Around the Town
Beauty, Art and Fashion from Fire
Jay Bridgland has been working with fire and glass every day for 16 years, but he says he’s only just starting to come to a place where he feels he’s getting it.
His form is the classic art of flameworking, which he teaches at the The Crucible in Oakland.
“This is glass blowing done in front of a torch,” he says at Brigland Studios, his Alameda warehouse studio and gallery, explaining that he teaches students how to blow and sculpt glass in front of a 5,000-degree flame. “You use a special type of glass, borosilicate, which is essentially Pyrex.”
In this flameworking process, the artist works with glass rods, hollow tubes and precise shaping tools; it’s different from the furnace method where artists can work big but forfeit detail. Very little of what Brigland does looks like one imagines of glass.
Brigland has become famous for his eye-popping, chunky-but-light-as-air “bead” necklaces that sell in museum shops and galleries around the United States. These beads appear solid, but an admirer who holds them up will discover they’re lightweight and have a translucency.
“I wanted to take glass-making into a more functional realm and what is there better than to wear it?” Brigland says.
He also creates glass sculptures of the naked female form, which are displayed on shelves in a gallery within the studio warehouse space. Brigland makes extremely intricate and delicate pieces — bottles and goblets, which are protected in cabinets behind glass in the gallery. This cabinet is also where he shows off paperweights made by his Crucible students and small animal figures made by his daughter, Emma, 11. The middle of three children, she is the one with an interest in working with glass.
Brigland’s degree is in painting and mixed media, from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Shortly after graduating, in 1993, he says, “I found glass.”
“It offered a new dimension,” he says. “It was sculptural, 3-D — and I was still able to play with color.”
To hone his craft, Bridgland has made a two- to three-month pilgrimage each year to Murano, Italy’s glass capital, for the past six years. There he works with a “behind-the-torch” glassmaking master. “Each day, I’ll make 10 goblets,” he says. “The next morning when you come in, you smash them all and start again.” In part, it’s about non-attachment and letting go, he says. But more than that, “It’s about creating perfection. That’s what comes with the repetition. You do it over and over again until you can do it in your sleep. It’s how the Italian glass masters train.”
It’s not easy work, he says. “You need persistence to gain a skill level — to produce a goblet, a bottle, a shaped necklace.” He’s talking about a perfectly executed goblet, bottle, necklace.
Lucky for Alamedans, Bridgland and his wife and business partner, Jennifer, moved their studio from Oakland this year. “Alameda is definitely the right place to be. It’s an up-and-coming town for artists and art buyers. It’s got the family orientation but also a good social scene and restaurants, so it made sense,” he says.
The two are co-owners of the studio, and both are designers. She manages the business side, freeing up Brigland “to do the melting and the making.” They host a regular open house, as part of the monthly Second Friday Estuary Art Attack, at their warehouse, which is down a driveway behind a nondescript house on Santa Clara Avenue. It’s a large, industrial-style space from the outside. Visitors enter through a small front room used as a storage space to the spacious gallery where he features the work of guest artists on the walls and his own glasswork on and in the aforementioned shelves and cabinets.
At the rear, doors lead through to his workspace where he can demonstrate his technique. He lights up one of the torches, which looks like a very large blow torch and stands behind the flame and holds the thin glass rods and tubes he’s working with in the flame, using his skill and magic to coax from the fire fashion, beauty and art, ultimately creating perfection.
—Photography by Chris Duffy
Wishes Come True — by a Nose
Five-year-old Ruth Radwin touched the shiny bronze nose of the dog and made a wish. “I wish I could fly,” she said.
Then, she made another wish. Something about Cinderella and her mother. But you won’t see it here. Everyone knows that wishes don’t come true, once they’re told aloud.
Wishing on a dog’s nose is one of the best things I’ve ever done. Simple, fun and funny. I mean, dogs are funny, so wishing on a dog’s nose is really funny.
But first you have to hunt down the bronze marker that commemorates the life of Blackie, a shepherd-Lab mix that was the mascot of the U.S. Maritime Service Training Station in Alameda from 1933–1946. The training station was in the “Glory of the Seas” building, which still stands today with an amazing view of the bay.
The marker is in the middle of the field at Crab Cove, near the beach. The field used to be the site of the large swimming pools at Neptune Beach, then known as the “Coney Island of the West.” Today, the pools have been chipped away and filled in and planted with grass. Some of the tiled concrete remains can be found in a retaining wall at the nearby beach.
But back to the dog marker. Walk to the flagpole in the middle of the field/swimming pool, and there’s a tall, concrete monument commemorating the 47 graduates of the maritime service training station who died in World War II. Next to the monument, is the bronze marker honoring Blackie.
The nose is shiny from being touched by so many fingers. When it was my turn, I managed to come up with a wish that is well known to anyone who has seen It’s a Wonderful Life and has some relation to wealth.
“You have to make a wish and keep it secret,” says Kirk Mercurio, a naturalist at the Crab Cove Visitor Center.
What about Ruth’s wish to fly?
“She’ll take a flight one day,” Mercurio says. “It’ll be OK.”
—Photography by Loris Eanes
By the Numbers
Want to know how two top breakfast spots compare on the Island?
Consider the following:
How many pieces of bacon cooked each weekend?
Jim’s Coffee Shop:1,500
Ole’s Waffle Shop: A lot!
How many eggs?
Ole’s: Cases and cases.
What’s the wait for breakfast on Sunday morning?
Jim’s: 5–10 minutes
Ole’s:10–20 minutes, although there is usually open counter seating.
What’s your breakfast legacy?
Jim’s: Since 1960
Ole’s: Since 1927
Most popular item?
Jim’s: Denver omelet, with bell peppers and onions
Ole’s: Pancakes and waffles. Also popular: the Breakfast Special, which includes pancakes, eggs and ham, or the Bobby Max, which includes waffles, ham and eggs.
The Small Dog Blog
Nom de Blogger: Carrie Isett, accompanied by her Chihuahua mixes, Finn and Archie
Blogging since: 2004
The Backstory: Whether it’s a recipe for peanut butter biscotti for dogs or a post looking for foster homes for small dogs rescued from Taiwan, the Small Dog Blog is all about the community surrounding cute, little dogs. Isett started her blog because she got to know so many small dog owners at the Alameda Small Dog Park on Eighth Street. “The blog was originally intended for the people at the small dog park,” said Isett. “Now, it’s like anything goes.” Like advice on where to find patterns to knit sweaters for small dogs or a thank you post from Rachel, who was grateful to the small dog park visitors who helped her and her husband, Omar, find his wedding ring in the sand. Their expression of gratitude is accompanied by a photo of their black-and-white Shih Tzu/Lhasa Apso mix, Max.
Traffic: The Small Dog Blog draws about 25 to 30 people regularly, Isett said. It’s linked to the Alameda Small Dogs Web site, also maintained by Isett, which has a bigger following and includes features like “Dear Dr. Fluff” and a photo spread called “Dog of the Month.”
The Best Part: “There’s the small dog Halloween costume contest,” says Isett, who publishes photos of the winning getups. “Maybe the smaller dogs are treated more like kids. It’s easier to dress them up.”
A St. George Happy Hour
For a spirits enthusiast, taking the free 40-minute tour of St. George Spirits feels a bit like entering the grown-up version of Willy Wonka’s factory. But forget chocolate. The sight of the giant copper stills looming over rows of barrel-aging handcrafted whiskey, eaux de vie and liqueurs is more exciting than an Everlasting Gobstopper. From the flagship Hangar One vodkas to the acclaimed St. George Absinthe Verte, visitors get the back stories of trial-and-error distilling, revealed by tour guides who clearly relish their jobs as beverage alchemists.
The tour is the prelude to the best part of a St. George visit: bottoms up at the tasting bar for one of the best deals in town: $10 buys 12 pours of vodka, brandy, whiskey and liqueurs. The seasonal Fraser River Raspberry Vodka with its bright pink color and tart berry taste was a favorite in our group. For $10 more, sample the absinthe, the limited-release Agua Azul spirit or the reserve $200-a-bottle De Profundis brandy, which, once misplaced, has now happily and accidentally barrel-aged for 20 years.
Word to the wise: It’s a good idea to bring a friend to split a tasting (the equivalent of two cocktails), and plan ahead for a designated driver.
St. George Spirits, 2601 Monarch St., (510) 769-1601, stgeorgespirits.com, 12 p.m.–7 p.m. Wed.–Sat. and 12 p.m.–6 p.m. Sun. with tours 1 p.m. Sat.– Sun. Groups of more than four people should call for reservations.
The Well of Life
In May 2009, when Kim Meyer, director of outreach at Bay Farm Community Church, and the four women working with her, walked into a small Kenyan village, Ngungani, to dedicate a water well they helped build with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, it was the first time the villagers didn’t have to walk four hours — each way — to get fresh drinking water.
Meyer spearheaded the effort to bring fresh water to the remote village, located six hours northeast of the Kenya capital of Nairobi, as soon as she learned of the extent of villagers’ suffering caused by extreme and prolonged drought. Working with Pastor Peter Muthui from Nairobi, Bay Farm Community Church members, plus some of the general Alameda community, responded generously with $35,000 toward the effort, as well as wheelchairs and bags of shoes for the local children, many of whom are born with physical disabilities and AIDS.
“I was amazed how quickly a project like building a well and giving water is giving hope and satisfaction to those who gave to make this dream come true,” says Meyer.
While in Kenya, Meyer and her crew visited Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, the vice president of Kenya, in his office and ate dinner with him and his family in his home. They also met with other governmental dignitaries who flew by helicopter into the village for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“To do a ribbon-cutting in Kenya, representing our church in Alameda, made me aware how community can help and stretch, even to the other side of the world,” Meyer notes.
She says that the Kenyan officials are planning to visit Alameda in summer 2010.
“Our church is thinking of doing a large venue event to help people be aware of the need of water in Kenya and around the world,” she says, inviting the public to contact the church if someone would like to help. “People want to help people, and the need of water is great.”As they say in Kenya, “Water is life.”
—Mary Lee Shalvoy
They Give Back
Local Pros and Their Causes
Nnamdi Asomugha Oakland Raiders Cornerback
Asomugha is heavily involved with the East Oakland Youth Development Center. Among his biggest contributions is taking EOYDC high school students on an annual college trip. They’ve gone to Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Georgia Tech, Harvard University, MIT, Boston University, Brown University, the Berklee College of Music, NYU, Columbia University, The Juilliard School, The Fashion Institute of Technology and Fordham University.
Jimmy Rollins Philadelphia Phillies Shortstop
The Oakland native set up the The Jimmy Rollins Family Foundation to help children and young adults living with arthritis. The foundation provides funds for families and awareness about the disease, primarily with his annual BaseBOWL Tournament, in which celebrities and executives compete in bowling.
Ronny Turiaf Golden State Warriors Center
After having open heart surgery his rookie year, Ronny Turiaf created the Heart to Heart Foundation to help provide funds for children who need echocardiograms and other heart tests. That is in addition to various community work, which earned him the Angela & Christopher Cohan Community Service Award, given annually to a Warrior.
Fred Biletnikoff Oakland Raiders Hall of Fame Receiver
In 1999, in response to the murder of his daughter, Tracey, Fred and his wife, Angela, created the Biletnikoff Foundation to support young women recovering from substance abuse and to help prevent domestic violence. The Biletnikoff Foundation uses its Raiders ties to put on an annual golf tournament and crab feed. It also works with STAND!, an organization that provides crisis victims and their children with emergency shelter, counseling, support groups and transitional housing.
Gary Payton Retired NBA Star Point Guard
The Oakland native has given loads of money over his career to various organizations: Boys & Girls Club of America, Make-a-Wish Foundation, HIV awareness programs and the East Oakland Youth Development Center. He once had the Gary Payton Foundation to assist underprivileged youth in Oakland and hosts an annual charity basketball game.
—Marcus Thompson II
Savvy shoppers know the small-but-mighty Alameda Farmers Market is chock full of fresh vegetables and produce, but it also offers yummy prepared foods to eat on site or to carry home for an instant meal.
On a recent trip, the smell of popped Kettle Corn and the scent of RoliRoti rotisserie chicken mixed with the tunes of “Rockin’ Robin” and “Old MacDonald,” set a pleasant scene for a midday foodie adventure. The culinary trip started with an information-gathering loop interrupted with free sampling: juicy O Henry, Zee Glo and Artic Pride peaches from Kashiwase Farms of Winton; perfectly ripe strawberries from Medina Berry Farm of Watsonville; spicy veggie rolls (made from “tofutillas”), jalapeno-smoked tofu, teriyaki tofu and “toveggie balls” from Berkeley’s Tofu Yu; and Mi Fiesta Catering Company’s tomato-saucey chiles rellenos.
Appetite whetted, it was time for eating in earnest: Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian Foods of Hayward turns out $1 samosas, triangular pastries drizzled with sauces and chutneys of your choice; and the $3 rosemary-roasted potatoes from RoliRoti, piping hot nuggets of herb-dusted potatoes spread out below the rotisserie chicken. Mmmm — an altogether successful snack foray.
The market sets up shop at Haight and Webster — a move that occurred in May — 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Tues. and 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Sat.
—Judith M. Gallman
New Releases from Local Authors
A Home in Alameda by Woodruff Minor (ALAMEDA MUSEUM, 2009, 115 pp., $19/$22)
History and architecture buffs will love Woody Minor’s latest book, an image-rich, fact-infused depiction of the housing stock of Marcuse & Remmel and Joseph A. Leonard, the architects, builders and developers of Bay Station and Leonardville manses, respectively. Minor is
a fourth-generation Alamedan, historic architecture aficionado, author, entertaining writer and deft storyteller (plus a frequent Alameda Magazine contributor). For this work, he takes his two out-of-print booklets on the Bay Station and Leonardville heritage areas to new heights, introducing the great men behind the houses, the neighborhoods themselves and their designations as heritage areas. The resulting opus is erudite without being stuffy or boring. The reproduced black-and-white photographs, lithographs, plats and advertisements (when homes were a mere few thousand dollars) from the era recall a prospering community determined to rival San Francisco. Especially interesting are Minor’s street-by-street heritage area sections in which crisp photographs of houses pair with address, date built, architect, builder, cost and vivid details about the style, owner and/or current condition of the property. Carry the book along and stroll the areas for a more thorough understanding. The stunning book cover, which would make a gorgeous poster, comes from Leonard’s first sales brochure. Buy the book at the Alameda Museum or Books Inc.
The Alameda Experience by Gary Williams (GARY WILLIAMS, 2009, 66 pp., $10)
In this slim tome, Gary Williams pens nostalgic-laced personal essays on the Alameda he knew growing up on Mound Street with his grandparents in the ’40s as well as the town he came to know after he had moved away. His prose creates a familiar and recognizable place, one where shell mounds, convertibles and the insecurity of youth are replaced by shopping centers, the inevitable development of Alameda Point and the author’s need for atonement. Along the way, Williams highlights schools, architecture, churches, parks, streets, wanderings and the estuary. He isn’t writing a history lesson here. Instead he reveals insights about himself and his core and how Alameda formed and continues to mold him.
Tomas Michaud, Beauty and Fire (Starland Music Records, worldmelodies.com)
Starland Music Center founder Tomas Michaud is the kind of guy who inscribes his CD jacket with “Wishing you peace and happiness” and a cheery shining sun, so it follows that the tracks on Beauty and Fire, his sixth CD, are pleasant, warm and welcoming. He plays flamenco guitar, but his style isn’t the spirited, foot-stomping variety of Spain; it’s mellow, soft and soulful yet uplifting, a vehicle for channeling his primary influences, the Gipsy Kings and Santana. The Alameda composer and producer, who also boasts skills on trumpet, electric bass and mandolin, mixes in smooth jazz and world music influences for a sound that echoes Turkey and Morocco with hints of Spain, Latin America and the Middle East. The catchy rhythms, varied tempos, diverse percussion and lovely strings on this instrumental CD produce an agreeable soundtrack for relaxing and rejuvenating at the end of a hard day.
The Blues Gangsters, The Perils of Life (Furious Babyface Records, MySpace.com/bluesgangsters)
Alamedan Kristi Maddocks (from all-girl Everybody Violet fame) and cohorts — Dave Ellison, guitar; Dave Fleminger, bass, Rhodes guitar, organ; Matt Johnson, drums; and David Rinck, vocals, guitar; with special guests Dylan Rogers, blues rap, and Heather Vorwerck, cello — conspire to deliver “blues-driven, psychedelic-tinged indie rock” reminiscent of their post-punk days from San Diego’s Ché Cafe and the associated Ché Underground movement. They succeed, with the indie San Diego-ites’ reunion effort of eight tracks managing to sound, off and on, a bit like Jefferson Airplane, the B52s, the New York Dolls and the Velvet Underground and others. The CD name comes from the type of lives the artists have led, with Maddocks perhaps overcoming one of the most perilous situations: a massive stroke from a congenital brain defect. The press info says the music is part of her recovery.
—Judith M. Gallman
Pay Tribute to Phyllis Diller
An outlandish dress studded with rhinestones and intended to display her skinny legs, a crooked nose, wild hair, a feathery boa, a long cigarette holder, trademark short boots, and a hearty signature “ah, ah” laugh. Outrageous in appearance, but self-deprecating, she grabbed the audience’s attention with her looks and then cracked them up with one-liners about herself. That’s how comedian Phyllis Diller entertained millions of people during a groundbreaking career that paved the way for female comedians and lasted more than a half-century.
Her standup career began in 1955 when she got a chance to perform at The Purple Onion, the famous nightclub in San Francisco’s North Beach. From there, Diller hit the road on the discovery club circuit and eventually got her big break when comedian Bob Hope asked her to co-star in the 1966 movie, Boy Did I Get a Wrong Number. She went on to star in three TV shows, recorded comedy albums, appeared in many of Bob Hope’s TV specials and on game shows, and wrote five books. Diller retired from standup comedy in 2002 at the age of 84 with a farewell performance in Las Vegas.
But long before her success, Diller, married and a mother of five, lived in a house on Fernside Boulevard in Alameda. She and her husband, Sherwood Diller, had moved to the Island in 1945 when he got a job at the old Naval Air Station. But he lost that job and always had trouble keeping one, so Diller had to get a job. She wrote a column for a San Leandro newspaper and later moved into advertising. Always quick-witted and someone who enjoyed entertaining people, she wrote snappy advertising copy for a department store in Oakland and several radio stations in San Francisco prior to her Purple Onion debut.
In 2007, Ron Ucovich, an Alameda Museum docent, retired high school teacher, local history buff and former Fernside neighbor of Diller’s in the 1950s, wrote her a letter, asking if she might donate a bit of memorabilia from her life and career so the museum could honor her. Diller agreed and, in 2008, donated a garish floral print gown, a pump organ, some photographs, a comical tiara, rhinestones, a colorful boa and
a comedy album. The items are contained in the new permanent Phyllis Diller Exhibit, which opened in
August at the museum.
Diller may have left Alameda more than 45 years ago for the bright lights and fame of Hollywood, but her comedy career started right here in Alameda, and, thanks to the new exhibit, a small part of her legacy is preserved for people to enjoy.
— Keith Gleason
Man Meets Superheroes
John Wentz’s art speaks volumes, even though the contemporary realist painter says he’s been mute most of his life with his nose stuck in comic books.
The 35-year-old Academy of Art University instructor and alumni, Alameda resident and Carl Jung–inspired artist uses stark science images, pensive human figures (often with his digital age nephew as a model) and bright superheroes to examine “how the archetype of the hero — and specifically the superhero — influences the human experience.” His latest series, The Human Condition, incorporates oil on aluminum panel, which literally required some finger painting.
Wentz works on multiple projects at once, but before he paints, “I start writing and writing and writing,” a process he appropriated from sculptor Maya Lin. He winds up with a volume of ideas, stories, symbols and shapes and then begins basic sketches. It’s all part of his grand plan to create his own version of interesting, honest art that sparks dialogue and poses questions (and gives him a bad case of nerves at every show opening, regardless).
Wentz believes we’re all artists and that hard work trumps talent every time where producing art is concerned.
“You always get the question, when did you start doing art, and actually, the question should be, when did you stop doing art,” says Wentz. “Everybody did. Everybody draws as a kid, or just about. So I just never stopped.” See more John Wentz art at wentzart.net.
—Judith M. Gallman
International Artisan Goods
The road from Southeast Asia to Alameda is a long one, but Silk Road owner Michelle Stibbs, who lived in Thailand for years, delivers a caravan of goods and treasures worthy of the journey. Intricately hand-carved teak and stone plaques, colorful silk pashmina scarves and other home décor items are available from Thailand, India, Mexico, Africa and the Philippines. While living abroad, Stibbs was deeply moved to help the local people. Silk Road offers fair trade items designed by local artisans, who in turn are able to make a fair wage.
2534 Santa Clara Ave., (510) 749-9941, marcopolosilkroad.com, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Tue.–Sat.
Infant and Children’s Gear
With the latest NASA-like streamlined designs of strollers and car seats now available, walking into Tot Tank may feel like visiting
a car showroom. On-the-go parents are able to test-drive strollers
and car seats by brands including Phil & Teds, Bugaboo, UPPAbaby and Ergo at the store. As parents to young children themselves, owners
and Alamedans Jay and Milly Fong were tired of traveling to the big box stores to purchase needed gear for their babies. Toys, feeding systems and safety items by Green Toys, Medela and KidCo are available. In-store classes will be offered to the public on car seat fitting, infant CPR and parenting.
1413 Park St., (510) 865-8265, tottank.com, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat.,11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun.
Janene’s Bridal Botique
Before committing to a life of love, countless brides-to-be may spend what seems like an eternity finding the right wedding dress. Customers can sort through a sea of styles to select the perfect gown, whether it’s strapless or cap sleeve, mermaid or ball-gown style. Couture dresses made of 100 percent silk by designers Tara Keely (JLM Couture), Martina Liana and Kirstie Kelly for Disney, as well as Essense of Australia, Allure and Maggie Sottero are some of the popular wedding gown designers brides are gravitating toward for their special day. Prices for bridal gowns range from $900 to $3,700, and bridesmaid and flower girl dresses come in an array of colors for $200-$300. Wedding Gown Atelier also carries a selection of tiaras, veils, jewelry, and shoes, and offers on-site alterations.
2418 Central Ave., (510) 217-8076 or (510) 507-5922. By appointment only.
—Photography by Loris Eanes
You Can Fight City Hall
Glenn VanWinkle is a regular Alameda 13-year old in many ways. Tall and lanky, he plays soccer and baseball, is an eighth grader at Head Royce School and grew up, like countless other Alameda kids, learning golf at the Mif Albright nine-hole course
at Alameda’s Chuck Corica Golf Complex.
But unlike his peers, Van Winkle took on Alameda City Hall and won, for now.
Thanks to Glenn and his dad, Joe VanWinkle, the Mif — a longtime VanWinkle family favorite also popular with youth, seniors and busy middle age golfers for being a quarter the size of a regular course, and, therefore, easier and faster to play — got a new lease on life, albeit a temporary one.
(The Mif — as it’s known to most golfers — was opened in 1982 and is named for former Golf Commissioner Lloyd “Mif”Albright, whose dream it was to have a course that could be played by all levels of golfers to complement Alameda’s two 18-hole courses and the driving range.)
The city council closed the course in November 2008, citing a declining number of rounds and increased operational expenses, despite protests from the golf commission and many Alameda golfers, young and
Glenn, then 12, and Joe sprang into action. They examined the Mif’s financials, met with council members, drafted a proposal to reopen the course, and testified at city council meetings that the Mif could turn a profit and its rounds weren’t declining. In April 2009, the council agreed to reopen it temporarily for six months.
As a reward for his work, Glenn got to hit the first ball on the reopened course on Memorial Day weekend, playing the first round with Mayor Beverly Johnson, councilmember Doug DeHaan and golf commissioner Jane Sullwold.
The Mif’s new lease on life, however, expires this month, and its future remains uncertain as the city council and city manager undertook closed-door meetings beginning in September to discuss the possible sale of the Mif’s land with Tideland Trust Properties and Harbor Bay Isle Associates. “Now we have to work for a long-term agreement,” says Glenn, vowing to fight the city council if they try to close the Mif permanently and take away the course he and many golfers grew up on.
Walk the Walk
Create Lasting Memories Using Technology
If the latest computer gadgets and gizmos have you scratching your head, you’re not alone. Computer technology will continue to evolve, but we will always be innately programmed to connect with family, friends, peers and colleagues.
Get started by taking classes. Free hands-on computer training is offered at the Alameda Free Library, 1550 Oak St. Classes include Beginning Computers, Introduction to Photo Elements, YouTube Video Broadcast Training and more; for a fee, PowerLight Systems,
1305 High St., will help things click by coming to your house or office to teach Microsoft software and Web design programs.
Create memories using a webcam to record special events. The latest ones can zoom in to video or photograph documents and zoom out to record panoramic views. The size of a small flashlight, the IPevo web camera ($65.95), at Alameda Business Machines, 2309 Santa Clara Ave., allows you to record directly onto your laptop computer. Your family reunion or daughter’s baseball game can be recorded for a live webcast, uploaded onto YouTube or an online social network or recorded on a CD before the event is over.
Save your family’s heritage and pass on grandpa’s stories through a family book. Organize and digitize old photos, newspaper articles, slides, home videos and even cell phone pictures at Smart Phone and Photo, 2006 Encinal Ave., where one-on-one help is available. OfficeMax, 2160 Otis Drive, and FedEx Office (formerly Kinko’s), 750 Atlantic Ave., also offer products to display family photos, including calendars and greeting cards.
Staying “wired” and connected to family and friends is easier than ever. Alameda offers several free WiFi hotspots, including the Alameda Free Library (Main, Bay Farm and West End branches); The Beanery, 1650 Park St.; Java Rama Coffee House, 1333 Park St.; Julie’s Coffee and Tea, 1223 Park St.; La Val’s Pizza, 891 Island Drive; Little House Café, 2300 Blanding Ave.; Peet’s Coffee, 1365 Park St.; and Spritzers, 734 Central Ave.
When it’s time to power down for the last time, be sure to get rid of old computers and electronics responsibly by dropping them off at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store, 2315 Lincoln Ave. The SVdP WasteNot program enables old electronics to be refurbished and put towards job training for the disadvantaged. Divert old cell phones from landfills by depositing them at Radio Shack, 407 South Shore Center, through the Call2Recycle program.
— Karen Granados