It’s been busy around here . . .

. . . and I have a backlog of ideas for posts. For some of them, I need to find the items to photograph, and I haven't had time to organize the office (or the rest of the house) for the next phase of research and work.

Here are some of the reasons why. . . .

Starting up my freelance business again

During the final phases of preparation for publication of The Book (now being referred to on Ravelry as FFSB, for The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook), I had to turn down almost all other freelance work. Getting that part of my life started again has meant re-thinking the way I go about it, and getting more closely focused on the clients and projects where I have the most to offer.

The result of all this has been two new pieces of written material:

  1. An introduction to editorial work in general, and to working with me in particular (should be helpful for anyone who's thinking about consulting an editor)
  2. A questionnaire for potential editing clients, which has the intention of setting up a solid foundation for figuring out whether this writer, this editor, and this project are all simpatico (again, should be of value for folks working with me or with others)

Right now, those links lead to a public section of my Dropbox account. Soon I hope to have them on my personal website (see the next section of this post, about the thesis, for why they're not there yet). Although I've tested the documents thoroughly, I still consider them works-in-progress and welcome feedback.

In addition to the thinking and writing and information design involved in producing these pieces, I needed to learn how to make a fillable PDF. Then I upped the ante, because I wanted a form that could be used on both PCs and Macs (plus Linux, but the Linux folks can manage just about anything on their own). I also wanted the PDF to allow the user to print, to save a partially filled-out form, and to send the results to me, as needed.

Getting those functions into a PDF is not as straightforward as I thought it should be. Each involves a separate set of solutions. Having discovered this, I now understand why some PDFs that I've run into have not let me save my responses or print, as well as why the "print" and "submit" functions didn't work on my Mac, while the "clear form" command, with what appeared to be identical types of coding, did. Lynda.com got me through all of these problems except for the Mac issues, which I just needed to bash around and puzzle out. Several friends tested my drafts on other systems; I'm grateful.

There's never a dull moment in the world of technology. I'm also learning new software: DevonThink, MarsEdit, and I forget what else. My most recent completed post came from a digression on this topic. Several started-but-not-published posts keep getting shoved back due to my long list of tasks, chores, and responsibilities. And a few pleasant milestones that have been too important to miss.

My daughter's thesis defense

My daughter, who is my webmistress (her choice of title), is well on her way to having earned a master's degree. Just under two weeks ago, she defended her thesis.

110621 0088 Bekah AFTER THESIS more paperwork DSC 0088

There was lots of paperwork involved, framing and documenting a discussion with the three faculty members of her committee.

Two of the profs came from her program, the rhetoric and composition section of the English department, which encouraged her in looking at computer-game culture from the perspective of literacy and communication. Her outside reader is in the sociology department. She dug into her topic from multiple angles, including visual rhetoric (a comparatively undeveloped field), theory of composition, sociological theory, and autoethnography.

Her biggest challenge throughout the thesis process has been defining a topic that was small enough to be contained in about 25,000 to 30,000 words. The final subject: rhetoric of gender in Mass Effect 2. (She did rationalize including brief coverage of a number of other games, to make certain points or establish the position of Mass Effect 2 within the universe of computer games and within her broad area of study. Some of the thoughts that didn't fit into the thesis were diverted into presentations she made at three national conferences this spring, and even more went into major projects for classes she was taking.)

Many of the committee members' questions were prefaced by words of this general sort: "Now, this angle would only really be relevant if you were doing a dissertation rather than a thesis, but let's talk about it anyway." One of the most interesting questions, toward the end, was: "What if there were no such thing as gender?" Everyone laughed, in part because the query wondered about the existence of such a basic idea and in part because it also elicited even deeper examination of the issues. Then we listened as my daughter considered, out loud, what that would mean.

I wish I had the whole event on tape, because I would like to listen to what she said again. In the not-too-distant future, she'll need to talk (or write) about the new ideas that arose, in addition to writing for other sets of audiences about what she put together for her thesis. The committee estimated that she has three distinct publishable academic papers within its pages. In addition, she intends to connect in the future with game designers, producers, and players. (Because of research constraints, she has not so far been able to engage in discussions within the gaming community.)

