Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Celebrate Fall in Oakland!

There may not be as many fall festivals as summer festivals in Oakland, but there are few coming up. Given how we didn't have much of a summer, and now we're getting even warming than normal for September (which frequently has the warmest weather at the start of the month), it's a happy coincidence that several of them feature beer.

First up is Life is Living on Sunday, October 3rd. It's an arts and eco-justice festival. Although it's held in Defremery Park in West Oakland, it starts with a Red, Bike and Green bike ride from Coliseum BART. Oakland Local has a full write-up on it.

Then on Saturday, October 9th is Oaktoberfest in the Dimond. Last year's was a lot of fun, and hopefully they'll do a better job balancing tickets vs. available beer.

Finally, on Saturday, October 23rd is Brats and Beer at Linden Street Brewery, and is a fundraiser for Oakland: "All proceeds benefit BACS' Thanksgiving holiday food basket distribution, and the Oakland Rotary Community Endowment." Despite the name, they will have vegetarian options for food, too.

Oakland by race & ethnicity

Oakland by race

Ilove maps and I love Oakland, so I was happy when OaklandSeen pointed me to a map of Oakland with 2000 census data by race & ethnicity overlaid. We all know Oakland is diverse, but not equally in all parts.

I took Eric Fischer's Bay Area map from Flickr and overlaid it with the Oakland neighborhoods map to give a better sense of where things are. But even without the overlay, you can pick out some neighborhoods like Chinatown, and geographical areas like Mountain View Cemetery (where there aren't very many living people) and the regional parks.

One surprise to me was how diverse and densely populated the area just north of Lake Merritt is (Adams Point, HarriOak, Grand Lake). Click for the full-size map without the overlay.

For other interesting maps from around the U.S. and around the world, check out Bill Rankin's Radical Cartography site.

Monday, September 27, 2010

stargazing in Oakland

Sunday was another Spare the Air day, so we tried to minimize travel as much as possible. Fortunately, Chabot Space & Science Center is not far from our house, as we'd already made plans to visit there again. This trip was to hear a talk on exoplanets by Dr. Alex Filippenko, an astronomy professor at Cal. You may have seen him quoted in various astronomy articles, or on the PBS science show Nova. We found the talk extremely interesting and well-presented (he's won numerous teaching awards, including 'best professor' at Cal.)

One of the few upsides to the recent weather is that the hills weren't socked in with fog like they've been much of the summer. So after hors d'oeuvres from local favorite Italian Colors and then the talk, we got to enjoy viewing the heavens through the Chabot telescopes as well as various smaller ones belonging to volunteers. Besides a clear view of Jupiter and the Galilean moons, we got to see the Ring Nebula; a globular cluster (i.e., a big cloud of stars); and a couple of binary star pairs.

Then this morning I read about Chabot in a nice Oakland article in New York magazine. Besides Chabot and various other local favorites from the Fox Theater to Bakesale Betty's, it also mentioned local blogs The Oakbook and 38th Notes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

signs: Crown Cleaners / Liquors

Crown Cleaners/Liquors

Not the greatest sign ever, but it's got a crown for ArtSparker! And it's in honor of my recent visit to the Village. (That always sounds ominously like something from The Prisoner, which just shows what a geek I am.) It also has the distinction of being the first sign in Montclair Village to make the Our Oakland signs feature.

Monday, September 20, 2010

if a tree falls...


I'm pretty sure this one made a sound. If no one else, this friendly squirrel doubtless heard it. He or she probably smelled the bag of cat food on the back of my bike, and kept running up to me looking for a handout while I was taking pictures. I had just started riding up the trail behind the village when a woman coming the other way warned my about the tree. So of course I went to have a closer look.


Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve

After getting home and watching some football, K and I walked up to Huckleberry. The weather was overcast, with a chance of rain in the forecast, but nothing too heavy expected. We love the park, regardless of the weather. Under overcast skies, the light is softer and you can see the undergrowth more easily. While I walked, K ran out the trail a couple of times. On the way back, a light drizzle turned into a heavier drizzle.

Sorry for the low quality of the pictures. I only had the cellphone with me, and it doesn't do well in low light situations.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

quiet morning in the village

skateboard ramp

Idropped K off at BART this morning, and I didn't have to be anywhere in particular so I spent some time in Montclair Village.

First to the bank. It feels like every other store front in the Village is now a bank or real estate-related office. It's not actually that bad, but a new bank will be moving in to the space vacated by Blockbuster Video. It was initially opposed by the merchant's association, but they recently voted to rescind their opposition. I'd rather it was something than a bank, but I'll be much happier with a bank than with the empty storefront that's there now.

Then it was over to Peet's for some more coffee beans, saying hello to my barber who was out enjoying the morning sunshine.

While I sipped my cup of coffee, I browsed my favorite (and local) Oakland book store, A Great Good Place for Books. Not that I'm running short of things to read, but they convinced me to purchase a book while I was there.

Finally it was back to car via the park. A skateboard ramp that has graced the park for the last couple of months was getting a paint job. I talked briefly with one of the volunteers who built it, and someone from CCAC (sorry, old habits...CCA) is going to paint a mural on the side.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

signs: Kwik Way

Kwik Way

Closed for the last several years, the Kwik Way may go back to the future and be re-opened as a new restaurant by Somerset Restaurant owner Gary Rizzo. Let's hope so -- while it has an iconic sign, the building is starting to get run down.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. And another day I wished I'd had a camera attached to my bike helmet or something, to capture some of the scenes as I rode to work via Fruitvale BART and back: younger siblings coming back with mom after dropping off a child at school; a line of people at a bus stop facing away from the street to shade their cellphones; a group of older men on the balcony of a house or apartment just watching the world go by.

For a little variety I meandered my way back from Fruitvale BART, and rode back past the Central Reservoir and various neighborhoods I hadn't seen before. No new signs as they were primarily residential, but I enjoyed seeing them nonetheless.