February 28, 2003

work woes

I may have to kill someone by the end of the day. I'm not sure who, but i have a
few candidates.

Before my company's nonviolence policy catches that
or someone still recting to Columbine panics, I should say that I have no intent
of actually inflicting physical violence on anyone (a tongue-lashing maybe) and
that the above is just a reaction to a bunch of things all going wrong at

Some changes were made herre in haste without ramifications
being considered or telling everyone affected. (Me, for one.)

On the other hand, we have a party at DrunkTina's tonight
and ours is tomorrow, so things should improve ...

Oh, yeah, and I
did a real training piece this morning, 3 19-minute pyramids. Stud-muffaletta am
I. (Appropriate for Mardi Gras weekend!)

Posted by dichroic at 11:43 AM

February 27, 2003

over and out

If we don't get some of our scheduling straightened out here, my head may explode.
I could do with a bit of Mr. Rogers' deliberate slow pace right

It's really been surprising, and gratifying, to see how much
love and respect has poured out for him all day, across the Internet and the news.
I heard of his death first thing this morning when the clock radio went off
playing NPR -- but you know NPR, they often report stories that don't show up
elsewhere, or that are glossed over. So when I was composing my href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/ripmrr.html">earlier post in my head on
the way to work, I didn't expect to be one drop in a tidal wave.

always satisfying to see someone appreciated so much for just being good
and gentle -- usually attention goes to people who are only flashy, or pretty, or
loud, or outrageous, or powerful. It's also been good to read about the honors and
thanks given to him during his life; he may have had to leave early, but he went
knowing he was beloved. I doubt he asked much more than that.

maybe some morphine. I hate to think or him dying in pain. At least stomach cancer
can be quick -- I hope it was for him.)

In an exchange of e-mails
with Batten, I wrote that I wished we
had more people in power like Mr. Rogers. If you think of it, he did have power,
or at least influence, over more people than almost anyone in a political or
business office. Batten asked in return, "Can you think of anyone else, outside
family, who influenced you more as a young child? In a positive way?" And I really

Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

RIP, Mr. R

Daniel Tiger is crying and won't be comforted. X the Owl is very solemn, as he
tries to reassure Henrietta Pussycat. Lady Elaine is swearing, but only in the
depths of the museum where no innocent ears can hear her. King Friday has
proclaimed national mourning in the Kingdom of Makebelieve.

Another member of my href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/kingsaints.html">personal pantheon is
gone, and our world has lost something we can't spare either: one of the few who
spent his whole life trying to make it better.

I confess that as a kid, I liked the faster moving Sesame Street and The Electric
Company better, and watched Mr. Rogers
mostly because he was on between them. It wasn't until much later I saw how
extraordinary he was, and how much I'd learned from him, how much I really had
internalized his words. Mr. Rogers thought I was special. Mr. Rogers thought every
kid was special. I'm not even sure why, and I feel silly about this, but I keep
bursting into tears. I knew he was getting old but I didn't know he'd been
diagnosed with stomach cancer. I wish he'd died in a way as gentle and calm as his
own show.

Please Don't Think It's Funny

(c) 1968 Fred M. Rogers

Sometimes you feel like holding your pillow all night long.

Sometimes you hug your teddybear tightly,

He's old but he's still strong.

And sometimes you want to snuggle up closely with your

own mom and dad.

At night, you even need the light sometimes,

But that's not bad.

Please don't think it's funny

When you want an extra kiss.

There are lots and lots of people

Who sometimes feel like this.

Please don't think it's funny

When you want the ones you miss.

There are lots and lots of people

Who sometimes feel like this.

Posted by dichroic at 07:50 AM

February 26, 2003

raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens and workout details

"Marathon runners talk about 'hitting the wall' at the

twenty-third mile of the race.

What rowers confront isn't a wall;

it's a hole

  • an abyss of pain,

    which opens up in the second minute of the race."

    -- John Seabrook, "Feel No Pain"

  • Yeah, screw it. I'm going to race in Long Beach. What the hell.

    My time in the race a couple of weeks ago was actually 13 seconds faster than last
    year's at Long Beach -- but I don't remember what conditions were like and anyway
    that was right after I raced a double with Hardcore. My last time isn't even too
    bad compared to the the ones at last year's Regionals -- though again, conditions
    male a difference. On the other hand, I'm not changing my basic schedule. For one
    thing, I like the variety. I like sleeping in (until 5AM!) three days of five in
    the workweek. (I usually get up at 4:30 on Wednesday so I have enough time in the
    gym, but I let myself read for a couple of minutes before getting out of bed, so
    it feels leisurely.) I like rowing on TTh instead of MWF, when there are fewer
    other boats, and more importantly fewer coaching launches creating wakes out on
    the lake. So I'll up the intensity a bit but otherwise keep diong what I'm

    I did get proof, though, that the rowing machine gives me less of a workout than a
    real boat -- not too surprising, since my erg pieces are 5000m (or 1000m if I'm
    just warming up for the gym) while I generally row at least 10,000m. Normally I
    erg on Monday and row of Tuesday but I'd switched the days this week due to an
    early meeting. This morning I went to the gym as usual and found myself erging
    faster and lifting a bit more weight than usual, and I'm thinking it probably was
    from having less of a workout the day before.

    Just to prove I am interested in things other than rowing, here's a list of some
    of my favorite things I just wrote for one of my mailing lists. It was supposed to
    be 10-15 items, but I sort of got on a roll, and ended up with ... well,
    considerably more. And I've added another one or two I'd forgotten. Or rather,
    another five or ten. Or fifteen. I'd better post this now.

    • Rudder -- I think he deserves pride of place.

    • Men, real and fictional, who insist on women who are equal partners.

    • The Internet, especially email, mailing lists, online diaries, shopping,
      and books

    • Snyder's sourdough pretzels

    • nicely bound books printed on creamy paper

    • a full or nearly full moon hanging above the lake when I'm rowing before

    • sunrise over the lake, ditto

    • my sweet boat

    • the feel of a classical guitar, all made of polished wood with silver
      and nylon strings (even if I hardly ever play any more and never did play well)

    • new books

    • free libraries

    • massages

    • the smells of rosemary, mint, pine, cut grass, cinnamon, and rain on the
      desert (hence, I really like Aveda's Rosemary Mint shampoo and conditioner)

    • summiting a mountain after hiking up it

    • seeing the world from 3000 feet above it in a small airplane

    • aircraft and spacecraft in general

    • pictures of Earth from space

    • taking pictures of clouds, mountains, and landscapes

    • skies that stretch from one horizon to the other

    • seeing rainbows

    • old books

    • getting new clothes or shoes.

    • connections in linguistics and history -- that Aha! moment when you see
      how things are related to each other

    • words in general

    • learning things

    • discussing ideas with people who know how to disagree on a point while
      still respecting a person

    • authors of books

    • wind - soft breezes, winds that carry the feel of spring or fall, winds
      heralding a storm

    • watching a fire, with the sparks shooting up, in a fireplace or
      campfire. Even forest fires are beautiful, though in a terrible way.

    • water - both the feel of being immersed and the way it reflects moons
      and skies and light.

    • hot showers when I'm freezing cold.

    • traveling and seeing new places

    • good beer

    • breathing clean air with the scent of plants instead of the usual car

    • sniffing baby hair

    • people who have strong beliefs and accept that other people believe
      differently -- and that those other beliefs might be completely right also

    • people who accept that they may be mistaken, in general

    • John Donne. Gerald Manley Hopkins. Wallace Stevens. Robert Frost. Poets
      who can say unexpected but perfectly right things, in general.

    • books on tape and tape players in cars

    • well-loved falling-apart paperback books

    • popcorn

    • down pillows and comforters

    • flannel sheets, even in summer

    • seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting -- not everyone can do all
      of these

    • running dowhill at full tilt, just for fun

      Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM


    Curse you, SWooP. There I was feeling all smug, having managed to avoid watching
    every show of everyseason of Survivor, Big Brother, American Idol, Joe
    MIllionaire, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, MTV's Real Life, that odd current
    celebrity thing, The Osbornes, and even the PBS reality shows like 1910 House, and
    probably five or 10 others I've forgotten. And then you had to mention the
    Wackiest Game Show moments. Didn't know what the show was called, but I'm pretty
    sure I caught a bit of it yesterday -- Ted had the TV on while we were getting
    ready for bed. I feel so .... sullied.

    Disclaimer: we do watch Fear
    Factor regularly, but hey, there's a reason for that. Having paid good
    money to skydive, scuba dive, ski, hang glide, bungy jump, mountain bike,
    windsurf, waterski, river raft, and kayak (not to mention jumping off a cliff or
    two for free) naturally we like shows where people get to win money for doing that
    stuff! And really, what's a bull testicle or two along the way?

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    February 25, 2003

    one of THOSE days

    Yesterday: Teaching for four hours in high heels?

    Today I'm wearing sneakers. (Black Keds with a
    slight wedge, if you're curious.)

    Today: Should have known it would
    be one of THOSE days, between the early meeting I had to shift my workouts around
    to accomodate and the five other meetings I have scheduled. (One got
    deleted, but then another two snuck in to take its place, so now I'm up to seven.)
    Off to meeting 4 in a minute or two. I know this isn't quite up to href="http://johnajohnson.diaryland.com/030211_54.html">John's as far as sheer
    numbers go, but almost as much of my time is booked. Oops, recount: that would be
    #5 I'm off to now.

    Posted by dichroic at 10:44 AM

    February 24, 2003

    four gripes

    Assorted gripes today, two rowing, one clothing, and one desk. In reverse

    Desk: My keyboard tray just caused my desk to eat my last
    entry. The tray is only slightly below the level of the desk, but sometimes the
    corner of the keyboard gets wedged under the desk. UNfortunately, this would be
    the corner with the Esc key. Did you know pressing Escape causes a diary entry to
    disappear? I do, now.

    Clothing: I picked the wrong outfit
    today. The top half is OK, but the bottom half includes a wrap skirt and heels.
    The skirt is OK when I walk, unless there's a strong wind, but tends to fall open
    when I sit, unless I arrange it very very carefully. I'll be teaching a class all
    afternoon, and I usually alternate between standing (remember the heels?) and
    sitting (remember the skirt?). And they're predicting some wind this afternoon, I

    Rowing 1, timing: I've said it before but this working for a
    living thing gets in the way of my training. Had to row today because I have an
    early meeting tomorrow. My 5K erg piece days get me in to work much earlier than
    my 10K rowing days, even though I sleep until 4 on rowing days and 5 on erg days.
    Getting up at 4AM on a Monday sucks.

    Rowing 2, philosophical:
    I knew that last race was the start of a slippery slope. Now I have to decide
    whether to race again in about a month. It would be easier to say no if I hadn't
    already raced once. The whole point of pulling back a bit was to cut my level of
    burnout, and having to make decisions all the time doesn't help.What I need is a
    firm policy, and there are three obvious ones: race; don't race; race but don't
    take it seriously. Naturally there are pros and cons to each. Not racing would
    lead to some very oring trips where I sit by a lake all day waiting to cheer for
    Rudder or a fwe other people for a few minutes at a time. Therefore, I'm leaning
    toward options 1 or 3. Option 1 clearly requires more training. As I realized in
    discussion with Rudder, training harder is painful but no more stressful than
    training lightly. The stress comes in knowing you have to train hard, and in
    worrying whether you're training hard enough. On the other hand, option 3 requires
    nothing but a willingness to look stupid (I won't fall in, but might finish DFL).
    Possibly what I need is a point somewhere on the continuum from 1 to 3; plan to
    train hard, but be kind to myself if I need a day off or a lighter day, or if my
    race finishes aren't as good as I'd like.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    February 23, 2003

    more dead trees, dammit

    Today was mostly spent at the property planting a couple of trees and sawing out
    yet another couple of dead ones. &^*&#%$ bark

    Brought some of the wood back, at least; we're having a
    Mardi Gras pary next Saturday and will probably fire up the firepit. (It's sort of
    like an extra-large round grill with sand in the bottom, and has a sort of fence
    to go around it that we generally don't use. Come to think of it, we should haul
    that out in case there are kids.)

    The party will feature deep-fried
    turkey and king cake ordered from New Orleans. Latest decision: whether to use
    disposable cups or plastic ones caught from actual parades on Bourbon Street?

    Oh, by the way, I did not go back to buy the cool clothes from yesterday. Self
    image issue or not, I realized that in the next month I will have to pay for two
    sets of car insurance (6 months' worth), two car registrations (significant in
    this state, where they tax cars as property -- probably $600 or so for the
    two) and the credit card bill for the Ireland trip airfare. And what are the odds
    I won't treat myself to something or other for my birthday, two weeks from
    tomorrow? I mean, really. So maybe this isn't the best time for more clothing I
    don't really need....

    Posted by dichroic at 06:22 PM

    February 22, 2003

    silly morality

    Went shopping today, because I had a bit of time and I felt like it. I wanted a
    pair of men's 501s, they being my most-appropriate for work jeans, and I wanted to
    look for a couple other items. A long jacket. Mascara, maybe. A bra that won't
    show under even clingy clothes (that one's an eternal quest).

    digression, since I've mentioned that before and I'm writing from home instead of
    work. I'm not comfortable posting some things from work, just in case someone
    really is watching. The reasons I have so much trouble finding the ideal bra are
    twain. I'm quite small breasted, so edges and decorations seem to show more,
    because more of the shirt is actually against my breasts. There is no deep
    cleavage there. Second, my nipples stick out -- I mean, they show even through
    most of my bras. Even when I'm not cold. But when I found one that seemed to work
    (Gap T-shirt bra, $34) I noticed that with this stiffer (though not padded)
    cup, when I slump, the cups and my body part company. I suppose the answer is not
    to slump, but how likely is that?

    End of TMI, back to regular

    At Express, a store I've never really shopped at much, I
    found a jacket. And pants to go with it, and boyfriend jeans I actually liked a
    bit better than the 501s I finally found at Sears. There was a minor problem,
    though, aside from the fact that the jacket was $128 (which is probably
    reasonable, but was more than I'd thought of spending). I'd worn a comfy old
    Henley top and my silly jeans, the ones that are so low that if I sit down
    uncarefully, someone may try to hire me a s aplumber. They're comfortable, though,
    having a high proportion of spandex. The problem was that with those jeans on and
    the top off, especially with the integral belt cinched tight (to try to avoid the
    plumber look) every tme I looked in the mirror all I saw was belly. (Well, I did
    notice some nice back muscles in one mirror angled just right.) My weight is at
    the higher end of my range just now, though I was still trying on my regular
    sizes, more or less. The Express jeans were a size up, but the dress pants were my
    usual size. Still, somehow I decided if I had gained weight, I didn't deserve more
    clothes and shouldn't buy any until it went away again.

    What the fuck
    is up with that? Since when is weight a moral issue? I don't even really believe
    that, when I stop to think about it, but apparently it's a prejudice lurking in my
    subconscious. Another one to root out -- dangerous to me, obnoxious to others, and
    just silly.

    Next choice is, do I go back and buy those clothes
    tomorrow, if I have time (somewhat doubtful) or do I decide that, stupid as my
    reasoning was, at least it kept me fiscally prudent?

    Posted by dichroic at 08:07 PM

    February 21, 2003

    Women in Love

    I've been rereading Miss Read's Gossip from Thursh Green, and little Miss
    Fogerty has got me thinking about romantic relationships between women in
    literature. No one would argue that she and her fellow teacher, coworker, and
    friend Miss Watson love each other, but when I started thinking about the ways
    they speak to and think about each other, I see no other way to interpret it than
    as romantic love. The clearest bit is when Dorothy Watson begins speaking of
    retirement. Agnes FOgerty is a bit depressed, assuming that if Miss W. retires and
    loses the school house (a house provided to a school principal) she would have to
    go back to living alone. When Miss Watson makes it clear she wants to keep living
    together, Miss Watson is elated. "How do I feel about it? Just let me get my
    breath back and I'll tell you exactly how I feel about you." If that's not a
    prelude to a staement of love, platonic though it may be, than what

    And speaking of platonic love, I was going to put in a disclaimer
    that when I say romantic love, I am not necessarily implying that the characters
    have sex. Really, though, my urge to say that is based on the fact that last time
    I wrote anything on the subject, it was in a post to my L.M. Montgomery list, a
    gorup of women who are squeamish on the subject, at least partly because of
    multiple encounters with scholars who insist all loving relationships between
    women in old books necessarily implies that the women are lesbian. My hunch is
    that it varies; I can't imagine Miss Read's little Agnes Fogarty having sex with
    anyone. On the other hand, Dorothy Sayers has a couple of charcters who are
    clearly lesbians in that they are married to each other for all practical
    purposes. In the end, as with people in real life, I find I don't much care who
    characters sleep with (and in the case of most of the people discussed below, they
    probably don't, anyway). I'm more interested in how they feel about each

    By that rationale, Miss Watson and Miss Fogarty are in love,
    and very happily so. They don't idealize each other much, but enjoy time together,
    forge a lifetime committment to each other that takes precedence over any other
    friends and relatives, and find no greater pleasure than in taking care of each
    other. It's really as happy a marriage as can be seen anywhere in life or

    Looking at Montgomery's characters, Pat of Silver Bush feels
    about her friend Bets in a way that's equally romantic, but is more of a
    schoolgirl infatuation. Then again, Pat's obsession with her house doesn't leave
    her much room to have mature human relationships with anyone except maybe Judy,
    and it's Judy who sets the tone for that one since it begins in Pat's babyhood.
    One of LMM's strengths is the individuality of her characters (though mostly only
    the female ones. Pat contrasts beautifully with Anne Shirley (Anne of Green
    Gables). Anne's feelings for Diana start as schoolgirl infatuation too -- Anne
    loves Diana with a passionate intensity and idealizes Diana with ruthless
    disregard for her actual strengths and shortcomings. But then. Anne is an orphan
    at the beginning of the books; she doesn't know anything about love or the
    different flavors love comes in. As she learns how to love in different ways (from
    Marilla, Matthew, Gilbert and Diana herself, her feelings for Diana mellow into an
    abiding but less intense friendship. She does conceive a romantic appreciation for
    Leslie later on, but that has something to do with the romantic tragedy of
    Leslie's life. Still it's worth noting that Anne's feelings for Leslie seem far
    more intense than those for her new husband Gilbert, even while they are

    Jane Austen shows the same sort of pattern, where friendly
    relations between women are deeper and more mature than romantic ones -- compare
    the feelings Jane and Elizabeth Bennethave for each other with Harriet's
    schoolgirl crush on Emma Woodhouse.

    In Louisa May Alcott, too, the
    love among women takes precedence (maybe a tiny bit of revenge for the way her
    father kept messing up the family's life for his various causes?). I always
    identify with Jo March myself (doesn't everyone?) but she's a bit of a mess as
    she grows up. In her teens, her family is the center of her life and she loves
    them intensely but in a filial/ sororal sort of way. As she grows up, she starts
    mooning over Meg ("Sometimes I'm half in love with her myself ... I wish I could
    marry her and keep her in the family.") Then she as she moves into a more equal
    relationship with her parents, she falls sort of in love with her mother. (Don't
    tell me you haven't been stopped by the line, "Mothers are the best
    lovers," even after she continues with "Though I don't mind confiding to Marmee
    I'd like to try the other kind as well.") And then she marries a classic father
    figure. This is also a contrast to Polly (the Old Fashioned Girl) who falls for a
    man she initially seems to mother but then waits for him to grow up before she
    will marry him, and to Rose (In Bloom) who rejects the man who needs a caretaker
    for one who is her equal. Still, probably Alcott's best depiction of love among
    women, romantic and otherwise is in her adult novel Work, one of those not
    well known but easier to find now. Christie is married to a man briefly, but in
    the end finds (and says so explicitly) her most satisfying relationships with

    I thought most of this out in the shower, and no doubt it's
    not nearly as profound as it seemed in there. Still, though, I find it very
    satisfying to see Miss Fogarty and Miss Watson acknowledge the depths of their
    feelings for each other. I like seeing that in the same book, Jenny doesn't ditch
    her happy life (a friendship, but neither egalitarian nor romantic) with Mrs.
    Bailey when a man comes a-calling. I like knowing that Agnes Fogarty will never
    have to go back to lonely lodgings and that she will always have someone to care
    for. And I find it artistically pleasing that all these different relationships
    exist in the same book, and one type isn't better than another. I'm not claiming
    Miss R is a better writer than Miss A, LMA, or LMM -- that would be silly. But the
    easy acceptance of difference in her world (though only some kinds of difference,
    admittedly) is one of the things that makes it so comforting.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM


    I just figureed out one possible explanation for why I have been so damned
    tired all week ... coupled with the little birth-control mixup earlier this
    week. (I took one pill by mistake in the middle of my off week due to extreme
    brain farts, so had to skip SUnday and start the new pack

    You don't suppose? Nahhhhhh....

    Maybe it was
    just the pill mixup by itself causing mimicking symptoms.

    Posted by dichroic at 08:16 AM

    February 20, 2003

    obsession: not just a perfume anymore

    The Ampersand topic
    this month is "Why the obsession with..." so I figured I'd be completely mundane
    and obvious with this one. Besides, I'm tired of writing about the war news, the
    other obvious topic - though I was reassured yesterday to hear Paul Wolfowitz, one
    of the more hawkish members of the Administration, say that war will only be used
    as a very last resort. If they keep remembering that, we may still be OK. It's
    when they start sounding like Teddy Roosevelt in his days as Naval Secretary, when
    he really thought war in itself was a Good Thing, that I get nervous. I do like
    the idea of a new resolution with an actual deadline date attached. Arguing over
    what's long enough is stupid -- set a real date.

    Anyway, back to the
    scheduled topic.

    I won't write about books either, because I don't
    consider them an obsession but a way of life. I read. It's what I do, other than
    sleep. I read books, magazines, diaries, online articles, these entries as I type
    them, technical stuff for work, emails, comics, and more books. I always think of
    somethig a former coworker said about his daughter-in-law: "She sings. It's what
    she does -- it's very nearly who she is." That's how I read.

    back to the scheduled topic.

    I suppose the reading thing comes from
    an obsession with words in general, to the point that after coming across the word
    in the middle of yesterday, I actually looked it up in the unabridged
    dictionary last night. In general I'm terrible about remembering things from one
    part of the day to another, but this was a word thing so remembering was easy.
    (Though as it turned out, the &^*^&% word wasn't even in the biggest dicker I

    Anyway, back to the scheduled topic.

    Yes, the
    obsession with rowing does fall below the obsession with words for me, and maybe
    even below the obsession with war for politicians. But it is the one where "why?"
    is a hard question. I know why I read; the benefits have been and are enormous.
    I'm not quite sure why I row. It leaves me tired, sore, and less alert than i
    should be. It requires me to get up well before an hour that normal people
    consider obscene. It's bitter cold in winter, even in Arizona, and annoyingly hot
    in summer, even at 5AM. It tears up my hands. And I'll probably never win many
    races because I was just born with the wrong body for my sport. (Don't tell me
    about the 5'4" woman on the Aussie National Crew, or about your 5'6" daughter
    who's captain of her college eight. There's a reason they keep writing articles
    calling them "the hardest working people in rowing". I have a job, quite a
    responsible one. I don't have time to be the hardest working 5'2" rower anyone's
    ever seen, and anyway I don't think I want to.)

    So why don't I quit?
    Fear, partly. I'm afraid if I quit that all the endurance and cardiovascular
    fitness I've worked on so hard would fly away like a wee skylark. I don't worry
    that I'd get fat (I'd probably lose weight, in fact) but losing my fitness, such
    as it is, would be worse. I worry that I'd never seen Rudder. He's hoping to go to
    Nationals this year (he DOES win races). If I kept a normal schedule and he kept a
    rowing one, we'd never be awake at the same times. I worry that if I quit,
    everyone would think I was a weenie, and by "everyone", I mostly mean, in my
    solipsistic way, "me".

    So what do I get out of it? That's harder. An
    extended local family, some of whom annoy me even more than my real family. The
    aforementioned endurance -- not a ton of it but a lot for me. The feeling of
    knowing I'm good (though not fast!) at something most people can't do at all.
    Sunrises over water. Another set of jargon. Something to strive for. A shared
    interest with my husband. And there was my old friend the moon this morning......

    Posted by dichroic at 12:38 PM

    February 19, 2003


    The dose I got of Langston Hughes this morning (the same one I kindly but
    illicitly passed on
    to all y'all) reminded me: this is what poetry is for. What power he had in
    his words.

    I love what words and logic can do. I hate when they bite
    me back. Today at lunch, my most petted of pet peeves was pulled on me. I hate
    like hell being condescended to, an unfortunate combination with my having the
    prickly sort of psyche that finds patronage in what was probably intended to be a
    kindly sharing of information.

    I'm standing there
    looking through my change after paying for lunch.

    Total Stranger,
    male of course: Do you collect the new quarters?

    Me: Not collect,
    really, just trying to see what I have here.

    TSmoc: Do you know what
    to look for?

    Me: Actually, I don't know what the latest one for this
    year is. [Hoping he'd tell me.]

    TSmoc: Well, it's not just the year.
    Look here. [pulls out a quarter] See, look here under the year -- there's a little
    tiny letter there, see?

    Me [coolly]: Oh, you mean the mint

    TSmoc: Uh, yeah. The 'P' ones are really hard to find, so those
    are the ones to look for.

    Me: No they're not!

    [looks puzzled]

    Me: My whole family lives in

    I mean, come on. Who doesn't know what a
    mint mark is? Dad had me looking for those on his coin collection when I was a
    wee(er) thing, because the tiny letter hurt his eyes.

    But yeah, I
    know, the guy wasn't really assuming I'm an idiot, just sharing what he apparently
    thought was cool esoteric information. Maybe my pet peeve is just people who have
    a low threshold of the esoteric.

    The worst thing is, I've been
    accused of being patronizing for doing just about the same thing. I suppose I feel
    that other people should just naturally see I'm not intending be that way, just
    taking delight in sharing a bit of esoteric information. Damn, I hate when logic
    bites me in the ass.

    On the other hand, if people would just assume I
    know everything, or will ask if I don't, we'd all get along just fine. Start at a
    high level and I'll bring it down if necessary -- I don't mind looking stupid when
    I actually am. Can I reconfigure the world that way?

    Posted by dichroic at 12:36 PM

    a bit of Hughes

    Let America Be America Again

    Langston Hughes

    Let America be America again.

    Let it be the dream it used to be.

