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Stories by Robert Kumpel

Back on the street after six months in the San Diego County Jail

Michael Jackson is in a good mood. It’s a muggy Saturday afternoon downtown, and he’s just been released from jail at Front and C Street after six months inside. “I was in for narcotics. My ...

What's Your News IQ?

1. Peter Barry Lawrence, 71, pleaded guilty to robbing a bank on July 26 in downtown San Diego. Lawrence is popularly known as A. The Geezer Bandit B. The Geritol Bandit C. The Rest Home ...

What's Your News IQ?

1. Toyota is recalling 412,000 cars in the United States. The majority of the cars recalled are which model? A. Prius B. Camry C. FJ Cruiser D. Avalon 2. Philanthropist Donald Shiley died recently at ...

What's Your News IQ?

1. Countywide consumption of what commodity decreased by 13 percent during San ­Diego’s 2010 fiscal ­year? A. Milk B. Gasoline C. Water D. Natural Gas 2. Sales of what product rose 30 percent in San ...

What's Your News IQ?

1. La Jolla artist and publisher Jim Lee recently won notoriety for redesigning which comic ­hero? A. Spider Man B. Superman C. Dick Tracy D. Wonder Woman 2. Caltrans has proposed expanding Interstate 5 from ...

What's Your News IQ?

1. Noted surgeon Dr. Jack Copeland has joined the staff of the UCSD Medical Center to relaunch what medical ­program? A. Nuclear medicine B. Artificial heart C. Heart transplant D. Laser oncology 2. Which city ...

What's Your News IQ?

1. ­Tijuana’s new mayor, Carlos Bustamante is American-born, has a degree from USD, and speaks fluent English. In what town was Bustamante ­born? A. Chula Vista B. East Los Angeles C. Riverside D. National City ...

What's Your News IQ?

1. The San Diego Padres lead all other Major League Baseball teams in which ­statistic? A. They have fired more managers mid season in the past 30 years than any other team B. They have ...

What's Your News IQ?

1. One Southern California municipality recently offered its citizens big discounts on electric lawnmowers if they would drop off their old gasoline mowers at a local stadium parking lot. 1950 mowers were collected. What stadium ...

What's Your News IQ?

1. Which of the following actors was NOT born in San ­Diego? a) Cameron Diaz b) Dennis Hopper c) Robert Duvall d) Gregory Peck 2. Many San Diegans recently observed Memorial Day by attending ceremonies ...

What's Your News IQ?

1. Which of the following Republican candidates running for Barbara ­Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat has openly opposed ­Arizona’s new immigration ­laws? a) Tom Campbell b) Carly Fiorina c) Chuck De Vore d) None of the ...

She Hated Adverbs

Judith Moore remembered

My long conversation with Judith Moore about writing began in 1980. We first met at a monthly campus ministry shindig for the faculty of Central Washington University, in Ellensburg, Washington. Judith was escaping the small-town ...

More From The Quizmaster

On February 2, while in sheriffs' custody at the downtown San Diego courthouse, Richard Tuite escaped for three and a half hours. Tuite is facing trial for what offense? A. grand theft B. murder C. ...

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. ...

Do You Remember 2003?

1. San Diego's U.S. Attorney's office once had a staff of 122 prosecutors. How many have resigned in the past year? A. 15 B. 20 C. 27 D. 34 2. By losing to the Kansas ...

Shepherds, Angels, Pilgrims, and Livestock

Ruth Zuñiga, 102, has been erecting a nacimiento in some form at every Christmas since she was a small child. With old age making it difficult for her to move, she has kept her nacimiento ...

Prolific Killer

A merica's Gross Domestic Product grew by 7.2 percent in the third quarter, marking the biggest growth in this economic indicator since what year? A. 1984 B. 1986 C. 1994 D. 1995 2. In the ...

Every Planet

Which Southern California amusement park had customers killed on a ride in September? a. Knott's Berry Farm b. Disneyland c. Magic Mountain d. Universal Studios 2. On September 15, the ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ...

Pothole Time Bomb

No one seems to know where San Diego’s worst potholes are. A pothole is forgotten unless it’s driven over frequently, and then it is instinctively avoided. Drivers swerve into the next lane, then back again ...

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 ...

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. ...

Did Lingerie Barbie Trounce Micropet?

Designated Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge is the former governor of which state? a. Idaho b. Kansas c. Pennsylvania d. Maryland 2. On November 25, 2002, the San Diego City Council approved reinstating red-light ...

Architectural Mystery

Restoring the Tecate train station is Maria Castillo Curry's obsession. As a member of El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, a think tank located off the Ensenada toll road, Curry is devoted to saving historical ...

High Noon

Sheriff's Deputy Bill Smith pulls his black-and-white Chevy Tahoe in front of the Dulzura Café. He is stopping a man on a motorcycle who looks like a traffic cop, clad in a black security officer's ...

Edible City

San Diegans who refer panhandlers to St. Vincent de Paul Village or the Rescue Mission may not know about San Diego's third option for free food: the local canyons. Jon Rebman, Ph.D., the curator of ...

