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Monday, December 31, 2012


HAPPY NEW YEAR--Kristin Conard is an editor at Matador Nights [] as well as a writing instructor in California.

She recently penned an article on how to say “Cheers” in 50 languages.  Here’s a few you might try on those special 2013 events:

Dutch: Proost  [Prohst]
Japanese: Kanpai [kan-pie]
Polish: Na zdrowie  [Naz-droh-vee-ay]
Spanish: Salud [Sah-lud]
Swedish: Skal [Skawl]
Vietnamese: Do [Jou]
Yiddish: Sei gesund   [Say geh-sund]
Hebrew: [L’chaim]
Greek: [Yamas]
German: Prost  [Prohst]
French:  Sante [Sahn tay]
Chinese/Mandarin: gan bei [gan-bay]


Image represents two of the top stories of 2012: President Obama’s re-election and the London Olympics. Solid USA showing resulted in a visit from the Gold Medal winning USA Olympic to the White House.  That’s gymnast McKayla Maroney mugging with the POTUS. White House image.

SAN DIEGO ROUND-UP—Year-end wrap-up articles are a common theme for nationwide scribes.  San Diego media is no different. The following is a mixed bag of what was covered locally in 2012, including this blog’s own opinion of the top stories of the year.

(selected at random rather than top stories)

--Lots O' Democrats got elected this year, including Mayor Bob Filner. Not only that, but Filner has a majority Democratic City Council, and San Diego has one more Democrat in Congress.
--Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park got an ok from the City Council for a controversial makeover.
--The purchase of the Padres.
-- Prison realignment was the state’s response to a court order requiring less crowded prisons.
--The suicide of Junior Seau.
--The shutdown of San Onofre because of a radiation leak caused concern for public safety as well as summer brownouts.
--Poway's school bonds, or capital appreciation bonds
--A Desalination plant was approved for Carlsbad amidst controversy.
-- Developer Doug Manchester's purchase of the San Diego Union Tribune.
-- Epic Fourth of July Fireworks flameout that made San Diego number one on the worldwide laughingstock chart for a day or two.

--Where Borrowing $105 Million Will Cost $1 Billion.
--A Creative Borrowing Boom: Poway Not Alone in High-Interest Financing.
--Doug Manchester: San Diego's Cheerleader in Chief.
--Where San Diego’s Poorest Live: Map, Aug. 6.
--Hundreds of Kids Arrested on an Unproven [Curfew] Hunch.
--The Three Words That Made Pensions Untouchable.
--The Teachers Union Gets Tough, and Isolated, Feb. 6.
--Duke to Newt: I've Got Your Back
--The Tragic and Fascinating Life of Carl DeMaio.
--The Mayoral Candidate Scorecard.


-- #PIPA is the New #SOPA
--Balboa Park water fight was a tragedy of the commons
--Knitting Guy given 10 days to remove stop sign flowers
--Chad Michaels is out to take reality TV with a bang (and a tuck)
--Pop-culture trends that are not invited back to 2012
--Raped behind bars
--Ridiculed and ostracized, rollerbladers hit new strides
--Carl DeMaio A to Z
--Facing closure, the Ché Café calls for help

UT-San Diego.
As far as year-end wrap-ups, the UT-San Diego offered its top 12 most popular real estate stories of 2012.

--Banks send mixed messages on mortgage deal
--New housing scam emerges in California
--Do homebuyers stand a chance in tight market?
--Phil Mickelson's Rancho Santa Fe home for sale
--Top 10 most improved ZIPs in San Diego County
--Shipping container as a home? It's possible
--Time-honored tax break may end for homeowners
--Bank-owned home's trash 'deposited' at BofA
--Do real estate search sites miss accuracy mark?
--Will county home prices rise this year?
--Encinitas broker was 'AzScam' convict
--Why people walk away from home loans

Here are the highlights of the 2012 year in local politics according to NBC 7 San Diego:

--Snapdragon Snafu: name change at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium.
--Nathan Fletcher leaving the GOP.
--Jerry Sanders’ Candid Remarks about Carl DeMaio.
--Bob Filner’s Bike Race Challenge.
--Laura Duffy’s Expensive Apology.
--Politicized Potholes: Never has a hole in the ground become so charged. Potholes --“Did the dog eat your homework, Bob?” The question was posed to Bob Filner during a pre-primary debate.
--RIP Redevelopment:
--#FilnerEverywhere: Bob Filner suddenly -- sometimes miraculously -- began appearing at local events.

