Monday 29 June 2009

Vocabulary: News Article "Jackson friends mourn passing of flawed genius"

I spent almost 4 hours watching Michael Jackson's MTV marathon on TVB Pearl at Saturday night, all the way till 3am till I really couldn't keep my eyes open.

I really liked the concert part when MJ sang a series of his greatest hits such as "Jam", "Thriller", "Billie Jean" , "Smooth Criminal" and "Black or White".

These songs brought me back the fond memories of becoming a manager of a primary 5 classmate, whose a fan of MJ and could dance pretty well himself. I had him go around the school ground and showing off his ability to others. That lasted for about a week before we got bored and went on to play another game, but becoming a manager of a mini MJ got me into listening to MJ's songs for the first time. I still remember my first album was Dangerous, and I copied that from my neighbour's tape, and then I traced the album cover myself.

I remember that so clearly that it just feels like just yesterday.

Today, I read an article which I think it is really worth sharing as it contains many good words.

Many have asked me what do we often need to say at someone's departure, maybe I will write an entry on that some day later.

Rest in Peace, Michael, you'll live forever on the internet, and our hearts.

Jackson friends mourn passing of flawed genius(06-27 00:16)

Fans around the world grieved for Michael Jackson, while many friends hailed his ''genius'' but raised questions about the King of Pop's entourage and drug consumption.

Many tributes put Jackson into the pantheon of tragic stars alongside Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.

Fans from Paris to Sydney planned candlelit vigils for the 50-year-old superstar who died on Thursday from cardiac arrest. At the Glastonbury pop festival in Britain, thousands danced to Jackson's iconic songs such as ''Thriller'' and ''Billie Jean.''

But recriminations also started over the treatment of the singer who made the world's biggest selling album ''Thriller'' and was planning comeback shows in London next month after being dragged through the courts on pedophilia charges.

Some of the biggest names in entertainment paid tributes.

Pop diva Madonna called Jackson ''one of the greats'' of music.

Beatle Paul McCartney hailed Jackson as a ''massively talented boy man with a gentle soul.''

Singer Liza Minnelli called Jackson ''a genius talent, who revolutionised show business.''

Actress Elizabeth Taylor, another of Jackson's longstanding friends, was ''too devastated'' to issue a statement.

Jackson's influence was also highlighted by the new generation of pop stars.Justin Timberlake – who like Jackson is known for both his singing and dancing – said the world has ''lost a genius and a true ambassador of not only pop music, but of all music.''

Singer Beyonce said: ''The incomparable Michael Jackson has made a bigger impact on music than any other artist in the history of music.''

Film director Steven Spielberg said: ''Just as there will never be another Fred Astaire or Chuck Berry or Elvis Presley, there will never be anyone comparable to Michael Jackson.

''His talent, his wonderment and his mystery make him a legend.''



mourn -- verb [I or T] to feel or express great sadness, especially because of someone's death

flawed -- adj. not perfect, or containing mistakes

grieve -- verb 1 [I] to feel or express great sadness, especially when someone dies; (for meaning 2, click on the word)

hail sb/sth as sth -- phrasal verb [often passive] to praise a person or an achievement by saying that they are similar to someone or something very good

entourage /ˈɒn.tʊ.rɑ:ʒ/--(French) group noun [C usually singular], the group of people who travel with and work for an important or famous person

tribute --noun [C] something that you say, write or give which shows your respect and admiration for someone, especially on a formal occasion

pantheon --noun [C usually singular] FORMAL a small group of people who are the most famous, important and admired in their particular area of activity

vigil --noun [C or U] (an act of) staying awake, especially at night, in order to be with an ill person, or to express especially political disagreement, or to pray

cardiac arrest --noun [U] a condition in which the heart stops beating

recriminations --noun [U] argument between people who are blaming each other

revolutionised --verb [T] to completely change something so that it is much better

longstanding --adj. having existed for a long time

devastated --adj. 1. very shocked and upset (for meaning 2, click on the word)

wonderment --noun [U] LITERARY great and pleasant surprise

legend -- noun [C], someone or something very famous and admired, usually because of their ability in a particular area .

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News: Locky's English Playground gets International

Good news for me (maybe for you too)!

The articles that you are reading from my blog, Locky's English Playground, are becoming the sources of various international companies' researches on the internet!!!

I was searching for the address of my blog from Google as usual, and realised that websites of various companies are quoting from my blog!!!


Even companies from overseas are reading my blog, why not you?


Thursday 25 June 2009

Grammar: Subjunctive Mood

Subjunctive Mood

After writing the article Sports: Are "Ronaldos" always good at football? I was surprised that only one of you left comment to try, so I thought I should write a separate entry to answer my own question in case some of you miss out the comment Jan made.

"The subjunctive is a special kind of present tense which has no "s" in the 3rd person singular form . It is sometimes used in that-clauses in a formal style, especially in US English, after words which express the idea that something is important or desirable (eg. suggest, recommend, ask, insist, vital, essential, important, advice). The same forms are used in both present and past sentences."

  • The kid demanded his mother do as he said.
  • The saleslady recommended Amy check out the prices before buying.
Do is not used in negative subjunctives. Note the word order.
  • Pete insisted his girlfriend not attend her ex-boyfriend's birthday party.
  • The students suggested their teacher go and die.

Be has special subjuntive forms: I be, you be, etc.

  • It is important that Locky be paid before his money runs low.
  • It is vital that his students be pushed hard when it comes to doing homework.

Subjuntives are also use in certain fixed phrases.

  • God save the King/Queen!
  • God bless you.
  • If we have to pay $2000 for the tax, then so be it. (= we can't do anything to change it)

"Most subjunctives structures are formal and unusual in British English. In that-clauses, British people usually prefer should+infinitive, or ordinary present and past tenses."

  • It is advised that employees should stay at home and not go to work if they wake up late in the morning. (or employee stay)
  • But Paul felt that it was also advised that he should receive extra pay for his 8-hour-per-day, painstaking researches on adult websites. (or he received)

p.566 Practical English Usage by Michael Swan -- international student's Edition --Oxford.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

IPA: Type IPA online

Just a short note. For those of you who want to type IPA on the blog, here's a good website that will allow you to type, copy and then paste.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Environment & Investment: Fossil Fuels -- Party Over?

Fossil Fuels -- Party Over?

After writing an entry on Hydrogen Fuel, I suddenly felt very interested in learning what would be the next stock of the decade. Oil and Coal have definitely been the major, indispensible energy source, but the world is pushing towards the age of clean and renewable energy at a much faster pace than we have expected, so if we can foresee the trend, we might be able to get on the next train of big money.

While looking into the Discovery News, I was surprised to see a slideshow titled "7 Signs the Fossil Party is Over". Economics? My taste! And so I read on and find something really interesting.

First of all, the Hubbert Peak Theory caught my sight. The picture you see above was a graph showing the original 1956 prediction of world petroleum production rates. If everything follows that Hubbert's Curve like all those examples found in the webpage below, as the supply of the oil, natural gas, coal, metals copper and water reach(ed) their peaks and began to fall, and the global economy began to recover very very slowly, the prices of these resources will have to go up. Of course, there are other questions we cannot answer too, like
  1. how fast will the global economy recover?
  2. will the demand for these resources really increase with the recovery?
  3. will the demand increase greater than the supply?
  4. will there suddenly be a lot of major discoveries of the resources?
  5. as the fossil fuels began to lose demand to the renewable energy, will the fossil fuel be phased out faster than the increase in demand?
  6. Prices of the resources are also affected by the people's ability to pay, will the prices increase so great that people are not able to pay for the products and thus the companies don't actually benefit from the price gains?

I guess only time can tell, but we can make reasonable guess with enough data and statistics in order to increase our chances of thinking at the right side.

Keep reading and learning!


Saturday 20 June 2009

Idioms: Grey (with the Simpsons)

As a follow-up post of the previous Vocabulary: Parallel Import / Grey Product, I would like to share the idioms of the word Grey with you.

Why grey?

Apart from the colour itself, such as "grey hair", "grey sky", "grey clouds", "grey shirt", it also shows the mood that it creates. Let's read what Homer and Bart have to say about a new they saw on TV:

Homer: "Overbite Ton(y)'s court case is looking grey, so grey (when a situation is not looking good)!"

Homer: "It's the same court day after day, it's so grey (something is dull and boring)!"

Bart: "But the newspaper today describe Nina and Tony's relationship as one of an empress and a eunuch/ˈjuːnək/, that's not grey, that's new!"

Homer: "He's a éminence grise (someone without an official position who has power or influence over rulers or people who make decisions) for sure! A person with a mouse's grey matter (slang. a person's intelligence) can see that! Or Should I say, even Ned can see that!! Ha ha!!"

Bart: "Poor Nina, hard-earned grey pound (the money which all old people as a group have available to spend) is now the eunuch to spend."

Homer: "Na, there are still shades of grey (chances of uncertainty). Even if the law has a lot of grey areas (a situation which is not clear or where the rules are not known), I'm sure that JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED!! AND THE MONEY WILL GO INTO MY ACCOUNT AND I CAN BUY BEER, BEER AND MORE BEER!!! WHOOOOWHOOOO!!!!!!"

Bart: "Mum~~! Time to lock the fridge!"


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Wednesday 17 June 2009

Sports: Are "Ronaldos" always good at football?

Are "Ronaldos" always good at football? This is the question I have always been asking.
First, you have the famous R9, one of my favourite football players of all time, who could dribble pass the entire court of opponent players and score incredible goals.

See below:

Then came Ronaldinho, which means "small Ronaldo", who could (can?) do all sorts of magical moves and even volley the ball to hit the crossbar every time! (Many people think this is fake, but I'm quite sure it is real. There is something called the crossbar challenege ever since this video came out, and many other footballers have taken this challenge, and it is not all so special to see them hitting the crossbar often with the ball)

Then of course, came the handsome, super skillful and now-even-richer Cristiano Ronaldo, aka CR7, who got his name Ronaldo because then-US president Ronald Reagan was his father's favourite actor, "rewriting the history of football" with the record-breaking transfer fee of 80 million pounds from Manchester United to Real Madrid (record-breaking does not including the night with Paris Hilton, even though Paris's friend did say "(Paris Hilton) thinks he is sexy and exotic, and loves his body. And she loves men with accents. She says it's like an aphrodisiac.") .
Vocab time:
aphrodisiac noun[C], adj
something, usually a drug or food, which is believed to cause sexual desire in people

So, are they all so good at football because they are all named "Ronaldo"?

Maybe, maybe not, according to Wikipedia, the listed "Ronaldos" are mostly footballers with great success.

But the interesting thing is, what happens after great success? Take a look:

Ronaldo had sex with a transvestite:

Vocab time:
transvestite noun[C]
a person, especially a man, who wears the clothes of the opposite sex, often for sexual pleasure

Partying Ronaldinho:

Milan would consider Ronaldinho transfer request : quoting "Ronalinho has struggled since his move to Serie A from Barcelona in July and has only managed the bench recently".

Ronaldinho left out of Brazil squad : quoting "Off-form Ronaldinho was left out of Brazil's squad on Thursday for next month's World Cup qualifiers and the Confederations Cup."

Vocab time:
Off-form adj
oppose to On-form, meaning not to be in a good condition

All these "Ronaldos" have a common interest, PARTYING, now that CR7 is still on-form and we still manage to see world-class football skills, what will his future be? What will he become?

As a fan of his football skills, I hope he will do well. As no fan of his clubbing skills, I advise he focus on his career.

Maybe learn from Kaka, he is famous for being a Brazilian who does not party and for his model-husband role.


Why did I use "I advise he focus on his career" and not "I advise he focuses on his career"?

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Vocabulary: Suffix "-en"

I'm sure you all have the concept of what Prefixes and Suffixes are in English. Today I would like to stress on one particular suffix "-en" as it is not only widely used, it is also easy for us to remember and understand.

Suffix "-en" appears in many different words, one of the most widely used is in the Past participles:
seen, given, taken, bitten...

but the type I want to discuss is the type to do with the concept "make it + adj/noun". I like this one because I can easily write a formula:

Verb = adjective/noun + "en"

For example:
awaken = to cause sb to wake up
brighten = to cause sth to become brighter
broaden = to cause sth / sb's mind to become more broad
cheapen = to cause sth to become cheaper
coarsen = to cause sth to become coarser
dampen = to cause sth to become damper
darken = to cause sth to become darker
deepen = to cause sth to become deeper
fatten = to cause sth / sb to become fatter
flatten = to cause sth to become more flat
freshen = to cause sth to become more fresh
gladden = to cause sth /sb to become more glad
harden = to cause sth to become harder
hasten = to cause sth / sb to become faster
heighten = to cause sth /sb to become higher
lengthen = to cause sth to become longer
lessen = to cause sth to become lesser
lighten = to cause sth to become lesser / lighter
loosen = to cause sth to become looser
moisten = to cause sth to become more moist
neaten = to cause sth to become neater
quicken = to cause sth to become quicker
quieten = to cause sth to become quieter / calmer
ripen = to cause sth to become ripe
roughen = to cause sth to become rougher
sharpen = to cause sth to become sharper
shorten = to cause sth to become shorter
sicken = to cause sth to become sick / ill
slacken = to cause sth to become more loose and not tight
soften = to cause sth to become softer
steepen = to cause sth to become steeper
stiffen = to cause sth to become stiffer
straighten = to cause sth to become straighter
strengthen = to cause sth to become stronger
sweeten = to cause sth to become sweeter
thicken = to cause sth to become thicker
tighten = to cause sth to become tighter
toughen = to cause sth to become tougher
waken = to cause sth to become awake
weaken = to cause sth to become weaker
widen = to cause sth to become wider
worsen = to cause sth to become worse


Monday 15 June 2009

Blog & Investment: Paul Krugman's The Conscience of a Liberal

I am more of a web-researcher, knowledge-starver than I am of a blog reader. What I mean is that, I look for information, but I don't really get them from blogs.
The reason being, partially due to my ignorance and partially due to my narrow-mindedness, I don't know too many blogs which are focused enough in their aims (and in English).

Some blogs aim to share their personal feelings with friends (understandable), some aim to promote their latest songs and videos (practical), some aim to spread their views on politics and gain support (strategic), but not my cup of tea. I want to learn something when I am reading, and thus I will share with you the blog of Paul Krugman (winner of the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics), The Conscience of a Liberal.

I hope Dr. Krugman wouldn't mind my use of his blog logo here.
First of all, I have to say, I don't fully understand all the concepts that are discussed on his blog, but if you are truly interested in learning more about economics, you will get better as you read on.

I really find his short entries entertaining. In between the lines, you can see that Dr. Krugman is a person who knows his humour and he uses them at just the right amount. I like his "humour-in-sarcasm" and "truth-in-sarcasm" the most.

After reading his book, I know that he can really make understanding economics easy, and as we all know, making something look easy enhances the interests of learning. A great example can be found in his entry dated 9th Jun 2009, Dismal Hours, showing the diagram of the Aggregate Weekly Hour Index of the Total Private Industries plotting against Time.

What it actually indicates is very simple, that "the more hours people work, the better chance for the economy to recover". Year 2002 was the beginning of the last US recession, and it was marked at 100. So right now, the situation is a little worse than that time, and it is going down fast and shape, thus "the US data don’t even show stabilization, let alone recovery."[1]

So you see? It's not difficult to understand, isn't it?

Thank you Dr. Krugman!

He also posted some of his lecture notes on his blog!


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Thursday 11 June 2009

Vocabulary: Parallel Import / Grey Product

During the discussion in a lesson last Saturday, one of the groups came to me with a term that I have always wanted to know, but never remembered to look for, and what is that?

Let's guess, see how many tips do you need to reach the final answer:
  1. It has to do with shopping

  2. It comes in 2 types

  3. Both types are legal

  4. They are the same product

  5. Both types are sold in the same shop

  6. One type is cheaper than the other

  7. One type is all new, the other is mostly new but sometimes used

  8. They are sold outside normal distribution channels by companies which may have no relationship with the producer of the goods

  9. One buys the product where it is available cheaply, often at retail but sometimes at wholesale, and imports it legally to the target market

  10. They are mostly electronics suchs as cameras or mobile phones.

So do you know what I am talking about now? I'm referring to the parallel import or the grey products.
Do you own any? I do. Fancy a new iPhone 3GS, anyone? I don't.

Other terms to do with the grey products are:

Tariff -- is a duty imposed on foreign goods. They are usually associated with protectionism, the economic policy of restraining trade between nations.

Bootlegging -- usually refers to making, transporting and/or selling illegal alcoholic liquor or copyrighted material; the term originates from concealing flasks of alcohol in the legging of boots.

Question: What is the name of the product that is illegal called in English and what is the one you can buy from Broadway, Fortress or Gome called in English?


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Monday 8 June 2009

Movie: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Have you watched the first "Night at the Museum"back in 2006? I really like the first one as it gave me all new sensation about the boring museum. It is the truth that I hardly like visiting museum, and I don't find anything in it that can interest me for more than 5 minutes -- I was a come-and-goer, but if a museum could really become so alive like this one! It would be awesomely fun!

In the first movie, Ben Stiller couldn't find a decent job and had to settle for a night security guard position at the Museum of Natural History. The inexperienced watchman witnessed the chaos  of his lifetime, that the exhibits came to life after sun set. Characters who interested me most were Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Dexter (Crystal the monkey), Jedediah Smith (Owen Wilson), Octavius (Steve Coogan) and Sacajawea (Mizuo Peck).

In the sequel of this movie, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) started off as a successful CEO of his own company, but at the same time had lost his direction in life. In search for his direction once again, he received a news that his old friends, together with the Egyptian Gold Plate, in the Museum of Natural History were to be moved to the federal storage at the famous Washington Museums while the former was being renovated.  New characters like Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) , Napolean (Alain Chabat), Kah Mun Rah (Hank Azaria)  and the cute Cookie Monster from Seasame Street. However, due to the long list of characters, some of the prominent ones' roles had to be trimmed down which was rather sad for the fans. But overall, there were more to see, better actions and better computer graphics. 

I like the injection of the love line for Larry and Amelia -- a little love makes the whole a better place, and I favour the catchy arguments between Larry and Kah Mun Rah, lots of quotes from there! So overall, this is a movie to watch this Summer and it is one I would get for my blu-ray disc list (despite the fact that I still don't have a blu-ray player!!!Waiting for PS3 to cut price.)

The only thing that I hate is the cupids singing lame songs. Why would they be singing rap or Titanic theme songs?!!!!

PS: Do also check out the movie clips of Ben Stiller winning the MTV Generation Award at the bottom of this entry.

My favourite quotes:
Larry Daley: I'm sorry. Last time I checked, I thought we lived in a free country. So... 
Brandon: No, we don't. 
Larry Daley: No? 
Brandon: It's the United States of "Don't Touch That Thing Right in Front of You."

Kah Mun Rah: [dramatically] I have come back to life! 
Larry Daley: No, I heard that. I got that. Welcome back. 

Kah Mun Rah: [Confronting Vader] 
Kah Mun Rah: Is that you breathing? Because I can't hear myself think! There's too much going on here; you're asthmatic, you're a robot. And why the cape? Are we going to the opera? I don't think so.

Official Website


Thursday 4 June 2009

Science & Technology : Hydrogen Future


Using wind and solar power, NASA plans to produce fuel for a hydrogen-powered Cleveland bus to demonstrate what may be an ultimate in renewable energy.

Thinking about clean fuel like I do?

Natural gas, petroleum, coal are out due to the carbon dioxide (CO2) they emit during combustion. Solar power (energy from sun), hydropower such as tidal power and wave power, and wind power are among my favourite ones because they cause no greenhouse gases, but they next level, is definitely the eco-friendly hydrogen power!!!

Hydrogen is a gas lighter than air, exists in a huge amount on our planet in the form of water (H2O). During the combustion of hydrogen in air, it will release a great amount of energy together with and only water. Because of this, "some environmentalists believe a hydrogen economy could greatly reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and therefore play a major role in tackling global warming." [1]

I wish this day will come sooner! How I wish to breathe fresh air even when I am standing behind a heavy trunk or dirty lorry!

If hydrogen is so great, then why haven't we been using it all along? The reason lies in the practicality of the production:


"Hydrogen must first be broken out from its compound form with oxygen as water (H2O) using electrolysis or gathered by other means as it does not naturally occur by itself. Hydrogen cannot be mined or drilled as with fossil fuels and requires more energy input to produce it than is generated with its combustion." [2]

In simple words, it means that it will take more energy producing hydrogen than the energy hydrogen will produce later. Metaphorically I put it, it is like spending $100 to make $90. (Do you know why this is the case?)

So it was both practically and economically unbeneficial, but not anymore!!!

From Discovery News, "The project, spearheaded by NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, would use power produced by a windmill and solar energy cells to run a machine called an electrolyzer that splits water molecules into its base elements of hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen, in turn, would be used as fuel for specially-equipped buses."[3]

Don't believe it? Watch it for yourself!!!! Click here!!

And the economical benefits? 
"The idea is that you'd stimulate jobs for the community by folks learning how to build these devices, how to operate them and also what you could use hydrogen for," said Valerie Lyons, a program manger at NASA Glenn. "Maybe people would make forklifts and other small vehicles that run off hydrogen, or convert gasoline-powered cars.
"There's a lot of things that could simulate the economy with different types of jobs spinning off from the hydrogen economy."[4]

Still driving the old dusty money-eating dudes? Think green! Think cheap! Think clean! Say "Aloha!" to the new hydrogen era!!!!!

Monday 1 June 2009

Idioms: Nit-picker


Do you know anyone who is picky?

If someone set a higher standard than yours, and you think that is asking too much, we call them the nit-pickers.

You see the picture on the left? That is a louse (plural "lice"), and nit is the egg from this very tiny little insect, which appears on the body of your pet cats and dogs, or maybe even inside your bed or clothes, etc. Since louse is already so small, its nits are even more microscopic. Thus a nit-picker is a person nobody likes to work with because they are "trying to pick bones inside the eggs" as the Chinese put it.

Examples includes:
1) Monkey

2) Children

3) Parents

4) Old men

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