I'm working at home today, because I was going to leave around noon anyway and
figured I could get a lot more work time in if I didn't have to sped nearly two
hours on the road. Not to mention that when they're predicting highs of 111,
staying indoors is a good thing. And think of all the pollution I'm not
I think I'm being at least as productive as I would be at
the office; it would help if I could walk around and ask some questions, but
anyone I'd need to talk to probably isn't in anyhow. We have a plant shutdown for
all of next week, so this is one of those days where everyone starts vacation
There are some definite advantages to working at home: peace
and quiet, not depressing gray cubicles, food that doesn't come from a vending
machine, a clean bathroom and the ability to read therein. The only intrinsic
drawback is that my home PC is a laptop and after a while it hurts my eyes, which
makes my nose run. Also, Rudder took the day off -- nice to have the company, I
guess, but every once in a while he comes into our office and does something that
usually involves leaning over me or making lots of noise. Not too often,
Later on, we'll be off
to the airport and then to Alaska for a week, so there won't be any updates here
for a while.
Move along, there's nothing more to
Unless I get really, really bored between now and time to leave.
Yesterday in my car on the way home, I was practicing the new, Constitutionally
valid, Pledge of Allegiance:
I pledge allegiance to the flag
Of the United States of America,
And to the Republic for which it stands,
One nation, indivisible,
With liberty and justice for all.
Actually, I think it has a nicer rhythm that way. And I was never quite sure what
the phrase "under God" was supposed to imply. That the nation is run by God and so
"under" in an org-chart sort of way? That we are only pledging allegiance when and
if the nation is run under God's principles? And if so, whose God? (Of course,
that was the court's whole point.) Actually I agree with href="http://akkelly.diaryland.com/020627_17.html">ak that those words don't
mean much to anyone anyhow, but my problem with saying them is that I do take the
word "pledge" seriously. I keep my promises and I don't want to be "pledging"
anything unless I know exactly what it means.
After that I started thinking about it further. The whole "one nation,
indivisible" thing must be a reaction to Civil War issues, and doesn't really seem
to be all that in need of emphasis these days. In fact, I think the Pledge was
written and intended as something of a loyalty other to the reunite Union, in the
days when memories of the Civil War were still alive. I don't like loyalty oaths;
they make me think of McCarthy. I like them much less when they're forced on
schoolchildren well under the age at which they have the experience to make
lifetime oaths. So take out the "one nation" line, too. That brings it to:
I pledge allegiance to the flag
Of the United States of America,
And to the Republic for which it stands,
With liberty and justice for all.
I really hate the idea of pledging allegiance to a flag. It's a symbol, nothing
more, and I support the right to treat it as such: I believe both in proper
treatment of the flag and in the right to burn it or use it in art. If I am
pledging myself to something, I want it to be a real thing. So now I'm down
I pledge allegiance to the Republic
With liberty and justice for all.
Not bad, but then I thought about it from another direction. What does it mean to
pledge "allegiance"? It's an awfully vague term. What does it bind me to do? What
should a responsible citizen do for her country? That needs to be spelled out in
more detail. So here's what I came up with. I think we need a new Pledge entirely,
and I offer the following as a starting point:
I pledge allegiance to the Republic
Of the United States of America,
And to the freedoms for which she stands.
I vow to fight those without and within
Who seek to curtail her freedom and her general welfare,
And to work for liberty and justice for all.
It probably needs some tweaking, and would definitely be stronger with input from
others, but this is a pledge I can speak, and one I consider worth upholding.
Current Dress: light blue sleeveless
button-down shirt that looked awful on the rack but surprisingly flattering on,
dark olive miniskirt, brown Born sandals, blue topaz stud earrings, topaz heart
necklace on gold chain (rare for me, I almost always wear silver), blue and silver
watch, curved barbell with blue stone (in navel). Engagement ring -- haven't been
wearing the wedding one because it's a pain to take off. Contact lenses.
Current makeup: tinted moisturizer with sunscreen because
I'm trying to be good, the remains of lipstain.
anticipatory, slightly stressed, a little bored with the telecon I'm in right
Current Music: none, except that "Because the Night" keeps going
around in my head, thanks to Mechaieh.
Current Taste: Darjeeling tea
Current Hair: very short and somewhat gelled. Natural
dark brown, some gray starting to show.
Current Annoyance: getting
very tired of the technical documents I'm working on!
Current Thing I Ought to be doing: technical docs, see above,
and paying more attention to telecon.
Current Favorite Artist: Dale
Current Favorite Group: Great Big Sea.
Book: Mercedes Lackey, Serpent in the Shadows (or something like that). It's
definitely got a tribute to Lord Peter Wimsey; I'm trying to figure out if
references to the Amelia Peabody books are also intended.
In Stereo: in the car, Mary Higgins Clark's Domestic Malice 2
VHS in player: none
Current Color Of Toenails: metallic red. Almost
matches my truck.
Current Refreshment: Tea, as mentioned. Also had a
Luna bar, Gatorade, and some pretzels this morning.
getting these documents finished, not forgetting to pack anything for
Current Crush: None really -- between crushes just
Current Favorite Celebrity: living one? I don't know. I'm
impressed with the political work Bono's been doing.
Drink: tea, water,
Colors: deep jewel tones
Album: Stan Rogers, Home in
Shoes: sandals, walking boots
Animal: cats, I suppose
TV Show: Fear Factor, the Simpsons --
don't watch TV much. I always like the Kennedy Center Honors shows.
Don't know. Hook, Moulin Rouge, and Harry Potter are near the top.
don't much. Does gymnastics count?
Song: "When I was a Boy" by Dar Williams,
several, by Stan Rogers and Great Big Sea
Understanding: when I
Arrogant: yes, a bit
Interesting: only to smart people (well, I said I was
less than I used to be.
Childish: I do sometimes hold grudges, and generally
want attention, so yes.
Independent: oh, yes.
Hard working: not
Organized: I can do it very well, but often don't.
Emotionally Stable: pretty much
people think so. Of course, I think the same of them. I am generally reasonable
when approached reasonably.
Attractive: reasonably, not
Bored Easily: not for long.
Messy: my desk says
Obsessed: depends who you
ask, and on what subject.
Angry: less than I used to be, and sometimes I
think less than I should, but still more than many people.
Sad: not right
Trusting: to a fault.
I'm also working
on one version of my annual July 4th rant, and will likely post that later.
ouch ouch. These losses from the Rodeo fire may not look that heavy, but it's a
sparsely populated area. One article claimed that if a similar proportion of the
population had been evacuated from Phoenix, a third of a million people would have
been involved. And it looks like probably half of the houses in the airpark are
gone. One of the worries now is whether the area will ever recover. Lots of the
residents are retirees, who have nothing tying them to that particular spot of
earth, or part-timers from Phoenix or Tucson. The question is whether there will
be enough people there to maintain the infrastructure, like the senior center, the
grocery, and yes, the airpark runway. Building a cabin in the woods worked for
Thoreau, but he only stayed there a year. We'd like to retire on this land
someday, and being able to buy food locally or see a doctor nearby will be
nontrivial considerations. Also, it hurts on pure ecological grounds; the White
Mountains of Arizona have one of the largest stands of Ponderosa pine in the
world, and it's very sad to see some idiot burn down a chunk of it, even knowing
that the forest itself will likely outlast the idiot.
actual clouds today and yesterday, along with humidity high enough to be stifling
(doesn't take much when it's over 100 degrees F). So maybe we will have a href="http://ag.arizona.edu/maricopa/garden/html/weather/monsoon.htm">monsoon
season after all. What is laughably called the "monsoon" here officially
begins when the dew point is over 55 degrees for three days in a row. It really is
a monsoon, technically, but what with being in a desert and on, and on the
northern edge of the affected area, the effects are pretty marginal. The problem
is, monsoons don't always bring us rain. Sometimes the rain will evaporate before
ever getting to the ground. Often, thunderstorms in the mountains will have
mutated into dust storms by the time they reach the city. Still, we get our water
via those mountains, and at this point rain in any part of the state will find a
red carpet with WELCOME in big letters laid for it before it even reaches the
ground (and then quickly removed to allow the water to soak
Also, the increased humidity seems to cause my hands to be
shredded worse by the oats, and now I've added a charming problem with chafing
underarms after rowing for a half hour or so -- can't even blame it on a sports
bra this time; this is sheer friction of skin on sweaty skin. Plus stubble. Sorry,
you didn't want to hear about that, I know.
