September 30, 2003

here goes again

Yeah, another busy day, can you tell? I did get to sleep in all the way to 6 this
morning - took the day off from the gym as I'm doing another erg test tomorrow. I
needed to do another one anyway, since I was unhappy with my time during the last
one, and since Yosemite Sam is making his rowers do another one on the day I'd
normally be coxing them, I'll use the opportunity to make myself do it. Given the
charlie-fox the last one ended up being for me, this time I'm getting on one of
the ergs first, so I don't start out pissed off.

I just
checked and I never did tell that story. YSam told me he wanted me to do an erg
piece too. Makes sense, you don't really care how fast a cox can row but there's
something to be said for being part of the team and suffering with them. So I show
up, but I stand back and let the rowers trying out for the top priority boat on
first, there being many more people as rowing machines. YSam wanted one person to
"cox " (mostly cheer on) each person doing a piece so I did that. Next round, I go
to the truck to get extra socks (to avoid blisters, since I hadn't remembered to
bring sneakers) and so end up not getting on the ergs for that round. I cox
someone again. Next thing I know, YSam has them putting the ergs away and I
hadn't done my piece! I decided to do one anyway, out there in the parking lot all
by myself, and even though it was still well earlier than we normally get off the
water, no one from that crew stayed to watch me or anything, after I had
coxed two sets of them through their pieces. So much for team spirit.

Pissed off is not a good way to do an erg trial; I ended up forty
seconds slower than my best. That's a lot, over 24 minutes. So this time, to heck
with them. I am getting on *first*, and doing it mostly only because I'm not
satisfied with my previous time. This time I will have proper shoes and a better
mood for it.

Anyway, I tend to think most of that crew can be
descibed in one word: ma-a-a-a-hhh. (As in sheep.) But I will cox someone in the
next round. I may have no team spirit myself, but that doesn't mean I have to act
as if I don't. Someone's got to set an example.

In other words, yes, I'm a
grudge-holder and a bitch. But don't worry, I don't plan to act that way.

Posted by dichroic at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2003

dinner review

The Rosh Hashanah dinner went fairly well Saturday, if anyone's wondering. I
didn't leave anything in the oven until it charred, or forget any major courses,
unless you count ten bucks' worth of fancy cheeses and crackers I never really got
a chance to serve and should have known better than to buy, considering we were
planning to eat not too long after everyone got there. Never mind, I'll eat those.
Eventually. I did forget to put salt and pepper in the chicken soup, but that's at
least fixable at the table. I baked the brisket the night before to have the oven
free, and cooked the kasha varnishkes and roasted veggies a bit ahead of time.
Everything reheated well. The challah turned out to be impressive looking but a
bit heavy. There are some problems to making a complex recipe once every five
years or so. You don't get the chance to fine-tune.

We had less in
the way of leftovers in some things than expected, so I guess everyone liked it.
The table looked nice with candles and the flowers someone brought, and five or
six people are just the right size crowd for my dining room.

T2 and
Egret brought the babies. Amazing how two such tiny people (they weigh less than
my cats) can so totally take over a gathering. Either they're being cute or
they're crying or both. She-Hulk, whose own son is almost college-aged, was dying
to get her hands on them and only handed them over when they were asleep or
hungry. So we didn't get in too much talking about the holiday and its context,
but there was a lot of rowing talk, a lot of catching up, and quite a bit of baby-
admiring. That's about right for an extended-family-by-choice dinner, right?

Posted by dichroic at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2003

l'shanah tovah v'tuv shalom

Keeping rowers' hours is an advantage when you're playing housewife -- not having
much of a domestic gift, playing at it is about as far as I get. By 7:15 this
morning, I had the brisket I'd started last night out of the oven, my bread set to
rise, the dishes washed and the kettle on. Shortly I'll go start my matzo balls,
then it will be time to punch down the bread, let it rise a bit more, braid and
bake it. After that I'll iron the tablecloth, go pick up dessert, then come home
and start my soup. Comfort foods, definitely.

Rudder will be home
before I put the bread in the oven, but after rowing 26 miles, I doubt he'll be
terribly productive. I sort of like him after these pieces, though. They're at a
lower pressure so they don't lead to headaches and a desire to go right to bed the
way races do. Instead he's keyed down a few notches, which brings him closer to my
usual weekend level of energy. He's there for desultory conversation and a bit of
snuggling, not rushing around to get things done as usual. It's

A happy and full year to you and yours, whether you are
celebrating this holiday or not. May the coming year bring peace to Jerusalem and
to the world - not the grudging peace of weariness and despair but a peace of hope
and rebuilding.

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

September 26, 2003

my school and my city

Since Ivy
League athletics
generally don't get no respect, I'd just like to point out
that in Sports Illustrated's list of href="
html">100 Things to Do Before You Graduate">, the list of sports shrines includes
not one but two
, the Palestra and Franklin Field. They also mention the href="">Penn
, as well as Boathouse Row a
Philadelphia landmark that is home to Penn's boathouse. Pen-and-ink drawings of
several boathouses are href="">here, and
there are some other pictures href="">here

Uh, guess where I went to school?

Incidentally, as I found while
surfing for the above links, one of Philadelphia's biggest fall regattas, the href="">Head of the Schuylkill (that's pronounced SKOO-
kill, for you non-Philadelphians) maybe the only regatta named after an artists.
It's officially the Thomas Eakins Hard of the Schuylkill Regatta. That being so,
it makes sense that this year the regatta is showcasing the work of another local
artist, William Thomas Ternay. Nice

I really, really want to race on the Schuylikll one of these
days, though given my preference for short races it's more likely to be a sprint
race in spring or summer. Then again, it might be worth doing the longer distance
just to row down the Schuylkill in its fall glory. Like the CHarles in Boston,
parts of it are unexpectedly beautiful for a river through a major

In cooking news, I'm planning to do the brisket tonight,
leaving the oven free for everything else tomorrow.

One more note: I know of a lot of non-Jews who like to celebrate Rosh Hashanah in
some small way, maybe because after years of starting school in September that
seems like a logical time for a year to start. If you happen to be looking to a
way to mark a new year for yourself, even if you're not Jewish I'd suggest reading
this sermon. He discusses
a God-in-and-with-everything concept that feels right to me and somewhere toward
the end there's a wonderful bit where he points out exactly why that belief makes
hatred and labeling of others unacceptable. I'm good about not hating groups,
myself, but there are certianly some individuals I have enormous trouble
visualizing as an image of God and thus worthy of respect. I still need to work on
that part. It's easier for me to believe that everyone starts out that way but
some people choose to throw away the good material they were given.

Posted by dichroic at 12:05 PM | Comments (1)

September 25, 2003

a diagnosis

Oops, almost forgot to update. This could possibly be because I don't really have
much to say. I am starting to feel a bit overloaded again, but today and tomorrow
are calmer days, which should help. My main worry now is choreographing the
cooking for Saturday. This would be easy except that for some reason, maybe a fall
nesting instinct, I'm really in the mood to make challah. Even that wouldn't be so
difficult but we only have one oven and it will be occupied with the brisket for
six hours or so. Maybe I'll take advantage of Egret's offer and use her oven for
the brisket.

She also offered to make the challah but that's way too
much work to ask of a dinner guest and anyhow, I wouldn't even worry about having
it except that I really do feel like making it. I'm also trying to decide whether
using the breadmaker would still assuage the urge. That way, I'd use the dough
cycle so that I would still get to braid it (because what's the point of challah
if it's not braided?) but I wouldn't get to knead it. Somehow kneading sounds

It's just a small dinner and my guests aren't critical
types. I'm not really as angsty over this as I probably sound; it's just that I'm
in a mood to cook all kinds of things and I don't have the time to make as many as
I'd like. Roasting beef, simmering soup, and baking bread are all heavenly smells
and I'm looking forward to having them in the house.

I also found a
nice easy recipe for baked brie that someone gave me, but I think I'll save that
for Thanksgiving. Rudder will deepfry a turkey for that, so I'll have more oven
space available. then.

What I really want for this dinner, of
course, would be for my grandparents to prepare and eat it with me. That's not
going to happen, short of Moshiach coming tomorrow, so I'll have to settle for
food that reminds me of them. Oh. No wonder I don't want to give up any of it.

Posted by dichroic at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2003

didn't I once say talking about food is boring?

Somewhere around yesterday, I realized that I'm serving five people dinner on
Saturday and I still haven't decided what to serve. Actually, technically there
will be seven people there, but the two littlest ones are bringing their own milk
bar. Or she's bringing them.

For the last several years, I have
celebrated the major Jewish holidays by having people over for dinner. Not
necessarily Jewish people, since most of our friends aren't, but we do at least
usually talk about the holiday a bit. For me, holidays are inextricably linked
with big family dinners and that's the thing about them I miss most, so this is
how I celebrate.

I'm sure about wine, salad, and cheesecake for
dessert, which I will cheat and purchase form the Cheesecake Factory. I like
baking, but I won't be getting any help with cooking dinner that night, because
Rudder has scheduled a marathon practice row (literally, 26.2 miles) for himself
and the other masochists people training with him. If I do have time to
bake, I'd rather make challah. Not sure how likely that is, though, because I
think I'd have to start the night before. For the goyishe kopfs out there, challah
is a braided eggy bread. It's gorgeous to look at, but not a quick bread --
requires kneading and rising time.

I'm sure about the cheesecake and
about serving a salad, and reasonably sure I'm making roasted vegetable (a la
Sundays at Moosewood. One guest is a vegetarian, and if I roast asparagus,
peppers, new potatoes, carrots, and whatever else I pick up, she'll have lots of
choice. If (when) I don't have time for challah, I can pick up good bread at the
grocery. (Between the produce and bread, I may be in for a trip to the gourmet
grocery.) So next, I need to figure: do I want to start with soup? If so,
traditional matzo ball soup or a good vegetable soup recipe also from Moosewood?
(It's African inspired, nice and light, and includes okra and lemon juice, among
other things.) What about the main course? I'm thinking maybe a brisket or roast,
but then what do I do with all the tasteless leftover chicken from the soup? Or I
could really cheat and add matzo balls to boughten chicken broth but I think my
great-grandmother might turn over in her grave. Bad enough already I skim off all
the schmaltz.

If I serve beef for dinner, I'll have the gravy from
it, and roasted veggies don't need gravy. Should I also make bowties and kasha or
mashed potatoes to use it up? That would be another dish for the vegetarian guest,
though I know from past experience she's not demanding about special foods.

Actually, that sounds good: beef, roasted veggies and bow ties and
kasha, in which case I might leave the new potatoes out of the roasted veggies.
Salad and a possible soup. If I do the veggie soup I don't have to worry about
whether the veggie guest will eat it, but I like the idea of serving at least some
traditional Jewish recipes. Note to self: Check if Wildflower Bakery or AJ's sells

One concern this year is that with all the business in my
life, I haven't been able to get into the contemplative mood I think is
appropriate for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Once I get my meal plans settled, a
day in the kitchen doing what my ancestors have done every year should help.

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

September 23, 2003

what the hell is that?

The following is an honest question. It is not meant as an insult to anyone
involved (except possibly myself, for being stupid, if the answer is obvious). And
it's sad in a way that I have to put that disclaimer into what is, after all, a
diary, but then again, if I want to make my diary public there are certain
responsibilities that go along. You are warned, though, that the following is a
bit un-PC.

When you go to the same gym at the same time for a long
time, you see the same people in the locker room. They cycle in and out, as they
start working out and then give up or change their schedule or move away. The gym
where I shower after rowing seems to have a lot more turnover than the one nearer
home where I lift. I've been seeing a couple of new women, clearly friends, at the
former lately. One is fat and one is very fat, and I'm not using those words
carelessly. I can't estimate weights, but the smaller one would have a hard time
fitting in a standard office chair with arms and the other is much larger.

