I’m at a small conference for technologies in renewable energy. It’s pretty standard fare for a convention center: drab, cool greys and warm beige tones, upholstery that is neither itchy nor comfortable, collapsable metal legs on tables and chairs. I’m here with a student contingent — all these faces that I recognize from high school but I only can remember one name (“Judy”). The teacher’s name completely blanks on me. We’re too old to be in high school. Each of us is presenting a paper there. Mine is on hard drive technology, calculated the smallest possible practical size, and power consumption reduction techniques. Our prof/mentor is the one with the big surprise paper. I sit through someone else’s presentation and I’m not too moved. I can’t remember what the topic was but I applaud politely. My turn. Of course there are technical problems. My prepped slideshow doesn’t load and I’m forced to put my notes down on the projector. They look different when my handwriting is five feet high. Suddenly my witty remarks and clever segues dissolve into mumbled excuses. Most of the contingent leaves to get lunch rather than witness my embarrassment. For whatever reason, the back wall of our room falls down to reveal a warehouse scene behind us. I get through my presentation but at the price of any respect they may have had for me.
I take my seat. Judy tries to convince me that I did fine. She doesn’t sound too convinced herself.
The prof skips over everyone else’s presentation and goes right into hers. CONTROVERSY! I biologically engineered plant that bears fuel cell seeds! I needs an aluminum rich soil apparently in order to have enough of that mineral to grow the shell. But the beauty is that the shell is recyclable and everything else is waste-free, biodegradable, and totally renewable! For some reason she offers to sleep with anyone that doubts her — for some reason that’s where the proof will be.