What is Not A Con? We will get to that in a bit. I can tell you upfront that HFFC members made up 1% of the audience on November 3 and 4 at the Sonesta Hotel in White Plains, NY. Yes, Fred Cunningham, his son Michael, and me, attended this conference that was not a conference. Call it a social gathering of fun, cooking competition, musical enjoyment and generational harmony.
In a world filled with divisive opinions and generational gaps, finding common ground can sometimes feel like an impossible feat. But what if I told you that there's was a place where people of all ages can come together to have fun, bond over shared interests, and bridge the boomer vs. zoomer gap? Not A Con might just be the answer!
Not A Con: A Unique Social Experience The central idea was simple: to have fun, socialize, and enjoy the company of like-minded individuals. Whether you're a baby boomer or a member of Gen Z, everyone was welcome at Not A Con. People came from as far away as Australia, several Europeans, and many friendly (aren’t they always) Canadians.
The Cooking Show Another standout features of Not A Con was the Cooking Competition. Three guest speakers were paired with 3 audience members to prepare their favorite sandwich with a side in 30 minutes. There were three judges (2 speakers and 1 audience member who was awesome) that graded the food on taste, originality, and presentation. While the chefs were preparing their dishes and the food aroma filling the room, fun tidbits by the MC and co-MCs made the 30 minutes go very fast. Lastly, and just like on some of the food TV shows, the audience was shown the cooking with overhead shots and close-ups. Just so well done.
Bridging the Generational Gap: Boomers vs. Zoomers It's no secret that generational differences often lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. Not A Con aimed to break down these barriers by encouraging open dialogues and promoting understanding. A trivia type game, complete with buzzers, contestant podiums with electronic scoring and multiple ways to gain points was a big hit. Sorry Boomers, we lost this one. Gen Z (I think) won.
Podcasts and Intellectual Engagement Not A Con also features intellectually stimulating content. The event hosts live podcast recordings, including the renowned "George Hrab Geologic Podcast" and "The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe Podcast." These podcasts provide thought-provoking discussions and engage the audience with topics related to science, skepticism, and critical thinking.
Contortionist and Fred: An Other Notable Guests Not A Con isn't just about the programs; it's also about the people who make it special. Notable guests at the event included a contortionist (our Fred was giving it a whirl), a Halloween builder of spooky people and gravestones, a complete neurological exam and deep breathing exercises. There were several other Skeptics Guide University classes as well. All well done. These experts offered valuable insights and interacted with attendees, ensuring that everyone leaves Not A Con with new knowledge and connections.
In conclusion, Not A Con is a one-of-a-kind social event that promotes inclusivity, fun, and intellectual engagement. It offers something for everyone, whether you're interested in cooking, 80’s music, or thought-provoking podcasts. If they have it again next year count me in, and I hope many of you also.