Tokyo

Dick had told me to clap my hands if I wanted anything. The next morning, awakened by a mild earthquake that rattled the hotel like a dice-box, I did this until I got bored with it and then padded downstairs and, in sign-language and pidgin English, extracted a promise of breakfast from the bowing and giggling maid. She was so amused and happy about everything that I was at once filled with a good humor which remained with me for the rest of my stay in Japan. I even got to like my idiotic, damnable pretty little room, and somehow learned to contort my limbs into a painful approximation to the lotus position on the many occasions when I had to eat meals off foot-high tables. All in all, I can warmly recommend the Fukudaya Inn (it means, for what that is worth, “Rich Rice-Field”), not far from the British Embassy, May its dwarf pine trees never grow smaller!

So speaks Ian Fleming of Tokyo in his book Thrilling Cities. Good day, Being James Bond listeners, this is Gorodish, Serge Gorodish. Today I’d like to talk about visiting Tokyo. I’m not out to be a human guidebook here, but rather to pass on a few tips from my personal experience.

Tokyo is an amazing, sprawling hive of activity—truly one of the world’s great cities. The most important sight to see in Tokyo is Tokyo itself. Frankly, if it’s temples and antiquities you want, go to Kyoto instead. Tokyo is also, like all Japanese cities, a very safe place to visit and welcoming to visitors. Most Japanese people are scrupulously honest and helpful.

You may have heard that Tokyo is an insanely expensive city. In my experience it need not be so, although offering plenty of opportunities to splurge. Tokyo is much more doable on a modest budget than New York, for example. It’s a matter of knowing where to look.

For example, you can get a room at the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku for about 500US$ a night, and I’m sure you’ll have a terrific time.

Or you can get a double room with a private bath in a clean, safe, family-run Japanese inn for about $100 a night. This is cheaper than a hotel room in my home town. And a Japanese inn becomes part of the Japan experience. I myself would even skip the private bath because using a communal bath is very Japan. Don’t worry, you won’t be bathing with strangers unless you go down the street to a public bath. Search the Web for “Japanese Inn in Tokyo” and see what comes up.

As a rule of thumb, one yen is slightly more than one cent American. So convert Japanese prices to US dollars by knocking off two zeroes and bumping up a little. Japanese use cash much more than Americans do. You are likely to see a fair number of 10,000-yen bills floating around whereas few in the U.S. use $100 bills.

Likely you will be arriving at Narita airport. From here to the city is still over an hour’s trek. Options abound. Don’t take a taxi unless you have serious money to burn. The Narita Express is a dedicated rail line that will take you from Narita to Tokyo station, from which you can take a taxi or commuter rail. For the return trip, you might be able to catch a bus that will take you directly to the airport. Ask at your hotel.

By the way, tipping is unknown in Japan, in restaurants, taxis, etc. Attempting to tip will most likely do no more than confuse people.

On the other hand, you might luck out and fly into the older Haneda airport, which is much closer into town.

Let’s start with an overview of the city layout. One Tokyo paradox is that the emptiest part of town is the city center, which consists of over a square mile of Imperial palace grounds. I’ve never done the tour, which requires advance application for permission, but by all means walk up and take a look from the outside. You will see a wide moat with a massive rock wall on the other side, and glimpse mysterious buildings beyond.

The 20-mile Yamanote commuter rail line runs in a lumpy circle with the Imperial Palace at the center. We can use this to keep track of the city layout. Starting at the 3:00 position on the Yamanote line, we have the Tokyo rail station. Chances are good you visited here on the way in from the airport. The station is located a few blocks east of the palace grounds. Tokyo station is also where you would likely catch the bullet train if you plan on traveling elsewhere in Japan.

The Marunouchi district lying between the palace and the station consists mostly of banks and offices and offers little to the traveler.

However, from Tokyo station walk a few blocks south and a few blocks east, that is, outward from the Yamanote line, and find yourself in one of my favorite spots on earth. This is the Ginza district, shown in the first few scenes of Tokyo from You Only Live Twice.

Make sure to come here in the evening. Japanese cities are generally concrete jungles by day but become neon palaces at night.

Fortunately, since Japan doesn’t use Daylight Saving Time, it gets dark early even in the summer. Be sure to close your hotel room drapes, or be wakened by the sun at 4:30 a.m.

Even the mood of Tokyoites changes from day to night. I once heard that the speed at which urban dwellers walk is strongly predicted by city size. Tokyo certainly fits this pattern. Visit a rail station during the day, especially at rush hour, and see commuters stressed and literally almost running to make it to the office. Step out on the street at 9:00 in the evening, and it’s like a different place. People are smiling and relaxed, out for a good time.

The Ginza is a place for trendy (and pricey) shopping by day. In the evening, visit a bar or coffee shop. But my favorite activity here is just to walk down the street and take it all in. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.

Either in the Ginza or elsewhere, be sure to visit a Japanese department store. These are still palaces of consumerism—up to ten floors filled with consumer products.

Department stores also offer useful options for budget eating. Make your way to the topmost floor. This generally provides a series of small restaurants. Most have a display case with plastic models of food and prices, so you can have a good idea of what to order before you walk in the door.

For an even thriftier eating option, make your way to the department store’s bottom floor, where groceries are sold, including prepared foods such as tempura and sushi. Carry some back to eat in your room. Make sure to stop in the corner bake shop, where you can get rolls, some with skinny sausages baked right in, pastries, and cakes. Japanese cakes are exquisitely fashioned and not overly sweet.

For a surreal experience, show up at a department store right when the doors open in the morning. As you walk through the store, every store clerk you pass will solemnly bow and greet you with “Irasshaimase.”

Now let’s take a ride on the Yamanote line, heading clockwise, that is, south from Tokyo station at the 3:00 position. Around at the 9:00 position, west of the palace grounds, is spacious Yoyogi Park, containing the Meiji shrine within. It’s actually more of a verdant forest than a park. Here’s your chance to escape the heat and bustle of the streets and taste the traditional side of Japan.

Also at the 9:00 position, but much closer to the center of town, is one of the all-time great Bond locations to visit: the 5-star New Otani hotel. You might even want to stay here; I see rooms are going for less than $200 a night.

In You Only Live Twice, the New Otani plays the role of Osato Chemicals headquarters. Check out the north side of the building and you’ll see the unmistakable boomerang shape. The circular structure atop the building is the rotating Sky restaurant. Although much taller buildings have gone up in Tokyo you still get a great view of the city. The hotel is huge and contains many other restaurants, both western and Asian. One of my favorites is Trader Vic’s, with a Polynesian theme. Check out the hotel garden as well.

Returning to the Yamanote line, let’s travel one station past Yoyogi. Now you’re at Shinjuku, a major city center and home to Tokyo’s skyscrapers.

