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February 26, 2008


Q. How do I know if and when to use a comma to set off words near the beginning of a sentence?

A. Use a comma after elements that begin a sentence and also come before the subject and verb of the main clause. Examples: No, we won't....Well, we may or we may not.

Also use a comma after an initial request or command. Examples: Look, this isn't the first time it's happened....Always remember, use a different font for headings.

Q. What about setting off words, phrases or clauses that aren't vital to the meaning of the sentence?

A. Use commas here, as well. Example: Let's call Claudia, who's a technical wizard, to get help.

Q. Can I use a comma to separate a word, phrase or clause when I want an afterthought?

A. Absolutely. Example: Contact me as soon as possible, please....It's not to late, is it?

Q. I need help understanding serial commas. I can never remember whether or not to use a comma before "and."

A. Most experts use a comma before "and." Here's an example: I'd like to express my appreciation to Oprah, Sally, and Regis.

Some grammar experts say it's okay to omit the comma before "and." Example: "I'd like to express my appreciation to Oprah, Sally and Regis." But it's a bit awkward. Each of the three elements is meant to be a separate entity.

Best practice: if there are three or more items in a series, and the last one is preceded by "and," "or," or "nor," use a comma before the conjunction and between the other items. If you're uncomfortable with that, you can always rewrite the sentence (see sentence below for people who hate commas).

Correct: We need a CPU, monitor, and mouse to get started.

Correct: (For people who hate commas) We need a CPU and monitor and mouse to get started.

Awkward: We need a CPU, monitor and mouse to get started.

SUMMARY: Commas primarily set off nonessential expressions and separate elements.

When to Use Commas

The Final Serial Comma

February 21, 2008

Dylan Stewart approved for multipurpose service dog!

Dylan Stewart. Do you wonder why Dylan needs a service dog? Well, we will tell you. Dylan is a beautiful seven-year-old boy who just happens to being living the upside of life with Down syndrome. His red hair says a lot about him - he is "on fire" 24-7. He's up early, usually between 5-6, and goes all day strong, until he does his "crash and burn," typically about 7 or 8. He is whirlwind of energy and enjoys life to the fullest! While we love his zest for life, it is exhausting.

Although Dylan wants to explore his world, he doesn't usually do so in the safest way. He has no sense or understanding of environmental dangers, such as drowning, traffic, or the ill intentions of a stranger. In addition, Dylan has difficulty communicating with the world around him. He actually has a very large vocabulary and can speak clearly when motivated, but unless the proper prompts and cues are given, it can be difficult for him to communicate his needs, wants, and desires.

One of the things Dylan is famous for is his wandering. He has escaped his backyard, his home, a hotel room - the list could go on and on. When this happens, Dylan is subject to potentially dangerous situations if he is not found quickly. While most children will respond to their parents calls when they can't find them, Dylan does not. As a result, very close tabs are kept on Dylan and the stress level of mom and dad are extremely high when in public places, and while it decreases at home, it is always present.

Because Dylan cannot always communicate appropriately with the world, he can become easily frustrated. He has "meltdowns" in overwhelming situations, like school, church, and shopping. Many would describe his behavior as "being a brat," but he is just trying to tell us that he's "out-of-sync" and he needs help!

We believe that the Multi-Purpose Assistance Dog Dylan has been approved for will provide this help he is so desperately crying out for. One of Dylan's great loves is animals, especially dogs. He is drawn to them and is most content when he is with them. Dogs are calming for Dylan and they "reel-him-in" when he has "meltdowns". While the assistance dog will be of great benefit in aiding in the control of his behaviors, it will also bring some peace of mind to Mom and Dad because it will be trained to track Dylan.

Dylan is a growing boy and as his parents, we want him to gain more independence, but it is becoming more difficult for this to happen without extra help. We know in our hearts that there is a very special furry friend that will help Dylan grow and excel in ways we never thought possible. To bring Dylan’s furry friend home, we need to raise $13,000. Might you be able to help Dylan bring his furry friend home? We would greatly appreciate it and know you will be blessed in return for your generosity!

If you would like to learn more about Dylan’s journey, please visit 4paws4dylan.blogspot.com.

Note from Judy: 4 Paws for Ability is an amazing nonprofit organization located in Xenia, Ohio. It provides highly trained service dogs in many areas, but does require that approved families raise funds to train the dog. Please consider this child whose life will change significantly upon receiving an assistance dog. Read the testimonials. Reading them could change your life. It changed mine.

