Friday, September 25, 2009

IdeaFestival = Nerd Christmas

Dear Louisville,

I love you.

I know in the past week you've dumped so much rain on us that my undies are damp even before I put them on. I take some responsibility for that. I could close up the windows and turn on the AC and dry Casa Lou out. But it's been cool and lovely, despite the rain. And while every surface of my house feels like an energetic puppy dog came in and licked it, I just can't, in good conscience, dole out those hard earned dineros to LG&E.

And I know that in two months or maybe three, you and I will have serious issues. Once late fall/early winter rolls in, I will be gnashing my teeth, cursing your arctic damp cold, hating the fact that you are several states north of the tropics. I promise, when those days come about I will try to remember how much I love you now, right now, at this moment.

Because this week, I love you lots. Heaps. Tons. Because this week has been IdeaFestival 2009.

Thanks to my friend @mizhellion who could not use the all-access IdeaFest pass she won via Twitter, I have been able to partake in as many IdeaFestival events as my work schedule has allowed. Two years ago, I also had an all-access pass (last year I couldn't do any IdeaFest stuff because of chemo) and was likewise enamored. See my coverage of IdeaFestival 2006 here.

Louisville, IdeaFestival represents the best that you have to offer. In the three days that I've attended IdeaFestival events, I have heard again and again from out of town visitors how impressed they are with you. Despite the shitty weather. Despite the fact that some of the visitors are staying in crappy hotels.

Today was the first day I could nick out of work early and hit a couple of great lectures. I saw John McPherson, the creator of the Close to Home daily comic-- one of the few comics in the newspaper that are worth reading these days. I missed the first half of his presentation; by the time I got there he was reading readers' letters responding to some of his more controversial comics. Hilarious.

Then I got to see Paul Osterlund, a man who retired from Intel and then set his sights on social entrepreneurialism. He invested in a substance called Zeba, a starch-based material that kind of looks like Grape-Nuts that holds 500% its mass in water. While Zeba has many industrial and commercial uses, Osterlund is most interested in promoting its use in arid and struggling climates. Bury a teaspoon or less of Zeba in the ground when you plant a seed, and when rains come, it will soak up 500% of its mass in water and then feed that water to your plant during dry spells.

Osterlund gave each of his audience members 1 teaspoon of the stuff. Geek that I am, I rushed home and tried it out. I poured around 1/8 of a teaspoon in a saucer and then added a few squirts of water. By the time I'd gone to the bathroom and come out, the Zeba had overflowed the saucer. So I poured the saucer into a measuring cup and kept adding more water. Five hours later, I am still adding more water to that 1/8 teaspoon of Zeba. So far, it has successfully turned more than a cup of water into jelly.

Sorry, Louisville, I didn't mean to let my Mythbusters-esque geekdom take hold of this blog entry. I'm trying to celebrate YOU, my adopted hometown.

So, Louisville, I love you for so many reasons, but I love you tonight because tonight you hosted a sold-out crowd of folk who wanted to listen to Anthony Bourdain speak at the Kentucky Center. Sold out. And when Bourdain took the stage, before he even spoke a word you gave him a standing ovation.

My favorite quote of the night, Bourdain said: "Not giving a shit turned out to be a good business model."

Dear Louisville, I love you. I love you most when you are showcasing the cutting edge, when you are celebrating the radical, when you are highlighting the best we have to offer.

In a couple of months, we'll be at odds. Tonight, though, I love you Louisville.



EricaThomas said...

Wow, great post. I also attended a few sessions in the past and also this year, when schedules would allow. I got a sample of Zeba too, but haven't tried it yet. Thanks for your blog!

Anonymous said...

Did you share Roommate's San Antonio story? Closing down a local's bar in a foreign city is something Roommate does a lot. A hell of a lot. And this past ten days I was in San Antonio working but before the work, hanging. At a little pub, I sat with bartenders and their friends (a bit after closing time) and was asked where I was from. Answered: "I live in Louisville right now, but before that New Orleans and Knoxville and other smaller cities in the south, grew up in Indiana, and am in New York City and Boston for a couple weeks every few months." Response from cute chick in the crowd, "My sister told me once that her visit to Louisville made it her favorite city."

I'm just reporting the facts, ma'am.

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