Thursday, May 20, 2010

A visit to mt olympus

John Jr. playing under John F. Kennedy's Oval Office Desk, 1963

Today I was invited to the Bureau of Meteorology headquarters to give a talk to the management committee of the research program I'm involved with. Someone described this as a "visit to mt olympus" where the titans of water and weather in Australia reside. The lineage is that I was talking to my boss's boss's boss's boss's boss. I had about 15 minutes of their time to do something a bit like an elevator pitch on what I'm doing and why our work is important.

The most surreal part of it was that the meeting was in the executive boardroom, in a posh and locked off part of the Bureau headquarters. I sat next to the person at the very tip top of the org chart for the Bureau and was video conferenced in to Canberra where there was another inner circle of Bureau and CSIRO heavyweights. The talk went well, they were very gracious and friendly.

I was surprised at how similar going to the executive offices was like it is in the movies, going into the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies, Art-Deco-Empire (except a bit more Ikea). I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit star struck. The best part? I stumbled into the executive washroom (which, yes, had a lock on the door but was ajar). I didn't steal any embroidered linens, but it was a heady day in all.

Back when I was a wee grad student, I had the honor of getting seated at a banquet next to Joe Friday, the former executive of the US National Weather Service, the equivalent of who I met today. Of all the directors, he was especially revered by the people under him. As usual, no real clue who I was sitting next to at the time...

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