October 31, 2002

a reader's mind

I swear in Welsh to myself, often, though I have no idea how to
pronounce the words out loud.

I sing Romany songs in my head:
Koshko grai, Romano grai....
though I know neither the tune nor how the
words should sound.

I used to mispronounce words, even though I knew
their meaning well. I do that much less now, just because having lived longer I've
heard more of those words spoken.

I have a reader's mind. I'm not
really a writer; I have more of an urge to absorb words than to bring them forth,
several hundred diary entries to the contrary. I can't be a Common Reader only
because readers are no longer common -- if Tom Sawyer were around now, he wouldn't
be playing King Arthur or Treasure Island, he'd be playing Nintendo. He'd be
priding himself on his ability to maneuver through a virtual landscape rather then
the ability to "talk like a book". For that matter, if he did read, his books
would be much closer to the language he spoke daily.

It's not
necessarily a bad thing, since books are still there for those who want them. In
fact, they're much cheaper and easier to obtain than in Tom Sawyer's day. He might
have owned one or two, if very lucky; I don't even know how many hundreds I have.
More than even Judge Thatcher, I feel certain. I can buy a paperback of anything
from Steinbeck's King Arthur (my favorite modernization of Malory) to Harry Potter
(Tom would have loved that!) for the money I can earn in about 15 minutes (and
that's after taxes). Sounds like a bargain, since it takes me well over 15 minutes
to read even a children's book. Aunt Polly would have had to pay a few dollars
that she likely didn't have for any books of Tom's, unless he'd managed to acquire
one in trade for pins, marbles, kittens, and whatever else he could

I suspect in some ways being a reader is one of the things
that makes marriage easy for me; if I can read undisturbed (except maybe for a few
kitty headbutts) it counts as alone time for me. Rudder doesn't work quite the
same way, and he gets a bit surfeited with people and conversation at work. One
reason he goes down to rowing ten minutes or so before I do is just to get a
little alone time down by the water. Reading certainly makes it easy for to
survive anything boring or uncomfortable; if I'm in a book, I don't notice as much
where my body is. The downside is that I find it difficult to do anything not
requiring my mind without a book in front of my eyes (brushing teeth, changing
clothes, vaccuming, watching TV). This makes it difficult to do anything like
embroidery that doesn't leave my hands free to turn pages. Books on tape are a
godsend for long road trips, since even when I'm not driving I can't read in a
moving car because it makes me a bit queasy. Also, I must confess to having droped
more than one library book into the bathtub before I hit adolescence and began
taking showers. They're never quite the same, somehow. (No, I don't try to read in
the shower.)

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

October 30, 2002

please, not DFL ... not DFL, please

COunting down to my race on Sunday. I don't really like the long fall races; this
one is on the shorter side at 4400m, but I am just not built for endurance. I hope
I don't make a complete DFL fool of myself.

Fortunately, head races
run one boat at a time, so that if I do no one will be able to tell except by
looking at the posted results.

I'm a much better rower than I am a
racer -- that is, I row well but slowly. I might be happier if I just emphasized
time in the boat without worrying about speed or getting ready for races, but
rowing alone can get boring without having a goal. Also, and more crucially, I
can't get my head into any point from which that doesn't look like wimping out.
I'm not terribly competitive in physical sports in the sense of needing to do
better than other people, but I do have some issues with wimping out. (On the
other hand, I'd be upset if I lost a spelling or trivia contest. But I don't know
many people here who consider those things recreational.)

today I had a much better idea to write about, but it got lost in the flurry of
work. I'd like to note, though, that I spent almost all of today writing code,
which is what we software people call what we do because it sounds so much cooler
than "programming". Yeah, dude, I write code, like Ms. Secret Agent Woman. It was
simultaneously frustrating and satisfying, and I could have stayed much later if
not for the need to go assess a local disc golf course (more on that later), pick
up dinner, and carve the pumpkin that Rudder ended up not being able to find in
the stores anyway.

Posted by dichroic at 07:21 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2002

sweaters and Emily

This class has one major advantage over last week's -- network access during
class! No, I'm not goofing off; it's just nice to be able to browse when I've
finished an exercise or come back from break early.

FUnny thing this
year -- I love wearing sweaters and fuzzy clothes, but I'm feeling an odd regret
this year about transitioning to fall clothes. I still love the clothes, but
they're big, lots of them. They're wonderfully warm and comfy and all that, but
part of the appeal is that lots of them are big. I tend to wear less fitted
clothes in winter, apparently. The problem with this is that I had gotten used to
noticing the curve of a bicep or a calf in dail yactivities. And though I'm happy
with what my arms and shoulders look like now, they're not so big as to show under
even a tight knitted sleeve. (Even big weightlifter guys are often hard to tell
from big fat guys in clothing -- though lots of them are both.) Drat. AT least it
gives me something to look forward to next summer, while I'm dreading the onset of

I've begun reading "Emily of New Moon", since my Montgomery
list is supposed to be discussing the Emily books at present. This time around I
found myself wondering whether starting a child's book with a death seemed as
daring when it was written as it does now. I Know the Victorians had a fascination
with death, and it shows up thoughout children's literature from the time (Beth
March's death in Little Women springs to mind) but I wonder whether starting right
off with the death of a sympathetic character was risky even

Done the exercise, time for lunch!

OK, I ate. And since I have some time until class starts up again, I was thinking
how lame the above entry is.In case anyone else is wondering why I tend to write
such jumpy, disjointed entries, the reason is just that I have a jumpy disjointed
mind. That goes for "vain", too -- see above.

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

October 28, 2002

daily whine

Well, I have a spiffy new laptop at work now (it took most of the day to get it,
despite its being supposed to arrive sometime in the past week). The downside of
that is that I'm expected to shlep it home every night, as if I didn't al ready
carry enough crap in my car. The usual load is a lightly loaded backpack for work,
a towel on a hanger, and my gym bag; the total weight has just increased
significantly. I'd be even more excited about the laptop if my desk had a working
network connection. That's sort of less of a problem since I'm in training all
week, but unfortunately people won't stop sending me email and it piles up. I
estimate I've walked about two miles today, back and forth from my desk to the
classroom to my old desk on the second floor of the other bulding, which still has
a computer on it where I can catch up with email.

Mantra of the day:
"Training is an opportunity." Repeat ad libitum.

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

October 27, 2002

PS report

Some random data on Palm Springs:

Tram ride up the mountain: a little
expensive, but worth doing. Spectacular views -- I'd like to go back to X-C ski or
maybe even backpack, since they do the ork of getting up the

Average age in the restaurants: about 65, but

Windmill farm tour: too damn expensive and emphatically not
worth it. They tell you it's a "ninety minute ride out into the desert" but never
quite get around to mentioning that all of it is zig-zagging arounf not 200m from
the parking lot. And then there was the tour guide's rants on his personal
philosophy of life, which was, by the way, not a terribly original one. Not to
mention the way he kept saying he'd do some "geek talk" any time he was going to
give us numbers. Several of the old ladies and I think some of the men shrieked in
dismay whenever he did that.

Restarants: the two we ate at, The Deck
and Kaiser's Grill, were both excellent, and Palm Drive, the main drag, was fun to
walk around. I was hoping to knock of some of the holiday shopping, but instead
found a gift that will be perfect for my mom's Bat Mitzvah next

Golf: Sorry, I don't play.

AOPA conference: lots
and lots of sweet airplanes, but the only one we bought is designed to sit on top
of the Christmas tree and go around in circles. (I also bought a little silver
two-blalded prop I'm thinking of making into a navel charm; however, t just
occurred to me that the potential for stupid jokes, if I walk around with a prop
hanging my my belly-button, is frighteningly large.) Fun to walk around the show,
and I learned that my new status as an official employee at work will entitle me
to 50% off list on the avionics made by another branch of the

Palm Springs Air Museum: Worth visiting, but try not to
get there an hour before they open. Oops. Our state doesn't haveDaylight

Chance to sleep in two mornings in a row: priceless.

Posted by dichroic at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2002


Off to drool over pretty airplanes.....expect next week to be as short on entries
as this one.

Posted by dichroic at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2002


Not that there's a, er, snowball's chance in Arizona of us ever seeing the white
stff here, much less in October, but the fall flurry has definitely started. Or
maybe it's less flurries than the Dichroic Follies. And I thought last year was
bad. Last year, long-time readers may recall, I wasn't working. So here's my
schedule for the months of October and November, starting last

One week training, offsite (closer to home,

Weekend at Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association
annual conference, in Palm Springs.

Officially begin new job, Monday
morning. Dive right in to another week's training, this time at the office.
Team-building exercise all day Friday. (I can miss the trainin, apparently, since
the team a-building is the same team who does tis training.) Skip out a little
early to drive out to CA for:

Weekend in LA, back-to-back regattas at
Marina del Rey and Newport. I'll only race in Newport, but Rudder's in both, in a
club eight.

What would be the first normal week at the new job,
except the old department's "borrowing" me back for half of it.

to CA for the San Diego regatta. I'm sitting this one out; it's rough water for a
single. Rudder's in the eight again.

I think after all that we get a
weekend or two at home before heading off to DC for Thanksgiving. Thank goodness
they seem to be wrapping up the sniper case so now I only have to worry about what
an obvious terrorist target I'll be on an airplane flying in to the nation's
capital on the busiest travel day of the year. Downright relaxing, in

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

October 23, 2002

how to use new skills

Loooks like Egret won't be able to race with me after all, so I'll be racing a
single in Newport weekend after next. At least it's a head race, 4.4km long. You
can see the end of it, but people are started individually so it's not possible to
tell who won or (more relevant) who's way behind from watching. That all means
that if I'm embarassingly slow it will only show on the scoreboard and in posted
results. ("If" is not really the correct word for that

Training and more training. Once all of this is over, I
will be the Queen of Statistics.

Yeah, that sounds like an empty
title to me, too. Maybe I can manipulate the data so it looks like I won my race?

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

October 22, 2002

a sma' request

Just in case Anyone is listening: this minor sore throat had better not be
anything more serious than a reaction to a change in the weather. Now is really
really not a good time. (I doubt Egret would appreciate it much if I got another
sinus infection resulting in dry heaving after this year's race. And if I race in
the single I wouldn't appreciate it, either.) If You could just hold off until
after the Newport race, I don't care what germs You send.(Within reason, of


Posted by dichroic at 06:05 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2002

my computer ate my entry

SO I had this whole entry written up about how Egret and I went out dancing on
Saturday night and she mysteriously disappeared with some gorgeous young guy for
an hour or two. Not that any of that actually happened, but I thought T2 might be
bored and in need of some entertainment. Unfortunately, my computer ate my

Entries this week will be sparse, as I'm in training all week
with no Internet access until I get home in the evenings. This weekend is the
first of our annual back-to-back-to-back trips, though this time it's a pilot
conference and three regattas, rather than four regattas like last year.

In other words, don't worry if you don't hear much from me. I'm not
dead, just busy.

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

October 18, 2002

how to begin, how to end

What a great way to start the day. Egret and I took the double out this morning,
with the weather cooperating this time. An no, we didn't talk quite as much as we
rowed. Almost, though. She was a bit rusty, of course, since it must be six months
or so since she rowed last, and the damned launches with their damned wakes
weren't making balancing a foot-wide boat any too easy, but she picked it up again
very well. That is, I could critique a few things, but there are quite a few
people out there who've been rowing all this time and are far worse. And we've all
got a few things to improve. We did a 3/4 pressure piece at the end that felt
really nice, especially the part where we pulled away from a women's eight. (hee,
hee, hee. Actually, I think they were doing drills, but still, 8 oars vs. 2. And
we weren't at full pressure either. You do the math.)

This is my last
day at my old job, really. I'll still officially be reporting to this department
for another week, but I'll spend all of that week offsite in training for the new
job. So this is my last day in the cube, since I'll be coming back to a shiny new
and bigger one. (They said it would be an office but they ran out of them. Rats.)
Packing all my stuff isn't really combining all that well with my usual Friday
wall-to-wall meetings.

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

October 17, 2002

not too well put together

Health fair today at work. The results: My posture sucks (I knew that, but am
still not sure I believe in chiropractry.) My feet sucks (I suspected that.) My
bone density kind of sucks (A distressing surprise.) But my blood sugar is good.
(Which surprised me .... might be all those pretzels I snack on more-or-less
continuously.) And when I mentioned that my dad was diagnosed with diabetes fairly
recently, one nice lady gave me -- free! -- a home blood glucose monitor, even
though I told her I'm not sure if he has one and that he's 2000 miles away. "I'd
rather be sure he has one," she said. "Send it to him." So I'll call tonight and
check. If he does, I'll have a glucose meter going a-begging. Anyone need

Egret's in town for a few weeks, so of course we promptly
scheduled a row. Unfortuntely, the atmospherics didn't cooperate. The lightning
was far away and we decided to chance going out, but we made all of about 500m
before deciding it was heading closer and coming back in. Most other people either
came back in or never went out; one team was still on the water when we left. I'm
on the conservative side when it comes to lightning and water. I have twice been
marooned out on a lake in a thunderstorm through no fault of my own (Really!) and
have no desire ever to repeat that experience.

Posted by dichroic at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2002

gametes on the brain

That whole kid issue still gets me some sleepless nights every so often. Maybe we
should. Maybe we shouldn't. Maybe we're missing something important. Maybe we'd
regret it when it was too late if we don't. Maybe we'd regret it when it was too
late if we do, and that would be much, much worse. Maybe we should just take a
shot at it and let the universe decide if it happens or not.

This is
really bad entry to write on a night when my mother used the words "Dichroic" and
"email" in the same phone conversation. (She knows my AIM id is dichroicpb, but I
haven't told her why). So just in case, hi, mom. Don't get your hopes up.

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

a quiver of quizzes

All of the following found thanks to Lush:

What's your Battle-Cry?

this quiz was made by Aroihkin of PlanetKulitron

Hmmph. Busted:
What is your mental profile?

brought to you by Quizilla

What box do you get put in?

brought to you by Quizilla

take the nerd test.

and go to mewing.net. a nerd utopia.

Not so much anymore...

size="-2">Who are you?

I can live with this:
Which Famous Homosexual
are you?

And to summarize (note: this one is only 4 questions, but they did get it right): My Bloginality is ENTP!!!

Posted by dichroic at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)


Jeez. Not that I really expected a going-away lunch since I'm not actualy going
anywhere, but I was hoping to be able to drag more than three people out for Cajun

---Part 2

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

October 15, 2002

I believe I do

I get to leave work early today, la la la la la la....

But it's to go
to the dentist, so hold the la la-ing. Though it is only a

But after that I get to go see Cool Salon Guy, so la la la
all over again. I wish hair stylists could make hair long again as quickly as
they can make it short. If you're wondering why I'm getting a haircut when I'm
trying to grow it out, the reason is that I get split ends, so I try to get the
ends trimmed every couple of months. Besides, I like getting my hair cut. Not only
do I get to impress Cool Salon Guy with my latest antics, but then there is the
blissful experience of Scalp Massage during the shampooing. (And at that point,
half of the people reading this went, "Huh?", and the other half went, "Ahhhhhh".)

And of course I have to dress well for CSG (is it true that gay guys
are better at clothes, or is it just part of being a hair stylist? Or maybe just
sucking up to the paying customers?) and so I am all suave today in drapy knit
wide black pants, long-sleeved black jersey knit top, and spiffy black-and-white
glen plaid vest. And, naturally, lots of silver. Yes, I look dangerous -- all the more
so for that I now do have my navel pierced. Well, ok,
no I don't really look dangerous. But I like to believe I do.

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

October 14, 2002

damn cats

Don't you hate when you get mad at someone for pestering you and then it turns out
they were trying to tell you something important? "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" "Mommy is
busy right now." "But Mooommmmmyyy..." "I don't want to hear about it unless the
house it on fire!" "But Mommeeeeeee..." "WHat did I just say??" "But Mommy, the
house IS on fire!"

That was this morning, only it was a cat, not a
kid. And what he was trying to tell us was that the other cat has somehow gotten
shut in the garage. However, I think I'd be more inclined to apologize for yelling
at him if he hadn't for some mysterious reason decided to wait until 3:30AM to let
us know this, instead of, oh, say, about 8 last night when the other cat got in
there in the first place. Of course, the cat, being a cat, will assume I am
slobberingly grateful that he deigns to grace our house with his presence whether
or not I apologize. Damn cats.

It wouldn't have been so bad if all
that noice hadn't started less than half an hour before the alarm ws due to go
off, giving me no chance to get any additional quality sleep. It also didn't be so
bad if I didn't know that the furry barsteds are at this very moment curled up
asleep in my comfy chair, while I slave all day to keep them in comfort and
Science Diet. And then when I walk in tonight, 13 hours or so after leaving this
morning, they'll open on eye and look at me like, "You again? So soon? You're not
going to kick me out of this chair like usual, are you? .......

Also, since Rudder and I have been discussing furniture, does
anyone out there know if cats tend to like to put little claw-holes in leather

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

October 13, 2002

over for now

I'm not quite sure how to explain the problem, but Rudder was pissing meoff
yesterday, and for a few days before, to the point where I believe I told him that
he was "poisoning my attitde". (If you're about to give me a lecture on how I
should let others affect my own mood, please don't.) Most of the reason was his
refusal to enter in to any of the things I've been concerned about lately, such as
the lack of seating in our family room that's been driving me nuts for about the
last five years, and the way he always seems to disagree with what I

I think we're out of it now, or emerging. One part of the
solution is that I'm going to try to circle on the calendar every day on which he
drives me nuts to the point of depressing me, just so we can firmly establish that
it's not a hormonal thing. I'm fairly sure it's not, but it's really on in the
last few years that I've been seeing that sort of thing affect my mood at all, and
I still don't always recognize it. But I'll be damned if I let female hormones
ruin my life.

The other thing is that he appears to need me to
present the problem I'm trying to solve, so he can treat it as a problem solving
exercise. This enables him to try to make an ideal solution, which appears to
matter to him (Rudder is not good with Good Enough, or Somewhat Nice Looking; this
was the man who stashed his socks in an old copy-paper box on a closet shelf until
we bought expensive chery bedroom furniture. This also reassures him I'm not
fallin prone to impulse buying (well, it's been known to happen) and to compare
relative priorities. It's true that we also need to consider spending money on a
new roof, redoing the pool (replastering at a minimum, a complete redo with
waterfall and a built-in grill and Pebbletec at max) or redoing the kitchen. That
last may be only a cosmetic redo, but is most apt to recoup its own cost when we

So I guess I'm not mad at him any more, though more comments
on how nice the weather is here would still be inadvisable. (No matter how happy I
get over other things, it's still too fucking hot here.) We had a decent time
watching ASU play Oregon State last night, courtesy of Rudder's boss' season tix
on row 15 at the 30-yard line. College football is definitely better than the pro
variety; they kept bringing out scholarship winners to be honored instead of some
dumb little honorary ball-boy thing (or whatever the NFL equivalent is), there was
a live marching band instead of an organ and there was a lot less of the video
monitor telling the spectators when and how to react.

The band was
really good; they and the dance team did a Jimmy Buffet mix and halftime that had
very impressive arranging and choreography. Also, the local team won, which is
always nice. Though not for my in-laws the OSU alumni.

Posted by dichroic at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2002

I want fall, dammit!

I want fall. I want FALL! I FUCKING WANT FALL!!!!

Rudder thinks I
should suck it up and stop complaining. He says I should pretend this is summer
and enjoy it as perfect summer weather (which, in fact, it is) and "stop paying
attention to labels". Rudder also thinks skydiving is the most dangerous thing
he's done to date.

He is very, very wrong.

Today I
stopped by a farmer's market and tonight we're going to a college football game
(ASU v. Oregon State) and these experiences, I just know, would be greatly
enhanced if I were wearing a sweatshirt. Instead, I show my alumni pride, as well
as my muscular shoulders, in a little camisole-style top printed with the name of
my university, a completely inadequate substitute for being THERE, walking down
Locust Walk in 64-degree weather (I just checked), shuffling through the first of
the falling leaves and smelling the unmistakeable scent of fall. (Which, it's
sadly true, would in that case be mingled with the scent of west Philadelphia, not
a great additive to the bouquet. But still.)

I am still here only
because I can't pry Rudder away from the place. And now because of the job I've
taken, I'm here for another 18-24 months, after which I will begin looking for
opportunities (within the company, if I still like them as much by then) in a
climate that that encourages sweaters (but that stop short of frostbiting exposed
noses. No need to overreact.)

And if this hasn't been the most
eloquent entry ever, go read LA expressing similar feelings much better href="http://la-the-sage.diaryland.com/021010_10.html">here.

Posted by dichroic at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2002


Sorry, too many meetings and not much to write about today, but I figure the three from yesterday should

Posted by dichroic at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2002



I watched my city burn, my Illium.
My baby in my arms, our scant possessions at our feet.
No way to know if my man were alive or dying, dead,
Or what the Fates held for us, where our threads wound.

As I watched the fires, waking, I dreamt a woman watching flames
In the dream, I did not know if she were me.
She gathered children close as she too watched a city burn.
Her face changed then, became other faces, different women
Clutching children, husbands, parents, household gods
Each one had flames reflecting in her eyes.

Then in the fire's roar I heard strange syllables,
A litany of names I did not recognize:
Tianjin and Atlanta, Rome, Dresden, Sarajevo,
Washington and London ... the list went for long minutes.
Then I heard my man calling, and I ran to him,
His hair held sparks and his skin was burned
I thanked the gods for sparing our lives,
The women and their strange-named cities
I left to think of on some other day.

