U.S. Virgin Islands

THANK YOU for the positive article about my island ["St. John: Taking It Slow, From Eco to Luxe," Oct. 23]. You presented some things about St. John that make visiting and living here special. The next time you are looking for quiet snorkeling spots, come to the East End. It is one of the last pristine spots on St. John.

Sloop Jones

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

I WAS HORRIFIED to see a picture of reef rapers on the front of the Travel section. Snorkelers and divers have no business messing with any undersea life!

Betty Loveland

Fairfax City

Drip, Drip, Drip

IT WAS A pleasant surprise to read Margaret Roth's article about the "do-I-shut-off-the-water" question [Lab Report, Oct. 23].

Roth writes that there is no "conventional wisdom" or "conclusion." However, there is a clear consensus among the authorities she interviewed. Four out of five favor shutting off the main water valve : the Loudoun County Sanitation Authority, the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and Cropp-Metcalfe. Only Fairfax County Water maintains that as long as the toilet valves are closed, shutting off the main water valve to a home is unnecessary and may be harmful to the water heater.

To me, four out of five constitutes a majority, even a conclusion.

Howard Harvey


I GUESS THIS should be the last drip about turning the water off at home when leaving for any extended time. I'm of the camp that turns it off at the source. Incidentally, this was made easier a year ago when the plumber replaced the turn handle with a lever that with a simple sweeping turn of the hand shuts it off.

As to the water heater "difficulty": I don't understand why the worry about the water heater evaporation when all I have to do is turn off the circuit breaker to the water heater.

Finally, in winter I'd leave the temp in the house about 55 degrees, which should take care of the main water intake supply freezing up.

And with a final twist of the turn handle or lever, let's shut off this subject.

Bernard S. Katz


Canada Is Foreign

HAVING MOVED here from Canada, I can attest that Canada is a foreign country and that Air Canada is a foreign air carrier [Coming and Going, Oct. 23].

On the afternoon of Sept. 14, my wife flew back to Toronto from National Airport on Air Canada, and at that time we printed her boarding pass from our home computer. As such, Air Canada beat British Airways by more than two months for being "the first airline to allow international passengers . . ."

Dan Wasserman


Still More Spanish Lessons

ROBERT ROSSI'S explanation of the rules for accenting words is very clear and will be most helpful to those learning or improving their language skills [Message Center, Oct. 16]. However, the word "solo" was mistakingly written with an accent. It does not take one, since it ends in a vowel. Virginia Estevez-Albert

St. Michaels, Md.

CO-mo es-TA' u-STED? This sentence shows the rule. Words ending in a vowel or an "n" or an "s" are accented on the next-to-last syllable, all others are accented on the last syllable, and exceptions use the accent mark. There is no need to guess whether a word is one of the so-called agudas, graves or whatever.

Bill Sweeney


AFTER MY RECENT grievous error regarding Spanish pronunciation, I also wish for closure on the subject. But I must take issue with Robert Rossi's letter referring to written accent marks as tildes. A tilde is a wave-like character that goes above an "n" to show that it is pronounced as a "ny" sound, as in "canyon." In Spanish, a tilde appears only above the "n" and nowhere else.

Bill Topolsky


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