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Rachel's Journal

Rachel "Sparks" Blackman
17 May 1977
Who am I?

I am a native Seattlite, who hates coffee. (But loves a good chai latté!)
I am a red-headed tomboy who writes code and solves puzzles.
I am an equestrian. (I ride English style, hunter/jumper and dressage.)
I am an aspiring speculative fiction writer.
I am a loyal friend, or try hard to be.
I am also a Friend (Quaker), though do not attend Meeting much anymore.
I am someone who often finds it too hard to say "no" when asked for things.
I am far too driven by my emotions, and so spend too much effort trying to sort them out sometimes.

The list could go on for a while.

The best way I can put it is that I'm a creative soul who lives in a logical world, and tries to reconcile the two. I love to write, I love to draw, I'm not as good as I could be at either... and one of the most important things in the world to me is my friends, and trying to be there for them when they need.

Why the Nickname?

As a few people have now asked where my nickname of 'Sparks' comes from, I figured I'd just put the answer here. No, though I love Girl Genius and am somewhat of a self-proclaimed mad scientist, it actually isn't a reference to the 'Sparks' of that world.

I've had the nickname since the late 90's, and it's a reference to the movie Contact. In the film, the character Ellie has flashbacks to her childhood and speaking with her father. He always refers to her as 'Sparks' in those flashbacks. When the film came out, the young-Ellie reminded several friends of me, so they started jokingly calling me 'Sparks.' The name has stuck, and I eventually took it as my 'nom de net.' :)

Of course, I've been involved in a number of projects out there in the great vast wilds of the Internet. So if you've been around, the various roles you might know me as include:

  • On a number of MUSHes out there, I am known as Sparks, my RL nickname. For firanites, you'd know me as Jeanne.
  • In the Jabber community, I'm the 'sparks' who used to be found as an idle moderator in the jdev@conference.jabber.org room, or contributing to jdev and standards-jig. Yes, this means I /am/ the same Sparks who is one of the Trillian developers. Sometimes (very rarely) I will post work-related things here, but in general I'm not here for tech support. That's what we have Don and Glenn for!
  • I'm Rachel Blackman in the Cocoa-Dev communities, and still am sometimes known as Sparks there. Yes, there was a touch of silliness in writing Windows software as a day job, and Mac OS X software as a hobby... but I'm far from the only person to have done that! And with Trillian now porting to Mac OS X as well, this has come in handy.
  • Though I doubt anyone has read any of my short fiction -- and I don't have anything longer published yet -- I write under the pen name of Alex Piper. So if you see a story by Alex Piper, that'd be me. I also have a horribly disused writing journal at alexpiper, for those who care.
  • I often post (generally under my own name, Rachel Blackman, but sometimes under my pen name) on the forums on SFF.net. I can in particular be found in discuss.horses, or helping to man discuss.macintosh for OS X users.
  • I am an avid user of Flickr, and can be found on there as RainPacket.
  • I used to be very active in the anime community (though no longer am, nor do I really watch much anime anymore), so you might know me from there. While no longer so actively into anime, I do however remain a devoted fan of Hayao Miyazaki's work, and still host and sysadmin Nausicaa.net, a Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli information site that Michael Johnson, Theo Hua and I founded years ago.
  • I also host Westeros.org for Linda and Elio. I just... I... *sob* ...why do you make my server melt, fandom?
  • In the gaming world, I tend to be known as Packetdancer.