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They’re finicky about their bamboo. They sleep when they’re content. And at least one of them really likes a woman who has the perfect name to work at the zoo: Kathy Hawk.

In this week’s Q&A feature, we talk to Hawk about what it’s like to be the San Diego Zoo’s senior panda keeper, watching over the five giant pandas.

If you’ve got a kid who’d like to grow up and work with animals, let him or her read this story and get inspired.

“When I first came to the San Diego Zoo,” Hawk says, “I took a job in buildings and grounds because I thought well, at least I’ll be near the animals, it’d be better than working in a gift shop or flipping hamburgers in a food stand.”

Now, 24 years later, she’s got the perfect job. “Dreams,” she says, “can come true.”

In other news:

  • This disagreement sounds like it’s about the size of the Gulf of Mexico: “The deal that will give the public control over the four acres of bay front land needed to expand the city’s Convention Center will cost $13.5 million. That’s $8.8 million more than the Unified Port of San Diego thinks it’s worth, according to a land appraisal obtained Friday by voiceofsandiego.org.”
  • You’re not likely to ever hear freelance science reporter Claire Trageser sing “I got rhythm, I got music. . .  who could ask for anything more?”

    As she explains in a story, she doesn’t have much of either. Even so, a couple local biologists perked up when she mentioned this fact: they study the neuroscience of music. She ended up taking part in tests that, among other things, proved that she has less of a sense of rhythm than a cockatoo.

  • We’ve reached the sixth installment in our your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine-part “DA Watch” series.

    As you may recall, we’re challenging the district attorney’s office over what we consider to be a legally dubious fee to provide public records. D.A. Bonnie Dumanis won’t talk to us, so we’ve listed our questions to her along with explanations about why we’re asking them.

  • Tattoo You: The Photo of the Day might make you think of a certain classic Rolling Stones album.


  • “Ballot language for Proposition D, which would make San Diego’s strong-mayor form of government permanent, will include wording about the costs of creating a ninth council district, under a lawsuit settlement approved today,” City News Service reports. “Councilwoman Donna Frye filed the suit to force the mayor’s office to concede that it would cost the city a considerable amount of money to fund the new council seat.”

    Frye got $10,000 from the city for legal costs.

  • A former cadet at the Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad has sued the school, claiming he was brutalized by other students seven years ago in a hazing incident. . .,” the NCT reports, “one in a series of allegations facing the seaside boarding school.”
  • The alleged incident is reminiscent of an infamous hazing case at Rancho Bernardo High in 1997, which cost the local school district a bundle.
  • A new study blasts the qualifications of “cosmetic practitioners” working from San Diego to L.A.: almost 40 percent of those offering liposuction “had no specific surgical training.” (LAT)
  • A travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle loves her some Carlsbad.
  • Finally, the LAT writes about two new books of short stories — “Los Angeles Noir II” and “Orange County Noir.”

    Wait, authors have written noir stories about Orange County? Where the height of excitement is the Pageant of the Masters, where people stand around and pose like they’re in paintings?

  • San Diego deserves its own noir compilation. After all, Raymond Chandler used La Jolla as an inspiration for the town of “Esmeralda” in his last book, and he’s buried here. The La Jolla Library even used to hold a Chandler write-alike contest. (I won honorable mention once, thanks to lines like this: “She had two long legs and two shapely ankles. He did some quick addition and came up with a figure he liked.”)
  • It turns out that a book of San Diego noir is in the works. It just goes to show that wherever there’s sunshine, there’s shadow — and darkness.

What We’ve Learned This Week

County Pension Plan Would Have Been Illegal: Recently reporter Rob Davis wondered how a plan to outsource the county pension system’s investment team to the guy who came up with the plan to outsource it would be legal. So the system’s trustees decided to make sure others could bid. Now, it turns out it wouldn’t be legal to give him the contract at all. And, wouldn’t you know it, now that he can’t bid on it, they don’t want to outsource the team after all.

Clarity Outage: The power went out for 250,000 people the other night. Why? As the U-T discovered, it seems like we’re being kept in the dark

Up and Up, but Not Enough: Housing prices are on the rise, but home sellers still aren’t celebrating. What do they want? Our story has the answer.

Voters, Schmoters: A group of folks miffed about the San Diego school district’s direction is polling locals about the idea of adding four appointed positions to the school board. The idea is to insulate the board from voters. Several of our commenters are not amused.

A Boost (Maybe) for Barrio Logan: The city likes the idea of building a retail complex to bring badly needed retail and grocery stores to Barrio Logan. It liked the idea 20 years ago too. But now, it may be on the way to reality.

The Coffee Collection, Stories to Read over a Cup of Joe:

‘School’s Out for Summer’ Might Be for Real This Time: San Diego schools are so cash-strapped that they might dump summer school for virtually everybody, eliminating a crucial safety net for struggling students. (You can read more about the issue here in a follow-up post.)

Stop (Trash) Thief! San Diego’s Azalea Park neighborhood is best known for its attempts to woo gay people to move there. But it’s got a problem: people who swipe recyclables from curbside bins. We look at what the neighborhood is doing about it.

From Scary to Hairy: A barber shop moves into a decrepit Normal Heights house and becomes a beacon for renewal.

Quote of the Week: “Personally their decision shows that they need to take a shower and use some deodorant. They, quite simply, stink!” — An editorial in the Gay & Lesbian Times, slamming two gay leaders for supporting a gay candidate.


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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