Archive for December, 2008

100,000 Visit Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci's Flying Machine

On Tuesday, December 30, Betsy Ortiz of Walnut Creek was the Tech Museum’s 100,000th visitor to the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit.

“We’ve reached a fabulous milestone with this groundbreaking exhibit,” president of The Tech Museum, Peter Friess said. “People are coming from all corners of the region to see this one-of-a-kind show that is educative, fun and exciting.”

The exhibit features the most comprehensive display of the innovative art, science and engineering works of Leonardo da Vinci and his contemporaries. The exhibit includes more than 100 life-size and scale working models, hands-on interactive machines, multimedia presentations and two priceless works of art.

The life-sized and scale working models are based on conceptual drawings and designs by Leonardo, Francesco di Giorgio, Mariano di Iacopo (Taccola), and others. These models recreated using tools and materials common in Leonardoís time. Most of Leonardoís machines were never built in his lifetime, as many could not have been built due to the lack of suitable parts.

The exhibit has been extended to January 25, 2009 due to popular demand. There may be a further extension if high attendance continues.

Schedule well over three hours for the exhibit alone.

The Tech Museum of Innovation
Through January 25, 2009

Tickets and Operating Hours

Directions, Parking and Public Transportation

Follow the Tech Museum on Twitter

"Lend a Hand" against graffiti

The week of January 12-17 is the third of four weeks in San Jose’s volunteer campaign against graffiti, called “Lend a Hand”. Volunteers are encouraged to get together that week and go out into the community to eliminate graffiti.

The city will supply materials such as paint-removing solvent, safety goggles, gloves, sponges and rags for volunteers to use. These materials come in an anti-graffiti “kit” that is available any time from the city Anti-Graffiti Program.

When I stopped by today to pick up my anti-graffiti kit, city staffer Paul J. Gonzalez, also an artist who’s painted numerous murals around downtown, offered tips on removing various kinds of graffiti. For example, to remove slap-tags, or stickers, he recommends just using water and vigorous scrubbing, rather than solvent. When numerous graffiti clean-ups have already disturbed the paint on a surface, he recommended just repainting, and he offered us a gallon of “city beige” paint that matches the color used for many city buildings.

The anti-graffiti program is located at 501 Vine Street, near the corner of Almaden Boulevard and Woz Way. Drop in during the Lend a Hand week, January 12-17, to pick up your anti-graffiti kit, or schedule an appointment to pick up your kit any time by calling the anti-graffiti program at 277-3208.

I suggest getting your kit early, to be prepared for the volunteer event ahead of time, then go out during Lend a Hand week to help wipe out graffiti in your neighborhood.

New Year’s Eve Free/Discount Transit Service

Most of the Bay Area transit systems are offering free New Year’s Eve service; BART is offering a $6.00 flash pass.

VTA will provide free service on all light rail and bus lines from 7:00 pm Wednesday, December 31 until 3:59 am Thursday, January 1, 2009. VTA will operate on a regular weekday schedule on Wednesday and Sunday/Holiday schedule on Thursday.

Caltrain will offer free rides beginning at 11:00 pm on New Year’s Eve. Caltrain is adding three post-midnight, southbound trains that will depart the San Francisco station at 1:00 am, 1:45 am, and 2:15 am. Caltrain does not allow open alcohol containers on trains after 9:00 pm.

On New Year’s Eve, SamTrans will offer free rides beginning at 11:00 pm running until 2:00 am. SamTrans will operate on a regular weekday schedule on Wednesday and a Holiday schedule on Thursday.

BART’s “New Year’s Eve Flash Pass” costs $6.00 and is good for unlimited rides on BART from 6:00 pm Wednesday, December 31, 2008 through 3:00 am Thursday, January 1, 2009. To accommodate New Year’s revelers, service will end around 3:00 a.m. on Thursday, New Year’s Day, including stand-by trains to accommodate crowds throughout the evening. BART runs a Sunday/Holiday schedule on New Year’s Day.

Plenty of parking spaces

Just to get a guess at how bad the economy is doing, I stopped by Vally Fair Mall and hiked up to the top level of the parking garage. Two days before Christmas, in the middle of the afternoon, there was plenty of parking to be had. Inside, the mall was busy, but not packed. I’m not sure if this is bad news because it means the economy’s likely to remain in the dumps for a while, or if it’s good news because it means that Silicon Valley has rejoined the real world, where everybody doesn’t get whatever they want whenever they want it.

Sharks All-Star Voting

The Sharks are off to a great start; they have been enjoying sellouts at home. There is a buzz around the Bay Area that this truly could be the season the Sharks make it to the Stanley Cup finals. However, when it comes to the NHL All-Star voting Sharks’ fans are out to lunch.

None of the Sharks on the ballot are leading the way; for that matter they are down the list of players getting more votes from cities like Chicago, Detroit, Calgary and Anaheim. Heck! Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are leading the league in votes. Sidney Crosby has received the most votes ever in NHL All-Star balloting history. The Bay Area’s only current superstar Joe Thornton is down the list!

The Sharks on this season’s All-Star ballot are Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle, Rob Blake, and Evgeni Nabokov.

You vote for three forwards, two defencemen and one goaltender in each Conference. Since only two Sharks are listed in the forwards category, Devin Setoguchi is currently the Sharks fan’s leading “write in” candidate for the third forward

You may vote as many times as you want; which we hope is often.

You can vote for all the Sharks on the ballot by texting SHARKS to 81812 or online at NHL All-Star Fan Balloting where you can include your “write in” candidate.

