11 Oct

rediscovering a word series 5: draft

Who taught: Jessy and Rachel

menu (source: http://moosetoothgrill.com)


When you go to a restaurant in the U.S., you should really pay attention to its menu. One big difference between Korea and the U.S. is that there is always a few sentences to describe foods served in a restaurant in the U.S. In Korea, you would hardly find those descriptions and no one really ask anything about foods when they order. People simply order and get whatever a restaurant gives in Korea. I know… sounds no fun at all. But, that is why Jessy and I had a hard time ordering foods in the U.S. when we first got here. A lot of choices we need to make, ordering a food.

Also, under drinks section, they do have beers for which there are two major categories: One is bottle and the other is draft.

I would think most people understand what draft means here.

Denoting beer or other drink that is kept in and served from a barrel or tank rather than from a bottle or can

That’s easy, right? Also, most people use draft to mean “a preliminary version of a piece of writing.” You know, when you write a document, you start with its draft version and modify and refine it a few times.

So far, things are easy. But, there is another definition you would need to know.

It’s getting cold in Pittsburgh. A few days ago, Jessy and I were talking a walk and felt pretty cold air outside. Then, Jessy said she is happy our house does not have cold air coming from the outside.” Well, she said it in Korean and she used a Korean word, “우풍 (Woo-Poong).” It means a current of air in a house coming from outside, normally cold air in winter. Hmm… what is an English word for that?

I said, “There must be one but what is it?” Jessy suddenly remembered that Rachel used a word, draft, to mean that.

When Jessy told me that Rachel used “draft” to mean a current of air in a house, I could not believe it. “What? Really? Draft?”

It’s like a moment of eureka to me. Wow…. What a surprise!

Here is a tip for you to remember this word better. Next time you are in a restaurant, looking at the menu, check out drinks section and find out “draft beer list.” Then, think about not only kind of beer but also a current of air in the restaurant. Hope the air in your restaurant is not that cold for you.

11 Sep

over the hill

Who taught: Rachel, Emily and Liz

Over the hill

over the hill party

I am not sure it is a good thing or not but people still think I am young.

In two months, I will be 38 years old. Lucky me because I would be 40 next year if I were in Korea. I think I mentioned this in one of my previous posts. Basically, Korea is one of the countries that use a very different system to count age.

My friends and I have a regular bible study on Thursdays. Last week, we talked about our ages and I mentioned that I would be 40 next year if I were in Korea. And, Rachel said, “We should have over the hill party then.”

Isn’t it very clear what it means? The expression is based on the assumption that 40 is the climax of our life. And, after 40, what’s waiting for us is the downhill.

Here is my thoughts! In one sense, that’s kind of sad because I do not have many days to reach the climax of my life but I am not sure what I have accomplished so far. Looking back, I have spent most of my time, studying. I have two master’s degrees and almost every day, I still study, reading books, listening to other people’s lectures and coding, to teach better. Oh… I am happily married and do have great friends. Well, I still have a long way to go financially but at least own a small house. Well, that sounds not bad, right?

On the other hand, it’s good because all I need to do from now on is going the downhill and we all know that is easy compared to climbing up.

I would have my over the hill party in about two years and will remind you of this expression. But, you could think about this expression on your own 40th birthday. In case yours is today, happy birthday to you and enjoy your over the hill birthday party! Remember! It’s all downhill from now and enjoy.

09 Jul

three sheets to the wind

Who taught: Phil, Kelly, Kaley, Rachel and Shawn

Sometimes, life is so funny. We plan things and try to prepare for the future ahead. Yet, we do not know what is ahead. Every day is full of surprises.

Really should enjoy a new day given to me. Nothing to complain about at all! Carpe diem!

Last week, Jerome and Patricia threw a party to celebrate the acquisition of the company that I used to work. I used to work at the company for three years before I joined Carnegie Mellon University. It was so fun to work with smart people there. I got to solve a lot of interesting problems which eventually made a lot of clients happy. No wonder why another company wants to buy this great company.

It was so nice seeing all the people including current and former employees at the party. There were great foods, drinks and music.

I walked around, talking to as many people as possible and at some point I sit down with Phil, Kelly, Kaley, Rachel and Shawn. And, Phil told me something which I had no clue at all. I had to say to him, “what did you say?,” many times.

He said, “Hey Terry, Are you three sheets to the wind?”

Let me challenge you, my non-native English speaking friends! Can you guess what it means? Even after I got the words that Phil said, I still was not able to understand. Worse, I could not even guess.

Well, my friends told me that it simply means “are you drunk?” Of course, I was not. But, the question is why does it mean drunk? Well, no one knew why.

Once you use a language as your mother tongue, you use a lot of expressions without even thinking about why, right? In my opinion, it is because people learn those expressions by just hearing and trying to use later. That’s actually amazing. So, these days, I try really hard to learn English as if I am a new born child. You know what I mean? Just listen and use them.

Well, about 30 minutes later, I had to sit again. (You know, I am getting old.) I sit next to Kaley and she actually googled for its origin and showed it to me.

Not surprisingly, the expression is from sailing. There are a lot of expressions that originated from sailing and this is one of them. Here is a very good one for you.

Sheets actually refer to the ropes that are used to secure a ship’s sail. If the 3 ropes used were loose in the wind, the sail would flop around, causing the ship to wobble around, much like a drunk.

As soon as I saw this origin, this expression totally made sense to me. What a perfect one to describe “drunk!” Wouldn’t you agree, my friends?

So, next time if you have a drink with your friends, you should try to say, “are you three sheets to the wind?” instead of saying “are you drunk?” They will love you. 🙂

05 Jun

through the grapevine

Who taught: Rachel

Grape Vine Yard (source: http://www.fruitipedia.com/)

There is a bible study that I go on Thursdays. It is a small group but I really love sharing our thoughts on the Bible. Last week, the bible study was at my place and Rachel got first.

Since it is during the week, we start our meeting talking about our lives, mostly with regard to work. She had a rough day at her work. While she was telling me her story about a very interesting development at her work, she said, “I heard it through the grapevine.”

From the context, I was able to understand but that was my first time hearing the expression. Could you guess what it is, my friends? Let me help you. Have you ever been to a grape yard? There are a lot of lines of grapevines but, if you look at them closely, you will notice how they are all intertwined. They all touch each other in one way or the other.

Therefore, there can be one grapevine plant at one end and there is another grapevine plant at the other end of the line. And if you follow the vines, chances are they are actually connected through the vines in the middle.

What do you think? Can you feel it? So, If you hear something through the grapevine, that means you heard it from someone and that someone also heard it from someone else and that someone else again heard it from someone else.

That’s how I feel about the expression, “hear something through the grapevine.”

Well, there are a lot of things we hear through the grapevine, right? Mostly, rumors. But at the same time, where there is smoke, there is fire.

Sometimes, though, it is better to be disconnected from other grapevines to not get involved into any of those strange rumors.

01 May

rediscovering a word series 3: sexy

Who taught: Patrick, Rachel, Andrew, Beth, Mark, Jake and Carol

Let me start with a challenge for you! From today and from this moment, watch TV shows or movies that are in English. I know you want to watch shows and movies that are in your mother tongue. Do you know why? It is because you are comfortable. Of course, it is. You have a choice. One asks you to stay in your comfort zone which is easy and a lot of people do and the other takes your strong will to get out of the comfort zone. Trust me on this. If you make a decision and be persistent, your English will get better. Additionally, make watching them be one of your everyday routines just like you go to a bathroom every morning. Oh, you go in the evening? Whatever way it is. It has to be a routine. If not, chances are you will fall back into your comfort zone again.

Hope you take my challenge and make a good progress soon! So, had you watch American TV shows, one of the words you would hear a lot would be “sexy.” I swear that people on TV use it so often that I strongly believed that I could use this anytime to any person.

So, a few days ago, when I met my friends, I used it. Of course, I hesitated but thought it should be OK. Oops! I was very very wrong.

Here is what happened. Stella, Patrick’s daughter, was having fun in a chair and her hair became out of control. Suddenly, I remembered an expression, “sexy bed-hair.” You know… when you wake up in the morning, you hair is totally unorganized and messy but, to your significant other, it SHOULD look sexy, right? I will leave it up to your imagination what would happen after that look. 🙂

Well, I said, “Stella got sexy bed-hair.” As soon as I said, “Oh no…. Terry.. Sexy?”

So far, it sounds like I am innocent. Don’t you think? The issue was Stella is only one year old.

My friends told me that people do not use “sexy” to a little kid. My non-native English speaker friends, be careful! Just because you hear a specific word very often on TV, it does not mean that you can use it all the time. There are times that you cannot use them which is not easy to learn. I guess you gotta just experience just like me. Poor Terry.

Patrick and Rachel, Stella is so cute and I love you guys.

By the way, are there any other times that I should not say sexy? #confused.