Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Midsommar, 43 Things

24 June 2005

The flowers at the top of my blog were from last year’s Midsommar festival. We’re going to <a http:=”“>Midsommar</a> again in the morning. Yay.

I finally signed up with 43 Things the other day. Link to my items are on the sidebar.

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24 June 2005

One of my friends, Erin (the best unpublished writer I know, for what it’s worth, and I’ve read a lot) is an amazingly voluminous writer. She pointed me to a blurb about hypergraphia.

I have difficulty being quite that voluminous, though I did successfully complete NaNoWriMo one year. However, I completed it by using music to drown out that little editor voice that nags me, so my prose was pretty awful. Then again, I wasn’t in a hypergraphia phase — I was trying to artificially induce one. Fortunately, I enjoy editing more than I enjoy the actual process of writing, so it’s all good.

And, while I don’t suffer from chronic hypergraphia, I do occasionally go through spurts of it both as an author and as a software engineer, where my productivity is way above average, and I can’t wait to get back to work.

Speaking of work, I must be off.

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Hang Your Bird Feeder High

23 June 2005

From my father comes this sage advice: always hang your bird feeder high.

![Bear with Bird Feeder](/wp-content/extra_content/images/BirdfeederHigh.jpg)

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A Point of Clarification

23 June 2005

I received a slightly snarky but well-intentioned email about my last blog entry. To clarify, the vast majority of men in the Linux community are fine. As I’ve pointed out before, men are overwhelmingly the early adopters in technology. Therefore, I don’t find it any great surprise that there’s only 4 female Debian developers out of 1503, especially since being a Debian developer is all about packaging the early adoption of technology for other early adopters.

Most frequently, women feel excluded due to thoughtlessness (such as the example I cited about BayLinuxChix). Much more rarely, it’s deliberate (as in the example of a former boss). Granted, that one incident could easily have been a prank; it was not, however, isolated.

Most of the teams I’ve worked on have been predominantly male. The most so was the 38-person Product Portfolio group at Northern Telecom, where I was the only female software engineer. Nevertheless, there weren’t issues relating to my being female — at least none that I ever knew about.

My reduced participation in the Linux community stems from a change of focus in my own life; it’s certainly not related to anyone’s behavior.

The catch is: a lot of people dismissed the dude posting to the Debian list as a troll. Regardless of the poster’s intent, that sort of behavior does make (some) women feel unwelcome — even when they’re not.

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Sexism and the Linux Community

22 June 2005

Anarchogeek makes some good points about sexism in the Linux community. Well, I’ve occasionally written about sexism in the Linux community since starting with Linux in 1998. Elise Shapiro and I co-founded BayLinuxChix, which worked pretty well as a group until the CoffeeNet went away. 🙁

Even then, one of the weird things about those meetings was the guys (many of whom wouldn’t otherwise bother with Linux events) who would show up for meetings and step all over the conversation, not letting the women speak. Hello!

Unfortunately, I’ve seen some stuff — especially since moving to Northern California — that has just really grated. Like the boss who used to stand behind women when they were on the phone and plug and unplug the phone to ridicule the poor gal. He and his cronies had developed a high-tech sounding set of buzzwords that would masquerade the fact that they were in fact describing women’s body parts — talking about them right in front of them. I only wish I were kidding. The only reason I happen to know that is that a male coworker happened to be “let in” on the little secret at some point.

Way back in 1975, when I was first interviewing for a programming position, I was then explicitly offered a lesser position specifically because I was female. I was horrified enough that I didn’t accept it. Fortunately, the company is no longer in business. Also fortunately, I’ve worked for more enlightened companies since.

But not always for more enlightened individuals, alas. Almost always, though.

Okay, I’m gonna stop or this is going to be about twenty pages… except to add this one point: I was raised by my father, so in general I’m more “guy-like” in some of my communication patterns. I don’t often notice much of this stuff unless it’s blatant.

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Typography humor

22 June 2005

One of my favorite all-time “corporate answers” from the way-back machine.

Subject:   Medu Neter
From:       Anne Ogborn
Sent on:    Thursday, July 18, 1996 23:35:38

And one last question, I understand that Apple can handle scripts that go left to right or right to left. The Tameran Medu Neter traditionally follow a general flow of the main passage going from the center outward at the top of the page (left to right and right to left), with supporting passages usually being arranged in verticle columns. Also, the arrangement of the characters within a single word is involves changes in all four directions (left to right, right to left, down to up, and up to down) as well as leaps to the end of the word and a return to the previous location (all characters that are also deity names are placed in a position of honor at the end of a word as a sign of respect, regardless of where that corresponding sound falls in the word). Does Apple support languages that act in this manner?

It is true that Mac API’s support both right to left and vertical text.

Apple does not currently sell a script system for Medu Neter, and I know of no plans to create one. Under Quickdraw GX it should be possible to create such a script system, however the mixed direction page layout would require it’s own specialized page layout code above the API level. It would be a nontrivial task to implement such a system.

If you should decide to implement such a system you should place it in the smKlingon space, as we do not currently reserve a space in the script numbering system for Medu Neter. Obviously this will cause problems for Macintosh users who wish to compose mixed Klingon/Medu Neter documents, but hopefully this will be rare.

Engineering Support Engineer
World Ready Software Group
Apple Computer

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20 June 2005

Today, I could NOT sit still at work. Had a great day, work zipped by. I think a lot of it is being happy about having finally seen to The Dreaded Site Migration, despite some of the issues with rewrite tools.

I’ve discovered a lot of web archivers coming and asking for content I haven’t had up in a while. Since I do have backups of everything, I’m thinking of putting much of it up (except that which is hopelessly outdated) with a redirect to be nice to those archiving the Web of the Past. The largest request has been for my fairly-recent stylesheet, which disappeared when I moved my blog to the top of my site. Returning my current stylesheet wouldn’t be the right answer; I may put up my old stylesheet so the archived content renders properly, though.

Sorry, though, my list of Vermont yarn stores from 1995-1997 is going to remain in the dustbin.

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Seton Hill

19 June 2005

This is a mini survival guide for the MA in Writing Popular Fiction at
Seton Hill. Updated December
2002 to reflect changes in the process.


During your time in Seton Hill’s program, you’ll have five residencies.
The first four start off new semesters; the last finishes your

Each residency consists of some lectures specific to where you are in the program plus:

  1. Writers’ workshops — an instructor-led small group.
  2. Modules — classes you attend. Each residency has 4 modules. There
    are five residencies and eight “core” (aka required) modules. Of the remaining twelve modules, you need to complete several in your genre; the rest are electives. While initially people were teaching
    modules, this was changed: now graduates give an hour-long lecture
    during a critique workshop time.
  3. Guest speaker — a famous writer in residence.
  4. Faculty Meetings
    — where you work with your advisor formulating a study plan for the
    semester. Prior guest speakers included Octavia Butler, Christopher Curtis, and Donald Maass.

Core modules are offered once each year apparently. The list includes:

Showing, Telling and Style Lecture and brief
workshop on the necessity of concrete detail. Survey of examples from
various written sources and student workshop on writing with more
impact, avoiding having to “tell” of action and making the
reader “see” it instead: the difference between “he
stood up with a sense of great excitement” and “he exploded
from the chair.
Characterization and Dialogue Since
character is at the heart of all fiction, including popular fiction,
writers must improve their characterization skills, creating original
characters who still fit within the realm of popular fiction. The role
dialogue plays in character development will be covered too, via
lecture, literary examples, and in class writing exercises.
Novel Structuring and Synopsis Writing
Recommended for first-semester students, who will need to have a
synopsis by the beginning of their second term.
Conflict and Plot Without conflict there can
be no fiction. Conflict is the generating engine of the plot. How have
successful writers of the past and present used it? How can it be
developed and polished to a fine art? Discussion and in-class writing
will focus on this fundamental principle of fiction.
Point of View An examination, in both theory
and practice, of why an author prefers first or third person narrators
in certain settings or with particular characters. The class will
discuss why and how authors achieve special atmosphere by using an
unusual point of view. Students will experiment in class with changing
point of view and the choice of narrator.
Using Personal Experience/Setting Where does
your story take place, and how can you bring it to life? Whether your
setting is a street in your hometown or an alien planet, the key to
vivid setting is personal, sensory experience. Students will learn to
pay closer attention to their own experience and their senses in this
experiential workshop on creating vivid settings.
Research for Writing A survey of the most relevant and important texts and sources for the details of background that come up in writing. How to use libraries, the Internet, how to interview authorities, how to research “on location,” how to keep up-to-date — and how to keep track of all
this data.
The Business of Writing Knowing your market, knowing the editors, knowing which publishers want what. Query letters, cover letters, rejection notices. Preparing, packaging, and sending the manuscript. Legal considerations, agents (are they necessary?) and how to get them, handling rejection, what to do when you’re accepted, keeping track of your rights, the IRS. The nitty-gritty of what
occurs after you’ve finished the manuscript and want to submit it.

The Fifth Residency

The fifth residency has some special quirks worthy of mention:

  1. You must produce a “thesis” and present it as your defense.
    Your thesis consists of one or more book-length manuscripts (depending
    on your genre — the requirements for children’s writers differ). The
    defense consists of an hour-long presentation to students, faculty and
    select onlookers (loved ones, etc.).
  2. Because your novel needs a second reader, it is due one month earlier so that there’s sufficient time for critique and revision.
  3. You must teach during your final residency. Fortunately,
    this is only an hour-long lesson. You and your advisor should work on ideas; naturally, you’ll have the ability to watch other people’s presentations.

At Home

After you get home, the bulk your semester’s work begins. The
following are notes from fellow student Ron:

As first-term students, we will be required to send in two manuscripts.
After that, we will only need to submit one per term. In the final
residency, we have the option to submit or not. Once the first –
fourth residencies are over, and we return home, we can do the rest of
the course work on-line.
This work consists of doing a book journal, submitting a certain number
of pages to our mentors and critique partners each month, critiquing
our partners’ works while they and our mentors critique ours, visiting
the threaded discussion board, and participating in the monthly on-line
chat room discussions.
Now a little about each requirement. We will be assigned a mentor
sometime during the residency. The two of you will sit down and decide
on a term contract–things that you will need to complete before the
end of the term in order to pass. This includes reading and writing.
You will probably get a reading list from your mentor. This list will
contain a selection of books dealing with the craft of writing (called
“how-to” books at SHC), as well as a number of books from your chosen
genre. You decide the books that you want to read, and then keep a
journal of them.
In the journal, you talk about what you liked about the book, what you
didn’t like, things you learned, how you might apply what you learned,
or not, to your own writing, and so on. The journal gets submitted to
your mentor before the end of the term.
You will also be assigned to a critique group at the beginning of the
term. This is a group of two or three other students with whom you will
correspond during the term. You will share your manuscript writings
with them, and they will share theirs with you. You look at each
others’ work and offer comments and advice about the writings. The
manuscript pages that you send to your critique partners also get sent
to your mentor for critique. A word of warning–save the critiques of
your partner’s work. These critiques need to be sent to your mentor by
the end of the term to show that you have been providing feedback to
your partners.
Students are required to visit the page and provide regular postings on
the message board (on the website). Every month the college has a
one-hour on-line chat. Students are required to attend the chats. There
is a room for each genre, and one for just general discussion. The
college says that you have about 20-30 hours of work each week. This
time consists of reading, writing your drafts, and corresponding with
students and faculty.
If you don’t understand something, ask. Ask your mentor, the faculty,
other students, anybody, but ask. Everyone is very helpful and willing
to share any information that they may have. Your thesis is your
By the end of the fourth term, you are to have a publishable manuscript
completed. It doesn’t have to be published, as going through the
submission process could take some time, but it does have to be in
publishable form. That is, all the revisions need to be done, and it
has to be in the proper format, ready to be sent out.

Getting There

The nearest major airport is Pittsburgh (PIT), though there are shuttle
flights to Latrobe (LBE). The formal name for Latrobe’s airport is
“Arnold Palmer Regional Airport” and the airport’s web page can be
found here. You may get a
better fare booking through to Latrobe; you can also book the
connecting flight separately. US Air
is the only commercial carrier currently flying there.

From either airport, you can use a shuttle service to get to the school
or you can rent a car. Pittsburgh offers cars from most major services;
Latrobe offers Hertz, Budget and National.

Special note that, if you fly into Latrobe, you should not book the
early morning flight out unless you rent a car. Yellow Cab of
Greensburg opens at 7 a.m., too late to guarantee arrival at the
airport on time. also, they charge $20 from Greensburg to the LBE,
where Majesty (the van service) charges $36 to Pittsburgh. Ya might as
well go to Pittsburgh unless you have a compelling reason to fly out of

Staying There

Unless you’d like to freeze to death, you’ll have to stay somewhere. At
times, the campus may be available, but for the January residency, the
school has selected St. Joseph’s Center. However, you’re free to stay
elsewhere and a listing of nearby motels and hotels is provided.

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