Archive for June, 2008

Too many dilemmas

If I drive my car to work, I’m putting unnecessary ozone into the air and shortening my life.
If I ride my bike to work, I’m sucking excess PM2.5 into my lungs and shortening my life.

If I turn on the A/C, I’m using extra power from the grid and contributing to global warming.
If I use the  whole-house fan, I’m  bringing cancer-causing microparticles into the house and killing my family while we sleep.

If I eat lunch at my desk, I’m feeling those calories sink into my body and contribute to heart disease.
If I go for a run at lunch, I’m feeling those carcinogens sink into my body and contribute to lung disease.

What is an environmentally-conscious exercise-prone Sacramentan to do?

I-5, I loved you when…

The news is out. The I-5 honeymoon is over. This morning, the commute was back to normal (ie packed) on I-5 Northbound into the city.

This evening, the wonderful respite from bumper-to-bumper Southbound is alas, also gone. I particularly enjoyed last week’s cruise after entering the freeway on W Street and being able to drive the speed limit all the way to the 43rd Street offramp.

Unfortunately, C.C. Myers rained on my vehicle-free I-5 parade. Open on time? Open early? Are you kidding?

They’ve done too good a job at keeping us all in the loop. I imagine the buses are back to empty and the light rail has minimized from sardine to regular standing room only commutes.

At least I have something to look forward to after Independence Day. I-5 shall close again, and there will be at least 2 or 3 people celebrating the fact. (You, me, and that CHP officer sitting for endless hours in the vehicle blocking the ramp–when does he get to use the restroom?)

I’m so happy about it, I may ride the Light Rail, or perhaps I’ll take the bus in to work. Maybe I’ll even get back on my bike. In any case, I’m looking forward to the second honeymoon…I-5, we shall dance again.

Red sky in the day…

…sailor make hay? Sailor go play? I don’t know the next line in that one, but I do know we’re seeing the strange red sky of smoke-congested air. It smells like a firepit, looks like an ash pit, and sits solid in your nose like nobody’s business.

Even the HVAC-circulated air in my office reeked of cinders.

After all this, I’m asking you, dear reader, to pray for rain. Or chant. Or sing. Or do whatever it is you do. I’m hoping for rain, ASAP.

The ducks of Midtown

Seen driving down 29th Street last week.  Ducks. Kickin’ it outside a doctor’s office.  Personally, if I were a duck, I’d stay in McKinley Park.  Maybe the ducks just needed some time on the other side of Alhambra.  Don’t we all?

Now that’s some serious accuracy

When C.C. Myers was working his magic last week on the northbound lanes of I-5 (and I gotta think News 10 was getting some kickbacks from him–it’s been a long time since I’ve seen coverage that fawning…) I ambled over to the O Street overpass.  In addition to the jacking and cracking, there was a sign that made me wonder how many significant digits are on ol’  CC’s speedometers.

As if Midtown’s “17 MPH” signs at the roundabouts weren’t enough, the speed limit on the  new concrete:  “15 1/2 MPH.”

What do you think?

I picked up a recent copy of the newer format of the Sacramento News and Review–and I am loving the new style! I wonder if it’s a one-timer, special issue…or if it is a sign of things to come. (Note to SN&R–I LOVE it, keep it!) It’s a much neater, slightly smaller paper. And it’s stapled….

I enjoyed my copy–but the best tidbit of the whole edition was the listing of bank-owned homes by zip code, address, and price. I know you can get this info off the Internet, by filling out a bunch of screens. Here, however, you can get it for free, anonymously, Nice. SN&R says they’re doing their readers who rent a favor and I have to agree. Thanks! They say they’ll be doing it weekly, so go get one if you’re house-hunting!

By the way, did you notice there’s no bank-owned property in 95831 or 95819? I know, I ‘m looking too.

Symbols & Sigils

As I zip around Sacramento via various modes of transportation, I see a cryptic sign all over the place. Since my last post on the railroad spur brought such a wealth of information, I’d like to tap the collective knowledge of Sacramentans once again.

The sign is a circle, with one half painted orange and one half painted green. They invariably show up in the vicinity of things that seem flood-controlish: near the railroad gates at 19th & C. Near the gates at Del Paso under 160. At various points along various levees.

Does anyone have any idea which agency is responsible for these pictograms, and what exactly they signify? Or are they omens and portents of the coming apocalypse, a la the Low Men in Yellow Coats?

Days past

As you come north on the bike path that’s south of Miller Park, you’ll see two railroad tracks on your right. That’s what they use for the train rides that leave out of Old Sacramento. About a third of a mile below Miller, a third track diverges to the right and heads down a shallow grade and turns to the right just out of sight.

If you follow that spur down, you’ll notice the ties getting a little more crooked, like this was the end of a job and the workers just wanted to get it done. You’ll see a bunch of railroad supplies lying in piles just as the turn arrives, and you’ll also see increasing amounts of trash.

As you finish the easy turn, you’ll see a tunnel under I-5, with a warehouse framed at the other side of the darkness. If you’ll go through the tunnel, it’s all trash, and you may think about picking your steps carefully on the off chance you step in something squishy.

Then you’re out, at the corner of 1st Avenue and 3rd Streets in a huge industrial warehouse complex where the tracks don’t really end; they just get subsumed under asphalt.

Another remnant of railroad culture gone by. That spur was still important when they built I-5 over it nigh on 40 years ago; it’s nothing now.

Natomas – Aside from the flood risk, is it really so bad?

You may have read something about the housing market lately. Sellers are up a creek because prices have tanked thanks to myriad factors.  We may have hit bottom though: dozens of news articles are highlighting crazy good deals on foreclosed homes and from otherwise desperate sellers.  Supposedly, once you read that we’ve hit bottom, we’ve already hit it an passed.  Homes seem to be selling more quickly now and – in a twist of logical reasoning – saying it is so might just make it so as things even out.

We’ve been house hunting for quite awhile now. In fact, we may be the only buyers who can’t close a dang deal in this buyers’ market.  We have exacting tastes and we’re good at remaining true to our budget and our wish list.  Accordingly, we’re still enjoying the good life in Midtown in our lovely rental that – thanks to even-in-a-bad-market-insane-California-mortgage-land is still far less than what we’d be paying to own a place. And our landlord fixed busted lightbulbs and windows. Not a bad situation.

A week or so ago we ventured where we swore we’d never go, though . . . . Natomas. Eek! Don’t write me off as an evil suburbanite just yet.  I know all the arugments against Natomas: McMansions, big box stores, irresponsible sprawl, shoddy construction, high-five-ably close neighbors, no character, and, the most important, you better have a driveway that can accomodate an ark because, brother,  it’s only  a matter of time.

But,  you know, East Sac and Midtown – or most desireable locations – won’t be high and dry when the river busts free.  Some parts of Natomas will be extra underwater, true, but does anyone have the REAL scoop on flood protection progress and which neighborhoods are slightly less screwed? Because here’s the deal: for literally $200k LESS we can buy 1400 MORE square feet than you’ll find in East Sac – where most homes in our price range spread over a generous 1000 square feet.  We don’t need 2400 square feet.  Yet.  But maybe we will someday. At what point does it stop making sense to crap all over Natomas’s interpretation of the American Dream come-to-life with granite slap countertops, too much ceramic tile, and enough family, great, and formal living rooms so that you’d never have to spend time with your least favorite family members again?

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