Skepchick Network Assemble!!! Chi-Fi 2015

This past weekend in Chicago, Chi-Fi 2015 was held at the historic Palmer House Hilton and the Skepchick Network was privileged to sponsor an entire weekend of skeptical and science based panels that ranged from “Why Skeptics Need Philosophy” to “Star Trek:The Skeptical Paradox” and “Not Just Here For the Cookies: Being a good intersectional ally”. Representatives from all across the Skepchick Universe came together to share our passion for science, social justice and Geek Culture from movies to TV shows to Video games. It was very very very fun.

This was particularly cool for me as this was the first chance we have had for much of the Grounded Parents crew to gather together, exchange hugs and drink adult beverages. Our panel “Evaluating Parenting Information” (note to Melanie… need more exciting panel name) was considered successful despite starting at the unZodly hour of 8:30 AM on Sunday morning before an initial audience of one (thanks Marcus!). It was kind of like one of our irregularly scheduled Google Hangouts, but in 3D! The awesomely badass Jenny Splitter live-tweeted the panel and gathered the tweets into a Storify for posterity. We actually managed to gather a small crowd by the end of our 90 minutes and fielded some excellent questions from the attendees.

The Skepchick Space Lab Party room  was where the real fun happened however. Whilst I’m a huge believer in the concept of the E-migo (E-migo a friend you have never really met and don’t really know but keep up with through various Internet means such as email, instant messaging and Facebook, coined by sportswriter Joe Posnanski,) you cannot underestimate the value of meeting face to face and having too much to drink with really cool people. I was a bit trepidatious at first. Not only were much of the GP crew new to the network, but I myself have had a long hiatus in my conventioneering career. For instance the entire concept of cosplay did not exist the last time I was able to go to a con way back in the 1990’s. But I needn’t have worried. The veteran writers and the veteran con goer’s were equally cool and welcoming. I left Chicago Sunday afternoon with a bushel of new Facebook friends, a camera full of cool snapshots and a renewed interest in fan culture beyond the comfortable cocoon of my beloved D&D group. As Nicole Gugliucci stated over on the mother ship in her excellent “I’m in the Choir. Preach to Me”,

I came away with a few new facts and tips, but mostly, it was a rejuvenation. This weekend was a replenishment of my inspiration and love for communicating science and skepticism. Watching friends, acquaintances, and colleagues talk about the same topics I’ve hear before was by no means a waste of my time, but instead a nice refreshing reminder of why I love to talk about these topics.

I too came home energized and excited to keep contributing to the great collective experiment that Rebecca Watson has been running for the last decade. Big thanks to Rebecca, to Jamie Bernstein for organizing (and for letting me play with her Nikon a little bit, I forgot how heavy those things can be), Melanie Mallon for moderating our panel and being batshit crazy all weekend, Ben Sweatervest Blanchard for being as awesome in person as he is online as well as helping find some deep dish pizza. Thanks to all the panelists, Skepchick writers and allies, for being fun and informative. Thanks for being patient with the n00bs. I can’t wait to do it again… even though I will probably have to because the next big Skepchick event at CONVERGENCE in Bloomington, Minnesota, is July 2-5, which conflicts with my neighborhoods own little event, the Northside Rock and Roll Carnival and Parade (a little bigger than a block party Melanie…;) But maybe a 2016 trip can be arranged. However it hashes out, I’ll treasure this last weekends experience for a long time.

And now for the pictures… Here’s the Flickr page with more fun. I am sooooo out of practice with this kind of shooting so please forgive the awful white balance issues.

We have T-Shirts!!!!
The Grounded Parents Crew, Topher, Cassandra, KavIn, Melanie, Jenny, Emily, and Some Weirdo.


Skepchicks Assemble!!!
The group Cosplay was Marvel’s Agents of Shield and the broader Marvel Cinematic Universe. Melanie was very INTENSE!


Look at our Butts!!!
Topher as Hawkeye and Ryan as vintage Captain America show off their Hawkeye Initiative Pose.


Jenny unlocks the Sample Whiskey achievement.


Kavin SO CAN NOT EVEN!!!!!


Seriosuly... do not drink this.
Jamie Bernstein and her bottle of HITLER!!!!


Jennifer Cross and the top Klingon in Chicago. Jennifer is a BAD ASS Moderator!


Getting the light right for this was tricky.
Ryan Consell of Mad Art Lab and his not very sneaky Gambit costume with light up trick card!


The Hellions loved theirs!
All the Surlyramics!!!!


Nobody Breathe!
An elevator full of Awesome!!!!


Over here guys!
The Quizotron Panel looking at any photographer but me.

Featured Image: Kavin, Amy and Rebecca with the Cup of Speaking!

All Image Credits Blotz Photo Arts.

Edited to fix mistakes caused by caffeine!

Louis Doench

Lou Doench is a 52 year old father of three. Twelve years ago he married the coolest woman in the world and gave up the lucrative career of being a photography student to become a stay at home husband and Dad, or SAHD. An atheist geek, or a geeky atheist if you prefer, Lou likes reading, photography, video gaming, disc golf, baseball and Dr. Who. He has been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 1976. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also an excellent home cook, not that his children would know because they only eat Mac & Cheese. Follow Lou on Twitter @blotzphoto or check out his photography at

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