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Recurring Columns

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: EARTHQUAKES, NOT MY FAULT!

April 14, 2013 (San Diego) – Let’s Rock! The month of April is declared “Earthquake Preparedness Month” by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services according to Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. We are “way” over-due for an earthquake. This week we’ll focus on general earthquake safety and next week we’ll review earthquake preparedness at work.  Now is the time to prepare, not afterwards says Chief DiGiovanna!

EARTHTALK®: GLOBAL WARMING SOLUTIONS

April 14, 2013 (San Diego) – Dear EarthTalk: What would you say are the most important steps we need to take as a nation to counter the impacts of climate change?

- Ned Parkinson, Chino, CA

Americans care more about the environment than ever before and the overwhelming majority of us acknowledges that climate change is real and human-induced. But still we continue to consume many more resources per capita than any other nation and refuse to take strong policy action to stave off global warming—even though we have the power to do so.

EARTHTALK®: AVOIDING ENVIRONMENTAL CANCER TRIGGERS

April 14, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: I know that some of us are genetically predisposed to get cancer, but what are some ways we can avoid known environmental triggers for it?

- B. Northrup, Westport, MA

Cancer remains the scourge of the American health care system, given that four out of every 10 of us will be diagnosed with one form or another during out lifetime. Some of us are genetically predisposed toward certain types of cancers, but there is much we can do to avoid exposure to carcinogens in our environment.

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS: THE INTERBLOB

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

April 14, 2013 (San Diego) -- I recently started a new job in downtown San Diego, and that means for the last three weeks I’ve been witnessing the slow death of an old friend. No, I don’t mean a human being. I’m referring to the huge building in front of Horton Plaza that used to house San Diego’s outlet of the long-defunct Planet Hollywood restaurant chain and, more importantly to my point of view, the Sam Goody’s record, video, electronics and entertainment store. It’s being torn down to make way for a so-called “expansion” of Horton Plaza Park that, judging from the artists’ renderings of what it’s supposed to look like, is a typical San Diego public project: spectacularly ugly, offering no continuity with the original park and looking more like an industrial park’s patio than a community gathering center. But that’s another story.

GOOD MONEY: TAX LOWERING INVESTMENT IDEAS FOR 2013

“Your guide to financial planning & socially responsible investing”

By Judith L. Seid, CFP ®, President, Blue Summit Wealth Management

April 11, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) --The “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012” has created a number of changes that may impact your taxes in 2013. Below are a few investment ideas that may help mitigate your tax liability and/or increase your net income for 2013.

Keep in mind that you should always consult with your tax professional for specific questions regarding your particular tax circumstances.

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS COLUMN: MARRYING YOUR GAY FIRST COUSIN?

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

April 7, 2013 (San Diego)--On March 26 and 27, the U.S. Supreme Court heard two major cases over whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

On March 26 they heard arguments on whether Proposition 8, which California voters passed in November 2008 to short-circuit the ruling of the California Supreme Court that the state’s constitution did not allow it to deny marriage to same-sex couples, is unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The next day they heard the case of Edith Windsor, who legally married her long-term partner, Thea Spyer, in Canada in 2007, then got socked with a federal estate tax bill of $367,000 because the federal government didn’t recognize her marriage under the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DoMA) passed by Congress in 1996.

The two cases rest on somewhat different legal issues, and it’s quite possible the court could throw out Proposition 8 and uphold DoMA — or vice versa — but the underlying issues are the same.

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS: THE PEOPLE'S POPE?

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

April 11, 2013 (San Diego) – I can remember the first time I experienced a Papal conclave. No, it wasn’t a real one; it was the one depicted in the 1969 film The Shoes of the Fisherman. It’s about a Ukrainian archbishop, Kiril (Anthony Quinn), who was tortured in the Gulag, gets summoned to Rome, is made a cardinal and suddenly finds himself in the middle of a conclave when the Pope who appointed him dies. The conclave deadlocks and Kiril is elected Pope as a compromise candidate, then uses his new-found powers to mediate an end to the Cold War and ward off a military threat to the West from China. It was based on a novel by Morris L. West, a potboiler author of religious books, and though it wasn’t much as a movie I found the depiction of the rituals of the conclave absolutely stunning — particularly the repeated puffs of black smoke signaling that the cardinals hadn’t yet reached the two-thirds majority for picking a Pope.

THE CAREGIVER'S JOURNEY: YOU NEED TO GIVE IT A REST

By Marsha Kay Seff

April 1, 2013 (San Diego)--Caring for your parents is tough enough under any circumstances.  Without a good night’s sleep, caregiving is an almost impossible task. 

Being sleep-deprived not only drains energy but can drastically affect your health, mood and daily functioning.  Adequate rest is vital to being able to handle your life, your family’s and your parents’.

Doctors say there are several things you can do to improve your sleep. Tell that to my “sleep center,” which never worked very well and went on permanent disability while I was caring for my parents. 

MASGOOF AT NAHRAIN: THE AFFORDABLE FEAST

 

 

East County Eater's Restaurant Review

Nahrain Fish & Chicken Grill (Facebook: NahrainFish&ChickenGrill)

1183 E. Main Street, #A, El Cajon, CA 92021 (619)334-3222

March 29, 2013 (El Cajon )—Masgoof—fish smoked whole in a clay oven with wood fire, Iraqi-style--at Nahrain Fish & Chicken Grill in El Cajon  is the freshest you’ll find in East County.  Choose from fish caught daily displayed in a glass case, or at times, take the opportunity to catch your own with a fishing net in a tiled pool inside this eatery, which is popular with  both Middle Eastern and Western customers.

My dining companion and I savor a whole red snapper that is tender and juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside with a paper thin skin and a delightful smoked wood flavor.  It is served with a mango sauce (amba) that is balanced, sweet and spicy, along with onions, tomatoes, lemon parsley and freshly baked tanoor bread.

FREQUENCY FILM FESTIVAL 2013: MEMORY OF THE DEAD

Screens Friday, April 5 at 10:00 p.m. at the Ocean Beach Playhouse as part of the first Frequency Film Festival.

By Brian Lafferty

March 22, 2013 (San Diego) – Two weeks ago, Sam Raimi's Oz the Great and Powerful was released.  Memory of the Dead - which screens on Friday, April 5 as part of the new Frequency Film Festival - is a film that owes much to Raimi's not so family-friendly work.  It balances both camp and fright with scattered, but effective, jump scares and lots of blood.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: KIND HEARTS AND EXORCISTS (BEYOND THE HILLS)

By Brian Lafferty

March 19, 2013 (San Diego) – Despite the many perpetual controversies surrounding the Catholic Church, Islam, Scientology, and other religions, I am not opposed to organized religion.  In fact, religion as a whole fascinates me.  I have a lot of family and very good friends (some of them practically family) who have found peace, happiness, and spiritual and mental well-being from it.  Religion has been a major part of the human race, and it’s had an effect on world history, philosophy, literature, art, and everything else.  That’s why, as part of my overall plan to improve myself as a person through self-education about the aforementioned subjects and more, I’ve had a desire to learn about the various religions practiced in the world. 

MEDIA WATCH: OPPOSE PROPAGANDISTS AS MEDIA OWNERS; SIGN A PETITION ASKING THE L.A. TIMES NOT TO SELL TO THE KOCH BROTHERS

Sign petition:  http://act.couragecampaign.org/sign/latimeskoch/#1

By Miriam Raftery

March 18, 2013 (San Diego) – For weeks, rumors have abounded that the respected Los Angeles Times newspaper and its parent Tribune Company may sell to would-be buyers whose goal is not journalism, but propaganda. On March 17, U-T San Diego owner Doug Manchester told MSNBC news that the billionaire Koch Brothers, major financial backers of the TEA Party, are interested in buying the Times empire, which includes the Chicago Tribune as well as the L.A. Times

BIRD TALK: BULLOCK’S ORIOLE

 

By Greg Dunne

March 16, 2013 (Lake Murray) -- Spring has sprung, warm weather is here and the wild Ramona Lilac is in bloom all over the hills in the East County. It is the time of year to keep a keen eye open for the Oriole. These birds winter in Mexico and then start to come north as the days get longer. In my experience, March and April have always been the best time to observe these beautiful, bright yellow-orange birds with sharp contrasting black on the back, throat and top of the head.

