January 31, 2005

anniversary week

It's funny how something can be all over the news for weeks, and then sink like a stone in still water. Once the ripples are gone, no one remembers unless it's personal. For me, these are a little personal and I want to bring them back to public memory. The deaths of a few explorers who knew the risks they took are not much compared to death tolls of unsuspecting innocents in Indonesia, but in another way, every single death is an equivalent tragedy, to those involved in mankind. The cllustering of these, three accidents in a week, is especially painful:

January 27, 1967: Apollo 1 explodes on the ground, killing 3 astronauts.

January 28, 1986: Space Shuttle Challenger explodes during liftoff, killing 7 astronauts.

February 1, 2003: Space Shuttle Columbia explodes during re-entry, killing 7 astronauts.

Here are all their names. There are so many stories along with those people: Grissom's near-drowning on only the second US space flight ever, the Teacher in Space program that put MacAuliffe on Challenger and, most horribly, many students right there to watch her death, the Holocaust-era drawing by a young boy who died in the concentration camps, that burned up along with Ilan Ramon on Columbia. Too many stories. The good news though, news that would have gratified all 17 of those astronauts even if they had known their fate in advance, is that we're going back up. NASA is taking safety precautions, and they have stocked the next mission with some top people. (Actually, all US astronauts are top people. I don't know what the selection process is like in other countries, but NASA has their pick of some incredible people, and they do pick them.) With luck, the next mission will launch at the beginning of May. With a little more luck and a whole lot of contingency planning, these astronauts will return home safely and with new knowledge.

Posted by dichroic at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2005

Clapotis completis

The Clapotis, she is done.

Er, well, more or less. It turns out that in Silk Garden, stitches don't so much drop as have to be pulled out, so there are still a few places where I need to finish doing that - but at least it's done enough to wear, assuming I ever figure out how. (But it's going to work this week whether or not I figure out how to wear it well.)

I was so excited to finish that I dropped by Kids' Town yesterday to show it off to Alison - I'd forgotten she's in Durango but fortunately Ilanna was there and she oohed and ahhed over it very satisfactorily. She also showed me two scarves she's just finished. One is done in narrow stripes of two different Noro colorways; it's gorgeous and looks like an escapee from a kaleidoscope.

Next on the needles: I'm about a toe-length into a sock for Rudder, trying to figure out why socks are supposed to be such a quick project. With luck I won't get too frustrated to make a mate for this one.

Posted by dichroic at 08:00 PM | Comments (8)

January 28, 2005

Annoying People, Type #3674

Annoying People, Type #3674

You know how some people will repeat what you're saying as you're saying it? I think it's a way to chime in and agree, to confirm they're hearing you, or somehting like that. Actually I don't find that all that annoying, unless it's done all the time /gritting teeth. However, yesterday in a class I saw that taken to a new level of obnoxiousness. There was a woman in the row in front of me who was chiming in along with the teacher. Frequently. And when she wasn't doing that, she was nodding or saying little encourgaing things: "Yup. That's right. I see that all the time." And when she wasn't doing that she was asking him questions, roughly three times as many as the rest of us put together, and when she wasn't doing that she was talking to the coworkers on either side of her. I think the man on her left was her boss; if I had been him I'd have been mortified. Oh and also, she laughed at all her own jokes, though no one else did.

The funny thing is that none of that would have been particularly obnoxious or even noticeable in a one-on-one discussion. In the class, though, it gave the impression that she thought she was in a private discussion, with no thought to the rest of us who were there and had paid to hear the instructor. Grr. I'm almost glad I didn't have a business card to give her when she asked. (My cards finally came in today, fortunately, becaue I'll need them next week.)

Here's one thing about being a new knitter: when you want to order online, you've never heard of any of the stores before. (Well, except eBay, and most of their things seem to be large lots of yarn. I'm not really up to sweaters yet) There are yarn stores in my city, but the nearest is a half hour away and I don't always have time to go - no time during the week and weekends are really the only time I can spend time with Rudder (when we're both awake). So I've been watching blogs and the Knitlist for mentions of purchases from online stores and noting when people seem to be happy with them, and also noting when Knitlisters are affiliated with those stores. (Somehow it seems reassuring that there's a real live person there.)

I'm guessing other people do the same, so I'd like to report that I've just made my first online yarn purchase, from Lamb's Ear Farm and was very happy with it. I ordered on Saturday, it was shipped Monday, and I received it on Wednesday. Also, Roxi was very prompt in emailing me when there was a question with my order (due to my typo) and in answering my questions. Also, the have a great selection and all of their yarns/colors are can be seen on the website. I'm sure I'll order from other sources as well (I'm interested in trying Elann and Knitpicks, for their low prices) but I'll definitely also be going back to Lamb's Ear for their selection, shipping and service.

I have no affiliation with any of the companies mentioned here, just wanted to share my experience because other peoples' have been so helpful to me.

Posted by dichroic at 12:43 PM | Comments (2)

January 26, 2005

yarn arrival

Rudder just casually mentioned that when he was home at lunch, my box from Lamb's Ear Farm had arrived and he took it inside. This is in all sensible ways a good thing because I'd been figuring it would arrive just in time to stand out in the rain; however I have to work another hour and a half and then I have to go fly (a simulator, actually). So I won't get home for another four hours or so and now I know I have YARN! waiting for me .... fuzz and shine and color and distraction, rainbowy silky Noro that will let me get on with the Clapotis decreases so I can wear it and look French (or deluded), stretchy Fixation and accompanying sock pattern to learn on, tiny needles and skinny pretty yarn for when I get the gist of it enough to start something I can make for my husband that he might actually wear.

No wonder other knitters seem to finish projects every few days; one woman wrote today on Knitlist that she knits two hours a day but is trying to get much more time for it. I, on the other hand, last night got 7 narrow rows in, one more twist in the cable of the Irish Hiking Scarf I started when I put the Clapotis down pending my yarn order. My knitting time is also my reading time, my eating time, and my talking-to-Rudder time, so it has to share space. On the other hand, I'd probably get extremely bored doing the same thing for two hours every day.

One thing I do plan to do to make sharing my time a little easyier is to buy a bookstand. I don't know yet whether this will work out; I do have a little tray table in front of my chair that it could rest in, but the problem is that while knitting or reading, I don't exactly what you'd call sit in my chair. It's a big cushy chair, and I inhabit it, back against one arm, shoulder leaning against the chair back, legs propped over the other arm, with my book on my thighs, needles in my hand and yarn trailing down to a basket on the floor. A book stand would require me to sit straighter, which would doubtless be better for my back but would feel less like a nest, me and my yarn and my book removed from the rest of the world.

New yarn waiting for me!

Posted by dichroic at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)


I came on this link to the Implicit Association Test over at Scalzi's place. It's designed to show if you have unconscious biases for or against a group. (If you take one of the initial tests, designed to show prejudice linking gender to family/career or for or against fat people vs thin people or black people vs white people, you can then click on Measure Your Attitudes and select other tests, including a bunch about politics and religion. So far, it's shown that I have a moderately strong association between women and families and men and careers, no prejudice toward fat vs. thin people, a moderate preference for Judaism vs. other religions, and a moderate preference for black faces vs. white faces. Aside from the preference toward Judaism, and possibly the female/family connection, those results are not what I'd have expected and I wonder if it's really just showing I have a preference for right vs. left. Still, the tests do try to control for that.

(I'm human. I do have prejudices. I just try not to act unjustly because of them.) Anyway, the test is interesting and at least worth thinking about.

I had somewhere I wanted to go with this but can't remember it now. Incidentally, entries here may be a bit sparser than usual for the next little bit; I have training all day tomorrow and a conference part of next week. Meanwhile, my ends are splitting and I haven't had time to schedule a haircut. Cool Salon Guy is now Cool Work-at-Home Guy - he cuts hair out of his house since the salon he worked at closed, and unfortunately his house is a bit further for me. I keep debating whether to keep going to him; not only is it an issue of loyalty but I always enjoy talking to him and he knows how to cut my hair. On the other hand the drive is inconvenient and it just feels odd - not unsafe, just odd - to go to his house. I'll probably do what I've been doing: go to him and put the decision off another month.

