What is a Liralen anyway?

The Giant Rok was hit in his single eye by a rock. The eye turned inwards and he died of what he saw there. -- The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip

Most of the Eyre is based on my previous writings, various shadows I've cast in various parts of the Net World during various lives here. I think Gretchen said best what to make of these shadows. And, yes, there is another Liralen on the Web and net. She's far more MUD-involved than I am, so if you came to the wrong site looking for her, that's a link to her.

I originally got this name from the book quote at the top. The Liralen was a mythical beast, a bird with a thousand stories shining behind her eyes, who could not be kept or taken without also keeping or taking the Blammor. Blammor was defined by the riddle given above. Nice thing about such definitions that there are always more than one way to read them and to understand them.

Being a geek of the technical sort, I've often made the mistake of defining who I am by what I do and have done. Starting with a BSEE from Caltech, I've since carried on the tradition of all Drinkers From Firehoses. My life has been a bit of a whirlwind of discovery and practice of the archane arts of engineering.

And, yes, Jordan of Real Genius was based, at least in part, on me. My class's president and social organizers decided to ask me in on an interview being done by the movies producers and so there I was in one of the fanciest restaurants in Pasadena wrapped in a slightly oversized sweater that I'd knit myself one night when I was cold, talking blithly about life at Caltech without, from what folks say, a single breath. One of the most amusing things in my life was, fifteen years later, seeing that movie with a roomful of my friends from Temple Square and, the minute Jordan introduces herself in a long string of breathless sidetrains having the entire room turn to just look at me afterwards. That was most amusing. As Cera says, she has my voice.

I've learned about commas since. Also about breathing. And, finally, yes, I've also learned to finally sleep once in a while, though that took staying up 72 hours for a project while I was doing my MSEE at the University of Washington and having my body literally fall asleep on me before it shut down completely to really bring that lesson home.

Hm. I should put in here, also, that I'm the only Caltech woman that I knew was actually interviewed for source material; but I tried for a whole perspective about the female experience at the school. Not just me. It was an ME friend of mine that did the scuba gear testing in the pool, and while all the physically possible things that Jordan did were done by some Caltech woman, it wasn't necessarily me. I'm also very sure that Dave Marvit and the other Caltech consultants for the movie all contributed some of what they knew about the females of the school to Jordan's character as well. So I'm pretty sure she's a composit of the others who were there at that time. Personally, I was just glad that they got her right.

In the decade and a half since, I've done artificial neural networks, full custom silicon designs, gate arrays galore, a co-processor for the 68020, boards for flat panel displays, countless fpga designs, half a dozen hardware emulators for TRON microprocessors, and more assembly code than I could throw spagetti at. Then, while I was in the midst of the emulators, someone asked me to write, in C++, a source level debugger for the very co-processor that I'd built so long ago. I've since gotten hooked on software and am now wading amidst designs with 500+ classes, and actually turning out coding standards, aiieeee...

It always amuses me to realize that I don't really count my decade and a half of being on the Internet as really... well... technical. The Net has always been for fun, for me. Social, even. Email, netnews, gopher, and eventually html and java are all things that I do for fun, as easy as writing for communication's sake. Although, given what I do for a living being just as technical as it is, I guess I can see why I really don't think of the Net itself as being technical at all. Soft tech, perhaps.

I started way back when the Net was flat, 1985 or so. Mostly on net.women, net.singles, and a few of the talk nets, when things got interesting over there. When addresses were still strings of bangs and a hand wrought email address was the only way to get something to anyone. I had most of the west coast mapped in my head and bits of Boston mapped from uunet on.

It was the time of Net Gods and The Stupid People's Court, and a very, very small community that, for all that people today talk, was a bit more of the technical intelligenti and quite a bit less volumenous, but I'm not sure if the contents were *that* much better. Then again, most of the folks that I knew from then are now making big money doing Network work.

I quit the net entire for a few years, reverting to only email for a while as I'd gotten tired of all the politicing and backbiting and flamewars only made my stomach hurt. Until one day my sister, Kathy Li, pointed out this new news group called alt.callahans. There were a mere dozen posters at that time, and I wandered in in my soccer jersey with young Fezzik in tow and that was the beginning of a fine time on alt.callahans, mostly as Liralen Li. Near the end of my time with that community, when the post volume got completely overwhelming and little that was truly bad was tolerated there, I tried an experiment with alt.cyberpunk, which, as a group, promptly and rightly tossed me and several others out into alt.cyberpunk.chatsubo, where, for several years, a bunch of us did a huge story.

Since then I've taken another vacation from the Net. The stories were a few years in the writing. I did some more writing with the Dragon's Inn and then just got tired. Stopped. Now I just MUSH with a few people that I have good conversations with, who know me as a person and, therefore, there are no flames. It's much eaiser on the stomach linings.

I'd also done a few other things as well during that time, including an incredible amount of Shetland Lace spinning and knitting. Soccer, learned it as I went. I started when one of John's teams was going to be short and I was just a body on the field... knocked a guy flying and got yellow carded my first game, and it was true love after that. My instincts after 8 years of fencing (4 at Caltech, 4 at the UW and after) were still to lunge after the ball. I learned.

I've gone through a binge of hairdyeing. Odd colors and all that, mostly blue. Mostly because I've wanted deep cobalt blue hair, but I've come up with something quite different, not just from what I originally envisioned, but also from most of the rest of humanity. People have clamored for pictures. Hope that satisfies 'em. It's a damned bandwidth intensive page, but there are thumbnails for those that I have thumbnail bits for, and just text descriptions of what I didn't have a thumbnail for.

Since then I moved to Colorado at the end of 1998, grown most of the blue out, and am happily working at Xilinx Inc. doing the tools that I loved the most and followed both the code and the hope of doing even better with the tools through two dying companies and one of the hardest decisions I've ever made in my life. Basically a 'leave everything you know for the possibilities' kind of choice. I'm glad I made it. I'm glad it's working out. Better yet, during 2001, we found out that Xilinx has never had a layoff and never intends to, either. Given that *both* my husband and I now work part-time, this is a very good thing indeed.

And the reason we're both working halftime is that we've started on the adventure of having a kid. Jet Maclaine Rostykus is our very new son, who is teaching us a lot about living, life, and joy. If anyone needs a lesson in courage, watch a 10 month old doing his damndest to stand up and walk.

Remember, at the start, I said that I did the common mistake of all geeks and defined myself by what I do? Yah. All the above are the things that I do.

What am I?

Read the rest of the pages and you'll get your own feel, I hope.

hugs and take care,
Liralen Li
Back to Home Page