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For the past I don’t know how many years my landline telephone rings 3/4 to a full ring around 3:30 a.m. I lived in Golden Hill 16 years, and I don’t know when it started there. I’ve lived in South Bay nine years and it has carried over to here. I don’t know if it happens every night. I only notice this when I’ve gone back to bed after using the bathroom or if I’m temporarily awake. I’ve called AT&T and they have no idea. I don’t want to sound sensationalistic, but I’m wondering if a law enforcement group might be checking at that time to see if their tap or whatever it’s called is connected. If that’s the case — go ahead and monitor away — I’m clean. Can you come up with a plausible explanation?

— Sleepy reader, South Bay


Quite a few years ago the phone company was threatening to introduce a new telephone area code to East County. The story was that they were “running out of telephone numbers.” What ever happened to that idea? And if they were truly “running out of numbers,” how can we account for all the free Google Voice numbers that are being given out and all the new cell phone numbers, all within the classic 619 area code? Hopefully the telephone company won’t read this and say, “Oh yeah, thanks for reminding us to do that!”

— Steve Terry, El Cajon

Oh, when are huge companies with a stranglehold on lots of customers going to learn that, in the long run, the truth shall set them free? You, Sleepyhead, are the perfect example. You (logically) call AT&T, ask your (legitimate) question, they feign ignorance, and you (perplexed) begin to imagine all kinds of nefarious goings-on that you suspect involve AT&T. Bad PR, I’d say; and PR is the engine that drives big, octopus companies. Yes, of course it’s AT&T ringing your phone from time to time at 3:30 in the a.m. They’re testing their lines, making sure there are no problems in the system, trying to head off glitches before they arise. Preventive maintenance — it’s a good thing. Presumably, all landline users have the same experience. Why the phone company is so coy about it baffles me.

But occasionally the people rise up, wave their fists, put their foots down, do other symbolic things with body parts, and bust the system. The great area-code scare of ’07 is one such situation. Actually, the problem had been dragging along since ’98, when the state PUC ordered a geographic area-code split for north San Diego County and the other counties in the 760 area. Many people in the area would have to change their codes to 442. The bureaucracy and the public information mill moved at the pace of all things bureaucratic until the PUC announced in 2007 that the deed was just months from being done. Finally, this grabbed public attention, and within four months up rose an Occupy PUC–like group to beat down the proposal and argue for a 442 overlay on the existing 760 area instead. In a geographic split, one chunk of an area code’s geography is lopped off and turned into a new-area-code chunk of geography. Everybody in the new chunk must change their area codes from old to new, basically changing their phone numbers. In an overlay, only new phone numbers requested in the 760 geography would receive 442 prefixes, leaving all 760ers unscathed. Two months later, the overlay was approved.

As for technology-specific area codes, like your Google example, they are called dedicated overlays, designed to be applied at the request of companies, agencies, the like. The agency that manages the phone numbering system for the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, and elsewhere swears we’re no longer in a number crunch. The full explanation is snooze-inducing. But apparently that might not be completely true when it comes to IPs and websites. Rumblings are that we’re heading for zero availability in certain tech sectors.


There’s a myth that says some fish eggs can be taken up into the clouds as rivers and streams evaporate. Then they are dropped back to the earth as it rains. Is this a myth or true? I think it’s a myth but I’m waiting for your definitive answer to settle this.

— Langston in Spring Valley

Clouds full of fish eggs? A myth. Waterspouts moving fish eggs to new sites? Probably a myth. Fish eggs transported on animal feet/fur? Debatable to biologists. Fish eggs migrating with flood waters? More likely. Landlocked pond once upon a time not landlocked but linked to a river? Highly likely. I’ve found no stories of a completely fish-free pond suddenly showing signs of finny life. It’s possible, but likely mythical.

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murmston May 10, 2012 @ 4:01 a.m.

re phone numbers. It's obviously too late now but they should have done what they do in Europe. All the land lines keep the original area code (in SD's case 619) and then cell-phones are given area codes based on what provider they belong to and not based on geography. It's also helpful because you recognize right away whether you're dialing a landline and/or dialing a phone number of a different provider (which might cost you more).


Matthew_Alice May 10, 2012 @ 9:20 a.m.

How Nice to hear about bureaucracy and logic traveling hand in hand. Sounds like a my-T-fine solution to me. We seem to want to make it as complicated as possible. Thanks for the note.


mk619 May 30, 2012 @ 8:04 p.m.

