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January 21, 2019

I had a half-hour walk with a camera about the place where I live.

1.With three weeks into the new 2019, it may be time to throw New-Year trees into a garbage dump (in Ukraine, they are called “New Year trees” rather than “Christmas trees”). That’s what has just been done. Farewell, holidays! Ave, festivities!




2.A place which earlier was an enclosed dump has been turned into a coffee-house. The entrepreneur has got a real business acumen. Well done, entrepreneur!







3.The announcement about a celebration of Epiphany Day. People start gathering at an ice-hole of the nearby lake at 8:45 AM. The ice-hole, as well as the water brought by people in bottles, is to be consecrated at 10:00 AM. Whereupon those who want to have a dip in the ice-hole may do it. Finally, participants are going to be treated to hot tea and booblyki (soft ring-shaped rolls). It’s emphasized that the consecration will be done by a pastor of a newly independent Ukrainian Orthodox church.


4.The picture of the aforementioned ice-hole. It was a very busy place yesterday.







5.Meanwhile, children are sliding down the sloping banks of the lake. A freewheeling anarchy of trashcan lid-style sledding – that’s the name of the fun in advertisements. Incidentally, they are no sleds nowadays, they are Paricon Flying Saucers…




6.Senior citizens poke their memories remembering the times when they were just “sledding”…











7.While their children crawl up and tumble down the hills, the parents are barbecuing.








8.“The summer is coming! Get ready!” The local fitness club is advertising its services.








9.Until not long ago, this was an office of a Russian-based bank. Now the premises are for sale.







10.A nook at the very entrance door to our block of flats. A 91-year-old lady, who knew everybody in our 16-floor building, used to sit here for a couple of hours every day when the weather was warmer. Spring is near at hand. We look forward to seeing you back on board, Antonina Andreevna!



September 27, 2018

1It has been a special day today. My wife and I were welcoming my former student whom I haven’t seen for 35 years. Only a few days ago Hryhoriy sent me a friend request on Facebook, and I immediately confirmed it.

Hryhoriy arrived in our city for one day to visit the local military call-up office. He had been in the war in the east of Ukraine since he volunteered there in 2014 when the war broke out. Being 60, which is the mandatory retirement age for officers of his rank (Hryhoriy is a lieutenant colonel), he is resigning now.

He was a paratrooper and stayed in the hotspots of Donbas. The Ukrainian army, he says, was saved in the spring of 2014 only thanks to the effort of the civilians who contributed all they could to get the soldiers dressed, fed and armed. Somewhat later, assistance was given by western countries – the uniform, food rations and medication. At the moment, front line hospitals have the latest medical equipment, a good part of which has also been imported from abroad. “I don’t think Putin will issue an order to further invade Ukraine,” Hryhoriy says. “The Ukrainian army is much stronger than it was in the beginning, and the Russians will suffer heavy losses if they decide to advance. Our armaments are not bad either. On the other hand, it’s only Putin who can get the war stopped. One word from him would be enough to have it done. But he will hardly do it.”

Hryhoriy talked about Ilovaysk where the Ukrainian troops had been entrapped by the Russians in August 2014. “At that time, I didn’t believe the Russian assurances that they were letting our detachments go through the green corridor and I took my guys through another route. That’s why I didn’t lose a single soldier, says Hryhoriy (a well-known fact is that the Russians broke their pledge bombarding the “corridor” and hundreds of Ukrainian troops were killed).

Hryhoriy walks with a slight limp. He was wounded in one of the skirmishes with the enemy and had to stay a few weeks in hospital in the city of Dnipropetrovsk. Then he returned to his military unit. “The doctor said I would have to learn how to live with my left leg,” smiles Hryhoriy.

After retiring from the army, Hryhoriy cannot see himself just sitting with a fishing rod at the lake. “My school said they want me back. I will continue teaching kids English. And not only English, he added. I’ll be explaining to them what it means to love Ukraine.” There was kindness in his eyes and his voice was soft.

5I saw Hryhoriy off to the bus station. His farewell greeting was “Glory to Ukraine!” – the words by which the Ukrainians recognize one another.


August 3, 2018

Unleash Limitations.


List of idioms:

Bite off more than one can chew = try to do more than one can

Burn oneself out = wear oneself out by using all of one’s energy or strength

Drink like a fish = consume alcoholic drinks excessively

Eat like a horse = eat excessively

Eyes are bigger than one’s stomach = Think that one can eat more than one is able

Lose one’s head = lose control of oneself

Make a pig out of oneself = eat in excess

Run oneself ragged = make oneself excessively tired by trying to do too much work

Spread oneself too thin = become involved in too many activities

Talk until one is blue in the face = talk excessively but not convincingly

Take it easy = avoid hard work; relax



Coach Palmer: Jim, you’ve practiced enough. I want you to take it easy tonight. You know you should get plenty of rest before the big game tomorrow. It’s going to be a tough one.

Jim: I’m too nervous to do anything else, coach. Can’t I stay and work out some more?

Coach Palmer: You are running yourself ragged. Save some of that energy for tomorrow, Jim. If you push yourself too hard, you won’t be any good for the game.

Jim: Okay, coach. You’re the boss.



Monica, a good friend of yours, tries to do many things at once. She does not know her limitations. You see that she is always tired and anxious, and you are worried about her. One day, you sit down with her and try to convince her to slow down. Using the above expressions write out what you would say: (BEGINNING: “Monica, you have to slow down. You can’t do everything that you want to do. You are running yourself ragged…”)


Discuss the following:

  1. Several of the expressions in this lesson compare people to animals, such as “she drinks like a fish,” “He eats like a horse,” and “She is making a pig out of herself.” There are many other expressions in English that compare human traits to animals, such as “wise as an owl,” “sly as a fox,’ and “timid as a mouse.” Are there expressions in your language that compare humans to animals? What are they?
  2. Look at the following sentences. After each one, someone might say, “Be careful, don’t spread yourself too thin.”


  1. I have to take seven courses this semester.”
  2. “I have four meetings scheduled for tonight.”

Think of other sentences like this.

  1. When people “lose their heads”, they become so upset that they lose control and do or say things they later regret. This happens to almost everybody. For instance, if a man breaks all the windows in his home because he had a bad day at work, he lost his head. Talk about a time when you lost your head or when someone you know lost his (or her) head.


August 3, 2018

paying with own card

On July 31, a young man used his card in Kyiv metro to let passengers go through turnstiles ( ). Later, he explained that he had bought the card with his own money, but he made up his mind to arrange a charitable event because the card was expiring that day and he was not able to use all the money himself. The card was working perfectly. However, the supervisor, who was overseeing the passengers passing through the checkpoints “for free”, blocked the turnstiles saying that the young man’s action was “against regulations.”

The supervisor was not right. I use such a card exactly the same way to pay for my friend (or friends) if they don’t have their own cards. On the other hand, I liked the man’s initiative. He demonstrated his generosity and he was thinking “outside the box” by doing something many other people wouldn’t even think of doing. Secondly, he dared challenge the heavy-footed, state-owned system knowing that those “in charge” would feel there was something wrong and refer to non-existing rules. And lastly, the guy had a sense of humor. He reminded me of a group of students I know who, a couple of years ago, walked from one metro car to another, pulling banknotes of small value out of their upturned caps and offering them to stunned passengers in their seats, “We are strangers here. Please, take this money for a living.” The plea was the same (though with some alteration) as was generally pronounced by beggars who used to come to Ukraine’s capital from afar: “We are just strangers here, could you give us something for a living?” (Russ.: My liudi ne mestnye, podayte na propitanie”).


August 2, 2018

bees knees

The bee’s knees = excellent; the highest quality.

The origin of the phrase:

Bees carry pollen back to the hive in sacs on their legs. It is tempting to explain this phrase as alluding to the concentrated goodness to be found around a bee’s knee, but there’s no evidence to support this explanation. It is also sometimes said to be a corruption of ‘business’, but there’s no evidence to support that either.

Nor is there any connection with another earlier phrase, ‘a bee’s knee’. In the 18th century this was used as a synonym for smallness, but has since disappeared from the language, replaced more recently by the less polite ‘gnat’s bollock’:

Mrs. Townley Ward – Letters, June 1797 in N. & Q. “It cannot be as big as a bee’s knee.”

