November 30, 2001

weeping guitar

Who needs news when you can read diaries? This morning, I have broadened my
vocabulary, thanks to Genibee -- "Non
vale il pena", or "It's not worth the penis" is definitely an expression I can see
myself using, to vary my usual battle cry ("Men!").

And from D, I
learned that George Harrison has died. Though I was barely old enough to listen to
"Let It Be" on the radio when it first came out, the Beatles have been part of the
sound track of my life too. I remember first finding out about Lennon's death (I
like when they call it an "assassination", because that says so much about his
importance to so many people) when a couple of girls showed up to junior high
choir practice the next morning in black armbands. I remember singing "Help!" in
the back of the school bus on field trips. (I'm sure the teachers minded it less
than the ribald songs some of the boys used to sing, though I still remember the
lyrics to all of those, too.) I remember listening to Sergeant Pepper and the
White Album all the way through for the first time, in college, and finally
understanding what can make an album more than a random collection of songs. I
remember how impressed I was in a Drama class when my friend Kevin correctly
answered the professor's question, "Does anyone know what is the connection
between Shakespeare's King Lear and the Beatles?"[1] And I can pull any number of
CDs off my shelf that draw from their legacy, from the Bobs' a capella cover of
"Helter Skelter" to the guitar work toward the end of the Kennedys' CD "Life is
Large", that comes straight out of the Indian-inspired music George Harrison
brought to Western ears. And now two of them are dead.

Maybe I'll go
find the tablature to "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", get my guitar out of the
corner, and see if I can pick it out.

[1]Sorry, I wrote this *hours* ago and just realized I forgot to put the answer to
that one. In one of the Beatles songs ("I am the Walrus", maybe? It's been a long
time) there's an odd bit at the end where you can hear a bit of the BBC's
production of Lear.

Today I am thankful for: The Beatles body of work and continuing
musical influence.

Concept II Holiday Challenge: 130638 meters
left to go.

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

body image

Funny, I did over 8000 meters this morning and it wasn't too bad (though I'd had
to tap up my fingers, due to yesterday's blisters), but I noticed that the first
6000 were a minute and a half slower than a similar distance yesterday, even
though I was just as tired. It's always interesting to see how the body changes
from day to day; I believe in going with it, knowing that another day I will be
faster. I don't try to force it, unless for a race or other special event, where
it matters that I be fast on that given day. Probably, yesterday was faster
because I was thoroughly warmed up from rowing beforehand -- normally, when I row
first thing in the morning, I notice my split times naturally go way down after
the first two or three thousand meters. Also, the pizza and beer last night
probably didn't help -- I can tell because I'm still tasting the green peppers.

Rudder has lost some weight since upping his erg distances, not so
much for this challenge as just because he had planned to, once the race season
ended. It shows in his face, which, since he didn't have any extra weight to begin
with, is beginning to resemble a knife blade. He weighs some ridiculously low
amount now, for his height. T2 has reported weight loss also, though I suspect his
food poisoning incident may have contributed. If Rudder loses any more, I will
worry; he still has a tiny margin at the sides of his waist, so I'm not worried
yet. My face also looks a bit thinner, and I think my shoulders and forearms are
looking a little more defined, but my weight hasn't changed and I don't see much
other difference. It's possible my pot-belly which, like the poor, I have always
with me, has declined a little, but I don't want to get my hopes up until I'm

My thighs still touch when I stand up straight, but I think
that's just the way they're shaped. It's hard to tell, because I had never noticed
until a few years ago when I read an interview, with Amy Fuller (I think it was),
who was an Olympic rower and silver medalist, as well as one of the grinders on
the America3 all-female sailing crew. She was discussing the event of motherhood,
after years as a world-class athlete, and said something like, "Pregnancy was so
weird. My thighs touched when I walked for the first time since high school."
Being female, of course, I immediately stood in front of a mirror to check my own
thighs, which did, indeed, touch. Of such small things is a body image

However, I'm bowlegged. When I stand normally, my knees are a
good three inches apart. (No, I've never done much horseback riding, though I
imagine the trait would be useful there.) So, to meet at my hips, I reason, my
thighs have to slant back together. Anyway, I can look at them and see there's no
extra fat there, beyond the bit on the inner thighs no normal woman can ever
completely get rid of, so I'm not too worried about it. But this is coming from a
woman who is in fairly good shape, and who is, to boot, 34 years old, presumably
mature, and with no raving beauty or perfect figure to fear the loss of. Sheesh.
If I even find myself thinking of this crap, no wonder 17-year-olds have a rough
time in our culture.

In other news, my brother's girlfriend belongs
to a gym which does have ergs, and has offered me the use of her guest pass. So I
should be OK during my visit to Philly. I'm a little nervous about meeting her, as
I've seen too many good people take up with psychobitches (male or female) who
then proceed to ruin their lives. (Literally: one former friend is now in jail.)
But so far, I really like his girlfriend, from the phone and email contact we've
had. I think my parents drive her nuts, but they would drive me nuts too, if I
lived that close to them.

Today I am thankful that: my brother
appears to have taken up with an intelligent and cool woman who cares about him,
and who even seems to be a Good Influence.

Concept II Holiday
137713 meters left to go.

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

November 29, 2001

the opposite of a nautilus

How odd. I was just looking back at the first few entries I wrote when I began
this diary, at the beginning of March. That's only eight months ago, but it feels
like reading someone else's writing. In fact, it feels more like reading someone
else's work than does going over the things I wrote when I was about 14. That's
probably because I didn't keep any sort of regular journal then, so when I did
write something down, it was usually due to overwhelming emotions that had to be
purged by means of ink on paper. Fourteen is more than half a lifetime ago, but I
still remember those aches. They were nothing special or profound, just the usual
yearnings of an adolescent with almost no friends who really understood anything.
Or maybe they were profound because they are so commonly bound to that age. I
don't know.

The most disquieting thing about reading the things I
wrote back in March is that it's not only like reading another writer's work. It's
like reading a better writer's work. Maybe because, living in a hotel room, I had
fewer distractions, or maybe because I hadn't yet run out of things I really
wanted to say. Maybe also because my gym time was less focused and so I didn't
dwell on it the way I do now. Possibly, I just think better in colder
temperatures, in which case our current weather ought to be a stimulus. I still
have things to say sometimes, and anyway I like writing here, so I'm not going to
let a little thing like declining quality stop me. I love the idea of having a
record of my daily life, and I also love being able to write out my opinions,
sorting out in my own mind and expressing them in public, without anyone having to
be forced to hear them due to proximity or politeness. Here, you can read if you
want or go away if you want, and either way no offense can be taken.

I will be curious, though, to reread this eight months from now and
see how I feel about it. What's the opposite of a chambered nautilus?

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

November 28, 2001

masochist morning

This morning, for a change, I went rowing in a real boat, on actual water. And
then I came home and erged. I'm about two days ahead of schedule, so I could have
skipped it, but I need to build up a cushion in case I can't find an erg when I'm
in Philadelphia. I
wimped out and took it easily in the boat, but came home with three new blisters
anyway -- taped them up while Rudder was finishing his erg piece, wiped the sweat
off the grip and did my 6Km. He'd slept in a little and skipped the gym, so,
possibly out of guilt, he did a new personal best time for 10000m. Tag-team
erging, our new sport. Rah.

For no apparent reason, I woke up late
last night wanting to go make myself some popcorn. The subconscious is a strange
beast. I was going to make some for breakfast instead (I figure it's probably more
nutritious than, say, Sugar Corn Pops) until I realized that I didn't actually
want any right now. I'm sure that will change.

Now, I'm starting on
all the just-in-case gifts, the little ones I have in case someone unexpectedly
gives me something and I need a return present, and the ones for people to whom I
want to give gifts but don't want them to feel obligated to give me anything.
These will all be handmade, so the heart is in them but the dollars are not, which
seems to me to suit both cases. I'm also in the middle of another embroidery
project, a little Santa thing that's meant to hang on a hook or a doorknob. This
will probably go to someone in Rudder's family, with the exact recipient depending
on how our holidays turn out. After all, I could hardly give it to any of my
relations -- Santa just doesn't look right, hanging from the menorah.

I almost forgot to ask that I felt bad for running out on href="">Natalieee yesterday, while we were having an actual
conversation on IM, because I had to do errands. Hope I wasn't a factor in her bad
mood. And I forgot to say something else, but now I forget what it was. Senility
has hit early in the Dichroic household; lately, my memory is even worse than it
once was. Rudder's theory is that this is because I am not exercising it, by
having innumerable projects to remember in a work day.

Today I am thankful for: having discovered beading, which allows me to have
the fun of making pretty sparkly things with a relatively low investment of time
and money, and which will allow me to make a lot of my own jewelry instead of
buying it from here on out.

Concept II Holiday Challenge:
146027 meters left

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

November 27, 2001

illness and reactions

Jesus, did everyone get sick for the holidays? href="">Mechaieh and href="">Miguelito had colds, T2 had a stomach
virus, thereby missing one of the few meat meals he gets to eat (Egret is a
vegetarian, and he emphatically is not), and my sister-in-law's mother had a
stroke Thanksgiving morning. This would be the Evil SIL married to Rudder's
brother, not the sister-un-law I'll meet in two weeks who lives with my brother.

