Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Images from a Noogler Week in Mountain View

Left: “Her Deepness” carved by Viktor in 2004 in honor of Deep Ocean Pioneer, Dr. Sylvia A. Earle – on the Google Campus;  Right: “Oceanographic Technician” carved by Viktor in 2004 in honor of Legend of the Sea, Jacques Yves Cousteau.
“Her Deepness” carved by Viktor in 2004 in honor of Deep Ocean Pioneer, Dr. Sylvia A. Earle – on the Google Campus“Oceanographic Technician” carved by Viktor in 2004 in honor of Legend of the Sea, Jacques Yves Cousteau

A Noogler is a new Google employee. Typically, each Noogler spends his first week of employment in orientation at Google’s Mountain View headquarters. Travelmarx went through the experience. It’s fun, exciting, overwhelming, motivating, and much more. It’s a week of learning about the company and about yourself as you try on the new culture you have been hired into. In this blog post, I won’t go into detail about the orientation because it will ruin the surprise for you (and I suppose you are reading this because you are going) and the details will likely change over time. Instead, I’ll talk about some of the things and places that caught my attention. My manager to-be suggested I stay two weeks at orientation which meant I spent the weekend in the area and could explore a little more.

GBikes

During the week, I was smitten by the GBikes. You can use them to travel around Google’s spread-out campus. These bright yellow, blue, red, and green bike - what did you expect for colors? - are fun to ride and make you feel like a kid. Some call them clown bikes. You pick up a bike where you find it and drop it off at your final destination. It leads to some bikes being in the oddest of locations. No problem, little bike gremlins come around in the night and rebalance the bike distribution. You can borrow helmets from lobbies before you jump on the bikes. Read more on the bikes in this Wired article.

GBikes in Front of 1200 Charleston Rd, Mountain View
GBikes in Front of 1200 Charleston Rd, Mountain ViewGBikes in Front of 1200 Charleston Rd, Mountain View

A Piece of the Berlin Wall

One day between orientation sessions, one of the guys we ate lunch with said: “hey I know where a piece of the Berlin Wall is close by.” That was enough for us to jump on our GBikes and go find it. The piece or more accurately, two pieces, were located at 2685 Marine Way, or thereabouts. It’s in a parking lot, not visible from the road. I didn’t realize so many of the segments of the Berlin Wall have been distributed around the world. One of the pieces, has a heart surrounding the words “Wir Liebe Dich” (We Love You).

A Piece of the Berlin Wall in Mountain View
A Piece of the Berlin Wall in Mountain ViewA Piece of the Berlin Wall in Mountain View

A Deborah Butterfield Horse

As I was riding between buildings (Crittenden to the Headquarters building) one day I saw a Deborah Butterfield horse grazing in a brown field along Crittenden Lane. The plaque below it reads “Cast Bronze Horse, Deborah Butterfield, May 2001, A Gift to the People of Mountain View, From SGI.” Friends tell me that Silicon Graphics (SGI) was once located in buildings now occupied by Google or at least in the area. Now, only the horse tells the story.

Left: Deborah Butterfield Horse on Crittenden Lane; Right: View of Google Campus Looking South from Vista Slope. Looking South
Deborah Butterfield Horse on Crittenden LaneView of Google Campus Looking South from Vista Slope

The Stevens Creek Trail

The Stevens Creek Trail, runs north and south, following the Stevens Creek. The trail starts just south of El Camino Real (California State Route 82) all the way to the San Francisco Bay. Just north of the Google campus, you can connect up the Permanente Creek Trail and trails leading the Palo Alto Baylands. I used the Stevens Creek Trial to ride back and forth to campus from my apartment in Mountain View.

Left: Stevens Creek Trail Bridge Near Moffett Field Boulevard and West Valley Freeway (85); Right: Stevens Creek Trial Near the Ames Substation
Stevens Creek Trail Bridge Near Moffett Field Boulevard and West Valley Freeway (85)Stevens Creek Trial Near the Ames Substation

Left: View from Stevens Creek Trail Toward Moffett Field; Right: Snail on Rumex Near Shoreline Amphitheatre
View from Stevens Creek Trail Toward Moffett FieldSnail on Rumex Near Shoreline Amphitheatre

The Palo Alto Baylands

Just a stone’s throw from the Google campus you will find the Baylands Nature Preserve. I borrowed a bike from the Google Bike Shop for the weekend and took off early on Saturday morning to explore the preserve. I ended up at the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center, built on pilings at the edge of the salt marsh. Nobody was home and the building was not officially open, yet the door was open. Inside, there are some exhibits explaining the ecosystem of the marsh and the history of the area, but it was a bit of disappointment. Read the brochure online to get an overview. There are information plaques talking about plants and animals scattered throughout the preserve, but the preserve is too big to understand or appreciate in one visit.

Left: Water, Mud, Sky at the Palo Alto Baylands; Center: Palo Alto Baylands (Byxbee Park) Pylons; Right: James Moore – ‘Bliss in the Moment’ – Sculpture, Near Hawk Pond
Water, Mud, Sky at the Palo Alto BaylandsPalo Alto Baylands (Byxbee Park) PylonsJames Moore – ‘Bliss in the Moment’ – Sculpture, Near Hawk Pond

Android Figures

One thing I’ll say about Google is that, like many tech companies, there is no shortage of code names for various products. The code names for the Android operation system are some of the catchiest. They are rendered larger than life outside of Building 44 on Charleston Road.

Left: Android Code Names in the Large; Right: A Loon Balloon at a TGIF Event
Android Code Names in the LargeA Loon Balloon at a TGIF Event

Stanford

If it all started at Stanford, Google that is, why not visit? The Google history page says that Larry Page and Sergey Brin met in 1995 at Stanford. Let’s see, I was already in a midlife crisis in 1995. Oh never mind me.

Back to Stanford. I’d never been there so a little campus sightseeing was in order. I first dropped by with Wild Dingo on Saturday. Then on Sunday, I rode over from Mountain View and tool a self-guided podcast tour, Plants, Animals, and Science Art on the Stanford Campus.

Left: Alexander Calder – ‘Le Faucon’ (1963); Center: Henry Moore – ‘Large Torso: Arch’ (1962-63); Right: Rodin - Burghers of Calais (1884 - 1895)
Alexander Calder – ‘Le Faucon’ (1963)Henry Moore – ‘Large Torso: Arch’ (1962-63) Rodin - Burghers of Calais (1884 - 1895)

Stuff To Do in the Area as a Noogler

Admittedly, this list is skewed to my tastes, but here it goes:


A Wall and a Portal: Metaphors for a Career Change?  Left: A Piece of the Berlin Wall; Right: Garden Gate at Filoli.
A Piece of the Berlin WallGarden Gate at Filoli

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Brush McCoy Jewell Vase and Cryptomeria japonica

Left: Bruch McCoy Jewell Vase in Cryptomeria japonica; Right: Jewell Vase

In this POTS and PLANTS installment, we pair up a 1920s Bruch McCoy Vase (Jewell Pattern / 6 inches) with Cryptomeria japonica ‘Little Diamond’. The McCoy Pottery (mccoypottery.com) site gives the following description:

1923 Jewell. . . Shaded bisque-like exteriors decorated with high gloss design. Triangular voids within rose-red triangles form border under rows of blue and white dots, squeeze bag technique.

The C. japonica dwarf cultivar ‘Little Diamond’, according to Plant Delights Nursery, is a 1990 introduction from Konijn Nursery in the Netherlands. The species in the wild is endemic to Japan and can reach in the hundreds of feet. C. japonica is the only species in the genus Cryptomeria which is in the Cupressaceae (cypress) family.

In Japan, C. japonica it is known as Sugi. According to Quattrocchi the genus name Cryptomeria has the following origins:

From the Greek krypto “to hide,” kryptos “hidden” and meris “a portion, part,” the seeds and all flower parts are concealed by the bracts.

