April 30, 2001

I want....


Thereís a great quote, I donít know by whom, that says that part of the human condition is a vague unsatisfied yearning, though we never know for what. At any rate, itís certainly part of the Dichroic condition. In that spirit, here are a list of some of the things I would like to have in my life. (Or you could ignore that first sentence and just call me greedy.) A lot of these will stay "unsatisfied yearnings"; some may be contradictory, while some would interfere too much with other things I value more.

  • I want a Proper Job -- not just one that pays the bills or even one that keeps me interested most of the time, but a true calling.
  • I want a Proper Job (see above) that leaves me plenty of time for the rest of my life.
  • I want to be fast -- running, rowing, mountain biking.
  • I want to have natural endurance. (T does.)
  • I want to have great clothes, or rather, to have my clothes look great on me.
  • I want the ability to enjoy all of the things I like while Iím doing them, as well as in anticipation or retrospect.
  • I want a self-cleaning house.
  • I want yards and yards of (full) bookshelves.
  • I want a husband who is articulate and complimentary, and who engages in spontaneous romantic gestures (while still, of course, having all of Tís virtues).
  • I want effortless and comfortable style, in my clothes and my surroundings.
  • I want to travel often, and to interesting (but in the Chinese-history sense) places.
  • I want to be able to drink a beer or glass of wine (or two) and still get up early, feeling good, the next morning.
  • I want to be able to not just function but feel good, on five hours of sleep.
  • I want time (and money) to fly more often. On second thought, Iíd like my own plane, too, instead of renting.
  • I want to achieve, not serenity so much, but a more frequent appreciation of all of the good things I do have.

And I think I had better stop now, having realized that this could go on until Diaryland runs out o=f server space. I may update later, if I decide Iíve missed anything important -- or maybe, in the spirit of that last entry, Iíll write an "I already have" post.

Posted by dichroic at 04:31 PM

back to work


We had a fairly light practice today -- Monday is distance day, but we only did 2 20-minute pieces at 60%. Even I can do that, even after a week off. Coach DI wasnít there, so practice was entirely run by Yosemite Sam. Heís known for being terrible at picking the boat -- who sits in which seat, that is, -- but did a good job today. For the first half of practice, Queue was coxing. She is nowhere close to coxswain-sized, but is very good at it. I have a lot of coxing experience myself, and Iím not even sure how she picked up on some of the things she commented on. After that she switched to stroke -- for some reason, I had a bit of trouble following her today. Anyway, I got out of practice today with a mere two blisters, plus assorted skin peeling off calluses.

Yesterdayís classes went well, and everyone who showed up Saturday, showed up again, which is a good start. One woman in the Intermediate class said, "Itís a nice change to wake up early on a weekend, come out here, and not get yelled at." I do hope this doesnít mean she thinks weíre going to go easy on the class, because if so, disillusionment is in the immediate offing. We just donít like to be nasty about it.

Iím back at home in my cubicle, which, despite a recent cartoon on my Dilbert calendar, bears absolutely no resemblance to a womb. After last weekís QA conference, I was pretty fired up to get back and try to implement some of the things I was learning here. Now that itís all in the distant past (a whole weekend away), my challenge will be to maintain that level of enthusiasm, and still getting my other work done. (I do realize that, to some people, using the words "enthusiasm" and "QA" in the same paragraph are like mixing fire and water.)

Productivity, ho!

Posted by dichroic at 09:31 AM

April 29, 2001

How to go like a guy

noon-ish 2001-04-29 freshette.html
How to go like a guy

Mechaiehís mention of the Sani-Fem Freshette has inspired me to list my tips for those using the product. Iíve had one for years, and find them extremely useful. For those whoíve never heard of Freshettes, first of all, if youíre male, you can stop reading now; you donít need one. Functional definition: itís a female-to-male adapter for humans engaged in bladder relief. More precisely, itís a funky-shaped pink funnel with its own carrying case. They are extremely useful for those of us who hike/mountain bike/rock climb in areas where the vegetation doesnít provide much cover; theyíre also useful in areas where there are more civilized facilities but you donít want to come in any contact whatsoever with them.

The following tips are not for the squeamish, as I will be blunt.

1. First of all, and I wouldnít even think of writing this one if I hadnít seen someone who obviously needed the advice, as a matter of etiquette, get off the trail! Yes, if youíre careful, you can use these things with almost no exposure. However, no one wants to walk through a yellow stream. A related bit of ecological responsibility is to carry zip-lock bags for used paper -- donít just leave it out there!

2. They work better with loose or stretchy pants/shorts, or a long fly. Otherwise, you may need to drop trou after all, which negates some of the main reasons for using the Freshette. (This also makes it easier to ply a bit of tissue afterwards, though apparently, according to the review Mechaieh linked to, some people donít. I do, not liking tell-tale spots on my short.

3. Something all men know: never face into the wind. Also, if you like your shoes, aim for a bit of ground downslope from your feet.

4. A major diasadvantage of Freshettes is that if you use one in a Porta-potty, they leave you facing into the pot. Not too bad in the daytime, when the lower reservoir is in shadow, but potentially disgusting at night, if you, like I, use a headlamp while camping. Adjust the light beam so it points upward a bit, not down.

5. Keep a spare in your car. You just never know.....

Posted by dichroic at 12:31 PM

April 28, 2001

Trolls, classes and travel


Ding, dong, the listTroll is dead. We the assembled moderators of two lists, have not only made her the first person to be banned (ever, let alone under two IDs) from either list, and have gone so far as to send a note signed by all of us to our assembled listmembers. So far Iíve seen five Ďthank-yousí and no complaints about our actions. The rest of these people (and of course, Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane) are why we keep moderating, even though we sometimes complain. (By the way, despite what she says, Phelps really did do most of the work.)

We taught the first classes of new Intermediate and Beginners rowing sessions today and both went fairly well. The Intermediates are not bad at all -- at this point, several of them have only been rowing for four weeks, and they have a lot to learn about rowing, let alone doing it together, but thatís to be expected. Their skills will improve a lot during this session, and their next challenge will be learning to wake up at 0ídark thirty, if they want to join the Advanced or Competitive groups. The Beginners are a quiet bunch, except for one guy who is a friend of Queueís, and it will be interesting to see who lasts. The ones who joined up for exercise sometimes find itís a little more intense than they bargained for, but itís the ones who joined rowing because it looks like such a beautiful and serene sport who are most cruelly disillusioned. Beautiful, yes, eventually; serene, only from a distance.

Itís rather like ballet in that way; spectators see the smooth grace in the motion of those who have learned their craft, but they donít see the sweat, pain, blisters, and gritted teeth that go into making that beauty.

Weíve got a bunch of races coming up, including Long Beach next weekend, but are considering several possible destinations for a purely pleasure trip for Memorial Day. My favorite alternative possibility would let us meet Mechaieh and the BYM in the incarnate flesh.

Actually, it looks like my suitcases will get a healthy workout this year, between Memorial Day, regattas up and down the West Coast, and our second time participating in a friendís annual houseboating trip on Lake Powell. Last yearís trip involved 1 jet ski, 2 houseboats, 2 windsurfers, 3 fried turkeys, 3 waverunners, 4 speedboats, assorted water skis, canoes, and kayaks, and about 35 people, and quite a bit of alcohol. Almost everybody can remember the whole trip, and a good time was had by all. However, most of these people being coworkers, the rule was "Anything that happens at the lake stays at the lake," so no detail here!

Posted by dichroic at 03:31 PM

April 27, 2001

Home again and class starts tomorrow


Home again. Yay.

And off to bed now, because tomorrow morning we have to go teach two rowing classes in a row. It would be three, but they canceled the Advanced class, because not enough people signed up. This is good in a way, because now we get to sleep in on weekends and show up at 7AM instead of 5AM, but bad because we had lots of ideas about how to teach them

Itís the first session for both classes tomorrow. Weíll start teaching the Intermediates some techniques that will eventually let them all row together, instead of only 2 or 4 at a time. The Beginners have their float test, as well as the Safety Lecture and the scare-them-off talk so that they donít complaining later when they realizing weíre actually making them sweat, and expecting them to listen to what we say. This is important; water can kill you and so can rowing shells (the bow end has a sharp point; I have heard of at least one person who has died by impalement) so listening to the coach is crucial.

It probably also works better if the coach is awake. Good night.

Posted by dichroic at 06:31 PM

April 26, 2001

packing and journaling


Packing, not one of lifeís more enjoyable activities. Complicated by the fact that the conference provided one (more) backpack filled with four (heavy) volumes containing all the presentations. I could toss them, but Iíd hate myself afterward -- these sessions have been extremely useful. Not to mention all the other handouts Iíve picked up and the notes Iíve taken (on the notepads the hotel provides). Plus the present for T. At least Iíve managed to resist the "fishbowls" full of glass fish hanging from floating transparent glass bubbles. They were actually very cool, as well as reasonably priced, but I was afraid of coming home and finding little glass shards interspersed throughout my clothing.

Packing is also complicated by the fact that my bathing suit is wet, and anyway Iím still wearing it, in expectation of a post-packing visit to the hot tub, which of course could come about sooner if I were actually packing instead of writing here.

Which raises an odd point. As you may have noticed, I often post two or three times a day. I guess I just like to Ďtalkí....and this way, people can choose whether or not to Ďlistení. So why is it that I have to force myself to update, in longhand, the trip journal Iíve now been keeping for about four years? I finally got it caught up on the plane out here -- never touched it while in Massachusetts, even though Iíd brought it along for just that purpose. Granted, longhand is a bit more work than typing, but I donít understand why it should be so much of a chore, when Iím always finding myself writing here even when I should be doing other things. The trip journal has a bit of a different flavor than this; it dwells more on details of travel that I might want to know later, and a bit on stories I want to remember, but is generally a bit drier just because of the work of writing by hand. Even so, our month-long trip to Australia and New Zealand (Dec. 1998-Jan 1999) ran over 50 pages. On that trip I was good about updating as we went or the whole trip would have been crammed into 5 pages.

Oh well. Off to pack. Really.

Posted by dichroic at 07:31 PM

online, oddly enough


As Iím on the road for work, Iím dialing in through our corporate account. Apparently our ISP sold our accounts to Mindspring, who can only be an improvement, as far as Iím concerned. The funny thing about this is that Iím not supposed to be able to log in today. Maybe itís payback for all of yesterday when I was supposed to be able to log in and couldnít?

