Buy machine created artwork

Buy machine created artwork

Have a unique piece of art created by a machine.

Starting instructions for the artwork forgeFor 4 quarters you can get your very own art piece. In front of City Hall at King Plaza in Palo Alto stands the Artwork Forge. Artist Toby Atticus Fraley created this machine, looking like a retro robot, that makes art.

You begin with inserting 4 quarters in slots, pushing the money into the machine and pressing two red buttons at the same time. When you walk around to the painting station the machine will determine your location and based on this, comes up with a trending artwork.

Artwork Forge painting stationNext at the painting station you can watch canvases being transported to the color ink jets. You can’t see your picture yet, but when the painting station closes you should go around the corner to the drying station. A towel is hanging there to remove paint from impatient hands. If you wait for the three steps from drying, to almost dry, to dry, you’ll be sure to have a dried picture when you take it out of the slot.

Art created by the Artwork ForgeI loved the process and the details that played with the audience. Come on, push the two red buttons at the exact same time!

Who is to say if this is art?

The question arises “What is art?” The last artist I talked to, a Chinese man living in Germany, had a plain answer: ‘Whatever sells.” For $1 each I think I got a good deal and a fun surprise.

Until April, 2018 you can watch your artwork being created on the spot at King Plaza in Palo Alto. This is part ot the Play! exhibit by the Palo Alto Arts Center. I wrote about it in Play! with art.

Have you used the Artwork Forge?


Go on a shadowy treasure hunt

Go on a shadowy treasure hunt

Most of the time walking in a city I feel like people should look up more. I mean really up. The old storefronts, birds that huddle together in the same directions on a lamp post, and murals are treats only to be discovered by a slight change of perspective.

Railbots part of the Shadow Art series by Damon BelangerLooking down can also be rewarding especially in Redwood City were Damon Belanger was chosen for the sidewalk art project in 2016. Belanger received the HOW International Design Award for the shadow art he created all around downtown Redwood City.

Dog the Cat part of the Shadow Art series by Damon BelangerAll over downtown you can be greeted by dragons, scared by monsters seemingly coming out of the mailbox, or meet a dog casting it’s shadow out of a bench. You will find a lot of whimsical creatures and robots too.

Wild Ride, part of the Shadow Art series by Damon BelangerThe city provides a map with all 20 stations of the shadow artwork. I walked around to find most of them and soon I was looking down and chasing shadows. The trick is to find the non moving objects in the city scape, like benches, water hydrants and lamp posts. Then Belanger’s art casts a shadow of these objects that transform the original and make us wonder, sometimes giggle, about the unique creatures. With a lot of humor and knowledge of the city Belanger made a valuable contribution to the public art scene.

It’s a great frugal adventure for little kids, too.

Have you ever hunted for art shadows?

Delect the poems at Poetry Walk

Delect the poems at Poetry Walk

One of my first stops on a recent visit to Berkeley was Poetry Walk on Addison Street, between Shattuck Ave and Milvia Street. I love public art and curious things out of the ordinary. Putting poems on a sidewalk counts in my book as a creative showstopper.

Moment poem at Poetry Walk, BerkeleyIn 2003 the city of Berkeley installed more than 120 individual cast iron plates with porcelain enameled text on Addison Street. Robert Hass, former US Poet Laureate and a Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, selected the poems that represent the history of Berkeley. The whole project was really a team effort, that got rewarded with multiple awards. (

Make Art, brick artwork, at Poetry Walk, BerkeleyThe first thing I noticed was that I was the only one admiring and stopping to read the prose. Some scaffolding prevented me from seeing them all.

From the Cold Mountain poems by Han-shan, Poetry Walk, BerkeleyA person cleaning the sidewalk got interested in one of Han-shan’s Cold Mountain poems after I told him I just recently learned about him. “He was a real person?” He asked. “Yes” I said and he looked again closer, reading the poem.



I also stepped into the tourist information center on Addison, and came out with lots of material about Berkeley to cover.

What poem would you like to see on this walk?


