01 Dec

cut corners

Who taught: Eric Goldman

facebook and privacy (source: http://www.p2pnet.net/)

One of the things that I regularly do to improve my English is reading newspapers. What I mean by “read”? I mostly read aloud unless I am in a public place like an atrium or a coffee shop.

You should definitely try to read aloud as often as you can. From my experience, it gives me a chance to not only remember words better but also pronounce them correctly with proper intonation.

Two days ago, I was reading an article of the NY Times which is about Facebook’s settlement with FTC for its privacy issue. In the article, Eric Goldman who is a law professor said, “Facebook repeatedly cuts corners when it comes to its privacy promises.” Cut corners? Does not sound good but what does it exactly mean? These were the questions that came to my mind.

Painting was the first thing that I thought of as soon as I saw this expression, cut corners. Why? When I was painting the master bedroom of my house, I was so tired that I wanted to skip painting corners. People would not really pay attention to see corners, right? Besides, it gets trickier to paint corners. To sum it up, if I cut corners, I feel like I am doing a sloppy work.

Luckily, my first impression was pretty close. Here is what it means:

Do something in easiest, quickest or cheapest way. It also implies circumvention of standard procedures or something ill-advised or even illegal.

Eric is saying that Facebook has not been really careful or tried not to follow good and thorough procedures to protect users’ privacy. What do you think? I think I have to agree with him. As a Facebook user, I have felt that some of the changes or modifications they have made did not satisfy my expectation in terms of protecting my privacy.

Oh… you do not want to cut corners when you paint. Who knows? Later when you want to sell the house, you may regret.

05 Jan

got hosed

Who taught: Eric

Hosed (source: http://www.zazzle.com.au/)

Living in the U.S., every day and every moment is pretty much full of surprises. You should be really ready to hear and learn all of the new expressions that are not in any traditional dictionary at all. If you and your American friend who knows that you are a non-native English speaker are the only ones having a conversation, I can guarantee you would not hear those things. But, when you are one of many people and most of them are native English speakers, then there are surprises. If you are not physically in a country where there are bunch of native speakers, the best way you could hear these kinds of expressions is watching TV shows. One of the recent shows I would strongly recommend is 30 Rock. Also, I like watching Outsourced. It has very interesting stories about cultural shock and learning languages.

Let me talk about one of the experiences from which I heard a total new expression I had a few days ago. I am not sure I have ever told this but I love playing soccer. Well, apparently, I am a Korean. Korean people are in love with soccer. Every Monday, I play soccer with people whom I met in a league. Two days ago, I was there too. There were so many people so that many of us had to wait for a turn to play. Two people who came before me got into the game and it was finally my turn. As one guy who was playing came out, another person besides me suddenly got in before me. Well, it was too late for me to ask him to come out. So, I decided to wait for the next turn. At that moment, Eric said to me, “Terry! You just got hosed. You should just stick your nose in.”

I knew what he meant from the context. Especially, “sticking your nose in” part was easy. But, what the heck is “got hosed?” I have tried to find etymology of this expression out but no success yet. There is one scenario I can guess though. Hose itself means a flexible tube conveying water or other liquid. It could also be a verb to mean spray water with a hose. Thus, if someone hose you, then you will get wet which you do not really like unless it is really hot and that is what you want, right? Hey, my American friends! What do you think about my guess here? Am I right? For some reason, I have a bad feeling about this expression too. Sounds kind of dirty. Is my mind in the gutter?!? 🙂

More simply, “got hosed” is the same thing as “got screwed.” As I said in previous posts, it is easy to say, “OK.. that is easy. I think I know that expression now.” But, I would like to challenge you here. How many times do you think you would ever use this expression in the proper context? Why don’t you count it? That would be fun and it could motivate you to try to remember them to be able to use them later. Having said that, I just remembered one quote I heard from Today show. “People are goal-oriented. If there is a goal, there is a higher chance to achieve things. So, set your goal. The more specific a goal is, the better it is.”

Getting back to my story…. Funny thing is I got really hosed on that day. Why? Because I got injured. Maybe, Eric’s saying was foreshadowing?  🙁

15 Dec

come hell or high water

Who taught: Andrew and Eric

Come hell or high water (source: http://www.noiset.com/)

It is 8:40 am on Dec 15, 2010 (Wed). According to weather.com, it is 16°F (-9°C). But, there is another degree you need to look at when it comes to the current temperature. It is “feels-like” degree which is the degree people really feels like because of wind, etc. Current feels-like degree in Pittsburgh is 2°F (-17°C). To sum it up, it is fre*king cold now. But, I am happy. Do you know why? At least, there is not that much snow yet compared to the last year.

Wait for a sec! Jessy wants me to cut some bread for breakfast…………………. OK, I am back.

Every monday, I play soccer with some people in the league I am in. To get to the indoor sports complex, people need to drive. (Oh! You do know that you need a car in the U.S., right? It is not an option. Without a car, life is so much harder. In Korea, I did not need a car. There are so many places I could go and so many things I could do without a car. But, that is not the case in the U.S. I mean, at least, in PGH.) Starting from last Sunday, there was a winter storm affecting PGH area. Knowing that, one of my soccer friends, Eric, sent an email Monday morning to all of the players, saying, “Hey, guys, I will be there come hell or high water!”  He actually misspelled it to “cone hell or high water” and the other people teased him, saying “I will bring cones. Don’t worry, Eric!”

Even though I do not really like this expression, I believe you would want to know this one because I heard this from Andrew too. It seems like this one is a pretty popular expression. Here is a good example for you. Do you have a child? Let’s say if your child does not want to do her/his homework. How would you say to her/him in English? That is right! You can say, “Finish your homework come hell or high water.” So, do you get the meaning of the expression now? Just want to make sure we are on the same page, it means, “something must be done no matter how hard or unfavorable the circumstances are.”

Since we all know this, here is what I want to say to you, my non-native English speaker friends. KEEP STUDYING ENGLISH COME HELL OR HIGH WATER! With that, let me give you a homework. How about you try to find the etymology of this expression and add a comment?