February 20, 2008

Hal Alpiar launches blog

What does one say when discovering that an icon in the fields of writing, marketing, communication, education, and community service quietly launches a blog of some import?

Hal Alpiar, shown here with his beloved 10-year-old Barnegat, is a career writer; national book award winner; radio host; publisher; management trainer; editor-in-chief; professor-of-the year award winner; won two federal appointments to SBA Advisory Council; national marketing award winner; National Committee for Quality Health Care.

Not only that, but Alpiar's latest book, High Tide, is ready for review by agents. This work of fiction is based on true events.

The Alpiars recently moved to Delaware, and Hal is busy launching and soliciting support for a “TALES ON WHEELS” (converted schoolbus) mobile classroom to teach book appreciation, creative writing and stand-up presentation skills to “academically-undernourished” children in the State of Delaware. Though it’s proudly “The First State” in the U.S., he says, Delaware is ranked 44th worst out of 50 in literacy, with just 6 out of 10 graduating high school.

I can see lots of possibilities for Tales on Wheels. Like, once the schoolbus is ready to roll, using storytellers like my sister, Calamity Jan, to encourage young people to write their own stories. Trust me when I say that Calamity Jan is colorful and creative. Plus she has 14 incredible grandchildren that love her storytelling.

Best to you, Hal Alpiar, in all your ventures. Thanks for making yourself available to the rest of us in a new and creative way!

And here's an interview of Hal by Tom Walsh, of the Cape Gazette, talking about Tales on Wheels.

February 18, 2008

Multipurpose Assistance Dog will help Paul Wallace overcome disabilities

Hi! My name is Paul Wallace. I am a very active kid. I enjoy lots of things from basketball to Taekwondo from cooking to chorus! I like to tell jokes and tease my Mom.

Another thing about me is that I have special needs because I have Bipolar Disorder, and I also have Anxiety.

My bipolar disorder is very hard to control, and sometimes I feel very scared. My moods go in a roller coaster ride up and down. Sometimes I get really angry. I'm not even sure why I'm so angry, but I just want to hit and kick or throw things to get the angry feelings to leave me alone.

Sometimes when I am really overwhelmed, I run away. I feel like having a service dog would really help me in times like these. Plus if I get too far away, having a dog that could 'track' would help my mom find me right away!

I go to a special school program with only a few kids in my class. The teachers are awesome and really do a good job to help me have successful days at school. My school is very supportive of the idea of a service dog to be with me at school to help me through the day.

I am different from the other kids, but I still try to fit in. I think that the service dog would be a true friend. This dog will be a dream come true for me.

This is my mom. I live with her at home. She does a good job of taking care of me and being very patient when I am having a hard day, when I get really upset, or when I'm anxious and afraid to leave the room where she is. I feel like having the service dog would be a benefit to my mom and to me because I could become more independent and l could feel safer and not as worried sometimes.

It is hard to be a kid with Bipolar and Anxiety because most people don't understand how it can make me feel and act. They don't realize that these feelings and actions are not in my control, and that I don't want to have to struggle with this every day - all the time.

Please make a donation to 4 Paws For Ability in my honor so that you can help make my dream come true to have a multi-purpose service dog to support me unconditionally and be a true friend.

Note from Judy: 4 Paws for Ability is an amazing nonprofit organization located in Xenia, Ohio. It provides highly trained service dogs in many areas, but does require that approved families raise funds to train the dog. Please consider this child whose life will change significantly upon receiving an assistance dog. Read the testimonials. Reading them could change your life. It changed mine.

February 16, 2008

Let's give Andrew Smith a Multi-Purpose Service Dog

My name is Andrew Smith, and I'm almost your typical nine-year-old-boy. My life revolves around football and baseball, and I tend to get stuck on one thing for months at a time. I love the Bengals and the Reds: I am, after all, from Cincinnati! I play on a football team and a baseball team, but it's hard for me when I miss the ball or the tackle, I just can't seem to deal with it. I've been mean to the coaches even, but they usually cut me a break. I get upset when my school work doesn't show 100% perfect and even more upset when my mom asks me to stop playing and do something, even come and eat!

I sleep in my mom's bedroom most of the time because I hate to be alone, even out of her sight. I don't think I've ever played alone in my room unless I'm on the play station playing Madden 08. After all, football is my life right now!

Why am I like this? My mom says I have an emotional handicap. I don't really know what Bipolar means, or ADHD, ODD, or Separation Anxiety Disorder are, but mom says that's what makes me unique. I struggle in school so much I'm in my 3rd school, a therapy school, because I can't hold it together in regular school. My moods go on a roller coaster ride, up and down so fast, and I can't control them.

I promise I don't mean to scream and yell and sometimes hit, kick, and throw things. I just can't help it. My mom usually tries to get me calm before I get to that point, but at times it just makes me madder. I'd love to sleep in my own bed and be able to shower alone in the bathroom, but I just can't do it. I don't feel comfortable alone, out of sight of anyone.

My mom found this place called "4 Paws for Ability" that has service dogs for kids like me. If I had a service dog, I would have a friend that could sleep in my room (or bed) with me at night, and sit in the bathroom with me while I shower, and help keep me calm in school and in places where there's lots of people and I get so anxious and upset we just have to leave!

A "Multi-Purpose Service Dog" that would love me when I'm happy and sad and be there for me all the time would be so great. Maybe I could even go back to public school sooner! Won't you please help my mommy make my dream come true and make a donation to 4 Paws in Honor of me, Andrew Smith? Thanks for reading!

Note from Judy: 4 Paws for Ability is an amazing nonprofit organization located in Xenia, Ohio. It provides highly trained service dogs in many areas, but does require that approved families raise funds to train the dog. Please consider this child whose life will change significantly upon receiving an assistance dog. Read the testimonials. Reading them could change your life. It changed mine.

Dakota Foster seeks autism assistance dog

This is Dakota Foster. He is 5 years old and in Kindergarten. He loves to color, draw, play with Legos, Power Rangers, Transformers, and to play with his sister, Cheyenne.

Photo of Dakota Foster, who needs an autism service dog from 4 Paws for AbilityTo look at him with his big blue eyes and contagious smile, you would think he is just like any other five- year-old-little boy. But his world is so much different from ours. He is living with Autism, ADHD, and SID (Sensory Integration Disorder). He processes the sights and sounds of the world around him differently.

Sometimes, his dealing with things can consist of repetitive behaviors such as spinning or repetitive speech. Other times he just cannot handle them at all and has what is known as a “meltdown.”

To someone who does not know what is going on, this “meltdown” can look like a child just being a "brat." But it is very different! It is something that he cannot control. It is his only way of dealing with that situation.

Another aspect of Dakota’s life that is very different is his inability to make friends easily. Due to his Autism, he has problems with the social aspects of life. It is very difficult for him to make and keep friends. Also, children like Dakota are prone to wandering off, despite their parents’ best efforts to keep them from doing so. Dakota is no different.

Photo of Dakota Foster, who needs an autism service dog from 4 Paws for AbilityHe has climbed out of a window early in the morning while his parents still slept, only to be found a short time later by his mother as she drove around the area in the family van. He also wanders away frequently in the store, usually while at the checkout, forcing his parents to leave their items to go and get him.

This is where the Autism Assistance Dog comes in! 4 Paws for Ability trains their Autism Assistance Dogs in behavior disruption, tethering, tracking (search and rescue) and other behaviors specific to the child.

Tethering is used to keep the child from wandering off when you are in a public place. This provides not only safety for the child, but independence as well! The child is tethered to the dog and cannot wander more than 3 feet away. Also, the dog can track the child, should they wander away. 4 Paws is the only organization that trains its Autism dogs for search and rescue!

Dakota has been approved to receive an Autism Assistance Dog through 4 Paws. But we have a fundraising requirement that must be met before a dog can be placed with him. For every dollar we raise for 4 Paws, Dakota receives a point. He needs a total of 14,000 points to receive his dog. Please find it in your heart to help our son find peace, friendship and independence by donating to 4 Paws in Dakota’s honor! Thank you so much and God bless!

Note from Judy: 4 Paws for Ability is an amazing nonprofit organization located in Xenia, Ohio. It provides highly trained service dogs in many areas, but does require that approved families raise funds to train the dog. Please consider this child whose life will change significantly upon receiving an assistance dog. Read the testimonials. Reading them could change your life. It changed mine.

February 15, 2008

All About Alliteration

Have you ever wanted to become an expert on alliteration? If nothing else, it's such a beautiful word! Seriously, when one uses alliteration properly--especially in publications--it is subtly effective.

If you work on Web sites, e-zines, or print newsletters, this may be a good time for you to brush up on the amazing world of alliteration.

Main Entry: al·lit·er·a·tion (pronounced uh-lit-tuh-RA-shun)
Function: noun - Date: circa 1656
Etymology: ad- + Latin littera letter
: the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables (as wild and woolly, threatening throngs) -- called also head rhyme, initial rhyme

Generally one can use alliteration in business: in headings, headlines, and (very carefully) in letters, proposals, reports, etc.

