Lincoln Avenue Road Diet, Pokemon Go

Willow Glen bike rack 30 July 2016

In the nearly twenty years my family has lived in the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose, California, we have enjoyed shopping and eating on The Avenue (Lincoln Avenue between Minnesota and Willow) several times each week. We often walk from our home near the Tamien CalTrain station to Lincoln and back – about 3 mile round trip. Recently, several of us have being playing Pokémon Go as we walk. My son Paul is our family expert and advisor on all things Pokémon.  The Lincoln Avenue area is particularly rich in pocket monsters and PokéStops!

On 28 June 2016, the City Council approved proceeding with the Road Diet (“Lincoln Avenue Pilot Project”).  Since then, there has been much road work and many changes on Lincoln Avenue. The 28 June 2016 City Council Synopsis for Agenda item 6.1:

6.1 Lincoln Avenue Pilot Project Report.
Recommendation: Accept the Lincoln Avenue Pilot Project Report, and support the
plan to pave and stripe Lincoln Avenue in the current pilot configuration, implement
minor traffic signal improvements at the Minnesota/Lincoln intersection, and traffic
calming improvements in adjacent neighborhoods. CEQA: Exempt, Section 15301(c),
Existing Facilities and Section 15304(h), Minor Alterations to Land, File No. PP16-063.
Council District 6. (Transportation)
The memorandum from Council Member Pierluigi Oliverio, dated June 27, 2016, was approved as follows:

  1. Accept traffic and sales tax reports provided by Staff.
  2. Accept Staff recommendation to make the current lane configuration
    permanent in July.
  3. Accept Staff recommendations for further improvements on neighboring streets verified by the Department of Transportation (DOT) data.
  4. In the event that monies for improvement are depleted, DOT Staff is
    welcome to fund improvements out of the District 6 Office Budget ending December 31, 2016.
  5. Return to Council with an amendment to the existing ordinance that bans bicycle riding on downtown sidewalks, with an exemption for pre-teens and propose expanding the area to include Lincoln Avenue between Coe and Minnesota. This would minimize conflicts with pedestrians, strollers and canine companions now that bike lanes are permanent.

Changes I have noticed since June on Lincoln Avenue include:

  • Addition of “bump out” eating area for Tac-oh! restaurant (1384 Lincoln Ave. at Minnesota) – creating a seating area in what used to be parking spaces.
  • Upgrade of street light at Lincoln / Minnesota.
  • Addition of “Willow Glen” branded racks – for bike parking.
  • Slurry seal over existing paving (not a full repaving), with new road markings such as cross walk lines, bike parking signs, and arrows in turn lanes.
  • Addition of small statues in the existing planter boxes.

Stop light upgrade at Lincoln and Minnesota, San Jose, CA, 12 July 2016

Painting Bike Parking Sign Lincoln Avenue San Jose CA, 11 August 2016

New Sculpture, Lincoln Avenue San Jose CA, August 2016

Most of these are welcome changes; however, the five categories of Lincoln Avenue problems associated with the Willow Glen Road Diet, described in my 17 June 2016 post largely remain unresolved:

  1. Traffic safety and speed
  2. Too Little Parking
  3. Bicycles on the sidewalk
  4. Delivery Trucks parking in the turn lane
  5. Community Trust

Parking continues to be the biggest concern to local businesses (and the problem least addressed) – parking both for private cars and for trucks trying to make deliveries.

Delivery truck in turn lane, Lincoln Avenue San Jose CA, 23 August 2016

I am delighted that so many local treasures – like the US Mail Delivery Mural, Chase Bank mosaics, and the Pizza My Heart surfboards – are now Pokémon Go landmarks.  The PokéStops help players notice some of the charming details of our neighborhood downtown and make walking The Avenue even more fun. I still wish that we could resolve some of the persistent larger problems during this time of cosmetic enhancement.

US Mail Delivery Mural, Lincoln Avenue San Jose CA, 23 August 2016

UntChase Bank mosaic, Lincoln Avenue San Jose CA, 23 August 2016tled

Pizza My Heart Surfboards, Lincoln Avenue San Jose CA, 23 August 2016

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Driving, Rafting, Hiking, Spelunking, and Trains

Jessica, Matthew, John, Paul in Caboose 12, Railroad Park Resort, Dunsmuir CA, August 2016

Our family took a short vacation together this week – a road trip from San Jose to northern California. Jessica and Matthew and Paul and John and I stayed for two nights at the Railroad Park Resort in Dunsmuir. John and I got to sleep in wooden caboose 12.

On Monday, we went on a white water rafting trip with Living Waters down the middle Klamath River, followed by a drive then a hike to 8,050 feet on Mount Shasta (elevation 14,179 feet above sea level).  On Tuesday, we took a boat across the lake to tour Lake Shasta Caverns and then drove to Portola, seeing a train at the famous Keddie Wye junction just before full dark.

Portola is home to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum (WPRM), of which we are long-time members.  WP668, our own backyard caboose, has four sister cabooses of the same age and design in Portola: WP679 (owned by the City of Portola), WP645 and WP646 at WPRM, and Sacramento Northern 1642 – also at WPRM.  When we bought WP668 in 2006, it was housed at the Golden Gate Railroad Museum in San Francisco along with WP646 and SN1642.  We enjoyed seeing these again on Wednesday.

In a variety of places during our trip, we saw signs, flags, and bumper strips for the State of Jefferson. Those supporting this proposed new US state seem to do so as a way of expressing dissatisfaction with our current government, or its representation of them.

Railroad Park Resort, Dunsmuir CA, August 2016

Log Truck at Black Butte CA August 2016

Klamath River Rafting, CA, Matthew and Paul, August 2016

Klamath River Rafting, CA, Jessica, John and Paul

Klamath River Rafting, CA, Katy and John, August 2016

Mount Shasta Buckwheat August 2016

John and Paul on Mount Shasta August 2016

Mount Shasta Volcanic Rocks August 2016

State of Jefferson hay August 2016

State of Jefferson sign August 2016

State of Jefferson stuff August 2016

Rainbow water tanker trucks on Interstate 5, August 2016

Family dinner John Katy Jessica Matthew Paul August 2016

Jessica, Matthew, Paul, Caboose 12, Railroad Park Resort, Dunsmuir CA, August 2016

Lake Shasta CA August 2016

Lake Shasta Caverns CA August 2016

old ladder Lake Shasta Caverns CA August 2016

John Katy Jessica Matthew Paul at Lake Shasta Caverns CA August 2016

modern steps Lake Shasta Caverns CA August 2016

Jessica at Battle Creek Vista August 2016

Katy and John at Keddie Wye, Plumas County CA, August 2016

Keddie Wye, Plumas County CA, August 2016

Portola CA, Western Pacific Railroad Museum - WP917-D diesel engine, August 2016

Portola CA, Western Pacific Railroad Museum - WP645 caboose, August 2016

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TechWomen Mail

Katy Dickinson and Janet Fofang Hopper Conference 2015

The TechWomen mentoring program participants often travel among our 21 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.   On our journeys, mentors and mentees often bring each other things, calling such deliveries “TechWomen Mail”. Sometimes the generous TechWomen carry local treats (like cookies or honey), or souvenirs from their country (like pen holders or coffee mugs).  Earlier this year, a traveling mentor bought a rug in the souq only to find it too big for her luggage.  In the next few months, I am sure that rug will arrive in the Silicon Valley with a visiting TechWoman.

Souvenirs from Egypt and Lebanon, coffee and pen cups

Since I would be seeing the Cameroon “Angels Tech of Africa” Technovation team in San Francisco, Janet Fofang (TechWomen 2013 Fellow) asked me to send her some electronics to use when teaching her Tassah Academy or WeTech girls in Yaounde, Cameroon. My husband, John Plocher, put together a box of interesting electronic boards and chips for exploration. Dorothée Danedjo Fouba  (TechWomen 2014 Fellow) kindly agreed to carry the box to Janet. I left the box loosely packed and openable so that Dorothée and customs inspectors could see what it contained – I am sure it looked odd on airport scanners.

This week, Janet wrote me that the box had arrived safely. (Thanks to Dorothée!) Janet and John are now in email discussions about what was in the box, and about software and hardware open source projects he has published on our family website, spcoast.com. We may have more TechWomen Mail headed to Cameroon soon!

Teaching Materials - Electronic Parts July 2016

Cameroon Technovation Team with Katy Dickinson and Tara Chklovski 2016

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Paul’s Tableware

Paul bowl and plates July 2016

My son Paul D. Goodman is very much enjoying being a Senior studying Studio Art at San Jose State University. This summer, Paul designed an independent study project to create three ceramic plate and bowl sets of tableware on the wheel. As of now, he is still working his way through throwing, trimming, glazing, and firing this huge collection. A week of work was lost when someone carelessly left the SJSU ceramics studio door open on a very hot day, causing all of the wet plates to dry very quickly and crack.

Paul is building up to selling his work on Etsy but needs enough stock to open his online shop. I just updated Paul’s portfolio on Paul’s Element, where you can see this and his other artwork.

Here are the photos I have so far of Paul’s tableware in progress:

Paul bowl and plates July 2016

Paul bowls July 2016

Paul ceramic plates July 2016

Paul ceramic plates July 2016

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Lighting a Stained Glass Panel

Detail stained glass panel by Vince Taylor 2004

Lighting a big stained glass panel is tricky. You want the light to be warm and even across the surface to show off the colors and and patterns. Museums like The Richard H. Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass at Chicago’s Navy Pier feature custom light boxes to present their masterpieces. Those of us with stained glass built into our homes as windows need another solution that addresses inside/outside light and darkness.  The glass should look good from both inside and out: a gift to the street.

Our architectural stained glass was created by Vince Taylor, starting in 2004 with a big panel in the dining room plus a smaller panel in our front door. In addition to being lovely, the panels provide privacy from the street and help reduce the heat and glare from direct sunlight on the hottest side of the house.

