April 29, 2005

a road tale

It feels strange to be traveling for pleasure without Rudder. I can understand why he didn't want to go (a whole weekend of hanging out with someone else's coworkers? He knows a lot of them, but still...) I do wish he were going, though, partly because weekends are the time we get to spend together and partly because I'm not thrilled to be driving a strange car late at night in a city I no longer know well. At least I'm not scared to be driving at all, as I was when I first drove in Houston.

This is unknown in this part of the country, but I didn't get my drivers' license until I was 22. Never needed one in Philadelphia, and couldn't afford the insurance. I got my license a week before I moved. Maybe some of you were confident drivers when you first learned how; I wasn't, not for a long time, and Houston is a hard city to drive in anyway. (Not as bad as LA or Boston or New York, all of which I've driven in since.) For my first month there I managed without a car, a thing for which Houston is *not* designed. I was only able to get to the car dealers through the kindness of coworkers - I had moved there not knowing anyone. Just to make it more of a challenge, I bought a stick shift. I'd driven one a few times, thanks to my boyfriend at the time, but anyone who's ridden with a new driver will know it takes more than a few times to learn stick. (Last I heard, he still had the car, so apparently I didn't do too much damage.)

I wasn't fit to be on the roads yet, so I actually got the saleswoman at the car dealer to drive the car home for me, with my coworker giving her a ride back. Then I spent the next morning doing doughnuts in a nearby empty parking lot. Work waws only a couple of blocks away, so I didn't need to drive to commute. I used to take the car out for a spin in the evenings, toward the edge of town, just to get used to driving in a setting where it might be a little fun. I never did get comfortable driving into Houston's downtown, where the traffic is always horrible. (I almost never had to go farther than the nearby airport, so I didn't practice it much.) Ten years and a lot of commuting miles later, it's going to feel odd driving around town tonight and this weekend. It will feel even odder doing it without being nervous.

In other news, I just did something I've never done before, right after I did something I haven't done for years and years. Yes, it's legal and moral. No, I'm not telling.

Posted by dichroic at 02:07 PM | Comments (2)

the hard parts

I believe I'm ready for my reunion this weekend. I have my plane, hotel, and rental car reserved. I've chosen an outfit and packed all my clothes. I've talked to my old rowing club to see if I might be able to get in a boat. (Verdict: likely not, but I'll drop by anyhow.) Last thing this morning set up a photo album on the iPod with a selection of photos of Rudder, of our house here and of the desert around, of our Antarctica trip (I've had included photos from other trips but didn't have them loaded on the Mac) and some shots of people I hope to see this weekend.

Oddly enough, the hard part was figuring out how to get to the airport parking from work. I'm probably not more than a couple miles from it - our campus sits right next to the airport fence, with a runway on the other side - but the roads around the airport are tangled spaghetti and the parking lot arnd roads near it aren't shown on any maps I could find. Of course, I can get there by going far enough away to get on my usual route to the airport, but it will be rush hour so I'd rather avoid freeways.

Funny how often the easy parts turn out to be the hard parts.

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

April 28, 2005


Sorry So Silent.

I took Tuesday off not so much sick as not-well; I ended up sleeping most of the day,. Napping is something I usually can't do, so something must have been wrong, especially given that I rested most of Sunday as well. It can't just be the strains od Ssaturday, the other two women who worked as dockmasters were tired afterward, but not laid out. Granted they also didn't cook dinner for six, but I don't usually think of entertaining as being quite that strenuous.

Then yesterday my boss assigned one of his patented two-weeks-of-work-in-one-day jobs, and I rowed before work and flew after it, so with all that I didn't have a chance to write here even during my theoretical lunch.

Yesterday was an annoying day, politically. There was, of course, the email that I posted here about Title IX. You know, I can respect people whose views are different than mine. I'm perfectly willing to discuss differences. What I find immoral are these laws made for no moral reason, only financial gain to a few, and the sneaks who go around changing laws out of the public view. There was also an article on the radio about a bill coming up to Congress which would apparently apply the parental notification abortion laws of a minor's home state to her even while she's in another state, even if her parents were with her. The justification was that this "protects minors from the states that don't have those laws. Grrrrrrr.

As usual, of course, the very peope pushing this one are those who are normally yelling loudest about states' rights. Since when do any of us need to be "protected" from the laws of the states we're in? There's also the issue that parents must be notified 24 hours in advance, even if the parents are present and ready, as I can well imagine they might be in cases of rape. How exactly does this protect the right of a parent to make decisions for his or her own child?

