Mark and Steve – Happy New Year

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Mark and Steve talk about their New Years Holiday and the new decade. Image courtesy of Patrick Hoesly.

Mark: Hello everyone and welcome to the first EnglishLingQ podcast of 2010 or twenty-ten or whatever people will end up calling it.

Steve: Happy New Year.

Mark: Happy New Year.

Steve: Happy New Year.

Yeah, it’s the first year of the next decade. Is it? I think it is.

Mark: I’m not sure how these things work, but it makes sense to me.

Steve: Well, it becomes an issue, you know?

Is 2011 the first year of the decade?

I think that was a problem as to what’s the first year of the century.

I don’t understand it.

Mark: Well, it brings me back to the conversation you were having with Annie about your first year being when you’re age zero.

Steve: Right.

Mark: So, therefore, presumably the first year of the decade is in the year zero.

Steve: So, therefore, 2009 is not the ninth year of the decade; in fact, it’s the last year of the decade.

Mark: That’s right.

Steve: Alright.

Mark: This is a very important point, I’m glad we covered it.

Steve: Well, the other interesting point is what we call the year and I think in different languages they do it differently, but I think most people are going to say 2010.

Mark: 2010 or twenty-ten.

I mean here we have the Olympics coming and everybody calls it the twenty-ten Olympics.

Steve: Right.

Mark: Nobody calls it the 2010 Olympics, so I’m assuming that’s an early insight into what people are going to call this year.

Steve: You know I think that our discussions are more interesting if I disagree with you.

Mark: Right.

Steve: And so I disagree with you.

Mark: Okay.

Steve: I think people will call the year 2010 and they’ll call the Olympics twenty-ten, so there.

Mark: Well, that could be. That could be.

Steve: Who knows?

Mark: We could probably spend the next 10 minutes discussing this…

Steve: But we won’t.

Mark: …because it’s…

Steve: …it’s important.

Mark: People always have trouble or want us to just use numbers and ask for content containing numbers because numbers are very often one of the more difficult aspects of a new language.

Steve: I know.

Mark: So that’s why we’re doing it.

Steve: Right; alright.

I mean what we could do is we’re looking at this counter of the sound of our sound file, I could go one minute fifty-eight, one minute fifty-nine, two, two zero three.

Anyway, we won’t do that.

Mark: We’ll save that for another occasion.

Steve: We’ll save that for another occasion.

Christmas and New Year.

Now, of course the world is a big place.

Christmas is not a holiday in every country of the world.

Also, some countries have different New Year’s and Russia has a different Christmas and stuff.

There are different calendars, traditional calendars, although everyone, at least officially, is on the same sort of international Gregorian or whatever.

I don’t know what it is, Julian calendar.

But it seems that the end of the year and the beginning of the year coming is kind of a holiday everywhere and people are getting time off from work and so did we.

Mark: And so did we.

We had a great vacation.

Our family of kids and grandparents went skiing, which has become an annual custom or an annual event.

We all go to Big White, which is in the interior of British Columbia near Kelowna.

I’m sure we’ve spoken about it in previous podcasts in years gone by.

We did that again and it was another great event; skiing, downhill skiing, playing hockey outdoors, cross-country skiing…

Steve: …snowshoeing, eating meals together…

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: …and, yeah.

It’s a nice drive too when the weather is nice.

It’s about a five-hour drive and you drive over two mountain passes.

And the first mountain pass, basically, is through the coastal mountain range where you sort of cross from the area of very large trees and the sort of rainforest of the coast into the dry hinterland where the trees are smaller because the climate is colder and dryer.

But then I find that’s it’s the second, the connecter between Merrit and Kelowna, that is so spectacular.

You’ve got these trees just covered in this heavy snow and you can see these large vistas of forest.

A lot of young trees, because it’s an area where there has been a lot of logging.

And so you’ll see forests that are 10 years old, 30 years old, 80 years old, spruce, pine, which I guess the average person doesn’t pay much attention to.

Mark: Most people probably don’t differentiate between the species.

Steve: Or nor the ages.

Mark: I know people that essentially refer to all evergreen trees as pine trees.

Steve: At any rate, it’s a pleasant drive out there.

In Kelowna we visited with some friends there and it’s the wine country, so you can see the vineyards and sample the wine.

So really we’re quite blessed here, in terms of…yeah?

Mark: And, actually, what was great about the trip when you can see the trees and admire the vistas that’s just that the weather is not too bad.

Steve: Right.

Mark: Which when you’re driving through those mountains is a good thing.

Steve: Yes.

Mark: It started out a little hairy coming home.

Coming out of Kelowna it was quite foggy going up to….

Steve: Oh, really? Oh, we didn’t have a problem.

Mark: …the connecter and blowing snow and I thought oh-oh, this is looking bad.

The roads were good because it had warmed up so they were just wet.

It ended up being a little bit foggy, but wet.

So it was fine, but it’s when you have the blowing snow or slush or the hard-packed ice.

Remember that year you got a flat tire on that washboardy ice?

Steve: That was no fun.

We had ice, it was washboardy, which means it was bumpy, and then I had a flat tire.