Berkeley Installs Three Tons of Poetry in the Downtown Arts District

Berkeley Poetry Walk Receives Downtown Berkeley Association’s President’s Award


Get in the Christmas spirit

Get in the Christmas spirit

The whole street is lined with little Christmas trees. The street lights are tinted red. Almost every house on the block is decorated. People walking up and down, pointing and oh-ing, ah-ing. Cars slowing so drivers can catch a glimpse. Here and there you can hear Christmas songs. In front of one house you can listen to “Twas the night before Christmas”. Twas the night before Christmas scene on Christmas Tree Lane in Palo Alto


Decorated house on Fulton Street, Palo AltoThis is ‘Christmas Tree Lane’ in Palo Alto. Every year since 1940 Fulton Street off Embarcadero lights up for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. Exceptions of this tradition were in 1942 because of the blackouts during World War II, “Dimmed but not silenced” and in 1973 during the Energy Crisis, the trees were decorated with shining red plastic bows.


This year you can enjoy the lights and the atmosphere of Christmas Tree Lane from December 16th to December 31st, 2017 each night from 5pm to 11pm. It is best admired if you park your car in the neighborhood and stroll down Fulton. The architecture of the houses complements the fairy tale look. Whimsical figures are placed everywhere, a Santa on the roof, characters from Dr Seuss on the lawn, the whole crew of the peanuts. Residents of Fulton Street made sure you will have a magical time. Santa on the roof, on Christmas Tree Lane in Palo Alto


Happy Holidays!


Have you been to Christmas Tree Lane?

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:


  • ‘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:

Feed the chickens

Feed the chickens

Soon we will celebrate Thanksgiving and I thought it is appropriate to talk about a local farm.

Emma Prusch donated a substantial piece of land to the city of San Jose to be kept as farmland as the way the Valley of Hearts Delight used to be.


Rooster at Emma Prusch Farm, San JoseWhen I first entered the farm it was amazing to me that they have chickens roam around freely in the whole area. In the back there is an animal area where they sell chicken feed for 25 cents. So, make sure you have some quarters if you are entertaining young children. The animal area also has a pot belly pig, bunnies, goats and other fowl. Chicken at Emma Prusch Farm, San Jose


On Saturday and Sunday the farm offers pony rides ($10 for 10 minutes). Overall this is a great place for little children, with a playground, the animal area, and lots of space to run around.


Emma's kitchen garden at Emma Prusch Farm, San JoseThe true farm experience is offered every first Saturday. The associated Veggielution is a community farm with the mission of connecting people through food and farming. Here you can help farming, cook or just stop by and buy the produce from the farmstand.


Everyone is welcome every Saturday and Wednesday morning to garden at Emma’s Kitchen Garden.


Have you helped on a farm before?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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?



Bowl on a lawn

Bowl on a lawn

Pauline explaining lawn bowling at the Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling ClubHave you seen my list of 50 things to do in Sunnyvale? Number 36 on the list (not in any order) is Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling. The club invited me and a group of my friends to come check out the game. Joe, a lawn bowl Hall of Famer, and Pauline were our coaches for a beautiful Sunday afternoon lawn bowling session. We learned all about the Jack (a small white ball) and the bowls that you roll at the Jack.

A game easy to learn – and hard to master. Joe, explaining lawn bowling at the Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling Club


Joe and Pauline were constantly helping and correcting us, but in a fun way. This sport is also relatively inexpensive. You have to join a club near you, but they usually let you use their bowls for a while to try out the right size for you. I think every club around the area has a drop-in policy where you can check out the game.


There are quite a few places in the Bay Area to try out lawn bowling.

Rossmoor Walnut Creek Lawn Bowling Club

Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club

Oakland Lawn Bowling Club

San Jose Lawn Bowls

Santa Clara Lawn Bowls Club

Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling Club

Palo Alto Lawn Bowls Club

Santa Cruz Bowls Club

San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club


who is closest?Our whole group had a fun time, and we all agreed we would love to bowl again.

Thank you again Joe and Pauline for a great Sunday afternoon!


Have you ever bowled on a lawn?

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?