How to Understand English Faster

Understand English Faster
Understanding vocabulary, structures and knowing how to talk is not everything when you learn English. A fundamental part of this is to understand what they tell you. Consider our tips to understand faster.
When you learn a language, one of the biggest obstacles understands when someone speaks. It is that, although we often review the sounds and meanings of words, hearing them for the first time makes something complex.
As in all languages, there are several countries that speak English and each one has its own traits that translate into writing and speaking. So, how can you understand English faster? We give you some tips!
1. Train your ear
The variations in pronunciation are very large among the different English speaking regions (United States, United Kingdom, Australia …), so to capture those differences you need to spend hours listening and training your ear.
Movies or series, music, audio books or radio programs are great resources, but some require a greater command of the language, so it is best to start with the simple and scale up as you gain confidence.
Try not to always use headphones, because in real life you probably do not have so much acoustic quality and you have to deal with the environment that surrounds you.

As you master the language it is easier to decipher what the natives say.

2. Identify the accent
The variations between the different accents are notorious, especially between American English, British, Scottish and Australian, and there are even variations among citizens of the same country, according to the region.
These differences are not only found in pronunciation but in many concepts. For example, while in the United States potato chips are known as “French Fries”, in the United Kingdom and Australia they are “Chips”.

We recommend that you install on your mobile one of the best Android applications to learn English so that your learning is easier.

3. Recognize the registration
There are big differences between listening to a 17-year-old and the Queen of England speaks, so it’s important that you know what you’re up against. Surely the first use words typical of the local jargon, while the Queen will try to use more formal and neutral words to express them.
4. Take advantage of the network
Since the devices today have a connection to the network, take advantage of the benefits. With the boom of the Internet, there are thousands of useful applications to train the ear and better understand the different accents in English.
In addition, YouTube is a great tool, and there are many educational channels that teach listening.

Giving New Life To Reclaimed Materials

Carolands Chateau
Several years ago a young contractor by the name of James Dawes, who specialized in salvaging materials from properties that were being demolished, contacted me because he had just salvaged a large quantity of Purple Vermont Slate from the historic Carolands Chateau in Hillsborough, California.
At the time, I was designing a new house in Los Altos where we had been planning on using a slate roof. The owner was interested and he purchased all the beautiful slate with a 90-year patina that a new slate roof could never match. In addition to the roof, two large vertical fireplaces were clad in the slate. Its storied history became the feature material of the house.
Over the years I’ve sought to introduce reclaimed materials wherever I could.  I recently finished a house where we renovated a historic water tower and used it as a staircase to link the four levels of the house together.  The entire interior of the water tower was clad in reclaimed redwood.  The graining was better than any new material I could purchase and, when re-milled, its color is stunning.
Another addition to a historic mid-century modern house in Los Altos Hills, California was clad in reclaimed teak. We had to epoxy-fill some areas, since reclaimed material sometimes needs careful selection in the field and may have some signs of it’s former use. But in the end the wood is the feature of the addition, both inside and out.  Again, the color and quality of the material would be hard to match with new material and using it saves it from simply ending up in a landfill somewhere.
Today I’m still working with James on a little studio for a long time client and we’ve managed to clad the entire structure inside and out with reclaimed materials.  All the cabinetry was salvaged material we simply re-purposed.  This wonderful material begins another life under the redwood trees.  It isn’t quite finished yet but it will be a unique little jewel box when it’s complete.

It Doesn’t Get “Slicker” Than This…..

This week, the principals at CAW have asked us each to locate two images that exemplify how we think about design. For me one of those images will most certainly be from my faux magazine shoot for my raincoat made of plastic grocery bags.


 A little background: The raincoat came about as a challenge from my thesis professor in design school. She assigned us the task of crafting an entry for the Cal Poly architecture department’s annual furniture show, Vellum, using only waste material. With my background as a seamstress I immediately knew I wanted to sew rather than putting in long hours in the wood or metal shop, and I was vaguely familiar with plarning which is essentially crocheting with a yarn made from strips of plastic grocery bags. After a few failed attempts at plarning anything of interest, I hunted around and found a tutorial for fusing layers of plastic bags with a low iron to make a textile able to be sewn with a sewing machine.

