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A Word, Please: The word that is helpful and dispensable

A Word, Please: The word that is helpful and dispensable

“I have been told by some of my more educated friends that using the word “that” (see, I did it again) is many times unnecessary,” Randy wrote. “I was hoping you would weigh in on the technical side of when and when not to use that.”

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Misadventures and beyond

I had just lost five bucks in one of those dispensers in baggage claim at Midway Airport in Chicago. You know what I'm talking about. The ones that spit out those tiny, feeble metal baggage carts with the broken wheels.

Around Town: Resident to head a Marine battalion

Around Town: Resident to head a Marine battalion

For the first time in its history, the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, also known as “2/23,” headquartered in Pasadena, will be headed by a La Cañadan.

A Word, Please: 'Rules' are sometimes just a matter of style

A Word, Please: 'Rules' are sometimes just a matter of style

If you feel like one of the unfortunate few who missed out on a good grammar education, welcome to the club. Almost everyone I’ve ever talked to about the subject feels the same way — as if they were out sick the day that everyone else in school learned everything there is to know...

Around Town: Reasons for a later school return

Around Town: Reasons for a later school return

The debate continues over the August back to school dates.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Chronicling an area Boy Scout troop's hike

It was obvious Jeff Hengesbaugh would take a liking to the boy. They were cut from the same mold. Although Hengesbaugh is 70, he is half horse, half alligator, could leap the Mississippi, and ride upon a streak of lightning. I've even seen him whip his weight in wildcats. Many years ago we rode...

A Word, Please: A suffix makes a word, however pompously

A Word, Please: A suffix makes a word, however pompously

Here’s a bit of free grammar advice I once found online, offered up by a self-appointed expert who thought he could help all us poor, misguided grammar ignoramuses: “‘Firstly’ isn’t a word.”

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Experiencing both sides of a milestone

My mom, Giovanna Puglia, was born a coal miner's daughter in Monongah, a little holler along the Monongahela River in West Virginia. She was not prone to sentiment; instead, she developed a persona akin to Captain Ahab of the Pequod. This served her well when I was growing up in the Bronx.

A Word, Please: Clarity is a bigger asset than business speak

A Word, Please: Clarity is a bigger asset than business speak

Great news! I just received an action item — a request from a colleague to utilize core competencies. Here’s an excerpt from the email he sent me.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Rights, wrongs and the right thing to do

We live in an administrative world of crossing t’s and dotting i’s. Whether this mask of righteousness is labeled fascism or democracy, I am convinced that the greatest evil to individual freedom does not manifest in the sordid lairs of corruption that Agatha Christie loved to describe....

Around Town: Rousey rouses fear and admiration

Around Town: Rousey rouses fear and admiration

All roads lead to La Cañada.

The Focused Student: Organizing a satisfying study session is crucial

It should come as no surprise to you by now, that helping your kids develop better focusing skills is a combination of planning and flexibility. Hopefully, you and your family have developed some good study skills early on, but even if you haven’t, it’s not too late to improve your...

A Word, Please: A more complete story about sentence fragments

A Word, Please: A more complete story about sentence fragments

When I was a kid, the “Do as I say, not as I do” school of parenting reigned supreme. Those adults lecturing children on the dangers of smoking? Smokers, one and all.

The Focused Student: A satisfying homework session is crucial

It should come as no surprise to you by now, that helping your kids develop better focusing skills is a combination of planning and flexibility. Hopefully, you and your family have developed some good study skills early on, but even if you haven't, it's not too late to improve your situation.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Trip to Balboa is a personal eye-opener

I’m not a fan of Balboa Island. Too many people! Too many BMWs! And frankly, I don’t find the spirituality of sea, earth and sky there. Too many boutiques, cheap T-shirt vendors and electric cars! I am more inclined to love the Central Coast of California, north into the redwoods, and on...

Around Town: Time to respond to 710 project has come

Around Town: Time to respond to 710 project has come

Bravo zulu to LCF City Councilwoman Terry Walker for her letter to the editor against the 710 tunnel extension that ran in last Thursday’s Valley Sun.

A Word, Please: One more reason to distrust the news media

A Word, Please: One more reason to distrust the news media

Robert Siegel of National Public Radio, Jason Stallman of the New York Times and every other journalist who uses “fewer” with confidence, please take a seat. You’re about to get a lesson in language you didn’t think you needed. There’s a gaping hole in your grammar...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: A nun's suggestion leads to 'Mockingbird'

I blame Sister Mary Delores for turning me into a consummate reader. In 1960, Sister mandated we read 15 books during the summer prior to entering the eighth grade.

Around Town: Knowing when to place a 911 call

Around Town: Knowing when to place a 911 call

There’s this strange thing that happened on my iPhone. If I said, “Siri, charge my phone 100 percent,” the phone would announce aloud that I had five seconds to cancel a 911 call.

A Word, Please: The confounding black sheep of punctuation

A Word, Please: The confounding black sheep of punctuation

Here’s a fun thing you can do with your writing: Take any two simple, clear sentences and use a semicolon to mush them into one. For example, imagine you have a paragraph with just two sentences.

Around Town: Food book dishes up community

Around Town: Food book dishes up community

There's a lot of people rooting for La Cañada Flintridge native and Flintridge Prep grad Megan Kimble, the author of “Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food.”

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Hope's contributions should not be overlooked

It was Dec. 21, 1971. Bob Hope and the USO “On the Road Christmas Tour” were performing at Freedom Hill in Da Nang, Vietnam. Seeing Lola Falana and Ursula Andress was more than this Marine could hope for.

