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    [Idiom] in downtown

    What Google Maps told me one day when I arrived in a famous neighborhood of downtown LA:
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    Seismic or Seismal

    Californians (including me for the moment) may consider whether a structure meets seismic building codes. A brick building around the corner from where I'm sitting had just had triangulated steel bracing installed when the 1994 Northridge earthquake hit. Part of the building above it slid down...
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    Writing dates

    31st is the only short form for "thirty-first". There's really nothing wrong with it.
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    Here's an example of midwestern American use of the word (from the small town of Aurora, Nebraska):
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    Norton Juster obituary

    “This kid had gone into a world where everything was correct but nothing was right.” - Norton Juster describing his classic, "The Phantom Tollbooth". I recommend it unreservedly to every intermediate-to-advanced learner. His obituary, possibly behind a paywall, is here
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    It was even acceptable as the name of a town.
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    a lake on the side of the road

    It's a misnamed bridge. The Wikipedia article vacillates between "causeway" and "bridge", but favors the latter despite the official name.
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    a lake on the side of the road

    Like this one over Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana, USA.
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    Fall down a hatch/hole?

    Here's a particularly dramatic cliff. I've been on top of Half Dome (in Yosemite National Park, California). I went up the "easy" way, which was far from easy.
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    The river is too close to build the house here

    That's correct and natural. Neighbors down the road live in a house right on the river. High water threatens them every year, but it has yet to enter the house (except the basement). The closest it got was the year they moved in — 1963. It was lapping on the back steps that year. It got nearly...
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    Names of hats in English

    That's what beanie means to me: a small ornamental cap resembling a yarmulke/kippa. When I was very young, a few boys were still wearing beanies with propellers sticking up. In his dream, it turned into this:
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    nature source of comfort

    It's fine.
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    When it rains, it pours - what does it mean in this context?

    The phrase has been the slogan for an American brand of salt for over a hundred years. The company would not have adopted it if it had a negative connotation.
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    Show hand to stop the car.

    You and I are Americans. In Ontario, that would be far too dramatic. By way of comparison, here's what a Canadian "DO NOT ENTER" sign looks like:
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    USDA “U.S. Fancy,”

    The United States Department of Agriculture's grading system goes back over a hundred years and often uses labels which may look, well, a bit fanciful to today's readers. My Googling tells me that "super colossal" is not actually a USDA grade. It is, however, an official international size...
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    ... meet me at the Bar Bogart, not the Cosmo Bar

    A bar owner in Paris returned the compliment:
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    [Idiom] She started screaming on the phone and hung up on me.

    I was thinking of phones with a distinct, projecting hook. Like this: