Forty years ago, Dean Ing came to San Diego to have his broken ankle fixed.
He was an Air Force crew chief at a base in Yuma, Ariz. He was sent to the Balboa Naval Hospital for a patch-up. He still remembers the nurses.
He's been back this way several times since: Usually to visit the San Diego Zoo. He's interested in "inter-species communications."
He's interested in lots of things: survivalism (he's written for survivalist magazines), rocketry, experimental aircraft (two decades as an aerospace engineer), race cars, fly fishing, indoor farming, and the uses and misuses of language (a doctorate in communications from the University of Oregon).
Now he's returned to San Diego to push his latest techno-thriller novel, "The Nemesis Mission," about a solar-powered aircraft and a fight between the Air Force, the CIA and a Latin American drug cartel.
Doing an interview with Ing is like getting a drink of water from a fire hose: "I have lots of firm opinions--most of them wrong, but at least they're mine."
He says things like, "Synthesis is more important than analysis." And, "If you can't change the facts, change the language." And, "The future is in psycho-acoustics."
He thinks women should buy his books because they have believable women characters. He explains:
"I have nothing but four daughters and a wife. All professional types. All mean as junkyard dogs. My family has more hard noses than Mt. Rushmore."
He was on a presidential advisory board on space policy. He prefers the term "speculative fiction" to the comic booky "science fiction."
Ing, 60, lives in Ashland, Ore. Ask him why, and he'll tell you that studies have shown that crowding causes cannibalism in rats and deer, and he figures the same is true with humans in big cities.
Ask him about his watch, and he'll tell you he got it from a former Army artillery spotter who used it to time the shelling of the Bridge at Remagen in World War II.
Ask him about his next book after "Nemesis," and he'll tell you he got the idea from Operation Desert Storm:
"Some Iraqi fissionable material is missing. It's not used for a bomb but for something far more chilling . . . ."
Adulterated Brain Food
A city in motion.
* Those rascals at the San Diego Mensan, the publication for the brainy set, are at it again with their high I.Q. sense of humor.
The November edition has a gag ad for "Old Fisherman Tuna. The Tuna With The 2% Difference."
The ad guarantees 2% dolphin meat in Old Fisherman, rather than that bland dolphin-less stuff being pushed by environmentally correct competitors.
* Arrested in Vista: A Spanish-speaking driver for driving under the influence and hit-run.
On his bumper was a Mothers Against Drunk Drivers sticker, with the international red slash, and the plea, "Por Favor."
* A cow at the school farm at Valley Center Middle School is named M.C. Heifer.
* How strong is the brew at the Kensington Coffee Co.? Overheard from three paramedics drinking some: "Boy, we'll be ready for a multi-patient after this."
* Cheers for a politician.
Actor Ted Danson is the headliner Friday at a $250 a plate fund-raiser for Rep. Bill Lowery (R-San Diego). For the super well-heeled, a $1,000 private reception with Danson & Lowery precedes the dinner.
* San Diego bumper sticker: "Body by Nautilus. Brain by Mattel."
Just One of Those Days
Speaking of strange Halloweens, San Diego Union reporter Greg Gross figures someone was trying to tell him something.
First thing Thursday he picked up his newspaper and saw that the person he was scheduled to interview later in the day had died.
Then he got bad news at Kaiser Permanente Hospital: lose weight and lower your blood pressure or else.
Still reeling, he got to work and found a newsletter from the San Diego Hospice in his mailbox.
He says he spent the rest of the day checking to see if he was in danger of being run over by a truck. Sounds like a healthy move.