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Oct 10 2011

So Sorry to Disappoint

My first foray into the realm of public humiliation was a great big flop on the humiliation front, but happily completely successful in the not-dribbling-on-myself front.

I should begin by saying I love the concept of GeekGirlCon. I love a sea of women with a few islands of men getting together to celebrate all things geek. I wish I’d known about it sooner, that it hadn’t happened the weekend a certain popular phone launched and thus closed the vacation calendar, and that I hadn’t already promised I’d attend Frankenstein. I only got to attend the panel I was on, and then we had to skedaddle rather than dawdle. Next year, I sincerely hope, will be different. And I think I shall assemble a costume.

As it was, my poor long-suffering coworker and dear friend and I rousted ourselves out of bed at an obscene hour (we are nocturnal) and raced down to the Con, arriving at ten-thirty. Plenty of time, we thought. We found parking. We went in search of the Con. We discovered that Seattle Center is utterly enormous when you think you know where you’re going but really don’t and nobody at the main entrance has any idea such a thing as GeekGirlCon is taking place.

Then we got to the registration booth and were told they were sold out. The woman handling all that should’ve had a camera handy, because the panicked expression on my face must have been exquisite.

She got us passes the very instant I blurted out, “But I’m one of the speakers!” Thanks to her, we were able to slip into the room with a comfortable two minutes to spare. I slipped into my seat. I stared out at the sea of faces. There were a lot of faces. We were a last-minute deal, and who the hell wants to talk about skepticism when they could be geeking out? The answer is many.

Paul Case, President of the Seattle Skeptics, moderated for us. I’ve known Case for a long time, and he’s brilliant at this kind of stuff. He warmed the audience nicely, had topics ready, kept things moving, and in general did the kind of job that prevents panels from becoming boring disasters. Not that this one would have – not with four brilliant women: Jen McCreight, Surly Amy, Meg Winston, and Valerie Tarico. We could’ve managed by just yammering free-form. But Case added structure, and came up with the idea of prizes, and I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised the audience actually seemed to like us, considering the synergy between an experienced organizer and clever panelists.

Alas, being a panelist, I didn’t take notes. Hopefully, folks who were there will do a proper write-up and point me to it. All I can do is babble a bit about how awesome the audience was (teh awesome!), the genius of my co-panelists (total genius), and hope like hell that my friend isn’t lying to me when she said I didn’t suck. In fact, she said I had charisma.

O.o

Then she said I had stage presence.

o.O

Then she said it’s because I’m open and approachable and people want to talk to me.

O.O

And I’m left thinking that, although she has a reputation as a forthright and honest person, she may have been sparing my feelings just a bit. Then again, she said all of us were brilliant and engaging and very interesting indeed, so maybe she was dazzled by the glory reflecting off the other panelists. Because, you see, I’m not exaggerating: these are incredible women, and outstanding skeptics, and sharing a panel discussion with one of them is right up there amongst the best moments of my life.

The upshot is that I very much hope we all do this again, and soon. Because the fact that so many women lined up during Q & A to ask us good, hard-to-answer questions about dealing with non-skeptical friends and relations, about how skepticism affects us, about what we can do for kids with frightenly religious or woo-smitten parents, shows me how necessary this is.

I’m going to do up a small series here, dealing with some of the questions Case asked, and what I can remember of the audience’s questions. I’ll link to the other skeptical women on the panel if they do their own write-ups. And if you were there and wrote something, or come across someone who did, please feel free to link in comments.

You’re even going to get a video of me doing crystal magic. How awesome will that be, eh?

4 comments

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  1. 1
    geocatherder

    Of COURSE you did well. Think of it as training for your first book tour.

  2. 2
    hiro

    Can’t wait for the Q&A.

    BTW, RCPM are doing their Halloween gig in at Harold’s in Cave Creek which is right around the corner (I live in Phoenix). I’d be there but my wife bought tickets to some other event that night and I can’t skip out on that one.

  3. 3
    george.w

    Dana, even if your awesomeness takes an occasional, well-deserved vacation, you rock, and hard.

  4. 4
    Stephanie Zvan

    Erm, I count five brilliant women.

  1. 5
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    [...] that’s what we tried to impress upon the audience at GeekGirlCon: skepticism is a tool, or rather a tool kit. I’ll show you [...]

  2. 6
    Skepticism 101: Popular Pseudoscience | En Tequila Es Verdad

    [...] exempt, not by any means, but there’s some woo targeted almost exclusively at women. Our Skepticism 101 panel explored some of the varieties on offer. Some of the woo might not even appear to be woo, on [...]

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