23 Aug

show one the ropes

Who taught: Lujo

learn the ropes

learn the ropes (source: http://www.sailbaltimore.org/learn-the-ropes/)

Every summer, I co-advise two Practicum projects which last 9 weeks. It is fun, working with bright students and other faculty members to solve very interesting and unique real-world problems. This summer, I worked with Jeff and Lujo. It was Lujo’s first time to be involved in advising these types of projects. Over the time, we have discussed and learned a lot from each other. It was great working with him. Yesterday was the last day of those projects and the team we advised won the third prize. I was happy as much as the students in the team were. Unfortunately, Lujo was not able to be there to witness the final presentation and the award announcement due to some conflicts. I am sure he would be very happy to see it.

So, I emailed him as soon as the announcement was made to let him know that the team won the third prize. In his response, he used the following sentence, “Thanks for showing me the ropes.” 

From the context, I was able to understand what he meant but that was my first time to see this expression.

Well, if I were to ask you about what you think, you would also be able to get it, I guess. As usual, I decided to dig more into about the expression. Like many other expressions, this one is of nautical origin. In the old sailing days, there were so many ropes and any new recruit needed to learn how to tie knots and which rope to control to perform a specific action, etc.

With that said, there are three major expressions to remember.

1. learn the ropes

2. know the ropes

3. show one the ropes

Here is an easy way to remember these, at least for me.

I, as an experienced employee who knows the ropes in the organization, need to show a new employee the ropes so that he/she can learn the ropes and eventually knows the ropes himself/herself.

How is it? Easy, isn’t it? I feel like each one of the ropes in the picture here is a new English expression to learn. It never ends. So, good luck with learning the ropes and hope I can show you the ropes.

P.S. : I realize that I did write another post about “learn the ropes” but did not get to know “show one the ropes” at that time.

16 Apr

dressed to the nines

Who taught: Tami

dress to the nines

dress to the nines

A few weeks ago, it was Easter. In Korea, people do celebrate but not as a family. Some people go to churches, participating some events.

On Easter, people here not only go to churches but also spend a day or two together with their family. In fact, if anyone goes to a church once a year, Easter would be it. Also, when they go, they dress really well. I remember I did not wear a suit on my first Easter in the U.S. and I was embarrassed by all of the other people at the chapel because they all looked really nice.

Now that I am talking about dressing well, let me introduce a new expression I learned from Tami the other day. I am so thankful that I have friends who are willing to spend some time to teach me and discuss with me those expressions.

She sent an email to me, “Here is a new one for you. Dress to the nines.”

As usual, I tried hard to think about what it would mean but could not think of any good definition of this expression. Can you? What do you think it means?

So, I wrote down, “dress to the 99999999999999999999999”

What the heck this would mean? Why nine? What about 8 or 7?

Every time I think about these expressions, I do some extensive researches and this time Tami helped me out. Out of a few different ones, I personally like this one because it is simple and makes me to remember this expression better.

Well, nine is considered the perfect number – in numerology, etc – so, 9 could be used to mean dress really nicely.

So, I just gave you the definition of the expression. I guess people dress to the nines on Easter here in the U.S.

In addition to that, here is another one Tami told me.

When I was young…er…- my Mom, who is English – used this phrase regularly – when I would attend some pageant functions, I would ask her opinion on what to wear – she has great fashion sense- and she would suggest getting “dressed to the hilt!!

Tami also told me that “dressed to the hilt” originated from the United Kingdom when on formal royal occasions, royalties and other monarchies wore Court Dress with gilt hilt” ; so when they say , you are dressed to the hilt, it means you are dressed like royalty ready to attend a royal occasion – in short, you are well dressed.

Aha… awesome to know these ones. I will use this expression on Easter next year to my friends. “Hey, I dressed to the hilt today. Do you like my suit?”

You should try too. Now, my next question is “Can I dress to the eights?” I think my usual dress code is “dressed to the ones.” 🙂

Oh.. I almost forgot. How about your wedding? You did dress to the nines and nine.nines? Right?

23 Mar

hershey squirts

Who taught: Max


squirts a water pistol

Do you like chocolate? I do. Also, I live in Pennsylvania. What is a big deal of living in PA?

Well, I am very sure that you all have ever eaten some chocolates from Hershey’s. There is a town called Hershey in PA where the company has its headquarter. I am not sure what is first, the town or the company? I have never been to it which is a shame. I really should. Maybe, sometime this year.

