Features & Columns

Silicon Alleys: Montalvo Exhibit Uses Fiber Art to Explore Human Connection

Artist Ramekon O'Arwisters will host a 'crochet jam' workshop on Friday as part of Montalvo's interactive textile art exhibit Read More


Tinker, Taylor, Brewer, Maker

Science has always made its greatest strides when spurred by powerful forces. Capitalism and global trade pushed the innovations of the Industrial Revolution. Global war efforts have led to advancements in food storage, aviation and communications systems. As it turns out, there are fewer forces greater than humanity's thirst for beer. By way of example, Danish brewing company Carlsberg first established a laboratory in 1876 in order to advance the science of beer. One of the lab's first major breakthroughs came in the development of a purified yeast that is still used by many industrial brewers to this day. Another scientific breakthrough--the development of the pH scale--has found applications that stretch far beyond the brewing world. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Montalvo Exhibit Uses Fiber Art to Explore Human Connection

This Friday evening, Montalvo Arts Center will launch an exhibit of textile and fiber art installations, "Threads: Weaving Humanity," to kick off its annual outdoor summer program, "Art on the Grounds," embroidering a powerful array of social and global themes, both literally and metaphorically. In most cases, works of textile art are sensitive to the elements, so they tend to be presented indoors, in highly controlled environments rather than be subjected to the weather outside, but with "Threads," this is not the case. Each international artist designed his or her work to interact with Montalvo's natural surroundings. The works weave, stitch, mend, braid and embroider the threads of our collective humanity, highlighting the practices of » Read More

Advice Goddess: Should I Take a Social Media Hiatus?

Put on 10 pounds recently? No problem! There's surely an app that'll stick your head on the bod of some 22-year-old who works out 13 hours a day and subsists on gum and bottles of air. Social media is often seen as Satan with cat memes. It gets blamed for everything from eating disorders to the decline in the bee population. But consider that how a person uses social media can shape how it affects them. Psychologist Sarah Hanley and her colleagues note that there are two different kinds of social media users: active and passive. Active social media users create content and communicate with others. Passive users browse newsfeeds and posts without commenting. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 17, 2019

An Aries reader sent me a boisterous email. "I was afraid I was getting too bogged down by my duties," he said, "too hypnotized by routine, too serious about my problems. So I took drastic action." He then described the ways he broke out of his slump. Here's an excerpt: "I gave laughing lessons to a cat. I ate a spider. I conducted a sneezing contest. I smashed an alarm clock with a hammer. Whenever an elderly woman walked by, I called out 'Hail to the Queen!' and did a backflip. I gave names to my spoon (Hortense), the table (Beatrice), a fly that was buzzing around (Fallon), and a toothpick (Arturo)." According to my analysis of the astrological omens, Aries, you'd be wise to stage a comparable uprising. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Vietnamese Buddhist churches populate the far flung corners of San Jose

I went looking for Vietnamese Buddhist churches in East San Jose and found some forgotten pieces of San Fernando Street in the process. It began with a long lost text resurfacing at just the right time. In 2002, San Jose resident Huu Do Le published Sounds of the Bamboo Forest: Buddhist Churches of America in the Vietnamese Tradition. A review copy showed up at Metro, and apparently I took it home with the intention of reviewing the book and then forgot about it. I have no memory of this, but after some recent domestic reorganization, I rediscovered the book. At least according to the Tibetan tradition, sometimes a key text is buried and stored away for a later date, like a time capsule, with the intention of resurfacing at the opportune » Read More

Advice Goddess: How Can I Avoid Women Who Just Want to Use Me as a Meal Ticket?

Helpfully, Collison and his team found that there's a particular type that tends to milk men out of meals, and it's women who scored high in the "dark triad." This is a three-pack of antisocial personality traits: narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism. Machiavellianism involves a tendency to manipulate and deceive others for personal gain. Psychopathy is marked by a lack of empathy and remorse. The researchers note that people who score high in it are unlikely to consider their date's perspective and "the intense negative emotions" that come from being led on. And finally, there's narcissism. Narcissists are self-adoring, self-focused, entitled creeps who tend to be "socially adept." » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 10, 2019

Eight years ago, researchers in Kerala, India went to the Padmanabhaswamy Temple and climbed down into centuries-old vaults deep beneath the main floor. They found a disorganized mess of treasure in the form of gold and precious gems. There were hundreds of chairs made from gold, baskets full of gold coins from the ancient Roman Empire, and a four-foot-high solid statue of a god, among multitudinous other valuables. I like bringing these images to your attention, Taurus, because I have a theory that if you keep them in your awareness, you'll be more alert than usual to undiscovered riches in your own life and in your own psyche. I suspect you are closer than ever before to unearthing those riches. » Read More

America the Belly Full

"I can't believe I've been doing it this long," Chestnut says with a chuckle. When this all took off about 14 years ago, the Vallejo-born San Jose State University grad assumed he would eventually fall back on his civil engineering degree. Instead, what began with a first-place trophy in a Stockton asparagus eating contest, led to an impressive third-place finish at the 2005 Nathan's Famous contest, and ultimately morphed into a career, complete with corporate sponsorships and his own line of mustard. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Club Owner Recalls the Fights That Fueled the Ramones' Performances

The date of July 5, 1989, lives in punk rock infamy, in Santa Clara and around the world. On that day 30 years ago, Dee Dee Ramone played his final gig as a member of the Ramones at One Step Beyond. That whole month in particular resonates with many locals. Located at 1400 Martin Ave. in Santa Clara, the original incarnation of One Step Beyond, in the last half of the '80s, was probably the South Bay's first legitimate all-ages goth, new wave and punk hangout, a huge sweaty club that catered to all the outcasts back when San Jose and Santa Clara were miserable suburban wastelands. It was the only place a 16-year-old could go dancing until 3 in the morning. People even lost their virginities inside the place. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Can I Appease My Jealous Wife Without Giving Up My New Friend?

Still, it makes sense that your wife is getting all green monster-y. Human emotions, including jealousy, are a tool chest for solving the mating and survival problems that have kept popping up throughout human history. Jealousy is a guard-dog emotion, rising up automatically when we sense that our partnership might be threatened. Research by evolutionary psychologist David Buss finds that our jealousy, in turn, triggers mate-retention behaviors, such as going around all hangdog mopeypants to try to guilt our partner into spending less time with their sparkly new friend. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 3, 2019

When the universe began 13.8 billion years ago, there were only four elements: mostly hydrogen and helium, plus tiny amounts of lithium and beryllium. Now there are 118 elements, including five that are key components of your body: oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus. All of those were created by nuclear reactions blazing on the insides of stars that later died. So it's literally true to say that much of your flesh and blood and bones and nerves originated at the hearts of stars. I invite you to meditate on that amazing fact. It's a favorable time to muse on your origins and your ancestry, to ruminate about all the events that led to you being here today--including more recent decades, as well as the past 13.8 billion years. » Read More

Ultimate Play

On a bright and sunny afternoon in mid-May, several thousand teal-clad sports fans swarmed the SAP Center in downtown San Jose for a rambunctious outdoor rally before Game 7 of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs between the Sharks and the Colorado Avalanche. As game time approached, thousands more descended on the "Shark Tank," and millions more around the Bay Area and across North America watched the game from home. Three days later, at Foothill College in Los Altos, the San Jose Spiders hosted the Seattle Cascades in a regular-season game of the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). It was an exciting back-and-forth match-up eventually won by the hometown Spiders 24-19. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Native San Joseans Play Harmonious Homage to Their Hometown

Last week, a dazzling matrix of native San Joseans wrote songs, played music in the streets or threw together musical events over a span of two days, part of which constituted San Jose's contribution to the annual Make Music Day Friday. With such a wide variety of music emanating from people born and raised in San Jose, the anti-man-about-town came away a little less anti. On Thursday, San Jose native Jackie Gage officially released the song she wrote for San Jose last year, the one she debuted to serious acclaim at the 2018 San Jose Jazz Summerfest. Last year, she sold out Cafe Stritch and filmed a video with several local personalities included. Titled "A Secret Place," the song is an authentic piece of poetry, one that clearly » Read More

Advice Goddess: Why Do Men Do This?

Understanding all of this, you should probably go easy on yourself for being a bit of a slow learner on the "fool me twice" thing. If this guy was also putting one over on himself in these phone conversations, that probably made it much more believable to you. Mark him as emotionally toxic and come up with a plan in case he calls again. Options include blocking his number, not picking up or figuring out how to control the conversation if he veers off into Sweetnothingsville. On a positive note, it does seem he's accidentally telling the truth in one area: You do seem to be the woman of his dreams, as you always vanish from his consciousness as soon as he wakes up. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 26, 2019

Here are your fortune cookie-style horoscopes for the months ahead. JULY: Discipline your inner flame. Use your radiance constructively. Your theme is controlled fire. AUGUST: Release yourself from dwelling on what's amiss or off-kilter. Find the inspiration to focus on what's right and good. SEPTEMBER: Pay your dues with joy and gratitude. Work hard in service to your beautiful dreams. OCTOBER: You can undo your attractions to "gratifications" that aren't really very gratifying. NOVEMBER: Your allies can become even better allies. Ask them for more. DECEMBER: Be alert for unrecognized value and hidden resources. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Are We Romantically Attracted to Partners Who Look Like Us?

You can kinda see the merits of dating your doppelganger: "I'm looking for myself, but as someone else so I don't always have to empty the dishwasher and scream out my own name in bed." There is this notion that opposites attract. Actually, the opposite often seems to be the case. According to research on "assortative mating," people tend to pair up with partners who are physically similar to them more often than would be expected through random chance. To explore how much matchiness is appealing to us, social-personality psychologists R. Chris Fraley and Michael J. Marks used a computer to blend each research participant's face into the face of a stranger of the opposite sex. They did this to increasing degrees, morphing from zero up to » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 12, 2019

Orfield Laboratories is an architectural company that designs rooms for ultimate comfort. They sculpt the acoustic environment so that sounds are soft, clear and pleasant to the human ear. They ensure that the temperature is just right and the air quality is always fresh. At night the artificial light is gentle on the eyes, and by day the sunlight is rejuvenating. In the coming weeks, I'd love for you to be in places like this on a regular basis. According to my analysis of the astrological rhythms, it's recharging time for you. You need and deserve an abundance of cozy relaxation. » Read More

Frost in the Summer

A little after 2pm on Oct. 10, 1982, Bill Graham took to the stage at Stanford's Frost Amphitheater. Standing before nearly 10,000 people, the legendary Bay Area music promoter had a few housekeeping items to address. "They never used to let anyone right in the front," Graham can be heard saying on a recording of the night. "But you're a different species, and we've convinced them that you can take care of the steps here. Be careful as you're boogieing about." The second item: "Over the years we've had problems here of people climbing up the trees," he says, before adding, diplomatically, "We don't want any accidents." The Haight Ashbury Clinic is in the corner there. Watch what you eat, watch what you drink, have a good time." Within a » Read More

Silicon Alleys: San Jose, Okayama Celebrate Six Decades as Sister Cities

Tucked away behind the San Jose Center for Performing Arts, right at the edge of the Guadalupe River, the Peach Boy remains somewhat hidden underneath the bushes. The statue of Momotaro, a hero of Japanese folklore, was gifted to San Jose by the city of Okayama in 1993. Upon a recent visit, the statue was cluttered with a few cobwebs, but it still retained an austere mythological status. Just as the statue is off the radar for most people, so are the myriad activities of San Jose Okayama Sister Cities (SJOSC), a local non-profit group of volunteers. At any given time, SJOSC orchestrates a matrix of initiatives to enhance human connections between the two cities. In particular, last year five high school kids from San Jose traveled to » Read More

Advice Goddess: Is This a 'Woman' Thing?

Sexual disgust leads a person to feel creeped out about having sex with evolutionarily disadvantageous partners (too old, too closely related or sporting a big pustule that screams STD.) Moral disgust leads us to be all "Oh, yuck!" about people who violate moral standards. And finally, there's the pathogen disgust your girlfriend's expressing, which protects us from bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxins by making us beat a retreat from sick people, dead bodies, spoiled food, and bodily fluids like mucus, spit and poo. Evolutionary psychologist Laith Al-Shawaf and his colleagues call women's greater disgust sensitivity "puzzling in light of their well-documented immunological superiority." Though we think of women as more physically » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 12, 2019

We may not have to travel to other planets to find alien life. Instead of launching expensive missions to other planets, we could look for exotic creatures here on earth. Astrobiologist Mary Beth Wilhelm is doing just that. Her search has taken her to Chile's Atacama Desert, whose terrain has resemblances to Mars. She's looking for organisms like those that might have once thrived on the Red Planet. In accordance with astrological omens, I invite you to use this idea as a metaphor for your own life. Consider the possibility that you've been looking far and wide for an answer or resource that is actually close at hand. » Read More

Bars & Clubs 2019

These days drinking is about more than tying one on, cutting loose on the dance floor or whooping and hollering for the local team. Today's barkeeps use power tools to cut crystal clear cubes out of massive blocks of ice and source obscure liqueurs from Iceland in an effort to delight and surprise customers. In the craft beer world there is a veritable arms race going on, as brewers seek to resurrect long-lost strains of yeast and use computers to dial in their hoppy concoctions. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Reflecting on the Anniversary of Anthony Bourdain's Untimely Death

One year ago this Saturday, we were dining on a tiny island near Grado, Italy, when we heard the news that Anthony Bourdain had passed away. It happened all of a sudden. At the northern fringe of the Adriatic Sea, we had sailed up to a petite forested island in a small skipper boat just after lunchtime on June 8 to visit Fiuri de Tapo, an outdoor seafood restaurant. Nothing else was on the island except the restaurant and the proprietor's house, all reachable by sailing through a lagoon from the touristy hotspot of Grado, an island community two miles away. Fiuri de Tapo translates to "Flowers of Cork," after a lavender flower that blooms all over these scattered islands. » Read More

Advice Goddess: I Want to Prove I've Changed

This view he has of you is likely to have some serious staying power. That's because our brain is big on automatic processes, forming and storing what I call "thinkpacks" so we don't have to put cognitive energy into things we've already figured out. For example, say you do something for the first time, like opening a weird latch on a cupboard. Each time you do it again, the more automatic--that is, the more unthinking--it becomes. Believing works similarly. Once we form a belief, we tend to just go with it automatically. Questioning a belief, on the other hand, takes mental effort. Not surprisingly, research by social psychologist Lee Ross, among others, finds that we're prone to taking the mentally easy way out, succumbing to » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 5, 2019

"I don't think we were ever meant to hear the same song sung exactly the same way more than once in a lifetime," says poet Linh Dinh. That's an extreme statement that I can't agree with. But I understand what he's driving at. Repeating yourself can be debilitating, even deadening. That includes trying to draw inspiration from the same old sources that have worked for you in the past. In accordance with current astrological omens, I suggest you try to minimize exact repetition in the next two weeks, both in what you express and what you absorb. For further motivation, here's William S. Burroughs: "Truth may appear only once; it may not be repeatable." » Read More

Seeing Is Believing

The video went viral shortly after Pelosi said that Donald Trump's family should stage an intervention with the president "for the good of the country." The faked video surfaced on Facebook, where it was viewed more than 2 million times within a few hours. It was also shared by Trump lawyer and apologist Rudy Guiliani with a caption (since deleted) that read: "omg, is she drunk or having a stroke?" followed by "She's drunk!!!" The incident called to mind an even cruder video dust-up in 2018 involving footage of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, manipulated to give the impression that he had behaved aggressively against a White House intern at a press conference. The deceptive clip was actually released by press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: San Jose Poetry Slam Finds Its Dive Bar Soulmate

The recent past of the San Jose Poetry Slam is one of endless struggles to find a long-term home. The slam spent a few years migrating from nightclub to nightclub, just trying to get one slot a month, usually on an off night, but couldn't secure a long-term commitment from any one particular venue. A few years ago, the slam found what looked like a perfect spot--Monday nights once a month in the Pilsner Room behind Gordon Biersch. Then GB closed down, leaving the slam without a venue. Cafe Stritch then filled in the gap, allowing the slam to unfold on Sundays once a month. Then due to unforeseen circumstances, Stritch closed on Sundays, leaving the slam homeless yet again. » Read More

Advice Goddess: How Come She Doesn't Follow Her Own Advice?

Accordingly, Biegler and Kennair found that moms and sisters wanted hunks for themselves but would steer their daughter or sibling to the stable guy with resources. Granted, this probably isn't a conscious move on their part--all "gotta make her believe the rich troll is her soulmate." However, you should be conscious when seeking advice from your family members about a guy that there could be mildly nefarious ulterior motives at play. Sure, your sister wants the best for you—the best Ugly Dave you can get who owns hotels and a plane, so she can take free luxury vacations with the recently paroled soulless hunks of the world. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 29, 2019

In the coming weeks it will make good sense for you to travel down winding paths replete with interesting twists and provocative turns. The zigzags you'll be inspired to pursue won't be inconvenient or inefficient, but rather will be instrumental in obtaining the healing you need. To honor and celebrate this oddly lucky phase, I'll quote parts of "Flying Crooked," a poem by Robert Graves. "The butterfly will never master the art of flying straight, yet has a just sense of how not to fly: He lurches here and here by guess and God and hope and hopelessness. Even the acrobatic swift has not his flying-crooked gift." » Read More

Summer Guide 2019

For the past week, Silicon Valley has been hammered with unseasonably wet weather and chilly temperatures, even lightning. But the region's live music venues, theater troupes, museums and tireless creatives are putting off more than enough heat to remind us that we are approaching what promises to be an exciting--and entertaining--summer. In addition to concerts from classic rock heroes, such as Carlos Santana, the Doobie Brothers and Paul McCartney, the South Bay will also host performances by the legendary hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan and alternative heroes, such as Beck, The Smashing Pumpkins and Alanis Morissette. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Quakes Player Becomes League's Top Scorer as Team Alum Enter Hall of Fame

Last Saturday, multiple generations of San Jose Earthquakes players, fans and alumni got to witness American soccer history as Danville native Chris Wondolowski shattered the league's all-time goal-scoring record on a rain-soaked day at Avaya Stadium. Former Quake Landon Donovan held the previous league record of 145, which had stood since 2014. Wondolowski, 36, started the match with 144 career goals, only needing one more to match Donovan's effort, yet he scored four, lifting the Quakes to a 4-1 victory over a dismal Chicago side. After the triumph, several congratulatory video messages were piped over the wire, including footage from Giants legend Barry Bonds, the Sharks' Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski, as well as US Women's World Cup » Read More

Advice Goddess: Tall Girl Problems

Making matters worse, our fight-or-flight system reflexively reacts to verbal attacks in the same adrenalized way it does to physical attacks. So, angry directness from you is likely to provoke a rudester into amping up the ugly--turning around and deeming you rude, wrong, and "Wow...testy!" for your response. Ultimately, using over-the-top humor, delivered flatly, allows you to restructure the power balance, shifting yourself out of the victim position. You're clearly informing the person they've crossed a line, with minimal aggression on your part. This is important because, as a tall girl, your energy is best put to more productive ends--folding yourself up like origami to fly in coach and fighting the Statue of Liberty for the » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 22, 2019

What standards might we use in evaluating levels of sexual satisfaction? One cruclal measure is the tenderness and respect that partners have for each other. Others include the ability to play and have fun, the freedom to express oneself uninhibitedly, the creative attention devoted to unpredictable foreplay, and the ability to experience fulfilling orgasms. How do you rate your own levels, Taurus? Wherever you may currently fall on the scale, the coming months will be a time when you can accomplish an upgrade. How? Read authors who specialize in the erotic arts. Talk to your partners with increased boldness and clarity. While meditating, search for clues in the depths. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Circle-A's New Cafe Isn't Just Skating By

The song "Black Juju" by Alice Cooper is blasting at 8am. A cocktail-style table sits in the center of the room, constructed with a circular piece of glass atop some tires from a 1963 Belvedere. I am in the corner drinking a cup of English breakfast from Satori Tea Company. Artwork created with skateboard decks surrounds me. There are no hipsters anywhere. I'm not describing my apartment. This is the newly revamped Circa-A Skate Shop, operated by Bob Schmelzer in downtown San Jose, a swirling-glass retail space across from Hammer Theatre, a business approaching 22 years, making it one of the oldest continuously operating retail establishments in all of downtown. People already come here to get trucks and wheels installed on boards all day » Read More

