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Illustration by Rodrigo Corral Design

Fast Company Recommended Events April 2009

What's happening in April

April

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Week 1

Wed, April 01
Prank
April Fools' Day

One of the only things that makes April Fools' Day tolerable is the corporate prank. Our favorite hijinks over the years include Taco Bell purchasing the "Taco Liberty Bell"; YouTube linking every video on its home page to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up"; Burger King promoting the Left-Handed Whopper, whose condiments dripped only out the right side; and Google Australia's "gDay," which promised to search Web pages 24 hours before their creation. Some people call these hoaxes. To us, they're "innovative thinking" that produced, if nothing else, a PR bounce. Look, we're still writing about them! -- Dan Macsai

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Thu, April 02
Convene
G20 Summit
London

Last November, the leaders of 19 of the world's most powerful nations -- plus a rep from the E.U. -- met in D.C. to devise a plan to stabilize financial markets and halt the global economic slide. Didn't happen. Now, with a new U.S. president in office, they're trying again. This time, they plan to talk more specifics and even start wrangling over how to reform international institutions such as the IMF. Can the G20 cure our economic ills? Yes, they can! At least we really, really hope so. -- Kate Rockwood

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Sat, April 04
Computerize
HIMSS '09 Annual Conference & Exhibition
Chicago

Health-related technology may be advanced enough for us to outsource radio-logical readings and medical transcription to India, but only a third of clinical practices in the U.S. use electronic medical records. At the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual trade show, this is going to have people talking, especially since the federal government's economic-stimulus plan includes $20 billion for computerizing medical records. But we're diagnosing an epidemic of ludditis among doctors: Even with the government's help, 25% of practices say they would rather stay in the Paper Age. -- Anne C. Lee

Week 2

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Fri, April 10
Bop
Hannah Montana: THE MOVIE

Once upon a time -- in other words, last year -- Hannah seemed untouchable. Miley Cyrus's Disney Channel sitcom had spawned two hit soundtracks, a huge concert tour, a 3-D concert movie, and at least 10 different bedazzled T-shirts (not that we counted or anything). Then Cyrus, 16, went all grown-up on us. There was that near-nude photo in Vanity Fair and her 20-year-old underwear-model boyfriend. Parents cried foul, and ratings slipped. So, can a big-screen makeover redeem Disney's billion-dollar franchise? "Absolutely!" says Brandon Gray, president of BoxOfficeMojo.com. "It won't be High School Musical, but it should beat The Lizzie McGuire Movie," which grossed a respectable $43 million. Somewhere the Tiger Beat set is shrieking in delight. -- DM

Week 3

Tue, April 14
Read
In-N-Out Burger
By Stacy Perman

A tragic plane crash, a drug-addicted scion, a bitter lawsuit -- these juicy ingredients should make for a tasty corporate drama. Alas, they don't, because the company is In-N-Out Burger, and seemingly nothing can derail the beloved purveyor of never-frozen burgers and hand-cut fries. That's good for folks who frequent In-N-Out's 200-plus outposts (and good for business), but not for the narrative. Without access to the notoriously private chain, Perman has to work overtime to show how the $400 million In-N-Out has become the envy of the fast-food business. But both burger fanatics and business nerds will find parts of In-N-Out Burger as delicious as a Double-Double animal style, and what lingers is founder Harry Snyder's motto: "Do one thing and do it the best you can." -- David Lidsky

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Wed, April 15
Pay Up
Tax Day

Job losses, plunging portfolios, and falling home values have been a drag for most of us, but think of the poor IRS. For perspective, we called University of Wisconsin tax-policy guru Jon Davis, who put a positive spin on things for the nation as a whole. He says a lean tax season can boost the economy with bigger refunds and lower overall taxation. If that's cold comfort, Tax Man, think of this: At least in your world, it's not 2009. Yet. -- Clay Dillow

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Fri, April 17
Gather
Summit of the Americas
Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago

World leaders like to meet in various configurations (see April 2). This summit convenes the Americas' 34 democratically elected leaders -- Cuba isn't invited. Energy security and environmental sustainability will top the agenda this year. Other priorities: universal elementary education in the Western Hemisphere by 2010, halving extreme poverty by 2015, and eliminating child labor by 2020. Well, that's settled then. -- Abha Bhattarai

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Sat, April 18
Listen
Record Store Day

I'm a survivor (what), I'm not gonna give up (what), I'm not gon' stop (what), I'm gonna work harder (what), I'm a survivor (what), I'm gonna make it (what),I will survive (what), Keep on survivin' (what). -- Beyoncé Knowles

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Sat, April 18
Share
2009 Green Cities Conference & Expo
Portland, Oregon

What better way to incentivize going green than with greenbacks? Portland, host city of this inaugural National League of Cities event, has set an example with its novel High Performance Green Building Policy "feebate" system for new construction: fees for conventional projects, waivers for some green improvements, and rewards for the über green. The plan is expected to help the city cut 80% of carbon-dioxide emissions from buildings by 2050. It could add up to -- gasp! -- 128 jobs too. Hey, at least it's better than layoffs. -- ACL

Week 4

Mon, April 20
Generate
Hannover Messe 2009
Hannover, Germany

Talk about a big tent: With 13 trade shows, 200,000 visitors, and 1,800 lectures, this 62-year-old fair is the world's largest for industrial technology. This year marks the debut of a show, Wind, focusing on one of the fastest-growing areas in alternative energy. Over the past five years, worldwide wind-power capacity has grown more than 20% annually. Ironically, Hannover Messe is adding the show just as Germany loses the title of world's windiest nation; for years, it had been No. 1 in the world for most installed megawatts, until the U.S. surpassed it just a few months ago. -- ACL

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Mon, April 20
Get Cracking
RSA Conference 2009
San Francisco

If you're going to spend five days discussing the arcana of information security, you'll probably need a little comic relief. That's why attendees at the RSA conference exchange "Fun Ribbons," which feature original tech puns and pick-up lines. Previous gems include "Brainy: The New Black," "Will Code for Food," and "Ask Me About My Password." We expect (even) better from this year's crowd, especially since the keynote will be given by MythBusters funnymen Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage. "By the final day, you'll see people with ribbons all over their ID badges," says Sandra Toms LaPedis, general manager of the RSA conference. "They love expressing their personality." We're laughing with them, not at them. -- DM

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Mon, April 20
Roll Up Your Sleeve
World Vaccine Congress
Washington, D.C.

Sorry, boys. You'll find no wrestling match between Amanda Peet (pro-vaccine celeb) and Jenny McCarthy (loud proponent of the vaccines-cause-autism hypothesis) on the agenda here. Instead, there's big money on the brain: The vaccine market is already worth $21 billion, and more than 1,000 new products are in the pipeline. Alas, the same hands who are so deft at creating nosocomial vaccines often fumble when it comes to the business stuff. So all-day investment sessions help explain how to find funding, which increasingly comes from venture capitalists, not government and big pharma. -- KR

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Tue, April 21
Pour
Craft Brewers Conference
Boston

Over the past 40 years, the number of U.S. craft breweries (in other words, small and independent) has jumped from 175 to nearly 1,500. Sure, that's only 4% of the 70 billion bottles that Americans glug each year. But breweries such as Dogfish Head, Brooklyn, and Anchor are growing, and analysts predict craft brews will have 10% market share by 2020. The Brewers Association's four-day meet-up -- which draws 2,600 beer geeks, brewers, and suppliers -- is meant to help maintain the momentum. Also on tap? Seminars on packaging, organic brewing, and -- oh yes! -- yeast flocculation. -- KR

Wed, April 22
Venerate
Earth Day

Put on your party hats, people! It's time to pay tribute to your other mother, Earth. The annual event, started in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, has morphed into a global festival with concerts, rallies, and even free valet bike parking in L.A. Organizers claim that this year's celebration will attract nearly 1 billion people in 180 countries, making it the largest nonreligious event in the world. We find it kind of hard to believe that a sixth of us really participate -- do you know anyone who does? -- but we get the point: It's big. -- Kyle Berlin

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Wed, April 22
Host
HOREX 2009
Almaty, Kazakhstan

We're pretty certain that nobody with a firm grasp of the English language said the name of this trade show out loud. We're not even quite sure how they came up with the acronym, since the show's official name is the Central Asian International Exhibition. Come to think of it, why is this three-day event focused not just on hotels and restaurants, but also on supermarkets? Anyway, we are delighted that it is helping, as Borat says, to "make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan." -- Jeff Chu

