July 30, 2004

spam, spam, eggs, and spam

I feel so studly now. Or alpha-geekly, anyway. Of course, this just goes to show how rusty my software skills really are.

My comments have been getting lots of spam in the last few days, and deleting them one at a time was getting annoying. I have now installed the MT-Blacklist plugin. Before I tried that I got to explore the wilds of MySql. During installation there was tar-ing and attempted untar-ing (not necessary, as it turned out; my Mac handled it). There was Fugu-ing and telneting, cd-ing and ls -l ing left and right. I was especially pleased that I hardly had to think at all before chmods started flowing from my fingertips like the Unix hack I used to be. Best of all, though not to my credit, the installation worked perfectly the first time and my comments are now despammed and protected from 500 or so known spammers. Very productive for a Friday night.

Posted by dichroic at 09:30 PM | Comments (2)

workout entry

Thursday, 7/23: erg 1600 m plus weights

Friday, 7/24: 4x3'2'1'2'3, 2 with bungee at rates of 24, 28, 32, 2 without at 26, 30, 34. Dratted wakes make those high rates difficult. Total distance approx 13, 500m.

Monday, 7/26: steady state erg 12000m

Tuesday, 7/27: erged 1600m plus weights plus erged 2000m

Wednesday, 7/28: rowed 5x500m race pieces, with 5' rest between - total about 10000m.

Thursday, 7/29: needed sleep!

Friday, 7/30: 750m, 6' rest, 500m, 4' rest, 250m (actually, that last 250 was 125 and 125 because I had to stop in the middle to help another rower who had flipped figure out how to get back into his boat). Total about 9500m.

May go to the gym tomorrow to make up for missing Thursday.
Total for year to date: 951.1 km.

Posted by dichroic at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

photos back

I picked up our photos yesterday - two rolls, including our trip to Oregon and the regatta in May (we didn't end up taking pictures at the most recent regatta). Unfortunately I only have slides, not digital photos, so I can't post any here. We used to have all of our slides put on PhotoCD but that got expensive. One of these years I'll get a slide scanner, but as the one I want costs about $900 it may not be soon. Ditto a better digital camera. I do need to get at least some of these shots and some of the Antarctica ones scanned onto CD, though, because I'm finding it annoying not to have them.

Neither of us will ever be hired as portrait photographers, but oddly enough this time it was the people photos that were most interesting. We'll have to look at the photos more carefully before we decide (I've only gotten a quick look on the light table at the shop) but I got some shots of the grandRudders in characteristic poses (him working on a gun barrel in his shop, her sitting by the house) that we may enlarge and frame for Rudder's parents and/or brother this year.

One thing I can do is get photos where people are sculptural elements rather than the main subject; I have a few of Rudder on the beach that I like, a few where he's running and seen only in silhouette and one where he's walking away from me with his sneakers slung back over his shoulder. There are also a few with Rudder and his dad, from a distance, standing at the bottom of the grandparents' driveway with a rural mailbox at one side, trees framing the scene and hills in the background. In at least some of them Rudder and his father are in identical poses - it's a classic father and son shot. I'd like to get the best of those printed for Rudder's mother.

We've also got a dramatic picture of She-Hulk in her blue, red, and yellow uni, carrying her yellow boat on her shoulder, with its shadow streaming down in front of her, and another of Rudder in a bright red shirt with yellow stripes down his sleeves getting into his boat. There are also a few beach landscapes that look better than I expected and some flower shots from the parents' garden that, if they're crisp enough, I may enter in a contest for garden photos the Oregonian newspaper is having.

There is one shot, one Rudder took, that I'm not sure I want to see again. It is of me, and is the reverse of flattering; in it I look middle-aged and decidedly grumpy. I think, though, that if it were of someone else I might like the image quite a bit. It's full-face, on the beach with sunset light coming onto my face from one side. The picture is stark and unsparing. I'm not smiling. It's a revealing sort of photo, which may be one reason I don't like it, but there seems to be a lot of information in the face's lines and expression, which is why I might call it art if it were someone else.

Of course, once I get a chance to look at it more closely it may also be hopelessly fuzzy and not good art at all. I can't wait to get home and really look at the pictures.

Actually, I can't wait to get home, period. It's been a hard week.

Posted by dichroic at 02:32 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2004

what not to say

Did you ever have the urge to say something totally unfeeling and inappropriate, just because of the way something was phrased?

A woman on one of my e-mail lists just had a miscarriage. I empathize with her grief, appreciate that messages from other list members have been sweet and sympathetic (none of those awful "You can have another one" messages; one woman sent a sonnet by L'Engle that, if I remember right, refers to the death of a baby dolphin, but is perfect for this case). I would never say anything to her to increase her pain.

But I must admit,when she wrote, starkly, "I lost the baby," while most of my brain thought, "Oh, no!" one small snide corner whispered, "Where did you put it last?"

Bad brain.

Posted by dichroic at 12:56 PM | Comments (2)

what now?

Possibly not so accurate:

quid·nunc , NOUN: A nosy person; a busybody. ETYMOLOGY: Latin quid nunc?, what now? : quid, what; see kwo- in Appendix I + nunc, now

I don't think that's quite what the person who made the quiz meant to say, unless I just misunderstood it.

Posted by dichroic at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

posted on July 11101

Seen on a cubicle wall: "There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who know binary, and those who don't."

Posted by dichroic at 12:36 PM | Comments (3)

I'm a what?

Reasonably accurate, I think.... I got this from Mer

The Quidnunc
Category XI - The

Though you don't fit in, and your social graces are
sometimes lacking, people like you because you
have all the information. Now, who won the
Nobel Peace Prize in 1952?

What Type of Social Entity are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by dichroic at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

I'm a what?

Reasonably accurate, I think.... I got this from Mer

The Quidnunc
Category XI - The

Though you don't fit in, and your social graces are
sometimes lacking, people like you because you
have all the information. Now, who won the
Nobel Peace Prize in 1952?

What Type of Social Entity are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by dichroic at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2004


Work today is moving at the speed of arrrggghhh! Eight o'clock meetings four o'clock meetings, four hour classes to teach both this afternoon and tomorrow morning. (Not all bad; today's class may get me out of the 4PM meeting. I'll have to tell them to ask lots of questions.)

I still haven't sent a card for a birthday that's already happened, ordered some parts I need for my boat (never mind, just did that), applied for reimbursement for IFR training (cool perk, huh?) or registered for Naitonals (fortunately, Rudder is doing that part). I have, as of this morning, sent in a check to transfer one of my old 401(k) accounts to my current one here. One down, two to go, after a mere year and a half here. Yikes.

I can feel myself moving into manic mode, in which I type faster (but with more mistakes), talk faster (ditto) and get frustrated with anyone who makes me wait for anything. Probably not the best mode in which to teach.

Posted by dichroic at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2004

ocean eyes

In a recent department meeting, it turned out that of 11 people, 2 are undergoing physical therapy for knee problems and one is about to have MRIs done on both knees. One other person was absent from the meeting because he's about to undergo surgery for a hole in his intestine. I'm beginning to think I should stay far away from all my coworkers, at least until after Nationals. (Actually, none of those are problems I'd want to deal with after Nationals, either.)
Of the four ancient elements, I am a water person; I have some admixture of air and some of fire, nearly none of earth. The best part of rowing for me is being out there in the sunrise with the lake and the sky. The best part of having a backyard pool is knowing it's there. I spent my summers in childhood staying in the pool all day, not so much swimming as hanging out and playing with friends and seeing what I could do in the water. When I first went into the desert, it took me some time to learn to see it, to see how alive it was when all the greens were shades of gray-green and sage. It does look green to me now; when I see actual forests of actual trees, they're a bit of a shock at first. I love the red mountains around me now, and how the clouds mass over them in thunderheads during monsoon season. Still, when I visit the ocean, as we did in Oregon a few weeks ago, it's difficult for me to leave. I've had a line in the poem below in my head since we came back, but haven't quite been able to work it into anything until now.

This daily desert's beauties, undeniable,
Yet are lost on me,
Muted by familiarity
As a mother's beauty in her daughter's eyes.

Today, my eyes still full of ocean,
I do not see it at all,
As a son in a lover's thrall
Overlooks his mother in the other's presence.

Posted by dichroic at 01:43 PM | Comments (1)

July 26, 2004

bunny 1 done

I finished making my first bunny last night (along with accomplishing a gazillion other things I needed to do this weekend). I'll try to put up a picture later. That 6" square took a bit long than I expected, because not only does sportweight yarn knit up smaller (than worsted weight), it's harder to work with. That might also be because partly this is acrylic, instead of the wool or cotton I'd worked with before. Now all I need to do is make another one - this is an occupational hazard of having friends with twin babies.

I get very proud of myself when I've finished a project, whether it's making a necklace or knitting a dishrag, finishing a race or a long workout piece, or something bigger like finishing my pilot's license or my MS. I still think of myself as a bit of a fuckup, good at starting things but not so good at finishing them, so every finish is a victory. I do have the tenacity to dig in and finish when it really matters - I don't think anyone has ever earned an engineering degree without that - but I'm not very patient and it's hard for me to finish something that goes slowly. Knitting is probably character-building for me.

I don't particularly mind quitting something when I've decided there's no good reason to continue, like the time a few years ago when I was thinking about getting an MA in Linguistics and stopped because I'd changed jobs, didn't have the free time anymore, and couldn't figure out what I'd do with that degree if I did get it. On the other hand, I do mind when I quit something our of sheer inertia or laziness, even if the quitting doesn't actually hurt me, as with the book idea I had a few years back. This is why when I'm working on projects just for fun, I choose small ones that I know I can finish.

I may not ever make a sweater, but I will someday get an IFR rating. Whenever I start that I know I can finish. It has the criteria for success: a finite scope (required number of hours and body of knowledge) and it is something that will benefit me. (It will benefit Rudder, too, because then he'll have a better safety pilot available for his own flying. The biggest obstacle to my finishing may be my own tendency to not want to do something I'm being pushed to do. See "pig, instructions for driving".)

Rudder is actually a good influence on me in this matter. He's much more methodical and patient than I am and has a driving work ethic that won't let him quit anything once he's started, but tends to start fewer things on the spur of the moment. He started both his MS and his VFR pilot training before I did, but thought both out more thoroughly before starting.

It's a fact, for me at least, than each thing I finish makes it easier to finish the next similar one. I used to be a lot more scared of racing; now I know that a thousand-meter race, or even a 5000-meter one won't kill me, because it's already tried to, and failed. I know I can finish a pilot rating or a masters degree, or even a little knitted bunny rabbit.

On a related note, can anyone out there recommend websites with nice, easy (and preferably small and quick) knitting patterns? After I finish the next bunny, I'll be making my first swatch into a purse, suggestion thanks to the people at the store I visited Saturday. I don't have enough yarn to make it into a scarf and can't find more matching yarn. (It was my first thing, and I didn't know enough to save the label.) After that, a Harry Potter scarf that I hope will knit up quickly because I'm using bigger needles. Mine won't be exactly like the one in the movie - someone has published a replica pattern but it starts with "Cast on 84 stitches on circular or double-pointed needles." No thanks. Anyhow, I figure that one is just a costume designer's interpretation and who's to say mine isn't just as good? I'll have to decide between garter, stockinette, or ribbed stitch, and am leaning toward the last, but will keep it as simple as possible. So, what should I do next?

Posted by dichroic at 01:24 PM | Comments (1)

July 23, 2004

something I may live to regret

Uh-oh. I just did something I may live to regret.

I asked one of the local rowers if he wanted to row a double in the Natchitoches marathon this year. Oops. It just sort of slipped out.

In my defense, this is not a competitive sort of guy. He did the marathon last year in his single and finished in about 6 hours, twice as long as Rudder and She-Hulk took. Apparently he stopped a few times, to rest, chat with the locals, and use their bathrooms - just a leisurely weekend row down a pretty river.

Er, for twenty-six miles.

Still, if we take it easily, I ought to survive it. I've done many a half-marathon on the erg - I can do those in under two hours, though everything takes a little longer in a boat. And as I told him, with two of us in the boat, we might be able to break five hours. With bathroom breaks of course.

We talked about this only briefly, because he was heading out on the water as I was coming in, but later She-Hulk, who came in just after me, told me he'd had one more idea. We have five-pointed stars in the middle of our oars, because they're painted like the Arizona state flag (so are our boats and unis). He suggested that he an I replace those with six-pointed stars, the Star of Davi, because we'd probably be "the only Jew boat in Louisiana". Probably not true, given Tulane's student demograpics, but still pretty funny.

Twenty-six miles, with Jewish stars. Vey is mir. (Not so much the stars as the miles. )

Posted by dichroic at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2004

my rules

Whew! It looks like we finally have everything figured out for the Masters Nationals regatta. We have someone to take our boats, airfare, hotel and rental car reservations, and plans to see both Mechaieh and my uncle. Now all I have to do is decide for certain which races to get my butt kicked in.

Which reminds me of an entry I've been wanting to write for a while, so here goes. As you will notice, I am not sticking only to important things. I don't expect all of these will work for everyone, but they do for me.

Dichroic's Rules for Living


  • It's fine to be scared of something. But that's no reason not to do it.

  • There are many reasons to do things: because it would be fun, because you want to see if you can, because you'd learn something you want to know, because it would help someone else, because it's the moral thing to do. But if you can't think of a good reason to do it, then don't waste your time.

  • Always tell the truth. But you don't always have to tell all of it.

  • People are more important than things, always, and the people who matter to you are more important than places. Pat of Silver Bush was a bit of a sociopath.
  • Looks:

  • Life is also way too short to spend hours getting ready every morning. It's much easier to just come to peace with the way you look and to get a haircut that doesn't require much fussing. This doesn't mean no makeup if you like wearing it - see reason 2 above. And you should be wearing sunscreen. It also doesn't preclude primping for fun or dressing up for a special event. But one of the frightening things in a locker room is to see how many women spend an hour on face and makeup every single day. Who's got that much spare time? And why?

  • Similarly, clothing should be comfortable and functional. If not, it had better make you look good to justify itself. It is possibly to be both comfortable and good-looking, but probably not always.

  • Dietary:

  • Don't diet.

  • Do try to eat a wide variety, so Something in there will give you whatever vitamins or trace elements you need. Try to include plenty of fruits and veggies.

  • Prohibited: Anything you hate so much you can't eat it without gagging. Nothing else.

  • Minimize: Anything you think is bad for you and anything that makes you feel sick afterward. For me that means large breakfasts, too much of anything at one sitting, anything too greasy (though cooked in olive oil is OK), large hunks of red meat, more than a tiny bit of dairy. Once in a while I do eat steaks or fast food or ice cream because I like them, but only if I'm not going anywhere afterward.
  • Work:

  • Don't let work take over your life unless you're one of those lucky people who's found your Proper Job, whose life really is your work, like Aung San Suu Kyi or Burt Rutan or Isaac Asimov. Or Marissa. If you Work to Live, as opposed to Living to Work, act like it. And even if you live to work, if your job really is who you are, you should still take breaks to attend to the other parts of your life.

  • However, even if you're not in the Porper Job, there should be at least parts of it you enjoy. If not, find something else. You don't have to be miserable eight or ten hours a day.

  • Engineers think a bit differently than other people. But not as much so as many others seem to think.

  • Just because it's always been done a certain way, doesn't mean it can't be done better.

  • You don't have to like your coworkers, though it's more pleasant if you do (and I do). And it doesn't even matter if they don't like you much -- this is where the office has a huge advantage over the schoolyard. You just need to be able to work together.

  • Sometimes big changes need to come in small steps.

  • It's more important to be nice to people below you than to people above you. People aove you can generally defend themselves.
  • Men:

  • They are not, after all, a different species. And the ones most worth your while don't think women are, either.

  • Just because you might sleep with one of them, is no reason not to be friends with another one of them. Or two, or three or five. It's also no reason to desert female friends. It's unreasonable and unfair to expect one person to fill all your companionship needs.

  • The most important attribute of a lover is the desire to make his partner feel good - much more important than any particular skill or physical characteristic.

  • It's a good sign if, after you've been with someone for six months or so, if you simultaneously feel life you've been together forever and like you just started.

  • Even the best relationship is a sine wave (jobs, too) and sometimes all you can do with the low part of the curse is recognize it and ride it out. What you need in the sine curve is a high everage value and not too great an amplitude (otherwise it's one of those abusive relationships that's either ecstatic or horrid). But if those two factors both apply, then sometimes you just have to trust and wait.
  • Sports:

  • Women look good with muscles, even if many clothing designers apparently don't think so.

  • In both sports and singing it's more important to be doing it than to be good at doing it. It's silly you think you can't do either unless you're of professional caliber.

  • Don't wait until you get in shape to start doing what you want. Start now and do it at whatever level you can manage without hurting yourself. That will get you in shape much faster than doing something you hate and won't stick with in service of soem far-off future goal.

  • Celebrate even small successes. Also other people's successes, even if they're competing against you. It's not as much fun to be cut-throat or to only care about big wins.
  • More generalities:

  • Clean up after yourself in public bathrooms.

  • Admit it when you're wrong.

  • Keep learning.

  • Feel free to experiment with recipes (though if you're baking, not with things like the amount of flour and baking powder). Substituting one vegetable for another or one herb for another usually works fairly well.

  • Keep your promises. The more powerless the person you make the promise to, the more important it is to keep it.

  • When you're offered an exciting opportunity, take it. When you're not, make your own opportunities.
  • Posted by dichroic at 01:57 PM | Comments (5)

July 21, 2004

workout entry

Friday, 7/16: tapering for race, so did a 1K race piece, racing against Rudder and She-Hulk. In near-perfect (but hot!) conditions, my time was 4:40. Total was about 4500m.

Sunday, 7/18: Raced in WLt1xB, W2xB, Mx4xC in Southwest Masters Regionals. Total, with rowing to start, from finish and warmups, about 8000m.

Tuesday, 7/21: We unloaded the boats, washed and rigged them.

Wednesday, 7/22: Erged 2 x 4'3'1'2'3'4 at rates of 18, 22, 26, 30 and then 20, 24, 28, 32, plus 1K each warmup and cooldown, total 9008 m.

The fivehundred website hasn't been working right this month, so I'm going to list my total distance for the year in here as well to keep things straight. My goal is 1000 miles for the year. Ergs and boat computers (Strokecoaches) measure in meters, so I'm recording kilometers instead of miles - 1 mi = 1.609 km so the goat is 1609 km for the year.

I googled up at saved version of the fivehundred page and found I had a total distance for year was 847.3 km as of 7/2. The previous workout entry brings it to 879.3 km as of 7/15, and I've gone back and put these totals in that entry (along with a reasonable guess as to what I did on the Friday before vacation, since I didn't record that anywhere, but I'm sure I rowed). As of today, 7/21, my total for the year is 900.9 km. That's 56% of goal, pretty much on track - I need 58% by the end of this month and there are four rowing and three gym days scheduled between now and then.

Posted by dichroic at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)


An irritable gut and a long drive home are a bad combination. When the one is acting up, the other may not be quite practicable. Therefore my current mood is somewhere between Dammit! and *whimper*. I did take something for it, so hopefully that'll help.

Posted by dichroic at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2004

sixty- eight years and forty two seconds

There are a lot of songs about aging couples who gently dance their way into the sunset of their lives. (If you haven't come across any, you may be listening to the sort of music that celebrates only young love. This can be depressing as you age, so you might want to branch out.) In the songs, they always sound like such gentle people, swaying leisurely to a private melody.

The couple I met this weekend wasn't anything like that. Winnie and Dave may dance, for all I know, but when I met them they weren't being particularly gentle or leisurely. What they were being, was fierce and full-bore alive. No gentle wasting into the sunset here.

She is 68, and he's in his 70s. I know her age exactly, because that's what determined her forty-two second handicap in our lightweight women's single race. Mine is only about two and a half seconds, so in our race she got a 39 second handicap over me - not to mention a silver medal.

He was racing too. One of their races was a double together. Being married for 43 years and still racing together is no small achievement, or maybe it's more accurate to say that racing together and still staying married for 43 years takes some doing.

When you look at them you see wrinkles, but you also see muscles. They were out there for fun, all right, but not the sort of fun where you just play around to see what happens. They were in those races to compete. He won his raceand they came in third in the double (of four boats) so they had two medals apiece -what She-Hulk likes to call "clinkage".

They're not unusually old, for the world of rowing. Kearney Johnston competed into his 90s. I hope they have a few decades ahead of them. I hope they keep charging on, out on the water in the sunrise, rather than fading out into the sunset in a gentle waltz.

I hope I can grow up to be like them.

Posted by dichroic at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

Never a dull moment

This morning we unloaded, washed and re-rigged the boats after Sunday's race. Everything was going fine until I got to work, went to get out of the car and realized I didn't have my purse. It wasn't in the small tote I take to work, so it's still laying on a counter at home. This means no money and no driver's license, not a good thing to find out when you've just driven 40 miles and will have to drive 40 more to get to your license.

This is why it's good to hoard; my coworkers offered to loan me money if needed, but a quick check through my office revealed $3 in change and a cup of ramen noodles I can have for lunch, not to mention the ever-present pretzels (the primary food of Dichroics) two kinds of tea bags, sunflower seeds, Swedish fish, and a few Luna bars. I might be driving without a license but I won't be doing it on an empty stomach.

Then I raised my hand to check the time and realized I wasn't wearing a watch. Because we weren't actually working out this morning, I wore my regular watch instead of my workout watch. (It's waterproof, so hosing down boats wouldn't hurt it.) Standard procedure for me in the locker room is to put on my watch with my other jewelry and put the workout watch in my gym bag. I did the second part of that (I think) just not the first .... and I don't feel like taking a ten-minute walk to the car to rectify my mistake.

And then, not wanting to cut into my $3 in case I wanted it for later, I made myself a cup of tea instead of buying coffee and promptly spilled the entire thing. It's a lidded cup but the lid came off. I can report that the carpet in my office is uncannily absorbent - the entire cupful stayed in about a square foot.

Never a dull moment.

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

July 19, 2004

regatta report

None of us (me, Rudder, She-Hulk) were particularly enthusiastic going in, what with one thing and another, but the regatta yesterday, whose official name is the US Rowing Southwest Regional Masters Championship, actually turned out to be a surprising lot of fun. The clubs from our area were friendlier than usual and the annoying people stayed well away from us (instead of of mooching our canopy and chairs as usual). We did have a few people sharing our shade but they were all very nice and were trying to make sure they weren't keeping anyone out of a chair. Some of them weren't rowers, just spectators, seeing a regatta for their first time, and some were people who are just starting to get really competitive. Also they helped pack up at the end of the day, which is always nice. Even better, we have people coming over to talk to us from other clubs all over, who have raced against us or hung out with us at other races. That was not only lots of fun but gave us the chance to set up a few extra boats for upcoming races and to get our boats on someone's trailer to our next race.

She-Hulk had the first race of the day, only her second ever in a single. She came in fifth overall in the official results, out of seven, but that really doesn't tell the whole story. She was fourth before they adjust for age handicaps, and since they'd combined several age categories some of the handicaps were substantial. It's not linear; the handicaps get steeper with age and she's near the inflection point, shere people only a few years older get nearly a second per year. She's still not entirely comfortable racing in a single, yet she came in (in raw time) only 4 seconds behind one woman who has won Masters Nationals, so it was a good race for her.

Next, she and I had a doubles race. We've been in a boat together exactly once since our last doubles race. This race had four entries and we tied for third. The man running the regatta doesn't like giving out medals unless you beat someone, which technically we didn't, but I think it's fair to argue we realy did earn that third, with the tie. Luckily for us, he was off somewhere and the funny and down-to-earth woman handling the 'hardware' made a command decision and gave us our bronze medals. We can't race in her age category because I'm too young or race lightweight because she's not lightweight. The former is just as well, since the C age group was actually faster than B, and we can't compare times for the latter because they didn't end up having a women's lightweight doubles race -- probably no entries. I talk about real vs adjusted time a lot, because I really believe US Rowing needs to fix their handicapping system. Clearly it's necessary to give older people some time advantage in competing with younger people, but once into the fifties and on up, the system they use is way too steep. Above a certain age you almost always win races against younger people, because the huge handicaps are just not surmountable without a gross inequity in skill. Maybe the system worked once, but these days there are too many older people who are in great shape, who have rowed for years and have great finesse, who have slowed down only moderately from their younger days. Actually, what I expect to happen is that they'll fix the system right as I reach an age where I would have benefited from it.

Rudder pretty much kicked butt in the Men's Lightweight Single, coming in first by a second in the official time, 7 seconds in real time. He usually races heavyweight also, but this time the races were too close.

I only saw the beginning of his race, because I was already on the water heading out to the start of my singles race, in which there were three boats. I got to beat someone this time! Granted, she was 68 years old, so when you add in her forty second handicap, she ended up second and I got third (and hence no medal since there was no fourth) but I was still happy that I beat her by 27.5 seconds. She's another of those who's in great shape and whose form she's had years to perfect.. The other woman came in way, way ahead of us, but since she's a national champion on the erg I'm not int he least bothered by that.

Since Rudder's usual partner in the men's doubles didn't come out for the race, he and She-Hulk decided to race in the Men's Lightweight Double as well as in the Mixed one. Unfortunately the only other boat in the Lightweight event scratched, so they got moved into the Heavyweight event, and into a younger age category. (They did get the handicap, after some discussion, but it only amount to less than four seconds.) They came in 5 of 6 in real time in a close race, only 1.1 seconds behind the third place boat, and then won third place after the times were adjusted. As you might imagine, this did embarass some of the actual men's boats in the race, especially when one rower from one of our local clubs yelled over, "Good for you beating those guys!" right in front of two of the guys involved. (Hee, hee, hee.)

They came in second in their Mixed Double event, by 3 seconds. One of their usual fiercest competitors lost a skeg and had to leave the course right before the finish - when it came off their boat turned 90 degrees) but I think they'd been ahead anyway.

Finally, I got talked into a Mixed Quad in the last race of the day. I really didn't want to do it, as at leat one of the people involved was one I don't have much opinion of, but it turned out to be fun. It was about the most bizarre lineups you can imagine, put together at the last minute: me in bow, a medium slightly pudgy 58 year old man in two seat who learned to row back in his youth but these days is a bit short on endurance, a 30-year-old woman about twice my size (almost literally) in three who rowed at a high level in college but is still new to rowing with two oars instead of one, and another 58-year-old man, medium height and stringy, who rowed in the Olympics for Russia in a distant past. The guy in two, who had assembled the crew, set the strategy and it was a bizarre one, involving a start without the usual ten high-speed strokes to really get the boat moving, a sprint for the entire last half of the race instead of the last 200 meters, and a rate so high that I doubt the bigger people in the boat could get full strength into each stroke. But for all that, it was still fun; a quad moves much faster than the single I'm usually in and if we were rushing too fast at least we were together and set reasonably well. We came in a full half minute behind the other boat in our race, but the nice thing about last-minute crews is not having to take them seriously. Then we found for some some reason the official finish didn't include our handicap time. I was going to protest, until I realized it wouldn't make any difference since it would only have been 12 seconds or so.

So all in all it was a fun race. Rudder, She-Hulk and I shared a hotel room which always feels odd - I'm sort of past the age and payscale where that's just normal -- but she's a good and considerate roommate, and none of us snore or hog the bathroom so that's all right. We talked so much in the car on the six-hour drives that we never did put on any music or the lecture CD we'd brought. I did realize the one impediment to my strategy of learning to knit so I could do it in the car on long trips, and it's rather a big one: night. It was about 5:00 by the time we left. Then we had to grab subs for dinner and then it took me three or four tries to cast on, figuring out the right length of yarn tail to leave and how many stitches I'd need for a 6" wide piece. The latter involved knitting a couple of rows and having to pull the whole thing. By the time it got too dark to see, I'd only gotten about three rows done. But I did finish the dishrag on the way in Saturday, so by Rudder's grandmother's scale that's a one-dishrag distance, at least more me at this level of skill. It has a few flaws, but looks much better than the last one.

Posted by dichroic at 01:48 PM | Comments (1)

July 16, 2004

enough sleep!

We actually won't leave for the regatta until 8 or 9 tomorrow morning. Imagine! This means we can do the much-needed food shopping, without which we won't have any food in the house next week either, and still get enough sleep. Robert Heinlein was talking about soldiers when he said, "happiness consists of getting enough sleep", but it applies to rowers too.

I may also be overambitious and stop on my way home for knitting needles and fuzzy wool, just on the off chance I finish the dishrag and am ready to start on the bunnies on our trip. However, there's a severe thunderstorm watch until this evening that mentions 2" hail and wind gusts to 70 mph, as well as a thunderstorm warning for my 'burb, so I may not want to get out of the car unnecessarily.

Posted by dichroic at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2004

knitting plans

Well, my first dishrag, the one I finished at Rudder's grandparents, isn't exactly a work of art (blue). On the other hand, it's a dishrag and it will work, so who cares, really. After getting home, I consulted the Stitch and Bitch book (thanks for the recommendation to both Natalie and Baf) and I think I have now figured out how to make yarn-over holes (yellow).

My project plans seem to be multiplying. I expect to finish the yellow one the drive to this weekend's regatta. (If I were Rudder's grandmother, this would be about a two-dishrag drive each way, or maybe a little more -- she "would get more done but she likes to stop and rest sometimes"). After that I plan to do two bunnies like this for my twin honorary niece and nephew. They look incredibly easy - knit a 6" square and two little bits for the ears, sew a couple of seams, and stiff. Even I can finish that. (I'm clever enough with my fingers but short on patience.) After that I may venture into actual clothing and do a hat or two for premature babies. I'm a little leary of anything that involves babyweight yarn, tiny needles, and begins with "cast on 84 stitches", but preemies have this one great characteristic in common: they're small. So are their heads. I only have to knit about 5" then decrease over 11 rows. I think I can do that.

