Fast Company Recommended Events July + August 2009

July

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Week 1

Thu, July 02
Remember
"I Forgot" Day

Forgot to preorder your friend's Harry Potter tickets? Missed yet another anniversary? Today's the pseudoholiday when we pledge not to let it happen again. (We tried to find out who started this, but it seems everyone has forgotten.) If you're proactive, you'll seek technological help. On iTunes, apps like LifeMinder (which alerts you to key dates) and G-Park (which pinpoints your parking space) sell for $1.99 and $.99, respectively, while Remember the Milk (a to-do list maker) is free. And with Post-it's Digital Notes software ($19.99), you can turn your desktop into a virtual bulletin board. Alas, we're still awaiting the next-gen solution: reminders to create reminders. -- DAN MACSAI

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Thu, July 02
Journey
Fifth International Conference on Tourism
Athens, Greece

Business travel is expected to drop 5.6% this year, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Academics who study travel (sweet gig, right?) will convene in Greece to discuss the decline. There are only about 100 of them, so their talk, even with airfare and hotel, is pretty cheap and won't save global tourism. The U.S. isn't helping either: Our travel industry could shrink by 450,000 jobs in 2009. The ticket, says Gregory Papanikos, head of the Athens Institute for Education and Research, which is hosting the meet, could be China and India, two budding destinations that also have growing middle classes who want -- and need -- to travel. -- ANNE C. LEE

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Sat, July 04
Explode
Independence Day

Happy birthday, America! A 233-year-old needs a lot of candles, and for the fireworks industry, July 4 is Christmas. Over the past decade, the sector has almost tripled to nearly $1 billion in yearly revenue. But not everyone wants you, the consumer, to celebrate with a bang. A few of these fine united states -- including Fast Company's home state of New York -- still ban retail fireworks sales. Everyone else, shoot off a bottle rocket for us, will you? -- ZACHARY WILSON

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Week 2

Mon, July 06
Grow
International Conference on Plants & Environmental Pollution
Kayseri, Turkey

Let's not beat around the bush. Fifteen thousandof the world's medicinal plants are nearing extinction, thanks to pollution caused by population growth and rapid industrialization. Each die-off also produces a ripple effect; for every plant that disappears, scientists estimate that up to 30 more species of flora and fauna are threatened. Fortunately, this ancient city in central Turkey may be a good place to initiate change -- it's the hometown of St. Basil the Great, the patron saint of reformers. -- ABHA BHATTARAI

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Wed, July 08
Invent
International Development Design Summit
Kumasi, Ghana

Most global-poverty workshops share a tedious format -- lots of yakking, little action. But at this monthlong MIT-organized event, delegates won't just lament third-world woe; they'll create real devices to improve life for the bottom billion. At last year's summit, inventors from 20 nations built 10 cheap, low-tech prototypes, includ-ing a hand-cranked machine for grinding corncobs into fuel and a chemical-soaked nipple shield that prevents HIV transmission between a breast-feeding mother and child. Our dream invention? A device that produces corruption-free leaders. -- THEUNIS BATES

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Fri, July 10
Knock Out
Ultimate Fighting Championships Fan Expo
Las Vegas

The UFC has evolved considerably since the late 1990s, when Senator John McCain likened its battles to "human cockfighting." Today, the professional mixed-martial-arts league discourages "eye gouging of any kind," "stomping a grounded opponent," and "clawing, pinching, or twisting the flesh." It's also more popular than ever: Spike TV's "Fight Nights" lure at least 900,000 advertiser-coveted 18- to 34-year-old males and more than 1.5 million total viewers. And this expo, where fans will be able to meet fighters, is expected to draw thousands. Ready to rumble? -- DM

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Sun, July 12
Cover Your Mouth
Infectious Disease Cruise Conference
7 days/6 nights, from Seattle

One tip to avoid the spread of infectious diseases: Don't gather in confined spaces. Like, you know, a ship at sea. (We haven't forgotten all those news stories about the stomach-churning, disinfectant-resisting norovirus.) This conference-on-a-cruise about contagion and bugs is aimed at the continuing education of physicians and nurses. The unintentional takeaway? Do as your docs say, not as they do. -- KATE ROCKWOOD

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Week 3

Mon, July 13
Compute
WorldComp '09
Las Vegas

Warning: computer overload. The 2009 World Congress in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Applied Com-puting is actually 22 different conferences, drawing 2,500 attendees, all held simultaneously at one location and sprawling across topics from bioinformatics to virtual reality to embedded systems. What struck us about the conference, though, wasn't the diversity but the lack of it: According to the premeeting agenda, not a single one of the 27 featured speakers and instructors is female. -- ZW

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Sat, July 18
Redeem
World Aquatics Championships
Rome

Nearly 3,000 athletes from 200 nations will compete at this year's swimming and diving championships. But extraordinary attention will go to one: Michael Phelps. In his first major meet since the bong-picture scandal that cost him a lucrative endorsement deal with Kellogg's, he'll race for redemption. Other celebs have rebounded from bigger infractions. Kate Moss, for example, cleaned up and part-nered with Topshop after alleged cocaine use ruined her H&M deal. We think Phelps can follow suit, as long as he sticks to smoking the competition. -- DM

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Week 4

Sun, July 19
Make Up
Cosmoprof
Las Vegas

The 25,000 beauty professionals at this mega makeup meet will have to slap on a brave face. Though the cosmetics sector stayed pert in previous recessions -- lipstick sales rose 11% just after 9/11 -- this slump is having an ugly effect on the $45 billion industry. According to NPD Group, a market-research firm, makeup-sector sales slid 7% in the first three months of 2009; eye shadow sagged by 9% and lip liner drooped 15%. Plain Janes, your time has come. -- TB

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Week 5

Mon, July 27
Eat
Weight of the Nation
Washington, D.C.

Each year, the average American eats 16 pounds of fries, 23 pounds of pizza, and 26 pounds of candy. Let's just say the CDC may have bitten off more than it can chew with this inaugural conference dedicated to combating the obe-sity epidemic.-- DAVID LIDSKY

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Tue, July 28
Read
How to Build Your Own Spaceship
By Piers Bizorny

When Piers Bizorny was 10, his father asked him to keep a scrapbook of space travel. Four decades later, the science writer, still hooked, created this DIY manual for rocket jockeys. Though the book's structure is a weak conceit, it does provide a framework for Bizorny's fascinating detours into spaceship mechanics and design -- including a frighteningly graphic pit stop to explain onboard lavatories. And his clear explanation and abundant enthusiasm make for an energetic jaunt along space travel's bumpy course from the realm of giant government agen-cies (NASA first sent man to the moon 40 years ago this month) to the cusp of a consumer market (funded by megamillionaires such as Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson). -- KR

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Thu, July 30
Obsess
Twicon 2009
Dallas

Stephenie Meyer's vampire books have spawned Twilight, the $380 million-grossing movie; Twilight, the double-platinum soundtrack; and "TwiLighT," the caps-lock-challenged Facebook group. Now rabid fans ("twi-hards") can flock to the first-ever TwiCon, a four-day convention celebrating every aspect of the billion-dollar Twilight empire. "It's going to be amazing," gushes organizer Becka Grapsy, 19, a freshman at Penn State who cheerfully adds that planning the event has made Twilight "part of my day-to-day life." Yay. -- DM

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August

Week 1

Sat, August 01
Pucker
National Mustard Day

Mustard is, well, cutting the mustard. As more Americans brown-bag lunch and dine at home, sales of the sauce are up. Revenue at market leader French's grew more than 6% last year. But mustard's sometime partner and neme-sis is doing even better: This past winter, sales of Heinz ketchup rock-eted 9%. For a response, we called Barry Levenson, curator of the World Famous Mustard Museum in Wisconsin. "Did Shakespeare ever write about ketchup?" he said. To which we replied, "He wrote about mustard?" Yes, he did, in The Taming of the Shrew. (Grumio: "What say you to a piece of beef and mustard?") Touché? -- ACL

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Sun, August 02
Ogle
MOMAs "No Discipline" Show
New York

Israeli-born designer Ron Arad "is the most curious person I know," says Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art. "We titled the show 'No Discipline' because so many designers choose to be on one side of design or the other -- working with galleries or industrial manufacturers -- but Ron was one of the first artists to be beyond those divisions." Arad's first major U.S. retrospective highlights his love for iterative design (successive chairs made from steel, carbon fiber, polyurethane, and fiberglass) and technology (SMS-enabled crystal chandeliers). Curious, indeed. -- KR

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Sun, August 02
Spend
100th anniversary of first Lincoln penny

The first U.S. penny -- pure copper and featuring a woman with flowing hair -- was minted in 1792. But it wasn't until 1909, a century after Lincoln's birth, that the 16th prez's image made it to the coin. Now, to mark Honest Abe's 100th year on the one-cent piece, the U.S. Mint is introducing four new designs, each representing an era of Lincoln's life -- for instance, a log cabin for his childhood -- to replace the Lincoln Memorial on the tail side. Now those are some pretty pennies. -- AB

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Week 2

Fri, August 07
Fight Back
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Directed by Stephen Sommers

We love seeing famous monuments fall in movieland. The Statue of Liberty, for instance, has been done (Deep Impact), redone (Independence Day), and done again (Cloverfield), but a toppling Eiffel Tower, as seen in the trailer for G.I. Joe, feels newer to us. Big bangs signal a big budget -- and big hopes from fanboy lovers of the 1960s dolls (sorry, "action figures") and 1980s toys, cartoons, and comics alike. The now de rigueur video game will be released alongside the film, and as with all toy-to-movie-to-game adaptations, expectations are low. But the promos for G.I. Joe proclaim, "When all else fails, one team won't." We so want that to be true. Yo, Joe! -- ZW

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Week 3

Thu, August 13
FEED
The Global Food Crisis
Zacatecas, Mexico

Even as Americans talk about flab (see July 27), 15% of the world is going hungry and food prices in most developing countries are higher than they were a year ago. Profiteers are a problem; specul-ation on food prices has replaced speculation on mortgages, claims political scientist Susan George, author of How the Other Half Dies: The Real Reasons for World Hunger. She'll keynote this conference, which will dissect the latest devel-opments in the politics and economics of hunger. There's plenty of food ... for thought.-- GENEVIEVE KNAPP

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Fri, August 14
Tackle
Madden NFL 10

Since 2001, seven of the nine athletes chosen for the cover of Madden NFL have ended up injured or ineffective after that season. "I never really thought the curse was real," says Madden NFL senior project manager Anthony Stevenson. "But last year, after Brett Favre's own team didn't want him back, I changed my tune a bit." Not that superstition affects sales: The 2009 edition moved a record-high 2.3 million copies in its first month. This year's cover has two athletes, the Steelers' Troy Polamalu and the Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald. Stevenson hopes that will "reverse the curse." If not, at least John Madden, who in April announced his retirement from play by play, can go out with a big "boom!" -- DM

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Week 4

Thu, August 20
Count
Jackson Hole Symposium
Jackson Hole, Wyoming

This annual powwow for the world's top economists and central bankers is so hush-hush that the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, its organizer, declined to share the who, when, where, or how. But our sources tell us that the meet-up will start, as always, with dinner on Thursday, followed by two days of wonkfest -- discussions and paper presentations and, no doubt, exuberant debate about who got us into this economic mess and how to get us out. Incidentally, the world's longest-running shoot-out, hailed by Jackson Hole as a show of "frontier justice," will take place every night of the meeting in the town square. Greenspan versus Bernanke, anyone? -- AB

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Thu, August 20
Vote
Afghanistan's Presidential Election

Congrats to the winner of Afghanistan's second presidential poll: You're leader of the world's No. 1 narco state. Opium production has grown 4,000% since the Taliban's ouster in 2001, and the country now supplies 93% of the global opiates market. But there is good news. A government crackdown led to half of Afghanistan's provinces being declared "poppy free" last year. Unfortunately, that campaign also pushed many farmers toward a lucrative alternative -- marijuana -- prompting the UN to predict that Afghanistan will soon overtake Morocco as the world's top cannabis-resin producer. -- TB

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