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Brick wall?

[ 2011-07-22 14:22]     字号 [] [] []  
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Brick wall?

Reader question:

Please explain this sentence, and “brick wall” in particular: Middle-aged dieters hit a brick wall after 10 pounds or so.

My comments:

“Brick wall” is a wall built with bricks. Before the advent of steel structure and cement plates toughened by iron bars planted inside, almost all buildings were built with red bricks.

Brick walls were tough – tougher than walls built with stone or mud.

In most cases at any rate – after all we’re not talking about jerrybuilt houses or bridges in China.

Or elsewhere, for that matter. The point of discussion here is “brick wall” the term itself and that stands for something tough and unbreakable, like an immovable object or obstacle.

If you hit the brick wall then, it means you’re facing a problem you are incapable of solving.

In the example from the top then, when middle-aged dieters are described as hitting a brick wall after 10 pounds or so, it means that for them, the first 10 pounds are easy to lose. After that it becomes really difficult to shed any more weight.

Almost impossible as a matter of fact, as though one were pushing against an immovable brick wall.

That’s part of the problem of being middle-aged, you see. Many people of that age tend to sit on their haunches most of the day, drive a car instead of walking to and from home, wine and dine a lot – business, you see – and, generally speaking, do little or no exercise at all. I heard of one such middle-aged man remark that the only exercise that he feels he does all day is when he hits the brake in traffic.

Well, easy to see then that it is difficult for such a middle-aged dude to shed weight.

The solution?

Well, let it bother them.

Here, we’ll remain focused on “brick wall” the term itself. Instead of hitting a brick wall, people are also often said to smash into a brick wall, like a car, i.e. hitting the brick wall hard, or talk to a brick wall (keep talking to someone who doesn’t listen), or one way or another keep coming up against a brick wall.

Anyways, here are two recent media examples:

1. More than 15 million American homeowners currently owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, up from 13.9 million in the previous three months. The numbers indicate that higher foreclosure rates could be on the horizon, a potential trend supported by a sobering report from real estate website Zillow.com that details 27 percent of homeowners are “underwater.” That’s up from 23.2 percent the previous quarter.

Economist David Blitzer with Standard & Poor’s tells Fox News the new numbers need to be put in perspective. Blitzer says, “First of all, you may have somebody who’s underwater, you know, they owe $200,000 on the mortgage and the house is only worth $198,000. Well, they’re technically underwater.”

That’s not much he says but, on the other hand, “You may have somebody else who owes $200,000 and his house is $75,000 and he is really way, way underwater.”

The areas most in need of a life preserver are Nevada, Arizona, California and Florida. Las Vegas takes the lead with more than 81% of all properties showing negative equity. Phoenix follows Sin City with nearly 70%; Reno, Nev., with almost 68% of homeowners underwater; Orlando, Fla., has 61.7%; and 58% of homeowners in Modesto, Calif., are drowning in negative equity.

- Homeowners Hit Brick Wall, With Many Owing More Than Homes Are Worth, FoxNews.com, February 09, 2011.

2. As a kid, Duerson was an exceptional all-round sportsman who could have pursued a career in baseball or in basketball. But it was football that he loved best. He started playing the game aged eight and carried on through school and into the celebrated football college, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, picking up numerous awards along the way. He had 24 full seasons before he hung up his boots.

He tended to play strong safety, a key position at the back of the team that is the last line of defence. He would be lined up against the big offensive players on the opposing side, men who can weigh 300lb and whose job it is to drive and grind their team forward. It was Duerson’s job to stop them, even if that meant crunching head first into the human equivalent of a brick wall.

It was when he was playing for Notre Dame at the Sugar Bowl, the annual showcase of American college-level football in New Orleans, that he met his wife of 25 years, Alicia. She wasn’t interested in football. But she was instantly struck by him the first time she saw him at a party.

“Dave could walk in and capture a room. He had a lot of charisma, he had a lot of magic to him. He was 6ft 2in, but the way he carried himself he seemed like a bigger guy,” she says when we meet in Chicago.

They married in 1983 after he graduated with a degree in economics. He had thoughts of going to law school or entering politics, but the draw of a professional career in football proved irresistible and he was selected to play for the Chicago Bears that same year.

Alicia and their four children attended every game. It was hard watching him take a battering in such a physical contact sport, but he was tough and competitive and she comforted herself that it was usually Duerson who delivered the pounding. “He wasn’t taking the hits, so much as giving them out.”

But over the 11 years he played as a professional, the family can recall at least 10 concussions that he suffered on the pitch. That’s the bare minimum, as he may have had many other knocks to the head that weren’t registered.

“He never came off the field and would always continue to play, so a lot of times I wouldn’t learn ‘til after the game,” Alicia recalls. Duerson would tell her: “I took a strong hit to the head, I’m a little dizzy, let’s drive home,” and would try and shake it off.

“Back then it was a man’s game,” she says. “Gladiator. Ra, ra. He'd say he felt nauseous and need to rest, and go and lie down for a while.” Within days, sometimes hours, he’d be back on his feet and back on the field….

Looking back on all the years on the football field, she’s angry that nothing was ever said about the dangers. The NFL has in recent years begun to take CTE seriously, amending its rules and bequeathing the Bedford VA brain bank $1m to fund its research. “We were never educated about brain injuries,” Alicia says.

In Duerson’s heyday, she recalls, if a player took a knock, the coach would hold up two fingers and say “how many can you count?”, the player would say “three” and the coach would send them back on to the field.

“They treated it like a joke,” Alicia says. “But that wasn’t a joke.”

- The NFL star and the brain injuries that destroyed him, Guardian.co.uk, July 19, 2011.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


Hand to mouth?

The wheat from the chaff

No axe to grind?

Got your goat?

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑陈丹妮)