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Lobdell: Here's what's pulling my heartstrings

February 15, 2011

It's the day after Valentine's Day, and I'm still full of red-hot passion. Here's where my heart lies:

I'm in love with the proposed submarine base in Newport Harbor. It has a very James Bond vibe to it. Newport Beach yachtsman Chris Welsh (I wonder if he lives in a lair) wants to put a deep-sea sub on a 125-foot catamaran moored in the bay.

Walsh plans to pilot the sub to the deepest reaches of the world's five oceans — an inverse version of summiting the highest mountain on each of the Earth's seven continents. I'm guessing he's not claustrophobic.

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If Welsh needs a co-pilot to take his submarine on a test spin across the Catalina Channel, I'll be the first to volunteer. Also, I hope he has a filmmaker documenting his historic quest. It would be worth watching.

I'm in love with the Newport Beach kids training at night in the Corona del Mar High School pool to qualify for the junior lifeguard training program. I swim there regularly at night, and kids come with their parents each February with the regularity of the swallows to San Juan Capistrano.

Each boy or girl has distinct personalities that are revealed once hitting the water. Some start with a flurry, only to find themselves clinging breathless to the lane line halfway across the pool. Others swim cautiously, knowing that four laps can be a great distance to navigate at one time.

The parents may be more fun to watch. They clock their kids' 100-yard efforts, hoping that the youngsters can swim under the qualifying times (which start at 1:55 for 9-year-olds and get progressively faster for older groups). In the process, they will encourage, yell, pace the pool deck and even bribe their kids with promised treats in order to get their times lowered.

The process looks to be tougher on Mom and Dad than their offspring.

I'm in love with Lucille Kuehn and her spirit. Though Lucille's body has started to betray her in its ninth decade, the Newport Coast resident hasn't let rheumatoid arthritis stop her longtime civic activism.

The former Newport Beach councilwoman and library trustee (she was the person most responsible for building the city's beautiful Central Library) keeps up with local affairs, still has a razor-sharp mind and gets involved whenever she believes it's necessary.

I smiled last week when I saw that she was among the Ronald Reagan statue protesters at the Arts Commission meeting. She travels mostly by wheelchair these days, but she found a way to get there.

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