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Know Profit Terminology? Here’s a Guide

Do you like money? Do you like profits? Dumb questions, right?

Still, if your company is in the black, you might need to know the following terms when reporting finances. Or maybe you’ve just wondered what they mean. I’m here to help.

Dividend — The amount stockholders get paid per share. They’re generally paid quarterly. If a company shows no profit in a given period, the company may be able to use earnings from profitable periods to pay dividends during lean times.

Earnings/losses per share — The figure obtained by dividing the number of outstanding shares of common stock into the amount left after dividends are paid on preferred stock.

Extraordinary loss/income — An expense or source of income that doesn’t occur regularly, such as loss due from major fire or revenue from the sale of a subsidiary. All extraordinary items should be identified in any financial-status report to avoid creating the false impression that the company’s overall profit trend has plunged or soared.

Gross profit — The difference between an item’s sales price and the expenses directly attributed to it, such as cost of raw materials, labor and overhead.

Income before taxes — Gross profits minus companywide expenses. These expenses include interest costs, advertising, sales costs and general administrative overhead.

Net income/profit/earnings — The amount left after taxes and preferred dividends have been paid. Sometimes, using just income causes confusion, so use income after taxes or net income.

Return on investment — A percentage obtained by dividing the company’s assets into its net income.

Revenue — The amount of money a company took in, including interest earned and receipts from sales, services provided, rents and royalties. If that figure includes excise taxes and sales taxes collected for the government, that should be noted in any revenue report.

Sales — The money received for goods and services sold.

Until next time! Use the right words!

September 9, 2021 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

After Labor Day, Let There Be Laughter!

With Labor Day past, summer’s symbolically over, even though the autumnal equinox isn’t until Sept. 22. Still, we all could use some laughter, so here are some more comedic stylings.

From listening to the comics I heard last weekend, you might think COVID is over, since the comics mostly didn’t touch on the subject (but, like summer, it’s not true, either). The only one who did was Chris Martin, who said his pandemic started by helping his father download Zoom while on FaceTime.

“It was a long day — and it took a day,” Martin said.

The comics have taken to the road again. Bil Dwyer (he says the second L is superfluous), knows he’ll never stay at a Motel 6. “We’ll leave the light on for you?’ How about hiring a security guard?” he demanded.

Jason Love is back working on cruise ships, although he has had to readjust. While on the boat, he stared out at the Alaskan horizon with the other comic and mused, “I wonder what the elevation is here.”

The other comic looked at the water and said, “Um, I think sea level.”

On that cruise, Love said, a medevac helicopter had to land on the Lido deck to transport some unwell passengers. Love said that people dining on the deck probably wondered, “How much does that excursion cost?”

Sean Grant has been to England, and now he understands why Brits think Americans are lazy: They don’t walk as much as the English. Grant asked a man how to get somewhere, and the man said, “Oh, it’s not far, a 40-minute walk…”

“If your walk is 40 minutes, that’s not a walk,” Grant insisted.

(To open his set, the London-born Martin responded to Grant by saying that he has seen Americans drive into a parking lot, not find any spots close to the store, and drive away even though there were plenty of spots farther away. “It’s like you’re saying, ‘There’s no way I’m walking five yards into that store,’” Martin retorted. “We don’t walk too far. You don’t walk far enough.”)

Dwyer also shops while on the road. He once came across a store that sold beauty supplies and prosthetics, an odd combination. “I’ll have the Paul Mitchell hair product and a foot,” he said. “Do they have impulse buys at the prosthetics store? ‘I’ll have a foot, and maybe some ears.’”

David Del Rosario is Cuban American, so he wanted to clear up some stereotypes. First, “Not all Cubans know how to swim.” Second, “Not all Cubans know a guy named Felipe who can get you a green card. The guy you want to talk to is Juan Carlos.”

Third, not all Cubans watch “Scarface” while their moms do cocaine on a nearby mirror. “OK, that one was true,” he said.

Love also took some time to remark on current events.

On Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album cover, in which Spencer Elden, the baby depicted on the cover, sued because his naked depiction was done without his consent (he was 4 months old at the time), that it violated child pornography statutes, and that be has suffered longterm damages: “Even on the cover, he’s chasing money.”

