Columns

Piece of Mind: The sublimity and solemnity of Fiesta Days

An outsider dropped into our midst as this holiday weekend unfolds might wonder if our population ever rests. There will be no shortage of activities, despite what some restless kids who live in our “bubble” might want to claim.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Prom captures a moment in time

My eighth-grade teacher, Sister Delores, said, “Angels protect fools and Joe Puglia.” At the time, I wasn't sure that was a good thing; however, considering the insanity of life that was to follow: I think it was.

Around Town: Two memorial holidays coincide

Around Town: Two memorial holidays coincide

Memorial Day 2015 comes two weeks after Mother's Day. It also coincides with a Jewish memorial service that is held four times a year.

Around Town: Ginsburg's dissent inspires a gift

Hands down, my favorite Mother's Day present is the “Notorious RBG” T-shirt from our daughter.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Two important holidays can sadly coincide

This week, my thoughts turn to mothers and Memorial Day. I hope to remind you that the latter is not complete without attending the La Cañada Memorial Day Commemoration: May 25 at 9 a.m. in Memorial Park. Telling a story is the best way I can express the significance of both Mother's Day,...

A Word, Please: Tips on how to avoid common apostrophe errors

A Word, Please: Tips on how to avoid common apostrophe errors

Let’s face it, grammar is more important for some people than for others. An ambulance driver probably has more important things to worry about than whether to hyphenate adverbs ending in “ly.” (FYI: Don’t do it.)

Around Town: A wide variety of breakfast options to choose from

May has arrived and the rains are over. Maybe your kids are home from college, or your high school senior is ready for a mental health day, or your mom is visiting. Maybe you have a new baby or just got out of that spin class. Whatever the reason, it’s time for breakfast and you don’t...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: School concert was layered with meaning

The other evening, the La Cañada High School choir opened its pops concert with Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.” I was transported to the ’60s, a time of wandering. The lyrics are heady. Its symbolism speaks to the prophets’ frustration with the...

A Word, Please: For tighter writing, watch out for danglers

A Word, Please: For tighter writing, watch out for danglers

How big a problem is the dreaded dangler? In the real world, maybe not so big. Danglers, though sometimes serious, often aren’t so bad. Some don’t harm your message at all and could slip by even the most careful reader. But for anyone who puts a premium on precision, it’s a good...

The Focused Student: Ideas for boosting student engagement

Up until now, we've been talking in this space about how to use some accountability techniques to help students focus on their schoolwork. But, as I wrote earlier this year, there's more to a focused student than handing in homework on time.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: A look at one of life's rituals

I should probably heed the words of my philosophy professor, Sister Audrey: “When you're about to put your foot in your mouth, shut up.”

Around Town: A housing project too big to build

Maybe in 50 years, if Iran or North Korea or Isis haven't blown the world up, Foothill Boulevard will be a mini Westwood/Wilshire corridor with high-rise condos lining the street.

A Word, Please: Being an expert is all well and good

A Word, Please: Being an expert is all well and good

When someone asks how you’re doing, can you respond “I am good”? Or is the only correct form “I am well”? And why?

Around Town: Looking at drought's effect on state's Central Valley

It’s easy to treat California’s drought as a weather-induced problem, but when you travel through the Central Valley, you’ll find another analysis.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Appreciating the marvel of the sea

I'm drawn to the sea. Its unfathomable nature is compelling, mysterious and wild. When there, I rarely have a thought that isn't about the sea. Evolutionary science suggests we evolved from it. In our veins the same percentage of salt water in our blood exists in the ocean. When I return to the sea,...

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.

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