Celebrate Christmas in the Park

Celebrate Christmas in the Park

One thing I miss during Christmas season, besides my family, are the Weihnachtsmarkets in Germany. Always a true sign that Christmas is coming, a great place to buy local gifts and drink some Gluehwein.

Every blood donation "counts" treeA surprising ‘christmassy’ event is Christmas in the Park in San Jose. This year they broke the world record for most decorated Christmas trees!  600 decorated trees can be seen on Cesar Chavez Plaza.

Some trees are decorated in memory of lost ones, there is a Grinch, and a Dracula advertising the mobile blood drive December 22nd from 12 pm to 5 pm, at Cesar Chavez Plaza.

 

 

LED ornament

My favorite trees were the Mentor Trees, showcasing the mentorship program between some colleges and elementary, middle and high schools in the area with some LED ornaments that glowed in different colors and patterns and the Washington Elementary Glasses Club Tree, which has some inspiring reasons why to wear glasses!

Washington Elementary Glasses Club Tree

 

The 40 animated displays is probably the reason why there were so many babies and young children during the day.

Caribbean Christmas animationThe one that made me smile the most was the Caribbean Christmas, a bunch of frogs playing a Christmas song in Caribbean tunes.

 

There is also a community stage and you can go see Santa.

This tradition is open through January 7th, 2018 and free with donations.

How are you decorating your tree?

See the light throughout the tunnel

See the light throughout the tunnel

This time of the year, when it gets dark early, it is a joy to see all the light installations, private and public.

Sonic runway, San JoseSan Jose partnered with Burning Man in an initiative called ‘Playa to Paseo’ to bring more engaging art downtown. The first of these, the Sonic Runway, is in front of the City Hall on Santa Clara Street from Fourth to Sixth. Everyday from 5pm to 12am thru mid January 2018 the Sonic Runway “is a corridor of lights that visualizes the speed of sound”, according to the official website. I recommend going both ways through the tunnel; one way the sound is coming at you the other way you are in sync with lights and sound.

 

When I visited, the early visitors were enjoying a stroll thru the tunnel, in both directions. I saw families with kids, but also couples on their way to a night out in town.

A short while later the skaters used a newspaper box as a ramp to perform some jumps and slides inside the tunnel.Skater in the Sonic Runway, San Jose

I had the feeling the only ones not so thrilled about it are the city hall employees trying to go home at 5pm.

 

The other light installations in the ‘Illuminating Downtown’ program are:

(http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/03/22/map-interactive-light-displays-downtown-san-jose/)

  • ‘Show Your Stripes’ – Second and San Fernando

You can use a phone code to change the patterns and colors of lights on the building

  • ‘Sensing You’ and ‘Sensing Water’ – Highway 87 underpasses at Santa Clara and San Fernando

Lights responding to movements of passers-by

Crack the code, an interactive game

  • ‘San Carlos Lantern Relay’ – South side of San Carlos, between Fourth and Market

Eight boxes on poles flash an interactive light show

  • ‘Voxel Cloud’ – Pierce Ave at Market St.

3-D light sculpture on top of the apartment building

 

Have you setup your own Holiday light installation? If you have post a photo on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/untilsuburbia/.

Learn about inventors

Learn about inventors

So, when you google Menlo Park you will get a lot of results talking about Thomas Edison. Who, it turns out lived in Menlo Park, New Jersey and that development was named after the Californian town.

 

1920s general store at the Museum of American History, Palo AltoThe Museum of American History in Palo Alto is running a current exhibit titled: Thomas Edison and His Rivals: Bringing Electricity to America.

You can learn about American ingenuity and the rivalries between Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla, until February 18th, 2018. They also show a lot of different inventions from the three tech pioneers.

The subject is not surprising for the Museum of American History, which focuses on inventions and technology from 1750 to 1950.Melmac at the Museum of American History, Palo Alto

The permanent exhibit features a 1920s general store, an early 20th century kitchen and outside a replica of an auto-repair-shop, a print shop and the marvelous garden.

It is a great museum to spent some time inside and outside. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5.

What is your favorite invention?

Climb Mount Umunhum

Climb Mount Umunhum

Ever wondered about the building on top of one of the mountains near Saratoga? You can now hike to the summit (or drive) and learn about the history of this place.

Mount Umunhum one of the highest mountains in the Santa Cruz mountain range (3,486 feet) was once a sacred site of the local Native Americans. In fact, rituals are still performed here today.

Radar tower on top of Mount UmunhumThe Mountain is easy to spot because of the radar tower on top of it. From 1957 to 1980 this was part of the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) defense system. SAGE was a network of computer systems that coordinated data from many radar sites and processed it into a single image of the airspace over a wide area.* Back in these days as many as 125 military personnel with their families lived at Mount Umunhum.

There are three parking areas depending on your intentions:

  1. Jacques Ridge parking lot is the closest to the entrance of the park – furthest hike to the summit.
  2. Bald Mountain parking area – from here the hike up to the summit is 3.7 miles
  3. Mt Umunhum Summit parking area – 159 steps to the summit

Guadalupe Creek OverlookWe only did a short hike, from the Bald Mountain parking lot to the Guadalupe Creek Overlook 1.3 miles each way and then drove to the Summit parking area. But I would like to do the whole summit hike at one point. On the summit itself the views are amazing! We were there on a cloudy day, but on a clear day you can see from the Pacific to the Sierra Nevada.

There is also an audio tour app about the Stories of Mount Umunhum for free in the app store of your choice. You should download the audio tour before you go because there is limited cell service.

What mountains do you like to climb?

 

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-Automatic_Ground_Environment

Be alive in Colma

Be alive in Colma

If your favorite Halloween outing is going to a cemetery you might find Colma attractive.

The city of 1792 (2010) has seventeen cemeteries – , including one for pets. Four are listed in the cemetery travel guide! Hence the ratio of alive to dead is 1:1000. Colma was build as an necropolis, after San Francisco in the 1900 outlawed interments and then in 1912 evicted all cemeteries.  

 

Hair jewelry at the Colma Historic AssociationI started my exploration of Colma at the local Historical Association (free, but donations are encouraged). They embrace the dead neighbors with interesting knowledge about customs about grief. For example did you know that hair of deceased was made into jewelry? For those of you interested in genealogy the museum also has a reading room.

 

Crypts at the Italian Cemetery in ColmaI can recommend the walkable Italian Cementy next to the museum. A lot of interesting crypts and someone at the museum told me that people like to picnic there on the weekends. 

 

Some famous underground residents of Colma are:

Joe DiMaggio

Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery

Wyatt Earp

Hills of Eternity Jewish Cemetery

William Randolph Hearst

Cypress Lawn Cemetery

Levi Strauss

Home of Peace Jewish Cemetery

 

None of these resting places has a special Halloween offering, but two of them do occasionally offer tours:

Cypress Lawn (http://www.cypresslawnheritagefoundation.org/events/activities-presentations/) and Holy Cross

(http://www.holycrosscemeteries.com/locations/colma.htm).

Grave decorated in Halloween theme

For a Halloween event in the area you can go to the Annual Halloween Spook Parade and Costume Contest, Tuesday, October 31st from 3 pm – 5:30 pm at the Serramonte Center in Daly City.

 

What is your favorite passtime on Halloween?

 

Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colma,_California

https://cemeterytravel.com/2013/01/06/colma-before-the-graveyards/

www.findagrave.com/

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/06/sports/football/the-town-of-colma-where-san-franciscos-dead-live.html

http://usgwtombstones.org/california/sanmateo.html

Unlock the Shakespearian treasure trove

Unlock the Shakespearian treasure trove

Sometimes I find the most amazing things without looking for them. I was killing time in Moss Landing last weekend before a beautiful kayak tour and stumbled upon this little gem of a museum: the Shakespeare Society of America and its collection of artifacts, plus a gift shop. The museum is free, but encourages donations. Opening hours are usually from 10 am – 5 pm daily.

 

Shakespeare bust from the Shakespeare Society of America, Moss LandingWhen R. Thad Taylor, the founder of the Globe Playhouse in Los Angeles, passed away in 2006, the Shakespeare Society of America had to relocate. In 2008 it moved to Moss Landing.

 

If you are an admirer of Shakespeare you should check it out. The collection consists of rare books, artwork and other memorabilia. A tour especially for school classes grades 9-12 teaches the work of William Shakespeare.

 

What is your favorite Shakespeare play?

Find Arnautoff’s murals

Find Arnautoff’s murals

Ever since I saw the murals on the Roth Building in Palo Alto I was intrigued to find out more about Victor Arnautoff. The Roth Building located on 300 Homer Ave is the former Palo Alto Medical Clinic and the soon-to-be Palo Alto History Museum.

 

Mural by Victor Arnautoff depicting Sir William Osler and a patient at the Roth Building in Palo AltoWhen the hospital first opened in 1932 it was quite a stir due to one of Victor Arnautoff’s murals depicting a half undressed woman receiving treatment. In fact it caused a traffic jam on Homer Ave due to the cars driving by so slowly to get a glimpse of the art work.

 

Arnautoff himself a Russian-American artist who trained with Diego Rivera and came to Palo Alto to teach art at Stanford is most famous for his artistic contribution to the Coit Tower. The Roth Building frescos are among his earliest works in the United States.

 

Replicas of Victor Arnautoff's murals at the Palo Alto Medical FoundationWhen the Palo Alto Medical Clinic moved to 795 El Camino Real, it placed replica medallions of the artworks at its front entrance. On my search for these replicas, I talked to a woman from the hospitals philanthropy department, who knew there had been a story about Arnautoff on KQED that morning. Apparently a once lost mural had been found in the Richmond post office and is now waiting to be restored for the Richmond Historic Museum. (https://ww2.kqed.org/arts/2017/10/04/richmond-mural-rediscovered/)

 

But this does not conclude the Arnautoff concurrences. The San Francisco State University Library currently has an exhibit about Arnautoff: “Arnautoff and the Politics of Art” which runs through December 12th. You can see it Monday – Friday from 1 pm to 5 pm.

 

Have you spotted Arnautoff’s work?

 

Resources:

https://richmondmuseum.org/arnatouff-mural/

http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2015/10/02/richmond-post-office-mural-missing-for-decades-rediscovered/

https://news.sfsu.edu/news-story/library-exhibit-features-new-deal-era-murals

http://www.sfchronicle.com/art/article/Famed-labor-murals-reproduced-at-SF-State-12178439.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Arnautoff

http://www.frugalfun.com/discovered.html

http://www.pastheritage.org/Tours/Homer/HomerWalk.html

http://www.pastheritage.org/Articles/ArnatouffMF.html

http://www.pamf.org/about/pamfhistory/moral.html

https://library.sfsu.edu/exhibit/victor-arnautoff-and-politics-art

Play! with art

Play! with art

The new exhibit at the Palo Alto Art Center is called Play! An artful approach to make us realize that we all need to be more playful.

Installation at the Palo Alto Art CenterThe first installment entering the gallery reminded me of my son’s wish when he was younger that he wanted a rollercoaster in the house. The slide came out of the wall and connected with colorful paths up and down the wall.

The most fascinating installment for me was the moving globes. Nils Voelker’s Bits and Pieces  felt like they are doing a dance for us. Nils Voelker’s Bits and Pieces at the Palo Alto Art Center

My son retreated to the nook, folding origami objects.

Andy Warhol’s and Billy Kluver’s Silver Clouds at the Palo Alto Art CenterWe all enjoyed Andy Warhol’s and Billy Kluver’s Silver Clouds. We spent quite some time throwing the silver balloons towards the fan.

The Art Center also offers events around the theme of playA Season of Play offers a lot of family workshops from integrational playdates to stop-motion animation.  

 

Where do you go and play? 

Take a watercolor journey

Take a watercolor journey

The Foster in Palo Alto is a relatively new art space. Featured are watercolors from Tony Foster who chronicles his wilderness adventures in aquarelles.

Tony Foster's pop artFoster a trained pop culture artist turned to self taught plein air painter in hope of protecting the wilderness he depicts.

He journals his paintings with diary entries, little map pieces, and found objects or souvenirs. 

I was warmly greeted by Kathleen who introduced me to Tony Foster. His painting supplies are at the entrance to get an understanding on how a plein air painter works – everything has to be light! I also liked the map of the places that he traveled to and painted.

Christ in the Desert Monastery, Tree and Rock in a Blind Canyon by Tony Foster

Going into the exhibit I decided to take the audio tour with explanations from the painter himself and wander off by myself. I did not stick with the audio tour, mainly out of time constraints, but it is another reason to come back and experience the pictures in a different way.

I really enjoyed my visit and was surprised how well the space was used; it seemed like you could meander with pictures forever.

Have you heard of Tony Foster?

Fly a drone or model airplane

Fly a drone or model airplane

I have never been intrigued with flying in fact I get really frustrated with flying video games. But, I find watching these little airplanes and flying objects fascinating.

There are few places in the Bay Area for model airplane flying.

If you want to pursue this as a hobby you might want to join Bay R/C.

Model airplanes at Baylands Park in SunnyvaleIf you are like me a watch-only kind of person, your best chances to see the little flyers are at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale (parking is $6 from March to October). Rancho San Antonio also has a field for non-gas powered model airplanes. Rules for model airplanes at Rancho San Antonio in Cupertino

For those of you who like to get hands-on education, the Hiller Aviation Museum offers the Drone Plex. Each Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 am to 12 pm there are demonstrations; from 1 pm to 3 pm you can sign-up for the flight experience – (an extra $5 for 20 minutes; museum fee is $16 for adults and $11 for seniors and youth, 5-17 year olds, under 4 year olds are free). The museum also has flight simulators.

 

Are you an aviation geek?