John tried lighting the big panel in a variety of unsatisfactory ways until he settled on LED strips around the edge. These work the best of the options we have tried – providing a warm and inexpensive light source – but the strips become brittle in sunlight in about five years. Today, John replaced the set.

This is Vince Taylor checking up on the big panel in 2012:
Vince Taylor with stained glass 2012

New LED strips going in:
LED strips

John installing new LED lights on stained glass panel 1 Aug 2016

5 year old LED strips in the trash:
degraded LED strips

Detail stained glass panel by Vince Taylor 2004

Front door stained glass panel by Vince Taylor 2004

Added 2 August 2016: night picture from the street:
Stained Glass Panel from outside at night

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How to Display Stones in Earthquake Country

Sea Lily crinoid fossils Scyphocrinites elegans from Morocco on wall plaque

Displaying stones can be a challenge, especially in California where we regularly have earthquakes. If you are lucky, a decorative stone will come with a suitable base. Or, if the stone is small, a store-bought plastic stand may work. However, for large, heavy stones custom design and fabrication are needed for the best presentation. If you are handy like my husband John, you can make stands and pedestals yourself.

Here is what we are avoiding. This is a large cloisonné metalwork vase John and I bought in China which was flattened in an earthquake when it fell to the floor:
Chinese cloisonné vase smashed in an earthquake

Example 1: Small Fool’s Gold Sphere

iron pyrite, fool's gold sphere 1 Aug 2016

Basic hoop: My son Paul gave me this pretty iron pyrite (fool’s gold) sphere along with a clear plastic hoop for a stand.  The hoop keeps the sphere from rolling but it is only held in place by gravity. In an earthquake, this heavy sphere will probably smash something.

Example 2: Ruby Crystals on Quartz

Ruby Crystals on Quartz on a stand, from China
Simple pedestal: John brought this rock to Paul as a present from China some years ago.  It is ruby crystals on quartz, on a custom pedestal. The quartz has been carved away from the crystals to show them off. You can see in the photo below that the pedestal it came with has a trough or fitted hole carved into it the exact size and shape of the stone.
pedestal or stand for a rock

Example 3: Zimbabwe Shona Sculpture

Large fitted pedestal: I carried home this Shona sculpture of carved serpentine for John when I was in Zimbabwe with the 2016 TechWomen Delegation. I asked the sculptor, Martin Chirenda, to sign it before before wrapping. The sculpture weighs over sixty pounds and is top-heavy. We were concerned that it would break or hurt someone falling over in an earthquake. John made a low oak pedestal by carving a trough and then filling it with epoxy to fit the stone exactly. The stone is fixed to the dried epoxy with a thin pour of Karo (corn sugar syrup). Using Karo is a museum display trick that does not damage the art but keeps it firmly attached to its base.

Martin Chirenda 2015 Shona Sculpture Zimbabwe Harare, 26 Feb 2016 . Martin Chirenda 2015 Shona Sculpture Zimbabwe Harare, 26 Feb 2016

Martin Chirenda 2015 Shona Sculpture Zimbabwe Harare

sculpture stand

Martin Chirenda 2015 Shona Sculpture Zimbabwe Harare on pedestal 10 July 2016

Example 4: Sea Lily Fossil from Morocco

Mounted on a Plaque: We bought this ancient double Sea Lily or Crinoid fossil at Consolidated Rock & Mineral in Vacaville for our anniversary. It was found in Morocco originally. The stone is heavy but the fossil itself is fragile. We wanted to display it so that it could be admired but not broken. John just finished making this wood plaque with hooks. The plaque is mounted to the wall with a French cleat.  These are the best flowers John has ever bought me!
Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco

Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco on wall plaque

Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco on wall plaque

Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco on wall plaque

Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco on wall plaque

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Caboose and Cactus Arroyo

WP668 caboose and cactus arroyo, June 2016

My office replaced a swimming pool. WP668 is the 100-year-old railroad caboose in San Jose, California (“the Capital of the Silicon Valley“) where I work for Mentoring Standard.  Above is WP668 in our backyard now, and below is what the same space looked like in the year 2000.  The swimming pool was removed ten years ago – see more photos on the WP668 webpage.

family in the swimming pool in 2000

I designed the landscape setting for WP668 based on large rocks and cactuses, including a Y-shaped arroyo (or dry creek) that is small enough to be called an arroyito.  Like the bones of California, our arroyito is largely made up of granite, basalt, limestone, and quartz, with jasper, serpentine, sandstone, conglomerates, and other stones for variety.  We bought two large boulders from South Bay Materials but the other rocks were adopted as individuals.  Every time we go on vacation or a road trip, we come home with new garden rocks, so the arroyito becomes more solid and complex year-by-year.  My family complains when they have to ride home from a trip with their feet on top of the latest stones headed for the arroyito but they still help me stuff rocks into the car.

WP668 caboose and cactus arroyo, July 2016

WP668 caboose and cactus arroyo, July 2016

WP668 caboose and cactus arroyo, July 2016

WP668 caboose and cactus arroyo, July 2016

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