August 30, 2002



A Jew is like cloth dyed in tea
Soaked and steeped until the essence
Will never leave her pores.
When you prick her,
She bleeds mama-loshen
In the backs of her ears
She hears the voices of old women
A hundred generations of them behind her
Brewing their tea and their talk, as old women do,
Their words, in Yiddish and still older tongues
Prickling the edges of her understanding.
It pigments her corneas, to color her vision.
She may choose what sort of a Jew to be
As she can choose what sort of a woman to be
But like her brown eyes,
No mask can change the essence
Of a people's ancient memories
That dance, for this daughter,
In her irrevocable soul.

Harold Kushner has had a lot of good things to say, things that made sense for me. One of the best is from his book, "To Life!". Paraphrasing from memory, "When you ask, 'What do Jews think about such-and-such a thing, the answer will alway be, 'Well, some think this, some think that, and some think something else entirely.' " This is how being Jewish is for me. I am sure it is different, and maybe a more vibrant thing, for Pigtails and DrunkTina, who are more observant Jews; different again for my mother, whose Judaism is also her social life, or for my friend S who I think identifies more with Israeli culture than the older Ashkenazi ways. And Judaism may hold a different flavor still for Egret, a quarter Jewish by blood but raised in another religion, or for Mechaieh who is not Jewish at all but for whom the teachings and language resonate deeply.

I'm being a bit presumptuous here, in describing other people's experiences in one line, so I ask pardon and hope they will let it slide by just for the sake of the argument.

It is coincidental that I started work on this yesterday, thinking about the coming High Holidays, Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur. Today I read Mechaieh's latest entry and was struck again by the difference in associations. For me, "Oleinu" invokes not the literal meaning of the prayer, but a chanted tune and the ending of a Shabbat service, with the procession out of the sanctuary and into a recption room for cakes and tea (on Friday evenings) or tiny cups of schapps (after Saturday morning services. And that brings back the voice of the rabbi with his odd careful accent, the memory of the time my brother got drunk on a dozen of those tiny cupfuls, memories of making small talk with my mother's friends. Then I begin remembering old dresses I wore, Hebrew school classmates I haven't seen in two decades, holidays, and the ensuing holiday family dinners, which of course reminds me of my grandparents, who are the key to a host of memories in themselves. Memories do chain like that, and we are, more than anything else, a people who remember. ETA, May 2, 2019: This poem used to say "Like her female chromosomes / no surgery can remove the essence". That passed without comment back in 2002 when I first wrote and shared these words. In 2019, I got called out for them; the world has changed - or rather, it hasn't, but our perceptions have, and our understandings of ourselves. XX chromosomes are not the determining factor of a female identity, so I have edited accordingly.
Posted by dichroic at 09:23 AM | Comments (2)

August 29, 2002

the body is leaden and the mind befuddled

Jeez. Drink one beer, stay up half an hour late, and everything goes to pot. I
couldn't do anything in the gym this morning -- slow on the erg, low on the
weights, even wimped out of some of the reps. Or maybe my body is just drained
from an intense workout yesterday. Yeah, that's it. Unfortunately ths would be
more convincing if yesterday's workout were actually hard enough to require
recuperation. Though I did sdo some full-pressure bits, which I do tend to feel
longer...for the same reason weight lifters don't exercise the same muscles

We're going camping for the Labor Day weekend, which should
be nice and unstressful, at the Airpark so we can participate in their annual
meeting and throw our vote behind changing the covenants to allow the use of more
stone and faux-stone, instead of requiring all-flammable-wood siding. Camping is
also a good cheap way to spend a weekend which is nice because September is car-
insurance month. One problem with buying your vehicles around the same time of
year is that the insurance payments all come due at the same time. Because the
Honda was cheap to lease and not cheap to insure, the insurance costs almost half
as much as the entire car payments each year.

I need to be better
with money anyway. I've been offered a promotion at work (well, sort of a
sideways-and-up move -- this is the work stuff I kept saying I was waiting for).
The catch is that I'd have to convert from being a contractor to being a real
employee, which translates to a pay cut of nearly 20%. This company has great
benefits, but I get decent medical coverage through Rudder anyway, so the only one
that means much to me is the three weeks of vacation I'd get. ANd of course,
there's more security as an employee. Company rules only allow contractors to
stay on for a max of 24 months (actually 18 with one allowable 6-month extension).
So if I want to stay on -- and I like it here -- I'd have to convert in a year and
a half anyway, and of course there's no guarantee that they'll be hiring then. I'd
get very good and useful training, and great experince if I took the new position,
but I'd get some of the same experience plus more in-depth technical knowledge if
I stay on in what I'm doing, though the latter is probably less transferable. And
the new job might be more flexible, as far as being able to transfer to another
site, say one nearer home. It's not a bad choice to have to make, because the
"pro" list for either option is long, but it is a tough one.

Oh, and
did I mention that the pay cut would leave me making $10K more in base salary
than in the job that laid me a year and a few weeks ago?

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

August 28, 2002

It's my face and I'll frown if I want to

I'm having a bit of a case of "my sport is harder than your sport". After this
morning's slightly short but intense interval workout (well after, what with the
necessary shower, dress, and driving activites) I decided coffee, though of the
wussy decaf variety, and sugar were required. As I schlepped my weary body down to
the little cooffee bar on the floor below, I passed two leads who were talking in
the hallway. They looked at me and said "Smile!"

I ^%*& hate when
people tell me to smile.

I told them, "It's my face, anyway!" though
I did smile as I said it (wouldn't have, but I like these people otherwise). The
woman pointed out, "But we have to look at it!" Point to her.

Then I
pulled out my ace in the hole. "If you had rowed before work this morning you
wouldn't be all that bouncy either." One said, "I ran this morning," and the
other, "I used the NordicTrack. I even got up at 5 to do it."

humph. I got up at four, but the point is rowing is harder than what they
did anyway. Unfortunately I can't really go off and explain that, for a variety
of reasons. First and foremost, I'd look like an idiot and a snob. Second, I don't
think I could run two miles if I tried. Third, cross country skiing (and thus the
NordicTrack) actually is one of the few things that burns as many calories as
rowing. And fourth, as anyone who's still reading will be thinking now, nobody
cares. But dammit, I still bet my workout was harder than theirs.

Sigh. The things I put up with for my sport.

In other
news, I have an errand to run at lunchtime and a 12:30, so this needs to be a
short entry. Bye!

Posted by dichroic at 11:54 AM

August 27, 2002

confuddling the cats

I think Rudder and I managed to thoroughly confuse the fuzzballs this morning. He
left the gym a bit before I did. I went off to the locker room as usual, showered,
started to dress .... and only then realized I'd forgotten a couple of small but
important items. One was especially important because I'd brought a lightweight
white sweater to wear to work. I was hoping to make due (read: go commando), but
when I tried on the top it was distressingly apparent that there was nothing under
it. (Yes, the locker room was a bit cool.) So I had to run back home to redress
the error, or rather re-dress myself. As I opened the door from the garage, the
older cat, who usually doesn't bother, was right there to check who I was. When I
got upstairs, I realized Rudder had been home to shower. I must have just missed
him. Usually, he does that at work, but will sometimes go home if he's got a bit
of extra time. So no wonder the fuzzballs looked confused; they're used to having
the place to themselves all day. They must have wondered why they had so much

Because he showers at work and has a locker there, Rudder
can keep an extra change of underwear and pair of shoes there for jus such an
emergency. Because gym lockers are not permanently assigned, I can't. But the
saddest part of all is that I've only just realized that yes, I could keep spare
lingerie in my gymbag -- after all, it doesn't take up much space -- or even in
the trunk of my car. On eof the regulars at the gym who does carry spares and who
is about my size offered to loan me a bra, but that just felt too weird. There are
some items you just can't share. (I think she may have been relieved when I turned
her down politely.)

The other sad thing is that when I started
writing this, I thought I've have a nice entry on cats, for once, instead of my
usual three B's (boats, books, bras). Clearly I'm in a rut.

Posted by dichroic at 12:26 PM

this is why

This is why Ashcroft's raids on the US Constitution bother me so. I grew up on
this stuff, and childhood impressions are strong.

Oyfn furl ligt dos kelbl,

Ligt gebundn mit a shtrik,

Hoykh in himl flit dos shvelbl,

Freyt zikh, dreyt zikh hin un krik.


Lakht der vint in korn,

Lakht un lakht un lakht,

Lakht er op a tog a gantsn

Mit a halber nakht.

Dona, dona, dona, dona...

Shrayt dos kelbl, zogt der poyer:

Ver zhe heyst dikh zayn a kalb?

Volst gekert tsu zayn a foygl,

Volst gekert tsu zayn a shvalb.


Bidne kelber tut men bindn

Un men shlept zey un men shekht,

Ver sÕhot fligl, flit aroyftsu,

Iz bay keynem nit keyn knekht.


And for those of you who don't speak Yiddish (well, all right, me, too -- I just
like the sound of the original):

On a wagon bound for market,

ThereÕs a calf with a mournful eye.

High above him thereÕs a swallow

Winging swiftly through the sky.


How the winds are laughing,

They laugh with all their might,

Laugh and laugh the whole day through,

And half the summerÕs night.

Dona, dona, dona, dona…

"Stop complaining," said the farmer,

"Who told you a calf to be,

Why donÕt you have wings to fly with,

Like the swallow so proud and free?"


Calves are easily bound and slaughtered,

Never knowing the reason why,

But whoever treasures freedom,

Like the swallow has learned to fly.


Posted by dichroic at 10:59 AM

August 26, 2002

nonconflicting emotions

You know those diaries that have the little face icons to say how the writer is
feeling at the moment? I have no idea how on earth I could summarize all
that in one little icon -- much less leave it there to symbolize my emotions for a
whole day. Just at the moment, I am happy, scared, thoughtful, annoyed, and

Happy: The past weekend lacked only a bit of socialization to
be successful by my standards, having comprised time spent with Rudder, some
exercise, and an outdoor activity. (And sex, of course.)

Because I do now have a bunch of stuff to look forward to this fall,
professionally and personally. And because href="">Batten is back!

