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Lesson 30 New Orleans: Birthplace of Jazz



Welcome to Crescent City, birthplace of jazz! "Cresent City?" Yes, the nickname for New Orleans is Crescent City, due to its downtown location along a particularly deep bend of the Mississippi River. No matter what this unique American city is called, New Orleans has something for everyone.

To understand why this southern city is so different from any other city of the US, and perhaps also how it evolved the musical form of Dixieland jazz, it is necessary to give a brief description of its history. Founded in 1718 by French developers, New Orleans grew rather slowly. Although ideal for shipping (New Orleans is only 180 kilometers from the mouth of the Mississipi, the world's fourth-longest river), the land around New Orleans is extremely low-lying (the city is actually below sea level!) and was at that time nothing more than a swamp. Despite this, the city attracted a wide range of peoples, including Canadian and European French, slaves, american Indians, and a few white British settlers. The area's continued slow growth, however, convinced France that it should sell all of its extensive land holdings in North America to Spain in 1763. Spain ruled this large area including New Orleans until 1800, when the whole area was again returned to France, only to be sold to the US in 1803. The early French and Spanish cultures have remained with the city, even with the approach of 200 years of American rule.

The fortunes of New Orleans have always depended on its riparian location. The city gained importance in the War of 1812 and later as the terminus for shipping along the Mississippi through the Civil War. As shipping declined in importance due to the building of the railroads near the end of the 19th century, however, the Golden Age of New Orleans wound down. At this time, however an artistic creation particular to New Orleans would resuscitate the city's fortunes.

Music has always played an important part in the daily lives of most Americans, and New Orleans happened to be home to some of the best musicians int eh country. From 1880 to World War I, New Orleans with its cafe and night club society became host to a new form of music based mostly on the blues, but also on marches and ragtime music. In this style of music, the trumpet, clarinet, and trombone form the basis of instrumentation. As the trumpet is the loudest, it normally carries the melody, with the clarinet and trombone improvising above and below the trumpet, respectively. Sidney Bechet, Buddy Bolden, King Oliver, and most famously Louis Armstrong became symbols of the New Orleans red light district, and later to fans in music halls all around the world.

Though Dixieland jazz is today a preserved form of music like classical music, it later spawned Big Band music popular until the end of World War II, and urban jazz, still popular in the US as well as in other countries. To hear the original Dixieland jazz one has only to book a hotel room in the Vieux Carre district of New Orleans anytime of the year. The French and Spanish architecture and laidback lifestyle there is the perfect place to enjoy the upbeat but relaxing sounds of Dixieland jazz. Devotees of jazz pack Preservation Hall, Dixieland Hall, and the night clubs along Bourbon Street to hear their favorite songs. The New Orleans Jazz Club stages many jazz events, as does the city government, such as the International Jazz and Heritage Festival. If you can visit New Orleans only once in your life, though, save it for the world-famous MardiGras. You can then enjoy the best of New Orleans's night life with as many as one million other party revelers!

The city of New Orleans has so much to offer. Its history, unique cultural blend including world-acalaimed cuisines, and, of course, its musical gift to the world, Dixieland jazz, are reasons enough to place New Orleans high on everyone's "must list" of places to visit. Whether you want to travel to relax or join in spirited partying, New Orleans offers the tourist the best of both worlds.


Lesson 31 The Fine Art of Giving 给予的艺术


Ralph is all excited. When his poor wife Lisa comes home after a hard day's work in the office, he enters the living room beaming. "Happy birthday, darling!" he exclaims while thrusting the neatly packed gift at her. Momentarily delighted as she quickly unwraps the package, Lisa murmurs, "Oh, Ralph, I thought you'd forget my birthday again this year. Gee, thanks, sweet..." Her voice trails off as shelifts the cover of the bex to disclose its contents: steak knives. Ralph, still beaming, then pulls the trigger of the rifle aimed at his own foot: "I bought some steaks, so you can use your new birthday gift to get us dinner ready!"

Most women, of course, would use the new knives on Ralph, not the steaks. What did poor Ralph do wrong? He certainly meant well. He noted his wife's birthday carefully, sacrificed time and money to buy a gift on time, and even had the box gift wrapped. Where did he go wrong? Long before Ralph bought the knives, he should have paid more attention to those things Lisa expressed or showed an interest in. While walking or shopping, many people notice things that obviously interest them; this is the time to make a mental note of what those items are for future purchase. While talking, too, many people reveal "wish list" items they dream of having. Noting these tiems and turning them into gifts at a later time, whether for Christmas, birthday, anniversary, graduation, or any other important occasion, distinguishes just another item on a shelf in a department store or in a catalogue from "the perfect gift".

Gifts do not have to be objects. Doing house chores for parents or spouses which normally are "theirs", taking someone out on the twon or wheeling an invalid around the block, or taking the time and effort to create one's own personalized handicraft can bring smiles as wide as those aroused by the giving of expensive presents. Many a child would prefer to have an afternoon at the cinema and an evening in their favorite restaurant with Dad than another of his expensive gifts, some with the price tag still on them! Many parents would rather happily settle for a full day with their children at home or on a picnic than with a mailed check or "Happy Birthday" greeting on their answering machine. Perhaps the expression "Time is money" really is true: time spent with those whom we do not often see is indeed precious. Sacrificing time from one's busy schedule to give to another is often more meaningful than a pricy gift from an upscale department store.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with buying gifts. Everyone has needs, including material needs. Close friends or family members often know what their loved ones need even before they do! Few compliments can make us happier than "you always know what to give me". For those who never seem to know what to prepare for others but who would like to learn, observing the successful giving of gifts to others is as good a place to start as any. In any class, family, or crowd, someone always seems to know the right gift to give at the right time. Making mental notes of these occasions and then writing them down in a special notebook can make the difference between a future present well-received and one politely accepted.

Still, only a social incompetent would criticize or refuse a gift from another. Being gracious even in disappointment is a sign of good manners. Besides, a gift is an expression of thoughtfullness and a token of love. We should never question the judgment of the donor; instead, as we say in English, "It's the thought that counts". Learning to appreciate whatever little surprises life prepares for us is a sure sign of maturity and poise. When the giving of symbols of our appreciation and love to others becomes an art form to the giver, these profound words can be understood: "it's more blessed to give than to receive."


Lesson 32 Professional Telephone Etiquette 职业电话礼貌


"(ring...ring...ring...) Hello?"

"Un, excuse me, but is this Dragon Mountain Trading Complay?"

"Who's calling?"

"Well, I'm Mr. David Parker, and I..."

"What do you want?"

"I'd, uh, like to speak with your manager."

"He's busy. B\Call back later. (click)"

Unfortunately, some companies still have not trained their employees in the professional use of the telephone. The above telephone conversation is not only discourteous, but also hurts business prospects. If Mr. Parker is calling to speak with a number of companies in order to build business relaionships with them, he is not very likely to call Dragon Mountain Trading Company again. To prevent this from happening, those who are reponsible for the conduct of business over the telephone should keep a few simple but important points of telephone etiquette in mind.

The first and most important point concerning the professional use of the telephone is the attitude towards any caller. The telephone is the lifeline of the company with the outside world, and those who call in should be considered potential business prospects. However, customers are not nameless, faceless voices; they are people who enjoy being and deserve to be treated courteously and fairly. Everyone who uses an office telephone should remember that a friendly, helpful, and efficient call can make the difference between success and failure withthe caller. Once this is appreciated, a business office can operate at its full potential.

How can all office workers put the above principle into practice? Several tips on the successful use of the office telephone have been collected from many companies over the years. This advice is timeless and covers all manner of businesses. Companies whose employees use the following telephone etiquette are more likely to keep their clients and attract new customers.

When answering the phone, all employees should identify the company and themselves. In the above hypothetical conversation, the office worker should have answered the call with, "Dragon Trading Company, Janice Wang, speaking." rather than force Mr. Parker to inquire whether or not he had dialed the company telephone number correctly. In some companies, employees will further identify their position within the company, such "Kodak, Michael Chou, sales representative, speaking." or "Great Light Sports Equipment, Frances Chang, personnel director, speaking. May I help you?" and so on. Of course, in larger companies which have automated dialing or an operator, it is often unncessary to state the name of the comany (that has been doen already on the tape or by the operator), but self-identification continues to be helpful, and, thus, important.

As with Frances Chang above, a simple "May I help you?" is enough to invite the caller to state his or her business with the company. However, it is always important to listen carefully to the caller's request. It is possible, for example, that the callee is not the right person for whom the caller is looking; by listening carefully, the callee can respone tot he needs of the customer on the line. Treating caller as routine or even annoying interruptions to one's work is a mistake. If someone outside the company has taken the time to call in, someone inside the company should take the time to respond to it.

If the caller is looking for someone not presently int he office, a message should be taken and tehn repeated over the phone to make sure all the information is correct. If a product or service is unavailable, the caller should be told what possible substitute is available or when the desired item will be back in stock. every effort should be made to please the caller. This extra effort makes a lasting impression, the kind of impression that often results in repeat business. In our conversation above, the callee should have told Mr. Parker when the manager would return to take his call, or offered to take a message for him. Hanging up on the caller is the best way to lose business.

After information has been given or help offered, the call should not be considered finished. Each call is an opportunity to further the interests of the company, as with "We have other fine products. I'd be happy to send you our catalogue." or "Our company can offer additional service. My manager or I would be happy to make an oppointment with you to discuss them." above all, end each conversation with a genuine. (这里书上少了个句号) "Thank you for calling. It's been a pleasure serving you." or other lines to make the customer feel he or she is not being discarded as just another business obligation. Successful calls make customers feel welcome to call again.

Today's world of business if highly competitive. People have not changed, however. They still like to be treated in a friendly and helpful way, even over the telephone. A genuinely friendly and helpful attitude on the pphone, identification of company and callee, offers of help or message taking, promotion of further business opportunities, and leaving the caller with the feeling that he would like to call again seem like insignificant matters. Added up, however, they can make the difference between a company's success and failure in our high-tech but still human world.


Lesson 33 Did you Remember your Tickets? 旅游行前准备


Robert and Michael leave their apartment in a rush and find a taxi to take them to the airport. After paying the driver, Robert turns to Michael and says, "That was close! I thought we'd be late for sure. Come on, now, we have to take our luggage into the terminal and check in at the counter. Right," responds Michael, "did you bring the tickets and our passports? No," answers Robert, "I thought you did!"

This scene could be from a TV sitcom or real-life. Every traveler's nightmare is forgetting something major like tickets, ID, passport, or money. This is needless worry, however, if travel plans are made early and organized efficiently. Since travel for education, business, or pleasure is more and more common, knowing how to prepare for worry-free travel is both important and beneficial. This lesson will help the novice or experienced traveler avoid potential travel problems, allowing for a pleasant journey.

Unless there is an emergency, travel plans should be made well in advance. Never wait till the last minute to try to reserve airline tickets or hotel rooms. They may not be available, or you may be forced to choose an inconvenient or unnecessarily expensive flight or accommodation. The best day to book travel or lodging arrangements is the day you decide to go.

After all travel arrangements have been secured, then next step is to make sure your travel documents are in order. Is your passport valid? Remember that some countries do not accept passports which have less than six months' validity remaining. Do you need an overseas driver's license? These can be applied for at certain government or travel agencies or associations. Leave enough time to process any paperwork that is required. A travel agent or experienced friend or colleague can inform you of what steps need to be taken and how best to take care of them.

Preparing for packing is next. Even if the proposed trip is a month away, certain items should be readied at once. The most important of these is, of course, the luggage itself. Do not wait for a last-minute sale on the suitcase of your choice; be ready with enough good-quality luggage long before you leave for the airport or train station. In choosing baggage, make sure that it is within regulations, especially for air travel. Oversize suitcases or carry-on baggage can be a great headache later.

The rule of thumb for packing is pack less, not more. Most travelers buy at least some items on the road, and some buy quite a few souvenirs or personal items, so leave enough room for them. Keeping a toiletry kit permanently in a piece of luggage is a smart idea. In this way, you will never have to worry about whether your razor or deodorant has been packed. Casual clothing, including footwear, should be placed into bags or suitcases the night before. Formal wear can be packed in the last-minute to reduce wrinkling. Don't worry about taking reading or writing material for pleasure; newspapers and magazines are widely available, as is stationery.

The day before leaving, reserve a cab for the day of departure if needed. This is also the best time to ask a friend or relative for a wake-up call for those leaving early on the day of departure; this is even better than one's own alarm clock. Leave a copy of the itinerary with lodging telephone numbers with a family or friend. Place all travel documents into one briefcase or folder rather tan in several places for ease of checking. After packing each piece of luggage, put it near the door for easy exit. These simple advance steps will help reduce stress on the day of travel.

On the day of departure, the only steps remaining should be to pack one's formal clothing and to recheck one's travel documents and money. Whether for business, education, or pleasure, travel can be an unforgettable experience. Whether you want to remember that experience fondly or try to forget it depends on the few simple steps outlined above. Bon voyage!


Lesson 34 English Small Talk Topics: What is ok and what is not?



"When in Rome, do as the Romans do." What may be perfectly acceptable to talk about in one culture may offend or even shock others when in a different culture. Accordingly, it is important to know what topics are "safe" to discuss with strangers or acquaintances from a different background. Topics which can be discussed freely within a culture are referred to as "small talk".

As with any other language, English has its own stock of non-offensive topics. Among these are the weather, occupation, immediate conditions, family and family life, and school or work. Topics in English which should never be broached include one's personal life, physical appearance (unless complimentary), income, and age as well as religious, sexual, or political views. Each of these topics---both approved and taboo---will be discussed in more detail later.

Small talk is extremely useful when first meeting others. Actually, one purpose of small talk is not to find out the answer to questions like "How are you?" or "Nice day, isn't it?" but rahter to gauge whether the person is the sort whom one would like to know better. While talking about essentially unimportant matters such as the weather, life in the office, or how many children---if any---one has, each speaker has the opportunity to determine whether the other is cooperative, interesting, potentially useful or friendly, etc. If a person answers the inquiry about the weather with a grunt or "I hate sunny days," no further energy need be wasted!

Another purpose of small talk, once a speaker is satisfied that the other person is worth talking with, is to explore possible areas of interest or cooperation. By tactfully going through "safe topics," some information may be revealed which leads the speaker(s) into a deeper discussion, especially when a topic is a shared hobby or interest. Talking about the weather may reveal that one speaker enjoys recreation like camping or hiking. Shooting the breeze about one's family may disclose similar shared family hobbies like board or card games or barbecues and picnics. In other words, small talk may serve as probing of the other person's personality and lifestyle.


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