Columns

Burb's Eye View: A letter to a stranger met in passing

Burb's Eye View: A letter to a stranger met in passing

To the woman on West Elm Avenue who I visited early Saturday morning:

A Word, Please: Don't beat yourself up over reflexive pronouns

A Word, Please: Don't beat yourself up over reflexive pronouns

Dave in Elkland, Pa., wrote to me recently about pronouns ending in “self” — myself, yourself, and so on — and how annoying they can be at times. “‘Myself,’ in particular, drives me near distraction,” he wrote.

Learning Matters: Pageants can teach lessons outside of school

Learning Matters: Pageants can teach lessons outside of school

Last Saturday, I was at church for the opening rehearsal of the annual children’s Christmas pageant. I’ve spent the majority of my December Saturday mornings in this activity since our daughter’s first pageant appearance in the late 1980s.

Burb's Eye View: Nativity Festival finds faith in the details

Burb's Eye View: Nativity Festival finds faith in the details

Last weekend’s Nativity Festival was big on spectacle, but the small things really left their mark.

Read On: Twelve things to be happy about

Read On: Twelve things to be happy about

I think it's safe to say that no one will ever accuse me of being a Pollyanna who looks at the world in an overly positive way. In truth, I'm the world's most cynical and pessimistic optimist — so cynical and pessimistic, in fact, that the optimism part often gets lost. Since I began writing...

The Whiteboard Jungle: Appreciating the legacy of 'The Christmas Song'

The Whiteboard Jungle: Appreciating the legacy of 'The Christmas Song'

For years now on most Fridays, I begin class not with a grammar or writing exercise but with a music lesson as a way to broaden my students’ musical knowledge by playing for them some of the great singers and composers of the 20th century, artists I know they don’t have on their iPods.

A Word, Please: A holiday gift list for mindful language lovers

A Word, Please: A holiday gift list for mindful language lovers

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re a language lover. And if you’re a language lover, there’s a good chance your holiday gift list includes some birds of a feather — fellow language lovers who’d be delighted to get the perfect language...

Burb's Eye View: Helping local shops on 'Small Business Saturday'

Burb's Eye View: Helping local shops on 'Small Business Saturday'

By the time the third knickknack hit the bottom of the crinkly paper bag, I had the sudden, overwhelming epiphany that I had finished Christmas shopping for my sister.

Learning Matters: Getting help to the variety who need it

Learning Matters: Getting help to the variety who need it

Glendale and La Crescenta together make an appealing size for a community — big enough to be interesting and small enough to be knowable, with many resources to meet the needs of children and families.

A Word, Please: It's not possible to badly split an infinitive

A Word, Please: It's not possible to badly split an infinitive

Not long ago while editing a series of articles, I noticed that the writer had strange ideas about where to put adverbs. Many were placed before the verbs and some before the subjects, too.

Burb's Eye View: A message helps make a happy home

Burb's Eye View: A message helps make a happy home

When she moved into her new home on Lincoln Street this month, Elana Helgesen discovered a welcome surprise message: “Will you marry me?”

The Whiteboard Jungle: Teacher salaries say something about society

The Whiteboard Jungle: Teacher salaries say something about society

Back in 1998, when I was embarking on my 10th year as a teacher, I had an op-ed piece published in the Times about paying good teachers six-figure salaries as a way to attract and retain higher qualified people.

A Word, Please: There's correct, and then there's also correct

A Word, Please: There's correct, and then there's also correct

Sometimes it seems like grammar is all darned-if-you-do, darned-if-you-don’t propositions. If you say “Who are you visiting tomorrow?” some people will look down on you for not using “whom.” But if you use “whom,” others will think you’re out of...

Burb's Eye View: Family Promise works to reboot its services

Burb's Eye View: Family Promise works to reboot its services

Family Promise of the Verdugos began as a conversation.

A Word, Please: Here's an early grammar gift for the holidays

A Word, Please: Here's an early grammar gift for the holidays

Before you start composing your holiday cards and invitations, here’s a cautionary tale for you.

Learning Matters: The joys of performing poll-worker duty

Learning Matters: The joys of performing poll-worker duty

Election day is over, and I suspect most of us are relieved. As the League of Women Voters emailed, “… It’s once again safe to open the mailbox, answer the phone and leave the TV unmuted during commercials.” Yet for all the calls and emails, only 25% of registered voters...

Burb's Eye View: She knows how to tap into public transportation

Burb's Eye View: She knows how to tap into public transportation

A little over a year ago, Fay Playsted sat in the room at the Joslyn Adult Center, listening to someone from the L.A. Metro transit service talk about all the benefits of taking the bus or train. It made sense to her; she’d used the service for years commuting from Burbank to downtown L.A.

Read On: Election had little to do with facts

Read On: Election had little to do with facts

It's a weird thing sometimes to live in the United States, particularly when you feel so out-of-step with the masses — as I did on Tuesday night.

A Word, Please: What's before who makes all the difference

A Word, Please: What's before who makes all the difference

I saw a fascinating online grammar discussion recently that I was eager to discuss in this column. But I can’t. It contained a bad word, by which I mean a great word — one of those anatomically specific insults that can make anyone the butt of a joke while simultaneously resonating...

The Whiteboard Jungle: Parent involvement plays key role in schools' success

The Whiteboard Jungle: Parent involvement plays key role in schools' success

Lost in the middle of the midterm election coverage this week was a major press conference on Monday by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing a $150-million infusion into the Big Apple’s 94 worst-performing schools, creating community schools.

Burb's Eye View: Time to sit down and hammer out your story

Burb's Eye View: Time to sit down and hammer out your story

This month you may see more laptops than usual at your local diner or cafe.

Learning Matters: A Halloween carnival can be a thrilling opportunity

Learning Matters: A Halloween carnival can be a thrilling opportunity

Scarecrows, jack-o’-lanterns, hay bales and witches have appeared again at elementary schools across the district. PTA members have been setting up game booths, enlisting volunteers and gathering prizes by the boxful.

A Word, Please: Lay and lie can even trip up the dictionary

A Word, Please: Lay and lie can even trip up the dictionary

Not so long ago, the only people who had to worry about typos were named Gutenberg. Today, typos dog everyone with a keyboard, and that horrible feeling of realizing too late that a resume, important email or blog post contained an error is practically universal.

Burb's Eye View: This year's Secret Art Show slated for Nov. 22

Burb's Eye View: This year's Secret Art Show slated for Nov. 22

Last year, Cathy Stevens expected to walk into the art gallery, pick up something nice and scoot out the exit.

Read On: AT&T seems to have its wires crossed

Read On: AT&T seems to have its wires crossed

So while I hate to write about my own personal issues — actually, that’s a lie, there is little I like to do more — I must take the opportunity here to slam the stuffing out of a little company you may have heard of called AT&T.

A Word, Please: A listicle that spells things out for you

A Word, Please: A listicle that spells things out for you

Listicles are all the rage these days, or so young folks tell me.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Writing is a tough but worthy pursuit

The Whiteboard Jungle: Writing is a tough but worthy pursuit

Last week, I was invited to participate in the Local Authors’ Showcase held at the Buena Vista Library in Burbank.

Burb's Eye View: Checking out the happenings at OktoBURfest

Burb's Eye View: Checking out the happenings at OktoBURfest

This past Saturday, the city of Burbank held possibly the largest public beer tasting in its history, teaching the ale-and-lager-loving public there’s a complex spectrum to the craft-beer movement in Southern California, and Burbank may be the perfect hub to capture its hop-infused magic.

A Word, Please: Taking a deeper look at the passive voice

A Word, Please: Taking a deeper look at the passive voice

Does the passive voice lend itself to biased, manipulative writing? A reader named Richard wanted to know after witnessing a discussion about a news article.

Learning Matters: Today's GUSD student body features more diverse mix

Learning Matters: Today's GUSD student body features more diverse mix

A few years ago, a French-Armenian graduate student came to Glendale to gather research for her dissertation on Armenian communities in Glendale and Hollywood. I had the pleasure of spending several hours with her at the invitation of my City Attorney friend, Lucy Varpetian.

Burb's Eye View: It isn't too early to support the city's Santas

Burb's Eye View: It isn't too early to support the city's Santas

She didn’t know where the gifts of food and clothes came from, but Heather Brown knew that at Christmas, they’d be there.

A Word, Please: It's better to avoid writing upside down

A Word, Please: It's better to avoid writing upside down

London is a place that gets a lot of rain.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Taking son to school is enjoyable experience

The Whiteboard Jungle: Taking son to school is enjoyable experience

A couple of days ago was the annual Walk to School Day. Knowing such a day exists may raise eyebrows as to its need until you realize, as my fellow Friday columnist Joylene Wagner pointed out, kids just don’t walk to school anymore.

Burb's Eye View: A late train, a hot sun and a true adventure

Burb's Eye View: A late train, a hot sun and a true adventure

Stepping out into the bright morning from Union Station, we were disoriented. We hopped on our bikes and rode a couple blocks into Chinatown, where we found ourselves smack in the middle of a parade.

Leader Cartoon: Turn up the AC!

Leader Cartoon: Turn up the AC!

Bert Ring expresses the feelings of many Burbankers during the heat wave.

Learning Matters: Students seem to have less independence

Learning Matters: Students seem to have less independence

Over the last few years, thanks to the work of parent and traffic-safety advocate Kara Sergile, I've had experience as both a valet drop-off lane attendant and a "walking school bus" volunteer with R.D. White Elementary.

A Word, Please: Some confusion over jobs that pay well

A Word, Please: Some confusion over jobs that pay well

Tom in Glendale, Calif., wrote with an interesting question about a newspaper headline that mentioned "well-paying jobs."

Intersections: Armenian wool's international tale weaves itself

Intersections: Armenian wool's international tale weaves itself

When you tell people that you've got a bag of sheep's wool in your possession, the first thing you get asked is, "Can I touch it?"

Burb's Eye View: The pumpkin glut can only mean one thing

Burb's Eye View: The pumpkin glut can only mean one thing

My local Trader Joe’s has once again transformed into a purveyor of all things pumpkin. It’s as if the Pumpkin Innards Fairy launched itself from its pumpkin patch, gathering the masses of discarded jack-o’-lantern glop to insert them into every baked good, coffee product and...

News-Press Cartoon: People driving badly

News-Press Cartoon: People driving badly

Bert Ring gives his take on Glendale, again, being tagged with some of the nation's worst drivers.

Read On: Taking a trip to Ferguson, Mo.

Read On: Taking a trip to Ferguson, Mo.

I have to admit that when Barack Obama was elected president of the United States back in 2008, it seemed not only historic but incredibly exciting to everyone in my liberal-minded circle. A black president, in our lifetime. It was glorious. I felt fortunate to be alive to witness it.

 A Word, Please: Don't forget to send punctuation a card

A Word, Please: Don't forget to send punctuation a card

National Punctuation Day, which took place on Wednesday, turned 10 this year. The brainchild of Northern California education booster Jeff Rubin, the annual event aims to help kids learn about periods, commas, quotation marks and the rest.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Teachers could use help outside the classroom

The Whiteboard Jungle: Teachers could use help outside the classroom

Years ago, doctors took blood pressure, drew blood and administered medicine. Today, medical assistants perform these duties.

Burb's Eye View: A teen and tween go for the extreme

Burb's Eye View: A teen and tween go for the extreme

A few years ago, the Flores brothers first evaluated the Extreme Cowboy Assn. and their place within it with all the rigor and careful planning that a 15-year-old and an 8-year-old could muster.

 A Word, Please: A notion writers should be disabused of

A Word, Please: A notion writers should be disabused of

If I had a nickel for every time I've written about ending sentences with prepositions, I'd be about 5 cents shy of that Frappucino I've had my eye on. (I'd probably also be one of the top earners in what remains of the newspaper industry, but that's a subject for another day.)

Learning Matters: GUSD features share of homegrown employees

Learning Matters: GUSD features share of homegrown employees

A few weeks ago, a colleague and I went to Daily High School to meet with the new principal Rene Valdes, about a school-to-career grant we're working on. Deb Rinder, whose responsibilities include the high schools, joined us for the conversation.

Burb's Eye View: Twelve-year-old raises funds in friend's memory

Burb's Eye View: Twelve-year-old raises funds in friend's memory

Before an ounce of soapy water soaked the first windshield at 12-year-old Will Jurman's car wash, he'd already earned $900 in memory of his friend.

 A Word, Please: The No. 1 reason for numeral inconsistency

A Word, Please: The No. 1 reason for numeral inconsistency

A reader named Loretta recently wrote to me after making a very astute observation.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Decision-making process should also include teachers' input

The Whiteboard Jungle: Decision-making process should also include teachers' input

In the game of education, there are many players: students, parents, teachers, administrators, district officials, state and federal politicians. Too often, the group that has the most contact with the students — the teachers — is not part of policy decision-making.

Burb's Eye View: UFOs are nothing alien to this author

Burb's Eye View: UFOs are nothing alien to this author

In Burbank, there are UFOs and then there are UFOs.

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