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.

Sound sculpture with mallets at Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale.

Play the Sound-Sculptures at Seven Seas Park

The Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale became the latest addition in 2016 of inclusive play parks for all ages. This little park has even a splash park, a dog park, and a half basketball court. One of the fun discoveries is the wind chimes that line the small round path around a grassy field.

One of the wind chimes at Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale.

The sound sculptures stand man high and have mallets to invite you to play. I could not find any information about the artists. If you know who contributed this musical adventure, please let me know.

The landscape architects, SSA, did a beautiful job creating a nautical themed inclusive park. This park won the “Project of the Year” award in 2016 by the American Public Works Association. 

Pathway, hugging a grassy field, leading to one of the sound sculptures, Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale.

Parking can sometimes be a challenge. Due to COVID-19 playgrounds might still be closed off. Check before you go and follow the recommended safety procedures.

Have you played the sound sculptures at Seven Seas Park? 

If you enjoy funky interactive sculptures you should also check out the Wind Walk in San Mateo.

Ducks in the levee at Baylands Park, Sunnyvale.

Birdwatching in Sunnyvale’s Baylands Park

Anywhere by the Bay is a great spot for birdwatching. We walked the other day at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale. While we were pondering about which turn to make, a biker stopped and asked if we were looking for the birds? We weren’t, but our sense of adventure told us that we should follow his advice and turn right. “There are tons of birds!”, he said.

Birds at Baylands Park, Sunnyvale.

He was right. Once we crossed the levee a swarm of birds started their tree hopping, hoping we would not catch up with them. In the water were ducks and seagulls, and I believe a pair of egrets. I am not an avid birdwatcher, but it is fun nonetheless to see so many different kinds.

My favorite birds were black on top and white on the bottom with bright orange feet. If someone knows what they are, please let me know in the comment section below!

Usually volunteers from the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society offer free one-hour birding tours each first Wednesday at Baylands. Due to COVID-19 restrictions SCVAS has put together self-guided and virtual field trips. There is a great YouTube video from Mike Ambrose showing the winter birds of Baylands Park. 

Sign at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale that says: Sorry about the odor.

In the summer month an increased algae bloom can make the Baylands Park a bit smelly. The ponds are part of a solar salt farm. As the algae dies off, it produces hydrogen sulfide, H2S,  which has a characteristic odor of rotten eggs. 

Weeds covered in feathers at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale.

I did enjoy the weeds on our path covered in little feathers. A spontaneous art installation!

Where do you go bird watching?

If you want to explore more in Sunnyvale you might enjoy my article about 50 things to do in Sunnyvale

Keep Safe. Use Social Distancing. 6 ft apart. Groups of 10 person or less.

Share your COVID-19 Experiences

Everybody agrees that these are strange and unprecedented times. The new normal will be walking around with a mask and getting used to not touching our faces. To survive a pandemic is an accomplishment and we are bound to record this as best as we can.

A lot of local history museums in the Bay Area are accepting your quarantine stories, photos, and other media.

San Francisco

Sign in front of a bar in Mountain View offering white flour, yeast and toilet paper. Plus a delivery robot.

California Historical Society, the official historical society for the State of California, has a website with a form to invite you to answer a few questions about your experience with COVID-19.

https://californiahistoricalsociety.org/initiatives/tell-your-story-california-during-the-time-of-covid-19/

Some local history museums are also collecting your descriptions of the pandemic. 

Cupertino

Cupertino residents may share their experiences and media with Cupertino’s Historical Society. They have an online submission form: 

bit.ly/CupertinoCOVID19

Sunnyvale

One Way sign at the Safeway in Sunnyvale.

If you documented COVID-19 related events in Sunnyvale, please submit them to the Sunnyvale Historical Society and Museum Association: 

https://heritageparkmuseum.org/blog/documenting-the-sunnyvale-experience-of-covid-19

Los Altos

Sign at a busstop in Mountain View. Is this an Essential Trip? Yes -> Okay to Ride. No -> Why are you even here reading this?-> Go Home. Stay Home. Stop the Spread.

The Los Altos History Museum is asking residents of Santa Clara County to submit and share your stories, photographs, or other items documenting your experience with COVID-19. https://www.losaltoshistory.org/documenting-covid-19-in-santa-clara-county/

Campbell

The Campbell Historical Museum is also asking for artifacts and journals that represent this crisis.

https://www.campbellmuseums.com/how-to-document-the-covid-19-pandem

Disposable glove trashed in a parking lot.

Santa Cruz

is planning on an exhibit with your submissions. In These Uncertain Times is scheduled from October 16th, 2020 to April 4th, 2021 the MAH will exhibit how daily lives have changed in the pandemic through community-sourced artwork.

https://santacruzmah.org/exhibitions/uncertain-times

Artist are also asked to share their work at the Tenderloin Museum’s virtual gallery

http://www.tenderloinmuseum.org/shelterinplace to show life under lockdown: Shelter In Place

Writing about this time might help you to work through it. How are you coping?

If I missed a history museum in the area that also collects submissions, please add your information in the comment section. 

Dan Burnett Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge

Bike a bridge

If you have never biked the Golden Gate Bridge I highly recommend you do so. It is a great trip to take visitors to – go downhill to Sausalito, have lunch, and ferry back to the city.

Dan Burnett Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge, Cupertino

If you need a substitute scenic bridge, go for the Dan Burnett Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge in Silicon Valley. The bridge was  opened as the Mary Avenue Bicycle Footbridge in 2009. In 2010 it was renamed to honor the Cupertino City Councilman, Dan Burnett, an ‘avid cyclist and environmental activist’, who helped make this bridge a reality. He envisioned a bridge spanning over the 280 highway as a safe route across the interstate for bikers and pedestrians. 

The north entrance is right next to Homestead High and the south entrance is on Mary Ave. This cable-stayed bridge has an iconic look and makes for great pictures. In a cable-stayed bridge the weight of the deck is supported by a number of cables running directly to one or more towers.

According to Wikipedia, this is the only cable-stayed bridge across a highway in California. 

Two roads leading to the Dan Burnett Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge. One straight, one serpentine.

If you come from the north side you may notice the serpentine lane on your right. For people who prefer straight access, just stay on the path.

If you are interested in how this bridge was built, the builder, Golden State builder, has a cool video on their site: http://gsbridge.com/mary-avenue-video/

Do you have a bridge you like to bike across?

Play some foot golf

Play some foot golf

As an early Father’s Day present we went to Sunken Gardens golf course in Sunnyvale to treat dad to a round of foot golf.

The rules are simple and the holes are 21 inches wide. You can rent the #5 balls at the front desk.

Kicking the ball at foot golf, Sunken Garden in SunnyvaleCall them ahead and book your tee time. You will be mixed in with other golfers. Sunken Garden is a smaller nine hole course so watch out for flying golf balls. We almost got hit but then it flew over us and hit the house behind us!

I also learned about basic golf course etiquette. Be quiet when someone tees off, yell ‘FOUR’ when your golf ball strays towards other people and don’t walk on the green if your game is foot golf. Foot golf hole at Sunken Garden, Sunnyvale

Overall it took us about an hour and a half. We were surprised how tricky, in a good way, some holes were. All the hills made for an interesting strategic game.  

Someone at the front desk was asking what the appeal was since in soccer you shot pretty straight. I guess it is more like golf with less equipment and a ball that doesn’t go enough astray that you have to worry about the people around you.

Happy Father’s Day!

Have you played foot golf before?

 

Silicon Valley open studios directory

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?

 

Set of bowls at the Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling Club

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?

Weird Stuff sign in Sunnyvale

Take your tinker shopping

I remember the first time I shopped in a Fry’s Electronics store. I felt like a two year old in a candy store!

Keyboards at Weird StuffI was never a nerd, but I loved the cables and components that you can buy there. More than once I had a young man explain to me how a computer was built and what a motherboard is. Which did nothing for me, but just seeing these components is intriguing. If this sounds sexy to you, you might consider a visit at WeirdStuff in Sunnyvale. WeirdStuff feels more like a garage meets maker faire. You are surrounded by electronic equipment, both old and new. I actually found myself on memory lane browsing the aisles – VHS tapes, keyboards and cables. Do you remember the Cherry keyboard?

But Weird Stuff also takes your old computers and parts. Which I see as a great service to our fast growing electro trashing society.

This is one of the best stops on your tech tour in Silicon Valley!

Do you have a thing for computer parts?

Wind speed sensor, Rancho San Antonio

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?