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Friday, November 29, 2013

Those tapas away from home at El Mediterraneo

16-22 August 2013 #669   Nepali Times Buzz

El Mediterraneo    Time to savour those tapas

The first time I stepped into El Mediterraneo was for an evening of beer with friends. Food clearly wasn’t the focus of the night. However, chef and owner Bibushan Raj Joshi kept pouring yummy complimentary tapas and even a baked apple. By the end, I was convinced that I had to put it on my review list. This week I finally got around to going in again.
El Mediterraneo has a simple and inviting decor, white walls, blue ceiling, and wooden furniture, with a bar on the side. The menu was quite refreshing, sans the long list of regular Nepali favourites along with Chinese, Thai, and Italian as dished out by most restaurants in Kathmandu. 
But El Mediterraneo is what it says it is: a Spanish restaurant with tapas.
  • With gazpacho (Rs 220) on the list, we decided to forgo drinks and order straight. In simple terms gazpacho is a tomato-based soup, served cold. We were very impressed by El Mediterraneo’s gazpacho - cold, refreshing, and smooth. The tomato, vegetables, and herbs had been puréed to a smooth consistency and the flavours blended well in every spoonful. The start was good.
  • Next we had tortilla de patatas (Rs 220), Spanish omelette with potatoes and onions. The eggs had been beautifully layered with potatoes and cooked just right. There wasn’t much to complain about the dish, although personally I would have preferred a side of salsa or sauce to add a bit of spice to the bland combination.
For the mains we ordered seafood paella (Rs 480) and vegetarian fideos (Rs 400). Although we were wowed by the starters, the mains didn’t excite us much. 
  • When our seafood paella (like Biriyani, it says on the menu) arrived, it looked like the cook had simply dropped a dollop of rice on a white plate without any effort to improve its appeal. The dish certainly tasted better than it looked and I could feel the ingredients of the sofrito as I took a mouthful. But since the rice had not been cooked in seafood broth it lacked that specific flavour. I should also mention, I almost had to fish for the seafood in my seafood paella.
  • Our vegetarian fideos looked even less appealing than the paella and unfortunately this time we were correct to judge the food by its cover. The noodles had been broken into inch-long pieces and cooked fine, but the dish lacked flavour. And I understand if the restaurant had to be stingy with seafood, but vegetables? The fideos could have used a little more.
  • The mousse de lima (Rs 170) or lemon mousse was the saving grace. It had been beautifully set in a glass and set to a fine consistency. The sweetness was just right and you could taste the delightful lemon flavour of the mousse. Highly recommended.
  • We also tried natillas, a Spanish custard made with milk and eggs, and topped with a biscuit. The custard hadn’t set very well but the flavour was quite good. However, I think the restaurant was supposed to add the biscuit only at the time of serving. Our biscuit had spent a while in the fridge with the custard. It was soggy and didn’t add anything to the dessert.
  • Our beginning and end at El Mediterraneo was great, but the mains were disappointing. 
  • The restaurant has a unique positioning and can garner a niche if it pays attention to the details of a dish. 
  • Also, Chef Joshi would do well to train his staff in hospitality skills, which was the reason that bought me here in the first place. 
  • And a side note to diners: specify what kind of water you want, otherwise you will end up paying for an expensive mineral water. 

Buena suerte!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Detroit, the case of the shrinking city

A case in point, DETROIT

All sorts of things are happening in Detroit that don’t seem to be happening in many, if any, other places.
The best-known of those is the city’s depopulation trend. That’s been happening for a while now, but over the first decade of the 21st century, just as we started to read stories about how Detroit had turned a corner after 40 years or so and was finally ready for a comeback, the bottom fell out. 
  • In 1950, it had nearly 1.9 million people and was the fifth-largest city in the US. 
    • In 2000, the city had just under a million residents and was the tenth-largest city in the US by population. 
    • By 2010, Detroit’s population cratered to 713,777 – a 25% decline in a single decade.

    One thing about this data that catches my eye is that the population of the larger Detroit region doesn’t change that much between 1970 (about 4.5 million) and 2010 (about 4.3 million)
    I don’t really see how a city can lose 25% of its population and be healthy. It’s possible that Detroit is now at its optimal size, but I’m going to wait for some concrete results before I’ll believe that the city has finally risen, phoenix-like, from the ashes.

REACTIONS. Defend them
The Telegraph visits the abandoned skyscrapers of Detroit, USA, 
 Alastair Good meets the residents who are searching for solutions.
  •  Everyone has left the city, and the government remains. Has it ever occurred to anyone that the problem is government? 
  • I have been telling the people that I have the solution for Detroit: Lease Detroit  to the chinese for 99 years. They would transform it into an emporium of manufacturing, financial mecca and a mega distribution neural center.
  • That GM, Ford and all of the other companies that used to reside here are now gone because of rules, regulations and policies implemented by government? 
  • I wonder what would happen if the Detroit government relocated somewhere? 
  • I can only imagine the industriousness that would return, once all of the barriers to entry were dismantled and free enterprise/free reign on ideas was allowed to flourish. 
  • Liberals wince and foam at the mouth at a notion like that. However, that is what this nation was founded upon. 
  • Maybe we could create a 'private property/free enterprise zone' within Detroit.....ONLY Detroit.....and watch and wait to see what happens. If it fails, the city would be no worse off than it is now. If it succeeded, Michigan could slowly extend this zone out to encompass larger and larger areas and become a powerhouse.

New trends: changes in populating cities Lisbon and Birmingham (US)

The biggest trends: metropolis and con-urban areas and shrinking cities.

1- Europe:  Abandoned Lisbon

A recent piece written in El País talks about how Lisbon has lost 100,000 people per decade for the last 30 years.  The reasons they list include:
  •  poor condition of public services like schools and hospitals, 
  • and the fact that property in Lisbon costs 3 times more than in surrounding municipalities. 

It is such factors that have landed both Lisboa and Portugal’s second city, Porto, in the EU’s top ten most quickly shrinking cities.
Speaking with neighbors and friends, you hear the frustration that something more isn’t being done to renovate, restore, or above all – make use of these spaces somehow.  Through the eyes of someone who has seen the beauty of Amsterdam’s squat movement, or Copenhagen’s Christiania, there is a lack of creativity is this legendary capital city when it comes to reclaiming abandoned and forgotten spacesBut what is being done on a small or large scale in Lisbon? And why can’t more be done? Why not get radical and yes, a little crazy, when it comes to policies regarding abandoned property 

2. USA -The rust belt
Medium size towns  BIRMINGHAM (USA)

The population drained from a peak of 340,887 in 1960 to about 231,000 today.
Birmingham is one of the nation's fastest-shrinking cities, yet it has an ever-growing, world-class medical center. The metro area's growth lags, but many suburbs prosper. Middle-class flight has left pools of concentrated poverty.   By Jeff Hansen
On any given weekday, the corner of University Boulevard and 20th Street South is jammed with people and traffic. The bustling intersection is the doorstep of the University of Alabama at Birmingham -- and the heartbeat of the region's economy.
Just four miles away, in Birmingham's Ensley neighborhood, abandoned homes and businesses scar block after block. At 20th Street Ensley and Pleasant Hill Road are the remains of the Ensley Works, furnaces where thousands of people once made steel. Today, 18 rusting smokestacks stand sentry above fields of waist-high grass, the lost heart of a community whose population has plunged more than any other in the city.
Both intersections show the realities of life today in metropolitan Birmingham: 
  • One hails the best hopes for the future of Alabama's largest urban region -- a robust economic center built around a cutting-edge medical center and university. 
  • The other exposes the poverty and abandonment that is the Rust Belt of the South.

Between these extremes is Birmingham's struggle to thrive as a city and region.
Of the 15 American cities that have lost the largest share of their populations since 1960, 14 are in the industrial Northeast and upper Midwest -- areas traditionally known as the Rust Belt. No. 15 on that list is Birmingham

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

pronunciation webpage DAILY_ESL

The best page on pronunciation according to learners!

From RANDALL listening laboratory pages two webpages where you work 7 minutes

Study and repeat these 1-minute passages of the last webpage  DAILY_ESL

text 1 
Appliance Store: Washers, Dryers, and Refrigerator
I'm moving into a new home this weekend, so I decided to do some shopping to furnish the place. I went to an appliance store not too far from my house, and I first bought a refrigerator for the kitchen. You really can't live without one because you have to keep your food cold or frozen so it doesn't spoil. Then, I bought a washer and dryer to clean and dry my clothes. I don't want to go to a laundromat to do this every week like I used to do. Next, I bought a dishwasher. I probably don't need one because I could wash my dishes by hand, but having a dishwasher can make life easier. You simply put the dishes inside, add some dishwashing detergent, and turn the machine on. Finally, I picked up a microwave oven. If I'm really in a hurry and don't have time to cook, I can throw something in the microwave and heat it up quickly. I haven't purchased everything I need to furnish my new place, but I think I have the basic appliances to make life more comfortable for now.

