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POLITICAL REFLECTIONS: BALBOA PARK--THE GOOD GUYS WIN

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

February 19, 2013 (Revised February 20) -- Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs’ plan for an extensive remodel of the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park sailed easily through the San Diego City Council last summer — Councilmember Sherri Lightner’s was the only vote against it — but it hit a snag in San Diego Superior Court February 5.

That’s when Judge Timothy Taylor, ruling in the suit the Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) filed against the city to stop the Jacobs plan, found that the city had basically ignored its own rules by insisting that the current configuration of the park, with much of its area used for large, free parking lots, was not a “reasonable beneficial use of the property” under city law.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR ESTATE PLAN

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

February 17, 2013 (San Diego County) – I often talk with people who believe estate planning is only for the wealthy. However, even people with few assets may benefit from proper estate planning.

You may be subject to formal probate proceedings if the gross real and personal property value of your estate exceeds $150,000 and you do not have a revocable trust. A properly prepared power of attorney for health care may avoid the need for a costly conservatorship proceeding if you subsequently lack capacity to make your own decisions. A power of attorney may avoid a conservatorship proceeding and ensure that a person you trust is ready to handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated.

THE CAREGIVER'S JOURNEY: A LONG AND WINDING PATH

Becoming your parents' parent conjures up pictures of "tangled apron strings."

By Marsha Kay Seff

February 17, 2013 (San Diego) -- As a child, the strings seemed well-defined.  You needed your parents and their role was to fulfill your needs.  Now, with your parents aging and leaning increasingly on you, the apron strings are tangled, wound tightly around you.

This role reversal isn’t easy for any of you.  Your parents, no doubt, are fighting furiously to cling to their dignity and independence.  And you’re pulled between the demands of your life and theirs.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: WHAT A TRIP! (JOHN DIES AT THE END)

By Brian Lafferty

February 15, 2013 (San Diego) – Sometimes moviegoing is a leap of faith.  One question I always dread answering is, “Do you recommend such-and-such film?”  I'm not in the business of recommendations.  Maybe I was in 2010, but my philosophy on film criticism has evolved and will continue to evolve.  My critical approach is to evaluate and write about the elements of the film, my personal reaction to it, and whether the film succeeds or doesn't.  I prefer to stimulate interest and discussion rather than tell you whether you will or won’t like a movie.  (Personally, I would find it presumptuous for someone who doesn’t know my tastes to tell me I’d like a film, so why would I do the same to you?)  I leave it up to you to decide if you should spend your money, but at least you'll be well informed and have an idea of what to expect. 

SOCIAL SECURITY CARDS AND NUMBERS

By Erika Lawrence

Social Security District Manager, El Cajon

February 19, 2013 (El Cajon)--Do you know where your Social Security card is located? Hopefully, it’s in a safe place, tucked away securely with your other important papers. It certainly should not be in your purse or wallet and should not be carried with you every day since it can be more valuable than cash to an identity thief.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT (BEAUTIFUL CREATURES)

By Brian Lafferty

February 15, 2013 (San Diego) – The Twilight movies are easy targets for online hostility and teasing.  But at least those movies, as lifeless as they are to me (I gave up after the second one), respect their audience, especially their target young adult audience.  They don't insult anyone’s intelligence.  Beautiful Creatures, inspired by (or, rather, ripped off from) the Twilight series is offensive, rife with exaggerated phony accents, Southern stereotypes, hammy acting, and dialogue so awkward and bad that it confounds the actors who have to say these lines.  I’m surprised my neck didn’t get stiff from all the double takes.  Beautiful Creatures is downright insulting towards not just the general audience, but also particularly its target young adult audience and their intelligence, and the flagrancy of it is appalling.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: MCCLANE TAKES ON MOSCOW (A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD)

By Brian Lafferty

February 15, 2013 (San Diego) – In preparation for this film, I spent over six hours of my Saturday binging on the Die Hard sequels (I saw the first a couple of years ago).  The experience was like riding a train careening at speeds upwards of 200 miles an hour.  Following the massive adrenaline rush was an equally intense feeling of euphoria.  It took a few days to recover.

