Monday, October 1, 2018

57 million Americans have a side hustle.

Have you ever thought about starting your own small business while you still hold down a full time job?

Incredibly, 57 million Americans do this. As of last Saturday there were 327,355,053 Americans. So, roughly, 1 out of 5 Americans has a side job, which can also be called a side hustle.

to hustle = to work very hard
to hustle someone = to cheat a person out of money, to lie to a person to get money unfairly

So 'hustle' in a side hustle is used as a noun even though the word is used primarily as a verb.

Here is an interesting article about this trend in American life. What really seems to be interesting is that Americans are pursuing their side hustles primarily to make extra money, and not out of a sense of enjoyment or enrichment or passion. 

How about you? What kind of side hustle would you like to create and would it just be to make extra money?

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

a side business - to start something on the side means that you already are doing something important, but you want to create something smaller as well. So a side business is a small, extra business.

pursuing a passion - doing something because you love it or desire to do it

the plain and simple truth - the basic truth

the side gig - the side job, the side business, the side hustle; gig means job

a finding - a discovery

finances were the main driver - money was the primary motivation

escaping the rat race - in the 1960s young people in the USA coined (created) the term 'rat race'. Being a part of the rat race meant you were living like a rat in a highly competitive society, just working, working, working, competing, competing, competing and not think much about what you were doing or could be doing instead. You were racing through life like a rat, and not savoring and understanding and appreciating life like a human being. So many young people wanted to 'escape from the rat race' - they wanted to find different types of jobs or activities that would make them feel better and help them learn more or appreciate life more.

it makes sense - it can be easily understood

myriad aspects - many different parts of something

affiliate marketing - getting other people to assist you as affiliates (junior partners) and rewarding them when they make sales for your brand

would-be side hustlers - possible side hustlers

he cites - he refers to, he points to

to monetize and scale - to make money and grow

an undying passion project - a project for which your passion will be undying (your passion will not die)

a viable model - a possible model, a realistic model

one caveat - one warning. caveat comes from the Latin expression: Caveat emptor!!! = Buyer, beware!!! (This means that before you buy something you should be super careful.)

to fall into a trap - to make a common mistake, like walking into a trap that someone has set to catch an animal

a paradigm-shifting idea - an idea which changes everyone's perspective or belief about something. 

proliferation - a fast multiplication of something, when something multiplies quickly

to break new ground - to do something new

to be empowering - to make one feel stronger and more confident

a transition - a change

to be primed for something - to be ready for something

an entrepreneur - a business person

Monday, July 2, 2018

Emotional-support pets on airplanes. A good or bad idea?

From the website:

Emotional support animals are used in Animal Assisted Therapy to improve the physical, social, emotional and cognitive condition of the patient. Most emotional support animals are dogs and cats, however this therapy can also include parrots, horses, elephants, lizards, and monkeys. The DOT is currently considering the addition of pigs to the list. These pet animals are now recognized as providing a valuable service to the elderly and to others with a medical disability and have recently reached the status of Service Animals.

A "cognitive" condition means "thinking" condition. The DOT = The U.S. Department of Transportation

Basically, if I understand this correctly, people who do not like to fly and who feel anxious (worried, stressed, nervous) while flying are allowed to bring these emotional support animals onto an airplane for free. The animals make them feel more comfortable.

However, I really do not like little pets, especially those crazy little designer dogs that some people have to make them seem richer than other people...those dogs that cannot stop barking: yip yip yip yip yip! OMG!

So if someone brings one of these crazy little dogs on an airplane to make him/her feel less stress, it is going to add to my stress! Also, as you can see from the quote above, and from the article linked below, people try to bring weird (strange) pets onto airplanes. Some people try to bring snakes and spiders. Do you want to sit next to a giant hairy spider for 13 hours?

All of my students seem to think this is a terrible idea and many airlines are beginning to take measures to end this practice. Everyone seems to agree that REAL "service" animals (for people who cannot see, for example) are fine. Bring a spider on an airplane to feel safer, well, not too many people would agree with that.

What do you think? One of my students suggested that there are other ways to make people feel more comfortable on planes. Free soothing music, free movies, herbal tea - there are many other things than a big hairy spider that can make a person feel safe. How do you think this whole situation got started?

