Fast Company Recommended Events June 2009

June

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Week 1

tue, june 02
Play
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3)
Los Angeles

A few years ago, E3 made a mistake. It went invitation-only, lost the hot booth babes dressed as Lara Croft and Jill Valentine, and killed the buzz. Now E3 is once again open to the public -- or "qualified computer- and video-game-industry audiences," at least. More than 40,000 people are expected to attend the world's best gaming expo this year, which will feature early looks at releases for the upcoming holiday season. We're imagining The Sims: Recession, where it takes more than a flip through the newspaper to score a limo for your commute, or maybe WiiNES, which would require you to blow into the console to play, just like in the olden days. Whatever it is, we've been doing our thumb exercises. -- Zachary Wilson

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wed, june 03
Pig Out
World Pork Expo
Des Moines, Iowa

Should we go to the hog races first or the PigCasso art show? Welcome to bacony bliss, a three-day celebration of porcine proportions that draws 40,000 consumers, producers, and vendors to Iowa, the top pork-producing state in America. To keep those bellies filled as browsers take in the latest in farm technology and management tools, some 13 tons of piggly-wiggly are cooked on a custom 50-foot-by-10-foot grill. But the real highlight of the expo? The unveiling of imaginative new cuts of meat, such as pork chops on a stick and pig wings, which are tender bone-in shanks coated with sauce and eaten by hand. Here, piggy piggy piggy! -- Kate Rockwood

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fri, june 05
Watch
Land of the Lost

Watch out, Stan Lee! You're not the only old coot trying to cash in again on a decades-old creative burst. Seventies schlockmeisters Sid and Marty Krofft make their bid for Marvel Comics -- like cultural relevance via Will Ferrell's $100 million reinvention of the Saturday morning camp classic, about a trio that gets trapped in a secret world populated with dinosaurs, lizard people, and monkey boys. After one preview screening, a fanboy dubbed it "Anchorman crossed with Jurassic Park." In other words, it's going to make a lot of Chakas. -- David Lidsky

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mon, june 08
Get Trashed
Waste Expo
Las Vegas

A hot topic at this meet-up of solid-waste execs will be the booming business of trash to cash. Some 55% of American waste still ends up in landfills, and operators in this $52 billion industry have long been required to collect and dispose of the by-product, methane gas. Well, waste not, want not: In 2003, some began turning it into energy. There are now 469 landfill-to-gas projects in the U.S., delivering 310 million cubic meters of gas daily -- enough to power 1.6 million homes. How wonderfully trashy. -- KR

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tue, june 09
Start Up
Launch: Silicon Valley 2009
Mountain View, California

Starting a tech business in good times takes guts -- more than 60% of new ones fail in four recession-free years. These days, you need courage, chutzpah, and an extra measure of je ne sais quoi. A chance to woo investors helps; last year, more than 300 startups vied for the 30 spots at Launch. This year, panelists will come from VC firms including Morgenthaler Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The spoils of spunk? Since 2006, the courtships have spawned upward of $80 million in financing. -- Genevieve Knapp

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tue, june 09
Map
Consumer Genetics Show
Boston

Genetics, this is your mainstream moment! So says conference founder and biotech entrepreneur John Boyce, who points to the rapid drop in DNA-sequencing costs and growing interest in genomics from consumer-goods manufacturers. Boyce says this inaugural show will focus on "the intersection of genetics and the consumer front." Expect to see reps from P&G, Unilever, and insurance companies mingling with researchers including ex -- Human Genome Project chief Francis Collins and Alzheimer's-focused neurologist Robert C. Green. The public can attend for just $15, but don't think that genetics comes that cheap: It still costs $5,000 to map your genome. -- Anne C. Lee

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wed, june 10
Write
Ballpoint Pen Day

On this day in 1943, brothers Laszlo and Georg Bíró filed a patent for what's now one of the world's most common writing instruments. Others had tried to design a self-inking mechanical pen that rolled on a ball, with little success. The Bírós perfected the design, named it the Birome, and opened a pen shop in Argentina. In 1945, the pens went on sale in the U.S., at Gimbel's in New York, for $12.50 each ($145, inflation adjusted). The store sold $125,000 worth on day one, and Bic, which bought the patent, has sold 100 billion-plus since 1950. Rolling, indeed. -- ZW

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fri, june 12
Power Up
RoboGames
San Francisco

They play Connect Four. They mix martinis. They paint. And at this sixth annual event, robots go head-to-head in categories from navigation to remote-controlled flame throwing. In the past two years, the gathering has doubled to 70 events and entrants from more than 80 countries. Spectators will witness AI technology powering amateurs' homespun creations. Our favorite contest: the SOBotz (translation: 16-ounce robots) Combat. May the best bot win -- and survive. -- KR

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sun, june 14
Bookmark
Special Libraries Association Conference 2009
Washington, D.C.

Cara Schatz wants to make one thing clear: Members of the SLA are, in fact, special. "They work at huge companies, like McDonald's and General Electric, and they inform C-suite decisions," says Schatz, a conference organizer. "They need to know the latest, greatest ways to find information." Attendees this year will hear a keynote from Colin Powell, discuss buzzed-about tech innovations (Twitter), and unwind at themed mixers. Web-savvy librarians who know how to party? That really is special. -- Dan Macsai

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mon, june 15
Chatter
NeoCon World's Trade Fair
Chicago

Does the mere thought of PowerPoint-glutted conferences send your fingernails inching toward your eyeballs? Then we suggest the pecha-kucha night at this designers' gathering. The brainchild of Tokyo architects Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein, pecha-kucha (Japanese for "chatter") nights began in 2003 and have since spread to 180 cities. The boozy boardroom-meets-poetry-slam format brings a vibrancy to the loathed PowerPoint by applying a set of strict rules: Artists and designers show 20 slides for 20 seconds each. That's 6 minutes and 40 seconds to reveal inspirations and original works. Then they shut up, sit down, and let us get back to our drinks. -- KR

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tue, june 16
Read
The Tall Book
By Arianne Cohen

If you're a man taller than 6'3" or a woman over 5'9", meet your new bible. Cohen, 6'3", gives talls a pep talk, highlighting research that shows they'll make an additional $789 per inch per year over shorter colleagues. Still feel awkward? Visit the Netherlands, home to the tallest people -- with a copy of this charming book. -- DL

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wed, june 17
Construct
2009 Festival of Architecture and Forum
Montreal

At last year's forum, all 300 attendees donned lobster bibs and "got cacophonous" during the send-off social event, recalls organizer Denise MacDonald. Sadly, she can't guarantee repeat cacophony this year. But she does promise plenty of can't-miss happenings, including a keynote from design guru Jan Gehl and a trade fair featuring the latest architectural technologies and services, such as precast, prestressed concrete. "If you're interested," she adds, "there's also a fancy dinner." Great! We'll have the lobster. -- DM

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thu, june 18
Wash
Clean '09
New Orleans

"I know I'll offend wet advocates, but you can't do everything with water," says Tim Maxwell, president of GreenEarth Cleaning, which licenses a liquid-silicone-based dry-cleaning technology. At the biennial World Educational Congress for Laundering and Drycleaning, them's fighting words. "Ozone gas injected into water is the strongest sanitizer, and it activates detergent without hot water," says Articlean CEO Mark E. Moore. This isn't quite Bloods versus Crips, since everyone shares a goal: wringing out savings through innovation, much of it green. For instance, a company called AquaRecycle plans to "introduce a product that recycles dryer exhaust," says president Jeff Lebedin. Good clean fun. -- DL

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sat, june 20
Preserve
Opening of the New Acropolis Museum
Athens, Greece

It has taken four architecture competitions and 33 years for the Greeks to settle on a design for the New Acropolis Museum and build the thing. The winning vision -- that of New York architect Bernard Tschumi -- boasts balcony views of the Parthenon and a glass floor that reveals archeological remains underfoot. This museum has a grander purpose: winning back the Elgin Marbles, a set of sculptures removed from the Acropolis and spirited to Britain in the 19th century. Britain has maintained that its world-class museums are the best home for the artifacts. This is Greece's concrete argument that it won't stop until it's got all its marbles. -- Abha Bhattarai

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sun, june 21
Appreciate
Father's Day

When Father's Day was first proposed in the early 1900s, people laughed. Sure, Mother's Day was fine, but Father's Day? Ha! In a letter to the editor, one New York Times reader asked, "What's next, Household Pet Day?" Never mind the ridicule: Father's Day is now celebrated around the world, to the delight of retailers everywhere. In 2008, Americans spent $11 billion on Pop, $700 million of it on greeting cards. But you don't have to shell out to show Dad you love him. An awkward three-minute phone call will suffice. -- ZW

