Stories for February 2004

Thursday, February 26

What You Do To Get Ahead

Last June, San Diego assemblyman Juan Vargas received a brief, if dubious, burst of fame for his role in the failure of Senate Bill 1, a financial privacy measure sponsored by Democratic senate member Jackie ...

It's the bribes, stupid

The Las Vegas city council last week finalized its million-dollar deal with Cheetahs Las Vegas strip-club owner Jack Galardi, who took over after his son Michael, the previous co-owner, copped a plea to federal bribery ...

Exactly how bad does bad cheese smell?

Dear Matthew Alice: To determine if food items have outlived their edibility, expiration dates and pungent odors are probably the two most obvious ways to make a conclusion. Recently I was given a sizable chunk ...

What's I/IV of C-LI?

Matt: Given the ancient Romans' achievements in the sciences, they must have understood the concept of quantities between zero and one. So how did they notate fractions? I/VII would get cumbersome and wouldn't aid in ...

Web site

Hey Matt: What happens when one species of spider accidentally falls into the web of another species? -- Black Widower Paul, San Diego Weeeel, depends, according to the staff bug guy at our sister institution, ...

Stalk the wild beargrass at Jamul's McGinty Mountain Preserve.

Rising like a scruffy whaleback above a sea of luxury homes and ranchettes in Jamul, McGinty Mountain hosts a rich but circumspect treasure of botanical oddities. Several rare and endangered plant species make their home ...

Bribe Paradise

The West African nation of Benin is best known as the birthplace of voodoo. More than two-thirds of the residents still practice voodoo, with its ecstatic trances and magical dances. Benin (pronounced behneen) is also ...

Inventor Tackles Salton Sea Disaster

How it works is an industrial secret, say the founders of Aqua Genesis LLC, a San Diego company that intends to clean up the Salton Sea and in the process make thousands of acre-feet (one ...

Thursday, February 19

I Cover the Waterfront

Chapter One: The Damned and the Lost I have been here so long that even the sea gulls must recognize me. They must pass the word along about me from generation to generation, from egg ...

Bed roll

Heymatt: I seem to roll around and move a lot when I sleep. Why don't I ever roll right out of bed? -- Bedbug, La Jolla A question we've asked here in Rancho de Alice ...

Dookie on a shingle

Hey Matt: My friend Ian thinks that ingesting a chunk of human dookie will kill you and that half of dookie content is bacteria. Is this true?! I don�t believe it! -- Snuggles, the net ...

The answer is blowin' in the wind

Matt: Maybe I'm wrong about this, but it seems that when I'm at the beach on a windy day, I can hear sounds that are being blown toward me, but I can't hear sounds that ...

Seek out rare elephant trees in Anza-Borrego's Torote Canyon.

Dozens of elephant trees cling to the walls of Torote Canyon, a tributary of Indian Gorge in the southern reaches of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. In Mexico, this tree is called torote, which means "twisted," ...

End of an era

Speculation about the ultimate fate of the San Diego Union-Tribune is once again raging though the U-T newsroom, Mission Valley watering holes, and all other traditional haunts of old and new hands who've worked at ...

Overlords Soak City

Rescuing city finances may be futile as long as the society remains feudal. That is to say, San Diego's overlords are making sure they will get their corporate welfare -- no matter how broke the ...

If Bush Can Lie, I Can Lie, Too

Fernando Suarez del Solar didn't even know who actor/director Sean Penn was. But Penn already knew Suarez. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle on January 14, Penn, while in the Amsterdam airport Schiphol on ...

Who Was Max Miller?

Early in the past century, Riverside, Washington, was a disreputable dockside community on a bluff above the Snohomish River. Max Carlton Miller, born in Traverse City, Michigan, spent his youth in Riverside, as some residents ...

Thursday, February 12

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

San Diego lawyers tell why marriages break up.

Romance often leads to marriage, and marriage often leads to divorce. The latter is not only emotionally painful but legally complicated, which is why most people hire lawyers to help them. The following conversations are ...

An eightball of Alpo?

Heymatt: When we cross the border at San Ysidro, my husband always comments on how excited the drug dogs look when they're sniffing all the cars. He thinks it's because the dogs are drug addicts, ...

The practicality of jokes

Matthew: What's so practical about a practical joke? Where did the term come from? -- AV, Golden Hill Welcome to another episode of As the Word Turns, the Matthew Alice College of Etymological Knowledge. A ...

Switchpitchers

Heymatt: Were there "switch" pitchers ever in baseball history? -- J, BP Three switch pitchers played in the pre-1900 era, but the only contemporary major leaguer to do it was ex-Padre, officially listed as a ...

Discover Laurel Spring, a lofty mini-oasis in Orange County's Santa Ana Mountains.

Laurel Spring, a mini-oasis tucked into an upper crease of the Santa Ana Mountains, lies just three air miles away from the expanding edge of Orange County's outer suburbs. Groundwater coming to the surface here ...

Moneybags Promote Sobbing Farmers

What do you get when you launder money in a henhouse or a pigsty? Filthy lucre, according to proponents of Proposition A, the Rural Lands Initiative that would attempt to thwart development sprawl into the ...

Rescue People Are Very Angry

Both sides agree the seeds of the dispute were planted in 2000 when the County Board of Supervisors announced that the three county animal shelters -- in Carlsbad, Linda Vista, and Bonita -- would be ...

Bullwhip, Bagpipes, or Cobra?

1. Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante is facing a lawsuit alleging that he took from Indian tribes $3.8 million more than is allowed by the state's campaign limits. Who is the plaintiff in the lawsuit? A. ...

Freeing the Cheetahs Three

The three San Diego city councilmen under indictment for bribery and other alleged nefarious activity in the Cheetahs strip-club scandal have been raking in the big money for their legal-defense funds from an array of ...

Thursday, February 5

Art is Slow

“Linda Vista, with its rows of yellow houses, is where we eventually washed to shore. Before Linda Vista, we lived in the Green Apartment on Thirtieth and Adams, in Normal Heights. Before the Green Apartment, ...

First floor, ladies lingerie; 150th floor, parachutes, oxygen tanks�

Matt: I'm building my own house. It's a pain. But it got me to thinking, what is the tallest building in the world, now that the World Trade Center is gone? -- Tool Guy, Ramona ...

Rock groups

Dear Mr. Alice: When I walk on the beach, I notice that rocks of the same size seem to be clustered together. All the big ones are together, and all the small ones are with ...

Tiny, tiny type

Heymatt: Are there any laws about how small "fine print" can be in a contract? Broadly speaing, where there is a legal mandate that a document, label, warning notice, etc. be legible, the standard is ...

Explore Lopez Canyon, a serene minor member of the canyon system in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.

A sparrow hawk alights upon a sycamore limb, then launches with outstretched wings to catch a puff of sea breeze moving up the canyon. A mule deer bounces across the pathway, pausing to take your ...

Our Enron-Style Scandal

The City of San Diego has admitted in official filings what its critics have been saying for months: unless it raises taxes or cuts city worker pension benefits, it will have to slash city services. ...

They Don't Feel Local

The aging Chevy Blazer struggles to climb the grade into the Tijuana neighborhood of El Pípila, about ten miles southwest of downtown. Atop the hill, the dirty, potholed street wanders through one of the grittiest ...

Cracking wise

Some residents of North County are upset about a delay in disclosure of a potentially dangerous crack in a radioactive water pipe discovered at the San Onofre nuclear-generating Unit 3 two weeks ago. The incident ...