July 31, 2001

the obvious answer

More errata:

I changed the picture in my href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/picfixpoem.html">last entry but forgot the
change the accompanying test. As was probably obvious, those were local rowers
erging in my living room, not competitors in the CRASH-Bs.

I cut my
weight workout short today to have a fitness assessment with one of the trainers
at my gym. She tried to sell me the 10 session package, measured my body fat
(caliper method) and found it to be ok, generally, but a little higher than it
should be for me as a rower, and suggested a few exercises to add on to my routine
to strengthen my back and knees. Worth what I paid for it, I guess, since it was
free with the gym membership.

It's possible I'm deluding myself about
how much exercise I get. In theory I row 3 days a week and lift weights 2 days,
but in practice it's more usually 2 days rowing, due to href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/picfixpoem.html">piranha, lightning,
coxing, and sick days. The obvious answer is to make more effort to erg on days I
don't row. Funny how often the obvious answer is the most unpleasant
one.

Yesterday was a most frustrating day, between not rowing and a
day spent working on formatting of a Word document. The more of that I do, the
more I hate Microsoft. The problem is that I know of no competitors that are
superior to Word -- WordPerfect is even more annoying. I'm not sure whether the
problem is really that hard to solve, or if it's just that Microsoft has
discouraged all their competition.

If today doesn't improve, I may
need to bring out the heavy-duty stress relievers. Time to blow bubbles!

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2001

pic, fix, and a poem

I was looking for a picture of an erg, and came across this on Concept II's web page. Read it Ė it's an interview with a 90-year-old woman who’s been rowing since 1938. Interesting to hear that she was told "girls don't row," back then; Dorothy Sayers commented on the issues of women being in college at all, but treated women's rowing at Oxford quite matter-of-factly, a few years earlier. As Christopher Morley noted, in his wonderful columns on the city, Philadelphia has rarely been at the forefront of fashion (I think the last time was 1776).

These are some of the pictures from people erging at my house,
finally:


And now I've gotten that out of the way, I have a couple of corrections to make. The lake is now back open. Apparently -- I am not making this up -- someone caught a fish that was thought to be a piranha, but that turns out to be a related species that only eats other fish. I swear, I am not making this up. Hardcore tried to set up a raffle in which each participant puts in $5 and takes a guess as to the real reason -- opinion is divided as to whether the guesser closest to the real reason or the most creative one should win the pot. Queue very nearly guessed right, actually.

Also, it turns out, from discussions with Rudder, who has an instrument rating,
and from additional news coverage, that the problem with the new stadium is not that it would obstruct the VFR, as I said earlier, but that it would obstruct the ILS (Instrument Landing System) for the north runway. So just the one runway is affected, not all local traffic, but my other arguments still apply. The obstruction is still there whether the stadium is full or not, and the people who think airport safety ends at the airport fence are still
idiots.

Speaking of aviation, we were riding around a private airstrip this weekend,
looking at all the cool houses, and stopped to watch two guys flying their radio-
controlled airplanes. These were the smaller sort, with wingspans of less than 2
feet. One had a trainer, which appeared to be modeled on a Cessna 172, but the other was modeled on a Sukhoi, one of the hottest aerobatic planes there is. He was a good pilot, too; it was fun to watch the little thing doing snap rolls and attempting hammerheads. They were kind enough to let us take a turn, too, using a "buddy box" that could be over-ridden if we seemed to be doing anything risky. Those are harder to fly than you'd think.


If you look hard, you can usually tell an RC plane from a real one. The scale can be deceiving at a distance, but somehow they seem to fly more lightly, and turn more easily than a real one, like the difference between a sparrow's flight and a hawk's.


Tracing loops and spirals in a spirograph pattern

No larger wings could match,

To the evident bewilderment of a raven flying by,

The little craft wheeled and swung,

In deceptively precise abandon.

All I could think was with what joy
Leonardo's spirit, watching, would be
weeping.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

Model Flying

I was looking for a picture of an erg, and came across this on ConceptII's web page. Read it Ė it's an interview with a 90-year-old woman whoís been rowing since 1938. Interesting to hear that she was told "girls donít row," back then; Dorothy Sayers commented on the issues of women being in college at all, but treated womenís rowing at Oxford quite matter-of-factly, a few years earlier. As Christopher Morley noted, in his wonderful columns on the city, Philadelphia has rarely been at the forefront of fashion (I think the last time was 1776).
(Note: the article's no longer up.)

And now I've gotten that out of the way, I have a couple of corrections to make. The lake is now back open. Apparently -- I am not making this up -- someone caught a fish that was thought to be a piranha, but that turns out to be a related species that only eats other fish. I swear, I am not making this up. Hardcore tried to set up a raffle in which each participant puts in $5 and takes a guess as to the real reason -- opinion is divided as to whether the guesser closest to the real reason or the most creative one should win the pot. Queue very nearly guessed right, actually.


Also, it turns out, from discussions with Rudder, who has an instrument rating, and from additional news coverage, that the problem with the new stadium is not that it would obstruct the VFR, as I said earlier, but that it would obstruct the ILS (Instrument Landing System) for the north runway. So just the one runway is affected, not all local traffic, but my other arguments still apply. The obstruction is still there whether the stadium is full or not, and the people who think airport safety ends at the airport fence are still idiots.


Speaking of aviation, we were riding around a private airstrip this weekend, looking at all the cool houses, and stopped to watch two guys flying their radio-controlled airplanes. These were the smaller sort, with wingspans of less than 2 feet. One had a trainer, which appeared to be modeled on a Cessna 172, but the other was modeled on a Sukhoi, one of the hottest aerobatic planes there is. He was a good pilot, too; it was fun to watch the little thing doing snap rolls and attempting hammerheads. They were kind enough to let us take a turn, too, using a "buddy box" that could be over-ridden if we seemed to be doing anything risky. Those are harder to fly than you'd think.


If you look hard, you can usually tell an RC plane from a real one. The scale can be deceiving at a distance, but somehow they seem to fly more lightly, and turn more easily than a real one, like the difference between a sparrowís flight and a hawkís.


Tracing loops and spirals in a spirograph pattern
No larger wings could match,
To the evident bewilderment of a raven flying by,
The little craft wheeled and swung,
In deceptively precise abandon.

All I could think was with what joy
Leonardoís spirit, watching, would be weeping.


Posted by dichroic at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)

the lake is closed!

Mystery this morning: We drove out to rowing practice, only to find out that our
lake is closed, indefinitely. According to Yosemite Sam, the city people he spoke
to acted as if they knew the reason, but wouldn't tell him. My best guess is that
maybe there's an issue with water quality. There has been some rain, and there was
a flash-flooding warning last night, so possible they've had something odd
draining into the lake. Considering the numbers of dead birds and fish we see
there, and the lack of outflow from the lake, the water quality's not great at the
best of times. The scary thing is that people fish there -- I'm sure they're all
supposed to do catch-and-release, but who knows if they really
do.

I've left a message with Unknown Legend, and done an unsuccessful
search in the local newspaper's online version, to try to find the reason for the
closure. Meanwhile, I need to figure out what to do. In some ways this comes at a
good time for me. I had been thinking of taking a mini-vacation (no rowing, no
gym, just work) for a week or a month, so now I need to decide what to do. The
argument against simply taking the time off is that I know how difficult it will
be to get back into rowing if I do. I may just stick with the twice-weekly gym
workouts, but scale down the weight training and add a bit more
cardio.

This is more of a problem for Rudder, since he and T2 are
about to begin serious training for the Head of the Charles, in
October.

My list is still acting up; the Troglodyte's increasing
rudeness has spawned some decrease in the civility level of others, as well as
quite a few people trying responsibly to foster respect for others' opinions, or,
perhaps more productively, to change the topic entirely. At least one person has
complained about my coming down on the Trog while letting others off, making
reference to an In Crowd, but I actually had couched my rebuke in general terms on
purpose. Sigh. Playground dynamics at their finest.

On Sunday we
watched someone flying some RC planes out at the airstrip our property is one.
They fly, somehow, so much more lightly than a real plane. I've got something
spinning in my head about it, but the words haven't quite materialized
yet.

Posted by dichroic at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2001

troglodyte resurfacing

Urrgh. A former list troglodyte seems to have resurfaced, on the list I moderate.
This one appears to thrive on being proven wrong -- he just comes back and argues
harder. Last time the only thing that shut him up was when people started to
ignore his idiocies.

The problem is, I don't like doing that.
My natural inclinations are to go on arguing until everyone else realizes I'm
right. Only what really happens is that they give in only through sheer
exhaustion, which is not nearly as satisfying a way to win an argument as through
the sheer power of being Right.

Anyway, this guy has come up with
some outrageous and offensive arguments, and I have the feeling he may not even
believe them, but says these things just to get people riled up. Ugh, ugh, ugh.
That's the last thing that list needs, after some of the recent bad feelings
there.

I haven't said anything to him yet, only because quite a few
other people have told him he's a moron more convincingly that I could. I did
administer a very gentle rebuke to one person who flat-out called him stupid, but
my sympathies are all on her side. If he keeps on like this, I will eventually
have to tell him to improve his manners or shut up, a chore to which I don't look
forward. Maybe it's time to retire.

At least camping this weekend was
relaxing. Was.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2001

Ill fortune

Today, several of us went out to lunch at a P.F. Chang's. They serve nothing so
mundane as Chinese food there; I think they call it Pacific Rim food, or something
like that. The food's very good, actually.

Anyway, it was a good-bye
lunch for someone leaving the company; we haven't been doing that much because at
the rate people have been hemorrhaging out of here, there's not enough lunches in
the week. But someone decided to organize this for those of us who'd been working
on a project with the guy leaving so I thought I'd go.

Now on this
project, we have bi-weekly lunch meetings, and we had all gone to P.F. Chang's
about a month ago. One Chinese restaurant tradition they do uphold is fortune
cookies at the end of the meal. At that meal, the guy who's leaving got a fortune
something like "You will receive a promotion or new opportunity at work", whereas
mine was along the lines of "Nothing interesting will happen to you in the near
future." Ok, I'm making that up, but I do remember that mine was totally
lame.

So today, I opened my cookie with great anticipation, to
find....nothing. No fortune. Empty cookie. No future. Bad omen.

When
the loud and gung-ho waiter came by we acquainted him with my plight. He squatted
down by my chair and said "But that means your future can be whatever you want,
sweetheart." I said, "Nice try, and DON'T fucking call me sweetheart."
(Technically speaking, I only thought that last part, by it may have been in my
eyes, because he stood up quickly and said, "But don't worry, I'll get you another
one."

He did, and fairly promptly. And once, again, with great
anticipation, I opened my cookie, waiting to see if the world was about to dish up
the embodiment of my wildest dreams.

Nope.

This fortune
said, "You are cautious, conservative, and practical." Well, clearly not, or I
wouldn't mind getting a fortune like that.

I could just spit.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

This is what it looks like

A small apology: I meant to upload some pictures of women erging, but my cable was down from Sunday to Wednesday, which means phone, internet connection and TV were all out. I forgot to upload the pictures once we finally got that fixed. In compensation, though, here are some I'd sent before the cable went kablooie.

Rudder and his partner T2 in their double, right at sunrise:

and a mixed eight during a race piece:

0>

We had two more people come over to erg last night, but only one actually wants to go to Boston. The other was there to set a pace for her -- they're good friends and erg together a lot. So they've only actually had three people try out, and they need at least five, including the alternate. Six would be better. I'm sort of glad I opted out of the whole thing, though I have this vision of them pulling me into the boat at the last minute, since I'll be in Boston anyway, to watch Rudder race.

In this morning's practice, I got to row a lightweight women's quad, but for some reason it wasn't as much fun as it has been. We kept rushing Egret who was in stroke, and she kept hollering about it. She was completely right, but the yelling was annoying anyway, because if she's got breath to yell, she's not rowing as hard as she could be, and because I can't hear her, from bow, anyway, since she's yelling downwind (that is, I can hear that she's yelling, but not what she's saying). Stroke seat is really just supposed to communicate through their oar, anyway.

Since it's been awhile, I think an all-rowing entry is pardonable!

Posted by dichroic at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2001

on vices and reasons therefore

Gym, arms. Forgot to log my damned erging again (in case I ever remember to look
back for it, I did 6000m Sunday in 30:54, 1000m Tuesday, and 1000m
today.)

I find myself censoring what I post on my main list lately,
and I don't like that. I used to feel able to talk about almost everything there,
but we've had some issue lately with people being easily offended and then
proceeding to insult everyone else. I thought about taking the tidbit I mentioned
here yesterday on North Carolina's "retroactive" execution law over to
misc.writers instead, where everybody mortally insults each other constantly and
seems to get over it just as habitually, but decided that the list friends I have
come to respect over the last few years needed to see that one.

I was
afraid it would spark acrimony over the whole death penalty issue, which is not
what happened. Rather, it sparked a discussion on stupid sales-tax laws, which led
to whether governments should tax high-calorie food at a higher rate. That led to
discussion of whether government should enforce declarations of the nutritional
value of food in restaurants, which led to acrimony over whether people just don't
want to know what they're eating.

It's pretty clear by now that
anyone who is fat, or who smokes, knows it's bad for them. Anyone with working
brain cells, anyhow; there are still people who feed their kids at McDonalds every
night, but those people are stupid because they are stupid, not because they are
fat, and that problem is way beyond me. So why do people still do things that are
bad for them? Well, probably not out of ignorance.

So at least one
person managed to imply it's out of laziness, and thereby upset every overweight
person on our list. (Did I say being thin doesn't mean being smart, either?) But
it's got to be more complicated than that. My Dad has smoked for about 50 years,
and he's not stupid, and I don't think laziness is a factor. I can think of any
number of reasons to do things that are bad for you, and I do think of them, every
time I do something that's bad for me. Dad will say, if you ask him, that he gets
pleasure out of smoking and that he doesn't want to live forever
anyhow.

I have had one person, exactly one, ever, tell me that to
her, the problem with dieting is that you have so little energy. To me though, and
from my own experience, this would be a huge factor. If I don't eat enough, my
blood sugar goes down, and I'm dead tired and miserably crabby. I don't think I'd
want to do that on purpose. I also don't eat as well as I should, because of pure
lack of time to plan and prepare good meals. We do eat a lot of green salads, but
that gets unutterably boring. Rudder puts beef or chicken or fish on his, but I
just don't generally like meat on my salads, so I also probably get too little
protein. Sometimes for variety, I'll have with almost equally exciting baked
potatoes or ramen noodles -- I try hard to eat something that won't be gurgling in
my stomach and trying to escape during rowing practice the next
morning.

I can also imagine being overweight simply because losing
weight is, by all accounts, so bloody damned hard, or smoking because it's the
only moment of peace in an otherwise killer day, or not working out because of too
many other higher priorities. Or drinking too much through a sheer need to numb
your brain after a brutal week. No, wait, I don't have to imagine that one; memory
will do fine. Or insulting someone through sheer lack of thought, as I have also
done, and seen done, far too frequently lately.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2001

cable's back

My cable's back up! Yaaaayy!

Now I can make phone calls, check
email, and watch TV. Even all at once.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

Dichroic being controversial again

No rowing this morning, because there was lots of lightning, so I just went to
work early. I miss my window; I'd like to watch this. This will work out well,
though, because I need to leave early to be at home for the people to come fix our
cable.

On the way to rowing, I heard an NPR piece about a new law in
North Carolina. Their state legislature has just voted to make it illegal to
execute a mentally retarded person, one with an IQ under 70. It worries me how
many states, including my own, are only now passing that law. But the part that
really worried me was when they said the new North Carolina law would be
retroactive.

A retroactive law to prevent some people from being
killed -- neat trick, huh? Apparently what they meant was that the new law will
affect people now on Death Row, not that they'll try to revive previously executed
people.

My thinking on the death penalty has changed in recent years.
I still believe in it, in the abstract. I doubt it's much of a deterrent but I do
think that those capable of the worst, most appalling crimes should be removed
from society, in the same way we put down mad dogs. If those criminals could be
"cured", how could they live with the knowledge of what they had done,
anyway?

However, that only works if the death penalty can be fairly,
accurately, and quickly applied. I have read too much evidence that the first two
are not accurate descriptions of our system -- and the death penalty is absolutely
final. Once it has been applied, there is no way to say, "Oops, sorry, we made a
mistake, you can come back to life now." Also, we do seem to have a tendency to
apply this ultimate sentence to some groups more than to others. If we can't be
impartial, we can't know that we are being accurate.

At any rate, the
system by which convicted criminals are locked up for years, even if they don't
appeal, with the vision of the lethal injection held before them the whole time,
is horrible. We don't torture mad dogs before we put them down. We do it and get
it over with. England used to execute condemned criminals not more than three days
after the judge had pronounced his sentence. This is much better in the cases
where the verdict was accurate; the drawback, obviously, is that a wrongly
convicted criminal would have no time to appeal, a built-in contradiction to the
system. So it is possible that there is no good and fair way to apply the death
penalty. In which case, we ought not to apply it at all.

Posted by dichroic at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2001

random neurons firing

Today I have not a narrative nor a diatribe, nor even a pondering essay, but only
a collection of random musings.

Blame it on lack of sleep; our power
kept going off and coming back on last night. Amazing how much noise a clock can
make coming back on, not to mention the resumption of the usual background drone
of refrigerators, air conditioners, and street lights.

The
interrupted sleep may also explain why when the alarm went off, I was dreaming
that I was George Weasley, hiking up a snowy mountain in company with my mother
and three other people, one male and two female. It may be the truncated REM
cycles, as I say, though I'm more likely to blame href="http://fanfiction.net/index.fic?action=directory-
authorProfile&userid=4446">Rebecca Bohner
, myself, for her vivid portrayal of
George in her fanfic trilogy-in-progress.

The power outage in
combination with my still-
dead cable
makes me wonder if anything sinister is going on.

NPR
announced this morning that Eudora Welty had died. I didn't actually know she was
still alive,
actually.

I've actually gotten around to reading one of the issues of
the Atlantic Monthly that I'm being sent
to complete my subscription to the Library of Congress's defunct Civilization
magazine (yes, Civilization as I knew it is dead) and I'm quite impressed. Though
they are a bit slow -- the current issue has a story href="http://www.theatlantic.com/cgi-bin/o/unbound/flashbks/twain.htm">Mark Twain
wrote for them
-- for this very periodical -- 125 years ago, and they're just
now publishing it.

The impressive thing is that that wasn't even the
most newsworthy item in the magazine. I'd already read or heard , without
realizing where they came from, articles responding to B. R. Myers Reader's
Manifesto
, in which he attacks current lit'ritchure for being unreadable, and
Brooke Allen's Two -
- Make That Three -- Cheers for the Chain Bookstores
, in which she points out
that those often-lamented independent bookstores, especially outside big cities,
weren't really all that good at providing readers with the books they wanted. I
agree with both essays, which is why the books I read tend not to be gushed over
by highbrow critics and why I have a fondness for Borders that I never felt for
the probably-dead-by-now Marlo's book store, whose puny treasures could never hope
to match the richness that was the local public library. And the library was
closer to my house, at a time when crossing major street was a fairly new
skill.

I need to write about that library sometime; it was wonderful,
though it looks much smaller now, on my rare visits to the
neighborhood.

Someone at work made the coolest comment yesterday --
he told me I looked like the bass player for the Go-Gos. The resemblance is mostly
superficial, I think (short dark hair, dark eyes), but still.

Yet
another of our smartest people just sent out an email to say he's leaving. What
does that say about those of us who are still here?

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2001

Murphy strikes again

Not a good day, not good at all.

First, there was the move into the
MiniCube. Now, I'm sure there are lots of people who think that MiniCubes are fine
places to work. Those, of course, would be the higher-ups in offices. Fine places
for other people to work, that is. (And what kind of message does it send to put
your QA Manager in a MiniCube anyway? I'm not sure exactly, but I have a strong
hunch it's not "Quality is our first priority!")

The MiniCube is not
only tiny, but very exposed, so the next disappointment was when it turned out
that Amazon no longer carries the full line of Dilbert products (I think it must
be because they replaced their own toy section with Toys 'R' Us). This means I
can't install the Dilbert inflatable Cubicle Door. Lots of other places on the web
claim to carry Dilbert products, including the main href="http://www.dilbert.com">Dilbert Site, but they all seem to link back to
Amazon.

Last night, our phone, TV, and net connection, all from our
local cable company, went down about 7 PM. I didn't check the TV or cable modem
this morning, but phone calls to the house turn right into dial tones, and I
strongly doubt the other connections are back up. So I called the cable company
for service. After speaking to four different people, including one genius who
seemed to think phone, TV, and modem going down at the same time indicated three
separate problems, plus a machine that first threatened me with a 10-minute wait
and then hung up on me, I was able to secure a service appointment for 3-5 on
Wednesday. That's right, I have to go without phone and computer for TWO WHOLE
DAYS and then take time off work just because someone else apparently cut my cable
line.

Now if an area outage was reported, they get someone on it
right away. The guy with working brain cells I finally got hold of seemed to think
that if all three of my services were down, the whole cluster was probably
affected. However, since it's now been about 17 hours since they all went down and
no one else has called in, that seems unlikely to me. Or maybe all of my neighbors
have DSL, satellite TV, and cell phones, in which case I still have to wait 2 days
for service. This exemplary service company is Cox Cable, by the way, C-O-X, just
in case anyone reading this was thinking of using them.

Oh and the
server at work is still down, so I still can't access the files I need to work
on.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

ergs and cubes

First, thanks to all the people who responded to my blatant fishing for
compliments on the new
hair
. Pitiful, I know, but your comments made me feel much, much better.

Being descended upon by hordes of rowing women yesterday turned out
to be mildly amusing. Five showed up but only two did erg pieces. The others were
there "to cheer". They'll have enough people to make up a four (DrunkTina is
coming over to do her piece tomorrow) but I think they really need more people
trying out to get a truly competitive boat. My guess is that Yosemite Sam's talk
about how intense the practices and competition would be scared a lot of people
off, though no one's giving that as a reason.

And since I'm always
talking about erging here, and I imagine a bunch of readers (assuming I
have a bunch of readers) going "Huh?", I promise I will post photos
tomorrow. I meant to do it today, but our cable was out last night (modem, TV, and
phone all down) so I couldn't upload them.

I almost forgot to say that today's practice was also quite amusing -- me in a
quad with Rudder and two other big guys. Don't ask me why YSam called it that way,
but it was fun as well as funny -- I've had worse rows. I did have trouble
steering with that much weight in the boat, so we took the scenic tour --
serpentines all over the lake.

Today's move to our other building at work turned out to be not so amusing. I can
access the Internet, but not the server all my work files are on. Also, the new
cube is 6' by 6', and way too exposed. I don't think this will be either
comfortable or productive. It's supposed to be temporary, only until October, but
I have some doubts our new building will be done by then. It's a pity too, because
this cubicle system is well designed as these things go -- there's just not enough
of it. Next I need to head over to Amazon to see if they're still selling the
Dilbert cubicle door.

Posted by dichroic at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2001

a quiet Sunday

On the plans for today: hordes of women erging at my house. (Unless they've
changed their plans and stupidly told me about on my work email, which I can't
seem to get into right now, no doubt a casualty of our move.) Afterwards an errand
or two, then taking a test on ANSI C for an evilly tempting recruiter. (Evil,
because I suspect the job would bore me to death, tempting because I suspect there
are scads of money and shorter work hours involved.)

If I have time,
maybe I'll even go to a mall, something I hardly ever get to do. I'll go without
Rudder, who is not one of the world's better shopping companions (he's ok in REI,
but not good at aimless mall wandering). I just need some cosmetics, though, so it
would be easier to order online.

More likely, I'll go to an office
supply store to get some more magazine holders, then to an art store to get
contact paper (the sticky kind) to implement a brilliant suggestion from someone
in one of the more productive sessions of chat from my list. We save back issues
of a few magazines: Smithsonian, Air and Space, Outside and Adventure. The problem
is that those cardboard or plastic magazine organizers are ugly. No one
seems to offer anything as attractive as href="http://www.nationalgeographic.org/">National Geographic's slipcases for
normal-sized magazines; Nat'l Geo doesn't even offer them for their own Adventure
or their other spin-offs. Levenger has some
nice ones in wood and leather, but they cost a fortune. So the brilliant
suggestion is to buy the cheap ugly ones and cover them with better-looking paper
-- I'm thinking maybe a dull black or navy would be nicely inconspicuous. And in
a few weeks we should have beautifully empty new bookcases to put them on --
yay!

Nothing earth-shattering here, as usual. On the other hand, half
of the journals I've read this morning were written by people in accountably or
unaccountably bad moods, so I'm glad to have nothing worse than minor irritations
and blessed peace on tap for today.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2001

Things that went wrong

Something's wrong here. OK, I write for myself, at least mostly, and don't worry
who else reads this. But when I put a picture of myself up....well, that's not for
me. I don't need a picture of my own face. I've already got the face, available
for viewing in any reflective surface. So where are all the guestbook entries
saying "Dichroic, that's a goofy picture but even so I can tell you look FUCKING
HOT with the new 'do"? Where are they, I ask? Not in the guestbook, that's for
damn sure.

< /egotism > < /neediness >

Something
else that's wrong here is that after 10 and 12 years together, I still haven't
managed to convince my cats that, since I don't have fur, snuggling up to me with
claws out is really, really not a good idea. They seem to think it's a sign of
affection. The younger cat, Coxswain, seems to be quite fond of this laptop, also.
I think it's because, when he's walking on the desk the edge of the monitor is
just the right height to scratch his head on.

And one more good idea
gone wrong: tomorrow morning first thing, I will be descended upon by a horde of
women, and I say "horde", not "bevy", advisedly. Our rowing coaches, being from
Massachusetts, think of the Head of the Charles as the Holy Grail of regattas.
They take it far more seriously than any other race. The rowers who are trying out
for the women's four we'll send there have to do a 6000 meter erg piece to see if
their times are good enough. For some stupid reason, they need to have a coach
watching, instead of reporting their own scores. (Maybe not that stupid; somehow
some of these women have managed to do a dismayingly small amount of erging, for
people who are supposed to be competitive rowers, and some may not know you need
to warm up first and that you can't just stop for a drink in the middle of a
piece.)

So I asked Yosemite Sam if it would be acceptable for them to
have me watch a piece, instead of him or DI. He said yes, since after all I am
still officially a coach. I figured one or two women would take me up on it. After
all, we have an erg here, and it's an opportunity to do the piece in air-
conditioning, instead of outdoors in an Arizona summer. They'd call and arrange a
time to come over and I'd sit there and read a book while they erged. Painless
(for me, that is).

Instead, about 5 women are coming over at 8AM
tomorrow. I need to fold the ping pong table and bring the erg downstairs; they’ll
bring over another one. I did tell them I wouldn't have time to shop (inclination,
actually) so it was strictly a bring-your-own-Gatorade affair, and Rudder
suggested they also bring their own buckets, in case of need. Puking during a race
or even an erg piece is not unknown in this sport, which gives you some idea o the
exertion involved.

Which also reminds me that I think href="http://smartypants.diaryland.com/071901.html">Mimi Smartypants is
exactly right about pukers and nonpukers. I am the latter, and the refusal to push
myself to it may be one of the factors keeping me from excelling in my sport. (And
also in mountain biking, not that I've had much time for that
lately.)

Today I'm going flying with Rudder, riding in the backseat
which will probably put me right to sleep. (It usually does.) Next month, when
he's training an extra day a week and my credit card has recovered somewhat, I
need to do a lot more flying of my own. Before I can do that, though, I need to
read up a bit. I'm so rusty I don't even remember the altitudes to maintain to
avoid class B airspace around here, or landing speed of a Cessna 172. There's a
lot to know to fly a small plane.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2001

another picture and a bunch of words

Combine a new 'do and a new digital camera and what do you get? This,
apparently:

src="http://riseagain.net/dichroic/images/my_photo.jpg">

Sorry if that's a little grainy; I haven't had time to play with different camera
resolutions or downloading options yet. Having arranged it in advance with
Yosemite Sam, I took both the digital and the film cameras out on the coaching
launch this morning and took pictures of practice. I may post a couple of the
digital ones, if they come out well.

YSam was pissed (in the
American sense of the word) this morning, because of a few people who came late
and ended up having to ride in the launch. He hates it when people don't show up
reliably, and small wonder. I don't think he was mad at me, since my ride-along
was prearranged, but I felt a little guilty, since if I'd volunteered to row or
cox, we could have had another boat. Still, people who show up to a practice at
5:05 (when they're supposed to show at 4:45 to have time to stretch) can't really
expect the whole crew to wait for them.

I'd had a beer last night with a bunch of fellow employees and ex-fellow employees
(more of the latter than the former), so I was glad not to be rowing anyway. I can
really tell the difference, even from just one beer.

It was good
seeing all those people, but kind of depressing hearing a few are still looking
for new jobs (and you know your company is hurting when they lay off the CEO's
sister). People keeps telling me there are lots of jobs for QA, though, so if I
ever do get laid off, I'll hope they're right. Meanwhile, the experience I'm
getting is still very good, so no motivation to job-hunt. And I *still* haven't
heard whether I passed the CQA exam I took in June. They said we'd be told in six
weeks, and that will be Saturday. I was hoping they meant it would take "up to six
weeks", but apparently not. I hope I passed, since I do NOT want to retake that
exam. (Plus, the associated raise would be nice.)



On later reflection (the dichroic type, of course), it occurs to me: it really
doesn't bother me too much that this journal is generally self-involved. After
all, it's a diary, and if you can't self-centered there, then where can you? It
does bother me, more than a bit, that what comes out of my head is so often
boring. That's just a sign of a lazy mind, that is.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2001

TMI: on sex, the folk process and instrument flying

Due to the beer, Mexican food, too much chatting, and slightly late bedtime that
resulted from Rudder's being on a business trip (he gets back tonight) I got to
the gym late, so cut my workout a bit short. My shoulder hurts, anyway -- I think
it may be sympathy pains with Rudder's slightly dislocated one (pops out easily
due to a car accident years ago), except that it's the wrong shoulder. Obviously,
I'm sympathetic but a little confused.

Last night after work, I
joined T2 and Egret who always go out for a beer on Wednesdays. I like the idea of
a set time when I know I can go join someone, but I think I may pass on spending
time with them without Rudder along. The night was rife with TMI. They've been
together almost a year now, but apparently haven't yet settled comfortably enough
into the relationship to really believe the sex will still be there even if they
don't talk about it. I'm glad they're so happy together, though.

Egret is actually getting a bit stressed because T2 is about to
leave for Alaska for two weeks -- I think he planned the trip before they hooked
up. He was making jokes about my needing to get a generator, to be ready when she
takes down the power grid. I recommended using a battery-powered substitute for
him, instead, but he said, no, that wouldn't be powerful enough. You see what I
mean about TMI.

