Nerd Nite 29: Summer Shorts Too


Summer Shorts is back! July 16th at Pachamama’s Alton Ballroom. Doors open at 7 pm and presentations start at 8 pm. $1 cover.

There will be short presentations each three minutes in length on a variety of topics including:

Boog Highberger: William Allen White vs. Kansas Populism
Paul Dietz: Chicken Lickin’
Joey Hentzler: The Other Side of the Mountain: Human Rights and Global Citizenship
Bill Bruno: Tin Foil Hat Alert: Electromagnetism and Allergies
Courtney Shipley: The Little Big Religion that You Don’t Know Anything About
Emily Fekete: What can the Power of Reiki do for You?
Libby Martin: The Myth Behind the Math: The Legend of Lucas’ Tower
Josh Morgan: The Attuned: Role Playing in a Post-shift World
Amy Schweppe: The Galaxy Song
Erin Schramm: Megalodon: The Most Terrifying Sharknado
Tabby Gabay: Check Yo Self before you T. Rex Yo Self
Lindsey Givens: The Guinea Worm Hole: An Eradication Story
Charlotte Pemberton: The Annual Cicada: A Sap Sucking Sweetheart
Richard Noggle: Mumblecore: It’s Louder than You Think
Mike Wnek: There’s Nothing Funny about Railroad Ballasts
Larry Brow: Grading Art Students: Rewarding Risk Takers in a Culture of Minimalism

Nerd Nite 28: Free Souls and the State of Film


This month we will be a little later than normal because we are partnering with the Free State Festival and the Lawrence Public Library! Come join us as part of this film/art/music event.

We will hold Nerd Nite 28 on Monday June 23rd at 7 PM at Pachamama’s Alton Ballroom. Presentations to begin at 8 PM.

Presentations (with updates soon!) to include:

Laura Kirk (FSFF, WOLF): “Develop Your Voice and Build Content: Storytelling in the Digital Age”

Laura is a co-founder of the mentoring group “Women of Lawrence Film” and is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Kansas for both theater and film. Laura served as an executive producer and co-star of the film “The Sublime and Beautiful” which premiered at Slamdance in January and is on the festival circuit currently; Free State Festival June 28. Additionally Kirk was featured in the 2009 Sundance premiere of The Only Good Indian starring Wes Studi. Most recently Kirk served as executive producer on Willmott’s feature film Jayhawkers – a story of legendary coach Phog Allen and time when Wilt Chamberlain influenced desegregation of Lawrence, KS. Kirk currently lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her husband and two children.

Vince Meserko (KJHK): “Straight Love, No Chaser: Authenticity and the Soul Music Revival”

In his talk, Vince will discuss the soul music revival, as exemplified in the music of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Chicago’s Numero Group record label. Vince will talk about how these musicians goes about making assertions of their authenticity even though soul music’s heyday has long since passed. His talk will focus on what it means to play “authentic” soul music in the year 2014, and the political and social implications that undergird such arguments about soul, music, culture, and authenticity.

Vince Meserko is a Ph.D candidate and graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas. His research focuses on American popular music, popular culture, and issues of selfhood and authenticity. His work has appeared in the Western Journal of Communication, and he has essays in forthcoming issues of the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media and Studies in American Humor. Vince hosts two radio shows on KJHK 90.7 FM, Hickory Wind from 8-10pm on Monday nights, and The Jookhouse from 6-8pm on Saturdays. He is an above average dancer.

Chance Dibben: “They May Be Used For Evil”: Exploring Film Codes and the Censorship Challenges Posed to Filmmakers

Chance Dibben is a writer, photographer, and comedian. He has written for and The Pitch. He co-hosts the music/comedy podcast “Hot Riffs” and Comedy Freakout at Franks North Star Tavern. He attended The University of Kansas where he studied English and Film.

For more information on the Free State Festival, please visit their website:

lawpubliblogo Free state fest

Nerd Nite 27: Earth, Wind, and Fire

Our next Nerd Nite will be on May 14th at Pachamama’s Alton Ballroom! Presentations will cover the elements from landscaping to storm chasing to metal working. Doors open at 7 pm and presentations start at 8 pm. $1 cover.


Our presenters will be:

Jake Hodson

The design of outdoor space and why it makes a difference in your life

What makes an outdoor space? Is every space a place? These questions will be answered when we look inside the spaces outside the walls of buildings. The spaces in between buildings are often overlooked, as humans we tend to focus on objects (i.e. buildings). This presentation will demonstrate the importance of outdoor spaces. The space “in between” doesn’t just fill the gap; it works as glue to build communities. Learn to see the world through the eyes of a Landscape Architect, so you can do your part to make a world a more beautiful place.

Jake’s love for the land began on his family’s farm in south central Kansas. Using his knowledge of plants he became the horticulturist for the University of Oxford’s Plant Science department. Having returned from England triumphantly with a son and a master of their language, Jake began a new endeavor in landscape architecture. He now runs a land design business in Lawrence and when he is not at the beck and call of wealthy old ladies he studies bicycle infrastructure.

Dr. Jay Antle

Storm Chasing: Not quite like the movie Twister

Dr. Jay Antle will describe his involvement in Storm Chasing and the growing subculture around it’s practice. He’ll share many of the cool images he’s captured through his photography as well as teach some vocabulary useful for parties. He’ll discuss some recent chaser deaths and contributions of chasers to science, better severe weather warnings, and disaster relief efforts.

Dr. Jay Antle was born in Texas where he lived for the first 21 years of his life. He completed his undergraduate education in history and then moved on to Arizona State University for his Master’s degree and then to the University of Kansas in 1992 for his Ph.D. in American Environmental History. While in graduate school, he participated in an exchange program with Johnson County Community College that ultimately led him to secure a professorship there in 2000 that he still holds. His responsibilities at JCCC have grown to include heading up the college’s Sustainability program as the Executive Director of the college’s Sustainability Center. He currently lives in Lawrence and is an avid hiker and storm chaser. He is also a mediocre distance runner with over 17 half-marathons to his credit and he survived last the 2013 Chicago Marathon.

Michael Harry

“Making Shit with Fire: How to Burn Yourself Fifty Times to Make a Doorstop”

Michael will describe the tribulations of designing, building and running a homemade scrap metal foundry. He’ll take a look into everything involved with melting metal in a backyard foundry furnace. Special attention will be paid to burner engineering, furnace specifics, material sourcing, mold making & finally casting.

Michael works as a self-proclaimed guerrilla engineer and for KU’s IR office as a programmer analyst. When building stuff he primarily works with re-purposed and recycled materials to create useful objects from otherwise worthless scrap. At KU, Michael spends his time shuffling databases around under the guise of researching stuff.
Michael has appeared on the (now) defunct Battlebots TV show and has (somewhat) contributed to the Burning Man festival for the better part of a decade. He currently operates a small custom machine & fabrication shop out of his country homestead. His better half, Jess, not only tolerates but encourages these activities. Her motives remain unclear.

Nerd Nite 26: Nerd of the Living Dead

On April 9th come join us for presentations on burial practices, extinction, and parasites. Doors open at Pachamama’s Alton Ballroom at 7 pm and presentations start at 8 pm. $1 cover.


“Extinction is Not Forever—Repeated Evolution is as easy as A-B-C” by Terry Meehan

I study old, dead things, namely, fossil mammals of North America. Piles of old bones do manage to speak loudly, though often it’s the same ol’ song—life is predictable. Sabertooths (which have fangs like this) evolved and went extinct like clockwork every 7.2 million years. The first sabertooths of 50 million years ago were not cats, but primitive mammals called creodonts. These were replaced by nimravids—a cat-like family, but we don’t see true cats (felids) until they replaced another cat-like family, barbourofelids about 7 million years ago. Large scale evolution is a game of replacement—it starts over again and again, often rolling the dice in the same sequence. We had giraffes in North America? Nope, but giraffe-like camels? Yes; this adaptive type evolved, went extinct, and re-evolved. Then rinse & repeat. Hyena-like carnivores same story. Hippo-like herbivores ditto. This is a most striking biological pattern. What’s the driving mechanism? (Will it drive you up a wall? Drive you to the end? I thought only people and penguins could drive…)

Dr TJ Meehan, vertebrate paleontologist, professor at Rockhurst University. Graduated from KU twice—Master’s in Geology & PhD in Biology. Published a few papers on this topic & currently working on a book. Would prefer to be paid to play bridge, ultimate Frisbee, & scuba diving.

