Olga Werby

Olga Werby, Ed.D., has a Doctorate from U.C. Berkeley with a focus on designing online learning experiences. She has a Master's degree from U.C. Berkeley in Education of Math, Science, and Technology. She has been creating computer-based projects since 1981 with organizations such as NASA (where she worked on the Pioneer Venus project), Addison-Wesley, and the Princeton Review. She conceived, designed, and illustrated the award-winning "Field Trips" series of programs distributed by Sunburst Communications. Olga has a B.A. degree in Mathematics and Astrophysics from Columbia University. Olga currently teaches interaction design and cognitive theory at the American University in Paris and the University of California at Berkeley Extension Program. She was part of the faculty of San Francisco State University's Multimedia Studies Program, the Bay Area Video Coalition, and the campus of Apple Computers. Olga is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education. She also holds a California teaching credential and is part of the San Francisco Unified School District where she often tests science-related curriculum materials in public elementary and middle schools.

The Wrong Person, at the Wrong Time, Doing the Wrong Thing

Calvin Klein Ad in Times Square

It happens to everyone from time to time — you are just not the ONE. Let me tell you a little story from way back in my high school. I skipped the eighth grade and most of the seventh during my family’s relocation from USSR to New York City. I went directly into high school — the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan. It was really an amazing school — tons of art instruction and a good academic program. The problem is that I’m horrible at languages and really couldn’t put two English words together, much less spell my name. This was the start of very confusing times. I’ve managed to talk my way into 10th-grade art curriculum. No idea how other than I didn’t like my classes, but I didn’t figure out that I was a grade ahead for almost a year. I struggled to answer questions in science and math — I knew the material but had no words to demonstrate what I knew. I had no words to speak my mind. I had to learn a whole new notation for showing geometric proofs. I was finally put into an ESL class — English as a…

New Book: Mirror Shards

Mirror Shards Cover

I found the pandemic not very conducing to marketing or facing the world in more public ways. I did write a lot and have several books in various stages of readiness. But there was one story I wanted to enter into a competition (the books I’ve entered last year, God of Small Affairs, placed as a semi-finalist). So after sitting on Mirror Shards for almost a year, I’m finally releasing this book into the world. Here’s a description and if you click on the title above, you will get to the first few chapters hoasted on my site. Trapped Between Infinite Possible Realities Hig is a disabled kid with a loving mom, a baby sister, a distant father, and a doting uncle, Charlie. On a trip to a county fair, the family encounters a mysterious “Mirror of Wishes” booth that leads to radical, unexplained life changes, including Hig’s uncle’s abrupt disappearance and his mother’s untimely death. One of the changes is Hig’s miraculous cure—his congenital spina bifida is gone and he no longer needs a wheelchair. As Hig grows up, he continuously frets about what really happened but is too scared to actually look for answers to the mystery. Years…

Of Marshmallows and Masks

Marshmallow Test

Most everyone in my family, most of our friends, and a lot of our neighbors have received at least one COVID vaccination shot! It is starting to feel like this year-long nightmare is winding down. And we are lucky to live in the right country and in the right state and in the right city where things are likely to get back to normal sooner rather than later. No one can deny that this had been a very difficult year. But part of the difficulty had been our own behavior. It is quite possible that if we heeded the science and recommendations from the doctors (not the politicians), we would have been here sooner with fewer lives lost and less devastation to our economy. So why didn’t we do all we could to arrest the progress of this devastating disease? Why did we take stupid risks? Why did some people refuse to wear masks and self-isolate? Well, consider the Marshmallow Test. In brief, a Marshmallow Test is an experiment that tries to measure the delayed gratification quotient. A child is given a marshmallow (or any other small but highly desired reward) and asked to wait alone in the room with…

Spring Back, an American Gothic

Spring in Goscieradz by Leon Wyczółkowski 1933

It’s spring. It’s the anniversary of our collective isolation. And for the first time, it feels like things might be looking better, like we might be able to put this whole year behind us…spring back to normal. We are reaching towards a resolution point of this gothic horror narrative. Gothic Fiction To survive, I’ve read and written a lot this year (I haven’t published much, but that takes a different sort of energy of which I apparently don’t have any). The subject matter of my readings has varied widely — science fiction, science, horror, collected stories, Japanese literature, old fiction and contemporary writings (I will make a few recommendations below). My writing has been quite different too. I wrote a bunch of short stories that were more horror than sci-fi. I wrote a middle-grade novel about demon godparents (and Christopher, my life and writing partner, is in the process of rewriting it — our stories are better when we write together). I’ve written a novel about alternate histories (many different possible timelines that allow the main character to escape one fate in preference for another). I’m about two-thirds into writing the origin story of Baba Yaga — a one-legged daughter…

Thoughts on Love

dog adopts kittens ABC 15 Arizona

What’s the main difference between humans and other animal mothers? It’s a strange question, I know. But give it some thought. We all watch videos of cute baby animals and their mothers online. We have all seen cross-species “adoptions” — ducks and that raise kittens; dogs that nurture bunnies; even lions that take in baby antelopes to rear. Humans obviously do that too — we love kittens and puppies and other baby animals and routinely raise them and talk about our pets as if they are our children. But there is a difference. And no, it’s not that other animals don’t tend to take on pets — the luxury of sharing food and shelter in the wild is just that — a luxury. There is something else. We have two grown sons, both in graduate schools. Clearly adults, right? But my emotions towards them are the same as when they were but babies. I don’t see adult men, I see the entire history of their lives before me. I hear the cries they made when they fell and got hurt or when they were sick and not feeling well. I remember their outrageous fibs and reasons why they can’t eat…


Aurora Borealis

Jolabokaflod is Icelandic for “Christmas Book Flood” and it is a very old and wonderful Icelandic holiday tradition. Basically, in Iceland, books are considered the perfect gifts for the holidays. In this small northern country full of Aurora Borealis winter skies, there are five books published each year for every thousand Icelanders! There are only 319,000 people who live on this far north island (about one-third of the population of San Francisco), so that makes 1,595 new books per year. Hardback books are given as presents and are read through the night of Christmas. Reading is the national sport of Iceland. As a reader, I can’t imagine a more wonderful tradition! As a writer, I want my books in the hands of all those voracious readers. (Did I ever mention that one of my stories partly takes place in Iceland? “Pigeon”, check it out.) Due to the COVID pandemic, most of us will be pretty isolated these holidays. There is a strong chance that those who socialized heavily for Thanksgiving will be paying the price for that this Hanukkah, Festivus, Christmas, and New Year. CDC issued an advisory that those who spent eating turkey outside of their “pandemic bubble” should…