This is my interview with another Stefanie. This Stefanie is a technical writer. She has a kitty. That means she is cool. Thanks for letting me interview you, Stefanie.
Where do you live?
I live in a San Diego, California
What is it like where you live?
Well, it’s San Diego, so there’s a lot of sunshine and fun things to do outdoors. One of the neat things about San Diego is that it’s a short drive to so many different types of places. You can go to the beach or to the desert or the mountains. If you like city stuff you can drive to Los Angeles, or just take the trolley down to Mexico. I like it here because there’s always something to do, even if it’s just taking a walk around Balboa Park.
Have you always lived in San Diego?
I’ve been here since I was 8, so it feels like I’ve always lived here. Before San Diego, I lived in Ohio, New Mexico, and lots of little towns in California. San Diego has the best burritos, though, so it’s my favorite.
You have a cat named Goober. What does Goober look like? Is Goober goofy?
Goober is an orange tabby. He’s a little bit fat, he has freckles on his nose, and he’s blind in one eye. I think he’s goofy because he doesn’t like catnip or laser pointers, and he has to think about things a very long time before he decides to do them. He’s very calm, and when he’s upset or scared he doesn’t hiss or meow, he just blinks a lot and licks his lips. I named him after Goober Pyle, a character on an old TV show.
What is it like being a technical writer?
It’s a really interesting job. I write user manuals for lots of different things, like software and products you use in your home. To write the manuals, the first thing I need to do is learn about the product. I usually get the software or widget or whatever it is I’m writing about, then I play with it and figure out how it works. After that, I still have a lot of questions; I make a list of them and email the list to the people who made the widget I’m writing about. Sometimes it seems like the hardest part of my job is getting people to answer those questions.After I learn about the product, I start writing the manual and making it look the way I want. To make a good manual, you have to make sure people can quickly find the information they want. For example, if you look in a dictionary, you’ll see that the words being defined are printed in bold. (Imagine how confusing the dictionary would be if they didn’t do that!) That is a kind of formatting, and technical writers use formatting a lot to help people to pick out the parts of a manual that are useful to them. (We know that manuals are kind of boring, so we try to make them as painless as possible to use.) The next time you see a user manual, take a closer look at it and think about how the writer used words, pictures, and formatting together to help you get the information you need.I like technical writing because I enjoy learning how things work and I like helping people understand things.
What happens to you when you eat sugar? A lot of sugar?
I feel good for a while, and then I feel like I need a nap. But here’s an even worse problem: when I was a kid if I ate a lot of chocolate I’d get a migraine headache for a few hours and then I’d throw up. That happened many, many times before we figured out that it was chocolate that was making me sick. I was sad about it (especially at Halloween), but my parents were relieved that it wasn’t something serious like a brain tumor.
What type of clock do you like better? Analog or digital?
I like old fashioned things better than I like new things, so I prefer analog.
Do you like to travel? What is your favorite place to travel to?
I like to travel, but I never seem to have the time. I like to go to strange and silly places rather than glamorous or exotic places. There is a man in Holly Springs, Mississippi who says he’s the biggest Elvis fan ever. For five dollars he’ll give you a tour of all the Elvis stuff in his house. It’s a very strange house and he’s a very odd man, but it’s one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been.
What is the worst thing you ever did as a kid?
I was pretty well-behaved as a kid, so I’m going to tell you the first thing I remember feeling really bad about: When I was about kid I found a caterpillar while I was riding my bike. I thought it was really cute and fuzzy and I wanted to keep it as a pet, so I put it in a sock and stuck it in my bike basket. By the time I got home, I’d forgotten all about it, and I didn’t remember until a few days later when I went to ride my bike again and saw the sock in the basket.
The caterpillar had died, of course, and I felt like the biggest jerk in the world. I always thought that only mean people and bullies hurt animals, and here I’d just killed a harmless little caterpillar. I think it was the first (but not the last) time I felt really ashamed about something I’d done.
What is you favorite room in your house?
The living room, definitely. It has lots of windows and sunlight, and a view of the Chinese Elm tree in the front yard, and it’s a great place to just sit and relax. The last place I lived had a view of my neighbor’s bathroom, so this is a big improvement.
What is your favorite color? Why?
I like dark, earthy colors like brown and green. Forest green is my favorite; it’s soothing, deep, and rich. I think it’s a very relaxing color.
What is your favorite type of non-mammal?
I like hummingbirds. They have a really cute, squeaky kind of song, and they sound like giant bees when they fly close to your ear.