March 31, 2002

not a girly girl

You know what's wrong with Sundays? The library is closed, that's what. Rudder and
I listened to my last book on tape yesterday on the way to and from the property,
and I can't go get more today. Fortunately, I have Antonia Fraser's Kings and
Queens of England here as emergency stash, having traded a duplicate CD plus
some additional cash in at Barnes and Noble.

Went flying again today;
one more flight and I think I'll be ready for my biannual. I was feeling a lot
more confident today. I also worked well with this instructor though he was a
little sniffy when I didn't want him to take over the controls without telling me
what he was about to do (I thought he was going to do a spin or something, because
we'd been talking about stalls and why they scare me). Otherwise, though, he
didn't do most of the usual annoying CFI tricks like explaining something further
after I'd shown I knew it, or being generally stupid. He's one of the few who has
clearly thought about what he teaches and how he does it. The only other annoying
thing was that he wanted to reinforce points that a lot of people get wrong,
regardless of whether I get them wrong. For example, he kept talking about
not getting too aggressive with the controls, which led me to think I was doing
that when I wasn't. Still, I might work with him if I do go on for an instrument

Oh yes, and I promised to talk more about the latest 'do.
This time I got Cool Salon Guy to cut it good and short -- we both agree it looks
better that way, but he has a tendency to want to leave it a trifle longer in back
and on the sideburns in order to keep it more feminine. Unfortunately, the latter
also leaves it tending to stick out, which makes it look like I have tufts of ear
hair -- not a feminine look at all, to my mind. I also let him dye it in a way we
had been discussing for a little while: just the tips are bleached a slightly
reddish blonde. It's not bad looking, though if I do it again it will need to be a
slightly less brassy color. The effect is almost like a tortoiseshell cat -- they
also have fur that's dark at the roots and in places light at the tips. That's
what I think anyway. Rudder says it reminds him more of a teenage boy. I don't
think he has any great desire to experiment with teenaged boys, but the effect on
me doesn't seem to bother him any. Besides, if he were into girly girls, he'd have
left me long ago.

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


I'm a little reluctant to add an entry, because yesterday I wrote on something
very important to me so if you haven't read href="">yesterday's entry, go do
that first. I know it's a strange thing to be passionate about, but that feeling,
that mythos and magic and Dreamtime are still here, is to me one of the things
that absolutely literally make live worth living. As I've said before, blame it on
years of reading F&SF, but there has to be something to keep that moment of
transtion from magic on the page to mundanity when you close the book from causing
paralyzing depression. Now, on to today's bit of depression.

I was a bit distressed, earlier, to reading a blog in which I sometimes disagree
with the author but generally find her reasoning sound. (Disclaimer: Of course
it's her journal and she can say anything she wants. I'm only reporting its effect
on me, which is one reason I'm doing it here and not in her comments.) She made a
statement along the lines, "You do not really support our troops (no matter what
you say) unless you without hesitation would say....." The exact point raised is
almost irrelevant to my reaction. Establishing a condition for "support" somehow
rubs me in the same love-it-or-leave it way of the people who try to define
patriotism as consisting only of their particular brand of idolatry. In this case
that certainly was not the writer's intent, and in fact I suspect she'd say that
the fact I can't agree means that I don't understand her point. I do, I think, but
I can't make any logical statement about this war without hesitation because my
basic postulates on it are so unclear. No, wait, I can say one thing: I do think
Saddam is evil. But what do I think we should have done? Uh ... uh ... uh

I'm beginning to believe that we have no business being there
unless the majority of Iraqi citizens want us to be. The next question obviously
is, is that condition true? It is, according to Brig. Gen. Brooks. It is not,
according to Iraq's speakers. Of the two, I am far more inclined to believe our
generals, and I'm not weighing the opinions of 4000 suicide bombers from outside
Iraq at all. But is it true, or would we just like it to be true? Uh ... uh ... uh

I am also finding that the longer this goes on, the less
impressed I am with the current administrations, some of whose pecadillos are
nicely summarized by Teresa
Nielsen Hayden
. I keep hearing echoes of, "And it's 1, 2, 3, what are we
fighting for? DOn't ask me, I don't give a damn, Next's stop's Iraw and Iran..." I
was stunned to hear of a survey this morning that reported that 66% of Americans
think Mr. Bush is doing a good job. Where do they find these people? They're not
anyone I've spoken to, even in this conservative state.

But yes, I
support our troops. I especially support their right not to be in at risk unless
there's an overwhelmingly good reason for it, something worth dying for. And I
support their right to be managed in a way consistent with preserving their lives
whenever possible and allowing them to do their job effectively.

I really wish all those Viet Nam-era songs would quit playing in my head....

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (1)

March 30, 2002


Appropriately enough for the weekend of two religion's major spring holidays, we
spent today buying and planting trees. It is so good being on the property up
north, where when you breathe, you smell pine trees instead of car exhaust and
when in one's taking off on the adjacent runway, the hum of the suburb is entirely
missing. We planted 7 trees: Colorado spruce, Austrian pine (spruce?) and
Ponderosa pine seedlings, of varying sizes. Not quite Gerald Wimsey planting oaks,
but a statement of faith in our futures there, anyway.

Dinner yesterday went smoothly; the hiatus between courses weren't too long and
everything was more or less hot when it should be. And, mirabile dictu, I actually
remembered everything and didn't find a side dish in the fridge or the oven that I
Had forgotten to serve. I even remembered the parsley I had minced to garnish the
new potatoes. Not that there was any reason to fuss over a dinner for four people
(though I cooked enough for six or eight) but still, T2 and Egret are almost the
only people I know who seem to think I'm a wonderful gourmet cook, so I have my
rep to maintain. My only regret is that we never did really end up talking about

I also managed to do a bit of shopping. I didn't find the shoes I was looking for,
but did bring home a Haggadah, four tops for work (all on sale), a denim mini that
is emphatically not for work, and a belt. I still want the shoes, some brown
pants, and maybe a pair of jeans, but I may have to get all that online. Rudder's
been making comments like, "You sure are buying a lot lately," but its my money
and I'm brushing up my wardrobe for work, after an extended period of not being
able to spend much. Though I probably shouldn't be spending much now, after
assuming a car payment (and making a downpayment) last week and forking over
$200 for trees today. Yeah, right, like I won't go buy the pants anyway.

I also dyed my hair again yesterday, but I think I'll leave further description
for tomorrow.

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

March 29, 2002

bashana haba'a

Tonight, at my half-assed (and late) Seder, we will not be doing all the
traditional prayers, leaning to one side, leaning to the other side, spilling wine
on the tablecloth to represent the plagues in Egypt, or having the cats recite the
Four Questions. (If you're wondering, they're all variants on the One Big
Question, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" Now you know.) We
will be drinking wine and eating matzah, though, and I will serve horseradish
(maror, the bitter herb) and charoses (a mixture of apples, nuts and wine,
representing the mortar the Hebrew slaves had to lay bricks with.) We will also
hamatzo ball soup, which has nothing to do with the ritual of the holiday, but
which is traditional nonetheless.

And even though we will not be
following the traditional order of the service, we will likely end up discussing
the Exodus, which is what the Seder is all about. The point of remembering this
for so long bears repeating, because it has so clearly been forgotten by Israel
and so many others throughout the world. The point is to remember that we were
strangers in a strange land. We were welcomed as honored guests and treated well.
A couple of centuries later, we were treated as slaves and cruelly oppressed. And
that "we" is another vital part of the Seder: we need to think of it as if we were
there, not some distant ancestor. Because we could be there: the same things are
going on today and it could be any of us. We've been there. We know what it was
like. And because of that, we need to treat other strangers we encounter with
kindness and respect. We owe it to those who treated us well; we owe it to
ourselves to be better than those who treated us badly. We are better than they
were, but only if we act so. We have no other claim to be more moral just because
it's us and not them; we have to earn our moral standing by our own actions. You
will realize that I am not speaking only of Jews here.

This also is
why my throat closes up when I think of the end of the Seder. The traditional
ending is, "Bashana haba'a b'yerushalayim, next year in Jerusalem", meaning, happy
as we are to be able to hold this Seder here, next year, may we be able to cease
wandering and hold our Seder in our true home. Well, I'm a bad Jew. I have no
desire to move to Jerusalem. I would like to visit, but my home is in America, a
country where you can't be quarantined for your ethnicity. Jerusalem has gotten
along without me for three thousand years and I don't think it will suffer for
missing my presence. My wish is instead, "Bashana haba'a shalom b'yerushalayim",
which is probably not correct Hebrew, but which I intend to mean, "Next year may
there be peace in Jerusalem." Next year may Arabs and Jews see their shared
heritage rather than their differences. Next year may they see that war in such a
small country can only hurt both sides. Next year may they build, together,
instead of destroying; may they ask "How can we live together?" instead of "How
can I get you out of here?" Next year, respect instead of hatred, peace instead of
war, life and learning instead of death. Next year, next year, next year.

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

daily rant

Not too bad: 8:30 AM on my day off and I've already got a chocolate torte baking
in the over, and matzo balls boiling. And I've already rowed 10 K and showered. I
also made chicken soup, but that was last night so it doesn't count. Yes, I am
being disgustingly energetic. I'm also taking this half-assed Seder way too
seriously, as I can tell because I dreamed a conversation last night in which
Rudder and I discussed the problem of baking the torte when the brisket's in the
oven. (Solution: do the torte first, see above.) We'd already had pretty much the
same conversation last week, which classifies the dream as not only a waste of
perfectly good REM time when I could have dreamt of making love to Mr. Darcy, but
redundant as well.

Having the day off not only lets me cook like
Martha Stewart's maniac evil twin (redundancy again) but also update here from
home, which means I don't have to watch what I say. I interpret the company's
Internet policy to mean it's ok to update my diary on my own time (i.e. lunch)
but I do worry about their scanning what comes in and goes out so I tend to avoid
the use of foul language and other topics they might have flagged, just in case
Big Brother is watching (and I wait to read href="">Badsnake at home).

Which is
a long-winded way of explaining why I'm about to offend half the people who read

Why in God's name do Christians always feel like they have to
advertise? Can't they just have their beliefs and worship as they please without
broadcasting? Even when they were a hidden, persecuted sect, they scratched
symbols on the walls of catacombs; now they're in the majority, there's everything
from the lighted cross on top of the mountain overlooking my lake to the fishies
on cars and business ads. I wouldn't mind the cross, which I presume is there for
Easter, except that it's one more damned bit of light pollution. If the fish on
cars are supposed to advertise that the humans within are highly moral, I must say
their driving doesn't tend to bear that out. In fact, so much the opposite is true
that I tend to avoid businesses who put fish on their ads in case they're run by
the same nasty people. It also seems highly unlikely that the sight of a simple
fish pictoglyph is going to cause anyone to suddenly convert. As best I can tell,
the whole thing reduces to an exercise in labeling to reinforce the "us-ness" of a
group, and by extension to cast everyone else as "them". Pfui.

on to offend a completely different group. If, as I keep reading in various
diaries, it's finally becoming possible for fat chicks to buy flattering, well-
fitting, and appropriate clothing, when do the rest of us get our turn? As an
athlete (more or less), I do not have the same shape I used to; I'm still more or
less straight up and down, but my arms are bigger, my thighs are bigger, and my
pecs stand out more. I can't wear clothes that are designed for eighteen-year-olds
who are apparently formed of strings and rubber bands, but I can't wear clothes
designed for curvy female figures either. I'm sick of arm holes that cut into my
underarms (especially in exercise clothing, whose makers ought to know better).
I'm even more sick and tired of stores that don't carry petite sizes; for once, I
would like a pair of low rise jeans that are really low in the rise. It's annoying
to know that if I were taller, I could try on J. Crew clothing to find what was
flattering, but as a short person, I have to order from the catalog. And J. Crew
is far ahead of most retailers, who don't have a petite line at all, mail order or
not. Gap has the strange solution of selling jeans in three lengths, where only
the leg lengths change but not everything else. This makes if possible for me to
find jeans that are the right length but that still have odd buckling and bulging
because the band at my waist is only supposed to come up to my hips.

