Saturday, January 19, 2002


I just finished reading The Black House, by Stephen King and Peter Straub. I've had it for awhile, and it just sat in the little cardboard package from the SFBC after I set it aside one afternoon until I realized there was still something IN there and pulled it out. It's the sequel to The Talisman, a personal fave as far as King goes [I've only read Straub's Ghost Story, which IIRC freaked me out up one side and down the other].

I don't keep up with King anymore, and I'm not sure why, but as far as horror or terror goes, he's pretty much the ONLY author I've read much of at all. No Lovecraft, and precious little Poe. So, I've got Firestarter and The Dead Zone and books from that era, and nothing recent. Anyway, The Talisman is a great book, and The Black House is almost not a sequel. I personally think you need to have read it to get everything out of House, but, one takes place 20 years after the other -- and thus, though the main character is still Jack Sawyer -- he's a different person now, and they're completely different books set in very different venues, with different casts. There's some tie-in with The Gunslinger stories of King's as well, which I haven't read but I do believe I will, now.

So, I would say, if you read Talisman, whether you liked it or not, try The Black House. There are times when it is lyrical and beautiful, and there are sections that kept me up late at night reading, terrified, having to know what was going to happen next, and there's the section that had me in tears -- more than one, honestly.

Give 'em a try.


Now, try not to blow a mental gasket or anything, but I'm also reading Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope. Already read The Warden, the first of Trollope's 'Barchester' novels. I've been on a kick, recently, reading stuff like Agnes Grey, Tess of the d'Ubervilles, Orlando. Stuff like that, what I generically refer to as "Victorian novels", which is probably a misnomer. I got in the habit actually during a particularly hellish software project, and then wound up LOSING MY COPY of Middlemarch at an airport, about 2 chapters in. Anyways. I love 'period' movies, and figured once I'd gotten used to the more verbose writing style, that I'd love 'period' novels, too. I feel like The Black House might be the start of a run of more contemporary work, along with all the SF and Fantasy mags I've been getting subscriptions to [the better to submit stories to, my dear], but reading Austen and the Brontes, Thomas Hardy and Thackeray, and now Trollope, has been just great, and I still have the rest of Trollope's Barchester books, and George Eliot, and much much more ground to cover. Books books books! Gotta love 'em.

Friday, January 18, 2002

Musically Inclined

Spent yesterday afternoon with popstar bud Claudio of Moonlife fame. He played for me the David Bowie cover they did for a tribute album that I guess has been cancelled. Bummer. It was really good, and I dislike covers as a rule. Also got to a hear a song that'll be on the next album....I got to hear stuff in advance, I got to hear stuff in advance, nyah, nyah, nyah!

AAAAAAAANNNNNDDDD, someone sent Claudio a mix that uses their instrumental "Sonata" as the background for sound clips from the Matrix. It's SO COOL. They really go well together.

I think a Matrix music video to Moonlife music would be tres, tres cool. Any vidders out there? 'Course a Moonlife video would be cool no matter what.

I promised paramecia to puff pastries, right?

In the Puff Pastry Department

Cream Puff Shells:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Have the eggs at room temp.

Sift and measure out:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar [if the puffs are to be used with a sweet filling]

Place in a heavy pan:

1 cup water or milk
1/3 cup butter

Bring to a boil, add the flour mixture in one motion and stir quickly with a wooden spoon. Stir faster once the mixture starts to smooth. After a few minutes the paste becoms dry and doesn't cling to the spoon or the pan. DON'T OVERSTIR. Remove pan from heat for a couple minutes. Add 4 or 5 eggs, one at a time, beating until the dough does not seem slippery. The paste is ready when a small amount of the dough stands erect if scooped up. USE AT ONCE.

Use a spoon or pastry bag to form whatever shape is desired on your baking sheet.

Before baking, sprinkle a few drops of water over the pan lightly. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another 25. Do not remove from oven until firm to the touch. Cool away from drafts.

Cut horizontally, removing any damp dough inside, and fill with whatever strikes your fancy: cake fillings, custard, sweet whipped cream, soft cream cheese....

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Job Hunting

I'm looking for work. HighWire decided to go for someone else, and I'm bummed, because I think what they're doing is important and I'd like to be a part of it AND I'm qualified AND it seems like a nice place to work. I'm sure there's another 'and' in there somewhere, but I believe in moving forward, not back. Didn't make it, case closed, on to the next interview.

Wild horses couldn't have kept me away from this IBM spin-off: Delphion. Anyway, I met some of the staff yesterday, and I gotta say, I could definitely put in some major hours at that joint, and enjoy it immensely. I'm hard-wired for multi-tasked problem solving when you get right down to it, and it sure looks like that's the type of person they need. Delphion provides subscription services [among other things] to access intellectual property information from around the globe. I spent a good chunk of last year studying and working on software license management issues, and I think this company represents a good intersection of my interests in copyright, patent, and licensing issues and my experience in those areas and web and database programming.

Tangent: Y'know, I thought it would be hard 'letting go' my stories when I submitted them off to various magazines. Not in an 'oh, that's my baby, kind of way', but in a STOP THINKING ABOUT IT AND MOVE ON TO THE NEXT THING kind of way. Looking back at my track record as a software engineer, web programmer, pick your title, I cannot possibly see why I wondered that. I guess because I've never sent stuff off before, but it's really the same pattern to me: always go on to the next thing. Don't spin your wheels. I write, I document the work itself and the disposition of the work, and then move on.

So, I set up a cute little DB on my Visor to track stories, when and where they were submitted, and what the response was. Otherwise, I'd forget.


Back to job hunting:

No, wait, I'm done. Forget it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Hot Damn!! Published

For anyone who has noticed, I write. I mean, I write all the time. Why, I wrote these very words. How 'bout that? Well, one of my more humorously absurd efforts is surfacing as The Lost Transmissions, now playing at Moonlife Online. The Transmissions are a 4 part series by yours truly, chronicling some of the wilder adventures of the synthpop band, Moonlife. I wrote 'em in August and September of last year, and it suited the delectable trio to make these available now, to kick off your New Year right.

I'm thrilled. Andromeda Weekly [the only music magazine that matters] has already posted their first article about The Lost Transmissions.

The Andromeda Weekly is published whenever the hell I feel like it. Handy, that.

Monday, January 14, 2002

In the interesting-coincidence department:

I've been interviewing for a position at Stanford U's Highwire Press. They're the 'internet imprint' of the library [], which means they publish academic journals online. This kind of work is SO up my ally it's not even funny. I think it's absolutely vital, in general, that scientific knowledge be shared across all disciplines. I'm a generalist. I've chosen to specialize in one or two things, and know 5 million other things well, and be vaguely acquainted with everything else. As a lifestyle, it works for me.

But we live in a world where it is entirely possible for a major advance in one field to not even be a blip on the radar of other disciplines, because of our emphasis, academically, on deep specialization in just one area, even when directly applicable to a problem in a not-obviously-related discipline. Now, I'm not saying that all astrophysicists need to study paleontology in depth, or that all geneticists must become crackerjack programmers. No, no, you hire people like me to be bridges for you, because I happen to be conversationally fluent in all 4 of those languages -- which means you can talk to me and I can talk to a geneticist, and between the 3 of us, sticky problems in 2 fields maybe get solved.

It is imperative that a medium for communication and data sharing like the Internet be used to its greatest capabilities, in order to facilitate flow of information across broad areas. Whether they're academic disciplines or geopolitical regions. By using the Internet to archive, index, and present academic journals, HighWire is contributing to that process. They're not just slapping PDF's up on a website, but re-organizing the presentation of the information in the journals to take advantage of the online format. Making it easier for information to flow. Damn, I like that.

Turns out the director I interviewed with is my friend Kim's soccer coach from high school. Now, this would never happen to me. I grew up in Alaska, and all of, oh, 2 of the people I knew from there are in the Lower 48 [barring family members]. So, it amuses the hell out of me when this happens to someone else.

Sunday, January 13, 2002

Well, after a day or two at it, I feel I have a grasp of XHTML and will remember the closing '/' in my HR tags. I am slowly migrating various pages to meet appropriate standards:

What a pain. is difficult because I have to download and upload, download and upload, download and upload. I'm so used to having total control over websites I'm involved with, from an access perspective, I mean, that having to go through 'normal people' channels is driving me bonkers. Oh, I'm just spoiled. doesn't have that problem, it's just BIG and unwieldy and suffers from a lack of consistency in coding standards. But I have a shell account, thank god. Sigh. different sections adhere to different rules, and I think I've NEVER upgraded the whole thing. So, at the moment, one of the smaller sections [the crafts section,] and my resume are the only things XHTML compliant. Do you care? No. Do I care? Well, yeah, I needed the excuse to study XML, XHTML and CSS. So there, neener-neener.
Turkish Law Recognizes Women, Men as Equals -- from Women's ENews [WOMENSENEWS]

This is thrilling. You know, if anyone wants to recommend a book to read on a survey of civil rights in that region, I'm all ears.

I'm gonna plug WENews for a second here. I met some of the journalists involved when at JAWS in 1999, and there was hope at some point in one or more of The 3rd WWWave cohort getting involved as contributors. This didn't happen, but I've been a subscriber since the WENews started email distribution. Sometimes I'm quite ticked at the things they report, sometimes I'm ticked that things they report aren't getting more national prominence, sometimes, like many things in a busy programmer's life, I just hit 'delete' and ignore it, and sometimes I'm just real damn happy with my subscription.

Women's Enews subscribers may select whether to receive a daily email or a weekly summary. To change the frequency of your mail or to cancel your subscription, send a message to or use our online form:

The National Organization of Men Against Sexism 50,000 monkeys at 50,000 typewriters can't be wrong.

Wil Wheaton [yes, that Wil Wheaton] is funny, insightful, and very human. The very existence of his site pokes holes in the marks left behind by the Hollywood Celebrity Engine, which I think is a good thing. Actors are people, people. Try to accept it.

You favorite actor may not be making the big bucks just because you think he's talented. Oh, no, ActorBoy may be busting his ass just to make it to the final callback, okay? So, yeah, acting is a quote 'art' endquote, but it's also a craft, and worse yet, a business. There are thoroughly talented people out there who don't take a job in a cheesy movie because they need to make a mortgage payment, or feel like winning an award this year, but take a job in a cheesy movie because

  1. maybe it started out as an intelligent interesting script, though one that bore no resemblance to the final product;

  2. they need to work. Anywhere, anytime. Any credit is a good one. They made $700 and are frigging delirious to be on the screen at all, even though it's a bimbette part.

You can't work without a portfolio, and you can't build your portfolio without working. Try to show some perspective, ok?

The Care and Feeding of Your INTJ Mate

Some notes by me on living with an INTJ, or more properly, fighting with an INTJ mate. I am one. An INTJ, I mean. I happen to not be anyone's mate at the moment...[that's not a request for applicants, btw]

I dug this up from an email exchange after mentioning it and related INTJ stuff to Lyn [Medley] last night at dinner.

Some initial remarks here -- if you're not a similar type, keep in mind it'll feel very strange to you, but THAT'S OKAY. The key here is trying to understand your mate's needs and effectively communicate with them.

When you and your INTJ mate fight, you're going to get an earful of rationalization, and I'm going to try to explain why.

Your INTJ has said, internally, by letting you this far into their emotional life, that their feeling(s) of self worth are now strongly connected to you and your opinions. [this in particular is the sign of a desperately insecure introvert, and I say this quite honestly from having been in those shoes. You may be living with someone less insecure, in which case, they'll be able to take criticism much more calmly. But if they're nervous? Duck and cover, my friend, duck and cover.] So, when you begin to criticize your INTJ, their self worth feels very unstable and under attack. It has nothing to do with you qua you, it has to do with being insecure and afraid as a person. Your INTJ will respond this way to any perceived attack by someone who they've let inside - and the level of paranoia, so to speak, is directly related to how close the attacker is to the INTJ, emotionally.

