I have a new computer at work now (literally a new one - a cool black Dell). No
phone yet, but that should come today or tomorrow. So far, it looks like a good
gig. The commute sucks, as anticipated, but the company actually seems to buy in
to what I do, which will be a nice change from fighting uphill battles all
Evil Obo stopped by this morning for a civil chat, so I conclude
he intends to be friendly, or at least professional polite. Either that or he was
collecting data to see if he still hates me, so I tried to be polite and
respectful. Surprisingly, he seems to have kept in touch with several of our
former coworkers, including the manager who let him go. I suspect it was more his
doing than theirs, but I'm still a bit surprised.
This is a rather
large facility. I just got completely lost on the way back from the cafeteria,
despite having found it successfully at least twice in the last few days. St.
Bernards rowing the halls with cask of brandy would be distinctly helpful
I get out early again today, because I have to go be re-drug-
tested. No, I haven't smoked any odd cigarettes. And no, I didn't have a poppy-
seed bagel for breakfast that morning. You know how health experts are always
telling people to drink lots of water? Especially women? Especially in a dry
climate? Well, apparently that's not a great idea right before a drug test.
TheyŐre claiming my sample was "too dilute". Sigh. Apparently I do have a drinking
problem, though just with water. Maybe I should just keep drinking lots, so that
I can keep getting out of work early?
Rowing. Work. Then out for beer or early to bed. Back to the old grind.
I'll try to write more later, but am short on time right now.
Ohmigod OhMyGod OHMYGOD NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
Not Evil Obo!!!
At work today, for Day Two (more properly, Half-Day Two, since I
left at noon) I saw someone I knew from my last job, standing there in the
courtyard smoking. Unfortunately, if I'd had to name the top three people on my
list of Coworkers I'd Rather Never See Again, his name would be in all three
I should have known he'd be there. After all, why else would
that stairway always smell like pipe smoke? After all, lots of people smoke pipes,
but most of them wash their clothes occasionally.
This guy took a
severe dislike to me at the last job. Apparently he thought I was an arrogant
little bitch. Obviously, I think I'm properly humble -- I admit to making mistakes
all the time and freely apologize when I know I'm wrong -- but others have
complained, so there's likely a grain of truth there. At the very least, I have
mannerisms that can occasionally be interpreted as arrogant. (Is that self-
delusional or what?) (See? Properly humble.) (And proud of it!) But what do you
generally do when you find a coworker irritating? You shut up and do what you have
to do to work with them, and avoid unnecessary contact, that's what. You don't
send them nasty emails every morning, or scream at them. And, I repeat, to project
a professional image, you change clothes daily and wash them
I didn't get him fired though, didn't even file a
formal complaint. His behavior was erratic enough, and obvious enough, that I
didn't have to. And now he's there at the new job. With luck, this time he'll
avoid me as thoroughly as I'll be trying to avoid him. And if not, the company has
a very stringent policy against harassment, stalking, weapons, violence, and any
other scary behavior you can think of. I don't actually wish him harm; I just wish
him far, far away from me, so I won't go near him if I can help
But on the way out, I met two former coworkers from an even
earlier job whom I was delighted to see again -- technical whizzes, both of them,
and extremely sweet guys, to boot. Now if Evil Obo (Obo's not his real name but
it's got the same letters and a similar pattern) picks on me, I feel like there's
someone in my corner. And if he tried to spread evil rumors, there's someone
around who knows better.
Good Lord. Rudder bought me flowers, as a "Congratulations for being gainfully
employed again" sort of thing. I can't remember the last time he brought me any,
but the century certainly didn't start with a '2'.
Later note: Actually, the bouquet he got is very pretty, with some sort of pink-
speckled lilies, feathery ferns and squiggly twigs; however, I have begun thinking
of the main component as 'dung lilies' for their rather pungent scent. And they're
filling the house with it. I couldn't resist mentioning the odd scent to Rudder,
who went over, sniffed, and said, "They smell good to me." However, I tried to
cast my comment in as positive a light as possible and have refrained from
mentioning the species' new name to him. And really, I don't care; I've been so
irked at him for the past week, for not showing up for the tax meeting and then
not, apparently, trying hard to apologize, that we haven't been as snuggly as
usual. But he's reprioritized his work now and given me these as a gesture -- they
could smell like ginkgo fruit and I wouldn't complain.
Anyway, they seem to be wilting already, so the smell shouldn't last too long!
Today I hope to leave work around noon, to get my hair cut, update my insurance,
and maybe if my willpower fails, drop in at a local shoe store. Bad Dichroic. But
I will enjoy to the fullest the free time I get, since after this it will be grey
cubicles full time for me. I've got loads of stuff to take in with me to at least
make it a Dichroicized grey cube.
Off to the gym.
"So, Dichroic, how was your first day back at work after 6 months?"
"Um, well....a little boring, actually."
anyone's fault; it's just that I don't have a computer yet and don't have a phone
yet and can't really do any work. And the people who can give me some training are
insanely busy. So this will get much better within the week. Since I'm a
contractor and get paid hourly, I think they'll be more than happy to see me for
well under 40 hours this week ... which is fine with me, since I realized
somewhere around lunch time that I had already earned as much as I would have for
a whole week on unemployment. Today I got to leave at 2:30 to go get drug-tested,
neatly avoiding the afternoon traffic.
Morning traffic wasn't bad,
either. I left rowing at 6:30, which meant by the time we got our quad all
together and adjusted, we got to do about half a lap before I had to come in.
Boatyard to gym (to shower) to work, about an hour and 10 minutes. Not too bad.
Also, of course, today I was primping a good bit more than usual because of it
being the first day and all, so I'll be able to cut a little off that time.
Tomorrow I think I'll shower at the gym after lifting weights instead of coming
home -- that will save 15 minutes or so and get me on the roads a touch earlier,
while traffic is a smidgen lighter.
Bizarrely, it was almost nice to
be back in a grey cubicle in an aerospace company wearing a badge and having to
log my time to an insane exactitude. This is a world I understand, having spent 8
and a half years in it. The previous employer, an Internet company, gave us free
sodas and cookies and I could wear shorts to work. All of this is fun, but on the
other hand, that company is now probably going out of business. The aerospace
companies may be anal, but they're still providing jobs. There's something to be
said for that. (But though I didn't get free cookies, I did get a sandwich, fries,
and a 20-oz Coke for $3.75, so there's at least a little nurturing going on
I'm also pleased to see they have the best set of orientation
documentation I've seen: a very specific, reasonable dress code; a
nondiscrimination policy that specifically bars making employment decisions based
on everything from pregnancy to "affectional and/or sexual orientation", and a
sane Internet policy (basically, you can use the web at work for private stuff
occasionally, but don't abuse it and don't be downloading porn.
so far, so good, I guess.
I'm writing this quickly before practice. Today will be hectic: rowing practice,
shower at the gym nearby, off to the new job for my first day, meet Rudder and the
tax person at 6 to go over our taxes. Unless I get out of work early (because I
have to go somewhere else to get drug-tested), I'll be out of the house from 4:30
AM to 7:30 PM. Oig.
Tomorrow, with luck, they'll let me out early to
run errands and get stuff done. (No, I'm not forgetting what a real job is like.
Because of the short notice to start, I was told I could work part-time the first
week.) So updates may be a bit sparse on the ground for the next few days.
No time to write. First we're off to see lions and tigers (maybe bears) at a local
wildlife park, then I have to do errands and laundry and get ready to start work
tomorrow. More later, maybe.
A: Chaotic Good Elf Bard Ranger
Good characters are independent types with a strong belief in the value of
goodness. They have little use for governments and other forces of order, and will
generally do their own things, without heed to such
Elves are the eldest of all races,
although they are generally a bit smaller than humans. They are generally well-
cultured, artistic, easy-going, and because of their long lives, unconcerned with
day-to-day activities that other races frequently concern themselves with. Elves
are, effectively, immortal, although they can be killed. After a thousand years or
so, they simply pass on to the next plane of existence.
Bards are the entertainers. They sing, dance, and play
instruments to make other people happy, and, frequently, make money. They also
tend to dabble in magic a bit.
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They
are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and
Find out href='http://www.students.uiuc.edu/~ellingwd/dndwho/index.html' target='mt'>What
D&D Character Are You?, courtesy of href='http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=neppyman' target='mt'> height='17' border='0' src='http://img.livejournal.com/userinfo.gif'
align='absmiddle' width='17'> href='http://www.livejournal.com/users/neppyman/' target='mt'>NeppyMan href='mailto:email@example.com'>(e-mail)
completely unrelated bit of weirdness, I got an interesting email today. One of
the tech leads at my former place is telling me his new gig needs a QA Manager,
and would I be interested? It never drizzles but it precipitates felines and
canids. I passed his message on to his former manager, who had just emailed that
he was looking for a change, and who, in my humble opinion, would be very good at
managing a software quality assurance department. I think they got along well. I
Wow. Yesterday was an eventful (and alcohol-filled) day. And all in a good
I was a little grumpy in the morning because I'd volunteered
(silly me) to pick up some cinderblock that the club is going to use to set up a
race course for March 10. (As I said before, it's my birthday, so they'd better
give me a medal!) they had found a place to buy them for $.60 each, a really
long way from the boatyard. I checked at a home-improvement place on the way home
and found they had the same blocks much cheaper, at a far more convenient
location. Even better, Dr. Bosun and her truck were available to help. We arranged
to meet at the boatyard at 11, with a few other people to help
Just about 5 minutes before I left, I got
href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/yay.html">the call offering me a new job,
starting Monday. (ulp!) I made a slight detour to pick up cheap champagne, which
we drank after getting all those blocks unloaded.
For the rest of the
afternoon, I planned to do all my pre-job errands -- oil change, haircut, and so
on. Those plans came to a speedy end when I got a phone call from T2: "Can you
come in an hour to be a witness when me and Egret get married?" (Ulp! again) So of
course I dropped everything, had Rudder paged, picked him up, ran a very quick
errand he insisted on doing, then sat around the courthouse for half an hour
waiting for a trial to be over. It wasn't the most romantic wedding I've ever
seen, but the judge had a very good ceremony (about waiting out the ebbs and flows
of a relationship, rather like my href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/upanddown.html">sine wave theory) and the
expressions on the bride and groom's faces were as proud, and happy, and nervous,
and glistening as any I've seen at the most elaborately planned expensive
And then we all went to a local brewpub, met up with a bunch
of other rowers and drank much more.
You are reading the diary of an Employed
you're done whooping, hollering and stomping, here's more info. I will be helping
a software group in a major aerospace company refine their software development
processes, so that they can both develop code with fewer bugs in it and pass
audits by their customers and the FAA. I know this is odd, but I really like
working on processes, so this sounds great to me. I'll be doing that for six
months, and then either doing more of the same, moving into development, or into
testing, which I also like. I'll be a contractor there, which I can do for 18
months, after which I could either be extended or convert to an
There are only two drawbacks I can see, one big and one
small. The small one is that these guys developed things like operating systems
and firmware, not cool snazzy user-interface applications. This would be a big
problem for me, because I like doing apps much better, but I won't be writing code
anyway. Also, this stuff is meant to run on airplanes (big commercial ones) and
it's always more pleasant when your work has an end use you're interested in. In
lots of ways, I'll be glad to be back in aerospace.
The big one is
the commute: it's about 40 minutes with no traffic, so it will be more during
actual commute times. This is offset by the fact that several mornings a week,
I'll be commuting from the boatyard, which is much closer than my house.
The disadvantages are also offset by one major honking Good Thing:
they have offered me considerably more money (like, $5/hour more, which
equates to $10K/year) than I have ever made in my entire life. I took a pay
cut when I went to my last employer (to do more interesting work) so this is way
more than I made there. I figure that offsets a bit of driving.
buy a plane for the commute.
The Only One WhoDon't worry, it's not meant to be necessarily true to life.
I may not be the only one
Who would like to put my hands around your neck and squeeze.
And I'm probably not the only one
Who gets annoyed when you begin to lecture. I'm certainly not the only one
Who hates when you assume I don't know as much as you do.
But I am the only one
Who loves you anyway.
A Day on the River
I. The Rower
Pulling your guts out
Racing the stopwatch
Out every morning before you can see
Silent and focused
Feeling the boat's rush
The pace of your strength and your speed
And all I can wish you
I wish I could give you
To hold as you hold to your oar
Is joy in the effort
And joy in the dawning
Calm wind and fast water
And safe harbor home.
II. The Kayaker
Exploring the inlets
Watching the birds next
Looking to find what's to see
The river that rocks you
Riffles and chuckles
Fine beads form as sun warms your skin.
And all I can wish you
I wish I could give you
To hold as you paddle upstream
Is joy in the effort
And joy in the morning
Soft wind and smooth ripples
And safe harbor home.
III. The Sailor
Sails heeling over
As the wind freshens
You lean out to balance the breeze
Spray wets your forehead
Sails pass and repass
You let the wind tell you what course it's to be.
And all I can wish you
I wish I could give you
To hold as you lean to the lee
Is joy in the effort
And joy in the sailing
Warm wind and smooth water
And safe harbor home.
IV. The Fisher
Returning in moonlight
Weighing your catch
Moving upriver from a day on the sea
This time you're empty
Last night you'd a hold full
Tomorrow, who knows -- you'll just wait and see
And all I can wish you
I wish I could give you
To hold as you hold to a dream
Is joy in the effort
And joy in the evening
Fair wind and fast water
And safe harbor home.
You know those talking cars Chevron uses in its
href="http://www.chevron.com/prodserv/fuels/techrongas/">ads? II just realized
those must have been done by the same guy who created the movie href="http://www.aardman.com/chickenrun/">Chicken Run as well as the href=http://www.aardman.com/wallaceandgromit/index.shtml">Wallace and Gromit
features. There's just something about the teeth that gives it away. Not that it
makes me any more likely to buy Chevron's gas, but at least I don't hate their
commercials. (The Olympic one with the ice-skating car is very cute.)
Yesterday was the
fortieth anniversary of John Glenn's orbit of the earth, the first American to do
so, though not the first human. Blessings on href="http://www.npr.org">NPR's collective heads for being the only news
outlet to cover it at length. From my readings about the early space program and
similar exploits like Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, I have concluded
that there is nothing that has happened within my memory (too young to
remember Apollo's Moon landing) that has aroused so much public feeling -- the
best comparison I can come up with is the excitement of your city's team winning
the Super Bowl/Stanley Cup/World Series, only sustained for months nationwide,
instead of in one city for a day.
