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NEIGHBORS : A ROUNDUP : It's Magic : Biology Teacher Pulls Out a Little Hocus-Pocus for Cinco de Mayo


As part of Westlake High School's Cinco de Mayo "Fiesta," biology teacher David Cooper will dazzle the crowd with a 15-minute magic act. Cooper is known on campus for using a little hocus-pocus to explain certain scientific principles, such as thermodynamics: "Energy can't be created or destroyed, it simply changes form," he said. "I do the torn and restored newspapers trick to show this."

And bacteria: "I take six dollar bills and continue to produce more bills. I end up with a pile of dollar bills. This is to illustrate the reproduction of bacteria, which is exponential."

Speaking of magic . . . pharmacist/magician Paul Dwork, owner of Charter Oaks Pharmacy and Merlin's Mystical Emporium, is putting the final touches on the pilot of "Merlin's World," a combination magic/science show he's trying to sell to the networks.

Where does a pharmacist learn magic?

"In the Army," he said. "My roommate was a magician. I didn't find the Army the most challenging investment of my time, so I practiced during idle moments and while doing tedious things."

And the best time to practice? "While I was walking guard duty," he said.

"I wasn't in Vietnam. It was Fort Benning, Ga. It wasn't a war zone or anything like that."

The city of Ventura recently handed out its volunteer of the year award. And the winner? Bob Vaughn.

Since September, the 62-year-old Vaughn has been putting in at least 12 hours a week, often more, with the Ventura Police Department's civilian police program. He processes daily crime reports for the Crime Analysis Division.

"I maintain a map that shows crimes that are reported, by dotting the map with different color-coated dots," he said.

Working around law enforcement has made Vaughn a much more wary person. "I was really enlightened to the amount of crime taking place that the average person doesn't know about," he said. "I'm certainly more aware of the potential for crime. I might be more cautious now where I park my car, if I have it secured, what I'm carrying in it that may appeal to someone else. I keep things concealed."

Ojai's Stacy Thompson, a 23-year-old free-lance model and formerly a teacher at the Les Man-I-Kinettes modeling school in Ventura, is teaching a class at Moorpark College called "White Gloves and Party Etiquette."

Its purpose is to teach 5- to 11-year-olds the proper way to conduct themselves.

She covers a number of the social graces, including:

Sitting: "Your hands don't touch the chair until your rear end touches the chair. Then you can slide your hands down to push yourself back."

Leg crossing: "I tell them there are special ways guys cross their legs and ways girls cross their legs. Guys either have both feet flat on the ground or they can have the ankle resting on the knee. Girls don't want to sit that way."

"They want to cross their ankles and make sure the knees are together."

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