So I just got home from my first TAM, and it was indeed amazing.Â Iâ€™m glad my first TAM was a â€œfractionalâ€ one because it was a smaller, more intimate group and I really got to meet and hang out with a lot of cool skeptics instead of being overwhelmed by the crowd.Â Hereâ€™s the best of TAM 5.5 from my perspective:
Meeting skeptics was definitely the best part for me.Â And I got to meet a lot of them â€“ all fun, clever, and interesting, with or without alcohol.Â Meeting Rebecca and the Skepchick bloggers (a.real.girl, masala skeptic, and Sam), in particular, was awesome on so many levels.Â Rebecca effortlessly morphed between poised speaker and party host and I can confirm that Sam is, indeed, the ugliest Skepchick (though he makes a pretty good skepdude).Â
I have to say, for a bunch of purportedly clever folks, we had the worst time finding a good restaurant.Â On the first night we went to a Mexican place and the service wasnâ€™t just slowâ€¦it was weird.Â First of all, the place had pitchers (we know this because we had pitchers of water at our table) and margaritas (which we got in glasses), but refused to mix the two.Â That was against the rules.Â Then they took a good hour to bring our food, even though we were pretty much the only ones there.Â But it was cool because it gave us time to chitchat and we had nowhere to go anyway.Â At that dinner I got to meet Phil Plait in person and hear about the disturbing cosmic threats that will appear in his new book, which is due in October.Â On the second night, Sam, myself and a couple other skeptics went in search of an Italian place recommended by the concierge.Â After 20 minutes of driving, all weâ€™d found was that in Fort Lauderdale, chiropractic clinics are as ubiquitous as Starbucks.Â We eventually just decided to stop at the next plaza and eat at whatever restaurant happened to be there, and of course it was fantastic.Â So much for careful thought and planning.Â
But it wasnâ€™t all eating and socializing.Â The speakers were fantastic.Â Besides Rebeccaâ€™s inspiring and informative presentation about how she became a public radio show winner, my favorite was Mark Robertsâ€™ speech about the 911 Truth Movement, which I think is a very important and relevant topic.Â He was not only knowledgeable and thorough, but also upbeat and entertaining.Â Michael Stackpole gave a speech that was interesting from a psychological perspective.Â He basically talked about how to appeal to the mainstream as a skeptic.Â And Randi gave a really interesting expose of the magic behind Uri Gellarâ€™s spoon bending.Â (I later performed this trick on a plastic spoon â€“ it wasnâ€™t quite as amazing).Â
Last, I canâ€™t leave out the Skepchick party.Â Rebeccaâ€™s parties have a reputation and this one was no exception.Â Without recounting every detail, here are the top three things I recall:Â
- This was to be expected, but the cops were, of course, called and hotel security received so many complaints that they threatened to add hundreds of dollars to the bill if they received â€œoneâ€ more.Â We attempted to bring the party down to a whisper for about five minutes and then headed to the pool.
- Rebecca and I jumped in the pool, fully clothed, early in the evening.Â We continued to party for another six hours during which she dried up in five minutes and I was soaked and pathologically freezing for the rest of the night.Â I borrowed sweaters from random skeptics and swaddled myself in bed linens from numerous hotels.
- I got back to my hotel room around 5 am after a sobering conversation about scientology killed my buzz.
All in all â€“ it was a blast!Â There are incriminating photos, but they were taken by other people who hopefully will post them soon.Â So today Iâ€™m recovering and looking forward to TAM 6!