I wish the Apollo program hadn't
ended early. I wished the Space Shuttle had been launched in time to boost Skylab
back into orbit (and I have good reason to believe that was entirely due to poor
management, but that's another story). I wish the Space Station hadn't been cut
back to such a poor remnant. I wish we had civilians in space right now, this
minute, recreating, studying, healing, and working, as every science fiction
reader fifty years ago confidently believed we would.
href="http://www.npr.org/programs/totn/">Talk of the Nation yesterday had a
live interview with John Glenn, paired first with a current astronaut, href="http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/foreman.html">Col. Mike Foreman,
and then with Walter
Cronkite. They had them on for a nice long time, and it was a fascinating
interview. Col. Glenn said two things that surprised me greatly. One was when he
stated that he is surprised at how far the space program has come. It's true that
a case can me made that no one (save maybe Arthur Clarke) expected the sort of
satellite communications we now have, but the manned space program has been rather
a disappointment to most space buffs, including most NASA engineers I know (I used
to work for a contractor at the JSC). We are still only letting a small elect
cadre of people into space; we have no real direction; we have no commercial
traffic beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO); we have sent no one outside the Earth-Moon
system. I did a graduate paper once n the history of space station proposals and
was almost in tears at the end, because the International Space Station is such a
pale wraith compared to those once proposed, some of which had artificial gravity
(induced by centrifugal force), gardens, and large communities of people. And they
were talking about building these by the 1990s.
Glenn also shocked
me by making one statement that is flat-out wrong. In illustrating why a Mars trip
would be so much greater a challenge than anything we've done, Senator Glenn said
that the planets "are light-years away". No they're not! Proxima Centauri, our
nearest star, barring the Sun, is a bit over four light-years away. If my math is
right, that's something like 42,200,000,000,000 kilometers, or 26,200,000,000,000
miles away. The Sun, in contrast, is a mere 93,000,000 miles from the Earth (this
is called 1 Astronomical Unit, or AU). Mars comes as close as 54,500,000
kilometers, or 34,000,000 miles, to the Earth. That's a fairly large difference,
and I cannot believe Glenn doesn't know it.
Amusingly, every time
Col. Foreman addressed Glenn, he didn't call him Colonel Glenn, or Senator Glenn,
but John, as if to emphasize, "You're senior and I'm junior, but we're members of
the same lodge." Of course, the fact that they had offices two doors apart while
Glenn was preparing for his shuttle flight may also have had something to do with
it. The other amusing part was when Cronkite came on. It was clear from the awe in
her voice that to Lynn Neary, the host of this show, Cronkite has exactly the same
legendary-elder-in-the-field status that Glenn does for Foreman. The parallelism
was rather nice. And so was Cronkite's undiminished enthusiasts for space flight.
Last night after the evening went very very badly, I redeemed it partially by
staying up until midnight (yes, me; yes, midnight) chatting with href="http://eilatan.net/journal">Natalie and SWWooP. That was good, because afterward I was too tired to be mad at Rudder, who had let me down in a way I can only remember him doing once before, in the last decade.
And all that elision is starting to sound like he was impotent and I'm being a bitch about it, so perhaps I should give more detail after all. His car is in the shop, so I had to pick him up from work; he was supposed to call me when he was ready. We had an appointment to get our taxes done at 7PM. Five o'clock, no Rudder call. Five forty-five, no call and I'm starting to get perturbed. I call Rudder repeatedly but can't get through. He has no cell phone or pager and wasn't in his office. I even tried calling his boss, who wasn't there either. At twenty til, I finally gave up and went alone -- fortunately we had all the tax papers organized in a folder, so that part was easy. He finally called me on my mobile phone about 15 minutes into the tax session, and was in his office henceforth (not able to leave until we picked him up, remember) so at least we were able to call him and ask questions about things like his stocks. We do those separately so I had no idea what he'd done. I was so furious afterward that I didn't even want to meekly go to bed beside him, so stayed up as late as I wanted for once and skipped the gym this morning.
Thanks go at this point to Caerula who let me chat and vent to her on IM back when I was getting worried before the tax session -- I attribute that venting to the fact that I was able not to yell at him when I did see him. I find yelling much more satisfactory, actually, but it's not terribly productive. People go on the defensive when yelled at and won't admit they're wrong or
Thanks also to Natalieeeee and SWWooP because by the time we were done chatting I was too tired to hold a grudge or sleep on the sofa.
I really wanted to write about John Glenn today, so I'm going to go ahead and do that in another entry, but I wanted to give thanks where due, and they don't make sense without the explanation. But I'd rather write about outer space than in-home arguments.
Well, maybe I won't do the "I am the only one who..." poem.
href="http://mechaieh.diaryland.com/onlyone.html">Mechaieh and SWooP seemed to
have covered fairly thoroughly what I would have said in their versions. Or maybe
I will, anyway, if I get any ideas, because I like the first line and because I'd
say it differently, anyway.
Job prospects are looking up a little, as
three major aerospace companies out here seem to be doing some hiring. Today I
have a non-interview -- it's with a company to whom an acquaintance forwarded my
resume. They're not actually hiring now, but thought the resume looked very good
and they're in my town, so they invited me out. (They want to both meet me and use
me as market research to get an opinion on their product.) It won't lead directly
to a job, but should be interested, and lets me do a bit of
At rowing today, I was in an eight, so got to work on an
entirely different set of calluses than the ones I began rebuilding
Since I am smaller than the average athlete, in just about
every sport but gymnastics, horseracing (the jockeys, not the horses) and T-ball,
I have always liked the companies that specialize in woman-specific gear and
equipment. Most of them try hard to serve their customers; href="http://www.titleninesports.com/">Title 9, for example, uses real women
athletes in their catalog pictures, and tells you straight out which sports bra is
good for who doing what. Moving
Comfort, though I've had a few issues with their href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/brarants.html">sports bras either not
coming in my size or having seams that chafe, in general makes great products that
even get into the mainstream sporting goods stores. But yesterday I was browsing
through a Terry catalog and saw
something I'd never seen before.
href="http://www.terrybicycles.com">Terry specializes in women's bike gear
that they sell both directly via catalog and website and in bike stores. Their
most famous product is a bike seat with a strategically located cutout, so that
you're not putting all your weight on sensitive parts. And trust me, a mountain
bike ride on a standard seat can leave a girl feeling slightly, um, tenderized,
and not at all in the mood to see what other adventures can be had using those
body parts. Over the years, they've expanded to cover a full range of cycling gear
for women, from clothing to complete bikes. I don't know how new this latest thing
is for them, but it's something I haven't seen elsewhere: they sell cycling
clothes in plus sizes. Not only that, they sell good-looking cycling
clothes in plus sizes. Not only that, they show some of them modeled by plus-sized
women. (Plus sized model women, so they're still tall and gorgeous and probably
barely into the size range, but anyway.) I don't actually wear plus sizes (and I
suppose the fact that I even feel the need to say so shows some latent prejudice)
but I love the idea that they're catering to anyone who wants to ride, not making
assumptions that only people who are a certain shape want to do sports. Yay,
Terry. Power to the women.
I should probably note here that both
Terry and Title 9 also sell maternity sports clothing.
Junior year in college, part of the reason my grades finally went up was that I
was taking both Linear Algebra (a math course) and Finite Element Analysis (an
engineering course). It turns out that all of the latter uses techniques of the
former. I could see how the math applied to real life problems, and so I
understood it better. Similarly, I did better with computer programs when I was
modeling a real world issue than when I was just writing something meant to teach
a new programming technique.
I was taught history as a series of
unrelated events, so it was very exciting when I first saw the connection between
the Federalist Papers, written just post-Revolution, and their direct consequence
in the Civil War (states' rights issues). I love when topics heterodyne like that;
I feel I have a deeper understanding.
Right now I'm reading Patience and Fortitude, by Nicholas Basbanes, which
is subtitled, "A Roving Chronicle of Book People, Book Places, and Book Culture".
Immediately before this, I had gotten a short way into Jacques Barzun's From
Dawn to Decadence, which is subtitled, "500 years of Western Cultural Life".
I'm still in the first 100 years of that, but it is epiphanic (is that an
adjective? If not, I've just invented it.) to see the same people and movements
Barzun details popping up in their relation to books and libraries -- the
humanists of the 15th century, Erasmus as an author, the effects of the closing of
the monasteries by newly Protestant governments in England and Europe, and so on.
Sometimes books, like classes, are best understood when harnessed in tandem, and
this seems to be one of those times.
I also ought to mention, for fellow Sayers fans, that Barzun discusses Sayers in
all three of her incarnations: detective writer, theologist and theorist on the
nature of creation, and translator of Dante.
There is only one problem with this: I really ought to drop both books and go read
up on software quality processes so that I don't sound like 6 months unemployment
have turned my brain to mush, at my interview this afternoon. And a shower would
be good too. And I still need to write more about the Korea trip here.
On that last topic, I've uploaded my digital photos to albums on
both Yahoo and Ofoto -- I wanted to try both services. They turn out each to have
different strengths -- Yahoo makes it easier to upload and manipulate images,
while Ofoto has a sharing mechanism I prefer. Anyway, the images are copyright and
I don't want to share them with the entire world, but if you have a particular
interest in Korea or our trip, email me and I can send you a link to one of the
No inspiration on the poetry front, but I did get in a decent row, my first since
leaving for Korea. It was fairly rough out today though, so I spent most of the
time working on staying right side up, rather than finer points of
I've been keeping a travel diary for several years now --
the idea was originally Rudder's, but he wimped out of his almost immediately.
During the long flights to and from Korea, I've got it up to date too -- I had
been remiss lately. Writing about a trip months afterward tends to lead to much
shorter entries than if I do it during or just after the trip. Since the Korea
entry was written in real time, it ran to about 20 pages. Of course, pages in a
handwritten journal probably fit about four to a typewritten page. I started the
first volume on July 5, 1994; this trip just about finishes out the second volume.
I might be able to squeeze in a weekend trip, but that's about it.
The third volume is sitting waiting and ready on my shelf, where it
has been for a couple of years. I prefer a specific format, so I figured I had
better buy if when I found it. They're the Paperblanks series, which have a
special Smyth-sewn binding so the book lays flat when open, and they have an
eggshell-textured acid-free paper that's a pleasure to write on. The journal I'm
just finishing isn't in this series. It has wonderful paper, but not the special
binding, so it's harder to write near the bound edges. Also, it's a little smaller
than the 8"x10" Paperblanks books.
Those 20 handwritten pages on
Korea are probably the reason I haven't written in too much detail here, though I
do keep remembering, on and off, topics I want to discuss here (like href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/missbkft.html">breakfast). The trick is to
remember them when I'm actually sitting down to write. Ironically, the reason I
liked the travel diary idea to begin with was that I thought I could keep it up,
as opposed to the daily journal I knew would languish after two entries. I never
thought, back in 1994 when the Web was still new, that I would be able to keep a
daily online diary. This one is coming up on a year now, and I still haven't
missed a day except when traveling, and not always then. (Also, the two- or three-
entry days more than make up for the missed ones; I've got well over 400 total
I'm not sure what makes the difference between a diary I
want to write every day and one I have to remind myself to update, but feedback
probably has something to do with it. In a lot of ways, I prefer the idea of a
public diary. I hope that Internet archives somehow manage to survive a few
centuries, so that these diaries will be available as an historic reference.
I miss the breakfast buffet at the hotel in Seoul. Every day, it had counting down
one side, up the other, and through the middle: an omelet station (yuck); water
dumplings; dim sum (shrimp dumplings); shrimp with noodles; bacon; mashed
potatoes; sausages; 6 kinds of juice; 4 kinds of lettuce; turnip sprouts; cucumber
salad; bean curd; salad dressings; odd salad toppings; danish; croissants; pan au
chocolat; sweet breads (not sweetbreads which are organ mea; I mean just cake sort
of things); oatmeal; oxtail soup; abalone porridge; 5 kinds of kimch'i-ish things;
several cereals; pears, peaches, grapes, pineapples, strawberries, cantaloupe, and
watermelon; yogurt. And I'm sure I'm forgetting something. I did skip the things
like oxtail soup and abalone porridge, not to mention the pale sausages, but I
loved the idea of being able to have shrimp instead of eggs for
With luck, AussieCoach will let me row a single today,
because I still don't feel well enough to row at full pressure. (I keep having to
stop to blow my nose.) If so, thanks to href="http://mousepoet.diaryland.com/020216_79.html">Mousepoet via href="http://mechaieh.diaryland.com/onlyone.html">Mechaieh, it may be one of
those mornings where I work out a poem on the water, usually to forget it soon
Arggghhh! I just had a long entry deleted when I hit the Escape key by mistake. I
hate when that happens....and it's never as good the second time you write
I may have a minor sinus infection, cold or allergy rather than
just jet lag -- not too surprising, considering the radical change in climate and
all those hours in very dry airplane air. I do feel a little better today, though
I'm not sure I'll make it through practice tomorrow. Talked to Mom after her
surgery yesterday, and she's got several screws and a plate in her ankle -- all
the breaks were in the ankle, which might be nasty to heal but should make it
easier to get around meanwhile than breaks higher up the leg.
swimming in a sea of bibliophile's delight right now, an enviable place to be --
partway through Nicholas Basbane's new Patience and Fortitude, which the
library found for me right before we left, The Woollcott Reader, which I
had been in the reading before the library called, and Jacques Barzun's
This is a fast reader's
curse. Because the trip was nearly two weeks long, I suspended my moratorium on
book-buying for the duration and took along Diane Duane's The Wizard's
Dilemma; Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse and Linnets and
Valerians, Cynthia Voigt's Tree by Leaf; Sean Stewart's
Galveston; and Diana Wynne JonesŐs Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol.
I. The Voigt book wasn't up to the level of the others -- it was only okay,
though she's won a Newbery Medal for another book. The Duane book was excellent --
not up to the best in that series, but nearly. Goudge is a new author for me --
I've been hearing about her for awhile and was excited to find her books back in
print, no doubt due to J.K. Rowling's public praise. They were as good as
advertised, too -- I liked Linnets almost more than The Little White
Horse and read through both twice over. Galveston was every bit as
bizarre and engrossing as Stewart's Mockingbird and made me wish I had
gotten to Galveston's Mardi Gras back when I lived in the area. I reread the
second book in the Chrestomanci compilation (which really comes first), The
Many Lives of Christopher Chant, and liked it better this time, but haven't
gotten to the other volume yet.
All that was finished halfway through
the trip, so it was clear I needed more. I found a couple large bookstores with
English-language sections. I got The Hobbit, The Princess Diaries,
and, in another store, the aforementioned Dawn to Decadence. I've read
The Hobbit before, years ago, but not the rest of the series -- my theory
was that, if I could find those, they ought to hold me for the rest of the trip.
Never did get them though. The Princess Diaries isn't an all-time Great
Book, but it's funny and holds its teenage tone all through. I liked it better
than the movie, which we saw on video at Rudder's cousins'. The movie took major
liberties with the plot, though it did hold the same spirit and tone. Examples:
the book is entwined with its Greenwich Village setting, while the movie Mia lives
in San Francisco; the Grandmčre of the book is not nearly as sympathetic as Julie
Andrews (who is, nonetheless, magnificent); and there is NO WAY that actress would
be believable as a 9th-grader whose main concern is her flat chest (the movie
removes all but oblique references to her figure).