Presumably, this was inspired by listening to the beginning of the Odyssey. There's a regular entry here.
Posted by dichroic at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

A Muppet Odyssey

This is what's wrong with the world today, or at least the part of it I inhabit: I
cannot walk up to someone in the office and say, "Y'know, it's funny. I've been
listening to the Odyssey on my way to work and this time through it, I'm
finding that my perception of Odysseus' character is very strongly influenced by
Tennyson's Ulysses," and have them answer something like, "Really? That's odd,
since Tennyson's Ulysses is so much later in his life." Or, really, any
answer indicating a rudimentary knowledge of either the story or the poem (the
latter of which shouldn't be too difficult since there's lengthy chunk of it
posted on my wall). Though I did walk by a meeting the other day and hear someone
talk about his fondness for Tolkien and the Harry Potter books, so they're not all
complete illiterates. I have never, except during my four years as an undergrad,
known anyone in school or at work with whom I could discuss much of my reading. I
have known a few bright fantasy and SF fans along the way (endemic in engineering)
and I used to work with one Jane Austen fan, but I don't think she'd read anything
but Emma (she liked Stan Rogers and Great Big Sea, too -- clearly a woman with
superior tastes). If there's one major blessing the Internet has brought, it's the
ability to connect with other people who can discuss books. As well as other
obscure subjects like folk music and rowing, but most of all and especially

Another more serious problem with the world is the existence
of stupid or corrupt judges, but that's a different story and belongs to someone

The Odyssey tape is very well done, by a storyteller who
calls himself Ods Bodikins. The case says that he does "over 37" voices for
different characters (uh, would that be 38?), which seems paltry compared to the
400+ Jim Dale reportedly mustered for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,
but I impressed at how these book readers can summon up voices so different from
their own that I wouldn't have been able to tell it was the same person. He's
having a bit of a hard time differentiating Odysseus' sailors, but I suspect
that's because the story never does treat them as individuals, except for the
second in command. My only real problem so far with the story is that Ods
Bodikins's Circe sounds far too much like Miss Piggy for me to take her seriously.
Perhaps changing the sailors to pigs was meant to be a compliment? (Come to think
of it, Polyphemus sounds a bit like a Muppet too -- one of the monsters.) To
balance that, his sound effects are very good (almost all vocal, I think), his
Odysseus does sound like a man who would be trusted and followed, and the 12-
string guitar and harp accompaniment are enchanting.

To insert my
almost-obligatory non-sequitur, I am wearing my new red shoes today. The only
problem with them is that I keep wondering if I could escape work by clicking my
heels together three times and repeating, "There's no place like home." (Even
though yes, I do know that in Baum's original the shoes wre silver. Presumably
ruby slippers were more impressive in Technicolor.)

Also, I would
like to welcome yet another new person to the world, even
if this one has ink instead of blood in her veins.

Posted by dichroic at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

fear me

fear factor

You Should Be On Fear Factor!

While you don't have the patience for a drawn out adventure,

you're up for almost anything.

Put your big balls to the test and see if you can earn a little cash!

What Reality TV Show Should You Be On? Click Here to Find Out!

Big surprise. (OK, I gave some of the right answers on purpose. I'd hate beiong on most of the other shows.)

Posted by dichroic at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2002


WARNING: If discussions of food bore you, come back tomorrow.

I was
asked about my diet, by someone who apparently doesn't (yet) know how giddy and
verbose I get when I'm asked to speak about virtually anything. More often, I'm
being asked to shut up. (Oh, now I remember why I keep this diary so

My diet can be adequately summarized by the phrase,
"Way too many pretzels." I never ever ever worry about not getting anough carbs.
There are also regular infusions of Gatorade and copious amounts of water
involved. The recent reports on water-drinking say that 8 8-ounce glasses per day
are not really required for sedentary people in a temperate climate, but I don't
really qualify on either count.

Because of the rowing and gym
schedules, I don't worry about calories much. Fortunately, my favorite pretzels
are low-fat. I do eat fats in moderate amounts but try not to go overboard. I
believe that individual needs vary quite a bit; I feel best with a higher
proportion of carbs than most articles I've read seem to favor, while Rudder has
only in the past year been eating more veggies and would still be happy with an
all-meat diet. He's also happy with big meals and not much snacking, while I tend
to eat lots of snacks and smaller meals. If I go too long without food I get
lightheaded and grumpy. I don't pack a lunch unless I have leftovers of something
I like, and even then there's a severe memory hurdle.

A usual week
includes several salads, along with stir-fried veggies whenever they're on the
menu at the cafeteria here. I try not to eat fast food more than once a week;
lately we've been going to the local Chipotle for burritos a lot when we want
quick food that's not bad for us. I don't eat all that much meat, really; shrimp
often, chicken more rarely (loved it when I was younger, but seem to like it less
now), and beef whenever I get a craving for it (or when someone else is buying the
steaks) maybe a couple times a week. It's quite possible that more protein would
help my energy level, but I don't like most fish (tuna, sushi, and lox excepted,
salmon if it's really good) and steaks or burgers give me awful stomach cramps, so
I have to want the beef enough to deal with the expected pain. Lately I've been
finding myself eating more at lunch and less at dinner, probably due to the size
of cafeteria / restaurant portions, and I figure this is better anyway, as I'm not
eating a lot right before bed. Especially on nights before rowing, when I also try
to eat non-greasy food that will not result in my wishing they'd invent rowing
shells with bathrooms. In fact, my diet is probably shaped more by IBS than by my
sports regimen.

I don't, as you may have figured by now, keep any
kind of track of what I eat. I try to eat more vegetables, not to make high-fat
choices too often, and to go easier on the pretzels. (Those are listed in
decreasing order of success. I also try to eat a lot of variety. The best advice I
ever got was to balance the food groups over a couple of days rather than at each
meal. For example, yesterday's lunch was a grilled cheese sandwich (carbs,
protein) with fried mushrooms (digusting, I Know), but I'd had a salad for dinner
the previous night so it was OK. Except for the fried 'shrooms, anyway. Do they
even count as a vegetable?

Since I imagine this is all tremendously
un-helpful for anyone trying to eat well, I will finish with an actual Helpful
Tip. A woman I work with tosses various combinations of fruit in a blender because
the resulting puree is convenient to bring to work in a plastic container (a
lidded cup, basically). The mix I saw looked like baby food, and is better than
fruit juices because the fiber is preserved. One warning: she said the day she
mixed waterm,elon and kiwi, people kept asking, "Why are you drinking salsa?" in
tones of revulsion.

