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Now-Rich Singer Hopes Success Is in the Bag

Forty-three-year-old Bruce Robbins of Chula Vista was a struggling musician who a few week ago was notified he won $1 million ($50,000 a year over 20 years) in a playing card contest sponsored by Glad, the bag people.

Robbins is still a struggling musician, but it doesn’t hurt so much anymore. He got his first installment Monday.

“I think I’m all through playing in bars around San Diego,” said Robbins, a guitarist-singer of country Western music despite his New Jersey upbringing.

Robbins said he hoped to someday get discovered on the bar circuit, but so far, no luck. The big bucks from Glad might help.

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“Now I can pay for some better demos and fly to Nashville to meet some people. You can’t meet those kind of people when you’re playing the bars in San Diego.”

Lookout Signal on Radio

The person who stole that gray, 4-door, 1982 Mercedes-Benz 300TD Friday morning from the parking lot at 5050 Murphy Canyon Road found himself the subject of an immediate, all-points bulletin on KSDO radio.

It’s not necessarily an anti-crime courtesy extended to all victims of car theft, though.

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The car bore the personalized license plates “KSDO.” It belonged to morning host Ernie Myers. So no wonder Roger Hedgecock asked his talk show listeners to be on the lookout for the Mercedes, and little wonder it made the news broadcast as well.

But Myers isn’t all that convinced that the broadcast paid off.

“He’s probably in Arizona by now,” Myers said an hour after discovering the theft. “And our signal doesn’t reach that far.”

To add insult to injury, the thief left another stolen car behind: a Chevy Chevette. “Guess he wanted to upgrade,” Myers said.

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A Sigh of Relief

Success seems to be in the bag for a small Escondido research and development firm, Southland Products Inc., whose new product line is raising eyebrows--and attracting customers--ranging from Ma Bell to the U.S. Army.

It’s called “Brief Relief, the Portable Pit Stop.”

It is a small plastic, disposal bag filled with polymers, enzymes, deodorants and some secret, but government-approved, material to coagulate, neutralize and deodorize its contents. It’s a high-tech replacement for a coffee can.

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Southland is an R&D; outfit that does a lot of work for Pacific Bell, like developing inclement weather canopies for work crews. The phone company had an earthier problem: how to get its underground cable-installation people to not use the pits for their pit stops. Southland came up with this porta-bag idea six months ago, and a patent search so far shows no other product like it, said President Ruth Young.

So far 20,000 bags are finished and 30,000 more are nearing completion. She sold 2,000 of them on the spot to one fellow last week at a trade show in Mission Valley.

The bags are for one-time use and can legally be dumped in a trash can afterward, she said. Retail price: $2.96.

The Pentagon people are interested in “Brief Relief” for stocking on helicopters and tanks, Young said. “Helicopters don’t have toilets and, while tanks have porta-potties, they smell to high heavens. They like our product because of its deodorizing properties,” she said.

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The product is being marketed under several names. To pilots of small airplanes, it’s called “Flight Extender.” For recreational boaters, it’s “Disposa-Head.” For backpackers, “Pocket Pit-Stop.” For truckers who hate to pull over, it’s known as “Fleet Relief.”

A rose by any other name . . .

A New Trick or Two

Finally, in our Back-to-School Department, these closing items:

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- Two classrooms at Encanto Elementary School are full of mentally gifted students who are studying the Pacific Rim countries. With the help of volunteer Yasuko Kawasaki, teachers Lois Gubitosi and Marilyn de la Torre taught the scholars some basic Japanese.

To show off their skills at a back-to-school open house last week, the children presented the play “Shinderera.” That’s “Cinderella” to the rest of us.

The play was presented with English subtitles on cue cards for the benefit of monolingual parents. Instead of a glass slipper, it was a silver Japanese geta (clog); the frumpy stepsisters pigged out after the ball on 42 sushi rolls.

- At Escondido’s Miller Elementary School, back-to-school night was combined with a science fair, where second-grader Aaron De Cerbo asked the question: “Do ants sleep at night?”

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He got an ant farm to find out, and hypothesized: “I think ants only take naps.” His conclusion:

“I watched them day and night for three weeks. I was right! They only take naps.”

Presumably, young Aaron is catching up on his sleep.


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