Beauty saves the world

Modern world seems to be possessed by the idea of beauty. But people are likely to forget that the notion of beauty may have two different (and even controversial) interpretations. The first one is connected with appearance, and the second one is more profound and important. I do not deny the importance of some outer beauty, but I still believe that inner beauty of any living thing is of greater importance. It is the inner beauty that is able to create and to move the spiritual development of the society forward. At the same time the present-day aggressive nature of outer beauty, which is imposed on people is likely to be misleading and even destructive.

Coming back to the expression under discussion, I take it the following way: over the centuries the humankind has accumulated so many artistic objects of various forms (literary works, visual images, sculpture etc.) that they can teach us, they can lead us through the fiercely whirling tunnel surrounded by chaos which we call ‘today’.

Let us remember the Renaissance – when people began to revive their interest to the beauty born in the antique past, Life itself started to change bringing the world to the Light of the day and leaving the darkness behind.

So I believe that the one who strives for Beauty and seeks for it has future. If one takes a closer look, Beauty may be found everywhere – not only in living things but also in inanimate objects. There is just one thing to remember. It’s worth while looking for real and not artificial Beauty.

Online Gaming: a Challenge of the 21st century

Surfing the Internet you see tons of pop-ups and banners that are meant to persuade people to join some community and start playing. There are a lot of different directions: tanks, airplanes, mystical worlds with clans. No matter what type it is, the newcomer gets hooked on the process and spends more hours in front of the screen.
These games are mostly successful commercial projects. People invest money in the objects of the game. It may be some kind of equipment, weapons, transport etc. What may be more stupid than buying virtual things in a virtual world. Though, it’s not a virtual world for gamers, it’s ‘virtual reality’ as they put it. Thus virtuality becomes reality – isn’t it a challenge of the new century? Читать далее Online Gaming: a Challenge of the 21st century

Space Exploration

The launch of the first artificial satellite of the Earth gave a start to the new space era on the 4th of October, 1957. The humankind experienced new emotions and realized the new possibilities that space technologies could offer. Some years later such ideas as satellite broadcasting were implemented, and in 1961 the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin left the surface of the planet entering the space zone on board a spaceship.
Space technologies today are an inalienable part of our life: all the communication systems are based on space signal transmission. People use GPS for positioning and calculating coordinates.
What if… everything stops? Would it be possible to live without all this equipment, if something happened in the near space? One may say it’s not possible today, though a powerful geomagnetic (solar) storm may cause malfunction of satellites or damage them completely.
Today there are more than 1000 operational satellites orbiting the Earth. And there is a lot of space debris (also known as orbital debris, space junk, or space waste). The amount of it is so huge that, as Fraser Cain puts it ‘We might seal ourselves inside a shield of shrieking metal moving at 29,000 km/hour’.* Space debris is what is left after previous launches and no one can presently remove it from the orbit. Does it mean that in the near future the humankind should be concerned about ‘space ecology’ more than about ‘space technology’? Why not?
Although people haven’t reached a sufficiently high level of space development, the project ‘Mars One’ is to establish the first human settlement on Mars in 2023. They have already found a group of volunteers who are ready to leave the Earth for good and they realize that there will be no way back. Why? Are they tired of life? There may be some controversial viewpoints here. Some people support them, calling them ‘pioneers’, others believe it is an attempt of suicide. Time will show. The terms of the project may be shifted, maybe it’ll become clear, that the humankind isn’t ready to take this step yet. Or maybe tons of space junk will not simply let the spacecraft break through.
Governments of the whole world invest heavily in space exploration. It may be a debatable question. On the one hand it leads to a new level of technology, provides the country with new workplaces. It’s prestigious after all. But no one knows what it will lead to in the future. Some people believe that technologies may have already destroyed some races that lived on our planet before.
But we can’t deny that people’s inquisitive mind has already given some results. We know more about the structure of the Universe, about its origin, about the planets of the Solar system and many other things. But these are only theories. What is our real knowledge? The Universe itself is the basement of scientific philosophy, which is undoubtedly worth studying.

__________________
*http://www.universetoday.com/42198/how-many-satellites-in-space/

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Famous Travellers: Cousteau

Jacques-Yves Cousteau, a French marine explorer was born in Bordeaux in 1910. He was born to a family of a lawyer, Daniel Cousteau, who was of Belorussian origin. He moved to France and changed his Belorussian surname ‘Couste’ to the French ‘Cousteau’.
In 1920 the Cousteau family moved to New York, where Jacques-Yves learnt English and started speaking it fluently. At that time he displayed his interest in the sea.
Two years later, in 1922, the family returned to France and young Cousteau built a few curious mechanical things, for example, an automobile model, running on electric power. His hobby helped him in the future.
Cousteau entered the Naval Academy in 1930. His group was the first to complete a circumnavigation. On graduation from the Academy Cousteau went to Shanghai, then to the USSR.
Once Cousteau bought underwater goggles and he understood at once that the underwater world he saw would become his devotion. He invented and later improved the scuba-set together with his friend.
In 1950 he chartered a ship ‘Calypso’ that once belonged to the British Navy for 1 franc a year and set out on his long series of journeys. The ship was well equipped. You may remember ‘The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau’ which was shown on TV. It consists of 49 parts. Cousteau shot a lot of documentaries: Cousteau’s Amazon Series, Cousteau’s Rediscovery of the World and other. He also wrote a number of books, but the most famous of them is ‘The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau’, consisting of 21 volumes.
Cousteau was the first to shoot films underwater, he constructed the camera himself. His films were seen by millions of people, and they induced a lot of people to take up diving.
Cousteau created not only his team but aroused an interest in the sea in his family. His sons became his adherents and devoted their lives to the protection of environment. Cousteau himself made a lot of attempts to convince governments to stop dumping waste into the water, but little has changed.
Cousteau died in Paris in 1997 at the age of 87.
If you like nature, be sure to watch Cousteau’s documentaries. If you have time one day, read his books. The author managed to combine educational meaning with his personal understanding of Nature.
If you have a chance to do some scuba diving, remember Jacques-Yves Cousteau who invented it for you.

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Great Scientists: da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci is the most outstanding figure of the Italian Renaissance. He is an example of a ‘universal man’ who possessed multiple talents: he was not only a great representative of art as an artist, a sculptor, a musician, a writer, but also a great architect, technician, engineer and inventor.
Leonardo was born not far from Florence to the family of a notary public. His father hoped that Leonardo would follow his steps, but social life wasn’t interesting for the son.
Having moved to Florence, Leonardo became an apprentice of the artist Andrea di Cione (known as Verrocchio). An artistic activity at that time in Florence implied technical experiments. Da Vinci got acquainted with Toscanelli, an astronomer, which resulted in Leonardo’s interest in different fields of science.
Da Vinci’s first artistic work dates back to 1473. A few years later he founded his own studio. He manifested himself as an ingenious and an indigenous artist, and his further works only contributed to his fame.
In the 80s da Vinci started working on different projects as an engineer. He predicted a great number of inventions, that appeared in the 19th and 20th centuries only. He carried out an experiment on flying machines, but the materials of his time were far from being perfect, and this fact didn’t let him implement his ideas, but the models he created were efficient, and his calculations were precise enough to be working.
‘Mona Lisa’ is Leonardo’s most famous work. A lot of rumours have been spread since the time he created it, but we can’t deny its strong emotional impact on the spectator. People are even said to faint when examining it closely.
His last years are closely connected with France. He was invited there in 1516 to take the position of a royal artist, an architect and an engineer.
But he fell ill soon, his right hand grew numb and he died in 1519 in Amboise and was buried there.
He left a lot of drawings which are studied by famous scientists today. Quite a lot of things haven’t been deciphered yet. Leonardo da Vinci can be considered one of the most mysterious and outstanding people in the history of humankind, and it’ll take us a long time to reveal his secrets and come to understanding them to their full extent.

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Great People of the Past: W. Churchill

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was born to a noble family in 1874. His upbringing and education were mainly his governess’s concern. At the age of eight he was sent to St. George’s School, Ascot, Berkshire; then he was transferred to Brunswick School in Hove, near Brighton; and then to Harrow School from 17 April 1888.
After Churchill left Harrow in 1893, he applied to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He had to take exams thrice, before he managed to get a place there. Churchill didn’t like Maths and chose cavalry (not infantry) because the grade requirements were lower there. Churchill was commissioned as a Cornet in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars on 20 February 1895.
At that time he started to develop an interest in war correspondence. He wanted to be a part of real military action. His first writings were a success and earned him additional income.
He travelled to Cuba in 1895, to India in 1896, to Egypt in 1898. He observed and took part in local military actions.
He acquired a reputation of an excellent military reporter.
In October 1911, Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. He advanced new ideas in the military sphere, for example he was in favour of using aeroplanes in combat. He was ahead of time with his ideas.
Churchill belonged first to the Conservative party, then to the Liberal party and rejoined the Conservatives again saying ‘anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat’.
In 1940 Winston Churchill obtained the position of Prime-Minister (till 1945). He appointed himself Minister of Defence. Thus he became the most powerful Prime Minister in British History. He was reelected Prime Minister in 1951 (to 1955). Churchill died in 1964.
Sir Winston Churchill never possessed good health, but all that he did he did ‘maximally’. Who can imagine him without his traditional pipe? It became an inalienable part of his image. Churchill’s speeches were very bright, witty and they always produced the desired effect on public.
The first half of the XX century was the time of great politicians and great thinkers, that went down in world history. Sir Winston Churchill belongs to this group. Recordings of his speeches are available on the Internet and I strongly advise you to listen to them as to specimens of perfect English and implementation of bright ideas.

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Writers: Shakespeare

W. Shakespeare was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon to a family of a successful glover and an alderman. He got a good classical education at a local school and started writing his own plays somewhere in the 1590s.
Shakespeare’s popularity grew in 1597–1598 after his 5 novels had been published. He became one of the shareholders of a new theatre, called ‘The Globe’, that was soon built in London.
All his life Shakespeare was an eager learner – he strived for education. He learnt Italian and French. He studied History, the Humanities, the Arts etc. He spent most of the time in London, but finally came back to his homeland in 1612, when he fell ill. During his lifetime Shakespeare created two plays at the average annually. It’s significant, that he was born and died on the same day – the 23rd of April.
The best known works are: The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, King Lear. Special attention should be paid to his sonnets, they are very melodious and harmonious. Shakespeare described foreign countries in his plays, though he never visited them. It’s a testimony to his profound education. Some people believe that real Shakespeare didn’t exist. His literary heritage is a combination of works of different writers.
Leo Tolstoy didn’t estimate Shakespeare’s works. Moreover he criticized the writer. He wrote, that he had expected something of those works, but having read them, he felt disgust and nothing more. ‘Worship of Shakespeare is implanted in people at the moment they are born’, – wrote Tolstoy. He probably was right in some way. People should not create ‘idols’ no matter how ‘majestic’ they are.
Shakespeare influenced greatly the Russian Literature of the 19th century. We use the proper names of his characters as symbols of different types of behaviour. Voltaire once called Shakespeare ‘a barbarian of genius’ for mixing tragedy and comedy, who knew nothing about the laws of art.
At present Shakespeare is not an easy writer to read in the original. You should find an approach to his creative work. Any educated person should read Shakespeare to form an opinion about the writer. No matter what people think, whether they like him or not, Shakespeare remains one of the most important figures in world’s literature and culture. New discoveries are made and new works are found. They are studied widely all over the world. And it’s not at all accidental.
Take a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets to start with, read some of them, think it over and feel the taste of the poetic lines…

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Nature as a Source of Inspiration

Sooner or later anyone comes to understand that man is a part of nature. Over the whole history of civilization people seem to have been struggling with the world around. They want to subdue it and to make it more technological.
I am perfectly sure that nature is different everywhere, no matter where you go. It is different even within 200 kilometres. Nothing is the same – there are so many unique combinations that make us recognize the place we have visited only once. But in the cities everything is the same – concrete cages and boxes have similar structures and colour. Nothing changes there in different seasons.
I have never seen green cities in my life. Of course, you may say, that there are parks and streets are lined with trees, but it is not enough. If we speak about an ordinary country house, we can count the trees around it. There are quite a lot of them. Just for one family. And if we count the families living in a concrete 16-storeyed box, how many trees should there be? I don’t know. Tens, hundreds of them…
Nature makes a human being humane and understanding, that’s why people of art have always sought for the inspiration in nature. It is not at all accidental. When we listen to the best pieces of music we hear the roaring waves of the ocean, or the wind howling in the dense forest. We hear the chirping of birds in spring when nature awakens from a long winter sleep and the rustling of fallen leaves in autumn. Music can create a mood and make us feel the surrounding world deeper than we usually do. When I listen to such music I always try to imagine how the composer managed to create the masterpiece. I follow him along the shore of the sea or along forest paths, sit beside him in a park or ride a horse when the wind is blowing across my face. The perception of art becomes more acute when you start thinking and feeling at the same time.
Nature is even more important for an artist. It is the best teacher for anyone who deals with paints and brushes. It teaches the artist wisdom and patience, makes him more careful in his work. Nature is an inexhaustible source of details, which attract an attentive eye. It provides an endless range of colours, sounds, shapes and forms.
Nature is alive, and this makes it a source of inspiration. It has always stirred the imagination of those who are not indifferent to it, who respect it and ask it for advice.

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The Most Important Inventions of the XXth Century

The twentieth century was the time of a technological breakthrough. Some people even felt dizzy about it and cherished hopes, that the future would be so incredibly bright. Now it has become obvious, that some of the inventions that appeared within this period turned out to be even deadly dangerous for the whole humankind.
Nuclear power in its peaceful application (we do not speak about nuclear weapons) seemed to be a source of energy that wouldn’t pollute nature. It is highly effective, but the question of safety took the first place after the events in Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima (2011). Some countries are now reducing the usage of Nuclear Power Stations (NPS) and are looking for new ways to produce energy.
The Personal Computer (PC) started a new era in electronics. Calculations of all kinds became faster and simpler. People got an opportunity to store information
and to search for it instantaneously. Today we can say that all the practical knowledge of the humankind is contained in a digital form and it is accessible all around the world.
The airplane gave people an opportunity to travel faster and cover longer distances than ever before. The army developed new and more effective military strategies, taking advantage of the possibilities that planes provided. However the total number of planes which are airborne at this very moment is frightening. There is a special website* to show them all on the map of the world. It seems to be a problem: the planes consume great amounts of fuel and pollute the atmosphere and the planet we live on.
The automobile. The development of combustion engines and other elements began in the 19th century, but the automobile itself gained its popularity only in the 20th century and underwent the changes that made it look like what we are used to now. The automobile gave people a certain degree of mobility, which has resulted in the growing number of cars in the world.
The submarine became a powerful military instrument on the scale of the planet. The dreams of Jules Verne came true and Captain Nemo who seemed to be just a fantastic hero in the 19th century turned out to be real in the 20th century.
Antibiotics were a great hope of the humankind for quite a long period of time. Now they seem to be one of the most dangerous things that people have ever discovered, because no antibiotics will be effective anymore in 10 or 15 years, as various infections and bacteria have got accustomed to them. Some diseases will be incurable consequently.
Radio is the phenomenon we cannot imagine our life without. It is used everywhere and people constantly live in the ocean of radio waves of all bands. But few think of it.
Television is gradually losing its meaning, that it used to have 20 or 30 years ago. The Internet has the same and many more functions, so I suppose television will be out of date soon.
The Internet gives people all the opportunities for communication and information exchange. There had never been anything like it in our history, that is why we don’t know what it can lead to. Maybe the Internet may be as dangerous as nuclear power in some regard.

_____________

*https://www.flightradar24.com

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Inventors and Inventions

Inventive mind is a special quality and all people possess it in some degree. I think everyone is ready to create something when he really needs it to make the work simpler and faster. But few do it in reality, because the world today is full of inventions and appliances of different kinds.
The history of inventions began long ago, maybe even earlier than Ancient Egypt and Greece. The first most important inventions were the wheel, the waterwheel and levers of different types. They were all meant to ease human work. A lot of things that we have today were created thousands of years ago and still help us greatly.
The new era of inventions started with the discovery of electricity. Later on in the twentieth century it transformed into electronics and the pace of progress today is really overwhelming. The question is: do we really need everything that has been invented so far? In my opinion any invention must comply with the two following rules:
•it helps, but it doesn’t eliminate human work, as it will make people lazy;
•it can’t do people or nature harm.
Unfortunately some inventors don’t think about it in the process of creation, which leads to grave consequences. Their logic is as follows: if I don’t invent this, someone else will definitely do it. The same situation was with the nuclear weapons. But these are the descendants who will face the aftermath of the criminal scientific activity.
The history of inventions is full of curious facts. We all remember the argument about the inventors of the radio. Nobody knows for sure whether it was Popov or Marconi, because in those days even a three months’ difference in the discovery of the same phenomenon was considered to be simultaneity.
Do you know that the first drawings of a bicycle date back to the times of daVinci? But officially Karl von Drais is known as the inventor of it. Thomas Edison patented more than 1000 inventions, but it does not mean that they were all his intellectual property. He took some of the inventions of that time and improved them to make them more suitable
for practical use. Once he said: ‘The value of an idea lies in the using of it’.
In 1871 an Italian engineer Antonio Meucci did not only demonstrate but also patented a working model of the telephone, but he did not have enough money to extend the period of the patent so two years later Alexander Bell did it and officially became the father of the telephone.
Finally, a Japanese inventor Yoshira Nakamatsu has more than 3300 patents, but most of his inventions even sound a bit strange: a musical golf club, a wig for self-defense, a self-raising toilet seat. I don’t think there is any necessity to continue.
Summing up I can say that the process of invention is really interesting and it is not just a waste of time, but when you want to invent something you should think not only about your ambition and popularity but first and foremost about the world around and people who live in it.

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Living in a Flat

Envy belongs to the seven deadly sins. That is why I try not to envy people who live in their own houses. But sometimes I can’t. It is better to say that I do not envy them in the traditional understanding of this word, I simply admire any private houses, no matter where I see them – in a village or in the suburbs. I do not think it is really necessary to have a three-storeyed castle. It may be an ordinary country house with its special cosy atmosphere. When I go to some villages I always pay attention to such ones, and it is a pleasure to see when this or that house is taken care of. I like these places in winter most of all, when the snow under the feet is crispy and crackling and the smoke is coming out of the chimneys, and you smell burning firewood. At such moments I never want to come back to the city at all.
As you guessed, I live in an ordinary two-roomed flat. It is on the fifth floor of a block of flats. I can’t say that there is something special about my flat – it is just like the other concrete cages all around the country. Of course I make attempts to create a cosy atmosphere inside, but it cannot be compared to the atmosphere of a private house. My friend from England says: ‘I am a countryboy at heart’. The same may be said about me. I live in the city but I long for various activities typical of countrymen. I want to clean away the snow in winter, I want to do some gardening in summer. But I can’t, because we don’t have even a country house to spend holidays in. I dream of building a house in the future and moving into it when it is finally possible.
The first reason why I want it so badly is silence. It is so important for me, because I cannot concentrate properly on anything when I hear all that commotion around me. I constantly hear TV-sets and stereos making noise from neighbouring flats. I hate slamming the iron doors all around. It is actually round the clock, but a bit less in the night.
My morning doesn’t usually begin with the alarm clock. It begins much earlier – at around six a happy family above, consisting of two females, a mother and a daughter (they start yelling at each other) is what I hear first. They throw different things at each other, and the daughter seems to produce those wild yelps of agony, when the objects hit the target. It is like, you know, when you step on a dog’s tail. The same happens in the evening. Now I am used to it. People are crazy… Fortunately I haven’t had neighbours boring the walls all day long for at least five years. My friends and acquaintances have. And this is a calamity to live in such conditions.
I try to imagine what life would be like if I lived in a house…
I want a wooden house by the way. I believe that timber possesses some good energy if I may put it like this. And living in a wooden house you are in unity with nature itself. I want to have a fireplace there to spend long cold evenings in front of it together with my family.
You may ask me why I speak so much about a house in this topic. Because there is actually nothing special to say about the flat. They are all the same. Of course I can tell you what there is in my room and in the kitchen, but is this really interesting? I am sure it is not…

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Living in a House

I have lived in a house for all my life. I can say that I would never change it for a flat. Do you know why? Because my home is my castle, as the proverb says. I have always felt safe here, I have always realised that my home is a considerable part of my life, the place I want to come back to.
My house is not new, my grandparents bought it from some previous owners and I don’t know anything about them. But I feel the history of the place in any detail that can be found here. My mom and my uncle grew up here and I was brought into this house by my parents as a newborn baby, too.
When I take a look at the pieces of furniture I can remember different stories, connected with them. There is a bookcase in the living room. There are four glass panels in it. But one is missing. It is my work – I managed to break it at the age of four or five, I do not remember this well, but Mom says it was me who did it. I still feel a bit awkward. The scratches on the wall unit are mine too. It used to be so glossy once, but it has acquired a few ‘scars’ (as I put it) since I began walking around the house. The thing is that nobody wants to replace this furniture with something new. It is our history. I also know that there were a few valuable vases and dishes. You guess who broke them, don’t you?
Our house stands on quite a big lot, I mean the territory around it. It is enclosed by a fence with two gates in it. When I was a little kid, this place seemed to be so vast, that I could run about and hide and jump and what not. We have always had dogs out-of-doors. And we still have one to protect us from unwelcome guests. So I had a lot of fun when we ran hither and thither with our retriever. I used to build snow fortresses in winter in the yard… There are so many memories inside my head, when I look at my house. It has changed a bit, of course, since that time.
At the same time living in a house is not that simple. When you are in a flat you don’t have much to worry about. Here you have to clean away the snow in winter, mow grass in summer, take away rubbish. Besides, it’s very important to make the territory around nice and attractive. People living in their own houses have to work in the garden and cultivate the land. My whole family likes it. Our agricultural activity starts at the end of April and finishes in October or November with the first frosts. It is a great advantage to have a vegetable garden and an orchard – you can grow
your own fruit and vegetables which are much tastier than the ones we buy at supermarkets. Moreover there is aesthetics in vegetation and greenery around the house.
As for the future, I think more often of building the second house for my own family here, as there is enough space for it. My parents are not against it. I would like to live for my whole life in the place where I belong.

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Genealogical Tree

I think no one will argue with the statement that it is vitally important to remember the past. The history of the state you live in is profoundly studied at schools and universities, and the history of your family is not less important either.
How many generations of your family are well-known to you? Have you ever thought about it? I have. Unfortunately, the earliest ancestors I know are my great-great-grandparents, what lies deeper in time remains really vague.
More and more families want to know their background and willingly attend archives to find out the necessary information. Though it is not always possible to restore the family tree due to objective circumstances. A considerable part of archives around the country simply got lost and burnt during World War II. Just imagine that none of your descendants will remember you in a hundred years. It sounds terrifying, but it is our reality. We can only hope that modern data storages are durable enough to keep the memories of the present day.
I have asked my friends the same question many times, and the answer has always been nearly the same. Just assume how nice it would be to visualize the development of your family starting somewhere in the 17th century. I cannot even imagine it. On the one hand the illiteracy of people did them good: if everything that we have at present had been invented 300 years ago, the world would have ceased to exist somewhere in the 19th century. On the other hand this illiteracy made it impossible to collect and store the data about the people who lived in the past. They just lived, without thinking over what would happen in the future.

Of course there are chronicles which have survived through the centuries, but they don’t include any information about ordinary people. Maybe there are exceptions though.
So the more I think of it the clearer it becomes that it is necessary to compile a family tree and write down at least what I know for sure if it is even fragmentary information. I am sure that in the future there will be even online projects of this kind aimed at keeping history of families. I do not think that it is worth while making it accessible to general public, it must be meant only for private use. If such a service ever exists, it will pass the information on to the next generations. And at the same time there must be some paper copy which is a repository of the present and the past. Just imagine how interesting it will be for the descendants to read the chronicles of their family.
I know a woman whose mother is nearly 90 years old, and she made her (really made) write down her reminiscences, everything she remembers about the past, starting with her childhood. And what they finally got was so interesting to study that everyone was surprised!
Summing up, a genealogical tree is not sufficient, if we mean a drawing of it only. It is interesting to see its branches but it is more interesting to get to know some details, including different events that have ever happened. And photos and personal belongings may be a good addition to it.

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Mobile Phones

Do you remember the day when you first used a mobile phone? I do. At that time it seemed to be something special, but at present it is an ordinary thing we do not pay much attention to. Smartphones started a new era in communication. The abundance of functions in these devices makes them more and more popular, especially with the younger generation. I am happy that I didn’t have a smartphone in my childhood, because it could have influenced me in a negative way.
Mobile phones were invented for communication only, while smartphones serve as timekillers. I believe that smartphones must not be used by children under 15, because they distract them from real life and studies. Besides small screens with tiny fonts hurt eyes, but nobody seems to be worried about that. I know only a few parents who forbid their children to use such devices and buy them simpler ones, which are meant just for talking.
Mobile phones are thought to be dangerous because of the electromagnetic field they produce, which may have impact on the organs of human body. Some people advise not to keep a mobile phone close to the skin, it is much better to carry it in a bag and put it farther from yourself at night, when you go to sleep. Talking long hours on mobile phone may be harmful, too. Its electromagnetic waves are believed to heat up the brain.
On the one hand a cellphone is a great means of communication – we can find anyone who has it anywhere at any time. But on the other hand what we lack today is real communication. This makes us lazy – it is much easier just to dial a number than to raise from an armchair and go to see someone. In my humble opinion even video calls can’t substitute for real conversation.
Mobile phone manufacturers make substantial profit from their goods: these are not only cellular phones themselves, but also accessories for them. Model ranges change nearly every day, so people buy more and more new ones instead of older gadgets.
As for me, I have both a smartphone and a simple phone with a keypad. The main characteristic for me is the battery: the bigger capacity it has, the more I like the device. I can’t say that I am hooked on some services or applications or surf the Internet all day long. Of course, it is convenient to read the news right on the screen of a mobile phone or get e-mails without switching on the laptop. But to tell the truth
the world without mobile phones was better than it is now. There is too much of technology today.

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Body Language

Body language compared to any other means of communication is a unique way to transfer information. It contains the so-called ‘hidden information’. If you want to make sure that you fully understand someone, just put together verbal and non-verbal (not involving or using words or speech) communication. If the words don’t accord with the gestures, you may suspect this person of dishonesty.
How is it possible to learn to understand the language of gestures?
Here are some examples that help us understand the interlocutor. When he or she avoids looking directly in your eyes it means insincerity. The same may be said about crossed arms when somebody is not inclined to communicate.
A concentrated person may be rubbing the bridge of the nose, the forehead or the chin. Some people cover the mouth with their palms when they subconsciously disagree with the opinion of the speaker, suppressing real experience. The head resting on the arm during a lecture or a meeting means that this person is not interested in the subject of the conversation.
Body language is not only the sum of subconscious movements but also the gestures that we use in our everyday communication, which may differ greatly from one country to another. The same gesture may have the opposite meaning in two countries.
So it must be taken into account, when you travel around the world. It may lead not only to slight misunderstanding but also to serious conflicts.
Shaking head generally means ‘no’, but in Bulgaria, Greece and India it is a symbol of consent. If you are in Japan be sure to take what you are given with your both hands, otherwise it will mean neglect of the other person.
The only universal means to win somebody’s sympathy is a smile. People around the world take it the same way. So if you want to pay a compliment just give a smile to the person you are talking to.

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Seven Wonders of the World

When we speak about the wonders of the world, we generally imply the ancient list of the most remarkable creations of classical antiquity. Today new lists are made to emphasize the importance of the objects that have survived up to the present days.
The classic seven wonders were:
Great Pyramid of Giza
The only of the seven Wonders that can be seen today. Its height is about 150 m, which corresponds to the height of a 50-floor skyscraper. The pyramid was used as a shrine for a pharaoh. It consists of more than 2,000,000 blocks that are perfectly adjusted to each other. A question arises: how could the ancient architects and workers do such complicated calculations to reach the final result? There is no answer to it even today. Scientists believe, that it took the Egyptians around 30 years to finish the construction. Nearly 100,000 people were busy here. Egypt used to be a rich state at that time. People though it to be prestigious to work for the Pharaoh. They were supplied with food, clothing and accommodation.
If people wanted to build the same pyramid today, they wouldn’t be able to copy it, as modern technologies aren’t designed for such scales.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
This wonder was discovered by a German archeologist, who searched for the ancient city of Babylon. It took him 18 years to find the Babylon Tower, the fortress walls, which once surrounded the city and the hanging gardens, to be precise, the remains. Finally he found a building, incuding 12 rooms with massive arches inside to support great weights. In the ancient written sources of the time he found some information about the inner structure of the gardens. The description coincided with what he had found. Some scientists cast doubt on this discovery. That’s why it may remain one of the greatest mysteries forever. The hanging gardens resembled a steep mountain, uniting all the seven
parts in one. Slaves were used to pump the water up from a deep well to the vegetation when the temperature was too high. It was a real oasis in the middle of the dry city of Babylon.
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Around 470 B.C. Greek people were encouraged to start fund-raising to build a temple of Zeus, that could surpass all the other temples of Greece in its beauty. In 456 B.C. the construction was finished and consecrated. Its basement is still untouched. The temple had 34 pillars, which supported a massive roof, made of marble slabs. The main object inside was the statue of Zeus. It was a completely new image of the deity – he was ‘fatherly’ and not ‘punishing’ any more. This fact made the statue attractive. It was considered to be a patron of the Olympic games and even an umpire in some way. People made sacrifices to Zeus and prayed for the victory here.
Today we see sparse remains only: the basement of the temple with a few statues. The temple is known to have been damaged severely during one of the earthquakes in the 2nd century A.D.
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The temple was dedicated to the goddess of war Artemis and was considered one of the most luxurious and splendid monuments of architecture. It was located in Ephesus (now this is a part of Turkish territory). Strangely enough, we know this building in connection with the name of Herostratus, who set it on fire to become (in) famous. After the act of arson it was rebuilt some years later, but finally it was ransacked by the local people after the Christianity was adopted as the official religion during the reign of Roman Emperor Pheodosius 1st.
It was revealed in 1903 only by John Wood, an English archaeologist.
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Mausoleum was known for its marvellous sculptural reliefs, and was designed as a tomb or Mausolus, a satrap in the Persian Empire, and Artemisia II of Caria, who was both his wife and his sister. The construction broke up several times due to the deaths of the deaths of the rulers, but it was finally finished and stood for 1500 years. Only in the 12th century A.D. it was destroyed by an earthquake and then the place was built by the Turkish invaders. English archaeologists explored the site in 1857 and discovered some important things, which are exhibited at the British Museum today.
Colossus of Rhodes
It was a statue of the Greek Titan Helios, 60 m high. It took the sculptor 12 years to complete it. The Statue existed for 66 years and then it was destroyed by a great earthquake. It lay on the ground for a long time. Finally a merchant bought it and he used 900 camels to take the remains away from the place to sell them. Today the statue symbolizes something unstable, massive, but easy to destroy.
Lighthouse of Alexandria
It was an impressive building even for the present time. With its height of 140 meters it showed the way to the ships arriving at the harbour. It possessed a unique system of mirrors for its time, which produced a powerful light beam thanks to its reflective ability. It was damaged by an earthquake in 796 A.D. Despite all the effort to rebuild it, people didn’t manage to do it. Later the harbour wasn’t used any more, because the water grew shallow and the lighthouse was forgotten.

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Wildlife

How many times have you been to the zoo? Do you like circus animals?
I don’t like such things.
The planet today is not suitable for living. We don’t speak about people only, but about animals too. There are so many extinct species, that no one would ever think, that it may have been possible to kill them all. But it’s the reality that we have faced.
Animals should live in their natural habitat; they are capable of maintaining the organic balance, forming food chains and symbiotic relationships. People shouldn’t break up such processes, since they are beyond our understanding at the present time.
Any human interference may be fatal for a particular biogeocenosis. We know a lot of examples, illustrating it.
Rabbits were introduced to Australia in the 18th century and became widespread after a population outbreak in 1859. They brought considerable damage to the agriculture (and consequently to the economy) of Australia.
And on the other hand, if people kill some species, they may experience further unexpected problems.
If you like animals, than why not go on a safari to watch them in their natural surroundings? The British have a popular outdoor activity, which people in Russia don’t understand at all. It’s called ‘bird-watching’, when you take you binoculars, go to a park or to a forest and simply watch birds. It brings people aesthetic pleasure.
Of course, some consumption of natural products is implied. It has been reasonable for centuries. Nature tells the man not to take more than one needs. If we take wild animals as an example, they kill other animals in quantities necessary for their existence. No excess is implied. But people want to take more and more.
Nature has renewable resources. If there were no poaching, everything would be fine: fish supplies in the lakes, rivers
and seas would have never been exhausted. There would be enough fur and feather. People must not just take more than they need.
Be careful and attentive to the world you live in, to the world in all of its manifestations, and it will repay all your effort.

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The USA

The United States is first of all a highly developed society in the modern world. Its history began long ago. Columbus was the first to explore the unknown land, though nobody believed in its existence. He came to the shores of America in 1492, but the first settlers came here in 1565.
The years passed and the representatives of different countries and nations came here to build up a new society. Their adventurous spirit led them into that faraway land. The United States grew from the original 13 colonies, situated along the Atlantic Coast.
The indigenous American population soon came into conflict with European invaders, but the forces were unequal. And this slaughter led to the extinction of Indian tribes.
America got its independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain on July, 4th, 1776. Now this date is known as Independence Day, which is a national holiday commemorating that great day of the past.
The American Civil War (1861–1865) became one of the important steps on the way to modern society. The war broke out because of the phenomenon of slavery. Southern States formed the ‘Confederacy’ and were fully for using slave labour force. The rest of the states opposed the South. It was the bloodiest war ever in the history of the US. It resulted in the Abolition (of slavery), which was firmly fixed in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865.
The USA has always attracted people from all over the world. The most famous notion of ‘American Dream’ is well-known everywhere. It means that you are to be successful to be a real American. Material wealth is put above all the life goals. And many people are eager to implement it. Do you remember the California Gold Rush of 1848–49, when people started flocking to the state in the hope to become rich?
The beginning of the 20th century was a hard time for the USA. The Great Depression of 1929 destroyed the economy of the country. But by the time WWII broke out, America had regained its economic power and was able to take part in the military action in Europe and help the allies with machinery and in some other ways.
America is the fourth largest country in the world. It means necessarily that its climate varies greatly. The country lies in different time zones, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The US is a land of mountains, rivers, great lakes. There are a lot of national parks (59). The most famous of them are Yosemite and Yellowstone. They are really impressive – a human being is a grain of sand on this scale.
Americans protect their nature, it’s especially important nowadays.
The US government has three branches: the Congress which makes laws and consists of the Senate and the House of the Representatives. All the states have their representatives in both parts.
The second branch is the President, who is elected every four years (but not more than 2 terms). He signs bills and is the Commander-in-Chief of the US Army at the same time.
The third branch is the Supreme Court, which is made up of 9 judges.
The USA is often called a ‘melting pot’. It means a mixture of different nations and cultures, which all make up the modern American society. That’s why the country has so many customs, celebrations and traditions, which have been brought here from all over the world in the course of American history.

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The United Kingdom

The UK includes four countries: Northern Ireland and Great Britain, which is subdivided into England, Scotland and Wales. This union has a long history, and we can’t say that it’s a firm structure, but still due to political and economic reasons we call it the UK.
The UK is located on the British Isles, which are numerous (there are around 6,000 all in all).
The modern population of the UK consists of the descendants of different ethnic groups that have ever inhabited the Isles. They are Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Romans, vikings and others. At the present time nearly 63,5 million people live in the UK.
The Union Jack is the official flag of the UK adopted in 1801, when the UK itself came into existence. The flag is made up of three crosses, related to patron saints of England, Scotland and Ireland.
The relief of the Isles varies greatly from the lowlands in the South to the highlands of Scotland in the North. It’s a land of lakes and rivers. The geographical position once made Great Britain world’s most powerful marine empire with a great fleet that used to be undefeated in the past. No part of England is farther than 120 km from the sea.
The climate is also different – it is moderate in the South and harsh in the North of Scotland. England is the most densely populated region thanks to its climate.
The UK has an important industrial meaning – it produces heavy machinery, wool, cotton, cars, engines. The UK has coal and ore mining regions too.
Each part of the UK has its long and rich history, its own symbols and traditions.
London is the capital of England. The red rose is the national floral emblem of the country. It symbolizes the end of the Wars of the Roses. London was founded by the Romans and today it’s one of the most important financial and cultural centres of the world. The city of London is situated on the river Thames. Around 7 million people live in London. If you once come to London, you should see its main sights – the Tower, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye – a giant observation wheel; visit its numerous parks.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. Thistle is the national flower of the country. It was first used in the 15th century as a symbol of defence. Scotland has always been fighting for its freedom and independence. There were periods in history, when the country got it, but then it was subjected to the Crown again. In the near future it’s possible, that Scotland will be an independent country.
Daffodil is the national emblem of Wales. The capital of Wales is Cardiff. The country is known for its old literature and traditions. It’s an important industrial region with different mineral resources. The scenery is beautiful here. Snowdonia, the land of mountains is the national pride. The highest mountain, Snowdon, is situated here.
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. Shamrock, a three-leaved plant, similar to clover, is the symbol of Northern Ireland. It’s a symbol of trinity. Today Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic are different countries, but they are for the reunification, though there are some objective political obstacles in their way.
Everyone knows the traditional music and dancing of Ireland and Scotland. The bagpipe is a very special instrument. Once you’ve heard it, you’ll never forget its pure sound, that remains in your heart forever.

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Dream Destinations: Australia

What do you know about Australia? Of course, it’s situated in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are different from those in the northern hemisphere: when we have summer, they have winter and the other way round.
Australia used to be ‘Terra Australis Incognita’, translated as ‘Unknown Southern Land’ from Latin up to the 18th century. Captain James Cook was the first to explore this land and to draw a simple map of it in 1770.
Australia used to be a British colony, which influenced its flag, called ‘a small Union Jack’. The first settlers came here in 1778.
Australia is not a densely populated region, around 22 million people live here. The continent consists mainly of deserts not suitable for living. They are Great Sandy, Gibson and Great Victoria deserts. The majority of population is concentrated along the south-eastern coast. The biggest cities in the North and West are Darwin and Perth. The capital
of Australia is Canberra (368,000 people). Many people confuse it with Sydney, which is several times bigger with its population of 4,6 million people.
Australia is separated from the outer world. This fact influenced greatly its unique nature and animal world. Here you find the most unusual animals – the platypus and echidna, the mammals, which lay eggs. When a stuffed platypus was first brought to Europe by the early explorers and shown to public, the respected scientists laughed and thought it to be made up of parts of different animals.
Here you’ll find the kookaburra, or ‘laughing bird’. It produces sounds similar to human laughing. It has firmly established itself in the culture of the country.
Australian English is a bit different from the one we study. It has some peculiarities in grammar and pronunciation. They use such words as ‘outback’ meaning a ‘remote, sparsely-populated area’ or ‘bush’ meaning ‘a wild or uncultivated country’. The pronunciation is a bit special, but after you’ve listened to a native speaker for some time you start getting accustomed to it.
Australia is too far to be reached by a non-stop flight. That’s why if you go there one day, you’ll have to change a plane somewhere in Hong Kong or Bangkok.
The best-known tourist attractions in Australia are the Sydney Opera House, looking like sails, the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu National Park, providing numerous outdoor activities.
Australia is worth visiting beyond any doubt. If you have an opportunity to go there, never miss it. It’ll be an unforgettable journey into a completely different world.

