Category Archives: me

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Action Movie Restaurant

My husband was working yesterday, so we didn’t do much for Valentine’s Day. Today, we decided to go out for breakfast. But something really surprising and scary happened!

We went to a pancake restaurant near where we live. It’s my favorite breakfast restaurant. We got a table by the window and sat on the same side of the table. I sat closest to the windows. It’s a big old A-frame building. It has windows along the front and one entire side. To my right, there was a tall window. Outside the window was the sidewalk. Past the sidewalk was a handicapped parking space.

When we were almost done eating, we heard a loud noise. It sounded like tires screeching, when someone goes really fast around a corner or from a stop. How weird! I looked out the window. I didn’t see a sports car in the parking lot or anything like that.

But I did see a white minivan parking in the handicapped space. It was facing directly toward us. (An American-style minivan, so that means it’s a BIG van in most countries!)

And it wasn’t stopping. The minivan was driving right toward our table!

“Don’t be an idiot! Don’t just sit here and stare at it, like people do in TV shows,” I thought, “Get the heck out of the way!

At this point, I don’t really know what happened. I can’t remember the details clearly. I know I got up and moved as fast as I could. The next thing I remember is that I fell down while I was getting away from the window. I was surprised that I was on the floor, and I heard a loud bang. (That was the sound of the minivan hitting the building.) I looked up.

I saw that the big glass window hadn’t broken (and absolutely no one else had moved). The minivan had stopped. It hadn’t broken through the wall or glass. (Actually, it had hit the building really hard and bounced off, but I didn’t know that until later.)

I stood up and people started asking if I was okay. I said I thought so. Several people said “You guys moved fast!” I was a little embarrassed, so I said “I guess we overreacted.” (That is, I thought maybe we had done too much. Actually, I didn’t think so, but I felt self-conscious.)

“I don’t think you overreacted,” said a man from another table. He got up and went to the support beam that touched our table. Since it’s an A-frame building (shaped like an A, not a square), there was a big metal or wood beam that went from the floor to the ceiling, like a / . He said “Look at this.” The A-frame beam was broken at a joint where it connected to something. Wow, scary! One of the staff members quickly came over and moved our things to a table in another part of the restaurant.

My husband and our waiter ran outside to check on the driver and the passenger in the car. They were okay, just shaken up (scared). The driver had accidentally pressed the gas pedal instead of the brake

The owner was calling his insurance and the police and so on when we left. Anyway, I’m glad no one was really hurt, the glass wasn’t damaged, and so on. I hope the repairs aren’t too difficult for the owner (he’s a really nice guy).

My knee is a little bruised from where I hit the floor. I put some ice on it earlier, and I’ll put some more ice on it later.

That was definitely one of the most interesting ways I’ve ever started my day. It was kind of like being in a movie. Actually, it was too interesting. I don’t want to do that again. But we were lucky that it wasn’t worse…

I’m REALLY glad it wasn’t like THIS:

DEFENESTRATION THE MOVIE from Everything Is Terrible! on Vimeo.

Luckily, the restaurant was built much better than the ones in the movies and TV shows above!

(“Defenestration” is a rarely used English word that means “the act of throwing someone or something out of a window,” but this video has scenes of things going into and out of windows. I guess whether it’s “in” or “out” or “through” depends on where you are.)

My Holiday

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m in Arkansas visiting my parents for Christmas. Today is Christmas Eve. During the last day or two, we’ve been shopping and so on.

Mall Santa
Santa Claus is in the middle of this photo, but he’s hard to see! On the right, people are lined up. They want their kids to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him their Christmas wishes. (I usually had no idea what to say.) On the left, a woman is taking photos. You have to pay money for them… Anyway, this is in the local mall. We bought some last-minute gifts there.

Inside the restaurant
Later, we went to a restaurant. It’s very old-fashioned inside. You can see lots of old-style farm and household tools inside.

This country restaurant only serves one meal: All-you-can-eat chicken dinner. You get fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy (a kind of sauce for the potatoes), corn, green beans, slaw (cabbage, mayo, etc. salad), and a tiny loaf of hot bread with apple butter (spiced apple jam — there’s no butter in it!). If you want more of something, you can just ask. This meal is not part of our holiday tradition, but it’s a nice place to go with my family when I visit. Today, we had Thai food at lunch and beans with cornbread for dinner. For Christmas Day this year, we’ll go out to a buffet. (Most restaurants are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the US, but a few are open.)

Christmas Tree Cat
This is one of my parents’ cats, Gimli. He’s sitting under their Christmas tree. Gimli usually acts very seriously, but he loves their Christmas tree and spends a lot of time playing with it and sleeping under it. (I took this picture last year, but it’s the same this year!)

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you’re having a good one!

(Sorry, I’ll post the final contest winner later!)

Halloween 2010

This year I was really busy during October. I wasn’t able to plan a Halloween party. It’s too bad, because I love having Halloween parties.

Here are some photos from a couple of years ago.

Here are some small lanterns I put outside my place. We usually put decorations outside our homes as well as inside.

In the front is a candle decoration that I made. On the right is a pumpkin that has not been carved yet. On the left is what was inside a pumpkin. That pumpkin has already been carved into a jack-o’lantern.

You can see some of the snacks that we had at our party. (No, we’re not good at making sushi!) You can also see party favors in little bags.

Anyway, I’m not having a party tonight or tomorrow. But tonight we visited a special Halloween event that our city has.

There’s an old building here. It used to be part of a rich person’s house. Now it’s only used once a year for a “haunted house”! I think about 75 people were in line. It costs $3, and the money is given to local charities.

You can see just a few of the booths with carnival games and Halloween items for sale. The games are similar to festival games in other countries.

My favorite part: caramel apples! I always get one that’s covered in chopped peanuts. These are made right there by volunteers. They taste so good! The apples are a little bit tart, and the nuts are nutty, crunchy, and a little salty. So it’s not as sweet as it looks.

Lots of little kids and a few adults go to this event in costume. The volunteers who work there have fun, and my money is given to charity. I really enjoy going there every year.

I hope you have a great Halloween, or a great October 31st if you aren’t interested in Halloween!

P. S. Enter the contest! It’s so easy–just share your ideas with us! Only 2 people have entered so far…your chances are good!

Continue reading Halloween 2010

Wedding Anniversary

Yesterday was my seventh wedding anniversary. My husband and I got married in 2003 in San Francisco.

Wedding Day
Wedding Day

This year, we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on an expensive dinner or expensive presents. However, we had a nice time. We packed a picnic and went to a park near the edge of the San Francisco Bay. We went shopping the day before at Trader Joe’s for our picnic. We bought some good cheese, spicy salami, crackers, nectarines, chocolate, and Hansen’s sodas. (Hansen’s sodas are all-natural sodas–they’re really good.)

While we ate, we could see the water, birds, and small planes landing nearby. The scenery was really beautiful. After we ate, we took a walk.

Then we went to a game store called Game Kastle. They sell board games, role-playing games, card games, and so on. (They don’t sell video games.) The games they sell are mostly unusual and interesting ones. Of course, they also sell famous games, like the Pokemon card game. We bought one game, but we haven’t played it yet.

After that, we went to two bookstores that are right next to each other. One bookstore sells new books, and the other one sells used books. The secondhand book shop has a big selection of non-English books, language-learning books, ESL books, etc. I had a coupon, but I only found one book that I wanted! Oh, well. At the other bookstore, I found a book I thought my husband would like. It was on sale! I bought it while my husband wasn’t looking and gave it to him as an anniversary present.

We went to one other bookstore in a nearby town and found one more book to buy. The clerk at that shop was really friendly. The shop also sold these cute hand puppets

Finally, we went to a Japanese restaurant
called Hatcho for dinner. This restaurant is not very expensive and you can order a lot of things individually (ala carte). Their menu is very interesting. We tried several things we had never eaten before. The restaurant was quiet, and the food was really good.

I guess that wasn’t really a typical anniversary celebration. If people imagine an anniversary celebration, they usually imagine something like an expensive restaurant dinner, flowers, dancing, and a gift of jewelry. On the other hand, I think it is normal for people our age to create our own celebrations. We want events and gifts that are meaningful to us. My husband and I are geeky and enjoy food. So a day full of bookstores, games, and eating makes sense for us. It matches our personalities.

It was nice to spend time with my husband, just the two of us. However, for our tenth anniversary, I think I would like to have a party and invite our friends and family.

Here are the places we went yesterday, if you’d like to see them:

Palo Alto Baylands park
Game Kastle
BookBuyers (Photos of BookBuyers)
Books Inc.
Leigh’s Favorite Books

What kinds of celebrations do you enjoy? What do you like to do for your wedding anniversary, your birthday, etc.? Is it different from what your husband, wife, parents, or friends like to do?

New Laptop

MacBook image from Wikipedia
MacBook image from Wikipedia

I have a new laptop. I didn’t want a new laptop, but I have one.

On May 28, I came home at night after I went to a convention. My door was open a little bit, and the frame (the part around the door) was damaged. I realized that someone must have broken in to my townhouse. My friend and I looked inside, just a little. I saw that my laptop was gone. I wasn’t really surprised, because it’s a nice laptop. We called the police, of course. The police came and looked for fingerprints, but they didn’t find anything. The police officer said that the thief or thieves would probably not use the laptops–they would probably break them into parts and sell the parts. Since they didn’t take the power cords, I guess he was probably right.

This has never happened to me before, but the economy is pretty bad. I know people in several different countries who have experienced break-ins. And it could have been worse–nobody got hurt, and we have renters’ insurance.

Renter’s insurance is a kind of insurance for people who are renting their homes. You pay some money each year, but if you break or lose your things, or have something stolen, your insurance will pay to have it replaced. Since I had a MacBook Pro, which is kind of expensive, and we had a couple of other laptops, and a lot of books, etc., we got renter’s insurance about a year ago.

Anyway, it took some time to get our new laptops, but now I have a very nice new MacBook Pro. Our insurance paid for most of it. It has a new operating system and other new features that my old MacBook Pro didn’t have. Unfortunately, I’m missing a lot of files and photos, because I didn’t back up my data often enough. :( I’m very glad that I have a laptop again, though. I’m still setting it up (getting it ready) by downloading my favorite programs.

Have you ever had anything stolen from you? It’s not very common here (I know everyone thinks the US is really unsafe, but it’s usually pretty safe here.) It can happen anywhere, I think.

Continue reading New Laptop

Where I’ve Lived

Today’s post is just a little bit about me. It’s not as interesting as baby squirrels, I think…

View Where I’ve Lived in a larger map

Both of my parents are from California, but I was born in a small town in Missouri. Missouri is a state near the middle of the US. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The weather is kind of like Okayama, Japan, but the town I lived in is colder in the winter, and not as rainy in the summer. Compared to Pusan, Korea, the weather is warmer in the summer (but still not as rainy), and almost the same in the winter. (You can compare weather at’s comparison site, but they don’t have information for every city outside the US. Wikipedia has information, too.) The town I was born in is very small–only about 12,500 people live there.

When I was little, we moved to Alabama, North Carolina, and then Kansas. This was because of my dad’s work.

Finally, we moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas. I lived there for about 12 years, and I went to college there. It had about 50,000 people then, but it’s bigger now.

All of these states have similar weather. There four seasons including a spring with pretty flowers, a hot and humid summer, an autumn with beautifully colored leaves, and a cool or cold winter. Sometimes there are bad storms. These states have a few big cities, but there’s a lot of countryside. You can see a lot of farms and natural areas.

Now I live in Fremont, California. It’s kind of near San Jose and San Francisco. The population of Fremont is about 220,000, but our city is next to a lot of other cities. It’s part of the San Francisco Bay Area (Wikipedia link — or Simple English version), which has more than 7 million people. The weather is totally different. This part of California has a special climate, which is similar to the area near the Mediterranean Sea. I’ll explain it more sometime, but for me, it was really strange at first!

Anyway, I’ve lived in California since 2000, although I spent 3 months in Taipei, Taiwan.

Where have you lived? You can tell me in the comments. I’d like to know.

If you have any questions about where I’ve lived, please feel free to ask.

