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Sign of the Times — VACANCY

The good news on Bay Farm Island is that La Piñata opened a restaurant at the Harbor Bay Isle shopping center a while back and it’s usually packed. And some time ago, Jim’s Diner opened at the golf course. Those eateries help cushion the blow that residents have faced with the closures of Enrico’s and the Ice Cream Dock.

And that empty Ice Cream Dock storefront begs the question: Will Alameda’s longest-lived, independently owned ice cream shop perhaps open a second store?

Alas, no. Kate Pryor, owner of  Tucker’s Super-Creamed Ice Cream said she is so busy with her Park Street location she wouldn’t have time to give to a second shop. Too bad for Bay Farmers, but true enough. Tucker’s fills up regularly with home-made ice-cream lovers, even late at night.

She made her latest creation in honor of Southwest Airlines. Turns out she and her husband, Dave, didn’t get their peanuts during a flight and mentioned it to the flight attendant during the landing. The attendant gave them an enormous bag of pretzels and honey roasted peanuts and pretzels and mentioned that she lives in Alameda and goes to Tucker’s. So Pryor used the gift to make “Nuts about Southwest”  ice cream.

Anyone else out there who has a gift for making good ice cream and who wants to make a business out of it? There’s a shop waiting for you at Harbor Bay Isle.

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Controversial curriculum OKed for elementary schools

No more breath-holding over the anti-bullying curriculum that polarized parents into clearly defined support and opposition camps. The Board of Education voted 3-2 last night to approve the 45-minute curriculum focusing on fairness and tolerance of children who come from non-heterosexual families. Patricia Spencer and Mike McMahon cast the no-votes. The Alameda Journal‘s Peter Hegarty has the story. And here’s more from Michele Ellson of The Island.

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Only a few fleas at new market

The launch Saturday of a flea market in the parking lot at College of Alameda wasn’t exactly spectacular. Perhaps it was the holiday weekend, perhaps the fog and chill, or the maybe it’s simply too soon for word to have spread, but the sparse number of vendors we’re packing up to leave by 1:30 p.m.

Can’t blame them. As business people, they need customers. In the early afternoon there were very few. As in, maybe six or eight people. Maybe a crowd came in the morning, but if it did, something must have changed significantly in the afternoon.

But, hope springs eternal. A man, who seemed to be a customer, was telling his friend, who seemed to be a vendor (it was so quiet that some vendors were taking breaks away from their booths) that it just needs time.

“It’ll grow,” he said. “More people will hear about it and it’ll catch on.”

It certainly caught on at Laney College, where the same operator runs a swap meet. But there is more competition in Alameda, with yard sales, the monthly antique fair, and thrift and antique shops. While it’s tempting to hark back to the days when hundreds of people roamed around the former drive-in parking lot (now a housing development near Marina Village) bargaining and buying everything from dishes to furniture, our market may just be glutted.

We’ll hope for the best. Interested consumers need to bring a buck to get into the weekly Saturday sale. Maybe next week there will be more interesting items; the opening day mainly offered belts, wallets, purses, food and a sprinkling of used electronic items. If we are to hark back to the thriving flea market of our past, we’ll need more in the way of furniture and other household items.

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Veggin’ out on the West End

Maybe that little piggy had roast beef, but he should stop today at the Farmers’ Market on Haight Street (just east of Webster Street) for a more balanced feast. The year-round market, which recently moved from the parking lot on Webster Street to the parking lot on Haight Street, is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays. Besides produce, there are flowers and baked goods available, so it’s even a good spot to shop for gifts.

For details on products, their origin and even recipes, go to the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market site here.

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Remember: High Street Bridge to close until September

It’ll be a time of going from Point A to Point B via a detour during seismic upgrade work on the High Street Bridge from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday (beginning this Wednesday). The work will continue through Sept. 1. Most of us are on automatic pilot when it comes to our routine routes so this will surely cause some turn-arounds until drivers get used to the idea of the closed bridge.

It’ll also add congestion to the other Island exits, so while you’re on the road, breathe deeply, count to 10 and be grateful that these extended bridge closures don’t happen often. As for the residents near the bridge, enjoy the days of decreased traffic noise (assuming the seismic work doesn’t make too much racket).

Seismic work on the Park Street Bridge is nearly completed and required closing only partial closure.

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Life on the Island: Alameda Safe Schools curriculum

Life on the Island, the column I write for the Alameda Journal is up online now. This week it’s about the Alameda Unified School District’s proposed anti-bullying curriculum…the one that has generated buckets of publicity in recent months. I write, in part:

…teaching about same-gender families is no more about sex than the words “marriage” and “husband” and “wife” and “wedding” are about sex. Yes, marriage is based in part on a sexual commitment, but we speak about husbands and wives all the time in a way in which sexuality is not the focus. To children, the word lesbian is no more about sex than the word marriage is.

You can read the whole piece here.

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Alameda push poll on gay and lesbian school curriculum

A neighbor reports that she just got a phone call in which she was asked to answer a series of automated survey questions. Below is her best recollection of what she was asked:

Do you care about education in Alameda schools?

Do you believe that a curriculum explaining lesbian, gay and transgender issues should be allowed in the Alameda school district?

Do you think gay, lesbian and transgender are appropriate vocabulary to be teaching at the elementary school level?

Do you that marriage only between one man and one woman should be allowed in California?

(This last one is really confusing.)

She says she thinks there was one more substantive question and then the recorded voice asked two bits of demographic info. One, if she was 50 or older and, two, if she was male. The call came from a Washington, D.C. area code and was conducted by a survey company (she didn’t catch the name). Perhaps you too have received such a call? Perhaps you too will receive such a call?

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AUSD master planning meeting tonight at Haight School

Tonight is the first of three Alameda Unified School District community meetings about the future of Alameda schools. The idea, as I understand it, is to create a master plan for the public school system in Alameda. The meeting starts at 6:30 and Superintendent Kirsten Vital as well as members of the school board will be discussing three possible scenarios for addressing the long term fiscal sustainability of public education in Alameda. They’ll be discussing how dwindling state funding impacts the district, the possibility of chartering the district as on whole, as well as the possibility of generating more funds for Alameda schools at the local level. The meeting is at Haight Elementary.

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Alameda Anti-bullying curriculum meeting continued to Monday May 18

The Alameda Journal‘s report on Tuesday night’s Alameda school board meeting is here. Both KTUV and NBC came to town and did stories. Passions were high in the over-crowded council meeting room, and more than a hundred people who filled out speaker slips left without giving their two cents. At next Monday’s meeting, speakers will be given three minutes to talk…and who knows what will happen if more people show up wanting to weigh in. Here’s info about Monday’s meeting.