My in-laws were out there for the holiday. Now, I can't think of any
good way to react to the news that your mother, two states away, has had a stroke,
especially if you actually like your mother. And my in-laws, being kind and caring
people who worry about the happiness of their sons, try very, very hard to view
the ESIL in a positive light. Given those two factors, I have to interpret their
guarded description of events, along with the cautious use of words like "extreme
overreaction" to mean that the ESIL completely wigged out. I suppose if you are
going to lose it entirely, a major health crisis on the part of someone very dear
to you is an appropriate time, but I can't help but think it's better to control
yourself so as to be of more help to the person actually having the crisis. I keep
thinking of Mistress Sinister's
determination to be there where her mother needs her, despite her own worry and
distress, in strong contrast. I dunno, maybe I'm just not being empathetic
enough. I just hope my principles aren't tested any time soon.

I just find it easier to condole with fictional characters. I'm rooting hard for
Elizabeth Patterson to dump her awful boyfriend, in href="">For Better or For Worse, even
while I admire how Lynn Johnston has subtly built his awfulness up from little
hints to the point where even the besotted Liz can't ignore it. Her friend
Candace's advice should be a mantra for any battered or abused woman: "Then, you
have to ask yourself...'Does being in love mean I Have to put up with
@$%#@&#?' "

Today I am thankful for: the fact that
everyone I care most about seems to be in reasonably good physical and mental
health, barring a few minor illnesses and chronic, treatable

Concept II Holiday Challenge: 152096 meters left -
- nearly 1/4 done!

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

November 26, 2001

scared and spazzing cats

At some point this morning while I was on the erg, the cats decided they were
Scared, apparently, despite the fact that there was absolutely nothing unusual
going on. More precisely, one of the cats was Scared. There wasn't really enough
damage for it to be both of them. No points for figuring out which one it was,
either; one of them, the younger by about two years, is scared by almost anything
and everything, and goes around with a permanently scared-out-of-his-kitty-wits
expression. He's calmed down a little, having been with us for a decade or so now,
but he still likes me best when I'm sitting very, very still. For this reason, he
loves it when I'm on the computer and is on my lap, purring like a -- well, like a
very happy kitty -- as I'm typing this.

Anyway, I heard a crash from
downstairs, but was in the middle of my workout and couldn't stop to go look.
There wasn't much he could have knocked over that would get worse over time,
anyway. Ted came home to shower after his row, and told me the meathead cat had
knocked over a small lamp and the trashcan. When I went down to investigate, I
found that somehow, he had managed to knock over the lamp in such a way as to
break a light socket, bend a strong metal tube that held up the shade, and break a
piece from his own water dish, on the floor below the half-wall the lamp stood on.
Somehow, though, the lightbulb had managed to come out of the broken socket
unscathed. I doubt it still works, but at least there aren't shards of broken
glass in the cat food. Fortunately, I had taken out the trash last night, and
hadn't even put in a new bag, so knocking that over did no harm. Also fortunately,
the light was nice-looking, sort of deco-ish, but quite inexpensive. Actually, I
had originally gotten it at my supermarket, so later on this week, I'll see if
they have another like it.

Yes, my supermarket carries lights. In
addition to food and other usual supermarket items, it also carries housewares,
hardware, paint, flowers, small appliances, some toys and camping gear, and some
books. Also, they make keys and have a machine that will give you money for the
contents of your change jar. And there are attached video and electronics stores,
that open into the market but have their own cash registers. Yes, it's all a
little bit silly, and I rather miss having the sort of butcher and produce stores
that I think they still have out by my parents, but it is convenient. During my
three months in Massachusetts last winter, I found myself missing my own market
whenever I wanted to by anything a bit out of the usual way -- a thermometer, or a
plastic container, or some such.

Today I have several errands, if
you can refer to present-buying and library visits under that name. I plan to do
my annual sweep through REI, a basket over my arm, in search of small presents for
Rudder for Chanukah. And while I'm there, I'll probably visit the Really Big Bead
Warehouse store, as well as the other smaller bead stores I was already planning
to visit. But first, I need to pay bills, and I should go do that right now.

Forgot to add one thing: my former company has announced that they have appointed
a new executive. I use the word "executive" advisedly: if I am understanding
correctly, this new man will serve as Executive VP, CFO, corporate secretary, and
treasurer. I have never pretended to understand the workings of upper corporate
levels, but somehow this reminds me of when Calvin and Hobbes formed a club and
between the two of them, held all club offices. Hobbes even got to be First Tiger.
I wonder how long until the former company gives that title to their new

Today I am thankful for: Not having shards of
glass all over my kitchen.

Concept II Holiday Challenge:
163245 meters left to go.

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

November 25, 2001


Ten thousand meters down, and I have no idea what I'm going to do for the rest of
the day (though I do know there are a shower and a cup of tea in my immediate
future). I feel funny doing errands on weekends when Rudder is home, since I have
the rest of the week for those. I've decided to make a lariat necklace that I will
probably use as a present -- I get the best ideas for beading projects from art
museum store Christmas catalogs, who usually charge $90 for something I can
duplicate easily. It's very gratifying -- I don't believe I'll ever spend money
for beaded jewelry again, unless it's something really special and hard to

Another odd problem with my current situation is that I feel
guilty about reading any of my own books. Since I've been delving so deeply into
the library's bounty, I always have a sackful of books that will have to be
returned in a week or two, so I feel silly reading any of the ones that will still
be here. At the moment I'm defying that feeling to reread the fourth Harry Potter
book, having reread the first three not long ago. After that I really do want to
dive into a couple of Patricia Wredes sitting there in my library bag, then it may
be time to revisit what I think of as Jane Austen's lesser works -- Northanger
Abbey and Mansfield Park. I suppose one solution would be to take out fewer
library books, but how likely is that?

One way in which the library
has really helped me is with this 200000 meter erg challenge. I've been listening
to Stephen Ambrose's Undaunted Courage, about the journey of Lewis and Clark, as I
puff along on the erg. It's far more absorbing than the TV shows that are on first
thing in the morning. It's also a bit comforting to hear about people who were
working even harder than I am, while I'm working out. When I first read the book,
the distances those men walked in a day left me with glazed eyes, a dropped jaw,
and sympathy pains in my feet. Unfortunately, the audiobook is an abridged
version, and since I have read the book, I can tell the difference. I'm almost
finished this one, and getting more books to erg to should be much easier than
picking audiobooks for a car trip, where they have to please both me and Rudder.

I realized last night that I have one other major problem with this
erg challenge; I'll miss at least four days when I go to Philadelphia for my
mother's and brother's birthdays in a few weeks. More, if I don't row the days I
leave and come back. Eek. That four days translates to 24240 meters I would have
to make up. That's a lot. I did some extra today to start building up a cushion,
just in case, and I'm going to call around and see if there's a gym near them with
a rowing machine I can use. That will also give me an excuse to escape, for which
I may be extremely grateful. Half my family is mad at the other half, at the
moment. No one is mad at me, that I know of, but they all complain about each
other to me. I think the 'rents still don't understand why they weren't invited to
my brother's birthday party, and it sounds like there are some hard feelings over
who went where, when, for Thanksgiving. An excuse to run to the gym (I use the
word "run" figuratively) may be just what I need.

Today I am
thankful for:
the distance that allows me to deal sanely with my family.

Concept II Holiday Challenge: 170251 meters left

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

November 24, 2001

critics and groupthink

Whenever I open my refrigerator, eau d'turkey wafts out. Given the amount of
cayenne I used in the seasoning, and the amount Rudder smeared on the outside of
the turkey, it's a fairly large-sized wafting. Rudder treacherously finished the
leftover salad last night without saving me any *pout* but I made up a batch of
bowties and kasha that will last a while. We've still got some of the pots-au-
creme left, too, as well as the very tasty Pepperidge Farm cookies, delicate
wafers rolled up and stuffed with chocolate, that I bought to go with the custard.

T2 and Egret were supposed to come over in an hour or so, to work on
lighting up the double for the Christmas Boat Parade they're having over on Town
Lake. However, T2's on the phone with Rudder right now, and it sounds like the
food poisoning the poor boy woke up with on Thanksgiving morning, of all the
rotten timing, may actually be a virus and is still with him. Poor

Yesterday, we went to see the Harry Potter movie, my second
time and Rudder's first. He liked it as much as I did, I think. He hasn't read the
books, but listened to the audio version of book 1 on one of our long trips a
while back. I'd have gotten the other books for our recent siege of regattas, but
the library copies are booked for months ahead, and I didn't want to spend the
money to buy them. One may be in the offing for one of Rudder's Chanukah presents,
however, if we do decide to do a long trip at Christmas.

