The science is interesting, the schmoozing is essential, the students are promising, but, at the end of the day, it is The Swag that is cool.
Last year's winner, the LSST little blue pedometer is back, with the promise of another piece of etched optical glass to the winner of the drawing from the ten-mile hikers.
But, as the arbitrary arbitrator of the contest, there can not be a repeat winner...
so, what have we got?
There's the usual calendars and poster, postcards and bookmarks, not to mention the luggage tags and key chains. Good basic swag, handy for handing to kids, marking books and, surprisingly, making goody baskets for charity auctions - you have no idea what the parents of an astronomy mad pre-teen will bid on a basket of NASA pins, Hubble calendar, stereogram Soho bookmarks and a set of Chandra postcards...
And then there is the original funky swag, the rare originals:
the Swift stress ball will come in handy, but bit basic, not up there with the old Lunar stress ball of meetings past;
Lockmart's Saturn Clock is cool, I'll treasure mine, but limited applicability;
Eureka's spinning thingy was cool, and promises hours of entertainment for the cat and kids, a close contender;
but, the unanimous winner, as voted by Steve Osterman, is clearly
it does edge detection, it can keep a dozen phd's amused for hours, it is very cute
Honorable mention should go to the NOAO - with their townhall put heads-up against NASA (say what?) they promptly offered entry in a drawing for an iPod Touch, iff you actually show for their townhall.
Hah, take that NASA!
Ball had a very nice glittery glowing lamp in the shape of a rocket last year--my girl still loves that thing. Also good for infants ;)