On the death of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts: “All the Stones made it longer than Jack LaLane.”

All comics mentioned are on YouTube. Check them out and see if you agree that Grant is, in his words, “a poor man’s John Legend” and Dwyer resembles “Mike Pence’s older brother.”

Until next time! Use the right words!

September 7, 2021 Posted by | Communication, Humor, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Make a “Federal” Case of It!

I hear a great deal about the federal government: People either like or complain about mask mandates, vaccine mandates, taxes, their congressional representatives, stimulus money, etc. 

What I want to complain about today is capitalizing (or not) the word federal. It’s actually pretty easy: Capitalize if you’re referring to an architectural style (the White House and Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, are grand examples) or for any corporate/government body that uses the word as part of its name: Federal Trade Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Farm Credit Board, Federal Housing Administration.

But when using the word as an adjective  to distinguish something from a state, county, city, town or private entity, don’t capitalize: federal government, federal assistance, federal court, federal judge.

(A note here: While federal judge and federal court are correct, U.S. District Court and U.S. District Judge John Brown are preferred.)

Then there’s money, or federal funds, which is money in excess of what the Federal Reserve says a bank must have on hand to cover deposits. It’s lowercase.

Until next time! Use the right words!

September 2, 2021 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Confusion Over Compass Capitalizations

I edit, and have edited, newspaper and magazine articles in my career. One problem I often encounter is what to capitalize. Some people tend to overdo it.

Of course, proper nouns get capital letters. So do many words in titles of books, songs, movies, TV shows and games. But one place I see confusion is with compass directions.

Basically, north, south, east, west, northeast, southwest, northern, southern, etc., is not capitalized when referring to points on a compass or compass directions, unless part of a proper name. So, North Dakota, western Montana.

However, when referring to a geographical region, capitalization comes into play — sometimes.

For example: Hurricane Ida developed in the South but moved north and east once it made landfall. It is expected to bring heavy rain to the East during the week.


High temperatures and extreme drought conditions will prevail throughout several Western states.

But with names of nations and states, lowercase unless they’re part of a proper name or widely recognized region: northern France, western Canada, Southern California, the Lower East Side of New York City, the South Side of Chicago.

Finally, when combining with a common noun to form the name of a region or location, capitalize both words: South Pole, North Woods, Western Hemisphere.

Next: to capitalize or not to capitalize the word federal.

Until next time! Use the right words!

August 31, 2021 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Needed: Caption Writers Who Know “To” from “Two”

Dear “Let’s Make a Deal” executive producer John Quinn, CBS, those whose promotional consideration were paid for by the following, and anyone else who hires the closed captioning writers:

You need to hire new caption writers. As I watched “Let’s Make a Deal,” Wayne Brady and Jonathan Mangum improvised a song to a particular music style. The contestant had five blind choices from which to choose and chose choice three. Then a second contestant had a chance to choose from the four remaining choices. Brady said to the contestant, “You can have one, two, four or five.”

Except the caption read “… one to four, five.”

Who writes this stuff? Do I really have to explain the difference from totwo and too?

(sigh) OK. Two is a number, too means “also,” “besides” and “excessively,” and to is for just about everything else (my dictionary has 26 definitions).

By the way, I am available to write captions if you decide to take me up on it (to here being part of an infinitive, or definition 20 in my dictionary). Just contact me at my website.

Until next time! Use the right words!

August 26, 2021 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If English Was Phonetic

If English words were pronounced phonetically the way Spanish and other Latin-based languages are, we might have these words and these definitions, none of which I created and all of which I found online:

arbitrator — someone who leaves Arby’s to work for another fast food place

avoidable — what a bullfighter tries to do

Bernadette — the act of torching a mortgage or credit card bill

burglarize — what a crook uses to see. Similarly, polarize is what white Arctic bears use to see

counterfeiters — workers who size and assemble kitchen cabinets

eclipse — what a barber does for a living

heroes — what a guy in a boat does

Left Bank — what the robber did when his bag was full of money

paradox — two physicians

parasites — what you see from atop the Eiffel Tower

pharmacist — a helper on a farm

primate — remove your spouse from in front of the TV/computer/phone

relief — what trees do in the spring

rubberneck — what you do to relax your wife, especially when she asks for it

selfish — what the owner of a seafood store does

Sudafed — litigation brought against a government official

Until next time! Use the right words!

August 25, 2021 Posted by | Communication, Humor, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When is a Lot a Lot?

One aspect of our language I do not always like is how words evolve into different meanings than their original usage.

Take lot, for example. It first appears in the Jewish Bible as a nephew of Abraham who escaped Sodom and Gomorrah, only to have his wife look back and get turned into a pillar of salt.

Around the 12th century, it added “an object used as a counter in determining a question by chance:” casting lots.

Then it grew to mean “one’s way of life or worldly fate:” one’s lot in life.

Then it became what I most often consider it: “a measured parcel of land having fixed boundaries and designated on a plot or survey:” a vacant lot.

Then it got bastardized into meaning “a considerable quantity:” a lot of money.

I grudgingly accept that last definition, but we already have so many better words: plenty, numerous, large, more than enough, etc.

I think using a lot to denote quantity makes you sound less intelligent. But go ahead if you’d like. Just never write alot because that’s not a word. Perhaps you mean allot, which means “to distribute, divide or appropriate.”

So, when is a lot a lot? Always.

Until next time! Use the right words!

August 24, 2021 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I “Respectfully” Ask You To Clean the Sink and Tub, “Respectively”

Every once in a while, I hear people confuse the words respectively and respectfully.

I searched “respectively + usage” and found several listings differentiating respectively and respectfully. I can’t recall anyone misusing respectfully when he/she means respectively.

Respectively means “in particular” or “in the order given.” Therefore, clean the sink and tub, respectively.

Respectfully means “with respect.” I guess you could say, Clean the sink and tub, respectfully, but it would mean you would have to approach the sink and say something like, “OK, Mr. Sink, I’m going to clean you now. First I’ll shake this cleaning powder into your bowl…” Then you’d have to step into the tub and say something like, “Please, Mr. Tub, I’d like to clean you now.”

See how silly misusing words can be?

Until next time! Use the right words!

August 23, 2021 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Not Use the Country’s Native Name?

For many years, I have wondered why we say and spell the names of countries in English differently than the country’s native tongue — when we can say that country’s name in our own language.

Example: Germany. In that country, the name is Deutschland. We can say DOYCH-Land just fine in English. Why, then, do we say Germany?

Another: Israel. In Hebrew, it’s pronounced YIS-ra-EL. We can say that, too. Why Israel?

Actually, there are perfectly good explanations for why this is so, but that’s not my point here. I want to show you some of the various country names in the native tongues that we could pronounce in English just fine, even if we have to slightly alter the spelling. Many of them would sound exactly the same.











Hong Kong–Heung Gong














Saudi Arabia–Al-‘Arabiyyah as Sa’ūdiyyah




South Korea–Hanguk




Vietnam–Việt Nam


Until next time! Use the right words!

August 19, 2021 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Get “High” with Proper Usage

It seems that wherever I go, I encounter CBD shops. Even on my recent trip to Lake Tahoe (elevation: 6,237 feet, although I stayed more than 7,400 feet up), I saw pot shops on the main street. This has prompted me to find various “high” words and discuss their correct usages.

High blood pressure — This is preferred to hypertension. Both mean the same thing, but the former more accurately describes blood pressure that is higher than normal.

High definition/high-definition — Two words for a noun, hyphenated for an adjective. The term refers to moving-image hardware and content that produces at least 720 lines of vertical resolution. Anything less isn’t high definition (or HD, which is acceptable on second reference).

High-five — It’s a noun. Note the hyphen.

High-fived — It’s a verb. Note the hyphen.

High-tech — It’s an adjective. Note the hyphen.

Highway designations — There are several forms: U.S. Highway 395, U.S. Route 1, U.S. 1, state Route 14 (note the capitalization), Route 66, Interstate Highway 95, Interstate 10 (but on second reference: I-10).

Highway patrol — It’s capitalized when part of a formal name of a police agency. In my state, it’s the California Highway Patrol. But highway patrolman is always lower case.

Until next time! Use the right words!

August 17, 2021 Posted by | Communication, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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