Homonyms, Homophones, and Other Confusingly Similar Words

damage (noun) injury or harm that reduces value or usefulness
damages (Law) money paid as a result of lawsuit

prophecy (noun) foretelling or prediction of what is to come
prophesy (verb) to foretell or predict

prostate the gland
prostrate lying face down

track (noun) a course or route followed
tract (noun) an expanse or area of land, water, etc.; region; stretch

See my master list of all the homonyms, homophones, and other confusingly similar words I’ve posted to date

I was thumbing through Bill Walsh’s Lapsing Into a Comma, a style guide for American English usage in the computer age, and I found this interesting bit of advice involving two words I sometimes mix up: desert and dessert.

“DESERTS: SORRY, NO CAKE When you say someone got his just deserts, desert is spelled like the arid region, not the sweet treat. (Think of it this way: It’s what a person deserves, not desserves.)”

You can do a lot worse with any free time you may have than picking up Bill Walsh’s book, subtitled “A Curmudgeon’s Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print–and How to Avoid Them.”

Bill Walsh is the chief copy editor in the business section of the Washington Post. Bill answers questions about grammar and clear writing, effective communication at www.theslot.com.


Bear essentials provided at meeting – DailyBulletin.com

1bear31-thumbMore about BooBoo’s killing last month. Thursday evening, Aug. 20, San Antonio Heights residents had a community meeting about the shooting of a young black bear that had been hanging around the foothill community the last couple of months. An unnamed sheriff’s deputy fired the shots that ended the life of the bear some residents had nicknamed BooBoo.

From the article:

‘Residents at the meeting were given ideas of how to prevent bears from becoming neighborhood regulars, such as keeping trash secure until the morning of garbage day and eliminating food sources.

The death of the bear could have been a result of the bear’s love of the residents’ garbage, officials said.

“We can occasionally dart (bears) and move them around, but the only thing we have control over is the people,”  Stefanak said.’

Bear essentials provided at meeting – DailyBulletin.com

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UPDATE: The controversy over BooBoo’s killing continues into September. Here is an article from the Sept. 11 issue of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin that sheds new light on BooBoo’s death, but doesn’t, in my mind, resolve whether this was a justified shooting or not.

Resident supports deputy who shot ‘Boo Boo”

Mobile Home Owners, Unite!

And now for something completely different. Let me climb up on my soapbox… Could you please give me a hand up? Whew, that’s quite a step. Oh, I can see your house from here. There’s your mom, working in the garden, and your sister running up the driveway! What’s that in her hand? Anyway, here we go:

Ladies and Gentleman,  I am a mobile home owner. Yes, I live in what some of you refer to (erroneously & slanderously)  as a “trailer park.”  We call ours Oasis Mobile Estates, thank you very much.

Wipe that smirk off your face, it makes you ugly. Don’t think you’re all that much better sitting in your tract home, that shoebox dominated by a big ol’ garage door out front. Or that fancy prison cell you call a “luxury” apartment in some rabbit warren of an apartment complex next to the freeway.

Princess Ann Louise Bananas

Princess Ann Louise Bananas

Who are you to smirk? I see your underwear on the floor over there. No dirty underwear on the floor here. If there were, Princess would chew holes in them. Disgusting little shelty.

I worry what the doctors and nurses in the emergency room will think when they wheel me in and cut my pants off and there are my holey boxer shorts and I’m unconscious and can’t tell them it isn’t extreme, explosive flatulence that caused those holes but my little pure-bred prim, proper, pretty shit-eating shelty Princess.

But I digress. It’s that face you made at the mention of “mobile home” and “trailer park” that caused me to get off track and all defensive.

But in a way that’s the subject of this post: You see, my state senator makes the same face about mobile home parks and the people who live in them. A face like you’d make if you saw holes in the seat of someone’s boxer shorts. And what are you doing where you get to see someone’s soiled boxer shorts?

I have to educate state Senator Bob Dutton so that he’ll vote the right way on a bill that comes to the floor of the state senate up there in Sacramento any day now. Affordable housing for thousands of Californians depends on his vote.

Oasis Mobile Estates in Upland is a family park, so we have people of all ages here, from babies to seasoned citizens. We are south of Foothill (you know it as the famous Route 66), so we are on the wrong side of the tracks, in south Upland with the Section 8 apartment dwellers, as well as being residents of a “trailer park.”

Oasis Mobile Estates has about 80 or so units. We own our homes, but we pay space rent plus utilities to the park management. That is, we don’t own the dirt under our homes like you regular homeowners do.

Upland is a rent-control city for mobile home parks. Several cities in California have rent-control for mobile home parks. One day I will get off my lazy butt and actually research the number of cities that, through rent control, help make living in a mobile home the most affordable unsubsidized housing in California.

That’s real important when you are a senior citizen on a fixed income or a family that wants something better than an apartment but can’t afford to rent a house.

What’s happening is that park owners in rent control cities feel they’re getting screwed. They compare what they’re getting in return on investment to what apartment complex owners are getting. There is an apartment complex right across the street from the Oasis Mobile Home Estates.

I’m sure the owners of this apartment complex get much more return on their investment than the Oasis owners. There is no rent control for apartments in Upland.

On the other hand, the maintenance cost has to be a lot less at the mobile home park. We, the mobile home owners, are responsible for the upkeep and repair to our homes. No landlord to call when the toilet overflows… that’s your problem.

What’s happening more and more in California is that park owners are doing condo conversions, where the owner subdivides the park and sells spaces to the residents. You get to own the space your home sits on, that tiny little lot of very expensive dirt. Isn’t that great?

Non-purchasing residents lose rent control protection upon the conversion and will see their rents increased.

For example, if one parcel in a mobile home park is sold under current law, a four year phase-out of rent control begins. This means that a parcel that is rented for $600 today may be rented for $1000 to $1500 in four short years.

So, say you have this mobile home and you own it and you’re just getting by on a fixed income (after working and paying taxes all your damn life). Can you come up with $125,000 to buy the land your home sits on? Can you afford tens of thousands of dollars to move your home to another park? (Mobile homes are actually not very mobile. None of the homes at Oasis have any wheels on them or ever had any wheels. Many are twenty or thirty years old and I’m sure they’d fall apart if you tried to move them.)

The current law is so unfair: If just one resident goes for the conversion and buys the land, then rent control is over for all residents.

The surge in applications filed by park owners who want to convert their parks from “rental mobile homes” into “residential ownership” is often being done over the protests of local governments and residents of the parks, who have no recourse to stop the conversion.

A bill that is now before the state senate, AB566, will give mobile home park residents and local governments a say in these condo conversions of parks.

The stakes are so high, shouldn’t we homeowners have at least a say?

Condo conversion of mobile home parks threatens the equity residents have in their homes. You try selling a home where the space rent may double or triple for the new owners.  And, for low income residents, condo conversion may mean they are priced out and may have to walk away from their home. To where? Where do you go when you’re 76 years old and just lost your home?

And I just thought of something: right now my property taxes are less than a $100 a year. But if I owned the land, my property taxes would soar out of sight.

AB566 will give mobile home park residents a voice and empower local government to protect the community’s most vulnerable residents.

I wrote a letter to my state senator, Bob Dutton, urging him to pass AB566. Please take a look at it and, if you agree and live in California, write your legislator to pass this bill and protect affordable housing for hundreds of thousands of Californians.


Home Sweet Home for Lizzie, Steve, and Princess. Comfortable, affordable, good neighbors... and we'd like to keep it that way.

Homonyms, Homophones, and Other Confusingly Similar Words

Heads up! Here’s a few, under the letter “u,” you better take heed when you use.

undo Unfasten; nullify
undue Exceeding or violating propriety or fitness

[unequivocably] No such word!
unequivocally Leaving no doubt; unambiguous

unstated Unsaid
understated Stated in restrained terms

unwanted Not wanted
unwonted Rare; unusual

urban Of, relating to, or constituting a city
urbane Suave; sophisticated

See my master list of all the homonyms, homophones, and other confusingly similar words I’ve posted to date

Bear Shot Dead in Upland

On Wednesday, July 29, a black bear that had been roaming around north Upland for the last couple of months, occasionally taking a dip in a backyard swimming pool, was shot and killed by a San Bernardino deputy sheriff on 24th St., up near San Antonio Heights.

This neighborhood is in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, bordering Los Angeles County, and right at the base of Mt. Baldy.

Not exactly a real rural area. but with the feel of being out in the country, and with a wonderful, panoramic view south of the Pomona Valley.

Lots of nice homes and good kids. And just down the hill a bit is a sprawl of apartments with fast food restaurants and convenience stores and busy streets, including the famous Route 66, aka Foothill Blvd.

The relatively new 210 Freeway is a wide concrete river roaring with traffic 24/7 only a few blocks south of where this bear met his tragic end.

Reading about this incident in the Daily Bulletin broke my heart.

Here’s an excerpt from the article, an eye-witness account:

“Don Caldwell, who lives a couple doors down from where the bear laid to rest, witnessed much of the incident from his driveway.

Caldwell said he saw the bear running away from the sheriff’s vehicle.

The deputy ‘took a shot at the cub and laid him down in his tracks,’ Caldwell said. ‘The bear was screaming and yelping and crying.’

The bear was shot two more times, Caldwell said.

‘I think (the deputy) had paused in between shootings and I could see he was thinking about what he was doing,’ Caldwell said. ‘I didn’t talk to the officer after that because I was highly upset.’ ”

Why did the bear have to die? I can understand if it was a gang-banger wandering up from Pomona bent on mayhem and murder or a tweeker burglar desperate for dope money or some other form of human trash–white, black, brown or purple. God knows we have plenty of those throw-away people.

To be fair, the newspaper article does say that this bear, whom some in the neighborhood nicknamed “Boo-Boo,” had been tranquilized back in June and taken 15 miles back in the San Bernardino Mountains and released. And there are children playing all over the place.

Guess the garbage can delicatessens and cool, inviting swimming pools of San Antonio Heights were irresistible, and BooBoo returned to where life was good.

It is a great place to live. You can have a sort of rural lifestyle, with all the convenience and luxuries of the suburbs and big city (LA) within an easy drive, or even a train-ride on Metro-Link. There’s a train station in downtown Upland and another a few miles west in Montclair, off Central Ave. (That’s near where I live).

My parents bought a home in 1972 just south of San Antonio Heights on North Laurel Ave., just above 19th St. We lived there for twenty-five years. My little sisters, Margie and Mary, who are all grown up now, have their names written in the cement near the backyard gate, along with the date “1972,” I think.

When my family first moved to north Upland from Pomona [lots of people fled Pomona in the late ’60s and early 70s as the demographics in Pomona changed], our home was surrounded by lemon tree groves– a sea of trees, more trees than people at that time in Upland.   We saw lots of coyotes, squirrels, owls and hawks, but never any bears that I can recall.

This incident with the poor bear’s killing, it just proves my point in a posting on this blog, Monkey Business.  That post, about my encounters with wild animals in travels through Central America, ends with this…

People and wild animals don’t mix. We don’t understand them, nor they us. We take it personal when they try to suck our blood, or eat us, or take our property.

But the animals, like some Mafia hit man, will tell you, “Hey, it’s nothing personal. It’s just business.”

For follow up on the newspaper article on BooBoo’s demise, see comments.

Oh, BooBoo, we hardly knew ye.

Oh, BooBoo, we hardly knew ye.

What’s In A Word?

I investigate words, allusions, metaphors and such that catch my interest.

“Blue Dog” Democrats pointy_blue_dog

Heard a lot recently about these members of Congress  called “Blue Dog Democrats.”

Seems like they have some hesitation about the president’s healthcare reforms. Mostly, it’s about the cost–Obama says his reforms will save money, not cost anything… who can believe that? I heard the Congress’s Office of Budget Management says the proposed reforms will cost a trillion dollars over ten years.

Blue Dogs are fiscally conservative.

And they, like most people, don’t like big changes. Especially if you like what you have and worry that any change will mean YOU give up something so that someone else who is not so fortunate or as responsible as you can have some security too.

No one should suffer unnecessarily, should they? Wouldn’t we have a far better society if everyone had easy access to health care.

I can’t afford the dentist, and despite all my flossing and brushing, I watch my teeth decay.

Having no health insurance, I can’t afford to have my prostate checked or have a colonoscopy… will I die from a cancer that could have been prevented?

Isn’t healthcare a right?

But what if you smoke, drink, eat too much… blah, blah, blah. Why should I pay, everyone else pay, because you make poor decisions in life?

And so on, and so on.

It drives me nuts.

But I tell you what, I don’t trust the government to provide my health care or lower the cost of care.

I far more trust the marketplace and competition to give me the best, most efficient service. We need more competition in the health insurance industry.

OK, I don’t know what the answer is. Healthcare reform is so complicated, it makes my head spin. And this term “Blue Dogs” doesn’t help any.

I did some research and found this article in The Washington Post that explains where the term Blue Dog came from:

Where “Blue Dog” Was Born

FROM WASHINGTON POST, JULY 31, 2009. washingtonpost.com

The Blue Dog Coalition, a group of conservative House Democrats founded in the mid-1990s, in many ways follows in the footsteps of the “boll weevil” Democrats who helped pass much of Ronald Reagan’s agenda.

Many of the 52 members of the group hail from the South, but their ranks include lawmakers from rural districts across the country.

According to the coalition Web site, the name comes “from the South’s longtime description of a party loyalist as one who would vote for a yellow dog if it were on the ballot as a Democrat. . . . The ‘Blue Dog’ moniker was taken by members of The Coalition because their moderate-to-conservative-views had been ‘choked blue’ by their party in the years leading up to the 1994 election.”

Oh, brother. That’s really disappointing.

“Choked blue.” A dog choked blue.

Not a very inspiring story, or very interesting. But that’s politicians for you. Boring blowhards. Why is our fate in their hands?

But this does work into my color theme for What’s In A Word? My last post was “Red Herring” (see below).