Archive for January, 2009

Skate or get maimed

Tony Hawk and Neil Blender would be proud that there’s still at least one place in Sacramento where (for now, at least) skateboarding is not a crime.   In front of the Community Center Theater this afternoon was a group of skaters, peeling paint off the handrails and bailing almost into traffic.  One of them had a video camera, and was getting some quality YouTube footage in the bag.  I’m surprised that there aren’t any SPDs here, as they seem to be everywhere else.

Highlight was when a purple-laced-Vans kid jumped off the curb, kicked up against a News & Review box, and fell flat on the asphalt with a resounding “Aaaggh!!!!”  His friends across the street gave him a polite round of applause that would not have been out of place on the 16th at Augusta .

Also:  Best local business plug, personalized license plate division:  Bronze PT cruiser requesting “CANAWEK.”


At 10th & J:  “When you talk all abrasive like that, it’s gonna rub people the wrong way.”

Also, if you see a vacant parking spot at night and it’s under a tree downtown, keep circling;  those roosint crows are murder on a paint job.

Choo Choo

If you go south on Del Rio Road from the five-street intersection at the southwest corner of Land Park, Del Rio will bear left after about 3/4 mile, and 27th Avenue will go right.  Straight, however, takes you through a little fence that warns “Regional Transit property.  No trespassing, loitering, etc.”  There’s no lock, so don’t worry about it.

All of a sudden you’re in a greensward that sneaks along next to the old spur rail line that used to emanate from the railyards in Old Sac.  Between Sutterville and Fruitridge is a delightful space from which you can peer into large backyards, or check out the dogs frolicking with their owners and each other.

Cross Fruitridge, and the rails are more overgrown, backing up to many cul-de-sacs (including Zoolander Court).  You can continue down past 43rd, but that’s as far as I’ve made it.

These tracks used to go and go and go, on past Stone Lakes (where they tore up the steel during the war effort back in the Forties), past Hood, winding through sloughs and islands, until they ended almost where 160 meets 12 way on down in the Delta.

Take a walk along this path, and think of all the loads that must have gone by, all the hobos who hopped a freight, all the lonesome whistles puffing past the fields and cows.  Although it looks to get green and stony south of Freeport, it’s mostly beige houses and blacktop in Sacramento these days;  one hell of a candidate for Rails to Trails.

Mark Twain, apocryphally

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

Although with this weather, I’m guessing there aren’t many complaining.

Oh. Except the farmers, and the vintners, and the skiers, and the fishermen, and…

Also, it took me at least three tries before I figured out the right spelling of the title.

Birds of a feather

They’re certainly flocking together at Stone Lakes.  What a fantastic place!

We rousted ourselves at 8am, since the preserve is only open on alternate Saturdays, and then only if you get there at 9am for a guided tour with docents.  We found the five of us joined by two jolly bird pros, and a perky Asian family of four.

Ray lent us a small pair of binoculars, (“You didn’t bring any?”) and we spent three solid hours in the preserve.  It’s about a two-mile round trip to the viewing stand, but we only walked maybe 50 yards at a time between the cries of “What’s that?” or “Now look off over on that fence post…”  These guys were so knowledgeable, and so quick to spot interesting things–easier to do with a $4,500 pair of binocs– that the time flew by.  A taste of what we saw:  Great egret, Anna’s hummingbird, buffleheads, sandhill cranes, Canadian geese, golden meadowlark, killdeer, blue heron…

And it’s not just the seeing;  it’s really the hearing of all these birds that’s incredible.  The squawk of the sandhill crane echoes from a mile away.  The sound of dozens of tree sparrows taking off all at once is shockingly loud.  And the cry of the killdeer is unique–it says its own name.

We’d gone to the Vic Fazio preserve on New Year’s day, but having guides who were really into it (“I got started birdwatching in the service.  I’d be sitting in my foxhole, and there’s just nothing else to do.”) makes all the difference.

Ray said the reason the tour was so small was that “people just don’t like to get up early.”  Even though it’s a Saturday, set your alarm.


One of the nice things about being a state worker has always been different options for work schedules.  You can do a normal, 40-hour work week.  You can do a 4/10, which means you work four days a week for ten hours a day, and take the fifth day off.  One of the most popular is the 9/8/80, wherein you work 9 hours a day for 8 days, 8 hours for one day, and take the 10th day off.  These last two options are known as Alternate Work Week Schedules.

