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TAM6 – Day 1

June 27, 2008

Since registration for the event did not open until around noon, I decided to wander over to Caesar’s Palace. Mistake! It was then that I found out that my miles(?) of walking the day before had wreaked some havoc on a variety of motion-related body parts (damage which is just now starting to abate, 8 days later). Caesar’s got a lot bigger since the last time I was there (17 years ago) – apparently they added a whole new tower and a new “wing” to the shopping hallways. I remember thinking how cool it was the first time I saw it. Now it was just “oh, that’s nice.” I guess tastes change.

Around 11:30 I headed towards registration to find that it was already up and running full steam. I checked in and got a surprise – I remember thinking that the Banachek and Mathemagic workshops might be interesting when I registered, but I did not sign up for them because there was additional costs involved. However, I had tickets for each show in my registration packet. Bonus! (Or my subconscious checked off the items during registration – some day I’ll check the bill.)

So at 2:30, I sat down to Banachek’s 2-hour workshop with a couple hundred other folks. This was a very interesting workshop on how to aid your memory using a variety of techniques. During it, we memorized the a “grocery” list of items (by memory: chicken, melon, scrubbing pads, shredded wheat, milk, baked beans, shampoo, tangerine, hamburger meat, car polish, evening newspaper, bread, Earl Gray tea bags, soap, eggs) through word linking. He also talked about a variety of other memorization methods such as acronyms, peg system, and the phonetic alphabet. All in all, very enlightening and worth every dollar (if I actually spent any).

After Banachek, I headed to my room to get ready for the reception, which lasted from 6pm until… I dunno when (I left for another show). At the very nice reception, I finally met up with a facebook friend (who lives about 20 miles from me – had to travel 2000 miles to meet him!) and we wandered around together for a bit. I got to meet up with Phil Plait, PZ Meyers, George Hrab and some of the SGU folks. A women picked a fine time to pass out and immediately had 9 MDs (including a neurologist), 2 nurses and a few EMTs at her side – probably better service than she would have received at a hospital!

Next, at 9pm I headed off to Art Benjamin’s Mathemagic workshop. This was an intriguing show where Dr. Benjamin stunned us all by calculating squares of 2-digit, 3-digit, 4-digit and even (43779^2=1,916,600,841) attendees with calculators (geeks!) could perform. The 4- and 5-digit responses were somewhat slowed, but still dead-on accurate. He explained the trick to doing those as well as creating magic boxes (4×4 grids where the numbers add up the same horizontally, vertically, diagonally and a variety of other ways). I was impressed enough to pick up a copy of his book the next day.

After Mathemagic, I spent an hour or so finally eating dinner and doing some brief socializing in the main bar of the Flamingo before collapsing in bed.

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