Sunday, July 5, 2015

Washington Arts, Light and Dark

Wednesday is the NACUA conference closing day, with a sense of shared achievement as the delegates attend the final two sessions. I started with a panel discussion "The Cloud - It's not just for email anymore", talking about Big Data, enterprise software and outsourced network protection, Again, the Americans are ahead of Australia on crunching the numbers and navigating through regulatory thickets. It's a problem for the Legal Department because e-discovery includes retrieving all electronic documents from "agents" such as cloud providers, but in turn those cloud providers may outsource or subcontract parts of the network, back-up storage or security and encryption.

The last session was "I Need a Favor" - explaining conflicts of interest to the governing board. There are over 50,000 "great and the good" on American University governing boards, and they have a - ahem - range of attitudes towards using their University position for business. One University board wanted to pre-approve and shortlist companies owned by members of the governing board for any University procurement, which doesn't quite work as a disinterested board member. There are smaller ethical issues - for example is it ok for Board members to do new business with each other, and to use University meetings to talk shop?

Then, like the last day of school, the Uni lawyers were set free upon the world. We went into Washington for food and art, and found both. I met Lynda back at the Smithsonian, and she reported on the sculpture garden nearby.

I've mentioned before that I have found Mexican food less than inspiring, so with faith and hope we went to a highly-rated Mexican restaurant Oyamel. The decor is artistic, and the food is served tapas-style in small plates. We started with Hawaiian Sunfish ceviche, which was excellent with very fresh guacamole. Next some duck on little meze cakes and then chopped grasshoppers from Mexico in a crisp taco. Finally a duck confit leg, which was not very Mexican but very tasty,

"Grasshoppers, eh?"
Suitably fortified for the Art ahead, we walked down to the National Gallery of Art. The venue is monumental and gorgeous, lots of marble statuary in towering halls leading to a central atrium with towering marble columns. Too much to see in one visit, so we cruised the new exhibitions and stopped when we saw something extra-special.

Then a stroll back to the subway, checking out the pretentious Imperial confidence of the national buildings and a lost commitment to build monuments for the millennium.

One last treat - with SOUL colleagues Jo and Jennifer and two others we went to the Kennedy Center to see The Book of Mormon, a funny and rude musical. I'd had a recommendation from my Dean of Arts, who'd seen the show with a bunch of UWA execs on a UWA Alumi visit. Our party laughed like drains and it was a good night out.

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