In college, I was lucky enough to take several
folklore classes with the late and greatly missed Kenny Goldstein. He taught that
the folk process is still active, but that these days the words tend to change
more than tunes, because recording sort of cements the tunes in public memory. On
NPR this morning, they had a bit on the Blind Boys of Alabama, a gospel group
who's been together for 60 years. Apparently they hadn't encountered Goldstein;
the coolest part was when they sang "Amazing Grace" to the tune of "House of the
Rising Sun". Or maybe that just illustrates his point, since the new tune is still
a recorded an well-known one.

Currently, there is a lot of local
controversy over the building of a new stadium for the Arizona Cardinals. They
currently play at ASU's stadium, which is small and uncomfortable. However, the
proposed site is very close to the airport, and the FAA has said it would be
unsafe. Everyone assumes they mean an airplane could crash into the stadium, but I
don't even think that's the biggest problem. None of the news goes into details,
other than to say that it would interfere with some instrument flying systems.

I think what they mean is that it could block the VOR. That stands
for VHF Omnidirectional Range beacon -- it puts a radio signal out in all
directions, and you can tell from it what direction you are from the beacon. You
can triangulate on two to find your own position, too. If you're anywhere near Sky
Harbor in good weather, you can see where you're going anyway and it's not
necessary, but in bad weather or from farther out (and they reach tens of miles)
you might not be too happy if that signal is blocked.

Some of the
people involved in the stadium are being assholes about it too, saying that the
FAA has the onus to keep the airport safe but that its jurisdiction should stop at
the airport fence "and we have total confidence that they will do whatever is
necessary to ensure safety for Sky Harbor". Idiots. Ignorant, arrogant idiots. I
suppose it would be too much for them to ask how the system works before they
start interfering with it. I suspect these are the people who complain their kids
are too wild at home because their teachers aren't teaching them good manners. Or
the ones who think it's okay for them to drive and talk on cell phones because
everyone else will get out of the way.

Another suggestion was to
only use the runway in line with the stadium on non-game days. First, of course
that doesn't address the VOR problem at all, which affects anyone flying on
instruments, not just at that runway or even that airport, but anywhere in the
vicinity. Second, why should travelers be inconvenienced by some football game?
And finally, if an airplane should crash into the stadium, instead of making a
rough but safe emergency landing on the dry riverbed that's there now, I'm sure
that its 200+ passengers would be consoled, as they crisped in the ensuing
fireball, to know there was no one in the stadium to be hurt.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2001

Books

First, here's the picture I promised. If you know me, you'll know it's appropriate
to put it on my books page. You can't see the new haircut too clearly in this, but
at least you can get the gist:


Someone over on href="http://www.thenetstar.org/librisEXmachina/index.php3">Libris Ex Machina
says everyone should have a books page. On reflection, I decided she's right. And
after all, as Phelps used to say, this site is about "rowing, books, rowing,
books...." and I already have a rowing page. So here is a list comprising The Best
Books I Know Of. Some of these have changed my life; some are just the ones I keep
going back to. If you love the same books, you'll already know why they're The
Best; if you don't like them, our tastes are probably too different for me to
explain to you. If you like some of them, try the rest.

size="+1">Books some Foolish Marketer Thought Were for Children

I
find the idea that I should have stopped reading these when I grew up just plain
silly; after all, people were still writing them. And there are also all the ones
I hadn't found yet -- should I be deprived of those by my age? No, I say, a
thousand times no.

  • The Dark is Rising series, by Susan
    Cooper: There just isn't anything out there better than these, especially books 2,
    4, and 5.
  • the Harry Potter books, by J.K. Rowling: Amazingly
    enough, for once millions of people are right. Still getting better,
    too.
  • the Narnia books, by C.S. Lewis: I like The Lion,
    the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    and The Last Battle best, but they're all
    good.
  • The House of Arden and Harding's Luck and the
    Bastables books (The Treasure-Seekers, The Wouldbegoods and The
    New Treasure-Seekers
    ) by E. Nesbit: these are my favorites, but I like all of
    her magic books, as well as The Railway Children
  • Rilla of
    Ingleside
    , The Blue Castle and Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M.
    Montgomery: Though again, I like most of her books.
  • Little
    Women
    and An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott: I rarely read
    these or her others anymore, because they're printed on my brain.
  • Madeleine L'Engle: A Wrinkle in Time and its successors, the Austin books, the
    Poly O'Keefe books. Actually, I like everything she's written (except her poetry)
    and love a lot of it. Though her belief systems is different than mine, I still
    learn from her every time I reread her.
  • All the Pooh books,
    including the poetry ones, by A.A. Milne: A Writer of Very Great Brain. Only the
    real Milne books, though: not the Disney versions, not all the new stupid ones
    people keep putting out for kids (I keep waiting for Winnie the Pooh Says No to
    Drugs), not the Tao of Pooh, not Piglet Becomes a Corporate Raider or whatever the
    latest attempt to capitalize on the franchise is.
  • I also still reread Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family books, some of
    Gene Stratton Porter, John Bellairs, Kipling (Stalky and the two Puck
    books) and Frances Hodgeson Burnett. And though I don't reread them any more, I
    should credit Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry, Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang (the
    kiddie Disney version) and The Poky Little Puppy for getting me started on
    a reading binge that shows no sign of
    abating.



General
Fiction

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: to my
    mind, the best of hers, though I like Persuasion and others a lot
    too.
  • Freedom and Necessity by Emma Bull and Steven Brust:
    Often shelved with the SF, but shouldn't be, though it may possibly be a slightly
    alternate reality. The best description of a couple I'd want to be half of since
    Dorothy Sayers.
  • Miss Read's Thrush Green and Fairacre books. Often compared with
    the Mitford books, but shouldn't be. Miss Read's stories may be cozy, but they're
    closer to literature than treacle.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

  • Number of the
    Beast
    , Starship Trooper, Time Enough for Love, and Friday
    by Robert A. Heinlein: RAH shaped quite a lot of my worldview. (Louisa May Alcott
    probably did the rest.)
  • War for the Oaks, by Emma Bull:
    Stylish and folkloric both. I also like Orient and her and Will
    Shetterley's books set in the Borderlands
  • Moonheart and
    Yarrow, by Charles de Lint: I love the way he mixes mythologies. I like
    most of the rest of his, also, the latest ones are a little
    repetitive.
  • Silverlock, by John Myers Myers. It's probably enough to say that three
    major authors more of less forced their publisher to bring this back in print.
    Wait, no it's not: I should also mention that spotting all the references in here
    is about the most fun a bibliophile can have.
  • All of Manly Wade Wellman's John the Balladeer stories and novels. I
    also like John Thunstone and Judge Keith Pursuivant. Currently, his stories from
    Weird Tales and other pulps are being reissued in a nice hardback
    series.
  • I also like Terri Windling, Patricia Wrede, Lois McMaster Bujold, Gael
    Baudino, some of Mercedes Lackey, some of Anne McCaffrey. I wish the first two of
    these would write a bit more -- and the last two would write a bit
    less.

Mystery

  • Gaudy Night and Busman's
    Honeymoon
  • by Dorothy L. Sayers. For the exquisitely built, delicately
    balanced marriage Harriet and Peter build together.

  • Aunt
    Dimity's Death
    , and its successors by Nancy Atherton: Not great literature or
    great mysteries, but a comforting fairy tale.
  • A Free Man of
    Color
    and its sequels, by Barbara Hambly. I like these even better than her
    SF. The characters and the setting in New Orleans, circa the 1820s when it was
    changing rapidly, are incredible.
  • Dame Agatha Christie. I grew up on Poirot, but these days I prefer Marple, and
    I wish she'd written more Tommy and Tuppence.
  • Lately I've been working my way through Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who
    stories. Again, not great lit, but amusing, and they're reasonably well written.
    Too many bestselling mystery series are so badly done in one way or another that
    if I gave in to my baser impulses my walls would look like Swiss cheese, with
    mystery-book-sized holes.

Nonfiction

  • Le Ton Beau de Marot by
    Douglas Hofstadter: One of these days I'll go back for a degree in Cognitive
    Science or Linguistics because of this book.
  • A New Lifetime
    Reading Plan
    by Clifton Fadiman and John S. Majors: incredibly erudite but
    opinionated enough to be interesting.
  • Ex Libris: Confessions of
    a Common Reader
    , by Anne Fadiman: I loved these when they were columns in
    Civilization, and I love them now when they're collected into a
    book.

I'll add more to this list as I develop more
favorites.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

small rowers and short hair

Practice this morning was a blast -- we took out a lightweight women's quad. I
loverowing with people who are my size! It was me, Egret, Hardcore, and a
relatively new rower...um...Pigtails. I'd love to do this as a regular thing, but
Hardcore is trying out for the four that will be racing at the Head of the Charles
in October, so she'll need to concentrate on that until she finds out if she's in
the boat. No reason she shouldn't be -- she's smaller than most of the people
trying out, but very strong, and has done more erging than a lot of
them.

My hair is now an inch or less long all over my head, and sort
of a very dark plummy color. I had Rudder take a Polaroid last night, and I'll see
if I can get someone at work to scan it in, so I can post it here. Or I may break
down and buy a digital camera at lunch, since I've been wanting one anyway. I sort
of have one, that attaches to my old Palm Pilot, but I can't find the old Pilot
and it's not very hi-res anyway. (Old geek joke: What's a programmer's favorite
drink? Hi-res root beer!)

I think the hair looks pretty good, and it
certainly saves me time in the morning. Not that I ever did more than comb tangles
out of my hair, slick some pomade through, and leave the house with it wet, but
shoulder-length or longer hair takes much longer to wash, rinse, and dry. All of
the comments so far have been positive -- that is, there were none of the "Oh, you
got your hair cut (silence) (pause for thought)...Wow, it really looks different"
type. And only one or two used the words "cute" or "adorable", a perennial bugbear
to those of us who are very small. On the other hand, no one came out and said,
"Wow, Dichroic, you look HOT!" either (well, except Rudder). But I'll take what I
can get.

I have a status meeting shortly with my boss, who hasn't
seen me yet. Should be fun.

Posted by dichroic at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2001

a gym rat squeaks

I would just like to say that in the gym this morning, I lifted more than my own
weight on two separate machines (calf raises and seated leg press). Technically
three, in fact, but the third was a squat machine I hadn't used before, and when I
needed to set the weights to 30 pounds more than I use on a plain bar, I concluded
that the machine, not me, got the credit for that one. What a silly design. Unless
they do it that way on purpose, to make people happier with their accomplishments?
Still silly -- I'd rather that designers of weight machines tried to keep the
effort required to lift a given weight in line with that of free weights. Besides,
it reminds me of the change in women’s clothing sizes over the last fifty years,
so that a size 4 now fits someone who would have worn an 8 in 1955. Pure catering
to vanity.

Of course, even with free weights, the effort varies
depending on, say, the angle at which a leg sled is set. Anyway, I like free
weights, but don't use them exclusively because it takes so much longer to load
all the weights on than to move a little pin in a weight stack. Also, I'm so small
(I say "small" so I don't have to say "weak") that moving a large weight is a
major effort for me. For example, I can squat 90 lbs, but I use a 20, 10, and 5 lb
weight on each side, instead of 35 lb weights (the bar itself only weighs 20 lbs
because it moves on tracks and has this damping system to slow it down).

It is gratifying to see my weights increasing -- for example, on
regular squats, I started out doing 12, 10, and 8 reps with 40, 50, and 50 lbs,
respectively -- now I do 70, 80, and 90. Rudder does at least double my weights on
everything, plus an extra erg piece after lifting, though, so I can't brag too
much. I can't even claim he weighs twice what I do -- I'm heavy for my height
(how's that for euphemism? but really, most of it is muscle, I swear), and despite
the very nice (mmm....very nice) definition he's gaining, he's ridiculously light
for his (about 165 at 6'). Lucky for him, he's got good shoulders and a nice ass,
so all his clothes hang well, and he never looks scrawny. Not that I'm based or
anything.

I think I may go on "strike" as list moderator for a week
or so, though I'm not certain I'll announce it, other than to those who read this
(all the important people, that is) and my co-mod. Lately, we've been having to
step in more and more, and list behavior has just gone downhill. Perhaps non-
interference will either force people to police themselves or to appreciate what
we're trying to do more. (Since the same people who are complaining at yesterday's
interference were actively asking us to step in a few days ago, this is by no
means certain.) But we'll see.

Today, I will go get my hair cropped,
and possibly even colored. If it turns out well, I might post a photo, but my only
digital camera is a PalmPilot attachment, so don't expect much.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2001

not much sweetness and light

Big argument with Rudder last night, yelling, tears, the whole bit. No real
disagreements, just misunderstandings on both sides and maybe some lingering
resentments that mostly seem to stem from the fact the I'm very verbal and he's
very not. That means that what he needs to feel appreciated and what I do
are very different, and it ticks me off that he just does things for me that he
would like, rather than things he thinks I would like. I mean, what's the point,
otherwise? you're not going to make the other person happy so why even make an
extra effort. It annoys me most because we've had this discussion before so many
times over the last decade. Sometimes it seems he just wants me to turn into a
little him, which I have absolutely no interest in doing.

Of course,
I'm at fault also, for misunderstanding some of what he says, and the occasional
whining, and this and that and the other thing. His complaints aren't nearly as
valid as mine of course. Not that I'm biased or anything. Of course.

The odd thing was that my major reaction last night was to want to go write all of
this up -- I kept finding myself turning phrases in my head. But I didn't want to
write it here, because people I know read this and I don't want to give anyone the
wrong impression. Said wrong impression being that Rudder and our relationship
aren't extraordinarily good, in general, because they are. Or are they? Sometimes
I wonder how much of this is in my head, whether I'm giving him credit for
understanding and qualities I only imagine. On the other hand, since perception of
a relationship is entirely subjective, I'd prefer to keep my illusions
intact.

I did think it was odd to find myself so strongly wanting to
write it all out. (I didn't, because it was after the time I should have been
asleep, as our fights always seem to be.) That must all be due to the daily
exercise of writing in here, because it hasn't always been my first
reaction.

Anyway, looking at the above it's apparent I'm still not
quite over last night, even though we made up before we went to sleep, so please
take the first three paragraphs of this entry with a large grain of salt. Maybe
I'm hormonal or something.

In the rowing news, today's practice was
long pieces, 2x30 minutes at half pressure. Oddly, YSam had T2 and Rudder doing a
completely different workout, even though Monday's supposed to be distance day for
them as well. I'm thinking of dropping out for a month or so and just showing up
at the same time to row my single. I'm not convinced the rowing program is really
doing what I want; I don't respond well to autocracy and I'm not sure if I want to
train as hard as we have been, unless I have a particular race to train
for.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2001

Up in the pines

Ahhh....camping.

We drove up to the property on the Mogollon Rim
Friday night, after work. I did all the packing, because Rudder couldn't get out
of work early, and I could. Packing up the truck for camping in 100+ degrees
weather was such sweaty hard work I had to shower afterwards -- I didn't want to
*start* my weekend all sticky and smelly, even though I knew I'd probably end up
that way. (After a mere two days. Yes, Americans in 2001 are a finicky
bunch.)

The second half of the drive up is on a two-lane road, and
there was lots of traffic this weekend. That meant, of course, that that part of
the drive was an exercise in patience while stuck behind a camper going under the
speed limit. Fortunately, the earlier, more mountainous part of the drive is all
four-lane road now, so it's not nearly as frustrating as it was a few years
ago.

Our acre lot is bounded by a large house on the north side, a
hangar on the south, airplane tiedowns and a runway on the east, and a road on the
west. Fortunately, none of these has much traffic (the owner of the house doesn't
live there). We have lots of pine and juniper, but have cleared the underbrush,
deadwood, and low branches out (required by the CC&Rs, because of fire danger). We
have no permanent structures except for a picnic table chained to a cement
footing. All of this means there is much less privacy than I would prefer for
camping. There's a lodge with bathrooms, a kitchen, showers, pool table, TV, and
so on, but it's about a 10 minutes walk away. All of this adds up to an
experience that brings me renewed appreciation for my little href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/freshette.html">female-to-male
adaptor
.

We must both have been exhausted before this trip; we
barely woke for thunderstorms outside the tent or any of the usual discomforts of
sleeping on the ground (we use Therma-Rests on top of thin foam pads under the
sleeping bags). Of course, the fact that the temperatures were perfect for
sleeping and we have soft pine needles and duff under the tent helped, also. But
we slept until 7 this morning, unheard of on a camping trip.

After
clearing off some of the dead branches and manicuring a few junipers to keep them
from strangling young pines growing up within their branches, we drove up a bit
North to check out Jack's Canyon, a climbing area we'd heard a lot about. Jack's
looked like a great place to climb, with good rocks and plenty of shade. It's
mostly sport climbing (that is, there are bolts already placed to clip on to), and
according to the guidebook, most of the routes are very well-placed, by climbers
who knew what they were doing. Just about all of it is lead climbing (no way to
hike around and set up a top rope first). We've mostly top-roped so far; one of
these days we'll have to break down and really start leading, which is much
scarier, because you can fall a lot farther.

We're back now, rested,
and ready to finish out a peaceful weekend doing the laundry and shopping sort of
things we don't have much time for during the week.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2001

How to ruin a meeting

This morning, I have a meeting to present (and get people to use the process I and
others have been working on for about the last two months. So this is a Big
Deal.

I knew in advance this would be another killer rowing practice,
and I was thinking that it might be more professional if I could walk vertically
into my meeting, not be shaking, and could stand up and talk if I have to (someone
else is doing the brunt of the talking, but I'll be joining in on a lot of
it).

Also, I've really been wanting to ride the coaches' launch and
take photos, while we still have lots of daylight. I don't have many good rowing
shots from here, and I want some for a project I'm starting. So I took the camera
along, and asked YSam if that would be ok for today. He said yes, but later
changed his mind and said he needed me to cox. Fair enough; he has to put practice
ahead of my photography, and coxing would still leave me fairly alive for my
meeting.

Except that what I didn't know was that this practice,
consisting of decreasing distance full-pressure pieces (2000m, 1500m, 1000m, 500m,
250m, 100m), would be done as a series of races. There were 5 boats participating:
my heavyweight mixed eight, a lightweight Masters' mixed eight, the Junior womens'
eight that's training for Nationals, the Junior mens' four ditto, and Rudder and
T2's double, now starting their training for the Charles. The double kicked ass;
they were ahead in every race. The four beat us in the longer piece, then we beat
in the shorter ones (those high school kids don't wear out as fast as us geezers).
The other two eights were way behind. (All other things being equal, an eight
should beat a four, and possibly a double; a good double might beat a four.
Clearly, all other things weren't equal.)

Racing other boats involves
a lot more screaming for the coxswain than a regular rowing practice would. So now
I can stride firmly into my meeting, move with decision, and appear bright-eyed
and alert. I just can't talk. Oops.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2001

training and camping

I was so annoyed by what I heard href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/maramend.html">on the radio this morning
that I didn't even mention my workout this morning -- since I generally do that
every day, this journal is something f a workout log for me. A good thing, too, as
I forget to log my distance on the erg morning after morning. Anyway, today I
lifted weights, all arm stuff. I'm very sore from yesterday's rowing workout, so I
only did 500m on the erg as warm-up. I felt guilty, though, so went back and did
another 500 after lifting.

That was an odd feeling: after doing my
full cycle with the heaviest weights I can manage (varying, but anywhere up to 90
lbs on the pulling exercises: Lat pulldowns, high row, bench pull, low row,
upright row, plus a couple other things) pulling on the erg felt oddly easy, and I
had a much lower split time for what felt like the same
effort.

Tomorrow's rowing practice will probably be worse, if
Yosemite Sam sticks to the schedule Coach DI posted. Ugh!

The
worrying thing about that is that we plan to go camping this weekend, out on our
property on the Rim. As Rudder pointed out, that could make sleeping on the ground
fairly unpleasant. This won't really be wilderness, though; if it rains too hard
to do anything, we can go sit in the clubhouse instead of in a tent, and if
sleeping on the ground is too rough on our (rapidly aging) old bones, there are
hotels nearby.

Rudder plans to go to dinner tonight with T2 and
Yosemite Sam, to discuss training for their fall head races, but I think I will
skip that to go shopping for the camping food, since otherwise I'll have no time
to do that or to pack. We usually keep some nonperishables in with the camping
gear, but since we haven't gone for quite a while, I don't want to rely on
those.

Posted by dichroic at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)

another rant, this time on the possible marriage amendment

If you're a U.S. citizen, it's time to contact your
Congresscritter.

Apparently, according to National Public Radio,
there are plans afoot by a coalition of religious and political conservatives to
push a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one
women. Further, the Amendment's text says that neither this constitution nor any
state constitution may contain special protections for unions of two or more
people not meeting this description." (quoted from memory)

Why, you
ask, should I, a happily married heterosexual, care? Well, there's my basic sense
of fairness, coupled with my basic sense of this is none of the government's
fucking business!

