Mr. Paul Aints vs. Winnipeg Goldeyes

This past Saturday evening, the Hubby and I went to see a baseball game at the new CHS Field in Saint Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood. We’re not really sports people, but this Saturday was a special event – it was the third annual Mr. Paul Aints game!

Photo of the CHS Field Jumbotron. Advertising is on the borders, the main central portion shows the Aints logo - beginning with a large red capital "A."

The Saint Paul Saints is the minor league baseball team in the Twin Cities, but on Saturday the team donned special jerseys and hats and became the Mr. Paul Aints. Minnesota Atheists and Foundation Beyond Belief came together to sponsor the annual atheism visibility event. Soles4Souls partnered with us to collect gently used shoes from attendees; the promotion was called “Leave Your Soles at the Gate.” We had our boxes filled by the start of the game! [Read more…]

Cons and Cons and Cons, Oh My!

Whew – It has been a month for conventions!

First and most exciting: The Secular Women Work Kickstarter was fully funded on the 19th. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this A Thing That Is Going To Happen! I am ready to work and be inspired. And I guess this means that I get to add one more thing to my 2014 con schedule. Yipee!

Also in February I attended SuperCon and Con of the North. I played a lot of board games at those two. I taught some, and learned some, and a few were added to my ever-growing need-to-own list, including Templar, Downfall of Pompeii and Machi Koro. [Read more…]

Secular Women Work Conference – 3 Days Left!

I am an activist. I believe that change is possible, and that the way to make change happen is to get involved. The manifestation of “involvement” looks different for every person, but I believe that everyone has something to contribute: a story to share, a financial contribution, a vote, time, a helping hand. When we choose to become involved, we become activists.

While everyone can be an activist, a lot of us wonder how to get there, or if what we’re doing is really “activism.” It helps to have a community of people who share our goals, who we can seek out when we have questions, a desire to share resources, or if we’re looking to get our foot in the door to discover how we want to contribute and where we want to focus our efforts. [Read more…]

Godless Gamers Game Night

Tonight I left work and headed over to the Fantasy Flight Games Center in Roseville for Godless Gamers Game Night,  a recurring Meetup hosted by Minnesota Atheists. A fair number of people showed up – maybe 15-20. We took up four or five tables and played for about three hours. I ran two board games, Tokaido and Lords of Waterdeep. There were a few deck builders at another table, and a series of Avalon that lasted for ages.


Lords of Waterdeep in progress.

Two good friends stopped by, which made my night even better, plus we decided that we have to have another game date on Sunday to play the new Doctor Who game that they picked up this evening.

The FFG Game Center is just gorgeous. They have a kitchen, a beer and wine license, plenty of parking, and a very well-stocked games library that anyone can use. The space has high ceilings,  is well-lit and has huge SF/F-themed murals and artwork throught. Cthulhu in the ladies bathroom y’all.

If you’re local or get a chance to visit, I’d recommend a stop. Or join Minnesota Atheists for our next Godless Gamers FFGC night!

FTBCon3 is Up and Running!

We’re stocked up on Mountain Dew and Funyuns (no seriously…I’m going old school this weekend), I’m in my official FTBCon uniform:

Me in a bathrobe and slippers, big grin and hands on my hips

…all of the tech seems to be in place and opening remarks with Stephanie Zvan and Debbie Goddard are a go!

Debbie Goddard speaking in a Google Hangout

Treating the Brain: Skeptics Talk Therapy and Therapists just started at 5:30pm CST. A full schedule is located on Lanyrd:

You can find the link to the Google Hangout (and YouTube from there) by clicking on the link in each Lanyrd event page, here:

Shows an Lanyrd page for "Treating the Brain" panel and a red arrow pointing to the "official session page" located in the right sidebar.


Other important links:

We hope you can join us sometime this weekend!

The Weekend of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming

Hey…guess what’s coming up fast? It’s The Weekend of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming!


Image is an advertisement showing the Mr. Paul Aints logo with information about the baseball game and conference (detailed in text below), and a photo of the Minneapolis Skyline.

