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Outdated Facts Means Outdated Words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

More City/Street Origin Names

I couldn’t get enough origin stories, so here are some more, again courtesy of the 1968 book “Los Angeles: Portrait of an Extraordinary City.”

Pico Boulevard — Named for Pio Pico, the last governor of Alta California.

Redondo Beach — Named from Rancho Sausal Redondo, meaning “round clump of willows.”

San Marino — The name comes from the tiny European country. Wealthy landowner Benjamin Davis Wilson (called Don Benito by the local natives; this is why there is an elementary school in Pasadena with that name) conveyed land to his son-in-law, James de Barth Shorb, who named it after his grandfather’s plantation in Maryland. When Henry Huntington bought the land, he kept the name.

Santa Monica — Named for Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica. But how the area got the name is in dispute. Wikipedia says it’s either because of the feast day of Saint Monica or because of two springs that reminded missionary Juan Crespi of the tears Saint Monica shed over her son’s impiety. That son became Saint Augustine.

Sepulveda Boulevard — Named for Francisco Sepulveda. The street follows the northeast boundary of Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica, which Sepulveda owned.

Spring Street — Lt. Edward Ortho Cresap Ord was a surveyor who helped map Los Angeles in 1849. He named the street after his Santa Barbara sweetheart, Trinidad Ortega, who he called his “Springtime.” In Spanish, that word is “Primavera,” so on the map, it was called Calle Primavera in Spanish and Spring Street in English.

Tarzana — Named for the Edgar Rice Burroughs character Tarzan (Burroughs lived on a ranch there).

Watts — The area originally was part of Rancho Tajauta (I’ve also seen it spelled Tajuata). Charles B. and Julia A. Watts owned a portion.

Whittier — A one-time Quaker colony was named in 1887 for poet John Greenleaf Whittier.

Wilmington — Named by founder Phineas Banning after his hometown of Wilmington, Del.

Wilshire Boulevard — Named for Henry Gaylord Wilshire, noted Socialist, lecturer, publisher and promoter.

Until next time! Use the right words!

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Think You Know From Where These Names Came?

What’s in a name, or from where did that name come?

I am always fascinated by the names of streets and cities, and I often wonder the origins. Thanks to a 1968 book I found about Los Angeles, “Los Angeles: Portrait of an Extraordinary City,” I found some answers.

Alhambra — This city (current population: about 83,000) south of Pasadena is named for a Moorish fortress built in Granada, Spain, popularized by Washington Irving’s book of essays, “Tales of the Alhambra.” It was named by Benjamin Davis Wilson — the same person from which Mount Wilson gets its name.

Anaheim — A German colony was established there in the 1850s. As it was near the Santa Ana River, the people called it Anaheim, meaning “home on the Ana.”

Beverly Hills — Named by landowner Burton Green after Beverly Farms, Mass. Interestingly, Benjamin Davis Wilson was a previous owner of the land.

Burbank — Dr. David Burbank was a landowner, sheep raiser, dentist and builder.

El Monte — Spanish for “the wooded place” and so named because of the thick willow growth along the San Gabriel River.

Figueroa Street — named for Jose Figueroa (1792-1835), governor of Alta California who oversaw the secularization of the missions.

Los Angeles — In 1781, settlers named the town “El Pueblo de Neustra Señora La Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula (The Town of Our Lady Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula).” When Spain and Mexico owned California, it was shortened to “El Pueblo.” Under United States control, it was shortened to Los Angeles.

Pasadena — OK, this gets crazy. The word is from the Chippewa language (meaning “of the valley”), even though the area’s earliest residents  were Tongva. It again involves our friend Benjamin Davis Wilson. He owned much of the land, and in 1873, an asthmatic friend from Indiana visited him and, after enjoying three really good nights of sleep, wanted to recommend this place for his patients with tuberculosis. They started a company, sold stock and incorporated in 1874 as Indiana Colony.

By 1890, the colony still didn’t have its own post office (the mail went to Los Angeles), but the Postmaster General didn’t accept Indiana Colony as a suitable name. So, the town fathers put up three names to a vote: Indianola, Granada and Pasadena, suggested by Thomas Elliott, who had a missionary friend who worked with the Chippewa in Minnesota. Actually, Elliott suggested four Chippewa names, translated as Crown of the Valley, Hill of the Valley, Valley of the Valley and Key of the Valley. Everyone liked “of the valley.”

Until next time! Use the right words!

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

White Meat or Dark Meat?

I recently ate at my local El Pollo Loco. I love the chicken, unless it’s overcooked. With this particular meal, the thigh and leg were so good, my mouth waters at the memory.

The other thing I remembered was placing my order. I knew I wanted a two-piece combo, and I had to decide if I wanted leg and thigh or breast and wing.

I told the order-taker, “I’ll have a two-piece combo, dark meat.”

He looked at me and asked, “Is that the leg and thigh or the breast and wing?”

I looked stunned. This guy was clearly in his 20s — a millennial — so he had to know the difference between dark meat and white meat, right? Today is Thanksgiving. If he’s eating turkey, won’t somebody ask him if he wants white meat or dark meat?

I asked my daughter if he knew which was which. She responded, “I’m a vegetarian.”

I said, “I asked if you knew the difference, not if you ate the difference.”

She didn’t know.

Sigh. Millennials. Go figure, and have a happy Thanksgiving.

Until next time! Use the right words!

November 23, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Smart-aleck Move at the Networking Meeting

At one of my networking meetings, as we went around the room giving our membership introductions (aka 30-second commercials, aka elevator speeches), a woman who already gave hers stood up and apologized for interrupting.

“I have great news,” she said, “Darren is going to have a baby!”

People applauded. People shook his hand. People slapped his back.

I stood in front of the microphone and said with a smirk on my face, “No, he’s not. He can’t. But his woman is.”

She laughed and said, “Lee Barnathan, sit your ass down!”

She’s the same woman who claims this group is like a family, but I’m not sure she meant the laughter. If this group is a family, then I’m the smart-aleck uncle.

Until next time! Use the right words!

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

Six Years Later, Another Example of Gym Stupidity

I went to my local Crunch gym yesterday and saw every clock was an hour off.

When I finished my workout, I went to the front desk, where the general manager happened to be.

“When are you going to turn the clocks back?” I asked.

A look of recognition appeared on his face.

“Oh, daylight savings time!” he said.

“No,” I responded, “standard time. Daylight saving time ended Sunday.”

Yes, daylight saving time. Not savings.

I am reminded of how in 2011 the YMCA I worked out at put out a brochure that was titled, “Our Guiding Principal” when it meant principle and the executive director refused my offer to proofread everything. Read it here.

It obviously takes a special type of person to work at a gym.

Until next time! Use the right words!

November 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Only Say What You Can Back Up, Tommy

I’m not a fan of Tommy Lasorda. I find him mean-spirited, petty, two-faced, fat and incredibly phony who lost his teams more games by managing than anyone this side of Gene Mauch (look it up). So, it’s a pleasure for me to call him out.

After the Dodgers won Game 6 of the World Series, Lasorda was heard shouting at Manager Dave Roberts, “You haven’t won (bleep) until you win tomorrow!”

Easy for him to say. Lasorda never managed a Game 7 in the World Series. The 1977, 1978 and 1981 Series each went six games; the 1988 Series went five games.

In fact, only Walter Alston ever managed a Game 7 victory for the Dodgers, and he did it twice. Roberts failed in his first attempt.

Think before you speak, Tommy. Oh, wait. You don’t know how to do that, do you?

Until next time! Use the right words!

November 2, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment