Stories for January 2000

Thursday, January 27

Are the Padres Married to the Mob?

To its fans, the world of professional baseball is a dreamland where grown-ups can live out their childhood fantasies, tracking batting averages and swapping stories about heroic home runs. Behind the curtain is a more ...

Electric Juice Master

Nobody expected anything big to be decided at last Tuesday's electric-power summit. The California Public Utilities Utilities Commision (PUC) had called for the roundtable at the Al Bahr Shrine Temple auditorium on Kearny Mesa Road. ...

Super Charged

The sister of Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris has filed suit against the San Diego Chargers, alleging that the team fired her "as a result of racial discrimination and harassment," a San Diego ...

Father Time

Dear Son, On the occasion of your 21st birthday I’ve considered all kinds of gifts from cash to a watch that runs backward, but I have decided on this, at least: a list of some ...

The Lowest Spot in the Western Hemisphere

Hike across Death Valley’s salt pan to the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere. Death Valley’s salt pan was inundated by 2 feet of runoff from the surrounding mountains during the wet winter of 2005.

Was the bridge at I-8 at Mission Center Rd and Auto Circle designed for flexibility?

Dear Matthew Alice: I work in Mission Valley, and I spend a lot of time waiting at red lights on top of the bridge that crosses Interstate 8 at Mission Center Road and Auto Circle. ...

Why are endearments placed in letters to complete strangers?

Dear Matt: Why do letters to complete strangers commonly begin with a seemingly intimate term of endearment like "dear"? Are there other terms in current use in the English language for written salutations? Do other ...

Thursday, January 20

Murders Most Foul

Bill Johnson, the manager and head of the Chula Vista PD crime lab, has collected 20 or so crime scenes in what he calls “The Red Book,” each scene represented by a few, and sometimes ...

Names as Weapons

Are San Diego County Health Services failing to stop the spread of HIV? Dr. Cary Savitch thinks so. And it's not just San Diego. "You're looking at the biggest public-health blunder of our lifetime," he ...

In the Doghouse

If animals could talk, they, too, might express opinions about recent changes at the San Diego Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), which investigates complaints of abuse and serves ...

Mordant Mordida

Did San Diego utility giant Sempra Corp. pay $410,000 in bribes to a Mexican company in order to expedite construction of a natural gas pipeline it wanted to build from San Diego to Rosarito? So ...

Stan and Ollie

Gary Sassaman is elusive. The 43-year-old enjoys his work as a news graphic designer for KUSI-TV; he also has good friends and likes to spend time with them. But like many artists, he seems best ...

Observers of marine life in the intertidal zone can take advantage of this week's extreme low tides.

The highest and lowest tides of the year 2000 occur today, Thursday, January 20. Why today? There are three primary reasons. First, the moon has reached full phase. At this position (and at new moon, ...

Class Struggle

When I was in high school, the administration regularly brought in motivational speakers, including some lunkheads thick enough to tell us that these were “the best four years of our lives.” I thought of these ...

San Diego: America's Mail-Theft Capital

“Honey, honey, don’t run! Please, honey, stay there!” The girl strains forward and yells from the back seat of the patrol car. But as the officer door-knocks, Honey bails through the living room window into ...

Hamburger

My husband Patrick is a meat-and-potatoes guy. He orders his steak rare when dining out, and a dinner is thought impotent without a slab of meat at its core. One can imagine his surprise the ...

Is there a plant that is a good source of testosterone?

For Matthew Alice: Flax seed is supposed to be a good source of plant estrogen. Is there any such thing as plant testosterone? (Er...not that I need any extra, of course.) -- Kennedy Gammage, Vista ...

Is it wrong to scoop money from a public fountain?

Dear Matthew Alice: Occasionally while walking about, I may spy a penny or other small coin lying there on the ground. Certainly no one objects if I reach down, retrieve the wayward copper (or silver), ...

What is Occam's Razor?

