Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

“It’s Only A Play”

Ira, a gun-toting critic, has a thankless job in “It’s Only A Play”. He finds himself the odd man out – in the producer’s upstairs suite waiting for the opening night reviews to come in!

Though by no means a professional critic, I have found myself in some uncomfortable situations when reviewing a play or a film for Metblogs. I often know the writers, producers, directors, or actors whom I am critiquing. I worry that I may have an ‘If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all’ approach.

In the case of “It’s Only A Play” I don’t have to worry, because I only have nice things to say. This outlandishly funny farce is for those who love theater, and it is especially amusing if you yourself have been on stage.

Stage 1 Theatre

Productions are performed at the Newark Memorial High School theater
which is located at 39375 Cedar Boulevard in Newark, behind New Park Shopping Mall.
From 880 going north take the Mowry exit. Turn left onto Mowry towards Newark, and then a left onto Cedar. Follow Cedar to the Newark Memorial High School. Go past the big school building looking on the right beyond the electronic school billboard for a circular driveway parking lot . There may be theater sandwich boards

“It’s Only A Play” by Terrence McNally

Opens February 19 and Runs through March 13

Friday and Saturday – 8pm
Sunday – 2:30 pm

$25 General Admission at Door
$22 Advance Purchase and Senior
$12 Students (high school and younger)
$18 Group of 12 or more – For same performance

Please note that this play contains mature language and situations. Made me blush!

My “It’s Only A Play” flickr set.

Google Might Kill Me?

Heated Toilet in the Ladies Room Google Campus

I love Google. They once invited me to the Google campus. As the subject of an experiment in blogging, I was paid a whopping $50., all that I could eat, and just the joy of being on the inside was cool.

As I said, “I love Google”, but I’m not sure that I need Google Buzz. Do I need this next “Big Thing”? According to this potty mouth Google guy if I value my life I better or else!

Original Joe’s Left a Bad Taste

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I was downtown with my husband Ken. I was tired and hungry, so when he suggested that he could drop me off at OJ’s while he ran an errand I said a quick, “Yes, please”.

It was late afternoon so there were plenty of stools at the counter. My favorite place to sit. I enjoy the banter between the cooks and the waiters, I like to see my meal prepared, and even though the front window is no longer a picture window I still covet the street view.

I decided that an omelette would be just enough. I asked to add cheese, bacon, vegetables, and onions. My waiter said that I might want to skip the onions because there were some in with the vegetables. I let him know that I didn’t want the bread, but that I would like a cup of coffee.

It was my mistake to order bacon in the afternoon. I appreciated that the bacon would be well done, but it seemed to take forever. When the omelette was finally set in front of me it looked perfect. My waiter then said that he would have them start the fries. (?) He just then thought about fries? I asked if I could have the small dinner salad instead.

As soon as my fork cut in to the eggs it became “you can’t judge a book by looking at the cover”. The bacon and the cheese were OK, but the vegetables looked and tasted as though they had been overcooked three days earlier! My salad came with the proud announcement, “There are no onions!”

Looking at my thimble of cold coffee as the waiter walked away I called out, “Could I have some more coffee please?”.

The bill was just over $23. I really hated to give up that $24. It will be a long while before Original Joe’s sounds like a good idea.

General Plan Task Force Tackles Transportation

The transportation element for the San Jose General Plan Update specifies a variety of different types of streets, depending on their function.

The transportation element for the San Jose General Plan Update specifies a variety of different types of streets, depending on their function.

The Envision San Jose 2040 general plan update task force met this evening to consider transportation and water supply issues, with transportation taking up most of the meeting time. One of the key issues in transportation is to accommodate planned growth in the city without overwhelming the transportation infrastructure; and a key strategy to do that is to increase the use of alternate “modes” of transportation like walking and biking.

A report drafted for the city by consultants Fehr & Peers highlights some ways to do that, as well as laying out a plan to combine personal vehicles, alternate modes, and freight (trucking) traffic, with connections to rail and freeways for regional travel. San Jose is compared to other cities that lead in “mode share split”. For example San Jose has about 1.2% of its commute trips currently taken by bicycle, while Portland has 6% and Davis (just this side of Sacramento) has 14% bicycle mode share. San Jose has about 1.8% mode share for commuting by foot, while San Francisco has 10% and leading college towns like Ann Arbor and Berkeley have 16 or 17%.

One task force member made an excellent point that the configuration of some of our streets makes cycling simply dangerous (imagine biking on Stevens Creek Boulevard, for example) and we’re unlikely to get cycling ridership up to match Portland, or the higher percentages the plan is targeting for 2040, without providing safe, separated cycling paths along such important routes. Which is not impossible, but it does require that the level of public subsidy granted to cycling infrastructure becomes a miniscule, rather than a microscopic, fraction of the subsidy already given to automobiles.

Another issue pointed out was that the proposed general plan doesn’t take into account the new Master Bike Plan adopted by the city council in just the last few weeks. For example, certain roads are proposed to become “bicycle priority streets”, but there’s no mention of actual “bicycle boulevards” as were included as part of the primary bikeway network in the Master Bike Plan. Hopefully some work will be done to align the new general plan with the Master Bike Plan before it’s finalized.

Overall I was glad to see that at least 80% of the task force members seemed to be on my side of this issue, promoting increased cycling (and walking) and improved accomodations for cyclists in San Jose, and I’m hopeful that the plan will go through as they discussed it tonight, and also be fulfilled by the city over the next 30 years.

Star Trek Exhibit at the Tech Museum Preview

1701-A EnterpriseI attended a preview of Star Trek: The Exhibition that opens Friday October 23 at the Tech Museum. I am a Star Trek fan but not a Trekker. I have seen all of the television series with Next Generation being my favorite. I have seen all of the films except the most recent.

So, let us take a tour …

When you enter the exhibit, you are greeted with a pillared entry. Do not go racing past them, take the time to notice they have text on them, from the “where no one has gone before” dialogue to a list of episodes.

Pass the pillars and you will be in a large area that includes uniforms and artifacts. There is a display featuring all of the Enterprises beginning with the Enterprise aircraft carrier, followed by the space shuttle, and then the starships. The centerpiece in this room is an immense model of the 1701-A Enterprise.

We exit this area to the right and enter the bridge of the original series. This for me was a disappointment. It is a scaled down bridge with no interactive features; unless sitting in the Captain’s chair or at the helm is being interactive. The consoles have plastic non-push lit up buttons. A few of these could be setup to activate display screens, sound effects, and communications chatter. Having the forward view screen animated would liven up the bridge. Note: no photography allowed throughout the exhibit. A photo of you in the Captain’s chair is available for a fee.

We exit the bridge through the turbolift and proceed down a walkway passing displays of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock’s uniforms.

Proceeding along the walkway, we enter a corridor of the 1701-D Enterprise (Next Gen), this portion of the exhibit being my favorite. First up along the corridor is Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s ready room. This closed-off area includes the Captain’s uniform, various props, and a bottle of Chateau Picard wine. Continue down the corridor to a full-scale Transporter. You can stand on the Transporter and wish photography were allowed. Look up at the monitor to see yourself; will you beam down? Next to the Transporter room is a full-scale model of the Guardian of Forever, the time portal from “The City on the Edge of Forever.” Another lost opportunity for a photo of you going through the portal. These two rooms include Captain chairs, a shooting model of the Borg ship, along with more artifacts and uniforms. Before leaving the corridor, take a close look at the displays on the walls of the corridor.

Leaving the corridor, we enter “The History of The Future.” The History of The Future is a timeline, which goes chronologically from right to left. Not only is it a bit strange that the timeline is right to left, you enter the room to the left of the timeline. This room includes shooting models of the Enterprise and other ships. There are more uniforms on display here including those from the recent Star Trek film.

That’s it. End of the exhibit; however, turn the corner and there are two motion simulators,

The two rides have an extra fee each.

There is an eight-seat ride that I found to be rather tame. There were six aboard, I was in the last row and had an obstructed view of the display screen. You are fighting the Borg as Worf (Michael Dorn) narrates. The ride rocks back and forth enough for you to slide back and forth on the bench seat. You may want to skip this one.

The other simulator is a two-seater. This one is fun. You get strapped in as you will be rolling and looping. The display is right in front of you and again you are fighting the Borg. There is a warning that the ride may be too intense for some; you will be upside-down a few times. If you are going to ride both simulators, do this ride second.

I recommend Star Trek: The Exhibition even though the admission is a bit pricy.

Check the Tech Museum’s Star Trek: The Exhibition website for ticket pricing, hours, costume guidelines, and more.

Star Trek Exhibit Photos…

Remembrances of 9/11 in San Jose

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Last night my husband, Ken, and I were remembering that September morning… I dressed for work, took my bowl of Cheerios and sat in front of the TV. I was expecting the usual morning news and traffic report. What I saw was so shocking. I could not believe my eyes and started to yell. Ken ran in holding his razor with his face covered in shaving cream just in time to see the second plane hit.

We considered not going to work, but as taxi drivers we knew that our services would be in demand. At San Jose Airport all flights had been grounded. The nervous travelers had only one thing on their minds; getting back home or to a hotel. We were busy for most of the morning and early afternoon. The airport emptied out, and then it was as if the city had just stopped. We drove home.

What are your memories of that day?

* National Day of Service and Remembrance in San Jose
A ceremony to honor attack victims and the brave firefighters, police officers, and civilians who gave so much. After which off duty San Jose firefighters and police officers along with volunteers will help with vegetable beds and neighborhood cleanup.

September 11th
Sacred Heart Community Service
1381 S. First St, San Jose
Scheduled 8:30 AM

9/11 Becomes Day of Service

Go Go Gadget, Library!

I’m a big fan of gadgets. I don’t go anywhere without my smartphone, iPod, and GPS receiver (that last one just in case a new geocache shows up). So when I heard about the San José Public Library’s new collection of gadgets, I got all excited and stuff.

The tricks that SJPL’s technology team has up its collective sleeve include an iGoogle tool which allows you to search for library materials right from your Google base page. There’s also a Google-like search bar that you can add to Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.

But my favorite gadget on the widgets and web tools page is the library lookup bookmarklet for Firefox. You just drag the bookmarklet onto your links bar in Firefox. Then, say you’re looking at a book’s page on Amazon and you’re wondering if the library has it. Just click on the bookmarklet and pow! — you get the library’s catalog page showing the availability of the book. This bookmarklet functions on any page with an ISBN on it. Wow, cool, huh? My favorite bookmarklets, which I use every day, have long been the Google Reader subscription bookmarklet and the “share on Facebook” bookmarklet, but this library one rivals them for usefulness.

The library is promising more gadgets to come, so keep an eye on this page for further developments. And enjoy these gadgets!

SJPL’s California Room Collection Goes Digital

From classic photos from Frontier Village to vintage yearbook autographs, every day you can find more and more in the San José Public Library California Room‘s digital collection.

The California Room has moved into the digital age, as staff there gradually digitize its treasure trove of historic photos and documents. It’s an ongoing project, and eventually you’ll be able to find digitized versions of primary documents, letters, maps and more — right online!

My personal favorite is the Frontier Village collection, with the best photo (in my humble opinion) being this vintage photo of Marshall Clyde. Marshall Clyde’s daughter is my best childhood friend and she and I once perused the California Room’s collection in person, looking for photos of him. Now we can go online and see them from the comfort of our own homes. Ah, I love technology!

And guess what… There’s some fun involved, too! The library is sponsoring a treasure hunt with a digital camera as grand prize (and some great books for the runners-up). Another intriguing page on the digital collections site is the mystery photo page where visitors are asked to help identify the people in various photographs.

This new collection, another positive development in the relationship between the City and San José State University, is quite exciting, and I look forward to seeing what else comes along.

San Jose experiments with “Wikiplanning”

As part of the Envision 2040 general plan update, the city of San Jose is introducing “Wikiplanning“. This new web project allows residents to participate in the general plan update project without having to attend a (possibly inconvenient) public meeting. There is a loosely guided set of “activities” that gather users’ inputs, and inform us about the general plan update. There’s also a message board and a photo gallery where we can comment on photos that show things we might want to bring in or keep out of the city over the next 30 years.

Looking at the website, I think it might best be considered an promising experiment. It’s certainly not a wiki, which is a highly hyperlinked web site that encourages users to add and edit content freely (the city of Davis has a good example of a civic wiki). There is no way for users to add new content, except for uploading photos. Even on the message board users can’t create new discussion topics.

Also, there’s still a few bugs to work out in the site (I think of these bugs as the price of admission to a relatively advanced-technology city). Trying to go back from an individual photo to the main photo page I got a database error message, and the photos are shown in a way that’s inefficient in bandwidth and distorted to look at. Prominent tabs at the top of each page (“About Us”, “Thinking Green”, “Help”) don’t lead to information about San Jose, but to the Wikiplanning software company’s sales site, with no way to get back to the San Jose-specific website.

On the other hand, the site shows promise. A true wiki, with the kind technical learning curve and geeky culture you see on Wikipedia, for example, would not be the best way to get more people (except wiki geeks) involved in civic discussions, and the bugs I found in the site could easily be fixed for the next project. Most importantly, even with a few warts, the web site should be able to bring more residents to the table in the planning process. That includes people with limitted free time to go to meetings and people with disabilities.

To use San Jose Wikiplanning, visit wikiplanning.org and log in with your email address and zip code or just use the password “2040”.

Security express lanes closed at SJC…and good riddance

The Merc reported this morning that security express lanes at SJC and other bay area airports closed this week due to insolvency of Clear, the company that operated them.

Hopefully worse is in store for the misconceived and anti-American airport pre-screening program (but realistically, a new company will be running those lines by the end of the year). Never mind that this program is tailor-made for terrorists who want to find out which of their agents are on the US government watch list (but thanks to Bruce Schneier for pointing it out). Never mind that this is a blatantly anti-egalitarian program that leaves those of us waiting in the cattle chute wishing we could give the world-mover being ushered through the Clear line a punch in the nose.

The real problem with the program is that it means our government leaders don’t have to eat their own dog food. They can legislate endless security hassles for the rest of us, but instead of enduring it themselves, they can look down their noses, ask (in a metaphorical Hahvahd accent), “don’t you know who I am?”, and skip right through. Maybe they have to pay the same $100 per year for pre-screening as anybody else, but they’re sure to get it back again as a campaign contribution from Clear by the end of the year.

The other galling aspect of the pre-screening program is the sheer stupidity of it. Didn’t the power elites (and by creating this program, they really demonstrate that “power elite” isn’t just a Marxist buzzword) who thought this up realize how resentful it would make the rest of us? How obviously anti-egalitarian it is? I realize its unrealistic to expect the power elite to wither away, leaving behind a paradise of social and economic equality, but I demand a power elite with some intelligence!

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