Stories for December 1998

Wednesday, December 23

Born Free

The natural baby debate

When the first hard contraction hit my wife Deirdre, buckling her at her middle and squeezing from her lungs a shocked cry, her first thought was, “I don’t know if I can do this without ...

Death of a Baby Brother

Big brother says goodbye

The medical team in Tijuana had told André that blood transfusions would give him strength. Back at Kaiser, he had two and found they did. I was there when he came home after his third transfusion.

A year of questions for Matthew Alice.

No whining. You've had a whole year to prepare. If you broke up into study groups as I suggested, you should have no trouble. If not, consider adding this to your New Year's resolution list, ...

Hike through the dry confines of Anza-Borrego's Harper Canyon and emerge in spacious Harper Flat.

A long and leisurely ramble up the sinuous course of Harper Canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park leads hikers to Harper Flat, a four-square-mile valley hidden from casual view by rock-strewn ridges and peaks. The ...

Paul Theroux on V.S. Naipaul

Sir Vidia's Shadow

I wasn’t happy when I found a book I’d written, inscribed by me to another writer, for sale at Powell’s in Portland. But I did not have to be embarrassed in the way that Theroux must have felt embarrassed.

Shelter on "God's Birthday"

Rosa came west from Pennsylvania -- "two and a half, three years ago" -- with her new husband. Her ex-husband "was really abusive toward the kids. He threw my son through a wall. My husband ...

Candid Justice

Who's trying to smear Judge O'Rourke?

When Superior Court judge Terry Byron O'Rourke was allowed a glimpse at the accusations against him, he admits he gulped. "The candidate is viewed as having one of the worst temperaments among San Diego judges," ...

Crash and burn (2)

This hasn't been the easiest of years for wealthy Rancho Santa Fe denizen Allen Paulson, what with the September blow-up of his deal to take over the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas and the October ...

Thursday, December 17

Mafia Hunter

Border dirt.

Loren McCannon stands, faces the frigid autumn wind blowing across the border at Otay Mesa, and sees the ghosts of crimes past. McCannon, now 75, suffering from diabetes, and survivor of a heart attack, can ...

Shirley Temple's pencil

I began letters to Grammy with, “How are you? I am well. I hope you are well too.”

I am not ready to starve my dislike so that an enemy, or someone whom I perceive as enemy, or someone who merely irritates me, can eat buttery joy. I am selfish.

Cross-country skiing in the Cuyamacas

Routes for cross-country skiing exist on rare occasions at higher elevations in the Cuyamaca Mountains.

The Lady Vanishes

The dark green Mustang ragtop looks blue under the hazy floodlights. Here behind the state judicial police station in Tijuana's Otay section, the smart new cars are recovered stolen vehicles, mostly with California plates. The ...

Under the Garbage Tree

George sleeps under an awning just past the corner of 12th and Market, "or if it's a nice day, in the parking lot across the street from the barber college." If he's up by 6:00 ...

Peso parley

Privatization of the Tijuana airport may come as soon as next year, and that's causing a big stir among insiders at San Diego's city hall. Last week, a consortium of French, Spanish, and Dutch airport ...

Thursday, December 10

My Very Beloved Chanita

The Moreno love letters, 1852-1869

This is the fifth child that death has snatched from us. I am a Christian and I have a great deal of respect for Divine Decrees and God being omnipotent. At times I despair. I blame God.

What is the "glow stick" liquid made of, and is it toxic?

Dear Mr. Alice: I recently attended a white-trash theme party which featured a real live stripper who, as part of her act, opened up glow sticks (the kind kids get at Halloween) and poured the ...

Use a mountain bike to explore Anza-Borrego's Fish Creek Wash through Split Mountain and beyond

Anza-Borrego's Fish Creek Wash is the gateway to a fascinating labyrinth of rugged canyons, twisted arroyos, and mud hills covering the desiccated area known as the Carrizo Badlands. Why the name Fish Creek for a ...

Héctor Huerta Has A New Police Station

Licenciado Héctor Huerta Suárez, the State Judicial Police station commander, looks up at the familiar gray portrait on the wall beside his new desk. "I love that man," he says. "Emiliano Zapata is my hero." ...

Mainstream Influence

The brutal -- and ultimately fatal -- beating of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay student at the University of Wyoming, shocked the nation last October after the event was reported by NBC, AP, and other ...

Paying off

A long-standing sexual harassment case against San Diego County human resources director Carlos Arauz will finally be settled out of court for $35,000 by the City of Phoenix, according to the Arizona Republic. Arauz was ...

Thursday, December 3

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Never Draw to an Eight, and Never Two

Luck and loss at the Palomar Card Club

I’d been unlucky in love. Ergo: time to try poker. I hadn't played in many years and then I played badly, impatiently. But that didn’t matter. Only the adage alluded to above mattered. And one ...

Where on earth do you buy Mallomars

Matmail: Mallomars? Where on earth do you buy Mallomars? The last box I saw, I bought; and that was at the Big Bear supermarket on Governor Drive in University City in 1981. I will drive ...

Where did Spanish fly get its name, and where did it come from?

Dear Matthew Alice: I would like to know how Spanish fly got its name and where it came from. Does Spanish fly work, or is it just one of those things everyone says works but ...

What are the effect of breathing in argon?

Dear Matt: Most of us have heard the effects of breathing helium on speech-- sort of Billy Barty on speed. The explanation is that helium, being a light gas, allows more rapid vocal cord vibrations, ...

The Discrete Charm of Encanto

There's no snooty people here

One of Klauber’s daughters remarked that there was not much to do in the environs [of Encanto] except look at the views and smell the sage and tar weed. But that, she said, was enough.

One-way hike from Black Canyon to Pamo Valley

Traverse pristine and isolated lands of the Cleveland National Forest near Ramona.

Arising on the west slope of the Volcan Mountains, Santa Ysabel Creek slides through Santa Ysabel Valley and soon enters the Lake Sutherland reservoir, northeast of Ramona. Once below the dam, water in the creek ...

Public Art's Hurly-Burly

Consider people who rant on issues about which they believe themselves experts. Everybody holds an opinion on everything -- like a fellow on the radio contending that the National Endowment for the Arts should be ...

Sex and age

Details are sketchy so far, but word has it that the latest Pentagon sex scandal has a distinctly San Diego tinge. Fifty-four-year-old Rear Admiral John T. Scudi, whose title was director of shore installation management ...

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