Monday, October 30, 2006

Rite Aid

Rite Aid (at Corral Hollow and Grant Line), I can safely say, is no Safeway. It's far smaller and generally has a selection which befits a convenience store (if we ignore the pharmacy part). So, it's not a good destination for a regular grocery haul trip.

Nonetheless, it has an appeal of a different selection. So, a few minutes ago we returned from there loaded with candy (mostly for our own consumption, because we stocked for Halloween long time ago). Rite Aid continues to sell traditional candies which disappeared from Safeway and its ilk long ago.

I think I would not mind walk to the place, and in fact I did a few times. However, the geometry of the suburbia is not very friendly to this king of thing. For example, a pedestrian access from Paradise Valley Court to Corral Hollow would improve things considerably. At least, from my point of view. I am not sure if residents of the court would agree. But then again, perhaps they would, especially if commercial development across the street takes off.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cigars are coming

A cigar store has opened in the little new plaza between Corral Hollow and the freeway (near Kaiser). Tracy, California is becoming upscale.

This probably is not a bad thing, although I dread the moment the "luxury" plywood skyscrapers get built, like those Livermore and Dublin are getting now.

TRASH @West: Recycling

It's a recycling week.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Farmer's Market is closed for Winter

I didn't notice that this week was the last Farmer's Market.

For some reason we never can bring ourself to visit it in Tracy. We went to it in Fremont often. It was on Saturday, but I'm not sure it's the whole story. Simply there's no pressing need. Costco does a good job providing us.

Friday, October 27, 2006

City Pride for Fall 2006

I received the City Pride with a bill, and the leading article talks about the downtown revitalization. To quote:
FTB [the design consultant] is led by the renowned Michael Freedman who has achieved tremendous success in many cities including Livermore, Lodi, Mountain View, and Redwood City.

This seems like a good time to reiterate just how much I despise the renovation of Livermore. If that is the model, I am not going to be happy.

I work right in the middle of "revitalized" Mountain View. There, it is not such a big issue, because they did not purposefuly design the project to make people hopping mad. I wouldn't say that Castro Street is such a great place. It's rather overrated actually, as I found out when trying to have lunch.

(the image is from Brian's post about the strange loan program the City is running).

The article in City Pride has a sketch, which shows a San Jose type of plaza with trees going across the Central in front of Magellan. It doesn't look bad, but I have to wonder what happened to those condos which Surland was going to build there. The article says that I'm mistaken and the condos always were going to built south of the tracks. Maybe so.

Not a word is written about the plan to pay for the project.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tracy today

I do not go out of the house much, so there's next to nothing to report.

3 commissioners and the chairman quit from the City Airport Advisory Commission after the City declined their recommendations.

As it is now, the airpor is a millstone on the neck of the city of Tracy. It ows about a million bucks to the city already (although I don't know how this is possible, since the city owns the airport; moving money from pocket to pocket?), and as long as things go as they do, it continues to lose money. Not much money, but still, it either has to be declared the way it is (the pseudo "debt" erased; airport subsidized), or the airport has to be turned around and bring revenue to the city.

Commissioners wanted to grow out of the current situation by letting profitable aircraft in (e.g. business jets and turboprops). I have a buddy who keeps a 1947 Taylorcraft on a tiedown. He can't replace fabric on wings, certainly he can't pay too much for the parking. But jets are different. Prices at San Jose and Hayward are INSANE. So, Tracy can undercut enough to attract them, yet make handsome profit. But this needs a) upfront investment into better hangars and runways, and b) the runway extension.

But the runway extension is problematic, because some wise guy in the city used up the necessary land for a business park. Way to think ahead!

The city wants to get by with half-measures, like building a few extra T-hangars and attract poor guys displaced by the jet influx from Livermore. It's the same thing as happens with housing for people, yanno? I bought house in Tracy because I could not afford Fremont. So, they hired a consultant, who told the city what they wanted to hear: that a business case for a few small boxes closes.

Anyway... When I moved to Tracy I thought that a community airport was neat, but now I think it's very likely that I'll move out of town in a year or two, so I probably shouldn't think about this too much.

Other than that, we got good wind. Wind picks up dust from construction sites all along I-5 in Lathrop, so the visibility is poor.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I'm just back from a BART drop-off. On the way there, a guy in puke-colored Civic of 2003 vintage ran a red light at Dublin Boulevard and nearly collided with an F-250 which was making a left turn towards Sybase. He went to BART for a pickup, where I saw him at the curb. I stopped at the same curb about 20ft ahead. Then I saw in the rear mirror how he took off yapping to his passenger and accelerated to rear-end me good, until in the last second he swearved into the traffic lane.

Stoned drivers are so stupid. I won't be surprised if a Civic with plates 5GJG638 figures in today's police log.

Plucking with torch

Mrs. Z. is making me to wield a creme-brulee butane torch against chicken wings, for the ease of plucking. Usually, a gas stove is used for this, but we have an electic stove.

