What I’ve been up to

30May11

So, no posts since May 5. Huh. That’s not good, is it? Things have been a little bit crazy busy here in the life of Mads, particularly work-wise. How about a quick run down of various things I’ve been up to, and then some photos after that? Ok. Here goes:

Had dinner with strangers

Grubwithus is a new website over here in the States. They organise group dinners at local restaurants, you sign up, browse what’s on offer and buy a ticket, and then go along and have dinner with seven other people, who are usually strangers. I was a bit nervous about the whole thing, but it worked out fantastically – great food and even better people. A few other people at my meal had been to previous dinners where this one guy in particular was an enormous arsehole, so it sounds like I really lucked out with the folks I ended up with. I’m intending to do it again, once things get a little less crazy busy for me.

Toured the embassies of European Union nations

Cultural Tourism DC is a coalition of various groups in the area. They put on some fantastic events throughout the year, the biggest of which are the embassy tours. Every year many of the embassies in DC throw open their doors for visitors – European Union countries one weekend, and the “rest of the world” the following week.

Why doesn’t Canberra do this?! It’s awesome! I’ve got a heap of photos to post separately, but for the sake of reference the EU embassies I visited were: Great Britain, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, and Luxembourg.

Toured embassies of non-European Union nations

The following weekend I went even more hardcore with my embassy visiting, and managed to visit fifteen countries in all: South Korea, Japan, Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Croatia, Haiti, the Bahamas, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ghana, and Ethiopia. I was a little tired at the end of that.

Saw a New Zealand film at the National Museum of the American Indian

Film Forward is a program organised by the Sundance Film Institute, designed to “enhance cross-cultural understanding, collaboration and dialogue around the globe by engaging audiences through the exhibition of film and conversation with filmmakers.” I think that’s being just a teeny bit ambitious, but whatever the original purpose it did mean that I got to see Boy from New Zealand, the highest grossing movie of all time in that country. If you haven’t seen Boy yet please let me shame you into seeing it as soon as humanly possible: this movie is amazing, and you are a lesser human being if you miss out. So good.

Also good was the fact that the filmmaker, Taika Waititi, was at the screening and did a Q&A afterwards. For once the questions were vaguely decent, with only one idiot complaining about having difficulty understanding the Maori accents in the film. Waititi responded like a champ, saying something along the lines of, “the rest of the world has to put up with American accents on tv and in movies all the time. You can tough it out with my accent for two hours.”

Also also good (in a very nerdy way): Alfre Woodard introduced the movie. I resisted the urge to ask her to say, “you broke your little ships.”

Went to a lecture on crowdsourcing at NARA

Basically what it says on up there in the title. Included presentations from representatives from ancestry.com, the New York Public Library, and the U.S. Geological Survey’s North American Bird Phenology Program. Matt Knutzen from the NYPL Maps Division was particularly impressive – they’re doing incredible things “rectifying” historical maps so you can see geographic changes over time.

Heard Gordon S. Wood speak at NARA

Gordon S. Wood is one of, if not the, leading historians of the American Revolution; indeed his book The Radicalism of the American Revolution won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. I read quite a bit of his work back in the day when I was studying the American Revolution and the writing of the Constitution, so it was pretty exciting to be able to hear him speak, this time about his new book The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States. Interesting discussion, and the questions afterwards were surprisingly good, too. Unfortunately I seem to have lost all the notes I took on the night, so I don’t have anything else to say on this one.

(Except, wow, reading Wood’s wikipedia page, turns out his doctoral advisor was Bernard Bailyn. Talk about big shoes to fill.)

Spent five days in North Carolina at a conference on racism

I think this will end up being the most intense and eye-opening experiences of my entire time over here, which is not something you can usually say about a conference. I went with work (the organisation I’m with was helping with the running of the event) so I don’t want to say too much here, but sufficed to say it was awesome and interesting and exhausting and emotionally draining and fantastic… all at once. Several days later I’m still processing the whole thing in my mind, and I think I will be for a while.

If nothing else, I got to stay at the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa – there are definitely worse ways to spend a few days than in those surroundings.

Spent the day at the beach

This only happened yesterday! So at the very least I’m writing about this on time. It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the US, which is the unofficial start of summer. Went with the housemates to a local pseudo beach (it’s actually on a river, not the sea) for the full American Memorial Day experience. Will post photos separately!

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One Response to “What I’ve been up to”


  1. 1 Taika in Taos « WORLD OF TAIKA

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