And now I've spent almost
a whole entry talking about the weather, of all the boring things, only our
weather is not that boring at the moment. Just unpleasant. But here's something
completely different to think about. The other day, href="http://suzanb.diaryland.com/anaphile.html">Suzan wrote that she'd like
to photograph anorexic women to show the beauty they see in themselves, in
achieving a body with nothing to hide the lines of the bones. This is something
I'll never do, as my photography skills rest more with mountains than human
bodies, but I think it would be cool to do that and then do a companion series of
nude photographs of fat women, again trying to show the beauty of their shapes. If
I were a good enough photog to do it right, it would almost be playing off air
spirits against earth spirits, lines against curves, with the thin women remote
and very light, all straight lines or the subtle curve of bone, with the unearthly
beauty of the dying, disassociating themselves from the frenzies of daily life.
Maybe in black and white. The fat women would definitely be in color. Gloria
Steinem once wrote something like, "it is only the female curves of breast and
belly that make the image of the Buddha believable," and that's what I'd be going
for here. Ripeness. Roundness. Incarnations of Demeter. A more grounded shape that
has something to give to a suppliant, that can nurture from its own abundance,
rather than the fey disengagement of the others. Hmm. Maybe pregnant women too,
for that series.
I'll never do it, unless I take up a new hobby and
learn a whole new set of lighting skills. But wouldn't it be cool?
Oh, yeah, forgot to update at lunch. I don't have much else to say; the fires are
still burning, I've gotten some List issues out of the way, and I can't wait until
Friday. How lovely it will be to get off the plane in blessedly cool
Of course, I'll probably start whining immediately if it's
raining or cold enough to require a jacket, but I'll try to remember I'm suppose
to enjoy that. I like wearing cozy clothes. I like seeing green around me (won't
be doing much of that at midnight ... well, maybe, that far north and this close
to solstice. Hours and hours to spend driving with Rudder and seeing beautiful
things ... rafting on the Nenamenomenamee (well, something like that) ... flying
by Mt. McKinley ... keeping normal-people hours, staying up late and sleeping in
almost every day ... not sitting at a desk or writing technical documents for a
whole week .... ahhh..............
Whew. Well, I can still see a webcam view of "Hangar row" at the airpark where we
own a lot. There are still plenty of buildings and trees intact, though we know at
least two houses have burned. Not a good feeling when they mention your specific
development on the nightly news. I've had friends tell me that news of the fires
has made it as far away as Scotland and the Netherlands, also not a good
This morning as I was about 1500m from the end of my row,
the bolts that attach my shoes to the boat came loose. Since that's the main point
where you're attached to the boat, and where the rowing drive begins, it made
coming in a little tricky. Need to take a wrench out tomorrow. By the way, href="http://www.hudsonboatworks.com/mainsite/paintdesigns.htm">here are some
good pictures to show what our boat looks like. You can click on the images to see
closeups. Some of these have the seat and shoes installed and some don't -- if you
can't figure out where I sit on the boat, it's probably one that doesn't.
Note: There were two things I wanted to write today, and the subjects were so
disparate I decided to split them into two separate entries. The earlier one is
much happier. Go here
to read it -- especially if you're SWooP.
I can really see how eating
disorders would be appealing. No, I'm not turning pro-ana or anything. But I can
see where the idea of eating less and less, and purging or exercising more and
more, could be a hard lure to resist.
Last night, I was a bit
unwell, probably as a reaction to eating too much popcorn at the href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/cirque">Cirque du Soleil IMANX movie, with
that oily crap they call "butter" that has no flavor but is necessary to make the
butter-flavored salt stick to the kernels. (And what evilspawn invented
that backward system?) Without going into details nobody, including me,
wants to dwell on, I probably lost a pound or two of water weight. This morning I
felt enough better that I couldn't quite justify skipping the gym. While doing my
upright rows in front of a mirror, I noticed that my ab definition was noticeably
better than usual. Hmm. And at the cost of only a couple hours of discomfort and a
few hurried trips to the bathroom.
Now, no one needs to worry about
me turning into Calista junior. I am not self-disciplined enough to give up my
pretzels, and even if I were, I am serious enough about my rowing that I wouldn't
stop eating healthy food, or do anything to lower my energy level. Also, I'm
happily married, I get paid enough attention by others to make me feel at least
reasonably attractive, and I'm fairly happy with how I look and very pleased with
who I've grown into. But suppose some of those things weren't true. Suppose I were
alone, and off balance. Suppose I'd been fed the message that no one would think I
was sexy unless I looked like an actress so many times that I believed it. Suppose
I didn't do sports and felt no need to be strong. Then yes, I can see how that
glimpse of abs shown off by a bit of involuntary loss of water weight could make
voluntary purging seem logical. And I can see how the next step could be factoring
exercise into everything I do, and then eating less, and then, and then, and
There are so many things to enjoy about being 35 instead of
17. The fact that self-destruction becomes much less appealing is one of
At the Curdle Fair, at the Curdle Fair,
You'll have grand fun
There's candy floss and suchlike fare,
At the Curdle Fair on May Day.
Paul hoped, that chicken-poxy spring,
He'd be well by the First of May
That most exciting special day,
With fortune tellers and coconut shies
The knife toss and the swings
And stalls that sell most everything
At the Curdle Fair on May Day.
At the Curdle Fair, at the Curdle Fair,
You'll have grand fun
On the roundabout, you can ride a bear!
At the Curdle Fair on May Day.
Pretty Molly awaited April's end
Wondering if young Ben would come
With crinkly grin and gypsy charm
Last fair they'd had a splendid time
He'd asked "Can you be true?" (she thought).
She wore the shiny brooch he'd bought
And hoped that she'd see him again
At the Curdle Fair on May Day.
At the Curdle Fair, at the Curdle Fair,
You'll have grand fun
There's a smiling lad, with curly hair,
At the Curdle Fair on May Day.
Ben raced through setting up the rides
He'd not forget her, no fear!
He'd thought of nothing else all year
Could she be happy in a caravan?
Today if he could, he would find her
Today, with a kiss, he'd remind her
And from today, she'd travel by his side
With the Curdle Fair each May Day.
At the Curdle Fair, at the Curdle Fair,
You'll have grand fun
And you may meet your true love there,
At the Curdle Fair on May Day.
If the Cirque du Soleil IMAX movie Journey of
Man is playing in your area, go see it. It's amazing what the human body can
do, and though it only lasts 45 minutes, it's a bargain when you consider the
price of their shows in Vegas.
As always, they left me thinking I
need to stretch more often. This time, the troupe also left me wanting a bungie
rig in my backyard to flip around on -- way cooler than a trampoline.
Computer update: the PC hard drive is toast. HP/Compaq is sending up a new one,
but I had to pay to extend the hardware warranty. Got the old Mac hooked up to the
net, and I'm on it at the moment. It's a little slow, but on the other hand it's
seven years old, which is like 70 in people years. Having the hard drive crash on
a year-old PC is making me lust after a new iMac. My flirtation with a home PC may
be over. Macs still rule, for those more into quality than
Other than that, we're spending the weekend starting to
pack for Alaska -- everything from bathing suits and shorts to fleece and Gore-
Tex, plus lots of CDs for the road and books for the flight
Meanwhile, the fire up north is getting closer and closer to our
There may not be any activity here over the weekend,
as my laptop died most horribly last night. It originally crashed Thursday night
(note to Listsibs: while looking at a site with pictures of JWK, ironically). I
was able to resuscitate it eventually, but then last night I tried to defrag the
disk and it crashed and burned. Now when I try to start it, the drive makes odd
clicking sounds and it says it can't find the OS and to reinstall the hard disk. I
will attempt to figure out how to do so tonight, if the problem hasn't
spontaneously self-corrected. (Not this time, I'm thinking.)
If I get
desperate, I may just hook the old Mac up to the modem. I'd love to replace it
with an iMac, but with the trip coming up and a credit card bill so large I'm not
going to pay it in full this month (first time in a year, probably) that's not in
the budget for the near future. Note, by the way, that our Mac is now 7 years old
and still working.
At any rate, I ought to have some spare time this
weekend, because we will certainly not be going up to the property this weekend.
I'm not all that fond of href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/unfrfire.html">barbeque.
This really sucks -- large portions of my
state are on fire, and one of the fires is frighteningly close to our airpark
property. They've evacuated the whole town there. For once I'm glad we hadn't
built anything there yet. I'm a bit worried about our neighbors though -- lots of
the people who live at the airpark full-time are fairly old. At least all of
those have the money to get out of there easily, but there are plenty of others in
the area who don't. And there are no expectations of being able to confine it any
time soon, and no predictions of rain. There hasn't been any all year, and the
whole state is short of water, so I don't imagine we can easily afford the water
to fight those fires.
Another annoying factor was listening to one of
our stupider Senators on the news last night blaming "rabid environmentalists" for
using up state funds in lawsuits that could be used to fight the fires. I have a
very strong suspicion that those "rabid" types are just trying to get the state
and BLM to do controlled burns to clear out underbrush and tinder, so that when
wildfires do start they don't explode the way these have. Good thing I already did
my Ampersand piece;
I'm having trouble thinking of fire as "friendly" these days.
I'm tired. This morning I rowed a double with the Oldtimer -- not sure whether
it's fairer to say he wore me out or that I'm exhausted from dragging his butt all
over the lake. (Neither, really.) It was a good row, though, and when we did some
racing starts they went fairly well for our first time rowing together. We raced
Rudder for those, though, and he beat us most (not all) of the time. One of these
days I want to race Rudder in a single. I bet I can keep up with him, or nearly,
for 100 meters, but that he'll pull further and further ahead over longer
I'm tired also because I woke up at 3AM, an hour before I
needed to. As if four weren't bad enough! The dratted cats have been whining
around that time most mornings lately, and though they didn't today, I think they
have me trained now. Gah.
I like my job -- just got confirmed for
some training that will help me both here and in the future. And I just got back
from the cafeteria, where the local Pride group is manning and womanning a table
today, raising awareness and giving away lollypops. How cool is that? Still .... I
wish I'd called in sick and spent the day sleeping. only a week and a day until
we leave for Alaska. I still wonder if there's really any such thing as a job so
wonderful you don't want to take vacations. Given my fondness for change, I
suspect there is not, for me. It might be true for other people who are fonder of
routine and who don't like leaving home.
At the Pride table, I
answered a question about the origin of the pink and black triangle symbols to
enter a drawing for movie tickets. Easy ... they should have known better than to
let a woman wearing a mezuza answer a Holocaust-related question. Like shooting
non-pork kosher hot dogs in a barrel. I also picked up their information sheet,
which did have some stuff I didn't know. Apparently women were not officially sent
to the concentration camps for being lesbians, but were sent as "antisocials", a
category "which included everything from feminism, lesbianism, prostitution, and
was extended to any woman who didn't conform to the ideal Nazi image of a woman."
There is a chart showing the various symbols prisoners were forced to wear;
apparently the right-side-up yellow triangle that forms part of the star Jews were
forced to wear could be combined with inverted triangles of other colors to show
Jewish political prisoners, Jewish criminals, Jewish homosexuals, and so on. Given
the definition above, I'm tempted to adopt the yellow-and-black triangles of the
'Jewish antisocial'. Except that Hitler is not among my favorite
Hm. Not surprised somehow....
Thanks to Mechaieh.
My L.M. Montgomery list keeps trying to turn me into a radical -- which wouldn't
bother me, except I keep feeling the temptation to turn into a mean-spirited one.
The problem is that it's populated by a bunch of sweet, pure, religious women ....
and me. I don't do sweet. Or pure, or religious, for that
This list is a spinoff of another one I left a few years
back. That one was sweet also, and cozy and perky. Except when someone stepped on
another's toes, at which point it would suddenly flash into ugly and cruel. It was
sort of like seeing a house all decorated in little pink country patterns, with
curtains and knick-knacks and Victorian frills, that would periodically catch on
fire. The smell of smoke always took forever to get out,
Apparently that list got worse after I left, and so some of its
members formed this spinoff, which was meant to be full of kindred spirit (a
resounding phrase for fans of LMM), a shelter from the flames of the main list.
For some odd reason, they asked me to join, and I did, in hopes of being able to
discuss some of the books I love.
The list is also full of off-topic
discussions of things like housekeeping and gardening and children. I have little
interest (or ability) in gardening, but some of the housekeeping and childrearing
talk gets into very interesting historical channels. Some of it is more about
today, though, and every so often someone will comment on "how much we all have in
common". Ha. There's also a heapin' helpin' of that tendency majority groups
(religion, in this case) so often have to think all right-minded people think the
way they do. So I become the list trouble-maker, stepping up on occasion to point
out the fallacy of this. The first time I pointed out not everyone there is
Christian, I was answered with a chorus of "Oh, no, we don't want any of *that*
topic because then there will be flames here!" I was careful to point out I was
not insulting anyone else's religion, and a few braver souls did chime in to say
how they respected people of other faiths. (I didn't ask how they felt about their
children marrying one.) I notice, though, that no one minds the occasional mention
of Jesus. (Well, I don't either, as long as they realize not everyone believes in
him, a fact I fear is mostly forgotten.)
The other problem is the
actual book discussion ... we have people who lead topics and present questions, a
decent way to keep the discussion on track. The problem is in the questions.
Instead of something like "Compare Anne's attachment to Green Gables with Pat's to
Silver Bush", they're apt to be more like "Have you ever had a house you really
loved and didn't want to leave?" Grr. That can occasionally be interesting, but
it's not book discussion! Again, I wouldn't mind, if they would mix the two styles
a bit more.
My constant temptation is to say things to shock the
other listmembers, because all that sweetness gets cloying. (And it is a choice
for most of these people -- if it were just unsullied ignorance, I wouldn't
entertain these thoughts. I'm not that mean-spirited.) A mild aside the other day
on lesbianism went over their heads, so I may need to be less subtle. Maybe a
simple "Goddess bless" would do?
I know, I am Not a Nice Girl.
One of the best things about reading diaries is the chance to go through nearly
the whole life cycle in a morning. Today I've read one href="http://caerula.diaryland.com">wants-to-be-a-mom, one href="http://akkelly.diaryland.com">pregnant woman, two href="http://bafleyanne.diaryland.com">mothers of http://www.redhairedgirl.com/journal/20020617.html">one-year-olds, one href="http://marn.diaryland.com">woman in the thick of her life with her
daughter grown and gone, and one old
man looking back on his life. Likely later on I'll read a teenager or two,
someone with young children, someone with a pubescent daughter, a young adult on
her own, someone in a stable couple with reproduction plans way off in the future,
someone just planning to get married, and someone in her thirties who chooses not
to have children (that would be this essay, among others). It's good to share a
bit in the whole carousel of time.
Today I went to get my body fat checked -- there's a company out here that has a
setup in a truck that they park in front of various local gyms. They must get a
good business, because I made the appointment two weeks ago and this was the
soonest opening at a gym near work or home. It's not that I'm manic about this,
really. It's partly because I was curious how accurate our not-for-athletes Tanita
scale is (usually reads 26-27%), but mostly because the guys at the gym pissed me
off last time they checked my bodyfat via the caliper method.
number they gave me appalled me so much that I asked at the desk there if they
knew of a place that measured it by immersion. Another trainer overheard me ask
and offered to recheck me with the calipers, giving me a long speech about how
he'd been doing this for 10 years and knew exactly what he was doing, blah de blah
de blah. He returned me a number only about half a percent lower than the last
one. At least they're consistent in their wrongness.
The reading they
gave me was about 29% bodyfat. Remember that number. You may also want to review
the pics here to form
your own opinion. I have some fat on me, no question, but 29% is high enough to
start affecting health.
Also, the trainer started telling me people
can have high percentages of fat without being large, and that as we age, we store
more fat internally. All of which is true, but only to a point. And thin people
with lots of fat juggle, and their upper arms dangle. I mean, you can tell -- it's
not a hidden thing.(They tend to look much worse than curvy round goddess types
So I went off to be dunked. The truck was out across the
parking lot from an LA Fitness (a local gym chain). Unfortunately, the truck had
changing cubicles but no waiting area, so I had to wait outside for 5-10 minutes.
That doesn't seem so bad until you realize it's well over 100 degrees and I'm
dressed for work in long pants and a sleeveless sweater. He did apologize when he
let me in, at least, and explained the previous client, a weighty gentleman, was
squeamish about being seen in a bathing suit. Actually, I had assumed it was a
I changed into my new bathing suit (realizing in
the process that it's a little loose -- oh, well, for $12 I can't complain),
and let him weigh me and explain the process. The tank was long enough for me to
stretch out and maybe 2.5 feet deep. There was a ladder-shaped frame made of
plastic tubing and he instructed me to hold one end with my hands and brace
against the other end with my toes (not sure how this would have worked for the
much taller previous client). Then I had to lower my face, expel as much air as
possible, and wait for about four seconds. He had me repeat that five times-- this
is not a good idea for anyone with a phobia about water.
all that, I got dressed again and came out to get my results. Remember that 29%?
And the cocky trainer who told me his numbers must be right? Read it and weep,
Next, I need to shoot for a number that's
in the Good range (18-21 for women in my age group) by something more than the
skin of its toenails. But mostly I'm just pleased to have once again been proved
yes, and the most amusing part was where the report told me that (in defiance of
the good/bad ranges on a previous page) that my ideal was 22% and that I should
therefore gain 2 lbs of fat (the guy who ran it recommended 4 lbs of muscle
instead, which might help more on the water). A fig for the trainers!
I feel like I've been one-upped for Father's Day. My dad is impossible to buy
presents for because he has no hobbies, unless you count napping. To make things
more difficult, his birthday is June 15, so we have to think of two presents at
once (or one big one). He does have an interest in military aircraft, having
served a hitch as a mechanic in the USAF, so lots of our gifts play to that. This
year, I paid to have an honorary plaque with his name put up on the wall of the
new facility the National Air and Space Museum is building at Washington
International Airport -- a way of helping to build something he'd care about in
My Brother the Writer gave him a certificate saying that
his name would be burned onto a CD carried to Mars. One-upped, yes, I am. What Dad
doesn't know is that the Mars thing is free (you can do it yourself href=http://spacekids.hq.nasa.gov/2003/">here, and print out the certificate)
while the museum sponsorship was not cheap. Still, I make a good bit more money
than MBtW, so while it's more than I'd normally spend on a gift, it's not the
stretch it would be for him. And he more than made up any difference, anyway, by
investing his time and using his writerly skills to compose a long Father's Day
letter that so affected our normally undemonstrative father that he read me the
entire thing. (It boils down to "Dad, you may not have given us material things
but we knew you loved us and were always there for us" sort of thing that always
brings tears to parental eyes.)
I had issues with a few minor
points in the letter, but the gist is correct. My parents did love us, did do
their best, and in a world of abusers, self-interest, and indifference, that
counts for a lot. And they got us both reading, which in my view counts for even
more. (MBtW, thanks to a talent for scoping our booksales, may own even more books
than I do.)
Well, it's not a competition, and the point of presents
is to make the recipient happy, which he certainly did. Here's the thing that
puzzles me: why is it I would be so very uncomfortable writing such a letter? I
think it's the idea that it might make the parents think they did everything
right, which they certainly didn't. I have some issues with their insularity and
even more with their tempers -- while we were never abused, there was certainly
more screaming than necessary and some slapping, also. Still, so what? No doubt we
were difficult children to raise, and if we didn't have a wide range of experience
directly, we certainly did so vicariously through our books. Besides, they did the
most important things right, so why does it matter what they did wrong? I think
it's really just fear they might take it as an admission that they were right and
I was wrong (about what, specifically, I don't really know). And -- confession of
Dichroic character flaw here -- that's something I can only stand when I really
was in the wrong.
Arrggh. I just spent an hour and a half trying to install a VPN client on my
computer so that I can work from home occasionally. Everything seemed to go well,
except that it wouldn't let me log in. We have a contract for support with an 800
number that's supposed to be 24/7 but of course the people who can actually help
on this appear to be there only Mon-Fri. Which is why I will mention that this so-
helpful support company is IBM. At least I can charge the time.
reading yet another biography of Isaac Asimov; his wife Janet Jeppson put this one
together, condensing the three volumes he'd written into one at the request of a
published. Some of it is thus matter I'd read before, but some of it is new from
letters to her and she's also added some comments. The biggest change is that
Janet and Asimov's daughter Robyn decided to tell the truth about his death. This
surprised me quite a bit, but apparently Asimov died of AIDS, contracted from a
blood transfusion back before they were testing the blood supply. It was kept
quiet because of the enormous stigma attached to the disease for most of the time
he was ill. (Well, there's still a stigma, of course, but less so, I hope. Back in
the late 80s/early 90s, educated people were still talking in public about how
they'd never want to touch anyone with AIDS and viewing it as necessarily the
result of the afflicted person's own risky choices. Nowadays only some people do
so, at least a partial advance in our social fabric. (She said,
And now I've done my computer chores (the VPN thing,
not this update) and it's still early enough to be comfortable outdoors, so I'm
going to go put the patio furniture we finally acquired last week to good use.
Spider-Man was pretty good -- as my Homer told us the other day, "One of the best
superhero movies I've seen. However, of the many gaping plot holes that seem to be
unavoidable in any superhero movie, one bothered me and it was repeated twice. Two
separate times, Mary Jane is falling, and somehow in defiance of all laws of
gravity, Spidey jumps after her and somehow manages to fall faster, so that he can
catch up to her. Now, he's in a straight dive and she's kind of flailing, but
still, they don't fall nearly far enough for air resistance to have that much
effect. Is this another feature of spiders that I have somehow never noticed, the
ability to speed up gravity?
We're off to the car-dealers so we can pick the exact colors for our new boat
designs. (They use car paint on the boats, so you can just tell them the make and
color name.) Don't worry, though; we're going to the dealerships that have really
annoyed us in the past so we don't have to feel bad about wasting their
After that, maybe Spider-man, since everyone seems to like,
followed by AzMex food for dinner.
