35. 10 Easy Steps to Go Natural Without Cutting Your Hair Off

Natural hair has been a passion for me since I went natural three years ago.  I took the big leap by deciding to forgo the *”creamy crack” and to embrace my God-given locks no matter what they be.  In order to start this natural journey there are only two options:  big chop or transition.  Big chopping is just what it says.  It’s cutting off all the relaxed or chemically straightened hair, which leaves the new grow or natural hair.  What’s left is a twa or teeny-weeny afro in most cases and that was mine.  The second option is to transition, which is to gradually trim the hair as it grows until all the relaxed or chemically treated hair is gone.  Ladies usually try to transition for twelve or more months.  This takes time and patience and that’s what Nik Scott’s book 10 Easy Steps to Go Natural without Cutting Your Hair Off is about.  The handbook is separated into a preface, an appendix, and of course the ten crucial steps.  The appendix includes questions and answers, Scott’s transitioning hairstyles, tips on how to choose a hairstylist and on how to cut relaxed ends.  There is also some information about scab hair and about a hair and scalp elixir.

The best things going for this book are that Nik Scott has successfully transitioned and grown her natural hair healthy and long (check out her You Tube channel at LongHairDontCareLLC), the steps are ordered correctly, and lastly that she goes in-depth on the psychological aspects to going natural.  However, there are things that don’t work and one of the primary problems is the editing.  There are problems with missing words, incorrect words, and passages that need to be re-written.  I blame her publisher.  It was their job, not only, to make her book look polished but that it be well-written as well.  I also wish the book was longer because there were places where I wanted her to explain more details.  For example, she only gives one recipe of a transitioning hair & scalp elixir.  It would have interested me to see more of them.  I really enjoyed the pictures of Scott in the inspirational transitioning hairstyles, although I would have like to have seen more pictures and more explanation on cutting the relaxed ends.  All in all, this book is an introductory look into transitioning.  Scott really hits the nail on the head in the sections “Do you really want it?” and “The changes I’m going through”.  The psychology counts tremendously when going natural because confidence has to reign to get to the goal and unfortunately discouragement can come from the people you love the most.  She stresses assurance, determination, patience, and acceptance as key factors to attaining natural hair.  Moreover, these important factors can’t be and aren’t stressed enough.  Check it out as a preliminary sneak peek into transitioning, but you will certainly have to seek other sources of information for details.  Who knows maybe Nik Scott has another book in the works in the near future?

“Nik Scott is more than a natural hair blogger and YouTuber. She is a self-proclaimed ambassador for Christ, wife, mother, artist, dreamer and doer. As a freelance writer, promoting self-confidence within young girls and women has always been a passion for Nik. Because of her innate desire to help women, Nik founded the online Black hair resource Long Hair Don’t Care in 2008. Since then, Nik has been able to use social media like YouTube to build solid credibility as an online authority on hair, do-it-yourself projects, style and everything in between!  In 2012 Nik established LHDC-TV, a life & style social media network which allows her to further inspire, help, encourage and teach.”(back cover of 10 Easy Steps to go Natural without Cutting Your Hair Off!)

BLOG: http://www.lhdctv.com
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/lhdctv
TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/inikscott

Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.

                                                                       —— Issac ASIMOV

Phonetic Follies!

For all of you EFL teachers out there that struggle with teaching pronunciation to your students, here’s an excellent method from Macmillan that is very easy to teach and easy for students to understand.  This video confirmed that I was doing some of the right things which is putting emphasis on the physical and less on the intellectual of pronunciation, but I’ve got a lot more work to do to get to the level of teaching in this video.  Adrian Underhill is the author of Sound Foundations: Learning and Teaching Pronunciation.  He has been a successful teacher and trainer for many years.  While working with Macmillan, he has equally participated as an advisor in the development of the New Macmillan Dictionary.  He’s worked regularly in teacher development and was a past president of the IATEFL, www.iatefl.org ,where he started a teacher development interest group.  Enjoy!  It’s great fun and a wonderful discovery of English pronunciation for everyone, not just teachers. If you don’t have time to watch the full video, skip to 0:55:55 at the end.  There you’ll see the results of the method.  Brilliant!



34. The Fountainhead

On a rainy cool day twenty-two years ago, I walked to the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore www.shakespeareandcompany.com  on the left bank of Paris.  I had two hours to kill before catching my train back to Normandy.  I didn’t have much money on me, but I was determined to find a treasure since I was desperate to read in English.  I was learning French intensively at the Sorbonne and my brain desired nothing more than an English break.

Combing the shelves for something good wasn’t easy because there are so many goodies there, but since I was broke my choice was limited  to a really cheap book.  What did I run across?  A dried water-logged version of The Fountainhead for 2 francs.  I had only heard of this book but hadn’t had the chance to read it at university.  So, for 2 francs I figured I had nothing to lose. It’s was a steal!

