Stories for September 2001

Thursday, September 27

How to Make Big Money in Bio-Warfare

Top terrorism experts seek help.

Many of the nation's top terrorism experts not directly employed by the government work for La Jolla's Science Applications International Corp., whose structure and activities are said to closely mirror the government's clandestine intelligence operations.

Flush Power

The journey begins when the toilet flushes. Whatever is in the bowl heads through a series of pipes and treatments that separate the solids from the water. While the travels of one's wastewater is seldom ...

Moo Twilight

What the Cauzza cowboys do in Santa Ysabel after the demise of dairies

“We only milked 200 cows. Most places milk 1000. The milk trucks don't want to drive all the way out here.You've got to have 700 gallons, or they charge you double on their freight."

No One Knew I Had a Knife in My Pocket

Former SEALs square off on airport security

Elson maintained that “The most important issue is not Flynn: it’s the terrible state of civil aviation security. It’s just a matter of time before we have another catastrophic terrorist attack like Pan Am 103.”

Where We Were

9-11 - what do I tell the kids?

The phone rang around 7:40. I was standing just inside the open bathroom door tucking my black Land's End T-shirt into a gray knit skirt. Eight-year-old Rebecca and six-year-old Angela had dressed themselves in their ...

One Cent's Worth

Don’t expect am sustained and coherent thought from me any time soon. Like, say, before Judgment Day. But if shorts and the soaps can return to television, I suppose I am obligated to tear myself ...

Terror party

9-11 attackers liked San Diego strip bars

"They must have given me over $10,000 to party with them. I suppose I could have made five times that amount if I'd agreed to have sex, but that's not my scene. I'm not a prostitute."

Angel in Black

Mercy Hospital - from Market and Sixth to University and Sixth

Besides poverty and the bigoted citizenry, Mother Michael and her nuns suffered the opposition of the most influential Catholic in the town. Father Ubach himself. He attempted to circumvent the incorporation of the hospital.

Hike Towsley and Wiley canyons in the spacious new Santa Clarita Woodlands park, north of the San Fernando Valley.

The Santa Clarita Woodlands Park, north of the arid San Fernando Valley and just west of Santa Clarita's dry hills and valleys, encompasses a surprising assortment of strange geologic features and several surprisingly lush canyons. ...

Where did they come up with the amount $271 for traffic tickets?

Oh, Ma-a-a-att: There is a $271 fine for driving in the carpool lane on my local freeway. I believe that figure is posted as the fine for varied other infractions of traffic law. Um -- ...

Why do clock and watch dials use a quadruple "I" as the Roman numeral for 4?

This is for Matthew Alice: Why do clock and watch dials always use a quadruple "I" as the Roman numeral for 4, but everywhere else the Roman numeral for 4 is "IV"? -- Befuddled Bob, ...

Who invented fuzzy dice?

Mattster: Who invented fuzzy dice? -- Fonzie, El Cajon Criminetly, Fonzie! I don't know! Maybe the same guy who sold wax lips and joy buzzers and sea monkeys on the back page of Popular Mechanics. ...

Thursday, September 20

Blubbo's World

Reader writers and other friends remember Steve Esmedina.

Esmo’s phone manner was so hugger-mugger that I could be sitting four feet away and could not make out a single word. For all I could tell, he might have been laying fifty on a pony.

Friends Forever

Fellow student at Mesa College, writer-collaborator looks back.

Steve Esmedina had the biggest head I had ever seen on a human being. He also had the biggest heart — one that became more corroded over time, leaking pain and despair. The droll demeanor, ...

I Feel a Jam Coming On

Mesa College classmate, fellow cub music writer

Every time I invited Steve Esmedina to hang out at my place in the Clairemont–Pacific Beach area in the early ’70s when I first met him, he’d stare at me through curiously squinted eyes, smirking. ...

Get Out and Get Drunk

Fellow music writer does Esmedina.

That was Steve Esmedina almost six years ago. I suppose you could make a case for almost any random quote from almost anyone being prophetic after the fact of his or her death, but I ...

