December 1997 /
Random Profile: Lynda Lester, SCD
Random Profile spotlights a stochastically chosen staff member every
other month. This time we profile
Lynda Lester, a writer/editor/Web
developer in SCD's Digital Information Group.
Fargo, North Dakota. "Yah, sure," she laughs. "It was a fabulous place to grow up. Good air, good education, stable, clean, and the most beautiful endless sky in the world. It made me nonneurotic. After living there, I could be as manic as I wanted and still survive."
Best-kept youthful secret:
Lynda was a Camp Fire Girl until she was 23--a card-carrying member from ages 9 to 18 and a counselor for five years thereafter. "Scouts are heretics. Camp Fire is the true religion. I'm kidding."
What she does at NCAR:
Lynda's been a technical writer and editor in various SCD capacities since 1990. She designs and edits the division's online periodical,
which she launched two years ago. Recently Lynda was part of a team that upgraded the public exhibits next to the SCD computer room (see photo). She also participated as an exhibitor and staff member at the Supercomputing '95, '96, and '97 conferences. For the '96 meeting, she produced a 16-minute multimedia slide show, "The Making of SC'96."
What she enjoys about her work:
"My favorite activities are interviewing people, writing articles, and working on the Web. The Web's like a magic mirror--it's thrilling and seductive and fun, and just when you think you're safe (Jaws theme here) all the tools and paradigms change. It's stimulating to be in such a state of rapid development."
What she's reading right now:
Out of Control, by Wired executive editor Kevin Kelly, a look at how distributed systems are affecting the evolution of everything. "Fractal decentralization is a metaphor for the Web, the future of SCD, scientific research, supercomputing, society. Everything you do in a network is distributed, unique, focused, and small--but it's all interconnected, so you have access to fabulous tools and abilities of other people and places. You don't have to draw only from your own resources. Wondrous things can occur, things you could never possibly imagine."
Past professional life:
Itinerant presswoman. Lynda spent the 1970s doing typesetting and layout at an assortment of newspapers and magazines, starting with the Boulder Daily Camera and including The Town and Country Review, a Boulder-based weekly; the Edmond (Oklahoma) Sun-Booster; the West Fargo Pioneer-Midweek Eagle; the Scottsdale (Arizona) Progress; and the Santa Monica (California) Evening Outlook. Lynda was also an editor and proofreader for book publishers Penguin and J.P. Tarcher, both in Los Angeles, and she ran her own typesetting business in Boulder for eight years. Before joining NCAR, Lynda made the leap into science and technology with a year and a half at Ball Aerospace.
Biggest pet peeve:
The decline in editorial standards. "Do you realize that Rolling Stone is now using hyphens instead of em dashes? Standards are going to the dogs, and you feel like nobody notices. It makes me crazy. It turns me from a mild-mannered reporter into a heat-seeking death ray."
Former alter ego:
Straight Deadhead. "I recognized the Grateful Dead as soon as I heard one of their albums for the first time. Some people have to go to a concert--all I had to do was listen to 'Dark Star' and I 'understood.' Rapturous." Lynda saw the seminal rock group 58 times from her first show (Folsom Field, 2 September 1972) to her last (McNichols Arena, 1 December 1994). "And I didn't do drugs, either. People always assume that, but it's not true. What the Grateful Dead are really about is consciousness, and you don't need drugs for that."
Latest musical passion:
(Latin for green earth), a musical style that has blossomed in
the past 20 years. "It's composed, syncopated piano music that contains
both European romantic elements and New World elements--ragtime, Latin
American, jazz. . . . It's an amazing cultural phenomenon. There's
something emerging from this--a new American art form." Lynda follows
several Terra Verde composers closely through house concerts, where 30
to 50 people assemble in a private home for an intimate performance,
"kind of like the old Walt Roberts tradition." [The founding NCAR
director held regular gatherings at his home for friends and colleagues
who enjoyed classical music.]
Color you'll most likely find her wearing:
Black. "It's a power color--not ostentatious, but strong. Plus, it's kind of manic."
Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall