Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

Nerd Nite

Yesterday afternoon, I received an email titled “an invitation to speak at Nerd Nite Philadelphia.”

Nerd Nite, a relatively recent addition to the Philly bar scene, is a monthly series that brings together folks of an academic ilk for some lecturing and libations.  According to their site, they “strive for a salacious yet deeply academic vibe.”  Their unofficial tagline?  “It’s like the Discovery Channel – with beer!”

I had never heard of the group before, but they had a last minute cancelation due to illness, and a friend suggested my name.

I was honored that my friend would think of me and intrigued by the opportunity.  The only problem?  Nerd Nite was taking place 24 hours later.

After a bit of internal deliberation over whether I’d have enough time to prepare, I wrote back that I’d be happy to participate, and was told that it was a pretty informal event and that I could speak on anything from my research interests to any hobbies I might do in my free time.

Unsure of which direction to take, I emailed one of my colleagues explaining the event and said, “now I just need to decide whether to spend 20 minutes riffing on the history of racial integration in Philly, or the wonders of running around in the woods.  Tough call.”

His response: If they’ll be loaded, go with running around in the woods.

Decision made.

With only a couple hours to prep, I decided to do a brief overview of adventure racing, take the audience through a recent race stage by stage (last summer’s 24-hour Cradle of Liberty in and around Philadelphia), and then recycle the material from my top five reasons to try an adventure race post over on Amanda’s blog.  I put together a slide show of correlating photos, and thought I was good to go.

That is, until I arrived at the event tonight and met the other two presenters – an anthropologist and an historian discussing ancient attitudes toward wine and the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia.

Their presentations were professional, polished, and way academic.  I felt woefully unprepared.

I was last to go, and when I took the mic, I immediately apologized for what they were about to see.  Not the best strategy, perhaps, but at that point, what could I do?

I filled the next twenty minutes with tales of chest-deep creek crossings, single-track mountain biking, alligator-filled swamps, and 48-hour-old McDonald’s hamburgers.  We talked mandatory gear, team dynamics, and training techniques.

Despite my lack of preparedness, people actually seemed interested.  They listened. They laughed.  They asked lots of questions.

At the end, I told the 100+ person crowd, “many an adventure racer has been born over a couple beers at a Philadelphia bar.  You could be next.”

The audience cheered.

I think my colleague was right – the beer definitely worked to my advantage.

Only five days left to enter to win a free team entry to the GOALS spring or fall sprint adventure race here in southeastern Pennsylvania.  Give it a shot! You friends will think you’re the ultimate bad ass.


11 responses to “Nerd Nite

  1. Laurie March 10, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    I so would have gone had I known you’d be talking … friends of ours have been to a Nerd Nites and have tried to talk us into going but we’ve never actually made it.

  2. Julie (A Case of the Runs) March 10, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    “Lecturing and libations” sounds good to me!

  3. Brian March 11, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Man, this sounds fantastic! I love academia and evenings and ideas like these. And hey, your description of your experiences in endurance competitions? Um, how could it not be engaging? (PS I think I used to McDonald’s burgers that old on a regular basis at one point in my life.)

  4. Kari w/ Jogging with Fiction March 11, 2011 at 8:26 am

    That’s awesome! Nerd Nite, I love it.

  5. Mallory March 11, 2011 at 9:02 am

    It sounds like your presentation is just what the group needed!!!

  6. Tim March 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

    This sounds like a lot of fun. You know it was probably good that you went last, everyone was well lubricated by then.

  7. Pingback: Nerd Nite « Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

  8. Anne March 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    You did awesome! I would have loved to hear your talk.

    BTW, thanks for your encouragement 🙂

  9. Emily March 12, 2011 at 6:23 am

    i think you nailed it.

  10. Brie March 13, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    You are amazing! I loved how you wowed the crowd. Wish I had been able to hear your talk.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: