Columns

A Word, Please: Admiration and helpful hints for salespeople

A Word, Please: Admiration and helpful hints for salespeople

Once upon a time, in another life now recalled only in nightmares, I was a salesperson. My longest-held position (which I didn’t hold for long) required me to go door-to-door in office complexes trying to get companies to change their long-distance telephone service.

Around Town: We might as well laugh about it

Based on a recent Around Town informal survey, La Cañadans are bummed by the burglaries, tired of the traffic and dumbfounded by the drought. In the spirit of offering useful commentary designed to lift your spirits, here is the Around Town inaugural “Top 10 Burglary, Drought and...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Creating value in school is crucial

Last Thursday morning Kaitzer was multitasking — folding laundry, making lunches, signing permission slips and tutoring the girls for their week’s-end quizzes. I was busy looking for my car keys. Our kitchen resembled the last frantic moments prior to jumping off a chopper into a hot LZ.

A Word, Please: There's a thin line between right and wrong

A Word, Please: There's a thin line between right and wrong

Like everyone who lives in Los Angeles County, I've spent the last several weeks picturing myself in a jury selection pool for the Robert Durst trial.

Piece of Mind: The basic necessity of life itself

My name is Carol, and I am addicted to water.

Around Town: Drought dries up lush-lawn dreams

Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an order for statewide mandatory water reductions.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Using vigilance as a weapon in looking at safety

On the La Cañada Flintridge Parents group Facebook page, vigilant neighbors have posted pictures of suspicious vehicles casing neighborhoods, looking for the easy mark. A...

A Word, Please: Some commas can give an editor pause

A Word, Please: Some commas can give an editor pause

A lot of people are taught that a comma goes anywhere you want to indicate a pause. On the surface, that system appears to work out fine. Commas often do just that. But not always.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Putting the pieces together

I've received numerous emails relative to our daughter Sabine's Girl Scout Gold Award project, “An Oral History of Soldiers.” After I wrote that she was embarking on the project I was personally asked a multitude of questions that connect to the feelings of veterans relative to their...

Around Town: Crime prevention starts at home

There's a startling rise in burglaries ever since Proposition 47 and AB 109 took effect. Under Proposition 47, many drug offenses, formerly felonies, have been reclassified as misdemeanors and under AB 109, certain state prisoners were released to the county jails.

A Word, Please: Idiom takes the wind out of proper sails

A Word, Please: Idiom takes the wind out of proper sails

They say marriage is all about give and take. Compromise. Meeting each other halfway. But to read my emails over the years, you could only conclude that marriage is about something quite different: winning. Specifically, winning arguments. More specifically, winning arguments about grammar.

The Focused Student: The joys of rewards and consequences

It's easy for parents to become confused when kids are having trouble with schoolwork. I can't tell you how many times I've had parents ask me, “I feel helpless. How do I motivate my kids? Are they just lazy? Rewards, punishment, what really works?”

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: The 'espiritu' of the LCHS choral artists' tour

Espiritu! The theme of the La Cañada High School choral artists as they ventured through Spain translates from Latin to English as “spirit.”

Around Town: Burglaries may be linked to Prop. 47

There's been another rash of burglaries in La Cañada, but first, a disclaimer: Around Town is a lifestyle column. Nothing in this column constitutes legal advice.

A Word, Please: Some rules we don't have to abide by

A Word, Please: Some rules we don't have to abide by

The essence of drama, as they say, is conflict. Comedy is no different, as every show from “The Honeymooners” to “30 Rock” proves.

Around Town: Restaurant is no longer a secret

It's hard to keep a secret in La Cañada.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: The characters are real to him

Frankly, I wasn't that impressed. I've been in skyscrapers before. The Century Plaza Towers were no match for the Art Deco elegance of the Chrysler building that stands majestically at the corner of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

A Word, Please: There's a sound reason to use 'a' or 'an'

A Word, Please: There's a sound reason to use 'a' or 'an'

Steve in Glendale wrote to tell me about a snag he hit recently when writing about a blogger on a National Public Radio website.

Piece of Mind: The long road toward rethinking transportation

Piece of Mind: The long road toward rethinking transportation

Attachments. We all form them, not only to people, pets, personal belongings and places, but also to our daily routines. Some of those bonds are vital to our happiness; some we could shed.

Around Town: Tunnel proposal lacks true vision

Last week, Caltrans issued a voluminous environmental impact report (EIR) on the proposed 4.5-mile underground freeway connection between the 710...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: City leaders should serve the electorate

Never in a million years would I ever have considered compiling some Dr. Joe thoughts regarding the exclusivity or the nonexclusivity of trash haulers in La Cañada. I've got bigger fish to fry, especially with baseball season on the horizon.

A Word, Please: There's no use calling a word not a word

A Word, Please: There's no use calling a word not a word

If you do a Google search for the term “isn’t a word” and throw in the term “grammar” to sift out the silliness, you’ll get a lot of hits. Most of them are people saying that some word isn’t a word. Or that some other person said that some word isn’t a...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Recalling a former Black Cow patron

I don’t view myself as a creature of habit but I have become susceptible to routine. Table 10 in the café was occupied; subsequently, I decided to sit at table 11. Since Nate Neven, the morning barista, created the perfect café latte, the Black Cow Café in Montrose was a...

Around Town: The best way to learn a language

Following the recent dust-up over teaching Mandarin in the local high school, the La Cañada Unified School District should note that there are a lot of smart people in this town with free advice, even though the U.S. Department of Education just announced that “more than $63.3 million&...

A Word, Please: Speakers shall say whatever they will

A Word, Please: Speakers shall say whatever they will

History has never been my subject, a fact I attribute to my “cut to the chase” type of thinking. In history, the chase always goes: Dude One fights Dude Two for the right to control Thing A and, when a victor emerges, everyone has to live under dude rule.

The Focused Student: How to win the daily homework showdown

Last month I introduced “The Focused Student” and I must say the response has been positive. Thanks for taking the time to read this column. I know you want to help your kids, and I hope my ideas will be useful.

Around Town: Learning a language isn't the same as speaking it

Applying to college? Now that we've discussed the advantages of being multilingual, it's time to take another look at the issue.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Seeking answers during a Texas visit

Davy Crockett, as a congressman from Tennessee, lost his third bid for the office to a man with a wooden leg.

A Word, Please: An editor's effort to correct a pet peeve

A Word, Please: An editor's effort to correct a pet peeve

Did you hear the one about the guy who went onto Wikipedia and deleted 47,000 instances of the phrase “comprised of”?

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Reagan and the return of U.S. optimism

On April 30, 1975, the fall of Saigon was the culminating moment, representing the spiraling decent of American prestige throughout the world. On the evening news Americans witnessed images of Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians and the remnants of...

Around Town: Wealth didn't cultivate understanding

The cherry trees are blossoming at the Descanso Gardens tea house and it's snowing in New York.

A Word, Please: An eggcorn is also known as a mondegreen

A Word, Please: An eggcorn is also known as a mondegreen

When enough people use a word wrong, eventually it becomes right. That’s how every word in the language came to be. People started using a word differently than before (read: wrong) and it caught on and at one point started being right.

Around Town: A guide for getting through a cold or flu

If, like me, you hardly ever get sick, there’s one advantage to catching the common cold or flu with the optional cough enhancement.Television. Nothing beats a binge day.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Speaking from the heart at Scout event

Last Sunday I spoke at an Eagle Court of Honor. Five Boy Scouts from Troop 398 were receiving Scouting's most prestigious award: Eagle Scout. Those being honored were Jacob Abbott, Chad Anderson, Jax Jacinto, Robert O'Brien and Matt Olson.

A Word, Please: Left dangling, a participle can lose its logic

A Word, Please: Left dangling, a participle can lose its logic

Danglers are an extremely important language concept. Not so much for writers as for jokesters. Danglers in writing and speech don’t necessarily hurt the reader. Often the message comes across just fine despite this dreaded error.

Around Town: It's time for the NFL to pay taxes

Now that the Super Bowl is behind us, it's time to take on the tax code.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: An out-of-town trip provides inspiration

If I believed in writer’s block, I’d use it as an excuse for not being able to conceptualize my topic for the week. My mind has been on overdrive and regardless of how many brain cells I’ve burned, I ain’t got no thoughts from Dr. Joe. In the last 12 years, “Thoughts...

The Focused Student: Helping teens learn, grow and succeed

After years of teaching, I've come to the conclusion that — even here in La Cañada — most teenagers drive their parents a little crazy. I'm highly qualified to make this diagnosis, as I'm the father of two teens as well as the executive director of the Hillside School and Learning...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Exploring the deeper meaning of patriotism

When I was a kid, the criticism of older people would tick me off. I'd wonder what right the old geezers had to criticize me. Of course, now that I'm an old geezer, I understand the importance of an adult in being an adult. My beef is found within the context of a great story.

Around Town: The benefits of being multilingual

Years ago, on a trip to Guayaquil, Ecuador, a friend complimented me on my Spanish fluency. She said, “Es un adorno para saber un otro idioma,” which literally means that a fluency in a second language is an ornament.

A Word, Please: Ten common usages mistaken for mistakes

A Word, Please: Ten common usages mistaken for mistakes

Some people just love to correct others’ grammar and usage. They know it rubs people the wrong way. But they justify it like this: “I’m doing the poor ignoramuses a favor. I’ll endure their resentment for their own good. I’m no hero. Just your average, everyday martyr.&...

Around Town: Adjusting to life with a new pet

Our house has been so quiet ever since the death of Miss Audrey Hepburn, our black Lab rescue dog from the Pasadena Humane Society. We all miss her, and we are still adjusting to the...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Collecting war stories seldom told

Harold Krebs was like any other boy in the one-horse Oklahoma town. The only difference was, he returned from World War I well after the Marine Second Division came home. Krebs arrived home too late to a hero’s welcome and struggled with integrating back into a post-war society. He had been at...

A Word, Please: Grammar lists often forget to check the facts

A Word, Please: Grammar lists often forget to check the facts

If you search the Internet for the term “grammar mistakes,” you’ll get a lot of hits, many of them published lists that school you on the linguistic atrocities people supposedly commit every day.

Around Town: Ceremony lifts us up in insecure times

After the murders in France, it was a relief to attend the change of command ceremony for the 2d Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment in Pasadena.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Political correctness is a dangerous weakness

Marianne is the national symbol of the French Republic, an allegory of liberty and reason. She is the Goddess of Liberty. You’ve seen Eugène Delacroix’s painting of her called “Liberty Leading the People.” Her caricature was popularized during the July Revolution in...

A Word, Please: 'Graduate' is a grammatical free-for-all

A Word, Please: 'Graduate' is a grammatical free-for-all

National Public Radio recently asked listeners to submit their top grammar peeves.

Around Town: When a lawyer had the region to himself

La Cañada Flintridge boasts more lawyers and judges per square foot than any other region in the county. Do you want proof? I don’t have any, just an opinion based on anecdotal evidence.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Zamperini's life is an inspiring story

The cheers of the crowd on Colorado Boulevard muted the steady gait of Traveler, the University of Southern California mascot as he preceded the marching bands, equestrian units, floats and carriages. Traveler, the riderless horse, moved with solemn deportment while representing a fallen soldier,...

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