Tuesday, 27 September 2011



Jensen Ackles                                                                                                                                     Jared Padalecki



This is always a fun topic and thematically universal to all cultures!  These days you probably can’t find a newspaper, magazine, TV show, or at least one movie a year that has been affected by this theme!  Harry potter, Supernatural, Twilight, Urban Legends, Sanctuary, True Blood, Horror movies involving the supernatural, the list goes on and on! The supernatural theme is universal but the magic, excitement, intrigue, unknown, and the scariness is in the details!  The details are great conversation topics whether talking about yourself, a movie, or a TV Show! And don’t forget, Halloween is this month in North America!

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki of 
the TV Show Supernatural  

Question 1: Do you believe in the supernatural?
Jensen Ackles Answer 1: I’m not easily scared and I’m rather rational, but the more I work on the series the more I’m sensitive to strange stories I hear about. I wouldn’t say I believe in ghosts, but I keep an open mind.

Question 2: Do you believe in supernatural or aliens?
Jared Padalecki Answer 2:  Yes. Personally, I’ve never had any paranormal experience or seen aliens, but the universe is big and I can’t believe we’re alone. I’m sure there are a lot of supernatural things that we have no clue about…(have no clue about = we really don’t know about)

Both Jensen and Jared express their viewpoints with casual English.  Jensen is the NO case and Jared is the YES case.  However, the language they use isn’t strong.  They are both open to other ideas.  They start with their personal feelings/thoughts ‘believe or not believe’ and then diplomatically reveal that they are open to other ideas, thoughts, or opinions.  Both emphasize that the world or universe is bigger than they are.  The speaking style has gone from a microcosm to a macrocosm. Quite smooth! Being open to other people’s ideas is a KEY to great communication! 
Speaking Style
I have simplified their speaking styles for clarity but the core of their speaking styles remains the same.

Question 1: Do you believe in the supernatural?

Answer 1: I am not __________ and I’m rather __________.  I wouldn’t say I believe in __________, but I keep an open mind.

Examples Answers:
1. I am not frightened easily and I’m rather logical. I wouldn’t say I believe in Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster, but I keep an open mind.
2. I am not really a believer and I am rather skeptical.  I wouldn’t say I believe in Aliens, but I keep an open mind.

Question 2: Do you believe in the supernatural?

Answer 2: Yes. Personally, I have never had __________, but the __________ big.  I’m sure there are a  __________ we have no clue about…

Examples Answers:
3. Yes. Personally, I have never had any ghost encounters, but the world is big.  I’m sure there are a lot of things we have no clue about…
4. Yes. Personally, I have never had a Bigfoot or Yeti encounter, but the Rocky Mountains and Himalayas are big. I am sure there are creatures we have no clue about…





SUPERNATURAL TV Trailer Season One

SUPERNATURAL ANIME (Animation ) Trailer

SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!                              

Celebrity English Language and Culture

Celebrity English
Communicating with the World


The Retail POS Industry with a Wide Range of Advancements

In the world of business, the retailing industry is certainly one of the most important platforms that make use of POS terminals. Numerous retail outlets have been set up at various corners of the world and most of them use updated POS systems that make them run their business successfully and maintain professional standards. A retail POS system usually includes an operating system like a computer along with a receipt printer, cash drawer, debit or credit card reader, a barcode scanner and many more.

With the progress of time, the retail outlets have bought newer and better technical gadgets to ensure growth and success in their businesses. There are many retail outlets that have also brought integrated credit card processing system and even signature capture devices. In fact, the typical old retail POS monitors are turning obsolete and therefore giving way to touch-screen monitors. These advanced operating systems have been designed specifically for easy use and can complete tasks much faster in comparison to old computers that took long hours.

