May 31, 2002

fast but perforated

I got a bunch of my navel-gazing questions answered this morning. It turns out
one of the juniors is apprenticing to be a piercer. This is not a major surprise,
considering the amount of metal already inserted through various parts of his body
-- navel, behind (not through) both nipples, and "the one you can't see" (his
words). Anyway, as both an athlete and a piercer, he was able to answer some of my
specific questions better than the people at the piercing place, who look like
they don't get out in daylight much. And he recommended that in future I go to
the guy he's studying with -- I didn't quite have the heart to tell him I was
planning to stop with just the one extra new hole.

Back when I was
coaching the city juniors programs, the kids used to come in and tell me about
every new piercing this guy and another one had gotten, so I already knew he'd
"pierced his junk" (their words).

Why do people feel the need to
tell about these things? Yesterday I walked to my car after work with a coworker
heading in the same direction. This guy's wife also works here, and had told me
about an unusual medical condition of his, including the exact reason she's glad
they had their son a few years ago. Walking with him yesterday, all I could think
was, "I know about this man's sperm count. That is far more than I wanted to know
about him."

Speaking of which, the sperm count in my boat was higher
this morning. I rowed the double with Rudder, and this time it actually went
fairly well. We did a 1000m piece faster than he and She-Hulk do it. (*gloat*) Of
course, then he had to take credit for all the power -- "the boat was much more
set so I could use my full power and I can't do that with her." Gee, at least he
gave me credit for setting it. She'll be a better rowing partner for him in the
long run; she's considerably bigger than I am, and she'll be able to improve her
technique more than I will my strength.

PS. Andrew's just got to fix this Optional Fields thing. They need to be
longer, and they need to be re-editable. That up above should say, It's Mistress
Sinister's fault."

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

tired, blah

Rowed with Rudder this morning. Tired. Uninclined for productive work. Glad it's

Posted by dichroic at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2002

not quite the Real Thing

Thumbs down on new Vanilla Coke. It's got a taste that makes me wonder if anyone
actually added a bit of vanilla extract to Coke to see what the real thing tasted
like before starting to fiddle with the natural (so the label says)

The new piercing gave me no trouble on the erg,
fortunately, but does hurt a bit if I stretch way back. I started to do sit-ups on
a close cousin to Marn's Purple Ball of
Death, but switched to a mat instead because laying all the way back on the ball
made me feel like the barbell was trying to push out through the band of skin it
pierces. It seems to go through a longer bit of flesh than I had expected, or
maybe that's just the angle.

Incidentally, the ball I started out on
was blue. I would think leaving giant blue balls scattered around a gym would tend
to make male members uneasy from reasons they can't quite finger (oops, bad choice
of words) but apparently not. Or maybe they're just not admitting

Getting back to the piercing, I would love to hear from anyone
with a navel piercing who's very athletic, especially anyone into something like
yoga or Pilates, which would stretch it a bit, or rock climbers. We haven't been
climbing much lately, but I can remember times when I had full frontal contact
with a rock face. Ouch. Has the piercing been a problem for you, and if so, how
did you deal I do think the barbell is less likely to get caught on a rock than a
hoop would.

Last night we wanted to discuss training with Hardcore
and She-Hulk, so we went over to Hardcore's for her weekly neighborhood potluck.
It was great -- they have a big backyard with sunflowers and corn growing and a
chicken coop, and a cool older house with gorgeous hardwood floors. There were
kids and dogs wandering everywhere -- the former ranged from 3 months on up to
Hardcore's 17-year-old daughter, also a rower. (Don't know what to call her --
Softcore is definitely out.) She-Hulk spent a long time blissfully rocking
someone's baby to sleep and various moppets kept asking us (more or less
intelligibly) for help in important endeavors like shredding a ball of foil or
getting an ice cube out of the cooler. Their parents were also very cool, and the
whole thing left me wishing we lived in that neighborhood. Our neighbors aren't
nearly that friendly, or that much fun. Of course, we also don't have kids to
serve as introductions. Still, one neighbor, the one who's also a rower, turned
out to have been at the Philly Folk Fest back in one of the years I worked there.
How cool is that? I don't have neighbors like that.

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

May 29, 2002


I got brave or stupid yesterday and stopped on the way home from work to get my
navel pierced. It's always amusing to go to the piercing place, just to look at
the people working there. The girl at the desk had a 2" barbell across her lower
abdomen on either side, low enough that they'd only be visible above the hippest
of hip huggers. The little kilt riding on her hips complimented it nicely, as I
told her, since it was held together by large safety pins on either side. This is,
of course, in addition to the inch-across grommets in her ears and various other
metal in her face. The guy doing the actual piercing was even wilder, with huge
holes in both lobes and heavy earrings that swung them as he moved his head, fangs
hanging from his upper lip, and a hairstyle that somehow made me think of a gangly
half-grown rooster. Nice people -- very patient with all my questions. And it's
one of the best piercing studios in town, where they sterilize everything in an
autoclave. They had a adjustable piercing chair sort of like an adapted dentist's
chair, that I'd love to have in my house. They gave me a packet of sea salt and
told me to soak it in warm saltwater 2-4 times a day, which requires some planning
for the logistics of my life.

Of course the experience is different
for everyone. Hardcore had told me she couldn't even feel it when hers was
pierced, but I most certainly did. Ow.Ow ow ow. But it didn't bleed at all, and it
hasn't really hurt since except when bumped. I had them put in a plain steel
curved barbell. Both ends unscrew, so I can put on a different color or a jewel,
or hang a charm on it, without removing the jewelry.

unfortunately, it was this morning. The piercer, when I told him about rowing,
said, "You might want to hold off for a few days." Yeah, right. I had thought it
wouldn't be much of a problem, since with a proper stroke the hands hit the body
at the bottom of the ribs. I hadn't bargained on the fact that hands are lowered
at the finish to get the oar blades out of the water, a motion just perfect for
ripping out the barbell. I also forgot how much height can vary when the set's
off, and it was this mooring. I spent the practice trying to finish a couple of
inches out from my body instead, but did bump it a couple of times. The short bra
top didn't help either, but putting my T-shirt back on made things a little
better. I have some square waterproof band-aids, and will try wearing one of those
next time. Egret tells me she used a gauze eyepatch when hers was new. She also
tells me she had trouble with the erg -- I haven't tried that yet -- and that it
got sore and oozy if she didn't soak it after practice. Unfortunately, she didn't
tell me those details before I got mine done.

