Can you hear the people sing?

I’m not watching the news today. I’m not avoiding it, but I’m not seeking it out, either. I do want to offer these few photos that I took around ground zero a few years ago. Walking around the memorial four years after the fact really solidified the fact that the world changed that day, for better and worse. I just hope the days of paranoia, increased surveillance and shrinking freedoms are short-lived.

FDNY

Ground Zero Poem

Memories

Deadline: Crossed Genre’s LGBTQ Issue is open until 9/31/09

Crossed Genre is celebrating their one year anniversary by publishing a special double-sized issue, focusing on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer characters. Science Fiction and/or Fantasy must be part of the story, please. The deadline is coming up quickly, though: 9/31/2009.

If you miss that deadline, Scheherazade’s Facade is a Fantasy-specific anthology open from November 1st, 2009 through February 28th, 2009.

I’ve had a story in my head (what I affectionately think of as my “trans” story) for a couple years now. I’m not sure it’s ready to come out in time for either deadline but both of these markets are worth your attention.

Rock the Queer

Outer Alliance

Today is Outer Alliance Pride Day. Wassat, you ask? It’s the day that we, members of the Outer Alliance, announce our support and advocacy for all things Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered.

As a member of the Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work.

Real life, as represented by fiction, should be diverse. We as writers shouldn’t be afraid to tackle sensitive issues. In fact, we should go out of our way to raise awareness of them. We are storytellers of the cutting edge, oracles of the future. We should rush in where religious conservatives fear to tread and show them a future where everyone is equal regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.

When I started writing, I wrote generic characters with no color, no pride, no depth. Bland, bland, bland. I didn’t know any better, because I was learning by example. I’ve learned a lot since then. It’s never too late to change. Writers, write well-rounded characters. Lead by example. Don’t ignore sensitive issues because you’re afraid of alienating readers. Stand up and be heard.

Meme: Which fantasy writer are you?


Your result for Which fantasy writer are you?…

Philip Pullman (b.1946)

3 High-Brow, -5 Violent, 7 Experimental and 13 Cynical!

Congratulations! You are High-Brow, Peaceful, Experimental and Cynical! These concepts are defined below.

Philip Pullman was already a prominent author of children’s books when he published his most praised work to date, the trilogy known as His Dark Materials (1995-2000). In this work, set both in parallel worlds and our own, Pullman made a courageous attempt to write a book for young readers which incorporated a whole vision of the universe, as well as a discussion of ethical issues. He managed to combine this with a burst of thought-provoking and entertaining imagination, bringing to life a Europe where the church is still in control, “souls” that have been externalised as animal presences, intelligent, sentient polar bears and much more. The series have been described as a sort of “anti-Narnia”, as Pullman’s attempt to write an updated variant of the kind of books C S Lewis, whom Pullman has criticized for having racist, misogynic and preaching tendencies, wanted to write. His Dark Materials has also spawned some controversy among Christians, who see the the work as an attack against Christianity, Pullman being one of Britain’s most outspoken atheists. Other Christians have, however, claimed to have found spirituality in the books.

Either way, Pullman’s combination of renewal and expansion of the genre, his profound messages on the value of life and his refusal to under-estimate his young readers’ ability to see life as it is makes Pullman one of the most interesting and important writers of modern fantasy.

You are also a lot like Tove Jansson.

If you want something some action, try Gene Wolfe.

If you’d like a challenge, try your exact opposite, J R R Tolkien.

Your score

This is how to interpret your score: Your attitudes have been measured on four different scales, called 1) High-Brow vs. Low-Brow, 2) Violent vs. Peaceful, 3) Experimental vs. Traditional and 4) Cynical vs. Romantic. Imagine that when you were born, you were in a state of innocence, a tabula rasa who would have scored zero on each scale. Since then, a number of circumstances (including genetical, cultural and environmental factors) have pushed you towards either end of these scales. If you’re at 45 or -45 you would be almost entirely cynical, low-brow or whatever. The closer to zero you are, the less extreme your attitude. However, you should always be more of either (eg more romantic than cynical). Please note that even though High-Brow, Violent, Experimental and Cynical have positive numbers (1 through 45) and their opposites negative numbers (-1 through -45), this doesn’t mean that either quality is better. All attitudes have their positive and negative sides, as explained below.

High-Brow vs Low-Brow

You received 3 points, making you more High-Brow than Low-Brow. Being high-browed in this context refers to being more fascinated with the sort of art that critics and scholars tend to favour, rather than the best-selling kind. At their best, high-brows are cultured, able to appreciate the finer nuances of literature and not content with simplifications. At their worst they are, well, snobs.

Violent vs. Peaceful

You received -5 points, making you more Peaceful than Violent. This scale is a measurement of a) if you are tolerant to violence in fiction and b) whether you see violence as a means that can be used to achieve a good end. If you aren’t, and you don’t, then you are peaceful as defined here. At their best, peaceful people are the ones who encourage dialogue and understanding as a means of solving conflicts. At their worst, they are standing passively by as they or third parties are hurt by less scrupulous individuals.

Experimental vs. Traditional

You received 7 points, making you more Experimental than Traditional. Your position on this scale indicates if you’re more likely to seek out the new and unexpected or if you are more comfortable with the familiar, especially in regards to culture. Note that traditional as defined here does not equal conservative, in the political sense. At their best, experimental people are the ones who show humanity the way forward. At their worst, they provoke for the sake of provocation only.

Cynical vs Romantic

You received 13 points, making you more Cynical than Romantic. Your position on this scale indicates if you are more likely to be wary, suspicious and skeptical to people around you and the world at large, or if you are more likely to believe in grand schemes, happy endings and the basic goodness of humankind. It is by far the most vaguely defined scale, which is why you’ll find the sentence “you are also a lot like x” above. If you feel that your position on this scale is wrong, then you are probably more like author x. At their best, cynical people are able to see through lies and spot crucial flaws in plans and schemes. At their worst, they are overly negative, bringing everybody else down.


Take Which fantasy writer are you?
at HelloQuizzy

Hiring: Sr. Developer

My day job needs to hire more people to help us grow (and give me a few days off). If you know anyone interested, please send them my way. The position reports to me directly so not only do you get to work for a great company you get to work with me. Tell me that’s not a great perk, eh? I’ve posted the description below. What it doesn’t tell you is that you’ll get to work in an exciting and challenging technical environment with hundreds of millions of http requests/day. Get your hands dirty with things like mod_perl and memcached, geolocation, contextual analysis, search trending and fraud filtering. It’s like drinking from the fire hose every day!

Company: Traffic Engine, Inc.
Job Title: Senior Developer
Description: Seasoned developer (Perl, mod_perl, Linux, Apache, PHP) with experience in a high volume web environment. The right applicant must have strong communication skills and be able to think outside of the box. You’ll need to be familiar with the Perl language and mod_perl. Proficiency with Linux in a server environment is a must.

Location: Irvine, CA (Telecommute)
Starting Salary: $60 – 100K+ (Based on Experience)
Position Type: Full Time Only

The position will works remotely from the corporate office (unless lives within 25 miles of Irvine California).   The developer will work in a team environment and contribute to constant upgrades, maintenance and new development of existing and new applications as required.

Responsibilities

•    Develop and maintain Perl modules to be run under Apache2/mod_perl2
•    Develop and maintain Perl scripts for system maintenance and data processing
•    Develop and maintain web applications using PHP, JavaScript, Ajax, and MySQL/PostgreSQL
•    Contribute to the design and development of internal applications, strategies, and methods of improving current and future applications
•    Report and submit status on projects as required
•    Document code and create documentation as required
•    Collaborate with team members efficiently and effectively via telephone, IM, or IRC
•    Provide technical support to internal employees as well as external clients as needed
•    Participate in some marketing functions such as Ad:tech and / or other technical functions.
•    Minimal travel may be required
•    Self motivated and ability to be effective working remotely
•    Other responsibilities as required

Qualifications

•    2-4 years of experience developing web-based applications
•    3+ years fluency in Object Oriented Programming, and PHP5.x implementation
•    3+ years of MySQL and/or PostgreSQL
•    2+ years of Javascript
•    3+ years of Perl
•    2+ years of Linux
•    Ability to write valid and efficient xHTML, DHTML, CSS, SQL, and JavaScript code
•    Experience writing AJAX code
•    Understanding of relational database concepts, including JOIN statements and foreign key constraints
•    Experience using a Version Control System (SVN a plus)

Any of these qualifications a plus
•    Experience implementing third-party APIs
•    Experience developing in MVC environments
•    Knowledge of how paid search campaigns work
•    Knowledge of SEO tactics

About Traffic Engine, Inc:

Traffic Engine’s Search Marketing Technology (SMarT) connects the right people with the right ads, delivering industry-leading exposure and click conversion by utilizing a targeted customer base and more than five years of online ad placement experience to help our publishers realize their full revenue potential.  Recently added is our new AdExchange that enables direct advertisers to bid on traffic in the SMarT Platform to drive quality business to their ads.

Traffic Engine, Inc. offers our employees:

* Technology driven and team oriented environment
* Competitive compensation at all levels
* Company matching retirement program
* Excellent benefits for employee
* Flexible schedules where results are the focus

Interested candidates who meet these qualifications should send a resume and letter of interest via email to careers@trafficengine.net  and include “Senior Developer” in the subject header.  Please also send any examples of work or projects recently implemented

Earth Hour 2009

Look up to the sky on a clear night. What do you see? If you live in or near a big city, chances are your response is “not much”. Even 40 miles from Chicago, I can mostly see major constellations if I squint just right but not much else.

When we visit my dad, three hundred miles deep into the north woods of Wisconsin, the first thing I do after getting out of the truck is look up. The view is breathtaking. The difference between night and day, if you’ll excuse the pun.

It’s become an emotional ritual for me. My heart beats a little faster, my eyes tear up and I feel more alive (or a little less dead) inside. This is the sky I remember as a child, bright and full of wonders, and I’m afraid that the generations after mine are going to loose that sense of wonder because there’s nothing there for them to see.

There’s a story buried in there somewhere (and I’ll be working on it as soon as I finish this weekends edits) but that’s not what this is about. 

I was doing research on the effects of light pollution when I discovered Earth Hour. Simply put, on March 28th, 2009 at 8:30PM local time, people and cities around the world will switch off their lights for one hour. Paris. Los Angeles. Chicago. Atlanta. Dallas. San Francisco. Mexico City. Five hundred cities in seventy-five countries are participating.

 VOTE EARTH

Raising awareness about global warming and climbing change is a good thing. Make a statement. Flip off your lights for an hour, take your kids (or someone elses, with permission) and go stargazing.

RaceFail 09

RaceFail took place in January 2009. Some of it is documented on the feministSF wiki. I watched from the sidelines, sad to see people I like and respect at each others throats. In the aftermath, people have stopped blogging or deleted journals altogether. I imagine much wound-licking is going on and the long-term damage remains to be seen.

The fallout from RaceFail continues and will probably continue to be felt for months, if not longer. Hurt lingers and pain flares.

I’m not even sure what’s being argued about anymore. I didn’t know if I should keep my mouth shut or add to the fervor. In the end, I waited and read through what had already been said. There’s already been too much noise in the signal.

I’m a relative nobody; my words carry no literary weight behind them. Take them for what they are: heartfelt and sincere.

I don’t care if you’re a boy or girl, both or neither. I love you as a person.

I’m not going to treat you different if you’re black, white, yellow, red or green (but I’ll give you a hug if you’re feeling blue).

I care about your experiences, because they define you as a person. I won’t belittle them because I can’t relate to them. Please write about them, so that I can learn from your history.

I’m sorry sexism and racism exist. I wish I could make them go away but I can’t. I can influence those around me and hope that they do the same.

25 Random things about me

I’ve been tagged by several people, so here it is.

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

1. As a kid, I once rode on the private jet of the Chicago White Sox and sat across the isle from my favorite player, Carlton Fisk. I was so nervous I didn’t say a word.

2. The first SF story I ever wrote was fan fic, involving Wesley Crusher and the Kobayashi Maru Sadly, all copies were lost in a tragic yet suspicious transporter accident.

3. I made Margaret Weis laugh at a Gencon in Milwaukee. I noticed a sign at one of the booths, advertising that she would be there that afternoon. I squeed and gestured wildly to my friends. They turned towards the booth and pointed. I looked. There she was, looking at me and grinning.

4. I had a two appendixes, a very rare condition, removed when I was ten.

5. My favorite constellation is Orion. I look for it whenever there’s a clear sky.

6. I’m proficient, or have been, in multiple computer languages. I’ve written code in Basic, QBasic, GW-Basic, C, C++, Visual Basic, Visual C++, Java, Python, Perl, Ruby, PHP, Bash, Dataflex, Pascal, x86 Assembler and Javascript. I am a nerd.

7. I used to be an avid reader, going through 2-3 books a week. I’ve slowed down considerably, reading only short stories and graphic novels in the last year.

8. When I worked as a consultant at NBC headquarters in New York City, I was taken on a tour of the Saturday Night Live set prior to the January 1st, 2000 show. I watched Blink 182 practice on stage.

9. I like Iron Maiden, Johnny Cash, Flogging Molly, Tesla, Nine Inch Nails, and Tori Amos. I’ve seen four of them in concert. Sadly, I didn’t discover Johnny Cash until after he died.

10. I love the musical Les Miserables. I’ve seen it once live, but listen to the soundtrack regularly.

11. I spent many days and nights in the children’s ward at the University of Minnesota hospital as a kid, although I was never a patient, and stayed at the Ronald McDonald House.

