Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bookshelf: Genes & Julia

Latte ArtI've been reading Steve Olsen's Mapping Human History, which looks at genetics through the lens of ancient history and describes possible migration patterns that brought the human species from the couple of people we're descended from who lived in Africa 100,000 - 150,000 years ago to the 6.7 billion humans we are today.

The big reveal: A few mutations and 150,000 years and it turns out we're all descended from a half-human, half-Cylon hybrid kid named Hera - if one were inclined to mix their media like that. But really, he spends a lot of time methodically disproving the teabagger-types and talking about how, genetically-speaking, we're all much, much more similar than we are different and how race is a social construct and not a genetic fact. The actual surprise is that that's still news.

One of the more interesting sections examines the biologically Jewish population, a distinction that it wouldn't have occurred to me to make. The discussion also reminded me that I've never read the Bible and maybe I should. Ultimately I found the cultural implications of migration more interesting than the biological ones, but still glad I read this.

Also, just finished Julie Powell's Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. For the most part, I'm inspired to stay far away from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But then, I'm biased right now since I didn't like Julie Powell's book - maybe the movie's better? It got better the less time she spent feeling sorry for herself.

I'm feeling burnt still from the last few months of craziness, so I've been burying myself in books and the television I've missed. On the reading, I think Freakanomics is next. And I've finally caught up to television on Mad Men and How I Met Your Mother and now have a crush on Neil Patrick Harris. Dollhouse next?

Monday, October 12, 2009

What's Next?

Setting the SceneWell, it's done. FMC Policy Summit 2009 is over. I'm very proud of the conference we put on. I'm also in an unfamiliar place personally as a result. This multi-day, three-ring circus of a conference has been my goal for a few years...and now it's a goal attained.

Graduating high school and college count as milestones reached, but those were expectations as much as achievements and weren't choices I made. Moving to DC and making a life here is a personal goal that I've also seen through (four years today, as a matter of fact!) Organizing this conference was different though, because it was the first long-term professional goal that I chose and embraced.

What also makes this moment unique for me is that there isn't an obvious next step. When I graduated from high school, the next step was college. When I graduated college, the next step was getting a job that had something to do with college. Those were questions and answers that were anticipated and prepared for. But I didn't anticipate these questions to spring up right now: What's the next big goal? What drives me professionally now? Are incremental goals enough for the moment?

All questions I'll be figuring out how to answer. But don't mistake me, this is a very cool place to be. Having decided to do something and then succeeding is a point of pride and glee.


Self-Portrait: me & ShayneAs to the conference itself, here were a few of the moments that stand out:

- The sight of the line to get into our SRO crowd on the first day. I know we put on a great conference, but I never really believe other people agree until they start arriving
- Finally getting to see Copyright Criminals; trailer here
- Rob Kaye's hair (one day we'll get him to dye/shave the FMC logo into his head before he arrives)
- We had to get a campus group to relocate their canned food drive when we arrived which resulted in statements like "I gotta go get rid of the food drive."
- Maps, directions, signs, maps, more directions, bad directions, driving directions, what if they take our signs down?, no clue how to direct you here, and the wonderful volunteers who took it upon themselves to stand at strategic locations and direct people
- Sorta making the live video feed work and "beaming" Peter DiCola in for the sampling panel
- The rock show...and having already seen it before so missing the last half wasn't so tragic
- Scene from Office Space + the room above + two turntables = Mike Relm soundchecking on Tuesday morning
- Our closing night cocktail party at the Eighteenth Street Lounge
- Thursday evening after the Summit at 7:46 PM, when I shut my computer down and realized the marathon was over