My older cat is getting more crotchety and less observant by the day (much like
me, I suppose). This morning he was preceding me to the kitchen when I remembered,
turned around, and put down my finished yogurt container for him (he loooves
yogurt). I had to get his attention and actually point to the container before he
noticed it. And if you're wondering, I don't think he's harmed by the amount of
leavings he can lick off the sides before the container gets too small to get his
head in. He and I have a continuing battle over the comfy chair; he sneaks into it
as soon as I get up, and gives me dirty looks, lying on the rug, after I kick him
out of it when I want to sit down. (This all amuses Rudder intensely.) The other
day we tried sharing it, with him sitting on my lap, but he was annoyed when I
wanted to get up and the results were bad for my sweater. He has not mastered the
art, like the other cat, of sitting on the back of the chair right under the
reading light we refer to as the kitty heat lamp.
The other cat, when
not on the back of the easy chair, likes to prowl around while I'm on the
computer, as he is doing at this moment. He butts his head against my elbow while
I type. Sometimes he sits on the mouse -- whoever named it that should be censured
for giving ideas to cats. Then he sits on my lap, or meows at me if he doesn't
think I've arranged it (the lap) in proper configuration for feline comfort, gets
up, walks around my laptop, scratches his head on the side of the screen, and gets
back onto my lap. He has no idea why I should find all of this inconvenient. At
least he doesn't help me type like some cats I've heard of. On the other hand, he
is extremely timid, and will run away when he hears a sudden noise, often to the
detriment of my lap. Both cats have their claws.
The cats' official
names are Beast and Coxswain, but we generally refer to them as the big cat and
the little cat, respectively. This goes back to the early days of my acquaintance
with the big one, just about 13 years ago (we celebrate our birthdays on the same
day, March 10, though the date is approximate in his case), before Rudder came
into our lives. There were only the two of us in the apartment, and so I never
used his name -- you usually don't, when talking to the only other one present. He
was only addressed as "you", and he knew whom I was speaking to. Sometimes I
yelled, "Cat!" to get his attention, or when he'd created havoc. When the second
cat moved in, it seemed unnatural to call him by his name when I didn't do that
for the other one. They both now answer indiscriminately to "Cat!", "Munchkin,"
"Doofus," "Sweetie," or "Peabrain," depending on circumstance. Luckily for Rudder,
he had a well-established name when I met him -- though he gets many of the same
nicknames (I usually spare him "Cat!" or "Peabrain").
be leaving the felines to their own devices while we head off to Korea. T2 and
Egret will be caring for them, and his they have two of their own, I'm sure
they'll taking the usual hissing (older cat) or hiding (younger cat) in
I may not update much for the next couple of weeks, though I
will if I can.
I found one thing I like better about rowing with the city rather than rowing with
the club: the weather policy. It was windy enough this morning that the wind
sensors at the lake were going off. The city people were all leaving as I got
there; T2 and Rudder were long gone. We rowed. We did row in eights rather than
singles or doubles, so it wasn't really unsafe, just a bit unpleasant, and it did
calm down toward the end. Then it started raining as we got off the water and
carried the boats up.
At least the rain held off that long; they
were predicting heavy rain and snow down to the 2000' level, which would bring it
to the mountains within the city. At any rate, it is definitely a hot shower-hot
cocoa-hot oatmeal sort of day.
Between that and packing, I don't
think I'll go out at all until it clears up this afternoon. (Not that I trust our
weather forecasters, but this is Arizona. It very, very rarely stays rainy for
more than a couple of hours.)
I may not do anything else more useful
than to figure out which shoes to take.
If not for the fact that I try to moderate my language around juniors, I would say
that the word that best describes yesterday's practice is "clusterfuck". Not the
kids' fault -- they were mostly great.
Yesterday, we had a coxed quad
of experienced rowers (one hadn't sculled (two oars each) before, but it's not all
that different) and a four of less experienced ones -- about intermediate level.
Entrenador and I, one extra cox, and one kid who needed to take pictures for a
class were in the launch. Here's the lake:
runs mostly east-west -- southeast is up in the picture. We were halfway between
the bridges, near the south shore, with the launch and the four and a strong
breeze from the southwest, when the launch died. We tried and tried and couldn't
restart it. In defiance of safety rules, we couldn't find a paddle on the boat.
Fortunately, the wind pushed us over to an area where we could tie the boat off. I
remembered that the other launch had just been returned to the lake, after an
extended period of maintenance. We tried to raise the quad on our radios, but as
usual they weren't working well, so we got the four to come over to us, and I
swapped places with the cox. We took the four in to the beach; I hadn't realized
until I got to ride with them just how bad the set in that boat was. Really, it
was par for the course for intermediates, but juniors only have a novice and a
varsity class, so they get thrown into varsity while they're really still
We finally got to the beach. I took the stroke rower (the
least chattery of the bunch) with me and begged a couple of the club rowers I knew
who were there to help the other girls get the boat on slings and out of the way
of any other boats landing. (They came through and took it all the way to the
boatyard. Good people.)
Meanwhile, the stroke rower and I walked over
to the other launch. By this time, the people on the launch were on the radio,
asking over and over where the other launch was. We tried to reassure them, but
our was low on batteries and they couldn't hear us. We untied one of the boat's
ropes, and I started the engine. I eased the choke down partway and everything
sounded fine, so I got the rower to untie the other rope and jump on. I lowered
the choke and shifted quickly into forward .... and the boat died. Arrrggghh. We
tried again, quite a few times, and for the first several, it died as soon and I
lowered the choke. After that it wouldn't start at all. Unfortunately, we were on
the north shore this time, so did not drift back to the dock. Instead we drifted
slowly west, toward the beach.
By this time, the quad had figured out
what was happening and had come in to the beach. Entrenador must have swapped into
it, because I saw him there. We jumped up and down and shouted a lot, and finally
someone figured out that we were drifting. One of the rowers who was in that boat
has a tendency to take charge; so far, though, he's managed to do so mostly at
times when it's helpful rather than annoying. He's one of our strongest rowers,
and has rowed a single a lot lately. He jumped into a club single that was sitting
there, came over, and towed the lunch to the dock - no small feat, in a single.
Fortunately, it was only a matter of five meters or so.
So at this
point, everyone was on shore safely except for the original aberrant launch and
four people on it. We were able to talk to the marooned people on the radio the
quad's cox had had. Somehow, they'd managed to get loose from the wall and were
drifting. (Silly kids. This is why I said they were "mostly" great.) Unknown
Legend was around and called the park rangers, who are supposed to do rescues, but
apparently they were in their shift change and had no coverage for a half hour.
(Scheduling apparently courtesy of Incompetency Ltd.) Thank goodness no one was
drowning. The quad went out to try to tow the launch -- a few people had had to
leave, so they had fairly inexperienced people in the cox and stroke seats. By
this point the launch was back by a wall and some cops came over; however, instead
of rescuing the kids, they just yelled at them. Very helpful, Tempe's Finest.
Unknown Legend tried to talk to the cops on radio, but by that time the quad was
there (this all seemed a lot slower at the time). The quad was able to tow the
launch, very slowly. I ran down toward them, but was on the opposite side of the
lake. By dint of much waving and yelling and jumping up and down like an idiot (I
was an idiot, not having brought the radio) I got them to come over to me, instead
of trying to take the boat all the way to its proper dock, west of the westernmost
We got the launch in to the dock there, and all the kids
headed off. Just as I was tying the boat up, Queue came roaring up. In the second
launch I'd been unable to start. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. She said, "It started on the
first try." Stupid boat. Possibly the carburetor was flooded, but I had tried
letting it sit a few minutes just in case. I hate when that happens. Queue,
who is also an engineer and therefore knows that machines can have their own
minds, was sympathetic, as was Unknown Legend, but it's still embarrassing. Stupid
boat. Stupid, stupid boats. We towed the nonworking launch in, and I finally got
Rudder was still out at work by that time -- 6:45, and he'd
gotten to work at 7:30. This was good, in a way, because it meant he hadn't eaten,
so I was able to persuade him that we both required Beer for the good of our
souls. He finally got home at 7:30 or so, and we headed out to our local. Ahh,
Beer. Is there anything it can't do?*
*Yes, psychic trauma turns me
into Homer sometimes.
Dr. Bosun and I rowed singles this morning -- it was a much better row that
Friday's in the quad, and I really felt like I was both making progress on my form
issues and getting a workout.
With all this rowing and weightlifting,
though, I'm really starting to feel a bit sore all over, more or less permanently.
Last night, I tried taking a hot bath to see if that would help. It did, a bit.
What I'm really looking forward to, though, is the hot tub in the hotel in Korea.
