About this site… and its author [archived] [en]

Note 11.07.2004: My name is Stephanie Booth, I’ve just turned 30 and I am from Lausanne, Switzerland. I will be doing my first year of teaching this coming school year. There is lot of information about myself scattered all around the web, but I think I need a real “About” page! This might satisfy some of your curiosity, though not all, I’m afraid.

Here is a little information about this site and myself. If you are interested in the new additions to the site, check out the Site entries in my weblog. You might also want to have a peek at the FAQ (frequently asked questions).

First time here?

See more than the homepage before you leave!

  • If you are a geek or a web-design newbie: coding section.
  • If you have spent a year abroad or are interested in foreign cultures: India.
  • If you write or like reading: my writings.
  • And if you like pretty things: photographs.

Other than that, the links at the top of the right sidebar on the home page will take you to the latest additions or updates in the site.

Enjoy your visit, and drop me a line when you’re done!

Aims of this site

Within the limited scope of my knowledge and ability, I would like this site to encourage people to make a responsible and constructive use of the powerful tool that is the Internet, particularly in the field of cross-cultural awareness.

  • This is done first by presenting information and thoughts about resources one can use on the Internet (trying to insist on quality sites…), and about the particularity of Cyberspace as a space we can live and interact in. (I have to thank Dr. Suler for his extensive research in the domain: The Psychology of Cyberspace. Although I may refer to him often, I do not work for him!)
  • Second, I have tried to bring my contribution to cross-cultural understanding by giving some information about two countries I am familiar with: Switzerland and India.

At a more personal level, this site is also there for me to share music, books, experiences, and ideas with the people I know (be they “Real Life” or “Cyber” acquaintances). It is also a chance for people (particularly those I have just met) to get to know me a little more.

Who are you?

You might be an old, personal friend of mine. You might have just read a post of mine on usenet or in a forum.

You might have got this url by chance. You might have found it at the bottom of an email I sent you. Maybe you have clicked a link that brought you here.

You might have come here often already, or it may be your first visit.

You might also simply be yourself…

Whoever you are, you are welcome to prowl around. What will interest you here will depend a lot on who you are. Everything on this site interests me (isn’t that a little obvious?), and though I do not expect the whole world to share my concerns, I have the hope that you will find something for yourself here.

Who am I to publish things on the net?

I would like to say once for all that I am no professional, and that the ideas expressed on this site are mine and as such are no final solution to anything or absolute truths. (When my ideas are directly influenced by somebody else’s work, I’ll do my best to give credit.) I just try here to say not too stupid things about some subjects I know a little less badly than the rest.

If you feel attacked by my writings, either personally or ideologically, please let me know about it before going to war or sulking.

Although this is my site, I would like it to be yours too. You are visiting it and using it! You are welcome to make your comments and suggestions – positive AND negative -, be they on the contents or the presentation of these pages. I always long for feedback about my work. Please contribute to keeping this site enjoyable!

Where should you start?

If you already know the place, you’re probably not reading this ; ) – so if you are reading this, here are a suggestion or two for you start wandering around. Of course, I’d love you to visit every single page I’ve sweated over. But I’m afraid you would find it a rather boring and lengthy process…

If you are completely new to the Internet, you might want to know if I have any usable advice for you. If what interests you is my year in India, go straight to my logbook or the India section. You can try out my essay writing and poetry, look at the photographs, or read a few reviews of web sites I have liked. There is more, but that should get you started.

You will find day-to-day (though not daily) information and notes in my weblog.
You can also get more information about this site by continuing to read this page or the FAQ (and indirectly, about myself). Having a look at the aims of this site can also give you inspiration for your travels…

The best thing to do still remains to click somewhere, and click again, and click around until you find something interesting. Then bookmark it! You can also subscribe to my site’s mailing list to receive information about important updates and additions.

What is this site?

I hate to say it like this, but this site started out as what most people would call my “homepage”.

I have tried to keep it intelligent, reasonably good-looking and interesting (as you might have noticed, I am very much concerned about quality on the Internet).

This site is for everybody, and I am afraid it is a rather serious one (I’m not very good at being funny…). The main things you will find here are my weblog, the journal of my year in India, and some of my personal writings.

Is this site finished?

No – this site will always be “under construction”. Like many others, I think that a site on the net which is “finished” very quickly becomes outdated, and might as well be considered dead. I have not put “under construction” signs all over the place, and you will undoubtfully come across missing links (and even missing content!) although I will do my best to keep the site as usable as possible at all times.

You can join my mailing list! if you want to be warned of updates and additions to this site.

Site history

My adventure on the net is a long story of me saying “oh, I’ll never do that, it’s so dumb!” and then doing it a few months later ; ). So after months of saying “I’ll never have a homepage”, I wrote a first version of this site in a couple of hours, one night of spring 1999, and uploaded it.

