I rambled so much while composing this piece that I decided to split it into two parts. I apologize for the wordiness of this eventually two part post, but given the whirlwind that is TAM a single post just won't do. I hope to post the Part II in the next day or so.
Part I: The Coming of The Amazing Meeting
A tale of two TAMS: I have read about this in other sources, and I tend to agree: there are, broadly speaking, two TAMs occurring. There is the lecture TAM and there is the schmooze TAM. They are not wholly separate by any means, but it appeared to me there was about 80% or so of the attendees who spent most of their time mainly enjoying the lectures and panels. There was another TAM which appeared to be a sizable minority of folks out in the main hallway kibitzing. Not exclusively talking, but I saw a lot of the same folks outside of the main ballroom while I darted out for refreshment. I think both are equally valid uses of precious TAM time, but I can't help but think if I was any good at kibitzing and chose to hobnob for a large chunk of my time it would have altered the overall takeaway from the experience.
|Skeptics' mess hall|
|crowded pool area|
The Extras: Also, I did not add in any of the extras for the workshops or evening entertainment in part due to travel timing issues and in part because it would severely escalate the price of admission. Did I miss some interesting content, especially in the workshops, probably yes. Was it a fair tradeoff? I think so. Given the time constraints, I really do not regret passing on most of the evening entertainment. If I did not have a few online friends I wanted to catch up with in person, I might have thought differently. My time spent socializing with friends I thought was well worth it. I did briefly attend the free--ABSOLUTELY NOT related to JREF--world famous to Skeptics Penn Jillette's Bacon and Donut party. Not a TAM event even though it is listed in the programs and it occurs right next to the TAM lecture hall. It was neat, but I am old. I could not stay. I needed rest. At least this year the event also seemed all about Penn's latest movie project. It is a nice place for everyone to let their hair down and party, but at least on this night this year I was not feeling it.
The Skinny: Overall, I found attending TAM very satisfying. I do plan on attending another TAM. I am not counting down the days to TAM 2015, but I hesitate to say I will absolutely not go next year. The theme or one of speakers might be so compelling that it will inspire me to attend two years in row. However, attending TAM for me sacrifices precious vacation time and money, which I do not think I am willing to part with on an annual basis. On the other hand, by this time in 2017 I would be surprised if I have not attended another one. It was an enlightening and engaging well run event, and I would hate for this to be my only TAM. It was a good use of my time and money. It is not a vacation. It was fun. It was educational. TAM was overall enlightening, but I do like my kickback and mindless breaks and TAM is not that at all. (At least if you are doing it right.)
*edited for misspelling*