This will be the second year that I attend. Last year’s baseball game was a blast, and the conference had inspiring speakers presenting novel and timely information about atheism and the secular movement.

This year the Mr. Paul Aints will take the field again on Friday August 9th to play the Sioux City Explorers at Midway Stadium in Saint Paul. The party starts at 5pm with tailgating in the parking lot and the game begins at 7pm. The meetup description for the event promises between-inning atheist-themed antics (hmmm…devil worshiping in the infield and baby tastings, perhaps?), and there will be an auction of Mr. Paul Aints jerseys with proceeds to go to a local charity.

The next day – Saturday – Minnesota Atheists and American Atheists will hold their second consecutive Twin Cities-based regional conference. The conference takes place at the Ramada Plaza in NE Minneapolis, and the lineup is exciting (I’ve taken out the breaks in the list below – for the full schedule, visit

9:15-10:15 Hector Avalos: “How Archaeology Killed Biblical History”
10:30-12:00pm Breakout Sessions & Workshops
1:45-2:45 Greta Christina: “Coming Out: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?”
2:45-3:45 Amanda Knief: “Ten Legal Issues Atheists Need to Know”
4:00-5:30 Annie Laurie Gaylor: “The Religious War on Women”
7:30-9:00 All-Star Panel Discussion: Atheism and Religion: Confrontation or Accommodation – Annie Laurie Gaylor, Hector Avalos, Greta Christina, Amanda Knief, PZ Myers, and Kelli Clement. Moderated by Stephanie Zvan (Author of Almost Diamonds blog on Freethought Blogs).

The conference organizers did a good job of packing in a wide variety of topics in a few short hours – one day conferences are hard! I’m especially excited by the 10:30-noon workshops, which are being led by local atheists. Topics include science, family and raising kids in atheist households, treatment of (nonhuman) animals, mental health, addiction, and shame. For descriptions of the panels press the big red button on the frontpage of the Minnesota Atheists website.

If you’re interested in joining us, the information for signing up for the baseball game and/or the conference can be found at the MN Atheists website. The cost for the game starts at $10 and the conference starts at $30 (if you’re 25 years old or younger AND a student, you can buy a discounted conference ticket for $10). These are early bird prices, and early bird sign up ends on July 31st – in just three days! After that prices for the conference goes up to $40 (student admission stays $10).

And if there is any doubt that you’re going to have a good – and occasionally goofy – time, check out these lyrics that Paul Heffron and Jerry Rauser wrote for the Mr. Paul Aints game:

To the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game

(Verse 1)
Let’s all go to the Aints game.
Let’s all show who we are.
The big red A says a lot about us.
We’re here for fun, so please don’t make a fuss.
So we’ll root for the Mister Paul Aints team.
For they accept us by name.
So it’s hip, hip, hip, hip hooray
At the Aints ball game.

(Verse 2)
Let’s have fun at the Aints game,
Tail-gate party supreme.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, and drinks for all.
Under our banner we’ll all have a ball.
We will root, root, root for the pigs’ race.
In Pig’s Eye town there’s no shame.
For it’s one, two, pick up the pace
At the Aints Ball Game!

FtBConscience TONIGHT!

It’s here! Yay!

Oh crap – it’s here!

You’ve read about it! You’ve chatted excitedly on social media about it! And now the wait is over! Tonight is the start of FtBCON

This is very exciting. I LOVE attending conferences. They’re little nuggets of energy-packed, inspiring, information-sharing. They’re like a triple shot of caffeine! A jump start to the engine of my skepticism! Okay, I may not have gotten much sleep last night. And speaking of caffeine: I’ve had a lot already this morning.

FtBConscience is FREE and ONLINE. It’s nice not having to pack an overnight bag, make hotel reservations or find couch space, take a long car ride or navigate an airport and get groped by theTSA, or budget for meals and gas and all of the little expenses that come with traveling. And FtBCon has an incredibly laid back dress code for attendees and presenters alike (PJs! PJs!)

Another really cool thing about being online: We have booked speakers from all over the world. We have booked ONE HUNDRED AND NINE panelists, according to Lanyrd! Many of our speakers are in North America, but we also have panelists from Australia, Africa, Asia and Europe. I’m not sure if we have any South American-based speakers… Hmmm… Next year we need to go for FULL world domination. We are, however, anticipating audience participants from all four corners of the globe (I love the contradictory nature of that statement. You know what I need right now? MOAR COFFEEEEEE!!!)

You can view the schedule of this weekend’s events on our Lanyrd site, the official FtBCon website, or on Google+. We have a Facebook page, and the Twitter hashtag is #FtBCon. To learn about HOW TO PARTICIPATE as an attendee, check out the front page of the FtBCon website.

I’ve listed the panels that I’m going to be on below. Hope to see you there!

Reproductive Rights

Satuday July 20th – 2pm CST – Official Google+ session page

A panel of reproductive rights activists come together to discuss access to abortion in current events, clinic escorting and some common religious and non-religious arguments against abortion. Our panel consists of clinic escorts – including one panelist who volunteered before FACE laws went into effect (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances), health care professionals, an author and several bloggers who write about reproductive rights. Our panelists hail from Minnesota, Kentucky, Virginia and Ireland.

Atheist Music

Saturday July 20th – 9pm CST – Official Google+ session page

Join us to hear a few songs and have a casual chat with ukulelist and FtB blogger Ashley Miller, classically trained singers Ania Bula and JT Eberhard, and Australian singer-songwriter Shelley Segal. At conferences you can sometimes catch JT belting out musicals or warming up a mike with a bit of opera. Shelley Segal published An Atheist Album in 2011, and she has played at the Reason Rally, the American Atheist Convention, Women In Secularism and other events. Ashley graces YouTube with her ukulele stylings and Ania will wow you with her clear, heady soprano. Seanna Watson, director of CFI-Ottowa, and Steve Watson – a former church guitarist – will also be joining us. We’ll discuss issues relating to music and religion, the role music plays in our lives as secularists and some our favorite atheist songs and artists. Panel facilitated by Brianne Bilyeu.

Video Games, Religion and Morality

Saturday July 20th – 11pm CST – Official Google+ session page

Religion and morality systems in video games are often grossly oversimplified, to the point where choices are entirely binary and you’re often forced, as a gamer, to do things that you might otherwise find appalling, like working in service of a god or gods. How are these heady topics handled in the slowly-maturing video game industry? Who’s already doing this stuff right? How can these topics’ treatment be improved?

JT and JTs Videogameathonapalooza!

The first game system I played was the Atari 2600. I have memories of playing E.T., Berzerk, Pitfall, Asteroid, Space-Invaders, Frogger and DigDug.  I still remember the pain of Atari Thumb.

Breakout was my favorite game for a long time.

Remember this bad boy? And unlike some of the other games, this one used the paddle rather than the joystick controller.

After Atari my parents picked us up a Nintendo (NES), and then we upgraded to Super Nintendo when I was in Junior High. I was a HUGE Mario fan. We conquered Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 and 3. I even got the cheat guide for Super Mario 3 so I could find all of the hidden flutes, learn the trick behind scoring five 1-ups at the end of every three levels, and memorize the grids of the memory cards bonus levels.

My other favorite game was Trog! Frickin’ green Trogs were the worst. This was the heyday of my video gaming; we played Duck Hunt, California Games, TMNT, Contra Force, Legend of Zelda, MegaMan, Kid Icarus, Paperboy, Donkey Kong, Tennis and Q*bert. My mom kicked all of our asses in Dr. Mario and Tetris, and my dad and I liked to play one of the casino games, Bases Loaded and Black Bass. The Nintendo was downstairs in our unfinished basement, so often times we would drag over the space heater and play Nintendo while we did laundry.

I completely missed Sega and didn’t pick up a console again until Thanksgiving 2011 when I bought a WII. I rock the new Mario Kart, the Hubby and I like to hunt each other down in Goldeneye 007, and I’m smitten with this one diving game called Endless Ocean. But one of the first things I did when I plugged in the system was download the old SNES Super Mario Bros and Dr. Mario.

Ah memories.

And do you know what starts in, like, NOW? Jason Thibeault and JT Eberhard’s 24 hour Gamers For Godlessness Gameathonapalooza! They’re going to be playing all sorts of retro videogames. For CHARITY.



What’s a gameathonapalooza? I’ll let JT explain:

Jason Thibeault from the Lousy Canuck blog and I are going to be playing retro games for 24 straight freaking hours on Saturday!  We’ll be live-streaming our lovely faces along with our games.  We’ll be talking about all kinds of interesting stuff from atheism to politics to gaming history, and we’ll be taking call-ins, email questions, etc.  We’re doing this to raise money for Camp Quest and theWomen in Secularism conference.

 They’ve got all sorts of crazy challenges, stunts and guests – including me at 10pm EST – set up for today and tomorrow.12PM EST today through 12pm EST tomorrow (Sunday). Check out this post by JT for some last minute updates. It’s also the thread for comments, questions and challenges at Chez WWJTD. Click that link/visit that blog post at lot, because JT’s donating all of the money from hits to that post to the cause.

The hashtag for the event is #GDLS

See you over there!

Weekend Report

I was hoping to get a lot of writing done this weekend because there is SO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT! I got exactly zero writing done, but looking back on my weekend, it turns out I did some pretty cool stuff.

Friday night was supposed to be a night of relaxing and hanging out with the Virtual Drinking Skeptically (VDS) gang. Unfortunately, work setbacks trashed that idea. I didn’t have all my ducks in a row and ended up working until midnight :(  Long story short, I grabbed some material (calibrators) for a study and forgot to check the expiration date. After doing all of the set-up on Friday morning, I went to use the calibrators and discovered that they were expired. No problem, I’ll just go grab a new lot, right? Ohhhh…so sad for me: there are no unexpired lots left in the freezer. Luckily, my company makes the darned things on site, so I’ll just go over to manufacturing and pick some up. Three hours later…

At some point during the morning’s series of fiascoes I noted with that sort of inappropriate hilarity that often precludes a mental breakdown that I was going through various stages of grief as my Friday night went up in flames.

  • Shock/Denial: WHAT? How the hell are the calibrators expired? What do you mean we don’t have any extra calibrators in the building? How is that possible? I am NOT letting this get in the way of Virtual Drinking Skeptically tonight.
  • Pain/Guilt: How could I be so stupid as to not check the expiration date before I started!? How could I have everything in place and forget that? I haven’t been to a VDS in months and I feel horrible for not showing up and supporting it because it’s awesome and I can’t believe I’ve ruined my evening like this!
  • Anger/Bargaining: How did NO ONE stock calibrators? Why did this have to happen tonight!? Maybe I could use the expired cals and write some sort of justification. No? Okay, if I can just get the study started, I can sneak away and come in over the weekend to finish things up.
  • Depression/Loneliness: This sucks. I hate working late on Friday nights. Everyone goes home to relax and start their weekend and I’m going to be stuck here pipetting samples until kingdom come. Which isn’t coming, so that means FOREVER. I’m not making it to VDS.
  • Upward Turn: Okay… I have new calibrators. The instruments are all ready to go. Let’s calibrate and see if the controls pass. Samples are thawed, time to start pipetting. If I can load 20 samples per hour and I’ve got 149 samples to load… awwww, man. Wait, calm…I can do this.
  • Acceptance/Hope: Okay, there’s no way I’m getting out of here in time for VDS, but I’ll just have to plan to make the next one. And hey, everything’s running well and I’m going to make it through at least half of these samples today. I’ll come back on Sunday and finish ’em up. And I’ll still have all of Saturday. Every little thing… is gonna be alright.

That’s a whole lot of emotion to go through over the course of a day! Like I said earlier, I left at midnight, but I did get to come home to a sympathetic partner and a whiskey nightcap. So that was nice.

[Read more…]