ESL Teacher, Humor, Lifestyle

Chicken and Candy

My beginning English student told me that he had eaten chicken and candy for dinner.

I hesitated a moment before I clarified that.

Who am I to judge?

Maybe he DID eat chicken and candy for dinner.

It sounds like great comfort food.

A few shots of whiskey would make an excellent dessert pairing.

I was very disappointed to find out, on questioning him, that he had actually eaten chicken and vegetables for dinner.

I am now rethinking my own dinner plans for tonight.
ESL Teacher, Lifestyle, Toastmasters, Video Conference

Six Tips to Improve Your Video Conference

I work online, and I do video conferencing every day. Now that we are well into our quarantine, and we are all communicating online, I want to give six tips to improve your video conference.


Make sure your camera is at eye level. If it is anywhere else, it is going to give an odd perspective. If your laptop is set up on a low coffee table, it is looking up at you, and your audience sees you distorted. They see huge knees. They see up your nose. They see the underside of your chin. Perhaps they are even getting a crotch shot. A downward view is equally distorting. Raise or lower your camera so your image is at eye level.


Position the top of your head to the top and center of the screen and make sure your image covers more than 50% of the screen. Stay there for the entire conference. To keep yourself from skooching down, sit in a secretary chair or a wooden dining room chair. Chairs with arms and upholstered furniture lend themselves to slouching on camera. Check yourself often so that you continue to sit up straight and occupy more than 50% of the screen.


Do not put your back to a window. You will be seen in silhouette.


Keep your background clean and clear. A blank wall is best. If you don’t have a blank wall, then position your camera for a close up shot so that your face takes up most of the screen. This will lessen the distraction of the background.


Sit still. If you use a standing desk, stand still. The camera doesn’t know what to focus on when you are moving about. I have seen many people on video calls this week with their bookcase in focus rather than their face because they are moving around, and the camera doesn’t know where to focus.

  1. SOUND

Mute yourself when you are not speaking. Small sounds that you don’t notice in person can be heard by everyone else. Keyboarding, finger tapping and dogs yapping are all very loud on the mic, even if they are not loud in person.

Let me know if these six tips to improve your video conference have been helpful.

ESL Teacher, Humor, Lifestyle, Writer

Online English Class

Today I had sound problems in my online English class.

The students couldn’t hear me.

I could hear them.

And they could hear each other.

But they couldn’t hear me.

They could read my chats, so I set them up with an exercise, and I contacted the tech guy for help with the sound.

He said that he couldn’t hear me.


That’s my problem, I told him via the chat box.

No one can hear me.

Can you please help me fix my sound?

I can’t hear you, he repeated.

Ah, now I understand the problem.

The tech guy could use an online English class himself.

ESL Teacher, Humor, Lifestyle, Mostly True Memoirs, Writer

Allergy Medication



When I take my allergy medication, I don’t sleep well.

When I don’t take my allergy medication, I can’t breathe.


It’s a tough choice.

I haven’t been taking my allergy medication lately.

I really do need to sleep.

But this morning my nose wouldn’t stop running.

I teach English on line.

I need my voice to be clear.

I need to be able to teach pronunciation properly.

Today we studied the /zh/ sound.

As in treasure, casual, vision…

You can’t pronounce /zh/ properly when you are congested.

I don’t want my students to learn English with a cold accent.

I took an allergy pill.

I may regret it later.

But the lesson went well, so there’s that.

ESL Teacher, Humor, Mostly True Memoirs, Writer

The Imperative Form

Today I had an online student with barking dogs in the background.

I asked him to please quiet the dogs because they were distracting.

I muted his microphone a couple of times, telling him that we couldn’t hear him over the dogs.

I did want to give him every possible opportunity to participate.

But I couldn’t let his dogs distract the rest of the class.

Finally, one of other students said,

“Shut those damn dogs up!”

Well said, English student, well said.

Excellent example of an imperative sentence.

ESL Teacher, Humor, Mostly True Memoirs

Statue of Liberty

My beginning English conversation student from Vietnam

told me that he wants to visit the United States.

He wants to see the “Freedom Woman on the River.”

The Statue of Liberty has now been renamed.

In my mind anyway.

That was the cutest thing ever.

I didn’t tell my student it was cute.

He’s a cardiac surgeon.

Cute would not have gone over very well.

Dog, ESL Teacher, Family, Home, Mostly True Memoirs, T1Diabetes, Toastmasters, Writer

From Facebook to Blogging

Facebook is easy.

We’re already friends.

I don’t have to explain myself.

I write my goofy stories.

And everyone knows what I’m talking about.

I don’t have to explain a thing.

Blogging is different.

People don’t know me.

I have to explain.

But explaining ruins the rhythm of the story.

It’s kind of like explaining a joke.

If you have to explain it, it’s not funny.

So I will write this first post to introduce myself.

After that, I’ll just write.

I am a mom,

and an empty nester.

I have two grown sons.

Both of my children are diabetic.

Diabetes is a nightmare.

But it is also our completely new-normal status.

I have a wonderful husband.

Who fixes things around the house and generally makes himself useful.

And is occasionally the subject of some hilarious stories.

I have a dog.

She is lazy but very cute and cuddly.

The family is often reminded that the dog is my favorite child.

I teach English as a Second Language

to adults, on line, around the world.

I am a Toastmaster.

A Distinguished Toastmaster.

Being a Toastmaster has definitely made me a better English teacher.

I love to write.

I’ve been reading and writing as long as I can remember.

My favorite toys, when I was a kid, were my books, a spiral notebook and a pencil.

A pencil, not a pen.

I’ve always preferred a pencil.

I was born and raised in Southern California.

We recently moved halfway across the country to Texas.

This move was not nearly as traumatic as I anticipated.

I have made lots of new friends in Texas.

I am keeping touch with my old friends through social media.

I plan on making lots of new friends through blogging.

Why am I starting this blog?

Because I’m tired of Facebook.

I’m tired of all of the ads.

I’m tired of all of the political wrangling.

I’m tired of the algorhythms that may or may not be connecting me with the people I want to be connected with.

I want to control my own platform.

I want to control my own intellectual property.

Although I use the term “intellectual” loosely.

Why do I write?

Because, to quote someone whose name I can’t recall, but I don’t want to be accused of plagiarism,

“I write because I can’t not write.”