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Do You Live in a “Compound”?

The National Geographic Channel airs wonderful multi-part documentaries about a decade. The 80s were great, and now I’m watching the three-part “The 90s: The Last Great Decade?”

The second part began with the siege on the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco, Texas, that ended April 19, 1993, with the deaths of numerous Branch Davidian men, women and children, including their leader, David Koresh.

As we watched video of the flames engulfing the compound, my wife asked me, “Do we live in a compound?”

We live in a condominium complex. Is that a compound? I didn’t know, so I looked it up.

Compound, in this case, means “a fenced or walled-in area containing a group of buildings and especially residences.”

Three walls surround our complex. The fourth side, facing the street, is open to people entering by car through two driveways or by foot between the buildings.

So, we do not live in a compound. Do you?

Until next time! Use the right words!


July 8, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Your City Need A State/Country?

When writing names of cities, one might wonder if he/she needs to include a state after it.

The rule is simple: The more familiar the city’s name, the less likely it needs a state or country.

U.S. cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Miami and Dallas don’t require a state because it’s understood that enough people know these cities are  in New York, California, Illinois, Georgia, California, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida and Texas, respectively.

Similarly, cities such as London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Moscow, Jerusalem, Cairo, Shanghai and Tokyo need no countries because enough people know these are in England, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Israel, Egypt, China and Japan, respectively.

The problems arise when you have cities that few have heard, such as Lubbock or Palmdale or Davenport. Do enough people know these are in Texas, California and Iowa, respectively? Probably not.

What about Birmingham, Athens or St. Petersburg? Are they in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, or are they in England, Greece and Russia? You need a city or country with cities such as these.

There’s no shame in needing/not needing a qualifying city/state. It just means you’re smaller but no less special.

Until next time! Use the right words!

June 19, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Difference Between “DUI” and DWI”

I don’t drink much, but I read plenty, and I often read news reports about somebody caught driving drunk. When arrested and formally charged, the letters DUI appear, although sometimes I see DWI.

We know what they mean: Driving Under the Influence and Driving While Intoxicated or Impaired. But do we know the difference? I didn’t, so I looked it up.

In some states, no difference exists. In other states, DWI is more severe than DUI. Law enforcement uses one’s blood-alcohol level (BAL; also called Blood Alcohol Content, or BAC) at the time of arrest to determine which it is. In New York, a BAL of .07 and below means a DUI charge, while a BAL of .08 or greater means DWI. In Minnesota, there’s no difference, so  you’re paying a large fine and serving jail time for either charge.

In Texas, they’re treated as separate crimes. One can be charged with DUI from drinking/taking drugs and driving in public areas. The penalty for this Class C misdemeanor is a maximum $500 fine and at most 40 hours of community service. DWI means you have lost control of your vehicle while under the influence and driving in public areas. This is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas and carries maximum penalties of six months in county jail and a$2,000 find. And that’s just for the first offense.

In my home state of California, the names are interchangeable but trigger cases with the courts and Department of Motor Vehicles.  Section 23252(a) of the Vehicle Code: You’re DUI if you can’t operate the vehicle with the same caution and prudence of a sober person. There’s also 23252(b), which says you’re DUI if your BAC was .08 or greater.

After you’re arrested, the DMV requires you to appear for a hearing before 11 days have passed since being accused. Otherwise, your license is automatically suspended. Convictions for first time defendants can include heavy fines, jail time, license suspension, vehicle impoundment, mandatory ignition interlock device, DUI school, probation, and community service.

It really isn’t worth it to drink and drive. Hopefully, you’ll never have to know your state’s DUI/DWI laws.

Until next time! Use the right words!


October 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It Isn’t All About You; It’s About Us, Too

My wife works with young children at a school, and there is a gate with a sign that says, “For the safety of the children, please keep the gate closed at all times.”

That got me thinking. I remember hearing flight attendants say something like, “For your safety and the safety of others, please remain seated with your seatbelt securely fastened.” Given the society we live in, how much of this is really for the safety of the children and flyers?

Obviously, there is a need for these two groups of people to be safe. Children can run into the street and die by a car hitting them or be abducted, and airplane aisles are so narrow that if people are in an aisle, it becomes much more difficult for airplane staff to act appropriately in the event of an emergency.

But what if somebody accidentally left the children’s gate opened? What if you were walking to or from the lavatory when an emergency occurred? Bad outcomes could result, and you or your survivors probably would want to sue, given our litigious society today.

What the people/companies/organizations don’t say but should on those “for your safety” signs is For our liability.

When someone wants you to keep the gate shut, they want to ensure no child gets out, leading to a lawsuit. The same goes for airlines: Stay out of the aisles so you don’t get hurt and sue us.

What about other situations? I went online, searched “for your safety please,” and found sites devoted to kart racing, foreclosures and trees near power lines in Texas. Each instructed you not to do something for your safety:  race safely so you don’t cause accidents, don’t visit certain foreclosed homes, and  don’t work on trees near power lines.

Imagine if you’re racing safely but somebody crashes into you, causing you to break a leg. Now imagine you’re walking past a foreclosed home just as the owner with a shotgun chases away a realtor and fires at him/her but hits you. Finally, imagine you’re walking down a street and either a heavy tree branch falls on you or a downed power line electrocutes you.

Someone’s getting sued. I can almost guarantee it.

Think it can’t happen? Just remember the woman who sued McDonald’s after hot coffee spilled on her lap, causing third-degree burns on her thighs, buttocks and groin.

A jury awarded her $2.9 million, later reduced (thankfully).

Until next time! Use the right words!

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Were You “Raised” or “Reared?”

Often enough, I read that a person was born in a particular place and raised  somewhere else. Or, I’ll hear someone say  they were “proudly born and raised in Texas” or some other place. Every once in a while, I will read that an athlete was reared by a single mother.

So, were you raised or reared?


Each of the above mentions of “raised” and “reared” is correct. All living things (and inanimate objects) can be raised, but only humans are reared.

So get your rear out there and use the right words!

Until next time!

August 4, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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