From Qs to Kangaroos.
2021 was a bizarre, grueling year for everyone. I’ve been off-grid on a lot of media lately sorting through some of it. But as we hit the Lunar New Year-I’m ready to crawl out of my hermit-y cave and re-enter the digital world and move forward towards all the lovely beachy sunrises at the end of the tunnel. So on top of all the COVID sadnesses, here’s a recap of my personal and professional ups and hilarious downs over the past year:
· My family’s house in California burned down in the Caldor fires, in addition to losing my car and my mom losing all of her everyday everything — -we lost centuries worth of memorabilia from my long-lived family who were notorious for being collectors and amassing a unique cabinet of curiosities-98% of which went up in flames. Massive failures as caretakers of all that history.
Here’s a video pan I made of the car/house ruins for all to see:
· I was bit by a bat (yes a bat, most likely a Little Brown Bat) that wandered into the living room of my rental in Great Falls. Many shots and hospital visits later — and I did not, thankfully, acquire rabies. Though sadly I did not acquire vampire super powers either.
· I did, however, acquire two more academic degrees (bringing the grand total up to six when not including the PhD I didn’t finish #metoo). The new ones are in International Relations and Security Studies with an emphasis on technology security from Kings College, London and an MBA re: International business and marketing from Quantic. Given that for every one degree a random dude has, a woman has to have six to keep pace and be seen as comparably competitive — maybe I’m finally at par? We’ll see. If previous experience is any indication — doubtful.
· I closed a bunch of really exciting venture deals and built some mega collaborations between the intelligence community and very cool start-ups (details redacted, because: obviously). Hopefully preparing them a bit for spatial computing, the next wave of GEOINT, and the metaverse to come (?).
· I left In-Q-Tel and the US intelligence community and — oh my — what a relief it is not to have to do all that extra life paperwork for security purposes and not to have to look at the world through the bureaucratic, narrow, and increasingly dangerously insular and nationalist lens of the CIA, FBI, NSA, and all of my other three letter friends.
· After years of espousing the emerging geopolitical and technological importance of Australia on the global stage and having fallen madly in love with it after working out here for a hot sec in Alice Springs a few years ago — I moved to Australia! I am currently house-hunting in South Australia (any hot tips-the market here is crazytown??!). I have picked up a rather fabulous 4WD landcruiser for off-road adventuring (of which there has already been heaps), and am digital nomading from an assortment of fabulous AirBnBs with extraordinary views.
· And finally — drumroll — -I started a new job in Australia as a Principal for Innovation and Ventures on the Strategy and Integration team at BHP — one of the 100 largest companies in the world and top mining company in the industry. Mining, historically, has been a testbed of human technological and social innovation throughout the millennia. Tech companies might be providing the software and hardware but at their root — everything tech lives and breathes based on the materials the mining industry can provide. It’s the starting point of the technology chain. And archaeometallurgy and imaging ancient and modern copper mines was my world once upon a time on long-ago work in Jordan and Cyprus and San Diego. It’s nice to come back home to mining and even more so — exciting to be part of a company dedicated to gender equality and sustainability and with significant clout to actually do something about it. And given that they are keen to have me continue poking at my favorite tech topics and how they serve the mining industry and might serve BHP specifically, finding ways to push forward on applied innovation and progress, and strategize on social and technological change for that longue duree of human civilization that I’m always going on and on about –I am incredibly excited to be here and to be part of such a wonderful team.
All in all, definitely a few setbacks in 2021, but also a year of forward movement and big life changes.
Many of the above incidents and related topics deserve blogs of their own. I especially have a lot to say about:
· the pre- and post- tech around wildfires and insurance having gone through the wildfire horror
· the value of remote learning (and constant lifelong interdisciplinary learning as a Renaissance naturalist ideal society should return to)
· the current concerning state of the intelligence community
· The progress of innovation in Australia and its potential as the future cultural hegemon as the US’s power wanes (China can’t convert the west so quickly, the UK can’t reclaim their empire — but there’s Australia already bridging between them and dominating in tech areas like computer vision and augmented reality and winning over cultural industries like Hollywood and gaming-providing the balance of West meets East that they have always arbitrated, etc etc).
But I’m still drowning in logistics, getting stood up on my new team in a new company in a new country, while continuing to work on my anxiety and PTSD diagnoses, build a new life for myself, etc.
And that’s a lot. So more blogs might have to wait as I transition from overwhelmed to whelmed. But for now — I’m getting back out there on all the assorted digital platforms as me in my new country and in my new role. So let’s chat, reconnect, catch up, and start planning out some more marvelous misadventures in tech and society. xxx