Scared: Last
week I found out that Atty. Gen. Ashcroft hopes to set up href="">camps where he could
"order the indefinite incarceration of U.S. citizens and summarily strip them of
their constitutional rights and access to the courts by declaring them enemy
combatants." This morning I found out that the American Patriot Act (what wincing
irony!) already allows law enforcement officials to href="
act_congress_1">demand that librarians turn over a patron's library records
to see what books one of those suspected "enemy combatants" has checked out and
may be reading -- and the librarian may not even inform the patron that his/her
records have been subpoenaed. I am both pissed off and very frightened at what
seems to be happening in my country and am beginning to wonder Just how closely
Ashcroft has been studying Mein Kampf. And check href="">this out. Perhaps he's been
reading up on the KGB also?

Thoughtful: SWooP ended her latest diary
entry with this "And obsessions can be narrowing." Of course, it's easy to see how
that can apply to some obsessions -- see the paragraph above. But she was talking
about literary obsessions. Somehow, that phrase just struck me, and I'm still
thinking about its implications.

Annoyed: Just typical work stuff,
with people promising to get stuff to me by a certain date and not doing

Proud: Because I rowed 11,200m this morning, and wasn't even
wiped out afterward. And went off to a responsible job. Because I've been a "card-
carrying member of the ACLU" forever. And a bunch of other reasons too small to
talk about, but special to me, that make Dichroic someone I can like and respect
just at this moment.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

August 25, 2002

collecting my namesake

We spent today in Jerome, an old mining town north of here and enough higher that
walking around outside was tolerable, even in the middle of the day. They call it
a ghost town, but it's not really, since it's got a population of 500 or so.
Still, it had 15000 at its peak, so there are lots of old empty buildings - though
fewer than you'd expect. It's built into the side of Mingus Mountain, on top of
several faults that were aggravated by the mining activities, so old buildings
have a tendency to slide on down the montain. It's become a home for artists now,
with its main streets lined with galleries.

The Jerome State
Historical Park, in an old mining mogul's mansion, was definitely worth the $4
charged; the Gold King Mine and Museum as definitely not, unless you enjoy looking
at old machinery sitting out in the sun.

The galleries were much
better than I remember them from our last visit, with lots of cool glass,
metalwork, and pottery, and fewer boring paintings. I realize this may betray my
own philistinism, but I also suspect that a medium-good glassworker can make
something far more interesting and beautiful than a medium-good painter. On the
other hand, a painter who is more than medium-good can say far more in a painting
than any glassblower. Therefore, the sort of galleries Jerome has are more likely
to be interesting when they focus on glasswork and other arts of a similar nature,
though this is not necessarly true of museums that can get the really good stuff.
In the interests of decorating myself and my house without making my checkbook and
ugly thing, I restrained myself to two purchases; a pair of earrings and an egg-
shaped lump of glass -- a paperweight, I suppose. Naturally, both are of dichroic
glass. If I ever have scads of money to spend there, though, I may have to go back
to where I bought the latter, to invest in some truly spectacular kaleidoscopes.
(Including, naturally, some made with dichroic glass!)

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

August 24, 2002


Yet another quiet weekend here. We seem to have run out of steam. When we first
moved to this state, we went camping almost every other week in summer. Now,
though, we've seen and done almost everything in the state that we wanted to see
and do. Of course, things like hiking and mountain biking aren't the sor tof
things you'd only want to do once, but the other factor is that between jobs and
rowing, by the time the weekend rolls around we're just plain too tired to want to
pack up for camping.

Still, tomorrow we're planning to head out to a
mining town north of here that's become something of an artist's colony, and next
week we'll go camping on our property and attend the airpark's annual meeting.
September may be quiet, but in October and November, we have four trips planned so
far, so things will definitely be heating up. I'm sure there will be a day in
there where I'll be wishing for a quiet day like this.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

August 23, 2002

soundtrack to a workout

Coolth. Blessed, blessed, coolth.

(That's a quote, but I couldn't
give you the provenance. I'm thinking either Edward Eager's Magic by the
or one of Elizabeth Enright's Melendy books. Anyway.)

morning for the first time in a long time, the temperature was under 80F when I
got to rowing, and there was a nice breeze, just enough to feel good but not
enough to roughen the water. It wasn't really coolth, but it was the nearest
thing to it I've seen since getting back from Alaska. There were just enough
clouds to make the sunrise pretty, not enough to hold in heat. Not entirely
coincidentally, with the drop in temperature, a couple of old friends had come out
to watch me row. I've seen Luna on and off all summer, but today she was low,
full, and bright. I hadn't seen Orion since last spring; today was the first time
since then that sunrise was late enough to let me see stars while rowing. Orion
was gone by the time I'd rowed my first thousand meters, leaving only Venus and
another bright star visible, but Luna stayed around. Judging from how low and
bright she was today, she's beginning to think of harvest time -- only just
beginning, because she's still pure white.

Of course, the flip side
to the pleasant weather was that now I have no excuse for taking things lightly.
It took some force of mind, but I convinced myself to row my first 5000m piece of
the season. I rowed down to the east dam, about 3500 meters, as a warmup and then
went into the piece, at, I'd say, between 65-75% of full race pressure. On our
lake, 5000m is a bit less than a full lap; generally, I don't row more than one
length (half a lap) before stopping for a water break. Endurance, as regular
readers will have gathered, is not my strong point. But I did it, and the cooler
air made it possible and not intolerable.

Five thousand meters is a
long way, though: over 25 miinutes at the speed I was going. Though I enjoyed at
least some of it, I noticed that the tenor of my thoughts (not to mention my
rowing form) went distinctly downhill over the course of the workout. I usually
have a song in my head as I row, partly because I usually have a song in my head,
period, and partly because it helps keep the rhythm steady. When I started out in
the relatively-cool air, and noticed Orion, the song in my head was Gordon Bok's
setting of William Carlos William's href="">Peace on href="">Earth. (You can tell how
much I like that poem, since I've included its entirety in here twice.) As I got
started on the piece and upped the tempo, the song switched to Stan Roger's comic
song, Athens
(fortunately I hadn't then read the note at the bottom of the lyrics I
linked to there, saying that Athens Queen can also be sung to the tune of the
Gilligan's Island theme. I don't know what would have happened, but it couldn't
have been good.) As I started to really sweat, my mind urged me on with the chorus
from Come On Eileen. The part
where they sing "Come on, Eileen, taloora aye" about six times in a row works
particularly well with stroking a boat, and you get to grunt before each

When it got up toward 4K and I was having to be very
stern with myself to keep the pressure on, I was probably rowing a bit raggedly
and my soundtrack descended to the chorus of an old sort of proto-hip-hop thing
that went, "Put your mind on it, girl, come on you can get it, get it girl,
anytime. (Say what?) Tonight's mine. Huh!"
(Apologies to anyone old enough to
rememebr it and now have it stuck in their heads.) And after I finished and had to
row another couple thou to get back to the beach, my mind plumbed even further
depths, with the intro to the old TV show, Fame: You got big want
fame. Well, fame costs, and right here is where you start paying .... in
Not that I dream of fame (fortune, yes), but I was certainly paying in

Posted by dichroic at 10:26 AM

August 22, 2002

a mysterious woman

I am in Limbo. Not in any big dramatic sort of Purgatory, but a hundred tiny
simultaneous Limboes, waiting for this, needing that to happen before I can do the
other thing. It's too early to talk to him, too late to talk to her, and I forgot
to think about them, and oh yes, am I ready for that.

In other words, I'm a bit bored at the moment, even though I know it's just a lull
between two moments of crazy business.

And just because it amuses me to realize that this is as close as I ever get to
the sort of enigmatic entry some people write every day, here for your humming-
along pleasure are the lyrics to Christine Lavin's Mysterious Woman. (The
song dates back to the 1980s -- I think she had Suzanne Vega in mind when she
wrote it.)

Mysterious Woman

Words and Music by Christine Lavin

Copyright 1988, Flip-A-Jig/Rounder Music

I want to be a mysterious woman

I want to write mysterious songs

I want everyone to wonder

what is she thinking about?

existentialism? nihilism? wrong

I am thinking about

defrosting my refrigerator

but I could get into mysterious mood

watch me ask the bartender

for a drink he cannot make

watch me order mysterious food

food even Julia Child

cannot pronounce right

from cookbooks that time has forgot

then maybe I will read

Crime and Punishment for fun

then again, maybe not

I want to be a mysterious woman

tantalize you with my come-hither stare

maybe it will work a little better

if you pretend I'm not wearing underwear

If you pretend I was never a Girl Scout

and I never learned how to twirl baton


I feel a mysterious song coming on

I think I hear I scream

I think I hear ice cream

melting all over

the rock hard bread

which is stuck to

the chicken parts

long since dead

they're in a cold box

within a cold box

within a warm box

(which is my room)

there's a ceiling

there's a floor

there's a wall

there's a window

look at the moon

it's a marble, it's a button

it's a sequin, it's a polkadot

stiched into the velvet sky

the pocket of Sir Lancelot

who is riding on Pegasus

who is fighting with the Pleiades

who is fighting Cassiopeia

who is fighting with Hercules

who is fighting with Betelguex

who is fighting with the Milky Way

that is stuck to the Bird's Eye Peas

that is stuck to the ice cube tray

that is stuck to the chicken parts

that is stuck to the rock-hard bread

hey, what am I doing here? I should be home defrosting my refrigerator instead

But I want to be a mysterious woman

I hate being so easy to read

hey, bartender, give me a light yeah, a Bud light

and a plate of pommes frites

is all I need.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

August 21, 2002

the fine line until stuff happens

Yet another thing that really sucks is being stuck in a telecon at the time when
you normally go to lunch. Pfaugh.

Last night I was a Very Bad
influence on Rudder, and when he hinted at the possibility of skipping rowing this
morning, I toally jumped on the bandwagon. I'd actually really wanted to row but
couldn't because of an early meeting that meant I'd either have to cut it short or
stay home and erg instead, so I figured if I can't row, I'd just as soon sleep
late. And I was even able to persuade my psycho-rower husband to join me! (It's
his last week before starting to row with the club, and when he has other people
depending on him to show up he won't be able to just decide to take days off like
this. And ooh, it was niiiice. And I didn't even have to offer him the Usual Bribe

I suppose this means I really ought to row both tomorrow and
Friday. I think my calluses are up to it, and the weather has cooled down a
snitch, so maybe. (A snitch, in this context, would be like a titch, only less

I'm waiting to find out about some cool training I might get to
take at work, and yesterday I broke down and did a bit of binge-shopping at
Amazon, so I'm in waiting mode for that shipment also. (In Amazon's case, "waiting
mode" involves checking the UPS package tracking about every ten minutes.) So now
I'm torn between the fact that I Like anticipation, but I don't like waiting. It's
a fine line.

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

August 20, 2002

reply to Service

A Reply to Robert Service

Dedicated to Jo March

There are women born that don't fit in
But unlike their brothers wild,
They're not allowed to run away;
They're bred for home and child.
They're taught to stay within the bounds,
To keep a house and hearth
And raised to find a husband's love
The highest form of worth

Though work she may, even climb the rungs
It's steadiness she learns to prize
A job near home, a steady wage
A life well-organized.
And as she's taught, so does she live
And what she does, does well
Unlike her brothers of gypsy blood
Who'd sooner stay in hell.

For though she loves her family,
Though her career succeeds
The tamer joys do not suffice
To fill her deepest need.
She never shares her yearning soul,
Her friends don't understand
A different breed, content, complete
Preferring birds in hand.

Some days she gets the yen to bolt
Her feet plain itch to roam
Her spirit strains at manacles
Forged of love and home.
She'd like to take the rover's road,
To leave her hearth and kin
To 'range the field and rove the flood'
And find where she fits in.

But home's a leash and job's a chain
And Duty's call is loud
And so she stays to satisfy
The sedentary crowd.
But when she's got a minute free
She likes to close her eyes
And leaning back, about untrammeled
Freedom fantasize.

But it's never more than a minute
Til someone calls her name
And once again she has to play
Pretend-I'm-happy games.
And then she stops and wonders
What her daughters' dreams will be
And she adds a bit to a hoarded stash
To set a young rover ... free.

Posted by dichroic at 12:57 PM

August 19, 2002

I want

I want, I want, I want, I WANT ... only I don't know what it is I

It's not stuff I want; I sometimes buy stuff to fill the gap,
but the satisfaction of that fades quickly. (Though at least afterwards, I may
still be dissatisfied but I'm dissatisfied while playing with cool stuff.) Books
are the only exception, because books are not objects but windows.

don't want things to have, I want things to do. I want adventure, travel,
experience, things to do that I can be passionate about. Things that will reward
my pasion. I want to go and do and be and feel and try and care.

want to live big. I don't want to live inside a caul that binds me in and blinds
me to the world, even if that caul is called a cubicle, or a status quo, or an
outside expectation. I don't want every day to be the same and I don't want to be
comfortable in the sameness of my life. I want to be completely alve in the
minut, whether it's a minute with candles, bubblebaths, and being careful not to
drop my book in the water, or a minute of slow drugging kisses and warm skin, or a
minute on a hilltop with me and the biting wind and the stark glory of high

I want, I want. Veruca Salt in the Willy Wonka movie sang
about wanting the whole world. I want it too, only not to have, but to live.

Dum vivimus, vivamus!

Posted by dichroic at 03:46 PM

recommended reading

Recommended reading: first, the sensible ones.

  • href="">Bastion, to read about how a marriage is
    still an ongoing work (replete with the imperfections of a living organism) even
    after 60 (?) years.
  • href="">Thistledown, on how to classify
    prioritize life-sucking activities.
  • href="">AK, to read about how even the best of us fall
    down sometimes, on even the things that are most important to us.
    • Then it's on to someone who needs to work a bit more on her
      logic skills. Someone recently wrote to href="
      55/225kg.html">Ann Landers
      about the increasing prevalence of self-destructive
      behaviors among Americans: "As we descend further and further down the slippery
      slope of addictions (which include not only alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, but
      shopping, gambling, overeating, sexual obsessions, and more), we are becoming a
      nation so harmful to itself that terrorists need only sit back and watch us self-
      destruct. How can we be truly strong and healthy as a nation when we are comprised
      of individuals who are not strong and healthy?" Interesting opint, though I tend
      to think it's not entirely that simple an equation.

      Ann's answer
      included this: "People usually engage in self-destructive behaviors because they
      are trying to avoid dealing with unpleasant emotions or situations -- so they
      comfort themselves with substances or behaviors that when used to excess can be
      damaging." Valid so far, but that's where her logic falls short. That paragraph is
      crying out for further analysis. If, for the sake of argument, you assume Ann's
      right, and her correspondent is also, then those two propositions lead irrovocably
      to the conclusion that Americans are experiencing an epidemic of 'unpleasant
      emotions or situations'. I don't know. Maybe we're not -- maybe one or both of
      those premises is untrue. But if we are, then that's a problem worth some serious
      study and it might be more profitable to go to work on the root cause than to try
      to treat each manifestation of symptom individually, as we have been

      Sports report:

      I rowed 10,500 meters
      today, That's not quite 2 full laps so I'm still a weenie compared to my husband,
      who's been trying to row 4 laps once a week. Ick. I have no desire to do that,
      ever. The city program and the juniors were back out on the water today after
      their summer hiatuses (what's the correct plural of that?) so the boatyard was
      unpleasantly crowded. I've gotten spoiled lately, having to share the lake with
      just a few other scullers. If I don't watch it, I'll be slacking off again, or
      going to rowing on only two days. I'm going to tentatively plan to do the race in
      Newport, CA, this year, just to give myself a training objective.

      Slightly disappointing: when I went to check out href="">Mer's report that MSN
      is cataloging online diaries, with blurbs about each one, I found, regrettably,
      that it's true but that all Diaryland diaries are lumped together as "A community
      of writers who keep online diaries." Well, I suppose.

      Posted by dichroic at 11:21 AM

    August 18, 2002

    no, really, I jumped

    I didn't fall in , I jumped. Really, I swear.

    It seemed like
    the beter part of wisdom to practice tipping a boat over and getting back in now,
    in daylight, when the water is warm. In 12 years of rowing, I have never yet
    fallen in, but someday it will happen, probably at 5AM on a February morning when
    the air is about 35 degrees and the water's nearly as cold. At least while I'm
    worrying about hypothermia then, I won't also be worrying (as much) about the
    simple mechanics of getting back in the boat.

    Surprisingly they did
    turn out to be simpler than I had expected (having seen other people flop around
    while attempting to climb back in after a flip). I had Rudder coaching from the
    sidelines, for safety. The boat itself didn't flip over; apparently that's hard to
    do, what with 10' oars sticking out either side. My feet did slip out of the shoes
    easily, something I had been worried about. It's all too easy to visualize broken
    ankles, with me flopping about with my head in the water as the boat remains
    resolltely right side up.

    So: fall in, pop back up, grab an oar,
    attempt to grab the other oar. Wedge near oar on top of the boat, pop under, try
    to grab other oar. Tilt the boat the other way, watch formerly-wedged oar handle
    rise and float free, but mercifully it stays perpendicular to the boat. Grab near
    handle, reach up for far one, heave up and lay across the boat. Still hanging onto
    both oars, wiggle into sitting position. Look around to see if anyone is watching.
    No one is, so I don't have to yell, "Don't worry, I meant to do that!" Row in,
    hand oard to Rudder, sloch back up to boatyard in uni that is not nearly as quick-
    drying as youd think. Change in corner of boatyard, with creative use of towel to
    preserve modesty, having cleverly remembered to bring by a towel and dry clothes.
    Go to breakfast.

    Posted by dichroic at 11:18 AM

    August 16, 2002

    restful Saturday

    Ahhhh, sleeping late. Really late this time, all the way to nine or so. Errands
    today, including a waterproof box for the digital camera and new sunglasses for
    me, and steaks and wine for dinner. I took the waterproof case down 11 feet or so
    to the bottom of the proof (being for once intelligent enough to take the camera
    out *first*) and it passed with dry flying colors.

    Tomorrow, I plan
    to go fall in the lake. I want to practice getting back into a boat -- not the
    easiest thing when your boat is only a foot or so wide -- while it's warm and
    light out. If you don't hear from me by Monday, assume the lake water is even more
    toxic than I had thought. Maybe I'll let Rudder take the camera.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    watch out, Charlie Brown!




    href="">I'm Patty,
    which ambiguous dyke are you?
    Quiz by href="">Turi.

    Must have been the Gatorade question. Currently we have ... hold on least five different kinds in the house, and I mean five ways it comes
    packaged. I'm not even counting differnet flavors. I never really think of Patty
    as a granola-head, despite the Birkies. I, on the other hand, was once accused of
    having "granola" tattooed on my forehead, so I suppose it's appropriate. 'Course,
    I'm not a dyke (I would be, except that whole sleeping-with-women idea doesn't
    really do much for me), but Patty's really more attracted to Charlie Brown than
    Marcie, so it all fits. And I say this as something of an expert in the field,
    having at one point in my youth had the Peanuts oeuvre from 1950 to the 1970s damn
    near memorized.

    Not that this is relevant, but fuck, weekends are a goooood thing.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    rough day for the girls

    My breasts had a very rough day yesterday.

    First, of course, there
    was the erg workout, so they got all squished into a sports bra, but they're used
    to that, so it doesn't really count. And this was one of the slightly looser ones
    I can take off without surgery.

    Next, though, there was the
    mammogram. And yes, it hurt and all (they just don't go that flat, or sit
    at those angles, and I think one of my ribs might be bruised. One on each side,
    that is.), but I still think all those women who complain about how awful they are
    should just being whiny. I mean, these are the same women who get yearly Pap
    smears (one hopes) and in some cases, who have given birth. Mammograms hurt a bit,
    but compared to those things, they're just not that bad. Heck, it wasn't even as
    painful as rock climbing can be, and people do that for fun. Still, it's
    definitely a spinach thing: totally sucky but for my own good. (I actually like
    against spinach raw or slightly stir-fried, but when I was growing up, Mom used to
    served frozen creamed spinach, so I still think of it as the epitome of really-

    After the usual long day of work, there was
    the Seven Nations/Great Big Sea concert. (Young Dubliners were playing too, but
    it was around 11 by the time the first two bands were done, and we both had
    morning meetings.) If I am ever lucky enough to go see GBS again, someoe, please,
    remind me to wear a bra. I hadn't expect there to be quite so much pogoing
    involved. Some of it was because the very nice but very tall people who had stood
    behind us in line moved in front of us. (There were tables in back but the front
    2/3 of the room was empty for people to stand.) Seemed like every time I'd move to
    see the stage one of them would step in front of me. Some of the jumping, though,
    was just in response to the music -- me and lots of other people.. GBS is even
    better live then recorded.

