Immigrant House at Heritage Park in Mountain View

Admire the Tiny House at Heritage Park, Mountain View

The entrance to the Immigrant House at Heritage Park in Mountain View and an information signage in front.

Heritage Park at 771 N. Rengstorff opened in 2016 to show off Mountain View’s history as a farm town. The grand jewel of the 1.2 acre park is the 1880s-area Immigrant House. Once thousands of these tiny houses were homes for the immigrant workers of the Valley of Heart’s Delight. With a footprint of about 400 square feet it is basically a tiny bedroom and a kitchen area. Immigrant House is Mountain View’s last such cabin.

Interior of the Immigrant House, a kitchen setting.

Thanks to the Kiwanis Club, a grant from Google, Santa Clara County, private donors, and the Friends of the Immigrant House, the Immigrant House moved twice and landed at its permanent location. Currently, due to the pandemic,  there are no guided tours for the inside of the house. But you can take a peak and see the lovely decorated interior. The front room shows a table with two stools, a shelf and a kitchen cabinet. The bedroom has a tiny bed.

The oven was also used for cooking. The information signage in front briefs us that the cost of rent in the 1930s and 1940s was $11 per month. A whopping $161 in today’s terms. To put this in perspective, farmworkers.org lists the farmworker wages between 1929 and 1933 to $1.90 a day.1 Assuming a 6-day workday, monthly wages are about $46. This means rent would have been roughly 1/4 of their income, and clearly counts as affordable in today’s terms.2

80-year-old windmill at Heritage Park, Mountain View.

Other amenities of the park are the 80-year-old windmill, bees, and a community garden. The 130 trees originate from the previous owners and include 30 different varieties. There are tree identifiers placed next to them. Hopefully the annual Harvest History Festival, celebrated in September, can resume this year.

It is great to see the historic significance of the workers of the Valley of Heart’s Delight in the focus of this park. 

Have you been to Heritage Park?

If you’d like to peek into local history I’d also recommend the Los Altos History Museum. They have another tiny house example of this time period, a tank house.

Footnotes

1“As the Depression deepened, the growers slashed wages and laid off workers. Between 1929 and 1933, wages dropped from $3.50 to $1.90 a day.” https://www.farmworkers.org/strugcal.html

2Affordable Housing: Affordable housing is generally defined as housing on which the occupant is paying no more than 30 percent of gross income for housing costs, including utilities. https://archives.hud.gov/local/nv/goodstories/2006-04-06glos.cfm

Android Lawn Statues surrounded by caution tape

Hope for Reconstruction of the Android Lawn Statues, Mountain View

Foam sculpture of a donut, partly destroyed.

The Android Lawn Statues were always an interesting excursion to show visitors. On my last visit, about a week ago, this place looked appalling. Caution tape was around the perimeter. The figures, which are larger than life sculptures of each new Android operating release, were either busted or completely removed. Named after sweet treats and candy, like Kit Kat and cupcake, these Android figures are made from foam.

Oreo Android figure wrapped in caution tape.

After the 2018 pie release, Google decided to go on a more boring route. The releases are now designed by numbers, starting with 10, which has an Android head peeking out of the zero.. For 11 and 12 you can see a virtual 3-D model. Interesting maybe to a nerd to find some inscription on the back – but unfortunately, it lost its cute appeal.

The lawn statues garden is located on 1981 Landings Drive; the Google merchandise store used to be steps away. Google decided to close down the store and now only has an online version. 

Hope is on the horizon

Hope is on the horizon
Google's Charleston East building is still under construction.

Google’s Charleston East (Google’s futuristic new campus) is almost here and they promised to open the first floor to the public. Watch this video by Tech Insider (​​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGx-sYIFHmE). The circus-like canopy shape introduces another interesting office building to Silicon Valley, joining Apple’s spaceship and Nvidia’s triangular headquarter. Or like the Bjarke Ingles Group architects call it: “smile-shaped clerestories”. In a report from the Mountain View Voice in February of last year, Charleston East’s public access could be revised to just allowing non-Googlers to enter on the west side of the building. Amid security concerns the tech giant might also put a, none the less pretty, wall around its campus.

Funny also, that the Android Lawn Statues have a neglected Facebook page, with a link to an Android fan site, but no official Google page.

I understand that these are office buildings and there is no responsibility to share anything with the public. Nevertheless, visitors to Silicon Valley long to see evidence of the high tech giving back to the community – even if it’s only in the form of some large foam statues. 

Have you been to Mountain View? Here is my list of 50 things to do in Mountain View.

