The dress rehearsal, less than 24 hours before the TED talk. When the Orbitar didn’t work.

Despite my constant pestering of the TED folks, it seemed my one chance to test out, well, everything, was at 3:00pm the day before my talk. So there I was, a ball of nerves amidst the complete chaos that is TEDxBeacon Street less than 24 hours before the event. As I darted to and fro in an impatient frenzy (they were running behind schedule…by a few hours), the Orbitar gazed quietly and cautiously into the empty seats from the shinny stage. Every now and then a gentleman would yell for everyone to hush and the chaos was slightly quelled. He was attempting to tune a grand piano. Why, in the middle of complete chaos, he was sent to tune this piano, I will never know.

tedstage orbitar


Natan and I made ourselves comfy in the front row and unloaded a pile of Orbitar cables and routers and wires. The Orbitar turned right on, and everything appeared to be working just fine. And so we sat. And paced. And did occasional handstands. And waited for the go ahead to do a run through.

tedstage handstand

After almost giving up and leaving, more than once, the time finally came. And I stood in the center of that infamous red carpeted TED dot (which they thought was missing a piece for about 3 hours, as you can see from the picture above, but it was actually just put together wrong. How many geniuses does it take to put together a circular carpet…) and between the Orbitar glove and the fancy lavalier mic, I looked like the crazy cyborg I had always dreamed of.

So I started spinning. And I guess both me and the Orbitar were quite nervous, because it wasn’t responding the way it normally did. Actually, it was hardly responding at all. And upon closer inspection of the data, it was in fact, not working. Every few seconds, the numbers would just…stop. And then start again. And then stop. The thing we all had feared deep in our hearts, the thing we had no way to test for except in this very moment, was happening. Something, out of all the crazy technology in the room, was interfering with the Orbitar data. And we had no way to figure out what. I was so distraught, I just left. I didn’t troubleshoot. I didn’t call Orbitar engineer Jacob for help. I didn’t do anything. I went home, I mentally prepared to give the best speech possible (knowing that the speech might be all there was), and fell into a restless sleep.