I’ve been obsessing about what I could have done better at this year’s GAC. I was running around frantically all weekend, after being promoted from decent volunteer to organising committee. I really should have worn a belt, my pants always on the verge of falling down because of the weight of the radio…alas, all my belts were at home. But I’m trying to remember all the good things that happened, instead of focusing on the negative. One might even call it emotional maturity…

Anyways, some of the highlights behind the scenes.

  • Walking into the plenary, and seeing it empty at 8:30am on the Friday morning. Couldn’t capture the enormity of the place, or how it was going to be full that night. Had one of those “I can’t believe I’m a part of this” moments of incredulity.
  • Picking up Richard Dawkins in the Hilton lobby, to bring him over to the FSU luncheon, but while waiting, I spotted a familiar beard. PZ Myers! I’ve officially stalked the man at 3 conventions over 2 continents. So I invited him to come along to the lunch, then later realized he had never informed his wife where he was going…I apologized to her later about accidentally kidnapping PZ, and she said she was used to it.
  • Not so much a highlight but it makes a good anecdote. I almost killed Dan Dennett when I walked him over from the FSU luncheon (at the far end of the Exhibition Building) to the media room (at the other end of the Convention Centre). When we got there, he sat down huffing and puffing and pulled out his handkerchief to mop his head. Pretty sure the committee would not have been happy if I accidentally caused one of our speakers to have a heart attack. When I later told my housemate, he suggested we get Segways, as he could easily imagine Dennett on a Segway.
  • Hearing Stella Young perform. I was watching in the dressing room, and it wasn’t weird at all that I was laughing in a room by myself. Also witnessed later – Ben Elton going up to her and telling her that she was fucking awesome, and he loves well-written comedy. From the reaction on Twitter, she was universally loved by the audience.
  • Goofy photos with the MCs. Hadn’t really spoken with Lawrence Leung at that point, but informed him that I was throwing my legs on his lap while Kylie Sturgess was wrapping her arms around me


  • Fiona Patten dubbing a volunteer as “Yelliot” because Kylie and I yell at him a lot.
  • Not being on the Dawkins book signing line.
  • The incredible staff at the MCEC, for all of the last minute changes that had to be made during the dinner
  • Triggering a flurry of photo taking with Sam Harris in the Green Room, and discovering that he is incredibly nice and accommodating. Also glad that no one pointed out to me how much he looks like Ben Stiller until after that.
  • After Eugenie Scott finished her talk, Sam Harris went up to her and got into a discussion about using religious allies (I think, I had so much trouble concentrating that weekend, and they moved off into a corner after they realized they were blocking the tv), and it occurred to me that I was in a room with some very smart people.
  • My favourite philosopher (even though I don’t care all that much for philosophy), Anthony (I call him that, since we’re like BFFs) signed my book with my glitter pen
  • Being interviewed by PZ for the DVD. It probably won’t make it on but it was one of the few times that weekend that I got to talk to someone about my research!
  • This photo. I staked out the Green Room at the end of the Horsepeople panel. (Ayaan Hirsi Ali had  to catch a plane)