I always forget my damn bathing suit and can't use them, so at the moment I have a
suitcase out on my bedroom floor with nothing in it but the swimsuit. Just so I
My mother asked last night whether I had packed yet. I
pointed out that not everyone plans outfits for every day of a trip and packs two
weeks in advance. After all, I figure the actual packing will take approximately
20 minutes and I'd rather wait until close to the trip so I can have all my
underwear washed and not be needing to wear it before I go. Mom also told us to
have a "very safe" (as opposed to "good" or "fun") trip, which is
I had a very funny and somewhat raunchy story I wanted
to tell here, but of course I have entirely forgotten it now. Drat.
do have further advance prep for the trip -- buying film, doing laundry, and, most
of all, cleaning house before the friends who are catsitting see it. I actually
mopped all the downstairs floors yesterday, which is a fairly large undertaking
when you have to dust, sweep, and move out all the furniture beforehand.
Considering the mop water turned black enough that I had to empty and refill it
between doing the kitchen and the family room, I should probably do it a bit more
If I remember the raunchy story, I'll post it up later. Ciao.
I said that the speakers in the book I'm reading were on fire with new ideas.
Here, for a sampling, are some of the things they got me thinking -- either ideas
that shocked me or natural conclusions of what I read.
Okay, enough ranting for one
I'm reading a book by Studs Terkel, Coming of Age: A Story of Our Century, by
Those Who Lived it. Terkel must have had a hell of a good time putting it
together. It's a collection of people's stories of their own lives, and all the
people in it range from 70-99 years old. I think my head may explode -- these
people are on fire and they have so many ideas. It's notable that the only
people who aren't still completely alive, still working and fighting and living,
are the ones who were powerful businessmen, with executive offices. They're a bit
adrift. The rest were or are lawyers, labor organizers, stockbrokers, teachers,
doctors, salesmen, PR types and they are without exception fighters. (Even the
conscientious objectors and the pacifists -- they do their fighting in a different
They're not thinking we're all going to hell in a handbasket,
or that all technology is evil, but they do see changes that make them sad. To
synthesize a lot of individual views, the changes that bother them most are those
away from community, from human contact, and from pride in workmanship. These are
all people who had found their Proper Jobs, and in many cases are still doing
them, and who have seen their causes shrink or grow or mutate. One thing usually
missing in people my age and younger is a sense of history, and these people have
it by definition.
The most intense stories were those of the labor
organizers from the 1930s, the ones who got the UAW accepted by General Motors,
back when the UAW meant something, and they saw a groundswell of ordinary people
who got real changes made. They saw people who treated each other like family, who
would sacrifice their own comfort to provide food for each other's children, who
lived up to what they said they believed. It's obvious that the people who lived
through that had something seared into their soul that has never faded, and they
need to pass it on.
These people are not stagnant -- the old labor
organizers know very well that the unions these days are full of people in fancy
offices who are as much concerned with their own power as the managers they fight.
The old political idealists know Communism as practiced by the Soviet Union was
not the utopia the early followers of Marx dreamed of. The old TV producers know
money rules that industry. But there are still Quakers living in houses they built
on produce they grow, actresses still teaching high theater, philanthropists still
giving, and all of them still passing the torch to anyone who will carry it on.
I find that my own ideas tend to vary a lot, with whatever I'm
reading. I hope this book doesn't ever wear off.
Saturday, and my husband is about to head off for 5 hours at work. It's almost
enough to make me appreciate unemployment. Actually, though, he hasn't had to go
in on a weekend for awhile; today's stint is part of getting ready for the
presentation he has to do in Korea, which is apparently a fairly big deal. He'll
be explaining a very complex concept to people who know the field but whose
English may be questionable -- I think 'challenging' is a fair description. And
no, I am not being the sort of horrible person who goes to another country and
expects everyone there to speak my language; as it happens, English is the
official language for this conference.
Meanwhile, I need to spend my
day preparing for the visit in other ways. I should start cleaning the house,
before the friends who are cat-sitting see its normal state, and I need to look up
both the local currency exchange rate and current conversion, so we can buy a
converter for Rudder's laptop.
I also need to figure out what
presents to take for the kids of the cousins we'll be seeing. The 1.5 year-old
should be easy enough, but buying for the two girls, 6 and 4, will be a little
more challenging. I don't want to buy toy makeup kits. I don't want to buy
Barbies, even though I don't have particularly strong feelings against them
(except when they say, "Math is hard!"). Last time I bought the older one a href="http://www.getrealgirl.com/">Get Real Girl and the younger one a href="http://www.groovygirls.com/mt.htm">Groovy Girl, so I think I'll avoid
dolls for the moment. I hear the older one is into American Girls now, but those
are a bit out of my price range. Maybe I'll buy some of the cool beading or other
art kits one local toy store has, but I should avoid anything the youngest can
choke on. Or there's always books, which have the advantage of not taking much
room in a suitcase.
I did a slightly bad thing today. I rowed with Egret, She-Hulk and Queue (that is,
with the city group instead of the club where I'm supposed to be). But, you know,
they asked me to. And if I hadn't, they'd have been condemned to riding the
launch and switching in, only getting half a practice, and freezing their asses
off the other half. Also, their practice starts and ends earlier, and I've got a
lot to do today. The irony of it all is that I got more coaching from Yosemite Sam
today than I got in the last three months I rowed with him. The even more ironic
part was that he started off by telling me I had improved since leaving his
program. I bit my tongue and did NOT say, "Yes, and that's because I'm finally
getting some fucking coaching, which is why I left you in the first place!"
I suppose I should email apologies to AussiCoach -- at least my
absence didn't keep any of the club people from rowing, as they have smaller boats
(doubles and singles) available.
Anyway, I wasn't nearly as bad as
Rudder and T2, who didn't row at all. They left and went back home for reasons I
don't fully understand. T2 apparently wasn't feeling well, but I still don't see
why that kept Rudder from rowing. Wuss.
Time to go now, as I have
the caramel custard for pots-au-creme* chilling in the fridge. T2 and Egret have
invited us to dinner and I have to get these made before I get on with the hair-
cutting and juniors-coaching parts of my day.
For those who care
about that sort of thing, the recipe is from the Stars! dessert cookbook and is
both easy and very, very, tasty. And probably terrible for the arteries.
How can a good God allow evil?
The question is so often asked
Now that we have such enormities in our recent past.
Maybe HeÕs just a prime mover
Maybe HeÕs not there at all
Maybe heÕs gotten disgusted and sits staring at a wall
Or maybe he canÕt make a difference
Maybe heÕs just ineffectual
If so, you may be disillusioned if he fails to resurrect you all.
But I – I believe in free will
I think we can chose our own way
And so I think we can blame only ourselves, at the end of the day
Ourselves and each other, if we are called to account at the end of the day.
copyright pkb, 2002
I admit it: Satan tempted me to do it. In this case, he was masquerading as that
rhyme in the third verse.
How can a good God allow evil?
The question is so often asked
Now that we have such enormities in our recent past.
Maybe He’s just a prime mover
Maybe He’s not there at all
Maybe he’s gotten disgusted and sits staring at a wall
Or maybe he can’t make a difference
Maybe he’s just ineffectual
If so, you may be disillusioned if he fails to resurrect you all.
But I – I believe in free will
I think we can chose our own way
And so I think we can blame only ourselves, at the end of the day
Ourselves and each other, if we are called to account at the end of the day.
copyright pkb, 2002
I admit it: Satan tempted me to do it. In this case, he was masquerading as that rhyme in the third verse.
Juniors rowing practice yesterday was actually kind of fun -- I didn't get
crotchety even once. It was fairly windy out, so they didn't actually row, but the
new coach had some good ideas for land-based practice. (I'm calling him
Entrenador, Spanish for "coach".) First, the kid who's helping us out because he's
been assigned some large number of hours of community service (I haven't asked
what he did to deserve it) showed up with a new look. Very 40s -- derby hat, baggy
pants, white T-shirt, gray pinstriped vest, loose suit jacket, tie hanging down
from his neck. All he needed was a long chain to have a zoot suit thing going.
Instead, just to show it's not really 1942, he had a studded belt hanging low
around his hips, more studs on the jacket lapels, and several patches on the
jacket -- "Punk Lives", the anarchy symbol and so on. I'm not sure he appreciated
it when I told him the whole outfit looked like the retro stuff we sometimes wore
in the 1980s.
Entrenador had the kids run 20 minutes, instead of the
6 minutes they usually do as a warm-up for rowing. Meanwhile, we dragged the three
ergs out into the sun where it was a little warmer. Zoot Suit Riot and one of the
coxes weren't running, so they started messing around on the erg. ZSR, who's only
about 5'8" or 9" and wiry, was pulling some impressively low times, but the cox
wasn't, so I challenged him to race me for 500m. I was wearing jeans, which didn't
especially help, since I couldn't get full compression, but I was fairly happy
with my time -- when I entered it on the Concept II ranking site, it turned out to
be my first time in the top 50% of lightweight women, for any distance I've
entered. Yay me. I spent the rest of practice trying not to cough up a lung
though. The cox did beat me -- he's a competitive kid, so I think the challenge
lit a fire under him. He is 5" taller than I am, though about 8 lbs lighter, a
combination which derives from being only 14. ZSR, meanwhile, had taken off his
jacket to erg and shaken out his hair from under the hat (apparently he's given up
on dreadlocks, which were last week's look). With the hat on, longish red hair
hanging out, and vest unbuttoned, he looked like the Bad Boy character from a film
set in the 1940s -- Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It or Sean Penn in
Racing With the Moon. It's a good look for him -- now all he needs are some
15-year-old girls who are movie buffs.
After the rest of the kids got
back from running, Entrenador did something I thought worked very well. He divided
them up into three teams of five each, set the ergs to count down 2500 meters, and
had the kids do a relay race. Each one had to row 500m, run about 500 yards to
where the rest of the team was waiting, and tag the next person to row. I think
they enjoyed it (at least I did). It kept them interested and let them see where
some of their skills are weak. Only a few of the bigger and more experienced girls
beat my erg time, I was glad to note. After that, he worked with them on their
form on the erg, where it's much easier to make small corrections than when you're
yelling across 5 meters of water from a coaching launch.
For once, we
skipped the gym this morning. I think I got almost 10 hours of sleep, but my lungs
still feel a bit shredded. Maybe I'll go try to nap more. I'm still tired, and I
don't have to do anything much until noon.
I know sex and death are two of the most common themes in poetry, but does anyone else see a really amusing amount of correspondence here, or is it just me?
(may i touch said he
(let's go said he
may i stay said he
may i move said he
but it's life said he
(tiptop said he
e.e.cummings, "may I feel said he"
And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
Though it's cold and lonely in the deep dark night
C'mon! Hold on tight!
We're gonna go all the way tonight
He's rounding first and really turning it on
Batter steps up to the plate, here's the pitch--
He's taking a pretty big lead out there, almost
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever!!!
III. Praying for the End of Time
Meatloaf, excerpted from "Paradise by the Dashboard Light"
Well, maybe it's not as close a correspondence as I thought; I first read the
cummings line, "But your wife" as "But I want to be your wife", and now I realize it's more probably meant to be, "But what about your wife?" Despite that, though, the cummings poem somehow sounds to me like adolescent sex, as much as the Meatloaf song. I don't think cummings can be meaning to say that all sex is adolescent, since it took him three tries (so presumably some maturity) to get marriage right. And then he did -- and there's nothing like a happy marriage to convince you that all good sex doesn't have to be in the adolescent model.
It's always startling to realize how frankly sexual so much of e.e. cummings' work is, once you get past the few poems most commonly anthologized. (Was the other meaning of his own name an influence?) I suppose it shows his genius that he evokes the mood with such allusory brushwork, though I don't think the comparison is all to Meatloaf's discredit either. (The baseball announcer part makes me laugh every time.)
I've been reading Poetry Speaks; the central conceit of the book is the
included CDS with poets reading their own work. They go back as early as possible, with Alfred Lord Tennyson as an old man recording onto Mr. Edison's new wax cylinders, and coming up to Sylvia Plath (all included poets are dead). The accompanying book has a short bio of each poet, an essay on their work by a living poet, and several selections. To the credit of the editors, they've included poets whose names I hadn't heard, though I've seen their work, as well as works I'd never seen from Big Names (like the one above). I'm finding that having a few poems broken up by essays and listening to the CD is prompting me to analyze each one with more attention, instead of the glaze my eyes get when confronted with page after page of Erato's and Polyhymnia's tributes.
I finally had that phone interview yesterday -- the told me that by the time they
get through their formal interview process (the main interviewer is going out of
the country for two weeks), it will probably be mid-March before they have anyone
actually starting work. I thought parts of the interview went well, but they did
ask some questions I didn't know how to answer -- highly technical embedded-
software stuff. The good news is that they're filling four slots, and that they
don't mind if I have to reapply for a clearance. (I was worried because the end of
February will be two years since my last security clearance was turned off, and
after that, it can't be turned back on without reapplying.) The fact that having
me start sooner would save the company a good amount of money and paperwork is
less important than following process, which is actually one of my concerns about
The Korea trip is shaping up nicely. For the bulk of the
time, we'll be in Seoul, staying at (wait for it) the Ritz-Carlton. Rudder's
company does treat its people well, but I think this has more to do with the fact
that a Ritz in Seoul costs about the same as a Holiday Inn here. This would all be
more poetically apt if Rudder had ever made me one of those "Stick with me, kid,
and I'll take you to the Ritz," sort of speeches. Apparently the end of our visit
will run into the local New Year's celebrations, which should be very interesting
but may shut the city down. We'll be staying with cousins at that point, though,
which should make it easier to participate or not, as we want. (That reminds me: I
need to buy film. Lots of film.)
I do have one thing to look forward
to today: a visit to CoolSalonGuy, which is always fun. I'm always glad to have a
major trip or event to tell him about, to maintain my reputation as being
certifiable. And I can ask him for an opinion on that other major question I've
been mulling over. Should I get my navel pierced?
Thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr., I get to go rowing two hours later today. The
sun will even be up for most of practice. I got to sleep until a time when I would
normally be off the water.
Despite all this, though, that's not the
main thing for which I am grateful to Reverend King. I have a personal pantheon of
"saints", people who have spent their lives trying to do good in the world and who
actually have succeeded. (It's that second condition that makes the list so
Pete Seeger is on the list -- a man who's spent his life
singing about social justice, marching for justice, working for justice and a
cleaner planet. Pete doesn't hedge about his real goal: "If music could only save
the world, then I'd only be a musician." He's getting old and feeble and I don't
think he'll manage to save the world before he dies, but he leaves a large group
of people who have been touched or had their lives change by his message, a Hudson
River much cleaner than he found it, and better race relations around the world.
(Of course, we've now more or less switched to fighting over ethnicity instead of
race. I said he was a saint, not a Messiah.)
Jimmy Carter is on the
list. I believe it was worth living through his presidency in order to have his
time as ex-President -- the Carter Center, Habitat for Humanity, the trips as
peace mediator to the Middle East (where they're still fighting but at least now
sometimes they're talking). Even more unusual, Carter provides an example of a man
who lives by his creed. I don't believe in his creed, but that's not the point.
I think John Henry Faulk, proponent of the First Amendment (yes, he
was also in Hee-Haw) would be in the pantheon if I knew more about him. Much as I
admire Ben Franklin, I don't see him in the same light, possibly because I just
tend to think There Were Giants in That Time. Or John Muir -- most of his great
accomplishments stemmed from living the life he enjoyed.
Martin Luther King has a firm place in the pantheon, and serves as proof that
history can be changed by individuals. There is no doubt that the civil
rights movement would have been born without him; it had already started before he
got involved. But would it have gone as long without violence as it did? I doubt
it. Would it have shown such an example of peaceful organization as the Bus
Boycott without his charisma? I doubt it. Without King, it might have taken longer
for a critical mass of people of all races to realize how wrong the situation in
the South was. I know we still have far to go. The US is far from an ideal society
even yet. But now prejudice is seen by almost everyone as a shameful thing; even
people showing it have to reach for some other explanation. The question that is
debated is not whether all people deserve equal access to law, education,
opportunity, but how to get it to them. How to achieve fairness for all. And
that's a huge step,, and Dr. King was a huge part of it. His speeches were not
only eloquent but prescient -- the one before his death was chilling.
Go celebrate his day by reading
what he had to say.
I've got another alumni interview today. The last one started out a bit scary,
when she told me two of her favorite books were The Red and the Black and
War and Peace. I don't think she was just saying that to impress me -- once
I stopped to think about it, I remembered having far more time and patience for
Great Books at her stage of life, and at least as much mental capacity as I have
now. There were a few books I didn't have the life experience to read; I love Jane
Austen now but couldn't read her at all until I was well into my 20s, and I expect
that will be happening throughout my life. On the other hand, she also mentioned
Catcher in the Rye as a favorite, and I think that one is the opposite: a
book that is most appreciated by someone still in a rebellious teenage phase, that
starts to seem overdone in later life. I suppose that shows how well Salinger
remembered his own adolescence, though I do think it takes more literary skill to
make a book that has different appeals to people of different ages.
