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    Heading back-to-school makes summer memories even sweeter
    by JENNY WERTH
    Aug 26, 2016 | 2530 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    La Jolla High School cheer coach Cindee Russell and head senior captain Diana Dominguez hug-it-out.
    La Jolla High School cheer coach Cindee Russell and head senior captain Diana Dominguez hug-it-out.
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    Isabella Cohen, 11, has fun feeding the ducks on summer break. Bella enters Muirlands this year.
    Isabella Cohen, 11, has fun feeding the ducks on summer break. Bella enters Muirlands this year.
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    Karen Carlson and her son Nicolas Carlson. Nicolas starts       second grade at La Jolla Elementary this year.
    Karen Carlson and her son Nicolas Carlson. Nicolas starts second grade at La Jolla Elementary this year.
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    As summer vacation draws to a close La Jolla’s kids, tweens and teenagers are collectively enjoying their last few days of freedom. By next Monday, most parents will be back in the school grind. Students and parents from La Jolla Elementary, Muirlands Middle School and La Jolla High School all chime in on their favorite summer activities and thoughts on commencing a new school year. For many parents, back-to-school is a time of year when one can almost hear their neighbor silently counting down the minutes until that first school bell rings. “Summer is wonderful but it’s also a push to keep the kids busy... it’s like they become bored after a few hours! I’m ready for them to go back,” mused Tammy Marcus-Cohen. “I love to have the time with the kids, but it also means I’m ‘on’ full-time; and I already have a job.” Marcus-Cohen’s daughter, Isabella, 11, is transitioning into sixth grade at Muirlands Middle School after spending her elementary school years in Birdrock Elementary. She said she’s not happy in the least about summer coming to an end. “There’s too much homework in school. I do look forward to seeing my friends but I don’t like having six different periods of classes. It’s too much. I like having one class and that’s it.” Many students entering middle school have similar feelings about what will be a new system for them of moving from class to class in middle school. It’s not surprising since they’re accustomed to being taught by one teacher while in one class in elementary school. But, for Isabella, there are still a few days left of summer, and her tone became noticeably cheerier when questions of summer-fun came into play. Like many kids, Isabella enjoyed hanging out with her friends at the beach or the pool. However, her favorite activity this summer was her visit to the Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park resort located in Garden Grove. The waterpark is California’s only indoor water park with over 105,000 square feet of slides, rides and pools. “It was cool because it has really cool slides. There’s this one waterslide that you go inside of in this tube and the person touches the lever and then you go down the slide. It goes straight down and then (starts bending around).” Nicolas Carlson, who made sure it was understood that he was seven-and-a-half years old (not just seven) will be starting second grade at La Jolla Elementary School on Monday. When asked if he was excited to start school again his hand moved emphatically back and forth. “I kind of like school and I kind of like summer... it’s hard to tell which one I like more.” His summer included an assortment of activities and a few trips. “I like visiting my grandparents in Palm Springs. I like it there because they have this nice tram where you can go and look at the top of the mountain and see the whole Palm Spring’s village. It feels like you’re looking up from the heavens to me.” The awe-inspiring ride Nicolas mentioned is the idyllic Palm Springs Aerial Tramway which travels over two-and-one-half miles along Chino Canyon to the Mt. San Jacinto State Park at 8516 feet. But Nicolas also had fun while on solid ground. He said he enjoyed playing soccer at the park and engaging in a sword game called “Hunters” and “Dragon Slayers.” These are games that Nicolas and his buddies made up. Only seven-and-a-half and already creating games which could one day become competition to the fantasy footfall craze. He also had fun in his “favorite summer camp,” the Vacation Bible Study (VBS) held at the La Jolla Presbyterian Church. And here is his advice for kids who may be a bit nervous about starting school up again: “You shouldn’t be scared to be back in school because you get to play and learn a lot of stuff you couldn’t learn in camp unless you take a certain class where all you (do is) just learn and learn and learn.” Sound advice. His mother, Karen Carlson, said she feels it’s “bitter sweet” to see school start and summer end. “It is nice to enjoy a more relaxed pace over the summer and get away for a vacation. But, it is also fun for school to start because there are so many nice families at La Jolla Elementary School as well as the teachers and staff. It is a great community of people. It's always so lovely to see everyone again.” As for La Jolla High School varsity cheerleader team captain, Diana Dominguez, 17, summer found her spending a lot of time practicing with the team. And while the senior captain had a few vacation days visiting family in Guadalajara, Mexico, many of them were cheer-related sprinkled with some bonfires and days at the beach. Diana’s coaches and team members voted for her to be head captain of the team again this year. “It feels good to be leader of the team... I think it shows that your coach recognizes you and sees leadership in you. And it gives you confidence when you’re walking around the halls of school.” Head cheer coach Cindee Russell knows the importance of having a united team that respects what each team member brings to the field. And Russell has put valiant effort into coaching the team again this summer, including joining the team at UCSD’s National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) camp. “I thought the camp was incredibly beneficial for them. It taught the girls a lot, it challenged them and it made them overcome a lot of obstacles they had... they got a lot out of it.” Diana agrees with her coach. “You learn technique, skills and performance abilities in camp. They have actual coaches from the NCA who teach us and have been around for a long time.” All-in-all, Diana confirmed her summer was certainly busy. So, what is she not looking forward to this new school year? “My math class. It isn’t my favorite subject, but I’m looking forward to bonding with my team more and making the best out of it.” Come Monday, Aug. 29, La Jolla will have the familiar view of cars lining the sidewalks as students scurry in and out of school. Traffic will become a challenge and after-school-programs will start. Keep an eye out for students walking and bicycling ... remember, it’s not easy starting up school when the weather beckons one to the beach and even the ocean of Wind’Sea can be watched by students in both Muirlands and La Jolla High School.
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    Thanks Rio! Summer Olympics were spectacular
    by JOSEPH CAPP
    Aug 25, 2016 | 8940 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics. / Photo by Joe Capp
    Opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics. / Photo by Joe Capp
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    Usain Bolt / Photo by Joe Capp
    Usain Bolt / Photo by Joe Capp
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    Brazilian fan enjoys an event. / Photo by Joe Capp
    Brazilian fan enjoys an event. / Photo by Joe Capp
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    Joe Capp looking patriotic.
    Joe Capp looking patriotic.
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    Team USA won the gold in Brazil. / Photo by Joe Capp
    Team USA won the gold in Brazil. / Photo by Joe Capp
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    The 2016 Summer Olympics turned out to be a smashing success – as I promised – and from my perspective, there were three overall winners. The USA The United States won 121 medals, 46 that were gold. Michael Phelps ended his storied career with 28 medals, the most by an Olympic athlete, 23 of which are gold! He easily goes down as the greatest swimmer of all time or as they say, he is the GOAT (greatest of all time!) Katie Ledecky, the 19-year-old phenom, started her career out in a Phelps kind of way, winning four golds and one silver in the five events in which she swam. She set the world record in the 800-meter final winning by a whopping 11 seconds of the second-place finisher, almost the entire length of the pool ahead! If she stays on track, she will grab the same moniker as Phelps in the near future. Another first-time Olympian already being touted as the GOAT is Simone Biles. The 19-year-old gymnast, who at 4 foot 8 inches tall was head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, also competed in five events, winning four golds and a bronze. Her routines were flawless and so difficult that most of her competition did not even attempt to perform them. Finally, in one of the last Olympic events of Rio, this writer’s personal favorite, men’s USA basketball won the gold medal with a commanding 99-66 victory, led by Golden State’s newest team member Kevin Durant and the New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony, all the while with me sitting court side, what a thrill! Brazil The host country, Brazil won a personal record 19 Olympic medals, seven of them gold. More importantly, or even the most significant of all events to have occurred, Brazil won the gold medal in soccer. Brazil is a country built on soccer. They are a people who live and breathe the very essence of the game. A people who went into mourning, an actual collective depression, after being embarrassed on their home soil in the 2014 World Cup against Germany, 7-1. This time they extracted a bit of revenge and took Germany through extended time to end in a 1-1 tie. It then went to a shoot-out. In the shoot-out both teams held side and the score arrived at 4-4 when Brazil’s goalkeeper, Weverton, finally dived and stopped Germany’s fifth and final kick leaving the door open for the Brazilian superstar, Neymar to come on and finish it. He had the last kick and he did not disappoint. He stutter-stepped and then smashed it through with great confidence giving Brazil their first Gold Medal in Olympic history. Beating Germany allowed Brazilians to hold their heads high again after the terrible loss only two years earlier. The Fans Everyone loved Rio. Everyone had a fantastic time and everyone got lucky because last minute tickets, for almost all events, were popping up everywhere and easily obtainable. Great seats sold for less than face value in the secondary market when they were not available on the official Olympic website. People snatched up these extra tickets and attended more events than originally planned. They ventured from a daytime gymnastic or swimming event on one side of town to a nighttime track and field event on the other. The lure of being able to go see a GOAT, like Phelps or Usain Bolt (who completed his triple-triple) for very little money turned out to be hard to pass up. Transportation to and from all the venues was smooth, fast, reliable and safe. The BRT transit, a newly opened extension of the metro service, a new tram and the local trains system got people around the city like clockwork. The new tram runs from the downtown train