Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Here is some cantaloupe harvested in Hodgenville, Kentucky. It is very good and I am guessing about 10 were harvested and average weight about 4 pounds. Late crop but I planted it late and with the drought in that area it is surprising anything was harvested.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Louisville Science Center - Hydrocarbon Structure

When I was volunteering last at the Louisville Science Center I found this stucture someone made with the organic chemistry activity. At first I thought it was some sort of bucky ball but I think they have hexagon shapes in them and this one looks to be made of pentagons. Whatever it is the yellow is hydrogen and the black are carbon.

IdeaFestival - Jane McGonigal, Game Designer

I attended the presentation by game designer and future forecaster Jane McGonigal at IdeaFestival on Saturday morning, September 27, 2008. For a Saturday morning, attendance was good with maybe 300 people in the audience.

Jane started off by talking about the impossibility of predicting the future. She is more interested in making the future or thinking about it. So her ideas are to help people shape the future by using games or simulations. One prediction she made was hoping a game designer would get a Nobel Peace Prize by 2032. The concept was a mass group of game players could help shape or shift culture behaviors for the greater good.

Statistics she gave were 65% of U.S. households play games with 88% of Americans under 18 play games every week. Also 70% of companies or non-profits use a type of game to help train personnel. In addition, the average age of gamers in the United States is 35 years old with 40% of them being women. Worldwide it is estimated that 200-300 million people play games more than 20 hours a week.

The idea she wanted to present to attendees at IdeaFestival was that “Reality is broken.” She means that people are good at playing games in artificial worlds but in the real world they are not so good. World of Warcraft was used as an example where players band together and increase they skill points and other attributes but this does not really apply to the real world. Jane made the point while giving her presentation, her real world speech attribute points did not go up +1.

She then brought up the use of brainpower by using the World of Warcraft Wiki web site as example. It currently is the 2nd largest Wiki behind Wikipedia and has 134,000 articles on World of Warcraft making it the largest single subject written about. An economist, Edward Castranova has been studying the trend of people spending largest amounts of time in the virtual world instead of the real world. He conclusion is that this is rational behavior, because it gives people meaning to their lives. Jane study of this as well has led to these points:

Games work better.
1) Better instructions
2) Better feedback
3) Better community
4) Better emotions

A quote she draws inspiration on is from Albert Einstein, “Games are the most elevated form of investigation.” So can games be created to tackle real world problems? Could a game be created where the challenge is to solve a problem that exists now? This has already begun with a game called a “World Without Oil” to help people to try to live with dwindling supplies of oil and as the price became more expensive. Another site is superstructgame.org to help you invent the future. So a problem occurs and everyone collaborates on how to solve the issue. The solutions are then reviewed to see if any can be used to help fix a real world problem.

Jane closed with this summary. Reality is broken. People relate to games better. Game designers develop games that allow people to be happier. Afterwards she signed copies of Ecology of Games, a collection of essays which she was one of the contributors.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

IdeaFestival - Through the Eyes of a Volunteer

Volunteering at the IdeaFestival can be fun and you have the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people.

My volunteering experience began at 8 AM in the morning where I encountered a number of police who where shutting off street access for a run that was about to happen. Luckily, they let me get to the parking lot I needed to. As I was walking to the convention center, I encountered the runners just starting (see last picture).

Once inside the center, I was assigned to assist with the 8:45 AM presentation by game designer Jane McGonigal entitled "Serious Play". The second image shows the room before she began her talk. One think I learned was I need some sort of tripod to help take low light shots. My other pictures of presentations turned out quit blurry. The lesson I learned as a volunteer is direct the people first showing up to the farther side of the room because people coming in late need to sit at the seats closer to the door. By the end we had a lot of people standing along the room edges.
Also run power cords to the tables for the bloggers or have seats that are near outlets. I directed computer users to these seats for the next two presentations I was assigned to.

The next presentation at 10:15 AM, John Gauntt's "The World in Your Pocket", I collected tickets and stayed in the hallway to let late comers in the room. You can see the empty hallway shot so at times there was not much to do. A group came and started to install art for the next speaker who was using it to raise money for their cause. This presentation was the 11:45 AM "Making a Difference 3.0" by Kenn Parks and Christophe Poizat. I was in the room for most of this one since it did not require tickets.

After this was over by 1 PM, my shift was over and I walked to the Louisville Science Center to volunteer there. My time there was spent helping people with the new Nanotechnology exhibit and older World We Create exhibit.

Friday, September 26, 2008

IdeaFestival Taste of Innovations - Louisville, Kentucky

Last night, I attended Taste of Innovations at the IdeaFestival held at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

Taste of Innovations is an event where attendees can sample dishes from restaurants and food suppliers in the Louisville area. It seemed like maybe 20 places were distributing food or drinks. I got to sample scallops and rice, bison beef on crackers, stir fried beef with rice, eggplant caviar on crackers with cheese, and lima bean-tomato soup. They had steak and shrimp but the line was a little long there. For desert, I sampled Kentucky bourbon fudge, a sorbet with flowers, Derby pie, and my favorite a mocha-bourbon truffle.

It was a great time at a great location. The room was lit in this wonderful blue color with projections of the orange and white IdeaFestival logo on different screens and walls. The music and announcements were not too loud so people were able to have conversations. Everything was spaced out well so it was pretty easy to obtain food. It was very easy to get deserts and drinks. Brown-Foreman produces some excellent cocktails with different products. I especially liked a drink made with Korbel California Champagne with a fruit punch. I also had several tea drinks that my have had whiskey in them and one had a taste of ginger.

A good time was had by all.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

IdeaFestival 21c Hotel Party

Walking back to the Louisville Science Center parking lot after volunteering at the IdeaFestival setup on Wednesday, September 24, 2008, I came across a opening day IdeaFestival party at 21c Hotel. After looking at the first photo more closely, the man in the middle of it wearing a dark blue suit is Louisville's mayor Jerry Abramson. It good to see him out and about.

When I was walking to the convention center earlier I saw groups of people dressed in dark slacks and white shirts and later figured out it was members of Best Buy's Geek Squad who are a primary sponsor of IdeaFestival.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

IdeaFestival at Louisville Kentucky

I volunteered today as I did last year on IdeaFestival setup day at the Kentucky International Convention Center and here are some pictures I took as I was leaving. A lot less to do this year than last since not as many ID badges are being used to be more "green". Also no posters were made so we did not have to roll those or as many varieties of shirts so less sorting and folding there.

The staff had everything under control and it was very smooth. I just help hand out pre-ordered tickets and prepared some ID badges for old times sake.

Here is the main lobby.

Here is the information booth for city of Louisville.

Media area for producing reports during the festival.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fossil Festival at Falls of the Ohio State Park

Every year the Falls of the Ohio state park in Clarksville, Indiana has a fossil festival. This year I got to volunteer there for the KYANA Geological Society and it was a great time. I think over 300 people participated in our educational activity and hopefully learned some things about geology and paleontology.