The Grand Elf

That’s what I think of when I see James Randi. He is just a wee bit of a thing. Never tall, even in his youth, and age has curved his spine and shrunken his body even more. Yet, he looms large in the skeptical community (Wikipedia).

He’s been through much in the past few years, not the least of which was cancer and chemo. He was given a clean bill of health, and he moved well this year, navigating the hallways and the stairs without pause.

At the close of The Amaz!ng Meeting, he made one concession to his advancing years: a “wrangler” would be brought on to assist him.

This year, we were all invited to a special showing of “An Honest Liar,” a documentary of Randi’s life (trailer).  I highly recommend it.  We also learned this year that his biography is in the works as well.  That gargantuan effort is in the hands  Massimo Polidoro (Wikipedia)

The clock is ticking.

He’s Two!

Remember this little boy?  This is our great-nephew, Mattix.

And he’s two years old now.

Of course, that meant a party!  We started out at the water park at North Valleys Regional Park.

There was pizza.

And ice cream.

Cards and lots of presents.

And just as we were about to eat some cake . . .

. . . lightning strikes began and the park had to close. So we had to head over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to finish the party.

We finally get down the important part.

Then off to play some more!

And before it was all through, we got a group photo.  I must say, I’m rather proud of myself on this achievement. I got everyone sitting and posed, Mattix was off to the side playing on the recliner. I told everyone, “No matter what happens with Mattix, keep looking into the camera.”  I set the timer, grabbed Mattix from the recliner, threw him into his mommy’s lap, jumped into my spot and “Smiles!”  Got it on the first take. 

Gratuitous cute puppy photo. This is Bambi, the newest addition to my brother & sister-in-law’s household.

I’m still recovering . . .

Four days in the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for The Amaz!ng Meeting 2014, with a midnight arrival home on Sunday night,  then back to work immediately on Monday hasn’t left me much time to catch my breath. I finally got through all the photos I took and posted them to Facebook and to SmugMug.  I just unpacked today, sorted the dirty laundry and got the first load in the machine. The pantry is bare, so there’s that to do too, but I didn’t want anyone to think I’d abandoned the blog.

The Amaz!ng Meeting – from the web site:

The Amaz!ng Meeting (TAM) is organized by The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). Over the last 15 TAMs, this event has become the leading conference in the world focused on scientific skepticism. Well over 1,000 people from around the world come to TAM each year to share learning, laughs, and the skeptical perspective with their friends and a host of distinguished guest speakers, panelists, workshop presenters, and entertainers.

Around 1,100 people attended this year.

Here are some of my favorite photos from Thursday, which was full of workshops. There are eight, but one person can only attend four  workshops each as two run in the same time slot.

Teaching Skepticism for K-12 with Ani Aharonin, Barbara Drescher. and Daniel Loxton.

Barbara  demonstrating the trick  that is behind Power Balance Bands and other such “balance enhancing” items. See this video about Applied Kinesiology (link) in the

Advancing Skepticism in the Media – panelists: Sharon Hill, Jim Underwood, Richard Saunders, and Dr Karl Kruszelnicki (Dr Karl is basically the Bill Nye of Australia – or you could say Bill Nye is the Dr Karl of the United States!) The guy is awesome, and I got to chat with him a bit on Sunday morning at breakfast.

Rhetoric and Argumentation for the Skeptic with Miranda Celeste Hale, Robert Blaskiewicz, and Eve Siebert

Science-Based Medicine – How to Deal with Believers with Drs Harriet Hall, David Gorski, and Steve Novella.

 

Sunrise over Half Dome

This past weekend, Sweetie and I went to Yosemite to join family and friends to say one last good-bye to Dad. We rose before dawn to drive up to Glacier Point. Just before we got there a bear crossed the road and ambled up into the pines.  The sky was already beginning to lighten when we arrived.

At the lookout, a doe met us as we walked up to the lookout point. She was not shy.

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We called her our escort.

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It was beautiful morning.

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We said our good-byes in the place dad loved so much. Every summer meant a week in Yosemite.

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As the sun began to rise behind Half Dome, the clouds became very apparent and I did what I could to capture them.

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My brother and nephew gazing out on the valley, lost in thought.

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Sunbeams through the mist hanging over Yosemite.

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Before we left, we gathered for a group photo.

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As we made our way back to the parking lot, our escort awaited us.

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She was quite gentle and unafraid and I was able to get quite close to her.

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She walked with us as we headed for the parking lot, and then, she walked off into the woods.

It was a perfect morning in Yosemite.

Bibi and the Bride – selective focus practice

Not crazy about the lighting as I was just bouncing flash off the ceiling and can’t bend Bibi’s neck to have her raise her chin, but lighting wasn’t the point of the exercise. Processed using VSCO 02 (Portra 160 NC).

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