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Around the South Bay

'Miracle cat' Justine seems destined to make full use of all nine lives.

August 25, 1994

THE CAT COMES BACK: She just keeps going . . . and going . . . and going.

Justine, who has roamed the rustic book stacks at the Either/Or Bookstore in Hermosa Beach for more than a decade, recently has waged a battle against pancreatic cancer.

That is only the latest misfortune to strike the short-haired 13-year-old black cat, who suns frequently on the latest copies of GQ magazine near the front of the shop on Pier Avenue.

About a decade ago, Justine's beautiful black coat was pelted with white enamel paint sprayed from a curb-painting machine that passed the storefront, said manager Peter Pott. Veterinarians had to shave nearly half the hair on her body.

Then, about 14 months ago, Justine underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer after a small tumor was found near her belly. She survived, only to be attacked three weeks later by a big dog on a long leash. The dog bit Justine's head and broke her jaw.

"We thought they'd probably put her to sleep," said veterinarian Alice Villalobos, who has treated Justine for nearly a decade. Instead, Justine's owner asked that veterinarians wire her jaw shut, and the cat recovered.

That was not all. During the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake, a stack of books fell near her, and she was taken to the vet for observation.

Then, last month, Justine underwent surgery again for pancreatic cancer. She is undergoing chemotherapy and taking herbal medication "to balance her emotions as part of a holistic approach," Villalobos said. Signs are encouraging: The cancer has gone into remission, she said.

"She's the miracle cat," Villalobos said. "It's just amazing."

*

OUT IN A BREEZE: When the winds start to blow, John King starts to feel good vibes.

An avid windsurfer, King's pager vibrates every time gusts are just right to get out on the water, even if he is on the job as a Hughes Aircraft Co. business administrator.

The Manhattan Beach resident has wired himself into a new service, Call of the Wind, that pages customers when local wind conditions reach 13 m.p.h.--nearly perfect for windsurfing.

"I used to waste half a day driving to a beach to find no wind," King said.

No more. The service, which started a year and a half ago, monitors breezes at 14 of California's most spectacular windsurfing locales, from Seal Beach to the Sacramento River Delta.

The wind speeds are measured by an anemometer, a gauge that sends digital information to an automated voice machine. The wind readings are updated every eight seconds. The company charges its customers $16 to $21 a month.

For King, it's worth it. He sometimes leaves work early to windsurf off of Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, and the device has saved hours of fruitless travel.

"As soon as it beeps, I'm gone," King said. "And within 45 minutes I'm on the water. It's great."

*

THE BIG HOUSE: Even by Palos Verdes Estates standards, the Chen family's new home is a big place.

In fact, their Via Visalia residence is believed to be the largest in the South Bay. It is a whopping 28,000 square feet.

The owners are Tei Fu Chen and his wife, Oi Lin, who own Sunrider International, a Torrance-based health food and cosmetics company. The Chens and their five children plan to move into the home in the next few weeks, once 50 or so workers complete landscape and interior design work, said Sunrider attorney Bill Grayson.

The seven-bedroom home includes a pub and a $7,500 koi fish pond, as well as a master bedroom that includes an exercise room, according to sources familiar with the home. The Chens had another home torn down on their 2.2-acre property to make room.

The price tag? No one is saying.

But the house probably would be listed at $15 million to $18 million if it were sold today, said Jim Zappulla, manager of the RE/Max Rolling Hills Estates.

The Chens won't be selling any time soon, however, Grayson said.

"They hope to have the home for a lifetime," he said.

*

THE GAMBLING KIND: Inglewood's Hollywood Park Casino was giving away money last weekend. But only to stars.

The new casino gave celebrities $500 each and turned them loose with only one rule: What you win goes to your favorite charity.

And win they did. The likes of Tony Curtis, Cheech Marin and James Farentino raised more than $24,000.

"Cheech (Marin) and Tony (Curtis) kept things going" by joking around and keeping things light, casino spokesman Tyrone Smith said. "You'd think they had played together all the time."

The biggest winner of the night: Richard Karn of "Home Improvement." He played seven-card stud poker and won $5,000 for cancer research and $1,000 for the Los Angeles Free Clinic.

Other games of choice for the celebrity gamblers? Texas hold 'em and California aces, a new game similar to blackjack in which players work to get 22 instead of 21.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"I feel pretty good. I won the right race."

--Ron Florance, who lost the Republican primary in the 36th Congressional District but won a battle against cancer. J3

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