    The three bands (Young Dubliners, Seven
    Nations, Great Big Sea) are touring together, and apparently switch spots as they
    travel around. Each band played for an hour or so. YD are from LA, so that's
    probably why they were last; evidently they were expected to be the best-known
    here. From the sound of the audience, though, most of them had come to see GBS. I
    was far from the only person there who knew all their songs. I think the next
    largest contingent were affiliated with the AZ Irish Music group and just come out
    to hear anything vaguely Celtic.

    Seven Nations played first. The
    band wasn't bad, but their sound mixing sucked. It was sometimes difficult to get
    a sense of their melodies or understand the lyrics. The best part was when the
    fiddler had a break where he wasn't playing in a song and started to dance. I
    slipped up to the front so I could see whether he was clogging or just goofing
    around (I couldn't see his legs from where I'd been standing) and he was clogging
    all right. I've never seen anyone's legs move so fast. The band consisted of
    drums, guitar, bass, fiddle, and bagpipes; their songs were modern ones with only
    one instrumental traditional jig, but most of their songs incorporated wild reels,
    played just on the feathered edge of control, moving in and out of harmonies, with
    throbbing drum beats I could feel in my chest. I'd have to hear them with better
    sound quality to tell if I like the band but I did love the wild taste to their

    After that, GBS came out. They played songs from all of their
    recordings (at least, all of those releaseed in the US), and did do both originals
    and trad music -- I had been afraid they'd skip the traditional songs in this
    setting, since the other two bands don't seem to do much of it, but they did a
    resonant a capella version of General Taylor is Dead and Gone that even
    Rudder (who went more to keep me company than because he lies this stuff) said was
    far better than the recorded version. They also did Lukey's Boat and
    finished up with Mari Mac, which really is sung that fast. Amazing. The
    only song they skipped that I'd have liked to hear was Boston to St.

    My breasts were a little sore afterward, though, from their
    traumatic day. While we were waiting to get into the show, I laughed at a couple
    girls running by, with arms crossed to support their large chests. Rudder told me
    it wasn't all that funny but I don't think he understood how much I was laughing
    with, not at, them. Anyway, they were laughing too -- they knew exactly how funny
    they looked. It's underwires today for me.

    Posted by dichroic at 10:59 AM

    August 15, 2002

    all about

    I have to go get a mammogram this morning, my first baseline one. Blech. But I get
    to go see Great Big Sea tonight, along with the Young Dubliners and Seven Nations.
    Yay! (Actually, the billing is YD, with SN and GBS, but it's GBS whose music I
    know and for which I bought the tickets.

    There were two
    entries I wanted to write today, but the other one will be a lot harder to put
    together so I'll do that later. Meanwhile, here are the answers to href="">How Well Do You Know Dichroic?. I doubt
    there's anyone left who hasn't taken it and wants do, but if you haven't and you
    do, don't read the following. I set up the quiz so that some questions have
    partial credit.

    1. What was my underaduate degree

    • Electrical engineering (0 points)
    • linguistics
      (3 points)
    • mechanical engineering (10
    • folklore (3 points)
    • computer science (2

    I majored in Mechanical Engineering as an undergrad. I
    gave partial credit for folklore, because I took serveral classes in it, partial
    for linguistics, in which I actually once considered getting an MA< and partial
    for computer science, because that's what I do for a living.

    2. Where did I get my

    • Texas A&M (-10 points)
    • Penn State (0
    • University of Houston (10 points)
    • ASU (1
    • Penn (2 points)

    Actually, technically it
    was the University of Houston-Clear Lake, but I figured UH was close enough.
    Partial credit for Penn, my "real" alma mater, where I got my BS, and for ASU
    where I took my linguistics classes.

    3. How
    many years have I been rowing?

    • 4 (0 points)
    • 5 (0
    • 10 (0 points)
    • 12 (10
    • 15 (0 points)

    No one got this right, not
    even Rudder -- pretty silly for the guy who talked me into taking my first rowing
    class, back in 1990. I just counted continuous time since I started, not
    subtracting the first few years after we moved here, when there wasn't a lake to
    row in. (I cheated a little and told Rudder that, so he has no excuse.)

    4. Which of the following have I not

    • flown a plane (0 points)
    • jumped out of a
      plane (0 points)
    • bungie jumped (0 points)
    • hang
      glided (5 points)
    • paraglided (10

    Paraglided (Like hang gliding but with a parafoil.)
    Partial credit for hang gliding because I only did it once, and that was

    5. Which of the following have I not

    • climbed a 5.10 rock face (0 points)
    • run
      2 miles (10 points)
    • wind surfed at the Columbia River Gorge (0
    • scuba dived at the Great Barrier Re (0 points)
    • Parasailed over Negril Bay (0 points)

    I have
    never in my life run more than a mile. I don't do distance.

    6. How many boats do Rudder and I currently

    • 1 (0 points)
    • 2 (0 points)

    • 3 (5 points)
    • 4 (10 points)
    • 5 (0

    Four -- the two new singles, the double he and T2 own,
    and the Julien single hanging from the roof of our back porch, not currently

    7. How many piercings have I had

    • 2 (0 points)
    • 3 (5 points)
    • 4 (10 points)
    • 6 (8 points)
    • None of
      the above (0 points)

    This one's a little tricky, which is why
    the high partial credit. I have four piercings currently open: both earlobes and
    my navel. I also had an ear cartilage piercing, which I've allowed to close, so I
    counted four as the right answer. However, you could argue for six, because when I
    was about 10 and first had my ears pierced, one got infected and I had to let them
    close and get them redone. I figured, though, that that's not something anyone
    would know from reading my diary.

    8. Which city
    have I not visited?


  • Anchorage (0 points)
  • Sydney (0
  • London (0 points)
  • Taipei (10 points)
  • Seoul (0 points)
  • Taipei, though Rudder's been
    there a few times on business. Alaska and Korea this year, Europe in 1996,
    Australia and New Zealand in 1998.

    9. How many
    years have Rudder and I been married?

    • 3 (0
    • 5 (0 points)
    • 6 (0 points)

    • 9 (10 points)
    • 12 (6 points)

    years. Lucky for him, Rudder got this right. We've lived together for twelve,

    10. In which time zone have I lived

    • Eastern (10 points)
    • Central (3
    • Mountain (1 points)
    • Pacific (0

    22 years in Philadelphia, 7 in Houston, nearly 7 in
    Phoenix, 0 west of that.

    And now you know all about Dichroic.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    talkin' Ashcroft blues

    "But she's only as rich as the poorest of the poor,
    Only as free as a padlocked prison door,
    Only as strong as our love for this land,
    Only as tall as we stand...

    Here is a land full of power and glory,
    Beauty that words cannot recall
    Her power shall rest on the strength of her freedom,
    Her glory shall rest on us all."
    by Phil Ochs

    Should be our national freaking anthem.

    Talkin' Ashcroft Blues

    I ain't free if you ain't free,
    And you ain't free if she ain't free,
    We'll all be free, equally,
    Or we ain't free at all.

    My friend out in Australia wrote to me,
    Said, I ain't gonna visit you no more.
    She said, "it's not safe out there in the land of the so-called free,
    And I'm not goin' there while you're at war."

    I said, "Oh, that. No need to worry. We got the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, INS, the Border Patrol, the Coast Guard, and some new groups that don't even have names yet watchin' for terrorists. You're prob'ly safer here than you are at home!"

    She said, "It's not the terrorists that have me in a stew,
    There's worse than that worries me.
    It's those held on suspicion that you don't see on the news
    When they lock the door and throw away the key.

    I laughed. "But you're Australian, and they won't take you away,
    They only do that when they have good cause.
    It's not the KGB here -- this is still the USA,
    And you'll be safe, protected by our laws."

    No search and seizure. Habeas Corpus. The Bill of Rights!

    She said, "Oh yeah? How can you tell?
    They've got no checks and balances at all.
    They're trying foreign nationals and locking them in cells
    No bail, defense, or media on call."

    So here I am now wondering just what the truth might be
    And if there's any way we can be sure
    We only lock up bad guys, and leave the good ones free
    And still welcome freedom-lovers to our shores.

    Meanwhile where do I get a ticket to Australia?
    copyright dichroic

    Blame Natalie, who sent me a copy of Woody Guthrie's autobiography, and Ducks and Eiluned, who do their freedom fighting with words.
    Posted by dichroic at 12:38 PM

    August 14, 2002

    and about time, too

    Here are two very different poems. The first one just left my head this minute, based on something I saw yesterday morning.


    Something's going to change.
    The birds know
    I saw them at sunrise
    Flocking in patterns
    Three, six, a dozen.

    There's no sign of fall on the land here
    So I can't tell if that's the change they see
    Or if it's something else; just weather
    Or a scent blowing in from somewhere else
    Or maybe there's no change at all
    And it was just a good morning to flock together.

    Every morning is different from every other, though,
    Like the birds, my own body reacts differently to each.
    Some are for sleeping, some are for bounding out of bed
    Some, like the birds', are for flocking together.

    This is the first one I ever wrote that I thought was good enough to share, and the only one I've read in public. I can't believe I've never posted it here before. It's got a few weaknesses as a poem, because it's really meant to be a song, to the tune of Bill Morrissey's Birches. Morrissey's lyrics struck me as so sad that I wanted a happier ending, so I wrote one. This is also abolutely autobiographical. Minor things have changed since (Rudder reads more and watches TV less, and I have a pilot's license too) but not any of the major things.


    He didn't like her music,
    They didn't like the same books,
    In fact, he didn't much like to read at all,
    While she was always curled in some library nook.
    And he liked watching TV,
    While she found it a bore.
    He was tall and calm,
    She was short and sharp,
    They were different to the very core.

