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Stories by Matthew Alice

International mail: which country gets paid

Heymatt: Curious as to how an international letter works through the United States Postal Service? How does the USPS get paid and how much does the country receiving the letter get? Do both countries just ...

The difference between recreation and re-creation

Heymatt: How come you can “recreate” something (like a Civil War battle) and it would be a “RE-creation,” but when you go play tennis (or whatever) it’s “WRECK-reation?” Are they different words or just the ...

Bullets in a bonfire

Do bullets thrown into a campfire go off with the same velocity as when they are fired from a gun?

Days-of-yore Disney

What happened to Disney’s 20,000 Leagues exhibit.

Butchery’s history

Heymatt: Supposedly, butchers are supposed to retire after a set amount of years (10, 15, 20?) because they’re otherwise highly prone to mental problems, i.e. they go crazy. I’ve snooped around a little but have ...

Rozzers — a slang term for police

Hey Matt: My English friend was riding in my car recently when I was pulled over by the police. I had not noticed them, but Nigel did and exclaimed, “Cripes, the rozzers are after us!” ...

Are cats lazier than dogs?

Hey Matt: Why is it that a dog stays firm and muscular when you pick him up while a cat goes all loose and floppy and sags to the bottom like the stuff in a ...

Where paper sizes come from

Heymatt: How did we arrive at our crazy “standards” for paper sizes? I mean, where did sizes like eight-and-a-half by eleven inches come from? Who is responsible for this mess? And what would have happened ...

Story poles and oleander along I-5

Hi Matt: Travelling between San Diego and Oceanside via the 5 I’ve noticed a couple of things. At the Via de la Valle turn-off on both sides of the freeway there are white PVC pipes ...

Why everyone loves pizza

Heymatt: So, everyone likes different kinds of music, clothing, TV shows, beer, food, jobs, cars, etc. My question is: if everyone likes all sorts of different things in life, why does everyone love pizza? At ...

Firefighting CO2

Heymatt: If fire extinguishers use carbon dioxide to snuff out flames, why is it that the CO2 in expelled breath doesn’t blow out a fire? In fact, blowing on a hot ember usually causes it ...

Some call sharrows a “bike in a house”

Heymatt: I use a bicycle a lot to get around San Diego, often avoiding hills and apparently clueless car drivers. Now, I see sharrows on some roads. What are people supposed to do when we ...

No sex offenders in homeless shelters

Heymatt:How come San Diego is the only city on the entire West Coast that does not allow sex offenders to enter a homeless shelter? Don’t believe it? Check out www.lawsuit.tk.— Anonymous Well, I didn’t believe ...

Concrete patches in the slow lane

Yo Matt: I have a question about some weird concrete patches in some of the slow lanes on our interstates. They’re rectangular cutouts, in two rows of four, very neatly patched. They seem to run ...

How ducks find each other

Heymatt:I live near two parks that have hundreds of ducks that pair up during mating. When they all scatter from kids or dogs chasing them or from someone feeding them, the ducks quickly rejoin each ...

Near-beer bust

Nonalcoholic drinking and driving

Hey Matt! I’m an alcoholic and I’ve recently cut down my consumption to the point that I’m not hammered all day every day. Well, I’ve converted to nonalcoholic beer for the daytime — ’cause I ...

A Closer Look at the Chula Vista Courthouse Flag

Heymatt: Why is a Mexican flag included at the courthouse at Third and H streets in Chula Vista? Does this mean some courtrooms there follow the “guilty until the level of extortion has been satisfied” ...

The Unarius Movement, then and now

Heymatt:I was born and raised in San Diego County. Now I am living in North Carolina and I NEED an answer to my question. Back in the 1960s there was a late-night/early-morning television show. The ...

Have all San Diego mayors been weasels?

Hey Matthew:Has there been a mayor in the history of the San Diego who hasn’t been generally considered a self-serving weasel?— Fred I guess it’s a general rule of thumb for any public official: give ...

The scourge of plastic water bottles

Hey Matt: Watching the tube the other day, I thought I caught a commercial from a water-filter outfit that said the USA uses enough plastic water bottles to circle the Earth 19 or 119 times ...

Burp pressure and fart ownership

Hey Matt:The elves will love this one! After a few hours and many beers in the garage I could not devise a system for measuring the pressure of my burps. We’re talking good, forceful, thundering ...

Topless males vs. topless females

Where it’s OK for females to go shirtless (and bra-less) in public?

Calculating Attendance at the I.B. Sandcastle Festival

Hi Matthew:I read that the Sandcastles Festival here in Imperial Beach had over 400,000 visitors during the three-day weekend, more than any previous festival. Any clue how they can possibly calculate that figure and how ...

