18 July 2007

IDDS -- a month of Fridays

I think...we're finally through the valley of death [knockonwood knockonwood]. The last four days have been killer. All the organizers have literally been working 18+ hour days...and I'm fucking tired, but very very very content. Today, official day #2, was not so bad, and hopefully, tomorrow will be better. I've been so worried about the participants, worried about their flights, making sure they arrive safely here, have food to eat, sheets on their beds, pans in their kitchens...hahaha...latest fiasco -- scholarship checks. We have stipends for living expenses for a few participants while they're here. They are in check form. I started passing out a few checks and got a lot of blank stares. It seems many had never seen a check before. Makes sense in retrospect--why would you need checks if you live in a village in Tanzania? Here I was, I had written out these nice set of instructions with a map about where to cash the check, and suddenly it felt very very dangerous to hand this precious slip of paper to someone and have them try to cash it on their own. Especially when they would need the money for buying food. Great, I thought, I just organize a little field trip to the bank and we can all go together. Haha. The IDDS schedule is so bloody packed it's been infuriatingly impossible to find a time to take people over. Must try again tomorrow, not a complete disaster because we've been feeding them three meals a day so far.

Not to mention that I'm now locked out of my dorm because our keynote speaker, Paul Polak, has my room key, Amy Smith's room key, and my MIT ID card that I use to swipe into the dorm. And now he's in New York. I drove him to the airport, and he borrowed it (it was all on the same keychain) to get his bag out of Amy's room. We both forgot he had it and now it's far away. He's supposed to mail it to me, but I just discovered Tim sent me a postcard weeks ago to my address, and it's lost...meaning that the keys and such are likely to get lost too. WOOHOO! Bring it on. Besides, Paul Polak is an appropriate technology god, and in some twisted way, it's kind of cool that I lost my stuff to him.

Anyway, today was splendid. This really is a magnificent event. The energy is overwhelming. Tonight we had a mind smashingly awesome presentation from Peter Girguis, a professor at Harvard that harnesses microbes in dirt to make electricity. Seriously. And Shawn Frayne, D-Lab alum, who's inventing a revolutionary, deceptively simple, micro wind generator that uses a vibrating membrane. Kind of like the Tacoma Narrows bridge on a small scale. Bloody amazing.

...AND I LEARNED HOW TO SAY THANK YOU IN TIBETAN. (sounds kind of like "qua-gin-ch")

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