You, over there with the I (heart) Reagan T-
Shirt, speak up! "Won't that contribute to the degradation of society?" Well, how?
If we take a step to make it easier for gay couples to live in stable unions,
wouldn't that contribute to the fabric of society? I thought you were the one who
kept saying gay men were all promiscuous pedophiles who would rot in hell. (I
never did figure out why some people seem to think all gay men are pederasts,
anyway. Where's the logic in that?)

Yes, Congressman? What did you
say? "This will change all marriages! Oh, yeah? If I had a sister who married a
woman tomorrow, I can't imagine that would change my life a bit -- except that I
might be very happy that my sister had found someone to love her. Ask your Vice
President how he'd feel if he knew his daughter had someone to take care of her
when she was sick or old or tired (actually, I think she does). Congressman, if I
don't let interfering old fossils like you dictate how my marriage (*my* marriage,
mine and Rudder's) should function, then no one else's example will affect it
either. Many unhappy marriages are alike, but each happy family is happy in its
own way.

And in the corner, the economic conservative speaks up. Yes,
Ma'am? You approve of gay unions but you're afraid an actual marriage would send
up the cost of your health insurance? Because those people have AIDS and stuff?
Well, you're probably right. Some gay people do have AIDS, as do many others. (In
fact, I think the incidence of AIDS among lesbian women is very low). And
providing spousal benefits for those with AIDS would likely send up premiums.
However, a lot of that will be the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies,
who make huge profits way out of line with other industries, raising fees because
they can, whether or not their costs justify it. Maybe they're the root cause of
that problem, not couples who just want a few basic rights.

And
finally, you, the liberal, you say you don't know any gay people but you can't see
why they'd want to get married, and enter an institution with so many connotations
of property and imbalance of power? Well, first of all, you probably do know some
gay men or lesbians. Many just don't talk about their private lives much, because
they want to live their lives, not waste them arguing with the sort of
pusillanimous peabrains who are pushing this amendment. Second? Well, imagine not
being able to visit the love of your life, whom you've lived with for thirty
years, when he's in the hospital for major surgery, because his sister disapproves
of you. Imagine breaking up after more than a decade together, like Melissa
Etheridge and Julie Cypher, and having a huge mess disentangling for finances,
instead of the simple untaxed split amicably divorcing couples get. Imagine huge
arguments every time you tried to get a family discount at a Costco, or with AAA,
or at an amusement park, for you, your partner and your children. Yes, unmarried
hetero couples sometimes have those problems too, but at least they can choose
whether enter a marriage, balancing among its benefits and burdens.

I
will never understand why some conservatives (and it's only some) decry liberal
governments' reaching into their citizen's wallets....and then turn around and try
to reach into their bedrooms. Why is privacy such a difficult concept? And
why should I feel my values are compromised just because someone else's might be
different?

Posted by dichroic at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2001

job woes of various sorts

I suppose the day has improved slightly. SO far, there have been no complaints
back from my email list on my severe posting this morning. I must confess I ran it
by the other moderators first only partly to get opinions as to whether it was too
sever; the other motivation was making sure we had a united front, in case anybody
started complaining to them about me.

On a more depressing note, I
heard of two more people leaving my company today -- one voluntarily, one not. The
one "not" is a friend of mine. I just don't really know what to do. I got a call
from a recruiter yesterday, about what is essentially my last job -- scads of
money, possibly no overtime, and dead boring. I like it here better, except for
the ever-present fear of layoff. I've chosen my current job over one offering less
interest and more money twice now: once when I took it and once after getting
another offer. So I suppose my values are clear....but the money is still
tempting. Rudder, of course, keeps telling me if I take it I should buy him a
plane. At least he's not pressuring me to take it for that reason. If I did, I
could afford one, even though I'm not nearly as good with money as he is. But it
would still be MY airplane.

Which reminds me, one of these
days I really need to go flying again. I'm extremely rusty. One of these days, I
also need to write about flying here.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

Not a good day, particularly

Grrr. Not having a good day so far. Practice was a bitch this morning -- well,
really, it was just hard, not bad. I didn't end the practice pissed off at
everyone in the boat with me, which is a good sign. But the workout they had us do
was brutal: 8 4-minute pieces at full pressure, increasing rate every 30
seconds.

So now I'm walking like my grandmother. Okay, I'm
exaggerating. More accurately, I'm walking like my grandmother before she
died.

Took my shower in our other building, hobbled back out to the
truck to switch my gym bag for a briefcase, and then creaked upstairs for my usual
every-other-Wednesday meeting. By the time I get there after practice and
showering, it's way too early for the meeting, but too late to justify driving to
my building, so I usually check my email and bring something to read. So, after
painfully hauling my very sore butt up those stairs, I checked my email. Only to
find the meeting has been changed to a monthly one, on the last Wednesday of every
month. Shit. Back down the stairs, creak, creak, creak, ouch, ouch, ouch, over to
my building.

Next, I checked the Yahoo mail I'm not supposed to
check at work. (Hey, I need something not too challenging to start off the day.)
There's a message there from someone at the list I moderate, saying, "Maybe I'm
being too sensitive, but I found this offensive and hurtful." Well, there
certainly are people there who are easily offended, but this woman isn't one of
them, and when I read the attached message, I found it pretty obnoxious also. It's
just an extreme example of a certain cliquish us against them thing I've been
seeing, that's been accompanied by a lot of picking on one tactless but well-
meaning frequent poster, and I'm sick of it.

I wrote a reply to the
list, condemning all of this rudeness, with the first sentence of that recent
example as a springboard. I sent it to my co-moderator and the mod of our parent
list for comment because it is so strongly worded, but if I don't hear back from
them fairly soon, I'll post it anyway.

Next issue: Will I be stood up
again for my 10:00 meeting?

Posted by dichroic at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2001

henna concerns

So. I got a henna tattoo Sunday, as I think I mentioned earlier. (It's not really
a tattoo, of course, but I don't know what else to call it -- bodyart? Anyway.)
It's a band around my left upper arm made of small swirls. I was going for a
vaguely Celtic effect, but it came out looking, from a distance, a little like
barbed wire (bobwar, for any Texans reading this). Oh, well. Not exactly the
effect I intended. ("I want to look like a bad-ass, but I was too big a weenie to
get a real tattoo.") I'll just have to hope people look close enough to see the
little swirls. Unlike a tattoo, it doesn't go all the way around my arm. For some
odd reason, the front innermost swirl is lighter than the rest Ė- maybe it got
less henna, or I missed it with the lemon juice I put on, or the skin's just
thinner there.

I was told to keep it oiled constantly for the first two days, to help it get darker, and "for maintenance" after that. (This is one reason it doesn't go all the way around my arm Ė so I don't get oil on my
clothes.) I was supposed to use olive oil, because it's "thicker", for the first
day, then any oil after that. So being the conscientious henna-wearer I am, I
brought a small bottle of massage oil into work. If they ever give us our own
masseurs in the office, I'm prepared. This one is supposed to smell like wild
chamomile, which I can't vouch for, but it does smell better than olive oil.

Now, here's the odd part: the oil is in a little bottle with a
spout that seals, like a shampoo bottle. I put the bottle in a baggie, for extra
protection (for all my other stuff). Every time I use it, I wipe down the bottle.
So why, even when it's just sitting on my desk, is the bottle all oily whenever I
take it out? I've even wiped down the inside of the baggie, but it doesn't seem to help. It's as it the oil just burbles up and seeps through the seal when I'm not
watching.

Rudder's comment last night was that the henna isn't as colorful and detailed as a real tattoo. I explained that henna designs aren't trying to be real tattoos, that they come from a long history of body decoration. He didn't buy it: "I think I like real tattoos better". I'm not quite sure what to make of that, considering that he's never quite understood why anyone would want to decorate their body permanently, with tattoos or piercings.

He has odd tastes anyway, though. This is, after all, the guy that was positively drooling over the Mega Mover last Sunday, when we went to look at RVs:

The deal was, if he waited while I got the henna-ing done, I'd listen to him talk about the Mega Mover as much as he liked. I still think a normal fifth-wheeler toyhauler would make more sense for what we want, though.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

"Grrr" said Dichroic

I HATE when my entry gets erased and I have to start over.

The gist
was: henna tattoo, the oil for it gets messy, Rudder is strange and likes really
big toys. I'll write it up over the course of the day and post later.

Posted by dichroic at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

"Grrr" said Dichroic


I HATE when my entry gets erased and I have to start over.

The gist was: henna tattoo, the oil for it gets messy, Rudder is strange and likes really big toys. Iíll write it up over the course of the day and post later.

Posted by dichroic at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2001

another bra rant


I coxed again today for 2/3 of the practice, but it was more or less my fault for being in the bathroom when Yosemite Sam picked the boat. Canít complain there. He gave me quite a lot of shit for the henna-tattooed armband I got in the mall yesterday. I found that extremely amusing, since the majority of women rowers here have real tattoos. Most of them (except Hardcore) just have them in less conspicuous areas. There are also at least three, probably more, who have pierced navels (and of course, thereís also Hardcoreís nose piercing). Apparently YSam doesnít realize it, but Iím on the conservative side here.

At that stop at the mall, I got the henna tattoo but completely failed in my attempt to buy a bra, because theyíre mostly all too big and the few that arenít are too decorated -- I just want one not to show clothing. And I want it to make me not show through clothing -- thatís the only reason I wear one at all. Otherwise I get either two dark spots under a light shirt or unmistakably bra-less outlines under a tight one. I donít sag. I donít need support, unless Iíd doing something like riding a mountain bike over a washboard trail, and for that I have sports bras. All I want is one that will fit and wonít show. Is that too much to ask? Victoriaís Secret thinks so.

And what is the point of the otherwise nearly perfect little triangle cotton bras that have rhinestone designs in them? Are you supposed to wear them alone or over clothing? If not, why bother? I donít mind things made to look good in the boudoir (as Victoria would no doubt say) but not at the expense of showing little rhinestone bumps through a T-shirt!

I did have a whole topic I was going to address, but I think Iíll just save it until later. Tip to readers: if youíre not interested in the rowing stuff, try reading this journal only in the afternoons. I seem to need to get the rowing and daily activity report out of the way first. The sad thing is, I suspect the rant above may be a repeat.

Posted by dichroic at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

Up and down and still somehow....


Ampersand Topic: going up/going down (This can be interpreted any way you like.)

I was going to write about my love of gravity-based sports, but as I planned an entry on the odd view I get of other peopleís relationships from reading their journals, I realized how well that ties into this topic.

For a long time, my theory has been that relationships are sine waves:

The horizontal axis is time, and the vertical axis represents how good or bad the relationship is at any moment. Basically, the idea is that all relationships, especially romantic ones, have cyclical ups and downs (profound, I know). Good ones are shifted upward on the vertical axis, so they have less time when things are really bad; bad ones are shifted down. Abusive ones have lots of drastic ups and downs, but gradually the downs get much bigger than the ups. (Iíd illustrate all of these, but my .gif files are misbehaving.)

The odd thing about eavsdropping on someone elseís life is that you never know where someone is on their sine wave, at least not until youíve gotten to know them for a while. When Natalie grumbles about an argument with Prufrock, or Badsnake is in a down period when she feels like her family is paying her less attention, or Baggage has been squabbling with his Girl-Unit, it can look like an impending break-up .... until you read on to see the love in a later entry. (One of Badsnakeís, from a while back, is sweet and memorable: "They love me. They really love me.")

I get two lessons from this: first, I tend to read the same diaries every day. Absurd as it sounds, I get to worrying about all of these people. I think I tend to read mostly people who are basically happy, so I donít have to worry much.

Second, Iíve learned, over the years and largely from the college relationship where I learned so much else, that sometimes, when things are going badly, but youíre sure of the basic bones of the relationship, that the best thing to do is hunker down and just wait it out.

Which is not to say things with Rudder are going badly at the moment, at all, at all.

Posted by dichroic at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2001

lazy Sunday, yet again


We have now officially recuperated from the stress of coaching rowing. I can tell because I have finally passed from "Ah, a weekend where we donít have to do anything," to "What am I going to do today?"

Yesterday I updated my resume on several job sites, and did some library research Iíd been meaning to get around to. We also celebrated our 8th anniversary a few days late by having dinner at a cool seafood place Rudder had heard about. The restaurant is entirely underground, which makes a hell of a lot of sense out here. Even though I had promised myself I wouldnít do it any more, I ordered lobster, out of a feeling of obligation to order something special for a special occasion. The problem was that the lobster was a bit dry, and very stringy, and I probably would have enjoyed the shrimp a lot more. But I order shrimp all the time so it doesnít seem like a special occasion food. Obviously, I order it so much because I like it that much, so it would make a lot more sense just to get what I like no matter what the occasion. Iím stupid that way.

Afterward we had champagne at home. We taped a Discovery Channel special on fireworks, so we even had some of those to accompany the champagne. After all, our actual anniversary is on July 4!

This morning, Rudder met T2 to do some more rigging on their boat. I went along and had a nice, easy, peaceful row in the single, to make up for not rowing on Friday. After that we went out to breakfast, so now I just need to figure out what to do for the rest of the day. Iím thinking a mall visit.

Posted by dichroic at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)

July 07, 2001

arena football verdict: not impressed


Well. Last nightís arena football game (Arizona Rattlers vs. San Jose) made me glad I wasnít paying to attend it. (Weíd gotten tickets for my companyís box.) Sitting in the private box with free beer was nice, but I actually enjoyed the background music more than the game itself. Iíd buy a CD of it if they sold one -- all 70s and 80s anthems -- perfect for the last bit of long drives, when youíre struggling to stay awake. Everything from Love Stinks to What I Like About You to Paradise by the Dashboard Light.

The game itself is played by 8-man teams on a 50-yard field that looks oddly shrunken to eyes used to normal (American) football. Scoring is similar; extra points have to be kicked into a very narrow goal area between two tightly stretched nets set up to protect spectators. (Thereís a looser net behid the goal area.) No doubt there were strategy and technical points I was totally missing, but still, Iíd have to say it wasnít one of the more exciting sports Iíd seen. Also, it shared regular footballís most annoying characteristic: one minute on the clock could stretch over about 15, real time.

And then there were the cheerleaders! They were wearing tight tops and long black stretch pants. They changed tops for each quarter of the game, but that wasnít enough to camouflage the fact that these were obviously the ones whoíd gotten turned down by the Suns, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, and Mercury cheerleaders. Ditto for their choreographer. They did dance routines after every quarter and during a TV time out that were both intrinsically lame and badly executed. The routines werenít all that hard, and the dancers werenít together at all (when they were obviously supposed to be). And at one point they all did cartwheels somewhat worse than the ones I could do by age 6. (And still can, thankyouverymuch.) I hope they all have day jobs. I would suggest modeling for Clairol, as they ably demonstrated every available shade of blond hair. ("Meow!" says your brunette reporter here.)

Interestingly, as Rudder pointed out, the audience (a much less densely packed one than the same venue would have or a hockey game) was almost entirely white, not the case for most other sports here. Not sure what that proves, if anything.

On the agenda for tonight: a fancy dinner and champagne, to celebrate our 8th anniversary a few days late. Please, spare me the July 4 wedding jokes....I think Iíve heard them all.

And someone please tell La Phelps I can (rarely) put together two entries in a row that arenít on either rowing or books!

Posted by dichroic at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2001

the last refuge of a scoundrel


Iíve seen several journals on the subject of July 4th that Iíve found very disturbing. They all said something on the order of, "Yeah, I went to watch fireworks, but I donít get the whole Independence Day patriotism thing. This country sucks. Our president is an idiot and the founding fathers basically just came in and stomped on all the people already here." Iím thinking some time in another country or some serious study of history is indicated.

Maybe this brands me as hopelessly uncynical, and doomed to never quite get it, but I love my country. Yes, I do. Let me be completely clear; I said "love", not "worship". I donít pretend the US is perfect, and some days it isnít even good. We do have blotches and scabs -- as Spider Robinson once wrote, "hell, huge running sores". Some of our laws are unfair. Some are very unfair (the ones against gay marriage spring to mind). We still have prejudice, poverty, violence and corruption in high, medium, and low places.

Nonetheless, there is a reason that people in many other countries risk their lives to get here. Just in the last few years, there have been tens of deaths among refugees taking huge risks to gain a future better than they could have hoped for back home. Few people here are starving. Most people can choose, at least to some degree, the work they do. All citizens have the right to vote. We can travel freely between states, and sometimes into new lives. And yes, I know there are problems with all these -- people with no education and skills only suitable for minimum wage jobs, people pulled over for the offense of DWB (Driving While Black), voting fraud.

But at least here we acknowledge those things are wrong. The United States was founded on an ideal, not a dynasty, by an extraordinary group of men whose private flaws (and they had many) did not prevent them from devising an imperfect system that is one of the fairest yet devised. And for all the crooked politicians there are, there are honest people who work hard, often for low pay or little attention, to move this country closer to its ideals.

There are other countries that have outdone us in one way or another (South Africa, for example, forbids discrimination on account of sexual preference in its constitution). But many of those would never have happened without the USís example. There are countries that havenít fought our more stupid wars, though many have their own stupid fights. There are other countries that would be great to live in (though I think whoever it was who spoke of moving to "Canada or Serbia" should probably reassess, or just stick to Canada). Youíll note, if you look carefully, that in most of those countries where medical care is universal, marriage laws are more reasonable, and vacations are 5 weeks per year, that taxes are 60% or more. Some (not all) of those also seem to have developed a culture in which people are even less independent and self-reliant than Americans. Iíd prefer to keep more of my money and make more of my own decisions, though I realize thatís just the American in me speaking and that othersí preferences will differ. Iíd love to live in other countries for a few years, for the experience and the chance to learn more.

So yes, we do have a long way to go, and yes, we should emulate those countries that are ahead of us in one way or another. But there is a very special idealism still here, that needs to be preserved amidst the chaos of money and clout, movies and pop music, TV and noise and materialism. The old quote isnít wrong, itís just usually quoted without its more important second half: "My country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be made right."

I canít argue the bit about our president being an idiot, though.

Posted by dichroic at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

an entry on not rowing


Something I ate last night disagreed with me (I should know better than to combine pesto tortellini with alfredo sauce before a rowing morning) so I didnít row this morning. I did go out there, though, and am very glad I did.

The women who want to row in a four in the Head of the Charles next October are supposed to do 6000m erg pieces to compete for their spots on the crew. One of them, K, had almost never been on an erg before and wasnít convinced she could do that distance. (Donít ask me how you can row for a year and only get away with only erging once; if I knew that, I would be doing it!) I knew she could do it, on the theory that if I can, any rower can. Besides, 6000m is less than half an hour and sheís used to two-hour practices on the water.

But she was nervous about it, so when I told Coach Yosemite Sam that I wasnít feeling well and would rather not row, he asked me to coach her through a practice piece. And of course, to no oneís surprise but her own, she finished all 6000 meters. She did it in 28 minutes and some, a good 2-3 minutes slower than sheíll need to qualify for a spot in the Chuck crew, but now she knows she can do it. I think my presence was a big help, too, for both encouragement and distraction -- the hardest thing on an erg is fighting the boredom.

After that I coxed a junior womenís crew in a 1000 meter scrimmage race. The masters won it, but then they had several men in the boat, including one who is so strong he far outpulls both Rudder and T2. Amusingly, Rudder and T2 in their double kicked ass -- 16 asses in fact; they beat both eights by a long margin.

And now Iíve made up for not writing as much about rowing lately -- didnít want anyone to think Iíd mellowed.

Posted by dichroic at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2001

both sides now

afternoon 2001-07-05 bothsidesn.html
both sides now

This is not an Ampersand entry. This is a thinking-about-Ampersand-entry entry. Unless I never come up with a real entry, in which case I might polish this and send it in.

This monthís topic is "going up/going down". Now why would that resonate here? Well, hereís a list of some of my hobbies:


  • hiking in the mountains

  • rock climbing

  • flying (I have my VFR pilotís rating)

  • mountain biking

  • skiing



The following are things that arenít exactly hobbies, but that Iíve done and enjoyed:
  • sky diving

  • scuba diving

  • bungie jumping

  • parasailing

  • hang gliding

  • snow boarding

  • rapelling (as part of climbing)

  • aerobatics

  • sightseeing from a helicopter



Starting to see a pattern here? This is why Iím inclined to address the topic very literally, instead of writing about the stock market going up, or ďgoing downĒ in the sense of oral intercourse. As you can see, I have a penchant for experimenting with gravity.

I just havenít figured out what to say about it, or how.

Postscript: The Site Meter says this journal had its 2000th reader sometime today. Wow. Thanks.

