San Diego – Would a City by Any Other Name be as Cool?

If you live in San Diego, there’s a good chance that you have no idea how the city (and county) was named. Well, San Diego was a real person, but not one who ever lived here.

Saint Didacus, painting courtesy San Diego Historical Society San Diego (born in 1400) was a Spanish peasant. He was named after St. James the Apostle the Greater, the Spanish patron saint. (Diego was a common alternate for Santiago or Saint James; In Latin, the name translated to Sanctus Didacus). Santiago joined the Franciscan order, and devoted his life to good works, prayer, and tending to the sick.

It is said that San Diego performed miracles. The most enduring tale about him is that he was caught sneaking some bread out to the poor. When his superior questioned him, asking what was under his cloak, he opened it and there were only flowers. Some considered this a miracle. It is also believed that after his death (in 1463 in Alcala, Spain), his relics cured Don Carlos, son of Philip II, of a grave illness.

San Diego was canonized (attaining sainthood) in 1588 by Pope Sixtus V, becoming Saint Diego (also known as St. Didacus).

When explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo first saw our bay in 1542, he named it San Miguel, because the archangel’s feast day (September 29) was the first full day his party spent here.

Later, on November 11, 1602, explorer Sebastian Vizcaino renamed it San Diego de Alcala de Henares because his flagship (the San Diego) was in the bay on their patron saint’s feast day. He claimed that the reason that he renamed this land is that Cabrillo’s observations were so inaccurate that he could not find the lands Cabrillo named.

So would this be the same town if it were San Miguel? I don’t think so. Vizcaino may have had no right to rename our fair city, but I’m glad he did. Aren’t you?

Cooling Down in the San Diego Heat

San Diego
San Diego

San Diego awakened this morning to glaring sunshine and warm, dry breezes. With temperatures rising into the eighties (and the nineties in outlying areas like Ramona), students across the county couldn’t wait to get out of school and cool off. Solar covers were flung off of swimming pools faster than a frisbee to a forehead, and anyone without a pool in the neighborhood probably spent their afternoon in the sprinklers or sitting in front of an air conditioner.

Tomorrow’s temperatures are predicted to be even higher, up to 98 degrees in Borrego Springs, continuing to rise on Wednesday morning.

This all might sound enviable if you’re looking at severe thunderstorms in Texas, or tornadoes in Kansas, but the San Diego weather is not without worries.

Just a few days ago the Union-Tribune reported that California is facing the worst fire conditions in almost a century.

Several indicators, especially fuel moisture levels, add up to tremendous fire potential

said San Diego fire Deputy Chief of Operations Jeff Carle. This is particularly frightening now, with the memory of the Cedar wildfire, which took 2,400 homes and fifteen lives, still fresh in our memories.

Historically, the state has declared fire season between May and June, but the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (CDF) declared that fire season started last Monday in San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties. Today they kicked off CAL FIRE Wildfire Awareness Week with a tour of public events, which should arrive in El Cajon on Friday.

For the elderly in particular, the heat can be both expensive and dangerous. If you live on the coast, you can do without air conditioning, letting the ocean breezes do the cooling on most days. Those living inland are not so lucky, and many of our aging population must forego air conditioning to cut down on expensive energy bills.

Each year, dozens of people, most of them elderly, die of heat-related causes in California. Hoping to save lives, San Diego’s Aging and Independence Services (AIS) is now coordinating Cool Zones, offering places for senior citizens to escape mid-day heat and reduce their own air conditioning use. People with special needs and the general public can also visit these sites, normally located in senior centers and public buildings.

SDG&E is working with AIS to enable seniors without transportation to get to a Cool Zones site. They are also offering free portable fans for seniors and the disabled, if they cannot afford them.

To find a Cool Zone in your community, call (800) 510-2020, or visit the Utility Consumers’ Action Network or the San Diego Eldercare Directory and click on your area under Cool Zone sites.