Your neighborhood supermarket can be such a lovely place, especially when it’s equipped with its own café and bank. But don’t get too comfortable in there.

After eight months of negotiations, the union representing Southern California grocery workers gave a 72-hour walkout notice on Thursday. Workers are frustrated by a lack of progress on the funding of a healthcare benefits fund for employees. Without adequate funding, the health benefits fund will go bankrupt.

The earliest there could be a supermarket strike is 7 p.m. Sunday, though it could still be averted and it won’t necessarily begin right away.

“We never wanted a strike,” said Mickey Kasparian, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135 in San Diego. “We could negotiate and we could get a deal within 72 hours. That’s always been our goal.” (U-T)

The Art of Coaster Maintenance

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While everyone panicked over the great white shark sighting in Mission Bay last month, perhaps they could have been worrying about the rickety roller coaster just steps away from the shore instead.

The Giant Dipper, originally built in 1925, takes a daily beating from the salty ocean air and is constantly being threatened by corrosion. Side effects of its beachfront locale include rusted rails and decaying tie boards.

In a story that also ran in San Diego Magazine, Adrian Florido spent some time with a group of mechanics tasked with keeping the iconic coaster safe and operating — a job that can cost between $75,000 and $300,000 a year.

Photographer Sam Hodgson took some postcard-like snapshots that will make you want to call in sick and take a ride, like, immediately.

Just The Way It Is

Who needs a new football stadium when the one the Chargers have is beautiful just as it is?

That’s an idea a team of local architects is throwing out in the search to find San Diego’s football team a new home. Their plan involves renovating the 44-year-old Qualcomm.

The major remodel, which they say would preserve an important piece of local architecture, would include modernized locker rooms and press box, wider concourses, better technology as well as additional restaurants, lounges, premium seating and bathrooms.

The price is estimated at $250 million, or one-fourth the cost of a new stadium.

But don’t get your hopes up, Mission Valley fans. Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani likens a remodel to putting lipstick on pigskin. (U-T)

The Myth of Mozart

Described often as the most heart-wrenching music piece in the world, Mozart’s “Requiem” became a popular choice for choirs and ensembles looking to memorialize the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

But because the composer left the piece unfinished when he died in 1791, it’s also associated with rumors and myths. Kelly Bennett further explores the mystery surrounding “Requiem,” a topic that’s currently being discussed among San Diego art circles.

A Double Dose of SD Explained

Adrian Florido and NBC San Diego’s Catherine Garcia explain how City Heights has become the refugee capital of the United States on the latest SD Explained.

And bonus! Scott Lewis tells you why Saturday’s Politifest at Liberty Station will be like American Idol, only with beer and a bounce house.

Fact Checking the New Yorker

It’s never all that shocking when Fact Check uncovers a false statement from a politician. But a mistake in our beloved New Yorker magazine? Gasp!

Liam Dillon looked into a Sept. 5, 2011, article by Tad Friend about the poisonous pension politics in Orange County’s Costa Mesa. Friend referenced San Diego when discussing rising pension costs across the state:

“Retirement costs are projected to consume one-third of Los Angeles’s budget by 2015, and half of San Diego’s budget by 2025,” he wrote.

That projection, technically, is false. San Diego’s retirement system estimates the citywide pension payment in 2025 will be $468 million. The city’s current budget is $2.8 billion. The pension payment in 2025 would make up 17 percent of the budget.

Will Work for Tuition

Going to UCSD may soon cost as much as going to Stanford if the University of California Regents pass a multi-year budget plan that would fill future budget shortfalls with fundraising and tuition increase.

Under the proposal, no increase in state contributions to the system over the next four years would trigger tuition increases of 16 percent each of those years. That means it could cost $22,000 a year to attend a UC School. Stanford University, a private institution, is about $26,500.

Though Regents discussed the proposal Thursday, they won’t vote on it until November. And it’s already receiving criticism by a high-profile Regent, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“I reject its conclusions,” he said. “I mean — I will not support something that puts us on the path that we’re going to settle this on the backs of the students.” (KPBS)

But do they teach surfing at Stanford?

San Diego State University unveiled its Center for Surf Research, the first academic institution devoted to surfing.

The inaugural symposium is titled “The Audacity of Stoke” and the first field research mission will take academics to the beaches and surf resorts of Peru.

Sounds mellow, brah, but SDSU officials insist the center is a serious attempt to understand the culture and economic power of what has become a $7-billion global industry. (LA Times)

Library Thief Hoards More than Books

The woman found hoarding thousands of books and DVDs from San Diego County libraries last month had more than just a robust book collection.

Police also discovered 43 guns and rifles, including a 1936 German Mauser, a sniper rifle and a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle. (NC Times)

Best Place to Lose your Wallet

Chargers fans may be crazy face painters, but don’t you dare call them thieves.

After a Qualcomm server tripped and lost nearly $1,000 in the stands, fans helped collect the stray bills and, within 10 minutes, she had all her money back. (U-T)

Please contact Nina Garin at

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