Here's some alliteration used recently by my local newspaper, The Arizona Republic, in one day's main section:

1. Gaming talks a big gamble (better than ...Gaming talks a big risk.)
2. Fisher hunt feeds tales for campfire (better than ...hunt generates tales...)
3. Pope asks president to spare McVeigh (better than ...Pope asks Bush to...)
4. Death spurs Ecstasy debate (better than ...spurs Ecstasy wrangle...)
5. Tiny tribe in Conn... (better than ...Mashantucket Pequot Tribe in Conn...)
6. Mexican Congress changes (better than ...Mexican Congress shifts...)
7. ...threatens power and popularity (better than ...threatens strength and popularity... or ...threatens power and reputation.)

In alliteration, the rhyming words don't need to be next to each other; they just need to be in the same grouping of words. And the words used don't need to begin with the same letter: they need to have a similar initial sound. Examples: night / knight ... no / know ... cede / seed ... cell / sell.

*By permission.
From Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary at www.m-w.com by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

February 14, 2008

Skagway Fire Department Raises Funds for Service Dog

Jami Leeth, Trapper's mother, recently wrote about a wonderful Skagway community effort to help raise money for an autism/search and rescue service dog for Trapper.

"I am so sorry it has taken me so long to reply. Flu started it, specialist are finally here to see Trapper over the next few days, my husband is the only Family Nurse Practitioner in town until mid-March, we have had two medivacs in a week, our front door is frozen shut, our electricity was out for over a day, and Internet for about three, it has been crazy for about two weeks now. Let me tell you, when it rains it pours or maybe when it snows it turns into a blizzard.:) That's more appropriate.

"Blessing have been pouring down too though. The Skagway Volunteer Fire Departments Award ceremony & dinner. The Skagway Volunteer Fire Dept. presented a check for 4 Paws for Trapper's dog for $1,000. Plus they auctioned off 4 large prime rib dinners & brought in even more money for Trapper's dog. The total donation from The Skagway Volunteer Fire Dept. was $1365!"

Note from Judy: 4 Paws for Ability has approved Trapper for an assistance dog, but the family must raise the funds. All donations to 4 Paws are tax exempt, as it it a 501(c)(3).

Frontier town child needs autism service dog to combat danger

Dogs play a key role in Alaska’s history, and now a Skagway child needs an autism assistance dog to keep him safe from everyday dangers. With tourists numbering over 10,000 a day during tourist season, it would be easy to lose a wandering child. Besides being the state sport, dog sled teams used to carry supplies and medicine to remote villages and keep the prospectors going. And to be part of an occasional miracle. Here’s Jami Leeth to explain:

My son, little Trapper Leeth, needs a miracle. The 1925 story of Balto and his amazing serum run to the village of Nome segues into our family’s need in 2008 for a highly trained autism service dog.

Trapper turned three in November 2007. He’d developed a small vocabulary, but at about 18 months he stopped all talk, eye contact decreased, and our whole world changed. In April 2007 Trapper was diagnosed with PDD, an Autism Spectrum Disorde that makes his life very difficult...

Trapper has no speech. He shows little eye contact and doesn’t respond to his name. He can’t comprehend simple commands like “Sit down” or “Come here.” If you know anything about autism, you’re aware that the word “meltdown” is not just a word in the dictionary. When our little guy becomes over-stimulated or angry (and this happens daily), he screams, arches his back, and is inconsolable for long periods of time.

And then there’s fear, something that Trapper experiences in one way, while his parents and older sister experienced fear in other ways. Trapper doesn’t understand the dangers of water, fire, vehicles…anything that’s dangerous for little children. He loves to climb fences, crawl under vehicles, and hide. Because he doesn’t respond when called, you can imagine some of the situations we’ve found ourselves in, even though we do our best to watch him every minute.

How amazing a service dog would be in not only Trapper's life, but for our entire family. We are beside ourselves with our active, curious, super-fast child. Safety has been our biggest concern. My husband and I want to feel that his word is a little safer. I think we have aged ten years in one year on this issue alone.

The town we live in is all about history: Skagway is the first city of Alaska and "The Gateway to the Klondike." Our population is about 800 people in the winter and we’re making sure everyone here understands Trapper's autism. If ever he escapes or if the worst become reality and we cannot find him, everyone in this town will know what he looks like. That’s one reason that living here is so wonderful, even though the lack of services for Trapper is a major issue. His father and I feel a service dog may be the key to helping him navigate our world a little better.

Skagway is a tourist town in the summer, bringing over 10,000 people a day into our tiny city. We are surrounded by mountain forests, waterfalls, and a raging (in the summer) Skagway River. In winter it is a "not solid" ice floe. If I showed you a map, you would see our house, cross the road to the airport strip, and cross that to the river. It’s a huge safety issue because of Trapper’s speedy getaways.

Also, with so many people flooding the town, strangers are also an issue. Trapper has no understanding that someone could hurt him. The crowds here from May to October also bring more traffic, noise, and crowds. This overwhelms Trapper. Meltdowns are inevitable, and they get worse as he gets older. Going to the store or to get a coffee at the local coffee shop with him is a challenge.

A service dog would also be a constant companion for Trapper, helping to calm him if he should become over-stimulated, providing him with a sense of independence from his hovering family. Trapper will be tethered to his dog, who will be his best friend, and this will prevent him from running away or into traffic.

Trapper can figure out anything after seeing it done only once, like locks and doors. He is curious, and this adds to his need to explore. His favorite thing to figure out is how to escape a room. Yet another reason for a trained service dog.

While Trapper has sweet dreams about escaping; my dreams about his escaping are nightmares. It’s difficult to sleep well wondering when he’ll decide to figure out how to defeat the locks we have and go outside at night. Massive bears and wolves occasionally wander close to town, and they pose an increased risk, as if the weather issues weren’t enough.

Another aspect of seeking out a service dog is tied in with his social response to others. We are praying this dog will be a friend he can count on. And a friend we can count on. At three, Trapper is not interested in other children, but later on, things will change. We pray this amazing dog will be an open door for others to speak to him or notice him for something other than having a public meltdown.

After reading and searching the Internet, we have learned that Trapper is the second child in Alaska that we know of to have an Autism Assistance Service Dog through 4 Paws for Ability. The first was Leo Bernert, of Anchorage, just last year. In my application, after giving a brief history, I explained about Trapper's need for safety, independence, a friend who never leaves his side, and who is a comfort during sensory overload…a dog that is trained to respond to Trapper's need of pressure, as with touches or hugs.

On October 27th, 2007 we were busy making breakfast when the phone range. It was Karen Shirk of 4 Paws on the phone. Trapper had been approved for a service dog. I was so excited. I asked about 700 questions and couldn't wait to read more about what to do next. I was nervous about the fundraising and the fact that we were leaving on vacation the following morning wasn't helping with my anxiety.

Originally our plan was to return to Alaska on Nov. 30th, but after only four days visiting in California my children, Katlynn (4), and Trapper (2), my mother (50), grandmother (82), my youngest brother (14), my niece (2), and I (30)...were all in a vehicle roll-over.

The children were okay, with barely a scratch. I was the most critical. My head was split open, and I had three fractures in my neck and three in my back. I was transported by air to a hospital in Southern Oregon. After five days, I was released to my mother's care and told not to travel for three months. This put a huge damper on fundraising for our son.

The good news is after two months, I was permitted to come back home to Skagway in neck and body braces, and ready to raise funds for our Trapper.

Life has been even harder on Trapper since the accident. I am thankful to be alive and walking, and am recovering well, but it is just plain painful for me to pick Trapper up, hold him, or even squeeze him tight like he likes. His daddy and sister, Katie, help Trapper, and me but he clings to me mostly, and doesn't seem to understand. But this is only temporary. In the meantime, almost all our efforts are going toward fundraising for our miracle dog.

If you can help with a tax-free donation, please go to 4 Paws for Ability and indicate that it's for Trapper Leeth. Thank you.

For more info on Trapper Leeth, click here to go to his blog.

Note from Judy: 4 Paws for Ability is an amazing nonprofit organization located in Xenia, Ohio. It provides highly trained service dogs in many areas, but does require that approved families raise funds to train the dog. Please consider this lonely little boy whose life will change significantly upon receiving his dog. Read the testimonials. Reading them could change your life. It changed mine.

February 03, 2008

When is a Principal a Principle?

Principal means first in authority; main participant, or amount of a debt minus the interest. It can be a noun or an adjective.

Examples: He is the principal stockholder....She is the principal speaker....The amount of principal is $200,000.

Principle means a basic truth or assumption. A lot of people think of principles in relation to ethics, rules, standards, morals, guidelines, etc. It is a noun.

Examples: The book revealed 20 principles for success in writing ....The country was founded upon those principles....She told her friend she wouldn't cheat, since it was against her principles.

Perhaps the only time you can say, "I have my principals," is if you are the parent of two or more school principals. Sorry. Couldn't resist.