Posted by dichroic at 12:24 PM | Comments (1)

January 25, 2005

Cool water

Chalk up one more reason to be glad I work here instead of at my old site. For what's supposed to be one company, there are a lot of odd little differences between the two sites. One of them is that there are bottled-water water coolers all over the place here; at the North site there are almost none - a few unfiltered fountains and one or two coolers that filter tap water, scattered over two enormous buildings. (To understand why all this really matters, you have to know that Phoenix-area tap water is undrinkable. I'm not fussy: I'll drink tap water in Philadelphia, Houston, Boston, San Diego, LA and pretty much anywhere else I've ever been including cities where many other people insist on bottled water, but the stuff here tastes nasty.)

I don't know if it's been on the national news, but apparently 3 of the city of Phoenix's water processing plants are down and one of the two remaining ones is working at half capacity. There's still water, but it may be contaminated and should be boiled before drinking. Apparently this problem arose because - wait for it - with all the rain up north some silt washed into the system and gunked it all up. (I wonder what they think people in other places, where rain is a normal occurrance, do?) I don't imagine many Phoenicians were thrilled to wake up and be told not to shower or to "shower very quickly" this morning. Fortunately I live in another contiguous city - especially fortunate since I was halfway through an erg workout when I found this out. However, both my current and former worksite are within the city of Phoenix.

I'm still on the e-mail list for my old site, so I was amused to be notified (not until after lunch, mind you) that they company would be supplying bottled water in the cafeteria for free - but the urged employees to be considerate of others and not take more than a bottle or two. Yikes. Here they just told us not to use the sinks, presumably in case someone wanted to lick their hands after washing them. (To be fair, some people do brush their teeth with that water after lunch.) But they left us bottles of hand sanitizer!

The funny thing is, normally our water is cheaper and we have restrictions more rarely than places that aren't nine years into a drought in the desert. (We don't know yet if this year's rains will be enough to end the drought - or rather, I suppose the drought is technically gone but water levels are still way low. Stay tuned.)

Posted by dichroic at 02:56 PM | Comments (3)

January 24, 2005


I think I'm in a holding pattern right now - rowing camp's over and I've got nothing exciting coming up unless you count a local work conference next week or a birthday in six weeks (a little too far away for even me to get exceited about yet.) Various stuff, good, bad and confusing happened otherwise.

The lake has reopened as of Saturday, but it's only open from dawn to dusk so I can't go back to regular training even if I wanted to. However, I was noticing my thighs touching as I walked today - not sure if they're actually bigger or if it's just that I've been wearing pants mostly instead of skirts, but either way it's an reminder that I should be doing a little more than the current low level of exercise. Rudder and I did go out rowing on Saturday; the lake water was brown and muddy, with trash washed up on shore, but beautifully calm. I just did one lap lightly, working on all the technique changes from camp.

Yesterday he went out rowing again while I went flying - She-Hulk came along to ride with me because she's been wanting to learn to fly and wanted to see what it was like. Unfortunately, since I hadn't flown in two weeks I kept overshooting my turns and having to tilt back the other way, which got her a little - not queasy, but on the edge of it. On the other hand I was flying under the hood, using instrument techniques, so all turns and changes in altitude were very slow and gentle and I made two excellent landings. In other words, aside from a little bit of turbulence, this was about as gentle as flight in a small plane is likely to be. Still, you do feel turbulence more in a small plane than a big one, and she was in the back seat which moves more in turns and from which visibility is more limited. I htink she liked it otherwise, and I suspect that in the front seat she'd have no issues - and of course more experience and being in control herself will both help. I do hope she decides to learn to fly.

I did get down to the decrease section on Clapotis but have put it aside for a few days. I only had one remaining ball of yarn which I'd taken a bit out of the middle of to match colors in an earlier section. I used part of it that matched onto the last bit well enough, but to go to my remaining bit I'd have had to do a transition from lime green directly to turquoise (it's supposed to go lime->olive->shamrock green->turquoise) and it looked too abrupt. I wasn't at all sure I had enough yarn to finish and had ordered an extra skein from Lamb's Ear Farm on Saturday so I'll have to wait. The people at Lamb's Ear seem very responsive and I know they're going to ship it today; I just hope it gets here quickly. Meanwhile I do have a few other things to work on.

The new bed has arrived safely and I can now sit up and read or knit comfortably in bed. It does rather, er, dominate the room, though. If I ever decide to hold court from bed (was it Louis XVI who did that?) I now have the platform from which to do it, though it's dubious how many courtiers would fit into our room now. The only real drawback to having a headboard when I'm not used to one is that now when I roll over, if my arms are above my head I'm apt to bang on it accidentally and I'm always afraid I'll wake Rudder.

Possible TMI below cut tag.

I'd been feeling a little odd lately - sort of a pre-period feeling in a post-period week; some of you will know what I mean. Combine that with the very light flow I'd had week before last, and, well, what LA had put into my head, and I figured I'd try something I'd always been a little curious about. One line showed. I can now confirm (at least, I presume I can) that pregancy tests do work even when you're on the pill (and, as always, that the pill really does work, but the past half of my life has been ample confirmation of that.

I'm oddly disappointed, somehow, slightly, and a little wistful. On the other hand, when I imagine how I'd feel if someone said, "You're fired and you'll never have a decent job again," I feel as if I'd been punched in the solar plexus and branded a terrible failure for life. If the pill did turn out not to be foolproof, I might not be aghast, but I think this is my brain's way of telling me which path I ought to take as long as I get to choose.

Another thing: I think if I did ever get pregnant under these circumstances (38 years old and on the pill) I'd be at such high risk that I wouldn't tell anyone but Rudder for a very long time - not even you virtual people out there in the electrons. It would be such high-risk and if I did miscarry far too many people I know, both IRL and on the web, would be hurt, either from reliving their own disappointments or from being happy about it and then having to realign emotions. But anyway, I'm not.

Posted by dichroic at 02:51 PM | Comments (2)

January 21, 2005

easy peasy

What I've learned today: it really DOES take only 5 minutes to set up WordPress. Well, OK, 10 - but only because I tried to install into a non-empty directory to start with and had to do it again. See?

Of course it will now take me a lot longer to figure out all the niceties, like editing the templates so it looks like us instead of bare-bones default, and figuring how to set up static pages so the front page, member list and so on are a little easier to edit than if I just code them in straight HTML. Still, this was way easier than setting up the current site - though not having to import 3000 old entries may factor into that a little, too.

By the way, is anyone else out there seeing my sidebar below the entries instead of next to them? It's fine on this machine but I just noticed that on the Mac (using Safari) last night and didn't have time to fix it.

Posted by dichroic at 03:43 PM | Comments (2)

monsters under the bed

We ended up deciding on this bed rather than the leather one - partly so we don't have to worry as much about cat damage but mostly because we were worried about how well the other would go with the rest of our furniture, which is in Federal-to-Early Victorian cherry. (Repros, not antiques.) It's being delivered today. (yay!) So last night, Rudder wanted us to clean out under the bed before anyone saw it (anyone being delivery people, I suppose). Technically, I think he wanted me to clean it out, since he had a lake users' meeting after work. I took a look when I got home and it didn't look too bad - I cleared out a couple of pieces of junk and resolved to run a vacuum by the head and foot ends before I went to bed, figuring I'd let the deliverers of the new bed take apart the old frame.

When I got around to that, however ... oof. I had forgotten how much time the cats spend under the bed. Also, apparently our cleaning services gives people instructions that start with "Remember this isn't YOUR house. People that hire cleaning services are all slobs so you don't have to clean under or behind anything." (We'd been considering changing services, because they also seem to skip the erg room and their dusting tends to miss some areas.) I don't expect them to vauum the whole area under the bed, but they could do a lot better around the edges.

Vacuuming the foot end wasn't bad - we tend to stack workout gear there, so there were some fuzzies, but not too much. AT the other end, though, I had to push the bed out from the wall to get the vacuum in. By the time the space was wide enough, the boxsprings were falling off the fram (it's a king bed so there are two) and the further I pushed the bed out the worse it looked. Finally I leaned the mattress against the wall, took the boxsprings and stashed them in the hallway, and took the frame apart. (Of course Rudder got home just too late to help life the mattress.) Vacuuming it all up took one change of bag and several stops to clear cat hair from the vacuum beater brush.

Buying new furniture is a useful prod to deep cleaning. And stop looking at me like that. Don't tell me you regularly vacuum under the middle of king-sized beds either.

In other news, I broke down and made my first chiropractor appointment today. There's nothing particularly wrong, but the coach at rowing camp recommended it for rowers. At work today they had a car show for employee's cars - don't ask me how someone here affords a Lamborghini, but there were also lots of70s muscle cars, a couple of Model A's, some chopped and lowered street rods, '57 Chevys, a couple of race cars, and so on. I think my favorite was the VW Beetle converted to an off-road car - I don't think they kept anything but the sheet-metal. Anyway, they had free 5 minute massages, and one of Dichroic's Rules of Living is 43. Never pass up a free massage. It turned out they were from a chiropractor, and I figured my company would have made sure they were at least reputable. Maybe they'll know how to correct my curving spine and I'll instantly grow two inches.

Hey, it could happen.

Posted by dichroic at 01:12 PM | Comments (3)

January 20, 2005


Hello, my name is Dichroic and I am a procrastinator. I tend to get behind on things and lose track - or not lose track and then there's always that niggling guilt. It's even stupider when it's a pleasant task I procrastinate on.

All of which is to explain why I'm only now writing an entry to say why Keilyn rocks. I'm tempted just to write, "Well, duh." Obviously I think she's got great taste, because we have so many of the same interests - that's why she started commenting here in the first place. Of the things we don't have in common, some of her hobbies (like the SCA) are ones I've always had a tangential interest in and I think some of mine (rowing) are ditto for her. I've only recently started reading her LiveJournal (which I won't link because she hasn't linked it here) and she seems to be an interesting person in the view I get from that, as well. Also, once she commented here we corresponded a bit and found the coolest coincidence I've seen all year: we'd never met but her junior high best friend was one of my best friends in high school.

A lot of people seem to look back on their youth as a time of idiocy. In a recent comment on WeirdJews, someone wrote (not to me), "You are a goddamned idiot. Now, let's prove this mathmatically: take your age- subtract 10 from it. Were you a goddamed idiot back then? Of course you were! And you're just as big of a goddamed idiot right now - it'll just take you 10 years to figure it out." (That would be why I just set up an age poll on that community. I had a feeling few people past their 20s would write that.) Anyway, my first reaction was, "But I wasn't an idiot at nearly 28." On the other hand I don't think I was an idiot at nearly 18, or nearly 8, either - inexperienced, but not stupid or even terribly thoughtless. And I don't think my friends then were either - we might have been intense and inclined to take everything with the Utmost Seriousness, but no, not stupid, and not totally devoid of judgement either.

Wheer I'm going with this is that my high school friend certainly had good judgement in people; at last report she's still married to her boyfriend from back then - who incidentally may be the single smartest person I've ever met and who was also good friends with Keilyn. And good people don't generally age into not-good people - I suppose it could happen, but I think it would be fairly visible if it did. So despite a very slight acquaintance, I know Keilyn rocks, because I knew M and J and they knew her - and thought she rocked. Good enough evidence for me.

Maybe someday we can dig up M and J and all get together on one of my infrequent East Coast trips - now that would really rock.

Posted by dichroic at 12:34 PM | Comments (1)

January 19, 2005

software decisions

It's sad but true that I don't understand Movable Type as well as I'd like, which is one reason I'm still running v. 2.663 here. (The other, of course, is - say it with me - lack of free time.) That would be why I'm still getting comment spam, despite having (thought I'd) installed the MT Moderate plugin today, which is supposed to make comments on entries > 7 days old have to be approved. Or possibly the plugin just doesn't work with this version.

This is bubbling up in my consciousness lately because soon I'm going to have to create a webpage for our informal rowing group and I'd like to have a blog as one page on it so we can post regatta reports and photos easily. She-Hulk bought the domain and I said I'd host it here since I've got scads of space and bandwidth for it. I figure the options are:

  • start the new blog within this installation of MT. (Simplest but I don't learn anything plus I probably end up with twice as much comment spam.)

  • Download MT 3.14. (Drawback is I either have to pay $70 for the full-featured version or use the free one which only allows one author - I'd like others to be able to post updates.)

  • Keep this blog on MT and use Wordpress for the new one, then eventually evaluate if I want to switch this one over. (I'm worrying over whether the two installations would conflict, and also if it would be harder to switch this one over later when the other is already started.)
  • Right now, I'm planning for the rowing site to have a front page with basic info, our charter, contact info and links to related sites, another page with our competition schedule, and a blog with regatta reports and photos.

  • Switch to WordPress for both. (But what if I hate it?)
  • Right now I'm leaning to options 2 or 4, but two minutes ago #3 sounded best, so I expect a few more changes of opinion before I decide. Feedback is welcome, especially if you have experience with WP or with installing new updates of MT.

    Posted by dichroic at 01:38 PM | Comments (2)


Oddly, I got more knitting done during lectures at rowing camp, and on Staurday evening, and less than I'd expected on the way to and from San Diego. The main issue was darkness: I can knit without looking, though more slowly, but it's a little scary when you've invested that much time into a project not to be able to check for mistakes often. I've gotten 11 (of 13) of the repeats in the main body done.

I was hoping to get to the decrease section before this evening, but last night was laundry, tonight is a flying lesson, and tomorrow we're cleaning out under our bed and taking it apart in preparation for having a new one delivered Friday. At least I will be into the decreases by the end of the weekend. I'm losing the race with the weather, though: it's been going up almost into the 80s this week, so I may not have much chance to wear the finished Clapotis this year. Sigh. Oh, well, winter comes every year and someday I will get out of Arizona.

Posted by dichroic at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2005

what I did in camp

Rowing camp was good. The coach explained things nicely, in biomechanical sort of terms so everything made sense to me and I understood why she was telling us to do what she was telling us to do. She had some things to tell us that I'd never heard before, or possibly had heard but hadn't understood in those terms, and was able to find lots of problems with my stroke.

This is a Good Thing: my stroke is fairly smooth and my form is reasonably good, but no rower is perfect. It's been very frustrating on many occasions to have a coach tell me "Oh, you're form is great, you just need a little more power" or whatever. I know there are things I need to improve, and moreover I can fix form issues, whereas I'm not likely to grow a foot and sprout large muscles. Patty filmed us and then went through the video frame by frame to find the smallest technique issues, including some she swears will yield us big dividends in speed. Also, she promises that if I fix a few things (hand position, earlier catch, more upright body, more compression) in addition to the rigging changes we made that will allow a higher stroke rate, I can be a lot faster despite my size, without having to do the sort of training that's not compatible with having an actual job and an actual life. No one has ever told me that before, ever ever ever.

I'm not sure I'd want to work with her fulltime; she has a belief in the inalienable rightness of coaches that I don't share, having spent too much time working with bad ones. (On the drive home I came up with my definition of a Bad Coach: anyone who can't spot problems with my stroke; anyone who tells their rowers to do different and conflicting things on different days; anyone who tells their rowers to use a style that doesn't make good biomechanical sense; anyone who, even if they know how to do things right, is unable to communicate it to rowers.) People who like being in unquestioned authority tend not to like working with me. I usually have a lot of questions and though I try to ask them in a respectful way, very authoritative coaches / teachers tend to get a little upset. Patty handled my questions well; her answers made sense and if she just wanted us (it wasn't only me!) to shut up for a bit she had no comunctions about saying so.

So yeah, I'm a little pumped up about rowing right now. Unfortunately the lake is still closed and will be until this weekend. And I think I'll still stay semi-retired until I finish my IFR, just because of finite discretionary time, but I'm definitely feeling the urge to get out on the water and play with some of my new technique.