I thought that American food industry learned to use vacuum to pluck chickens long time ago, but apparently it's not the case.

The dream of wood chipper

I keep having issues with shrubs and trees growing out of control around the house. I do not devote sufficient time to clipping them regularly, so when I get around to it, I have to cut thick branches and process a large amount of green material. Cutting branches is especially tedious. I have to cut them into at most 60cm or 2ft segments to fit them into the waste bin. Cutting them shorter lets me to pack them better.

Naturally, I started to look at chippers, but so far it was disappointing. Chippers of necessary power are gas operated and cost about $500. Smaller chippers are very hard to find, and they are rather wimpy rotary units. In Tracy, the only place which sold them was OSH, and they are down to one beaten-up display model, electical, for $210.

I think that most homeowners simply buy saws. A saw produces short length of cut, so there's no packing issue, and no post-factum cutting. And it's far cheaper, too: Home Depot has great electic saws for $35. So, there's no market for chippers among homeowners, while plant service contractors buy more powerful ones, which they haul hitched to their trucks.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

TRASH@West: Garden Waste & Fall Cleanup

Yes! This is the week of the Fall Cleanup!

Micke park

Micke is our "nearby" park. It's not that very near: just south of Lodi, at 99. But still, it's a tad closer than Sunol or Mt. Diablo. Also, it has a zoo, a local museum, and a Japanese garden.

The garden has two small pagodas (one concrete and one iron), a pond, and a house. The house was closed today, so I peeked inside to see the faux linoleum tatami and a closet with a hinged door. Strangely, it should feel fake, but it doesn't. Instead, it gives the air of care by the older generation. The structure looks rather sad, like a ghost of times past.

Two bridges cross the crescent-shaped pond. One of them was donated by a whole bunch of Yamadas, who must be relatives. Two koi live in the pond: old (white with age) and young (mostly dark).

They aslo have a functioning waterfall in the garden. A similar, although smaller, waterfall is constructed in the forum area behind the Shima building on the Delta college campus, but it's never on, and is covered in leaves.

Finally, there's a very nice bamboo grove there too.

The place is quite different from the Japanese Tea Garden in the Golden Gate park. The place in Frisco seems like an amusement park. This one seems like a memorial.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Texas Roadhouse

I'm back from Texas Roadhouse in Tracy. Dave Parker had to wait for an hour, so we got in when it just opened at 4 p.m., to avoid lines.

It was pretty good, although I noticed that many establishements relax their standards over time (e.g. Elephant Bar in Freemon Hub used to have great ribs when it opened). One interesting gimmik the TR has is that they give you a bucket of peanuts, so you can save a bundle on not getting an appetizer. I thought it an awesome idea. We did get an appetizer anyway, a very exact clone of Outback's Blooming Onion, which TR calls "Blooming Cactus".

We already have Applebees, but even if without the bucket of peanuts, TR wins because of their wider menu. For one thing, they offer Prime Rib -- a very decent one. There's also a Kebob, which we'll investigate some other day.

The only downside of our TR is how noisy it is.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Safeway blows it badly

I was sort of busy with work and stuff, so I spent all the time in the house. I did have some items happening with shrubs, trees, and roof, but in the event I forgot to blog them. Maybe later. But for now I have to rely on others to gather info about living in Tracy.

My wife is just back from Safeway where she went to buy eggs and miscellaneous groceries. She reports that Safeway management have lost their minds completely.

Most importantly, they are remodeling to install Jamba Juice on the other side from Starbucks. In other words, instead of selling groceries, they want to sell god knows what, and they squeeze groceries.

Also, they want to take a clue from Albertson's and make half-length aisles. Which is total idiocy because you can't see from one end to the other, and you can't read notices, so you have to actually go inside the isle to find stuff.

And also they have normal construction-caused problems, like the smell of paint, which caused my wife a splitting headache. This is going to pass, I expect, but split isles and reduced floor space is going to remain.

Really, Safeway. We can visit SaveMart, you know.

Monday, October 16, 2006

TRASH@West: Recycling

Woops, almost forgot.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Politics! Well, actually, election...

Looks like Ahnuld is going to win. Though for it to happen, we have to go to the polls. I still haven't filed my registration, although I have the form. My wife is sitting on hers, and she's going to be upset if I file mine ahead of her.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Week of Oct. 23, Fall clean-up

My utility bill mentioned that the week of Oct. 23 is a fall cleanup week.

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

It's Garden Waste on the west side.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

iPod battery

Tracy Today ran an article about a local guy who fixes iPods. It was a little misleading, claiming that "Apple charges $250 no matter if a repair is a new battery or extensive restoration." Knowing Apple, I would not be surprised if RMA-ing an iPod would be that much. However, I was quoted $59 for a battery replacement on my 3G by an Apple Store in Dublin (in Stoneridge Mall). It is still more expensive than the $20 mentioned in the article, although I can't help asking if the new battery is as good as the one it replaces.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

TRASH @West: Recycling

Recycling week!