By Brian Lafferty
December 20, 2013 (San Diego) – The year is 1961, and the setting is Greenwich Village in New York City. Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is an aspiring folk singer – and a darn good one – just trying to earn a living. As gifted as he is, it’s too bad nobody wants to hire him. The film takes place during one week in which he finds his career – and himself – going nowhere at every turn.
December 19, 2013 (San Diego) – We’re all kids at heart, but one of the first questions you should ask is, “What is the toy appropriate age?” says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. It's essential to adhere to the age guidelines indicated on toy packaging, because even a toy for a 3-year-old could have parts too small for a 2-year-old to handle properly.
Are there any small, loose parts that your child can swallow? If you're not sure, consider the toilet paper tube test: anything that can pass through the tube is too small to be given to a child under 3 years old. Marbles, coins and balls are common culprits.
December 18, 2013 (San Diego) – Dear EarthTalk: Is there a way to get local communities involved in cleaning up waterways, like rivers, lakes, streams and creeks?
-- Rebecca, via e-mail
Indeed, many of our local waterways have seen better days, thanks to decades of pollution. And cleaning them up and preventing further damage can be challenging, since much of the contamination has accumulated over time and results from what is known as “non-point source” pollution, which accounts for as much as 60 percent of the water pollution in the U.S.
By Marsha Kay Seff
December 18, 2013 (San Diego) – As an adult child of octogenarian parents, I wore a virtual millinery shop full of hats. It often felt as if I needed more heads. I know I needed more arms and legs – and much more time.
One of my most-frayed chapeaus was my thinking cap, for I was most certainly the daughter of invention.
A big part of my role as the designated caregiver was inventing gizmos that would make my parents' lives more manageable and comfortable.
By Greg Dunne
December 17, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Our County has many migratory birds. This week, I’m highlighting two of them: the Northern Shoveler Duck (although a few will stay year round) and a small song bird, the Townsend’s Warbler, a winter visitor.
The Northern Shoveler is primarily a winter visitor to the County, abundant this time of year at Santee Lakes, Lindo Lake and I’ve even spotted a few this year at Lake Murray. The Northern Shoveler is a medium sized duck with a very long bill that is wider at the tip than the base. It has a glossy dark green head similar to the Mallard Duck but the bill of the shoveler stands out from any other duck. Shovelers use this bill to filter out food from the water.
December 11, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: I understand the Navy is doing sonar testing and training in the oceans and that their activities will likely kill hundreds if not thousands of whales and other marine mammals. What can be done to stop this?
-- Jackie Bomgardner, Wilton, CT
Active sonar is a technology used on ships to aid in navigation, and the U.S. Navy tests and trains with it extensively in American territorial waters. The Navy also conducts missile and bomb testing in the same areas. But environmentalists and animal advocates contend that this is harming whales and other marine wildlife, and are calling on the Navy to curtail such training and testing exercises accordingly.
December 11, 2013 (San Diego) – “Now that the outdoor decorations are in place, let’s look at a few indoor safety tips,” says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna.
When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. “Heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water,” reminds Chief DiGiovanna. Do not block doorways. Use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs. Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
December 11, 2013 (San Diego) – It’s the Holiday season, and many of us will begin hanging decorations. “This week, we’ll start from the outside and work our way in,” says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. One of the most common causes of holiday-time house fires results from these bulbs being too close to gutters filled with dried out leaves. Make sure that the strings of lights you are using outside have built-in fuses on the lines. Check the actual plug. Make sure you are using lights designated for outdoor use only. Use Christmas lights and electric equipment that has been tested and verified by a reliable testing laboratory.
December 10, 2013 (San Diego) – It’s that time of the year, where critics groups from all around the world honor the year’s best movies. The New York Film Critics Circle kicked off awards season last week by voting David O. Russell’s upcoming film, American Hustle, their pick for 2013’s top film.
December 4, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: Can you discuss pollutants in car interior materials, and also pollution inside cars originating from gasoline and diesel exhausts outside the car?
-- Mervyn Kline, Philadelphia, PA
November 27, 2013 (San Diego) – The works of some of San Diego County’s most talented and promising landscape artists will be on exhibit in a juried art show sponsored by the California Art Club (CAC) and hosted by the Olaf Wieghorst Museum. Landscapes of the West opened October 8 and runs through January 11, 2014, at the museum’s downtown El Cajon location at 131 Rea Avenue. El Cajon’s Olaf Wieghorst Museum is dedicated to preserving America’s western heritage. It houses the works of Olaf Wieghorst, an internationally recognized western artist whose paintings have been praised and acquired by royalty, presidents and celebrities. Born in Denmark, the self-taught artist immigrated to the United States and eventually settled in El Cajon. His restored ranch house is a local landmark and sits on museum property.
November 27, 2013 (San Diego) – Greg Dunne, best known to our readers as our “Bird Talk” columnist, sent us these photos and review comments on the Pearl Jam concert at San Diego State University.
“The show had everything. All the great songs to name a few: Even Flow, Black, Just Breathe, a Who song Baba O'Riley (We all know as Teenage Waste Land). A great rendition of Star-Spangled Banner by lead guitarist Mike McCready. Was it as good as the classic by Jimi Hendrix? Dare I say yes?” he wrote, adding that while “not as iconic as the great Jimi's rendition,” the concert was “a love fest between Pearl Jam and the fans. The audience knew just when to jump in and sing along with Eddie.”
November 27, 2013 (San Diego) – Justice is relative in Oldboy. The latest film from director Spike Lee is complex in many areas. Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) and Adrian Pryce (Sharlto Copley) would feel right at home in an Anthony Mann western; Joe is a good guy who is hard to root for while Adrian is a villain who is hard to root against. Writer Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend, Thor), adapting from both the manga and the 2003 Park Chan-wook film starring Choi Min-sik (I Saw the Devil), puts together a maddeningly tantalizing script that protects its secrets to the last few minutes the same way Cerberus guards the gates of Hades.
November 25, 2013 (San Diego) – Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, when holiday gift buying begins. Sales offering big discounts lure customers into stores, often beginning in the early hours of the morning. “Unfortunately, Black Friday (and most major shopping days) is a day when shoppers may become victims of crimes and injuries,” says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna.
By Brian Lafferty
November 22, 2013 (San Diego) – A few months ago I watched for the first time the infamous episode of the 1950s quiz show Twenty-One in which contestant Charles Van Doren “defeated” Herb Stempel. A few years later it was revealed that many of the prime time network quiz shows were rigged at the behest of the sponsors. What millions of viewers thought was actual suspenseful game playing was really a series of scripted performances for the sake of “good television” and high ratings. (If you watch that episode of Twenty-One, it’s so obvious Van Doren is acting, and doing a bad job of it.)
November 21, 2013 (San Diego) – Thanksgiving signifies the beginning of the Holiday Season and many of us will be spending more time in the kitchen preparing for the Holidays over the next week according to Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. “Let’s start thinking safety as Thanksgiving Day is the leading day for home cooking fires, with three times as many occurring on Thanksgiving as any other day of the year. Thanksgiving is a fun, festive holiday, but it’s also very hectic says Chief DiGiovanna. All the entertaining and distractions make it easy to forget about what’s cooking on the stovetop.”
November 21, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that American kids are going through puberty earlier today than in previous generations, and are there any environmental causes for this?
-- Paul Chase, Troy, NY
Research indicates that indeed Americans girls and boys are going through puberty earlier than ever, though the reasons are unclear. Many believe our widespread exposure to synthetic chemicals is at least partly to blame, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why our bodies react in certain ways to various environmental stimuli.
November 18, 2013 (San Diego) – The Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation (MTRP) is pleased to present an exhibition featuring three award winning photographers: Debbie Beals, Darci Hook, and Janice Roudebush.
This photography exhibit, "Elements: Three Perspectives on Nature," will be on display in the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center Art Gallery November 16 through December 13, 2013. The public is cordially invited to a reception in honor of the artists on Sunday, November 24, 2013 from 1:00 - 4:00 pm.
“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”
By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.
November 17, 2013 (San Diego County) – The California Probate Code provides three summary procedures that may be used to avoid formal probate when transferring property in small estates. Summary procedures are most beneficial when the estate value is small, the number of successors to decedent’s assets is minimal, there will not be any adverse tax consequences, the decedent had few or no debts or liabilities and entitlement to the property is not disputed. Compared to formal probate administration, summary administration usually reduces the time and expense required to transfer property to the persons entitled to it. However, certain requirements must be met in order to use the summary procedures.
By Brian Lafferty
November 14, 2013 (San Diego) – Every time a stream of adjectives flows into my mind when describing Blue Is the Warmest Color, “unique” invariably pops up. That assessment, however, is wrong. It’s unique only in the sense that the lovers are of the same sex. Nobody would say so if the characters were a boy and a girl. Adèle and Emma love each other, make love to each other, live with each other, and eventually break up with each other. Just as a normal heterosexual couple would. In that sense, and as a result of over a century of movie conditioning, it would be viewed as a “normal” relationship.
By Richard Lederer and Caroline McCullagh
November 13, 2013 (San Diego) – SDW/EG members Richard Lederer and Caroline McCullagh are the proud co-authors of American Trivia: What We All Should Know About U.S. History, Culture & Geography (Gibbs Smith Publisher, 2012). Over a span of three years, Rich and Caroline will share with you their journey through American history.
November 14, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) –Electrical failures cause thousands of home fires every year, says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Those fires cause death and injuries and close to $1.5 billion dollars in property damage. One simple way homeowners can prevent costly electrical fires is with a home fire inspection. Many fire departments offer this service—often free of charge.
Ask your local department about having an inspection for potential electrical issues and recommend steps for improving fire safety. An inspection should review all fire hazards in your home, from testing smoke detectors to making sure curtains and other flammables are a safe distance from heat sources.
By Brian Lafferty
November 8, 2013 (San Diego) – For all the gripes I hear about Hollywood’s glut of sequels – particularly about its apparent unwilling to try something new – there exists an upside that frequently gets lost in all the grousing: whereas the first film acts the set-up, the second can just get right down to business. Such is the case with Thor: The Dark World.
By Brian Lafferty
November 1, 2013 (San Diego) -- If there are any contemporary filmmakers more daring than Steve McQueen, I'm hard pressed to name one. His first film, Hunger (2008), starred Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands, the Irish Republican Army Volunteer who led a hunger strike in a British prison and died in 1981. He followed it up with Shame (2011), which also starred Fassbender, this time as a yuppie with a grossly unhealthy sex addiction. The MPAA gave it an NC-17 rating for its frank and explicit depiction of sexual acts, and rightfully so, but Fox Searchlight left it as is.
By Brian Lafferty
November 1, 2013 (San Diego) – Ender’s Game views warfare, military training, and combat from a unique perspective: a child’s. The air is filled with an aura of childhood innocence. The very real threat of humanity’s annihilation is hard for these young recruits to completely comprehend because they haven’t experienced life and the world as much as grown-ups have.
October 31, 2013 (San Diego) – Halloween is upon us and safety should be the number one priority for trick-or-treaters, says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Here are some tips for choosing the right costumes:
Costumes purchased should be made of flame retardant material (check the label). Hemlines should be short enough to prevent tripping. Glow-in-the-dark reflective tape is great for night time costumes.
October 24, 2013 (San Diego) – Dear EarthTalk: I understand that there are many internships available at environmental organizations, some involving working outdoors, some year-round with expenses paid. Where do I find these?
-- Jason Baar, Los Angeles, CA
Internships can provide professional experience and on-the-job training for individuals looking to enter the environmental field. There are numerous opportunities and the key is to know where to look. Many businesses, non-profits and governmental organizations offer internships that are environmentally focused and can range from office work in many different departments to working outdoors, some year-round and some short term. Compensation also varies significantly and can range from unpaid (but earning college credit) to salaried and/or all-expenses-paid.
By Marsha Kay Seff
October 24, 2013 (San Diego) – In your job as a caregiver, you probably won’t be able to avoid a crisis. But being prepared for one will help make things easier for you and your parents.
The biggest mistake you can make is being complacent until the inevitable happens. By then, you will have to move too quickly with limited options and a big chance of making mistakes.
Don’t waste time in denial. It’s a given that your parents will get older and frailer. By the time they fall, are hospitalized, or end up with full-blown dementia, it’s too late to set up a plan.
by Mark Gabrish Conlan for East County Magazine, www.eastcountymagazine.org
I will not live my life for any other man, nor ask any other man to live his life for mine. — Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
October 10, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) -- As I’m writing this, it’s the eighth day of the shutdown of the federal government, and there’s no end in sight. What’s more, unless Congress acts to expand the so-called “debt ceiling” — the total amount of money the federal government can borrow to fund its current obligations — by October 17, the U.S. could default on its loans for the first time in its history.
Economists and businesspeople are warning that this could be catastrophic for the future not only of the U.S. but the entire world’s economy. As Douglas Cote, chief market strategist for IMG Investment Management U.S. in New York — not exactly your most flaming liberal or Leftist source — was quoted in the October 3 Los Angeles Times, the politicians who have brought about the government shutdown and are threatening to force the U.S.’s first-ever default are playing “a form of Russian roulette with a loaded gun.”
October 10, 2013 (Kensington) – The Ken Cinema in Kensington, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, is one of only two regularly operating single-screen theaters in San Diego (the other being the new Digital Gym Cinema in North Park, which opened up in April this year). The Ken is known for two things, the first being San Diego’s home to unique, niche films (as I’ve written about before).