I am fire. I am not dog but wolf
I am no simple servant to maintain.
Friend sometimes, yet uncomfortable companion
Who never rests quiescent, never tame.
And yet more full of wild glamourie
For that I am untame. no cage binds flame
No mold imposes shape, no rising spark
Or flicker is repeated, none the same.
I bow sometimes to serve the need of men
Next I rise, holocaustic, to consume
Themselves, their goods, those same homes I had warmed
Uncaring whether I mete boon or doom.
I am what I am; Yahwist in this alone,
I am alike in blazing bush or hearthside glow;
Small matchstruck flame or giant burning sun,
Chancy servant, fickle friend and sometime foe.
My fuzzy brain today may be accounted for by dinner and Mmmmm....beeeerr... with
former coworker and friend Homer and his wife (I think I may have nommed her
Alice, as in Dilbert, since she's certainly not a Marge). It was good to see them,
since it's been a while. Oddly, though, Rudder always turned into a different
person around those two. He liked them, and I don't think they make him
uncomfortable, but he laughs and talks a little too loud, and talks about his/our
travels a little too much, as if he's trying to one-up them. Not sure why, as he
doesn't do that with most people and they're not the snooty or bragging sort you'd
expect to bring out that behavior. In fact, if they were, he wouldn't do it; he
just wouldn't bother with them. Maybe it's just because we like them and he
doesn't know them as well? I, on the other hand, just become susceptible to peer
pressure, which is why we ended up after dinner at the Cold Stone ice creamery
across from the brewpub. (Our new mall has all it's best restaurants conveniently
located around a fountain courtyard in back.)
Doing weights today
after the strength work in the boat yesterday turned out not to be a good idea. My
body wasn't really whining or complaining; I can work though that. (Well,
sometimes I cave.) Today it just said, "No." Very definitely, not argumentative,
but firm -- my legs just were not going to be doing squats at full force today. I
listen when my body gets like that, on the theory that skimping on one workout
will harm me less than getting burned out and chucking the whole thing. Also,
everything I've ever read on the subject says that for optimum results, your
muscles need to rest for a couple of days after a strength
On the other hand, I was already at the gym by then. So we
compromised, the mind and the body. I finished out the squats, did a light set of
inclined leg press, some calf raises (my calves weren't as fatigued from
yesterday) and added more abs exercises than I usually do.
Then I did
the indecision mambo. Don't laugh at me, you all know the steps. After doing my
stretches, I went to the locker room to shower, but realized I'd left some stuff
in the car. I carry my bag of toiletries into work with me, because they're prone
to melt or explode if left in the car in summer, so I'm always forgetting to shift
them back into my gym bag. The locker rooms are at the end of the gym farthest
from the exit. I started to trek all the way back through the gym to my car. Mid-
way there, I realized I was tired and not feeling great (from last night's ice
cream, probably) and I could just go home instead, and work from home for a couple
hours, as long as I got to the office in time for a 10AM meeting. I turned and
headed back to the locker room to get the stuff I had left there. After I'd taken
ten steps or so, though, I realized I needed to talk to someone before that
meeting. So it was back to the locker room to shower and off to work after
Oh, but there is a bit of good news -- I found my logbook. It's
been missing about a week and it contains records of all my erg pieces for 2002 to
date, so losing it would suck muchly. I found it at the very back of the top shelf
of a gym locker -- lucky I usually use the same one. Just another example of how
the world is not designed for small people. One of these days, me and all of the
kids are going on strike until the rest of you make things to fit us. Yes, I can
fairly be called child-sized. I didn't buy a bikini in abercrombie the other day
(Abercrombie & Fitch's kid's store) because it was too big in the butt.
Today I did some strength training -- 13 sets of ten strokes, as hard as possible,
with a bungie cord around the boat to add resistance. It was fun in a way -- the
bungie creates much more wake so that when you go fast there's bubbles and spray
and a rooster-tail. (Well, OK, the rooster-tail effect was mostly in my head. But
there was much more wake than normal, anyhow.
However, I've concluded
I will never be a world-class rower. Well, I knew that, of course, because no
matter what else you do, you need to have the right genes to reach the top and I
don't, by about eight inches of height. However, another reason I will never be
world-class is that when I look at the training schedule of those who are, my
first reaction is still, "Are they crazy?" Here's a sample, and this is for a
lightweight woman, mind you:
I do a lot of single
sculling (@ 20 miles per day) much of which is done with a 20 foot rope that
floats. I tied knots every foot and it actually creates quite a drag. In
addition to the sculling I do numerous other cross training cardiovascular based
activities. One of my favorites is 100 flights of stadium stairs twice per week.
I cycle @ 30 miles per day and run or swim occasionally.
Any one of
those components would kill a normal person -- I can show you blisters from rowing
a mere 10K, my normal distance. And that's after my hands got used to it. But 20
miles is well over 30K, and the extra resistance from her knotted rope is not
inconsiderable. And that to the 30mi on a bike plus all the extras (elsewhere in
that article she'd mentioned weight training) and it becomes clear that the top
athletes have to come up with sponsors or rich relatives, because they can't
possibly work full time. And remember, this is a sport with no professional
All I can say is wow. And thank goodness there are regattas
on all levels so I don't need to compete against people like that.
For anyone who's wondering: the reasons we worry about civil rights for people who
may be criminals is because it's too damned hard to be sure we only give them to
innocent people. Especially in the case of innocent people who were in the wrong
place at the wrong time and ended up looking like criminals. Also, it's important
that in trying to punish those who are guilty, we maintain our own morals. This is
not so much because of what it does to them as because of what it does to us.
Also because what if those who decide what is a criminal act aren't right every
time? (*cough* Ashcroft *cough*)
href="http://bastion.diaryland.com/904.html">Bastion, another Wondering Jew, I
Niemoller's words echoing louder every time I hear the domestic news.
Prufrock and SwooP have been tossing
some interesting volleys on the topic of "Was Then Better Than Now?" As I so often
am, I'm sorry SwooP's journal is password protected, because she had some points
well worth reading. It's not that often that you hear the past defended in a non-
kneejerk fashion. ("We were all tougher then. We walked two miles to school,
uphill each way, in the snow, and we were damned glad to do it!" being the more
usual refrain. Her thesis was that despite the undeniable gains, and she
specifically lauds the broadening of civil rights, in the 1940s through 1960s the
sense of community was far more pervasive than it is now, and that's a huge loss.
She's right about that, of course, though I still wonder how much of
it is regional. I have less community because I moved to where there is less
community. My parents still live in the same house where they raised me and they
still know their neighbors nearly as well as they did 30 years ago. (Some of them
are the same people, or the children of the same people.)
other hand, though our neighborhood is not friendly at all, we do know our
neighbors on the airpark property up north. Not only do people there have the
common interest in flying, there are several group activates each year and between
the flying and the wonderful weather there, people seem to spend a lot more time
hanging around outside, watching runway activity and chatting. Also, though we
don't have the built-in community of a real neighborhood, I wonder if elective
communities, both real and virtual, haven't grown stronger than they once were.
Churches have often functioned as extended family, but now I've had that sort of
thing both in my rowing program and in my online community. Was that sort of
secular group as strong in the 1950s? Or was in just that the people you knew in
your sports team or your lodge meetings were your neighbors, so the
communities were one and the same? And of course, it's easier to meet people who
share one's more recherchè (I think I have that accent backwards) interests since
the advent of the Net. Maybe communities haven't died, just migrated out of the
immediate neighborhood. Of course, they're also less likely to last a lifetime,
and it would be easy to argue this is a sign of weakening.
