When You Visit the Sundial

The Sacramento River bends to the east and then turns back south at Redding California. Turtle Bay Exploration Park attracts visitors from the local area and around the world. Spanning the river there is the famous Sundial Bridge. It really is a sundial; on the ground are markers indicating the time of day when the bridge spire’s shadow passes on June 21, the summer solstice. (You’ll need to extrapolate on other dates.)

The park also contains the obligatory gift shop and a café. As with most dining establishments, shirts and shoes must be worn. I don’t know what goes on in Redding, but it apparently necessitates displaying a rule that bottoms also are required.

Son of a gun… big fun on the bayou

Visiting a “New Orleans Bistro” in a gentrifying neighborhood gave me another reminder that I have gotten too old. I ordered Jambalaya (it was delicious) and added “But no crawfish pie or filé gumbo.” The server’s face was a big question mark, perhaps wondering if unlocking the front door that day had been such a good idea. When I rambled on with something about Hank Williams, she forced a sort-of smile, saying something about putting in the order as she backed away from the table.
It had not occurred to me that not everyone – especially in a Creole/Cajun-themed dining establishment – knows who Hank Williams was.

Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and filé gumbo

Shopping Under the Influence

The Hustle is an on-line news disseminator whose stated mission is “to keep you informed… highlighting a handful of topical stories and adding perspective and color to make it easy to understand.” Wanting to know more about its readers they did a survey on a vital issue: Shopping While Drunk. Of the 2,174 responses, 79% said they had made purchases while inebriated. The Internet of course has made it much easier, saving an imbiber all the effort and risk of driving to the local mall. The Hustle extrapolated that Drunk Shopping is a $45 billion business in the U.S.

“My curiosity is piqued when inebriated,” she said. “I think, ‘Let’s do it!’”

Some fun facts:

  • Average annual expenditure is $444. Oregon and Washington are in the average range; California about $100 more. Kentucky leads all with $742. (The inescapable conclusion is that having Mitch McConnell as senator increases alcohol consumption.)
  • Clothes and shoes are the most popular purchases, followed by movies, games and food.
  • Exploiting this market can make a person the richest – or maybe second richest; we can only guess Vladimir Putin’s fortune – in the world: 85% of purchases are made from Amazon.
  • Maybe not surprising is that least likely to shop while drunk are persons working in retail businesses.

The corporate world has caught on and is busy devising ways to entice drunk shoppers – aided no doubt by Amazon, Google, Facebook and others whose business is monetizing people’s personal information.

If you think this causes any embarrassment, you are wrong. The Seattle Times found citizens in that technology capitol eager to share with the world stories of stupid things they bought while under the influence.

The Flintstones in California

You may have seen the house on your way to or from San Francisco International Airport. Its general appearance is of large boulders painted purple and orange. It overlooks I-280, about a dozen miles below SFO. Built in 1976, the home soon became popularly known as the “Flintstone House” because of its perceived resemblance to the “Modern Stone-Age Family”’s Bedrock residence.

The house recently sold for $2.8 million, well below the surrounding town of Hillsborough’s median $4.1 million. The former publisher of the former newspaper the San Francisco Examiner purchased it in 2017 and began a redesign of the outside landscape. The transformation included 15-foot dinosaurs, a giraffe, a mastodon and sign declaring “Yabba Dabba Doo.”

Neighbors were not appreciative. Complaints to the town resulted in an inspection that determined the owner had done the work without necessary permits. The owner paid a $200 fine but as yet has ignored the town’s order to remove the unapproved embellishments. The matter is now in civil court.

The controversy is reminiscent of a Seattle building affectionately known as “The Blob.” Its last tenant was a Greek restaurant before the structure was demolished in 1997.

Meanwhile, seventy-five miles north of the Flintstone House, a homeowner in my erstwhile hometown Santa Rosa built a fence around his property. Jason Windus erected the six-foot-high enclosure to contain his dogs. A neighbor’s complaint brought out a city inspector who advised Mr. Windus that the code required a fence bordering a sidewalk could be no higher than three feet. The owner complied and installed a garden-party tableau, easily viewed from the street over the now three-foot fence, of five nude mannequins. A sign resting on a vacant lawn chair read, “Reserved seat for the nosey neighbor that complained about my fence to the city.”

A thief absconded with two mannequins a couple nights later, but Windus has four more on the way to increase the number of naked partygoers to seven.