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by Allen J. Sheinman | March 16, 2016

It's time once again to check in on the wide-ranging world of relatively esoteric associations. For any of these groups, wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall at the opening-night mixer?

International Association for Bear Research and Management. With more than 550 members from more than 50 countries, this is the organization for folks who like their bear lore on the scholarly side. For example, last summer's issue of the group's newsletter, International Bear News, featured articles such as "Context-Sensitive Vocalization Among Brown Bears."

The International Association for Assyriology. This Netherlands-based group is devoted to the study of cuneiform, one of the earliest forms of writing in human history. It's a type of script comprising wedge-like shapes impressed into clay by a reed, and was used in the Ancient Near East by Akkadians, Hittites, Ugaritics and other ancient peoples who, when you think about it, invented the tablet.

The National Association of Self-Esteem. As Oscar Wilde said, "To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance." Members of this organization pride themselves on… well, they just pride themselves. Actually, this is no group of narcissists, but rather professionals devoted to promoting self-esteem within families, schools, the workplace and government. We think the latter could use a healthy dose of self-deprecation, but that's another story.

Iron Butt Association. No, this is not a society that celebrates hardcore twerking, but rather long-distance motorcycle riding. The association organizes formal and informal long-distance group rides (like the 1,500-mile BunBurner, done in 24- or 36-hour runs), the annual Iron Butt Rally and more. We wouldn't be surprised if many members were also affiliated with the Pillow Association.

Association for the Preservation of the Coelacanth. To quote the organization: "The coelacanth (pronounced SEE-la-kanth) is the lone survivor of an ancient line of lobe fin fishes thought to have been extinct for 60 to 70 million years. Their rediscovery, in 1938, caused great excitement…" as well you can imagine. This species, which somehow clings to modern life in the waters along the Comoros Islands off the southeast coast of Africa, wears a perpetual sharp-toothed snarl and has unique features such as a fat-filled air bladder and an "intercranial joint," or a hinge in the head. The website features close-up photos suitable for framing — and nightmares.

The International Dark-Sky Association. The IDSA works "to protect the night skies for present and future generations," and by that they mean conserving and designating natural areas where low (or no) light pollution allows for observation of the constellations, planets and sundry orbiting flotsam in all their glory. The group often meets directly under the Big Dipper.

The Association for Dressings & Sauces. Offering news bulletins such as "It looks like Ranch dressing is here to stay," the ADS has been strutting its saucy self for 90 years, and its website has recipes galore and research findings such as "Millennials love mayonnaise almost twice as much as their parents!" But don't bother attending the group's 2016 Technical Meeting in May in Savannah, Ga., if you can't cut the mustard.

Association of Professional Piercers. APP members are punctual, not especially hard to pin down, and refreshingly to the point. They like to insert themselves into an argument, bolt down their food and have an infectious sense of humor. Their headquarters is closed for Dennis Rodman's birthday.

Sources: Buzzfeed; Strange Carrots; Meetings & Conventions