The Gov sent down a note this afternoon, right around 3pm, letting all the state workers know that there will be no more AWWSs. (not to be confused with ROUSs…)  Instead, all state workers will be taking a mandatory furlough on the first and third Fridays of the month, beginning in February.  Net result:  the State will be closed on alternate Fridays, and state workers will be taking a 10% pay cut.

Easy to get up in arms, although those who complain are kinda hollow:  A friend of mine met her husband for lunch today, and he let her know that he’d been laid off from his sales job, since he was the most recent hire.  Makes it a little tougher to whine about a relatively small pay cut.

All in all, a great time for a weekend.

A few things I learned today

1.  It is possible to have an interesting, nay, engaging and enlightening conversation on the topic of the political ramifications of which incoming freshman assemblymembers are getting two- or even (gasp!) three-termers’ offices.  And don’t even get started on the insult to second-termers who receive a freshman office.  If these folks can’t even play nice in assigning office space, how in the world are they supposed to agree on a budget?

2.  Even in tights, hat, gloves and six-minute miles, it’s still darn cold out there.

3.  Ugly Duck slices at Pieces Pizza have gone back down to $2.00 from $2.75.  According to our friend behind the counter:  “Hard times, man.  Hard times.”  Thanks for doing your small part to keep the people fed.

Also, make your reservations now for Dine Downtown next week.  It’s well worth it!

An East End town, a dead-end world

I work catty-corner from the monolithic East End complex, and boy is that frustrating.  There’s all the upscale hip joints to the east, despite the ridiculous “Handle District” name.  There’s the funky stuff—non-prefab Irish pub, another rooftop shindig at MIX–spreading out along 15th Street and on L. And right smack in the middle of all this vibrant action is a huge lump of office.  Nothing but office, with a token sports restaurant thrown in, and a wine bar shoehorned next to a parking garage.

What galls me is to imagine what kind of impressive things could have been done if the State of California had decided to think outside of the cubicle and throw in some decent ground-floor retail in those almost-four square blocks bounded by 15th, L, 17th and the Capitol/N Alley.  Restaurants within walking distance of the theatre and ballet!  More lunch options for thousands of starving Capitol workers!  A corridor between midtown and downtown that bordered on the Park!  Neat things to look at instead of closed blinds and smoked windows!

Yes, the buildings are all green and LEED, for which we should be thankful, and they did save the Torch Club.  But geez-what a lost opportunity.  Let’s hope the West End Complex learns a few lessons.

Showing Starbucks how it’s done

There are now three sushi places in two blocks on 15th Street between I and K.  Will Zen Sushi survive the onslaught of half-price Happy Hour sushi (Monday-Friday from 4-8pm) from Tokyo Fro’s?  Did anyone ever actually enter that place with the chain netting next to The Torch when it was a nightclub?  And does downtown really need a CPK in the old Firestone building?

Oh, the ineffable questions.

A Good Sacramento Sunday

Load up the baby bag.  Load up the kid. Load up the stroller.  Load up the coats.

One block north.  Five blocks west.  One block south.

Leave the stroller in the front.  Walk to the back.

One other couple laughing over white wine.  The Vikings just lost on the quiet flatscreen in the corner.

“How’re you all doing tonight?  Can I get you a menu?  It’s Happy Hour.”

“Oh, we know.  We came for the deep-fried garbanzo beans.  And a pitcher of IPA.”

Beans and beer arrive.  Other couple leaves.  Macaroni and cheese makes up for their absence.

Brrrrrringggg.  “Hello, Dad’s Kitchen.  No, we closed at five.  Sorry.  Thanks!”  Click.  “Oh, don’t worry about it, take your time—I’m here until 7:30 doing paperwork.  We’re usually open ‘til 8, but just decided to close early tonight.  Yeah, sure, you can take down the guitar or ukulele or banjo whenever you want.  We keep ‘em in tune, and it can get kinda rowdy in here some evenings.  You need another pitcher?”

3-month-old gurgles.  Manager counts cash.  Gurgles devolve to screeches.

Load up the baby bag.  Load up the kid.  Load up the coats.

Walk to the front.  Load up the stroller.

One block north.  Five blocks east.  One block south.


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