“How to be a Great Host: Toxoplasma Gondii and You” by Lindsey Givens

Lindsey is more of a book nerd (she did actually get grounded from reading as a child), but her work in scientific publishing has opened whole new nerdy doors. Her other great passions are travel (she’d like to go to a country for every letter of the alphabet) and bubble baths

“Bring Out Your Dead: the cozy relationship between living and dead in 7000 BCE Çatalhöyük (present-day Turkey)” by Kelly Watt

Nerd Nite 25: The Man, The Myth, The Money


On March 12th join us for Nerd Nite 25: The Man, The Myth, The Money where we will discuss the fictitious life of James Bond’s eating habits, cryptozoology and the mythical beasts that surround us, and the story of the bitcoin and other cryptocurrency.

Doors open at Pachamama’s Alton Ballroom at 7 pm and presentations start at 8 pm. $1 cover.

Presentations to include:

“Live and Let Dine: James Bond as an Effete Gourmet Assassin”
By Tom Weiss

Will the real James Bond please stand up! Is he the martini-swilling, car-crazy,womanizing super spy depicted in the movies, or an effete gourmet assassin as suggested in the novels? The answer may lie in the Bond Matrix, a large data base that contains savory details about the 500 dining experiences that the secret agent had or dreamed of having in the Bond novels. This presentation will be the first release of information from this data base. You may never see James Bond in the same light again.

Tom gave up a possibly lucrative career as a professional golfer and turned down a job in Dayton, OH in order to get a PhD in Economics. He taught at KU for nearly 40 years, where he did the usual path-breaking, seminal work that was expected. Perhaps his greatest innovation was the introduction of Powerpoint in the Presidential addresses of the Economic History Association. His research ran the gamut from economic growth in colonial North America, to industrialization in the slave South, the growth of service industries in the 19th century, and – in preparation for retirement – the economic history of tourism. None of these has anything to do with his work on James Bond’s dining history.

“Snipe Hunt: Cryptozoological Creatures and the Stories They Tell”
By Kent Smith and Matthew Lord

Sasquatch. Chupacabra. Nessie. Do these clandestine beasts exist in the physical world, or only in the recesses off our imagination? Though substantial evidence proves lacking, anecdotal accounts about these elusive creatures is available in droves. The mission of SNIPE HUNT, (Society of the Never-ending Inquest to Prove Existence and Hopefully Uncover Non-typical Terrestrials), is to explore the numerous reports of the many enigmatic creatures around the world and the cryptic phenomena that surround them. SNIPE HUNT founders Matthew Lord and Kent Smith will be sharing their knowledge in the field of Cryptozoology and the challenge of finding mystery in an ever-shrinking world.

Kent Smith is an illustrator, designer and all-around artist extraordinaire. A graduate of the University of Kansas with a BFA in illustration and design, Kent gets to spend his time making pictures—something he celebrates daily. Kent’s artwork is chock-full of humor and personality. Kent loves robots, ninjas, super-heroes, monkeys, ray-guns and romance.

Matthew Lord graduated with a BFA in illustration from the University of Kansas and is an illustrator/designer and fine artist. Matt’s artwork tilts toward the absurd, with a healthy dose of pop culture critique. He strives to tell a well-constructed story with his artwork, using the panel as his delivery device. Matt’s influences are drawn from a youth saturated with comic books and toy commercials.

“Cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin: Such money. Very technology. So future. Wow”
By Caleb Chin

Bitcoin, one of the hottest topics in technology and the financial world, is an innovative digital creation that is as fascinating as it is volatile. Whether you hate it, love it, or don’t know anything about it, more and more people across the world are accepting bitcoins. So what exactly is it? How does it work? Is it just a fad or is it the real deal?