Matt: What's the skinny on clean-shaven prisoners? Since they take away shoestrings and belts from them to prevent hanging, I would assume they don't issue razor blades. So how come so many prisoners are clean ...

Monday, January 17

Hike across Death Valley's salt pan to the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere.

"Peak-baggers" by the thousands earn personal satisfaction by climbing notable high points throughout California. No such interest is directed toward the state's low points -- except maybe the attention given to the lowest spot in ...

Thursday, January 13

Sublime

A cockroach looking down toward the empty end of a cereal box — that’s my sense of the bare stage of the San Diego Civic Theatre viewed from the first row. No trace is left ...

Rich and Getting Richer

La Jolla's Neal Blue, who with brother Linden owns General Atomics, the big defense contractor on Torrey Pines Mesa, is ruffling the bucolic atmosphere of scenic Telluride, Colorado. Blue's San Miguel Valley Corp., which owns ...

Busted

Yet another Navy SEAL impostor has been unmasked, and this time the case is going before a judge. Raymond E. Aucker, 46, a former school superintendent in Panther Valley, Pennsylvania, was charged last week in ...

A spectacular total lunar eclipse graces the evening sky on January 20, 2000.

Next Thursday evening, January 20, the full moon launches itself over the eastern horizon near the time of sunset, 5 p.m. By 6:30, however, a ghostly pallor starts spreading across the ascending moon. A denser ...

Picking Up the Shards

Say "millennium" real fast as many times as you can before you puke. For me, I can't get past the first pronunciation of the word. I'm not sure why that is. It's a perfectly functional ...

A Toxic Tour of Baja

Last Thursday, January 6, Victor Ontiveros arrived on Kettner Boulevard and disappeared into a two-story '60s-era building. When he came out, a couple of Macintosh computers in his arms, he was $3000 richer, with a ...

Hillary's Benefactors

An affiliate of the controversial San Diego-based diet-drug company Metabolife -- already California's sixth-largest donor of soft money to national political campaigns -- has written a $25,000 check to a committee set up to benefit ...

Thursday, January 6

One Hundred Years Ago

his sister-in-law’s. Only as an afterthought did he mention the quake. A few days later, the San Diego Union speculated on its cause. “Is it the pressure of gases? Of electrical forces? Of steam generated ...

Trailmaster Schad unveils his plans for Roam-O-Rama in the 21st century.

"Roam-O-Rama" marches into the new millennium with a new focus: San Diego County and beyond. During the seven-year tenure of this column in the San Diego Reader, I've recommended nearly 300 outdoor activities and adventures ...

How to Lose a Library

When Charles Harrington Elster contemplates the task of building a new library in downtown San Diego, the Greek myth of Sisyphus comes to mind. For his crimes of murder, gossip, and greed, Sisyphus was condemned ...

Borderline Truckers

Long-haul, big-rig truck drivers who flow into San Diego consider the area one of the least friendly in the country, mainly because of the absence of full-service truck stops. Not long ago Dan and Terry ...

Stumped

As San Diego's homicide rate soars, police department critics are zeroing in on the department's abysmal "clearance" percentage -- the rate at which murders are solved. According to FBI statistics, the 1998 national clearance rate ...

Was Sylvester Stallone ever in a movie with Ingrid Bergman?

Dear Matthew Alice: A friend of mine swears that Sylvester Stallone appeared in a movie with Ingrid Bergman. Apparently he made it before he became "Rocky." Of course my friend doesn't know any other details, ...

Are dentists losing some of their business due to new, improved mouth wash?

Matthew: 1. About 15 years ago, I read a newspaper story about a professor of dentistry at Buffalo University who had invented a mouth rinse that not only arrested decay but actually healed and invigorated ...

Was President Jimmy Carter ever attacked by a rabbit?

Matt: My dad told me a story about how President Jimmy Carter was attacked by a rabbit. I own one, and I don't think rabbits would attack anybody. Is this story true? My dad said ...