Archive for the 'Fluency' Category

Deadlines

Deadlines. What a word ! Get it finished by then … or you’re … cooked!

Whether you set deadlines for yourself, or whether someone else sets them for you,  there they are. You can pick any date, any time of day … and you’ve got one ! A deadline. A date and time to be met, to be respected.

Mothers are among the first deadline-makers in our lives. From very, very early on in our childhoods we heard threats about the risks of not finishing on time : «No dessert until you finish your spinach! » or «If you aren’t ready in 5 minutes, we’re leaving without you!» «Time for your bath!»

Fathers could be just as bad but they often used just one pronoun for the word « deadline. » That word was « NOW» as in the imperative : « Listen to your mother. Now ! » (Or else !)

In our carefree worlds as children, we didn’t need to give ourselves deadlines. Somehow or another, nothing was so important that it had to be done, learnt, or finished by bedtime.

Then came school. And we began to encounter authority: the teacher, the one who taught Latin or Spanish or  … English or math … or in fact, anything that required some effort AFTER school.  In one word : homework.

« WORK » the beginning of the end! Not only the imperatives of  « You MUST » but, on top of that, « by Tomorrow!, Capital T. » « By Thursday.» Or else …

As we grew out of childhood and into adolescence and as we managed to meet deadlines or skirt them,  we learnt that a lot of adults were in fact « bluffing » about the dire consequences of not respecting deadlines.

Sometimes that was out of weakness … often, a reprieve, a warning, or the grace of forgiving kindness.

As we matured, we integrated the notion of deadlines into our mental routines. We put them on our agendas and calendars. We realized that they were everywhere. Your car needed its tune-up every 10 000 miles … you needed a tetanus vaccination one year and then again and then every 10 … And … yes… there was a deadline for sending in applications to schools or for work …  not to mention that in additon to your mother and and your father, you had an uncle too … and your Uncle Sam set a date for filing your tax return, too. And for paying.

While others plot out the deadlines they want us to observe, we make our own. Setting our own deadlines and setting deadlines for others is, in fact, the most human of activities. We like to do this so much that we not only set deadlines…. We have learnt to reset them, too. Over and over again. Free choice. Arbitrary? That’s not so sure.

We choose a date, a time, freely. And then we’re free to respect it or not.  We’re free to determine the consequences, set the sanctions and rewards, apply them … or not.

What time is it? 8:15 ? Already! I’d better finish this and post it before it’s too late!

Oh, what a powerful thing a deadline is!

Do you have to leave so soon?

Sarianna’s got something to say …

SG_If_It_Aint_Broke

Ben Franklin by Kalman

The first American ambassador to France …

Ben Franklin by Kalman.

What a treat!

Sidney Lumet – The Last Word

In Burgundy, It’s All About Terroir, by Eric Pfanner and Stefana Russell

By  for the New York Times, Published: September 16, 2011

ALOXE-CORTON, FRANCE — In an 18th-century cellar under his family home in this village in Burgundy, Franck Follin-Arbelet pulls the corks on two of his 2009 red wines. Each comes from a vineyard in Aloxe-Corton. Each has the same quality imprimatur, premier cru. Each was made from the same grape variety, pinot noir.

Read the whole report here.

Watch it  here (a bilingual French/English presentation) >>> Romanée-Conti: It’s All About Terroir – The video
Vineyards in Aloxe-Corton and Pernand-Vergelesses in Burgundy. No other wine-growing region in France takes the idea of terroir as seriously.
Stefania Rousselle

Franck Follin-Arbelet, left, at work in Aloxe-Corton.

Stefania Russell

 

The Minimalist: Spicy Shrimp Salad With Mint – by Mark Bittman

Smithsonian Folkways Magazine – Pete Seeger

Videocast: Pete Seeger talks about folk music.

The History of English – The Language of Science

The Smithsonian Folkways Collection

Real voices of real people with real emotion. Much of the collection is freely available and downloadable on iTunesU. As Pete Seeger said … “If you’re ever feeling a little down … listen to what these people have to say!” Music from the heart and soul. And what music! Enjoy.

The Smithsonian Folkways Collection