With the rapid progress in science, even the retailing industry has initiated special softwares that can help professionals manage various customer based functions. For instance, sales, gift cards, returns, layaways, customer loyalty programs, exchanges, quantity discounts etc are some of the customer based functions handled by retail professionals. The POS software has also been designed to help people manage pre-planned promotional sales, foreign currency and also validate manufacturer’s coupons. Various payment types are also managed with the help of POS software.

The majority of the functions of POS system are also handled by back-office computers. Right from stock management to delivering of goods, the POS software manages every aspect of the retail industry. Certain POS systems have been introduced in the recent times having accounting interface.  

Monday, 26 September 2011

A Rocking Retirement comes with the Best Annuity Rate

If you have been dreaming to lead a happy retirement, you must have been subsequently doing extensive researches for quite some days. Well, if you have not been able to get the right option, annuity can certainly be one. Pensions or stocks and bonds can never assure a peaceful retirement. It’s undeniably true that a retiree needs financial stability to enjoy life till his last breath. Annuity can be a super investment tool in this context. Here the claimant provides a lump sum amount and in return gets a dividend. In order to get the right annuity scheme, it’s important to find the best annuity rates.

Fixed annuity is one of the best ways of providing stable income for retirees. Rather, this financial scheme has been specifically designed for retired individuals where they can enjoy a stable income up to 10 years. Remember, the better the annuity rate, the better the returns. For one who has never dealt with annuities before might get perplexed. Therefore, it’s advisable to talk to a financial expert prior to opting any of these polices.

Annuity rates also take into consideration the index annuity that is perfectly applicable for those who are looking to meet long-term financial targets. This in fact is the best option for all those businessmen who remain doubtful of the market risks. Even those who fear the consequences of inflation can also consider annuity to be a beneficial option.

To get the best annuity rate, you can check the rates and quotes offered by various companies. This will help you form an idea on the existing annuity rates available in the market. Make sure that the annuity provider you choose is reputed enough so that you remain miles from all possible inconveniences during your retirement era.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Will Smith: a father’s influence

Will Smith's Father
                                                                                  Will Smith

Question: Who was a big influence in your life?

Will Smith: My father. When my father got out of the Air Force, he started his own refrigeration business. I might have been 12 and my brother 9 when one day he decided he wanted a new front wall at his shop. He tore the old one down -- it was probably 16 feet high and 40 feet long. And he told us that this was going to be our gig over the summer. We were standing there thinking, there will never, ever, be a wall here again. We went brick by brick for the entire summer and into winter and then back into spring. One day there was a wall there again. I know my dad had been planning this for a long time. He said, "Now, don't you all ever tell me there's something you can't do." And he walked into the shop. The thing I connect to is: I do not have to build a perfect wall today. I just have to lay a perfect brick. Just lay one brick, dude.

Conversational Speaking Styles-Talking about an influential person in our life
Often we talk about the past with friends.  As we get closer to people, we often tell them about who influenced us in life.  Of course it can be a father, mother, aunt, uncle, manager, teacher, event in your life.  However, people quite often tell you about one of their parents. 

Will Smith, was originally a singer/rapper that created humorous songs.  He is very good at talking to people.  People love to listen to him talk.  His style is casual and he sounds very ‘down-to-earth’ (= sensible, realistic, not vain, not snooty).  Even though he is being interviewed he comes up with very ‘rich’ (=a lot of) information about himself in a short period of time.

Now how can we use this in our own lives? How can we transfer Will’s style to our own?

Speaking Style- Over View
You probably noticed that Will Smith uses past simple and past continuous verb tenses throughout his story.  There is only one perfect verb tense usage  “might have been”!  On TOEIC and TOEFL tests the past perfect is important.  Also, in school, this grammar idea is emphasized a lot. But don’t worry if you have spent hours and hours on difficult grammatical points.  Your hours of study can easily be used with British Native Speakers.  British Native Speakers use the perfect tenses more often than American Native Speakers in English Conversation. 

So when you create a story about who influenced you in life, try to use past simple and past continuous.  If your listener is British then feel free to use more of the perfect verb tenses. 

