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April 15, 2012

Well, my brain is a little fried right now. I guess understandably so. I’ve been talking, thinking about talking, listening and, well, talking for four or five hours.

But now it’s all done.

This morning Oskar, Chris and I met up to practice our pitches. Then, we walked over to the Palace of Fine Arts. And honestly, I was brought back to remembering when I came here with my family and looked at the set of buildings (at the time I didn’t know what they were) and said to myself that I would be back here. And maybe I’m making that memory up, but if not, isn’t that kind of incredible? That I did come back, and for such an insane reason?

 Anyways, we enjoyed the sunshine (I now have a dress tan) and took lots of pictures.

 Then we had a walk-through for the pitch session (fun facts: the auditorium for our lightning talks was one that the Glee cast performed in – their set list was still taped to the walls backstage; there was also a cardboard cutout of Angelina Jolie that gave me a lot of street cred among the boys when I pointed it out and actually brought people over to see it).

 We went for brunch at (one of?) Peter Thiel’s house(s?). Wonderful food, lots of mingling, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream bar on the roof, rooftop DJ, but at the same time it was understated extravagance if that even makes sense. I ran into quite a few interesting people – one woman, Jade, was working for NASA as a neuroscience researcher, but then a few months ago decided to start up her own social dining business (where people pay to eat ‘out’ at each others’ homes). I also ate way too many cookies. Oh well. Lots of talking and walking.

 We headed back to the auditorium to begin the Lightning Talks – 2 minutes, no exceptions (they actually cut the mikes out on a few different people who went over). They were going in alpha order by first name so I was one of the first to go, which honestly was the best thing because that meant I could really listen to others give their pitches. And although I had heard a bunch of these people talk I really hadn’t heard these condensed versions of their ideas. It was neat to see the range of different areas and problems people were trying to address.

 I was really happy with my pitch, so that was good. Oskar also did great, so even better!

 Then we went to the ‘Mentor Match’ speed networking round when people came up to us and started asking us more questions about our ideas. I had a few really great conversations with people – ranging from industrial engineers to nanotech people, to software startup founders – really all about what my idea was and how it could be better. I was describing to one of my friends (crazy that I’ve already made friends here) that it felt like the people were poking at and playing with my idea, but in the best way possible. I had a separate page in my little notebook for each person and I honestly have so many avenues to explore based on what we discussed. Overall, it was so rewarding. Exhausting, but rewarding.

 I also ate a lot of cookies. This seems to be a recurring trend.

 Anyways, after the mentor match thing it was about 8:00, and we were originally planning to take a walk to the Golden Gate Bridge, but were convinced that a) it was too far and too cold, and b) that because I was Yuri Gagarin Day (first man in space) there was going to be a lot of revellers out making trouble. Pretty sure the person who told us the second thing was joking, or just had very different expectations of what these spaceman parties would look like – we saw fireworks, but nothing much else – no people wearing space suits walking around.

 We (Oskar, Chris, me and Charlie, a great guy who’s all about disrupting education. He also rows crew) ended up walking around the area near the hotel, just talking. Mostly about the differences between Canada and the US, most of which involve health care, hamburger joints and two-party systems. It doesn’t sound as funny as it was. It was funny. You’ll have to take my word for it. We also talked about punctuation. Again, riveting. I’m not being sarcastic.

 And now I’m here, typing this out before I collapse into bed. We’re getting up early to go to the Golden Gate Bridge tomorrow. 



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