Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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If we were having coffee I would tell you about my exciting week attending events at the TenWest Festival. This Tucson startup/tech conference is a tiny infant version of South by Southwest, the festival in Austin that has grown exponentially. The 30 year old Austin festival is the Tucson Gem Show of trendy startup tech parties. I have not attended, but would no longer really want to go just because it is so crowded and popular. Our own home grown business incubator has organized the Tucson festival around our unique qualities.
The keynote I attended was the one about our designation by UNESCO as a city of gastronomy. I knew about it, but was interested in how it came into being and what it would mean for the city in real terms. A well known local chef, an archaeologist, a writer, a tourism PR professional, and the director of the Mission Garden spoke on the subject. We received the designation because a group spearheaded by the archeological interest group proved to UNESCO that Tucson had the oldest agricultural history in the country, documented to be more than 4,000 years in existence. The first application was rejected, but the committee gave some guidance about how to strengthen it in order to be designated. On the second try we got the coveted city of gastronomy designation. It is much more than just a vibrant restaurant scene, as our speakers explained. Food and sustainability are big interests of mine so the presentation fascinated me. I took my neighbor Heidi to that day because she is also a food diva.
Heidi and I attended two workshops before the keynote that pretty well blew our minds. The first on 3 D printing was presented by an architecture professor from U of A and an engineer currently engaged in the field of 3 D printing. We saw examples both on the screen and on the display table of objects created by 3D printers. The capability to produce small individual manufactured products has become not only affordable but incredibly controllable. I was highly enlightened by this class because my previous understanding was zilch.
After a delicious lunch we went to a presentation by Jerzy Rozenblit, PHD, a professor of surgery at the medical school at U of A. He is developing a simulator for surgeons to practice laparoscopic surgery. This is needed because it takes time and practice to become proficient in this art. Currently this practice takes place on live humans. The obvious benefit of more training before reaching into a living person became clear when we saw examples of the training data. The students “under the hood” have to learn to smooth out their movements while maneuvering two long instruments to do an operation. The tracking device on the simulator shows how erratic and out of control the student can be on initial attempts. Over time (an estimated 300 hours is needed to become really good at this) the sensor shows the device going smoothly and directly to the target organ in the body. This work will definitely save some lives.
I took two very well presented workshops on podcasting. We learned both about the popularity and effectiveness of the trend, but the specifics of getting started. Our teachers were working professionals in the field of marketing and audio engineering. The sessions were jam packed with information, and like all the presenters they invited the audience to visit them in person or on line to stay in touch. They could not have been more cordial. The fellow participants I met were equally charming and insightful. I feel sure this even will grow. I am pleased I went to see what they are doing this year. I am proud of my city’s efforts to stay on the cutting edge of technology, art and community. The major funding comes from Cox Business, which deserves a lot of credit for serving our local businesses so well. They gave away $50,000 in a shark tank style contest as well as funding much of the activity during the festival. I am their customer, so i like seeing some of the profit be plowed directly back into innovation in Tucson.
Tomorrow is Cyclovia, a super fun bicycle event taking place close to my home. I don’t always go on my bike, but this time it starts at my beloved Tucson Botanical Garden, where all participants will be invited to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit gratis. I am a local first kind of person. I like to support my local merchants and non profits because my own quality of life depends on it. I have been very uplifted by my city this week, as I will be tomorrow biking around in summer weather with my fellow Tucsonans. We live in a fabulous city with diverse cultural and commercial interests.
I am serving both coffee and tea this weekend. Please help yourself. I am drinking medium roast coffee right now to jump start this day. There is a lavish buffet of finger sandwiches, potato salad, raw vegetables, the pickles I made last week, stuffed peppers, and vegetable stew. I picked up another 60 pounds of produce again today and can use your help in eating it all. I am starting my first fermented pickles later from the beautiful pickling cucumbers I just scored. I have fermented lots of foods, but never tried pickles. Wish me luck with this chemistry experiment. You will be able to taste them some weekend soon. I am going to focus on heavy garlic and dill flavors.
What has been happening in your part of the world, gentle reader? If you want to share, or read personal tales from writers visit our group here, at Diana’s weekend international coffee share. Pour yourself a cup, fill your plate, and stay a while. Tell us what is on your mind.
I traveled from midtown to downtown Tucson yesterday to attend the TenWest Festival. This week-long entertainment and educational event is sponsored by local businesses to promote the retention of talent in town. This miniature knock off of the 30 year old South by Southwest event that happens in Austin each year is a distinct reflection of our community. Volunteer staff organizes the flow of students, speakers, and social gatherings.
I attended two excellent workshops on podcasting. Both speakers were well prepared with visual aids and stimulating material. Best of all, they are both true experts in the field. Dave Young is a marketing and content professional who helps small businesses develop materials. He has been podcasting for and with his clients to bring their messages to the public. He explained the explosive growth in podcasting and some of the reasons for the popularity of audio programs. His very enlightening presentation was followed by a more technical workshop by Bjorgvin Benediktsson, a professional audio engineer. These classes continue all week. At the end of the day a keynote speaker and a social hour are planned each day. Our speaker and social hour were upstaged yesterday by a sudden thunderstorm.
This is an odd time of year for rain in Arizona, but about 10 minutes into the social hour we heard a very loud thunderclap echo between the tall buildings where we were stationed. Shortly the rain was pouring and the winds was whipping the signs and tents around like crazy. There was a river running through it. The volunteers all had to scramble to keep the stuff from blowing into the air and doing some damage. Since the bar was set up with a special permit that was only valid for the outdoor space the few of us who were outside had to chug our drinks and run into a building. There were two of us there who had umbrellas…I was proud to one of them. The party made an attempt at restarting inside the building, but most people had scattered to the hard driving wind. I called my Uber and made my way home.
I will go on Wednesday to learn about 3 D printing and artificial intelligence. The speaker and social hour will be about our city’s special gastronomic designation from UNESCO. The food peeps will be there, and we can only hope we will have clear skies. On Friday there will be TED talk and two concerts from which to choose. I love our little start-up convention, which is only in the second year of its existence. I believe it has major potential to achieve its goal and to bring visitors from out of town to the event in the future. Our downtown has been revitalized by a tram system, and is starting to be as hip as Austin. I hope we can retain our hipness without acquiring the traffic problem they have in Austin. Wish us luck.
If we were having coffee I would tell you that my quiet, at-home routine will be suspended this week. I have signed up for TenWest, a Festival to mimic South by Southwest in Austin. There is a plethora of educational, social, and artistic content offered. The week-long event began last night. The first event I will attend is a big concert in a local park very near my home. During the week my plans include a couple of workshops on podcasting, one about 3D printing, and a symposium about our special city of gastronomy designation. I may attend the final concert and the TED talk also, even though they are past my regular bed time. This will be a great week of learning and entertainment for me. My schedule rarely gets this crowded, but this will be worth the effort. I look forward to learning a lot. I should have lots to share with you next weekend.
I can offer you coffee, or all kinds of tea again this week. I am lingering over iced roiboos tropics while we savor a heat wave here. Summer is still with us, which means my big stand-off with tidy muse has not yet been resolved. I am still wearing shorts and summer dresses. It was 94 yesterday, so there is no rush to get out the winter gear. I have promised myself that the big clothing purge will take place when I do the seasonal switch of my wardrobe. I have inquired about giving my friend and neighbor some of the jackets..but that does not really count. I am still just procrastinating…in flip flops and shorts. This too will pass.
Please help yourself to soup shots. On the buffet you will find white demi tasse cups and saucers. Serve yourself from the wide selection of soups. We have sweet pepper cream, corn bisque, tomato basil, minestrone, gaspacho,winter squash and ginger, with all your favorite toppings. Add sliced green onions, crispy fried shallots, croutons, nuts, or grated cheese to complete your composition. Although it is still warm, the produce season is leading us into winter. A light meal featuring all these different seasonal delights is a great way to share this fall weather and our news. Who doesn’t like soup? Enjoy the sensuality of the season with all the colors, tastes and aromas. Hang out and tell us what you have been doing.
In the winter months Tucson is lucky to be served by the Santa Cruz County Food Bank. The excess produce from the big produce wholesalers in Nogales is shipped to Tucson and sold. For 60 pounds of produce we pay $10.00. This boon to our budget is very welcome, since fresh fruit and vegetables make up a big proportion of our diet. My partner had to work today (Saturday), but he called me while he was out on calls to let me know that the food distribution had started in the neighborhood. The scheduled start was Nov. 3, but they had produce, so they began today. What an excellent October surprise this is!!! The truck was full of squash, coconut, tomatoes, cucumbers, two kinds of sweet chiles, and watermelon. I give away as much as I can to neighbors, and then get to work roasting and processing it before it goes bad. I will be charcoal grilling vegetables for a few hours today. I love the smokey flavors it imparts to all the dishes I make with them. If you stay for a while you can taste some tomatoes fresh off the grill with some pesto I made this week. I promises to be a very delicious day.
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