compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

Yaay! The missing Keithley 171 showed up this morning. Thanks are due to our regular UPS driver who has spent the last few days undoing the mess caused by a temp driver who covered for him recently while he was out having a pacemaker fitted.

Yes, this is a lot more life detail than would normally be expected from a UPS guy, but under the circumstances I am very grateful to him for his help in tracking this down.

Keithley 171 Multimeter with Nixie Tube display Keithley 171 Multimeter with Nixie Tube display

I gave it a quick power up out of curiosity. It needs a little work — the power switch is broken (you can see that in the photo actually, so it wasn’t a surprise), and the case is kind-of sticky, probably old residue from labels. It looks like there is some label residue on the display filter too. None of this is very hard to deal with. I think I probably have a suitable replacement power switch in with some of the parts I amassed for my super sekrit upcoming steampunk project, so my next video blog will probably be a teardown, repair and calibration of this little beauty.

Did I mention that though it seems to just be 4.5 digit, it seems to have 100 picoamp resolution, and certainly measures down to microvolts. This is no slouch of a meter despite its age.

Oh, and that display is mesmerizing. Photos don’t do justice to the 3D-ness of Nixie tubes.

Please note: this was cross-posted from my main blog at -- If you want me to definitely see your replies, please reply there rather than here.

compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

So here it is! The first ep is up, in all its glory, warts and all.

In this ep, I make and install a new binding post knob for my HP 3457A multimeter. The new knob is made from ABS plastic on a Solidoodle 2, a cheap 3D printer that rose to fame in a Kickstarter campaign a couple of years ago. I think I bought mine just after the Kickstarter campaign finished, so I was probably one of their earliest commercial customers. The Solidoodle 2 isn’t horrible — it’s a bit basic, but it gets the job done. I’d like something a little more rigid with a bigger build platform, but I’ve already had a lot of use out of mine for everything from replacement knobs (as shown, and also for one of my oscilloscopes) to connector backshells and prototype housings for spacecraft electronics. It can’t replace my milling machine, but it does do surprisingly well for a lot of smallish objects with complex shapes that would be irritating to mill due to the difficulty of doing the CAM and all the setups and tool changes that ‘real’ machining would require. I also show Geomagic Design in use live for the 3D design for the part. I wanted to show a true end-to-end process, starting from concept all the way through to a finished object, showing all the steps without eliding anything. When I was mulling over the idea of buying a 3D printer, I really wanted something like this because all I could find were brief timelapses showing the printer making things, with pretty much nothing existing that went beyond this.

I’ve been mulling over the idea of starting a video blog for some time. Though I might occasionally wish to post a rant or several (gosh, who knew?), I’m actually rather more inspired by some of the excellent YouTubers out there who put out excellent content that always keeps me watching. On the electronics side, I’m particularly inspired by Dave Jones (eevblog), but it may have been watching mjlorton that actually kicked me into doing something. I also devour anything posted by mikeselectricstuff and TheSignalPathBlog — so very tasty! On the mechanical engineering side, mrpete222, Keith Fenner, oxtoolco, abom79 and doubleboost have all kept me hugely entertained. On the slightly more commercial side, I should also shout out to The Ben Heck Show and Tested, who demonstrate how this can be done on with slightly greater than zero budget and a fair bit of professionalism!

My thoughts behind doing this are partly because I like making things and I love teaching, so a video blog of this kind is particularly inviting to me. I have all kinds of wild plans, some of which may not see the light of day, but the Vague Plan is to have the following kinds of content on the channel:

  1. Long form video blog episodes like the one above. This format is closest to the form that I tend to really like to watch. These episodes will be unscripted and have whatever format works for the purpose.

  2. Very short episodes in a series entitled 100 Seconds of Awesome. These will be higher production value, short attention span videos aimed at showing very short, very to the point material that each aim to teach exactly one thing very precisely and with no added anything.

  3. Long form episodes in a series called $100 of Awesome. This will also be higher production value, but with longer episodes. The premise is that I will pick up the coolest thing I can find on eBay (most likely something like a piece of test equipment or some such), tear it down, repair it and hot rod it, then put it on eBay for auction starting at $1 with the proceeds going to charity. Kind of like Pimp my Ride meets eevblog. Some builds may be multi-episode.

  4. Longer form builds as individual miniseries. In this case, I’ll start a project from scratch and show the whole thing through to completion. These eps may actually go out as part of the main m0mV blog or may be separate, I don’t know yet.

My interests are maybe a bit wider than most of the video bloggers who inspired me to do this, so the content will probably range from hardcore electronics to machine shop videos, ham radio and even also some music-related stuff — I have not forgotten that Mage of Machines started out as essentially a stage name for my musical endeavours.

I’m well aware that this first ep is a bit rough around the edges. I’m on a learning curve. I know how to futz over video and audio for many hours to make it perfect, but that won’t fly on this because it will simply take too long. I have to be able to make a video in an evening, including shooting and editing, or they just won’t get made. It will take me a while to shake the bugs out and to get used to not saying ‘so’ so damned much. I’ll get there. In the mean time, perfection is the enemy of done, so here it is.

Anyway, I hope you like this one. If you like it, subscribe, give me a thumbs up, leave a comment, whatever. All of that helps my ranking on YouTube, and will be greatly appreciated. :-)

Please note: this was cross-posted from my main blog at -- If you want me to definitely see your replies, please reply there rather than here.

#3Dprinting, #Electronics, #MoMVlog, #TestGear
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

Keithley 171 Multimeter with Nixie Tube display Keithley 171 Multimeter with Nixie Tube display


Remember this thing I mentioned a couple of posts ago?

It is showing up as delivered on the UPS tracking system, but it never actually arrived. There is still no sign of the parcel two days late.

I’ve opened a ticket on eBay, so hopefully it’ll either be tracked down or I’ll get a refund. Waah! I was really looking forward to this. :-(

OK, I admit it, I’ve gone off the edge of test gear user into test gear collector. At least it keeps me off the streets! And as addictions go, I suppose it’s not all that expensive…

Please note: this was cross-posted from my main blog at -- If you want me to definitely see your replies, please reply there rather than here.

#Electronics, #MoMBlog, #TestGear
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

The TLA 624 logic analyzer I found on eBay arrived this morning.


Yes, it kind of really is a bit of a death star. I am earworming the Imperial March right now.

It’s shown here centre left, complete with wiggly lines. It has not yet gone ping. This is not necessarily disappointing.

It runs Windows 2000. Not very quickly. On a Celeron with 256MB of RAM! Oh how retro. But hey, that 2GHz resolution is for-real, and I’ve already had it hooked up to a real piece of hardware. It is a little disconcerting having a piece of test gear suddenly decide to do the old OpenGL pipes screensaver. But wow, yes, this was a serious find. It looks basically brand new — it came with all of the probes, nothing missing as best I can tell, and it looked like only one of the probes had ever been used. Even all the manuals and software were still present. Actually, the manuals, software and cables could be resold on eBay for more than I paid for the whole thing. I am such a cheapass.

I’ll probably do a video showing it doing something interesting at some point, but for now, feel free to bask in its Imperial glory. :-)

Please note: this was cross-posted from my main blog at -- If you want me to definitely see your replies, please reply there rather than here.

#Electronics, #MoMBlog, #TestGear
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

I’m about to do something very inappropriate, which might get my get-out-of-jail-free-for-having-hairy-legs-in-a-built-up-area card rescinded. I’m going to deliberately appropriate lots of other people’s oppression and lump it all together. Bear with me, this actually makes sense.

I’m pretty much as out about being transgendered as it’s possible to get. I write about it publicly here on my own blog and, with more of a slant toward its intersection with paganism, over on Patheos. Consequently, transphobia comes up fairly often. But what is transphobia?

As a word, it derives from the more commonly used homophobia, the fear of homosexuality. However, though it came later to our language, I suspect that it is actually the more general term. Yes, I’m appropriating homosexuality as being a subset of transphobia. Why, you might ask?

I do not consentLiterally, transphobia is usually read to mean fear of, or prejudice toward, transgendered people. I’d argue that what it really means is fear of, or prejudice toward any individual that doesn’t fit the well-established societal norms for someone of their perceived gender. Though this initially seems like a nearly identical definition, it is actually far wider and is implicitly inclusive of many other kinds of prejudice.

Example #1: A cisgendered woman who happens to be very tall, with naturally masculine bone structure, receives hatred from people who mistake her for a transgendered woman. I’ve known a number of women who fall into this category. The hate they receive isn’t qualitatively different from the hate I receive, yet our personal etiologies are completely different. It is not unheard of for cisgendered women with masculine facial features to electively undergo the same facial feminization surgery as many transgendered women, with similar results.

Example #2: A naturally effeminate cisgendered, straight man, is mistaken for a gay man and subject to homophobic violence. I’ve also known quite a few men who have experienced this. I have a strong suspicion that the motivation for such attacks is actually because people see someone who does not follow the masculine male script, and therefore react violently. Is this homophobia? Yes. Is this transphobia? I’d argue yes, also, because of the motivation – seeing someone not follow the gender script is the trigger, not the assumption of homosexuality. People in this category are gay bashed because they look or seem gay, not because they necessarily are gay.

In both of these examples, the people concerned aren’t (necessarily) homosexual or transgendered. Their attackers don’t (necessarily) have any idea what their relationship status might be – they may be in any kind of relationship, but attackers never usually bother to stop and ask first.

A third, important, example are intersex people. This is actually way more common than most people realize – statistically, at least an order of magnitude more likely in any individual than the (somewhat outdated) diagnosis of transsexuality. Intersex people aren’t necessarily transgendered – the two groups have issues that do not overlap entirely. It is, perhaps unsurprisingly, quite common for people who were originally thought to be transgendered to later discover that they are intersex. Some intersex people resent being lumped in with transgendered people and get quite upset about this, but it’s pretty clear that both groups are on the receiving end of transphobia.

Let’s take this a bit further:

Example #3: A childless cisgendered woman is appointed as a higher-up manager at a large company. If she follows her gender script, she is regarded as weak, meaning that she is ignored, passed over for promotion and possibly pushed out. If she doesn’t follow the script, she’s regarded as aggressive, a bitch, acting above her station. In this case, if she follows the script, she sees good old-fashioned misogyny. If she doesn’t follow the script, if she’s seen as behaving like a man, people react very negatively, aggressively, even violently. This actually also fits the definition of transphobia.

Example #4: A cisgendered man chooses to become a stay-at-home parent while his partner works. Though this is increasingly common, it’s still regarded as weird, non-normative. Support networks for stay-at-home mothers often shun stay-at-home fathers.

So, to sum up, none of these examples actually involve people who would normally be described as transgendered, yet all of them experience transphobia. I would argue that homophobia is actually a special case of transphobia – a proper subset, defined only by the sexual preference of the individuals, a characteristic often actually unknown and just assumed by the attacker. Much of what we see as misogyny, and indeed misandry, can also be seen as special cases, proper subsets, of transphobia.

The history of the struggle for civil rights for queer people is also the history of the struggle against transphobia. Transgendered people are the most visible of all of the groups that fall inside the queer alphabet soup, so they have always been in the front line. Stonewall was all about the drag queens and the transgendered people hitting their limit regarding the abuse they had received, drawing a line in the sand and fighting back, yet their story was coopted, retold and effectively erased in a heavily lesbian- and gay-dominated history.

The real enemy here is transphobia itself – fighting this requires everyone affected by it to work together, rather than be subjected to the divide-and-conquer consequences of more traditional queer politics.

Right now, in the news, we’re hearing about Facebook’s complicity with people who are reporting anyone publicly identifiable as transgendered, forcibly outing them on pain of digital exile. Make no bones about it, this is transphobia. The people reporting the drag queens are transphobic. Facebook’s complicity shows the company’s policies to be transphobic, and consequently the attitudes of their upper management to be transphobic.

Someone reposted my previous essay on the Facebook real names/real gender policy issue, suggesting that I was a whacko, and that this issue didn’t really matter, presumably because he couldn’t see any way that it affected him.

Maybe I am a whacko, in the sense that being a whacko, i.e., easily written off as crazy and consequently having opinions not worthy of consideration, because I don’t follow the script. I could go on about how being described as crazy is ableist, and non-script-following is really orthogonal to actual mental illness, but really, yes, this is yet another example of transphobia. If the person who called me a whacko is still listening, yes, you’re a transphobe. Think about it. Do you really want to be that guy?

And while we’re at it – to Facebook management — seriously, you people are committing a PR disaster. Your policies give being that guy a bad name. You are already seeing an exodus of queer people, but do you really want to be the next Chick-fil-A, where your brand has become synonymous with ‘I am a douchebag’?

Please note: this was cross-posted from my main blog at -- If you want me to definitely see your replies, please reply there rather than here.

#MoMBlog, #Musings, #TransgenderActivism
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

I’m kind of in the middle of a migraine right now. It came on last night and is now simmering gently. I should probably be in a quiet room with the lights out and definitely not writing something here, but migraines are just so BORING.

Anyway, as some of you know I had a contract changeover dropped on me last Friday. For anyone who has never worked as a government contractor, this probably doesn’t mean a lot, but for the rest, I see your sage nodding and involuntary twitches as evidence that you’ve been there. Basically, what it means is that you get fired and rehired by another company whilst still doing exactly the same job. Usually they are fairly uneventful. This one was stressful as all hell, because until last night it was looking like I probably wasn’t being rehired. It all got sorted out, so I end one contract on Tuesday and begin another on Wednesday. Big relief, but stressy as all hell, so hello stress migraine, my old and not terribly welcome friend.

So I have a couple of bits of hardware turning up for the lab this week:

Keithley 171 Multimeter with Nixie Tube display Keithley 171 Multimeter with Nixie Tube display

This beauty is a Keithley 171 multimeter. It looks old and crusty, and for sure, it’s old and crusty. However, it does have one really interesting feature: a Nixie tube display! Do I need yet another multimeter? Somewhere between probably and definitely not. Do I need this particular multimeter? Nope. Do I want this particular multimeter? OH HELL YES! Did I click Buy it now the instant I saw it? You bet I did.

Nixie. Tube. Multimeter.

I mean, seriously!

Very awesome.

Tektronix TLA 624 Logic Analyzer Tektronix TLA 624 Logic Analyzer

I ran into a snag on a project recently because I either had enough channels to see what was going on, or enough timing resolution to see what was going on. Unfortunately, fixing the problem needed both.

Consequently, the lab required an extra Death Star. (For reference, I have a habit of calling any piece of uber-equipment a Death Star that is such ridiculous overkill that problems they are intended to solve all wish they hadn’t just moved to Alderaan). Basically the TLA 624 is an early noughties era piece of test gear that makes it possible to monitor and record what is happening on up to 136 channels at once, with 500 picosecond resolution. This is overkill on number of channels, but about right on timing resolution for what I need. Oh, yeah baby.

The observant among you might spot that it runs Windows 2000.

Nobody is perfect…

I’m intending that both of these pieces of kit will be featured on my video blog once it gets going. If this headache from hell goes away, I may do some shooting later today.

As is my current wont, I am posting this from my own blog, so please comment there if you definitely want to be sure I see your comment. :-)

Please note: this was cross-posted from my main blog at -- If you want me to definitely see your replies, please reply there rather than here.

#Electronics, #MoMBlog, #Musings, #TestGear
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

Today I hit a point where I was really, really done with Facebook. Their real names policy is morphing into a real gender policy, and they are already cracking down. The digital jackboot is at our throats, people. Joking aside, this is serious stuff for anyone who is directly affected — anyone who happens to be transgendered, anyone who is trying to avoid a stalker or past abuser, anyone whose views are dangerously unpopular. The list is endless, really. Google messed up with this in the nymwars fiasco, but it seems that Facebook has not done the right thing by following suit.

Zuckerberg: I’m looking right at you. You have a choice to do the right thing, to be on the right side of history, or be remembered as that billionaire douchebag whose online service everyone left because they couldn’t stomach the transphobia and the misogyny. Fix it. Fix it now, or you’re MySpace. Mark my words.

In my previous post here, I made it pretty clear that I’m not going to play the Facebook game again until such time as they capitulate and end their heinous policy. This led to me thinking further, however — how could I maintain some kind of writing/blogging presence that doesn’t involve giving Facebook my time, but would still make it possible to stay in touch with people. I don’t want to lose the connections I’ve made there.

idncI did a bit of digging around. I’ve had this WordPress blog for a little while now, but hadn’t posted too much. It was originally intended to be just a home for my musical endeavours, but they are sparse enough that it seemed to make sense to do more with it. Then it dawned on me that I could syndicate my blog posts across most of the platforms I care about, including Facebook, Google+, LiveJournal, DreamWidth, Twitter and Tumblr, without it taking forever to actually maintain a presence on all of those sites.

So here I am. On everything, posting from digital nowhere.

If this posts everywhere I hope it does, it’ll be the first time I’ve posted in some of those places in years. 2009 for DreamWidth!

(Please pardon the heinous SEOification in the tags on sites that support it — I really want this seen, so I’m cheating. And please, please share the original post if you feel you are able. This kind of thing can’t be allowed to stand.)

Please note: this was cross-posted from my main blog at -- If you want me to definitely see your replies, please reply there rather than here.

Read more... )
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)
Hi Folks,

I made it to Devon Island a little over a week ago now. I've not had comms until today because we only just got the Ka-band satellite dish working this afternoon, so this is the first chance I've had to get these out and to catch up on the week's backlog of email.


It has been pretty windy here -- up to and just over 30 knots some of the time. It's forecast 60 - 75 in Resolute in a couple of days, which means we'll get hit pretty hard too. Hopefully our tents will survive, but cube law and all that -- double the wind speed, increase the force by a factor of 8. My tent is staked out with enormous tent pegs, fully guyed out, and every peg has a bigass rock sitting on top of it. It's also a brand new Mountain Hardware Trango 3.1, which is designed for nontrivially bad conditions, so I should be OK. I'll be tightening my guy lines and checking the pegs before bed tonight though.


This is an aerial shot from the DHC6 on the flight over from Cornwallis. There was (still is) quite a bit of snow cover that will probably disappear by the end of the arctic summer.

The facilities

These are, um, the facilities. You know, *cough cough*. Actually, you probably don't *want* to know.

Setting up camp

Setting up camp, particularly in the first few days, involves a lot of manual labour. Heavy lifting, moving stuff around, getting things out of storage, setting up electrical and comms systems, getting the heaters going, etc. It takes about a week in total before people other than the core team start arriving.

Sea ice off Devon

These are some odd shapes in the sea ice just off the coast of Devon as we were flying overhead.

River and snow

The addition of snow makes Devon even more photogenic than usual, I think. And oddly moves me to do more colour -- this is rare for me.

Polygon river

Another (gasp) colour landscape. The name comes from the river in the middle (duh) and the fact that the ground either side has a polygonal surface structure. This forms due to expansion and contraction due to freezing, and is also found in the polar regions of Mars.


We typically have several local Inuit working in camp. This is Pauline, from Grise Fjord, the northernmost settlement in the world. *waves, if you're reading this!*


This is actually the comms tent that houses the satellite equipment and other various raio gear.

On takeoff

On board the Twin Otter, just as the pilots opened the throttles to start the takeoff run. The DHC6 is an amazing aircraft -- older than I am, yet better than anything else at takeoffs and landings on short gravel airstrips, which makes it a mainstay up here in the far north.

On DHC6 Twin Otter before takeoff

This was taken by one of the pilots. It's me with my pelican case full of cameras, sitting on top of a big pelican case full of robot control system. :-)


Definite signs of Illuminati activity. This requires further investigation.

Hold on to your hat

A shot of the weather station's display panel during the last wind storm.

From a window

From the window of the Twin Otter, just as we were crossing the coast of Cornwallis Island on the way to Devon.


The semi-permanent work tents are heated by diesel stoves. This barrel feeds the heaters in two tents.

DHC6 Cargo

I was the only passenger on the flight -- the rest of the plane was full of cargo. It is quite amazing what those planes can handle.

Devon coast

I can't wait to get a chance to print this one...

Bitten through fibre

One of the messier bits of setting up camp was the main gigabit fibre from the comms tent to the core, and back out to the office tent had been chewed through by an animal (probably an arctic fox) over the winter. Since it's essentially impossible to repair a fibre, particularly with the equipment we have here, it was necessary to pull it all out and replace it with new cables. It got done, but it was messy and required digging up the conduit because the connectors were too chunky to let themselves be pulled around the 90 degree bends in the pipes.

Around Camp

This is a shot between several of the work tents. You can see the CSA's autonomous Arthur C. Clarke greenhouse project in the background.

So that's it for now -- more as I shoot them!
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)
Just a quick message to say that we arrived safely in Resolute Bay last night. Today is going to be cargo sorting mostly. I'll hopefully be back online a bit this evening. I think the plan is we're going to the island tomorrow, but that's not definite yet.

I'll try to post a few photos later, but for now I have to run to head to Polar Shelf.
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)
This may be my last post for a while. I'm currently in Vancouver, finalising loading the C-130.

Current plan is, we leave early tomorrow morning, takeoff should be around 9am. We're refuelling in Yellowknife, then continuing on to Resolute in one go so I should be there by evening. I may or may not have comms there -- likely yes, but it's possible I won't. I'll be in Res a couple of days, then we'll be heading to Devon Island most likely on Monday and opening camp. Latest news is that we'll most likely not have comms until sometime around mid-July, maybe the 10th but possibly later (or even not at all).

I'll be shooting photos as always, but there may well not be much in the way of updates. Apologies in advance for that, and please don't worry if you don't happen to hear from me.

compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)
But I don’t.

You see, I have my own moral compass. This is not an easy path, particularly if you really mean it.

Jesus would have forgiven you…

But I won’t.

Not for this. Not for selling out like that, not for forgetting the basic message of your own religion and giving in to the hatred of the people who would seek to control you.

But, what about Leviticus? What about Paul?

Well, what about them? Leviticus was an extreme homophobe with a bizarre dislike for seafood. Paul was a misogynist. I see no evidence that Jesus was any of those things. What, are you telling me that you don’t believe in Jesus? That you prefer the opinions of a couple of hangers-on (who, it should be said, never met the man Himself?)

Jesus would probably have forgiven you for that, too.

Oh right, it’s in the Good Book.

So who put it there? Was it Jesus?

No, it was the centuries of church leaders who sought to control you and your ancestors.

So why did you let them?

Oh, that’s right. They had a bit of a liking for burning people at the stake for disagreeing with them. Not being burned at the stake is a good plan, in my opinion.

But, this is 2009. No stakes around here. No public crucifixions.

You are allowed your own moral compass. No one is going to burn you at the stake for it. Jesus will still love you.

So, evolve yourself a spine. Do the right thing. Stop listening to the people who would control you through their hatred and your fear.

Do the right thing.

Then, I will forgive you.
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)
My name is Sarah, but I am Other. I am, if you like, cut from different cloth. My archetype had some versioning issues. When god handed out the Normal, I was looking the other way, daydreaming about something more interesting than queuing.

I’m not Other by choice, though my choices have played a part. In some sense, if you’re already Other by dint of the universe declaiming Fiat Weird! at your conception, then adding a few extra Other points doesn’t do much more harm.

Otherness can be entailed in many ways, but at the heart of the matter is that it’s kind-of a Hamming distance from the default, privileged, white, Christian, male, middle class norm. As that distance increases, privilege decreases, and Otherness becomes unavoidable. Ultimately, it’s actually difference in Hamming distance that matters – it’s quite possible to be more Other than Other, and to be more privileged than privileged.

I’m Other as a consequence of quite a few things. My Hamming distance is pretty large. I’m trans, poly, kinky, bi, pagan, female, both queer and genderqueer, bright enough that many people have an issue with it. They are the big ones, but there are more.

Otherness isn’t a special club. There isn’t a secret handshake, or a newsletter. Beyond the bonding that occurs between veterans comparing battle scars, there’s not much in the way of community either. Being Other makes you a specialised taste, so whilst finding love is only made a little harder, finding lovers really is a lot more difficult. Not impossible, just harder. The same goes for finding jobs and housing.

Being Other puts you well down the privilege hierarchy. Stating that fact is typically interpreted as whining. Sure, I’ll whine. I’ll also adopt a characteristic None Shall Pass attitude should anyone try to use their privilege as a way to bully or control me.

Though I do not choose to be Other, I could choose to appear less Other. I could fake my Hamming distance down toward more acceptable levels. I could have chosen to not transition, and kept my perceived cisgendered privilege. No wait – I’d be dead by now if I’d done that. Suicide, most likely. Scratch that one. And, before I transitioned, people read something off about me anyway, so I still had much of the same difficulty. If anything, transitioning made interacting with people easier – for them, more than for me. Being genderqueer for me basically means being OK with not being a standard-issue, cookie cutter stamped out Acme Model 1 woman. I’m female-identified, but I’m not that. Not even close. But, my Hamming distance from cookie cutter Male is far larger, so I deal with what I’ve got. So that one’s not really a choice either, I couldn’t fake it even if I wanted to. I could be in the closet about being queer, poly, bi or kinky, but all that would do is make it even harder for me to find community. I could fake Christianity, but… no wait, I really couldn’t. Most variants would reject me out of hand, some would try to hammer me into a mould in order to crunch down that big old Hamming distance of mine. Some, very few indeed, would accept me with open arms, but there would still be the slight problem that, um, not actually Christian, and I have principles about lying about that kind of thing.

So what’s my point here? What’s the moral lesson to extract from this? What do I Want?

Ultimately, respect is good. It’s always good, and always a good thing to suggest, in the same sense that a doctor telling someone with bizarre symptoms to drink plenty of water is a good idea because, well, everyone should always try to stay well hydrated. But, seriously, to have Otherness respected is a rare thing. To have it Understood is incredibly special. Was I to ask for my hundred percent, that would be it.
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)
Surprisingly enough, under exactly the same user ID as here. Friend me! Friend me Now!

(Or circle me. Or whatever it is they call it there. It's pretty, though.)
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)
This is the point at which I post an utterly embarrassing first post. I should probably attempt to hit all the cliches.

Tap... tap... tap... is this thing on?

I probably need some speling errrors.

I already used the Hello, World! thing. Kernighan & Ritchie would be proud.

I'd insert a random cat picture here, but I can't actually be bothered to dig out a link.

Um... anything else I can think of?

