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Washburn, November 2005 - September 30, 2016

Posted on Sat Oct 1 19:00:00 CDT 2016

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How does one speak of the departure of a cherished friend?

My dear, loyal friend for almost eleven years passed beyond at 1:40 am on Friday, September 30th. He spent the last five hours of his life in a hospital. I had thought that I was taking him in for a dangerous but curable condition. Instead, I took him in to discover that he had a creeping condition, largely undectable, that was going to kill him.

Kylie and I were with him when he went. Kat, his original human mother, made in only a few minutes later. I had hoped he would hold on just a bit longer.

Washburn came into my life with his sister River, two brothers Simon and Malcolm, and his mother Serenity, when he was a mere five weeks old. Kat and I adopted out all of the others, but opted to keep Washburn, and then when we separated I kept him along with Ghost.

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Washburn has slept with me almost every night of the last ten years. I cannot dream of counting the days in which I woke up to find him right there. Or nights in which I would be going to sleep and he would choose that moment in which I most needed to give him scritches. I would go to sleep with his purr and wake up to his purr. In his youth, he would investigate every open glass, first with his face and then with his paws. No glass was safe. Books were ruined for the sake of his love for water. I eventually foiled that by moving to using a water bottle almost exclusively. He spent years drinking from the faucet, often while I was brushing my teeth. He stopped and never really restarted, though in the last year I always got the impression he was interested.

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Most of his life he was skittish around new people. In the last few years he became braver, willing to come out, investigate, and even accept pets from a new person in the house. Though he rarely had a playmate after Kat and I separated and Vladimir went with her, in the last few years he and Sapphira finally formed a bond in which they would snuggle and groom. He learned to crawl up onto my chest at night to get more pets. He would never sleep there, but sometimes he would settle down for a few minutes with his aggressive purr.

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We lived out in the woods for a year, and so he is one of the few cats who has gotten to run out in the woods. He learned the joys of climbing a tree which had branches in near reach. Of running along a branch to see the world from high up. Of discovering what his claws were really good for.

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In his last few minutes, I wanted more than anything to pick him up, lie down, and wrap him up next to my chest. To let him die listening to my heartbeat, as he was born listening to his feline mother's heartbeat. Alas I did not. I feared it would distress him. I feared it would hasten the end. And perhaps, because of that, my heart is broken a little more.

Washburn made an impression upon everyone. Everyone who knew him is sad to see him go. Even his vet, who saw him once a year, called me, heartbroken.

I promised him I would be with him his entire life. Promise fulfilled. What more can a mother do?

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My love, my dear friend, my child, Washburn:

I wish for you wild open fields in which to run
Forests in which to climb
Water to investigate and pet
Infinite hands to pet you
Beds in which to cuddle
And more love than even I could provide

Please forgive me for our fights
For the times I neglected you
Please remember the love I gave
The times we spent playing
The times we spent cuddled

Watch over your sisters
And be free

Maybe there is an afterlife, and maybe my love will let me visit you again.

I miss you. I will never forget you. For as long as I live, I will never let you be forgotten.

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I will reserve the rest of the space for stories which I will tell as I recall them, and additional pictures as I develop them.

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Fri Aug 19 16:55:00 EDT 2016

Posted on Fri Aug 19 16:55:00 EDT 2016

For the fun of it, I listed out all of the languages that I have learned and written some code in. About half of them I've written near-production code.

  • Pascal
  • Perl
  • Python
  • Clojure
  • Common Lisp
  • Erlang
  • C/C++
  • Ocaml
  • Haskell
  • Lua
  • Fortran
  • Go
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Ten Years

Posted on Tue Aug 2 21:15:00 CDT 2016

"You have a very androgynous air about you"
  -- Alpha

As near as I can tell, on August 2nd, 2006, I came out as Androgyne. Ten years ago today. During a poly dinner that night, Alpha said these words to me, having no understanding of the effect they would have on my life. I came out to my girlfriend at the time roughly two to three hours later.

Until then, I had encountered trans women, but had concluded I was not one of them. I knew I was not a woman. But I also knew that I was miserable trying to live as a man. One sentence opened the possibility of something totally different.

Not once in ten years have I looked back. I have never wanted to. My freedom comes at a cost that I pay happily.

The deepest loves of my life have come from the Transgender, Genderqueer, and Queer community. I sometimes sit in fear of "the other path", the life I would have lived had I not figured out what I am. I would never have encountered the people I love now had I stayed on that path. I would have continued, unsuccessfully, to try to be a man and try to relate to people from that perspective. And it would have continued to be wrong.

Perhaps I have the slowest transition ever. Maybe. Maybe not. I feel that I have made every milestone (so to speak) at precisely the right time for my life.

I now refer to myself as "Agender", not "Androgyne". I refer to myself as "Transgender" and "Genderqueer" now, and I classify myself with women in those environments which force me to do so. I do not feel that anything about my gender has changed, but terminology has certainly changed, as has my presentation.

People like me have always existed. We are those who have discarded the gender norms, choosing instead to shape our bodies and our lives as we see fit. In my experience, setting aside the misery of trying to live in a world that fights against our autonomy, we are happy, healthy, and vibrant individuals specifically because we get to live our authentic lives.

Everything good in my life now has happened because I am non-binary and queer. And so I am out, I am proud, and I will never go back.

So say we all.

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Diversity Tweetstorm

Posted on Fri May 20 12:00:00 CDT 2016

On April 20th, I was on a panel talking to UT students about diversity in the tech community. There were five of us on the panel and we only had an hour, so not a lot of time or format to really just drop a bunch of information.

The next day, I put together a huge tweetstorm of all my ideas. Since my twitter is now private, here are all of the tweets put together into a single website.

Thank you to my community, who influences me regularly. Especially @lynncyrin and @ShellyBacksass

Practical things you can do right now to be an ally against racism and sexism

  • Stop telling racist and sexist jokes. Stop tolerating racist and sexist jokes.
  • Listen to minorities when they tell you that something is racist/sexist/ableist.
  • Use people's stated names and pronouns. They know what they're talking about.
  • Don't build gender forms, or make textboxes: http://43epnd.axshare.com/gender.html
  • Your idea of what a man or woman should look like is irrelevant.
  • Cultivate friendships with people who don't look like you. Be legit. Don't tokenize.

How do you spot problems during the interview process as a candidate?

  • Watch for keywords in the posting. "ninja", "rockstar", "10x" all point to a toxic culture.
    • These people tend to be pretty full of themselves and not good co-workers.
  • Look at the C-Suite. All white men and more than a few people? Racism and sexism already enshrined.
  • Get an office walkthrough and look at the demographics. Watch for bro-culture signs. See the number of not-white-men in engineering.

How to spot problems when interviewing a candidate?

  • Define your culture. "Culture fit" could be bro culture, or it could be on positive social ethics.
  • Make your ethics about diversity.
  • Put diverse interviewers into your panel. See if the candidate downplays one of the minority people on the panel.

Why diversity?

  • Diversity is critical for non-toxic environments, which they need for both retention and access to talent pools.
  • Companies don't need the best candidates. They need good candidates who can grow. Startups especially do not understand that.
  • Companies also need engineers for the long haul. Every lost employee is lost engineering knowledge.

Counterproductive behaviors?

  • Telling our stories, instead of amplifying our voices.
  • Making inclusivity about your virtue instead of about the humanity of the people you want to include.
  • Explaining gender to us, or standing on outdated terms, or insisting on a gender binary.
  • Telling us our lived experiences, or our feelings, are wrong.
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Driftwood

Posted on Wed Dec 2 08:00:00 CST 2015

I spent a year in Driftwood. I lived alone out there in a small cabin in the woods. I called the space home.

During that year, I rebuilt my soul. I learned for sure that I am no good living as a hermit, but that I can hermit for periods of time and be happy during those periods. I had a lot of quiet time. Lots of time to just think. I worked on projects, finally mastered Haskell to the point that I was willing to teach it, and started to regain the confidence that I needed to take on the world on my own terms.

I have many more pictures, all undeveloped, from my time out there. Over time, I will develop and post more. Whenever I feel the need to revisit that time of quiet.

I hope it is not the last one my life affords me.

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Perspectives

Posted on Wed Oct 21 08:00:00 CDT 2015 by Savanni D'Gerinel

The same shot, five different framings. All a play of perspective.

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Faerie Fountain

Posted on Wed Oct 14 12:00:00 CDT 2015 by Savanni D'Gerinel

It is officially called the Liz Carpenter Fountain. We who experience magic call it the Faerie Fountain. It is almost always broken or turned off, so these pictures are from years ago.

Perhaps one day it will be turned on and we can run through the magic and lights again.

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Selfies

Posted on Fri Sep 25 16:00:00 CDT 2015 by Savanni D'Gerinel

Selfies are good for the soul. They help people to start seeing he beauty in themselves. In the LGBTQ In Tech slack group, we have an entire channel dedicated towards them.

Every now and then, I have the energy to put my good camera on a tripod and deal with aiming, sitting down to check aim, re-aiming, focusing, etc. I generally love the results.

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Portland Pictures

Posted on Wed Aug 19 09:00:00 CDT 2015 by Savanni D'Gerinel

About a year ago I posted most of the pictures from my trip to Portland, Oregon in 2011. It turns out, though, that I missed a few. These last two I actually got in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

That said, I still have undeveloped pictures from that trip, so I may continue posting additional pictures for years yet. The beauty of pictures is that I can easily go back to revisit them years later, and remember so much in the process.

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Language Quality

Posted on Fri Jul 31 08:00:00 CDT 2015 by Savanni D'Gerinel

  • Perl
  • Python
  • C
  • Go
  • Ocaml
  • Haskell
  • Javascript
  • Clojure
  • Java

I have written thousands of lines of code in each and every one of those languages. I have written hundreds of thousands of lines in C and Python.

I am fully aware that some people find their ways into computer science via Python, PHP, Javascript, Ruby, and what have you. I am also fully aware that some people (such as myself) are required to keep using them in order to make ends meet. Given my breadth and depth of experience, though, I can call out these programming languages on their quality, if only by how much fully automatable work they do not do for the developer.

So go ahead. Keep tell me I'm full of shit for writing code in Haskell.

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