The Earthen Berm East of Amboy

Hey Matt:Can you find out why an earthen berm was constructed along the north side of the National Trails Highway/Route 66 for many miles east of Amboy, CA? Does it still serve any purpose? Was ...

Spider invasion, peculiar freeway foam, scars and tats forever

Heymatt:I’ve been living in my house in University Heights for 65 years and I’ve never had a spider problem like this one. These little buggers are festooning the roof tiles like Christmas tinsel. They’re on ...

Why we say “bless you” when people sneeze

“Bless you,” San Diego’s crooked 30th Street, horsepower, all explained

South Park's crooked 30th Street

Heymatt: Why in the world does 30th Street morph into Fern Street between Juniper and Ash streets? Not only that, 30th doesn’t disappear during its run as Fern but actually continues as an entirely separate ...

All about horsepower

Heymatt:Why are car engines measured in horsepower? What does horsepower mean and how much horsepower does one horse generate? — Motorhead, Escondido Engines have been measured in horsepower since James Watt, who refined early steam ...

White Shoes = Free Meals?

Hobos' hot meals; patients' pot cards; kids' tough cars.

Highway billboard rules; how fleas breed; the cost of political ads

What happened with Ladybird Johnson’s Highway Beautification Act? How do fleas breed? How much do political ads cost candidates?

Where Crows Fly, How Squid Are Caught, and the "Toots" That Rhymes with "Puts"

Heymatt:Last September you said that ravens go “somewhere” at the end of the day to go over the day’s events, or something to that effect. I live in Spring Valley and at sunup I see ...

Yoga May Be More Swedish Than Indian; and College Area’s Eruv

Heymatt:Massage has been an effective therapy for thousands of years. It started a long time before there was a country called “Sweden.” So, how come it’s called “Swedish massage?” — E. Gregor, University City It’s ...

Air travel in the jet stream; why your specs can't be glued

Hey Matt:I got my tickets yesterday to fly from Los Angeles to São Paulo, Brazil, at the end of the year. On my way to Brazil it will take 10 hours, 45 minutes on my ...

Wind Power for Cars; the Disempowerment of Drivers with Blinding Lights

Hi Matt:Recently I was gobsmacked by two ideas so obvious that they must be wrong...I mean, since nobody’s using them. First, I thought of wind turbines in electric cars. Propelling the car would run air ...

Linda, They Hardly Knew Ye

Matthew Alice’s identity stolen for 30, 40, 50, 60, or 70 years.

Why Grapes Cost More Than Raisins. What Eats Jellyfish.

Heymatt: A one-ounce box of raisins has about 110 raisins and costs about 25 cents. 110 fresh grapes costs about 98 cents. Since raisins take much more processing to convert them from grapes, which are ...

Origin of Cats' Purrs and Strange Words

Why/how do cats purr?; what’s the origin of “funny bone”? And “moron,” imbecile,” and “idiot”?; what do the numbers mean on top of high-rise helipads?

Flies on Urinals and Their Other Dirty Habits

Yo Matt,Why do so many urinals have stickers of flies in them? Although I don’t see them everywhere, I have been seeing them more frequently over the past couple years. And while we’re sort of ...

Pornography in a Nutshell

(Is a nutshell porn?)

The definition of pornography, and phenomenal food odors explained.

Word Origins: "Blackmail," "Nothing to Sneeze At," and "Spitting Image"

Plus whatever happened to the Del Mar Fair's Fairest of the Fair?

Origins of “blackmail,” “nothing to sneeze at,” and “spitting image”...and whereabouts of the Del Mar Fair’s “Fairest of the Fair.”

Beijing Duck, Mumbai Gin, and Other Name Changes

Heymatt:Who made the decision that Peking should be called Beijing and that Bombay should be Mumbai? Will we eventually see Beijing duck on a menu, or Mumbai gin in the liquor store? I’m assuming someone ...

Room to Swing a Cat, Found Marbles on O.B. Pier, Vanishing Arco Stations

“There’s not enough room here to swing a cat.” Who came up with that one? And what’s the story on the mysterious marbles of the Ocean Beach Pier? And why are all the Arco gas stations shutting down?

Local TV News is Non-News

Local TV news under the microscope after being declared “non-news” by a letter writer to Matthew Alice.

Can’t grow a meth plant. Killer tomatoes, however...

Can you grow a smokable crystal-meth plant by sprinkling the “devil’s dandruff” on an ordinary plant while it grows? Can you, can you?

Why the fat lady sings best; how to build a chocolate-covered cherry

Your Mattness: Why are opera singers fat? Maybe they’re not all fat, but some of the old school ones were whales, though they do sound better than whales. Is there some advantage to all that ...

Chickens, Breasts, and Cancer: Discuss

Gross: Do chickens get breast cancer tumors? Grosser: Can you catch cancer from eating chicken breast tumors? New subject: how about that phantom electricity?