Saturday, April 30, 2011

It's OK to play with swords

Stuart Lee got tired of driving all over San Diego County, giving fencing lessons. So, he opened up his own fencing studio, Lion Heart Fencing Academy, in a big box building in La Mesa this year. Now he has kids trooping in from all over, learning how to cross swords and duel. Lee's profile for my "A Living in La Mesa" column:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Garth Brooks + baseball + charity work = busy dentist

Jeff Gray is a dentist who specializes in sedation dentistry, meaning a "pain-free" practice that allows fearful patients to actually walk through his door. He's also been devoted hours to charity work and loves to hang out with a good friend of his: Garth Brooks. His profile for my "A Living in La Mesa" column:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Padres get their "Big Stick" in right field

Golf company TaylorMade and the San Diego Padres have formed a three-year partnership, with the result being a giant replica of a TaylorMade driver being erected in the right-field corner, just inside the foul pole. There's no doubt the 80-foot aluminum golf shaft & club (painted on the fence) is going to be a talker and a cool feature of the park for a long time. My story on's Page 2:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A famous surfboard on display

Bethany Hamilton was a top teen surfer when she was attacked by a tiger shark in Hawaii in 2003. Today, her story has been made into a movie -- "Soul Surfer" -- and the board she was on that fateful day is displayed at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside. My story for's Page 2:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The watchmaker

Michael Helmi is an upbeat, always-smiling kind of guy, who has a greeting for every customer who comes through his door. He's a fourth-generation watchmaker who loves what he does. His profile for my "A Living in La Mesa" column:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yeah, that Michael Vick will never play in the NFL again ...

In the summer of 2008, Tiger Woods was riding high, Michael Vick was in prison and Pete Carroll looked as if he'd be at USC forever. Most people at the time would have bet that things would stay that way. But, obviously, they would have been wrong. My piece for's Page 2 on some bad bets in 2008:

Monday, April 11, 2011

The walk up Moro Rock is unforgettable

The hike up Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park is one you'll never forget. It's not long and it's not hard, but the sheer granite cliffs and the amazing views of the river valley far below and the Sierra to the east are worth every step. My story on Moro Rock for the travel section of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

The All-Masters baseball team

Early April is a wonderful time of year for a sports fan, with the start of the baseball season and the Masters at Augusta National. Why not combine them, to make an all-Masters baseball team? My post on's Page 2 blog:

A different kind of city park

Briercrest Park in La Mesa, built on the site of a former reservoir, is designed for the very young and the very old, with tactile and sensory features, a walking path and undulating, grass-covered mounds. My story for the "Faces and Places" column on La Mesa Patch:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Barry Bonds case: A literary tale

Sometimes, you can take a look at something a different way. Take the Barry Bonds' trial and pair it with sports book titles, and you get some easy matches, for instance. My piece for's Page 2:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

San Diego dives in to "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives"

Eight San Diego restaurants, from classic diners and burger bars to seafood cafes and pizza joints, have been featured on the Food Network's most popular show, "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives." To each, it's been like winning the lottery. The customers keep coming. My story for the San Diego Union-Tribune:

The skinny on former fatties

This spring, several high-profile ballplayers are much sleeker, as they seek to improve after subpar seasons in 2010. A quick look at a few of them in a piece that ran on's Page 2:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Making people whole again

Dr. Susan Kaweski is a Navy veteran who gravitated to doing plastic surgery because she can put people's lives back together. Her offices, in the historic Morrison House in La Mesa, look more like a B&B than a place for clinical work. Her profile for the "A Living in La Mesa" series: