April 30, 2003

can I bill for my time?

I hate how long doctors' appointments take! Got my very first mentor-ee certified
today (a big deal for me) but didn't get his certificate to him before he left.
Unfortunately "left" in this particular case means "left this site for good and
headed for a new position (same company) in Europe. So I'll have to mail the cert,
I guess.

Posted by dichroic at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2003


I was idly trying to find info about a book I used to own, one I'd inherited from
my mother or grandmother (probably the latter, going by its age) and was annoyed
not the be able to find the main Girlsown webpage. Is the list defunct or just

Also, has anyone run into a series, set in the 1920s or so,
involving a club of roughly high-school aged girls named (if I recall) Harriet,
Hazel, Jane, Tommy (aka Grace) and Margery (whom Tommy referred to as 'Buster', or
ratehr 'Buthter', as Tommy lisped). They had a "guardian", Miss Elton, and tootled
around in Jane's car. In the volume I had, a neighboring boys club presented them
with a complete tennis outfit and entered them in a tournament only to find that
none of the girls knew how to play. Of course, they promptly learned to play, in
time to win the tournament. Sound familiar?

Books I can handle.
Clothes I'm not so sure about. It's obvious that I wasn't born to be a
fashionista, even aside from the fact that the labels in my wardrobe tend to run
far more to Moving Comfort, Nike and Athleta, the Gap and LL Bean than to Armani,
Betsey Johnson, or BCBG. On Sunday, I bought a T-shirt from Nordstrom, among other
things. It's got a sort of splotchy design on it and some vaguely French words.
(Here it is -- scroll
down to the short-sleeved "Pres Paris" to see the exact shirt.) Sunday night I
washed my new clothes and some old ones, including a burgundy crushed-velvet skirt
I later found was marked Dry Clean only. Oops. I could swear I've washed it
before, and it's more like a stretchy velour than a traditional stiff velvet and
has ono lining, so it doesn't look like a dry-clean-only sort of garment.
Which is why I was surprised to find a big pink splotch on my new T-shirt. At this
point I'm hoping it either is a prt of the design or will look like it's supposed
to be, but just in case, I wash it again. The splotch is still

Now, go look at that picture again. I'll wait. Big pink
splotch in center, see?

Conclusion: designers who put deliberate
splotches that look like laundry accidents on their clothing should be classes
with musicians who include sound effects that sound like sirens approaching when
you're listening in the car. The two have much the same dismaying effect.

On the other hand, I may never worry about bleeding dye again. "This
red spot? Oh that's just part of the design."

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

April 28, 2003

June, June, June

Woohoo! Done with teaching until Thursday! Taught a new version of my materials
today, one that I'm slightly underwhelmed by. The best I can say it is wasn't as
bad as I was afraid it would be.

But June 30, when we'll be done with
this insane training pace, is getting nearer and nearer. Nobody better expect me
(or my colleagues) to be coherent on July 1. I've already informed the boss, in
about those words. (She sympathized.)

Posted by dichroic at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2003

not ready for the week

So, the "relaxing weekend"? Weeded the front driveway and back yard, did some food
shopping (3 different grocery stores because we were unsuccessfully trying to find
a cheap source for Rudder's protein bars, now Wlamrt has quit carrying them. No
luck but I've concluded I definitely need to get to Whole Foods more often),
bought a few clothes and underclothes at Nordstrom's but didn't usethe gift card
the in-laws sent for a bleated birthday because none of it was "special" enough
(though they're getting in an outfit they didn't have in my size from another
store, that does qualify), touch-up-painted the singles, went to the science
museum to see their Science of Roller Coasters exhibit before it leaves (very
interactive), paid bills.

I'm beat.

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

April 25, 2003

inherrent contradictions

The worst thing about a busy week is that a relaxing weekend to rest and
rejuvenate and catching up with all the things you didn't have time to do during
the week are mutually exclusive.

Virtual chocolate (or vanilla, your
choice) to anyone who can follow the structure of that sentence. But I
think commas would have just made it worse.

Of course not all the
things I want to do this weekend absolutely have to be done, like going to the
Science of Rollercoasters exhibit at the Phoenix Science Museum. But it sounds
reallyreally cool and it's only here for another week or so. And besides, every
weekend needs a highlight. (Well, there will also be spending my in0law's belated
birthday gift, a gift cert for Nordstrom's. That will be fun -- I'm still debating
purse, shoes, or clothing.)

Posted by dichroic at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2003

cats! Who needs 'em?

The more annoying of my two cats has been extremely needy since we got back from
Ireland. He wants attention constantly when I'm on the computer (He *only* ever
wants attention when we're on the computer, because if we're doing anything else
he's scared we might move suddenly. Though he does love to play with our feet
while we're getting dressed.)

For each of the last several days, the
fuzzy brat has woken us up at 2 or 3AM. This is NOT a good thing when the alarm is
set to go off at 4AM anyway. He's mostly just asking for conversation, as far as I
can tell, not crying or troubled. (Today being an exception: he did have some
justification because the other cat had gotten shut in the garage. Though I'd
think soon after we turned off the lights would have been a good time to mention
that, rather than seven hours later.)

We could just move the
litterbox out of our bathroom and shut both cats out of our bedroom, but then the
other cat would be complaining all night. It's a Feline Principle: "The catnip is
always greener on the other side of the door."

This morning I was
actually short enough on sleep that I skipped rowing and set the alarm two hours
on,. I'd have had to cut the row short anyhow, since I'm teaching all week and
having to be in here before eight. The other instructor should be here tomorrow (I
finally spoke to her) so maybe I can get her to come in so I can get a full two
laps in. If the damned fuzzball cooperates, that is.

Posted by dichroic at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2003

grad school

Grrr. The other teacher is not here in class again. She's not slacking,
mind you, she's just off teaching something else. But still, it would be nice if
she'd told me in advance. Now I don't know if she'll be gone all day or just part
of the day. I'm hoping for part, as I have a meeting this afternoon to dash off

On the other hand, reading about href="http://www.yarinareth.net/Dorothea/gradsch/straighttalk.html">Dorothea's
grad school experiences
, not to mention some of SWooPP's occasional makes me
grateful for my own situation. This 40-hour week of classes is the equivalent,
time-wise, of a one-semester class. I'm here teaching 10 students (there were
more, but it's a lab day and several people are "auditing" and don't have to take
lab). I have a laptop to work on while they do their labs, they all have computers
at their tables, there are enough books to go around, and I don't have to come up
with tests. More importantly, my boss appreciates what I'm doing and I get paid
somewhat more than the average full professor.

I should note, though,
that my own grad-school experience wasn't particularly unpleasant. I did it part
time, with my company paying for classes, so I never had the full experience of
looking for funding, serving as a TA, and so on. Grad school was just a secondary
part of my life. Furthermore, I suspect that even for those going fulltime the
experience is different for those working on science, engineering or business
degrees. (Disclosure: My MS is in Physical Sciences with a concentration in Space
Science. Don't laugh -- I was working for a NASA contractor at the time. But yes,
I really did take up Time and Space in grad school. And yes, I really AM a Rocket
Scientist.) Those students know they are employable, and many will have worked
before or during the degree or will have a corporation footing the bills, so
there's not that fear factor. And if the department heads know they don't have
total power over their students, they're less likely to become petty tyrants. My
own advisor was not terribly interested in what I was doing, I don't think, but he
never made my life more difficult.

That's not true. He did pose one
challenge: staying awake during classes he taught. He was awful. I think he was
about the only full-time professor in the department, and if he'd been good he
probably would have been at a better school. I attended a satellite campus of the
University of Houston, because it was close to home and work. And because it was
also close to the Johnson Space Center, it had lots of space-related classes as
well as business classes aimed at engineers going on for MBAs. For some reason it
also had a big education program, but I was never given any reason to be impressed
with either that program or many of its students. But because it was close to the
JSC and the Lunar and Planetary Institute, quite a lot of the lecturers were NASA
or NASA-contractor or LPI research scientists moonlighting by teaching a class or
two, and those people were uniformly excellent. They were PhDs teaching on the
subjects that most interested them, on which they were doing front-line research,
which is why I enjoyed most of my classes greatly.

I don't really use
much of what I learned about Lunar Geology or Human and Robotic Exploration of
Space, or even Astrophysics, but the program was open enough to let me take a
couple of other courses I felt lacking in. I took Electromagnetism (actually they
required that one because as a Mechanical Engineer, I'd only taken the intro
course to Electrical Engineering as an undergrad) and Statistics, and the latter
is the foundation of what I'm teaching now. Plus of course, I get to put the MS on
my resume. And mostly, I got to go learn some really cool stuff.

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

April 22, 2003

more on looting

After reading Teresa Nielsen
on the subject, I wanted to go into what I'd said href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/castblame.html"> about the looting of the
Iraqi National Museum a little more fully. (And yes, this will be another of those
wishy-washy entries.) It is a little simplistic, I suppose, to say that
only those who are doing the looting deserve the blame, but I do still
believe that the criminal deserves the blame for the crime -- far more so than the
society that allowed the criminal to function, which is the position the U.S. is
in here. The fact that we know 10-15% of the population will perform criminal acts
if they can get away with is still no excuse for those criminals. So blame the
looters, first and foremost.

But it's unforgiveably idealistic for
the rest of us not to make plans to deal with that criminal element. According to
Bartlett, Edmund Burke probably did not really say, "The only thing necessary for
the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"; nonetheless, his ghost has been
niggling at me. I don't blame the soldiers in Iraq; there just aren't enough of
them to keep order. I do blame Rumsfeld, for seeing to it that there aren't enough
of the right sort of force. Civil unrest after the toppling of a government can
scarcely be unanticipated by those schooled in the ways of power and government.
Either he knew this would happen and didn't care enough (about either artifacts or
lives) plan for it or he's a complete idiot. And I don't think he's a complete
idiot. (GWB, maybe.)

The Iraqi people and the Arab neighbors
demonstrating in solidarity with them bear some responsibility too: they keep
saying they want to run their own country and that we should go home. A perfectly
reasonable request, but not one that is particularly compatible with expecting
American troops to protect their treasures from Iraqi looters.

the product of the written word that I am, I am even more distressed at the loss
of the Iraqi library than at the loss of the museum. I mean, I'm still not over
the burning of the library at Alexandria. This library is not likely the sort of
unique repository Alexandria was, bu all big research libraries have irreplaceable
knowledge. I was relieved somewhat to hear, this morning on NPR, of Moslem groups
employing boys to save everything possible from the library. I hope they can save
some of it, at least.

casting blame

Whew. Survived yesterday. The rest of the week should be considerably more laid
back. (IhopeIhopeIhope)

Now it's time to up the intensity of my
training so that the results of my next race (end of May) will be more
satisfactory than those of the last one. The videos were terribly depressing; I
got discouraged and form went all to pot in the last third of the race. As
Poseidon is my witness, I will never do that again. If I have to row slower than
I'd like I will but by Nereus I will look good doing it. And thereby keep my speed
up a little more to boot.

On a different topic (I sure say that a
lot!) I missed most of the news last week but did catch the bit about the Iraqi
National Museum being pillaged. I'm as grieved about that as the next history buff
/ museum freak but I'm perturbed to see blame cast toward America for that one.
You can, of course, argue whether we should be there at all, and I have, even with
myself. But the fact is now we are there, and an invasion force is not the same,
size, equipment, and training-wise, as a civil police force. More to the point, it
wasn't the Americans who did the looting, and to blame them for it feels to me
like blaming "the other woman" instead of the straying husband who broke his vows.
Ahem. Sorry, not quite an apt analogy, but I mean that the people who perpetrated
the outrageous act are the ones who deserve the outrage.

On the other
hand I heard a rumor today that some American GIs had looted money from some Iraqi
stashes and I do find that, if true, entirely appalling and

Posted by dichroic at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2003

jumping back in with both feet

Whew. Pant-pant-pant. Work today has been insane -- I was booked to
teach two classes at once and the co-instructor for one of them didn't show up
until about 2 hours in, and it is NOT a class that can easily be taught alone
because there are lots of labs. Also there was a (mostly) blind and deaf
(slightly) guy who realized he couldn't keep up unless he had someone to read all
the instructions from the manual to him.

Fortunately one of my
wonderful co-workers rescued me by teaching the other class, the other instructor
finally showed up (she'd been double-booked too but hadn't bothered letting me
know .... grrrr) and the blind guy decided to reschedule. I'm going to see if we
can arrange for an intern to sit next to him and help him out next

Pant, pant pant. Wheeze. Go read yesterday's entry about href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/ireland.html">Ireland instead -- it's far
more interesting. and it's got pictures!

Posted by dichroic at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2003

Song of Ireland

I never know how to tell people about a trip without having it take all day. In
just over a week, we spent two days in Dublin, then put 900 miles (not km, miles) and a couple of scratches on the rental car, we walked around and over castles, cathedrals, abbeys, and museums all over the southern two thirds of the island, we saw innumerable sheep and looked for baby lambs, we drank a reasonable amount of Guinness and Smithwick's, we slept in lots of tiny beds. It all took 15 pages in my travel diary, which is why I have trouble condensing it here.

Ireland is noisy pubs, green fields bounded by hedgerows, cliffs over the ocean, worryingly narrow roads without centerlines. Friendly people. Mediocre food, good beer, easy and convenient B&B's with no beds larger than a double. (Actually I'm not even sure they're as big as an American double.) It was easy to drive into a town, stop at a convenient B&B -- they had signs to all the ones off the main road -- and put up for the night. One I got used to the size of the roads, I realized it's a very good road system; you can get from anywhere to anywhere, and there are signs to all towns and attractions -- though some are more readable than others. We did scratch the rental car, though -- good thing we'd paid for the damage waiver. (You know how VISA cards insure car rentals in most countries? Not in Ireland.)

Every town seemed to have a ruined castle or cathedral or abbey. You can see it in the place names: "cill" is Irish Gaelic for "church", so Kilkenny and Kildare, Killarney, Kilkelly, and Kilcoole were all major church centers. Some castles weren't ruined; we toured beautiful Georgian rooms in Dublin and Kilkenny. I think my favorite is Blarney; it's ruined enough to let you see how it's laid out, but restored enough to have bars in all the dangerous places and yes we did kiss the Blarney Stone. You have to lean way back on the top of the castle, so it's a bit scary. There are bars beneath though, and someone to hold your legs; I think you could fall out but you'd have to try hard.The castle is in beautiful grounds, too -- this is from a high-up window:

As mentioned, there were a few drawbacks; I'm convinced the Irish drink so much beer because the food isn't that great -- "and such small portions!" The beer is awfully good, though. Here's us at the top of the Guinness tour, looking out over

We drove from Dublin down the coast, to Waterford, to Kilkelly, to Cashel, to Cork, to Dingle, to Galway to Castlebar to Boyle to Trim to Drogheda to Dublin. The oldest things we saw were the 2000 year old beehive huts along the beautiful Slea Head Drive at the tip of the Dingle peninsula, that were still standing despite being built of drystone (no mortar) and a 5000 year old passage grave at Newgrange. We also saw any amount of prehistoric goldwork at the Dublin Museum. The oldest place we stayed was the Rising Sun Inn, built in Cromwell's time. It seems odd how many of the things we saw were built at rough times in Ireland's history; most of the older castles and cathedrals date from the 1200s, just when Henry II was conquering so he'd have something to give his favorite and youngest son John (the Magna Carta guy), and that inn and some tower houses build while Cromwell was ravaging the place. Also, a lot fo the newer churches, still in use, weren't contructed too far before or after the Great Hunger.

A partial list of what we saw is Dublin Castle, the National Museum, Dublinia (an
interactive history thin, not particularly recommended except for kids), the Guinness tour, Christ Church Cathedral, Ferns Castle, Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice's Cathedral, Blarney Castle, the Dingle Peninsula including the Slea Head Drive and Connor Pass, Ballintober Abbey, Boyle Abbey, the King House, Trim Castle, Newgrange. And I know I'm missing things in that list. The time constraints made us miss far too many things I'd wanted to see: the Giant's
Causeway, the Bushmills' brewery, the high crosses at Monasterbuice, the Ring of Kerry....

That's all right, though. It gives me plenty to see next time I go. And I won't mind going back at all, at all.

Posted by dichroic at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

back safe

We're back safe and we had a good time. More details later; just now I have to go
shopping and make some matzoh ball soup before I miss Passover entirely.

Posted by dichroic at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2003

walking pharmacoepia

Phew. Fortunately I feel signiicantly better today, though maybe a bit guilty for
skipping my workout again. Even Rudder said to, though, and when Mr. Work
Ethic says to take it easy, I listen. He mentioned that he'd heard some airports
are quarantining anybody with a temperature over 100.4, which was a bit worrying
since mine was up to 101 last night. Now there'd be a fun way to spend a vacation,
locked up in solitary in a London (or Dublin) hospital.

Also, T2 is
justifiably protective of Egret these days, so if I show up too sniffly, I can
just see him making us stay at a hotel. Can't argue with words like "high-risk
pregnancy". Incidentally, she's got only 3-4 months to go and says the twins are
now about 2 lbs each, if anyone out there has been curious. I don't think she's
updating Ziggymmuch these

Just in case, I have packed Tylenol (so I can land fever-free),
Nyquil (so I can sleep on the plane -- should help with jet-lag, too), Claritin,
and at least two kinds of Sudafed. If a small army gets sick in my vicinity, I'm

Posted by dichroic at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2003

sore throat

Today's mantra: I am not sick. I am not sick. I am not sick. It's only


Later: God DAMN it. 100.8 fever. So much for mantras. Now what do I do, besides
hope? And think healthy thoughts?

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

my mezuzah is melting

Yesterday the postamn left something I hadn't seen in my mailbox for quite a few
years: a Bat-Mitzvah invitation. Come to think of it, since I'm not close to my
cousins, don't have Jewish friends with 13-year-old daughters, and my babysittees
were male (and hence would have had bar mitzvot instead of bat) I don't think I've
gotten one of those since I was 13 or 14 and getting them from my

So imagine how much more surreal thigns got when I realized
this invitation was from me. It was for my mom's bat mitzvah, of course
(which already mandates a certain level of surrealness). Normal bat mitzvah
invitations (that is, those for 12 or 13 year old girls) like traditional wedding
invitations, are sent from the parents: "Mr and Mrs So-and-So proudly request your
presence as we wtach our daughter assume the mantle of Jewish womanhood..." or
some such. Apparently Mom felt odd sending out invitations in her own name, so
these are officially from Dad, me, and the brother. So now I'm inviting all sorts
of people I don't know or have met only briefly (though I do get to hear about all
of their operations and grandchildren) to watch my mother become a woman.

Also, she'll be dressed like a man, in some respects; apparently
things have changed since I went to these affairs regularly, and now Mom will be
wearing a kippah (yarmulka / skullcap) and tallit (prayer shawl). Presumably if
this were a weekday service she'd also wear tefillin (phylacteries) which are
small boxes held on to the head and the arm with long leather straps. They look a
little odd even on old men who have worn them all their lives.

that premise, maybe I should find a watch to wear that looks like it's melting.
Dali wasn't Jewish, was he?

Posted by dichroic at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2003

wing to wing, still

I would have used this one at my own wedding, except I didn't know it then. Today,
it's for Jenn and Rick, and also still
for me and Rudder, as we welcome them to the community of the very-happily-
married. Maybe they live there a very long time.

Robert Frost

No speed of wind or water rushing by

But you have speed far greater. You can climb

Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,

And back through history up the stream of time.

And you were given this swiftness, not for haste,

Nor chiefly that you may go where you will,

But in the rush of everything to waste,

That you may have the power of standing still-

Off any still or moving thing you say.

Two such as you with such a master speed

Cannot be parted nor be swept away

From one another once you are agreed

That life is only life forevermore

Together wing to wing and oar to oar.

I've posted this one href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/010325_64.html">before, way back when this
journal was very new and I had been away from my husband for far too long, a thing
I will never do again without a far better reason than "my company told me to".
(And yes, this would be the place that laid me off four months after I came back.)
I liked what Jenn's sister said, too, about their working out over time the degree
to which who protects whom; I think that may be one of the things it's necessary
to agree on, to stay together. Rudder mostly doesn't shelter me, and vice versa,
but that's what works for us. Seems like with most issues in a long-term
partnership, it's not so much what you agree on that matters, as whether you do
agree, or at least can find a way to remove that issue from

And starting in 2.2 days, I get to spend ten whole days with my husband! Whoohoo!
Whoever designed this work system where we see our random coworkers more than out
chosen mates ... well, was probably going back to hunter-gatherer patterns. But
you'd still think we'd have improved on that by now. Someone told me yesterday
about an Orthodox Jewish man who quit his job because it didn't allow him to spend
at least 12 hours a day with his family. Considering eight hours of that is
probably sleep, that sounds more than reasonable to me.

In other news entirely: I got href="http://fivehundred.diaryland.com">LIPS!!!!

(Listed as Paula, not Dichroic)

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

April 07, 2003


I'm almost all packed now, except for the inevitable things I've forgotten and the
things like my favorite contact lens case and the BCP that I can't pack unti the
last morning. But I'm still having to be severe with myself in order to prevent
myself from putting in another pair of shoes. On the other hand, given the 6 books
to read, the three guidebooks, and the one rowing book we need to return to T2,
self-discipline has not realy entered the picture.

I'm teaching
almost all day today, though. Maybe I could practice by disciplining them first.

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

April 05, 2003

trip prep

Well, Tyger has just
accomplished the near-impossible feat of making me feel good about the fact that I
shave my legs almost every other day. (Or at least, on any day in which there is a
possibility I will be seen in shorts of a skirt before the next shower.) Blame
Eastern European Jewish genes and the combination of dark hair and pale skin. I do
it in the shower; I use soap lather instead of shaving cream and it takes me
roughly a minute per leg. If they're especially dry afterward, I use moisturizing
lotion, which is currently Body Butter at home (two kinds, Nut and Mango, because
they were having a sale) and Lubriderm with sunscreen in the gym bag. The legs
have to be dragon-scaled before I bother moisturizing at the gym,

The major clothes are now packed for Ireland, which still
leaves shoes, PJs, toiletries, books, camera gear, and the carry-on stuff to be
packed between now and Thursday. We're still figuring out our driving itinerary,
but some of that will be decided on the road depending how long everything takes.
I'm thinking we can see most of the sights outside Dublin we care most about, from
Waterford to the Burren to the Giant's Causeway, but skipping the Ring of Kerry,
in five days. This might be overambitious but plans will be changed as occasions

My can't-go-home-without-seeing list includes the Guinness
Brewery, the Book of Kells and the Harp of Tara, a castle or two and a stone
circle and stone cross or three. There are quite a few of each of the three to
choose from, but the Rock of Cashel, Castle Matrix, and the Drombeg Stone circle
for preference. There's also a lot of stuff I suspect is less interesting to look
at than its history and the stories about it suggest, like Armagh (Ard Macha, the
hill of Macha) and the Hill of Tara, whence Brian Boru ruled.

Suggestions welcome.

Posted by dichroic at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2003

boots and bras

I may be the only woman in the world who could href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/traumbra.html">go up two bra sizes and
still end up in a size hardly anyone carries. I can wear a more common size (34B)
but the underwires end up in the wrong places. Ouch. Not that I really need
underwires. Not that I really need the damn thing at all, except for showthrough
issues. So why not just stick with the lightweight top-half-of-an-undershirt sort
of thing? As I said, showthrough issues.

Hey, href="http://mechaieh.diaryland.com/040403.html">Mechaieh opted out of doing a
bra rant today, so someone had to. And I never have too much trouble ranting on
that subject. I suppose I should be thankful I don't have to wear corsets,
crinolines, or girdles.

Despite the talk of undergarments and makeup
and the overindulgence in shopping, I don't think of myself as much of a girly
girl. So why am I having so much trouble restricting myself to only two pair of
shoes (brown laceup walking boots and black Doc-clones) for a week in Ireland? I
may end up throwing in a pair of ballet-slipperish things that weigh nothing just
so I can have something that goes on quickly and doesn't weigh 5 pounds or require
socks. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if Rudder brings nothing but his high-tops.
Less than a week before we leave!

Speaking of Rudder, he's still not
over his cold yet, and has been uncharacteristically easy going this week. It's
sort of scary. This is a man for whom "easy-going" can include the double practice
yesterday -- that is, he took a double out with She-Hulk and then again with the
erg champion guy. On the other hand, he did only light workouts Tuesday and
Wednesday and didn't exercise at all Monday and today. I hope he gets all the way
better (and I don't catch it) before we have to fly.

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

April 03, 2003

unlabeled and defiant

I've been reading some essays by a self-proclaimed href="http://www.ejectejecteject.com/">conservative lately, and he's got me a
little bit annoyed. The funny thing is, it's not because I disagree with him on
most subjects. It's not because I wouldn't like him, either: he's a pilot, a man
with opinions, a historian, and a hell of a good writer, all of which suggest I'd
enjoy meeting him. (Though I'm not sure it would be mutual.) What ticked me off,
mostly, is the scornful way he writes about liberals, all of whom are apparently
hypocritical yellow-bellied scum-sucking appeasers, as opposed to conservatives,
who are all moral, upright, freethinking heroes.

I don't like
stereotypes. I have not yet met a large group of people who all think enough alike
for a stereotype to be unfailingly accurate. There certainly are slimy liberals
who would rather be slaves than free men and women, as long as they could keep
their little luxuries, as well as conservatives who think for themselves, apply
logic, and live by their own moral code. On the other hand, I have encountered
liberals who are righteous freedom fighters willing to suffer to maintain other
people's rights and conservatives who are hidebound, hatebound, unthinking
followers of cheap idols. The labels are not wide enough to span the beliefs of
all those who march under them.

Furthermore, I have noticed that
while the most fanatic extremists on left and right tend to approach each other
somewhere in the swamps of fascism, there are a goodly number of moderates who
meet far on the oppisite side of the circle. That is, there are quite a lot of
Americans who don't want the government telling them what to do with either their
bedroom or their wallet. They have a wide spectrum of fine shades of belief on
other touchy issues such as guns or abortion, often winding up somewhere or other
in the intermediate area (that is, legal but with restrictions), and they are
almost all fervent believers in freedom of thought and speech. What I have seen is
that these people who share a core of belief describe themselves differently
according to their priorities. Typically, those who prioritize freedom in the
bedroom describe themselves as liberals, while those whose priorty is freedom of
the bankbook describe themselves as conservatives. (As I've already said I don't
like stereotypes, I want to point out I said "typically". It's not a universal
truth.) If people with very similar beliefs fall in under both banners, how can
one group be universally better or worse than the other?

I'll stand
up for my own beliefs here, in detail I rarely put up in a public forum. I believe
human worth and capability are not determined by gender, race, nationality, sexual
orientation, or any other external factor. I believe I should be the only one
deciding what happens to my body, and you to yours. Thus to me, whether abortion
is wrong or not is irrelevant; I can't make that decision for another independent
person, and by independent person I mean "self-aware individual", not "possessor
of human DNA". I'm a card-carrying member of the ACLU, and proud of it. (And why
aren't you? They're the only non-governmental organization I know of pledged to
protect our Constitution and the freedoms it guarantees for everyone, not just
those they agree with, and they've proved their convictions over and over. If you
don't like some of their stances, then join them and change those decisions.) So
mostly, I get branded a liberal. On the other hand, I think the NRA is actually
right about what the Second Amendment says; though I'm not always 100% sure I
agree with the Founding Fathers on that one, I'm also not sure they didn't know
more than I do about it. I support the death penalty, though only if it can be
fairly and accurately applied; we can't afford mistakes on something that
permanent, so if we can't do it right, we shouldn't do it at all. And I believe in
limited government. All rights not specifically granted to the government by the
Constitution do and ought to belong to the people. (Actually, the Constitution
says to the states or to the people, but I see no more reason to trust state
governments than national ones.) Based on those opinions, I am a conservative.
Labels don't fit me, and they rarely say all that needs to be said about anyone
else's beliefs either.

There are certainly gutless weasels,
unappreciative of their freedoms and those who have suffered for them. And there
are brave free-thinkers lovers of freedom. But you can't identify the players by
their shirts in this game.

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


It was a good morning for birdwatching; today at the lake I spotted three
pelicans, five snowy egrets, a heron (Great Blue?), a couple of ducks, and
zillions of those little birds that build mud apartment-style nests under the
bridges. (Swallows? or are those bigger?) Plus a couple of seagulls and some
various generic sort of bird. (I said it was a good day for it, not that I was
good at it. And yes, all that was here at my little man-made lake in the
middle of the Sonoran Desert.

Tuesday was even better; I did extra
distance (12k vs 11K today), spotted four pelicans as well as an avis even
more rara: a very large and fit guy who's trying out for the National team,
getting ready to go out just as I was bringing my boat in. (The part when he was
changing his shirt was especially good. ) I didn't see him this morning, but
Rudder, who stayed late to do a double practice, not only saw him but was coached
by him for a whole lap.

One of Rudder's vendors from work came to our
last regatta here and took some wonderful photos of us, mostly black and white and
with a posed, sculptural quality to them. She took him to lunch yesterday and
presented him with an small album as well as one enlarged image of me in a frame -
- definitely one way to keep your customer happy. I'd post a couple shots here,
but don't have a scanner. Which reminds me, we need to go to the camera store
this weekend and buy scads of film for Ireland. I may try some more black and
white on the digital camera, where I can switch on the fly, but really my strength
in photography is in colors and lighting -- alpenglow, sunrises over water, that
sort of thing.

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

April 02, 2003



I think it's a sign that Something is Wrong with your
daily life when scheduling a haircut gets difficult, every damned

I've been helping someone here at work come up with obscure
musical show trivia for a treasure hunt he's doing that may use that theme. I
haven't had so much fun in weeks. I love musicals and hadn't thought about some of
these songs literally in decades. If they need to get really tricky on this, I
figure I'll bring in the big guns, and call in my uncle. And maybe SWooP because I
don't know Jesus Christ Superstar or the Charlie Brown musical at

Don't you hate when someone says 'literally' and then it's clear
from the context they mean 'figuratively'? As in, "I was so excited I literally
went over the Moon." Oh yeah? Did NORAD see you??

Rudder is feeling a
bit better now but he didn't row Monday, slept in and erged instead of rowing
yesterday, and cut his gym workout in half this morning and went back to bed for
an hour or two. Good thing he's not having trouble breathing or I'd think he had
SARS. Either that or aliens have kidnapped my husband. (Remember that episode on
Soap when they replaced Burt and the alien posing as him got all excited because
he hadn't had sex in several hundred years? And the time in Bloom County where
they kidnapped Steve Dallas and replaced him with a SNAG? (Sensitive New Age

The cafeteria here makes really tasteless alfredo

I wish I got three weeks of vacation time. Or that I got comp
time for OT. I do get three weeks (one reason I took the job) but it's not really
enough. WOuldn't want to pay European taxes, but I wish I had their vacation.
Ihate it, too, that after all those labor fights to get to a ten and then an eight
hour workday, we seem to be going back the other way. I don't often get out after
only eight hours; try nine or ten and then a two hour round trip commute. I think
other people here probably work more hours than I do. Weren't we supposed to be
down to six hours and all telecommuting by now?

If I had a blog, this
is the sort of brain-gas that would be in it all the time. This is why I don't
have a blog.

Posted by dichroic at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

bad timing

Oops. Just realized that we will be in Ireland for the beginning of Passover as
well as Good Friday. We don't do a real Seder anyway, and I suppose I can make
matzo ball soup when I get back. (I admit it, I'm a bad girl. Even if we were
staying at home I probably wouldn't keep strictly Pasadic). Good Friday may be
more of a problem, though, as I have a hunch much of the country will be shutting
down for it. Oh, well; scenery is still there no matter what day it is.

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

April 01, 2003

recommended reading and more waffling

Here is one
reason I cannot comfortably be against this war, stated eloquently and with the
deep knowledge of history whose lack dismays me in so many supporters of both
viewpoints. It's an incredible essay well worth reading for its own educational
sake as well as for the lesson of history.

And yet ....

(I have
yet to state any position on this war without having an "And yet ..." once I dried
my tears of sorrowing pride there were still a couple points gnawing at me. I
would be comfortable betting a large sum of money that Mr Whittle, a self-desribed
reader of SF and evidently a student of military history, is familiar with Robert
A. Heinlein's dictum, "You cannot conquer a free man. You can only kill him." I
wonder if the converse is not true: "You cannot free a conquered man. You can only
kill or reconquer him." So are we doing the Iraqis a favor? If on the other hand
they are free, then we owe them the respect of spending more effort than I have so
far seen to gather their opinions on whether they want to be liberated. I
must waffle again, though, to note that it's quite possible we did so and I have
just not seen it -- and I will also note that something I heard from a Saudi
Arabian journalist on the news this morning does make it sound as if the Iraqis do
want to be freed from their current regime, though they they a different

Astute readers will note that I haven't even touched the
more difficult issue of whether we are justified in a preemptive attack on Saddam
on our own behalf. History is generally the only accurate judge of that sort of
question; all I can say is that those prepared to anticipate Clio had best be
damned sure of their facts.

I do believe war in necessary sometimes
to rout out an even greater evil (and Mr. Whittle articulates my views on that
perfectly) but by what units is evil measured?

My other reservations
have to do with not the fact of war but the manner in which it is prosecuted. I
know our military today contains the heirs to the bravery of soldiers in all our
earlier battles; I hope that we have within our current forces and the planning
bodies who rule them the heirs

to the brilliant tacticians of the Civil War
and WWII. And I hope those tacticians are allowed to do their jobs.

Posted by dichroic at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)