Speaking Tip!
Most people are not as good at talking as Will Smith.  So, it is a good idea to write your ideas down first.  Just like in a diary.  All you have to do is write down some key words and phrases.  Don't make the story too long or it will bore your listener.  About 6-8 sentences is enough. Will's story is a bit longer but he is a pro! Then like an actor practice telling your story. You don't have to memorize it but be comfortable with the key words and phrases!

Have a good week! And Enjoy using English at your next party or friendship encounter!

Will Smith in an early Music Video
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (Will Smith)


Celebrity English Language and Culture

Until next week! Take care!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Ways To Avoid Having To Pay More Than You Have To For College

The astronomical costs associated with earning your degree have reached unprecedented levels, and it seems to only be worsening. Graduates are leaving with more than a diploma, as skyrocketing student debt follows them as well. Due to the incredibly expensive nature of attending a higher education institution, students are turning to loans, scholarships, grants and anything else that may help lessen the financial burden that plagues nearly every student. Sometimes you just can’t avoid spending a ton of money on school, like when attending one of those fancy law schools in Boston, but you can minimize the amount you spend with these helpful tips.

A great way to save some green on a bachelor’s degree is to head to the Internet and find a reputable online undergraduate degree program. Online degree programs are increasing in popularity due to their decreased costs and increased flexibility. These online programs are incredibly popular because they lend you the flexibility and freedom to go to school around your schedule. Students who work love online programs because they can attend school and work without scheduling conflicts.

Attending an online degree program is a great way to save a lot of money because nearly all of your expenses are lessened. No longer do you have to pay money every week to fill up your car with gas to commute to your school, or pay the bus fare to get there. In addition, your food and housing costs will dramatically decrease because you have the ability to eat at home instead of out, and can live in the housing of your choosing, which can save you a lot of money. The money-saving benefits of online programs are extensive and a wise choice for anyone looking to save some cash!

While it may go without saying, the best way to save money on college is not spend it in the first place. You can do that by getting every penny the government will offer to you. Explore any benefit you may be eligible for such as veteran's education benefits, ethnicity benefits, scholastic based benefits, etc. Taking advantage of these financial programs is a surefire way to lower your expenditures and save money while earning your degree.  

The Morality of a Liberal

This past Thursday, Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize winning liberal economic columnist of the New York Times, was outraged. He was outraged because he had discovered that the U.S. was losing its moral heading.

The event that set him on the discovery was an exchange about death and freedom during the Republican presidential debate. According to Krugman:
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Representative Ron Paul what we should do if a 30-year-old man who chose not to purchase health insurance suddenly found himself in need of six months of intensive care. Mr. Paul replied, “That’s what freedom is all about — taking your own risks.” Mr. Blitzer pressed him again, asking whether “society should just let him die.”

And the crowd erupted with cheers and shouts of “Yeah!”
Krugman singled out Milton Friedman and his Free to Choose TV series for this supposed breakdown of morality and the loss of compassion in the country. (The title of his column was Free to Die. Got it?) He wrote:
The incident highlighted something that I don’t think most political commentators have fully absorbed: at this point, American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions.
How can one make this fool realize that he himself is in the “other” camp?

He blames Friedman for lowering the country's moral standards, but his own mentor at MIT, Paul Samuelson, was every bit as instrumental in emptying the mind of students of moral considerations.

As for Krugman himself, google his defense of NAFTA in the 1990s – the same NAFTA that was supposed to bring in jobs to the U.S. – and see that he can be as vicious as the most vicious Tea Party member or neocon thug.

Three years ago, I touched upon the relation between morality and economics in the The Descent of Man.

For an even deeper insight to the subject, let me quote Jean Paul Sartre from his Critique of Dialectical Reasoning.

According to Sartre, a society consciously chooses its dead, “whether it be the raft of the Medusa, an Italian city under siege, or a modern society (which, of course, discretely selects its dead by simply distributing items of expenditure in a particular way, and which, at its deepest foundation, is already in itself a choice of who is well provided for and who is to go hungry.)”

So, you see, Mr. Krugman, you do not have to wait for the next election. The selection has already been made – and made with your full and energetic participation. It is all there. It is just a matter of willingness to see.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Geir Ness: Celebrity Fragrance Designer

Gier Ness Laila
Celebrity Fragrance Designer of Laila

GEIR hails from Norway and is recreating the AMERICAN DREAM! Starting in a new country from nothing and now designing Fragrances and Cosmetics.  Success built on freedom, passion, determination, creativity, and guts!  Laila is now popular through out the United States and Europe.  Geir’s product line is now a staple of CELEBRITY SWAG, worn by an A-List HOLLYWOOD Crowd!

Alex Graham - Question: You are an international businessperson and multi-lingual.  Moreover, fluent in English, how did you learn the English language so successfully?  What learning point(s) did you find the most difficult and how did you overcome it (them)?

Geir Ness - Answer: The best way for me to learn the language was to read the newspaper and watch Television. But also we started to learn English at school in 4th grade. Even though that was only a couple of hours a week, it helped when you got out in the big world. The most difficult pronunciation point is when you have letter ‘W’ and ‘V’ for Norwegians.  In Norway, the most natural way to pronounce for example water will be with a ‘V’ and not with a ‘W’.

Alex: What did you find the most challenging about getting into the fragrance industry?

Geir:  A lot of competition and not having any money to promote the brand.  I had to use myself and build myself up as the brand.

Alex: What Hollywood stars have you met and which ones love to use/wear your products?

Geir:  I have been lucky to have met a lot of my favorite stars.  Some stars that have received my scent are Madonna, Beyonce, Halle Berry, Melanie Griffith. I also heard that Paris Hilton uses my scent even though she has her own fragrance.

Alex: Mr. Geir Ness, you donate your “time and money” to many charity groups such as: Iam4kids, which helps and promotes kids to stay in school.

Geir: Yes. I think staying in school is such an important thing and especially in today’s world.

Alex: Yes, I couldn’t agree more with you!  What else have you been up to in the charity area?

Geir: I am also involved in several cancer organizations. I have worked with Susan G Komen, and last November I ran the New York Marathon to raise money for my friend Grete Waitz. Grete is truly amazing; she has battled cancer for several years and won the New York Marathon 9 times.

 Alex: Wow! What strength! That is so inspirational!

Alex: Los Angele's Aids Ride, Norwegian Cancer Society, Chicago’s Children Medical Research Foundation, Susan G. Komen Foundation…The list is enormous!

 As a philanthropist with a ‘big heart’, please tell us what “I AM 4 KIDS” means to you?

Geir: That the children will have a future!!!!

Alex: THANK YOU for taking time out of your supremely busy schedule! 

GEIR NESS - He brings passion and charity to all his endeavors.  If you would like to know more check out the links below! To meet Geir in person, go to the Laila website for his live scheduled events! 

Nordstrom Retail Store carrying Geir’s Product line



Geir Ness and Greta Weitz

Fighting Cancer one stride and bottle at a time!




Celebrity English Language and Culture


Communicating with the World!


Twitter https://twitter.com/CelebEnglish


Sunday, 11 September 2011

Unemployment vs. Inflation: Why Do We Worry Too Much About One, Not Enough About the Other?

Something that's been kicking around my brain for a few months now:

Why do we get so bent out of shape about the threat of inflation? And why don't we get more bent out of shape about the reality of high unemployment?

I find this really, really puzzling. Inflation, it seems to me, is a bookkeeping problem. Unemployment (beyond the minimal frictional level) is a tragedy.

