March 31, 2004

people of the books

I don't think my stats trackers are working right -- at least I can't imagine any
other reason why I would look at one page here right after posting at about 11:30
and have the day's only tracker appearance from my company's site show up as
someone looking through 8 pages at 2 PM. On the other hand, if someone else from
there really is reading this, it's not that I mind (you will note the many
complimentary references to the company, after all) but I would still appreciate a


Jews refer to themselves
as "am hamsefer", or "People of the Book". Actually, assuming that was transcribed
right (it was in Nicholas Basbanes' A Gentle Madness and he was quoting
Aaron Lansk, progenitor of the National Yiddish Book Center) a more exact
translation would be "People from the Book". I've been told that Muslims use a
similar term, "Peoples of the Book", to refer to the three religions which have
grown from the Torah: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. In the case of Jews,
though, we have always been a bookish, word-driven people and by extension the
term has come to mean more than solely the Torah. (I was going to write "just the
Torah" in the previous sentence and couldn't bring myself to do it.) I think I
need to co-opt the term and refer to the "amim hamseferot", "peoples of the
books", for all those who finding reading or discussing books among life's finest

Posted by dichroic at 07:27 PM | Comments (0)

various kinds of holiday

The decision to skip the gym this morning was more or less unanimous, which is a
bit pathetic since neither of us went at all last week. I've concluded I'm less
stressed and I row faster when I get Tuesday and Thursday off, but I suppose the
latter is only a temporary effect. All that weightlifting is supposed to build
strength, after all, which is why I do it.

This is clearly shaping up
as one of those weeks -- busy, I mean, not necessarily bad. It's been
productive so far, though, and I just keep looking forward to next week when I
will telecomute Monday, be in class all Tuesday, and have a holiday (for Good
Friday) to finish out the week. I never quite understand why a public company
gives us a religious holiday off, but at least it's better than my brother's case
where his employer, the US government, in contradiction of their own laws is
refusing to give anyone time off until mid-April despite the occurrance of Easter
and Passover in that period. He even had to bring in a letter from his rabbi,
which amused me though it ultimately proved ineffective. I don't plan to take
Passover off myself, but I'm pleased that, had I been more religious, my company's
own principles for force it to behave better.

Instead, since I have
the day off, there will probably be matzo ball soup materializing in my kitchen on
Good Friday. Typically we invite someone over for the holidays, but I'm not sure
what we'll do this year because of that other holiday. I don't imagine anyone
celebrating (in the religious sense, not the 'have a party' sense) Good Friday
wants to spend it at my excuse for a Seder ..... though then again, it occurs to
me that maybe that's exactly what they want to do. There is, after all, a

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

March 30, 2004

who are you?

Would the person from H0neywell who has been reading this diary in large chunks
would kindly leave a note in the guestbook? Thank you.

Posted by dichroic at 06:07 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2004

almost calming

I got Rudder back from Taiwan on Saturday, all in one piece and everything. Aside
from the fact that I was a bit worried after that assassination attempt the week
before, having him in the house is a good thing, for safety reasons. On Thursday
night, I noticed that the oven was on. Only problem was I hadn't used it since
Tuesday. I am not particularly looking forward to this electric

Yes, it was the relaxing weekend I wanted.....let me see. I
slept in a little, finished filling the pool, pulled out the army of weeds taking
over the back yard, raked weeds and leaves into three large piles, picked Rudder
up from the airport, got yelled at by a security guard for being on the wrong side
of a sign, transferred leaf piles to bags with Rudder's help once he got home,
went out for Tex-Mex food, embroidered, worked on an essay, chopped back and dug
up one large and one enormous hibiscus and a scraggly overgrown but dying jasmine,
put in a solar light, wrote letters, helped Rudder move an 800 pound 12 foot tall
(or maybe it just felt that way) stainless steel cabinet Rudder got from work that
he persists in thinking will be useful some day and *ahem* made sure Rudder felt
thoroughly welcomed home.

Does anybody ever get really calm weekends
anymore? That's the closest I get, and it was nice, but more time would help a
lot. I think it's time we all go on strike for three-day weekends. This 5-and-2
standard schedule isn't cutting it for me.

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

March 26, 2004

Whatever it was, it felt awfully good.

I'm so mad I could spit over the Unborn Victims of Violence act Congress
has passed. It's not even the fetus-rights part that bothers me, except in so far
as how stupid do anti-abortion types think people are? This isn't meant as a First
Step toward yet another privacy invasion? Yeah, right. It's probably a good thing
fetuses don't have library records or they'd be looking at those too. Other than
that, though, that part's not the focus of my ire; I really have nothing against
massive punishments for the low-life who hurts a pregnant woman badly enough to
cause a miscarriage.

What has me spitting mad is the implication that
violence toward a pregnant woman -- toward any woman, in fact toward any one at
all -- is not a serious enough event on its own, so that we need a special law
because it's the effect on the fetus that really matters in all this. Nonpregnant
women? Yeah, go ahead and beat on them. They're not breeding so who cares? I would
have been much happier if they had passed the version that simply made attacking a
pregnant woman a greater crime; it is fairly heinous to attack someone who is most
vulnerable, in addition to the risk of ending another incipient life. Even better
might be if violent federal crimes against anyone, woman or man, were simply
treated seriously enough in the first place to make additional charges

On a happier note, this morning was the
best row I've had in I don't know how long. It was cooler last night, so I slept
better, which probably didn't hurt. It was cool enough this morning to need light
fleece while getting ready to row, warm enough to take the fleece off as I stepped
into the boat. For the first time in a week, the water was calm. She-Hulk must be
missing Rudder because she decided to stay with me. I'm not sure why because she's
considerably faster but it worked out well as we took turns critiquing each
other's racing starts. She hasn't done a ton of them and they can be a little
unstable and scary, so I think she felt more secure with someone watching. She was
able to give me some feedback that really helped me smooth things out, which
translated nicely into speed through the water. Even outside the starts during
regular rowing, for some reason I was much faster today than I have been. I don't
know whether it was because I slept better, because I skipped weights yesterday,
because of the extra walking I've been doing at lunch, because of the flat water,
or a combination of everything. Whatever it was, it felt awfully good.

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

March 25, 2004

I swam!

I know I complain about the heat here a lot, but sometimes, I admit (grudgingly)
it has its advantages. I just went swimming, outside in my own backyard.
And the odds are good you didn't.

They finished doing the new pool
surface yesterday, in a nice white pebbly finish (P*bblet*c, but under a different
brand name) and began filling it today. That means the water now in there went
through today's 89F high and hasn't sat through a cool night yet, and the deepest
part (where it will be 8' when all the water is in) is just up to my belly button.
Translation: nice warm water, still-warm air. And there were leaves already
in the water -- so clearly Something Had to be Done.

Of course, I
hadn't planned this in advance. I had changed into a light short dress though. I
held the dress up to my hips (our yard is quite private) but couldn't reach all of
the leaves. So what is a girl to do? Clearly there was no choice but to shuck off
the clothes and wade all the way in. (The watch is waterproof for just such
occasions.) Naturally, once in, I had to submerge test everything out, and swim a
few strokes. There's no chlorine in it yet, so that was especially

I can now report that the "new" pool works just perfectly.

Posted by dichroic at 06:52 PM | Comments (0)


It's my day for an intolerant rant, I'm afraid. Be warned. Subject:

While I'm not thrilled about higher insurance premiums, I
suspect those show more effect from corporate greed on the part of HMOs and drug
manufacturers anyway. Other than that, I don't much care what people do to their
own lungs -- unless they're people I care about, in which case I'd much rather
they took good care of themselves. Where I do mind is where other people's smoke
impinges on me.

I don't know if most smokers realize just how bad
they stink.

When I work with a smoker, or, worse, get trapped in an
elevator with one, I can instantly tell whether they smoke only at home (no odor
or almost none), smoke at work (some odor - not too bad) or have just come back in
from a smoke break (pfaugh!). (This is assuming they wash self and clothing
frequently, but that's another issue entirely and in that case the smoke smell
wasn't the revolting part.)

Back in my early days in an office,
smoking was just beginning to be restricted. For a while there, it was allowed in
private offices, just not in cubicle farms. (I don't know whether the strategy was
just to kill off the old guys and managers faster and preserve the workers, or
what.) I was assigned to a mentor, a senior engineer who had his own office, and I
spent a lot of time in there. It didn't take me long to quit wearing anything to
work that wasn't machine washable, because my clothes stunk by the end of the day.
Grosser yet, I had long hair at the time and could smell cigarette smoke in it
well after I left work.

My dad still smokes, though I think less than
he used to. I've won an argument on the subject exactly once, on my wedding day.
I'd stayed at their house the night before, instead of at the hotel across town
where Rudder was and where the wedding would be, mostly just to please my parents.
I told Dad flat out that if he was planning to smoke in the car on the way there,
then I would be riding with a neighbor, because I was not going to have my
wedding dress or hair smelling of smoke.

Worse, it doesn't just float
in the air, it clings to walls, furniture, and anything a smooker touches. My
parents have to paint periodically just because Dad smokes in the house. I'm
ranting now because yesterday, I had an IT guy from our Help-less Desk come in to
fix something minor on my computer. When he was done, I touched my mouse and had
my fingers come away smelling of smoke. Ewwww!

It's not a good smoke
smell, either, like the smell of a bonfire. It's a used smoke smell, more like
smog, except in the case of (tobacco) pipe smoke, which can be pleasant in small
doses. As I've said, I don't want to restrict other people's rights to enjoy
themselves, I just want to keep it off me. There's more and more pressure to
legislate that all bars and restaurants be smoke-free -- I think there's now a
bill at the state level here. My suggestio is that you don't ban smoking, you just
make it an economic decision. Require restaurants to be all smoking or all non-
smoking, clearly labeled outside. Restaurant owners would figure out quickly which
way attracted more business (I suspect there would be no one universal answer) and
nonsmokers would know where to go if they wanted to avoid fumes. Anyone wanting to
have both would be requireed to have separate rooms with separate ventilation
systems -- none of this crap where the two areas are separated by 3 feet and a
small partition that smoke floats over. I suspect setups like that are one of the
things driving the smoking ban in the first place. Let people choose what they
want and avoid what they don't and individual liberties will be

And keep that smelly film off my mouse and keyboard,

Addendum: As Natalie correctly points out,
and as I actually meant to say but forgot, the above applies to any reek that
clings to walls, furniture and other people. I have encountered cologne that's
almost as bad as smoke close up, though at least usually it only leaves a faint

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

March 24, 2004

need to slow down

I wish I hadn't done that shopping binge on Sunday. It's not that I don't like the
stuff I bought -- I can even justify (most of) it. (And did I mention href="">that skirt was on sale for
under $20? That's especially gratifying because I remember trying it on and
liking it last summer at full price, almost enough to buy it then. Score one for
me. But I digress.) It's just that I did too much of it, and it left me tired
going into the week. I did it partly because I feel cheated if I don't get some
fun into my weekend, and partly because Rudder was gone, but those aren't really
sufficient reasons, at least not for spending a whole day in the mall.

This is one way in which marriage has been bad for me, I think. I'm
used to having Rudder around. I do get a little antsy if I spend a whole day
without at least getting out of the house, but if I can satisfy that wish, we can
spend a day doing minor errands or nothing much and I count it as time together.
I've never been particularly afraid of my own company, but somehow it feels as if
to be having fun on my own I have to crank it up a notch. I'm feeling unrecharged
now just because on Sunday when I had the time I didn't spend more time reading,
creating, making music, or otherwise vegetating.

It's not really
entirely accurate to say I can spend a lot of time alone, though. I don't really
spend very much time without other people around; the only difference is that
sometimes they're made of flesh and they live in houses and sometimes they're made
of ideas and they live in books and sometimes they're made of electrons and they
live on computers :-)

I do enjoy the occasional hiking or shopping
solo, though those are fun with company in a different way.

My other
problem is that I've added that What i'm Reading field above and it's getting
downright embarassing having the same thing listed there day after. It's
not that anyone else cares, I know, just that I'm used to thinking of myself as a
book-a-day girl (or more) unless it's something unusually dense. Time is the
problem; last night I got home at 6:30, had to be in bed by 8 because of rowing
this morning, and had to sort mail, make dinner, eat, wash up, check emails, pack
clothes for today, take out the recyclables, pet the cats, pack clothing for
today, wash, brush, floss .... I should note that this is not made up for with
extra time in the morning; I get up, throw on workout gear, and go. You can see
why my reading time is less than I'd like, and why relaxation on weekends is so

This weekend I go collect Rudder, but before that I'm
going to find something quiet and rejuvenating to do. I may even write a letter or
two on real paper to someone who would appreciate it.

(Caveat: Of
course, this in no way means I'm planning to cancel my plans for a massage and
some solo sushi tonight!)

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

March 23, 2004

my brief modelling stint

I almost hate to put up a new entry and cover up my href="">response to LA from last night.
It's very clear that I do *not* have a modeling background; naither am I naturally
photogenic. Rudder's brother, for example, almost never photographs badly (though
shaving his head didn't help). I on the other hand usually come out either with my
eyes looking like I'm on drugs or slouched so my gut sticks out. Or both. It took
me a kazillion shots to get a few I liked and it didn't help that since I was
using the flash I had to keep stopping to recharge the camera batteries at least
enough for the next few shots. Even with all that I didn't get it quite right; you
can see that my chest isn't sticking out perkily and my arms are tight against my
sides so they look squishy instead of buff. (Or maybe they just are....)

I've concluded that modeling is not for me, not that I didn't figure
that out for height-related reasons long ago. It has to be a little easier when
there's a photographer coaxing you through it, saying "Stand up straight....lower
your hands...purse your lips...straighten your back....that's it! instead of a
digicam on a tripod with a time delay setting. (Even if Rudder were around, he's
not great at peopple shots.) I would have done a few more shots, but it was
getting close to bedtime and I decided I was tired of it. (Because even a
temporary model gets to play prima-donna, right?)

Given the name of
this site, I've been playing the same few notes over and over for too long. So
please note the above entry contains nothing at all about rowing or books! (Except
for the appropriate background .... and if you could see the fine detail you'd
note the rowing books live on the top shelf of that particular bookcase.)

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

March 22, 2004


LA: Yes. Me. Pink.


Posted by dichroic at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)

babbling in pink

I am Rudderless. As in floating and adrift, and also as in the boy's off on the
other side of the world. Often I sleep better when he's not there (but I wake
happier when he is) just because I'm a light sleeper and it's one less set of
noises and movements, but not last night. I couldn't get to sleep for a long time.
That was probably because it was annoyingly warm yesterday, so that open windows
in all the upstairs rooms and the three strategically placed fans didn't cut it.
In other words, it's been a short night and a long day, and I may not be entirely
coherent by now.

Once I did get to sleep I slept solidly, but
nonetheless was a good girl and got up early to row. It was annoyingly warm there
too, despite enough wind to make rowing a single interesting; I had to take off my
light fleece top before I even got in the boat.

I just want to shout
at the weather, "It's MARCH, hothead! What happened to blustery winds, chilly
weather and spring rain? I want my spring back!!"

At least I'm
dressed for spring, in an outfit that looks like a tribute to Legally
only without the blonde. Or the matching dog, for that matter. Lots of
pink and even high heels (not pink).

Must go. Too much work. More
later, maybe.

Posted by dichroic at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2004


Grumble grumble grumble Rudder off to Taiwan grumble. And I don't have any
especially fun plans for the weekend grumble. Today I got to go food-shoppping all
alone more grumbles. (Though that did mean I treated myself to outrageously un-
nutritious chocolate covered doughtnut-hole thingies and good soft cheese
and bagel chips to spread it on.

The mandolin is now restrung and
tuned (at least until it untunes itself and "Wildwood Flower" has been duly picked
out on it. I really don't understand when one (that is, an actual skilled
mandolin-playing one) would normally play chords versus single notes on this
thing. Guitar church licks don't really seem to work. I think maybe I'll stick to
single notes for a bit and attempt to master this flatpicking thing, since I
mostly learned to fingerpick on guitar. Also, the mandolin's steel strings are
much harder on my fretting fingers than the guitar's since I play a classical one
which uses nylon strings.

On the way back from buying springs I
stopped for the annual beginning of sandal season pedicure; my feet needed it
before being seen in public. It's been amusing reading about signs of spring on
my various discussion groups; everyone else is talking about daffodils or crocuses
or robins or late snowfalls and we're already into summer here. I think it's
supposed to hit 96 degrees tomorrow. Personally I'd prefer

I may just go hang out at the mall tomorrow and look for
floaty summer skirts, black sandals to replace my old ones, or combat-the-over-
air-conditioning jackets. Having paid off a credit card bill yesterday that
necessitated borrowing from savings (because it included the computer I'm typing
this on and came at the same time as insurance for both vehicles) I really
shouldn't. but I can't think of anything else fun to do and I've already done the
cross-stitching and mandolin-picking homebody stuff today. I should tackle some
writing stuff, too, and if I were a really really good girl I'd erg a half-
marathon or at least 10K, but we all know the answer to that, don't

There definitely wll be sleeping in but it won't feature a kind
husband bringing me up tea in bed. More to the point, I'm not verry thrilled about
him being in a country where there's a possibility of riots in response to the
recent assassination attempt and election. Grumble grumble grumble. Off to bed.
Alone. Pooh.

Posted by dichroic at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2004

stone soup vs caramel flan

Meetings, meetings everywhere and not a time to think.

I have a first
line for a song, or maybe it's from the chorus, floating in my head. So far I can
tell the song borrows from John Muir and Job, and I'm trying to keep anything else
out of it because I think I have a tendency to try to turn poems into fruitcakes,
and they're probably better as caramel flans. (That is, consistent all the way
through and soaked in a single strong flavor.) At least, that applies to the
length of thing I usually write. I suspect a good epic poem could be like stone
soup, with one central metaphor and then a bit of everything thrown in. At the
sonnet length, though, you need to focus. At any rate, it's a good line, but now
it needs more lines around it, not to mention a tune.

As of this
morning, I have covered over 43 km in a boat, on foot, or on a rowing machine,
this week, which is a record for me for this year, and pretty darn good for any
year, even when I was rowing in the bigger boats.

I think I may
change the song in my head line above, because I've always had the problem that
it's not authentic. When I'm writing this, often I've just finished concentrating
on something else and there is no song floating there, or else the entry itself
makes me think of another song. Or worst of all the field title on the entry form,
which is "songin my head" (sic) makes the old Styx song "Too Much Time on My
Hands" get stuck in my brain, and I'm getting very sick of that. Especially since
that is *not* a problem I have. I may change it to "Relevant Song", like href="">LA has, because that fits more
circumstances, and I may add a line for what I'm reading. (If I can fit the usual
list on one line.)

One of the things I'm reading is Tristram
. I'm not terribly surprised that I like it, becaues I always thought I
would, but I find it funny how many warnings exist about how strange and difficult
it is. Clifton Fadiman, in his wonderful New Lifetime Reading Plan
obviously likes all sorts of tradnitionally difficult books, but he finds it
necessary to comment on Tristram very gingerly. I recall one line on the
order of "You may simply not be one of the people who can read Tristram
with pleasure," and goes on to explain why some people (and here I feel
he means some *other people*) think it's wonderful. I do like it, which may just
prove my mind works more like Laurence Sterne's than like James Joyce's, to whom
he is frequently compared. When I read Portrait of the Artist as a Young
in high school, I could tell it was good stuff; I just didn't like it. (As
opposed, say, to Hemingway, who I just didn't like.) My age may be a factor,
though, and I probably should try Ulysses if for no other reason than that
I love the exuberance of "and yes I said yes I will Yes". I'm pretty sure I'll
still find Leopold Bloom harder going than good old Uncle Toby, though.

By the way, if you haven't already, tune in href="">yesterday for the house

Posted by dichroic at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2004

"Stomp!", the home version

I thnk I've found the downside to working at home. That pasta dish I made for lunch, consisting of shrimp, mushrooms, asparagus, garlic and basil-herb fettucini stir-fried in olive oil, while incomparably better than cafeteria food, would have been better still with the addition of a bottle of white. Somehow, though, I misdoubt me that would have been conducive to the "work" part of working at home. Sigh.

It turned out to be a good thing that I was planning on staying here today, though. Rudder took a day off yesterday to research a possible alternative to rowing on our wake-ridden lake. After that, he'd scheduled someone to come out and see why one of the heat-pumps that both heat and air-condition us didn't seem to be working properly. It turned out that the unit had rusted-out coils and was otherwise defunct. (Good thing we found out now, while the nights are still cool and it only reaches 90-plus degrees for a small part of the day.) So today, we are getting a whole new unit. We are *not* looking forward to paying for this, since we'd just gotten a new roof put on a few months ago and our pool-
deck resurfacing is now in progress thanks to the leak we found when we came home from Antarctica. We'd really hoped to put both the pool and the heat pump off 'til next year, but neither would cooperate.

I had also forgotten, when I planned to stay home today, that this is the day for our cleaning service's day
biweekly visit. My telecon this afternoon may be accompanied by the rhythms of vacuum cleaner and burly men stomping on the roof.

Since I am at home today, I've decided to give y'all the 50-cent tour. So c'mon

You've walked in the front door and you're still standing in the foyer. Here's your view of my newly semi-furnished intended-as-the-formal-living-room library:

Here are close-ups of three of the photo collections in the room, respectively pictures we took in Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica:

More bookshelves and a comfy chair and footstool are on order and should all be here within the next month. You can see a bit of the formal dining room from the library, so lets walk further into it:


We actually do use it as intended, but just at the moment the table is holding some of the small pictures we took down to make room for the big collections above, as well as some picture-hanging tools. With only two of us, there's plenty of room at the other end of the table anyway. From the dining room you step into the kitchen:

where you look through into the family room. Step further into the family room where you can see more bookshelves and the happy yellow wall that connects to the yellow hall and laundry room (Rudder decided we needed to paint the laundry room and
there was no good place to stop):

You can clearly see why I will never have a stark Modernist decor: too clutter-prone, and fond of my comfort.

Outside through the French doors is the backyard. What you're looking at is newly-refinished deck and a new wall and grill/seating area, and a big hole in the ground that was the pool. It will be again after they
resurface it next week. They'll also be painting the wall, painting and topping off the grill area and the firepit bench you can't see, and putting in a grill. They're not doing anything to the basketball court, but I should put up a new net
one of these days.

The yellow hall leads from the family room to the garage, but before it gets there, there's the office on one side (where I worked today):

and the bathroom Rudder redid from the studs on out on the other side. In this photo you can see some of the tile-work he did, the
pedestal sink he put in, the wall I painted, and the stained-glass mirror his mother made:

Besides all that, there are four bedrooms upstairs: the one we sleep in, the old library/erg room, the spare bedroom (with an actual comfy bed
where some of my relatives ought to come stay some time, hint, hint) and the work/storage room. I have no idea why the previous owners decided to tile one room while the rest of the upstairs is carpeted, but it's handy for the

There are two cats, too, but they're both black and hard to photograph well. Tune in tomorrow for: The Outside of the House: watching the cactus grow.

(No, not really. It takes a saguro seventy-five years just to put out its first arm.) And I'll be back in the office then

Posted by dichroic at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2004

dancing and (not) dying

What is it about dancing that makes it go with dying?

I was listening
to the B-52s yesterday, and got to the part in Rock Lobster where the lead singer
says something about "going down ... down ... down" and thought that if I were
dancing instead of driving at the time, I and everyone else on the dance floor
would be sinking downward, slowly, as if we were dying. (Or caught in a slow-
motion gravity surge, as if Jupiter were approaching slowly on the other side of
the Earth. But given the physics involved, dying seems more likely.) The next
realization was that there are a lot of fake deaths in dancing: ones that are a
response to words or volume in rock songs ("Shout" is another example), ones that
are part of a routine in competitive ice-skating, where for a while every pair had
a choeographed "death" at the end of their routines, ones that tell a story in
ballet or interpretive dance.

Why is that? Is it that dancing
symbolizes life and getting to triumph over death if only for the duration of the
dance? If so that's a mixed metaphor, because in the frock songs dancers generally
do come back to jubilant life, but in ballet and ice skating they usually stay
down until the piece is over. Then there's Ring Around A Rosy. There the symbolism
is explicit and has been discussed to death (er, sorry) but I've never seen an
explanation of why it would be something little kids would want to play, or that
adults would want them to play.

There are also any number of songs
about old couples (I can think of at least three offhand) and stories (another
one) where an especially lasting love is portrayed by showing how the now-elderly
lovers still love to dance together. In that case, I think, dance is both love and
life in comparison to age and approaching death.

And there are even
some examples of the opposite, where dance happens after death, though I'm not
sure whether they prove the point, disprove it, or are another animal entirely.
I'm thinking of things like old woodcuts where Death is shown dancing during
plague times or wars, and maybe of the Danse Macabre.

I had just
closed this essay when the lyrics of "Safety Dance" came to mind and reminded me
(via Emma Bull) of another related case -- the faery rings where the dancers will
never die, and where any mortal who joins them will not age.

I don't know whether the link between the two things means anything or not, but
they seem too closely linked not to. Life and death? The benefits of exercise? A
fossil of an old belief (that I've never come across otherwise) that no ones dies
while dancing? I still think there's at least a story in there - and I don't write
fiction so it's free for the taking.

The above train of
thought, you may realize, is a direct result of the gift of a href="">mandolin. Rudder thinks
it's the best as well as most creative gift MBtW has ever given (we'll see what he
thinks after he hears me trying to play it!) which may be true, but I still say
there's a surreal element in it. (It's more a comment on me than on either male
that I consider "surreal" and "good gift" not to be mutually exclusive. Though the
same applies to at least one of them.) Speaking of little deaths. I broke a string
on the mandolin while trying to tune it. That was when I realized that instruments
with paired strings like mandolinae and twelve-string guitars have a major
advantage, in that an instrument with one broken string can still be played with
all notes present and accessible.

Posted by dichroic at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2004

a present of the surreal

Whenever My Brother the Writer gets to the point of actual published-ness, I think
I can promise hypothetical readers that it will not be lacking in creativity. It
might have other flaws, it might be longwinded (will be, if he doesn't have a good
editor), but it will be creative.

(Nota bene: If it's his first-
written book that gets published, it might be necessary to note that it was
written and I read the first draft before Gaiman published American

So....MBtW has had issues with birthday and holiday
presents for the last several years. There was a period where he talked about
buying them but never actually sent any or had a series of mysterious shipping
problems, followed by one where they might arrive six months later. In the last
few years he's been slowly moving up to almost on time. This time around, he
apparently ordered my gift in plenty of time, was then told it would arrive last
Friday or yesterday, then had a delivery date of yesterday confirmed. Yesterday, I
came home to an empty front step. After we went to bed (which we do ridiculously
early due to the workout schedule) but while I was still awake, the doorbell rang.
I went to get it, both in hopes the boy had come through after all and because if
it was a package I didn't want to leave it out all night and there it

A big package, about four feet tall.

He had
warned me it "might seem a little weird, but he thought if I could find the time I
would enjoy it". MBtW is the sort who, when he says something might seem weird,
ought to be taken seriously, so I was prepared.

Did you know that
they sell "Learn to Play the Mandolin" kits??? Me neither. There's nothing like
ending your day on a completely surreal note.

In his defense, I
should point out that I already own a classical guitar, a baby Martin (tiny
traveling classical guitar), two penny whistles, a harmonica, and a bodhran. I'm
not much good on any of them. I can just about pick out a tune on the whistles,
can play a not-terrible accompaniment on the harmonica (as long as it's in the
right key, so can an untrained monkey), and can read tablature and play
recognizable tunes on the guitar -- though I can't play anything new beyond the
fakebook level unless it's written out in tab. I can't play the bodhran because
whenever I try it scares the cats. So figuring that I'd like picking up a new
instrument isn't an entirely outlandish thought.

I really don't have
the time for it, but it's not like mandolins spoil; if I don't play it this year
there's always next year. Anyway, it's a pretty thing. Maybe I'll get a stand for
it stand it and the guitar up in my library. Actually playing them is probably
more likely if they're out and convenient.

On the way to work this
morning I put in a B-52s CD. When you have that high level of surrealness going
you can't just quit cold turkey, you have to taper off.

Come to
think of it, maybe I should have dug out some bluegrass instead. And it is
appropriate that I was just reading a Manly Wade Wellman collection -- my guitar
is strung with silver and most of John's old-timey songs will work on mandolin
also. I wonder if they sell silver strings for it?

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

March 15, 2004

some words, some games, and some shoes

Go read href="">Ionas today.
His last three paragraphs (from "I can understand..." on) rang true for me, and
rang again with the beauty of the words he used.

There is a Google
game which involves finding a two-word-search for which your site is the only one
returned. I tried that a while back for various combinations of words dealing with
dichroic glass, reading, and rowing, but couldn't find a good one, though there
were more than a few for which this was one of two or three sites returned. I was
very surprised to find, looking at my Google hits, that this was the only site
returned for a short
from Susan Cooper's The Grey King. (I confess, I'm linking
instead of quoting to preserve that singleton status.) I used that quote to
respond to an href="">Ampersand
prompt two days after September 11, 2001; in a painful bit of irony, the prompt
was, "the end of the world". It's shocking that no one else on the whole web has
ever (according to Google) written about that one line of Cooper's. There's just
so much to say about it, both in and out of context.

Speaking of that
game with the Google search terms, a more interesting version is to come up with
some combination of activities or experiences that you are the only person on
Earth ever to have done. A single unique experience is easy to find: for instance
I am the only person who has ever been married to Rudder, been a duaghter to my
parents, been a sister (in the non-metaphorical sense) to my brother. I am the
only person who has ever rowed in my boat, unless they rigged it and found a
lightweight person to test it before shipping, which I doubt. I am the only female
ever to have slept on my bed, which we bought it new. But if you limit the
experiences to generic ones that other people could have had, the gam becomes more
interesting. As I mentioned href="">yesterday, we seem to hear the
phrase, "You're one of very few people ever to have seen this," with surprising
frequency. So: are Rudder and I the only people ever to have both slept on the
Antarctic continent andlooked up from the bottom of a seven story missile
silo? The only ones ever to have done either of those things and competed in the
Head of the Charles? To have done any of those three and toured the DMZ between
North and South Korea? Or been in one of the apprentice shelters the students at
Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin school of architecture build?

The only
thing wrong with this game is there's no way to know if you've

On a completely different footing (sorry), OK, OK, I'm a shoe
whore. But they were cute! And on sale!

src="" width="400"

Posted by dichroic at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2004

one of the few

Last night I stood at the bottom of a missile silo out in the desert seomwhere
south of Tucson. I tilted my head back and stared seven stories up at the bulk of
a Titan missile noe defanged but still threatening the sky.

retired Air Force guys who were guiding us around the silo kept saying, "You're
one of very few people ever to have seen this." Seems like people have been saying
that a lot to us lately.

Posted by dichroic at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2004

brown is the color

Brown is the color of my city's air

Her highways are beyond compare

The SUVs and the mini-vans

Have fouled the earth on which she stands....<

One problem with driving to work circling around the city is that you get such a
nice view of the brown cloud that sometimes hangs over it. I saw a noticeable one
the other day, but last night we got a tasty little thunderstorm which cleared the
air out nicely. I love the smell of ozone and wet desert -with luck we'll get more

The good thing about driving on a highway circling outside town is the views of
mountains and desert. Yesterday I was depressed to notice that one area I pass is
about to be built on. The consolation is that it's not virgin desert; instead of
saguaros and mesquite trees, it's covered with lage more-or-less evenly spaced
bare bushes. (Creosote?) I think that means it's been grazed or farmed. It's had
something done to it, anyway, because that's just not the shape of untouched land
here. Still, I'd rather see mountains over second growth than catch a tiny glumpse
of them between big-box stores.

There are a lot of things I like about Phoenix. That's one reason I want to leave
it. This is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and there are already
way too many people for the land (water and air) to support. There are plenty of
people who come here and oppose "sprawl" and growth, which is much like saying, "I
moved in but no one else should." I don't want to be one of them. If I want this
town to prosper, the best I can do for it is leave.

Posted by dichroic at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2004

natal anniversary report

So, the birthday rundown. Work was just ... work. But I did get a chance to give
our manager pro tem some grief when he happened to comment that "We're all getting
older"-- well yes, but some of us are ageing as we speak! (Everyone else at the
meeting knew what day it was because we sent a card as a group to a former
coworker who, they all know, was born on the same day I was -- but he wasn't
around for all of that. Which, of course, isn't a reason not to give him shit,
because he's the kind of guy you can do that to. We'll miss him when we get our
"real" manager.) There are several others here with birthdays in the next few
weeks, so we're going out to lunch as a group tomorrow to celebrate. I do like my

After work I got home to find that my in-laws, Amazon,
and CD Baby came through for me, with boxes arriving in the mail. (Actually, the
Amazon and CD Baby boxes were things I'd ordered for myself but it still please me
that they happened to arrive on that day. As an incorrigible materialist I love
getting "presents" even when they're from myself.) The in-laws gave me a traveling
jewelry case, something I had asked for a couple of years ago and still needed.
GOod memory, since Rudder says he hadn't mentioned it to them. What I really need
is a tiny one for the gym and what they sent is a gorgeous biggish red leather
case, but this will be great for taking when we travel, better protection than the
soft case I've been using. I think I'll demote the bigger of my soft cases to gym
use and throw out the small one, which is in tatters. Or just buy a new small one.

We went out to dinner at a nice steakhouse, where we split an even
nicer Merlot, so no gym this morning. And when I got home there was a call from
the in-laws (well-chosen gifts andperfect timing - I have great in-laws) as
well as messages from my brother and Egret. So that was all good. And now I still
have a gift from the Bro (supposedly arriving tomorrow or Monday), new bookcases
from the Rudder-man and things from a few other relatives to look forward to, plus
lunch tomorrow.

I think my trouble with birthdays is that I have good
things happening to me all the time - if I really want something I buy it, and if
I want to go somewhere, I go. It's hard to make a day be totally special when
you're normally spoiled.

PS. It turns out not only is my cat's
birthday the same day as mine, but so is SWooP's cat (he's three years younger
than my Beast). Is that freaky or what?

Enough and more than enough about me, tiime to focus in the other direction. We've
been having an odd blend of spring and summer lately. For the past few weeks we'd
had what passes for winter here, with temperatures getting only a little over 60.
(Shut, up, we pay for it with our summers.) This week it suddenly turned warm.
We've had a few days with bright sunny days and highs into the nineties, and lows
where our highs where our lows were last week, so it feels like summer. But it
smells like spring; there are wildflowes out, thanks to the rains we've had, and
the air hadn't settled into its summer inversion-layer brown cloud, so I've been
smelling blossoms and growth and the desert's own smell. Today is different again;
there are low gray clouds and so it's a little bit cooler out, but I saw a brown
cloud in the direction of downtown as I drove into work this morning. With luck
we'll get some rain to wash it out of the air.

Posted by dichroic at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2004

100 things about me

One of my mailing lists has a tradition where people write 100 things about
themselves on their birthdays. I turn 37 today -- since I'm getting old, I'm being
totally lazy and using the same list as an entry here as

100 things about me

100. I
am delighted at what a welcoming and tolerant place this list has come to be,
proud to be part of it, and very glad that y'all are willing to answer my
questions that sometimes range from outrageous to banal.