And after that, who knows? Maybe some not-soon day I'll be able to make myself a sweater. A sleeveless one!

Posted by dichroic at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

the walls have eyes

Today I went to lunch with a couple of coworkers, to a place where the walls were staring back at me. Fortunately, they'd warned me about the trophies beforehand.

We're not just talking about a deer or two, either. This place had deer, antelope, elk, fish, an entire fox with a duck in its mouth, geese and ducks flying by on the walls and ceiling, a coatimudi fer gossakes, a warthog, mountain goat, something I think was a wild boar (not a javelina, way too big) and even a wolf. I didn't think you could hunt those legally. Maybe it was an antique. They also had a jackalope and one wall plaque with what looks like a deer's butt.

Since I'm not a vegetarian, I don't have a problem with hunting for meat. I'd far rather be a deer, free in a forest, that ends up getting shot than a cow on a factory farm. However, I think putting trophies on walls is a bit twisted. First, if it's the whole animal, then you've killed something purely for decoration. Second, if you've butchered the carcass and taken the meat, do you really want its former owner staring down reproachfully as you eat it?

Though I disapprove, trophies don't spoil my appatite or I wouldn't have gone. And it was interesting identifying all of the animals -- some had signs explaining what they were. Still, I stuck to ordering the battered shrimp. At least there weren't any shellfish watching me eat.

Posted by dichroic at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

workout entry

Monday, 6/28: 10 1K pieces on the erg. Best piece was 4:34, about 10 sec above my PR, but then again I wasn't feeling great and ended up taking a sick day.

Tuesday, I more intelligently skipped my gym workout.

Wednesday, 7/1: workout log says 9600m in the single - I htink this is the day I tried Rudder's single, because I wanted to see if I could race it instead of mine in Masters' Nationals, in case it would be easier to have fewer boats to transport.

Thursday, 7/2: erg and weights.

Friday, 7/3: 12000m in the single, but I'm just guessing because I didn't record it at the time.

Tuesday, 7/6: We went to the in-laws' gym, which turned out to have brand new Model D ergs. I did my usual 1600m warmup, weights (that equipment was much less impressive) and then an extra 1500m afterward.

Wednesday, 7/7: Did a yoga class with my MIL, then another 1K on the erg while waiting for Rudder to finish his erg piece.

Thursday, 7/8: About a mile walk in Newport, OR. (OK, actually we walked to the restaurant, then out to get a bottle of wine. But it was at least a mile.)

Friday, 7/9: Two-mile walk on the beach. That jetty was a lot further away than it looked.

Saturday, 7/8: One-mile walk on the beach.

Tuesday, 7/13: Usual erg piece plus weights. Pleased to find I didn't have to go lighter on any weights after the break.

Wednesday, 7/14: Couldn't row due to lightning.

Thursday, 7/15: Make-up row, tapering for race. 3 time 3 x 1 min on, 1 min off. On each set, first piece simulates start of race, second piece is steady state (middle of race), last piece is final sprint.

Total distance for year was 847.3 km as of 7/2. This brings it to 879.3 km as of 7/15.

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

July 14, 2004


I recently remarked in an email to someone that I think any healthy person should be able to walk a couple of miles without breaking much of a sweat - for clarity, I'll stipulate this is on relatively level ground (I mean, not climbing up a mountain, though some slope would be OK), on a comfortably cool day, and not carrying more than, say, a light daypack or purse. In my view, someone who can't do this has some sort of health problem, though of course the specific problem could be anything from heart disease to back trouble to paralyzed legs to bad asthma to just being terribly out of shape.

By that definition, I'm in decent shape. (Of course -- would I make up a test I would fail?) It got me thinking, though, that I might not be in good shape by other people's standards. On any given day (well, any day where it's not too hot) in the shape I'm in this minute, I can go climb Camelback Mountain (about a mile up and a mile down, nearly 1000' elevation gain) or hike around Usury Peak (7 miles, ups and downs). I can row 15 km in a boat (well, I might get blisters, not having been on the water for a week) or erg half a marathon (21,097 meters) or bike 10 miles (on my mountain bike on flattish trail or pavement). But could I run a mile? Maybe. Probably yes, but it would be a slow jog and I wouldn't enjoy it much. I could do the run-walk thing for a couple of miles, I think, but by the end it would be more walk than run. Could I swim a mile? I have no idea. I'm sure I could if I can vary my stroke, by which I mean if things like floating on my back and kicking count as "swimming". I don't think I could crawl-stroke that distance without really hating it. Yet my mother-in-law does 50 laps three times a week. I'm sure there are people for whom a mile in the water is the minimum definition of "fit".

At any rate, my body doesn't keep me from doing the things I want to do, at a reasonable level (meaning, assuming I just want to be in a race, not win one) so I suppose I count as fit enough by the only standard that's important.

Posted by dichroic at 05:27 PM | Comments (2)


Last night we had real rain, not just a few drops on a windshield - according to this morning's news it was .35" where I live, up to 1.93 in some parts of Phoenix. (For contrast, my mother tells me Philadelphia got 6" of rain in one of their bad recent storms, and parts of New Jersey got up to 13". ) It was an intense monsoon storm, though, complete with winds that have left bits of tree all over, some hail, an opaque dust storm before the rain, and lightning and thunder that sounded like cannons outside our bedroom window. The lightning was right there, with no gap between it and the thunder, making it one of those times when I wasn't too happy that our bed is right under the window.

If we get a lot of these monsoon rains it will be some help, along with the long-lasting drizzles we got back in February. What we really need here, though, are winter snowstorms in the high country where our water supply comes from, to let the snow melt and soak in. These quick storms just cause damage and evaporate. Also, it's a bad fire season, so the lightning is a real hazard; fortunately last night it came with enough rain to (probably) prevent it starting any new fires.

To answer LA's question in the last entry, the Sonoran is fairly lush as deserts go. We only get 12" or so of rain a year but that's more than a lot of deserts, and we get it mostly in the form of winter rains and summer monsoons. In good years we have incredible displays of spring flowers. The high country gets a bit more rain and snow, which fill up the reservoirs like Roosevelt Lake and Lake Powell, which are way below where they should be after these nine years of drought. It's especially hard on the cattle industry when there are drought years - thoughout the west, not just here. At least, though we haven't had enough rain to end the drought, we have seen some this year, which makes us better off than parts of Australia.

Posted by dichroic at 08:50 AM | Comments (1)

July 13, 2004

a letter to my Senator

Below is the text of an email I just sent to my Senator, John McCain. McCain is a conservative, but one who decides for himself on big issues rather than always toeing a party line. I rather like him. I wish I'd gotten a chance to decide between him and Bill Bradley four years ago, instead of the choice we were given. I might have had a hard time deciding which one I liked more - what a pleasant dilemma. I didn't bother writing to my other Senator, John Kyle, because I don't suppose there's much point. Maybe I should have anyway, for the sake of being counted.

Sen. McCain,

I read your book "Why Courage Matters," the other day. (Bought, incidentally, not borrowed. Consider it a campaign contribution.) I am writing to ask you to call on the courage portrayed in that book. As an Arizona resident for nearly a decade, I have admired your courage and integrity in choosing your own positions and sticking to them, rather than performing to someone else's script and conforming to a party line. Though I am not of a conservative viewpoint on most issues, I have voted for you twice because of those characteristics.

I am asking you to exercise fortitude in standing up to your party's right wing on the "protection" of marriage amendment to the Constitution currently propsed. I know it is very difficult for a Senator to break with the views of a President of his own party, but that's what I ask you to do. Please do NOT support passage of this amendment.

Though I am a heterosexual woman married to a man, I happen to believe that legalizing gay marriage is the right and moral thing to do, for many reasons: supporting families, fairness, civil rights, human decency. I can't see that my own marriage is in any way threatened by what other people do in their private lives. You may disagree. But that's not even really the main issue here. The U.S. Constitution is a great and hallowed document and a proud guarantor of individual freedoms. It should *not* be used to restrict individual liberties. We've done that once before in that name of a restrictive and mandated morality, with Prohibition, and that wasn't exactly a great success. We ought to learn from our mistakes.

Please, Senator, vote to stifle this proposed amendment. Marriage may not be in danger, but in this tense time, individual liberties need all the protection they can get.

Thank you,
Paula Berman

Posted by dichroic at 01:24 PM | Comments (4)

unconnected thoughts

Hey, it actually rained yesterday! I saw at least 10 or 20 drops on the windshield when we went out to pick up dinner. (After 9 years of drought, you take what you can get.) More usefully, we had a whopping .12 inches of rain at our airpark property. I'm hoping hard for enough wet this monsoon season to keep any more of our trees from dying.

Back to the gym this morning -- I did get to do one weight workout, one yoga class, and a little erging in my in-laws' gym but I still wouldn't be surprised if I'm a little sore later today.

Someone should inform Tom Ridge that no federal agencies have the authority to postpone elections because no federal authorities are aupposed to have that authority. The Founders were a lot more worried about what the government could do to its citizens than about preserving the government itself. (See Mechaieh for links to the articles that prompted this.)

More later if time and meetings permit.

Posted by dichroic at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2004

feline-induced sleep deprivation

Well, no, I didn't manage to get up and row today. I think the cats were confused because I was home and Rudder wasn't and so they tried to help by bringing the fact to my attention half the night and early in the morning. Either that or they just wanted affection. This is why I sleep better in hotels.

Posted by dichroic at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2004

back from the Oregon desert and coast

I am home from the Oregon trip. (Rudder won't be until tomorrow, having stopped off on the way for a meetig in San Francisco. As usual, I don't have time or energy to write a detailed trip report, especially as I haven't finished my paper trip journal (the only paper journal I keep, exclusively on travel).

Freeform impressions are about all I want to manage now, especially as I'm still tentatively planning to row tomorrow. And so:

Gloriously cool, especially in Lakeview (Oregon high desert) and then again in Newport, on the coast .... lots of sleeping in, by our standards .... time with the grandparents, who are now in their eighties. Grandpa P. especially is a treasured local characters, who grew up on a homestead and now is the guru for all the local gunsmiths ... long, long views over the desert, green views over the mountains, and then even longer views over the ocean ... my first completed knitting project, a dishrag of the sort Grandma P. likes to make on car trips (she's so much faster that she counts the distance to one town and a discloth and a half, to others as two or three -- it took me the whole weekend to make one uneven one) .... incredible dancers in front of the Globe Theatre in Ashland, and an even better singer behind them .... followed by a rendition of Much Ado About Nothing that has me calling Rudder Benedick on occasion ... a total lack of questions about when we'll be producing great-grandkids, either because I'm in my late thirties and they've given up or because one of Rudder's cousins has a child so Grandma P. has someone to knit tiny sweaters for (Rudder's parents have never pressured us, having not enjoyed that sort of thing when they were on the receiving end) ... a wonderful table d'hote (is that the right term? We picked one of four entrees and were served a bunch of other things as well) at Tables of Content in the Sylvia Beach Hotel. Both hotel and restaurant ave a book theme, so that the dinner courses are called "chapters" ... joining the Rogue Nation over some excellent gumbo at the Brewery by the Bay ... wind tangling my hair on a jetboat riding through Hellgate Canyon ... seeing elk, deer, beaver, seals, sea anemones, starfish, osprey, and two bald eagles....

If I'm lucky the relaxation will last through tomorrow's row until I get to work. I don't see it holding much past that, and possibly not that long. While I was away the monsoon season started, so the humidity is up and tomorrow's lows are expected to b 87 degrees or so. This doesn't help the rowing experience - I'd take time off after next weekend's regatta, but I can't if I don't want to look too pitiful at Nationals.

Posted by dichroic at 08:37 PM | Comments (1)

July 02, 2004

the fifth freedom: freedom to be female

Since this will probably be my last entry before the Fourth of July, it's appropriate for me to write about one of the single factors that has contributed most to my own personal freedom: feminism. I'm talking about the whole thing here, both the first wave that won me the vote and the right to own my own salary and the second, that gave me a chance to get an education and job to earn that salary.

Don't look at me like that. Don't give me those comments about how you fetched a pillow for your husband because he was tired and you weren't and you're sure "the feminists" would disapprove. Don't tell me, as a coworker once memorably did, that the words makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and it was only your own father's sacrifice in paying for your college tuition that got you your job. (She was working as a software engineer, at the time. And making the same money as the guy at the next desk.) Catch the next time-traveling bus back to 1950 and see what kind of engineering job your fancy anachronistic education gets you, ma'am. For that matter, while you're there, take a survey and see how many fathers in that year sacrificed for their daughters' educations. My own grandfather didn't, and he was as loving a father as anyone would want, willing to take any pains to get his children what he thought they needed. He sold his car to afford a leg brace my mother needed after a bout with spinal meningitis, but he thought a college degree for her would be a waste of time and money.

Now, I do understand there are a lot of people who disagree with the current priorities of some of the feminist organizations - that's a different issue. There are a lot of things you can do in that situation: Don't join those groups. Or join one and get it going in a direction you favor, or start your own group. Contribute to groups whose causes you do support, or at least make sure you vote your issues.

I also know plenty of women who are glad to be able to stay home instead of working outside the house. In some cases those are the most ardent feminists I know; they want to choose to stay home, not be trapped there, and they want their sons and daughters to have choices too.

I don't know anybody, though, that admits to disagreeing with the basic core issues of feminism, and if I did I wouldn't like them. A chance to get any job you have the ability to do well. Equal pay for equal work. Status commensurate with their importance for the jobs traditionally considered "women's work", like teaching and nursing, and appreciation and respect for the hard unpaid work women still do a much greater percentage of, like raising children and making a clean and comfortable home. Most basic and important of all, a universal realization that women are as good and capable and important and human as men. Those are the beliefs that make a feminist. Welcome to your new label.

We can argue the finer points later, and we can argue them forever: What should be legal? What issues best support womens' individual freedoms? And mens', for that matter? What's best for the children in our society? Exactly where do we draw the line between rights of the state and rights of the individual? Are women different than men? In what ways? How do we end rape? How much time should we spend worrying about discrimination in privileged countries versus issues like female infanticide or female circumcision, rape or coerced marriages or better food reserved for males in poorer societies? Does it even make sense to talk about "women's issues" or are these all issues for all of us?

I don't know the one best answer to all of those, and I bet you don't either. If you do, you have better things to be doing than reading this rant. Go out and fix the world. But don't tell me you're not a feminist unless you really truly believe that women are inferior to men, should be paid less and should leave the educational and career opportunities to men, and should spend their lives taking care of men. If you do believe those things, don't tell me that either. Just go away.

Oh, and if you do agree that all humans deserve respect and then someone tells you that you're not a feminist because you don't agree with a particular issue her organization supports, or because you decided it was important to stay home and raise your kids, tell her divisiveness is not an effective tactic, in the long run. And then tell her to go take a flying leap.

Posted by dichroic at 11:20 AM | Comments (4)

workout entry

Monday, 6/28: 10 x one thousand meter pieces on the erg - fastest time was 4:34. (About 10 sec below my PR :-( but I was still dealing with dehydration and ended up going home sick that day.)

Tuesday, 6/29: walked 1 mile.

Wednesday, 6/30: Rowed about 9500m in the single.

Thursday, 7/1: 1613 m on the erg, the usual gym piece, plus weights. Also walked 1.5 miles.

Friday, 7/2: 11 racing starts with 5 min rest between, about 10500m, in Rudder's single. (To see if I'd be able to race in it at Nationals, so we'd have one less boat to take.)

Posted by dichroic at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2004


Arggh. Off to the doctor this afternoon, thereby missing three meetings I really didn't want to miss. (Yeah, I know. Don't tell Rudder. I get enoughpointy hair jokes from him as it is.) The worst of it is, I just know I'll get there and wait forty-five minutes just to have a nurse practitioner spend five minutes with me and say "Oh, that's nothing. You're fine. Go home." By then it will be 3:30 and way too late to get back to work in time to do anything useful, though I will at least check email from home.

However, I've had both the nurse on the handy consulting line my health insurance provides (it really is a nice benefit) and the NP at my doctor's office tell me I really should go in, so go I will.

What it is, is a bump. Two, actually -- well, technically three. Yesterday morning, I noticed what I thought were two mosquito bites, a big one on my hip and a little one below my butt. Right now my state is leading the nation in cases of West Nile Virus, all within this country, so that's already something to monitor. Lat night I noticed the big bite was bigger, about an inch and a half across, red, and a little itchy. Then I noticed that the lymph gland in my right groin, a few inches over from the big bite, was swollen and a little painful to touch. This morning it was the same, except the big bite was flattened, red, hot to touch, and has a little red dot in the middle. So I called the nurse on the phone service and told her all about it, plus the fact that I'm leaving to go out of state tomorrow night. She told me to call my doctor and if they couldn't have an actual nurse talk to me, to go to an urgent care facility. Good girl that I am, I did as directed. And of course they didn't have an appointment open tomorrow when I'm free, so I have to go this afternoon.

That leg feels cold now, so maybe it's just as well.

My theory is that it's a spider bite and the gland is just working at filtering whatever toxins make spider bites swell up in the first place. I somehow doubt a doctor can do anything.

Later note: the NP guessed that it was probably a mosquito bite originally (spider bites show two holes) but said it looked like it was starting to become cellulitis[1] so he said it was a good thing I'd come in, put me on an antibiotic, and told me to use heat pads a few times a day. Sometimes it is good to vist the doctor.

[1]Not that kind of cellulitis. "Inflammation of the skin related to infection (cellulitis) commonly occurs as a result of abrasions of the skin. When abrasions or puncture wounds occur, bacteria on the surface of the skin can invade the deeper layers of the skin. This causes inflamed skin characterized by heat, redness, warmth, and swelling. The most common bacteria that cause cellulitis include Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. Patients can have an associated low-grade fever. Cellulitis generally requires antibiotic treatment, either orally or intravenously. Heat application can help in the healing process. " from the U of Miami's Med School Glossary.

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