The Shinjuku station itself is a marvel, a massive three-dimensional maze, melding into the Keio department store atop. I have yet to succeed in traveling the same path through the station twice.

If you plan to meet someone in Shinjuku, a good rendezvous point is the south exit to the station, which is large, open, and easy to find.

I never visit Tokyo without making a trip to the New York Grill on the 52nd floor of the Shinjuku Park Hyatt hotel. Yes, you heard me right, that’s the New York Grill. Switching films for a minute, this restaurant figures prominently in the movie Lost in Translation. Great food in a beautiful large space with the lights of Tokyo stretching out to the horizon. Now this is definitely a splurge—plan on at least 100$US per person exclusive of alcohol.

Shinjuku also has the Tokyo City Hall, a twin pair of skyscrapers.

This is my A-list of Tokyo sights, but the B-list has plenty to offer. Other city centers such as Ikebukuro, Ueno, and Shinagawa. Shibuya, site of some awesome driving in the Tokyo Drift movie. Asakusa, offering a unique faux-traditional shopping arcade leading to the Tohongan temple, and nearby Kappabashi, where you can buy some of that plastic food you’ve seen in the restaurants. The Kanda district, famed for its bookstores. Omote Sando, the so-called “Champs Elysées of Japan.” Day trips to the Ghibli museum, or to the beach town of Kamakura with its giant bronze Buddha.

Finally, let me close with a note about culture. Bond always fits in smoothly wherever he goes. In Japan, the single most useful thing you can learn is to practice bowing naturally and gracefully. A bow can say hello, good-bye, thank you, you’re welcome, etc. Well-timed bows have gotten me out of some sticky situations.

That sums it up for this brief introduction. I hope you have an awesome trip. Maybe I’ll run into you there. So, until next time, this is Serge Gorodish, reminding you to keep living like James Bond.

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Prepping for Skydiving

“He didn’t even say, “Goodbye!” If you see how often James Bond gets thrown from an airplane, you might wonder if he ever considered actual skydiving training! But other films, like The Living Daylights, shows that Bond knows what he’s doing. Let’s discuss what you need to know to prep for your first time skydiving!

What is skydiving, and why do people do it?

So without any flourish, what exactly is skydiving? Skydiving is a sport where people, either solo or in groups, wear parachutes and jump out of an aircraft — usually between 3,500 and 13,500 feet above the ground (AGL). After spending a certain amount of time in free fall and hopefully accomplishing what they set out to do (about sixty seconds from 13,000 feet), they deploy their parachutes and return safely to the ground. While it’s true that your first jump will be little more than falling straight down, once you develop some basic air skills, you can literally learn to fly your body in the sky and pull off some heart pounding, amazing things on your own or in a group.

Of course, if you haven’t made up your mind to actually go on a jump, you’re undoubtedly wondering why you would ever want to risk life and limb to do such a thing. You’re wondering what on Earth would ever possess someone to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

The answer to that question differs with every jumper. A lot of people simply make one jump because it’s on their bucket list. Others love the idea of being able to fly like a bird, or they just enjoy the challenge. Some use it as a method for personal growth or empowerment. Some love the adrenaline rush. The reasons go on and on. But there’s one thing that’s a constant for everyone: the sport is addicting (some call it legal crack), and it has forever changed both their lives and the way they see the world.

Isn’t skydiving dangerous?

You’ve probably had that thought multiple times, and chances are, it comes either right before or after, I can’t believe I’m even remotely considering this. The answer is, yes it’s dangerous. You’re hurling yourself at the ground at 120 mph and trusting a bunch of fabric to slow you down enough so you don’t turn into a pancake. If you don’t think that’s dangerous, then do every skydiver a favor and don’t get in the air. No one wants to be taken out by some idiot that doesn’t respect the sport.

Now before you run for the hills and scream, “I knew it! You’ll never get me to jump!” consider this: The world is dangerous. Aside from natural things like fires, floods, disease, etc. that can take anyone out without warning, we do things all the time that are downright crazy (and deadly). We zip along highways at sixty, seventy, eighty miles per hour in multi-ton vehicles without a second thought. We shoot across the country in jets without batting an eye. We swim in water that has all sorts of things that would love to take a bite out of us. And if you really want to put some hard facts to it, you’ve got a better chance of dying in a car wreck, cycling, running, or swimming than you do making a jump. Believe it or not, even tennis is only marginally safer (compiled statistics available at: http://www.medicine.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/booth/risk/sports.html).

So, in short, while the sport is dangerous – especially if not respected – it is actually less dangerous than things you likely already do every day without a second thought. The only reason you think skydiving is insane is because it’s a sport that’s completely alien to you. And that’s okay. It’s normal.

What should I wear?

No matter what sort of jump you are doing, be it your first or your thousandth, always wear something that you’re comfortable in and don’t mind getting dirty. On a hot day, you might want to wear shorts and a t-shirt, or if it’s cold outside, pants and a long-sleeve shirt would be fine as well. So men, leave the tailored suit at home, and ladies, even if that outfit looks really cute and does a fantastic job of slenderizing your hips, unless you’re okay with the possibility of it being torn, ripped, or soaked, leave it in the closet. While 99.99% of landings are uneventful, they aren’t always stand-ups (that is, landing on your feet as opposed to hitting the ground and falling over). Even the most seasoned pro has to butt-slide one in from time to time. Those landings don’t hurt, but as you can imagine, they aren’t friendly on what you’re wearing either.

Lastly, on what to wear, remember this rule: Wear sneakers. Always. No boots. No sandals. No flip flops. No bare feet. And no heels. Wear sneakers, or…wear sneakers.

Do I need to be super-fit?

Like most things in life, the better overall health you are in, the better. Physically speaking, if you are anywhere near being height-weight appropriate and in good health, you should have no troubles whatsoever. Drop zones (also known as DZs) usually have weight limits due to a variety of things like who their instructors are, equipment fitting, etc. and the limits usually start around 240-250 pounds. If you happen to be over the limit, don’t fret. These aren’t hard numbers, and the drop zone can often work with you.

If you have any serious physical limitations or ailments, be sure to let the drop zone know. This is for everyone’s safety, and don’t be too quick to think that anything in particular will keep you from jumping. People who are amputees, paraplegics, quadriplegics, or even blind, have all successfully made – and enjoyed – numerous jumps. As long as you’re over eighteen years old and breathing, it’s worth seeing if they’ll take you up no matter how badly out of shape you may feel you are.

What will the actual jump like?

Succinctly? It will be the best thing you’ve ever done.

In terms of a more detailed answer, this is usually how it goes for most people: The first thing you want to do is find a DZ. At this point in the game, your only real concern should be whether or not they are a member of the United States Parachute Association (the USPA is available online at: http://www.uspa.org/). They are the organization that helps regulate and govern the sport in the United States. They also happen to be the same group that issues licenses to skydivers. If you are outside the United States, find out who the equivalent is for your country.

Once you have a DZ in mind, you’ll want to decide on what type of first dive you want to do, and there are three basic types from which to choose:

Tandem Skydive – This is the most popular first dive by far. You will be strapped to an expert instructor who has at a bare minimum, 500 jumps (and in reality, probably has thousands). This type of jump is the easiest to accomplish. There are only fifteen minutes of ground school needed before you go up in the air since all you really need to do is smile for the camera. Your instructor will ensure you land safely. As an added bonus, it’s also usually the cheapest, and should run you about $200.

Accelerated Free Fall (aka AFF) – If you go this route, you’ll get to do everything. After six to eight hours of ground school where they will teach you the ins and outs of skydiving, you will be required to check and put on your own equipment, jump out of the airplane, deploy your parachute, and safely land the canopy. If you’d rather be the driver rather than the passenger of a racecar, this is the way to do it. But don’t worry; you will be supervised the entire time. Aside from ground school, you will have two instructors that will fly next to you during freefall on the off chance you need a little assistance. Because of the added training required, and the fact that two instructors are going up with you instead of one, the cost is usually more than a tandem dive, and you can expect to pay about $300 for the first jump. Subsequent AFF jumps (to work on your license) go down considerably in cost.

Static line / IAD (Instructor Assisted Deployment) – Whereas AFF jumpers start learning to jump from about 13,000 feet, if you choose the Static line method, you’ll start learning from much lower altitudes as there is no free-fall component in the beginning. What you will do is jump out of the plane with a line attached so that once you are clear of the plane, your parachute immediately opens. There’s still a hefty ground school to go through since you still have to land your own canopy, but it’s an option that some people find appealing and some instructors swear by. Cost wise, you’re probably looking at something in between the Tandem and AFF options. Though it will vary from DZ to DZ, it will probably be around $250 for your first static line jump.

If you aren’t sure which method you’d like to use, or if you have questions, call the DZ and ask what they recommend. And speaking of calling the DZ, you’ll also want to call them to make an appointment for your first dive. Like any business, drop zones can get busy, so having a reservation can mean the difference between jumping within the hour you arrive, or sitting around waiting all day as those who made reservations get to go ahead of you.

Once you have your appointment, you’ll find your nerves mounting as Jump-day draws near. Even if you’re excited about skydiving, when you actually get to the DZ, you’ll find that you’re more nervous than you had expected to be. After all, you’re about to knock on the Reaper’s door and take off running before he can answer.

You might grow quiet. Most people do. You might talk a lot. You might pace about and avoid everyone. But one thing is for certain: all the veteran jumpers will smile and know firsthand exactly what you’re going through.

At some point, you’ll need to check in with manifest, as it’s generally a good idea to do that when you first arrive. Manifest is the office where the drop zone coordinates all of the jumps for the day. There you will be required to fill out paper work, and after that, they will send you off for some basic training.

About twenty minutes before your plane takes off, you will put on your equipment. For tandem students, this is simply slipping into a harness with straps that go over the shoulders, around the chest, and around each leg. Each harness has four clips to it as well, and these clips are what keep the student attached to the instructor. They may look small, but each one can hold two and a half tons. Yes, that means all four together could hold an elephant without coming close to breaking.

Aside from the harness, you will also be given a pair of goggles, and a helmet if you so desire. If you’re not doing a tandem jump, you will also put on your rig (that’s the backpack looking thing that holds your main and reserve parachutes) as well as an altimeter (which tells you how high you are and can be handy). As a purely optional thing, you can also put on a jumpsuit which is worn over the clothes you have on.

The plane will probably be packed with other eager and excited skydivers. Generally, it will take about ten to fifteen minutes for it to climb to altitude. Unfortunately, there will be no peanuts, refreshments, or in flight movies for you to enjoy. But the view from the windows is always nice. So relax as best you can and take a gander at everything you’re flying over. A few minutes before it’s time to jump, your instructor will do one final gear check and make sure that you are both good to go.

When the plane finishes its climb, it will level off, and you will hear a noticeable drop in pitch in its engines. At this point, you will be on what’s called “jump run.” Jump run is the portion of flight where the plane flies as slow as possible over the target area, and as the name suggests, skydivers jump out.

Jump run is also when some idiot will open the door to the plane, and that, my friend, is the moment where it all comes together. Cold wind will roar past your ears, and just a few feet away, where the door used to be, you’ll see the open sky above and the dark ground far below. Life will never seem more real than what’s going on in that very moment, and you’ll be convinced Death is next to you, smiling, maybe even tapping you on the shoulder. Before you’re ready, your instructor will bring you to the door and after a brief count of, “Ready! Set! Go!” you both will jump out.

Hands down, the hardest part of any first skydive is getting out the door. Once you do that, once you conquer that fear, the rest is pure bliss. It will be like a switch in your brain flips and you go from stark terror to pure elation. You’ll only have the sensation of falling for about a second or two, after which, you’ll be completely weightless. Wind will rush past your ever smiling face. And although on some level, you know you’re falling, it won’t look like it at all. From two and a half miles up, the human eye can’t tell that the ground is approaching. As such, your brain will (mostly) be convinced that you’re floating in air. But more importantly, you’ll love every minute of it.

At around 5,000 feet above the ground, you or your instructor will deploy the main parachute. It takes about three seconds for the chute to fully inflate, and for many people, those three seconds feel like a lifetime. But once it’s open, you’ll feel an upward snatch. After that, it’s usually a three to five minute canopy ride back to the ground, depending on what you want to do. Some people want to gently float down and take in the scenery, while others would rather whip around the sky like they were on a roller coaster. It’s up to you what sort of canopy ride you’d enjoy.

When you get back to Earth, you’ll have a story to tell for the rest of your life. You’ll also be grinning from ear-to-ear because your brain will be swimming in an Olympic-sized pool of endorphins — and that’s a high you won’t come down from for a week. You’ll recount your experience to anyone and everyone that will listen with the fervor and excitement that only a madman could match. Most importantly of all, you’ll understand exactly why skydivers do what they do. From that day forth, whenever someone asks, “Why would you ever do that?” all you’ll be able to do is smile and say, “You’ve got to try it to really find out.”

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Strict Rules of Golf

“Shall we make it a shilling a hole?”

It is easy to understand why so many men around the world, are in love with the game of golf! Ask those who love the game and they will tell you that golf is the finest sport in the world. The following is a summary of the most common answers given by people when asked why they love golf:

It’s Light Exercise
– The average golf game ranging over 18 holes usually lasts over a couple of hours when played outdoors. This is a great opportunity to take in some fresh air and sunshine for people who are unenthusiastic about gym-ing. While golf may not pace your heartbeat like a jog in the park, it definitely helps you enjoy light exercise in pleasant weather.

It’s Relaxing – Since golf lasts longer than most games, it helps you divert your mind from the complexities of daily life. Golf, therefore, provides the necessary refreshment that you would need when the responsibilities of work and home take their toll on you. This also includes the fact that golf can serve as an ideal picnic idea too, which means the family will be able to spend some time together.

It’s Sophisticated
– This isn’t hard to understand. Even though played by people from all walks of life, golf is usually associated with the rich and famous, especially in movies. In fact, golf is a great way to build business relations. Many a business meeting has been conducted on a golf course, where the setting is ideal to develop a rapport, away from a strict working environment.

Objectives of the Game

The aim is simple; you have to put the ball in the hole on the green with the minimum number of strokes. These holes are placed at varying distances ranging from a 100 to 500 yards. Scoring is also based on the number you shots you attempt.

The score in golf is called ‘par’. This is the number of shots you must attempt to complete a course. Usually, the golf courses are at Par 72. The par is:
• 3 on short holes
• 4 on medium holes
• 5 for long shots

The ball can only be struck from the tee with a club, while woods can be used off the tee or for longer shots. The putter, on the other hand, is used when the distance between the hole and ball is considerably shorter. When playing on the fairway or out on the rough, golfers usually use irons. Woods, irons, and putters are simply different types of golf clubs.

Major Rules of Golf
The gold rulebook is jointly published every 4 years by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Gold Club of St. Andrews (R&A). You can easily read the exact documents on the respective websites of the organizations. In fact, the USGA website features easy-to-understand animations of the major golf rules. Each of these animations last for about 2 minutes and you can see a visual representation of the rules and understand them better.

Here is a brief outline of the major rules currently in effect.

Ball
The game includes playing a ball from the teeing ground into a hole by one or more strokes as defined by the rules. This means that you cannot bring in another ball while you are in the middle of playing a hole.

Stroke
Stroke is simply the forward movement of the club when you strike the ball. However, a movement will not be counted as stroke until you make the full swing, even if the ball isn’t touched. On the other hand, if you stop half way during the swing, it will not be counted as stroke. In essence, a stroke includes backward and forward movement, no matter how short or long, as shown in the picture.

Penalties
A player can earn penalties in specific situations during a game, and they reflect on the scorecard in the same way as if the player had taken extra swings at the ball. In addition, extra strokes will be counted if the player violates a rule or hits the ball into an unplayable situation.
While stroke penalties are incurred on most violations, such as hitting a ball out of bounds (Rule 27-1), players can also be disqualified in certain other situations, such as:

• Moving to the next hole without “holing” out (completely hitting the ball inside the hole) the previous one. (Rule 3-2)

• “Refusal to comply with a rule affecting another player’s rights during the game” (Rule 3-4)

Theme of the Rule Book
All in all, the golf rule book is based on the following principle:

Play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, and if you cannot do either, do what is fair.

Golf Jargon Explained
The following is a list of some technical terms in golf and their meanings:

Bogey: ‘Bogey’ initially signified a perfect game but now it means a hole played one stroke over par.

Birdie: Birdie simply means a hole played in one stroke under par.

Eagle: Originating from ‘Birdie’, Eagle denotes a hole played in two strokes under par.

Mulligan: A replay of a shot (not allowed by rules)

Fore: A loud verbal warning when it is suspected that the ball may hit someone!

‘Strict Rules of Golf’
While we are talking about the Rule Book and golfing etiquette, it is good to discuss what constitutes the ‘strict rules of golf’. This phrase has been made popular by Goldfinger (1964), where Sean Connery playing Bond wins a classic match against the antagonist, Goldfinger.

Strict rules, in simple terms, would mean going by the book, even when you are playing a casual game. In particular, the movie references the ‘5 minute rule’ when the ball is lost in the rough, and Bond states that crossing this time limit will cause Goldfinger to lose both stroke and distance.

According to USG rules, a ball is considered ‘lost’ when ‘It is not found or identified as his by the player within five minutes after the player’s side or his caddies have begun to search for it’.

If the ball is not found within 5 minutes as a result of not being found or identified as his by the player within five minutes after the player’s side or his caddies have begun to search for it, the player must play a ball, under penalty of one stroke, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5).

Even though agreeing to play by strict rules, Goldfinger, with the help of his caddy, goes on to break a few rules, which has obvious villainous connotations. He switches the lost ball to avoid the penalty, and plays the 18th hole first without having honor. Honor refers to the order of players, but it is more etiquette than a rule and there are no penalties involved.

However, in the end, it is revealed that Bond himself allowed Goldfinger to switch the ball. Because of not playing the original ball (Slazenger 1), Goldfinger lost the match even after scoring the 18th hole!

“We are playing strict rules, so I’m afraid you lose the hole and the match.” – James Bond

The Course
As explained during the introduction, a common golf course includes 18 holes. The first shot for each hole is played from the teeing area that contains a ball placed on a peg. The rest of the hole is played on the rough (long grass) or fairway (closely-mown extension of grass) that leads to the green, i.e. the place where the hole is located.)

There are several hazards on the course as well. A hazard in golf means an obstacle in the course which makes playing a hole very difficult. Hazards can be of 3 types:

Bunkers: These are depressions near the fairway of green, usually filled with sand. Different types of bunkers are “waste bunkers”, “greenside bunkers”, and “fairway bunkers”.

Streams: Water hazards include streams and ponds located between the tee and the hole to add challenge to the game and enhance the aesthetics of the golf course.

Natural Hazards: These include factors like dense vegetation.

Etiquette of The Game
“In golf, the customs and etiquette and decorum are as important as the rules of play.” (Bobby Jones, legendary amateur golfer)

Along with the golf rules, the USGA/R&A ‘Rules of Gold’ also includes instructions on gaming etiquette. Golfers are expected to oblige by these principles to make the game safe, fair, and enjoyable for all the participants, but a violation may not necessarily lead to a penalty. Examples of golfing etiquette include:
• Not talking while another player is playing a swing
• Not walking on the line of your putt on the green
• Replacing divots
• Repairing pitch marks
• Raking bunkers

However, in a serious infraction of the etiquette, players can be disqualified under Rule 33-7. Such instances include:
• Damaging the course
• Damaging other players’ equipment
• Injuring other players
• Distracting other players
• Taking a long time to a play shot to deliberately hold up the game
• Trying to gain unfair advantage

Conclusion
That’s about it! This presentation was meant to serve as a guide for beginner golfers. The tip that we want you to leave with is to understand everything mentioned in this guide, and also what you have learned from experienced players personally.

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The Music of James Bond Revisited

James Bond Theme – Monty Norman and John Barry
“The James Bond Theme is an instrumental tune, and the main signature theme of the James Bond films, and has been featured in every one of the “official” films since Dr. No in one form or another. The debate still rages about who actually created the James Bond Theme: Monty Norman wrote a track called “Good Sign Bad Sign” from “A House for Mr. Biswas,” while John Barry was part of The John Barry Seven and wrote “The Bees Knees,” and each influences the final product. Monty Norman has been credited with writing the music, but the song was orchestrated by John Barry, who would later go on to compose the soundtrack for 11 future Bond films. What can you say about the Bond theme? It’s going strong today, never seems dated, and is as much a part of the Bond experience as a vodka martini.”

Kingston Calypso – John Barry and Monty Norman
“For the longest time, I assumed this song was called Three Blind Mice. This song is does a great job of setting up the locale of Jamaica, the getaway of Ian Fleming, but it’s pretty forgettable, and contrasts the cold-blooded villains.”

Jamaican Jump Up – Byron Lee and the Dragonaires
“Again, sets the stage for the Jamaica nightlife. Great scene with Pussfeller walking through his club while ‘Jump Up’ has the patrons jumping in a frantic Jamaican dance. Is he voodoo possessed?”

Underneath The Mango Tree – John Barry and Monty Norman
“The only theme song that James Bond actually sings. Contrasts the murder of Professor Dent, while serves as the ‘Bond Girl’ theme. You can’t hear this song without envisioning Honey Rider emerging from the sea.”

From Russia, With Love – Matt Munro
“Musty vocals by Munro, more suitable for a cigar party. Solid theme that reeks of espionage, but not very memorable. The instrumental works with more punch!”

Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey
“A song about the villain himself, and John Barry’s personal favorite. Loud brassy vocals create possibly one of the most quintessential, recognizable Bond themes ever, and certainly screams classic Bond.”

Thunderball – Tom Jones
“Is this song about James Bond, or the villain Largo? ‘He always runs, while other walk…’ Tom Jones’ inspirational lyrics sets a trend that many other Bond performers will follow.”

Mr. Kiss-Kiss Bang-Bang – Dionne Warwick
“Originally recorded as the theme for Thunderball, and still heard throughout the score. Sizzles of “the scent and sweat and smoke of a casino” this song has the after-taste of a good dirty martini.”

You Only Live Twice – Nancy Sinatra
“Recorded by the great Nancy Sinatra, who struggled to complete the theme, elevates the film to a new level. ‘This dream is for you so pay the price.’ Like Thunderball, the YOLT theme has some great inspirational lyrics.”

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – John Barry & His Orchestra
“Top notch 007! I don’t think John Barry has ever been better than he is here, and this score sets the stage for an incredible film. Great one to sneak a listen to while flying down a ski slope.”

We Have All The Time In The World – Louis Armstrong
“Magical, poignant, and soulful! Scoring one of the few, if any, genuine romances in a James Bond film. A fitting final song for Armstrong. If I ever get married you can be sure this will be played at my wedding.”

Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown – Nina
“An oddity as a James Bond song, but lovely as a Christmas song. Sets the mood of the setting, while Bond is trying to lose himself in the happy crowd.”

Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey
“While my opinion of film hasn’t changed, my feelings on the theme has greatly softened over the years. Bassey doesn’t hold back, and brings the same gusto she brought to Goldfinger!”

Live and Let Die – Wings
“A classic! Gets away from the brassy ballads of the 60s, McCartney does the impossible by incorporating a tricky title into a fantastic upbeat song! A successful new direction, and stands up over time!”

The Man With the Golden Gun – Lulu
“Great orchestration my John Barry. Trying to put Bassey-esque vocals into a Live and Let Die style orchestration, the final product is a strange mixture. Tough title to work into a theme song, and the song it certainly in your face.”

Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon
“A classic, signature song, about the entire Bond experience. Starts softly, and builds into a powerful climax. A song I’ve rediscovered over time.”

Moonraker – Shirley Bassey
“Subtle and lush! Not sinply a re-working of Goldfinger, Bassey brings classic Bond elements to Roger Moore’s James Bond. This song pulls the reigns just when the action on screen gets too carried away.”

For Your Eyes Only – Sheena Easton
“A classic double-entendre; one of the better titles for a spy thriller, as well as a romantic ballad. And the only time the song’s performer appeared in the title sequence. I can listen to this anytime, as it ages well.

Make It Last All Night – Bill Conti and Rage
“Odd song with tepid lyrics, almost unfair to judge as a standalone song, the song serves as background filler for a mildly suspenseful scene.”

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The Rules of Champagne

What adult beverage does James Bond most often consume? If you said the vodka martini, you’d be mistaken.

“I see you are a connoisseur, Monsieur Bond.” (Achille Aubergine, ‘A View to a Kill’)

From the Dom Perignon ’53 that lost its chill in Goldfinger, to the Bollinger La Grande Année that Bond orders ‘for one’ in Casino Royale; the beverage that’s most often enjoyed by James Bond, by a substantial margin, is a certain sparkling white wine more commonly known as Champagne.

So what is Champagne? To know what Champagne is, you need to understand what wine is.

What is Wine?

At its bare essence, wine is nothing more than fermented grape juice. Wine can be made from many fruits, including strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries; but of course, the vast majority of wine is made from grapes.

What is ‘fermented’ grape juice?

Fermentation refers to the conversion of sugar to alcohol. When a grape is crushed, the natural sugar inside the grape reacts with the natural yeasts on the skins. The yeast consumes the sugars and produces alcohol (and carbon dioxide); thus begins the process of turning grapes to wine. We can also assume that the more sugar present in the grapes, the more alcohol there will be in the resulting wine (so long as the process is allowed to continue to completion). Yeast exists naturally on grapes and grapevines, which is why fermentation occurs with no intervention, but winemakers may also add yeasts to better control the process. ‘Fermentation’ is how wine, beer, and even vinegar are produced, and is the first step in creating alcohol.

How the Wine is Made?

Winemaking is a lengthy procedure, and different processes are used for different grapes and blends. Observing the different processes in creating red and white wine reveals a significant feature about the wine itself.

White wine is made by picking the grapes, crushing and pressing them to extract the clear juice, and then removing the skins from the batch before fermentation. The process for making red wine is slightly different. While the juice of red grapes is also clear, the skins remain mixed in during the fermentation process, and left to macerate, which means to ferment while still in contact with the skins. This is done so the juice can adopt more of the color and tannins from the grape skins. Therefore, the juice from both red and white grapes is clear (or light in color), and it’s the color of the skins that makes the difference in the appearance of wine, specifically red wines.

Yeast is added to the mix during fermentation. Natural yeast was once used, but now most vineyards use manufactured yeasts to ensure a more predictable end result. Fermentation is generally executed in large stainless steel or even concrete vats, as oak barrels tend to be much more expensive.

Fermentation is a very precise business; the liquid must be brought up to the correct temperature, which is usually around 56 degrees or above. Too hot a temperature results in loss of flavor, whereas too cold and the fermentation process could come to a complete halt. Fermentation time can vary from a few days to a few weeks, depending on which type of wine is being made. After fermentation is complete, the wines are filtered and refined, also known as clarification and stabilization, to remove any debris, and finally bottled.

Grapes have become the standard for wines for two reasons. First, there is an acid found in grapes but not other fruits, which preserves the juice for decades or even centuries. Second, there is much more sugar in grapes than in other fruits, which helps to produce stronger wines because almost all the sugar is transformed into alcohol.

What is Champagne?
Champagne is a sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France following rules that demand secondary fermentation of the wine in the bottle to create carbonation. Some use the term champagne as a generic term for sparkling wine, but many countries reserve the term exclusively for sparkling wines that come from Champagne and are produced under the rules of the appellation.

Sparkling wine can be made from almost any grape, but true Champagne must be made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier in the Champagne region of France. Grapes are harvested earlier than usual (about 3-4 weeks) so that the balance of sugar (low) and acidity (high) are at their optimum levels.

What makes it bubble?
At the very bottom of the ‘barrel’ and the cheapest possible method is by simple carbonation, where literally a tank full of wine is pumped with bubbles. This final solution results in a cheap and cheerful but coarser sparkling wine. So enjoy Champagnes with the subtle tiny bubbles, and avoid sparkling wines with large bubbles that look more like ginger ale.

The traditional, and also more costly, method is by adding more yeast to the wine in a bottle, sealing it and putting it through a second. Carbon Dioxide is created in the bottle in the form of small bubbles that cannot escape as the wine is sealed. Made with this method, dead yeast cells or ‘lees’ must be removed before the bottle is sold, and this can only be executed by slowly moving the bottles either by hand or by machine, so that the lees collect at the top of the bottle. This process is known as ‘riddling’. The tops of the bottles are then frozen and the resulting ice collection is popped out, and a correct amount of sugar or ‘dosage’ is put into the bottle and then resealed. A cheaper mode is to use the ‘tank’ method, where a second fermentation takes place and then the wine is bottled under pressure to create the bubbles. This method is used particularly for lower grade champagnes and sparkling wines, and in such wines, the bubbles are much softer.

Deciphering Labels

Like most wines, Champagne has its own set of terms, which can make choosing the correct one a little confusing. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

We already said that sparkling wines had to be from the Champagne region of France to be called Champagne, but other countries have their own version of ‘sparkling’ wines, such as ‘cava’ from Spain, or ‘frizzante or spumante’ in Italy.

Sparkling wines can tend to be sweeter than traditional Champagne, and can be made from more or less any grape variety in their specific region. Here’s how to detect the level of sweetness in a sparkling wine:

• Extra Brut: (less than 6 grams of residual sugar per liter)

• Brut: The most common style of Champagne and sparkling wines, and also the driest, although some with terms such as “Extra Brut” can be even drier. (less than 12 grams)

• Extra Dry:
In the twisted lexicon of wine terms, these actually mean the wine is slightly sweeter than Brut. Go figure. (between 12 and 17 grams)

• Sec: (between 17 and 32 grams)

• Demi-sec: (between 32 and 50 grams)

• Doux: Sweeter styles of Champagne. (about 50 grams)

Other categories of sparking wine include:

• Blanc de Blancs:
A sparkler made exclusively from white grapes, usually chardonnay. Usually lighter in body.

• Blanc de Noirs:
Made from red-wine grapes such as pinot noir and pinot meunier, though the skins are removed quickly so the wine remains white. Tend to be richer and more full-bodied.

• Rosé Champagne: The rosé wines of Champagne (also known as Pink Champagne) are produced either by leaving the clear juice of black grapes to macerate on its skins for a brief time (known as the saignée method) or, more commonly, by adding a small amount of still Pinot noir red wine to the sparkling wine cuvée. Champagne is typically light in color even if it is produced with red grapes, because the juice is extracted from the grapes using a gentle process that minimizes the amount of time the juice spends in contact with the skins, which is what gives red wine its color. Rosé Champagne is one of the few wines that allows the production of Rosé by the addition of a small amount of red wine during blending. This ensures a predictable and reproducible color, allowing a constant Rosé color from year-to-year.

Ideal Serving Temperature

It’s no secret that Ian Fleming’s James Bond preferred his cocktails to be served “very strong and very cold and very well made.” But you may find that 38 degrees is much to cold to unlock the flavors and aromas of Champagne.

“My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs!” (James Bond, ‘Goldfinger’)

Experience shows that ideal serving temperature is 45-50°F. Below that temperature the wine is too cold making aromas harder to detect. Above 50°F the wines appear “heavier” and less bright.

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Podcast: Head of Section Returns!

At long last, our beloved Head of Section has returned from his secret mission! Jamie and Sandy interview Joseph Darlington about where he’s been, what’s next for Being James Bond, and of course theorize and discuss the James Bond series and the upcoming film, SPECTRE!

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MovNat: A Workout Worthy of Bond

To hear the entire podcast, including Jamie and Sandy’s discussion of MovNat, scroll to the bottom of this page and click the link.

Also, the book Sandy was referring to as “Burn” is in fact Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey.  Check it out!


Before I was a James Bond fan, I was a Tarzan fan.  I read all the books and thrilled to his ability to navigate the outdoor world, no matter what was thrown at him.  Rock wall?  He’d find a way. Cover 10 miles in the jungle before the Bull Mangani attacked Jane and the rest of the safari? No problem.

So you can imagine how I felt the first time I saw the YouTube video entititled “The Workout The World Forgot.”  In it, a fellow named Erwan Le Corre lifts logs and carries them down rivers, climbs trees, clambers over seemingly impassible rock walls, scrambles down mountainsides covered in scree, swims down pristine rivers, and grapples with opponents that challenge him.  It’s intoxicating to watch.

And what’s amazing is that he does it all in nothing but a pair of shorts.  He’s not even wearing any shoes.

It took me back to the now-famous chase scene at the beginning of Casino Royale in 2006, when Bond chased the bomb-maker Mollaka (played by parkour luminary Sébastien Foucan) through a construction site and scrambled to keep up while Mollaka lept, climbed, and vaulted his way through the scene.  It was easily my favorite ever Bond movie chase.

Le Corre is the founder of MovNat, a fitness methodology that strives to free human beings from the artificial world we’ve created and return us to a time when our bodies were strong, supple, capable, and most importantly, useful.  MovNat is about throwing away the gym mentality of reps, programming, “no pain – no gain,” and isolation from the natural world.  Instead, the methods of MovNat come from what Le Corre calls the basic movement skills of the human body in the natural environment:  the locomotive skills of walking, running, jumping, balancing, crawling, climbing, and swimming; and also the manipulative skills of lifting, carrying, throwing and catching.

This sounds pretty basic.  And frankly, it should be.  Had we grown up in an environment like our pre-modern civilization ancestors, we’d be doing all these things instinctively because we’d have grown up doing them just for survival.  But here’s the rub:  because we haven’t grown up doing these things regularly, we’ve forgotten how and have to relearn.  We also have to retrain our bodies to do these things because modern conveniences like chairs, cars, unnatural workout regimens, and even things like shoes and beds have warped our bodies out of proper alignment and strength.

This hasn’t just made us stiff and inflexible in the ways that matter, it’s made us sick, weak, and more susceptible to injury.  Not only are our bodies capable of the feats the Le Corre shows in the many MovNat videos, they actually expect us to do them regularly.  The specialization of the world of athletics is actually hurting us more than it’s helping.  No where is that more clear today than in the world of youth athletics.  Our kids, who thirty years ago were outside running, playing, exploring woods, wrestling, and swimming are now suffering from injuries that used to be only seen at the highest ranks of athletics: ACL injuries, rotator cuff problems, worn joints, back problems, and more.  Being pushed into athletic specialization at a young age has made our kids more fragile.

And these are the lucky kids – the ones who actually get exercise.

MovNat was greatly influenced by the works of Georges Hébert.  Hébert was a French Navy officer who pioneered a physical philosophy called La Methode Naturelle or the Natural Method.  Prior to World War I, Hébert witnessed a volcanic eruption on the island of Martinique, where he was aghast at the number of people who had lost the ability, through disuse, of people to save themselves or others from the disaster.  They simply couldn’t do things like lift another person and carry them, or climb rubble, or even have the instinct to try these things.  He dedicated himself to a study of how primitive people moved and exercised, and described the overall goal of his method as making people not only strong, but altruistic.  His his personal motto was, “Être fort pour être utile” (“Being strong to be useful”).

MovNat carries on that goal.  It starts by introducing people to many of these movements at a very easy and sometimes almost humiliatingly basic level and then slowly increasing the difficulty of the movement.  For instance, jumping and landing is first practiced by jumping three or four feet straight in front of you and landing.  It seems simple, until you learn how to land properly and absorb the impact with your knees and a slight elastic squat.  The next step might be a precision jump and land – from one mat to another, for example.  That might be followed by jumping onto a two-by-four without falling off, then from one log to another to work landing on unbalanced surfaces.

Another example might be crawling.  You learn the basic foot hand crawl – and learn the proper form for it (keep your back parallel to the ground, not sticking your butt up in the air, and moving your left foot and right hand in tandem, followed by the right foot and left hand).  Then you move to a narrower surface to do this, followed by a trip back to the two-by-four, and then the log.  Or down some stairs.

Everything in MovNat is done in progressions, to re-teach our bodies how to move properly and effectively.  And I speak from experience when I say that it works not only the body, but also the way we see the world.  You no longer just see a wall in front of you, for example, but rather you start looking for ways to climb the wall – where handholds might be, how much of a runup you might need to get to them, how you might use that trash can or railing to boost yourself slightly, and more.  It changes the way you look at the world.

Think of Bond and his pursuit of Mollaka in Casino Royale again.  He may not have Mollaka’s parkour skills, but he figures out ways to get where he needs to go to stay on the bomb-maker’s tail.  That’s the essence of MovNat – knowing how to use your body to be useful and get the job done.

MovNat seminars are now held all over the world.  Everything from half-day seminars in your home town to five-day retreats to places like West Virginia, Thailand, Brazil, New Mexico, and more are taking place all over the world.  And there are MovNat certfied trainers throughout the world who can teach you these fundamental movement techiques and help you improve your body to be useful to yourself and others.

So what can you expect when you take a MovNat training seminar?

First, it’s important to go in with the right attitude.  So much of the training will seem to be rudimentary and almost insulting at times.  And frankly, depending on your past exercise and athletic history, some of it may be.  But be open-minded.  You’re going to learn about things you’ve been doing wrong and how those things may have led to injuries or other limitations in your movement capabilities.  Too much sitting, for example, may make it difficult for you to attain a deep squat, which is a perfectly natural way for humans to rest. You’ll learn how all the warnings to never squat with your knees in front of your toes arei nothing more than trying to help broken people (from too much sitting) avoid breaking themselves further – but a supple MovNat-trained person will have no problem attaining a deep, restful squat.  You’ll learn how to land when you jump.  You’ll learn proper balance techniques and how to lift a log to your shoulder that, frankly, you’ll never believe you could.

Second, listen to everything that is told to you.  Yes, it may all seem easy, as we said before.  But all these skills you’ll learn are going to build on themselves and each other.  Missing a step in between is going to make the transitions to more challenging movements harder for you.  Don’t miss a step.

Third, get ready to be taken out of your comfort zone. Most MovNat training sessions take place outdoors.  You may find yourself walking down a stream holding a log, such as Le Corre does in the “Workout the World Forgot” video.  Or crab-walking down a steep ravine.  Or doing a hand-foot crawl across a log over a stream.  Or deadlifting and playing catch with rocks.  Or even belly crawling through the leaves and dirt of a local park.  You don’t know what you’ll encounter because that’s the way life really is.  Being MovNat-trained means getting yourself ready for anything.

But I promise you this: when you’re finished, you’ll never take movement for granted again. You’re going to see and experience the world in a different way, knowing that you’re on the path to “being strong to be useful.”  You’re going to be more in touch with your own body, knowing what movements in craves and most importantly a ton of ways to feed that craving.

It’s at this point that MovNat becomes less of a workout and more of a practice – like Yoga or a martial art.

If you’re like me, MovNat will lead to a drive for bigger challenges like obstacle course races such as Tough Mudder or Warrior Dash.  It may lead you to learn parkour or take on competitions like American Ninja Warrior.  Or it may just be a way for you to keep loose, enjoy the great outdoors, and keep up with your kids’ playtime.

Whatever your physical endeavors, MovNat can improve them by making your movements more natural and healthful.  Check out the website at http://www.movnat.com for more.

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Learn a Foreign Language Like Bond

Please welcome long-time forum member and friend Serge Gorodish, who takes us on a trip through the world of learning languages.  Bond knew a lot of languages, and it’s a great way to really get to know the places you’re traveling to!

Don’t forget, you can hear the whole podcast, including comments by Jamie and Sandy, by scrolling to the bottom of this article, or by clicking on the podcast link at the top of the page!

Also, the book Jamie mentioned in the podcast is: Express Yourself!: The Essential Guide to International Understanding

 


我把剧情复杂化了?

谁不喜欢剧情偶尔扭转,你是。。。?

邦。占士邦

…or in other words, “Bond, James Bond” in Mandarin Chinese. Hello BJB listeners, this is Gorodish, Serge Gorodish, and today I’d like to give you a few pointers and some encouragement on foreign language study.

According to Ian Fleming, Bond had an excellent command of German and French. In the films, we see Bond using Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, Pashto, Russian, etc. with ease and confidence. A second language is almost like a superpower—it opens up a whole world otherwise invisible.

Learning and using foreign languages has long been one of my favorite activities. A second language can be the key to job opportunities, to travel, and even to romance. It’s also a source of pleasure that anyone can experience at little to no expense.

Perhaps your previous foreign-language experience is limited to school classes. Some enjoy these while others find them boring and frustrating. If you’re among the latter I encourage you to take a look around at the new approaches and resources available these days, many for free. It’s a whole new world for language learners. I used to have to scour the bookstores to find a single book on a slightly unusual language like Japanese. Now with a few keystrokes I can find dictionaries, videos, music, even conversation partners for hundreds of languages. There’s never been a better time to master a language.

Using a foreign language has five facets: speaking, listening, reading, writing, and cultural competence. One of my favorite tools for practicing speaking is also my method of choice for attacking a new language—it’s the Pimsleur course, named after the linguist Paul Pimsleur, who originated the method. A Pimsleur course appears deceptively simple. Each lesson is a recording with instructions to repeat this, say that, etc., with lots of repetition to help things sink in. All you have to do is listen attentively and follow instructions. The content is carefully designed to gradually ramp up in complexity.

Think about it. Speaking a foreign language is a physical skill, like skiing, for example. You must train your mouth to move in new and unaccustomed patterns, and the more practice you get, the more gracefully and precisely you’ll be able to do it and the less you’ll stumble.

A typical language class gives each student a few minutes at most of actual speaking time. The Pimsleur method gives you lots of speaking practice in perfect privacy. A typical course consists of 30 half-hour lessons. Some of the more popular languages offer three course levels—that is, 90 lessons. By the 90th lesson, you’ll be surprised how much you’ve learned to say. Pimsleur courses are easily available for sale on-line. Admittedly, they don’t come cheap, but I have been able to borrow quite a few for free from my local library.

My second suggestion concerns listening. Listening is the hardest aspect of a foreign language because you can’t go at your own pace but must take it as fast as it comes. Any foreign language student knows the satisfaction of correctly formulating and asking a question, only to be taken down a peg when the reply is completely incomrehensible.

The solution is obvious once pointed out. To get better at listening, you need to spend more time listening—a lot of time. Fortunately listening takes less energy than speaking or writing and can be multitasked with other activities such as driving or housework.  To do this you need audio to listen to. Try foreign-language soundtracks of your favorite movies, music, audio books… dedicated Websites such as ChinesePod.com also provide audio tracks for download along with transcripts, vocabulary lists, and other study tools. Aim for audio that’s a little beyond your comfort zone. I have found that with repeated listening a recording gradually becomes more comprehensible.

Maybe you deal with someone regularly whose primary language is not English. I’m thinking of a server in a favorite restaurant, a manicurist, or other professionals of this type. My third suggestion is to take such opportunities to master alimited realm of discourse. For example, learn how to order in a restaurant, how to ask for the check, and conduct other restaurant-related business. This is a much more manageable goal than trying to converse on every subject under the sun. Your efforts will make you look cool and most likely make you a favorite customer.

My fourth suggestion is to make use of spaced-repetition software. This is a far more sophisticated version of old-fashioned flashcards. The software presents “cards” (I’m making air quotes as I say “cards”) according to a carefully calculated tapering schedule of review so that you can keep up with ever-increasing vocabulary. Several space-repetition programs are available. I personally use Anki, which is available for free. Among its many capabilities is the power to synchronize and access your “cards” across several platforms such as a Web browser or cell phone. This is a very flexible tool which can do much more than just vocabulary once you become an expert user.

A fifth suggestion is to employ mnemonic techniques to help memorize vocabulary, grammar, etc. The harsh truth is that approaching fluency in a foreign language entails memorizing ten thousand words and more. Mnemonic (that is, memory-training) techniques are a huge help in this.

A key tenet of mnemonic techniques is the mind retains images much better than words. Here’s an example. The word “grapefruit” in French is pamplemousse. To fix this in your mind, indulge your childish side and notice thatpamplemousse sounds a lot like pimple-moose. We’ll use a mental image to burn this into our brains. Picture a moose covered with pimples—giant pimples that look exactly like grapefruits. Take a moment to see that image in your mind’s eye. Absurd? Repulsive, even? Yes, and that’s the point. Once you visualize it, that image will be burned into your brain.

Take a moment tomorrow to ask yourself what “grapefruit” is in French. Do you want to bet you will remember? Over time, with repeated use of the word, the image fades, to be replaced with natural and immediate recall of the word.

This example only scratches the surface of memory techniques. Much more can be learned from the many books available as well as the Web.

My sixth and final suggestion: don’t forget to have fun. Earlier I said learning a foreign language is like skiing. Learning a foreign language is truly a journey with no end. You will never be “done.” But just like with skiing, you can have fun and excitement from Day One, even if you never reach Olympic level.

When possible, I like to combine foreign-language with travel in a mutually complementary way: it is equally true to say that I travel for the purpose of study and I study for the purpose of travel. Pick a place to visit—say, Prague. I would lead up to my trip with six months or a year of studying Czech. This phase is training for the mission. Then on the trip, the mission itself, I not only use what I’ve learned but take notes on interesting words and phrases that I encounter. Pick up a few books or magazines for which I can get the English equivalent. After the trip, I keep studying, including all those notes that I took. This phase is enhanced by pleasant memories. Even particular words or sentences bring to mind where I was when I first noticed them.

So, to summarize the main points: (1) Try a Pimsleur course to get started in a new language and to get your mouth used to the feel of a new language. That’s P-I-M-S-L-E-U-R. (2) Spend lots of time listening to audio just beyond your comfort level. (3) Take the opportunities offered by your daily interactions, perhaps to master a language in a specialized realm of discourse. (4) Use spaced-repetitition software, such as Anki (that’s A-N-K-I) to keep up with your vocabulary.  (5) Use mnemonic techniques to dramatically amplify your memory power. I recommend the classic introduction How to Develop a Super-Power Memory by Harry Lorayne (that’s L-O-R-A-Y-N-E). (6) and finally, don’t forget to have fun.

I want to close with a story that shows you never know when or how a foreign language may prove useful. Some weeks ago I was preparing to make a trip to Texas via a U.S. air carrier that shall remain nameless. I went on-line to select my seat for the flight, only to be informed that this could only be done by telephone. Calling the customer-service line, and running the gauntlet of the push-button menu, I finally got a recording which said that due to the current east-coast snowstorm they were too busy to talk to me, and I should go on-line, following which it hung up on me. This was the classic rock versus hard place.

In a flash of inspiration, I called the Japanese-language customer service line. This time there was no phone tree, merely a pleasant woman who picked up the phone and courteously and efficiently took care of my needs. I got what I needed and felt cool doing it.

So, until next time, this is Serge Gorodish, reminding you to keep living like James Bond—and, whatever it is that you’re doing right now, why not do it with a little style?

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