And because it was so bumpy on this ice I didn’t realize that I had a flat tire, I just said, “Boy, this is really bumpy.” And then eventually I pulled over and… Oh, and it was very funny because we had an empty wine bottle.

Because we always take a little bit of cognac and wine and so forth, so we had some empty or at least some open liquor bottles in the trunk.

And so we were pulled over and I was changing the flat tire and the wind was howling and snowing and everything.

And so this car stopped behind us.

Very nice family; these people were native, aboriginal family.

Mark: Right.

Steve: And the lady said “Oh and here you are, you’re stuck” and she gave us candles.

She gave us about eight little candles, just in case we should…you know, we wouldn’t be able to get it done that we could heat ourselves in the car.

And then when she saw the open liquor bottles in the trunk she said “No!

That’s the worst thing you can do.” She was very concerned that we were going to be drinking the liquor there.

So we assured her that we weren’t and we thanked her for the candles and she drove off.

So that was an event.

Mark: Yeah, there always seems to be an event or two.

Actually this year was relatively uneventful…

Steve: Yes.

Mark: …in the event department.

I remember the one year we had the rock through the sunroof; shattered our sunroof on the highway.

Steve: Did that rock fall from the hill or was it something that a car sort of…?

Mark: It must have been bouncing along the highway.

Because there’s so much salt and gravel that they spread on the road to make it drivable, you get the odd bigger rock that bounces up.

It must have bounced up somehow and just hit the sunroof in just the right place and shattered it as we were driving along.

That was a little unnerving.

Steve: That’s not very nice.

Mark: We spent the next three hours listening to the wind whistle through the sunroof on her way.

Steve: Brand new car, thinking about how much money you were going to have to pay.

Mark: Well, yeah.

Steve: And then, of course, the time when I had Eric and his family, our older son who lives in London and his family, so we squished all the skis and cross-country skis and poles onto the roof rack.

And I guess I hadn’t clamped it down properly and we’re driving on the highway and all of a sudden it just sprung loose and so our skis just scattered over the highway.

So we pulled off…

Mark: You’re lucky nobody was driving behind.

Steve: Well, no, no, they did drive over some stuff.

And we had pulled over and there we were out on the highway, cars going past us, picking up our skis.

Really, it was quite a dangerous thing.

Mark: Yeah, I’ll say.

Steve: But we survived that.

We survived that and we had a great holiday.

Of course Eric and his family, his two kids, they didn’t have a chance to participate this year because they were back in London.

Last year they were living in Boston so it was closer.

Mark: Right.

Steve: The other family member that always is left out, of course, is Gordie the dog.

Mark: Gordie the dog, who would have such a good time up there in the snow, but he doesn’t get to come.

But there are lots of dogs up there at Big White, actually.

Steve: Oh, yeah.

Mark: And, too bad, he would have had a great time going cross-country skiing.

Steve: But he can’t come because, basically, most people who rent up there don’t want dogs.

Mark: No.

People don’t want dogs in their places and also it’s a bit of a pain.

I mean you’re up there, it is completely snowbound, so you’ve got to try and find a way to get out with the dog, even though you can’t, obviously, go downhill skiing.

I mean it would be nice to have him.

I don’t think he would really enjoy the five-hour drive in the car.

Steve: No, no.

Mark: Plus, he’s quite a big dog and takes up a fair bit of room and we were jammed to the rafters as it is, so…

Steve: I know. Well, inevitably, we take up more food than we need.

Mark: I know.

Steve: Because the thing is, up there it’s quite expensive to go out to eat and not necessarily very good.

Mark: No and there’s not much in the way of restaurants.

Steve: No.

Mark: I mean most people bring their food and you’re renting a condo and you make your own meals.

Steve: Which is part of the fun too.

Mark: Absolutely, yeah.

Steve: Yeah.

And, yeah, so, anyway, that was a nice holiday now we’re facing our new year.

We see, hopefully, some continued strength in the economic recovery, time will tell.

Mark: It’s always interesting to come back from the interior where, you know, you’re in winter there and you come over the Coast Mountains and you’re back to Vancouver where it’s…

Steve: …seven degrees…

Mark: …seven degrees and green and usually raining.

Actually it kind of helped that it was pouring raining.

It was pouring rain when we got off the Coquihalla connecter, but it kind of cleaned the car.

It got all the salt and muck and road grease off the car, so that was kind of handy.

Steve: By the way, for the purpose of our transcriber, Merrit is m-e-r-r-i-t. One “t”, I think.

Mark: I think, yeah.

Steve: Kelowna is k-e-l-o-w-n-a.

Coquilla is c-o-q-u-i-l-l-a.

Mark: h-a-l-l-a.

Steve: Oh, is it?

Mark: Co-qui-halla.

Steve: Oh, Coquihalla, right you are.

Anyway, close enough.

Anyway, back to it.

Yeah, actually, I stopped for gas and there was a no-touch car wash.

Mark: Oh, yeah.

Steve: So I went in there with the ski rack.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: Cleaned off all the muck from the skis.

