April 30, 2002

not done yet?!?!

Arrggghhhh! Silly flight instructor! How can a BFR not be finished in THREE
HOURS?? I have to go back Sunday to do some more landings, VOR navigation and
hood work. Pfui.

Also, I've just been to get my eyes checked and
can't really see very well now. SO this is it for the moment.

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

shopping tip

Shopping tip for the day. I had a discussion with href="http://eilatan.net/adventures">Natalieee the other day, about how hard
it is to find clothes that fit if you're short, tall, thin, fat, muscular or
pretty much built in any way unlike a store mannequin. So when I saw an extremely
large woman in the locker room this morning in an extremely cool pair of pants
(black, knit, slit from hem halfway up to the knee with some little fabric strings
zigzagging across the slit, thus simultaneously trendy, comfortable, and showing
off a bit of skin that looks good on most people) I asked where she got them,
hoping it wasn't just a local place. As it turned out, they came from Fashion Bug,
which I think is pretty much national. You heard it here,

Coach DI has his juniors out on the water this morning,
despite having told Rudder yesterday they wouldn't be out in the mornings until
his wakeless launch comes in, in about 2 months. Yup, that's DI, the reliable
type. Fortunately (maybe he was being considerate?? or scared by all the
complaints about the launches out there now?) he sent them out without a launch.
Egret and I were out in the double, and rowing that thing, especially since we
were doing square blades drills, would not have been pretty with three
motor launches out there. Rudder and I may have to switch to rowing
Tuesday/Thursday after all when that happens.

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

The Sleep Cycle

I took the Ampersand topic for this month very literally:
"Why so slowly in winter / and later with such a rapid shudder?"
- Pablo Neruda, trans. William O'Daly

and ended up with the following. I like some things about it, but as usual, I'm not sure it's finished.
The Sleep Cycle
For a tree
The winter is
A time of sleep
And storage,
Of husbanding
And slow-flowing sap.

One day, the wind speaks
Of spring in breezes
Rather than winter blasts.
Twigs stir. The tree shakes
Sleep from its stiff branches
And ponders putting out a bud
Or two. The juices flow more quickly now.

As the tree comes full awake
Buds are a matter of course now.
Now the task is to unfurl flowers.
More buds expand into leaf.
The tree is snowed over with blossom
Then filmed over with a hazy gold and green.
Faster now, unfurl the leaves fully
Drop the blossoms, a localized carpet of snow
Begin to ruminate on globes of ripening fruit,
Fully dressed now in rich rustling
Reach up, reach out, gladly growing,
full-tilt into summer.

Waltzing in summer's winds, until exhaustion
Ushers in autumn. The breeze is colder now.
And there begins to be a taste of winter.
Glad to rest, the tree drops its leaves
Recklessly spending its last energy
In a show of pure bravado
A glory of crimson and gold.
Leaves fade and drop.
Immured again
In winter's peace
The tree rests.
Posted by dichroic at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2002

sports and fashion reports

First, the sports report. Race results: We had fun. The numbers look slightly
discouraging, but the bigger picture looks encouraging -- that means everything
that looks bad has a "But--" attached.

Hardcore and I think we came
in 5th of 6 -- we're not entirely sure whether the results we'd seen had the age
handicaps added in. So we weren't last, but more importantly, we were with the
pack. And this was despite my crabbing on three consecutive strokes about
300 meters in -- I just couldn't seem to get my oar straightened out. So we just
need to work on my finishes and on our endurance, but it is very encouraging that
we were staying with the other (bigger) rowers throughout.

who would have preferred more people to compete against, came in second of two in
the Men's B singles, to a rower who was not only skilled but very large, and who
had already won the (younger) Men's A category.

I came in last in my
singles race, but only by about a second and a half, not much over a race that
lasted over 4 and a half minutes. I crabbed again -- I really do need to
work on getting the oar out cleanly, but again, it felt good, and I was happy to
just be close to the other rowers.

We won medals for being the first
(read: only) lightweight finishers in all three events.

Rudder got
his semi-usual post-race migraine on the way home, which sucked because I had to
drive most of the way and do all of the unpacking and take the trash out.
It sucked worse for him, or course. We think he just needs to eat more before

Next, the fashion report. I got home to find most of the items
I had ordered from J. Crew sitting on the porch -- thank goodness my neighbors are
honest (or don't seem to have any desire for black-market size-fours). J. Crew has
wonderful petite sizing that enables me to have their low-riders actually sit
where their supposed to, low on my hips instead of up above my belly button like
most stores. Unfortunately, they only sell petites mail-order, so I can try them
on in the stores.

I got the brown pants I'd been wanting, in a shade
called desert that bears no resemblance to my local terrain. A little bright as
browns go, but I don't think they'll be too hard to match with tops, and the snug
fit above the knees should be made comfortable by the stretchy fabric. In an
effort to stay comfortable as the climate dial goes to "broil", I also got some
straight legged capris, in a mid-calf length that I think will look professional.
The odd thing about these is that the rear pockets are capri length also --
they're only about 2" deep, for some odd reason. Strange.

In the
category of "even more shameless indulgences, I also got a pair of jeans I really
don't need (hipster flares, not too flared and very snug in hips and thighs),
because all my most favorite jeans are getting a little ratty. That still makes it
hard to justify new ones, of course, since all the newer ones are sold already
looking ratty. It's even harder to justify since I've been trying to dress up a
bit and only wear jeans on Fridays.

Even harder to justify (and even
cooler) is the white lawn cotton prairie skirt with lingerie tucks at the yoke and
a ruffle and a fine, tiny fringe at the hem. They call it a gypsy skirt, but I've
got it on today, stylishly teamed with a snug cap-sleeved stretch denim shirt with
mother-of-pearl snaps and scalloped pocket flaps. Don't worry, the cap sleeves and
tiny fit keep it from looking like a cowgirl costume. Now all I need are just the
right sandals.................

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

April 26, 2002

And she's off..

Off to the races. So probably no further update until Monday. Looks like Hardcore
and I have some pretty formidable competition in our doubles race, but as long as
we're with the pack I'll be happy. I just hope we don't have to do heats-and-
finals, given that there are 6 entries, because my singles race is an hour
afterward. Almost all of the entries are lightweight, which is good in that we're
not racing a bunch of burly brutes, but bad in that we don't have a cakewalk to
the lightweight medal. Oh well, that's not what competition is for, anyway. My
singles race isn't quite as full, but all of this could change by the time of the
race. I hope it does, because there's only one other guy in Rudder's race at the

I am a little sore in unaccustomed places today. Yesterday we
had a company outing, in celebration of a hardware and software delivery, to a
local place called Rawhide. As the name would suggest, it's western themed --
there's some eating areas and a little Main Street where they have a few shops and
a few rides. They fed us well, along with a modicum of free beer, which may
possibly have influenced my next decision. I had been thinking riding the
mechanical bull a few days before a race might not be the best idea ever, in case
I hurt my back or something.

But the people I was walking around with
decided to go ride the little train, which sounded dead boring (don't tell them I
said so. I did want to go on the little deally where they put you in a harness
hanging from a couple of bungies and let you bounce and flip around for a while.
(I didn't especially want to go right after eating, but my wimpy stomach, so
easily upset by any kind or amount of food, doesn't particularly mind wild rides.)
That cost $4, but it was only $6 for a wristband that let you go on
everything! How could I pass up a deal like that??

A bit of a crowd
gathered by that point (I think someone got me on camera, dammit) and the boss was
trying to talk people into riding the bull. (He's from Texas.) All of the guys
wuz hemmin' and hawin' and makin' excuses, offerin' to buy rides for each other. I
just got plumb tired of it. So I marched me over to the bull man, held up my wrist
with the band on it, and said, "Gimme one 'a them helmets there". Cause, you know,
I make my living with my head, not my ridin' skills, and I didden want nothin' to
happen to it.

So the guy starts me off easy, then he gets the bull
buckin' and spinnin', then gone back the other way, and it gets wilder and wilder.
I think the bull even started snortin' in there somewhere. Eventually it became
clear to me that I was about to fall off soon, so I let it kick me off, you know
how you know, so the fall is a little controlled and you ain't flyin' off into the
dirt somewheres. They wuz a big crowd by then, and the boss hollers out, "Fifty-
four seconds!", meanin' that's how long I stayed on. Shee-it, if I'd knowed it'uz
that long, I'd'a gone for the full minute.

Never did get the boss-man
on that bull though. All talk, like so many men-folk.

Um, I think
everyone knows who I am now. I have a feeling those photos are destined for an
internal web page somewhere. And my thighs are remembering just how many years
it's been since I was on a horse.

Posted by dichroic at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2002

In which Dichroic finds out that she has done some good, after all

Last night was the final installation of Wednesday Night Out in its original
configuration, the goodbye dinner forT2 and Egret as they head off to Ireland.
Actually, he's leaving on Monday, while she'll be around for another week or so.
Somewhat depressing, even though it's not permanent. Egret tells me she has
started her own diary; I'm hoping she decides to share the URL with me, so we can
follow their Eire escapades. (I don't feel right searching for it, if she

Rudder present them with a montage of photos in a mat we'd
had people sign at the party Friday night, as well as a very nice shot of T2 in
his single. Several people couldn't make it, but one other rower did join us last
night. I'll call him Oldtimer, because she's been with the city program since it
began, as well as for the obvious reason. (Remember, this is a sport where getting
older is a good thing, because it's rewarded with generous handicaps.) Oldtimer
told me something last night I hadn't known, and that pleases me greatly.

Let me backtrack a bit. When I was about 12, I invited one friend to
join a chapter of a Jewish girls' group, BBG, that other friends were forming. Not
only did she join, but she was elected president, became active on a regional
level, and later ended up traveling to Israel with the group.

later, when we moved out here, I became friendly with a coworker, who had held
that same job for about five years. He had a pilot's license, but hadn't flown
since college. We invited him out flying one day; next thing we knew, he'd put
money on account at a local FBO and was up flying every week. Then we quit his
job, cashed in his 401(k), and went to a school run by Mesa airlines. Now he's
flying with them for a living, and is married to a woman he met while out at

So last night, Oldtimer told me that he had once stopped by
the lake in a subdivision where I used to row monthly with the rowing club, way
back before the lake we row in now was even created. The subdivision lake wasn't a
great place to row, being narrow, twisty, and not all that long, and we couldn't
row the bigger boats at all. Still, it was a chance to get out on the water when
there weren't really any other alternatives. They'd publicize the row, and give
new peopole a chance to taste the sport. Apparently I'd spent quite a while
talking to Oldtimer that day, and he'd decided this was exactly what he needed.
He's been rowing ever since, and has competed, gotten in much better shaoe, and
made some friends. How very cool, to know you've had that kind of effect on
someone's life.

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

April 24, 2002

I had a happy childhood the first time around

The latest car listen is Gloria Steinem's Revolution from Within. So far,
ick. Her book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions meant a lot to me
when I was college-aged or thereabouts, but I find myself disagreeing with this
one at every turn. I think part of the problem is that most of the research in it
is ten years old, and maybe all that stuff about "reparenting your inner child"
sounded less silly then. Or maybe not.

One problem I have with it is
that he really seems to be pressing all her readers to decide their childhood was
somehow horrid and scarring. Well, mine wasn't. It was far from idyllic, but like
most of life, it had good parts and bad parts. I tend to think my parents were not
especially good at being parents and certainly Mom's temper was on a looser rein
than it should have been, but both of them loved me and tried to do their best for
me. And if they didn't give me everything I needed, at least they helped me
develop the tools to eventually get it for myself. Really, what more can you ask
from fallible humans?

Same in school; my teachers liked me fairly
well, and if I got picked on occasionally, it wasn't the sort of concentrated
scapecoating SWooP's (wonderful and amazing) daughter is currently undergoing from
her (obviously braindead) classmates. And fortunately none of my teachers was ever
*that* oblivious. (Luckily, Herslf does have parents who are more keyed in than
mine were. She's an incredible kid and I only hope she still knows that about
herself after all this is done. Thank goodness fifth grade is

I'm sure there are lots of ways in which I still need to
grow, but I don't think my inner child really needs reparenting, or anything more,
really, than to be let out to play on a frequent basis. Fortunately, she and my
outer adult agree firmly on that. 'Scuse me while I go blow some of the bubbles I
keep on my desk.

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

April 23, 2002

without words

I figured out how to say it. Inspired by Mousepoet's words, but Rudder's actions:
Without Words

No I said
I don't need help getting to sleep
Or even that odd pleasure-spasm
So often accounted as the only right goal
Tonight, I want you to love me

And he did
He told me with lips and tongue and teeth
Speaking without voice or words
With hands signing a universal language
Against my skin, and all of his body on mine

Oh I thought
I didn't know he knew to do that
And stopped thinking for some time
Posted by dichroic at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

tapering and Churchill

What I want to write about, I can't write now (which narrows it down to either sex
or complaints about work, and I'm actually quite happy with my job....) Maybe
tonight, if I have time. (As if!)

So instead I will sublimate my
urges to write on that topic by writing about exercise, which seems appropriate.
I'm tapering down my workouts now, for my race Sunday. The theory behind tapering
is that you decrease workouts in the week or so before an event so that you will
build up nervous energy. The practical aspect is that I get to take it a bit
easier without feeling guilty.

I actually find the idea of feeling
guilty for not working out hard enough fairly stupid -- more of that equating
fitness with moral virtue idea we've been brainwashed by -- but I do anyway.

Posted by dichroic at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2002

vexing the stormy Hyades

Saturday, a couple of posters I had ordered from href=<"www.potomacrowing.com">Potomac Rowing came in the mail. Today, I
brought them into work (tricky, since I was also carrying 30 lbs of Gatorade,
having stocked up at Sam's Club -- it's getting hot here!) and hung them up. Both
have very nice pictures of single scullers. One has some line about perseverance
that is meant to be inspiring but rings fairly true anyway. ("What we hope ever to
do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence -- no attribution.) The
other has a long selection from Tennyson's Ulysses, a poem I like enough
that I have stenciled "I will drink life to the lees," on my dining room

I hung the posters (T pins and binder clip on the fabric
cubicle walls), sat down, looked up at the Ulysses poster .... and promptly
noticed a typo. Shit! It's a very minor one ("to" for "too") but now it's what
I'll see every time I look at that poster. They also changed Tennyson's spelling
(he wrote "vext", "enjoy'd", "suffer'd", and so on, and they substituted standard
spellings) which is annoying but not as much so.

I called the company
and the guy there told me that these posters were printed five years ago and no
one has ever complained before. He offered to let me return it, but after all,
it's not like it's damaged and I can get a better one.

Maybe I'll
give it to Rudder. It won't bother him -- he can't spell anyway.

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

April 21, 2002

should I fly or should I row

I'm thinking of semi-retiring.

Not from work (well, I think about it,
but can't figure out how to actually do it) but from rowing. One thing most people
who read this (do enough people really read this for me to say "most" with a
straight face?) is that I really am a dilettante at heart. Oh, I know I've talked
about rowing a lot for the year I've been writing in here, but I've actually been
doing it for 12 years, on and off. That "and off" is what I'm talking about. I
never actually stopped rowing entirely, except for when we first moved here and
there was no water for the first three years, but there have been times when it
was de-emphasized, when I would have talked to you about rock climbing, or flying,
or mountain biking or ultimate frisbee. The only one of my hobbies that never gets
shelved for long is reading, and that's not exactly a hobby. More like the
foundation of everything else.

The reason I've been thinking about
cutting back is that I'd like to go ahead and get my IFR (Instrument Flight
Rating) and there's just not enough time to do it in my current schedule. I
figure I could cut back to rowing twice a week, drop the weight-lifting (er, not
literally) and fly once or twice before work during the week as well as on a
weekend day. That should keep me reasonably fit and able to get back into it for
the fall head-racing season, assuming I'm done by then.

There's no
question about whether instrument flying is something I want to do; it will make
me a better and safer pilot all around, and keep me in the air and building up
hours instead of staying on the ground as I mostly have for the last couple of
years. Also, I want to keep up with my husband (who got his rating, cleverly, just
before the lake here opened). It's always just been a question of when to do it. I
can afford to do it now, though I suppose that will cut into my savings a

On the other hand, this time around I've been training and
conditioning more intensely than I ever had before. I'm a better, faster, and
stronger rower than I've ever been, and I hate to let any of that slip after
working so hard on it. I don't know what to do.

One consolation is
that people row all their lives; there are 80-year-olds still racing. People fly
until they get old enough to start failing the EKG exams. Whichever activity I
choose to deemphasize, at least I've got the rest of my life to catch back up on

Maybe I should go rock climbing instead.

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

April 20, 2002

today I am .... zucchini

I had a great idea for what to write about today, but I'll be damned if I can
figure out what it was. Maybe I should go nap instead.

For some
reason, going to the boatyard, washing and waxing the double, eating breakfast,
and walking all around the airport next door, which is having some sort of block
party thing for the people who live there has left me very tired. I can report,
though, that block parties are a lot more interesting when they include activates
like dropping flour sacks from a plane, trying to hit a target, and trying to land
exactly on a given point on the runway. I'll be practicing landings myself
tomorrow morning, but I don't think I'll be ready for the landing competition any
time soon.

There are some very, very pretty aircraft at that airport.
Also some houses with virtually nonexistent landscaping -- it's clear where these
people place their priorities.

Speaking of things in the sky, I
finally remembered to look for the amassed planets in the western sky. Whoever
said they would be in line apparently flunked first-grade art class, but there was
a sort of bright V formation near the moon that I think was them.

I'm considering shopping for patio furniture or bathing suits this
afternoon. I probably look better poured into the furniture, though. And I
wouldn't have to worry about whether I was tan enough for it. Meanwhile, off to
veg some more.

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

April 19, 2002

fun again

Rudder wanted to row the single today, and Egret didn't want to go out in the
double, so I ended up rowing a quad with Hardcore, She-Hulk, and another woman
they've been rowing with. It was actually a good row; the other woman is about
She-Hulk's size (medium -- I just gave her that nom because at the time she was
in a boat with several of us coxswain-sized rowers -- and as I've pointed out
before, Marvel's She-Hulk comic character is hot, so it's not meant as an insult).
They rowed in the "engine room", the middle seats, while Hardcore and I were in
stroke and bow respectively, and it was a good balance. We had power, and our set
was so good that we did some square-blade drills right at the beginning (rowing
with square blades demands very good balance, because otherwise you keep getting
the oars stuck in the water). The new person did exceptionally well, considering
she had never even done a racing start before, and we did a bunch of starts and
two 1000m race pieces.

Definitely a boat with potential. Of course,
it would be even more exciting if we could ever keep a boat together long enough
to realize our potential. I have hopes for this one -- it's a good group of
people, all of whom have taken the initiative to get out on the water, switching
times or programs or whatever it took instead of just blindly following a coach
around. Maybe this time....

And if not, it's still a boat that would
be fun to row with now and then. I've just realized it's been *weeks*, maybe
longer, since the last time I had a really sucky row. As in, not since last time I
rowed with a club or city boat. And I think I'm rowing better, faster, and more
confidently now than ever, probably largely because I get so much more time on
water with blades moving. I definitely benefited from my time with AussieCoach,
and he occasionally drives over and gives me a few more pointers, but it's been
nice choosing who I row with and sticking to smaller boats. This is getting to be
much more fun again!

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

April 18, 2002

A life in brief

A Life

And don't forget to look at the stars tonight.
Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

work, truck, and (of course) rowing

It's a slow day for me here. I'm still new enough that this makes me nervous, like
my boss will suddenly decide I'm not needed at all and will end my contract. On
the other hand, if he did that, next time things heat up, he'd have to do all the
work and I'm fairly sure he doesn't want that. Still, I feel as if I should be
doing more to bring us to process utopia (for those involved in software
development, that would be CMM Level 5).

The week after next, after
the Long Beach regatta, I think I may take a morning off, to go take my Biannual
Flight Review (BFR), gets my eyes examined, and maybe get the haircut for which I
will by then be overdue. Taking time off is another thing that feels odd when
you're still the new person at work. Amazingly, since I'm a contractor, I think I
will actually get paid for the time off (yay!). This would probably be a good time
to review that policy.

After work today I get to go pick up my truck,
whose "Check Engine" light had BETTER not come on again, if she doesn't want me to
start liking Zippy the Honda better than her. Because of my long commute and the
hours Rudder works, this is a two stage process: I pick up the keys on my way
home, then we go back together to actually get the truck since I can't drive two
vehicles at once. What I really need is a garage that stays open

Somewhere in there we need to do a wee bit of shopping for our
contribution to tomorrow night's potluck. Amusingly, we have this, which is a
party for the city rowers, then in a few weeks another party for the club
competitive rowers, even though we don't actually row with either group anymore.
Obviously, we're just special. Either that or we just don't like anybody unless
they're having a party.

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

April 17, 2002

Go and find it

I don't feel like leaving my diary on that last, depressing note. One of the
glories of online diaries is being able to reinvent your day just by adding anew
entry. So instead, after that whole entry about why Kipling href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/kipling.html">doesn't understand women,
let me explain why I like him anyway.

The Explorer


There's no sense in going further -- it's the edge of

So they said, and I believed it -- broke my land and sowed my crop --

Built my barns and strung my fences in the little border station

Tucked away below the foothills where the trails run out and stop.

Till a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes

On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated -- so:

"Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges --

"Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!"

So I went, worn out of patience; never told my nearest neighbours --

Stole away with pack and ponies -- left 'em drinking in the town;

And the faith that moveth mountains didn't seem to help my labours

As I faced the sheer main-ranges, whipping up and leading down.

March by march I puzzled through 'em, turning flanks and dodging shoulders,

Hurried on in hope of water, headed back for lack of grass;

Till I camped above the tree-line -- drifted snow and naked boulders --

Felt free air astir to windward -- knew I'd stumbled on the Pass.

'Thought to name it for the finder: but that night the Norther found me --

Froze and killed the plains-bred ponies; so I called the camp Despair

(It's the Railway Gap to-day, though). Then my Whisper waked to hound me: --

"Something lost behind the Ranges. Over yonder! Go you there!"

Then I knew, the while I doubted -- knew His Hand was certain o'er me.

Still -- it might be self-delusion -- scores of better men had died --

I could reach the township living, but. . . He knows what terror tore me . . .

But I didn't . . . but I didn't. I went down the other side,

Till the snow ran out in flowers, and the flowers turned to aloes,

And the aloes sprung to thickets and a brimming stream ran by;

But the thickets dwined to thorn-scrub, and the water drained to shallows,

And I dropped again on desert -- blasted earth, and blasting sky. . . .

I remember lighting fires; I remember sitting by 'em;

I remember seeing faces, hearing voices, through the smoke;

I remember they were fancy -- for I threw a stone to try 'em.

"Something lost behind the Ranges" was the only word they spoke.

But at last the country altered -- White Man's country past disputing --

Rolling grass and open timber, with a hint of hills behind --

There I found me food and water, and I lay a week recruiting.

Got my strength and lost my nightmares. Then I entered on my find.

Thence I ran my first rough survey -- chose my trees and blazed and ringed 'em --

Week by week I pried and sampled -- week by week my findings grew.

Saul he went to look for donkeys, and by God he found a kingdom!

But by God, who sent His Whisper, I had struck the worth of two!

Up along the hostile mountains, where the hair-poised snowslide shivers --

Down and through the big fat marshes that the virgin ore-bed stains,

Till I heard the mile-wide mutterings of unimagined rivers,

And beyond the nameless timber saw illimitable plains!

'Plotted sites of future cities, traced the easy grades between 'em;

Watched unharnessed rapids wasting fifty thousand head an hour;

Counted leagues of water-frontage through the axe-ripe woods that screen 'em --

Saw the plant to feed a people -- up and waiting for the power!

Well, I know who'll take the credit -- all the clever chaps that followed --

Came, a dozen men together -- never knew my desert-fears;

Tracked me by the camps I'd quitted, used the water-holes I hollowed.

They'll go back and do the talking. They'll be called the Pioneers!

They will find my sites of townships -- not the cities that I set there.

They will rediscover rivers -- not my rivers heard at night.

By my own old marks and bearings they will show me how to get there,

By the lonely cairns I builded they will guide my feet aright.

Have I named one single river? Have I claimed one single acre?

Have I kept one single nugget -- (barring samples)? No, not I!

Because my price was paid me ten times over by my Maker.

But you wouldn't understand it. You go up and occupy.

Ores you'll find there; wood and cattle; water-transit sure and steady

(That should keep the railway rates down), coal and iron at your doors.

God took care to hide that country till He judged His people ready,

Then He chose me for His Whisper, and I've found it, and it's yours!

Yes, your "Never-never country" -- yes, your "edge of cultivation"

And "no sense in going further" -- till I crossed the range to see.

God forgive me! No, I didn't. It's God's present to our nation.

Anybody might have found it but -- His Whisper came to Me!

Yes, I know it reeks of Imperialism -- that and its attendant racism were bred
into the Victorians and Kipling never managed to escape it, though he had a few
moments of glimmering on the verge of insight. But still that repeated phrase,
""Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges --" rings up
and down my spine every time I read it.

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

not a great week

This is really not shaping up into a great week. I've sent three sympathy notes
just this week, and it's only Wednesday. It may not be safe to know

(To be fair, the three notes were only about two events: href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/sadnews.html">this one and the death of an
old friend's elderly and ailing father. But still.) On the plus side, a rower I
know slightly has just announced the birth of his first son, reaffirming my belief
in the balance of life. Not that that's much consolation to anyone who is
grieving. I feel helpless, mostly because I am. When it's someone else's grief,
you offer help, but you don't want to intrude, and you alternate between
empathetic grief and completely not thinking about it, which feels odd when you
take a step back and consider it.

Moving on to areas I have the
ability to affect, there were three launches out this morning, and it was like
rowing on a boiling kettle. A boiling kettle that was being shaken. (Clearly, by
someone not concerned about possible scalding.) And it will only get worse,
because DI's juniors are rowing every morning and they will also be getting a
launch soon. I know that someday my luck will run out and I will tip a boat over,
but I would much prefer that it be due to my own mistakes.

emailed Unknown Legend, suggesting that launches only be allowed on certain days,
like MWF and weekends. That's actually the situation right now, but I think when
DI gets his launch, he'll be out every day, and we small boats will have no
escape. She, being a city worker, has of course, passed my suggestion on to
someone else, but at least she does do that, and understands the problem. Really,
the best way to handle this might be an agreement among all the rowing groups,
rather than a rule passed by the city. Unfortunately, I can't make it to the lake
users' meetings, because they're held during work hours. Maybe Rudder can go

Things to be thankful for: My job. Weather that has cooled off
to "warm" instead of "inferno". (110 degree days will be here soon enough!) A race
in 11 days to look forward to.

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

April 16, 2002

Harry's daughter and Rudyard Kipling

I've been listening to Antonia Fraser's History of the Kings and Queens of
on my way to work, which may be the best way to finish something of that scope. Though it does get a little confusing when you're say, in the middle of the Wars of the Roses and you can't turn back a few pages to check who's on which side. I want to get a hardcopy of the book to keep for reference, but doubt I'll ever read it through.

At the moment it's up to Elizabeth I, which started me thinking of Kipling's
depiction of her, in Rewards and Fairies, the sequel to Puck of Pook's
Hill. It's an odd thing, but I always remember the included poem as ending on a
triumphant note. But here's the last stanza:

The Queen was in her chamber, her sins were on her head.

She looked the spirits up and down and statelily she said:
"Backward and forward and sideways though I've been,
Yet I am Harry's daughter and I am England's Queen!"
And she faced the looking-glass (and whatever else there was)
And she saw her day was over and she saw her beauty pass
In the cruel looking-glass, that can always hurt a lass
More hard than any ghost there is or any man there was!

I think I had remembered her declaration of who she was, and her facing straight onto the glass, and had forgotten the last three lines. I still think it would be as true to life, and truer to the character Kipling drew, without the final stress on loss of beauty.

I have never met a woman who doesn't want to be beautiful, and often it's more for ourselves than for anyone else. (Lord knows Elizabeth would have had flatterers enough no matter what she looked like.) But to have been true to the role she was born to, to hold up her head through fear and imprisonment, solitude and statecraft, to be "Harry's daughter and England's Queen", that meant something to Kipling's Bess and also, I suspect, to the historical one. Maybe the "cruel looking-glass" can hurt a woman more than her ghosts or her men (though I doubt it) but nothing it says can't be faced, and faced with head high, if she feels worthy of herself.

Maybe the fault is in Kipling's understanding of women? He understood men, or many aspects of them, and it seems to me his fault may be not realizing that the masculine traits he grasped so well are only a matter of gender, not sex, and that they are not necessarily apportioned by chromosomes. I do think he may have a point when he says that "The Female of the Species is more deadly than the male," but that is specifically about motherhood, and doesn't deal with any of a woman's other roles. He understands workers and explorers and fighters, but doesn't seem to realize they don't have to be men. His women stay home, like the Widow of Windsor and the harp-singing Dane women.

As you can probably tell, one of the things I miss about school is the opportunity to drive home a point in written form, especially when it's something you never get to talk about in everyday life. Those last three paragraphs are just begging to be turned into an English essay.

Besides, the word "statelily" is fun to read.

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

April 15, 2002

sad news

My pregnant friends have lost their baby. I don't think I had ever mentioned their
names (well, their noms) here, because I don't know if they had made the pregnancy
public to everyone, though they had told friends and family. And I've seen enough
to be reluctant to mention anyone's pregnancy during the first trimester, or until
I'm sure they've made it entirely publics knowledge.

Even in
heartbreak, there are degrees. I imagine miscarrying is not as bad as losing a
child you have held in your arms and sung to sleep, or, worse, one in whom you
were beginning to see signs of who she would turn out to be. Still, losing the
chance to do and see all of those things has to be entirely wrenching. And it must
be worse for those, like my friends, who have gone to great lengths to conceive,
who endured the wait to find if they had gotten lucky, who were being so, so
careful with this fragile budding life.

I know that miscarriages in
the first trimester are very common; one of the downsides of the technology that
has so greatly reduced child mortality is that we now grieve over the end of a
early pregnancy that would at one time have been only suspected. Still, telling
future parents not to love a child they have worked and hoped for must be about
like telling a tree to grow down instead of up. It could happen, but it's not
bloody likely.

The worst part is that my friends aren't together
right now to comfort each other; he's out of the country for another two weeks.
She has family nearby, and I've told her (as I'm sure others have) to call on us
for anything, but it's not the same. It's their grief, not ours, and outsiders can
only help smooth the rough edges. We can't touch the core.

I don't
know what to hope for my friends, or what to say to them. I don't know if they'll
try again. I do hope they find some comfort in each other, that this draws them
together instead of apart, and that the shared sorrow becomes a very tender memory
that shapes instead of blighting them, like a tree with a branch cleft by
lightning that keeps growing, with new branches twining around the old scars.

Posted by dichroic at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2002

so tired

Blah. I am so not ready for Monday. Just tired, and wishing for another day to do
nothing -- or more correctly, a day to do nothing. Yesterday, we worked on the
boats some, and then I flew, and then we went out for some Thai food. Today, we
drove all the way up to the property (about 2.5 hours each way) just to water the
trees we planted there two weeks ago. And now I have no desire to eat anything and
would just rather go to bed.

I have to eat something, though,
because Hardcore and I are rowing tomorrow morning and I need some energy for
that. We have a race in just two weeks.

In a little bit, I'll try
again to call Genibee to sing her
Green Grow the Rushes-O so I have that to look forward to, at least. I also
get to finish up These is my Words, a fictional diary of a woman living in
the Arizona Territory from 1881-1901. It won the Arizona Author Award and was a
finalist for the Willa Cather Literary Award, but more importantly I like it quite
a bit. It is interesting to get an early view of so many places I know, back when
living here was far more difficult and dangerous, and what I know of the time
suggests the author, Nancy Turner, did her research.

Speaking of Arizona, have I mentioned it was supposed to reach 100 degrees here
today? And yet the blooming palo verde (I think that's what that is with all the
yellow flowers) and the budding saguaro say this is just spring. I dread the onset
of summer here every year, though there are so many things to like about living
out here. I could never move back east, I don't think.

Later on, I can browse through the travel books Rudder and I bought last night, or
read Elizabeth Peters' The Golden One, which I couldn't resist after seeing
it was 30% off. I always forget they do that for bestsellers, and wouldn't have
realized this was one anyhow.

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

April 13, 2002

sore-thumb books

There are, famously, some one-book authors, like Margaret Mitchell or Ralph
Ellison (though someone else pieced together Ellison's second manuscript and
published it posthumously. Another odd phenomenon I've noticed is what I'll call
one-book-in-the-genre authors -- or sore-thumb works, since they stick out like a
sore thumb from the rest of an oeuvre. These are the ones who write one book that
is nothing like any of their others. For some reason, that one book always seems
to be better (or at least, I like it better) than any of their

For example, I have no fondness for his usual genre
thrillers, and thus never plan to read anything else by Steven Coonts, but I loved
Cannibal Queen, his true story of barnstorming across the country in an
antique biplane. It's a wonderful read, if you like true stories, travel stories,
or airplanes.

I'm not much for unhappy endings, and don't expect I'd
be fond of anything else by Fay Weldon, but Letters to Alice: On First Reading
Jane Austen
is a unique combination of letters, biography, history, and
argument in praise of literature. I've never read anything like it. The setting is
fictional, but the arguments in the first-person letters are obviously right from
Weldon's own passions.

I have no great liking for horror stories,
and, I'm afraid, a bit of snobbish disdain for anything on the best seller lists
(not enough, fortunately, to keep me from reading anything that sounds appealing,
which is why I'm a rabid Rowlingphile). But I loved Steven King's book On
, which really ought to be called, "On Life and Writing" since that's a
better description. Rudder loved it too (we listened to the audio version, with
King himself reading) and he's even less of a wannabe writer than I

Maybe what these have in common is that they are the books that
the writers really wanted to write -- and these are all writers with enough clout
to publish just about anything they want. Or maybe the publishers realized just
how good they all were. I don't know, but I keep an eye out now for sore-thumb
works, because there's a better than average chance they'll fall into the
"wonderfully quirky" category.

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

April 12, 2002


Marn's extra walk up the hill
reminded me that I, um, "forgot" to write about my own idiocy the other day. Since
starting back to work, and thus back to showering at the gym, I've been using a
key lock mostly because that happens to be the first lock I found lying around
when I looked for one. In fact, just the other day I was thinking, "You know, it's
really stupid to carry keys around when I don't have to -- I should go look for
the combo lock I know is around somewhere."

Then I made my second
mistake. I try to wear glasses once or twice a week to give my eyes a break from
contact lenses. I can wear them to the gym, but try to avoid it on rowing days as
I don't want to lose my glasses on the day my 12-year dry streak breaks and I fall
in. So I wore my glasses on Thursday. Now, I don't know why, but I am demonstrably
and measurably stupider when I can't see. Apparently, my brain thinks that if the
rest of the world is fuzzy, it ought to join in.

So yesterday, I got
up, dragged myself to the gym, put my stuff in a locker, worked out (dragging my
keys with me the whole time, as well as my erg log and water bottle), returned to
the locker room, took out what I needed to shower, and put everything else
(everything else) back in the locker. And (you knew this all along) locked
it. And as you may have noticed in your own life, keys don't generally fall into
the category of "things needed to shower".

Naturally, I didn't
realize all this until I had stumbled along the blurry way to the shower, sluiced
down, and come back to the locker, ready to put my eyes back on and get dressed.
That would be the point at which the "Oops!" feeling hit, with me there in nothing
but a towel and unable to see anything more than two feet in front of me (I
navigate around blurs pretty well, though, due to much

Fortunately, my gym keeps a bolt-cutter on hand,
presumably for cutting off locks that are left on overnight. Even more
fortunately, there were other women in the locker room, who were not only willing
to go get someone with said bolt-cutters, but who somehow managed not to laugh at
me. (Rudder laughed, when I told him the story. Hell, I'd have laughed

Result: a happy ending. But I really do need to go find that
other lock now!

Posted by dichroic at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2002

work: what a silly idea

The bloom has definitely worn off. My job isn't new and sparkly anymore, and if I
had my choice, I'd work only about three days a week. On the other hand, the fact
that I'd still choose to go in at all means that I still like the place a lot. I
just wish working for a living didn't have to take up quite so much of that

The sad part is that now I can't even pretend to myself that if
I didn't work I would be writing a book, redecorating the house, or finishing some
other exciting project. I was home for six months and I didn't do any of that. Of
course, I was looking for a job, but no matter what anyone says, that really
doesn't take as much of the day as actually holding down a job. At least, not in a
downturn when no one is calling for interviews. At least, not for me, though
others might be more industrious.

I would, of course, have been more
likely to redo the house or build an airplane if unemployment didn't always seem
to involve loss of salary (darn it!) so maybe I still have some excuse. It's
fairly obvious, though, that no matter what else I did, a sizeable portion of my
time would still be spent in that same chair, reading. Well, someone has to be the
consumer for all the writers out there who do actually get things

Incidentally, on the house front, we're going to sign the
final papers today to refinance our house, going to a 15-year loan. The rate is a
bit lower and we don't have to pay mortgage insurance any more so it's only a bit
more (well, not quite a *little* bit)) than we currently pay. And so back to work,
since I need to leave early for that.

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

April 10, 2002

Ice on it

Somehow, I like this more than anything I've written since Sarah Whistled or even Jubilate. Maybe it's because like those, this one forced its germ on me, instead of my going out to look for it. Maybe it's also because it took me longer to coax that germ into a grown plant than it usually does when I make one up without a seed from the cosmos.

I used to watch you gaze at me,
Eyes brown and clear as mountain brook.
Eyes so transparent I could see
The bedrock love beneath the look.

Every now and then I glance
But itŐs been years since last I caught
That gaze. Your eyes look off askance
Or lowered lids hide all your thought.

And yet I know in every bone
If anything, you love me more
Than in the days when eyes alone
Told of love then newly born.

But still, if bone-deep kenning brooks no lies,
What happened to the love-look in your eyes?
Posted by dichroic at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2002

sod off, smiley

First, here's a link to my April href="http://www.joannemerriam.com/journal/ampersand/">Ampersand entry,
because it's only been up on the index page for a couple of hours.

the way to the cafeteria just now, I was having spring and summer songs swirling
in my head -- mostly the old Broadway ones like "It's a Grand Night for Singing",
"It Might as Well be Spring", and "June is Bustin' Out All Over", which I feel
entitled to despite being a bit early, considering we'll have highs in the 90s all
week. Of course, I didn't actually sing any of these, not even out there in the
courtyard where it wouldn't bother anyone working, oh dear me no, because that
wouldn't be behaving normally just like everyone else, and we couldn't have that.
Why, what if everyone were to act as if they enjoyed being outside on a beautiful
day? We might have harmony in the streets!

If I can't sing, not only
is it not my revolution, it's not my idea of how to enjoy life. And so I'm
subversive: I whistle. People don't look at me quite as strangely for that, though
they do have a tendency to say, "Boy, you must be in a good mood!" even if what
I'm whistling is suicide blues or Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D

But then people do have a tendency to all make the same
comments in the same situation. Lately at work, I've been going through the
archives to make sure everything's in place, which is easiest to do by working out
in the hall by the files, with a chair and a small table. I have been wondering if
whether it would be rude to make a small sign saying, "No, they're not just out of
space; no, this isn't my new office; yes, I do have a regular cube," since the
great majority of passersby make some comment along those lines.

second and third place for all-time least favorite comment are "There she is!"
(said by someone who hasn't been looking for you) and "And how are we today?". The
winner by a long shot, though, is "Smile!" That one always leaves me wanting to
snarl, "It's my face and I'll do whatever the hell I want with it!" But of course,
all I really do is to grin weakly and hope they go away soon.

Dichroic must be grumpy today.

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

April 08, 2002


Heh, heh, heh.... I think I've gotten another friend interested in starting an
online journal. I'm hoping she does, because she's embarking on some major changes
and I'd like to keep track of how it all goes. This will be the first person I
know IRL that I've gotten to start writing, though I think I was one factor for a
couple of list friends to start. I feel like a pusher ;-)

Which is
only fair, because yesterday left me feeling like an addict, with shopping as my
drug-of-choice. I was contemplating going to the swanky mall to buy yet another
pair of shoes (no, I'm not that bad; I'd have returned one of the pairs I'd
gotten the previous day). I decided not to do that but then promptly went and
spent way too much on fancy hair gunk and nail polish. Did I say I needed to stop
spending so much? Oops. Someone please tell me if it's even possible to spend
$44 in a beauty supply store on completely unneeded items without being a Bad

Hell. Planned Parenthood could provide all kinds of services
for an at-risk kid for that kind of money. Habitat for Humanity could probably
build an entire room in a house for that much (well, ok, maybe a wall). Maybe I
need a list of what really useful things different amounts of money can buy to
take with me when I get the urge to shop. Or stick to online and catalog shopping,
where I tend to ponder more and binge less.

I do have an odd sense of
priorities, though. After that shopping I took Rudder out to dinner and a fancy
steak place, in a very belated celebration of my first paycheck here, and spent
twice as much. And that doesn't bother me one bit.

Posted by dichroic at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2002

Taliesin West

On Friday night, we took an evening tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Arizona complex,
, a brilliant idea of Queue's. Night turned out to be a great time to tour
it; the air was cool and comfortable and most of the structures are canvas-roofed,
and glow in the dark from the lights inside. I liked it better than I expected to
do. The low ceilings that I had expected to be claustrophobic were mostly limited
to fairly small areas or areas where you were expected to be seated, and the
chairs are far more comfortable than they looked (not necessarily true of those
from his Prairie years, according to the guide, who was pretty much charisma-free
but was extremely knowledgeable. All of the walls consist of rough cement binding
large rocks from the nearby mountainside; the rust colors used on all the beams
and woodwork match the colors of the rocks and the painted cement floor, so that
the total effect is much warmer than I would have imagined. The house is very open
to the outside, and carefully aligned to frame certain views. There is even at
least one place where a hole is cut in a glass wall to allow an ancient vase to
fit on a narrow shelf.

One of our favorite features was the enormous
hearths throughout, all vast alcoves about four feet high, six wide, and three
deep. I don't know whether these would be allowed by today's building codes, but
if they are, we'd like one like that (preferably with an access to an ah pit at
one side to make cleanup easier). Another favorite feature was the dragon
sculpture given to Mrs. Wright after FLW's death. The giver had intended to plumb
it as a fountain, but Mrs. Wright pointed out that all self-respecting dragons
breathe fire, not water, and so it has been converted into a gas torch. It's the
only one I've seen where the flame tube points down instead of up, and the
resulting curved flame is beautiful and can be seen from all over the

The best part of the tour was not due to FLW at all, except in
so far as he provided inspiration. Outside the cabaret theater, there is a
sculpture garden containing about 20 works by Heloise Crista. Some of her works
are shown here; the
website doesn't have any of my particular favorites, but you can see her style at
least. I have to admit that though I loved the sculptures, I hated some of her
names for them, things like "Into the Future" that struck me as bloated and
pretentious. There were a few, though, like "The Mind of God", "Through a Glass
Darkly", that are exact descriptions of the works, and there was one I really
liked, though more for its other associations: "Perelandra". All of her works are
for sale, though I have no idea of prices and am feared to ask.


Oh -- I do have one complaint about the guide. He claimed
Wright used the name "Taliesin" to honor his Welsh ancestry and because the name
literally means "shining brow" and Wright liked to build on the brow of a hill. I
mean, really now. There is no way I can imagine that if the man had any knowledge
of Welsh mythology at all, as it seems reasonable to think he did, that he would
choose the name for its literal meaning -- though that might play a part -- rather
than for its far more important connection with the greatest bard of Celtic lore,
especially since Wright believed all the arts to be connected.

the tour as a whole left me half-tempted to throw everything else up and go study
architecture. I think Queue's visiting youngest sister, who is still in high
school, was more than half tempted.

Posted by dichroic at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2002

shoes and shopping

Feh. I have *got* to give up on the idea of shopping for clothes or shoes with
Rudder along. He doesn't particularly enjoy it, but we keep trying it just because
we do enjoy spending the time together. I thought it wouldn't be so bad today
because he needed things in the mall too, and I knew exactly what I wanted.
However, finding the sort of shoes I wanted still took looking through several
stores and trying several pairs on, while he took about 5 minutes to buy a pair of
Levis and came right back. He wasn't complaining, having known exactly what he was
getting into, but because I knew he wasn't enjoying himself, I rushed through
buying shoes and probably made my decision too fast. There's a particular style in
a particular brand I want, and I can't seem to find them anywhere. Today I finally
gave up and bought a similar style in another brand.....but I may drive up into
the rich part of town tomorrow, see if I can find the ones I originally wanted,
and if so, return the others. Or maybe I'll just sleep all day.

the plus side, I did get some very good sushi at the Kona Grill.

Posted by dichroic at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2002


There's a woman here who keeps a whiteboard posted with annoyingly perky sayings
that are meant to be inspirational. (It took me a long time to phrase that
sentence without using the word "stupid", which already reveals that, in the
jargon, I am probably part of the problem rather than the solution.) Under the
saying of the week, she's written "NEVER prouder to be an

In the interests of sparing myself the sort of discussion
that happens between people with no common ground, I haven't asked her what she
means by that, but I keep wondering. What worries me is a nagging hunch that she
means it in the sense of, "My country is rich and relatively free, and so I am a
better person than you third-world types, who were obviously doomed to live there
by some karmic failing of your own." I'm sure she'd never put it into those words,
but as far as I can tell, that's pretty much what a lot of flagwaving boils down

Not that I am not happy to be an American myself, you understand;
it's just that I find it hard to be proud of something that was mostly an
undeserved accident of birth. If pride has been earned, it wasn't by me, but by my
grandparents and great-grandparents, who didn't have all that easy a time getting
here, or surviving once they did. If I want pride, I need to do something to earn
it. Being born American isn't enough; doing something to make the place better
after I got here would be.

Of course, I may be underestimating this
woman. Maybe she has done something to make it a better country. Or maybe she
means something different by that phrase. There is also the vicarious pride you
have in a person, group, or even country with which you are associated --like
being proud of your friend for her accomplishments, though you had no part in
them. Maybe this is what she means -- that she is proud of her country for what it
has done.

Though I doubt it.

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

April 04, 2002

shoes vs. kids

I was seriously tempted to go shoe-shopping during lunch but ate cheap Mexican
food with co-workers instead. Much more economic....except that I'll probably do
the shoe-shopping this weekend anyway. I know exactly what I want except that
it's been expanding. I've been wanting some black slides, dressy ones with a
closed toe and funky little French heels, for a while now. After seeing what some
of the women at the gym wear to work though, I've concluded something like tan
mules with wood (or otherwise tan-colored) soles would also be versatile. I
already have some sandals, but they're on the casual side. (When I say "some", I
mean 3 pair, black and tan Born leather ones and Tevas. Yes, I suppose I am a

Something Hardcore said while we were rowing Monday has
really up the whole spawn / don't spawn issue for me. She told me that before
having some of her (four) kids, sometimes all she could think about was wanting
another baby. I have never had that happen in my life. Not about babies, at least.
I have been consumed with the desire to get a particular book, or even a pair of
shoes (see above), but never a small drooly person, much as I enjoy other
people's. That may brand me as shallow, but far better to face one's own failings
than take an irremediable step that could have such drastic effects on an innocent

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

April 03, 2002

aero goes caz

Arghh, arghh, arghh. I'm in the middle of a 5-meeting day. Luckily my boss
cancelled the middle one so I'm down to four. The last one is a major client
meeting, though. The only good thing is that it's a telecon so I didn't have to
dress up.

Funny: in the last few years since I've been in hits sort
of situation, even the aerospace industry seems to have lightened up. Not only do
people wear jeans way more than is sanctioned by the official dress code, but I've
even seen several people in shorts. I'm starting to wonder how they'll dress once
we're into full-on summer heat (which would be in about another

Similarly, the all-day presentations I remember making for
things like Critical Design Review are now scaled back into much more laid-back
incremental reviews like the one I have today. And, I hope, the people working on
things like software process are seen as usual team members instead of pallid and
useless anal retentives who get in the way of getting anything done. There's one
in particular I like to remember whenever I'm in danger of thinking too well of
myself. He didn't ever add anything useful to the project (except the rubber-stamp
approval our government clients demanded), he never made things easier, and he
often wore an unfortunate sorts jacket with large blue and brown squares that he
had "bought from the preacher down the street". Yes, that really is an exact
quote; I am not making this up. Apparently the preacher had outgrown his jacket
and instead of letting it die a merciful death, or donating it to someone who
might need an extra layer of warmth more than a fashion statement, had sold it to
a neighbor.

In the interests of truth in reporting, I should also
report that I did have one sneaking bit of respect for that old QA guy, because he
was the only born-again, conservative, anti-choice type I have known who lived his
beliefs to the extent of adopting a child -- not an easily adoptable Caucasian
baby either, but a Hispanic girl who was old enough to already be speaking
Spanish. Even the worst geek at work can have redeeming values, I

Anyway, lunch break is over and it's time to go see what I
can get done before the next two meetings. Fortunately, once I survive those,
there are cold beer and hot Cajun food waiting for me.

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

April 02, 2002

on mortgages

Today, Rudder and I will go sign papers to refinance the house. Our payments will
go up slightly because we're moving from a 30-year to a 15-year loan. I'm finding
that having spent those months unemployed is making me distinctly nervous about
taking on any additional financial obligations, like this or the car I leased. It
doesn't seem to be preventing me from doing it, just making me worry more. That's
probably not altogether a bad thing, if it spurs me to save more

Fortunately, even with the new loan, our house payment
is far below what the mortgage people seem to think we can afford. Whatever
possessed anyone to decide that most people can afford a house that costs three
times their annual salary? That may be barely possible -- but only if you don't
spend any money on anything else. I like to be able to afford to leave my house
occasionally, to go out to dinner or to take a trip. Maybe that rule of thumb is
based on a time when most families owned only one car and had an adult at home
full-time, on the theory it's easier to save money if you have some time to trade
for it (planning nutritious and inexpensive meals, not paying for day care, and so
on). At any rate, with the way we live, our lives would be far more uncomfortable
if our house were far more luxurious.

But now I've been here long
enough to settle in, I need to stop spending money like a sailor in port. There
will be one last hurrah, though: I've promised myself forever that I would get the
Flower-of-the-Month club (probably from href="http://www.jacksonperkins.com">Jackson & Perkins) and I will do so as
soon as I decide between their options (Bulbs or Flowering Plants).

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

April 01, 2002

As Mom used to say, "I don't care who started it!"

Once again, today's news from Israel reminded me of two children in the back seat
of a car:

"Mom!! He hit me!"

"Well, he

"No, you started!" Slug. Punch.

I think it
may have been the Israelis responding to suicide bombers with tanks (though they
had been "instructed to avoid citizen casualties" Yeah, I'm sure that worked as
well as it usually does.) Or maybe it was the Palestinian at the world meeting on
terrorism who claimed that the suicide bombers weren't terrorists "because they
were driven to it by Israeli oppression". Yes, oppression always forces the
downtrodden to go about killing the civilians in the country whose government is
oppressing them. Just as Malcolm. Or Mahatma.

There are children
dying on both sides. As the immortal Stan Rogers wrote, "All causes are ashes
where children lie slain." I believe that, almost more than I believe in anything
else except freedom and knowledge. To my discredit, I can forget about war news
from Serbia, or Somalia, or Afghanistan. I'm not callous about it -- I get upset -
- but I don't always think about it for long after the news report. Israel is
different for me, though, because after six years of Hebrew school indoctrination,
Israel is "us" to me. But after 35 years of life in the US, I am (I hope)
incapable of regarding Palestinians as a whole as nonpeople. When Israel's actions
don't meet the standards of humanitarians, I feel to a lesser extent as I would if
a member of my family committed a crime -- or, maybe more accurately, as I do
every time my own country fails to live up to the principles enshrined in our own
central writings.

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

Hardcore rowing

Since Egret won't be rowing much for a while (being very probably about to move to
Ireland for a year and a half, among other things), I've asked Hardcore if she
wants to race a double at Long Beach at the end of this month. She was very
interested, since the city program she's been rowing with has been sliding
downhill, and we had our first practice today. We'll be rowing the double at least
once a week for this month, then rowing other stuff the rest of the time. I figure
we can work on strength and speed in any boat, and concentration on getting our
timing, finesse, and racing starts together during our double

We'd never rowed together in anything smaller than a quad.
Considering that, today went very well. We even practiced some racing starts, and
both got off the water feeling like we have lots of potential as a boat. We're
well matched for size. I think my form is a little better (and I've rowed singles
and doubles more) but she has more endurance and probably more tenacity. Not to
mention a masochistic streak, having undergone multiple tattoos, piercings,
childbirths, and marathons.

One more thing about last Friday. I've
had a tablecloth for several years that we have guests at our table sign. After
that, I embroider over the ink signatures. While I doubt I'll ever end up donating
it to the Smithsonian as Joe Doolittle (Gen. Jimmy Doolittle's wife) did with
hers, it is a nice keepsake. On Friday, after the meal, we had Egret and T2 sign
it. T2, in one of his delusions of grandeur, signed in big letters, "T2 'THE MAN'
HATFIELD". I'm torn between thinking that's pretty funny and lamenting my nice
tablecloth. But I must admit, it will hold memories for us!

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