Let me shift gears! A few weeks ago, my dog, Max, ate four hard-boiled eggs while we were not around. Do you guys know that guilty look that dogs have when they did something wrong? I saw that on that day. Personally, I think it is dog’s poker face. “What could go wrong? He got bunch of protein. That should be good for him.” That’s what I thought.

But, that evening, he had diarrhea. Gross!

Here is the question! What is the connection between hershey and diarrhea? Take a moment to think about it. Hope you are not reading this while eating something. 🙂

So….. did you get it? That’s right. They have the same color. While writing, I am having some chocolates. Yummy!

There is the last touch to come up with a perfect expression to mean diarrhea. We cannot just say “hershey” to mean diarrhea.

Now, time to think about how things come out of your body when you are experiencing diarrhea. Well, I saw that from Max. It squirts. The best way you can remember the word, “squirt,” is to think about water coming out from a water pistol. Isn’t it perfect? Look at the picture I added here. Can you get it?

What else you can do other than combining “hershey” (color) and “squirts” (action) to mean diarrhea? This is a pure perfection. Someone was a genius.

Here is your task to do: From now on, try to use “hershey squirts” when you have outbreaks of diarrhea.

P.S.: I have always had a hard time to spell “diarrhea” correctly. How about you? Don’t you think it is hard to spell?

08 Nov


Who taught: Julie and Ari



I forgot when exactly Julie, Ari and I talked about this expression, brat, but I do remember that it was related with children.

Do you have children? Well I do not. If you do, then I really hope this expression has nothing to do with you.

Sometimes, some children do something we really do not like such as crying and yelling to get what they want. Even worse, they would never stop till they get what they want. I know….That is really annoying, right? Arghhh…

I have seen those kids in shopping malls or grocery stores, etc. So hard to control. What a troublesome! Don’t get me wrong. I know I am in no position to talk about kids but it is not pleasant for me to see those kids, to be honest.

So, what is one word to describe them? It is “brat.” Some people say, “army brat,” because some kids whose parents are in the Army may develop that kind of obnoxious behaviors. That would be just a prejudice but I want to tell you that it is what people think and say.

Another interesting thing is that brat also means “apron.” What is the connection between apron and a bad child? I have no idea. Do you?

Also, there is an article about how to find out whether your child is a brat or not. Check this out! Hope yours is not.

In Korea, there is an expression, “날라리(Nal-La-Ri).” This means those kids who do not study really hard and do those things people ask not to do. I wonder whether “brat” is the word that I can use to describe those kids, Nal-La-Ri. It does not feel like it.

Can you help me, my American friends, to find the proper word for it? I am curious.

31 Oct


Who taught: Jessy and Ashka



Hey there! How have you been? I really wish all of you are doing well. Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast of the U.S. and a lot of people are without power now. Hope my friends are fine there.

I live in Pittsburgh, PA. A few weeks ago, Jessy and I were taking a walk and we talked about things we are missing, living in a small city. So, Pittsburgh is still a city with around 300,000 people. But, to me, that is nothing. Why? it is because I am from one of the cities near Seoul, Korea and my previous work was in Seoul.

The population of Seoul itself is around 11 million and if we consider the metropolitan area, the population is around 25 million. It is a huge city. To give you an idea about how big it is, it is bigger than New York City. There are a lot of things we used to enjoy, especially at night. Don’t get me wrong. We do like Pittsburgh a lot.

So, the thing we talked about is that it is very different living in Pittsburgh from living in Seoul. When we used to live in Seoul, we call people from small cities or towns “Chon-Nom(촌놈)” in Korean. “What is Chon-Nom in English? What people call people from rural areas in the U.S.?”

Jessy and I did some researches and found this word, “hillbilly.” Let me guess its etymology! I think this is referring to a person whose name is bill (one of the most common names just like Joe) and who lives on a hill. How perfect is it? Hope my guess is correct.

Anyway, after that conversation, I thought I would remember it. But, I forgot.

Luckily, Ashka posted the picture that you see here on her facebook timeline. Wow! Wow! It was a moment of eureka for me. Thank you, Ashka, for posting this because this totally refreshed my memory. And, of course, I do need to thank Hillary and Bill Clinton. Than you guys! Because of you guys, now I feel pretty confident that I will remember this word.

What do you think? Actually, if you yourself are a hillbilly, then you should totally know this word. Hey, after all, I could consider myself as a hillbilly too. Pittsburgh is a small city. One may argue this but at least to me this is true. 🙂