    Let it be the pioneer on the plain

    Seeking a home where he himself is free.

    (America never was America to me.)

    Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--

    Let it be that great strong land of love

    Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

    That any man be crushed by one above.

    (It never was America to me.)

    O, let my land be a land where Liberty

    Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

    But opportunity is real, and life is free,

    Equality is in the air we breathe.

    (There's never been equality for me,

    Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

    Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

    And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

    I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

    I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.

    I am the red man driven from the land,

    I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--

    And finding only the same old stupid plan

    Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

    I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

    Tangled in that ancient endless chain

    Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

    Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

    Of work the men! Of take the pay!

    Of owning everything for one's own greed!

    I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

    I am the worker sold to the machine.

    I am the Negro, servant to you all.

    I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--

    Hungry yet today despite the dream.

    Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!

    I am the man who never got ahead,

    The poorest worker bartered through the years.

    Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream

    In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

    Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

    That even yet its mighty daring sings

    In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

    That's made America the land it has become.

    O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas

    In search of what I meant to be my home--

    For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,

    And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,

    And torn from Black Africa's strand I came

    To build a "homeland of the free."

    The free?

    Who said the free? Not me?

    Surely not me? The millions on relief today?

    The millions shot down when we strike?

    The millions who have nothing for our pay?

    For all the dreams we've dreamed

    And all the songs we've sung

    And all the hopes we've held

    And all the flags we've hung,

    The millions who have nothing for our pay--

    Except the dream that's almost dead today.

    O, let America be America again--

    The land that never has been yet--

    And yet must be--the land where every man is free.

    The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--

    Who made America,

    Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

    Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

    Must bring back our mighty dream again.

    Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--

    The steel of freedom does not stain.

    From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,

    We must take back our land again,


    O, yes,

    I say it plain,

    America never was America to me,

    And yet I swear this oath--

    America will be!

    Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

    The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

    We, the people, must redeem

    The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

    The mountains and the endless plain--

    All, all the stretch of these great green states--

    And make America again!

    Hghes wrote this in the Depression, of course. What does happen to a dream

    Posted by dichroic at 07:43 AM

    February 18, 2003

    Atlas shrugged (well, maybe not Atlas)

    Well. Yesterday I wrote
    about how all the protests on Sunday should have been, and weren't, in the
    national news. Thery were in the news today, but I am not reassured. The headline
    on Reuters is href="http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=578&e=2&cid=578&u=/nm/20030
    218/ts_nm/iraq_usa_dc">Bush Shrugs Off Global Antiwar Protests
    . Six million
    people, a number that resonates to any one as saturated in "Never again!" stories
    of the Holocaust as I am -- only, this time it's six million standing for life.
    And in another parallel to WWII is the Louis MacNeice poem href="http://mechaieh.diaryland.com/021803.html">Mechaieh quoted today. Ouch,
    ouch, ouch. Here we go Santayana-ing again. (As in, "Those who do not know

    On the plus side I rowed almost 13,000 meters this
    morning. This is not of importance to anyone but me, but in times like these
    (maybe times like any) you have to take small victories where you find them. I'm
    listening to How the Irish Saved Civilization, which I've either heard or
    read before, but somehow I don't remember its being this good .. or finding this
    many parallels to our times. I've only just gotten through the first chapter, on
    Rome and its decline, and have concluded I really need to read all of St.
    Augustine's Confessions, and probably buy it. My library is very catholic, with a
    small 'c'.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    February 17, 2003

    the race report

    There's an entry from earlier today href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/donanobis.html">here.

    one's more global, about the antiwar protests and the news coverage, but I did
    also want to talk about the more immediate issue of my race this

    I came in third of four, as I'd more or less hoped: behind a
    large girl from Texas and Dr. Bosun, but ahead of Hardcore, the only other
    lightweight in the race, so I'm happy with that. There are a lot of oddities in
    the way AUssieCoach set up the race though. I could gloat that I won the
    lightweight division, but ... he had at least one other W1X race, 2000m instead of
    the 1000m I raced, and there's a woman who raced in that who might be a
    lightweight. There were supposed to be two others who are down here training for
    Nationals in the Ltwt W2X -- in other words, the single isn't their primary event
    but it's very similar to the boat that is, so there's no question they'd beat me
    by boatlengths and boatlengths. They declined to row that race, though, because as
    a matter of teamwork they don't compete against each other. Sensible.

    Also, the Texan woman in my race (who won) really probably shouldn't
    have been there, because it's a Master's race and there's no way she was 27.
    Apparently in several races AussieCoach listed people as being 27 just to give
    them a place to compete. Stupid, because he could as well have raced her as a 21-
    26 year old with a negative handicap, by current US Rowing Association rules. In
    other words, he appears to have just put races together however he thought they'd
    work, in defiance of any actual age or weight categories, at random distances (1K
    or 2K) which makes the whole thing hard to take seriously. Though the 2K race may
    have been classed as Open instead of Masters, which would make more

    If you're not a rower and you've read that far, your eyes have
    glazed over by now. It gets worse though - I was happy with my placement, but not
    with my time. There's something about the latter I don't understand, though. They
    timed me at 4:45 for the 1K. I forgot to zero my StrokeCoach at the start of the
    race. It was running, though, so I could look back in the memory for my average
    time in each 100 meters. I did the math and ended up with an average split
    (predicted time to row 500m) or 2:08, which would give me a time of about 4:16 for
    the race. Sometimes races vary in length, but this was a buoyed course, so
    couldn't vary much. So now I don't know if the timers were slow or my computer is
    off. I'm sure if they were slow it would have been consistent so that it wouldn't
    affect the race results, but I'd like to know about those times. I suppose
    miscalibration is more likely, though. *sigh*

    And then Rudder asked
    to look at the StrokeCoach and accidentally reset it -- oops! I think he was
    scared of my avenging wrath, but I'd already done the math to check my time. Lucky
    for him.

    Posted by dichroic at 12:47 PM

    dona nobis pacem

    It annoys and worries me that I have seen nothing in the general global
    news about protests yesterday ...

    and yet the href="http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=330&e=1&cid=330&u=/kr/20030
    says 10,000 gathered there (one of the largest peace demonstrations
    in city history -- and on a day of record snowstorms), href="http://thistledown.diaryland.com">Thistledown and Paisleypiper say it
    was 1600 in their city (a small Midwest city, I think), and href="http://www.livejournal.com/users/angiej">Ebony says it was 5,000 in
    Detroit. An article on NPR Friday spoke of protests in San Francisco and of how
    people with widely varying beliefs were marching together, united only by a wish
    for peace.

    This is Americans, not "just" those foreign people the US government seems to take
    little account of. These are the people who vote our governments in ... or out.
    But it's not just Americans; I checked the London Times and there were protests
    there too yesterday, though I could only find it mentioned in an opinion column
    (he was against it).

    I'm still a tiny bit equivocal, because I keep thinking of WWII, of what would
    have happened to my people and others had other countries not fought Hitler, and
    of how pusillanimous we now thing Chamberlain and the other appeasers were in
    1938. On the other hand, that was when Hitler was marching into Poland, Austria,
    and Czechoslovakia; we did interfere when Saddam marched on Kuwait, but at the
    moment he's not marching on anyone. Or wasn't until he called for kamikazi attacks
    on American after we tried to bring the world to war on him. The situations
    are not really parallel, and trying to force them to be could be

    So the people in the US as well as abroad are calling for peace. And these are
    serious numbers; 5000 here, 10000 there, and the numbers add up to hordes. And one
    comment I saw in a few places was "this is what democracy looks like," with people
    of all races, beliefs, and income levels marching. The sixties did bring real
    change, when it was just one segment of society protesting; I hope it doesn't take
    as long as it did then. Do I think Bush is listening? No, I don't, not based on
    his record. But I hope he will be forced to listen. And I hope Fred Small was
    right when he sang:

    Many years ago, I heard a soldier say,

    When the people want peace,

    Better get out of the way

    But it's less likely to happen if it's not even in the news.

    Posted by dichroic at 08:14 AM

    February 15, 2003

    here goes something ... I hope

    Practiced some racing starts, just so tomorrow's race wouldn't be my first one all
    season. Then we went to Sam's, to start the shopping for our Mardi Gras party in
    two weeks, which involved more heavy lifting than we probably ought to do the day
    before a race.

    But, well, anyway, here goes.

    Posted by dichroic at 03:19 PM

    February 14, 2003


    Well, I'll be racing this weekend. I wasn't expecting to, planning to, training
    to, or even particularly wanting to, but it seems that I'm going to.

    I'm not really training or planning to race at all this spring --
    maybe in summer. I did consider doing this one, because it's local; the final
    thing that made my decision was when they said thes races would all be 2000m. The
    standard Master's racing distance is only 1K, and I'm better over shorter

    Rudder mentioned that part of it to AussieCoach, who's
    setting up our local href=http://www.riosaladorowing.org/html/index.php">regatta. AC emailed me
    just a day or so ago to tell me that he'd signed me up for a race, having changed
    the W1X distance to 1K. I was annoyed to be told instead of asked to race, and
    told him so, but he'd implied that he'd done it because he needed more competition
    in my category. I couldn't refuse, because of course we all try to support the
    sport locally and give a good race to people coming here from elsewhere -- in fact
    there's someone all the way from Dallas in my event.