New York Times annual Year in Pictures post is online:

Not to be left out of the mix, here are this blog’s two-cents worth from the cheap seats.

--Republican’s Snub Nathan Fletcher.  Domino’s begin to fall.
--Voters Rule. San Diego’s political establishment rocked by voters.
--Return of Bob Filner.  Democrats Take Over Mayor’s Office/Council
--Was DeMaio Damaged by Lilypondgate?
--Peters Beats Bilbray for Congressional Seat
--Sale of San Diego Padres Completed
--Legacy of Jerry Sanders
--Junior Seau Suicide
--San Diego Chargers Water Torture Season
--San Diego Library Coverage
--Death of Redevelopment Dollars.  I guess North Park’s (and other neighborhood’s redevelopment miracles) wasn’t good enough for State bureaucrats to notice.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


United Nations Goal Achieved in 2012: 2 Billion More human beings get safe water to drink

GOOD HAPPENS--Although not based in San Diego, the Good News Network keeps pushing good news only format.  I’m definitely adding this to my “bookmarks” for 2013.

“On the face of it, 2012 revealed the worst of the society's ills -- toxic partisan politics, horrific shootings and devastating natural disasters. But many positive trends, some blooming through social media and the internet, also cheered our souls,” says  Manassas-based Geri Weis-Corbley is the founder of Good News Network.  The ex-TV reporter has been a leader since 1997 to prove good news sells. 

Here is the Good News Network's year in review: the top ten stories of hope and achievement.


--India Hails its First Polio-Free Year
--In Age of Bullying, Special Needs Student Elected Prom King
--Aung San Suu Kyi “Wins Landslide Landmark Election” as Burma Rejoices
--Stray Pit Bull Saves a Woman and Child from Attacker
--Strangers Raise $600,000 to Give Bullied Bus Driver a Vacation
--London Olympics: Most Decorated Athlete Ever and the Uplift of a Nation
--Three Major Cancer Breakthroughs, One is Discovered by a 15-Year-Old
--Entire Town Turns the Table on Bullying School Pranks
--Mars Rover Beats the Odds, Lands on Red Planet
--Two Billion More Get Safe Water to Drink, UN Goal Achieved

Bottom Line:
“…If news is not really news unless it is bad news, it may be difficult to claim we are an informed nation.”
            --Norman Cousins, editor of Saturday Review

Tomorrow on this blog’s Media Monday we offer a recap of local media’s self-proclaimed top stories of 2012.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

WORLD ARCHITECTURE / Guangdong province, China


CHINA COMMISSION--The remarkable Guangzhou Opera House is a project of Zaha Hadid Architects based in London.   The firm’s principal, Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, DBE, is an Iraqi-British architect.  Baghdad-born (1950) she has earned the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004—the first woman to do so—and the Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011.

Built between 2003 and 2010, the Guangzhou Opera House is at the heart of Guangzhou’s cultural sites overlooking the Pearl River (near Hong Kong and Macao).

Photos: Zaha Hadid Architects, Iwan Baan photographer

Friday, December 28, 2012


SWEET TIMES—Being low watt, I forego the San Diego Natural History Museum’s exhibits on Pre-hispanic roadrunners, who survived the machine age.  But this year, The Nat is on a roll.  They nabbed a boatload of visitors with its popular spring to fall “Titanic” exhibition.  Now, they parlay that success with a timely holiday exhibition simply called “Chocolate.” 

“Chocolate” unearths the origins of chocolate and how the drink was transformed from a bitter drink of kings into the indulgence we all love today.  The exhibit runs through the New Year to March 10, 2013.

Suggested reading before trekking to The Nat in San Diego’s famed Balboa Park is a Smithsonian Magazine article: “The Brief History of Chocolate.”

Of course, there’s chocolate nirvana, a.k.a. the Disneyland of Chocolate in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Hershey’s Chocolate World with its elegant hotel and world class botanical gardens is a complete day trip on its own.