Off to shower and conference. Iím having a hard time getting to bed early enough to get enough sleep that I can get up early enough to work out, but Epcot was worth it. (On a not entirely unrelated note, a recent article in the Vocabula Review says repetition is allowable, citing Winston Churchillís "We shall never surrender" speech as a shining example.)

Posted by dichroic at 08:31 AM

April 25, 2001

visit to Epcot


I just got back from Epcot, with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was appalled at the amount of advertising -- many of the exhibits were nothing but. On the other hand, the Spaceship Earth ride was way cool, as were the fireworks, and the teppan-grilled shrimp was orders of magnitude better than the amusement park food Iím used to.

There were some rich sources of irony that I made a mental note to write up here, but as usual, my mental notepad appears to have been erased (or perhaps itís made of the reusable electronic paper developed in Xerox PARC, the demo of which would have been a lot more impressive if theyíd actually been able to print anything on the paper! I was interested to see it, too; Ben Bova wrote a novel based on that technology at least a decade ago -- the technology was clearly coming then -- and I was hoping it had finally materialized.

Bought T a doohickey that I think heís been wanting, or at least I think he tried to describe it to me awhile back. He didnít get the idea across too clearly, and I doubt I will either. It spins like an old-fashioned noisemaker (the kind we used to have at Purim and New Year), but on the outermost edge is one line of about 8 LEDs. They blink at a rate such that when itís spun, the eye sees words due to the persistence of vision. There are about 8 preprogrammed messages, and you can program 3 more. This being a Disney park, of course it cost way too much, but I think heíll enjoy it much more than yet another T-shirt.

Posted by dichroic at 07:31 PM

April 24, 2001

Water and Troll problems


Arrgh. Conference all day, conference outing at night, Iím already going to bed too late to get up and work out tomorrow, and now weíve got Return of the Troll (see Phelps and Evilena for details). Sort of difficult to keep up with all of this when I can only stay logged on for 30 minutes at a time, too. More than that and the hotel charges me $.30/minute. Apparently, people were staying on the lines too long with data calls (fancy that!) and their switchboard couldnít handle it.

The conference isnít part of the problem. The conference is great Ė big enough to have several things going on at once, small enough to get to know people, scads of useful info. Next year I want to come back as a presenter.

There is one teensy problem with the conference hotel, though. Apparently, due to a water main break last night, the water here is unsafe to drink without boiling. This makes me wonder a bit about using the pool and washing. The hotel has been providing lots of drinking water, some with their own label. Iím impressed at the logistics, but I wonder: does this happen often enough that they keep cases and cases on hand? Were there frantic phone calls across Florida last night? Did they divert shipments from somewhere else? And if so, what will those people drink?

Maybe itís safer to stick to beer. Sticky to swim in, though.

Posted by dichroic at 09:31 PM

April 23, 2001

a world of laughter, a world of tears...


Since Iím only a mile away from Disneyworld, a chorus of "Itís a Small World After All" seems appropriate. First, Mechaieh and her old euchre buddies all end up in my Favorite Diaries column (disclosure: I did know and respect Mechaieh and her writing from the time I spent as her junior moderator on my main email list, before she retired to spend more time writing and now, bringing up her new puppy. Similar stories with Evilena and Phelps. Everyone else on the favorites list is there because I like their writing and find their lives interesting.)

Now, at my conference, it turns out an old friend of Tís is a presenter -- when I knew him, about 5 years back, neither of us were even in this field. And, just possibly, a high school friend I havenít seen since graduation is another presenter. Iím not getting my hopes up, since the name isnít that uncommon (a little rarer than, say, "Jim Smith"; more like "Scott Campbell") -- but he is listed as being in the state where we attended high school. Then again, Iíve moved across the country since then.

Apparently, I have a memorable face; people recognize me more than I recognize them. (True, I also have a bad memory for faces.) I have run into people I knew in more unlikely circumstances. Once, when hiking about two days out from the base lodge in Big Bend, one of the most inaccessible National Parks in the lower 48, someone going the other way on the path said, "Hello -- arenít you Dichroic?" We had both volunteered at a nature center in Houston. Yes, itís in the same state, but itís about 15 hoursí drive.

The very oddest meeting Iíve had was also in Texas. One Thanksgiving weekend, we had signed up for a two-day rock-climbing class at Enchanted Rock, which is about two hours west of Austin. As the group collected the first morning, I noticed that two people were wearing sweatshirts from my alma mater (Penn, which is NOT THE SAME AS PENN STATE (itís better), and which is in Philadelphia). Curious, I looked at their faces and realized that I had worked with one of them at the college Dining Service, when I was a freshman and he was a senior. (The other was his wife.) Neither of us had been outdoor types in college, either.

Posted by dichroic at 06:31 PM

April 22, 2001

Conscience


Slept late (this makes about 3 weekends in a row!) and thus didnít have to regret all the red wine yesterday. 6AM, if youíre wondering. Rowing does horrid things to the circadian. Next week, I will be able to sleep until 7, come back, wake at 4 to coach on Saturday, and never have to deal with the discomfort of switching time zones.

Synchronicity is a strong factor in my life. The Hofstadter book is a slow enough read that Iím considering taking it for the plane, despite its weight. So in order to keep from reading too much of it before I leave, Iíd switched over to a reread of The Quaker Book of Wisdom, by Robert Lawrence Smith. I like it because itís wise and encouraging but not sloppy and not sentimental, possibly because it comes from an actual tradition of belief rather than a vague feeling that we should all just get along. Also, Quaker beliefs have a strong element of pragmatism, and this book is from a man who has spent a long lifetime working out his beliefs in practice.

Most of the beliefs of the Society of Friends have a strong appeal for me: Truth, Simplicity, Service (I donít do well with that one in practice), Education. The only one I have some problems with is Nonviolence -- I think that some forms of oppression are worse than, and thereby justify, fighting. In this case, though, the central doctrine of the Quakers, about Conscience, following oneís own inner light, comes into play. Smith himself chose to be drafted in World War II, rather than register as a CO, because he decided that the moral issues of that war were so clear that it was the best chance heíd ever have to fight directly against "the ocean of darkness and death". (More than half of draft-eligible young Quaker men made the same choice in that war.)

The synchonicity comes into play in reading Marnís journal entry today, of her involvement in the protest against the Free Trade Summit in Quebec. Iím glad to hear sheís ok, but also enormously impressed that she lived up to the promptings of her conscience, and put herself in danger to act on it. I wonder how many of the leaders involved would have done the same? I wonder if I would?

Posted by dichroic at 09:31 AM

April 21, 2001

laptops, butter, and salt


After spending part of today looking at laptops, Iíve come to a conclusion: the prices never really drop all that drastically. Iíve considered buying one a few times in the last few years, and ended up with the same price range each time. Of course the explanation is simple: that same figure would have bought me 100Mhz, 400MHz, or, now 800MHz at the time of shopping. On the other hand, the necessary software takes up more and more space, so buying the speed of two years back isnít really an option.

Since the machine Iím typing this on is about 6 years old, I think Iím about due for a replacement. Actually, the one Iím on now was about three times what Iím looking at spending this time, by the time we bought the printer, Photoshop, etc, so itís not really true that prices donít go down. This one was fairly expensive for that time, though -- and Macs have generally cost more.

Other than that, Iím taking advantage of a lazy and stormy Saturday to indulge in two of lifeís pleasures: popcorn with salt and butter (NOT margarine) and, for once, enough time to read. I think todayís dinner may even feature real cooking, albeit of the simplest sort.

Posted by dichroic at 02:31 PM

April 20, 2001

Orlandoooooooo


Off to Orlando next week, and looking forward to it, for several reasons. After the whole Tundra trip, I told myself I wouldnít travel again for this company, but this is only for a few days, so I donít think any hardship is involved. Besides, when I made that promise to myself, I forgot to reckon with the fact that I actually like traveling.

Leaving the whole Disney aspect aside, I do expect the work part of this trip to both interesting and educational. I hope to come back with some ideas I can use here, as well as some advice as to how to put them in play.

(Note to cynics: no sarcasm was involved in the creation of the above paragraph.)

After work though.....since I wonít get to see a Shuttle launch, I think the thing Iím looking forwad to most is the fireworks. I love fireworks, and, due to our habit of being out camping int he back of beyond on major fireworks holidays, havenít gotten to see many lately. Last July 4, we watched them from several miles away, from a loft windowseat, due to the combination of too many relatives to mobilize easily and cousins with very bad asthma. My hotel isnít all that far from Disney, so Iím hoping that Iíll be able to see their display without having to pay vast sums of money to enter the park.

I might pay those vast sums one evening, though. Iíve never been to Disney World; the Ďrents arenít much for travel, and by the time I was old enough to go on my own, I had realized that I dislike crowds and long lines far too much to pay to experience them. I do like rides, though, and this time of year should be a nice blend of "warm but not hot" and "spring vacationís done but kids are still in school". There will be lines, of course, but maybe theyíll be relatively short. Anyway, Epcot has always sounded interesting.

Maybe Iíll get ambitious and go see Cirque du Soleil. Hell, as long as Iím away from home and getting to stay up late, maybe Iíll go check out the bars. Maybe Iíll go to a gay bar; Iíve never been to one and it might be less uncomfortable than being alone among a bunch of hetero men. Or maybe not. Or maybe, like most things, each one is different. Iím reliably informed, also, that Orlando has great titty bars (sorry, but thatís what they call them in Houston, which is also known for them), but I refuse to go to one on this trip. Not that Iím not curious, just that I donít want to go without T. If Iím going to go watch a bunch of other women who can dance and dress sexier than I can (without getting laughed at) I want to be able to enjoy the aftereffects.

I wonder if I can hook up with a rowing club in Orlando? I havenít been back into it for long enough to want a vacation. My hotel has "two state of the art fitness centers" (why two?), but I donít care how many mirrors and SOTA machines you have, there is no workout like rowing. (I can see Phelps cringing at that comma, but nothing else fit there.)

There was something else I wanted to write about here. Maybe if I remember it, Iíll use it tomorrow. Thereís a nice lazy weekend between me and Florida....

Posted by dichroic at 04:31 PM

Le Ton Beau de Marot

Arrgh. I had completed this entry then lost the whole thing when I tried to submit it. I have attempted to reconstitute it, in Word this time so I still have it if D-Land goes down.

This morning I coxed instead of rowing. Didn't get swapped in as promised, and I can already feel myself turning into jello.

That's not really true, of course. My thighs are still sore from lifting yesterday (weights, not Ted. Get your mind out of the gutter!) and I'll row a single tomorrow, weather permitting. Coxswains are underappreciated, though.

I've begun rereading Le Ton Beau de Marot, by Douglas Hofstadter. Besides being one of my favorite books, it's a collection of translations of a small poem by Clement Marot as well as an excursion into issues relating to translation, poetry, translation of poetry, the nature of language, and machine processing of natural language. It's also a love letter to his wife, who died tragically during the writing of the book.

At one point, I thought Le Ton beau would literally change my life. It was the proximate cause of my deciding to study cognitive science and language, which led to embarking on an MA in Linguistics (the best way to study the fields I wanted at the local university). Unfortunately, when I took my current job, I was unable to manage to take time out for classes, and of course no scheduler ever thinks one might want to take night classes in anything but business or computers. Also, I was learning enough at work to keep the Elephant's Child well-nourished.

In honor of Hofstadter, here's my stab at translating Marot's A Une Damoyselle Malayde, preceded by the original:

Marot's
Ma mignonne,
Je vous donne
Le bon jour ;
Le sťjour
C'est prison.
Guťrison
Recouvrez,
Puis ouvrez
Votre porte
Et qu'on sorte
Vitement,
Car Clťment
Le vous mande.
Va, friande
De ta bouche,
Qui se couche
En danger
Pour manger
Confitures ;
Si tu dures
Trop malade,
Couleur fade
Tu prendras,
Et perdras
L'embonpoint.
Dieu te doint
Santť bonne,
Ma mignonne

Mine:
Dearest One
Night is done,
Day is here.
Dungeon drear
Is your bed.
Sleepyhead,
From your room,
Come out soon,
Go outdoors
World is yours.
Quickly mend
I, your friend
Tell you so.
Well I know
You like sweets
Time for treats.
Chocolates, tarts,
And candy hearts.
Donít stay sick
Get well quick.
If youíre still
Feeling ill,
Youíll grow thin,
Lose both chins,
Little friend,
God will send
Health and fun,
Dearest one.


Posted by dichroic at 02:21 PM

Le Ton beau


Arrgh. I had completed this entry then lost the whole thing when I tried to submit it. I have attempted to reconstitute it, in Word this time so I still have it if D-Land goes down.

This morning I coxed instead of rowing. Didnít get swapped in as promised, and I can already feel myself turning into jello.

Thatís not really true, of course. My thighs are still sore from lifting yesterday (weights, not Ted. Get your mind out of the gutter!) and Iíll row a single tomorrow, weather permitting. Coxswains are underappreciated, though.

Iíve begun rereading Le Ton Beau de Marot, by Douglas Hofstadter. Besides being one of my favorite books, itís a collection of translations of a small poem by Clement Marot as well as an excursion into issues relating to translation, poetry, translation of poetry, the nature of language, and machine processing of natural language. Itís also a love letter to his wife, who died tragically during the writing of the book.

At one point, I thought Le Ton beau would literally change my life. It was the proximate cause of my deciding to study cognitive science and language, which led to embarking on an MA in Linguistics (the best way to study the fields I wanted at the local university). Unfortunately, when I took my current job, I was unable to manage to take time out for classes, and of course no scheduler ever thinks one might want to take night classes in anything but business or computers. Also, I was learning enough at work to keep the Elephantís Child well-nourished.

In honor of Hofstadter, hereís my stab at translating Marotís A Une Damoyselle Malayde, preceded by the original:

Marotís
Ma mignonne,
Je vous donne
Le bon jour ;
Le sťjour
Cíest prison.
Guťrison
Recouvrez,
Puis ouvrez
Votre porte
Et quíon sorte
Vitement,
Car Clťment
Le vous mande.
Va, friande
De ta bouche,
Qui se couche
En danger
Pour manger
Confitures ;
Si tu dures
Trop malade,
Couleur fade
Tu prendras,
Et perdras
Líembonpoint.
Dieu te doint
Santť bonne,
Ma mignonne

Mine:
Dearest One
Night is done,
Day is here.
Dungeon drear
Is your bed.
Sleepyhead,
From your room,
Come out soon,
Go outdoors
World is yours.
Quickly mend
I, your friend
Tell you so.
Well I know
You like sweets
Time for treats.
Chocolates, tarts,
And candy hearts.
Donít stay sick
Get well quick.
If youíre still
Feeling ill,
Youíll grow thin,
Lose both chins,
Little friend,
God will send
Health and fun,
Dearest one.

Posted by dichroic at 09:31 AM

April 19, 2001

This I Believe, out of the ashes of error


Coincidentally, the e-mail list I moderate had a discussion recently on "embarrassing moments online". Yesterday, I completed the lab section of that course. Hereís the background. One of our more consistently amusing listmembers, whom Iíll call Pubdude, posted a summary of all religions, which essentially boiled down to: -- get a good idea -- declare it the only good idea -- kill everyone who disagrees. (The original was funnier.) Someone who generally lurks posted a snippy response accusing Pubdude of being smug on a topic about which he knows little.

As Listmom I sometimes (not always) try to avoid taking sides on testy issues, but the smugness of the response irritated me. I wrote a note to Pubdude essentially saying "Right on! Feel free to go in swinging as long as you do it politely -- some of these religious types always think theyíre right". Which would have been a little impolitic, but not too bad ....... except that I mistakenly sent it to the whole list. I canít remember the last time I felt myself blush, but I certainly did when I realized that, along with that awful "I have fucked up big-time" feeling in my stomach. I immediately sent a contrite apology and, in a reflex action that I now regret, deleted my original post from the archives (which would not have stopped it from being sent to 300+ listmembers).

But then, a funny thing happened. I got some personal emails and some replies on the list, and every one so far has been positive. Iím not surprised by the responses from some others who are annoyed by the posturing of some religious establishments, but I got supportive notes from some religious people too. I got notes from not one but two Anglican vicars*, by all thatís holy, saying "yes, we do need to be shaken up occasionally, and we do need to avoid stereotypes".

*Later note: one is actually a rector, not a vicar. Donít ask.

I knew there was a reason I stayed with this list.

As a follow-up, I posted a more thought-out response. Quoting one of the vicarís thought that "we are all infinitely valuable", and highlighting the two beliefs implicit in my accidental posting that I do stand behind. First, I really do believe that there is no One Right Way that works for every one. (Though there may be some that are Wrong for every one.) There may be some universal truths -- "Do not do unto your neighbor as you would not have him do unto you" comes close, though even then you have to allow for varying tastes. (What if you sleep with your neighbor and youíre a dominant and heís a submissive?) But there are a variety of ways to get to those truths, and itís important to realize that others may really to trying to get there, even if their paths donít run alongside yours.

Second, all faiths are the better for periodic examination, like clothes that should be tried on to see if theyíve been outgrown. It may be that when you examine your beliefs, you find that you need to change a few details -- this happened to me recently, though not on a religious matter. It may be that you need to tear down the building and start over. Or it may be that you believe what you were taught as a child. In any case, what you have after examination is an adult set of convictions, not a mindless set of responses to a catechism. I would not have made a good Victorian, as I do hold that beliefs born of experience are stronger and worthier than those sprung from innocence.

A minor third theme here is that stereotypes run both ways. I have extensive experience of fundamentalist Christians who automatically assume that anyone else who strikes them as a good person must just naturally share their faith. On the other hand, itís easy for those who stay outside organized religion to assume that religious types are uneducated hicks, sheep who blindly follow the herd. As I have just seen so eloquently demonstrated, neither assumption is universally true. Itís tempting, but never quite safe to evaluate another human except on the basis of his or her own speech and actions.

*steps off soapbox*


-- dedicated to Pubdude and the piffling Reverends --

Posted by dichroic at 10:31 AM

April 18, 2001

Of coolness, overalls, and body jewelry


My last entry bored even me.

Today I am wearing black overalls. I love wearing them because theyíre comfortable and have lots of pockets, but I do worry about the goofy factor. Generally, the people I know who wear overalls are bubbly happy people, people who believe Life is What You Make It! and Attitude is Everything! I wouldnít be surprised if Phelpís friend from the bowling leangue wears overalls.

I, on the other hand, am not and do not wish to be a bubbly happy girl. Goofy, sometimes, and talkative, usually, but also mordant on occasion. You can tell all this, I think, because my overalls, though they are overalls (thatís the goofy side) are also black (for the mordancy) and I am wearing them over a black T-shirt, with silver jewelry and black-and-white Keds. Wearing black and silver makes me feel that I am cool and dangerous, even when there are overalls involved. I am not cool, most likely, and am far from dangerous, but I think feeling that way is probably the first step. Of course, anyone who worries about or talks whether they are cool is automatically not, so clearly I have many more steps to take. (And that is a lesson someone should teach my company, whose executives often talk about how we attract "cool people" by making this a "cool place to work".)

Yesterday I bought a toe ring (silver, naturally), because all the cool people I know wear them and, more importantly, I like the way they look. As with so much of life, I promptly learned that wearing a toe ring is more complicated than it looks. Mine is, as I believe most of them are, only a partial circlet, open on what is supposed to be the bottom. This is presumably designed to allow for the fact that most toes are of much greater diameter at the tip than at the part where a ring is worn. The ring is open, to go over the tip of the toe, and can then be squeezed tighter, to stay on. Maybe I didnít squeeze tight enough; mine kept turning so that the open side was up and the greater weight of the closed side was down. That pesky gravity again. If thereís a trick to this, someone please tell me. Or am I just not cool enough for proper wearing of toe rings, and can the ring itself sense this? Maybe itís a good thing I never got my navel pierced.

Posted by dichroic at 10:31 AM

Rowingís OK, work is slow


Nothing profound this morning -- apparently I used up my imitations of profundity yesterday. If you donít think yesterdayís second entry was profound, then that just proves I donít do imitations well.

The best word to describe rowing today is "okay". Not terribly painful, as I coxed for half the practice and we were doing drills all day anyway. We werenít doing them well, but they still werenít nearly as painful as Mondayís long pieces. The only notable point is that I rowed port today, for the first time in 4-5 months, and had surprisingly little trouble with it. Most people develop a preference for one side or the other; I never have. I seem to row starboard more often, mostly because Iím so small that Iím usually put in bow seat, which is starboard in a standard-rigged boat, but I have a suspicion my technique is better on port.