Advice Goddess: He Loves Me More Than I Love Him

And even if a woman is a staunch feminist, all "I don't care who the earner in the relationship is," the psychological operating system driving us right now is adapted for ancestral times and the problems that arose then. So it just keeps on keepin' on, pushing a woman to go for men who can "provide," even when she's on the birth controlliest birth control (like a copper IUD). In other words, you are not getting the long end of the stick here, financially or commitment-wise, and evolution has programmed you to be nagged by feelbad emotions until you do something to change that. Your boyfriend, meanwhile, surely has some feelbad of his own. Because men coevolved with women, male psychology leads men to anticipate that female romantic » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 15, 2019

According to humorist Dave Barry, "The method of learning Japanese recommended by experts is to be born as a Japanese baby and raised by a Japanese family, in Japan." As you enter an intensely educational phase of your astrological cycle, I suggest you adopt a similar strategy toward learning new skills and mastering unfamiliar knowledge and absorbing fresh information. Immerse yourself in environments that will efficiently and effectively fill you with the teachings you need. A more casual, slapdash approach just won't enable you to take thorough advantage of your current opportunities to expand your repertoire. » Read More

Hit Me Baby, One More Time

Three levels into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, the evil samurai Shredder makes his first appearance. "My patience is wearing thin," the caped super villain announces from within a sewer. "I'm banishing you to a timewarp from which you'll never return." The next instant, the dreaded Shredder emits a pattern of concentric circles from his forehead, forming a net around the Turtles. An aperture opens in the sky. Sucked in, our heroic reptiles are cast back through time, diverting them from their goal of defeating the evil brain Krang and returning the Statue of Liberty to its rightful place in New York Harbor. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Japanese Pop Composer Bests Bacharach's Tune

As part of the city of San Jose's Creative License Ambassador program, Maestra Barbara Day Turner of the San Jose Chamber Orchestra isSilicon Alleys: Japanese Pop Composer Bests Bacharach's Tune a concert of original 60-second songs about San Jose, written by community members, all to be performed at City Hall on June 21. Anyone can write a song and submit it for consideration. As part of the performances, in addition to the one-minute songs, there will be audience participation and other community crowd-sourced composition projects right there and then. » Read More

Advice Goddess: It Still Feels Like 'Our Place,' and It's Hard to Move On

In other words, your friend is on to something, and you might use this to get her onto another thing: a ladder in your living room. I suggest a painting ritual: painting over your old life (in stylin' new hues, of course) to transform the house you shared with your ex into a colorful new home of your own. Per the research on ritual, ceremony would be an essential part of this, including explicitly calling what you're doing a "ritual" and saying a few words, the way you would at a funeral. Incorporate a ceremonial tearing-up of a photo of the two of you together, and have your friends chant, "Out, out, Steve! You are no longer welcome here!" Then have everybody accompany you to toss the pieces into the dumpster. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 8, 2019

Time to shake things up! In the next three weeks, I invite you to try at least three of the following experiments. 1. See unusual sights in familiar situations. 2. Seek out new music that both calms and excites you. 3. Get an inspiring statue or image of a favorite deity or hero. 4. Ask for a message from the person you will be three years from now. 5. Use your hands and tongue in ways you don't usually use them. 6. Go in quest of a cathartic release that purges frustration and rouses holy passion. 7. Locate the sweet spot where deep feeling and deep thinking overlap. » Read More

Digital Artifacts

I don't know why exactly, but I've always been a collector. My first memories are filled with scenes of me picking up rocks and keeping them in a box to look over later, or sifting through my parent's change to find old coins to keep (I still have a penny from 1896). Once I got into comic books at 8, I found a hobby that let my imagination soar. I collected several thousand comics from Spider-Man to Swamp Thing, lovingly placing each book in a plastic sleeve to protect it. But comic books soon got expensive, old pennies stopped turning up, and the rocks found their way back to the fields where they belonged. I was a collector in need of an obsession. In 2007, I found what I was looking for: a dead media format called LaserDisc. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: SJSU Takes Big Step a Metropolitan University

Last week, a gala groundbreaking hoedown for the new Interdisciplinary Science Building (ISB) at San Jose State University unfolded to serious fanfare. Clocking in at eight stories and $181 million, it is the first new academic building on campus in 30 years. They even had ice cream. The ISB will transform the status of several academic departments, offering a refreshing update from crumbling facilities and decrepit buildings left over from 50 or 60 years ago that many are forced to tolerate. In the new building, teaching, research and collaboration will converge in ways previously unseen in the old, outdated structures. » Read More

Advice Goddess: 'This is Ridiculous. Grow Up, Ladies!'

If only these two would do as a 60-year-old dude in the U.K. just did to dispute a ticket he got on his motorcycle: He invoked what The Telegraph called "the ancient right to trial by combat." Not surprisingly, local magistrates decided to stick him with a fine instead of accepting his proposal of a duel "to the death" with a motor vehicles clerk, using "samurai swords, Gurkha knives or heavy hammers." » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 1, 2019

"How prompt we are to satisfy the hunger and thirst of our bodies," wrote Henry David Thoreau. "How slow to satisfy the hunger and thirst of our souls!" Your first assignment in the coming days, Aries, is to devote yourself to quenching the hunger and thirst of your soul with the same relentless passion that you normally spend on giving your body the food and drink it craves. This could be challenging. You may be less knowledgeable about what your soul thrives on than what your body loves. So your second assignment is to do extensive research to determine what your soul needs to thrive. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Biographer Spent Decades Poring Over Beethoven's Life

Thayer would eventually become the first writer to produce a reliable biography of the irascible composer, which is why a new exhibit, The Art of Biography: Beethoven and Steinbeck, just opened in the Martin Luther King Jr., Main Library. Organized by two SJSU institutions on the library's fifth floor, the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies and the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, the exhibit celebrates Thayer's life as well as that of Steinbeck. In the latter case, a new Steinbeck biography, written by William Souder, Mad at The World: John Steinbeck and the American Century, is in the works. Souder will keynote the upcoming 2019 Steinbeck Conference at SJSU May 1 through 3. » Read More

Advice Goddess: I'd Kill Myself Before I Don a Blazer

Gino explains that a person who is seen to be deliberately violating workplace wardrobe norms sends a message that they are so powerful that they can shrug off the potential costs of not following convention. Anthropologists and zoologists call this a costly signal: a trait or behavior that's so wastefully extravagant that only the most mojo-rific people or critters could afford to display it. This suggests to observers that it's more likely to be legit and not false advertising. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 24, 2019

In the U.S., the day after Thanksgiving typically features a spectacular shopping orgy. On "Black Friday," stores sell their products at steep discounts and consumers spend their money extravagantly. But the creators of the game Cards Against Humanity have consistently satirized the tradition. In 2013, for example, they staged a Black Friday "anti-sale," for which they raised their prices. The coming weeks will be a favorable time for you to try something similar. Is it possible you're undercharging for your products and services and skills? If so, consider asking for more. Reassess your true worth and seek appropriate rewards. » Read More

Silican Valley

This Saturday marks the second fully legal 4/20 in California history. However, according to the letter of the law, smoking, vaping, sipping or eating cannabis in public remains illegal, creating a cloud of uncertainty and paranoia for those who would prefer a pre-roll over a cigarette on the patio of their favorite pub. This is certainly true in San Jose. The Capital of Silicon Valley is also the South Bay's capital for cannabis dispensaries. But when it comes to open displays of consumption, the city comes up short--especially compared to northerly neighbors, such as Oakland and San Francisco, where it is still easier to find openly advertised THC-infused activities. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: A Tramp Through Chaplin's World, From San Jose to Switzerland

In 1915, when Charlie Chaplin made his short film A Night Out, the Tramp's exploits included some footage in downtown San Jose, at the Alcantara building, the red brick structure at Post and Market streets. It wasn't Chaplin's only appearance in this neck of the woods, of course. Some 20 years later, Chaplin would also visit his good friend John Steinbeck, while the author was writing The Grapes of Wrath in Los Gatos. This means without even leaving my own neighborhoods I can walk in the Tramp's footsteps. Yet this wasn't enough. It's never enough. So, last month, it was time to "expand my outreach," as the power-networking gurus say, and go straight to the source: Chaplin's World, a museum unlike anything I've ever visited, in » Read More

Advice Goddess: Shouldn't Invitations for House Guests be a Joint Decision?

Hearing feelings instead of blame allows you to empathize with each other. (Hint: You should actively try to empathize and, in mediator lingo, validate feelings, meaning let the other person know that you get where they're coming from.) For example, in addressing this guest issue, you might've said to your wife, "I hear how important family is to you." Hearing that you understand eliminates the need for her to try to make you--meaning she can approach the conflict between you more like a loving partner than a "GOT" swordsmistress. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 17, 2019

French writer Simone de Beauvoir sent a letter to her lover, Aries author Nelson Algren. She wrote, "I like so much the way you are so greedy about life and yet so quiet, your eager greediness and your patience, and your way of not asking much of life and yet taking much because you are so human and alive that you find much in everything." I'd love to see you embody that state in the coming weeks, Aries. In my astrological opinion, you have a mandate to be both utterly relaxed and totally thrilled; both satisfied with what life brings you and skillfully avid to extract the most out of it; both at peace with what you already have and primed to grab for much more. » Read More

Bonfire of the Absurdities

The book begins with a metaphorical prologue about the fictional Palo Alto Sea Park, which cannibalizes itself overnight in a tidal wave of blood and salt water. As the sharks are loosed from their tanks, they first feed on the nearby dolphins, then on the lesser marine mammals, smaller fish and birds. The lone survivor, a one-eyed sea lion, makes it through all the carnage by sheer luck. He is celebrated by the community, named Fred and eventually made Anahata's mascot. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Poetry Festival Highlights Elemental Verse

On the campus of San Jose State University, poets and meteorologists will join together to raise awareness about the effects of climate change, via an interdisciplinary festival over several days next week. Each April, SJSU celebrates National Poetry Month and Earth Day Week by hosting the Legacy of Poetry Festival. This year, faculty scientists will participate in a symposium with poets who regularly explore issues of ecology, sustainability and climate change in their work. The theme of the festival is Water and Fire, after two of the five main elements. Both elements can either sustain life or destroy it. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Am I Crazy to Want Eye Contact When I'm Talking?

