Electric Monk

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Introduction and Journey to TAM 2004

I have spent the last year telling everyone remotely interested in skeptical thought about the first Amaz!ng Meeting, and that they should go to the next one if they possibly could. Some of these seeds fell on the path where people heard but did not understand. Some fell on the rocky places where it was received with initial enthusiasm which slowly faded away. Some fell among the thorns where the worries of life prevented those from going to Las Vegas in January. But what fell on the good soil produced a bumper crop of skeptics from Southern California headed to TAM II.

This included one whose name I am not worthy to mention, yet she was destined not only to attend, but to speak as well. And not only to speak, but to win the hearts of hundreds. And it only took a little nagging and an email to Linda.

I had such a good time at the first TAM by going to the extra events organized by the folks on the JREF Forum. This time, I planned to go early and stay late, both to participate in these excursions and to volunteer where I could be of some help.

So, on Wednesday morning at about 7:30 am I started driving. I chose to drive instead of fly since Las Vegas is only 4.5 hours away by car. Also, it would allow me to drive without renting a car, and to offer rides to others, as I had benefitted from their generosity in Florida.

Southern California Vista

The scenery along the way is of a type both familiar and pleasing to me. I love the look of light and shadow on mountains, so you will be seeing a lot of pictures like this from me.

Scenery On I-15

Such as this one. The direct route from nearly anywhere in Southern California to Las Vegas is along I-15. This stretch of road can get very crowded on weekends. It is worse than usual right now because January is a busy month for Las Vegas, and because long sections of I-15 are under construction. Fortunately, by travelling on a Wednesday morning, I was able to avoid the traffic.

Ms. Cleo?
I Am Reminded Of The JREF Forum

Because of the normally high volume of traffic, and with people having plenty of money with them (at least on their way to Vegas), I-15 has many roadside towns and attractions catering to the needs of these travellers. Some of the establishments are a bit odd. The rest are downright strange.

Las Vegas At Last

Still, I had no difficulties, and found my way to Las Vegas by shortly after noon. I noticed that a mile of I-15 near the city had litter removal sponsored by Penn & Teller. I was not fast enough with my camera to record the sign, though.

Room At The Tuscany

The Tuscany All-Suites Hotel And Casino was right where it was supposed to be, and soon I was checking in. The room was much larger than I had thought it would be, and had nice amenities like a small but functional kitchen, table, a separate tub and shower, and a large lounging area. Except for the shower, I did not make use of any of it, but it was nice to have just in case.

Spacious, But With Some Issues

The hotel was of a nice design, except that the separate buildings made entering and leaving the conference unneccesarily long and chilly. The other problems seemed to stem from the construction being done by the lowest bidder. There were various complaints about little things, like noisy fans, loose shower fittings, sticking doors, and so on.

For the price, though, it was a pretty good place to stay.

The Lobby: Skeptic Central

After settling in, I went down to the lobby to see if anyone else was around. I was wearing my TAM I t-shirt, in order to attract the attention of any passing JREFers. This lobby became the prime gathering point for attendees during the off-hours of the conference.

Moe and Me
Moe and I

I was just looking to enter the lounge area when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but MoeFaux, our local JREFer, and Penn & Teller insider. She glanced down (at my shirt, I think) and said "Oh, you must be one of us!" Even if she hadn't turned out to be a JREFer, I felt glad to be one of "us".

Moe led me over to where UnrepentantSinner and Marc were waiting, and we engaged in spirited social intercourse for some time. Soon, some of the JREF staff and regular volunteers came through, including Hal Bidlack and Linda Shallenberger and took Moe away from us. Despondant, US, Marc, and I decided to explore some of the Strip.

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