And it does the underbody, because you don’t want all the little gravel in the wheels and all that stuff.

Mark: And all the salt…

Steve: Salt, yeah.

Mark: …that rusts the underbody of the car, so I maybe should have done that myself.

Steve: Yeah.

Anyway, I felt quite happy and I drive a clean car into my garage rather than driving all the muck into the garage.

Mark: Well, yeah.

Steve: Well, in the past I’ve driven and left it outside and then I have a little spray power washer and then I try and clean the car a little bit before putting it in the garage or else you get all the little gravel and stuff.

Mark: Well, there’s so much grime off the road when they’re salting and sanding and so on.

Actually both ways this year were great for the drive; hardly any snow on the road in either direction, so that was great.

Although there was lots of snow on the mountain, so that’s where you want it.

Steve: It was great in that sense, yeah.

I wonder, speaking of snow, what’s going to happen with the Whistler Olympics.

We have the Winter Olympic Games here and because Whistler is only…well, it would be 100 kilometers inland.

It’s got sort of a partially mountain climate and partially kind of coastal climate.

Mark: Right.

Steve: And so they can get warm periods where the snow melts and it rains instead of snowing, so…

Mark: But then at the same time because it’s coastal they can get, you know, 100 centimeters in a couple days of snow, just because they just have a lot more precipitation there then they get in the interior where we were.

Although, having said that, where we were apparently like in the last week they’ve had 70 centimeters of snow at Big White.

I don’t know what’s happening at Whistler.

They’re probably getting snow too.

Like 7 degrees here, they’re getting snow at Whistler.

Steve: Yeah. Well, I hope so.

Mark: It has to be warmer than that here for it to rain up there.

Steve: And we need some snow here on the local mountains because the Olympics are going to take place sort of in three or four locations.

Any of the sort of stadium events like speed skating and figure skating and hockey and curling are in the City of Vancouver.

The freestyle skiing is up here on a local mountain called Hollyburn.

Mark: Cypress.

Steve: Cypress rather.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: It’s Hollyburn Mountain. Is it?

Mark: I think it’s Cypress Mountain.

Steve: Anyway, Cypress Bowl, Cypress Mountain, whatever.


Mark: Hollyburn is where the cross-country is.

They’re beside each other, but they’re different mountains.

Steve: Oh, no, but, oh, I see.

But the cross-country for the Olympics is at another location.

Mark: Is up at Whistler.

Steve: Which is at Callaghan.

Mark: Or at the Callaghan Valley.

Steve: Callaghan Valley, which is just, I guess, west of Whistler or south of Whistler.

And then the alpine events are at Whistler itself, so there’s four different locations.

Mark: Right.

Steve: But we will need snow on the local mountains, presumably.

Although, I guess for the freestyle they can use more artificial snow.

Mark: Well, I mean they have snow.

All the mountains have a pretty good base because it snowed quite a bit before Christmas.

Steve: Right.

Mark: It’d be nice to get some fresh snow, obviously, during the Olympics.

Although, I think for the alpine events they kind of prefer hard and icy as opposed to fresh snow.

A lot of times up at Whistler they can have almost too much snow.

Steve: Yeah.

It’s unbelievable how they ski on that ice, unbelievable.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: When they miss a turn and go flying that’s wild.

Mark: Well that’s why, apparently, some of the top Canadian downhill skiers are injured right now.

Steve: Right.

Mark: Because when they do fall they really hurt themselves quite badly.

Steve: But I gather it’s not just the Canadians.

Mark: Oh, really?

Steve: I gather there’s a number of top competitors who have hurt themselves.

It’s interesting, you know, how do you prepare for the Olympics?

If I were preparing for the Olympics I would not go all out in the lead-up events to the Olympics.

(A) I want to peak at the Olympics.

(B) I don’t want to risk injury.

Mark: You know it’s tough, I think, in any sport.

The minute you try to ease back and not go so hard that’s almost when you get hurt.

I think you just want to go and try as hard as you can and hope for the best.

Also, if you’re foot is off the gas in the lead up, it’s kind of hard to just turn it on again.

I mean I think you’re trying to prepare yourself …

Steve: But, still, the psychological preparation I think is quite important.

I mean you played a lot of competitive hockey and you yourself know that if you really key yourself for a particular game, say your team does and the whole team comes together and plays extremely well for this game against a key opponent, the next game it’s very difficult to reach that same level.

Mark: Well, yeah.

Steve: So, I mean these kinds of things, I guess they have teams of psychiatrists working or psychologists.

Mark: Yeah, I mean who knows?

I guess the thing is they’re in the World Cup circuit.

I mean I think they have injuries every year.

Steve: Aha, we will see what happens.

Anyway, that’s a little bit of a New Year podcast.

We do hear from people that they like our podcasts.

We would like to hear if they have any particular requests in terms of what they would like us to talk about so that we generate the vocabulary that maybe they want to be working on, so don’t hesitate to let us know.

And how would they let us know?

Mark: They can let us know on the forum on LingQ.

Steve: There you go.

Mark: Anyway, we’ll talk to you again next time, bye.

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