It looks like I will be doing quite a bit of technical writing for a project at work, creating the halp files for an application weíre creating. Does that mean time spent doing this is work-related, since Iím presumably improving my writing skills? I finally brought in one of the two boxes of stuff Iíd taken home before the Worcester trip. The challenge now will be fitting an office-worth of stuff in a cube. Itís been so nice having a window, though, that the transition hasnít been that difficult.

Things are a little slow at work just now, but next week Iíll be off at a convention, which sounds both interesting and luxurious. Not sure if Iíll have access to a computer though, so expect updates here to be sparse. I think Iíve said that before. Pardon the repetition -- Iím not convinced that my memory isnít failing, thoug it ay be that itís always been bad for something. Iím great on song lyrics and poetry though -- my theory is that all the useless lyrics and trivia take up memory space that I should be devoting to real life. I have no plans to change, though, as I enjoy remembering lyrics and trivia much more than appointments and such. Thatís what Palm Pilots are for, anyway.

Posted by dichroic at 09:31 AM

April 17, 2001

School clubs and related issues


On my way home today, I heard on NPR that my stateís Senate is debating the issue of whether to allow Bible groups for 7th and 8th graders. I think they should be allowed to have clubs for almost anything not hurtful the kids want to have clubs for -- Bible groups, atheist groups, humanist groups, gay/lesbian/bi groups (maybe -- see below), Buddhist groups, sports groups, fan clubs, whatever. The crux, for me, is that there be no pressure to join any, or none, of these groups. I do realize that the peer pressure would be the most difficult part to control.

This is the age at which most people are beginning to consciously define their own moral codes. I think it would help them to do so if they had groups to discuss the different sorts of morality our race has evolved. Even better would be to have multi-group projects -- saying, comparing the code defined in Exodus with the Humanist Pledge, to assess similarities and differences. Of course, people this age might need a lot of adult help (from some very adult adults) to keep these discussions civil and productive -- but what a great learning experience. The clubs should be after school, and the school itself should not favor any one club over another -- also difficult, in some regions more than in others. Explicitly discussing morality and responsibility before all the hormones have fully kicked in -- is this a radical idea?

I hesitated on whether to include the gay/lesbian/bi clubs in my list above, not from the fear of whether they would be proper fields of discussion for 12 and 13-year-olds, but whether they would be meaningful at that young age. Do many people realize their own sexuality at that age, if itís something other than what society has groomed them to accept? Iím asking because I really donít know.

Iíve been reading Hardrainís poignant account of her own coming-out, at 16, and she does still seem to be coming to grips with some of the related issues (such as, for example, whether sheís gay or bi). Given the pressures sheís dealing with, a support group might be of great use for her, but thereís a vast gulf between sixteen and thirteen. On the other hand, it might be of use for middle-schoolers to have clubs for people dealing with a gay parent. Again, I donít know, and the decision for which clubs to have should be made by their potential members, anyway.

A related question Iíve always wondered about, is why do people (including those most concerned) always seem to assume gay and lesbian teenagers will be having sex with each other? There are a lot of voices telling straight teens to hold off on sex until theyíre ready (though the definition of "ready" varies widely, from "old enough" to "emotionally mature enough" to "really in love" to "married"). Lots of them do go ahead and have sex, but for the ones that wait, there is at least some kind of support structure in place. Where are those voices for the other kids? I think that if I had a sixteen year old daughter, I would be hoping she would hold off on sex, with males or females, until she trusted the other person and felt ready to deal with the consequences, both emotional and physical.

Another thing I realized, while thinking over these issues, is that I will not voice these questions in my email groups for fear of ruffling too many feelings and possibly causing some infighting. Iím not sure I would have censored myself there a year or two ago. Granted I do feel that I should keep more of a neutral stance on some tendentious issues now that Iím the primary moderator/Listmum, but still it makes me sad to feel that the group has grown less tolerant. What the hell, maybe Iíll post my questions there anyway.

Posted by dichroic at 05:31 PM

Gym, Carcase, advertising


Warning: expect updates to be sketchy or nonexistent next week, as Iíll be at a conference, and Iím not sure Iíll have access to a computer. I think Iím going to buy a laptop one of these days, but I donít know how likely that is to happen before next week.

I want to write about the gym here, but I wonder how interesting all this about my workouts really is to anyone but me (and yes, this did occur to me even before reading Phelpís entry today -- a bit of synchronicity). This is one reason I usually try to mark the end of the rowing comments. Iím also more inclined to dwell on the interpersonal parts than the mechanics, because theyíre more interesting anyway.

Anyway, skip this paragraph if gym rats bore you. Today was a weightlifting day, arms. I used the erg (rowing machine) to warm up and was quite pleased to find that my times have gone down. That is, this morning it took me the same effort to maintain a 2:30 split as it did last month to do a 2:40 (a split being the time it takes to row 500 meters). At this rate, maybe one of these days I will manage 2000 meters in under 9:00, which is a goal of mine, in a nebulous sort of way. I was also feeling good about the weights I was lifting, and was able to notice more definition when doing upright rows in front of a mirror. Always nice to see some results. Iíve lost about 2 lbs in the 2 weeks since coming home, but some of this is normal cyclical variation.

One of the very bad things about my schedule is not usually having enough time to read. I donít survive well without reading time. Having this past lazy weekend was nice, though; on Sunday I reread all of Have His Carcase, by Dorothy Sayers, for my discussion group. As usual, I found myself concentrating less on the actual mystery than on the Harriet/Peter relationship. The thorns in CARC are an interesting contrast to the relationshipís blooming in the next book, Gaudy Night, yet from my memory of GAUD, Sayers is able to manage the transition without making any sudden unwarranted changes. I tend to disagree with a lot of the people in the group who think that Lord Peter is being terribly obnoxious here -- he is being obnoxious, but I think itís warranted and natural, given the way Harriet treats him, only because sheís still so unsure of herself.

You may see my banner ad around here this week; I took a long time deciding to become a gold member, and the deciding factor was realizing that I could do so, and support D-land, without necessarily having to advertise. I took a still longer time deciding to post a banner after all. One of the factors in my decision was learning that they only run for about a week -- if you find banners obnoxious, you wonít have to see mine for long. Iím quite curious to see whether it brings in a lot more hits (the one I created isnít very informative) and even more curious to see whether any of those people stay around. I havenít gotten any Google hits, and I think Iím just not indexed there at all yet (not to mention the fact that I rarely write about lesbian pancakes, Nicole Kidman naked, interracial blowjobs, or other likely search topics). Anyway, Iím now officially advertised, and Iím still ambivalent about that.

Posted by dichroic at 09:31 AM

April 16, 2001

Rowing for rabbits


Rowing details

Monday morning, distance day. Ugh. Two half-hour pieces, each at 65%-75% pressure. My hands look like an incubator for blisters. On the good side, I think my technique was looking better (and to prove it, I got yelled at less than some of the others in my boat). The stuff the other coach/rower (Iíll call her Queue, I think) told me really helped.

End of details

I still want to talk about rowing, just not in detail here. I had the oddest thing happen this morning. The sun was risen, but still low, and I was squinting against it, into about the last quarter of practice (i.e. I was very tired). Suddenly, and just for a few seconds, everything turned into a photo montage. It was rather like the snippets of cinematography they sometimes use for movie previews:

*snap* arms reaching out *snap* snapping the hands in to my chest *snap* Sevenís blade entering the water *snap* I got splashed *snap*

and back to regular rowing.

And speaking of irregular rowing, last night was surreal. I coxed one of the boats (two eights and a four) in two Easter events. The first was a 1000 meter race, during which the cox had to balance a large plastic egg on an oar. We tried balancing the egg on the oar blade inside the stroke rigger, to provide some extra stability, but the judges ruled that cheating (though it was not against any announced rules) and made us stop, at which point we dropped the egg, drifted way past it and had to back uup quite a distance. Rowing shells donít back well, so we ended up DFL, by quite a margin. T coxed the four that won, by the way, but managed not to be obnoxiously smug afterward.

We did much better in the second event. For this, Coach DI, dressed in full bunny suit, scattered egg-sized plastic eggs all around the lake, and we were then sent out to pick up as many as we could. We got 21 eggs, beating the other eight by a good margin. Tís boat got 26 eggs, but then a four is much more maneuverable than an eight (40í long as opposed to 60í long).

I will try to start putting together the rowing glossary Evilena requested, and possibly also a Dramatis Personae, just to help me keep track of my aliases. By the way, last night before going to sleep, I attempted to explain to T some of the reasons why this journal matters to me, and why I really want to update it every day. I always underestimate him -- I thought he would think it was stupid, because it seems so foreign to anything he would do. Instead, his first question was whether I was backing up my entries, so they would be preserved if something happened to the D-land server. You canít see me, but Iím just shaking my head in wonder. How awful it would be to live with a man who was either comepletely predictable (as distinct from reliable) or who consistently did no come up to your expectations.

Posted by dichroic at 09:31 AM

April 15, 2001

A calm weekend

itís the weekend, who cares 2001-04-15 calm_wknd.html
A calm weekend

Itís been a quiet weekend here at Lake Dichroic, though, youíll note, still busy enough that I never did update here yesterday. Consider it compensation for all those two- and three-entry days.

Itís our last quiet weekend before we start coaching on weekends again, so weíre appreciating each second we get to laze around. Yesterday, I ran some errands, baked some brownies (from a box), then went to a rowing coachesí meeting. Coach DI was surprisingly calm and civil, though I had a hard time not laughing when he was talking about the need to be more careful driving the coaching launches (these, by the way, are gas-powered catamaran-hulled boats that we use to stay alongside the rowing shells while coaching). He and (hmmm...whatís a good name for a small, loud, hairy guy....) Yosemite Sam were the only ones there who have been driving the launches much. Iím not entirely sure whether DI was chiding himself or YS. We signed up to coach three classes in a row every Saturday and Sunday: Advanced, Intermediate, and Beginner, which makes me very glad that weíve promised to do this only every other month. By the way, the brownies absolutely sucked. Brownies are the oe thing I donít bother cooking from scratch because the mixes are usually so good; I think the problem may have been due to too much non-stick spray and a very old mix.

After the meeting, I got Coach DI to show me how to drive the launch, making sure T was along this time. Strange, but true....almost no one will yell at a woman if her husband or boyfriend is there. (Even the WASPishly even-tempered T thinks DI has been going a bit overboard in his post-practice rants lately, anyhow.) I went out on a limb and pointed out that he could hardly send me down to the Advanced class (as he has threatened to do to anyone whose rowing doesnít improve) as I would be coaching that class. At which he laughed and said heíd had no intention of demoting me. Almost a compliment, by God.

Later, we did yardwork, me in a bathing suit because, though Iím not much on tanning, I do want to be a bit less blindingly white. After that, we picked up Mexican food and headed over to T2 Hatfieldís to help build stands (on rollers) so that he and T could store their double in a less high-traffic area -- apparently itís under the Other Rowing Clubís four, and has been getting a lot of dings lately.

When they were done that, we hung out in the perfect twilight temperatures on T2ís back patio, until he shooed us off so he could get to bed (a major advantage of hanging out with other rowers is that you can do this at 8PM and they wonít think youíre lyng in order to get rid of them). After which T and I enjoyed our own back patio for a bit.

Today, we will be back out to the lake to celebrate Easter -- someone has come up with the fairly hare-brained idea of a modified spoon race -- eights racing for 500 meters while the cox carries a giant plastic egg on an oar, held horizontally. After this, the launch will scatter the eggs all over the lake and weíll all rush about madly (while adhering more or less to the normal counter-clockwise traffic pattern) to gather them up. Should be, um, interesting, and quite possibly fun. T and I have decided that we need a lot more of these three-day weekends.

Posted by dichroic at 12:31 PM

April 13, 2001

Gone flyiní


The usual daily minutiae:

This morning I rowed in a lightweight womenís eight, in a new boat that is actually designed for people only somewhat bigger than us (instead of for 220-pound, six-foot-three men -- in rowing, heavyweight is the default). It did set better -- that it, not much rocking from side to side. Other than that, we were terrible. My timing was better (not the case for everyone) but I could feel that my body control was off. After a bunch of short power pieces, we switched several people around and I ended up coxing (steering and calling commands, not rowing) a very mixed boat -- male, female, short, tall. I did get them to do a couple of good strokes. Later, I was able to get a good description of what I was doing wrong from another coach/rower who happened to be in the launch watching while I was rowing. I was definitely doing some weird stuff, compressing my body too far, but she had some good analyses of why I was moving so awkwardly, and pointed out that some (not all) of it was a response to other peoplesí moving awkwardly. Rowing is an odd sport -- you can only concentrate on yourself, but you depend implicitly on the others in your crew and if one person is off, it can throw off a whole boat.

I took the day off work today, because T had it off for Good Friday (his company is European-owned) and I couldnít let him have all the fun without me. One problem with all this rowing is that it leaves us very little time for other hobbies. Specifically, neither of us has been flying much in the past year (well, ok, I havenít flown much in the past three years and wouldnít go up without an instructor at this point). A year or so ago, we bought a lot in an airpark, just off the runway of a private airstrip. Itís up on the Mogollon Rim, which is the edge of the Colorado plateau that bisects part of this state. As a result, though itís only 2 hours away by car, itís about 5000 feet higher and much cooler than the desert here.

Weíd only driven there, and T has been wanting to fly up, so today we did. Since heís also a bit rusty, and because the runway there is narrow and sloped, we took along an instructor just in case, sort of like taking life jackets in a boat. I rode along in the back seat, where my greatest challenge was staying awake. Something about the vibration and noise in the back seat of a lightplane always send me straight to sleep, but I hadnít flown in so long that I wanted to stay awake to appreciate this trip.

Most of the flight was over mountains and pine forests. Arizona has quite a lot of both, and surprisingly little of this state is infested with humans. Every once in a while weíd pass a small town, solitary house, or rural airstrip, but I occupied myself on quite a lot of the trip deciding where would be the best place, if we had to do a forced landing right....NOW. (I wasnít being panicky. This is the pilotís version of defensive driving and is actually good practice.) The trip is quite bumpy, but fortunately my stomach has never entirely figured out the possible link between motion and nausea. It makes up for that by being very sensitive to food, but thatís not a topic Iíll expand on. Sorry, bad pun unintended.

Once we got to the airpark, we walked around a bit, showed the instructor our lot (he seemed impressed with the whole thing) and listened to the old guy working in the hangar next door tell stories about aerobatics in his Glasair. This is an occupational hazard of hanging around airports, but you never want to cut the old guys off becase a) theyíre usually interesting and b) they all seem to have tens of thousands of hours of flying time and they know things that you would otherwise learn through unpleasant experience. If an old pilot wants to tell me something, I want to listen. (Related saying: there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.)

It was beautiful up there; the instructor had good reason to be impressed. Our neighbors there have built some large and comfortable houses/hangars that fit nicely into the terrain. If weíre lucky, weíll be able to build on our lot sometime before we retire, 40 years or so from now. We do have a septic tank and a picnic table; we donít get a lot of use out of the former (no plumbing to hook up to it) but I spent some very rewarding moments lying on the bench of the latter, watching tree branches moving against robinís-egg sky. The temperature was perfect, too -- sweatshirt-and-jeans weather, no jacket needed. Today was probably the first day Iíve had that lived up to those words at the top of my page since I added them. My modus vivendi still needs work.

Posted by dichroic at 07:31 PM

April 12, 2001

Wrong-Way Corrigan, reincarnated?


I apologize in advance for being completely insensitive -- after all, the guy is dead. And Iím glad that the US personnel involved are no longer being held in durance vile in China.

The facts of the recent US-China midair collision, as I understand them, are thus. The US plane was spying on China while flying over a part of the South China Sea where access is disputed. The us claims that international waters begin 12 miles from the Chinese coast; China claims a 200-mile territory. (I wonder how the US feels about waters 12 miles off our own coastline!) The Chinese pilot may have been harrying the US plane, flying way too close. (Iím only a private pilot, and everyone involved in the accident has a lot more flying hours than I do, but Iíd say if youíre not intending a dogfight, or having both planes intentionally fly in formation, then anything under a mile is too close.)

Given all that....am I the only person who is amused that the Chinese pilotís name was Wong Wei? Say it out loud, and remember that the man was a pilot, if you donít see the humor.

Posted by dichroic at 11:31 AM

Work


No rowing this morning; lifted weights instead. Legs, which means I was a bit shaky on the clutch pedal at long stop lights and am not particularly enjoying stairs this morning.

Since Iím not fulminating over what happened in or out of the boat this morning, this would probably be a good time to talk about work. Somwhat to my surprise, itís going quite well.

This may not be my Proper Job, but itís a good thing to be doing for the mooment. I do QA in a software house, which means testing, instilling processes, and other means to make sure that what we produce really is what we should be producing. Sometimes, telling people their code doesnít work right is like telling a mother her baby is ugly; QA is not always the most popular group. Based on what I had and hadnít heard during the three months I was away from the home office, I expected to be sending out resumes as soon as I got back. It sounded like there was no real place for me in the organization, and anyway, the whole company was headed straight into oblivion.

Perhaps it was akin to the Evening News Phenomenon, wherein bad news is always what gets reported because itís more spectacular. Really, though, things here are not going all that badly. Times are difficult, as they are now for anyone in the software industry. Our stock prices are lower than weíd like, but so are those of our competitors. But we are taking what I think are the right steps, and a reorganization begun in December, about which I had a lot of doubts, seems to be working out well.

So the question now is whether we can continue to move in the proper directions, changing our culture where it needs it and keeping whatís good. It does look like thereís a place for me in that, helping to define more structured processes where we need them while managing not to get lost in process-for-its-own-sake, which can lead to drowning in red tape. Iíve worked in aerospace and on government programs; I know what thatís like, and I donít want to do it again. Anyway, this is a loose environment, fast-moving because thatís what the Internet demands, and somewhat self-consciously cool, and my co-workers wouldnít take kindly to any processes that donít make sense to them.

And good for them, I say.

Posted by dichroic at 10:31 AM

April 11, 2001

Floppy boat, words for weddings


Rowing News: I donít know when Iíll have time to post the rowing glossary Evilena requested, but Iíll try to define any jargon as I go.

Latest in the continuing rowing coach saga: Having gotten no response from Coach DI yesterday, I went to rowing this morning, worried about what I might encounter. And .... nothing. I think he was avoiding me outside the boat, though at 5 AM, no one is all that talkative, so the conclusion is tenuous at best. During practice, however, he gave me more direct feedback than usual, and even told me when I improved something. What more can a rower ask for?

It was a terrible row, though. We did drills the whole time, and I was amazed that DI remained as calm as he did. The boat is supposed to be completely balanced, with all oars moving as one. Instead it was flopping from side to side, and I couldnít seem to get my timing right. There were about 3 other lightweight women in my eight (lightweight, for women rowers, is under 135 lbs) and they had just moved up from the Fitness (i.e. noncompetitive) class held in the evenings. So I was only part of the problem, though I still wasnít part of the solution.

DI did call a coachesí meeting for this Saturday, to discuss "issues that have come up" but I doubt Iím one of them (though Iíll still worry until itís over). I really hate to waste time on meetings in the middle of a precious weekend morning. I think we may have to give up coaching after our May classes; itís just too much. I havenít actually done any coaching since November, but I suspect I might return to my former burnt-out state fairly rapidly. Weíll see. Coaching is actually fun for its own sake, and I learn a lot that also applies to work and other parts of life. Combine that with rowing and a job, though, and itís all Too Much.

End of the rowing news

Iím still thinking about my uncharacteristic Jubilate yesterday. Itís definitely still in progress, and in fact, Iíve made some small changes already, since first posting it. I want to do a bit more work on the internal structure, and on the rhythm of the words, since itís definitely mean to be spoken out loud. (Sung or chanted would be even better.) Some comments on it that meant a lot came from Mechaieh (I have just been sitting here for ten minutes thinking of an apt and telling way to describe the quality of her work, to explain why I care about her opinons, but I give up. Theyíre good, really good.) and from my brother The Writer, who said something about stealing some of this to use at his wedding.

Since his wedding is probably a year or two away, I donít know how likely this is, but Iíd love to have him use it. He read the Apache Blessing at my wedding ("Now there will be no rain/for the two of you will be shelter for each other") and it was nice, but it was one of the things I wish Iíd had more time to personalize further. He read it perfectly, as expected, but I regret not having had time to find words (and music, for the reception) that fit our own voices a little more closely.