The article:


emotional support - this means when someone gets some help in regard to dealing with a painful emotion or emotions. If a friend of yours is depressed, you might try to provide emotional support by taking him/her out, making the person laugh or just by being there to listen to your friend.

vague rules - not clear rules, not well-defined rules

to cheat the system - to get around/avoid the system's rules unfairly or in a deceitful or sneaky way

to the detriment of - to the harm of; detriment is the opposite of benefit

to tighten its definition - to make its definition more exact, more precise

to exclude - to eliminate

a trade group - a organization that represents a number of companies in one industry

unscrupulous - lacking morals, not having ethics, an unscrupulous person does not care about what is right or wrong (pronounced: un SCREW pyul us)

fraudulent documentation - fraudulent means fake or not real, if a person commits an act of fraud, he makes money illegally; so fraudulent documentation means fake documents to get these animals on airplanes (I am not sure whether this is a crime - it probably should be.)

posing as - to pose as someone or something means to pretend to be someone or something

to be mauled - to be bitten badly by an animal

defecating pigs - pigs pooping on the airplane (how's that for your emotional support - fly 7 hours with pig poop)

to weed out the impostors -  an impostor is a faker or someone who is pretending to be something he/she is not. To weed someone or something out means to eliminate someone or something. Let's say you are hiring 5 people for a job and 30 people apply. You have to weed out 25 people - like pulling weeds to support the flowers. So the Department of Transportation is allowing airlines the right to refuse emotional support animals access to airplanes.

to codify regulations - to put these regulations in writing and to make sure the regulations are followed everywhere in the country

giving airlines discretion - giving airlines the ability to make their own choices based on their own judgment

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Asking questions properly in English

Lots of students have trouble asking questions in English. Here's an exercise to help you.

The most important thing to remember is that after a question word or phrase you need a VERB.

Why did he choose to take a bus to Cleveland? NOT: Why he choose....

What kind of ring did he buy? NOT: What kind of ring he buy? 

REMEMBER: you use 'does' 'did' with a verb and 'is'/'are'/'was'/'were' with an adjective.

Are you angry?  Is he smart? Was he happy to receive the gift? What is he angry about? 

I am not feeling well.

What's wrong with you? Why aren't you feeling well?

I don't want to eat that salad.

Why don't you want to eat that salad?

Joe was very angry today.

Why was Joe very angry today?

Bob won't be coming in to work today.

Why won't Bob be coming in to work today?

I need help.

How can I help you? What kind of help do you need?

I was so irritated yesterday.

Why were you so irritated yesterday?

Ralph died.

How did he die?

Did you hear about what happened in Memphis this morning?

What happened in Memphis this morning?

I hurt my elbow.

How did you hurt your elbow?

Jane went on vacation.

Where did she go on vacation? When will she be back?

My dog ran away but someone found him and brought him back.

Who found your dog?

I was late for work today.

Why were you late?

I had a strange dream last night.

What did you dream?

I became angry and tried to hit Joe in the face.

Why did you become so angry?

My brother is getting a divorce.

Why is he getting a divorce?

I'm going to move to Brooklyn soon.

When will you move to Brooklyn?

Did you hear about Bob?

What happened to Bob?

I'm so jealous of Bob.

Why are you so jealous of Bob?

I earned a lot of money last week.

How did you earn a lot of money last week?

My boss sucks!

Why does your boss suck?

I threw your pen away.

Why did you throw my pen away?

The government is corrupt.

How is the government corrupt? Why do you say that?

That company is in a new city now.

In which city are they located? Where are they now?

I had such a great time last night.

What did you do? How did you have a great time?

The restaurant we both liked moved to a new location.

Why did it move to a new location?

We need economic reform in this country.

What kind of reform do we need?

I'm sad.

Why are you sad?

I was able to fix my cell phone.

How did you fix it?

I will never fly on that airline again!

Why not? What happened on that airline?

I think that airline is racist.

Why do you say that?

That sandwich is bad for your health.

Why is it bad for my health?

Joe is sick.

What's wrong with him? Why is he sick?

I need to go back to Chicago for a few weeks.

Why do you have to do that?

I need a vacation.

Why do you need a vacation?

You should I visit Chicago.

Why should I visit Chicago?

I finally fixed my car.

What was wrong with it? How did you fix it?

I yelled at my friend.

Why did you yell at your friend?

I saw a great movie.

Why was it great? Which movie did you see?

My favorite restaurant is closing.

Why is it closing?

Don't use the number 7 subway line this weekend.

What's wrong with it?  Why not?

You should vote for a third party candidate.

Why should I vote for a third party candidate.

Joe moved.

Where did he move to?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Family-Orchestrated Suicide Bombing in Indonesia

If something is "orchestrated" by someone, it is planned and guided by someone. In this case, members of one particular family in Indonesia orchestrated three suicide bombings of churches in the city of Surabaya.

