My First TAM

So I just got home from my first TAM, and it was indeed amazing.  I’m glad my first TAM was a “fractional” 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.  Here’s the best of TAM 5.5 from my perspective:

Meeting skeptics was definitely the best part for me.  And I got to meet a lot of them – all fun, clever, and interesting, with or without alcohol.  Meeting Rebecca and the Skepchick bloggers (a.real.girl, masala skeptic, and Sam), in particular, was awesome on so many levels.  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). 

I have to say, for a bunch of purportedly clever folks, we had the worst time finding a good restaurant.  On the first night we went to a Mexican place and the service wasn’t just slow…it was weird.  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.  That was against the rules.  Then they took a good hour to bring our food, even though we were pretty much the only ones there.  But it was cool because it gave us time to chitchat and we had nowhere to go anyway.  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.  On the second night, Sam, myself and a couple other skeptics went in search of an Italian place recommended by the concierge.  After 20 minutes of driving, all we’d found was that in Fort Lauderdale, chiropractic clinics are as ubiquitous as Starbucks.  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.  So much for careful thought and planning. 

But it wasn’t all eating and socializing.  The speakers were fantastic.  Besides Rebecca’s inspiring and informative presentation about how she became a public radio show winner, my favorite was Mark Roberts’ speech about the 911 Truth Movement, which I think is a very important and relevant topic.  He was not only knowledgeable and thorough, but also upbeat and entertaining.  Michael Stackpole gave a speech that was interesting from a psychological perspective.  He basically talked about how to appeal to the mainstream as a skeptic.  And Randi gave a really interesting expose of the magic behind Uri Gellar’s spoon bending.  (I later performed this trick on a plastic spoon – it wasn’t quite as amazing). 

Last, I can’t leave out the Skepchick party.  Rebecca’s parties have a reputation and this one was no exception.  Without recounting every detail, here are the top three things I recall: 

  • 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 “one” more.  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.  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.  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 – it was a blast!  There are incriminating photos, but they were taken by other people who hopefully will post them soon. So today I’m recovering and looking forward to TAM 6!

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  1. Great post, Stacey! I heartily agree that the very best thing was meeting up with so many Skepchick bloggers at once. We're forming quite an awesome skeptical family. And a sexy family at that (besides Sam, who is frankly quite a hideous girl). I was going to post about yesterday but I just can't quite form complex sentences right now. So, later.

  2. Alas, I did not make it to the end of the Skepchick party but I heard the stories (and have seen the photos). We left around the first time the cops showed up and were walking out as they were walking in. They said "Good timing!" in a rather surly way. I was so proud :-)

    I'm actually still in Ft. Lauderdale – we don't leave until tomorrow so we're going to drag the last lingerers out for a drink and dinner soon. It was wonderful to see everyone! *sigh* I love TAM.

  3. I'm with Stacey, Sam & Rebecca. It was great to meet the team, or at least part of the team. I'm going on record as saying Sam's a sexy thang regardless.

    I was a tiny bit disappointed that there wasn't a (fractional) chocolate challenge at the party, which I would totally own, it was nonetheless quite the shin-dig.

  4. I want my pullover back :(, sides that It was awesome, I learned a valuable lesson, A diet of Famous Amos cookies and whiskey don't mix. If that can't happen keep it as a special skeptical present. I forget when I got back, I swear i'm usually not that much of lightweight, its actually kind of embarrassing because I can outdrink any of my friends. I hope to see everyone again at TAM 6 though.

  5. Tom – I think we were all in the same boat, so no worries. :) I left early this morning before anyone got up and left the pullover at the hotel thinking you might ask the front desk. Email [email protected] with the address you'd like it mailed to and I'll call and ask them to mail it.

  6. What about another TAM in Atlantic City or summat? After all, A.C. was once touted as the East Coast's answer to Vegas.

    Best of all, it'd be a mere two hour drive for me! :D

  7. The problem with the skeptic-party is becoming the fact it just keeps getting better and better (and as a result, more and more, jealous people call the cops because they weren't invited).

    This doesn't bode well for TAM6. We'll need to come up with a good solution for that. Seriously …

  8. It was so nice to meet other skepchicks at TAM 5.5 and I enjoyed talking to you Stacy at Rebecca's party. Too bad I missed the swimming on Saturday – I'll make up for it at TAM 6 :)

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