I have been
meaning to write about how irked I am at the movie critics' reaction to Harry
Potter and the Sorceror's Stone. They all seem to be spouting the same idea
(follow the party line; it saves thinking) that the movie sticks "too closely" to
the book. What was that again? Here we have a brilliant and well-beloved book,
known practically by heart to its legions of young fans, and some older ones as
well. It has vivid descriptions and fast-moving action scenes. The movie-makers
have stuck to the original story-line, omitted and conflated scenes whenever
possible in order to fit within the confines of a movie length, transformed the
descriptions into beautiful and evocative images, and used so many special effects
that the credits list studio after studio after studio. And, uncommonly among
movies with such effects, all of the actors range from competent to brilliant, by
universal acclaim. And these peabrained philistines are saying the movie wasn't
good enough because it should have been less like the book???

who thinks the Wizard of Oz movie was improved by the ending that says it was all
a dream, is in greater need of a heart than the Tin Man ever

Today I am thankful for: the friendships we have
developed over the past year with T2 and Egret.

CII Holiday
1805359 meters left to go.

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

November 23, 2001


Funny thing; yesterday, the amount of food on my plate looked perfectly
reasonable (2-3 slices of turkey breast; one potato, sliced not quite all the way
through and fanned out, with butter, herbs, and cheeses dribbled over it; some
steamed asparagus with lemon butter; a slice of bread; a pickle; and a small bowl
of my tomato and bread salad) but after I got done eating all that, plus (hours
later) a serving of caramel pot-au-creme (which turned out to be both easy and
tasty) I felt the beginnings of a food fight going on in my gut, plus the
intensifying of a headache I'd had all day. I don't know why this should be,
except, of course, that my stomach isn't used to Thanksgiving dinners, as a
general thing. Also, an amount of food that appears to be perfectly fine for an
average-sized person can be way too much for me. Rudder, as usual, ate three times
as much with no ill effects. Oh, well, at least I've participated in a national
ritual: the post-Thanksgiving dinner Alka-Seltzer Moment.

Also, due
to my sudden realization that the Concept II 200000 meter holiday challenge began
on Thanksgiving, not the day after, I pulled two 2000 meter pieces, which didn't
help either my head or my stomach. Yes, it's here; Hell Month has begun. Two
hundred thousand meters between Thanksgiving and Christmas translates to 6060
meters/day, average. Obviously, today I Had some catching up to do, since I only
did a total of 4K yesterday, so I pulled 8500 meters and am now back on track and
even a tiny bit ahead. If we take a possible two-week driving trip to Yellowstone
and Rudder's home town in Oregon over Christmas, I may not make the whole
distance. Still, the prize is nominal. The real point of it is just to erg more,
so if I try but don't finish, I won't mourn. For purposes of comparison, I have
actually done just over 200000 meters since the end of January, when I began
logging it. However, that's not including all the distance rowed in a real boat.
(Rudder's suggestion is to take the erg with us on our trip. I've mentally filed
that under How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Vacation.)

So even though at
any second I can pull up a long list of things for which I am thankful, with
Rudder at the head of the list, I don't feel thankful at the moment. To counter
that tendency, between now and Christmas, at the end of every daily entry I'll
note the meters left out of that 200000, plus one thing for which I am

Today I am thankful for: wearing cotton and spandex
workout clothes instead of a burqa.

CII Holiday Challenge:187249
meters to go

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

November 22, 2001

Happy Thanksgiving

Plans for the day: sleeping late (done and checked off the to-do list) and
cooking. I was going to make kasha and bowties to eat with the leftovers, but I
think I'll wait on that, since there isn't room in the fridge at the moment. The
caramel pot-au-creme is done, and even tasty. I was a little worried that the
caramel flavor wouldn't be strong enough, since half of it boiled up and onto the
stove when I added the cream, but I tasted a tiny bit and it seems ok. Egret
suggested Bˇarnaise sauce to go on my asparagus, so I may do that, if it doesn't
look too hard to make. I'm off now to eat breakfast and consult with my

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, everyone. One thing for which I
am thankful this year is the opportunity to meet and get to peek inside other
people's lives through the medium of these diaries. Even more so, for those who
have become friends, though diaries and my lists -- high in that roster are href="">Mechaieh, she who was Phelps, href="">Natalie, and href="">Caerula, but there are lots of others. I
have a feeling I'll write more on that theme later today.

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

November 21, 2001

No, really, I'm OK

And it's morning, and of course I'm feeling better. One problem with keeping an
online diary is that writing down your bad moods somehow dignifies them: passing
blues can sound like the onset of major depression. On the one hand, obviously I'm
not happy about the fact that I'm not earning any money, and it's true that I've
not entirely thrilled about the way we manage our money. And the very nice notes
from Mechaieh and href="">Caerula cheered me up quite a lot. It's
just that I hate to think of them worried enough to write to me about it when it
really was mostly a case of can't-sleep-grumpiness.

Anyway, the thing
about the money is that it's really just a side-effect of one of the things I
treasure most about our marriage. Rudder actually sees me as a person. Not an
appendage, or a different species, or a child, or something called a 'wife' that
every (hetero) man is supposed to have, but a partner. He expects as much from me
as he would from anyone with whom he had set up a partnership. As a result, we
really donÕt fit most of the usual marital stereotypes well. I tell people getting
married that marriage doesn't have to be what other people think it is; each one
can be shaped to fit the people in it and to hell with the rest of the world's
expectations. I honestly believe in that, and most of the time I live and want to
live by it.

Sometimes, though, it's a lot like when I was a little
Jewish kid, celebrating Chanukah but seeing all the malls decorated for Christmas,
watching Frosty and Rudolf and Charlie Brown with his scraggly little tree, and
singing carols in school. Sometimes the rest of the world's expectations grow
overwhelming and it's hard to stop thinking, "Wait. They say that's my birthright.
Why don't I have that?" even though you might have something much better instead.
I've been rereading the latter half of the Betsy-Tacy series and I get a bit
wistful when Jo proposes and tells Betsy how he wants to support and take care of
her. Ditto when I hear that T2 just bought Egret a new car -- and they're not even
married yet.

Also, Rudder has no iota of inclination toward a
romantic frame of mind. He last bought me flowers maybe eight years ago. He
doesn't know how to think of sweet nothings, though he might be willing to say
them if he could. He doesn't throw surprise parties for my birthdays, or bring me
gifts when it's not my birthday, or whisk me off for romantic weekend trips. Our
weekend trips are to regattas. On the other hand, last year my Christmas gift was
a pair of oars, painted with the Arizona flag and sized just for me. It took him
hours and hours and was the sort of thing that was perfect for me and no one else
in the world. And last night, when I got done injecting the turkeys, he came in
without being asked and took over the cleanup -- not an easy task, since pureeing
and injecting that mix of onions, garlic, broth, and seasoning tends to slop over,
spray out, and generally get all over everything. His kind gestures are practical,
not romantic, but probably take more effort exactly because of

So keeping our money separate is one factor of our equal
partnership and it also prevents a lot of fighting, since Rudder is much more
careful with money than I am. And when we make roughly equal amounts, or close
enough that it can be adjusted by having one of us put a little more in our joint
savings, I'm ok with that. It's rough right now while I'm not making anything, but
we haven't adjusted our methods in the belief this is a temporary state. (Please
God.) He's paid for all the traveling we've been doing, will probably pay for some
end of year one-time expenses like joining the other rowing club, and has said
he'll help out whenever I ask. I just know it's my part of the deal not to ask
unless it's something I really need.

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

November 20, 2001

Maybe some nice hot tea will help

Can't sleep. Sucks. Fuck.

Also, I'm pissed again over the fact that
Rudder is making vast amounts of money and I'm trying to focus on thinking poor,
since I'm living off my savings and my unemployment only lasts another couple of
months. It's like having two standards of living in one house. I mean, we eat the
same food and sleep on the same sheets, but I'm trying to think about every dollar
I spend and he can buy whatever he wants. Actually, he does think about every
dollar he spends, but only because he's like that anyway -- he saves and saves and
saves and then buys something big, instead of pissing it away as I tend to. But it
sucks anyway. And my share of our food, roof, and other necessities is coming out
of my savings account.

It hasn't escaped my notice that my moods
seem to be affected more by hormones lately than they ever used to, so it's
entirely possible I'm pissed only because of those annoying little lunar-cycling
chemicals. After all, this is the deal I signed up for when we got married; it's
not like he's changed anything on me. But it sucks even more that I can't feel
self-righteous about being pissed off; instead I have to wonder if I'm just being
all menstrual and unreasonable. Goddammit, if I'm mad, I want to at least feel
good about it. I hate having to second-guess my emotions, always probing to see if
they're valid.

This sucks. Life sucks. Unemployment sucks. Rudder
sucks. And he's sound asleep, which makes him suck even more. Can you tell it's
way past my bedtime? Now I know why babies cry when they wake up in the middle of
the night. It's because when you can't sleep and you don't have control of your
life, everything sucks. And they don't know the words for it, so they cry

I'll show them, the nameless 'them' that are behind
everything wrong and evil. I'll sleep in tomorrow and completely skip working out.
That'll show them. I'll have my revenge yet. Or at least I'll be asleep and won't
notice if anything sucks.

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

for what she is and what she is to be

Last night, we saw an old rerun on TV that upset me a bit. It was a Drew Carey
episode in which he and Mr. Wick are pretending to be a gay married couple (their
words) in order to get a Wick a visa to stay in the US. I wonder how many people,
watching that show, believed that those really are the laws. It upset me, because
if people believe that, if they don't know when things are wrong, then there will
never be any outcry to fix the laws. I was thinking about that again today, after
coming across some lines by Henry van Dyke:

I know that Europe's wonderful, yet something seems to lack:

The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back.