Off to grab lunch.

Later note:
There's a new deal at the cafeteria. Now they make yyour sandwich for you, and
they have all kinds of fancy meats and imported cheeses, and fresh breads. The
down side is that there's no more tuna fish, it costs more (used to be by wieght,
now it's a set price) and was about twice as much as I could eat. The good part is
that I ended up with a sourdough baguette piled with Brie, mozzerella, lettuce,
tomato, roasted red pepper, and a few bits of artichoke heart. I was sort of
trying to recreate the best cheese sandwich I've ever had, from the Rijksmuseum in
Amsterdam, though I think the resemblance stops with the Brie, sourdough, and
tomoatoes. Still, it was far better than yesterday's grilled cheese. Anyone want
the other half?

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

October 08, 2002

subconscious as novelist

I've never had any great desire to participate in NaNoWriMo, mostly because fiction isn't my
thing. Apparently my subconscious wants to do it, though. The main character was a
post adolescent boy (I think he was a boy). This being a dream, I was him part of
the time and observing from outside part of it. He was the son of a famous sage
or enchanter (who was dead or away) and he had to travel by water for the and
then by air in search of Tamburlaine's sword. It was a task laid on him, not
something he'd chosen to find. There were several other things he had to retrieve
on the way to the sword, rather like the plot of a video game. By now I don't
remember any of it clearly, but I did imprint one episode on my memory just after
waking up, when it was all still clear. I think I had had one part of the dream,
woken up a bit, then returned to it and dreamt the following, which is why this
part was clearer in memory.

The boy had just come home to his
mother and, I think, a few sibs or other relatives. There was a lake or beach in
front of their cottage. He saw something across the water he needed, and got on a
raft or floating debris to get there. A swift and strong current carried him
toward the object; by then he was all or partly in the water and had to dodge a
couple of logs and other floating things that would have been painful to run into.
Then the wind grabbed him up out of the water and carried him away. He ended up on
the top floor of a house in a city or town, talking to an enchanter. The enchanter
told him, "You'll need this," reached down, plucked the fire out of his grate, and
handed it to the boy. There was a faint flickering, like the shadow of a fire,
playing over the logs remaining in the grate; the enchanter told him/me, "That's
just to finish consuming the firewood, so it won't be there to risk an
uncontrolled fire later."

Clearly, my subconscious is lousy at
plotting, because there are all sorts of holes in that story. For one thing, I'm
not sure who Tamburlaine was, though I have a dim memory associating him with the
Crusades and the French Romances like the Chanson de Roland. But also: Why did the
boy have to seek the sword? What does the sword symbolize? What had happened to
his father? (The questions seemed to be related.) Why traveling by water and air,
or was that just my own preferences? Why could the air carry him? Who was the
other enchanter, and why could he and the boy handle the fire? What was the fire
for? If there's water, and and fire, where does earth come in, or was that just
part of the dream I've forgotten? Why did the boy get into the water in the first
place? He seemed resigned at being carried away from home at the

Second-guessing the subconscious is always a bit futile, but
I'd have to guess this one owed something to Patricia Wrede's Talking to
, and something to Arthurian legends, and something to a book that I
think was by Lloyd Alexander, in which a lost boy found out he wasactually king of
the land, after a trip in which he teamed up with a man who turned out to be a
lord and advisor who had lost his memory. (Note: not a girl, a boy. It's not the
Westmark series. The amnesiac lord was named Hilary, and either the boy or the
lord had a silver lock in his golden hair. ) Hmmm ... given the common thread of
those stories, maybe the boy was meant to be a lost prince.

I'd like
to write the rest of the story, because I'd like to read it, but I don't think I
have it in me to make it satisying, or to put in the enchantement and hints of
forgotten lore that it needs.

An aside: I've been reading about some
of the English purists who wanted to purge the language of all foreign borrowings.
I think the idea is silly and would impoverish the language, but their sample text
and those of others, like Poul Andersen and Douglas Hofstedter who were writing
in "Anglish" only as an exercise did leave me wondering. Why do the constructs
with the oldest roots somehow seem so much more magical and potent than the modern
equivalents? "Starlore" sounds like it encompasses (even) more wonder than
"astronomy", "wyrd" and "doom" have greater portent than "fate". Is it just that
those writers have specifically chosen evocative words, or is it just the archaism
that attracts? After all, I can't say I find "guma" more interesting than "man",
or "lych" than "body", but then those words are completely archaic and have no
modern connotations at all (except for nearly invisible presences in "bridegroom"
(was "bridguma") and "lychgate" (the gate through which dead bodies are carried
into a churchyard to be buried).) Or is there more to it?

Posted by dichroic at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2002

messing with my plans

I hate when they (the invisible "they" who run the universe) screw with my
schedule. I cut my row a little short when my stomach started cramping up
(apparently last nighs tacos woke up an half and a half later than the rest of
me). Washed the boat and oars (attempting not to wash the juniors who were milling
about watching each other do erg pieces), and headed off to the gym to shower. All
the traffic lights on the way were out. I pulled into the gas station near the gym
and was told I couldn't fuel up because their power was out too. (So why were the
pumps all displaying numbers on the electronic readouts?) And the gym was dark.
They'd probably have let me shower in the dark, but with no guarantee of hot
water. And I'm not sure I could shave my legs in the dark.