If I remember well, what triggered my change of mind was receiving yet another “forward-this-message-or-you-will-be-deleted” on ICQ, and spending at least half an hour explaining to the sender of the message (one of my chat-friends) that this kind of message could only be fake, and that forwarding everything that said “forward me!” could only irritate people like me… As it was not the first time I was going through that ordeal, I decided I had better put a few explanations and links proving my point somewhere on the net.

And so my site was born, thanks to Word’s “save as HTML” function and to Xoom. (Note about Xoom: I do not recommend this homepage provider!) In a few months my site grew; I added to it a lot of music in RealAudio format (a great success with my overseas chat-friends), and during my stay in India, a rather informal account of my adventures there (another encouraging success…).

In autumn 1999 Xoom decided that I had violated their Terms of Service and they locked up my site (without warning me, of course). I rehosted it at freedom2surf and slowly built it again, learning a lot in the process.

As I was in India, my first priority was to keep my logbook alive. There was a lot to type, and it took me some time to catch up.
I learnt more HTML and a little PHP and gave birth to version 2 before coming back to Switzerland, where I discovered blogger, started a weblog and created a place for my personal writing.

At the very beginning of January 2000, I purchased the domain “climbtothestars.org” and operated a drastic redesign. I hope you like it!
If you’re visiting with Netscape 4.7 or older, the site won’t appear quite as it should – as I have made extensive use of CSS for the presentation. You might want to have a look at the WaSP browser upgrade initiative.
Now, before anyone screams, this site is viewable in lynx, palm pilot, and will always be readable in your favorite browser. It might just not be as pretty.

I have recently put together the table-less version of this site, and I have almost finished converting the existing pages to the new implementation.


Ok, ok. I also like knowing a little about the people I meet on the net, so here is a little for you…

I am a normal person aged something between 20 and 30, and currently studying french, philosophy and history of religions at Lausanne University. I am specializing in Indian religions (which is the reason of my one-year stay in India: 1999-2000).

I have also been studying Judo (that’s the way I like to put it!) for a few years. The fact that Judo happens to be a spiritual path in Japanese tradition and the fact that I study religions is of course no coincidence.

I have always been interested in playing about with computers, reading (I used to stay up very late as a little girl to be able to finish my book) and writing, and I find human psychology fascinating. But even if I sometimes may seem to know quite a lot, I am in no ways a computer specialist, nor a web designer, nor a psychologist…

If you really have a burning question to ask me about my little self, send me an email!

Why Indian culture?

People often wonder at my interest in Indian culture (and at that choice for my studies). Their questions can usually be brought down to these two:

  1. Why would one try to understand a culture so different from his/hers? What is the point? What is the use? Why not concentrate on one’s own culture?
  2. Why am I studying Indian culture? Why not African, Brazilian, Eskimo or Martian culture?

Short answers:

  1. Getting to know an alien culture ultimately makes you more aware of what is specific toyour own culture. It helps you understand your culture and others better.
  2. It is a coalition between my personal interests and the studies available in my university.

Long answers (you might want to skip this!):

  1. When you get to know a culture that is not yours, you come in contact with ways of living and thinking that are no way like yours. That is particularly noticeable when you actually try tolive in a different culture: you suddenly realize that many things that you thought obvious ornormal are not at all considered thus in your “host” culture – and vice-versa. That is what is called a culture shock.

    The process of getting to know another culture helps you open up your mind, and through encounters with difference encourages you to see how much of our lives isculture-dependant. Hopefully, this new “openness” leads to a better understanding of oneself and others, and a greater acceptance of what others are.

  2. My interest for Indian culture really came as I was studying it. The more I learnt, themore interesting it became, to the extent of deciding me to spend nearly a year in India. But why did I choose this subject in first place?

    My regular practice of Judo with a teacher who endeavours to transmit a whole culture (and not only a sport) to his students had reactivated my dormant curiosity about east-asian thought and spirituality. So after having chosen history of religions as a subject for my new studies, I selected a specialization to match my interests at the best.
    It is necessary to know about zen buddhism to understand Japanese martial arts, and as buddhism originated in India, the choice was quite logical. But had I had the option of studying Japanese or Chinese religions instead of Indian, I would most certainly have taken it (though I have no regrets whatsoever…).

    And for those of you who are wondering why I chose to take up Judo in the first place, well… I was out of shape, and took a look at the university sports program. What people call the “philosophy” of martial arts had interested me at times (particularly Aikido). The only martial art that fitted in my heavy science student’s schedule (I was doing chemistry at that time – another story) was Judo. I wasn’t very excited about it, but I decided to give it a try. I quickly discovered that the teacher was exceptional – and Judo happened to suit me very well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *