Sunday, September 25, 2011

Friday Five: Google, Beltran and the Diet 'iCoke' machine make for a San Francisco treat

This week's Deezo Friday Five recalls some of the things I learned while attending an education writers conference in the Bay Area this week.

For instance, I had no idea that there are palm trees in San Fran. After seeing all those Giants fans in parkas at Candlestick Park all those years, I assumed it was a colder place. But here are some more interesting things.


We all signed non-disclosure statements so we couldn't reveal top-secret things we might have seen during our time at the sprawling Google headquarters in Mountain View. I'm pretty sure that it involved world domination.

But we did get a tour of some of the wild and crazy things that go on there.

Google employees eat well. There are about 20 cafes on the campus, and employees eat for free. Good stuff, too. Because employees gain “The Google 15” with all the free food, they exercise by riding brightly colored bicycles all over the place.

There's a T. Rex skeleton named Sam, and he is covered in plastic flamingos. Employees play beach volleyball during the day between meals.

There's a sculpture garden with giant heads of people real and imagined.

I saw one person older than 30 and not a single necktie.

I wonder if the Bingplex is as fun.

2)San Francisco International.

The airport was as close to the city as I got, since our activities were all in the southern parts of the region.

Alas, the airport was nowhere near as drama-packed as the magnificent “San Francisco International” television pilot that became one of our favorite “Mystery Science Theater 3000” episodes.

The movie features Pernell Roberts as a smug airport administration who does his job, his way. A typical day at work involves Tab Hunter and some other bad guys kidnapping David Hartman's wife and eluding security chief Clu Gulager. Meanwhile, newspaper columnist Van Johnson is splitting from his wife, depressing his son who somehow manages to wander into a small plane that accidentally takes off.

As all this is going on, Pete from “McGuyver” is having issues with a made-for-TV hippie.

It's all good fun, and it kept a lot of 1970s minor stars off the streets until “Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island” came calling.

3)Stanford University

One of the good things about changing time zones is that you can get up at 5 a.m. and it feels like you are sleeping in.

I decided to ditch the treadmill and take to the streets for my early morning run, especially after discovering that the Standford University campus was nearby.

With Bay Area resident Bruce Hornsby rocking the iPhone, I explored the campus in the pre-dawn darkness. Seemed like a nice place, especially with some of its famous architecture dramatically lit. The Memorial Church's mural is beautifully lit, as is the tower named after alumni Herbert and Lou Hoover.

Now, I don't know what crazy things they're working on at Stanford, but something was wreaking havoc with my iPhone's GPS. The RunKeeper ap kept announcing distances and mile paces that would have me welcomed at the Olympics next year. Apparently I ran 18 miles in 46 minutes, and was running 2 minute miles at one point.

4)New-fangled Diet Coke machine.

There is a possibility that I drink too much Diet Coke. I know this. But if you ever want to know the location of the Diet Coke vending machine in your building, or any other, I'm your man.

I was roaming around downtown Palo Alto looking for the Giants Dugout store and wanted something small to eat to tide me over. I found a pizza by the slice place, and thought it would to the job.

Turning to fill up my cup, I encountered a crazy new Coke delivery system. It looked like it was part iPad, with a touch screen boasting it could create 106 kinds of soda. I was surprised. There are other kinds of soda?

I tapped the DC logo on the screen, and the graphic switched to all Diet Coke and then the refreshing beverage started flowing freely.

Pretty cool. Oh, and there is a reason the Bay Area is not known for its pizza.

5) Carlos Beltran, Giant

I did find the Giants Dugout store, and obtained this week's Cap of the Week, a black-and-orange, soft-crowned beauty.

There was plenty of World Series gear, though those caps were more expensive. Some Grateful Dead and Brian Wilson stuff, but I had my fill of weirdness after the Googleplex.

I was pleasantly surprised to see t-shirts for our mid-season gift to the team, Carlos Beltran. Nice to see that Beltran is appreciated in his new surroundings, even if he apparently couldn't lead the team to the playoffs.

We shall remember Carlos fondly when we see Zach Wheeler shirts at Citi Field before too long!

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