So there I sat in my studio with my first scrap of plastic fabric: a durable, waterproof application of a petroleum-based product that would otherwise go to landfill or destroy a habitat. My professor asked me what I was going to do with it. I threw out ideas for a sling style chair, or possibly using it for upholstery, before finally admitting that what I really wanted to do was make a fabulous raincoat out of it— because it’s so cool that it’s waterproof. She gave me the green light, and that’s how I ended up entering a raincoat in a furniture competition. (Someone else won, but I was the runner-up; thanks for asking.)

Bag Count

Constructing the coat was simple enough. The great thing about making my own textile was that I could fabricate pieces in the exact right sizes for my pattern pieces. I would also have some amount of control over where the logos ended up on the finished garment. I’m particularly proud of the closures: they are the necks and tops of soda bottles, and you actually screw them closed!

The challenge for me was how to present the coat and its message. So often in design, it seems having a product or project be “green” is an excuse to let it be clunky or non-functional. The prevailing notion seems to be that consumers should ‘buy green’ to ‘do the right thing’ or be imbued with a sense of righteousness for saving the world.  My entire thesis was about consumerism and how to use great design to turn the ‘right thing’ into an object of desire. I didn’t want visitors to the competition to view my coat as an arts and crafts project (in the hot-glue-gun sense, not the 19th-century-architectural-movement sense) that you might see on some environmental blog. I wanted my audience to view the coat as high fashion, and that is where the photo shoot came in.

I’m lucky enough to be friends with Mike Rogers, an absurdly talented fashion photographer, who was a fellow student at Cal Poly. My best hope was for some campy, highly tongue-in-cheek photos, featuring me as the model, that would nonetheless get my message across.  Instead, I was presented with absolutely gorgeous, professional, high-fashion caliber photos that even had me believing my raincoat was a must-have item. At the competition itself the photos were absolutely the draw, and the coat was subject to some vigorous bidding in the silent auction. For me, it was a lesson in the power of marketing if ever there was one.


 So, as awkward as it is to present oneself as a model, the photography was as much a part of my thesis as the coat itself.  My coat had become desirable— and not just because it hid its sustainable features behind a slick exterior. People loved it because it was made out of plastic bags, and because they could recognize the Safeway, Walmart, 99cent Store, and ever-iconic “Thank you, Come Again” logos (a small commentary on the pervasiveness of brand-based marketing in the fashion world). I’ve had requests for regional coats that use bags from grocery stores in other parts of the country. The Piggly-Wiggly raincoat has yet to manifest, however.

This small thesis project made a lasting change in how I view my role as a designer. Designers are marketers and storytellers. We should forever strive to package the environmentally conscious strategies that, as far as I’m concerned, exemplify our duty as architects— with designs that exceed our clients’ highest expectations. In this way our projects can communicate to the community that they are the ‘right thing’ without having to shout that they are desirable.

View more of Mike’s photography at

I’m Thinking of Buying a Historic House: What Should I Know?

