Ever since I started blogging, I steered clear from controversial topics. I know that writing about sensitive issues would cause buzz but I didn’t want to tread on broken glass. I didn’t want to get hurt in the process. I chose to stay safe.
However, my learners changed my mind. Umm… no, they didn’t request me to write something that would cause a stir. They just continuously asked me probing questions. So, I decided to write one about nuclear power.
Let me just reiterate that nobody forced me to write about this topic. Also, I would like to remind you not to take what I write too seriously. These are just my opinions and thoughts. They may not be correct and appropriate for you.
Even before the twin disasters that hit Tohoku area last March 11, 2011, the topic of nuclear power has been discussed, debated on, protested and accepted for years. It probably even dates back to the discovery by William Rontgen of the ionizing radiation in 1895. From that time on, as the science of atomic radiation and nuclear fission was developed through the years, the debate also has grown stronger.
The disaster that hit the Fukushima nuclear power plant only fueled this ever-present and constant battle of the pros and the antis. The anti-nuclear power activists are everywhere. If there is a nuclear power plant (or lack thereof), I am pretty sure there is a group somewhere nearby since they strongly oppose the use of nuclear technologies.
I will not go against their cry for nuclear disarmament but I have to disagree with their position on the use of nuclear power. My knowledge about this subject is not very in-depth. I only know what I have read or what I have heard. I have never conducted experiments so my thoughts are based on my stored knowledge (if ever there are any).
I am aware of the dangers posed by nuclear energy when technology is lacking. That is why I think countries which do not have a lot of dough for research and development in this particular field should think twice (or maybe better thrice) before building one. Yes, I think money is very critical when it comes to nuclear power. A country needs to have the money to do the research, they need the bucks to build and maintain the facilities, and from what we have seen in the Tohoku area and in the other nuclear disasters of this century, clean-up also costs a fortune.
Next, if harnessed properly, nuclear energy can be a nation’s best friend. The amount of energy that can be generated from this source is enormous. Also, it is considered a green energy since it does not have any harmful effects to the environment like burning fossil fuels (nuclear accidents not included). Lastly, it is very cost effective (in the long run) for countries without their own oil source.
I am not saying that nuclear energy is the only way to go. If we can find a very good alternative source (comparable to the benefits we get from nuclear power), then I say let’s go for it. But for the meantime, I see no reason why we should shut down all the nuclear power plants that are providing us with the electricity we are so used to of having. Remember how we all groaned and complained about the rolling blackouts?
Yes, even after the Fukushima disaster, I am still not opposed to the use of nuclear power. Because if I were, I should just turn this PC off, not use my lights right now and all other electricity-hungry gadgets I have because they are using the source that I would be opposing, right? Just my two cents.
Last Thursday (April 21), TIME magazine released their list of most influential people.
The list comprises of researchers, journalists, activists, heads of state, athletes and so on.
Here is the full list:
Ahmed Shuja Pasha
Aung San Suu Kyi
Prince William and Kate Middleton
Kim Jong Un
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Major General Margaret Woodward
David and Charles Koch
General David Petraeus
Matt Damon and Gary White
George R.R. Martin
Marine Le Pen
Feisal Abdul Rauf
Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,2066367,00.html#ixzz1KWB8oHZk
Among the 100 people, there are two names which ring a bell in Japan; Katsunobu Sakurai and Takeshi Kanno.
Because of the twin disaster that hit the Tohoku area, their names now belong to this prestigious list.
E: Euneece N: Nicole U: Umi
Euneece, Nicole and Umi are enjoying their break time when…
E: Umi, was that your phone? What a loud sound!
U: (Looking petrified with fright) Oh, no! Earthquake!
N: (Trying to stay composed as she turned the tv on) That
was magnitude 7.1 in Fukushima. Will this ever end?
E: A month after the twin natural disasters, I thought I
already got used to the constant aftershocks, but every
time it does, I still quake in my boots.
N: And another one coming up. I’ll surely have a sleepless
night again tonight.
E: You won’t be alone, I tell you.
U: That makes three of us, then. I wonder what your folks
say about all these?
N: My mom is worried to the max.
E: My siblings are urging me to go home.
U: So how do you pacify them?
N: I just constantly assure her that I’m perfectly all right
here. I’m not a good liar, though.
E: Hahaha! Mother's instincts. For unexplained reasons, they
could feel when their offspring are in peril.
E: And other than what Nicole had mentioned, I stopped posting
about my anxiety over aftershocks and radiation on my
Facebook account. That way, they’d thought everything’s
back to normal where I’m concerned.
N: I did the same, too.
U: Were they convinced?
(Euneece and Nicole looked at each other, smiling)
E: I guess we received the same reaction?
U: Which was?
E & N: "Who are you kidding?"
★petrified with fright - 驚愕で呆然とする
★composed - 落ち着いた
★natural disasters - 自然災害
★quake in my boots - 怖がる、ビクビクする
★folks - 家族
★to the max - 極めて
★siblings - 兄弟姉妹
★urge sb to do sth - ～に～するよう要請する
★pacify - なだめる
★instinct - 本能
★offspring - 子孫
★in peril - 危機
★anxiety over - についての不安
★convinced - 確信して
E:ユニース N:ニコル U:ウミ
E: ウミ、あなたの電話だったの？ なんて大きい音なの！
E: ハハハ！ 母の勘ね。説明できないけど、わが子が危機の時には
Every month we try to showcase an activity that is happening around the world. This month we celebrate the Korean Traditional Drink and Rice Cake Festival in Gyeongju. If you’d like to learn more about this, don’t miss your class on April 17~23.
The Korean Traditional Drink & Rice Cake Festival in Gyeongju (City in Eastern S. Korea) resembles a village feast that lasts for six days. Events include traditional music and dance performances, as well as opportunities to learn traditional Korean arts and crafts. However, the festival is focused on two ingredients of the culinary tradition: alcoholic drinks and Ddeok (Korean rice cake).
Rice dough is being pounded here and there, and rice cakes are being made in all sorts of shapes and flavors. Many people stand in long lines to taste these rice cakes. At the main stage set up at the center of the venue, visitors are invited to pound rice dough with a huge mallet and make rice cakes themselves.
In addition to the audience participation booths, there are food booths set up by famous rice cake shops from all over the country. This attraction is especially appealing because visitors can sample the many kinds of rice cakes before purchasing by choosing the ones they like. Visitors can sample and shop for a selection of mouth-watering delicacies not only from Gyeongju but also from a variety of other regions in Korea.
There are other events in which visitors can participate including slicing roll-shaped rice cakes while being blindfolded, making pan-fried rice cakes adorned with azaleas, making songpyeon (a crescent-shaped rice cake with different kinds of fillings), and printing patterns on rice cakes. Also, there is Gayangju or home-made liquor making, which can be performed together with family or by couples.
What is the right age to teach children about money?
You might ask, "Why is she asking this?"
Well, this thought crossed my mind when I talked to my nephews who stayed at our house for one whole week.
Four boys stayed at our home with my mom and my sister.
One lazy night, I was trying to chat with all of them.
You could just imagine how chaotic it was when we tried Skype's group video call.
They ran around the house and tried to use all the three available laptops in the house.
Once they have settled down, I asked them about their day and they took turns telling "auntie" what they have been up to.
As they told me their stories, I realized that all they talked about was spending.
Silently, I did a mental calculation of all the purchases and the trips they have made as they rattled on about this incident with a girl at the park.
Apparently, they have a limitless budget for this one week trip.
Ahh... the life of a kid; when all you have to worry about is what to eat; where, what and who to play with.
Life was so simple then.
That is why I asked the question.
Apparently, I am not the only one who has asked the same question.
In response to this query, I found this video clip.
Sesame Street has found ways to incorporate this issue in their show.
E: Emery T:Tomomi K:Kaori
In the classroom.
T: Sorry for being absent for three weeks in a row.
E: You must be snowed under with a lot of paperwork.
T: You bet. My liver is actually complaining. Ha-ha.
Two weeks of alcohol-free living. What is the
latest with you guys?
K: Nothing to say. How about you Emery?
Emery paused for a while.
E: I have something for you guys. Last week, my colleague
and I were running like wind to catch the train.
As soon as the train doors closed, my cell phone fell
on the floor. It was a hard fall that the battery and
the back cover got separated from the main body.
Everyone in the train was stunned at the sound of it.
I was the center of attention.
T: You don’t get that often. What happened next?
E: A middle-aged lady handed me the battery and another
guy the back cover. I was flushed with embarrassment.
I felt so small.
T: As my mom would always say, we all have our own share
of stories in life.
K: By the way, what did your colleague do?
E: When the train announced the next stop, the best thing
I could think of was to get off with my colleague to
save my face. As soon as we got off the train, our
eyes met and we burst into laughter.
T: Laughing at your own misfortune. I like the idea.
E: That embarrassing experience turned into a funny one.
★you have to laugh - 笑わなければならない
★in a row - 連続して
★be snowed under - 忙殺される、仕事で多忙だ
★liver - 肝臓
★run like wind - 風のように速く走る
★hard fall - 激しい落下
★stunned - 呆然として
★center of attention - 注目の的
★flush - 赤面する
★feel small - 小さく感じる、肩身が狭い
★have our own share of stories - 話、出来事を共有する
★save my face - 体面を保つ
★eyes meet - 目が合う
★burst into laughter - 突然笑い出す
★laughing at your own misfortune - 自身の不幸を笑う
E: エメリー T: トモミ K: カオリ
The beginning of April signals the start of Spring for most us.
It is also the start of a new fiscal year for businesses.
Jump-starting the business is always a challenge but this year seems to be an especially tough one.
Thus, we all plan to do our best and to perform beyond what is expected of us.
I just hope we don't forget one small thing... our families.
The discussion of Work-Life Balance has never ceased.
The employee is always caught in between two strong forces, his work and his family.
I think it is up to the person to balance his responsibilities in both worlds.
Here is Nigel Marsh in TED Talk sharing his views about how to make work-life balance work.
In his speech, he raises some interesting points.
According to him, we don't have to make huge changes.
We can start with small steps, baby steps if you will.
Now that was the advice that St. Benedict gave his rather startled followers in the Fifth century. It was the advice that I decided to follow myself when I turned 40. Up until that moment, I had been that classic corporate warrior -- I was eating too much, I was drinking too much, I was working too hard, and I was neglecting the family. And I decided that I would try and turn my life around. In particular, I decided I would try to address the thorny issue of work-life balance. So I stepped back from the workforce, and I spent a year at home with my wife and four young children. But all I learned about work-life balance from that year was that I found it quite easy to balance work and life when I didn't have any work. (Laughter) Not a very useful skill, especially when the money runs out.
So I went back to work, and I've spent these seven years since struggling with, studying and writing about work-life balance. And I have four observations I'd like to share with you today. The first is, if society's to make any progress on this issue, we need an honest debate. But the trouble is so many people talk so much rubbish about work-life balance. All the discussions about flexi-time or dress-down Fridays or paternity leave only serve to mask the core issue, which is that certain job and career choices are fundamentally incompatible with being meaningfully engaged on a day-to-day basis with a young family. Now the first step in solving any problem is acknowledging the reality of the situation you're in. And the reality of the society that we're in is there are thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation, where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don't need to impress people they don't like. (Laughter) (Applause) It's my contention that going to work on Friday in jeans and T-shirt isn't really getting to the nub of the issue.
The second observation I'd like to make is we need to face the truth that governments and corporations aren't going to solve this issue for us. We should stop looking outside; it's up to us as individuals to take control and responsibility for the type of lives that we want to lead. If you don't design your life, someone else will design it for you, and you may just not like their idea of balance. It's particularly important -- this isn't on the World Wide Web is it, I'm about to get fired -- it's particularly important that you never put the quality of your life in the hands of a commercial corporation. Now I'm not talking here just about the bad companies -- the abattoirs of the human soul as I call them. (Laughter) I'm talking about all companies. Because commercial companies are inherently designed to get as much out of you they can get away with. It's in their nature, it's in their DNA, it's what they do -- even the good, well-intentioned companies. On the one hand, putting child care facilities in the workplace is wonderful and enlightened. On the other hand, it's a nightmare; it just means you spend more time at the bloody office. We have to be responsible for setting and enforcing the boundaries that we want in our life.
The third observation is we have to be careful with the time frame that we choose upon which to judge our balance. Before I went back to work after my year at home, I sat down and I wrote out a detailed, step-by-step description of the ideal balanced day that I aspired to. And it went like this: Wake up well-rested after a good night's sleep. Have sex. Walk the dog. Have breakfast with my wife and children. Have sex again. (Laughter) Drive the kids to school on the way to the office. Do three hours work. Play sport with a friend at lunch time. Do another three hours work. Meet some mates in the pub for an early evening drink. Drive home for dinner with my wife and kids. Meditate for half an hour. Have sex. Walk the dog. Have sex again. Go to bed. (Applause) How often do you think I have that day? (Laughter) We need to be realistic. You can't do it all in one day. We need to elongate the time frame upon which we judge the balance in our life, but we need to elongate it without falling into the trap of the "I'll have a life when I retire, when my kids have left home, when my wife has divorced me, my health is failing, I've got no mates or interests left." (Laughter) A day is too short, after I retire is too long. There's got to be a middle way.
A fourth observation: We need to approach balance in a balanced way. A friend came to see me last year -- and she doesn't mind me telling this story -- a friend came to see me last year and said, "Nigel, I've read your book. And I realize that my life is completely out of balance. It's totally dominated by work. I work 10 hours a day, I commute two hours a day. All of my relationships have failed. There's nothing in my life apart from my work. So I've decided to get a grip and sort it out. So I joined a gym." (Laughter) Now I don't mean to mock, but being a fit 10-hour a day office rat isn't more balanced, it's more fit. (Laughter) Lovely though physical exercise may be, there are other parts to life. There's the intellectual side, there's the emotional side, there's the spiritual side. And to be balanced, I believe we have to attend to all of those areas -- not just do 50 stomach crunches.
Now that can be daunting. Because people say, "Bloody hell mate, I haven't got time to get fit; you want me to go to church and call my mother." And I understand. I truly understand how that can be daunting. But an incident that happened a couple of years ago gave me a new perspective. My wife, who is somewhere in the audience today, called me up at the office and said, "Nigel, you need to pick our youngest son up," Harry "from school." Because she had to be somewhere else with the other three children for that evening. So I left work an hour early that afternoon and picked Harry up at the school gates. We walked down to the local park, messed around on the swings, played some silly games. I then walked him up the hill to the local cafe, and we shared pizza for tea, then walked down the hill to our home, and I gave him his bath and put him in his Batman pajamas. I then read him a chapter of Roald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach." I then put him to bed, tucked him in, gave him a kiss on his forehead and said, "Goodnight, mate," and walked out of his bedroom. As I was walking out of his bedroom, he said, "Dad?" I went, "Yes, mate?" He went, "Dad, this has been the best day of my life, ever." I hadn't done anything, hadn't taken him to Disney World or bought him a Playstation.
Now my point is the small things matter. Being more balanced doesn't mean dramatic upheaval in your life. With the smallest investment in the right places, you can radically transform the quality of your relationships and the quality of your life. Moreover, I think, it can transform society. Because if enough people do it, we can change society's definition of success away from the moronically simplistic notion that the person with the most money when he dies wins, to a more thoughtful and balanced definition of what a life well-lived looks like. And that, I think, is an idea worth spreading.
Characters: F: Felicity; K: Kosuke; T: Taka
Before the class starts...
F: Hi, guys. What's up?
K: Nothing much. Three weeks after the 9.0M earthquake hit Japan,
things are starting to go back to normal in the office.
F: That's great news. How about you Taka, you seem a bit down
in the mouth today?
T: You know what? I'm exhausted. I've been insanely busy these
past few weeks.
K: Really? How come?
T: A couple of my co-workers temporarily relocated to Osaka for
fear of radiation. That means I have to work doubly hard in
the office. I don't blame them but I can't say I enjoy working
my butt off either.
F: Oh, poor you.
K: Wait, I've got an idea! (all perked up) How about joining the
DCEC hanami party later today? I bet a can of beer under the
cherry blossom trees will do wonders.
