Take your tinker shopping

Take your tinker shopping

I remember the first time I shopped in a Fry’s Electronics store. I felt like a two year old in a candy store!

Keyboards at Weird StuffI was never a nerd, but I loved the cables and components that you can buy there. More than once I had a young man explain to me how a computer was built and what a motherboard is. Which did nothing for me, but just seeing these components is intriguing. If this sounds sexy to you, you might consider a visit at WeirdStuff in Sunnyvale. WeirdStuff feels more like a garage meets maker faire. You are surrounded by electronic equipment, both old and new. I actually found myself on memory lane browsing the aisles – VHS tapes, keyboards and cables. Do you remember the Cherry keyboard?

But Weird Stuff also takes your old computers and parts. Which I see as a great service to our fast growing electro trashing society.

This is one of the best stops on your tech tour in Silicon Valley!

Do you have a thing for computer parts?

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?

Expand your universe

Expand your universe

While the eclipse was a great way to get your children interested in space, planets, and safety goggles, you should use this excitement to your advantage to teach them more about the universe. The Chabot Space Center in Oakland is one of the places you can go to learn about space, see movies in a planetarium, tour the telescopes, crawl into a black hole, and much more. They even had volunteers explaining a pinhole to see the storms on the sun (we saw three storms the size of earth!) and another volunteer was tracking the sun’s movement.

Art and Science of Pinball exhibit at the Chabot Space Center in OaklandThe exhibit that convinced my family to go is their current Art and Science of Pinball exhibit, through September 27th, 2017. Of course they let you play a variety of pinball machines. But they also explain the mechanics and help you understand it by singling out the technique and making you press a button to see it.

Art and Science of Pinball exhibit at the Chabot Space Center in OaklandI loved the two pinball machines that were all see through!  One digital, one mechanical, they both allowed you to see the moving parts while someone else played. It made us go back and find the examples in the exhibit.

Bean Sprouts Cafe at the Chabot Space Center in Oakland

Also two thumbs up for the Bean Sprouts Cafe with a lot of healthy and fun food options.

 

Where do you expand your universe?

Sweeten your museum visit

PEZ vending machine at the PEZ museum in BurlingameThe first thing I learned about PEZ at the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia was that it is short for the German word for peppermint: PfeffErminZ and the company that creates these famous dispensers and treats is Austrian. Mini PEZ dispensers at the PEZ museum in Burlingame

This tiny museum was a great visit. For $3 you get a tour with the owner who has a copiousness knowledge of PEZ.

The vending machines that give out PEZ took me down memory lane.The cutest dispensers, I think, are the mini Japanese editions – dispensers for four PEZ with all the famous characters, like Pikachu and Nintendo’s Mario.

the Atomic Energy Lab is part of the banned toys exhibit at the PEZ museum in BurlingameThe museum expanded to show classic toys, like Lincoln Logs and Mr. Potato Head and a section on Banned Toys, which was my favorite: The Atomic Energy Laboratory (with 4 samples of radioactive material!).

If you like Guinness Book World records you can view the World’s Largest PEZ Dispensing Machine. 

Are you a PEZ collector?

Exercise your auditory sense

Exercise your auditory sense

Now hear this! is the name of the new outdoor exhibit at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga.

Subtitled: an exercise in listening, you might be able to guess that these artists composed an interesting experience for you consisting of 5 installations.

Seats at the Lilian Fountain Garden Theatre in Montalvo, SaratogaFor example Stephen Vitiello’s Taking Sound Cues From The Wind plays on the hour and on the half hour from 10 am – 4:30 pm at the Lilian Fountain Garden Theatre. A sonic response to the 1925 play Wings by Joseph S. Thompson. I could sometimes not tell if the rustling of the leaves came from the speakers or just that the wind was moving  the leaves next to me. For a while I watched a dragonfly dancing to the music, her abrupt turns fitting the rhythm. I did enjoy this piece and the surrounding distractions.

On the same note Soundings are two audio tours created by Detour, an audio tour guide app. Tours involve new artists and their music while exploring the grounds of the Arts Center.

I took the first audio tour and it starts with an introduction at the box office and guides you down the path through the blue garden. The first composer Theresa Wong shares her experience in Venice, Italy under a trellis. Beautiful and minimalistic: Venice is a Fish.

Next you walk up the path and stop on the next bench to listen to Wayne Horvitz sharing his composition: 55 music and dance in concrete, part 1.

Carmina Escobar’s music can be enjoyed on a bench under the ginkgo tree.

Nina Young ends this interactive walk at the Belvedere with Temenos – an arrangement about architecture and music.Belvedere at Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga

It was a surreal experience listening to these unusual compositions outside in a park combining  the calming visuals of greenery with experimental sounds and with the chatter of summer campers.

How will you sharpen your hearing sense?

 

Now hear this! and Soundings

Monday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm

Ends October 22nd, 2017

 

Walk into space exploration

Walk into space exploration

Mountain View is not only a huge part of Silicon Valley, it also has the NASA Ames Research Center. To show off what they are doing to the public there is the free NASA Ames Visitor Center. It is at the main gate of the NASA Research Center and is open Tuesday to Friday 10 am – 4 pm and Saturday and Sunday noon – 4 pm. Currently they have construction going on and you can only park behind the center.

A replica of the International Space Station at the Ames Research Visitor Center in Mountain ViewIf you ever wanted to see a moonstone or wondered how the researchers work in space (think nerdy tiny house) this is the place for you! There was also a great photo opportunity to pose as a couple of astronauts.

The friendly guy at the counter offered to show any of the movies, e.g. several about Mars, or a tour of the International Space Station, for me since it was slow and no one else was around, but I had to decline because I was pressed for time. Maybe something to come back for?

Have you seen any of the movies at the NASA  Ames Visitor Center?

Experience code:Art

Experience code:Art

I love how devoted Palo Alto is to public art. Their latest installment will only last through this weekend code:ART.

Eight installations starting at City Hall are meant to involve the audience and inspire the dialogue of passerbys.

Advertised as a laboratory for urban experimentation the artists reimagine public spaces through interactive sound, light and motion installations.

The Murmur Wall, the first installation at City Hall, displays search terms from Palo Alto on multiple LED screens connected with lights. On the website: http://www.murmurwall.net/Whisper you can enter your own “whispers” that will be displayed instantly. This will be the only piece that will remain after June 3rd. Since it is LED lights I bet it is better viewed at night.

The soTomo Saito's Save and Soundund installation of Tomo Saito is active twice a day at 2 pm and 6 pm.  It is a concert made by the people that sit down in the chairs.

Across the street you can be part of the art making and let Palo Alto know what your dream city will look like.

Sensory Garden by Elaine Uang, Sandra Slater & Megan Stevens

 

My favorite piece is the Sensory Garden. In an alley next to Bell’s books the artists try to evoke all of your senses. You can touch moss, smell herbs, admire the chalk mural or rattle some cow bells. 

Will you check out code:ART?

Learn that physics is fun

Learn that physics is fun

It’s the time of the year again when most of us like to give gifts, not only for friends and family but also for a good cause.

One of these gift ideas that meet both criteria is The Physics Show at Foothill College.

We saw this show in September. Though my 7th grader said it was something he learned in 6th grade, we all enjoyed this spectacular display of physic experiments. Behind us was a family that had been to a previous show. They agreed that even though some of this had been in the earlier showing, it was still a lot of fun.

So, no matter if you are a returning visitor or a new spectator, this will be entertaining.

But let’s talk about the giving side of this event. The Physics Show also does weekday programs for title one schools. Not only do the children get to see the show, they provide transportation, a tour of the campus, and get a T-Shirt! Last year 3200 kids saw the show.

See the Mercury New article for further reading:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/15/physics-show-a-smashing-success-with-students/

Weekend shows are only $5 per person and this includes parking in lot 1. Tickets for the January events go on sale December 6th and you have to preorder them (only a few seats left at the door) at The Physics Show web site.

Saturday Jan 7, 2017

Sunday   Jan 8, 2017             

Saturday Jan 21, 2017

Sunday   Jan 22, 2017

Have you enjoyed physics before?

*official logo for The Physics Show courtesy of The Physics Show

Soundsuit up!

Soundsuit up!

When I saw pictures of the new exhibit at the Anderson Collection at Stanford I was confused. Nick Cave an artist, okay. But these colorful costumes from the man I knew who ‘really didn’t want you to know about a girl’. (Watch Wim Wenders movie Wings of Desire, if you are not sure what I’m talking about or this clip on YouTube)

Of course there are two famous Nick Cave! They even met, at least once, in New York.

SoundsuitWell this Nick Cave is a dancer, a collector and an artist. The suits are whimsical, they contain a lot of things he found in flea markets. But they also hide the person, they are true color-blind.

Nick Cave created his first soundsuit after the Rodney King beating. From twigs he collected in a park, where he tried to reflect on the beating and the riots that followed the police officers acquittal, he  made a sculpture that would strike him as a “second skin”. “I started thinking about the role of identity, being racially profiled, feeling devalued, less than, dismissed.”Cave said.  While the first one is not wearable, it striked the creator as a form of armor. He liked the sound the twigs made, so he named it Soundsuit.Two Soundsuits

There are eight Soundsuits and a video installation where people actually dance in the suits, that you can scrutinize at the Anderson until August 2017.

Just to see them is impressive.

What is your costume?

Learn how to fly

Learn how to fly

Another inventor, who started in a garage in Berkeley, was Wunderkind Stanley Hiller Jr. He was only 15, but already accepted at Berkeley University when he build his Hiller-copter. Hiller-copter

 

Hiller, at age 8, the inventor, build a motorized buggy with the engine of his mother’s washing machine, at age 10, the aviator, he learned to fly, and by 12, the businessman,  he had a $100.000 a year business.

 

Photo wall of pioneer women in aviationThe Hiller Museum of Aviation in San Carlos shows a lot of his prototypes. The volunteers who know so many great stories of all the helicopters and planes that are surround you, bring it alive. Some of the stories are about people that made aviation history, like General Valérie André, the first woman to have piloted a helicopter in a combat zone.

 

They do a tribute to women aviators with short descriptions about them. Did you know that there were two Amelia Earhart’s  (not related) that made flight history?

 

This is a great museum for kids of all ages. Lots of exhibits that allow you to climb in. On the weekends they teach you how to fly a drone or you can try to operate a plane in a flight simulator.

 

Are you a flight buff?