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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

TAM 2013!

Exciting!: The Amazing Meeting 2013 is less than a month away. I’m thrilled to be returning for my second TAM (and to be returning to Las Vegas, one of my favorite places). I had an absolutely wonderful time at TAM 2012 (some of my photos are here): I learned a great deal, experienced many thought-provoking and inspiring talks/events and conversations, had so much fun with dear friends, met some of my “skeptic heroes” (forgive the cheesy phrase) including Ray Hyman (an absolutely brilliant and sweet man. We had quite a few one-on-one conversations last year, and I’ll always be grateful to him for taking the time to talk with me), and, most exciting of all, I was on the Skepticism and the Humanities panel (video here).


TAM 2013

This year, my friends/TAM 2012 co-panelists/Skeptical Humanities bloggers/two-fifths of the Virtual Skeptics/fellow skeptic teachers Bob Blaskiewicz and Eve Siebert and I will be presenting the Skepticism Across the Curriculum workshop. Bob will be moderating, and, among other things, we’ll be discussing the various ways that we practice skepticism and promote critical thinking as educators and academics and how those practices and methods can be applied and utilized in a variety of contexts (both academic and non-academic). Or, as Bob wrote in the description of the workshop (also available here):

While many skeptics seem to conflate science and skepticism, the two terms are not equivalent. Science, it turns out, is just one form of skeptical inquiry that encompasses many academic disciplines, including those in the humanities. This workshop will introduce the audience to scholarship confronting extraordinary claims across the disciplines. Skepticism may be profitably applied to everything from Ancient Aliens’ mangling of art and art history, literary and folklore studies, mythology, and archeology, to young-earth creationists’ vandalism of all forms of textual scholarship, from Beowulf and Arthurian legend to Biblical studies. These and other extraordinary claims can also be used in classrooms to teach the critical thinking skills needed in all contexts and to introduce the disciplines to popular audiences.


And here are a few links to some of the things that I’ve written/spoken about that are either directly related to or relevant to what we’ll be covering in the workshop (I’m sure that I’ll be discussing rhetoric quite a lot):

Blog posts:  1, 2, 3, 4

Posts on the JREF‘s Swift Blog: 1, 2

(& Be sure to check out my Lanyrd profile)

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of TAM again, and am looking forward to our workshop (and am glad that I get to work with Bob and Eve once more- they’re fantastic (ahem, “Derrida Zombies“, anyone?) )

There’s so much more that I could say about last year’s experience, or about what I’m looking forward to at TAM 2013, but I’ll hold off on that for now. Anyway, if you’ll be at TAM this year, come check out our workshop!

Vegas awaits… ♥

Las Vegas Airport- July 2012


Favorite 2012 travel photos, part one: Washington, D.C.

I’d planned to post my ten favorite travel photos of 2012, but I couldn’t narrow it down to just ten (too much loveliness!), so I’m going to divide the photos up into two or three different posts instead.

First up is Washington, D.C., where I visited in February 2012. The rest of my photos from the trip can be found on Flickr.

Most of these photos were taken at two places that absolutely stole my heart ♥: the Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Art. Also, along with the photos, I’ve included links to interesting/useful/educational information, so be sure to click on them if you’re interested.

(& One last thing before the photos: sadly, I didn’t get to see my Imaginary Boyfriend Joe Biden while in D.C. Darn! ;) I still associate that trip with him, though: last month, I dreamt that Biden bought me Christian Louboutin stilettos & gelato & wandered around the Library of Congress with me. I have great dreams sometimes (^‿^))

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SkeptiCamp Denver & ‘Pragmatic Rhetoric for Idealistic Skeptics’

SkeptiCamp Denver 2012 was fantastic! I really enjoyed spending time with lovely dear friends, meeting new people, and hearing some great talks. And, speaking of talks, my friends (the Cool Colorado Kids, particularly (the inventor of SkeptiCamp!) Reed and Rich) were kind enough to let this out-of-towner participate in their event, and I’m very grateful for that. Be sure to check out SkeptiCamp5280‘s Lockerz photo gallery for some great photos from that day (and some of my photos can be found here).

Speaking in a new context is challenging. I’m quite comfortable in front of a classroom, but I’d never before spoken at an event like this, and the dynamic is definitely different. I knew what I wanted to talk about, but couldn’t quite figure out exactly how I should talk about it in this context, particularly because I was up first and didn’t really know how the other speakers would be structuring their talks. So, long story short: 1) I was more nervous than I expected to be, 2) I was quite sick (mostly allergies), which made me feel a bit out of it and not as quick-on-the-uptake as I like to be, 3) because I’d never before spoken at an event like this, I wasn’t quite sure how to pace myself, so I ended up getting through only about half of what I had planned to discuss, 4) I move around way too much and use too many filler words (note to self: don’t do that next time! :) ), and 5) although I know that I could have done better, I’m very happy that I did it, grateful to have had the opportunity to do so, and plan to keep working on improving my skills and on becoming more comfortable speaking at these sort of events, as I’d love to continue doing so in the future (and am super-excited to be on the “Skepticism and the Humanities” panel at TAM 2012!)

Also, in the days leading up to SkeptiCamp, I wrote about 3,000 words on this topic (“Pragmatic Rhetoric for Idealistic Skeptics”) and plan to use that content to craft a longer and more in-depth and thorough version of this talk at some point. Additionally, I’ll soon post either a summary of what I talked about and/or an overview of everything I had planned to talk about.

I really love this topic and find it to be so inspiring and exciting. I love the idea of expanding the definition of rhetoric and of “taking back” rhetoric, so to speak, of thinking of rhetoric as something that any idealistic and/or active skeptic can and should have in their “toolkit”, of understanding how frequently we utilize rhetoric, of valuing and prioritizing one’s audience, specifically by embracing and utilizing the principle of clarity and the principle of charity, of modeling the evidence-based decision making and critical thinking that we want others to adopt, of remembering that it’s not about us and that it’s not about how we can “win” or “conquer” or “beat the other side into submission”; instead, its about discovering the most effective ways to inform and persuade our audience, of encouraging idealists to see the value of and the usefulness of pragmatism, of illustrating how pragmatic rhetoric helps us to change the world for the better and to actually do something, instead of just congratulating ourselves for holding certain beliefs and having certain ideals, etc., etc., etc. Anyway, I’m excited to improve upon and expand this talk and to also discuss the topic in other ways/contexts.

(And, for anyone who’s interested, I referenced and/or made use of two sources in my talk: Daniel J. O’Keefe‘s “News for Argumentation from Persuasion Effects Research: Two Cheers for Reasoned Discourse” (PDF) and Ray Hyman‘s “Proper Criticism“)

So, onwards we go. First, here’s a picture of goofy-faced mid-word-me during my talk, taken by my friend Reed :) :


And the video! Many thanks to Michael Clifton for filming the entire day (the schedule can be found here). I tried my best to set the embedded YouTube video to start at around 7:20 or so, but I’m not exactly sure if that will work or not. If it doesn’t work, fast-forward to roughly 7:20 to see my talk. I encourage you to watch the other talks, too. There were some fantastic ones (I especially enjoyed seeing Bryan & Baxter). Anyway, voila!:


(Update: here’s another video of my talk)


& Lastly, here’s a group photo, taken by Stu Robbins:

Yay SkeptiCamp!


More soon! ♥

I Love Las Vegas (part two)

I just realized that I haven’t yet posted the rest of the photos from my Las Vegas trip. Oops! Anyway, here are a few of the lovely/beautiful/interesting things that I came across during my wanderings:

Inside Caesar’s Palace


The Venetian- (where The Sands once stood. Hallowed ground! :) )


The Bellagio


Inside the lobby of the Bellagio- Dale Chihuly’s gorgeous “Fiori di Como”


Inside the Cosmopolitan hotel


The Eiffel Tower at the Paris hotel


Casino Royale


Chanel store at the Bellagio. Oh, swoon!


Lollipops in the Sugar Factory at Planet Hollywood


Looking pensive (or something) while wandering through the lovely Forum Shops


And just because I love it so:

I love Las Vegas (part one)

I love Las Vegas.

Love, love, love it.

Even in its current state of over-commercialized Disneyfication, I can’t help but love it.

However, I’m quite saddened that I’ll never get to experience Vegas as it was in the early ’60s, in all its gloriously hedonistic glamorous splendor. If I had a TARDIS, I’d set it for the Sands Hotel, circa 1960. My mission, should I choose to accept it (of course I would!): Find Dean Martin (and the rest of the Rat Pack, but especially Dean):


Seriously, the Coolest Dudes Ever

Swoon! ♥

In March, I spent four days in Vegas, and had a wonderful time. I’d planned to find (and take copious photos of) anything related to the Rat Pack. Alas, my plans were foiled: unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much (at least not that I could find, and I searched pretty extensively) Rat Pack-ness left to be found. It’s quite sad.

Much of my search took place in old downtown, specifically Fremont Street/”Glitter Gulch”. I had lovely time there, strolling around in awe, exploring each of the casinos, and even wandering off of the beaten path a bit (unfortunately, that type of wandering was rather limited, as it was dark and I was exploring alone. After a few minutes on a rather deserted and creepy  (but interesting) side street, I started to worry that I was about to become the inspiration for an episode of C.S.I., and quickly darted back to Fremont).

Despite the failure of my search, and despite the fact that the Disneyfication of The Strip has, sadly enough, started to spread to Fremont Street, I enjoyed old downtown immensely, and took lots of photos:

The gorgeous Binion’s sign-

Binion's sign

The Fremont

The Golden Gate

Golden Gate sign

A lovely sign on the back of the Golden Gate-

Vintage Vegas sign

Vegas Vic!-

Vegas Vic

And I’m including this one (part of the Four Queens) just because it’s where Bono turns The Annoying up to eleven and sings into the Edge’s face in the “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” video-

Bono is annoying

(As my friend Paul said on Facebook, “I wonder at what point in his life The Edge decided he would not, in fact, smack Bono and say “oh will you please stop that?” I think that decision was very fateful.” True fact!)

Bono’s tediousness aside, it’s a lovely song. I’ve watched the video a zillion times since returning from Vegas, because I miss old downtown a lot, and love getting to see bits and pieces of it in the video.

This is getting long, so I’ll save the rest of my Vegas reminiscences and photos for another post.

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