Personal Finance (Advanced)

This and all episodes of this podcast are available to study as a lesson on LingQ. Try it here.

In today’s episode, we present a conversation in which Steve speaks with Art and Art shares his understanding and knowledge of personal finance.

Hi Art.

Hi Steve.

How are you this morning?

I’m great.

And yourself?

Not to bad. I guess we’re what, just about past the RRSP deadline?

We are just past the RRSP deadline.

That was February 28th.

And of course in the life of most Canadians that’s a hectic time of year. Do most people not plan early enough? Or what happens?

I suspect a lot of people just do not have the funds to put into RRSP’s. And like, personally, I just budget it and I have the money come out, a thousand dollars a month, out of my account so that it’s just taken out and it’s more painless that way. So it’s not like come February you’re scrounging around trying to find the money for the RRSP.

What does that mean? Does that mean that you instruct your bank to put the money into a separate account, or do you yourself?

Actually the bank takes it out of my account: just like a pre-approved withdrawal like you would for the cable company or the Visa card or whatever. It’s just a standard thousand dollars the first of the month comes out of my account.

And where does it go?

It goes into my self-directed RRSP.

Oh, so you are putting money into your self-directed RRSP every month of the year?

That’s right.

And of course you know ahead of time what your maximum is and that determines how much goes into that.

That’s correct. Yes.

And I guess you’re a believer in people putting money aside every year. Should people take full advantage of the RRSP?

I certainly do and to the extent that you have the money I would say “yes”.

It’s I guess the concept of The Wealthy Barber: pay yourself first.

Oh yes, pay yourself first. Now of course not everyone can afford to put that much money into an RRSP every month.

Well, that’s right, it will also depend on their tax situation how much the government would allow them to deduct. But having said that, the government tells you, when you file your tax return, how much you can put in the following year. So, it’s always a year behind so you should always, sort of, be fairly close to knowing what that number is.

And do you think most people’s savings are limited to the RRSP? Is that basically kind of the extent to which most people do put money aside?

I wouldn’t say most people. I think it just varies so much on individual circumstances.

Yeah, because if you put money into an RRSP that is for your retirement, but you still need to put money aside to save up for a house or for another major purchase.

Well, that’s right, although there are some things now with RRSP’s that you can actually use some of that money to make a down payment on a house. There’s a whole list of technical ramifications, but it can be done to a certain extent.

I know you used to be in the car business. People who buy cars, do they tend to put money aside towards a car, or do they tend to buy on credit? Or how does that work?

Well?Let’s say?The big thing right now is leasing. A lot of people lease cars.

Leasing years ago, used to be what companies did, but now more and more individuals do leasing as well.

What’s the advantage to the individual?

Well, they get to drive a more expensive car than they could probably afford to if they paid cash.

But they’re paying for that privilege?

Oh they do pay for that privilege. Yes, to the extent that you can put some money into this car then that makes sense to do that.

So leasing is not necessarily a most cost-effective way of owning a car?

Not necessarily. Again it depends on your circumstances. I guess it depends if you can write part of the cost of your car off for tax purposes if, say, you’re self- employed or whatever.

But for the person who just tends to drive for their own personal pleasure, being a conservative individual, I think you should be trying to pay for your car as much as you can up front. Because let’s face it: cars are depreciable assets. They don’t become more valuable over time, they become less valuable over time.

But then if it is a depreciable asset that you are owning, I guess to some extent the attraction of a lease is that you don’t own this asset.

You don’t own the asset, but you pay for it. Because part of the lease calculation is allowing that they are also depreciating the value of the car. I guess to the extent that you have a car that is not going down in value or you take care of it then you can come out even on the lease.

But most lease clauses have mileage clauses in them or value clauses in them so that if you beat up the car or you drive it a lot more than the average based on how they have depreciated it, then you can have this ugly looking little bill facing you at the end of the lease if you say have very high mileage. And they want to get some of their money back. Because let’s face it, a lease payment has to cover the cost of the car or i.e. the amount it depreciated during your ownership. They also have to pay interest on their money which is being passed on to you the customer, plus they have an administration fee for administering the lease and of course their normal profit.

So you think a potential person who wants to lease a car should be very careful and read the lease agreement very carefully?

Oh definitely read their lease agreement and just understand it’s like any long-term contract, understand what you’re signing and what it’s really going to cost you. And for a lot of people it’s the only way to go because they don’t save up the money, or they can’t save up the money but yet they can make the normal monthly payment. And a lot of car dealers see it this way: just look at their advertising. They don’t tell you how much it costs anymore – it’s so much a month. I guess caveat emptor: buyer beware.

Does this tend to encourage people to live beyond their means?

I guess it depends on the individual but yeah I think there is.

If you look at the stats and how much debt there is per person in Canada and, or the United States. There are a lot of people living very ratcheted-up lifestyles.

Right, OK, thank you very much, nice chatting.

Take care, Steve.

Life in a Northern Town (Beginner)

This and all episodes of this podcast are available to study as a lesson on LingQ. Try it here.

In this episode, Steve speaks with Al Wardale who is from a small community in Northern Alberta, in Canada. Al describes life in the North.

Hello Al.

Hello Steve.

Today I’m talking with Al Wardale who is from Northern Alberta and I’m going to maybe exchange some reminiscences about Northern Alberta, but Al is down visiting in Vancouver. How often do you come down to Vancouver?

Perhaps twice a year.

Twice a year. You live in which town?

Manning, Alberta.

And how many people in Manning, Alberta?

It supports about 2,500 people.

When you say it supports 2500 people, how many people actually live in the town?

There may be 1,400 living in town and then several small farming communities without a proper town centre, that Manning supports.

And what is the main activity up there?

Work-wise, forestry and oil and gas exploration .

And farming?

And farming, right.

Would most of the people be involved in farming, or not necessarily?

Probably would be something like a third. Most families have an interest in farming that are long-time residents.

And now where is this located?

How far are you from Edmonton?

Six hundred kilometres northwest.

Okay. And I gather that today, on May the 2nd, it’s 15 below and snowing.

It is minus 15, snow, quite different from the day before where it was plus 20.

So you get violent swings of climate up there?

Particularly at this time of year.

Now you work in the sawmills.

Correct.

Right, and what is your job there?

I work in the sales department. We’re selling North American products to North American customers.

How are you affected by the recent softwood lumber ruling by the United States?

Its impact hasn’t been felt, but we definitely understand that it poses a huge burden on our industry and the effects we’ll hope to try to limit in our area.

When you’re not selling lumber, what do you like to do up in Manning, Alberta?

I love to hunt big game and birds and fish, whatever, outdoors.

And what are the good seasons for doing that?

The fall is the finest time of year in that country. September and October are unquestionably the best months.

And what do you like to do? How do you take advantage of the environment of nature up there?

I like to get out into the bush either walking or in different vehicles to hunt and to fish – in the winter time using snowmobiles to get into areas that you can’t get to in the summer months because it’s too wet. The ground freezes and access? you can go anywhere and see anything up there.

What kinds of animals do you see when you go into the forest?

There’s moose, elk, white-tail and mule deer, black bear, grizzly bear, any kind of bird anywhere, just about, and then lots of fish as well.

And when you go into the bush do you just go in for the day, or do you pitch a tent and stay, or? It all depends, you know?

everybody enjoys a nice day trip, but when we go after moose, the biggest of the big game, we’ll go in for 5, 7, 8 days at a time.

And where do you sleep?

We sleep on the ground, underneath a piece of plastic with a fire in front of us and just enjoy. It can be often 10-15 kilometres away from the end of the road where our trucks are parked.

And you sleep with a fire. Always a fire on while you’re sleeping?

Mostly.

Why is that? To keep you warm?

Warmth and to keep animals away too that may come and visit in the middle of the night, like the black bear.

I see. And just a plastic little roof on top, and that’s good enough?

Just enough to keep the rain off, or the snow off as it comes, and both have happened in times when we’ve been out.

Okay. And what do you sleep on? Just on the ground?

We’ll break off the branches of the spruce trees that are out there, the white spruce and lay them down in a mat that gives kind of a springy mattress below our sleeping bags.

And how cold is it when you wake up in the morning?

Usually there’s frost. It may be a few degrees below zero. That’s in October. But that makes for the best times out there. It warms up nicely through the day, but it can be quite cool.

And so typically what do you hunt?

Have you bagged the odd moose in your day?

I have taken some small moose and some enormous moose. They’re all big in that? the one last year that myself and my friends got would have been about 600 kilograms on the hoof, so quite an enormous animal, that’s for sure.

And what do you do with it?

Oh, there’s nothing (that) gets wasted. All the meat is taken back and goes into the freezers and all of us eat well for the rest of the year.

One moose can look after a whole family for the whole year?

A moose of that size could take care of a family of five for a full twelve months, I’m sure.

Eating meat everyday?

Eating meat certainly 4 or 5 times a week. And that’s fairly common for the people in that country.

What’s another popular game animal?

Deer. White-tailed deer probably is a very common animal, and it’s common throughout North America, but it is enjoyed up there as well.

And is it good to eat?

Oh yes, yes it is. But it’s kind of hunted in the farmland areas that are surrounding Manning more than the deep bush and woodlands that the moose are in.

And what about the farming? What do they farm up there?

Lots of crops. Canola and wheat, hay for the animals that they sometimes raise. Lots of different crops, pea crops and stuff that are a little more specialized. The people that are living there farm the staples that have always been?

and also some types of crops that are for export markets specifically I guess. I don’t know a great deal about what they do, but I know that they’re on the cutting edge of the agriculture industry, they’re not? because they’re very remote, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t with the times.

Right .

They’re very caught up and in-touch.

A typical farmer up there would have a major investment in equipment?

Oh yeah, typically a farmer will be running, probably, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 600 to 1,000 acres of land and their investment, just equipment alone, would be a half million dollars plus?

Really.

to do that. And that doesn’t include all the? they spread fertilizer, they use herbicides?and all that’s an additional cost. ?or most do.

There are some that do without herbicides but. Yes, it’s quite a costly venture. There’s a lot of money spent by people that don’t make enough of it anymore. It’s too bad.

Right.

And of course they have to be up on the latest developments in terms of seeds and techniques and so forth.

Yeah, I think that community of people, the agricultural community, is very well in tune with what’s required, and what’s new and available for increased yields and decreasing costs. Because it’s competitive, they have to be well in tune and try to make money because years ago the family farm? they could farm a very small area of land and make enough money off of it, but now the machinery is anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to nearly a million dollars in costs.

They have to farm huge areas of land to be able to make any money at all.

And now the forest industry is a big part of the country up there. I mean, you’re surrounded by the Boreal Forest, other than what has already been converted to farmland. What is the attitude of the people up there towards the forest industry?

I think that they are certainly very supportive. It’s a year-round industry in our area, whereas farming really is only the summer months and people that make money farming have to do things as well, so many people that farm in the summertime will run equipment in logging operations in the winter time, so they’re supplementing their farm income with working off the farm. So they are, of course, quite supportive.

But even those that aren’t, it’s an industry that’s done a lot better for the environment in the last number of years.

Right.

So I think it’s well regarded anyways as an industry.

Now Manning Diversified, I think, has been operating since 1994?

Right.

Have you been into some of the areas that Manning harvested say 7 years ago?

Yes, I have.

How are those areas regenerating?

They’ve done very well. Manning Diversified has put a lot of time and money and research into not just the replanting of areas that they’ve harvested, but to make sure how well they re-grow following. Some of this is required by the government, but MDFP is doing far more than expected.

MDFP is Manning Diversified Forest Products – that’s the company where you work.

Right, MDFP. It’s going the extra yard necessary to make it better and to be able to grow trees faster, but not so much for themselves, just to make sure the survival rate is far higher than what necessarily is expected. Some of the trees that I’ve seen that are six and seven years old are far, farther ahead than other areas that I’ve seen logged by other companies that have been 10 or 15 years old. We’ve had quite good success in reforestation in our area.

And this you attribute to a greater care in planting, or techniques that are used?

I think techniques for preparing the site is one, using the best of seeds to grow seedlings to be planted as well.

Proper quality control on the planting of the seedlings themselves, and then follow-up by the company afterward, is checking survival rates and understanding the competition that is growing against the seedlings on the same cut blocks.

A cut block is one little area that’s cut by the forest products company.

A block, that’s right, they call it a block, but it was just a stand of trees where we had taken.

Which is typically what, 10 hectares, or 15 hectares?

The average I think is under that even, maybe 7, but some can be quite large, upwards of 15 to 20.

And I gather that they cannot go back into that area and cut until the first area has grown back to two metres or something like that?

I’m not sure the exact age that it has to be, but they can’t go into adjacent stands of timber until that whole block has reached a degree where there is no concern that you’ll lose, or that anything can happen to that growing area of trees before you remove any additional areas around it.

And, of course the other big industry there is the oil and gas, and is that pretty active these days?

That’s quite active. Yet, it’s an industry that kind of has years of growth and years of decline and I think that it’s a well-regarded industry as well. It again, much like farming, is quite seasonal though, which makes it difficult on the town because you’re here today and you’re gone tomorrow.

Forestry, at least, is there year-round and the mill has its investment year-round and the people have a position with the company that lasts 12 months of the year. But the oil and gas industry is a solid foundation for the town.

Now, how old is the town of Manning?

It had its 50th birthday in 1998, I believe it was, so we’re talking 54 years now.

And I know when you look through a phone book there, you see names that are Slavic, German, French, gosh, I don’t know, every possible kind of origin.

There seems to be a hodgepodge of all kinds of nationalities of years ago, and it began with advertisements in newspapers across Europe for land that could be claimed. And I went to a birthday 2 weeks ago for a fellow.

It was a ninety-ninth birthday and he was living in Germany and saw in a paper “land if you’ll work it” and he bought a ticket on a boat and came across and made his way across the country and walked up the same road that I drive home on to claim his property that the land office, a hundred kilometres away, said you can have if you get there. Now, how many of his descendants are still living in Manning?

I was the photographer for that party and there were thirty-five people in the group picture that were all direct descendants from him and his wife who had several children, they had several more and they’re on to a fourth generation.

And they all stayed in Manning?

Some still are, most actually still are. Some have moved further away.

But not any further than the nearest hub which is Edmonton, 600 kilometres, and I believe that they’re still all fairly well in contact. It was kind of inspiring.

Right.

Everyone in Manning has a strong sense of belonging to Manning, wouldn’t you say?

I would say very much so. If you live in Alberta, but in Southern Alberta, you would consider yourself an Albertan, but if you live in Northern Alberta, then you are a Northern Albertan. I’ve never found that, other than in that area of the country. It’s not unlike other towns around Manning, but we stick to that adage (that) “We’re Northern Albertans”. Yeah. I’ve certainly sensed that when I go up there.

I’m a Southerner and I mean it doesn’t matter, even French Canadians who are from up there, they’re Northern Albertans. So that’s a very strong sort of local identification.

Yeah. There is a kinship that people feel for having lived there year round that’s for sure.

And faced hardships up there and I think that identification always strikes me as being much stronger than any identification with their original countries of origin or ancestry, or whatever.

That’s true, they don’t seem to say that they’re of German ancestry or Ukrainian. Many of them still speak, the older ones, still speak their language, but they consider themselves Canadians and Northern Albertans.

Which doesn’t prevent the fact that for your Christmas parties you get very good perogies.

That’s the staple of many tables around.

There’s a strong Ukrainian contingent living in that part of the country.

I always enjoy going up there and of course I know right away, as soon as I arrive, everybody in town knows I’m there and who I am. And I go into any store and everybody knows. Like everybody knows everything that’s happening to everybody in Manning at all times.

And people, as you come into town, people, everyone knows you long before you know who they are, because word spreads so fast. Hey, there’s a new fellow from here or there, and they will know your life story before you even know their first name. I found that many times over, moving to Manning.

And you, yourself are from Southern Alberta originally?

Right.

And from Calgary, I believe?

Exactly, yeah.

So, as a city boy, how have you found your experience living in a somewhat remote Northern Alberta community?

I really enjoy it. I wanted to, growing up in Calgary, I knew it was a wonderful city to live in, but I? there were things that interested me more and I didn’t need to have as much available to me because I thought I could make my own fun and to appreciate the outdoors. And specifically the ruggedness of some untamed wilderness versus the areas in the southern areas of Alberta that are quite well documented, and you know trails are set to hike on and don’t go off of them. You can do what you want in that country and people will respect you for that versus looking down on you for your impact on nature.

One last subject.

There are a lot of First Nations people up in that area as well, in the town as well as on reserves?

Yeah, there is a reserve about 125 kilometres north of Manning that’s a Metis settlement, actually. But a lot of residents of Manning have native ancestry as well.

I think the mill superintendent, Sheldon, is partial, or at least, is it his father or his mother that’s native? It’s his mother. He’s from Fort Vermillion, another northern community that’s on the banks of the Peace River, northeast of us.

Right.

Yeah, there is a strong group? a number of people living certainly that are of native ancestry and that have succeeded in their area of endeavours either, you know, in spite of it, or because of it, you know.

Right.

They’ve done well.

And, are a lot of the natives involved in trapping, and that kind of activity? Hunting, or whatever their main? are they working oil and gas or the forest industry or what sorts of things?

You know, you have to do pretty much what is available to you and those that live? typically, it’s kind of, it’s a worker or a labourer sort of attitude and? which is fine by them, because they most of the fellows don’t want to work all the time.

They want to be able to run a trap line and actually take fur off of the land for a few months in the winter time, and then they’ll run equipment in the bush for the oil field, you know, for the remainder of the winter and then they may be involved in farming through the summer months as well. So, their life isn’t like most. They do a lot of different things throughout the year. And certainly, it works for them. And looking at it, it might not be all that bad. Many of us want to do different things all the time anyway.

Right.

They seem to be making a life of it.

Well, I mean, it’s been a very, very interesting discussion and I thank you very much for taking the time.

Oh, I appreciate it.

Thank you.

Understanding Numbers in English

Study this episode and any others from the LingQ English Podcast on LingQ! Check it out.

Many of you have been asking for content about the numbers in English. Here is a podcast to help you better pronounce and understand numbers.

Understanding the pronunciation of numbers in all forms is a problem for nearly every English student.

What’s more, this is a problem that is often left unaddressed.

Quickly spoken telephone numbers, giving or receiving change at a food market or department store, being offered directions by a well-meaning but fast-talking native English speaker-these are all time that are particularly difficult to comprehend the numbers quickly being tossed at you.

“Understanding Numbers” addresses this problem with numbers, and will help you to hear those quickly-spoken numbers the first time-clearly and confidently understood.

As a way of understanding studying numbers, we’ve chosen a financial record that you will surely find helpful.

Understanding the proper pronunciation of numbers is absolutely essential in your complete understanding of the English language.

At The Linguist, we want you to be confident with all forms of English speaking; and that includes confidence with numbers.

This item, though not particularly dynamic or exciting, is absolutely essential studying material for every Linguist student.

Here is a suggested method for using this item effectively:

Read the text of this item and listen closely to the pronunciation of each number.

Read and listen again while saying each number after that number is spoken.

Once you have listened to this feature many times, read this article aloud and compare your own pronunciation with the pronunciation provided in the audio file.

Continue this until you see definite improvement.

Good luck, Linguist Student, now let’s get started!

State Farm Bank Rates as of 12/15/2004 at 10:00 A.M.

Interest Checking

$0 – $2499 0% 0%

$2500+ 1.34% 1.35%

Savings

$0 – $49,999.99 1.49% 1.5%

$50,000+ 1.73% 1.75%

Money Market

$0 – $99 0% 0%

$100 – $999 1.04% 1.05%

$1,000 – $4,999 1.39% 1.40%

$5,000 – $24,999 1.49% 1.50%

$25,000+ 1.64% 1.65%

Health Savings Account

$0 – $2,499 1.49% 1.50%

$2,500 – $9,999 1.98% 2%

$10,000+ 2.47% 2.50%

Certificates of Deposit less than $100,000

90 days 1.73% 1.75%

180 days 2.37% 02.4%

1 year 2.47% 2.50%

2 years 3.20% 0.25%

3 years 3.34% 3.40%

4 years 3.59% 3.66%

5 years 3.92% 4.0%

Credit Card Products Rates effective 12/01/04 10:00 A.M.

Visa Platinum Rewards Card: 11.90% $25,000

Good Neighbor Visa Credit Card: 8.99% $25,000

Student Visa Credit Card: 13.99% $2,500

Home Mortgage Loan Products Rates effective 12/17/2004 10:00 A.M.

Home Mortgage Loan

State Farm Bank offers a variety of Home Mortgage Loans, including affordable housing loans.

Below is an indication of our current rates for a purchase transaction, based on the assumptions specified.

Note: “ARM” is an acronym for “Adjustable-Rate Mortgage.”

An Adjustable-Rate Mortgage is a mortgage where interest rates are tied directly to the economy so your monthly payment could rise or fall.

Because you’re essentially sharing the market risks with the lender, you are compensated with an introductory rate that is lower than the going fixed rate.

30 Year Fixed Rate Conforming 5.875% -0.250% 0.000% 5.945%

15 Year Fixed Rate Conforming 5.375% -0.250% 0.000% 5.491%

1 Year ARM Conforming 4.500% 0.000% 0.000% 5.606%

3/1 ARM Conforming 5.000% 0.000% 0.000% 5.362%

3/1 ARM Jumbo 4.875% 0.000% 0.000% 5.332%

5/1 ARM Conforming 5.625% 0.000% 0.000% 5.550%

Pricing and Annual Percentage Rate Assumptions:

Location: Pricing could vary based on the state where the property is located.

Loan amount: $200,000 for conforming products; $400,000 for JUMBO products.

Loan-to-value ratio: 80% or lower.

Property type: Single Family Primary Residence.

Loan purpose: Purchase only.

Escrow: Customer escrows for taxes, insurance, etc.

as part of monthly payment.

Closing Costs/Prepaids: Estimated at 1% of the purchase price or value of the home.

Lock period: 30 days.

Income Documentation: All income used to qualify for a loan is documented.

Additional Notes:

Mortgage rates change on a daily basis and have the ability to change within the day depending on market conditions.

Your rate at loan approval may be different based on underwriting considerations and your individual financing request.

Fees and closing costs vary by geographic area and the type of loan.

All loans are considered as either a conforming loan or a JUMBO loan (also known as a non-conforming loan).

A conforming loan is a loan with a mortgage amount that does not exceed eligibility limits for purchase by the secondary mortgage market (i.e.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc.

A JUMBO loan is a loan with mortgage amount that exceeds the eligibility limits for purchase by the secondary mortgage market.

The APR and payments on Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) Loan Products are subject to change after the loan is closed due to the product’s variable-rate feature.

Home Equity Products Rates effective 12/6/2004 Home Equity Loans (Single Family, 1 to 4 units; Condominiums; Townhouses)

12-60 Months 5.74% 8.49% $5,000 – $500,000 61-120 Months 6.24% 8.99% $15,000 – $500,000 121-180 Months 7.49% 7.99% $15,000 – $500,000

Home Equity Lines of Credit (Single Family, 1 to 4 units; Condominiums; Townhouses)

84 Months 5.50% $5,000 – $500,000

Vehicle Loan Products Rates effective 12/6/2004

2005, 2004, 2003

12-36 Months 4.99% 13.50%

37-48 Months 4.99% 13.50%

49-60 Months 5.24% 13.50%

61-72 Months 6.24% 13.50%

Boats and RVs only 73-180 Months 7.74% 9.49%

2002, 2001, 2000

12-36 Months 5.49% 13.50%

37-48 Months 5.74% 13.50%

49-60 Months 6.49% 13.50%

Boats and RVs only 61-180 Months 7.99% 9.74%

1999, 1998

12-36 Months 6.74% 13.50%

37-48 Months 7.24% 13.50%

49-60 Months 7.74% 13.50%

Boats and RVs only 61-180 Months 8.24% 9.99%

1997 and older

12-36 Months 7.74% 13.50%

37-48 Months 8.24% 13.50%

A Special Birthday Surprise (Intermediate)

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

Listen in as David chats with his Mom, Lorna Avender, about her birthday; and one surprise in particular that only her daughter could have given her.

David: So, Mom, Friday, the twenty-second of October was a very special day-it was your birthday.

How was your birthday?

Lorna: It was a great day. I had the family over, I got some very nice gifts, and we ordered pizza.

David That’s right. Very good pizza.

Tell me about your gifts. There were some very nice gifts, but there was a special gift. So, tell me about those gifts, and the special one in particular.

Lorna: Well, I’ll tell you all of them. Your dad bought me two very nice nighties, and a very pretty blouse. He’s got very good taste. And, my terrific son bought me a VCR/DVD player, so that I can watch some movies that I like.

When Dad’s watching, you know, war movies or ‘This Old House,’ or ‘Fix Up This Old House,’ I can watch Barry Manilow or ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ DVDs. So that was very special. Then my daughter and my son-in-law, Kathy and Jamie, came over and I sat down and opened one of their gifts. One was a novel, a mystery novel, which I really enjoy. And then I got busy doing other things, and there were two presents remaining. My daughter was pacing up and down, and I’m thinking to myself, “She seems awfully nervous.”

I said, “Sit down, Kathy.” She said, “I just want you to open your gifts.” So anyway, I sat down and opened the next gift. It was a little book, and on the front of it, it said, “Grandma’s Brag Book.” It went through my head, “Oh, this is something for the future.” She said, “Open it, Mom,” and it said, “Coming 2005.” And I was speechless. I didn’t say a word! I said, “It’s not, you’re not!”

She’s just shaking her head and her eyes were filled with tears. That was the news, it was wonderful.

David Yeah, wonderful for everyone. And this is your very first, so Dad’s going to be a grandpa, and you’re going to be a grandma, and Dave’s going to be an uncle, which is exciting as well. How do you feel about this?

I mean, you know, for me, it’s exciting thinking of having a little kid I can play with once in a while. How do you feel? You’ve been through this, this is your own daughter having a child.

How do you feel about this?

Lorna: It’s exactly what you said. It’s your baby is having a baby, and there’s nothing that can compare to that. Nothing. I always wanted to be a grandmother, but I always felt that was their decision and there’s no need to be saying, “When are you starting a family?” The only thing my daughter said to me one time is that, “It doesn’t seem like the right time.” I said, “Well, if you’re looking for the right time, it’ll probably never be the right time. There will always be something.”

But that was all. This is a whole new chapter in our lives, it’s really exciting.

David I imagine she’s going to be asking advice, all kinds of advice, over the next nine months and probably for the rest of her life. “What do I do with my sixteen-year-old son? I can’t control him, he’s out of control, his hair is too long.” What has she asked you up until now? Has she asked you any funny anecdotes, does she have any questions for you yet?

Lorna: Well, I guess the most important one at this point is, “How much weight did you gain,” [laughter] and, “How did you feel?” I said, “Well, I gained twenty to twenty-five pounds, and actually it was the healthiest time of my life. I didn’t have any morning sickness, I just felt terrific.” And it’s going the same way with her, she can’t believe it because she feels so great.

David What are you looking forward to?

I’ve heard Judge Judy and others have said that the job of a grandparent is to spoil the kids rotten, because that’s what grandparents do. Grandparents have fun because they’re not disciplinarians. They’re the ones who spoil the kids, sneak them the candies, sneak them the dollar here, dollar there. What are you looking forward to most, as being a grandparent?

Lorna: Well, just having that little hand to hold, to have that little person say “Grandma.”

But as far as spoiling them, you can give them maybe a little bit of candy or something like that, but you don’t spoil them as far as discipline. You have the same rules that the parents have, and you just want them to be respectable children with respect for people.

David Last question: Tonight’s game-Red Sox and St. Louis. Who would you like to win, and why would you like them to win?

Lorna: Well, most people would probably disagree with me, but I’ve always been a St. Louis fan. I really like Tony LaRussa, the manager.

I think he’s a good guy, he’s very knowledgeable. I’d like to see him have a win, and also because Walker, one of the players, is from Maple Ridge, British Columbia. So he’s a hometown guy. But, unfortunately, I think the Boston team’s on a roll, so good luck to them.

David Thanks a lot, Mom. Okay, take care and thank you very much. That was Lorna Avender-my mom.

A Special Birthday Surprise

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

Listen in as David chats with his Mom, Lorna Avender, about her birthday; and one surprise in particular that only her daughter could have given her.

David: So, Mom, Friday, the twenty-second of October was a very special day-it was your birthday.

How was your birthday?

Lorna: It was a great day.

I had the family over, I got some very nice gifts, and we ordered pizza.

David That’s right.

Very good pizza.

Tell me about your gifts.

There were some very nice gifts, but there was a special gift.

So, tell me about those gifts, and the special one in particular.

Lorna: Well, I’ll tell you all of them.

Your dad bought me two very nice nighties, and a very pretty blouse.

He’s got very good taste.

And, my terrific son bought me a VCR/DVD player, so that I can watch some movies that I like.

When Dad’s watching, you know, war movies or ‘This Old House,’ or ‘Fix Up This Old House,’ I can watch Barry Manilow or ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ DVDs.

So that was very special.

Then my daughter and my son-in-law, Kathy and Jamie, came over and I sat down and opened one of their gifts.

One was a novel, a mystery novel, which I really enjoy.

And then I got busy doing other things, and there were two presents remaining.

My daughter was pacing up and down, and I’m thinking to myself, “She seems awfully nervous.”

I said, “Sit down, Kathy.”

She said, “I just want you to open your gifts.”

So anyway, I sat down and opened the next gift.

It was a little book, and on the front of it, it said, “Grandma’s Brag Book.”

It went through my head, “Oh, this is something for the future.”

She said, “Open it, Mom,” and it said, “Coming 2005.”

And I was speechless.

I didn’t say a word!

I said, “It’s not, you’re not!”

She’s just shaking her head and her eyes were filled with tears.

That was the news, it was wonderful.

David Yeah, wonderful for everyone.

And this is your very first, so Dad’s going to be a grandpa, and you’re going to be a grandma, and Dave’s going to be an uncle, which is exciting as well.

How do you feel about this?

I mean, you know, for me, it’s exciting thinking of having a little kid I can play with once in a while.

How do you feel?

You’ve been through this, this is your own daughter having a child.

How do you feel about this?

Lorna: It’s exactly what you said.

It’s your baby is having a baby, and there’s nothing that can compare to that. Nothing.

I always wanted to be a grandmother, but I always felt that was their decision and there’s no need to be saying, “When are you starting a family?”

The only thing my daughter said to me one time is that, “It doesn’t seem like the right time.”

I said, “Well, if you’re looking for the right time, it’ll probably never be the right time.

There will always be something.”

But that was all.

This is a whole new chapter in our lives, it’s really exciting.

David I imagine she’s going to be asking advice, all kinds of advice, over the next nine months and probably for the rest of her life.

“What do I do with my sixteen-year-old son?

I can’t control him, he’s out of control, his hair is too long.”

What has she asked you up until now?

Has she asked you any funny anecdotes, does she have any questions for you yet?

Lorna: Well, I guess the most important one at this point is, “How much weight did you gain,” [laughter] and, “How did you feel?”

I said, “Well, I gained twenty to twenty-five pounds, and actually it was the healthiest time of my life.

I didn’t have any morning sickness, I just felt terrific.”

And it’s going the same way with her, she can’t believe it because she feels so great.

David What are you looking forward to?

I’ve heard Judge Judy and others have said that the job of a grandparent is to spoil the kids rotten, because that’s what grandparents do.

Grandparents have fun because they’re not disciplinarians.

They’re the ones who spoil the kids, sneak them the candies, sneak them the dollar here, dollar there.

What are you looking forward to most, as being a grandparent?

Lorna: Well, just having that little hand to hold, to have that little person say “Grandma.”

But as far as spoiling them, you can give them maybe a little bit of candy or something like that, but you don’t spoil them as far as discipline.

You have the same rules that the parents have, and you just want them to be respectable children with respect for people.

David Last question: Tonight’s game-Red Sox and St. Louis.

Who would you like to win, and why would you like them to win?

Lorna: Well, most people would probably disagree with me, but I’ve always been a St.

Louis fan.

I really like Tony LaRussa, the manager.

I think he’s a good guy, he’s very knowledgeable.

I’d like to see him have a win, and also because Walker, one of the players, is from Maple Ridge, British Columbia.

So he’s a hometown guy.

But, unfortunately, I think the Boston team’s on a roll, so good luck to them.

David Thanks a lot, Mom.

Okay, take care and thank you very much.

That was Lorna Avender-my mom.

Leaders of Tomorrow (Advanced)

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

In this conversation, Steve speaks with Rebecca about networking and mentorship opportunities available to members of the Vancouver Board of Trade’s Leaders of Tomorrow program.

Hello.

My name is Rebecca Clapperton, and I work with the Vancouver Board of Trade`s “Leaders of Tomorrow” program. Good morning. Very nice of you to spend the time.

Thank you.

I`ve been very interested in your program, because first of all it`s new, it didn`t exist before … And I should first of all apologize for the noise because we`re in a public area here. In fact some people are walking by and we`ll wait `til they get by here.

But basically what you have done is you have gotten students to become interested in the Board of Trade.

Um hmm.

And the program introduces them to the activities of the Board of Trade but the students are in charge , is that correct?

With … It is a very student driven program, yes that`s correct.

Okay.

Tempered with business advice and expertise.

I see. Student driven. So in fact how do they drive the program?

They drive the program by being a part of the development of the program. It`s a program which services their development so they are responsible for evaluating the program to see that it meets the objectives that they hope to accomplish.

And what are their objectives?

Well, on an individual basis they may come in for three different reasons. One they want to learn how to network and be connected to the greater community. So …

Meaning the greater business community?

The greater business community.

Right.

And this is where the business mentors really do assist them in their own personal development. They`re partnered with an individual from the business community. They meet once a month over coffee or at a luncheon or a breakfast function which then introduces them to a number of other people. They`re able to model and reflect the acumen or the expertise of the business person at that very session. So that would be one way that they`re learning how to build their own personal networks.

Let me ask you a question.

Are these students typically business students?

Typically. Right now two-thirds of the students are business students.

Business students.

Yeah.

We have more of a focus this year on recruiting those under-represented areas because the Arts and the Science and the Engineering students have as much to learn from business community contacts and access as the Business students. And often times you`ll see the Commerce and Business Faculties actually have the supportive relationships and the resources to do something similar or they`ve already had access to it.

But at the present time it`s heavy to business students and the objective, number one was networking. And you provide them with mentors, who are business people, who spend one … meet with them once a month in an informal environment.

Right, two hours. Right.

Two hours.

Right.

And provide them advice .

Right.

And talk to them about their business. And so that would be the networking aspect. What would be the second objective? You said there were three objectives, I think.

Yeah.

Really, students come in and they`re very interested in developing their own career plan. So they may want an industry-specific partnership. Where previously we mentioned networking as a goal, or interpersonal skill development, building confidence in the business environment, the … that could have been a partnership or a mentor match which was cross-discipline. So, you`ve got a student that`s maybe in film, studying in film, and you have a mentor that`s maybe a banker, but very well versed in networking .

So, because the objective in that partnership is networking we could cross-discipline. Now if you`ve got a student in film that would like to explore the industry of film and the realities of industry here in Vancouver, well then you would look specifically for a business mentor that has been in industry and has knowledge of industry.

That`s very interesting. You used the term “partnership”. So therefore the mentor and the mentoree, they form a partnership .

I think so.

And how long is that partnership for?

Eight months.

For eight months.

That`s right.

I see and then you specifically either, depending on the desire or the needs of the student, you either match them with someone that reinforces their background or someone from a different background.

Precisely.

To cross … what did you call that? Cross-ventilate ?

It`s almost. Yeah, cross-pollinate, yeah exactly.

Cross-pollinate. Okay.

Taking off the blinders . Imagine a horse with some blinders. Right.

A student may be on a career path as a result of their academic study. A PhD in Chemistry was one of our very famous examples. So, had gone through seven years of chemistry work in a lab and realized that was not the career.

They did not want to remain in the laboratory experience. So partnered with a management consultant, he learned that many of the skills, through volunteers, and that he had developed, they were transferable. And he could be a Project Manager outside of the laboratory experience in a number of different settings.

Very interesting. Now was there a third objective? Or have we more or less covered …

A small number of students come into the program to explore some entrepreneurial aspirations. So we may specifically partner them with a business mentor that`s run a few small businesses, or been there, done that.

Okay.

You know, it`s interesting, I was reading in the Vancouver Sun the other day that a high percentage of business graduates from UBC, and Commerce graduates, are finding employment today.

Okay.

Whereas I know the job market for recent graduates has been difficult in some sectors.

That`s right.

Yes.

But it`s interesting that business graduates are getting jobs.

Um hmm.

The other interesting thing was a study that the Board … or no, I think it was the BC Business Council did, showing what employers are looking for in employees.

Okay.

And number one was the ability to communicate.

Okay.

Absolutely.

And I think this relates to your experience here. I guess some of these students who might have an academic background, need to learn how to communicate with business people.

Absolutely.

Yeah, and it`s a confidence building exercise. Because initially, they are … the students are asking of themselves, “Well, why would a business member want to communicate with me? Why would a business member wish to speak to me? What do I have to offer?” And so there`s a personal learning exercise in coming to know what value you bring to the conversation and what you bring to that exchange through a networking environment.

Are some of the students … I mean in a university environment, people tend to be a little bit cynical, often, about the business community.

Sure. Absolutely it is yeah.

They`re radical, they`re manning the barricades , fighting or whatever.

You bet, part of the exercise, yeah.

And so then they come here and what sort of … do some of them come in with a bit of an attitude?

You bet. You bet. Not as many. Many students that might have those dispositions have self-selected not to participate. And so that`s part of our public relations exercise, is connecting with those students, so that they understand. Part of what we hope to accomplish is to break down those stereotypes.

Right.

Absolutely we have some … we have a Community Affairs Committee at the Vancouver Board of Trade that is the “conscience” of the Board of Trade, so they like to say.

They are out there in the community talking about transportation issues, health, education, they`re very vested, they have a very vested interest in supporting the greater community objective, so … and you can actually connect with one person as a business person that works in a larger organization and find out that they have a family, and they have other volunteer commitments, and they make decisions on a day-to-day basis that support their business, yes, but they do them from an individual and a global perspective that is very ethical, and you bet we`re trying to breakdown some of those stereotypes .

Do the students themselves come with some experience in volunteering as well?

Oh yes.

Or do they get involved in volunteering when they`re on the program?

They do.

Volunteering is very important to us. We believe that there`s a very positive type of learning that happens when you offer your service to the greater community . So, many of the students already … they`ve taken the initiative to apply for the program, so many of them have also taken the initiative to volunteer through their careers. But we also see this as an opportunity to begin building that volunteer experience, because often times employers will look at your volunteer experience just as heavily as they`ll look at your previous work experience. You may not have had a chance to develop strategy for a greater business, but you may have had a chance to develop strategy for a fundraising committee on a student club for example. So there are ways for you to explore some of your talents and skills.

And we put those student talents and skills, absolutely, to work, in the greater work we have to do with the program.

Now let`s get back, if we can, to a point that you made at the beginning, about how the students manage or drive the program. Obviously the mentors, the members of the Board of Trade, who take the time once a month to meet with the students, they don`t want to be involved in organizing and running this program. So it really comes back to the students running it. Although you are an employee of the Board of Trade.

That`s right.

And so you provide a sort of a coordinating function. But what kinds of things, and how … do the students do, and how do they organize themselves to do it?

Just like any other campus club, the students develop objectives and goals. So, for example, they would like to increase the profile of the program. Let`s take a look at media relations and let`s develop a plan for how to receive exposure through the greater media. Develop relationships with specific reporters. Write press releases. Get coverage in our own local newspaper, the Sounding Board, which is the Vancouver Board of Trade`s paper. That would be media relations. Another would be event management, which everyone loves to do. Right.

Which includes everything from fundraising to logistical planning to hosting and public speaking. There`s a lot of fun ways to get involved with event planning, and students carry that through, depending on what their greater objectives are that year.

You know, you may be aware that we, in developing this language learning material, in English, were also, obviously, in contact with many of the recent immigrants here to Vancouver, many of whom are professionals, and looking at ways that they might be able to better network with the business community. And some of the things you described, I think, could also have application for that group as well. But then they would have to take the initiative.

Yes.

To organize, to perhaps, in committee, decide on events that they wanted to have, perhaps publicize the fact that they are here, they do exist …

Yeah, absolutely.

… they want to connect with the broader community. And yeah, I see some real parallels there.

I guess it would be a matter of getting some “keeners”. Like, how important is it … like obviously you cannot pull these students if they aren`t coming with you.

Umm.

So there have to be some very motivated people in the student group. Is that the case? Do you have some very keen people, or are you having to kind of orchestrate this thing for them?

No, when I say student-driven, I do mean that I have the pleasure to work with people that are personally very driven to develop their career paths, to develop their own skills, and they do so by committing themselves to greater community initiatives. So we`ve had the fortune to involve them in our activities or they see benefit in their personal commitment .

So they see benefit in, (1) developing their network through the work that they`re doing, (2) having some practical experiences to apply to their resume. And it just grows and builds from there.

I know that you`ve indicated a willingness to spend some time with a … you know if we do get a group of these recent professional immigrants who want to develop a similar program that you would be willing to provide some advice.

Right.

Darcy Rezac, who is the Managing Director, has also indicated that he would support such an effort and make some special memberships available to some of these immigrant professionals. Obviously a big obstacle is language.

Okay.

Because all of the students of course are … most of them would be native speakers of English?

Absolutely, yeah.

Even if they were immigrants themselves, they`d been in the school system for 10 years or whatever.

Or so. Yeah.

Or so, yeah. So therefore that would be one of the obstacles. Hopefully though, if our group can improve their English skills, then they could organize something similar, tailored to their specific needs. And some of the things you said are quite interesting. For example, someone with an IT background might be partnered with someone in a totally unrelated background, which would help, perhaps, broaden their perspective .

Absolutely.

One question, of course, is how does one best recruit the mentors? Because obviously you have to find people that are going to spend the time.

Um hmm.

Because … oh, and maybe I should ask this question. What is the commitment from the mentor? He has to spend … he or she has to spend the two hours a month.

Um hmm.

Is there anything beyond that, or is it just the two hours a month of time?

Right now that`s the basics.

Right.

That`s the basics.

And what is the motivation on the part of the mentor? Why are they willing to do this?

Well, you`re a business person.

Um hmm.

You`ve run several successful companies. You`re an entrepreneur. From your perspective what would attract you to participating in this program?

I guess … that`s a good question, for you to turn the tables on me . I think there`s always the sort of human interest thing to meet someone. I mean, if I were, as a business person, to meet rather a recent immigrant, or a young student, to see what their perspective on life is, you know it`s always … it`s broadening and interesting from a human interest point of view.

Second of all, you never know, you might find someone there that could be helpful to your business …Um hmm.

… it`s a … I would say a way, without any commitment …

Um hmm.

… that you can meet people.

And the third thing, I think, is if you think genuinely that you`re helping someone, then that`s always gratifying, to feel that you`re doing something to help someone else. So I mean just right off the bat …

Exactly.

… I can think of three reasons. Exactly.

… that it would interest me to do something …

And those three …

Yeah.

… reasons are really key to our recruitment exercise. I think that the period of transition , whether you`re working with recent immigrants or whether you`re working with recent graduates, transition is a very exciting time to assist people through, and to have the greatest impact on their personal development.

So how do you recruit mentors then?

Do you …

We`ve had …

… mail everybody in the Board of Trade? Or …?

No, no.

No.

We`ve had the fortune to be a program established as a Vancouver Board of Trade program, and I would say for the most part, a trend among other mentoring programs is that their greatest challenge is recruiting mentors, and we haven`t had that challenge, because we`ve built up credibility in being a Board of Trade program. We had the fortune to develop relationships with business members.

Um hmm.

So it`s been relationship driven and referral driven, and each year retention gets higher and higher, and certainly ” word of mouth ” has been fabulous for us.

Now, is it very important, then that the, I don`t know if the term is “mentorees”, but the students then, perform … Mentee.

Mentee.

That they perform well.

Should.

In other words, if you have a lot of students who are, to use the word “duds”, in other words, they`re not interested, they`re not interesting, they`re not … they don`t … because to some extent they have to give something …Yeah. … to the mentor.

Right.

And so, what is normally … what is expected of the mentee, of the student, what … do you give them some advice on how to make this “partnership”, as you call it, successful? Um hmm.

We hope that they, at the very beginning of the year, can articulate what they wish to get out of the program. That way, both student and mentor can evaluate to see whether they`ve achieved those established goals as a partnership.

I guess it`s important, too, that the student not have the approach that somehow he`s going to get a job out of this, because it`s very much not that way, it`s …

It`s not the objective of the program.

Okay.

And so I guess in terms of the recent immigrants, I guess, the big thing is to make sure that their English, those that we do select for the program, that their English skills are up to the mark.

Um hmm.

Otherwise there could be some frustration, or dissatisfaction, or disappointment on the part of the mentor. Have you … let me ask you this, have you had some comments from mentors, where they have not been happy with their mentee, and if so, what are some of the criticisms?

I think that happens in any interpersonal development program. Evaluation is key to your continuous improvement. So you will find that in our first year – we`re headed into our fourth year now – and in our first year of programming, the selection process for students wasn`t as honed as it might be now, nor was the demand for the program.

So now we have a greater number of students to pull from, or to select from, whereas initially, in building the program, it was almost an … each applicant that came forward was accepted into the program.

But, what would, just … I mean perhaps this could be our final point. What are the things to watch to for ? What kind of people make poor mentees? What kinds of problems would be … you know, would impact on the reaction of the mentors?

Expectation levels of what is … what the program will deliver, and certainly commitment level to what they can accomplish.

Um hmm.

Or commitment level to their personal goals.

Um hmm.

Their personal goals need to be within what we promise.

Right.

And if they wish to meet the most senior level people within the business community, we can`t promise that to each and every individual in our program.

Yeah.

So we need to bring it back to the individual goals of the student, but within our global programming, and then support them through that. And then they need to have the personal initiative to make it happen , because we will not monitor to the point, or provide specific support. You need to know how to tap into the insight of your mentor , and you need to volunteer to build your networks .

So therefore the … it`s very important that the mentee, the student, or if it`s a recent immigrant, be interested in the mentor.

You can`t go there with the attitude as, “Here I am”, you know, “Do something for me”. It has to be one of “I`m a person, you`re a person, here`s what I … my background. What is your background? What are your interests?” And there has to be a two-way level of communication there.

Two-way is quite key, I think.

It`s been interesting for us to note that mentors learn as much from the program as the students do, but both members do need to be committed to the relationship, which means that we, as a program, need to facilitate proper fit and rapport building, and if the fit isn`t there very early on, we need to re-establish a new relationship.

Right, okay. Well, you know, we`ve covered a lot of ground.

Yeah.

I think it`s been very, very interesting, and I thank you very much for taking the time.

Thanks very much.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

It was more than 100 years ago that George Grant Mackay discovered the spot where Capilano Suspension Bridge now stands.

Impressed by the beauty of the land, he built a cabin for himself and his wife.

Then, with the help of the local Indians, August Jack and Willie Khahtsahlano and a team of horses, he pulled taut the first hemp rope and cedar plank bridge 450 feet across the Capilano River.

Mackay’s friends began their journey to the bridge by crossing Burrard Inlet aboard the S.S.

Senator.

A long trek up the rough trail that is now Capilano Road led to their being dubbed The Capilano Tramps.

The encumbrances of their dress did little to deter the spirited adventurers who steadily visited the bridge.

It was such a popular attraction that a second, and more secure, wire bridge was built in 1903.

Another wire bridge, with cable ends firmly encased in concrete, was built in 1914.

It is the ultimate tourist attraction: wilderness a few minutes from downtown, a hair-raising sense of danger when you walk 70 meters (more than 200 feet) above the yawning chasm of the Capilano River on a 450-foot bridge that seems to respond to every step you make, photo stops, a souvenir shop, teahouse, native carving displays, etc.

The sheer granite cliffs of the Capilano Canyon were carved out more than a hundred centuries ago by natural water courses left behind by glacial action.

Visitors from all over the world now flock to Capilano Suspension Bridge.

In 1911, the Tea House (now the trading post) was built on the edge of Capilano Canyon.

Later, during the 1930s, bridge owner Mac MacEachran initiated the tradition of inviting local Indians to place their totem poles on the grounds.

The totems now present are those originals poles, maintained in the exact condition in which they were received more than 60 years ago.

In 1956 the present suspension bridge was built.

This time the pre-stressed wire cables were encased in 13 tons of concrete at either end.

Capilano Suspension Bridge is conveniently located 10 minutes from downtown Vancouver through Stanley Park over Lions Gate Bridge and north 1 mile on Capilano Road.

From the Trans-Canada Highway take the Capilano Road exit and travel north half a mile.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park is open every day except Christmas Day.

The Flu

This and all episodes of this podcast are available to study as a lesson on LingQ. Try it here.

I am very sick.

I feel terrible.

I have a headache and my nose is stuffed.

I can’t breathe or taste food very well.

My throat hurts and my energy is very low.

I went to the doctor yesterday and he told me that I have the flu.

He said that the flu is not a serious sickness and that I will feel better in a few days.

He told me that I must take care of myself so that it doesn’t develop into something worse.

He said that if I am not careful, my sickness could develop into pneumonia and if this happened, my symptoms would get much worse.

After visiting the doctor, I decided that the best thing for me to do would be to stay at home and take care of myself.

Now, I am drinking a lot of lemon tea and resting so that I will feel better soon.

Interviews and Resumes

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

In this episode, Steve talks with Art about resume writing, job interviews and other aspects of finding a job.

STEVE: Hi Art.

ART: Good afternoon Steve.

STEVE: Hi there, do you mind if I come into your office and bother you a little bit?

ART: Sure go right ahead.

STEVE: Just thought I would pick your brains a little bit on the issue of people looking for jobs and what kinds of things people should bear in mind both in terms of their resume and then when they finally get a job interview?

ART: I certainly think when preparing your resume you should be clear and brief and to the point.Certainly you want to put your best foot forward. Keep in mind that most people looking at resumes; it’s not just your resume they’re looking at; they’ve got hundreds of them and so if you have a lot of volume there that sort of gets people side-tracked; it probably is not going to make it to the top of the pile. So certainly be clear and concise.

STEVE: That’s a very interesting point and I must say I agree because I have looked at resumes. Short is good.

ART: Short is very good!

STEVE: Short is very good especially if you have a lot of resumes to go through, yes you’re not impressed by 3 pages.

ART: No, resumes should ideally be one page, page and a half.No more than two pages.

STEVE: Now I know that some people, particularly people who come from a different culture, are sometimes told that in Canada you have to sell yourself; in a North American society you can’t be too modest. But, by the same token, very often if I see claims on a resume: I am clever, I am excellent, I am very capable, I am this, I am that. It doesn’t create a very good impression. So how do you strike a good balance between being too modest and or being obviously, you know, overblown?

ART: That’s a hard one, but I guess the best thing is to try to put yourself in the person reading this resume, in their shoes. Is it believable? Is what you’re putting out believable?If you’re getting a little too carried away then chances are that if you can see that, then anybody reading it can see it as well. But getting back to the point of the brevity is, you know, just try to do the highlights of what jobs you’ve worked for and what community activities you’ve been involved in and hobbies and so forth. Don’t bother telling a person that you can run a Xerox machine because in this day and age that’s assumed that you can.

STEVE: But that raises an interesting point too. A lot of people say they are good with computers because they can use Microsoft Word.Again one has to be careful, I guess a person would have to be very specific in terms of what those skills are.

ART: Well certainly and maybe just sort of highlighting what the programs you are proficient with. However that can be a double-edged sword as well if you don’t list one of the programs that your potential employer is looking for. So again when preparing a resume try to make it as personal or adjust it to the job that you are applying for so one size doesn’t fit all. You know, try to do some research. Not always possible but if you can try to find out something about the company by going to do the library and doing those kinds of searches.Sort of try to tailor it to the job specifications so that if they’re asking for a Project Accountant don’t tell them that you’re a Professional Engineer or something like that with accounting skills. Just make sure that your skills that come forward are those that one looking for a Project Accountant would match to that skill set.

STEVE: One other thing too is skills are one thing but I guess the potential employer is always looking to see what sort of personality, what sort of character the applicant has. Sometimes if a person is missing one or two specific skills but has a very good attitude, or is very positive, or makes a good impression this can be more important than the skills.How does one deal with that?

ART: Certainly make sure that you proofread your resume.Spelling mistakes on a resume are a killer as are bad grammatical usage. So it’s not just that you should proofread your resume, get somebody else that is good at proofreading resumes to read it for you because often you’re too close. You’ve spent all this time putting this resume together; you just don’t see the inconsistencies, or you don’t see the spelling mistakes or you don’t see the bad grammar or whatever.

STEVE: It certainly does, because, as you say, we get lots of applicants and we’re looking for reasons to reject people almost.

ART: You’re looking for reasons to, sort of, in your mind, get the cream of the crop so any mistake can be a death knell on a resume.

STEVE: Now how about when you get into the interview?What should you be thinking of in the job interview itself?

ART: Well certainly I think because you don’t know who you’re going to be interviewed by it’s best to err on the side of being conservative, so you know, if you have earrings you can or cannot take off, especially if you’re a guy, it’s probably best to leave those off, you never know. Certainly be well presented; I don’t say that you have to have an expensive suit on but make sure what you wear is clean and well-pressed, and that you’ve taken care to clean your fingernails and stuff like that. Basic personal hygiene goes a long way in the interview situation! Once you’re in this situation try (it’s harder for some people than others) to be as relaxed as possible.Cause somebody that comes across as being uptight in the interview situation, the interviewer doesn’t know quite how to take that. Is it because this person is just nervous or what are they trying to hide? You know?

STEVE: OK those are some good suggestions. So have you got any travel plans in the near future?

ART: Unfortunately not I just see a lot of work ahead of me for the next couple of months until we coast into April 30th which is tax time in Canada.

STEVE: OK thank you very much.

ART: OK.

STEVE: Bye.

From Refugee to Active Citizen


Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

Steve speaks with Farouk Verjee.  Farouk tells of his background as a refugee from Uganda, the law practice he established in Canada, and the situation faced by new Canadians today. A very interesting story of a successful Canadian.

This morning I am meeting with a friend of mine, Farouk Verjee, who is a very strong Canadian and believer in Canada and who came to this country, how many years ago?

When was it that you first came to Canada?

I came in `73 from Uganda.

And I guess there was a political situation in Uganda at the time that encouraged you to leave?

Well, Idi Amin sent the whole Asian community packing and those of us who were citizens of Uganda became stateless and Canada was one of the countries that extended its generosity by welcoming us.

Were you then, at that time, in fact a refugee or what was your status at that time?

Yes, I was a stateless person and I came out of the refugee program.

I see, you were a citizen of Uganda, (I was a citizen of Uganda) but your family had originated …?

My forefathers left India around 1876 and they migrated to, what was in those days known as British East Africa; which was Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. And those 3 countries eventually evolved into separate nation states and we were in Uganda and we became Ugandan nationals.

And you arrived then in 1973, you said, in Montreal?

Actually, well we landed – our first stop was Halifax and the airport in Halifax is quite a ways out of town and looked very barren and desolate, and the passenger next door to me said, “Now you know why Canada has accepted you.” And that`s where we got our landed status and then we flew on to Montreal.

And what sorts of occupations or fields of endeavour have you been involved in since 1973?

Well, I`m a lawyer by training from the U.K. and when I first came to Vancouver I worked as a lawyer`s clerk, if you will , or I was given the designation legal assistant, but basically doing minimal legal work assisting other lawyers.

And did you stay in the legal field?

I didn`t because I had to go back to law school to re-qualify which would have been a 4-year undertaking. Very costly time-wise and money-wise, and I didn`t have the financial resources to become a full-time student for 4 years.

This is quite a common problem, is it not, for recent immigrants? What is a solution to this problem? Is it that the Canadian professions are too protective? Is it a genuine concern about maintaining the standards? Is it … How do we resolve this problem?

Let me tell you how we resolve it. I guess, number one, I was a lawyer trained in the U.K., so it`s the English Common Law system, very similar to the Canadian system.

And you know, we always talk about union-bashing and the unions are this and the unions are that, well the lawyer`s union is one of the most powerful unions in this country and we all know the profession is overcrowded. And this country really doesn`t need more lawyers and the profession really doesn`t want to dilute its work by accepting more and more foreign lawyers. So there are some hurdles to be cleared. But, as it happened, I decided to go into commercial real estate as a career. And so it was a switch and, on the whole, I think it`s been a positive switch. My father was a lawyer for 30 years and he never really wanted me to practice law, so I guess his wish was fulfilled.

How did you find, what was your experience like in the field of commercial real estate?

It was very difficult because I had this lawyer`s attitude of protecting my client. But I usually ended up representing buyers and my commission was being paid by the seller. So really it was the seller who was my client and not the buyer. So it was a very difficult adjustment; instead of conducting myself strictly as a professional I had to become a salesperson and it`s a huge shift and not an easy one, but over the years I`ve learned to understand that you really have to try and balance both parties` interests to be able to act as an effective middleman to earn a commission.

And did you operate in British Columbia only?

Originally, I operated in British Columbia and then I looked further east towards Ontario because there were opportunities in Ontario, and subsequently I even went to the States because there was a big movement of people looking for business opportunities in the United States. So I went down to Texas and California. I suppose it was part of my education.

No doubt. I would imagine that a very good command of English is a precondition for a business such as commercial real estate.

I think it`s so vitally important and in my case, when I was about 7 or 8, my father insisted that I spoke to him in English because he felt that language is such a powerful tool.

It`s much more important than having academic qualifications because if you cannot communicate, you cannot conduct business, you cannot build social relations , you cannot be part of the big society and the big picture that everybody wants to be. So whilst I would converse with my mother in my mother-tongue, my father insisted that I had to speak to him in English and my school holidays were very trying because every day at the breakfast table my father would give me 10 words that I had to look up in the dictionary and construct a sentence which gave a different meaning to the word. But at the end of the day , I ended up achieving a very good command of the English language.

And if I may quote Sir Winston Churchill he wasn`t a very bright student, he actually failed Latin, and he was confined to becoming a good student of English and, you know, today he is regarded as probably somebody who was able to write the best English in the simplest of words, and to be a great communicator of the English language. And speaking of English, and I respect all other languages, and I do speak other languages like French and German. Today English is such an important language that it`s a passport to 90 percent of the world business community. It`s the language of business, it`s the language of commerce, it`s the language that allows you to be independent.

It`s an interesting word: passport.

Because it really does enable you to go anywhere in the world. Similarly in Canada, I think even for someone who wasn`t born in this country, if you can speak English comfortably, you can go to any little village, any town anywhere, even within Canada. Sometimes, recent immigrants who tend sometimes to concentrate in certain areas in certain big cities might feel a bit of a reluctance to go to some of the smaller communities in the hinterland where there aren`t so many people of their origin. But certainly, everyone that I`ve spoken to who has gone to those smaller communities finds that as long as you can communicate there is no problem.

Not only no problem, but I know from the history of the settlement of my own community, which is the Israeli Muslim community, that the people who left the major urban centres and went into smaller towns and communities prospered, the opportunities were greater and they actually found greater acceptance in small communities because smaller communities tend to be more welcoming and there`s less competition compared to big cities. And a lot of new immigrants do not have the sophistication to compete with people who have been around much longer.

And I think the smaller communities often are more welcoming and care more about the members of that community, whereas in a big city nobody really cares that much about their neighbours.

That, and I think the family unit is probably stronger in the rural community as opposed to big cities.

People have more time for each other. People give out a helping hand . But you have to become part of the community; you cannot live in your own little world . That`s important.

Now as someone who, since coming to Canada, has placed a lot of importance on being part of the community, like you have, and being a Muslim, how did the events of September the 11th and some of the reaction and fallout from that affect you?

Well it`s very interesting because, as you know, I would think the majority of Muslims are extremely troubled by what happened . We do not believe it was a reflection of the faith.

But the fact of the matter is the terrorists were from the Muslim part of the world, and we hear about clash of civilizations etc, but what helped us immensely is that, because I was very much involved as part of the big community, I had so many people who reached out to me and said, “Farouk, we are sorry what has happened, is there anything we can do, is there any way we can help?”

In fact, at our house of worship in North Vancouver, 3 ladies actually showed up one day with a bouquet of flowers (I wasn`t there of course but the lay minister told me) to extend a gesture of goodwill towards us and say that we recognize that you are a peaceful religious community and we from another faith community just want to acknowledge this fact by bringing a little bouquet of flowers. And I don`t think they would have done that unless there was a genuine and sincere effort to reach out and become part and parcel of the community.

Do you think that the Muslim community, I mean even before September 11th, was not sufficiently well understood and how does one deal with that ?

Undoubtedly there is a longer history of Christianity, of the Jewish religion, and so forth, in this civilization in this country; how does one bridge that? How do people become more familiar with the Muslim faith?

I believe in one thing – that the only way people can understand your faith or your culture is if YOU reach out as a newcomer and get involved . And I think one of the easiest ways to get involved is by becoming a volunteer in a community-based organization, because as a volunteer, there`s no financial interest involved, there`s no political interest involved, but you are meeting people, you are communicating with them, you are interacting with them and that`s the only way they can find out what your faith or what your culture or what your value systems represent.

And you will find that most cultures put forward very positive ideals for coexistence and respect for the environment, respect for diversity.

You know, it`s interesting, the image of Islam that`s presented of course recently seems to emphasize, this sort of, I think they`re called, “Wahabi” the extremists and that seems to be the only image that`s put forward; all we ever see on the screen is that. And of course I know because I`m interested in history; the period of, in a sense , the renaissance of Muslim civilization from I guess the 8th to the 14th or 15th century, but we don`t see very much of that, there`s very little representation of that on television or elsewhere.

Some of the philosophers, I think leading doctors …

Well, there`s a reason for that, and I think the reason for it is that the majority of the Muslim faith community is a silent majority . They live in the rural areas of their respective countries; they have very little voice in the choice of government. So the governments do not really represent the people. We take democracy for granted here, we take elections for granted here, but I do not believe there is one or more, or what`s at least very few Muslim countries which you can say are democratic in the Western sense. You`ve got despotic governments, you`ve got monarchies, you`ve got dictatorships, and these people are supposedly speaking for their people but they have no mandate from their people.

And you have the unholy trinity of ignorance, poverty and disease and you have a total waste of the oil wealth. And, most regrettably, Islam in the Western world is only seen through the prism of the Arab-Israeli conflict which is not a religious conflict. It is a conflict involving land. And in the context of British Columbia, I said to most of my friends, if you can imagine the native Indian people are saying, “This is our land.” And we are saying, “Yes, it is your land but we are now here, and we have to work out a reasonable co-existence.”

I personally have been to Israel and I`ve seen what a remarkable country it is and I said to myself, “The whole of the Middle East could be so remarkable when you look at the tremendous resources of manpower and financial resources that are available there.” The reality is that the Jewish people have always had an existence in Israel. I mean, they are the oldest monotheistic tradition. And Christians are monotheistic, by which I mean, worship of one god, and so are Muslims, so we are really part of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition. But in the Western world, Islam really stopped at the gates of Vienna, when the Muslims invaded Europe. And that`s where the demarcation has been formed.

But you know it`s interesting in a sense, some of those rivalries that go back to the medieval period; I mean that was a different world then and there`s also a very strong demarcation between Eastern Christianity, Orthodox Christianity, and Western Christianity; things that mean much, much less to us today. And I think the concern is that we take some of these almost medieval rivalries and bring them into modern context.

And I think to the extent that the sort of Islam versus Christianity, or Islam versus the West conflict is an ideological one, then it`s almost medieval, and I agree with you that some of those countries, their problem is not that they`re Muslim, the problem is that they`re still … it`s not fair to say -they`re not backward … but they`re operating in a mode that is more akin to the medieval period than it is to today.

Well, I think the tragedy of the Muslim world is we claim that there is no distinction between the faith and your daily existence; that there`s an integral approach; the faith should reverberate on your daily lives.

So Islamic societies have tended not to be secular but the state and the church, if you will, are one. Whereas the Christian world decided at the time of the Reformation that that was not going to work; and that the state has its place and the church has its place. And maybe in the Western world the secularization has gone too far , from my point of view, because where do your children learn the ethics of society? I`m not saying this to promote a particular religion, but you can`t start learning the ethics of a society after you leave university. Ethics have to be taught at a very early state.

So in a sense while the Western world has made fantastic material progress, I think they have also lost something in the process and which is the ethical values; respect for humankind.

But, you know, it`s interesting, in the Middle Ages, which was the period when the West was presumably the most religious, when there was no separation between church and state prior to the Reformation. That did not necessarily correspond to peace. King Richard the Lionheart, whatever, would be praying in his cathedral and then he`d go out and lay waste to the countryside of France; and kill everybody he could see.

Like so much in life, I mean there`s all kinds of contradictions, but maybe we could close off by looking at Canada and so we have all these different communities who might be religious communities, or communities of different ethnic origins, we have the larger Canadian community, we have the local community, how do all these different communities … how do we get a sense of solidarity and common goals in Canada?

Well, I think first and foremost is take pride in being Canadian. When we first came, Senator Ray Perrault gave us very good advice: he said become “unhyphenated” Canadians. Now, I don`t need to identify myself as a visible Canadian; anyone who sees me sees I`m brown.

I don`t need to identify myself as a Muslim-Canadian; a name like Farouk tells you I`m a Muslim. And what does it matter whether I`m brown or whether I`m Muslim, the important thing is that I`m an active citizen contributing to the welfare of my country. For my sake , for my children`s sake and for everybody else`s sake. And I think we, as Canadians, have a unique opportunity of projecting ourselves to the world as a tolerant, peaceful, diverse society in which each one is able to pray to their own god, take pride in their ancestral values and yet take greater pride in being Canadian. Because the first generation immigrants obviously harked back to their motherland.

But you have to think of your children as to how they will best fit into Canadian society. My forefathers left India over 100 years ago and my father never visited India in his lifetime. To me, Africa is still, when I refer to back home, I still think of Africa. And yet I am not African by race, but certainly Africa has a certain warmth and nostalgia for me. But I`ve made a very determined effort to be a good Canadian by getting involved in volunteer work, getting involved in the political life of Canada. Being an active community worker where I live because where I live is my community; these are where my neighbours are and my neighbours are part of my community. And my faith group is also part of my community.

And my professional association is also part of my community. But the most important thing is that I am Canadian and for a couple of years, when I first came, I used to travel around as a stateless person from airport to airport, and I was always viewed with a great deal of suspicion. And when I finally got my Canadian citizenship the thought that nobody could ever take it away from me; ever, ever, ever not only gave me pride but so much peace and comfort. I mean, I was born in Uganda; my mother was born in Uganda. My father was constitutional advisor to the first Prime Minister of Uganda and took part in the independence negotiations and yet, by a stroke of a pen, we could all be stripped of our nationality.

And what people don`t realise is that once you have met the citizenship requirements it is your RIGHT to become a Canadian citizen. In the United States, it is still a privilege; you can be denied citizenship. But in Canada, as long as you have conducted yourself properly, it is your right. How many countries offer new immigrants the right to become a citizen by spending 1000 days here?

But while it`s a right, I think it`s also a privilege, and it has a tremendous value. And I think you feel that, and I feel that.

Well, I`m exceptionally thankful and I feel I am very blessed that I came to Canada. And I`m a very, very proud Canadian.

And I`m sure Canada is very lucky that you came too.

Well, I hope so. I owe more to Canada. I will not be able to repay my debt to Canada certainly in my lifetime.

Well, I think the fact that you think that, is a statement of why Canada is lucky that you came here.

Thank you!

Thank you.