It’s A Puzzle

Hey, what’s up with this week’s puzzle (September 11)? You guys printed the answer for this week’s and not last week’s. Although I don’t submit a puzzle, I still enjoy them, and you can imagine how surprised I was to see the spoiler. Will next week have last week’s answers?

Anita Orozco
via email

Solutions to the September 4 and 11 puzzles are provided this week. — Editor

Bag Plague Delays

In response to your excellent article on plastic bags (“Plague of the Urban Tumbleweeds,” Cover Story, September 11), do not waste your time trying to get the City to ban the bags or initiate a recycling program.

From long and personal experience, the city council and our ostensibly strong mayor are not interested in doing anything except raise their own pensions. The delays which you’ve seen with bag banning, under the guise of needing more information or having to hear from all sides, is just emblematic of the stalling tactic that is the hallmark of city hall. They will delay most matters long enough until the public tires of waiting or dies.

A few examples: my wife and I have been averaging about $2 per month on the water we actually use but continue to pay about $40 for all the fees and charges. There’s no incentive to conserve. Add to that the heavy users who refused to pay their bills because they were too high. So the City negotiated a reduced charge, which, incidentally, was not offered to the homeowner. If there’s no incentive to conserve water (or any other utility), there’s no incentive to recycle.

How long has the seal debate been going on in La Jolla? Twenty new generations of seals have come and gone since this issue surfaced. Because there’s nothing in it for the city council, there’s no incentive to settle the issue either way. After years of debate, the State, the environmentalists, the ocean folks, the kiddies, the courts, and the City have all had enough time to make their points over and over again. Still, there’s no agreement and no solution that could possibly satisfy anyone.

How long have we been discussing the Chargers? Will they go; will they stay? Who cares? By the time that debate is settled (again, either way), football may be replaced with tiddledywinks.

What about the De Anza Cove issue? That’s been around since 1965. The State mandated that the mobile home park would revert to a public park when all the residents left, as they had agreed to do under the terms of their lease with the De Anza Corporation (based in Beverly Hills, of all places). Some of the folks are still there, lurking behind fences on a public park!

And the audits? And the pension fiasco? Dare I mention SEDC and CCDC? Do you truly believe these critical issues will ever be solved with justice and equanimity?

I know that the airport is not a City issue, but it is in our communal backyard and is still fomenting debates, decade after decade. Our City is certainly not in the decision business.

Getting rid of plastic and paper bags is a joke. And yet, there was a time before plastic bags when shoppers used their own bags and walked to nearby stores. Now that we’ve built our stores miles from our homes, we must drive and waste as much gas as it now takes to manufacture all those petroleum-based bags. To cite one notable exception: Costco uses cardboard boxes or, with your agreement, will place your purchases directly in the shopping carts.

Okay, here’s another example: Singapore banned chewing gum, and the gum manufacturers of the world did not boycott. An enlightened government saw the problem and did something about it without spending years debating the obvious. (In contrast to this, the Pacific Beach Business Improvement District recently proposed another fee to pay for the removal of gum from the sidewalks. The fee would be unnecessary if P.B. became a gum-free zone.) So, if you’re visiting Singapore, don’t chew. If you’re visiting P.B., watch your step.

Here’s the solution: continue to stuff the recycle bins with plastic bags and let Edco or Allied recyclers deal with the problem of clogged machines. If they get mad enough, they could retaliate by storming city hall to demand a solution, including fixing their machines. They might even bring pressure to bear on the trash-collection folks to stop collecting the city council’s trash. And then, miracle of miracles, if the city council’s trash is not picked up, you will then get their attention and plastic bags will be banned. Poof! End of story.

Alfred C. Strohlein
Crown Point

Burn ’Em

This concerns your cover story in the September 11 issue, “Plague of the Urban Tumbleweeds.” I wish you would not try to get so cute with your computer graphics. On page 25, you have white text on a black background. It hurts the eyes; it’s hard to read. These people with their computer graphics try all this stuff like red print on a pink background, practically drives people blind trying to read it.

Personally, I have always preferred paper sacks at the grocery store. But those plastic bags are useful: I use them to collect trash around the house. Has it ever occurred to anyone that you can burn the things and use them as fuel? I took a couple of these plastic sacks and lit them with matches. Yes, they are inflammable, and yes, they do burn. In fact, when they burn, they smell something like burning candles, and they drop splatters of melted burnt plastic that stick to things like candle grease. In fact, you could probably dump the plastic sacks into a coal-fired furnace, and it wouldn’t gum up things too badly. Why don’t the recyclers just gather them up and burn them for power?

Name Withheld

Headless But Suggestive

I’m looking at your September 4 issue of the Reader with the picture of the headless teenagers (“They Think They’re in Love”), and I’m very concerned about the sexually suggestive pose and dress of the young woman as compared to the unsexually suggestible clothing of the young man. I think that this is atrocious. Any man with tendencies toward young women would probably find this bathroom material, if you understand what I’m talking about. So I think you should rethink the way that you’re portraying young people, even though the article is about their sexual activities or about young love, supposedly.

Roberta McGrath
Santa Cruz

Children Not Thinking

I called the Reader. It’s under Letters, “We’ve Been Warned” (September 11). I wasn’t talking about “They Think They’re in Love”; I was talking about the tourism in Tijuana, death and destruction. But since we’re on the subject of this past week’s cover story of “They Think They’re in Love” (September 11), I think that every parent needs to read that. But what I just couldn’t understand is how the roving reporter would be asking these young teenagers questions like this and how they would answer. But it does make us think about what our children are thinking about and what they are not thinking about. And to the young man who says nothing has happened yet and he’s not protecting himself or herself, it’s just a matter of the next time. And if you think it’s easy raising a child, it’s not. The world is filled with children who don’t have anyplace to go and no one to talk to, because with age comes wisdom. Just because God allows your body to give birth doesn’t make you a parent.

Name Withheld

Gray, Gray, Gray

Hey, John Brizzolara (“T.G.I.F.,” September 11), you should hug trees that aren’t odd too. They all need love.

“This Is Not a Ghetto” is a great article (Feature Story, September 11). I live in a neighborhood that’s old enough that you can paint your house any color you want, and I love that. But even so, people keep painting their houses gray, and I think it’s awful depressing. We get people shot around here, but not as often. My daughter lives in a place with a homeowners’ association, and you have to have either a beige house or a gray house. I was on the street, and there’s nothing but gray cars, black cars, white cars, and the occasional red or yellow. It’s getting so boring.

P.S.: In response to the person who’s younger than me who likes Lawrence Welk (Letters, September 11), I have to apologize. I was a teenager going through a rough spot when I was forced to listen to Lawrence Welk, so I probably have my prejudices there. That person withheld their name — I don’t know why they’re ashamed of liking Lawrence Welk. But I do like PBS; I just don’t like Lawrence Welk.

Dale Anne Thompson

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Plastic bags do burn but emit smoke and toxins, unless the fire's temperature is high. Bags dropped off for recycling are washed, dissolved in solvent (whose emission is controlled, to avoid pollution and waste) and made into new plastic items.

Instead of banning plastic supermarket bags in the city, how about regulations on plastic bags? What about dog and cat poop? What about the convenience of plastic bags and all the uses so many of us have found for plastic bags. What is the trade off? What is forever? Lets get back to reality of life and who we really are. The reality is we are here now and we must live our lives now. In order to do that we need plastic bags. Yes, plastic bags who environmentalists state will never die.

That is Bull my friend, everything in the universe dies in one form or another. Little bits of tiny plastic bits created as time diminishes a plastic bag. That is reality.

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