Monday, March 31, 2008

Better Than I Thought

So last Tuesday on my main blog, Nerd Family Blog, I wrote about older kids moving back in with their parents and the parents bailing them out of their financial desperation. It was based on AP article that Dr. Helen had read. Well, that article was in the Fresno Bee yesterday (Sunday). Either I am really good or.... You draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bentley's Bistro

So I got to out to lunch (without kids!) with a friend on Good Friday. Since we were doing some other things in North Fresno we decided to give Bentley's Bistro a shot. It was pretty good. The only real issue I had was environment regulation. It has a great patio area but the inside is just open to the patio. It was rather chilly that day in the shade so both my friend and I were a bit cold. I don't know if it is set up that way in the winter but in early spring it is still a bit risky.

The food was good and just a touch pricey (better than I expected). Lunch ranges between $9 and $26 (for a rib eye steak) and dinner is between $23 and $36 with a variety of steaks to choose from. I got Bentley's Turkey Club and my friend got the Ruben Sandwich. Both started with salads and they were fresh and crisp. The Turkey Club was quite large and very good. It was served on a fresh croissant and came with fries. I had half that day for lunch and 2 days later ate the rest and it was still good. The bacon was great and cooked perfectly. Since it was thick cut bacon it wasn't so crispy that it broke with your first bite. The tomato was one of the best I have had this year. I will be returning to their market to buy those. My friend really enjoyed her Ruben. She said that the rye bread was really great. The service was good. The waitress wasn't thrown at all by a special order and our sodas were always filled. She even took our plates away to box up our food.

I will be returning to Bentley's Bistro for the good food and great service!

Technorati Tags: ,

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Criminalizing Beggars and Those Who Help Them

Maybe that is putting it a little strongly;). The Fresno Bee had an article in today's paper about how the city is going to deal with those who panhandle on medians. It appears that the City Council intends to make it illegal for people to panhandle on the medians.

Calhoun said he hopes that City Attorney James Sanchez will write an ordinance that gives police officers authority to ask people to leave median islands on city streets, and to cite those who don't.

Calhoun also said that citing drivers who give money to panhandlers would further discourage the practice.

In theory I can really get behind this movement. It is a bad place to cause a delay but what is the feasibility of a law forbidding it? Are you going to put these people in jail? If I was homeless and needed shelter for the night I might break that law just for the jail. Or better, are you going to fine them? You might have a hard time collecting.

Then there is the other side of this. So if you support the "needy" you will get cited? I think this just further dulls people's sense of charity.

I also think there are further enforcement issues. How much will this cost the city in manpower? Will we allow them to do the same thing from the side of the street? Currently the Fire Fighters will have an exemption for their "Fill The Helmet" Fundraiser. But the premise of this is out of safety so how does all this jive? I guess we will see.
Sanchez said he would look at ordinances in other cities and what exemptions they allow before drafting new rules for Fresno to consider. Sanchez will present his recommendations to the council within 60 days.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

SJK's Lawyers Awarded $2.5 Million

So now Stacy Johnson-Klein's lawyers have been awarded $2.5 million. There are some very interesting parts in the article in the Fresno Bee such as,

In a four-page ruling, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald S. Black said Johnson-Klein lawyers Warren Paboojian, Dan Siegel and Jason Bell should be paid a total of about $1.25 million. Black then doubled the amount, as permitted by law in cases that are particularly time-consuming and complicated.

I thought that fees were negotiated when contracts were signed with the client. Why is this under the judges per view? Judge Black said something about the money the lawyers would have lost out of pocket if Johnson-Klein would have lost the case. Isn't that a risk that lawyers take when choosing cases? Do they deserve to be rewarded based on their financial risk? What about:
Black paid particular attention to the importance that the law attaches to the concept of public value in justifying a multiplier. He said the law frowns on a multiplier for cases that lack such value.

Something else that I find odd is that Judge Black awarded them this but it still seems to be based on Stacey Johnson-Klein getting an award. But is the lawyer's compensation no longer a factor of her reward? Is this in addition to their "cut" of her award? I am puzzled and am going to attempt to find answers somewhere.

Technorati Tags: ,

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New Meat Market Locations

I saw an ad that advertised a new location for the Meat Market. It is on Fowler and Shepherd. A much cooler development is that they now have Sunday hours! They are open 10am-5pm on Sundays!

Valley Children's VS State Blue Cross Program

So there was an article in the Fresno Bee yesterday on the canceled contract between the Blue Cross Healthy Families program and Valley Children's Hospital. I had a huge issue with the fact that the article was more than half way through before they mentioned that Blue Cross only canceled the Healthy Families and Medi-Cal programs, not the private insurance contracts.

The real crux of the issue is that everyone seems to feel that Valley Children's has done something wrong. This article (and other things I have seen) points out the fact that kids will have to get care from a lesser provider now. How is that Valley Children's fault? If they are so much better than any other provider perhaps they deserve compensation? Maybe all the fault lies with Blue Cross? They are other Healthy Family/Medi-Cal companies that Valley Children's does accept. Maybe the other companies realize the value of a hospital of Valley Children's stature.

I also look at this as a community issue. I value Valley Children's. I like knowing that a hospital with this expertise is available to my kids. It won't be if we demand they take substandard compensation. If they don't make enough money to stay open they will close or worse charge the rest of us twice as much. So maybe we should back the hospital in this case? And maybe The Bee and other media outlets should put out such biased reports. This is still a free market society, lets act like it.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Forum For Candidates

On March 29, 2008 Fresno City College will be holding a forum for candidates running for office. The forums will be held in the faculty dining room on campus. Candidates for City Council districts 2, 4, and 6 will speak from 10-11:45am. Then candidates for judicial race #10 will be speaking from 11:45 - noon. Candidates for mayor will speak from 12-1:45 pm. Then finally the candidates for Board of Supervisors Districts 2 and 5 will speak 1:40-2:55pm. If you need more details you can call 559-355-7040.

Give Away Events at Local Walmarts

Lucky Magazine is on a national tour at Walmarts and is giving away swag bags that include some cute earrings. It looks like you will have to do a "spin and win" game to get them. You can pop over to the site to get dates and times in other areas. But here is the local details!

Wal Mart Supercenter
2761 Jensen Ave
Sanger, CA 93657
Date: 03/22/2008
Time: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Wal Mart Store
7065 North Ingram Avenue
Fresno (N), CA 93650
Date: 03/29/2008
Time: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Monday, March 17, 2008

Union Tries to Get Local Support

According to a Fresno Bee article, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West is trying to unionized Community Med Centers technicians, nursing assistants, clerks and housekeepers. To begin with I don't like unions. Usually they are just lining their own pockets and protecting bad workers. Let us be honest, a good worker is worth what ever the market will pay but incompetents shouldn't be shielded, but I digress. What is the evidence that they have to be making money? The fact that the union is spending money buying 2 billboard ads and numerous print ads. There has to be money in it for the union.

It always surprises me when people assume unions are just here to protect workers. When it comes to wage and benefit controls the solution is simple. If no one will work for a certain amount the employer will pay more. Unions cause prices to go up with no benefit to anyone.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Library Event

The Friends of the Fresno County Library is doing a screening of The Human Comedy with an appearance by Mickey Rooney. To go to the movie screening is $20 but to see the movie and to go to a dessert reception with Mickey Rooney is $50. It will be Friday, April 25, 2008 at the Tower Theatre. You can order tickets online or mail in a check and form.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

California Pizza Kitchen

Usually I avoid going to CPK because I had yet to be impressed by the meals. However a friend gave me a CPK gift card for my birthday so my husband and I decided to give it another try (can't complain about free food!).

My husband (D) ordered the Thai Linguini and I chose the Grilled Sausage & Pepper Penne. You have to understand that D loves anything that is spicy and covered in peanut sauce, so naturally he loved his meal. I took a few bites and was pleasantly surprised by the taste of chicken, veggies, and spaghetti mixed together in peanut sauce. It was definitely spicy, but good!
The waiter gave me Spaghetti Bolognese. I poked at it thinking it didn't look like sausage OR penne. It was pretty much plain spaghetti. Very boring. Not something I would pay twelve bucks for. So when the waiter came back around I pointed it out and he quickly took care of the situation. He was apologetic and offered to box up the spaghetti for us to take! Of course we said, "yes" (Hello! It's free! Not great tasting, but free!).
When the Grilled Sausage & Pepper Penne finally made its way to the table I decided it was worth the wait! The sausage was delicious and the sauce was flavorful! It tasted like they used basil. Plus there were large pieces of bell peppers mixed in (I love bell peppers!). I took back all the bad things I said about CPK as I continued to enjoy my meal.

Simple and clean. My husband commented on how clean and new the inside looked even though it has been around for a few years. Not much in the way of decoration. The lighting was low for the dinner hour. We were seated close to the kitchen but it didn't seem to impede our conversation in anyway. The waiter was friendly and he came by the table just enough times.

Expect to pay $18 to $20 per person (including drink, tax, and tip)
Dessert will cost you another 6 bucks.

Would I eat there again? Sure, if I receive another gift card. But I would probably go to the Spaghetti Factory before I went to CPK again. (SF gives you spumoni with your meal!!!)

Would I send a friend there? I wouldn't inhibit them from going, but I wouldn't tell them they HAD to go either. (Okay, I have not quite made it past my previous view of CPK)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Blogging Slow...

Just warning that blogging may be slow for a little longer... I am sick!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Vance Walberg and the Dribble-Drive Motion offense

There's a Sports Illustrated article about "an obscure junior college coach from Fresno named Vance Walberg" and

his quirky creation, a high-scoring scheme featuring four perimeter players and a host of innovations. Unlike Knight's classic motion offense (which is based on screens) or Pete Carril's Princeton-style offense (which is based on cuts), Walberg's attack was founded on dribble penetration.

His innovative ideas are being compared with those of "Tark, Hubie Brown, Mike Fratello", and even legendary coach John Wooden.

PS This post is about basketball

**NerdMom Addition: NerdDad didn't realize that I had Walberg as a PE Teacher at Clovis West. He was a very popular coach and one of my few PE teachers I liked.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Local Blogs: What do you look for?

As I am blogging away is dawns on me...What are you guys looking for in a local blog?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Vini Vidi Vici

Two Blonde Boys has had a great dining experience at Vini Vidi Vici. He has even provided pictures! Go check it out.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Resturant Review: Tico's Place

Yesterday my friend, Sara, and I decided to go out to lunch (without kids!) and try a new place. We decided to go down to Tico's Place at the corner of Perrin and Sommerville. The idea of a Columbian/Mexican restaurant piqued both of our curiosities. I admit up front that I am hard on a restaurant's food/money value. I cook fairly well so I want something better than mine when I go out. So there is my disclaimer;).

On the whole the food was ok and the service sub-par. If I lived in the neighborhood and was going to eat out and didn't want fast food, Tico's would be an option. It has a casual atmosphere and I would feel fairly comfortable with kids there, if the service get better. But I wouldn't drive across town for it. In reality, I might return to try their appetizers or breakfast but probably not for dinner. If you want more details than that just keep reading;).

First let's look at the food, since that is the biggest part of the restaurant experience. You automatically get chips and salsa. I do have to say that the salsa was quite good. It wasn’t very spicy and that really allowed the other flavors to develop and be tasted. Sara got her fish tacos and on the whole she was satisfied but not overly impressed. The sauce she received with her fish tacos wowed. It was a creamy, lemony sauce with a definite bite. We were going to ask our server what it was called but we never saw her again (I will get to that more later). The fish tacos were based on grilled fish and well seasoned but they were pretty small. They were, what I consider, a great appetizer size. Overall there was plenty of food but I think some of the beans and rice could have been given up for a bit more taco. Sara said her beans were watery but both the beans and rice tasted like the norm.

I ordered the Mixed Chicken Fried Rice based on a great description.

Mixed Chicken Fried Rice—Chicken fried rice with fresh chopped green beans, carrots, and peas and your choice of sweet or green plantains

Over all it was well seasoned but there wasn’t really any bite or anything that really stood out. I was disappointed that the veggies weren’t fresh. It was very obvious that it was taken from a bag of frozen mixed vegetable and while that aspect wasn’t horrible, I was really looking forward to fresh green beans. The dish also came with an arepa or a corn pancake. This was my first arepa so I don't have much to compare it to but it seemed as if it was left over too. It was cold, very dense and heavy. It's obvious that this is one of those dishes that it is designed to be a leftover dish. It uses leftover rice, veg and chicken, there isn’t really a fresh element added to it. While that is fine, I don’t know if it was worth $9.95. If it were priced at about $5-$6, I might be coming down and getting it all the time.

So onto the service and other details. We were out for an early lunch so we weren't surprised when we were the only customers. Our waitress came to our table and was pleasant but when we exchanged pleasantries she made me a little nervous. She explained how she had a virus thing that was bothering her and she really rather be in bed but had to be at the restaurant. Let me just stop right here. While I really do mean it when I ask how you are, I don't want to hear that a sick person is handling my food. And we're back;). Something I found a bit shocking is that there is a full Columbian menu and a separate Mexican menu. I expected a bit more fusion. Most meals were priced well, between $8.95 to $15, with some above that but most in that range. So we order, get our drinks, chips, etc. I ordered an appetizer of Plantains con queso. After a few minutes she came out and told us she wasn't sure that she had enough plantains for our order but she would let us know later. She doesn't ask if we would like a different appetizer or anything. Then she brings out our meals and said she didn't have enough. She refills the drinks then and that is the last time we see her. No, really. The restaurant fills up, more servers come out and no one stops by our table. about 20 minutes after we are done eating we flag down someone and ask for a bill. Then they tried to charge us for the appetizer we didn't get. I understand that they are still new and people have bad days so I hope this isn't the norm.

My overall is that it is ok. If you are just going to go somewhere it is moderate to good. But, if you are looking for a special treat this may not be the place.