I began reading it on the train and found myself immediately engrossed  in this story of Howard Roark, passionate, arrogant, driven architect who’s been thrown out of architecture school.  I was glued all weekend to this book that I found fascinating and intriguing.  I enjoyed immensely the architectural descriptions and the complexity of the story.  Now I realize I really loved this book probably because I was young when I read it.  Who wouldn’t be inspired by such a character; who is self-assured and inspired to build to perfection, no matter who doesn’t like it.

Now it’s twenty-two years later and I’m re-reading The Fountainhead with my book club.  I read it in four days just like the first time but not with the same enthusiasm.  The constant preachy theme of Ayn Rand’s unrealistic philosophy of objectivism was an omnipresent whisper throughout the novel.  Objectivism can best be described as “an uncompromising  defense of self-interest as the engine of progress.”(back cover of the Penguin Classics edition of The Fountainhead)  After researching the philosophy of Rand a bit closer I discovered that objectivism can be broken down into five branches: reality, reason, self-interest, capitalism, and romantic realism.  Did this discovery make me understand and believe in her philosophy more?  Absolutely not.  Rand stated that man’s “highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness, and that he must not force other people, nor accept their right to force him, that each man must live as an end in himself and follow his own rational self-interest.”  Blah, blah, blah…  This is the principle philosophy in all of her books and essays including the well-known Atlas Shrugged, which is a big whopping 1200 pages(surely a lot more of the same) and Anthem, which examines a dystopian world in the future where individuals don’t have names, values, or independence.  Other work by Ayn Rand include The Virtue of Selfishness, We the Living, Capitalism:  The Unknown, and The Romantic Manifesto.

As I read along diligently, I marvelled at the quality of writing and the intricacy of the story, since English was not Rand’s maternal language.  The names of the characters to the descriptions of life, expressions, and so forth are like a step back in time.  The novel is divided into four parts named after the principal characters beginning with Peter Keating, Ellsworth M. Toohey, then Gail Wynand, and finally Howard Roark.  The amazing parade of secondary characters is unbelievable but adds to the quality of the story.  If you go on Goodreads.com www.goodreads.com there is a book discussion for The Fountainhead:  Best character in The Fountainhead and why?  Difficult.  Ellsworth M. Toohey is an amazing antagonist – manipulative, cold, calculating, with a pertinacious cruelty; where Howard Roark is a hard-working, knowledgeable, self-confident, arrogant, perfectionist architect.  You can’t help rooting for Roark and hoping for the violent death of Toohey.  Needless to say, all the characters are low down and despicable!  I have never read a book like that before.

All in all, this is a must read.  I don’t agree with Rand’s philosophy at all but it’s an intriguing, well-written story on capitalism and how it can go wrong (like we don’t already know) and that was written over sixty years ago.  When I first rated it on Goodreads I gave it five stars but I’ve decided to take off a star because of the philosophy even though I know this book wouldn’t be what it is without it.

Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was a Russian-American author, playwright, and screenwriter.  In 1926, she came to the United States where she worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and produced a play on Broadway.  Her first novel The Fountainhead got her noticed but Atlas Shrugged is her best-known novel.  She was largely ignored in the literary world because of her philosophy of objectivism.  In her early life, Rand’s father was a pharmacist in Saint Petersburg and his shop was confiscated by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution.  Her family then fled to Crimea.  Rand was twelve years old at the time and that incident no doubt contributed to her development of objectivism.  Check out the video below of Rand ardently defending her philosophy to Mike Wallace!

Festival America

The Festival America has taken place in Vincennes, France for ten years.  It premiered the day after the  tragic terrorist attack of  September 11.  It’s intention is to hear the views of authors from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Cuba, and Haiti on the world’s current economic, social, and political strife, as well as in their own countries.  This year’s honorary guest is Toni Morrison. The Festival is taking place from the September 20-23 in various venues in the area of Vincennes.  You will be able to buy books, meet authors, attend debates, lectures, and films, and enjoy exhibitions.  A plethora of authors have been invited for book signing throughout  the festival – Russell Banks, Nick Flynn, Samuel Archibald, Ron Hansen, etc.  So if any of you are near the Paris area go check it out!  Below there’s a clip of African-American author Jake Lamar talking about the Festival America and his works.


Festival AMERICA_Grille_horaire 2012

33. All My Friends Are Superheroes

Tom has been married six months to the Perfectionist.  The only problem is his wife can’t see him.  At their wedding, the Perfectionist’s ex-boyfriend, Hypno hypnotizes her to forget about Tom.  Therefore, he spends the majority of the novel trying to get her to see him, while reminiscing about the moments they spent together as they were falling in love.  All of Tom’s friends are superheroes, but not the kind of superheroes you’re thinking of.  Imagine having friends called the Frog-Kisser, the Stress Bunny, or the Couch Surfer.

All My Friends Are Superheroes is a quirky, fairytale, love story.  It’s a well written novella and very original in its telling.  I don’t think I’ve read anything like it.  It’s sentimental and feel good.  You ‘ll start to read and you won’t be able to put it down.  It’s only 109 pages so it can be read in less than an hour and a half.  Actually, the only thing I dislike about this book is the cover.  It’s a turn off.  If you’re the kind of person that chooses books by their covers, you would surely have passed this one up.

Andrew Kaufman is from Wingham, Ontario, Canada.  The same place the author Alice Munro is from.  If you don’t know who she is, she won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for her lifetime body of work.  She’s written The Love of a Good Woman, Open Secrets, etc.  So, that makes two famous authors from the same small town in Canada.  Kaufman is a producer, director, and a writer.  He has also written another novella entitled The Tiny Wife which was published in 2010 and a novel, The Waterproof Bible, which was published in 2009.  I’ll definitely be checking out these two works because I was happily surprised with his approach to telling a love story.  I gave this novella four stars on Goodreads!  Check it out!  Happy reading……

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.

                                                            ____ Gustave FLAUBERT

Get Qualified for TEFL!



Lifelong Learning

Learning is Life

Life is Learning

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Certificate Program

in conjunction with

Graduate School-Newark, Rutgers,The State University

of New Jersey  USA

Tuesdays, January 8 – June 4, 2013

The TEFL Certificate is a course for those of you looking into a portable career worldwide as a teacher of English or other languages. It is designed for participants with little or no teaching experience as a practical course which stresses teaching practice and hands-on experience over language theory. The methodology is dynamic and interactive emphasizing actual teaching and observation of teaching and learning. It will prepare you for employment in the field of foreign language teaching and instill a reflective approach to learning. You will become operational in various teaching methods in a wide variety of contexts in order to continue to develop throughout your career, wherever and whatever language or subject you might be teaching.

Participants who successfully complete all course requirements receive an internationally recognized TEFL Certificate in conjunction with Rutgers State University of New Jersey, Graduate School of Liberal Arts, Newark, New Jersey, essential for teaching English in France and other countries. Graduates also receive continuing education credits from Rutgers University.


Jacqueline Garçon is a practicing classroom teacher who has extensive experience teaching English, EFL/ ESL and French. She has worked in program design and management plus teacher education and French at Harvard University.  She engages in research, contributes to professional journals and presents at international conferences. She has an MA in TESOL from Boston University and an MA in French from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The course will be held in Paris near Montparnasse.



For further information please contact Jackie Garçon

at Languages & Lifelong Learning

Languages & Lifelong Learning, Association loi du 1er juillet 1901, noº Siret 51173895700014



32. Bubbles Unbound

Being that I don’t often read detective novels, so it’s a wonder a picked this one up.  A friend suggested it since I was looking for a light read.  Boy was it light!  Actually  wasn’t sure what I was going to get, but it was ditzy blond hairdresser becomes part-time reporter.

Bubbles Yablonsky’s “body resembles a Barbie doll’s and her fashion weaknesses are hot pants and tube tops.”(Bubbles Unbound, p. 1)  Do I need to say more?  She has divorced her husband and is mother to Jane, an adolescent who insists on dying her hair various colors with Kool Aid.  Bubbles’s husband Dan has to pay her education since she supported him all the way through law school.  Problem is Bubbles can’t seem to pass any of the classes at the local community college; until she takes a journalism class.  From there Bubbles becomes tied up in a complex, murder, which is linked to an apparent suicide from the past.

This book reads fairly quickly and doesn’t challenge the brain whatsoever, but that’s what I wanted.  Bubbles is likeable and says and does the funniest things.  Regardless, you’re behind her all the way.  You want her to succeed at getting her big break and writing her first story.

The writing style flows quickly but isn’t stellar and the story unfolds as Bubbles discovers clues through all of her crazy mishaps.  I also enjoyed the beauty recipes at the end of the chapters, like how to dye your hair with Kool Aid or the miracle face mask.  Some of the other characters are real comic relief like Bubbles’s mother and her friend Genevieve.  As for the character development of Bubbles, it  is probably going to occur throughout the series since it consists of six books including this one – Bubbles in Trouble, Bubbles Ablaze, Bubbles A Broad, Bubbles Betrothed, and Bubbles All the Way.

Problem with this book is that it resembles Evanovich’s earlier Stephanie Plum books.  I’m going to give Sarah Strohmeyer the benefit of the doubt and accept that there is room for another author to write this style of book.  Some may say that Evanovich is a better writer, but that is the opinion of each reader.  Certainly Bubbles Unbound won’t win her the Pulitzer but it’s not bad. I quite enjoyed it.  I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.  Strohmeyer has written many other books which were also successful bestsellers, like The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives, The Sleeping Beauty Proposal, Smart Girls Get What They Want, The Penny Pinchers Club, Sweet Love, and The Kindred SpiritsThe Cinderella Pact was even turned into a movie for television called “Lying to be Perfect” starring Poppy Montgomery.  Strohmeyer graduated from Tufts University and has worked as a journalist for various publications.  She now lives in Vermont with her family.  You can follow her on twitter at @sarahstrohmeyer or follow her blog on Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/26791.Sarah_Strohmeyer/blog

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.

  Tennessee Williams