Instead of
going to the next nearest gym and having to find a gas station near it, I decided
just to head home to shower. The plus to that was that I pulled another outfit out
of my closet, allowing me to use the one I had packed for tomorrow -- a tiny time-
saver, since I'm generally in a hurry to get to bed. And yes, both outfits include
new clothes. We've already
established that I have no self control. Sadly, the red shoes don't really go with
the denim shirt, at least not with the flowered top. Life is full of minor

On the work side, I am frantically trying to get
everything done before leaving for the new job. It's not looking promising at the

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

October 06, 2002

buying frenzy

Um. Well. Today's shopping trip was, uh, productive. Not to mention profitable,
for the mall stores. I believe it has now been thoroughly proven that I have no
will power. None. Now you know why I've never ever ever been on a diet. I may need
more hangers. (I almost wrote hangars. I only need one of those.) Here's the
damage; assume all of it is way cool and looks totally hot on me. (May not be true
in all cases, but obviously I think it is, or why would I have bought all this

  • The href="http://www.bornshoes.com/StyleDisplay.asp?style=DB0224">red shoes that
    were the motivation for this whole trip.
  • Six skinny plastic
    headbands. OK, these don't look totally hot. But they were cheap and they're
    going to be necessary to restrain my hair as it grows out and wants to stick out
    in strange new directions.
  • One wicked cool skirt with stretchy
    black lace over beige liner and a little ruffle running down the front. I'm pretty
    sure it will be OK for work with a plain black top -- not too tight and just past
    the knee. I don't usually wear that length because I'm bowlegged, but it does show
    off my calves.
  • One slightly see-through shirt, black with bright
    flowers on it, and a black camisole to wear under it. And the cami is, for once,
    big enough not to cut into my arms, and double-thick for solo wear. Rudder vetted
    the combination for work, and he tends to be conservative, so it should be all
  • A nifty little denim skirt, flaring out to below the knee.
    (See above re calves) Size 2, if you please.
  • Not one but two
    gentlemanly vests: one black and white houndstooth and the other a tweedy brown
  • A fitted white stretch shirt with 3/4 sleeves for under the
  • A velveteen brown jacket for over the brown vest. Something
    I'm sure I'll wear a lot here in the desert. Size 8, petite, to balance that size
    2 skirt.

  • Small containers of The Body Shop's href="http://www.usa.thebodyshop.com/web/tbsus/products/us_products_category.jsp?c
    urr_category=TBSUS_body_body_butter&parent_category=TBSUS_body">Body Butter
    both Grape Seed and Mango, to see if I can find one that will pass the Husband
    Sniff Test. (He refers to the Shea Butter one I have now as "Rudder Repellant" --
    though I admit that can have its uses.

I think that's it.
Kudos to the very helpful salewoman at Nordstrom, who brought me all kinds of
goodies including at least two things I wouldn't have picked out and ended up
buying, and the one at Ann Taylor Loft, who steamed the jacket so the laels would
fall straight.

Kudos to me, too. I forgot to mention that yesterday I instealled a new garbage
disposal. Even if Rudder helped a little, I deserved that shopping trip.

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

cavorting day

to frolic.

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

October 05, 2002

time to relax

Rudder and I slept something like 12 hours last night. Ahhhhhh. The cats, critters
of habit that they are, were Not Pleased, which is why the last two hours were
fairly intermittent.

And I think I hear a pedicure calling, from my
immediate future, though I would probably deserve it more if I tried to fix the
garbage disposal first.

Also, I think the small gift certificate from
work justifies the cool red shoes
that I lust after but am not sure how much I'll wear. The similar brown ones I
bought last week have been worn once already and could have been worn more if not
for not wanting the other denizens of my shoe rack to feel

Posted by dichroic at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2002

will linking yourself make you blind?

Rowing this morning was a reenactment of Aesop's fable of the Tortoise and the
Hare. For some reason, despite the fact that this is fall and we're heading into
head race (5000m) season, everyone seemed to be doing short sprint pieces. I was
rowing at about 50% pressure, trying to just keep going and keep the water bearks
to a minimum. So they'd race past me and then stop and I'd row on by while they
sat panting. Then I'd get to the end of the lake, turn around, pass them as they
recovered, they'd race past again, and again I'd pass them when they stopped. It
would have been fairly gratifying (REALLY gratifying would be if they couldn't
pass me at all), except that on some of those passes I got mercilessly waked by
the accompanying coaching launches. It was bad; I'm stable enough in the boat that
I never came near tipping , but it does slow me down and there were a couple of
points where I was getting a tiny bit seasick.

Or maybe that was from
the late meal and lack of sleep. I've been thoroughly spoiled lately; last week I
was in training and work paid for all my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, and
Rudder's company gave us
to see the Diamondbacks beat the Rockies, from a suite. This week, I
paid for my own lunches, but on Tuesday I got to go out for a steak dinner from work (not
to mention a few extra bonuses) and last night, one of Rudder's vendors invited us
out to a really, really good steak dinner, at a place notable for the quality of
both their beef and their wine cellar. I don't know what I'll do next week when I
have to pay for all of my own meals!


If your
health insurance is a PPO and you want to find out whether a medical provider
(those would be what we used to call "doctors and nurses") participates in the
network, apparently you must ask whether they "participate" in that insurance
network, rather than whether they "accept" the insurance. Becuase I used the wrong
word, my insurance has just informed that the convenient mobile service that
provided my baseline
is actually out-of-network and therefore they will only pay $26
of the $147 claim. This was after I cleared up the part where the
insurance refused the claim because they tried to bill it in my name instead of
Rudder's -- insurance at my last job was through the same company, but that
account closed over a year ago, after they laid me off. Obviously the mammogram
company have larceny in their hearts are well, because when they billed me (in the
letter telling me insurance coverage was refused), they only billed for half the
amount they would have charged the company. Therefore, I'm sure that whatever
residual I have to pay will be much less than $147 - 26 = 121, but it still
peeves me that I have to pay anything at all over the normal copay (which is what
we used to call a "copayment"). I'll argue it down as far as possible, naturally,
but I doubt I'll win this one entirely. Sigh. So much for doing responsible
preventive medicine.

Note: I'm linking to myself all over the place
today, in honor of Kinetix,
because he's my favorite of the journalers chosen for the latest Diary Survivor. That's not entirely
fair, since there are only two people on that list I've been reading regularly,
but I have read him for a long time and he amuses me frequently.

Posted by dichroic at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2002

giddy but not smiling

"I may be a wage slave on Monday, but I'll be a free [wo]man on Sunday." -- Manchester Rambler, by Ewan MacColl

Yes, I'm looking
forward to the weekend already. I need to enjoy these next few quiet weekends,
because after that we get into regatta season and from there straight to holiday
season. Maybe we can go rock climbing, since the weather's been bee-YOO-ti-fully
cool lately. (Yesterday, it didn't even break 80! They're predicting it will go
back to 90 soon, though.)

That's for day after tomorrow. Today's
poem is much shorter: Payday, yay!! Another thing I'll miss when I become a real
employee instead of a contractor is weekly paychecks, instead of biweekly. That's
less than a month away now., and I'm scrambling to get everything done before
then. Somehow I have a feeling that my hope that things will be less busy then is
pure wishful thinking.

Since things have cooled down here, I have
been downright bubbly. Verging on giddy, even. Though apparently still not enough
to please the guy in the office who keeps telling me to smile. (Why would I be
smiling when I go to ask my boss how we'll handle getting a job finished that was
last worked on two years ago by someone who's now in another department,

Speaking of smiling, am I on target with my impression that
people who sprinkle LOLs and (smile)s randomly through emails are the same people
who giggle annoyingly and meaninglessly at the end of every sentence they

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

October 02, 2002

confused but happy

My life, or at least the technical side of it, is becoming recursive. In a demo
this morning I encountered a software modeling tool I trained to use at the start
of my last job, a mention of a military networking protocol that's the successor
to one I used when I first moved out here, and a discussion of a proprietary
simulation tool I'd used on a petrochemical project for an aerospace company (long
story). The development environment used here, by the way, is one for which I was
a customer support engineer, let me count ... three jobs ago. I would chalk it up
to aerospace being a small world, but the last job had nothing to do with
aerospace (all of the others did, admittedly, but some were peripheral). Either
I'm mired in an endless loop or all my life has been leading to this point.
Unfortunately, I can't tell which.

This next bit is for Egret -- wouldn't want her to think it will
all be downhill from newlywed bliss.

Last night was nice. After an all-day meeting, I went out to dinner with the group, having previously warned Rudder I'd be late. The food was decent, and I got not only a free meal (I know, I
know, TANSTAAFL) but a small bonus check and, mirabile dictu, a shirt in my size.
That's never happened before -- usually the smallest they have is a men's medium.
Rudder has a whole collection of shirts from my jobs. This one is not only a
small, but a women's small. Incroyable. Even better, though, was coming home.
Though it was a good hour and a half after our normal bedtime, Rudder had gotten
home from work not long before (poor boy) and was still awake. I got to tell him
about my evening and then I got to snuggle in behind him. (Yes, we tend to spoon
backwards. So what?) It's just turned nice and cool at nights, so he wasn't
sweaty, and it felt so right to be there that I began to leak slow happy tears. We
fell asleep that way. Ahhh.... now if it only weren't for that damned alarm clock.

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

October 01, 2002

coming alive

Before getting into this month's entry for Ampersand, check out yesterday's entry, which I have now fixed so it's readable.

Ampersand: When art comes alive

Somewhere in Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis tells about the thrill that went
through him as a boy when he read the Norse myths and came upon the phrase,
"Baldur the brave is dead, is dead!" He mentions other times when he felt that
shock of joy; I was expecting him to write that he'd found a more potent joy in
his religion later in life, but somehow nothing he writes about the faith for
which he was famous ever matches the profundity of those moments of wild apostate
joy in his youth. Emily of New Moon and Anne of Green Gables get the same sort of
thrill ("the flash" and "the queer ache", respectively) from the unearthly beauty
of a moonlit landscape, which leads me to believe their mutual creator did

Maybe that's just my subjective identification, because while I
have never found deep joy in a religion, I have felt -- haven't you? -- the wild
thrill of a few words that somehow strike just right, right at the heart of
things, that seem to hold the answers to secrets in their syllables. That nearly
physical sparkle down your spine. I've quoted several of them here before:
Kipling's "Something hidden. Go and find it." and Service's "Hear the challenge.
Learn the lesson. Pay the cost." There are many others: E.E. Cumming's "then
laugh, leaning back in my arms, for life's not a sentence / and death i think is
no parenthesis." Gordon Bok's "The stars are swinging slow / and the seas are
rolling easy, as they did so long ago." A couple of miscellaneous unknown quotes
stored in an old book of hand-copied poems somewhere in my library. I rarely get
stirred to the same depths by visual art -- but photos or images of the Moon, or
of Earth from space have been known to do it.

I'm not entirely sure
what does it for me, but moons and waters, unknown landscapes and most of all
wildness seem to play a big part. I think it must be different for others; I
imagine the perfect balance of a phrase or curve of a line, or an evocation of
untouched delicacy, or a portrait of deep love could be triggers for other people.
I wonder if this is the core of what art is supposed to do. I can appreciate
works, both verbal and visual, that don't give me that thrill, but not at the same
level. Maybe for a specific piece of art to really come alive for a specific
viewer there has to be that kick in the viscera. Maybe it can only be alive in
that sort of one-to-one relationship. Maybe that's what art is, but I doubt it.
Maybe that's what great art is: pieces that resound for a lot of people. Or maybe
not, but maybe it's more important for art to be alive than to be great in a more
conventional sense.

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