FINANCIAL WELLNESS CAN BE YOURS IN 2013

 

By Erika Lawrence

Social Security District Manager, El Cajon

February 9, 2013 (El Cajon)--January is Financial Wellness Month — a great time to think about your own financial future. It also happens to be at this time that many people make resolutions for the New Year. Why not combine the two and make your own financial wellness a resolution for 2013?

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: THE UNBEARABLE SADNESS OF BEING (SIDE EFFECTS)

By Brian Lafferty

February 8, 2013 (San Diego) – The press screening announcement for Side Effects read "Please note that due to the non-linear nature of this film, we will not let anyone into screenings of Side Effects if they arrive LATE.”  The impression I got was that Soderbergh's last theatrical release - his final project is a Liberace biopic that will air on HBO later this year - would be a mind-bender like Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky or Christopher Nolan's Memento.  I was wrong, but the publicity people were right to deny entry to latecomers.  (Even if they didn't, I can't grasp how any critic could feel comfortable reviewing any movie they're late for.  In many cases and for many reasons too irrelevant and lengthy to list, the first few minutes are a film’s most important.)

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: SHORT, BUT SWEET (THE OSCAR NOMINATED LIVE ACTION SHORT FILMS OF 2013)

By Brian Lafferty

February 1, 2013 (San Diego) -- The annual presentation of the year's Oscar-nominated short films is back at the Ken Cinema (my review of the animated shorts can be found here).  What follows is a review of the five diverse and very personal live-action shorts vying for the coveted statuette. 

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: ANIMATION APPRECIATION (THE OSCAR NOMINATED ANIMATED SHORT FILMS OF 2013)

By Brian Lafferty

February 1, 2013 (San Diego) -- Every year around this time, the Landmark Ken Cinema - the venerable go-to theater for niche movies - treats San Diego to its annual showing of the year's Oscar nominated short films.  This year boasts a mostly impressive slate of animated shorts (my review of the live action shorts can be read here). 

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: BLOOD BAYOU (BULLET TO THE HEAD)

By Brian Lafferty

February 1, 2013 (San Diego) -- Bullet to the Head is the second film in three weeks - Arnold Schwarzenegger's The Last Stand being the other - to star one of my favorite action heroes from yesteryear.  The addition of long-absent action director Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hrs.) ups the nostalgia factor.  Bullet to the Head recalls those 80s and 90s action crime films that Hill and Stallone are known for while keeping up with the 2010s. 

RENO DISPATCH: HOW I SURVIVED MULTIPLE BLOOD CLOTS!

By Jamie Reno

January 31, 2013 (San Diego) – Last summer, as I was nearing the end of a grueling three-set tennis match in 90-degree heat, I felt a very sharp pain in my left side, below my heart, and then just collapsed on the court. It was easily the most painful thing I've ever experienced. I could barely move.

I wasn't sure if it was a heart attack, a ruptured spleen, a tumor, or what. All I knew is that it hurt like heck and that it was probably something serious. With the help of my tennis partner, I made it to the car and then to the hospital, where, after hours of blood tests and scans, the ER doctors finally discovered the problem: multiple blood clots in both lungs.

http://therenodispatch.blogspot.com/2013/01/how-i-survived-multiple-bloo...

EARTHTALK®: ALLERGIES AND UNHEALTHY INDOOR AIR

January 31, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: My family has bad allergies and I’d like to improve our indoor air quality. What are some steps I should take?

-- Marcia Lane, Scranton, PA

Even for those of us without allergies, poor indoor air quality is an often overlooked health issue. Recent research has shown that the air inside some buildings can be more polluted than the outdoor air in the most industrialized of cities. And since many of us spend some 90 percent of our time indoors, cleaning the air where we live and work might be one of the most important things we can do for our health.

EARTHTALK®: WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF NATIONAL WILDLIFE WEEK?

January 31, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: What is the purpose of National Wildlife Week, which I understand will take place in March 2013?

-- Melissa P., Burlington, NJ

National Wildlife Week is a program of the non-profit National Wildlife Federation (NWF) that is designed around teaching and connecting kids to the wonders of wildlife. Each year, the group picks a theme and provides fun and informative educational materials, curriculum and activities for educators and caregivers to use with their kids.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: CARBON MONOXIDE POISINING

January 26, 2013 (San Diego) – Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, the leading cause of CO is heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel which can be sources of carbon monoxide says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna.

CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home DiGiovanna recommends. “When one sounds, they all sound!”

RENO DISPATCH: CHILLING TESTIMONY: DESIGN FLAWS AT CALIFORNIA NUCLEAR POWER PLANT PUT MILLIONS IN DANGER

By Jamie Reno

January 26, 2013 (San Diego) – The operator of the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California made critical errors in the design of the plant's replacement steam generators and, as a result, the public was put in great danger last year, according to expert testimony Wednesday by an internationally renowned nuclear engineer at a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) hearing.

The chilling testimony, which was presented to the NRC Petitions Review Board, was accompanied by evidence showing that plant operator Southern California Edison should have been required to go through a license amendment process before installing the new steam generators in 2009 and 2010.

http://therenodispatch.blogspot.com/2013/01/design-flaws-at-california-n...

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: FIREPLACE SAFETY

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

January 26, 2013 (San Diego) – It’s been unusually cold and more cold weather is in store this winter. During the cold winter months nothing beats a nice fire in the fireplace. Fires may keep us warm, however, there are hazards that need to be addressed says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna.

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) encourages you to practice the following fire safety steps to keep those home fires safely burning says DiGiovanna. Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility ...Fire Stops With You!

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: HIGH WIND SAFETY TIPS

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

January 26, 2013 (San Diego) – Wildfires are not the only hazard we have to concern ourselves with during High Winds and Red Flag Warnings.

Safety Tips:

The safest place to during high winds is indoors.

Watch for flying debris. Tree limbs may break and street signs may become loose during strong wind gusts. Keep an eye toward nearby balconies for loose objects that may fall.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: JOURNEY TO MIDDLE AGE (56 UP)

By Brian Lafferty

January 25, 2013 (San Diego) – Michael Apted is not a director that quickly comes to mind.  He's done some great films, like Coal Miner's Daughter (1980).  Other notable films he's helmed include Gorky Park (1983), Gorillas in the Mist (1988), and Amazing Grace (2006).  He's even directed a James Bond movie. (The World Is Not Enough, 1999.)  

NETFLIX STREAMING PICK OF THE WEEK: DOCUMENTATION OF LIFE (THE UP DOCUMENTARIES)

56 Up, the newest Up Documentary, opens today at the Landmark Ken.

By Brian Lafferty

January 25, 2013 (San Diego) – In 1964, Michael Apted filmed 7 Up for British television.  He and his team sought fourteen children - all aged 7 - from all walks of life.  He found ten boys and four girls who he then interviewed about various political and social issues as well as their dreams and hopes for the future.

LOOKING FOR FOREVER HOMES- SHELTER DOGS TO DREAM DOGS

 

January 22, 2013 (Alpine) -- Dream Dogs has a 4 month-old, cuddly Maltipoo female puppy (pictured at left). We also have a 1.5 year-old, 6 lb. Yorkie/Cairn Terrier that would make a wonderful friend to a loving owner (see picture on website and Facebook). 

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: ARNOLD IS BACK (THE LAST STAND)

By Brian Lafferty

January 18, 2013 (San Diego) -- It seems like it's been forever but Arnold Schwarzenegger, to borrow a familiar line, is back.  The Last Stand is his first starring role since Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines ten years ago.  It’s apparent the transition from governor back to actor isn’t easy for him.  His timing isn't as sharp as it was in True Lies and at 65 he’s not as physically overpowering as he was twenty years ago.  I liken it to someone relearning how to drive a car after having not driven for many years.

Of course I knew going in all of that was to be expected.  Sure enough, these are minor quibbles.

THE CAREGIVER'S JOURNEY: YOU NEED TO DRAW THE LINE

By Marsha Kay Seff

January 16, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--Take a deep breath and buckle your seatbelt.  You’re a caregiver:  Sure you feel overwhelmed.  It goes with the job; there’s not a family caregiver around who doesn’t feel stressed to the max – a lot of the time.

Caregiving is a rollercoaster.  You go up and you go down, sometimes at virtually the same time.  So buckle up and try to enjoy the best parts of the ride.

An important way to prepare for this journey is to set boundaries. 