‘Bee’s knees’ began to be used in early 20th century America. Initially, it was just a nonsense expression that denoted something that didn’t have any meaningful existence – the kind of thing that a naive apprentice would be sent to the stores to ask for, like a ‘sky-hook’ or ‘striped paint’. That meaning is apparent in a spoof report in the New Zealand newspaper The West Coast Times in August 1906, which listed the cargo carried by the SS Zealandia as ‘a quantity of post holes, 3 bags of treacle and 7 cases of bees’ knees’. The teasing wasn’t restricted to the southern hemisphere. The US author Zane Grey’s 1909 story, The Shortstop, has a city slicker teasing a yokel by questioning him about make-believe farm products:

“How’s yer ham trees? Wal, dog-gone me! Why, over in Indianer our ham trees is sproutin’ powerful. An’ how about the bee’s knees? Got any bee’s knees this Spring?”

There’s no profound reason to relate bees and knees other than the jaunty-sounding rhyme. In the 1920s it was fashionable to use nonsense terms to denote excellence – ‘the snake’s hips’, ‘the kipper’s knickers’, ‘the cat’s pyjamas/whiskers’, ‘the monkey’s eyebrows’ and so on. Of these, the bee’s knees and the cat’s whiskers are the only ones to have stood the test of time. More recently, we see the same thing – the dog’s bollocks.

The nonsense expression ‘the bee’s knees’ was taken up by the socialites of Roaring 20s America and added to the list of ‘excellent’ phrases. A printed reference in that context appears in the Ohio newspaper The Newark Advocate, April 1922, in a piece on newly coined phrases entitles ‘What Does It Mean?‘:

“That’s what you wonder when you hear a flapper chatter in typical flapper language. ‘Apple Knocker,’ for instance. And ‘Bees Knees.’ That’s flapper talk. This lingo will be explained in the woman’s page under the head of Flapper Dictionary.” [an ‘apple knocker’ is a rustic]

Clearly the phrase must have been new then for the paper to plan to take the trouble to define it. Disappointingly, they didn’t follow up on their promise and ‘the lingo’ wasn’t subsequently explained. Several U.S. newspapers did feature lists of phrases under ‘Flapper Dictionary’ headings. Although ‘bee’s knees’ isn’t featured, they do show the time as being a period of quirky linguistic coinage; for example, from one such Flapper Dictionary:

Kluck – dumb person.
Dumb kluck – worse than a kluck.
Pollywoppus – meaningless stuff.
Fly-paper – a guy who sticks around.

One tenuous connection between the bee’s knees and an actual bee relates to Bee Jackson. Ms. Jackson was a dancer in 1920s New York and popularised the Charleston, being credited by some as introducing the dance to Broadway in 1924. She went on to become the World Champion Charleston dancer and was quite celebrated at the time.

It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that the expression became popular in reference to her and her very active knees, but 1924 post dates the origin of the phrase






'What's the best job to have when the economy is bad?'


July 31, 2018

'I don't want to burst any bubbles, but I'm guessing it's a typo.'

Typical mistakes made by learners of English are marked with an asterisk (*). Correct variants are in bold type.

(*) An ambulance carried her to the hospital — … took her to the hospital (a vehicle TAKES a person somewhere).

(*) Switzerland has very little unemployment and in this case we are very lucky — … in this respect we are very lucky (in this/that case = in these/those circumstances: “What shall I do if there are no trains” “In that case go by bus.” In this/tat respect = with regard to this/that point or detail: “The film is full of violence and in this respect is unsuitable for children”).

(*) “Take an umbrella in case it will rain” — “… in case it rains” (after IN CASE use the present simple tense for future reference, not SHALL/WILL + VERB.

AmE In case you need more information, please contact me.

BrE If you need more information, please contact me.

AmE In case a woman goes out to work, she shouldn’t have to do all the housework.

BrE If a woman goes out to work, she shouldn’t have to do all the housework.

The usage of IN CASE is acceptable in American English but NOT in British English. Note that IF … can be used in both British and American English.

(*) The cause for the accident – The cause of the accident, but: the reason for the accident.