SwooP deliberately limited her argument to the relatively recent past; it's easy
to argue that any time before the common use of antibiotics was worse than the
present because now the vast majority of parents will be able to watch their kids
grow up. There are still some tragic deaths due to accident or disease, but
nothing like those Victorian or earlier parents had to deal with.
main argument for modern times, though, is neither of the above. It's true that
the past had some things that are a sore loss. It's equally true that the present
has quite a few facets that are hardly gains: long hours of work, technology that
eats our lives, the constant pressure on kids. I can't say that Now is
immeasurably better than Then, or that progress has been unalloyed with regress.
The major advantage I do see today is that many more of our problems are the
result of our choices -- or are at least easier to overcome by making different
choices. I can choose not to own a TV or a computer, or not to spend too many of
my hours on them; my grandmother could not choose to given my mother antibiotics
when she had spinal meningitis, in about 1945. I can choose a career and lifestyle
that will not require large amounts of overtime far more easily than my great-
grandmother could, back when she had three small children to support and no labor
laws to protect her (yes, I cheated there; that was well before the 1940s). And I
can choose to live in a neighborhood where people still talk to each other, or to
join other sorts of communities; Rosa Parks' predecessors could not choose to sit
in the front of the bus or avoid other sorts of discrimination, in the North as
well as the South.
So I would argue that things have gotten better.
Do we still have a long way to go? Oh yeah -- until there is no prejudice, no
"holy wars", no discrimination, we can't even claim to have completed the job in
the areas where we have made progress. And again, it's easy to argue that a
community of people who are right there, physically, is more useful than one you
have to go somewhere to see, or one that only exists the dance of electrons and
lightwaves across a network. The hardest thing may be to regain the past's
blessings while getting rid of its ugly parts.
Damme, I'm getting
pompous here again. Sorry.
Dammit! I forgot to watch the eclipse yesterday evening!!
Lately a lot of diaries I read have been doing that 40x40 thing -- a list of
things the writer wants to do before turning forty. They can be interesting to
read, but my first response is always, "Those things are for people who aren't
already thirty-five!" My second, more measured response is, "Why forty? Do people
think life ends then?" I hope to do as many interesting things after I'm forty as
I've done in the previous years.
With that in mind, here is a matched pair of lists:
40 things I've done before 40
40 things I hope to do later
Drive a car
Learn to ride a motorcycle
Drive a boat
live on a boat for a while
Pilot a plane
Own a plane
improve my temper, work ethic, and compassion
Get an engineering degree
Become financially independent (aka retire early)
get a Masters degree
get another MS, in Linguistics or Cognitive Science
keep doing things that scare me
get certified for skydiving
mountain bike down steep hills without a death-grip on the brakes
Rock climb, up to 5.10b
Successfully climb a 5.11a
soar in a sailplane
pilot a sailplane
get IFR certified
log > 1000 hours flying time
Get married (yes, this is listed with the adventure sports for a reason)
stay married (also an adventure)
Ride in a helicopter
Pilot a helicopter
Learn to row
Win a race in a single
Learn to windsurf
Learn to sail
Kayak well enough to handle rapids (say, class IV)
get scuba certified
travel to Europe
spend enough time in Great Britain (at least a couple of months)
travel to Asia
travel to Australia
live abroad for a year or two
travel to New Zealand
quit my job and spend a year roaming around the US
travel to more than half of US states
travel to all 50 states
speak in public
teach a class
own a rowing shell
own a shell sized just for me
visit the Reno Air Races
visit the Oshkosh fly-in
take a child camping and climbing
own a house
live in a trailer (while traveling -- both for the freedom and the exercise in
build a house (have it built for me, that is)
build another house -- maybe do some of it myself -- and plan it from scratch
live in the heart of a city
live in a beautiful place
live with cats
improve my writing/photography
keep a journal (well over a year now!)
put together and and publish a book
manage a team
find a career where I can live anywhere I want
work on Space Shuttle/Station programs
publish some of our photography
donated to charity
give more time and money away to good causes
visit New York, New Orleans, London, and Paris
spend more time in all of the above, plus other great cities
survive being unemployed for 6 months
save enough for a year's worth of expenses
get out to more live music/theater
Looking over the list, a surprising number of these are either material (own this,
own that) or very concrete (et this or that degree of certification). That may be
the nature of the beast, though; it's easier to write "get scuba-certified" than
to write "really learn how to dive and go do more dives", though the two mean
nearly the same (to me, at least). It would probably be fair to consider all the
degree/certification items as a wish to learn things. Most of the ownership items
reflect either the wish for freedom (airplane, rowing shell) or the wish to -- I
don't know quite how to put it -- live in beauty, like building another house, one
we've designed, in a beautiful place.
Some things that can be goals before they're done (get a cat, live in city) are
just commonplace experiences and hardly seem worth mentioning. I have mentioned
some of them, though, because they're now part of my past, even if not noteworthy.
It's clear that not everything in the list is an accomplishment, but they are all
things I would have hoped to do when I was younger. Some of the to-dos, like
traveling to Antarctica, I may actually complete before turning 40, while others
(learning to fly a helicopter) I may never get around to. But I'll be happy to
wait and see.
Sorry if the above table appears garbled for some readers, by the way; I'm not
sure if all browsers can handle nested tables.
We went up to the property today, to water the tree we planted. They seem to be
doing surprisingly well, considering we're in the middle of what may become a
record drought. We went, also, to recharge by sitting outside in comfortable
temperatures, with green trees around us and the scent of pine (well, an avgas) in
the air. It was windy as hell though.
One of the taller pine trees on
the lot is dead, and I need to call the Forest Service to ask how I can tell
whether it was killed by beetles. If so, we need to get it out of there before
other trees get infested; if not, I'd like to leave it at least through the
summer, because it protects a couple of younger junipers. The Forest Service is
quite busy these days, though; there was a twin-engine plane circling overhead for
a while (at first we thought he was worried about the wind or had a gear problem)
and a fire engine down at the end of the taxiway because of a report of smoke. We
think it was just the smoke from a small jet someone landed (yes, up at the
airpark we're among the poor folks). I am impressed at how alert the fire crews
are -- with this level of fire anger, they have to be. We didn't could have
camped, though we didn't, only because we own the property; most of the national
forests nearby are completely closed. I hate when that happens.
What I'd like to do today:
What I've done
What else I expect to get
With luck, the
bookstore visit, which I suppose counts as time
Not too bad.
I sat in on the beginning of a Lake Users' Group this morning, to hear discussion
of boat storage and launch-wake issues, but left early to get to work. It was
clear by then that Rudder and AussieCoach were bringing up all the issues I wanted
discussed, so they didn't need me. My favorite part of the meeting was when one
person who works for the city and has only recently evolved past the amoeba stage,
brain-cell-wise, said, "We can't make a decision when we don't have all the
facts!" Rudder snapped back with, "Sure you can -- we do it at work all the time!"
while I quoted my Stats professor: "Statistics is decision making in a climate of
uncertainty." Not that our knife-edged logic made any dent on Amoebawoman, of
course; she just congealed around the cut and oozed on.
If there's one thing I've learned, or learned more about, from reading the
href="http//jerseygrrl.diaryland.com">oeuvre, it's the whole thing about
mindful relationships - that is, being mindful of what you need as well as what
you give, speaking up when things aren't in balance, remembering no one can read
The other night, when Rudder sheepishly announced that
he'd have to work at least one day this weekend and so we couldn't go camping, I
realized the reason I wasn't upset was that I've been itching for some time on my
own. I've got lots to do, like make new slings for the boats and install a VPN
client so I can work from home occasionally, but really I just want to be able to
go to the mall or to a bookstore and not be in a hurry to get home. It's not that
he even asks me to come home early; it's just that weekends are almost our only
time together so I feel guilty for spending time on my own. Purely self-induced
guilt, the silliest kind and the hardest sort to get rid of.
