Fabric samples at FabMo, Mountain View.

Shop for creativity

I don’t know about you, but for me when the weather gets cooler my urge to be creative, especially for handmade things gets larger. For example, I don’t like to knit when it is warm, but now I can see myself with some wool and needles.

Fabric samples at FabMo, Mountain View.

If you are into sewing or have other creative ideas for fabric and on the hunt for reasonable priced fabric, FabMo might be a great place to shop. Born out of the idea of rescuing designer samples, FabMo is an all volunteer organization in Mountain View. They are open once a month for three days in their Selection Event. The next Selection Event is November 7th – 9th, 2019. Check the event calendar for the schedule and other exciting workshops and events.

Spools of yarn at FabMo, Mountain View.

Besides fabric FabMo also offers patterns, carpet samples, and also tiles and other designer samples.

If you are not inclined to be crafty yourself but appreciate handiwork, you might find the annual fair an interesting opportunity. On October 26th, 2019 from 10 am to 4 pm you can shop at the FabMo Arts Boutique at the First Congregational Church, 1985 Louis Road, Palo Alto. 

FabMo is a great place to volunteer and help reduce landfill. There are many ways to help out: sort fabrics, work in the store,  be a blogger or social media influencer.

Are you a maker or a shopper for crafty things?

Vasper cooling machines, Moffett Field

Streamline your exercise

It felt good the other day at the doctors. When she asked me about exercise I could give her a tip on how to get stronger muscles. 

View out the Vasper door towards the hanger, Moffett Field

Vasper is based on three scientifically proven principles – compression technology, cooling and interval training. Scientific experiments also show the reduction of stress hormones. 

Vasper bike at Moffett Field.

What is Vasper? A workout on a bike (or rowing machine, or eclipse) with added cooling. I do a 21 minute bike workout where I sit on a cold pad, the feet are bare and also cooled, and cooling compressions are added to the upper legs and arms. It’s perfect for a morning workout since sweat is little, you feel invigorated afterwards, and have a 1 ½ hour routine compressed into 30 minutes (there is a 10 minute cool-down period recommended). You can try out three sessions for free!

Vasper sign with the hanger, Moffett Field.

An added bonus is Vasper is located at Moffett Field in Mountain View. Bring an ID to enter and be close to the airship hangers you always see from the 101.

How do you exercise?

Semaphore, Almaden Tower in San Jose.

Crack the code

Have you ever noticed the four round lights on top of the Adobe Almaden Tower in San José? They look like cat eyes turning to a rhythm.  Every 7.2 seconds they change their position. 

Adobe Almaden Tower's semaphore, San Jose.

This is a semaphore – in the early days a semaphore was the person holding two flags to send messages by changing the arm positions. In computer terms it is a variable used for multitasking operations. This semaphore has four wheels each of them can change into four different positions. Enabling it to have a 256 item vocabulary. It is transmitting a code that you can spend weeks to crack. 

Ben Rubin was chosen as the media artist to install this artwork in 2006. By 2007 Bob Mayo and Mark Snesrud cracked it. It took them 3 weeks to find out the semaphore was spelling out Thomas Pynchon’s Crying of Lot 49.

Adobe Almaden Tower's semaphore, San Jose.

The code has been solved twice now. The most recent update was in October 2012. 

You can spend hours in front of the building or check out Adobe’s website to study the pattern. If you are successful in deciphering the code you can submit it to Adobe and they will award you bragging rights and a year’s subscription for the Adobe Creative Cloud. In 2017 the Tennessee math teacher, Jimmy Waters figured out that the code at that time was a sound file voicing Neil Amstrong’s famous sentence: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

A true Silicon Valley experience. 

Have you ever cracked a semaphore code?

Resources: 

https://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/philanthropy/sjsemaphore/
https://sf.curbed.com/2017/3/13/14913006/adobe-semaphore-code-cracked-tennessee


View from ground level at the Kaiser Center rooftop garden, Oakland.

Chill on a rooftop garden

I had heard of the Kaiser Center rooftop garden on top of a parking garage in Oakland, near Lake Merritt. Naturally intrigued I went to check it out.

Entrance to 300 Lakeside Garage, Oakland.

