March 30, 2003

Life: the Good Parts version

On Friday, I was driving home from work, and suddenly got a feeling I've had a few
times before. It's one of my favorite ways to feel, but one of the hardest to
describe. The best I can say it is that I felt centered, anchored in the myth of
my own life -- a feeling that the days of miracle and wonder are not yet over and
moreover, that I'm in the middle of them right now. I have a certain
sureness that I will look back on these as some of the best times of my life,
because they are among the times when I am most fully myself.

often find it easier to use the words of some of my favorite authors. If there's
anyone else out there who was helped through adolescence by Norma Johnston, you
will understand perfectly when I say that these are my Keeping

It caught me by surprise, a bit, since I've been so busy
treading water while balancing plates like a circus act (Cirque du Soleil, that
would be, to combine the two) that I'd hardly had time to notice how much fun I
was having. Honestly, I think I like my life and myself better when both are
stretched to their fullest extent, even if it does mean things are a little crazy
and I can't do everything I'd like to do as well as I'd like to do it. I never was
good at perfection anyway.

In fact, maybe that's the phrase that
should be my epitaph.

I've had that same feeling other times: when I
was nine through eleven, had some great teachers and hung out with a close circle
of male and female friends (probably the best social life I've ever had); a couple
of rare moments in high school; my first and last years in college and the summer
after the first one; the year I met Rudder and began rowing (there is nothing
better than sharing a beer with friends and your new True Love, right on the water
-- I miss the Clear Lake bars on the water); the year we were planning a wedding
and buying a house and I was working on an exciting new project with an incredible
group of people. And now.

There are things that could be better, of
course; for one thing, it would be very nice to have more local friends. One
problem of living in a mobile community is that every time we get close to people
they move away. On the other hand, there's a line by Richard Bach whose power is
evident in the fact that I can quote it despite not having read the book it's in
for at least a decade: "There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you
in its mouth. We seek out our problems for the gifts they bring." And some of my
problems, such as the craziness (excitement and challenge) at work and the long
commute (time to meditate and look at some beautiful desert and sky) are simply a
matter of perspective and appreciation. Then there are the parts I appreciate
without question: a job I can do well, a comfortable and peaceful home, a trip
soon to one of the place I've always wanted to see, and always, always Rudder. And
so here I am, right here. Living one of the best parts of my life. And it's pure
luxury to know that while it's happening.

Posted by dichroic at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2003


Uh-oh, Rudder seems to have a bit of a cold. He's not terribly sick, and it's not
really a bad time for him to be sick -- if that's not a contradiciton in terms --
but it's not to close to a race or anything else especially important.

The thing that concerns me is that if he passes it on to me, I could
still have it in time for the Ireland trip. So I guess if I'm going to get sick
I'd better do it fast or not at all! And meanwhile I can just hope that he's not
really sick at all, just a little discombobulated by the front that just came in
and his erg trial Thursday. Those really can wreck your lungs; when I set my own
Personal Record for 500m I was coughing for three days. If it's either or both of
those things, he should be feeling better soon.

I have another essay, a real one about feeling anchored in the good parts of my
life and knowing when I'm in one, rattling around my head right now but I'm not
sure how to say it yet.

Posted by dichroic at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2003


It's 8:23 AM and it already feels like halfway through the day. (Of course, my day
began at 4 so that's not as far off as it seems.) I hope I've now gotten at least
halfway through the hard parts of it. Or that at least I get to eat lunch today,
which would be a distinct improvement on yesterday.


Morning crises averted, lunch eaten and with luck the afternoon won't be too bad.
Unfortunately because of the morning's potential disasters, I only got to row one
lap, but managed to get a decent workout anyway and work on some of the issues
apparent from the race videotape.

Rudder and I had some difference of opinion on that tape -- the camera belongs to
T2, who had it shipped to us so we could bring it when we visit next month,
instead of paying for international shipping; he asked us to test it first. So I
was filming so T2 and Egret could see the race, doing things like showing how much
open water there was between Rudder and his competition, whereas Rudder was
staying parked on one person so we could use it as a training video. And I confess
I didn't do a great job even at my stated intention; there's an awful lot of
unintended empty sky and water shots. I think I was born to be a still

Product review: Yesterday's luchlessness was somewhat eased by the fact that I'd
had one of Yoplait's yogurt smoothies (they call them that, but they're not,
really) for breakfast. It's portable, easy to drink right after a workout, tastes
exactly like normal yogurt and has all kinds of nutrients added -- the ones I
especially appreciated were significatn amounts of protein, calcium, iron, and
potassium. My initial response was very positive. However, a little while later, I
realized they'd obviously turned yogurt into a drink by blending it with a lot of
milk, so my stomach was dancing for the rest of the day ... and turning and
twisting and burbling and rumbling. Somewhat uncomfortable. I might drink it
again, but not on a day when I'm teaching, for example.

Posted by dichroic at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2003

good gym day

I'm afraid my wardrobe strategy for today may not be working out. I've got on a
nice off-white pair of pants,a sleeveless black shell (because it's predicted to
hit 88F today), a long beige jacket (because I'll be in a chilly classroom part of
the day), and tan mules (sort of like the original Candies, for those of you who
remember those, except without a wood heel). The problems are that the whole
outfit comes out a bit more formal than I intended and that I'm not sure the mules
work with pants. The hem keeps wanting to get under my heel, between it and the

The black cat fur the smaller and needier cat is at this moment
trying to coat me with doesn't help the total image either.

I did
have a good gym day. I've got a new strategy I think of as Lagniappe; I do my
usual sets of 20 on the weights then go as high as I think I can and do another 5.
I surprised myself on a couple of them -- and also saw some nice shoulder and arm
definition when I was doing nothing more strenuous than drinking my water.

Posted by dichroic at 06:53 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2003

back to sleep

This morning I woke up after not enough sleep (because we had to go unload the
boats yeasterday after work) went to rowing, got my oars halfway to the water,
decided the whole thing was a stupid idea and went home to bed for an

I'll be in training all day today, but now at least I'll have
half a chance of staying awake.

Postscript: after 8 hours of sitting in one room in one chair, I am so, so, so
glad I made that decision. Insteresting training, but still.

Posted by dichroic at 07:00 AM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2003

dratted fast people

So, the regatta. DFL, DFL, DFL. Blah, ick, ptooey. I had my race in the single and
ended up coxing an intermediate women's eight a bit earlier. It didn't help that
the string controlling their rudder broke as we headed out, so I was steering with
one hand behind me -- fortunately the rudder in that boat had sort of a tiller
bar I could reach from the coxswain' seat or we'd have had to bring it back in and
probably missed the race. This was a crew that isn't really focused on competition
and I think they were just outclassed by a crew in much better shape and with
better form and coordination. When they went to race pressure they lost all their
smoothness, and there were oars hitting the water every stoke. Of course, because
of the rudder situation I wasn't steering the best course in the world, so I'm
sure that didn't help. I think I did help them stay motivated, though, or maybe
they just have a lot of heart; it was a 2000m race instead of the 1K masters
usually have and they didn't slacken their pace at any point -- maybe about ten
strokes in the middle, but that's it.

In the single, they'd put the
masters and open lightweights together, two of each. I didn't particularly mind
coming in second to the other masters rower, since she was extremely buff and had
recently won the world erg championship for her age and weight class. Also, she's
47 so gets a significant handicap time over me, not that she needed it. I was
disappointed, though to come in fourth of four, behind the two open lightweight
rowers, and with open water between me and the rest of them. Damn

Of course, as my lungs were flaming up the course with the
other boats out of sight ahead of me (remember, rowers face backward) I kept
thinking, "Why do I do this to myself again?" The worst part is that I think most
of my problem is conditioning, so the only way to do better would be to increase
the pain during training. Or resign myself to a lifetime of DFL. Or quit racing.
Not an attractive bouquet of options.

By the way, the other
masters lightweight woman who beat me, also raced in a double with D, the men's
world erg champion in his age group. He's from Colorado, but comes out to race
with us, and he and Rudder also raced a men's double. D's double got a faster time
with the woman than with Rudder. Just to give you some idea.

having only one race, I was exhausted by the end of the day, because of course
when you race less, you do more fetching and carrying and packing and running
around. Still, it was a nice weekend out on a beach (Marine Stadium, not ocean) in
the California sun, and I got to see trees and flowers, and Hardcore and She-Hulk
rode both ways with us, so that was fun. We didn't get home until eleven, and I
don't feel too bad, considering.

Except about the damned race

Posted by dichroic at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2003

disconnected Friday burblings

I am so leaving early today. Me and everyone else in my group -- it's been
that sort of week all around.

And speaking of things related to
driving home: yesterday, I saw a new level in tacky yesterday: a bumper sticker
that said, "Special Memory - Just Married - Las Vegas, NV". I mean, I can see
getting married in Vegas for any number of reasons, but a bumper sticker to say

Also, I have learned something new about driving and lisening.
The Teaching Company has some good lecture
series on tape (or videotape, CD, or DVD). However, if you order a tape on a
subject you know a lot about (and you would, because those are likely to be the
ones you're most interested in) be prepared to do a lot of yawning or talking back
to the tape player (this particular prof asks a lot of questions he apparently
doesn't expect students to be able to answer) during the first couple of

Off to the races this weekend! For some reason they have
combined two events, masters women's singles and open lightweight women's singles
into one, and now have two heats and a final. I don't understand this for several
reasons. 1) No other event has heats and finals, so why combine races? 2) I am
actually a master lightweight woman single rower. Who am I racing against? 3) And
in any case, why in the name of Nereus would you have the finals only about 20
minutes after the heats?

Posted by dichroic at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2003

stretched thin

You might as well go elsewhere; I write boring entries when I'm overstretched.
This is because all my naeurons are dedicated to keeping straight all the things I
have to do and take and teach today, instead of pondering about world peace, or
even pet peeves.

One of the things I have successfully remembered was
to call the people who are still fixing my car -- between the dealer and their
bodyshop (which I'm a bit confused over, since the body wasn't damaged) and the
insurance company we are now into the second week of trucklessness. Or rather of
Toyotalessness, since Rudder's Hummer is still looming in our garage. Now the
damned body shop is saying I need to come and do a walkaround, which of course
they couldn't actually tell me over the weekend when I might have had time to do
it. Grrr....

Posted by dichroic at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2003

one million meters

Breaking news: after doing a 10 K this morning, I have now reached ONE MILLION
METERS, recorded, on the erg.I will be sending away for the href="">T-shirt shortly.

Of course, Rudder had to steal my thunder yesterday by getting me to
witness his logbook entries so he could send them in for the FOUR Million Meter
Club, drat him. It's not that he ergs four times as much, but that he did start
doing serious distance a lot sooner and started logging a couple of years earlier.
And I can't even really complain because he'd been nagging me to log my distance
for at least a year before I caved and began to keep a log.

Posted by dichroic at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2003

a breather

Argh. What a week. When your schedule is so booked that you have to leave one
class to go teach part of another, you've passed beyond the boundary of silliness.
(Typically in these all-week classes, we have two anchors, or an anchor plus a
teacher for each module, so at least leaving is possible.) We have GOT to get this
schedule straightened out. The worst part is that next week will be nearly as

Fortunately the good thing about the current situation is that
it's not the kind of thing where I have to (or even can) do a lot of weekend work.
So I appreciate these days off to their fullest. Today we're heading off to the
local Renaissance Faire, though we've been the last few years so might not stay
all day. Off to the showers, first.

Posted by dichroic at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2003

still here

Quarter after five and I'm sitting here in an almost empty classroom, babysitting
the one student who hasn't finished his lab assignment yet. Actually, he isn't
even testing it yet, so he's got a long way to go. I'm out of here at six, a rule
the other teacher and I decided on yesterday -- after 6PM they're on their own. It
was his suggestion, but of course I agreed in mere microseconds, due to the 40-
mile drive home and the early wake-up tomorrow (actually, I get to sleep all the
way to 5tomorrow) and the fact that I'm a big lazy antiworkaholic who considers
anything more than a nine or ten hour day to be complete waste of time. And I was
in before 7:30 this morning, thanks to having done only one lap on the lake
specifically because of this class.

At least the remaining student is
a nice guy. It would really suck to stay late for a jerk.

In sports
news, I'm up to 104.7 km on the erg for this year, meaning I have only just over
15K to go to the href=">million meter mark.
I've been tracking it over at href="">FiveHundred. I feel a little guilty
because most people there are trying to cover 500 miles (walking, biking,
treadmill) but not too much: this is a real goal, not something I've made up just
to finish early. I did add a five hundred mile goal of my own there, mostly
because I figured I'd be doing it anyway and it's nice to see the meters roll

Another guy here, one who'd already finished and
left, just popped back in to show me some features of the integrated
development environment he's using. He's one of the developer of it (it's an in-
house product) and I used to be the customer support engineer for the product's
ancestor at another company, but still. If that's not the defnition of geeky, I
don't know what is.