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Thu, April 23
Mentor
Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

Some 34 million children, parents, and mentors participate in this annual program to expose youth to the wonders of the working world by -- what else? -- putting them to work. This is more fun for some kids than for others: Last year, jobs varied from counting nails at hardware stores to holding mock trials at law firms. Carolyn McKecuen, president of the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation, says the day is meant to provide kids with "clarity on what it is they want to do with their lives" -- the sort of thing a lot of adults could use right now. (For one answer, see What Should I Do With My Life Now?) -- AB

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Thu, April 23
Work It
9 to 5: The Musical
New York

Who works from 9 to just 5 anymore? Whatever. We're thrilled that Dolly Parton is bringing her 1980 film to the stage, and shows about workers exacting revenge on bosses are evergreen. Allison Janney leads the cast as they pour a cup of ambition into a show that matches the famous size of Dolly Parton's ... personality. And lead producer Robert Greenblatt isn't worried about Broadway's -- and theatergoers' -- financial doldrums: "If you have something the audience believes is a great value," he says, "I think they'll come." -- Brendan J. Collins

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Fri, April 24
Take Off
Launch of NASA's LunarReconnaissance Orbiter
Cape Canaveral, Florida

Google Moon will soon be due for an update. The launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter marks America's first move toward putting man back on the moon in more than three decades. This unmanned info-gathering mission really is just one small step. The LRO will orbit 30 miles above the moon's surface for at least a year, looking for radiation, scouting possible landing sites, and constructing thermal and high-res 3-D maps. -- Zachary Wilson

Sat, April 25
Watch
The 2009 NFL Draft
New York

Over the course of two days, on two cable channels, more than 30 million people will tune in to see 250 collegians -- such as potential No. 1 pick Matthew Stafford of Georgia -- win the right to apply for a job. It must be the NFL Draft! Ratings break records every year, and it's not just employment voyeurism. "It's an unpredictable telethon with storytelling and drama, heroes and goats," says ESPN producer Jay Rothman, who has covered every draft since 1995. "Careers are made or broken on how teams choose," adds Rich Eisen, who hosts the NFL Network's telecast. And, hey, there's always wish fulfillment. As Eisen notes, "Name me another business in America that gives an entry-level hire a $25 million guaranteed signing bonus." -- DL

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Sun, April 26
Get a Buzz
2009 Nonprofit Technology Conference
San Francisco

Industry forums teem with buzzwords. (We're looking at you, "synergy.") At this year's Nonprofit Technology Conference, however, these clichés-in-the-making will serve a higher purpose. At the start of each day, all 1,200 attendees will receive a Buzzword Bingo card. Every time a speaker utters a featured word, like "cloud," "Steve Jobs," or "robust back-end," players inch closer to the prize: a state-of-the-art Slinky. -- DM

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Week 5

Thu, April 30
Build
AIA 2009 National Convention and Design Exposition
San Francisco

Some writer must have the market cornered on boring conference titles, such as this gem for the American Institute of Architects: "The Power of Diversity: Practice in a Complex World." What's complex and much more interesting is that the AIA is packing 13 speakers into one 90-minute keynote. That's 6 minutes and 55 seconds for each of the "emerging voices," including Qingyun Ma, Lisa Iwamoto, and Tom Kundig, to show their work, accompanied by images and videos. Using an analogy that has probably never, ever described a keynote, convention chief Chris Gribbs says this one will be "kind of like flipping through channels on your TV. It's going to be wild." -- ACL

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Thu, April 30
Scream
world horror convention
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Maggot masks and black lace will swamp Winnipeg for this celebration of the multibillion-dollar genre. Horror novelists F. Paul Wilson, Christopher Fowler, and Edo van Belkom are officially this year's big gets, though we'd bet a severed finger the real draw is the Gross Out Contest, in which amateur writers take a three-minute stab at making people puke through prose. Those with steel stomachs will have to dodge dead chickens, fake blood, and fresh pig heads being lobbed into the crowd. -- KR

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Illustration by Rodrigo Corral Design

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