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BIRD TALK: THE ELUSIVE BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER

 

By Greg Dunne

March 15, 2014 (Cowles Mountain)--The Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher is a small songbird living here in our East County that reminds me of the Wrentit.  It mainly reminds me of the Wrentit because it is not easily seen.  It is always a thrill when you can get a glimpse of this beautiful, but tiny bird. It will be a great time to observe small songbirds now that the rains have cleared and the sun reappears.

EARTHTALK(R): SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY

 

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Should those of us who care about our health and the planet be concerned about the new trend in genetic engineering called synthetic biology?                          -- Chrissie Wilkins, Bern, NC

“Synthetic biology” (or “synbio”) refers to the design and fabrication of novel biological parts, devices and systems that do not otherwise occur in nature. Many see it as an extreme version of genetic engineering (GE). But unlike GE, whereby genetic information with certain desirable traits is inserted from one organism into another, synbio uses computers and chemicals to create entirely new organisms.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: RAIN IS COMING, BUT PROCEED WITH CAUTION

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

February 28, 2014 (San Diego)--There’s good news forecasted for this week – Rain!  Two storms are possible this week says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. As the rain is very much welcome and needed, it’s important to keep safety in mind.  It will be hazardous.”

EARTH TALK: DIRTY FUELS

 

Dear EarthTalk: What are “dirty fuels” and why are they so called?    -- Bill Green, Seattle, WA

February 25, 2014 (San Diego's East County) - The term “dirty fuels” refers to fuels derived from tar sands, oil shale or liquid coal. Just like their more conventional fossil fuel counterparts such as petroleum and coal, they can be turned into gasoline, diesel and other energy sources that can generate extreme amounts of particulate pollution, carbon emissions and ecosystem destruction during their lifecycles from production to consumption.

THE ATTORNEY'S CODE: WHO CAN PROBATE AN ESTATE?

 

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

February 19, 2014 (San Diego County) – Probate is a court-supervised process whereby a decedent’s (deceased person) real and/or personal property is located, its value determined, his or her final bills and taxes paid (if any) and any remaining assets are distributed to his or her beneficiaries and/or heirs.

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS COLUMN: THE BIONIC MAYOR

 

By Mark Gabrish Conlan • for East County Magazine, www.eastcountymagazine.org

February 19, 2014 (San Diego's East County) - There’s an old saying, variously attributed to the Greek fabulist Aesop and the Roman poet Horace, that “the mountain labored and brought forth a mouse.” Last February 11, after a six-month campaign, the special election for Mayor of San Diego labored and brought forth Kevin Faulconer. Actually, it wasn’t the proverbial mountain; it was the Republican Party and the “independent” Lincoln Club of San Diego County, who essentially took the raw material of Kevin Faulconer and used him as a chassis on which to build a bionically perfect mayoral candidate for the San Diego electorate c. 2014: modishly liberal on the “social issues” and business-friendly, pro-developer and anti-labor without being as obstreperously obnoxious about it as the last Republican Mayoral candidate, Carl DeMaio.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: HOME SAFETY TIPS

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

February 17, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--“On average 20,000 deaths and 21 million medical visits occur annually, reminds Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Firefighters and Paramedics respond to thousands of accidents every day.”

Follow some of these tips to help prevent accidents in your home:

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: IT'S VALENTINE'S MONTH, PUT YOUR HEART IN IT

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

 

February 7, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--It’s Valentine month and February is also American Heart Month.  Cardiovascular Disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Now is a good time to take preventive steps and beat it!

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS COLUMN: THE MAKING OF THE RIGHT- -50 YEARS LATER

 

Why Goldwater Didn’t Become President: He Was Ahead of, Not Behind, the Times

By Mark Gabrish Conlan • for East County Magazine, www.eastcountymagazine.org

February 1, 2014 (San Diego)--Not long ago, I was at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park on a Sunday afternoon to hear San Diego’s civic organist, Carol Williams, play her weekly concert. After she was finished I walked over to one of the donation tables to renew my Spreckels Organ Society membership. The woman who helped me saw the book I was reading — a well-worn paperback of Theodore H. White’s book The Making of the President 1964 — and asked, “Is that about the Goldwater campaign?” I said yes, though the book is as much about Lyndon Johnson’s takeover of the presidency after the John F. Kennedy assassination and his campaign to keep the job. The woman then startled me by saying, “We need someone like Goldwater today — a progressive Republican.”

RENO DISPATCH: CRAMMING FOR FINALS--CAN SAN DIEGO STATE REALLY WIN A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP THIS SPRING?

 

By Jamie Reno

The Reno Dispatch

Jan. 28, 2014 (San Diego) -- The San Diego State Aztecs, who passed a tough road test at Utah State University Saturday night with a 74-69 overtime win, are headed toward the top of the 2014 class. Now ranked #5 in both major national college basketball polls, the 18-1 Aztecs, winners of 17 straight, are cramming for the Final Four in April and a possible national championship.

EARTHTALK®: CLIMATE CHANGE IS KILLING WHITEBARK PINE TREES ACROSS WEST

E - The Environmental Magazine

Photo by Frank D. Lospalluto/Flickr: Clark's Nuthatch on whitebark pine

Dear EarthTalk: How is it that climate change is responsible for killing whitebark pine trees and thus impacting mountain ecosystems?   -- Dale Livingstone, Salem, OR

January 24, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--Whitebark pine trees are a “keystone” species in high-altitude ecosystems across the American West, meaning they play an important role in maintaining the natural structure of many of our most iconic mountain regions. Wildlife from grizzly bears to songbirds are dependent on whitebark pine seeds for nourishment, while forest stands of the trees stabilize and shade the snowpack in winter, which helps reducing avalanches and helps extend snowmelt flows into the dry summer months.

BIRD TALK: MT. FORTUNA’S WRENTIT

By Greg Dunne

January 24, 2014 (Mission Trails) -- Instead of being  glued to the sofa and TV watching championship football games to see who will be going to the Super Bowl, I got a big pay-off with a photo of a cute little bird on Sunday.  I passed a few hikers along the way to the top of Mt. Fortuna out at Mission Trails Regional Park on Sunday afternoon.  How can you beat the great weather we have for hiking here in the East County, especially considering the hard winter the East Coast is getting right now?

The big pay-off for me was my first photo of this warm and fuzzy Wrentit. 

RENO DISPATCH: DID THIS LEGENDARILY INERT CONGRESS REALLY JUST GET OFF THE FLOOR AND DO SOMETHING RIGHT FOR OUR TROOPS & VETERANS?

 

 

By Jamie Reno

Jan. 16, 2014  (San Diego) -- It’s been a pretty positive week in Washington for our troops and veterans. As you've probably heard, Congressional negotiators have shockingly agreed on a $1.1 trillion spending package that almost everyone says is a pretty good deal. Go figure! And one of the real positives of this whopping budget agreement is that it gives active-duty military a one percent pay raise. 

But wait, there's been even more surprising action from this historically do-nothing Congress.  Read more at the Reno Dispatch.

THE CAREGIVERS' JOURNEY: CONSIDER CAREFULLY BEFORE MOVING PARENTS IN WITH YOU

By Marsha Kay Seff

January 16, 2014 (San Diego)--When I was a caregiver to my parents, some people faulted me for placing my folks in a retirement community, rather than moving them in with me.  But I never felt guilty about my choice.

For our family, the arrangement was the best option.

COLUMN: POLITICAL REFLECTIONS: 2013 - THE YEAR OF CRASH AND BURN

 
By Mark Gabrish Conlan 
 
January 5, 2014 (San Diego) -- If nothing else, 2013 will go down in history as a year that showed up just how silly the whole notion of punditry is. People read columns like this in hopes that the people writing them have some special wisdom that will not only explain to them what’s happening in politics now but what’s likely to happen in the future. Often we’re as clueless as anyone else. As Doyle McManus recently admitted in the Los Angeles Times, at this time last year he was expecting President Obama to be able to take full advantage of his resounding re-election victory and the Republicans in Congress to moderate their opposition and maybe even work with him to get things done.

CHIEF'S CORNER: NO FLU FOR YOU!

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

January 5, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- The flu season is here and like a wildfire, it seems to be spreading rapidly.  Symptoms may include: A 100 oF or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever), a cough and/or sore throat,  runny or stuffy nose. headaches and/or body aches, chills. fatigue. nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children).

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: NEW YEAR'S EVE SAFETY

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

December 31, 2013 (San Diego) – New Years Eve is a special evening, however it’s no special pass to overdo it.  “These Safe and responsible tips should be practiced year round,” says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna.

A HEARTFELT MESSAGE

 

Update January 3, 2014:  Five days after his heart surgery, which wound up being a quintuple bypass, we interviewed Leon in his hospital room.  Hear for yourself how energetic he's feeling - and how he's already setting the pace for walking a mile a day around the recovery ward. This interview aired on our East County Magazine Show on KNSJ Radio:  http://k007.kiwi6.com/hotlink/1x5gj5h5h7/Leon-HospitalInterviewPost-Surgery.mp3

Editor’s Note:  We send warm wishes for a speedy recovery to Leon Thompson, our “East County Eater.”  If you were at our holiday party, you'll recall Leon gleefully carving up the prime rib.  Tomorrow, Leon is undergoing triple bypass surgery, or as he calls it, “the trifecta.”   Undaunted, he asked us to post this message for our readers—including his witty review of hospital food, along with his New Year’s resolution for healthy dining—and a special request for our readers.

By Leon Thompson, a.k.a. the East County Eater

December 26, 2013 (La Mesa)--This is Leon Thompson, otherwise known as the East County Eater to readers of East County Magazine. Today I’m reporting from Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa.  My lifetime of savoring great foods, along with a family history of coronary artery disease, has finally caught up with me.  So I’ll be undergoing triple bypass surgery Friday morning—split down the middle like an oyster, with some fancy rerouting of my plumbing by the cardiac surgeon, and then I’ll be trussed up like a holiday turkey, with a few weeks to marinate before I’m back on the beat.

So by the time you hear this broadcast, hopefully I’ll have a healthy heart just in time for the New Year.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: GREED - FOR LACK OF A BETTER WORD - IS CRUDE (THE WOLF OF WALL STREET)

 

By Brian Lafferty

December 25, 2013 (San Diego) – Marin Scorsese’s few forays into comedy thus far have been The King of Comedy (1983) and After Hours (1985).  Both are delightful dark comedies.  The former starred Robert De Niro as a delusional fan and stalker of a TV talk show host (Jerry Lewis).  The latter was written by then-Columbia University student Joseph Minion for his thesis.  It was a simple, yet uncommonly clever, a word processor’s (Griffin Dunne) crazy night.

Neither film, however, is as pitch black as The Wolf of Wall Street, not only the funniest film of the year, but the best period.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: HOLIDAY FOOD SAFETY

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

December 23, 2013 (San Diego) -- It’s finally here!  Everything is out and up, presents are wrapped and time to eat and enjoy (if only it were that easy…) Here are some tips to keep your feasts safe during this Holiday season:

Go wash your hands!  Use hot soapy water to wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces (including cutting boards). Repeat this throughout your preparation to ensure you aren't spreading bacteria around. 

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: A SPOONFUL OF TREACLE (SAVING MR. BANKS)

 

By Brian Lafferty

December 20, 2013 (San Diego) – What in the world were screenwriters Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith thinking as they wrote Saving Mr. Banks, a colossal misfire in tone?  And director John Lee Hanchock (The Blind Side), who thought the script was good enough to film?  The upbeat, sunshiny trailers constitute fraud as far as I’m concerned.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD TO NOWHERE (INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS)

 

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.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: WHAT'S THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT? SAFETY!

 

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.

EARTHTALK®: CLEANING WATERWAYS

 

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.

THE CAREGIVERS' JOURNEY: WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU LEMONS, BAKE A LEMON PIE

 

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.

BIRD TALK: MIGRATORY BIRDS

 

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.

EARTHTALK®: NAVY SONAR TESTING IN OCEANS IMPACTING MARINE MAMMALS

 

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.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: INDOOR CHRISTMAS SAFETY

 

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. 

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: OUTDOOR CHRISTMAS SAFETY

 

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.

SAN DIEGO FILM CRITICS NOMINATE TOP FILMS FOR 2013

 

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. 

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