Then again....the wedding we went to a few weeks ago included a reading from John Donne, the one that goes "I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I did before we loved." Had I picked a piece of his that better fit us, it would have been the one about not wanting to get out of his loverís bed in the morning:



Busy old fool, unruly Sunne

Why dost thout thus

Though windows, and through curtains, call on us?


Iím not sure how that would have one over with the great-aunts.

Posted by dichroic at 11:31 AM

April 10, 2001

Jubilate

This will be an odd entry.


The thing I didn't mention earlier about the episode with Coach DI was what happened after I got home. Because of going out to get checked out on the coaches' launch (which, by the way, we never did do, as someone had taken the gas can), I got home only shortly before T would normally have been heading up to bed.


He came over, sat with me while I ate my soup (homemade matzoh-ball soup is wonderful for taking the knots out of your stomach), listened to me, offered only useful suggestions, and that sparingly, and generally did his best imitation of The Perfect Husband. (The frightening thing is that part of it was him applying tactics from his latest management class on how to deal with upset people. Apparently, this one made sense.)


A little later yesterday evening, I was lying in bed thinking how good he'd been, and how grateful I was to have such a partner, and the following started coming into focus. This is the odd part I warned you about. I'm not terribly religious, or much into prayer. I believe very strongly in free will -- normally, I thank T directly for what he's done, rather than thanking Someone for him. This one, though, came to me; I didn't go looking for it, except to complete it. I wanted it to speak of the sublimity of a spiral nebula, the purity and power of the white horses of ocean spray, and the small miracle of love, and I doubt I've gotten all of that, and I think it may not be done yet. But, subject to change, here is:



Jubilate


Praise the One Who brought all to be.


Praise the Spirit Who spawned the uncountable universes.


Praise the Shekhina Whose thought set the cosmos expanding,


Praise the Builder Who laid the structure that from a single seed grew the galaxies in their crystalline brilliant complexity, spiral or barred or lenticular.


Praise the Mother who, self-fertilized, birthed the stars that brought forth Her grandchildren, the planets and their glory of rock and ice, of gas and spume and spray and life.


Praise the Artist, who brought about the beauty of the great and the small, of the nebulae and of the northern woods, of Lunaís stark surface and of the lush life of a coral reef, of Neptuneís brilliant blues and of the white surf that rides the waves.


Praise the Prime Mover Whose physical laws, set in motion, led to this place and this moment, where I and my beloved come together, at home in a small corner of a small planet (at the round earthís imagined corners) in a small galaxy on the edge of Somewhere.


Sing in praise.

Posted by dichroic at 02:30 PM

Hosanna


This will be an odd entry.

The thing I didnít mention earlier about the episode with Coach DI was what happened after I got home. Because of going out to get checked out on the coachesí launch (which, by the way, we never did do, as someone had taken the gas can), I got home only shortly before T would normally have been heading up to bed.

He came over, sat with me while I ate my soup (homemade matzoh-ball soup is wonderful for taking the knots out of your stomach), listened to me, offered only useful suggestions, and that sparingly, and generally did his best imitation of The Perfect Husband. (The frightening thing is that part of it was him applying tactics from his latest management class on how to deal with upset people. Apparently, this one made sense.)

A little later yesterday evening, I was lying in bed thinking how good heíd been, and how grateful I was to have such a partner, and the following started coming into focus. This is the odd part I warned you about. Iím not terribly religious, or much into prayer. I believe very strongly in free will -- normally, I thank T directly for what heís done, rather than thanking Someone for him. This one, though, came to me; I didnít go looking for it, except to complete it. I wanted it to speak of the sublimity of a spiral nebula, the purity and power of the white horses of ocean spray, and the small miracle of love, and I doubt Iíve gotten all of that, and I think it may not be done yet. But, subject to change, here is:



Jubilate

Praise the One Who brought all to be.

Praise the Spirit Who spawned the uncountable universes.

Praise the Shekhina Whose thought set the cosmos expanding,

Praise the Builder Who laid the structure that from a single seed grew the galaxies in their crystalline brilliant complexity, spiral or barred or lenticular.

Praise the Mother who, self-fertilized, birthed the stars that brought forth Her grandchildren, the planets and their glory of rock and ice, of gas and spume and spray and life.

Praise the Artist, who brought about the beauty of the great and the small, of the nebulae and of the northern woods, of Lunaís stark surface and of the lush life of a coral reef, of Neptuneís brilliant blues and of the white surf that rides the waves.

Praise the Prime Mover Whose physical laws, set in motion, led to this place and this moment, where I and my beloved come together, at home in a small corner of a small planet (at the round earthís imagined corners) in a small galaxy on the edge of Somewhere.

Sing in praise.

Posted by dichroic at 11:31 AM

impending doom


I am in deep shit. I think.

If I havenít mentioned it before, I coach rowing, as well as doing it myself. T and I will be teaching Beginner and Intermediate classes on weekends, starting in two weeks. I hadnít gotten checked out on the new coaching launches, since they arrived shortly before I left for MA, so I called up Coach DI and arranged to do that yesterday evening.

I got there in time to see the last half hour of the Juniorsí class, including not only rowing but calisthenics enough to make me glad Iím not in high school any longer. After they were done, DI completely reamed them out for being soft and having a lackadaisical attitude (mispronouncing "lackadaisical" in the process). Like kids in a strict ballet or martial arts class, they seemed to thrive on it, actually, but that lecture should probably have clued me in that he was in a bad mood. Heís been crabby lately anyhow, probably overworked and burnt out.

They finally finished, and before we went down to the launch, I pointed out that someone elseís boat was tied down on my slings (just cheap camp-stools). This is a problem partly in case I want to use them and partly because itís not safe. The boat could easily be blown over in a high wind, and rowing shells are fragile as well as expensive. There are other slings there, but theyíre also private property.

That apparently was the wrong thing to say. As soon as we were out of earshot of anyone else, Coach DI ripped in to me. Apparently I hurt his feelings, because (he said) the last several times I have seen him, I have complained about something he has done, or rather not done, without even saying "Hello" first.

Two of those issues are that he owes me a shirt, to replace one I lent to a cox from another club who coxed a boat of ours (that I wasnít in) in a race) and a jacket, because the one he ordered for me is way too big. These are low priority to him, and rightly so, but Iíve been waiting for both for quite a few months now, and anyway, I donít really believe I should have to keep track of other peopleís priorities. If you said youíd do something, youíre supposed to do it, in at least a reasonable period of time.

Of course, anything I said only made him angrier and increased the volume. DIís one of those people who canít brook disagreement, when once heís gotten mad. He asked if he had ever treated me disrespectfully until now, and of course, I couldnít think of specific instances, while standing there under fire.

After my last boss, another screamer, quit, I swore I would not allow myself to be yelled at again, by anyone who didnít have the right to do so.

Now, in mitigation: itís greatly to DIís credit that he at least waited to start bellowing until there was no one else around. Itís also good that after all the yelling, he was able to calm down and answer some other questions I had. My former boss would not have been so considerate, on either count. And DI claims that it was I who ordered the jacket in a medium instead of small. Given my size, this seems unlikely, unless I was told they didnít make smalls, but it is possible. Finally, the bit about my addressing concerns (though I do it politely) before even saying hello is true, and I finally figured out why while I was fuming last night. Generally, I have to wait for quite a while to get to talk to him, there are often several people trying to do the same. Also, he has a tendency to wander off and go talk to someone else while Iím trying to talk to him, so I do tend to get right to the problem and speak fast. (This applies even to, say, questions about coaching, not just to things affecting only me.) Speaking of "acting disrespectfully"....

These explosions happen every few months, and I am fucking sick and tired of them. The upshot is, I wrote him an e-mail last night, as formal and polite as I could make it. I ran it by T, who is generally calm and opposed to confrontation, and even he agreed it was the right thing to do. From memory, it was something like this:



I am writing this e-mail because, frankly, I canít think clearly when someone is screaming at me. You may call this cowardice if you like; I donít much care. The answer to your question is yes, you have treated me with disrespect; you yell at me about every two months. When I put myself in your class, I give you implicit permission to run the class however you see fit. If I donít like it, I can always leave. Outside of class, however, you do not have the right to yell at me. It is neither pleasant nor productive. Please donít do it again.

I will endeavor to accept, gracefully, any constructive criticism that is offered to me in a civilized manner.

I did go to rowing this morning, just to show my face, but we didnít go out because of wind. Anyway, DI generally checks his mail about once a day, during business hours, so he probably hadnít seen it yet.

I expect an explosion sometime later today.

Posted by dichroic at 09:31 AM

April 09, 2001

Is a small gym rat a gym mouse?


Rowing news? What rowing news?

I didnít include it in my earlier entry today because there wasnít any. We had 20+ people show up, including enough of us small female types for a womenís lightweight eight (first time this whole group had been together). And no coaches. Two of us there to row today do coach other classes, but neither of us is checked out for the coachesí launch, and taking a class out without it is against the programís Rules.

Instead, I went to a nearby branch of my gym, to do the arm workout T and I skipped on Wednesday. (More of that incredibly seductive sleeping-in stuff.) I did 2000 m on the rowing machine as a warmup, at a pretty good pace, then a bunch of pulls, pushes and curls. My own branch of the gym isnít fully open yet; this one had at least three machines for each exercise. Combine that with the fact that Iíve been rowing so much I hadnít done much lifting since getting back, and itís not surprising that all of the equipment was a little different than what Iíd been using. The motions are generally the same, but every machine is weighted a little differently, so I experimented a bit to figure out what weights to use -- the idea is to do one set each of 12, 10, and 8 reps at progressively higher weights.

And now we get to the raison díetre for all of this gym-rat verbiage. I was especially surprised to only be lifting 30-35 pounds on the shoulder press machine (same as a military press, I think). I was fairly disgusted with myself.....until I read Marnís entry for today, in which she discusses how proud she and her trainer were that she shoulder pressed 30 lbs, "because most girls can only do 15". I gloat. I am a stud muffaletta (female, smaller, and more tasty than a stud muffin).

Todayís Vocabulary Word:
Muffalettas are sort of New Orleansí answer to the hoagie, if you didnít know. Round, lots of cold cuts and veggies -- for US readers, thatís where Schlotzsky Sandwiches got the idea.

Posted by dichroic at 04:31 PM

Monday morning


Why do they make weekends so short?


How on earth is a person supposed to fit 40-50 hours of work, at least one serious hobby, eating, sleeping, other physiological necessities, and the requisite amount of reading, thinking, and loving needed to live a full life, into one paltry 168-hour week?

I liked Phelpís dream, in which she, Mechaieh, and I shared a house. Not that I would want to do without our respective male companions, but the idea of tending the lemon trees, reading and reading and reading, and enjoying the conversation and good food that would necessarily be in any house containing those two, sounds like a good way to live a life. At least for a while, at least if there were rocks to climb, rivers to row, or paths to hike nearby.

This was my first weekend at back at home. I do feel that I made good use of the time with T, but I still havenít gotten all of my stuff put away. (At least my priorities are straight.)

On the other hand, the weekend did include physical activity outdoors, sex, and even a bit of socializing, so by objective standards, it was successful. Those three things are, to us, the Three Pillars of a Good Weekend.

These last few entries have been a bit of an experiment. I find Iím still uncomfortable discussing sex in this public forum, even as tangentially as I have discussed it here. This is only as it applies to me; I have no difficulty going into clinical detail in the abstract, or even telling filthy jokes. I donít know whether itís a hangup or a decent sense of reticence, but thatís probably a matter of opinion anyway. Itís not really important which it is; either way itís me. So I wonít force it any longer, though I sure as hell donít promise to keep these pages squeaky clean -- that wouldnít be me either.

I will be interested to see what this week brings at work. It was looking promising by the middle of last week, but by the end of the week, things were a bit slow. If I donít get busier this week, Iíll have to take steps of some sort to up the challenge level. The big decision will be what sort of steps.

Posted by dichroic at 09:31 AM

April 08, 2001

in search of morpheus

Posted by dichroic at 09:31 PM

April 07, 2001

Passover and other pleasures

Posted by dichroic at 01:31 PM

April 06, 2001

the wild is calling, calling....


The new quotation Iíve added above is from Ewan MacCollís song The Joy of Living, which is actually his farewell to life and the people and things he loved. The whole thing is beautiful, but those two lines, especially, make me want to go out and do....things. I havenít figured out what things, exactly, yet, but I know if I did them, theyíd be profound and significant and Iíd be a better woman for the experience.

Watching sunrises over mountains and water is probably one of them; if youíve been wondering just why I row at 5AM, thatís one of the reasons.

Right now, too, the desert is in a mood thatís just asking for someone to go out and play in it. There was a big storm last night and now everything is fresh and a bit cool. Thereís a wet breeze that smells of sage, and big cottony clouds piling up above the palm trees outside my window. Iím sure the ocotillo is in leaf and maybe in bloom, and the saguaro will be budding soon, those big funny buds that look like clumps of hair sticking up out of a head.

MacColl was writing about the Scottish Highlands, but itís the mood of his words and the love for the physical world that come through, much more than the details of crag and heather. Robert Service, whose words hit me harder than many a poet who is considered artistically superior, did the same thing in Call of the Wild:



Have you gazed on naked grandeur where thereís nothing else to gaze on,

Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,

Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding sunsets blazon,

Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?

Have you swept the visioned valley with the green stream streaking through it,

Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?

Have you strung your soul to silence? Then for Godís sake go and do it;

Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.

Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;

Let us journey to a lonely land I know.

Thereís a whisper on the night-wind, thereís a star agleam to guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling. . .let us go.


Itís easy to hear that call, if you pay attention when youíre outside on a day like this.

There are other verses, about the desert and the Arctic and the bonds of civilization, but itís the verses Iíve quoted, the first one and half of the last, that are strong enough, if they came at exactly the right time, to make a person quit her desk job just to seek her fortune.

Iím stil here, so either Iím wrong or itís not the right time. But maybe someday...

Then again, I always remind myself, after his time at Walden Pond, Thoreau came back out of the forest, and back into Concord.

Posted by dichroic at 04:31 PM

rowing news, thoughts on Dad


First, the rowing news:

Practice was actually a lot of fun today. I was in a mixed eight again, but this time not with a bunch of behemoths. I actually got to carry the boat on my shoulder. Also, we had two coaches out in two launches, so both boats (the other one was a menís quad) actually got some real coaching. We were doing 25-stroke pieces at 3/4 pressure, starting at a 20 rate then upping the rate by two every five strokes so we ended on a 30. Now, itís true that I like any drill that lets you paddle lightly every 25 strokes, but also I was astounded at how far the rowers in my program have come. You know how itís easiest to see how much a child has grown if you only see her at infrequent intervals? Thatís sort of the perspective I have on the rowing program after coming back from 3 months away. Probably the last time I did much rowing at a 30 rate was last October, when I was one of 8 women training for the Head of the Charles. Our cox wanted us to do that whole race at a 30, at frankly, we couldnít do it. The only way we could row that fast was to shorten up our slides. Today, in contrast, with a mixed boat that wasnít even used to rowing together, we hit that 30 and it felt good. We werenít even rushing up our slides.

Now all I have to do is work on catching up to all those people who have been improving while I was gone.

End of the rowing news.

Phelpsís stories about learning to play baseball from her dad made me think of my own father. Dadís a bit of a throwback to Archie Bunker, and, unfortunately, a bit proud of it. He didnít take it well when I dated a Filipino man in college. And, though he doesnít do it often, he still believes that in extreme cases (such as when your daughter is dating someone of another race or religion) a man should be able to put his foot down and draw the line in his own house. Once when I told him I had just needed to replace my car battery, he asked if T had done it for me (note to the mechanically uninclined: replacing a car battery is only slightly more difficult than replacing a calculator battery, though itís heavier and usually dirtier). I found that one especially annoying from my own parent: if I hadnít known how to replace a car battery, whose fault would it have been for not teaching me?

On the other hand, if he wasnít there much while I was growing up, it was because he was working long hours to support us. And he once told me, shortly before my wedding, that the day I was born was the happiest one of his life. (If the subtext was that itís been downhill ever since, I donít want to know about it.) Any mechanical or engineering ability I have comes from him, and I did learn how to paint and do some very basic wiring from him, as well as how to fly a kite (but not how to throw a ball, which I still donít do well).

Still, Dadís definitely got the view that some tasks are more suited to men than to women. Which is while I still think itís hilariously funny that he ended up with a daughter whoís an engineer and a son whoís a writer.

Posted by dichroic at 09:31 AM

April 05, 2001

weekend and holiday plans


later morning 2001-04-05 010405_31.html
weekend and holiday plans

Note to non-rowers: this entry will be in English. You can start reading again.

Exciting News

I have now been here long enough to start splitting up my archives by month. If you click on Older Entries, you will see this monthís postings and then a link to all the stuff I wrote in March. Okay, I realize that may not be especially interesting to anyone else, but dammit, itís a milestone of a sort. After the age of 21, if you donít have kids, there are fewer and fewer of those, so I like to recognize them when they happen. The day I get my first Google referral will no doubt be another big banner day.

End of announcement

The one good thing about Tís current schedule is that he takes weekends off....no work, no rowing, no coaching. We are planning to spend this particular weekend Together, for which purpose we plan to visit an interesting local boutique tomorrow evening. A, ummm, toystore. (Damn! I just realized I forgot to buy grapes yesterday.) Donít worry, I wonít go into detail here (well, I may go into detail on people-watching and new products at the Castle Boutique, but just for human interest reasons). On the other hand, at least if I happen to get out of bed and write anything here, it wonít be about rowing.

Weíre supposed to have someone come by and check the cable Saturday, so with luck, Iíll even be working on a faster connection. (Also, to keep from scaring the repair person, decently dressed.)

"In keeping with the theme of the weekend", as T put it, Passover dinner will just be the two of us, by candle light. The menu involves matzoh ball soup, but Iím not sure what else. In a rare fit of Jewish-friendly buying, my local supermarket had not cut-up whole chicken, so I donít have to either improvise or do my own cutting, but actual, real mandlen (soup nuts). Next thing you know, theyíll start stocking kasha again (they stopped carrying it about 6 months ago, possibly because I was the only customer who ever bought any).

I was brought up in the Ashkenazic tradition of Judaism, as a Conservative (that is, not Orthodox or Reform) Jew. In that tradition, in addition to the basic prohibition against leavened bread, thre are all kinds of other foods that are not eaten during Passover: any grain product not specially marked for Passover (prepared under the supervision of a Rabbi) including things like malto-dextrin, and legumes, for reasons I have never understood.

Iím sorry, but I think thatís just stupid. (And now if I get struck down by lightning, youíll know why.) I like ritual, but I also like to know the historic reason for it, and Iím pretty sure bean-dip wasnít one of the things the Jews left behind when they fled Egypt. Those additional prohibitions are also not found in all streams of Judaism; one Israeli told me the "nobody really likes matzoh" so he and his friends used to go into the Arab neighborhoods to buy pita bread for Passover. Though I do like matzoh, really. So my chicken soup will have noodles in it, and I wonít scan the ingredients of everything I serve in case there might be lurking soybeans.

I probably wonít really keep Pasadic anyhow, but I wonít serve bread at my sort-of-a-Seder dinner, either, even though it is just the two of us.

And the answer to "Why is this night different from all other nights?" will be "Because we get to stay up later than seven PM, if we want to."

Posted by dichroic at 10:31 AM

trouble on Town Lake


Rowing practice felt a little better today, but as usual, Iím a bit annoyed with Coach DI. (I tried just calling him Coach here, but it just didnít sound right -- the DI is for "Drill Instructor", based on a certain similarity of approach.) It is entirely possible, maybe even likely, that Iím just being defensive so that I wonít have to admit how badly Iím rowing. So feel free to take the following with a large grain of salt.

One reason Iím loath to take Coach DIís comments today seriously is that he spent almost all of todayís practice with the other boat, as they were having steering issues. Itís very difficult to steer a quad; there is no cox, so you have to steer from bow seat, while rowing and while facing backward. Itís hard as hell to look back over your shoulder without missing a stroke (literally). The woman doing the steering was new at it. She managed not to hit anything, so deserves a bit of slack for steering a somewhat, er, serpentine course.

Anyway, so Coach DI spent all of 6 minutes with us, the last of 6 6-minute pieces at 65% effort, at a medium stroke rate. I did ask if he would look to see if I opened up my back too soon (that is, moved my body before finishing my leg motion, which wastes energy without moving the boat). He stayed at my end of the boat (bow) for maybe a minute, then dropped back behind the stern. Afterward, no comment at all.

So I went up to him to ask if I were still opening too soon, and he said, "Uh, maybe a little. But you had all kinds of issues going on there -- the power wasnít there and there was no puddle at all coming off your blade. Maybe you should consider dropping down to the Fitness class for a month to get back into shape. Youíve done this before, though, so maybe you just need a week or two to get back into it."

Translation according to Dichroic: "Oops, I completely forgot to look. But I didnít notice, when I dropped back, that you had no puddle."

Well, part of that is entirely true. I admit it -- I cheated. I rowed with a bit less power to concentrate on form today. Another factor in that is that I really do have less power than the rest of the boat -- todayís crew was all either male or female heavyweight. Not People My Size. Still, in the past, Iíve been able to compensate by having better form, so that a higher percentage of my power goes to moving the boat. Either Iíve lost some of that or everyone else has caught up, or, more likely, both.

Still, I donít want to drop down a level, especially since that group rows in the evenings so Iíd never see T, except when we woke each other up by my coming in late or his going out early. Also, the coach of that class rarely coaches much at all, but has been known to tell womenís crews theyíll never row as well as men. No thanks.

I wanted to say, "Look, DI, weíve been doing this together for most of a year. You should have some idea of what Iím capable of, and whether Iíll be able to get to the level you want." I didnít, but I did point out the size issue, and asked if there was another day that might work out better (different crews show up on different days). He told me that there is a lightweight womenís crew beginning on Monday, so I will first call someone to see if thatís true (given Coach DIís notorious lack of organizational ability), then plan to show up for that. Itís not ideal; Iíd be rowing MWF and T would row TTF, so every evening would be shot for one or the other of us. On the other hand, weíd at least be on the same general schedule, so itís feasible.

Also, then I wouldnít be stuck trying to carry a boat at a "shoulder height" thatís actually above my head. Ouch!!

Posted by dichroic at 09:31 AM

April 04, 2001

you are getting sleepy....


So far, the biggest source of conflict with T has been bedtimes. Heís convinced a) he needs extra sleep now due to rowing and job pressures b) he needs extra Ďmake-upí time whenever he gets behindhand. This leads to 7PM bedtimes, which, unfortunately, is about half an hour before I think of all the things I need or want to tell him. (I can understand someone being irritated at getting woken up, but in turn, I find it annoying to have someone fall asleep while Iím talking to him.)

It also makes things like laundry and grocery-shopping difficult.

And so, for reasons you will now understand, to bed.

Posted by dichroic at 07:15 PM

April 03, 2001

back on the sliding seat again

I just went to my first rowing practice in 3 months, and it was a little rough. Since Coach had me cox for the first 3 of 5 8-minute pieces, then swapped me in to five seat* for the last two, it wasnít too bad physically, though I did end up with blisters on both hands and one heel.

(*Note to nonrowers: This is funny. Typically, you put your strongest rowers in five and six seats. Iím what I call "coxswain-sized", at least 20 pounds lighter and inches shorter than anyone else in the boat this morning.)

One point on which I disagree with my coach is hydration. When I was coxing, I managed to let them stop for a quick sip of water between each piece. After I got in the boat, we didnít get to stop between the two pieces or after the second one, before rowing back to the beach -- a total of about half an hour, which can be a long time in the desert. Judging by the speech Coach gave us afterwards, he thinks hydration is for wimps.

I did manage to keep my mouth shut after getting in the boat, something with which Iíd have trouble in the past (and for which Iíve gotten scolded). The priciple is sound; if you have breath left over for talking, youíre not rowing hard enough. Also, it can distract other rowers or make it hard for them to hear the coach or cox. I said only one word ("Water??") which may be a new personal record. (There was a lot of unvocalized swearing -- at my own rowing -- but that doesnít really count.)

The rowing itself was where I had the problem. According to Coach, I had "no body control" and was all over the boat. It felt to me like I did have control for some strokes, but not consistently (an outside observer, though, would just see that each stroke was different, hence the Ďall over the boatí comment). Sigh. I wish the erg in my gym up north had had a mirror next to it. I was afraid I was getting bad habits, but it was difficult to tell. So the next thing to work on is concentration and consistency. I had been working on Ďquick hands awayí, but body control is a little more crucial.

Next problem: why is it that Gatorade manufacturers make those damned bottles so hard to open?? One of the nice things about my job is the refrigerator they keep stocked with all sorts of drinks, including the Gatorade which is essential for survival after a rowing practice on a warm day. However, the Gatorade does me no good unless I can drink it. Youíd think theyíd realize that someone drinking it has probably just worked out, and would likely have tired hands. Last summer there were days I had to ask someone to open the stupid thing for me.

A related problem is convenience stores that store Gatorade on the hightest or lowest shelf. We once stopped off for gas, food, and drinks shortly after hiking Humphreyís Peak, the tallest mountain in Arizona. Itís a strenuous 9-mile round trip, with about 4000 feet elevation gain. Bending down was so difficult I damn near had to ask for help getting a bottle off that bottom shelf.

Back to rowing: since Iíve been gone, my rowing program has spawned off Advanced and Fitness rowing classes, intended for those whose skills or motivation, respectively, arenít up to the competitive level. Coach made it clear that anyone in the competitive class should expect hard work -- he said "borderline abusive" -- and few water breaks or other indulgences. As mentioned before, I donít really see hydration as a sign of weakness. (Obviously, the solution to this is to drink up beforehand. Unfortunately, we donít stop for pee breaks either.) But I really donít understand why a coach would need to be "borderline abusive" to get top performance out of his team. Is that really necessary? Is this ignorance on my part, due to my lack of experience with coached sports, or just a choice of coaching style? And if the latter, why would a coach choose that style? As both a rower and a coach myself, Iíd love to hear from people with experiences of different coaching styles, to hear what worked well.

Posted by dichroic at 09:31 AM

April 02, 2001

settling back in


Todayís challenge is not, as usual, to decide what to say. It isnít even, as often, to find something to say, but rather to find the right phrases for what I want to say.

Coming home is wonderful, but a bit tricky. Itís as if I had wriggled myself into a comfortable spot on a sandy beach, then left for a bit and returned to find that the sand had flowed back into place behind me. Now I have to create my own Dichroic-shaped place in the sand again.

If anything, that analogy applies at home more than at work; T has gotten into habits of what to eat and when to go to bed that are fitted only to him. More specifically, heís now getting out of bed at 4 every weekday morning, not just on days we row (we have to be there before 5, and itís half an hour away). On the other mornings, he goes to the gym to lift. (I do that too, but have no desire to get there at 4:30!) He complains that if he skips even a single day, heís in pain the next time. To me, that means heís lifting too heavy a weight, but he disagrees. Making and eating dinner is also a challenge, when you have to work a full day and then get to bed so early. Itís especially difficult for me, since my gut is somewhat undependable when faced with early mornings. On the nights before rowing days, I try to eat food that wonít upset it (no lavatory in a rowing shell!), yet that will still be nutritious enough to support a very strenuous workout.

Work went a little better than I expected; there are projects for me to do, and interesting work that I can learn from. I report directly to a VP (or whatever her title is now) who is also the wife of the companyís CEO/founder. She can be a little scary but was very welcoming during our brief meeting today -- though I didnít quite muster the chutzpah to point out that Iím about due for a raise. Our company, like other Internet firms, is facing a tough time right now, so though I will ask soon, I suspect the answer will be "Not for several months at least".

It looks like I will be working to help standardize and improve our software engineering processes, and maybe do a bit of development myself, which is exactly the mix Iíd like. I did lose my office when I was gone, but when I lost my door, at least I gained a window. I also gained at least two boxes full of someone elseís books and papers which were packed up and left in my cubicle. I have no idea whose they are -- Iím the only remaining member of what was a whole QA department, so apparently the packers just assumed anything in that area was mine.

One of the nicest things about coming back was moving into a colored world again. Worcester was grey and white and brown; Phoenix, and especially my highly-landscaped, pretending-itís-not-in-a-desert office park, are all blue sky, green palm trees, red rock, and flowers everywhere. San Francisco, this weekend, was the same. Itís much like the Wizard of Oz movie, where Dorothy opens her door after the cyclone and the Technicolor cuts in.

Off to go pack clothing for the post-rowing shower tomorrow!

Posted by dichroic at 07:31 PM

weekend edition


Iím back.

One cat at my shoulder, another at my shin -- it makes for difficult typing. Iíll post something more on marriage and reality vs. idealization later (translation: I didnít realize heíd be waking me up at 4AM every weekday). But first, a roundup of the weekend.

The bit with the "executive taxi" went more or less all right; my plane was a bit early (!) and the taxi service wasnít informed when they called the airline, but I waited around a bit and the driver showed up just as I was feeling ready to give up on him. After that things went smoothly; we dropped off my luggage at the hotel, and then dropped me off at the Trio Bistro.

I had thought the bride and groom were just inviting some old friends out for a few drinks, but they had rented the whole place and there were trays of appetizers and lush desserts. Very nice. We got to hang out with some people I hadnít met and some I hadnít seen for years, and enjoyed making the acquaintance of Tís college roommateís new son (4 months old), who barely woke up for the occasion. Everyone else was a bit stiff, still, getting reacquainted.

The wedding was very beautiful. It was in an old church high on a hill, with a spectacular view out over San Francisco and the Bay. I amused myself trying to figure out whether the service was Catholic or Episcopalian (the former, I think, since the priest was addressed as "Father"), but either way, it was a good service -- solemn, but not too much so to laugh when a baby began crying right at the moment of "let them speak now or forever hold their peace". There was a solo of Ave Maria, and readings from the Bible (the Song of Songs and the Beatitudes, but NOT Corinthians) and from John Donne, and Bach and Handel played on the harpsichord.

The brideís dress made me think "Goth girl gets married" -- a top like a corset and a narrow skirt with tulle overlay, and a tiara. Very cool.

The reception featured excellent food, and disco, to complement the Bach earlier. The open bar unbent everyone, and the college stories started to flow. We had a great time. Though I did start sniffling during one slow dance with my husband.

And so, back to work.

Posted by dichroic at 06:31 AM