In case you need something to wake you up on this foggy Monday afternoon

I found this video last week and was just going to link to it but after Vanessa’s comment, I decided to delve deeper on the subject. V nailed it on the head calling the video “fried barf on a stick,” and then she pointed out several of the ways in which it’s backwards..ridiculously backwards:

Those actresses make light of the years that women labored to be perceived as equals among men. The new product was not equivalent of the Wii. It was substitute for second-class citizens with games that reinforced subservient behavior patterns

All I can say is I’m glad this commercial isn’t in English. It’s offensive enough visually. Putting the lame ass gender norms aside, I think the video employs humor in a really interesting way. The ad is clearly trying to be funny. We get this sense right off the bat with the portly dudes and their annoyed female companions. The viewer is supposed to identify with this scenario: the guys are trying to have fun and the gals kill their buzz. Whichever side you identify–or don’t identify–with, we can probably all agree that this is a culturally familiar narrative.

The Wii turns the guys into buffoons, but then we realize that the women too are subject to buffoonery as the Shii intoxicates them with an innate urge for all things domestic. The women go cra-zy! The men love it. We weren’t expecting this…it’s sooo FUNNY! Then, in the last moments the women start sucking mechanical dick. All hell breaks loose and it’s hard to not gasp–and let out a little chuckle– at the absurdity. I know European ads tend to be much more unbridled then those in America, but still, this is pretty risqué.

Humor is a powerful tool. That’s really my point. When we laugh, we let the feeling take us over and forget to think. Just for a little bit. Sometimes, this isn’t such a big deal. But, a lot of the time, humor is an artificial treatment we coat over a more serious topic that we’d rather not deal with. Political jokes, racist jokes, anti queer jokes, blond jokes, Jew jokes, dead baby jokes.

It’s troubling to see commercials like this because they invite viewers to laugh off thousands of years of systemic subjugation as if “we’re so over it.” With all of the keeled over laughing, the danger is you’ll forget to think.

Come to Denmark. You might just get lucky.

Visit Denmark for its castles, Viking heritage, the Tivoli garden, Legoland, its offensive cartoons about Muslims and…its loose women.  I probably had you until the last one, but it’s true:  A Danish tourism agency is officially promoting the country with claims of sexy, blond single women who will have unprotected sex with you. If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself.

0xKaren26 – Karen in Denmark seeking August\’s father – (2009) (Denmark)‘ >div>

But watch out! When you take off the next morning without leaving your phone number and apparently your name, you’ll have no way of knowing if you knocked her up. Even so, you won’t have to worry because over a year later she’ll contact you with your adorable infant son sucking down a bottle in her arms. Email her, if you want, but she’s not asking anything of you. Karen, the beautiful blond, makes it clear that she’s no bimbo and she’s certainly no ho.

For any one who might actually believe Karen’s story, please, don’t be fooled. As it turns out, Karen is an actress who’s appeared here and here in other commercials.

Karen’s home video confessional went bananas on the net. “It is the most successful viral advertising ever. We have cut through the media clutter. It has cost us the same as a 30 second commercial, aired a few times on TV2” according to Peter Helstrup from the advertising agency that created the campaign.

When asked why the they decided on this promotion route, the CEO of VisitDenmark said the video was “good exposure for Danish self-sufficient and dignified women.”

The Karen video caught a second wind this week after the story went viral in Denmark several months ago. U.S. readers had a field day with comments. Person favorites include: “I wonder if she wants more kids?,” “THIS is why the TSA is trying to keep us from flying!” and “Why isn’t she breastfeeding? It is very irresponsible of them to promote formula.”

If not “come to our country, knock up our women and then leave,” then what is the Danish tourist board’s implication? Maybe their justification is that the economy has gone to shit so it’s time to pimp out their women for the sake of the homeland. Or perhaps something is culturally lost in translation.  As’s “Dabitch” puts so well, “Come to in Denmark.”

Local friction could halt High-Speed Rail progress

Atherton and Menlo Park subsection of the proposed high-speed rail line

Atherton and Menlo Park subsection of the proposed high-speed rail line

SAN CARLOS – Tensions flared at a California High-Speed Rail Authority meeting on Sept. 20 during discussion about a proposal to use the Caltrain corridor for the track line north of San Jose. Stakeholders met to discuss design alternatives for the Peninsula section of the $45 billion rail project that will travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two and a half hours.

Duncan Jones, Director of Public Works in Atherton, one of the communities that joined Menlo Park and a band of environmental organizations last summer to sue California High-Speed Rail Authority, spoke out against the proposed plan. He criticized the Authority for not considering alternatives to using Caltrain tracks for the rail section north of San Jose.

Jones said the Authority had failed to explain why the rail couldn’t go up Highways 280 or 101 and avoid the neighborhoods. “It’s easy for the Authority to just say no and go with the Caltrain corridor,” he said, “but I want a real study done to clarify why [these alternatives] won’t work.”

Residents of Menlo Park and Atherton are among three south Bay Area cities concerned over raised tracks bifurcating their communities without the benefit of a stop.

Instead they favor tunneled tracks or a route along highway corridors. A video simulation of high-speed rail in Palo Alto played at the meeting, showed tracks four lanes wide and elevated 21 feet above street crossing through the city.

For planning purposes, the line from San Francisco to San Jose was broken down into ten subsections for residents and those involved with the project to view each section of the rail. The 2.3 mile design snapshot for Atherton and Menlo Park include options for raised, trenched or existing Caltrain level tracks.

Under all these designs, two-lane street crossings would serve residential areas at Fair Oaks, Watkins, Encinal, Glenwood, Oak Grove and Ravenswood Avenues.

The group that sued the Authority has looked into the possibility of tunneling sections of the rail running through their communities, but overall they disagree with the actual route of the design options set forth at this meeting.

Last summer, Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny upheld the Caltrain corridor as the train’s route from San Francisco to San Jose, but ruled that the Authority re-evaluate its route from San Jose to Gilroy. In a past draft of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the Authority mistakenly assumed it could use Union Pacific tracks from San Jose to Gilroy.
The Authority is correcting this error in the EIR but does not plan to reconsider its route from San Jose to Gilroy since the track rights north of there have already been secured with Caltrain.

Jones wants the Authority to open up other aspects of the lawsuit and reconsider the entire San Francisco to San Jose corridor. The group that filed the lawsuit against the Authority also wants Altamont Pass re-evaluated as a route from the Central Valley. By reopening these options, Jones hopes the Authority will find a route with less impact on Atherton and Menlo Park.

Authority representatives said the meeting wasn’t the appropriate place to bring up this concern because Judge Kenny had already accepted the use of Caltrain tracks and the route from the Central Valley over to the Peninsula. However, Kenny did rule that the environmental review’s mistake about Union Pacific track rights meant the Authority needed to do more studies before proposing a revised EIR.

Jones’ discussion about unearthing “already settled” issues, detracts from the consensus needed to make the Peninsula competitive with the rest of California for high-speed rail funding, some said at the meeting.

With Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s steps last week to sweep up $4.7 billion of the $8 billion in federal stimulus funding for high-speed rail, grant money may become more readily available to communities with final plans. Without all Bay Area communities on board, it may be hard for the region to compete with the rest of California for the money
In mid September a court rejected the plaintiff’s wish to halt work on the high-speed rail project. On Oct. 9 involved parties will present their arguments to Judge Kenny, who will issue a judgment on whether or not the high-speed rail project can move forward.

Caltrain Operations Manager Bob Doty said the Peninsula shouldn’t loose momentum on this project now. “We need to work together for a solution so we can go out with a united picture or you’re going to get default solutions. The last guy in gets what’s left over. I want to be early.” He pointed out that the Central Valley and Southern California are already pushing ahead with plans.

Telling a tale

Published in Palo Alto Weekly, Februaru 25, 2009

The Jade Empress, wearing a sea-green headdress and holding an oversized fan, is about to take her place on stage. She has 22 lines, which she doesn’t think she’ll forget.

It’s the Tuesday dress-rehearsal of Ohlone Elementary School’s production of “The Monkey King.” The young actor is playing the same role her brother played a few years ago, but this year the show is a little different.

Parents still buzz around applying make-up, and Ohlone students work the light-system control board as they have in years’ past. But this year, the production is marking the first year of Ohlone’s once-controversial Mandarin Immersion program.

Ohlone has performed “The Monkey King” twice before, but Principal Susan Charles thought that mounting the Chinese fable this year would be a good way to welcome the new language-immersion program. Students will sing in Mandarin as part of the play’s opening number, amidst a vibrant cast garbed in traditional Chinese dress, intricate masks and headdresses. Fans and lanterns will decorate the colorful set.

On Tuesday, Otak Jump, an Ohlone teacher and the play’s director, stood among dozens of kneeling youngsters. In his pep talk, Jump encouraged his actors to play with the story.

“Even more than you play with it, let your character play with you, every moment you’re on stage,” he said.

“If you’re a monkey, be a monkey; if you’re a fairy, be a fairy; if you’re a spider, be a spider,” he said, transforming his body into each character he described. “A character never forgets its lines.”

The Ohlone students grinned and nodded their heads.

Jump adapted a classical Chinese “Journey to the West” tale and is directing 110 young actors, who form two casts.

The story was originally written about 400 years ago during the Ming dynasty, and with the addition of the pivotal role of Monkey, the allegory took on a supernatural element. The Monkey King is to East Asia what Mickey Mouse and Superman are to the West.

“Monkey King beats it by half in Asia. Everyone knows Monkey King,” Jump said. “He is a superhero; he can fly on a cloud. Monkey is impervious to being injured.”

Jump’s re-write of “The Monkey King” includes allegorical episodes telling of when Monkey is born, when he becomes the guardian of the immortal peaches, when he goes up to heaven and when he steals the clothes of seven spider spirits.

“When we did ‘The Monkey King’ before we never sang in Mandarin, but now we have a Mandarin class,” Charles said.

The immersion program has 40 kindergarten and first-graders, one-third of whom come from Mandarin-speaking families. Eighty percent of the school week, the children are taught in Mandarin and the other 20 percent in English.

“We’re taking the Immersion program and blending it in the Ohlone developmental model of teaching. It’s quite a stretch, but it’s a stretch I think we can do it,” said Charles, who added that the students are doing well.

“The Monkey King” will be performed on Thursday (school-only performance at 1 p.m.), Friday (school performance at 1 p.m. and public performance at 7 p.m.) and Saturday (public performances at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m) at Ohlone Elementary School’s multipurpose room, 950 Amarillo Ave., Palo Alto.

Out of the mud, a bike passage could rise

Published in Palo Alto Weekly, March 6, 2009

Six months of muck, water and mud flooding of a popular bicycle route under U.S. Highway 101 in Palo Alto could become a thing of the past.

The crossing, which is adjacent to Adobe Creek at Fabian Way in south Palo Alto, is closed to bike and foot traffic from November to March, forcing residents to use an over-crossing at Oregon Avenue, north of Oregon Expressway, or navigate freeway off-ramps at San Antonio Road.

But a proposal by the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, based on the Palo Alto Bicycle Transportation Plan could open the Adobe Park under-crossing year-round.

Commissioners, interested in improving the route as a gateway to the Baylands, met with the Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee on Feb. 3 to garner bicycle commissioners’ support. The parks commission has assembled a subcommittee to draft various options for the Adobe Creek crossing, according to Cedric de La Beaujardiere, bicycle committee chairman.

Residents of the nearby Greenmeadow neighborhood have already met with the city officials regarding the under-crossing, which residents want, de La Beaujardiere said.

The current state of the under-crossing is at odds with the city’s goal to bike, walk and roll. With the Adobe Creek passage closed half of the year many people revert to driving as their primary means of transportation during the off months. The bicycle committee hopes that a year-long crossing will foster more bicycling and walking in the community, he said.

“Because (the Adobe passage is) currently closed half the year, the alternative for bicyclists is either going on San Antonio — which a lot of people will ride once and then never ride again because it’s not suited for riders going out to the Baylands” — or “alternatively, bikers can go to Embarcadero Road and Oregon Expressway, which is 1.5 miles away,” he said.

The bicycle advisory committee will ask the city to start a feasibility study to determine options for the crossing, including whether it should be an under-crossing, over-crossing or how much it would cost, he said.

The Adobe Creek passage has no known opposition and funds are available to see the project come to fruition, according to de La Beaujardiere.

“There have been some good suggestions that putting it within the city’s CIP (Capital Improvement Program) … will gather more money,” he said.

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) has a bicycle-expenditure program designed to help fund projects within the county, de La Beaujardiere said. VTA will match four times the money Palo Alto raises for the project, he said.

The estimated cost for an initial feasibility study is between $50,000 and $100,000, which can hopefully be met with grants from various sources in Palo Alto, City Transportation Manager Gail Likens said. The engineering study will figure out the exact price tag of the Adobe crossing project, but current estimates put it between $5 million and $8 million, she said

Foods that say 'I love you'

Published in Palo Alto Weekly, February 13, 2009

Whether a health nut or a junk-food fiend, in the salty camp or prefer the savory, everyone has different ways of qualifying the foods that are comforting.

Here are a few comfort foods that will undoubtedly warm the soul and say “I love you” loud and clear.

Think outside the box

Generally thought of as a boxed meal for kids, old-fashioned home-style recipes for Macaroni & Cheese are tough to find. Many of the recipes yield overly fussy, epicurean dishes or macaroni drenched in chalky white sauce.

Mac & Cheese remains an American staple but takes on a more sophisticated edge at MacArthur Park Restaurant in Palo Alto, where the dish is a favorite side order for restaurant goers.

MacArthur Park’s chef Faz Poursohi handed over the restaurant’s recipe for this American comfort food: cheesy, crispy and well-seasoned Mac & Cheese.

Macaroni & Cheese

4 cups elbow macaroni

3 T. butter

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole milk

8 oz. dry aged Cheddar cheese

4 oz. grated Cheddar cheese

1 t. dry mustard

1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs

Kosher salt & white pepper (to taste)

Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until done, about 5-7 minutes. Drain and toss with 2 tablespoons of butter; set aside.

Heat the oven to 350�F.

Coat a large baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter and set it aside. Put the heavy cream, whole milk and dry mustard into a saucepan. Warm over medium low heat, but don’t boil it. Remove pan from the heat, and add the dry aged cheddar and the grated cheddar cheese; stir until it is melted and smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Pour this over the macaroni and mix until well blended; put this into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the fresh bread crumbs evenly over the top. Bake until the top is golden and crusty, about 25-30 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.

Say it with soup

Bikur Cholim — the Jewish custom of visiting the sick — is the basis for Stanford’s student-run group that delivers warm bowls of matzah ball soup to students feeling under the weather.

For three years, the Matzah Ball Brigade has received e-mails and Facebook messages from students requesting matzah ball soup for themselves or for sick close friends, whipped up batches of soup, delivered it to the sick students and attempted to bring good cheer to make the student feel better.

Yishai Kabaker was president of the group last year and said one of his most memorable deliveries was during finals week of winter quarter when in one night he received eight requests for soup.

“I biked all around campus careful not to spill the jumbling Tupperware of soup in the double paper bags dangling from my handlebars,” Kabaker remembered. “After a hectic evening zipping around campus, I got a lot of nachas (Yiddish pride) knowing that I had helped out students during the high season of finals stress.

Kabaker said the Brigade turns to an easy and on-the-go recipe from sites such as for its soup delivery service.

Matzah Ball Soup

1 32-oz. carton of boxed chicken stock

2 eggs

1 T. vegetable oil

1/4 cup sparkling water

2/3 cup matzo meal

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

More oil for your hands

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, oil and sparkling water and whisk until combined. Add the matzo meal, salt and pepper and stir until smooth. Cover bowl and refrigerate mixture for half an hour so the matzo meal absorbs the liquid. The mixture will become more firm as it chills.

Bring chicken stock to a simmer. Lightly oil your hands. Scoop out a golf ball-sized lump of matzo ball dough and roll it in your hands to form a smooth ball. Gently drop into the simmering stock. Repeat with remaining dough, making 8-10 matzo balls. Cover the pan and simmer until done.

You can vary the size depending on your taste. The larger balls (6-8 per batch) will cook in about 30 minutes, while the smaller balls (12-14 per batch) take about 15-20 minutes to cook. The matzo balls are done when cooked through, light and spongy.

Place a few matzo balls in each soup dish then gently top with the soup.

Let them eat cake

Prolific food writer and Palo Alto local Lou Seibert Pappas shares a recipe for chocolate cake, a definitive comfort food. This is a classic dessert served at restaurants and thanks to Pappas you can make it at home as a special treat for after Valentine’s Day dinner.

These individual cakes are meant to have a slightly soft center when served warm. Dollop them with whipped cream or vanilla bean or coffee ice cream.

Warm Chocolate Cakes

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate (or 2/3 cup chocolate chips)

4 T. butter

4 eggs

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

3 T. cake or all-purpose flour

2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder

Melt the chocolate and butter over hot water, stirring until smooth. Whisk the eggs and sugar to blend. Fold in the flour blended with cocoa. Fold this mixture into the chocolate mixture. Butter and cocoa dust six 1/2-cup souffle dishes. Pour in the batter. Refrigerate 1-2 hours just to firm.

Bake on a baking sheet at 400F for 12-14 minutes. Unmold while warm and serve with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired. Makes 4-6 servings.

Ultimate hybrid: art + function

Published in Palo Alto Weekly, March 13, 2009

In a rustic home-studio in the mountains of Los Altos Hills, artist Meryl Urdang sits on her deck and watches the birds glide through her panoramic view of the East Bay hills. The birds inspired Urdang.

“I envy their ability to race across the sky, glide on the air currents, sky dive and dance to their own music,” the artist said of her reasons for creating Focus on Feathers, a new collection in her signature Silk-under-Glass art for walls and tabletops. The line pays tribute to the detailed plumage patterns of the Ringneck pheasant.

Urdang’s collection can be seen next week at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show at the San Mateo Event Center.

Urdang began by painting silk Judaica prayer shawls for her daughter. This soon transformed into a process of transposing photographed feathers, flowers, butterflies and other custom designs onto silk, which is then fused onto the backside of curved glass plates. After three years of producing the Silk-under-Glass collection, region specific pieces can be found in approximately 15 galleries around the country.

Urdang went through an arduous process of trial and error to develop her products. “Every piece of this I’ve had to do like research and development, because I’m combining technique and materials that weren’t meant to be combined,” she said.

For one phase, Urdang had to test 30 different products to determine which would work best. “I’m a research person at heart. There’s always something new to explore and try,” she said.

But this is a familiar process for Urdang. “Before I was doing this, I was using the other side of my brain doing analytical work with numbers,” she said of her previous life as a market consultant in the health care industry. Six years ago she took a workshop in silk painting and three years later she made the decision to switch occupations.

Urdang’s recent union with the art world makes for a vastly different lifestyle with little delineation between home, studio and office, but Urdang said she loves all aspects of her new career.

“I love that I’m combining some of my background with technology with more organic and spontaneous aspects of my work. I love designing things, seeing people’s reactions and bringing that sense of joy that I have with my work,” Urdang said. “I love that I’m creating.”

As a child growing up in New Jersey, Urdang dabbled in an art form surprisingly similar to her current proprietary process: She made note cards decorated with construction-paper flower cut-outs and sold each for one cent. Then, the summer before college, the budding artist-gone-entrepreneur earned spending money for school by selling carved leather belts, necklaces and bracelets.

Urdang said she values functionality. Silk-under-Glass pieces can serve as wall d�cor, or they can be put in easels or on coffee tables; the dishes can be used for jewelry, or the plates can serve their traditional purpose and be used as tableware. Each size fits a purpose, according to Urdang.

Urdang’s artistic method combines many different techniques and mediums. Photography takes her to Northern California to capture wildflowers, in an approach that she said is somewhere between the abstraction of micro-photographers, where one can barely identify the photographed object, and photography that is more realistic.

“There is enough of a flower so you get a response to the image being a particular flower, but it’s also a little bit abstract,” she said.

Urdang said she likes how her design looks on square glass because the bent glass gives the piece complexity. Silk comes through the glass and handles the light beautifully.

“Silk painting is an amazing art form,” Urdang said. “When you have a brush filled with dye and you touch it to the silk and it just permeates the silk and spreads, the luxuriousness of both the silk and the way the dyes interact with it is just amazing.”

Generally, silk painting requires a laborious process of using Gutta, a latex-based resist that blocks dye from reaching the fabric, but Urdang figured out an alternative method to imprint images onto silk.

Urdang’s custom designs usually include imposing photographs of families and loved ones using the Silk-under-Glass technique. Urdang said she sees this as photographing people’s memories.

“The work is dealing with people’s memories and preserving them in a unique way that will really make them stand out,” she said.

Urdang said she sees very clear links between her past career as a health care consultant and her present work as an artist. “I think I was inspired and was able to express a different part of myself and then share that with others,” she said. “There is something about creating something and then seeing another’s reaction that’s a totally different reward than those rewards that people are usually looking for.”


For more Home and Real Estate news, visit

What: San Francisco Flower and Garden Show

When: March 18-22, Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Where: San Mateo Event Center, 2495 S. Delaware St., San Mateo

Tickets: $13-20/day, with discounts for youth, students; children 5 and under free; tickets available at local nurseries or online.

Info: Visit

Nordstrom 'pepper-spray' theft suspect nabbed

Published in Palo Alto Weekly, August 27, 2009

Oakland police Wednesday afternoon arrested one of two suspected shoplifters who fled Stanford Shopping Center in a rental car about 7 p.m. Tuesday — after stealing a swimsuit and pepper spraying three Nordstrom security guards Monday evening.

Police worked with the rental-car company to locate the rental car, Palo Alto police Sgt. Dan Ryan said. He said Oakland officers found Shunaka Jackson, 32, with the car, along with the stolen swimsuit.

Ryan said officers also worked with a California state parole officer and Oakland police on the case. Jackson, an Oakland resident, was stopped by Oakland officers about 2 p.m. Tuesday at 92nd Street and Plymouth Avenue.

Jackson was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose for robbery, being a parolee in possession of chemical spray and a parole hold.

The three security officers have recovered.

The use of pepper spray turned what would have been theft into robbery, Ryan said.

Jackson’s alleged accomplice, her 21-year-old cousin, has not yet been located, Ryan said. He said the women are believed to be part of a ring that steals merchandise then returns the items for cash.

At Filoli in Woodside: Bringing life to landscape sculpture

Published in the Almanac, February 19, 2009

DJ Garrity makes faces emerge from stone. “It’s almost as though you have a T-shirt and you’re pulling it over your face and the shape of the face is poking through the fabric suggesting features,” he said.

The haunting countenance that the 60-year-old sculptor spoke of comes to life as he carves faces into life-size slabs of marble, basalt, alabaster and limestone. What results in the stone appears to have emotion and gives the impression of gazing back at the spectator.

A self-proclaimed journeyman who explores abstract expression, Garrity takes his technique across the country in the form of lectures and workshops at botanical gardens and museums where he attempts to convey his approach to landscape sculpture. He will come to Filoli’s opening event Daffodil Daydreams on Feb. 27 for a lecture about how to incorporate sculpture into hardscape design.

Garrity’s lecture series offers natural approaches to landscape art through his artistic concept known as the “process aesthetic,” which he described as “the emergence of the human vestige from a block of raw stone.” A colossal example of this technique would be Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse memorials, he said.

This method offers a meaningful way that landscape sculpture can explore the boundaries between art and nature.

The artist’s lectures stem from work he formulated while serving as the Sculptor-In-Residence at Mount Rushmore National Memorial where he sculpted, taught classes and trained employees how to talk to visitors about sculpture.

Although Garrity received early encouragement from Ted Fagan, a sculptor from County Cork, Ireland, he is a self-taught sculptor who earlier carved figures and images in wood. He lived in western Massachusetts for 40 years, but now he lives in a small seaside village on the northwest coast of Oregon.

Garrity’s lecture is part of Filoli’s annual multi-day, kickoff program that highlights one of its plant collections. In the past couple of years camellias and magnolias have inspired the themes, but this year the program’s namesake comes from daffodils, the Narcissus Tazetta species in particular. This new species of daffodil was developed to be particularly well suited for the Bay Area climate by William Welch, known endearingly as “The Bulb Baron” by the Filoli community.

Thousands of Daffodils will be blooming on Daffodil Hill, around Filoli’s Visitor Center, and in a new garden area at Filoli where 25,000 more plants took root this year. There will be a talk by Lucy Tolmach, Filoli’s director of horticulture, who will discuss how her favorite varieties of daffodils can be used in beds and pots, and naturalized in gardens.

“Once you plant them you are done,” Tolmach said. “They are the easiest and hardiest of the garden flowers, giving you more with each passing year.”

Visitors to Daffodil Daydreams have the opportunity to learn more about sculpture and other garden art in an exhibit called Art in the Garden and through DJ Garrity’s lecture.

“DJ is a very knowledgeable yet a very down-to-earth person, an easy person to learn from,” Cathy Rampley, education program administrator at Filoli, said. “I thought Filoli should have him do a lecture where more people could benefit from his knowledge and experience.”

Garrity said he hoped that his lecture “Sculpture: The Soul of Hardscape” will get attendees to understand how dramatic sculpture can be when used in landscape and how easily people can bring it into their lifestyle. The lecture will also highlight a “green” approach to incorporating natural stone art into new or existing hardscape.

Filoli brought Garrity in last August to instruct a three-day workshop where attendees created their own sculptures from stone. He plans to return May 15-18 for a “Study with DJ Garrity: The Rhythms of Stone” workshop.

Garrity’s workshops tend to attract gardeners, the life-long learning community and people who want to work with stone but never thought it possible. He’ll be teaching how to carve faces into 45- to 50-pound blocks of limestone or alabaster. He tries to find stones that are local to the area in which he is conducting his workshops.

Garrity recalled an 82-year-old windsurfer and aspiring sculptor as a particularly inspiring student — as was one of the youngest students he has taught, a girl of about 14, who was having a difficult time for the first couple days of the workshop. “She couldn’t get the face to come through, but finally on last day it came through,” he said.

Once the girl got the expression she was striving for, Garrity remembered she said that she would never look at a stone anymore without seeing a face in it.

This is exactly what Garrity wanted her to take away: an imaginative enjoyment of sculpting process, and a realization that anyone can bring life to landscape sculpture.

What: Daffodil Daydreams
When: Feb. 27- March 1, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Where: Filoli, 86 Canada Road, Woodside
Cost: Adults $12; students $5; children under 5 free
Info: 650-364-8300,

What: Sculpture: The Soul of Hardscape
When: Feb. 27, 3-4 p.m.
Where: Filoli, 86 Canada Road, Woodside
Cost: $30 for members, $35 for non-members (includes entrance fee). Reservations required.
Info: To register contact Cathy Rampley at 650-364-8300.,

Driver found in Palo Alto pedestrian hit-and-run

Published in Palo Alto Weekly, August 27, 2009

A pedestrian/car collision with minor injuries has become a hit-and-run case when the car’s driver left the scene Wednesday, police reported.

Palo Alto police have discovered the identity of the driver of a dark Lexus sedan that hit a 16-year-old Palo Alto High School student on El Camino Real near Churchill Avenue and then drove off about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Palo Alto police Sgt. Dan Ryan said.

Police tracked down the identity of the driver by using partial plate numbers Wednesday night to find the woman who left the scene.

The student was running west across El Camino Real against a red light to catch a bus, cleared three northbound lanes, but was hit by a sedan in the far southbound lane, police spokeswoman Kara Salazar said. Witnesses reported the girl was hit and rolled against the car’s windshield, Salazar said.

She was examined at Stanford Hospital and suffered only minor injuries to her right elbow and left knee, police reported.

Ryan said the older woman driving the sedan stopped briefly to examine what happened, didn’t see anything and drove off.

The student wasn’t visible to the driver because of a bus obstructing the line of sight, Ryan said. Though the investigation found the incident to be the pedestrian’s fault, officials tracked the driver down at her home and have referred the case to the district attorney for possible hit-and-run charges, Ryan said.

Ryan said police used partial license plate numbers Wednesday night to locate the driver. The female student was running west across El Camino Real against a red light (apparently to catch the bus) and cleared three northbound lanes but was hit by the sedan in the far southbound lane, Salazar reported.