(*) the higher your qualification, the better your chances to find a job — … your chances of finding a job (chance/s of+v+ing)

Commentary to the picture above: 1. In the word “cow” the letter “r” (should be right after “c”) is omitted; 2. “Burst one’s bubble” = to bring someone back to reality, especially if they are dreaming or fantasizing about something unrealistic (“Look, I hate to burst your bubble, but there is no way you’re getting into Harvard! You are a C student!”)


July 31, 2018


The next few posts in the column SYNONYMS AND ANTONYMS will be devoted to the lexical field “Mental Power; Aptitude.”

Here the first group of words: proficient, adept, skilled, skillful, accomplished, expert. All these adjectives mean having or showing knowledge, ability, or skill, as in a profession or area of study.

PROFICIENT implies an advanced degree of competence acquired through training: to be proficient in Greek or Latin. Antonyms: to be ignorant, to be (next to) a zero (in, at).

ADEPT suggests a natural aptitude improved by practice: became adept at cutting a fabric without using a pattern. Antonyms: to be unskilled, untalented, immature (may also be opposed to SKILLED and SKILLFUL)

SKILLED implies sound, thorough competence and often mastery, as in an art, craft, or trade: a skilled gymnast who won an Olympic medal.

SKILLFUL adds to SKILLED the idea of natural dexterity in performance or achievement: is skillful in the use of drum sticks.

ACCOMPLISHED bears with it a sense of refinement after much training and practice: an accomplished violinist who played the sonata flawlessly. Antonyms: bungling, clumsy, inept (an inept actor, inept performance, a bungling workman, he made a bungle of the case due to inexperience)

EXPERT applies to one with consummate skill and command: an expert negotiator who struck a deal between disputing factions. The closest antonym: green (lacking training or experience: green recruits, green in business).


July 30, 2018

The idea of this column is to demonstrate that not only “long and clever” words (sometimes, with the rich Latin and/or French ancestry) are worth analyzing, but the study of the most common words can be no less exciting.

Some of the most frequent words which were covered in earlier posts are: to be, I, to, for, with, good, of, and.

This time, the focus is on the word NOT.


NOT developed from Old English “nawiht” (“na” = no + “with” = creature, thing). The other line of the development of “nawiht” resulted in the existence of the modern English word “naught” = nothing, zero.

While using NOT in speech, be careful about the following:

  1. Put NOT after the first auxiliary verb or modal, if there is one:

Adrina realized that she had not been listening to him.

  1. In conversation, when NOT is used after be, have, do, or a modal, it is not usually pronounced in full. When you write down what someone says, you usually represent NOT as N’T.
  2. When HAVE is the main verb, NOT is sometimes added without an auxiliary DO, but only in the short forms HASN’T, HAVEN’T, and HADN’T:

You haven’t any choice

The sky hadn’t a cloud in it.

However, it is more common to use the forms DOESN’T HAVE, DON’T HAVE, and DIDN’T HAVE.

  1. You can make a negative sentence more polite or less strong by using REALLY after NOT:

It doesn’t really matter.

I don’t really want to be a part of it.

You can reply to some questions by saying NOT REALLY.

You can also make a statement less strong by putting VERY in front of the adjective:

I’m not very interested in the subject

  1. You can use NOT with SURPRISINGLY  and UNEXPECTEDLY to make a negative comment about a statement.

Laura, not surprisingly, disliked discussing the subject.

  1. You can use NOT at the end of a short reply in order to give your opinion. For example, you can say “I hope not,” “Probably not,” “Certainly not” :

“Will it happen again?” – “I hope not.”

“I hope she won’t die.” – “Die? Certainly not!”

  1. Be careful!

With “both…and…” and other correlatives, parallelism requires that each conjunction is followed by a construction of the same grammatical type. Thus, “She not only bought a new car but also a new lawn-mower” displays faulty parallelism. The sentence is wrong and will be assessed as an error in official tests (TOEFL type), whereas the sentence “She bought not only a new car but also a new lawn-mower” is correct, because both NOT ONLY and BUT ALSO are followed by noun phrases.




July 30, 2018

Extracts from the book by Thomas W. Adams and Susan R. Kuder



List of idioms:

be down in the dumps = be depressed

be in seventh heaven = be extremely happy

be on cloud nine = be extremely happy

be on top of the world = feel extremely good

be out of sorts = be in a bad temper

be tickled pink = be very happy

feel blue = be sad

feel like a million bucks = be in a very good mood

look like one has the weight of the world on one’s shoulders = be very tired and worried

look like one lost one’s best friend = look very unfriendly

walk on air = feel happy and excited


1.Put a plus sign (+) if the person mentioned is happy. Put a minus sign (-) if the person is sad.

  • Steve was accepted at all universities he applied. He is on cloud nine.
  • Jan failed her math exam. She is down in the dumps today.
  • Bob’s parents gave him a trip to Europe for a graduation present. He is in seventh heaven.
  • Mary came in first in a ten-mile race. She is on top of the world.
  • Sue does not feel well today. She is out of sorts.
  • John lost his dog the other day. He is feeling blue.
  • Karen likes her new car very much. In fact, she is tickled pink with it.
  • Rich came back from vacation looking great. He says he feels like a million bucks.
  • Sally lost her job and does not know how she is going to pay her bills. She looks like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders.
  • Ken got some bad news in the mail today. He looks like he lost his best friend.
  • Gene found the travelers checks he had lost. He is walking on air.

2.Mark is a very moody person. Some days he is happy and some day he is unhappy. Put H next to the days Mark was happy, and U next t the days he was unhappy.

  • On Sunday, Mark was tickled pink.
  • On Monday, he was feeling blue.
  • The next day, he was walking on air.
  • On Wednesday, he was down in the dumps.
  • On the following day, he was out of sorts.
  • On Friday, he was on top of the world.
  • The day after that, he felt like a million bucks.
  • On Sunday, he looked like he had lost his best friend.
  • The next day, he looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.
  • On Tuesday, he was on cloud nine.
  • On the following day, he was in seventh heaven.

3.Jim is the captain of the Jefferson High School basketball team. Walt is the captain of the basketball team at Washington High School. Last week the two teams played each other, and although it was a close game, Jefferson won. Using all the idioms from this unit, write sentences describing how both Jim and Walt felt after the game. Remember to use the past tense. You’ll probably have to recapitulate some basketball terminology too (like: to shoot a ball, to score, a field goal, a jump shot, to steal a ball from the dribbler, to intercept a pass, to block a shot, etc.)






July 30, 2018

mother in the family


A young woman brings home her fiancée to meet her parents. Before, the marriage was only in the air, now the time has come to get into the nitty-gritty of the matter. When the young couple came, the father was having a kip. At this time of the day, he was usually dead to the world. The father had known about his would-be son-in-law’s visit, but preferred not to jump the gun. He took his time getting out of bed, prepared some coffee to perk himself up, and broached the subject.

“So, young man,” he said, “It’s a regular treat to see you at our place. Is you decision to marry my daughter final?”

“I have no second thoughts about it,” answered the youth.

“Please, do not think that your marriage is as good as in the bag. Do you have a man-size job? At least, something in the offing?”

“I am a Torah scholar,” he relied.

“A Torah scholar. Hmm.” the father said. “Will you buy my daughter a beautiful engagement ring such as she deserves?”

“I will concentrate on my studies, and God will provide for us.”

“Admirable, how are you going to support your wife?”

“I will study,” the young man replied, “and God will provide for us.”

“Now, look here,” the father said, “I don’t want you to feel hard done by while you are answering my straightforward questions, but … please, understand, Emma is my daughter… Both of you will be better off even if you just fetch and carry for everyone in the office. At the moment everything in the garden may be lovely, but the times may change…”

The young man didn’t seem to be uptight at all. “In business,” he said, “you are dependent on your boss, and get it in the neck now and then. I want to be free.”

“And children?” asked the father. “How will you support children?”

“Don’t worry, sir, God will provide,” replied the fiancée.

The conversation proceeded like this, and each time the father questioned, the young idealist insisted that God would provide.

Later, the mother asked her husband, “How did it go, honey?”

The man answered, “He has no job, no plans, but the good news is he thinks I’m God.”

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