Chotpitayasunondh's research suggests that being phubbed by friends and acquaintances threatens our fundamental need for "belongingness." Other research on phubbing's effects in romantic partnerships finds (again, not surprisingly) that it erodes intimacy and makes for less-satisfying relationships and diminished personal well-being. Regarding phubbers' skewed priorities, the title of a study by communications prof James A. Roberts says it all: "My life has become a major distraction from my cell phone." » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 10, 2019

The Qing Dynasty controlled China from the mid-17th century to the early 20th century. It was the fifth biggest empire in world history. But eventually it faded, as all mighty regimes do. Revolution came in 1911, forcing the last emperor to abdicate and giving birth to the Republic of China. I'm inclined to think of your life in 2019 as having some similarities to that transition. It's the end of one era and the beginning of another; a changing of the guard and a passing of the torch. The coming weeks will be a favorable time to be very active in deciding and visualizing the empire you want next. » Read More

The Giving Machine

A tip for any aspiring tech networker or VC stalker looking to exchange business cards and make impressions at the next Silicon Valley mixer: Avoid mentioning the name Anand Giridharadas. That probably won't go well. The journalist and author has positioned himself right up there with Elizabeth Warren among names that can trigger dirty looks in the cafes of Mountain View and Palo Alto. In recent months, Giridharadas has received texts from friends in the Valley that describe fights breaking out at dinner parties at the mention of his 2018 book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Montreux Archives Hold Tens of Thousands of Hours of Music

Last week, Thierry Amsallem laughed out loud while telling numerous stories about the Montreux Jazz Festival. When he gave me a tour of the Montreux Jazz digital archives on the campus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), his laughter evoked a true passion for all things Montreux and all things music. "Montreux is a live recording studio with an audience," Amsallem said, emphasizing how the festival has regularly pioneered advances in audio and video recording technology. Claude Nobs launched the festival in 1967. Amsallem came on board 20 years later while still in grad school. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Is My Messy Place Keeping Me Single?

When a guy you're dating wants to buy you something, it shouldn't be a vacuum. That said, there's being dirty (that is, unclean) and there's being untidy, and they're two different things. In research looking at relationship deal breakers by evolutionary psychologist Peter K. Jonason and his colleagues, 63 percent of men named a "disheveled or unclean appearance" as the single biggest turnoff in a potential partner. However, it's important to note that this measure was about personal hygiene, and you apparently don't have mossy teeth or BO that sets off CDC scanners. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 3, 2019

A mushroom shaped like a horse's hoof grows on birch trees in parts of Europe and the U.S. If you strip off its outer layer, you get amadou, spongy stuff that's great for igniting fires. It's not used much anymore, but it was a crucial resource for some of our ancestors. As for the word "amadou," it's derived from an old French term that means "tinder, kindling, spunk." The same word was formerly used to refer to a person who is quick to light up or to something that stimulates liveliness. In accordance with astrological omens, I'm making "Amadou" your nickname for the next four weeks. » Read More

The Best of Silicon Valley 2019

Rising rents and wrecking balls are transforming the valley at a pace we haven't seen. As owner-operated institutions exit to make way for the latest and greatest--ramen from Tokyo, shirtings from across the Atlantic--and modest mid-century buildings give up their seats to accommodate another cluster of rectangles with big numbers on them, we can take comfort in knowing that some traditions persist. Since starting the valley's first and longest-running reader-chosen "best of" list more than a third of a century ago, Metro has provided a yearly snapshot of a dynamic region's perpetual evolution. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: SJSU Alumnus' New Opera Envisions 'Frankenstein' as Futuristic Dystopia

In Brussels last week, SJSU School of Music alumnus Mark Grey debuted his first full-length opera, a work based on Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Over six years in the making and running two hours and 40 minutes, the opera completed a nearly sold-out run of eight performances at La Monnaie, Belgium's federal opera house. Originally slotted for 2016, the production was put back a few years due to renovations of the La Monnaie building. The afternoon matinee on Sunday, March 17, felt particularly historical because three other School of Music alumni and former classmates of Grey's from the same era, but now living in three different countries, all descended upon the performance. Of course, yours truly was one » Read More

Advice Goddess: My Friends Don't Understand the Pressure on Straight, Single Women

So I do understand the desire for dermatological intervention in lieu of a little windup thingy behind your neck that you could crank to tighten the face flesh. That said, your friends probably feel they have a right (and maybe even a mandate) to tell you what to do--probably because they're trying to look out for you. The problem is, criticizing people doesn't make them want to change; it makes them want to clobber the person doing the criticizing. And this seems to be the case whether that person is giving unsolicited advice to a friend or muttering "Dude, seriously on the 24-pack of doughnuts?" to that stout stranger in the supermarket. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of March 27, 2019

Kermit the Frog from Sesame Street is the world's most famous puppet. He has recorded songs, starred in films and TV shows, and written an autobiography. His image has appeared on postage stamps and he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Kermit's beginnings were humble, however. When his creator Jim Henson first assembled him, he consisted of Henson's mom's green coat and two halves of a white ping pong ball. I mention this, Aries, because the current astrological omens suggest that you, too, could make a puppet that will one day have great influence. APRIL FOOL! I half-lied. Here's the whole truth: Now isn't a favorable time to start work on a magnificent puppet, but it is a perfect moment to launch the rough beginnings of a project » Read More

Stand Up Guy

For most of his life, Joe Sib has made his own way. The Santa Cruz native--who grew up in the Olive Springs Road outlands of Soquel before moving to San Jose in his teens--had a major-label contract with his pop-punk band Wax by his early 20s. In the mid-'90s, he co-founded SideOneDummy Records, the indie label that launched the careers of bands as diverse as Flogging Molly, the Gaslight Anthem and Gogol Bordello. In 2009, he toured a one-man show called California Calling, based on his memories of the 1980s South Bay punk-skate scene that produced Steve Caballero, Corey O'Brien and many others. Not long after, he started touring as a stand-up comedian. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Cinequest Films Give Voice to the Dispossessed

Thanks to Cinequest, the gritty underbellies of Cincinnati and Tucson took over downtown San Jose, in the forms of Emilio Estevez and Brian Jabas Smith, whose films depicted the margins of society without exploitation or judgment. First of all, a trailer opened up every Cinequest film this year, with a wise man declaring that everyone who journeys through the festival will expect the unexpected. At least for me, this is already a prime characteristic of Cinequest: The unexpected experience that emerges without any possible planning. Weird connections, either professional, artistic or just plain crazy always seem to occur. Serendipitous moments of synchronicity appear on both micro and macro levels, even in a stretch of less than 24 hours. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Should We Go to Therapy?

You're in a relationship, not a coma. That said, your worries are understandable. There's been a belief that crushing on somebody other than one's partner is the gateway to cheating. Obviously, crushy thoughts about, say, a co-worker can lead to a hookup (or more) in a way that matter-of-fact thoughts do not. However, it turns out that researchers failed to make the distinction between having a crush (an attraction to a person other than one's partner) and having a high degree of what's called "attention to alternatives" (basically, eyeballs ever on the prowl for "attractive alternatives" to one's current partner). » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of March 20, 2019

In the animated kids' film Over the Hedge, 10 talking animals come upon a massive, towering hedge they've never seen. The friendly group consists of a skunk, red squirrel, box turtle, two opossums and five porcupines. The hedge perplexes and mystifies them. It makes them nervous. There's nothing comparable to it in their previous experience. One of the porcupines says she would be less afraid of it if she just knew what it was called, whereupon the red squirrel suggests that from now on they refer to it as "Steve." After that, they all feel better. I recommend that you borrow their strategy in the coming weeks. If a Big Unknown arrives in your vicinity, dub it "Steve" or "Betty." » Read More

Blood Sport

A gaggle of photographers stands in the courtyard of downtown San Jose's federal building on a cold January day. It's clearly a bigger deal than the hacker trials or corporate battles, such as Apple v. Samsung, that unfold there and sometimes attract media attention. "Which case?" I ask. "Theranos," a paparazzo replies. A reporter spots the 35-year-old founder and former CEO in a hallway, before she ducks into a room by the exit. "She's fixing her hair," the reporter speculates. A few minutes pass and Elizabeth Holmes emerges with her attorney. She's dressed in an all-black pants suit, with hair tied back. She looks straight ahead as she takes long, purposeful strides and the cameras follow her to the crosswalk by Original Joe's. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Tandoori Fusion Grill Gets a Makeover

If the hideous beige buildings of downtown San Jose tend to bring you down, if the neighborhood's decades-old color palette of faded brown, off-white and jaundice yellow depresses you, then hire Patrick Hofmeister. Especially if you're trying to bootstrap an Indian fusion restaurant. Situated directly across from City Hall in a location formerly occupied by a seedy pho joint, Tandoori Fusion Grill opened a few years ago, but now finds itself with a brand-new matrix of resources. Hofmeister initially showed up as a customer, but soon realized he could provide additional skill sets and connections to accentuate the eatery's already intriguing culinary delights. As a result, he became business partners with owner Jagath Ranasinghe, who then » Read More

Advice Goddess: Why Can't He Figure Things Out on His Own?

Still, it isn't a surprise that you'd go, "Wait...faithful to the first one, faithful to the next one; must've been why these relationships tanked!" This leap you're making probably comes out of how uncomfortable our minds are with uncertainty. According to research by cognitive neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga, a mechanism in our brain's left hemisphere that he calls "the interpreter" steps in to fill in the blanks, to save us from the cognitive chaos by coming up with an explanation. Unfortunately, it's like the world's sloppiest detective. It quickly scans for any patterns or vaguely plausible meanings and then just goes with them, creating a narrative that seems to make sense of our experience (and never mind the tedious snore of » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of March 13, 2019

The coming weeks might be a good time to acquire a flamethrower. It would come in handy if you felt the urge to go to a beach and incinerate mementos from an ex-ally. It would also be useful if you wanted to burn stuff that reminds you of who you used to be and don't want to be any more; or if you got in the mood to set ablaze symbols of questionable ideas you used to believe in but can't afford to believe in any more. If you don't want to spend $1,600-plus on a flamethrower, just close your eyes for 10 minutes and visualize yourself performing acts of creative destruction like those I mentioned. » Read More