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    No place like home: Bookseller D. G. Wills sets annual St. Patrick's Day fete
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Mar 05, 2015 | 2659 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    With his faithful sentry on guard, D. G. Wills is the safest one in his bookstore. PHOTO BY DAVE SCHWAB
    With his faithful sentry on guard, D. G. Wills is the safest one in his bookstore. PHOTO BY DAVE SCHWAB
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    La Jolla has changed. D.G. Wills hasn’t. Nor has his brick-and-mortar bookstore at 7461 Girard Ave. A wooden Indian still guards the door. Books are stacked floor to ceiling. Most days, Wills can be found in his easy chair jawing with guests. Despite changing times, the dawn of the Information Age and the ongoing conversion from print to electronics, D.G. Wills just keeps on going. “My world is here,” confided Wills. “It could be argued that I live here.” Wills came to La Jolla shortly after the 1960 founding of UCSD with the intention of setting up shop near the campus. But he had to settle for 7527 La Jolla Blvd. in a structure that is now a hair salon. He moved to his present location in the early '90s and remodeled it, putting in new redwood ceilings. Though he couldn’t locate his bookstore at UCSD, Wills has benefited via his close relationship with many of the university’s professors over the years. He's been fortunate enough to acquire many of their personal libraries, adding that fare to his broad and somewhat eclectic collection. “Students come in here looking for math, physics, the history of medicine,” said Wills, noting, “I’m very strong in technical books, poetry, literature, art.” Wills has books in different languages servicing La Jolla’s international clientèle. You can get a book there by Homer in Greek or by Cicero in Latin. “We even carry Dr. Seuss and Harry Potter in Latin,” Wills said, adding, “We have more than 100 categories: lots of music books, architecture, design and décor.” One thing that hasn’t changed is his annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration, featuring literary readings of Irish poetry and prose, now in its 35th year. “Oral history is important in bookstores,” said Wills about the event’s purpose. “It brings people together and gets them talking and thinking about all sorts of ideas. It was wilder when we were younger, sometimes going until midnight or 1 p.m.” Wills’ St. Pat’s Day fests tend to be larger when they fall on a Friday or Saturday. “I’d thought of stopping that (readings),” admitted Wills, But he added, “At this point it would make too many people unhappy if we stopped. We’re sort of stuck with it. So ever year it continues, and will as long as we’re reasonably healthy.” Good times are had by all at these happenings. Musicians sometimes perform. Wills serves refreshments. Harp and Guinness beers and Irish whiskey are dispensed. The event used to be catered, though food now is mostly potatoes, which aren’t too messy. Wells said the March 17 event starts out slow and is more family friendly early on but that it turns more adult — and ribald — as the evening progresses. “I play a tape of James Joyce reading from Finnegan’s Wake,” said Wills of the event kickoff. “Then people start readings for four or five minutes before the next person.” Wills takes pains that readings don’t run on and that guest’s takes remain “crisp and fresh.” The X-rated parts come nearer the end of the evening. That’s when Joyce’s juicy letters to his wife get trotted out. “People laugh and find it very entertaining,” Wills said. “They are explicit. They’re funny.” The store is also notable for its guest appearances by renowned authors. The list includes Norman Mailer (1995), Allen Ginsberg (1994), U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins (2001-03), Gore Vidal (2005) and several Nobel laureates including Francis Crick, a co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule. Wills is also notable for having driven “Mrs. Santa Claus” in his early model Ford hot rod in La Jolla’s annual Christmas parade for 20 years. It was fun. But these days, he’d just as soon be watching football on the weekend. An early L.A. Rams fan, Wills has experienced a favorite team leaving its hometown, adding he hope that doesn’t happen here. “Some teams move,” he lamented. “I hope the Chargers stay in San Diego. I like the team. I like the new coach and general manager.” DG Wills is open seven days a week. Hours used to be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. but are now 10 to 7 most days and 11 to 5 on Sundays. Wills said his bookstore will continue for the foreseeable future. “We never know how long we’re going to last,” he said, adding, “I have a pretty good time here. There’s always something to do. I never quite get caught up. It’s a good problem.”
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    Birch fish story(ies) to unfold at San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering
    Mar 04, 2015 | 2480 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    La Jolla's Birch Aquarium is renowned for its special events programming on aquatic life, and its seaside backdrop acts as the perfect complement for a curious general public. That's probably why organizers of the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering, set for March 14 through 21, picked the Birch as one of its anchors again this year – that programming, after all, is the product of exhaustive scientific research designed for learning, interaction and behind-the-scenes opportunities for kids in grades kindergarten through 12th grade and their families to ignite love for all things science. More than 60,000 kids, parents, scientists, educators and community members participated in the festival's 35 events countywide last year, and officials expect the same number during the upcoming week. For its part, Birch will present installments for four hours each day of the festival, programs designed to get minds thinking and hands moving. Each day of the week will present an ocean-related topic from plankton to whales. Kid-friendly lab tours at the aquarium will include a look at a hydraulics lab, featuring a wind wave channel, a wave flow channel, a deep tank and pressure testing. The Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP), featuring the science of wave measurement, swell modeling and forecasting and the analysis of coastal environment data, is another of the behind-the-scenes attractions. Festival week culminates March 21 with EXPO Day, with more than 130 local businesses, corporations and organizations providing interactive, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math exhibits and activities to K-12 science lovers. Kids will also have a chance to talk to officials from local colleges, eager to discuss their school's programs and science-related majors. EXPO Day, set from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Petco Park, is free and open to the public. Other exhibit venues and organizations include San Diego Miramar College, the San Diego River Park Foundation, San Diego Junior Theatre and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. For a schedule and list of activities and venues, see lovestemsd.org. The festival is sponsored by Illumina, a San Diego bioanalysis firm that recognizes science and technology as a vital part of everyday life.
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    THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME?
    Mar 02, 2015 | 4056 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Our strange weather whips up all sorts of things, from waterspouts to hail to snow to rainbows like this one. Contributor Sandy Lippe caught it at La Jolla Shores during a walk the morning of March 2, asserting that it's a sign of good luck throughout the month of March.
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    Secret Garden Tour, set for May 16, is a nod to past and future
    by LINDA MARRONE
    Feb 27, 2015 | 7055 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Linda Marrone's garden was featured in the 2001 Secret Garden Tour. PHOTO BY LINDA MARRONE
    Linda Marrone's garden was featured in the 2001 Secret Garden Tour. PHOTO BY LINDA MARRONE
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    What began as an idea a friend and I had over a cup of coffee has blossomed into an event we are pleased to say has become a perennial La Jolla favorite. Now in its 17th year, the Secret Garden Tour will take place on Saturday, May 16, to benefit the La Jolla Historical Society. My and Susan Vandendriesse's reason for starting the tour was to make people aware of the historical society's efforts to preserve our unique seaside community. Susan and I are honored to have been chosen this year's honorary chairs. Over the years, the tour has provided insight into horticulture and gardening and into the history of our community by showcasing a diverse selection of private gardens, their locales ranging from intimate historic cottages to grand estates that capture the community's timeless charm and casual elegance. Additionally, the tour has allowed us to share the many stories La Jolla residents have shared about the neighborhood's past and their efforts to preserve its charm and character for future generations to enjoy. We hope you will join us and celebrate spring by taking this rare opportunity to stroll behind the gates of cherished La Jolla gardens, where you will also be treated to artists painting garden scenes, live music and designers' stylish, entertaining displays. On the day of the tour, the Secret Garden Tour Boutique and Gift Faire will take place on the grounds of the society's Wisteria Cottage, 780 Prospect St. The faire, open to the public, will feature artisans and vendors selling a variety of garden-themed items. There are two styles of tours to choose from. The self-guided tour allows you to take the tour at your leisure in any order. The Platinum Tour is guided and includes brunch, shuttle service to the garden locations and access to an exclusive garden open only to Platinum Tour patrons.   Susan and I would like to thank the committee members and volunteers who have worked tirelessly, now and over the years, to make the tour the success it is today. We nurtured it as a seedling and are delighted to see how nicely it has grown and blossomed! More information about the tour can be found on the society's website, LaJollaHistory.org, or by calling (858) 459-5335. – Linda Marrone is a local Realtor with Coldwell Banker. Pictures of her garden have been featured in local and national magazines.
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    The art of science is alive at STEAMConnect
    Feb 26, 2015 | 3034 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    STEAMConnect seeks to combine art, science and creativity in support of 21st-century innovation. COURTESY PHOTO
    STEAMConnect seeks to combine art, science and creativity in support of 21st-century innovation. COURTESY PHOTO
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    More than 500 educators, school administrators, nonprofits, parents, business leaders, funders and policymakers from around the U.S. who share a common interest in bridging the arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in education – two often siloed worlds – will convene in San Diego for the second annual STEAMConnect Ascend Conference Wednesday and Thursday, March 4 and 5, with La Jolla's UCSD Extension among its founding sponsors. Under this year’s theme, “Moving from Dialogue to Action,” conference attendees will share practices and new ideas about the impact of the STEAM movement on education policy, funding, industry innovation and the community. The full conference agenda is available at steamconnect.org/2015-sessions-booths-workshops/. STEAMConnect is designed to bridge the arts and STEM communities, providing space for connection and cross-sector collaboration through an annual conference, quarterly networking events and strategic partnerships. We share resources and best practices to our network of educators, nonprofits, business leaders and policymakers to support and further the STEM and STEAM movements nationwide. STEAMConnect was founded in 2012 by KDR PR and UCSD Extension and is a fiscally sponsored project of Mission Edge San Diego. On Wednesday, March 4, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., attendees, speakers, sponsors and community members will gather for a welcome reception to celebrate the start of STEAMConnect 2015 at SILO in Makers Quarter, 753 15th St. in the Upper East Village, a neighborhood anchored by artists, makers and entrepreneurs. On Thursday, March 5, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., attendees of the main conference will hear from 19 speakers, visit 11 spotlight booths featuring STEAM activities and resources and have the chance to experience three different hands-on workshops at Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall, 5775 Morehouse Drive. Tickets are available at STEAMConnect.org. “There is an important window of opportunity in education right now to make real, substantive change,” said Kim Richards, co-founder of STEAMConnect and founder of KDR PR, a public relations firm serving the education community. “The change we’re focused on is how we can more thoughtfully combine arts, design and creativity with STEM knowledge to support our growth and innovation in the 21st century. The STEAMConnect conference provides a forum to hear from thought leaders, explore what’s working, share promising practices and make new connections.” Topics covered during the conference will include the latest policy efforts nationally and in California, case studies from pre-K-12 schools, researchers and postsecondary programs, cross-sector collaborations between business, school districts, higher education and nonprofits as well as perspectives from the funding community. The San Diego County Office of Education will offer two professional development workshops, and the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab will be open for exploration throughout the day. STEAMConnect, in partnership with NewSchool of Architecture & Design, will unveil a student-designed pavilion as a focal point of the welcome reception that will become an annual student design competition. There will also be performances, local food and drinks and networking. Qualcomm Incorporated returns this year as conference site sponsor along with additional sponsors Boeing, Classroom of the Future Foundation, UCSD Extension, University of San Diego School of Leadership and Education Sciences, Academy of Our Lady of Peace and NewSchool of Architecture & Design. In-kind support comes from Sketch for Schools and PGK Dance Project.
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