I did the salt-
water soak last night, first thing this morning, and again at the gym after
practice. I also brought my salt packet to work and will soak again in the ladies
room this afternoon. I managed to forget it in my car and had to go get it later -
- there's nothing like the feeling of walking into an office building in an
industry highly concerned with security, with an unmarked baggie full of white

This is another thing, like leasing the Civic, that I'm not
sure was a good decision. I can wear band-aids for a bit, but if rowing is an
issue after the six-month healing period (yes, I know it's really 6-12 months)
I'll have to consider getting rid of it. Rudder thinks the whole idea is silly,
and I don't entirely disagree, though I do like the way it looks. And I like to do
things that scare me sometimes. The nice things about piercings is that they're
removable. Unless, of course, you have huge hanging holes in your earlobes.

Posted by dichroic at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)



New piercing + oar handles = not a great

More later. (No, I didn't rip it out, just a couple minor

Posted by dichroic at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2002

After the Gold Rush

Gold Rush regatta report: Rudder won two bronze and one silver medal, the former
in his two singles (regular and lightweight) races and the latter in his double
with She-Hulk. She-Hulk was veryvery happy at getting to take home a medal. He
also came in first in his heat in the men's B single (B is ages 36-44 or
thereabouts) and set a personal best time there.

We came in last in
both the quad and in my double with Hardcore, but not embarrassingly so. In the
quad, I think we might do better with more practice -- the race was about our
third time all rowing together. The double actually felt much better and smoother
than the quad; and I think we were just rowing against some burly competition.
(They didn't have a lightweight W2X category, unfortunately.) In my 300m sprint in
my single, I came in THIRD, I say THIRD, ahead of TWO OTHER PEOPLE. Not only that,
but I was closer to the first place finisher than the fourth and fifth place were
to me. I got off the water grinning, practically jumping up and down in the boat.

When Rudder rowed his marathon race in Louisiana, right before we
moved from Houston, he said, "I've finally found my event and now we're moving!"
and that's just how I feel. I've found my event, but unfortunately, hardly anyone
holds 300m races. *snif* The standard distances for masters are 1000m and 5000m. I
do best in shorter races, having no endurance to speak of. Even on the Concept II
web site, where you can compare your erg times to others from around the world, if
you plot my percentile, it is inversely proportionate to the distance. Egret and
Hardcore and even Rudder are exactly opposite, preferring distance to the short
haul, but I'm a quick-twitch kind of girl.

Since Rudder's
grandparents are moving to the other side of Sacramento, his parents were down to
help them, and they, the grandparents, and an aunt and cousin all came out to
watch us race. It's always cool to have a cheering section, and they had never
seen him (or me) race before. Unfortunately they got there a bit too late to see
any of his singles races, but were able to see him come in second in the double
and to watch my sprint.

Lake Natoma is really a wonderful venue for
the race, and the club there did an excellent job of organizing. There were races
every ten minutes from 8AM to 7PM, with a break for lunch and they managed to stay
on time all day, not a trivial task. The barbeque lunch provided wasn't bad
either, and they had a large tent with tables and chairs where Rudder's family
were able to watch the races while staying in the shade. The weather was a little
warm but very comfortable in the shade, and we had brought a shelter to set up
near our boats, along with chairs, towels, and coolers so we could lounge in
comfort between races.

On Sunday, we acquiesced to duty and went off
to Bodega Bay to help pack up another load of the grandparents' stuff. No one said
much about the kayaks they'd offered us, but it was obvious we had no room for
them anyhow, with three boats on the rack (ranging 27-45' long). We did somehow
end up with a service for 12 of fine china. We don't particularly need such a
thing, having already both good and everyday plates, but Rudder's mother really
seemed to want us to take them and she's upset enough already about various other
aspects of this move, so we just said thanks and took them. Anyhow, this gives me
tea cups from this set of his grandparents to add to the ones from my grandmother,
the ones from his great-grandmother (paternal side), the ones he brought from
Taiwan, and the tea set I got in Korea. One of these days I really ought to hold
a tea party, especially since this set actually includes a tea pot, something I
was conspicuously missing.

On the way back, we found a great place to
stay. For some reason, some ranchers in a tiny town halfway between Sacramento and
LA decided to diversify. Not only do they raise both beef and vegetables, they
breed and board racing horses and run a hotel, restaurant and adjacent airstrip.
The restaurant is about 25 years old and seems to be thriving; I'm not sure if the
hotel is older or younger, but it also was quite busy. At any rate, both were
wonderful and we'll certainly stop there again if we need a place to crash in the
area. It would also be a great stop on a flying trip.

At around 6
last night, we finally pulled into our boatyard, having called Hardcore to come
help unload the boats. She showed up with her husband and another rower who lives
next to them, and we unloaded in record time. As we were standing around talking
afterward, I decide to pop open a well-deserved beer, which is when the park cop
drove by and busted me. Dammit. I guess my law-evading skills have atrophied, in
all these years since I've been of legal age. He was nice about it at least, just
made me pour it out and warned me not to drive (because, you know, those two sips
would have just ruined my reflexes). And it did provide vast amusement to my
audience. I imagine I'll be hearing about that one for some time.

Posted by dichroic at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2002

ready to go, ready to GO!

I'm all energetic and jittery today, which means one or more of these things is

  • I'm excited about the trip and the race on
  • Loading up boats instead of working out this morning has
    left me much less tired than usual. I do occasionally skip gym days, though, so
    maybe the tapering is working as well.
  • My morning Darjeeling was
    more caffeinated that the English Breakfast I drink more

Probably all three, though I'd
rank the influence of the caffeine higher than I'd thought because I just knocked
over my Coke. This race is going to be fun; the people in my boat are
hugely excited because they haven't raced in a while and it's their first big race
independent of the moribund city program. Their enthusiasm (and willingness to do
lots of the organizing work) has made this more exciting for us old hands too.
Also, we'll get to see some of Rudder's family. Not only are my in-laws way cool,
but it's always heartening to have people cheering for you during a

This morning we loaded up all the boats, which went better than
expected. We were afraid the oars wouldn't fit, but as it turned out, we were able
to stash them under the biggest boat, at She-Hulk's excellent suggestion. The
riggers and seats also fit inside better than expected.