No need to make it so kryptic. I think you guys will like the orange box over the red one. -- octopus


Ken Harrison May 10, 2012 @ 11 p.m.

The history behind 760 over-lay - PART ONE . . . 760 area code is still the largest land-sized area code in the country, even after breaking off from 619, and before that, 714. It spans from the Mex. border in Calixico, all the way north to Bridgeport in Mono County, east to the AZ/NEV border, and west into North County. Encinitas is mostly 760, Rancho Santa Fe and Solana Beach are the northern most 858's.

The overlay was unprecedented. The non-elected PUC had made their decision and had never, ever, re-considered a decision on area codes. It had never consented to an over-lay, even when big Hollywood names got into the act protesting the split of 213 into 323 on LA's west-side.

But one guy, Scott Chatfield, a businessperson in Leucadia, started the ball rolling with save760.com. He got the support of every local & state politician, and chambers of commerce representing the area of North County (because the PUC wanted us to switch to 442 and leave 760 to the more rural areas like Victorville or Mammoth.) Assemblyman Martin Garrick picked up the ball and led the cause. The PUC received over 6,000 letters protesting, enough to get their attention and call a hearing in the community.

When the hearing was held. 80 speakers signed up, but the first three speakers sealed the reversal of the board's decision. The first two speakers were members of two local families that told about their missing or kidnapped children, stating their 760 number is the only one their children would know. If it were changed, it would negate the thousands of missing children posters they had placed around the country. If their children were still alive, and tried to call them, they would never be able to reach their parents.

See PART TWO for the unexpected power of speaker #3, and why 442 ended up not mattering anyway


tomjohnston May 11, 2012 @ 8:06 a.m.

"760 area code is still the largest land-sized area code in the country" I'm not quite sure what you mean by "land-sized". I've nevr heard that phrase before. I would like to point out that the entire states of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota each contain there own singular area code and each is considerably larger than the 760 area code


Ken Harrison May 10, 2012 @ 11:04 p.m.

PART TWO of the history of 760/442 area codes. . . . The 3rd speaker was the commanding general of Camp Pendelton. The squared jawed, battle-hardened Marine spoke very calmly, but with the full power of his dress uniform, knowing full well he was above the lowly bureaucrats that sat before him. He stated, sure the Marine Corp can change the area code of it's 7,000 on-base phone numbers, including data lines and top secret communication channels. They could notify the Pentagon, along with the commanders and their fighting boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which most solders came from Camp Pendleton. But then he asked, “Is that really what you want your nation's 1st Expeditionary Marine Force, now fighting two wars, to be focusing on at this time?”

The Commission relented and approved the 442 over-lay, rather than making people change their phone numbers. But it didn't matter anyway, because further investigation revealed that it was some obscure, quasi-governmental, telephone number assigning agency that was the problem. If you or I started a little cell phone company for our own neighborhood we would be assigned a minimum of 10,000 phone numbers to sell to our customers, even though we only had, say 150 neighbors. That was the problem. At that time, there were many more cell companies competing than we have today. And big money was still in providing new landlines by MCI, Sprint, GTE, Continental, Verizon, SBC/Pacific Bell.

By reducing the amount of allocated numbers a phone company needed to hold for possible future use, and the massive decline of landline use, along with the technology advancement where phone company switching systems could recognize the use of a zero in the middle of the 3-digit prefix, contributed to the lack of a need for the 442. To this day, not one phone number has been issued to the new 442 area code.

The only down side to the over-lay, but we all knew it was coming sooner or later, as it has now for the rest of the country, was the need to now dial 10 digits to reach a local 760 number, when you once only needed to dial seven digits if in the same area code. But with individual phone numbers being totally portable across the country, geographic-based area codes are obsolete.

I'm still waiting for someone to make a cell phone with a rotary dial on it.


Matthew_Alice May 11, 2012 @ 8:21 a.m.

Thanks,Calif.Pretty much what I would have said if I'd had the (print) space, fortitude, interest, and snacks to keep me going.


Ken Harrison May 11, 2012 @ 3:01 p.m.

I've been off cafeine for 3 months. Someone slipped me a Barq's Root beer at dinner, the only caffeinated root beer. I left office at 12:30am, that my excuse for the rambling.


Matthew_Alice May 11, 2012 @ 6:11 p.m.

Subversive Barq's. Ambushed again by sodas.


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