99. Yes, I do say

98.I grew up in Philadelphia, where we say yous or yous all or

97. And lived in Houston for 7 years after college.

96. I had
to acquire a bit of a Texas drawl before anyone there could understand me and the
transition from yiz'all to y'all sort of went along with that.

95. In
general I didn't like Houston, but there are things I miss about it: people, lots
of lakes, bars floating on the lakes, shorter commutes, the NASA TV

94. My favorite part of Texas is Big Bend National

93. The best thing about living there was meeting Rudder.

I've lived in Chandler, AZ (outside Phoenix) since December 1995.

92. We
like Arizona better than Texas because there are mountains and because we can
escape the heat in a two hour drive.

91. ....but after 15 years in hot
climates, I'm sick of them and ready to move somewhere with seasons.

Though our main sport right now is rowing, at other times we've done a lot of
rock-climbing and mountain biking.

89. I try to work out five times a week:
rowing MWF, weightlifting TTh. On weekends I rest!

88. I don't always make
it all five days :-)

87. I mostly row in a single (rowing shells can range
up to 8 people) made by Hudson.

86. Both of our singles are painted like the
Arizona flag (Rudder's got a thing for that design).

85. You can see a
picture of us in our singles at
and a close-up of similar boats at
(click on a boat to enlarge
the picture).

84. Right now my life feels like row, work, sleep, row, work,
sleep. With a lot of driving tucked in there.

83. I'm not in as good shape
as you'd think from all this -- but a lot of it is muscle, I swear :-).

I'd like to have a bit more social life -- and a bit more sleep!

81. We wake
up at 4AM on rowing days, 4:30 on non-rowing days.

80. So we try to get to
bed by 8.

79. Which really doesn't match my biorhythms. I hated early
bedtimes when I was little and my parents imposed them on me and I don't like them
much better now.

78. But Rudder and I both find the more we exercise, and
the more demanding work is, the more sleep we need.

77. Work is pretty
demanding right now.

76. I have a forty mile (64 km) commute each

75. But that's the worst thing about my job, which I really like

74. I work on helping people improve software development
processes in an aerospace company.

73. I've been in aerospace for most of my

72. I have a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in Physical
Sciences with a concentration in Space Science.

71. So I hate when people
automatically assume engineers are all male.

But that's pretty much the
*only* form of prejudice against women in engineering I've ever encountered.

70. I like to stay conscious of how much I owe to the people who fought
those battles before I came along.

70. I have worked on either the real
aircraft or the simulator (pilot trainer) for the: F-16, A-10, Space Shuttle,
Space Station, AH-1W, Apache Longbow, C-130, 737, 777.

69. I have a pilot's
license (VFR).

68. Though I haven't really flown much since getting it. (No

67. I have flown the following aircraft: Cessna 152, 172, 182; Piper
Supercub, Great Lakes biplane, Pitts S2B biplane.

66. I got into beading
(making jewelry) a couple of years ago but rarely have time now.

65. I've
been online since before there was a World Wide Web; I think I sent my first email
in around 1984.

64. I first realized the potential of the Web when there was
a big earthquake in the late 1980s (Los Angeles, I think) and people were able to
use bulletin boards on the net to let friends know they were OK.

63. I
joined my first e-mail discussion list somewhere in the early 90's; it was Alan
Rowoth's folk_music mailing list, dedicated to discussing new American singer-
songwriters. The list is still around but I'm not on it any more (so many other
resources grew up around it that discussion on the main list became restricted to
concert reviews, mostly).

62. My favorite music is still folky stuff,
ranging from traditional to modern singer-songwriters; my favorite is a Canadian,
Stan Rogers.

61. I really like singers and groups who mix old and new like
Stan and the band Great Big Sea, also Canadians.

60. Before someone asks,
somehow I've never been a huge fan of the Rankins, though I have a disc or two of

59. I'm Jewish.

58. My husband isn't.

57. It hasn't
really been a problem.

56. I've been in synagogue exactly once in the last
decade, but I don't feel that makes me any less Jewish. It's a lot of things
besides a religion: an extended family, an outlook, a history. And it's part of
who I am.

55. As with gender, the only prejudice I've encountered directly
is people making unconscious assumptions or using language like "jew him down"
(meaning to bargain) or "he's a good Christian boy" (used just to mean an honest
upright person, not to talk about a specific person's specific religion.

I believe some of the duties and privileges of being an adult are that you have to
do the best you can to be good and to do good, but that no one else can choose for
you who to love or how to worship or some of the other most important things in

53. We have two cats.

52. The older one turns 15 today -- I
don't know exactly when he was born, but he was about five weeks old when he came
to me, about five weeks after I moved away to Houston take my first job, and I
moved a day after my 22nd birthday. So we share a birthday.

51. We've been
together since before we met Rudder or the other cat. We understand each

50. If you do the math in #49, you can see that I am 37

49. So I'm now officially in my late thirties.

48. Other
favorites authors (besides LMM) are Dorothy Sayers and Robert Heinlein

I don't consider reading a hobby, any more than breathing.

46. I tend to
alternate between long hair and very short.

45. Right now it's shoulder
length, on the way to longer.

44. I really wish hair could get long as fast
as it can get short.

43. Except for some minor highlights, my hair is its
natural dark brown.

42. I have fair skin and brown eyes to go with

41. I generally think I look better in the mirror than I do in

40. So I hope others see the me from the mirror but I'm afraid they

39. My teeth are yellower than I'd like (natural shade, not stains)
so I'm being frivolous and having them bleached in a couple of weeks. Don't worry,
it still won't be a beauty-pageant-fake smile.

38. I have a navel piercing
and just one hole in each ear. (But no tattoos.)

37. I once had my upper ear
cartilage pierced, but gave up on it and let it close. It didn't work well with
aviation headsets.

36. I enjoy shopping.

35. Like the woman in the
Shopaholic books, I tend to rotate, but in my case it's between buying clothes,
shoes, and books, with an occasional foray into cosmetics. 34. Unlike her, my
credit cards are paid off. (Er, usually.)

34. Books are my worst vice, as
far as lack of self-restraint goes.

33. I estimate we own 1500 or so books.

32. I have too many regular shoes, but almost as many sport-specific ones
(hiking boots, ski boots, flip-flops for rowing, climbing shoes, etc.)

31. I
do sometimes buy things that are mistakes (in that I don't wear them much). I try
to get rid of these, at least eventually.

30. I still wear a size 4 but some
of my older clothes in that size are too tight. I don't understand this, unless
they're changing sizes again.

29. What I lose in paying for less fabric I
make up in getting more shoe leather -- small body, big feet.

28. We've been
to six of the seven continents.

27. The only one missing is

26. But there's still lots and lots we want to see on all the others
as well.

25. I've only been to 27 of the 50 states -- have been to most of
the coastal states but few of the interior or northern boarder ones.

24. I
drive the tinest little silver convertible you've ever seen, the Mozzie (short for

23. I keep threatening to measure and see if it will fit in
Rudder's Very Large SUV, the Orange Crush.

22. I also have a 4WD compact

22. And yes it does get to go off-road occasionally.

21. We do
a lot of photography on our trips, mostly of mountains and waters rather than of

20. What we'd really like to do is to sell those or maybe photos
with articles, so we could make a living taking the trips we like and working from
home the rest of the time.

