Friday, 28 May 2010

i'm not a plastic bag

I like plastic bags, they're great to use in the rubbish bin. Besides, I tend to forget about taking any shopping bag with me, because I typically land at the grocer's or in a supermarket nearby bewteen the other items of schedule; it simply takes place when I notice that in the fridge there's nothing but the tiny lamp.

But probably this attitude results from my ignorance, and I should become a more organised and ecology-conscious shopper. Unfortunately, I hate those green bags available all around that make you look like a pensioneer. Maybe I simply haven't found the right bag yet.

And now this is the "i'm not a plastic bag" I've mentioned to you during our last class:

Friday, 21 May 2010

the script

And that's the script that I've prepared to the film from the previous entry:


With winds up to three hundred miles an hour and billion dollar pars of destruction, tornadoes are some of the least understood phenomena in nature. For years meteorologists and scientists have been trying to decipher how and when tornadoes form. That’s why electronics engineer, Tim Samaras and his team of storm chasers, hit straight for the action when everyone else is running away. Samaras travels with all sorts of low and high-tech tracking devices, whatever it gets to get closer than anyone has ever been.

In the back of Tim’s van are six 45-pound probes packed with instruments that measure barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, temperature and humidity. Any measurements these robes get from the center of the tornado will become the basis of a better understanding of how they form and how they maintain their strength.

Photo engineers at National Geographic designed a probe and stuffed full of still and video cameras with the hope it will survive the onslaught of these violent storms. If they can somehow manage to set down their probes directly into the tornado’s path, will the devices be able to record anything, or will they be smashed to smithereens?

First things first. Getting Mother Nature to cooperate.

In the spring when warm humid air rushing up form the south collides with cooler dry air, pushing down form Canada, severe storms or supercells are formed. When these masses collide, conditions are ripe for tornado formation. But scientists still are not sure exactly what in these conditions causes a tornado to form. And when you take a look, it’s obvious that although they generally form under the same conditions they come in all shapes and sizes.
More than one thousand tornadoes touch down every year in the US, the majority forming in the swath of the Central Plains, known as “Tornado Alley”.

The team pair sets out on May 3rd, towards the promising set of conditions in the Texas Panhandle*. Over the next six weeks they rack up over twenty five thousand miles, as they criss-cross the state hunting for that elusive perfect location. But when all goes well, the action is fast and furious. For Tim, he needs less than 10 seconds to flip the switch, make sure the probe is facing north and run back to the car. Then, back to waiting, hoping the tornado doesn’t swerve. For once, the storm chasers have luck on their side. They get their probes into position just minutes before the massive tornado hits.

[Samaras]:“This probe 3. You can actually tell, this side of the probe was actually the one facing the tornado, as you can see, there’s lots of debris packs where who knows what actually impacted the probe.”

With the new data form the probe, Tim made a surprising discovery. The barometric pressure inside the tornado drops further than anyone realized, helping to explain why tornadoes maintain their strength. The probe recorded images form the edge of the twister, but none form inside the tornado.

“The closer I come to that type of natural phenomens, the more you can detect them or discover them, the bigger is the fascination”. (Carsten Peter)

weather permitting

The other day we were wondering with my intermediate students why weather is such a good topic to talk about, and the answer came with a text from the coursebook. It seems that nobody may suffer from any sort of inferiority complex, as far as the "weather small talk" is concerned, because our knowledge in the field is based chiefly on experience and everybody shares some common knowledge in the area. In politics and tatstes in art people may disagree; with the weather - it is always safe to complain and always possible to find some kind of solidarity against natural misfortuness.

However, the text said something new about why weather forecasts belong to one of the most watched programms on TV. Leaving aside information, it offers you entertainment and excitement, like a good action movie, sometimes - even a thriller. Also before the potential flood.

I promised you the link to National Geographic movie about tornado hunters, so here it is.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

thank God I'm a woman

I used to think of myself as "quite a good driver". Of course, I'm careless about the car paint scratches and minor indentations; I need a kind of vehicle they drive in Paris - not an idol to worship, but a tool to move from place to place. The car I drive is four years old and red, bright red - how can you be seriously concerned about a car which looks so frivolous, flippant, almost like a joke in itself?
Maybe that's why I'm a relaxed driver, even though my experience is only 3 years of driving along the streets of Wrocław. I never care too much about parking, I can slide even into a mousehole, approaching the cars that are already there by just a few inches. I hurry up, drive past the yellow light and change the lane a couple of times. At least I used to do that till yesterday, when I crashed into another car, unable to brake on the wet cobblestone. The damage to a young boy's red audi was almost invsible, but I suppose, his car meant a lot to him, because the outrage that took place three seconds after the accident has been haunting me ever since. I'd never met anyone so furious and irrational until that very moment. There was calling the police, even though I said from the very start it was my fault and was ready to give my insurance number, my kids crying on the back seat at he fact that I'd be taken to jail, slamming the door in front of my face, and the like.
But I survived. With the help of a couple of people, who came to rescue. I'm looking at the separated spoiler of my red car. And I couldn't care less.

indentation - wgniecenie
idol - tu: bożek
flippant - niepoważny
cobblestone - kostka brukowa
outrage = anger, violence
haunt - prześladować
slam the door - trzasnąć drzwiami
and the like - i tym podobne

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

still thunderstruck, but (a)live

Second thoughts:
after all. it is a rock&roll masterpiece. The live version is just flawless - that's the quality that is typycally out of reach for the majority of the musicians. And when I look at the band's faces, I understand that you can only be good at something when you really love doing it.
Same with teaching:)

Monday, 17 May 2010

thunderstruck in the midday rain

It comes to me around noon, when I'm on my way back home, driving my car in heavy showers that are said not to stop pouring till the end of the week. In these gloomy, sleepy circumstances, I hear on the radio ("Trójka") the beginning of the song that I used to be crazy about as a teenager. It starts with that incredible guitar riff, listening to which I recall all the subsequent phrases. And I can't believe it was twenty years ago. So, I'm smiling to myself at the memory of singing the song feverishly along with the musicians, shouting it almost out together with my twin brother, jumping and all that stuff. It's not that I consider the song a masterpiece, it's not that I cherish this type of music anymore, it's just a childhood memory. So please, do forgive me.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

cinema goers 2

Unfortunaltely, the nearest DVD library went bankrupt. That's what I discover with dissapointment. I suppose it must have been a side effect of piracy and the women's magazines which enclose a dvd to every isuue.
I decide not to go to another DVD shop, with a more enterprising and energetic boss, as I imagine him to be. I suppose he might be a mafioso of some sort, as he holds a whole chain of such libraries which include a discreet room behind a drab curtain, with a large caption "for adults only". The library itself shares the room with a pawn shop, and as I resent both - pornography and money lending, I decide to wait until some idiotic women's magazine will offer "Sherlock Holmes" along with the photos of the newest hairstyle trends.

Fortunately, my friend and neighbour from the next block of flats says she's got The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (the title thought to scare off the audience, I'm afraid) right from the Town Library, and she can lend it to us for the evening. Mentally, I've been in the WW 2 since the plane crash in Smolensk, when I started reading a thick book about Katyń, so I'm glad to watch this biographical movie. I'm also glad to watch Goran Visnjic (don't ask me how to pronounce his name), an old handsome acquaintace from the ER series (Dr Kovac) and Spartacus, here playing the part of Irena's fiance of Jewish origin. Not to mention Anna Paquin - yes, the one who played the litlle girl in The Piano. She makes an outstanding Irena, someone whose inner strength just takes you aback. As a mother, I'm torn to pieces by the scenes of parent-child farewells, but on the whole, I don't think ignorance is bliss, so I keep on watching.

In short, it was a good evening. And now, good night to all.

pawn shop - lombard
ignorance is bliss - niewiedza jest błogosławieństwem

Saturday, 15 May 2010

cinema goers

Our double free cinema ticket expires in September. We've got it since the end of Novemnber, but somehow we can't get to go to the cinema. It's not that I want to complain about family life, because it offers you lots of entertainment of other sort than visiting a crowded multiplex - even if it is for free. I'm just wondering if we can make it at all in the remaining 4 months.

I and my husband, Andy, were going to see "Robin Hood" tonight. The ancient "Robin Hood" series (now a bit obsolete?) with Michael Praed and Jason Connery belonged to my first learning English materials and I get sentimental whenever I hear the name of the English hero from The Sherwood Forest. Kevin Costner as Robin Hood was far too cute and melodramatic, and Russel seems to be a really gloomy one. I also believe that would be the first time (in the last 8 years) that we'd seen a film right after its cinema release. Typically it happens only after it becomes available on dvd in libraries.

Anyway, all that would have been or would be. Our plan failed as usual. But this time, Andy simply got a fever. But wait, I think Sherlock Holmes is already on dvd...

Friday, 7 May 2010

an expert

When you go to a job interview, you typically put on a freshly laundered and ironed shirt, rehearse in front of the mirror why you are applying for the job, and on the way to the event - mumble to yourself the list of your good points, point by point. That must have been the same for Guy Goma, a business studies graduate from the Republic of Congo, who applied for an IT job at the BBC.

But instead of being invited to a conversation with the manager, he fell victim to a mistake - and was taken right from the waiting room to the television studio. For what? To participate in a live interview. Then he was introduced by the interviewer to the audiences of the tv broadcast as an expert on information technology and was asked about his opionion on the issue of free music downloads, since a court case verdict regarding that subject came out that very day.

You can see here both: the terror and confusion on Guy Goma's face, but also - the poker face of the interviewer, who thought she was talking to Guy Kewney, the British technology expert.

Don't laugh your heads off:)

lovely day

It's not merely drizzly. It's not something we call "a small portion of cabbage soup", either.

It's pouring with rain, and the sky is the colour that toilet paper used to have in the old times when goods were rationed in shops, and in order to get your toilet roll you had to queue for an hour in a crowd of people. When "they threw it" (the paper) onto the shelves, of course, which did not happen all to often.

For these dramatic weather conditions, which undermine everybody's morale and make people think of moving southward, the only solution is to organize ourselves into some sort of support group, with "non-professional and non-material help".

So, here's to you

Thursday, 6 May 2010

lovely day

It's not merely drizzly. It's not something we call "a small portion of cabbage soup", either.

It's pouring with rain, and the sky is the colour that toilet paper used to have in the old times when goods were rationed in shops, and in order to get your toilet roll you had to queue for an hour in a crowd of people. When "they threw it" (the paper) onto the shelves, of course, which did not happen all to often.

For these dramatic weather conditions, which undermine everybody's morale and make people think of moving southward, the only solution is to organize ourselves into some sort of support group, with "non-professional and non-material help".

So, here's to you: