Looked Around And Saw Blossoms

While Oakland began grieving today, we looked around and noticed all the spring blossoms.  What a relief to see all the seasonal flowering – whether next to highways, in cultivated gardens, or across open spaces.

Poppies Oakland

Our hearty California poppies are making their first appearances in various nooks and crannies.  Take a look at these “jailed poppies,” growing behind a chain link fence right now.

Lupines Oakland

The lupines are also showing up in open spaces and other odd places.  I spotted some of these wildflowers between Highways 24 and 13 today, on a small strip of land.  They were mixed together with the ubiquitous poppies, which were opening too.

Calla Lily Oakland

My personal favorites, the calla lilies, are appearing in gardens everywhere.  They have opened fully and are ready for admirers to ooh and aah.  Here’s a close-up image of this architectural flower.

All these shots were taken by Oaklanders in the past week or so.  Like your neigbhors, consider stopping to appreciate this multi-hued beauty contest.  It’s bound to perk you up.

Oakland Cops Killed In Our Backyard

What a sickening feeling, when we heard that three Oakland police officers were killed today along with one suspect.  Another officer remains in critical condition, and on life support.  Cop killing is rare indeed, and last happened here five years ago.

Two related shoot-outs took place today.  The first shootings occurred near the Eastmont police substation, while the later ones followed the suspect to 74th Avenue.  Check out the battleground in this Google map, below.

Eastmont Mall Area

Of course, this killing spree happened right in our backyard.  If you are a frequent flier, then you typically drive right past the old Eastmont Mall to the Oakland Airport.

We notated this Google map, by tagging Montclair (“A”), Eastmont (“B”) and the Airport (“C”).  The Eastmont area is at the halfway point, and the quickest way over to Hegenberger.

Montclair To Airport

It’s hard to comprehend the senseless killings and mayhem in this place today.  You could start driving on Rt. 880 to the airport, but is that really the right reaction?  These shootings won’t change my route yet, because I think they are just too random and rare.

Maybe this is how people who live in war zones start to feel.  There are some who batten down the hatches and stay in the green zone.  Meanwhile, others ignore the stormy weather and go about their business anyway.

More info:   Check out the Oakland Tribune’s report, several photos which don’t seem real, and early video with Acting Police Chief Jordan.  Also read the San Francisco Chronicle’sreport with updates, and national coverage from the NY Times and AP Wire.

Curing Poor Cell Phone Coverage

“My cell phone coverage stinks!” is a common cry from Montclarions.  When you drive around the village, it’s a hit-or-miss proposition.  Carrier signals vary from one neighbor to the next, in a seemingly random fashion.

“The Hills are probably the worst area to service from a cell phone provider’s standpoint,” explained Soren Jensen, who lives in the Village. “The geography combined with the need for line of sight and limited range requires you to be able to ‘see’ a cell tower in order to get reliable service.”

Ancient Phone Switch

Before you give up and simply rely on old wire lines, consider these tricks while at home.  Props to Paul Lindner, who shared some ways to fix your limited or non-existent cell phone reception:

  • Try a cell phone repeater: Amplify the signal with a device like zBoost.  This might work if you get some reception on your roof already, but not indoors.
  • Use a special cell phone: Buy a special, unlicensed mobile access (UMA) cell phone, and then rely on your WiFi/Internet service to make calls.
  • Look into a femtocell: Ask your carrier (i.e. Sprint or Verizon) for this device, so you can make Internet calls from any cell phone model.

It seems like you have nothing to lose by trying out some of these in-home solutions.  If you can freely use your cell at home, then lucky you!

P.S.  Thanks to everyone complaining about their cell phone carriers and coverage tonight, on the Montclair SIC message board…such inspiration.

Thornhillers Must Buy Hyperlocal Veggies

The gauntlet has been thrown.  Today a brand-new market with fresh veggies and fruits has opened on Thornhill Drive, in the little strip mall next to Thornhill Coffee.  It’s up to Thornhillers and other Montclarions to support the new place, and create healthier options than our beloved 7-Eleven.

Delicious Avocado

Even though I was headed to work, I stopped by and bought my first avocado.  It was $0.99 and this item typically runs $1.50 or more at the supermarkets.  My specimen was getting ripe, looked good, and tasted great for lunch – rivaling the farmers market quality.

This new market is small but quite nice looking, with flowers for sale placed outside the front door.  Inside you will see dark-tile floors, wood shelving and artfully displayed freshies plus other goods.  The proprietor was friendly and I look forward to getting to know him.

Because change is so gradual around Thornhill, I shared my glee while picking up morning libations next door.  Sure enough, the contractor who built out the market was getting coffee and was duly proud of his recent work.

As someone who lives nearby, I’m bound and determined to have a market survive here.  Yet stores won’t survive on a single veggie purchase, so this is a challenge for Thornhillers to graciously accept.

Research Your Roots, Without Leaving Oakland

You don’t have to leave Oakland city limits to find out about your roots.  These days anyone can visit genealogy sites, like Ancestry.com, and start digging into their past through vital records.  But we’re talking about flesh-and-blood help in conducting research, which comes in handy when you’re not an expert sleuth.

St. John's Elderberries

California Roots:  California Genealogical Society (CGS)

This statewide treasure trove is located at 2201 Broadway, Suite LL2 (map), where you can begin searching for kin.  There are records at state, county and local levels, dating back to pioneers from the 1800s.  Fortunately, the CGS has taken the time to identify and access these disparate sources.

The Elderberries, who attend St. John’s Church in Montclair, recently paid a visit to the CGS library.  However you can go it alone, and attend the next Genealogy for Beginners class on April 4th, from 11:00am – 12:30pm.  To sign up, call 510-663-1358 or email cgslevents-at-gmail.com.

CGS library hours are Thurs-Fri (from 9am – 4pm) and Sat (from 10am – 4pm), and it costs $5/day.  For those who want to know their roots but can’t stomach the work, CGS librarians will provide quick look-ups or conduct extended research at low cost.

Scattered Roots:  Oakland Regional Family History Center (ORFHC)

This worldwide treasure trove is located right in the Oakland LDS Temple’s visitor center, at 4766 Lincoln Ave. (map).  Especially when you don’t know much about your roots, these resources aid the hunt for forefathers and mothers.

The LDS have excellent genealogy databases, available through their Family Search tools.  Staff suggests that you come prepared with any family names and even a disk (or flash drive) to save data for later use.  If you have questions, then please call 510-531-3905 or email fhcoakland-at-yahoo.com.

ORFHC hours are Tues-Wed (from 10am – 9pm) and Thurs-Sat (from 10am – 4pm), without entry fees.  There are also frequent classes and you are asked to register beforehand.

Can’t Decide:  Learn From Both Camps

Oakland-based genealogists are combining their efforts next month!  These alphabet soup groups (CGS and ORFHC) are co-hosting their Beginning Genealogy Seminar on April 18th, from 9am – 4pm at the California Genealogical Society (map).

To attend the newbie seminar,  just send this form and the $15 registration fee to the Family History Center.  You’ll need to sign up quickly because there are only 30 spots available for this session.

Admittedly I have never really researched my roots, except when visiting Ellis Island over a decade ago.  I like all the offerings from local groups, but this all-day event seems like the best way to learn – in one fell-swoop.