19. We really do think our photography and
writing skills are good enough (or nearly).

18. But we know that so are a
lot of other people's.

17. We talk about taking a year off to travel around
the US and buying a vehicle to do it in.

16. We figure the ideal would be a
horse or toy trailer -- living space in front, room in back for bikes, kayaks, and
all the books I'd want with me.

15. We don't have kids or plans to have

14. We both like other people's kids, it's just that 24-7 thing that
scares us.

13. Kind of a shame because I think that year-long trip would be
fun with a kid old enough and young-enough to enjoy it -- say in the 4-12

12. I don't smoke.

11. I did in my teens, but never more than a
pack a week or so, not enough to build a dependency -- quitting was mostly a
matter of deciding, "This is stupid".

10. I don't know much about wine,
though I like it.

9. I know more about beer -- we used to brew our

8. This is good because good beer is much more affordable than good

7. I think I'm a fairly good cook.

6. One set of friends thinks
I'm a gourmet cook -- just because they happen to have been over for some of my
better efforts. It's nice to have some people think you're better than you are :-

5. I've had friends call me up when they needed to check a random trivia
fact instead of looking it up themselves -- because they were sure I'd know or
know where to find out.

4. I did!

3. I'm also very good at remembering
words -- spellings, song lyrics, poetry, passages from books.

2. I'm not
nearly as good at remembering important information.

1. This list was a bit
harder to compile than I'd thought and you probably haven't learned much you
didn't already know. But I hope it was fun!

Posted by dichroic at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2004

funding freedom fighters

Oka, boys and girls. In case it's been too long since you've last watched Sesame
Street, we're going to play a fun game of "One of These Things is Not Like the
Others." Ready?

I've just renewed my membership to the Aircraft
Owners and Pilots Association, the Smithsonian, Planned Parenthood, the Southern
Poverty Law Center, and the ACLU. Which one of these things is not like the

Did you guess Smithsonian? Right! It's the only one of the
organizations above that is not up to its ears in fighting the policies of the
Bush-Ashcroft administration. (Technically that should probably be the Bush-Cheney
administration, but who knows where Cheney's hiding?) Yes, even the AOPA is
fighting for freedom, since apparently having a couple of 747's hijacked means
that the defense of liberty requires restrictions on the tiniest little Cessna
152, leading to more restricted areas higher insurances, and unpredictable new
laws. It's true that the government has not been encouraging the KKK and other
white-supremacist groups, a main focus of the SPLC, but they fight against all
types of hate crimes, and I think it's fair to class support for an amendment
reducing some citizens to second-class status as not exactly "teaching tolerance".
Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are, of course, self-explanatory and I found it
particularly satisfying to write those checks today.

(Of course the
ACLU helps defend some epellent people and groups. They took an oath (the same one
our civil servants are supposed to be executing), to protect and defend the
Constitution. If you phrase the right of free speech as "free speech for everyone
we agree with", it sort of loses some of its punch.)

Posted by dichroic at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2004

my grandmother's birthday

When I woke up just before 4AM this morning, the first thing I realized was that
it was raining and I couldn't go row. This didn't take much conscious thought,
since what woke we two minutes before the alarm was She-Hulk calling to say it was
pouring over at her place and so she wasn't going to go row. (She's just back from
dealing with family emergencies and she and Rudder were supposed to take out the
double this morning. She didn't want to make him drive out there for nothing.) The
next thing I realized, even before going back to sleep, was that today is March 5,
my grandmother's birthday. She'd have been 92 today.

I know she was
86 when she died, so that makes it six years ago. It seems longer; in fact I just
mentioned to Baraita that it was "almost
a decade ago". Oops. I'm terrible at remembering death dates, though good at
birthdays, and somehow I always felt a little closer to Grandmom just because her
birthday was five days before mine. (In a similar way, I remember that a boy
around the corner when I was little had his on March 13, one cousin I haven't
talked to in years was born March 7, another March 11, a former coworker also
March 11, and a more recent former coworker on March 10, 1967, same day and year
as me. In twenty years I might not be in contact with any of these people but I'll
still know their birthdays.) In some ways I like the idea of remembering births
rather than deaths because it feels more like a celebration that I had wonderful
grandparents instead of a lament that they're gone.

We were always
close to my mother's parents. They lived less than a mile away and we used to
visit once or twice a week. My grandfather died the summer after my freshman year
in college. My grandmother kept living alone (her sister was just down the
street), and did some of the traveling my grandfather's heart condition had
prevented, but being on her own was a big adjustment. (Among other things, I don't
think she like not having anyone to argue with.) She had a heart attack a few
months after he died, and toward the end of the next decade had a couple of
congestive heart failures. As best I can tell after about 13 years of living on
her own, she decided that she'd been alone too long, she wanted to see my
grandfather again, and that her body was starting to fail her and more or less
stopped eating. She spent a few weeks in a nursing home where they tried to
persuade her to eat Ensure because she claimed anything else upset her stomach,
kept telling us she wanted to die, and did after not too long. I didn't make it to
her funeral, because I'd rushed in a few weeks before to see her and say goodbye.
I'm glad I did.

After I moved away, I tried to make it a point to
call her at least once a week, usually on Sundays. Every once in a while even now
I find myself thinking, "Oh, it's Sunday, I should call my grandmother," before I
realize that won't work. I take comfort in remembering that she was sure she would
see my grandfather again, that he was waiting somewhere for her. I don't know that
she had any structured view of what happens next, but I figure she was much older
than I am, had seen more death, was close to her own, and thus might have better
knowledge than I do. At any rate, I never feel like either of my grandparents are
far away. I don't much care if that's true or not; I can wait to find out, and
meantime, as Iris Dement sings, I'm content to "let the mystery be". Either I'll
see them again or it won't matter, but meanwhile it's a comforting feeling.

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

March 04, 2004

overly rapid morphage

When I was learning to fly, I founded I need to go more than once a week -- a week
was too long a gap and I had to spend the beginning of the lesson relearning
things from last time. I've concluded babies are like that. They change so fast
that when you don't see them for a couple of weeks they morph beyond all

It's been a strenuous week at work. Last night I rushed
home with something I needed to do on Photoshop, worked on it for an hour and a
half, spent a few hours sharing photos and having dinner with a Finnish woman from
our Antarctic trip who's in town this week, and then worked on the Photoshop stuff
some more until 10 PM. Observant readers will note that this is two hours after my
usual bedtime. (And yes, I am a good girl because I got up at 5 and erged 10K.)
Anyway, it's been that sort of week.

I was *so* hoping I could
telecommute Friday. I'd planned to have lunch with Egret and the babies and maybe
another mutual friend. My hopes were torpedoed when I got a summons to a Big
Honking Meeting Friday morning. VPs and other VIPs are involved and there was some
language about how each person asked to attend was invited because she could
"contribute in a unique and meaningful way". The meeting notice did say people not
in Phoenix could call in .... and technically speaking, I don't actually live in
Phoenix .... but given the people involved and the fact that it's the first
meeting of this group, I probably need to show my face. Dammit.

I wrote to tell Egret I couldn't make it I was thinking of telling her to tell the
babies not to go off to college before I saw them next, but settled for "tell them
not to start walking and talking before I see them again", thinking this was still
comfortably far away. She wrote back that OG is "still crawling backwards". When I
saw them last less than two weeks ago, they were still at the stage where they
could sit alone but only with help getting into that position, and once seated
they were both pretty much immobile. At this rate they may well be dancing by next
week and sending their own emails the week after that.