    Then one day without warning, in the middle of a fight,
    She asked why they stayed together,
    When he was so far from her Mr. Right.
    The answer came back swiftly,
    As if he'd thought on it awhile,
    So perfect that it floored her.
    Anger ended, she began to smile.
    He said, "It's cause we give each other
    Room to be who we are."
    Then he left to fly his airplane.
    She kept on playing her guitar.

    Posted by dichroic at 02:22 PM

    read hair dreams

    Work's going full blast and my List's getting a bit testy again. It's amazing how
    irritated people could avoid getting if they'd just read things before
    responding to them -- and not just on the list. Yet another Rule for Happy Living,
    brought to you by Dichroic.

    On a happier, if also stressful, note, I
    have an appointment with Cool Salon Guy this afternoon. That means this is the
    Moment of Decision: am I really going to let my hair grow out, or am I going to
    get it cut short again? I am still leaning toward the former; longer hair behaves
    so much better when you've just woken up and haven't showered. At least, if it
    doesn't you can tie it back. Very short hair, though, has an avant-garde air I
    like -- don't we all like to think of ourselves as rebels, no matter how great the
    evidence to the contrary? (And that's a whole entry, but one for another day.)
    Also, it sets off my eyes. Unfortunately, that also means it sets off the lines
    around them. Later note: I think I know what I want: the hairstyle Asia Argento
    had in xXx. Unfortunately, it will be a while before my hair is that long, and it
    just doesn't do that anyway -- too curly. In need of a plan

    Whatever I decide to do, at least I know I'll enjoy talking to
    Cool Salon Guy, as always. Even if I don't post the line-by-line conversations
    like Weetabix, everyone's pick for
    most humorous breakfast food.

    Mentioning Weetabix reminds me that I
    had a dream the night before last I wanted to post here. Unfortunately, I didn't
    note it down soon enough, and I've now forgotten it. I know SWWooP was in it, and
    I think Natalie was too -- she was a
    little vaguer, which makes sense since we haven't met IRL. And then there were a
    bunch of people I know in the flesh, but I just can't remember what we were all
    doing. Drat.

    Posted by dichroic at 12:25 PM

    August 13, 2002

    the usual scattering of topics

    Q. What sucks worse than having a friend die young, unexpectedly? A. Getting in a
    major car wreck on the way home from his wake. Go check out href="">Batten's page for the full news, kindly
    posted by her sister, and join me in sending good thoughts and wishes her way.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    news about Batten

    Q. What sucks worse than having a friend die young, unexpectedly? A. Getting in a
    major car wreck on the way home from his wake. Go check out href="">Batten's page for the full news, kindly
    posted by her sister, and join me in sending good thoughts and wishes her way.

    Posted by dichroic at 09:21 AM

    August 12, 2002

    putting it to the test

    If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would I? Well, yeah, probably. I'm a sucker
    for peer pressure in some ways.

    So anyway, SWooP talked me into
    putting up one of those tests on "How well do you know Dichroic?", because
    everyone else is href="">doing href="">it. And also because it was kind of fun to
    put the quiz together -- I tried to pick questions that someone who's been reading
    here a while would be able to answer.

    On the other hand, I'm a little
    reluctant to post it, because I'm not quite sure anyone will want to take it.
    Still, it's kind of fun to try to get in someone's mind enough to figure out when
    they're faking. So if you do wnat to take the quiz, href="">here it is. And if you score low, I
    promise not to make fun of you -- speaking as a woman who's scored 40% on every
    one of these "how well do you know xxx" tests she's taken so far.

    Posted by dichroic at 02:20 PM

    of inept cutting and Celtic rock

    A stranger looking at my forearms would conclude that I am a) suicidal and b)
    inept. Actually, a more accurate description would be c) more averse to
    overheating than to abrasions. When we went to up to the property on Saturday to
    relax and clear our more of the (fire-hazard) low growth, Rudder wore jeans and
    boots, while I wore shorts and sndals. (This is why he's always the one to do the
    hoedowns/tribal dances to crush down brush in the truck bed.) Not that more leg
    and foot protection would have helped my arms but I've got matching cuts just
    below my butt, from inadvisedly sitting on brush and low branches while trying to
    maneuver a saw in some awkward areas. It's symptomatic of my general attitude
    anyway -- when I'm going to be getting hot and sweaty I'd always rather wear less
    clothing and let my skin take its chances. After all, it heals, and I don't seem
    to scar easily. This is why you can generally tell on Monday how lively a weekend
    I've had. I'm usually more or less cross-hatched after a rock climbing weekend.

    This is an eventful week; I had an interview first thing this morning for
    selection for an internal position that would get me some intersting training.
    It's a follow-up from the one last Wednesday. The woman who href="">saw me spit wasn't there
    this time, but called in toward the end. (One other higher-up who was supposed to
    be there also didn't make it -- I don't know if that's a sign they aren't
    impressed with me, or just a sign of busy schedules. I prefer to belive the
    latter, at least for now.) On Wednesday, I have a hair cut acheduled, and on
    Thursday a baseline mammogram (just because I'm 35) first thing in the morning and
    then a Great Big Sea concert that night. It turns out they're not alone; the show
    is actually billed as "the Young Dubliners with Seven Nations and Great Big Sea. I
    hope that "with" means GBS is playing more than just a short opening set, though
    it would be nice if they were on first. This show starts just around the time
    we're usually in bed, turning off the lights. (Rowers are generally not among the
    great party animals of the day. Not past college, anyhow.) I expect I'll like the
    other two bands, anyhow. A quick look at the web says they have the same sort of
    kick-ass Celtic folk/rock fusion I like so much in GBS and Brother.

    Convention has a lot to answer for ... thank goodness. Lots of people have done it
    since (the bands named above, for example), and lots have done it well, but
    Fairport did it first. I'd still like to hear Richard Thompson perform live. Most
    of his songs have a harder-edge these days, but you just have to hear the guitar
    line and ballad story of 1952 Vincent Black Lightning to know where he
    comes from.

    Said James, "In my opinion there is nothing in this world

    Beats a '52 Vincent and a red-headed girl.
    Your Nortons and Grieveses and
    Indians won't do,
    They don't have a soul like the Vincent '52."

    And he
    reached for her hand and he slipped her the keys,
    Said "I've got no further use
    for these.
    I see angels and aerials in leather and chrome
    Coming to my
    bedside to carry me home."
    And he gave her one last kiss and died,
    And he
    gave her his Vincent to ride.

    Posted by dichroic at 10:38 AM

    August 11, 2002


    Yeah, VIn Diesel's kind of hot. At least some of the time. We really liked his
    movie, mostly because the special effects are dope (Diesel's word). And though
    it's not the sort of thing you go see for the plot, at least it doesn't have the
    sort of plot holes and logic gaps you could drive a small submarine through, like
    90% of action movies built on the same lines. Also, unlike James Bond, Diesel's
    character actually has a reason for knowing how to do all the stuff he can do. And
    I kind of liked it that he kept having to rescued by a girl, and sometimes by his
    boss. And finally, though I wished he'd used a rope in the rock climbing scene,
    neither it nor any of the other stunts had the physical impossibility of the
    climbing scene in Mission Impossible. At least, not that I could spot, and I've
    done most of those things, at least once, at last in a weenie kind of

    But yesterday's href="">question on hotness still
    remains, and I really want to know your opinion. Speak to me!

    Posted by dichroic at 06:48 PM

    August 10, 2002

    an analysis of hot-itude

    Spent another nice day up north, breathing clean air and cutting off low-hanging
    branches, with the result that my arms and legs appear to have had close
    encounters with a briar patch. Rudder asks me to relay that he does not
    perform hoedowns in the truck bed, to crush down a load of brush and make room for
    more, as Mechaieh once
    , but rather something more in the nature of an Indian tribal dance.
    (What the hell, he's got ancestors who performed both kinds of dances, though
    probably more hoedown-types than tribal-types in the pedigree.) However, he didn't
    take it kindly when I started chanting "Hey-ya, hey-ya-yo" as he stomped.
    Something about what the neighbors would think.

    On the way back, we
    were discussing going out tomorrow to see XXX, and I said that I hadn't decided
    yet if Vin Diesel is hot ot icky -- he sort of straddles the line. That led to a
    discussion of the meaning of the word "hot"; Rudder claimed it denoted strictly
    physical attractiveness, while I maintained it's a measure of fuckability, which
    is not entirely based on appearance. We debated if Sean Connery and Harrison Ford
    could be called hot, since at this point in their careers, their appeal is
    certainly not all physical. (Actually, Connery's a bit aged for my taste, though
    his character in that recent movie where he played a master cat burglar was
    definitely beddable.) So, readers, if any of you there are, what do you think? If
    hotness purely a visual physical thing, or does it encompass other things like
    pheromones and maybe even personality?

    I wouldn't be surprised if
    this one splits across gender lines.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    August 09, 2002

    girls who spit

    If I haven't mentioned it already, on Wednesday I had an internal interview. If I
    get selected, I'd be trained to be a local lead in a big company-wide program. I'd
    be working on it anyway, but if I get this I'll have better training and
    resources, and maybe be groomed a little for future leadership roles. (Why does
    that sounds so icky written out like that?) I think it went well, because they
    scheduled me for another interview first thing Monday morning (eek), this time
    with even bigger wigs including a VP (eek again). Anyway.

    morning I got to work, fumbled in my backpack, and failed to find my badge. I
    happened to get here early this morning, about 7:05. I couldn't get to the North
    building, where I work, in my regular door so I walked around to the nearest
    lobby, only to find a sign saying it would open at 7:30. Next I walked west and
    then south all the way around the buiding, and the next building, past several
    other lobbies whose doors opened only to those armed with the magnetic-encoded
    badges. I thought I would be able to get in at a lobby near the the south-west
    corner of the complex, where I had been sent the day I first started this job.
    Wrong again; that lobby isn't opened until 7:45. By that time, I probably could
    have walked back and gotten to the North lobby just as it opened, but not thinking
    that creatively, I buttonholed a passing stranger, explained that it was my first
    time forgetting a badge, and asked where to go. He directed me to the guard shack
    on the south side of the building. I walked around there, getting hot by then
    (they're very large buildings) and I had been tired before I started the
    trek, from my gym workout. By now I was going through a relatively empty parking
    area, away from most of the people coming to work.