Similar (adj.): Almost the same, very close. Ex. “That painting looks similar to the one we saw before.” (A more casual way to say it is “That painting looks like the one we saw before.”) “Some people say that song was copied from another band, but I don’t think the songs are very similar.”
Humid (adj.): This is when the air has a lot of water in it. The noun is “humidity.” Ex.: “It’s hotter in the desert than in the rain forest, but the rain forest is more humid.” “I try not to use my air conditioner, but when it’s hot and humid, I turn it on.”
Climate (n.): Average weather conditions and patterns (of a place). Weather is what’s happening this week; climate is what happens over years. Ex.: “Italy’s climate is perfect for growing grapes.” “She’s from a country with a hot climate, and she’s not used to snow.”

Teachers: Your Requests?

I know a lot of teachers read this blog–maybe more teachers than students! I’m starting a new blog, written from a teacher’s point of view. I plan for it to be slightly unusual: I’ll be posting more than things like lesson plan resources or a technique I found for explaining a certain grammar point. I’ll also be looking at things like time management (I plan to review the book Getting Things Done), relaxation, nutrition, my own language learning, using open source applications, sociolinguistics topics (such as World Englishes), alternative TESOL careers (like what I’m doing), etc. I’m still relatively new to the field of TESOL, so I’ll be exploring ideas, thinking aloud (okay, in text!), and opening discussions. I definitely don’t want to come across like I think I’m an expert on these topics, because I’m still learning too.

So if you have any thoughts about what kinds of things you’d like to see discussed, please leave a comment and let me know. It’s going to be called “Talk to the Clouds,” and will be at When I get it up and running, I hope you’ll join me.

(In the meantime, please let your students know about Readable Blog and encourage them to comment on posts!)

Introducing “Good Words”

I’m back! I graduated last Saturday with my master’s degree in English (TESOL). Things have been very busy since then, so I haven’t been able to post.

I’m starting a new feature here, which will be called “Good Words.” These are words that I think are fun, useful, or special to English. I hope you find some words that you can use. I might also start another feature called “Dangerous Words,” which are words to watch out for! Let me know what you think.

I’ll post the first Good Word right after this. Thanks for reading!


I’d like to introduce myself and this new project to you. My name is Clarissa C. S. Ryan. I am finishing my master’s degree in English/TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). My bachelor’s degree is in history, with a minor in Asian studies.

I have studied two languages academically: Chinese and Japanese. Because I have experienced the struggle of studying languages that are very different from mine, I understand how hard it is to learn a language like English. I have also studied abroad (in Taiwan), so I understand how stressful that can be, too. Every English student I have ever met speaks English better than I speak Chinese or Japanese. So I really admire and respect my students and my friends who are learning English.

Most people my age and older learned languages using old methods such as the Audiolingual Method or Grammar Translation. These methods are stressful, slow, and don’t work well for most people. There is evidence that more realistic methods work better. These methods usually emphasize real communication and actually doing things using the language. These methods are also more fun, even when you’re working hard! What I really believe is

Memorizing grammar rules IS NOT ENOUGH to be able to read or write understandably.

Memorizing vocabulary words does NOT teach students how to use them.

Reading for fun DOES HELP students learn vocabulary words and sentence patterns.

Of course, you have to memorize some rules. But if you don’t use the language, you haven’t really learned anything. When I got to Taiwan, I couldn’t speak enough Chinese to get on the right bus. But I had studied Chinese for more than three years! I know many of my students and friends had the same experience when they came to the US. Even though they had studied English for years, they had never used it or had fun with it. So they had studied English, but not learned English.

I want to help you learn English as well as you want to learn English. I think reading is a big part of this, so you’ll see that I post lots of things for you to read. If you can read something in English for fun, you’ll learn faster and you’ll be less bored! Just remember, I’m not recommending fun things because I’m lazy or you’re lazy. I don’t think we’re lazy. I’m recommending these things because I think they can work, based on the research I have read. So I’m going to encourage you to do the things that researchers think work: reading for fun, experimenting, making mistakes, talking to people, etc.

I hope you will enjoy reading this blog and that you will tell your friends, family, classmates, and students about it! Thank you for visiting.