And they're
both way cuter than any of our VPs.

Speaking of aging, I have a birthday in less than a week. *hums Happy-Dichroic
tune* They never seem to live up to anticipation, for which I blame href="
1818501?v=glance&n=507846">Dr. Seuss
, but this year I have a new strategy.
Since almost all of my relatives who send me presents tend to do so very late,
this year I will interpret this not as a sign of not caring (they do care -- they
call on the actual day) or even of just being very busy (the actual reason, plus
there's an annual craft fair a few weeks later that Mom likes to shop at) but of a
desire on their parts to celebrate my birth over a whole month. I believe in
deliberate self-delusion whenused for a good cause.

Posted by dichroic at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2004

penguin talk and stranger dreams

We get to talk penguin talk tonight. A Finnish woman who was on the Antarctica
trip with us is in town for business. Since she knew the trip was coming up, she
asked for our email address while we were all on the boat. (They're supposed to
send out a trip diary with everyone's email addresses but haven't gotten around to
that yet. I'm assuming this is related to the fact that the tour staff usually
have about three hours of free time between trip, literally. Strenuous jobs.) SO
Rudder has loaded up the slide projector, I've cleared all the remaining software
boxes and installation instructions away from my desk in the front room, and she's
bringing a DVD with her pictures. It ought to be fun.

I slept very
well last night, but somewhere in the middle had an odd dream. I was hanging out
with a few people at a pool that had a big slide, and someone wanted us all to
slide down in close timing so we'd all be in the pool close together. The woman
behind me in line crowded and pushed me down the slide so that I was too
close to everyone else when I hit the water and my brother scolded me for being
unsafe. I explained it wasn't my fault and she sort-of-but-not-really apologized.
I refused to forgive her and stepped out of the pool by stepping on her head, not
hurting her but causing her to go down in the water and splutter a bit. Then I was
sorry and kept trying to get her to forvie me, but she wouldn't. Since it was a
dream, by then there was some entirely different issue between us. Then I sat by a
nice older woman, a close aquaintance whom I trusted, but not really a friend, and
we talked about the whole thing. I wondered whether I should just try to be
friends with the older woman instead.

I woke up with a revelation --
I mean, in my just awoken state, this was clearly the Solution to Everything --
that I'd be better at making friends if I just acted as if I like everyone I meet,
most especially the people I really do like.

OK, so it's probably not
the Solution to Everything. It's amazing how convinced you can be of something
when you first wake up. On the other hand, this one makes sense, so .... if you're
on my DLand buddies list, or you know I read your journal, or I gave you this URL,
please assume I like you. In case you were wondering.

P.S. Brownie
points if you know where I stole the title of this essay.

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

March 02, 2004

who sez?

If I were on the California Supreme Court during the Catholic Charities, I think
I'd have to write a dissenting opinion. I'm not sure whether I'd vote with the
majority or not, but I think they got their rationale all wrong. It would be just
fine with me if the state required everyone, religious or not, to provide
insurance coverage birth control, or if they wanted to leave more choice in there,
to require an employer to fund coverage for birth control if they fund coverage
for Viagra and similar drugs. (Though it's never been entirely clear why birth
control should be considered a women's issue. Last I heard, it's a two-person
process.) If they're going to provide exemptions from the rule for religious
organization, it's clear there needs to be some standard for what constitutes a
religious organization, so that people aren't claiming to be one just to reduce
their insurance responsibilities.

Where I have a problem with this is
in the decision that Catholic Charities is not a religious organization because
they help people without "forwarding religious aims". 'Scuse me? Feeding and
clothing the needy isn't a religious aim? I seem to recall something of the sort
in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Koran. (Admittedly, I'm
going on second-hand reports there, not having actually read the Koran.) If
Christian Charities does so without pushing dogma on people who might not be in a
position to accept or reject it, more power to them. First you keep them from
starving, then you worry about their souls.

(From a purely
theological viewpoint, this is a very Jewish point of view and not at all a
Christian one, at least not historically. From a practical standpoint, few people
can pay attention to sermons when they're ill-nourished, and even iin our legal
system an oath taken under duress doesn't count.)

It's also
interesting to note the court's other argument, that the charity hire's non-
Catholics. By that rationale, any synagogue who hires a Shabbes goy to turn off
the lights on Saturday is also non-religious.Good thing there are automatic timers

On a completely different note:

border="0" alt="May barbarians invade your personal space!">
Utinam barbari
spatium proprium tuum invadant!

"May barbarians invade your

You are highly confrontational and possibly in a
mood. You would have sworn in this quiz,
if I had made it an option.

e%20Are%20You%3F%20/"> Which Weird Latin Phrase Are You?

brought to you by href="">Quizilla

Posted by dichroic at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2004

what does a book need to be, and other stuff

I love reading conservative Republicans
telling Shrub to get his slimy hands off our Constitution and quit trying to use
it to shoehorn himself back in office. As Rudder likes to point out, the
Constitution has only ever been amended to recognize individual freedoms, never to
take them away except for Prohibition and that didn't work. (Well, and to limit
Presidents to two terms in office. It can be argues whether that's denying
privileges to the incumbent or granting them to others. Either way, it's not one
of the document's shining highlights.)

SWooP: I am not a shoe whore.
If I were they'd pay me for it instead of the other way around. A shoe
john, maybe.

On the radio this morning, someone discussing the
Oscars mentioned that the Lord of the Rings movies are "about the big things":
friendship, courage, integrity. That rang true for me -- that's the common factor
in most of what I read. Most of the fiction on my bookshelves is either
children's/YA, F&SF, or mysteries. I have some "literature" too, of course, but it
tends more toward Austen and Trollope than to, say, Byatt or Proulx. A lot of
modern lit strikes me as flat out boring, or pompus, or at best dreary. I am not a
subtle person (yeah, big shock, I know) and one distinguishing factor of the
genres I read most is that they are not afraid to tackle good and evil head on.
No, I don't only read about great apocalyptic battles; there are also all of the
other great questions: why is love, what is civilization, why do manners matter,
what is the purpose of life, and so on nearly ad infinitum. They may use dragons
or murders or high school cliques to illustrate a point, but there almost always
is one.

I don't want to read about what happened on one day of some
random character's life unless it really mattered to him or her. (Funny, I've
never seen the resemblance between Joyce's Ulysses and Miss Read's
Thrush Green until now. Should probably attempt to read the former one of
these days.) I do want to read about how Elizabeth realized she'd been mistaken
about Darcy, or why you should always be polite to dragons, or how a man-of-the-
world soldier can find contentment in a monastery, or how women can fit into a
previously male-only army without pretending to be men.

Some of it
is writing style too, I guess; it's hard to care for a character who doesn't care
for anything himself. A good author can make me care about an issue that's
important to the character but that wasn't to me -- I agree with href="">Natalie
that Pat Gardiner has a pathological attachment to Silver Bush, but I still reread
her anyway. I think at base I want to be able to see what the author is getting at
and why I should care.

Which may or may not be the case with the
meeting I need to run off to now.

Posted by dichroic at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)