Skepticon 3 – Day 1

Due to issues with child care, I wasn’t able to get to the first day of the conference until the lunch break. Upon arriving I met up with my friend Maria Myrback and her husband Ken. She introduced me to Joe Nickel who did an awesome magic trick for me and told me that he would be happy to be interviewed for my book.

After the lunch break the next speaker was Debbie Goddard. Her talk was about diversity in skepticism. It was an excellent speech. She has a wonderful attitude that is funny, intelligent and poignant.

The next speaker was John Corvino who’s speech was entitled Coming Out Skeptical. He was a very engaging and very funny speaker. He compared coming out skeptically to his coming out gay earlier in life.

After this we broke for dinner and I sat with Maria, Ken, Randi, Mike Blanford and a great group of people from the St. Louis Skeptics group. One of the woman from this group had a 1920’s machine that runs an electrical charge through glass tubes that you can put on your skin and get a tingling sensation. They used to be promoted as cure-alls. Maria asked me to write an article for Swift about this.

After returning to the convention center, I bought Darwin tree earrings from Surly Amy. I told her how it was from her Flikr page that I found Skepchicks and from there got into skepticism. I got a nice hug for this.

The evening portion of the conference consisted of two panels: Confrontation vs. Accommodation and Does skepticism lead to atheism?. I enjoyed the first panel a lot, but in the second one everyone ended up pretty much in agreement so there wasn’t really any debate.

After the conference ended for the day, Maria, Ken and I went to Skeptics in the Pub. Maria and I had a wonderful conversation about all sorts of topics. When it was time to leave, Ken decided to go with a friend so Maria and I waited outside for a cab that Ken had order for us. I’d left my coat back at the hotel figuring I’d be going from shuttle to pub to cab to hotel. It was pretty fricking cold outside and while we were waiting, a college student rode up on a bicycle attached to a rickshaw like cab. He works for tips so Maria and I decided to have him take up back to the hotel. He had a blanket so we huddled under that. I froze my fricking butt off, but it was a really fun experience.

Next I introduced myself to Rebecca Watson, founder of Skepchicks. She saw my Surly Amy earring and I told her the same story I told Amy. She was really touched to hear that. I told her about the book I’m writing and she said to corner her after her talk Saturday night and that she’d give me an interview. I then got to listen to Rebecca talk about her Alaska cruise with the JREF where she met Richard Saunders, about how Richard always wears rainbow suspenders. She then told the story about how she did a workshop at TAM 8 that she turned into something she didn’t really want to do so she came up with the idea of discussing feminism by breaking people into groups and having them do a craft project. This became the famous Angry Vagina project.

Next it was onto the room party in the room of a wonderfully sweet, intensely cute woman from Minnesota named Briann (please forgive me if I misspelled your name!). There I had an amazing conversation with Amanda Marcotte, who’s speech I missed that morning. She is a professional writer and gave me some great tips on making a career as a writer. I also told her that I want to get a Darwin Fish tattoo (she has a beautiful double helix one on her left arm) and I asked her about the ins and outs of getting a tattoo. She told me that my lower arm near the wrist would probably be best because you want to put it somewhere were it won’t sag much as you get older and to make sure the tattoo artist is really good and experienced. She promised to talk to me again when we were more sober.

Speaking of which, I got completely hammered! I haven’t been that drunk in about 20 years!
I also talked with Sam Ogden of Skepchicks and got some good tips on writing, the main one being to find your voice in a way that makes you unique so that people will want to keep reading your work. In the same conversation with Sam was Cammie who is I absolutely adore! She is just such an open, engaging and fun person to talk to.

It was a fantastic first day! I’ll be reporting on today’s events hopefully tomorrow.

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