Incidentally, as someone who worries about what I eat, I agree
entirely with everything Caerula said
about how much harder it is to find healthy food. I do get a yen for grease
occasionally and wouldn't want it to be impossible to get a burger and fries at
the drive-though, but I wish I had the choice of healthy food that was as easy to
get. I also wish I had the choice of smaller portion sizes; it's irritating to
have to pay for twice as much food as I can eat. Burger King deserves some praise
here, since as far back as I remember, they've been the only one to offer a burger
with actual toppings in a small size. Wendy's deserves even more praise, since
they do offer the option of semi-healthy foods like veggie pitas and baked
potatoes. (I suppose all the toppings are loaded with fat,

Done ranting. I don't ask for a lot. I just want a world
designed around me, instead of larger, skinnier, or greasier-intestined people. Is
that too much?

Posted by dichroic at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2002

to match or not to match

Here's an interesting dilemma. I've been following this one diary, and every time
I read it, I realize what a perfect match the writer would be for my friend
Gymrat. They're compatible in age, location (more or less), and gender preference.
He doesn't share her consuming passion, but he does understand very well the idea
of consuming passions in general, having what he refers to as an obsessive sort of
personality. They have similar attitudes towards their friends and families. More
than that, they share the same worldview. They would understand each other because
their minds work the same way.

The reason it's a quandary is because
I don't know whether being alike is a good basis for a relationship or not. I
suspect it is for some personalities and isn't for others, and I don't know
whether these two are with the some or the others. But I think I may tell Gymrat
to start reading this diary, and let them figure it out.

I have
tomorrow off from work (yay) though I don't get paid (boo). I'll be spending the
day shopping and cooking, because we're having T2 and Egret over for sort of an
ersatz Seder. "Ersatz" because it will include no Seder service and no Jews but
me. But there will be matzo balls, and maybe even some discussion of the Exodus.
Remembering that is the real point of a Seder, after all.

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

Ho for the weekend

I do like Arts and Letters Daily, thankfully
resuscitated after a brief and temporary demise. I'm not interested in every
article they link, or course, but where else can you find the range, from essays
like this
on why full-out attachment parenting is not perfect for everyone, to href=",,7-612909,00.html">this one, on
giving things up for Lent and, a topic I've often addressed here, how regrettable
it is that we seem to be equating physical fitness with moral virtue these days.

(And notice my artful segue in that paragraph, from the theme of
Easter to a story on Lent. Pretty good for a Jewish girl, huh?)

also tend to equate fiscal responsibility with moral fitness, which is probably a
bit closer to the mark. Despite that, my plans for the weekend include copious
amounts of shopping. It's proabaly not the best idea, considering we're off to
Europe in a less than two weeks, but I'm running low on mascara and Body Butter
(the latter is all the 'Bix's fault)
and too many of my shoes are too high heeled to teach in. I'm forced to it, simply
forced. And I still need to consider what else I might need for the trip;
thankfully, I finally remembered to book our cat-sitter last night and visas are
not required.

Sing Ho! for the weekend!

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

March 27, 2002

mixed reflexes and two poems

I've worked here just over a month now. For some strange reason, I seem to have developed mistaken reflexes, and I'm not quite sure what could cause this to happen. Granted, the place is a cubicle farm with a strong resemblance to a rat maze (especially at my height), but it's not the fact that everything looks alike that's throwing me off, because then I would be making new and different wrong turnings, instead of the same ones every time. For example, when coming from the west, I often try to turn into the cube before mine and have to catch myself. (I don't know what the guys in that cube are thinking of me by now.) I never do that when I'm coming from the other direction. And my instincts think that one person I consult frequently is on the end row, when really he's one aisle in. The "streets" don't look at all alike, and I never make that mistake in the opposite direction.

I would understand this if things had changed, but I've been in the same place since I moved here. I don't know if I had mistaken impressions at first that somehow got burned into my neural paths, or if I'm conflating this area with a previous similar cubicle farm (and the coworker with a similar ditto) or what.

It feels odd, like having phantom pain in an amputated limb, except that in this case the limb never was there. And it doesn't hurt. But, you know, aside from that, just alike. Or not.

Lunar Proem

This morning the moon hung low and full
And I sculled up the moonpath
The only sound the catch of my oars
(And the sound of cars, because
The city has no respect for romance.)

I stayed along the moonpath,
Watching the luminescent ripples from my boat
(Until I had to turn to miss a bridge, because
Real life is no respecter of romance.)

I turned then, and the road of light
Stayed with me
At an angle, transfixing my scull
Like Eros' arrow piercing a heart.

The moonpath is a creature of breezes.
When the water calmed, Diana's reflection
Contracted to a dot, an oval, a short line of ovals.
Changing as I rived the water.

I turned my back on her, and watched
The ripples in my stern wave
Had a fainter, milky glow. Lights on the bridge
Tried to ape the moon, but gave me instead
A tessellated shimmer around my stern.
When I turned back, the moon had sunk lower
Enlarged, and turned the color of amber
Or weak tea or old parchment. She sank and deepened further,
And I watched for the dawn.
That one was mine. This one I stole from Row2K, because the author has said it better than I can, but because I'm an honest thief, I'll note that the writer's name is Carole Luke.

Night River

Each night I dream about that rising river.
Each night, my body curls at the catch,
and my blades drop neatly down, square and silent
into black water. My legs push hard against
the wide river's current. The bow splits a darkness
so deep, it threatens to swallow my shimmering, moonlit hull,
now a gleaming white sliver, skimming, sliding headlong
into this night river unwrapping itself around me.

And each night, as I soar through the water, my oars
suddenly wings, folding, gathering, spreading
wide up into the breaking dawn, the light gently wakes
the sleeping land where, tender and calm,
you sleep unconscious of time, the start of a smile
shaping your morning, the day holding its breath
before it unfurls ferociously, like its sister darkness
has done, yielding my shell back onto to your land.
Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2002

Monday, Monday, so good to me

One thing I've noticed about traffic to this diary: barring other factors, like my
working on the template and checking it every two minutes, traffic here peaks
toward the beginning of the workweek. I don't know if my readers like Monday or
hate it, but they do like to read diaries then.

I'm reading a book on
software processes for a class I'll be taking (at work) and I noticed something
odd; I actually recognized lots of the names in the reference bibliography at the
end of each chapter. That doesn't happen in any other field except maybe women's
studies, and in that case it's largely because the professor of the one class I
took gave us several of the seminal works in the field to read. I've even met at
least one of these authors. (He didn't like me, I don't think; my questions were
insufficiently adulatory.)

I will admit, though, that the only
referenced book that I've actually read all the way through is Zen and the Art
of Motorcycle Maintenance
, which seems a peculiarly apt work to quote in a
book that lays forth a process meant to improve quality. Maybe I ought to reread
it; I have a hunch it may be one of those that is profound when read at 18 and
annoying at nearly twice that age, but maybe I'm wrong. The other possibility is
that it's one of those that has different levels to offer to different readers.
The only thing I'm sure of is that I won't be reading the same book now that I did
in 1985.

Of, and I got to drive the new car in today. Driving it, I hardly ever stopped to
think that I was in a different and unfamiliar vehicle, so Honda does make good on
their boast that "everything is in exactly the right place". And I do like
the moonroof.

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

"this big!"

One friend of mine, when she began dating her now-husband, had Rule One laid down
to her immediately: never, never go like this [holds hands about five
inches apart] at a bar. No matter what it is you're talking about: fish,
waiting times, the length of a movie, no matter. If you must gesture, always hold
hands far, far apart.

I presume indicating sizes with thumb and
forefinger is even more strongly verboten.

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

March 25, 2002

Second, third, and fourth thoughts

I'm having second thoughts about this car thing, especially after calling my
insurance company this morning to find that the little bugger will cost ore to
insure than my truck. My four-wheel-drive, cost-$5K-more-than-the-car, likely-
to-be-taken-offroad truck. (Of course, the fact that it's six years old may make
some difference here.)

I am not happy about this, especially given
the down payment from my unemployment-depleted bank account and the fact that I'm
supposed to spend the next year or so industriously building up said account, not
to mention the lump payment I may have to make when I turn the car back in for
going over the allotted mileage amount. I may be able to get out of that if the
car is worth more than the stated residual amount, as seems likely, but I confess
I didn't quite understand that part.

On the pro side, it will be nice
to have a zippy little car for times when I don't actually need the carrying
capacity of my truck, and it will be much better for things like grocery shopping
and transporting more than 2 people. Also, when i did a bit of mental math I
realized that a third car not only sounds less ludicrous than the third boat we're
talking of buying (actually the 3.5-th boat: we currently have the old Julien
trainer that's not really rowable at the moment, the Hudson single I generally
row, and half of the Hudson double that Rudder and T2 bought together) but it's
not much more expensive. (Addendum: Yes, it is. I was considering only the
payments and forgot about the downpayment. Sigh. This is why when I do important
math, I don't do it mentally.)

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


I don't know what to do about rowing. My dues are paid to the club through the end
of this month. After that, I will just be rowing on my own. The problem is that
the boys, Rudder and T2, also want to row singles at least once a week. I could
row their double on that day, but only if I can find a partner to row it with
(Egret's out these days for sort of health reasons). And there's some possibility
of T2 and Egret moving away for a year or so, for his job, in which case Rudder
and I get to fight over the single, unless he can find another partner for the
double. Or we could buy another single. We're leaning toward this option, having
the tax return to do it with, but if we buy a new boat, it takes a couple months
to get it made. Bleah. And to think I've been wanting to row on my own just
because it's less complex than rowing with a group.

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

March 24, 2002

new car

How bizarre -- I nearly forgot my entry here 2 days in a row. It's been a busy
day, though -- mostly just enjoying RudderÕs company, but I should also mention
that I bought (well, leased) a car. It's a Honda Civic, with gas mileage that will
make my commute a bit more ecologically responsible and handling that should (I
hope) keep it fairly pleasant. It's a bland beige-y sort of color (they call it
Titanium Metallic, but that's just the usual car maker delusions of coolness).
There weren't too many colors to choose from, though, and the others weren't much
better. I will miss being able to see my truck across a parking lot (of course, at
work, first I have to determine that it's not one of the other three dark
red Tacoma trucks, so just seeing it isn't all that much of an accomplishment). I
get to pick the car up tomorrow, after they install a cassette player under the
CD. Yes, I have paid an extra $285 just so I can go one listening to
audiobooks, since the lib has more on tape than on CD. They'd better keep
expanding the collection, is all I have to say. (I didn't really pay it. This
particular car, though new, had been on the lot a while, so I got them to throw it
in. But I would have paid, if I'd had to.)

And why is it that my cat
thinks he can sneak onto my lap while I'm typing on the computer without my
noticing? The fingers may be flying, but the lap is still attached to the rest of
me. It's really very funny to see him attempting to be inconspicuous. He has no
talent for it at all.

Finally, thanks to href="">Natalie for her recommendation of the hilarious
Eyre Affair. How can you not love a book that contains the line, "I'm not
mad, I'm just ...differently moraled"? Or one whose characters have names like
Braxton Hicks (he doesn't seem to contract much, if you're wondering), Thursday
Next (the heroine) and Oswald Mandias (called Ozzy by his friends, I presume)?

Posted by dichroic at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2002

no trains

Oops. Almost forgot to write today's entry. It hasn't been all that exciting a day
anyhow. Flying this morning was cut a bit short; I found a couple of broken tie
wraps in the engine of the Cessna 152 I was scheduled to fly at 8AM and elected
not to take it out, having been thoroughly indoctrinated with horror stories of
FOD (Foreign Object Debris in the engine) damage during my time at Boeing. They
had not other 152s free, so I ended up flying a 172 instead. Preflighting the 152
had taken some time, of course, and we had to have the 172 back by 10, so it was a
short flight. For someone with a propeller in her logo, I have a ridiculously low
number of hours logged; I'm still well under 100 hours. I really should go get an
instrument rating; just the amount of flying time to get it would make me a better
and more confident pilot. Anyway, it was a windy day, with a fairly substantial
crosswind across the runway, so my landings today were not things of beauty, nor a
joy forever.

After that, I went to the mall where I exchanged a CD my
uncle had given me (because I already have O Brothers, Where Art Thou?).
This may be the first (and probably last) time either of us has ever given the
other a CD that's on a best-seller list. Most of the music we both like is not the
sort of thing that's been played on any radio station since roughly the advent of
rock 'n' roll. I traded it (and some additional plastic) for the audiobook version
of Antonia Frasier's Lives of the Kings and Queens of England so I can
broaden my education as I drive. Unfortunately, I think it only goes back to
William I; I'd have liked to learn more about Alfred and Æthelred, Hardicanute and

A local car dealer had a tent sale at the mall, so I
browsed their used cars and realized that what I really need for my commute to
work is a Civic, so that I don't have to refuel three times a week. Much as I love
my truck, it is not the appropriate vehicle for my nearly 80-mile round-trip daily
commute. They had a Civic EX I really liked, except that it had a rear-window tint
so dark as to impede visibility and an arm rest that can't be used when the seat
is far enough forward that I can reach the pedals. The tint can be removed, but
the arm rest problem is permanent.

I decided to drop in at a Honda
dealership to see if they had more used Civics, which is when I realized that it
makes very little sense to buy a 1999 car for $14,500 when a new one, same
model, still with the moonroof I'd liked but with the arm rest design flaw fixed,
is about $16000. I don't normally do this, but since the main purpose of the
car is to commute to work, and since I'm a contractor and can't stay there for
more than 2 years unless I convert to a direct employee, I think a lease might be
the appropriate option. I may try to drag Rudder there tomorrow to make sure the
car is comfortable for him too, since he's much taller than I am. And to make sure
the whole thing isn't a stupid idea.

Speaking of Rudder, he will be
home in only a few hours. Yay!!

Posted by dichroic at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2002

sailing up, sailing down in the dry washes

The b'y is still abroad but the felidae are gathered 'round. The night is warm --
not just relatively warm but really warm. I have the back door open and the
hibiscus, the purple vaguely hibiscus-like flowers that I think are weeds, and the
jasmine are all in bloom. The scent of the jasmine is drifting in and the cats are
wandering in and out. I had sushi (well, supermarket variety) for dinner and there
will be fresh-made popcorn for dessert as soon as I leave the

Sitting alone here in the middle of the desert, I've got a
whole set of sailing music to keep me company tonight. It's even a narrower
classification than that really; what I have here is specifically schooner music.
(Acc. to the dicker, it's a schooner if it has fore and mainmasts and if any lower
masts have fore-and-aft sails.) Courtesy of the gift cert the bro' gave me for my
birthday, and of's store of obscure music, I have a CD from the Maine
band Schooner Fare and Gordon Bok's CD Schooners. The former is playing
now; when I switch CDs I won't be typing on the computer, because Bok's lyrics,
including those he borrows from others, are always worth full attention. He's got
one that's really more about rowing than sailing; I'll have to learn that one if
the tune measures up to the words. Quite likely, given some of his other

I have been tired and a little droopy since Wednesday
or so. What I really need is a nice quiet evening with not much to do, and lots of
sleep, and I think I'll finally get it. I may even be ready to fly by the
scheduled time tomorrow.

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

Where is everybody?

The newest thing I've learned: how to do rollovers. Point your mouse to those
airplanes at the top of this page. Cool, huh? I do need to edit the artwork a
little further, though.

A while ago, I came up with the idea that
Rudder and I should use the crossed-oars-and-prop symbol as our logo. After all,
monograms are difficult when you have different last names, and this is more
descriptive anyway. Whenever we get to design and build our dream house, I'd like
to have that design painted on the mail box and done in stained glass over the
front door. What you see here is the initial public debut of the symbol. Those oar
blades, with the Arizona flag painted on them, are the very ones with which I
rowed 10683 meters this morning. (Well, the ones pictured are probably Rudder's,
since I snagged the image out of a photo of him and T2, but the three of us all
have the same blade design. Close enough.)

And speaking of those 10
km I rowed, here's something I don't understand. I was in a single. There were
also three eights, a four, and a double out this morning. (Rudder is in Europe on
business and T2 stopped because his knees were having problems, so they don't
figure into this.) Boats with more people in them have much more power; thus, an
eight should be way faster than a single. (Presuming equal strength and skills. I
saw T2 zoom right past an eight just two days ago.) And yet none of those boats
passed me in two laps around the lake. We all started at different times, but I'd
expect the eights, at least, to be able to lap me. It's certainly not because I'm
fast; I have a little Speedcoach, much like a bike computer, that tells me
otherwise. It may just be that in a single, there's no need to stop and wait for
anyone else; I stop for a swig of water than get back to it, without having to
have a coach catch up or wait for other people to be ready. I don't know. All I
know is, whatever all those other people, it can't be rowing hard the whole time.

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

March 21, 2002

need feedback

No, really, I'm not just trying to be like href="">Geni. Though href="">Nataliee did have some effect, since she was
complaining the dark layout hurt her eyes. I've been meaning to do a new layout
for a while, because I was getting bored. It's just been hung up because I had no
time to work on the graphics, pitiful as they are.

I'm still not
entirely satisfied, so suggestions are welcome. My HTML skills aren't top-notch,
but they are better than my graphic design skills, so if you have design ideas,
let me know those especially. Though I do realize I'm talking to the same people
who never told me that my mailto: link has been broken for months, apparently.

I'm thinking maybe I should make those airplanes at the top (they
take you back and forward) into rollover popups so their function is more
apparent. What else?

Incidentally, the asterisk thingies are crossed oars, quartered with a four-bladed
propeller. (In case it's not immediately obvious!)

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


This morning, the top I was going to wear to the gym didn't seem to be with the
rest of my gym clothes. I looked around a bit, didn't see it, and figured it must
be in the laundry or something. I put on something else, drove to the gym (I
know, I know, but it's not like I run on the treadmill after I get there), went to
the locker room, opened a locker more or less at random. I always use one of the
full-length lockers, but which one I pick depends mostly on which one isn't
already being used. Anyway, I opened the door, went to hang up my clothes …. And
spotted my top, hanging there on the hook. Clearly the victim of an previous day's
post-workout brain fade. And it had been there at least two days, because I
shower at a different branch of the gym on rowing days. So I now have my top back.
Well, either that or someone else is missing a cobalt-blue Moving Comfort top,
size S, in which case ewwww.

I've been listening to audio books in
the car, which is probably one of the main reasons the commute hasn't bothered me
as much as expected. After all, if I had a short commute, I'd probably spend most
of the saved time reading anyway. It's interesting to notice, though, that what
makes a great book to hear is not necessarily the same set of attributes that
makes a great book to read. Complex plots are out. Intricate subplots are out. Not
only is my attention divided by the need to pay attention to my driving, but I
can't easily turn back a few pages to refresh my memory as to who a character is
and why he's doing what heÕs doing (almost always a necessity in reading, say, Tom
Clancy, which is one reason I don't read him much any more). A series of anecdotes
is good, so biography works well. Unclear sentences are no good – after all,
there's that divided attention to deal with. Even if I had any desire ever to read
Cormac McCarthy, I wouldn't listen to him in the car. However, colorful metaphors
and vivid, quirky language are good – Kinky Friedman and Malachy McCourt are a joy
to listen to, for Friedman's outrageous similes and McCourt's poetic phrases
("silver-gilt stories") and blunter comparisons (both are prone to frequent
references to what McCourt calls "shaking hands with the unemployed", when he
doesn't just say "wanking").

The reader is important, too. Anything
demanding an accent, from McCourt's Irish yarns to Cajun Tales my Granpa Tole
really needs to be read by the author. Fictional stories told in the first
person have to be read by someone who sounds like the title character – Dick Hill
is laid back and appropriately drawling as Kinky Friedman's fictional namesake,
and whoever did the Mark Twain quotes in Ken Burns' bio of Twain was absolutely
brilliant. I'm looking forward to listening to Barbara ReynoldsÕ reading of one
of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody stories, sitting in my To Be Heard pile. I
don't know what I'll do when I exhaust my libraryÕs audio shelves, though – these
things cost way too much to buy. I've heard Cracker Barrel rents them out cheaply,
but I donÕt think I want to patronize them, and the web-based rental services I've
seen are almost as expensive as just buying the damned things.

always an odd feeling when your separate worlds touch. The article href=""> Batten referenced today, on
sailors' ritual sock-burnings, quotes Caryl Weiss, whom it refers to as a
musician. This must be the same Caryl P. Weiss whose music I've heard of as a
card-carrying folkie. For some reason, I keep associating her with the song "With
Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm"; IÕm sure itÕs older than she is, but either
she's recorded it or my memory's gone squirrelly again.

Posted by dichroic at 11:59 AM | Comments (2)

March 20, 2002

at the bottom of Pandora's box

Good news from href="">TranceJen, proving that
good things do sometimes happen even to those who have given up expecting

The Online Books page now links to Dorothy L. Sayers' article
The Lost Tools of

Go, href="">New

Wishing much joy and love to href="">Jenn, about to embark on the
adventure of marriage. I firmly believe all the best marriages are adventures,
ones in which you get to share new experiences with the best of all traveling

Egret's twins
are progressing nicely. One's definitely a boy; they're not sure about the other.
We're looking forward to seeing them (Egret and T2, not the babies yet!) next

The news about (Trance)Jen's diagnosis and (Batten) Jenn's
upcoming wedding, about new and much-wanted babies and scholarship and courageous
patriotism remind me that even at a time of global trouble there is always local
good. A wise woman on one of my lists just shared this story: "A wonderful man I
used to teach with years ago, he is about 80 now, was a German slave laborer
during WWII. He was a fairly young man at that time. He is Lithuanian and had been
captured there. One reason he thinks his life was "spared" is because he was
fluent in English, French and German and Russian as well as Lithuanian. He was
sent to in a camp in southern Germany, where he was starving, filthy, and
considering suicide. He happened to see an edilweiss (and that I don't know how to
spell!) blooming. He thought if that beautiful little flower could still bloom in
all that horror, he could hang on. He was liberated just weeks

When I look at stories like the ones linked above, I feel
somewhat like that man looking at an edelweiss blooming amid the horrors of a
slave camp. There is no question but that this war could lead to worldwide horror,
but (maybe as a result of reading years of F & SF) I believe that the future is
not a predestined path, but a crossroads, a choice of paths each of which will
brach still further. And the choices are the crossroads are determined by our
decisions. Each choice shuts off some paths and opens others. I fear it's possible
to make enough bad choices that all the paths left are dire, but I still believe
that we're not there yet, that the choices made by a few, whether necessary and
right or not, have not doomed all of us to a terrible single path. Not while
there's still love, hope, truth, and courage abroad. In a radio essay about that
silly fish story, Andre Koudrescu (sp?) reminded me of the old Jewish fable that
the world will continue to be preserved as long as there are 36 truly righteous
men alive at all times. (God would never be so sexist, surely; women must be
counted as well.) There are more than five billion of us now; I won't believe that
there aren't more righteous souls than that -- and that the vast majority of those
billions aren't righteous at least some of the time. Particularly while we still
can find love, stubborn hope, truth and courage for inspiration among us.

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


Today's lunchtime entry curtailed on'accounta I got my wish (the one about being

Though I will just add that I'm not sure what I did in the gym
yesterday, but apparently I did too much of it. Ouch!

This morning in
the single I once again failed to write the classic rowing poem. Though John Myers
Myers may have already written it anyway. (And if you haven't read
Silverlock, you should.)

More later maybe. Or maybe not.

Posted by dichroic at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

thoughts on the news

Lesson learned: Be v-e-r-y careful about giving power to a small man who looks
like a gray-haired Howdy Doody, who has a famous daddy to boot. He may have
something to prove.

I pray now, in my unstructured and disjointed way
for wisdom for those in power (that so few on all sides have shown heretofore) and
for the innocents and powerless who are always the first victims of war.

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

March 19, 2002

almost a day off

Somehow this morning, I rowed two full laps (about 1200 meters more than usual,
washed my boat, removed the lights and riggers to get it ready to travel to our
race this weekend, showered at the gym as usual, and still got to work 15 minutes
earlier than I normally do. I don't understand it.

I took the
opportunity to row a bit farther than usual because today is the only day this
week, in fact these two weeks and probably part of next week also, when I'm not
teaching or anchoring a class and don't have to be here well before 8:00. I've
been enjoying it. Maybe I'll sneak out early or get a chair massage this afternoon
or something.

The race this weekend should be pretty cal, too. We're
not leaving until Saturday morning because Hardcore and the She-Hulk are riding
with us, so we won't get to sleep in Saturday, but can nap or sightsee in LA.
We've seen the Queen Mary, Universal Studios, and Venice Beach. Where's another
good place to spend a couple of afternoon hours? The La Brea tar pits,

Then the race is Sunday, which means I'll probably be elected
to drive home since I'm the only one who's in just one race. Five hundred miles of
trying to keep the Orange Crush (Rudder's Hummer H2) in just one lane at a time.
Oh, joy.

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

an interesting literary encounter

When I went to the library yesterday, in order to restock my truck with books on
tape for my commute, I couldn't resist taking out Miss Julia Takes Over,
despite the several books in my To Be Read pile. Of course, Miss Julia was
promptly moved to the head of the line because she is in a library book (and
besides, she wouldn't have it any other way.

When I headed up to
bed, I amused myself trying to picture an encounter between Miss Julia and that
other grande dame, Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody Emerson. Actually, I think
they would get along well, though there might be some initial friction; both women
have enough esteem for themselves and their sex that they tend to like other women
who are like them. At least eventually. And they would also respect each other for
having made new lives after escaping from the shackles of unsympathetic brothers
(Mrs. Emerson) and husband (Miss Julia). They also have that shared tendency to
adopt waifs and strays and to mold them (willing or not) into productive members
of society. Peabody's less conventional views of sex and religion might shock the
more staid Miss Julia, though I think the latter is inching gingerly leftward in
her beliefs.

Ick. Remind me not to go again to the truck that comes
by selling teriyaki chicken bowls. I'm not entirely convinced this meat began its
career as part of a chicken. And if it did, I wouldn't speculate as to which

I ran into the woman whose desk was ext to mine at the last
company, in the gym this morning. She worked as sort of a project manager in
training there. She's been unemployed for four months now, yet another reason not
to take my six months out of work as anything personal. I don't know how hard
she's looking, since I'm sure she enjoys the time to spend with her kids. She has
one of the coolest last names I've ever encountered, being a nice Jewish girl who
married an Amerindian man and took his name -- on the order of Cynthia Black Bear.

Posted by dichroic at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2002

the Purim story

I was just thinking about Purim, which started last night at sundown. (Largely
because I find thinking about an averted genocide in distant long-ago Persia far
more pleasant than thinking about contemporary wars in the general

The basic story is that the King Ahashuerus' minister, Haman,
was plotting to convince the King to kill all the Jews in his kingdom --
apparently he was ticked off when they refused to bow to him. Mordechai, a leader
of the Jewish community, had an ace in the hole: his nice, Esther, happened to be
Queen of the country. When the king beheaded his former wife, Vashti, for being
uppity, Mordechai had sent Esther to the beauty pageant Ahashuerus was holding to
choose a new Queen, instructing her not to mention that she was Jewish. (I have no
idea why anyone would want a beloved niece to marry a man who demanded that kind
of instant obsequious obedience, but it turned out well, in the end.) When the
Jews found out about the plot against them, Mordechai got Esther to plead for her
people and Haman was hanged on the gallows he'd built for Mordechai. A more
detailed version of the story is href="">here.

I was thinking about what that time must have been like -- Esther
and Mordechai running around trying to communicate with each other, trying to
figure out how to change people's opinions, avoiding Haman, trying to talk to the
right influential people, plotting ways to get management to do the right thing
instead of the wrong one. I would bet it was quite a bit of fun, some of the time.
I would also bet a lot of it was like my life, only without e-mail and with much
higher stakes. On the other hand, now I get credit for my own planning, without
anyone assuming I had to have a man telling me what to do. Maybe we've made a
little progress over a couple thousand years. On the other hand, Haman is often
identified with Hitler, and mass killings in the Middle East loom. Maybe we

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

the descendent of Wayland?

I may be having a Stupid Day. This morning, I rowed a double with Egret, drove to
the gym, showered, came out, put my key in the ignition …. and couldn't turn it. I
tried several times, and jiggled the steering wheel, in case that was impeding the
ignition, but no luck. Fortunately, being as prepared as a Boy Scout who carries
matches AND a lighter, I am a member of AAA. I called them, and they sent out a
locksmith. Which sounded odd to me, but the woman assured me he could deal with
anything up to and including replacing the entire ignition.

I waited
almost an hour there in front of the gym for the locksmith to come. When he got
there, he told me it was likely he'd need to rip the whole ignition out and put in
a new one. Then he leaned into my truck, laid hands on the key to let it know its
master had arrived, moved the steering wheel slightly, laid one finger along his
nose, muttered an incantation I didnÕt catch, blew pixy dust into the ignition,
and smoothly turned the key and started the ignition. He claimed that the steering
wheel, which I'd turned all the way to one side to pull into that spot and hadnÕt
recentered, was binding the ignition, and that all he'd done was to turn the wheel
a bit. He even turned the wheel again and had me try it. However, I'd rather
believe it was magic. That way, I feel less of an idiot for not being able to
start the truck myself. And besides, I did try turning the wheel before he
ever got there. I know I did.

I got to work by nine, but had to tell
my boss what had happened, since I'm usually there by eight and had called to say
I'd be a bit late. He listened, then said, "Yeah, sometimes it's the simple things
that really mess you up." I like my boss. And then he said some things about how
fast I'd been picking up on things here that made me feel not so stupid after all.
But I still favor the magic-locksmith theory.

Posted by dichroic at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2002

average? Not me!

Something odd happened the other day. Because I'm working as a contractor, I went
to State Farm to get life insurance and long-term disability insurance. (I didn't
have either while unemployed, but then I wasn't earning anything, either.) To get
approved for the LTDI, I had to have a physical, and they sent someone over to my
house to do it. Apparently insurance companies do have people who make house
calls. She took a medical history, blood and urine samples, blood pressure, and
measured my height and weight.

This is where the odd part comes in. I
don't trust her scale, because it measured me a bit lighter than my home scale,
which matches the gym scale, which is one of those accurate balance kinds.
However, I can't imagine how her tape measure could be off .... and she measured
me at five-foot-two. And a half.


This is a
big deal for someone who has thought she was 5'1" all her life. I'd been measured
before all the way up to 5' 1.5", but no higher. Somehow, it seems unlikely that
I'm growing, now in my mid-thirties. Maybe all that rowing and lifting has somehow
straightened out my (slightly crooked) spine? I'd have thought that likely to have
the opposite effect.

Just to be sure, I got Rudder to measure me
again. In the interests of accuracy (and being an engineer) he held a level on my
head and brought the tape up against that. His result was 5' 2 1/8". (I'm guessing
the insurance nurse doesn't fiddle with that level of accuracy.) For those of you
living in countries with sensible measuring systems, this means that I have
shot up from my previous 155 cm to a towering 158. Or damn near 159, if you
believe the nurse.

I can't tell you how exciting this is. Don't ask
me why, though; I actually hope that either this trend stops right here or it
continues for about another 8 inches. I really don't mind being short: I can get
through a crowd quickly; it makes me distinctive so that people tend to remember
me; it makes people think I'm younger than I am; and sometimes it makes people
underestimate me, which can be fun to play with. And it had some advantages back
in my single days, though generally I'd figure that a man without the cojones to
deal with a taller woman is probably not worth my time anyway. I don't think I'd
mind being tall, either: clothes hang better; you can reach things on high
shelves; and it would do wonderful things for my rowing abilities. But I'm not
sure I see many advantages to being of average height.

I'll probably
shrink back again when I get older anyhow.