The article:

Vocabulary from the article:

a wave of blasts - a series of explosions. If the same thing happens in a series of events, you can say that a "wave" of this thing happened. Let's say that there have been a series of fires in a neighborhood, one after the other, for 5 or 6 days. The news will say: There has been a wave of fires in ____ neighborhood. A blast is an explosion.

to target something - to choose something

to claim a bombing - if there is a bombing committed by a group, often this group will contact the police or newspapers and "claim" the bombing, meaning they will admit that they did it

a network - a collection of affiliated members, a group of members

a bomb-laden car - a car loaded or filled with bombs

detonated - exploded

to foil an attack - to stop an attack, to prevent some harmful plan is to foil a plan

barbaric - not civilized

perpetrators - those who have committed crimes

terrorist cells - a terrorist cell is a small group of terrorists who work together

sustained - continuing

a de-radicalization program - this is an educational program to convince people that they do not have to be so "radical" in their attempt to change things that they think are wrong. Radical is not usually a negative term - sometimes a radical approach to a problem is necessary or a radical person can do a lot of good. Radical often means "extreme" - but according to the origin of the word, a radical is someone who wants to change things from the roots of a problem. He/she wants a real solution.

alternative incomes for released terrorists - so the government basically said to these released terrorists, "Listen, here's a nice job and some money...please choose a less violent life." Alternative means something different. So this is an income different from what a person might make from terrorism.

to invigorate something - to give something or someone new life. A person might say, "I just ran six kilometers this morning. I feel invigorated!"

loosely constituted jihadi networks - loosely constituted means not very strongly organized or put together; a jihadist is a person who claims to follow the Islamic religion and who wishes to fight and kill his religious enemies.

intolerance - not being able to accept others who are different or believe in different things.

tolerant - able to accept and live with differences

pluralistic - diverse, one place containing many different kinds of people

civilians - non-military people

to predate something - to come before something

al Qaeda linked - affiliated with al Qaeda, associated with al Qaeda (this is a terrorist group that began in Afghanistan and which was responsible for the attack against the World Trade Center in New York City)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

One way to prove climate change to Trump - a melting iceberg in his image

Donald Trump, the current president of the United States, does not believe that humanity has been harmfully affecting the Earth's climate (weather patterns).

In America, he is the type of person who is called a "climate denier". To deny something is to say that you don't believe something. 

In fact, Donald Trump has blamed the idea of global warming on China, saying that China wants the world to believe that businesses and factories are harming the earth so that United States businesses will stop producing so many goods around the world. (Virtually no intelligent people believe Trump's 'conspiracy theory' about China). 

A group in Finland is trying to raise (gather/collect) $500,000 to have an artist carve a giant image of Trump on an iceberg near the North Pole so that Trump, himself, can watch his image melt as a result of global warming.

A very creative and peaceful response to a climate denier!!!!!

Article about this situation:

Vocabulary from the article:

to carve something into something - to use a sharp object to cut into an object so as to form a new image from the original object

The Arctic - this is the very cold region to the north of Earth; the Antarctic is the area to the south. Antarctica is an actual continent. There are seven continents: Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, Antarctica and Australia. The Arctic or the North Pole is not a continent, it is just a huge area of frozen water. 

a stunt - an action done to create publicity. Publicity means attention from television news shows, newspapers, the internet, social media etc. So a stunt is something that might be done to get everybody's attention.

to spearhead something - if you spearhead something, you are the leader - you are the first to do something, just as the tip of a spear enters a target first. A spear is a long, sharp weapon that can be thrown through the air.

the initiative - an initiative is a project or an endeavor, something someone or some group is going to do to reach some kind of goal.

they have dubbed the effort - they are calling the effort; to dub something as something is to give it a name or title

Trumpmore - there is a famous mountain in America called Mount Rushmore which has the faces of four US presidents carved into it.

to ponder - to think about, to wonder about

Mr. Trump has previously whether climate change exists - this is a mistake by the editor of this article. It should be: Mr. Trump has previously questioned whether climate change exists

non-competitive - he feels that the USA and other countries are competing with each other or fighting against each other to see who can make the most products. He feels the USA is currently winning and making more products than any other country. So he believes that other countries have created the idea of global warming to try to stop US owned factories from making as many things as they are making.

in the Oval Office - the name of the office where the US president spends most of his time. It is shaped like an oval - like an egg.

to sue someone - to take someone to court to stop them from doing something or to get money from them

greenhouse gas emissions guidelines - the EPA or Environmental Protection Agency is a government agency in the USA which sets up rules or guidelines trying to limit the amount of 'greenhouse gases' that can be sent into the air by factories. Greenhouse gases are gases that get stuck in the atmosphere (the air surrounding the Earth) and cause heat from sunlight to get trapped in the atmosphere. So the guy Trump appointed to run the EPA once tried to stop the EPA from setting up rules to save the atmosphere from greenhouse gases.

poised - to be poised to do something means to be ready to do something

offshore drilling - this means drilling for oil in the oceans off the coast of the United States. This is very dangerous as accidents can happen and pollute the water. Trump believes in offshore oil drilling.

to be off limits - if something is off limits, it is prohibited, someone should not go there or do anything there

to muse about something - to think or ponder about something

prominent - if something stands out from other things, it is prominent. So the presidents on Mount Rushmore were four of the most famous presidents of that time.

a rally - a gathering of supporters where they hear speeches and feel good about an issue or person

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at Bush is running for president of Iraq

So one of my students said, "Hey, look at what he did with just his shoes! Imagine what he'll be able to do with an entire government!"

The article:

Vocabulary from the article:

flung - fling, flung, flung (to throw)

to run for office - we use the verb 'to run' if someone is trying to win a political position through the electoral system

chucked - another term for to throw is to chuck something at someone. It is more of a slang term.

launched - another term for thrown.

to brain someone - to hit someone in the head (again, this is a type of slang term)

widows - women whose husbands have died

orphans - children lacking parents (children without parents)

to be tackled - to be attacked and taken down to the ground

nimbly - skillfully

Bush cracked at the time - another verb for to 'tell' a joke is to 'crack' a joke

a ceremonial official - not much power

sovereignty - independence

the provisions of the constitution - what the constitution says should be done

alas - unfortunately 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault 14 years after it happened

Bill Cosby was one of the most famous people in the USA. He began his career as a comedian and then he began doing TV series from the late 1960s through the 90s. He then became a public figure who often made comments on the lives of African Americans in the USA. He was considered somewhat conservative and believed that African Americans had to work harder to obtain greater opportunities in the USA.

Over 50 women have come forward in the past few years claiming that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them. Many of them claim that he would put a type of drug in their drink, they would unknowingly take in the drug with the drink and Cosby would have sex with them while they were unconscious. 

Some people believe that Cosby has been sexually attacking women since the 1960s. Apparently these women were afraid to come forward and accuse him of sexual assault. They felt Cosby might sue them for this or that such an accusation would ruin their careers.

How was Cosby found guilty 14 years after he attacked a woman? Well, initially, the prosecutor (the lawyer for the state of Pennsylvania) would not allow the police to arrest Cosby. He claimed there was no proof that Cosby attacked the woman. In fact, the woman reported the attack one year after it happened.

So the woman sued Cosby. There are two types of courts in the USA: criminal and civil. If someone breaks the law and can be thrown in jail for this action, he/she goes to the criminal court system. If the issue is just about a matter of money, then the civil court system is used. Many times if you cannot get a person arrested, you can at least sue the person and you may receive money from this person as a punishment against the person. So the woman sued Cosby, claiming that he caused her a great amount of emotional stress and pain.

When someone sues someone else, both lawyers have an opportunity to ask questions of the people involved in the law suit - when you sue someone you file (submit) a law suit. This questioning occurs outside of the court room. Yet, the answers by the people are recorded by a person called a "court reporter". These people are licensed by the state and they type out the answers given to the lawyers' questions.

When Cosby had to answer questions for the victim's lawyer, he admitted that he used drugs to make women fall asleep. After Cosby made these statements, he offered $3 million to the victim to drop the law suit against him and to agree to have all the documents sealed (meaning that nobody could ever look at Cosby's answers). She took the money and agreed to drop the law suit. However, a news source in the USA demanded that the documents be unsealed in the name of justice, and a judge unsealed them. When the Pennsylvania prosecutor saw that Cosby admitted to drugging women, he arrested him. Cosby has now been found guilty of sexual assault and will probably die in prison.