Caleb Chin is an undergraduate senior at KU who was first introduced to Bitcoin in 2012 by a techie friend, back when it was considered nothing more than “gold for nerds”. Caleb follows cryptocurrency news and markets to trade Bitcoin with other currencies, both crypto and non-crypto, dollar or Dogecoin. He is the founder and president of the local Bitcoin Club.

Nerd Nite 24: (What’s so Nerdy about) Sex, Love, and Understanding


Nerd Nite 24 will take place on February 12th, just in time to talk about Valentine’s Day topics. We are also pairing with Read Across Lawrence for our first presentation.

On February 12th at Pachamama’s Alton Ballroom (doors at 7 pm, presentations at 8 pm) the topics will be:

Stephanie Scurto
“The Myth of White Picket Fences: The American dream confronted in Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.”

Bio and description coming soon!

Gina L. Egan, PhD
“No Means No: Shining light on violence against women and how hope and healing persevere.”

One Billion Women on this planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime! That is 1 in 3 women! This statistic is alarming and the fact that it is true is not acceptable. Violence against women is not a “women’s issue”; it is a HUMAN issue. It affects women and men, girls and boys. It is time to end it, but what can we possibly do? V-Day is a global movement dedicated to ending violence against women and girls locally and globally. Gina will explore this issue and show what V-Day is doing in the effort to end this violence.

Gina is a new activist and feminist (still trying to be ok with this label) but has jumped in with both feet in the past year or so. Her passion comes from a newly-nurtured but deep-rooted belief that everything and everyone on this planet is connected and should be valued. It is from this place that she finds incentive to be a new board member of the United Nations Association of Greater Kansas City, a co-chair of the Women’s affinity group of the UNA-GKC, producer of the annual V-Day event and its auxiliary event One Billion Rising at JCCC, co-organizer of the one day conference at JCCC “Local Peacebuilding: Lessons from Uganda,” and speaker on the issue of violence against women and the V-Day movement. And now for something completely different: Gina is an Assistant Professor of Science at Johnson County Community College, and she earned her PhD in chemistry from The Pennsylvania State University in 2001. She also was a forensic chemist for the FBI Laboratory Division in Quantico, VA, but that just feels like a past life now.

Mike Anderson
“Idioms, currencies, and fantasies: An exploration into the tenants of relational satisfaction”

The world is full of popular myths about what makes romantic relationships work. The goal of this presentation is to help seperate fact from fiction in the realm of relational satisfaction. Citing both quantitative and qualitative studies, this presentation will provide the listener with the most up-to date research on how to increase both relational and sexual satisfaction in their romantic relationships. While there is no magic pill or equation to a successful relationship, research has shown several commonalities that seperate the successful relationships from the unsuccessful. With topics ranging from nicknames to sexual fantasies, every listener will go home with several ideas on how to better enhance and maintain their current or future romantic relationships.

Mike Anderson received both his Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in the Communication Studies department. Mike’s emphasis was on sexual communication and taboo topics in romantic relationships. Mike’s dissertation focused on the role of sexual fantasies in the realm of both relational and sexual satisfaction in romantic couples. He obtained 500 sexual fantasies for this project. Mike’s work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, academic books, and peer-reviewed journals. His most recent work on the communication of past sexual experiences in romantic relationships was published in the Journal of Sex Research. At KU Mike taught classes in public speaking, persuasive speaking, problem solving in teams and groups, behavioral research methods, and relational communication. Currently, Mike is the host of the Not So Late Show, a late night talk show on WOW’s Channel 6. The show has received several awards, and in 2012 Mike was named “The Most Interesting Character in Small Town America” by Readers Digest.

Nerd Nite 23: Cracking Cultural Codes

We’re back! A new year brings lots of new knowledge from fellow nerds!

Join us for our first event of 2014 on January 15th at Pachamama’s Alton Ballroom. As always doors open at 7 pm and presentations start at 8 pm.

At NN 23: Cracking Cultural Codes we will explore myths surrounding dieting, video game culture, and solving the Soma puzzle! Our presenters this month are:

Josh Feldman:
“Power-ups and ammo crates, or how I saved the World today: the allure of modern video games and how this fringe cultural phenomenon turned into a titan of the entertainment industry”

To the average person, video games fall somewhere between D&D and Sudoku on the cultural spectrum; at best, they are seen as entertaining diversions, and at worst they are viewed with scorn and fear as the progenitors of violence and moral depravity. The purpose of this talk is to shed some light on how gamers view themselves and their culture, and show non-gamers how video games have changed since Mario, and explore how these changes have made games such a cultural powerhouse.

Josh through he’d basically grown out of video game addiction in college, but as it turns out he was wrong. He now spends his days managing a geology lab at KU and his nights trying to be as productive as he can before succumbing to the siren call of his favorite game.

Kate Lambourne:

“Dieting Myths and Big Fat Lies”

Description and bio coming soon.

John Brewer:
“From Heisenberg to Parker Brothers: Cracking the Soma Treasure Map”

How a seven piece cube ate my life. A puzzle nerd comes out of the closet to reveal 35 years of research into his favorite obsession.

John Brewer has been writing computer manuals, composing music, folding paper, and cooking for his family for the last 38 years. He also loves long-distance walking, teaching himself Italian, and drinking box wine.

End of the Year Survey!

There’s been a lot going on at Nerd Nite this year… Lots of wonderful presentations, Pachamama’s awesome event space, live action performances, and three new co-bosses! We want to keep Nerd Nite great for 2014 so we are asking for your help in filling out this short survey about Nerd Nite. You can find the survey here

Thanks for your help and for a great year!

Nerd Nite 22: Ready to Rumble


For this month’s Nerd Nite on November 13th we will have two presentations about fake fighting and one about the real fight to save the Prairie Chicken. So jump into the ring at the Alton Ballroom at Pachamamas Restaurant and Star Bar!

Doors at 7:00, presentations at 8:00. $1 cover.

Presentations include:

Handlers, Heels, and Ham-and-Eggers: The Supporting Characters of Wrestling Kayfabe
by Peter Lyrene

“Handlers, Heels, & Ham-and-Eggers” is a presentation on the ring-side supporting characters of professional wrestling’s golden age, as well as an exploration of wrestling kayfabe– the portrayal of written rivalries and staged events as absolute truth– and the extreme lengths to which these outlandish figures will go to avoid breaking character… no matter how ridiculous the “character” may be.

Peter Lyrene is a freelance writer and stand-up comic. He hosts Comedy Freakout at Frank’s North Star Tavern, and has contributed to, The Not So Late Show, and KJHK. He was raised by comic books and television.

The Quest to Rescue the King of the Plains: How to Really Save the Prairie Chicken
by Paul Dietz

Paul Dietz is a polynerd energy economist who craves the great outdoors, liberal arts, science, and math. He’s happiest when he experiences all of them simultaneously while engaging in activities like helping to save the prairie chicken. A Lawrencian by choice, Paul doesn’t think social intercourse is a dirty as it sounds and enjoys being a shameless flaneur.

Dagorhir: From Serf to Iron Chancellor
by Elwood Schaad

Dagorhir is a nationally organized full-contact Medieval combat sport, using safely padded weapons to simulate a variety of fighting styles. Elwood has been participating for a year and a half. He is currently Administrator for the Realm of Emberfeld, Lawrence’s regional chapter.

Elwood is a nerd about many things, but professionally he is a nerd about food, having worked in fine dining for over a decade. In his free time he plays any kind of game and enjoys every type of movie.

want to be the (co)boss?

Nerd Nite – Lawrence is on the hunt for a new co-boss.

the co-boss will recruit speakers, help speakers craft their presentations, and organize the monthly events along with others.

you must be
– committed to educating and entertaining the public consistent with the Nerd Nite global mission (
– eager to do the detailed planning work that make the nites work smoothly (sometimes smoothly!) and
– be comfortable presenting in front of crowds of adoring, local nerds

email travis at if you’re interested!