Jump the hills at Shells Dirt Jumps

Jump the hills at Shells Dirt Jumps

 Dirt Jumps at Shorebird Park in Foster City You know when you come across these hills at Shorebird Park in Foster City you are in a fun place. Finding them  is quite simple, just take any dirt path off the main biking trail that heads towards the Bay. One Yelp reviewer warned to watch for snakes.

Google map of Shorebird Park's BMX trail in Foster CityOn a Google map image the path is marked as BMX trail and Bike BMX Jumps. If you look up dirt jumping on Wikipedia you find an image of the Foster City Shells Dirt Jumps.

Dirt jumps at Shorebird Park in Foster City So, it might not be such an unexpected destination after all. I enjoyed being there without any bikers around. But if you are a BMX biker or love to dirt jump you found heaven. I definitely want to go back and hopefully take some pictures of jumping bikers. The path is dirt mixed with oyster shells. It crushes under your shoes like tightly packed snow. 

Do you have any good pictures of dirt jump bikers?

 

Cheer on the Silicon Valley Roller Girls

Cheer on the Silicon Valley Roller Girls

Ever since Whip it! I knew about roller derbys and I remember how excited I was to see that the Bay Area has multiple teams. Saturday, I got invited by the Silicon Valley Roller Girls to see a game. Don’t let the name fool you – roller derby is a contact sport and these girls are tough!

SV Roller GirlsI have to admit even after my preparations looking up the rules and watching a YouTube video I’m still not sure how the scoring works. It is worth buying the $1 program which starts off explaining the basics.  Look for the roller with the star on her helmet, that’s the jammer. The jammer scores by passing the opposing blockers. Both teams are in the ring at the same time and can score at the same time. Oh, and if you noticed the striped helmet, she is the pivot and can become the jammer.

SV Roller GirlsThe City Beach volleyball center was transformed into the flat track with chair seating areas in a half circle around the track. They do serve drinks and some food options, but you have to consume it in the bar area.  After the Star Spangled Banner and the introduction of the teams each roller girl gets one round on the track greeting fans. I love the inventive names. Bully Elliot, Chewblocker, and Belle Wringer, to only name a few, give you the idea that this sport can get rough sometimes. The chiropractor that promoted its praxis in the back should have been a clue as well. The crowd was surprisingly calm. Some dressed up and one brought her puppy. I also enjoyed the high-five round at the end where each player came around and gave the audience a high five.

The announcer was mostly blocking our view of the scoreboard, but it was clear that V Town had a great run this evening. The fans were happy. A great family friendly event.

If you’d like to experience the Silicon Valley Roller Girls, there are three dates left for the 2018 season:

September 9 and 22 and November 17SV Roller Girls skates

Other leagues in the Bay Area are:

Peninsula Roller Girls

Santa Cruz Derby Girls

Bay Area Derby (BAD)

 

Have you ever seen a roller derby game?

 

Study the history of digital games

Study the history of digital games

I know it sounds contradictory to try to get my teenager away from electronics by going to a digital game museum. But it’s all about being able to experience and not just consume. That was my motivation.

The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (MADE) in Oakland has an impressive collection of over 5,300 playable games. Your $10 entrance fee buys you a whole day of playing every game imaginable.

They start historically with pong and the old astroid games, but they have all consoles and a ton of games. To preserve the game cartridges you have to ask the staff to switch the games for you. You lounge in comfortable sofas or for the PC games on office chairs.

Star Trek Phaser Battle box, MADE in OaklandI liked the old pong-clone consoles, the colorful boxes, and was amazed at the different controllers they used to have. Some games were hard to figure out, but I can imagine the older child coming here and recreating their childhood from the 80s.

Guitar hero band set up, at the MADE in OaklandI wish I were more adventurous, I would have tried the drums for guitar hero. Yes, they have the whole band setup!

This place attracts mostly boys, but there were also some girls holding their ground. The mothers enjoyed the free WiFi to check their phones. Seating was plenty and comfortable.

 

A great place to teach kids about digital games and play some old favorites.

Have you been to the MADE?  

 

Make the climb to Lick Observatory

Make the climb to Lick Observatory

The first question our tour guide asked was: did you enjoy your ride up here?

Two motorcycles with view from Lick ObservatoryLooks like the motorcyclist and bike riders I saw outside were not here, because everyone agreed that the hilly ride up was quite unpleasant. Build in 1876 for horses and carts the road to the Lick observatory winds up in approximately 365 turns (count if you like) until it reaches the 4,200 feet peak of Mount Hamilton. Now-a-days it takes a solid hour from San Jose. While the place is open Thursdays to Sundays from 12 pm – 5 pm, in the winter time this road might be closed due to snow and icy conditions. 

