Category Archives: STC

Posts related to Society for Technical Communication

I’m Back (again)!

Wasn’t I just in the States? Yeah, this is the busy conference season!  This time it was the Summit, STC’s big annual conference. This year STC returned to Dallas for what, IMO, was the best conference yet. Venue, speakers, sessions, attendees… everything was brilliant. The Summit also marked the end of my three-year term on the Board of Directors, and it was with a feeling of accomplishment (and a sign of relief) that I handed the reigns over to the new directors. Once off the Board, I actually had time to attend some sessions, and didn’t hit a single dud. From the latest usability data to Don Moyer’s hysterical napkin doodles, each session I attended was professionally delivered and rich in content. (Well, I can’t speak for my own sessions, but…)

While in Dallas, I paid homage to the infamous grassy knoll and visited the memorial.  Cheek and jowl with Dealy Plaza and the Book Depository is a small cry for tolerance: the Holocaust Museum. Yes, Dallas has one. It is small but very well done, and, I’m happy to report, well-attended.

In addition to the conference itself and seeing friends and colleagues from all over, one Dallas highlight was Bruce, the manager of Wild Bill’s.  Bruce spent close to two hour fitting me in the perfect boots for my oh-so-troublesome feet. Complete with boots and a hat, I got in touch with my Inner Cowgirl.   

Then it was on to Seattle for some quality time with my folks. Once again, I brought the good weather to Seattle, and we made the most of it. As usual, I stuffed myself on all the local goodies. In addition to family, I got to see a few friends from high school (yes, I had friends in high school), visit the zoo (Seattle’s Woodland Park is one of the best zoos in the country), walk around Seward Park, visit the International District (aka Chinatown) with my cousin, who introduced me to boba tea (aka bubble tea).

It’s that time again: Yes, Eurovision is almost upon us! Check out the update.

Walking with Cows

Close encounters of the bovine kind: From this morning.

Dallas, here I come: Heading off to the STC Summit tomorrow.  Yee-haw!  I guess the cows were appropriate…

Rock Star

J’lem and back in a day: I survived the big shlepp down to Jerusalem for the Technical Communicators Conference sponsored jointly by Techshoret and STC Israel.  Turns out that about 20% of the attendees were former students, and it was really fun catching up with people. My keynote didn’t ruffle any feathers and, hopefully, made a few people think a bit more about professional development. Saw an excellent panel discussion on professional accountability in TC, chaired by a local Microsoft tech pubs manager (and client).

The trip down and back is long and exhausting, and the spring allergy season meant that I was on antihistimines. Wanted to sleep the whole next day!

Best joke of the day:

An American kid attends a Shabbat dinner in Jerusalem, where he is clearly the least religious person present. “You’re not very observant!” says his host.

“Why do you say that?” asks the kid. “Is it because I’m not wearing a kipa?”

“No,” replies his host, “it’s because your tie is in the soup.”

The Dues Debate

Time to renew your STC membership:  Here we are in December, and I have not yet renewed my STC membership.  Don’t get me wrong — I don’t intend for one moment to let it lapse.  I consider STC the key player in the development of our profession, and I’m in this for the long haul.  The only thing that has kept me from renewing is that I’m still debating: do I go for the less expensive, no-frills membership, or do I pay a bit more and get a lot more with a Gold membership?  The truth is, I function at a different economic scale than many of my North American colleagues.  I make a lot less, and my expenses can be a lot more.  We pay higher taxes.  Durable goods are waaaay more expensive.  Gas?  Last time I crunched the numbers and converted liters to gallons and shekels to dollars, it came out to about $6.80 a gallon.  (But don’t feel too sorry for me — we have medical care!)  And while I dearly wish that I could echo Hedke’s “I’ve made a million through STC” claim, I can’t.  But I have made substantial business contacts and can directly attribute at least 20% of my annual income to STC-related activities. And that certainly makes the difference between a basic “no frills” membership and the Gold membership seem like chicken feed.  STC members now get so much information and enjoy so much input compared to the “old” STC; go back even six years ago and you’ll see an astonishing difference.  The current office had inherited a real mess; they’ve spent the last few years overhalling infrastructure, getting us kosher with legal issues, and generally, well, running things like a real NPO.  Unfortunately, the economic crisis has many members blindsided, and they don’t understand why they can’t get the same stuff at the same price.  To them, I say:

  • This office and this board have done everything possible to cut expenses to the bone, while still providing quality services.
  • The Society is now being run at a more professional level (issues of legal compliance, necessary computer systems and software, and quality of staff).
  • The webinars and certificate courses are new. 
  • STC Notebook is new.
  • The diverse use of social media is new.
  • The complete overhaul of the conference is new.

The decisions about dues were made with much thought and research.  Splitting chapter dues out made sense based on the number of members who are not able to participate in a geographical chapter.  We knew we would get backlash, but we knew that this was the right thing to do.  It boils down to this: are you serious enough about your profession to invest?  To support the single most significant organization that is working to educate the world about the role and value of TC, while helping define our profession and train the next generation?  To take advantage of top-notch publications, webinars, courses, conferences? 

And, Hedke, from your mouth to God’s ears, make a million bucks?

OK.  Gold it is.

Too Close to Home

Farewell, Derek:  STC colleague Derek Torres of Paris passed away this week from the H1N1 virus. Derek was very active in STC, helping to form the Europe SIG. I met Derek at several European conferences and I had a lot of respect for him, both as a technical communicator and as an all-around nice guy.

I know several other people who have had the virus, but recovered. It makes every cough and minor symptom seem that much scarier.

A Post-conference Pause

Seattle sunshine: It is a weak and watery sunlight compared to the dazzle of home, but it is sun, and I’ll take it.  After the horrible heat and humidity of Atlanta, the cool air here feels lovely.

The conference was great, but intense.  Meetings, meetings, receptions, more meetings, conference sessions, more meetings.  There were several days in a row where I never stepped foot outside the hotel.  Stay tuned for conference pics!

Going, Going, Gone

stc-seeme-195x85One foot out the door:  Bags are packed and I’m outa here.  Catch y’all Stateside!

Jet Lag Jitters

I’m back: Sorry about the long silence.  I wasn’t exactly off the grid, but too darn busy to update y’all on my trip.  Here’s the ten shekel tour:

  • Great visit with family.  Crammed an amazing amount into a very short time.  Seattle weather remained beautiful the whole time. 
  • Got to see three classmates from high school.  All three women were instantly recognizable, and are leading interesting, busy lives.  And, of course, all looked fabulous!  We had a great evening a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant.
  • Discovered the joys of PetCo and spent way  too much money there on the mutt.
  • No snags in security, luggage, tickets, special meals, or anything!  Astonishing!  Six flights and nothing went missing, nothing got screwed up…  Of course, I sat next to some seriously hygiene-challenged French folk on, davka, the long legs.  They have us beat at wine and cheese, but we sure as hell can teach them a thing or two about deodorant.  Maybe it is time for the airlines to start screening for aroma…
  • Meetings were good.  Good chance to get to know some of the new board members.  Hard work and serious concentration was broken up with fun dinners together.  The hotel seemed to have a surplus of asparagus, because we were served it at every meal except breakfast.  No complaints here!

So now I am back home and all is well.  Terri, being a dog, doesn’t know how to hold a grudge.  She flung herself into my arms.  I can tell that Cathy spoiled her, as she filled out a bit on all those tasty treats!  She looks happy and prosperous.  The same cannot be said for Nadine, who is sporting even more bald patches.  But she spent a scant hour under the bed when I brought her home, and then decided that she was too pissed off to sulk.  She emerged, demanded tuna, hissed at Terri, and complained at great length about having to share living space with a stupid hairy dog.

