Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Applied Materials


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s travels usually take him to all corners of the globe, but this week he made the rounds in Silicon Valley. His itinerary included a visit to Applied Materials’ Maydan Technology Center, a state-of-the art semiconductor R&D lab in Sunnyvale.

CEO Gary Dickerson showed him around, and Blinken got to see a silicon wafer and interact with bunny-suited engineers. One of the technologists at the lab even gave Blinken the perfect souvenir to take back to Washington, D.C. —  a chunk of pure silicon.

Peggy Marcucci, Applied’s senior director of corporate communications, joked to the surprised diplomat, “Don’t worry, in this state it’s only worth about 50 cents so it’s well under the federal gift limit.”

The only better souvenir would be a bunny suit inscribed “I visited Silicon Valley, and I all I got was this lousy bunny suit.” So at least he can display the silicon on his desk.

The rest of Blinken’s trip included a stop at Stanford University, where he had an on-stage conversation at the Hoover Institution with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and also toured the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, where he was joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Anna Eshoo.

BOOS AND BOOZE: History Park in San Jose is gearing up for spooky season, with the return of its Halloween Haunt Light Show projected on the front of the Pacific Hotel building each night for the last two weekends in October. And while that’s a family-friendly production, there’s a new draw for grown-ups, too: On Friday nights (Oct. 21 and Oct. 28), the 21-and-over crowd can enjoy “Slash & Sip,” partaking in a Halloween-themed cocktail, wine or beer while carving and decorating pumpkins after the last light show starts.

The light show runs 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, with food trucks on site and a singing pumpkin patch. On Sundays, families can take part in crafts and other activities while trick-or-treating at History Park’s historic homes and replica buildings from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.  Get more information at

SPINNING A GOOD YARN: More than 320 volunteers spent Oct. 8 making wigs styled after Disney characters for kids battling cancer and other medical hair loss for the Magic Yarn Project at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Saratoga. The amateur wigmakers — who got training the night before — were a multigenerational crowd, with Girl Scout troops, parents and kids, and knitting groups working together in teams of two to produce 160 wigs.

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