EARTHTALK®: WHAT IS THE LIVING BUILDING CHALLENGE?

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

January 12, 2013 (San Diego)--Dear EarthTalk: What is the Living Building Challenge and how does it differ from the LEED certification program?                                                 -- Jason Marshall, Richmond, VA

Both Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the Living Building Challenge (LBC) were created with the same goal in mind: to encourage more sustainability and resource conservation in architecture, design, construction and building operations. LEED, a program of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is well known in architecture, building and design circles as the standard for certifying the green attributes of new and retrofitted structures (and even entire neighborhoods).

RENO DISPATCH: BREAKING NEWS: SUPREME COURT REJECTS HISTORIC LAWSUIT AGAINST GOVERNMENT

By Jamie Reno, The Reno Dispatch

January 10, 2013 (Washington, D.C.) – The U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will not hear arguments in an historic lawsuit filed by two veterans groups in 2007 against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The lawsuit, Veterans for Common Sense v. Shinseki, demanded that the VA fix its broken mental health care system.

Last May, a federal appeals court in California voted 10–1 to dismiss the case, ruling that only Congress or the president has the authority to direct changes on how veterans are treated. The decision overturned a 2–1 ruling in 2011 by the same court, which said that the department’s “unchecked incompetence has gone on long enough,” and permitted the plaintiffs to ask a federal judge to order changes in the VA.

http://therenodispatch.blogspot.com/2013/01/breaking-news-supreme-court-...

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: RODENTS AND COLD WEATHER - A PESKY FIRE HAZARD!

January 10, 2013 (San Diego) – People aren't the only ones who value a dry, cozy home in cold weather according to Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Rodents do, too. "As it gets colder, everything that was out tends to want to find some sort of harbor inside," says Chief DiGiovanna. They scurry in our walls and above our heads during the night, they raid our food and ruin it with their feces, and they reproduce wildly, creating more and more inhabitants for us to worry about. Rats, mice and squirrels also do a lot of damage to your home's structure, insulation, pipes and even electrical wiring.

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS: REPUBLICANS WIN THE "FISCAL CLIFF" DEBATE

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

The views expressed in this column reflect the views of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine.

January 10, 2013 (San Diego) -- The first part of the “fiscal cliff” debate is over — and the Republicans won. That’s not the impression you’ll get from the corporate media, either the “objective” mainstream or the Right-wing media party of talk radio and Fox News. The mainstream media are reporting the swift passage of a bill through both houses of Congress continuing the Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans making $400,000 per year ($450,000 per couple) as a triumph for President Obama and at least a partial fulfillment of his pledge in both Presidential campaigns for a (slight) tax increase on the wealthiest Americans. (Ironically, the $400,000 at which the restored tax rates kick in also happens to be the salary of the President.) But the bill is actually a slap-dash scheme thrown together at the last minute to keep taxes from returning to Clinton-era levels for all Americans — and it leaves the Republicans with yet another opportunity to hold the American economy hostage and demand draconian cuts to what’s left of the social safety net when Congress next has to raise the U.S. debt ceiling in two months.

RENO DISPATCH: BREAKING NEWS: IS NUCLEAR POWER DONE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA?

January 8, 2013 (San Diego) – Will there be no more nukes in Southern California? That now appears to be a very real possibility. It's been a year now since a radioactive steam leak lead to the closure of the two aging reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), which is located between San Diego and Los Angeles. The power plant is not expected to reboot any time soon, if ever.

Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a Request for Additional Information to Southern California Edison, the plant's majority owner, for its review of the company’s restart idea, asking the utility to provide evidence that reactor Unit 2, which Edison wants to reboot, can be operated safely.

http://therenodispatch.blogspot.com/2013/01/breaking-news-is-nuclear-pow...

EARTHTALK®: IS CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTING THE HEALTH OF RIVERS

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

January 7, 2013 (San Diego)--Dear EarthTalk: How is it that climate change is negatively affecting the health of rivers and, by extension, the quality and availability of fresh water?                  -- Robert Elman, St. Louis, MO

Global warming is no doubt going to cause many kinds of problems (and, indeed, already is), and rivers may well be some of the hardest hit geographical features, given the likelihood of increased droughts, floods and the associated spread of waterborne diseases.

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