Better on the Music Page

Movie critic had an assistant.

Two earlier endings.… The drawback to asking Steve Esmedina to write a movie review in my stead, ostensibly to give me a break, was that it would then fall to me to edit it. A ...

Stumble, Stumble, Thump, Crash

Interview with Jim Mullin, Esmedina friend and editor

“I remember exactly when I met Steve. It was at the annual Reader Christmas party in 1976, at the old location of the Athens Market restaurant. That was when they announced that I was the ...

The Shadow Knows

Esmedina family and childhood friends talk.

In late January 1954, Dick Tracy found an infant abandoned in a tree. For more than a week the comic-strip detective searched for the mother. Suddenly, “as if dropped out of nowhere,” a Mrs. Catchem ...

Student Steve

He stood in the back of my class and followed me around UCSD campus.

During the early ’70s, the war in Vietnam created upheaval at universities across the country. ucsd, where I taught, was no exception. Dissenters organized rallies in Revelle Plaza, committees of students met with deans to ...

Cut to the Heart

His short term as music writer for the San Diego Union

Perhaps the best tribute I can pay to Steve Esmedina, my departed compadre and fellow music critic, is that his legacy truly lives on. Today, 25 years after first having read his work in the ...

Slow Death

We hatched a plan to write a screenplay together.

With this Melville-like utterance a 20-year friendship was formed between Stephen No Middle Name Esmedina and me; it was a friendship that would endure until his death on June 24, in this Year of Our ...

Drunk on 163

Blubbo, oh Blubbo, where do I begin? You’re dead, gone, laid out rotting in a casket somewhere in the ground; and if that’s just your body, your corpse, your shell, God, I hope so, because, ...

Trails at Sunset Cliffs Park

Visit Sunset Cliffs Park on Point Loma for tidepooling and brilliant sunsets.

Blubbo vs the Kaypro

Did I volunteer to bring him to the computer age?

I’d see Steve most often when the Reader was in its original home, a splintery firetrap at the corner of State and Market Streets. After the Reader moved out, the Marine Corps used the raggedy ...

Blubbo Adrift

He dismissed country-music artists as “Okie Bobs,” called Jackson Browne and most of his ilk “whiners.”

In the Reader’s scuffling days, Steve Esmedina was the staff’s Doc Holliday — erudite, enigmatic, and bedeviled by self-consumptive tendencies that seemed rooted in debilitating, unspoken discomfiture. For as long as I knew him, he ...

A Critic Looks at a Critic

Hunkered down at a typewriter next to me on Kettner Blvd.

It must have been hundreds of years ago, that time of simplicity and innocence. It was before the electronic revolution had shackled us all in front of our screens. In those days, the Reader’s writers ...

Blubbo's Secret Tongue

The unspoken gloom that followed the man everywhere

In front of my open garage, Monique Esmedina and I sit on the cold pavement. The fountains in her eyes seem to have shut down again, and moments of bitter silence are repeatedly punctured by ...

Thursday, September 13

Home School

Deep thought and family tensions

“You get to stay in your pajamas, and you get more free time. At homeschool I felt like I had more time but that I learned more. At school, you have to budget your time so much.”

Anne's therapist brings her up to date

Get them out of the house

There were days I didn't think I would make it to the end of the summer. I have five children. One is a baby. One is three years old and not quite ready for preschool. ...

Cortés Looks for Amazons

California had to be an island.

“Nearly a decade before Jiminez discovered Baja California, Cortés had heard accounts of an island rich in pearls and gold and, ‘inhabited only by women without any men.’ Jiminez, then, may have known what to look for.”

SDSU's Tie That Binds

San Diego State University had an image problem, and its president, Stephen Weber, would do almost anything to fix it. It wasn't a new problem, of course. The former teachers' college on the east end ...

No Class Reunion

Having seen her bid for a U.S. Senate seat -- and subsequent political career -- immolated by the Chargers ticket-guarantee scandal, among other foibles, Susan Golding quietly retired from politics late last year. But the ...

