notice that the fabric is just like one of the panels of Mom’s dress.

Oscar de la Renta. Fall 2013

Think. Don’t Panic over Your Electronics.


My friends may believe that I’m knowledgeable of my various electronic gadgets, such as my mobile phone. But, every time something goes wrong, I PANIC.

I wouldn’t bother you with this story if I hadn’t PANICKED two other times over my mobile phone not working and dashed off to the tech office without thinking.

Well, more than twice.

This time, I had my phone on the charger. For some reason, I could not call out nor could a receive incoming calls. From my land-line phone, I telephoned the help desk of my mobile provider service.

Isn’t this neat! The ‘voice’ said, “Just hit #1 and we will call me back within ten minutes.”  Only, after thirty minutes, I got tired of waiting.

I should be able to figure this out.

In the past, the problem often was a loose SIM card.   I opened the back. Yes. Reconnected the SIM card.  Suddenly, the battery fell out.  PANIC. I  put it back in.

The phone was black. I went through the two steps to turn it on that I do so many times a day.  – then *   Black.  Still black, regardless of what I click on.

PANIC.   The problem must be the battery, right.

Just then, the land phone rang.  Finally, the help service.  They agreed it had to be the battery…just as I had told them was wrong.  I must go to the technical help office.

How can I go out without a working mobile phone.  (Forgetting that most of my life I managed without a mobile phone.) Even more PANIC.

I didn’t wait to think.

Instead, in my panic, I rushed to the shopping mall office. Waited and waited.  Finally, my turn.  I hope I don’t have to buy a new phone.

The tech opened the back of the phone. SIM card, right. Battery, right.

No problem.

I had NOT  turned on the phone’s power button to connect to my telephone service.

I forgot that almost all of the time my mobile phone power is on.  When I use the phone all I do is wake it up(- then *)  When I removed the battery, I disconnected the power.  Of course!!!!

I hope I  learned my lesson.  

I need to read the instructions especially when I am having a problem.   Most mobile phone instructions are on the Internet.

Read and Understand the instructions.

I need to look for this sign on the phone, often in red and very small, too. And remember to hold it down rather than just touch it.

Power Button Sign

I need to remember that on some of my electronic gadgets the power button is hidden on the side with no symbol identifying it.

I need to vow to Think before Panicking.