Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On the road again: TEDActive, day 3

Before I dive into today's events, I owe you a few happy snaps.  Let's start with the view as you step out of my room, turn left, and face the main part of the resort. 

(As always, click on an image to see a larger one.)

Yeah, it's beautiful here. 

The TED swag bag is also a requirement.  This year, they offered four different bags.  I arrived too late to get the Techie bag--it was gone before we reached the resort--so I opted for the Creative one. 

Again, not too shabby. 

The main room where we gather for the talks is a nifty space, as you can see in this photo as we were all rushing to our seats for this morning's pre-session discussions. 

One of the treats of the morning was a bit of traditional Indian dance and then a bit of Bollywood dancing from a tremendously talented Indian woman whose name I am embarrassed to admit I did not get.  After she got the audience going, the TEDActive hosts asked her to come on stage and lead all those interested in a short Bollywood number.  Here's the result. 

Lunch today was outside in the Quad, with food courtesy of three food trucks. 

Again, not too shabby on the scenery front. 

For dinner, we rode buses into old La Quinta and ate from a selection of half a dozen food trucks, while a Cuban band we'd seen from Long Beach played live for us. 

Dessert was courtesy of a cupcake food truck.  I particularly enjoyed the Food Network award-winning bacon cupcake. 

Yeah, no matter what you may think, it was tasty.  Of course, to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I also tried the double-chocolate; I felt I owed it to all of you to make sure multiple cupcakes were good.

Okay, enough of the pictures.  Don't expect any more from me; I just owed you some.

Today's talks ran the gamut from one that wandered relatively pointlessly through many good ones to a few that really touched me in different ways.  The musical performances were also interesting, with Beardyman being fun and interesting but the young Sleepy Man Banjo Boys (the Mizzone brothers from New Jersey; they're 15, 14, and 10, and the ten-year-old banjo wizard is the star) just stealing the show with wonderful bluegrass. 

The cumulative effect of the talks is more interesting to me today than any single talk:  I come away tired but exhilarated, thrilled to have had the time to think about so many different topics in so many different ways. 

Two themes spanned many talks:  how to help the bottom 20 (or greater) economic percent of the U.S. and the world, and how to fix education, a challenge that is related to the first theme. 

As a father of a twenty-two-year-old daughter and a son about to turn twenty, I was also quite interested in what clinical psychologist Meg Jay had to say.  (I don't want to use this forum in any way to try to direct advice to my kids, so I hope they don't think I am.)  Her basic tenet was that thirty is not the new twenty, that instead the twenties are a key time for developing yourself.  She argued that the twenty-somethings should develop identity capital now, that the urban tribe is over-rated, and that the time to pick your family is now.  Interesting stuff, and she presented it compellingly. 

The talk that most touched my heart was by a TED staffer, Lisa Bu.  Staff don't normally give talks, but she had done a version of this at a TED retreat, and after hearing it, they put her on stage.  I'm glad they did.  She talked about how books and her love of reading saved her, and she argued for reading related books in pairs.  She also had one of my favorite lines of TED so far, which I will attempt to quote here but will probably have at least slightly wrong:
Coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. Getting in touch with where dreams come from, where happiness comes from, where passion comes from, is also the purpose of a dream.

I love that.  I sincerely and deeply do. 

Near the end of the day, they awarded the TED Prize to Sugata Mitra, an Indian educator who has done amazing things simply by leaving computers lying around for poor kids to experiment with.  When his talk goes online, definitely check it out.

I could go on and on, but the sessions start early, and I need some sleep. 

In closing, though, I want to say this.  I rarely socialize at TEDActive.  I am one of the older people here.  I don't feel like I belong (of course, I never do).  I wander around feeling alienated and out of place and wishing I knew how to fit in (which is also the norm).  No single talk utterly blew me away.

And I already want to come back next year. 

That, for me, is perhaps the biggest magic trick of TED/TEDActive.

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