Archive for July, 2009

Blue Frog

After a long week in the newsroom, I’m in the mood for a pint or two. We’ve had some hot days in Sacramento. Sipping beer is a nice way to cool down.

A few weeks ago, my hubby and I decided to check out the Blue Frog Grog and Grill in Fairfield.

Blue Frog in Fairfield

We first tasted some of Blue Frog brews at BeerFests in Santa Rosa and Boonville. Those festivals also featured beers by Rubicon and the Sacramento Brewing Company.

Out of this sampler, I enjoyed the hearty Red Ale. Plus, the Hefeweizen tasted quite refreshing on a hot night.

Vinotweetup!

Need a day trip that’s all about wine? Check out Arger-Martucci Vineyards in St. Helena.

Arger-Martucci Vineyards

I loved this 2004 Pinot Noir: rich texture with a subtle fruity finish. Arger-Martucci has a beautiful tasting area. It’s next to a pool, surrounded by vines and roses.

Closer to home, I was tickled to read about a Sacramento event combining my two passions: Wine and Twitter!

L Wine Lounge is hosting the Sacramento Vino Tweetup on Tuesday, 7/28, starting at 5 PM. I stumbled on this #vinotweetup via @entreprini. You can buy tickets on the event web site. The ticket price includes appetizers and wine flights from these winemakers:

  • James David Cellars
  • Radee Wines
  • MAS Wines

Cheers!

New law’s effect visible in area restaurants

Have you noticed it?  Been to any chain restaurants lately?  If you’ve been to a place with more than 20 locations, you should’ve seen some new numbers on the menu – the calorie count – thanks to a law that took effect on July 1.  Restaurants aren’t required to give you the full nutritional values (so if you watch carbs, sugars, or use the Weight Watchers system, you still won’t have all of the information you need), but the basic calorie count is a good shorthand for decision-making.

I spend more time at Sacramento-specific locations than larger chains, but one place I have noticed the new menu is California Pizza Kitchen (at their newest location on 16th and L).  The counts drive home something I wish more people realized: just because it’s a salad don’t make it healthy, gang.  A full Thai Crunch Salad will take care of your entire daily calorie recommendation at a whopping 2115 calories.  And before you split dessert because you think that makes it okay, note their Turtle Sundae weighs in at 1500+ calories.

The above article notes that some restaurants are re-evaluating recipes in light of the new law, cutting up to 800 calories off dishes.  I hope more restaurants take note of that trend: you really don’t need to load up on the butters, oils, and sugars to keep diners happy.

I wish smaller restaurants would provide the same nutritional information – but this is a good start.  Does knowing the numbers change your eating habits or just confirm your guilty feelings?

Summer Picnic

Blanket, sandwiches, potato salad and an amazing bottle of wine.
They all add up to a lovely picnic in Clarksburg. I enjoyed checking out new wines and classic favorites in this vino haven by the Sacramento River.

In this photo: I’m in wine tasting heaven with this 2007 Petite Sirah at Bogle Vineyards.
Bogle Vineyards

When my co-workers found out about my love affair with wine tasting, they said I had to check out Clarksburg. I finally carved out a lazy Saturday afternoon to explore this adorable town.
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Squeeze moving. Does it matter?

Will the burgers be less tasty without the uncomfortable squish? If it’s a bigger, wider, more accessible location, won’t everyone win?  On a scale of 0 to suck, where does this fall?

Squeeze Squeeze Makes Me Squeamish

Burger lovers love red meat, as do local TV and radio stations. To wit: they are making quite a meal out of the ADA lawsuit claiming Food Network and local darling The Squeeze Inn is inaccessible to people with disabilities.  It’s a fabulous, hands-in-the-air, lawyers-suck, can-you-believe-it sort of story: tiny business faces financial ruin because we’ve never enacted tort reform and the ADA is broken and these professional plaintiffs can just do whatever they want and what about the children!

If commenters are to be believed, the lawyer and plaintiff are just the sorts of people who give accessibility efforts a bad name.  This might harm a hard-working local businessman, but the more significant damage is to disability advocacy in California.

Growing up, my father worked on disability policy for the City of Los Angeles.  Himself a disabled veteran, he was keenly aware of the challenges facing people with disabilities – challenges that most able-bodied people wouldn’t notice.  Most of us don’t need to call a restuarant, theater, club, or pretty much anywhere in advance to find out if we can get through the door.  Most of us don’t worry about what happens if we enjoy a big meal and multiple iced tea refills and we need to visit a bathroom with a narrow door that won’t accomodate our wheelchairs.  Most of us have never had to turn down an invitation to join our friends somewhere because, as much as we would like to attend, we can’t physically do it.

Very, very generally speaking, the ADA requires business upgrading older, pre-ADA facilities to include accomodations that make the facility fully accessible to people with physical limitations.  Often, prior to such an underataking, there is no penalty for business with less than accessible buildings.  Here’s the grossly simplified wiki-explanation:

The ADA allows private plaintiffs to receive only injunctive relief (a court order requiring the public accommodation to remedy violations of the accessibility regulations) and attorneys’ fees, and does not provide monetary rewards to private plaintiffs who sue non-compliant businesses. Unless a state law, such as the California Unruh Civil Rights Act,[18] provides for monetary damages to private plaintiffs, persons with disabilities do not obtain direct financial benefits from suing businesses that violate the ADA.

Thus, “professional plaintiffs” are typically found in states that have enacted state laws that allow private individuals to win monetary awards from non-compliant businesses.[18] At least one of these plaintiffs in California has been barred by courts from filing lawsuits unless he receives prior court permission.[18] The attorneys’ fees provision of Title III does provide incentive for lawyers to specialize and engage in serial ADA litigation, but a disabled plaintiff does not obtain financial reward from attorneys’ fees unless they act as their own attorney, or as mentioned above, a disabled plaintiff resides in a state which provides for minimum compensation and court fees in lawsuits. Moreover, there may be a benefit to these “private attorneys general” who identify and compel the correction of illegal conditions: they may increase the number of public accommodations accessible to persons with disabilities. “Civil rights law depends heavily on private enforcement. Moreover, the inclusion of penalties and damages is the driving force that facilitates voluntary compliance with the ADA.” [19] Courts have noted: “As a result, most ADA suits are brought by a small number of private plaintiffs who view themselves as champions of the disabled. For the ADA to yield its promise of equal access for the disabled, it may indeed be necessary and desirable for committed individuals to bring serial litigation advancing the time when public accommodations will be compliant with the ADA.” [20]

Thousands of people have submitted requests to the Department of Justice for investigation of barriers in older buildings and design and construction errors in brand new facilities. Most of these are ignored, because even if the government wanted to investigate all of them, they lack the staff or budget to do so.[citation needed] In its 2004 Americans with Disabilities Act Report, the Department of Justice identified the “pervasive and chronic failure of businesses to comply with even the most rudimentary access requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act.” [21]

Most business owners realized after a while that there was little chance that the DOJ would come after them, and thus put off making changes to remove barriers. In most cases of uncooperative businesses, individuals must hire an attorney and bring a civil suit.

Note that the above is listed under the “criticism” section of the wiki entry.  Also note that angry burger lovers should be more angry with California law than with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

So I suppose all I’d ask from Sacramentans is some patience and understanding of the underlying issues and not to vilify communities or advocates out of love of a local landmark.  Even if the players here are less-than-admirable, the law and its goals are admirable and vital to a small, usually ignored number of your fellow citizens.

Independence from the British, but not from traditions

highlightsThis weekend marked the seventh or so July 4th I’ve spent in Sacramento – all of which have been enjoyed from a good friend’s front lawn on 42nd Street.  I loved my childhood 4ths, of course, celebrated in balmy coastal air with just a short walk to the end of the street to see the big fireworks display at the local beach.  But Sacramento – East Sacramento, especially –  just does it up right.  The parade seemed extra massive this year – with more bikes and scooters and strollers and strolling people that I recalled in past years.  It’s something out of central casting: the flags, the snow cones, the fire truck.  It looks different than my hometown, different also from San Francisco, closer to the one 4th I spent in a small Ohio town.  I can’t imagine spending the holiday anywhere else.

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