One very creative re-use of a long outdated chocolate factory is how Nestle’s helped save London’s old Menier Chocolate Factory and turned it into a live theatre venue with a chocolate themed restaurant.  I will update this site from England later in the Spring.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Chocolate began life as a drink

"Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world's perfect food…"
-- Michael Levine in the book "The Emperors of Chocolate."

PROOF POSITIVE--The holidays can be distracting to a chocoholic aficionado, who constantly needs to unearth research to prove to doubting family members that a lifelong fondness of chocolate consumption is a good thing.  Holiday chocolates can lure one away from research, especially if one has no willpower to resist the world famous vegetable based candy.  Yes, chocolate is a veggie.  Need proof?
Scoffers stand aside.  For proof, we went to one of the leading chocolate authorities in the U.S. for answers.  The noted scientists at Candyland Crafts in Somerville, New Jersey have an exhaustive web page on all things chocolate.  Since 1981 the company has been a leading supplier of candy and cake making supplies and equipment. is chocolate 

Candylandcrafts points out “chocolate has a long long history. Chocolate itself is derived from the seeds of a fleshy pod, which is the fruit of the Cacao tree. The tree's botanical name is Theobroma cacao, which means literally: "food of the Gods", and most of us would agree. It was discovered by Europeans just about 500 years ago, when some explorers came across a large sea going canoe in the [now] Gulf of Honduras, in which natives were transporting goods that included a cargo of cocoa beans!”

Is chocolate a fruit or a vegetable?

Again to Candyland’s braintrust: “One could argue it's a fruit since it's made from the fruit of the cacao tree but chocolate scientists have classified it as a vegetable. Not only is chocolate a vegetable, it's a unique vegetable: the only one that its fat is solid at room temperature. The fat [cocoa butter] melts in your mouth, luckily, and tastily too. In a post millennium article (Rueters News Service, 7/18/02,from the Boston Globe, on a joint study by Universith of Texas/Austin and Hershey Foods scientists report humans developed a fondness for chocolate drinks about 2,600 years ago.

Case closed.

Now that we have proof chocolate is a veggie I can ease into my non-cheeseburger years with a sigh of relief.  Also, on the Candyland website the possibility of chocolate addiction is raised.  Fortunately, all inconvenient truths are published in fine print.

But, it’s still the holidays, enjoy Candyland Crafts website that answers every question ever asked about chocolate.

Source: Candyland Crafts, 201 West Main Street, Somerville NJ 08876

Next:  Speaking of hyperbole, in the days ahead, as space allows, we will continue our trek into all things chocolate with stops at San Diego’s Natural History Museum’s on-going “Chocolate” exhibit and sidetrips to two candy factories.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


First six planets in the solar system in size relationship to each other: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn

Photo still taken from the first close up video
of Jupiter taken by Voyager 2, 1979’s outstanding Scientific Visualization studio has produced a terrific video on Jupiter from its Science on a Sphere series.  I’m totally addicted to this series. The NASA copy writers backed by Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony pulled no punches for the dramatic.  You have to love the closing:   “Jupiter (cue the kettle drums), giant of the solar system.  Capturer of the imagination.  It is the Kilimanjaro to the wide open spaces of our solar system.  It pulls our curiosity and attention like a beacon when we look out into the darkness of space.  Jupiter: King!”

Check it out:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


If the skies are clear, tonight, view to the east at sunset for this remarkable frolic between Jupiter,  our Moon and visible stars.   Image:

JUPITER & MOON FOR OPENERS—Guess who received a new telescope for Christmas? If you frequent this blog you’ll note astronomy is a favorite topic.  We live in exciting times when it comes to the cosmos.  My telescope acquisition’s first major discovery was not in the skies but on the Internet.  Previously, for this blog, a big source for outer space shock and awe has been and its various blogs, but recently we discovered another site that’s spacey enough for mention.  This begs the question: where have we been?

Nonetheless, called EarthSky [], it boasts as being a clear voice for science and it advocates science as a vital tool for the 21st century.  What they do is extremely timely and interesting.  For example, tonight they offer space followers an essay on Jupiter and the moon dancing in the sky at sunset (view to the east).

Also, one blog article that’s popular with its viewers is the handy December 2012 guide to the visible planets.

