August 31, 2003


Its all Mechaieh'sfault for telling me
about a rowing magazine writing gig. How could I resist that? Writing samples
together, check, only two or three weeks later than I meant to have them. Actualy,
I found a bunch of old stuff I had forgotten on the other computer, so I'll have
more than I thought. Now all I have to do is write a cover letter and query letter
to go with them.

Um... anyone know how to write a cover letter and
query letter for this sort of thing? I mostly only know about cover letters for
technical jobs.

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

August 29, 2003

pines and mindreaders

Now Jenn's got me jonesing for some
fresh pine air. Fortunately, I think we're going up to the property tomorrow. The
high country around Arizona's Mogollon Rim is actually a lot like parts of Oregon,
and the area farther north around Flagstaff is much like the drier parts of the
Cascades. The air is clear and the temperatures are comfortable all year round. We
don't have horses in the area where we own a lot (though there are some, not to
mention bison, right across the main road) but since it's an airpark we do have
the tang of avgas in the air.

I didn't update yesterday because I was
helping out at a company event all day. I won't go into detail but will note it
was about the best run thing of its sort I've ever seen. It was held at a Hyatt
Regency and everything was first class all the way.

By the time I got
to go home, it was about ten PM -- well past my bedtime but the event had a racing
theme and we were all pretty revved up by the end. I'd driven the Mozzie in and
had put it in valet parking, mostly because I never did figure out where the
regular parking was, if they had any. Besides, the day before I'd noticed the
valets were trying not move the seats from where the owners had them, so I figured
it would be pretty funny watching someone tall (they were all tall, compared to
me) try to get out out my car. (It wasn't, as it turned out, because he did have
to move the seat back a bit.) As I got into my car in the cooler night air, I
realized I had the perfect antidote to falling asleep on the drive home: I opened
the roof. Just right.

There was only one problem: I couldn't find the
right driving music on the radio, especially after the pulse-pounding stuff they'd
been playing at the event to get everyone's blood pressure up. AC/DC's "You Shook
Me" eould have been ideal, or maybe something by Thoroughgood, but no luck. I
tried the various rock stations and finally ended up switching between one of them
and a country station just trying to find something heavy on the bass and drums,
but still with a recognizable melody. Of course, they waited to put anything at
all appropriate to my mood on until I was half a mile or less from home. Silly
radio stations - aren't they supposed to be better at mind-reading than this?
Where are Wolfman Jack or Vin Scelsa when you need them?

Posted by dichroic at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2003

various feminine surrealities

I am bleeding, drat it.

Actually, that's exactly what I'd be
expecting to do, just at the moment. However, since I'm on the Pill, I'd have
expected it to begin yesterday and end tomorrow. Instead it began last Saturday
and has been going on uniformly(albeit lightly) ever since. There's a possibility
I missed a pill last Thursday in the frenzy of packing, so this may not be a
problem, but if it's still going on by Friday I'm calling my doctor. This sort of
thing was normal for meback in the days when I wasn't artificially regulated, but
hasn't happened once in the nearly twenty years (!) I've been on the

And speaking of TMI, I had the most surreal conversation
Sunday. On Saturday the women from the other local rowng program had been joking
around about one, a firefighter, getting an breast augmentation so that next time
she has to do a rescue the rescuee will have something to hang on to. For the full
visual effect you need to know that whenever they have to rescue someone from a
fall in a bathtub, or, say, a heart attack in a bed, the victims always seem to be
a) completely naked (makes sense, in the tub) and clincally morbidly obese, as in
400-500 pounds. Appealing picture, no? So of course, I winced, and then they
started more or less bragging, along the lines of, "Oh, that's nothing. We get
pretty raunchy around here." You know how people do.

People who know
me well know not to throw me a challenge like that. I don't do it much any more,
because unfortunately I rarely get to hang out around the right kind of assholes
these days, but am quite capable of out-grossing the raunchiest, when I get

However, this time I wasn't even trying. On Sunday they got
onto the topic of breast size again, so I told the story of a heavily endowed
woman I knew in college. She thought the, er, handles made her God's gift to
mankind, emphasis on the man part, so whenever I wanted to irk her I'd start
jumping up and down. And in those days I didn't wear a bra if I could possibly get
away without it, which I generally could, being only slightly convex. It used to
annoy her because even at nineteen, she couldn't do that even with an underwire in

I think of that as a fairly innocuous story, It's one I've
quite probably told to my mother. But this woman, the self-proclaimed queen of
raunch, the one who always talks about how rough the humor is in the firehouse,
got totally grossed out. So I said, "How can you mind that considering what you
were discussing just yesterday?" and she said, "But I was JOKING! I'd never really
get a boob job!"

Well, no shit - I didn't really think her service
credo included altering her body to provide handholds. But she apparently thought
the concrete idea of me going braless was far worse than her hypothetical
proposition. I pushed it for another sentence or two, but eventually had to just
go sit somewhere else or I'd have begun just gibbering, "But ... but ... but..."
Not a productive conversational tactic.

Almost forgot: I
had to go see the judge this morning for the arraignment from my accident a month
ago. He told me not to take Defensive Driving because it wouldn't make any
difference with my insurance, and he waived the fine. So the good part is I don't
have to do anything more or pay anything, and if I got a speeding ticket or
something I could still take the class, but the bad part is it's still on my

Posted by dichroic at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2003

Nationals report

Masters Nationals were fun. Thunderstorms forced pauses in the heat races
on Thursday and Friday, but for the two days I was there, the weather could hardly
have been better - a bit warm in the sun but comfortable in the shade. Of course
the racers were a bit warm, since there's not a lot of shade on the river, and the
occasional breezes that felt so good to spectators were having definite and
erratic effects on the races, but none of it was what I've come to think of as
"regatta weather". (Whitecaps, crosswinds, headwinds, low water, you name

We were sharing a tent (actually, a large industrial-type
canopy) with the one boat from the City program and with a club from Colorado. One
of their members, ErgChamp, so named because he actually is world champion on the
erg for his age and weight class, also often races with us. The tent gave us
plenty of room to spread out, with big tables and small chairs. We had also
brought our own lounge chairs as well as enough food and stuff to cover the
tables, and the tent gave us a perfect view of the finish

Hardcore's youngest, who is 10 or so, was there for the whole
event; he's homeschooled (very well) so the time out of school wasn't a problem.
Apparently he did a stellar job as the general gofer and pit crew during the
heats, keeping track of which shoes belonged to whom, not easy when everyone is
wearing Tevas, and manning the videocamera. By the weekend he had plenty of help,
from me, as well as Hardcore, the Judge, and the Judge's partner, none of whom had
made it to finals. (And all of whom were nonetheless happy with the races they had
rowed and eager to help their teammates. This was especially notable in light of
another factor I'll get to later.)

He didn't need much help on
Saturday. We were there all day to enjoy the races but only had two. Rudder had
one of his men's doubles races on Saturday, but they came in fourth of seven or
so. No medal, but not too shabby for a national-level race with competition cfrom
across the country. Another woman from our club, an ex-Olympian, did win her event
by a large margin, with open water between her and the next boat. No surprise
there. There were trophies for some events -- just wherever some individual or
group had decided to endow one -- and a few of us pointed out to her and the
officials that one of the largest was for her event, as apparently no one had
noticed. She flew out that night, that being her only race; I have no idea how she
got a 3-foot-high cup home on the plane.

Sunday was much busier. As
noted, Rudder won a total of four medals, three silver in LM2xA, LM4xB, and Mx2xB,
and one bronze in a pickup boat in M4+AA. No trophies though. Also, another woman
who I will probably need to nom soon, who I will call C for now, raced in her
single and in a mixed double, with a guy who raced in Rudder's Saturday double and
in his Sunday quad. She didn't win anything either time, but was very happy (or
will be when the initial disappointment fades) just to have made it to finals in
her single. Her other race, the doubles race in which Rudder and She-Hulk got
their silver, had no heats and went straight to finals.

The City
women came all that way and only did one race, which just baffles me. Their young
cox, actually the son of one of the women in the boat, did end up getting asked to
cox a few other boats. I developed a liking for him over the weekend; I'd never
talked to him much before. Can't say the same (on either count) for some of his
rowers, though, though a couple of them are nice enough. They went in expecting to
win, which I always think is a mistake. Being determined to win (or at least win a
medal) seems to work much better. They are quite strong, but this is Nationals and
there's a lot more than just strength to it. They did make it to finals, as they
confidently expected, but then came in fourth in the race. A sense of entitlement
is a dreadful anchor to drive through the water behind your boat.

championship award for Overall Regatta Jerk actually goes to one of the club
people, though. He came in dead last in his singles race seconds -- but again,
this is Nationals. The competition level is higher than any we get in our other
races, and each race isn't even a setback, no matter how you place, but a learning
point. He was last by only 5 seconds, half a minute behind the winner, which isn't
embarassing. Apparently he was so discouraged that he told Hardcore, at the
start of their doubles race together
that he was giving up and quitting rowing
or at least wouldn't be around the boatyard for a very long time. This is not,
needless to say, the attitude you'd want in your partner heading into a race. They
weren't expecting to win, but now Hardcore doesn't even have the satisfaction of
knowing they've tried their best as a crew. As least she does have that from her
other two races. Even worse, he then packed up and left immediately for home, not
waiting around to watch finals. This isn't the action of a supportive team member,
but would only have counted as whiny babyishness except for one thing: he had
brought up C and her boat in his truck. Even if she'd wanted to, she couldn't
leave; she HAD made it to finals and had another race on Sunday as well. What kind
of person maroons someone a twleve hour drive away from home just so he can go
sulk? She couldn't exactly catch a plane home; her boat is a bit large for carry-
on luggage. Luckily they caught him before he left and put a boat Rudder had been
carrying that wouldn't be needed for the weekend on his truck, and Rudder was able
to make room for C in the Hummer. He already had She-Hulk riding with him, as well
as a heck of a lot of equipment, so this was a nontrivial task, but he's talented
at fitting things in. The other guy claimed he had told people he would be leaving
early, but somehow no one else had any memory of that (and, as Hardcore said,
she'd have thought he was joking if she had heard.) The guy was apparently
terribly terribly hurt when Rudder, whom he respects inordinately, told him this
was not a cool thing to do. To his credit, Rudder apparently managed not to use
the sort of language that immediately leaps to mind (to my mind, at least) in this
sort of situation.

Anyway, at least he provided the sort of
outlandish story every event needs to be memorable. Aside from that, we all had a
great time. It was sort of like being at rower camp -- everyone there had a common
interest, almost every one was fit, everyone understood when you commented on a
boat. I felt very short, nothing new for me, and oddly chesty (unis don't do much
for cleavage). I did feel a bit left out because I wasn't competing, and a few
random bitchy comments from the City chicks but my crew know I'm there for them
even when I'm not on the water, and I was able to help out enough to be part of
the team. It was good.

Getting home after midnight and getting to
work the next morning wasn't so good, but that's another story.

Posted by dichroic at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2003

concierge crew

Yet another hyper-busy day, butin case anyone was wondering, I did get to take a
classic Mark Spitz photo of Rudder. On Sunday morning in the first race he was
asked into a men's four at the last minute - I don't think he's done sweep rowing
(one oar instea dof two) in a year or so, but when a former National Team member
asks, you *don't* refuse. They won a bronze in that one. (Rudder said he was just
along for the ride in that race!)

In the races he'd planned to be
in, he came in second and won silvers in three races: a men's quad, a men's
double, and the mixed double with She-Hulk.

It's always a little
depressing to hang out at a race when you're not competing, but aside from some
random bitchiness from the other local crew with whom we were sharing a tent
(there's a story I'll have to post later) I had a good time. Apparently Hardcore's
youngest son did an excellent job being pit crew on Thursday and Friday, but by
the weekend, there were a couple other folks who hadn't made finals, so we carried
oars and shoes for Rudder and the others competing. We ended up doing so much
fetching and carrying that I have decided in future we will no longer call it pit
crew but rather concierge service: beachside oar delivery, valet shoe parking,
bottles of the finest water provided.

Got home and into bed around
12:30, which made getting to work this morning in time for my several morning
meetings not particularly fun.

Posted by dichroic at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2003

latest race update

Update, Friday at 8:30AM:

Bad news: I talked to Rudder last night. Apparently one guy dropped out of his
race, bringing the number of entries from 22 to 21. As a result, they're not doing
semifinals and the top two, not top three, from each heat will advance. (He did
know this before the race, so it's not unfair.) His next race is the double with
She-Hulk, today in the late afternoon. I'll be at the airport by then and can't
watch results but I do think they have a good shot at the finals. Several of his
races go straight to finals without any heats (it all depends on the number of
entries) so he will be racing Sat. and Sun.

Update, 6PM:

Rudder made it to the finals in his single! WOOHOOO!!! You know those really
really big muffins they sell nowadays? My husband is a stud one of those. His
mixed four didn't do too well, though (again, not a priority boat) and just about
everyone else from this club has been DFL or nearly. Hope things go beer tomorrow.
I'd like to see at least Rudder and She-Hulk's double and She-Hulk and Hardcore's
double also make it to finals. Meanwhile, time to go pack.


Results are up for Heat #1 of his event. He's in Heat #3...?

Update, 4PM:

Grrrrr... They STILL aren't showing results for Rudder's singles race at 2:43.
Actually I think racing may have paused due to rain. Since when is it supposed to
rain in Sacramento???

In the three races that have happened so far, my club hasn't done too well. On the
other hand, two of those were people who don't really train all that much and the
third was a pick-up sort of boat -- the four people in it do train hard but don't
row together all that much. So not a huge disappointment, but I hope it doesn't
depress their spirits for later races.

I'll update after Rudder's
race in an hour or so -- cross your fingers and hold your thumbs at 2:43

Posted by dichroic at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2003

another legacy of Franklin

Sorry no entry today -- Wednesdays and Thursdays seemed to be my busiest ones so I
may not have much to say tomorrow either. Then again, I might.

I just realized. Meetings all day mean I might miss some of Rudder's races on href=""> Maybe some of them are telecons.

caught myself reverting to childhood lately, in an odd way. When I was about
three, one eye was weaker than the other and tended to turn in. Still does
sometimes when I'm tired and I often lok like I'm stoned in photos because of it.
They put me in bifocals, which tend to correct that for reasons I don't quite
understand, and clipped a patch on one side for a while. When I got to stop
wearing the patch, they kept me in bifocals. These were what are called executive
bifocals, with a line straight across, because that was the only kind that would
fit in the tiny glasses I wore then.

I was slightly farsighted at
that time, but too much time spent staring at a book eventually made me
nearsighted. When I was nine, I got to not wear glasses for a year, because my
eyes hit a normal point in their transition from far- to nearsighted. When I had
to start wearing glasses again, I kept the bifocals. When I was a bit older, the
doctor gave me a choice whether or not to have them. They really are more
comfortable when you're used to them, so I kept them. I don't mind the lines,
having had them all my life, so I just stuck with the executive bifocal.

In college I got my first contact lenses (and walked around
crosseyed for a week until my eyes got used to them). I didn't get bifocal
contacts because they weren't really necessary and it just seemed too complicated.
I do find the plain lenses a bit uncomfortable for tiny things like embroidery or
looking at mint marks on pennies, but that's not exactly a major problem.

A few years ago I found my glasses were making me dizzy even after
I'd had that pair long enough to get used to them. The optometrist recommended
getting the tiniest lens I could find. Fortunately very small ones were in fashion
then (still are, and they're more flattering on my face anyhow) but I did have to
ditch the bifocal to wear them. Then a month or so ago I switched to a new kind of
contact that you can wear a month at a time and now I hardly wear glasses at all

So, to get back to my original point, I wore bifocals most of
my life but haven't had them for a few years now. So why do I suddenly keep
noticing myself tilting my head up as it to look at the monitor through the bottom
lenses? I've just had my eyes checked or I'd wonder if they were changing again.

August 19, 2003


I don't know if I'm turning into an insufferable Pollyanna in my early middle age,
but I would like to report that it is very possible to find something to be glad
about even in a local gasoline shortage. To wit: it's given me the excuse
civic duty to telecommute to work today.

Fortunately, Rudder and I
had both gassed up our trucks over the weekend without waiting in any lines.
(Apparently things were much wrse on the north side of town and I heard stories at
work about people waiting an hour or three at the pump.)

I still
don't have the measure of the Mozzie yet and its tank went down from half to one
quarter in the course of yesterday's commute. They were talking about trucks
rolling into town with more petrol overnight, so I decided to fill up on the way
to the gym this morning. It's only about 3 miles off but there are several
stations en route, this being the sort of place where you have to drive

Artificial shortages can make for some odd situations.
(Supposedly there's enough gas in town, but not all of it's actually at the pumps
and some of the problem is people panicking as usual.) So, first station: no gas.
Second station, no gas. Third station: people lining up outside the station for at
least a block.

But I thought I'd seen something and I turned around.
Sure enough, the station right across from the second one had gas, and didn't have
too much of a crowd. I lined up only abot three cars back from a working pump, bt
when the guy opposite pulled away and no one was waiting, I was able to pull the
nozzle across and fill up without moving the car.

So I have two
vehicles here with full tanks, but given that most of what I had to do today was
telecons and documents, plus the fact that reports are that this could take
anywhere from the rest of the week up to four weeks, telecommuting seemed like a
good idea. Since my boss did it yesterday I figured she couldn't really complain.
The fact that telecommuting is something I've been asking to do more of because it
gives me a precious extra 1.5 - 2 hours in my day? Not a factor at all, nudge
nudge wink wink.

Good thing Rudder and the Crush are off in
California where there isn't a shortage.

By the way, to the person who got here searching for "how to get rid of bus in
flour": what do you think sifters were invented for?

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

August 18, 2003

flying solo

After an hour or so of loading up boats, gear, and people, Rudder sailed (um,
wrong sport) off this morning to head up to Sacramento for Masters Nationals. He
expects to arrive on Wednesday, which should give him time to rig the boats, do a
practice row or two, and find a good spot to set up the awnings. You can only rent
a commercial tent close to the water, which they've done, but an awning back in
the trees should be handy for naps and such, not to mention more comfortable seats
than the folding ones in the rented tent.

The race starts on Thursday; heats are Thursday and Friday and finals (of course
they'll make it to finals!) will be on Saturday and Sunday. Not all of his events
have heats; some had fewer entries and so go straight to finals. He's racing in a
single, a couple of doubles, and a quad. Any readers who are interested and who
know his real name or want to email me for it) can watch results at href="">Racetrak for the following races:


Event #47, M1xB at 2:29(first heat)

Event #54, Mx4xC at 3:56


Event #121, Mx2xB at 4:12 (first heat)


Event #47s, M1xB semifinal at 7:45(if he's in the top 3 on Thursday)

Event #42, MLt2xA at 1:14

Event 47, M1xB final (if he's in the top 3 in the morning) at 2:29

Event #54, Mx4xC at 4:09 (if they're in the top 3 on Thursday)


Event #90, MLt2xB at 11:30

Event #106, MLt4xB/C at 2:45

Event #121, Mx2xB at 4:12 (if he's in the top 3 on Friday

Abbreviations: the first symbol in each boat is M or Mx, for Men's or Mixed (half
men, half women. Next may be Lt if it's a Lightweight boat, which for men means
rowers weigh 160 or less (he's borderline, but should make weight). Next is the
boat type: 1x for single, 2x for double, 4x for quad. Last is the age category:
youngest is AA. A is 27-25, B is 36-42, C is 42-49 or so. Age of rowers in the
boat is averageed, so Rudder is rowing two different mens' doubles with different
partners and will be in different age categories (as you can surmise, he can only
race one boat at a time in one race). I'll be there to watch Saturday and Sunday,
but will be glued to the screen watching Thursday. I'll miss the Friday race
because I have to go catch my flight out.

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

August 17, 2003


Yesterday, Rudder went out rowing with his quad for one last practice before he
hits the road to drive to Nationals, then phoned and woke me at 6:30 to ask if I
wanted to go to breakfast. I threw on some clothes, tried to get my hair in order,
decided to take the MR-2 instead of the ruck, and realized about halfway down the
block I realized that it was deliciously cool (well, what passes for cool here -
but it was delicious) and established that I can, in fact, pop open the roof while
moving slowly. So much for slicked down hair, but oh, it was nice driving with the
top down and the sun barely peeking up.

We went flying this morning,
Rudder practicing instrument approaches and me along as safety pilot. They'd asked
us to pick up the plane keys and the little folder full of chacklists and such the
night before, because we were going out before the FBO opens in the morning. And
for the second morning in a row, it was glorious.

It's hot now, at
nearly 10AM, but not the kind of hot that makes you scurry indoors as fast as
possible. And I realized this morning what this is, or at least what I'd like to
believe it is: this weather, with mornings where you can step outsie without
immediately breaking a sweat, just might possibly be, please God maybe, the
harbinger of fall.

Phew. One more summer here survived.

All opinions above subject to withdrawal in the case of another heat

Posted by dichroic at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2003

You will know that I have gone

Cloudy mornings bring the most spectacular sunrises to row under out here. We
don't have the featureless leayers of gray I remember from the East Coast; instead
there are sullen dark storms low to the South west, topped with swirls reflecting
a dim pink, confections of fluff and flame over the rising sun to the west,
feathers and ripples of white overhead, cumulus clouds to the north showing a bit
of the anviling toward the tops that presage storms later in the day, bits of
white and blue between the clouds. And all of this is echoed in ripples in the
lake below, bisected by the stark lines of electrical towers, set off by the
festive lights lining the Mill Avenue bridge, and accented by the pink reflection
off the belly of an airplane passing overhead.

Of course, this would all be a bit better enjoyed in silence, instead of being
shattered by the noise of that same airplane, whose takeoff path takes it right
over the lake from the airport not far away. The earthshaking rumbles and
earsplitting whistles of the trains crossing another bridge and the drone of the
highway running beside the lake don't help either. Still, when there isn't a plane
taking off or a train going by, the highway can be ignored and the sky appreciated
to the full.

Another benefit of the clouds is the effect they and the storm they rode in on
have on the temperature. The last few days have been well above 90 even at 5AM,
but today it's as close as Arizona in August ever gets to being comfortable.
There's a bit of humidity left from last night's rain, but compared to the heat a
few days ago, though, this weather is barely distracting.

There are several good reasons to row, but two that stand out are the beauty of
lakes and rivers and the satisfaction of doing something that isn't easy. You may
know that at the beginning of this year, href="">Marn set herself a goal to walk 500 miles to
nowhere on the treadmill by the end of 2003. Being the sociable sort she is, Marn
didn't just write down her New Year's resolution on a piece of paper and then lose
the paper, as the rest of us do. Instead she announced the resolution on her
diary, suckered in got a few more folks to join her, and then set up
another diary page, Fivehundred, to
let everyone keep track of their mileage. She also emailed a few people she
thought might be interested. I was one of those, and figured I'd be rowing the
distance eanyway and it might be fun to work toward an actual goal. At the time, I
was working on my goal to erg a href="">million meters, so I
tracked both that as well as a goal to finish five hundred miles counting both
water and erg time.

This morning when I got on the water, I needed 11.1 km to reach 804.5 km, or 500
miles. The water was calm for a change, the air was cooler for an even bigger
change. The first leg of the lake, about 3500m is always the hardest. I start
doing fractions: 1/10 done now, 1/5 done, 1/3 done and only 2 more similar efforts
to go. The very first bit from the beach to the west dam and back to the Mill
bridges is an easy thousand meters, but from there to the Rural bridge and on to
the east dam stretches on and on. The wind was from the southeast today, so at
least there was a hint of breeze. Rowing back to finish the first lap is with the
wind, so the boat moves a little faster, but because I'm moving in the same
direction as the breeze I can't feel any air movement and it's much hotter.

The early-morning kinks are out and the muscles are moving so this leg feels much
shorter, but I still always watch meters and count fractions: up to 4500 meters by
the Rural bridge, over 5000 at the midway marker, 6000 by the beach as I finish
the first lap. Less than half to go now. I usually cut the second lap shorter, but
I'm going to have to stretch it a bit today. Up to the west dam, stop for water,
detour around Rudder in his single and Hardcore and She-Hulk in the double.
They've got a short workout today because they're tapering down for their race
next weekend. Back to the Mill bridge and it's up over 7000, so I know I need to
row about 2000 meters before I turn in for home. By now I've got trackbite, marks
from the seat rails, on the backs of both calves and my fingers are slipping a bit
on the oar handles. Here's a novel effect: my hands are so wet from sweat that
fingers start to prune up like when you stay in the pool for too long.

Through the Rural bridge, on another two hundred meters, and a little more for
lagniappe, and a bit more just to reach the 2K markers, just because it's a good
place to turn. Turn around now and the sun is up and in my eyes, but if I look
straight along my boat and down a bit it's not too bad. The light wind has shifted
a fwe degrees, so there's the tiny hint of a breeze. Take water and head for home.
Two thousand meters left to go, no, fifteen hundred, now down to a thousand and
that's about 150 strokes. Count them down, watch the meters on the strokecoach, do
the math. Ten thousand five hundred meters beings me up to 803.8 km and I need

Right then I start hearing Sweet Honey in the Rock in my head, chorusing on a Pete
Seeger song: "Step by step the longest march / Can be won, can be won. / Many
stones can build an arch / Singly none, singly none." Yeah, my head does
soundtracks. Only 600 meters to go now and I can do that on my head and with one
hand behind my back. It'll be just a bit over the 11.1 I need by the time I get to
the beach, I can see that, but what's another 200? Counting down, down, 300 from
the beach and I'm nearly there, 200, 100, and in with 11.3 kilometers clocked.
That's 11.3 for today, 804.7 for the year. Made it.

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

August 14, 2003


There's nothing like having your meetings extend RIGHT THROUGH

On the plus side, we had rain last night and I found out late
yesterday that I don't have to actually go visit the MVD in corpus to transfer the
license plates from Zippy the Civic to Mozzie the MR-2, so life is relatively

I've also realized recently that I am personally doing my bit
to help the commercial aviation business, and by extension my company, to recover.
I think I may be beating my own previous record for air travel in a given year. By
the end of 2003, I expect to have traveled to Ireland, Philadelphia, Sacramento,
and Ushaia, Argentina. That's a lot of airtime, and that's in addition to driving
trips to Sacramento and LA and a flight out to DC last November. I keep having the
feeling I'm forgetting something in this list, though.

Posted by dichroic at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2003

car report

I finally got on the water this morning but I'm not entirely sure it was worth
waiting for. According to Rudder's car, it was 95 by the time he got there at 4:30
this morning. Because of the heat, I kept my row short. However, I did manage
about 7.5 km, which means that I am in the last 10 km (about 6 miles) of my href="">five hundred mile goal. Rudder pointed
out the other day that with the greater distance he covers, he's done 500 miles by
about the end of April. On the other hand, Rudder works practically next door to
the gym and about 10 minutes from the lake.

I need to come up with
some rowing-related writing samples for an opportunity I want to look into, but
realized that everything in this diary on the subject is very me-centered. Even my
race reports are more about my experience of the whole trip and event than about
the actual races. That's fine for a diary but I suspect not so fine for the people
I'm sending it to. Maybe I'll just write up a third-person account of rowing in
summer in AZ.

I've driven the MR-2 in for three days now so can
report on pros and cons. First, the bad stuff: it's a bit noisy, the seat gave me
a sore back yesterday, storage is small, and the cup-holder is small (tight for my
water bottle) and placed so that in pulling a water bottle out of it, you can hit
the A/C button and turn it off. The first time I did that, it took me fifteen
minutes to realize the light was off and I was afraid I'd bought a car with broken
airconditioning, NOT a good think in summer in Phoenix. Also, it's a little scary
sitting so low that you're staring at other car's bumpers, the headlights aim low
enough that they don't hit street signs, and the suspension is stiff enough that
the headlights and rearview mirror vibrate a bit. On the good side, the seats are
plenty cushy so the ride doesn't feel rough, the sore back problem can probably be
fixed by adjusting the seat, the storage behind the seats is bigger than it looks,
there's a notch on theback wall of the interior where I can hang up clothes or my
towel (on a hangar, the low-tranmission glass works well enough that the car isn't
unbearably hot after work, there's a third larger cupholder in the rear of the
armrest, the smaller front console ought to hold thigns like small bottles of
juice better than the similar but bigger ones on my Toyota pickup, and as
advertised, the car is very responsive. Brakes on a dime, then zooms off and hands
back change. Also, the top is very easy to put up or down, and the stereo is well-
organized (unlike the after-market poster child for bad design I put in my truck).
Also, I really do feel better being a silver MR-2 Spyder driver than a beige Civic
driver -- I kept being afraid people would identify me with my car. And I'm enough
of an engineer to like my cool toys, anyway.

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

August 12, 2003

and the greatest of these is ...

A couple things I've read today (so none of you can take sole credit) reminded me
that I haven't yet commented on some items news that made me very, very happy.
Both, as it happens, were the sort of thing that straddles the boundaries between
religion and politics. (It's amazing how fuzzy that boundary is, even when the
Constitution is being allowed to keep them properly separate.) Both relate to some
deeper convictions of mine, which is why I'm about to divert from my track for a
couple of paragraphs.

As it happens, I disagree with Saint Paul on
most issues, except maybe his name. I realize that to many Christians this just
automatically means I'm wrong, which is one reason it's probably a good thing I
was born Jewish. Though I do believe there's a lot of wisdom in the Bible, even in
the New Testament, I don't believe in Divinely inspired speech, which gives me a
freedom I cherish to think about and disagree with some of the things in there.
(And anyway, I wonder how many Christians agree with what Paul said about tax

Even Paul's most famous saying, the one about ",
hope and love, and the greatest of these is love". I'm not at all convinced that
hope doesn't take first place, because so often hope enables us to survive while
we don't have love, whereas any Dear Abby column or AA meeting can show examples
of people who had to give up on love when there was no hope left. Faith is on a
different level, a sine qua non component of both hope and successful love. Still,
I agree with Paul that love is one of the most important facets of being

That's why these two news articles resonated with me: both
were about people accepting love and having faith in their hopes to change the

I've always admired the Episcopalian church for its reasoned
theology and academic traditions. A few days ago they gave me a new reason for
admiration: their acceptance of the variety of loving paths, in the ordination of
their first openly gay bishop. Three points: I do not believe love, when it's real
love that wants the best for the beloved, can ever be sinful. (Echoes of Paul
here, in his most true and beautiful speech: Love suffereth long, and is kind;
Love envieth not; Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave
itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things,
believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.) Second, even if
homosexuality were a sin, I have not heard yet of any denomination of any religion
anywhere ever finding itself a leader with no

blemishes on his conscience.
Third, this is pure conjecture but I suspect that this is far from the first gay
bishop in the nearly half a milennium since Henry VIII started the Anglican
Church. What other problems must have stemmed from the cover-ups and subterfuges
the others had to perpetrate?

The other news item that brought me to
tears was a bit on the evening news about the href="">Bereaved Families
, a group made up of both (BOTH!) Israelis and Palestinians who
have lost family in the fighting there. They are working together to try to
prevent the slaughter of more children on both sides. As the Palestinian members
would say, "Insha'Allah" - may God will that it be so.

I have hope,
and I am working on having faith, that these acts of love really will help to
change the world, to bring about a day when they will convert their missiles into
rocketships and their guns into butter, when nation shall not lift up ARMS against
nation and neither shall they learn war any more.

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

August 11, 2003

car test

Well, the Mozzie passed
its first little test: I drove it to work today. I can report conclusively that in
Phoenix in August, it's too hot to drive with the top down by 8AM. I did anyway,
of course. I did get it up to 80 and was still able to hear the tape I had playing
(a lecture on Biological Anthropology, so hearing the words clearly was critical).
And the seats are comfortable, and even have the lumbar support in about the right
place. I only noticed one design flaw: the front cupholders are a snug fit for my
water bottle, and are placed so that when occupied, the bottle obscures some
stereo controls (I knew that when I bought it) and when you pull the bottle out it
often hits the A/C button. I didn't know that and was worried for a bit that the
airconditioning wasn't working properly.

I took it out again at lunch
today, which, given the way our parking lot is oriented, tends to be the hottest
time of day to get in a car. I was glad to be wearing pants, so I still may buy
seat covers, but am happy to say I wasable to touch the steering wheel and seat
belt buckle without sustaining third-degree burns. It has low-e glass, something I
sorely miss in the pickup.

Another bit of good news: the reason I was
driving in as late as 8AM today is that I stopped off at the doctors' to pee in a
jar again. I am pleased to report that they found no trace of blood, so my kidneys
have been given a clean bill of health. Whew -- I was worried over that one.

Posted by dichroic at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2003

new Spyder

Yeah, well, so much for waiting. Yesterday I went and leased another car, a Toyota
MR2 Spyder:

It's silver with brown leather inside, so is exactly like this

Surprisingly, the lease payments aren't all that much more than Zippy the Honda
Civic's were. This is for two reasons. First, it's a four year lease, while I had
Zippy for three. I've gotten more comfortable with the idea of keeping a third car
around, and have found having a spare extremely useful since I work so far away
that if one vehicle is in the shop it's not easy for us to shuttle each other to
work. Second, I was lucky enough to find a barely-used MR2. It's two years old
and had only 7000 miles on it. I love the car. I hated dealing with the
dealership, who sprung a few nasty surprises on me after I'd signed the
papers. I'm considering a report to the Better Business Bureau. Fortunately, I get
to keep the car and not deal with the dealer ever again.

I'm thinking of calling it Mozzie, since it looks like a mosquito next to the
Orange Crush. When I stand in our garage by the inside door, which means I'm on
about a 4" step, the MR2 is lierally waist high, while the H2 is another foot
above my head.

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

August 08, 2003

In the Chuck!

Guess who just got his name drawn to race this year in the world's largest rowing
event, the Head of the Charles? Hint: I'm married to him.

I know,
most of you don't know why this is a big, big deal. First, according to their href="">own website,

"Over the past 38
years, the Head Of The Charles® regatta has grown tremendously. Today, more than
7,000 athletes from around the world compete in 21 different race events. The
Regatta grew to a two-day event in 1997 and now attracts up to 300,000 spectators
during the October weekend."

I mean, this thing is BIG.
There are not that many rowing events in this country that draw spectators at all,
except for other rowers. And because it's so big, more people want to race than
can fit on the river, so they have semi-random drawings to determine who gets in.
There is one guaranteed entry per club in the bigger boats, so there will be some
other people going from here. I'll definitely be there, at least for the weekend
of October 18-19. There's even a slight possibility that I might get to cox a
race, though it's more likely I'll just spectate and maybe


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

just a pair of pants

Looks like I'm going to have to send my new pants back to Bean. Of the three I
ordered, the only pair that comes close to fitting are the ones in the men's size.
Yeesh. The others, even in a petite size come too high up my waist, with the
result that, even in a larger-than-usual size (because I expected this) they're
way too tight in the waist. I seem to be in some weird size range all my own, not
skinny enough for juniors and not curvy enough for misses. (Actually, J. Crew's
junior petites fit me well enough. They just don't have what I

Here's what I want, aside from world peace and enough for
everybody to eat and all that. I want a pair of khaki pants, no pleats, in a dark
khaki, British khaki, or even taupe shade. I want them to sit on my hips rather
than trying to enforce a waist I've never had, but I don't want them so low that I
can't wear them to work without showing unprofessional amounts of skin. I don't
want current high style, just classic comfort. I want them loose enough to tuck
things in, maybe even a little baggy, long enough to touch my shoes, and short
enough that I don't step on them. To translate that to real numbers, that would be
about a size 5/6 that's not designed for 17-year-olds with a 28 to 30 inch inseam.
I've searched the websites of all my usual places, and can't find anyone with the
low-but-not-superlow waist, the petite length, and the color all in the same place
-- I can't find any better than two out of three.

Maybe I'll just go
to the men's department and try on some Dockers. Is this all too much to ask? It
doesn't seem too much to ask -- just basic comfortable fall khakis, damn it. As I
said, I don't have much of a defined waist, so that lower waist is a matter of
comfort rather than style for me. This, by the way, is why I always get so ticked
off at clothing manufacturers that brag they've lengthened the rise in their pants
"to fit real women".

As I wrote recently to href="">Natalie, real women are big and small, round and
flat, tall and short, fat and skinny. Why can't manufacturers just tell us what
body style they design for and provide links for those of us with similar tastes
but different shapes?

If I could wave a wand and turn the jeans I'm
wearing dark khaki-colored, I'd about have it. Maybe it should tell me something
that I'm wearing a pair of men's 501s.

The other ironic thing is that
I have what I want as far as fit, just not in the right length or color. The
shorts I was wearing while shopping online would have been perfect, if I could
turn them to pants and change their color.

Why is clothing always so
damned hard?

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

August 07, 2003

cars and cardboard heroes

Later update: the quiz mentioned at the bottom of this entry is up now, right href="
. Don't worry, I won't keep perpetrating these. This is the
last, at least for a while.

Yesterday was a good one, financially speaking; I got the check for my car (RIP
Zippy) and Rudder and I sent off the paperwork to refinance our house again. We
did it only about a year or so ago, but rates had fallen so quickly that it was
worth doing again, and fortunately we applied before they headed back up. This
particular bank had a system allowing you to do the paperwork on your own, but it
was so confusing figuring out which parts had to be notarized and exactly what we
had to sign that I think I'd rather go to an office next time. Also, I wasn't sure
whether to leave in the loan for Zippy, which should be closed out in a couple of
days. (We left it, since they'd already approved us anyhow.)

now the prime choices for a replacement vehicle are a Honda Civic again, regular
or hybrid, a diesel turbo VW Beetle, or a Toyota MR2 Spyder. The 2004 Toyota Pruis
hybrids also sound like they might be worth waiting for. And yes, the C&E matrix
is actually helping with the decision.

I'm in the mood to create
another href="
. Since there's no point in
doing a LMM heroines one, with a good one in the same vein already around (and
even less point in one on her mostly-cardboard heroes!) I've been thinking of
alternatives. I may make one on fictional detectives. Just don't blame me if you
don't get to be Lord Peter ....

Posted by dichroic at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2003

scares and structures

Interesting. href=""
>What Dorothea wrote
is probably as perfect an explanation of the reasons
behind Rudder's budgeting strategy as any I'm ever likely to see. Also, he'd
rather save money for the perfect item than buy one sooner that's only good
enough, and use whatever he can to fill the purpose meanwhile -- like putting his
t-shirts in copier boxes until we bought a fancy cherry bedroom set. I'm more
inclined, myself, to try and come up with an intermediate solution until I'm ready
for the good stuff. He gets to his ultimate goal sooner by economizing, but I
think I'm happier in the meantime. Still, I do believe in saving for emergencies,
retirement, and big purchases or trips, so I understand Rudder and Dorothea well
enough on this subject.

That wasn't what I planned to write about. I
meant to discuss the scary parts of the day, and how ridiculous our infrastructure
is. Scary thing this morning: as I was on my way to work this morning after
rowing, the first time I've come in after rowing since my accident last week, and
on a nearby part of the road, a cop pulls up behind me in the left lane with
lights flashing and turned on his siren. Ohshitohshitohshit. I checked the speedo
but wasn't going unduly fast -- above the speed limit but at the speed of other
traffic. I did not want to get on that shoulder again, consider what
happened last time I was there, but I didn't know what he wanted and I've seen
them get annoyed if you don't pull over right away. So I gritted my teeth, pulled
v-e-r-y carefully onto the shoulder .... and he kept going. Lesson for police
officers: don't get people rattled if you don't have to. It's not a good way to
increase highway safety.

Then there was a moment at work that was
frightening in a different way. I was explaining to our intern what a Cause-and-
Effect Matrix is and how it compares to a QFD. (You haven't missed anything if you
don't know what either one is. It will suffice to know that they're tools our
methodology uses to prioritize alternatives based on your needs and their relative
importance.) I used the example of buying a car to replace Zippy to illustrate my
point. And right about then I realized .... um, I really should use a QFD
to make that decision, given that I'm still considering everything from a BMW Z4
to a Honda Civic. You know what this means, don't you? Right. I'm a hopeless
statistics / management geek. As Rudder likes to say, my hair will be sprouting
points any day now.

There is nothing like getting in an accident to
make you realize how our infrastructure is geared to the idea that people don't
work, at least not at jobs where they can't easily take off at any given time. In
the next few weeks, I have to go see a judge at 8AM on a weekday morning (just
because this particular one likes to talk to people before letting them take
Defensive Driving; apparently it's an individual judge's decision). Today I have
to go meet with my insurance company, who has appointments availble from 8 to
4:30. Granted, they're handing me money (car value was more than the lease payoff
-- yay!) but couldn't they also make it convenient? Next week I have to go back to
the doctor, who again is not open at any time when I'm normally on that side of
tow. Again, it's important (I *really* don't want to have damaged kidneys but if I
do I want to know about it) but it all points up how inconvenient our systems are.
Why do we all have to be at work during the same hours? If we staggered our work
hours more, wouldn't everything from shopping to healthcare to jury duty be
easier? The internet has made strides, with shops and classes, for example, that
can be accessed at any time of day, but there's still a long way to go. Don't get
me started on how many of these systems assume that one adult in evach household
is at home all day.

Oh, and by the way, thanks for all the attention to my href="
. I was shocked to find that 408
people have taken it since I created it yesterday. I was planning to create
another one, "Which L.M. Montgomery heroine are you?" but someone has already done
a very good one href="
. (I can tell it's good, partly because the questions
are appropriate to the people who might be taking the test as well as the LMM
heroines, but most because I got to be Valancy.)

Posted by dichroic at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2003

children's lit quiz

This is how a meme starts.

I've just made a quiz, all my my ownself!
It's href="
20children's%20literature%20are%20you%3F">Which hero / heroine from children's
literature are you?
Yes, I know there's already one on the subject, but I
didn't like it. Not sure if I like mine either, but it's a first effort. See what
you think.

Posted by dichroic at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

two good, two bad

I finally found something good about a long commute -- at elast it's good on days
when Rudder gets in earlier than I do and has a desire to do somethign about it.
Last night, I walked in the house to be greeted by the smell of cooking cow. (I
mean the cow was being cooked, not doing the cooking. You knew that.) We'd planned
to have steak so that wasn't a big surprise, except that I hadn't expected
Rudder to have the entire meal served 10 minutes after I walked in: tender steak
with mine cooked to the slightly charred level I like, corn on the cob not
overcooked (he did have to ask how long to leave that in), asparagus with lemon
butter (a la Dichroic: put a chunk of butter in a small, add a generous squirt of
lemon juice, microwave until the butter is melted), garlic bread (not from scratch
but garlicky and buttery and who cares) and the Cabernet poured.

I think I'll keep him.

Meanwhile it's a good thing
I have good memories of yesterday because today is not going as well. Actually,
there are only a couple of problems. My return to the gym went smoothly; I skipped
doing squats and stuck to exercises where my back was supported, but was able to
handle the same weights I'd been using. But I finally heard back from the doctor's
and there was a trace of blood in the sample I dropped off yesterday. So now I
have to stop by and pee in yet another cup in a week or so. If there's still blood
then, we'll "take the next step". I don't know what that is but it sounds ominous.
Also, it turns out that I can't just take Defensive Driving: the judge in the
court I was supposed to go to apparently "likes to talk to people" who have had an
accident. Bugger. Hopefully he'll still let me take the class to get the points
off my record.

Posted by dichroic at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2003

replacing Zippy

It was a quiet weekend here at Lake .... um, at Chez Dichroic. I did get to find
out what the insurance company
will do
about Zippy the Honda, who should probably be renamed Thudworthy the
Honda now. I still haven't figured out what to do about replacing it (I perceived
Zippy as neuter gender), though I did have a useful conversation on the subject
with SWooP last night. My dilemmas are: even though the Honda Civic is probably
the car best suited to my needs, it feels odd to replace one car with another
almost identical -- it isn't as though it's been long enough for Honda to
introduce many changes. I might be able to counter that if I bought a hybrid
model, I suppose -- the question on that one is whether I'd save enough in gas
money and convenience to cover the extra $4K up front. Also, it must be
admitted the Civics are a trifle vanilla. I had been considering the VW Beetle
diesel, which has almost as good fuel economy as the hybrid cars, but I'm a bit
concerned about acceleration and (thanks to SWooP) pollution on that. Normal
Beetles have an MPG similar to that of small sports cars so that's out.

I might be willing to buy a small sports car, like a Toyota MR2
Spyder or Honda S2000, sacrificing gallons for glamour but I have a small ethical
problem there. Getting a cooler car feels like rewarding myself when I've done
something bad. Yet I'm still self-indulgent enough not to want to get something
that will be painful (boring, slow to accelerate, uncomfortable) to drive, since I
spend so much time in the car. This morning I stopped on the way in to drop off a
sample at the doctor's (followup check for possible though unlikely kidney damage)
and to take the rest of my stuff out of Zippy and release it to the insurance

Another high point of the weekend was the chance to spend
lots of quality 'zontal time with Rudder. I didn't mention it to him, but this
might possibly have been propelled somewhat by my reading several of href="">Lissanne's HP
"shaglets" this weekend. (Thereby improving my vocabulary at the same time, since
I hadn't previously run across shaglets, snoglets, or drabbles before. Or rather,
I hadn't come across the words, though I had seen the things.) They are nicely
steamy and mostly sweet as well, a combination that pleases me. One odd thing that
may possibly be a side effect of the youth of some of the Potterverse's fanbase
though, is the physical unlikeliness of some of the scenes. It doesn't spoil the
effect, fortunately .... but I will just mention a complete disregard of some of
Dr. Kinsey's primary findings, and the fact that, at least for two people of
disparate heights (the only situation I know anything about, given the unlamented
dearth of 5'2" men) against-the-wall is really a terribly uncomfortable position.
I know, because I got curious. ;-)

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

August 03, 2003


Oops ... I meant to check for that. It turns out last entry was my 1000th here,
huzzah and pip-pip and all that. As it happens, it was an href="">interview entry (questions
by Trance) so that seems appropriate
for a milestone entry. I've already pre-celebrated, anyway, with the href="">win-a-Gold-Membership
, won by L'Empress.

The best part of my weekend so
far was finding out that my car is officially being totaled, since I was nervous
about driving a vehicle with so much damage even after repairs, and even better,
that the insurance company will be paying me more than the payoff value of the
lease. If I'd had to pay into the lease, I was going to wait until next year to
get a new vehicle and just drive my truck meanwhile, but I may get a new car
sooner after all. Now I just have to decide what: I'm looking for something with
good fuel economy for my 80 mile round trip, but decent handling and comfort for
the near two hours I spend in my car each day. So far the best choices seem to be
another Civic, maybe a Hybrid one this time, or a diesel Volkswagen Beetle. If
anyone has experience with either or other suggestions, I'd be glad to hear them.

Another less sensible possibility is to sacrifice a few miles per
gallon and get something sportier but still significantly more efficient than my
truck, something like a Mustang, Miata, or even BMW Z-4. That last is least
likely, since I'd be paying twice as much per month as I was for Zippy the Honda,
which I don't think I want to do.

And obviously, safety is a factor.

Posted by dichroic at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2003

interview quiz

This is strange. In a new, um, development that is the weirdest yet, I may soon be
in the same cup size as the well-endowered href="">Weetabix. (No, I'm not growing more;
she's shrinking.) That's just bizarre on so many levels. In my case, mostly the
level a bit less than halfway between the armpit and the elbow. I can only
conclude that band size has more to do with apparent size than I had ever

Moving on, here is are my Quiz questions from the lovely, pale and interesting href="">TranceJen. First, the Rules, because
part of doing the meme is agreeing to pass it on:

1 -- Leave a comment in the guestbook or notes if you want to be interviewed.

2 -- I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.

3 -- You'll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.

4 -- You'll include this explanation.

5 -- You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed. Here
are your questions.

Here are Trance's questions:

Dichroic, you call yourself a Jill of all trades and mistress of none. If you
had to limit yourself to three and only three activities for the rest of your
life, which would you choose? (I'm talking extra-curricular activities, by the
way.) Would you choose things that you're already quite good at, or things that
you want to improve upon?

Reading, for one. I can live without rowing and all the rest of it; I can't live
without reading. Anything else is a distant second. Or, wait, does sex count as an
"extra-curricular activity"? If so, then it's not quite such a distant second.
(Though I still spend a lot more time reading.) And I think my next choice would
be traveling, rather than rowing, though that one would be close. If sex doesn't
count, then rowing as a third.

2. Rowing. Your love for the sport is very clearly evident. How did you get
into it, and did you think that it would become such a big part of your life? What
is it about rowing in particular that really makes you happy?

How did I get into it? Rudder had started rowing with a local club that was still
fairly new. (The Bay Area Rowing Club of
, aka BARC.) He said, "Please just take this class and try it. If you
don't like it you can always stop." That was in 1990. One of my favorite tings
about rowing at the club level (as opposite to collegiate or elite crews) is that
anyone who wants to row, can, and can even compete. (How you do in competition is
another matter.) I'll never be the fastest boat on the water (much too short), but
on the other hand I row my own boat and run my own training so no one can tell me
to stop, either. And club rowers do tend to be supportive of anyone who wants to
row. Also, you can choose to row in an eight, four, double, or single, so you get
the choice of working with a crew or alone; it's a very different experience, and
different things work better for different people. Right now I really like being
in my own boat and running my own training; I don't have to wait for other people
or worry about coaches making stupid decisions.

3. Tell me how you and Rudder came to be. You are allowed to be mushy, if you'd
like. People who've been married for ten years are allowed to mush.

This is a good story, but I warn you, it's a bit long, though not too mushy. There
was this guy, PigFarmer, who I used to work with. Actually, more precisely, we
worked for the same company and used to party together. He left that company and
went to work somewhere else. I ran into him at someone else's St. Patrick's Day
party, and he invited me to a Tacky Party he was having a week later, on March 23,
1990. I went, garbed in my obnoxiously bright men's large red-flowered Hawaiian
shirt. (Well, and pants. Not that tacky.) He'd invited a bunch of people from his
current company, including some young engineers.

Now, there's some backstory essential to understanding why I was so thrilled to
see them. After graduating Penn (East Coast, Ivy League, large Jewish population)
I moved to Houston where I knew nobody. The people I was working with were mostly
born and bred Texans or Cajuns, Baptist or Catholic, with an Associate's degree in
Drafting or Design. (There were a couple of engineers, but mostly not very
interesting people.) It was a huge culture shock, and though a lot of the people
were warm and hospitable and great to go drinking with, they were also determined
to make sure this Yankee college girl didn't get above herself. I'd been dealing
with a variety of brilliant, well-educated, thinking people in college, who
largely had liberal-ish opinions on a lot of issues and these were much more
conservative people with different interests, at different stages in life and,
honestly, mostly not nearly as bright (of course there were exceptions on both
ends). So I was extremely happy to meet a bunch of other recently-graduated
engineers. One of them was Rudder.

Now there's his backstory. He had a couple of female friends from college
visiting, both of whom were trying to hook up with some of the other guys at the
party (one of whom lived with his girlfriend, but I didn't know that then). The
one wanted to get Rudder paired up with someone so she could go off and snog
without guilt, so when she and I got to talking, she said, "Have you met my
friend, Rudder? He's really nice." Oddly enough, I remember looking over at him,
trying to picture him without the mustache he had then, and deciding he had a bone
structure that would age well. ( href="">It has.) Next thing I
knew, I was in a car with Rudder and another guy, going to get the other guy's
boat. (The party was at a house right on Clear Lake, near Houston.) Then six of us
went out on the lake in the boat. The other two couples immediately lunged at each
other, so Rudder and I sort of looked at each other, shrugged, and began kissing -
- there obviously wasn't much else to do! We kept it pretty much to liplock,
though before we headed in I did notice one of the other women pulling her shirt
back on.

Before leaving the party, he asked for my number, and to my astonishment, used it
soon after. Then he started coming over after work, since I lived right by his
company, and shortly after unofficially moved in. We officially decided to move in
together in June, so when his lease ended we looked for an apartment we both
liked. I moved into to it for real in September, when my lease ran out. So if
you're counting, that's only six months after we met. We got officially engaged in
November of 1991, and got married July 4, 1993. That, as Churchill said, was only
the end of the beginning.

4. Talk to me about Massachusetts.

If you ever have an opportunity to work in Worcester, MA, run away. Quickly. I do
like Boston, though (except that driving there sucks rocks), and there are some
beautiful and no doubt ungodly expensive houses in its surroundings. I have to say
though that I hated Worcester so much that I tried to avoid it on weekends and so
missed some things there I've have liked to see, like a museum of armor and a
library good enough to be mentioned in Nicholas Basbanes' books. I think I could
live in Boston; there's a huge amount of good folk music aorund, which is
something I still miss from Philadelphia; there's lots of rowing; and it's an easy
drive to go camp in the White Mountains in NH, which we loved.

5. Travel. If you could hop on a plane tomorrow with an unlimited amount of
cash, where would you go and why?

Had I but cash enough and time ... I'd buy the damned plane, get whatever licenses
I needed to fly it (probably IFR, Commercial, and Multi-Engine) and fly everywhere
I wanted. There's no one place I could see and die happy: I want to visit much
more of Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland again, Italy, the obligatory visit to
Israel (preferably when they're not fighting much) and Egypt, Japan, Iceland,
Chile and Peru, Costa Rica, South Africa, New Zealand's North Island, more of
Australia including Tasmania, more of Alaska, Prague. And I'm sure there's more
I'm forgetting and places I've never thought of that I'd love.

Anyone who wants to be interviewed next, let me know in the GBook.

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