Posted by dichroic at 05:17 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2003

the weekend of being 35 and 364/365

We decided to celebrate my birthday this weekend, since tomorrow, the actual day,
will probably be frantic and exhausting. Yesterday I got a pedicure (at the mall -
- must try some other places as this one is convenient but not great) and went out
for dinner at the Wrigley Mansion,
where I liked both my dinner and the Hurricane Ridge Merlot very much, but Rudder
was less enthusiastic. Today we went up to the local Pioneer Living History
Museum. We've been meaning to go for some time but weren't terribly impressed.
Afterward we went up to the Nike outlet nearby (yes, still more rowing gear) and
then back down to a local restaurant whose main appeal was the free entree their
email had offered for my birthday. We both liked the "shrimp martini" (more or
less ceviche with tequila added) but the mahi-mahi was only so-

Don't be worried if I don't update much next week; I'll be
teaching all week and am not sure how reliable my net feed will

Oops, almost forgot to mention the gifties: ruby necklace from
Rudder to match the earrings he gave me last year. And I love it, but in a way I'm
almost more impressed with the only other gift I've received so far. (My family is
ALWAYS late and this year the in-laws are too because apparently they had a
question to ask Rudder who was out of town when they called last.) It can be
difficult to buy the perfect thing for someone you live with but at least you have
the insight; how much harder to get something just right for someone you've met in
the flesh three times? (Or is it four?) The incomparable href="">Mechaieh sent me the fifth book of a
series I enjoy very much, of which I own the first four. (Interesting connection:
bought the first while visiting Swoop.) Not quite sure how she did that, as it's
been many months since she last had the opportunity to inspect my bookshelves, but
I am very grateful.

Posted by dichroic at 06:48 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2003

explain please?

COuld somebody please do me a favor and explain the Arthurian references in David
Lodge's book Small World? I mean, I see where they are, but why are they
there? Is it just because Persse (=Percival) is on a quest for a woman and the
Grail is a yonic (as opposed to phallic) symbol?

The Fisher King
reference I understand; not only are there the references but the structure
underlies the whole book, and becomes very clear at the end. But why the Arthur
stuff, and if it's there, why not do more with it? Or am I just missing something?

Also, it's fun to spot the bits that fit another mythos entirely,
like Miss Maiden as Delphic oracle, but why all the other stuff that doesn't fit
any mythos, like Moris Zapp -- or am I missing something?

I'm only
just reading it for the first time (thanks to a couple of diary recommendations
that I can't find now) so that's entirely likely.

Posted by dichroic at 07:36 PM | Comments (0)

lousy way to start a morning

Here's a lousy way to start a morning:

Decide to take truck this
morning. Go out to the driveway where it's parked, to see if it has gas. Notice
both doors are unlocked. Open driver's door. Notice funny little black plastic
knobs on driver's seat. Wonder if Rudder had some gizmo break when he borrowed the
truck a couple days ago. Look around a bit more and realize the panel around the
radio, with plastic vents and A/C controls is dangling.

someone tried to steal my radio. Either they couldn't get it out or they got
frightened off, because it's still there. So now the police are supposed to call
back, I have to call my insurance when they open at 9, and somehow get enough time
off from work to drop the truck off to get fixed. Sigh.

This does
make me glad once again that I leased Zippy the Honda, so at least I have
something to drive. The worst thing is that the truck was right in front of my
house when it got broken into.

Posted by dichroic at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2003

grandmom's birthday

Today is my Grandmom Rose's 91st birthday. Unfortunately, she died about five
years ago, so I can't call her to wish her a happy one. Lucky for the rest of us,
she did live until her mid-80s; in fact, I was very lucky because I had four
living grandparents until I was in college. (Rudder still has four, all still
living on their own; I keep telling him he needs to call them often, but it seems
to be hard for him to see why he should change his family's usual pattern. I hope
he figures it out before he loses them, because they're all

My Brother the Writer and I were lucky in more than just
having living grandparents, in fact; they were also very good at being
grandparents, epsecially my mother's parents. We were the only grandchildren and
my grandfather thought we walked on water. (After all, we wouldn't be the first
Jewish kids to do it.) My grandmother thought pretty highly of us, too, but had a
somewhat more realistic view.

She didn't think much of my sense of
style, I don't think; she thought I should always wear jewelry and makeup. (I
wonder whether she'd had to fight to wear cosmetics in her youth? Her mother was a
strong character, though much faded by the time I knew her.)She believed in
wearing fancy underwear and nightgowns; that's one of those things I'd rather not
speculate on.

She and my grandfather argued all the time; I think
they enjoyed it. For someone who never learned to drive, she was a very outspoken
backseat driver. She thought I was a much better driver than my mother (actually,
that's the generally-held opinion) though I think she got a little annoyed the
time she and my uncle were visiting me in Houston and I drove all the way to
Austin without stopping to stretch our legs. (They kept saying vegue things like
"We should probably stop sometime," but never actually said "Let's stop soon.")

She was timid about water, one of those old ladies who would go in
only halfway and then splash themselves to cool off. Even every summer when they
took us down the shore (what Philadelphians call Atlantic City) for the day, she
would never take me in more than ankle deep. I was eight or nine before I even
knew you could swim in the ocean. She wasn't timid about dealing with
people at all, though when she got very old she got nervous riding through bad
neighborhoods or on steep roads. SHe and my uncle took several trips after my
grandfather died and he delighted in taking her on places like the Pacific COast
Highway -- she enjoyed it once she calmed down, but he wouldn't tell her about it
in advance.

My grandfather used to say she'd been a "hotsy-totsy" in
her youth, and I don't think he knew the half of it. She had some hilarious
stories she didn't tell us until after he'd died -- he'd been there for some of
them, though, like the times they went out drinking during Prohibition. I doubt,
though, that she ever strayed after they were married and she had no desire to
take on another man after he died, though several asked her out.

was outspoken all her life. She didn't talk about politics much, but whenever she
did mention an opnion, I delighted in how closely they matched mine. That was back
when "family values" were much discussed; well, MY family's values weren't exactly
what the religious conservatives who loved that phrase had in mind. She knew well
enough what it was like to have to be careful about money, and she remembered how
necessary the Depression social programs had been -- not coddling people who
didn't need it, but providing a safety net to keep desperate people off the

She was close to her sister and to the cousins they'd been
raised with; there weren't safety nets in her youth and her widowed mother and
aunt brough their children up together. She had a job for most of her life, as did
my great-grandmother; the women in my family never really expected to stay home.
Mom may have taken more time off work to raise children than any other generation
of us. I may be the first one to work when it wasn't absolutely necessary to pay
for rent and food. (Of course, you could say the same about Rudder's working.
Either way.)

She and my grandfather spoiled us; they told us we were
wonderful but never to the point of letting us be bratty. We saw them every few
days, because they lived only a few blocks away. (About ten minutes walk, but we
never walked and I was probably in high school before I realized you could
walk the distance.) With all the squabbling they did, I never ever heard either of
them complain about my grandfather's heart condition having spoiled their
retirement plans -- didn't even know until my uncle told me that story a few years

They were the best grandparents you could have, and I miss them

Posted by dichroic at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)

more echoes

Today's headlines, glimpsed at the newspaper box on may way in, were something

"US Plans for Iraq: Swift, Sudden Attack"

There is
a technical term for this particular military maneuver:

Of course, then again, successful military
plans are not generally broadcast in the morning paper, so I wouldn't be surprised
if that was leaked as a propaganda measure.

Posted by dichroic at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2003

damn cats

I suppose it would be unprofessional to nap under my desk. I sure will be glad
when we get the latest work issues ironed out. Also when (if ever) the cats learn
that just because they sleep all day doesn't mean they should keep me up all
night. Especially not by licking themselves all over while sitting at the foot of
my bed. For hours.

Last night I got four (four!) telemarketer calls
after I was in bed. I had to answer them all in case it was Rudder, who's on a
business trip. He'll be back tonight but will probably be late enough to wake me.

Posted by dichroic at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2003

party prep

Thoughts on party preparation:

Who in hell, aside from my husband,
stores the cream cheese in the freezer? I mean, if you're planning to use it
within the next week?

(Use of cream cheese: mix with salsa. Spread on
torillas, roll up and slice. Voila, pinwheels.)

Running the vacuum
cleaner, which has been unused since just after we removed the Christmas tree,
gives the rooms a nice pine fragrance.

(Yes, I am a lousy
housekeeper, but that's not why. We have a cleaning service and they bring their
own vacuum.)

I sure hope enough people show up to eat at least two of
the three turkeys we're deep-frying. Though Rudder will be happy if two are left

Posted by dichroic at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)