The four of us (me, Rudder, She-Hulk, and our friend S) stayed in a comfortable condo right on Mission Bay, and there was a lot of laughing and talking involved. The best part was when we had everyone in the camp over Saturday night for a spaghetti dinner (planned and catered by She-Hulk). There was garlic involved. There were beer and wine and scandalous stories from two continents and from many regattas. There was gossip exchanged about mutual acquaintances. There were rowing tips passed on. (And J, maybe even some right-place-right-time-right-with-the-world tingles.)

I like Mission Bay - the beach and the water and the glorious weather and all the classic SoCal sights - surfers and seals, sailboats, shorts and spaghetti straps in January and the odd stuff you wouldn't see anywhere else, like the ferocious game of water polo we saw being played in kayaks. Along Mission Bay drive there are little groceries and nightclubs, sops where you can buy wetsuits and longboards, and one of the highest densities of tattoo parlors I've seen. There are prime people-watching opportunities on its sidewalk. From our condo living room with its big window facing the bay we should watch joggers and cyclists and walkers along the path fronting the bay. What it's lacking is the acrid, tawdry aste I always seem to get in at least some parts of LA. I could definitely live in San Diego.

Oh, and also, I proved that it is in fact possible to do a headstand in a rowing shell. I'll see if I can get that picture scanned in.....

Posted by dichroic at 02:11 PM | Comments (1)

January 14, 2005

rowing camp

I've got the usual pre-travel jitters, leading to agitation over such earth-shattering questions as: will I regret having chili for lunch on this afternoon's 6-hour drive? Will the scheduled 2-3 rows/day be too much, leading to shredded hands and an exhausted body? And how do we get to the boathouse in San Diego, anyhow?

Nevermind, it'll be fun - the chili will behave (probably), most of the rowing won't be very strenuous, and at least I can do something about that last one. And I get to spend a nice weekend with people I like on the water in Mission Bay. Sunshine is predicted for the weekend, and warm but not too warm temperatures. Saturday night we're feeding spaghetti to everyone in the rowing camp and we'll get to meet more people to hang out with when we travel to races. With luck I'll get both some ideas for maintenance training and then some help for when/if I get back into competition. I'll get a lot done on Clapotis on the drive. It will be good.

Posted by dichroic at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2005

improved feed and what to put in it

OK, I've gotten my RSS feed set so now you can read the full text of this at Livejournal (at Dichroic2) or Bloglines or wherever. (Though as Natalie points out the atom.xml feed already did have full text.)

Now, of course, the challenge would be to write things anyone actually wants to read.

For the knitters: Clapotis is now officially half-done - I'm half through the 7th of the 13 repeats in the middle section. However, the beginning took me a long time to figure out and it seems to be speeding up as I go, so I don't think it will take as long to do the second half. Also, I've got about 12 hours in the car this weekend, which should contribute enormously to available knitting time. (And motivation.)

Rowing: Those 12 hours will be spent getting to and from San Diego for rowing camp - this is run every year by Pattie Pinkerton, the USD womens' rowing coach and former Australian national team coach. We haven't gone before because the last two years we had only just gotten back from travel and didn't want to head out again, but this will be She-Hulk's third time and she's really liked it. Rudder and I both wimped out on working out again today (I did erg yesterday) so I'm a little worried I'll be too tired for some of the three on-the-water sessions a day the schedule shows, but we'll see. I keep reminding myself I did a marathon only two months ago and finished 200 km only two weeks ago and can't really be all that out of shape. I think I'll tell Patty I'm pulling back for this year and ask her to help me figure out a maintenance progam so I won't be too rusty or out of shape when / if I am ready to come back to it.

Also, this year I intend to keep logging workouts here but I won't be joining Fivehundred again unless I have a reason to set some distance-related goal sometime later this year. I made my 500 mile goal in 2003 (actually, I completed about 800 miles) and my 1000 mile goal last year. I don't need it for motivation; the need to train if I'm competing takes care of that, and if I'm not competing I don't think I need a distance goal. Still, it's a good site and anyone working on a fitness goal ought to consider it - it can be very helpful to have your numbers out there for the world to see.

Flying:I'm just under 20 hours into training now, working on VOR approaches and holds. The minimum training required for an IFR is 40 hours, but I'll take a lot more than that because at the beginning I had to spend a lot of time just burnishing off the rust - flying is definitely something that only shines in use - and because I need to build up a lot of time X-country time to meet the 50-hour requirement for the IFR rating.

Of course it's never a competition but all the same I was very disappointed, yesterday when I was reading the list of people who'd earned ratings at my school, to see the name of someone I don't respect much who had earned a private pilot rating in late 2003 and an IFR only 5 months later. I'm leff than halfway in and I've worked on this since September. There are lots of reasons: work (he had a much more flexible job), travel, racing, Christmas holidays, and so on, and if there's anything stupider than comparing yourself to someone else on this I don't know what it is (well, I can thin k of a few things :-) but still, it leaves me feeling I should do better.

Guilt can be useful. At least it nagged me into doing some of the reading/studying for this I'd been neglecting.

Politics: I heard something on BBC radio news yesterday that had me growling. Yesterday a plane 3 hours out of England, flying to NYC, was turned back because there was a man on board whose name was on the do-not-fly list. The pilot was told the man wouldn't be allowed to land in the US and so he had to turn the whole plane around. Correction: he chose to turn the whole plane arund and fly back to London. But they gave him the option to land in Bangor, Maine instead.


So is Maine now not part of the US? Or does the FAA just not care what happens up there?

More to the point, why could they have not just had someone meet the plane and question the man, especially given the number of mistakes there have been over that list? Clearly they weren't to worried about the man taking over the plane or they wouldn't have given the pilot the Maine option - at 747 speeds, you're not *that* far from some major targets. I really really hate when my country makes itself look that stupid.

Work: I'm beginning to feel more productive lately, and that I'm starting to learn what I need to do here. Now I need to go from there and start getting a lot more done - it's easy to get in bad habits when you don't have enough to do or you seem to be floating aimlessly. Enough of that.

Plans & Goals: I've been seeing a few 101 in 1001 lists lately on various websites - 101 things you'd like to accomplish in 1001 days. I'm flummoxed at the idea of having 101 goals - either they'd have to be mostly tiny ones, or else I'd feel uselessly overwhelmed. Also, I really have little idea of what I want to be doing three years from now. Most of my goals are limited to the next year or even next few months or else they're vaguer lifetime things I just want to do at some indeterminate time. Here are a few things I do know.

In the next year, I'd like to: knit some socks including some well-done enough for Rudder to wear (because he likes them, not just because I made them). Knit myself a sweater or two, including one with sleeves. Finish my IFR and stay current. Get a lot more comfortable flying, including long-distance flying. Get to the point where both I and my boss think I am good at my job. Stay reasonably fit. Get my finances back in shape - this IFR has led to credit card debt and I need to stop that.

In the next three years: Move OUT OF ARIZONA finally (or at least out of the hot part of it) and maybe even out of the country for a year or two. (Or the international part could come later - no rush there.) Either get back into competitive rowing or move on into some other sport. Keep flying. Get better at saving / investing. Keep gaining increasingly responsible work experience.

In the next decade: build a house or at least a hangar with an apartment on our airpark property. Buy a plane. Figure out a direction to go careerwise and move on it, or else shift careers entirely (but to what?). Take a year or half-year off just to travel around the country. Widen and deepen my circle of friends. Keep working on that tact thing. Find people to sing with. (Not perform, or necessarily even sing well - just sing.)

I could probably come up with 101 goals, but for a lfietime, not just in the next 101 days. One thing that did occur to me is that, if I could persuade Rudder to do it, we ought to look into joining the local SCA. I think he's afraid the people would be too loopy for him (whereas I'd expect to find the sort of F&SF people I've always enjoyed, though I'd expect some loopy types too even from my viewpoint) , and he's never found the local RenFaire more than mildly entertaining. But I think it would solve some of our problems: a new circle of people to meet, swordplay for a new physical activity, people for me to sing with, fun things like catapults and trebuchets for him to build. And people for me to talk history with. I don't know much about the local branch though - I know there is one but not how big or how fun, how open to playing with stereotypes or hung up on authenticity, or how friendly. It might be interesting to check out sometime, though. Another one for the "sometime" list.

Hmm. It can certainly be debated whether I'm entertaining (or just prone to logorrhea) but no one can say I'm not offering variety: blogging, knitting, rowing, flying, life goals, SCA-ding, and even a gratuitous Tennyson reference. (Virtual prizes for identifying it.)

Posted by dichroic at 01:11 PM | Comments (2)


This is a test.

This is only a test.

For the next several lines I will be entering this sort of nonsense. Please ignore this message.

I'm trying to figure out how to get my RSS feed to send out the full text of entries here. I've changed a template and think I need to update to see an updated feed.

I don't know if anyone actually cares about seeing the feed of this site, but just in case I'm trying to make it easier to access. One of these days I may actually do something like updating to a newer version of MT or switching over to one of the other blog-management tools. Though this seems to be working well enough at the moment.

There, that should be long enough.

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

January 12, 2005

attached stories

Current jewelry, aside from the watch and engagement ring, which doesn't really count, is made only of glass, silver, and wood. Somehow I like the basicness of that. I also like that each thing has a story.

I don't really count the watch and ring because I wear them every day but there are things to say about both. The watch has a solar battery, with the charging panel as its face. Because of this I'm always pushing up long sleeves a bit so it doesn't sit in the dark all day and go dead on me; though it must charge quickly because this has never happened, no matter how long and thick my sleeves. The ring is the engagement ring only; the jeweler made it 1/4 size small and the wedding ring 1/2 size too small so they wouldn't fall off, and at the time I never considered that I'd actually want to take them off for rowing. My wedding ring is thin and it's absolutely plain, in the Jewish tradition, so it can be worn with the engagement ring. However, I have short stubby fingers and don't like the look of two rings together unless they're made to look like one, so between that and the fact that it's hard to get on and off, I rarely wear my wedding ring. The engagement ring is so pretty that people are always noticing it for the first time, thinking they couldn't possibly have missed noticing it before (apparently they could have) and asking if I've just gotten engaged. This has happened quite a few times, when I've changed jobs or for whatever reason been spending time with a new group of people.

The earrings are blue and turquoise glass surrounded by silver. I wear them often, because they go well with so many clothes. I bought them in Portsmouth, NH, during that long awful of 2001 that I spent away from Rudder in (very) snowy Worcester, MA. There were a few high points to that winter, though: proper wintery weather, starting this journal (at its original Diaryland site) and getting to pay a couple of visits to my friend SWooP up in Maine, and to meet her husband and her remarkable daughter. That was when we visited Portsmouth, which is full of little galleries selling nifty bits of glass, and when I bought the earrings, so they remind me of a good day with people I like.

The necklace has bits of silver chain interspersed with tiny blue and tinier yellow beads, and I made it myself. It's always a good feeling to wear something you've made, especially if it's well done enough that it's not completely obvious you've made it.

My hair is up in a twist. In it is a stick, pencil-sized but with four sides. It's made of a reddish wood and on one side at the top an artist has inlaid tiny bits of turquise and agate. It is the only thing keeping all of my hair up, and it's holding just fine. I love the basicness of the wood, and of an entire hairstyle based on one plain stick.

I do have some fancier jewelry: some rubies Rudder gave me, pearls, an emerald pendant, a small sapphire ring. I tend to wear my simplest things most often. What I really love in my possessions, though, in jewelry as well as other things, is when they have a story or a memory attached.

Posted by dichroic at 01:46 PM | Comments (1)

leaving the country

If you're watching next week's inauguration on TV, look for a hole in the crowd. That will be where my uncle isn't. He lives in DC, but leaves for Mexico today. It's undeniable that he's going to Acapulco largely because he wants to go to Acapulco, but a strong reason for going right now is that he wants to miss the inauguration. It's not just a matter of crowds and security; he didn't leave for the Million Man March or the March for Women's Lives or many another event that brought crowds to town. Washington has the capacity to handle crowds fairly well, because they do it a lot. As for the security, he points out that blocking a train station close to the ceremony isn't terribly effective when would-be bad-guys can just get out a station earlier and walk. DC just isn't all that big.

Mostly he's going now because he doesn't want to see a man he despises inaugurated for a second term, and as a quiet protest so that he can't even be assumed to approve. I'm telling his story here to give his protest a (very slightly) wider audience.

If 20 people read this today, that will be 20 more who know about him. If those people mention it to a few others, there's that many more. Possibly more important, if a few of you reading are from other countries you will know that Americans do not have a monolithic opinion and that there are plenty of average people who question our government. It's not only radical leftists who dislike Bush, or even only people who have been hurt by his policies. My uncle is, obviously, well off enough to travel. He has both health insurance and a decent retirement plan. And he's a Vietnam veteran. He just doesn't like the man whom he believes is bad for his country.

I don't want to give the impression that he's bailing out in petulance. When he comes back he'll go back to his job, working on this country's infrastructure. And like a lot of us, he'll talk to his friends and express his ideas and support causes he believes in, and in 4 years, he'll vote his conscience again. I hope he has a good time in Mexico.

Posted by dichroic at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2005

on monogamy

I was just reading a fascinating article on Evangelical Christians and how they do just about as much drinkin' and wenchin' and just about as little helpin' and givin' as the rest of us. (Referred by someone else's journal but her entry is locked so I won't refer back.) The reason it was fascinating is that it appeared in Christianity Today and was written by an Evangelical as a desperate plea to his fellows to live by their own beliefs to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, rather than as a sneering piece by a heathen like me. Disclaimer: I do know a few Xtians who can be determined by their attempts to live by Jesus' words. Not too many, though.

What I would have liked is to have seen similar statistics, rigorously analyzed, on the behavior of Jews, Muslims, pagans, and so on. I suspect Muslims owuld have outdone most of the rest of us in time spent reading the Koran, adherence to its laws, and in donation to the poor. (My only quarrel with the extreme fundies there is in their interpretation of the laws they're following and in their apparent belief that nonbelievers are subhuman. But talk to a nonradical but observant Muslim for a lesson in living within a faith.) Personal experience has suggested that even less observant Jews are much more likely than Christians to donate to causes they believe in, and that both pagans and Christians in more liberal denominations (e.g. UUs, though of course referring to them as Christians is a whole 'nother debate) are more likely to be working within their community to help others.

The one thing I think is especially funny is the concern at the rate of adultery and divorce among Xtians. Here's the thing: marriage (or equivalent lifetime committed relationship) is hard. At least it is if it's done right. On second thought, that's the wrong word. It's not hard, in the sense of being difficult. It does require constant work and attention, like a garden, but like a garden (if you're a gardener - I'm going by hearsay here) it's mostly rewarding and pleasant work. The thing people rarely mention is that once you've got that part going, monogamy is surprisingly easy.

No, really. Of course I have to insert a disclaimer here, that this is based only on my own experience, but I do have 14.5 years of that to draw on. There are only two prerequisites, both of which I seem to have achieved, though possibly more by luck than by virtue or good planning. You have have married the person you'd rather sleep with than just about anyone else, at least in the long term, and you have to have enough of a sense of consequences to not want to do anything that would cause more pain than pleasure, at least on important issues. Clearly the second of those isn't universal or there would be no petty criminals. As for the first, since I've met Rudder I haven't met anyone else with whom I would rather be in a relationship - a few people with whom I'd otherwise have enjoyed being friends-with-benefits or a few dates, yes, but no one who didn't have big gaping flaws, comparatively, for anything longer. At this point, I find it highly unlikely I'd meet someone better; I could conceivably meet someone equivalent but then it would be the equivalent person with whom I have the 15-year history versus the one without - so not really equivalent after all.

If I did meet someone like that I would still stay faithful because I vowed, and I keep my promises; what I'm saying, though, is in a decade and a half that I haven't even been more than fleetingly tempted.

This almost demands a digression on polyamory, before someone else brings it up. None of the above is about it at all, really. I don't think polyamory is particularly wrong. For me it comes down to vows and promises kept: if all involved agree on the parameters, then I think it's fine. In most cases I've seen, it does look more considerably difficult; there are just more resources and constraints to track and juggle, and more responsibility for each person to make sure they're getting what they need and being fair to all others concerned. Whether it yields concomitantly more joy is something I haven't yet seen enough to judge on; I suspect, as with most human things, that in some cases it does and for some people it doesn't. At any rate, I see a huge difference between having agreed-on multiple partners vs just sleeping around on your spouse: the former is an alternate arrangement, while the latter breaks vows.

But yeah, once you have the marriage in place, and if you work just a little to maintain it, then the monogamy is easy. Maybe that's why the fundamentalist types make such a big deal of it, or rather why their Bible does. (I believe there's a lot of wisdom in the Bible, though not always in those who follow it blindly - I love that I come from a tradition that encourages study, question, and interpretation of everything.) I can imagine it being easy to slip once, say if you're apart for a long time, but I would think anything bigger than that is a sign that you're either not married to the right person or not working to be the right person. And that is serious. If you're not attached, that's one thing; if you are in a committed relationship, it's liable to be the biggest factor in your life, and so part of the glass through which you view the rest of the world. If that gets distorted, how can you see anything clearly? And to get back the article that started this line of thought, why would anyone else trucst your moral view?

Posted by dichroic at 12:16 PM | Comments (6)

tree-huggers united

I'm not usually a big of "art installations", but I love this one.

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

January 10, 2005


At the local Borders yesterday: Bear 1, Scalzi 0. That is, they had a copy of Hammered but none of Old Man's War. Drat. (I was hoping to buy both.)

I escaped having spent about 250% of the amount of the gift card I'd gone to use in the first place and about 200% of the time I'd planned: the aforementioned Hammered, an Eva Cassidy CD, the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook, and a ridiculously cheap nice hardcover of The Once and Future King. The sad thing is that they were offering "buy two get one free" on the bargain tables (oddly expressed as "buy three and the third is free" but I think they meant they'd charge for two) and I could only find two books I wanted. So I gave up on the one I wanted less, since I obviously wouoldn't be getting a freebee anyway.

The extra time the trip took was because of the sock book, the CD, and the Lord of the Rings I was considering. Decising between two different books doesn't take me long at all, though I confess my most common solution is to buy both if I can. It's deciding between similar things that takes me forever. Eva Cassidy made about 5 or 6 albums, and there are a lot of songs on more than one of them. Furthermore, though I love her singing, she covered a lot of tunes I'm thoroughly sick of (e.g. From a Distance), a few I don't mind (What a Wonderful World) and a few I'm eager to hear (An American Tune - I like both the Simon and Garfunkel original and the Indigo Girls' cover and am eager to hear Eva's - and Autumn Leaves). Every one of her albums contains songs in all three categories as well as some I don't know, so picking one is a balancing act and I finally ended up using a math formula where I added 1 for songs I want and subtracted 1 for songs I want to avoid. It occurs to me now that for artists like Eva who aren't too obscure it might be better to shop song by song over on iTunes.

Then I got to debate between the Sock Workbook, another book called Socks! and Elizabeth Simmerman's Knitting Without Tears. For socks specifically, the one I got seemed best, though it spends a lot of time on dying and spinning yarn, in which I'm not too interested at the moment. (Note: Natalie, if you read this, you need this book.) However, I like their "this is how to build a sock, so now you can figure out your own" approach. The EZ book does that too, but the directions seemed a bit trickier and the diagrams weren't as good. Still, EZ and KwT had such an impact on American knitting in general that I have a feeling the book has a place in a future buying spree.

Finally, Lord of the Rings. Please don't tell anyway but the horrid truth is I haven't ever read it. Skiffy-geek though I am, I haven't read the Foundation books, either; I have some slight allergy to reading things I'm supposed to read. (Also, I've skimmed the Foundation books, and don't think I'd like them, though I do like Asimov's Robot books -- right up until they intersect the Foundation history.) Still, I've always been fairly sure I'd like the Tolkien. I did enjoy the Hobbit and liked the LoTR movies well enough - I'm not a movie person and generally like books far better. So I've been meaning to get a set of Tolkien to dive into. The all-in-one editions, sets or matched books available at Borders yesterday ranged from $20 for a softcover single volume to $100 for a fancy leatherbound one. My favorite was an edition in separate volumes for $27 each - well laid out, nice paper - but that still seemed a little steep. The problem, amid that plethora of choice, was that I could get a cheap edition or I could get one that did NOT say "Now an epic motion picture," but not both. I didn't want to spend a fortune on books that are not yet favorites, but I also refuse to buy a classic in a movie-ized edition. So I spent way too much time debating the virtues of all these editions, but ended up not buying any of them. Maybe the thing to do, especially given the number of people that may have bought the books after the movies came out, is to check out the used book stores. (I don't mind profiting from the movie, I just don't want it to be the guiding principle of my edition.) Or maybe I should just mention in a few places that it's something I want. I do have a birthday coming up in a couple of months... (Hm, who do I know that's both related to me (and so has to buy a gift) and especially good at sniffing out used books? And sometimes reads this?)

I justified the book purchases at least partlky because I did *not* spend any miney at the big sale at my Local Yarn Store (LYS). I was there but had to be across town in forty minutes to go flying and the line stretched around the store. Besides, I was only getting 25% off (they had you take a chocolate bar with the amount you'd save, from 20-50%, printed inside the wrapper) and can probably do that well just buying online. Does it count as "saving" if it's because you're rushing off to go spend money to rent an airplane?

Sorry if the above entry is dull; it's entirely incredible how interesting I find it to talk about bookshopping, and for how long.

Posted by dichroic at 12:35 PM | Comments (2)

oh, Pooh!

Saw this at Batten's place:

You are Pooh Bear.
Indulgence is not a bad word as far as you're
concerned, your confidence in being yourself is
what matters more than all that.
The most loyal of friends and always good fun to be
around, everyone needs someone like you in
their life.

Which Pooh character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

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

January 09, 2005

clapotis interruptus

Actually not so much interruptus as in flagrate delicto. Here she is, just short of half done:

A closeup of the colors:

And one more that's neither stretched out nor zoomed in:

It's Noro Silk Garden, colorway 50, by the way. I just hope I finish it while it's still cool enough to wear it, at least a few times.

Posted by dichroic at 07:15 PM | Comments (3)

January 07, 2005

feeling Lucy van Pelt-ish

I can tell I'm in an impatient mood. I went out at lunch to pick up some Chinese food and happed to be listening to Nancy Griffith's Other Voices, Other Rooms in the car. The giveaway was when I noticed I kept making up slightly revised lyrics to the songs she was singin. Sample verse from Bob Dylan's Spanish Leather:

How the f*** can you ask me again?
I have told you over and over
The same damned thing that I tell you today,
I would tell to you tomorrow.

See what I mean? I think I've been feeling a little crabby since just after Christmas. Mostly I think it's a post-holiday let-down thing; I feel like there's nothing much to look forward to, eventhough that's not strictly true. (We have a weekend in San Diego for rowing camp in a couple of weeks, for instance.) Still, I won't have much time off work until at least this summer.

This mood's probably been a little hard on Rudder. I had to bite my tongue hard last night to keeping from telling him to piss off or simply thwapping him with my mug. On the other hand, as I tell him, just because sometimes I react more drastically than others, doesn't mean I'm not annnoyed by the same things all the times. It just means that sometimes I show less reaction.

For some reason he particularly annoys me when he talks about my flying or flight-planning; it just feels like he drones on and on and on about it. And leans on my map and gets in my way. And tells me what to do like I'm an idiot. And tells me two different things two minutes apart. And did I mention that he goes ON and ON and ON?

I think I just have a low tolerance for flying talk in general just because it does tend to go on so long. Possibly also because when I was getting my private pilot rating I worked in an Air Force lab and Rudder had only recently completed his. So I got advice at work and I got advice at home until it's a wonder I didn't give up on the whole thing out of sheer stupidheaded rebellion. It probably exacerbates the whole issue that I'm a little dissatisfied with my flight school at the moment. Too many lessons cancelled due to issues with the airplanes and I'm not as thrilled with my teachers as I was with my first CFI, the one I worked with for my first rating. They're OK, just not great. I could move to another FBO (=flight school) but the others are at the next airport over, a 15-20 minute drive instead of 2 minutes, which makes getting to lessons before or right after work more difficult.

I'm also probably crabby either because I'm exercising less at the moment or because I'm feeling guilty about exercising less. But then if I worked out more I'd go back to being crabby at having to get up way too early and fit that in with the flying. Anyway the lake's still closed (becaue it's a river at the moment) so it's a moot point right now, as far as rowing goes.

So yeah, the reason's still in doubt, but the crabbiness is definitely here.

Posted by dichroic at 12:38 PM | Comments (2)

Alert: abusive bill in VA

This is why you need to keep an eye on women's rights. You. Yes, you. All persons of good will (among which group Virginia delegate John Cosgrove is patently not included). I know some of you who read this are anti-abortion. Some of you have beliefs on many other issues that are very different than mine. However, I can't imagine anyone who is interested in reading this site (more than once, anyway) would disagree with me that women are full human beings, deserving of respect both for the abilities they share with men and for their unique biological capabilities, and this bill flies in the face of both.

I read about this first from Twisted Chick via Bafleyanne but then I went and read the bill for myself rather than relying only on their interpretations. The bill would require all terminations of pregnancies to be reported in the first 12 or 24 hours, depending on whether a doctor is present. You think that's fine? Read the sentence again: ALL termination of pregnancy. That means spontaneous miscarriages, too.

As they say in Texas, that just ain't right.

Warning: the next bit was written with a sledgehammer, deliberately. Please skip a paragraph if you're feeling emotionally fragile.

This has happened to friends of mine recently - too many of them. Picture it. You long to have a baby. You dream about having a baby. You try hard to conceive. And - joy, wonder, delight - you do. And you carry a little clump of rapidly multiplying cells, feeling all the changes in your body, and dreaming dreams of holding a baby, sending a child off to school, sniffling at your grown baby's wedding - all the things that have become cliches because they're so universally felt. And then something goes wrong, either with your body or your baby. You bleed, you cramp, you miscarry, you cry, and you try to deal with having to rebuild your dreams without that baby in them. And then you have to report to your state within 12 hours, while you're still in shock and quite possibly still in pain, or risk being charged with a Class 1 (i.e. serious) misdemeanor.

It's possible Delegate Cosgrove is just an idiot, stupid rather than evil, and that he's only trying to prevent dumpster babies and coat-hanger abortions. The problem is that in his position, idiocy can lead to dire pain and consequences for some of his constituents. There's a quote from Robert Heinlein: "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity." I submit that at a certain level, including that of elected state or federal representatives, stupidity is villainy, because of its potential to do great harm.

If you live in Virginia call or write your state representatives. If you live elsewhere, keep an eye on yours.

Posted by dichroic at 09:09 AM | Comments (1)

January 06, 2005

late but not unneeded

I was reading somewhere (a few places, actually) the other day about how Americans aren't terribly interested in the tsunami tragedy, how our news is only reporting American casualties or whether a similar tsunami might occur here, and how we don't really care about the rest of the world.

While it's true we do usually look at world events from an America-centered viewpoint (well, where else would we be viewing from?) that's not really what I've been seeing this time. I get most of my news on NPR, which might as well have subtitled itself "All Tsunami, All the Time" this week. It's true the morning network news is reporting less of it, but it is there (and despite being a "news" show; they don't really focus much on US news either, preferring to concentrate on weather, traffic, and great ideas to organize your kitchen or similar hard-edged reporting). I also look at Yahoo news, where it's been in the top three stories consistently.

Americans are responding, too. The American Red Cross alone has had over $100 million pledged -- according to NPR, as much as they got after September 11. I suspect the total of private contributions is much higher: the Red Cross was the primary agency we donated to after 911, while here it's working alongside Oxfam and UNICEF and a host of others. According to NPR, private contributions may rival the amount the US government has pledged. And maybe that's as it should be: unlike many of the other countries deeply involved in the relief effort, we don't have a socialist economy. We pay much lower taxes and leave a lot more up to private initiative. You can argue endlessly about whether our system is better or worse, but that's the system we have right now and within its context, it may be appropriate to have this balance. Amazonand Google have programs to help people donate; United Airlines is helping people donate dollar and miles and announced today that Chase Bank it matching funds donated with United credit cards, and so on.

I'm NOT saying the US has given more than others: for one thing it's not a competition and for another, it's not true. The Australian response, especially, has been mind-blowing, and that goes for both public and private contributions. Médecins Sans Frontières, which has an especially good reputation for its work in the region, has received so much aid worldwide that it's fending off further donations for the tsunami effort.

It's also undeniable that the USa little slow off the mark in responding. I can think of two reasons for that: the week between Christmas and New Year's Day is the closest thing we have to a shutdown week, and many people are also less likely to watch the news then. Also, simply, it's far away from us, both geographically and psychically. Americans don't go to Thailand or Indonesia in the numbers Aussies do. And maybe we are a little calloused to bad news from far away; we get so much of it that sometimes it's hard to feel the enormity of each calamity, and right now we are trying somehow to deal with all the news of carnage in Iraq. So, while this may not be especially justifiable, the truth is that for a lot of us it just took a while to percolate through that this was different and on a far bigger scale than anything we'd seen.

So we were a bit late in responding; thak goodness countries like Canada and Australia were not. However, from what I've been hearing, Indonesia and other countries hit hard will be rebuilding for decades, not months. There's plenty of room to pitch in; immediate aid was crucial but now it's more important to donate than to argue about how soon we should have donated. And it will be most important of all to follow through on donation pledges.

Yes, we do have news stories asking "Could This Happen Here?" I tend to think that's about fear, more than narcissism. If we pitch in now, we Americans don't have anything to be ashamed of in our response. Unless we either don't learn from this or don't fulfill our promises: then we will deserve shame.

Posted by dichroic at 01:57 PM | Comments (1)

January 05, 2005

my favorite band I've never heard

Oh my goodness. I may need to buy something from here.

Posted by dichroic at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

stitching, with the bitching part later

Last night I went to my first real Stitch'n'Bitch meeting (though I had met a few local members at the not-quite-a-sleepover Alison held a while back). The turnout was pretty incredible, considering there was a tornado warning on the North side of town and there had been hail a little earlier in my area. There must have been forty people crowded into a back room at Changing Hands. Of course people ended up splitting into smaller clusters so I didn't get to meet most of them, but I did meet Ilanna, Shannon, Kimberly, Brooke, Jack, Gina, and Pam's friend Kim, and got to meet Pam again. Too bad Alison couldn't come. It was a good time. I showed Gina how to cast on, knit and purl, or rather refreshed her memory, since she'd known how before and picked it up again right away. I also got about 8 rows done on my Clapotis and learned how to pronounce it properly from Shannon - well, in the interest of full verity I did 7 rows and just enough of the 8th to do the cool drop-stitch part - and got to see Pam's striped scarf, Ilanna's legwarmers, Jen's (?) Ribby cardigan, and lots of other projects. Also, nobody laughed at all the obvious mistakes in my poncho. (Nobody really seemed to notice them, which in a room full of knitters is reassuring.) The Silk Garden I'm using for the Clapotis got a lot of attention, because the colors are so pretty. I really like the weight and feel of it myself; my only complaint is that it breaks every few rows. I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks now I'm up to full width, where the stripes will be narrower (because there are more stitches in each row).

I got to bed around nine; unfortunately Rudder got up to erg at 4. It's hard for me to sleep through the erg, though I should have just put in earplugs. It was impossible this time, though, because he kept hitting the end of the slides it's on. So I complained about that, gave up and got up to go to the gym, came home and we had a bit of a blowout. I think we may have reached the decision that There Will Be Quiet Time Until 5AM - I figure if he can't row on the lake until then (due to lake rules) there should be no reason he needs to erg before that, especially as all the drive time is saved. I really started out just complaining about the wall-thumping sounds when he hit the end of the slides, but the frustrations of being woken up way too early for the last 5 years crept in, I'm afraid. Oops.

Posted by dichroic at 12:06 PM | Comments (1)

January 04, 2005


L'Empress left me an interesting comment the other day: You're in the process of resetting your priorities, whether you realize it or not." I'm not sure she's right, but I'm not sure she's not, either.

I am definitely trying to set my priorities in regard to rowing, at any rate. One thing that's just occurred to me is that no matter what I decide about training and competing, I'm going to need to do at least some rowing, because I need to be on the water every so often. I don't know that I need to row, specifically, but I need to be in or on the element of water. (I don't care what Mendeleev said, in my psyche there are the four classic elements, and of those I respond to fire and water most. Then air. I don't have as much affinity with earth, which is probably why I've got no interest in gardening.)

One of the times I'd repeat from 2004, if I could, was being on the boat to Antarctica. We were with about 150 other people who were adventurous enough to either want to go there or want to crew on an adventure voyage, and I enjoyed that, but the part that touched the deepest chord was seeing water all around me, whether being down in it in a kayak or zodiac or just being rocked to sleep in two dimensions with spray flying outside the window.

The other memory I'd revisit was the trip to Natchitoches, and it is probably not coincidental that that one involved travel and water as well - five and a half hours on Cane River Lake, once part of the Red River and connecting to the Mississippi, and the whole weekend beside and in view of the water.

Anyhow, I've figured one way to reconnect with the Antarctic trip. I've finally found a copy of the movie they showed on board, about a tall shiop sailing around Cape Horn in the last days of sailing. I've finally found it online and have just bought the DVD from the Mystic River Seaport Museum. I'm looking forward to seeing the video; you can practically feel the spray and smell salt water.

Posted by dichroic at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

more bucks for the bang

Hey - those of you who work for Corporate Wherever, if you're donating to any of the charities working on tsunami relief, don't forget to check first if your place does matching donations. There's nothing up about it on my company's website (probably because this is only the second day we're back) but I've got a call in to the appropriate coordinator. I hadn't decided who to donate to (my top current choice is only accepting funds online, which I don't want to do from work) but I'll wait for that callback to try to double my impact. (Later: There's a press release. Now I just have to decide whether to donate through the company or direct to a charity as I usually do. )


I'm wearing my poncho today. Mistake-ridden it may be but after all that work I've got to get at least a little wear out of it, and anyway it went so well with a plain brown shirt ad flowing brown skirt that I decided to wear it instead of the sweater I'd originally planned. Unfortunately after all that work I made it too big and it's falling off my shoulders. I may need to see if I can unravel the (bastardized triple-needle join) seam and take five or so inches off of it. I did try it on as I was making it but was afraid it would be too tight and would bind my arms to my sides, plus it's a little tricky to get an accurate fit with a needle in there. (Yes, I know, I could have slid the stitches onto a piece of scrap yarn. I'm still new at this, remember?)

Posted by dichroic at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2005

learning fast

The beauty part of being a fairly new knitter is that you learn loads of new things on each project. I've just gotten to the point of dropping my first stitch on Clapotis (last night-yay!) and so far I've learned a bunch:

  • Choosing yarn: when you're using a yarn like Noro Silk Garden, which has very long sections of each color, when you buy the yarn try to find pick out balls such that each one starts with the color the last one ends in. (I didn't, so some of my color changes may be a little abrupt.)
  • Splicing breaks: I don't think I knit all that tightly, but this yarn breaks all the time (about 6 times in the first ball - some colors seem to be more fragile than others.) Thank goodness I'd read about spit-splicing on the Knitlist or I'd have wasted a lot of yarn. I don't think spit-splicing would work on all yarns, but it worked so well on this one that I used it to start a new ball, too, so I won't have any loose ends. You can use water instead of spit if you're squeamish. You just get both ends really wet, overlap an inch or two, and rub them together quickly in your palms. In other words, you're essentially spinning the two pieces of yarn together into one attached piece.
  • Counters: For me at least, a clicker counter works much better than the kind you have to turn to up the count. I'm more likely to remember to hit it at the end of each row, probably because it's more fun to use.
  • Stitch markers: Those first stitch markers that I bought from Michael's, the plain rings that I didn't like because they're too small for larger needles and can't be removed in the middle of a row, turn out to be much better for this project than the plastic safety-pin sort of things or the beaded ones I made from memory wire. I am using the plastic ones to mark every 12th row, though, so I know how many repeats I'm up to. The lesson for me was that different kinds of counters work better in different applications. (It may be obvious, but it wasn't to me, until now.)
  • Yarn-Overs: I saw someone else asking about this on the Knitlist just today. Apparently YO in a pattern may or may not count as a stitch. I've seen it where it meant to wind the yarn around the needle and knit 1, but in this case (I figured out from counting stitches) it just meant to wrap the yarn around then do whatever it called for next. Or for all I know, maybe it never implies taking the next stitch, but sometimes you can't tell (for instance, if a pattern says "YO and k to next marker") and as I say, I'm clearly not the only one confused.

So that's what I've learned in school today while knitting Clapotis, and I suspect I'll know more before I'm done.

If you're wondering, I'm not writing about rowing because I'm not doing it much, though we did go out one day last week. Not only is there my retirement issue to consider, but the lake is closed. We've gotten so much rain that they've lowered the dam to let the Rio Salado flow as a river, for the very first time since the lake was created, about 5 years ago now. This is a very good thing for this drought-ridden state.

I am flying a bit, or trying to - yesterday I was supposed to do a cross-country to our airpark property, but ater much struggling with the planning I had to cancel due to weather. That is, it was a perfectly nice day for most purposes, but there were warnings of mountain obscuration. 8000-foot overcast cloud ceilings are not a good thing when you need to fly at 9500 feet to avoid mountains. I'll try it again this Saturday, weather permitting, which right now it's not forecast to do.

Posted by dichroic at 04:29 PM | Comments (2)

one death at a time

This has been a horrible, horrible holiday, not for me personally but in a wider sense. Two online listsibs lost their mothers in the weeks just before Christmas. I've just heard that a work acquaintance, someone I worked with fairly closely at my last posting, lost his daughter in a car accident on Christmas Day. Not only does he have to bury a child, which always seems the worst of personal tragedies, but his his three-year-old grandaughter (named Seven, oddly) is now motherless.

And of course this all pales in contrast to the tsunami death toll. Last I heard it's up to 144,000 and the news is rife with stories of parents whose children were ripped from their arms.

I'm not callous to the news, but somehow the deaths of people I know or of people close to the ones I know affect me more than those thousands in Indonesia. It's probably a universal human failing, but in another way it's not really a failing. I think it's because 144,000 deaths don't mean anything. They are a news item, an impersonal statistic I can't really understand on any emotional level. One death means something; one death can rend the world. Each of those 144,000 deaths rends the world for those that loved the dead person. It's not a tragedy, it's 144,000 individual tragedies. Some of them are even sadder, in a way, because no one's world will be rent, because every single person who knew or loved that dead one has also died.

It's going to be strange next year, when for some people Christmas will be the usual season of joy and for many, many, it will be the anniversary of tears.

Posted by dichroic at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2005

old year and new year

I don't quite understand this. While there were many high points to 2004 that I can sum up easily - began the year in Antarctica, competed in and saw friends at Masters Nationals, did fairly well coxing in the Head of the Charles, completed a marathon, changed jobs, reducing my commute and getting a substantial raise, and beginning to work on my Instrument Flight Rating, our visit to the in-laws in summer and theirs to us at Xmas -- somehow my basic feelings for the year can be summed up as "Meh." There were parts of it that were wonderful, like the time on the Akademik Ioffe (the boat we were on to Antarctica) and the trip to Natchitoches for the marathon, I just don't feel especially excited or accomplished about the year overall. I have no idea why, but Rudder seems to feel the same.

We ended up staying home last night, with movies rented, Chandon champagne and shrimp on the barbie for dinner, and the evening went by immoderately quickly, then we slept in to an unheard of hour - nearly 10AM. This is what happens when you stay up past 8, I suppose.

I'm supposed to be flight-planning for a cross-country trip tomorrow. I don't like flightplanning much, because it's both tedious and scary (in that my neck depends on doing it right). Still, I'll have both an instructor and Rudder along for the actual trip. I suppose I should quit procrastinatig and get back to it.

Posted by dichroic at 01:55 PM | Comments (1)