Here's the support team, minus the one who was behind the camera:

110621 0092 Bekah s cheerleaders Ted Deb Kris Arametee Kyle DSC 0092

We were a motley crew, but a friendly one. (Knitting: swatch. Yarn: Swaledale wool, chunky.)

After the conversation, we observers waited in the hallway while the committee discussed whether my daughter had passed the thesis requirement.

110621 0085 Kyle Deb Bekah Aramati waiting AFTER thesis DSC 0085

Yes—with distinction!

110621 0091 Deb signs Fibers  amp Fleece for Sarah DSC 0091  Version 2

Much more paperwork followed. As it turned out, even I received a request to sign something. It wasn't an official form. The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook shows up in unexpected places.

We adjourned to a nearby coffee shop for chai and a celebration, plus all the questions and comments that the observers, who did not participate in the official proceedings, had jotted down while listening.

110621 0099 Brilliant Discussion at Momo Lolo Kyle and Bekah DSC 0099

The rest of the degree process involves getting correctly signed papers to the appropriate offices in quick order, along with formatting and digitally submitting the thesis. My daughter is making a few changes for her own satisfaction, but none were required by her committee. They encouraged her to go on for a Ph.D. There are lots of hurdles between here and that possibility. An early question is where. It was hard enough finding a program that would let her do the work she wants to do at the master's level! The program she has been in doesn't have a doctoral-level component.

In the long (or short) run, she wants to consult to the game-development industry on how to significantly increase their market, and improve their game-play experiences, by not actively alienating huge potential market sectors, as they currently do. It's not clear to her that a Ph.D. would help her do that, although it might.

Simple cleaning and organizing

Following the publication of The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, I am woefully behind on housework and clutter-abatement. It's been hard to manage The Project within the available space, which means that while the files related to that one part of my life have stayed excruciatingly well sorted and filed, everything else has fallen into disarray. There's been no time. A project of that scope and size, undertaken within the relatively short time-frame of four years, requires the development of an obsessive approach that narrows the focus to a single, complex goal. Almost everything else goes into a mental cabinet labeled "after deadline."

"After deadline," what would really be appealing is a vacation, although sometimes that isn't an option. (But see the next two items.)

Over the weekend, I've been working on labeling fabric swatches for teaching, and rearranging some books, and making piles of accumulated stuff to go to the next charity pickup. (I can't do too much of this, much as I'd love to take a month just to clean and clear things out, because I do have more deadlines to keep track of.) I'd like to reclaim the living room, kitchen, office, and bedroom in the foreseeable future. I've made some progress in the living room and kitchen, but there's a way to go yet. The office and bedroom are getting worse, I hope temporarily, as the central areas get better.

Border collie rescue "reunion"

We took Ceilidh to her first "reunion" with a bunch of dogs adopted through Western Border Collie Rescue. If all the eligible dogs had come, there would have been more than seven hundred. As it was, there were only, oh, sixty or seventy. Or maybe a hundred and twenty. I can't count things that move that fast.

Lots of different activity areas.

We talked to some folks about treibball, a sport that is mentally challenging but low-impact. Ceilidh, at two, already has signs of some arthritis, so we're looking for high-brain-power, low-joint-strain things for her to learn. Ceilidh was a little distracted by all the other things in the vicinity.

IMG 6140

So we decided to introduce ball-herding later and went to play around in the tennis-ball-and-frisbee area. Throwing balls for a field full of Border collies is a kick.

IMG 6144

Siblings get to attend the gathering, so Tussah tagged along.

IMG 6147

We met some dogs who were up for adoption at the same time as Ceilidh and were delighted to learn that they'd found their "right" homes, just as Ceilidh found hers. What a treat.

Vacation

Here's my almost-daily vacation.

IMG 6169

Most days, I mess around with it for ten to twenty minutes, usually just noodling with Uncle Rod's Ukulele Boot Camp. I have no purpose for playing the ukulele, other than not working for a short while.

Saturday morning, I spent about an hour and a half at the inaugural meeting of a local ukulele group. Interesting folks, from "never did music before" to several types of professional musicians with a remarkable lack of pretentiousness.

And

. . . that's about a third of what's going on around here.

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12 Responses

  1. Lynn

    Congratulations to your daughter! Now tell me you never sleep; obviously, you get about half again as much done as most people, which must mean you’ve given up on sleep.

  2. tychoish

    she should talk to Eric Nyland who is a technical (and science fiction) writer for Microsoft’s game division. His wife (Syne Mitchell) is also a science fiction writer and is also a weaver and has blogged/podcasted on the subject…

  3. Deborah Fillmer

    Congratulations to your daughter! As a 45 year old female and part of the MMORPG gaming community I applaud anyone who studies the phenomenon. It is an interesting topic to say the least!

  4. Deb Robson

    Interesting thought, Tycho. I've met Syne; she's a brilliant weaver and writer. Will follow up.

    Lynn, sleep is a treasure. I have not in the least given up on it (although I'd be happy to get about an hour more each night . . . I wake up with too many thoughts to go back).

    Deb, I'm also editing a few books {wry grin}.

    Now, where did I leave that ukulele? I missed playing it yesterday. But the kitchen looks significantly better.

  5. Valerie

    I was going to make the same suggestion as Tychoish. Congratulations to your daughter!! Sounds like a lot of intense work has been going on under your roof.

    BTW…one edit on your “working with an editor” document. Page 2 in italics should read “you can do it solo…” rather than “you can so it solo…”

  6. Caroilne

    Congratulations to your daughter!

    And, I just saw the Book in the Baltimore County public library this past Saturday.

  7. Diana Troldahl

    What an exciting thesis topic!!! I really look forward to seeing your daughter’s impact on the world, that just ROCKS!
    Thanks again for signing my copy of FFSB, it found it’s way back to me last night :-}
    I have shared the Treiball link with a friend who works a lot with her dogs in a sport that requires more physicality, and has worried about them aging.
    No dog in my life yet, but my niece lives near by with two, and my neighbor across the street has five :-}
    I love ukulele folks, most of whom I met via Lynn and Brian (The Fabulous Heftones).

  8. Deborah Robson

    Valerie, thanks for the tip on the typo in that document. I’m always amazed at the persistence of typos in evading detection–or in appearing again after they’ve all been expunged. I was relieved to discover that the glitch was *not* in the fillable PDF, which would have required a lot of file manipulation to fix. So that s-to-d shift, plus the removal of a mysterious random space, have been effected and I’ve re-posted the file (same location and name, so the links will still work).

    Deborah and Kathryn, it’s great to hear about these gaming connections! My daughter studied single-player RPGs in part because the MMORPGs add layers of complexity that would have defied the bounds of the thesis process. (I’m pretty amazed that these strings of letters roll off my tongue now. You can tell I’ve been listening to her talk for a while.)

    Caroline, I *love* libraries and am ecstatic that The Book is in the Baltimore system!

    And Diana, thanks for your enthusiasm. I messed around with the ukulele some last night–it had been a few days–and it felt sweet to realize I have a few chords that weren’t in my brain before. Lynn is such a delightful encourager. And Brian, of course, is one of the most adept ukulele players around. http://www.heftone.com/fabulous

  9. Erin

    Deborah, I just wanted to pop in and congratulate you on your monumental book. I was able to get a copy last week at my local (independent!) bookstore and have been enjoying it ever since. It is beautiful, insightful and entertaining! I will be recommending it to all my students. Fantastic!

  10. Deb Robson

    Thanks so much, Erin! I'm a big fan of independent bookstores. I have a driving trip coming up and I'm already locating independent bookstores along the route. When I need to take a break, I want to enjoy some local ideas instead of just the blur of sameness provided by chains.

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