Monday, 27 February 2012

Message: Locky's 1st Chiropractor Visit 2012

Image from keller chiropractor

April 2009 went to visit chiropractor once, maybe went there a couple of times in 2010, then February 2011 went another time, today, I'm going back again.

This time, I guess it is one of the post-symptoms of the fever I had last Friday midnight (the other symptoms are super painful sore throat, unlimited supply for phlegm during sleep, sleep sweats, cough, sleeplessness). And also, I think my spine is very messed up, so it is time for maintenance.

Night Sweat
Image from thehealthmagic
Anyway, I'm not in a good shape for research today, not to mention I have to rush for my assignment deadlines.

Hope I can get better after the treatment today.

For my recommendation of chiropractor, see the two links below.

phlegm -- (n)[U] a thick substance in your nose and throat that is produced especially when you have a cold
sleep sweat -- (n)[C] or sleep hyperhidrosis, is the occurrence of excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) during sleep.


Health and Fitness: Chiropractor @ Locky's English Playground

Message: Locky's Neck Has Problems Again! @ Locky's English Playground

Friday, 24 February 2012

Speaking: A Story Of My Learning

Article 4 on Singtao Student Page:

An anecdote of my learning experience -- my doubts and enlightenment.
This is how I learn
Image from

When I wrote the first entry of my blog, Locky's English Playground, I put the following quote just beneath the blog title, "Languages are tunnels that lead to the worlds of infinite knowledge -- Locky", in other words, languages are tools for us to gain knowledge. This may be common sense, but truly understanding the essence of it cost me years of time.

Some students in schools consider learning English boring, I agree, because that was exactly what I used to feel. Dully spelling words and getting the grammar correct will not make the learning experience meaningful, we have to go beyond knowing English language itself. It is only fun to learn a language if one will eventually make meanings out of it. An easy question to ask ourself is, "What can I do with English if I am good at it?"

I did not like reading news when I was in schools. I always kept in mind, "Why should I like it? It will not do anything good to me!" No matter how my teachers made me subscribe to news magazines and how many reading periods went by, I just could not find any meanings in knowing about wars and politics. I was still a school kid!

But then, meanings slowly appeared when I started teaching.

At that time, experienced English teachers in my workplace memorised English grammar so well that given any unit numbers, they could recite the entire grammar lesson . On the other than, some new Caucasian teachers knew little about grammar, but students enjoyed talking to them because these teachers knew about their home countries better than anyone else. There had to be something more than just learning English, I supposed.

Following the school's guidelines, I taught my very first week of classes and I was already bored to death. I thought to myself, "I like grammar, but how can I not feel bored doing the same things over and over again?" It was then I began to go online and explore the world of knowledge on my desktop computer.

I selected some topics which I found fun and intriguing from the internet, merged it into my lessons, and the responses from my students were remarkable! Since then, I have continuously expanded my circle of interest and my knowledge has grown exponentially.

For me, I enjoy the feeling of knowing anything and relevance is the key to my interest in learning.

Looking back, I wish my teachers in my schools had at least told me how to build interests in news, or anything such as maths and science, rather than telling me to repeatedly read them. Had I known the fun and joy of knowing, I would have collected much more amazing knowledge in my brain.

When I was training my students for oral examinations, many of them possess common knowledge, but few have actual substance. Student must have quality knowledge in order to impress the examiners, or as a matter of fact, to mature as a human being in the long run.

Although Locky's English Playground on Singtao Daily has only lasted 4 weeks, my blog is always online. If you would like to learn more about everything through English, do visit Locky's English Playground at or simply Google it.

I will see you there, thrice a week. Have fun with English! Goodbye (to my Singtao readers) for now!

anecdote -- (n) [C] a short often funny story, especially about something someone has done
enlightenment -- (n) [U] the state of understanding something
beneath -- (prep) in or to a lower position than, under
dully -- (adv) not interesting or exciting in any way; boring
to death -- until you die
intriguing -- (adj) very interesting because of being unusual or mysterious
remarkable -- (adj) unusual or special and therefore surprising and worth mentioning
exponentially -- (adj) formal describes a rate of increase which becomes quicker and quicker as the thing that increases becomes larger
relevance -- (n)  [U] (also relevancythe degree to which something is related or useful to what is happening or being talked about
as a matter of fact -- as a matter of fact (also in (actual) factused to add emphasis to what you are saying, or to show that it is the opposite of or different from what went before
in the long run -- at a time that is far away in the future

Fun Tasks For You:

  1. Sit together with a group of friends or classmates and share your learning timeline, focus on what are the most successful and unsuccessful in your past learning experience.
  2. Ask yourself,  "What can I do with English if I am good at it?"
  3. Ask yourself,  "What do I enjoy learning and knowing?"
  4. Once you have the answer for question 2 and 3, start to focus on achieving your goal.
Third Conditional -- an unreal situation; something which cannot be changed any more because it has already happened, to express regrets or past possibilities
if + past perfect --- would have + past participle

  1. If I had practised more speaking, I would have passed the oral examination.
  2. Had I practised more speaking, I would have passed the oral examination. (Variant of 1)
  3. Had I known the fun and joy of knowing, I would have collected much more amazing knowledge in my brain. (Because I didn't know, so I did not collect those amazing knowledge)
  4. If I had not decided to make a change, I could have lived a boring life teaching repetitive lessons. (Notice the use of "not" and "could")

Locky's English Playground

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

News & Science: Science News Digest (22nd Feb)

Silene stenophylla after 30,000 years
Image from BBC News
Most amazing news in science today, is the discovery of a 30,000-year-old seed which has grown into a beautiful plant!!!

Woolly mammoth
Image from Wikipedia
According to BBC news, "The fruit was found in the banks of the Kolyma River in Siberia, a top site for people looking for mammoth bones"

If mammoths also lived there, maybe there are some freshly frozen mammoth DNAs!!

They have Siberian flower, China has 300-million-year-old fossilised Chinese Pompeii! Many times older than the one reported in BBC. The difference is, you can't grow the latter.

Lab beef
Image from BBC News
Then another news from the BBC, meat from animals aren't going to be enough for human consumption, and so we now have to move on to lab-grown beef! Although this sounds disgusting and I do not really want to try it, I don't think it is dangerous to eat, since in the lab, scientists can really control every gene in order to maintain its cleanliness. Any possible cancer-causing cells which might appear in the natural beef can be removed or not even produced during the process. If the technology is mature enough, it might just be the safest beef on Earth for consumption!

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter detected tectonic activity
within the last 50 million years
Image from Discovery News

Next on Discovery News, the moon behaves just like our Earth, with magma, earthquakes and tectonic plate movements! We call it earthquakes, and on the moon, it will naturally be called "moonquake", sounds like "mooncake". Anyway, scientists can't be sure if the movements are still happening now or has come to a halt millions of years ago. I would be thrilled to know that it is still moving like our Earth does should that be confirmed one day.
Image from Wikipedia
Talking about the moon, when watching the Bollywood (from Bombay + Hollywood) movie 3 Idiots, the professor had a line saying something like, "Everybody remembers the first man on the moon, who will remember the second?" So I want to be that person who knows it, and here's my answer.
Buzz Lightyear
Image from drjeffadams
The first man on the moon is of course, Neil Armstrong, the second man on the moon, 20 minutes later than the first, is Buzz, not the one above, but the one below, on the right, Buzz Aldrin; Steve Jobs might just know how important the second person on the moon can be as much as the first. So I guess now, you will never forget.
The Apollo 11 crew portrait.
Neil Armstrong(left) , Buzz Aldrin.(right), Michael Collins (middle)
Image from Wikipedia
Do you remember what Neil Armstrong's famous quote is when he first stepped on the moon?

That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. -- Neil Armstrong

Beautifully said, but the English grammarians did not let him go with his grammatical mistakes. There should have been an "a" to be grammatically correct, so it should have been,

That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind. -- Neil Armstrong

And the funny thing is, Neil said he did that on purpose, an Australian programmer said Neil actually did say an "a" but it was disrupted by the poor receptions at that time. You can listen to it yourself using the link below.

For me, an English teacher, I would say, does it matter? It was the best moment of man / mankind and no one had ever been on such a dreamland, couldn't Neil Armstrong be over-excited that he made a simple harmless grammatical hiccup? Why can't these grammarians just embrace the beauty of his words?

And lastly, guess what this is going to be?
Image from ibtimes
Very iconic? Isn't it? An adaptation of Neil Armstrong's words. When is it coming?

This will make Rovio big money... again!!!

mammoth -- (n)[C] is any species of the extinct genus Mammuthus, proboscideans commonly equipped with long, curved tusks and, in northern species, a covering of long hair.
fossilize -- (adj) to become a fossil
tectonic --  (adj) specialized relating to the structure of the surface of the Earth and the way it is formed, changed and moved by forces inside it
thrilled -- (adj) extremely pleased
Bollywood -- (n) [U] from Bombay + Hollywood,  informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), Maharashtra, India. The term is often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; it is only a part of the total Indian film industry, which includes other production centers producing films in regional languages.
hiccup -- (n)[C usually plural] a loud noise made in the throat caused by a sudden uncontrollable tightening of a muscle just below the chest, usually happening repeatedly over a short period
embrace -- (vb) [T] formal to accept something enthusiastically
iconic -- (adj) formal very famous or popular, especially being considered to represent particular opinions or a particular time
adaptation -- (n) [U] the process of changing to suit different conditions

Ancient plants back to life after 30,000 frozen years @ BBC News

Lab-grown meat is first step to artificial hamburger @ BBC News

300-million-year-old 'Chinese Pompeii' found buried under volcanic ash @ The Christian Science Monitor

Antibiotic-Resistant MRSA in Livestock May Spread to Humans @ ABC News


Angry Birds Space Launch March 22: New Birds, Super Powers, Zero Gravity and Many More @ International Business Times

Neil Armstrong @ Wikipedia

Angry Birds Space - Teaser #1 @ YouTube

Monday, 20 February 2012

Photography: ND Filters & Photography

Recently, I am fascinated by photos such as the following ones!
Image from Serious Amateur Photography

Stunning, aren't they? They are not fake, they are genuine photos taken with real cameras. You may ask, then how come my iPhone and compact cameras cannot take such photos? Well, in fact, they may just be able to take photos like these, but first, you will need to set them to a long shutter speed (from 0.5 seconds to 30 seconds, or even longer depends on the amount of light you need) and something which is called an ND Filter, or Neutral Density Filter.
Effect of an ND Filter on a photo in bright daylight
Image from Wikipedia

Basically, what this filter does is to limit the amount of light that can pass through the lens, so as to buy you more time to expose the sensor / film to the image, creating that smooth silky fog for the moving object.

An ND filter is to a camera lens what a pair of sunglasses is to a human. (Peter Hill, 2010.)

Since the last time Chase Jarvis used an ND filter on a Lego camera, I was already curious to find out more as to what this filter can do. Searching through the web and I found some amazing photos like the ones in this entry.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L II Lens at 35mm with Hoya ND x400 Filter, ISO 50, 160 seconds at f8, single RAW file.
Caption and image by Peter Hill

When taking photos of moving water, it will look like milk or fine white silk.
Image from north lake photography
There are many levels or optical density of ND Filters, and each will offer different amount of lights to pass through, thus creating different effects.

Image from evolving beauty
The biggest problem is, ND Filters are really expensive!!! Each filter ranges from $200 to $2000 easily, if your camera lenses have different lens diameters, then you need to buy even more! Bankruptcy won't not far away. Then again, because Peter Hill said ND Filters are just sunglasses for cameras, can sunglasses be used instead of ND Filters? Or are there ways to DIY? Turns out that I am not the first one to think about this.
Image from Wikipedia
Many websites offer the use of a piece of welding glass (a piece of glass used to protect the eyes when welding) instead of an ND Filter, because welding glass is cheap (around US$3, and HK$4 a piece according to my students Alan) and also comes with different "darkness", it allows the users to choose how silky they want for their photos.

Photography Matters suggests glueing the glass to the lens,
Glued to a filter
Image from Photography Matters
But I prefer to use Electric Arc's method for interchangeability,
Welding glass rubber-banded on len hood
Image from Electric Arc
Adding cloth to prevent light from leaking in
Image from Electric Arc
One thing you need to pay attention to is that photos taken with a welding glass as ND Filter will most probably look green, so you will need to reset your White Balance, but once that is done, your photos should look alright.
Image from funadium
Here are some photos taken by Wild World using a welding glass.
Welding glass as ND Filter
Image from Wild World
Welding glass as ND Filter
Image from Wild World
If you can't even get hold of welding glass from local hardware stores, you can try this Magic Cloth Method introduced by Alex Wise Photography.
Magic Cloth Method
Image from Alex Wise Photography
  1. set up your camera on a tripod
  2. use long exposure time
  3. meter the image in your camera around 2 stops over exposed when using the technique to get the best possible exposure. 
  4. begin by starting the exposure and covering the lens with the object. 
  5. over time, gradually move the object up (towards the sky or the top of the frame). 

As a result, the slower you move your cloth up, the darker the covered part of the image is.
Photo taken using the Magic Cloth Method
Image from Alex Wise Photography
Alex Wise also has some extremely detailed tutorials for taking waterfalls and a guide to long exposure with step-by-step photos for you to compare, even beginners can understand. Highly recommended!

Longer shutter speeds can be achieved by using a low ISO setting, shooting at a relatively high f-stop (f.16-32) or by introducing filters such as neutral density filters or circular polarisers. 
-- Alex Wise

For the most technical details on ND Filters, do visit Peter Hill's The Ultimate Guide To Neutral Density Filters.

I'll try it and post some photos here once I have succeeded.

ND Filter / Neutral Density Filter -- (n)[C] a neutral density filter or ND filter can be a colorless (clear) or grey filter. An ideal neutral density filter reduces and/or modifies intensity of all wavelengths or colors of light equally, giving no changes in hue of color rendition.
hardware store -- (n)[C] sometimes known as DIY stores, sell household hardware including: fasteners, hand tools, power tools, keys, locks, hinges, chains, plumbing supplies, electrical supplies, cleaning products, housewares, tools, utensils, paint, and lawn and garden products directly to consumers for use at home or for business.


ND Filter @ Wikipedia

Hardware Store @ Wikipedia

Welding @ Wikipedia

Photography & Websites: Chase Javis With Lego Camera & Fujifilm X100 @ Locky's English Playground

Frankenfilter @ Photography Matters

Electric Arc @ Flickr

Wild World @ Alan Wild

The Magic Cloth Technique - DIY Graduated Neutral Density Filter @ Alex Wise Photography

How to Photograph Waterfalls - Tutorial @ Alex Wise Photography

Guide to Daytime Long Exposures @ Alex Wise Photography

The Ultimate Guide To Neutral Density Filters @ Peter Hill

Friday, 17 February 2012

Learning Method & Vocabulary: Post-Valentine's Sugar & Sweet

Article 3 on Singtao Student Page:

Valentine's Day has ended but learning has just begun. This week, I will share with you a memorisation method and some new words.

Sugar is all sugar and spice to Gingy
Image from
Dear lovely readers, hope you and your parents had an excellent Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day is a day of  "sugar and sweets" and thus everyone deserves to have their share of loving moments, if you still have not had the time to celebrate this marvellous day, you had better make it up to your love ones this weekend or Sunday.

As for me, Valentine's Day has not only offered me a reason to love, but a cue to learn. This time, I am interested in words to do with "sugar" and "sweet" in love and relationships.

One of the memory techniques I love to use after looking up new words in a dictionary is to create examples which I find easy to remember, funny or ridiculous ones work best for me -- I call this Memorisation By Examples (MBE). Its effectiveness, like all memory techniques, depends on individuals. However, it is worth a try. If MBE works for you,  at the end of the day you will be able to recall the words and meanings easily for writing and speaking.

Here are some scenarios I have created:
Sugar-coated gum drops
Image from

Jane: Why this promise you've just made sounds sugar-coated?
John: Coz it IS a trap and I want you to fall for it.

John: Jane, I'm sorry, I've made a tiny little scratch on your favourite painting.
Jane: Don't sugar the pill! What's the damage?
John: Well, actually, I cut it into 2 halves ...

Jane: I can be sugar and spice to my boyfriend.
John: You? Sugar and spice? I would be vomiting hard if I were him.

Jane: I cooked you your favourite Carbonara for dinner tonight?
John: Sweet!!!

Jane: Have you ever told a sweet lie?
John: No, but here's one, "I love you!"
Jane: I hate you!

Jane: Don't you ever think you can sweet-talk me into trusting you!
John: Well, how about the fact that you let me marry you 10 years ago!

Jane: I bet those two over there are saying sweet-nothings to each other.
John: No, they can never talk romantic, they are brother and sister, says on their Tee-shirts.
Sweet Tooth
Image from deviantart

John: Why do all women have sweet-tooth?
Jane: Coz men aren't sweet enough and so we need to help ourselves with sugary food to stay happy.

John: I'm so sorry! How can I make you happy again?
Jane: If you want to keep me sweet, start by flushing the toilet after use!!!

John: Jane is sweet on all Disney products and her room is packed with them.

John: My childhood was full of bittersweet memories... I was naughty, dad punished me, and then mum punished dad, and I laughed at him every time!

Fun Tasks For You:
  1. Try think of a funny or ridiculous example for "silver tongue" or "silver-tongued".
  2. From now on, whenever you see a word which you think is worth memorising but is very difficult to memorise, try this MBE technique.
  3. Pick any word such as "tongue" or "heart" and see how many related words or idioms there are.

Suggested answer for last week's Fun Tasks: Which words have the same pronunciation as "Q"?
  • cue and queue

Discussion Questions:

  1. With your classmates, share some useful memorisation techniques and discuss their effectiveness.
  2. How many students in your class will need to memorise anything these days? What are they?
  3. The advancement of technology is helping us memorise lesser and lesser. Is that good or bad? Discuss with examples.
  4. Discuss the benefits of practising memorisation, give examples.

had better
Had better actually refers to the immediate future and does not involve the past in any sense. It is a strong advice for someone and it is stronger than should and ought.

  1. You had better stop playing smartphone games!
  2. You had better not whistle at that dog! (note the position of not)
  3. You'd better get out of your bed and get dressed for school now!!!! (note the 'd)

Compound verbs and nouns such as sweet-talk and sweet tooth are stressed on the first part of the word whereas adjectives such as sugar-coated and bittersweet are stressed on the second part of the word. However, there are always many exceptions in any languages and learners should take special attention to the pronunciation of each word while looking up words in a dictionary.

make it up to sb -- to do something good for someone you have upset, in order to become friends with them again
cue -- (n) [C] a signal for someone to do something
sugar-coated -- (adj) disapproving An announcement or promise that is sugar-coated is intended to seem positive or pleasant, although in fact it will result in something unpleasant or unacceptable.
sugar and spice -- If you describe someone, especially a woman or a girl, as being sugar and spice, you mean that they are behaving in a kind and friendly way
sugar the pill -- UK (US sweeten the pillto make something bad seem less unpleasant
sweet -- (adj) (informal) Very good; pleasant; agreeable.
sweet lie -- (n) [C] When someone who doesn't truthly have interest in you makes you fall hard for them and you end up with a broken heart. 
sweet-talk -- (vb) [T] informal to talk to someone in a pleasing or clever way in order to persuade them to do or believe something
sweet-nothings -- (plural n) humorous romantic and loving talk
sweet-tooth -- (n)[S] If you have a sweet tooth, you like eating sweet foods, especially sweets and chocolate.
keep sb sweet -- to try to keep someone satisfied and pleased with you
be sweet on sb/sth -- old-fashioned informal to like someone / something very much in a romantic way
bittersweet -- (adj) containing a mixture of sadness and happiness
silver-tongued -- (adj) literary If you are silver-tongued, you speak in a way that charms or persuades people.


Adam Sandler Sweet on 'Candy Land' for Sony @ Reuters

Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, Oxford