Based on my BlogNotes for Wednesday, June 11, 2012:
Got up at 6:30 in the morning, packed up all the stuff I had sitting by my bags while the kitten climbed all over my backpack. Also got a video of her being a moron, playing with my hand from inside a toilet paper package, among a few other things to show folks that I meet while abroad, such as the view of Puget Sound from my house, and our three setting suns. (They're in my TAM photo set, along with the rest of the photos you see here.)
` Lucas drove me to the airport, all the while condemning my protein drink for smelling like low tide. (When I opened it the first time he asked, "Did you fart?" just as he asks every time we drive by a paper mill....) Thanks to his help, I was so ready for TAM that I believed that nothing horrible would go wrong (and it didn't).
` Got my boarding passes at the kiosk (didn't even need to use the bar code I had spent so much time trying to correctly print out days before), had a veggie burrito at Q-Doba, listened to some podcasting goodness, and finally made it into the plane, where I had a nice view of Mount Rainier:
And we weren't even in the air, yet!
I'm currently sitting on the plane between two people who are passed out, and am taking pictures out the window across the one guy who is apparently "chasing rabbits". Am continuing to listen to episode 54 of Cognitive Dissonance. Apparently, Iran is killing people for drinking alcohol because they've killed all the homosexuals! That crazy Iran!
` The napkins on the tray tables, which have Life's Ultimate To-Do List include 'Find the Loch Ness Monster'. Somehow, I don't think that one will be checked off by too many people.
Flying over Seattle.
Had a bite to eat in Phoenix, and after accidentally sitting in the wrong row, discovered that my seat had not one, but two windows through which to take video of such spectacular sights as near-collisions with clouds! Even taking off was exciting:
I spent much of the next plane trip talking to this cool couple on their honeymoon (who brought powerful garlic fries), and figured that if I've never used this camera to take photos or videos from a plane before, I ought to get a few!
This lake was cool, too.
The scenery over the desert was not really as spectacular as the Washingtonian mountains and whatnot, but it had its fair share of colorful geologic formations.
I immediately got into a cab -- here me and the driver are passing the MGM and New York, New York -- I've been on that roller coaster about 13 years ago!
According to the driver, the South Point hotel is close to Henderson, which is where my scary, psychotic dad probably still lives. It's funny how these things come full circle. First, we stopped by Walgreens for nasal rinse packets (which was the only thing I forgot to take with me) and distilled water -- darned deviated septum!
` Unfortunately, they were out of distilled water so I had to find some AQAP across the street at this strangely small Wal*Mart. Let's just say, the cab driver was so cool that I still feel horrible for not tipping him more, even though I realize now that I could have.
After checking in, dumping my things into the corner of the hotel room, leaving a note for my roommate that told him to observe my mess in awe, and loading up my mini-backpack with my Essential TAM Tools (Blogging Notebook, Camera, Wallet, etc.), I ran around and around the hotel looking for the right set of stairs that goes up to the corridor where TAM is held.
` Finally, I found that it was the staircase next to The Big Guy On A Horse Statue, and look what I found at the top! It's DJ Grothe, The Amazing Randi, and some third guy, by the registration desk, where I collected my badge and T-shirt.
Also the skeptical manga artist Sarah Mayhew was there -- here's a random snatch of conversation:
` Banachek, who has been famous since his teenage (and Randi-approved) stunt of making the Alpha Project researchers believe he had real magic powers, talking with Randi about something or other, although since I was so excited just to see people like them everywhere, and didn't really have much to say to them, I shied away from figuring out what they were talking about.
` For example, I ran into Barbara Drescher, who brought red velvet cookies and was a little distracted because she could not bring her son (Cody, or whatever his name was) up into the bar with the rest of us.
` I asked them where another co-host and my buddy Evan Bernstein was, and they said he was around somewhere, and then got a little video of them as I was backing off and moving onto the next person:
Here's Dave with Greg Dorais and Fred Bremmer, who is known for this poem, among other things:
` I rambled on about my trajectory in life, how eager I am to show my stuff in the skeptical community, and various other things, for about half an hour. After that, he bought me a vodka cranberry, and I made even more of an ass out of myself! Awesome!
[Edit: A small bit of this interview can be heard starting at 9:15 of this episode of Maynard's Malaise.]
I also ran into Brian Gregory, host of Virtual Drinking Skeptically, and JC, from my own Skeptic's group here in Seattle.
I squealed with delight when my Facebook Friend and one of the very Worst Cooks in America, ex-Hasid Joshie Berger entered the scene and began stirring up the crowd (and teasing me, of course!).
` Joshie also had this friend whose name I forget, but I cannot forget her sciencey tattoos -- and to top it off, Russell's Teapot!
Here's the other side of her arm -- pleasantly geeky, no?
Upon trying to sit myself down in a crowd, I wound up getting snagged by former president of the (somewhat kooky) Singularity Institute, Michael Vassar, when my very stoic and well-dressed Swedish roommate, Leonard, came by, and we pointed at each other in recognition.
` I was astonished with his having considerably less fat than his JREF forum name TubbaBlubba would suggest, and was even more amazed when he told me he didn't notice my mess in the hotel room, nor my note, to the point where I thought for a minute that we might not have gone into the same room -- although it turns out he just didn't turn the light on. Well, of course! He didn't want to miss any more of the party after his long flight!
` I was also struck by the fact that his accent is so adorable that I regret not getting more video of it. Gah!
Then, I talked a bunch with this guy about psychology and how to make even my worst crazy roommates get along with me. Maybe his name was Mark MacLean, although that might have been someone else's, considering all the names I have written down.
` I went away with my brain churning from some re-framing that I was experiencing and at some point later, stood up on a bench in the hope of seeing Evan Bernstein somewhere in the pub. I got some video of Brian Dunning of Skeptoid, some of the others I'd previously mentioned, as well as the third Novella brother, Bob, but Evan was nowhere to be seen.
Here's a photo I got of Sarah Mayhew behind magician and honest liar Jamy Ian Swiss -- at least check out his appearance on the Late Late Show! I told him that I figured out the password of his website years ago, and he told me that nowadays there's a user name as well as a password that are still pretty easy to figure out. He even told me what they are, but I don't quite remember!
` I didn't get a photo of this guy, but did get a one-minute sketch of him in order to show him how well I could draw, since he had an art project of sorts going. I told him how strange it was that he was the first person I remember who just knew to keep his head still when drawing him.
` He thought that was odd, since it's common sense -- but some people have actually insisted that I be able to draw them for the first time perfectly without having to hold still. Weird, huh? This guy himself was actually kinda weird, and so smart that I couldn't pull myself away from him, yanno what I mean?
Want to know what happens next? On to Day 2!