• Having My Doubts: A TAM 2014 Diary (Thursday)


    I woke up really early (for me) at 7 a.m. (although my body was still on Eastern time, so in a sense I slept in until 10). TAM hadn’t officially begun; Thursday’s schedule was filled with workshops, each of which could be purchased separately from regular TAM membership. As a presenter myself, I could have attended them without purchase, but I had a blog post to write and my own workshop presentation to prepare, so I holed up in my room doing that all morning.

    The workshop, from 2 to 3:30, was “Blogging Skepticism: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” It was panel format, but I and my fellow SINners Jacques Rousseau, Wendy Hughes, Rebecca Bradley, and Beth Ann Erickson took turns and spoke individually. I got down to the room a few minutes late, but zipped down the left side of the rows of seats and took my place on the stage as unobtrusively as I could. Jacques was already speaking, serving as emcee in Ed Clint’s unavoidable absence. Jacques, incidentally, is South African (despite his name), and took a 27 hour flight to get here. Hats off to him; that must have been grueling.

    Each of us could run with the title in whatever way we wanted. I decided to focus on the “good” and talk about how it’s easy to come up with skeptical topics to write about, if we pay attention and consume a lot of media. I illustrated my point by relating the “murder room” anecdote I mentioned in yesterday’s post, and explaining how I came to write this post and this one.

    The audience of about fifty seemed to enjoy me. I’m glad, since I know they paid to come hear us. I won’t summarize the others’ talks, except to say they were all better than mine; they produced Powerpoint presentations. And were on time. In the world of skepticism, I am Peter Dinklage surrounded by giants.

    Still, through the rest of the day many people stopped me in the halls and said they enjoyed my presentation. So that made me happy.

    After our workshop I went to visit the Presenters Lounge and found it full of children. A table was piled with toys. On the floor in the center of the room was some butcher paper and boxes of crayons.

    “What are they trying to say about presenters and celebrity guests?” I thought, and remained confused until I realized I was in the child care room; the presenters lounge was the next room over. Oh. The lounge was nicely appointed with snacks and couches.

    I spent the rest of the day with my fellow SINners, especially Beth, who is Minnesotan, therefore cool, and shares my sense of humor. It was very pleasant. At my first three TAMs I spent most of my time with my friend Robert Marshall, who comes from Atlanta with me each year. That’s great, of course, but I can see Robert any the time (although does he call? does he write?). This year, more than ever before, I’ve felt more like I’m a part of the larger skeptical community. It’s been great. This is already my favorite TAM.

    During the kickoff reception in the evening, Robert finally arrived, as did SIN big boss man Ed Clint. I also met Jessica Bluemke of the Friendly Atheist blog. She lived up to her blog’s name! She was funny and fun to be around. She also had attended our workshop, and had some very complimentary things to say about my talk. Thanks, Jessica!

    Finally, I was exhausted. I had wanted to attend a screening of the James Randi documentary An Honest Liar, and someone even offered me a ticket. But I hadn’t run yet, and I know I’ll have other opportunities to see it. I took my leave of the reception.

    I went back to my room, put on my running clothes, and returned to the fitness center with my iPad. I watched the Star Trek episode “The Doomsday Machine” while I ran. Then I showered and went to bed.

    Today is Friday, and TAM 2014 officially kicks off this morning. Follow my tweets through the day @RedVelvetCakes!

    Category: TAM 2014

    Article by: Vandy Beth Glenn

    I'm a writer, editor, runner, and bon vivant in the Atlanta, Georgia, area.