You can see greenery from the street level on 21st St. I thought it was a bit tricky to get up to the 4th floor. I went around the parking garage and turned right into a side alley. The stairs there advertised the rooftop garden. As a bonus exercise I took the stairs. 

Lake of the Kaiser Center rooftop garden, Oakland.

When I arrived at the destination I was blown away. There is a little lake with some fountains and a bridge that crosses the lake. A lot of people used the garden as an after lunch walk. Some were just chilling on the shady benches that are plentiful. 

Rooftop garden at the Kaiser Center, Oakland.

A nice size walk that I bet brings joy into a lot of people’s daily lives. 

Have you been to the rooftop garden?

Sandwich board advertising Los Altos First Friday.

Dance on the sidewalk

Many cities in the Bay Area have a First Friday established. San Jose, Oakland, Campbell and Santa Cruz, to name a few.

Band playing in front of Linden Tree bookstore, Los Altos.

I always wanted to go to one, so two weeks ago Friday was my first. Since I did 50 things to do in Los Altos, but missed out on the First Friday, this was my time.

I was early and most of the musicians were still setting up at 6 pm. But by 6:30 pm every corner of downtown was filling the air with music. All different styles are present from polka to rock and folk.

Band playing on State and Main, First Friday, Los Altos.

Livin la vida loca was the opener from a band that played on one of the larger stages on the corner of State and Main. To the side were the girls from the dance school, nervously awaiting their turn; around the picnic tables, people feasting on carry out; an elderly group enjoying wine and tapas; a couple dancing. Los Altos knows how to party!

Drummer of the Ruse, First Friday, Los Altos.

I liked the Ruse, a trio of high schoolers that played next to the Tasting Room. Ready to rock, they were constricted by someone who thought the drums were too loud. They made the best of it while waiting for a damper. I’m sure they will play a lot of First Fridays, and who knows, eventually stand on a large stage. 

View into Viewpoint Gallery, Los Altos.

First Fridays are, of course, happening on the first Friday of the month in Los Altos from 6 to 8pm. Some stores might be open longer and the two galleries in town usually have receptions. 

What a great way to invite you to linger downtown. 

Do you like to dance on the sidewalk?


Front facade of the art and art history at San Jose State University.

Regard the future of art

Announcement for the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery.
Excerpt for (inter) Facing - Fall 2019 Digital Media Art Faculty Exhibition.

The current exhibit held by the faculty of the department of art and art history at San Jose State University is called: (Inter) Facing. This digital media art exhibit runs until September 20th, 2019 at The Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery. Virtual reality drawings and an opera with video game imaging are some of the highlights. With six annual exhibits the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery is worth visiting often.

Announcement board for the Student Art Galleries at San Jose State University.
Announcement and excerpt of the O Belcher Gallery.

Across this gallery is the O Belcher Gallery that also has a digital media installation with some techno music. 

Outline hanging on the wall for Not a Straight Line, SJSU.
Peak into the exhibit: How not to draw a Straight Line, SJSU.

While wandering the hallway I found two more galleries. I really liked that it wasn’t just art ‘presented’, but one could feel that a lot of thought went into how it got presented. Not a straight line, for example, had the outline of the exhibit on six papers on the wall.

Notepads to record your critiques, SJSU.

Every gallery had a notepad for you to write and critique the exhibit.

You could feel that art in its myriad forms was present throughout SJSU.

During the academic year the galleries are open Monday – Friday 10 am – 4 pm. Tuesday evenings 6 pm – 7:30 pm. Admission is free.

Where do you feel the future of art?


Haoyun Erin Zhao art work for the 50|50 show at the Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica

Get your instant art gratification

View from the main gallery hallway exhibit of 50|50, Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica.

50 artworks created in 50 days by more than 60 artists. Now in its eleventh year the 50|50 show held by the Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica is a great success. Artists challenge themselves to create 50 pieces of artwork each on a small canvas in 50 days. 

Main gallery with some of the 50|50 artwork, Sanchez Center, Pacifica.

The work is arranged in 7 x 7 grid and the 50th piece on the side. Everything was for sale, right there. You can be the owner of some special creation and take it home right away. I’ve seen price ranges from $45 to $150. Some artists give a discount if you buy 2 or more. 