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mon, june 22
Recast
International Plastics Showcase
Chicago

The $400 billion plastics industry would like you to know that its products are becoming greener, lighter, more efficient, and less evil. Firms including Telles, a joint venture between Archer Daniels Midland and Metabolix, are making plastics from materials such as sugar and castor oil, while others are finding novel ways to reuse plastic. One example: Wyndham Hotels' staff will soon begin wearing suits made of recycled plastic. That's a uniform fit for the future. -- AB

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mon, june 22
Cover
Wimbledon 2009
London

Rain, rain, go away, come again ... never! There's a new retractable roof over Centre Court. It doesn't promise a total end to the weather delays that plague this hallowed tennis championship -- it takes 10 minutes to close the roof and up to 30 minutes postshower before play can resume -- but at least spectators in the 15,000-seat stadium will stay pretty dry. And the roof, designed by Kansas City, Missouri -- based Populous, also means better growing conditions for the lushest of lawns. -- ACL

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mon, june 22
Serve
2009 National Conference on Volunteering & Service
San Francisco

Volunteers contribute labor worth $156 billion per year to our economy, and their ranks are growing; HandsOn Network -- a matchmaker for volunteers and organizations -- reported a 124% spike in interest around MLK Day and Barack Obama's inauguration. This 3,000-person meeting will explore how to deploy this workforce. Sandy Scott, a spokesman for conference cohost Corporation for National and Community Service, gives Obama the credit: "He's made a bold call to action." Will people keep responding? -- ACL

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mon, june 22
Take Off
Virgin Atlantic's 25th Anniversary

It's ironic that the world's sexiest airline -- RIP, Hooters Air -- is still a Virgin. But these days, that's a good thing. As older carriers battle bad press (say, U.S. Airways) and financial woes (pretty much everyone else), the U.K.-based Virgin Atlantic has kept fares low and customers happy. Since its first flight in 1984, its famously attractive attendants have served 120 million meals and poured more than 4 million glasses of Champagne. Virgin has also recovered countless left-behind oddities, including false teeth and a wooden leg. Pretty fly for an airline. -- DM

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mon, june 22
Blow
International Whaling Commission Annual Meeting
Madeira, Portugal

Talk about white whales: Every year, the Japanese try to overturn the commercial whaling moratorium, and every year, anti-whaling nations lobby for a permanent ban. This year, things might actually change, thanks to beneficiaries of Japanese aid that have joined the IWC, including converts to the pro-whaling cause such as Eritrea, Tanzania, and landlocked Laos. Roughly half of the 84 member countries convened in March to discuss a proposal to allow Japan to resume commercial whaling in exchange for strict catch limits. Conservation groups have already begun protesting. But the decision would be in keeping with the commission's original purpose: It was founded in 1946 to support sustainable whaling. -- ACL

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tue, june 23
Dam
International Hydropower Association World Congress
Reykjavík, Iceland

Melting banks. A tumbling currency. More lousy Björk singles. Iceland's pride has taken a pummeling over the past year. But delegates at this summit will discover that the Arctic nation still has one thing to boast about: its ability to turn water into watts. Hydroelectric dams generate more than 80% of Iceland's electricity. That cheap, clean power could reenergize the economy by attracting electricity-hungry industries. Alcoa has opened a $1 billion aluminum smelter in eastern Iceland, and Microsoft and Google are reportedly considering the country as a data-center site. -- Theunis Bates

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wed, june 24
Count
SIFMA Technology Management Conference
New York

It's been a tough year for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Two of its members -- Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns -- lost billions and are no more, leaving the industry feeling, well, insecure. Now SIFMA is trying to rebound, says VP Howard Sprow, by "discussing how technology can better help us get out of this." We hope he's not talking about the same algorithmic models that got them -- and us -- into trouble in the first place. -- AB

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wed, june 24
Run!!!
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Directed by Michael Bay

They came, they transformed, they slipped, and now they want revenge. Uh-oh. We'd get outta Dodge, but Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox can't help themselves -- they have to try to save the world. Typical. The sequel to 2007's live-action version of the '80s TV-toon classic promises to be bigger (really?) and better (fortunately). With a budget of $200 million (up from a measly $150 million last time), it certainly should be. -- ZW

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