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?

 

Help in the garden

Help in the garden

Fava beans from the Forge Garden, Santa ClaraGardening is always the top tip of every happiness blog. If you don’t have the opportunity to work in your own garden you can volunteer at the Forge Garden, which is part of the Santa Clara University. Volunteer hours are Wednesdays 1 pm – 4:30 pm or Fridays 9 am – 11 am, just drop in. You should be prepared to get your cloth dirty, wear sturdy shoes and bring water and sunscreen. The monthly Forge Fridays Cooking in the Garden is designed to bring the community together by harvesting, cooking and eating together. Check out their website on all upcoming events. Chicken coop at the Forge Garden, Santa Clara

They also let you wander around the grounds Monday – Friday 9 am to 5 pm. Check out what’s growing, say ‘hi’ to the chickens, admire the beehives and the aquaponic system. The farm stand is open on Fridays between 11:30 and 1:30.

If you like to learn more about gardening you can attend one of their workshops. Up front you can find a book and seed exchange.

What is on top of your happiness list?

 

Chat with an artist

Chat with an artist

3 weekends

360+ artists

28 cities

150+ locations

These are the impressive statistics for the Silicon Valley Open Studios in the first three weekends in May 2018.

Silicon Valley open studios directoryEach weekend is dedicated to an area in Silicon Valley. Nonetheless, some artist’s work can be seen in multiple locations. The best place to start this adventure is by downloading the directory or checking out their website and consulting the map. You might also find the directory at a newspaper vending machine in the area.

Once you are on the road look for sandwich boards with arrows and “open studio”. This makes for a fun treasure hunt before you get to the treasure!

Chatting with the artist is encouraged. After all, the motto for the Open Studios is Connecting artists to the arts enthusiast. So, please ask questions, be enthusiastic, and buy a piece of art.

 

2018 Open Studio Dates – 11am to 5pm

WEEKEND 1: Northern Area – May 5th – 6th

Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Hillsborough, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, Stanford, South San Francisco, and Woodside

WEEKEND 2: Central Area – May 12th – 13th

East Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Stanford, Sunnyvale.

WEEKEND 3: Southern Area/Pacific Coast – May 19th – 20th

Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, San Jose, and Saratoga, El Granada, Half Moon Bay, Miramar, Montara, Moss Beach, and Pacifica

 

Have you in previous years explored the Silicon Valley Open Studios?

 

Stroll into the past

Stroll into the past

To really understand something you should know it’s history. On my recent exploration through Santa Clara I came across a few opportunities to learn the city’s history.

The first one is the Stroll Into The Past, a seven station, self-guided tour behind City Hall. The stations start with the Ohlone, and move to the Mission and to the settlers that came, to being the center of the tech evolution. There is a good overview, and a lot of reading.

Santa Clara Brewery, 1890If you prefer a more visual approach, stroll over to City Hall and check out the photographs that are displayed in the hallway. Here, I learned that Santa Clara was once the home of one of the largest tanneries in the world.

To complete the historic overview I recommend the walking tour of historic buildings. The city of Santa Clara put out a map: (http://missioncity.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/index.html?appid=c3261a39356546e38ec3445f953fbe1b) , it has a lot of information about the houses and their architecture. On rare occasions, the Santa Clara Historic Home Tour is offered and gives you a glimpse into the houses. Jamison-Brown House, Santa Clara

Finally you can arrange a visit to the Harris-Lass House Museum, the last farm site in Santa Clara, and number 11 on your walking tour. This place is only open by appointment (408-249-7905, leave a message).

Where do you stroll into the past?

Uncover a museum and cemetery

Uncover a museum and cemetery

Sometimes you expect something, but then it turns out to be something totally different!

The Agnews Historic Cemetery and Museum in Santa Clara sounded to me like a very cool burial ground with interesting tombstones and I thought the museum would be related to that.

When you enter you see to your right a gated grass field, that is probably the size of half a soccer field. I later learned this to be the burial ground for 600 people. To the left in a small cottage building is the museum. Upon entering I was greeted by Pat, a volunteer at the museum and former employee of the Agnews State Mental Hospital, who helped me uncover the mystery of this institution.

Pharmacy at the Agnews Museum in Santa ClaraAgnews, it turns out, was the largest hospital for the mentally ill in the Bay Area during the Gold Rush, with over 1,200 patients at a time. Back in those days there was no industry near and they had to be self-sufficient. The patients worked to earn their stay in the hospital’s own cannery, or they made mattresses or tended to the pigs and chicken. This place was almost like a little village with a pharmacy and their own fire station.

 

Unfortunately the 1906 earthquake destroyed a lot of the buildings, including the prominent clock tower and was responsible for the loss of many lives at the hospital. In fact this was the largest tragedy of that quake which killed more than 100 people. When they rebuilt Agnews it was considered the most progressive institution in the 20th century, as they established a ‘cheerful’ place.

In 1971 the Laterman Act transferred mental health programs to local communities and as an outcome of this the state closed many hospitals, including Agnews.

In the late 1990’s, the area got bought by Sun Microsystems. Sun had to keep some of the historic buildings and the cemetery and park for public use.

Agnews Historic Park, Santa ClaraToday Oracle owns the land; the restored clocktower building is now a center for the developmentally disabled. The park in front of the buildings is a nice quiet space and in a pavillion you can read about its former glory.  

The Agnews Historic Museum and Cemetery is only open on Fridays from 10 am – 2 pm, no admission.

Have you ever heard about the Agnews?