An article on this topic:


conservative - old fashioned, not very open-minded, not willing to take risks or think new ideas

to sue someone - to take someone to court to try to get money from the person

a retrial - if a person is accused of a crime, he/she may choose to have a jury trial. This means that 12 people will decide whether the person is guilty or innocent. If all 12 people cannot agree, then a new jury might be selected and a new trial might happen. This is called a retrial. Cosby was tried once before and the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict (unanimous - everyone agrees).

a verdict - a decision as to whether a person is guilty or innocent. So you can have a guilty verdict or a not-guilty verdict or a verdict of a hung jury (the jury cannot unanimously decide)

3 counts - three different crimes

aggravated - means something was made worse or it was done more than once

assault - means to attack someone

indecent assault - sexual assault; indecent means dirty or of an unwanted sexual nature

TV icon - a famous person from television history; if something is iconic it is famous and easily recognizable. The Statue of Liberty is an icon of New York City. The Great Wall of China is an icon of China.

to be convicted - found guilty

haunted America - like a ghost that won't go away; if there are ghosts in your house, your house is haunted

serial sexual predator - serial: happens over and over: sexual predator: a predator is an animal that hunts for prey that can be eaten, so a sexual predator is a person who looks for people he can abuse

molested - sexually attacked

deliberations - when the jury thinks about whether a person is guilty or innocent

$1 million bail - if a person wants to stay out of jail until the end of his trial, he can hand over money to the court system. If he/she fails to show up, he/she loses all the money and the police will hunt for this person all over the country.

sentencing - when the judge determines the punishment

bail revoked...flight risk - the prosecutor wanted the bail to be given back and Cosby to be placed in jail because he thinks Cosby will try to run away or leave the country. The judge knows this is impossible, however, because Cosby is nearly blind and too famous to escape.

deadlocked - they couldn't decide on a unanimous decision

a mistrial - when a jury cannot reach a decision, it is called a mistrial

consensual - he said that he had sex with her, but that she agreed to it

asserting - strongly stating

an appeal - they will go to a higher court and a higher judge and try to get the verdict overturned

resilience - being able to tolerate a lot of stress and trouble; to be resilient

advocates - spokespeople, people who speak for others

inspiring - making others believe that they can do something difficult

exultant - extremely happy

vindicated - proven to have been right

validated - proven to have been speaking truthfully

the legacy of this case - how this case will influence other cases in the future

to feel empowered - to feel as if you can do things, that you have power and strength instead of feeling like a helpless victim

perpetrators - criminals

to mount protests - to organize and hold protests

a topless protest - women took off their shirts and bras to protest

sequestered - if a court case is really big, the judge may require that the jurors be kept in a hotel without televisions, radios or the internet. They are completely cut off from the world. This is why the judge thanked the jury so deeply - they were cut off from the world during the trial and could not even communicate with family members.

the metoo movement - the internet movement to expose powerful men who have been secretly
sexually attacking women

to creep into the courtroom - to get in without anyone noticing, to secretly get in and influence the jurors

to be politically correct - to say and do the right thing based on what you think a majority of others want you to do

biased - prejudiced against him, holding negative feelings against him because of the metoo movement and news reports about him before the jury was sequestered

to testify - to make statements in the trial

the judge put his thumb on the scale - if you are weighing something and put your thumb on the scale, you will not get an accurate weight, the weight will be higher. Some people who sell candy or other foods will put their thumbs on the scale to get more money. By saying the judge put his thumb on the scale, this person is saying the judge was trying to influence the case so that the jury would find Cosby guilty.

where there's smoke, there's fire - if you see smoke, it had to come from a fire, so if a lot of people (over 50 women) are claiming that Cosby attacked them, that's like a lot of smoke pointing to a fire - Cosby attacked them.

an alleged crime - a supposed crime, a crime that was claimed but not proved

an accuser - someone who claims someone else did something wrong

acclaimed - famous

to garner - to get

daunting - difficult

burden-of-proof - this means that a person can be found guilty ONLY if the prosecutor REALLY, TRULY proves guilt. No smoke, fire!

a felony case - a felony is a major crime, a misdemeanor is a minor crime

a statute of limitations - a law which indicates how much time can go by before a person is arrested. There is no statute of limitations for murder in the USA, so a murderer can be arrested many years after a murder

to expire - to end

Cosby was deposed - he was asked questions by the victims lawyer and his answers were recorded; the process is called a deposition

the decisive point - the most important point

quiescent - quiet

he charged Cosby - he had Cosby arrested and set for trial

to frame a celebrity - to falsely accuse a celebrity to make money

sniping at - shooting at, verbally attacking 

a caustic attack - a burning, harsh attack

a defense lawyer - a lawyer that tries to keep a person out of jail; the opposite of a prosecutor

a con artist - someone who lies or deceives to make money illegally

bashed - hit, attacked

sordid - dirty

to belie something - to prove something to be untrue

the dawning - the beginning

nobody lives in a vacuum - we are all affected by things around us

diligent - serious, conscientious, wanting to do the best job possible

credibility - believability

to be sympathetic to someone - to feel sorry for someone