June 30, 2003

only minor problems

Grrr... I am so annoyed. I have the week off because we have a plant
sutdown for July 4th, and courtesy of the bonus they gave us a week or so ago, I
decided to really treat myself. I am scheduled to visit a local day spa today for
a sugar scrub (body skin exfoliation), a deep-tissue massage, a facial, and a
pedicure. I've been looking forward to all this with great anticipation. And what
do I go and do to myself on Saturday? I apply sunscreen without being careful
enough to get it everywhere and so I now have spots of sunburn. They're not bad
sunburn, mind you, since it was cloudy most of the day. I can touch them without
excruciating pain but they will not be fun to be massaged on. With luck the
masseuse (and the sguar-scrubber) will be able to work around

Still, if minor annoyances and ironies are the story of my
life, I can at least be grateful to avoid the major ones. One rower, stuck in a
traffic am while returning on Saturday night, wandered off into the desert for
unknown reasons (like maybe, finding a quiet spot away from all the other people
thinking to make a pit stop during the traffic jam), fell off a 6' high culvert,
and broke his hip and a wrist. They're replacing the hip joint today. It's enough
to make me feel I should be cherishing my minor annoyances.

didn't find out about his mishap until this morning, since we didn't come home
until last night. It was a fairly enjoyable weekend otherwise. I wasn't thrilled
about coming last (of three) in both of my races, but at least I rowed well and
didn't really do anything wrong. It's just that everyone else rowed well faster.
I really should try out some other sports where my size wouldn't be such a
disadvantage. The competition was a bit harder than I expected. Rudder won only
one medal, in his double with She-Hulk. Poor boy had five (!) races: heat and
final in his single, heat and final in the mixed double, and a double race with
another guy. After the race, we had a nice Thai dinner with a friend from one of
my lists who showed up in what she referred to as her "Professor McGonagall hat",
then breakfast and a walk on the beasch Sunday with She-Hulk and her son and his
girlfriend. The two teenagers also kept us entertained most of the weekend -- and
even helped out in spots. We derigged this morning (because it as far too hot last
night) then I was able to take a nice leisurely row, which I've have enjoyed far
more at about 20 degrees cooler.

Posted by dichroic at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2003

bad calls

OK, packed up and all ready for the race ... ready, that is, except that
AussieCoach has apparently given the race organizers the wrong ages for us. As it
turned out, he was only estimating and *told* them (he said) to use the ones in
the official entry packets, so it's not entirely his fault. Still, though, he gets
it wrong every damn time. These things would work out better if he'd only remember
that you can't just write someone's age down once and then assume it's the same
forever, especially not after a couple of years. (Then again, you can
generally assume that with names, and he gets my name wrong most times too, giving
me Rudder's surname. I correct him, he apologies, and then he goes and does the
same thing the next time.)

And because I found this info so useful
when I saw it on href="http://www.mythoslogos.net/journal.blogger.html">Mer's journal, I will
pass it on. As of today, you can register on the National Do-Not-Call list, though
telemarketers don't actually have to check it until October 1. Go href="http://www.donotcall.gov">here to register (though the server appears to
be a bit overloaded at the moment) or href="http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/donotcall/#rules">here for more

Off to the races - wish me luck!

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

June 26, 2003


Good God, it's freezing in here. I'm wearing not only the cardigan I keep at work
but also the blanket that normally lives in my truck. This isn't the first time
it's come in to work with me, but it is the first time in this company. Until I
went out and got the blanket, my fingers were going numb, then they did the pins-
and-needles thing while I was standing out there in 100+ degrees, waiting for my
core temp to climb out of the polar zone. The odd thing is, there's no reason for
it to be this cold and it usually isn't. Yesterday, I was comfortable wearing a
short skirt; today I'm freezing in jeans. In other Artic offices I've lived in,
the cooling systems had been designed to deal with banks of large heat-generating
computers that have now been replaced with small cards that have negligible
thermal outputs. Here, in the other hand, my end of the building is just offices,
so that's not it.

I'm hoping to begin telecommuting occasionally,
but my boss is being a bit restrictive about it -- she'll let me, but I'll have to
jump through a few hoops first, which I wouldn't mind so much if she hadn't been
working from home a lot herself lately.

Repeat the mantra: off all
next week, off all next week, off all next week....free time to do whatever I
want. (Except sleep in, what with another regatta only two weeks after this one.)
Still, I'm looking forward to that free time.

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

June 25, 2003


Well, this has been amusing. Because a bunch of us from work are going out
for lunch today, I asked Rudder if I could drive the href="http://riseagain.net/dichroic/images/garage_view.jpg">Orange Crush. So
far I haven't had too much trouble maneuvering around (well, except that it does
tend to want to overlap its parking space), but driving out of the gym parking lot
after showering I noticed almost everyone who walked by had the same reaction.
I've begun thinking of it as The Hummer Doubletake. They look once, realize what
they've seen, look again and walk away grinning.

Rudder has a shower
at work so doesn't use or park at that gym; I imagine people at the gym branch
closer to home where we lift are a bit more blase by now. But it's not often you
can make people smile just by driving by. Almost seems worth burning a frightening
amount of petrochemicals. (Rudder likes to point out that with his three-mile
commute, he uses less gas than I do in Zippy the gas-stingy

I've already had three people ask to ride with me to lunch. I
may have to take one batch of people up and a difference group back. Occasional
excess can be fun.

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

June 24, 2003

idiopathic ickiness

Crap. I've jut been feeling like complete crap on and off lately, and I'm
not sure why. Sunday before last I spent most of the day just laying on the sofa.
Yesterday I was fine until the drive home, then I started feeling progressively
worse (tired, burbling gut) and ended up eating about three bites of dinner and
going to bed. It's frustrating because I don't know why it's happening. I could
blame dehydration now that it's gotten hot, but I do spend most of the day in air
conditioning. Unfortunately [TMI warning] some of the general effects an usettled
stomach has on me tend to add to the dehydration factor. And now I feel icky
again, but at least I have a culprit: I drank something packaged as a juice
smoothie (pre-bottled, from the supermarket) this morning, not realizing skim milk
was the third ingredient. So now I'm in the throes of lactose intolerance.

I wouldn't mind so much if I could just take a day off and lie
down, but as usual that's not an option. I couod phone into my afternooon
meetings, but I'm already here and it wouldtake nearly an hour to drive home. The
worst effect is on my workouts. I can't just skip them, because I've got a race
this weekend. This morning I drove all the way out to the lake, couldn't bring
myself to go out on it, went home and erged instead. I did get a decent workout
(5K including a 1K piece only about 5 seconds below my best) but it's just
frustrating. And the scenery isn't as good. I don't know what this on-and-off-
ickiness is, but I wish it would *stop*!

Posted by dichroic at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2003


This article
by Jenny Bristow on Harry-Potter-as-phenomenon is kind of funny. I can only
conclude that the author has only scanned the HP books and has read no other
children's lit except for te Enid Blyton books she keeps mentioning. (Disclaimer:
Nothing against Blyton, but I haven't read her. Her books seem to be out of print
at the moment. * Later Disclaimer: I was wrong, there's plenty of Blyton available
at Amazon. But as far as I can tell, they're simple adventure books: the word
reviewers keep using is "enjoyable". There doesn't seem to be anything with an
actual Theme.) It's probably better to just ignore this sort of thing, but I'm in
an argumentative mood so I'll tackle her points.

1) Just because
parents and teachers didn't put Blyton in libraries, doesn't mean they should also
omit Rowling, even if they were on the same level. I happen to think they were
wrong in banning Blyton, and that reading trashy books is far more likely to lead
to reading good literature than is not reading even trashy books. It's quite
possible to go from Encyclopedia Brown to Agatha Christie to Dorothy Sayers (I
did, though somewhat more indirectly -- and I challenge anyone who claims Sayers
is not literature) or from Harlequins to Heyer to Austen.

Complaining that Goblet of Fire was too long is not necessarily the same
thing as lowering expectations for children. Seven hundred and some pages is a
scale approaching Tom Clancy. Bigger does not equal better, literarily -- often in
fact, bigger is more boring. It's to Rowling's credit that she doesn't get as
tediously verbose as Clancy, but still, a little pruning might not be entirely out
of order. And it's not unreasonable to expect a children's book to be one children
can actually lift.

3) I don't read children's books because I'm
"aspiring to be infantile"> I quite like being grown up and the privileges that go
with it, and I'm willing to accept the accompanying responsibilities. I read
classic (and future-classic) children's books because they're good books,
plain and simple. There are not so many wonderful books in the worl dhtat I am
willing to miss out on some because of an arbitrary age limit. Furthermore, an
appallingly large fraction of current literary fiction is flat-out boring, and I
don't expect a lot of it to survive a hundred years. In the past, some boring
books passed as exciting because no one else was writing that sort of thing in
language in better quality than penny-dreadfuls, as witness The Last of the
. There's too much competition for that mode of survival to work
today. (By the way, that's not just my opinion on Fenimore COoper; Mark Twain

5) "The 'crossover' appeal of Harry Potter to a grown-up
audience fuelled the conceit that there was something special, and more
challenging, about these books compared with other children's novels." Um, yeah.
Clearly the author is not familiar with the thriving online groups of adults
discussing L.M. Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lewis's Narnia groups, and on
and on.

6) "Harry Potter is not social commentary at all." This can't
have been written after reading Book 5, clearly. Or even after a careful reading
of Book 4; see my next point for details.

7) "There are few gray
areas and no difficult issues -- except death -- in the Potter books at all."
Well, if the principle that the end does not justify the means, that fighting a
great evil does not justify cracking down on individual liberties -- see Barty
Crouch in Book 4 for one instance, and most of Book 5 -- if those are not subtle
ideas, then why is it that so many in the American government have such trouble
understanding them?

I'm certainly not saying the HP books are unique
in literary quality among the mass of children's lit; it's only with the last two
that I've thought could be
at all to The Dark is Rising and the Narnia books. It's
probably better to read them before criticizing, however, as with most

In other news and as I keep reminding
myself, I am OFF all next week, due to our annual July 4 plant shutdown. Once we
get back from this weekend's race in Marina del Rey, I have almost no fixed plans.
Rudder's not off except for July 4 itself and anyway, we're trying to save money
as a result of being between the Ireland trip and the Antarctica trip. (Did I
mention we're going to Antarctica this Christmas? Well, we are.) I want to do some
beading, since it's been a long time since I have and I'm going to treat myself to
some ridiculous pampering at a day spa, courtesy of a small bonus last

Posted by dichroic at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2003

Harry Potter and the Order of Slip-ups

I'd have to say that the editors at Scholastic have surpassed their previous
record this time. I've noticed the following inconsistencies after only one and
one-quarter readings.

Harry Potter SPOILERS













Here there be


















all manere of strange









| >

  • Prefects can't take away House points? I'm too lazy to look it up but
    didn't Percy do just that in a previous book? Or was he Head Boy at the
  • And speaking of prefects, if Dumbledore picks them,
    then why did he pick Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson? Isn't there anyone less obviously
    evli in Slytherin?
  • And how did James Potter become Head Boy
    (ref Hagrid, early in Book 1) without being a prefect
  • And since when is Hermione good at interpreting
    other people's emotions?
  • Why couldn't Harry see thestrals
    before? He was there when his parents died, and possibly when Quirrel
  • And most important of all, even if you accept that
    Harry, Ron, and Hermione could all forget that Snape was part of the Order, how
    could Harry forget that Sirius gave him a package JUST IN CASE HE NEEDED TO
    CONTACT HIM???? If Harry had opened the mirror earlier the entire episode at the
    Ministry could have been avoided! How do you forget something like that right
    while you're frantically trying to figure out how to contact a

None of which, of course, will prevent my enjoying
the book over several future rereadings or keep me from preordering Book 6 as soon
as it's up on Amazon.

Posted by dichroic at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

HP5 and The Grey King

I think I've figured out my reaction to HP5 by analogy. With the first few books I
couldn't make a valid comparison between HP and Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising.
I like the latter much better; the initial HP books were fluff in comparison. Now
after Books 4 and 5 the comparison is mch closer, as Harry Dmbledore, et alia face
issue on similar levels to those in TDiR.

And now that I can compare
the series, I'd say that this book is equivalent to The Grey King I don't
love that one the way I do The Dark is Rising and Silver on the Tree
but it's necessary to the series; it introduces important characters (a major
factor in TGK, less so in HP5), sets up situations, and matures the central
character to where he can tackle his ultimate battle.

Posted by dichroic at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2003


Finished Order of the Phoenix, but don't worry, no spoilers here.

tone of this book, especially at the beginning, seems quite different .... which I
suppose is not too surprising, as Rowling herself must be a different person now,
with three years passed and a new marriage and new child. Somehow the Muggle-world
scenes seem more American, more modern, less fantastic. The scenes with the
Dursleys are less of a Roald Dahl-ish caricature. I would very much like to know
whether this book had different American and British versions; I think they
stopped that nonsense a couple of books ago but I'm not sure. (I know the art is
different; I just mean the words. And by the way, this is the best cover art

Harry himself is suddenly a teenager, not a child. And yes, the
good guys are a bit more ambivalent, including Harry himself, who did something at
one point that shocked me to the point of gasping out loud. Despite the darker
tone, though, there were quite a few laughs out loud. And even, I think, a Doctor
Who reference.

There are fewer cliffhangers in this one, but still,
she'd BETTER not wait another three years! Reading this one has reminded me of a
few more questions, an so I will be updating my previous "predictions" entry, but
for at least the next month or so I will keep it strictly honest and only put in
predictions I had at the end of Book 4, whether or not they panned out.

Posted by dichroic at 08:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2003


I've been thinking that it might be a good idea to get all my predictions and
questions for the rest of the Harry Potter series in a form where I can update it
and check back later. In listening to the Harry Potter books on tape while I'm
waiting (impatiently!) for Book V, I've noticed a comment or two I missed during
all my rereadings.

I have not read Book 5 yet, so there are no
spoilers here past Book 4. (Later update: I have now read Book 5, but will not put
any spoilers for Book 5; there are at least a couple you can now see if I've been
right one. I'm adding in ones I had forgotten here but will be honest about only
putting in predictions I already had, whether or not Book 5 confirmed them.)Given
the fact that these are YA books, I suspect that JKR is not being fiendishly
devious and that the reasonably subtle hints will pan out, rather than being red
herrings to hide other developments. (Also, I suspoect some of these hints are
less obvious to those who don't frequent internet discussions of the HP books. So
yes, I really do think that Ron and Hermione will end up together, and that their
relationship is not a front for an abiding passion between Harry and Hermione (or
Harry and Ron, for that matter). Similarly, I do think Dumbledore will die
somewhere in the rest of the series, based on Rowling's and Dumbledore's own
comments about death. I suspect he'll appear again after that, somewhat in the
fashion of Obi-Wan Kenobi. (Use the Force, Harry!)

I have a theory
for why Dumbledore looked triumphant about Voldemort's having gotten a bit of his
father's bone, Wormtail's flesh, and Harry's blood in Book 4; it goes back to what
Hagrid told Harry way back early in Book 1: "Don't think he had enough human left
in him to die." Maybe now he does?

I do think Percy will end on the
side of the good guys, but possibly not before a more serious flirtation with what
I think of as the Crouch-Ashcroft path of justifying the means with the ends. Or
at least more Fudge style denial. Early comments have said Ron plays Quidditch
keeper in this book, so I'm guessing he'll end up Quidditch Captain by his last
year. Hermione is a cinch for Prefect and possibly Head Girl. I have a feeling
Harry may be Head Boy, though I can't see how that would be justified so maybe

Dumbledore had mentioned Trelawney making at least one other
correct prediction, and I think that will relate to Harry as well. I keep thinking
Snape will show a good side, but that may just be from reading too many fanfics. I
think it's probably safe to bet that *anything* Dumbledore says will turn out to
mean something, so Harry's saving Wormtail's life in Book 3 will have to come into
play at some later point. Also, his comment that "those we love never truly die"
could refer to Lily and James' appearance in Book 4, but I wonder if it also means
we'll see *ahem* the person who dies in Book 5 again?

Quesions: How did Harry turn out so well mannered? Certainly the Dursleys wouldn't
have taken any pains to bring him up to be considerate. What do wizards learn who
don't attend Hogwarts? What happened to Hagrid after his expulsion and before he
was old enough to take the gamekeeper job? He was only 13 when expelled, after
all. Why would a human man want to sleep with a giant (and how could he?) Why are
Harry and Ron still taking Divinations instead of switching to Arithmancy or
Muggle Studies when they think Trelawney is a useless fraud? (Are they not allowed
to sitch once they've decided?)

Inconsistencies: Why in the first book are people given only a point or two at a
time, but later only given (or subtracted) 5 or 10 House points? Why do wizards
know so little about Muggles when so many are Muggle-born? How could someone like
Arthur Weasey, whose actually studied them, be so bad at Muggle-lore?

More later.

Posted by dichroic at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

high energy day

I came in to work this morning with so much energy it's almost a pity I
don't have more to do this morning. She-Hulk and I had a great practice and I was
listening to Harry Potter III in the car on the way to work this morning -- the
part where Gryffindor wins the Quidditch Cup. One thing about listening to a book
on tapethat I'd never realized before is that write-ups of sports can be as
adrenaline boosting as watching a real game -- and Quidditch beats the heck out of
football or basketball anyway, as a spectator sport.

And there's the
news from O, Canada yesterday -- it's purely mind-boggling to see legislators of a
whole big country do something morally right, that takes some guts, in a large
enough body to pass the bill. Even if I did think love between two people with
similar plumbing was somehow less worthy -- and if it's really love and the
willingness do the work to make it flourish, how can it be? -- as I've written
before, I've never quite figured out how gay marriage can even affect the sanctity
of any other bond. Given how many traditionalist people still try to live up to
gender stereotypes, anyway, I suspect my own marriage is structurally more like
your average gay marriage than thes of those so-loud so-called Christians opposing

Posted by dichroic at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2003

so far so good

It's a rare thing to catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror and think "She's just
adorable," instead of "Ick. I look like that??" I seem to be having a good
hair-and-face day. Wearing all black always helps. Also I'm in a good mood because
we just had a Big Important Meeting, organized by yours truly (at the boss's
direction, not on my own hook) go fairly well. It might have been even better if I
had remembered to change the date on the slide master so the slides didn't say
"Jan 23 2003". Later today I get to do the VERY LAST ONE of this series of classes
we've been giving all year. Woohoo!!!

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

June 18, 2003


Sorry, haven't posted today due to extreme swamped-ness.

Rudder and I
will reach our 10th anniversary of marriage on July 4, just two weeks and two days
from now. When I called to remind him of this and ask how he wants to celebrate*
he said, "You mean besides sleep?" I don't think he was joking.

won't be traveling anywhere because we'll just be coming back from a regatta and
because of saving to travel to Antarctica this Christmas)

Posted by dichroic at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2003

more training blather

Whatever low-grade minor ickiness felled me on Sunday was still having a tiny
effect by this morning. Nothing major, I just had less energy than expected while
rowing this morning. Despite that, I managed to do 12K, so I'm pleased. I have a
race weekend after next but will not taper down for this one much, except for
doing a short row on Thursday so I can unrig the boat and loading it on the truck
instead of rowing on Friday.

She-Hulk and I have our second row
together, and our last row together before the race, on Friday morening, so I'm
hoping to be more energetic by then. It's not that I've been actually sick, more
like just not-quite-right - stomach cramps, low-grade fever and no motivation to
get up off the couch Sunday, stomach burblies last night, low energy this morning.
I'm almost back to regular status, I think. I hate when this happens right before
a race.

After the Regionals on July 13, I think I'm going to take a
week completely off (not from work, just working out). If my body wants to
collapse, it can just bloody well wait.

By the way, since I href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/plsnodelay.html">complained about a minor
problem with Amazon, it's only fair to note that they fixed it. After increasing
panic when they hadn't answered my emai in about 5 hours (they say they generally
answer within 24, so that's not unreasonable), I looked up their 800 number. Yesm
they still have one; it's not posted on their site anywhere I coud find, but I
googled up a 1-800 directory and found it easily enough. I spoke to a very nice
lady who immediately understood the importance of the problem and told me to
disregard the site's shipping estimate. They were still promising free Satrurday
shipping to anyone who ordered up through the 17th, and this was still yesterday,
so I'd have been OK even if it were a new order. Then she promised to keep
checking periodically to make sure the order would be shipped as promised, and
I've just received an automatic email saying the book will be shipped on 6/20 and
get here 6/21, as promised. Yay, Amazon, Dichroic's (relative) sanity will be

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

June 16, 2003

Sonoran Storm

Just playing around with the Ampersand June challenge, stir up the dust:
Sonoran Storm

Stir up the desert dust, sage-scent the air
Sweep the scirocco across the arroyos
Anvil the cloud tops, trail veiling virga
Shaping the storm, swirling the sky.

Scythe the storm-harbinger through summer's languor
Slice blade-cold wind across terra-cotta heat
Blow in the dust cloud to brown out the vista
Then roll down the thunder, hope for the rain.
Posted by dichroic at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

please don't delay!

I did finally get my relaxing weekend. (A clear case of being careful what you
wish for...) On Saturday we went up to the property, watered living trees and cut
down a few others and took the remains to the brushpit. I hope we keep getting
rain so we can finally emerge from this drought. Yesterday I was a bit off-color
with a low-grade fever and so did nothing but read all day; I think this may be my
body's way of shouting "Slow the fuck down!!" It was a pleasure to get through
four books for once, instead of a fourth of a book as my busy schedule has been

This morning has not been relaxing at all, even though I'm
going in to work a little later than usual. I stopped to check email and found
that Amazon had sent a note saying the payment listed for my order of the fifth
Harry Potter book was invalid. This is not terribly surprising, since I ordered it
in late February of *2001*. Yes, I have been waiting for this book a very long
time. Yes, I am on tenterhooks for it. Of course, I went to Amazon's site right
away and fixed the payment method. Now instead of the free next day shipping they
promised me a good six months ago, the order says it will have standard shipping
and will not arrive until Jun 26 - July 2! Other bibliomanes may understand how
painful this is. I wish Amazon still had a customer service phone number; I have
sent an email and hope to hear back soon. If they don't fix this, they may lose a
significant part of my business.

Yes, I am talking about a mere five
day delay. No, I don't think I'm overreacting. As I said, bibliomanes will

Posted by dichroic at 06:45 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2003

the ideal house, part 2

The ideal house, part 2

I may not mind stairs, but I am both
practical and lazy. I want all the conveniences a design can afford, like a garage
that opens on to the kitchen, a well-organized kitchen to cook in, and lots and
lots of storage space. I want hallways and bathrooms big enough for wheelchairs,
just in case, and door knobs, light switches, and faucets designed to be easy to
use. With luck arthritis won't be a problem for us for a long time, but we might
have older visitors. Besides, there are times when my hands hurt enough from
rowing that those would be useful now, or when I have a full armload of groceries
and need to open a door. I could probably write another whole entry on just the
kitchen, but I will mention dark wood cabinets, maybe a dark cherry stain, some
with glass doors, and stone counters. And a double oven, a sink with a sprayer and
a filtered water outlet, and a couple of those dish washer drawers, so you can do
a big load or a small one. Oh, yes, and a small wine fridge.

I'm not
much of a decorator, so someone else might have to fine tune the decor, but I know
some of what I want. I want wood, tile, or stone floors, depending on the climate
and the style of the house. I walk barefoot a lot, so I'd love underfloor radiant
heating. I want bookshelves in almost every room, either built in or free-
standing; I'm lusting over the dark wood ones with glass doors we saw in the href="http://www.rosenbach.org">Rosenbach Museum. (Though not quite as much as
I'm lusting over the fabulous books in them, including incunabulae that would have
Peter Wimsey's mouth watering. Actually, given their contemporaneous timing and
each of their reputations, Lord Peter would certainly have bought some of his
collection from Rosy.) I'd like a library room, but I also love having some books
right by my favorite chair, cookbooks in the kitchen, some old favorites or *ahem*
special topics by the bed, and reference books in the office.

thing I wouldn't change is what's hanging on the walls: there are a few family
photos and then lots and lots of framed photographs from Australia, New Zealand,
Taiwan, Paris, Oregon, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and I don't remember what
else. We still need to add some from Korea, Alaska, and Ireland. I think they'd
look better, though, on wood walls -- not paneling, more like the inside of a log
cabin. I could be happy with painted walls if that's not feasible, though I'd like
fewer of them to be white than in the current place. Within those walls, I'd like
leather furniture, maybe with pillows and throws that I could change according to
the season: lighter colors and textures in summer, warmer colors and heavier
textures in the winter. Rugs, too, though I'd likely choose curtains I could use
all year round. (There is no sense deluding myself into thinking that even in an
ideal house I'd get around to changing things more than twice a year.)

I'd like an office each for me and Rudder, both with computers and
Internet access, but both also with plenty of counter space and good lighting and
in mine, space for beading and some other crafts. We also need an exercise room
with room for the erg and some weights, a TV and boombox and mat for stretching, a
work room or airconditioned section of the garage, and a comfy spare bedroom.

I'd like the house to be set somewhere with views and reasonable
privacy so we didn't always have to close drapes on every window. I want a master
bedroom on the second floor and trees around; I loved the MBr in our first house
because it had windows on both sides looking at treetops and when the wind blew it
felt like being in a treehouse. The master bedroom has to be reasonably large,
with big closets and plenty of wall space for our dressers, because though neither
of us is a fashion maven, we have far too many clothes (regatta T-shirts do mount

I want water outside, though in what form will depend on the
climate. Here, the pool is essential; in an area with cold weather I'd just want a
hot tub and maybe a small pond. I think humans just like being by water; I know
we get much more use from our backyard now, even though we aren't really in the
pool all that much, than we ever did with dry yards. Other than that the yard
needs to be nice looking but very low maintenance; the queen palms, other palms,
cactus, bougainvillea, sagebrush, eucalyptus, jacaranda and oleanders we have now
work very well for us. The rosemary I planted is thriving; I'd like to add a few
other hardy herbs and a couple of fruit trees since our climate is good for them.
(Our little orange tree has produced exactly one fruit to date.)

wonder what I've missed. I know there must be several things.

Posted by dichroic at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2003

house dreaming

The gravid but still sparkling Mistress
mention of turrets got me thinking about houses. Actually, it
doesn't take much to get me thinking about houses. If I were an architect, I'd be
working on single-family homes and maybe the odd townhouse, and to hell with the
money and prestige being in public buildings. I like looking at house-plans and
home magazines, though you couldn't tell it by looking at my own

My idea of what a house should be (Not a home. Houses are what
builders and decorators create, the physical structure, You can only create a home
by living in it.) can be summed up as "rambling". I picture the ideal house as
being a bit Victorian in structure, with lots of rooms and corridors to wander
about. This probably derives from having grown up in a small rowhouse in NE
Philadelphia then spending my last year and a half at college in the large
Victorian houses in University City in West Philadelphia. I have recurring dreams
that I'm in my parents' house, or my grandparents' and find a secret passage into
huge sunny rooms and decks in the attic and on the roof.

My idea of
hell is one of those layouts with a big open area in the middle for the living
room, dining room and kitchen, master bedroom on one side, other bedrooms on the
other side, everything visible if you're standing in the middle of a house. I like
houses you can't assess at a glance. I want nooks and crannies and a feeling of
there always being somewhere else to go. Open and spacious houses are fine to a
degree, but I want at least some walls so I can believe there's something
wonderful unseen on the other side. I like two (or more) story houses more than
ones all on a level, unless the latter are very spread out. I like having more
than one path through the house, like in those New Orleans houses where everything
opens off a long corridor, but the rooms also connect to each other. I wouldn't
even mind a secret staircase.

I want unique architectural details,
with big wood doors and stained glass windows, possibly even a modicum of
gingerbread trim. Rudder and I own a lot on an airpark, and hope to build a house
there someday with a cupola on top, to watch the planes rise off the runway. I
like wood and stone, though I might choose their modern imitators for fire safety
-- parts of the airpark were hit by the vicious fires out there last summer. I
don't want a garage that takes up most of the facade, though I would like
one with room for three cars and some workspace, so it will have to be in a
separate building or carefully placed, maybe opening sideways.

mostly covers just the facade and floorplan -- I've got loads to write about what
I want inside, so this will have to continue to another entry.

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

June 11, 2003

more exercising

I did my 6K piece this morning - don't think I beat my old PR, but close. I did
get it in under 29 minutes, which is what I was aiming for. But do you know what
this means? I am DONE .... done the 1K, done the 6K, done the max watts pull, done
the dreaded 90 minute piece, even done the max heart rate test that wasn't really
a part of all this sequence but I did it anyway to get it out of the way. Done.
Donedonedonedonedone. At least until next time, which won't be soon. And yeah,
maybe a little tired and punchy still.

Oh, sure, now you want
results? I haven't seen all the numbers yet because the Rudder-man has the article
this all came from at work, but he checked and tells me that it shows I need to
work on my Aerobic Threshold -- that is, I'm weakest on long endurance pieces, the
longer the weaker. Big surprise. And yes it is quite a lot of effort to find what
I already knew, but it's nice to have real data. It's also reassuring to see my 1K
piece (used to find VO2max) is right where it should be given my

I've had a hard time writing here lately, Even though most
of the big training push is done, work has been frenetic and I think I'm using up
all my creativity on that. I don't plan to take a hiatus, though, any more than I
intend to quit working out just because I'm tired right now. I think my creativity
needs to be exercised, too.

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

June 10, 2003

on grapes

There are grapes in my refrigerator. They're very good grapes, and they're already
paid for, so I'm going to eat them no matter what. The question then lies in the
next bunch of sweet green globes to tempt me at my neighborhood grocery. I felt
very virtuous, in that pseudo-righteous eating-healthy way, that I bought several
kinds of fruit last time we went shopping. The part I tend to forget, until
reminded by someone like NPR, is that grapes are
picked by migrant workers. In this case they are migrant workers working in the
Coachella Valley of central California. It's a beautiful, fecund place to drive
through, as we did just a few weeks ago en route to Sacramento, but apparently one
with housing for grape-pickers that is crappy even by migrant worker standards.
Which is to say, nonexistent -- you just stake out a bedroll next to the car you
rode in on. In defense of the area, there are dedicated groups there working to
make a difference and provide decent housing, but they can serve only a tiny
fraction of the hordes or workers needed for the grape harvest.

As I
see it, I have a few choices on how to react. 1) Boycott grapes. Clearly, my tiny
buying power won't make enough difference to matter, but if enough people join me,
we can hurt the grape growers. Trouble is, grape growers = employers. Hurt them
enough and there will be no agricultural jobs in which case migrant workers could
stay in their homes but would starve there. 2) Keep buying grapes. This helps keep
workers emplyed but leaves them in the same unsatisfactory situation. 3) Buy
grapes but also donate to one of the several causes working on migrants' housing
and education for their children. This may be the best I can do; the only problem
is that it turns so easily into 4). Buy grapes, promise myself to donate and never
get around to actually cutting a check. I'm already behind on donating and
rejoining my usual groups, so this is a real problem for me. I suppose liberal
applications of self-discipline would help....

rowing news, I'm back. Over my burn-out, I am back to training hard and
ready to race .... just in time for the most unpleasant time of year to train, the
summer. Sigh. But in my next regatta, I will be racing in not only lightwieght
singles, but also in a double with She-Hulk (Hardcore can't make the next two
races) and maybe even a quad. So I'm training, I'm motivated, and I'm there. Just
still a little slower than I'd like.

Posted by dichroic at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2003

needing a rest day

Going to the gym this morning, instead of taking a rest day, was NOT a good idea.
My body has let me know clearly and unequivocally that tomorrow will not involve
rowing, the lifting of heavy weights, or sweating (much -- after all, it is summer
in Phoenix).

So far, I'm not minding the summer heat here as much as
usual. There's nothing like driving through the seedier parts of Philadelphia on a
gloomy day to remind me of all the benefits of living in Phoenix. Not to mention
spending time in rowhouses or old apartments. On the other hand, I've only been on
the water about once since getting back, so my opinion may still change. We've
been traveling to cooler climates about once a month on average lately, which also

I am *so* sleeping in tomorrow. All the way until 6.

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

June 08, 2003

mil approaching

Good heavens. I will probably hit my 1000th diary entry in a month or less. What's
a good way to celebrate?

Posted by dichroic at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2003

on the erg again

Well, here I am, me and my relaxing weekend ... so far today I've done a 90 minute
erg piece, gotten the oil changed in my truck, and gone on a major food-shopping

I'm still tired from the erg. This was part of the erg
series that is supposed to tell me what I need to work on -- now I just have to do
a 6K piece and a max heartrate test. For some idea of today's pace, I did 16,745
km and in that comprised a 6K less than a minute slower than my best time (if I'm
remembering correctly -- it may be more, judging from a 5K I have a record of) and
a personal record 60 minute piece. I'm still tired.

Now I need to go
cook steak au poivre. There's a lot to love about a gourmet meal that only takes
about 15 minutes. total.

Posted by dichroic at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2003

the dark side of fandom

Here we go again -- approaching what is supposed to be a "relaxing" weekend, since
we were traveling the last two. Um, yeah. Maybe somewhere between the necessary
food-shopping, laundering, the 90 minute erg piece I need to do, the straightening
up, and the pool cleaning, I'll manage to relax sometime in there.

Maybe not.

Only two more weeks until the new
Harry Potter comes out, but I'm thinking it may be time to put in another Amazon
order. I tend to put books in my cart there as I think of them (I love that
persistent shopping cart) and then purchase when the cart reaches a critical mass.
Right now, though, I need to either postpone some items until later or make that
purchase, before that mass becomes a little too critical for my credit card's

Besides, it's not like Order of the Phoenix will take all
that long to read. And speaking of that, the longer I read href="http://www.livejournal.com/users/angiej">Ebony's blog, the more respect
I have for her, but the less appealing the whole world of HP fandom becomes.
Disgusting, even. I mean, really, it's a book. A book aimed at children,
albeit a really, really good one. Bibliomane that I am, many as are the books that
really have changed my life, even I have trouble with the idea of people seriously
fighting, nastily, over who should end up paired with whom. It's just wrong on so
many levels:

  • fighting over fictional
  • fighting over the romantic antics of people who are
    only fifteen and thus likely to shift pairings for quite a while
  • fighting over the romantic pairings of anyone other than
  • getting more serious about fanfic than about the original
    canonical story -- well, maybe where the original is a bit week, or now closed,
    and fandom is very strong, as in Original Star Trek, but for heaven's sake,
    Rowling is still writing
  • ad hominem snipes at other people
    for honest preferences
  • I'm sure there's more, but those are the
    top ones. I should stress that I have never seen Ebony herself do any of these --
    I think she writes about, reads and talks about her preferred shipping* for fun
    and friendship only, with a sense of proportion, but she does often discuss the
    darker side of the fandom.

    *H/H -- for not fandom types, this means
    she likes the idea that Harry and Hermione will end up together despite the
    OBVIOUS AND CLEAR canonical evidence Hermione and Ron like each other in "that"
    way. Just kidding -- I mean, I really do think JKR has thrown out unmistakeable
    hints about R & H, but as I said (and as Ebony has pointed out) they're only 14 in
    the fourth book and a crush now doesn't preclude any future entanglements.

    Posted by dichroic at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2003

food and training pain

Lunch at Claim Jumpers (on the Bosstrienne, because someone in our group got
promoted plus free ice cream day at work (because we've gone a very long time with
no injuries) leads to a full body and a logy mind for Dichroic.

will also lead to a lot of me to drag back and forth on the erg tomorrow, when I'm
scheduled to do a 6K piece. Oig. Yesterday I did a personal bets on a 1K piece;
I'm conflicted on whether to be proud of that or not because it was a whopping .2
seconds better than one I did two YEARS ago. On the other hand, I'm in the top 50%
in the rankings on the Concept II (the erg's makers) website for lightweight
women, which isn't too bad considering that even a lot of lightweights are much

Sometime after I get the 6K done, I get to have even more
fun with a 90 minute piece. The idea is to do a 1K, a 6K, a 90 min, a max heart
rate trial, and to get the max watts you can pull and then do some sort of ratios
that will tell you whether your weakness is strength, endurance, or what --
something Rudder found while researching training. I'll be very shocked if
endurance isn't my weakest point. Rudder did his 90 min piece this morning and is
apparently still felling like crap (actually, that's a direct quote). Something to
look forward to in my near future. The things we do for speed......

Posted by dichroic at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2003

major geekiness

I am disappointed to have scored only 38% (Major Geek) on href="http://www.innergeek.us/geek.html">The Geek Test (not being a gamer or
movie fan).

On the other hand, I am disproportionately excited that I
will be receiving Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in less than three
weeks (having ordered it more than a year ago).

It hasn't escaped me
that the two may be related.

Posted by dichroic at 03:39 PM | Comments (0)

in other words, huh?

I have a couple of Judaic / linguistic issues stemming from last weekend's Bat
Mitzvah odyssey:

I'd ordered kosher meals on the plane not because I
ever have or ever expect to keep kosher or even because I believe in holy food for
special occasions (see next story) but because I hoped they might suck less than
regular airline food. They don't, in case you were wondering, but they were
interesting. On the way out, they served me a sandwich with the bread packaged
separately from the meat, which by the way was the most disgusting looking corned
beef I have ever seen, and I usually like corned beef. An enclosed note hinted
that "because it might not be convenient to wash your hands at this time, you
might want to save the bread for later". And what would you do then? Eat the
corned beef alone, and then gulp down dry bread in an airport lavatory? If there
is any gustatory appeal to this option, I fail to see it. Also, while handwashing
is indeed a part of the ha-motzi, or blessing over bread, it is generally symbolic
-- dipping your fingers in your water glass is sufficient, and glasses of water
are not usually hard to come by on airplanes. I also found it interesting that
the blessing on the back of the note (not the ha-motzi, which they must
presume anyone religious enough to request a kosher meal would know by heart, but
a blessing for travelers) was in the Ashkenashic Hebrew that would be used by,
among others, Chasidic Jews, rather than the Sephardic Hebrew used in Israel.
Interesting demographic commentary. It's even more interesting because the
difference is not in the written Hebrew itself but in the transliteration next to
it -- Ashkenazic Jews pronounce an undotted taf as 's', Sephardim as 't'. There
was no translation. I wonder, also, why a transliteration was included - how
likely would a traveler be to be religious enough to eat kosher and want to recite
a blessing, but not educated in Hebrew enough to read the original? I know
several people who meet two of those descriptions (first and second OR first and
third), but none who are all three. I also noticed (using the prayer to practice
my rusty Hebrew before the Saturday service) that the transliteration had a word
missing -- not one of the words, like a name of God, that would normally be
abbreviated or used in a cryptic form on a throw-away bit of paper. Even more
interesting, the flight home, bought from the same airline but run by a different
one, with kosher food provided by the same company, did not have the bread
packaged separately.

On Sunday, I had a slight debate with my mother
on a related topic. She was telling the story of someone who had served shrimp
(shellfish are not kosher) at a bar mitzvah: "I can see it at an anniversary party
or something, but not at a bar mitzvah!" I disagree, at least for some cases. Some
Jews don't keep kosher, not because they don't beleive they ought to but because
it is just too much trouble. My mother is one of these, hence her argument. She
has been vaguely tending toward kashrut lately, though -- now she doesn't eat pig
or shellfish, but doesn't salt her meat, avoid mixing milk and meat, or eat only
animals killed according to the proper ritual. Other Jews, on the the other hand,
don't keep kosher -- they don't believe in literally following the Bible and may
believe the laws of kashrut were originally health precautions for a primitive
peoepl in a hot desert, or for whatever other reasons. To my mind, if you don't
keep kosher because you don't believe you are required to do so, then it makes no
sense to keep kosher on special religious occasions. After all, who are you trying
to impress? God? Other people? Either way, it doesn't seem likely to

A final linguistic note: "Bar Mitzvah" means "son of the
commandments", not in Hebrew but in Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke, as the
rabbi oddly pointed out during the service). For women, the phrase is "Bat
Mitzvah", "daughter of the commandments". (Purists will point out that
"commandment" is not a complete translation for "mitzvah", but that's not the
issue here.) Oddly, the plural used if, for example twin boys were undergoing
their Bar Mitzvah ceremonies on the same day, is "B'nai Mitzvot", which (I think)
uses the Hebrew word "ben" instead of the Aramaic "bar". The word "mitzvah" is of
the feminine gender so takes the 'ot' feminine plural. For my mother and the other
four women standing up there, the service used the phrase "b'not mitzvot" which,
if I am remembering correctly (on which I might bet trivial sums but not large
ones) is a feminine Hebrew plural added to a masculine Hebrew word (yes, Hebrew
uses the grammatic rule that the male encompasses the female) in order to
pluralize a feminine Aramaic word. Wouldn't the gender of the plural depend on the
gender of the word instead of the sex of the person described? Or in other words,

Posted by dichroic at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2003

back home again

I'm back. The weekend wasn't too bad and more important, I think my mother was
happy with the way things went. I spent almost the whole time eating and sleeping,
the former courtesy of two brunchs and two family dinner outings and the latter
courtesy of a 3AM arrival on Saturday morning, followed by the necessity of
arriving at synagogue at 9. (Yes, we managed to stay awake during the service.
Even Rudder, who had never been to one, and couldn't join the singing or try to
keep up with the Hebrew. He's a veteran of far too many

One thing worries me a bit: I went expecting to hear the
usual chorus of "Oh, Puawleh (how my name is rendered in a NE Philly accent) you
never change!" Instead, the reaction was evenly split between "I haven't seen you
since you were this high ]" (holding a hand about 3 feet off the ground -- these
being people who saw me last when I was at least 17) and "You don't look like a
little girl anymore!" Well, at 36 I should hope not -- but it was amusing to watch
them back-pedal to assure me they didn't mean I look old. I think that may mean I
do look old. Then again, there was one woman there with whom I used to carpool
when we were about 10. I last saw her in junior high or so -- and I thought she
looked old. Good, though.

We got back too late for me to go into work
as I had planned, which is unfortunate since I hadn't wanted to use a vacation
day. On the plus side, I was able to go get a couple of watch batteries changed
and to finally spend a gift certificate that was a late birthday gift --
things I'd been wanting to do for weeks and hadn't had time to do. I tried on a
bathing suit or two, also, but that can only be described as a depressing
experience. Whether or not I look old in a dress, I certainly do in a

Almost forgot: there was one exception to the eating/sleeping schedule. We (me,
Rudder, my brother and uncle) did get to the Rosenbach museum, which I had wanted
to visit for years. (Last time I was there and had time, my parents dragged me to
the zoo instead.) The museum, in a gorgeous townhouse on Delancey, was the home
and officeof the the famous bookdealer A.S.W. Rosenbach (mentioned in Nicholas
Basbanes' books and almost anything else I've ever read about serious book
collecting) and his brother Philip, and antique dealer. As you'd expect, it's full
of wonderful Colonial furntiture and some incredible books -- a 1st ed of Don
Quixote, manuscripts of Joyce's Ulysses and parts of Dickens' Pickwick Papers and
Nicholas Nickleby, many incunabula and unique historical papers. Lord Peter Wimsey
would be in his glory.

Posted by dichroic at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)