Hike the Cougar Crest Trail, rising on the slope north of Big Bear Lake.

The Big Bear Lake region offers some fine outdoor experiences for those willing to stretch their legs a bit. Some of the better hiking routes can be found on the sloping mountain rim that rises ...

Regarding the national debt, who does the government owe money to?

Hey matt: Regarding the national debt, just who does the federal government owe this money to? I never loaned them any money, and I can't think of anyone I know who did either. --Sean Marie, ...

In the song, "Money for Nothing," are the lyrics "chicks" or "checks" for free?

Heymatt: In that song "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits, are the lyrics "money for nothing, and your CHICKS for free," or is it "...and your CHECKS for free"? -- Randolph Boggs, email-land As laughable ...

What is so special about the ferns on Palomar Mountain?

Dear Matt: After 30 years as a San Diego resident, I finally visited the telescope on Palomar Mountain (man, that thing is HUGE). Anyway, as you enter the observatory grounds, there are all these signs ...

Why do airlines encourage you to stay overnight on Saturday?

Dear Matt: Why do airlines encourage, even require that no matter where you go, you stay overnight on Saturday? What do they care? It's almost like they don't want any planes in the air on ...

Were cigarettes at one time good for your health?

Dear Mister Alice: Were cigarettes at one time actually good for your health? In a lot of old movies they do a lot of smoking and they seem to be in perfect health. Nowadays I ...

Thursday, September 6

Crash, Crash, Crash

Cajon Speedway, the fastest 3/8 mile pave oval on the West Coast

Like two dancers executing half a pirouette, the two 3000-pound late-model Sportsman-class stock cars spun out side by side, squealing their tires, as their rear ends slid toward the crash wall and their front ends ...

Forgotten Romance Gave us "California"

Esplandian's strongest, most beautiful woman in the world, Calafia

Esplandian was published around 1510, “while our California, even the peninsula of that name, was not discovered by the Spanish till 1526 and was not named California till 1535.”

Mark Halperin's Greatest Hits

Plus Near and Far, Time as Distance

“You’re living in two worlds. You’re living in a public one, and you believe it, you believe that the Russians are your enemies. And you’re living in a private world where this Russian is the father you love.”

Risky Wasteland

In Anza-Borrego's Carrizo Impact Area, bombs appear out of nowhere.

Other than the Butterfield Stage Route, there isn't much reason to be in Carrizo. "It's in a very rugged, very remote area. And it's 45 minutes to an hour by dirt road from the nearest paved road."

Compassion Recipe

On Wednesday, August 15, I went to the St. Vincent de Paul Village as a volunteer to serve dinner to its residents. Serving dinner at "St. Vinny's" has become something of a tradition in San ...

Explore the new Boden Canyon Ecological Reserve, outside Ramona.

Comely Boden Canyon, rich with live-oak woodland and nestled between baked hillsides redolent with the sweet fragrance of sage, has become a part of San Diego County's newest parcel of protected open space. The Boden ...

Is hypnotism forever?

Dear Matthew Alice: Is hypnotism forever? Could I hypnotize my neighbor to mow my lawn every Saturday? Would it be more logical to make my suggestion in the manner of "Mow my yard. You'll think ...

Is it harmful to inhale helium, and where does helium come from?

Matt: Where does helium come from? -- Harry Roberson, Oak Park Dear Matt: Is it harmful to inhale helium? The party balloon kit I got from Costco says it's dangerous, but I've been doing it ...

Why do they call it "capital punishment" when referring to the death penalty?

Dear Judge Matthew: Why do they call it "capital punishment" when referring to the death penalty? And also, what is the way to be executed that causes the least suffering -- hanging, firing squad, guillotine, ...

Sunday, September 2

Forgotten Valor

Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards every one. -- Pete Seeger, 1961 James Francis Walter Ford's death was certain, but his life remained a mystery. After he was accidentally struck and killed ...

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