12. I love role playing games but infrequently have enough friends nearby to play with. I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons and Rifts. The next best thing is playing Munchkin with Andrea.

13. I used to clip my nails obsessively. Now I only clip when they interfere with writing/typing or if it breaks.

14. I am an autodidact.

15. I enjoy professional wrestling. I know it’s not real. I still enjoy watching it. I view it as a soap opera, with serial story lines.

16. I once wanted to be a professional wrestler. I visited a school in Chicago when I was 18 but couldn’t afford to go.

17. Growing up, I wanted to be an astronaut. Then a lawyer (thank you, Law and Order). I also wanted to be a writer but some harsh criticism from teachers and one angry, bitter writer I met at Gencon really shook my self-confidence. It took more than twenty years for me try my hand at it seriously again.

18. I try, but I am not the most socially gifted person. I’m more likely to sit and listen than I am to participate in a conversation.

19. Reading is an escape for me and served as my only entertainment and supervision when I was young. I write stories because I want give something back and return the favor. So say the voices in my head.

20. I’ve built and rebuilt hundreds of computers over the years and run various flavors of Linux but these days I use a Mac and have little interest in building my own.

21. I enjoy building and painting models and miniatures. I’m working on a Bird of Prey, and have a Battlestar Galactica Mark II Viper, the Delorean from Back to the Future, and a Batmobile to paint. I also have a ton of Warhammer pieces to paint. I am building a Dwarf army to fight zombies, vampires, and skeleton warriors.

22. I love Dwarves. My first attempt at a novel was an epic fantasy with a Dwarf main character. I’m revising a steampunk-ish story with a dwarf-crewed airship and have plans to do a dwarf web comic one day.

23. I want to learn more about astronomy. The only telescope I’ve owned was a $20 model I bought at walmart as a teen. I’m hoping to get more involved after we move to Ontario and get settled.

24. I’ve been working since I was 12. I started mowing lawns and delivering newspapers. I spent summers working maintenance and security at a pool. I worked fast food for 3-4 years. I worked as a cleaner in a food processing plant for one night. I drove a forklift, was a secretary, did building and greenhouse maintenance and worked as a messenger before finally getting a job in tech support. I transitioned from that to being a computer programmer and now work as Chief Technical Officer at an advertising company.

25. My favorite historical figure is Nicola Tesla. I think his role in history has been vastly understated and his accomplishments discredited.

I’d love to learn more about my friends and acquaintances, so if you haven’t already done this, consider yourself tagged.

Toronto

I meant to post about this sooner but life has been hectic.

We drove to Toronto a few weeks ago and celebrated a belated Christmas with Andrea’s family. It was my first time in Toronto (or anywhere north of the Appleyard family farm in the Hamilton area, and that not since the early 80′s).

We stayed in the Don Mills area, near the Fairview Mall. It’s a nice area with easy access to shopping and public transportation. If I were inclined to live in a big city, that would have been a suitable spot to settle down.

The area was blanketed with snow the night we arrived. I’m not exactly sure how much fell but there was at least a foot on the truck when I went out the next morning. Here lies a pitfall of public transportation. Our group of six were walking to the subway stop around the corner. None of the sidewalks were shoveled or salted yet. Andrea’s sister slipped on some uneven pavement and sprained her ankle pretty badly. We had to go back and get the truck to drive her back to the apartment.

Four of us eventually continued, and landed ourselves downtown. We stopped at Fran’s Restaurant for a bit of food before heading to our main objectives: the Hairy Tarantula and the World’s Biggest Bookstore (WBB).

The Hairy Trarantula is without a doubt the best comic book store I’ve been to (no offense Graham Cracker or Darktower, I still love you guys). The Hairy T has an amazing collection of materials, including the complete run of Transmetropolitan and let me tell you, that is hard as hell to find locally. Quimby’s is the only store out of the dozen’s we’ve been to that carried any. The staff were wonderful and even joked around playfully when they learned I was American. We picked up Preacher #3Transmetropolitan #2, Strangers in Paradise #5 and #6, The Walking Dead #3, Animal Man #3, Concrete #2, and X-Factor #5.

Next we swung by the WBB. As advertised, the store was huge and their selection of SF/F anthologies was to die for. More than two full units! There were multiple copies of The Savage Humanists, still my favorite anthology ever (although not unexpected, since it’s from Robert J. Sawyer’s imprint). In the end, we ended up picking up Sideways in Crime, Chicks in Chainmail, Heroes in Training, The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases, Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman, and two issues of on spec.

The snow continued for a few days, so we ended up staying over an extra day or two before heading home. We’re looking forward to visiting Toronoto often after we move to Ontario later this year.