Text 2
When I need gas for my car, I pull into a gas station right around the corner from my house and use my gas card. Years ago, full-service gas stations were very common. The gas station attendant would put gas in your car, check the oil level in your engine and air pressure in your tires, and wash your windows. However, things have changed. Now, most gas stations are self-service centers where you do all your car maintenance. Personally, I usuallyfill the car up with gas every time I stop. I generally pay with cash, but more and more gas stationsaccept credit cards, and you can pay at the gas pump outside without going into the station to pay the cashier directly. Now, because gas prices are on the rise, I am thinking about buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle or just taking the bus to work.
Now during the next 4 weeks,
choose 2 others every week.

to make the spoken text as good as 90% of the original pronunciation
repetition from 2 other passages of the last webpage TRAIN YOUR ACCENT

Monday, November 25, 2013

emphasizing emphasis You need love

em·pha·sis  (mf-ss)
n. pl. em·pha·ses (-sz)
1. Special forcefulness of expression that 
gives importance to something singled out.

Study how the  Beatles do the Fronting syntax device:
Love is all you need

The only thing you need is love = 
   ALL you need is love

Study these other ways:
You need love. Absolutely
You need love. Exactly

Absolutely is perhaps the strongest. 
If you use exactly, you are emphasizing that what someone has said is 100% correct

2- Reflexive pronouns: 
You yourselves need love 


Never should you be deprived of your need for love

4-Cleft Sentences: It
Sentences introduced by 'It is' or 'It was' are often used to emphasize a specific subject or object. The introductory clause is then followed by a relative pronoun.
 Example: It is you who need love 
                  It is love what you need
5- Cleft Sentences: What
Sentences introduced by a clause beginning with 'What' are also used to emphasize a specific subject or object. The clause introduced by 'What' is employed as the subject of the sentence as is followed by the verb 'to be'.
Example: What you need is a good long love. 

Other forms:
You need to be loved. It's true.
You need love, you do.
You DO need love
You need love, and only love.
Love and only love is what you need
  • How to emphasize a situation/element ( :
    • One must highlight  we all need love
      it must be underlined the fact that you need love
      You must draw your attention to 
      the bare fact that you need love

Collocations on emphasis

▪  addgivelayplaceputshift

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Future of food


Andras Forgacs

Leather and meat without killing animals

Two other ideas:

1- Vertical Organic Farming and Its Challenges - 

Published on Mar 7, 2013
Check out some Home made energy Product :

Source :

Rice on the seventh floor. Wheat on the twelfth. And enough food within an 18-story tower to feed a small city of 50,000 PEOPLE.

This IS Vertical farming . Vertical farms, where staple crops could be grown in environmentally friendly .

2- A high-tech portable vegetable farm 

it was designed and built in Japan will soon be heading to Qatar.

The innovative project is part of an effort by the desert gulf state to find ways to tackle its food security problem and grow more at home.

Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett reports from Tokyo.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

challenges and changes

Generation X

Facing challenges and changes as we get older is a part of life. How we deal with those challenges and changes reflects on who we are and how we will continue to grow.
Generation X has always been the generation that does not accept doing things a certain way just because that’s how they have always been done. We resisted that as teenagers; we drove our parent’s crazy with our insistence on doing things our own way. Are we still resisting conformity? How do you handle life’s challenges? Here are 10 “challenges/changes” quotes that I find inspiring; I hope you will as well Xers.
"Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful." -Joshua J. Marine
"The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours - it is an amazing journey - and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.” -Bob Moawad
"If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it." -Mary Engelbreit 
"Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm." -Abraham Lincoln 
"The most effective way to do it is to do it."
-Amelia Earhart

"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are." -Bernice Johnson Reagon 
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." -Eleanor Roosevelt

It is never too late to become what you might have been." -George Eliot 
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I... I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." - Robert Frost

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Is English really a global language?

Discuss in groups (2+2) 

and justify your answer 

with examples answers in detail

- See more at this link

1- some place just show disinterest in adopting English as the "global language" They keep to their mothertongue and show less interest in educating their young English. i.e. Germany, Japan, France  
2- English has become a global language.  To a great extent, it always had been.  The dominance of England around the globe as a colonial power followed by the emergence of America as a world power had always put English as a language that had been on the world's stage for some time.  I would say that with the growth of the internet and the free exchange of ideas through technology, English has become an even more global language because the world has become more global.  The issue here is the term "global."
  The globalization that has occurred has taken down much of the traditional barriers.  Along with the fashion and the temperaments, the language has become appropriated.  Certainly, there are some areas where English is not going to be spoken.  Yet, I truly do believe that in an overall and global sense, English has become more present throughout the world and has become a global language, where more of the world citizens are cognizant of it than other languages.  If one goes to an airport, signs are written in local languages and English.  This is something to be expected and would suggest its global nature. 

3- the international language of business has been English for quite some time, reflecting the 20th century dominance of the American economy.  With the United States being such a huge market for goods from around the world, it became necessary and efficient for exporter countries to use English as the language of trade.
True, there are places where English would get you nowhere.  Much of Africa, some of Latin America, parts of Asia and Eastern Europe still do not have English widely spoken or used in business or otherwise.  I don't think that changes the fact that English is a global language.  It just means it's not a universal one.

4- English is very much an international language, as it is the most commonly used language for communication between people speaking different native languages. This includes cases in which English is not the native language of any of the communicating parties.
It is quite true that there are many languages which are native language for far greater number of people than English. But none of these languages have as many non-native speakers as English. Thus those languages in spite of being most widely spoken languages do not qualifuy as global languages. They continue to be just native languages.

5- As a traveler in Europe, I'm often ashamed at how well most Europeans speak English and how poorly I speak any of their languages.  When I have a chance to talk with any of them for any length of time, I realize how woefully inadequate our foreign language education is.  Many of them begin learning other languages in elementary school, which explains their proficiency as adults.  
Twice on sleeper trains traveling through Europe I had interesting language experiences.  Once I was in a cabin with a couple who, upon learning I was an American, immediately brought their twenty-somethingdaughter in and made her talk with me.  She told me they wanted to see if all the money they spent for her to become fluent in English was worth it.  They just sat and listened most of the time, but they seemed pleased that she could communicate in English pretty well.  Another time I was in a cabin with a mother and her three sons, ranging in age from probably 20 to 14.  The oldest son spoke some English, and we spent hours learning and practicing (and laughing at, of course) each other's language.  Foreign exchange students are the same way--eager to learn English.  What these experiences say to me is that whether or not anyone wants it to be, English is a preferred language in many placed all over the world.  -

6- I think that English is spoken in many countries througout the world, but in Asia, I found out that it is NOT the case in Japan except in cities like Takayama or others. 
On my first trip here, I got lost in OSaka and went to the police box called a koban. I told them I was lost, but not one policman there, spoke the language. I was there for about 1.5 hours until they could find another policeman that spoke English and he told them clearly what was the problem. After that, I was on my way. I have found that in my travels to Japan, not many Japanese speak English here. But I have encountered many Chinese here that do speak English quite well. My other language is Spanish..but that of course is even spoken less than English here!! 


 In tribute to Japan and the recent trials they are still experiencing- You know, that whole Godzilla destroying their country thing - 

Here is a visual tribute to the ineptitude of the translation skills of the land of the rising sun and other Asian countries! 

So without further ado, enjoy it.  (selection---- only 13 items here)





















el roto-

35   Viñetas 

  EL ROTO  pictures

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

english teaching robots

Korea Aims To Have Robot Teachers 

In Every Kindergarten By 2013

Robots have already replaced many of the world’s craftsmen, mechanics, factory workers, welders, and so on — so why not teachers? 
For an appraisal of this news:

Matt Salusbury: January 2013

Jan 31, 2013 - 
Rise of the Korean English-teaching robots?
Matt Salusbury reports on Korea's next generation of EFL educators 
Rough sketch of a Roti teaching robot, by the author

South Korea has set itself up as a global centre of excellence in robotics, with the government funding robot research. EFL teaching robots are now infiltrating the country's classrooms. 

As with most new education technology, finding appropriate ways to use the technology is more important than the hardware itself.

NEWS 1_ From Brian Merchant
 A science institute in South Korea has developed a robot teacher that works with young children to develop their foreign language skills.
Elementary school children in Korea in the cities of Masan and Daegu are among the first to be exposed to robotic teachers. Among them is a robotic English instructor named EngKey developed by the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST).
EngKey can hold scripted conversations with students to help them improve their language skills, or a modified version can act as a telepresence tool to allow distant teachers to interact with children.
And this is just the beginning: Korea’s Ministry of Education is seeking to put an EngKey robot in every kindergarten by 2013.
To clarify, the robots don’t take over teaching duties from a real flesh and blood teacher — they’re merely there as a mechanized supplement. The robots follow an automated script, and aren’t nearly advanced enough to complete entire lesson plans. 
But researchers have found that students loosen up around the robot teachers, and allow themselves to flex their mental muscles a little more audaciously — they feel more comfortable making mistakes in front of the robots than teachers.

Like the free, crowd-sourced online courses of the Khan Academy, these robots are another intriguing supplemental education tool that technology has allowed us to experiment with. Though the idea of robot teachers replacing real ones probably — and rightfully — sends a shiver down your spine, thus far these robots can only be a boon to the education process. Until they malfunction and enslave our children, of course.
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