Single image viewers, Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica.

If you get overwhelmed by the mass of images you can grab yourself a single image viewer to experience only part of the collection.

Part of Kimberley D’Adamo Green's 50|50 artwork, Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica.

Opening night was August 30th, 2019. We visited on Sunday there were a lot of missing images. Some artists put up a photo of the whole project, so you could identify both what was sold and how the whole collection looked. 

Gallery hours are Fridays to Sundays from 1 pm – 5 pm. The exhibit runs until September 22. 

Have you been to the 50|50 art show in Pacifica?


Boardwalk sign at Santa Cruz

Ride the rollercoaster on the boardwalk

For thrillseekers and beachgoers the Santa Cruz boardwalk is a great destination since 1907.  

A golem watching over the sky glider at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz.

There are more than 40 rides, something for every kind of rush seeker. The romantic gondola ‘Sky Glider’ and  the 1924 wooden roller coaster ‘The Giant Dipper’ are just examples of the variety of rides offered. 

Sky glider with a sign that says: deep fried underneath at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

On rainy days you can enjoy a game of bowling or mini-golf, or play some arcade games. The food rises to the occasion: soft serve ice cream, hot dog on a stick and pizza all classic accompaniments for your boardwalk experience are here.

Bands on the Beach stage, Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Tonight, August 30th, is the last Bands on the Beach event for this year. Papa Doo Run Run has the honor of ending the free concert series with two show (6:30 and 8:30). For the prime seating area reserve your seats as early as 4 pm. You might enjoy a nice picnic on the beach. If you bring chairs make sure they are low backs for the prime area. 

For the history buffs they put together a walking tour (http://downloads.beachboardwalk.com/BoardwalkWalkingTour.pdf).

A lot of different events are happening on the boardwalk, so check before you go. Some events, like the overnights, can limit access to attractions.  

The boardwalk is open daily. Admission for the rides can be purchased in various forms. Day and season passes are available.

Have you been to the boardwalk?


Front of the Alpine Inn, Portola Valley.

Stop by where the internet began

If you followed my 50 things to do in San Mateo county you might already know where the internet begun – at least in this area. 

The plaque outside the Alpine Inn, declaring the beginning of the Internet age.

A plaque at the entrance of the Alpine Inn in Portola Valley reads: “On August 27th, 1976, a scientist from SRI International celebrated the successful completion of tests by sending an electronic message from a computer set up at a picnic table behind the Alpine Inn. The message was sent via a radio network to SRI and on through a second network, the ARPANET, to Boston. This event marked the beginning of the Internet Age.” 

Founded in 1852, the Alpine Inn is the second longest continuously running tavern in California. In May of 1969 it was registered as a historic landmark (#825). Just recently Zott’s, as it is known by locals,  reopened after extensive renovations by the new owners.

Beer with charcuterie board at the Alpine Inn, Portola Valley.

The Alpine Inn is a jovial beer garden. They still have hot dogs and burgers on the menu, but we enjoyed the woodfired pizza and the charcuterie board.  Afterwards we played a game of cornhole (bags can be borrowed from the bar). 

The beer garden at the Alpine Inn, Portola Valley.

Currently they are open from 5 pm to 10 pm, but plan on having lunch hours soon.

The Alpine Inn is by far my favorite beer garden in Silicon Valley. Do you have a favorite beer garden?


Bike bike rack, Los Altos

Park your bike

Dog bike rack in downtown Los Altos.

It’s been hot the last couple of days. High temperatures and exhaust are causes of smog. That’s why we had ‘spare the air’ days the last couple of days. Since I’m not too impressed with public transportation around here I usually enjoy my bike rides. 

In 2013 the city of Los Altos started the artistic bike rack policy. Businesses and property owners are allowed to install interesting bike racks in front of their property. In 2015 and 2016 the city had a bike rack competition

It makes for a great treasure hunt. Try to find them all!

Squirrel bike rack, Los Altos
Leaves bike rack, Los Altos
Ice cream cone bike rack, Los Altos
Owl bike rack, Los Altos

Do you have a favorite bike rack?