Last weekend, I went to that really nifty fabric store just off Union Square that has multiple levels of bolts and bolts and bolts of sultry silks, voluptuous velvets, colorful corduroys and dang good damasks. It's like being wrapped inside a rainbow that's been bunched up and stuffed inside a kaleidoscope and lodged in Elton John's brain.

To get there from the East Bay, I drove across the Bay Bridge and paid my 5 or 6 bucks, rolling smoothly through the toll plaza, which signaled my electronic pass to beep its perky little beep, which always makes me feel like a package of Top Ramen going through the grocery store checkout. The digital toll booth display told me that I was "VALID, ETC." I like being valid, etc.

PHOTO: RON BURDA - MERCURY NEWS A price tag about $200 million higher than a competing replacement plan may doom a design for an eastern bridge segment
PHOTO: RON BURDA - MERCURY NEWS A price tag about $200 million higher than a competing replacement plan may doom a design for an eastern bridge segment that calls for towers and cables reminiscent of the Golden Gate Bridge. [970214 CA 3B 2] 2/14 3bmo DESIGN PHOTO BY RON BURDA Suspension style bridge proposed to replace the eastern section of the bay bridge. This is looking southeast from Treasure Island Naval Base. Island on the right is Yerba Buena Island with Oakland docks far behind. This is an artist's rendering. ( Ron Burda )

And, this time, I certainly felt validated in wondering if my 5 or 6 bucks would be going to finance, say, a tub of Costco guacamole for the proposed opening bash for the new eastern span of the bridge on Labor Day weekend. Or maybe it will fund a firework. One firework. Or maybe it will help pay my share for one of the hundreds of Porta Potties they'll have to rent for the anticipated crowd.

Usually when my pass beeps, I am fairly confident my money will be spent on something wild and foolish like, oh, you know, maintaining the bridge so it won't rust and fall down. But it seems $5.6 million of our hard-parted-with toll money will go to pay for this big party. For this bridge. This bridge that's overpriced and overdue. (I didn't know "suspension" meant keeping us in suspense until it finally got completed).


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So, just open it and let me go across it. In my car. To get to the other side. That's what it's there for. Not to be a party platform for an estimated 150,000 people, some from the SF side who will likely be naked, which will soil many an eye, and someone will have to pay for all those trips to the ophthalmologist. And that will probably come out of my toll.

If they simply must have a party, I say, for the next few months, we should all help out by paying our tolls in party supplies. Just roll up to the toll plaza and hand over a bag of tortilla chips. It will be greatly appreciated.

Here, kitty, kitty

So, the other day on the street by my house, there was a toaster oven sitting on the sidewalk with a "free" sign on it. And there was a Kit Kat inside. Not a cute kitty cat, but an actual unwrapped Kit Kat candy bar. My spouse's theory: "It's probably a Wile E. Coyote-style trap. Beware the anvil."

Hail to the chiefs

Presidents Day has the best TV commercials. It has to. It's an otherwise boring day that has no designated celebratory trappings other than mattress purchases and maybe wearing red white and blue. So advertising execs have to get pretty creative. Check out this commercial for the annual Prez Day Honda sale: http://bit.ly/VUM1wn. It has Abe Lincoln doing a little rap riff of "Four score and many years ago ..." backed up by George Washington singing, "I wanna 'four score' a deal with you," and Lincoln adding in a deep voice, "Oh yeahhhh. Massive deal." This doesn't make me want to buy a Honda because I already have one. But it makes me want to hear the Gettysburg Address, as sung by Lou Rawls.

Sticking it to gnomes

Oakland has its gnomes -- you may have heard about the diminutive hand-painted creatures that made big news last month as they kept popping up on the base of utility poles around Lake Merritt. Well, now Alameda has its stick figures. Well, there's at least one. And it's riding on a stick skateboard, drawn in black paint on the white exterior baseboard of a Chinese acupuncture clinic. It's not as cute at the gnomes, but probably better on the half pipe.

Wayward warrior

There have been gnomes of late, stick figures and Kit Kats. But so far, no terra-cotta warriors. I've been on the lookout since SF's Asian Art Museum announced one of them got lost on his way to the museum's special exhibition, "China's Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor's Legacy," opening Feb. 22. Apparently he has come to life as a small Asian man in a mud-colored costume and has been running around the Bay Area. He has so far been spotted in Sproul Plaza at Cal, at San Pedro Square in San Jose and on the Google campus, possibly trying to Google a map. If I find him in my neighborhood, I'll certainly steer him in the right direction. And I'll give him some tortilla chips for his bridge toll.

Contact Angela Hill at ahill@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/giveemhill.