The All-Star Fan Balloting closes at 05:59:59 pm PST on January 2nd, 2009.


King Library’s Wi-Fi now open to the public

 It’s about time. The Martin Luther King Jr. Library is finally opening up its Wi-Fi network to anyone with a valid library card. So even if you’re not a student, you will finally have access to the Internet from your laptop from within the library, and it won’t be limited to just the Web sites of the library, SJSU and the city’s official sites.

That includes the full database collections, which provide a wealth of in-depth information from periodicals, newspapers, research papers and academic journals, for those instances when Google just doesn’t cut it. (Databases for library patrons can be found here. For SJSU students, go here.)

For more information on the King Library’s Wi-Fi (and directions on how to log on), click here. For info about other library branches, click here. Or just call (408) 808-2000.

You remember how to use a phone, right?

Bank on San Jose

Bank on San Jose is part of the Bank on California initiative launched by Governor Schwarzenegger, which brings more working class families into mainstream financial markets by encouraging the opening of special low-cost, starter bank accounts.

In San Jose, more than $25 million in fees were paid to non-bank check-cashing services and payday lenders in 2006. Checks totaling more than $574 million were cashed through non-bank check-cashing services.

“Imagine the economic and social benefits of keeping this $25 million in the hands of low and middle-income San Jose residents,” Carole Leigh Hutton, United Way Silicon Valley President and CEO said. “It could be used to build assets like a home, business, education or retirement savings.”

Requirements vary at the participating banks and credit unions with opening deposits ranging from $1.00 to $100.00, no monthly fee to $5.95, and most not requiring a minimum balance. I did not readily see the difference between regular accounts and the Bank on San Jose accounts for some institutions where as with others there was a significant advantage. It would be advantageous to check your options closely. Detailed information of the participating banks and credit unions here (PDF).

More information is available on the United Way Silicon Valley website.

Winter Spare the Air Day Alerts

This winter it is illegal to burn wood, pellets, or manufactured fire logs in any indoor or outdoor fireplace, fire pit, or wood or pellet stove when a Winter Spare the Air Alert is issued.

Winter Spare the Air season runs from November 1, 2008 through February 28, 2009. I have discovered that there are a number of people unaware of this new regulation.

The new rule also places year-round prohibitions on excessive chimney smoke and the burning of garbage, plastics, or other harmful materials in fireplaces and woodstoves.

Violators will get warnings by mail. Repeat offenders face fines of as much as $2,000.

It is okay to use gas-fueled fireplaces and logs, gas inserts, or electrical fireplaces.

The Spare the Air Program website gives this explanation for the new regulation:

In the wintertime, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) becomes the pollutant with the greatest impact on air quality. Fine particulates can bypass the body’s natural defenses, penetrating deeply into the lungs and even passing into the bloodstream. Prolonged exposure to the fine particulates in wood smoke has been linked with aggravated asthma, lung and heart disease, and increased mortality rates. Wood burning in fireplaces and woodstoves creates about one-third of the winter particulate matter air pollution in the Bay Area.

So, how do you know when it is a Winter Spare the Air day?

Winter Spare the Air Alerts are available by calling 1-877-466-2876, visiting the Spare the Air Program or Bay Area Air Quality Management District websites. There you will also find information about signing up for e-mail alert notifications and automatic phone call alerts.

See also: San Jose: Winter Spare the Air 2009-2010

Winter Movie Series 2008

The Winter Movie Series, featuring holiday themed and classic films, begins this Wednesday December 17 and runs through December 28 at the California Theatre downtown San Jose.

Built in 1927, the 1,119-seat California Theatre was transformed into a major performing arts center by adding state-of-the-art audio and video technology in 2004.

A new Wurlitzer Organ has been fully restored and will play each night before the main feature.

Dec 17 – 18
Home Alone – 5:35
Funny Girl – 7:30

Dec 19 – 21
White Christmas – 3:35 & 7:30
A Christmas Story – 5:45 & 9:40

Dec 22 – 23
The Polar Express – 5:40
The Music Man – 7:30

Dec 24
It’s a Wonderful Life – 9:00

Dec 25 – 26
Swiss Family Robinson – 7:30

Dec 27 – 28
Mary Poppins – 3:00 & 7:30

All tickets are $5.00 and you will receive a coupon for free popcorn. Children under 12 admitted free with paying adult to special 1:40 pm matinees Saturday and Sunday Dec. 20 & 21.

The California Theatre
345 South First Street, San Jose 95113

December 17 – 28

Parking is available on South First Street in back of Eulipia Restaurant. You can access this lot from South Second Street. Parking garages are also available at the San Jose Convention Center accessible from both Market Street and North Almaden Avenue. Other parking options include the garage above the Camera Cinemas accessible from Second or Third Streets, and a lot at the corner of San Carlos and Market Streets.

Lighting up long nights

When I leave work at 6 pm and its already fully dark, its nice to see a few brightly lit houses along the way (The one in the photo is on Sloat Ct. in Santa Clara). They tell me that someone has gone to a lot of trouble to light up the darkness for the rest of us.

I was going to suggest that readers mention the best-lit houses they know around town, but then I found Lights of the Valley, a website that catalogs some of the best light displays in various towns around northern California, including San Jose, Santa Clara, Campbell, etc. But, even on that site I don’t see any real “Candy Cane Lane”, a whole street decorated with bright lights and holiday cheer. If you know about one of those, please leave us a comment and let us know.

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