Examined Life

Even with a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, tax legislation and judicial nominees could be blocked by a filibuster. How many votes are needed to overcome a filibuster? A. 51 B. 59 C. 60 ...

Ballot Box Blues

The day after the November 5 election finds some San Diegans sad, others elated, and many just indifferent. At the time these interviews took place, the race between Bonnie Dumanis and Paul Pfingst was still ...

Gun Universe

On October 21, during the hysteria of the D.C. sniper attacks, the Washington Times reported that California Attorney General Bill Lockyer had hushed up a report by state ballistics experts that accurate ballistic fingerprinting is ...

Squirrel Crash

During the past few years, San Diego's rural tree squirrel population has nearly reached extinction. Their population is apparently coming back, even though few people seem to know exactly why they died off in the ...

Burn Him Alive

While David Westerfield prepares for life in prison or an endless series of appeals from death row, most San Diegans have overdosed on opinions about his guilt or innocence. One group that has not been ...

One Year and Fifteen Days Later

San Diego’s Arab and Islamic communities have mixed feelings about September 11, 2001. Some blame Osama bin Laden, some fault the United States, and still others blame all parties involved. With one exception, these speakers ...

No Cure for Lust

According to Dr. Robert Gunn of the county health department, the term "venereal" was phased out in favor of "sexually transmitted disease" (STD) in the 1970s because "the term 'venereal' comes from Venus, the goddess ...

Voting Made Simple

Published on September 12, 2002 Voting Made Simple By Robert Kumpel San Diego voters are not likely to see any chad controversies in upcoming elections as November's election will be the last election in which ...

I Couldn't Believe This Was Happening in America

Just about everyone remembers that moment on September 11 when he or she first heard that hijacked airliners had flown into the World Trade Center. Here, 101 men and women tell how that moment that ...

Contagious Buzz

As the hysteria over the West Nile virus moves westward, California appears to be the inevitable destination of the mosquitoes that carry the deadly virus. Even though San Diego has a relatively dry climate and ...

Al Qaeda Effect

The complete financial impact of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center will never be accurately calculated, but among those most hurt are travel- and tourism-related businesses. Many of San Diego's travel and tourist ...

Car Talk

Since September 11, the most frequently seen bumper sticker in San Diego is the American flag, often shown with slogans such as "United We Stand" and "God Bless America." Other popular stickers include sports stickers, ...

More Pedophile Priest Follies

Father Paul Shanley, the Roman Catholic priest who lived in San Diego from 1997 until his arrest in May of this year at his Hillcrest apartment, is currently awaiting trial in a Boston jail on ...

Parting Shots

When Cox Arena hosted several high school graduation ceremonies on Friday, June 14, members of the graduating classes had their pictures flashed on the central marquee over the arena floor. Lincoln High School had a ...

Fires Move Faster than Firefighters

San Diego is not immune to the kinds of fires that have devastated Arizona and Colorado. Richard Hawkins, the chief of fire aviation management for the Cleveland National Forest, believes the potential exists here for ...

Hotel Porn

A young couple in their 20s checks in at the Handlery Hotel in Mission Valley and unloads their three-year-old daughter from the white SUV rental. As they drove from the airport to Hotel Circle, they ...

Embalmed Angel

Could the current '80s pop-cult revival include a resurgence of PCP use? Hitting its peak in the early '80s, PCP, or "angel dust," had notoriety as the drug that made its users so violent that ...

I'd Fight

America saw a return to patriotism after the 9/11 tragedy that managed to raise enlistment rates in the military. But will the escalation of aggression in Israel stimulate the same response from American Jews? As ...

Their Mothers Cry Too

While Israel's war with Palestinian terrorists rages on, hopes for peace diminish. Some Jews in San Diego are hopeful, even if their hope is only philosophical. Alex Brauer, 79, knows a little bit about Israeli ...

More Treacherous Than Vietnam

McP's Pub in Coronado, a popular hangout for Navy SEALs, is packed with Marines. With only two women in a bar filled with nearly 70 men, they are having what bartender Tom Latona refers to ...

Locals Discuss Catholic Priests and Sex Crimes

While the Catholic Church is waiting for the media's next horrific revelation of sexual abuse, many non-Catholics are also intrigued by the recent news. Locally, non-Catholics aren't especially surprised by recent revelations, as much of ...

Are the van Dams Fit Parents?

The saturation of news about the lifestyles of Brenda and Damon van Dam has not been lost on North County residents. While few can think of any friends who use recreational drugs and "swing" with ...

UCSD Doc Slams Big-Gulp Culture

Dr. Kenneth Jones, a pediatric endocrinologist with UCSD, is concerned about the rise in Type II or "adult" diabetes in young people. "The age limit is moving down. Initially, it was thought to be a ...

Why They Didn't Vote

The March 5 primary election had one of the lowest voter turnouts in San Diego history. A sampling of nonvoters seems to indicate that while many intended to vote, some simply didn't know or didn't ...

This Cart Belongs to Squeegeeman

It's one of those February mornings in San Diego when the sun doesn't break through the clouds until nine o'clock. The visible moisture on cars and plants will disappear soon, but downtown air retains a ...

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