Left: Cryptomeria japonica in a pot; Right: Brush McCoy Jewell Vase with C. japonica

Wexley School for Girls – Yellow Wall and Back Alley Street Art

Wexley School for Girls – Yellow Wall and Alley GraffitiWexley School for Girls – Yellow Wall and Alley Graffiti
Wexley School for Girls is a creative agency, a self-described “fan factory”. They “cultivate and ignite consumer’s love for brands.” And for the longest time I thought there office at 2218 5th was a funky new restaurant. Okay, I was thrown off by the rubber chickens in the window. You will be drawn to the yellow wall of clip-art-like art if you are in that part of town. (I saw from a distance and missed the Microsoft ad mural when the yellow wall gave way to the talents of joey nix.)

Wexley School for Girls – Yellow Wall and Alley GraffitiWexley School for Girls – Yellow Wall and Alley Graffiti

Jamie Bernard Mural – Black Market Skates

Jamie Bernard Mural on Black Market Skates

I was intrigued by this small mural of Jamie Bernard on the side of Black Market Skates (2404 7th Ave. Seattle) the first time I saw it walking to work. I found out later that Bernard was a fixture in the Seattle skateboarding community. And, that he ended his own life. The mural is a half body shot of Bernard with red roses in the bottom third of the portrait and his birth and death dates: 4/25/82 to 9/11/10.

Fremont Foundry Murals – Groovy Animals


Groovy Animals in Fremont, Rebus with Artist Signature?

Who created this mural and what it represents is not known. We’ve looked around for an obvious signature or attribution and none were found.  Maybe the clue is the rebus with a “tie” + “r” + “bells” – “b” = “tyrell”?

The Fremont Fine Arts Foundry – the murals are on the east wall of this structure – is closed and so no answers can be found there. Each vignette of the larger murals seems to be part of larger story. Most if not all of the images are outlined by grooves incised into the wall and about ¼ to ½ inch thick.

The murals are located at 154 North 35th Street in Fremont.

Part of the Mural on the Fremont Fine Arts Foundry Building

Stitched Views

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of the Kenwood House, London

Collage of Some of the Portraits in Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of the Kenwood House, London.
Top Row: George Romney, Emma Hart as the “Spinstress”, ca. 1784-85; Thomas Gainsborough, Portrait of Mary Countess of Howe, 1760; Joshua Reynolds, Kitty Fisher as “Cleopatra” Dissolving the Pearl, 1759
Middle Row: Frans Hals, Portrait of Pieter van den Broecke, 1633; Rembrandt, Self-Portrait with Two Circles; John Hoppner, Mrs. Jordan as Viola in Twelfth Night, ca. 1785-86
Bottom Row: Joshua Reynolds, Mrs. Tollemache as “Miranda”, 1773-74; Joshua Reynolds, Mrs. Musters as “Hebe”, 1785; George Romney, Mrs. Musters, 1779-80
Collage of Some of the Portraits in Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of the Kenwood House, London.
The Seattle Art Museum show Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of the Kenwood House, London (Feb 14 – May 19, 2013) has come and gone but I wanted to write a little something about it. The show featured a selection of approximately 50 work from the collection of the Kenwood House. The house was donated to the British nation by Lord Iveagh (Edward Guinness) when he died in 1927. Lord Iveagh was a member of the Guinness family (accomplished in many things as well as being the makers of Guinness Beer) who amassed quite a collection of Old Master paintings of which a selection was included in this show. The SAM site says “Since the earl was a newcomer to London emigrating from his native Ireland, he may have selected works that would help him fit in with his peers and elevate his social standing.”

A number of the paintings in the exhibit are portraits of society women playing dress up as Hebe or Cleopatra for example. Not sure what it means but it was fun to look at. Then there is Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait with Two Circles. There have been a few ideas put forward as to what those circles are behind Rembrandt in the portrait, but not one person said “eyes”, as in I’ll be watching you! That’s my vote.

There was a companion exhibition: European Masters: Treasures of Seattle that, on paper looked like a good idea, but in practice to the average exhibition visitor, leaned more toward awkward juxtaposition. Speaking of awkward juxtaposition, Daphne Guinness (artist and descendant of Lord Iveagh as I found out later, apparently I was not paying close attention to what I was listening during my visit) popped up a few times in the audio guide. I kept wondering why is this lady in my headphones talking about modeling and how tough it is? Ah, she can fill us in on hard it is to sit as Hebe or Cleopatra. I see, but Rembrandt’s circles are so much more interesting.

European Masters Map & Guide
European Masters Map & GuideEuropean Masters Map & GuideEuropean Masters Map & Guide

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Dennis Pot and Bulbous Oat Grass

A Pot in a Patch of Bulbous Oat Grass
A Pot in a Patch of Bulbous Oat GrassA Pot in a Patch of Bulbous Oat GrassA Pot in a Patch of Bulbous Oat Grass
In this POTS and PLANTS episode we have one of our many “Dennis” pots (pots from a friend named Dennis) and Bulbous Oat Grass.

Dennis said that the pot was made with Laguna Clay Company's Los Altos Blend clay. The Glaze is called Woo Blue. The orange flecking in the glaze is from iron oxide bleeding through from the clay body. The pot was fired in a reduction kiln.  A reduction firing reduces the amount of oxygen in the kiln, so that the flame steels the oxygen from the iron oxide in the clay body, giving it its warm toasted appearance.

Bulbous Oat Grass, is always a spring time favorite with its soft leaves. As soon as summer comes and it gets drier here in Seattle, it withers away and goes dormant. It often comes back briefly in the fall with the return of rain.

What is the correct scientific name for bulbous oat grass? Is it Arrhenatherum elatius bulbosum ‘Variegatum’ (Monrovia, Blooming Advantage) or Arrhenatherum elatius var. bulbosum (Dave’s Garden, USDA Plants Profile)? ‘Variegatum’ is a cultivar, bred for desirable characteristics, and bulbosum is a variety, a step below a species. I would guess since this plant was purchased in a nursery it would be the ‘Variegatum’.

According to Quattrocchi, the generic name origins of A. elatius are:

Greek arrhen “male, masculine” and anther “a bristle”, referring to the staminate floret.

Elatius mean tall and refers to the tall habit of the common variety, not the variegated species shown here, which is anything but tall but I guess that’s all relative. Finally, according to Monrovia, Linnaeus put this grass in the genus Avena, commonly known as oats. Later, the grass was put in th Arrhenatherum genus but the “oat” name stuck.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

West Seattle Mural – The Junction


Left: West Seattle Junction Mural; Right: A Juniper Bush as an Umbrella West Seattle Junction MuralA Juniper Bush as an Umbrella
We caught this mural on a Sunday afternoon while scurrying to Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle. The plaque accompanying the mural says that “[a]s an incorporated municipality for a brief five years, West Seattle launched the nation’s first city-owned streetcar system. The intersection of the West Seattle line, which ran through the Admiral district along California Avenue, and the Fauntleroy line, which ran along Alaska Street and then south along California, became known as the Junction, with a capital J.” For more information about West Seattle murals, see http://westseattleblog.com/west-seattle-101-the-murals.

I like the way a juniper bush works itself into the mural substituting for the woman’s umbrella.

West Seattle Junction Mural Description
West Seattle Junction Mural Description

Keys to the City - South Lake Union Mural

Detail of Keys to the City Mural
Detail of Keys to the City Mural
Keys to the City is by Invisible Creature, was painted by Don Rockwell and Foley Sign Co., and was commissioned by Vulcan Real Estate. More information about the 100’ by 30’ mural is on Invisible Creature. The mural is located on Thomas St between Boren Ave N and Terry Ave N.

Keys to the City Mural – South Lake Union
Keys to the City Mural – South Lake UnionKeys to the City Mural – South Lake Union