The Power of the Apple: A New Genre of the Week Series

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There is the old saying that we use in American English: An Apple a Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away. It is a it is a well-known fact that the apple is the main fruit that people enjoy eating, let using as the main ingredient for pastries, juices and salads. With its array of vitamins and minerals, the apple provides strength for the human body as well as the mind. That was probably the main reason why Johnny Appleseed during the 1820s planted and maintained hundreds of apple trees, providing new settlers with a key source of nutrients. It is a well-known fact that his motive behind his orchards was to provide unity for a young country, like the United States, as it was growing- both in size and population, but also in terms of intellect. After all, most ideas, including the creation of the Constitution and its modern form of democracy came just by having an apple ready- for consumption and for painting a prosperous future.

 

But the apple does more than just give us ideas. It strengthens the soul, providing us with inner-peace, providing us with a sense of an open-heart and mind and gives us the energy we need to love ourselves and others.

 

When you offer an apple, you offer the other a bridge to cross and a new path (and/or) idea(s) to open/improve ties and to make life better for yourself and others.

 

To offer an apple means to offer friendship

To offer an apple means to be open to new cultures, ideas and things

To offer an apple means to be open to others and their ideas and thoughts

To offer an apple also means to offer the most important lessons in life,

Such as loving your neighbor, your friends, your family and yourself,

Such as learning something new and tolerating and accepting others for their way of life

And most important showing respect and kindness towards others and most importantly,

Being decent people.

 

In the past month, as I was compiling some ideas for the Luther series in the Files, I learned that the apple can be a powerful product that can create ties and bind people together, solve problems that are complex and find solutions, and create ways to better ourselves and society.

 

While Martin Luther brought his disciples and followers together over a mug of beer- homebrewed by his faithful wife, Katharina von Bora, many authors (myself included) have found ways of using the apple for the purpose of literature, providing us with some valuable lessons that we seemed to have forgotten but are in dire need of learning about- especially in times of hardships around the globe.

Therefore, parallel to the Year of Luther and the noted works, the Files will introduce some literary works dealing with the apple and how it works wonders on society. Like in the Genre of the Week series, the works will be profiled with the main theme of how the apple is used in the context. Some like the first profile will be in a form of a book, others in the form of poems, narratives and other works. It will also include a couple from the author based on his personal experiences, one of which is tied to the works of Luther.  Between now and Christmas, you can find some works under this theme, intermingling with those of Luther and others- some of which will be posted here on the areavoices page, but for sure, you will find them on the Files’ wordpress page. It is hoped that when looking at the pieces, one will learn the morals of life, and especially how the apple symbolized unity, not just for one community or even country, but for society in general; especially with all the problems we are facing (and will be facing for years to come).

Without further ado, let’s have a look at the first piece that deals with the apple, rumors and the truth. That can be found in Mr. Peabody’s Apple, which you can click here.

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The Beamer and Laptop: An Inseparable Love Affair

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If there is a rule book on how to effectively teach an English as a Foreign Language class and there is a section on the usage of technology, one should expect to abide by the following two rules:

  1. No matter how hard you prepare, always expect the element which will make you feel unprepared, and
  2. The beamer and the laptop are like a relationship between a man and a woman: No matter how hard you try, if they don’t connect, it doesn’t work.

The usage of technical equipment in the classroom, be it the beamer or the Smartboard, or be it a video conference call or technical equipment with special features to ooh and ahh the students, has become more and more popular for use in any class, including foreign language teaching. Yet no matter how much experience and competence the teacher has with the use of technical equipment, something bizarre can happen at any time, which there is no control over.

This takes us to the love affair between the laptop and the beamer. Usually, like a man loving a woman, when a laptop is connected with the beamer, then it must work 100% of the time, right? Not in the case of the story of a teacher and a group of students working at a large electronics company in Germany recently. The story behind it is as follows:

In the first three months of teaching English for business, the group met in a small classroom that featured a mobile beamer, speakers and a flip chart with markers. The teacher provided his own laptop, which was an Acer running on Windows 8. The beamer was used to show students the vocabulary of certain words covered in a chapter- a way of saving paper used from the flip chart. The connection between the beamer and the laptop worked well, with no problems whatsoever. After the third month, the group moved to a bigger room- a conference room, which was equipped with an overhead beamer. This is where the problem began…..

Normally the overhead beamer did not have any problems with any laptops used by the company employees and executives. This was claimed and testified by the students having used the beamer before, and all the computers were also running on Windows 7 or 8. In the case of the teacher’s laptop, when connected to the overhead beamer via cable and activated, there was no connection. The laptop was rebooted and reconnected to the beamer. Again, it didn’t work. The ends of the cable were switched and the two devices were reconnected. Again, sela vie. Both devices were shut down for five minutes before being reactivated again. The laptop and the overhead beamer were reconnected and there was a glimmer of hope as the connection was established. Yet two minutes later, it ceased! The teacher’s face becomes redder with rage as he was running behind schedule and he needed the beamer for a pair of video exercises. Desperate, he has one of the students bring in the mobile beamer where he uses the cable from there to hook the laptop up with the overhead beamer! Didn’t work. He then connected the laptop with the mobile beamer, using that cable. And…….

it worked! 🙂

Both the teacher and the students were scratching their heads as to determine the cause of this bad connection between the laptop and the overhead beamer as well as why the connection worked with the mobile one. It was bewitched for some reason. Yet it served as a reminder of a relationship that went awry. No matter how much effort is put in, if a man loves a woman but the feelings are not mutual, one can try everything, but the end result will be either failure or an unhealthy relationship. It can only work if both have something in common and are willing to develop the relationship further. This also applies when a relationship does not work in one environment but works suddenly in a different environment, after a short break.

And while work is underway to determine the cause of the failed connection between the laptop and the overhead beamer, and eventually provide a new cable for the latter, the main idea behind this story is no matter how well-prepared you are for teaching or even a presentation, you can expect something like this to happen, just a much as a relationship going bad. So keep this in mind next time:

PREPARE FOR BEING UNPREPARED!  CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT BEFORE EXECUTING!! MAKE SURE THE LOVE AFFAIR WORKS!!! <3

Thank you! 😀

Author’s Note: The photo was taken at a different company after a session, where both the beamer and the laptop had a well-established connection. It was not allowed to photograph on the premises of the company where the incident took place. 

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A Loss of a True American: A Tribute to Andy Griffith

What is a true American? It is a question that many of us are trying to answer, especially since the End of the Cold War. There we used to be portrayed as a GI Joe figure winning the heart of a young woman and having a happy life in a house with many children, but we are now on the move, taking chances whenever possible, even at our own expense.
From my point of view, a true American is open-minded and honest. He is a caring and loving person and ensures that everyone is safe from any wretched evil that exists. We all have our role models who have set examples for us to follow, whether it was on television or live in person. Andy Griffith was one that many people wanted to be like.
Born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, and growing up poor,  Mr. Griffith wanted to be a musician before becoming an actor. Although he was on Broadway doing musicals, he became the true American in the form of Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor in the Andy Griffith Show in the 1960s. Griffith kept the peace while caring for his only son, Opie (played by Ron Howard). He was a great father and a role model for the fictitious community. Mr. Griffith later played the lawyer Ben Matlock in the series bearing that same name. The lawyer was honest, scrutinizing, eloquent and clever. He managed to bring criminals down and exonerate those falsely accused of a crime.  After semi-retiring from acting, Mr. Griffith took up singing again, something that he shelved in favor of acting. Sometimes doing one thing at the expense of another gives a person a new perspective in life, which can be used when reviving that thing you wanted to do all along. I’m sure many of us have a hobby or career that they want to do again after a long absence. His was singing gospel, which took us by surprise, but impressed us at the same time.
I’m sure many of us have not heard or known much about the actor until his recent death at his home in Raleigh, North Carolina at the age of 86. But growing up in the US, Andy Griffith was still a household name; especially when associated with Don Knotts and Ron Howard in the Andy Griffith Show. Together, the trio brought out the best of us and set examples for us to follow, like being honest to each other, helping those who are in need, and despite Barney Fife‘s clumsy and yet funny stunts, knowing what is right and what is wrong. A lot of the things that were common in small town America and were done by the main characters, we have witnessed and done in our childhood. And more so, the way we bring peace and prosperity to America, we adopted from the trio. From my own perspective, this is what the real America stands for (or should stand for).  It was also stressed when Mr. Griffith played Matlock and we grew up watching case after case, which was cut down to size and brought the criminals to justice. We somehow adopted this in our way of thinking, which can be a blessing if one wants to know the truth of oneself before thinking about doing something that could bear consequences.
Mr. Griffith‘s passing did leave a huge void and even though he left quietly to join Mr. Knotts (who died of lung cancer in 2006) and is buried on an island outside Raleigh, he did give us something that is typically and truly American, something that we will miss, but at the same time, we will pass down to our next generation. And while the newest generations and those who are not familiar with US culture have not watched an episode of the Andy Griffith Show or Matlock, not to worry. We already have DVDs out both in the US as well as here in Germany and Europe, and I have already contemplated introducing it to my wife and daughter to give them a glimpse of what a typical American was, is and should be- the one with honesty, character, laughter and loving care to those around us.  If some of you have forgotten about it, perhaps you should give Andy a chance for a few episodes. Thanks to him, he made us who we are today.