Talk by Dr. Christina Lampe-Onnerud, founder of Boston Power

Note: I am not an engineer. I found out about this talk through the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) list; Women in Computer Science (WiCS) had been talking about the scarcity of women in startups in general, so I was curious enough to go to this seminar. (Talk? I’d call it a talk with Q&A.)

From what I understood, Dr. Lampe-Onnerud founded Boston Power with battery technology that beat the competition on cost, performance, and environmental sustainability. [Why aren’t all batteries better, like these?]

Anyway, Dr. Lampe-Onnerud was an amazing speaker. She had the enthusiasm of telling a very interesting fairy tale — and in some ways, the meteoric rise of Boston Power did seem like a fairy tale. Directors in high government in China giving overnight permission. Such powerful technology in packets that look like pastel bars of soap and snap together like legos. Props from a bag.

No magic, though — probably a ton of hard work, hard-earned expertise in technology, law, and international business, infectious optimism;; these things, I wager, are relevant to any startup.

Gruesome Playground Injuries – Wilbury Theater Group at the Perishable Theater

Preface: I haven’t seen a lot of stage plays, but I’ve read a few of them and been trained (at the K-12 level) in their analysis.

tl;dr: it was really good, you should go see it.  // throws token into fund for comma splices

The stage has lots of boxes, looks like a perpetual attic; there are only two actors, for characters Dougie and Kayleen. I think Dougie calls Kayleen ‘Laney’ sometimes. (I checked NYT for the spelling of Kayleen. This seems like the sort of name on the spelling of which  that the Car Talk guys would love to speculate. “Is that with an ‘ene'” asks Click — “Or ‘een’?” interjects Clack.)

There really are lots of gruesome playground injuries. Physical injuries — sliced open face, black eye, missing eye — bring the characters together in a series of scenes, each marked by the crepuscular characters’ hauling a marked cardboard box to the front of the stage. Between scenes, the characters change entirely on stage:  mud and make up are applied, the actors are bare to bra and boxers; it’s all very neat.

“Did it hurt?” “You’re so stupid!” are Kayleen’s key phrases. Her emotionally abusive father has crippled her ability to be emotionally vulnerable, and instead, she hurts herself physically, by cutting — just skin at first — and later, attempting to cut out her stomach. She needs Dougie, and Dougie needs her.

It’s clear that the play explores the connection between emotional and physical pain, and emotional and physical accessibility. Laney seems to be able to be truly honest in her monologue to the comatose Dougie, having done something stupid on the roof before his wedding, which would never happen; in the end, she overcomes something-or-other and manages to open, emotionally, to Doug, but only after he’s somehow become a paraplegic.

As a young man, he can’t admit this, but after the idiocy of youth, every injury he inflicts on himself is a vain effort to reach to Laney. He loves her. He can’t bear to see her in pain, but the optimal (or only) outlet seems to be high-risk activities that diminish his ability to interact with the physical world. First his sight, then his legs. (weak quotation:) “Climbing up a telephone is easy. Getting down — in the rain — you were unlisted … — is harder.” (The former hockey player, struck by lightning? having fallen?, becomes a paraplegic.)

It’s interesting that the actors bare much of their bodies in this play that dramatizes the risks of not exposing our emotions.

At first I really didn’t like the play because the characters could do two things that I can’t:

1. hunch

2. vomit

and I thought it was about a sort of middle america that I would never be able to relate to. No. anyone can relate to the risks of emotional reticence.

Efficiency and Inefficiency

You probably knew this already, but a big part of the reason I go to East Side Pocket is to watch them be efficient. Their system is perfect. If you want something warm and meaty, you can get it with a predictable short wait. The bottleneck is the grill, but it’s a very wide bottleneck. If you’re in a rush, busting ass to get somewhere, you can get a falafel wrap, and 99/100 times, you’ll be served before everyone waiting for meat.

So where was I busting ass to get to today? My senior photo sitting. Totally inconsequential because I’m not buying a copy; I guess the yearbook gets a copy, but I’m not getting a yearbook.

It’s in Hillel. I knew this. Where in Hillel, I did not remember to remember.
I walk into Hillel; get ignored; ask the receptionist where the photographer was, and the receptionist was unaware of the existence of a photographer. Blind eye?

I stop up the stairs (thankfully all the canopies do not occlude wifi), check my calendar. Ok! The sitting is in here. Find the sitting. Listless girl speaking in non-rhotic dialect that I can barely understand. Some semblance of a list that I am not on; the manager-looking guy, oldish fattish white man in mint green short sleeve shirt and ugly tie, tells her that it’s not really complete, that some people won’t show up, etc. I insist firmly that I have the 12:15, she finds my sheet within the pile ; at least these were sorted (maybe the sheets had the times and she wasn’t going just by my insistence). It’s 12:25 by this time.

I am in the queue to go next. Fumbly fumbly fumbly. Everyone is fumbly. Dialect girl is texting and looking at her phone. Manager guy just has to go out and take a call. Poor photographer is dealing with new equipment and is understandably fumbly.

Listless dialect girl comes in to ask, on behalf of the girl with the 12:45 appointment (who has class at 1 — girl, are you really really that busy all the rest of this week? this is known as a ‘bad scheduling choice’), whether he was running on time.

“As much as I can be,” says fumbly photog.

YOu numbnut! Own up to it! You were 10 minutes behind for my appointment. YOu are 15 minutes behind when I’m done. Own up to that you’ve made some grave scheduling mistakes and reschedule the poor girl; don’t give this stupid scrotal line of non-information! You are late — listless dialect girl shouldn’t even have to ask — you are running late, you have mischeduled, you have NOT made nice with Hillel and gotten their receptionist to know what’s going on or be polite to your customers; dammit!

Ok, person at 12:30 just came out, so now they are back to 10 minutes behind. 1:00 guy just got here. Dapper suit. IN for a surprise.

Yearbook, if a good portion of your portraits look like they have a hint of ‘pissed off,’ this is why.