    About then, I had
    another bout of the cough I'm not quite over. Afterward, I, well, I spit ... and
    just then, I saw one of the people I had interviewed with, the one whom I suspect
    will have most influence on that decision. She waved and smiled and called over to
    me, so I'm sure it was her. She was 30 feet away or so and she was on the opposite
    side, so I'm hoping she didn't see. I feel so uncouth. ANd I was trying so hard
    not to snorfle during the interview too.

    By the time I got the
    temp badge and got to my desk it was about 7:35. I figure I had walked a mile or
    more. And of course, an hour later I was looking for something else in my backpack
    and found what was was apparently the one pocket I had missed looking in before,
    completely with badge. Dammit.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    August 08, 2002

    the Quest

    Speaking of food, I was starving by lunchtime today, which makes sense
    since I probably burned more calories this morning than I had in two weeks. Aside
    form the cough and a residual hoarseness, I think I'm officially Better. (Q.
    Better than what? A. Never you mind, missy.)

    You know what sucks?
    What sucks is that, though E.Nesbit's The Treasure-Seekers and its sequel,
    The Wouldbegoods are easily available, the third book in the series, The
    New Treasure-Seekers
    is neither in print nor available online. There are
    several copies listed on Bookfinder, but that
    seems hardly sporting, the Great Book Hunt that is my life. (Coming across a find
    in a used bookshop is a thrill; looking on out on the Internet seems too

    On the other hand, that sort of thinking once lost me a copy
    of Polly Learns to Fly, part of Lillian Elizabeth Roy's Polly of Pebbly Pit
    series, circe 1921. For one brief moment, Bookfinder admitted its existence, in a
    solitary copy. Neither Amazon nor Powell's lists it even as Out of Print. Not only
    do I like the series and own some other volumes, but I'd absolutely love to have a
    book about a girl learning to fly in the 1920s for my flying shelf and as a
    companion to Betty Cavanna's Girls Can Dream, Too! in which a high school
    girls wins a contest and gets flying lessons in the late 1940s. Still, it's
    pleasant to have a quest. Someday a copy will turn up, and in the meantime I have
    that as an excuse (as if!) for plundering used book stores.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    growing up Philadelphian

    This is for Tygerchild, for
    mentioning The Al Alberts show and giving me flashbacks. And maybe a bit for href="">Doug, whose remembrances of the Denver of
    70 years ago are fascinating for those of us who remember only half

    So, Fluffyans, all together now: "Send your pictures to dear
    old Captian Noah, send today, send right away...." Or to misquote another of the
    Captain's songs, for those who remember when the Rocky Horror Picture Show was
    screened every Saturday at the TLA, "Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and
    orange and blue, I can make a monster, make a monster, and I can f*** him too."

    Soft pretzels. I miss soft pretzels! They were only $.25 (you
    can still get three for a dollar) and were real soft pretzels, not
    prefrozen and none of this pizza dough crap they're selling at malls these days.
    And water ice (pronounced wooderice), which is fine-shaved (not crushed) Italian
    ice you eat from a paper cone. You could buy either, as well as hot dogs, sodas
    and chips, at sidewalk carts all over town. In Center City and University City,
    you can buy almost any other kind of food, too -- Chinese, sandwiches, bowls of
    fresh melon and berries. in the late 80s, some of the best Mexican food in town
    was from a little cart on 36th and Spruce.

    My family's been in Philly
    for three generations. Jewish neighborhoods were in South Philly, where my great-
    grandfather owned a candy shop (wish I could still collect rent on that!) and
    Southwest Philly (where my grandmother grew up and was thereby a social step up),
    then moved to West Philly when my parents were kids, and then into the Northeast.
    Mom remembers when it was all farms after you got off the El at Bridge Pratt --
    they'd go out to visit the cemetaries. At least they could take a bus -- in my
    grandfather's young days they'd get off the train and walk miles across fields to
    visit family graves. Now people my age are either still in the Northeast, which is
    a bit more diverse and was on a downhill slide but seems to be recovering, or out
    to the 'burbs.

    I can remember getting milk delivered every day, and
    the vegetable an who came by once a week, and the Charles Chips trucks that
    delivered big cans of pretzels or, for a treat, potato chips. In the evenings, we
    used to have Good Humor trucks bringing ice cream, then later those were replaced
    by custard (what Dairy Queen calls "soft-serve ice cream") trucks that also sold
    all sorts of candy. My mother remembers when ice was delivered door to door. My
    grandmother remembered when she was twelve and the landlord installed indoor
    plumbing -- big excitement. (An entire block of row houses with outhouses sounds
    pretty stinky to me!)

    Roosevelt Mall, 3 blocks from my parenst is
    entirely outdoors. There have been indoor malls in the are for a long time
    (including Neshaminy Falls, built on the site where Chistopher Morley wrote of the
    falls themselves, and canoeing in the creek and visiting an amusement park there,
    just after WWI) but Roosevelt was "the Mall" to us and it was a long time before I
    realized most people mean a giant building when they talk about going to the mall.
    Actually, in Philly, they pronounce it more like "gaowin' to the moo-

    When I was little there was an amusement park on Roosevelt
    Boulevard, with a boat ride for little kids, and ferris wheel and the Salt Shaker
    for bigger ones. When I got older they build Six Flags Great Adventure in New
    Jersey and we'd get to go there every year or two. There was always at least one
    trip down the shore in summer, usually with my grandparents. My grandmother never
    let me get more than ankle-deep in the ocean. I was astounded when I visited my
    uncle in New York (age 8) and he took me to the beach and I learned you could
    actually swim in the ocean, just like in a pool.

    brick everywhere, even on the sidewalks in the old part of town. Rowhouses in the
    Old City dating from the 1700s and even the 1600s, rowhouses in the Northeast from
    the late 1940s, products of the postwar housing boom. On summer evenings, kids
    from about first grade up to 6th or 7th would all play running games out front,
    games like Doors and Manhunt which were variants of Tag adapted for rowhouses. Or
    the younger ones (I always think of myself as a younger one, maybe because fewer
    of us played in big groups by the time I got older) played Mother May I or Red
    Light Green Light. The adults all still sit out oon the steps and talk to the
    neighbors on summer nights, and the kids still run around chasing fireflies.

    The shore is its own whole entry, Soft pretzels are a whole
    entry. Rowhouses, fireflies, local TV, water ice, University City vs. the
    Northeast ... easy to write a page on each. And don't get me started on the
    Philadelphia accents. But I think the gestalt of my memories is in that last
    paragraph: red brick and hanging out with neighbors and summer nights back when
    the only thing summer meant was freedom.

    I miss fireflies. Kipling
    wrote about the changes in Philly from Revoluntionary War days to his time, as
    well as things unchanged: "And the fireflies in the corn make night amazing".
    There are still fields and fields of corn as soon as you get outside the city, and
    at least by the late 1980s when I was there, the fireflies on a June night were
    still amazing. I'm sure they still are.

    Posted by dichroic at 03:04 PM

    Encounter with aliens

    Oh, THIS is why I row! I won't say it was cool today, but it was finally,
    gloriously tolerable. (Only Arizona heat can make that combination of words make
    sense.) And while I still had to stop occasionally for the periodic cough-hack-
    blow session, I was finally able to put a bit of power into it. My body works
    again -- yay!!

    I did noticed I was tired and losing energy after the
    first lap so I just did half of a second one. Wouldn't want to push things -- and
    it's still the farthest I've rowed in about two weeks,

    Then on to get
    gas, which I did do in sports bra and spandex shorts because I was too hot to be
    able to face putting a shirt on and like href="">Mechaieh, I'll all about
    comfort, and then it was on to the gym to shower. My routine involves soaking my
    navel piercing first, while I get undressed (which involves some no doubt highly
    comical snuggling up to the locker to prop the cup held to my stomach against the
    locker door so I can use both hands to remove the sports bra. I floss my teeth at
    night the same way.) Whie I was preparing my salt water soak, I overheard two
    women whose immense collection of personal care items took up most of the space by
    the sinks -- I'm always astounded at how many products are necesary to prepare
    some people to go out in public. They were discussing the diet one was on. Here's
    a rough transcript:

    Dieting chick: I've actually gotten to the point
    where food is something I have to do, you know?

    Sympathetic chick: Yeah I
    know what you mean -- just calories you have to eat.

    Dieting Chick: Yeah,
    just fuel, not something, like, pleasurable. So that's

    (Dichroic thinks: No, it's not!!! I've felt like that too,
    lately, but only because I've been sick.)

    Dieting Chick: The snack I really
    look forward to is the afternoon one -- I have yogurt mixed with cottage

    Sypathetic Chick: Oh yeah, that's good.

    (Dichroic, who doesn't
    like cottage cheese, thinks: No, it's not!!!)

    Dieting Chick: Those
    protein bars taste like ass.

    Dichroic, trying to avoid the visuals of that
    last statement, can't resist jumping in: Luna bars aren't bad, especially the Chai
    Tea flavor.

    Dieting Chick and Sympathetic Chick, in harmony: But they
    have so much sugar!

    Dichroic: Well, isn't that why you work out, so
    you can eat what you like?

    Both Chicks, staring at Dichroic like
    she's from another planet: Uh, no.

    At that point, I had my saltwater
    mixed, and I walked away, realizing they were clearly another species and I'm no
    Jane Goodall. But really ... isn't that (at least part of) why you work

    I understand the idea of cutting down on food temporarily in
    order to lose weight faster, but I still suspect eating normal food but less of it
    is easier to maintain in the long run. And even Slimfast markets its probduct by
    claiming it tastes good. (I'll never know. It reminds me too much of the Ensure
    they kept making my grandmother eat in the nursing home, when she was dying.)
    Emphasizing raw veggies and yogurt makes sense fot nutritional as well as caloric
    reasons, but those things taste good. Food should be a pleasure. There may be
    times when it's better to indulge moderately, just as you don't (well, I don't) go
    around having sex with everyone you meet. There may even be reasons to cut back
    severely for a short period. But what's the point of life if you can't not only
    smell the cherry blossoms but pick and eat the cherries?

    Those high-
    maintenance Chicks are welcome to their protein-ass-bars. I'm going out tonight
    for a beer.

    Posted by dichroic at 10:59 AM

    August 07, 2002

    not old...just mature

    I'm not sure whether I feel old today, or just grown up.

    I've just
    started growing my hair out, and right now it looks as short as it did but is just
    a bit pouffier -- sort of the way my mother-in-law's looks when she's had it set
    for a special occasion. In my case it's the result not of a blow-dryer but of the
    natural curl. The main challenge is to keep bits from sticking out in odd
    directions. However, because it's a little longer more of the gray strands end up
    in front where I can see them. Denial of gray is one side benefit of very short
    hair. Suddenly I find myself wondering if maybe I have morphed into a short-haired
    person by temperament, after all.

    I'm dressed like a grown-up today
    too, because I have an interview (at this company; they're looking for people to
    train for an internal program). I'm wearing a little black dress I always forget I
    have, in a very plain sheath cut with a round neck and princess seaming. Somehow
    it manages to make me look round and curvy in all the right places even though
    it's closely fitted, so I look corporate, but I look like a hot corporate babe.
    (At least in my own mind.) The high heels help, and show off the definition in my
    calves. (Calves are about the easiest things to get in shape. Almost everyone has
    good calves, except those who are extremely stick-thin.) The only problem with
    the dress is that, like many of my clothes, it blouses out too much in back when I
    stand up straight. I think they expect the front to be a bit better-filled, as if
    there were many busty women who wear size 4. Clothes designers clearly live in
    fantasy worlds. At least the dress looks good from the front, and at least it fits
    -- I think there was one point a few years ago when it was too tight. Now it's
    just tight across the shoulders.

    I wonder if my age is also
    responsible for how long this cold or whatever is hanging on. The thing about
    being 35 is that you can do still anything you ever could, but it hurts more when
    you stop. When I was in my early twenties, I played Ultimate Frisbee, on a team
    where lots of the other people were in their early to mid-thirties. They could all
    outrun and outplay me on the field (I'm not good at traditional ball sports and
    Ulttimate uses the same sort of skills). Afterward, though, we'd go out for food
    and beer, and there would be much groaning as they stood up after sitting still
    for an hour right after strenuous exercise. I could bounce right up without a
    twinge -- that was my first glimpse of my future. Now I can sit in any odd
    position at my desk, and often do, but I limp for a bit after uncurling myself. I
    don't notice problems after sitting still post-rowing, but mostly I go straight
    off to the showers -- and I'm often so wiped afterwards I don't notice any
    gradations in the pain. I wonder if that loss of the ability to bounce back is
    responsible for my lingering phlegm issues. At least I erged a little this

    Another symptom of aging is loss of memory. I'm pretty sure
    there were other related issues I wanted to mention..............

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    August 06, 2002

    John and Abigail Adams, in their honor

    I have been learning so much from my recent Adams immersion: reading Joseph
    Ellis' Passionate Sage while listening to David McCullough's biography,
    John Adams. Here are some of the salient points, big and

    • John Adams was probably the single most important
      person in getting the Continental Congress to declare independence. It was clearly
      the will of the people by then, but his writings, as well as those of Paine and
      others, had had some effect on that as well. This is the opinion of the men who
      were there, not just that of partial biographers.
    • He was of equal
      importance with Jefferson in shaping the character and direction of the new
      republic. Again, this is the opinion of those who were there in its early days;
      Jefferson's rise in the opinion of history began some years after their nearly
      simultaneous deaths, while Adam's reputation only began to rise again (mostly
      among professional historians) in the 1950s.
    • Massachusetts is a
      Commonwealth, not a State, largely because he decided to write it that way when
      writing the state constitution (which is incidentally, the oldest one still in use
      anywhere, according to McCullough).
    • Many of the unpopular actions
      of Adams' presidency have been vindicated by later historians, especially his
      managing to keep us out of what seemed an inevitable war with France -- though
      really nothing can whitewash the entire wrongness of the Alien and Sedition act,
      no matter how strongly John Ashcroft would like to reinstate it. Whatever else he
      did, Adams did make mistakes.
    • A lot of things about government I
      had never understood make more sense now. Though happy to be a beneficiary of
      governmental support of education and scientific research, and glad that there are
      at least some safety nets in place, I had never understood why they were there. My
      understanding of the proper role of government was limited to the words of the
      Constitution itself, plus the tag (probably wrongly) attributed to Jefferson,
      "That government is best which governs least." Adams' writing, in the
      Massachusetts Constitution, explains and lays the foundation for governmental
      presence in education, science, and charity.

    Jefferson's idea of government was strictly a guarantor of individual liberties,
    Adams' ideas were more complex. In fact, Ellis theorizes that his relative
    obscurity may be mostly due to the fact that, not only do Adams' ideas and persona
    not boil down to an easy sound bite, but that Adams himself fought his whole life
    against that sort of reduction of history to simple pictures. (Also, he had a
    quixotic tendency to fight agains any trend that seemed to be gaining popular
    ascendancy. As fiery an American patriot as any man, he defended the British
    soldiers who took part in the Boston Massacre when they were brought into court,
    simply out of a belief that laws ought to be fairly and impartially applied. And
    he won his case.) Adams believed strongly in "life, liberty, and the pursuit of
    happiness", but he also believed that government was a compact between each person
    and the body politic (the amalgamation of all pople concerned, society as a whole)
    and that while government's power did indeed derive from the consent of the
    governed, a government's duty to its people was balanced by the individual's duty
    to his or her society.

    Absolutely fascinating stuff. John Adams was
    apparently a very warm, human man, much unlike Washington's Olympic superiority or
    Jefferson's contradictory reticence. (I probably need to read American Sphinx
    next.) Here is an example that struck me as telling: in May of 1776, Adams gave
    what observers recalled as the speech of his life, a masterwork of oration
    equivalent to those of the ancient Greeks, an immeasurably powerful and passionate
    speech that convinced Congress finally to officially declare on that day that
    these colonies "are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states". After
    he had spoken for an hour, several New Jersey delegates wandered in late, asked
    what he had been saying, and requested him please to repeat it all for their
    benefit. And he did. (There is no mention of bitch-slapping or even eye-rolling in
    the any of the records of the incident, proving Adams was a better man than

    Though the immersion has deepened my respect for Adams, and
    convinced me that he was an entirely likeable man as well as an admirable one (as
    opposed to his son, who sounds only admirable), it's really made me feel with
    Abigail. They married purely for love, not material advantage, arrangement, or
    anything else, and it was one of the great love affairs by all accounts. And yet,
    the country's business and both of their conceptions of honor and duty, kept her
    husband away from her for months at a tmie -- they reckoned they were apart for
    half of the first fourteen years of their marriage. I know what it's like to be
    away from a beloved husband, but I had a phone and email. She had nothing but
    letters, and the delivery of those subject to the vagaries of war. At one point,
    he had to be away while she was pregnant. The child was stillborn, and the anguish
    of their letters is not any different from that in anything I've read from the
    latest online diary of a mother who's lost a baby this very year. And se was a
    business woman, no idle flower who could retire to a fainting couch with her
    smelling salts, or flirt away her days in society; she had a farm to run and a
    family to raise, and she did both well, while still asking her husband to indulge
    her with more "sentimental effusions" in his letter, as they were all she had whil
    he was 400 miles away. Or, worse, traveling an ocean away, in winter, in wartime,
    along with her oldest son. And in wartime, she also had to deal with shortages of
    everything from pins to shoes to food. But her pain at the separation comes
    through, and is one of those things that does not and has not changed across the
    gulf of centuries. Neither has the fact that Abigail, the primary counselor of one
    of this country's greatest men, was a hell of a great woman.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:56 PM

    googles and gametes

    Along with the usual googles for "dichroic" and for songs and books I've written
    about, I've gotten two recently that are worth mentioning. One surprised me only
    becuase it is so antithetical to everything I think and do and say and am. I had
    written about the awful "music" they sometimes play at my gym, quoting from a song
    about 'real women and real men'. I got googles for that line, which is a bit scary
    because I had thought fans of that music would only be able to tolerate it by
    litening to the catchy tune and ignoring the lyrics.

    An even more
    interesting hit was for the phrase "my brain doesn't work after a shower". Now
    there are quite a lot of times when my brain doesn't work well, but after a shower
    isn't one of them. I often come out of the shower with ideas to solve a problem
    I've been working on. It's true, though, that my brain doesn't work well before a
    shower, especially if I've just woken up.

    I also got a hit for "I am
    fire" Actually, as I've written, I am more href="">water, but that was for this
    specific poem. I still think
    it's one of my better ones, even by Joan Houlihan's standards. I like the internal rhymes,
    assonances, and references (I'm especially proud of Yahwist/burning bush). Though
    I also still think the last line is weak.

    After my href="">bored entry the other day,
    I keep finding myself thinking that maybe I was right, maybe I should have a baby.
    Since I do have a tendency to internalize everything I read (just ask Rudder -- I
    know I treat him differently depending on whether I'm reading something warm and
    cuddle or cold and intellectual or unpleasant and off-putting), href="">all href="">of href="">the href="">diaries and emails I've read lately from
    people who are or want to be pregnant have definitely had an effect there. I'm a
    bit old for it (35) but as far as I know have no health problems that would make
    it hard to conceive. (If what I were reading were statistically accurate, I'd be
    thinking more women had PCOS than not. I suspect it's just that people who have
    problems are the ones who need to write about them.) I've always been ambivalent
    on the matter, though, and much of my reason for wanting one is the idea of having
    something to look forward to plus the fear of missing out on something important.
    Rudder, though he likes kids and would be a grewat father, says he doesn't want
    one, but that seems to be mostly a matter of fear -- fear of what I'd be like
    pregnant, and fear of change to a lifestyle he likes perfectly well as it is. I'm
    not crazy about my current lifestyle in some ways, but much for the problem there
    is the constant business and having a kid would make that even worse. The 'pro'
    reasons aren't strong enough to rationally overcome the 'cons', and I've never
    really had the sort of strong emotional need for a baby that would sweep away all
    the rational opposition. Also, for every time I've thought, "this would be fun to
    do with a kid (hiking, climbing, flying), there have been times I've thought,
    "Thank goodness we don't have a kid" (when I feel like crap and am glad not to
    have to deal with a crying baby or also-sick cranky child). I think we'd be all
    right as parents, but it's only right to consider what we'd owe to any child we
    brought into the world -- not just to be brought up according to our best efforts
    but to be wanted, yearned for, and dreamed over. Some of those things would kick
    in when hypothesis became reality, I'm sure, but would it be

    Probably not. We need nieces and nephews, blood or honorary,
    that's what we need. So the rest of you out there, who do want pups of your own,
    get busy. I'll baby-sit.

    Posted by dichroic at 10:17 AM

    August 05, 2002

    news at 5

    First, go look at yesterday's href="">cool pictures. Those are
    from the digital cam -- we're hoping at least one of the film versions of the two
    of us will come out well enough to have made into a poster, with Robert Frost's
    The Master Speed superimposed. (Hey, if it comes out well, anybody want a
    cool rowing poster? Good wedding present.)

    Anybody watching the local
    news at 5AM today might have caught a glimpse of me. Um, on further thought,
    perhaps "glimpse" is not the correct word for it. "Eyeful" may be more like it.
    Evil Coach DI (he's not my problem any more but I still consider him Evil because
    his coaching methods with those kids remind me of Bela Karolyi's, only without the
    winning results) had a TV news crew out there to film the juniors this morning. He
    must have asked the kids to show up early, and he himself was there before I was,
    which may be a first. Now, last night on the news there was a story about a dead
    body found in that same lake -- they're still not sure how he got there, whether
    it was murder, suicide, or accident. So I walked up to a cameraman, figuring that
    since the light on his camera was out it wasn't running, and asked, "Are you here
    about the juniors or the body in the lake?"** Some newsman type came running up
    and said, "You just walked into a live camera!" Oops. So I got into my boat and
    called, "Well, sorry but I'm here to row -- you guys are on *our* beach!" but I
    think he was ignoring me as soon as I stepped back.

    I do think it's
    more important to row than to televise rowing and they were definitely in my way,
    but the most irritating part is knowing that no one will have mentioned that there
    are not one but three local juniors rowing programs, or much of anything else but
    how wonderful DI is. I entertained myself for the rest of the row with fantasies
    of being interviewed, of the weaknesses in his program I could imply while never
    speaking one word of overt criticism. Actually, even speaking directly to a parent
    whose child wanted to learn to row, I wouldn't advise against DI's program. I
    don't like him but his coaching style might mesh perfectly with someone else's
    learning style. In theory, anyhow.

    True confession time: It was
    pretty obvious the TV people were there to televise the rowers. I asked about the
    dead body largely to see if any of the kids would freak out, but I don't think
    anyone heard. Bad Dichroic. No pretzels. (Yeah, right.)

    it was a fairly miserable morning to row -- almost as muggy as rowing in Houston,
    not a good combination with all the crud still riding around in the my sinuses,
    throat, and lungs. And to add make it worse, She-Hulk pointed out yesterday that
    there's a scratch on my pretty brand-new boat. Drat. So I only made it one
    easy lap around the lake. I figure though that every meter I row is at least
    better for me than one I don't row. I'll start pushing again when I feel better
    and the more when things finally cool down. Meanwhile, today's goal is: trying not
    to cough up a lung. Or lunch.

    Posted by dichroic at 01:03 PM

    August 04, 2002

    on-the-water boat pics

    We got She-Hulk to come out with us today and take turns taking pictures in our
    spiffy pretty boats. Here she is, with Rudder, in her double:


    Here I am:


    and, the piece de resistance, here
    we are, Rudder and me, rowing in formation in "Sunrise" and "Sunset",

    As always, all images copyrighted 2002 pkb

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    August 03, 2002

    authorial prejudice

    In the middle of rereading Podkayne of Mars for the first time in years, I
    keep noticing how dated it is. Partly it's small details, like Poddy taking along
    two hats when she travels. (Did most people still wear hats that often in 1963?
    That was after JFK's inauguration, which I had understood was their death-knell,
    fashionwise.) Mostly, though, it's the ingrained sexism of the time, which
    Heinlein seems to have thought would still be around a hundred years later, or
    whenever the book was set. It's a good sign that Poddy even wants to be a
    spaceship captain, but surprises me that she changes her plans because it's so
    hard for a girl to be accepted for training, and even harder to get hired.

    On the other hand, it's never entirely safe to surmise an author's own
    opinions from his or her fiction. Dorohy L. Sayers is a prie example of this, in
    the way that her own faith was not shared by her best character, Lord Peter
    Wimsey, but there are pitfalls of that sort throughout Heinlein's work too. In the
    contemporary Starship Troopers, women are actually preferred to men as
    miltary spaceship captains; supposedly we are able to withstand greater
    acceleration (this was probably based on the result of a real study; I don't know
    whether it's still thought to be true). So it's possible RAH was just postulating
    a specific future with the same attitudes toward the sexes that held in his own
    milieu. Knowing him, it was probably specific decision. It's also possible that
    the decision to do so was made for marketing reasons; perhaps a book in which
    girls were fully equal to boys would have been too subversive for the youth market
    in 1963.

    I actually agree with the part in the end in which he says
    that people who will not take the time to raise children properly should not have
    any (one reason I don't). I will note, though, that I find infuriating the hint
    that this is more a matter for the mother than the father: "...building bridges
    and space stations and other useful gadgets is all very well, but a woman has more
    important work to do." Humph. Phooey. Change "woman" to "human" and it doesn't
    bother me. Again, I still wonder if that was Heinlein's own voice or just his
    character's; it's very clear that the message about parenthood in general was not
    only his own opinion (maybe that's why he also had no children?) but the raison
    d'etre for the entire book. Seeing athors limited by the endemic prejudices of
    their times doesn't generally bother me, or I wouldn't be able to read Sayers,
    Conan Doyle, Alcott, Twain, or pretty much anyone who wrote before the 1970s. It
    does bother me in RAH's case because he was able to think outside the limits of
    his time in so many other ways.

    Posted by dichroic at 11:38 AM

    August 02, 2002

    I can spell eschatology, anyway

    At least part of yesterday's entry should probably be put down to the divine
    discontent that is part of the human condition. (I can't remember who wrote that
    phrase, and I'm not sure how it can be simultaneously divine and human, but I like
    it anyway.) People who don't wonder at all if the world could be bigger than they
    know are just piggies in their extra-comfortable sties complete with couch and TV.
    People who have too much of it are ramblers who can't handle being pinned down.
    People just short of either extreme can be very happy and productive, though,
    either building a snug home and stable business, on one extreme, or turning
    wanderlust into a profession like travel reporters and photographers on the other.
    I definitely lean toward the wanderers: I like change, and to my mind, better
    poetry has been written but none more viscerally thrilling than Kipling's
    "Something hidden. Go and find it. Go, and look behind the Ranges -- Something
    lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you . . . Go!"

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    August 01, 2002

    turn and face the (lack of) change

    One of the worst things about living in such a mobile area is that as soon as I
    make a friend, they move away. That never happened in Philadelphia, and only
    rarely in Texas, so I don't think it's me. In six years here, we've lost at at
    least four good friends as well as some more distant ones. One of the latter moved
    back, but she was more a friend of a friend (who's moved away) and we don't see
    her much anymore). Yesterday I learned that Queue is moving away in less than two
    weeks. This one is especially rough because we never did get to be really good
    friends, even though there was no reason not to be. She's smart, funny, well-
    educated, slightly wild when you get her out, responsible otherwise, and a hell of
    a rower when her shoulder is cooperating. There are her flaws: she's not good at
    saying no when people ask her to do too much. And ... and ... that's about it. So
    why did we never become close friends? I don't know, but laziness on my part has
    to be part of it. And now it's too late, though of course I'll ask for her new
    email address and we'll keep in touch sporadically. I hate losing the opportunity
    to make a friend, because although I have lots of acquaintances, I really don't
    have that many close friends. I never have, and marriage hasn't helped; it's easy
    to be lazy about other relationships when your best friend lives right there.
    Also, I have so little spare time that, paradoxically, it's easier for me to
    maintain long-distance friendships than local ones. I can send emails from my desk
    or make phone calls while doing laundry, but it takes a major time investment to
    actually go somewhere. It's not that I don't want to; it's just that most of my
    time is eaten up by rowing or work and I generally need to spend what's left
    maintaining that one most important relationship. (This is one reason I miss Egret
    and T2 so much; their life was so similar to ours that the little crannies of free
    time matched up well and no one was offended when we had to go home at
    ridiculously early hours.)

    I envy Queue, as well, for all the changes
    she's making. Right now I have nothing to look forward to. It's not because
    my life is bad, but because it's good; I like my job, I have a great marriage and
    a comfortable (though not fancy) home. We have no vacations coming up except for a
    few races this fall, and in general no changes in the foreseeable future. For some
    people this would all be ideal, but I'm restless. I like change. I keep hoping
    something wonderful will turn up, but even if it did, down the line I'd want to
    change it. Much as I hate the heat, we're stuck here for at least a few more
    years, because Rudder's reasons for staying are better than mine for going. I'm
    not stupid enough to cheat on Rudder and ruin the best part of my life -- I want
    to do something different but I want him to do it with me. I suppose I could go
    back to school but that doesn't seem like a good idea without some plan of what to
    do after graduation -- I'd probably want to study either linguistics or cognitive
    science, but I'm just mostly interested in the idea of learning more about them,
    with no idea of what to do with what I've learned.

    I read other
    diaries and people are wrestling with major life dilemmas or trying to conceive or
    breaking up with long-time boyfriends or clawing back from the brink of oblivion.
    My inner drama queen is stifling, I tell you. I can think of plenty of ways to add
    changes to my life, but they all seem like very very bad ideas. I want changes,
    but I want good changes. Yes, I am spoiled. I'm almost tempted to get pregnant
    just so there would be built-in excitements and milestones ahead. Or maybe start a
    garden. (At least I wouldn't have to worry that I was bringing plants into the
    world for all the wrong reasons.)

    I didn't expect the above to come
    out quite so whiny; I'm not really functioning at a high level today. I think I
    may have blown my brains out (through my nose into a tissue, not with a gun). Or
    perhaps I'm just not getting adequate oxygen to the brain. My appetite is coming
    back, and I'm hoping to be well enough to erg or at least row tomorrow, so maybe
    I'll be more cheerful then.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM