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Saturday, October 08, 2005 | Which is the bigger story: “Big Cats on Prowl in Park (Mission Trails),” or “25 Killed as 3 Bombings Rock Bali (dozens injured)”? Would you venture where a few mountain cats wander who are more afraid of you than you are of them, or in gorgeous Bali where fanatics and cowards want to kill you and yours?

“Trolley Set to Get Dogs for Bomb Detection;” trolley-riding is a somewhat new treat that certainly couldn’t be a target, could it? If a pizza stand could make the cut, why not a trolley? I remember visiting NYC two weeks after Sept. 11 and bomb-sniffing dogs sniffed Fran and me as we entered or rode the elevators. You knew you didn’t have a bomb, but you did have a tiny folding knife that couldn’t cut butter and you worried about being arrested for that. Thousands of police lined every street in Manhattan; you also had to have your room key and ID or you were in trouble. I showed a photo of myself (driver’s license) but the cop accused me of being someone different (“This isn’t you; the guy in the photo has no hat and you’re wearing a hat!” Then the officer would burst out laughing, accompanied by the others who had witnessed your fear. Men are such teases. I can laugh now, but when those two towers collapsed all values changed. Permanently.

Then there are the eye witness accounts of New Orleans as it awaits reconstruction, “You’ve Got to See It to Believe It, a Task That Defies Comprehension.” Optimism appears as a human trait, no matter how much complaining we do, we look for someone to blame, which is our collective cottage industry. Otherwise the Del Mar Fairgrounds wouldn’t be spending $50 million on new construction. We have to believe in tomorrow, or tomorrow won’t be worth living.

In E. H. Gombrich’s, “A Little History of the World,” a charming survey of our past from pre-history to his own time (2001), he notes that after disaster and war, we witness new evidences of humanity “whenever the earth shakes or winds blow, aid comes almost at once.” It’s just that we need visual evidence that man’s wicked nature or Mother’s moody nature is at work. Especially now when we are so busy, either working towards retirement, or in retirement. My feeling is that time passes with such increasing velocity that one must be wise enough to take time to live it, not lament its quick passage.

While I can be doubtful of the intent and abilities of many leaders, I still preserve a positive attitude toward tomorrow. A grandparent must be an optimist, for optimism must be passed along to the young, for there is nothing sadder than a young pessimist. We adults must not contribute to that sad state.

Sanford “Sandy” Goodkin is acting chairman of Civic Solutions, a group of leaders who analyze San Diego’s problems, prioritize them and search for solutions, representing diverse points of view. He is a trustee of the Urban Land Institute and is a pioneer of residential market and marketing analysis. Read his real estate columns at

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