But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free, --

We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.

Van Dyke wrote that in 1911, before the Great War shattered Europe, and forever
wrenched her from her past, but I still believe that if there is something that
America ought to be, it's encapsulated in those last two lines. Australia, too;
the two countries are alike in that. I felt at home there because both countries
are so oriented toward the promise of the future.

Incidentally, Roger McGuinn put that poem to music, and it can be heard href="">here.

I don't know why I felt the need to write that today, except for the concatenation
of the sitcom and the poem. But it is something I believe in.

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

the 200000 meter turkey day

Hot. Cold. Chilled. And getting ready to deal with turkeys. That's my day. First I
erged for over half an hour, doing a workout that involved pulling as hard as I
could for a minute, then taking it easy for three. It's supposed to be a good
anaerobic workout, according to an exercise researcher who works with href="">Concept II. He said to start with 2-4 reps and
build up to 10, but I figured that was meant for people who haven't erged much. I
did eight reps, because I wanted to make sure I finished over 6000 meters, just to
get ready to do that distance if I decide to do the href="">200000 meter Holiday
. (Incidentally, I'd have linked to more info about all this, but
apparently Concept II doesn't put their newsletter on their web page. Silly

So first I rowed, getting hot and sweaty enough that I had
to take off my T-shirt. I was wearing a sports bra, just so no one gets unpleasant
images springing to mind, though I don't know why I bother, since I was doing this
at home. Then I hobbled downstairs to use the computer. After about 5 minutes
online, I realized I hadn't stretched out. This is where a laptop comes in handy;
I could move it to the floor and finish reading about href="">kangaroos and stromatolites, a
la Marn
, while I stretched out. But now my butt is chilled, from sitting on
cold tile in thin tights. So I'm sitting at the computer wearing a fleece jacket
whose main virtue is that, unlike all my other warm stuff, it was

Once all this excitement wears off, the high point of my
day will consist of injecting some really smelly stuff into turkeys. No, I have
not become a veterinary volunteer. And, no, I am not attempting to spread anthrax
by way of Thanksgiving dinners. (Or even gonorrhea, though the href="">Horrible Affliction Test
says I could. But at Chez Dichroic, we generally deep-fry our turkeys, as a result
of having spent some years out near Cajun country. We considered just roasting one
this year, as it will just be the two of us, but when you're deep-frying turks,
it's just as easy to do several as one, so we generally ask around to see if
anyone else wants one done. Some friends took us up on the offer, and so we have
an excuse.

Deep-fried turkeys do not come out greasy. What happens
is that the whole thing cooks in no time (about 3 min/pound), and so it seals
quickly, leaving all the oil (peanut oil) on the outside only, and the turkey
juices sealed within. But the true Cajun touch is in the injection. We use a
recipe based on Paul Prudhomme's; it used to be easy to find on the Internet, but
now all I can find is his Terducken recipe, or weasly pages that purport to tell
you how to deep-fry a turkey with vague ingredients like "4 ounces of your
favorite liquid marinade". Pfui. It's possible that Prudhomme's recipe is
copyrighted and his people got it off all those sites, but that seems unlikely,
given the number of his other recipes available. I may have to post it myself, if
anyone is interested. So today I will chop onions and garlic, mix with spices and
sauces, puree the whole thing, and inject into several spots on the turkey,
getting it ready to provide us Turkey Nirvana on Thursday.

One note
to anyone else planning to fry a gobbler this year: do NOT try this indoors.
Houses in New Orleans have burned down because of this.

Posted by dichroic at 07:13 AM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2001

smarts and cars and turkey

Hmmm. Mistress Sinister href="">thinks I'm smart. And
the woman (excuse me, the supervillainness) is a published author, fer gossakes,
so you know she's no slouch in the Deep Thought department herself. (Do
supervillainnesses think Deep Thoughts, or do they just create Deep Plots?
Anyway.) So I'm flattered. Funny how much easier it is to seem smart on the
internet, where you can erase your demonstrations of complete stupidity before you
send them out. Not all of them, in my case, because I can't type worth a damn, and
I don't always think coherently, but at least some.

Even more
amusing, Rudder apparently has an inflated idea of my store of knowledge -- and he
has every opportunity to know better. On the way back from climbing on Sunday, we
were listening to the Car Talk show on NPR when Click and Clack, aka Tom and Ray
Magliozzi, posed their weekly puzzler. I snapped out the answer immediately, which
involved the direction of the thread on the tire lugnuts of a 1963 Dodge Dart. The
man (Rudder, I mean) didn't even seem slightly startled that I knew that essential
tidbit. Now, it is true that I do know a vast amount of completely useless
information (I'm much weaker on useful information, and not at all good at getting
things done) but the lugnuts on a Dart? Even I have limits. He didn't even ask how
I knew, so I probably shouldn't have ruined my rep by admitting that I had heard
the answer when I caught a snippet of the show the day before. (On Sundays, my
local station plays the previous week's episode of href="">Car Talk, while on Saturday, I had heard the
latest one, which of course gave the answer to the previous week's

But really. Tire nuts from 1963?

Current evolving plan for Thursday's menu:

deep-fried turkey

tomato and bread salad

fanned potatoes (my brother's recipe)

steamed asparagus

apple sauce (Rudder doesn't like cranberry sauce)

caramel pot-au-creme

The caramel creme is the only thing on that list I haven't already made and liked.
It looks like a minor amount of pain-in-the-ass, but not terrible, and I can make
it the day before. I think I'll also make bow ties and kasha, not for Thanksgiving
dinner, but to eat with the leftover turkey, while I'm in cooking mode. Or maybe
not, since deep-fried turkey doesn't produce gravy. Hmmm.

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

hands of the Mummy, part deux

I had a very nice, though somewhat painful row today. One problem with mixing
rowing and rock climbing is that it's hard on the hands. My butt didn't get too
sore today (I need to do something about that seat) but my fingers are shredded.
By the end of the row, I was doing my famed href="">mummy imitation again --
tape on at least 10 of the joints in my fingers. And I still ended up with a
blister, so it should have been 11. I taped all the spots that were missing skin
from yesterday before I started, but had to add more when the tape itself started
making skin near it fold over funny.

Despite that, and despite some
residual soreness in my shoulders and a skinned knee, I did just over 10600 meters
today, and at a couple points during power drills had my split times down to 2:13.
Which is piddly for Rudder, who can do that while rowing at half pressure, but
it's good for me.

Meanwhile, I still can't get the boat down
by myself because it's too high. There are a set of wooden steps that let me reach
the boat, but they don't help enough -- I'd have to be standing on a narrow step,
lifting a quarter of my body weight overhead and way off and to one side. Not
gonna happen. I need to see if I can get the city to let me transfer to a lower
rack. Otherwise, Rudder is considering a typically (for him) elaborate system
involving a small step and a sliding rack system. That would let me slide the boat
overhead and get me up just high enough to reach it.

I should do a
lot of cleaning today, but I don't even want to think about that. Meanwhile, my
computer setup is giving me some problems. The laptop seems to have processes I
don't want or need running on it that really slow things down. This is most
noticeable online (of course, most of what I do on the computer is online) and I
think it's due to things that have downloaded without my permission -- for
example, when you download RealAudio, a bunch of other stuff comes with it. I've
actually had a site (NOT RealAudio) change the homepage on my computer without my
volition! Another possibility is that things I do want to be there are
autostarting, which I don't necessarily want them to do. The Startup folder is
harder to find on Windows ME -- NT is much easier to manage. Also, when I try to
print, I get an 'out of paper' message, when the printer does have paper. This
does not happen from the Mac, which is hooked to the same printer. That's a major
problem, as it prevented me from printing the confirmation for some airline
tickets I got yesterday. I did save the page, as well as the email they sent, so
at least I'll be able to print when I get this problem fixed.

Later note: After an extremely frustrating call to Compaq, who told me
"Since the problem involves your printer, we consider it a third party problem. We
can still help you, but only after charging $39.99." This despite the fact
that the Mac, hooked to the same printer, worked perfectly. Considering that the
Compaq people sounded fairly clueless, and I didn't want to spend $39.99, I
didn't take them up on their offer. I did get them to tell me how to control what
processes start up when I boot this computer. (If anyone needs to know, you select
Start->Run and type 'msconfig'. Intuitive, huh?) I turned off everything I didn't
think I needed, which was everything not connected with Windows or VirusScan, and
restarted. Then I tried to print again, and got the same "Out of Paper" message.
Frustrated, I smacked my hand to my forehead, then accidentally, let it fall
heavily onto the laptop. The error message disappeared, the printer whirred
industriously, and my file printed perfectly.

So now, my latest theory is that Compaq offers to help for a significant charge,
so that questioners will go away, because they don't think it sounds professional
to tell their customers, "Whack your computer hard and the problem may go away."

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

November 18, 2001

shooting stars and climbing rocks

The camping trip to go watch meteorites? Definitely worth it. Early on I was a
little worried, because even an hour out of town, we could see the glow of Phoenix
to our left, and there were a few clouds early on, so that the sky was dark blue-
gray instead of black, and the stars were in "city" instead of "rural/planetarium"
mode. Thankfully, though, the clouds cleared away, the city's glow was only way
down on the horizon, and the moon was a fingernail sliver. Though it wasn't the
"raining stars" show of 1833 or even the "too many to count" one of 1966, it was
still more shooting stars than I have ever seen in one night, made more
spectacular because so many -- most of them, in fact -- were fireballs, leaving
trails of flame across the sky that faded out slowly, like afterimages. We slept
outside, not bothering to set up a tent in the dependable desert weather, to
maximize our viewing chances. Most of the shooting stars I had seen before were
the kind that just look like stars that move a short distance, or like satellites
that only travel a few degrees before going pffffutt. These were beautiful balls
of fire -- some even flashed and dimmed and flashed again as they burned into the

Queue was going to come, but ended up going ATVing with
an old friend instead. T2 and Egret did come. Unfortunately, evil influences that
they are, they brought an entire fifth of Jack Daniels, most of which we finished
in the course of the night. This forced me later to have to leave the warmth and
comfort of my sleeping bag and assorted blankets not once but twice. Bleah. Or
maybe it was the hot dogs. I finally got to sleep for an hour or so, to be woken
around 2 by Rudder getting up for something (nonalcoholic) to drink. By then, he'd
been watching the show for a little while and told me the meteors seemed to be
coming closer together. We watched for a few more minutes, then woke T2 and Egret
to be sure they didn't miss anything. (The nice thing about rowers is that being
woken at 2:30 AM hardly phazes them.)

I fell back asleep as the
fireballs began to come less frequently, and woke again in time to watch the sun
rise in streaks of red and gold. We got up, packed a little, and headed out to do
a bit of climbing while we were in the area. Rudder and I hand' climbed in over a
year; Egret and T2 had only gone once, indoors, so we set up the top ropes for
three 5.7 climbs, in an area where we've taken a bunch of newbies. Egret, light,
wiry, and flexible was a natural. T2, being strong for his weight, would likely
had done well except that he doesn't like heights. They both turned out to be
rock-steady (sorry) belayers, which is always reassuring when it's your ass there
in a sling, literally. And now I'm tired and grumpy, and my fingers are so much
more abraded that I can't believe how much I've typed here.

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

November 17, 2001

gold against blue

We're planning to go out camping tonight, just so that we can be out in the desert
where it's really dark when we wake up at 3AM to see the meteor shower (and thanks
to Mechaieh for being
the first one to let me know about it). I have some doubts, as I have never yet
seen a meteor shower, however widely vaunted, that produced more than one every
few minutes. Also, the Leonids are supposed to peak about every 33 years, and that
would have been 1998 or 1999. Then again, that may just be an approximation; it's
the latest predictions that are estimating thousands per hour. And the guesses as
to when the shower will peak are just guesses, so maybe I'll wake up well before
3, just in case. And sleep outside the tent, with contact lenses in (I almost
always do that when camping, anyhow). Three or four others are going with us, so
this should be fun, no matter how the comets pan out.

In sympathy with my plans, I started reading An Intimate View of the Night
. However, I may not make it through the book, as it's ticked me off right
in the beginning by showing Orion without his sword (though, oddly, he's shown
correctly on the cover). Clearly the illustrations are omitting faint stars, to
make spotting constellations easier and to approximate the view from a city, but I
live in a majorly metro area and have no problem spotting the sword. Of course, I
get an especially nice view of the Hunter when I'm out rowing, but there are
bright lights ringing the lake, so there's still plenty of glare

In honor of Orion, here's something from William Carlos Williams, who did
apparently write about more than peaches:


The Archer is wake!

The Swan is flying!

Gold against blue

An Arrow is lying.

There is hunting in heaven--

Sleep safe till to-morrow.

The Bears are abroad!

The Eagle is screaming!

Gold against blue

Their eyes are gleaming!


Sleep safe till to-morrow.

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!


There is hunting in heaven--

Sleep safe till to-morrow.

I may have included that poem here before. If I did, I probably also mentioned
that I really like Gordon Bok's musical setting of it.

There are a few astronomical poems collected href="">here, though I think he's
stretching a point by including Sam McGee. But I like Service too.

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

November 16, 2001

Sorceror's Stone good, P's bad

OK, I'm back from seeing Harry Potter (and the rest of his movie, of course), and
here are some random impressions. I did like the movie. The staging, sets, and
costumes, had a nice Dickensian flavor, with lots of sepia tones. The Gryffindor
common room was far more luxurious, rich and decorative while still looking
comfortable, than, say, my living room. I want to move to Hogwarts now. No wonder
the students and teachers all seemed to be in fairly good shape; anyone trying to
get around that castle, with all those stairs, on a daily basis ought to have
thighs like Xeno Mueller's.
(I was going to say Lance Armstrong's, but I saw Xeno at a regatta the other week
and the man's got thighs bigger than my waist.)

Most of the
characters were not jarring far from my mental images. Harry's hair was much
messier than it had looked in the pictures I'd seen, fortunately, as this is a
point J.K. Rowling harps on. His eyes probably should have been greener. I was
expecting more freckles on Ron, and worse teeth on Hermione. Also, for some
reason, his name mostly, I always think of Rubeus Hagrid as having long red hair
and beard. That's not the movie people's fault, though, since JKR does describe
him with masses of black hair. Maybe she was envisioning a red face? Also, I had
pictured Neville as being shorter and rounder, and I would have guessed all those
Brits in the school to run more to redheads and blondes, with light eyes. There
did seem to be the appropriate number of non-Anglo-Saxon types, though. Lee Jordan
is black, as he was written, and I saw several Indian faces as well. No Asians,
but I don't recall any until Cho, even in the books.

If I had one
major complaint about the movie, it was that everything seemed so rushed; so many
of the delightful, scene-setting details were missing. They seemed to include only
things relevant to the main thread of the plot. I assume JKR kept them from
omitting anything that might be important in later episodes. (Does that mean
Neville's frog will do something important?) They probably couldn't have done
anything about this, however; even with all the omissions, including the coming
attractions, the movie ran about 2 hours and 40 minutes, and they couldn't
realistically make a children's movie any longer. What will they do with the 700-
plus page Book Four?

One other minor gripe: Chris Columbus or someone
appears to have an odd prejudice against the letter "P"; not only did they omit
Peeves the poltergeist, but also Dudley's friend, Piers Polkiss, Poppy Pomfrey,
the nurse (apparently, injuries have to heal normally in the movie world) and,
most significant, the potion challenge after the living chess game. I miss that
last one. I liked the idea that magic has to follow rules and that logic is always

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

a pleasant row

This morning I rowed 9800 meters, almost exactly, in my single -- I meant to do
10K, but I underestimated and turned a little early. (There's a little computer
that hooks to a tiny propeller under the boat and a magnet under the seat to tell
stroke rate, distance, and time it would take to row 500m at the current
pressure.) Perhaps I should follow href="">Badsnake's, lead and begin providing a
casualty report: a sore butt, four blisters, one on the middle and ring fingers of
each hand, and some blackened skin, from the rubber grips on the

Coach DI was in Jekyll mode today: even though I didn't row
with his group, because I haven't and won't sign up for the new session, he helped
me get my boat down from the rack (I can't quite reach it). Even more astounding,
he handed around a workout schedule for the rest of this month. She-Hulk had
complained about the lack of planning and apparently her voice actually had some
impact, or maybe it's a cumulative thing. He was spookily nice,

I did have a nice row -- got waked several times by the
coaching launch, but otherwise I quite enjoyed myself. Though that seat is
extremely uncomfortable; I limited my distance not due to time or fatigue, but due
to pain in fingers and butt. The finger pain is just blisters; they'll go away
once I scull enough to build the proper calluses. My boat, a href="">Hudson lightweight
, is sweet but sensitive. Concentrating on proper form made a huge
difference in bringing down my split times. And I was rowing the whole time, with
no nonsense about coxing, swapping out, or drills with only some people rowing, so
I was warm enough, despite temperatures in the high 40s. It's such luxury to just
get in a boat and row, on a calm clear predawn morning, with no waste of time, no
chatter, no waiting, no damned politics.

I have a feeling I'm likely
to post again today; in two hours and eight minutes, I get to go see Harry Potter!

Posted by dichroic at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2001

a book for my pains

Well, the unemployment meeting wasn't too bad -- they were almost running on time
and the meeting itself was very short. Clearly the woman was impressed with my
professional-but-not-too-well-off costume.....that, plus the fact that I had
filled out my form correctly.

Also, traffic was light and I got there
well ahead of time, which allowed me to spot and visit a very nice used book store
just down the block in Mesa's surprisingly nice downtown. I scored a copy of
Marjorie Dean, College Senior, out of fond memories of Marjorie Dean, High School
Freshman, which I think I had inherited from my grandmother. Either I read it to
death, or it's still at my parents' house. My ban on book-buying while unemployed
is flexible in the case of one-time-only used-book opportunities. Besides, this
eighty-year-old hardback cost less than a new paperback.

But I
learned I only have about three more months of unemployment. Eek!

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

dreary, most likely

Ugh. This morning I have to drive to the state "Economic Security" office, 15
miles or so away, just to convince them that yes, I am still unemployed, yes, I am
really looking for a job, and yes, they should keep sending me those piddly little
checks, for six months or however long they're willing to so. With luck, I'll get
a job soon and won't have to find worry about whether there's an extension. Given
the current job climate, there damned well should be.

This is a bit
of a clothing challenge; clearly I need to look professional and serious, but not
too prosperous. ("Yes, I really want a job and I am a trustworthy professional
anyone would want to hire....but I still want that state money meanwhile.") I
settled on the narrow black-and-white tweedish pants from a suit I splurged on in
my spending spree last winter, when I needed cold-weather business clothes, with a
black jewel-necked fitted jersey top, otherwise known as a glorified T-shirt, and
restrained jewelry. At least it's comfortable.

I fully expect today's
appointment to be dreary, perhaps with some patronizing thrown in, if they decide
to critique my resume, but at least it's sandwiched between yesterday's haircut
and tomorrow's viewing of Harry Potter.

Oh, and a smidgen of rowing
news: despite DI's promise to extend the current rowing session because of its
raised price and bad timing, the city is starting (has started) a new session
running from November 7 to somewhere in January. It was hard to determine this,
since the online schedule is buggy and can't be downloaded, but Unknown Legend
forwarded the info to me, after a marathon conversation yesterday (she's nice, but
chatty). I imagine half the group will skip this, just because they'd miss so much
with the holidays. Meanwhile, I had said I'd drop out after the current session,
so as of now, I am rowing on my own or with the other local club.

Posted by dichroic at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2001



Yes, even here in the low
deserts it can get cold at 5 AM in November. It's even worse because we
have no docks, and actually have to step into the water to launch our boats,
leaving us with wet, slowly freezing feet for the rest of practice. This year, I
will go find me some waterproof socks, I promise myself. Also, I coxed the last
half of practice, which means first I worked up a sweat (well, not really, because
we were just doing drills) and then I sat very very still in a tiny little seat
for half an hour. It could have been worse; at least they didn't splash me.

Also, for some reason our set really sucked today (partly the
boat, I think, and partly us). It was so bad that we had to do our drills in
pairs, so only two people were rowing, and the other two just shivering, at any
given time. So I wasn't even all that warm when I first got into the coxswain's

I feel much better now, though, after a hot shower (mmm...),
some cocoa (Mmmmmm...), and cinnamon toast (MMMmmmmmmmmmm....). Half the fun of
being cold is warming up again. (The other half, if you're wondering, is getting
to wear sweaters. And there's also something in there about just not being hot, a
condition of which I'm very tired.)

Today I get my hair cut.
Tomorrow's appointment won't be nearly so much fun, though; I have to go to the
local unemployment office, and convince them that yes, I am really looking for a
job and yes, they should keep sending me money. Not that they send me all that
much; good thing I have savings, because unemployment in this state is well below
the poverty line. I suppose that's *why* I have savings. At least I can use the
meeting to ask a few questions; I had thought I read that the benefit lasts 18
months, but there's something else in their booklet that seems to imply it's only
6 months. I have a master's degree and some talent with words, but I cannot
understand the rules in the Arizona Unemployment manual. The good thing is, at
least I know it's them being unclear, not just me being stupid.

Posted by dichroic at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2001

Off to see the Big Tits

I was a good girl today and went to the gym, where I did not only upper-body
weights but also 3K on the erg. Almost at stud muffaletta level. However,
considering I haven't done over 6K on the erg on any given day since I started
considering the Concept II
, I somehow doubt I'll ever make that.

At any rate, I
won't make it if we go away for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, and especially
not if we travel for both. Rudder is talking about taking next week off so we can
drive up to see Yellowstone and its neighboring Big Tits (Grand Tetons National
Park, in more formal parlance). The trip sounds like fun, but I was just thinking
how nice it would be to spend a weekend in my own bed, so I'm ambivalent.
Especially as I would then get back, have exactly one week here, and then head off
to Philadelphia.

I've got a significant portion of my holiday gifts
ready; my brother's, his girlfriend's, and my mother's are done, and my father's
just needs to be ordered. That leaves my uncle and Rudder. However, we celebrate
both Chanukah and Christmas, and Rudder's birthday is just before the latter, so I
usually get him a lot of stuff. His Chanukah gifts will be small things, and
probably mostly candy this year, but I want to get something he'd like for
Christmas and his birthday, though without spending as much as I generally

Turtleguy's entry href="">today is reminding me
that I need to go to Wal-Mart soon and buy some protein bars for Rudder. The only
thing that makes that more bearable is that I know exactly where they are and,
though they're always busy, I can go during the day when at least they're a tiny
bit less crowded. Also, for some reason the protein bars are in the pharmacy
section, so I always check my blood pressure on the machine there, just in case
it's so low I can gloat about it. Or in case it's gone up, I suppose. I'll put the
Wal-Mart trudge off until tomorrow, though, so I can combine it with a visit to
Cool Salon Guy. Today, I just have to visit the library, and call the person who
was supposed to be wanting to interview me, since I have given up on her company's
HR to get anything done in a timely fashion.

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

November 12, 2001

Veterans Day

Veterans Day. Once it was Armistice Day, to remember the 11th hour of the 11th day
of the 11th month, when the Great War, the War to End All Wars, was itself ended,
to remember the moment when the population could settle down and rebuild for a
glorious future in a new world founded on peace, not war. I think a lot of people
truly believed that, at the end of 1918 after four years of one of the ugliest
wars the world had yet seen. Now of course, we call it Veterans Day, because we
have seen so many wars since then that it would be silly to memorialize one. Our
idealism has faded, and here we are in another war again. They keep saying it's a
new kind, but the dead are still just as dead, I notice. I doubt that I know
anyone who believes this war will be our last.

Veterans Day. Lucky thing it is, because some kids would otherwise have been in
school in Queens, and might have been hurt or killed when the plane went down

Veterans Day. Tragedy that it is, because some people were at home in Queens who
might otherwise have been at work, safe from the giant aircraft whose engines
plunged through houses, whose full load of fuel set homes on fire.

Veterans Day. I am glad to honor those who have placed their own mortal bodies
between their loved homes and the war's desolation. I am glad, even, to honor
those who took the risk of doing so, whether voluntarily or via the draft. I
believe in moments of solemnity, to ensure that courage and suffering are not
forgotten. I just wish, though, that we had an opposite but equivalent day of
derision, to remember with scorn those who have started the wars, those who
committed such atrocities that war seemed to be the only answer, those who
promoted combat for their own glory, and, not least, those who, not even believing
in the cause, sent younger men and women off to die. What's the opposite of a
holiday? What I have in mind is not so much a day of mourning but a day of
scorning, of deprecation rather than celebration.

I don't know where the moral is, or where this song should end,

But I wonder just how many wars are fought between good friends.

And those who give the orders, they are not the ones to die,

It's Bell and it's O'Malley, and the likes of you and I.

There were rose, roses, there were roses

And the tears of the people ran together.

-- Tommy Makem, There Were Roses

All rights and all wrongs have long since blown away,

For causes are ashes where children lie slain....

-- Stan Rogers, House of Orange

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


Back again, and (I write with immense satisfaction) no more trips planned for a
month. I get to spend weekends in my own bed. The traveling has been taking its
toll on most of us who have been along for the four-regattas-in-three-weeks siege.
I've definitely been feeling grumpy (though at least part of that is not getting
to race in any but the first one) and Rudder and T2 are both showing signs of
strain. By the time we got home last night, Rudder had a full-blown migraine and
was telling me that if he said to pull over to the side of the road, I should do
so immediately. He used to get bad headaches after a lot of our regattas,
but hasn't this year; he probably didn't have enough to eat or drink yesterday,
and I know they rowed even harder than in the previous races. The other guy who
went along doesn't seem to be stressed, or maybe I just don't know him well enough
to tell. He's a former Nationals champion, so maybe he's more used to the

Now that this is all done, I need to get back on track, working
on my book project and applying for jobs every single day (I have been applying,
but just a few times a week). I've been a bit of a sloth the past few weeks,
working on beading and stitching projects but otherwise mostly just getting ready
for each trip. It's time now to get back to "normal", and, with luck, back to
work. Though I'm sure that when that happens, I will miss having time and energy
at my disposal, even while I'm enjoying having money again.

href="">Concept II has posted a challenge for the
holiday season: to do 200,000 meters on the erg between Thanksgiving and
Christmas. I did the math, and this comes out to an average of 6060 meters a day.
That equates to torture as far as I'm concerned, but both Rudder and Egret are
talking about tackling it, and if they do, I will feel obliged to at least try.
I'm putting all the peer pressure on myself, sadly; neither of them has so much as
hinted the thought that I really should be erging more anyway. Even if I get a
job, I can't use it as an excuse, since both of them are working. Also, I admit to
a hint of curiosity as to what I'd look and feel like at the end of the month, if
I did do it. The prize for succeeding is negligible, but even if I don't make the
goal, the attempt will be good for me. *sigh*

I have also figured out
why not getting to row or even cox in this past weekend's race bothers me so much.
Last week's race, where no one from my group raced except for Rudder and T2,
didn't bother me much; after all, I could have chosen to race a single or tried to
talk someone into doing a double with me. This last week, however, we sent eights,
and the lineups were chosen by DI. When I got laid off, over three months ago, it
left a big hole in my life. One thing I did still have was rowing, and that got me
out of the house, dealing with other people, and with responsibilities to live up
to. As a result, rowing has probably assumed a greater importance in my life than
it would have had I been putting most of my time into a job. So when I was left
out, not only of the rowing lineup, but even out of a coxing slot, it was as if DI
had said, "Not only are you not good enough to keep a job, you're not good enough
to row when it matters. You're not even good enough to just steer the boat." Even
though I know that my layoff was no reflection on my own competence -- even though
I think DI has the mature judgment of a rabid rodent -- even though everyone else
my size also got left out of the lineup, that still stings.

But now
it's over, and I'm leaving DI's program, and I need to just concentrate on getting
employed again, and get past it. Still though, the mere sight of DI can make me
daydream more than any other man. Only in his case, the fantasies involve poison
darts and small backpack-mounted missiles, or at least a swift kick.

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

November 09, 2001

my cup runneth over

I knew there was a reason I like the Gap and it's
more than just my essential bourgeois-ness. I just bought a 32B bra there. And
yes, it does fit just fine, with no extra socks or even cotton balls needed. This
does, I suspect, have something to do with all that exercise --while there, I had
the saleschick measure me and I am officially now a 34A, up from the 32A I've been
since I finally grew enough that I didn't need a training bra. The saleschick told
me that she was also a 34A, but found 34B fit her better, so it's probably just
that the Gap's bras run small. But hey, I'll take it.

Next step:
finding out whether, if I buy a sportsbra in a larger size, it won't cut in under
my arms as several of mine have been doing.

It's funny how exciting
this is; I have honestly never minded being small-breasted (though I did mind a
bit being completely flat, back in 7th grade when my peers considered that a fit
subject for loud discussion). I sort of think of myself as being the convenient
travel size. I have no divots in my shoulders. I have no upper back pain (that's
not just due to slumping). I can go braless comfortably and often do, if my shirt
isn't too white or too tight. I can even jump up and down without any external
support. Yet still, I'm enough a product of my culture that going up a cup size is
a milestone moment for me, especially since I've actually lost a few pounds
recently so it doesn't just stem from increased plumpness.

I am
looking forward to telling Rudder.

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


I have been outed. One of the rowers told me she'd spoken to the href="">newspaper photographer
when he came out to take some photos at practice on Wednesday. He told her about
online diaries, and this one in particular -- the word he used was "hilarious",
she said. So if you're reading this and you're anyone from rowing,

That's all right -- when the reporter originally interviewed me,
she asked if it was all right to use my name in her article. When I told her she
could, I made my decision about going public. Anyway, some of the things I've
written may be biased -- it's a personal diary, after all -- but I've always tried
to tell truth as I saw it, even to pointing out other possible

The photographer came out to practice today, as
well; DI had told him he could ride the coaches' launch. I was surprised at how
well his flash seemed to illuminate us, since most of the row is pre-dawn at this
time of year. Nice camera.

Today's practice was light, because most
people (but not me, damn and blast it) are racing this weekend, but fun. We did
several "leapfrog" races -- row the boat for 10 hard strokes, then balance it,
with oars off the water, and see which boat goes farther. The women's eight beat
the men's almost every time (except once when we had some major crabbing going on)
mostly because we can balance better, It's a matter of center of gravity; I've
noticed that men, especially burly ones, fall in the lake more often when rowing
tippy single sculls.

The rest of today will just be for packing and
then driving to San Diego. Wish Rudder luck in his race, his fourth in three

Next weekend we get to stay home -- yay! I've decided to go to
Philadelphia for a weekend next month, to celebrate my mother's 60th birthday and
my brother's 30th, only three days apart. Besides, his girlfriend invited me to a
30th birthday party, and my parents are being weird about not being invited. I may
be useful to have on hand, to keep explaining why one wouldn't necessarily want to
invite one's parents to a drunken writer sort of bash.

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

November 08, 2001

Just do it....or not?

Holy shit, I need to do collabs more often. Thirty-three readers yesterday, and it
was a slow week up 'til then.

Again this morning, I couldn't convince
myself to go to the gym. So I didn't: I did 2500 meters on the erg, a short
callisthenic routine, a few weights with some little dumbbells we have around, and
some stretching. I really ought to do the stretching no matter what else I do or
don't do on any given day.

This is consonant with my view of exercise
in general: you have to know when not to force it. Some days, your body says, "No,
no gym, please!" Some days it's best to Just Do It (one of the better motivational
slogans for athletes, because thinking too much about exercise can turn you into a
couch potato, stat). But other days, giving yourself a break can help prevent more
serious burnout in the long run. So you fool your body, by changing up: it cries
at the thought of the gym, so you put on an aerobics tape at home. Or you cop out
of a rowing machine workout and swim laps instead. Some days, I don't mind the gym
but I'm bored with my routine, and all I need is to try out a new weight machine.

Certainly, if you're training for a for a specific challenge you may
need to force things -- when training for a marathon, you will need to force
yourself to run a certain amount of distance. Even then, though, a little bit of
cross training may be a good thing.

And some days, extra sleep will
do your mind and body more good than all the exercise in the world. This one
should be used with extreme discretion, however.

Today, not going to
the gym, coupled with a light workout yesterday (we were doing drills, rowing by
sixes with square blades, so we in bow pair ended up sitting out a lot) left me
with n unexpected burst of energy. I did a much faster erg time than usual, and
plan to get more done today than I have been. All this weekend traveling has left
me a bit tired and lazy during the week. I really need to be more diligent about
the job applications, especially since the company that wanted to do the phone
interview still hasn't called back. On Monday I spoke to the HR person, who
had been out a lot last week and who had consequently sat on my app for almost a
full week -- this after telling me they were in a hurry to bring someone in before
the holidays. Grrr.

Otherwise, now that the siege of regattas is
ending, I've decided to go to Philadelphia for my brother's 30th birthday party --
except I just realized that conflicts with a small regatta out here. Oops. Oh

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

November 07, 2001

Poetica: Knuckled Down

Because Mechaieh is right, that you need to keep writing to practice craft before any magic will come, this is for this month's Poetica Collaboration:

Knuckled Down

Laughing, she danced across the moonlit bridge
If she saw the flicker in his eyes, as she whirled into his arms,
She forgot it in his kiss.

Years later, she remembered that odd look.
Her listless step and dowdy dress spoke,
As her stiff mouth would not,
Of her journey from that laughing girl.

She was too spirited, he said, too frivolous,
Not fitted to her place. Word by word
He built her shackles, bricked her in
In a cell of the spirit, trying to quench her spark.

The night she finally ran, she wore over dull clothes
A crimson silk scarf, bought from hoarded dimes
And hidden for months in a secret back drawer.

At the bridge, she left the car.
Then, laughing through tears,
She danced across in the moonlight
And whirled into the arms of freedom.

Funny thing: when I begin this journal, I intended it to be a series of essays. I felt guilty writing the mundanities of my day instead of ruminating on Issues. Now, I seem to have this urge to disgorge minutiae, and I never seem to write anything worthwhile. So instead, as a change, I'll leave this poem with has very little to do with my life. In this entry, I won't write about the photographer's showing up at rowing, or the hour he spent yesterday shooting me at my laptop, or my bead projects or travel plans. I feel the need to do some writing that's worth the reading.
Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (1)

November 06, 2001


Overheard on NPR:

Caller, speaking about a reporter's story of
getting a protesting Afghani man to give him his "Americans are evil hellions"
sign: "When he was so surprised at the warmth of the Afghani people, it just goes
to show you that even well-educated liberals can be arrogant about other

Show host: "Well, he was at a Death to America rally!"

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

Dichroic-centric, in word and image

Well, this should be interesting. For that article in the local paper about
people who keep online diaries, now they want to have a photographer come in later
this morning and photograph me working on my computer. Yeah, there's a Pulitzer
prize subject. This is apparently in addition to photos of me rowing and doing
some of the other shit I write about -- I don't quite know where they're going to
put all these pictures, since I can't imagine it will be all that big a story. I
suppose they just want to take several shots so that they have some choice. It
will be particularly interesting to see how this photographer is going to fit a
camera into my tiny space here, me and my laptop sandwiched between the old
Macintosh and a large black file cabinet. I have a hunch it will involve me moving
the laptop and working somewhere else. Which is fine, but in the name of
journalistic integrity, I would just like to state that if you see the article and
it shows me working anywhere other than in a tiny cramped section of the desk,
that picture was posed.

Today's entry is going to be short, because
for obvious reasons, I need to do a bit of straightening up around

This morning, I forced myself to do 6000 meters on the erg.
Really, it should have been 10000m, or else included some weight lifting, but it
was one of those mornings where the body was whining, "I don't wanna!" It took me
half an hour and a couple of chapters of Agatha Christie to even get out of bed.
The first 3000m were pure dragging torture, even with stops for a swig of water
every 1000m. It wasn't until after that that I finally got into the swing of it,
was able to convince myself to go longer without a break, and started bringing
down my split times. Probably, I should have done 10K at that point, but by then
the news show I was watching started to repeat.

When I was young, I
was taught that it is bad form to use the word "I" too often. Am I the only one
who finds that very difficult to follow in writing a diary, or should I just give
up and accept that this is an exercise in solipsism? Or am I just hopelessly self-

Average "I" count for today's entry: 4.25 per paragraph.

Posted by dichroic at 07:16 AM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2001

when they retire from baseball...

!!!!!!!!!!YEAH DIAMONDBACKS!!!!!!!!!!!

This weekend was more busy
than restful, and depressing for me since I didn't get to race. Still, the race on
Saturday, at Marina del Rey, had a nice brunch afterwards, where we got to hook up
with some of the people we only see at regattas, so that was nice. I also spent
part of the day hanging out with Carney Johnson, who was celebrating his 91st
birthday and who has been rowing for 70 years. He's something of a legend in
California rowing circles. Sunday's race at Newport Beach was large and very
crowded, on a nice race course that stretched from a protected inlet out to the
ocean. Rudder and T2 came in 2nd on Saturday, 3rd on Sunday against stiff
competition. Next weekend: San Diego Fall Classic. There is some possibility I may
get to cox a boat for another club.

The high points of my weekend,
though, had to deal with another sport entirely. Nothing for me will ever beat the
Phillies' winning the World Series in 1980, in their first championship after more
than 90 years of major league ball, or Tug McGraw's incredible relief pitching in
that series. Still, this came close -- I've heard sportscasters already calling it
one of the most exciting Series ever. On Saturday evening, we managed to find a
table at the local Outback with a good view of the bar TVs. This gave us a vantage
point to watch the Diamondbacks CRUSH the Yankees, 15-2. Eight runs in one inning,
I think there wonder Joe Torre looked so pissed off whenever the
cameras caught him. We watched there until the sixth inning or so, then watched
the D-Backs hold the score to the end of the game. What a relief after those games
in New York.

Last night, we stayed up to watch the end of the game,
afraid to turn the TV off -- during both the fourth and fifth games, we'd gone to
sleep, comfortable with our team's 2-run lead, only to find out Brenly had sent
Kim in as relief pitcher and he'd allowed the Yanks to win the game. Twice in a
row. Jesus H. Christ. Staying up last night was rewarded, as we got to see that
incredible bottom half of the 9th inning, when Gonzo brought that runner home to
win the game for us. Schilling's pitching for most of the game was incredible -- I
think he'd only allowed one hit up through about the 6th inning. And then Johnson,
realizing there was nothing to save up for, stepping in after playing last night -
- now there's a man who is fortunate to have so much talent, because he'd never
get by on looks alone.

Whenever I look at our local MVPs, though, I keep thinking both should be in the
movies. I see Schilling in a comedy, playing John Goodman's younger brother. Even
in the tense moments of a World Series Game 7, his mouth looks like it's used to
curving in humor. The rangier, more withdrawn Johnson always reminds me of Zane
Gray's lean cowboy heroes -- I imagine him as the hero's stern and silent
sidekick, the guy who'll watch your back in a brawl or shoot a rattlesnake (OK,
not a diamondbacked one) before you see it. And he'd probably die, heroically,
saving a girl who loved someone else, before the end of the movie.

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

November 02, 2001

What's a bearfoot beau?

We have *got* to stop turning off the baseball game to get to sleep on time. Last
night was the second in a row that we went to bed with the Diamondbacks in the
lead, only to find out they'd brought in Kim as cleanup pitcher and lost the game.
I am beginning to not like him very much.

I'm also getting a little annoyed with the Yankees' blatant bid for sympathy. To
my thinking, "People died in our city so we morally deserve to win the World
Series," is not a valid syllogism.

This morning, I admit to being a complete bum. I skipped rowing and got to sleep
all the way to 5 AM. But there are extenuating circumstances: I got up, put in my
contact lenses, got dressed, and realized my gut was slightly upset. (Details
withheld as a public service.) It wasn't that bad and I was about to head out
anyway, until I realized there was no point. Because I'm not in the boat for the
next big race, I would only have rowed half a practice anyway, or taken out my
single. I did a 45 minute erg piece yesterday (are you impressed? you should be)
and besides, there was a warm, sleeping, barely-dressed man right upstairs I could
be lying next to. The boys rowed a little yesterday and put the boat on top of the
truck to save time today, so that Rudder could get to work earlier and, with luck,
leave earlier. Therefore, Rudder was actually sleeping in, for once. At that
point, common sense kicked in and I went back to bed. And enjoyed it, though I
only got back to sleep right before the alarm went off.

Got an interesting phone call yesterday. The woman who interviewed me about online
diaries a few weeks ago wants to send a photographer out next week to take
pictures of me doing some of the things I write about -- rowing, shopping for
beads, going out for a drink. The rowing program, the bead store, and the bar
won't mind the free publicity, though I did check with three I'm most likely to go
out drinking with to be sure they don't mind. But this will necessarily publicize
this site to the rowers and coaches. I may need to write only nice things about
them for a week or so. :-)

There's not much reason to complain about the coaches now, anyway. Yesterday, I
sent out a note to all the women in the lightweight four, telling them I would be
dropping out of the program. Leaving that boat is my only real regret about the
change -- I will still be rowing, just in my single or with the other local club.
There is a dim possibility that we may revive the four under the auspices of the
other club, though I don't know how likely it is. Rudder and T2 are also likely
to leave, and possibly Egret and others. If that happens, perhaps the city will
notice and finally do something about DI. Or perhaps not.

That was rowing, now to books. I am reading Barbara Michaels' A Stitch in
. All I keep thinking is, "I bet href="">Caerula loves this book." She's both a
quilter and a Michaels fan, so that doesn't take any extraordinary insight. Before
that, I read a couple of Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy books -- two of the high
school ones. I've always sort of liked the concept, where the series goes from
books for and about little girls to books for and about high-schoolers. The two I
read are set in about 1908-09, and it's funny, but some of the references are to
things I've known all my life, like some of the songs:

School days, school days, dear old golden rule days,

Reading and writing and 'rithmetic, learned to the tune of a hick'ry stick.

You were my queen in calico, I was your bashful barefoot beau

You rode on my sleigh and I loved you so, when we were a couple of kids.

My grandparents, born around when Betsy was in school, used to sing that with me.
(I always thought it was "bashful bearfoot beau".) Some of the references were to
things I've only recently encountered, as when Betsy's little sister Margaret
receives a copy of Mary Ware, the Little Colonel's Friend. And there were a
few implements mentioned that I didn't recognize at all, and don't remember now.

The mores were also interesting -- the gradual switch form horses to cars, the
rules by which a good girl wouldn't even hold hands with a boy, the friendly
attitude toward Germans on the eve of WWI. That last is especially interesting in
books first published around 1946. It looks deliberate -- Tib Muller, who had
moved away, invites Betsy for a visit to the very German Milwaukee, and then moves
back into town. Was Lovelace working toward a reconciliation, or just lamenting an
easier time?

Posted by dichroic at 06:07 AM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2001

a whole day ahead

Ahhhh, sloth. This morning I skipped the gym, slept in, and ate actual breakfast
food for breakfast. (Well, ok, it was instant oatmeal. Close enough.) I'm still
wearing a bathrobe, at a time when, if I were working, I would be there already.
Later on, I keep telling myself, I will do 5000m on the erg. That may even be

I have no plans for the day, because yesterday I was so
reckless as to do my librarying and grocery shopping on the same day. Even more
recklessly, I did all this after I had lunch with my old friend Homer and his wife
(Marge? But that doesn't really fit her. Hmmm. I'd change his name to Jimbert --
he sometimes signs emails that way -- so then she, another engineer, could be
Alice, but he occasionally calls me Alice, so that would be too weird.) We ate at
a newly-opened local brewpub, part of a chain, that has a huge menu and even huger
portions. I had a beer with lunch on the principle that it would be immoral not
to, since I don't have to go back to work and so for once I can indulge without

Normally, I spread my errands out so that I have at least one
thing planned to get me out of the house each day. Today, I may be reduced to
going out on purpose only to gas up my truck. I love my truck; it's a little red
four-wheel-drive Toyota pickup that handles beautifully off-road and had good
manners in traffic. However, I don't quite love it enough to make feeding it the
high point of my day. I suppose I will have to either visit a bead store -- I have
a new idea for the charm bracelet I want to make for my mother's birthday -- or
searching for a belt clip for my cell phone. Or both.

Or I could lay
on the couch, read and embroider all day. Or not -- too boring. I won't pack for
this weekend's trip, because I'll have plenty of time for that tomorrow. Or I
could be a very good girl and work on the book project I've neglected for a month,
or ask the local stores to sell my beadwork, or....something.... I'll probably end
up somewhere between the extremes of industry and sloth.

But there's
a whole day ahead of me, and you never know.

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