(Of course, that would be about 1500 visits if it didnít count me fiddling with the layout and correcting my links and spelling, but still. Wow. Thanks, nonetheless.)

Posted by dichroic at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

tempe extravaganza: the good, the bad, and the fucked-up


Well, we did go to the Tempe fireworks, and they turned out to be quite nice. (Aside from being hot enough to have sweat trickling down my back even while sitting still.) Getting in and out was slow, of course, but not nearly the nightmare Iíd been afraid it would be. The fireworks themselves can only be described as excessive -- which is no bad thing.

The show was about 40 minutes long. During the fireworks of my childhood, a grand finale was an absolute necessity because, if you didnít know one was coming, the long gaps between explosions could lead you to think the show was over any number of time. Last night, on the other hand, fireworks were launched every few seconds (the launching had to have been automated) and there were at least three points when the sparks flew so think and fast that I thought it was the grand finale. I must confess that after about 20 minutes of this, I lapsed into a pyrotechnic-induced coma and sat there with slack jaw mumbling, "Ooh. Ahh. That was a good one!" at random intervals.

Weíd about a half-mile walk from the parking lot. Not too bad in the heat, because we got there at dusk, and there was a breeze. There were people lining both sides of the river, not too unpleasantly densely, and we should have stayed there and brought a cooler. Weíd decided to check out the official ($8) fair, though, which only allowed you to bring in water. It was actually hotter once we got in the fair area, because the bridges, structures, tents, and people blocked the breezes. I was comfortable walking down, but had sweat trickling down my back once we staked out a spot and spread the blanket.

The fair wasnít particularly exciting; the rides were all for kids and the music wasnít great. The fireworks were supposed to be choreographed to "patriotic music". I must say, I didnít know that "Surfiní USA", "My Boyfriendís Back", and the Happy Days theme qualified as patriotic.

Here is the crowning outrage and the real reason that next year I will bring a cooler and watch from outside. They had the food/beer area cordoned off and were requiring adults to show ID. However, kids under 12 could go in with parent or guardian. Iím not sure why ID was required, as this was where the food tents, as well as the beer one, were located. They also gave adults a tape bracelet, to allow purchase of beer; I have a feeling that the ID was supposed to be shown to get that. I didnít know ID would be required, and hadnít wanted to carry a purse, so I didnít bring any; they were asking to see some for anyone under 35. Now, I should mention I am 34, so itís not like Iím borderline on drinking age. One guard would not let me through, not after I offered to show her my wrinkles, not after I pointed out that I was with my husband. But she let a 12-year-old through with his parents! I am not sure why a parent would outrank a spouse, as a chaperone for a drinking area. I would have been willing to just not get a bracelet and not drink, but that option wasnít offered.

We finally gave up and just went to another entrance, with a more reasonable guard, and got in with no problems. The system was clearly fucked; since it was (supposedly) only 12-and-under children who could enter with parents, Iím still not sure how teenagers were supposed to get in to get food. I have a feeling ID was supposed to be shown to get beer bracelets, not just to enter, and that the guards were confused. Small comfort.

Posted by dichroic at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2001

Fireworks gone wrong


We skipped last nightís Tempe fireworks, after finding out they were only supposed to last 15 minutes. Turned out to be just as well, since we heard someone talking about them this morning; apparently a 15-minute rainstorm hit just as they were supposed to start. Everybody waited through it, only to find out the show was canceled -- apparently theyíd forgot to cover the fireworks during the rain. Living in a desert can give you some odd blind spots.

At that, it was better than the show in Chandler a couple of years ago that had to be aborted after they managed to fire a few into the crowd by accident (I assume!) injuring a couple of people.

In case anyone from the city of Chandler is reading this, a brief fireworks primer: Up. The basic concept is to shoot in the UP direction. How hard is that?

Weíll probably go to the Tempe deal tonight, late enough to avoid the worst of the heat, early enough to check out the rides before the firework show.

So far, weíve spent of our 8th anniversary morning in just a frenzy of excitement, working on the boat and oars, going to the gym, and going out for breakfast. Next up: a nap, so we can stay out late tonight. Then, maybe some experimenting with Denzelís advice. We couldnít figure out how to combine champagne with Tempeís strict rules (theyíre selling food and drink, so you can bring in nothing but sealed manufacturerís bottles of water), so weíve decided to go out for a nice dinner Saturday, and to go camping the week after that. Though, anniversary or not, weíd planned that anyway.

Posted by dichroic at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2001

pyrotechnics made complicated


I love fireworks.

So this should be a great time of year for me, right? But no, it all has to get complicated. For example, Tempe has fireworks both tonight and tomorrow, set off over the lake we row on. We were going to go tonight on the theory that it would be less crowded. But it turns out tonightís fireworks are only a 15-minute preview of tomorrowís show, which will last an unspecified but presumably longer time. Also theyíre charging $8, becuase itís not just fireworks, but an "extravaganza", with music, a rock climbing wall, and all kinds of other crap. I canít imagine who thought this was a good idea, considering that at 5PM, when it begins, it will be approximately 109 degrees F here. (Not an exaggeration.)

Iíd go just in time for the fireworks, if the promo material told what time they start. A better idea might be just to watch from the other side of the lake, for free. Tempe discourages this, "because the bridge will be closed so you canít walk over it to the festivites". Since I have no desire to see the rest of the festivities anyway, I donít much care. However, Rudder seems to be having one of his periodic fits of bizarre obedience to rules and is worried about whether weíll be able to see the fireworks from there. I donít quite understand this, since pyrotechnics tend to be a bit hard to hide.

Also, tomorrow, July 4, will be the 8th anniversary of our marriage, so thereís some pressure there to have an especially good time. (Because thatís what one does on birthdays and anniversaries. Speaking of bizarre obedience...)

Maybe it would be easier to just go watch fireworks in Chandler.

Posted by dichroic at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

mornings are way too early


You know all those people who say that exercising in the morning makes them more energetic for the rest of the day? Theyíre full of crap.

If youíre one of them, donít tell me I need to be doing it for longer, or that I need to work out harder to see the benefits. Iím a rower, after all. I have practice 3 days a week from 5-7 AM [1]. And I go to the gym on non-rowing days at similar times, just to stay on schedule.

And I get in to work and I can barely walk or barely type, depending on the days workout, and, Iím convinced, I get stupider on this schedule. And Iíve been doing this here for the last year, and for several years when we lived in Texas, so itís not just a matter of getting used to it.

Iím convinced my circadian is meant for later hours, and I offer a more-or-less nocturnal brother up as genetic evidence.

No practice tomorrow, because theyíve got the lake closed to set up fireworks from the bridges. Yay.

[1]If youíre wondering, rowers go out so early because the water is smoother then, there are fewer idiots on powerboats and jet skis (fortunately not a factor here) and maybe also out of tradition .... but even that tradition probably started because of the previous two factors. Except 50 years ago, weíd have been dodging idiots in punts and rowboats. I refer you back to Sayersí Gaudy Night for evidence; imagine training for a race in that crowd on the river during the punt scene.

Posted by dichroic at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2001

Why read poetry?


Why read poetry?

Because here I am, stuck sitting still, indoors because I need to earn a living and because itís way too bloody hot to go outside. And I need the fire in my blood and words are the shortest way to it. I donít know about the rest of you, but I would bet my blood pressure goes up just reading Kiplingís best lines:

"Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges --
"Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!"

And if that doesnít convince you, try this:

The Archer is wake!

The Swan is flying!

Gold against blue

An Arrow is lying.

There is hunting in heaven--

Sleep safe till tomorrow.

The Bears are abroad!

The Eagle is screaming!

Gold against blue

Their eyes are gleaming!

Sleep!

Sleep safe till tomorrow.

The Sisters lie

With their arms intertwining;

Gold against blue

Their hair is shining!

The Serpent writhes!

Orion is listening!

Gold against blue

His sword is glistening!

Sleep!

There is hunting in heaven--

Sleep safe till tomorrow.


Peace on Earth
by William Carlos Williams



Have you ever read anything so exciting?

Posted by dichroic at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)

Too damned hot


Uggh. Hot, hot, hot. We are well and truly into monsoon season, which may sound laughable when I say that the humidity is currently only 26% or so. Combine that with a predicted high of 115 Fahrenheit, though, and you have something truly ugly. We have a severe heat alert today, fer chrissake. Since we rarely have a summer day with temps not in the three digits, thatís saying something. I hope we get a storm soon to cool things off (preferably, one timed so as not to ruin any of the July 4th fireworks).

The heat was especially noticeable at rowing practice today, because Monday is distance day. We did two 30-minute pieces. They were only at half pressure, but 30 minutes is a long time to go without a hydration break when itís already 90 degrees at 6AM. Also, our boat was awful today; we had a couple of new people but Iím not sure if the problem was them or the rest of us just screwing up.

Found out last week that one of the rowers (one I had coached in his Beginner days, in fact) is acting as a business consultant for my company. So hereís this guy Iíve shouted at and hung out with, whose wife and kid Iíve met, hanging out with my companyís CEO. Not that it impacts me (except as he provides good business advice), but itís still a weird feeling. Then again, itís not a huge company. I report directly to a VP whoís the CEOís wife, so itís only a slightly weird feeling, not the extreme strangeness it would be if I worked for a huge corporation.

Rudder and I found two sorts of bookshelves we liked, pretty ones at a Stone Creek or plainer, more flexible ones at Levenger. I think weíve decided to go with flexible. I like this idea, because when I want additional cases, I can buy them one at a time for about the cost of, say, two book binges at Amazon.

Posted by dichroic at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2001

Denzel says...


First things:

Whoever mentioned me as a referral for gold membership, thank you!

Next:

I have already told Rudder that Baadsnakeís new advice column, Dear Denzel is required reading. I figure you couldnít get more reliable advice than from someone who both has and uses the equipment. For similar reasons, I own a copy of an interesting small volume entitled Straight Tips for Women from a Gay Man. Funny: I had spotted it once on disply in a large bookstore. When I decided I needed a copy of my shelves, I went back and couldnít find it....but every female employee I talked to remembered the title, and eventually they found it for me.

Speaking of my shelves, yesterdayís shopping expdition was unsatisfactory. Neither of us were impressed with the quality of Classy Closets shelves when viewed up close, and we have a sneaking suspicion (two, actually, one apiece) that we wonít be impressed with the price quote theyíre sending us either. Today, weíll check out the place where we got our last shelves (we loved those but the place isnít making ones like that anymore), but I suspect weíll end up with Levengerís Bookboxes. I like their modularity.

Posted by dichroic at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)