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

March 16, 2002

useless luxury

After dropping Rudder off at the airport for yet another business trip, I went
flying again this morning. I'm trying to regain currency, feel comfortable as
pilot-in-command, and then maybe even go for an IFR (instrument) rating. (For non-
pilots, that's the one that would probably have kept JFK Jr. live.) The flying
went reasonably well, though I need to do at least one more session before I
schedule the biannual flight review I'm due for. After that, to continue the
aviation theme, I headed off to an airshow at a former Air Force base nearby, now
converted into a campus for several local universities and a local

I suppose I've just been to too many airshows, or maybe it
was because I was by myself, but it just wasn't all that exciting. For one thing,
they seemed to think most people would be more excited by really fast, loud
military planes doing their maneuvers, but I really prefer aerobatics by smaller
planes. I have a thing for biplanes, but mostly my preference is because the F-16
is so fast that it does one maneuver, then has to spend twice as long looping back
over the audience to get in position for the next one. IN contrast, a pilot in an
Extra 300, or a team like the Red Barons in their Stearman bipes are slow and
maneuverable enough to fit an entire aerobatic routine in front of the audience.
Also, I like wind, but it was strong enough today to blow dust in my eyes
continually and to affect the precision of some of the aerobatics.

left the show after only about two hours. Having an afternoon free and alone, I
decided some pampering seemed indicated. I was hoping they could slot me in at the
local massage school, but they're booked. And the place I went last time I got a
pedicure does having anyone doing them today. I think I will just go to one of the
upscale shopping centers that are multiplying rapidly in my neighborhood, look for
the new watch I've been itching to buy, and see if I can find a nail place that
takes walk-ins. This also seems like a good time to exchange one of the CDs my
uncle gave me for my birthday, since it's one I've already got. Shopping for
something you've already got and pedicures, the epitomes of useless luxury.

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

March 15, 2002

I like it here

I don't get this. Not only do I really like my job, I really like almost
everything about it. Even the commute hasn't been too bad, mostly because job +
commute = still less hours than I worked in the last

Obviously, I expected to like what I'm doing, or I wouldn't
have taken the job. The strange part is that it even feels good to be back in
aerospace again. I worked hard to get out of the industry. I thought I wanted to
escape mostly because, while you do get to work on cool stuff that flies, there's
usually an ungodly amount of red tape and procedural crap to get through to do

Maybe it's because I'm actually into the procedural end of
it now and I know why all of it is there. Maybe it's because at this company,
there isn't all that much of it that doesn't need to be there. Maybe it's also
because I'm on the commercial end of it, not military and not NASA, so there's no
hierarchical rank thing going on and no NASA monitors sitting in on every code
review whether or not they know anything about it.

Maybe it's also
just a bit of a retreat to the familiar. I can say, though, that it's actually
nice to have the rules defined. This is as opposed to working for a company that
tries to think of itself as cool and likes to pretend there are no rules, so that
while the rules are there, of course, they're all undefined and you never are
quite sure when you're going to be in trouble. Here, everything is explicit and
it's even easy to figure out which rules can be broken with

An example: the dress code here is minutely laid out and
you're only supposed to wear jeans on Fridays. Quite a few people wear them every
day anyway, but they know they'd at least better not wear holey falling-apart
jeans, at least within normal work hours. At the old place, they bragged about how
casual they were and everyone wore least at first. Toward the end, as
they brought in more and more high-level people to try to save the sinking ship,
the people who were project managers and up, or who wanted to be, began to dress
up more and more and I even heard people discussed behind their backs for dressing
too casually.

Bleah. At work, at least, I'd rather know my
boundaries, so that if I want to go outside them, I know how far out I am.

PS. The rules say minor personal Internet usage is ok, as long as
it's not abused. I'm at lunch. In case you were wondering.

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

March 14, 2002

dreaming down a strange line

Yay to me -- I've kept up this journal now for over a year, and have written in it
every single day except when away on travel – and even then when I had access to a
computer. While I've handing out kudos, yay also to my boss, who yesterday handled
a difficult situation – informing the department of the sudden death of a well-
liked and respected coworker – about as well as it could possibly be done. And to
Rosie OÕDonnell, for coming out of the closet when she thought it might serve to
set a good example. I'd have been more impressed if she hadnÕt waited until right
before she was about to end her show anyway, but she'll probably still face a lot
of flak. I think a lot of people who have learned to accept and respect gay and
lesbian adults in other ways still have trouble with the idea of gay parents. But
Rosie commands a lot of affection from people who see her as a normal person
(whatever that is), so maybe her example will help.

I had the oddest
dream last night. I think it owes something to being around a nursing mother
yesterday, something to the movie Legally Blonde, something to joining the women's
crew from LA on Sunday and most to some very strange recesses of my subconscious.
I was in some sort of class and we were all supposed to be taking turns giving
presentations, but then on the days we were to give them, hardly anyone showed up
to class, so the presenters were speaking to a mostly empty room. I wandered out
of the room during a break and was grabbed by the class's cheerleader clique. They
werenÕt really cheerleaders, I donÕt think – we were all older than that – but
they all had flippy cheerleader hair, careful makeup, and similar outfits on. They
were doing their presentation in a group, and needed an extra woman to fill in,
and would I do it? I said yes, and they thanked me and pulled me into the room
where they hung out. Of course, they knew their extra person wouldn't be dressed
as they were, so they had brought along a little flippy-skirted outfit, sort of
stiff netting petticoat thingy (more like a tutu) to support the skirt, and, as a
crowning touch, a pair of falsies. They explained they hadn't known who they would
end up with, or how she would be built. So they had brought these along just in

They were joking, not meaning to be obnoxious, and I wasn't
offended. One of the women took me into a little dressing room and helped me get
suited up. We got the dress half on, with the top hanging down, and I put on an
oversized bra. The falsies were inflatable; we got one blown up and stuffed in,
then decided it was too big (the nipple was two inches long). The woman showed me
how to let air out; you had to squeeze the nipple to open a valve – actually, it
was very similar to the bite valve on a Camelbak drinking tube, come to think of
it. We finally got that one adjusted to the right size and stuffed into the bra,
but then I couldn't find the other one. I wandered out of the dressing room with
one falsie in and one missing, looking like a mastectomy victim, and went looking
for the other one. At that point, several guys began showing up, and of course the
women let them into the room because they were that kind of women, who would never
send a man away. Some of the guys seemed to be European exchange students who had
gone to my high school, for some reason, though in retrospect their names were
different. I joked with them about the missing breast, and we all talked for a
while, but when I finally found it, it was too late to give the presentation after
all. After that, people milled around a lot more and we all hung out a while
longer, and then I woke up.

Yes, my brain is strange. No, the women
rowers from LA did not wear flippy hair and makeup. And no, I have never worn

Posted by dichroic at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2002

around in the gearbox

Later note: after all that stuff below, I just got an email from close friends
telling us that all the emotional, physical, and fiscal pain of IVF has paid off
and they're going to be parents in nine months. You know how I keep saying life is
a sine wave? Make that a roller coaster.

This isn't what I was going to write about. I was going to talk about my college
roommate's visit, with her husband and baby, and how funny it is to compare them
to the cousins we spent time with in Korea – the difference between a mother with
her first new baby and an old hand on her third. Instead, I've been thinking what
a mishmash life is, with joy and grief and hope and memory all mixed together.
It's not a wheel, with the neat ordering that implies, or if it is, it's more like
a gearbox, with all the gears meshing so that the beginning of one person's life
may touch the middle of another's and the end of a third's.

morning, it took me a while to leave the house, talking all the way. I exchanged
goodbye hugs with a new mother, a father of four near-adults and a new baby just
getting started again with this second family, and a little guy just starting out
to see life, who's enjoyed two and a half months of it and seems to approve so

A little later this morning, I reflected that it has been just
about half a life since I shared a dorm room with that little guy's mother – our
lives, not his. She hasn't changed much, except to mellow a bit. I don't know if I
have – I feel the same in my core, but there might be some weathering and wearing
down of rough edges.

Right after that, I got pulled into a meeting
where the boss told us that a coworker had just died. Heart attack, no warning, in
his late forties.

I still don't know most of the names here, so it
took me a few minutes to figure out who this man was, but it turned out to be
someone I've talked to quite a bit, and liked – I just didn't have the name to put
with the face.

Ironic -- I've heard him taking part in conversation about
how dangerous riding a motorcycle out here is, but it wasn't his bike that killed
him. If anything, it might have been the running he'd started doing for his

Never mind the eternal rest stuff, because I don't think he'd
like it. I hope, wherever he is, there are motorcycles, and cool gadgets, and
mental and physical challenges, and most of all, people who like a spirited
conversation. He'd be happy in a place like that. Come to think of it, I'd be
happy in a place like that.

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

assorted pinheads

Thank goodness for Zippy.

(That would be the Honda, not the Pinhead.)
My truck has been at the dealer since Saturday. They did the estimate on fixing
the dash panel and the broken back window and sent it to the insurance company,
who has *still* not given them an OK to fix it. Most people here cannopt afford to
have their cars out of circulation for this long. Yes, I have another car to drive
meanwhile, but they don't know that. (Actually they do, because they insure it,
but still.) This is Arizona, not Philadelphia or New York; it is not possible to
get anywhere without a car. What do they think, I'm going to walk 40 miles to
work? Or even two miles to and from the nearest supermarket? Carrying groceries?
Not unless I wanted to shop daily, for the amount I'd be able to

Typing the above made me feel really ungrateful and whiny, for
the view into life below the poverty line -- and there's a lot of life below that
line, out here. Any of you who were reading this a year ago may remember me
complaining how low our unemployment insurance is (currently $205/wk); at the
moment, it's the lowest in the country, bar none. Even Mississippi and Alabama
raised theirs above ours. And though we've now got a horrible definict, for a
couple of years there we had a surplus, so it wasn't the state as a whole being
poor that kept that number down. (We had an extremely messed-up reimbursement
program for alternate-fuel vehicles that wiped out the surplus, along with falling
tax revenues.) Though to be fair, our poorer neighborhoods tend to have shops,
schools, and bus stops mixed in much closer to the houses. Also lots of muffler
shops, for some reason (older cars?). So it might be easier to do without a car
.... until you had to leave your neighborhood. And while they also have libraries,
welfare centers, churches, and other services locally, there aren't a lot of
doctors or hospitals.

So I need to stop whining about my truck being
out of commission, and be grateful we can afford a third car. But that won't keep
me from taking a stern line with the insurance agency! Speaking of pinheads...

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

March 12, 2002

Curses! Foiled again!

March Ampersand
topic: curses

The villain always said, "Curses! Foiled again!"

Why foiled? Is the
idea that he's been fended off with a fencing foil? Perforated as by a rapier's
point? Even stabbed with a stiletto?

Or has he been foiled in an even
more literal way: bound so tightly in tinfoil that all his nefarious thoughts
perforce came to naught? Swathed in sheets of aluminum so that he is unable to
make his date with the heroine and the train?

He is certainly meant
to be a foil for the hero; all his unrelieved evil ways serve only to show the
burnished gleam of the hero's sterling qualities. But does this mean the hero is
also his foil? If a foil is meant to show off good qualities by contrast, then the
hero can't be the villain's foil, so how can he be foiled again?

then there's the "Curses!" part. Has anyone anywhere ever actually said "curses"?
(It doesn't count if the person saying it was trying to imitate those foiled
silent-movie villains.) Or is it a placeholder, meant to denote foul language
without ever exposing tender ears to actual swearing, much like the symbols used
to show profanity in comic strips? And if so, why couldnÕt a silent movie villain
say "*$#%#@&*!", just like Sarge does when he beats up Beetle Bailey? After
all, the movie villain only spoke in captions, just like a comic character.
Perhaps the symbolic cursing convention wasnÕt invented until well after the
dastardÕs heyday.

