DEAR READERS: Happy birthday, America! Today, the United States turns 241 years old. Here are some fun facts about one of our most beloved symbols, the American flag:
Red, white and blue are the colors of the flag, of course, but they have specific meanings. Red stands for courage in battle (commonly called “valor”), white represents freedom and innocence, and blue characterizes equity and fidelity. Each of the 50 states is represented by a star, and the 13 stripes stand for the original 13 Colonies.
The flag has gotten a makeover 27 times to update the quantity of states and stars.
When the flag is flown at night, it must be lit.
The flag must be raised quickly and lowered slowly, with reverence.
There have been six flags placed on the moon.
DEAR HELOISE: People have always used abbreviations when writing, even in my day, such as “SWAK,” “XOXO” and “ASAP.”
But my grandchildren seem to be speaking a different language these days with all of their abbreviations, especially when texting!
I’ve decoded some abbreviations, and they’ve explained some others to me:
NP — No problem
PA — Parent alert
NP — Nosy parent
POMS — Parent over my shoulder
AIR — Adult in room
RUOK — Are you OK?
SUP — What’s up?
BRB — Be right back
TNTL — Trying not to laugh
LOL — Laughing out loud
OAO — Over and out
TTUL — Talk to you later (In reading English and in trying to figure out the kids’ jargon, I have to keep in mind that “C” can mean “see,” “R” can mean “are,” “U” can mean “you” and “Y” can mean “why.”)
It’s important to understand what our kids are saying online and on their phones, and to know who they are talking to.
— Mary M. in Phoenix
DEAR HELOISE: Business envelopes have an unglued portion at the corners for a reason: So you can slip a letter opener in there and open the letter.
So many times I come across an envelope that somebody has taped shut. Aggravating! Please don’t tape the envelopes closed.
— Robert B. in Ohio