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illustration by Julie Teninbaum

Fast Company

Calendar: What's Happening October 2008

What's happening in October, from National Boss Day to trick-or-treating.

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Week 1

wed, october 01
Don't Leave Home
50TH Anniversary of the American Express Card

The piece of purple Yahoo paper that went out to some 200,000 Americans (including Elvis) in 1958 has evolved into the iconic green card, as well as one in black titanium (the ultraexclusive, can't-even-apply-for-it Centurion Card). But such prestige and longevity haven't translated into stock-market joy this year. Visa's stock rose 30% in the four months following its March 18 IPO, while MasterCard was up almost 40%. AmEx saw a measly increase of just 1%. -- Chip McCorkle

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wed, october 01
Compute
Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing
Keystone, Colorado

Nearly 60% of college undergrads are female, yet they earn just 12% of computer-science degrees, down from a 1985 peak of 38%. That disparity is unmatched even in related fields such as math and engineering, and Deanna Kosaraju, program director for this eighth annual pep rally, blames an image problem: "There's the stereotype of the nerd in his Birkenstocks, who sits in his cubicle coding all day." So at this four-day get-together, named in honor of a pioneering computer scientist, 1,600 women will reaffirm that computing can be social -- mixers and mentoring events abound. They will also discuss their profession's civic influence, which extends far beyond the cube, from improving cell-phone service in Africa to designing clothing sensors for wandering Alzheimer's patients. -- Kate Rockwood

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thu, october 02
Endure
UBS Extraordinary Shareholder Meeting
Basel, Switzerland

The name UBS originally stood for Union Bank of Switzerland, but these days, Under Big Stress would be more appropriate. So far this year, it has posted $22 billion in losses, was sued for fraud by the the State of New York, and is under investigation by the U.S. government for allegedly helping wealthy Americans evade taxes. Against that extraordinary backdrop comes this extraordinary meeting, at which four members of its board will be replaced. UBS's new chairman, Peter Kurer, may wish to show more humility than his predecessor, Marcel Ospel, did at the last special meeting, in February. On that occasion, Ospel responded to the criticism of unhappy shareholders (one told him to "stick to your knitting") by proclaiming: "Popularity is not a benchmark against which we measure our actions." Six weeks later, he was forced to resign. -- Jeff Chu

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sat, october 04
Drive
Paris Motor Show
Paris

Fuel-efficient autos will dominate the world's biggest car fest. Several new Prius rivals will be on display, incsluding Honda's Global Hybrid and GM's Chevrolet Volt. But we're betting that the star of the biennial show, which draws 1 million attendees, will be a new, sexy, and surprisingly green machine from Ferrari called the California. This sports car has specs as seductive as its lines: 0 to 60 in under 4 seconds, and 21 mpg. In Ferrariland, that's thrifty (even if the car's expected sticker price of $300,000 isn't) -- the automaker's 612 Scaglietti notches 11 mpg, 4 mpg less than a Hummer. -- Theunis Bates

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Week 2

mon, october 06
Break
GlassBuild America 2008
Las Vegas

When the 9,000 vitreophiles (noun, from "vitrum," Latin for "glass," and "philos," Greek for "lover") descend on Vegas, plenty of them will flock to the forums on glazing and the state of the window-and-door industry. We reckon the excitement will be at the American Master Installer Auto Glass Championship, where 10 expert windshield repairers will face off for a chance to represent the red, white, and blue at the International Master Fitter Competition later this month in Germany. Smashing! -- Clayton Neuman

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mon, october 06
Applaud
2008 Nobel Prize Announcements
Stockholm and Oslo

For two weeks, Scandinavians will honor a few really important people whom we've probably never heard of but whose work is changing our lives. That got us thinking about how, even in death, Alfred Nobel is cutting edge. The Swedish chemist, inven-tor of dynamite, and eventual pacifist wrote the textbook on how to buy a posthumous legacy, bequeathing 31 million Swedish kronor (or $121.6 billion U.S. today) to establish the Nobel prizes. Forever linked to quantum optics, embryonic stem cells, DNA decoding, and intergovernmental climate change? Not bad for a dude who died in 1896. -- KR

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Week 3

mon, october 13
Solar Power Conference & Expo
San Diego

In energy, the solar lifestyle is (bad pun alert) the hottest thing going. With its power-generating panels and earth-friendly water heaters, the solar biz is growing 40% annually, in part because consumers think that buying new gewgaws to help them be greener is more exciting than just turning off the lights. Attendees can see such technology at the expo, as well as in tours of solar-powered homes, offered as part of San Diego's Solar Energy Week. After the sun goes down, at a block party in the aptly named Gaslamp Quarter, industry insiders can plan old-school power's obsolescence as they marvel at how people used to live. -- J.L. August

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fri, october 17
Watch
Flash of Genius
Starring Greg Kinnear, Lauren Graham, and Alan Alda

True Hollywood story: In the 1960s, Robert Kearns invented intermittent windshield wipers, which for the first time gave drivers the ability to adjust their speeds. (Cf. GlassBuild 2008 on the 6th: Should this be National Windshield Month?) He tried to sell his device to automakers. They didn't buy. But within a few years, Detroit was churning out cars with the equipment. Kearns sued Ford, Chrysler, and 24 other firms, winning more than $30 million after years of court battles. The New Yorker did a story on him, and now actor Greg Kinnear is playing him on the big screen. Kearns won't be at the premiere; he died in 1995. At the time, said The Washington Post, he had two cars, neither equipped with intermittent wipers. -- JC

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sun, october 19
Play House
Mortgage Banking Association Annual Convention
San Francisco

Industrywide layoffs, record home foreclosures, the wrath of millions upon millions of Americans -- this gathering of 4,000 mortgage executives could be the biggest downer of the year. Expect the session "Coping, Controlling, Capitalizing" -- which promises to tell attendees how to survive and thrive in what organizers have chosen to call a "constantly changing environment" -- to fill up early. And on the final night of the convention, attendees can dance their misery away to a Beatles tribute band. Repeated requests for "Help!" guaranteed. -- TB

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Week 4

wed, october 22
Outsmart
WCECS 08
San Francisco

The World Congress on Engineering and Computer Science crams the collective IQ of a large nation into a small convention space in which geniuses try to one-up one another with their latest research. The topics last year ranged from -- stay with us here -- "expressed sequence tags of coccolithophorids" (to you and me, algae) to "a method for location management strategy in cellular mobile networks." But the most notable trend according to cochair Craig Douglas -- so smart he teaches at both Yale and the University of Wyoming -- isn't the content of the research but the nationalities of the researchers. The newbies are coming largely from China and India. The U.S., Douglas says, "is forgetting to educate engineers -- and it's even worse in Japan." -- CN

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wed, october 22
Build
world architecture festival
Barcelona, Spain

You may not have been wondering: What is 2008's Building of the Year? The architects at this festival will tell you anyway. The puzzlingly diverse finalists include Milwaukee's Harley-Davidson Museum (in the culture category); Loblolly House in Maryland, shown at left (private houses); Egan's Coffee Bar & Roof Terrace in Portlaoise, Ireland (pleasure); and the Netherlands' Sheep Stable, which is what it says it is (inexplicably also in the pleasure category -- don't ask, don't tell). The overall Building of the Year will be chosen from the 17 category winners. Our money's on the Lady Bird Lake Trail public restroom, proudly representing Austin, Texas, in the energy, waste, and recycling category. -- JC and KR

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fri, october 24
Grow
Fresh Summit
Orlando, Florida

Based on the speakers, it's hard to tell if this four-day conclave, allegedly focused on produce, is really about watermelons or widgets. Former GE CEO Jack Welch (favorite fruit and veg: raspberries, asparagus, and green beans) will talk about cultivating talent; ex-Harley brand guru Ken Schmidt (grapes and broccoli) recounts his rehab of the hog maker's image; and onetime Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke dishes on the death of spin. And bananas: "There's a game in my family where we say, If you could go to a desert island and could take only one food, what would it be?" Clarke says. "Mine would be a banana. It tastes good and has its own neat little packaging." -- KR

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Week 5

tue, october 28
Watch
Tinker Bell

Once just a flitty supporting act, Tinker Bell will kick off the Disney Fairies franchise with her eponymous film. The movie, about pre -- Peter Pan life, features new pixies, including one voiced by Lucy Liu. Disney will release one straight-to-DVD episode each year until the quadrilogy is done. In an apparent concession to those crazy, quality-obsessed Pixar folks, it will then quit making direct-to-DVD toons, which are bad ("dreck-to-DVD") but good (the two Aladdin sequels alone grossed more than $300 million). So much for Cinderella IV. -- JLA

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tue, october 28
Download
10th Anniversary of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

In 1998, President Clinton signed a law to criminalize circumventing copyright-protection technology. That's what killed free Napster and why you still can't share songs bought from iTunes. But tech-related legislation may go obsolete almost as quickly as the innovations it tries to govern: This year, the major music labels have begun to ditch the fencing known as Digital Rights Management, rendering DMCA moot for many Americans. David Pakman, CEO of eMusic, which sells DRM-free MP3s, says the new thinking is that companies "should license content for sale as many places as you can." He says the labels "also need to change their economics." In other words, if music were cheap enough, people would buy. -- JLA

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fri, october 31
Trick or Treat
Halloween

Candy corn + jack-o'-lanterns + wax vampire teeth + slutty French-maid outfits that somehow (please, God) never seem to go out of Halloween style = $5.1 billion in retail spending. Boo! -- JC

illustration by Julie Teninbaum

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