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TAM 7 Wrap-up and Thanks (Warning: Mushy)

To talk about this weekend’s events at The Amaz!ng Meeting 7, I realized I’d first have to talk about The Amaz!ng Meeting 4, which occurred in Las Vegas in January of 2006. Luckily, this takes little to no effort because I already wrote about it here for Skepchick Magazine, the monthly e-zine that we produced before focusing entirely on the blog. Last night, I dug up my archived copy of that article and recreated it as a blog post, which you can find here. All the photos are the same, and the captions are now hover text.

Reading this now is pretty amusing for me, since a lot has changed in just a few years. I mention a poker-playing, whiskey-drinking roommate, who you all may know today as Sam Ogden, aka the one and only boy on Skepchick. Fellow Skepchick Evelyn is also mentioned as giving us a tour of Red Rocks. A grand total of four current Skepchick writers appear in the photos.

The reason why I bring it up now, though, is for two references to someone I met at TAM 4. The first, under the Saturday overview, is this:

And I left, by the way, at around 1 am when the party was still raging. Also, I was wearing UK skeptic Sid Rodrigues’ Chuck Taylors — yet another example of a charitable skeptic, this time helping out a girl with cold feet who couldn’t stand to wear her pink high heels a second longer.

And then at the end:

I walked into the darkened lounge. It was after midnight and they were closing down, but in Vegas apparently you can just go wherever you want no matter what. As I walked past the bar to the tables in the back next to the giant glass doors that overlooked the pool, I saw that there was one other person there. Sid, who had so graciously given me his shoes a few nights ago, sat alone smoking a cigarette and enjoying a beer. At this point, as I settled in next to him to just be quiet and stare out the windows, I realized my favorite aspect of TAM. Somehow, wherever you go, you’re not alone. In a vast world that seems so fraught with misinformation and superstition, we collect in this basin of sin and false promises and we make it our own. We overrun the bars and the elevators and the poker tables and pretend for a weekend that we live in a world of logic and intellect.

Sid and I talked a while, and decided that we should get married next year in Vegas, at TAM 5. He folded me an engagement ring out of a ten dollar bill and told me he didn’t mind if I hocked it the next morning for some breakfast (I was bluffing, I wouldn’t dare).

So if you’re interested, you’re all invited to the wedding. I was thinking we’d have Randi perform it, maybe in an Elvis get-up. I haven’t run this past Randi yet, but I think it’s right up his alley. After all, what else are we going to do to top this year?

(And the caption under the photo [at right] was “My sort of fiance and I.”)

Well, as many of you now know, Sid and I didn’t get married at TAM 5 but we did just get married at TAM 7, and Randi didn’t perform it but he did witness it. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our bizarre, improbable love than to surprise the 1,000 attendees of the skeptic conference where we first met. Luckily, the attendees (and those watching the live stream online) seemed to get a huge kick out of it. Also, a lot of people seemed curious as to what actually went down, what work went into it, and whether it was for real. I was going to allow the mystery to persist, but I really wanted to publicly thank those who made this very public event a success. So, here are my thank yous, which should spell out a little of the backstory.

Thanks to:

The Skepchick Team. When I mentioned to them last month that Sid and I were thinking of getting hitched, the email-version of “squeeeeeeeeee” was launched. They all made a serious effort to get there, with Tracy flying from London, Amanda from Maine, Jen taking a late-night plane on Friday just to wake up early the next day, and Karen enthusiastically joining in even though she’s one of our newest Skepchicks. A tore her way through red tape to fast-track a license to marry us, Maria got in touch with my mom, Elyse contacted Surly Amy to get special wedding necklaces made, Jill designed and drew gorgeous/hilarious post-wedding invitations to hand out to the crowd, Carrie cooked us all breakfast at the villa. They teamed up to brainstorm new ideas, they worked with my cousin to buy and create bouquets for everyone, they threw me a bachelorette party (with, yes, a stripper), and there was probably a crap-ton of behind-the-scenes stuff I didn’t even see. They coordinated their black outfits and red shoes, and even the Skepchicks (and SkepSam) who couldn’t make it helped out where they could. I know that Bug Girl, Sam, Chelsea, and Stacey would have been there if they could have. They all made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Also: let’s include the official Skepchick husbands, Tim and Christian, who were in the villa all weekend and were massively helpful at driving places (like to get marriage licenses) and keeping Sid entertained while I was subjected to a stripper.

Surly Amy, official jeweler of Skepchick. I met her for the first time at TAM7, and she was every bit as dynamic and smart as I suspected. Her husband Johnny was equally rad. I’ll stop there, because I’ll be writing more about Amy in another post . . .

The SGU, my fellow podcasters. Steve, Evan, Jay, and Bob were so up for anything it took to make the wedding as fun as possible. We first batted around the idea of having it take place during the Q&A while we recorded a show last month, and I was blown away by how happy they were to do this.

The JREF staff, who not only pulled off a nearly flawless conference (from an audience’s and speaker’s perspective), but also went above and beyond to accommodate our ridiculous plan. My long-time friend Phil Plait was in on the wedding plans from the start and was so helpful. Bart Farkas put up with tons of lip from me, Sean McCabe is just about the smoothest mofo out there, Jeff Wagg and Rich Montalvo let us stream the show live on Saturday AND archived it so that people could watch later for free, Karl and Linda Shallenberger were a joy to see even when they were running around doing a thousand things at once.

George Hrab, who I asked to participate in vague terms since at the start I had no idea how all this would go. He enthusiastically agreed and made spot-on suggestions for music he might play and what might be the funniest way for him to appear on stage. He played one of my favorite songs for our first dance (the Beach Boys’ God Only Knows) and then convinced nearly the entire TAM audience to get up and dance along, before 9am. Seriously. He is talented and charming and lovely in every way.

TV’s Adam Savage, who I ran into the day prior and spontaneously asked if he’d like to be in the wedding. He didn’t even hesitate. “But it’s going to be really early. Like, 8am.” “I’ll be there!” Not only did he show up and play his part beautifully, but he hung out afterward, taking photos with everyone and even signing an autograph for my cousin’s daughter. I’ve rarely met anyone so awesome and yet so down-to-earth and completely full of joy.

Hal Bidlack, who emceed the conference and ran the Q&A sessions for the SGU shows, which means that he was in on everything. He was uncharacteristically funny (just kidding), sweet, and supportive.

Maggie McFee, who became our go-to wedding photographer. She’s so talented, as you can see by browsing her Flickr sets here and here and here, and without her we’d have no perfectly-composed pictures of nearly naked people at the Skepchick party/wedding reception.

Tony Monje, owner of Ultimate Cupcakes in Texas. Tony didn’t know about the wedding but sent cupcakes to Vegas anyway, just because he’s awesome. We got them Friday night and shared them during the Skepchick party/reception Saturday night, adding to my mom’s cakes to equal the appropriate amount of wedding reception cake. And the reviews were totally positive!

My family. Not only did my parents, brothers, sister-in-law, and cousins all fly out to Vegas on short notice, but they made the whole wedding so much cooler. My mom made a tiered wedding cake, among other things, and my cousin Pam was some kind of wedding-prep machine. All of them got along wonderfully with my friends and managed to roll with the punches on an incredibly bizarre trip. I love them, and the event was a thousand times better with them there.

James Randi, who both Sid and I love and admire, and who we’re proud to call a friend. Obviously, if it weren’t for Randi, Sid and I never would have met and the world would be a darker place (for other reasons, as well). Randi’s energy and commitment are inspiring, and I hope to one day raise a glass with him at our 10th anniversary (at TAM 17?).

Everyone. Sid delivered a toast at the Skepchick party/reception Saturday night in which he mentioned how wonderful it was to celebrate with so many people who feel like a second family to us. There were the people we already knew, like Josh and Blake who flew out from Boston. There were all our friends from TAMs past like Kristoff, Kitty, Chip, Glenn and Lola, the Hursts, Scott Romanowski, Twylla, Simon, Paul A, the Marquis, Winslow, Mike Feldman, Tim Farley, DC, Scrut, Jonas and Mary Alice, at least three Matts, Evelyn, Jackie, Aaron, Sarah, and so many more, too many to list here and too many to even have had much time with—but just seeing them all and getting hugs was enough. And there were the people we had only just met, some of whom actually got us wedding presents, and tons of whom gave us hugs, well wishes, words of wisdom, and an incredibly satisfying feeling that if just one casino in the whole world was so full of sweet, kind people, then maybe humanity has a chance after all.

“Everyone” also includes all of you who didn’t make it, but who watched online or saw the pics or just heard it through the grapevine and sent us kind messages via email, Twitter, Facebook, smoke signals, telegraph, or psychic communication. And especially my friends Liz, Lauren, and Jared, who were watching at my apartment with Captain Infinity. Thank you!

My husband. Oh, right, I should really thank him as well. He makes my heart pound, he makes me laugh, he makes me lasagna, and he makes me a better person. I love him and I can’t wait to finally live on the same continent as him.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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  1. Excellent post, Rebecca.

