Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I like the way banks are concerned about their customers' safety

Today I had a phone call from my bank. They said they had blocked my card. I was taken aback for a second. However, the man said that they did it because of the suspicious transaction that had appeared on my card. He said he wanted to ask me some questions before making the final decision of reissuing my card.
Below is my dialogue with the bank manager:
- Could you name your secret word?
- Yes, if I haven’t changed it should be .....
- Yes, right.
- So, the reason we have blocked your card is because there is a particular transaction that made us alert. Let’s go through all of the transactions on your card for the last month.
- Ok.
- Well…the payment of XXX rubles made to… Do you confirm it?
- Yes, I do.
- Then goes the transaction that actually raised our concern and made us block your card. It was done through ATM. It was the balance inquiry.
- Through ATM of which bank was it done? Bank of ….?
- Yes, it is.
- Yes, I remember I did make a balance inquiry but I cannot remember what the reason was for.
- So, you did this inquiry?
- Yes, I confirm it.
- Ok. That’s everything we wanted to know. We are going to unblock your card. You should be able to use it within ten minutes. Thank you.
- Thank you.

After a while I thought that this call might be a good candidate for my blog to practice every day spoken language...
I think if it were happening in an English environment I doubt I would be able to speak fluently. There would be a lot of stuttering and pauses in my speech.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Do you think that it is wrong for people to drink alcohol and then
drive? Do you think they should be punished?

There have been a lot of complaints that the road accidents are increasing and the statistics clearly proves it. Many people die because of the reckless driving behavior of those who drive the car after taking some alcohol. I think this inappropriate attitude towards the safety of others should be punished according to the law.

First of all, such irresponsible deeds should not be tolerated. People who drink and then drive are not concerned about other people. Drunk drivers are not able to think clearly. Their brain cannot process the information properly and there is a huge risk that this may result in an accident. For instance, they may think they are driving in the right direction while actually they are using the wrong lane.

Secondly, drunk drivers are the real threat to the people around them because there are so many factors that they may not asses or react quickly. In case of bad weather conditions drunk drivers may cause a disaster when their slow reaction leads to deplorable outcomes. It happens all the time. A drunk driver being unable to evaluate the distance correctly hits another car creating chaos on the road and leaving many people injured or even dead.

In addition, it is necessary for the government to intervene. Such rules as suspension of the drunk drivers’ licenses for a certain period of time should be implemented. Many people drive their own car on a regular basis and cannot run their errands effectively without a car. Therefore, such a punishment may be very helpful in making people aware of the road safety. Not so many drivers would like to have their driver’s license suspended.

In summary, people should understand that it is absolutely wrong to use car in a state of being drunk. They must hold a responsibility for drunk driving and the law should be made clear about that.

Let's see the results now...

It was hard as usual but at least I managed to answer all the questions. Let's wait for the results. However, I will register for another test. Just in case. But why they've increased the price for Russia? It was $185. Now, it costs $225!!!

Anyway, I think it would be better to separate the speaking section from the whole test. As it once was. It was called TSE (Test of Spoken English). In that case you wouldn't need to spend all that money and retake the sections you are already good at.

I also think that it's not the best idea that the most difficult part of the test comes at the end of the exam when you've gone through the never-ending reading section and endless listening one and a bit tired trying not to lose the concentration when it's especially needed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Some fun...

One more way to English fluency

These are some sentences taken from the article I came across on www.inosmi.ru. I did the following:
1. I read the Russian sentence and then tried to translate it into English.
2. Then I compared my translation to the original sentence in English and pasted the original sentence (they are in square brackets) directly below my variant of translation.

It’s hard work but I find it helpful in polishing up my English.

These are the links to both Russian and original articles:

Earlier this month the president Barack Obama visited Moscow and reached a provisional agreement to reduce the number of nuclear and conventional weapons by both sides.
[Earlier this month, President Barack Obama visited Moscow and signed a preliminary agreement aimed at getting both countries to reduce their nuclear and conventional weapons systems.]

But the Russians, meanwhile, are playing a tricky game.
[But the Russians are playing a clever game.]

Their reduction proposal will not have impact to their defense in anyway.
[The "cuts" they propose wouldn't actually affect their defenses at all.]

Obama promised that USA would reduce the number of their strategic carriers, which are capable of getting both nuclear and conventional charges, up to 500-1100 (according to the current deal, USA can have 1600 carriers).
[Obama has promised that the U.S. will reduce its number of strategic force launchers -- the systems that deliver both nuclear and conventional weapons -- to between 500 and 1,100 (the United States is permitted 1,600 launchers under a current treaty).]

Moscow has also promised the same but it means a little since the number of Russian rockets will be diminishing without even any treaty.
[Moscow matched that commitment, but that's not saying much, since the number of Russian weapons is going to plummet with or without a treaty.]

By 2017-2018 Russia most likely will have less than half of its 680 working launchers, which it currently has, - said Keith Payne – Russia, which GDP is even lower than that of California, is facing the dilemma: how to keep up with the USA taking into account its deteriorating strategic launchers.
["By 2017-2018 Russia will likely have fewer than half of the approximately 680 operational launchers it has today," arms control expert Keith Payne recently testified before Congress. "With a gross domestic product less than that of California, Russia is confronting the dilemma of how to maintain parity with the U.S. while retiring its many aged strategic forces."]

Obviously, the pawns to sacrifice – weapons that do not even exist or not operational – is a good way in exchange to America’s reduction of essential weapons.
[One way, of course, is to sacrifice some pawns -- the non-existent or inoperable weapons -- to take out vital American weapons.]

In short, the Russians have agreed to cut their launchers which they will have to dismantle anyway.
[In short, the Russians agreed to "cut" weapons they were going to have to retire anyway.]

The Russians do not conceal the fact about the state of their arsenals.
[The Russians haven't made their declining stockpiles much of a secret.]

According to Payne, the commander of Russian missile army Nicolay Sokolovcev said in an interview to Moscow news agency Interfax that under the agreement made by Russian leaders, no one missile that had not reached use-by date would not be dismantled.
[Payne notes that Nikolay Solovtsov, the man in charge of Russian missiles, recently told Moscow Interfax-AVN Online that "not a single Russian launcher" with "remaining service life" would be withdrawn under the agreement reached with Russian leaders.]

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hope it will never happen!

This article - http://www.bfm.ru/news/2009/07/23/skajp.html - makes me feel that these people are not able to see a situation from a broad perspective. Their greed makes them blind. If they really do this - let mobile operators and Internet providers take control over Skype and ICQ - they are going to end up with millions disappointed users who will stop using Skype and ICQ and switch to alternative instant messengers. Who will win?

What's next? E-mail???

Round 4...

I am going for TOEFL. I haven’t rescheduled my exam - my 4th attempt. I am very determined to pass it this time but when I think about speaking part of the test I feel fear shivering down my spine. I hope that there will be no any puzzling speaking questions that make me freeze up and stare hopelessly at the screen :); like this one – “Talk about an event from the past that you would like to relive.” However, I have worked through such type of questions. But you can never be sure what the test makers have come up with and what a surprise they have for you :)
Yesterday, I met with my brother’s wife. She came over to Moscow for a couple of weeks to settle some issues with their flat. She said that Dasha (their daughter) did not want to speak Russian. She says that it’s much more convenient for her to use English. She sometimes doesn’t even use the endings correctly, which is not good, of course. However, I wish I had such a total immersion in English…

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Last week I had a talk with one of my colleges at work. He told me that his friend’s father (who is a colonel in army) offered him to come over to an army base to see military exercises. Moreover, he told him that it was going to be a good chance to drive a tank, try out a submachine gun or throw grenades. I was a bit surprised and asked him how it might be possible for an ordinary person to be there and use the military equipment and ammo that are supposed to be used only by military personnel. I also asked what would happen if the top generals learned somehow that his friend’s father let a civil person enter the place intended solely for military staff and use the ammo…

Monday, July 20, 2009

Today I am going to answer sixteen TOEFL speaking questions. I feel that I really need to answer all the questions I have found on the Internet because they seem to be quite similar to the real TOEFL ones.
I am still not sure whether I should reschedule my test or push my luck. However, luck is the last thing one should count on when dealing with this test. :) Actually, it doesn’t work at all in this case. But I am tired of my incessant attempts to pass this terrible exam. I have tried it 3 times already with moderate outcomes. :( I also think that I have invested too much time in preparing for the TOEFL while GMAT is even harder and actually more important for admission. However, I need at least 100 score on the TOEFL. My current 86 doesn’t look impressive at all. Given the fact that the competition is going to be fierce because many people who lost the job have decided to go back to school, it does make sense not to be satisfied with anything that lower 100 and work harder. Worker bees get the honey. :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Today I was on my way to the swimming pool when I was exiting from the subway station and witnessed a woman whose right heel of one of her high-heeled shoes got stuck in a kind of gully grating. A policeman that was standing not far from her noticed it and said.
-You’d better watch your steps. You should have kept your heels high above.
  • As I could notice she was a bit embarrassed as well as frightened to broke that high-heel of the shoe. As I could tell she was a bit embarrassed as well as frightened to have broken the heel of her shoe. I do not know what happened next and how much time passed before she managed to free herself from the trap. I just went past her hurrying up to get to my destination.
    Maybe I am exaggerating and making a mountain out of a molehill but that case made me think that very often people stand just like that policeman saying their banal and pseudosympathetic words that do not help at all. We like to be on the safe side watching someone’s disaster from our vantage point and feeling deep inside that we should be thankful to our fate for being so lucky in comparison to others – others who need our genuine help; not the patronizing attitude which actually gives nothing but makes the situation even worse.
  • Saturday, July 18, 2009

    My name is Dmitri. I have created this blog for improving my English language skills. It is intended for being used as a study aid in polishing my English. I am going to write about anything that comes to my mind on a regular basis. My aim is to achieve the necessary fluency so that I would be able to describe any topic I want to using a perfect and grammatically correct English. These topics may include my own life, my traveling or language learning experiences, local news etc.

    Currently, I am having some problems with writing and speaking (speaking is without a doubt my primary issue). The lack of memorized language constructions for expressing my thoughts (as I call it) often makes me think too much when I want to say or write something in English. I hope that this blog will be a great way of developing the fluidity of thoughts as well as getting rid of grammar mistakes I am still making.