1998 Archive

March 18

Will we allow our ship to come in, or just wave it off?
I've figured out the perfect way to have stopped World War II in its tracks. The Coastal Commission! Local, state, and national bureaucracies! Between them they could have wrapped up the war so tight in layers upon layers of red tape that nothing would have moved.

April 15

An April headline remembered
For those of us who watched it happen, it's hard to believe it was 27 years ago.

April 22

Some adventures from Badwater to I-80
Though I'm a born Californian, and I've seen my native state from Weed to San Diego, Mount Shasta to Knott's Berry Farm, I had never until Easter 1998 been to Death Valley.

April 29

Buzzwords and more buzzwords
There are buzzwords, and then there are buzzwords. I am a member of the current Open Space Committee, which has taken more than two years to agree to some minimal corrections and changes to the original Open Space Task Force Report.

May 6

A nick of a name is the name of the game
These days, when politicians buy ideas, opinions and attitudes wholesale from focus groups and poll takers, it's hard to figure out what is genuine. Is an idea something the candidate believes in sincerely because he himself has given deep thought to the subject, or is it something he does because some expert professional told him it will give him two percent more votes? How can a candidate whose only real priority is getting elected know how he feels on gun control, abortion, etc. before he's checked out how voters feel on the same? Often what he really wants so bad he can taste it is the power and perks of the office. He'll take potluck with whatever issues will get him there. Also he needs to know if he should display himself as a pompous J. Pierpont Morgan type person, or are you more likely to vote for good old Jack Morgan?

May 13

I'm proud to be part of "the media" today
I dropped in on an ad hoc meeting of the MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District the other evening in Half Moon Bay. They can't have official meetings outside district boundaries, so only a minority of the board was present, along with the p.r. man and a couple of other staffers, including district lawyer Sue Schectman of Pacifica.

June 3

Teach some geography without leaving town
I was supposed to be teaching some fourth and fifth graders at Fairmont School a bit of Pacifica history the other day. I enjoyed it. I hope they did, though I can't be sure if I did anything more than bore them stiff. I think I learned more than the kids. For one thing, the visit increased my admiration for teachers a good deal. I was there for an hour. They are there for the kids every day.

June 10

Does Pacifica subsidize our neighbors?
Is Pacifica really a subsidized city, as Chris Hunter stated in last week's editorial? Well, perhaps, but only if you pretend Pacifica is like a has-been actress living out her life on memories and handouts in some actors-union retirement home.

June 24

Exuberance, Enthusiasm and Pacifica
The Castle in Sharp Park, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, Simon Rodia's towers in Watts, the famous palace of Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, the carpenter's gothic redwood Victorians in San Francisco, Ferndale and Eureka, and the great cathedrals of Europe all have a few things in common.

July 1

The PTA and the bar crowd: both part of history
The history of a city is a conglomeration of the individual histories of a lot of people, and of the many organizations they form. Some of those organizations are long lasting. Some are ephemeral, like puddles in a backyard after a rain. If you've lived in Pacifica for very long, chances are you've joined a number of organizations. You made new friends. You've helped your children grow and learn.

July 8

Two and three-eighths cheers for the ACLU
Democracy is a difficult way of life. You have to put up with so many people you disagree with. Of course they have to put up with you. For example, every time I write a column criticizing the NRA and favoring gun control...

July 22

May I help you, sir?
This is addressed only to readers under 30, for reasons that will be obvious to readers over 50. These are business ideas I pass on free of charge for those sufficiently energetic and dedicated to try them out.

July 29

Meet me at the corner of Pepper Spray st. and Constitution blvd.
Susan Macauley, head bloody but unbowed, feels I have "rebuked" her for her opinions on the ACLU. She was, in fact, so busy feeling rebuked that she made no comment on the fact, and perhaps didn't even notice I agreed wholeheartedly with her main point.

August 5

Help wanted. Poor pay. Long hours. Frustrations guaranteed.
The city of Pacifica needs several busy persons, preferably under 40, to run for city council. They must be willing to serve diligently if elected, and equally willing to lose gracefully if they're not chosen.

August 12

A few thoughts about Herb, and Budd, and Playland at the Beach.
"Who was this guy Herb Caen?" said the young man seated across the aisle on the train. He had just left San Francisco and was heading for Salt Lake City. He'd been traveling on the American equivalent of a Eurail pass, starting from his hometown of Toronto, Canada. In San Francisco he'd seen Herb Caen Way and other memories of a writer who left so very many memories behind when he died of lung cancer those short months ago.

August 19

A train ride to remember, and houses to forget
When Lydia and I took AMTRAK to Glenwood Springs, Colorado in late July, it was in many ways a new experience. Like getting through the airport, getting to the train can be a nerve-rattling experience. First you have to be driven to the Amtrak waiting room at the Ferry building.

August 26

Whither the weather? No one can figure!
I've been fascinated lately with the possibility Lake Bonneville might return some day soon. It's happened before. It might happen again. If you know any Mormons, especially any who live in the part of Utah near Salt Lake City, you might be especially concerned.

September 9

Getting older? Climb a rope, dance a jig
Those of us who were born between 1900 and the early 1930's have a couple of things in common. We can no longer run a four minute mile, even if our name is Roger Bannister, and we have more trouble dealing with bureaucracies than those in their thirties, whose wits have been sharpened by an uninterrupted lifetime of voice mail and other such insults to the psyche.

September 16

A startling statistic
Full male nudity is a longstanding tradition in what is now Pacifica. Since human beings started living in what is now Pacifica, more than 95% of the men living here at any one time have gone naked in public more than 95% of the time.

September 23

Why does the Ocean Shore RR owe taxes?
One of the fun things about doing a column: people ask questions, assuming I might know answers. Sometimes I know. Even when I don't, trivia's fun. These came drifting in through the E-mail transom from some very nice people.

September 30

Turn it over. You'll learn more
Harry Golden, the wise Jewish philosopher and writer who once published the Carolina Israelite, found it more interesting to read the wrong side of an old newspaper clipping than the side for which it had been saved. I agree. I recently found a page from a 1951 Santa Rosa Press Democrat, saved by my mother.

October 7

A vote for Ed, but not for Bugsy!
One of my classmates in grade school was a member of the Pomo tribe of native Americans. His name was Ed Johnson. His grandfather would drop in often to visit Sonoma County's state senator, Herbert Slater, in his office at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

October 14

Water, water everywhere
"With enough time, money and skill I can do anything", somebody once said. The unspoken corollary: is it worth taking the time, the effort needed to achieve the skill and especially the money needed to accomplish the goal involved? Quite often the answer is no.

November 4

Exploring the frontiers of open space
When the Catholic Church declares someone a saint, there's generally a substantial cheering section for the newly honored church hero, as there will be when Mother Teresa of Calcutta is canonized, 10, 50, or 100 years from now.

November 11

The bigger they are...
When I was growing up, the black walnut tree in our back yard gave us shade. It gave us a place to climb, and get indelible stains on our clothes. It was where my brother built a tree house.

November 18

Your role in the polls
If you want to know how important a vote is, look at Menlo Park where the latest election for the City Council has come down to a single vote. Actually three candidates are so close any of them could win the recount.

November 25

No surprises. Gray, Cruz and Michela beat Dan, Tim and Bill in Pacifica
It's no surprise the next governor of California got 9656 votes in Pacifica to the Republican candidate's 3064. Pacifica is a Democratic city. Even so, a 72 percent to 23 percent difference is worth crowing about, if you are a Democrat, and I am.

December 2

The Reactor's stamp of approval
A woman named Mary Armstrong has redeemed my faith in the post office, after it was tested not long ago.

December 16

Forks in the road of life
Sometimes we make decisions that affect not only our lives, but our children's. My wife Lydia did that in the mid-seventies, because she couldn't figure out how to be more than one person at a time.

December 23

Historical errata and such
As we close out 1998, it's time to correct a few historical errors which continue to flow out over the Internet via the Pacifica Internet Cafe. I have tried to have some of these corrected in the past, but that hasn't worked. Please correct your records, so that future historians, young and old, will not be misled.

December 30

This Millennium's second to last Artichoke Awards
Once again it's time for the annual artichoke awards, those "only in Pacifica" honors or "honors?", depending on whether they are golden or purple 'chokes. It's year 18 for this award-giving event.

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