EARTHTALK®: FOOD SCARCITY

March 17, 2013 (San Diego) – Dear EarthTalk: What are the main drivers of food scarcity that lead to so much starvation around the world, and how can they be addressed?                          

-- Marjorie Millerton, Provo, UT

Food scarcity is a bigger problem than ever as human population numbers continue to swell, putting additional stress on already fragile food production and distribution systems. And it’s not just happening in far away places: A recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that the number of U.S. homes “lacking food security” rose from 4.7 million to 6.7 million in just the last five years.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: AVOIDING PROBATE, PLUS SUMMARY DISSOLUTION

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

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

March 16, 2013 (San Diego County) – Probate is a legal proceeding whereby the court ensures the decedent's assets are collected, creditors paid and the remaining assets distributed pursuant to the terms of the decedent's will. If the decedent died without a will (intestate), the estate assets will be distributed pursuant to the California law of intestate succession.

EARTHTALK®: ATTRACTING BEES AND BUTTERFLIES TO YOUR GARDEN

March 16, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: I’d like to have a garden that encourages bees and butterflies. What’s the best approach?                                                              

-- Robert Miller, Bakersfield, CA

Attracting bees and butterflies to a garden is a noble pursuit indeed, given that we all depend on these species and others (beetles, wasps, flies, hummingbirds, etc.) to pollinate the plants that provide us with so much of our food, shelter and other necessities of life. In fact, increased awareness of the essential role pollinators play in ecosystem maintenance—along with news about rapid declines in bee populations—have led to a proliferation of backyard “pollinator gardens” across the U.S. and beyond.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: HOOKED (LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE)

By Brian Lafferty

March 15, 2013 (San Diego) – There are hookers with hearts of gold.  In Like Someone in Love, Akiko (Rin Takanashi) is no such character.  She’s a hooker with a heavy heart.  She works in Tokyo and is engaged to the abusive, controlling, and emotionally abusive Noriaki (Ryo Kase).  Her boss asks her to visit an old widower friend of his, Watanabe (Tadashi Okuno).  The next 48 hours the two spend with each other are life-changing for everyone involved.

HOMEOWNER'S GURU: MORTGAGE MODIFICATION SCAMS

 

By E. Vernon Small

March 12, 2013 (San Diego) – If you are a struggling homeowner, you have undoubtedly been approached by companies that claim they will reduce your mortgage payments and/or your mortgage balance by negotiating a ‘loan modification’ with your current mortgage lender.  All of these companies claim to be reputable and licensed, and many even operate as attorneys.  They typically charge $1500 or more to handle this process, and most offer payment plans.

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS COLUMN: THE PREGNANCY POLICE

 

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

March 11, 2013 ( San Diego)--The 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which established a woman’s constitutional right to safe and legal abortion, passed last January 15 with a lot of crowing — from the anti-choice side. Time magazine ran a cover story that announced that advocates for women’s right to reproductive choice won a big victory with Roe v. Wade — “and they’ve been losing ever since.” Over those 40 years, the Supreme Court has moved farther and farther Right and given states leeway to create more and more so-called “reasonable restrictions” on women’s right to choose. A continued campaign of terrorism — there’s no other word for it — against abortion providers has intimidated doctors, nurses and clinic staff and forced women who want abortions to get them in conditions which resemble maximum-security prisons.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN (OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL)

By Brian Lafferty

March 9, 2013 (San Diego) – When Sam Raimi is at the helm, look out!  His films bristle with energy.  Lots of it.  This trademark began with his first film, The Evil Dead.  Even though it was made on a shoestring budget, its brisk editing, overpowering scares, and elaborate make-up and gross-out special effects made it simultaneously freaky and exhausting. 

DREAM DOGS: LOOKING FOR A FOREVER HOME

 

March 8, 2013 (Blossom Valley)--This one-year-old, female 10 lb tiny Schnoodle (Schnauzer/ Poodle) loves to follow us around our large acreage. She bonds very closely and strives to stay with her family, and loves to play when she is not being cuddled. She shows us that she is friendly with all dogs, and people of all ages.  She is trustworthy if left outside alone, and will stay with our small pack of dogs.

If you are interested in this little princess please email me the life you can give to her including the amount of hours she will be alone while you are at work, and the family members she will have.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: PRESCRIPTION FOR PERSECUTION (BARBARA)

March 8, 2013 (San Diego) – Freedom of speech, protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, due process, and freedom of travel are just a smattering of the many rights the United States affords to its people.  

One needn’t be overly familiar with 20th century world history to see how movies like Barbara serve as a reminder of how easy it is for Americans (admittedly myself included) to take for granted these freedoms.  From 1961 to about 1990, the Berlin Wall separated the free, democratic West Germany from the communist, police state East Germany.  East Germans faced police harassment, were spied and informed on to the government, and were for the most part forbidden from leaving the country. 

THE CAREGIVERS’ JOURNEY: A LONG AND WINDING PATH

 

By Marsha Kay Seff

March 1, 2013 (San Diego) -- Becoming your parents’ parent conjures up pictures of “tangled apron strings.”

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 and 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.  At the same time, you’re pulled between the demands of your own family and the need to help your parents.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: HEALTHY EATING

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

How do you keep firefighters and paramedics out of your home?

February 25, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) -- No joke here… You can start by taking care of yourself and eating right! That’s right says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna, your local firefighters and paramedics respond to thousands of medical related calls each year (approx 75% are medical related calls). This Friday is March 1st and March is National Nutrition Month!

BIRD TALK: THE CATUS WREN

 

By Greg Dunne

February 21, 2013 (Lake Jennings) --   Many birds call both California and Arizona their home.  Although our state bird, the California Quail, crosses over into other states, it does not cross over to our neighbor to the east in Arizona.  However, the Arizona state bird, the Cactus Wren also calls our East County its home.

The Cactus Wren can be found here occasionally in Southern California. This particular Cactus Wren I photographed at Lake Jennings. It was having a good time making itself known; its loud alarm call “tek-tek-tek-tek” as it gets louder and louder towards the end.  It seems to me that wrens can throw their voices. This would make sense because wrens will try to distract you from their nest by making themselves heard as they move farther and farther from the nest.

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS: NO MORE RECESS APPOINTMENTS

One More Way the Republican Minority Continues to Run the Country

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

February 22, 2013 (San Diego) -- Just four days after President Obama was sworn in for his second term, a Right-wing federal appeals judge gave the Republican Senate minority new powers to take over the country and shoot down whole government departments whose missions or policies displease them. Judge David Sentelle, one of the most powerful people you’ve never heard of, and two of his colleagues on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a sweeping ruling on January 25 that effectively ended the ability of a President to make so-called “recess appointments” to government departments that require Senate confirmation.

FROM THE CHIEF’S CORNER: PREVENT DRYER FIRES

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna       

February 20, 2013 (San Diego’s East County)--Who would think that the danger exists in doing such a daily household chore such as laundry? Recent incidents across the country point to the dangers of dryer fires. In fact, on average, over 13,000 fires start in our laundry rooms in the United States each year, resulting in deaths and close to $10 million in property damage says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Nearly 4,000 of these fires arise from lint buildup and overheated motors that occur when people fail to clean their dryer vents. The following advice can help you prevent a disaster.

MEDIA WATCH: KNSJ HOSTS SCREENING SATURDAY OF DOCUMENTARY ON LOCAL MEDIA CONSOLIDATION IMPACTS

February 21, 2013 (San Diego) – KNSJ, the new radio station soon to begin broadcasting from East County,  announced last night that it has purchased a transmitter and now is raising funds to cover station operations. 

On Saturday, February 23 at 6:30 p.m.  a benefit film showing of the documentary Save KLSD: Media consolidation and local radio will be shown at the Joyce Beers Community Center  in Hillcrest. Organizers promise “film, food and fun.” A  panel discussion will follow.

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.

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