Based in Austin, Texas, EarthSky began producing its award-winning science content in 1991. Today, EarthSky science interviews and other audio and video content are seen, heard, or read millions of times every day on multiple platforms via both broadcast and Internet outlets.

EarthSky enjoys the support and partnership of thousands of scientists and scientific institutions, including Fast Company, Discovery News, the National Science Foundation, Google, NASA, the NASA Night Sky Network, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the USA Science and Engineering Festival, the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, Research Corporation, Shell, the Edwards Foundation, Advanced MicroDevices, Dow, the Whole Planet Foundation, Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Geological Society of America, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Sustainable Brands, the National Space Grant Foundation, The Economist, and many others.

EarthSky has 1,000+ Global Science Advisors – experts in every field of study – who suggest topics, review content, and provide ongoing help.

The EarthSky broadcast network consists of 1,200+ outlets across the United States and the world. Our daily audio programs are heard approximately 4 million times each day in the U.S. alone.

We know science is not perfect. It’s a process, not a body of facts. History tells us that some of today’s scientific truths will inevitably turn out to be wrong, or only partly true. Still, science leads to profound insights about the natural world that are as true as anything can be here at the beginning of the 21st century.

The EarthSky promise: “To bring the ideas, strategies, and research results of scientists to people around the world, with the goal of illuminating pathways to a sustainable future.”

Unlike NASA, EarthSky is supported by donations: If so moved in the future here's a donation line:

Tomorrow on this blog:  PART 2: NASA's grand video opus: Jupiter, the King!


Hotel Del Coronado's first electric Christmas tree, 1904

FESTIVE DELNothing says happy holidays more than a trip to the Hotel Del Coronado to check out the giant lobby tree and/or “do” brunch.

The vintage shot posted here was taken in 1904 when the hotel staff installed Tom Edison's new fangled electric lights on a nearby tree.  Little did they know what they started as a recent photo of the venerable (1888) inn shows.

Image: Recent: Phyllis Shess; Vintage: San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles magazine via San Diego History Center.

Monday, December 24, 2012


Ho, Ho, Ho!
For end of the year reading, here are a couple of interesting post election analysis pieces worthy of a re-read.  Both cover politics: the San Diego Mayor’s race and the hotly contested Peters v. Bilbray Congressional battle.  Both writers point out how critical campaign advertising strategies played in the winning campaigns.
1Brad Racino, a reporter with SoCal-based I-Newsource [] in “Darth Vader Meets the Worst Person in the World: Pulling back the curtain on the mayor’s race” analyzed the differences between victory and DeMaio. Go to link:
            Brad’s background comes from a variety of outlets — television editor and videographer, professional photographer, small-business owner and underwater videographer.  Brad graduated from the University of Missouri in 2012 with a master’s degree in journalism. 
Al Rodbell
            2:  “Peters’ Brilliant Ad that Won the Election” by Al Rodbell in Voice of San Diego [] also delves into campaign strategies—this time between incumbent Congressman (soon to be ex) Brian Bilbray and Rep-elect Scott Peters.  Rodbell dwells on what he called a brilliant late campaign ad by using basic Republican core values to slam a seated Republican Congressman.  Al is a veteran social and political essayist, who frequently writes for and Voice of San Diego.  Link to:

UT’s Matt Hall reported on KPBS’ Rountable for Dec. 21, “…Justin Hudnall’s collective art project, “The Far East: Everything Just As It Is,” wanted to capture San Diego’s East County, warts-and-all. The portrait was supposed to reflect the truth of the region in a figurative sense. While it may have done that, it has also made some angry, including Miriam Raftery, editor of the on-line publication East County Magazine, who slammed it for promoting negative stereotypes.”
            Judge for yourself.  The installation can be seen:
            The “Far East Project…” took the form of a written and audio anthology comprised of solicited works with curated photography, "Everything Just As It Is." Funding was made possible through a San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst Fellowship granted to Justin Hudnall, sponsored by San Diego Writers, Ink. Project Director Justin Hudnall; Editor Mindy Solis, Asst. Editors Missy Solis and Corie Bales; Project Mentor Syd Brown.

Want to see a ton of Christmas lights? San Diego Family Magazine posts its annual list of well-lit neighborhoods:

Ever wonder how much one of those KPBS pledge drive earns.  The station recently twittered “Thank you to the more than 3,900 folks who pledged more than $581k during our TV drive. Wow. Big hits #downtonabbey &@ricksteves.” 
Now we know.

The photo for this blog is from Ann Jarmusch, one of the best in the west when it comes to shelter and built journalism.  No one is better in her assessment of West Coast architecture whether it be contemporary or historic preservation.  And, she’s pretty good with the camera as this holiday shot attests.  Find Ann on facebook.

Sarah Daoust
San Diegan Sarah Daoust is the new editor of Where San Diego.  The local events and travel quarterly’s Winter 2013 edition is the new home for the talented former editor of the San Diego version of 944 Magazine. 944 ceased publishing in June, 2011.

TV reporter/host Kimberly King is now Director of Communications at Cathedral Catholic High School.

Nanette Wiser, a long time local magazine and TV editor/writer/producer is now a successful travel and dining writer and social media producer based in Florida.   Check out her popular blog (picked up locally by the Reader):  Go to link:

Here's an idea for gift wrap for the ink stained in our lives from retailer Scout at Quarters D at Liberty Station.


Community Businesses Light Seven Bridges over two-miles of I-805 in mid-San Diego.                            

LIGHTING THE WAY--This year marks the 25th anniversary of the holiday light display on the seven I-805 bridges that traverse San Diego’s Mid-City communities of City Heights, North Park, and Normal Heights. This year also comes with a switch from 4,000 incandescent bulbs to energy saving LEDs. This one- time investment of $22,000 also included electrical upgrades which were financed with grants from County Supervisor Ron Roberts - 4th District, City Council President Todd Gloria - District 3, San Diego Gas & Electric, The Mid-City Landscape Maintenance District, along with sponsorship by Sierra Display, Inc. The coordination with Caltrans was achieved with the direct assistance of 76th District Assembly Member Toni Atkins.

Annually, the light display, which shines brightly from Thanksgiving through the New Year, is produced through the diligence of the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association, with the assistance of the Adams Avenue Business Association, North Park Main Street, and City Heights Business Association.

The 50 day lighting display can be appreciated by the passengers in the approximately 800,000 vehicles that will cross one of the seven bridges, and another 1.2 million driving the two mile length of the I-805 from dusk until the wee hours of the night.

Initiated by the Adams Avenue Business Association in 1988 on a single bridge, the display caught the attention of The El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association. Talk of "why not add our Boulevard bridge" morphed into a "why stop there" attitude. By year three all seven bridges were adorned.

Image: Courtesy of the El Cajon BIA

Sunday, December 23, 2012


There's no place like home to start your own craft beer operation.  Photo: The Homebrewer

JOIN BEERMANIA--Yes, there are more than 60 craft beer breweries operating in San Diego county, but the number of local home brewers is almost impossible to keep tabs on.  But, there’s still time to run to your local beer brewing supply shops to get last-minute holiday gifts for the newbie brewer in your life.   Here are three suggestions from West Coaster magazine (

The Homebrewer (2911 El Cajon Blvd., 619-450-6165) is a new brew needs shop located in historic North Park (beer mecca).  The shop has all you need to brew beer at home and reminds everyone very little space required. Beginners welcome. Includes everything you need to brew a one gallon batch of beer: recipe, ingredients (grains, hops, yeast), one-gallon Jug, thermometer, air lock, sanitizer, nifty instructions, & tubing. The Homebrewer also offers brew classes for both beginning and experienced brewers. 

Best Damn Home Brew Shop is a full service home brew supply shop for beginners to advanced home brewers. Located Downtown San Diego Between Broadway and C Street (1036 Seventh Ave., 619-232-6367. Inside Krisp Beverages + Natural Foods, the shop carries fresh hops, 54 grains, White Lab liquid/powder extract and an onsite mill for small/large quantity, plus bottling and kegging materials.

Home beer brewing starter kits from Home Brew Mart (5401 Linda Vista Rd.,619-295-2337) range from $132.95 to $429.95.  These kits offer virtually everything you need for your first successful batch of home brew. Home Brew Mart (Ballast Point) has designed four kits to allow you to choose the equipment you want. All kits come with ingredients for your first five gallons and full instructions.

Image: The Homebrewer


HOLIDAY MUSIC—Most Sundays at 2 pm Dr. Carol Williams performs a free concert outdoors at Balboa Parks venerable Spreckels Organ Pavillion.   So close to Christms Day you can expect many holiday tunes this Sunday.

John D. and Adolph Spreckels donated the Spreckels Organ, one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs, to the City of San Diego in 1914 for the Panama-California Exposition. This unique organ contains 4,530 pipes ranging in length from the size of a pencil to 32 feet and is housed in an ornate vaulted structure with highly embellished gables.

Since 1917, San Diego has had a civic organist, who performs free weekly Sunday concerts through March 3 at 2 pm.  Info: 619-702-8138.

Dr. Carol Williams has been the San Diego Civic Organist and Artistic Director of the Spreckels Organ Society in San Diego, California since 2001.

Pillar to Post photo.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


A first stop by Brewery Tours of San Diego
SAFETY IN NUMBERS—Here are three last minute gift ideas for the holiday craft beer season. The craft beer scene continues to explode in San Diego and throughout America. By the end of next year, San Diego county is expected to be home to more than 90 breweries.

With so many breweries in San Diego county, it’s tough keeping track – let alone physically visiting each one. After just one tasting flight at one brewery, you are probably legally intoxicated. Driving to multiple breweries is a definite risk.

Here are three tours that keep you in the know for San Diego’s burgeoning craft beer scene and let someone else do the driving.

While working at the tasting room of Ballast Point in 2006, Brewery Tours of San Diego Co-Founder Mindy Eastman noticed many customers were attempting to taste at multiple breweries – often while noticeably intoxicated. Inspiration struck, and shortly after, San Diego’s original brewery tour company was born.
With a fleet consisting of buses, shuttles and vans, Brewery Tours of San Diego puts an emphasis on beer education (rather than just inebriation!). A typical session runs 5 hours, stops at 3 breweries, and includes tastings at each. Also included is a guided tour behind-the-scenes at one brewery with an introduction to commercial beer production.

Both private and public tours are offered, seven days a week. Private tours allow you to choose which breweries to see and reserve the vehicle exclusively for your use. Public Tours follow fixed routes and are open-seating – a great way to save a few dollars and make some new friends. Brewery Tours of San Diego also provides transportation to and from beer festivals, concerts, and more!

To book your next tour, go to!
(619) 961-7999

BTW: Brewery Tours has a complete webguide to San Diego breweries at the following link:

Looking to try a different kind of brewery experience? Scavengers offers unique tours starting at $89 per person. Ideal for groups of 2-24 people, Scavengers provides guided tours to world class breweries in San Diego by way of the Pinzgauer (pronouced pinz-gow-er). A Swiss Military 6×6 safari vehicle with seating for 12 and an open-air design, this 6 wheel drive BEAST is the perfect mode of transportation when you’re on the road to drink great beer from the source.
A company comprised of avid homebrewers, Scavengers has developed a passion for hand-crafted beer. This passion has inspired the creation of a quality brewery tour service that highlights San Diego’s scenic beauty, awesome food, and most of all – radical micro-breweries. With free pickup in North County, the tour heads off to three breweries and includes a meal. Tours can be public or private, great for meeting like-minded folks or focusing entirely on your private party. Breweries on the tour map include Stone Brewing Company, Iron Fist Brewing Company, The Lost Abbey, Port Brewing, Ballast Point Brewing Company, and Green Flash Brewing Company, among others. Scavengers also offers mixed beer and wine tours – great for couples split on what beverage reigns supreme.

Exclusively for West Coaster readers, mention you heard about Scavengers in this issue and get 10% off your next tour. Some restrictions apply; valid until 12/31/11, limit one per customer.To book your tour, please call (760) 717-2551 or visit
(760) 717-2551

With a fleet of luxury vehicles that includes SUVs, stretch limousines and party buses – let Brew Hop treat you to the ultimate brewery tour offered in town. With guided tours to San Diego’s best breweries, the size of your party determines your ride; vehicles range from Lincolns to Limo Buses. Additionally, every Brew Hop vehicle is permitted so that you can enjoy adult beverages on the road from one brewery to the next. Brew Hop is ready to deliver you and your friends to the world’s best breweries in style.
Much more than a pretty face, Brew Hop offers two tour packages: The Beer Connoisseur tour is a 5-hour party experience that stops at 3-4 breweries with tasters at each. The Beer Tasters tour is a 2.5 hour session to 1-2 breweries, including tasters. Each tour group is led by a Brew Hop tour host, and at each brewery there’s a VIP private tour of the facility, a chance to meet the brewery staff to ask questions about your favorite brews, and, of course, taster flights of beer.

Brew Hop was founded in San Diego and also operates in Seattle, with future sights set on Portland, Oregon. Since November 2011, the company has maintained a 5-star average on and Brew Hop was recently featured in Time Magazine UK.

Mention West Coaster and receive 10% off  your next booking (tour must be booked by 12/31/12, some restrictions apply). Contact Summer for a customized party proposal and browse for more information.
(858) 361-8457

Source: Reprinted with permission from the December/January issue of West Coaster Magazine, San Diego region’s leading Craft Beer magazine, blog and website:    Download a free copy from website.


SATELLITE REVEALS OUR DARK SIDES-- The end of the Mayan calendar was not doomsday.  Obviously, the planet survived.  For once a deadline carved in stone was meaningless.  Moving on to the image at hand, it is the USA at night assembled in composite from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012.

The image was made possible by the new satellite’s “day-night band” of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals such as city lights, gas flares, auroras, wildfires, and reflected moonlight.

“Nighttime light is the most interesting data that I’ve had a chance to work with,” says Chris Elvidge, who leads the Earth Observation Group at NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center. “I’m always amazed at what city light images show us about human activity.”
Debris from 12-21-12 Doomsday

Scientists seeking to model the distribution of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and to monitor the activity of commercial fishing fleets have approached his research group. Biologists have examined how urban growth has fragmented animal habitat. Elvidge even learned once of a study of dictatorships in various parts of the world and how nighttime lights had a tendency to expand in the dictator’s hometown or province.

Named for satellite meteorology pioneer Verner Suomi, NPP flies over any given point on Earth's surface twice each day at roughly 1:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The polar-orbiting satellite flies 824 kilometers (512 miles) above the surface, sending its data once per orbit to a ground station in Svalbard, Norway, and continuously to local direct broadcast users distributed around the world. Suomi NPP is managed by NASA with operational support from NOAA and its Joint Polar Satellite System, which manages the satellite's ground system.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data provided courtesy of Chris Elvidge (NOAA National Geophysical Data Center). Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, NOAA, and the Department of Defense. 

UPDATE:  NASA explains why the world didn't end on 12-21-12.  Go to link:

Friday, December 21, 2012


DAMMIT, MAYANS WERE RIGHT—Next time we don’t argue with a calendar carved in stone!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


What, me worry?

VACATION TIME—Because the end of the world, according to the Mayan Calendar, might happen on 12/21/12, this blog has decided it’s a perfect time to take the next couple of days off.  I’m also spending the last of the inheritance.

See you soon, maybe, cin cin.

Caption: Enjoying a sunny day in near Uniontown, PA at a highly recommended in B&B called The Inn at Watson’s Choice.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Riki-San, San Diego Zoo's Cloud Leopard 

FUZZY & WUZZY--Guest Blog by San Diego Zoo--Named for its cloud-like spots, the male clouded leopard can weigh up to 50 pounds.  This cat is found mostly in the Southeast Asian rain forest and is an excellent swimmer and climber.  In fact, the clouded leopard and the margay from South America are the only cat species that can climb down a tree head first, thanks to the flexibility of the ankle joints. 

Thirteen-pound Riki-san (right and above) is the larger of the two cats but is also the more timid one. His coat pattern is darker and his rosettes more pronounced. According to zookeepers, Haui-san, at 11.5 pounds, is feisty and quite playful, enticing his bigger brother to wrestle and play a game of chase.
Brothers Riki-san and Haui-san will spend 30 days in quarantine, where they are visible to the public daily and have already become guest favorites. After this quarantine period, the cubs will join the Zoo’s Backstage Pass animal ambassador program.

The cubs arrived earlier this week from the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, where a very successful breeding program has helped to increase the population of this critically endangered specie 

Photos: Zoological Society of San Diego. Copyright 2012.