Not a good day for breathing around here. We're having more uncharacteristically
windy weather. Given that prevailing winds over most of the US are from the west,
and that the Southern California fires are due west of us, you can see the
problem. Oddly enough, though the morning news kept talking about the smoke here,
they listed particulates as being only at a moderate level. Far as I'm concerned
when the air moves from transparent to translucent so that more distant mountains
are invisible and the closer ones show in outline only, the air quality is
somewhat worse than moderate.
Because of that and the possibility of
more wind, I elected not to row this morning. I got to sleep (well, lay in bed
trying to) for a whole extra 40 minutes and then I got up and erged for an entire
hour plus cooldown, over 11 km, so I didn't even lose my Good Girl In-Shape
Brownie Points for the day. Rudder elected to go to the lake anyway, since he had
to derig a boat so it can be driven (by someone else for a change!) to
Natchitoches, LA, for the marathon he's rowing there a week from Saturday. I
believe he did row after that, thereby straddling that fine line between dedicated
and not too bright.
I am having a very comfortable day today. As I
may or may not having mentioned, I have a very cool job that is labeled with a
strong contender for World's Goofiest Title: I am a Six Sigma Engineering Black
Belt. (I could translate but it takes too long. Suffice it to say I help develop,
teach, and implement efficient software development processes. I can translate
that too but my fingers are tired; the basic idea is to cut down on defects and
wasted time.) At any rate, I decided to dress up for Halloween as a real
black belt. After last Sunday's regatta we were haning out with a rower who is
also the only serious karateka I know and she very kindly agreed to loan me her gi
complete with actual black belt. It's slightly large (everybody's bigger than I
am; in her case it's mostly along the vertical axis) but these things turn out to
be extemely comfortable. One of these days, I'd like to study martial arts so
maybe someday I'll have my own. That can go on the to-do-when-I-have-time list
right after getting my IFR. (Instrument Flight Rating.)
I cleave the laminar layer between water and air,
Tracing two dimensions on the boundary plane.
Stretching the spidersilk veil of night's ending
I turn my bow to the still-dark west
And look east to watch the clouds melt in sunrise.
Moving with the dawn-wind now
I feather my blades earlier to let it blow me down my course
And the boat lifts with me
We gather speed
And I am riding the wind.
One result of the trip to Boston was to get me worried about clothing for the trip
to Antarctica. The Sunday we were there (10/19) was grey and drizzly. We cabbed to
the Navy Yard to see the Bunker Hill visitor's center and Old Ironsides, then
walked across the river to Paul Revere's house and Faneuil Hall. I was wearing a
long-sleeved T-shirt under the same Polartec jacket and Gore-tex shell I plan to
pack for Antarctica (unless I elect to replace the latter with a cheap rainsuit)
and I was cold. Now I'm wondering whether I need to invest in a down liner
or Polartec 300 fleece to wear under my shell. I've worn the fleece shell
combination in winters from Philadelphia to Worcester, MA to Colorado to Oregon
and not been too chilly, though, so I'm hoping that it was just the underlayer
that was insufficient. In Antarctica I'll replace that T-shirt with a tCoolmax or
Driwick top and a light fleece or wool sweater under the
Yes, I am a sucker for high performance fabrics (wool
included) and gear.
Even if I elect to wear the shell I have and take
my chances with getting its little pores all clogged instead of buying a cheap
nonbreathable rainsuit that would probably be a foot too long, I will need
rainpants. I can find them in lots of places, but haven't yet been lucky in
finding a pair that are a) cheap and b) available in petites. I may just give up
and spend the extra money, on the theory that if I buy a pair that fits, I'll wear
them again even if not in the near future, but if they bunch up and make me feel
uncomfortable and look like a fireplug, I won't. So I'd spend less money but it
would all be wasted.
How's that for justification?
least at this point I think I have everything else I need for the trip, except
film, which can wait, and Christmas and birthday gifts for Rudder that are small
enough to pack and bring along.
P.S. I know a whole entry about cold-
weather clothing may be boring, but the alternative was one one exploring why
Rudder and I have been in a more amorous phase lately. Complaints? I thought not.
Silver and gold.....
Yukon Cornelius would be happy with
Yesterday's regatta went well. I ended up not entering in my
single at all ("decided" is probably the wrong word - "procrastinated and waffled"
is more like it) but coxed two boats to a first and second place finish
respectively. We had what I think of as true regatta weather. It's not often very
windy out here except during a storm, but yesterday was an exception, due to an
incoming cool front. (yay!) The water was so rough that most people wouldn't have
gone out on it, on a normal practice day. I coxed a men's four and a women's four,
both from the City program, both in the same boat. The boat is a bowloader, which
means that the coxswain is placed laying down into the bow of the boat, ahead of
the bow rower. That means the boat can be a bit shorter and thus lighter weight,
and because the cox is lying down instead of sitting up, it has a little less
drag. In yesterday's weather, though, what it meant was that waves would wash over
the bow of the boat and land right on me. By the end of the men's race I was
sitting in several inches of cold water, shivering in a stiff breeze. (Of course,
on the other hand, that makes it officially the first time I have been cold in
Arizona this fall furing daylight hours. Yay again.) Normally during a race, I'd
lie down into the boat as far as is consistent with visibility but in that race I
had to sit up more just so the waves wouldn't break over my face. The rowers got
very wet too, but at least they were burning calories. The rough water is hardest
of all on singles, the smallest and lightest boats; Rudder called it "horrible"
and said that waves were breaking up to his shoulders and rendering the rear-view
mirror clipped to his cap unusable. The second race I coxed wasn't so bad; the
wind had calmed a bit in the intervening hour and I'd put on a long-sleeved shirt.
Also, I think the boat was sitting up a bit higher out of the water because the
women are lighter than the men. (Though not by much!)
involuntary immersion, the men were actually much more fun to cox than the women.
They were not nearly as smooth, but much more responsive to everything I said and
I felt more a part of the crew. Also, they had actually asked me to cox
them, instead of just having their coach throw me in. Finally, they had a lot more
power. Of course you expect a men's boat to have more power than a women's, but
these are strong women and I got the feeling they just didn't care as much, which
could account for why they got passed on their home turf and ended up coming in
second to a college crew from Loyola Marymount. The men cared, gave it all they
had, and won their race. (It is, of course, also possible they didn't have as much
Yosemite Sam was distressingly unorganized. He had no
idea which boat he wanted me to cox, just said to "be available" because he wanted
to throw me into lots of boats. He was acting as dockmaster and appears to have
decided that meant he couldn't worry about any of his crews. I think he meant me
to cox the women's eight, but they ended up getting a junior cox to take them out.
(I didn't argue and it wasn't a bad decision for them to make; the cox they got is
very good and his mother was one of the rowers in the boat.) As a result of not
knowing which boat I was in, and because several of the crews were thrown together
at the last minute, there were a number of city crews running around frantically
at the last minute looking for their entry packets with the numbers to be attached
to the boat and pinned to bow- and stern-most rowers. If I had known in advance
which boats I was coxing, I could have taken control of all of those. I am very
disappointed in YSam; he wants to be head coach but refuses to do the planning and
organizing that entails. At one po in the complained that "someone should have
been assigned" to tkae reponsibilty for a boat's entry packet -- and it was one of
the boats he coaches! Uh, who should do that assigning again?
from that minor issue and the windy weather, it was a good day. The City
coordinator really did an excellent job organizing the race, it was finally
cooler, and for once I didn't go home from a regatta feeling either disappointed
in my results or left out because I didn't row. I don't necessarily want to cox
for YSam again (and have given him my two-week notice -- I'd only volunteered with
him through the fall season) but I like being in a boat with potential to do well.
POssible solutions are to cox more or to get in a quad where I can actually be a
rower in a boat that goes faster than I could on my own. Afterwards, quite a few
of the locals ended up at my favorite local brewpub, where only one glass or beer
got spilled on me. Another one got broken but I was nowhere near, I
come to think of it, this was a banner weekend on the Rudder-
and-Dichroic scale, since it satisied all four criteria: we spent time outdoors,
we got a workout (well, mine was sort of vicarious), we got to socialize. And, um,
the other one, too.
noticed this weekend that I'm feeling a lot better lately: more relaxed, less
flustered. I think this started in Boston, where I had four beautifully relaxed
days to spend with Rudder, where the only thing either of us had to do at a
scheduled time was to row one race on Saturday, and the only other things we had
to do were of our own choosing. It was quite wonderful to wake up late on Thursday
morning (after getting in past one the night before) and know that there was no
reason not to linger in bed.
Things are cooling down a little at
work, too, and in rowing I've been fairly successful at quieting my mind. In fact
I was thinking this morning that it's a bit like martial arts, in that I row
better and faster if I find my center and keep controlled. Often when I'm flailing
a bit I can just slow down my rate and smooth it out and find that my split time s
have actually gone down.
I should have realized I was doing better
from last week's diary entries, on the theory that if I have time and space to
think about how I haven't been contemplative enough, that in itself must
necessarily herald an improvement. There have been other signs. Saturday was a
wonderfully relazing day for us, but I still got through just about everything I'd
wanted to do: loads and loads of laundry, food shopping (the pantry was pitiful),
some studying for work, a bit more book-cataloging, and even a start on
embroidering She-Hulk's signature onto our tablecloth, from the dinner a few weeks
ago. It was a welcome change to relax and still be productive, as opposed to being
so dragged out from the week that I had no desire to do anything, as in the weeks
before Boston. I even found myself at a bit of a loose end Saturday evening, in a
mood to connect with other people (as opposed to wanting to retreat from them) and
worried about a few online friends. As a result I decided to take a leap and call
Batten -- we'd met in person once, but
it was a year ago. Score! Turned out I'd crashed a mini-DiaryCon and I got to
speak to not only Batten but also href="http://sixweasels.diaryland.com">Sixweasels and href="http://zencelt.diaryland.com">Zencelt. Wish I could have been there in
person to hit the bars with them, but this was next best.
Another sign is that my brain is creaking over toward thoughtfulness (relatively
speaking) again. This morning, prompted by a remark made by Al Sharpton of all
people, I found myself thinking on the topic, "Dulce et decorum est", constructing
an entry exploring whether I would be willing to die for my country. (Concise
summary: the amount I'd be willing to sacrifice depends on the exact definition of
the last three words, or maybe just on the definition of "for".)
Earlier, during practice, I turned my boat with the wind and
immediately felt my blades riding the wind before each stroke. There's a poem in
that phrase, "riding the wind", and if I can pull it together into a real poem I
will know my brain is back. (If I can pull it into a not-hackneyed poem I will
rejoice with great jubilation.)
On the very first page
of my guestbook, there is an entry from href="http://www.livejournal.com/users/fairmer">Mer that begins, "(sigh) You
seem to achieve the quiet, quality sort of reflection (in the entries I've read) I
desire to attain in mine." I've remembered it ever since because my reaction at
the time was so concise: "Who, me?"
I find myself now having the same
reaction to Naomi and href="http://www.marissalingen.com/">Marissa, though it's a bit exacerbated
because both write so enviably well. It's not that either has pulled back from
experiencing life in order to achieve some sublime nirvana; both write mostly
about the interface between inner and outer life with plentiful ilustrations from
their reading. It's the same thing I write about -- it's the same thing most
journals I find interesting are about, in fact, except for a few I read because
they are about lives with the morbid fascination of a train wreck or a soap
Yet I feel more and more that I'm missing out on the inner
side of the boundary. I write what's going on but I don't seem to have the brain
cells available to digest it and figure out what it means to me unless it's
something that leaps out and smacks me, like yesterday's href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/fewquest.html">Thought Map epiphany. In a
way, I suppose this is part of that.
It may be at least partly due to
the fact that I'm much happier than I was when I began this diary. When you have
problems, you are more inclined to stop and think about them. Right now, there is
of course the ceaseless bubbling of "Why am I here?" that is the backdrop of an
examined human life, but aside from that my only real problems are that I spend
too much time in my car and that I row more slowly than I'd like. How much time
can I spend thinking about those?
(That's a rhetorical question.
Obviously the answer is "plenty", since these words I am typing will comprise
entry #1068 in two and a half years.) Anyway, I know the answers to both problems;
I'm just not willing to take the consequences of implementing those answers at the
moment. Still, I feel somehow like my brain is turning to instant oatmeal, a
formless colorless mush with only occasional lumps of reconstituted fruit to make
it more interesting. (The quality of the previous metaphor is quite interestingly
a perfect recursive illustration of the point I'm intending it to make.)
I think I just need to figure out how to slow my squirrel cage brain
(better image than oatmeal, and true in another sense) down, without being able or
willing to slow down the rest of my life. Instead of being like a reflective pond,
I'm sort of like the lake in a wind, all stirred up with just bits of reflected
I am wondering ....
-- if we will ever again have a day where
it doesn't reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit?
-- if we will ever
move out of Arizona? (The two questions are not unrelated.)
-- if I
will ever again have such a thing as spare time, except when on
-- if I will ever again have a poem come into my
head? (Again, the two are not unrelated.)
-- if I will ever
figure out what direction I want my life to go in? (With a job I like a lot and a
marriage I'm sure is exactly the right one for me, I can afford to take my time to
answer this one.)
-- if I won the lottery would my life be better or
-- if I'm willing to put in the effort and pain it
would take to really drastically improve my race times this coming
-- and how much faster could I be, given constraints of time
-- and how can I iprove my spending habits, especially
considering that I am about to give Rudder a large check for my half of the
ridiculously expensive trip we're taking this Christmas? (Yeah, I know. The only
way to spend less money is to spend less money.)
-- and what other
questions am I not asking that I should be?
Good Lord. L'Empress just told me I need to do a Thought Process
Map (one of the tools I teach) on my whole life. Of course, she didn't say so in
so many words, but that's my translation. In fact maybe this whole diary is a
TMap. And if so, it's not a good one: I don't ask nearly enough questions.
And that could explain my lack of a defined goal; that's what a TMap is for, to
keep asking questions in order to define your problem or goal.
I don't think I can adequately convey what a kick in the pants that is unless you
are also a Six Sigma practitioner or other user of TMaps. Or maybe you'd have to
actually be me. But wow.
I will never have a CD recording the story about the time my grandparents went to
a nightclub (speakeasy?) during Prohibition with my great-aunt and her husband,
and how my now very dignified but then only nineteen years old great aunt got so
drunk she literally slid under the table. My grandmother's story about working for
the Social Security administration in DC as part of a jobs program during the
Depression will never make it into the Smithsonian Folklife Center's archives, and
we probably never will get the full story about why my great-grandfather didn't
sail on the Titanic, as family legend says he'd planned to.
late for me. But it's not too late for other people, who can now take an older
friend or relative to the href="http://www.npr.org/display_pages/features/feature_1475619.html">Storycorps
a> booth in Grand Central Station in New York and get those stories recorded --
one CD for yourself and one for the Smithsonian. There are even faciliators to
help elicit the stories. Rudder's still got all four grandparents, but I can't
figure out how to get them to New York. I hope the project expands, as they plan
If not, we'll just keep encouraging them to talk. Did you know
that you can spook an enemy by dropping an empty bottle on him from an airplane?
Apparently they make a loud and eerie noise on the way down. I didn't know that
either, but that's what one of Rudder's grandfathers did in the South Pacific
during WWII. The other was a CO, with a completely different set of stories to
tell. They don't think too much of each other, or they didn't for a long time (I
think time has mellowed both), but I'm glad to be related to both if only by
Maybe I can find an email address for one of my cousins.
Their grandmother, that same great aunt who ended up under the table is still
here, and she's a lot closer to NYC than Rudder's West Coast family.
Still catching up from the Boston trip. And my car battery seeems to have died.
(In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I am resolutely convincing myself
that it's only an easy-to-replace battery instead of say, an alternator.) Thank
goodness I have the truck to drive; having a spare vehicle is something I never
get over being grateful for, except when I have to pay insurance bills for two
I wonder how long it will be until I get to the auto-parts
store for a spare battery. Not tomorrow night, as it's my night to go drinking
with my honorary niece and nephew. (I
drink beer; they stick to milk. They bring their folks along, too.)
Hey, cool, the Child
Ballads are now online.
Yes, I'm back. This will be the usual
disjointed post-travel entry. Deciding to come in to work for a half day today was
not one of my wisest decisions ever. A simple mathematical matter: 5:30 AM flight
means wakeup at 3:15 EST which equals waking up at 12:30 in my home time zone, the
one I'm in now. Rudder proposed just staying up all night (he also proposed some
activities to fill the time) but as I was foolish enough to schedule a couple of
meetings this afternoon that demanded my actual presence, and thus enough
functioning brain cells to drive an hour back home some eighteen hours post-
reveille (spelling?) I decided that wouldn't work and settled for the abbreviated
Next year I will try not to do it this way. On the happy
side, it looks very likely that there will be a next year. Rudder finished 21/62
in the Club Men's Single event. More impressively, he finished with a time 4.3%
behind the winner of his race. Anyone finishing within 5% automatically gets into
next year's races, so he won't have to take his chances in the lottery next year.
Maybe if we do go, I'll race too, just for the hell of it. Or maybe not.
Was going to write more but that last meeting took longer than
expected. More tomorrow.
Off to the Big Beanpot in a couple of hours. I've got my packing mkostly done, but
did it so late and in such small incrememnts that I'm fairly certin I'll have
forgotten something. On the other hand, I'm deliberately not bringing an extra
sweatshirt on the theory that I might want to buy one there. (I do have a sweater,
a chamois shirt, a fleece jacket, and a waterproof outer jacket, so no one need
worry that's I'll freeze.)
I need a medium suitcase. It just feels
silly to be bringing my big one for only five days and normal clothing (no skiing
or rowing or camping gear, I mean) but I couldn't fit my clothing plus camera gear
into a small carryon sized suitcase. I also have thick socks, waterproof shoes,
and a hat and light gloves in anticipation of some icky weather this weekend.
Maybe I should go pack another book just in case there is more inside than
Oh, and last night the city of Tempe had a little sendoff
party for everyone going to the Head of the Charles - one city women's four, one
club men's eight, and a junior girls' four. And Rudder, whom they forgot to list
on the program (the guy who runs this "didn't know he was going", despite having
been there when we were loading Rudder's boat on the trailer last weekend. Duh.)
They even had the mayor present to christen a new boat at the same time. It was
all nicely done, and especially impressive that, though they gave nice long-
sleeved rowing shirts to the city crew, they're also handing out polo shirts to
everyone who is racing and representing Arizona. Nice touch. We took my boat down,
since it matches Rudder's with the AZ flag colors, and they had a few shots of him
rowing it on the news.
Only a couple minor nits to pick:
Given the official nature of the event, I understand why they had sparkling cider
there for everyone to drink in a toast.l But they also used cider to christen the
new boat. (Incidentally, the same four I've coxed a couple of times - hadn't
realized it wasn't officially named yet. Unlucky.) That's not right, just not
right. Boats need real champagne. Generally cheap champagne, mind you, but real.
It's a symbolic thing.
2) Second, echoing a recent local news
article, the mayor kept referring to the city crew as "ranked fourth in the
nation". Uh, yeah, whatever. What they actually did was to finish fourth in just
one of the hundreds of races at Masters Nationals in August. They do get credit
for making it to finals at least, but it's just one race and they didn't even win.
As Rudder pointed out, by that criteria, he's ranked second nationally - three
times. And that's not even taking into account the fact that this was only
Masters Nationals, and there are also Juniosr N aitonals, Club Nationals,
and the real thing, just plain Nationals - that last being where the Olympians and
owuld-be Olympians compete. Oh well. It bugs me only because it's factually wrong,
and because he kept saying the same thing over and over, but I suppose it makes
everyone feel good.
3) On the news show that night, there was a claim
that this was the "first Arizona crew going to the Charles". Uh, no. I'm pretty
sure not, seeing as I was in the boat that went three years ago. For that matter,
so was the woman stroking this one. It's true that they can confidently expect to
do better this time, but still, we were there. Also, they will certainly
not do as well as a local singles rower, a former Olympian (from Bulgaria) who has
raced at the Charles quite a few times. The year I was there too, she won her
race. That's a pretty big thing to overlook. One hopes this all was written by
randome city officials, not by the lake's small-boats coordinator, who is actually
a rower and coach and should damn well know better.
The teacher for today's class was actually kind of a jerk - the kind who is a
control-freak masquerading in nice-guy clothing, if you follow me. Or an S1manager
in an S2 situation, in the jargon of the class. Basically, he didn't like it that
my class asked lots of questions, even though none were asked in a mean way and I
thought all were intended to further understanding or challenge something that was
He got especially shirty when I asked whether the phrase
"Impacted knowledge" was perhaps intended to be "Imparted knowledge" and explain
that no, this meant impacting the knowledge a person had by adding to it. I still
fail to see how that would be different from imparting knowledge, except, of
course, for being a much uglier use of language. I forget the rest of the
sentence; it was such a badly-turned phrase that I meant to quote it here for the
amusement value. But I think there's a pun in there somewhere having to do with
impacted wisdom teeth.
On the plus side, apparently we get to spend
tomorrow watching the movie "Twelve O'Click High" and analyzing it for leadership
styles therein. Given my resolve to be as quiet a possible (he said we'll be out
tomorrow by 3:30 "or 4 if there are a lot of questions") I think I can get away
with just enjoying the film. It's not my usual type of movie pick but I believe I
can put up with that small privation in excahge for getting paid for this.
And who knows, possibly I'll actually learn something.
Well, what a good day so far. I had a greatpractice this morning, though I
have no idea why. I got in the boat feeling all morning-groggy and not inclined to
pull hard, began to push it a bit, and realized that I was feeling really good. I
ended up finishing with an average split over a second faster than Monday's and I
was pretty happy with Monday's.
Things went downhill a bit from
there; the rain held off all during my row and the first ten miles or so of my
drive, but then started coming down harder and harder, to the point that
visibility was fairly low. Unfortunately I'm driving the Mozzie today, instead of
my pickup (again, because it wasn't raining when I left home). That car is so low
I'm staring straight into the spray kicked up by other cars, and is so light I was
starting to worry a little about hydroplaning. I had no problems, though, driving
a sedate 55-60 mph, and can now attest that the convertible roof seals nice and
Then at work I managed to spill hot coffee all over my hand
- I think I spilled a little then clenched the cup harder, sending another wave
out. Luckily, it turned out the coffee wasn't all that hot, and I don't seem to
have much of a burn.
The best part of today is I get to leave in
about ten minutes and not come back for days and days. Today is a
department R&R thing (not rest and recreation, reward and recognition, though it's
the former too). We're supposed to go over to the house of our admin, who's a
fairly serious tennis player, hang out and get tennis lessons and laugh at each
other. Because of the rain, the tennis part may not happen but she's got alternate
plans and I can't say I'm too disappointed.
Then next week I'm
offsite in training for two days, telecommuting Wednesday morning, and then flying
out to Boston. Expect updates to be sparse, and expect me to be enjoying myself. I
like Boston, and I have confidence that Rudder will do himself proud in the race
(that would be midpack or better, given the level of competition). See ya!
This is not a meme, or at least not one started by someone else. I was just in a
listing mood. Inspired by an old drinking game:
I have never: considered moving back to Philadelphia.
I have made damn sure I have never: considered moving back in with my
parents (the problem is not with the high-level concept, just the particular
I have never: been back to Houston since moving Rudder out of there.
I have made damn sure I have never: interviewed for a job that would
require moving back to Houston.
I have never: been to a Quaker silent service.
I have made damn sure I have never: been to a fundamentalist service of any
religion (might be interesting if I were sure I could go only as observer).
I have never: limited myself to reading only certain genres.
I have made damn sure I have never: restricted myself from reading anything
I was interested because of ideas about what I "ought" to read.
I have never: liked every book called a classic, or even a classic of its
I have made damn sure I have never: forced myself to read anything that
bored me, unless required by class or job.
I have never: been on a diet.
I have made damn sure I have never: been on any diet that cut out entire
I have never: thought I was always right.
I have made damn sure I have never: acted stupider than I could help
I have never: voted pure party line.
I have made damn sure I have never: voted for anyone on the etreme right.
Or any Bush. (I have voted for a few Republicans if I thought they were the best
of the available candidates.)
I have never: been sorry to be an American citizen.
I have made damn sure I have never: thought my country was perfect and
couldn't be improved.
I have never: missed voting in a Presidential election since I was old
enough to vote.
I have made damn sure I have never: griped about the results of any
election in which I didn't vote.
I have never: thought being female put any restrictions on what I could
accomplish with my brain.
I have made damn sure I have never: let anyone else think so either, if I
could help it.
I have never: thought there were any humans who are completely free of all
I tried damn hard never to: act on any latent prejudices I haven't rooted
out yet. (Note: it's not a prejudice (if you're judging in stead of prejudging,
would it be called a judice?) if you think less of a person based on his or her
own past behavior.)
I have never: been good at shutting up.
Very busy this week, trying to get things neatly squared away because I'll be in
training (in town but a different site) for the first half of next week and going
to watch Rudder compete in the Head of the
Charles after that.
And my catsitter has retired, damn it. Said
she had to go get a "real job". Phooey. I hate to have friends take care of the
cats unless they are people who ask us for favors involving similar levels of
work, something that the friends who have offered to watch them are NOT GOOD AT.
(Are you guys reading?)
Speaking of traveling, any idea what we
should do in Boston, besides participating in (him)/ watching (me) the race? We
won't have a car. Remember, I was living in Worcester, MA, when I started this
diary, so I've seen some of the sights, but by no means all. I've eaten in Faneuil
Hall, been to the top of the Pru, been to the Science Museum and up in the Old
North Church's bell towere, where we even got to ring some bells. I've seen a
little of the Back Bay and Beacon Hill (from a car), been to Alcott's and
Emerson's houses and to Minuteman Park and seen "the rude bridge that arched the
flood". I've walked around Hahvahd Squeeah at night. I'd really like to see John
Adams' house in Quincy but don't know if we can get there on the T. Other
I've recently gotten comments that puzzled me from two separate people worried
about my mental state. As far as I can guess, they derive from href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/underest.html">this recent entry. Maybe
some clarification is needed. While I take rowing seriously and one of the ways I
define myself is as a rower, my self-worth is not built on my speed in relation to
other people's. I'd be stupid to do that, given how much of rowing speed is a
function of body size. As I've mentioned before, I'm small; I couldn't find
anthropometric data online (I was curious) but I'm sure I'd be in the shortest 20%
or so for adult American women. Since rowing is a sport that rewards height, I'm
generally shorter than anyone else a boathouse around except for
Please DON't tell me it's not about other people but only
about pushing myself. That is one of the things daily rowing is about, true:
pushing yourself, that and just being out there with the moon and the water and
your boat. But racing is purely, simply laying yourself out against other people,
pitting your strength and skills and training against theirs. You can't even race
the clock in rowing, because wind and water conditions make each race different.
And I will never win a race, at least not in a single.
Erg tests are
somewhere in the middle: conditions are controlled and you know your own record,
so it can be about racing the clock and doing better than your own previous best.
But it's a bit hard to concentrate on that, even if that's what your own erg test
is meant to be, and that's all it counts for, when you're lined up with a row of
other people competing against each other to win a spot in a race boat. And as it
happens, there are no women lightweights in that particular program, and everyone
else's time this last trial was at least a minute faster than
BUT IT'S OKAY. Don't worry about me. I get annoyed at people
not respecting what I can do, sure, but I'm not about to tear myself down just
because it doesn't match what other people can do. They have different material to
work with, and in some cases rowing fast might be all they're good
As I see it, there are three sets of things a human can be good
at, three that are worth building a self on - call them Head, Heart, and Body.
Head is brains and gumption and drive and logic; heart is pure goodness and all
about helping other people; body comprises athletics but also all sorts of
physical work, so it's not just short-lived triumphs. I think the supreme exemplar
of Body is not an athlete but href=http://www.classicreader.com/read.php/sid.4/bookid.269/sec.11/">this
I work on Body skills, of course, with rowing, and also on
some of the aspects of Head in which I have no natural gifts, like self-delusion
("ignore the pain") and self-discipline. And I've been working on Heart for
decades, trying to be a better listener and more healing to other people.
But all the things I'm naturally good at are Head and in those areas I'm
willing to take on all comers. If I ever am diagnosed with Alzheimer's or sustain
a brain injury, then you can worry about my self-esteem, but not now. The only
thing to worry about now may be the continued well-being of anyone who tells me I
can't do something I think I can.
I have not yet figureed out how to observe (celebrate is the wrong word) Yom
Kippur, myself. Rosh Hashanah and Pesach are easy: I make a big dinner, feed it to
people I care about, and talk, think and write about the meaning of the holiday.
For some reason, Yom Kippur is more difficult.
The approved method,
of course, would be to have a big meal, go to services, fast all the next day, go
to more services, then break the fast with another big celebratory meal. That just
doesn't seem right to me; I never really got much from services aside from a minor
feeling of virtue and a thorough knowledge of the Old Testament (the only thing to
read during the two-hour morning service). I honestly find it mind-boggling that
people my own age regularly go to church and synagogue without being made to. I
certainly don't mean to offend anyone who goes - I just mean I totally don't
understand it in my gut.
The problem is that I can't logically
separate out parts of the observance. I don't want to take the day off, fast and
go to synagogue. The purpose of fasting is to keep your mind focused pon prayer,
not distracted by the body(another logic problem; I've always found hunger more
distracting than simply eating and getting it over with) so fasting without going
to synagogue doesn't make sense. Taking the day off from work without fasting
seems like pure self-indulgence, completely alien to ascetic nature of the
holiday. And there's no point in a big meal before or after the fast I'm not
Yet it is the holiest day of the year, the seal on the period
of atonement and self-examination, so doing nothing doesn't ring right either. So
I am still unsure about what to do.
One traditional observance I
should definitely do more of is to make amends and apologies for any offenses over
the past year. SO to anyone who reads this, I apologize if I said anything to
offend you either wittingly or unwittingly. I apologize also if I have failed to
say anything that might have helped you. And I apologize to God for that my
irreverent mind keeps echoing, "A robot will not injure a human being nor through
inaction allow a human being to come to harm. Though on further thought, that sets
out the whole point: a robot who obeyed the Three Laws, being unable to injure
others, would not need a Yom Kippur for repentence. It is entirely because I am
human that I do.
I had the oddest cool thing happen last night. I was reading A. Edward Newton's
The Book-Collecting Game. When I came to a picture of his library in his
home, Oak Knoll, I realized I had been there. Sort of. As far as I know, I've
never been to Oak Knoll (though as it's apparently near Philadelphia, it is quite
possible I've been close) but I recognized that library.
A few years
ago, the highlight of a trip to Philadelphia was a visit to th Rare Book
Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia. At the very far end of that area
on the top floor in the middle of the city is a graceful, peaceful and intimate
old library that is a room from a private home. The windows look out on paintings
of a rural scene. The Librarian (ook!ook! -- um, sorry) told me that it was the
library of a man who had willed his fine collection to the Free Library and that
his widow and daughter decided that the room belonged with the books. SO they
donated the entire room, furniture and all, to be move and re-set up there. I
believe the Library uses it for gatherings of board members and such. And I seem
to recall now that the plaque outside the room proclaimed it the "A. Edward Newton
A very odd feeling. I have been in Louisa May Alcott's
house, have stood where Ben Franklin's house was, have stood in a hall a few feet
from where Jefferson wrote the Declaration and in another passage a fw feet from
where Walter Raleigh languished in durance not so vile, but in all those cases I
knew where I was and who had been there. It is oddly disorienting (or maybe oddly
orienting?) to find out later where you have been before.
Do not repeat NOT go to Claim Jumpers for lunch with a big group of people if you
need to get back to work on time.
It was a going-away luncheon for
someone I like and respect, so I'm glad I went. Also, they observed the Rule of
Good Customer Service: "If you can't prevent a screwup, at least apologize and see
what you can do to fix it." About four of us had our meals served much later than
everyone else, but they gave us free desserts (and, given the size of portions
there, kindly wrapped them for us to take home). So I will go again, just not when
I'm in a hurry.
How sad is it that my life's theme could be a song by Avril
'Cause I'm just a little girl you
But there's a hell of a lot more to me
Don't ever underestimate what I
Don't ever tell me how I'm meant to
Not one but two people told me yesterday, in two
totally differnet contexts, "Wow, I didn't think you could do that." I didn't mind
it so much from my boss because she was talking about several of us meeting a goal
she'd set which we all knew would be a stretch, and because it was a challenge -
for meeting that goal, which puts us well on the way to our overall big goal for
the year, we get half a day off for a group activity.
