Guaranteed to improve your English

What American Airlines Taught Me

Originally, I was going to write about a commercial I saw for American Airlines. Instead, I’m writing about how that commercial taught me a word I never knew existed (but probably should have.

The commercial in question dealt with American’s new “Premium Economy” seats, which is an oxymoron, but that’s not my point today.

One of the features is increased legroom. When I saw the commercial, I rewound my DVR to ensure I saw that right. Sure enough, there it was again: legroom.

I scoffed. It’s leg room. Two words. I decided this would be my next post’s subject. I even had a headline idea: “What is American Airlines Trying to Teach Us?” I also had a joke ready: Airlines are so cheap with space that they’re even eliminating space between words.

Then I checked the dictionary. It’s one word.

I still don’t know how I never realized this word existed. It goes back to 1926, so it’s not new.

So, good for you, American Airlines. Now, about those expensive seats…

Until next time! Use the right words!

December 28, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Somebody Teach These Networkers How to Speak!

We’re almost through the holidays. We gorged at Thanksgiving, we gave and received at Christmas and Hanukkah. Next week, we start a new year.

But before we do, I’d like to clear my queue of the nonsense uttered by networkers within my earshot.

The new years is coming — Somebody teach this guy how to conjugate the verb “to be!”

I get an annual ornament every year — Somebody teach this guy how to avoid redundancy!

I don’t know why, but Christmas is just around the corner — Somebody teach this woman how to use a calendar!

I don’t mean to undersell, but this is the greatest flashlight ever — Somebody teach this woman how to avoid fallacies!

It’s the thing to do. It’s an absolute thing — Somebody teach this guy how to avoid vagueness!

Finally, a networker who sells toys took questions:

Q: Do you deal with the FDA?

A: No, I don’t sell drugs. I sell drones.

Somebody teach this guy how to tell the difference between the FDA and the FAA!

Until next time! Use the right words!

December 26, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Outdated Trivia (and Incorrect Words)

I loved getting “The Bathroom Trivia Book: Nuggets of Knowledge for America’s Favorite Reading Room” from 1986. I finished reading it cover to cover and have uncovered more examples of statements that might have been facts then but no longer are (and, as a result, are using the wrong words).

Again, I looked up various online sources, including state marriage laws, the NFL rule book and Google, to find what’s changed.

For example, in 1986, the top 10 surnames in the country were, in order: Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Miller, Davis, Wilson, Anderson and Taylor. Today, Smith remains No. 1, but Jones is ahead of Brown, Davis is ahead of Miller, Moore is in the top 10, Taylor is ahead of Anderson, and Anderson is 11th.

Back, then girls as young as age 12 could get legally married in Kansas, Rhode Island and South Carolina. Now, it’s 15 in Kansas. In Rhode Island, brides under 16 need consent from Family Court; and in South Carolina, it’s 14, but you need notarized parental consent.

Here are five others. Again, the 1986 “fact” is presented first, followed by today.

  1. New Mexico is the only state with two official languages. Actually, Hawaii is the only one. New Mexico’s constitution does not state an official language.
  2. Home teams must provide an NFL referee with 24 game balls. Today, it’s 24 for indoor games and 36 for outdoor games.
  3. The world’s tallest building is the Sears Tower in Chicago. First, it’s now called the Willis Tower, and it’s the 16th tallest in the world. Second, it’s no longer the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. That honor goes to the new One World Trade Center in New York. Third, the tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
  4. Three thousand people get divorced each day. Now, it’s 3,200.
  5. There are no movie theaters in Saudi Arabia. Today, there is one, and it’s an IMAX theater in Khobar.

Until next time! Use the right words!

December 19, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Outdated Facts Means Outdated Words

Although Hanukkah began on Tuesday, my family got together on Sunday for our annual family Hanukkah gathering. In addition to the usual money I get, I received “The Bathroom Trivia Book: Nuggets of Knowledge for America’s Favorite Reading Room.” This interested me, and then I saw that this book was published in 1986.

That got me REALLY interested. I figured that there were some facts presented therein that are no longer true (so, therefore, the wrong words were being used).

Sure enough, I found some. First comes the book “facts,” then today’s, culled from numerous online sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state websites and some general knowledge I know.

  1. Women get married, on average, at age 21; men at age 23. Today, it’s 27 and 29.
  2. The only person whose birthday is a legal holiday everywhere in the U.S. is George Washington. Today, Martin Luther King joins him.
  3. Marilyn Monroe was the inspiration behind Tinker Bell in Disney’s “Peter Pan.” Nope, it was actress Margaret Kerry.
  4. The most common surname in the word is Chang (Zhang). Now, it’s Li (or Lee).
  5. Herbert Hoover lived the longest after leaving the presidency: 31 years.  Today, Jimmy Carter is at almost 37 years and counting.
  6. Park Street is the most popular street name. Today, it’s fifth (Second is first), but it’s still the most popular that isn’t a number.
  7. The three closest countries to the U.S. are Canada, Mexico and the Soviet Union. Of course, the USSR doesn’t exist anymore. Russia is now the third.
  8. And I end on a sad note. The World Trade Center has 43,600 windows. Today, it doesn’t exist.

Until next time! Use the right words!

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Scam from ‘Nam (by way of a German?)

I recently finished watching Ken Burns’ monumental documentary on the Vietnam War. That actually has little to do with this post, except that the following email I received reminded me of it.


I know you will be surprised to read my email. Apart from being surprised, you may be skeptical to reply me based on what is happening on the internet, one has to be very careful as a lot of scammers are out there to defraud innocent citizens and this has made it very difficult for people to believe anything that comes through the internet.

My name is Staff Sergeant Michael S. Douglass. I am a member of the US ARMY From Baghdad, Iraq now am in Afghanistan. because of the current ISIS problems. I discovered two trunk boxes containing American dollars.

Am looking for a trust worthy individual who will assist me to receive the funds in his country before 1 will come over and join the person. To prove my sincerity,  you are not sending me any money because most of these scams are all about sending money.

Information below is necessary,

  1. Full Name…
  2. Address….
  3. Occupation…
  4. Age……….
  5. Your Telephone Number.

As soon as i received this information, i will send more details to you.

Best Regards,

Staff Sergeant Michael S. Douglass


The reason I am reminded of “The Vietnam War” is because the email address that sent this scam email is “” is a German hosting company, and “.vn” refers to Vietnam.

There is no way an Army staff sergeant based in Afghanistan is using a German hosting company and a Vietnam country code. While it’s possible there really is a “Staff Sergeant Michael S. Douglass,” I couldn’t find one. I also doubt any real army person would write it out in full. I usually see it listed as “Staff Sgt.” Plus, there is an actor named Michael Douglas, so the scammers might be playing on that.

It’s obvious from the numerous mistakes that there is no way the person (or people) who wrote this speaks English as a first language. Do not respond to this!

Until next time! Use the right words!

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Naked Photographs” and Other Misspoken Words

A guy walked up to me at a networking meeting and told me the words of the day were “naked photographs.”

Given the fallout from Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Louie C.K., John Conyers — the list keeps growing, doesn’t it? — Bill O’Reilly, Al Franken, Donald Trump, Roy Moore and Charlie Rose, I thought the words of the day (week? month? year?) were “sexual misconduct.” But I listened.

He explained that it the photo itself isn’t naked; it’s the person in the photo.

I’m guilty of using the term “naked photos,” too. It never crossed my mind that I’m really looking at “photos of a naked person.”

I’m also sure that it never crossed the minds of the people who spoke the following that they were misspeaking.

I like to say … — And then you did.

They may not be able to resuss you — The person meant resuscitate. “Resuss” isn’t a word, although there is a British-English word suss, which is slang for “investigate or figure out.” It usually is followed by the word “out.”

Like many have said, it’s December — He spoke this on Nov. 30.

Thanks to Richard C. for the words of the day. Later, he emailed a question, “How do you separate yourself from the competition?”

I responded, “I usually walk away. Sometimes, I drive.”

Until next time! Use the right words!

December 5, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: