The Frankie Roberto Interview

2 Conversations

The Frankie Roberto<br/>

Frankie meets... Amy Pawloski

Amy Pawloski
on epilepsy, insider-jokes and being a 'paper lady'.

The first thing you might notice upon meeting Amy Pawloski on h2g2 is that her nickname contains the comments aka 'paper lady'. Does this mean that she is made of paper? I let Amy explain...

'Once upon a time, there was a Radish1 that I really, really wanted to attend, but it was in Leeds, and I live nowhere near there. I whined a bit, and then Amy the Ant gave me her email address, so I did a hurried sketch, scanned it and sent it to her, so I could be there in paper, if not in person. Afterwards, I left Wumbeevil a message asking about the meet which began something like 'yes, it's me, the paper lady'. We chatted a while, and I mentioned that I liked puns. Later, on another thread, I complained about the caption on the photo of 'paper me' in the men's room, and Wumbeevil responded that he thought that 'a certain paper lady liked puns'. I decided that I liked 'paper lady', but that I wanted to keep my name...'

...And if you want to see those photos you can see them here. The meetups are one of the most fun parts of h2g2, it's great fun getting to see people in real life who you have only spoken to online. Having missed out on the Radish, I ask if she has been to any meetups since or is planning on going to any.

'I haven't been to any meetups but I really, really want to. I'm sure you've seen my infamous 'I wanna go' (I'm thinking of
copyrighting the phrase, like Dragonfly has done with 'YAY!!!'). I've sent better version of the picture of me to
people who are printing it out for the MMM2 and SMEG3. I'm
kind of thinking of going to the Denver meet, but it's
in March, and my work probation doesn't end until late
April, so I don't really want to rock the boat too
much. Plus, I don't know the folks that are going very
well. I'm on the list of people interested in going
to the Pennsylvania meet, which will be sometime this
summer. Before the planning (what little there has been so
far) started, there were some italics that expressed
an interest, and the person I've known the
longest, Amy† is from Pennsylvania, although she's going to college (uni) in Virginia. So
I would get to meet more people at the Pennsylvania
meet. I'd love to go to London, of course, but
that's not possible this year. I haven't even spoken
with Tom, my husband, about going to meets sometime,
although I did, with the help of Tac, tom, and Light,
finally get him to join h2g2 on November 6th.'

People find their way on to h2g2 through many different routes. Some, like Amy's husband, are persuaded by friends, others got here from hearing Douglas Adams's constant plugging of the site when it was just starting. I ask Amy how she found her way onto the site.

'Well, I am on the computer all day at work, but
sometimes I have absolutely nothing to do. Since
we have internet access at the office, I started
surfing around when I was bored, once I noticed that
my co-workers did the same. I found all sorts of
sites, A bunch on Heinlein, Galaxy Online (the
online version of the science fiction magazine), A
Michael Whelan site, I even did my apartment hunting during slack times at work. Then, one day in July (the day after my husband
and I signed the lease on the apartment, and the day
before our fourth wedding anniversary), I entered
'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' into my search
engine, went through the list, and bookmarked a bunch
of pages before checking them out. Of course, the
sites were arranged alphabetically, so there was one
site ahead of h2g2, since the site name starts with BBC. I looked
at the first site, and was disappointed. I looked at
the second site and the rest is history. I've still
got all those other sites on the list, but I've never
bothered to go to them...'

Amy's latest entry, which has just been recommended and is currently going through the sub-editing process, is on Epilepsy. She explains to me why she wrote the entry.

'When I was nineteen, I had a seizure in the back seat of the
car during a long trip. Ten days later, just when my
tongue, which I'd bitten badly, was almost healed, I
had another while at work, annoyingly biting my tongue in the
exact same place. So, when I started college a few months later, and the main
research paper for the English class came up, I was
naturally interested in epilepsy and decided to write about how epilepsy has been
seen throughout the ages, and why. Then on h2g2 someone, somewhere, mentioned that their child had epilepsy, and was looking for information. I found the paper I had written, and thought it would be
perfect for the Guide. However, there was a problem.
The paper was really old and I didn't have the disk for it
anymore. Even if I did, it wouldn't have done me
any good, because it was one of the last of those big five inch
floppies. So I asked if anyone would be interested
if I were to retype it all out. When I got some
positive answers, I discovered another, bigger,
problem. My works cited page had fallen off, and was
lost forever. Just a few days prior I had told
my husband 'Oh, no, I don't need my sources for
that anymore, go ahead and toss them!' Luckily, I
had done parenthetical citation, so I had author names
and enough of the titles to find the full titles. I
only had to get rid of one author, and find another
translation of Hippocrates, which took a few weeks. The entry is
quite similar to the paper I wrote for college, with
some very important additions. At the advice of people
in the Peer Review thread, I added sections on causes, on
treatments and how epilepsy affects everyday life. The
bit on first aid was my own idea. It's a much better
entry now.'

Amy is a prominent poster on h2g2, being in the top-ten list of Researchers with the highest number of postings when I do a quick check. I ask how she feels about her big network of friends on h2g2.

'I'm thrilled! I don't make friends very easily in real life, because
I'm very shy. And when I do, they don't often become
close friends, because I generally avoid talking about
myself (hard to believe, I know). It's a lot easier
to talk about myself on h2g2, probably because I know
I can't be interrupted mid-sentence, and if I'm
misunderstood, I'll have a chance to explain myself.
But as any of my h2g2 friends that I've
spoken to on the phone will tell you, it's pretty
hard to get anything out of me. The only thing that I don't like about h2g2 is that
it's very unlikely I'll be able to meet the friends I have made here in real life.
Most of my friends are in the UK, and the few that
aren't are still not even in my timezone.'

It's lucky that on h2g2 timezones don't matter too much, and it's always nice to read new replies to the posts you have written that have appeared during the night (though some of us stay up ridiculously late anyway). Like many enviable Researchers on h2g2, Amy has her own fan club thread. I'm jealous, so I ask her how it started.

'Amy† started the
club after hints from me. In a thread somewhere, someone else said they didn't have a fan club, and I said I didn't either.
If you read any of the early backlog, you'll see
that after that I went and fetched some of the people myself.
Amy the Ant was being hit especially hard,
health-wise, however, and I didn't want to bug her. When that
bout was over, I still really wanted her to come, but
I didn't want to fetch her myself, as I had decided by
that time that I wouldn't do that anymore. So I
hinted (a bit too subtly, I had to say
outright what I wanted in the end) to 2legs that I would
appreciate it if he'd tell Amy about the club. So
she joined... But a lot of the people have come on
their own, and a couple of them were people I hadn't
talked to before. One person who joined was even
someone who I had talked with the night before.'

Amy also has a keepership (mine is Smartie tube lids), being the keeper of inside-jokes. I ask her if she can tell me any.

'Well, there's only two that I'm Keeping right now,
officially, and they're both from the Questions Only
thread. The first has to do with my being paper, my arm
tore off. The other is about the question persecutors.
I'll give you a few 'unofficial' ones as well.
When I'm on the phone to friends, we often use the term
'Pod-itis', which is being hint-proof, my hints tend to be over-subtle, leading to my
friends contracting Pod-itis.'

Frankie Roberto

Next Week: Abi, the friendly Deputy Community Editor talks about her job at the Towers.

to this series of Interviews and be notified when each interview is

The Frankie Roberto Interview index

29.11.01. Front Page

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1The 'radish' is the nickname that was given to the Leeds meet-up of 25 August, 20012Manchester Mini-Meet 23rd November 20013 Scottish xMas Extravaganza Glasgow 2001

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