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Fission for laughter 

I called Diablo Canyon last night. Don't ask me where I got the number or exactly who there I was calling. National security and all.

"Hello?" The voice at the other end was a bit surly. And tired.

"Yes, hi," I said, but I disguised my voice so nobody would know it was me. "Uh, is your reactor running?"

"Who is this?" Not the response I was hoping for, but I plowed ahead with my punch line anyway: "Well, you better catch it!"

I thought I was being original, but the person on the Diablo end said that I was the fourth person to call and try that gag since a fire in some sort of pipe or something shut down one of the reactors on Dec. 12. Details are sketchy. National security and all.

I waited a few minutes, and then called back.

"Hello?" The voice at the other end was still a bit surly. And even more tired.

"Yes, hi," I said, but I disguised my voice in a different way so nobody would know it was me again. "Uh, do you have Prince Albert in a can?"

Dial tone.

Some people just can't appreciate a good joke these days. Take outgoing county supe Shirley Bianchi. I would've thought that by now she could just throw her head back and laugh at what has to be the longest-running gag in local memory, but even with literally hours left on her watch, she's taking Los Osos seriously.

At a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, for instance, she said with a straight face that people were complaining about the latest Los Osos developments based on rumors and innuendo. I say, what else is there to complain about? Besides fact, I mean.

That's an important point, because fact isn't always readily available, but rumors always are. At that same supervisors meeting before the Farm Bureau came in and riled everybody up, by the way our man on the ground said that he booked it up and down between floors to try to find a file relevant to the proceedings, but ended up getting a little bit of the ol' runaround. The lesson is: When facts are scarce, rumors move in and make a comfortable home and start raising children.

Some of the big brouhaha at the meeting was brewing because the supervisors all agreed that Crawford Multari and Clark Associates should have a crack at alternatives in the sewer debacle.

"But wait!" some Los Ososites said. "Aren't they the ones behind Tri-W and all of that craziness?"

Maybe so, but everybody deserves a second chance, right? Maybe this time around, everything will fall into place perfectly, and rainbows and unicorns will transform the whole sewer project into a magic party.

Meanwhile, another part of the big brouhaha was brewing because it seems that Paavo Ogren and his fellow public-works cohorts are trying to put together a committee to look even further into the sewer-site issue, and hope that they'll manage to collect a diverse group of people, sort of like when a company decides to shove its two token minorities into a photo shoot for the product brochure see how diverse we are? except, in Los Osos' case, that mix would come not from ethnicity, but from people on opposite sides of the sewer saga. Can the metaphoric Jets and Sharks put down their switchblades and just dance? I've seen the end of the show, and it doesn't look good. Somebody gets shot, Maria cries. It's all so predictable.

Even Bruce Buel came up as someone who could potentially participate on the committee. There's a name I haven't heard in a while. The former Los Osos CSD general manager may or may not have fond memories of being intimately involved with so much raw sewage debate, but if I were him (and how do you know I'm not?) I'd fight back a gag reflex and toss the whole opportunity into the next set of warm hands that passed my way. Of course, I like to avoid conflict, so I might not be the best person to ask about this.

Anyway, I could sum it all up by saying that history repeats itself, but I think that's less the case here than the same names coming up over and over again in new ways. Isn't there a saying that implies that people who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it? Or eat it?

Fortunately, I'm not one of those people. I'm going to call Diablo again. This time, they're going to laugh.

Old food for thought

At the tail end of November, five ladies at the Tribune penned a column in which they said how important it is for voters to know who's influencing an election. Without naming any names, I have to say that I seem to remember that someone involved with writing that opinion was somehow mentioned in relation to a PG&E scandal back in the early '90s. My memory's a bit fuzzy, but I recall allegations that the energy company lent out one of its employees to help with a campaign for a county supervisor who liked PG&E more than his opponent did.

At the time, there was a lot of talk about money and contributions and who was scratching various backs, so it all sounded a lot like the ongoing Measure J talk sounds now. Is anyone else ready to stuff cotton in their ears and focus on another letter of the alphabet? How about Q? When's the last time anybody brought up Q?

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