Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Power outage

Had a very short power outage tonight around 7:35 p.m., about 5 seconds or so.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The highway 130 and Pombo

I thought for some time that building a new freeway along the route 130 was a great idea. Not much was heard about it these days, though from time to time I hit references to the project in various lefty blogs with smears against Richard Pombo, who spearheads the project in the public policy arena and happens to be a Republican. I am happy to see those, because every such posting signals that the project is alive. Here's a recent one: "Rep. Richard Pombo's Conflict?". It's in an interesting blog in general, BTW. The poster is knowledgeable, up to date on the latest developments, and is civil. Too bad I am yet to read anyone of such inclination to mention evils of public transportation. Everybody talks about densities, miles, and efficiency only. For public transportation is evil, make no mistake. It's a dehumanizing technique of classic industrial and collectivist society. I rode public transit for 33 years without rest, and enough is enough. Maybe I ought to keep tabs on Pombo and help along?

Gearbox work with J&M

Sent the Galant today to J&M, which is one of the better automotive shops in town. Unfortunately, they specialize on transmissions. They also do suspensions and brakes. The grand total is $300: $80 for automatic service, $192 for new front pads and turned rotors, the rest is taxes.

On the way there, at noon, a (presumably) funeral procession was going from the big Catholic church at Eaton the cemetery down south by MacArthur, and blocked 11th for a few minutes. They weren't terribly obnoxious, just a little. And the number of cars was remarkable. Easily 25 vehicles, if not more. I did not get to see the front of the column.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Car rentals in Tracy

The AVIS place in the Right Aid plaza (at Corall Hollow and Grant Line) always was the price leader for car rentals, but they closed a couple of years ago. Our local Hertz in downtown is always a disappointment; also they migrated to GM vehicles but kept Ford prices. And GM lineup was always trash until the arrival of Vibe (not sure if our Hertz has it though). When they darted ship, Morri Ford booted the other Hertz, and in its place they invited Enterprise. So, Enterprise has three locations now: the old Enterprise, Morri, and some random place.

The pricture was rather bleak, but we have Toyota now. They are quite quirky in one way: they never pick up the phone. I'm not kidding. One must leave them a message and then wait for a call (which may not happen, or may happen in a few hours). Getting there in person is a much better way to engage their attention. Once that hurdle is cleared, they are pleasant and reasonable people, offering good prices for great vehicles. I rented a Scion xB from them for a week for about 200 bucks. It was a 1400 miles price. Yes, their pricing structure involves mileage limits.

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

Rotating post.

There may be no other postings to this blog, but readers always know which bin to put to the curb.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Tara Tinsley

This is getting unhealthy, but I was looking around for things happening in Tracy and found that we have a singer based locally, Tara Tinsley. Pretty interesing, though not my thing. But by all means check out sample tracks. If nothing else, it will test the integration of your browser with the streaming audio.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Fertilizing lawns

My front lawn sprinkler system has some problems with coverage. In a couple of places, water from a popup sprinkler passes over a spot without watering it. This makes the lawn look spotty. After significant and unsuccessful tinkering with watering modes, sprinklers, fertilizers, and even water traps, I observed that the grass really goes wild where I drive shrub feed stakes into the ground. I took a wedge, crushed it with a hammer and pressed fragments into the ground in the worst spot. The result was a dark green spot. Well, anything is better... But it's interesting how the chemicals make the grass to accept the water better. This may have some significant implications for the consumption of water.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

TRASH @West: Recycling

Rotating post.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Invasion of Chinese Buffets: the depression

Man, buffets are getting squeezed, and no mistake. My favourite, the Tracy Buffet, is now closed on Mondays. I am curious which one will be the first to fold. The best thing for me personally would be if Hometown Buffet in the mall collapsed first, because I do not go there ever since better options had appeared.

Monday, August 15, 2005

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

Sorry for the late post.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Beef tongue and FoodMaxx

Americans do not like the beef tongue as a rule, and so it's not being sold in big chain stores such as Safeway. Fortunately, our FoodMaxx caters to Mexicans and so they have it. It is really yummy, and is easy to cook. Basically, throw it into the water and boil (well, in reality it's not quite as simple... google for recipies). Hurray for diversity.

Speaking of FoodMaxx, I am disappointed. The old FoodMaxx in Fremont used to accept credit cards, which is what made it prefereable to Food4Less. So, there was a glimmer of hope when Safe&Final bought both chains and then unified them as FoodMaxx. Unfortunately, it was in the name only. Sure, they dropped FoodMaxx's black-and-yellow color scheme and replaced it with ugly blue and a little yellow (are they trying to remind about Ukraine or IKEA?). But nothing else changed, and FoodMaxx in Tracy does not accept credit cards, just as before.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Albertson's wins, in a way

Safeway stopped stocking Gerolsteiner brand of mineral water, which my wife considers the only mineral water suitable for drinking (Pelegrino? Bleah!). Fortunately, Albertson's continues to carry it. I do not like Albertson generally. First of all, I live closer to Safeway. Also, their cakes are worse, their bread is worse, and on and on and on. But at least the dreaded self-service counter system started to work more or less. Maybe I should give them a try for all specialty purchases.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

TRASH @West: Recycling

Rotating post.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Donuts in Tracy, CA

Back in 2000, we used to have 4 donut shops, none of which were run by actual Cambodians. They were: Mark's Yogurt & Dounts near the Safeway (now Smart&Final), Tracy Donuts behind the 76 station in the Radio Shack's plaza, the place near old Mix, and the one behind the Blockbuster at 11th. They also were quite different. The Mark's place was clean, cheerful, and expensive. They rolled into ice-cream mode as the day started. The "Mix" supplied nice and unique Mexican bakery for those who wanted something else. The behind-Blockbuster place was the only one which baked French Cruller. Only Tracy Donuts was a rather bland, unimpressive establishement.

None of these four places were up to the standard of the donut shop in Fremont's Irvington District, in the Safeway plaza. It was run by Cambodians, used finest flour, and was squeaky clean.

I had an opportunity to revisit these places now, and in 2005 there were some changes. The "Mix" shop closed and reopened as a taqueria, which was a shame. But the Tracy Donuts apparently had a change in ownership. It is run by Cambodeans now. Naturally, the taste of donuts improved dramatically. The French is on the menu. They seem to be a little weak on the custard filled items for some reason, but that's about the only thing to complain about. Way to go. I hope it stays this way for a few years.