Thought experiment: Prices of all goods and services inflate exactly 10 percent a year, again and again, steady as clockwork. Manufacturers adjust by raising their prices 10 percent annually. Labor demands 10 percent higher wages. Savers and investors build this 10 percent inflation into their "risk-free return" expectations. Social Security checks increase 10 percent a year.

So who gets hurt? Nobody. Psychologically, you may feel dismayed that last year's $2 loaf of bread now costs $2.20, but your wages of $55,000 are $5,000 higher too.

Now try to create a similar thought experiment for 10 percent unemployment. Millions of workers in the labor force are idle. They're frustrated, angry. For every minute they lack jobs, we as a country lose part of our productive capacity. Their power to consume is weakened. They siphon resources through the social safety net, through food stamp and Medicare programs.

This is unquestionably terrible: for our economy, for our country's self-image, for social and political stability. You can't spin high unemployment in a neutral light. It's impossible.

Now, granted, I know inflation can be harmful. Runaway inflation (Zimbabwe) does have real costs. Also high inflation can inject uncertainty into economic forecasting and planning. And it often does produce classes of winners and losers.

But still: it's not net destructive, not like high unemployment. After all (from an illustrated encyclopedia of economics),
Ignoring menu and distortion costs for a moment, inflation is roughly what mathematicians call a zero sum game. For every loser during inflation (someone who must pay more for a given good), there is a winner (someone who receives a greater price for the things sold).
I dare you to find a respectable economist who maintains that high unemployment is a "zero sum game."

So one more time: Why do we care so much about inflation and so little about unemployment?

One (rather depressing) possibility -- look who's affected.

Unemployment tends to hit the more marginal members of the workforce. If they were any good, some of us think, they'd have jobs, wouldn't they? Inflation though tends to be more of a concern among savers, among those on a fixed income, among businesses (who might even like unemployment to be a bit high to keep their labor costs down). All these groups are politically strong and speak with a louder voice (and fling around more campaign cash) than those bitter, disenfranchised unemployed people.

So what do you think? How to explain our lopsided concern, especially with unemployment at 9.1 percent?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Forex Currency Pairs for the Novice

If your thinking about Forex trading, it is exciting and can be lucrative, but there are many risks as well as rewards.  Learning the exchange currency market, and gaining the experience for success is the most important factor to succeeding.  It doesn't hurt to understand that you are a beginner and taking it slow should be paramount. 

The following should help you understand pairing, with some general guidelines: 

The major currency pairs are: 
  • EUR/USD – Euro/U.S. Dollar
  • GBP/USD – British Pound / U.S. Dollar
  • USD/JPY – U.S. Dollar / Japanese Yen

These are widely known and traded currencies and provide easy liquidity, to benefit from changes in price, as well as having tight spreads.  The most volatile being the GBP/USD, which gets a higher spread quote from brokers.   

The lists to focus on, as a beginner Forex trader are: 
  • Euro (EUR)
  • US Dollar (USD
  • British Pound (GBP)
  • Swiss Franc (CHF)
  • Japanese Yen (JPY)
  • Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • Canadian Dollar (CAD)
Avoiding currencies that have high spreads (big differences in price ranges and longer price spikes) are more risky and should be avoided.  The broker can answer any questions about the spread, or information can be found on the platform itself.  

Obviously the higher the spread, the more the risk involved, and the more difficult to trade.   

Keep your trading to a minimum, in other words, don’t try to monitor or keep track of too many currencies at once.  It will allow for too much error and difficulty in managing them.    

When studying one currency pair at a time, you can learn their behaviors and begin to learn the trade more effectively.  Doing this over a period of time, understanding how the Forex trade works will give you the information you need to succeed further down the road with the more exotic pairs.  

Experts suggest sticking with the EUR/USD to begin with as this pair has the lowest spread and responds well with basic technical rules and studies.  It’s not overly volatile and can be traded safely with less risk and closer stops.   

Same with the USD/JPY, although this pair has much smoother trends and can be lucrative as well as during the trends.   