I do like Dawn
to Decadence, though I haven't made it very far through -- it's slow reading,
at least when you're travel-muddled. I was worried that Barzun would be as
annoying as Harold Bloom, but he's not at all, thankfully -- though, from all the
cautions at the front of the book, he is worried his readers will think he is. He
explains in detail why he is using 'man' for all humans, and why he is presenting
the logic given at the time for systems like slavery and divine right that are
abhorrent today. He doesn't come off annoyingly at all, though, at least not to
me, and not so far. I'll get back to him after returning Basbanes (who's also
interesting but slow) to the library.
Ugh. I still feel like crap. My bones ache, I have a tiny fever, and my sinuses
feel like someone has emptied a Dustbuster into them. Dry, that is, and slightly
full. This had BETTER just be jet lag that will go away, and not a cold. I have an
interview on Tuesday, and I can't afford to get sick now,
Dammit, dammit, dammit. Bleah.
Did I say the jet-lag was over? Wrong! It was lurking, hiding, waiting for
evening to attack. My bones ache, probably because I just spent over 14 hours in
bed, not all of it actually getting to sleep. I suppose this is the payback for
getting a 40-some hour-long Valentine's Day. We flew back home on the 14th, waking
up in Osan at 4:45 AM, flying out of Seoul at 11:10 AM, and landing in Phoenix at
2PM, still on the 14th, after 26 hours of travel time. It was a very long day,
filled with almost no observation of the holiday. Though I did show Rudder my href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/handsonnet.html">Hands sonnet and tell him
it was for him. He's not much of a poetry fan, but seemed to like it. Though then
again, what else could he say?
Yesterday went like this: Meet T2 and
some of his work cronies for beer at 3. Egret showed up at 4. They were drinking
from pitchers of Moosehead, and I know my glass got refilled at least 4-5 times.
Get home around 6. Watch the Olympics, passing in and out of sleep, until nearly
8. Get woken up at 8:30 by my brother calling to say Mom had fallen downstairs and
broken her leg, and Dad was taking her to the hospital. (They live over 2000 miles
away, so I didn't have to rush to join him.) Get woken up at 10 by my brother
calling with more details. Wake up at midnight, along with Rudder. Indulge in the
usual sleep-provoking activities, unsuccessfully (well, unsuccessfully in that
they didn't get us to sleep, anyhow.) Stay awake until after 2. Wake up at 5, and
again at 7, and again at 8:30. Finally get out of bed, with all my bones aching
and my mouth cottony-dry. Get dressed and stumble downstairs for tea.
I have the feeling today will not be a productive day. I may come
back later to write more observations of Korea, though.
We got to sleep at around 6 last night, and slept until Rudder the masochist got
up for rowing at 4 (well, I slept on and off until almost 7) so I think the jet
lag is almost over. I'm completely unpacked -- Rudder got his done last night,
which inspired me so that I actually unpacked all my stuff instead of leaving it
sitting around as usual. And I even have my laundry in progress. Not as far along
as I thought, though, since I've just realized I didn't turn on the dryer.
The job front looks good, too -- I got several calls while I was
away, returned a few of them, and should really be making more calls instead of
doing this. I have another interview set up for Tuesday already -- the job sounds
great; the only drawback would be way too long a commute. It's right next to a
small airport, though, so maybe I'll just get a little used plane and fly to work,
like Rudder's always saying I should do.
Now, back to Korea
The Folk Village we went to on Tuesday was very well done. They
didn't appear to have anything special going on for the lunar new year, though; in
fact, the crowds were bigger but they may have had fewer living history demos than
usual. At least, there were fewer than I expected. This was the first chance we'd
gotten to see the smaller thatched-roof houses ordinary Koreans used to live in.
We'd seen several represented in museum pictures and dioramas, but even in the
small towns near we drove through on Monday and Tuesday, they seem to be a thing
of the past. Richer people had tile roofs, similar to those in the palaces and
The oddest thing about Korean architecture was its
uniformity. Every palace and every temple we saw was decorated in the same style,
with the same exact colors. Here's one of the best, Gyangbokkung in Seoul, with a
close-up of its roof decoration:
"http://riseagain.net/dichroic/images/gyangbokkang.jpg" border = 0>
"http://riseagain.net/dichroic/images/gyang_roof.jpg" border =
They were all like that, with stylized lotus tiles on the end of
the roof beams and the same shade of green used everywhere.
good to see Rudder's cousins again, too. They put us up for four days, giving us a
taste of military life and an insight into life with three children. In return, we
dragged them out to a temple and the Folk Village, things they hadn't yet done
through the inertia of family life and chores. I think we wore out the kids, and
probably the parents too. These are the ones I've mentioned before. They had
stayed with us a few times, when they flew out of our local airport. Staying with
them gave us a better view of the girls --they're not ideal children by any means,
and the younger one especially has a distinctly me-centered view of the world. On
the other hand, that's probably par for the course at four years old, and the
parents have really done a wonderful job getting the kids to be reasonably
mannerly and not sulky. They're worried about the baby, who's not yet talking at
one and a half. It's early to worry, of course, but he does seem to be fairly
unresponsive for his age. They're planning to have tubes put in his ears, which
It was odd to be in a country where people are so, so
polite to visiting Americans. Possibly that's because the Korean War is still so
strongly felt (technically, it's still on; they never signed a peace but only an
armistice). Anyway, people were very welcoming and helpful. People from Rudder's
company who have lived there have actually found it easier to deal with than
Europe, because shops are everywhere and are open late and on weekends. We had a
fairly easy time getting around, though having a hotel concierge was certainly a
large factor in that. Also, all of the public signs, on highways, in subways, and
everywhere else, were in English as well as Korean, and often Japanese, too.
Announcements on the subways were in all three languages. I'm not sure whether
this was because of the number of current tourists, a holdover from the Seoul
Olympics, or in anticipation of the upcoming soccer World Cup, which will be split
between Japan and Korea this month.
Korea had never been especially
high on my list of places to see; I went because I had the free time and it was an
opportunity to go at very low cost. I don't believe in missing opportunities like
that. I would recommend it, though, to anyone with a yen for travel.
We're back, but still groggy. More tomorrow.
We're looking forward to going home tomorrow, though the 26 hours of travel time
won't be tons of fun. It will be good to get back to our own house though, and our
own bed, and soon, hopefully, an own job for me.
The War Museum was very well done, but we spent at least an hour longer there than
I'd have preferred. I was getting depressed (both by the tragedy of the Korean War
and the general idea of history since the Bronze Age as a development of new and
better ways to kill people). Rudder seemed interested in the minutiae of each
service however. It was nearly 4PM by the time we got to the National Museum, but
that turned out to be not all that exciting anyhow, so it was worth
On Saturday, we took a tour of the DMZ, which was definitely
worth it -- I'll write that up in more detail later. Sunday, we went to a temple
in the morning, then moved over to stay with Rudder's cousins in a small town
south of Seoul. We spent a two hours driving the thirty miles there, due to the
traffic induced by everyone's driving to their home town for the Lunar New
On Sunday, the whole lot of us went to Gyaeryongsan National
Park, an hour and a half trip that took us nearly twice that long due to the New
Year's last wave of travelers. Fortunately the kids (6, 4, and 1.5) were all good
travelers, and the number of us in the vehicle allowed us to use the bus lane,
which sped things up a little. Today is the New Year itself, so we're hoping the
traffic has died down. We're going to a Folk Village to see traditional lifeways,
hoping there will be celebrations of the holiday there.
Off to amuse
Yesterday I went to another market, this one for antiques and crafts, called
Insadong; another palace, this one much simpler in design but having some
furniture in the buildings, and a Buddhist temple. I didn't go in any of the
buildings, though, not wanting to intrude. We had Japanese food for dinner, but
since this is still Korea, it was served complete with
Today, Rudder and I are off to the War Museum and the
National Museum. He's here, so I have to run.
The Internet Cafe I'm in is called Laputa; I haven't figured out whether that's be
cause it sounds vaguely like 'computer' or whether the Gulliver reference is
deliberate. If the latter, it's extremely clever, given the engrossing nature of
websurfing, but somehow I suspect the former is more likely.
Koreans tend to walk on the left side of the street, like Australians, even though
they drive on the right, like all the non-British Commonwealth
Since last writing, I've been to the convention center and
associated shopping arcade and the Itaewon market district. I'm saving the
National Museum and the War Museum for Friday, when Rudder is free. Today I'm off
to see the Namdaemun market and the city's south gate, and if the weather clears
up, the Seoul tower. It's something like the third highest tower in the world, but
that may be including the mountain it's on -- cheating, really. If the misty
clouds decide to rain on me (and the rest of Seoul, of course), I may just give up
and head back to the hotel to check out their fancy afternoon tea. When in Seoul,
do as the English do, eh what?
So far, my Korean is limited to yes
(ye), no (anyo), thank you (kamsa hamnida, with the words slurred together into
something more like kamsamnida) and "Suseyo", which is apparently something like
"Hello, can I help you?" Yes, it's a good shopping city. Off to spend more money
PS. I checked my messages and found two from recruiters. I
called them back and it sounds like one may be able to get my clearance extended,
which would remove my looming job-search deadline. Phew.
Just a bare bones entry, as I'm using a computer in an Internet cafe in Seoul. It
has an annoying plastic overlay that makes it very difficult to see the English
letters in the corner of each key (I don't touch type). The keys also have Korean
letters. Rudder is off at a business dinner -- Seoul's Gangnam-gu neighborhood is
both safe to walk around at night and invigorating, with crowds, lights, shops,
and sidewalk stalls.
It took us over 24 hours travel to get here, so
I'm still a bit jet-lagged. It's good for me to be out here instead of back at the
hotel dozing off. Yesterday we went to see the Gyeongbokgung palace and the
National Folk Museum. Another day I'll return there to see the National Museum,
but by late afternoon I was fading fast. We collapsed in the room and ordered room
Today Ted's cousins came to town and we went with them to
the Changyonggung palace, after which we went to a bulgogi restaurant. This is
meat grilled at the table and rolled up in a lettuce leaf with various other
condiments and pickled vegetables. Ted's cousin G wimped out so it was us, his
wife K, and their three children. The girls more or less refused to eat much but
rice. I liked the food, Rudder and K liked some of it, and the waitress kept
whisking the baby off to stuff treats into him. Babies are a major attraction
More another time,