Jazz in the de Saisset

Jazz in the de Saisset

A new exhibit just opened in Santa Clara University’s Museum de Saisset: Jazz Greats. A loan from the Bank of America collection, the free exhibit is open until June 16th, 2018.

Poster of the exhibit Jazz Greats currently at the de Saisset, Santa Clara UniversityThere are two galleries filled with black and white images. In gallery I, among others, are pictures of a young Miles Davis and Billy Holiday. One that impressed me the most is an image of Dizzy Gillespie in France, showing kids how to blow up their cheeks. Gillespie clearly wins with the most volume

Gallery II greets you with jazz music of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. An old record player is set up to have an authentic experience of the music. There are two couches in the middle. When you looked at the pictures of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, you can then relax with some coffee table books about jazz.

As a contrast. the other upper gallery is showing Michael Mazur’s illustrations to Dante’s inferno.

Ohlone hut from the permanent exhibit of de Saisset at Santa Clara UniversityDownstairs is the permanent collection. A historic résumé of the beginning of the mission and it’s interaction with the Ohlone and the evolution into the university.

The most prominent piece is a replica of an Ohlone hut. But you can’t go inside.

Overall a nice museum that is free with the option of giving a donation.

Where do you get your jazz?

 

Be blessed by Our Lady of Peace

Be blessed by Our Lady of Peace

Even is you are not a catholic, you might be drawn toward the giant Madonna sculpture in Santa Clara off of the 101. The 32 foot tall shiny sculpture with her arms out and a peaceful look on her face has many admirer who bring her flowers or perch on the nearby bench. The sculpture is part of the Our Lady of Peace parish and was erected in 1982.

The small park that she oversees is a great place to contemplate.

One station of the cross, Santa ClaraThe Stations of the Cross that frame the park I found surprisingly simple. Wooden structures that house white plastered scenes depicting Christ on the day of his crucifixion.  

Sculpture of Pope John Paul II, Santa ClaraAcross from Mary is a sculpture of Pope John Paul II in memory of his visit. He is lifting his arm and it seems like he is waving and smiling at Mary.

They also have a gift shop filled with religious paraphernalia.

Where do you go to contemplate?

Play piano in the park

Play piano in the park

I’m always on the lookout for some unexpected. A grand piano at the park, now that’s what I call unexpected!

For the third year the Santa Clara County Parks together with Sunset Piano and DC Pianos have released five pianos into five parks. They will reside in the parks until October 5th.

Piano at Vasona Lake

What a beautiful idea to combine the outdoors with music.

Here are the locations:

  • Vasona Lake by the boat rental area
  • Historic Casa Grande/New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum on the patio deck
  • Uvas Canyon near the waterfalls at the outdoor amphitheater
  • Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch’s Anglers picnic area
  • Joseph D. Grant near the historic Grant house and rose garden

 

Unfortunately I don’t play. And when I visited some of the pianos no one was playing, in fact they were covePiano at the Quicksilver Mining Museumred up.

If you are like me but you still want to experience the music head out to Vasona Lake on October 2, from 4 to 6 Sunset Piano will perform Classical, Jazz, and pop selections.

Or encourage your piano playing friends to come out.

Anyone up for picnic, park and piano?

It’s all digital history to you

It’s all digital history to you

You probably heard about the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.  A lot of memories, from punch cards to the old mac computer.

This  is definitely the place to take your in-laws – they’ll remember all the times they used to program with the punch cards and every time they made a mistake they had to do all over again. This is impressive, but if you have a 11 year old with you, not too much.

 

Spell you name with binary code at the Intel MuseumAlso, there is the Intel Museum, a free museum about what gave Silicon Valley it’s name. Here are the most enthusiastic people working I have ever met in a museum. I tagged along for a bit while the guide explained everything about semi conductors to a bunch of 5th graders. Believe me, everyone learned something cool.

 You have to call to make sure they are not booked for some event, and yes the recording starts with the well known jingle: (408-765-5050).

 

If you and your 11 year old are lucky, the Digital Game Museum will have an exhibit somewhere near you. Right  now they are only open Saturday’s from 10 to 4 in their Santa Clara location. Here, your parents might recall how they played pong and then moved up to more innovative and challenging games.

This weekend you can make your own forthcoming. Go to the Maker Faire May 20 – 22 in San Mateo to get some ideas. This is great fun for all ages.

Will you go to the Maker Faire? What is your favorite digital recollection?

Holiday Markets

Holiday Markets

It seems these days I have only shopping on my mind. Well, Christmas is near, and while I am not really a big gift giver, I prefer to gift something homemade, or close to that.

This weekend (1/5/2015) are two holiday markets that I will try to catch. One is at my sons middle school: Graham Middle School in Mountain View, CA from 9am to 1 pm. I am hoping for a lot of crafty items. I also heard that the food is amazing!

The other on is at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara. This will feature local artists, not only paintings, but ceramics, jewelry and textiles. Sounds interesting, right? Well they have two bonus programs. One is a jazz pop performance from 3:30 to 4:30. The other one is the family art day from 10:00 to 2:00.

On December 12th, 2015 is the third annual German International School of Silicon Valley’s German Holiday Market from 11 am to 9 pm at the City Hall Plaza in Mountain View. This one I am really looking forward to! There are not many things I am missing from Germany (plenty people, not things!), but around Christmas time I like to stand in the cold and get warmed up by a nice mug of Glühwein. The food is also good traditional German fare.

Happy shopping, giving and partying!

Do you know of any Holiday Markets in the area?