Oh yes, hi. I am, astonishingly enough, also known as compilerbitch on Livejournal. Feel free to friend me, or whatever that's called in this day and age.
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

This did the rounds of my friends on Twitter and LJ yesterday. It's taken me a bit of time to respond to it, partly because I wanted to think a bit first before writing it, and partly because it brought up a surprising amount of stuff.

Firstly, I was amazed to see this. A mainstream TV ad, albeit not English language, for something entirely unrelated to trans issues or civil rights, using that as its central message. This really is something quite out of the ordinary. Previously, I'd only ever seen trans people depicted in a jokey way, or as victims (though, this ad still has a twinge of that). In the past, I've more than once refused to go to see films with a trans theme, because typically the theme is ultimately demeaning to me. I know a lot of people, for example, who loved Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but, fucking hell, do you people have NO SENSITIVITY??? How am I supposed to feel watching that? And, I have, and kind of wish I hadn't bothered. Not an image I'd like to carry with me. I'm not your convenient joke, your convenient minority who is sufficiently non-trendy and disempowered that it's OK to poke fun at me. The permission for that is mine to give, and you don't have it.

So, back to the ad, and my take on it.

She got an apology.

To my memory, that has never happened to me. Not a sincere apology, anyway. The closest thing might have been my parents, after I refused to talk to them for about three months because they insisted on using incorrect names and gender pronouns against my wishes. I got a kind-of lame halfarsed apology that was framed more along the lines of, you know, you being angry about this is really upsetting to us, it's hard for us, you know, and you shouldn't be so mean about it. Too fucking bad. I'm me. Love me or fuck off. Sorry. Oh wait, no, I'm really not sorry, and I'm not going to comfort you when my reacting badly to you being crap to me upsets you.

I cried yesterday, alone, in my office. I cried because I'd never had that apology. I also cried because I'd never had apologies for many things I deserved apologies for, particularly as a child. The teachers who beat me and psychologically abused me never apologised. The children who bullied and terrorised me never apologised. My parents certainly never apologised for not giving a damn. When I confronted them about it, years later, they couldn't remember me ever having difficulties with bullying, even though I frequently came home bloody and bruised. My father has never apologised for becoming insanely angry at me, and terrifying me, whenever I reacted emotionally. My father has never apologised for molesting the three eight-year-olds that resulted in him spending three years in prison, or the effect that that had on me or the rest of my family. My father has never apologised for stealing over 20000 UK pounds from me, or for forcing his way into control of my first business, taking most of the profit and keeping me trapped living with them because I was earning a pittance.

No one has apologised for all the times I've not been promoted, or not hired in the first place, because I'm trans. No one apologised for throwing me out of Oxford at the end of my first year because I was transitioning. No one apologised for trying to kill me, on that train, in 1997, that left me with concussion and PTSD.

All of these little slices of poison, that stole my life-force, that held me back. That, in an ironic, painful and frankly fucking totally unnecessary kind of way, made me stronger than most people would imagine possible.

To the world at large: don't you ever dare ask me to apologise for being angry about this. That power is mine, and mine alone. I'm taking it back. Reclaiming that lost energy, that lost time, that lost love, that lost hope, that lost life-force. You can't have it. Mine.

compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)
I've finally finished processing the landscapes from my trip to the arctic this summer. If you've looked closely at my LJ, you'll have seen most of the images already, but there are another 17 images you've not seen before. The whole thing is sitting in a photo gallery on my web site here.

So, without further ado, here are all the new ones:


16 more behind the cut, all work safe )
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)
Just a test. Nothing to see here. Move along now...

(Checking out Flock at the moment, just trying out its posting client...)

Gratuitous photo:
[ profile] tenacious_snail has ninja trouble

Book poll

Oct. 6th, 2008 09:19 am
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)
[Poll #1273462]

Note that some of the above options are things I can't currently do because of my visa status. My intention for the moment would be to do this entirely on an at-cost basis, with me taking no part of any transaction (i.e you order a book or books direct from the printer/publisher at cost price). Prints I do like to give to people anyway, though the cost involved (to me) does put limits on that.

Also, this isn't in any sense committing anyone to buy anything -- I'm just trying to get a sense of what might and might not work for people, so even if you find yourself clicking the 'wouldn't buy it' option, I'd still be interested in your answers to the other sections.

In terms of likely cost, the bigger the book the more expensive it gets, so think about $15-20 for a paperback, $30 for a smaller hardback, $50-70 for a coffee table book (maybe more if it's really thick). The bound portfolio option will be spendy but gorgeous (think in the $200+ range, cost price is not that cheap). Unbound portfolios would be a bit less. I'm not sure about individual prints at this point, matted, unmatted or framed, because the not-being-seen-to-profit-from-it thing is trickier.
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)
This is the teaser for Laurent Lichtenstein's documentary on HMP. OMG, I'm in the trailer. *hides*

embedded video behind the cut )
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)


This is the second set of images from the arctic aerial photography series. All of the images in this set were shot from the search and rescue window of an Air National Guard C-130 Hercules, during a series of flights from Resolute Bay to Moffett Field via Yellowknife and Vancouver. They were all shot hand-held with a Nikon D200, then postprocessed in Photoshop.

29 more behind the cut )
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)

737 Shines

This is the first of two (or possibly more) portfolios I'm putting together from aerial photography from my trip to the Haughton Mars Project site on Devon Island in the Canadian high arctic.

(All photos: Sarah Thompson/Haughton Mars Project)

During my trip, I found myself having considerable opportunity for aerial photography. In all, I photographed from a 737, a Beechcraft 100, a Twin Otter (two flights), a helicopter, and a C-130 Hercules (three flights). This portfolio is comprised of images from the 737, one of the Twin Otter flights and the helicopter. Locations are mostly Devon Island, unless specified.

Artistically speaking, what I am going for is applying a fairly forceful B&W presentation to aerial images, giving a traditional landscape photography feel to images that are more typically seen in mapping systems like Google Earth. All of these photos were shot with a Nikon D200, hand-held. The helicopter shots were shot without glass, with the door removed, so I was hanging out of the door from the copilot's seat, though I was wearing a 4-point harness. The other images were shot through windows, so I am grateful for finding glass with reasonably good optical quality.

31 more behind the cut... )
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)
It's all over now, bar the unloading at the processing of the thousands of images.

compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)
I got to Res yesterday afternoon, so I'm now chilling out warming up at South Camp. I'll be here until the C-130 pickup, most likely on Thursday, so I'd best get on with making the most of it. :-)

More when I have news...
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)
This is probably my last chance to get a message out before comms goes down. We're having pretty strong wind (not looked at the weather station, but probably 40kts at least), subzero temperatures and freezing fog. It's taken out the C-band dish, but the Ka-band is still up. As a consequence, our IP phones are now down.

Given the weather, the plan seems to be to pull people out as and when we can get planes in. Currently that's not happening. There is some possibility that the C-130 might be delayed by anything up to several days, or that we might be stuck on the island for a while (maybe several days). We have a lot of food, the infrastructure is holding up pretty well, so no one needs to panic, though be advised that you probably won't hear from me again until I manage to make it to Resolute, or possibly not even then since their comms is actually flakier than ours.

I'll post here again when I next have comms. See you all soon (I hope!).
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

One small step for a man and his dog
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

Sea Ice 1
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

Yesterday, I took part in a moderately nontrivial traverse from base camp to the coast and back again. It was a 14-hour round-trip, truly punishing, across mile after mile of boulder fields by ATV. We'd cross a boulder field, then a river, then some mud, then another boulder field, then another boulder field with bigger boulders, then a boulder field with steep slopes... yeah, hard work. When I got back my hands were sufficiently sore from holding the handlebars that I had to get [ profile] dangerpudding to put a plate of food in the microwave oven for me because I couldn't pick it up. But... the view at the other end was astonishing. As usual, I'm feeling the lack of Photoshop here, so these three are just really intended to be a taster, but I shot something like 800 frames, so hopefully There Will Be More later.

Today and tomorrow I'm not due to leave camp. Wednesday/Thursday there is a planned two-day megatraverse, but since I'm supposed to be flying out to Resolute on Thursday I don't know yet what I'll be doing in relation to the traverse.

Weather is getting noticeably worse, now. Night is almost dark, and it's much colder. This field season is the longest ever at HMP, and there is now a nonzero chance of being snowed in, which would be a problem since the Twin Otters won't be able to land. Maybe NASA will spring for heli pickup...
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)

Planet of the Apes Valley
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

Breccia Hills
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

Note: These photos aren't quite processed the way I'd prefer -- I'm still out in the field, stuck with using UFRaw and Gimp and badly missing my beloved Photoshop. But, treat them as an artist's impression of an artist's impression, if you would...

On the moon

Aug. 5th, 2008 11:05 pm
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)
I'm going to be on the moon for the next couple of weeks. We're simulating surface traverses with a pair of pressurised rovers (represented by a Humvee and a Mule in our case), and we're going to be going out on long distance, two-day missions involving Apollo-style geological sample collection. There are lots of check lists, radio protocols, there's a capcom. Getting out and collecting samples is an EVA. On the Humvee, they are using space suits. Very moon landingish.

In practical terms, from my point of view, it involves following a 4wd truck around on an ATV, carrying extra supplies and just basically being an extra person for getting unstuck from mud type purposes. I was hoping to be able to take the 4x5, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen, at least on the next traverse. From the forecast, the weather is going to SUCK, for values of suck involving 50 knot winds and 8C with rain, and I'm going to be out in it all day for two 18 hour days in a row. I'm not specially looking forward to that, to be honest.

Anyway, there was a dry-run today:

On the Moon
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

Going to the Moon mostly involves paperwork
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

[ profile] brian1789 and Charles Frankel on EVA
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

Hills 1
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

Mars Hab
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

HMP from above
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

Tent City
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

(Guess who got to ride in a heli with the door taken off today!)
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)

Another day at the office...

The DAME autonomous drill

Lemming and Lasers
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)

Ping Pong, the Dog from Mars

Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson


Aug. 1st, 2008 02:30 am
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)
It went dark.

It got really cold(er).

It started raining.

Then it got light again.

Standing outside, freezing, with a bunch of space scientists, journalists, a film crew and sundry geeks, in the arctic, watching the sky go dark then light again. Shame about the cloud, but it's still pretty cool...
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)
I've not updated for a little while, mostly because nothing much has happened other than drilling. Lots of drilling. There were some software problems initially that have now been mostly resolved, in part thanks to probably the weirdest telecon ever yesterday, which I held from the drill site in the crater via an IP phone, two microwave repeaters, a satellite uplink and teh internetz.

Just a day and a half of drilling left now. Today and half of tomorrow, followed by packing up the drill and other equipment, taking down the huge orange dome tent that's been our home away from home away from home for the last few days, and waiting for the Humvee to come and pick us up.

I'm getting pretty used to ATVs being daily routine transport now. It takes about 20 minutes in each direction to the drill site, 40 minutes if we have to go via the repeater sites. They are amazing little vehicles -- it's hard to imagine anything else being able to get over some of the more extreme terrain. Part of learning to ride them is just basically getting the idea that, yes, they *will* go over that huge scary-looking pile of rocks, and then just getting on with it.

Then, it's the eclipse. Latest weather forecasts give us a roughly 50:50 chance of seeing it, so I'm crossing everything. Then, two weeks of entirely other stuff starts. Pretty much everyone here will be switching over to a big experiment involving simulating a lunar exploration mission with two rovers. My 'thing' will be following one of the two rovers on an ATV, shooting photos and video, and probably doing a few other mission support tasks as becomes necessary. This is going to be pretty cool, I think, because it'll involve going on very long traverses right across the crater, so I have to admit that I'm looking forward to the opportunities for photography that will inevitably come up. And there will be people in space suits. Did I mention the space suits?
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)

Dry Stream
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

From base camp
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

Base camp
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)

The Fortress
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

Solar Panels
(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)

(Photo: Haughton Mars Project/Sarah Thompson)
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)
Hello, world!

I've been in camp this morning hacking the drill code while the rest of the team moved equipment to the drill site with the Humvee and several ATVs. With luck, we should be drilling this afternoon. My stuff will probably go live tomorrow once the drill has been checked out and is known to be working properly. w00t!
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)
FYI, the HMP network will be down until 12.30pm local time. I don't think this will affect the IP phones, but it might. The Ka-band dish is down, and one of the projects needs the whole C-band dish this morning, so I'll probably be silent for a while.

Tent stuff was better last night. My cot is still broken, though a new one should show up on the next Twin Otter for me.
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)
Well, last night wasn't fun. I don't know if my tent wasn't up to the job, or my sleeping bag, or both, but I froze. I was wearing several layers, two hats (yes, layers on my head), a scarf, gloves and really thick socks inside my sleeping bag (which is rated to -20C), and I found myself getting colder and colder. I dozed off a couple of times, but when I woke up shivering I realised that, whilst I wasn't actually hypothermic at the time, I would be if I got any colder, so I got up (this was about 2.30am/3am, I don't remember) and went to the mess tent in camp which has a diesel-fired stove. I then spent the next couple of hours huddled next to it, then I eventually fell asleep for a while.

What I *think* happened was, the design of my tent is basically pretty bad -- it seems to assume relatively little wind, with precipitation falling more or less vertically. However, last night it was basically raining horizontally, and since the outer fly doesn't seal against the ground, wind (with rain in it) just blows under it. The inner tent is fully enclosed, but the fabric is not waterproof beyond about 4 inches above the ground, probably to ensure enough ventilation in warmer climates. I am going to attempt to rig something more effective later -- I can probably get away with taking a few garbage bags and duck-taping them around the edge of the fly sheet, then weighting them down with rocks to make a seal around the base of the tent all the way around. It won't be pretty, but last night was horrible, so...

Oh, and the army cot I got from Polar Shelf broke too, so I wasn't a happy bunny. I've asked for another one to be sent out on the next Twin Otter, hopefully today.
compilerbitch: HMP Mission Patch (HMP)
Just an FYI, we're in the middle of a storm here (for the British definition of storm). 80-100kph winds, rain. It's *cold*. Our comms are being flaky -- the Ka band is having weather problems. Tents all holding fine so far.

My first traverse went well today. 3km on ATVs to some hydrothermal vents on the crater rim, crossing a variety of surfaces from playa-like loose dust, gravel, mud, water to rubble and boulder fields. They are amazing vehicles, though I'm told the route we took was a bit of a baptism of fire for someone first time out. Nevertheless, we have found a location for the drill, so we'll be setting it up as soon as the storm clears, probably Thursday according to weather forecasts.

Today was my first view into the actual crater. No pictures, sorry, I didn't take cameras because I wasn't sure what the environment was going to be like, and I am going to be spending a week or so out there anyway so there isn't a particular rush. I'll probably take the 4x5 out there because we'll be shipping the gear out in the Humvee so there won't be a risk of damaging it with the amount of thrashing about that ATVs tend to exert on their payloads, and it's a really good vantage point for panos anyway. I'd also like to be able to image our own project with the big camera, so it kind-of makes sense. I can even leave it plugged in to the mains (we will have a generator out there) and run a long USB cable to it from the dome tent if I have to, should it be necessary.

Impressions: the crater. Enormous, beautiful, stark, slightly frightening in some ways. I've been to Meteor Crater, AZ, and frankly this place makes it look like a pinprick. The far rim was just visible in the distance -- I've noticed previously that no photos I've ever seen actually look 'cratery', and I can see why now. It's so huge that you probably have to be there to 'get' the scale of the place. Obviously, I see this as a challenge, so hopefully I will be able to pull off at least one genuinely cratery image. :-)

Dinner tonight was spag bol. Not bad. Followed by [ profile] brian1789's birthday cake, complete with chocolate mushrooms. (Happy birthday, by the way!)
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)
We're here.

Currently still getting set up. My tent is up. We still have a few orientation things to do today (safety talk, ATV training, etc.), but we're here. It's moderatly chilly.

And it totally looks like Mars.




compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

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