What curses would the villain have used, if not
hampered by the need to keep his audience's ears (and eyes, in the days of silent
movies) unsullied? Surely nothing scatological or sexual – the innocent heroine
wouldn't have even understood his words. Profanity, perhaps. Or perhaps the
villains of those days had a flow of epithet unmatched in these more prosaic
times. You seldom hear any imaginative swearing anymore. Oh, I once knew a six-
year-old who was adorable as she stamped her little foot and swore the worst oath
she was allowed: "Rats!" And there was someone in college whose favorite epithet
was "Holy Hammer!" I once asked if the reference were to Thor's Mjöllnir, but she
didn't know either – she had picked up the phrase from someone else. There's
precious little swearing anymore that isn't either a four-letter word, a
combination of them, or a euphemism for them. Some of the worst news of recent
days has brought a small spate of creativity, as Americans struggling to find ways
strong enough to express their emotions dropped the usual swear words as too
hackneyed and suddenly added words like "pusillanimous" to their vocabulary, but
that effect was short-lived. Almost no one reaches the level of Kipling's "By the
livin' Gawd that made you" anymore, let alone his more imaginative flights of
derogatory, or the sorts of hard names the men who hammered out the Declaration of
Independence called each other in their less harmonious

Nobody swears well anymore. It's a lost

Goshdarn it.

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

moral imperatives

Mer reminded me of
another point I'd been thinking through. I'm still not of resolved mind on this
whole impending war thing. The truest comment I've heard on it yet was the other
day on the radio -- might have been Sen. Kyle or someone like that: "I don't think
anyone feels comfortable about their opinion on this, except maybe those at either
extreme." (If it was the Senator, it's about the first thing he's ever said that I
agree with.) I'm pleased to find that people on both sides agree in their support
for the rank-and-file of the military; as Tommy Sands says, "Those who give the
orders, they are not the ones to die." I'd be even happier if I were sure more
people on both sides realized they have this commonality.

About the
situation as a whole, I tried to dissect my opinions into their component beliefs.
These are my beliefs, stripped out and laid completely bare here.

believe Saddam Hussein is evil. I do believe the government's premise on this
item. I used to believe all terrorists were evil, but on further reflection I
concluded some may just be thoroughly deluded, brainwashed with "us=good,
them=bad," especially those so embedded in their own beliefs that they are glad to
die for them. I'd like to think I'd have the moral courage to realize that killing
people for my beliefs is a bad thing, but how can I tell? From here in freedom,
anyway? On the other hand, there is no form of life so low as those who recruit
people to kill and die to bolster their own power.

So OK, he's evil.
But is he our problem to deal with? Well, yes. If he's evil and we want to align
ourselves on the side of good, in defiance of the the usual political expediency,
then he is, and we do have to deal with him. My thoughts on this were certainly
influenced by my current reading
: "In Life's name and for Life's sake, I will set aside fear for
courage and death for life, when it is right to do so..." But just because it's
fiction doesn't mean it doesn't carry truth.

So OK, he's evil and he
is our problem. But how do we fight him? That's where the logic chain stops being
easy to link. We can't leave him alone to torture and brood over a growing weapons
stash. But despite my idealism above, we do have to consider political expediency.
This morning in a href="">radio
, US Army Col. Mike Turner (Ret.), former policy advisor to the
Joint Chiefs, laid out a very possible -- and very dire -- scenario of what would
happen if we war without allies. It differed from LA's prediction only in being more
detailed. We also, if we want to have any claim to living up to our principles
(and they are idealistic, and that's not a bad thing) need to make sure that we do
not indulge in evil in trying to fight evil. We've done it before, certainly;
that's no excuse for doing it again. Each new decision is an opportunity to make
the right decision (or a right decision) or the wrong one. We must fight, I am
convinced. But do we have to do it in the literal sense, warfare with blood and
death, bullets and bombs and desperation and despair? That I can't say. But if we
do take that irrevocable action, we'd better be damn sure it's the right

And what will I do with my logic? I don't know. If we go to war,
will I speak out? Once war is officially declared, it happens to be illegal to
speak against it: sedition, to be precise. I don't have a particular objection to
breaking a law, if it's a bad law, but this isn't a bad law, in itself. It may be
necessary to avoid a breakdown of morale in a dire situation. We don't typically
enforce that law (as witness protests during Vietnam), but we could. It's on the
books. And I work in a patriotic industry; getting arrested for speaking out
wouldn't do much for my job prospects. But I don't have kids or dependents, Rudder
being well able to care for himself, so it would mostly only hurt me. Should we go
to war? I don't know. What would I need to do if we did? I don't know. Would I do
it? I don't know. I don't know.

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

Stupid Gym Music

Here's what I want to know: do record companies really have separate divisions
dedicated solely to producing Stupid Gym Music? My gym plays songs I've never
heard anywhere else. (Thank goodness!) Presumably, the idea is to play upbeat
tunes to energize gym rats (and us smaller gym mice) and distract them from the
pain of the workout. However, that plan fails completely because of the bone-
numbingly stupid lyrics of those songs. Someone ought to suggest to the record
companies that they use a randomizing program to generate their lyrics; the
results would have to be an improvement.

You can't escape the music,
either, even on the locker room, which lends credence to the hypothesis that the
lyrics are carefully chosen to hide subliminal messages the gym broadcasts.
Unfortunately, those are probably less likely to be "You are getting stronger and
more toned," and more likely "Sign up for personalized sessions with a trainer at
our new low, low prices."

This morning while I was getting dressed
after my workout, they were playing one of these musical excrescences whose lyrics
were something like, "A real woman knows a real man when she sees one/ And a real
man, he just can't deny a woman's worth". My first thought was, 'Well,
there's some circular reasoning." After listing to an additional verse with
the line, "A real woman knows a real man always comes first," my second thought
was, 'Well, yes, they often do, but it's not really anything to brag about!'
Though I suppose they might have meant that a "real man" would expect a woman to
treat him as more important than anyone else, a distinctly less palatable concept.
I don't mind my original idea so much; after all, someone's got to be first,
unless you have the sort of split-second timing general only found in cheap
romance novels and magazine columns purporting to consist of true stories of
readers' amatory exploits. On the other hand, the credo that a real man is one
who is possessed of a sort of domestic megalomania, never happy unless he is the
sole focus of his woman's attention, is downright appalling.

It makes
me hope that song really is only played in gyms, and not, say, on radio stations
catering to a junior-high demograph.

I'd also like to know why it is
that none of my shoelaces can stay tied for more than five minutes, even when I
double-knot them, but thatÕs a whole 'nother rant.

Posted by dichroic at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2002

small breakthrough

Minor breakthrough today: this has been one of our more stolid, not to say boring,
classes to date. Today we got them embroiled in a lively (well, relatively) debate
on the burning issue of whether it's better to review your code first or compile
it first. (Trust me, it's a hot-button issue among programmers.) The best part was
that we had people in the class on both sides of the issue, so it didn't have to
be just us as instructors trying to make a point. Also, the people who deal with
these issues every day, especially the leads who have a little better visibility,
can make these points better than I ever could.

By the way, the
correct answer is, "It depends. In theory, reviewing first (in a structured way)
should be more effective, but just try it this way for a while, then make your
decision based on data."

In other news, I was practicing racing starts this morning and broke two minutes
on my split -- 1:57 at a rate of 38! (That's fast, at least for me.)

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

still groggy

If I had one of those little emotion readouts on this diary today, it would
definitely read "groggy". I'm not really terribly sore from yesterday, but both
body and mind are fatigued and neither is inclined to move quickly. I got plenty
of sleep (so I judge, because I set the alarm for 5:40 AM, turned off my light at
7 last night, and woke up every half hour or so from about 3:00 on) but sometimes
one single night's sleep isnÕt enough to restore the corpus from one of its more
corpselike states.

I can't believe I raced four times
yesterday. The two races in the eight were 2000 meters, too, instead of the 1000m
the smaller boats raced. Therefore, I raced a total of 6000 meters, twice as far
as Rudder rowed in three races. This has left me disinclined to move around much
or do any work today. Unfortunately, I doubt my supervisor, who's been working a
lot of weekends himself, would appreciate it much if I napped under my desk today.
Thank goodness we didn't have rowing practice today. My general state of fog has
also left me with no inclination or energy to deal with the squabble going on
among moderators of one of the email lists I own.

My old college
roommate is staying over tomorrow night, with a husband I haven't met before and
an even newer baby. I am very much looking forward to seeing her and her menfolk,
but not up for doing much to prepare for the visit. Thank goodness we restarted
the cleaning service. I'll probably drag myself into the supermarket after work,
and throw together a quick Cape Verde vegetable soup (courtesy of one of the
Moosewood cookbooks) tonight or tomorrow – if we decide to go for the ordeal of
dining-out-with-baby instead, we can always eat it another night. There are
definitely things I miss about unemployment, and time to cook and time to shop are
two of them. However, there's much to be said for interesting work and money to
shop with.

Posted by dichroic at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2002

the real schedule

Last night, I posted a schedule for today that went:

  • Race in
  • Turn 35.
  • Race in final (if successful in
  • Collapse.

Here is the way that
actually turned out:

  • Race in single, heat.
  • Turn
  • li>Race in eight with women from LA who needed another person,

  • Race in single, final.
  • Race in eight with LA
    women, final.
  • Go out for beer and food.
  • Update
  • Return calls from family
  • Shower (still in
    planning stage)
  • Collapse (still in planning stage).

Y'all will kindly excuse me for not being more

But thanks to Natalie, SWooP, and Jen for the cool birthday
cards and to Marn for the gbook greeting - sorry but I'm way too tired for proper

Posted by dichroic at 05:50 PM | Comments (0)

a good start to the day

Happy birthday to me...

Thanks very much to those of you who have
wished me a happy one in the guestbook or via an e-card or e-mail. I also got a
car from Yogi here at work, which made me feel a little guilty; she gave me one
that said "Happy birthday Sister," because we were born on the same day, same
year, while I gave her one featuring the kid from the Wild Thornberries, saying
"Happy Burp Day!" I feel better since the Yogi admitted this was just one she had
on hand originally intended for her actual sister, though. And the Statistician (I
think that's what I've called him) brought in a carrot cake, or at least most of
one he had left over from the weekend, for our joint birthdays. Awwww. I dont
actually like carrot cake, or at least not the cream cheese icing, but I won't
even mention that to anyone.

Today has been a little hectic, work-
wise, especially the part where I had to run out of one class (leaving my co-
teacher, who's the one with experience in this class anyhow, in charge) to go
teach a module in another class. Gah. We need to get this schedule further
straightened out, but at least we've made progress.

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

March 09, 2002

plans for tomorrow

Plans for tomorrow:

Race in heat.

Turn 35.

Race in final
(if successful in heat).


More or less in that order.
I may omit the collapse part if I only race once.

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


I just put in a load of laundry, complete with Mountain Spring-scented Tide, and
it got me wondering: have these people ever actually smelled a mountain in spring?
Because I have, and it's nothing like their detergent. In fact, there isn't just
one mountain smell; a mountain here in the desert, covered with sagebrush and
desert wildflowers smells very different from a mountain in a Colorado spring,
with snow at the top and streams of pure melted ice running down to water the
columbines. The mountains of western Oregon have a bit of sea salt mixed in with
the scent of the pines that cover them, while those of northern Arizona's high
desert mix sagebrush with the pines. And the lower mountains of the mid-Atlantic,
from the Catskills to the Blue Mountains, can never quite escape the tang of all
those cities not too far away.

Deodorants are even worse. They have
scents like "powder fresh", "summer breeze", "baby fresh", and "sport". Taking
those in order: they do sometimes get the smell of talcum powder right, or nearly
right. They ought to; they can have the powder sitting right there in the lab, or
even blend it in to the stick. "Summer breeze" though, has the same problems a
"mountain spring". Also, whoever came up with that name was obviously not there,
as I was, that summer in Philadelphia when the trash collectors went on strike.
Not a good image for me. Then there's "baby fresh"; I yield to no one in my
admiration for the smell of a clean baby's hair (whether I want my own armpits to
smell that way is a different issue) but "fresh" is not the word I'd use. It's
more a subtle mixture of soured milk, baby powder, and visceral reaction. And why
would I want to smell that way myself? I don't want people I meet to want to
mother me. As for "sport", I thought that the smell of sports was exactly what the
deodorant is supposed to erase in the first place.

Most perfumes
aren't all that much better. I want one that makes me smell like fresh healthy
girl, or in less literal moods, like a freshly blooming flower, or a bit of musk,
or anything else that would make people want to be near me. Forget the "vat of
chemicals" smell so many of them seem to evoke. I don't wear perfume much, can you

Smells are so evocative that it's important to get them right.
There's one brand of shampoo that gives me flashbacks to Australia, because it's
the one I used on our trip there. And then there's the problem of mixture: what do
I smell like, if I've washed my clothes with "spring breeze" Tide, applied "shower
fresh" under my arms, washed my hair with citrus shampoo, spritzed on jasmine
cologne, and moisturized my skin with yet another unnamed scent? Not to mention
any other cosmetic product I might see fit to use? Do I just smell like "fragrance
amalgam"? Ick.

Marketers and advertisers are silly people.

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

March 08, 2002

Almost busier than the weekdays

Yes, life is back to normal. Busy, that is. Would it so upset the balance of the
universe if I had both time and money available at once? (Cue Zero Mostel, "If I
Were a Rich Man, deedle deedle deedle dydle deedle...) Tonight and early tomorrow
morning, I have to read up on the flying stuff I've forgotten because it's been so
long since I've gotten my sorry ass up in a plane. Later that day we've got a pre-
race barbeque for the regatta portion of the Grand
Canyon State Games
, which is on Sunday. At some point in between I ought to
wash my truck or have it washed, because when you drive on the freeways during
rush hour, it's a trifle pleasanter if your windows are transparent rather than
just translucent.

At present it looks like I'll only be racing in my
single on Sunday, though I may still race twice if I win my heat (as if). I really
don't like the way the club group handles racing, which is to have AussieCoach
make all the decisions about who's in what boat without passing on much info to
the rowers. I'm paid up for this quarter, but once that's over, I may just become
a member of "Arizona Rowing", which is what Rudder and T2 call themselves when not
racing under the auspices of club or city. Coaches, bah. The club does offer
individual coaching sessions, so I may just decide to row on my own and take the
occasional lesson just to keep from developing too many bad habits and to help me
plan my practice schedule. Maybe I'll try to work with the scary former Olympian
(Bulgarian, female) who also seems to be fed up with the whole large group idea.

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

March 07, 2002


Waiting sucks. My first paycheck is supposed to be mailed out today. Eventually,
it will be directly deposited in my account and I'll get paid every Thursday, but
until that goes through, I have to depend on the vagaries of snail mail. The U.S.
Post Office is fairly efficient these days, except when it's not; this state
doesn't do direct deposit for unemployment checks and I always got those either
one or two days after they were mailed, except for the one that took over a month
to get to me. With luck, that won't happen to any of these checks in the short
time before they start getting directly deposited.

It was exciting to
get back to work, but frustrating to have to wait an extra two weeks for the first
installment of the paycheck which is, after all, my main reason for being here.
When the wait starts to get to me, though, I think of the situation of a friend of
mine. There is a distant possibility her husband will be asked to move to Ireland
for a year or two for his job. They'll be finding out in the next couple of weeks
if that will happen. I'd be thrilled at the opportunity if it were mine, but I
think they're ambivalent. She's got a couple of kids from a previous marriage and
they've got shared custody, so that might be difficult.

Ireland is
just a side issue, though, much as it would change their lives. The real crux for
them is waiting to find out if she's pregnant. They desperately want to have a
child, and have undergone IVF: shots every day for three months (and three months
more if she conceives) and a surgery painful enough to keep her out of work for a
couple of days. I don't know what the statistics are for the procedure (I'm sure
quite a lot of D-landers do), but it is definitely a toss of the dice, far from a
sure thing. They've only just recently married, and we're worried about how
they'll adapt if she hasn't conceived. They find out in the middle of next

When I think of all that, it suddenly becomes much easier to
wait a few days more for a bit of money. I'm not starving, and I know it's
definitely coming, so all I have to do is decide what to do with it when it gets
here. Easy, by comparison.

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

running on


Have reported on my busted-into-truck to the cops, who were very
friendly and laid-back and who told me about another drug house in the
neighborhood they just busted up. In addition tothe one we knew about, which has
now been fixed up and sold. This is not so much a commentary on the neighborhood,
which is a nice middle-class-ish one with big houses, as on the world, in which
this has become a common thing. I figure there's no point moving, on the heory
that any city and many rural neighborhoods have the same problems.

Reported also to the insurance agents, who were also kind and
helpful as they always are but who distressed me because it turns out I can't just
go and get it fixed which would be way too simple, oh, no, I have to get it
assessed first. Which presumably involves me and the assessor and the truck all
being in the same place, which is difficult because they haven't called me back
today when I could leave early and next week I absolutely can't because I'm
teaching a class all week. The agent also helpfully suggested that the assessor
could come to my work parking lot, but I really don't want to drive the truck all
the way across town to work with its dash panels dangling.

distress causes me to write run-on sentences. Or maybe run-on sentences just feel
like the right way to express dangling emotions.

Maybe Rudder can
deal with getting my truck and the assessor to each other since he works much
closer to home.

Maybe this weekend will be fun

We'll see.

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

March 06, 2002

Monday's incident

I have a race on Sunday. In addition, I will be turning 35 that day. Therefore, I
should probably be concentrating on eating healthier. None of this stopped me from
having decaf coffee (I'm a wimp and can't drink the real stuff) with half-and-half
and sugar and a cherry turnover for breakfast. Oh, well. We athlete types need fat
for energy, right?

I don't believe I've written about what happened
at rowing the other day. Other than the upcoming race, the excitement on the lake
this week happened on Monday, when a city quad, rowed by Hardcore, She-Hulk, and
two guys, flipped over. I was in another quad with three women from the club; we
saw them a bit after it happened, by which time they had gotten their boat to the
side, gotten out of the lake, and were trying to get some water out of the boat.
We hollered over to them, then went to get our coach, about 1000m away, to go in
his launch to help them. We got over to the end of the lake where he was, and,
yelled and screamed and whistled (the well-prepared Dr. Bosun had a loud whistle
with her) but AussieCoach, concentrating on the two eights he was watching, didn't
hear us. He sped on by and we had to row halfway back up the lake to fetch him.
By then, the other four were back in their boat, heading to the beach, but he went
and helped them in. They got there as we were taking out our oars, and AussieCoach
sent us up to get towels for them. On the way up, we saw their coach (not Yosemite
Sam, the other one) talking to a ranger, so we told him what had happened. It
turned out the ranger had pulled his launch off the lake for not having proper
lights. The ranger had told his eight to come in, but hadn't notified the quad. I
gave the coach the blanket and some fleece clothing I had in my truck, then sped
off to work. As I left, She-Hulk and one of the guys were carrying oars up, and I
later found out Dr. Bosun had told them to go home and marshaled club people to
carry their boat up. They'd spent about 30-40 minutes in the water and in wet
clothes, from the time they tipped until they got back in.

If you
weren't there, the amount of sheer dumb-assery and other mistakes implicit in that
story may not be evident.

  • First, the coach went out, well before
    dawn, in a launch without lights. This is against the local rules and is unsafe
  • Next, the ranger told the eight to come in, but not the
    quad. This is somewhat equivocal; it sounds like there was faulty communication
    somewhere there and the ranger didnÕt understand there were two boats out. Also,
    though it's against city rules, I don't honestly think rowing without an
    accompanying launch is all that dangerous – the club didn't have one at all until
    a few weeks ago. Still, the city people expect to have a launch for rescue, and
    they should have been told to come in when they didn't have one, by the policy of
    the city, which employs the rangers.
  • The ranger didn't see the
    flipped quad. This isnÕt equivocal at all – what's the point of having them out
    there if they don't look around?
  • AussieCoach also went by the quad
    twice without seeing them. Rowers are supposed to focus, but a coach needs to
    maintain awareness of what else is going on.
  • AussieCoach didn't see
    or hear us when we first yelled to him. See above.
  • The people in
    the quad, three of whom are experienced scullers, didn't know how to turn it back
    over and get back in, to rescue themselves. They did rescue themselves in the end,
    but they could have saved a lot of time in the water. At 6AM. In February. And
    it's not especially clean water, either.

This is
serious – they were lucky the water has begun to warm up a little. People have
died from that sort of thing. I called Unknown Legend to suggest a bit more about
rowing in ranger training; Rudder emailed her to suggest that how to right an
overturned boat be added to the rower training.

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

not too much to say except thanks

Work's left me not feeling like writing much today. It hasn't been bad
exactly, just frantic enough to leave me disinclined to write anything I don't
have to.

Oh, except this...

I've been getting birthday cards
from my dentist and insurance agent for a week now, but yesterday I got an actual
present in the mail, from an actual person. href="">Thanks! Only problem is, Rudder won't let
me open it until Monday, my actual birthday. (Well, he wouldn't actually prevent
me, but he'd tell me I'd regret it and he'd be right.) At least he doesn't make me
wait until after dinner, as he always does -- I can see the appeal of delayed
gratification, but that's just ridiculous.

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

March 05, 2002

the vanishing flight line

Now I'm having hallucinations. Instead of my usual trip to the building cafeteria,
I decided to walk to Taco Hell today. Yes, their food has way too much fat, but
the cafeteria isn't serving anything I like today and I don't want a salad. I had
a salad and shrimp (Gambas al Ajillas...mmmm) for dinner last night and will
problem have the same again tonight. (Leftovers....mmmm again.) Besides, it's a
beautiful day out. Anyway, on the way there, I was watching the little planes take
off at the small airport across the street when I noticed a sign on a building
there that read, "Flight Line". A place with that name at an airport is most
likely either a pilot shop or a cafe, and either way I'm interested, so I detoured
a bit to check it out.

When I got to the corner where I should have
been able to see it again, "Flight Line" was gone!! I looked and looked, but
couldn't see it at all. Back in the office with my Mexi-junkfood, I checked Yahoo
Yellow Pages and couldn't find a place with that name at all. My best guess is
that maybe a truck with that name painted on it was pulled up at the airport and
drove away. I just don't know, though.

I don't think I'll mention at
work that I'm seeing things, especially because I might have to go get drug-tested
for a third time. No, I haven't been smoking anything, let alone anything illegal.
The first time, the sample I provided was "too dilute". (Well, you're supposed to
drink lots of water, especially if you both work out and live in a desert
climate!) The second time, reflex was too strong for me and as I stood up, I
automatically flushed, contrary to instructions. Ooops. I can't imagine what
difference that should really make, anyway. After all, it's not like they do a
strip search. Anything I could have hidden on the way in, I could have hidden
equally well on the way out.

Still, I really don't much want to have
to fill that cup again.

On a completely different (and
probably more appetizing) subject, I'm starting to get the urge to go flying
again. I've logged very few hours in the last couple of year -- I keep meaning to,
but there's never enough time. I ought to have done it during my layoff; after
Christmas it wasn't even a question of money, since Rudder gave me a block of time
at our local FBO (FBO=Fixed Base Operator=flying school). I never used it because
I wanted to do some reading and "chair flying" first and I never got to that.
Watching the small planes take off and working on aviation software has started to
get to me, I guess. I probably need to just schedule the time first and let that
force me to read up. I'd like to just take a couple lessons out here at lunch,
though I probably should use the time Rudder gave me first.

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

March 04, 2002

my last girlfriend

Poetica Collab: "Obsession/Compulsion"
Write a poem about an obsession or a compulsion you or someone else may have.

My Last Girlfriend

That's my last girlfriend's picture on the wall,
Looking as though she watched us. Not at all
Do I have feelings for her now. Her image stands
Because I have no better one at hand.
To lend a bit of color to this wall.

But also, if you look at her, you'll see
The picture's lovely, just in its own right.
I didn't take the photo though, despite
That sunrise look you see there on her face,
As though she thought she heard a lover call.

There's no one sees her face, but turns to me
As if to ask how that look came to be.
"She must have loved you very much," they sigh.
But that's the thing; it wasn't only I
Whose words or presence brought that look of joy.

A neighbor might have said, "You're looking well,"
Or someone whistled at her, driving by,
Or out at night with friends, and some cute guy
Asked her to dance or held a glance too long
Or sheÕd been ogled by a pizza boy.

Just any little thing would make her blush,
Her eyes would sparkle, and a rising flush
Would show as though she'd just fallen in love.
And yet, she didn't seem to value much above
These petty things the attentions that I paid.

She had – I'm not sure how to say this, but she had
A sort of way of being over-pleased
By any nicety, yet ill at ease
As if she hardly valued all I gave.
In fact, with me, she almost seemed afraid.

She smiled at me, yes, she did, but then
She smiled the same at other passing men
As if she ranked their answering grins with mine.
I spoke to her but never could refine
Her tastes and manners as they should have been.

I chose not to quarrel; there was no point.
She'd never have admitted what she'd done
And I would not debate. I'm never one
For arguing; it isn't dignified.
I wouldn't stoop to seem so small and mean.

Still, she grew worse, until I could not bear
To hear her flirting laugh, as if she cared
For any man – but me. She tortured me.
Oh yes, she knew, she couldn't help but see.
You women never live by honor's code

But still, I always was a friend to her,
And just to show the goodness of my heart,
I fixed her brakes. I got her car to start
And watched her drive away. That night she drove
Straight through a highway rail and off the road.

They said it was an accident, she hit
A patch of ice, maybe, or nodded off a bit.
Or maybe swerved, to miss a weaving car
Or drifted over just a bit too far.
They never found the cause, far as I know.

I'm sorry though; I've rambled on too long.
And this was meant to be our special night.
Where would you like to go? I thought we might
Start with a special favorite place of mine.
Well, here's your coat. It's time for us to go.
With profuse apologies to Robert Browning. The hardest thing about this was trying to get the vernacular speech right, and not fall too far into his formal phrasing -- I don't think I altogether succeeded there.
Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (1)

a normal Monday

Plans for the day: Row. Work. Los of driving before and after. Yup, things are
back to normal Chez Dichroic. Oh, well, we can't all be jet-setters popping hither
and yon over the ocean like href="">Mechaieh. (What a stupid
thing to say right after two weeks in Korea. Memory fades

Today's excitement will be calling to get the cleaning service
restarted - yay!! We were going to wait until after my first paycheck, but my old
college roommate and her new husband and baby are visiting early next week, and I
sort of like to have the house clean for company. We've got a local regatta this
weekend, so the chances of having time and energy to do it ourselves are quite

And I have a meeting today, my first. With luck, it'll get me
well-started on the path to doing some real work.

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

March 03, 2002


I was chatting with the Three Bitchin' Babes last night: SWooP, href="">Caerula, and href="">Natalieee (apologies to Christine Lavin), but had to
get off early because it was getting toward bedtime and Rudder seemed lonely. Just
as well, since he told me afterward he thought I'd been spending a bit too much
time online, not so much now as when I was unemployed. He's probably right, since
he was really only talking about the weekends.

Today I'm going to go
make up for my frustrated shopping impulses yesterday at the RenFaire (where we
really didn't do much but eat). I want a new gym bag, because I don't think all
the exploded antiperspirant will come off my old one. I also need to return my
waterproof socks, which leak, and might stop in at a shoestore. Or the office
supplies place next to it; I'm a sucker for both shoes and fountain pens.

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

traumatic bra incident

I had another traumatic bra-related incident yesterday.

I may be the
only person I know over the age of 12 who can write those words and mean them.
Make that 14, because I had no need for one until about then. ANd when I did start
wearing them, for most of my life it was a 32A, which is the smallest size you can
buy without a "training bra" label. I was somewhat stunned recently to find myself
in the Gap buying a 34B -- a lot of my existing ones, regualr and sport, had been
getting tight under the arms, and I put it down to the effect of weight lifting on
pectoral muscles.

So back to yesterday. We cleaned up from the party,
a relatively trivial task since apparently all our local friends are growing old
and sedate (in some cases too sedate to even show up, drat them) and then Rudder
took off for a business trip. Naturally I took advantage of the rare alone time to
go shopping, and ended up doing something I'd never done. I got measured

You know how they say 60% of all American women, or some
such number, wear the wrong size bra? well, apparently I am among that number (I
figured for years I couldn't possibly be, because you can't go any smaller than a
32A.) But as of yesterday, I am a 32C. Apparently that tightness wasn't from the
band size.

I mean really, a C? What's that all about? Where did these
things come from? More importantly, what is my body doing and why have I not been
consulted? First there's the discovery last year that I'm a full inch taller than
I'd believed I was for years, then there's the fact that I weigh a good five
pounds more than I did a year ago (just after the height revelation, so I can't
blame that, dammit), the spreading gut -- the general contours are the same as
always and I still look fairly small around, but it looks softer and now
this. Next thing you know, the little bitches will start sagging on me. (They
still don't so far, knock cellulite.)

I'm still in quest of a T-shirt
bra -- one made not to show under clothing -- that performs as advertised. (By the
way, what sort of idiot markets something as a T-shirt bra, with te fiberfill for
smoothing, no seams and all that, and then puts freaking bows at the base
of each strap?) But now I'm scared to spend the money, just in case I morph again.

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

March 02, 2002

a bit of Static

I got to watch Saturday morning cartoons this morning, something I don't normally
do these days, though I used to love them. (This was back in the days of the
originalJustice League of America, the one where Wonderwoman was the only
girl.) I can recommend Static Shock, about a teen-aged kid with electrical powers.
Today, his powers were affected by sunspots, running overcharged one minute and
gone the next -- a nice metaphor for pubertal hormones, I thought. Luckily for
Static, these sunspots lasted for one half-hour cartoon, rather than the normal
11-year cycle. The kid's a good influence, anyway. I rather admired his calm
acceptance of losing his powers: "No, man, this is great. I can have time for my
friends again, time to study, time to sleep. It's good to have my life back
again." The Adventures of Jackie Chan (and his little niece sidekick) also looked
promising, but I was done on the erg by then.

Speaking of being a
sidekick, I had to erg today, to make up for skipping the gym Thursday. I need to
live up to my new title, Lady Erg, [preens] over at href="">Chez Sinister.

And now I
need to go see if I can stencil the dining room before Rudder gets back from the
gym. (I want to write "I Will Drink Life to the Lees", from Tennyson's Ulysses,
over the entrance to the living room.) He knows I'm going to do it, but I don't
think he's enthusiastic.

After that, we're going to spend the day at
the Renaissance Faire, with T2 and Egret. I get to spend a whole day being dragged
away from all the cool crafts stands, whee.

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

March 01, 2002


I think this may be one part "For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her", one part "Like a Hurricane", and one part the full moon's light before dawn this morning. It's definitely wanting to be a poem, not a song.


As I walked alone last night
I saw you under the trees at the edge of the road
Beckoning me. I could see
Your white shirt, your dark head, your waving hand
And best, the moon reflected in your eye.
I ran over to you, and, being who I am,
Tripped on a rock,
Fell flat, thudding painfully,
Full length on the ground.
As I stumbled back up,
I looked over, to tell you
I was all right, though scratched and scraped.

But you weren't there.
At the edge of the wood,
Your shirt was a white birch trunk,
Your hair a cap of leaves,
Your hand a branch, a blossom
Or the wing of an owl.
I don't know how the tree
Could counterfeit the gleam in your eye,
Unless it was my own wanting put it there.

Tonight I walked again
Along the same wooded road.
This time when I saw something move,
I smiled sadly. And told myself,
Wiser now, of the tricks the moon plays.
And how white the trunk of a birch can be,
How a birdÕs wing looks like a hand,
And how a lonely eye can see a glint
When no glint is there.
I watched out for rocks
And for the Moon's wiles,
And tried not to trip with foot or heart.

Then you ran to me, from under the trees,
Where you'd been leaning
On a white trunk, under dark leaves.
Real and incorporate now,
Not only a trick of moonlight.
(I touched you to make sure
And also just because I could.)
Moonlight's a chancy thing,
Best take your chances when offered.

Posted by dichroic at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

retrospective, current update, and future hope

I've been a good girl this week, mostly. I rowed Monday, Wednesday and today, and
went to the gym Tuesday, despite all the stress of starting a new job and so on.
Rudder and I slept in and skipped the gym yesterday, a mutual decision. He plans
to go tomorrow to make it up, but I'm not quite that dedicated. Besides, I've been
getting in lots of walking here, between having the cafeteria at the far end of
the facility and getting lost several times.

Today's row was nice --
the water was calm and there's a full moon. If I can reconstitute the wordsmithing
I was doing out there, I may post the results here later. If not, well, shorter
updates may just have to be part of the side-effects of a busier

I can't wait until next weekend when I get my first

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