station though Olympic Boulevard to the local airport of Santos Dumont. Unfortunately, those who relied on taxis or Uber paid the price, automobile traffic stayed snarled for much of the time throughout the city. More than just the events, there was Olympic Boulevard, a once dilapidated area of downtown Rio (Centro) that was raised to make way for the games. City planners installed a beautiful new walking area on the wharf that runs down to the port area, connecting the Museu do Amanhã with the rest of Centro. They repurposed old warehouses to be Olympic-themed entertainment centers. For example, the NBA opened up a large exhibit where people could play games, shoot basketball both in real life for prizes or in virtual reality for fun, see and photograph themselves with the Larry Obrien Trophy and meet current and past NBA Legends. Gary Payton, Glen Rice, Bruce Bowen and even Carmelo Anthony showed up! The exhibit was free to the public and was open every day during the entire Olympics. Coca-Cola, as well as a few other big organizations, converted warehouses for exhibition space. And live music played all day, every day outside in the Praça! Every visitor experienced the friendliness of the Carioca, (the people of Rio) and both they and the city of Rio opened their arms and hearts, showing tremendous hospitality to countless grateful tourists. Admittedly, as a part-time Carioca myself, I may be biased, but I think these Olympic Games may go down in the record books as the best in modern times. We saw two GOATs retire (Phelps and Bolt), no crimes of any significance was reported (except one from a U.S. swimmer that turned out to be a hoax), no delays, problems, confrontations or any athletes getting sick because of the poor water quality. All in all, nothing bad occurred! And, as I predicted in this column months ago, the games turned out to be a huge success.
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    Ocean Beach residents upset as city cuts down Torrey pine
    by MIKE McCARTHY
    Aug 23, 2016 | 7281 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    A tree removal service cuts down the Torrey pine (right) on Saratoga Avenue in Ocean Beach. / Photo by Mike McCarthy
    A tree removal service cuts down the Torrey pine (right) on Saratoga Avenue in Ocean Beach. / Photo by Mike McCarthy
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    Emotions ran high with many Ocean Beach residents after learning that one of the oldest Torrey pines in the community was cut down on Monday, Aug. 22. The large tree on the 4600 block of Saratoga was more than 90 years old and known to many as Esperanza. For several weeks the Torrey pine has been the center of debate between residents of Ocean Beach and the City of San Diego. Many agreed, including the Friends of Peninsula Trees group, that the tree posed a public safety hazard and was not healthy enough to be saved. Neighbors and members of the community, who were for saving the tree, hired an independent arborist. He stated the Torrey pine in question was a "low-risk" to the community. Many residents agreed and felt that with just a little love, and a good trim job, that the problem would be solved.  The majority opinion, among the neighbors on Saratoga Avenue and residents of OB, was that proper ongoing maintenance was needed for this one tree, along with several other old Torrey pines that are still standing on this same block. On Aug. 11, the City of San Diego alerted the Ocean Beach community that the landmark Torrey pine would be removed on Friday, Aug. 12. Local activists quickly joined forces to temporally stop the tree removal by a public protest and sit-in. Many residents were then shocked on the early morning of Aug. 22 to hear chainsaws cutting down one of their favorite Torrey pines. The police had quickly taped off the block to prevent any interference.
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    Adventures with Helene: Travel tips for backpacking on a budget
    by HELENE GERASIMCHUK
    Aug 18, 2016 | 40793 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Helene backpacking on Makalawena Beach, Big Island Hawai'i.
    Helene backpacking on Makalawena Beach, Big Island Hawai'i.
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    Helene finding a backpack at REI in San Diego.
    Helene finding a backpack at REI in San Diego.
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    Hitchhiking in Pahoa, Big Island Hawai'i.
    Hitchhiking in Pahoa, Big Island Hawai'i.
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    Backpacking is an amazing option for the budget-conscious traveler. After backpacking through Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, I picked up on some travel tips that may help you prepare for your next adventure. There is a level of awe and wonder that comes with traveling to an unknown place. The more calculated and comfortable you feel in your day to day life, the more I encourage you to get out of your usual routine and take a trip somewhere random. 1) Make general plans but stay open to other possibilities. The best way to strike down opportunities for miraculous connections is by over-planning your trip. Tourist attractions are popular for a reason and some sites are admittedly must-sees, but there’s nothing like striking up conversation with a traveler or local who leads you to a secret epic spot. 2) Get familiar with plane ticket patterns. In general, ticket prices depend on the season demand. Try out skyscanner.com to get full coverage when comparing flights. Keep an open mind about travel routes, consider less popular airports, and use different modes of transportation. Also, rome2rio.com is a great resource to get you from A to B using buses, trains, and planes. The more open you and your timeline are, the more you open yourself up to the uncertainty of what you’ll do next. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest joys in traveling, which we often times lose in everyday life. Keep in mind that once you are on another continent, local flights become much cheaper. Flights within Southeast Asia start from $20 USD! In my experience, booking flights one week in advance gave me the perfect balance of keeping my travel route unpredictable while getting real-time suggestions from fellow travelers and following wherever life led me. 3) Pack efficiently. When your backpack becomes your temporary home, investing in a solid pack is essential. Understanding climate helps tremendously with planning. Online lists are the perfect resource to inform you on the must-haves depending on the nature of your trip. You will quickly become very conscious of what to bring when you consider that every item is extra weight you will carry. Opt for the headlamp over another outfit! 4) Consider cheap accommodation. Depending on the style of your trip, camping may be the perfect option. Many places offer permit-camping for a low rate. Make sure to prepare accordingly from padding to tents, hammocks, tarps, and all the gear in between. Couchsurfing.com is a common social experience in many countries, where hosts offer up short-term stays in their homes to fellow travelers. Hostels are also great options for short or long-term stays, with shared rooms and breakfast often included. Download the Hostelworld app to compare nearby options. Look into local options, as many countries in Southeast Asia offer homestays at an inexpensive rate. 5) Walk and talk! We are used to getting places quickly, but backpacking gives us a chance to slow down and experience. See where the streets take you, and chat with locals or fellow travelers. You never know where a seemingly wrong turn could lead you! 6) Link up with a travel buddy. While traveling alone is a huge opportunity for independence and growth, you can save a lot of money when you travel with another person. Split costs for housing, food, and activities. 7) Eat like the locals. Fresh markets and local vendors are a prime chance for you to experience local culture, and they are typically cheaper options than eating out at restaurants. If you have any additional questions on Backpacking on a Budget, feel free to email me at healthcoachhelene@gmail.com. Happy adventuring! Helene Gerasimchuk backpacked through seven countries in 10 months on a tight budget following her intuition over an itinerary. She is embracing life in Pacific Beach while she anticipates her next adventure. Contact her at healthcoachhelene@gmail.com for questions or inquiries.
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    Peninsula residents upset with homeless population
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Aug 18, 2016 | 1891 views | 2 2 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    A homeless man sleeps on seawall in Ocean Beach. / PHOTO BY JIM GRANT
    A homeless man sleeps on seawall in Ocean Beach. / PHOTO BY JIM GRANT
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    (The Peninsula Beacon is focusing on homeless awareness in this edition with stories on problems, myths, and solutions for homeless in the beach communities.) Peninsula community leaders offered comments – and suggestions – on problematic homelessness. Robert Goldyn, vice chair of the Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB), speaking for himself as a Point Loma Heights resident, noted Point Loma is “quite different than Ocean Beach.” For the most part, the homeless are not too great of a population in the Peninsula as compared to OB,” Goldyn said, noting, “It is really difficult to address and recognize the scope of the situation.” Goldyn pointed out that what people consider as the homeless population is the "chronic homeless,” people living on the streets/beach for extended periods.  “The transitional homeless are quite often not seen in this picture, and are often only temporary homeless and able to coordinate with local or regional services to help support them,” Goldyn said. “The best way to help or support the homeless would be to provide services that help keep people in homes, such as support with rent on a temporary basis to maintain people in homes versus being evicted. Or, a non-profit agency stepping in to talk to landlords and promise to help back the homeless individual for rent.” Goldyn pointed out “landlords do not want to rent an apartment to someone who has been homeless, in fear they will be shorted the rent. But if we have agencies available to take the burden of the risk, we may be able to get some of these people back in housing.” Goldyn noted Point Loma is housing “challenged.”  “Housing and rent prices are continuing to increase, preventing younger generations from being able to afford to move into the area,” he said, noting the chronically homelessness “have mental or physical conditions as well that need to be addressed.” Robert (Tripp) Jackson is immediate past president of the Point Loma Association (PLA), a community nonprofit working for beautification and civic improvement. He noted the old school homeless population is gradually being replaced by traveling kids. “These are your soul-searching, hybrid hippies,” said Jackson.“A lot of them have very bad attitudes and are very disrespectful and sometimes combative – which is disturbing.” Jackson noted high-profile, sign-carrying panhandlers work the medians at prominent community access points. He discussed a scene he witnessed once with panhandlers counting their “donations” following a dayshift of begging at a local bar-restaurant. “They (homeless) would work the Rosecrans-Nimitz corner, and they'd come into the bar-restaurant afterward and would be buying filet mignons and expensive pitchers of beer and shooting pool,” Jackson said, pointing out this group of about half a dozen panhandlers had gathered more than $800 in “donations,” and we're counting their cash. “We can do this every day,” a panhandler told Jackson, adding, “Why would we want to go to a homeless place (shelter) where you have strict rules, have a 5 p.m. curfew and are expected to go out and get a job?” Jackson said the encounter left a lasting impression on him. “If you got $850 a day standing on the corner seven days a week, you'd be doing as good (or better) than most professionals,” Jackson said. “I was kind of speechless. It was really unbelievable to see the potential of what they could really do.” The Point Loma Realtor added that Peninsula homeless are also drawn to vacant retail spaces, like the old Arby's site on Rosecrans. “There's a whole encampment of them (homeless) sleeping over there and working the medians,” Jackson said, noting he knows someone up the hill above Sabatini's Liquor Delicatessen at 1780 Rosecrans St. “He told me they have women in the mix, who have much more potential (for collecting handouts), especially if they're younger.” Cecilia Carrick is a community activist and a PLA member. Describing herself as being among the “silent majority,” Carrick noted the Peninsula homeless population is a kaleidoscope including: severely mentally ill people incapable of accepting their own need for chronic medication; those with debilitating addictions, in and out of jails, incapable of holding down jobs and resorting to petty crime to survive; a population that, through illness or loss of a job are eviction from their dwellings, are unable to re-insert themselves into the housing market; and lazy ne’er do wells that refuse to contribute, only to destroy and deface, refusing to abide by any of society’s decency rules. “Our community lives with this picture – tents, mattresses, bags of filthy clothing and litter, furniture, bottles filled with urine, outhouse stations behind our alleys, stores and homes,” she said. “Whether volunteer, homeowner or business owner, most in our beach community have been negatively impacted by the homelessness trail.” Carrick offered these possible solutions for combatting homelessness: • A pitch for the temporary, scattered site, supportive services approach. • Set up sturdy inexpensive National Park-type simple solar sanitary facilities discretely located near homeless, underpasses or other sites that can be serviced as regularly. • A trial of small groupings of movable “tiny houses” placed near public transportation in areas all over the county for basic shelter for people wishing to stay off the street with supportive site visits from social services. • Stronger temporary support for families with delinquent rents. The high bar of re-entering the housing market after an eviction makes for an insurmountable challenge, especially in beach communities. • A basic decency “homeless tax” on all of us, Carrick said. “Yes folks, the art community needs it and has it. Cap it, restrict its use and adjust for inflation. “Let’s stop giving those dollars to median panhandlers and save a lot by pitching in a little,” Carrick concluded.
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    PtLomaM
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    August 22, 2016
    Although I can agree that homelessness is an issue in San Diego, especially the beach communities, but I don't appreciate local community leaders fabricating facts to forward their agenda.

    Your "fact" of a homeless person making $850 a day is ludicrous, not to mention his post panhandling activities of throwing back beers and eating filet mignon. $850 a day would amount to over $200,000 a year (working 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year).

    Yes, there are reports of professional panhandlers pulling in a few hundred a day, with the rare occurrence of even more, but these are extreme instances. Plus none of these "reports" have been substantiated and let us not forget the source of this info, the homeless person themselves. Anyways, a typical person begging on the corner can make around $10 an hour. You can find out facts here "Exit Ramp: A Short Case Study of the Profitability of Panhandling."

    As we know, we will never rid our city of the homeless, all we can do is put in support systems to help those who truly need and want help. For those who don't want help or just incapable of understanding the assistance programs - we will just have to tolerate.
    Erik du Fresne
    |
    August 19, 2016
    An alternative perspective:

    SuccessManual.net/travels
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    Aug 26, 2016 | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend
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