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Dear Matthew Alice:

We were wondering if any photo developers in the San Diego area develop nude photos. We have tried most of the conventional sources (Dean's Save-On), but we've always had our negatives returned accompanied by a note telling us that they don't offer such services. On what basis do most developers go by when they do not develop nude pictures and could you tell us who will do it for us?

A.A.R., Pacific Beach

A custom photo laboratory will develop and print pictures of nudes, provided that they are not pornographic, as determined by the laboratory's management. At Photic of San Diego, 35 IS Hancock Street, the rule is not to print any picture that shows an erect penis, or a woman about to insert any object into her vagina. Sometimes the lab will develop such pictures on film that's taken straight from the camera, since there is no way of telling what kind of images are on an undeveloped strip of film. In such cases. Photic turns the developed film back to the owner, charges its normal fee for development, and refuses to make prints" "We do nudes all the time," said a woman at Photic's commercial department. "But we don't do pornography, and it's up to the lab manager to decide what's pornographic. Of course, all the people who work in the lab are men; they're supposed to watch out for pornography, too. It's hard to tell what offends them. Not much, I guess. All the same, we have a lot of people working here, and we don't want to have to expose them to any kind of picture that comes through the door. " She added that Photic also develops and prints the pictures taken by the San Diego Police Department's homicide division. "Some of those pictures can be pretty bad," she said. "and so as a courtesy to everybody else in the lab, all the pictures are handled by just one guy, who gets used to it, I guess. "

Dear Matthew Alice:

Who invented coffee? The idea of making a drink out of hot water poured over crushed and roasted beans seems pretty esoteric. Was the first cup of coffee produced by accident, or what?

Lewis Collins, Pacific Beach

Coffee was known as a food before it became a beverage. According to one legend, a goat herder noticed that his animals perked up after eating the red berries of the coffee tree. The goat herder tasted the berries himself -- and experienced man's first rush of caffeine. Sometime around the Tenth Century. AD. coffee was known as a food consumed by African nomads. They crushed the coffee fruit and molded it into a ball lined with fat. One ball was considered a day's ration. Africans learned later to make wine from the fermented husks and pulp of the fruit. Finally, the beverage we know as coffee was invented when Africans, or Arabians perhaps, roasted and crushed the beans and mixed them with hot water. It is roasting that gives coffee beans their typically rich flavor, as heat acts upon their essential oils. The drinking of coffee spread through Egypt and Turkey, despite the efforts of religious leaders to suppress it. In Italy, coffee was at first rejected by the church for being 3.n infidel drink, but was later deemed Christian by Pope Clement VIII. Coffee was introduced to North America in 1668, but did not become the continent's most popular drink until the second half of the Eighteenth Century, when colonial Americans refused to drink English-taxed tea.

Dear Matthew Alice:

Despite the much-quoted statement that the Crest people would have us believe, is toothpaste really necessary to prevent cavities? Most of what I hear says no (although I still use toothpaste). What's the truth?

Frank Norris, Golden Hill

For preventing cavities, any brand of toothpaste is less important than a toothbrush, insofar as it's the brush and not the paste that actually scrubs away the plaque . and bits of food. The best thing about commercial toothpaste is that it contains some form of fluoride, which strengthens the enamel on teeth and increases their resistance to decay. The worst thing is its abrasiveness. A dentist in Poway, Dr. Kenneth R. Kimball. says toothpaste can actually foster decay by wearing down the tooth's protective coat of enamel at its thinnest point ~ the base of the tooth where the enamel joins the bony layer called cementum. Kimball recommends brushing with plain water, then rinsing with a fluoride solution (such as Colgate. Palmolive's Fluoriguard, which is available at drugstores, over the counter, for about fifteen cents an ounce). If one is to use toothpaste at all, say, for its cosmetic effect as a whitener, then Kimball recommends rubbing it against one's teeth with a wetted cloth or bare finger.

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