Anyway, further probing of the last interviewee showed that most of
her interests and activities stem from a curiosity about how people act and think
and react, and how that's affected by their cultures. She wants to learn more
about the differences, and to go to a college that has a diverse body of students
and communities. She and Penn will love each other. It should be interesting to
see how this next interviewee, a budding engineer, is
Other than that, there's not much going on here this
weekend, except more planning for Korea, and appreciating both time spent with
Rudder and just having more time, period. Rowing and gym and coaching eat
unpleasantly into my weekdays. Being unemployed should be compensated by at least
the ability to oversleep occasionally, and a feeling of more free time. Last week
actually felt overbooked. I don't know if the transition back to work will be
difficult because of that, or a relief. Being paid enough to get the cleaning
service back would definitely help with the latter.
"Happiness consists of getting enough sleep."
Robert Heinlein said
that -- I think it's somewhere in Starship Troopers. my vehicles tend more to cars
and boats and tiny airplanes, sadly, but I agree with
Incidentally, if there is one great disappointment in my life,
it would be exactly that -- not lack of sleep, but not getting to ride in a
spaceship. I could blame Congress for its lack of interest in the space program,
but I honestly think that the exploration of space will never go beyond short hops
in our own terrestrial neighborhood until private interests take up the
exploration of space in competition with government. Though then again, the
greatest explorations of the past -- Columbus, Magellan, and all the
conquistadores -- were done under the auspices of government. It was only after
that that private businesses and organizations settled in to colonize and profit
form the resources discovered.
As a child and teenager, hearing about
trips to the Moon and reading fantasy and science fiction, I thought that by the
time I was grown up I would be able to go, at least to the Moon, if not farther. I
would never have envisioned the stalling and timidity of our tentative probes into
space that leave us content with a sluggish move toward a tiny space station in
orbit about the Earth. In the entire history of humanity, exploration has
always paid for itself with glorious bounty, in knowledge as well as
concrete riches, though it hasn't always paid in exactly the ways expected. Even
NASA's tentative baby steps have brought enormous progress; the laptop computer
I'm typing on, all 7 pounds of it, would not have been possible without the space
program. Neither would many if not most of the medical advances of the last fifty
years; some of the people I use this computer to email to would be dead without
the space program's payoffs.
Also, I believe that most of the things
wrong with my country are because it grew around the concept of a frontier, and we
have none today. There are always people whose restless energy leaves them
unsuited to a rigorous civilization, and many of those have had brilliant careers
when they had somewhere else to go. The same sort of people do well in wars --
General Patton is an example -- but a frontier uses the same talents without the
hatred. The ones Robert Service called the href="http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Bluffs/8336/robertservice/son.html">Young
er Sons need somewhere to go. The ones who need to seek glory -- they need
somewhere better than street gangs to find it. The ones who want to seek wealth
without spoiling the Earth -- there are asteroids out there with no endangered
species. The ones who just want to Do, and Go, and See are not being served by our
governments or our crowded streets or our cautious congresses and
To be an astronaut, you must be a perfect physical
specimen with a Ph.D. or military rank, with few exceptions. When will the rest of
use get to see our planet dimming the stars with her reflected light, against the
blackest field of empty space?
And just to bring this full-circle,
back to bed, I should also mention zero-G sex, where you finally get to use
Brrrrr. So cold. So very cold. At rowing practice this morning the temperature
must have been well down into the 30s, which when your blood is thinned to Arizona
level is very very damn cold, ya, you betcha. I took a hot shower right away
instead of after reading email as usual, and I'm drinking hot tea and eating
oatmeal, but my hands are still stiff and a little numb. Brr brrr brrrr brrrr
brrrrrr! (Yes, it gets much colder most places. In most of those places, people
don't row all winter.)
It was so cold it apparently affected my brain
cells and I couldn't remember AussieCoach's name all morning. Not that it matters,
since I didn't have to talk to him much and since, anyway, you almost never do use
someone's name while talking directly to them. Still, it was a bit disorienting,
though not as bad as the first time I woke up next to my on-again-off-again-for-
five-years college boyfriend, whom I had already known for almost a year at that
point, and couldn't remember his name. In that case I blame the aftereffects of an
odd and vivid dream. I have been dreaming a lot lately, but I think cold and
stress and incipient senility have more to do with this one.
cat's just jumped onto my lap, purring and radiating a little bit of heat. The
latter makes him more welcome than usual when I'm trying to type. What I really
need is to convince one cat to sit on my lap and the other to curl around my
The latest career perplexity is that yesterday I spoke to a
career counselor. I feel I could really use someone to suggest other fields my
skills and personality might fit into, and other avenues in which to look for
jobs. On the other hand, the word "fee" set off all my scam-detectors. This is a
firm that's been around for quite a while, and seems solid, but I just don't know.
They did a personality test (Myers-Briggs, and I'm an ENTP, but I knew that
already) and promised counseling on my resume and interview skills and on direct
targeting to employers. On the other hand, I've had people look at my resume, I
think my interview skills are OK though not stellar, and the reason I haven't done
more targeted marketing is mostly that I really don't know exactly what I
want to do next. Maybe I just answered my own question. I asked Yosemite Sam about
the counseling firm this morning (he's been a recruiter and is now in HR), and he
told me they're a crock, and that I wouldn't get anything useful from them. He
also kindly offered to look at my resume himself. I'm not sure what to do next,
but I do know not to disdain free help. (After all, advice can always be accepted,
adapted, or rejected as necessary.)
Yesterday was the weirdest day. I got turned down for the job I
href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/noidea.html">interviewed for. Sample
quote: "We really liked you, but someone else had just a little more experience."
Then she kindly passed my name on to another person at the same company, who
called to ask for a resume. I don't know whether they lack internal email and
copier machines or if this is just to let me know I'm being considered again. This
is even odder when you consider that this is a company that recently announced
9000 upcoming layoffs. I sent the resume, but have lower hopes, as I don't think
any of the jobs this other person is trying to fill fit me as well as the first
After that, I got a call from the company I once worked for, who
told me they wanted to schedule a phone interview way back in early November. The
person who called left me a message with a different person's phone number
(because the first person is in the middle of an office move) but didn't actually
tell me it was another person's number, so I thought sheÕd made a mistake. We
finally got that straightened out, so I have the phone interview on Monday. They
said they want to get the whole hiring thing done by the end of the month (which
is also what they said in November).
Anyway, at least I'm seeing
action and interviews, a vast improvement on the last few months. If I believed in
omens, I'd think Someone was trying to tell me something. I've run into three
former coworkers, people I hadn't seen since they or I left the relevant company,
in the last two weeks. One, a former manager at my last company, was walking
around the office when I was signing in for the interview last week. One, a
sysadmin from my very first job in Arizona, was sitting outside a restaurant when
I went out to meet T2 and Egret last week -- I hadn't seen her since mid-1997. The
third, who worked in my group at the last place, was my gym this morning. He says
he's belonged there for a year, but he must have been going at a different time
until recently. I thought I saw him the other day but wasn't sure. If I get past
Monday's phone interview, I'll see several more, since I know these people from
when I worked there before.
To complete yesterday's surrealism was
coaching the juniors in the afternoon. The new head coach had to leave early (one
reason they asked me to assist for a couple weeks) so I got to do the wrap-up
speech afterwards on my own. I told them they were much better than Monday, and
mentioned several things they had to work on. I finished talking, let someone else
say a few things, and said, "Well, that's about it." And they just stood there. So
I told them again they'd improved a lot and had a lot of potential, and said,
"That's all I've got". And they just stood there. I went over to talk to Hardcore
who was there helping the club with their juniors, finished talking, and they were
still standing there chatting! None of which would be a problem, but
they're juniors, and I wasn't sure I should leave while they were still there.
Next time, I'm giving up on them -- as soon as I make sure they've all got rides
home, I'm leaving. They're rather like puppies sometimes; it would be cute if I
weren't such a curmudgeon. And today I get to meet another one, because I'm doing
my first alumni interview of a college applicant. At least I don't have to do
anything but draw this one out and report on her.
I just found this
quote, about the succession of a new American President: "They are so tired to
death of intellectual charlatanry, they turn to honest imbecility." A perfect
explanation of GW Bush's election, except for two things. I'm not all that sure
he's all that honest. And the quote was from H.L. Mencken, talking about Warren G.
Harding succeeding Woodrow Wilson. It's from a book on Presidential humor by Bob
Dole, who turns out to be a better raconteur than campaigner
I swear, I've got so much shit going on this week, I might as well be working.
Though really, I feel that way less because of the actual amount of work and more
just because of the psychic pressure involved in knowing I have things scheduled
for every day of this week. Between that and getting up early for rowing again,
for the last couple of weeks I've been clenching my teeth in my sleep. I finally
dug out the mouth guard I bought to help with that (it's a small soft rubbery
thing, that fits over my upper teeth). It helps a bit, though I wake up with my
teeth feeling all funny after sleeping with it.
This morning I rowed
a single, but had to wait ten minutes just to check that the coach (have I nommed
him yet? If not, he can be AussieCoach) didn't want me to row something else. No
fault of his, but I'm starting to get tired of the whole idea of rowing programs,
and having to wait for other people. Maybe I'll drop out and just row by myself
once Rudder and T2 go back to rowing the double.
href="http://mechaieh.diaryland.com">Mechaieh reminds me that I briefly
mentioned going to Korea, and hadn't discussed the whys and wherefores. (Is that
redundant?) Rudder has a conference in Seoul on the first week of February. He's
traveled enough for work to have built up a huge cushion of frequent flyer miles,
which he keeps for situations like this. So, I can get there for free, our hotel
is paid for the duration of the conference, and I have the time available. (Unless
someone offers me a job soon -- hey, it could happen!) Also, he's got a cousin in
the Army who's stationed near Seoul, and has his family out there. Basically,
there's no reason not to go. We'll stay just under two weeks, spending most of our
time in Seoul, fitting in an overnight hop to see temples in Kyong-ju as well as
day trips to the DMZ and the Folk Village, and spending the last few days staying
with the cousins.
Korea was never on my list of must-see-before-I-die
places, but everyone I know who's been there really likes it, and it's got some of
the oldest temples in Asia. Also, I've never been to Asia at all and Rudder's
never been on the mainland (he's traveled to Taiwan for work). I'm a bit nervous
about going someplace where I won't even be able to guess at words from their
English cognates (as I could in Germany), but the hotel people will speak English
and having local family will help. Also, Rudder and I have made this a principle
of our lives: "When an adventure throws itself at your feet, grab it and hop on."
You wouldn't believe how many people we've met who turn down opportunities that
have been given to them, with no strings attached and all difficulties smoothed
out -- people who didn't want to go flying when we invited them (I understand fear
of heights or lack of interest as a reason to refuse, but not laziness), people
who didn't take great jobs because some change was involved, people just too
stolid to appreciate wonder when it sidles up and introduces
But I could still end up not going if a job suddenly came
through. In a burst of impatience yesterday I called the HR person who arranged href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/smreq.html">my interview last week. She
told me they hadn't given her a decision yet. I don't know whether to consider
that good news, exactly, but it's way better than, "I didn't call you because we
hired someone else"!
Later: an hour and a half after writing the above, I got the "We're making someone
else an offer" call. Blahsuck.
Diaries are good for when you can't get your husband on the phone and you have an
overwhelming irony to communicate.
So, want to hear something
I've spent all of today on the computer; we decided to back it
up to its original parameters instead of adding more memory, in the hopes that
there's just something eating memory that I can get to go away. First, I installed
the 'conversion kit', because @Home is dying and Cox is taking over our part of
their network. They only support Outlook Express, so then I had to figure out how
to configure Outlook to get mail at both the old and the new addresses. Got that
done (though I'm not sure how to have it send mail from the new one). I did this
first so I could see what the new settings were, mail servers and so on, and write
them all down, rather than having to figure it out from scratch after killing off
all the relevant software.
Next, I had to back up the files I wanted
to keep, as well as things like my Internet bookmarks and saved e-mail. First, I
had to export the latter to files, then, because I'm lame and have never written a
CD on this computer, I had to install the CD-writing software. Then I had
to recall that the computer actually came with separate drives for reading DVDs
and writing CD-ROMs and put the drive in. After all that I had to figure out how
to get the computer back to its initial settings. I figured it out from Help at
the same time I was on the phone to ask Customer Support the same
At that point, I ha my files backed up, knew how to do a
restore, and had only to decide what date to restore to. And at that point
............................ 2:30 PM, mind you, having been online since 8AM with
only a few breaks ..............................................................
at that point, I noticed the computer, for the first time in two weeks, wasn't
running slow at all.
I'm tempted to do a restore anyway, but I think
that would fall into the category of cutting off my RAM to spite my ROM. Or
something like that.
Someone tell me again why I chose to work with
computers for a living? And why I do this even when I'm not getting paid for it?
Plans for today including completely reloading software on my computer, from the
ground up, and going to the dentist.
I don't know which I'm looking
forward to more. At least the dentist visit is only for a
And at least a side effect of having to back up files
before the reload is that I'll finally get around to figuring out how to write
CDs, since I did pay extra for a drive that can do that.
though, neither chore is my idea of how to spend a pleasant Tuesday. Maybe, just
maybe, the company I interviewed with last week will call today, and offer me gobs
of money and a starting date after I get back from Korea. It could happen. Please,
Despite a small accident with the chili powder, I've got a nice batch of Purists
Beware Dam'Fine Chili cooked up for dinner. (I use ground beef, and beans from cans instead of soaking them all night. Fortunately chili powder, even the "Hot Mexican" kind we've got, isn't really all that spicy, and anyway I think you're supposed to put a lot in. (Not quite sure -- I don't measure the spices in chili anyhow, just toss them in with a liberal hand. For some odd reason, it tastes a little sweet. I did put cinnamon in, but not very much, and I can't think of anything else that would be sweet, unless they're adding sugar to canned tomatoes these days.
Maybe it's just me. Last night I made Scampi La Riviera, from (of all places) a Charles Kuralt book, which turned out to be what restaurants around here usually call something like N'Awlins Shrimp. Rudder loves the sauce, and has been known to ask for extra bread to sop it up and refuse to let waiters take the appetizer plate away while there was still sauce left. In this case, I blame the sweetness on the balsamic vinegar I had on hand, and will be sure to use plain red wine vinegar next time. Maybe it's just me, though I can't imagine the sweetness of my character is affecting my cooking! Maybe my cycle is affecting my tastebuds instead.
The recipe was excellent and the stories were good, but I'd have enjoyed the rest of that Charles Kuralt book more if I could stop thinking about the mistress and family who surfaced after his death, and wondering how he squeezed in visits to them in among all the other traveling.
I tried to get help from Compaq customer support this,
another thing that didn't contribute to the sweetness of my character. Basically,
my new computer has been running way slow -- actually it runs at normal speed, but stops to think about what it's doing every few seconds. There are no extra tasks listed that could be causing this; I defragmented the hard drive and ran a clean-up yesterday; I even turned off Active Desktop. No use; I've still got an absent-minded laptop. The Compaq guy asked me to check my System Resources. They were 63% percent. He told me he could help but my software warranty had expired, so either I could pay for the help or I could extend the warranty. I chose the latter, so I'd have someone to bitch at for the next year when my computer doesn't work, paid $59 I really didn't want to spend, and got transferred to another guy. This one got the system resources up where they should be, all right, but that still didn't solve the problem. All he could tell me to do was to back up everything and try reloading everything from scratch -- advice I got from Rudder, yesterday, for free. The real problem, I think, is just that Windows Me sucks. Compaq support officially sucks now, too.
Time to go cheer up before I terrorize a bunch of high-school rowers!
All of which is a fancy way to say I'm ready to go back to work now. I did feel that impending change in the last several months I was at work, and should have heeded it more closely. I thought my job was safe because I was directly billable, but didn't bargain with them changing the rules on me. (Silly me.) I'm hoping I feel that crackle in the air again that says things are about to change, this time toward full employment. I write about it here because I find, I really do, that things are more likely to happen if I voice them out loud. Unfortunately, I have never found a way to make them happen any sooner.
Every eon or two
The earth's magnetic poles exchange North becomes south, south north
Or maybe a little west.
I imagine there is a feeling of tension
Before the poles move;
A crackling in the air,
Ionization of impending change.
The after the exchange,
A feeling of an end and a beginning,
Of a world made new.
And yet, the earth's greater motion is not altered.
It revolves around the sun
As it always did,
Deflecting not an iota from its accustomed path.
I feel that crackling in the air now
And I hope for change
While I hope (and think I know)
That the greater course of my life, my love
Is as constant though ever-moving
As the earth around the sun.
It was good to see S, and we did get to meet her sister, who was very cool.
However, as usual after these encounters, I have moved S close to the list of
people I wouldn't want to be my doctor. She's a little scatty, though of course
it's possible that at work she puts on a professional bedside
I keep in touch with so few people from high school and
before that it's actually a little odd to be able to talk to someone who remembers
Mrs. Madres, our third grade teacher, or the summer we were camp counselors, at
16, or the time we went all the way to D.C. by ourselves to visit my uncle, at 12.
Fortunately, she seems to have good memories of me at those times.
Today I'll try to enjoy lazing around, as my afternoons are
committed for the whole rest of the week -- helping teach juniors rowing
Mon/Wed/Fri and going to the dentist on Tuesday. And if I'm lucky, I can arrange
to do an alumni interview Thursday afternoon, so I don't have to do it on a
Off to vegetate. Ta.
Tonight should be fun -- one of my oldest friends is in town for a family thing
and we get to go meet her for dinner. Apparently, her great-aunt is turning 90, or
something like that. It's a funny thing; I've known S since third grade, and yet
I've never met her dad, siblings (including the well known href="http://www.sarasteele.com/">artist, whose work -- artistic and activist
-- I really like despite the rather ugly web page), or any of the relatives she's
meeting here. She knows my parents, thinks my brother is cute (in her mind, he's
still about 3 years old) and even went with me to visit my uncle, when we were 13
years old. I know her mom and have met her ex-stepfather and ex-stepsister. Not to
mention her ex-husband.
This is because S was the first person I'd
ever met who came from what they used to call a 'broken home'. There was only one
other girl I knew in grade school whose mother worked full time, and her father
was dead (Vietnam, I presume). Back then, in the mid-70s, most kids I knew had a
father who worked and a mother who stayed home and took care of the kids. That all
changed amazingly fast -- there were lots of people with divorced parents by the
time I got to junior high school, and of course now I don't think there are any
kids who don't know plenty of moms who work, dads who watch kids single parents,
and so on. (Except maybe in some of the local heavily-Mormon neighborhoods.) It's
always sad, of course, when marriages don't work, and it's true that more of the
people I know whose parents are divorced are working on a second or third marriage
themselves. (Though this is more true of my generation. My dad's parents divorced,
as did my father-in-law's, and they've both stayed married.)
way, though, it's probably a good thing in some ways for the kids to have more
diverse models of happy families. At least they know they have
Anyway, it will be good to see S. We've always had an on-
again, off-again sort of friendship, not because we fought, but because of lack of
proximity. We went to school together for 3rd and 4th grade, then her mom
remarried and moved away. We kept in sporadic touch, and ended up getting bussed
to the same school on the same day as part of the gifted program in 7th grade.
Then we got funneled into the same high school and had classes together. We ended
up at the same college, 2 of the 3 people from our class who went there, but had
interests different enough that we didn't see each other too often. I went off to
Houston and she went off to med school, but it's been at least a couple of years
since I saw her last. Maybe I'll finally get to meet that artist sister.
Things I've learned today:
I haven't heard yet from the interview people
though. (Not necessarily a bad sign, since they said they'd call early next week.)
After all, you can't learn everything in one day.
No luck on the weather -- it was windy enough to make for a bit of a rough row,
but not enough to call off practice and go home to bed. I rowed in a quad again,
with one of the same people in it -- I'll need a nom for her) and two different
ones. It wasn't nearly as pleasant as Wednesday, but I'm not sure if that was due
to the new people or the weather. The woman who stroked the boat both days is
someone I known, and rowed with on and off, for about 4 years now. She is
extremely nice, competent, and a good rower; has a doctorate she's not using at
the moment, and is in charge of fixing the club's boats. I'd call her Frau Doktor,
as she was educated in Germany, but I'm not sure that really captures her. Drat.
I got drafted to help teach the city's juniors again.
Apparently the city was lucky enough to find an excellent juniors coach (at least,
he comes *very* well recommended) who's moved here for his job, and they've asked
me to assist him for the first couple of weeks. I think this is partly to provide
some continuity, partly because he'll have to cut out a few minutes early for the
first week or so, and partly because (Unknown Legend says) he's extremely
good-looking and they want him to have a bodyguard when hordes of high-school
girls start falling in love with him. (They know there's not much risk of high
school boys falling for me.) I don't really like the idea of committing my
afternoons again, but it's only for a short time, and if this guy is as good as
reported, I can probably learn a lot from him.
I also am supposed to
do alumni interviews for a couple of Penn applicants, though I admit I volunteered
for this one. I'd better start learning to develop rapport with teenagers sometime
soon, before they begin to hang me in effigy in the halls of the high schools.
It's windy out. That means that, with luck, if it's also windy enough on the lake
20 minutes away, I may get to turn around, come home, and go back to
I don't care how much you like doing something, at 4:30 in the
morning, sleep is always more appealing.
Well? Welllll? WELL?
I don't know. Really, I have no idea about
whether I'll get the job. I
thought the interview went reasonably well, though they asked some very hard
questions. (I admit it: I have no idea how you handle memory leaks in C++.
Fortunately, it turns out, no one else has a very good way to do it either, and
this is one of the major problems with C++. However, I probably should have known
that.) And they asked how I'd solve a problem relating to their application,
wanting to know more about my alleged math-modeling skills. (The math models I've
done in the past, though, have been simulating things like aircraft engine
crossbleed- starts or heat exchangers. Still, the basic engineering ideas should
apply.) The HR person told me I did very well, but I don't know whether she was
just being nice. (Though I'd think any reasonably good HR person would try hard to
avoid raising false hopes.)
(This is becoming a many-paragraphed
The thing that's worrying me is not so much how I did, but
how everyone else did. They told me, when I asked, that they had interviewed
"several" other people for the job -- I figure that means at least three, likely
four or five. A lot of their questions were focused toward developing software,
even though the job ad was for a software test engineer, and it's true that if you
want a hot C++ programmer, I'm not the best person for the job. However, they may
have assumed I knew my testing and just wanted to see what else I could do -- and
if you really want someone who's flexible, who can code and test and document and
move into new areas quickly, then I'm your woman.
So I just don't
know. They're going to decide within the next few days, and have said I'll hear by
early next week. The HR person promised to let me know either way, though I've
heard that before. So now I will spend the next few days picking at my nail polish
and forcing myself to think about other things and apply for other
It occurs to me that it may have been a mistake to tell diary
readers and everyone else I know (and my mother) about this interview; I figured
that would leave me no room to screw up, but didn't allow for the number of other
people looking for work, and thus the amount of this that's out of my control.
Yogurt for breakfast, followed by popcorn for dessert (I figure it's at least as
nutritious as Sugar Corn Pops.) Mmmm.
And this morning I rowed in a
very enjoyable quad, with one woman I've known since before there was a lake here
and two others I've just met (one of whom rowed at Vassar). We had a lot of things
we need to improve, but it felt like everyone in the boat was alert and committed
to improving them. And the coach is having us get the form right before he has us
doing the hard physical workouts. He has us using a different rowing style than
I'd been used to, so I have a ton of new habits to ingrain. I don't want to get
into all the technical details, but it's a smoother stroke with all the different
parts of it flowing together instead of kept separate. This is more like the
stroke the Canadians have been using, but I think American rowing in general is
moving toward a smoother stroke sequence.
So it's a very good day so
far, and now I hope the rest of it will be in keeping. I'll be spending some time
doing things like polishing my nails, figuring out what to wear, and figuring out
how to answer questions like, "Have you ever worked with a difficult person? How
did you handle the situation?" or "Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses."
I got some good advice from a couple of Aussie chatters who said,
"Over here, we usually don't do an interview unless we're fairly confident the
person can do the job. We just want to figure out how they'll fit into the office.
So concentrate on trying to speak clearly and seeming likable, instead of being a
cleverboots." I do think these people will also be trying to assess how well I can
do the job, but the rest of it is good advice anyway.
please, please, send good vibes at href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/smreq.html">4PM today (MST). Huge thanks
to the friends who have already sent good wishes in the href="http://dichroic.signmyguestbook.com/">.
Consider yourselves duly notified: at 4 PM MST tomorrow, I want, good vibes,
thought, wishes, prayers, fingers crossed, thumbs held, whatever you do. I have a
And a good one, too. I'd be perfect for
what they want, and I think the job would be good for me. And this is a company
that has excellent benefits and, I think, decent money (at least, they offered me
a job once a couple of years ago and would have paid $12 more than I was
making). But most important, there would be variety, the chance to learn lots of
new stuff, and maybe even a chance to travel to interesting places. (For a week or
two, not three months.)
And most of all, it's a JOB!!!
hope it goes well, I hope I hope IhopeIhopeIhopeIhope.....
While this time staying home has certainly been pleasanter than I expected, I am
ready for it to be over. More than ready. Champing at the bit. I have never, since
leaving college, lived on someone else's money. There is nothing wrong with doing
so, when you're doing other parts of keeping a family running, but it would
require a much bigger mental shift than I want to make at the moment. Also, it's a
lot harder to justify when you don't have children, or a budding book or business
to work on. For me, it's not so much a question of how much Rudder makes (more
than I had realized) but of wanting my own money to play with, without
responsibilities to anyone else.
I really should get back to that
book project I was working on a few months back. I haven't felt comfortable with
myself for just abandoning it. All I really need to do is brush up the proposal a
bit and then do the work of mocking up a few pages -- more a matter of finding
what to put in them than anything else.
Also, considering I haven't
even had interviews, it's getting harder to believe that this lag between jobs
isn't my fault, that I couldn't be applying to more places, or making my resume
better, or something, anything, that I'm not doing but should be.
keep thinking I should go back to school, but the next thought is invariably, "But
for what?" I'm not sure it's worth the time and effort until the answer to that
one is clear. And it's not, unless I want to go all the way to a Ph.D. and become
a professor, which I might like, but the road there is longer than I'm prepared to
So now what?