Palo Alto
Waverley Oaks – Category 1 Landmark
For many potential Palo Alto homebuyers, some of the homes they may be considering are listed as historic.
What should these buyer’s consider?
The City of Palo Alto has several historic categories, so the first step is to find out which one applies to the property under consideration.  Category 1 and 2 homes are considered “significant structures,” while Category designations of 3 and 4 are considered “contributing structures.”  Category 1 and 2 structures are subject to review by the City’s Historic Resources Board for exterior changes only;  the City does not have purview over interior modifications.  
The City has a Historic Inventory that lists all historic or potentially historic structures within the City’s boundaries.  City staff at the Development Office, located on the corner of Hamilton and Bryant, will be able to assist in determining which Category designation applies to a particular property.  Homebuyers can also call our office at (650) 328-1818 and speak with me and I can determine the properties designation.
Does historic designation limit my ability to remodel the structure?
The City of Palo Alto, like most local municipalities, have adopted the National Park Service Standards for Rehabilitation as a standard for reviewing historic structures.
These Standards were written knowing that changes to historic buildings are often necessary to accommodate more contemporary uses or lifestyles. They offer guidelines to help assist in making these changes without destroying the key defining features of the historic residence.  These Standards don’t prohibit change;  they try and guide sensitive solutions so alterations are compatible with the historic structure.
If homebuyers are considering purchasing a property with an idea toward modifying it and plan to work with an architect, that architect should be well-versed with the Standards and how they apply.
Our office offers homebuyers a free one-hour consultation to assist in examining your options or highlighting issues before purchase.
Are there any advantages to buying a historic house?
I never view historic designation as a negative; in fact, historic designation has allowed me to leverage the historic nature to gain zoning exemptions or leniency that would not be afforded a newer property.  For instance, older homes often don’t meet requirements for height or setback making adding additions sometimes awkward or difficult.  Historic designations have allowed us to have more lenient height and setback requirements for newer additions, adding square footage where otherwise it would have been prohibited.
Historic buildings are also afforded leniency from strict interpretations of modern building and energy requirements.  California has a special provision of the building code that applies to historic buildings that allow engineers some flexibility when trying to bring an older building up to code.  I never see historic designation as a negative;  in contrast it often allows architects and engineers a great deal of flexibility when developing solutions.
What else should I consider?
Many people love the look of older homes and the charming neighborhoods where they exist, but I find that most people are less than enthusiastic about the dark interiors and compartmentalized floor plans.  Many people want to live in homes that have more open floor plans, especially when it comes to the kitchen and family room that have become the heart of the house for today’s modern family.
Nearly all of our clients with older homes have a desire to have more light and a more open floor plan.  We have been able to successfully renovate scores of historic homes to accommodate a more open living environment while preserving key historic features.
When considering the purchase of an older home, you may also want to read my blog post titled “Five Things to Look For When Buying an Old House.”

Improve Your Handwriting Using an Easy Technique

Handwriting Using an Easy Technique

Teaching and learning how to write perfectly with your hands is an art that most people are not aware of. It is the beautiful handwriting that eventually leads you down to the path of calligraphy. When we speak of handwriting alone, the term graphology cannot go unheard. You might have heard about the study of handwriting, and of written or printed symbols, etc., that are basically meant to enhance the written words.

Graphology is a technique that is used to analyze your writing style, the physical characteristics of the words, and the key is to identify the psychological state of the human being when he was uttering the words onto the sheets. Learning this art while you are still a student can be difficult because there are a number of factors and learned elements that the student has to display onto the sheets and thus, he cannot solely concentrate on his handwriting.

Acquiring this specific skill requires one to devote his time and attention solely to it, and due to the presence and excessive use of digital media and electronics, it becomes hard for one to focus entirely onto it. Therefore, take some time out from your valuable routine and spare some to improve your handwriting the easy way. Just take a Red Fountain Pen and start practicing for freewriting as it is one exercise that can never let you down. Attempting to follow a line of exercise to create the perfect writing style is an efficient way to get around your goals.

Having good handwriting is not so common nowadays, which is why your art will be appreciated on a broader scale. The changes have to be made in accordance to the style that you want to adopt, and thus, to adopt it, you need to keep a piece of paper on top on which the writing style to be learned is portrayed. You may compose whatever your heart desires, without having to worry if it makes sense or not, because the exercise is simply meant to be for your personal learning and practice. You can note a few different keywords on a daily basis by the end of the exercise so that you have a certain subject to begin with the next day.

The relation of the words and sense should not be checked as what needs to be checked is the style. You can never learn to write in a specific style if your main focus diverts towards the subject that you are writing for. On the other hand, there is nothing that a healthy write up routine cannot fix, as it is also known to fix or turn up your mood. Furthermore, if you are looking for a pen that is inexpensive and quirky to set within your style, then you can check out the Caran dAche pen collection. The extensive designs and colors will make your heart melt with joy and most of the products come with box.