Montclair Halloween’s Award Winners

Montclarions showed up in droves for today’s Halloween Parade, and were decked out in their finest costumes.  After reviewing all the photos we snapped this afternoon, it’s time to reveal our award winners – including people and pooches.  We hope you enjoy them.

The People

First, we noticed the one-of-a-kind paraders.  This little girl caught our eye several times, as she’s dressed as a cute and colorful flower-child here.  Isn’t she sweet?

Halloween 2009 - Mom and Daughter

Next, these medieval jousters looked ready to go forth and protect the castle.  We watched them sticking together the whole time, and they were a matched pair time-traveling from the Middle Ages.

Halloween 2009 - Jouster Kids

The Pooches

This dog-angel was very energetic and having a very good time, waiting for the parade to begin.  We tried to get her to pose, but realized a more natural photo op was best to share with you.

Halloween 2009 - Angelic Dog

Another pooch, complete with prison garb, really made  me laugh!  Prisoner Number K9 was happily strolling around the Village and inspecting things after the parade was over.

Halloween 2009 - Prison Dog

The Mixed Family

You know that families resemble their pooches, and vice-versa.  Here’s a group of bees, including a mother, son and dog.  Among all the parade attendees, this was the only mixed family to dress completely alike – and they looked great together.

Halloween 2009 - Bee Family

So those are my award winners from this afternoon.  There was an Elvis, a peacock, three Dorothy’s, and too many princesses and firemen to keep count.  We also noticed creepier folks like ghosts, witches and other ghoulish types walking in the light of day.

Mostly we saw many excited kids, who were simply thrilled to be parading and trick-or-treating their way through the Village.  We know tomorrow is the real Halloween, so have a great day!

More info:  Click to read about Montclair Halloween’s VIP Paraders.

Montclair Halloween’s VIP Paraders

Montclair Village celebrated Halloween in fine form today.  With great weather to lure crowds, our small-town parade went off without a hitch.  The parade route began near the Lucky’s Market, proceeding down Mountain, LaSalle, Moraga and into Montclair Park.

Our local VIPs kicked off the parade this afternoon, and we were able to capture all of them.  We felt almost like those TV entertainment reporters, capturing the movers and shakers.  Here’s some photographic proof.

Halloween 2009 - Council Rep Quan

District 4 Council Rep Jean Quan – Pictured above, Jean Quan was handing out California poppy seeds to the awaiting parents and kids who had queued up to parade.  (We nabbed a couple packets at an earlier Farmers Market, though never planted our orange beauties.)  A little while later, Quan kicked off the parade itself.

Halloween 2009 - Dog Mayor

Montclair Mayor Little Bear – Next we see Little Bear, the elected leader serving Montclair District, as the lead pooch drove by.  Several other canine leaders appeared in the next car, including the vice mayor, deputy dog and other cabinet officials.  We eventually met up with Little Bear in person, who was busy reviewing local trees.

Halloween 2009 - Horses Parade

Wells Fargo Horses – What’s a Western parade without some equine presence?  We see the lead horse, followed by four handsome steeds (we think) pulling the old-fashioned Wells carriage.  Our neighbor used to run a stable near Redwood Regional Park, and he told us they used to ride their horses during earlier Halloween parades.

Halloween 2009 - Band Marches

Skyline High School Band – It’s Halloween, so our local high school band came dressed as ghosts and other ghoulish characters.  They performed Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which is de rigueur this year.  Here you see the band completing their march down Mountain, as our Oakland policeman looks at what’s next.

Halloween 2009 - Fire Truck

Oakland Fire Truck – We love this close-up of a shiny truck driving down the parade route, as we bowed and gave thanks to these first responders.  After the parade, we chatted with the firemen and asked who had performed the Miss America wave so well.  One fessed up but clarified that we got it wrong – he was doing the Queen Elizabeth version.

Not pictured here? The hundreds of parents and kids who followed these VIP paraders.  Everyone sauntered down the Lions Club parade route, stopping frequently for candy offered by many shop-keepers.  Eventually, the paraders made it to Montclair Park safely – and the 2009 edition of Montclair’s Halloween Eve entered the history books.

More info:  Click to read about Montclair Halloween’s Award Winners.

Oakland, Consider Four-Day Week

Here’s a bright idea!  To deliver additional budget savings, the City of Oakland might consider Monday-Thursday office hours.  Stay with us, because the idea’s not that original or far-fetched.

We just read about Utah state government workers, who clock ten-hour days and get paid for their 40-hour weeks.  The difference is their offices are shuttered and they don’t work on Fridays.  In return, the state saves money.

Employee Punch Card

How has this experiment worked for Utah?  Swimmingly, but not for the reasons that were originally envisioned about energy savings.  Instead, the major benefit has been overtime pay!  Apparently when workers complete their ten hours shifts, they feel like going home.

All told, Utah has saved $500k in energy bills, $200k in janitorial services and a whopping $4.1 million in overtime payments.  We don’t know the overall percentage of the state budget saved, but this still sounds like a decent option to us.  Other states are trying this out as well, such as Washington and Hawaii.

The City of Oakland has already mandated one day/month closures, and that’s one way to save bucks.  It wouldn’t be hard to imagine having Friday closures beyond the current schedule.  Also the extended hours on other weekdays would likely be viewed as a convenience and welcomed by Oaklanders.

We know that some city jobs already follow longer-shift patterns, and that police, fire and other emergency services must be available after-hours.  But this four-day week would be different and more widespread.  The hours for many city services are truly fungible.

So let’s continue to get creative with our budgeting efforts.  We’re not sure if this scheduling option was ever tossed around during earlier discussions, but think it’s worthy of City Council time and consideration.

Fingers Crossed To Re-Open Bay Bridge

We do want our dowager, the Oakland Bay Bridge, to be treated and released from the ICU soon.  It’s important to make her Eastern Span healthy and safe, during those last few years in service.  It’s also hard to wait patiently for the bridge to re-open – especially if you are one of those unlucky Montclair-to-San Francisco commuters.

Keep Fingers Crossed

This morning, the travel times were atrocious.  We heard about three-hour commutes into San Francisco while cars crawled, at 10-15 mph, across the Richmond, Golden Gate and San Mateo bridges respectively.  No word on Dumbarton speeds, which may have been a bit better.

According to various traffic reports, BART handled a half-million passengers.  In the East Bay, this morning’s commuter count jumped nearly 50 percent, from 56 to 83 thousand passengers.  We also heard the Houston Rockets took a ferry boat to play the Warriors.

What’s happening now? Caltrans is working on a better fix to the I-Bar problem first discovered last Labor Day, including stronger welds and pieces that are tied together.  We sure hope the quick-fatigue problem will be resolved, so cumulative traffic and high winds won’t knock things down again!

We know the Bay Bridge will be closed again tomorrow.  Caltrans spokeman, Bart Ney, would not commit to any opening time – better safe than sorry.

November 2nd Update:  Finally, the Oakland Bay Bridge re-opened this morning.  After some re-designs, fixes, tests and more tests, Caltrans decided this effort would hold. Of course, our regular commuting patterns return tomorrow.

Missing Election Day, In Oakland

Something seemed empty the past few weeks.  We felt more energized last year, wrapped around the U.S. Prexy race.  Remember when good Americans were busy carving their Barack pumpkins?

This year, Oaklanders don’t even participate in Election Day!

Obama Pumpkin

What ever happened to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November?  Why did we learn this date so clearly in grade school, anyway?  Maybe November 3, 2009 matters to some Americans but we’re excluded from the democracy party.

In Alameda County, Oaklanders are not going to polls – there’s nothing on the ballot.  We have done the appropriate due diligence, and hit the Alameda Registrar’s site.  The lucky county voters live in Albany, Emeryville, Newark and the 10th U.S. Congressional District.

We’ll just watch proceedings from the outside this year.

Fantasy Pick Comes True: Hummus

A while ago, we were looking at Montclair Village’s prime storefronts that were “for rent” and made fantasy picks about new food and non-food occupants.  Among the fantasies, we wanted someone to “offer Middle Eastern takeout, including authentic falafel, hummus, tabouli, salads, etc.  Why wait for the falafel stand on Sundays?”

Over on Moraga Avenue, that fantasy pick is coming true.  We took snapshots of Amba, which plans to serve up all the good stuff – namely falafel, hummus, salads and fries. The store posted their “opening soon” sign along with construction permits received last May.

Amba - Soon

We noticed activity near Amba, and peeked inside to see construction underway.  The counter features cool green-aqua-white tiles.  Also the place seems large enough to have tables and chairs inside, which the Village needs.

Amba - Construction

The workers, who were pulling wires today, didn’t know very much about the place.  Based on the building materials scattered around, there should be some walls going up soon.  While it’s hard to read tea-leaves about Amba’s opening day, I’ll guess less than a month or two.

We originally made our fantasy pick to replace the old Jamba Juice location.  However you won’t hear any complaints, at least from this corner, about the proper location for Middle Eastern morsels – it’s terrific to have this fast-food option in the Village.

Oakland, The Manufacturing City Of The West

You could say that Oakland’s searching for its next identity.  Are we aspiring to become the Brooklyn or Amsterdam of the West?  We have some momentum in these directions.  While the jury’s still out, one thing we know is that our old, heavy manufacturing glory days are behind us.

Nearly a hundred years ago, Oaklanders were actively promoting their industrial charms and grasping for that manufacturing brass ring.  We recently unearthed a 1920 publication that’s meant to lure more business to Greater Oakland – and is called Oakland, The Manufacturing City of the West.

Oakland Metro - Intro

Oakland Boosters In Full Swing

Current Oakland boosters might recognize this kind of hard-sell pitch, complete with bragging rights about our perfect weather.  Though we don’t believe you need scientists to “state that 59 degrees marks perfection.”

The grandiose language reflects a different time, though.  Come join “the industrial center of a State larger than the Kingdom of Italy.”  Come join a “city of world possibilities, a city of leadership and service – a city of destiny.”  These declarations are a bit much!

Oakland Metro - Products

Big-Time Manufacturing Here

By 1920, there were so many different goods manufactured here.  We knew about the food and shipbuilding businesses, but were surprised to learn that artificial limbs, violins, washing machines and adding machines also came from local factories.  It’s hard to imagine that 18,000 products were manufactured in 2,000 industrial plants.

War-time shipbuilding became a major source of employment and the Moore Company loomed large.  Others like Bethlehem Steel showed up for a short time as well.  But Moore had staying power by extending its tendrils everywhere and, between wars, firing up ancillary businesses to support building construction.

Moore - Paramount Balcony

The Manufacturing Legacy

Moore always commemorated their projects with photographs of employees and other VIPs.  My favorite image is their huge steel girder (above), ready for the Paramount Theatre balcony.  When the girder was manufactured in 1931, Moore claimed it was the heaviest and largest piece ever built on the West Coast:  105 tons and 120 x 9.5 feet.  Some eighty years later, that balcony continues to support theater-goers.

Oakland’s manufacturing heyday is long gone, and those 2,000 plants have vanished without much trace.  Production and transportation don’t have to be in the same place anymore.  Our 2009 aspirations aren’t exactly clear, but it’s probably a good thing to diversify – get known for some things, get other things fixed.

More info:  Thanks to the National Park Service’s Maritime Library.  After I searched their old-fashioned card catalog, the librarians delivered materials and also gave permission to xerox and share images online.