Skeptics of Oz was great--
Sean Gillespie asked me if I had any requirements/requests to speak, I gave him my usual rider:
Sean didnt just fill a brandy glass with brown M&Ms... He filled huge Richard Dawkins Foundation coffee mug with brown M&Ms!
Sean was just a fantastic organizer, overall. On several occasions things were not going *exactly* according to plan, and without missing a beat, Sean smoothly resolved the situation. Hes obviously a doer, not a talker, and I was impressed.
The speaker line-up obviously reflected his personality, as each and every speaker was educational, and/or provided the audience practical information. These were doers, not talkers. Time flew by watching everyone.
My speech went pretty well-- I was going to speak about viruses, but I pushed that topic off until FreeOK2, because Sean really wanted me to speak about vaccines. I knew there was going to be some overlap in the crowd from FreeOK1 last year, so this time, I did a quick summary of vaccines, why we use them, and addressed a few of the common vaccine 'concerns' I have heard (Why do you care if my kid is vaccinated? Too many too soon! TOXINS!!!). I really wanted to answer audience questions-- the real concerns normal people have about vaccines, the real comments they have heard their anti-vax friends/family say and they dont know how to respond to, the real questions they have about the weird world of viruses. I *hope* that everyone learned something:)
The only draw-back to the conference was that April 21 is my birthday. This was bad, in that I got to Wichita late/left early so I could spend time with my family, so I missed some speakers. Considering the quality of the speakers (see above) this was bad. But it was good because the organizers made sure I had a fun time:
**everyone seated at super busy restaurant with super flustered but adorable waitress, all pretty sure that we are never going to order much less get dinner**
Me: There are cupcakes over there.
Organizers: *keep talking, trying to ignore me*
Me: WHAT HAS BEEN SEEN CANNOT BE UNSEEN! THERE ARE CUPCAKES OVER THERE!!!!! *evil monkey point towards cupcakes*
Me: OMFG THESE CUPCAKES ARE SO GOOD!!!
One of the Wichita members, her father is a baker, and she made us some awesome cupcakes for my birthday!
The group was concerned about being sued for singing 'Happy Birthday', so I had everyone demonstrate the Doppler effect by imitating a motorcycle (something Phil Plait did in his speech) for cupcakes.
And speaking of Phil, thanks to the photos Blair Scott of American Atheists took (and the banana liquor he provided), and apparently something I think is incredulous that Phil said, I now have my high-resolution head-shot for the 'new' SciBlogs layout:
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Excellent post, all great to hear!
Nice pic. The similarity is uncanny.
Aww! I love that picture of you and Sean :)
And I'm really glad that the conference went well.
And CUPCAKES!!! Fuck yeah.
Check out the hover-fist on Sean!
Miranda-- I wish we had it on camera. They need to base missile guidance systems on my cupcake seek-->destroy program.
EvilYeti-- Its not a hover-fist! Hes leaning against the edge of the wall behind us :P
1-- The building where the conference was? It had (what I thought was) the creepiest elevator ever (it was behind us in that pic). Like, "I would not get on that thing for $1,000,000" creepy. Thank gawd it was 'under renovation'.
2-- The *actual* 'creepiest elevator ever' was at the hotel. It was glass. Facing the lobby. I felt like I was in a fucking fish bowl every time I went to my room. So I 'swam' around in it a few times, for the amusement of the attendees.
It's new legislation that all elevators are to be transparent. Then everyone can see the evil way people invite others to coffee and sexualize them 'in that way'.
Yet again I get that creeping sensation that I was on the wrong continent that day (curse you, continental drift!). Sounds like an amazing conference.
I'm going to have to bake cupcakes this weekendâ¦
I'm glad you had a good time and thanks for the great talk and all the kind words! :)
"WHAT HAS BEEN SEEN CANNOT BE UNSEEN! THERE ARE CUPCAKES OVER THERE!!!!!"
This is not an exaggeration, this was actually what she said.
That picture is how I will always remember you.
Happy birthday, too. :)