The GBP/USD likes large moves, and brings in more pips in one single move than the others, and is good for breakout trading.  But, let’s not forget the risks – they rise proportionate to profit.  It requires further away placed stops, and belongs to the volatile pairs group.   

When you pair different currencies, be sure to calculate everything individually. 

And remember, uncommon currency pairs should be avoided until further knowledge is attained, to avoid losing too much of your capital, and to learn to trade these kinds of pairs successfully.  

Monday, 5 September 2011

Natural Language from Dan Radcliffe of Harry Potter: Music

Dan Radcliffe of Harry Potter: Music
      Daniel Radcliffe          

Question: You're a major (major =big) music fan, aren't you?

Daniel Radclilffe: Huge.

Question:  Do you get to go to gigs?  (get to = able to, gigs = musical performances)

Dan: Not as much as I'd like to, but I'm seeing the Chilli Peppers (American music band) in Hyde Park. I'm going to that, very excited, because The Pixies (American music band) are supporting.

Question: So when did you come across The Pixies?

Dan: Um... I'm really ‘into’ films, obviously, as well, and I got Total Film (British Film magazine) and there was a compilation of soundtracks, and "Where is my mind?" was on there, because it's the soundtrack to Fight Club (1999 American film with Bradd Pitt and Edward Norton), and so I went out and bought Death to The Pixies: The Greatest Hits.

Speaking Style
Daniel or Dan’s speaking pattern is casual/informal for many reasons but I would like to focus on two expressions.  He uses the word Huge in his first answer and uses the word into in a slang style.    

Question: You're a major (major =big) music fan, aren't you?

Dan:  Huge

When he uses the word ‘huge’, the meaning is ‘really really big music fan’.  Also he shortens his sentence for a faster talking style. 

Longer speaking style:  “I am a 'huge' music fan.”

The shorter speaking style is used here because to a native English speaker we know there are more questions coming.  A detailed answer isn’t necessary.  Why? Because the interviewer uses a tag question: …, aren’t you?.
Now when we learn grammar this answer is not usually the best. 

Question: You're a major music fan, aren't you?
Answer:   Yes, I am/No, I am not.

This is a common drill type question used in language classes to emphasize the grammar point.  It is a bit robotic if constantly used in conversation.   

In a conversation tag questions are used like an exercise warm up or to get to know someone when talking to them for the first time. 

However, even with such a short, simple question, Dan signals he wants to continue talking about music.  The answer ‘Huge’ doesn’t follow the yes/no grammar pattern.  Instead he answers emphasizing his excitement about music.  It doesn‘t sound disjointed to a native speaker because ‘Huge’ refers to the ‘major music fan’ idea of the interviewer’s question.  Dan’s natural answer helps link the ideas.   His enthusiasm/emphasis allows me to know that this is a good topic for him.  This speaking strategy is great for creating continued conversation.

The use of ‘into’ is a casual slang style.

Dan: I'm really ‘into’ films.  (to be into something/someone=to like
                                              or love something/someone)
 Ex. Same sentence idea - Dan: I really like/love films.

 'Into' is such a common word in English but the indirect meaning sometimes tricks us.  

You can get some more ideas about how to use 'huge' and 'into' in the next part.

Try out in your daily conversation!

1.Question: You’re a major fan of rock n roll, aren’t you?
   Answer:  Huge

2.Question: Are you a huge fan of jazz?
   Answer: Absolutely, I am really  into jazz fusion. 

3. Question: Are you a major fan of baseball?
     Answer:  Huge! I have been into it since my dad took me to my 
                   first game when I was 6 years old.

More Stuff!
Click on the links below for Dan Radcliffe’s music, reading, and film interests mentioned in today's conversation points:

The Chilli Peppers (The Red Hot Chilli Peppers-RHCP) music

The Pixies music

Total Film magazine

Fight Club movie