My feet hurt today when I stand. I wonder if it might be from weightlifting this
morning -- I was doing squats of up to 90 lbs (thank you, thank you) plus some
related stuff like leg presses and calf raises (including a few of 135 lbs, which
is exciting because it's well over my weight), and I wonder whether this is a bit
more stress than my nearly archless feet are happy with. Oh well.
my way to buy lunch, I passed the message board with the annoying perky slogans.
Today it says, "Instead of complaining that roses have thorns, be thankful that
thorns have roses!" That got me thinking. For one thing, why not just appreciate
the whole plant, its wildness as well as its more conventional prettiness? Why
should everything be all sweetness and life and perfume? Life is better with a few
small untamed risks in it, a few reminders that everything isn't here just to
On further thought, I realized that in some ways, I
actually like the thorns better. Roses aren't my favorite flower, at least not the
traditional big plain red or pink or yellow or white ones. I like the more fragile
prettiness of antique roses. I like the more subtle colors, like the blush roses
with the palest near-white at the edge of the petals that shaded to a very
alive peach-pink heart that I carried at my wedding. I like seeing all the
different things a breeder can do with a basic genome. Really though, my favorite
thing about a rose blossom isn't the way it looks or smells but the impossible
softness of the petals.
But have you ever looked closely at a thorn?
Break one off and try it. (Don't use the whole stem with the thorn attached
because another thorn will get you right in the eye, and if you complain people
will laugh at you.) Rose thorns have a beautiful curve to them, and when you touch
the sides of them they have a slick smoothness that sweeps your finger along. Rose
blossoms are great obvious flaunting things, but thorns only show their beauty
when you pay close attention, when you aren't limited by the obvious, when you
look without preconceptions. Their beauty is a bigger reward than that of the
flowers, because it's a secret not everyone knows.
After all the waiting around
for windshield replacement, I ended up with a tasty and non-nutritious bag of
microwave popcorn for lunch. Dinner had better be something good.
the plus side I found out that the vending machine downstairs has ginger ale.
I keep thinking I should switch to blog-style entries, or even start
a whole new blog, because I'll think of something want to write about it, phrase
it in my head, and then totally forget about by the time I get to writing the next
diary entry. The above is why that would be a bad idea. It would be likely to
discourage the cohesive essay-style entries and odd bit of poetry (some odder than
others) that I meant this diary to contain, and that I even still sometimes write.
And while I'm never entirely sure why I've been doing this for the last 15 months,
I'm pretty sure it's not about soda. Not only does no one else want to read about
the contents of my local vending machine, I don't even want to read about that
stuff. I can't imagine doing a random web search some day when I'm in my 70s (on
whatever the Internet has become by then) and thinking, "Oh, wow, I liked ginger
ale back in 2002!"
Though you never know. I've been known to discuss
the merits of ginger beer vs. ginger ale, and I was wondering just last night when
they started selling Coke in bottles rather than just at soda fountains, and then
when people started buying soda in bulk to have in he house rather than just
getting one at a time at a gas station.
Still, I'd just end up
writing about stupid things like what I've eaten, and who care about that? Reading
about what other people have eaten is never interesting unless it's actually
interesting food, or it has a story attached. Or a recipe, so I can try it myself.
If you've gone to a French-Asian fusion restaurant and had a saumon-canard terrine
with a soy ginger sauce, then I want to hear about it, or about why you can't make
piecrust as good as your granny's because she used pure lard, or about how
everyone looked at you funny as you jumped up and down in the middle of a Houston
supermarket emitting squeaks of joy because they'd just starting the special brand
of pretzels you were addicted to and thought you couldn't get outside
Pennsylvania. (Actually, that last one was me.) But I don't want to talk about
what I had for lunch today, or hear about what you had for breakfast just to make
small talk. This was a favorite conversational gambit of my parents', so I'm
venting some pent-up boredom here, but I think that gets back to my original
point. If I had a blog, I'd end up writing about more minutiae than anyone ever
needs to read, and I'd bore myself silly. (Sillier.)
So that's why I
need to avoid blogs; ironically, nontechnical as she is, keeping a blog could turn
me into my mother. Eek.
It's amazing what creatures of habit people are. NPR reported on the Israeli bus
driver who survived yesterday's suicide bombing -- this is the fourth attack he's
I appreciate the concept
of standing your ground in a fight, but I believe I'd have found another job by
now, if I were he.
For some odd reason, I got a shitload of Googlers
here late yesterday. I rarely mention my Google hits because most of them are just
for "Dichroic", and the next biggest block are for books, songs, or poems I've
quoted (though that's very cool, because I get a lot of people searching for
lesser known artists/writers like Ewan MacColl or Miss Read (Yes, SwooP, most
people are unlucky enough not to know who she is)). However, I would especially
like to welcome the person who came here yesterday searching for "small rower".
Yup, that's me, coxswain-sized but a rower nonetheless. Drop a note in the
guestbook, rowers, obscure book and music fans, and any of you.
The more diaries/blogs/journals I read, the more I realize I am a lucky, lucky
girl, compared to an awful lot of people. Some fortune you make for yourself, of
course -- I don't consider a happy marriage, now nearly nine years old, to be the
pure result of fate, though meeting Rudder in the first place was. Other things,
though, are purely a result of when and where I was born, and of the family I was
I have two parents, still married to each
other, to whom I am still speaking. Until I was in college, I had four loving
grandparents. I have an uncle to whom I am close. I have one brother, now self-
sufficient and out on his own. None of these people abused me as a child, sexually
or in any other way (there was a bit more hitting and screaming than modern
standards would consider appropriate, but that's a far cry from real
Some problems I've avoided are a combination
of luck, work, and common sense precautions. The latter two make a difference, but
there are people as careful who have yet been
I have never been mugged, beaten, raped, or
robbed of anything irreplaceable. I have been short of money, but never so poor
that food and shelter were major problems. I have never been ill or hurt enough
to need hospitalization or surgery, barring a couple minor outpatient
Some luck is in the time and place I
inhabit and the opportunities it offers:
I have had
chicken pox, sinus infections, flu, UTIs, strep, and a staph infection. None of
them were more than a temporary annoyance, thanks to antibiotics. These things
used to kill people. Also, I had the chance to get a first-rate education, which
allowed me to enter into a career that is reasonably rewarding in terms of
challenge, enjoyment, and money.
One of my biggest
pieces of luck was being born to parents who loved to read and taught me to do
likewise. Not only did that help with my education, it gave me insights into
worlds far removed from blue-collar Northeast Philadelphia, and into people
different from those I knew.
I was encouraged to think
for myself, and to make up my own mind. I was encouraged to read and learn more
and still more. I never went through a period where I hated myself, or thought I
was ugly, or stupid, or worthless, as so many girls do. For the first, I had my
mirror and my own eyes. For the second -- well, there were all those books I'd
read. Other people didn't read like that, or know all the things I'd learned from
those books, so I knew I was smart. For the third, I had the example of literary
heroines from Cinderella to Elizabeth Bennet, who weren't properly appreciated
until they fell in people with the wit to appreciate them.
Because of my reading, I knew there were people out
there who would like me; how could they not, when they'd written the heroines I so
identified with? I was never beautiful or popular, and didn't have a huge social
life in high school, but I was never all that unhappy about it, largely because I
spent so much of my time riding around in other people's heads -- everyone from
Meg Murray (in A Wrinkle in Time to Tish Sterling (in Norma Johnston's
The Keeping Days) to Eddi McAndry's (in Emma Bull's War For the
Oaks). I knew they were fictional, but I figured there had to be people out
there like that or there would be no authors able to imagine them.
