Fork on an empty plate

Feed People in Need

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving! The number of people relying on food help every day has doubled since the pandemic began. In Silicon Valley 1 of 10 people receive assistance from Second Harvest, one of the largest food banks in the nation. Second Harvest feeds nearly 500,000 people each month.

Feeding America found that due to the coronavirus 50 million Americans may face food insecurity in 2020, including 17 million children. 

How you can help:

Donate to your local food bank

Monetary donations are always welcome. 

Due to COVID-19 there might be restrictions for food donations, please check with your local food bank. Our CSA, for example, doesn’t allow for self harvested fruits anymore, but might allow for Village Harvest to harvest for you. Rules change quickly these days. In our neighborhood people started to sell their fruit and donate the proceeds to CSA.

People sorting apples for Village Harvest.

Volunteer

If you can help out in person I am certain your help will be highly appreciated. Make sure to check requirements, for example volunteers over 65 or people in a risk group might not be allowed to perform certain tasks. Nonetheless there might also be virtual options to help out. To find opportunities check out VolunteerMatch, Idealist, AllForGood, or HandsOnBayArea.

Fundraise

The holidays are coming, do you want to gift something special this year? Consider setting up your own fundraiser: https://www.feedingamerica.org/ways-to-give/fundraise-for-feeding-america

Do you have ideas on how to feed people in need?

You might also be interested in my post about Village Harvest: Harvest some Community Fruit.

Inside the SJMade store.

Gift Something Unique from Local Artists – SJ Made

I don’t want to increase your stress level, but the Holidays are almost here. Every year I try to come up with some local gift ideas or stores, for example the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz.

Window into SJMade store showing off their shopping totes.

A hodgepodge of ideas is the SJ Made pop-up store in downtown San Jose. Due to COVID-19 they offer you a chance to pick-up items that you purchased from their website. The sheer vastness of ideas, over 1200 products and counting, will make sure you’ll find gifts for everyone on your list.

Entrance to SJMade with opening hours.

These artists not only do pictures and postcards. There are flowers, cosmetics, jewelry, clothing and accessories, ceramics, and food gifts. And, apparently stickers and pins are a thing again.

It is great to see local artists get together and open these collective stores. It reminded me of Asheville or Portland. SJ Made is one of four micro-retail storefronts in the Moment mall. Next door are also The Source Zero, Aulala Design and BlackSheepMade to check out while you are on your shopping spree.

Moment mural in the parking garage for SJMade.

SJ Made
60 N. San Pedro St., San Jose

Monday, Wednesday, Sunday 12 to 4
Thursday 12 to 6
Friday, Saturday 10 to 6
Tuesday CLOSED

Do you give local gifts?

Educational sign about the three different oak trees in San Jose

Learn About Local Oak Trees at San Jose’s Guadalupe Oak Grove Park

San Jose’s Guadalupe Oak Grove Park is a hilly park with sparse trees covering about 60 acres. It turns out they are all oak trees! There are three varieties of local oaks here. 

First the Valley Oak. It is the largest of the group of locals. The leaves are shaped to what I as a European have known as an oak tree leaf, a long leaf broken up with round edges. The other two species, the Blue Oak and the Coast Live Oak, have similar leaf structures; we had a hard time picking out which is which. Our best guess was the blue oak is lighter in color. The Las Pilitas Nursery website stated that Blue Oaks like to hybridize with other oaks. So, maybe we were onto something?

View at the Guadalupe Oak Grove Park, San Jose.

The hill was a nice challenge and allowed for a terrific view. And thanks to all the acorns the park attracts a lot of birds. We enjoyed watching a group of acorn woodpeckers.

One of the beautified water utility boxes at the Jeffery Fontana Park, San Jose.

The Jeffrey Fontana Park borders the Guadalupe Oak Grove Park and has a playground and two dog parks. In the grassy area they have beautified the water utility boxes. One features the nearby oak trees. 

Do you know your endemic oak trees?

Looking for a forest to hike in? Check out Huddart Park in Woodside: Hike a forest.

Bridge to the Ravenswood Bay Trail in East Palo Alto.

Find a Bridge to East Palo Alto

Wishing Trees signs at Palo Alto Art Center.

Originally I wanted to tell you about the Wishing Trees in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. A wonderful idea to bridge these two cities together by Canopy. Seven trees had been nominated to become wishing trees and people would leave messages written on hanging cards on the tree. Plus you would learn about what type of tree your wishing tree was. 

This beautiful idea ended October 31st. I hope they’ll repeat this some time.

Gate to Ravenswood Bay Trail. Hours are 5:00 am - 10:00 pm.

But as of August 7th, 2020 there is a real bridge connecting East Palo Alto with the neighboring counties: the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. Ravenswood OSP is part of the Bay Trail and with it’s only 0.6 miles in length it establishes to connect three counties for a total of 80 miles of continuous trails.

Ravenswood Bay Trail bridge in East Palo Alto.

At the end of Bay Ave, an under construction path, you will reach the Cooley Landing Education Center. Right now from this side of the trail this is the only parking lot into the park. You can also enter from the other side using the Dumbarton bridge entrance off Highway 84. 

Biker on the Ravenswood Bay Trail in East Palo Alto.

What would you do to build a bridge to East Palo Alto?

More suggestions to ride your bike along the Bay: https://untilsuburbia.com/take-advantage-of-your-bike/

The Centennial Light Bulb in Livermore.

Visit the Longest Lasting Light Bulb in Livermore

Longest burning light bulb at the Livermore Pleasanton fire station.

The Centennial Light Bulb in Livermore has been burning since 1901. It is the longest lasting light bulb recognized by Ripley’s and the Guinness Book of World Records.

To ensure it is still burning you can see it on the bulbcam: https://www.centennialbulb.org/cam.htm

LPFD helmets at Livermore's fire station.

It is updated every 30 seconds. While it only uses 4 Watts it is more a glow than a bright site.

You can also visit the fire station where the light bulb is hanging from the ceiling. If a fireman is on hand they are happy to show off this curiosity. Plus there are a few historical fire fighting items on display.  Best time to visit, according to the website, is between 10 am and 11:30 am or 3 pm to 5 pm.  Otherwise you can see the bulb if you look through the window up on the top of the wall to your left. To contact them directly you may call the LPFD at (925) 454-2361. The fire station is located at 4550 East Avenue in Livermore.

In these ever changing times, continuation is comforting. I visited this site before the pandemic.  

Do you have a constant that gives you comfort?

Other sights for Guinness World Records are the 100 Block Mural and the Monopoly in the Park game in San Jose.

Forbes Mill Bridge in Los Gatos.

Admire the work of young artists at Forbes Mill Footbridge

Entrance of the Forbes Mill Museum (closed) in Los Gatos.

An outside gallery, the Forbes Mill Footbridge, consists of 156 panels of local art work. The bridge connects old town Los Gatos with Forbes Mill, a former flour mill and history museum.

The Forbes Mill Bridge is mainly the overpass for Highway 17, but since 1998 it also serves as an art gallery for the Los Gatos youth. 

It started as a summer program by the Los Gatos – Saratoga recreation. Selected artwork was digitally reproduced and placed on the bridge. These murals will be exchanged over time. 

Forbes Mill Bridge in Los Gatos.

A tribute to the artists is also given on the website of the Los Gatos Local History Research Collection.

As part of the Los Gatos Creek Trail you might pass the Forbes Mill Footbridge. If you start out your hike here please take some time to admire the art.

Have you seen the murals?

Resources:

https://patch.com/california/losgatos/los-gatos-forbes-mill-footbridge-murals-to-be-re-dedicated

Do you like seeing more works of young artists? You might want to check out the County Government Center in Santa Cruz – read my post about this: Admire young artists.

The first Google storage server, Stanford

6 Hidden Spots for Geeks and Nerds in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley houses more geeky nerds, and I mean this as an honorary term. There are some places that might be especially interesting for this group:

  1. The first Google server with a case made with Legos. 

This server is displayed in the basement at the Huang Engineering Building in Stanford. 

While you are there check out the replica of the HP garage.

Huang Engineering Building Stanford

475 Via Ortega, Stanford, CA 94305

https://engineering.stanford.edu/about/visit

  1. Visit Facebook’s first office

The Face Book in Palo Alto is the first office of social media giant Facebook. A sign outside commemorates this place. This is an easier way to get a picture with a thumbs up. 😉

The Face Book - first Facebook office in Palo Alto.

The Face Book

471 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

  1. Apple Campus 3 

The spaceship, Apple Park, Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino is only viewable from afar at the visitor center. A great way to get a closer look of Apple is the Apple Campus 3, AC3 as insiders might call it. 