So OK, just to start off with, props to both for coming to the gym,
which I know can be scary when you start. Second, kudos to both for not being
squeamish about locker rooms. Many much smaller people go to great lengths to make
sure their flesh is covered at all times -- I'm not sure if they think people
would laugh or be crazed with lust, but yeah, whatever. And I can also report
that both have cool tattoos. In fact, I keep meaning to ask one whether the red-
headed girl with pigtails on her back is Anne or Pippi - either way it says
"possible friend" to me. The other has an elaborate faery on her leg, all wings
and long hair and Rackham-ish.

The extremely fat one was sitting on
the locker room bench yesterday in her underwear. I noticed because from where I
was the locker bank at right angles just revealed an enormous belly sitting on a
thigh, which for some reason is a disconcerting thing to catch out of the corner
of your eye. But here's the part I don't get: below the belly was a whole 'nother
body part, sort of round and hanging separate, about the size of a volley ball,
pinkish and covered with dimpled skin like a rough orange peel. I honestly can't
figure out what it was. Another fold of belly? Could be, but it just didn't look
like it was attached in that way. A growth? I can't imagine not having it removed
well before it got to be that size, especially for someone health-conscious enough
to be at the gym. Odd.

Definitely not the type of thing locker
room protocol permits asking about. But I do have to ask about that tattoo.
Anyhow, I do plan to talk to both more; they seem very nice and the choice of
tattoos indicates some intelligence to me, a vast improvement over some of the
dimwitted snots I've seen there before.

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

September 22, 2003

below the hips

It's all about the nether extremities.

It just sucks when you buy a
pair of high heels because they're comfortable in the store, and then as soon as
you really walk any distance they try to eat your feet.

Also, I've
been noticing lately that my legs are huge. They're not fat, really. (Full
disclosure: Well, OK, My upper thighs do jiggle a little when I walk, but not far
enough down to show in a skirt or medium shorts.) But it's mostly muscle, and
there's lots of definition in the calves especially. It's just that both calf and
thigh seem a bit disproportionate, and jeans that fit elsewhere are beginning to
be tight in the thighs. Too many squats at the gym? What am I supposed to do about
that? I have no desire to quit trying to get stronger.

My mom even
commented on them a coupl eof years ago, and I quote, "You know, Paula, for a
little girl, you really have big legs." That was when I was in a heavy gym period.
I cut down some times of the year in order to do more distance on water or erg,
but I'm planning on lots of lifting this winter. So here I am again, Little Ms.
Biglegs. Sigh.

Anyway, it's past time to go home. Another crazy day.

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

September 20, 2003

house of pain

I live in the House of Pain at the moment. I mean that almost literally. I'm not
in pain myself, but the rest of the people here are. Rudder has persuaded a few
people to either do the marathon race in Natchitoches, Louisiana this November or to train as if they were doing it -- training for a marathon (a real one, 26.2
miles, 42.1 km) is not a bad way to get in shape for 5km head races.

That's why Rudder and four others are doing marathon erg
pieces in my living room right now. (Well, the guys have finished. The two women are still going. I planned to write this earlier but my Internet conection was down.) The living room is an admirable place for them because it has a tile floor so sweat drips are easily moppable and there's not normally any furniture there but a ping pong table, now folded and pushed out of the way. The first Terminator movie is playing, loud enough to be heard ver all the rowing machines; between that, the machines themselves and the window open to help keep air moving, they can be head from outside well away from my house. I hope we didn't wake anyone, as they started at 7AM.

The living room is, as Mechaieh once noted, acoustically live. Sounds resonate in it. It's not easy to escape the noise, so I haven't gotten a whole lot of reading done. I did get my food shopping out of the way - came back and had to change movies for them, because *of course* getting up for an unplanned two minutes would compromise a three-hour marathon piece. Silly obsessives.

They're almost done. That's a total of well over fifteen hours on the erg, among the five of them. Impressive .... but maybe I can get Rudder to do the mopping later.

Posted by dichroic at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2003

not in my town

I live in Chandler, row in Tempe, work in Phoenix, drive to work through
Scottsdale, get my hair cut in Mesa -- it's all My Town. That's why I was
incensed to hear that a mosque in Tempe was recently vandalized for the
fifth time. Nazi symbols were spray-painted on it, and that's a bit of our
recent past that doesn't need to be resurrected no matter whom it's directed
against. More than that, though, it's ridiculous and appalling to tar a whole
thousand-year-old religion with the terrorist brush. I don't much care what
happens to those who have connived at wholesale murder and terror, but those
people were not following the teachings of Muhammed any more than the Crusaders
and Inquisitors were following the path of Jesus.

I signed the href="">Declaration of
and I stand by it. I cannot see this kind of act without speaking. I
won't speak or even read hatred, to the point that I've removed diarists from my
friends list who have expressed disdain for entire religious or ethnic groups. As
an American, as a human, and most particularly as a Jew, I feel the duty not to
keep silent. Possibly Fred Small can explain my reasoning better than I can; I
don't think he'd mind my borrowing his words, properly credited. It's a bit long
but I don't want to cut it; the asterisks are mine because I'm posting from

Not In Our Town

Words and Music by Fred Small

Copyright 1994 Pine Barrens Music (BMI)

When the Klan came to Montana, they made no grand parade.

No hooded knights on horseback, no banners boldly raised.

Spray paint and bomb threats, a voice on the telephone line:

"Kill the n***s, kill the ho*os, Jew b***h die."

Five-year-old Isaac woke screaming in the gloom.

"Mommy, there's a man at my window, looking into my room."

"Son, there's nothing out there but the shadows branches make."

The little boy went back to sleep, his parents lay awake.

For Isaac's bedroom window showed their faith for all to see

The candles of the menorah stood for hope and memory.

The next night, out of the darkness, a cinder block was hurled.

It shattered Isaac's window, and the boundaries of his world.


One moment of conviction, one voice quiet and clear,

One act of compassion, it all begins here.

No safety now in silence, we've got to stand our ground.

No hate. No violence. Not in our town.

The cop was not unfriendly. He said, "Ma'am, if I were you,

I'd take down that menorah, the Star of David, too."

Isaac's mother Tammy said, "I'm sure that's good advice.

But how then could I ever look my children in the eye?"

Then at their doorway a little girl did stand

A gift for her schoolmate in her outstretched hand.

A menorah drawn in crayon, from a Gentile to a Jew

It read, "To Isaac, From Rebecca, I'm sorry this happened to you."



Have you seen the paper? Did you hear the news?

What kind of people are we? We thought we knew.

Can children primed in prejudice in peace together dwell?

If we look out through this shattered glass, do we see ourselves?

Margaret McDonald called her pastor on the phone.

"This time the Jews will not face their foes alone.

We'll make paper menorahs, display them from our homes.

We'll show the bigots there are more of us than they have stones."

Volunteers printed up menorahs by the score.

Children in their Sunday schools colored hundreds more.

Grocers and dry cleaners gave out the design, singing:

What's a little broken glass when freedom's on the line?

Now in the town of Billings live not 100 Jews,

But menorahs now were everywhere, on every avenue.

Thousands upon thousands, in windows rich and poor.

When a neighbor stands in danger, we will not close our door.


Through the drifting snow, Tammy drove her children round

To see all the menorahs in the windows of the town.

"Are all those people Jewish?" asked Isaac as they went.

"No," his mother answered, "they are your friends."


repeat last line twice more:

No hate. No violence. Not in our town.

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

September 18, 2003

imported weather

Later note:

One of the things the href="">ND said I might have is
Wilson's Syndrome. The American Thyroid Organization href="
s.html">doesn't think so

Here's another thing I don't like about the climate here: we don't get storm days.
Growing up in Philadelphia I got snow days. That one winter I sepnt in Worcester
we even got storm days, though they're slightly less cool when you're living in a
hotel rather than a house. Living in Houston we got hurricane days and ice storm
days, and the hurricanes during those 7 years always seemed to hit far enough away
that no one I knew got worse than a bit of water damage.

Here we
don't get snow or hurricanes. We do get monsoon storms severe enough to knock over
tree limbs and cut the visibility down to where it's wiser to pull off the road,
but those never last long. You don't get a day off, you just wait ten minutes for
the storm to blow by. About the only time I've gotten time off was when I got to
work from home due to the gas shortage a month or so ago and "work from home" is
not exactly the same as "time off". We need some good snowstorms here. Anyone know
where I can import one?

And on a completely different note, why is it
that no matter how much weight I can pump at the gym, holding a teeny tiny new
baby makes my arm feel like lead after only a short time?

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

September 17, 2003

verdict on the ND

Well, I went to the natureopath (ND)yesterday. Prognosis is still unclear. (I mean
mine of him, not his of me.) His clinical manner couldn't be better: he spent
an hour and a half with me. When was the last time you heard of any kind of
doctor putting in that amount of patient time, except maybe during surgery?
Furthermore, he didn't talk down to me in the least, except for defining terms
when he thought it was necessary. He asked first if I had a biology background. (I
don't, specifically, but am reasonably good at medspeak and general sciences.) He
went into depth on my family and personal info and seemed interested in
everything. When I mentioned reservations about specific things, like the blood-
type diet (on which more below), he answered them fully, and told me why he
believed in it and who did what research.

And he gave me wind

On the other hand, he does, as I said, buy into the blood-
type diet, about which I'm very skeptical. Actually, its broad outlines sound very
good and match my own experience and conclusions:

I. Different people have
different needs. The ND's response when I said that I tend to be uncomfortable
with anything that says all humans fit into four groups was, "I agree, but most
diets try to fit everyone into one group." Good answer.

II. Given our blood
types, Rudder needs to eat lots of meat and I should go easy on red meat and dairy
and eat lots of veggies. This matches what we do already, and we do it because
that's how we feel our best.

III. Less processed foods are better than
highly processed ones. Not that you can tell from how I eat, but at least to a
degree, this makes sense to me.

On the other hand, this diet doesn't
stick to saying I should eat more fruits and veggies, it has long lists of which
ones to eat and which ones to avoid. (Oranges and bananas are among the latter.
Bananas are the ideal regatta breakfast: lots of potassium and you don't tend to
puke them back up. Avoid them? Don't think so.) I have trouble taking a diet
seriously that lists out specific fishes and says to eat salmon but not flounder
or whatever that was. Ye gods and little fishes.

Another reservation
is that he said I might have hypoadrenalism, which according to the net is related
to chronic fatigue syndrome and (in its acute form) to Addison's disease. I was OK
with this possible diagnosis (apparently you normally diagnose by treating for it
and seeing if the patient responds well) until I looked it up and the very first
listing on the search engine mentioned a treatment used by Edgar Cayce. I am
not taking ANY treatment recommended by Edgar bloody Cayce! Also, there was
a warning from the AMA about one drug used by from "fringe practitioners" to treat
it. So I'll have to see what he recommends as treatment and make my decision then
-- he's supposed to send more info by email. Anyhow, it's pretty clear to me I
don't have CFS or if I do it would have to be the world's record mild case, so if
this is more than slightly related, I may also balk.

I will try to
avoid soda and go easy on the red meat, though.

To his credit, the ND
being also a rower, he did NOT recommend I give up rowing and take up the "gentle
exercise such as yoga or golf" the blood-type book recommends, he said flat out
that though he's seen dramatic improvement on the diet, he's also seen people for
whom it didn't work, and he understands that nobody is just going to eat exactly
what's listed in all those long lists - he said, "Just try to eat a bit less of
THOSE and more of THESE and do what you can," or words to that effect. So I'll
listen to what else he has to say.

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

September 16, 2003

killing pace

The pace of my work just now can be described in one word:

People are asking questions faster than I can answer
them. They're sending things for me to review quicker than I can review them. This
is a Good Thing, as I keep having to remind myself. This means they're working on
the projects we've been pushing them to do. This also means, it being only
September, that there's a good chance we'll make our hard deadline at the end of
this year.

If I'm not dead of exhaustion by then.

I was
amused, in a diary I read regularly, to hear a SAHM (Stay at-Home Mom) pointing
out that her work takes an enormous amount of time, that people who do this and
also have outside jobs tend to have housekeeping services, settle for messy
houses, and eat a lot of take-out. All absolutely true, but missing one vital
point: if I didn't have a paid job, I would be settling for a messy house, eating
prepackaged and take-out food only every other day, and wishing for a housekeeping
service. There are many reasons I don't plan to ever have "homemaker" or even
"stay-at-home mom" as my primary job description, but one not insignificant one is
that I would be terrible at it (though I do wish I could work at home). Of
course, given a modicum of intellectual honesty, that means I can't disdain those
who have skills I don't. I can only assume all those stereotypical men who (used
to - one hopes it's past tense) assume running a house is easy have never tried.
That, and wish I had a housekeeper.

I was not amused at all to read
in a diary I don't frequent, that the solution to stressful jobs is just to work
less. Not all jobs pay by the hour, for one thing; for every professional thing
I've ever done, you work the greater of 40 hrs/week or what's required to get the
job done, or you don't have the job. I don't work overtime to satisfy my retail
lusts; I don't get paid extra for OT at all. The thing that makes my day so long
is the hideous (well, actually parts of it are quite pretty) commute. The only
immediate solution to that would be to quit my job and the thing is, despite the
pace at times, I like my job. I think it matters, I work with some great people,
and it's something I think I can do well. As for stress and flurry, honestly, I do
prefer having a bit of it, to keep me feeling challenged. It's just that there are
limits. I'd be happy to cut back, if only there were anything I was willing to
give up, but though I like the money, mercenary motives are not at the heart of it
for me.

P.S. If I know you and you're a fiction writer, you should take Emma Bull's and
Will Shetterley writing seminar and
come visit me just before or after. (And if you happen to be related to me and you
don't have a car (hint hint) I might even be persuaded to drive you four hours or
so to Bisbee.)

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

September 15, 2003

stress and the 'path

Q. What sucks more than cutting your row short (only 1 lap) because you MUST get
to work early to set up a class room for someone who's coming from out of town to
teach at your site?

A. Having said teacher arrive about five minutes
after the class was set to begin.


Tomorrow I have
my appointment with the natureopath. About the closest I've ever gotten to
alternative therapy is a massage, so this should be interesting. I've never even
been to a chiropractor; I don't think I believe in them, except maybe for short
term relief.

I'm going to this guy because one of his areas of
specialty is diet, and he's a rower so he knows what the sport entails. So far I'm
impressed; he emailed me his forms so I can fill them out ahead of time instead of
waiting in his office, and the forms themselves are very good. They ask lots of
questions about things like allergies and diet I have seen on my regular doctors'
forms. They also tell you up front that your insurance may not cover this - I give
brownie points for honesty. Then again, they asked for both age and DOB. Minus
brownie points for not being able to subtract.

I did add a note to
the bit realeasing him to do this or that, that I have to agree to each thing,
though he could hardly dose me without my knowledge, I suppose. I like the idea
of lifestyle counseling (I'm wondering if there may be deficiencies in my diet)
and of looking at toxins in my environment, but though I have nothing against
botanical medicine, it is medicine and I want to talk about side effects
and interactions before taking any. The form also lists homeopathic medicines,
which are defined as "prescribing the use of highly dilute substances that
parallel the patient's symptoms to help minimize the patient's symptoms". Um,
sounds like sympathetic magic to me. Do voodoo dolls count? Still, I figure I can
always take the parts of the advice that make sense to me and ignore the rest.
About the first four things I've listed under current health problems translate to

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

September 14, 2003

a nest of books

You know what my cats and I have in common? We all like to lie around surrounded
by a big nest of books. Oh, and we all have Attitude and would like to get more
sleep also.

Work has now taken to giving us bonuses in the form of a
special little Amex card with the bonus amount on it. This means it must be spent
instead of, say, being put into savings or used to pay off a balance on the real
credit card. Then they gave my groups bonuses for something we'd already gotten
bonuses for, but mandated by a different level. Whatever. I suppose I could defeat
their fell purposes by using it for, say, groceries, but instead I caved and
headed for the local used book store.

Cue Kaddish here, since it
seems to have closed. So I spent it at the other local used bookstore, which is
considerably less costeffective because actually only about half their stock is
used and even those are mot sort of late model and thus more expensive than a haul
from the other place used to be. Sigh.

Posted by dichroic at 06:43 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2003

annual fall lament

This morning I did over 12km and it was in the high 70s with a breeze and oh it
was nearly cool and the wind dried my sweat and oh. Oh. Oh.

I even
drove to work with the top down, though that might have worked better had I not
attempted lowering it while stopped at a traffic light, resulting in my getting on
the freeway with it not totally locked down. Oops. I was able to push it into
place without veering out of my lane, though.

Seventy-eight degrees
at 5AM may not spell "fall" to most people, but I'll take it until I can get a
better facsimile. (Actually, the depths of our winters would make lovely fall
weather for many places.) There is something wonderful about weather that actually
makes you do something energetic to sweat, as opposed to our summer heat which
makes you into a dripping mess the second you step outside.

In March
1989, right after college I moved to Houston. In December 1995 I moved to Phoenix
and I've been here ever since. That means I've spent fourteen years in hot
climates and I have come to hate hot weather with a passion. It's a pity, because
though I didn't like Houston much, I do like living in Phoenix otherwise. Then
again, without the heat everyone would move to Phoenix and we'd turn into LA, our
greatest collective fear. Also, I'm quite fond of my husband and he likes it here.
He's not crazy about the heat either, but it doesn't bother him as much as it does
me. He's willing to move eventually, but there always seems to be some reason for
"eventually" not to turn into "now".

Meanwhile I read href="">M'ris's paeans to Minnesota seasons and
SWooP's accounts of New England's short hot spells, spectacular (though tourist-
infested) falls and long cold winters and whimper longingly. Some day...

Posted by dichroic at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2003

I feel the need ... for iambic pentameter?

