MD and I just got finished with Renaissance Weekend late yesterday and have spent the time since trying to catch up. We’ve been invited to attend one of these gettogethers for the past several years, but haven’t been able to work it in with our schedules. This Presidents’ Day the organizers had the meeting in Santa Barbara, it worked for us schedule-wise, so we went. We’ve both been kicking ourselves since for not attending earlier. (Click here for more information)
It was one of the most intellectually stimulating weekends (very long weekends) I’ve ever spent. There were a handful of Nobel laureates in attendance along with presidents of major universities, CEOs of giant corporations, MacArthur Grant recipients, presidential speechwriters, former cabinet members, directors, producers, actors, federal and state judges, historians, Olympic athletes, and a host of other accomplished people. All attendees participate in lectures, panels, and group discussions. Despite the diverse political viewpoints and the large number of political discussions, the entire affair was conducted with perfect civility.
There was much interest in the low-carb diet, and MD and I made our case every opportunity we had. The one thing that struck me was the abysmal level of ignorance in basic nutrition found in otherwise very, very smart people. I can’t tell you how many people I had ask me to tell them exactly what a carbohydrate is. In going back to an earlier post, people have been pounded for so long with the fat-is-bad hammer that they all know what fat is, but many still don’t have a good grasp of carbohydrates. MD and I did our best to educate.
I thought I was going to have time to blog and do a whole lot of other stuff while this meeting was going on, but I was soon disabused of that notion. The program started at 7:30 AM and ran until about 10:30 PM. Then the socializing began. Thank God our dietary regimen allows for alcohol (in moderation, of course).
We’ve come home to a giant stack of snail mail, email, blog comments, and phone messages. I’m trying to get through my share of all this backlog and get to blogging. I’ll try to get caught up on all the comments and get a real post up tomorrow.
If you get the opportunity to attend a Renaissance Weekend, I highly encourage you to take it.


  1. I’m always a little puzzled when I talk to people and who don’t totally get what a carbohydrate is. When I describe how I eat they start asking “can you have potatoes?” When I say I choose not to they ask “how about bread”, and then “what about pasta”, and then “can you eat pizza”, and so on. They just can’t seem to connect the dots. I do find that most of the people I talk to get it though (or at least pretend to).

  2. My boss is getting ready to go to his first Renaissance Weekend, and is apprehensive of the roles he has been asked to do. Can you send me an email with some insight as to the structure that is used in the groups? Thanks for any assistance you can give.
    Hi Eva–
    Tell the boss not to worry. the whole thing is fairly nonthreatening. If he doesn’t want to serve on a panel he simply doesn’t show up for it. If he does serve on a panel it’s the kind of thing where he will give a brief talk and the audience will ask questions.
    For each panel there is a leader. Typically the leaders gather the people for their panels the day before and spend 10-15 minutes going over how that specific panel will work. Some involve little presentations; in others the leader gives a little talk, introduces the ‘experts’ and the audience asks questions.
    The participation on the various panels is driven by what people answer to the various questions they are asked in the sign up form. For example, one of the spaces asked for participants to list interesting things they had done. My wife put down, among other things, that we had run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain a couple of years back. She got put on a panel a people describing out-of-the-ordinary vacation destinations and experiences. She gave a couple of minute talk about our experiences and fielded some questions.
    All in all it’s a great experience. There will be many, many people there who are in the same boat and don’t have a clue as to what’s going on, but after about half a day or so, it all becomes clear.
    He’ll have a great time.

  3. Recently, I have read the book “Chasing Daylight” written by Eugene O’Kelly. In the book, he mentioned something about “Renaissance Weekend.” The writer did not attend this event; instead, he just heard it from one of his friends who was invited to the meeting. During one Renaissance Weekend, some participants were asked to give an impromptu speech in three minutes. They had to imagine passing away after the speech. Indeed, their speeches were absorbing and touching. The point what the writer wanted to express based on their attitude toward death which was also the imminent problem for O’Kelly at that time. What the participants said were not related to their achievements, so O’Kelly supposed that they must think the issue before, that is, how to face death seriously. Otherwise, they cannot deal with it well. Therefore, I surf the internet and try to find something about “Renaissance Weekend.” Since the meeting is off the record, I wonder if it is possible to know something further about what they said in the speeches, in other words, how famous people face the issue, or what their philosophy of life in dealing with it. It’s true that there are a lot of books dealing with the issue, death, and people have to ponder it over seriously. With O’Kelly’s experience, it is worthwhile to cherish what we own and how to live at the moment.
    Hi Li-ling Chuang–
    Sorry, but I can’t help you. At the Renaissance Weekend we attended no one made such a speech. The format changes from weekend to weekend, so I suppose we attended one that didn’t have that particular series of speeches.

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