Terri and I were happy to see Spike (that’s what I’ve dubbed the retarded shefan selah that lives by itself a little ways away from the main colony).  Spike was out there on his rock this morning, ridiculously close to the walking path.  He tried his ninja invisibility trick, but Terri scrambled up the rocks and Spike had to make an ignominious exit into his den.  I find it strangely comforting to know that other species have their bell curve problems!

After two days, I’m still pretty spacy and tired.  I find myself falling asleep at odd times and in odd places.

BoD Pics

Well, aren’t we a charming group: Part of serving on the board of directors of a large NPO is posing for endless group photos.  Here is the new group.  Once again, it’s me in the Land of the Giants:

And here we are in our banquet finery:

Of course, those formal poses don’t do us justice. The truth is that we look more like this (esp. as this was the outgoing 2007–2008 BoD).  That’s my pal John partially wrapped in my shawl.

I’m a jeans and T-shirt kinda gal—you can count on me to pick comfort over glamour. So it is a big effort for me to get scrubbed up and into a dress. Most of my fellow board members got a big kick out of seeing me attempting to pass as sophisticated, but at least I remembered to remove the price tag from the dress…  (And no, the photographer was not at fault in making me look so exhausted.  That is the actual result of several weeks of excruciating back pain, lack of sleep, traveling, long meetings, etc.)

What you can’t see is a large and hideous white corsage (talk about tacky reminders of high school proms), which is like a prickly manacle on my left wrist.  But you do get a glimpse of the fabulous satin evening bag that I found for $5.00 at that bizarre Jamaican discount store in Philly (the place where the Jamaican sales clerk was speaking Hebrew on the phone).

Terri update: Girly-dog is doing just fine.  She seems to enjoy green grapes (she plays soccer with one for a few minutes before eating it).  Two long walks today, a good appetite, and lots of cuddling.  It almost makes up for the stressful insanity of dealing with our mortgage bank.  Don’t ask…

Why you “shouldn’t” use quotation marks:  I always warn my students that putting “things” in quotes is a sure way to make people think that you’re doing a nudge-nudge-wink-wink with the quoted term.  This sign really proves the point.  Hat tip to former student (and now colleague) IT.

Adios, Philly!

The end of another great Summit:  We wrap things up in Philly on Wednesday evening.  I have the bad luck of pulling one of the deadliest conference time slots: after lunch on the last day.  It is the last educational session (before the closing session), and many people have already left or are off doing last-minute shopping or sight-seeing.  I expect about 15 people in my workshop, and am tickled pink when I end up with SRO.  People are sitting on the floor, standing at the back, and crowded in and around the doorway and out into the hall.  For once, all the AV works perfectly, and it is a lively session that generates a few more usability enthusiasts.  

The conference experience is completely different for board members.  For example, I only manage to take in two sessions the whole time.  Most of my time is spent working on board-related stuff (meetings, meetings, meetings, meetings, interspersed with shmoozing the trade show vendors).  Every time I step outside my hotel room, I have to be “on”—ready to field questions and chat with members, who can clearly identify me by my tag.  I’m not complaining.  It is just that I don’t get to actually attend or enjoy much of the conference.  But finally it is all over and I can head to the train station.

It is raining and the cabs have disappeared.  One of the hotel bellmen takes pity on me and drives me to the station in the town car, plus helps me manhandle my luggage inside.  With my back in full flare-up mode like this, I dare not lift anything heavier than a paperback!  The Red Caps inside take over, and I am comfortably seated on the train in ample time.  And how.  We end up sitting there for almost an hour while they try to fix the brakes.  Eventually, we pull out and arrive at Penn Station in NYC about 50 minutes late.

At this point, all the Red Caps have vanished, so two other passengers help me with my luggage.  I end up taking the wrong exit out of Penn Station, and find that I have to get the luggage up and down several flights of stairs to get to the taxi stand.  The place is deserted, but a large, drunken street person insists on helping me, and seriously mauls my luggage in his attempt to get it up the stairs.  He actually ends up helping me right to a cab, and I’m happy to hand him some money.  

Looking forward to a low-key day or two.