Learning Another Language’s Culture

Cultural diversity training is a commonly requested topic, but not often sought after by someone simply learning a new language. However, training in the culture in which you are learning a language can be crucial to truly understanding the language itself. This is especially true if you are intending on translation as a form of employment or public service.

Cultural Taboos

Each culture, even in the most “advanced” countries, have certain taboos. While most of the leading nations attempt to eradicate taboos, sometimes they simply cannot be avoided. As you learn the language of a certain country or culture, learn about their customs, religions, and taboos, as well.

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For example, in certain parts of the Middle East, a woman must keep her head covered at all times. This may be as simple as wearing a scarf in public. However, in other countries in the Middle East, women must cover every inch of their bodies. You also should not ever offer to shake hands with a member of the opposite sex if you are in the Middle East. Women should also walk behind the man who is accompanying them. By understanding these customs, you will be able to understand the language better because of references that are made throughout a conversation. It will also help you if you are translating this is one purpose for cultural diversity training.

“Turns of Phrase”

Regional speech patterns can create “turns of phrase” can wreak havoc with communication, especially with the person for whom the language is not a first language. For example, in the USA, one foreign car executive had its car company name its small, economical car the “Probe”. This was seen by women in the U.S. as obscene, and the car was a very poor seller, considering that it was intended for the female market.

Traveling Abroad

Some people are so enamored of a country that they learn the language just so they can travel there. The dream is to spend time with the natives, absorbing the culture, food, and scenery for weeks at a time. However, without an understanding of the culture itself, you can make your trip more difficult. You can inadvertently offend an innkeeper, and find yourself with no reservation. You may find yourself dropped off by the cabbie before you reach your destination.

Even the volume at which you speak may be offensive in some cultures. Americans are often accused of being very loud in their speech. Study the customs of the different areas you plan to visit. While some cultures are naturally loud and boisterous, then a big-voiced American may get along just fine. However, find out what the culture prefers, and try to fit in. Simply the volume of your voice can make a difference in how you get along in a culture.

Proximity, or personal space, varies from country to country, too. Some people feel offended if you are too close, while others feel snubbed if you are not close enough.

Learning another language’s culture can make your holiday more enjoyable, and may make your efforts to serve as a translator more useful and profitable.

Maintaining Your Property: Companies You Should Know About

A lawn treatment company, a painting contractor, a roofing company, all different kinds of companies may be useful in maintaining your property while you are absent. Rental property and seasonal holiday property requires care whether it is being used or not. Here are some suggestions for maintaining your property, and companies you should know about.

Lawn Treatment Company

You can hire a lawn treatment company to take care of your lawn, garden, shrubbery, and trees. Caring for the lawn may require more than simply having the lawn mown. It may need watering, as well, and will certainly need weed and pest control. A good lawn treatment company will put your property on their schedule for maintenance so that you do not have to worry about keeping up with seasonal treatments.

The company will also take care of shrubbery and hedges, and make sure they are trimmed properly so that they do no encroach on the neighbor’s garden or in public access areas such as the sidewalk.

Trees also require attention to keep parasites from weakening the wood. Most lawn companies have a specialist who will keep an eye on your trees, keeping them trimmed out of power lines and neighbors’ properties, if necessary.

Roofing Contractors

You can actually get on the schedule of a trustworthy roofing contractor for the maintenance of your rental property. This can extend the life of your roof by several years.

The roofing contractor will come inspect your roof about once a year, or after severe storms. He will also make sure the gutters and scuppers are free of debris so that water will not back up and cause damage to the soffits. The troughs between eaves can also accumulate debris, which can cause moisture to soak into the roof deck, compromising the integrity of your roof. A roofing contractor will make sure those areas are cleaned out, and will inspect for any damage that may have been caused by weather or wild animals. Raccoons, opossum, and squirrels will take advantage of the smallest void in the roofing materials, and burrow into your roof, nesting in your attic.

Property Maintenance

Some companies specialize in property maintenance. Their employees will routinely inspect property contracted to them, reporting any plumbing leaks, electrical problems, or other maintenance work that needs to be done. If you have already contracted with a lawn maintenance company to take care of the growing garden around your property, you may be able to hire a property maintenance company at a reduced rate to take care of the rest of the property.

In many cases, the maintenance company does its own repairs, with plumbers, painters, electricians, and roofers on staff. Other companies will subcontract the work necessary. It will be important to hire a maintenance company that you trust, so that the money is actually spent on your property, and the work is actually done.

Get references, and go inspect the gardens being maintained by a lawn maintenance company, or any property maintenance company.

Best Places To Hang Your Clothes Drying Rack

The invention of the automatic clothes dryer revolutionized the workday chore of drying clothes. However, having a clothes drying rack is still the chosen method for drying some items. The old-fashioned clothes line outdoors may not be as common as it once was, but the drying rack is quite common. But, where should you hang your clothes drying rack?

Why a Drying Rack?

Many fine washables cannot survive going through a dryer. The higher, steady heat will shrink many materials, ruining the garment. Other items may lose their texture in the dryer. Other items, such as scarves or hosiery, will become tangled in the dryer. In these cases, the items may even be washed by hand, and draped to dry.

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The most obvious place to hang your clothes drying rack is the laundry room. This is because it will be close to the washing machine, and, of course, it’s where you have all of the laundry. There are several ways to hang your drying rack.

In some cases, you will have a drying rack that unfolds like a luggage rack and sits on the floor. Fine washables can be draped across the rack. The open structure allows moisture to evaporate. The rack can be folded and set aside when it is not in use.

Other drying racks can be attached to the wall, and lowered for use. These are often fixed racks, but may also be extendable racks. Either way, they can be tilted back into their place on the wall when not being used. Accordion racks are also usually mounted on the wall, and fold back into place once they are empty.

Some drying racks are actually suspended from the ceiling. Located just above head-height, they are easy to reach for use, but stay out of the way when not in use.

Outdoor Racks

There are also drying racks that can be set up outside. Of course, any free-standing drying rack that you would have in the laundry room can also be placed outdoors. But, there are also clothesline drying racks shaped somewhat like an inverted umbrella. In fact, they are on a pole that can be placed in an umbrella base. The drying rack can be set up when you need it, and folded away when not in use.

This clothesline type rack is also portable while outdoors, so you can either have your items drying in the shade with a breeze blowing across them, or you can hang them in the sunshine. Many people, to this day, enjoy hanging their white items in the sun. It helps the bleach them out, and the fresh air makes the laundry smell wonderful.

Drying racks can make your clothing last much longer, and actually reduce wrinkling. Without being tossed about with heavier fabrics, the finer and more light-weight fabrics will dry without having wrinkles set in. Where you put the drying racks is up to you, but generally, you will want to keep it close to the laundry room, and out of the way.

 

Giving Your Home A Rustic And Homey Feeling

Do you feel like your home is lacking something? Many people wonder how they can make their house feel like a home without cluttering it with all kinds of stuff. There are, actually, several things you can do to make your home feel homey and rustic, without adding clutter or even spending a lot of money.

Dressers

That’s right – dressers. These handy little pieces of furniture can serve as everything from entertainment centers to dining buffets to – well – dressers.

Otherwise known as a “chest of drawers” these furniture items lend a sense of belonging to any space. Place one in your entryway, with a lovely bowl or basket atop to receive mail or car keys, and you automatically have welcomed people into your home without saying a word. Not to mention the great storage you have with all of those drawers! Some people will use a dresser behind a sofa as storage and to display candelabras and family photos. Step outside of the box, and think of unique ways to use your dresser, and you will agree that it is a great way to make your home feel homey.

Area Rugs

A rug can knit spaces together. Even if your house is completely carpeted, you can still use a rug to anchor the furniture in the sitting area. For large spaces, the area rug will pull furniture in, giving a sense of intimacy. For small spaces, the area rug will provide a “reason” for being so close together. Rugs just make people feel at home, and can add a rustic touch if you choose the texture and color correct.

Lighting

Lighting is crucial to making a home feel homey. The harsh glare from overhead can lights can make an area feel industrial, and you will have a hard time relaxing. Look for pole lamps, table lamps, and uplights will bring a cozy ambiance to any room. Uplights are can lights that actually sit on the floor beneath plants or draperies, casting a glow upwards. This can brighten up dark corners. Add picture lights to paintings hanging on the wall. Often, you can run a discreet extension cord with an automatic switch, and turn all of the lights on with one switch. While incandescent lights may not be available in your area, you can find “warm” toned bulbs for most fixtures.

Decorations

Decorations are often a cause of despair among people trying to decorate their homes. How much is too much? What constitutes a decoration vs. clutter?