Even now, I think I'm more confident in myself than many or most
women, largely because I've been so many other people in an almost literal sense.
It gives me perspective to be able to judge myself fairly instead of assuming I'm
inferior because I can see my own failings more clearly than other people's. It
doesn't mean everybody loves me, and I don't know that it makes me happier, but it
certainly makes life simpler.
So if you ever see me complaining about
my luck because I've lost a race or something, kick me, OK?
CLASS="mutter" TITLE="Don't think I haven't realized that the mere act of writing
this could cause the universe's sense of irony to kick in, causing me to be mugged
as I leave work today, resulting in injuries requiring hospitalization, leading to
the loss of my ability to type, which would get me laid off, the ensuing
depression from which could eventually drive Rudder away, leaving me alone,
jobless, and poor. I'm writing this blurb to forestall that, and incidentally to
test a cool idea I stole from Ravenblack at blog.ravenblack.net.">Knock wood.
Mousepoet said this,
and I think it's important:
"with any incident
two ways to react --
let it teach you or
let it haunt
inevitable piercing update: it doesn't hurt now, even when I touch it (which I'm
not supposed to do anyway, and mostly don't). It does hurt when I catch it on
something and the top ball gets yanked down. This happens at least once a day,
unfortunately. It happened in a fairly drastic (i.e. painful) fashion yesterday;
I'm not entirely sure of the details, but I think Rudder and I became a bit too
well omphalically aligned.
See the brilliant parody of Xena, "
href="http://public.logica.com/~stepneys/sf/filk/xena.htm">I Am the Very Model of
a Heroine Barbarian for the definition of omphalos. Heck, see it even if you
know what I meant to say -- it's a better world just knowing contains people who
can write stuff like that.
Possibly due to yesterday's incident, I
did see just a tiny bit of ooze today, for the first time. This is still less
trouble than I've had with any ear piercing, so I have hopes it will heal
uneventfully. It turned out my trouble rowing the first day was because that
particular boat isn't rigged right for me; with my feet as far in as they'll go,
the oar handles are still together when they touch my body, instead of several
inches apart as they should be. Not only was that painful at times, it's
inefficient, because I'm just getting to the most efficient part of the stroke
(blades perpendicular to the boat) when I have to pull the blades out of the
water. (Yes, it's true: not only are there innumerable complexities within the
single, ostensibly simple motion that is rowing, but there is another entire host
of complexities in the world of boat rigging.)
Rudder and I had more
discussion over the weekend on how to spend some tax refund money we've got laying
around, but are really no closer to deciding among the options(redo the pool; redo
the kitchen; buy another boat; get a new roof or A/C). There are so many factors
involved: how long will our current roof and heat pumps last? How long will we
stay in this house? If we get a new boat, will we be able to get storage space?
And so on, and so on.
We did decide to tweak our rowing schedules to
allow us each to use our single more often, which is why I was at the gym instead
of on the lake this morning. We'll see how well this works. The advantage to
rowing on Tuesdays and Thursdays is that the club and city don't have launches out
to roil the water on those days. Unfortunately, Coach DI just got one, so he may
be out on it to mar my pristine lake. I hope not.
been rereading Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse, and before that,
Linnets and Valerians. I cannot believe I had never even heard of Goudge
before this, my thirty-fifth year. (Rather, my thirty-sixth year; the year of
being 35.) I understand why I had never read Noel Streatfeild until recently;
those dreadful Shoes titles would never have grabbed my attention on a library
shelf. They give no hint of the worthy stories therein. But the Goudge books must
have just eluded me. Possibly they weren't in my childhood library at all, but I'd
hope for better things from a Philadelphia Regional Library with an entire story
dedicated to children's books.
At least I've found both authors now,
thanks to the discussion list I moderate (this sort of thing is one of its chief
glories). Grown people who avoid children's books entirely have dead parts in
their souls. Great children's books (and even merely good ones) and great literary
classics (the categories are not exclusive) have far more in common than great
literary classics and mediocre adult books. I believe with C.S. Lewis that "No
book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far
more) worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond." I think it's because good and
great children's books are more likely to deal with important and universal
questions head-on. Literary classics do too, but are more likely to cloak them in
layers of metaphor and symbolism. Simple soul that I am, I like to take my
In the car last week and while embroidering
yesterday, I listened to the first book of Jan Karon's Mitford trilogy, as read by
the author. The Mitford series is often recommended as "if you liked Miss Read's
Thrush Green or Fairacre series, you'll love..." Nope. Nope, nope. And I don't
think it's just that my Anglophilia responds better to Cotswold stone than Georgia
clay. (Or wherever.) The similarities are there, superficially; both authors write
cozy books set in cozy towns where nothing much happens. But the Read books
delineate place and characters much better, and when one person likes another it's
easy to see why. I had no idea why Father Tim would prefer Cynthia to Olivia,
except that the author said so, or why Miss Sadie would hoard money her whole life
then suddenly turn generous. The Karon books ooze religion, while the Read books
have it as the foundation of a society, quiet, unassuming, and unostentatious as
it supports everything else. The Thrush Green Rector's prayers are part of him,
while Father Tim's are for faith in a God who provides everything his petitioners
ask for. (And why would faith even be needed, if that were true?) And no one in
Mitford is ever the least bit crotchety -- even the jewel thief who hides out in
the church is given as festive and loving send-off as the FBI carts him off. It's
possibly the recording was abridged from the book, but since Karon herself read
it, she must have approved any deletions.
Karon's book seems to have
been written in a reaction to all those nasty gritty slice-of-life books out
there, the ones that leave a bad taste in your soul. But sugar syrup is no real
nourishment. Miss Read's books talk about a place and people the author loves, and
because of that, the place and the people are far more real. That's a diet a
reader can grow on.
Robert Goulet was much better than I expected as Emile Debec in South Pacific. You
could tell he was stopping short on some notes in order to save his voice for the
big moments, but when he needed it, it was there. Quite impressively there, in
fact. Also, I realized that the main reason I was having trouble envisioning him
in the role is that the man is just goofy looking. I hadn't been to a show in so
long I'd forgotten you can't see their faces anyhow, so that didn't matter. Rudder
complained that his body language was stiff, but that's probably attributable to
his being 69 years old. (Way too old for Nurse Nellie!) Rudder never says anything
good about musicals anyway -- he finds it too annoying and unrealistic when people
spontaneously burst into song at odd moments. I can't imagine why; I do that
around the house all the time. The woman playing Nellie Forbush was really playing
Mary Martin playing Nellie Forbush, but was fairly good anyhow. Her accent and
body language were as innocent small-town-hick as she's supposed to be. And the
choral numbers were far more impressive live, especially all those powerful male
voices in 'Nothing Like a Dame'.
One complaint: that theater, the
Gammage Auditorium on ASU campus, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and for all
his vision, the man had some problems with basic livability. There weren't nearly
enough ladies' rooms, and when you finally got in after waiting in a long line,
the stalls were dark and gloomy. Not quite sure what mood that's supposed
I meant to post piercing pics today, but will try to put
those plus some from the race, up tomorrow instead.
Morning: Worked the starting line of a scrimmage race AussieCoach set up. It was
supposed to be for novices, but somehow most of the city and club rowers ended up
Afternoon: For once I actually did something about seeing a
musical, and so we have tickets for South Pacific, which is one of my all time
favorites (I think Rogers and Hammerstein could beat the shit out of Andrew Lloyd
Webber and Stephen Sondheim, even with the cast of Stomp! thrown in.) I must admit
that I'm a little weirded out by the idea of Robert Goulet as Emile Debec, but I'm
willing to wait and see how it works.
Night: Dinner after the
musical, early to bed. *happy sigh*