Archive for » July, 2010 «

Automotive history: Citroen Deux Chevaux (2cv)

I described the Citroen Deux Chevaux as half an egg and an engine because in profile, that is what it looks like to me. It also has to be one of the great automotive designs of all time. In terms of putting Europe on wheels, it is in the company of the original Volkswagen Beetle, the original Austin Mini, and the Renault 4. Of these, only the Beetle, commissioned by Adolf Hitler and designed by Ferdinand Porsche, (yes, that one) ever made much of a showing in North America, but the others are arguably more interesting designs. By the way, I am almost certain Dr. Porsche was not a Nazi, and his original design became the basic layout of all those legendary sports cars.

Pierre Boulanger was head of Citroen before the Second World War, when the project first was shaped. It did not see production until 1948, and by the end of the run, more than five million had been sold. The design requirements, since the 2CV was targeted at farmers who needed cheap, practical wheels, were that a man could sit in it while wearing a hat, that it could hold a bale of hay, and also carry long loads of lumber as well as passengers. To call the bodywork basic is an understatement, an absolute minimalist yet very practical bit of work. Fold-down, bolt on fenders, headlights on stalks, (but adjustable from within the car) and a roll top roof made of canvas. This was actually intended to allow awkward loads to be carried, but certainly was fun in nice weather.

The suspension was ingenious, with long travel for an amazing ride, and had only two springs for its four-wheel independent suspension. The original car had nine horsepower, and must have weighed less than eight hundred pounds. It was front wheel drive, with an air-cooled two-cylinder engine.

My most notable times driving a Deux Chevaux were one summer in Belgium. My then girlfriend owned a 1972 model, which I think had around twenty-eight horsepower. It weighed around twelve hundred pounds, amazingly light for any car, and that two cylinder never complained about being run hard all day. Getting across Brussels during rush hour involved a lot of rowing the gearshift lever, but the dents and mismatched paint gave it a take no prisoners appearance which made those in pristine Peugeots and the like quite willing to share the road.

Once we drove it to Austria, up and down those twisting alpine roads, and while it was slow, it was not a rolling roadblock to other traffic. Downhill, there was nothing faster. The thing leaned over so far in corners it felt like your elbow would brush the pavement, but actual grip was very good, on super-skinny Michelin X tyres. The dashboard mounted shifter worked fine, and on the Cote D’Azure, that roll back roof made for some wonderful cruising, especially on moonlit nights. The seats could be removed and used as picnic chairs. Fuel mileage, overall, was about fifty miles per gallon. The UK version apparently even qualified as a low emissions vehicle in the late seventies.

Cheap to buy and operate, practical, roomy, with all the benefits that come from lightweight design. What could be better? This was not a minicar, but a full four seater with legroom to spare. Deux Chevaux have competed in some of the world’s toughest rallies and endurance events. They even race the things on road circuits in England and elsewhere. With modified engines putting out 35-45 horsepower, they can do about 150 kph on a long straight. I’ve seen one of these events, and the competition is furious. There are 2CV clubs, competitions and shows all over the world. In our country try Citroen Autoclub Canada.

There is not a car manufacturer today that could not learn from this design.

Rising to the Linguistic Challenge

 

 

by Philip Yaffe

 

 

This is a story about a young man growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950s. He was a bit strange for a Californian of that epoch. He of course loved surfing, but he loved mathematics and physics even more. His dream from a very young age was to go to university and get a science degree. And that’s what he did.

 

 

In 1960 he enrolled at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). At that time (I imagine it is still the case), in addition to their choosing a major, university students were required to take so-called “cross curriculum” classes in other disciplines. In particular, at UCLA everyone was required to study a language.

 

 

This young man chose German because it was a language of science. This was a mistake. Not only is German a very difficult language compared to English, it is almost impossible to learn any language if you are exposed to it only in the classroom. This of course is the case in the United States, and in particular at that time English was so dominate that outside the classroom you would never hear German, or virtually any other language. Spanish in California was of course an exception; however, in the 1960s it was no where near as important as it is today.

 

 

Although the professor insisted that “Sie werden Deutsch lernen!” (You will learn German), our young man was not so certain. “Particle physics and differential topology are not easy subjects, but German is impossible. I spend more time and effort on this class and get less out of it than any other class I have.”

 

 

The professor of course was wrong. The young man didn’t learn German, and probably neither did anyone else. All he knew was that he was extremely relieved when the course was finished.

 

 

When he graduated, the young man joined the Peace Corps, the U.S. government organization established by President Kennedy to send volunteers to Third World countries to help them with their nation building. The young man was assigned to Tanzania in East Africa. As part of their preparation, all volunteers heading to Tanzania were required to study Swahili, the national language, three hours a day, six days a week for nine weeks.

 

 

“At last a language I will actually be able to use!” the young man exulted. So he really threw himself into it. He intensely studied every aspect of Swahili, grammar, vocabulary, syntax, diction, idiomatic expressions, etc. He was unquestionably the best student in the class.

 

 

When the volunteers got to Dar es Salaam, then the Tanzanian capital, four of them were put on a train and sent to posts in the middle of the country. At each stop, vendors swarmed around the train to sell bananas, tangerines, oranges and other local produce. With some difficulty, the young man was able to speak to the vendors, but he couldn’t understand their replies.

 

 

One of the other members of the group had unquestionably been the poorest Swahili student. At the end of the nine weeks, she could barely say “hujambo” (hello), yet somehow she understood what the vendors were saying. So the young man would speak, the vendors would reply, she would translate, and he would speak again.

 

 

“But this makes no sense. How can you understand them when I can’t?” he asked. “I don’t know,” she replied. “I guess I just listen to what they are saying.” Suddenly, he realized that his approach to languages had been academic, not practical. He was listening for conjugations, singulars and plurals, inverted verbs and other grammatical constructs, but not to what people were actually saying.

 

 

Once he recognized this, his progress was blindingly rapid. Within a very few weeks, he found that he was no longer translating through English. He was actually thinking and speaking directly in Swahili.

 

 

“It was like being released from prison. I saw my cell door swinging open and my mind being set free to fly out. I could literally feel my brain expanding!” the young man explains.

 

 

He now lives in Belgium and has gone on to master French, has a working knowledge of Dutch and German, and is currently turning his attention to Spanish.

 

 

“You know,” he says, “I used to be jealous of people who learned other languages as a child, not as an adult. But now I’m not so certain. I was 24 before I learned a second language. It wasn’t easy; in fact it was excruciatingly difficult. However, I had an experience that people who grow up speaking other languages cannot even begin to imagine. Looking back on it, I don’t think I would really want to change that.”

 

 

I was that young man. I am no longer so young; all of this happened more than 40 years ago. Having had four decades to reflect on it, I am now convinced that this life-altering experience firmly demonstrated two things.

 

 

First, under the proper circumstances, anyone can learn to speak other languages. Having grown up in a country as big as a continent with a single dominant language, I had fallen victim to the idea that learning other languages required high intelligence and/or special gifts. I am extremely happy to have discovered otherwise.

 

 

Secondly, I believe that the way languages are taught in the U.S. is all wrong. The objective of teaching students to speak the language is manifestly false. They won’t, because in most cases opportunities to use the language are lacking. Pursuing this objective therefore only demoralizes students and turns them against language learning per se.

 

 

American educators need to recognize that the best they can do is to acquaint students with a language and lay a foundation for them to rapidly start speaking it if they ever find themselves in a place where the language is actually spoken.

 

 

Language courses should teach basic grammar passively, i.e. so that students can easily recognize verb conjugations, singulars and plurals, formal and familiar pronouns, etc., then concentrate on helping students to comfortably read in the language, e.g. newspapers, magazines, novels, etc. If students know how to read a language, once they finish the course they might continue reading it, thus keeping their knowledge grammar and vocabulary fresh and ready to use should the opportunity ever arise.

 

 

Under current conditions, the moment they leave compulsory language courses, most students immediately forget whatever it is they might have learned, so everything is lost.

 

 

My own experience demonstrates the value of this approach. When I had mastered Swahili — and realized that I could master any other language I wanted to — I decided to try my hand at French. With some effort, I taught myself to read French while still living in Tanzania. When I returned to Los Angeles, I continued reading newspapers, magazines, and novels in French, so five years later when I moved to Belgium, I began speaking it almost immediately.

 

 

I am currently doing the same thing with Spanish. I have essentially no opportunity to speak Spanish in Belgium, but I now read it almost fluently. I occasionally spend a week on vacation to Spain. Each time I do, it takes only one or two days for my mind to switch to Spanish mode, so that I can begin speaking. Not fluently, but enough to get around. I am certain that if I were to spend a month or so in Spain, I would rapidly approach fluency.

 

 

Philip Yaffe is a former reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal and a marketing communication consultant. He currently teaches a course in good writing and good speaking in Brussels, Belgium. His recently published book In the “I” of the Storm: the Simple Secrets of Writing & Speaking (Almost) like a Professional is available from Story Publishers in Ghent, Belgium (storypublishers.be) and Amazon (amazon.com).

For further information, contact:

Philip Yaffe
Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0)2 660 0405
phil.yaffe@yahoo.com, phil.yaffe@gmail.com

 

 

How to Anticipate the Unexpected

 

by Philip Yaffe

According to the adage, “Travel is broadening”. In other words, when you leave your home and go somewhere else, your mind will expand because of the differences you will see. For me, the most valuable, mind-expanding differences are not the big ones that you might be prepared for by reading and education. They the little things that you would never even consider, so that they take you completely by surprise.

When I was growing up in Los Angeles, I never traveled because my parents were small business owners and had no time to go away for vacation. I was in fact 16 years old the first time I set foot outside of Southern California. After 10 years of planning and disappointments, we finally drove across the country to visit relatives who lived in a small town in Maine.

A few days before our departure, I came down with a severe case of mononucleosis. This illness makes you incredibly weak and constantly tired, so all you want to do is sleep. We just about decided not to go, but since it was a trip we had been planning for decade, we decided to give it a try.

After three days on the road (I had spent most of the time sleeping on the back seat), we arrived in St. Louis, where we also had relatives. St. Louis is on the Mississippi River and this was early July. If you know anything about St. Louis, you know it is an excellent place not to be in summer. It was extremely hot and extremely humid. However, since this was the first time — and probably the last time — I would ever see these relatives, I spent the next four days touring the city, picnicking, swimming, playing tennis, and engaging in a host of other strenuous activities.

Within a half-hour after leaving St. Louis, I completely collapsed and slept almost constantly the next two days before arriving in New York. The four days in St. Louis were a revelation. Before arriving, I could hardly move; after leaving I could hardly move. But while there, I was active beyond all expectations. I simply had never imagined just how much a person can actually achieve through sheer desire and will power.

A couple of weeks later, we were visiting with my Aunt and Uncle in Maine. One day my brother and I were walking around the town just to see what it looked like. We went into a local supermarket. Our attention was drawn to a big display of watermelons. Two things struck us. First, they didn’t look like the watermelons we had in California. Instead of being big and oval, they were long and sausage-like. But the real shocker was the price. You will have to adjust the figures; after all, this was a half-century ago (1958). The sign said 10 cent a pound. My brother let out a cry of dismay. “Ten cents a pound! That’s robbery!”

A man who was standing a short distance away came over and asked him, “Tell me son, where are you from?” “California.” “And what do you pay for watermelons this time of year?” “Oh, about 2 cents a pound, sometimes 1 cent a pound.”

The man looked my brother straight in the eyes and said, “Little boy, you’re lying to me. You’re lying. You’re lying”. It was a case of total incomprehension. The man simply couldn’t believe how cheap watermelons were in California. And we simply couldn’t believe how expensive they were in Maine.

However, the pièce de résistance of my revelations happened a few days later. We were on a lake, swimming, boating and barbequing when a thunder storm broke. Everyone ran into the house to get out of the rain. Everyone but me. I was transfixed, literally rooted to the spot. I stood there with the rain pouring down on me for what seemed like several minutes before I too finally ran into the house.

Why this strange reaction?

You need to understand that in Los Angeles, it is normal that not a single drop of rain falls in the city from about the first of May until the end of September. Because it was the only thing I had ever experienced, I grew up believing the word “summer” literally meant “hot and dry”. It was August, and it was raining! To me, this was against nature. It was like the sun one day suddenly rising in the west and setting in the east, rather than rising in the east and setting in the west as it had always done.

When I got back to Los Angeles, I was a changed person. Being a scientist by nature — I loved mathematics and physics — I was naturally skeptical about things. But I had not fully realized just how much there was to be skeptical about. Having experienced somewhere else, I better understood that things that seem normal and natural in one environment can be bizarre and unnatural in another.

This revelation has served me well ever since. It certainly helped me a few years later when I spent two-and-a-half years in Tanzania, in the East African bush. This was an environment not only different from Los Angeles, but different almost beyond imagination. I virtually lived in a mud hut, suffered through a drought, saw leprosy, and contracted both malaria and dysentery.

But the most surprising thing was, Tanzania had a one-party socialist government. Being a devout believer in multi-party, free enterprise democracy, this was an anathema to me. However once on site, I discovered that Tanzania’s one-party, socialist state not only worked, but for this poor developing country, this “bizarre” form of government was absolutely necessary.

The world is full of unexpected things. The best way to deal with them is to “anticipate the unexpected”. In others words, we must always be prepared to examine something that surprises us before criticizing or rejecting it. Otherwise, we are likely to make some serious mistakes of judgment.

I think the importance of this lesson was best summed up by a country preacher in the American Deep South. In his distinctive southern drawl, he once told his congregation: “It ain’t what you don’t know that causes problems. It’s what you do know that just ain’t so.” Amen.

Philip Yaffe is a former reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal and a marketing communication consultant. He currently teaches a course in good writing and good speaking in Brussels, Belgium. His recently published book In the “I” of the Storm: the Simple Secrets of Writing & Speaking (Almost) like a Professional is available from Story Publishers in Ghent, Belgium (storypublishers.be) and Amazon (amazon.com).

For further information, contact:

Philip Yaffe
Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0)2 660 0405
phil.yaffe@yahoo.com, phil.yaffe@gmail.com

Travel Europe – Amsterdam Travel

So you are thinking for a travel to Amsterdam. Well, before you opt for a travel, I guess it is nice for you to know first some of the basic facts about Amsterdam, especially the mode of transportation. It is best that you know how to get there and how to get around for an ultimate Amsterdam travel.

Getting There

Amsterdam is actually accessible by air, by bus or by train, depending on your exact location.

By Air:

Note that when you go for your Amsterdam travel by air, the flights to the city usually arrive in the Schiphol Airport, which is approximately 18 kilometers away, southwest of the city center. From the Schiphol airport, the trains typically leave for Central Station every 20 minutes and so the journey takes 20 minutes. Then, from the Central Station, you’ll get to have a taxi ride to town which takes approximately 15 minutes and the journey will cost you approximately €30. However, the cost actually depends on which part of the town you are going to.

Also important to consider when you prefer to take your Amsterdam travel by air is that some budget airlines are starting to fly to Rotterdam Airport, which is approximately one hour from the city via bus.

By Train:

As mentioned earlier, you can take your Amsterdam travel by train as there are domestic and international trains that travel going to Amsterdam. They typically arrive in the Central Station, which is located in the heart Amsterdam’s city center.

By Bus:

The buses arriving and leaving from the city of Amsterdam do so from Amstel Station. This station is actually linked to Centraal Station by metro. And, the buses leaving for London, Brussels, and Amsterdam’s other cities depart from the Amstel Station.

Getting Around

On your Amsterdam travel, note that you can stroll around the city on foot, by bike, by tram, or by bus or metro, as these are the usual mode of transportation around the city.

On Foot:

Actually, the central part of Amsterdam city is just easy to get around. However, most of what is within apart from the Red Light District and Dam Square, most of what there is to see is a short tram or bike ride away.

By Bike:

Here is a great tip for your Amsterdam travel: the best way to see the entire city of Amsterdam is to travel by bike. Today, there are more than 500,000 bikes in the city. As such, you can hire one of them for about €7 per day. Perhaps the most important thing to consider is to lock your bike, as bike theft is a huge problem in Amsterdam.

By Bus/Metro:

Both the tram and metro are useful for your ultimate Amsterdam travel. These are highly useful if you are traveling outskirts, but otherwise you probably won’t need to use them. In Amsterdam, there are two metro stations, at the Nieuwmarkt and Waterlooplein, while the bus stops are not as sparse.

By Tram:

Finally, you can take your Amsterdam travel by tram, the most important mode of public transport in the Dutch capital. In the city, there are 15 different lines and they are the backbone of the city’s public transport network. Just note that the best tram for your Amsterdam travel is No.20, which stops close to most of the tourist attractions.

Can Learning Languages Help You Better Understand Science and Technology?

by Philip Yaffe

“I was 24 years old when I first began thinking and speaking in a foreign language. It was like being released from prison. I saw my cell door swinging open and my mind flying free. That was over 40 years ago, but the picture is as fresh now as if it had just happened.”

I am a linguistic iconoclast. Throughout my life (I am now in my seventh decade), I have heard the mantra that learning a foreign language gives you invaluable insights into the cultures of the people who speak it. I don’t believe it.

In addition to my native English (I grew up in Southern California), I have become fluent in two other languages and have a good working knowledge of three more. I doubt that all this effort has given me any insights into the cultures of the people who speak these languages. At least no insights that I couldn’t have acquired more easily in 30 – 60 minutes by reading a well-written essay or in a few hours by attending well-crafted social-cultural lectures.

By contrast, I have acquired a deeper understanding of science.

What does science have to do with language? Actually, very little. But it has a lot to do with flexible thinking. And this is where science and language learning converge.

Contrary to the common belief, science is not about certainty but rather uncertainty. Good scientists are always looking for what has been overlooked, i.e. they are always searching for surprises and welcome them when they happen. They know that moment we believe a phenomenon is “natural” and must be that way, or that it is “unnatural” and cannot be that way, we are either heading for trouble or missing out on something important.

For example, Albert Einstein investigated the “unnatural” belief that a beam of light in space must always have the same velocity; other scientists had spent decades trying to disprove this. He wanted to see where this “unnatural” might lead. In fact, it lead to e = mc², the formula for atomic energy, and transformed the world.

It is not necessary to be a genius like Einstein (who spoke German, French, Italian and English), or even a scientist at all, in order to profit from the mind-stretching benefits of learning foreign languages. In our daily lives we all make assumptions about how the world works; often we are not even aware that we are making them. And that’s the danger. If we are insensitive to our assumptions, we are almost certain to end up believing things that aren’t true and refusing to believe things that are true.

Learning languages can help correct this parlous state of affairs. How? Quite simply, because nowhere else are our assumptions more rapidly and forcefully challenged by other assumptions about what is or isn’t natural that are equally valid.

Here are some simple examples.

1; Trailing Adjectives

It is “natural” to put adjectives before a noun, e.g. “an unidentified flying object”. Well not really. Many languages put adjectives after the noun, e.g. “un objet volant non-identifie”. You could argue the “naturalness” of these conflicting practices both ways. In English, we prefer to describe something before identifying what it is, as if to build up the suspense. In French, they prefer to identify what it is first and describe it afterwards. Who is right?

2. Optional Pronouns

English speakers take it for granted that constructing a sentence requires a subject and a verb. The subject can be either a proper noun (John talks) or a pronoun (He talks). If you have any acquaintance with Spanish, you know that in this language the pronoun is usually not necessary. You would still say “Juan habla” (John talks); however, in most cases you would simply say “Habla” for “He talks”. In fact, if you use a pronoun where it isn’t required (“El habla”), you would be committing a serious error.

3. No Distinction between Male and Female

English speakers learning French are often puzzled by the language’s apparent inability to distinguish between male and female. For example, “This is his book” and “This is her book” in French are both “C’est son livre”. The possessive adjective “son” means both “his” and “her”. If it is absolutely necessary to distinguish between “his” book and “her” book, there is a way of doing so. However, it is employed only when absolutely necessary.

But isn’t it always absolutely necessary? It seems so unnatural not to specify whether the book’s owner is male or female. Isn’t this fundamental information?

It may seem so, but it isn’t. By the same logic, it should be fundamental information to distinguish between male and female when saying “This is their book”, but we don’t. “This is your book” can be either male, female, or both, but we never specify. Even “This is my book” can be either male or female, but again we don’t specify.

Having grown up speaking only English, you probably have never noticed this inconsistency in the language. Neither had I. I simply knew that is was “natural” to distinguish between his and her book, until a Frenchman asked me why. I couldn’t tell him.

4. Inclusive and Explicit Forms of “You”

In English, we have only one way of saying “you”, which covers all situations. Many languages have several ways of saying it, notably the “formal you” and the “familiar you”. English used to have a familiar “you” (thou), but it has essentially disappeared. But in French and Spanish, for example, it is still widely used, making speakers of these languages feel that English is somehow “incomplete”.

Spanish speakers are particularly poorly served. In their language, not only do they have a formal and familiar “you”, they have them both in the singular and plural. In other words, in Spanish there are four ways of saying “you”: formal singular (one person), familiar singular (one person), formal plural (several persons), familiar plural (several persons). For Spanish speakers, having these four options is natural and necessary; not having them in English is unnatural and constricting.

5. Exclusive and Explicit Verb Forms

English has very few verb forms. For example, in the present tense we say “I cook”, “You cook”, “He cooks”, “She cooks”, “We cook”, “They cook”. In other words, there are only two forms of the verb, “cook” and “cooks”, depending on whom we are talking about. In the past tense English has only one verb form, e.g. “I cooked”, “You cooked”, “He cooked”, “She cooked”, “We cooked”, “They cooked”. Likewise in the future tense; everyone “will cook”.

In other languages this is quite unnatural, because they use distinct forms for each different person being talked about. For example, in French and Spanish “I” is associated with one verb form, “you” with a distinctly different verb form, “we” with yet another form, etc. And of course there are distinct verb forms for the “familiar you” and “formal you” (singular in French, and both singular and plural in Spanish).

But doesn’t all these differences make other languages significantly more complex than English? Yes, indeed. However, they also make them significantly more precise. For speakers of these languages, it is crucially important to make these distinctions, because this is how their minds have been trained to work. Just as it is crucially important for English speakers to distinguish between “his” and “hers”, because this is how our minds have been trained to work.

Examples of these different ways of doing things from one language to another are endless. Each time we encounter them our mind opens up a little bit more, because the unexpressed assumptions we all carry around with us are continually being challenged.

Growing up in California, I used to be strongly opposed to language learning because it seemed so difficult and pointless. I have since changed my mind. I now strongly advocate language learning. Not because knowing a foreign language teaches us very much about others, but because it teaches us so much about ourselves.

Accepting that language learning is more about mind expansion than culture implies that language teaching must be fundamentally reformed.

I live in Belgium, where speaking two or three languages is the norm rather than the exception. This is generally true throughout Europe. In these countries, teaching languages in the belief that people will actually use them makes sense. The mind-expanding aspects of the effort come along as a welcomed bonus.

However for English speakers in general, and Americans in particular, it is almost impossible to learn to speak foreign languages because it is so difficult to practice them outside of the classroom. Here, the mind-expanding aspects of language learning should be the primary objective, and courses designed and taught in consequence.

If this were done, I believe that the American fear – and dare I say loathing – of other languages could be reversed. The schools would lay down the foundations of a language without trying to force students into the hopeless and demoralizing task of trying to speak it.

With this foundation firmly in place, when a person traveled to an area where that language is spoken, he would be able to rapidly turn his passive knowledge into active use. Even better, even if he traveled to an area with a totally different language, he would understand how languages work and therefore be ready to learn the new language rapidly and without fear.

Finally, the general aversion – and again dare I say loathing – many monolingual English speakers have of science and technology might also moderate. A mind made flexible by language learning would find it much easier to grasp and appreciate scientific principles than one still imprisoned in single-language rigidity.

In an age dominated by science and technology, surely this would be a benefit of ineffable importance.

Philip Yaffe is a former reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal and a marketing communication consultant. He currently teaches a course in good writing and good speaking in Brussels, Belgium. His recently published book In the “I” of the Storm: the Simple Secrets of Writing & Speaking (Almost) like a Professional is available from Story Publishers in Ghent, Belgium (storypublishers.be) and Amazon (amazon.com).

For further information, contact:

Philip Yaffe

Brussels, Belgium

Tel: +32 (0)2 660 0405

Email: phil.yaffe@yahoo.com

Feeding the poor today and everyone on the planet tomorrow: What are the issues, and what can be done to avert a global food crisis?

Averting a Global Food Crisis

Changing Agriculture and food behavior, converting to known superfoods. Both economically and nutritionally create international programs to alter our focus on what foods to grow on a broad scale, and what foods to consume on a daily basis to bring the current food crisis under control. The approximate time frame is 5 to 10 years.

Most foods can be cooked, dried and/or powdered for longer term storage and distribution. As the farmers coordinate with processors and distributors *(a network is essential) with the aid of a World Food advisory and over site board, everyone will get the highest quality nutrition at a fair market price. These published superfoods a just a sample of those that can be grown and harvested by our independent farmers throughout the world. This requires pilot programs to determine what aid and education is appropriate in any given climate area.

Acai palm, acerola, aloe vera juice, apple, aronia berry, bilberry, blueberry, cherry, apple,

cranberry, ginseng, grape seed, grape skin, green tea, mangosteen, noni fruit, pomegranate,

prune, raspberry, reishi mushroom, seabuckthorn, strawberry, white tea, wolfberry , spirulina, hemp seeds, oats, pumpkin, walnuts, Quinoa, wild salmon, tea of all kinds (especially young tea leaves), soy, yogurt, lean meats *dried or powered, whole grains (selected rice, wheat and corn, buckwheat, oats, Quinoa), tomatoes.

The following powdered products are already available (if not cheap. Broccoli Juice Powder, Carrot Juice Powder, Cucumber Powder, Cauliflower, Green Cabbage Juice Powder, Kale Juice Powder, Kelp, Aloe Vera, Parsley Juice Powder, Spinach Juice Powder, Tomato Juice Powder, Brussels Sprout Powder, Asparagus Juice Powder, Green Bell Pepper Powder, Bamboo Shoot, Chicory, Garlic, Ginger, Lo Han Guo, Radish, Red Beet Juice Powder, Spirulina, Watercress.

Spirulina is a form of algae. Spirulina is 65% bioavailable protein by weight and has most of the nutrients necessary to sustain life, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids.

Almost any food product can be dried or powered for safe storage and distribution.

Sprouts,contain all of the nutrition the mature plant will need to develop the next generation. This means that they have a greater nutrient density than the mature plant would have.

Amaranth Sprouts, Broccoli Sprouts, Fenugreek Sprouts, Kamut Sprouts, Millet Sprouts, Quinoa Sprouts and Spelt Sprouts, bean

To Brussels

Small Belgium is an embodiment of the Old Europe with its cozy cities, small houses and quite life rhythm. It’s a country with great cultural heritage, architectural monuments, and delicious national cuisine.
Brussels is a capital of Belgium and with its population of about 1 million is a relatively big city. It’s a cultural and political center of the country. Brussels is called “main gates” to the country. Here cross all the main routs inside the country and abroad.
The name of Brussels means “marsh city”. The first settlement was founded here in VI century on the way between Cologne and Bruges. During Hasburg rule it was the capital of the Spanish Holland. In XIX it became the capital of the independent Belgium.
Nowadays Brussels is mainly a city of businessmen and diplomats, a headquarter of European Union and NATO, it an interesting place for tourists too. It’s luxurious, cozy and historical city. The center of the city can be divided into two parts – Upper and Down. Upper town is full of broad boulevards and magnificent buildings. In contrary, downtown presents a labyrinth of narrow medieval streets around one of the most beautiful squares in Europe – Grand Place.
Almost all the attractions are situated within four blocks. Here you can see one of the most unusual and discussed fountains of the world – “Peeping boy”, visit numerous museums devoted to the history, art or something else. Various shops offer the most traditional Belgian souvenirs – chocolate and lace.
Brussels is a bilingual city – both French and Flemish are in use. In fact the French is used mush wider, but nevertheless all road signs and signboards should be duplicated.
On the outskirts of the city raises Atomium – a sophisticated structure covered with the aluminium panels. From its top on approximately 100-meters height opens an unforgettable panorama of Brussels and its suburbs. This building was established for the international fair of 1958 and symbolizes the structure of atom.
City hall building appeared in XV century – it took almost 50 years. A century later Royal palace was created. Now it houses municipal museum. Saint Michael is considered to be a saint patron of Brussels – its statue crown the spire on city hall roof and the most respected temples in Belgian capital is Saint Michael’s Cathedral.

Hotel reviews: Hotel Nicolas, Bruges, Belgium

During our recent trip to Belgium we stayed in Bruges. We had never stayed there before and, when planning the trip, didn’t know any hotels to base our decision on which to pick on. Our group was quite large (there were to be 17 of us in total) so we needed a decent sized place, but not in a huge and impersonal hotel. We also wanted to be well located in the centre of Bruges, but not too far away from the railway station (or at least easy to get to by public transport). So the criteria was small(ish), friendly, clean, good location, decent breakfast, good transport links and not too expensive. Were we asking too much? Our trip organiser (who was also in charge of transport) had a scout around and came up with the Hotel Nicolas.

~~~WHERE IS IT?

The Hotel Nicolas can be found at 9 Niklaas Desparsstraat in the centre of Bruges (so it certainly fulfilled that criteria). It is really near to the shops and is only about 200 metres from the main Market Place so you are also close to the main tourist attractions that surround the square, such as the Belfry, the cloth market and the Provincial Court. There are also lots of bars, cafes and shops around the edge of the square. As well as that there are usually some special events going on in the square while we were there we saw an open air concert, a bicycle fair and a firework and light show!

To get to the hotel if you are travelling by train (we went to Belgium on the Eurostar, after our minibus broke down on the M25 on the way down a bit of a nightmare which ended in us standing on the side of the motorway for 3 hours!). This meant we had to get a train from Brussels to Bruges. When you come out of the railway station in Bruges you will find the bus stops are all just outside the main entrance. Get any bus that says Centrum on it and get off at the Market from there the hotel is only a few minutes walk away. We should have been going there by coach, but as circumstances were against us we didn’t end up having to locate the hotel by road; there are full instructions about where to go and were to park on the hotel website (address given below).

~~~PRICES AND BOOKING.

We got a group booking so any supplements or extras were spilt evenly between the group our outlay also included our transport too. According to the hotel the prices are dependent on season and room size. For a single room you will pay 50 per night (45 in winter season) and for a double room 60 (53). Other rooms (with 3 beds, etc) are

Novel excerpts: Satire

From ‘Days in the Life’

Chapter 8

It was the time of sending hundreds of job applications. Sometimes, I just sent for the sake of sending, but occasionally I found something of interest where I’ve said to myself Oohh, that is a bit of me.’ Such was the case with this ad for a famous press agency, looking for sales people to promote it globally. So I applied.. Three weeks passed, I already forgot about it.

Then one boring day, I came home from shopping and my answering machine, which is dead most of the time, kept blinking at me. I kicked off my shoes, lit a cigarette and pushed the play button. A female voice said: Hi, this is Esperanza, you applied for the sales position with our agency, please call me back for an interview’ I strained to listen to the voice rattling a Spanish phone number.

I sighed.. After months of fruitless job interviews and silly telephone calls where they ask you questions such as what motivates you to do sales, how do you speak to a client you’ve met for the very first time.’ I was happy. I say silly because I’m an international sales professional with 8 years of experience closing multimillion dollar deals. Excuse me, did you even read my cv? When I think of the types of people that interview potential candidates I decide that I wouldn’t let half of them watch my dog. I’m sure you’ll know what I mean.

The end of it was that I got invited to Brussels for the first interview. The company does not pay the costs of this first interview, but if you pass, you’ll get invited to the second round which is in Madrid, and that you will get reimbursed for..’ I rolled my eyes as I listened to her. I was painfully low on funds as it was, but okay, no pain no gain, right? I will have to if I wanted to be a posh representative of this firm, flying all over the world, selling and selling, making loads of bunce, and occasionally sipping a pina colada at some exotic destination.

I clicked onto the German railway website (the wonderfully efficient Deutsche Bahn) and found a Belgium online special and bought a return ticket for 92 Euro. Not bad, not bad.

Once you have a ticket on ‘special’ this means you’re tied to those particular trains at those particular times, the ticket is invalid for any other train and/or time. So the journey was like this: Leave Heidelberg at 6:05 am, switch in Mannheim, switch in Cologne, switch in Brussels Nord and arrive to the final destination: Brussels Centraal. The return journey was on the same

An Overview of Belgium for Travelers

Located on the European mainland, Belgium often is short-shifted in discussions of Europe. Following is an overview of Belgium for travelers.

An Overview of Belgium for Travelers

Belgium is located on the coast of the North Sea between Holland, German and France. The name comes from the Belgae, a celtic tribe.

Belgium’s geographic location places it at the crossroads of much of Europe, particular in relation to the United Kingdom and mainland Europe. As a result, the country has been heavily influenced by the powers that be in Europe during certain periods of times. You can find aspects of Romans, Celtics, Germanic, French and Spanish influences.

Ruled by various European empires, the cities of Bruges, Brussels and Antwerp were major commercial trading posts. They also produced some of the more spectacular artists in Europe, including Eyck and Rubens.

In modern times, the country is really three separate states with significant autonomy. The country is divided up into Flemish, Walloon and a smaller Germanic area. The Flemish are Dutch speaking while the Walloon are oriented to French. The divisions between these areas are significant and they have significant autonomy from the federal government. One might argue they are countries unto themselves.

The official name of Belgium is the Kingdom of Belgium. The country is located in Western Europe and covers approximately 12,566 square miles. Brussels is the capital of the country and has a population of approximately 922,000 people. The second largest city is Antwerp with 452,000 residents.

The people of Belgium are known as Belgians. Total population for the country is 10.4 million with a paltry annual growth rate of less than one half of one percent. The country is divided into three linguistic regions, Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels. French is the dominant language in Wallonia, Dutch in Flanders and German in the Brussels area. Most people of Belgium claim Roman Catholic as their faith, but Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Anglican communities exist. The literacy rate is 95 percent.

Belgium is an odd hodgepodge of influences. That being said, everyone seems to get along in these modern times and Brussels is a major financial center in the Europe.