Thursday, December 25, 2014

It's Christmas!

From my family to yours, wishing you all the best of this holiday!

Joe Yu

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Being grateful and planning for the new year

It's that time of year again. In the U.S., we roast turkeys, make a few other dishes, then sit down to a nice dinner with friends and family until we're completely stuffed! Thanksgiving is so special, and despite the work that needs to be done and the stress that sometimes comes with it, we love it and look forward to it every year. 
  • STUFFED - very full

We get to take a couple of days off from work (usually); we get to rest and spend time with the people who are dear to us, and be thankful for all that we have, whether we have a little or a lot. The older I get the more I realize that being thankful is a gift we give ourselves. Acknowledging what we have and being grateful for them is like receiving the gifts once again and realizing their importance in our lives. 
  • DEAR - close; important

This time of year is also special because it marks the beginning of the holiday season, and as we approach the end of the year, we start thinking about our new year's resolutions. Being thankful is what Thanksgiving is all about, but we should also begin planning for the coming year, begin thinking of the goals that we want to accomplish and how we are going to accomplish them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Americans are HEADING TO THE POLLS today to CAST their votes for certain local and state officials. A number of governors & members of Congress are on the ballot. Some people think it's "only" a midterm election and is therefore not as significant as a Presidential election. However, it is very important as the OUTCOME will determine whether we will have a Congress that will likely work WITH or AGAINST the President in his last two years in office.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Having A BLAST being a zombie

Catwoman and I work in the same office. She helps students with their status as international students.

It's Halloween! We had a party at work yesterday, and it was a total BLAST. This year I decided to GO OUT ON A LIMB and be a zombie, which was very brave of me as I wasn't sure I would be able to PULL IT OFF. I'm not creative at all when it comes to Halloween costumes. Luckily, a coworker helped me with the makeup, and it worked! My version was pretty LAME, as you'll see below, but he made it look much more SPOOKY and cool! I must say I had a BLAST being a zombie and acting like one!
  • A BLAST - a lot of fun, #slang
  • GO OUT ON A LIMB - take a chance; do something unfamiliar, #idiom
  • PULL IT OFF - succeed in something difficult, #phrasal verb
  • SPOOKY - scary
  • LAME - weak; not effective

I hope you've had a fun, safe Halloween, everyone!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Warming up to a table-top ironing board

ironing board - image for English lesson with vocabulary
The cover that came with this new table-top ironing board stunk, :-| so we decided to wash it first. This is an old cover.

My wife and I live in a tiny apartment, and every time I BREAK OUT the ironing board to PRESS my shirts, it takes up most of the kitchen area, and she's had to squeeze through a small space just to get to the sink. So, she had been URGING me to SWITCH to a table-top ironing board. At first, I was RELUCTANT to GO ALONG with it; I thought I needed the space of a full-size board and a table-top one would just slow me down. 

Eventually though, I WARMED UP to the idea of using a smaller ironing board, and WHAT DO YOU KNOW! I actually like it! It needs less space for storage; it doesn't really slow down my ironing, and I don't have to block the entire kitchen! HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT! :-)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Morning after the storm

It feels like the morning after a storm. Indeed, a storm went through our area yesterday, but it turned out to be a weak one. It definitely wasn't the SOAKER that was predicted.

  • SOAKER - heavy rain; a rainy, wet day

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Happy first day of fall!

A pumpkin patch at the supermarket where I shop, displaying some fall colors before the leaves start to turn in our area. 

Pumpkin PATCHES are POPPING UP around town once again, especially in grocery stores and farmer's markets. It's one sign that fall is here! Well, it officially arrives tomorrow. The temperatures in NYC have been gradually going down unlike in past years when summer weather sometimes LINGERS even in October. This time the TRANSITION into autumn is smoother, which is nice. I like it. :-)
  • PATCH - a small piece of land used to grow fruit or vegetables; the produce from this land
  • POPPING UP - appearing
  • LINGER - stay longer
  • TRANSITION - change into something different

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A nice time watching the U.S. Open final competition

Watching the final game of the US Open in Brooklyn, with Lower Manhattan in the background.

We THOROUGHLY enjoyed the #AmexTennis #USOpen event at Brooklyn Bridge Park early this week. It was a nice VENUE with the Manhattan SKYLINE providing a dramatic BACKDROP. I even SCORED a nice, free picnic blanket which I'm sure we'll use again. I wish I had also gotten the free picnic basket with the sandwiches that came in it; they looked really yummy, and my mouth WATERED just watching people around us eating. :-| Unfortunately, the line was too long, and we would've missed a big part of the game. Now I KNOW THE DRILL; next time, I'll be first in line. :-)
  • VENUE - place for an event
  • SKYLINE - outline of the buildings of a city; view of a city
  • BACKDROP - view in the background
  • SCORED - unexpectedly, luckily get something #slang
  • MOUTH WATERED - salivated; wanted to eat
  • KNOW THE DRILL - know what to do #idiom

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A nice, albeit short, honeymoon

New Milford, a quaint Connecticut town we came across and enjoyed visiting on our short honeymoon getaway.

Well, after being together for 7 years, the fiancee and I finally TIED THE KNOT in a small ceremony at the NYC City Clerk's Office. Then the day after we GOT HITCHED, we headed up to Connecticut for a long weekend GETAWAY, where we relaxed a bit and did some exploring.

We had a wonderful time, and we came across a few things that made the trip special. We saw a couple of QUAINT towns with old train stations and abandoned railroad tracks. We CHECKED OUT a couple of small, family-owned wineries, and drove up and down long and winding, scenic country roads. A deer on the roadside GAVE ME QUITE A STIR and got my heart pumping a little. Thankfully, it went the other direction and into the forest. The wife was THRILLED to see some chickens pecking around in an open field around a CHICKEN COOP.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Are you a CLEAN FREAK?

photo of hand and soap. A clean freak for #ESL vocabulary

I admit I'm a bit of a CLEAN FREAK. I'm often PARANOID about picking up COOTIES from JUST ABOUT everywhere--on the train, in restrooms, from public computers, et al.--so I wash my hands often, probably more so than most people. I probably should LIGHTEN UP a bit; I guess I just think it's BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY.

What do you think? Would you call yourself a CLEAN FREAK? Do you know anyone who is? 

#ESL vocabulary
  • CLEAN FREAK (overly clean)
  • FREAK (a weirdo; a strange person #slang)
  • PARANOID (overly worried)
  • COOTIES (germs; body louse; disease #slang)
  • JUST ABOUT (nearly; almost #informal)
  • LIGHTEN UP (take it easy; don't be so serious #phrasal verb)
  • BETTER (TO BE) SAFE THAN SORRY (better to be safe than regret it later #idiom)

Friday, July 4, 2014

A bit of trivia for your Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July to all of you celebrating, wherever you are. Here are a few trivia questions that will give you A LEG UP on your knowledge of the history surrounding this holiday. See how many of them you already know without scrolling down for the answers or looking them up.
     A LEG UP (an advantage; a boost)
  1. How many stars and stripes does the U.S. flag have? Hint: The photo above does not show the answer. :-) 
  2. What do the stars and stripes on the U.S. flag represent?  
  3. In which year did the American colonies officially declare independence from Britain?
  4. Who became the first U.S. President?
  5. At which New York City landmark did this first President take the oath of office?
  6. What is the title of the U.S. National Anthem?
  7. What are two nicknames for the U.S. flag?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Happy 1st day of summer!

 A sweet, succulent peach for this year's summer solstice. Could it be a sign?

It's a beautiful summer day in New York City. After a few warm and sometimes hot days this past week, the temperatures have dipped slightly, and with almost no clouds in the sky, it's the perfect first day of summer. 

  • DIPPED - decrease slightly

The first day of summer, of course, also marks the summer solstice and the day of the year with the most amount of daylight. I'm always fascinated by what happens in the heavens whenever the solstices and the equinoxes come around and love the fact that the amount of daylight increases and decreases throughout the year. I guess I like being reminded of the bigger picture and that larger phenomena are at work beyond what we see here on earth. 

  • THE HEAVENS - outer space; stars and planets
  • SOLSTICE - beginning of summer and winter; days with the least or the most amount of daylight in the year
  • EQUINOX - beginning of spring and fall; days with about equal amounts of daylight and night time
  • COME AROUND - arrive
  • PHENOMENON - event; fact (phenomena, pl.)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Going through a brutal allergy season

Beautiful, but a source of allergy-causing pollen, which is supposedly much
plentiful this year making the allergy season particularly brutal.

I read today that allergy season here in #NYC is particularly rough this year because of the cold winter and the large amount of snow that we got. The cold temperatures delayed the ONSET of pollen production, and all the snow served to PRIME the plants to produce plenty of pollen. :-| 

I, myself, had a rough couple of days although I don't think it's any worse than in past seasons as some people are saying. However, the article says this Sunday is supposed to be BRUTAL, so I don't want to speak too soon.

If you also suffer from HAY FEVER, I found an article that you might find helpful. It lists just 5 natural remedies that are supposed to help ALLEVIATE allergy symptoms. I like this list because it includes foods that I already consume: yogurt, walnuts, green tea, and cocoa. Actually, there is a fifth one--springing nettle, but I'm not sure what that is exactly. :-|


  • ONSET - start
  • PRIME - prepare; make ready 
  • BRUTAL - rough; difficult 
  • HAY FEVER - allergies from pollen 
  • ALLEVIATE - make less worse; make more bearable

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

CUTTING BACK on green tea again

Miso soup with tofu, fish, vegetables, & rice and some hot water for dinner.
Cutting back on my green tea consumption for now.

I checked my blood pressure earlier today at a do-it-yourself health machine at Whole Foods. Unfortunately, my reading was slightly high, which meant I was borderline hypertensive again. I'd been working for a few hours, and while I was sitting down the whole time, I was a bit stressed trying to get as much done as possible. Add to this my lack of exercise and my large intake of green tea, which CONSTITUTES about 90 percent of my fluid CONSUMPTION, and it's no wonder my heart is working extra hard. :-|

As in the past, I will start a WORKOUT REGIMEN and CUT BACK on green tea and wait for my numbers to return to normal, and they will. For now, I'll have to settle for hot water with my dinner with perhaps a squeeze of lemon ONCE IN A WHILE.

CONSTITUTES (includes; composes); CONSUMPTION (intake; use); WORKOUT (exercise); REGIMEN (routine that is usually beneficial); CUT BACK (reduce); ONCE IN A WHILE (sometimes)