Columns

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.

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.”

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