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Language and Travelling

Have you ever been abroad? It’s a typical question that we use when we study the Present Perfect. But it’s an important question. If we speak about summer holidays, people mostly go to the South. And they will say a few words about their trip to Egypt or to Turkey. There are quite a lot of popular resorts with so many Russian people there, that the personnel can speak and understand Russian. Even if you want you won’t have an opportunity to practice your language. That’s why we can’t say that such places should be included in the notion ‘abroad’.
It’s really interesting to go somewhere on your own. If you are simply a tourist in a group, you will not need your language skills mostly, everything is predestined. You just come to some place, see something there, then they take you to another place and that’s all. You’ll understand only, why you are learning or have already learnt English, for example, when you have arrived in a country and faced the problem of communication there. Just start speaking, it’s easy!
I know some people, who travel, being unable to speak any foreign language. You shouldn’t be afraid. All the European countries are worth seeing. As for exotic ones, situated in Africa or South America, it’s up to you to decide, whether you need them or not. Travelling always implies your cultural awareness – you should know the traditions, customs, gestures and a lot of other things, connected with communication in the place you are going to. Professional travellers are unique people – they can tell you a lot about their personal experience and the situations they have got into.
Travelling is an expensive hobby. Today you can come across a lot of articles instructing you how to go hitch-hiking. It’s the cheapest way to travel and to see the world. It may be dangerous, though. It can be interesting to hitchhike within one big country, like Russia or America. It’s possible in Europe too. And it may be good language practice for you. The fastest way to travel is going to your destination by plane. It’ll take you only a few hours to get to the place. However, there may be non-stop flights, which last up to 11 hours.
We live in the biggest country of the world, crossing nine time-zones. And people are crazy about going abroad. Don’t you think it would be a good idea to see the beauty of our home country before going abroad? Or at least it would be ok to combine it: this year you are going to Lake Baikal and next year you’ll go to Spain or Italy. That would be fair at least.
I think it sensible to go to one country at one time. There are a lot of tours, offering you a wide range of places during a one-week-trip. And you are not likely to have enough time to get acquainted with the places. Choose one country and go there for a week, be a part of it. Practice your language. And you will be happy to carry the reminiscences through your whole life.
Travelling is good, isn’t it?

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Phobias

The word ‘phobia’ comes from Greek (‘φόβος’ — ‘phobos’ — ‘fear’). Quite a lot (or even the majority) of people have phobias in a certain degree. Some of them even do not know that they have phobias, but in some particular situations. There is an opinion that the problem of subconscious fears lies somewhere deep in people’s memory. One may have seen or heard something in the childhood and it resulted in a phobia some time later. I am absolutely sure that there are effective ways to cope with phobias of all kinds.
Here are the most common irrational fears people have.
Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders and other insects. Sometimes people confuse this phobia with simple disgust. Nevertheless, I know for sure that most of my friends and acquaintances really find insects repulsive. As for me, I cannot say that I am absolutely indifferent to spiders. The size of them is important: the bigger the one is the more disgusting I find it. As for other insects, I do not like wasps. But grasshoppers seem to be quite nice.
Acrophobia is the fear of height. It does not seem to be a phobia at all, as I think it is a protective mechanism of our body. It is simply more or less developed in different people. Though there are freaks who test their abilities and hang at the height of 150 meters above the ground holding on to some rail with one hand. It is stupidity and not the absence of acrophobia.
Nyctohylophobia is the fear of the dark. It is typical of little children, though many adults, especially women have it and cannot cope with it, leaving the lights switched
on during the whole night. It seems strange to many people but this really prevents one from living a normal life.
Claustrophobia is connected with confined spaces. I know some people who suffer from it. It seems possible, that this fear is inborn, one may acquire it with the time. That is why there exist special tests for people who are going to spend a long period of time on board a spaceship or a submarine or somewhere else. As for me, I find claustrophobia a strange thing.
Agoraphobia is opposite to the previous one. It is the fear of open or crowded spaces. Quite a lot of people do not like any interference into their biofield, the limited space around. I think it is quite natural to feel uncomfortable when you are in a crowd. Though, maybe there are people who like being a part of the crowd.
Summing up, I can say that there are thousands of phobias with exotic names, derived from Greek or Latin words. Actually one can be afraid of anything that exists in material world and even of notions and words. After all, phobias are something that makes people’s life miserable. If they don’t fight fears, they foster them, and the phobias will get even deeper with the time.

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Cars

When I remember what my city looked like ten or fifteen years ago, the first thing that occurs to me is the lesser number of cars. Now you come up to the doorway (if you live in a block of flats) and see a car standing right in your way. Vehicles are parked on the grass. They are everywhere – moving and roaring and producing exhaust fumes.
I do not understand people who drive to the supermarket which is five minutes’ walk from their place. Is it really necessary to start the engine and pollute the air with gases? To tell the truth I do not believe that all the people in the cars which I see right now out of my window are using them reasonably. I mean this very moment. Maybe 50 per cent or even more could just take a stroll or use a trolley-bus or a bus. It is not prestigious, though. Okay it is really more prestigious to get stuck in a traffic jam and complain about it.
I am an owner of the car, too, that is why I know for sure what I am talking about. I never use car without necessity. I like to walk slowly along the streets, when it doesn’t rain heavily. It hurts me, when I start the engine and fell it pump out exhaust fumes into the atmosphere. At such moments I know that I add to the global warming and think of people who will live after us.
The second thing I get indignant at is a great diversity within model ranges of all the automobile manufacturers. I do not understand why on earth there should be so many variations. Who knows how many spare parts are being produced in a second on the planet? What is it for? I believe it is only for the sake of somebody’s ambitions. Those who want to be rich don’t care much about the future of the planet. I imagine the stores and warehouses where all these components are kept. And what part of them will never be used and sold out? It would be more logical to have a limited number of up-to-date automobile models with interchangeable spare parts all around the world. It would help save nature and natural resources. Of course, some types of cars would be outdated and they could be recycled. But it is money that matters.
I am not sure if we can speak about the future of automobile industry at all. The growing consumption of fuel in the world has already lead and will lead to even graver damage to the ecology of our planet. There is no fresh air in big cities today, and people still willingly buy new vehicles. It is really a paradox… People are killing themselves being aware of it.

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Superstitions

Superstitions are the best thing to talk about. Really they are. I am not a superstitious person and I don’t know much about this sphere of life. That is why I searched for some special superstitions on the Internet and had a lot of fun. Superstitions are the same thing as astrology for me personally. As far as I understand the superstitions are different around the world and people in different countries believe that the same thing may bring you either luck or troubles.
A black cat crossing your path brings luck in Britain whereas in Russia it is a bad omen. So when you see a black cat in Russia there are even more superstitions you have to follow to avert bad luck. You can turn your back on the poor animal and move backwards ahead. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Or you may do something else. How can it possibly be? Let’s assume that if we multiply two by two it makes four in Russia and five in the UK. Non-sen-se.
Let’s move on. There are still better superstitions. All those broken mirrors, spilt salt… Do you know what one does if he or she breaks a mirror? Now I do, as I have been enlightened. You (just listen to it!) release evil spirits for seven years. Really for seven years? Why not for five or ten? Whoknows? They must be living somewhere inside the mirror, in the thin film of amalgam.
We continue. Friday, 13th – what is this day for you? I know quite a lot of people who ascribe some supernatural qualities to this date. I don’t think we should care about numbers.
Do you ever hand anything over across the threshold? If you do, never do it again! It will bring you bad luck, too. The funniest thing is that if you are not aware of the superstition, it cannot do you any harm. And if you are…
You are in a hurry, and you have just locked the door, remembering that you have left an umbrella or a car-key at home. You don’t come back, do you? And if you have enough courage, do not forget to take a look at yourself in the mirror.
Some students put coins under the heels when taking exams. They believe it can help some way. They also believe that it is a bad sign when you forget the credit book before the exam and come back to take it. I suppose it is much worse to leave a pen at home to say nothing of the knowledge.
Summing up I can say that all kinds of superstitions deprive a human being of freedom. It is interesting that everyone who believes and follows the superstitions does it of his own free will, as nobody makes him or her perform any magical practices to avoid bad luck. All the superstitions exist only in the imagination and not in reality. They are the heritage coming from dark pagan times. And I believe that they will exist as long as the humankind does.

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Time to Change Your Life

The world around is so big and wonderful. I don’t know how many people live simply to work and work to live, turning their life into mere existence. Some time ago, I am not sure when exactly I felt a strong desire to explore the world we live in. No, I do not mean the whole planet, I do not mean travelling all year round. It may be even a small part of our country. What I mean is the idea that everyone comes to this world with a purpose, which gets lost in the gloom of daily routine when we grow up.
Many people realize at some age that the time to change the life has come. Everyone should decide on his own how it is possible to fulfil this task. The most popular way is taking up something new. You may start to learn painting or playing a musical instrument. You may find a new job, something that you have never tried before. There is a firm conviction in people’s heads that if you have some definite education, you should work in this field for the rest of your life. Why not try something new? Can it be so, that when you entered a university or college, you made a wrong choice? It seems to be quite possible. I know a few people who changed their lives completely and they have never regretted it yet.
Every minute of our life is priceless, and at the same time it is sold at a definite price, which is easily calculated by dividing the salary by thirty and then by twenty-four and finally by sixty. So simple? It is not worth while breaking the rules generally accepted in the society, but in order to make life interesting we can add something important to it, which you may do after work or after classes.
The objective reality today simplifies human life, reducing its value. A human being becomes a clockwork which is meant for earning money and spending it on useless things. Think about the things that surround you: do you control them or do they control you? It is really an important aspect in changing your life, too. Is there anything that prevents you from living happily? It may be a gadget or a car or what not. Are they worth spending life on? But you will never regret if you spend more time on people and with people, not with the things.
I believe it is possible to formulate the idea like this: many people live just on the surface, but if one takes pains to fly a bit higher up, he will definitely see, that there is much interesting in this world, and life shouldn’t be taken as physical existence only. And I am absolutely sure that it is never too late to change something in your life. One should only have a wish to do it.

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The Problems of Youth

Come up to an aged person and ask him or her a question: ‘What is youth?’
And you may hear an answer: ‘Youth is the spring of life’.
Ask the same question a 35-40-year-old person. And you’ll probably hear: ‘I haven’t thought much about it yet. I’m sorry I have to go’. And a teenager may answer, that he lives in the present and that is all.
There are so many things that may influence an immature mind – either positively or negatively. And here lies the problem: youth is the time of choice, the time of search and hesitations. In youth people make revelations and discoveries.
But the world today is full of temptations that easily mislead the younger generation. It’s much simpler to take up something, that does not require any effort or hard work of young people. All possible kinds of entertainment are accessible to the public.
But it’s much more difficult to follow your own narrow winding path rather than a wide public road.
The first problem arises at quite an early age, I would say, in primary school: it’s whether to study or not? And this may be the first crucial point in everyone’s life. The choice depends greatly on the parents, and if they are insistent enough, the young guy or girl starts following the narrow path quite reluctantly.
The second problem is to carry the fire in the heart on and on. If it stops burning, a person easily falls deep into the abyss of ignorance and vice. One needs to develop and maintain the ability of self-education. And the things written above mean that education is of primary importance for the young people. Should be, at least.
They say: ‘A man is known by the company he keeps’. So the company plays a great role in the formation of a personality. Just keep good company, and everything will be fine. The problem here is how to tell good from evil? Again, the answer is: education will help you. Read more, think more, listen to the senior people, since they are more experienced.
There is a so called ‘generation gap’ problem. It also may be quite acute. But when the person is brought up mostly by the family and not by the company, there is no generation gap.
Finally, one of the greatest problems (I would call it a ‘calamity’) of teenagers is the technological problem. The innovations today have completely destroyed a lot of abilities: the ability to think independently, to memorize things, to calculate and many others. Why should young people do this if they have a powerful web search engine at hand (on multiple devices at the same time) and everywhere.
So, the problems of youth are quite numerous and they concern not only the issues of the mental development but of the physical as well. So, if you are still young, don’t live in the present only – remember the past and listen to it and think about the future.

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Climatic Changes

I believe anyone knows that weather forecasts have never been reliable. There are so many stations for meteorological observations all around the world. There are hundreds of satellites orbiting the Earth, but we still can’t be sure of the weather tomorrow. No one knows what it will be like.
The same may be said about climate. It is obvious, that it is changing, and one doesn’t have to be a specialist to notice it. I cannot speak about the whole world, but if we take the central region of our country, the seasons have undergone substantial influence caused by some external factors.
It was hard to imagine twenty years ago that it may be raining at the end of December. All right, this may happen once in fifty years, but not so often as it happens at present.
Quite recently there have been reports about the highest temperatures ever right at the North Pole. The probes showed the value of 0.7 above zero. Listen to it once again. The temperature reached and exceeded the melting point in the region, where it is 25 to 40 degrees below zero in winter. The so-called scientists explain it some way, but no one can deny the fact, that the Earth is getting warmer thanks to cars, industries, gas and oil extraction. We know that energy doesn’t disappear and by burning fossil fuel the humankind heats up the atmosphere just the way we heat up soup, but not so quickly.
Once I watched an interesting program about Chile. It is a wonderful place, still relatively untouched. The glaciers there are melting, so fresh water supplies are constantly decreasing. If all the fresh water of the ice caps and glaciers gets into the ocean, it will be salty and not drinkable. Rivers and lakes are drying up, too. Where will people get water to drink in the future? Of course, it is possible to evaporate fresh water from the ocean and purify it, but it will not possess the necessary qualities. Besides it requires high power inputs.
We can’t prevent the aftermath of climate changes any more, but we can still reduce the risk of disasters. But very few people on the scale of the planet seem to be worried about the state of things. As long as air is breathable we may pretend nothing serious has happened yet.
I am perfectly sure that the only way to save nature is to take steps immediately; we are in urgent need of effective measures of precaution. And it was late to think about it even yesterday to say nothing of today.

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Where are we going?

Cogito ergo sum – I think therefore I am’ – these words belong to René Descartes. We are born to think. Though the present consumer society imposes different views on people. ‘Just buy, live to buy. Buy as much as you can and even more!’ – this is the motto of our life today. And if you don’t want to buy? If you are born to think and create, to reach your own goals, what comes next?
If you come to think about the past, the present and the future, you’ll easily find great differences: people used
to have time for living, for thinking, for reading and for real communication. Now all this is being substituted for false ideals and false things: the Internet has replaced all kinds of communication. It has also fulfilled the task to keep human knowledge within itself, so that people don’t need to use their memory any more. Silly online gaming has established itself in the collective reason of the gamers’ community. Where are we going?
Try to remember yourself ten years ago. Could you think of the devices we are using now at that time? Probably not. The majority will argue that the technical progress is the greatest virtue one can have. Isn’t this virtue too virtual? The things that surround us are meant to save our time. Save for what? Right – they save time so that we would be able to use even more technical appliances.
Life has become too material. The common denominator for everything is personal comfort. There’s no room for immaterial things.
The senior generation will say that their life was and is still interesting. Material things didn’t use to be as important as they are now.
What will happen if there is no Internet, no mobile communication, no e-mail, no nothing tomorrow? Have you ever thought about it? Some people may even go crazy. And there will be few, who will be indifferent to it.
Life is much wider and much more complicated. Try to find time for your relatives and friends, for you hobbies, not for your computer. Social networks are killing human communication. Keep it all in mind, when you switch on your computer next time. Be yourself and think. Only thinking people don’t merely exist – they live.

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Gardening and farming

People who live in the country or at least who have country houses where they spend their vacation and holidays have a wonderful opportunity to live in unity with nature. Townspeople do not often understand the striving for gardening and agricultural work.
For thousands of years people lived in smaller groups than they live now, and everyone had to work to support the family and to make a contribution to its welfare. Gardening and farming were as natural as breathing or sleeping. No one thought how to avoid it.
Any work may be interesting if you find pleasure in it. To tell the truth I didn’t understand how it is possible to find any interest in working in the garden just a few years ago. I was able to admire the beauty of trees and bushes in other people’s gardens and orchards, but I didn’t have any desire to do it on my own.
Something changed inside my soul when I first planted a few small trees. Then I subconsciously paid attention to dead branches of the other trees near our country house. I sawed them off and was happy with the result. I realized that I couldn’t leave the branches right on the ground and had to take them away. I applied special tar to the cuts on the trees, so that they wouldn’t lose moisture and wither. I didn’t notice that a few hours had passed. The next day I found something else, and during the summer holidays I did so much work that everyone was really impressed
by the result. If somebody had told me that I would do some gardening at the beginning of June, I would have just laughed at it. But… seriously, I liked it.
When you work in the open air you feel new power flowing into you. It makes you feel refreshed, no matter how long you work. And sitting by a computer throws you into the abyss of weakness and depression.
Everything became even more interesting, when I saw the first sprouts of the seeds I had sown before. I could not say I had never seen anything like this in my life. Of course I had. But those were my own sprouts on the patches of land I had cultivated myself. It was a surprise. I came to understand that I had contact with something alive. Life in the city seemed to me what it really is.
The first crops that year were mainly carrots, cabbages and strawberries which I had carefully watered throughout the holidays. They all had a special taste – the one you can never find in the products from a food store.
Most of my friends still don’t understand me. They prefer to stay indoors or hang out, just wasting time. And I don’t find it unseemly to take a spade and go to work in our garden, where nature welcomes me and rewards me with new emotions and sensations.

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Online Shopping

I do not remember exactly what I first bought online. Wait… It was a book on programming which I found only on the Internet and which was not available in ordinary bookstores. I needed it so much that I purchased it without any hesitation. It was really unusual in those days. I didn’t pay for it at once, so I did it a bit later at the post-office. Such method of payment is called ‘cash on delivery’. Today everything has become even simpler – you may easily use your credit card to transfer money in a couple of clicks.
I don’t do the shopping online very often. Before I buy something I study the reviews for this or that item, which has been already bought by someone else. If I am fully satisfied I order it and wait for the day when I can collect it from the post office.
I usually order electronic devices and books on the Internet. It is very convenient, because it saves my time. Besides to buy something online may be cheaper than in an ordinary shop, especially if we speak about direct shipping from China. I am sure everyone knows what Aliexpress is.
The problem of online shopping is that you can never be sure of the quality of the goods you get – you don’t see them in reality, only in a picture. As for the Chinese online-shops, their photos often don’t correspond with the description, and you may get something different in reality. But if the price is low, it will not lead to great disappointment.
I never order expensive goods on the Internet. The first and main reason for it is the absence of warranty in its traditional understanding. If you buy something from an ordinary retail store, you can come back later and request a refund or solve any other problems if you are not satisfied with the quality of what you have bought. It is not so easy with an online-shop. It will take a longer time and nobody knows what will come out of it.
If we speak about Russia, I think that online shopping became popular not so long ago. It started somewhere in 2004, though Internet was not so widespread in those days. Today people find it a convenient way to buy goods of different kinds. It has become possible due to the development of online banking.

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Shopping

I belong to the group of people who do not like shopping at all. When I try to remember whether I found it interesting a few years ago, I cannot find a definite answer. Some time ago I used to buy things I didn’t really need, especially different gadgets and appliances. Now I realize that it is better to invest money in something that acquires additional value with the time, for example, books.
I suppose that everyone has to go shopping a few times a year, whether he likes it or not. The same may be said about me: I do the shopping before New Year or the birthdays of my family members and friends. I am not able to find anything interesting in the process, all the shops and supermarkets
look the same. The assortment is the same, too. Quite a lot of my friends like shopping for clothes and digital electronics and they are ready to waste their time on it. I am not.
I don’t like to spend long hours in shopping centres: there is so much fuss and advertisement there that I always try to leave the places as soon as possible.
As far as I understand, the word ‘shopping’ implies that one buys several things at the same time. Isn’t it a waste of money? You can buy several items under the influence of external factors and then come home and find out that you don’t need what you have just purchased. I know some people who are ‘shopping freaks’ – it means that they clutter their homes up with clothing and other things. Sooner or later they have to throw out the old things that are actually new and unused. I believe that shopping as a phenomenon is imposed on us by the present-day consumer society.
I cannot say that I hate shopping. I simply do not like it. There is such a notion as ‘window shopping’, and sometimes I do it. It means walking in front of stores and looking at the products displayed in the windows without buying anything. I like to examine books and watches in the shops just because there is some aesthetics in these objects for me. Though I understand that shop-assistants do not like window-shoppers.
Why is shopping not so interesting after all, even if we speak about presents? Just because everyone has so many things today that it is really hard to choose something worthy of attention. That is why shopping for me personally is always a challenge, which I try to avoid.
The only kind of shopping I like is going to art stores, as I am fond of painting and it is my hobby. I cans spend a lot of time choosing new brushes or paints for my future work. This is really breathtaking.

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Money

There are quite a lot of definitions of the word ‘money’. The generally accepted one is: ‘Money is a good* that acts as a medium of exchange in transactions’. Let’s try to think what money really means in our life.
If we take a closer look at the word itself, we will find out that it is uncountable in the English language. And every language is a clever system based on special principles and experience of generations. We cannot count money itself, we can just count currencies (dollar, euro, rouble etc.) or coins. And this seems to be reasonable.
Of course it is necessary to keep the books of income and expenditure in order to know what you get for your work and what is left as savings. But taking money as the primary goal in life is fallacious. I suppose no one will argue with the fact that one can’t buy everything. Money cannot buy:
•lost time
•happiness
•love
•health
•success
•talent
•peace
So money is only a means to reach higher goals and it demands special care. The more money someone has the greater amount of temptations he is liable to. It would be interesting to take a look at what is going on in the head of a millionaire. Is money the only care of his? I believe big money brings big problems, as it begins to control its owner.
The fear to lose all the property is probably the worst thing one can think of. Though striving for money and material values seem to be an inalienable quality of people over the whole history of the humankind. The problem of the rich and the poor is still one of the most acute ones in the world, and no one has ever invented a way to solve it. Some countries take steps to build the society of equality. Sweden is one of them. But I do not think it will be possible, until the majority realizes what values are eternal and what are transient. Big money is practically always made at somebody’s cost.
If I were a millionaire, I would spend a considerable part of it on charity (maybe even half of it). You may say that if I had a lot of money I would be a different person. No I wouldn’t. Because when people are aware of such thoughts, nothing can make them change. I live according to the principle: ‘One should give more than he gets’. Living for people around and not for money or for yourself is really important. And I am perfectly sure that if one lives honestly, Life itself is sure to reward him sooner or later, and he will get everything that he needs, including money.

______

*generally it is used in the plural: goods

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Photography

The word photography may be translated from Greek as ‘drawing with light’. Since cameras first appeared in the first half of the 19th century, photography has come a long way and the equipment we have today is really fast and simple to use.
I suppose everyone has a digital camera at present, no matter where it is: it may be built in a tablet or a smartphone or even in a multimedia player. Some people are indifferent to photography and cameras – they simply never use them. Others like to take photos and don’t pay much attention to their quality. The others like professional equipment and are interested in the final result.
Fifteen years ago photography was not so widespread as it is today. We had to buy films, have them developed in special offices and then we got prints themselves. It was not possible to understand at once if this or that slide was worth printing, and sometimes people were surprised at the results when they got ready photos in envelopes. Though, it was even interesting, but rather expensive. The cameras people used were simple in their majority, so high quality photos were really a rare thing. Besides, most photos were taken on special occasions, when families gathered to celebrate holidays etc. Of course, there were professional film cameras, but they cost too much, and very few people could afford them.
The situation changed when the first digital cameras appeared. They were relatively cheap and small, and absolutely any model had a small LCD screen to view pictures right after you shoot them. Shooting short videos was also possible. It was really a breakthrough for those days. People began to buy such devices somewhere in 2004.
But this technology brought up a problem, too. People started taking too many photos, most of them were good for nothing, but they were still kept on hard drives and other data storages. In the days of analog photography people used to keep their best photos in albums. Digital photography originally implied less printing. So quite often it was next to impossible to find good ones in tons of files on the computer. I remember that I had the same problem, too. I still have old folders on my PC and can’t find time to delete permanently what I will never need anymore.
At present I am more careful about this. I have a good professional camera and choose only the best pictures for further editing and saving. Having a good photo printer at hand is a good thing, too. Now I understand that keeping photos in an album is better than to simply have them on your computer. And I am not the only one who thinks this way.
The worst thing about today’s photography is a ‘selfie’. When it first appeared, no one could believe that it might become a serious mental disorder. I know people posting tons of new pictures in social networks and other websites daily.
Summing up, I can say that photography today is a technology that provides great opportunities for us, and we should use it aiming at the quality and not the quantity of pictures.

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Street Art

The attitude to street art depends on what we understand as ‘street art’. Walking along the streets of any city or town we often see graffiti on the walls of the buildings. It always hurts my eye when I notice a dark splash or spot on a snow-white freshly painted wall. It is still worse when the graffiti are on the buildings which are recognized as monuments of architecture. No one knows what makes young people daub the surfaces with spray paint.
Graffiti appeared not so long ago, especially in our country. The problem lies in the accessibility of spray paint. You can just buy a tube and put it in the backpack. A jar of paint isn’t small enough to be taken. Besides one needs brushes to apply it.
On the other hand there are really unique people who create street art, which draws everyone’s attention to various problems and phenomena. The most famous street artist, whose works are often published on the Internet is Banksy. He comes from the UK, but his real name hasn’t been disclosed yet. The officials sometimes report they have found and detained him, but in reality it turns out to be a fake. His
drawings are really interesting and unusual. Though in my opinion his activity is not legal either, because he seems to be spoiling the walls of the buildings, too.
But sometimes street art may be even useful. In the yards by blocks of flats there are so many concrete cubes, which contain electric equipment or something else. They look really awful. Street artists sometimes paint the whole box, depicting some symbols of the city or even panoramas. They do it in accordance with local authorities’ orders. Such objects can be found in our city, too.
I have never had a wish to buy spray paint myself and sprinkle some surface with it. I think it is necessary to increase the fines for this illegal activity, so that teenagers wouldn’t do it so willingly. On the other hand the authorities should think of some places where street art could be legal.

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Origin of Art

People of the world have always had an aspiration to create something eternal that can live for centuries. Art is the greatest heritage of the past, wealth of the present and a lighthouse in the future.
Art has a unique ability to concentrate human experience and to express it in a concise way, no matter what kind of art it is: music, literature, painting, sculpture. Speaking about art we should distinguish between contemporary and classical art. No one can define what contemporary art is: on the one hand it is simply what is created nowadays. And on the other hand the question of quality arises: is there any criterion that may be applied to ‘separate the wheat from the chaff’?
There are thousands of artistic directions today. And modern art can’t be mostly considered to be genuine art. If our ancestors had had an opportunity to glance at the future, they would have said: ‘O tempora, o mores’! Real art implies great efforts and a long period of creation. A masterpiece can’t be created within one day. Though it’s possible today. At least they say so.
O. Wilde wrote about ‘Art for art’s sake’. It’s the worst thing that may happen. Art is born as a combination of the artist’s personal experience and his desire to implement it in some material form. Even music may be considered material in a way: it has notes written on paper.
Every person has his own preferences concerning art: some people like music, others like photography, some like several kinds of art at the same time. Ask yourself a question: ‘When did I visit an exhibition last time?’ If it was long ago, then just go somewhere. And you’ll become richer. Art enriches us, makes us think and feel.
Have you ever tried your hand at art? Any person has aptitude for one or another kind of art. But it’s typical of us not to develop such abilities. People need certain circumstances to reveal their talent. Art helps you fill your life with diversity, new emotions and ideas. Art differentiates people from animals. Without Art we can merely exist and with Art we live so one of the functions of any state is to give support to art and to let talented people feel more confident.

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The Art of Painting

‘Art is long, life is short’ – we all know these words which date back to the fourth century B.C. Since that time they have acquired even greater importance. Wikipedia gives the following definition of art:

…a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts – artworks, expressing the author’s imaginative or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.

Painting relates to the oldest forms of art in the history of humankind due to its powerful expressive means. People perceive the most part of information visually, that is
the main reason for it. The first primitive drawings and paintings appeared thousands of years ago. What we see today in the museums and art galleries is the manifestation of thorough mastery and human thought expressed on canvas or any other surface.
Visual art has changed substantially over the centuries, and it is still changing. It undergoes the influence of modern views, just like any other kind of art. The major trend today is its simplification. There are such artists who daub the canvas with paint in a few minutes and then proudly declare that they have just created a masterpiece. The twentieth century was rich in such personalities; I don’t want to give any examples, it is just enough to search for ‘contemporary art’ on the Internet. I have never been interested in such art, since I believe that the process of creation takes quite a lot of time an effort. My favourite period in painting is the 19th century. I adore landscapes and still-life. As for the portraits, they are interesting, but if I choose what to hang on the wall, I will prefer either a landscape or a still-life composition.
The artists who I am absolutely impressed by are Jan Vermeer van Delft, William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough, Claude Monet, Isaac Levitan and Ivan Aivazovski. To tell the truth I like Russian art more than any other. I don’t know the exact reason for it, but I may suppose, that what I see in the pictures is closer to my heart than something that exists abroad. These people managed to create the masterpieces that will live through the centuries.
I am not against modern art, because even today there are great talented painters who work in a classical tradition. They pay much attention to the details and to the technique retaining the best of what has ever been achieved by the generations of artists. Russian contemporary art seems to be much more traditional than abroad. Landscape painting is still the most popular genre. Unfortunately artists have less opportunities to share the joy of art with people around today than they had twenty or thirty years
ago. Of course, you may say everything is accessible on the Internet, but the only problem is that one can’t perceive painting on the screen, it is vitally necessary to see it in reality.
I hope that the interest in painting will be revived in the future, because art is the best way to bring up and teach the next generations and to form their taste.

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Art and its meaning

Man does not live by caviar alone.
I. Shaw. Nightwalk

What makes a human being a human being? No doubt it’s our cultural needs. Here lies the major difference between a man and an animal. Animals don’t need art. Some monkeys, dolphins, elephants are capable of drawing, but it
isn’t art. It’s just their physical ability to use a brush or some other object for drawing.
Art has existed for ages. It has undergone a lot of changes. It has taken numerous forms, and what we call Art now is a wide notion including painting, music, architecture and many other branches.
Art lets a man express himself and his inner world in some material form. Music is an exception, but it may be seen as ‘partly material’. But the word ‘artist’ even contains ‘art’ in itself.
My favourite branch of art is painting. When you look at the pictures of ‘Old Masters’ you touch the reality of the past days. You come to understand the inner tune of the man who created this or that masterpiece.
There exists such a notion as ‘modern art’. I don’t think it to be real art, it may be called ‘imitation of art’ or what not. The humankind has been creating classical traditions, methods and approaches to Art for ages, starting with the time of cavemen, who painted life scenes on the stone walls. Today it’s possible, though, to take some scrap, put it together and call it an ‘installation’. There are people who like this. They say, at least, that they understand the author’s message. There are people who believe, that there are people who understand such ‘art’ and believe the latter.
Classical traditions had implied a long process of creation, until impressionism appeared. Artists started to paint in accordance with their transient mood. Brush strokes became fast; their precision was of no importance. The main purpose is to catch this ‘mood’ and implement it at once. Such pictures are really impressive. If you look at them closely you won’t understand them. But the farther you move back, the better you see the details.
Have you ever tried your hand at painting? I have. It’s really fascinating. It makes you feel in peace with yourself and the outer world. It lets tranquility enter your soul.
Having a hobby connected with art is really cool. You know that you always have to develop, to learn new things.

It’s important to take the first step, and then you should just go on…

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Education

‘Everything is good in its season’. We use this phrase in connection with anything, but education. Education, to be more precise, the level of education is a universal and eternal value. Striving for knowledge is an inalienable right and natural aspiration of a human being.
Education takes its origin in the discrepancy between your present and desired levels of knowledge. ‘I know that
I don’t know anything’, – said Socrates. If we imagine our personal knowledge as a circle, that encloses it, and what we don’t know is outside the circle, then the longer its perimeter is, the more its area is and the more we know. The more we know, the more we don’t know. So, if a person says he knows everything, his knowledge is a tiny circle, just a point. He knows little, and he doesn’t know little either. It’s a paradox.
Today it’s extremely important to be capable of learning. It means that you should be able to find necessary information yourself. No official education can educate a person. If you are a pupil, then a student, or a post-graduate, or you work in your professional sphere, you must know for sure what you need. Education that we get is meant to show us the way we should follow. People who believe that the course of lectures which is delivered at their university is enough, are mistaken.
The Internet is a great educational means. You get an access to invaluable sources of information of different kinds, in different languages. You may get acquainted with different points of view here.
Remember, cramming is the worst thing on your way to becoming a specialist. Our memory is insidious. So when learning, you should come to understand the matter and get the essence of what you learn. Some say, that education is what is left after you have forgotten what you were once taught. That’s it! In my opinion, it’s the best definition of education.
A real specialist is able to connect things within some professional sphere. Take medicine for example. It’s a rare case, when a doctor can consider some health problem in its interconnection with a number of factors. Usually it’s like this: you come to a doctor, and he examines you for the problems possible in some particular system he specializes in. Unfortunately it’s common practice nowadays.
Such an approach is misleading. Avoid it.

Material things and currencies may be devalued easily. Education is never devalued. Remember it and follow your own way.

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Languages and their importance

Chekhov said: ‘You are the man as many times, as many languages you know’. Really, learning foreign languages contributes greatly to the development of the personality and makes people look at the surrounding world more widely. Let’s try to find reasons proving that learning a foreign language is vital:

1) You have already started learning English. It can be deduced from the fact that you are reading this book now. If you are learning English, then you need it for your own purposes at least, and it’s good. Go on and you’ll be a success.
2) Learning a language develops your memory and thinking. Our brain needs constant training as well as our muscles need constant physical activity.
3) Being able to speak a foreign language you have a wider range of possibilities to travel, to communicate with people abroad, to get acquainted with new cultural spheres etc.
4) It’s simply interesting to understand the origin of words in your own language. The more languages you know, the better you understand where a lot of words come from. You start to ‘feel’ their taste and meaning.
5) Why should you read books and watch films in translation? Let them be in the original. Complete understanding doesn’t come at once, but the more you watch and read, the sooner you’ll be able to speak this or that foreign language.
6) You listen to your favourite music, but you don’t understand the songs, do you?
7) If you know one foreign language, it’s easier to start learning another one.
8) Some people learn foreign languages to increase their ‘price’ on the labour-market. It shouldn’t be the first goal, though.
9) We now live in a constantly changing world providing us with new ways of communication. If you want to master your professional skills, to get new information then why not study foreign sources?
10) It’s fashionable to learn a foreign language. Naturally, it takes time to do it properly. But it’s rewarding. Let your friends, who don’t learn a foreign language, envy you. It’s a joke of course.
To recapitulate, we draw the following conclusion: to know at least one foreign language is absolutely necessary.

English seems to be the most popular in the world thanks to its relative simplicity. Chinese is popular too. But… it’s too difficult to learn. Don’t stop, keep on working at your English. You know quite a lot of grammatical material, but it’s important to use your skills so that you would be able to speak English fluently. And to speak English means to think in English…

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Music

‘Music is the universal language of mankind’, –
said once Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Music is not only a kind of art but also a kind of universal language. You can’t learn all the languages in the world, but you are able to understand music. Music helps when the words are not enough.
I don’t play any musical instruments, that’s why I take musicians as people sent down to Earth from Heaven. They have some special gift. My favourite musical instruments are the piano, the violin and the flute. I can’t say that I am
fond of some particular kind of music, I listen to different performers according to my mood. I have never listened much to classical music, it’s not fully my cup of tea. I like some composers, and my favourite one is Ferenc Liszt. His works are somehow different from the rest. I don’t like when a lot of musical instruments are involved into the process. But his masterpieces for the piano are unsurpassed.
I discovered the charm of Indian music a few years ago. I don’t mean the music coming from India. I listen to the traditional music of American and South American Indians. The flute is the main component here. Its pure sound brings serenity into my soul. I often turn it on in the background when do some creative work.
Pop music is difficult to listen to. The older I grow, the more I understand that art for the majority can’t be true art. Real art is for limited circles of people. Imagine a mineral water dispenser in the street, where all people drink from one glass. I feel the same about pop-music.
There can be naturally some good tracks within the limits of pop-music, but they are not numerous. Folk and native music can be different and surprisingly understandable. Just listen to traditional tea music from China, to the bagpipe of Scotland, to the sounds of the Pacific and you’ll see a wider world than you used to imagine.
As for the Russian performers, my absolutely favourite musician is B. Grebenshchikov. I clearly see the evolution of his creative activity in the course of time. One of his recent albums ‘Back to Arkhangelsk’ is a product of a very high quality. Grebenshchikov’s tunes are unique, his lyrics are close to my ideas. And together they make up a wonderful combination, so memorable and so distinctively bright against the gloomy background of pop-music.
And I would like to finish with the words of Henry David Thoreau: ‘When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest’.

And what about you? Do you feel the same?