    It was by pure fluke that I even got to see it on Ustream (I only found out that morning that it was being streamed!)

    I was sitting in my chair watching it unfold on my laptop, jaw dropped down to my lap, tears in my eyes. My wife and little girl had to ask what was going on, and I was just speechless.

    It felt like an honor to be able to watch it on the stream, and despite not being there, it felt like I was a part of it.

    Well done to everyone involved, and may you and Sid have many happy years together.

  2. Awwwww such a nice thing!

    I wish I had been there to raise a glass at what looks like the most fun party ever!

    Congratz again Rebecca and Sid!

    (and I LOVE the flash back to 2004… soooo sweet!)

  3. I was proud to be “forced against my will” to be there. I love how the events evolved from a continuation of a running joke, a joke on Rebecca, an elaborate joke on us, and then finally OMG Rebecca’s getting marriage right now!

    As I twittered at the time, in many ways Rebecca you’re the sister/daughter of the skeptical movement, and it felt right that we were all there sharing this moment.

    Congrats, Rebecca & Sid.

    BTW, which continent did you choose to live?

  4. Damnit Watson… why’d you have to set the contrast on this post so high? That’s gotta be what made my eyes start to water while reading it, right? I mean, seriously :-P

    Anyway, congratulations again :) The way I see it, after countless hundreds of surly posts, you’re allowed one mushy post. Just don’t let the balance slip too far… I fully expect the contents of your next post to be capable of cutting a hobo in half at 50 paces!

  5. Waaah! I’m named Sid too (well, short for Siddharth). Where do I sign up to marry a Skepchick?

    Kidding aside, congratulations to both of you! I sat down to watch the live stream to watch a routine SGU recording, was pleasantly surprised to see Jay’s “secret project” being screened, and then even more pleasantly surprised to see a wedding break out!

    It was great. Thanks for sharing it with the skeptical community. Best wishes to both of you.

  6. What a sweet post! It was a beautiful, unforgettable moment in time. So happy Johnny and I got to be there and we wish you both a lifetime of happiness.

  7. I think I may have mentioned the love… I love you, Rebecca… and Sid… and this crazy group of amazing girls. For everything you’ve done for the skeptical community, and for all you’ve done for me, being involved in the hostile takeover of your wedding plans was the least I could do.

    But this is the LAST secret surprise wedding with 1000+ guests I’m ever planning for you, Rebecca!


    Is that what it is? I thought it was those damn onion chopping cats hiding under my laptop… they chased me all over Vegas last weekend.

  8. It was such an honor to be there, Rebecca, and to get to hang out with you and Sid again.

    And damn those onion chopping cats, my face is all wet again.

  9. I wish I had gotten to see this live when it happened but the JREF kindly replayed it on the stream in between events later in the day. It was amazingly cool and sweet.

    Congratulations and I wish you lots of happiness and future TAMs. Hopefully I’ll meet you at the next one.

  10. Rebecca, if being known as your “poker-playing, whiskey-drinking roommate” is the best I ever do, I’ll die a very happy man.

    I’m still pissed you left me in our room that night at TAM4 in the midst of what can only be described as the biggest geek-fest west of Dragon*Con. But if I had gone down to the lounge with you that night, we’d both be married to Sid now, and that could be a little awkward.

    But seriously, all the years we roomed together at TAMs, and all the fun we had, and all the booze we drank, I can’t even think of that conference without seeing your face. And my heart is broken that I had to miss it this year, the year you and Sid started a new life together. I am sorry.

    But you know I love you, and I’ll be there with, at least in thought, no matter what continent you land on.

  11. That was so sweet. Since finally being getting to talk to you at this past Skepchickcon, you have quickly become someone I can call a good friend. Each and every skepchick is amazing, and some of them are people that I would do anything in an instant with no questions asked, but it comes back to you Rebecca and the fact that you are the one that somehow (despite not knowing each of their personalities too much beforehand) managed to unite them into this amazing bond.

    It was my honour to have shared in the festivities at TAM7 with you and Sid, and my only regret is that TAM had to end. From the bottom of my heart, thank you as well. So while sasquatch and rhino own the current display picture on my mobile, the skepchicks own a permanent piece of my heart.

  12. Watching the chicks bounce off stage to help you get ready was so fun to watch- gave me a little hiccup of excitement! Thank you for inviting us to your wedding. The happiness in the atmosphere easily traveled across the interwebs.

    Btw, I absolutely LOVE your ability to eviscerate idiocy in one post just to get sentimental in another. I see it as a sign of a well-rounded person ;-)

  13. Hi Rebecca – sooooo gutted I couldn’t attend you wouldn’t believe. But I did capture it all on the net and with the stream and the Tweets and everything else, so it was kinda like being there anyway, except a thousand times less awesome. I will see you at TAM London during which shenanigans will undoubtedly occur! Oh yes, there WILL be shenanigans. Love and hugs, always…

  14. I’m SO happy that I got to watch it! The streaming TAM rocked so hard it takes 2 hands! \m/\m/

    Well do I remember meeting Sid at TAM4, and to know that the two of you are together now warms my heart. The wedding was an absolute delight.

    As a former Skepdude calendar model, I can also attest to the sheer awesomeness of the Skepchicks in general, but to arrange all of this for you and Sid shows a love and respect – a depth of friendship – that is truly the stuff that dreams are made of.

    My very best wishes to you. If you do end up in the UK, Well, I’ll be in London for 3 days next month. I’ll look you up!

  15. Hey! I’m so happy for you and Sid, and glad that you made this post. Very very well done, and it seems it would have only been better to be there in person! I almost bounced out of my chair when you said your whole family made it out there. :D

    Anyway, congratulations to you both!!


  16. You can force me against my will to attend anything. The wedding was lovely (but the dust clearly had my allergies acting up or something), and your husband is just the smartest, kindest, warmest new friend I made at TAM this year.

  17. Congratulations, Rebecca … Reading the posts describing last weekend and having gone through long-distance things, I can’t help but think about how much it must suck to have to go back home after all that … Seriously, I feel for you … I hope you two are able to get together into the same hemisphere soon … Is there a just-the-two-of-us honeymoon in the works? Because I have to say that’s one of the best parts of getting married.

  18. Damnit! I’m crying again. The video got me all teared up, and some of the pictures I’ve seen where your joy is so evident, and now sharing these thoughts with us. The thanks to your husband at the end were what threw me over the edge…

    I just barely got to know you at Skepchickcon (oh hai, it’s me Kammy), but even if we’d never ever met, I’d wish you and Sid the best of everything and a long and wonderful life together. People loving each other the way you two do, and sharing it with everyone else makes the world a more beautiful place. Thanks for being you and letting us all share your wedding. *mwah*

  19. When I watched the wedding on ustream, I wondered if Rebecca was “in on it”. At first, it looked like Sid and A had conspired against her but, as events progressed, it seemed less and less likely that all of this could have been arranged without her knowledge.

    It was loads of fun just watching it from afar. I can only imagine what it was like to be there in person.

    One of my favorite bits was the coordinated red shoes. I particularly liked the fact that they were all different styles. There was even a pair of red high-tops in there, I think.

  20. @Sam Ogden: Man, I so wish you had been there, if only to have had you at the bachelorette party. You owe me one night with a stripper.

    @jdhorner: Josh! So sorry I couldn’t return the favor and have you perform the ceremony. :) Sid and I will need to take a trip to Canada one of these days to say howdy…

    @Elyse: I think a lot of people just assume that there’s no way anyone could be THAT spot-on as an artist, failing to realize that Jill is superhuman.

  21. As I’ve already said my congratulations, I’ll now wish Rebecca and Sid smooth and uneventful sailing through the immigration waters. My wife and I had a very easy time of it but remember to pack your patience, especially for the interviews and waiting!

  22. I am so psychic. Not only did I get you a gift…

    but…a few years ago….
    I was at a pub with you, and I said to Evelyn, “ever notice how Rebecca’s face just lights up whenever she mentions Sid?” I’d simply asked how he was doing, and your face did this whole happy thing.

    That’s how I knew Jackie was the one for Evelyn, her face does the “Rebecca thing” when she talks about him.

  23. Rebecca – It was so wonderful to meet and hang out with you, Sid, and the Skepchick crew. We had a great time at the party, and were glad to be able to contribute a bottle of wine to the last drinking bash in the Del Mar Skeptical Bar.

    Did that bartender give you the evil eye when you all just kept asking for more wine glasses, without contents? What a great idea, I have never though to bring that much booze to a bar.

    Congratulations again, and I look forward to seeing all of you again at TAM8, or hopefully sooner.

  24. ‘Twas a wonderfully fun and surreal thing to be at.
    I was kind of disappointed that it wasn’t the ‘ambush’ that it was made out to appear to be – but knowing that it wasn’t makes the fantastic prestidigitation of Rebecca’s preconditions make a bit more sense.

    And when a wedding can also be an in-joke with practically everyone in attendance on the ‘in’… WIN!

  25. D’awwwww. I love you guys. I hope I get to see something this beautiful at whichever TAM I finally make it to.

    (P.S. If you choose the continent with London in it, you’re both totally invited to dinner. My flatmate cooks a great roast. And I brew a damn fine dried-leaves-in-boiling-water. It’s kind of a local tradition round here.)

  26. Thanks for the recap Rebecca. Thanks to your recap and the internet it was just like being there. I wish I could have gone and seen this most excellent wedding in person. I have never met you or Sid but I just know you are going to have an awesome life together. Best wishes.

  27. @exarch: You obviously missed out.

    Needless to say, I love all of you. Sid’s comment at the party about us being a family seriously made me tear up, and then when I told him that later, we both started to tear up again. Rebecca, I’ve told you this over and over but I’m so happy for you and I’m so glad I could be there. Not sleeping for three days was totally worth it.

  28. Shouted in the little kid voice from the Incredibles “THAT WAS AWESOME!”

    Now excuse me, something wrong has occurred to my eyes and my vision is suddenly blurred by some sort of liquid.

  29. It was an absolute honor and pleasure to be at your wedding and then your Skepchick/wedding party. This was my first TAM and because of your event it will be very difficult to surpass. But popping a kid out next TAM would top it. That’s for sure! :)

    Seriously, may you always happily surprise each other.

  30. @Jen: “You obviously missed out.

    Ugh, don’t remind me :(
    I missed out on more than just that.

    But hey, happy thoughts for rebecca and Sid.
    And at least now I know what the big unmentioned thing was during CONvergence.

  31. Congrats Rebecca!

    I was so happy to be there to be there to see your wedding. It was an example of how much love there is in the skeptical community. We aren’t a bunch of cynics!

    I’m very new to skepticism. It’s been less than a year since I started questioning my religious beliefs, and maybe only 6 months since I started listening to the SGU and learning that there was this whole world of rational people. My life has completely changed and I’m so happy to be a part of this world.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading the blogs and the forums and listening to the podcast, I even have my own modest blog just as a way to get my thoughts out. I feel like I’ve gotten to know you and other people who are visible in the skeptical community. You and the rest of the SGU feel like friends to me, even though I’m so debilitatingly shy that I couldn’t even say hi to you at TAM, despite the many chances I had.

    I guess all I’m trying to say is that I’m so happy for you and your new husband, and thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to share that moment with you. Best wishes for a long and happy marriage!

  32. I ran into a very charming and delightful couple at the airport on Thursday while waiting for a shuttle, who turned out to be Rebecca’s cousins. When I said, “Yes, of course I know Rebecca Watson.” They replied that they were here for your wedding on Saturday. When I expressed surprise, they swore me to secrecy. Oh no. I somehow managed not to inform any *new* people I met, but my four trustworthy Iowan friends from the Corridor A-Team pried it out of me.

    Your wedding was so beautiful and sweet, Rebecca. Best wishes to you and Sid.

  33. Oh, my.

    I was out celebrating my 5th wedding anniversary with my mister this week, so am only now home and catching up on the news.

    I’ll keep the advice to a minimum, but I will give advice. Marriage is one of the hardest but most rewarding things you’ll ever do. There will be a lot of things for you to work out over the first few years. So long as you work things from a place of trust, intimacy, love, and communication, it’s hard to go wrong.

    And the fact that Sid cooks you lasagna? Makes my inner Italian grandma weep with joy. He’s definitely a keeper.

    Best wishes.

  34. We have been wonder woven
    From the subatomic particles
    That once were but a chaotic mixture
    of tumbling forms. 

    From this chaos have been chose
    The Individual particles
    That now are a part of you 
    Or a part of me. 

    Those subatomic particles
    Have been so arrainged
    To make the mind and body
    Of a human being.

    A unique mixture we are
    Of these subatomic particles-
    Made into the minds and bodies
    Of man and of woman.

    Wonder woven are we.

    – a variation on “Wonder Woven 2”
    by Jerry Arbus

    Dedicated to Rebecca and Sid
    Wonder Woven Are They!!
    July 11, 2009 

  35. @Kelly McMahon: It seems that the plan to secrecy could have failed on so many occasions, and almost did in the most unexpected places.

    If Sid had really intended to ask rebecca out of the blue, he’d have told someone about it, and half of TAM would have known about it before the question was even asked …

    The fact it wasn’t meant people were willing to keep it to themselves, or get people to keep it secret too if they’d slipped up.

    Going off topic a little here, but perhaps we should ask conspiracy theorists to just try keeping a little secret, like somebody’s suprise wedding, only to see how many people actually know about it after only a few weeks. Now multiply that by a million and you have the 9/11 inside job.

    It’s impossible.

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