    I am one of the
    best rowers on the lake in terms of form, mostly because I've done this for longer
    than most people here. However, I'm not anywhere near one of the fastest, because
    I'm not one of the tallest, strongest or fittest people out here. But because I'm
    experienced, they know I can race at the drop of a hat -- may not do well, but I
    won't fall in or anything.

    So I guess I'm racing. Oldtimer just asked
    me to race a double with him; which I emphatically don't want to do. It would be a
    very slow boat and the competition is stiff -- Rudder's been practicing in a
    double with She-Hulk. Fortunately it's right after my singles race so I can't do
    it anyway.

    The real test will be the competition against Hardcore. I
    don't know the woman from Dallas. I know exactly where I stand against Dr. Bosum;
    she's a little faster in a club boat and should beat me easily if her own new top-
    of-the-line boat has come in, but then she's much bigger. Hardcore is my size, and
    has the same exact (excellent) boat. She's been rowing a lot more than I have
    lately, but is less experienced. Don't know if she's trained to race the single.
    She's tougher than I am mentally(having raised 4 kids, been a nurse for years, and
    run marathons) but isn't in the ideal shape I've seen her in other years. Or
    wasn't a few weeks ago. Her endurance is much better but this is a sprint. On the
    other hand, having not expected to race until the last minute and then had a rainy
    week, I haven't done a single racing start this year. Should be interesting.

    Posted by dichroic at 12:06 PM

    mountains floating

    It's been raining here for three days now. We've got some flooding. This doesn't
    happen much in the desert; to give you some idea, we've just gone from way behind
    on rainfall to a=over an inch ahead of where we ought to be for the year. This
    isn't quite enough to bring us out of our four-year drought,

    The rain had paused during my drive in this morning, but it
    was a good thing I took the truck because, while the freeways were fine, the back
    road I take to work was a wading pool. Rudder offered to let me take the Orange
    Crush; I didn't take him up on it because there would have been too many bells and
    whistles I haven't figured out yet -- though its better defrosters would have come
    in handy. Rudder gets Valentine points for offering, though.

    The best
    part of the drive in was that, though the rain had stopped, a fog came up in the
    fields, so that the mountains were sitting on clouds instead of the other way

    Posted by dichroic at 09:01 AM

    February 13, 2003

    the first boy I loved

    On Monday I got another treasure box from Amazon. (Don't look at me like that. I ordered it before I'd even heard of the used book sale) I've been listening to CDs from it even since Garnet Rogers (Stan's brother) and Gordon Bok, Greg Brown and even Johnny Cash. (The last because how could I resist an album combining "Danny Boy" with Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus"??) This morning I was listening to the best of Richard and Linda Thompson, which makes it crystal clear why he's regarded as a guitar wizard, as well as why it was a tragedy when she lost her voice. (It's back. She's got a new solo album out.)

    For some reason in the twists of memory, the song "A Heart Needs a Home" got me thinking of the first (and only other) time I fell in love. I was debating whether to write about it here, as the other person concerned has this URL, but it's all ancient history by now and while we may remember things differently and experienced some of them differently even at the time, I don't really have anything negative to say.

    It hit me hard, because you know, I was at that sort of age, and maybe because I hadn't really dated in high school. (I didn't in college, either, but only because socializing mostly divided into Beer and Bed, and the former were group outings.) When it did hit, it was sudden. We had been friends, just friends for most of my freshman year. Suddenly the world looked like the inside of a Christmas ornament, all perfect and shiny and reflective. Suddenly I was Juliet, and never mind how things turned out for her. I was Iseult, and Guinever and Eve and every romantic heroine, except that this time it was Meant to Be and there would never be any unhappy ending.

    There was, of course. He broke it up in spring of my Sophomore year. I can't even remember now if he broke it up because he fell for someone else or if that happened right afterward, but of course that was the heartbreakingest part. And oh, how my heart did break. I cried every night -- though never to my parents, even though I went home for the summer, partly because by then they had become irrelevant to my emotional life and partly because they'd been so prejudiced against the whole relationship even when we were just friends that I'd never come out and admitted when it went beyond that. I think that hurt him more than he told me at the time, too, and it certanly forever lowered my opinion of my parents. The Other Girl dumped him that summer and he used to cry on my virtual shoulder, over the phone, which scraped the scab rawer but led to us hooking back up. Even that second time, things were never as pretty and shiny as they had been at first and as we went on and off over the rest of my college career we'd probably have been much better off forgetting romance and just being "friends with benefits". At least one other guy I was seeing broke it off because I still spent so much time with the First Guy, even in our "off" times -- we worked and had classes together too.

    I'll come back and add more here later but I have a meeting now. I'll abbreviate for the moment by saying how glad I am it all happened and how much narrower my life would have been without his early influence.

    Posted by dichroic at 03:59 PM

    The First Boy I Loved, Part II

    Part II of The First Boy I Loved

    (Part I is here.)

    We spent a lot of the rest of college together too, even when we weren't officially "on" as a couple. We were pretty much best friends except during that first painful breakup. After the last breakup, the one after we were out of school (the one where we probably do remember it differently), we got out of touch for a while, but we do e-mail each other these days.

    The reason I'm writing about this, besides the sweet memories a song brought up and the fact that everyone seems to be doing it for Valentine's Day, is that the whole experience opened my world -- not the falling in love part, but the boy himself. I know I had an effect on him -- it was his First Love too -- but not, I think, as profound as the one he had on me. He introduced me to the music I still listen to, as you can tell from the music that got this reflection started. He and his family showed me a whole new way to live. They lived in a much bigger space than my family did, not just physically (they were much richer) but metaphorically too. They traveled the world. When something needed to be built or changed or bought, they did it instead of doing without and just complaining about the lack. The boy went places too, without dithering about it, built shelves into his room in the student apartment (his roommate built an entire loft into his room), drove distances casually that my parents would consider an expedition. His parents were probably not thrilled about me (not Catholic, poor (to them) family) but they accepted me comfortably, fed me whenever I was around, didn't even seem to mind my sleeping over. (My parents would've plotzed!)

    The "in love" part was a learning experience too, and certainly my relationship with Rudder grew more easily because I'd gotten some of the learning (of what not to do) out of the way already. He's been married for years now too, and seems happy -- I hope his practice with and on me helped there too.

    So I'm glad it all happened; the only thing I'd change is that I wish we'd ended it a bit more conclusively after about the second breakup, when it would have been easier to end the romance without interrupting the friendship. I treated a couple of other people badly by running back to the First Boy at the wrong times, and I regret that. That pales, though, compared to how much I'd have to regret if it all hadn't happened.

    February 12, 2003

    still equivocal

    This whole war thing is really bugging me. I actually agree that Saddam is an evil
    man and a menace, but I'm not sure that the problem is ours to solve at this time.
    Or maybe just not ours alone. It worries me when we scornfully reject proposals to
    use diplomacy. If we rejected those proposals is a measured fashion with logical
    arguments, even, I'd feel easier. Colin Powell's presentation helped, but why
    didn't we start there instead of ending there?

    I do agree that we
    need to fight terrorism directed against us. And we may need to attack Saddam for
    that reason, -- now -- since he's been calling for suicide attacks against us. And
    no matter what we did to him, that doesn't excuse calling for those attacks. But,
    well, if you're fighting a wild pig, you don't corner it, because you know
    that's when it's most dangerous. I am not a diplomat; I have little skill at
    manipulating people. But we are supposed to have diplomats who are smart about
    that -- if I can see this is a bad plan, why can't they? Plenty of the other Arab
    states dislike Saddam as a bad Muslim -- wouldn't it have been more productive to
    target that weakness?

    I can't get away from feeling that this is all
    a result of George Bush trying to compensate for a small dick. That accounts for
    both the scorn toward proposals of diplomacy, the irrational drive to attack Iraq
    and ignore Korea and the vicious total war plans they've been hinting at. The idea
    that people will die because of a man mired in a puerile insecurity upsets and
    offends me more than anything. I keep hoping for proof that I'm wrong, waiting for
    Colin to explain why Iran and not Korea, waiting for the allies to draw a firm
    line -- displomacy "thus far and no further" and it hasn't happened, and hasn't
    happened, and still hasn't happened.

    I want to be governed by
    people who are smarter than I am, or at least as smart and better informed. Where
    are they?

    Posted by dichroic at 11:56 AM

    February 11, 2003

    productive morning

    Today I'm anchoring a class, but not teaching any modules, which means I sit here while other people teach, to make sure everything is flowing smoothly and to provide continuity. I have my laptop and a network connection, so it's actually not an entirely unproductive way to spend a day. I confess that so far this morning, though, most of my productivity has been channeled toward the following.

    This one is dedicated to the Spartan mothers, Martha Jefferson, who died at least partly through trying to provide an heir for Tom, and to Erlenweg6 at Diaryland), though I still hope it will not apply to her. (For that reason, even though it was something she wrote that sparked the poem, I'm not linking to her. I don't think it's something she needs to see, just as a matter of her own peace of mind. Send good thoughts her way, and to her son Nolan.)

    A Mother's Loss

    Ancient Greece
    Each Spartan matron told her warrior son
    Not to come back, unless with his shield or on it.
    I wonder, when the chroniclers were not looking,
    Later, each by her own private hearth,
    If each cried out,
    "Oh, my son!"

    They told me not to love him, said I had to bear a-many
    Told me I would lose a child for every one I kept.
    But he kicked his way to life beneath my breastbone
    Grew stronger, bigger, feeding from my body.
    How could I not love him? -- and now he's leaving.
    Don't tell me stories about Heaven
    God doesn't need my child as much as I do.
    Oh, my baby! How can I keep him?
    My son, my little boy.

    I never even thought of this. We've
    Got miracle medicine now. It's not
    Supposed to happen in this age. How? Why?
    Who sneaked the age-old Horsemen
    In, past the white-coated guardians?
    And why, why, why my son? My baby,
    I brought him to life once
    And would again. If it killed me,
    I would do it. I can't.
    And that may kill me too.
    Oh, my son, how can I hold you?

    And here's a terza rima for antidote:

    Water and ice, a cold-burning purity
    Frozen, spear-bright, sharded light.
    Life's edge, no comfort, no security.

    The Boreal: the land of clean and white,
    Throbbing colors, sheets of light above
    Living heat bewrayed by frigid night;

    Auroral warmth is chilled by far remove.
    Taran-taran-taran! the call implicit in the air
    Is to the explorers, unafraid to love,

    Where love is not returned. The harsh land here
    Will be no easy lover. Small return
    Requites the hungry lure of the austere.

    Utter North, so cold that cold can burn,
    A study in chiaroscuro, stark,
    Clear boundaries defined at every turn.

    Yet still Aurora, throbbing in the dark,
    And lichens at life's outmost bound demarked,
    Belie the snuffing of life's stubborn spark.

    Now, what do I do this afternoon?
    Oops -- almost forgot to thank Baf - - that dollie there in the sidebar in the extra-bright uni is adapted from one she made for me. (I added muscles and slimmed her a tiny bit. Yes, I'm vain.)
    Posted by dichroic at 12:28 PM

    February 10, 2003

    why they do it

    I've always figured teachers choose their field for one of two reasons: either
    educating young minds is the most important thing they can think of to spend a
    lifetime doing, or they can't think of anything better to go into. If you're
    lucky, you get more of the former than the latter in your educational

    I'm anchoring class today and tomorrow, which means I keep it
    running as teachers cycle in and out to teach different modules in addition to
    teaching a couple of modules. After running a class all morning, I've come up with
    a third reason people go into education: power. Think about it: they're
    stuck there all day. I can speed things up or slow them down, try to
    interest them or not, and because they'll be required to use this stuff, they have
    to at least try to listen.

    Now, there are limits in my power. If I
    teach a bunch of crap, these people will tell me so, and will tell their bosses
    so. If I were stupid and mean enough to tell them they can't take bathroom breaks,
    they'll laugh at me and go anyway. Good thing, because I don't want that sort of

    But now think back to first grade. The rumor of a second
    grade teacher who wouldn't excuse you, ever, was terrifying, and you didn't have
    the experience to realize few teachers really want puddles on their classroom
    floors. You had to have a pass to walk the ahlls, so you couldn't just sneak out.
    You could be kept after school or during recess. And you had to believe what the
    teacher said, because you didn't have any reference to compare her to. (Especially
    if all the reference books had words too big for you to read.) Pure power. And
    every school had at least one who did abuse the power enough that the kids were
    scared of her. I wonder if they still do, or if increased scrutiny on teachers has
    ended that. Thank goodness for all the rest of them ... but why didn't they stop
    the power-hungry ones? What did they talk about in the teachers' lounge?

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    February 09, 2003

    Record of Acquisitions

    Today I went halfway through Phoenix (meaning, I drove almost as far as I do to
    work) for a mondo used book sale that is apparently held every year by local
    charity. This thing filled one of the exhibit buildings; I'd guess it covered at
    least an acre. I spent $48.50 on eighteen pounds of books, (yes, I weighed
    them when I got home) which gave me a new understanding of Anne Fadiman's essay in
    which she describes a birthday when her husband took her to a new (to them) used
    book store and they emerged with nineteen pounds of used books. In case you have
    not had the pleasure of a similar haul, I can report that eighteen pounds of
    books, carried in plastic shopping bags, is fully enough to stretch one's arms by
    a couple of inches. Next year -- you bet I'm going back! - I will either grab one
    of the few shopping carts they have there or take an old suitcase on

    Actually, of the money I spent, $40 was on three books in
    the Rare and Used section. I've rated the conditions mostly for fun, and tried to
    rate on the low side:

    • The Master of Ballantrae, by Robert
      Louis Stevenson, $8. Fine to VG 4to, blue cloth binding, no DJ. The pages look
      new, but there's just a tiny bit of wear on the bottom edges of the binding. It's
      a Heritage Press edition, from 1965. I haven't read much RLS, and have always
      figured I probably should.
    • Barchester Towers, by
      Anthony Trollope, $4. Fine 8vo, except maybe a little dirt in the rough page
      edges. Leatherbound edition from the International Collectors Library, not dated.
      No DJ, but it's still got the insert describing how the binding was copied from an
      1891 edition of some other book entirely (WTF?), so I doubt it's even been read.
      There is a tiny bit of scuffing to the edges of the pasted endpapers, though. I
      like what Trollope I've read and expect to find this one much easier on the eyes
      than some of the tiny-printed modern editions I've seen.
    • My
      real indulgence: The Oxford Book of English Verse, chosen and edited by Sir
      Arthur Quiller Couch. It's a frivolous use of $26 because I only just bought a
      copy of the book from Powell's -- but I couldn't resist. It's VG -- only a little
      bit of wear the gilding on the pages' edges -- with a Good DJ, in a nice little
      dark-blue 16mo that I think is copied from the original 1900 binding. Now I have
      to decide whether to sell one of my duplicates, take one to work, or maybe just
      give one away.

    The other thirteen books cost me a
    grand total of $8.50. Most of them were marked $.50 to $1, only a
    couple were $2 or $3, and though the sale only lasts one weekend, they
    mark everything except the Rare and Unusuals at half price on Sunday. Yee-

    • Boswell's Life of Johnson: the only pb I bought,
      but it's in almost perfect shape -- looks like someone bought for a class and
      opened it but never quite read all the way through. It's abridged (by Frank Brady)
      but I have a feeling that may be all to the good. That is, if Brady didn't do the
      sort of expurgation poor Sam'l Pepys seems so subject to, but I have a feeling
      Boswell was less prone to showing his idol as having any coarseness anyway,
      despite Johnson's own writings.
    • Kitty Foyle, by
      Christopher Morley, because I like the Parnassus books and especially the his book
      about Philadelphia. Good condition, clothbound 8vo, quite possibly a 1st ed -- all
      it says is Copyright 1939. Has an address label from a previous owner, that
      unfortunately came up with the price tag, but that is old enough not to have a zip
    • Upstairs, Downstairs, by John Hawkeworth,
      because whatthehell, someone liked it enough to make a TV show out of. (Someone on
      PBS (or was it BBC?) so there may be some taste involved. VG 8vo with Good
    • Mrs. 'Arris Goes to New York, by Paul Gallico. I
      like Gallico; a few of his books, like For the Love of Seven Dolls, were a
      wee bit disturbing (though still good) but the predeccor to this one was nothing
      but charming. A 16mo (I measured!) VG with Good DJ. I expect to enjoy this quite a
      lot, but only for about half an hour or so.
    • Deafness and
      , by A.W. Jackson. Good to VG but for a tiny bit of wear on the
      binding corners, in miraculous condition for something that appears to be the
      original 1901 pressing. Has names of two previous owners, both of which look to be
      written with dip pens. An odd little book I'd never heard of, about dealing with
      becoming deaf. No idea hy I bought it except that it looked interesting and cost
      only about a quarter. I'd give it to my mother-in-law, who does have hearing loss,
      but am not sure if she'd like it.
    • "Where Did You Go?"
      "Out" "What Did You Do?" "Nothing"
      , by Robert Paul Smith. VG 8vo with Fair DJ.
      Looked amusing -- written in the 1950s about being a kid in the 1920s.
    • Auntie Mame, by Patrick Dennis. Good ex-library 8vo,
      with DJ and plastic cover. I've always liked both the msical and the book
      (previously read from the library, but picked this up mostly because I had just
    • Around the World With Auntie Mame, by
      Patrick Dennis. Good 8vo, in cloth binding. Never read this one before -- I didn't
      even know it existed.
    • Famous Prefaces. My second
      volume from the Harvard Classics, but this one is leatherbound and would be Fine
      if the cover hadn't cracked near the spine. (Well, there's also a pulled-off-a-
      full-shelf indent in the top of the spine.) Prefaces from Caxton, Knox, Raleigh,
      Newton, Hugo, Whitman, and others. It seems like an odd choice of things to
      collect, but should be interesting to read.
    • The State of
      the Language
      , ed. by Leonard Michaels and Christopher Ricks. Never heard of
      either, or most of the writers they include (barring Kingsley Amis and Anthony
      Burgess), but I have an abiding interest in the English language and its changes,
      and a shelf of books on the subject. Fine 8vo with a Good
    • Penrod Jashber, by Booth Tarkington. Fair to
      Good, no DJ. I like Tarkington, I like Penrod, and I didn't know about this one
    • The Nursery Rhyme Murders, by Agatha
      Christie. VG, with what would be a Good DJ but I got a bit of water on it while
      carrying it in from the truck, so we'll see. Dame Agatha's were the only adult
      mysteries I read for years and years, which may be just as well because I could
      read them at 10, when I might have been too callow for Sayers. I still like and
      enjoy her, though she doesn't inspire love as DLS does. This is a collection of
      three books whose titles are based on nursery rhymes: A Pocket Full of Rye,
      Hickory Dickory Death, and The Crooked House, so I get Poirot and
      Marple as well as Inspector Tavernor (of whom I've never
    • And finally, The Life and Times of Hercule
      , by Anne Hart. Fine, ex-library with DJ and plastic cover. My Christie-
      only days were pretty much also Poirot only, though I gradually learned to like
      Miss Marple even better, so I expect I'll enjoy this if Hart has done a decent

    Rudder has already pointed out that $48 for 13
    books is not such a bargain if they require spending several hundred dollars for
    another bookshelf! The hard decision will be whether to sign my name in them. I
    have been doing so with new books, because I buy my books to read, not to sell,
    and because I enjoy seeing former owners' names in my used books. But in some of
    these cases, a name could really reduce the value of the book. Maybe I'll sign
    them, but use pencil in cases where it might matter. What do you all do?

    Posted by dichroic at 12:49 PM

    February 08, 2003

    monolithic. that's me

    I have just deleted the following entry from my LiveJournal page. I don't
    want to have two separate journals; I don't have a project or a volume of
    writing or photographic work I need to shelve elsewhere and I don't have any
    secrets I want to share with only a fwe people. To split a journal other that
    feels to me like dividing up my life or my persona and I can't imagine any good
    coming of it. It feels like it would be untrue to myself. (None of this is meant
    to be a reflection on anyone else; there are people I respect who have as many as
    four journals and they have good reasons of their own. This is just about me.)

    And so I've deleted the entry I wrote there, leaving up only a
    description of myself pointing a casual reader here for more details. I'm not
    saying I'll never move from here; I can imagine wanting my own domain someday,
    though right now this is more convenient. And I'm not saying I'll never split this
    page, just that right now I can't imagine why I would.

    However, I did
    capture some thoughts about my current fuzzy state and about possible overtraining
    that I wanted to save, so the erased entry is below.

    Posted by dichroic at 06:51 PM

    hanging out

    For the record, I just got a 180 on href=http://www.eskimo.com/~miyaguch/schmies.html">this test. Told you
    I was a word person.

    Just don't call me an English

    Posted by dichroic at 10:04 AM

    February 07, 2003


    There is this minor problem with my job: it's not a good one to be sick for. I'm
    not really sick sick, but after I dragged my unwilling body out of bed and
    onto the erg for five thousand meters, I found I was seeing afterimages flashing
    in front of my eyes and had a bit of a headache. This has happened a few times
    (but previously on weekends) in the last few months; my best guess is that my
    body, still easily dehydrated in this desert air, has decided to change to showing
    it in this way instead of the nausea I used to get. At any rate, I don't feel
    terribly terrible, and the afterimages have mostly faded, but when they're here I
    don't have much peripheral vision so I'm not willing to drive forty miles to work
    until I'm sre they're gone.

    Unfortunately again, I had two meetings
    scheduled for this morning that actually do require my presence. So far I've
    rescheduled one, arranged to call into the other, and answered several e-mails.
    Good thing I'm not really sick!

    By the way, go read LA today. And maybe yesterday too. SHe's
    laying it out plain enough for even Ronald Reagan (and all those people who still
    think that he was a good president) to understand. I don't get Shrub. (And by the
    way, Molly Ivin's campaign bio of him, by the same name, is downright chilling.
    She even predicted war with Iraq.) He does good things like propose money to fight
    AIDs in Africa, then takes away programs that help keep teenagers from getting
    pregnant or getting AIDs in the first place. He wants to fight a country that
    might be trying to get nukes but ignores one that has them, says they have them,
    and is threatening us with "total war". He speaks as if the whole country is
    speaking through him but opposes positions that every poll says the vast majority
    of us hold. Is he compensating for a small dick, incapable of logic, or what? I
    know lots of people (on both sides!) disagree with me on positions; all I say to
    conservatives is that I was much happier once I realized that being generally
    liberal on many issures didn't mean I had to like Bill Clinton. I know a lot of
    conservatives who believe in logic, and a lot who believe in not legislating
    morality. Come over to the dark side....

    By the way, did you know there's Wimsey slash?
    Though I wouldn't rate it any higher than "amusing". However, this href="http://www.oblique-publications.net/archives/paeanvi/splendor.pdf">Northern
    one is far better.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    February 06, 2003

    conflicting priorities

    OK, I admit it. I haven't been taking the rowing quite as easily as intended. Some
    of it is just that I'm pertified of losing some of my hard-won cardiovascular
    conditioning, and some of it is just the body taking over. Last night Rudder and I
    spoke to Supercoach Xeno on the phone about some of our training questions. (It
    was kind of funny -- his toddlers seemed to be singing in the background). As a
    result of his training philsophy, plus the fact that it's still too dark in the
    mornings to see a heart rate monitor except when you can stop and light it up,
    this morning I ended up rowing 10.8 miles varying between about 80% and 90% of my
    max heart rate. It wasn't as unpleasant as it sounds, but still, it's possible I
    was not firing on all cylinders when I taught a new module for the first time this
    morning. Next week I have to anchor two full days of classes, though other people
    will come in and out to teach the various sections -- I may just skip the longer
    Tuesday workout or switch it around.

    It's hard to know what to do
    when you're trying to do well at two things and they don't heterodyne well. I
    suppose if I had kids, this would be an old story.

    Apropos of nothing, today's fortune cookie said, "You are a lover of words,
    someday you will write a book." I might have been more inclined to believe it
    without the run-on sentence.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    February 05, 2003

    I got curious....

    The following items have been brought to you by the friendly people at

    CAT scans. Weather satellites. Eye trackers. Virtual reality systems. Scratch-resistant lenses. Portable coolers/warmers that plug into a car cigarette lighter. Dustbusters. Smoke detectors. Sports bras. Automated eye screening. Firefighters' air tanks. Better brake linings. Laser angioplasty. MRI imaging. Digital image processing. Artificial hearts. Kidney dialysis. Water purification techniques. Cordless power tools. Velcro. TV satellite broadcasts. Clear orthodontic braces. Aircraft lightning protection systems. Freeze-dried foods. Foams used in mattresses and athletic pads. Bar code scanners. Fishing forecasts. The use of vacuuum chambers to dry out water-damaged books. Early forms of laptop computers. Breast cancer detection. Riblets (tiny grooves that help reduce drag) used on America's Cup yachts, Olympic rowing shells, and competition swimsuits. Robotic arms (waldoes) used for surgery. Waterbeds. Telemedicine. Volcano tracking. Earthquake prediction. Oil spill detection techniques. Fuel cells. Solar energy research. Insulation barriers now used in cars and trucks. Athletic shoe design. NASTRAN structural analysis software. Automatic implantable defibrillator. Remote patient monitoring systems. Improvement of hang gliders. Fire-resistant aircraft seats. GPS systems. New cheaper ways to evaluate bone density. DirecTV. Prosthetic materials. Chromosome analysis. Golf ball aerodynamics. Blue-blocker sunglasses. Ear thermometers. Heated ski boots. Space pens. Aerodynamic bike wheels. Joystick controllers. Quartz watches. Portable medical equipment on ambulances. Fireproof clothing. Emergency blankets. New low-power anti-icing system. Self-righting life boats. Balance evaluation systems. Blood analyzer. Land mine removal device.

    That, by the way, is a partial list. Mouse over the items on the list above to see my comments. After seeing and hearing some discussion on whether NASA is worthwhile, I got curious, so I did a little research. I have, by the way, used or benefited by two thirds of the items listed above, either through direct encounter or by having them used to help someone I love. NASA did not invent everything listed above; in some cases they were just the ones to develop a good idea until the point where it could become commercially viable.

    I don't actually think that the spinoffs are the best reason to keep exploring space, but if someone has a soul so dead as not to understand the lure of space, its effect on potential scientists and explorers, and our national need for a frontier, it may not be possible to explain it to them. It's usually easier to explain monetary benefits - and note that conservative estimates by U.S. space experts say that for every dollar the U.S. spends on the space program, it receives $7 back in the form of corporate and
    personal income taxes from increased jobs and economic growth. And then there's the US Professional Jobs Program, aka the space centers. Besides the obvious jobs created in the aerospace industry, thousands more are created by many other companies applying NASA technology in nonspace related areas that affect us daily.

    Honestly I would rather see commercial competition to get to space, but this is the model we have and NASA's reasearch has helped develop space travel to the point where commerciasl companies are just beginning to edge into space. Historically, though, large-scale exploration has always been funded by government -- think of Ferdinand and Isabella. It's only after that that business men and women begin to set up trade routes, to import spices, farm new ground, or mine for new riches. (Let's hope we can do that part a bit more responsibly this time.) I know that most people are still saying NASA should continue, but those few dissenters bug me. Besides, it's one of our better investments.

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

    February 04, 2003

    poetry and tragedy

    Funny thing about poetry, how people suddenly resport to it when they don't know
    what else to say. After what showed up all over the net after September 11, 2001,
    and again after last Saturday, nobody should ever need to question why poetry

    I admit to getting a little tired of "High Flight",
    but that's just because as a pilot and an aerospace engineer, it's an old favorite
    that I learned by heart years ago. It's entirely appropriate to the discussion of
    why the astronauts went up, knowing the risks. On the other hand, it's nice to see
    a poem that means a lot to me comfort other people too.

    own choice for most appropriate poem was posted as a comment to href="http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/2003_02.html#002309">Teresa
    Nielsen Hayden's site
    , to which I was directed by href="http://mechaieh.diaryland.com/020103.html">Mechaieh (I know, go figure).
    Since it's off on the comments page, I'll repost it

    A bundle of tempestuous cloud is blown

    About the sky; where that is clear of cloud
    Brightness remains; a brighter
    star shoots down;
    What shudders run through all that animal blood?
    What is
    this sacrifice? Can someone there
    Recall the Cretan barb that pierced a

    --Parnell's Funeral, W.B Yeats

    My own
    poem yesterday (which,
    I realize, is the height of hubris to mention right under one from Yeats; I am not
    doing so from any claims as to its quality but just to make a point) more or less
    flowed out in about ten minutes. (If it's a little rough, that's why.) In contrast
    is another one on which I've been working for a week and have two verses down.
    Something about tragedy* calls out words, and something about poetry seems to
    respond best to elemental needs.

    Posted by dichroic at 12:48 PM

    February 03, 2003

    attitudes and self-focus

    Death Comes in Clouds

    Death comes in clouds now
    And in contrails,
    In billows and mushrooms
    And smoke. In streaks
    Across a morning-blue sky.
    It seems wrong, somehow,
    The combining
    Of horror and beauty. But then
    It's not a new mixture
    There always has been
    The rich ruby sheen of blood
    The sleek glimmer of knives
    The sparkle of deep water.
    Still, death by cloud is new
    This past century:
    More beauty defiled.
    We can't afford
    More beauty defiled.

    This morning on the news, I saw an interview with the sister of one of the Columbia astronauts. She said, "We'll get through this, we'll help each other through this." And of course I felt sorry for her because her brother's dead and all, and of course I'm glad her family is helping each other deal with grief. But since when do you talk about "getting through" a grief two days after it's inflicted? That's not the time to worry about your own mood; that's the time to weep and wail and rail at God and the universe, or to take and give comfort, or to mourn the dead person in whatever way that particular person ought to be mourned. She's probably not really a selfish woman, and it's not fair to judge someone by what she says in a time of pain, with a microphone shoved in front of her face. She's probably saying what she thinks people are supposed to say at this sort of time.

    So what sort of culture do we have when concentrating on one's self instead of the dead person seems like what is supposed to be said?

    By the way, kudos to NASA for protecting the immediate families of the astronauts and asking the reporters to leave them alone.

    I'm having trouble with the question "So, how was your weekend?" today. I mean, in one way, it was fine. I got a massage, made some adjustments to my boat that I think will help, washed and waxed it, saw a good movie, bought tickets to visit T2 and Egret, spent loves of time with Rudder. On the other hand, I spent a lot of it in front of the TV watching footage of people dying, watching a gut-punch to the only federal agency it's still possible to love. (Only because love is blind. You do have to squint enough to ignore the big piles of red tape.) So I had a horribly depressing weekend in that sense. Maybe I should read what I just wrote and not focus so much on my own reaction.
    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    February 02, 2003

    memory dragged

    Today we made some rigging adjustments on my boat. I went for a row around the
    lake to test the new configuration, and just as I was at about the farthest point
    from the beach where we dock, the gentle breeze from the east turned into a gentle
    breeze from the west. Then the water got choppier. Then I started noticing that
    rowing against the wind was getting to be a noticeable effort, Then I noticed the
    wind was actually strong enough to fill the air with dust. (That's what strong
    winds in a desert do.) Then I started seeing whitecaps, and noticed the wind
    sensor alarm on the side of the lake was lighting up. Getting back in wasn't
    really a whole lot of fun - in fact, for a single, it was verging on scary, and I
    was beginning to feel like a sail. I bet the sailboat out there today was having
    fun, though.

    And I can tell this will be the pattern for my days --
    as I approached the eastern end of the lake, before the wind kicked up, I noticed
    that the three flags at some facility near the north shore were at half-staff. I'd
    been thinking of nothing but rowing, and suddenly the Columbia was dragged back
    into memory. "Glad" is not the right word, but I am gratified that those flags
    were lowered, and to have the crew brought back into my memory -- whether it hurts
    to think about them is really not the issue.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM


    Rudder and I have been together now for just about 12 years. We met on March 23,
    1990, incidentally just across Clear Lake from the Johnson Space Center. In all
    that time I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've cried on
    his shoulder. About him a few times, maybe, but if I'm crying on his shoulder it's
    about somethng outside us. Today was another one.

    And it's odd, because it is far away and maybe because it is the second time. I
    was a sophomore in college when Challenger blew up, and yes, I do remember exactly
    where I was when I heard. Somehow it feels less like a new grief, more like a
    closer grief would feel after a couple of weeks. I've forgotten about Columbia a
    few times today, once while out at the lake touching up scratches on my boat and
    hanging out with people there and again when we went to see the movie Chicago,
    only to have to emerge, blinking, back to reality. For people now in the space
    program, I know, and for those who knew those seven (seven again!) astronauts
    personally, there is no escape from grief yet. There will be none for weeks at
    least, and then after that every time they're happy they'll emerge back into grief
    when they remember.

    Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM

    February 01, 2003


    Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuckety




    As you will know
    by now, the Space Shuttle Columbia has exploded. There are few things that could
    possibly happen in the public world that would upset me more than the explosion of
    a manned spacecraft -- it's much more personal when you've spent some years
    working on the Space Shuttle and Space Station programs. I'm left with no more
    graceful or creative way to express my feelings at the moment than a succession of
    repeated expletives.

    I didn't even know about until about three hours
    after it happened, because I'd gone out for a massage and hadn't been watching TV
    and hadn't listened to the radio in the car. Somehow, it seems impossible that
    it's possible not to know, as if the news should somehow filter through the
    air or beam out to every mind. My first reaction when I walked in the door and was
    told the news by Rudder was an unimaginative but heartfelt "Fuuu-u-

    I've been half-expecting something dire to happen because of
    the presence of an Israeli astronaut, coupled with the situation of the world just
    now. They're saying that it can't possibly be due to terrorism because nothing
    could get to the Shuttle at the altitude and speed at which it was moving, but it
    seems obvious to me that if you were going to do such a thing the way to do it
    would be to sneak a timed explosive system in before takeoff, or more simply, to
    somehow introduce flaws in the heat-shield tiles.

    I can't make up my
    mind whether it would be worse if this is due to terrorism or just to a mistake by
    NASA. Either way, I expect I'll be remembering this morning in the same mental
    file as the Challenger explosion. There is no good time for this sort of disaster
    to occur, but this is almost the worst time for it -- the most high profile flight
    we've had lately, with more contact with schoolchildren than most flights. The
    only way it could have been worse would be if this had been the flight to
    reinstititute the Teacher in Space program.

    Incidentally, the Shuttle
    Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986. Apollo 1 burned on the lunch pad on
    January 27, 1967, killing three astronauts including Gus Grissom, who had flown on
    only the second US space flight ever. NASA has been observing a moment of silence
    on January 28; that should be a national observance now. Go read href="http://outrage.diaryland.com/shutl030201.html">Outrage and href="http://mousepoet.diaryland.com/030201_30.html">Mousepoet; they've
    marshalled their words better than I have.

    Posted by dichroic at 10:24 AM