TAM 6. Best. Ever.

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Jun 23, 2008
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I'm back from The Amaz!ng Meeting 6. After 9+ hours of sleep last night (and still in the red by about 7 hours), I'm slowly restarting myself back into the real world.

It'll be impossible to describe all that happened in Vegas. It would be like... like... like coming home from TAM and trying to describe it. No other analogy works.

But here are some highlights and quick thoughts:

  • We had over 900 people attending. TAM 1 had fewer than 200. Hold tight. We'll be growing more in coming years too.
  • Mrs. BA's first TAM. That was cool. She loved it. Not having an empty hotel room to come back to at night is very, very nice. That's the hardest part about traveling, I think.
  • Neil Tyson's keynote speech was great. Funny, informative, uplifting... he ran over time, but the audience (including moi) cheered him on to continue. That's the soonest we've ever thrown the schedule out the window; usually it's not until the first afternoon session. I'm not sure why anyone bothers to put times on the schedule. It might make sense to extend the meetings a day longer.
  • I hung out with Adam Savage, who rocks rocks rocks.
  • We broke the world record for most spoons simultaneously bent and broken: 800+
  • My talk was shorter than usual to make room for other, new guests, but I think it went pretty well. Lots of laughs, lots of amazement (it was about weird things in the solar system that are so freaking odd that there's no need to make up dumb stuff like a face on Mars or Planet X). Highlight for me: I was talking about high winds on Neptune, clocked at 2200 kph. I look around the room, and see Adam Savage laughing at this like it was the coolest thing he had ever heard. I love that guy.
  • What is it with red-headed Skepchicks? Way over-represented statistically. Of course, I love this.
  • Speaking of which, there were lots of young women attending, which was fantastic. It's good to see more women getting into skepticism. Not enough minorities, though, but still, it increases every year. That's very heartening.
  • Got my Quirkology book signed by Richard Wiseman.
  • Watched a clip from The Skeptologists. Wow, it looks fantastic. The audience loved it, and I got lots of people coming up and congratulating me. Stay tuned for more info as it comes in.
  • Did two audio and one video interview. Coolness. Adam Savage (left, from Rebecca's Flickr page) did a walk-on in my Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast interview. We talked Mythbusters, Moon Hoax, and such. How hawsome is that?

  • Realized this is my sixth trip to Vegas, and have never bet a dime while there (except the JREF poker tourney).
  • Aussies brought me Minties! Man, I love those guys. Also, other people gave me various and sundry knick-knacks. To all: thanks.
  • Got flamed by Hal, PZ, Michael Shermer, and even Richard Saunders. But that's OK, I'm used to dealing with abject jealousy.
  • Speaking of which, I hung out with Richard quite a bit, but it's never enough. What a good friend and wonderful man. I'll see him again at Dragon*Con.
  • I didn't get much of a chance to hang out with PZ, who had to leave early to go to another conference. That's too bad; I was hoping to go out for seafood with him! But he gave me a very nice, if deservedly snarky intro to my talk.
  • Derek and Swoopy were there! W00t!
  • Got my Skepchick calendar signed by a few of the 'chicks. Incidentally, ARealGirl is at the apex of human beingness. She rawks.
  • Saw Penn & Teller's show with Mrs. BA, who spent most of it LOLing. Penn gave a shout-out to Randi, who was in the audience.
  • Had no time at all to do any short on-camera interviews with other speakers. I suck.
  • Learned that I need better tech. Like, a net-accessible phone or something. Not being able to Twitter or blog except from the hotel room was sucky.
  • Coming home to over 400 Facebook friend requests. That'll learn me to blog about FB and ask for people to add me. :-)
  • Banachek. Man, is he the best mentalist in the Universe. Wow. Also a super nice guy. His wife is teh awesome too.
  • Had the incredible honor of presenting Randi with an award from all of us at TAM; a trophy cup filled with notes from attendees on how he has changed our lives. That was just overwhelming. I choked up a little on stage. What Randi has done is very important to me, and to all of us. That will always be my favorite memory of the meeting. (Photo courtesy my good friend Paul Harris.)

  • JREF sold out of my books, 60 or more. Cool. I signed a lot of them.
  • Speaking of which, I was asked over and again when the next book comes out, so I added a slide to my talk at the last minute to talk about it. October 20, for those scoring at home.
  • Coffee at the Flamingo is not too bad. Nice to be home to my own machine, though.
  • ... and of course, met a bazillion cool, skeptical, intelligent people.

And let me say this. I sit in my house, blogging away, reading the web, sometimes doing laundry, scooping the cat litter, playing with the dog, and occasionally remembering to put pants on. So it's a funny, semi-secluded lifestyle. But at TAM, I was surrounded by hundreds of people, all wanting to learn more about the real Universe. That is so refreshing we don't have an adequate word in English for it.

But it got better. I met a whole pile of people who said they got into skepticism because they read my blog. Some came to TAM to see me. Me! That was, well, amazing. Another thing: a while back I told a young woman named Elizabeth to go to a TAM. She did, and met Michael. Now they're married. How about that?

To everyone who reads this blog and attended TAM: thank you so much. Thank you for your support, thank you for coming, thank you for just being curious about life. To those I met and talked to, hi again! To those I didn't, next time be pushier!

And to those who didn't come to TAM 6, well, you need to come to the next one. They just keep getting better.

Finally, to Randi, who I know reads this blog: thanks. There is a reason we all call you Amazing. You are. We all came to TAM to honor you and your works. Maybe it's a bit selfish: I consider all of us in the skeptical movement to be part of your works, so in a way we came to celebrate ourselves. But the love for you there was palpable. Thanks for everything you've done.