Thursday, February 14, 2002

San Jose Snapshots

San Jose is a sprawling city in the Santa Cruz Valley. It is hard to think of Santa Cruz Valley as a valley - you can see mountains in the distant east and west but in between there are miles and miles of flat space. We travelled to San Jose by train, only an hour's journey from our station at Broadway. Along the tracks there were all the signs of suburbia : backyard fences, shopping malls, busy streets. I was surprised to see blossoming fruit trees alongside wattle(!) trees. I guess the wattle shouldn't have surprised me - the El Camino Real is flanked by huge eucalyptus trees.

We travelled to San Jose to visit the Tech Museum, or more formally "The Tech Museum of Innovation".

The museum was filled with interactive displays:

  • I tried to produce and edit my own movie.

    My only problem was animating the monkey. To move the monkey I had to strap on some head gear and put my hand in some gloves and move. The monkey was supposed to move as I did but I couldn't get his head to move away from the bottom of the screen.

  • Tony designed a mountain bike and got a "Cool" rating.
  • We played a game of virtual volleyball.

    Imagine a screen with the shadow of a net in the middle. Your shadow appears on the screen when you step into the room. A ball appears on the screen and to "hit" the ball you have to move your shadow.

    Tony won because my first serve bounced off his shadow's head when he stepped into the room. After that, all his serves kept bouncing off my head and I was too small to get the ball over the net!

  • A robot spelt my name with building blocks.
  • We solved a crime by analysing eyewitness reports, fibre samples and DNA.
  • We experienced the last big earthquake that hit India.
Noah's Shark by Linda Dupuis-Rosen

As we went in search of food we passed an area called the Circle of Palms. Around the palms were a number of sharks.

Artists were commissioned to sculpt the sharks, the mascot for the local ice hockey team. The sharks were displayed around San Jose and were eventually to be auctioned to raise money for local charities.

Cabo Wabo Shark by Aaron Hagar

This was another shark swimming in the Circle of Palms. Cabo Wabo is a brand of tequila - and one of the sponsors of this shark.

As we walked back to the station we passed these columns. The columns are opposite the Compaq Centre, the home rink of the Sharks, and carry depictions of ice skating scenes. The columns struck us as unusual because the depictions were black and white mosaics.

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