2000 Archive

December 27

Tulagi ootlah neegeed indeed While the worst thing Europeans ever did to the indigenous peoples of the Americas was simply to walk among them while infected with diseases which originated with Eurasian cattle, Smallpox especially, they also did a lot of deliberate damage that's hard to accept or forgive. 

December 20

A ticket for the inaugural... of the mayor? Lydia and I were looking forward the other Monday evening to seeing Jim Vreeland become Pacifica's new Mayor, but we didn't expect that the city would charge us $16 for the privilege. We arrived at 6:30, ahead of almost everybody except for council watcher Lucy Aliano and the diligent crew from the former Channel 8, now on Channel 26. 

December 6

It could be worse You may be a frustrated Democrat, as I am. You may be a Republican with a sense of fairness, who thinks that a country has spoken its mind and should be heard when a given presidential candidate is 300,000 votes ahead of the guy who's number two. That, of course, is not happening. GWB has not yet conceded to AG.

November 22

When plowed ground rolled like waves "You go down through the Ocean View district of San Francisco to the first freeway exit after Daly City, where you describe, in effect, a hairpin turn to head north past a McDonald's to a dead end in a local dump. It is called the Daly City Scavenger Company. You leave your car and walk north on a high contour some hundreds of yards through deep grasses until a path to your left takes you down a steep slope a quarter of a mile to the ocean. You double back along the water, south to Mussel Rock."
Thus John McPhee starts his fine book on geology called "Assembling California."

November 15

She was Grace! A name well chosen Grace McCarthy has been one of my favorite people for a long time, since the mid-sixties, in fact. Even so, I'm a late comer to the McCarthy admiration society.

November 8

Just how independent are American Independents? Elections always bring more questions than answers. If only! If only my candidate had alloted his time differently. If only she hadn't misspelled her endorser's names! If only he hadn't given a flip answer to that question. If Mickey, Minnie and Goofy were counted each time they're written in, would they ever wind up serving in some office?

November 1

Super majorities revisited Some state propositions are no-brainers. Prop. 39, for example. After reading several criticisms of the proposition, which would lower the votes needed to win bond elections from two-thirds to 55 percent, I still need an explanation from the critics.

October 25

I regret to report I'm voting No on 38, the vouchers thing As I've mentioned in this space before, I strongly favor school vouchers in principle. All California students without exception deserve a helping hand from government to pay for their educations. Whether a given student wishes to go to public school, private school or a religiously focused school, the state should pay for his or her education.

October 18

When were you last in Golden Gate Park? Jeri Flinn's letter to the editor states Mori's Point might have been sold for something other than a conference center/destination hotel. She's right, of course. My hypothetical millions in taxes and transient occupancy fees for the city in future decades might not have happened.

October 11

Can you name the candidates? Here's an election trivia quiz for you. If you like, dig out a sheet or two of paper, and write out your answers. (1) Complete the following presidential and VP hopeful first names with the right last names and their political parties.

October 4

The Mori Point Argument Dear readers: please excuse the following, which is an attempt to reply to an e mail missive I received following last week's column criticizing the purchase of Mori's Point by the Trust For Public Lands.

September 13

I'm still not sure about Prop. 38 I'm for vouchers in principle, because vouchers allow any parent the same right to choose the manner in which his child is educated the rich take for granted. Vouchers can allow parents freer choice. Don't be misled by red herrings.

September 6

In two months, we'll start the 2004 campaign Soon our long ordeal will be over. The pain, the cost, the divisiveness, brother fighting against brother will soon be behind us. In only two months, on November 7, it will be finished, for better or for worse. I refer, of course, not to our great civil war, but to our latest presidential campaign, a campaign which has stretched out so interminably, longer than many of our wars.

August 30

"Manteca Joe" and the Red Legged Frog It's my understanding the Red Legged Frog was the creature celebrated by Mark Twain in the "Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." Which means the Red Legged Frog is rather widespread, thriving at least as far away as the Sierra foothills. It's fine if we have more of them, but it's unlikely to become instinct if there should be fewer in Pacifica.

August 23

A few memories of bars, keys, and broom closets It's been almost a quarter century since I last heard Ralph Barkey's cheerful whistle as he came in the door of the Tribune. That whistle was his trademark. So was his Mnemonic description of his name: "Like a bar with a key, spelled the same way."

August 16

A few more words on smoking I'm resisting the temptation to remain silent after reading Lori Pearson's letter in last week's Tribune. I'm sure most of those who read it dismissed it for what it was, the comments of a smoker in full denial mode.

August 9

Found money revisited I suspected one of my recent columns would get a lot of reaction. It did. Any time I can help folks locate some of their own money when they didn't know it existed, I guess I should expect some response. Sure enough I got it, via e mail, etc.

August 2

About moments in time A quote from last week's front page: "new Pacifica resident Page Chung said she and her husband had moved to the coast recently and had fallen in love with Pacifica. 'We love the ridge and city and the small town feeling' she said. 'We don't want it to change.'"

July 26

Does the state owe you some money? The Internet has made a lot of things accessible that used to be too impractical to bother learning. One example is the weather on Alaska's north slope. You never used to be able to learn the current predictions for Prudhoe Bay, Barrow and Deadhorse. Now you can punch in and learn how the wind chill is affecting the polar bears in a matter of minutes. Earlier this month there were snow flurries.

July 19

49 years and counting Today is a special anniversary for me, one I was reminded of by Roger Spindler's letter in last week's Tribune. Roger lamented his "forgotten war", the one in Korea that started in 1950. It was called a "Police Action", and it had the support of the United Nations, primarily because the Soviet Union missed out on using its veto.

July 12

Pacifica's oldest gas station? When the Pacifica Historical Society explored the history of local gas stations at its quarterly meeting recently, it wasn't the rousing success we hoped for. Several of the leading characters were missing, due to a combination of circumstances. The Nannini family (Dave and Lou's) had conflicting engagements. Other participants in our gas station history have died or retired out of town. Others were accidentally overlooked.

July 5

New York! Not an ideal city yet In spite of Rudolph the Wonder Mayor, who is himself coming apart at the seams, New York is still seriously dysfunctional as a city these days. That Mayor Giuliani gets so much credit for improving the city only shows how bad it must have been just a few years ago, before his tender concern. Before my recent visit, I hadn't been in New York City since my army days. That was some time ago.

June 28

Times change. So do gas stations It's easy to take gas stations for granted. We visit them often. We may just look for the cheapest price and ignore the differences that are much more important.
Pacifica today has only 10 service stations: three Shell, two Texaco, two Union, two Chevron's and a Beacon. One of the Texaco stations, Dave and Lou's, can trace its history back to 1956. It's been through several brands and a move across the street, but it's still within the same family, a record that can't be matched in Pacifica and probably not most places.

June 21

Some local history reviewed for accuracy If you've downloaded the history of Pacifica as presented on the Internet, dump it in your computer's trash.
The Internet is fantastic. In only a few minutes you can learn more that ain't so than you could learn from any other source. Whoever wrote the Internet presentation of the history of Pacifica didn't check their facts as carefully as needed.

May 31

Never give up! Never surrender! About the time I would normally have been reading Nick Leone's critical letter disagreeing with some portions of my May third column on libraries, I was walking between the stone lions that flank the entrance to the New York Public Library. It's appropriate their nicknames are "Patience" and "Fortitude." They ignore completely the constant flock of pigeons parking on their backs.

May 24

Be trustful! Be civil! Be ever vigilant! I returned, last Thursday, from out of town to read of a majority of the LS School District Board and member Judy Metcalf clashing again. Like my wife's distant cousin Will Rogers, all I know is what I read in the papers, the Tribune in this case. I'm aware Judy Metcalf can be just as soft and gentle as an annoyed porcupine, but she's on the right side this time.

May 17

Memories of bars, keys, and broom closets It's been almost a quarter century since I last heard Ralph Barkey's cheerful whistle as he came in the door of the Tribune. That whistle was his trademark. So was his Mnemonic description of his name: "Like a bar with a key, spelled the same way."

May 10

Pacifica to Monterey! Via Oakland? The most serious problem with public transportation is no one who can avoid it wants to use it. Some don't drive. Some can't drive. Most who have a choice prefer to drive.

May 3

Avoid ignorance. Seek knowledge. Visit the library I've found taking things for granted saves a lot of time. Still, as an old boss often told me, "Never assume a thing." He usually said that just after I'd made one assumption too many.

April 26

Let us return to those boring days of yesteryear,
before cable TV
It was in the mid-1960's. There was no cable TV in Pacifica, with the exception of a rather informal system strung along a few back fences in parts of Linda Mar by a local man in the forlorn hope of cutting down on ghosts and improving reception from lousy to mediocre.

April 19

Happy Birthday, Sharp Park Last Sunday, April 16 was the 68th anniversary of the opening of the local golf course. It was April 16, 1932 that 400 golfers first made the rounds of the Bay Area's newest links. The course had been in the works for three years.

