• DragonCon – The Paper Blog part 1

    by  • 9/6/2008 • life, skeptic, travel • 4 Comments

    This is just the first bit of my notes transcribed from my little notebook. I had no computer all weekend,
    so I had to WRITE things… no undo function, no copy and paste…

    Dragoncon 2008 – Thurs Aug 28

    Wandering around a mostly empty set of hotel rooms and I decided to see how Skepticality’s Derek and Robynn (Swoopy) were doing on setup. Introduced myself and offered assistance, though they didn’t seem to be sure what was up, either. I think that they might have been at that point in the setup process where you just aren’t sure what else you can do, but you want to do more…

    Met Kylie Sturgess (Tank, Podblack) while I was there, whose name sounds familiar. She attracted another Australian who I did a double take with. “Excuse me… Karen (Stollznow – aka skepbitch)?” I introduced myself as her Facebook friend. She kindly lied, saying that my name sounded familiar. Actually, now that I think about it, I did send her a couple emails about a Skeptical Blog Carnival at one point a couple months back.

    How is it that we traveled to Atlanta with no delays, no lost luggage, no breakages, no hassles at security checkpoints, or customs? There was one point when a screener leaned over and asked me a question. “Excuse me, is this your bag? Do you have a bunch of double-A batteries in your carry-on?” Oddly, he was just curious, and nodded when I said “yes”; I had about 40 batteries in bricks in order to avoid trying to find batteries for the camera in a city I’m not familiar with.

    Apparently the key to selling jewelry in the US is don’t ask, don’t tell. Admit to a small sin , and the bigger sin might be ignored. We openly admitted that $200 in gifts would be left in the US, and nobody asked about the production silver work. Next time, avoid the hassle and ship directly. According to NAFTA, we shouldn’t have to pay duty on anything over about $2000 value so long as the goods were manufactured in North America. Of course, DHS and TSA staff might not exactly be up on what is and is not allowed by law; all you need is one bitchy DHS person and no matter how much you are in the write, you could still be bent over in the back room.

    Initial planned panels that I thought of attending…

    1300 – Skeptics 101 – Plait, Randi, Saunders, Grothe, Wagg
    1430 – Why Magic is important – Randi, Wagg
    1730 – Science Based Medicine – Ginger
    2030 – SAPS Investigates – Smith (was replaced with a Q&A by Ben Radford due to missing luggage…)
    2330 – Cult of UHF (podcasting) -OR- Beamed Aboard a UFO by a Psychic Sasquatch

    1130 – Podsci Panel – Saunders, Grothe, Wagg, Novella -OR- Point of Inquiry

    1600 – AstronomyCast Live / Skeptics vs. Believers (Sheraton)
    2200 – George Hrab / Geologic Podcast recording
    2330 – Soccergirl Live

    1000 – Supernatural Howto – Saunders
    1130 – Skeptics Guide Live
    1730 – JREF Million Dollar demo

    1000 – Practical Techniques in public skepticism – Michael Stackpole
    1130 – Global Skepticism – Stollznow, Saunders, Sturgess

    Fri Aug 29

    Overheard while walking from the back of the Marriott to the Hilton, surrounded by people in costumes; “There are so many empty basements in the country today.”

    James Randi disappointed the audience of the Skeptics 101 panel by announcing right off the top that he would not be performing his famous naked dance on fire.

    Book referenced: Lynn Kelly’s “Skeptic’s Guide To The Paranormal”

    Met Tim from What’s The Harm? and Reed Esau who’s been working with the barcamp idea to adapt it to skeptics. Snagged a draft copy of his “Raising Our Game” which presents some good ideas on the informal approach to skeptical get togethers.

    On Friday, I sat in on a video podcasting panel instead of the full-to-capacity Magic panel with James Randi. The podcasting panel had Richard Saunders (TANK), Rhett Aultman, and the Right Rev. Chumley (Cult of UHF). I had to go up to speak to Rhett, as I was certain he was someone I met in San Jose at Linux World. He wasn’t, but I’d still have placed money on it; they both worked at Motorola, both have girlfriends named Amy, and other similarities. Crazy.

    The video podcasting guys swore by this one guy’s hand-made microphones. I really only noted it down because it had the oddest URL – http://giant-squid-audio-lab.com/

    They also mentioned Stranger Things video podcast as having stellar production values (It won the 2008 Parsec Award for Best Sci-fi Video Podcast)

    There’s been some talk of a chainmail competition saturday morning at ten. A couple people have mentioned it before they really thought about it, seeming a bit concerned after the fact that they might have invited competition. The ‘bald bikini making guy’ might have some competition…

    People will buy all sorts of crap, it seems, as the tiara / circlet vendor next to us is turning out $100 bits of painted wire with ‘gemstones.’ There are wire masks and dragons you can hang in the room where you cast your spells to empower yourselves.


    • Karen Stollznow wrote about sex with George Hrab, borrowing one of my images of the maestro’s briefs.

    • Live Astronomy Castfrom DragonCon 2008 with guests Kevin Grazier and Phil Plait talking about how they love Doctor Who and what they love and loathe in sci-fi (Episode 104)
    • Live Skeptics Guide To the Universe from DragonCon 2008 with special guests James Randi, Pamela Gay, and Derek Colanduno (Episode #163)

    • Skepticality podcast – the official podcast of Skeptic Magazine, had an interview with What’s The Harm founder Tim Farley prior to DragonCon – they haven’t posted anything since the big event, as I’m sure both Derek and Swoopy are still recovering

    • Cult of UHF Free B-Movies

    • Geologic Podcast with George Hrab

    • TANK Vodcast
    • PodBlack Cat

    I have been putting photos up on Facebook. Check out the Skeptics Photos, and Costume and venue Photos.


    4 Responses to DragonCon – The Paper Blog part 1

    1. 9/6/2008 at 10:10 pm

      Good memories! I’ll be putting up vid of one of our sessions you missed – the Global Skepticism one featured James Randi as a special guest.

    2. xinit
      9/6/2008 at 10:29 pm

      Thanks, Kylie. Wish I had your input to George Hrab’s show on video…

    3. 9/7/2008 at 9:08 am


      And as soon as my life gets back to ‘normal’ I’ll be editing down all the video and scrubbing through all the video to come out with some cool little things for people to download and have fun with! :)

    4. 9/8/2008 at 1:48 am

      I only wish that Dr Karen Stollznow and I were sitting together at the time – we both yelled the same thing when he asked the definition of ‘root’ but she was at the other side of the room!

      You can see her views on the matter (since her PhD actually is on ‘bad language’) here!

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