Great Lick Refractor telescope, Lick ObservatoryIf you want to experience the observatory in the dark you can try to snag a ticket for one of the popular summer events. There are two different events. A music series and lectures by astronomers. As part of the lectures you will be able to glance through the historic 36-inch Great Lick Refractor telescope.

hydraulic propelled moveable floor, Lick ObservatoryFrom 1888 till 1897 the Great Lick was Earth’s largest refracting telescope. Currently it is the second largest. Again, think how it got on top of the hill and you would  be impressed, too! On opening, they do a free tour of the telescope every hour starting at 12:30 and ending at 4:30.

I was the most impressed with the floor. Beautiful walnut panels laid out in a round pattern. When our tour guide revealed this to be a hydraulic propelled moveable floor, (built before they invented electricity!) I was stunned. It hasn’t be operated for the last five years now, but being in the presence of such inventive engineering left me in awe.

I was glad to have a nice picnic with me and enjoyed the back terrace. By the way, spring water is feeding the water fountain, so make sure to fill up your bottles for the hour long descend to San Jose.

Have you made the climb to the lick observatory?

 

Hack in a dojo

Hack in a dojo

Mural inside the Hacker Dojo, Santa ClaraIf you stand in front of the office building at 3350 Thomas Rd you have to follow the signs to go around and enter the metal door at the side. That is if you want to visit the Hacker Dojo. Once inside you will be greeted by murals and a laptop that’ll ask you to sign in.

The Hacker Dojo is an institution in Silicon Valley. Since 2009 it allowed its members to share ideas, workspaces and party together. By now in its third location, you can use it for collaborate workspaces, check out the maker space, and tinker with the 3D printer or laser cutter. The classrooms on the side and the main space are also used for workshops and social events, like game nights. Membership fees start at $100/month and give you access to all events. Inside the Hacker Dojo, Santa Clara

This is a great place to network, and you might even score a job (check out the job board in the back).

There is table tennis to release some steam or to play a round with your new co-worker.

Have you been to the Hacker Dojo?

 

Visit the Apple Visitor Center

Visit the Apple Visitor Center

It’s round, it’s new, it’s a spaceship – well because of its roundness it’s call spaceship – it’s actually a large office building. But you can’t go in, unless you are working for Apple.

Tapple park tote bag, Apple Visitor Center, Cupertinoo get a peek, of the roof line, drop by the nearby visitor center. Yes, a visitor center to get you closer to the Apple headquarters. And while you’re there it’s also an Apple Store, with a few gift shop items, and a cafe.

From the underground parking lot, steps take you to the cafe entrance. Two large glass doors open perpendicular to let in the breeze and the customers. The cafe only seemed to offer espresso drinks and chocolate. In the next room is the Apple Store. I was surprised to see bags and t-shirts, this merchandize can only be bought at the visitor center. Model of Apple Park, Apple Visitor Center, Cupertino

The last room in the complex hosts the augmented reality model. Geniuses hand out iPads which augment the 3D model and you can swipe off the roof of the buildings to look inside. The staff also is very cheerful and answers any questions.

rooftop Apple Visitor Center, CupertinoThe rooftop is the highlight of the center. A serene space that has a view of Apple Park.

If you are looking for nerdy fun, this place should be on the tour. It is open 7 days a week.

Have you been to the Apple Visitor Center?

 

Ride in the park

Ride in the park

World’s largest full pipe, Action Sports Park, San JoseThe recently opened Action Sports Park on Lake Cunningham in San Jose has a bike and a skate park. The skate park was built in 2011 and it’s California’s largest with 68,000 square feet. In fact there are two world’s largest pipes, namely: full pipe and cradle. The vert wall is the world’s tallest.

Watch Tony Hawk and other experts in this 3 minute video on their sneak-peek opening experience:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1EgSwmps6Q

Riding zone at the Action Sports Park, San JoseThe brand new bike park surrounds the skatepark with some impressive hills and ramps. They have a small fleet of bikes for rent. Also the very important helmets and pads can be rented. There are no age restrictions, if you are under 6 you need an adult with you. Allowed are all kinds of bikes, even unicycles!

Different skill levels guide you through the seven riding zones. Spectators can hang out and enjoy the free wifi.

 

For $7 per person, you can ride all day (annual membership available), but there is also a $6 parking fee (and an option to buy a annual parking pass). The Action Sports Park allows outside food, but they also have a concession stand and a BBQ area.

 

Have you been to the Actions Sport Park?

 

Morph your art

Morph your art

Yanling He’s code manipulated images forces us to see usual objects in a distorted new shape. He’s Digital Photography and Video are currently on display at the Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA), in Mountain View. Just stop by at Finn Center’s Mohr Gallery, no admission fee. The exhibit is open Monday – Friday 9 am – 7 pm, Saturday 9 am – 3 pm, until May 6th, 2018.

 

There are three parts to this exhibit:

Part I—Computational Motion Graphics

Part II—Computational Static Visual Art

Part III—Photography

 

Refraction by Yanling He's Photography & Video, CSMA, Mountain View, CARefraction and Water Drops, are series that look like every image morphed into a Christmas ornament. Here are city icons bent to globe shapes, bodies distorted by the force of new curves, and flowers flowing in their new casing.

Some images are printed on interesting materials like metal or wood, showing the original next to it’s code manipulation self. Names like Liquify and Wave express the ideas for the image manipulation. Wave uses metal to intensify the reflection of tree stumps.

 

Curves by Yanling He, CSMA, Mountain View, CAHe’s experimental approach to forms and color is exemplary in the Shader and Curve compilations.

The accompanying video was not working on my visit, but it is available on her website: www.yanlinghe.com

Fraction of a photo by Yanling He, CSMA, Mountain View, CAMy favorite photos were from Fireworks (my image is only a fraction of the original, zoomed in). A close look of water drips on dandelion. There is something enchanting about the fragil spores of dandelions mixed with reflecting droplets of water.

 

 

Have you seen He’s computational art?

 

Off to the races

Off to the races

A beautiful racetrack right by the Bay, Dollar Day Sundays, and some (over 18) gambling excitement. The Golden Gate Fields racetrack Dollar Days, every Sunday until June 10th, 2018, include $1 parking, $1 entry fee, $1 program, $1 mimosas, $1 beer and $1 soda and water.

Betting starts at a minimum of $2.

They welcome newbies and have a booklet to teach you all the important aspects.

Spectator at Golden Gate Fields, BerkeleyThe audience is very eclectic, from college students to families to retired persons. The people-watching is part of the experience. Collections of interesting headwear, the groups gathered around TV screens to follow other races, and the owners and jockeys posing for pictures after the races.

The large amount of smokers surprised me. The place itself felt like a Casino without the one-armed bandits. One can almost smell lost hopes. Tickets on the floor  at Golden Gate Fields, Berkeley

 

But when the race starts and everyone either shouts out the name or the number of the horse they bid on, willing it to run faster, every sad thought is forgotten and you are, at least for these moments, excited in the experience.

Horse  at Golden Gate Fields, BerkeleyWhatever your strategy is for choosing a horse, statistics, names, numbers or looking at the horse prior to the race, there is a lot of luck involved.

Please drink and gamble responsibly.

 

 

Have you ever been to the races?

 

Geek out with computer artifacts

Geek out with computer artifacts

Have you ever visited the ‘Birthplace of Silicon Valley”? The HP garage is a national landmark, at 367 Addison Ave, in Palo Alto. Unfortunately it does not offer a public tour.

Replica of the HP garage and workbench, StanfordIf you really wonder what it was like to work in the garage you should go visit Stanford’s Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center. On what they call the terrace level, I would refer to as the basement, is a replica of the HP garage and workbench. This replication illustrates the size of the workplace and feels like a homage to the first tech-founders out of Stanford. The chairs and the table inside weren’t part of the garage, but they are a great way to collaborate with fellow students and let your creativity flow, like Hewlett and Packard did back in their days.

Other artifacts in the Engineering Center include Yahoo’s motherboard, the geometric engine chip (necessary to render 3D graphics), the Intel 4004 (the first microprocessor) and NVIDIA’s first GPU (the GeForce 256). All on the first floor.

The first Google storage server, StanfordMy personal favorite is the first Google storage server (on the terrace level). The case is made out of Lego’s and it is said that Google’s affinity for primary colors came from the building blocks color scheme.

All these exhibits remind us that Stanford’s engineering department has a longstanding history of enabling successful companies.

Stanford Engineering HerosYou can pick up a copy of the Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center self-guided tour at the computer kiosk located at the first floor lobby or in suite 135. One hour tours of the Engineering Quad are offered 3-4 times a week and require reservations (https://visit.stanford.edu/calendar/index.html)

 

 

What is your favorite computer artifact?