Piece of Mind: Resident comes up with a $15 idea

Having taken note of the recent tugs of war over the U.S. Treasury Department’s plan to replace a percentage of the $10 bills that now feature Alexander Hamilton with the face of a yet-to-be-determined woman of historical importance, La Cañada resident Rudy Cataldi came up with an idea.

Around Town: Reading of an 'Unprocessed' journey

Around Town: Reading of an 'Unprocessed' journey

Here's a thought: In preparation for my interview of a local author, I decided to actually read her book. I'm on page 45 and I can't put it down.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: The decision to reinvent a decades-old idea

The wind was blowing southeast from the direction of Glorieta Pass in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico. Since it came from the west, it was Zephyrus, the Greek god of the west wind. Zephyrus was the gentlest of winds and a messenger of the gods.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Taking down the 'Stars and Bars'

When I got to Vietnam I learned the only thing worse than being a second lieutenant was being a second lieutenant from New York City. A Yankee! I was consumed by college boy idealism. However, my opinions would soon collide with reality.

Around Town: Trip to Koreatown leads to delicious results

Around Town: Trip to Koreatown leads to delicious results

After months of procrastination, I finally made it back to Koreatown. My destination was the Kae Sung Market.

A Word, Please: There can be trouble with whomever and I

A Word, Please: There can be trouble with whomever and I

“Since I gave up hope, I feel much better.” The slacker attitude of this once-popular bumper sticker has gone the way of Lehman Brothers and pension plans. But if we apply the same idea to grammar, the message is timeless: Since I gave up hope, I talk much better.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: The farewell tour, maybe

I can’t say that my 36 years of teaching and advising students were all sunshine, roses and lollipops. However, I had a good run. I was part of the “shinin’ times” of Glendale Community College. Having Dr. John A. Davitt as president was a taste of Camelot.

Around Town: Getting a head start on next summer

Around Town: Getting a head start on next summer

Planning a trip to Washington, D.C.? Be sure to contact Rep. Adam Schiff's staff to request a tour. Last week, we had an amazing tour of the Capitol, guided by two college students — David from Harvard and Quinn from U.C. Berkeley. Both were locals. David graduated from Clark Magnet and...

A Word, Please: English users can write a wrong word

A Word, Please: English users can write a wrong word

The hardest thing about English grammar isn’t grammar. Not in the strictest sense of the word, anyway. Narrowly speaking, grammar has to do with the way we order and inflect words to make sentences.

Around Town: Praise for Davitt for trying to reason with Caltrans

Around Town: Praise for Davitt for trying to reason with Caltrans

Kudos to LCF City Councilman Mike Davitt for asking Caltrans to move their concrete batch plant and tower from the junction of the 2 and 210 freeways.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Reliving 'Time-out Tuesday'

When I was a kid, I was too stupid to be afraid of anyone. But as an adult, I was afraid of Sue Fuelling, Sabine’s fourth-grade teacher at La Cañada Elementary.

A Word, Please: There exists more than one form of there

A Word, Please: There exists more than one form of there

“A man is walking down the street.” “There is a man walking down the street.”

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Discovering Americana on the road

So I'm flying down Highway 72 heading west to Springfield, Ill., listening to “I Fought the Law and the Law Won,” by the Bobby Fuller Four. It's an oldie, but it's still a goody. My cellphone began ringing off the hook. It's rare that I have my cellphone, and if I do it's typically not...

Around Town: Summer means it's time for annual reading list

Around Town: Summer means it's time for annual reading list

School’s out. Summer is here and it’s time for the annual Around Town Summer Reading List.

A Word, Please: A wide array of influences drive 'through'

A Word, Please: A wide array of influences drive 'through'

Now showing at a news site near you: the spelling “drive-thru.”

Piece of Mind: We'll withhold a toast for obvious reasons

A concerned parent puts out the word she’ll be at a local coffee house at a designated time and hopes others of similar mind will join her. The topic that will be under discussion? Underage drinking by youths in our town. It seems the sentiment is that it’s time to get organized...

Around Town: Beyond the 710 an ideal solution

Around Town: Beyond the 710 an ideal solution

Until this month, the 710 Freeway connection battle was a zero-sum game. San Marino and Alhambra are pro-tunnel to reduce local traffic. LCF, South Pasadena and Pasadena are anti-tunnel.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Praise for a young team on Memorial Day

I hope you read me last week. I don't write these thoughts for my good looks; if you've seen my face, you'd understand. One of my street names in the Bronx was...

A Word, Please: Readers punctuate grammatical concerns

A Word, Please: Readers punctuate grammatical concerns

Some interesting stuff landed in the mailbag for this week. Let's dive in.

The Focused Student: Learning to manage the study platform

A key component in helping students to focus is creating a structure at home that places an emphasis on studies, yet allows enough time for extracurricular activities. Back in the days when I was growing up, there were no club sports other than Little League and that was played during the summer....

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Graduation -- when firsts become lasts

Brother Timothy Joseph, the dean of discipline, hadn’t forgotten about the shots fired over his head on the corner of Murdock and Nereid avenues in the Bronx. He was convinced that the boys who pulled the trigger were sitting in the last assembly of the 1965 graduating class of Mount Saint...

Around Town: Kudos to a fellow columnist

Around Town: Kudos to a fellow columnist

Are you shy? Do you recoil at the thought of your name in print?

A Word, Please: The dummy word that holds things together

A Word, Please: The dummy word that holds things together

Have you ever thought about the word “do”? My advice is don’t. The word “do” is one of the bugbears of English that make our language incredibly difficult to master — for nonnative speakers and even for people born into the English-speaking world. Almost no one...

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.

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