Del Mar INVASION, what to do at TAM


June 16, 2013 by kittynh

I know where I’ll be going when I am attending the Amazing Meeting in a few weeks. I’ll fly in, check in, dump my stuff in my room, and head to the Del Mar bar.

Everyone is waiting for you!

Everyone is waiting for you!

The Del Mar is the home away from home for most of the people attending, and also speaking, at TAM.  The bar staff there is probably anticipating our yearly invasion with big smiles.  Skeptics may drink, but we tend to be very civilized.  We tip well also.

The location of the Del Mar, in the midst of a sea of slots, is better than it first appears.  South Point Casino has a very good exhaust system, so even for someone like myself fairly sensitive to smoke, I find it very comfortable to sit there.

One of the  nicest couple in the world (I would say nicest but my friend Felicity and Kevin are up there also!)

One of the nicest couple in the world (I would say nicest but my friend Felicity and Kevin are up there also!)

Nearby, is the New York Deli.  Lines there are long.  The workers are as surly as real New Yorkers are stereotyped to be.  The sandwiches are delicious and big enough to share.  You can bring your sandwich right into the Del Mar area also.  Want something sweet?  Try the ice cream nearby, and you can also eat that in the Del Mar area.

The best thing about the Del Mar is when you walk in with your name badge on, people will start talking to you.  “Where are you from?  How are you liking it?  Is this your first TAM?”  You will be pulled into any conversation.

"Faitheist" author Chris Stedman is a fan of the Del Mar.

“Faitheist” author Chris Stedman is a fan of the Del Mar.

Also don’t be surprised is you run into speakers.  Favorite speakers stop by and Randi himself is known to hang out there at times.  I’ve found myself in incredible conversations with my favorite skeptic writers.  It’s an incredible opportunity.

I meet old friends, make new ones and yes even do some networking for my own skeptic work.  Last year I met and talked with Robert Schaeffer, one of the best UFO skeptics in the world.  He gave me some good advice, told me stories about meeting Betty Hill (of alien abduction fame) and we have kept in touch ever since.  His advice has helped me take my own skeptic work to a higher level of professionalism.

In other words, you get to meet your heroes, and find they are more than willing to share their experience and knowledge.  While sitting in the audience listening to talks is important, educational and inspiring, it’s the Del Mar where skeptics really connect one on one.

Always some games going on, and anyone is welcome to play.

Always some games going on, and anyone is welcome to play.

Not much of a conversationalist?  There are is more than one game of “Cards Against Humanity” planned (don’t worry, you’ll catch on to the rules very quickly).  You just have to sit down, play, laugh and make friends.  Just show up.

I always fly into Vegas after having to change planes at least once.  I use frequent flyer miles, so I never get a direct flight.  I come in tired, cranky, hot, and also a little lonely.  I’m ready to let down my hair and just be myself.

So, for some reason my friend Irena's shirt went "see through" when a photo was taken.  It's really solid black...

So, for some reason my friend Irena’s shirt went “see through” when a photo was taken. It’s really solid black…

The Del Mar is where you can make a joke about astrology, homeopathic medicine, or Doctor Oz, and everyone will laugh.  No one is going to say “I don’t know, it sure worked for my uncle!”  We have to be respectful and nice almost all year.  We have to try to explain carefully to people about why they really should have their child vaccinated, and why atheists don’t eat babies (well, only on Friday nights).  At the Del Mar, skeptics have a chance to laugh and just be themselves without fear of losing their jobs or having their great aunt never talk to them again.

Someone is laughing, and it's not the liquor.  My friend Natalie doesn't touch anything stronger than a Pepsi.

Someone is laughing, and it’s not the liquor. My friend Natalie doesn’t touch anything stronger than a Pepsi.

Many people say they miss the Del Mar and their fellow skeptics when they go back home and can’t just be themselves.  We have to put on our social masks, and decide “Do I really want to explain again why the horoscope in the paper means nothing?”

Not everyone drinks, even so we all manage to show up for the talks in the morning!

Not everyone drinks, even so we all manage to show up for the talks in the morning!

So come to TAM, and when you do, show up at the Del Mar.  Anytime.  I have no idea what time the last person leaves the Del Mar.  I know I’ve stayed up late for the cheap dinner at the Coronado and then gone back to hang out at the Del Mar some more there has always been a group of people there.(I love a restaurant with a menu that is the size of a phone directory for a small town.  Their Chinese food is as good as their Prime Rib.  It’s perfect as they have something for everyone!)

Yes people still manage to stagger into the early morning talks.   I will say I am hoping my friend who is giving a paper at TAM on Sunday morning doesn’t get an early slot.  If he does, there is coffee.  A lot of coffee gets drunk at TAM.

When you are at TAM, two places you need to visit.  The Forum Welcome Table, and the Del Mar.  If you can’t find the Del Mar, ask at the Welcome Table, we’ll probably walk down with you!

9 thoughts on “Del Mar INVASION, what to do at TAM

  1. Wendy Hughes says:

    Only a few weeks away! Counting the minutes!

  2. ubi dubium says:

    If those are TAM9 pictures, then I think I see what might be my back in the background of one of them.

    I’m bringing my spouse this year, and I’ll probably hang out at the Del Mar quite a bit, at least until the smoke gets too awful. (I’m really sensitive to it, and the ventilation, while not terrible, is not good enough to compensate.) There was a cheap hot dog cart nearby too, I remember.

  3. sgerbic says:

    Can’t wait to see you soon Kitty!

  4. kevin251 says:

    Aw, thanks for the kind words, Kitty! (We mentioned you and Mark in a recent Flopcast episode, you know…)

    I’ve only attended one TAM (#9), and spent a fair amount of time at the Del Mar, which is indeed the heart of the TAM social scene. The drinks are very cheap too! I did, however, find it to be uncomfortably smoky. Felicity couldn’t take it, and really had to limit her Del Mar time. So that is something for people who are sensitive to smoke to keep in mind. (The conference area, where TAM actually takes place, is mercifully smoke-free!)

  5. sgerbic says:

    I’ll be there at the Del Mar tomorrow (YEAH) and looking forward to meeting new people and seeing old friends. This is Stirling and my 8th TAM so he tells me, he has been hanging out at the Del Mar since he was 14. He never drank and no one ever checked his ID. Now that he is 22 (and looks 16) I’m sure they will be checking his like crazy.

    I’m with most of the comments here, I hate the smoke. Its okay when it is just the casino that is smoking, its a problem when it is someone at a nearby table. I keep moving, camera in hand. Thankfully there are few skeptic smokers at TAM. Wonder why that is?

  6. MyJolie says:

    Hello, this is my second time attending TAM. So, I still feel like a newbie. Sadly, the friends I made last year couldn’t make it this year. I am very much looking forward to meeting new people and making even more friends this year, too. How do I get in the “what’s going on at TAM” loop?

    • kittynh says:

      come to the Del Mar, wear your badge. Join in a game.. seriously….or ask someone “can I sit here?” at a table. Also come over to the Forum Welcome Table. I find going to the Del Mar, sorry it’s smoking, you can pretty much just join in. Introduce yourself to your table mates. Offer to buy a round of drinks (ok expensive but worth it). Even if someone is eating, ask to join their table. Tim Farley has a list of EVERYTHING that is going on. If you are on FB, you can ask him, or at the JREF forum. His list is great (we’ll probably have a copy at the forum welcome table). There is a LOT going on not on the official list. Dinners, games, even knitting (with guy knitters this year). The smaller events are a great way to meet people!). Kitty

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