To answer those questions, think about anything you look at that makes you happy. This can be a decoration in your home. Think of grouping objects that are similar. For example, photographs look better when they are hung near each other on the wall, or grouped on a shelf. When they are scattered around the room, they get lost and look like clutter. To reduce the random look, frame your pictures in similar frames, such as all silver, or all wood.

With a few details, you can turn your house into a home.

 

Work Off Those Calories With Exercise

As winter approaches – sometimes aggressively – we begin to wonder how we can burn off those extra calories. You would think that just staying warm would burn enough calories, but no, it never works that way. For many, personal training is the answer to motivation and variety. Here are some pointers for burning off calories and for exercising during the winter.

Running

Runners seem to be able to run no matter what the season. If you are a runner, congratulations. You can usually maintain your pace regardless of wind and weather. Sometimes, taking your running to an indoor track will make a big difference. This is when gym membership may come in handy, because they often have a track. You can also keep up this form of exercise with a high quality treadmill. The reason I say high quality is that many treadmills are not designed for runners. They are designed for walking, and have a particleboard deck. They also may not have the horsepower to keep up with a runner. Finally, the length of the tread on the treadmill should be sufficient for a jogger. Your running step is much longer than your walking step, and a short deck on a treadmill will change your running stride, causing problems.

Yoga

Yoga has emerged as one of the safest and most efficient forms of inside exercise. It does not require any equipment, unless you consider a mat to be equipment. People of all ages and physical fitness levels can participate in some level of yoga. It increases muscle tone and improves balance. It is good for your circulation, too, often helping to purge the body of impurities. The meditative aspect of yoga is also beneficial to helping people to lower stress levels, improving their overall health.

Cycling

Cycling is another activity that can be maintained through every season. You may enjoy cycling throughout the beautiful countryside, but sometimes, weather just does not cooperate. Gyms have cycling and spinning classes that can give you a thorough workout, working muscles you forgot you have.

Personal Training

Many people will hire a personal trainer to get their exercise levels up. This is a great way to burn calories, just because of the variety to your workout. Many people have turned to online personal trainers so that they can keep up with their personal training routines no matter where they are. A personal trainer will keep you motivated when you are too sore, too tired, or too apathetic to do it on your own. You have someone who is being paid to keep track of your exercise regimen, and he or she will take that seriously. Your personal trainer is also very inventive in ways to keep you working out. This can devious, at times, but never boring. With some inventiveness and a lot of determination, you can make sure that you get plenty of exercise. You can burn off calories and stay in shape, and feel good year round.

Being Social With The Neighbours

I was just reading a story today about one of the best gardens in Yorkshire and a bit of a social problem with the neighbours.

Tucked away in Yorkshire is a lovely garden, with metal garden planters, beautifully maintained trees, and a little gardener who is about to be sentenced to jail.

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Danuta Cross, aged 64, is a past winner of the South Cave Gardening Competition. Her problems arose, she says, when her neighbors, Alexandra Smith aged 65 and David Mayhill aged 59, started stalking her as she gardened. She says that every time she goes out in her garden, they follow her around.

This constant scrutiny has been ongoing for a number of months, and police say they have not been able to collect any evidence. However, Cross said that at one point she was so “upset and shaken” that she began yelling at her neighbors. Mayhill and Smith then pressed charges for harassment.

Neighbors say that there has been an ongoing competition between the two houses to see how could have the most beautiful garden. This, however, has reached a point in which Cross says she wants to sell her house and move to get away from her neighbors’ scrutiny. She does not feel safe, and says she is not typically that angry.

Cross will be sentenced for harassment on October 29.

So let that be a lesson to you, be nice to your neighbours!

Exercise Can Make You Healthier And Happier

It probably comes as no surprise to you that exercise can make you healthier and happier. Anyone who has exercised has reaped the benefits of being in shape. But, do you know just how much good exercise will do for you?

Losing weight and happiness

Blood Vessels

Ok, this is just gross, but did you know that for every ½ kilo of weight you gain, your body grows over 11,000 metres of new blood vessels? When you think about how hard your heart has to pump to propel blood through all of those vessels, it is no wonder that heart disease is so prevalent. However, by working out for 15 minutes, three times a day, you can not only lose weight, you can improve your circulation and strengthen your cardio-pulmonary system. The body reabsorbs all of those blood vessels as you lose weight, giving your body a break.