The Plaza Green at Mountain View's City Center Plaza.

Chill Out in Downtown Mountain View’s Plaza Green

Colorful Adirondack chairs at Mountain View's Plaza Green.
Yellow Adirondack chairs, and in the background holiday decorations.

I’ve been driving by the Civic Center Plaza and admired the bright Adirondack chairs for a while now. The other day I made a point to chill out on the Plaza Green. After my visit to the farmers market I stopped and lounged in the chairs. There is some turf to tie this idea together, and some tables to put down your drink. Perfect to meet some friends and get some Bean Scene treats. If you prefer a regular table and chairs, they are closer to City Hall. Ideal for your outside lunch. Right now there are still Holiday decorations out. I people-watched two women having a photo session, but otherwise this was a highly social distancing experience.

I am not sure where the pieces for the giant chess game are, but on the city’s website it looks like they used to have Bean Bags and Connect Fours, in addition to Jumbo Chess. Maybe while they have the concerts on the plaza in the summer?

City Hall, Mountain View and a Jumbo Chess mat.

Mountain View is making a huge effort to block off parts of Castro and have outside tables for the restaurants there. I hope they’ll stay with the european-style concept.

Mountain View’s Plaza Green is located on 500 Castro street.

By the way, Los Altos has had a pop-up park, the Third Street Green, since 2016.

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.

Table outside of Kirin in Mountain View

Dine in Circles – COVID-19 Style

How is your summer going?

I would be on vacation right now. Sigh. 

But honestly I can’t complain too much. We are very privileged going into this pandemic and have a nice place to hang out and wait this out.

I hope everyone is safe and healthy!

Castro St. road closure, for outdoor dining, Mountain View, CA.

It is also very important to support local businesses right now. Since July 22nd Mountain View has closed off most of Castro St. for vehicular traffic and made it a great place for outdoor dining!

The 100 to 400 block on Castro is now a pedestrian zone, with the crossing streets, Evelyn, Villa, Dana, California and Mercy,  still open. The city opened up additional short term parking in City parking lots and garages behind Castro. The Castro Summer StEATS is a pilot program to see if it revives the downtown area. 

All is done with social distancing in mind. Circles on the floor show where the assigned tables should go, signs on the street lead you to the hand wash stations, and all waiting staff are wearing masks.

Castro St. people dining outdoors.

Finally the city is taking advantage of the weather and provides us with a piazza experience! The last time I visited I noticed a lot of children playing in the street. What a lovely accomplishment to enhance city living! Bravo!

What is your opinion about the Castro Summer StrEATS?

Actually the city is asking, please take 7 minutes of your time and fill out the questionnaire:

English

Spanish

Intel building in Mountain View, Superfund site

Explore the Dark Side of Silicon Valley

Originally I wanted my next blog post to be about the Superfund sites in Silicon Valley. In Mountain View alone there are seven hazardous waste sites that are commonly leftover from manufacturing facilities, like the production of semiconductors. In the case of Mountain View, these are Fairchild Semiconductor, Teledyne Semiconductor, CTS Pintex, Inc., Jasco Chemical Corp.Intel, Raytheon Corp.. and Spectra-Physics Inc. 

William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain received the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics.

The man who put the silicon in Silicon Valley through the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, William Shockley, has an even darker side to him. Shockley. A Nobel Prize winner for physics, weighed in on white supremacy and his view of genetic IQ differences. In a 2015 National Geographic article said about Shockley: “despite a complete lack of formal education in biology and genetics, Shockley tried to use these fields of study to support a set of racist ideas known as eugenics.” 

In 1956 Shockley lectured at Stanford and in 1963 was appointed as professor of engineering. He taught until 1975, but I could find no evidence that Stanford distanced themselves from the racist Shockley who published articles about his extremist ideas while teaching at the university.

391 San Antonio Rd. the site where Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory used to be.

The city of Mountain View acknowledges the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory as the birthplace of Silicon Valley with a plaque and an art installation at the site of 391 San Antonio Rd. The original building was torn down and nowadays is part of The Village, a complex of shopping malls, office buildings, apartments, and restaurants.

Part of the art work at 391 San Antonio Rd

Do you know of other dark sides of Silicon Valley?

Resources:

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-real-birthplace-of-silicon-valley-mountain-view-california

https://www.wired.com/story/silicon-valleys-first-founder-was-its-worst/

https://www.sfgate.com/tech/article/Silicon-Valley-Shockley-racist-semiconductor-lab-13164228.php#item-95844-tbla-4

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/10/151005-nobel-laureates-forget-racist-sexist-science/

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/btshoc.html

https://www.pbs.org/transistor/album1/shockley/shockley3.html

https://ee.stanford.edu/about/history

Explore Stanford with my tips of 50 things to do at Stanford!

NASA's NeMO-Net game lobby. Screenshot courtesy of NASA.

Classify Coral Reefs

When you play NeMO-Net, a single player iPad or phone game, you will help NASA map out the ocean floor and assess the health of coral reefs around the world. 

First I downloaded the app to my phone, got a username assigned, and then was greeted by Sylvia Earle, an Oceanographer from NASA’s NeMO-Net. NeMo-Net is a game created for us to learn about corals, how to identify them. NASA’s ultimate goal is to teach their supercomputer to learn with us and to create a global dataset to classify reefs.

Beginning of NeMO-Net game. A coral in 3D. Caption: Try zooming in closer to the NASA logo! Place two fingers on the screen and spread them apart to zoom in.
Screenshot courtesy of NASA

The game begins with a tutorial on how to zoom, rotate, and paint corals and other shallow marine environments in 3D. While you paint you listen to some meditative music, headphones are highly recommended! If you finish painting a coral with 90% accuracy, you are invited to Guam. From there you can start learning about different corals and help NASA to map the ocean floor.

Screenshot of NeMO-Net game, a colored in coral.
Screenshot courtesy of NASA

It is a very relaxing game, kind of like paint by numbers while you do some good. So, if you need to chill for a bit I challenge you to a game of NeMo-Net. The game play took a bit getting used to; the hand gestures are unfamiliar to me since I don’t play 3D games. Plus I had to get my reading glasses since the font is very tiny!

It wouldn’t be NASA if the implications of this game did not have anything to do with space. Indeed, the technology could be used to identify life on other planets or examine ancient Martian life.

Have you played NeMo-Net yet?

Have you visited the NASA Ames Research Center?

Kite flying at the kite flying area at Shoreline Park in Mountain View.

Fly a Kite

Family flying a kite at the kite flying area at Shoreline Park in Mountain View.

Did you know that there is a kite flying area at Shoreline Park in Mountain View? Since it is close to the Bay it always seems to have a nice breeze. Perfect for kites of all abilities. 

Kite at the Shoreline Park kite flying area in Mountain View.

I recently saw a traditional bird, a long cylinder with ruffles, and what looked like a miniature hang glider kite in rainbow colors. The more professional hang glider kite was doing constant loops and making some humming noises while cutting through the air. The other two were just pleased to be aloft. 

While on a midweek afternoon this seemed to be an activity for middle-aged men, on a recent weekend trip I saw little kids flying kites with their parents. 

Sign for the kite flying area general use parking at Shoreline Park in Mountain View.

Since the golf course is open again, you can drive into the park. The kite flying area is your first possible right turn with plenty of parking. (And there is a handicapped port-o-potty.)

When was the last time you flew a kite?

If you are looking for other fun things to do in Mountain View I recommend my 50 things to do in Mountain View.

chalk art drawing of Vincent Van Gogh starry night, Mountain View

Stroll on a Chalk Art Walk

It’s been over a week now for shelter-in-place, and I hope everyone is still healthy and safe!

Since it is still OK to go on a walk – one of my neighbors had a great idea: a chalk art walk.

Walkway to a house, full of chalk drawings, Mountain View.

Last Friday almost 60 households participated in beautifying their drive or walkways with artful chalk drawings. 

All in this together - chalk drawing, Mountain View.

A lot of flowers and we-are-all-in-this-together messages.

A walk-by meditation chalk drawing, Mountain View

My favorite was an instruction to a walk-by meditation to stand, observe and breath.

It was really great how the neighborhood came together. There are some true artists out there!

We had a lot of media coverage for this (see the resources link below).

How are you coping with the shelter-in-place? 

Please leave a comment for creative ideas for the whole neighborhood below.

Resources:

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/03/22/us/california-sidewalk-drawings-coronavirus-trnd/index.html?f

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/22/us/coronavirus-first-week-social-distancing-wrap-up-trnd/index.html?

https://mv-voice.com/news/2020/03/23/young-chalk-artists-brighten-the-mood-in-cuesta-park


Vasper cooling machines, Moffett Field

Streamline your Exercise – Vasper, Mountain View

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 a rower unit or an elliptical unit), 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?

Sometimes you can find adult exercise equipment in your local park.