I can't quite figure out why John M. Ford's name sounds so familiar. I think it's
a cross between the famous director of similar name (no M.) and the fact that it
sounds like a character out of L.M. Montgomery. (Well, you know, he'd have had to
be a son of Ken and Rilla Ford, mentioned in one of the later stories ... oh,
never mind.) At any rate I do like his poem href="">110 Stories. I'm a sucker for those
old-fashioned things like rhyme and scansion, especially when used in a poem that
doesn't suck, that shows some craft and imagery and so on.

It's been
an interesting thing to notice over the more disastrous moments of the past few
years: something about great collective sorrows or (more rarely) joys seem to call
out in us a collective need for poetry. There will probably not be a memorial
service today that does not include some sort of verse or song along with the
names. Look back at the online diary entries from September 11 or the day of the
Columbia explosion: when those things happened, many, many of us borrowed others'
words that day. A little later, many attempted their own poetry in order to shape
worldshaking events into something they could absorb. I have no doubt the same
happened the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, or the day of the treaty at Appomattox
or the day Martin Luther King was killed, though then it would have manifested in
private letters or newspapers or chuch bulletins. I have no doubt the same is
happening today in Sweden in response to the assassination of Anna

Humans seem to need poetry for more private emotions too: we
ignore it, most of us, in calm times but then find some verse to be read at
weddings and funerals and graduations. From the executed murderer who borrowed href="">Invictus for his final
defiance to the entire href="">page of poems, many
execrable, each of which has nonetheless comforted a person bereaved of a pet, the
same pattern shows. People who could not quote more of any verse than "Roses are
red, violets are blue," at normal times, somehow find themselves needing something
more than prose at their best and worst moments.

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


September 11: I don't think I have anything to say, myself.

href="">John M. Ford does, though.

Posted by dichroic at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2003

getting stupid again

I'm getting stupid again -- I feel discomfortingly like a character in Flowers
for Algernon
. Yesterday I forgot to put my engagement ring on when I got
dressed after rowing which wouldn't be a big deal except that I was getting
dressed in the gym, and I tend to turn my little multipocketed jewelry pouch
upside down to get the earrings and whatnot out. If something falls out and I
don't see it, I can possibly leave it behind, which is not a good thing to do to a
diamond ring. (Hmm. Maybe it would be smarter NOT to do that to get stuff out. I
think the fact that it's taken me this long to figure that out proves my general
point.) I remembered in the car, and on arrival at work was able to find the ring
where it had fallen out of the pounch (which I hadn't reclosed) into a bottom
corner of my gym bag.

Then last night when taking out the
recyclables, I noticed my truck had its rear white lights on and was making an odd
humming sound. Upon investigation I realized the electrical system was still on.
After shutting down the truck, I'd remembered I'd left a CD in the player, and
since I was planning to take my other car the next day, I turned the truck back on
in order to eject the CD. Apparently I then got out and locked the door,
neglecting to take my keys with me. It was daylight at the time, so the lights
were less noticeable. If it hadn't been recycle night, I probably wouldn't yhave
noticed till this morning, assuming someone hadn't broken a window and driven it

I've always been forgetful, but two incidents in one day is a
bit scary. I've also noticed recently that I seem to be a bit less coordinate with
my hands and words. Rudder claims I've been using the wrong word more often
lately, too. Of course this all could be due to any number of frightening medical
conditions that I'm trying *really hard* not to think about, but I suspect it's
most likely due to too much exercise or too little sleep. I've had times before
when I took a week off rowing and felt as if my IQ had shot up 20 points and my
brain had quit idling and slipped into gear. Rudder's suggestion was that I might
have an imbalance in my diet that's exacerbated by higher caloric demands. That
explanation doesn't feel right to me, even though I do tend to have low iron, but
I'm thinking I might make an appointment with a naturopath who's also a rower and
who specializes in diet issues, just in case.

I'm also taking
tomorrow off from working out, but that has more to do with rewarding myself for
doing a 5K erg test this morning. Therein lies a whole 'nother story but it
involves way too much self-pity so I might not retell that one.

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

September 09, 2003

logos and ergos

I would like to award Alex Jay Berman, more generally referred to here as My
Brother the Writer, the award for href="">Longest GBook Entry Ever. (Should
we declare a new holiday? :-)

Go read his entry, anyway; it's

And now you know three things: 1) Yes, logorrhea does
run in the family. 2) So does the historic trivia gene. 3) Why he's not referred
to as My Brother the Editor. Though, in all fairness, it's not entirely his fault,
since signmyguestbook doesn't allow paragraph breaks.

If I didn't
have so much history here, I'd seriously consider moving over to LiveJournal just
because I like their comment system much better. I do have a journal over there,
actually, but only to simplify keeping up with some friends and a couple of rowing
communities there.

Tomorrow morning, the City group I'm coxing for is
doing erg tests. This is primarily to help determine who gets in the women's boat
that will be racing at the Head of the Charles but I think everyone has to do a
test. It's good to collect data occasionally to check progress. However, Wednesday
is the morning I cox for them, so now I have to choose between a few unsavory

  • Cox on Friday instead.
  • Hang out
    to help "cox" people on the ergs, encouraging them to get their best times. (This
    can be combined with Option 3)
  • Do an erg piece myself, to assess my
    own progress and to gain the team's respect by being willing to suffer with them
    (and just possibly, beat a few people's times).

this is one of those situations, the kind where the right choice is both
obvious and unpleasant. Granted that I do spend a lot more time on an erg than
most of these people, most of my erg practices are either not at high intensity or
not all that long. I have been trying to ramp it up during my warmups for
weightlifting, but those are only 1km pieces. 5K's hurt. Actually, Yosemite
Sam might make us do 6Ks for all I know. Those hurt for a thousand meters

Damn, damn, damn. Guess I'd better spend the rest of today
resigning myself to twenty-four minutes of pain tomorrow. Or if I try real hard,
maybe twenty-three minutes.

Posted by dichroic at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2003

how I spent my weekend

Don't ask me why I'm less inclined to update during the weekends, but I am. I
think it has something to do with not being stuck in front of a monitor for
hours on end.

