Time to Level Up – With SCIENCE!

Last Saturday was my father’s birthday, and as per our tradition, we went to the Huntsville Ham Radio festival together. 
This is a picture from the end of the Hamfest on Saturday, as everyone eagerly awaits the prize drawings. 
I studied for and received my Technician Class license in 2008, and I’ve been meaning to upgrade to a General Class License. With a General Class license you can get on the HF bands and talk to people who are much farther away. 
We went to a panel for YLs (Young Ladies), and I was the only Technician Class level person in the room. A few others were General Class, but most were the highest level – Extra Class.
This calls for action.
I’ve already printed out the questions for the General Class exam.
I’m going to level up. 
I’m in love with the aesthetics of old technology. All things Heathkit make my heart go pitter patter.
But I don’t want to just be in love with the visual, the appearance of old technology. I want to be able to work with it, get inside, know how it functions. 
At the Hamfest every year there are women selling jewelry, and every year I walk past those booths. I like jewelry. Jewelry is fun and great. But at a technology festival I don’t want to be part of the pileup to look at bracelets and earrings.
But this time I broke my promise for a moment and stopped to look at some lovely earrings made out of capacitors. (I didn’t take a picture, but they looked similar to this.)
Very cool. But the thing is, these earrings don’t DO anything. They’re made out of capacitors, but they might as well be made out of beads. More aesthetics without function. Without meaning.
My challenge to myself this year is to write more science into my science fiction. I’m gong to take classes, read books, and have a general Seeking Mind when it comes to finding out more about the technology behind the beautiful. 
I want to write a story that my second week Clarion West instructor, Nancy Kress, would consider viable. I’ll keep writing my weird-reality fantasy stories, but I’m going to regularly push myself to write science based stories as well. 
The only idea for a novel that I’ve ever been excited about has tons of technology in it. I’m going to give myself a few years with short stories to get all of the mechanics down, and I want to be ready with more techno savvy by the time I’m ready to start my novel. 
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Clarion West 2011: Raising the Funds

Time slows down between applying to Clarion West and getting your notice of acceptance or rejection. But if you are accepted, then time accelerates. Into Warp.

We were allowed to share news of our acceptance on April 2nd, so I made the mistake of postponing fundraising until April. Then my day job became really busy, and now it is almost the end of April, and I’m just getting started finding ways to raise the funds for tuition, airfare, and living expenses while at Clarion West.

I can already tell that this is going to be a great class, full of innovative people, just from the ways that we take this first step towards Clarion West:

In the next few weeks I plan to hold a yard sale, a bake sale, and apply for a loan in case all else fails.

But today I had some fun. I went out into my backyard and made a video for my kickstarter project. You can watch it here.

I have no idea if this will work at all, but it seems like a good first step.

Clarion West 2011: Getting the Phone Call

I got the call in the middle of March, the day after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I was on the phone with my father, a retired Nuclear Plant Trainer, and he was explaining to me the likely scenario at Fukushima. I lived in a little town near Hiroshima for a year as an undergraduate, and still have friends scattered around the country. My partner has aunts and uncles and cousins in Tokyo. I’ve been dreaming of going back for years. So when my phone started beeping, letting me know there was a call on the other line from a number I wasn’t familiar with, I let it go to voice mail. I reasoned it was probably a call from work or a wrong number. I joked to myself, “Ha. Maybe that was Clarion West.”

It was.

I had a voice mail waiting for me from Neile Graham, who has a lovely, friendly voice. I called back, calming myself, listing all the possible reasons I might have been called that were NOT about acceptance.

My application was incomplete.
I hadn’t sent in the application fee.
I was an alternate.
They were calling to ask me to please never apply to Clarion West again.

But Neile told me I had been invited to attend. After squealing and jumping around and running into the kitchen and telling my partner, “It’s Clarion West!” I finally calmed down enough to tell Neile, “Yes! I will be there.”

I love that Clarion West calls the new class to let them know they’ve been accepted. It’s that first jolt of connection, of waking up your mind to “hey! this is really happening!” But even after speaking with Neile, I couldn’t accept that I’d actually be attending the workshop. I began to think it might be reality when I received a confirmation email later that night, but then I had to wait all through March to find out who my classmates were. I began to think that the release of the class list had been delayed because they had decided they didn’t want me to attend after all, and were trying to figure out a way to tell me.

Now that it’s April, and we’ve got an email list set up where we’re talking about Clarion West preparations, it is beginning to feel real at last.

I’ve sent in my deposit to secure my place at the workshop. I’m waiting for Monday to roll around so I can buy my ticket to the Locus Awards. And there’s a packet of information coming in the mail soon.

But I don’t think I’ll believe it until I arrive in Seattle and enter the mysterious sorority house, and sit down to workshop the kind of stories I love with people who love them too.