April 12

It's time to play the license plate game. For a little coastal city, we get a lot of out-of-staters visiting and passing through. In fact, it was over 20 years ago that I started a little game that taught me quite a lesson about those good folk from across the nation and the world who spend time with us.

April 5

Edges that define our lives Pacifica is an exciting place to live. The reason? Edges! We live on the edge of everything. We live at the edge of the sea. The edge of our city and the edge of the ocean form a common boundary, a place of transition. As we leave Pacifica going west, there is a whole different world. The surfers use its near surfaces, but some people live their whole lives in Pacifica without exploring in the least the world whose edges are next door.

March 29

Teens, jobs, video games and the law After news stories broke recently about some young people in Colorado ski towns violating child labor law by bagging groceries, I realized an ambitious teen who wants to earn a little money these days has to be very creative, not to mention devious and perhaps a bit illegal.

March 22

A quarter century reacting to Pacifica One column at a time, most weeks of the year, this piece has appeared since March 1975, when Bill Drake suggested I might like to try my hand at column writing. While my wife is the mathematician of the family, by my reckoning that makes a full quarter of a century The Reactor has appeared in the Tribune.

March 15

An election to be proud of Rarely have I been prouder of Pacifica than I was after I reviewed our election results, in some cases precinct by precinct.
On 16 of 20 state propositions, Pacifica voted, in my judgment, wisely and well.

March 8

A Reactor column, five years late Attorney Israel Sanft, a P B & R Commissioner, and a recent Rotary Club speaker, dropped a quiet bombshell on a recent Tuesday morning. He noted casually that perhaps 90 per cent of Pacifica's Monterey Pines will die over the next decade. That is big news, especially if the weakened tree blows over in a high wind and takes your house with it. It wasn't news to me. I'd prepared the following column on the subject for Feb. 1995, but for several reasons, it never ran. After his comment, it seems appropriate to run it now, slightly edited..

February 23

Are you ready to ramble? If you're anywhere near my age, from time to time you've been reminded you're mortal. One particularly pointed occasion was the day I opened page two of the Tribune and found five obits, each about someone my age or younger.

February 16

One man's opinions on the 20 state propositions My personal assessments of the state propositions to be voted on March 7 follow. They were made in consultation with no one else, not even my wife. It goes without saying that what you see here is not necessarily the opinion of this newspaper.

February 9

People, the heart of our city There are so many people who've been an important part of the history of what's now Pacifica, contributed to our progress, gave of themselves, lived here for the better part of a lifetime, then, for whatever reason, moved on. Sometimes they retired in less expensive venues. For some, they preferred locations where they could hunt, fish and hike. Sometimes, they died.

February 2

Is this the election you want to re-register for? Odds are you're not a member of the Green Party, or the Libertarian Party, or another of the smaller political parties like the Natural Law Party, whatever that is. You may also be a nonpartisan kind of person, the kind sometimes known as "declines to state."

January 26

Cheap hydrogen! Will it be invented in Pacifica? There's a lot of hand wringing from various quarters about population increases in the future. I don't dismiss such concern cavalierly, but we should realize what the problem is. There's plenty of space in the United States, enough for a billion people to live comfortably and leave room for parks, open space and nature. Drive Highway 50 through Nevada if you don't believe that. The real shortage in Nevada and the rest of the U.S. is not space, but water, and not water, but energy.

January 19

Senior experience sharing revisited The editor was kind enough to put a note at the tail end of this column last week. I had mentioned the value of older people in the classroom. He pointed out some ways volunteers, including the elderly, can help our school systems. I believe in volunteers, for many areas of life, and I believe in volunteering. I've been a volunteer for years. I was even a volunteer when I joined the army, though I wouldn't necessarily recommend that particular endeavor to others.

January 12

Recruit seniors to teach Junior Eugene Gibson, whose letter to the editor argues in favor of continuing a two-thirds vote requirement to pass a tax, nevertheless misses two other important ways to insure that property owners aren't "unfairly taxed."
(1) allow only landowners, to vote, and/or
(2) Require that passing votes on all bond issues must be unanimous, or three-fourths, or seven-eighths, or 90 percent.

January 5

The last Artichoke Awards before 2001Our area used to be world famous for artichokes, which require our kind of cool, even climate to thrive. In their honor, this is the 19th year I've handed out something called the Artichoke Awards, representing a partial list of Pacificans and others who deserve a compliment (a Golden Artichoke) or to "honor" some with a Purple Artichoke, a vegetable less than tasty and somewhat past it.

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