So, when someone like that feels they're under attack, they will immediately counterattack, by any means possible, up to and including absurd-sounding levels of rationalization, in order to stop your 'attack'. It's all about changing the subject from themselves to a more abstract problem, or you, to society, or gender roles, or whatever.

Now, please, BELIEVE me when I say it really has nothing to do with you. It's you as someone your INTJ has allowed close to them.

The thing to do, with an introvert in this situation, is not make them feel under attack. "I" or "You" statements from you that are critical of them ["I feel", "You do"] will feel like direct assaults. Avoid them unless you feel like fighting -- hey, it can be real cathartic, if you're pissed, let it out.

  • avoid "I feel" or "You do" statements unless you want to fight

  • keep the discussion abstract

Neutral, practical ["What", "How", "Where"] statements like, "What shall we do about the childcare arrangements?", followed immediately by a list of options, have a much better chance of resulting in a dispassionate discussion that actually goes somewhere. Because then you're posing a problem for your INTJ to solve. And we are hardwired to solve problems.

Even though they may be unhappy about the underlying source of the problem [say, getting divorced, or which one of you relocates to be near the other], you'll still engage them on the analytical level, whether they wants to be engaged or not.

Dispassion, intellectualism, and abstraction, for an INTJ, are key.
I get the WOC alerts from Women Leaders Online, and there's something that I thought really interesting in the 1/13/00 alert.


If it weren't for the fact that a real little boy is being tortured and condemned to a lifetime of psychological problems, the right wing's actions in the Elian Gonzalez case would be laughable. The same folks who condemned feminists as anti-Fatherhood are doing everything they can to keep Elian from his father's care and custody. And despite all the evidence that Elian's father is a loving and caring parent, the right still claims that they are doing all this "in the best interests of the child."

But can anyone believe that forcing a 6-year-old child to testify in Congress is for the child's benefit? Surely not even Rep. Dan Burton (R- IN), the former insurance salesman who came up with that hair-brained scheme, can think this would help this little boy, who watched his mother, stepfather and others die just a little over a month ago. And when Senator Bob Smith (R- this month, anyway) heard Elian say "Help me," how was Smith so sure that the boy meant "Don't send me to my father," and not "Get me out of this circus atmosphere." This whole debacle doesn't pass the smell test.

But there is a way to make sure this family - and other Cuban and Cuban- American families - can have family unity. And a way to act in the best interest of this child, and all Cuban children.

The U.S. should change its wrong-headed, mean-spirited policy towards Cuba and let the families on both sides of the Straits of Florida freely visit one another. We should stop starving the children of Cuba in a failed attempt to defeat Castro and communism. And we should stop making Elian Gonzalez a hostage to U.S. foreign policy.

There are several things I found interesting about this plea. I'm not interested so much in discussing whether the U.S.'s policy towards Cuba in general and with regard to this kid's predicament is "wrong-headed", but in the fact that the alert is probably stating what someone believes to be the "feminist party line", and some of the strings this particular alert is trying to pull.

First -- from a PR perspective, anytime you can yank out "for the children", you've got God and family values on your side six ways from Sunday. Feminists, typically being women, are supposed to heed the call to protect this kid, right?

Second -- this alert is from an organization, not a person, and is effectively endorsing the idea that the U.S.'s foreign policy is "wrong". Once again, the US is the big bad nasty nation -- I'm not trying to defend or slam U.S. foreign policy, but I am interested in the fact that there is a de facto feminist party line being spouted here with which I, as reader of this alert, as someone who identifies herself as feminist, am expected to agree. Suddenly, my feminist credentials are on the line if I have the 'wrong opinion' on U.S. foreign policy. I don't like that one tiny bit.

© Sidra Vitale, Jan 2000.

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