Friday, June 30, 2006


This is getting into some kind of garbage blog, I swear.

About 15 minutes ago, at 1:35 a.m., I went to take out the bins. The neighbours from across were not asleep yet, and their garage was open. But apparently, noises of my activity reminded them what day this is, so a lady living there went out to do the necessary things. This is what passes for a bustling night life in Tracy, I suppose...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

So, Pombo is good for something

I'll be damned. Reading newspapers, you'd think that all Pombo was doing was going on vacations for the purposes of embezzelment. Hah. So, I was reading an article by accident and this is what it says:

There’s even good news from Washington on the energy front. The House Resources Committee, chaired by California Republican Richard Pombo, has just delivered the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act, which will give coastal states the authority to drill 100 miles or more offshore. This will allow for exploration and production in the deep seas and on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), where kajillions in oil-and-gas reserves are waiting to be siphoned. It also will provide the coastal states with significant oil and gas royalties. Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi opposes this, but the bill has strong bipartisan support.

(Larry Kudlow, NRO, June 27, 2006)

I would argue with Larry about the oil prices, e.g. Hubert's Peak and yada yada, but this is not the point of this post. The point being... the Government and Congress in general, and good old Pombo in particular, continue their (futile, in my opinion) struggle to keep oil prices down. The funniest part is, since the prices are bound to raise anyway, all he (they) can do is to reduce the rate at which they climb. That must be one thankless job. But oh well. They are all volunteers.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

No ridge vents

I talked to the roof inspector Eric about the ridge vent system. He strongly dissuaded me from doing it. According to Eric, Tracy has a lot of rain with strong winds and this water invariably gets inside. There is no reliable way to protect a ridge vent system from the wind-blown rain. It has not have big enough openings and an uncomplicated airflow path to be effective.

So, the alternative is to install an attic fan. In my case, the best choice seems to be a solar fan going through the roof, in a manner similar to a skylight. Eric estimated that the job can be done for about $150, which seems unbelievably cheap to me.

Something like this may work:

Monday, June 26, 2006

Birch trees

I dunno what he was thinking, but one of the previous owners planted a cluster of 3 birch trees in my front lawn. Our climate does not suit them. And apparently this season I wasn't watering the trees enough, so one of them decided to collapse. It leafs turned yellow and the tree started shedding them. So my lawn boasts pretty autumn colors now, only it's June. When I noticed that, I ran to adjust the watering system, to keep the other two trees from following suit.

Sometimes I think that it would be right to put these three out of their misery and plant some native tree, all knotty and with spikes for leaves. Or a palm, or something.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

TRASH @West: Recycling

Recycling this week.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Late (or later) dining

I am back from Yoshi's just now with a belly full of tonkatsu. When I arrived, about 20 minutes to nine, the half closer to Yoshi's was full and I parked across from Mandarin Villa. When I went away, the half across from Yoshi's was empty, but the all around my car was full. Mandarin Villa stays open after 9 p.m., and perhaps hungry Tracy residents converge there for the lack of alternative. I think the only other establishement open past 9 is Denny's.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Pig life

Since my better half is away for a month, we have a guy in his 40s and his teenage daugter living in the house alone. The daily routine quickly becomes resembling the one of a pig in a den. A pile of empty wrappers from Lay's brand chips accumulates near Ana-chan's laptop steadily. I am strict about washing dishes though.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

Almost forgot :-)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Water consumption

Brian had a post about the price of utilities in Tracy. One thing I'd like to add is that my water consumption varies dramatically with seasons, because I have a lawn. So, the bill looks like this:

May - 16
June - 17
July - 25
August - 27
September - 33
October - 40
November - 37
December - 11
January - 5
February - 7
March - 4
May - 4

Obviosly, the billing lags the actual consumption. But the point is, it's 10 times the difference between the irrigation season and the rain season.

FN-49's price

I have a buddy Ed who had an FN-49 in 7.92 and he traded it in for an M1 Carbine. When I asked what in the world he was thinking, he replied that the market value of the guns was roughly equivalent.

Today, I am just back from a gun show in San Jose, and the picture is the same as usual. M1 Carbines are on every table, FN-49 cannot be gotten for any money. It might be easier to find a Winchester Model 1895 in 7.62x54R Russian or something.

So, why doesn't market balance the price of FN-49 somewhere around $2000 or $3000? I suspect that buyers are not willing to take it, which is the reason the price is not there. It's not like anyone buys those things out of necessity, right?

If I were flush with money, there were a few toys I'd love to have.
- A sleasy gentleman at golden table was selling AR-15s and off-list receivers. No, I don't want those. Nothing personal, but I never liked inside of a prison. But also he had an FN-FAL with a fixed magazine, which I think looked great. $1300.
- There was a Marlin Camp 45.
- I still do not have an SKS and one guy was selling an old Zastava, built without the grenade launcher. Only $260!
- Ever-present resold Garands, with usual hefty price tags
- There was a Ruger Deerfield. I think it would be neat to get that, a Wichester, a Marlin, and a revolver in .44 Magnum.

But oh well. I passed on all of those. I would pass on an FN-49 too, if by a miracle one were available (ok, I'd think twice about a 30-06 version.) Thus the market got imperceptibly depressed today through my actions.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Burger evening

I worked a little bit late today, so I missed the closing time of Yoshi's. In this town, everything food related closes at 9 p.m. I can understand it, owners need to sleep too. But still... I had to settle for a Big Mac.

In McDonald's, the nerdy girl I mentioned before worked the registers and took my order. This time I know that she's a student at Delta College. It must be difficult to stay out long shifts and then do the homework (although she may be skipping on the summer term). It cannot be conductive to GPA.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

100 octane gas

For years, there were two 76 stations facing each other across the Tracy Boulevard at the intersection with Grant Line. Recently, one of them went out of franchise and is called "VP" now. It sells 100 octane gas.

I have to ask, who in the world would buy the stuff and for what purpose? It only makes sense if your engine has the necessary compression ratio, which means a significantly modified engine (milled head at a minimum). I saw it on sale in Modesto, the capital of car thiefs. Somehow, I do not approve.

BTW, this is a different fuel from 100LL used in airplanes, with different characteristics even. It will not work in an unmodified airplane engine.

Retirement house opens

The retirement house across the street from the TUSD campus is open now, together with the famous clock tower.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

TRASH @West: Recycling

Recycling this week.

Low Citation

At around 3:35 p.m. today, I saw a Citation flying in easterly direction at about 1000 ft above my house. At the time, I thought that it must've been a transient who wanted to refuel at TCY, but now I remembered that the airport is due south from my house. Strange. Anyway, I was surprised just how quiet the jet was. Regular propeller airplanes with piston engines fly overhead often and produce more noise.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mongolean BBQ in Tracy

I am off crutches and finally went to check out the place. The executive summary: not as nice as the place at Howa in Sacramento, but good enough to remove the incentive to drive north for hour and a half. Also, they have an opportunity to improve.

First, the bad. It appears that the place has some issues with inexperienced (or perhaps even lazy) staff, most notably around the cooking table. Chefs' movements weren't all that sure, and they obviously weren't big on cleanliness. The owner had to micro-manage things the chefs forgot to do, so I wonder if he was saddled with family cronies. The invisible kitchen had small issues as well: too much flour in the soup, pastries lost shape and struggled for the taste... Small things, to be sure. I am, however, specifically disappointed by the lack of lamb.

On the upside, they had a competent waiter girl who did her best to balance the impression. Although the absence of lamb was lamentable, the rest of the ingredients was in good order. Chopsticks were available (I rifled through the utensils bin and found a Japanese disposable set - "おてもと" on the wrapper, soft wood from Indonesia). The sides were by the book (althogh at Howa they also add a little seafood-and-cheese pastry). A good set of sauces lined the counter and their house sauce is interesting. Not too strong, and pretty thick. So, the good robust chow, vastly superior to the imitation our New China Buffet offers (not to say anything bad about the buffet in general, but their "Mongolean BBQ" is just not the same). Here we get the real thing.

They accept credit cards, which is a big plus in my book.

I think everyone should at least try the place, for the experience. I saw some folks coming in and being somewhat confused, because there's no dedicated hostess. So, the first thing is to get a hold of a waiter, who will play hostess and reserve a table. Then you can march to the counter and fill the bowl, while she places sides on your table.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Anonymous voice of Tracy

Tracy Press posted a "voice" column, which sensibly reminded us that runways need overrun areas (which, I beleive, TCY does actually possess - the question is only if they are sufficient for jets). But I cannot understand why this article has no author. It's not as if his life and limb were in danger because of his advocacy.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The UPS guy

Got a UPS parcel today, and the guy said: "Don't worry, I'm not going to run away. I know you're on crutches, so giving you some extra time." Isn't it nice? I suppose the last time was a misunderstanding.

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

A tad late this week