Columns

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,...

A Word, Please: Meaning can get lost at a certain level

A Word, Please: Meaning can get lost at a certain level

In September, the “Chronicle of Higher Education” published an article by linguist and Harvard professor Steven Pinker titled “Why Academics Stink at Writing.”

Piece of Mind: The rhyme and reason behind our Top 10

Media outlets have been busy these past couple of weeks producing every kind of list possible that can sum up 2014. A nod is given to everything from the year's viral Internet memes to a mournful list of celebrities who have met their demise since last January. Not to be left out in the cold, the...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: A special night at Bal Blanc de Noel

“Dad, we got this,” Sabine reassured me. We entered the Bunker Hill Room of the Omni Hotel. Yeah! I have ice in my veins, but I have to admit I was overwhelmed as to the significance of the moment.

Around Town: Where to hook up with fresh fish

There were only nine recipes for fish in the La Cañada Thursday Club's 1980 cookbook, “Never on Thursday, Volume II.” There were three recipes for canned tuna, three for shrimp, one for crab meat (possibly canned), one for “fresh or frozen cod or haddock,” and one...

A Word, Please: A guide on how to write names of holidays

A Word, Please: A guide on how to write names of holidays

The new year, that is, New Year’s, is upon us. Soon after will come Presidents Day, also known as Presidents’ Day, then Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Veterans Day, Xmas and a bunch of other holidays no one knows how to write.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Faith's gift in the midst of horror

On Friday morning I received a heartfelt Christmas greeting from a Dr. Joe fan while I was at Starbucks. As he walked out the door he asked, “What you writing about for Christmas?” I commented, “I haven’t a clue!” He said, “Write a personal Christmas story about...

Around Town: The twists and turns of 'The Interview' controversy

Leave it to the Canadians to get us into trouble on Christmas.

A Word, Please: A mistake is not quite the same as an error

A Word, Please: A mistake is not quite the same as an error

Not long ago in this space, I wrote about exceptions to a grammar rule. I added, “But none of those exceptions apply in modern publishing.”

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: The call to destiny is rooted in character

Is it nature or nurture? Although we are genetically predisposed toward certain temperaments, experience and perception play a critical role in behavior. DNA is not definitive. Genetics may determine the cards we are dealt, but it’s my belief that experience, perception and will determine...

Around Town: A system is in place for justice

The unsurprising revelation earlier this month that Rolling Stone magazine failed to fact-check its article on gang rape at the University of Virginia proves, once again, that campus rape charges should be sent to the police, not to the student conduct board. (Around Town, “The ‘talk&...

A Word, Please: Don't beat yourself up over reflexive pronouns

A Word, Please: Don't beat yourself up over reflexive pronouns

Dave in Elkland, Pa., wrote to me recently about pronouns ending in “self” — myself, yourself, and so on — and how annoying they can be at times. “‘Myself,’ in particular, drives me near distraction,” he wrote.

Around Town: Pining for a less commercialized Hanukkah

It’s time for Around Town’s annual hat tip to dreidels, latkes and menorahs. Hanukkah, an eight-day Jewish holiday honoring the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem around 160 BCE (or B.C.) after the successful Maccabean Revolt against the Greek-Syrian soldiers who seized the temple...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Censorship serves as counterproductive force

While waiting for alchemy, Mamish, my daughters’ grandmother, carefully steeped the loose tea leaves in an old cracked ceramic porcelain teapot. Tea in an Armenian home is sacred. The girls’ grandfather Baba and their Uncle Raffi discussed the intricacies of engineering the repairs on...

A Word, Please: A holiday gift list for mindful language lovers

A Word, Please: A holiday gift list for mindful language lovers

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re a language lover. And if you’re a language lover, there’s a good chance your holiday gift list includes some birds of a feather — fellow language lovers who’d be delighted to get the perfect language...

Around Town: Gluten-free tips for those so inclined

After a successful kosher, dairy- and gluten-free Thanksgiving, with everything made from scratch, I’ve decided to take this whole gluten thing up a notch.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: A memorial to a hero and an alumnus

There’s a small vestibule dividing the front desk from the rear side of the campus at Flintridge Preparatory School in La Cañada. You might say it’s a hallway where teachers stop and chat before hustling off to class. However, I find deeper significance there. When I’m asked...

A Word, Please: It's not possible to badly split an infinitive

A Word, Please: It's not possible to badly split an infinitive

Not long ago while editing a series of articles, I noticed that the writer had strange ideas about where to put adverbs. Many were placed before the verbs and some before the subjects, too.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: NatureBridge program provides learning opportunity

I have various medals, most of which I’ve earned from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They signify a young man’s bravado and the misplaced intentions of the nation’s preoccupation with an ism it didn’t understand.

Around Town: 'The talk' can serve as an effective tool

La Cañada teens are fairly sheltered. Our town has a low crime rate. Yes, there are drugs, but no nightlife. Yes, there’s booze, but except for hurried drivers, the streets are fairly safe. If you run out of sugar, you can safely jog to the grocery store, coyotes and bears...

A Word, Please: There's correct, and then there's also correct

A Word, Please: There's correct, and then there's also correct

Sometimes it seems like grammar is all darned-if-you-do, darned-if-you-don’t propositions. If you say “Who are you visiting tomorrow?” some people will look down on you for not using “whom.” But if you use “whom,” others will think you’re out of...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: It's good to know the bear necessities

Bears! They're everywhere in La Cañada, stopping traffic on the 210, eating pumpkins on Viro Road and dining on trash at Baptiste Way. They've even caused lockdown situations at Paradise Canyon Elementary and Saint Francis High. It's typical of human imagination to create catastrophe...

Around Town: Let's sit down and do the math on Sagebrush

Common Core, for all its foibles, is the most misunderstood yet most effective method to comprehend the Glendale Unified School District's $23-million demand to resolve the Sagebrush dilemma.

A Word, Please: Here's an early grammar gift for the holidays

A Word, Please: Here's an early grammar gift for the holidays

Before you start composing your holiday cards and invitations, here’s a cautionary tale for you.

Around Town: Within city limits, hunting is an illegal activity

Camouflage-clad hunters, armed with bow and arrows, park on our streets and sneak onto our city trails. (“Deer draw sportsmen to La Cañada area,” Valley Sun, Nov. 5)

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Organization lends helping hand to wounded soldiers

While en route to a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada, Kaitzer reminded me that Lisa Baker, the associate director of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra was speaking. I would’ve gone, but the club’s former president, Tom Passanisi, would’ve made me sing!

A Word, Please: What's before who makes all the difference

A Word, Please: What's before who makes all the difference

I saw a fascinating online grammar discussion recently that I was eager to discuss in this column. But I can’t. It contained a bad word, by which I mean a great word — one of those anatomically specific insults that can make anyone the butt of a joke while simultaneously resonating...

Around Town: The Devil's Gate is in the details

La Cañada's real concern with the proposed Devil's Gate Sediment Removal Program in Hahamongna Watershed is not just the 150,000 truckloads or the removal of over 2.4 million cubic yards of sand and sediment. It's not the noise. Not the five years of traffic.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Change can often begin with a single voice

I appreciate the feedback I received on last week's column, “UC schools shouldn't overlook homegrown students.” I was beginning to...

818 Roundup: GUSD ups Sagebrush price; Schiff, Gatto, win re-election

818 Roundup: GUSD ups Sagebrush price; Schiff, Gatto, win re-election

Good morning, 818! Today is Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Temperatures for today are expected to reach a high of 89 degress and a low of 61 degrees with clear skies in the evening.

Start the Presses: Sagebrush Burning

Start the Presses: Sagebrush Burning

Sagebrush Corners: Glendale Supt. Richard Sheehan, left, and La Cañada Supt. Wendy Sinnette are locked in increasingly tense negtiations.

A Word, Please: Lay and lie can even trip up the dictionary

A Word, Please: Lay and lie can even trip up the dictionary

Not so long ago, the only people who had to worry about typos were named Gutenberg. Today, typos dog everyone with a keyboard, and that horrible feeling of realizing too late that a resume, important email or blog post contained an error is practically universal.

Around Town: Here's a not-so-scary guide to haunted fun

The Halloween season officially began in August at the Montrose CVS, and will conclude Friday night.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: UC schools shouldn't overlook homegrown students

Unquestionably, the older I get the more persnickety I become. It’s the curse of aging. Recently, I’ve read a plethora of articles about the politicians in Sacramento and other institutions of ill-repute betraying the youth of California by limiting UC admissions in lieu of out-of-...

A Word, Please: A listicle that spells things out for you

A Word, Please: A listicle that spells things out for you

Listicles are all the rage these days, or so young folks tell me.

Around Town: Coffee is a hard habit to break

I promised to write more about Bestia, but my regimen with Equinox trainer Mike Padgett is finally showing results, which is why Stumptown Coffee is a better choice than Bestia.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: A deeper look at the Kobani dilemma

I was a hawk, raised by members of the greatest generation, but the Vietnam War cured me of that infliction. I understand the precipitous nature of war and if you’re a good student of history, the ills of capitulation are readily discernible. The prosecution of war teeters on the razor’s...

A Word, Please: Taking a deeper look at the passive voice

A Word, Please: Taking a deeper look at the passive voice

Does the passive voice lend itself to biased, manipulative writing? A reader named Richard wanted to know after witnessing a discussion about a news article.

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