Call me Ishmael

Call me Ishmael

Call me Ishmael phone, Los Gatos library

“Press any button to hear a story from an anonymous bibliophile about a story they loved.”  This is the sentence you hear when you pick up the receiver of the old pay phone in the Los Gatos library.

Reviews are read from different book lovers. Unfortunately there was no volume button. Some recordings are hard to listen to from the recording quality and the speed of the reader. But the personal account is priceless. Some are short and sweet but most of them are true personal recollections.  

Press 0 and you’ll hear a pitch for ‘Call me Ishmael’ or if you are at home in front of your computer you can watch their YouTube video for their earlier kickstarter project.

Current book selection from Call me Ishmael, Los Gatos library

Currently the book selections are from Sarah Boynton’s Pyjama Time! , a picture book, to classics like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, to the Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

If you like to record your own review you can do this by calling 774.325.0503. On the CMI website you can also listen to featured calls.

Los Gatos library (front entrance)

A fun way of learning about new books! The personal touch of the stories makes it feel like a friend is telling you about a book they loved, and the Los Gatos library is a great place to hang and discover new books.

What book would you review?

Buy something at Reach & Teach

Buy something at Reach & Teach

If this is your year to become more sustainable maybe Reach & Teach in San Mateo can help. They were awarded the 2014 Sustainability Awards from Sustainable San Mateo.

Store front of Reach & Teach, San Mateo

This small store has everything from games to books to fairtrade tea. It is a great place for buying a gift. You could even fill out their gift advisor form online. But if you go by the store and need some advice, they are happy to help and might even play some games with you! Most of the games are unique titles that are not usually found in other game stores, teaching the players about peace, equality and sustainable living. One of the games is their very own invention: CIVIO – A civil rights game.

Games you can try out at Reach & Teach, San Mateo

Their slogan is: “transform the world through teachable moments”. Reach & Teach got founded as a subsidiary of Craig Wiesner and Derrick Kikuchi’s award-winning educational consulting company, WKMN Training, LLC. If you like to learn how you can make a difference in this world, best to stop by the store and get some ideas.

How will you be more sustainable in 2019?


Get a high score

Get a high score

We went to the Pinball Museum in Alameda before and I was surprised that they also have an Interactive Arcade Museum.

Playing arcade games at High Score, Alameda

High Scores on Park St in Alameda (or B St in Hayward) is another rainy day option. $6 buys you an hour of fun, if you plan to stay longer you might want to invest in a $12 day pass. Teach your kid who is boss in Mortal Kombat II or eat some dots and ghosts in the classic Pac Man. A lot of these games are multiplayer, so, bring a friend or a few kids. You can also celebrate your next birthday or organize a team building event. The atmosphere is loud and crowded, but on our visit there you could always find a machine to try a game.

arcade inspired art

I liked the arcade inspired artwork above the video games and the Donkey Kong photo opp outside.

Pac-Man arcade game at High Score, Alameda

Which one is your all time favorite arcade game?


Explore the Dimensions of art

Explore the Dimensions of art

A rainy Sunday is a great excuse to go to a museum. I convinced my family that the Dimensionism exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) would be worthwhile.

On the first floor the Harvey Quaytman: Against the Static is on display till January 27th and an excellent beginning of a study of shapes, textures, and colors. There will be a gallery talk on January 24th, at 5:30: Artist John Zurier joins curator Apsara DiQuinzio for a multifaceted look at Harvey Quaytman’s art.

A new exhibit that was not yet open last Sunday still brought me a lot of joy by just peeking at it and I can tell this will be a new highlight. Unfortunately you can’t touch the furry creations of Masako Miki but MATRIX 273 opened January 9th and runs till April 28th, 2019.

All these forms, shapes and colors will introduce you to the next level (on the lower level): Dimensionism: Modern Art in the age of Einstein. The modern artists interest in science, named Dimensionism, includes Kandinsky, Miró and Picasso. I really enjoyed the works of Isamu Noguchi, his sculptures representing the cosmic view with pleasing shapes.

Harold Edgerton’s Milkdrop Coronet was fascinating, not only the image, but the fact that he in 1933 invented the stroboscopic method of taking photographs with stroboscopic light, creating the illusion of freezing an action.

Staircase in the BAMPFA, Berkeley

The blood red stairway up to the Babette Cafe felt like being captured in an Andy Warhol print. But the friendly staff and yummy cake were well worth the transformation!

Thanks to Discover & Go, a service our library offers, we were able to get in for free. Usually adults pay $14, but there are many discounts available. People under 18 are always free. On the first Thursday of the month gallery admission is also free. The museum is open Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11 am – 7 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am – 9pm. Since everything can change, it’s best to check online.

What is your favorite Dimension?

Browse vinyls at The Record Man

Browse vinyls at The Record Man

Records and listening station at The Record Man, Redwood CityOn entering The Record Man store in Redwood City I got greeted by Gary the owner. “What brings you in today?” I replied: “I heard it is an institution.” And I was right. Not only is this a magnificent place to shop for records – they have over a million vinyls – there are ten (!) rooms to wander. Some rooms have record players to listen to your finds.

Records and DVDs at The Record Man, Redwood CityThere is also a store in the back for DVD’s, video games and even comic books. If you like a deal they have their annual parking lot sale in October where each record is $1. To be up-to-date on the parking lot sale you should join the mailing list archives@recordman.com.

Two things that are not for sale are the two paper mache dogs of Nipper, the HMV (His Masters Voice) loPaper mache Nipper at The Record Man, Redwood Citygo of the British record label.

Gary told me after 30 years of reinventing himself as The Record Man, the store has two more years in the current location.

This is indeed an institution! I hope it will survive somehow somewhere in the Bay Area.

Have you browsed records lately?

 

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?