It bothered me
a lot more when Yosemite Sam said it, talking about my erg piece. He meant to be
complimentary, of course, but somehow -- maybe because my personal best was still
slower than any of the other (much bigger) women there -- it came out sounding
more like, "Wow, I thought you sucked way worse than that." You'd think a guy
barely taller than I am would know better than to underestimate anyone. Sigh. Suck
it up, Dichroic, take it as the compliment intended. Sigh.
depressing: DrunkTina, whose time was only slightly slower than that of the big
girls, pointing out accurately that she's closer to my size than that of the three
fastest women rowers. (I probably shouldn't have given her that dirty look for
saying she was closer to my size, because though she is in fact considerably
heavier than I am, she actually is much lighter and shorter than some of the
others.) This was on the heels of Rudder pointing out last night that if she can
pull a 21 and a half minute piece, and she's two inches taller and only some of
the extra weight is muscle, I probably ought to be able to pull something in the
22s, instead of just under 24 minutes. Sigh again. Maybe another year. Or in
I got meds from the ND yesterday and was dismayed to realize he'd sent three
different things and recommended two more. One thing he'd sent was melatonin, and
another is basically ginseng, gingko biloba, and a couple other plant extracts.
I'm OK with taking those; I know herbal medicines are still real meds but those
are very common and I haven't heard of problems with them. One of the meds he told
me to order is a multivitamin that's supposed to be easier to absorb than the
generic Centrum clone I've been taking for years, and I'm OK with that
The other two I'm not so comfortable with. One I'd have to order
is for my IBS. Heavy exercise and not drinking caffeinated coffee have made such a
difference for me in that area that I just don't feel a need to take anything for
it - at best, curing it might allow me to eat Quarter Pounders or ice cream
without getting stomach cramps or burbles from them, and the ND says to avoid red
meat ad dairy anyhow. The other one's active ingredient is something like freeze-
dried adrenal cortex, which just sounds awful -- like something you'd harvest from
a cadaver. It came with stern warnings about how you have to gradually wean off it
or risk adrenal collapse and extreme fatigue. Yuck. If I wanted to take addictive
drugs I'd have done it in college and I'd have chosen something a lot more
Speaking of -- well, not alternative medicine, but Tarot reading
has to rank as at least some level of alternative lifesyle -- I've been
reading Squirrelx lately. Her life
is so different from mine in almost all ways, and her values are so different in
some spots but so like mine in more ways, that she's absolutely fascinating. Don't
know if this is her real self of a manufactured persona, but it's sort of
irrelevant; the person behind the entries is a lot of heart, a good bit of earthy
and not-so-earthy wisdom, and unerring taste in quotations.
Definitely better than last time. My goal in today's erg piece was to break 24
minutes, and ................
My previous best was something like 24:06, and that was a couple of
years ago when I was rowing with Coach DI. (Who, incidentally, is rumored to have
been asked to leave his current gig coaching the juniors club he founded. I keep
reminding myself that I don't have all the facts and anyway, schadenfreude is an
ugly thing.) At any rate, I've only done a piece at that distance once or twice
time I did this piece, three weeks ago, I pulled a 24:59, more than a minute
faster. This time, YSam asked me not to row with the women, who were going first,
because there were just enough ergs and he wanted them all to row together. I made
it plain that if I couldn't erg with the team I was going to go row my single and
was able to erg in the second shift, with the guys, who of course all finished 4-5
minutes ahead of me. As an 80-year-old man once said about competing in the href="http://www.crash-b.org/">CRASH-B, "It hurts me just as much, but for a
lot longer." I did also finish with a slower time than all the other women but
they are all either taller and heavier -- in fact they are all either much taller
or much heavier or both, so that's OK.
I blame the slower time last
time on starting in a bad mood, on being pissed off the whole time, and on not
having brought the proper shoes, but here's also credit to assign for the better
time this time. If DrunkTina hadn't told me this erg test was scheduled, I
wouldn't have known to bring sneakers, and I'd have done a heavy weight workout
yesterday. And another of the women, a grad student who's new to the area and to
the rowing program (and is one of the better rowers there) coxed me through the
piece and helped enormously. Amazingly, she didn't even piss me off telling me to
ignore the pain and bring my splits down and such. Much. At least she stuck to
"You can do this," which I don't mind, as opposed to "Only 2000 left - this is
easy," which always makes me want to extend one expressive finger from the grip.
(That moderate response is only because by then I'm too tired to rip anyone's head
Stats from Concept II's
Lightweight women, age 30-39: 8 of 16, 50%
all ages: 36 of 78, 46% (finally in the top half!)
Women, all weights, all
ages: 191 of 312, 61%
Lower percentages are better, so the fastest person
would be 1%
And if anyone's wondering, yes, there were dry heaves