I just spent an hour scrubbing baseboards. Ugh. I have got to get a job, so
I can feel less guilty about not doing housework. (And maybe hire someone else to
do it, thus helping the economy even more.) Not that there's anything
intrinsically wrong with scrubbing baseboards. It's hard on the knees, but there
are certainly chores I mind more. It's been clear nearly from my infancy, however,
that home-making is Not My Proper Job. (Well, neither is anything I've gotten paid
for yet, but it comes a lot closer, and I'm better at it.)
though, a recruiter told me that the interview she thought she could arrange this
week is at least 2 weeks off, because the company has to post it internally and
jump through all sorts of hoops first. Blahsuck.
I happened to be in
the local Apple store today just in time to see a live broadcast of Steve Jobs'
presentation at MacWorld.
Yes, I'm a Mac person,
even though my current computer is a PC laptop. It's on the desk, right next to
I started a new rowing program today. I could after gone back to the city program,
since they've gotten rid
of the Evil Coach, but I'd still have some of the same other problems, like
never getting any feedback because they spend their time working with the worst
rowers. And Rudder and T2 want to row singles a lot, and with Egret rowing with
the city, I wouldn't have many chances to row the double. The other local program,
the Rio Salado Rowing Club, has a new coach who seems to be fairly together, and
is trying to rebuild their women's competitive program, so I decided to give that
a shot. This morning, I rowed a double with a girl from ASU. Not bad at all for a
first row together. We mostly did drills, so it wasn't too strenuous, but that's
not a major problem.
Anyway, yesterday I did a 2000m piece and cut
20 seconds off my previous best, so I'm still gloating. I rank 27 of 42 in my age
and weight group on the href="http://126.96.36.199/sranking/rankings.asp">Concept II World Rankings
which isn't too bad, considering even most lightweight rowers are much taller than
Outside rowing, I'm a bit upset by this news about the 15-year-
old who flew into a building in Florida. They found a suicide note in his pocket,
so it was intentional, which doesn't surprise me because it's just not that easy
to fly into a building by mistake. Into the ground while trying to land, yes, that
I can see, but buildings don't just pop up in front of you. I see how it could
happen: typically, when you take a flying lesson, the instructor sends you out to
do a preflight inspection of the plane, then joins you before you get in and taxi
off. This kid just jumped in and took off without waiting for his instructor. (I
think you can take flying lessons at any age, but can't solo until you're 16.)
It's not even the fact that the suicide note expressed sympathy with
bin Laden that bothered me; disturbed and deluded teenagers are certainly no new
thing (neither are disturbed and deluded adults, of course). What worries me is
that a boy taking flying lessons wanted to kill himself. Look, you absolutely
cannot learn to fly without not only a fair share of intelligence, but an
even greater amount of self-discipline. You just can't. And this kid was air-
struck enough to be washing planes in trade for lessons, which is generally
something you don't do unless you love airplanes. Richard Bach once wrote an essay
about inviting the troubled son of an acquaintance to go up with him. The boy
never showed up for the flight, possibly because when you're a fifteen-year-old-
rebel, any opportunity that comes to you from your mother doesn't seem like much
opportunity at all. Bach just wanted to pass on the gifts of his own instructor,
to see if this one fifteen-year-old could be reached through a learning that
begins with, "Now, this is what we call a 'wing',", goes on through flight, "which
for me was challenge, was I dare to you survive alone in the sky, and I offer you
inner confident quiet if you're good enough to do it, and if you do you'll have a
way to find who you are and never be lonely again," and that never
So here, in Florida, we have a boy who did show up for that
first flight, who was enthralled enough to do drudge work just to get to touch the
airplanes, to get to go up once up, and who was at least partway on that road to
an "inner confident quiet", and to the respect one pilot gives another. And it
wasn't enough for him. He killed himself. I don't know whether he had love in his
life, but he had not only a parent dedicated enough to drive him to the airfield,
but a chance to be around others who loved the same thing he loved, and that's a
powerful kinship. Respect, something to do, and something to learn -- what more
could he have wanted?
I'm supposed to be reading both Java for Dummies (in case the job interview
where they want me to know it actually comes through -- I've told them I don't,
but I want to at least have seen it) and the Private Pilot Manual (because
I'm *very* rusty and Rudder gave me some flying time for Christmas.) This explains
why I'm here writing this entry, instead.
For Mechaieh, here's the
Simon and Garfunkel song you can still have someone sing to you, even after
growing up enough not to want to be someone's only truth.
What a dream I had,
Dressed in organdy,
Clothed in crinolines,
Of smoky burgundy,
Softer than the rain.
I wandered empty streets down
Past the shop displays,
I heard cathedral bells
Tripping down the alleyways,
As I walked on.
And when you ran to me, your
Cheeks flushed with the night,
We walked on frosted fields
Of juniper and lamplight,
I held your hand....
And when I awoke
And felt you warm and near,
I kissed your honey hair
With my grateful tears.
Oh I love you girl,
Oh I love you.
Though for Mechaieh, that last verse should be "ebon hair".
The good news is that I finally got enough sleep. After New Years Day, when I
finally got back to rowing, my subconscious was apparently so nervous that I
wouldn't wake up in time that it kept waking me up all night, just to make sure.
Never mind that I have this nifty modern invention known as an ALARM CLOCK --
apparently my subconscious isn't up on the latest technology. Actually, we have
two alarm clocks, one on each side of the bed, partly because it's really annoying
to have to turn the alarm off when you're not the one who has to get up and partly
because I like to see what time it is (and thus, how much longer I get to sleep)
when I wake up in the middle of the night. I can't see more than about five inches
without my contact lenses or glasses on, so my alarm has these big honkin' numbers
that you could practically read by.
The bad news is that I may have a
cold, but I'm hoping the runny nose is just an artifact of sleeping over nine
hours. On the other hand, if I do have a cold, that makes it more likely that the
two people who promised they'd set up interviews for early next week will come
through. (And one of these has been diddling around since the beginning of
November!) I'm a fir believer in Murphy's Law. There's nothing as eminently
hireable as a job interviewee with sniffles. Thank goodness for
My two books from Amazon came yesterday, so I piled them
with the two I haven't yet read from the used book store and now I have a small
TBR pile (to be read -- Rudder had to ask, so I guess not everyone knows that
acronym). That's not even counting all those Library of America books we should
have, but too many of those are the sort of thing I href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/bfulhere.html">should read. Why is a four-
book pile of my own unread books so much more exciting than ten books from the
library? Maybe it's because the library books are ones that just looked
interested, not ones I've searched out and waited for.
posterity, the TBR pile consist of:
But I suppose I should finish my
library books first. Yeah, right.
I'm running a bit late today, because Rudder and I tried some tag-team rowing. The boys had wanted to row singles instead of their double today and Egret was rowing in a quad with Hardcore and some other women, so I was boatless. T2 and Rudder said they'd take out a double if I wanted, but since my time is my own, and since our boat is now stored low enough that I don't need help getting it off the rack, I decided to just show up a little later and row after they were done. It worked perfectly; I had the lake almost to myself (the quad and another single were there, but I hardly saw them) and I only had to carry the boat back up, not down to the water.
I don't think I've mentioned that Rudder and I named this boat RowedRunner. (Our previous singles were Rowver and Rowedster, and I think the double is SunStroke.) She, and she is definitely a she, is very sensitive, and really rewards proper technique. I had a strokecoach (sort of like a bike computer for boats) so could see just how much faster I went when I concentrated on balance and snapping my hands in to my body.
After I got back home, I spent some time fooling with the digital camera, trying to photograph some of my bead projects. I wasn't totally successful, but I think these pictures will at least give some idea.
These winecharms are for a friend of mine. I made him six, of clear beads, and he asked for another dozen, six red and six blue, offering to pay whatever I was charging at craft fairs. I'm not selling commercially, because I suspect it would be a huge amount of trouble, so I'm just charging him for materials and shipping -- a nice way to subsidize my hobby. These are made of memory wire, so if you pull one open, it snaps back into shape. Each charm is different, and they're meant to be placed around the stems of wineglasses, so you can tell which glass is yours. I don't think you can see what a pretty color these red beads are, but they glow like little pomegranate seeds. These charms are a bottle, a corkscrew, and a glass; I've also got other types of glasses, a fancier corkscrew, a soft pretzel (the friend they're for lives in Philadelphia), a wedge of cheese, a bunch of grapes, and so on.
The necklace is for myself. It's been through about three iterations so far, and now I've got it about where I want it. The only problem now is that the slender loops of the chain keep slipping out of all those jump-rings. I either need to get
sturdier jump rings or just be careful while wearing it. I think as long as I don't fool with it while it's on I'll be OK.