Apple

222 N Wolfe Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94085 

https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/03/19/apples-third-large-california-campus-is-already-built

  1. See the latest Android figure

Google celebrates its Android operating system versions by dedicating lawn sculptures. The naming used to be in alphabetical order after deserts and other sweets. The former OS figures can be seen near the visitor center. The latest Android figure is usually displayed at the Googleplex. For Android 11 you can also see it online, to stay with the candy theme, the internal name was Red Velvet Cake, the recipe is ‘taped’ to the sculpture, at least in its virtual version. 

https://www.android.com/android-11-ar-statue/

Google

Android Lawn Sculpture in Mountain View.

Android Lawn Sculptures

1981 Landings Dr, Mountain View, CA 94043

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_lawn_statues

  1. Tour Roblox headquarters 

See your favorite characters at the Roblox headquarters. Due to COVID-19 the 60 minute tours will be awarded in a lottery. Sign up at:

https://behindtheblox.splashthat.com/

Roblox

970 Park Pl, San Mateo, CA 94403

  1. Santa Clara NVIDIA Building

NVIDIA, inventors of the GPU, set themselves a building fitting for the creative potential. It is unique in how it used triangles, representing the building blocks for computer graphics.

NVIDIA

NVIDIA office in Santa Clara.

2788 San Tomas Expressway Santa Clara, CA. 95050

https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2013/02/20/nvidia-to-build-a-new-home-20-years-after-our-founding/

Do you have any tips on hidden spots for geeks and nerds?

In my 50 things to do series I usually have ideas for nerdy fun.

SS Palo Alto view from the wooden stairs, Aptos.

Watch an Over 100 Year Old Deteriorating – the SS Palo Alto

The SS Palo Alto, a concrete ship off the Monterey Bay Shore in Aptos, was left to decay. It eventually became a habitat for birds, sharks, and sea lions. 

SS Palo Alto, Aptos, CA.

Launched in 1919 in Oakland, the SS Palo Alto, a former oil tanker, missed World War I by a few weeks. This war vessel is made of  concrete because of the steel shortage at the end of the war.

In 1929 the Seacliff Amusement Corp. bought the ship and transformed it into an amusement park in its current location. Besides a casino, they added a swimming pool and a dance floor as attractions; ‘rum runners’ delivered illegal booze as a driveby operation. The Great Depression and the seasonality of the business probably were reasons for the fast closure two years later.

Pier and SS Palo Alto in Aptos.

In 1936 the State of California purchased the vessel for $1. Twelve years later it was incorporated into one of the first State beaches. Its condition deemed too dangerous for explorers led to its closing in 1998. Now it is a sanctuary for birds and other sea life. 

Parking at Seacliff Beach in Aptos, California is $10. 

Have you seen the SS Palo Alto?

If you are looking for other bird watching opportunities in the Bay Area, check out Sunnyvale’s Baylands Park

Resources:

View through the linked fence to the SS Palo Alto, Aptos.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Palo_Alto

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=543

Little Free Library

Pick out a Book from a Free Library

Walking around the neighborhood, as we all do, you might have noticed a box offering books. Little Free Libraries are not a new invention. All started in 2009 by the late Todd Bol from Hudson, Wisconsin. He built the first Little Free Library as a tribute to his mother. Friends and neighbors liked the idea and inspired him to build more and he gave them away. The idea took over and in 2020 they surpassed the 100,000 mark with more than a 100 countries worldwide participating.

You can find a Free Little Library near you from the Free Little Library website map, but not all free libraries are registered. 

Little Free Library

If you feel inspired to build your own free library the Little Free Library offers library boxes and also advice for building your own.

You do not need to leave a book in order to take one. I know a lot of people have decluttered their homes recently, but there was also higher demand on these books while your favorite book store was only online. 

Little Free Library with succulents on top.

Considering the pandemic some free libraries now switched the books to offer canned food. Others made a seed library, so we can all start to grow our own vegetables.

Free libraries not only are a great way to share goods, some are also very creative little boxes.

Have you picked up a book from a little free library?

Interesting read about a a phone booth at the Los Gatos library: Call me Ishmael

Sign for Fresh Local Fish at Pillar Point Harbor, Half Moon Bay.

Buy Fresh Fish Straight from the Boat

Some wise man once said: “When fish smells like fish it is old.“If you want to be sure you buy the freshest fish I highly recommend the Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay.

Boats at Pillar Point, Half Moon Bay.

As you enter the Pier, you can read signs on what fish have been caught that day, the prices, and which boat is selling. You can also Call the Fish Phone at 650-726-8724 for information about which boats are selling and what is available. 

Fish on ice.

This is a great way of buying local, fresh fish.

What an adventure even if you haven’t caught the beauty yourself!

Where do you buy your fish? 

If you prefer fishing yourself you might want to check out my post about Fishing on a Public Pier.