STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU ... What happens when 10 people get stuck inside a stuffy elevator for close to an hour in the middle of a hacker festival? A bit of networking, some perspiration and tons of humor, apparently. That's what happened on Saturday, March 31, during Palo Alto's inaugural "Super Happy Block Party," an event that brought close to 2,000 hackers, artists and entrepreneurs to a block of High Street in downtown Palo Alto. Most of the coders set up stations at the Talenthouse and across the street at Innovation Endeavors, which occupies a fourth-story suite at a corner office building. A group of visitors — including two event organizers, a mobile-phone expert from England (and his children), a visitor from Finland who once worked for Nokia, a representative from Budweiser who was scouting for someone who can make beer-related apps, an employee from downtown gaming company OnLive and a Weekly reporter — was descending from the Innovation Endeavors suite to the ground floor at about 3 p.m. when the elevator froze in place a few feet before it could reach its destination. Despite the mild inconvenience of being packed like sardines in a small box with nine strangers, morale ran mostly high. No one was pregnant; nature wasn't calling; and the presence of at least half dozen smartphones created a sense of comfort. Some sample comments from the elevator: "We should innovate our way out of here." "Let's hack this thing. We'll win any hacker competition." "Isn't there an app that can get us out of here?" "At least it isn't April Fools' Day yet. Then no one would respond." "This could be an opportunity for the longest elevator pitch ever." Someone suggested playing music, though that idea quickly fizzled ("Just no elevator music," one person responded). Two people (including the Weekly's representative) whiled away the time by playing Tic Tac Toe with their fingers on the moist elevator door. Others were more productive. The Budweiser representative, looking for an app developer, found a potential source 2 feet away from him ("I have a friend who may be able to help you," the person said, prompting an exchange of business cards). The party ended shortly after 3:45 p.m., when an elevator technician and a crew of Palo Alto firefighters from Engine 1 pried the doors open. One by one, the slightly sweaty but otherwise cheerful occupants hopped off the elevator and proceeded to hack, network, browse and innovate for the remainder of the afternoon.
HEALTHY COUNTY ... Residents of Santa Clara County have something to cheer during this year's National Public Health Week, which began April 2. According to a new survey from the American Public Health Association, they live in the second healthiest county in California. The group has just released its County Health Rankings, an initiative that considers factors such as mortality rate, smoking rates and clinical care and pollution in determining the overall health of each county. The survey ranked 56 California counties (two counties weren't on the list) and found Santa Clara County trailing only Marin County on its health rankings. The county placed a bit above San Mateo County (fifth) and well above San Francisco (24th). At the bottom of the scale are two counties in the far north of the state — Del Norte and Trinity. Residents who wish to survey other states or get more information about public heath in particular counties can do so at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
OSCAR SEASON ... Palo Alto's top officials engaged in a rapid-fire exchange of snappy questions and abbreviated answers last week during the city's second Twitter Q&A. The conversation included questions about a new downtown residential parking-permit program (the city will decide in June whether to launch it), the number of retired workers who returned to City Hall as contractors ("More than we'd like to have," was City Manager James Keene's laconic response), and whether Mayor Yiaway Yeh enjoyed acting in a promotional video advertising the "Super Happy Block Party." The video features an awestruck mayor confronted in an alleyway by a zombie-like gang of gadget-wielding "nerds." "Fun, but I'm no actor," Yeh responded and quoted the director who told him, "You need to look more scared than that." Keene was more complimentary. "Look for Mayor @YiawayYeh at the Oscars next year," Keene tweeted.