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Cinema and Theatre

Many people believe that cinema and theatre are somehow opposed to each other. Theatre is ‘old art’ and cinema is ‘new art’. It’s not at all like this. I think it silly to argue about this question. Let the first like theatre and the second like cinema. I don’t belong to one group only. I can’t say that I am a theatre-goer, I have been to the theatre just a few times. And I have never been impressed. Now people come to understand that theatre as a social and artistic phenomenon needs something else, that could attract people. That’s why we see quite a lot of so-called ‘street-theatres’ with their performances which include fire-shows, acrobatics and many other curious things.
I have never been able to read plays. It seems boring to me, I don’t like the form of the play – it’s not easy to understand and not convenient to read. It seems that the logic of narration is somehow ‘broken’. I like to read usual books with passages of normal length.
But still I have a few acquaintances who are theatre-goers. We don’t talk much about the theatre with them, though.
Cinema is a newer and a more spectacular phenomenon for me. Don’t think that I like cinematography for its special effects only. No way. I have watched a lot of ‘good old stuff’. One of my favourite directors is I. Bergman. And I strongly advise to watch his masterpiece ‘Fanny and Alexander’ if you have time some day. Such films make people think.
I don’t often go to the cinema. I would watch films more often if I had more time. There are quite a lot of genres. I watch films in accordance with my present state and mood. Sometimes I can watch several action films running. Sometimes I need a horror film just to stir up my imagination and emotions. But my absolutely favourite genre is the historical one. It’s not necessarily a feature film, it may be a documentary. It’s even more interesting to see some real footage coming out of the past. I have watched a lot about the Second World War. I always watch them in the original and strongly advise you to do the same. The more you see in English, the better you understand the language and its peculiarities. The best films in my opinion are ‘Brave Heart’, starring Mel Gibson, ‘Gladiator’ and many others. I have watched ‘1492: Conquest of Paradise’ recently.
What I don’t like about modern cinema is the 3D technology. It hurts people’s eyes and is not safe to use. Unfortunately, there are a lot of good films presented in 3D only.
To finish with, I would like to tell you about a very interesting animation film director – A. Petrov. It’s not even animation completely. He created several films, using a unique technology – he paints every frame on glass, it makes the drawings transparent and weightless. Only one minute of filming requires more than 1 000 frames, and one can paint 15 within a day! It’s great work!
So, it’s not special effects that make a film impressive and memorable. A film should contain a part of the artist’s soul. Then it will shine on for a long time like a star among the rest. The same can be said about theatre and any other kind of art. And true art must never be ‘An art for art’s sake’. It must leave something in the soul of the spectator. Try to search for such Art and find it.

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Sport

We often say ‘A healthy spirit is in a healthy body’. It’s so simple but nonetheless so concise and so obvious. Sport is an important part of healthy life. The human body was not originally designed for sitting in a stuffy office. A human being was created for some physical activities, and people didn’t seem to be interested in professional sport for some time, since they didn’t need extra physical activities, as they had to work a lot.
Today sport is a phenomenon which is synonymic to ‘professional sport’. If you go to the gym or play volleyball or do something else and you don’t take part in competitions, it generally means that you do something related to fitness…
For me table tennis is the most interesting kind of sport. It develops reaction, endurance and speed. I can do it twice a week or sometimes even more often, for example on holidays. I have been playing table tennis for seven years, but I have never taken part in any competitions. I first took a racket in my hands when I was 12, but then I didn’t play
much and began to play tennis later. I do it for myself and for my personal interest. I have a few acquaintances who think the same way.
Chinese players are the best players in the world. It’s the speed that lets them win the prizes. I often watch tennis matches on TV, as I have a special sports channel thanks to my cable TV.
Many people believe that sport is not connected with thinking. It’s silly to think so, because you have to foresee the next step of your opponent, or even several ones. There must be a strategy in your game. If you don’t develop this ability, you’ll never beat a strong rival. It’s not an exaggeration, but I don’t see much difference between tennis and chess in some regard. Playing chess you can think longer, while playing tennis involves your physical abilities and skills. And then you have a unity of movement and strategy and quick thinking, and this is the most exciting thing about the game.
Sport and bad habits are absolutely incompatible. I don’t understand people who combine smoking and skiing for example. My opinion of taking some dope and anabolic steroids is the same. If you are a professional sportsman, it’s not fair to your rivals. But modern dope testing minimizes such cases in an effective way.
If you don’t go in for sports, try to take up something. It will be a new experience; it’ll bring new emotions into your soul. If you do some sports, never give it up.

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Bird Watching: an Unusual Hobby

I have a friend coming from the United Kingdom. He is in his seventies and he has been living in Russia since 1992 when first came here from Rochester. One day when we were fishing at the lake, he asked me if I had ever heard about bird watching. My answer was ‘no’. A bit later I read about it in some text, but at that time it was surprising.
When we came back home he showed me a book in English. He opened it at a definite page and pointed to a bird which was drawn there. ‘A hoopoe’, he said with some obvious satisfaction. ‘I saw it once’. It was really surprising to get to know, that bird watching is so widespread in the UK. As for other countries, I am not quite sure.
What you need for this hobby are just binoculars and patience. It turned out that there were even special books for those who are keen on bird watching, so that they would easier recognize the species. A few years later one of my acquaintances began to take pictures of the birds using special long-focus camera lenses and to publish them on the Internet. It was simply amazing! I am fond of photography and would like to do the same, but unfortunately I don’t have enough time for it.
The first thing that occurred to me when I got to know what bird watching is was as follows: this hobby is much better than hunting or something else, because you just admire the beauty of birds and don’t kill them (in contrast to making stuffed birds). And at the same time it is as interesting as hunting, because you have to look for the species you are interested in, but you do not have to pull the trigger.
Sometimes we may see this hobby in films. I have recently watched ‘Hunting Forrester’ where the main character, the old writer, shot videos about birds and kept the whole collection in a drawer. I remembered my English friend at once when I was watching this film.
I believe that any hobby which is not harmful for nature and the man himself is good. The world around is created to please people and birds in particular are a sight for sore eyes.

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Hobbies: Fishing

There is a good saying: ‘The time that you spend on fishing is not subtracted from the time of your life’. So theoretically one can increase his life by two or even more times simply going fishing and spending half a week at the water.
As for me, I can stay by the water for long hours and I never notice how the time flies. I have been fishing since the age of four when I first took a fishing rod and went to the river
with my grandfather. At that time I realised that there is definitely some magic in the process. You never know what to expect of the forthcoming fishing: you can catch a few kilos or nothing. A real angler has interest in the process itself. If the result is rewarding then it is still better. But leaving the place with an empty fishing-crib is not a cause to get disappointed – you can have a good catch next time.
The most important thing for me that fishing provides is the relaxation. You leave all the bad thoughts and worries somewhere on the way and when you come to the water you feel completely refreshed. I usually leave the house early in the morning at around 3 or 4 a.m. to have enough time for the trip and for preparation. I like to cycle to the lake or to the river, as they are 16 kilometres away from my country house. I go fishing in summer only. Winter is the time for other activities.
I like it when dense fog is in the air. You are a few meters away from the water but you do not see it. You only hear the rare splashes of fish, that is waking up. Not a leaf is stirring around you. When the weather is changeable or windy I avoid going fishing. I know for sure that I will not get anything and the day will be just a waste of time. Sometimes the weather is really dull for a long period of time and then I long for fishing.
The first fish that you catch is especially valuable. It means that you may have hope for more ones. It is the tension of the fishing line and the trembling of the tip of the fishing rod that make the angler happy. The bigger a fish is the more excited you feel. I cannot even imagine what sea-fishing is. It must be something and I dream of it all the time.
If it is possible, I try to go to the lake on weekdays, because at the weekend the place is often crowded, and due to the noise nobody can count on a good catch. There are exceptions though. I usually spend six to eight hours by the water.
If you have never done the fishing yet, I advise you to do it. Once you have gone fishing, you will not be able to stop and quit it. I know even a few women who accompany their husbands. Fishing is an unforgettable experience, believe me.

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English as My Favourite Subject

I can hardly remember my first English lesson at school. It was long ago. I remember only that I was a bit frightened because everything was new and unexpected. I could not understand how it is possible to use foreign words and how to learn them.
I was happy to have a teacher who did not force us to learn English the way many teachers do. She did not shout at us and did not punish us. But we soon realised that if we made mistakes or were not prepared for the lesson, we hurt her some way. We showed thus, that her subject was not interesting. And we never did it. I still do not know how she managed to win children’s respect, but she did it.
Now English is the most interesting subject for me. I am not flattering anyone now. I simply like it. There are a lot of reasons for it. First it improves my memory. I am fond
of learning new words. Isn’t it great when you hear someone speaking English and understand him or her. Of course, I do not fully understand native speakers yet, but I am sure that I will be able to do it in the future. Second, any language makes people think differently. Nothing can be translated directly from one language into another. There is always some peculiarity in the meaning. Third, when you know a foreign language you can watch films and read books in the original. And I am keen on reading.
English provides infinite possibilities in the modern world. I mean different spheres of life: education, travelling, communication, art and so on.
When you learn a foreign language you should always remember that this process requires constant practice. I cannot live a day without English. Many people believe that it is a simple language. It is not. It possesses powerful expressive means, due to its rich vocabulary. It seems to me that the more I learn it, the more unknown words there are. But I don’t want to give up and continue to write out new lexical units. Once I heard that to remember this or that word well, you have to use it in different situations nearly 20(!) times.
To have good practice in English, I look for pen-pals on the Internet. It also provides an opportunity to make video calls using Skype or any other programs. So now I have a few acquaintances living in the UK, the USA and Germany. I am trying to learn German, too. But I am afraid that something may get mixed up in my head. Of course I would like to see all these people in real life and I hope that I will have an opportunity and time to travel in the future.

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My Household Chores

I do not exactly remember how old I was when I realise that it was necessary to help the family. I simply started doing what my parents and grandparents did. Even at that time it was never difficult for me to throw the litter in the dustbin or take dirty dishes to the kitchen and put them into the sink. A bit later when I grew up and the water tap was within my reach, I began to help wash up. Everyone appreciated my attempts and I was really happy because of that.
Taking out the garbage became my duty when I went to school. When I got my dog as a present for my tenth birthday I realised that it was me, who had to walk it. There were no arguments about it.
Frankly speaking I do not understand the meaning of the word ‘chores’. It may be used when somebody makes somebody do something about the house. My parents have never had to force me to perform any duties. I have always tried to notice what is necessary and who needs my help and what I can do about it. It is much simpler and much more pleasant for everyone.
I do not think it is fair when somebody does the cooking all the time for the whole life. The duties are to be equally distributed among the members of the family. Okay, I am not a good cook, but I can make something simple and tasty so that my Mom could have a rest. The same may be
said about all the household chores. You may think that my labour is exploited. No way. We just try to live as happily as we can.
I can say that I do not like some duties. I cannot explain why, but I hate vacuum-cleaning, though washing the floors is quite okay. Washing up is not exhausting if you do not do it three times a day several days running. Everyone makes his bed in our family. I remember that I could not do it properly when I was really small, because the counterpane was too big for me, and my mom or grandma helped me with it.
Going shopping may be considered a part of household chores. I seldom do the shopping on my own, only when I have to buy some trifles. We generally drive to the supermarket at the weekend and buy everything for the whole week. That is why I do not have to do it often.
And of course my first duty now is to study well. This is the first thing I always think about. And all the household chores are nothing compared to it.

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My Room

I am really happy to have a room of my own. My parents allowed me to create my world inside it when I was a small kid. Since then it has changed a lot, but I still feel that I want to come back here again and again.
I do not mean that I have a mess in my room, because very often young people who have enough freedom in this regard like to scatter the clothes all around or even leave dirty dishes on the desk. No. My room is in order, I clean it twice a week and I like it when all the things are in their places.
My room is big enough even for two people, but I live here alone. So there is a lot of space which I use rationally. I like sport, so I have a treadmill in the corner opposite my bed. I use it for daily training and it really helps me to keep fit.
Reading is a part of my life. I cannot imagine my world without books, so there are three bookshelves and one bookcase, where I do not keep the books only but also quite a lot of other things. Next to the bookcase I have my wardrobe. I do not need a big one, as I have not got much clothes, and if I take a look inside it now, I will even find an empty section.
Photography is one of my hobbies, too. So I like to put the pictures on the walls. There are not many of them though.
I do not like to change anything in my room, but in winter I am going to hang some different wallpaper, as I am tired of the colour I have now in my room.
As for my desk, there is one problem: I have got too many papers and notebooks and what not on it. I am a person with a creative mind. When I draw I leave the pencils and the sheets of paper right in their place to come back soon and finish the drawing. There is a laptop on the desk, too. This is the only place in my room where I have a mess. I always get angry when somebody tries to arrange everything, because I cannot find anything after it. My mom has tried to do it several times, but now she doesn’t want to do it anymore. Fortunately.
On the wall I have a clock which always reminds me of the time. When I look at the smooth movement of the second hand, I remember that I cannot waste time. Besides its ticking helps me fall asleep.
I cannot say that there is something special about my room, but I like it very much and feel comfortable and safe here. Here I live in the world I have created myself.

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Going on a Picnic

Going on a picnic is a good way to spend free time. It is especially popular in summer when the weather is warm and sunny. Most people go
by car to some remote places where they can have a good time with their families and friends.
When I have an opportunity to get out of the city, the most difficult task is to choose the destination, as there are quite a lot of interesting places around. My friends and I like to spend our free time by the water. Sometimes we even take the tents and put them up on the shore of the lake. If we go on a picnic it does not mean that we take a lot of food, so generally a picnic implies making barbecues somewhere far away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
We do not like just to lie in the shade and do nothing. Any sports activities like playing volleyball, badminton are a good addition to a picnic. I always have my camera with me to take photos of nature and the people around.
I am always responsible for cutting firewood and making fire. In winter we prefer to buy ready coals and use them for barbecues. I remember that we once went to the forest in January when the temperature was twenty degrees below zero, and it was a challenge to make a fire, but we finally did it. Since then we have never gone on a picnic in winter.
In my opinion the food cooked in the open air tastes much better than what you cook in the kitchen. I do not know why, but all of my friends have noticed it more than once. My most favourite dish is grilled fish that you catch on your own. Sometimes it takes a few hours to have the catch that you want, but it is worth doing!
It is especially important to remember some rules when you go on a picnic. First, you have to be careful with fire and never leave burning coals. Be sure to extinguish them. In a strong wind you have to be careful, too, as it can spread the flame over dry grass. Second, do not leave rubbish on the site where you had a picnic. It is not pleasant to see empty bottles and plastic bags thrown out right under your feet. So when my friends and I come and see something like these, we collect the litter and then find a place to dump it on the way back. Rubbish is dangerous not only for people but also for wild animals, that find and chew it.

So picnic is one of the best ways to spend your time in unity with nature and refresh yourself, especially at the weekend or on holidays before a long period of work or studies.

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My favourite film

It’s not an easy thing to choose one favourite film from a wide range of films. Once I mentioned that I like the historical genre. And I would like to tell you about ‘Brave Heart’ starring Mel Gibson.
I believe that many of you have already watched this film. It was shot in 1995 and it’s a real masterpiece from different points of view up to now. It was directed by Mel Gibson himself. When I watch a film where its director is among the cast, I’m always impressed, because it’s much more difficult to shoot a film than to simply be an actor. But Mel Gibson coped with his task flawlessly.
It’s an epic film. Simply an epic one. It has two interconnected storylines – the first is love between William Wallace and a young girl and the second comes as a consequence of the first – it’s fight for freedom.
The Scots had always been eager to be independent, but the English Government and the Crown had its interest in the northern part of the British Isles. And William Wallace was the first warrior who lead his people and initiated the national resistance, having revealed the inner striving of his people for freedom and independence.
Originally he wanted to lead a quiet life, but the guards of an English lord killed his wife and William had to follow a new road…
It’s a sad film. But it’s so masterly done that you watch it from beginning to end without looking at your watch.
The people of Scotland remember their national hero even today. And they still want to be independent. And they may get it in the nearest future.
‘Brave Heart’ is not a film to watch once. I’m sure that you’ll see it several times. And every time I watch it, I find something new. The music is really beautiful. The bagpipe is a very special musical instrument, it’s charming and mesmerizing. Its sound goes deep into the soul, and the bagpiper himself seems to play not his instrument only, but some inner strings of your heart. The music is so
peaceful. And before watching the film, listen to its OST* first, listen to it several times until you come to understand the mood of the composer…
There’s everything in this film that the best story should possess: love, courage, betrayal. This film was shot in the best traditions of cinematography. There is no doubt, that people will remember and watch this film in the future. Just watch it yourself.

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Clothes and Fashion

Clothes have become an important part of our life since the moment people started making them. I suppose fashion has always existed as a notion, but has never been so important as it is today. Nowadays we have an opportunity to think of luxury goods, whereas people in the past had to think how to survive. Of course, I don’t mean aristocracy and upper class.

In my opinion there exist three big groups of people: those, who prefer simple and comfortable clothes, those who are hooked on fashion, no matter how much something costs and if it is comfortable or not and those who want to have comfort and fashion together. Which group do you belong to? I don’t think there are people who are absolutely indifferent to what they wear. I belong to the first group. I choose casual clothes of darker colours. It is more practical for everyday use. I think jeans and a sweater or pullover are the best choice for cold seasons. In summer I usually wear T-shirts and sometimes shirts. There are no special requirements for the footwear.

I don’t like shopping for clothes and usually I buy a few things at once to save time in the future, and this works.

Nearly all my friends have the same views on clothes. But I know some posh people who care for stylish clothes. I think it is a waste of money when someone buys a jacket for 50 000 roubles just to put it on a few times and then leave it in the wardrobe. Sometimes they buy things which are not suitable for wearing at all, for example, shoes with extremely high heels. I am sure that it is better to invest some extra money in charity than just to pay for useless things. What is more interesting, there are people who can’t afford expensive clothes, but they still buy them. In this case there is a good saying: ‘Cut your coat according to your cloth’.

I have never had heaps of clothes in my life. I can’t say I don’t have enough space for keeping them, but I simply do not like to buy anything I do not really need. I don’t know much about fashion as I am not interested in it. I believe there are some criteria which help to choose suitable clothes, because sometimes we see people who are dressed up like clowns and that doesn’t necessarily mean they have bad clothes, they simply don’t suit them. So, when choosing a new thing one has to be careful and ask for somebody’s advice, if he or she isn’t sure.

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My Favourite Season

When someone asks me about my favourite season, I never know what to say. Really, each of the four seasons has advantages and disadvantages. To tell the truth I don’t like the transitions between seasons, as the weather gets changeable and it usually rains or there is sleet and slush.

Summer seems to be the most favourable season for me, though. Pushkin wrote:

O, summer fair! I would have loved you, too,

Except for heat and dust and gnats and flies.

This is probably the worst thing about summer. Why do I prefer summer? Just because it is the time for the majority of activities. While we usually stay at home in winter, we can do everything we want in summer. I go cycling, fishing and swimming and do some gardening in the country. Summer is holiday time, which is of primary importance. I don’t mean that I don’t like to study, but in summer I have more opportunities for self-development and hobbies.

It is a pity that our climate is changing. Now summer may be cold and rainy or too dry, as it has never been before. We used to have distinct differences between the seasons. At present we don’t. Thus I can only say that I like traditional summer weather, when periods of heat and rain are divided proportionally.

Winter takes the second place for me. I like snowy winters, when one can dive into snow like in water, when one can fall into it up to the waist. Walking in the snowstorm is absolutely fantastic, no matter if I have to clean the snow off the paths around the country house. Frosts are okay, but if they don’t last too long. So I don’t like extremes in winter either. When I was a little kid, I liked winter even more than summer. I don’t know why exactly, but maybe because of New Year, Christmas and their festive atmosphere all around. Besides we did some snow engineering, too. Building snow fortresses was something out of the ordinary, as I remember it now.

I don’t generally do any winter sports. I used to ski a few years ago, but now I don’t have enough time for it. Skating has always been out of the question.

The only positive feature about autumn is the beauty of nature. I like to walk in the park or in the forest and take pictures of the wonderful changes that take place in autumn. I always feel depressed when I have to run my bike into the garage for a long winter period. I have my birthday in autumn, but it doesn’t save the day.

Spring makes our feet wet, that’s why I don’t like it. It thaws and freezes then thaws again. But May is quite nice in this regard, everything around returns to life and one begins to feel the summer is coming.

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Social Networks

The communication in the conditions of present-day Zeitnot (German for shortage of time, time trouble) is the sum of telephone conversations, internet-messengers, which gain or lose popularity and, of course, social networks.

The surrounding world sometimes gets aggressive, and the psychology of a ‘hobbit’ begins to dominate people’s consciousness. It means that somebody wants to take refuge and to hide, giving up real communication. But as it is still necessary, modern means of communication are of great help.

ICQ on a mobile phone is a time-killer. Somebody uses it in class, so that the teacher wouldn’t distract him, others launch the application in hope to get a message from an acquaintance, anticipating the well-known ‘cuckoo’ sound. What for?

It is still not the greatest evil.

Social networks are most dangerous for an unprepared person. The presentation of this phenomenon as a means to keep in touch with the friends is just a psychological trick, a bait which is colourful and attractive, but poisonous at the same time. Having swallowed it once, one gets hooked on social networks.

Losing personal dignity and devastation of the inner world start with harmless logging in to the account once in a few days. One just checks out the news, new photos added by the friends. He wants to know if there are any contact requests or new messages. By the way, all the contacts in any social networks are called ‘friends’.

It is not accidental. Friends are close people. People you spend a lot of time with, you have common interests with and share the same values. Parents and children, spouses or just people who spend time together may be friends. Those who you have seen only once or just heard of are not even acquaintances. But in a social network they are friends, too.

One comes home after work and gets into the social network. The ‘friends’ are there. And The consciousness gives birth to a pleasant picture, producing a cosy atmosphere. Such communication doesn’t oblige you to anything, you may simply leave a comment to a status, picture or song. It is convenient.

‘What a beauty you are in this photo!’ – this type of comments is typical not only of teenagers’ albums but also of mature women. They are mature physically but not mentally. A conclusion may be drawn with confidence that social networks shift the terms of maturation for an indefinite time, implanting infantility and silliness in people.

Social networks are constantly being upgraded. Really it’s not possible at all to create an absolute system from scrape, that would meet user’s demand. But under the guise of care of users, the developers and ideologists (!) hog-tie them with sticky threads, which makes it impossible to release oneself.

I heard a few times something like this: ‘I dropped using social networks and I haven’t logged in for a month’. A striking similarity to alcoholism! The proportion is the same – a month of abstinence, then entering the login and password again. Hooked anew!

The Ideology is another important aspect. Some people feel proud to be of dominant influence, to be leaders. A new user is a small brick in the basement of new ideology

A social network is a powerful economic instrument, with its own currency and services provided in return for it. It is hard to imagine what may grow on this soil in a couple of years.

Now let’s think about silence. The electricity is cut off. As the result there is no Internet. No social networks. No entertainment. I have witnessed several times the withdrawal pains of people addicted to the Internet. The electricity was cut off just for a few hours. Their life terminated. There was only complete frustration. And wet eyes in some cases. It was real, no invention.

And what if silence lasts for a few  hours or days? I mean utter silence. The world without electricity, the first stage of  the apocalypse. Many people will go crazy before the moment one has to take pains to survive, just because of the absence of comfort and high technologies.

And if we imagine if one day the social networks stop functioning? It will not only cause the frustration but also induce a wave of suicidal behaviour acts. Why live if the most valuable doesn’t exist anymore? Just be a hobbit in a hole, who is afraid to show up in the light of the day?

The development of communication means starting with the telegraph and the telephone puts an end to real human communication. And it continues to destruct inexorably the world of the human being making it increasingly technologized and automatized.

Automation is a reduction of time costs. It is good for production, not for life. It turns life into production, too and reduces it to physiological processes, removing the most important component, which is human soul.

If we think it over and ask ourselves what we gain extra time for (as the result of automation of objective reality), the answer will not be understandable. What do we spend this time on? We economize on something and invest time as an absolute value into utterly useless things, such as social networks.

Isn’t it easier to just take a phone and call the one you want to associate with? It is not at all expensive compared to financial investments into gigabytes of Internet traffic or to a package of chips at the supermarket.

Walk to your friends, knock on their doors. A knock on wooden surface is sure to surprise them more, than any online sound. Ring the doorbell and it will be different from what you hear in a social network when you get a new message. Don’t save time – go on foot, contemplating the sky and the sun…

Every login to a social network moves the user away from the people who are dear for him. It is like an injection in a vein, though it seems to be safe for health. Physically, but not mentally.

Be yourself…

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TV in My Life

I have never been a couch potato. I have not either belonged to the group of people who like to have their TV-sets switched on just in the background.

I remember that I liked to watch cartoons and TV shows in my childhood. And the only thing I still remember is advertisement. The older I grew the more advertisement there was on TV. And I could not understand how it was possible to watch a film or a programme with so many breaks. The Internet ran slow at that time so TV, radio, newspapers and magazines were the main sources of information.

The changes came with the appearance of satellite antennas. I got an opportunity to watch channels in English and in German, so my interest in television was revived as I had completely lost any wish to watch Russian TV.

Watching films and news reports in the original is an exciting thing, it helps me greatly in my studies. The best way to learn a foreign language is to plunge into it. The more I listen to native speakers the better my pronunciation is. The ability to think in a foreign language develops more quickly, too. I hear a lot of set expressions, which help me improve my language skills.

My favourite programmes are about nature, animals and travelling. I like politics less, but I always watch analytical shows to be aware of the latest news and events in the world. Sometimes I record programmes to watch them later again.

On Russian television I sometimes watch news reports, but I find it more convenient to get the information on the Internet. But I never watch talk shows or entertaining shows, though I have a few acquaintances who do it. When somebody tries to tell me about it or wants to know my opinion feel amused. Of course there may be interesting shows like ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’, but they are nothing more than simply ‘interesting’. Besides, most of the ideas are borrowed from foreign TV-channels. There is only one programme I sometimes watch, just because it is our original idea. Its name is ‘What? Where?When?’

I don’t usually spend more than an hour or so on watching TV. I get tired of it rather quickly and change my activity.

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The Internet

If you are interested in the technical aspects of the Internet and want to know how and when it appeared, you may read any resource. On the Internet. Or in a book in Information Technology. I would like to speak more about the way it influences people and our life today.

Can you imagine your life without the Internet? You may ask me the same question in response without giving the answer to it. Really it is a stupid question. But how did we live without it 15 or 20 years ago?

Of course the Internet is a powerful means of communication and an inexhaustible source of information. We are able to find everything in a second, when we just type in a search request. Nowadays the Internet is easily accessible on any type of portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets. We could hardly imagine ten years ago what we would have in reality, because even in fantastic films everything was a bit simpler.

What we should probably do is to praise the science. Many people do. They believe in the future, which will be even more amazing and stirring our imagination. If not? Who is going to create the future? Have you ever heard of the doctors who use the Internet during medical operations or consultations? They live among us today. They do it just because they know for sure they will find what they need as long as the Internet exists. They are convinced that it will exist. Eternally. Let’s cut off the electricity… A lot of students at universities pass their exams successfully, using the Internet. Why study? Generations of people have studied and progressed for centuries to create the technologies of the present. What for? To invent the Internet that will finally make their offspring stupid.

The entertaining function of the Internet seems to be aimed at the destruction of our life too. How long will the humankind watch tons of stupid videos and play online games? No one knows the answer. If we go on like this, people will turn into apes and degrade. Maybe history of the humankind is cyclical: people progress and regress over and over again. There might have been some powerful civilizations in the past that destroyed themselves by their technologies and vanished from the face of the Earth.

So the Internet seems to be the main enemy of traditional education. The problem is that even if it is possible to use it in the educational process, no one knows where to draw the line. It simplifies education, it simplifies people’s minds as well.

When I realized it a few years ago, I was in a state of shock. I found out that my memory is not so good as it used to be. Maybe I am mistaken. Hopefully I am. Then I decided to reduce the time I spend on the Internet. I removed my accounts in social networks permanently and… you know – I got more time in quite a miraculous way, if I may put it like this. Now I have more time for life. Real life.

To sum up, I can say that the Internet is a powerful instrument, but the usage of it should be limited, especially at a certain age. If parents let children use the Internet for preparation in primary school, it is a crime. The best way to live is to rely on your own knowledge, to read books, to go to the libraries and use the Internet as a possible addition to educational process and sometimes as entertainment.

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Workaholism

Workaholism is a kind of addiction as we may understand it from the word itself. An addiction to work. Some people can’t get the thoughts of work out of their heads even when they come home to say nothing of other places. They simply can’t stop. What do they do it for? There may be several reasons but the most obvious are money and career.

Of course it is good when people want to earn more money, but there is a good Russian saying ‘It is not possible to earn all the money’. And the more I live the better I understand it. Human body and human brain need regular intervals of rest, it means that we have to go to bed on time and remain active for a certain period of time during the day. It’s not at all accidental, that working week lasts 40 hours. There may be some difference, of course. If someone works for 50 or sixty hours, it is ok. But when we speak about 80 working hours, it is too much. It is quite easy to overestimate yourself and then break down at the age of 35 or forty.

The second reason for workaholism is career advancement. The employer is likely to appreciate it, because it is you who makes money for the firm, but the game is not worth the candle. In some countries like Japan workaholism is considered to be a great social problem, leading to early death, a nervous breakdown and other grave consequences. There have been several cases when people died of working overtime.

There is one more popular delusion: employees believe that working longer hours means more work to be done. But you can’t work effectively for a long time. You may spend a few hours in the evening on what you can do in 20 minutes in the morning. I always feel it when I have a lot of tasks ahead. Of course, something depends on the type of character. If a person is an ‘owl’ he can work even late at night. But it must be a rare occasion. If the same thing happens every day, it may be diagnosed as ‘workaholism’.

And I would like to finish this topic with the quotation of an American author Henry David Thoreau: ‘It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?’

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Smoking

The attitude to smoking has changed several times since the days when it was brought to Europe. Originally smoking a pipe was an Indian habit, which meant sealing a peace treaty. Though smoking was used not only in ceremonies but also in everyday life there.

So seamen spread the idea of smoking in Europe. Later this bad habit was brought to Russia by Peter I, but the purpose of it still remains ununderstandable. Probably no one in those days knew about the damage which it brings to health. It was a fashionable feature.

The church thinks smoking to be a manifestation of paganism and a way to kill oneself, i.e. suicide, which is absolutely true. What makes people commit suicide then?

Some say that tobacco has a special flavour and nicotine causes addiction. I think it is just a way to acquit people of weak will. The same may be said about drinking alcohol.

Some time ago, somewhere in the 30s or 40s smoking was considered to be fashionable and was even depicted in cinematography. A smoking woman was intended to produce a special effect on the viewer. Many people and especially young women followed this example not only at that time but also later. A. Chekhov said: ’ Kissing a smoking woman is like licking an ash-tray’. And I fully agree with it. It is especially disgusting to see the younger generation smoking by a University or a school or just walking with a cigarette in the street.

I have never tried smoking. Every time we discuss some point or phenomenon, we try to find advantages and disadvantages in it. Smoking is unique in this regard: it has no advantages at all. Though, there is one: if somebody is tired of life, he should smoke more to leave this world sooner.

Now let’s talk about the disadvantages and even dangers of smoking.

It ruins people’s health. It really does. There are no ‘light’ cigarettes. All the filters that have been invented so far are not effective. Smoking does not ruin the lungs only: it brings damage to everything in the body – to the bones, teeth, heart, blood vessels.

Smoking is harmful to the wallet. Though in Russia cigarettes are not so expensive as in European countries. Norway, New Zealand and Australia have the highest prices for a pack of cigarettes. Clever people! Maybe the most effective way to reduce the number of smokers in the country is to raise the prices.

Smokers don’t often realize that they have bad breath. Most people find it repulsive.

Finally, anything that causes addiction is bad. No matter what it is, it limits you in your personal freedom. So before lighting the first cigarette everyone should think carefully if he really needs it or not.

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Subcultures

Subcultures are a relatively new phenomenon, which first appeared in the XX century. Some people say that bikers may have been considered a subculture since the moment first motorbikes were invented. Others believe that hippies were the pioneers in this regard, when their movement started in the United Kingdom and the United states in the mid-60s.

Originally hippies were called a counterculture, which means that their values differed greatly and even were in opposition to mainstream culture. Has anything changed since that time? Of course, at present there are so many subcultures that you must even have never heard about most of them. I have never been interested greatly in this question, so I can only express my own opinion.

When I see young people wearing special clothes or make-up, I understand that it is their natural desire to look special, which may be typical of their age. When they get a bit older this must disappear, since they will have different and more important problems. But when a 40-year-old man or woman looks the same, it seems frightening in a way.

I have never had a desire to pierce my nose or ears, to be dressed in black or to dye my hair green or orange. I have always thought like this: if you really wish to be special and to differ from the rest, do something special, involve your abilities and ideas, create something, think of something, that people will need and appreciate. But… putting on a dark coat or heavy metal chains is not a way to express yourself.

To tell the truth I have never had any contact with the representatives of subcultures. I have just seen some people, maybe Goths, punks or something else. I have never been interested in them and they have never been interested in me. If we try to give it a second thought, something may be really interesting. Let’s assume that there is some romance in riding a motorbike along a highway in the dead of the night, looking at the stars in the firmament, feeling the wind blowing across the face. It is really nice. But what prevents you from doing it alone, not in a team? Is it necessary to be one of the pack, wearing leather outfit and drinking beer? I am sure one can do it on his own.

When I had an account in a social network I often came across people posting dark images there. Why on earth are they doing it? So I am perfectly sure that belonging to a subculture is nothing more than a way to attract people’s attention, when nothing else can do it. It is a game to play when somebody isn’t mature enough to understand its silliness.

And finally to tell the truth I don’t understand those parents who let their children look like scary dummies, because any human being has an image from birth which shouldn’t be spoilt.

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Leisure

What does the word ‘leisure’ mean for you personally? There may be two answers. The first one is that leisure is equal to rest. And on the other hand leisure is a period of time when you can do something that you like and it is useful for you.

More and more people choose to surf the Internet or play computer games at leisure. I don’t think it’s worth spending life on. I used to play computer games, too, but it was a few years ago and I cannot say that I had any kind of addiction. I simply quitted it once and that is all. Sitting in front of a TV-set or a computer isn’t good either. The world is much bigger and much more interesting.

Everything is constantly changing. If we speak about schoolchildren, fifteen or twenty years ago they had an opportunity to attend different clubs according to their interests. Of course there are still some clubs and schools like musical and art ones, but they are not so numerous as they used to be. Moreover, modern technologies are much more attractive for children than something else in reality. So we may draw a conclusion that these technologies haven’t brought anything worthy into our life.

When I was at school I attended a plane-modelling club. I did it only for a year and a half, because then it closed down, as the teacher there was an aged man and he simply retired. It was really a pity.

Playing sports is a good thing, but developing the brain and not only muscles is really important. I have attended a swimming-pool for two years, but now I have less time and think of doing something else.

I think it would be perfect if I turned something that I can do in my free time into my future profession. I have an acquaintance who became a photographer a few years ago, though she has a diploma of a lawyer.

Another big problem nowadays is that some people don’t find time for leisure at all. They run to an extreme either sleeping in their free time, when they get home after work or studies or working so much that they don’t have an opportunity to take a breath.

I personally believe that it is really important to find time for leisure no matter how much you work or study and do what you really like to do.

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Generation Gap

Generation gap has always been a problem since the moment the humankind appeared. Of course, it may not be equally important in all the families of the world, but very often the question of difference in views and tastes arises. It is quite possible that you have experienced it by yourself.

What does the generation gap depend on? Have you ever thought about it? I believe that the faster our life is, the more substantial the difference is. As for me I have never had any conflicts with my parents or grandparents because of this. When something goes wrong it is better not to contradict, because it will lead to a row. Besides I cannot be sure that when I have children I will have the same views with them. The best way to avoid the problem of generation gap in the family is to understand why who is older than you thinks this way and you think that way.

It is mostly connected with the fact that young people want to seem grown-ups and behave correspondingly. But they do not understand that their family wishes them only good. On the other hand senior people often do not understand that they sound too instructive and didactic when speaking to the younger generation. They usually begin the phrases with the words ‘When I was of you age…’ Really life at that time was different from what we have now. So if both parts achieve a consensus as soon as possible, it will be nice.

Besides, it is possible that when you grow up you will understand that some years before, when you had an argument with someone of your family, you were not so right as it seemed. In my opinion any kind of argument is just a waste of time, which is the root of the ‘generation gap’ problem.

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Choosing Presents

How often do you have to choose presents for your family and friends? I am sure that it really is a great problem. The consumer society has imposed the idea, that people need more and more goods. It is just an illusion. The less things one has the happier his life is. I didn’t say this, it is Indian wisdom. Of course, there are exceptions. For example there can’t be too many books. Or if someone collects some things, he will be happy to get another item for the collection.

What is the best present? Of course it is something that you buy and it costs much and needs constant renewal: a cellphone, a laptop or what not. People get easily hooked on such things and can’t imagine their life without them. So people think that they control things, but in reality things take control over people. Thing distract us from real life. That’s the purpose of modern world.

I am happy to have a lot of friends who think a book is the best present. The books may be different, I mean some of my friends are keen on History and they are always happy to get something new, others are fond of art and they collect albums with reproductions. When the electronic era began, it was really interesting to give a player or a mobile phone as a present, but then I started to feel distaste for it and began to search for something real. A book never loses its value. The same may be said about a picture. The rest is transient and is soon forgotten.

I know some people who are able to create presents themselves. I think it is the best way to make somebody else happy.

When choosing a present I don’t usually look at the price. Of course it’s not worth while buying very expensive presents as it makes the people feel obliged and they think they will have to buy a present at the same price or even a more expensive one for you.

Summing up, I can say that choosing a present is really a challenge, especially right before some family holidays, like Christmas or New Year when you have to buy a present for everyone. You have to remember what they all already have and guess what they really need. It is not pleasant at all when you give one a present and it remains unused (sometimes even unpacked) for a long time. Sometimes I think it is quite reasonable to ask the person you want to give presents to, what he or she really needs. Then you will not face any problems and this person will be happy, too.

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Science. Where will it lead?

When I was a little kid, I dreamt of becoming a scientist. This very word sounded like magic for me. I was sure that these people are ahead of time, I took them as ‘wizards’ in the positive meaning. In Russian this word means ‘educated’. And I wanted to be educated, too.

I began to suspect that there was something wrong about science when I got older. No, I don’t mean all the scientific fields at once. Some of them are really necessary. First of all people who study nature and find ways to help it. The scientists who work as mechanical engineers are of great importance, too. And many others. But let’s take a closer look at what is going on right here and right now all around us.

Is it natural, that the ice caps of the poles are melting? They calm us down and say it is quite okay. Let it be so. But why don’t we see the snow in winter, why does it rain on New Year’s Eve? Why don’t we change the terms of the four seasons? There are so many ‘why-s’, that no one can give answers to them.

Let’s go on. Why does the level of water go down in wells all around the country? Not only in wells, but in the Baikal as well. Who is responsible for it? Why do so many people suffer from multiple diseases? Let’s say thank you to Chemistry and its adherents, who invent new substances and new ways to kill the humankind. Of course, it’s our choice whether to consume junk food or not, but still many people don’t give it a second thought. The majority is sure that the words ‘science’ and ‘progress’ are synonyms to happiness and welfare. How have the scientists managed to convince the population of the Earth that we really need progress?

When there is no fresh air to breathe in, it will be too late. No one will be able to restore oxygen and fresh water supplies in a blink. Let us thank science for the cars that burn up oil, which has been inside our planet for billions of years and has only been waiting for the moment when the combustion engine was invented. Let us say ‘thank you’ for the plastic that is all around. Nuclear power stations are also what we could never live without.

But why?.. Why did it all appear only within a hundred years? The humankind had somehow existed for thousands of years before the breakthrough of the XX century.

