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Stories by Matthew Alice

Calories out, calories in

Heymatt: For the last week I’ve been climbing Cowles Mountain every day. It takes me about 1 hour, round trip. At the bottom, I reward myself with an entire box of Girl Scout Thin Mints. ...

March 6, 2013
Timekeeping across the ages

Hi Matt: Back when I was a kid, not too many people had wristwatches. This was not a problem, however, as all you had to do was turn on the radio to any station and, ...

March 6, 2013
Bridge-construction practices and reflective tape on semi-trailers

Mr. Alice: Whenever I encounter bridge construction on the interstate, or most any other highways and roads, fastened onto the temporary supports at both sides of the road is a painted and illuminated, white board ...

March 6, 2013
Why congress no longer approves gas prices

Heymatt: Please set the record straight. Back in the day, when gas prices first hit $2/gallon, Congress would have had to approve the increase. What happened to that law? There seems to be no need ...

February 27, 2013
Moon reflections

Hi Matt: I was gazing at a full moon and a bunch of questions flooded my mind. How reflective is the surface of the moon? Does moonlight have a UV content? Would there be any ...

February 27, 2013
Getting more ink from a ballpoint pen

Heymatt: Here is one no one can answer: how to restart ink flowing in a ballpoint pen after non-use. This has everyone stumped, so if you can’t answer, that’s OK. — John, via email At ...

February 27, 2013
A roll up a gravity hill

Mattster: In my ’50s cruising days, after hitting Oscar’s Drive In on El Cajon Boulevard, one stop we would always make was at a “magnetic hill” where steel cans appeared to roll uphill. I believe ...

February 13, 2013
Only one way in and one way out of the post office

Hey Matt: A colleague and I were at the Tierrasanta post office. It’s located in a typical shopping center with enough room for traffic lanes in each direction, yet they have signs showing only one ...

Con-man math

Heymatt: My brother-in-law used to tell me this riddle all the time, but he passed away a few years ago and now none of my family can remember the answer, if ever there was one: ...

February 6, 2013
Stepping into Mission Valley from Hillcrest

Heymatt: About 30 years ago I heard about some concrete stairs leading from the area around UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest down to Mission Valley. I went exploring and found them, but I only went ...

Turn that down!

Heymatt: Why do some clubs have such loud music? I know loud volume is a substitute for quality tones, but do they really need to go that far? Some have sound levels of 105 decibels, ...

January 30, 2013
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 ...

January 30, 2013
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 ...

January 30, 2013
Bullets in a bonfire

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

January 23, 2013
Days-of-yore Disney

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

January 23, 2013
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 ...

January 23, 2013
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!” ...

January 16, 2013
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 ...

January 16, 2013
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 ...

January 16, 2013
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 ...

January 9, 2013
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 ...

January 9, 2013
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 ...

January 2, 2013
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 ...

January 2, 2013
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 ...

January 2, 2013
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 ...

December 19, 2012
Near-beer bust

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 ...

December 19, 2012
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 ...

December 12, 2012
Help for a caged dog?

How to rescue a helpless puppy?

December 12, 2012
America's Finest Mural

A temporal mural that's stood time's test.

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 ...

December 5, 2012
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 ...

November 28, 2012
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 ...

November 28, 2012
Topless males vs. topless females

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

November 20, 2012
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 ...

November 20, 2012
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 ...

November 14, 2012
Why we say “bless you” when people sneeze

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

November 7, 2012
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 ...

November 7, 2012
White Shoes = Free Meals?

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

October 31, 2012
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?

October 24, 2012
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 ...

October 10, 2012
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 ...

September 26, 2012
Moonshine Whiskey Tales and Fly Stories

How moonshine is made and why we call a zipper a “fly”

September 19, 2012
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 ...

September 12, 2012
Big League Zebras; the Speed of Thought

Referee college and the speed of thought (uncorrelated).

September 5, 2012
Linda, They Hardly Knew Ye

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

August 29, 2012

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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