F: Not a bad idea, Kosuke. I heard the cherry blossom trees at
Omiya park are at peak bloom.
T: Uhm... (pauses) I'm not sure that's a good idea. I have to burn
the midnight oil tonight to finish my weekly report.
K: Oh, c'mon Taka. You're gonna miss out on all the fun. Besides,
it'll be a good practice for our English skills. Right, Felicity?
F: You bet.
After more prodding...
K: So, are you in or out?
T: Hmm... Count me in.
★what's up - 元気？
★down in the mouth - 落ち込んで、元気なく
★insanely busy - めちゃくちゃ忙しい
★how come - どうして
★for fear of - ～を恐れて
★radiation - 放射能（放射線物質）
★doubly - 倍
★blame - 責める
★work my butt off - 一生懸命働く
★poor - かわいそう
★perked up - 耳をそばだてる
★do wonders - 驚くほど効果がある
★at peak bloom - 満開
★burn the midnight oil - 夜遅くまで働く、勉強する
★c'mon - おおい、ちょっと
★gonna - しようとしている
★miss out - 見逃す
★you bet - その通り、もちろん
★prodding - 催促して、せっついて
★in or out - 参加か不参加
★count me in - 私も参加させて
登場人物 F:フェリシティ K:コウスケ T:タカ
F: それはすばらしいニュースね。あなたはどうタカ？ 今日は少し元気
K: ほんとに？ 何で？
Tre: T Umi: U
Wednesday, upon arrival at the office…
T: Hello Umi. You look so haggard today…
U: Really? Well, the recent chain of disasters really painted
worries on my face.
T: The March 11th killer earthquake scared the hell out of me!
It was the strongest and longest quake that I’ve experienced
here in Japan.
U: Same here. Where were you when it occurred?
T: I was in the Times Square Room with my three learners. The
strong earthquake was horrendous!
U: Was everybody OK?
T: Yeah. I had an adrenaline rush… I was able to safely guide
my learners downstairs.
U: Wow! That’s good news!
T: (nodding his head) Hmmm….
U: I couldn’t sleep well because of the series of strong
aftershocks… the tsunami devastation and the lives lost are
T: Right…right. I am also concerned about the leakage of
radiation from the crippled nuclear reactors. That unprecedented
nuclear crisis posed another serious hazard to the environment
U: I really hope that the brave souls working around the clock
can put an end to an impending complete meltdown.
T: I have high hopes for that!
U: By the way, were you able to stock some supplies in your room?
T: I did but I could not buy additional goods. This morning,
I got surprised that most of the food shelves in
the supermarket were empty… as if the shelves were hit
by a hurricane!
U: That’s the sad reality when people are panicking during
the aftermath of catastrophic events.
T: In one of the supermarkets, a standing policy was issued that
each customer could only buy a 2-liter bottled water.
U: It’s really a problem due to scarcity of supply plus
the power outages. I hope you have enough supplies.
T: I think my food and water supplies are sufficient.
U: That’s good. By the way, be ready we will have an emergency
meeting in a while.
T: OK. Thank you for the heads-up.
★haggard - やつれた、げっそりした
★chain of disasters - 一連の災害
★painted worries - 心配と描いてある
★hell out of me - を徹底的に（～する）
★horrendous - 生きた心地もしない
★adrenaline rush - 興奮状態
★strong aftershocks - 強い余震
★devastation - 荒廃、廃墟
★appalling - 恐ろしい、<話>最悪の
★leakage of radiation - 放射線漏洩
★crippled - 手足の不自由な、機器などが動作不能の
★unprecedented - 未曽有の、史上初の
★hazard - 危険
★brave souls - 勇敢な人々
★impending complete meltdown - 完全な溶融が差し迫る
★hurricane - 台風
★aftermath - 余波、後遺症、災害などの直後の時期
★catastrophic events - 大惨事
★standing policy - いつもの方針
★scarcity - 欠乏、食糧難
★outages - 停電
★heads-up - 注意喚起、警告
トレ: T ウミ: U
U: 本当？ そうね、このところの災害続きで、心配が顔に出ちゃってる
T: ３月１１日の強烈な地震はマジで怖かったよ！ 今まで日本で経験し