One of the books I scored with the gift certificate Rudder gave me to my favorite
used book store is The Woolcott reader -- Alexander Woolcott's way of
making sure his favorite short fiction was in print so that he could force
everyone he knew to read it. I haven't gotten far in, because I feel I ought to
finish my library books first. (And Waverly took bloody forever to
So I've only read the Preface so far, but it's already more
than worth the paltry $1.98 they charged just for this
"Now, I would be highly content to come
up for judgment as one who thought highly of all the works in this volume and
deeply loved some of them. It is true that its table of contents seldom duplicates
the lists of books with which some of our best minds are constantly electing to be
wrecked on some desert island -- that putative retreat which must now be suffering
from overpopulation. In those lists (besides indisputable and nourishing
essentials like Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and War
and Peace), I do often find austere works of such orthodox classicism as fills
me with a mutinous suspicion that they have been included from a sense of duty and
will be taken, if at all, medicinally. Indeed, when faced with certain of the
monumental works of the world's literature, I am affected as was a
cuisinière of my acquaintance by the State of California, to which brightly
pigmented commonwealth she repaired late in life to make her home. To her former
mistress in the darkling and rain-drenched East, she reported her arrival by
sending a florid postcard on which she had scribbled this message: "It's very
beautiful here I don't like it."
very beautiful, by all reports, but I think I'll like him.
"There are no atheists in foxholes."
That's not entirely true, but it
takes a stronger will than mine to stick to your beliefs when you're in trouble.
At the end of February, I will turn into a pumpkin. That's my double
witching day: my unemployment insurance runs out and, after then, my security
clearance can no longer be simply turned back on, but has to be reapplied for. And
applying for a security clearance is a really, really ugly process these days.
It's not that I especially want to work on secret stuff, but I do especially want
to have a job, since some of the jobs I'm interested in are in aerospace, that's
one of my advantages right now. (Of course, since it hasn't gotten me a job yet,
it could be argued that it's not much of a selling point.)
insane man, gets up to 4:10 (what we think of as "rowing time") to go the gym). I
usually set the alarm for 5:30 on gym days. When I woke up with his alarm this
morning, though, I began worrying over the job thing and my impending deadlines
and couldn't go back to sleep. I don't even believe in petitionary prayer, so when
I found myself muttering, out loud, "Please God, help me get a job," I knew
4AM desperation had set in. (It's amazing how much misery you can save yourself by
realizing how rarely middle-of-the-night panic is justified.) At 5, I finally
decided to get up and head off to the gym. That was when I realized my keys were
missing, complete with gym tag.
Our mailbox is way at the far end of
the block, around the corner. I've been known to leave my mailbox key, with all
the rest dangling from it, in the mailbox door, so I drove by to see if it was
there, figuring that if so, I could head on out to the gym from there. No luck. I
came back home and did one more panic-stricken search, then realized I could have
dropped them in Rudder's car....and he was still at the gym. So I headed over,
talked my way past the front desk, got his keys, and .... my keys were there,
under the passenger seat where he'd never have noticed them. It's always nice when
desperate theories pan out. SO I went in, worked out, and now I'm back
Anyway, I figure fear can be useful, as long as it prods you
into action instead of paralyzing. At least I know I won't skip over my job-
searching activates for today!
Sorry to be handing such a steady supply of
href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/wantajob.html">grumpiness. Blame my cat,
who in his emotional neediness and quest to be on my lap (or in my face or on my
mouse) every single time I get on the computer lately is being very, very
annoying. At the moment he's on the seat next to me, having wormed his way up
between the seat and the back of my small desk chair. Every once in a awhile I
have to lean over and squish him a little so he doesn't jump up on my lap (to
start kneading my legs, claws out) or walking across the computer. He's only got
about three inches of space to sit in, and I don't know how he's avoiding falling
off the chair, but the purr volume seems to indicate a state of domestic
My other cat, out in the back yard at the moment, is much less
annoying. He's so much more emotionally stable than the one currently attempting
to sneak onto my lap (I don't know why he thinks I don't notice) that he will even
come over to comfort me when I'm upset. The more annoying cat is a "me, me, me"
type, the sort who only worries if people are paying him enough attention. If they
ever resuscitate the Seinfeld show, I'm sending him over for audition. He'd fit
Egret and I tried to row the double this morning, but there was some wind and the
water was rough enough that we came in after one short lap. Rudder and T2, rowing
singles, didn't even make it that far.
So maybe a case of scullus
interruptus is why I'm feeling so crabby just at this moment, but it's probably
more because I've been thinking about the job thing again. I want a job. I Want a
Job. I WANT A JOB, DAMMIT!!
Hello, world, is anybody listening to me?
Recruiters, companies, anyone? Some hiring would be nice, here.
Despite the large quantity of them occurring the past year, I still don't really
believe in death. Well, I do, of course, in an academic sort of way, and I've seen
a body or two (at viewings, I mean -- nothing as dramatic as you were probably
thinking) but I've still never really gotten my mind wrapped around the whole idea
of a person just stopping and not being there any more.
It must be so, I know, because the other alternative is that my grandparents just
haven't wanted to speak to me in a very long time, which is not bloody likely.
I've been given to understand that a concept of one's own mortality is an
inevitable accompaniment to increasing age, which actually makes me feel
hearteningly young -- I don't feel my own mortality, therefore it must not be
close. Not that I haven't acquired a few more creaks and crochets over the years,
but they don't actually feel like they're leading to any drastic changes.
That's the best argument I can think of for some sort of afterlife: the human
mind's (my human mind's) inability to comprehend its own end. I mean, if we had
planned obsolescence wired into the machinery, you'd think the whole idea would
seem a little more possible. Or is it that we're just unable to get on with our
lives unless we believe they're endless, and so the surviving fittest were also
the most uncomprehending?
And how much does belief affect the workings of the world? If a child who doesn't
believe in death dies, what happens to their -- I need a word here. Soul? Essence?
I mean the self-awareness, everything non-corporeal that's comprehended when I
think "me". What happens to their me-ness? Is it different from what happens to an
old person who is ready for death? No wonder there are legends of ghosts and
spirits, heavens and wheels of rebirth. How else could we stand such an imminent
and awesome idea?
(And did you know that "imminent" and "immanent" are two completely different
words? I just found that out while looking up the spelling. The other reason I
Have trouble thinking about death is that I'm easily distracted from anything so
I have no idea why I was thinking about all this today. I
hope it's not a harbinger. Maybe it's a sign of putting all of last years little
and big deaths and finalities behind me.
I consider 2001 a fairly bad year, not because I spent much of it being actively
miserable (this unemployment thing wouldn't be bad at all, if only they paid you
for it), but because two major Bad Things happened and there were no major life-
changing Good Things to counterbalance them.
As someone pointed out
to me last night, though, the only thing worse than job misery is bad
relationships, and really, all of mine seem to be in decent shape. There were lots
and lots of other good things happening, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention
them: blossoming friendships both online and out in the world, chances to visit
family, in-the-flesh meetings with some of those online friends, and even a
savings account holding out much better than anticipated.
are all the continued good things that are so easy to overlook because nothing has
changed: Rudder, the continued health of all of us including the aging kitties,
people who seem pleased to hear from me, my e-mail lists where I can discuss odd
interests with people who understand, these diaries providing peeks into other
people's lives and thoughts, food, clothing, and shelter (growing up in a small
rowhouse with only one bathroom makes one thankful for room to spread out and
*three* baths and while no one will ever call me a fashion leader, I do have
enough clothes that I won't have to worry about shopping until I can afford to),
enough qualifications and determination to be sure that *someday* I'll be employed
again. And so on.
My hopes for 2002 for myself include more of the
same (especially the 'friends part'), plus a new job. My ideal job is mentally
challenging, busy, varied, with cool co-workers, a 40-hour week at least most of
the time, and, while we're talking about ideals, three or four weeks' vacation and
an office instead of a cubicle. Oh, yes, and lots of pay. And, again ideally, work
that I can think is actually doing some good to the world. And a good bit of
independence. And a short commute.
I'd also like the chance to do
more traveling than I have this year, and maybe even renovate the house a bit,
and, again ideally, some prospect of moving to a place with cooler weather but
still lots of outdoor sports. I really can't think of much else I want that I
don't have. I suppose that proves how lucky I am, that I don't need major changes
even after a bad year.
For the world, of course, I'd like for peace
and freedom to become more widespread, along with enough prosperity to allow more
of the population to stop thinking about the next meal or the latest epidemic and
start thinking about more abstract ideas. Like peace, and freedom. And, of course,
the pursuit of happiness.
And for all of you out there, I wish that
your own pursuits of happiness, prosperity, and love may be well-rewarded in the