February 28, 2005


Drat. Yay. Not sure which.

Rudder's off on a business trip for a few days, so I did what I usually do to treat myself in his absence: I got a massage. Afterward, oddly, they told me it was prepaid and charged me only for the tip.

I thought maybe there was a mistake; they work on a membership basis, where a membership fee buys you one free session a month and reduced rates for any others. But they seemed fairly sure, so I took the gift of the Fates.

Shortly after I got home, Rudder called. It turns out what it was, was not the gift of the Fates but that of the Rudder. He bought me a three-month membership for my birthday, and told them it was not to start until March 10, but apparently they're better at effleurage than at thinking there. Or reading a calendar.

So yay for a massage a month, but drat for the spoiled surprise. I believe I will just be sensible about this ... and treat myself to a reduced-rate rubdown on or near my birthday.

Posted by dichroic at 08:22 PM | Comments (0)

restaurant review

Rudder and I have a new candidate for Most Romantic Restaurant in Town (actually, just outside town). We've been to a lot of the other candidates, and though we've been impressed with some, we never thought they were as romantic as billed. At some, Rudder hasn't been impressed with the food - he's not a big fan of cuisine that attempts the unusual just to be unusual, or puts sweet sauces on all the meats or that doesn't provide enough food to be filling. (He's not just a meat-and-potatoes man; he's more adventurous an eater than thatt, but I think he wants those basics fulfilled before a chef starts trying to get fancy.) At others, the atmosphere hasn't been terribly conducive to romance.

For some specific examples, at Wrigley Mansion, I liked my meal, but Rudder didn't like his food at all. The mansion itself is beautiful and the view from its hilltop is amazing, but we didn't have a view at the table, and the room layout was very open so that we didn't feel secluded from other tables. At T. Cook's, the food was excellent (my journal entry from that day says I had lobster tortellini and he had a steak) but the atmosphere was romantic only if you believe that anything French Provincial is so by definition. Actually I'd call the decor "French barn"; we loved the look of the building and would like a house designed that way, but it was light and open, with again, no seclusion from other tables. The worst for romance may be Fleming's. We've been there several times, because they have the best steaks in town and one of the best wine selections. The room is darkened, with wine displayed around the walls and the service is always good. However, they also have a high noise level and a TV at the bar that faces into (and can be heard from) the restaurant. Maybe it's just me, but I consider "TV" and "romance" to be antonyms.

OK, so. On Friday night we went out to celebrate Rudder's annual bonus, and had decided to try a place I'd heard about in the Indian reservation just south of us. The restaurant is Kai, located int he Sheraton Wild Horse Pass resort. The chef (Janos Wilder) is classically trained but is mindful of his surroundings; using local products and influences in every dish. The servers were all attentive and well educated, and took care to point out the vegetables that were raised for the restaurant in a project at nearby schools, and the other local and traditional ingredients. The presentation of the food was also impressive, though the chef did fall prey to the Tower of Pisa shool of thought a bit too much. That's the one in which all food must apparent be somehow guided into a round shape and then piled up so that all flavors are layered. It does generally end up leaning, at least after the first bite.

The obligatory list of what we ate:
For appetizers, Rudder had butter-braised lobster with tear-drop tomatoes and avocado mousse (unexpectedly tasty) and something or other else I forgot. (See, you can tell it's a fancy place because the appetizers had their own little side dishes.) I had baby greens in pomegranate vinaigrette. Even the greens were round and vertical, in three little bouquets sprouting from rings of beetroot. On the side was a thinly sliced tiny pear no bigger than an olive and a bit of something unidentifiable and slightly sweet, with a texture partway between cornbread and granola bar.

For dinner, he had a buffalo tenderloin (there was sweet sauce, but it was drizzled in a thin ring around the platter, so the meat wasn't marinated in it and I had salmon and lobster. The salmon was rolled into three roulades with wilted spinach with slivers of mushroom on top of each, all sitting on lobster tabouleh, with a lobster claw perched atop the whole thing. For dessert, Rudder had Kahlua ice cream with whipped cream and cherries on more fry bread - fry bread is a traditional Navajo (and, I think, Pima) food and apparently the recipe used there came form their baker's grandmother. I had three types of not-too-sweet sorbet (one was strawberry-chipotle) with slices of grapefruit between.

The food quality was definitely there, and the sense of place added by the local ingredients and recipes added to the experience. So did the Navajo flute music playing quietly int he background. As for romance, we were seated at a small table by a window, from which we could look over two pools, a lake and part of a golf course to see the sun set over the Estrella mountains. The room was open, with no division between tables, but the low light and the few tables in the place kept it feeling intimate. The wine list was also fairly detailed. Nothing on it looked terribly unusual, but the Karralaa Shiraz we had was very good. We'll definitely be going back - not soon, because the price was an fancy as the food, but we'll be going back. (Of course, just because this place gets our vote for Most ROmantic, don't think we didn't have the usual geeky conversations about flying or whatever.)

The resort the restaurant is in in very nice, too; it's very careful to be appropriate to its place, with little plaques explaining ornaments of design features (one wall is designed to replicate one at the Casa Grande National Monument, not far away). It's only about 15 minutes from our house, so definitely seems like a good place to go for a glass of wine of an evening - or a spa weekend, if I had some spare cash and could talk Rudder into it.

Posted by dichroic at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2005

dream party

The other nght when I couldn't get to sleep, I was thinking that it's been a while since I've been to the East Coast. I saw my parents last fall when they visited us, but there are a lot of other people in the Mid_Atlantic states I really would like to see. From there my mind drifted as it does when you're laying in the dark with your eyes closed, and I got to wishing I could just throw a big party and invite everyone.

There are well over 20 people - I counted, including SOs - I would love to meet up with in that area, stretching from NE Philly to Alexandria on the SW side of Washington DC and filling a lot of the points between. (This is not to say there aren't people elsewhere I want to spend time with, just that there's a concentration in that one area.) Fantasy parties have the advantage that no one can't make it that day, and you never have to worry whether people will get along. Ideally, I could rent a big rambly old house for a long weekend, say somewhere on the north end of the Chesapeake Bay, fill it with food and drink, and invite people to come when they wanted and stay as long as they wanted. Make that a big rambly sound-insulated house; we could have quiet zones for sleeping, noisy zones full of music (and since this is my fantasy, music-making), and lots of space in between for talking.

If you're reading this and you live in the Philly-DC span, you'd be invited. (If you live elsewhere and wanted to come out, you'd be welcome.) One thing I realized as I thought about the people I'd like to spend time with is what a diverse group they are, more so than a group of my friends out here would be. There are people in their 20s and people in their 50s. (If people came from farthere away, there would be a wider range.) There are people I've known since birth, since grade school, high school, college, and people I've met in the last couple of years. There are people I've known online or known of for years and never met in person. There are a surprising lot of people who wouldn't know each other to start with, some of whom I've wanted to introduce for years. There are people who know each other, whom I know from different contexts so we've never all met together at once.

The majority would be readers - we might also need some alcoves to sneak away and read. There would be several folkies. There would be a lot of skiffy types, including some who have gone to several of the same cons and (AFAIK) never met. There would be people whose schooling stopped at high school graduation and people with doctorates, but no one who considers their education over and done with or who uses their brain only to hold the pillow down. (At least not all the time - occasional mindlessness is no bad thing.) There would be people with kids and people who live alone. There would be se married people, single people, and people with other arrangements. There would be several who identify as LGBT (well, LGB but not T, but that's only as far as I know, which isn't very far). There would be people who are doing OK financially and people who eat ramen by necessity just before a paycheck is due. And all of them are people I haven't seen in too long and want to spend time talking to - the one drawback to the party idea is that the fun of seeing people enjoy each other would probably be counterbalanced by my not getting to spend a lot of one-on-one time with each.

I'm not really planning to do it, even though it's at least technically possible, because experience tells me that I'd pick a weekend when half of the invitees would be unable to come and that none of the pairs I'd want to introduce to each other would both be there at the same time. But it was fun to think about and it sure would be fun to do.

Posted by dichroic at 11:56 AM | Comments (2)

February 24, 2005

She got off!

Thanks to a morning dental appointment with a telecon scheduled right afer it, I'm working from home today. Remember the scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix after Harry's trial where Ginny, Fred, and Gearge Weasley are doing a happy weasel-dance around the kitchen table, chanting "He got off! He got off! He got off!" That's about my reaction to working at home.


  • For some reason it feels like a vacation, but I still get as much or more work done, so there's no post-vacation workpile hangover.

  • I don't have to spend 8-10 hours under fluorescent lights

  • Supermarket sushi or even a can of Campbel's beats the hell out of cafeteria food (I'm terrible about taking lunch).

  • The chairs are more comfortable. If I want to I can unplug my laptop and go sprawl on a sofa.

  • I can do whatever I want during breaks.

  • Cleaner bathrooms with softer toilet paper.

  • Better snack food and provisions for cooking.

  • No traffic. No time wasted in traffic.

  • No one cares if I knit while on the phone.

  • Cats are often better company than coworkers.

  • Bigger rooms - less feeling closed in.

  • Windows.

  • Quiet. No other people yelling into speakerphones with their doors open. (This and the lack of fluourescent lights may be the two biggest reasons home is more relaxing.)

  • I can listen to any music I ant. Mostly I don't, but I could. More important, I can sing along. I can sing along even if not listening to music.

And that's just the short top-of-my-head list. She got off! She got off!

Posted by dichroic at 01:50 PM | Comments (1)

February 23, 2005

consanguinity of days

I have an odd memory for birthdays. I'm not bad at remembering them in general, and it's probably common to find it easier to remember the ones that are on or near to holidays. But if your birthday's close to mine, I will remember it forever, whether or not there's any need to.

I mean -- my birthday's March 10. And so:
I have a cousin whose birthday is March 7 and another whose is March 11. I haven't seen either since maybe 1992. A kid who lived around the corner in grade school's birthday is March 13 - he must have moved away because I don't think I ever saw him after about 4th grade. A coworker from three jobs ago's is on March 11, but at least he and I still keep in touch. A coworker from my last group has my identical birthday, even to the year - in fact I think that's one reason she and I keep in touch. Another from that job was born the same year a week later. My husband's grandmother's birthday is March 9, which is more than he remembers. She was born two days after me, and it must be either the same year or the year before, since we would have been in the same grade in school.

I think I may make birthday resolutions this year, since after all it's a new year of me. There's an old woman in a story by L.M. Montgomery who had resolved that her birthdays would be days of happiness for toher people, if she could manage it. I'm not sure I'm ready to try that. (Though all of my reasons not to collapse on investigation: I hardly see people outside work? The make it happy for them. And so on.) One of mine is going to be to be better at celebrating other people's birthdays. I've been terrible at that this year, at least for the ones I'm not on a gift-exchanging basis with, and most people really do seem to enjoy and appreciate being thought of, even if it's only an e-card.

Posted by dichroic at 12:03 PM | Comments (3)

February 22, 2005

uncurling the hedgehog

Pardon me here while I indulge in a little unlicensed pop-psychology analysis here. Yesterday, someone took me aside to tell me she felt our relationship was strained, and that I had made some comments that she thought were very hostile. I explained carefully that I'd had no such intent and apologized for anything I'd said that had come out sounding offensive, and we parted friends, but I think I need to be more careful of my speech in future. (Whereas her comment was that some comments she made that sounded patronizing were just because "that's the way she works and I just have to realize she doesn't mean to patronize" which doesn't sound quite like a fair trade, but anyway. Anything for a peaceful life.)

Of course, I don't feel that anything I said was nasty at all, but then I would think that, wouldn't I? If she thought I was being hostile, then others could have the same reaction. I want to write down a little analysis of her character here, so I can think out how to talk to her and (potentially in future) others like her. My reading is that this woman is, mostly, fearful. Somehow I think she's worried about not being as good as others - this may have something to do with not having the technical degree other people in her position have, though (as she's explained to me a few times) she has the practical experience to make up for that. I think she's afraid she won't get her fair share, of respect or whatever other good things are to be had. I think this explains a lot of her politics, as well. She supported GWB in the last election, which I know because she went around buttonholing everyone and telling them they ought to vote for him. She doesn't seem to be terribly conservative on most issues, except maybe for immigration, ironically the one place where Bush himself actually seems to have a desire to help the most needy. (She was fairly ticked at him for that.) I think she might be among the group that supported Bush and his ilk out of fear that the liberal elite might get a foothold and laugh at anyone not in their group. (People in this group might say their fear is that a bunch of over-educated book-smart types might gain power and not respect the people who have worked hard for what they have. I sympathize with both the need for respect where it's earned and the need not to be laughed at, but am not quite sure why a government aimed at making the rich richer would help with this, even if they do have down-home accents and attend your church.)

Also, I think her attitudes on a lot of things are a little behind the times; I get a distinct feeling that she feels a bit lessened that I'm married and she's not, though we're about the same age, and that despite working at a high level in a mostly male field, she expects different treatment from a female peer than from a male one.

In short words, I think she's defensive and that I need to be careful not to make her curl up and fan out the quills. In relationships, perceptions are the reality, and if she felt I was offensive, then I was, whether or not I meant to be. I'm very glad that she had the guts to take me aside to talk instead of just fuming, so that we could mend our relationship instead of having it fester, and I want to show my respect for that by still talking to her (more carefully) instead of being the sort of ass who tries to avoid being offensive by just avoiding the offended person entirely.

Posted by dichroic at 12:24 PM | Comments (2)

February 21, 2005

unplanned yarn

I think I must be an atypical knitter. I'm don't seem to be too interested in stash qua stash. Right now, aside from the dribs and drabs left over from finished projects, I have wool/acrylic yarn for a scarf (started), cotton yarn for a sleevless sweater (started), DK yarn for socks, sock yarn for other socks (both unstarted), and the Manos del Uruguay yarn shown at the top of this picture. ( The yarn at the bottom became my Clapotis.)

That Manos is still preying on my mind, because I don't know what it wants to be. I have six hanks, not enough for a sweater. I live in a hot climate and really don't need any more scarves. It would make a great poncho, but I don't know if I have enough, plus see "hot climate" above. I wonder if I have enough for a simple sleeveless sweater? I could probably figure out the math well enough to do it in the round with veryvery simple neck and shoulder shaping. Or maybe a small lap afghan? I suppose I could swatch and just measure the yarn used to see how far it would go.

Posted by dichroic at 01:44 PM | Comments (2)

Outlaws up

If anyone's interested, our rowing website is .... well, not done, but drafted and populated. You can see it here. Feedback is welcome, as I've only tested it on a couple of browsers so far. We're still battling issues of sizing and placement of links that show up differently on differend monitors/browsers.

Also, you can buy gear with our logo here.

Yesterday, my flight was cut very short - the clouds above masked a low fog layer - it was thin enough to see through, more or less, but not legal to fly in without an instrument clearance. (And of course, no guarantee that it wouldn't thicken on us at an inooprtune time. When you're in the air, any time fog thickens is an inopportune time.) So my flight went as follows: take off, climb less than a thousand feet, enter fog, descend, turn around, land. A very expensive fifteen minutes. On the other hand, experience in dealing with weather and in landing from a lower altitude than standard pattern is useful.

We'd spent Saturday helping clean up the boatyard, then working on stuff around the house. Since I had my Sunday morning back, Rudder graciously acceded to my request that we do something fun with the rest of our weekend. We decided something outside would be more fun - despite the cloud layer, it was a nice, cool, partly sunny day, and decided to drive up north to see whether all this wet weather seemed to be helping the trees on our porperty to do better. The short answer is "no", I think just because trees don't do anything in one-season time increments, but the drive..... well. The desert was unbelievably, lushly Technicolor green. We saw actual waterfalls on the mountains, more than a few of them, in a bizarre desert-impersonates-Yosemite act. There were black-eyed Susans and other yellow flowers and purple lupines along the road. It was spectacular. Then up on the Mogollon Rim (6000-7000 feet elevation) we got rained on and drove through wisps of clous, then saw patches of snow under the junipers. As we rose higher, there were blankets of snow under the aspens and then coverlets of snow on the pines. We drove through rain, snow, and clouds low enough over the snow covering to give me a new understanding of the phenomenon of whiteout - I was trying to imagine navigation if there hadn't been a road visible under us. There are other places in the world that can provide as much variety in a two hour drive as Arizona, but possible not a lot of them. Which reminds me:

Ten Things I've Done That You Probably Haven't
  • Hiked through a rainforest to get to a glacier.
  • Slept outside on the continent of Antarctica.
  • Traveled on a ship through the Drake Passage
  • Kayaked in fjords on three continents. (Well, technically New Zealand isn't a continent but I suppose you could call it the Asian Pacific.)
  • Stood at the bottom of a Titan missile silo and looked up.
  • Flown in F-16, A-10, Space Shuttle, C-130, and A340 simulators (the high-level ones real pilots and astronauts use to train).
  • Gotten married in Valley Forge
  • Sung at the lighting of the City Hall Christmas tree in Philadelphia.
  • Visited the Demilitarized Zone in Korea
  • Eaten alligator, kangaroo, and rattlesnake.
Posted by dichroic at 12:25 PM | Comments (2)

February 18, 2005

table of contents redux

Whew. Got my table corrected and pointing to the proper places and all of the older imported entries cleaned up. I also caught a few I'd missed. Lot of work. This is more for a convenient reference for myself than because I suppose anyone is panting to read all of my (semi)poetical works but anyway, the table is here.

Posted by dichroic at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

background work in progress

I was going to write en entry today about some of the odd things I remember that no one else seems to, but I forgot one of the things I wanted to write about. In the meantime, I'm trying to clean up my list of poems and post a few here that somehow never made it over from my original Diaryland site. I'll post a link when I'm done.

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

February 17, 2005

one wasted day

My opinion of the Get Motivated! seminar I went to yesterday? If it comes to your town, don't go. It wasn't even worth getting out of the office for a day. The best thing about it was that I got about 4" done on sock #2, which I had foresightedly cast on the night before because I'm close enough to the end of sock #1 that I was afraid I'd run out of knitting. The final count was as follows:

  • 1 speaker with no focus and several unrelated anecdotes, includingone he nabbed from Robert Fulghum.
  • Two speakers whose entire substance was only a sales pitch for their (several hundred dollar) seminars, phrased so that wasn't obvious until the end of the speech when they revealed the techniques they were discussing could only be used with further training and a $200 web site subscription.
  • Two lousy singers including one who made the national anthem impossible to sing along to, then invited us to sing along with God Bless America and did the same thing to it.
  • Two Christian preachers who totally blindsided me (I was expecting to hear about business, not religion) including the seminar producer who gave a literal out-and-out come-to-Jesus speech, and whose speech involved a lot of annoyingly bad logic, and another who gave us a list of four websites with information "disproving" evolution. (He certainly motivated me .... to walk out of the seminar. I didn't but only becaue we'd carpooled.)
  • One general who gave a speech that was very funny and rah-rah patriotic but which had no content on any of the numerous interesting and useful things he could have discussed about his last campaign.
  • One famous but agedcomedian whose speech was supposed to be about laughter as a business tool but was actually just a stand-up routine.
  • 1 annoyingly perky mistress of ceremonies in an eye-smacking pink suit, running things. (I would have guessed she was on speed, but she and her husband run the seminars so I suspect she was merely buoyed up by the thought of all the profit they were making.)
  • Two speakers I'd actually go hear agin, if I didn't have to sit through the rest of them to do it.

If you ever get a chance, Joe Montana and Rudy Giuliani are worth hearing speak. But if someone invites you to this seminar thing, run away. Or take your something to do and earplugs.

I have certainly learned my lesson, though. When I was invited to this seminar by a coworker, I didn't ask to see the brochure and read through it carefully. Someone told me the brochure did discuss exactly the sort of thing that would be discussed, including the religion, so if I wasted a day, it's my own fault for not checking up more carefully. I suppose this even falls into the "preparation" theme but Montana and Giuliani discussed. Actually, there's a second lesson as well: when stuck in a situation like this, carefully monitor anyone who talks about leaving. My boss and another guy snuck back to work (in the latter's car) while I wasn't watching them

Posted by dichroic at 12:05 PM | Comments (3)

February 15, 2005

sea change / into something rich and deep

I don't know what this is. It may just mean I'm not getting enough sleep.

Sea Change

My head is full of ocean
Like an aquarium in the helmet of an old diving suit
Fronds and mermaids look out from my eyes,
Strange creatures that never knew air glide behind them.
What truths I see gleam out through layers of murk,
Clear only when seen through a diver's lens.
Else shades of light veil greener, bright, then dense.

Yet like the ocean the truths I have I keep
And what I know may roll up on a tide
Or lie for years, buried, in the depths of mind,
Or roil past, seen only glancing behind the foam,
Or wear disguise, a sea-change only pierced in sleep.

Posted by dichroic at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)

I could

I *could* tell them I'm sick and go home. I could I could. I think it's mostly a matter of having eaten too much at (and before) lunch but somehow a nap sounds like the best idea ever right about now...

Posted by dichroic at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

thinking about people

I keep thinking I ought to move this site over to LiveJournal (I do have a blog there but rarely write in it) in order to see if I get more commentary there. Then I keep reminding myself that once I got there I'd still be me. I just don't think I'm the kind of person who everyone loves and reads, either in real life or in my writing voice. (My writing voice is probably closer to the me I am inside my head than the persona you'd meet in the flesh, because of getting to talk about anything I want instead of having to worry about conversing only on topics other people are interested in at that time and place, in short sound bites because that's all there's space to say. Work is for work-talk, rowing is for rowing-talk, airports are for flying-talk, if I ever had time for Stitch'n'Bitch sessions they'd be for knitting talk, and outside that I rarely seem to get to talk to people other than Rudder.)

Anyway, I think it would be fun to be the sort of person who gets hordes of comments on every entry, and constant phone calls in real life. On the other hand, I enjoy being me, too, and wouldn't want to give that up. (Possibly this is the appeal of Multiple Personality Syndrome.) Crankiness has its own satisfaction. Besides, one prerequisite of being widely loved seems to be being the sort of person who likes most people, and I don't. (I do seem to like a higher percentage of people I meet online which tells me that either I'd like people in general more if I knew them better, OR that the sites I read online tend to attract smarter, wittier, and more interesting people. Actually, the latter seems more likely. Also, print is in some ways a better forum for the exchange of complex ideas.)

Another side benefit of not having tons of casual on- and offline friends is that I do really appreciate and cherish the ones I have, which includes all of you who read this or leave notes here. (Spammers excepted. I may be getting mushy but I do have limits.) I love getting to read about the things other people really care about, and the things they're working on as well; it may be a little voyeuristic, but I find I worry when someone disappears, or is obviously unhappy, and I cheer when good things happen to people I read regularly.

Another benefit of blog-reading is the insight into other ways of living. For some reason, polyamory fascinates me - I think it's because in my neo-hippie mind that's more the way life should be. In real life, though, I don't have any great desire to try it out for myself, partly because I'm too lazy and probably too selfish to do it right and partly because, well, see above about not liking enough people. Two things I have noticed, though I haven't collected data on either, and there are plenty of exceptions, is that people who write about being poly seem to be less happy on average and that people who work from home or who don't have jobs seem to get sick more. (If you're thinking you're in one of those categories and I'm wrong, see the part about exceptions. This is just a general impression I've been getting and it doesn't apply to everyone.) The interesting thing about both is I can't tell cause and effect. For example, it could be that some people are more likely to be unhappy for whatever other reason and need to give and receive more love to and from more people to stay on a reasonable keel, that they'd be unhappier monogamous. Or it could be a system that can breed more happiness and more unhappiness both, depending on the people and the situation involved. And the health thing could be that people who go out less develop fewer immunities or it could be that people who have more health problems are more likely to work from home or quit their jobs because they have to. (This does apply to at least two people I read regularly.) Finally, it could be that there's no correlation in either case but that people tend to need to vent about problems and are less likely to write when things are going well because that's the normal state, or that I notice problems more and so get a false impression. Whatever, it's interesting to think about blog sociology and to see trends and connections.

And I think when they taught me statistics, they ruined me for being judgemental.

Posted by dichroic at 12:11 PM | Comments (2)

February 14, 2005


As a tribute to Deniz Sarikaya, because the writings I liked most of hers were responses to this meme, here's my Anonymeme.

Anonymous commenting is on for a short while. (I don't know how to trace IP addresses and promise faithfully not to learn on these comments.) I want you to post anything that you want.


A story, a secret, a confession, a fear, a love - anything. Be sure to post anonymously and honestly. Post as many times as you'd like.

Then, put this in your journal to see what your friends (and perhaps others who you don't even realize read your journal) have to say.

Feel free to keep an eye on the comment page, as I might reply to what you have to say...

Incidentally, I never knew Deniz or even read her LJ before today, incidentally. The post below explains why I wanted to do this - to find out more about the people I know or don't know or could know, while there's time, in a way that lets them write anything safely.

Posted by dichroic at 01:18 PM | Comments (3)

too late

You know what really sucks? What really sucks is when, out of idle curiosity, you follow a link from one blog to another, and find that the writer of the second one is wise, compassionate and interesting. Well, OK, that part doesn't suck. The sucky thing is when the whole reason the link was posted was to note that the writer of the second blog has died, and there will never be any more conversation to be had there.

This isn't the first time I've learned how how much I would have liked someone online, only when it's too late. Sometimes, it's been someone who touched so many lives they're mentioned in numerous blogs all over the net. Somehow it bothers me more than finding out a favorite author is dead. Maybe that's because I don't usually find out so more immediately - more often, the author died long before I ever heard his or her name - but I think it's more a matter of expectation. I expect to converse with an author mainly through his or her books, and I expect that conversation to be about the characters and only peripherally about the author. (Maybe that even applies to autobiographies. I don't know.) In a journal, though, it's a real life - or a part of one - that I'm reading, so when it's ended it's much more of a shock. (Clearly, authors I've met in real life fall into the latter class.)

By any reasonable measure short of great advances in geriatrics, I'm past the first third of my life now, but I confess to still being young enough that death doesn't still feel real to me. I've seen a few dead and dying bodies and heard the final thud of earth falling on people I love, but I still have a hard time with the concept of a person ceasing to be. I don't know if that's cause or effect for the fact that I still feel my grandparents, the ones I've lost that I was closest too, near around me whenever I think of them. By definition, since you can never really know anyone else from inside, I suppose in a real way they are around me whenever I think of them, just as I interacted with my images of them rather than themselves when they were alive. The difference is that I can't learn anything new about them now, except through other people.

Maybe that's why it hurts to learn about a new person only after they've died. After all, I had all the love and more time to spend with my grandparents than most people get. When I was born, there were seven of them when I was born and the first of the four I was closest to didn't die until I was in college. (It occurs to me now that my brother, four years younger, was comparatively gypped.) But with a new person, one I haven't met before, when I begin to learn about them, like what I see and want to know more, if they've died there will never be any chances to learn and like them better.

Posted by dichroic at 01:15 PM | Comments (1)

sweet nothings

Valentines' Day isn't a big thing at my house, not least because the letter "r" is about the only thing Rudder and romantic have in common. We usually exchange cards, and we typically go out for dinner on the weekend closest to V-Day but then we go out for dinner on the weekend closest to everything else, too. On Friday, Rudder gave me chocolate-covered strawberries that he'd intended to save for V-day because they came with a note saying "best if consumed within 48 hours". (He admitted the strawberries were because he still feels guilty for Xmas, a stratey that would have worked better if I were particularly fond of chocolate-covered strawberries. Still, nice thought.)

On Saturday, it was cloudy again and Rudder had flying time scheduled. I went along both in case there was anything I could learn and because I get a lot of knitting or napping (but not both) done in the back seat. He'd never gotten actual instrument time before, a lack which apparently became much more urgent after I got some on Thursday. The clouds were clearing near us, but there was still cloud cover to the north and south. At the CFI's suggestion, he ended up canceling the original idea of doing instrument landings at local airports in favor of a cross-country to Tucson, and did end up getting an hour or so in the clouds. We'd left late due to having to plan the cross-country, and it took longer than the originally intended plans. Also, I hadn't eaten much that day and the emergency Powerbar in Rudder's flight bag was fossilized, so by the time we got back I was starving. I figured Rudder would be hungry too, and too tired for our originally scheduled mall trip followed by dinner at the fish place near it, so I offered to treat Rudder to a steak to celebrate his first true instrument flying. He agreed, though we did end up paying for it from the household account after all.

On Sunday afternoon, we proceeded with the mall / fish restaurant thing. (It's a really fatiguing mall, full of flashing lights and hordes of people, including lots of small children to trip over. It's a much more tiring place to shop at than our local mall, but it's an outlet place and I needed hose. And while I'm in parenthesis, I might as well admit that all of the previous drivel was just to explain why we went out for dinner twice in a row, so it wouldn't sound as if we were that spoiled.) During dinner, between craning our heads to watch the person making goofy hats out of balloons, I asked Rudder if that dinner counted as our Valentine dinner or the previous day's steaks. He said, "The steak place - that's at least a little more romantic."

I answered, "Well, it might have been, if you hadn't spent half of dinner analyzing the restaurant's order-taking system." (Yes, he is even geekier than I am - I didn't complain that we'd spent the other half of the time discussing flying.)

He said, "Well, here then," and mouthed noiselessly at me.

I guessed, "Sweet nothings?"


"But how can I tell they're sweet?"

"Because I said them!"

Oig. Also yeesh.

So anyway, this morning while he was showering, I wrote out my card for him. I wrote,

_ . _..
.. ._.. _ _ _ ..._ . _._ _ _ _ _ .._ _.._ _ _ _ _.._ _ _ _
Then I drew a buble around it, labeled it "Sweet nothings", and left it where he'll find it tonight if not this morning.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that last night, we were talking about the Morse code identifiers used in flight navigational aids. Serve him right when he has to go look up the code.

Posted by dichroic at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2005

channeling Langston and Lindy

"Dona nobis pacem" says the old song: Give us peace, give us peace, give us peace.

But peace is not a thing to be given.
Peace is taken. Peace is earned,
Peace is held and peace is painfully made.

Peace is forged in the fire of a fierce determination,
Folded layers of decisions hammered for strength
With will.

Peace is built stick by stick,
Peace is balanced, stone on stone,
Stone on unthrown stone.
Peace is fitted together, each part slotted in
Where a place is found.

Peace is not poured in a pure stream from above;
Peace is built up from the ground by those who need its shelter most,
Holding it up,
Shoring it up,
Improvising as they build,
And propping where it starts to sag.

Peace is not the gift of gods or governments.
Peace is earned at the price of sweat, steel will,
Skill, care, unconfidence
And need.

That felt good. It's been a long, long while since I was able to write any poetry except by forcing it, a method guaranteed to produce nothing but doggerel (though still useful for practice). The beginning of this one came to me, though, when I was listening, ecstatic, to news of the Israeli/Palestinian ceasefire, and then, deflated, to the Israeli comment that the ceasefire depended on the Palestinians to maintain it. (Translation: one rebel throws one stone, or one renegade plants one bomb, and thwe're sending the army back in. Given the difficulty of controlling a whole population, I hope I'm mistranslating here.) Maybe because he cared about peace too, but I felt like I was channelling Langston Hughes as this thing above spoke in my head, with its pounding carpenter rhythm. (Or maybe that was Jimmy Carter, but he's not dead yet.) Of course, the words and the finishing still had to come through me, so I'm not blaming any lack of quality in this on Hughes. But it surely did feel good to have it come to me.

I did end up flying yesterday - and I got actual! (That means flying in actual instrument conditions, with a clearance, talking to Center, and the whole bit.) The wind wasn't bad but there was rain and low clouds. Once we were off the ground and I saw how bad the visibility was, I started worrying I wouldn't be able to see the runway well enough to land - fortunately I could once we were down to 1000 feet height-above-ground or so, but we did quite a bit of flying in the clouds with NO visibility at all. My instructor didn't even have me put on a hood (really a visor, worn so you can't look out and can see only the instrument panel). It was some scary shit, especially on the way back when Phx Approach was supposed to be vectoring us and didn't say anything for a very very long time. That was because they didn't need to, since we were heading straight for our home airport on a VOR radial, but the thing is they didn't say anything to anyone else either, which means there's no way to tell that the radios haven't gone out. Which would suck fairly hard in those conditions.

So yeah, it was scary to the point of pounding head and dropping pit of stomach. Of course that's not entirely rational; I had a CFI with me and my instruments were working fine. But they can break, and I'm not comfortable yet with what to do if they did, and anyway, instrument flying is inherently not a safe thing to do. There are mountains out there, and my little Cessna doesn't have a collision warning system to detect them. (Ironic, since that's one thing my company makes.) I do have a GPS with them programmed in, but again, the pit of my stomach doesn't know from GPSes.

I kept telling myself it was good to be doing this now, while there's a CFI along and I'm training in familiar territory, than to encounter it for the first time alone in a strange area. Here, at worst, we could have gone down low and found our way home by following roads and landmarks. Rudder pointed out that also, this is a good time in my training to do this because now some of the other tactics I'll be learning will be extremely memorable. (What to do if the radios go out, for instance.) The pit of my stomach doesn't listen to him, either.

Good experience, though. (I tell myself again.) Next time it will be much less scary. And one good thing was proving again that I'm not ruled by the pit of my stomach, because I flew well, nailed the ILS approach at Casa Grande (best one I've done yet) and did two landings so good the instructor was impressed. There's nothing like a bit of motivation to do it right, I guess.

Posted by dichroic at 12:19 PM | Comments (1)

February 10, 2005

tut, tut, looks like rain

Well, today's customer meeting went well and even ended earlier than expected. Yay. The simulator was booked for tonight so I'm scheduled to be flying an actual airplane after work - I usually try not to because flying instruments is hard enough without doing it at the end of a workday. I have a funny feeling it might not happen, though, due to the amount of wind. I was going to call and ask the FBO so I wouldn't have to leave work early only to find out I wasn't flying. (And bear in mind the airport is only five minutes from my house, so it's not like I'd be driving across town.) Luckily, a jolt of common sense hit me before I dialed; still, it scares me that I even thought of the idea of calling ahead "so I wouldn't have to leave work early unnecessarily".

Posted by dichroic at 03:50 PM | Comments (1)

February 09, 2005

not enough, never enough

Yesterday there was a story about cutbacks coming in health services provided to veterans and active duty personnel at the local Air Force Base. Today there was one about the state of Kentucky, which in funding residential drug programs for homeless people is having to cut back on low-income housing for working families, and another on how Medicaid can't pay for the drug benefit voted in two years ago. Meanwhile we've got a budget proposal that will raise the record deficit to a new higher record number. You know, I've been known to binge on spending for my hobby and then cut back elsewhere too, but my hobbies don't involve war and my cutbacks aren't taken out of the hides of people who can't afford them. No, I do not like this budget proposal.

Fortunately, I didn't have a mouthful of water when I heard the President say, "This is the most responsible budget since Reagan was in office." If you're not familiar with what happened to the deficit during the Reagand years, you may want to look here or here to see why it would have been spewed all over my steering wheel. (Note: Since we're currently running a record deficit, you can see that first chart's a few years behind.)

I wasn't going to write about the budget and the deficit, but my original topic is related, I guess, in that I have a deficit of my own, a bad case of the Never Enoughs. Like a lot of women, I have a bad case of Sisyphus Syndrome. I feel like I'm never putting in enough hours at work or getting done enough while I'm there, like I never understand well enough what I should be doing. I was never training hard enough for rowing, and now I'm never doing enough to keep in shape while I'm just exercising for fitness. Too many meals are instant or srounged because I never do enough real cooking. I never do enough studying for the IFR and because of work scheduling, weather or airplane-related cancelations, I'm never flying enough. I read about all the projects other people finish and feel like I'm never getting enough knitting done. With all of this there's never enough time to spend either with Rudder or by myself. When I do have some spare time, Rudder wants help with the website we're creating or I have to go get the taxes done or my hair cut or take the cats in for their shots. And there are things I'm neglecting entirely, like the replanting we need to do in the back yard. It feels like I just don't do well enough at any of the things I do, and though in some cases those impressions come from my boss or Rudder (not sure about the boss, but I know Rudder isn't meaning to give that impression) mostly it's just from me, because I know what I don't do or what I don't understand. I don't think I'd know good enough if I saw it, but I don't think I ever do see it anyhow. I wonder if anyone does?
Posted by dichroic at 12:41 PM | Comments (2)

February 08, 2005

Clap twice

I keep getting a hankering to make yet another Clapotis, because it was such fun to knit. (And because it was much quicker gratification than the tiny stitches on those damned socks!) I wonder how it would look if I made one out of this laceweight yarn, but still on size 8 needles, for summer use in airconditioned buildings and such? Hmmm...

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

too much caffeine

I must have gotten enough sleep or something. I'm feeling relatively productive today. Unfortunately the boss appears to have gotten even more sleep plus a large amount of caffeine. Yikes. Now if only he'd read the emails in order...

On the sock issue, I concluded from responses in the Knitlist that Cascade can shrink so knitting with it stretched out was a bad idea. I frogged the sock all the way back to the first few rows. Sigh. At least I'm getting a more reasonable gauge so it's going a wee bit faster now.

Back to work.

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

February 07, 2005

football: sigh. Knitting: sigh. flying: not bad.

So, about them Eagles: sigh. Disappointing but no big surprise. Being a Philly fan is generally a lot like being a Red Sox fan, pre-2004.

The socks I am knitting are getting very much on my nerves, because they're taking SO FREAKING long - I started them last weekend and now I'm only about 4.5" in and I have to go retrieve yet ANOTHER dropped stitch when I get home. I know the reasons it's taking so long, but can't do much about it unless I frog the whole thing. 1) They're in Cascade Fixation and since I knew socks are supposed to be densely knitting, I'm knitting with the elastic stretched out and even with the size 5 needles I'm using, that gives me a gauge of around 7.5 sts and 13 rows per inch. The entire reason I selected Cascade as my first sock yarn was so I could use bigger needles, be able to see my stitches, and have it go faster. Sigh. (I've also just been told it shrinks a bit so this was probably not the best idea I've ever had. However, there's still tons of stretch in the sock.) 2) Since the Lorna's Laces yarn that was supposed to become socks for Rudder after I finished the Cascade ones for me turned out to be pinker than expected, he asked for the Cascade yarn instead. Since this is for him, I'm going back and ripping out rows when necessary to correct small defects, like loose stitches that leave small holes in the sock. Not that he'd complain, but he has tender feet and wouild probably not wear them if they're not comfortable.

Why is sock-knitting supposed to be so much fun? I'm not getting it.

On the other hand, I did my first ILS approaches in the airplane yesterday (I'd done one in the simulator last week) and they went fairly well. I'm a lot more comfortable flying these days, finally. If I can't be domestic at least I can be good at something. (Though also, the pot of chili I made yesterday to eat during the week came out reasonably well, if possibly a little heavy on the tomato sauce. So I'm not a complete failure, domestically speaking.)

Posted by dichroic at 12:50 PM | Comments (2)

February 06, 2005

the who from where?

Actual conversation, at work on Friday:

Me: So, will you be rooting for the Eagles Sunday?

Coworker: I dunno...... who are they playing?

Me: The New England Patriots.

Coworker: They're playing an international team???

The mind reels .... just so wrong, on many levels. Even worse was the part where she said, "Wait, I know my geography and there's no state called New England!"

Posted by dichroic at 01:58 PM | Comments (2)

February 04, 2005

Philly Girl sez:

Almost forgot to say: sorry, Patriots fans, but GO EAGLES!!!!!

Posted by dichroic at 02:09 PM | Comments (0)

too long in the spotlight

Whew. Well, that's over. The conference was trememndouly useful, there was a lot of interesting informaiton and I got to meet quite a few people I had only spoken to on the phone, as well as a few I didn't know at all. I think I'm in a position where a lot of people are as eager to meet me as I am to meet them, which made things a lot easier. Also, my presentation went fairly well; a few people went out of their way to tell me I did well and a few others gave me some useful information.

You know what, though? Being professional and charming and nice to everyone is just downright tiring. Obviously it doesn't come naturally to me. It's a funny thng, too: most people who know me would say I'm an extrovert, and I always score ENTP on Myers-Briggs tests, I don't have a fear of big groups, and I find it fairly easy to talk to strangers, but I think I do need down time to recharge. I can't be "on" all the time for too long without getting itchy. Also, since there were evening activities on Tuesday, Wednesday AND Thursday that all ran late enough that I went home and straight to bed afterwards, I had no time at all to read, talk to Rudder, knit, or stare aimlessly into space. Going too long without reading, especially makes me uncomfortable, like someone with Tourette's Syndrome trying not to twitch. Unfortunately I have a flying lesson after today's workday, but after that I can finally go home and not do much of anything.

At leawst not until tomorrow when I have to row, take the cats for their shots (yuck) and get my hair cut.

Posted by dichroic at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2005

cons and chiros

Updates here may be sparse in the next few days I have a conference. It's local for me, but people are coming in from all over the world, and I have to go network, give a presentation, impress the bigwigs, and all that. (Yeah, I know - it sounds so corporate. I may even wear an actual suit tomorrow, albeit my trendy one with the long jacket. 2002 trendy, anyway - not much of a fashionista, me.)

I went to a chiropractor yesterday for a free assessment and checkup, and am thinking about starting a program with them. I'd love feedback from anyone who's been to one. I'm a little leery, because I've heard some unflattering opinions of chiropractry from doctors, and becaue my few forays into alternative medicine to date have been unrewarding (except massage, which is its own reward). Also, they set off my scam sensors when they added up my health insurance copayments and deductible and offered a 40% discount is I prepaid for the 21 sessions they estimated I'd need. On the plus side, $366 doesn't sound unreasonable for 21 sessions (of course, then there's whatever they bill my insurance), they admitted it might take more or fewer sessions, I like that they have me doing stretching and strengthening exercises, the place and people seem nice and sincere, and the coach at rowing camp opined that chiropractic treatment can be valuable for rowers. Also, it is undeniably true that my spine curves in one dimension so that my head is held a little to the left, and does not curve as it's supposed to in another so that my head is thrust forward a little more than it should be. I've seen this in posture checks over the years, in this chiro's X-rays, and in a doctor's X-rays of my spine a few years ago. And I figure have my spine go the way it's supposed to can only be good for rowing purposes, not to mention avoiding back problems later.

As I said, I'd really appreciate feedback from anyone who's been to a chiro and been helped or not helped by it.

Later note: A little due diligence informs me that I may be going to a chiropractor, but tno this chiropractor. They neglected to mention that they're not in-network for my insurance - in this case, the co-pays are probably less in- and out-of-network chiros (hard to tell, becaue in one case it's $30 and in the other it's 70%) and there's no deductible for in-network. Not a trivial difference. However, it turns out there are 23 chiros in my network within 5 miles of my house so if I decide to do this, it shouldn't be impossible to find an honest one. I should also state that, though my spine isn't quite where it should be, I have no back pain or other problems.

Little progress on the socks, probably because I have a fear of holes in them and so am holding the Fixation yarn (which is cotton with elastic in it) stretched tightly as I knit. I also have some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn fot future socks and even though it's nominally a finer gauge and I'll knit it with size 2 needles instead of the current size 5, I have a feeling it will knit up a little bigger for me. Or maybe not. I'm knitting the current ones toe-up, with a figure-eight cast-on, which I think is not usually the way people do their first socks but oh well. I also don't think knitting is quite as hard to figure out as some people seem to -- I see a lot of questions on the Knitlist to which my first answer would be either "try it and see" or "do the math" -- though I have a long way until I can do anything really complex. Another thing I want to try is Peace Fleece; some of their colors would be beautiful in a sweater and I want to support their principles. But that will have to wait until after at least some of the four projects I either have on the needles or have planned and bought yarn for are done. (Fixation ribbed socks for Rudder, in progress; Lorna's Laces socks for me, planned; cable scarf for my uncle which may not go to him until next Chanukah, in progress; sleeveless cotton sweater for me, about 4" in and put aside months ago to work on winter things. Maybe I need a sidebar here listing projects.)

Posted by dichroic at 12:22 PM | Comments (10)