With a good night's sleep behind me, it was time to head for home. I packed up the last of my things, checked out, and hit the road.
|Goodbye To The Tuscany|
Once past the congestion around Las Vegas, the traffic was light, and I had some time to contemplate the conference. In considering why it is that I have enjoyed both Amaz!ng Meetings more than most conferences, I would have to say that it is the feeling of community between the attendees, particularly among the JREF Forum members, and the friendly and open way in which the conference was staged. There were no real lines drawn between the attendees, the speakers, and the organizers.
What will TAM be like five years from now? Will we have settled down into a single venue, or perhaps just a few locations? Will there be a problem with too many attending? If we have two thousand people at TAM VII will we lose the sense of closeness? Will the skepchicks be in complete control? How much chocolate can be brought by a single person in an overhead compartment?
|Fresh Alien Jerky, Yum!|
In the broader perspective, what will organized skepticism have acheived five years from now? Will organizing skeptics continue to be as fruitful as the proverbial herding of cats? Other groups identified by their beliefs have managed to use their numbers and combined talents to improve the lives of their members, as well as reach out to the communities around them, in order to promote understanding of their views. This is something that skeptics should strive toward. We are a small group, and may always be few in number, but if we spend as much time seeking allies as we do in identifying foes, our influence will be multiplied many times over.
|The Hills Of Home|
For me, being a skeptic is a discipline which begins with seeking to understand myself, and using that understanding to improve the accuracy with which I perceive the world around me. When I describe skepticism to a non-skeptic, I do so in a way intended to promote understanding, not conversion.
|In The Fog, I Find Jesus|
All of this philosophizing seemed to have generated a dense fog around my car. Most everyone was slowing down, and visibility dropped to a matter of a few dozen feet. Then, lost in the fog, I found Jesus. Or more precisely, JESUS. What the Son o' God was doing driving around in a beat-up Ford was anyone's guess, but he did in fact lead me back out into the light.
|And See The Light|
I was clearly in the home stretch now, and eager to get back to see if my house was still standing. I had the rest of the day off, and was planning to use it to start getting my pictures organized.
|I Like To Be Here When I Can|
Home at last! And everything just as I had left it. Too bad. I had hoped that the home-project gnomes would come by and take care of certain onerous chores while I was gone. I'd swear that this was somewhere in the covenants of my homeowners' association.
So, now to wrap all of this up. I had a wonderful time at TAM2, as I fully expected. For over a week afterward, I was still riding a post-conference high. (It helped to have a Skeptics Society lecture the Sunday afterward, an Orange County group dinner on Monday, another lecture get-together on Tuesday, and a skeptics hike in Griffith Park the following Saturday.) Even now, from a nearly two week perspective, I cannot say how I would rank the first and second TAMs. But this much I know: I will be at TAM3, and I hope to see you all there, too.