We should not lay blame on scientists only. When everyone or at least the majority comes to understand that it is better to stop using personal vehicles, buy new appliances every month, plant more and more trees, life will change. And if… not? Let’s ask scientists…

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Books. Reading

There are so many proverbs and sayings about book and reading, but the one I have found recently seems to be the best. ‘Those who read, will always control those who watch TV’. It is quite modern and it can’t be called a quotation, as there is no definite person to quote. Really how many people read and how many watch TV?

We can be proud of the fact that we still live in the most ‘reading’ country of the world, though I know a few people who declare that they have read just one book in addition to what they read at school. Nothing makes them read and they don’t feel any necessity to do it.

I have never taken books just as bound sheets of paper, as printed material. A book for me is a way to speak to people who have passed away but who continue to live in this special form which we call ‘printed word’. Scripture is the greatest invention in the history of humankind.

Today books are read even more widely on electronic devices – e-books and tablets, but I still like to have paper ones. I remember the days when I used to go to the library. And even at that time I realized that the best indicator which helped me find the one to read was the state of the book. If it was untouched – it was either new or unpopular. So I always chose the shabbiest ones and never regretted it.

I have never counted the books in home collection, but I always try to add new items to it, just like my parents and grandparents. To tell the truth I don’t attach much value to the decorative design of the book. It may look very simple but have a great meaning for me. I mean there is no difference between a paperback and a hardback copy. But I pay attention to the binding, so that the book wouldn’t fall apart at once.

I can say that reading has always  been one of my hobbies and I began reading at the age of four. When I turned five I could read short stories on my own, and at the age of six I read ‘The Headless Horseman’.

My reading taste has changed several times during my lifetime. When I was small I liked fantasy, then I turned to adventure stories. Now I like historical books and memoirs more than novels. My favourite writers are Tostoy, Turgenev, Chekhov. The notion of ‘favourite writer’ implies that I have read several works, not only one book. Russian literature seems to be deeper with its scale of thought and feeling than European literature. It is my humble opinion. I connect it with more powerful expressive means of the Russian language.

I started listening to audiobooks not long ago. And you know, it is quite a good thing. But the impression depends greatly on the person who reads, on his or her voice and on the speed of reading.

I like reading so much that I dream of writing some novel in the future, when I have enough life experience that can be put into a book and condensed within it. I have tried to write a few short stories so far and my friends say they are better than ‘okay’ for a commencing writer.

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Cycling as a Way to Keep Fit

Have you ever had a bicycle? I am sure that 90 per cent of children have ever ridden a bike. But as they grow older they just leave it behind and forget about this amazing vehicle for the rest of their life. Why does it happen so? Most of the population is concentrated in cities where there is no place for cycling. So teenagers simply don’t have an opportunity to spin the pedals even if they want to. It is better to sit in a concrete cage with a tablet or a laptop.

It is a pity, that bikes are not so popular in Russia as they are abroad. They really help people keep fit and save their time. ‘Serious’ people drive, don’t they? That’s why we have so many cars and so few bikes in the cities.

I am not an exception. Our climate makes it impossible to cycle all year round, but in summer I do it nearly every day. I remember my first bike with its chain constantly coming off the rear cogwheel. I tried to grease it and to strain it, but nothing helped. Now I believe it was a design feature of that bike.

Modern bikes are much more comfortable and suitable for long distances. There is no need to maintain it during the whole season. My biking season starts when the snow melts and it gets warmer than 10 degrees. I check its technical state, change some spare parts and I am ready for a ride. The first distances are not very long, something around fifteen or twenty kilometres. They gradually increase and by the end of summer I normally ride 70 to 110 kilometres a day.

Spinning the pedals around may be a bit boring when you do it for several hours running, so I usually take a multimedia player with me and listen to the music or audiobooks.

Exploring new places is most interesting for me. Even when I take a ride on the same route, I notice the changes that take place in nature. And when I get to some new places which a car can’t reach, it’s simply exciting. I like to follow forest paths or cross the bottomless fields. And I always take photos of these remote nooks. The farther I get from the stuffy city, the better I feel. What will you feel, when you see a hare or a fox coming out of the dense forest and peering at you?

Quite often I go fishing by bike, too. The fishing tackles weigh around fifteen kilos, so it is a good way to train the muscles when I ride to the lake or to the river, which is 15 kilometres far from my country house. Sometimes I go even farther.

The peculiarity of cycling as a kind of sport is that it trains all the groups of muscles. It is especially good for your lungs and heart. So I can recommend riding a bike to everyone as the best option when you choose what to take up in summer. I have been cycling for more than five years and I am going to set new personal records and cover longer distances in the future.

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New Year in Russia

New Year is one of the most favourite holidays in Russia. First of all it is a family holiday, which means that people have an opportunity to gather and exchange the news, to speak about the latest events, to share their joy with the relatives. New Year is a time for giving and getting presents.

All the attributes of New Year are actually Christmas ones, as it was forbidden to celebrate the holiday in the Soviet Union. So New Year has acquired greater importance in Russia than Christmas, while it is just the other way round in the whole world.

I don’t think there are any people in our country who are absolutely indifferent to New Year. Of course, some may put on masks and say they don’t see any difference between the first of January and the first of March, but there is really something special about New Year. People connect this holiday with the beginning of new life, with hopes and changes for the best in the future. Everyone believes and wishes others good luck, happiness and joy in the coming year. Maybe this optimistic approach helps our people overcome difficulties in their life.

Most of little kids write letters to Grandfather Frost and ask him not only for presents but for more important things, such as health for the family. They start getting prepared for the holiday at the beginning of December, and sometimes it is really surprising to see a Christmas tree set up long before the 1st of January.

One really begins to feel the festive atmosphere in the middle of December, when all the shops and the streets are filled with symbols of New Year: you can find any toys, tinsel and Christmas tree lights. The souvenirs are usually connected with the symbol of the coming year according to the Chinese calendar. As for me, I don’t take it seriously and even don’t like it.

I have never been able to understand why people seem to get insatiable at the very end of December: all the supermarkets, especially food stores are crowded. People buy so much food just for a few days as if it were their last ones. The motto seems to be like this: ‘Eat or die!’ It may seem funny, but it is really dangerous for health. Excessive consumption of alcohol and food leads to grave consequences. I (and none of my family) never eat too much on this day.

Choosing presents today is a hard task, because everyone seems to have everything he needs. It was much simpler to choose something ten years ago than now. People are hooked on electronics and household appliances, and when you come into the supermarket, you understand that there is a wide choice of it, but there is nothing to buy. I like to give unusual presents, but it really takes a lot of time to find something worthy today.

And the last thing. I never watch TV at New Year. It is so stupid to see the same faces, which try to produce some obviously false impression on the viewers. And what about you?

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My Winter Holidays

Do you like winter? I don’t like it very much. The only thing I like about winter is New Year and the long holidays I have in January. We never go abroad or somewhere else because we always spend New Year with the family and friends.

I have always waited for the last day at school and at the University. Usually it’s the 29th or 30th of December. And then I feel free, it seems that these 10 or 12 days will be endless and I will have an opportunity to do what I want.

The first thing I dream of is to sleep a bit longer than usual. But this is really important only on the 1st and 2nd of January. I can’t live happily, though, as I always remember that the exams will come soon and I have to cram for them. The first days of winter holidays are not very effective in this regard – I make great plans, but the outcome is mean.

There is not much to do outdoors in winter, so I mostly stay home, visit my relatives and friends, read books and magazines or simply surf the Internet, but this kind of activity seems to be the most useless and I try to cut down on the time I spend at the computer. Long winter evenings are good for watching films. I like to watch films in English and write down new words to learn them later.

As for outdoor activities quite a lot of my friends are keen on skating, they always invite me to join them and go to the skating rink, but I have never tried it, so I refuse. I am fond of skiing, but I did it four or five years ago last time. Maybe I will buy new skis next year.

If it is not too cold, I take short walks in the morning or in the evening. I have my camera with me and take interesting winter photos of nature. I like to edit them later and publish on the Internet.

On the last day of the holidays I am surprised how they have flown by. To tell the truth, I would somehow cut off a month from summer holidays and add it to winter holidays. Or at least two or three weeks. I don’t think it is fair, that there is too much rest in summer, while students need some more time in winter.

After all, winter holidays are a great time, as we really feel refreshed after a long period of studies, and I think life would be much harder if there weren’t any break at school and at the University in winter.

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My Summer Holidays

Summer holidays are a special period of time that all the pupils and students wait for. It is vitally important to take a breath after nine months of hard work. I am personally always exhausted by the end of April, and the last month is the time of great expectations and plans for the summer.

When I was a schoolboy I had three months of free time, which was not actually free as I tried to make good use of it. My summer holidays have never been vain yet. In primary school my parents always made me do the sums, learn something new by heart for the next school year or simply read. No, they didn’t make me read. I did it on my own with great pleasure. Something changed in the seventh form. I remember that summer when I first took a couple of textbooks of German and discovered a new world. The world of foreign languages. I had been learning English for two years by that time and that was interesting. But when I took up German I got an opportunity to compare and think differently. Since that time I have become a great fan of linguistics.

My favourite pastime activity in summer is cycling. I have had four bikes in my life, and the one I have now is the best. When riding a bike, I always have an mp3-player in my pocket to listen to audiobooks. So I kill two birds with one stone this way and save my time. I like to explore new places using my bicycle.

When I entered the University, my summer holidays changed a little – we usually have classes till the 10th or 15th of June and then take our exams. So now we have only two months of free time. I think it is even better, because when I was at school, I wanted to get back to studies at the beginning of August. Three months were too much for me.

On my holidays I usually stay in the country, because it’s too hot and stuffy in the city. Besides I have more ways to spend my time. Fishing is one of my hobbies, so I usually go to the lake or to the river three or four times a week. Maybe it sounds surprising, but I am really fond of gardening and doing some agricultural work. I think it’s a good way to help my parents and grandparents now.

What I like most of all about the holidays is an opportunity not to get up early. In summer I never hurry and do what I want and when I want. But it doesn’t mean that I get lazy: sometimes I do so many things during the day that I really feel tired in the evening before going to sleep.

So summer is a good time for having a rest and doing something useful. It’s time for hobbies and for self-development, too. I am already waiting for the summer to come. And what about you?

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The Person I Admire

Everyone has people he admires. Though the admiration itself may be different in its nature. One can take some person as an idol. One of the Commandments says: ‘Thou shalt not make thee any graven image’. I don’t have any idols, but I have several people I really respect and admire. I don’t understand those who make idols out of pop-stars, actors etc. There are a lot of people of worth around us in real life. People we know.  Now I will tell you about one of them.

I don’t know what I will be like when I turn 75. Hopefully I will be half as active as I am now. Maybe a bit more. I am not able to understand at present how difficult it is to go upstairs to reach the fourth floor at the University. I suppose it is a hard task to stand by the blackboard for one and a half hours and deliver three lectures running. I am sure it is. It is still more difficult to put all your energy into the lectures, get the students interested in the subject. I am going to tell you about my History teacher at the University.

When we first saw him and he introduced himself, we didn’t know what to expect of this man. But when the classes started I began to understand that he was going to influence my personality. When I was at school, I did not like History. It’s better to say that I liked History as a scientific field, but I was not interested in the school subject. Learning History at school is just reading new material at home and retelling it in class afterwards. At the end of school there were no interconnections among dates, historic personalities and proper names. Just tons of facts, hovering somewhere in my memory.

At the third or fourth lecture at the University I regretted I hadn’t chosen the Faculty of History. Really. It turned out that Alexey Nikiforovich possesses so many qualities, that made us understand that we really needed History and got prepared for the practical classes every time we had them.

There was a lot of humour in his lectures. He always drew maps and schemes on the blackboard and we copied them into our notebooks.

The best time for me personally were practical classes. He slowly came into the room, took a seat and I didn’t notice how the time passed. An hour and a half were like one minute.

A bit later I got to know that he had suffered a stroke a few years before. And I understood that this man is really strong, both physically and mentally. It was really a miracle that he had managed to recover fully after it.

I know that I will be thankful to him for everything that he has done for us all and for me personally. When I graduate from the University I will do my best to make a good specialist and be as responsible and useful at my work as my History teacher. I am happy that there has been such an example in my life.

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Birthday Celebration

 

Have you ever thought what your birthday symbolizes? It is not just a day to hang out with the friends or relax. It is not just a day to get presents. It is a day to ask yourself one of the most important questions: ‘Who am I and what am I doing here?’ By ‘here’ I mean the world we live in.

Most little children wait for their birthday even more than for New Year. They are eager to get presents from the family and friends; they want to blow out the candles on the holiday cake. They can’t wait to enjoy the festive atmosphere and, of course, the festive board.

The same can be said about teenagers. They expect to be given more serious presents, like some brand-new gadgets.

People of middle age, especially women, usually don’t like to count the years they have lived, so they don’t wait for this day. Older people proudly declare that they have reached some age, like 80 or 90 years, emphasizing their luck and experience. They take their age as philosophers.

When I think of it, it’s always more and more interesting to know what I will be like in ten, twenty or thirty years’ time. And at the same time I try to remember what I was like last year or a few years ago. On my birthday I always try to put forward some goals for the coming year and analyse, which previous tasks I have managed to fulfil.

As for the presents, to tell the truth I like to give presents more than to get them. So I don’t feel comfortable when I am in the centre of attention on this day.

I never arrange big parties, and when we gather with my relatives, it’s just a good opportunity to spend time together. Sometimes I invite my friends to my place, but usually we go to a café to have a chance to discuss the latest news and events.

But still my birthday is one of my favourite holidays after New Year and Christmas. I remember nearly all my birthdays starting with the age of six. The most memorable one, though, was when I turned eleven. I got my dog as a present. At eight-thirty I was still sleeping as it was Saturday, and a puppy ran into my room barking and squeaking loudly. I hadn’t even asked my parents for a pet, but they had guessed what I really wanted that year. I got a new bike from my grandparents too. And quite a lot of other things from my friends.

 

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Food and Cooking

‘A man lives to eat and eats to live’ – these are the words of a saying. How many times have you asked yourself if food is really important for you? And what is more substantial – the quality or the quantity? As for me, I am not a gourmet. I believe that simple food will keep one fit and healthy, so I never think of complicated dishes, and I am not interested in different cuisines.

I have a friend who is keen on cooking. She is always in search of new recipes, ingredients and other stuff. I have never understood her. Isn’t it a waste of time? If we remember that life is quite limited in time, we’ll find more reasonable ways to spend time. All kinds of pleasures are temporary, they don’t last, they don’t survive through centuries. You cook something and eat it at once. Of course there is something aesthetic in a ready dish. It may even be a masterpiece. But still… I am not ready to spend my life on it.

Today humankind consumes much more than our ancestors, and food isn’t an exception. The more food people consume, the worse is its quality. That’s what we see now in the supermarkets. One can find everything to his liking. Let’s assume you want to have an orange twelve-legged Caribbean moustache crab or what not. Just search for it on the Internet and you are sure to find an offer. It means that the supply exceeds demand. While in some regions of the world people die of starvation, the supermarket shelves of the countries with highly-developed consumer society are about to crash down under the weight of goods. Is it fair? Is it necessary? Besides, it means, that a lot of food is thrown out after the expiry date.

To make the things still worse, maybe 5 percent of it is safe to eat. The rest is a breakthrough of modern Chemistry. So why do people kill themselves? Is it really impossible to live without chips, coke, snacks, alcohol?.. There are so many shows on TV to discuss the problem of obesity. There is no problem at all. There is just uncontrolled consumption of junk food.

Have you ever noticed that a full stomach prevents you from doing any kind of work? Being replete one  is ready to sleep or relax. I have never been able to understand why people cook and eat so much when they celebrate a holiday. They eat so greedily as if it were the last day of their life.

Maybe one of the secrets of happiness and healthy life is simple: many people known as centenarians (beyond the age of 100 years) just advise us to get up from the table a little bit hungry and never to overeat.

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My Pet

I remember the days when I was a little kid and dreamt of a pet. Just like other children. I dreamt of a dog, a puppy that would be my friend. I imagined how I would take it out for a walk, how we would play together, how it would bark at me when I came home from school.

And I finally got it as a present for my birthday. I was happy only for a week or so: I quickly realised that it was not that easy to get up twenty minutes earlier to walk the pet. The little creature (Buddy he was called) got up around half past five and began to scratch the floor, squeak and even bite me slightly at my heels. So he got really naughty and started getting on my feeble nerves.

I finally lost any compassion for the dog when in the darkness I stepped a few times into the puddles he had deliberately made right at my door. No, I didn’t punish him. I didn’t do him any harm. Fortunately this happened just a few times. Day by day growing up he got more and more quiet. I suppose these changes in the dog’s behaviour were connected with the changes in his body. He got more sturdy and even a bit obese, which resulted in his aptitude for a more sluggish way of life. Thus we both were quite happy.

I thought that I had lost any interest in the pet and  was nearly  indifferent to him when one day Mom said Buddy had disappeared. She left him by the entrance door of the shop and probably didn’t attach the lead firmly enough to the pole. The knot loosened and our dog made his escape chasing a cat or something else. I remember how I sat down to table fully devastated by the news. I felt that at that very moment I really missed him. I needed him as I had never needed before. I realised that Buddy was my pet and not just a piece of furniture in the house. I realised that he was a living creature…

A few days later we received a call from an elderly woman living in the opposite part of the city. She said that the dog itself had come up to her looking at her with its clever eyes asking for food. Buddy had never been aggressive, so he didn’t frighten the woman. When she gave him a piece of bread, he submissively followed her right to the front door. She understood Buddy was not a mere stray dog: he had a collar on. She found the phone number on it and gave us a call.

I was really happy to get Buddy back. You know something really changed in my attitude to him. I came to understand that he is my friend. Really he is my friend. He is sitting by me now, wagging its tail and asking for his favourite canine crunchies. He is an old person now. And sometimes I dream that he will bite me at my heels and wake me up at six again…

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My Future Career

When young people start to think about their career, they imagine a very pleasant picture of the future. But as they get older they face real life and its objective difficulties. Having graduated from the University a young specialist doesn’t have many ways out. The simplest one today is to become a manager in an office and begin doing some kind of paperwork.

I am afraid of sitting in a stuffy (and in an air-conditioned as well) office, controlling hole-punchers, staplers, copiers and answering phone calls. I believe that I will never be able to impose unnecessary things on people, compose endless e-mails and so on. Of course, life would be more difficult without managers, but still I don’t want to be one.

I am leaving school in May and I haven’t chosen my University yet. I think the best option for me will be the Faculty of Art. I have been painting and drawing for all my life and I can’t imagine it without art. Art is the best way to express yourself, to convey your feelings and emotions to people.

We have only one life and in my opinion we should spend it reasonably. I am sure that when I get old I’ll ask myself one of the most important questions: ‘What have I achieved?’. Any human being is born to fulfil some tasks, which nobody else, but he himself can define.

The sooner I define my tasks the happier I will be in the future.

When I am absorbed in the creative process, I forget about the problems and everything around. Maybe this is what people usually call ‘inspiration’. I feel that there is some connection between me and the world around, even the Universe in its global understanding. And I just pick up some ideas from the ocean of noosphere and implement them on paper or canvas using the tools at hand.

I am sure that any career should make the person who has chosen it happy. Otherwise work will be a torture and nothing else. I don’t want to count the hours left till the end of the working day. I want my work to make me happy, and I want to make people around happy at work.

If now I tell somebody about my dream, he or she will probably say that I am eager to be famous. No way, fame is a great burden. There is a vitally important difference between the desire to be famous and the desire not to be forgotten. I don’t mean the people of art exclusively. If an architect creates a bridge that will stand for a few centuries and serve people, they will remember his name and will be thankful for this thing. If a composer’s pieces of music are listened to in two hundred years, it’s great. If some of the artist’s pictures survive through the centuries, he himself will live with his works in human hearts. This is important.

Now I am going to start preparation for the entrance exams. I hope that my dream will come true soon and I will be able to share the joy of art with people around.

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School

 

School is a place where we spend a lot of time. Maybe even too much. For some people school is a way to entertain themselves, spending nine or eleven years with friends. It may also be considered punishment from above. Other students like school, because it’s an inexhaustible source of knowledge.

Anyway it is inevitable and one has to get accustomed to it somehow.

I belong to the less numerous group of people who like school. Of course, I don’t mean the building or the class as a group of students because we are all different. I like the thought that day by day changes in my consciousness take place. I am sure that tomorrow I will be cleverer than today. In a year or two I will be able to think differently, I will have my own opinion on various aspects of life.

School would be more effective if we were in smaller groups: twenty-four students within one class are too much. I would prefer a maximum of ten people. I am not afraid to answer at the lessons and get marks for it. Moreover it would be possible to spend less time at school.

I believe that more attention should be paid to our practical skills. We have a lot of theory but we cannot apply our knowledge in everyday life. If pupils saw any connection between life and science any subject would be really interesting for them.

My favourite subjects now are English, Geometry and Chemistry. I didn’t like Maths at all only two years ago, but now I see, that it’s one of the best ways to develop the brain. Chemistry is difficult and we don’t carry out many experiments at the lessons, but I like the way the teacher explains the material to us. We often watch films and make presentations, which makes the educational progress interesting.

English is the best subject of all the others. I understand that it will help me greatly in the future. I will be able to get more information from all over the world, no matter what professional field I choose. It is extremely important nowadays. People from different countries share their knowledge and ideas using the Internet, publishing videos and articles. I don’t take English just as a set of grammar rules and words. I take it as a living system and try to absorb as much of it as I can.

I am happy to be acquainted with all our teachers. They are nice people. Seriously. I often think that if some of them were different I might have problems. But I don’t.

And the last point. Five days a week at school would be enough. I don’t understand why the sixth day was introduced at all. And I am perfectly sure that teachers aren’t happy to work on Saturday either.

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My Daily Routine

 

Let’s not begin the story with the usual words ‘I get up at seven o’clock’. Ok? I’d rather say that my day begins right after the clock strikes twelve at midnight. So I go to sleep at around half past twelve or a little bit later (let’s say not later than 2 o’clock), then wake up and then do all the other things in their usual order.
Really I mostly get up at six-thirty a.m. on weekdays, when I have to go to the University or at eight-thirty at the weekend. I don’t like to sleep long even when I have enough time for it. Time spent on sleeping equals to mere waste of time for me.
I don’t like to be in a hurry, so I never sleep till the last moment, when it’s still possible not to be late for classes. I usually enjoy a cup of tea or coffee in the morning, thinking about something or mak-ing plans for the day. Sometimes I have to revise something for the University. I am a ‘lark’, not an ‘owl’, so I feel that my brain functions much better in the morning than in the evening (to say nothing of the evening or night hours).
I am keen on walking in any weather. So usually I go the University on foot, which takes me around forty-five minutes. The first period begins at 8.30 and finishes at 10. We usually have three or four periods a day, so I come home either at a quarter past two or at four o’clock. When it rains heavily, I take a bus.
We have short breaks at the university, though there is a long one, which lasts fifteen minutes, so the students can go to the canteen and have something for lunch. Sometimes I join my friends and go there; sometimes I don’t, when I am not really hungry.
I don’t like to get down to work at once, when I am finally at home. I can go for a walk, read or meet my friends or do something else. Watching a film is a good way to spend free time.
When my mind is free, I begin my preparation for the next day. The work goes faster and more effectively than right after classes. I usually don’t spend more than four hours on my tasks (of course, in case I don’t have to cram for the exams).
In the evening I have supper and take a shower.
I can’t fall asleep before midnight, so I have a little time for my hobbies, which include chess and programming. They both make me go to sleep late.
So this is my usual routine. It may be different on holidays, of course. The only thing I would change about it is the number of hours in a day – thirty-five would be quite okay.

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The ways to earn money for a teenager (8 класс)

Teenagers usually begin to think of possible ways to earn money when they are 13 or 14 years old. They want to become more independent of their parents.
I think teenagers abroad have more opportunities to earn pocket money. They can deliver newspapers or pizza, work at a cafe or do something else. Our employers aren’t eager to deal with teenagers under 14 or even 16. But still…I think that we have a few options to choose from:
— I know it is quite possible to get a job at a car-wash. It is simple but it requires endurance and patience. I suppose it would be suitable for me.
— I have a friend who worked in an ice-cream stall and sold ice-cream during the summer holidays. There is one ‘but’: I would have a temptation to eat a lot of ice-cream.
— I do not think that babysitting is a good idea for me. I have never worked with children and I do not know any approach to them.
— Taking care of neighbours’ pets is a nice job. But I do not know how to get it. Should I come up to them to ask the same question: ‘Do you need anyone to keep an eye on your pet?’ Of course, it is a good job, if their pets are not alligators, pitbulls or piranhas.
— Most of teenagers in Russia hand out (dispense) cards or leaflets in the streets. But they are really underpaid, as far as I know. But still I think it is not the worst variant for me.
— Today anyone has an opportunity to apply their own knowledge and skills being a freelancer. You just need Internet access and some people really succeed in this kind of activity. You get orders from people who are interested in this or that kkind of specialists. You may be a graphic designer, a translator, a person who can help in Maths or Chemistry or any other subject.
Be ready to have a lot of contestants who are ready to fulfil the same task more quickly and at a lower price. Besides, you should have a portfolio and positive feedback. This option really gives you independence.
— I have been palying music for six years. I am almost a professional musician. And now I am thinking about earning money this way.
So in England they say: ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’. I fully agree with it.

The UK (7 класс)

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is an island satet in Western Europe, separated by the Strait of Dover and the English Channel from the continent.

The UK consists of four parts: England (with its capital — London), Scotland (Edinburgh), Wales (Cardiff) and Northern Ireland (Belfast). Nearly 64 million people live in the UK.

The national flag of the UK is called ‘The Union Jack’. Each part of the UK has its own symbol: red rose, daffodil, clover and thistle.

The Queen (Elizabeth II) is the official Head of the state.

The UK has long and great history. Between the 17th and the 20th century Britain was an important world power and a colonial and marine empire.

The UK is a developed country with the fifth largest economy in the world. The UK has given the world a lot of outstanding people, such as Shakespeare, Churchill and others.

My hobbies (7 класс)

I can’t imagine my liofe without my hobbies. Having a hobby is an important thing, because it lets you relax, you get to know something new and finally you are in piece with yourself and the whole world, and it seems more and more important in our constantly changing world.

As for my hobbies I would like to put music in the first place. I have been playing music since my early childhood. I started playing the drums when I was 7. At present I play the guitar and the xylophone. Music takes a considerable part of my life in general and of my free time in particular. And I really like it.

My second hobby is cross-country racing. I’ve been doing it for more than a year. Everything seemed unusual and complicated when I first came there last September. Now I have quite a lot of friends among the young racers. I hope to develop my skills and agility.

Outdoor activities are among my hobbies, too.

I’m keen on cycling (and I have a very good bike indeed), swimming and going to the gym. I have been attending it since childhood.

I think it’s necessary to combine different activities to be a well-developed person.

Christmas in Italy

Christmas is an important religious holiday in Italy. Though, today only 20% of the population are believers. So it is not only a religious holiday but also a public holiday.

The Christmas season lasts for 3 weeks in Italy (december, 17th — January, 6th). Italian Christmas traditions have much in common with other European countries, but there are some special features. For example, instead of writing letters to Santa Claus, Italian children write letters to tell their parents how mmuch they love them. Nowadays especially in Northern Italy many families decorate evergreen trees.

Here are some typical Italian things:

ceppo — ‘a tree of light’ — decorated with fruit, candies, small presents and candles;

urn of fate — a big bowl, where everyone finds his present;

zamognari and pifferai — bagpipers and flute players, entertaining people;

la Befana — a kind old witch, who brings children toys on January, 6th.

 

On christmas Eve it’s common to give up eating meat and dairy products. When people return from church they have a piece of Italian Christmas Cake, called ‘panettone’, which is like a dry fruit sponge cake and drink hot chocolate.

The Italian like to have fish dishes at Christmas. It’s known as ‘the feast of seven fishes’.

If you are in Italy at Christmas, don’t forget to say ‘Buon Natale’ to everyone!

Why do we learn English? Почему мы учим английский? (7-9 класс)

Why do we learn English? I think many people ask the same question. The English language comes from Great Britain, where 85 million people are its native speakers. The English language has a long history. Its wonderful success is closely connected with the time wehn Britain became a marine empire and had the most powerful navy in the world. A lot of colonies appeared at that time. That’s why 750 million people use English today and half of those speak it as their mother tongue.

It has become the language of the planet with its reachest vocabulary of 500 000 words. English is the main language of science, business and of sports. English is unique thanks to its ability to borrow words easily from other languages.

Thses are reasons why we learn English. English has a complicated system of tense forms and its pronuniciation and writing has French roots. That’s why some people, especially junior students have difficulties with it. To know English is one of the requirements of the present day.

Темы по английскому языку: Strickland as an artist and as a man. Can a genius and a decent man coexist?

 

It happens so often in this life, that a real talent is discovered to the world only after the death of its physical incarnation. Charles Strickland was no exception. His indigenous manner could have easily made him a successful person, but the Fate chose another way for him.

Is it possible to become a real artist at the age of 30 or 40 years – why not? Strickland is a good example, and if we study the history of world art more carefully, I’m sure we can find some other examples.

If an artist paints woods blue or the sky red, it doesn’t mean that he is insane – probably it’s true in some way, but one should just admit the artist’s right to draw things the way he wants it and sees the outer world. At that time conventional views on art were dominating, that’s why any novelty was not welcomed, and Strickland tried to embody what he had in his soul. Of course it depends on the man – whether he likes such a kind of painting, but we should accept the common viewpoint, that Strickland was a genius. Читать далее Темы по английскому языку: Strickland as an artist and as a man. Can a genius and a decent man coexist?

Темы по английскому языку: Explanation of the title and the main idea of the book by S. Maugham “The Painted Veil”

The epigraph, chosen by S. Maugham himself can practically account for the title of the book. But really, what does “The Painted Veil” mean?

There can be probably several answers to this question, but in my opinion, that painted veil is the lives of the main characters – they are also multicoloured, full of events, mistakes and so on. But it’s the most general meaning, actually another explanation can be found.

Kitty, the most interesting character of the book, was rather a shallow person at the beginning of the whole story, she was a filistine without proper education. The relations within the family were also artificial, and that atmosphere formed Kitty’s character practically in her childhood. That insincerity had great influence on her nature and so finally at the age of 20 she was what she was. And it was naturally not her fault. Читать далее Темы по английскому языку: Explanation of the title and the main idea of the book by S. Maugham “The Painted Veil”

Topics in English — The Moneymaker ин John J. McNamara

Topic 1. The character sketch of John Law

John Law.. When we pronounce this name now, we don’t have any special associations. Over the years he was unfairly forgotten. Of course, he was rather a contradictory person: on the one hand he was a real genius, a gifted person, and a born-financier. But on the other hand he applied his abilities only for his own profit. Of course, the introduction of the system, based on paper money in France was a novelty, as nobody in Europe could imagine ordinary paper as sort of money after traditionally used gold and silver coins.

This way Law really surpassed the thought of his time. He could foresee practically our present day life, with credit cards, paper notes, shares and all things like that.

Law was an impulsive person. He wanted to reach something sooner, than it was possible, so this way his actions and laws, introduced by him in those days were mostly ill-timed. But no one can deny the fact, that he was really persistent while carrying out his experiments. He never gave in, he never retreated, he never was in despair. Of course, it seems rather strange, but he was absolutely sure of his success. This very fact was fatal in a way for him.

Читать далее Topics in English — The Moneymaker ин John J. McNamara

Topics in English: Health (Темы по английскому: Здоровье)

 

They say: “Health is wealth”. No doubt, anyone will agree with this statement. We should think about our health since childhood and pay attention even to trifles, when something goes wrong.

Medicine has made great progress over the time of its history, starting with the scientists of Ancient Greece, but still the only thing we can rely on is our way of life. If you don’t smoke or drink alcohol or do some other harmful things, like taking drugs, you have a good chance to live a long and happy life. But it’s not the only condition.

Food industry is slowly killing people. The majority of products is synthetic, and you don’t pay much attention to what you consume. Nice wrapping contains dangerous substances, aimed at the destruction of our health. Synthetic food is cheap, it’s easy to produce. Marketing ideas work for food industry. Food, containing taste intensifiers, preservatives and stuff like that is especially dangerous for children. Parents give them money, when they go to school, without giving it a second though what they are going to buy. It’s usually like this: a child goes to a supermarket and buys a bag of chips. Having eaten this, he feels thirsty and buys a bottle of coke. After drinking Coke he wants something sweet to finish with – and this is … a sweet chocolate bar.

Читать далее Topics in English: Health (Темы по английскому: Здоровье)

Topics in English: Holidays (Темы по английскому: Праздники)

Holidays break up our everyday life in a pleasant way. People can stay with their families, meet friends, go somewhere to have a good time and to enjoy life. Without holidays our life would be probably boring and monotonous.
Different countries have different customs and traditions, but nearly any country celebrates the New Year, Easter, Christmas and many other special days of the year. I take holidays as the time, when I can really do something for myself or for somebody else. This is the time for hobbies, for self-development, when you don’t have to get up early, go to school or university or work. Читать далее Topics in English: Holidays (Темы по английскому: Праздники)

Topics in English: Environmental problems (Темы по английскому: Проблемы окружающей среды)

Environmental problems

People say that we should protect the world we live in. It’s our home, our wealth. But these are only words. And the world today really needs actions. Actions of everyone of us.

From childhood on we hear: «Don’t throw away rubbish». Is it enough? It would be enough, if the world around were perfectly clean. Just have a look, every street is covered with rubbish. If you go to a park or to the forest, you’ll see hills of rubbish too. People don’t care for their habitat. They like lo live in rubbish.

«Greenpeace» says a lot of words, but actions speak louder than words. That’s why, when my friends and me go to the country, to some remote place, we take away rubbish every time. We put it in plastic bags and take away to specially organized places for dumping waste. And every time I feel, that I have done something myself, and it brings some satisfaction into my soul.

The problem seems more serious, than we can think: the Earth is inhabited by 7 billion people. And the planet can stand only 1 billion. The impact on ecology is too high. We can hardly find any source of crystal pure water, or breathe in fresh air. I don’t mean faraway places, where a man has never set his foot. I mean the places we live in.

Millions of tons of waste are dumped daily into the water, into the ground. And this is not only usual, but nuclear waste, that will be decomposing for thousands of years.

Читать далее Topics in English: Environmental problems (Темы по английскому: Проблемы окружающей среды)

Topics in English: Mass Media (Темы по английскому: Средства массовой информации)

Mass Media

Mass media plays an important role in our present life. It has become one of the most powerful and wide branches of reality. Its function is not only to highlight important events, but it even influences politics greatly. Mass media includes the press, the television and the radio. The Internet has firmly established itself as a part of mass media, and it annually increases in its meaning. The internet combines TV, the radio and the press, and this fact makes it the most accessible and informative source. Ten years ago we couldn’t even imagine the possibilities it provides at present.

But still TV is the most widespread and popular source of informaton and home entertainment. Many people are just used to having their TV-sets on, without thinking it over, why they need it. Just as a sound in the background. This way TV manipulates people. They absorb and devour the information, which is imposed on them. There are so many channels on TV, and their number grows annually. Some channels may be interesting and educative, but they are not numerous. Talk shows about nothing, humorous programs help people fill the emptiness of souls and minds.

Читать далее Topics in English: Mass Media (Темы по английскому: Средства массовой информации)

Topics in English: Hobbies (Темы по английскому: Хобби)

Hobbies

I can’t imagine my life without my hobbies. Having a hobby is really an important thing, because it makes you relax, you get to know something new, and finally you are in peace with yourself and the whole world, and it seems more and more important in our constantly changing fussy world.
As for my hobbies, I would put reading in the first place, because it’s the major source of information for me. I don’t like fantasy, which is so popular today, I prefer serious books. My favourite writers are S. Maugham, A. Christie. I like Russian writers — Dostoevski and Tolstoy. I can’t say that I have a lot of time for reading, but when I have some free time, I give it to reading. I always have my portable electronic book reader in my bag.
Woodcarving is my second hobby — it is the best way to create. It is even more interesting than painting. Carving wood, you create a kind of relief picture — it is similar to sculpture. Wood is a very pleasant material to work with. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time for it and do it only in summer during my holidays.
And the last hobby I would like to tell you about is painting. I have never attended any art school, but I am so deeply interested in this activity, that I have a couple of friends who are artists. I believe that it’s possible to learn a lot from them. Sometimes I go to the country far away from civilization and draw and paint nature. I use these sketches later when I paint in watercolours. Oil painting will be my next stage, and hopefully I’ll try it next year. My parents and friends say, I’m making good progress. I even take part in different competitions and have already won a couple of prizes.
I will probably turn this hobby into my future profession and become a designer or an artist.
My hobbies are really my treasure, and I am glad to share it with everyone, who is interested in the same things with me.

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Topics in English: My Flat (Темы по английскому: Моя квартира)

My Flat

Our family lives in a three-roomed flat on the third floor of a nine-storey house. We live in a good block, where my school, a hospital and several supermarkets are situated.

I am lucky to have a beautiful view in front of the window of my room. Our house stands beside a small picturesque grove, and it’s smothered in greenery in spring and in summer.

Our flat is very cosy, and it’s thoroughly decorated thanks to my mother – she is a designer. When we bought the flat, we had an idea to decorate it in a high-tech style, but then we decided upon a more traditional variant, and we have never regretted it.

The living-room is the biggest room in the flat – we gather there in the evenings, watch TV, discuss everyday matters and receive guests. My favourite thing in this room is a huge leather sofa, it so comfortable, that I like to spend hours reading or listening to the music, or watching TV in it. We have a great number of paintings, made by our familiar artists. People like to examine them closely when they come to our place. I have a dream to become an artist in the future too. Читать далее Topics in English: My Flat (Темы по английскому: Моя квартира)

Topics in English: My Family (Темы по английскому: Моя семья)

 

My Family

My name is Nick. I have a big family. I live with my Mother, Father and my sister. I also have a brother, but he is a student and his University is in another city. I am ten and my sister is twelve. So I am the youngest in the family. My grandparents live not far from us, so I spend a lot of time with them. My grandfather is the eldest in the family — he is 70. He doesn’t work  any more, but he is a good engineer. My grandmother is 65 and she is a teacher of Maths. She helps me a lot with my homework.

My parents are doctors — Father is a surgeon, and Mother is a physician.

In summer, when we have a vacation, we spend a lot of time together in the country. We have a country house. It is old, but very cosy and comfortable. We play tennis and badminton, ride our bikes together. I always help my Grandpa in the garden — we plant new trees, water the bushes, the flowers and the trees.

My Father is a good photographer — we have several thick family albums. We look through the photos, when we gather in our flat at the weekend and on holidays. We like to remember the most important family events.

 

Читать далее Topics in English: My Family (Темы по английскому: Моя семья)