An Interview with Myself

Bowing to the demands of my own powerful curiosity, I have agreed to give an exclusive interview to myself. My publicist disagrees with my decision, but I believe I have a strong connection with myself and I think I can be trusted to report my answers fairly.

Q: Hello Erica. I’m glad you agreed to this interview. You have been pretty reticent with the press lately. What’s been going on?

A: There have been major changes in my life this year. I haven’t felt it was appropriate or respectful to write about them here.

Things have settled down a bit recently. I’m no longer engaged, and I’m living in rural Ithaca near some friendly horses and sheep.

Q: Wow. Do you want to talk about what happened?

A: No. Thank you.

Q: I hear you are moving to the Bay Area in the next few months?

A: I’ve been looking at the Bay Area and NYC as possible places to relocate. After visiting last week, I decided to move to San Francisco.

San Francisco is one of the geekiest, friendliest places I’ve ever been. The city is beautiful, I’ve got good friends, there are interesting projects, and I’ll be among my fellow dorks.

I’m really looking forward to learning the city, starting a new job, volunteering at 826 Valencia, and being immersed in the calm, weird, sunny West Coast atmosphere. Come visit. Bring chocolate babka.

Q: Where are you going to work?

A: An excellent question. I’ve interviewed at a few places where I would like to work. I will know more by next week. Stay tuned.

Q: Don’t you like Ithaca?

A: I love Ithaca and I adore my job at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which is why I’ve been here for four years.

However, that translates to about 40 years in Internet Time. It’s time for me to start a new project. I might return to Ithaca someday, once I’ve made my fortune. I’d like to live on a big farm with dogs, books, a wood stove, and all my friends.

Q: Ok. That covers the big topics. What else is going on?

A: I’m having the best year of my life. This weekend I swam in a waterfall, watched a turtle lay eggs, drove a sports car really fast, petted dogs, helped a friend find tractor parts, drank local beer, picked flowers, was charged by a deer, and met one of the first US African refugee coordinators who was working in Botswana in 1965.

Q: Well, thanks again for letting me interview you, Erica.

A: I’m welcome. Thank me.

Wardriving: Owego

I’m in a parking lot in Owego, NY (an actual place!) borrowing bandwidth from an anonymous linksys router. Upstate connectivity sucks. There’s a German Shepherd dog asleep in the back seat. Her name is Fiona. I borrowed her for the trip. I just bought this car. One problem solved.

Don’t know if you’ve heard, but a version of Katamari is coming out for the Wii. Hope you aren’t doing anything this summer.

I’m reading Guns Germs and Steel: A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years. It gives an excellent overview of the evolution and intersection of human cultures. I’m not far into it, but it’s pretty captivating so far, like taking an anthropology course from Oliver Sacks.

Miles to go before I sleep. Woof to everyone.

Amish Pony Cart and a Premature Deploy

Today was big and full. I’m tired, so here’s a list for you. Bullet points are less intimidating.

  • I crashed our application today by accidentally deploying to Production rather than my localhost. Oops. But then I fixed it and felt all cool with my mad Linux skillz.
  • I’m staying out at my friend’s farm, and this morning I woke up to giggling girls downstairs, local organic bacon and fresh bread, fresh carrot/ginger juice, friendly German shepherd dogs, showtunes, and the nicest snowy upstate NY vista you could hope for.
  • Within 12 hours, I asked for and got $5000 from my bank for a new car. Frightening.
  • I helped my friend’s daughter watch Sesame Street.
  • I helped my employer research how to sell animal sounds for Second Life folks. Advice welcome.
  • I drove out to Amish country in a veggie oil-burning truck and saw a tractor museum while helping my friends pick up a forklift that they bought on Ebay.
  • We got pulled over for speeding, but were let go because the cop liked the veggie oil truck.
  • I waved at Amish children playing in the street with a Shetland pony cart.
  • I watched the sun set behind as a mile-long V of migrating geese flew overhead.
  • My cow-orkers grilled outside at lunch for the first time. Someone brought venison. Fun was had.
  • The pond outside my work window froze last night, and dozens of geese spent the day sliding on the ice with huge leathery feet.
  • I received a kind text message.
  • I set up my new laptop.
  • I helped make a timeline for an NSDL grant.
  • I patronized a 4-H bake sale and volunteered to do a beekeeping talk.
  • I learned that rolling back to a previous version in Subversion is a pain.
  • I stopped taking pain meds and the Frankensteinian curved laceration on my right shoulder has proven to be no trouble at all.

Goodnight. More adventures tomorrow as I travel to Pennsylvania to pick up a car and my motorcycle learners permit.

Stay tuned.

Upstate fucking glory, books

Spring birds are yelling from snowy trees this morning. It’s spring, despite wind, snow, roaring wood stove, and other evidence to the contrary. I’m taking today off of work. I’ve got nine stitches. I can do whatever I want.

I finished re-reading Microserfs by Douglas Copeland yesterday. This book was important to me at a formulative time. It helped convince me it was cool to be a nerd. It introduced other tech-inclined women to my humanities-girdled world. It drew a model of unashamed geekery, separate and outside of a traditionally-female need for perfection and image. It was pretty liberating.

An excerpt:

Susan is 26 and works in Mac Applications. If Susan were a Jeopardy! contestant, her dream board would be:

* 680X0 assembly language
* Cats
* Early ’80s haircut bands
* “My secret affair with Rob in the Excel Group”
* License plate slogans of America
* Plot lines from The Monkees
* The death of IBM

Susan’s an IBM brat and hates that company with a passion. She credits it with ruining her youth by transferring her family eight times before she graduated from high school – and the punch line is that the company gave her father the boot last year during a wave of restructuring. So nothing too evil can happen to IBM in her eyes.

Susan’s a real coding machine. But her abilities are totally wasted reworking old code for something like the Norwegian Macintosh version of Word 5.8.

Thanks for your kind comments last night during my Dark Night of the Beer. Friendly words were unexpected and wonderful. I often forget that there are people out there. Hello imaginary people. It’s as though my fictional heroes (Elizabeth Bennet! Harriet The Spy! Meg from Wrinkle in Time!) suddenly started interacting.

Off to haul wood one-armed and scour Craigslist for cars. What would your Dream Jeopardy! categories be?

Michigan Alumni Nostalgia

I’m alone in the University of Michigan Science Library, enjoying free wireless (thanks to my alumni account) and a wealth of power outlets. I’m sitting in a window-alcove that overlooks campus, level with the green copper towers of West Hall.

During school, I came here to watch the University’s resident Peregrine Falcon as he perched on the tile roof and disemboweled pigeons.

It’s snowing in Ann Arbor, and I’ve got a big cup of mint tea. Below, a stream of overdressed undergraduates walks to class, wearing Uggs and fashionable backpacks. westhallsnow.jpg
photo credit: kwei

There are things I want to accomplish, but the luxury of a full day stretches ahead. Snow drops past the windows that surround my table. My favorite professor has her office hours this afternoon. I’d like to tell her that her two geeky research assistants are getting married.

I enjoy Ithaca, but it’s good to be in a place that feels more like home, if only because of the frequent sleepless nights I spent here churning out papers and code. I might run errands today and call old friends. I might just put my head down and sleep on this table.

I wish you all a peaceful snowy morning, full of potential.

ps. SI alums: The door scanner on the DIAD is still pissing people off after all these years. Good to know some things don’t change.

Typical Ithaca Bike ride

I just took a ride around Cornell’s Bebe Lake, a mile-long loop where the Loch Ness Monster is said to be submerged, having being used as a prop in a silent film back in Ithaca’s glory days. I took the bread-ends that we’d saved in the freezer all winter, hoping to feed the ducks, but they were ungrateful today and paddled off.

We saw an Amazon rainforest-caliber slug on the way back. It was as long as my hand, and had tiger stripes and two sets of antennae. Also, a horse chewed on my bike handle. We biked up to the horse barns, and the foals were friendly and curious.

This afternoon there were cardinals, goldfinch, titmice, doves, junkos, hairy woodpeckers, flycatchers, robins, chickadees, and a Northern Flicker hopping around our bird feeder. Hummingbirds zoomed around the garden, and two male deer with a full set of horns trotted down the road in front of our window.

I live in a Disney movie.