So, the weekend, more or less in

Went a-rowing Saturday morning for a videotaping session. Got
taped, returned boat to boatyard, hurried back down to pilot boat so others could
be taped (the City rents its launch out for cheap, but Rudder and I are the only
two checked out on it). It is astonishingly relaxing to ride around on a gas-
powered boat watching others sweat behind a pair of oars. I bet Cleopatra rode
her barge up and down the Nile, just to watch (on the upwind leg) her bargemen
sweating in the sun, their oiled muscles gleaming.... Uh, sorry, I digress.
Afterwards, we went into the lake ops building to watch ourselves on tape. Turns
out I've got a weird bobble with my left hand I need to correct, and I open up my
body too soon (sorry, takes too long to explain; just take my word I shouldn't)
but not too bad overall. Rudder is upset because he "shoots his slide" moving his
body back before his oars are in the water, pure wasted effort. On the other hand,
he can beat just about anyone on the lake. I, on the other hand, may have decent
form but am slow. I need a rowing event where they give style

After we went out to breakfast with She-Hulk, we got home to
find we'd missed T2 and Egret at the lake, probably while we were watching the
tape. We relaxed a bit, did a few errands, then went over to see them and meet the
next generation. (I suppose if their mother is Egret, that makes them chicks.)
They're less than two months old now, or in other words, itty wee chicklets wif
the tiny ears and the itsy-teeny fingernails and the cloud-soft fuzzy little
heads. Awww... They also take turns fussing every few minutes, seem to be hungry
quite a lot, and then of course there's the whole diaper thing. Definitely didn't
leave me with any desire ever to have twins. But they sure are cute, not to
mention, as Rudder said, being very "interactive" for such young babies. He's very
good with babies and little kids, actually, but tends to refer to them as if they
were video games.

On Sunday we went over another rowers house to see
some video of the Masters Nationals races. Possibly because one of the primary
cameramen was 10 and the other nearly 15, the video wasn't as closely focused or
helpful as we'd have wished.

Then Sunday evening we had a bit of a
spat, quite likely because, well, remember a week or so ago when I reported that I
told Rudder he needed to focus on me and us a bit, having focused mostly on rowing
for the previous two months? (Actually, I'm not sure if I reported that here, but
I did tell him, all proud of myself for being proactive about asking for what I
needed.) Notice how we spent the weekend? Rowing, rowing, babies, rowing, rowing.
Definitely a pattern there. It's partly my fault, though; when he was dithering
over whether to apply for the Head of the CHarles, I probalby shouldn't have
talked him in to it. I didn't think he'd want to train as intensely as he's now
planning to. Then again, even if I hadn't talked him into it, he'd still be
training for just in case he decides to row a marathon two weeks after the
Charles, so I can't take all the blame. Sigh.

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

Arrival Day

It's not surprising I had never heard of href="">Arrival Day,
considering it's only just been invented. Now that I have heard of it, thanks
(predictably) to Baraita, it's not the sort of thing I can ignore.

Jews have long memories. It's not genetic, of course; it's ingrained by years of
Hebrew school teaching about ancient and modern persecutions, acts of heroism and
narrow escapes; in rituals that preserve tribal memories; in holiday celebrations
designed to make us feel that events of three thousand years ago happened to us,
personally -- and to remind us of their echoes in our times. But a four thousand
year history of victimhood alone would not be tenable; there would be nothing
worth preserving of the Jewish culture if we had done nothing but whine since the
time Jacob's older sons beat up on their youngest brother Joseph. So we remember
the points of light in the darkness. We celebrate the escape from Egypt and remind
ourselves not to act like the Egyptians when we are in their position of power. We
remember the heroic acts of the Danes in WWII and remind ourselves that there are
people willing to risk their lives to save others and that with all our history of
wandering, there have been times when we were welcomed and treated as

That's why, even though I am writing a day late, it's
worth celebrating the arrival of Jews in America and remembering that this is one
country in which a Jew is not necessarily considered a visitor but can be an
American, with all the freedoms and duties that entails. As such, it's also worth
remembering that we have a responsibility not just to follow the laws of the land,
as we would anywhere (it's part of the teachings of the Talmud, in fact) but to
work to hold the country to its ideals.

I couldn't watch all of
President Bush's speech last night; frankly, I was eating dinner and just couldn't
face him. But Rudder had the TV on and I did hear part of the speech where he
talked about perserving freedoms in and banishing terror from Iraq. I couldn't
help thinking at the time that we need to be even more vigilant in preserving
freedoms and banishing terror right here, in maintaining and protecting our rights
to read what we want, to think what we want, to love how we want. And those of us
with long memories owe it to our ancestors, whether they arrived on April 7, 1654,
or at the turn of the twentieth century as my own family did, to make sure that
new arrivals still are permitted to breathe free and to make new lives behind the
golden door, here in America, the Goldeneh Medineh.

Posted by dichroic at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2003

boat talk

I feel better, less overwhelmed, after getting sufficient sleep last night. That's
even after pushing it a bit on the water this morning. I've been mostly keeping it
at 60% which would be fine for this segment of my training except that I ought to
be increasing distance too and I keep being limited by time pressure. At any rate,
I did a 20-minute piece at more like 80% this morning, which is close to head race
pace. I'm not really planning to race this season ... except that if I
break down and do the local race I wouldn't want to embarass

I only did 10K today, but I'll get in a little bit of
distance tomorrow anyhow, because Rudder's arranged a videotaping session. Not
only is he training for the Charles late next
month (and incidentally, the three local clubs each got a crew in that event --
results of the draw were posted yesterday -- so I will know others there) but my
husband the masochist is still training for Natchitoches just in case he manages
to coordinate the vacation time and funds to race the marathon there. When I say
"marathon", by the way, that's a precise use of the word. It is a real marathon,
26.2 miles long, albeit rowing rather than running. He did it once before, in
1995, and loved it. *shudder*. My idea of fun is a 300m sprint.

video session should help me even though I'm not really training for a race at the
moment. I think my form's been a bit off ever since I put a lower rigger on the
boat. On the other hand, this riger (the part that holds the oarlock) should at
least make it possible for me to improve. The old one was too high which made it
impossible for me to do a full stroke -- my blade kept "washing out" or rising up
out of the water too soon. So maybe if I can work with this one, I can get a bit
more speed. Maybe.

Rowing is all about tinkering. There's essentially
one motion:


repeated thousands of times. It's the rower's job to get this perfect, and it's
the boat's job to permit him or her to do it. There are so many things that can go
wrong even for a fairly good rower: the blades bounce on the water during the
recovery, creating friction; the oars don't come out cleanly at the finish; the
oars come out too early or go in too late; the rower leans forward or back too
much or too little; the rower rushes the recovery and doesn't get the maximum
glide out of each stroke. Even the elite rowers are always trying to improve and
it's made more difficult that so many things are stillmatters of opinion on which
no two coaches think alike. Watch a race on TV sometime: the Australians will move
hands, body and legs simultaneously while Americans may extend hands then bosy
then legs on the recovery; Italians will be very fluid while the Brits may be
stiffer. Some countries go for size, others for whipcord strength and they all use
different degrees of layback or forward lean, different timing on the recovery,
different boat setups, different training styles. Whenever someone wins at the
elite level, others will copy their style, which may or may not be productive.
Some rowers win despite a bad style, some because of a good one. It's impossible
to tell.

(Though one thing is definite. You will never see an elite
rower who stands 5'2".)

Posted by dichroic at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2003

too much?

I am just having a can't-do-it day. I'm feeling overwhelmed by my gym routine (I
walked in feeling great, walked out feeling like crap), my commute (takes way too
big a bite out of my day, and 45 minutes on the highway is downright dangerous
when I'm post-workout groggy) and most especially by work. Too much stuff to do in
general, too much conflicting stuff in particular, too many people who don't care
or don't agree on what needs to be done. Just too much stuff. I feel downtrodden
and overwhelmed.

Which is of course completely ridiculous. I have a
major accomplishment for the week. (Got that writing submission sent out! I'm a
real writer with a real submission now! And possibly a real rejection to come!
Maybe I'll frame it.) I have a supportive husband who takes my writing seriously
even though I really don't. (He cleaned the litter box, a bedtime chore, while I
was up past my bedtime getting a quick read-through and submission tips from My
Brother the Writer.) I have, as mentioned, friends nad family to give me advice
when needed. And I even have a bit of relief on the work front. I just love being
told to evaluate something and given someone's name as a starting point... and
then finding out that that person has already done the relevant evaluation and
printed it up in a neat report.

But I do still get too much
commuting, too little time to row, and too little time to sleep.

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

September 03, 2003

not sent yet

OK, I lied. I didn't send that stuff out yesterday. But it was for a good reason,
honest. By the time Rudder (a ruthless proofreader) got to it and then got through
with it, it was bedtime. The ironic part: Rudder, who can't spell for beans (I
mean, literally, for all I know, he might have trouble spelling "for beans") even
caught me a misspelling a name. He says the writing samples are much more polished
than the accompanying letters, which doesn't really seem like a bad thing to me.
Part of it is because I'd spent more time on the sample essays, but a major part,
I think, is just that I am a better essayist than cover-letter-writer. Of course
I'll try to get the letters as good as I can, since in this case every bit of my
writing they see counts for or against me.

I planned to cox for
Yosemite Sam's group today, but ended up riding in the launch with him instead.
The city is paranoid about possible liability issues, so even though I've rowed
and coached for them before and they ought to have all my waivers on file, I can't
get in one of their rowing shells until I am officially registered for this
quarter. The crowning indignity is that they are going to charge me to cox! It's
only $10, probably for their (perceived) liability costs or possibly their
insurance, but coxing is the sort of service for which people are generally
grateful, since most rowers would far rather row.

Off to the next

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

September 02, 2003


Don't ever tell anyonr I said this, but I don't have enough
meetings today

Don't worry about my sanity, though; there
really is a rational reason. The reason is that I am wearing the boots from href="">yesterday. The thing
about these boots is that they weigh about ten pounds each. I don't know why.
Maybe they're intended for riding horses, so that the horse and stirrup would
carry all the weight, though the heel doesn't look right to me for that. But then
again, I know nothing about riding except what I've garnered fro frequent
childhood readings of Black Beauty and most of the black Stallion books.
At any rate, intended for riding or not, these are serious stomping boots. What I
need now are meetings with nasty and lazy people so I could have someone to stomp.
Unfortunately, what I have are only a few meetings and those are with people who
are either doing the right things or have good reasons why they

I suppose I could go find out if there are any roaches in the
bathrooms. But then I'd get my boots all messy.

Tonight: review and
envelope the cover letter, query and writing samples because yes I was a good girl
and did get them all done last night despite the bottle of wine Rudder insisted we
finish. Tomorrow: show up to cox for Yosemite Sam's program. Should be
interesting. I'm not sure yet whether I mean that in a sarcastic way or not. Ask
me tomorrow.

Posted by dichroic at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2003

not an exciting weekend

Ah'm tahred. Somehow that sounds tireder in Texan. Saturday we cut down and
then cut up trees and hauled them off to the brushpit, a task both depressing and
strenuous. Now that they've gotten most of our Ponderosas, the bark beetles and
drought have apparently decided pinon pines are tasty too. We're both stlil sore.
Yesterday involved reducing Mount Laundry to a molehill and a few other assorted
errands. Today I rowed 12.5 K, which shouldn't be grueling as pure distance but
was because of the heat and (for Tempe) humidity. Then I came home, showered, and
headed back to the boatyard with Rudder to spend another hour or two working on
the boats. Came home, ate lunch and went shoe

Unfortunately, spending a 3-day holiday weekend and doing
very few unusually fun things tends to leave me feeling cheated, which wouldn't be
a major problem if I didn't deal with it with retail therapy. I suppose it's
probably cheaper than a shrink in the long run, but it would be fair to say that
buying four pairs of shoes could be construed as excessive. In my own defense,
three pair were replacements for shoes I'd had a while that are starting to come
apart. And the fourth ... well, really. I ask you. How could I be expected to
resist th
? And for 2/3 of the listed price, at that?

Posted by dichroic at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)