In the latest Around Town column, the story of how two Stanford economists learned they won a Nobel Prize, news about three local institutions working on a how-to guide on developing virtual programs through federal dollars and a recap of how a local golfer made two holes-in-one on back-to-back days.
WAKING UP TO A NOBEL PRIZE ... Oct. 12 will forever be etched in the memories of Robert Wilson and Paul Milgrom as the day they were awarded a Nobel Prize. The Stanford University economists and neighbors woke up early Monday to learn they had received the prestigious honor in economic sciences for their "improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats," according to a Stanford News Service article. It all started in the wee hours of the night when the Nobel committee contacted Wilson's wife, Mary, soon after her husband had disconnected his home phone under the impression that he had received a spam call. Once they digested the good news, they headed across the street to Milgrom's front door to share the news, according to the article. It took a few moments before Milgrom could utter the words, "Wow, yeah. Okay." The life-changing moment was captured on Milgrom's home security camera. The award includes 10 million Swedish kroner (equivalent to about $1.1 million in U.S. currency).
NEW MEDIA 101 ... When Santa Clara County implemented a shelter-in-place order in March, Palo Alto's libraries and artists confronted the same question that museums, zoos and art centers around the world continue to face amid the pandemic: How does one stay relevant at a time of social distancing? Like others, the city's Library Department, the Palo Alto Art Center and the Junior Museum and Zoo tried to go digital by developing virtual programs, with mixed success. Now, the three local institutions are looking to double their virtual efforts and set an example for other museums and art centers across the nation. The city has just received $128,286 in federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act funding through a program administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The goal of the federal grant program is to assist museums and libraries during the pandemic by allowing them to preserve jobs, plan for reopening and address the digital divide. The Palo Alto initiative, known as "From Onsite to Virtual: Expanding Access to Community Learning Resources" calls for each of the three institutions to create a digital studio and to work with the Midpeninsula Media Center to develop an "extensive training program" focused on best practices for planning and implementing digital programs and events, according to the city's grant application. The funds will also allow each of the programs to increase its digital offerings by 25% and allow the city to rehire some of the staff in the arts division whose positions have been eliminated through recent budget cuts. They will be responsible for promoting "multidisciplinary programming that links the arts, sciences and literacy, and supports more enhanced and sustained collaborations between these city programs into the future," the city's application states. The City Council is expected to approve the grant funding at its Oct. 19 meeting. With the money in place, staff will move ahead with training and start rolling out virtual school programs. The goal is to publish the how-to playbook for virtual exhibits in July, according to a report from City Manager Ed Shikada. The report notes that about 30% of community members have indicated in recent surveys that they plan to participate "mainly in virtual programming until a vaccine is widely available. This grant will allow city staff to improve and develop additional virtual programming for our community."
RECORD ON THE GREEN ... Donna Lawrence, an assistant vice president of development at Stanford University, achieved an unexpected feat earlier this month while playing at the university's golf course: making two holes-in-one on back-to-back days, according to a San Francisco Chronicle article. "It's very bizarre," she told the publication. "Your eyes sort of pop out of your head." The first one happened Oct. 3, when she shot 101, followed by the second on Oct. 4, when she shot 102. "In both cases, Lawrence didn't see her ball find its way into the cup," the Oct. 8 article states. Lawrence, who has played golf for 20 years, said there are times when she doesn't keep score and doesn't consider herself to be competitive. "It was a ton of fun," Lawrence said. "The other good news: the bar was closed and I didn't have to buy drinks."