Endorphins

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Endorphins are the chemicals that your brain releases when stimulated in a certain way. These endorphins actually make you feel good. The “extreme” benefit of endorphins is the legendary “runner’s high”, but you do not have to be a runner to trigger endorphins.

Endorphins actually reduce your perception of pain. People with chronic pain often find that moderate exercise reduces the sensation of pain. This is partly because the chemicals of the endorphins bond to the same neurotransmitters that normally bond to pain killers. So, you get the pain killers, without the artificial drugs.

Motivation and Energy

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Many people find that they feel so much better once they start exercising, that they get motivated to fix other things in their lives. The increased circulation that you get with exercise, along with the fact that your body purges itself of toxins, builds your energy level. Many people finally have the energy to take on new projects, or to simply keep up with the ones that have overwhelmed in the past.

Health Benefits

There are other kinds of health benefits to exercise. Moderate exercise will actually lower your cholesterol and stabilize type 2 diabetes.

Scheduling

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When a person starts exercising regularly, it usually means a change in their scheduling priorities. This is often the weak spot in any workout routine, as our busy lives often crowd out things we do that benefit only ourselves. However, when you stick to a schedule, and make your routine something that is flexible, you will find that your life actually becomes more organized. Looming deadlines take on a new significance when you make a priority of meeting your workout commitment. There is an old saying that housework will expand to fill the time allowed for it. Paperwork is the same. And, board meetings operate by the same time-sucking natural law. However, you can stay on task and finish up much more efficiently when you stick to your exercise regimen. Even personal training can be compressed around a schedule, Online Trainers have the ability to be at your fingertips at any time of day, so you can work around things easily.

The benefits of exercise are almost immeasurable. You become physically stronger, emotionally more stable, and your life can become more organized simply because you have decided to get in shape.

Dogs And Cats Living Harmoniously

You know, there’s real truth behind the saying “fighting like cats and dogs”. It’s because these two animals don’t usually get along. However, there are some things you can do to ensure harmonious living between your cats and dogs.

Raise Them Together

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If you have the option, raise your kittens and puppies together. When we moved to a farm, I was 10. Dad brought home a black and white puppy (a border collie) and a black and white kitten. The two were best buds their whole lives. We still tell stories about these two and their antics. When you rase the two together, they learn each other’s body language early on. This enables both the dog and the cat to recognize when they have pushed the other too far. Plus, they really learn to like each other.

Choose Breeds Wisely

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Almost all cats are predatory. They have a very strong prey drive – that’s why they pounce on anything that moves. Some really sweet cats learn to play without using their claws, but if they haven’t been raised that way, they will use their claws to grab on. It is the act of pulling away that causes claw marks.

Some dogs are nurturing, and some are prey driven. We have two Alaskan Malamutes. This breed was developed to hunt for its own food in the harsh environs of Alaska, eating anything that moves. This does not mix well with our Tabby cat. We NEVER leave our Mals alone with the cat, because even though she has her claws, our dogs have demonstrated that they can work as a team, with one distracting while the other goes in for the kill. That’s how they get the opossum and raccoons that wander into our yard.

We also have a collie – the kind that looks like Lassie. This is a very nurturing dog, who is protective of his lambs. His lambs are anything in his house and yard, including the cat. The drawback to this is that the collie wants to play chase with the cat, which triggers the prey drive in our Mals.

Introduce Calmly

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If yours is to be a “blended family” of pets, with rescued animals or pets that belong to your new spouse or stepchildren, you can take precautions to ease the introduction. First of all, try to introduce the animals in a neutral environment. Cats and dogs both can be very territorial, and if you bring a strange animal into your home, the pet that already lives there might react differently than he would in a neutral area.

Also, try to introduce the animals at eye level. If there is any aggression or fear, remove both animals for a few minutes and try again. Keep this up until they are bored with the activity, and ignore the other animal.

Always Supervise

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Allowing your cat to “teach the dog a lesson” can result in a blind dog and expensive vet bills. By the same token, you don’t want to end up with a dead cat. Always supervise their interactions.

Keep Your Garden Picturesque

Keeping your garden picturesque can be a lot of work, but the payoff is worth is. Gardeners take hope in the beautiful blooms, healthy shrubbery, and velvet grasses that make up their gardens. And, whether you do all the work yourself or hire some of it done, the reward is a beautiful garden and a healthier planet.

Winterizing

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Now is the time to winterize your lawn. Most lawn services will winterize it, if you do not know what to do. Basically, you put down a fertilizer that will boost the roots and make them stronger so that they can survive freezes and slow snow melt. You don’t want to mow it down at this stage, because the grass will hold snow in place and allow it to melt, rather than blow away or run off.

Pruning

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This is also the time to consider pruning your trees and shrubs. For deciduous trees, wait until the sap has retreated to the roots. This will keep the tree from being weakened. Once the trees have lost their leaves, you can see the branching patterns better. It is easier to identify branches that are rubbing against each other and remove them, and thin out the canopy.

Most shrubs that are evergreen do not need pruning. They will have colorful berries this time of year. However, once the berries have all been eaten by neighborhood birds and squirrels, you may want to trim them back to the size you want. The spring growth spurt will make up for any over-pruning you do.

Some shrubs, such as roses, do much better if you trim them back. Find out the specifics for your type of roses. By cutting them back, they will have much more vigorous growth in the spring, with larger, healthier blooms.

Mulching

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Now is also the best time to mulch your flower beds and tree bases. Make sure that the mulch does not pile up on the trunks of trees, as this can strangle the tree and rob it of oxygen. Many homeowners rake up the leaves from the lawn and use them as mulch. The problem with this is that, as the leaves decompose, they can leach nutrients from the soil. It is better to compost leaves and let them decompose to the point where they begin to put nutrients into the soil, rather than leach them out. Other gardeners prefer commercially processed mulch. The mulch not only protects the roots from all but the coldest of temperatures, it holds in moisture, chokes out weeds, and looks really nice in the winter landscape.

Planters

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The winter landscape can be rather bleak. But, you can brighten up the garden with well-placed ceramic plant pots and flower planters with colourful winter plants. Holly bushes covered with red berries, cabbage and kale with pretty blues and greens, Nandina shrubs with their varied colours of foliage and bright crimson berries, and pansies can all add color, motion, and texture to your winter garden. If you don’t know how to care for these plants, contact a landscaper. It is well worth the investment.

How To Be A Sociable Tourist

Now, be honest. Most English speaking people expect to be understood, no matter where they are in the world, right? After all, English is the most common second language spoken on the planet. While most school children in the UK and United States study Spanish, French, German, or Latin as a foreign language in school although they won’t become fluent. Other nations study English However, shouldn’t we at least make the effort to become familiar with the countries we plan to visit? Too many times I see English speaking tourists using translation services without making an effort to understand. Perhaps simply making the effort to learn a few phrases and customs would make our trips more rewarding. And, who know, it might make the trip a little smoother, too.

Language

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The most obvious problem, at first, for international travellers is the language. Although most educated societies learn English as a second language or, as in India, speak English as a primary language, it is a mistake to assume that everyone you contact will be fluent enough in the language to converse with you. In any country, even English speaking ones, it is simply good manners to try to learn a few basic phrases in the native language. If it does not earn you a place in the native’s heart because you are trying hard, it will at least entertain him for a while. Learn, too, the usual forms of address used in the country you will visit. It is better to err on the side of formality, than accidentally insult an official or inn owner with an informal familiarity normally reserved for family members. In fact, expecting everyone to understand you just because you speak English is like expecting everyone to drive on the same side of the road as you do. It just isn’t going to happen.

Non-Verbal Communication

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At least ½ of your communication is non-verbal. It pays to study the customs and gestures of the people who are natives of the country you are about to visit. Something as simple as nodding your head can confuse those to whom you are communicating. In the UK and US, nodding the head indicates agreement, or “yes”. In some countries, nodding the head indicates disagreement or “no”. This can get you in untold trouble, if you are not aware of the difference.

Former president Bill Clinton committed a tremendous faux pas in Brazil when he made the “ok” signal with his circled thumb and forefinger. This is a profanity in Brazil, and raised quite a few eyebrows.

Customs

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In some countries, women are expected to walk behind their men, and are not allowed out in public without a man. If you go against these cultural norms, you can incite anger and find yourself unable to even check into a hotel room. Keep in mind that even if you are not prejudiced or sexist, that does not mean that other cultures share the same general acceptance. If you plan international travel, it is just simply good sense to study their customs and social taboos before crossing their borders.