Saturday, September 30, 2006

Blogging about Tracy, by accident

In the white noise of blogging, sooner or later Tracy had to be mentioned. And sure enough, it was:

Tracy, California, where I spent the day in Saturday [September 23], could have been the surface of Mars compared with my Southern California home. I went into a convenience store in search of trail mix and could find only a bag of salty nuts, dry raisins and M&Ms. I also picked up a couple of sticky-sweet granola bars from the shelves of potato chips, cheesy snacks, and beef jerkies. At the check out desk, the proprietor looked at my purchases and then at me, with curiosity. "Very healthy," she commented. Very strange. [Italics are mine --ed.]

This is too funny on many levels. First, we have a convenience store in Tracy? That alone is enough to crack anyone up. Although, perhaps we do, if we stretch the definition of the convenience store a little bit, to include a gas station [Of course, I'm trolling for comments about convenience stores here --Z.]

Second. The "Red versus Blue" angle is so chewed and spat these days, but those still delighted by the simple juxtaposition will no doubtedly enjoy Iowahawk's "Heart of Darkness". It is probably the cutest classic of the genre. Good times, good times. But still, isn't compare-and-contrast with Socal a bit rich?

The notion of trail mix being healthy is also something to cause a smirk, although perhaps not a hysterical laughter. It's probably 50% fat by weight.

P.S. The guy suffers from acute BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome), but he didn't just knuckle under the disease. Instead, he made it into a source of income, by publishing a book. Now that's a spirit I admire.

P.P.S. I did't think that Altamont could host proper NASCAR (not even ARCA), it's a "shorttrack" raceway. But a closer examination reveals that NASCAR's umbrella includes enormous number of series and activities. That weekend they had NASCAR Dodge Weekly series, apparently with trucks.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The great DDR exodus

It looks like the bowl just goes to hell, DDR-wise. The last time I went there, the left speaker didn't work, and the front arrow was getting stuck. The experience was completely ruined. Crowds kept me away from the mall's FunFactory. Also, the price and early closing time all counted against it. But if the basics are missing, all these disadvantages are immaterial. So, I have to give up on Tracy Bowl, regretfuly.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Texas Road House

Texas Road House is open for two days, apparently. Curiously, I have a Consumer Reports issue which gives it the top place among "Pub Style or Grill". Applebee's is also one of the picks, although the reader's score places it right in the middle of the scale. As always, individual locations vary in quality, but I have good expectations here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

Garden waste week.

Monday, September 18, 2006

205 Widening Watch, 02

Last night about 1 a.m. I heard banging from the construction site. I am about 3 blocks from the freeway at the nearest point, so I dunno. It must be pretty loud.

Actually, you can see the piers they drive in from a car, and they do not inspire lot of confidence. Workers drive them into the top of the grade, so I am not sure just what kind of support the ground is going to offer against bending and how deep they go. Also... is it even possible to join and old overpass and new overpass lengthwise? A smallest difference between the old concrete and new concrete is going to creat thermal stress and the whole thing may crack. Then the water gets in and corrodes the rebar, and it goes down from there. Well, this certainly is interesting.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mountain House continues to advance

I went to Antioch today and saw the place being prepared for Mountain House right next to the highway. Expect lots of traffic.

Also, Caltrans seems to be building an extension to the highway 4, to be laid down around Oakley from the south. This is really great, I think. With the widening of 205, if only "freeway 130" got underway, it would be a bliss.

TRASH @West: Recycling

I think it's recycling....

Saturday, September 16, 2006

MacDonald's remodeled

It seems that I was eating too healthily, because I noticed that MacDonald's near the freeway remodeled just now. They erected more partitions and started to sell ice-cream, for an overall cafe look.

I remember how so-called "experts" wrote in books a few years ago how MacDonald's makes their benches and chairs uncomfortable, and paints interiors in bright colors. The idea was to make customers wanting to leave as soon as they're done. Now it's exactly the opposite (at least in Tracy). They want you to stay. BTW, I need to check for that free wireless which MacDonald's were going to get across the country. Maybe they put that in during remodeling.


I vaguely remember that I mentioned this before, but still... I distinctly remember how I was surprised by the weird taste of beef and pork in California when I just moved here. Eventually, I found that the only kind of place which had "normal" meat would be a Chinese supermarket, such as Lido or King.

Today, I dropped by the King at the Mission connector between 880 and 680, at the crossing with Warm Springs Boulevard. I went out with a steak, which we already consumed. Interestingly, it's cheap, and lean. Apparently, most Americans prefer to have extra marbles, for the taste.

When I moved to Tracy, remembering a hint from another meat lover, I tried to scout for Mexican places. We have several. IIRC, there's a couple in the downtown area. But they all seemed kind of shady, so I didn't like them.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pombo against corruption

I used to write things like, "Pombo is corrupt, but dems are worse". Maybe I have to apologise. Pombo voted for an important pork transparency legislation, according to the official House record. Yay.

The fault line in this struggle somehow crossed parties completely. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who serves the time for bribery, was a Republican. William Jefferson, who hid a sting bribe in his freezer packaged in numerous small food containers (true story!), was a Democrat. Republican Coburn and Democrat Obama sponsored Senate bill which unmasked authors of earmarks (before, lawmakers could steal my money completely anonymously).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wheel off a Tundra

I saw a Tundra getting ready to be towed on N/B Tracy near Kawannah today. Its left front wheel fell off. By the looks of it, the upright failed (although it might have been the lower ball joint). I don't know just how you can make a Tundra's upright to do it, as it's very robust. The wheels on the truck were quite normal, without an unusual offset.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

It's Garden Waste!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dry beans are coming

Tracy is going to carry out the yearly "Dry Bean Festival" this weekend. I lived here for years, and never was to that happening. When Dan Bilbrey starts talking about turning Tracy into a tourist destination, I shrug.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Surland Aquatic Park, bis

A reader draws my attention to an interesting and relevant phenomena. Whenever a college operates its bookstore, they can never make the business plan close, even when they ignore the cost of the facility lease, etc. The store is always a money loser. If a contractor operates the book store on concession, they make profit and PAY to the college. This is why Barnes&Noble built a real empire of college bookstore concessions. You think it has anything to do with publisher's discounts? Well, no, the same thing happens when small contractors do it. Simply put, public service agencies are aways inept and wasteful.

So why in the world would be want City of Tracy to run the 50m pool?

The city isn't rolling in money. I remember that the plan to fix trees needed extra funding last year, with a lot of publicity about bonds, etc. So, suppose Surland builds the thing and gives it to the city. It's only a one-time charge for them, but we have to spend money on it forever.

The public meeting is today, 7 p.m. at 300 E. 10th.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Surland Aquatic Park

The public meeting is tomorrow, September 5th, 7 p.m. in the 300E 10th Community Center.

The blurb says: "The Surland Companies has offered to donate 20 acres of land and will design and build the Aquatic Park up to a cost of $20 million in return for certain number of annual growth allotments per year as allowes under Measure A."

Well... 50m pools sounds really good. I don't care for the rest of that stuff, like Wet Play Structure. The question now is, who is going to operate the thing. If City of Tracy wants to own and operate it, thumbs down. We have enough albatrosses on our necks as it is. Take the airport, for example.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

TRASH @West: Recycling

This week the collection may be offset by a day due to the Labor Day.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Politics hit in the gut

While I was looking elsewhere, our fine legislators passed a bill (with only an inconsequential vote on Assembly floor remaining), SB 840, which is going to be funded by a 17% increase of payroll tax and a 3% increase of individual tax.

To tell the truth, I started to prepare my house for sale after I filed my 2005 taxes. This year, I have to pay estimated tax, and trust me, it sucks. But I wasn't very active with it. Just fixed a few things here and there. Currently, we're looking at replacing carpets. But now I see that it's getting really bad really fast.

The decision to flee this land of social engineering is not simple. California is often the leader in legislation, and the laws which squeeze working people get copied. If I escape, then firstly I lose my ability to fight it, and secondly the same laws reach me anyway. But on the other hand, we are talking real money here. Money which I could use to buy myself a better health care, for example -- if the government did not steal it from me to pad pockets of bureaucrats in Sacramento (if they used the money to buy health care for the poor, that wouldn't be too bad). What do I do?