God thing I
do have that extra energy today, because plans for the rest of the day are to
leave work a bit early, shop for lunches and trip munchies, finishing loading our
gear, and see how far we can get toward Sacramento before we poop out. (With all
this talk of leaving the house, this might be a good time to mention my catsitter
is married to a cop. If any hardened criminal types are reading this, don't rob
me. You don't want to mess with my killer cat, anyhow.)

I'm still
listening to MLK on my commute, and still keep thinking how it relates to the
situation in the Middle East. Tom Clancy, who is certainly a better strategist
than writer, has a plot somewhere in which a Palestinian leader educated in the US
persuades his people to stage a sit-in, singing "We Shall Overcome" in Arabic. I
have a suspicion that if that had been tried in real life, they might have their
sovereignty by now.

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

May 22, 2002

Has anybody here seen my old friend Martin?

Here's what's wrong with my href="">rant from yesterday, I've
just realized: people fall asleep during rants. They get boring. This is why I
will never asked to tell the Israeli people how to run their country. Sarcasm, as
the old bards knew, is far more effective. Check href="">this out, courtesy of the
inimitable Miss Throckmorton.

Though, as I noted, I don't have the
moral credibility to off suggestions to people who are facing insane bombers, I
was listening yesterday to the words of someone who does. I've been driving to the
tune of the autobiography of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, created by
collecting his writings and recorded speeches to tell the story of his life. The
people of Montgomery, during the bus boycott, did face enemies far enough gone in
hatred to throw bombs into their houses and churches. The last of those bombers is
on trial only now, in fact. And Martin called on them to return hatred with love,
to preserve themselves by turning away from bitterness and preserving their
principles of nonviolence. Jews don't have that "love thy enemy" principle, but
our entire Law was summarized by Hillel as "What is hateful to you, do not do unto
another". You don't have to love them, but you do have to treat them with the
common humanity that is become so uncommon.

Listening to Reverend
King, I find I can't forget for a moment that the "Dr." in his title was an earned
doctorate. That man was incredibly well-educated, with a command of the language
that reminds me of the speeches of Winston Churchill I listened to recently. I'm
impressed that he used that erudition as a tool for his passion, that he managed
to communicate and lead people of every level of education through some fairly
difficult concepts and more than fairly difficult levels of pain and

I would like to know who was the main organizer of
the logistics of getting people around during the Montgomery bus boycott, whether
it was King or Abernathy or someone else. I don't know why budding MBAs don't
study that episode in management classes. Imagine: you have half a city full of
people, few of whom own cars, few of whom can afford to take a cab every day, and
you need to keep them off the city bus system. For a full year, as it turned out.
Even the sympathetic cab companies can't lower their fares, because there's a
minimum fare mandated by law. Even the most sympathetic of white employers are
being pressured not to pick up and deliver their employees. On the first few days,
people would walk as much as 12 miles to their jobs, which bespeaks an amazing
level of commitment, but no one can keep that up, not in sweltering Alabama summer
heat, not in icy winter rains. They organized all the people with cars, had them
donate as much time as possible and set up regular routes and dispatch stations.
And people walked where possible, or drove mules, or did anything else they could
to get around. For, I repeat, just about an entire year. An amazing feat of
motivation and logistics.

I don't know if this book is available in
book form -- it would lose a lot without the recorded speeches -- but Corretta
Scott King's book Life With Martin also has a lot of the

Um, so much for using sarcasm instead of earnestness. I
don't think I have a future as a bard. Oops also about that second line above this
message. That should read, "Now Playing in my Head: Sweet Home Alabama. Those
lyrics are so hateful I'm always amazed they still play that song. Also, Phil
Och's "Here's the State of Mississippi". I'll be glad when Andrew fixes things so
we can edit those fields after entering them.

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

May 21, 2002

prophets and profits -- both dangerous

I keep wanting to write a speech about the situation in the Middle East. It would
begin with Shylock, and go like this:

"If you
prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do
we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"

Yes, yes,
yes, and hell, NO! If we revenge ourselves upon madmen and -women by sinking to
their level, if we trade terror for terror, then we have lost those things that
gave us any claim to moral superiority. We have claimed to be a Chosen People for
two thousand years, and now it is our duty to live up to our traditions. Many of
us are tired of that yellow badge, and would claim that we deserve, and bear the
responsibility of only the common responsibilities of humanity -- but campaigns of
terror donÕt even reach that standard. We are, if we are nothing else, the people
of the Book, not the people of the bomb, and it is in our traditional strengths of
learning and teaching that we have our best chance for peace in our home lands. We
are a people of long memory; have we forgotten the lessons of Joseph, of dealing
kindly with the strangers and refugees among us? Do we remember only the episodes
of vengeance in our Book? Vengeance is not ours to practice, by the very teachings
of that Book as much by the common sense and common bond of

Fortunately or unfortunately, nobody
is booking me to give any speeches on the subject. I could go on in that vein for
paragraphs. And in some ways, I'm not qualified to give that speech anyway; no one
I know is cowering at home, afraid to leave the house. No one I know has loved
someone they loved to an insane bomber. But by the bones of all the prophets of
three religions, how many people do you have to kill before you can see that maybe
there's a better way?

I could also write a rant about George Bush's
stance on Cuba; funny how those noble humanist ideals don't apply to China, or any
of the other places where we can make a profit. Must be because he doesn't have a
brother running Hong Kong. But one advantage of our quarrelsome two-party system
is that, when both parties agree on something, and it's not something that will
line their own pockets, there's a pretty good chance that it's the clear right
thing to do. Unless you've got a brother who will be looking for votes pretty
soon, anyway.

Uh, maybe "could write a rant" wasn't the right
expression. I think I just did.

We're in the homestretch of getting
ready for this weekend's regatta. We've got back and forth over it, but it looks
like our fourth rower will be back and we will be racing in the quad. I've also
got a race in a single and one in the double with Hardcore; Rudder has two in the
single and one in the double with She-Hulk. The imminent (do I mean immanent?)
challenge will be putting all three boats, not to mention four pair of oars, on
top of the Cherokee, and getting seven riggers inside. I will be following my
usual practice in these situations: stay out of Rudder's way except when he wants

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

May 20, 2002

the rescuers

I was proud of us this morning. On our final lap, Rudder and She-Hulk, Hardcore
and I were in two doubles, about to do our racing starts together (half, half,
three-quarters, full stroke, ten really fast strokes and glide, see who's ahead)
when Hardcore, rowing stroke in my boat said, "Hey that girl in the single just
flipped." She was just on the other side of the bridge, maybe 100 yards from us;
we got both boats turned and to her in about a minute.

She'd flipped
over not far from one of the lake access stairways. By the time we got there,
she'd gotten her boat to the side (only 3 meters or so) and was standing on the
bottom stair trying to right her boat. She got that done and got back in fairly
quickly (not easy, in a tippy boat with 9' oars on either side. when you can't
extend the oars out to keep you stable because your boat is by a wall). She had a
little trouble pulling away from the wall, but didn't take much time at that
either. We didn't have to do anything but offer advice, as it turned out. She was
lucky the water's warm now. Still, people die every year from falling out of
boats. We were in a time and place to do some good, if it had needed to be done
(and with medical personnel, yet -- Hardcore's a nurse and Rudder and I are
trained in First Aid, though I'd be scared to depend on us alone). That's more
than can be said for anyone in either of the two coaching launches on the lake at
the time.

If she'd needed us, we'd have been there. If I were her,
I'd be pretty happy to have someone there just in case (as I think she was).

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

May 19, 2002

you could argue that way

One of the major joys of an unplanned weekend is being able to go into a bookstore
and spend time in there. (Of course, it's also one of the perils-to-the-
checkbook.) I went all by myself, too, so I didn't have to worry about anyone else
being bored. I was reasonably moderate; I got the Harry Potter II audiotape I'd
gone in for (part of the ongoing campaign to turn Rudder on to Good Books, and
part of the plan to keep whichever of us is driving awake on next week's
megadrive), and only three other paperbacks (Chronicles of Chrestomanci II
and the two sequels to Mercedes Lackey's Knight of Ghosts and Shadows. The
latter are a little trashy, but entertaining and I enjoy how she weaves her
various elvendoms together.)

Lots of people have trouble with too
many italics or underlines, but I'm the only member I know of in Parentheses

I'm finally getting over the silly feeling of guilt I
always have when I go somewhere on a weekend without Rudder. We get to spend so
little awake time together during the week (rowing on the same lake at the same
time in different boats -- or even at opposite ends of a quad or an eight --
doesn't count) and so we tend to spend all of our weekends together. However, we
both enjoy shopping far more if he's not there. When he is, he's bored and I'm
always rushing, not getting to stop and look at interesting things or buy
frivolous things. (Then again, there's something to be said for that last,
considering what I spent on skin-care today.) Because of that, shopping together
leaves us both cranky (and not shopping for things I want leaves me cranky) so
that we don't much enjoy each other's company anyway. Plus, I bought cat litter
and food while I was out, so everyone benefits. Therefore, my going to the mall
alone is actually a proactive way of strengthening our marriage. Yeah, that's it.
I'm selflessly sacrificing myself to the goddesses of commerce in order to build a
happier home. And practicing my logic skills at the same time, too!

Posted by dichroic at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2002

a wolverine's man

I'm href="">Logan
href="">What X-Men Character are

No fair, Mechaieh gets to be Rogue. Not sure I'm entirely
comfortable being a "man's man"; being called a "tough guy" I can deal with.

Forgot to mention, I did not go get my navel pierced. I've more or less
decided to do it, but Hardcore, Natalieee, and
the guy at the piercing place all advised me not to do it before next week's
regatta, and it seemed like a good idea to listen to the people who knew what they
were talking about. I went to the piercing place anyway, partly to scope it out
and partly because looking at the people behind the counters there is always
entertaining. I've never quite figured out who could think some of those piercings
look good. (Though I did sort like of the fangs one of them had -- piercings on
either edge of his upper lip with centimeter-long metal points coming down from
the bottom side.) And one guy either had three big lumpy things implanted under
the skin on one arm or was very allergic to something. Hard to tell.

Posted by dichroic at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

relaxed now

Today: sleeping in, snuggling with Rudder (er, in-depth snuggling), going to the
gym, a bit of pool maintenance, going to the new IMAX movie about the Space
Station. And last night involved steaks and beer -- yum. Tomorrow we need to put
together the rack for transporting our boats to the races, so it won't be quite as
relaxing, but then I'm taking off next Friday so it's a short


Posted by dichroic at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2002

not much to say

Funny, I don't seem to have much to say today. Work's OK. We're still trying to
figure out logistics for next weekend's regatta. My biggest dilemma just at the
moment is, "leave early, or earn some overtime"? The latter would be smarter,
since I'm taking next Friday off without pay, but I have a feeling free time will
look even better an hour or two from now.

And if I got my navel
pierced, would I regret it? Rudder thinks it's a silly idea, and I have a regatta
in just over a week for which I'll be wearing a spandex unisuit -- I don't know if
that would be too uncomfortable. Also, is the whole idea too 1998, or has it
become a standard thing like pierced ears? I actually saw jewelry for a navel
piercing for sale in the Nordstrom's catalog, of all places. I'm not sure what
that means. And with that total lack of profundity, this is Dichroic signing out.
Have a good weekend.

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

May 16, 2002


Open letters:

To a coworker:


You shuffle
around like you're scared someone's going to hit you. Come over here and look in
this mirror. Think about yourself. You're tall and blond and smart. People like
you. I'm not saying everyone needs to be outgoing and brash, but you'd be so
gorgeous and elegant if you'd just STAND UP STRAIGHT! Walk like you own the world,
girl. Because you do.


To Egret and

Yesterday was my second Wednesday in a row without any beer. This
sucks. Are you sure you want to stay over there having adventures, seeing new
things and meeting new people instead of drinking with



To whoever decided this plant should
have a 24-hour day:

Could we just make the nights a little longer,


Dichroic (human)


If online diaries are addictive, does that make you a pusher or an
enabler? Thanks for D'land, though.

Gold Member

To Mechaieh:

I finally got your b'day card

Procrastinatingly yours,


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

May 15, 2002

not coherent today

These meetings that last until 12:45 are killing me, and I still have another
couple of them. I'm now on Phase 3 of an incoherent day. Phase 1: rowed hard and
it's getting pretty warm out there. By the time I got showered and to work (about
an hour and fifteen minutes after getting off the water) I was getting that low-
blood-sugar, not-really-safe-to-drive feeling. Grabbed a Gatorade and a Luna Bar
(blessed be their makers) and got to my 8AM meeting only 20 minutes late (not a
big deal, in this case).

Those held me for a bit, but then I was
still feeing a bit groggy so I had some actual real coffee. I had forgotten how
bad office coffee tends to be. Between that and how long the meeting lasted, I was
lightheaded again by the time it broke up, the cafeteria was closing in fifteen
minutes, and it wasn't serving anything good anyway.

I called in an
order for some Chinese food, getting a big meal so I can have leftovers tomorrow.
Dragged myself all the way out to my car, to the restaurant, and back -- more
driving in a muddled state. Now I've eaten and I think the soda has kicked in but
not the food, so I have a bit of a sugar high without actually having my blood
sugar come back to a level that would make my mind function more or less normally
again. If IÕm veryvery lucky, I won't be feeling queasy from the coffee later this
afternoon. (This is the main reason I generally only drink decaf, but it seems to
be cumulative so sometimes I can get away with a very occasional mugfull.) I hope
no one wants me to do anything productive this afternoon. Maybe I'll go file.

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

May 14, 2002

it's my diary and I'll brag if I want to

It is fun, when attending a meeting mostly populated by more senior folks, to pipe
up with a comment and hear, "Hey, that's a good point." "Yes, we need to consider
that." "Good call!"

It's even more fun to hear a deafening silence,
as everyone suddenly thinks, "Uh oh. Why didn't we think of that

This is why I like software quality assurance. With a
tenuous grip on the latest ideas and methodologies, a good memory for what was
said in the previous presentation, and a dollop of common sense, you can leave a
roomful of managers speechless for entire seconds.

My body seems to
be changing again. Lately, I've put on a couple of pounds (literally a couple) but
our body-fat-measuring scale says my body fat percentage has gone down 2-3 points
(it varies.) The scale is wildly inaccurate as far as actual percentage, but it
seems to be fairly consistent, so I think I can trust it to indicate trends. If
so, I must have traded a pound or so of fat for about four of muscle. Cool. And
this morning, I did my 1000m erg warmup faster than usual, and even upped all my
weight. And I found out that on the leg extension machine, the most painful one I
do where the lightest weight the machine can do never seems to get any easier,
it's actually less painful and not much harder doing a heavier weight. Apparently,
it was just the lightest weight that hurts so much, and I really am able to move

Also, I notice I'm not having a tendency to want to skip gym
days any more. I should still get up and go earlier than I do, but I get there in
time to work out enough, I think. I still wake up wanting to skip rowing, but
that's inevitable. At that time of the morning, it's perfectly reasonable to want
to skip anything that doesn't involve going back to sleep.

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

May 13, 2002

third time is not charming

I think my truck is suffering from either altitude sickness or sibling envy. I'm
not sure which. The engine light is back on for a third time. Here's the

I leased a Civic for the commute to work, because it's a long
drive and I do it every day, and I wanted something that drank its gasoline in
small sips. My truck drinks in nearly a ladylike manner for a truck, but it still
is a truck. (That translates to about 21 mpg highway, for the numerically
inclined.) Before leasing Zippy the Honda, I'd driven the truck every day. It's a
great truck and I'm quite fond of it, a '96 Toyota Tacoma that has given me hardly
any problems since I bought it new. One reason for leasing the Civic was to
prolong the truck's life. (Environmental guilt was also high on the

I don't use the Civic on weekends, because the lease came with
limited mileage, so the truck does get out every week or so. We've been using it
most lately to haul water up to the property to water the trees we planted. The
first time we went up, we drove an extra hour to a larger town, bought the trees,
and had the check engine light come on as we drove back to the property. We
planted the trees, headed home, and had the truck checked out. The mechanics
replaced the air filter, which hadn't looked too bad the last time I'd had oil
changed, and the fuel filter, which had apparently never been changed. (Jiffy Lube
apparently doesn't check it. Who knew?)

About two weeks later, we
went back to water the trees. We distributed the water, had lunch, went to get
block ice to leave dripping on the trees, and had the light come on again. This
time the mechanics replaced the fuel vapor valve, which they say is one of the
very last things you check with that light. After this latest fix, I drove the
truck to work two days (total probably over 160 miles -- this is in addition to
the 100 miles the mechanics put on it to test it. No lights.

Saturday, we went up to water the trees again. This time, we watered them, then
got gas to get us home. Pulled out of the station, and Rudder directs my attention
to the engine light, once more glowing cheerfully. Grrr.

The summary
version is that the light only seems to come on after the truck sits turned off at
altitude (the airpark is at 7600', home is about 1200') for a couple of hours. The
mechanics who worked on it tell me it's not likely to be related to the elevation,
but I'm not convinced. (Though I am too lazy to do the pressure calculation.) I
figure this is either an altitude thing or else it's due to sibling new-baby
jealousy, since none of this happened before I leased the Honda. I've tried
explaining that it was for the truck's own good, but it is not very savvy on the
difference between leasing and purchasing, nor inclined to listen to my

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

May 12, 2002

almost good

I passed my BFR.

The List discussion seems to be becoming more
constructive and our new policies are getting the wrinkles

Rudder and I have a good idea for what we're doing July 4th

Best of all, the reason I seem to have so little money in my
checking account has to do with a paycheck I forgot to write in.

if only I didn't have to go to work tomorrow, life would be damn near perfect
..... on the other hand, I actually like my job, so it could easily be a lot

Posted by dichroic at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2002

in the pines, in the pines

Last night was the rowing club competitive group annual outing -- we got to go
partly because we have, after all, been registering as club members at races,
partly because I did row with them for the first couple months of this year, and
mostly because they never took me off the email list. It was well done, actually -
- a little expensive but the food was decent and the company was happy and
friendly. The coach, probably with some help, gave out awards (just printed on a
sheet of paper) to everyone, including me. Mine was for, and I quote, "Biggest
Little Woman", for best lightweight woman. I think I may be the only lightweight
woman who's rowed for them this year, but hey, I never turn down an award. The
coach was turning 30 that day, so people had brought presents for him, mostly
beer. We brought a little koala bear holding a boomerang (one of the tchotckes
still hanging around the house from our Australia trip a while back, because he
apparently lived there a while and still likes to sound like an Aussie) and a
card, improbably purchased at the local drugstore, showing a crew holding up an
eight before lowering it into the water and making some crack about giant
suppositories. I guess you had to see it.

Today we went up to the
airpark property to water our baby trees, which are doing well despite the dry
year we've been having. The aspen has even sprouted leaves. Despite the two-hour
drive, it's incredibly relaxing to go up and breathe air scented only by pine and
avgas and not have anything else we need to be doing at that instant. It was
incredibly windy, though -- must have been gusting to 35 knots. Tomorrow I'll take
yet another stab at that biannual flying review (with luck it will be less windy)
and try to nail down our plans for July 4 week. Just at the moment, we're leaning
toward going to Alaska.

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

May 10, 2002

Hold, please

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that there's no such thing as a telecon
that's not two long. Certainly not when they last for two hours and are held
weekly, anyway -- doesn't matter how interesting the subject is, and sometimes it
really is, it's too damned long. On the other hand, the telecons are no longer
physically uncomfortable, since our admin person found me a cool headset, so now I
don't have to hold a phone to my ear for two hours. Of course, now I look like an
old fashioned telephone operator, with my little microphone. and I have to keep
stifling the urge to say, "Hold, please," in a nasal voice. Fortunately there's a
mute button.

The headset had been used before, but fortunately the
admin also brought me a couple of alcohol wipes to sanitize it with. What looked
suspiciously like foundation came off on the pad when I wiped off the earpiece.
Ick. One major problem with being new in the office is that everything I have is
inherited -- when I first moved into this cube I spent a good amount of time
getting the dust and in some cases stickiness off of everything. I can't claim to
be any better, though; my semifortunate* addiction to Snyder's Sourdough Hard
Pretzels invariably results in crumbs in the keyboard. Every once in a while I go
fishing with scotch tape to clean it out.

I went to lunch today at a
place that combines Chinese and Mexican food. It's an institution for people who
work out here, and I had heard of it for years, from a former coworker who had
worked here before (aerospace is a small world) and used to whine about how much
he missed the place. I'd have to give it as my opinion, though, the idea is better
than the execution. Or rather, the whole setup is cool, but I wasn't all that
thrilled with the actual food.

Oops, almost neglected to say that
Rudder actually rowed with us in the quad, since one woman (the only one without a
nom) is away. It actually went fairly well, though he's still not impressed with
our power. Then again, he has no idea what a woman's boat is typically like, and
he's not much impressed with the power of most people out there.

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

May 09, 2002


Gyms are dangerous places to walk around. I think I banged my knee this morning. (Correction: I know damned well I banged my knee; I think it was in the gym this morning.) It should be better in time for tomorrow's row though. Unlike Batten, I only specialize in minor injuries: bumps, bruises, scrapes. Never broken a bone (yet!) probably mostly because so many of my childhood adventures were on the printed pages rather than the playing fields of Eton (or, more likely, Northeast Philadelphia). Come to think of it, many of my childhood adventures were on the playing fields of Eton, or thereabouts, vicariously. Isaac Asimov once wrote something about having not a drop of English blood in his body but being descended from that heritage in his ideas literary outlook, a much more central thing to him, and I'm the same way.

I have a theory Asimov and I are/were distantly related, anyhow. His mother's (not uncommon) birth name was the same as mine, my ancestors were from around they area where he was born, and my mind seems to work in the same packrat, unspecialized fashion as his, though of course not as well. A similarity of kind rather than of degree. Quite likely the theory is completely wrong, though, As I said, it's not that rare a name. (What do you mean, you've never met any other Dichroics?)

I also have a theory that, having written in here for about fourteen months, I'm starting to repeat myself; I'm fairly sure I've expounded the above before. I've been swamped lately, and that always does horrible things to my memory. (It's also making me far behind on dealing with changes to my list. Repeat: "It's only a list. It's only a list....")

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

Jim Croce missed an opportunity

If I could save time in a bottle,

The first thing that I'd like to do.....

...... is to sell it to people like me who need some extra, make a fortune, and
retire to enjoy the blessings of for once having both time and money at the same

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

May 08, 2002

becoming jello

This will be the first Wednesday in a long time that we haven't gone out with
Egret and T2. Rudder is probably taking his clients out to dinner again (and even
if he doesn't, he hasn't been getting home until 6:30 or 7 (not so bad until you
realize he's in there by 7:30 AM). So I finally did something I've been meaning to
(and not finding time for) since starting back to work. I've booked an appointment
for a massage this evening.

I go to a local school, where I usually
get a massage from one of the students. The facility is nicer than some expensive
spas I've seen, I've always been happy with the students (I don't think they let
them work on paying students until they're fairly advances, and you can't beat the
$29/hour rate. Today, though, because I didn't call for an appointment until
this morning, I could only get a slot with one of the instructors. At
$49/hour, it's still not too bad, and I am eager to see how much better this
gets (the student ones usually leave me a relaxed lump of quivering jello, as it

Because time slots available were limited, I'll have to leave
work 15 minutes early, and I got in a little late this morning. However, I was
late because I was over picking up three boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to bring
to work, so I don't expect complaints.

My shoulders are stiff from an
intense practice this morning (I lost skin on my hands in four separate spots!)
and my thighs are a little sore, probably from overstretching in the gym
yesterday. Add that to general tension from the list debacle, work, coordinating
rowing plans, lack of sleep, and not getting to see much of my husband, and what
you end up with is a woman desperately in need of massage therapy. I am so looking
forward to this.

Oh, and check out the scaled-down sleeker (well, a
little) new layout!

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

May 07, 2002

burritos and earthworms

Last night on the show "Fear Factor", contestant were required to eat "blood
balls" made of coagulated cow's blood wrapped in pig intestines. They had to eat
five within four minutes, nosing them out from among a platterful of live
earthworms without using their hands. No one completed the challenge. (Apparently
the blood balls were very dry and difficult to swallow.)

This makes
me feel much better about having eaten Taco Bell 'food' for lunch. Besides, I've
been trying to get hold of my doctor to ask if the results of a recent cholesterol
test are something I really need to worry about (total number is high, but all the
ratios are OK) so I may as well scarf down some more fat and clarify the

The brouhaha on my list seems to be dying down, to the
point that people are starting to offer constructive suggestions. Many of them
are upset we didn't consult them. I don't agree here -- for one thing we knew what
the results would be and for another, this is what list moderators are for -- but
I think it may help if we take some of their suggestions to improve the new

I think today is Egret's day to leave for Ireland.

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

May 06, 2002

superhero clothing

There's a common recurring dream, in which you find yourself out in public and
suddenly realize you have no clothes on. Lots of people have variations of this
dream; few actually have it happen in reality. Well, no, I didn't really go out
naked. But this morning after rowing, I noticed my gas light was on. Normally, I
fill my gas tank well before the Empty light comes on, but in the new Honda, that
happens when there's still a quarter tank left. On the other hand, I haven't had
the car long enough to get over the "Oh no, I'm entirely out of gas" panic. (It
drives me nuts when Rudder waits until he's into his past gallon to refuel his
truck.) Given my long commute and the location of the nearest gas station, the
obvious thing to do was to fill up right away, on the way to the gym where I
shower after rowing. I pulled up, got out of the car, entered my debit card and
PIN, stepped on the clutch and moved the car six inches after realizing the hose
wouldn't reach, and began fueling. And then I looked down and realized I was still
in my rowing clothes, which now that it's gotten warmer consist of only a Lycra
tank and shorts. Oops. I hope the guys at the other pumps enjoyed themselves at
least. It could have been worse though -- another few degrees warmer and it
wouldn't have been a tank but a sports bra, with my pasty abs on view in all their
flabby glory.

Of course, I'd have sucked it in as soon as I

I'm dressed now though; for some reason the place where I
get my hair cut has a rack of Bali dresses (long loose sundresses with batik
prints) for sale, and I picked one up for a mere song (no really, they gave it to
me to stop me singing ). It hangs from shoulder straps, doesn't bind anywhere
but has a tie in back just below the shoulders so it doesn't look like a muumuu,
and has a funky beige-on-black fish-skeleton print. (Though that looked better
before I got almost all the blonde tips in my hair cut off.) It's a little narrow
for its ankle length, so if I take long steps, I stretch the skirt to its limit
and it makes a cool whooshing sound as I walk that makes it sound like I'm moving
very fast. This is the grownup-up version of running around with a cape on, like
little kids playing superhero. Come to think of it, the Lycra costume from earlier
goes well with that image, too.

Posted by dichroic at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2002


After noting the reaction this weekend on my email list to the changes we've made,
the fact that I need to do still review on the BFR (emergency landings
sucked again) and the fact that like 5 people have read this diary, I've

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, think I'll go eat

Though really I'm not sure how that would help matter. Never
mind; first thing tomorrow I'll go row with three women who are very excited about
this quad we've put together and plan to race and that will be both fun and
affirming. So anyone else with negative comments to make can just sod


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

May 04, 2002

Dichroic, autocrat

The word for the weekend is "Arrggghh". I have to go up at least one more time for
my BFR, because my (faked) emergency landings still sucked, and the CFI has this
stubborn idea about how he wants to make sure I'm safe up there

On the splitting-the-list issue, I expected my hand-wringing,
but a bigger percentage of the responses are negative that, I expected -- the
first couple were positive, but it's been all downhill since then. One thing that
annoys me is now we're starting to get complaints from people who were part of the
problem in the first place. (I was especially amused by the one who deplored
splitting the lists but then said we should have just let people join my list
without requiring them to be members of the other one. Huh?) And one thing that
worries me is the very few volunteers we've gotten to be on the jury that judges
new members. We can't do this without help from the list members, which is
probably part of what got us into this list.

And we can't go
back to the way things were. The other moderators simply don't want us there. Oh,
they'd have probably let us stay attached if I begged, but it would have been
miserable to try to keep the lists together without enthusiasm on both sides. And
anyway, I don't beg. Not without damned good reason, anyway.

true that the list members have a point in deploring our taking such a major step
without consulting them, but had we done so, they'd have all voted to keep the
lists connected without coming up with ways to solve the original problem. And a
vote and ensuing discussion would have taken forever, while the other moderators
were urging us to a speedy decision. Autocracy is so much more efficient :-

Work is so-so at the moment -- lots of interesting things going on,
but being a contractor is a bit of a problem, since it's hard to get the training
to do my job as well as I'd like. And this is internal company stuff, so it's not
like I could go train on my own. My boss has been difficult to find and talk to
lately, too, which is always worrying.

As I said, "arrgghh". At least
rowing is going well.

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

reshaping email lists

Well, that's done. My list has split off its parent list, at the request of the
parent listÕs moderator. I don't entirely concur in the need to split. No
actually, more honestly, I did think they needed to, until the other day when I
explained the existing policy to someone who couldn't understand why she couldn't
join mine without being on the other one for two months (she was upset at having
to suffer the "embarrassment" of being denied for membership -- some people take
this shit way too seriously) and in the process of answering I convinced
myself that the attachment was a good thing. But clearly, it's not good for either
list to be attached if the moderators of both are not enthusiastic about the

Our immediate problem then became how to screen new members for
the list I moderate. We're a general discussion list, unlike the parent list which
is devoted to the Lord Peter Wimsey books, so it's not self-selecting, and we
needed a way to keep out idiots. The whole idea of splitting the lists, however
justified, struck me as dreary and depressing, so I wanted to think up an idea
that would counter that, that would be fun and interesting. Racking my brain, I
came up with the idea of audition-by-jury -- potential members will be asked to
write a bit about who they are, why they want to join us, and why we want them to
join us, and a jury of four list-members will decide whether to admit them, with
me or one of the other moderators casting a deciding vote.

I hope
this works, and is as interesting (in a good way) as I think it can

PS: Given that this is a list of people who love books, and that
all present members are Lord Peter fans, there are definitely some readers of this
who might want to consider joining -- or even joining the (formerly) parent Lord
Peter discussion list.

Posted by dichroic at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2002

rowin' with the big boys

Every time I walk back from the cafeteria here, I step outside, tilt back my head,
and just smell the breeze. The courtyard isn't all that exciting, and most of it
is covered in concrete, but it has sagebrush and mesquite trees, and even some
anomalous grass, and the air at the time of day is pleasantly warm and breezy.
This won't last much longer; in another month or so I'll be taking the shortest
path across to try to get out of the broiling heat. But for now ....

This morning, Rudder took the single and neither Hardcore nor
She-Hulk wanted to row the double with me (because they wanted to make sure they
didn't leave the city people with too few rowers to fill a boat. The city men,
though, were about to take out an eight with only six rowers, so I volunteered to
row with them -- I figure at least I'm stronger than the empty seat they'd have
had otherwise. Then once we got out in the lake, Yosemite Sam announced we were
going to row very hard, for a very long time. Oig. He told us we would be rowing
"as hard as we could" for an hour. I interpreted this to mean, "as hard as we
could sustain for that long", which is a very different thing. Fortunately, he had
to break after half an hour to switch people around and let the coxswain get a
chance to row, so I got out then. (I had told them I needed to leave a little
early to get to work on time.) The funny thing is that I wasn't nearly as tired as
I should have been after half an hour at full pressure. Either I wasn't keeping up
my end or those men are a bunch of wimps.

Shout out to Mechaieh:
this would be another good day to commend yourself for retiring as listmom. Oy.
But I think I've got a solution to the latest dilemma that is not only workable
but positive -- now we'll see how it goes in practice.

Posted by dichroic at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2002

various annoyances

Arrgghh. All-day meetings do not mesh well with List crises. And I'm *tired*. Last
night I had dinner with Egret, and then, since neither of the guys were here, we
walked over to the local Barnes and Noble, where she bought three books for her
trip to Ireland, just on my recommendation. No, four -- she picked up the first
Amelia Peabody too, in combination with Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small
, David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day, and some book about
living in Ireland that I'd never read but that looked interesting. ("Expat books,"
I said, as I handed them to her.) I hope she likes them. I'm a little worried
about how she'll like it over there -- no baby to birth and raise, as she'd
expected, neither of her other children there, no one else she knows but T2, and
no job. I wouldn't think of it being anything but a grand adventure, except for
the first and last of those items (well, she'll miss her teenagers, but they'll
visit). But living with a new husband and no job will be a challenge. She's
adaptable though, and has lived overseas before, so she'll make it. And having T2
there will make up for a lot -- that's exactly one person more than I knew when I
moved across the country after college.

The latest list crisis is
being a mess, because I don't think there's any ideal situation to this one. Maybe
it's not even something the moderators should decide alone. Maybe I should retire
and let someone with more spare time deal with it. (An aside: All of the
moderators on both lists have lots of demands on their time, but I swear some of
the listmembers do nothing but sit in front of the computer. Even when I was
unemployed, with no job, no kids, and no responsibilities except to show up for
rowing and find a new job, I didn't have as much free time as some of these people
do. Amazing. And how boring for (and of) them.) With luck, we'll resolve this one
way or another without any of the mods getting too annoyed at each other (As
opposed to those who always annoy us anyway. There's no hope for

And so, back into the meetings.

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

May 01, 2002

almost as bad as hanging wallpaper together

I'm writing this early today because I'm sitting here on the phone in a very, very
long teleconference. I could go join some people in a conference room, but if I
stay here at my desk, I can get other work (and this) done, and be ready to take
action when the fire I'm expecting later today blazes up. Yes, I know that's not
a great way to work ("reactive, not proactive", in management-speak) but I've
already done the preparation that will let me auto-generate the reports I'll

This morning, Rudder and I rigged the boats -- we take off the
riggers, which are the crosspieces that hold the oarlocks to transport the boats
to regattas -- and then rowed the double together for one lap and a bit. This is
only about the second time we've ever rowed a double together, because he's so
much taller and stronger than I am. It was an interesting row -- not as bad as I
expected, I'm not seeking a divorce now or even annoyed at him. There were some
comments about how "heavy" the boat felt, meaning he had to pull more of the
weight, followed by claims that he was not either being critical, but I had
expected that.

Rudder is much better than most of the people I've
rowed with too -- he and T2 rowed together so long and so intensively that they
are some of the best rowers on our lake -- T2 is by far the best rower ever to
have learned out here, since the other really good ones all come out of collegiate
or even national programs elsewhere. I knew Rudder was a lot stronger than me and
was used to a higher rate and more intensity. What I didn't expect was his
precision in every motion -- I told him it felt like using the "snap-to-grid'
option on a computer drawing program. In return, he allowed as how the set and
timing were better than with anyone he'd rowed with since T2 left. That's my
husband, always complimentary. Under duress, anyway.

I was able to
keep up with everything he did, though when we rowed at full power the rate was
way too fast for me -- I had to pull myself up the slide as I would do during a
racing start rather than let the boat move naturally under me. He claimed the rate
worked for him, but it just didn't feel right to me -- I suspect he may have just
used the rate he's used to with T2.

I know that's more technical info
than anyone else wants to read, but I figure it's useful for me to be able to look
back over this stuff. That's also why I've added a "Today's Workout" field up top,
so I can have a quick record.

Rudder's taking some customers out
tonight (or maybe the other way 'round) but I hope to go out with href="">Egret -- the last time before she leaves
for Ireland *snif*

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