Stories for February 2003

Thursday, February 27

Three a.m.

There is no night anymore. In or around cities, in suburbs and small towns, there is no night. It still gets dark, and the days still get longer or shorter. Lights are everywhere — large, ...

It's Hard to Move When You're 92

'They call it America's finest city, but I don't call it that," barked Ernie Abbit, a 72-year-old lessee at De Anza Harbor Resort. Abbit, president of the homeowners association, is agitated. Without the city's intervention, ...

Mug shots

The San Diego Union-Tribune, which for years has been one of San Diego Unified school superintendent Alan Bersin's most unquestioning backers, may be changing its ways. During last year's school-board races, the paper missed much ...

Bigcone Douglas-fir trees rise like ragged sentinels in Rice Canyon and East Canyon, near the city of Santa Clarita.

Tucked into the steep, north-facing slopes of the Santa Susana Mountains, just north of the San Fernando Valley, are comely Rice Canyon and East Canyon. The area containing both canyons is visible from nearby Interstate ...

Uh -- it's about the wood in my lemonade...

Hey Matt Man: When I'm out working in my wood shop, there are certain materials that need special handling. Things like glycerol ester of wood rosin just seem to scream out "avoid breathing fumes," "wear ...

Do animals commit suicide?

Matt: Are humans the only living creature that commits suicide? -- Morbid Mark, the net Intent. Can animals form intent in their feral little brains? Sit down and say, hey, man, this grubbing for food ...

What we do with dirty dirt.

Hey, Matt: Some of us guys were discussing gasoline stations where we see backhoes digging up old leaking tanks and the contaminated dirt loaded into a truck. Our question is, just where does that dirt ...

Killer toothpaste?

Dear Matthew Alice: I've heard that toothpaste should not be ingested or it can cause fever, nausea, vomiting and even death. There's even a warning on most toothpaste tubes. Is this like lab rats...you'd have ...

Thursday, February 20

What Made Them Kill

When Judge William Mudd sentenced David Westerfield to death on January 3 of this year, Westerfield joined a special subset of San Diegans. Of the 616 inmates on California’s death row, 31, including Westerfield, were ...

Turn Off Brain, Look at Girls

These days, oversized signs dance on street corners. Some promote housing developments, cell-phone companies, even pizza joints. All week, they twist, turn and bob musically, shouting for attention from hurried automobile drivers. They do not ...

History Floats

'It sure will take up a lot of room," says Allen Beddoe about the USS Midway mooring this fall at Navy Pier, where it is scheduled to become the permanent home to the San Diego ...

Kurds aweigh

Monday's Union-Tribune carried a story purporting to recount the recruitment of local Kurds as "volunteers" for war against Iraq. It quoted a man identified as the director of the "Kurdish Human Rights Watch's office for ...

We Have Eaten from the Trojan Burrito

Blinded by the familiar

How would it be if, for example, you immigrated to the United States at the age of 18 or 20? If Spanish were an integral part of who you are? How would it be if you married someone who never learned your language?

Scratch and sniff pungent bay leaves at Pepperwood Spring, near McCain Valley in East County.

Tucked into the fresh-scented folds of a high-desert canyon north of Interstate 8, Pepperwood Spring begins as a network of tiny rivulets issuing from damp pockets of sand. The rivulets conjoin, gather force, and divide ...

Why Attila the Hun parted his hair on the left.

Yo, Matthew: Since 1978 I've been parting my hair in the center. I'm sensing this may be a bit passe in 2003. What style of hair part is currently most politically correct: center, left, or ...

The Church of St. Joseph the Realtor.

Hey, Matt: Are the elves Catholic? Are elves Catholic? Oh, well. Heard there is a saint (active or defrocked, I'm not sure), that will help sell your home quicker and for a better price if ...

Thursday, February 13

Sealed with a Kiss

Cameron and Elena Renfro have been married for three years. They live in Chula Vista near where they both work, at EastLake Christian Fellowship. Cameron, 24, is a technical director, and Elena, 21, is an ...

Parks Coddle Killer Trees

On January 6, 2003, Suzee Vlk, a 49-year-old resident of Linda Vista, was walking her small dog around the plaza at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. It would be her last walk. The ...

Car Mafia Steals in Baja, Sells in U.S.

'Five years ago, stolen vehicles were a very big problem for insurance companies in California." Speaking is Angel Escobedo, owner of Recuperadora Internacional de Vehículos Robados, a private stolen-car recovery business based in the Rio ...

Casey's revenge

San Diego city attorney Casey Gwinn's top honcho, Leslie Devaney, has opened a campaign bank account to run for her boss's job. Gwinn, who at one time or another has aspired to be everything from ...

Hike the Ben Overturff Trail in Monrovia Canyon Park, and visit the site of a long-abandoned resort in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Monrovia Canyon Park rests serenely in a sheltered corner of the San Gabriel Mountains, just upslope from the stately foothill community of Monrovia. Nearly three years ago in this column (April 6, 2000), I wrote ...

Where do you people get these friggin' questions?

Heymatt: Please promote world peace and set my brother-in-law straight. Which is the preferred euphemism, "frickin" or "friggin"? I sent him a email that included "frickin," as in, "You don't know a frickin thing." He ...

Thursday, February 6

Hardcore Combat

17 January has come and gone and with it the 12th anniversary of the brutish, nasty, and short Gulf War. With Gulf War II looming, the media has sought out veterans of Gulf War I ...

Did Jenny Craig Score Big?

The county Civil Service Commission is seeking to investigate former district attorney Paul Pfingst for the last-minute promotion of prosecutors who supported him instead of Bonnie Dumanis. How many prosecutors were promoted? A. 15 B. ...

La Jolla Houses Terror Bait

With war brewing in the Middle East and new domestic terror strikes threatened, America is battening down the hatches. Targets are being hardened, nuclear power plants are under close watch, and all manner of precautions ...

School daze

School-board member Katherine Nakamura has announced to her colleagues she will quit her job as an attorney to the board of directors of the University of San Diego. During Nakamura's often acrimonious campaign against ex-Navy ...

Climb Bernardo Mountain, overlooking Lake Hodges near Escondido.

Lake Hodges has become the most popular destination for recreation within the 55-mile-long San Dieguito River Park, now taking form along the San Dieguito River watershed from the coast at Del Mar to the Volcan ...

Wednesday, February 5

Gummy pink

Matthew Alice: Why is bubble gum pink? -- Bobby, Vista Because the Fleer Co. employee who worked for 10 years-- day after day, gum batch after gum batch-- to develop a chaw that would hold ...