(Note: I only heard half of this story so don't know details. Yes, I realize that means I shouldn't be shooting my mouth off. If you want facts, they're probably on the NPR website.)

Again, I don't want or expect everyone to have the same opinions as I do and I don't necessarily think the ones who don't are bad people - but is it too much to expect even politicians to live up to whatever principles they do profess?

Posted by dichroic at 11:37 AM | Comments (2)

April 27, 2005

call to action

I received the following in an email today, from the UCSD women's rowing coach. She's in a position to know the accuracy of this issue, in other words.

This is a battle we fought in the 70's, the 90's, and apparently again, in the '00's'. Please take a moment and click on and send a message to your representatives.  Having been an athlete before and after Title IX, I implore you to think of the women following in your footsteps, and take a moment now to have your voice heard.

Thank you, Pattie

From: Advocacy Coordinator <wosportwsw@app.topica.com>
Subject: Call to Action
Date: Mon, 25 Apr 2005 13:10:15 -0700

Write Now!

Female Athletes need you to act now!

We really need for you to do this! Two years ago, we were able to defeat Department of Education (DOE) efforts to weaken Title IX. Unfortunately, the situation is different this time around. Without public notice or comment, the deed has been done. Because of a March 17 directive from the Department of Education, colleges now have a way to stop adding women's sports teams even though women's participation is significantly lower than men's - just by administering an e-mail survey.

Overturning an existing action is much more difficult than stopping one in the first place. Legislation will be required. In order for our legislative initiative to be successful, your Congressperson must hear that his or her constituents are distressed about the current DOE action. Only then will he or she be likely to sign on as a cosponsor of the legislation or vote for it. So, e-mailing, calling or visiting your Congressperson is a critical first step. (Don't use snail mail because it will never get there due to anthrax screening procedures!)

So, we need you to help in two ways: (1) Please send your e-mail now. The link below will take you to an automated site...plug in your zip code/identity as a constituent, personalize if you want and it's done. (2) Pass this e-mail on to every friend you have who cares about investing in the health and future success of girls through sports. Ask your friends to help.

Donna A. Lopiano, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Women's Sports Foundation
Write to your Senator
Help us get 1 million girls physically active by joining our GoGirlGo! Campaign! Visit http://www.gogirlgo.com/ to find out how you can help and why it's critical that we get girls moving!

Founded in 1974 by Billie Jean King, the Women's Sports Foundation is a national charitable educational organization seeking to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity. The Foundation's Participation, Education, Advocacy, Research and Leadership programs are made possible by gifts from individuals, foundations and corporations.
Get to know the Women's Sports Foundation!

Posted by dichroic at 11:24 AM | Comments (2)

April 25, 2005

weekend recap

Saturday was exhausting, though successful. The inaugural Arizona State Junior Championship Regatta, for which Rudder did a good share of the planning, went as smoothly as I've ever seen a regatta go. (Quite likely because Rudder did a large share of the planning. He's good at it.) She-Hulk and I and another experienced female rower ran the docks and, if I may say so, did it well and smoothly. A certain amount of chaos is inevitable when you have boats going in and out and a lot of coxswains who are not used to launching from and returning to a dock (because we usually launch from a beach, and Arizona State rowing is very nearly synonymous with rowing on this particular lake - the one fledgling club from elsewhere didn't compete this year). There were no accidents, every crew got off the dock quickly as requested, coaches were cooperative, and there was very little yelling compared to what's happened at previous regattas here. The one guy who has dockmastered every other regatta here was not able to do it this year for political reasons that were entirely not his fault - but he does the job with considerably more bluster than we managed. As far as I could tell, not only was everything smoother but a lot fewer feelings were hurt this year.

In addition to being out in the sun from 6 to noon on a hot day telling people where to go and what to do, we had to pull in every incoming boat and push off every outcoming one, both to expedite things and because of people not being used to docks. We also had to do safety checks on all boats. By the time I got home around 1PM, I was exhausted.

I'd made the chicken soup and the dough for the matzo balls on Friday night, and had done most of the cleaning. Saturday afternoon's itinerary was to make the torte, form and boil the matzo balls, make the asparagus and the Potatoes Anna, set the table, open the wine, and put out the matzah (with horseradish and honey to suit all tastes). By the time dinner was over I was exhausted.

It was a good evening, though. Dr. Bosun brought a salad as well as homemade applesauce, from her home-grown apples. (I didn't even know apples could be grown here.) She-Hulk brought pretty flowers. The Old Salt and the Mobile Monet brought one of the latter's paintings, a waterscape from Lake Tahoe, for which I'll have to find a place of honor. There's nothing nicer than being given something beautiful the giver has made, and I want to be able to see this. (There is a piece of calligraphy done by Mechaieh sitting in a lucite frame on a bookcase in my office, where I see it right when I walk in. It helps to know I'll see at least one good thing each morning.)

I spent most of yesterday recovering, except for the part I spent erging 10 km. At least the erg piece helped with the ache in my back, as did the application of heat afterward. I was expecting to be up a little late flying, but it was just too windy for that - still, I was sore and tired enough this morning to be glad to have an excuse not to work out.

Also, since I don't think many people read it, I should note here that I've posted my Pasadic apple crisp recipe, or rather my Pasadic variations on Mris's pear crisp, in my LiveJournal.

Posted by dichroic at 01:56 PM | Comments (2)

April 22, 2005

don't say it can't be done

In the comments of Katallen's powerful post on Ratzinger and why he did have a choice, I've been having a discussion with Trinker on the current status of the US and its comparison to pre- or early-Nazi Germany. My point is that I think that while there is danger and we do have to be wary and to keep speaking out, it would be much more difficult to bring that type of repression to the US than it was to Weimar Germany because of our existing diversity, our Constitutional protections, and all of our avenues to speak out, especially now on the Internet.

I was searching for something else when I came across an interview with Pete Seeger. In it, he said better than I could why speaking out one on one and in web journals and in all of the other small spots where we can be heard is important, and why it does matter, and why there is still hope:

"When the Vietnam War ended and there were no more huge demonstrations in Washington," Seeger said, "a lot of people thought, ‘Well, I guess there are no big things happening now.' I believe the big thing now is many small things. The fact that many small things are going on is the big story. I think that there are probably not hundreds of thousands but maybe millions of people like me who are working for peace and work- ing to get out the vote—but doing it in a lot of small ways, instead of one big way, and I'm convinced that that's the best way to do it.

"This is a very basic philosophical point that I'm trying to make. When you're facing an opponent over a broad front, you don't aim for the opponent's strong points, important though they may be. Pick a little outpost that you can capture and win. And then you find another place that you can capture and win it, and then you move slowly toward the big places. Look at Martin Luther King. People wondered, ‘Why is he worrying about sitting at the back of the bus or having a seat at lunch counters? Why doesn't he go after schools, housing, voting, jobs?' He took on sitting on a bus, but he won it!

Or as Pete says elsewhere:
Don't say it can't be done,
The battle's just begun,
Take it from Dr. King,
You've got to learn to sing
So drop the gun!

Posted by dichroic at 03:52 PM | Comments (3)


I find it very annoying, somehow, that Amazon lists Caroline STevermer's When the King Comes Home as part of the College of Magics series. Same world, maybe. (One comment there says it is.) But it's pretty clearly not the same people or part of the same story. I've just read that Stevermer and Wrede are doing another Kate-and-Cecelia book, though, which definitely contributes to the day's quota of Good Things. I loved Sorcery and Cecelia and liked The Grand Tour - the weaker adjective for the latter is because I didn't like some of the characters quite as much the second time. I thought James was both bossy and slightly flat, and Kate was much wimpier this time around, though showing signs of improvement by the end of the book. Still, it was good enough that I'll buy a third book in hardback.

Note to book reviewers: could you all pleeeeease quit describing everything in terms of Harry Potter? I love Harry Potter, but I am not monogamous about books, and my love is not a zero-sum game. You don't have to denigrate Harry to make me love another book. You don't even have to tell me a book is like HP to make me read it - I love all kinds of books. I don't want them to be alike: if they were, why would I want new ones? So please, really, stop it. Thank you.

I had a much better topic to write about here, but my memory has been declining since I hit my late 30s. Or possibly even before that. I don't quite remember.

Posted by dichroic at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2005


First of all, black shirts do not go with dark brown pants. Dark brown shirts do not go with black pants. Ditto navy and black. So please stop. You may be able to get away with light brown or peat brown and black, and royal blue or cadet blue and black; however, there is a line between edgy pushing of the envelope and looking like you're colorblind and forgot to ask someone else to check your colors for you.

OK then.

Speaking of looking stupid, I need a photo of myself to send in for my reunion next week - someone is putting together a directory. I don't have a current photo I'm happy with, except maybe the MWAH! photo (see top left here) and I really don't want to send that to these former coworkers. I could send an older photo like the one on the bottom right on that same page, which was probably taken the same year I last saw these people, but it's a backpacking photo, not work-related. It's cute, though. Or I can sort through all of our photos at home (squijillions of them) to see what I can find, or ask Rudder to try to take one tonight. Like me, he's better at shooting mountains than people. I wish I had my brother-in-law's ability to look good in every photo taken of him, whether he's expecting it or not.

As of last night, I have decided: I don't like autopilots. Oh sure, they're handy when you're flying straight and level or in a steady climb or descent. But when you need them most, when there's a lot of turbulence, they don't work. (At least the ones in the little Cessnas I fly; the ones in jumbo jets are a bit more capable.) Even worse is when you're trying to use one for an instrument approach: the controller tells you to come down a thousand feet and you're trying to read the approach plate and simultaneously having to set a new altitude and descent rate. It's a lot easier just to fly the damned thing down.

Remember when you learned to drive, and it was so hard to simultaneously steer and keep your speed steady? And forget about reading a map at the same time, or using a manual shifter. Learning an airplane is a lot like that only even more so. Learning to fly on instruments raises that up another order of magnitude.

Posted by dichroic at 01:39 PM | Comments (1)

April 20, 2005

motivation issues

I just haven't been in a productive mood, workwise. That needs to change.

Or maybe it's a hibernation thing. It's been so cold in the office I brought in my Clapotis, because it's big enough to be either a scarf or lap blanket.

I'm flying again tonight; since it's cooled down a little and the front came in yesterday, I might be lucky enough to have not a lot of wind or thermals. Meanwhile, I need to up my mileage on the erg and in the boat for a variety of reasons. First, this IFR is taking longer than I thought. I don't need to learn much more but it'll still be a while because I need to log 50 cross-country hours before I can take the test. Second, my weight this morning was the highest it's ever been, ever, though I think I've gotten the flab down a little in the last couple of weeks. Third, the Oldtimer is giving me crap. He's hot on my heels on the Concept II log page for our group, and it he passes me it would be a severe loss of face for me. I have my reputation to maintain, y'know.

Plus, it looks like I may be racing in the Gold Rush (on the theory that I'll be there so might as well) so it's a good time to do a little more aerobic work. It's one of those things: I'll regret it if I do race (at least, right before the race I will!) but I'll probably regret it more if I don't. And if I don't do as well as I'd like there's always the "sorry, not in training!" hedge to console myself.

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

April 19, 2005

anticipatory stress

I don't know. I'm feeling overextended again and there is NO GOOD REASON for it. I flew on Sunday, the roughest flight yet: not only couldn't I hold altitude, the CFII couldn't hold altitude. ANd meanwhile the whole aircraft was bobbing and rolling like a boxer despite my best efforts to hold it steady. We'd have side to side rolling and small dips and bumps as well as long slow thermals and sinks that I couldn't seem to counteract, so we were moving around on two time scales as well as three axes. Yuck. (At least the CFII admitted he didn't like that shit either, instead of the usual "What? This stuff is fun!" And this was the first guy I'd flown with who shares my views on the header bug used to mark course on the gyrocompass, which is that it's annoying and obscures my view of the compass ticks. Most of the instructors insist I use the damned thing.)

I was sore Monday just from flying with my shoulders hunched up around my ears. I'd considered taking the morning off from workouts but was feeling allright so I did a relatively intense erg piece. Then last night I felt icky (possibly dehydration) - fortunately not too bad since I had to drop my car off for 30000 mile service. (I am *not* convinced 30kmile service is anything but a moneymaker for the dealer, but the car is leased so I feel I should be good about maintenance.) I did take this morning off and slept until 6. Or tried. Between Rudder's 4:30AM alarm and the cats, I wasn't terribly successful.

I think I'm feeling stressed partly by what's to come and partly because the heroine in my current book really is stressed and put-upon. (The first Sarah Kelling mystery.) Work is being relatively calm, but everything else isn't. Tonight I pick up the car after work. Tomorrow morning I ought to row or at least go to the gym. Tomorrow night I fly again. Thursday I work out, Thursday night.... I think it's too early to make matzo balls, but maybe not too early for the torte. Rudder will be injecting the turkey, though, which always means a kitchen atmosphere thick with onion and pepper and garlic, not the best baking environment. Or maybe I'll hit the supermarket for horseradish and apples and whatever else I've forgotten. I'm considering attempting a charoses-inspired Pasadic apple crisp, as if anyone faced with a chocolate torte really needs dessert choices. Clearly is a Bad Influence, though overabundance of food at holidays can reasonably be called one my traditions as well. Friday we'll be registering people for this weekend's juniors regatta, and I need to make the matzo balls so they can sit overnight before boiling. Saturday She-Hulk and I will be dockmistresses for the regatta after which I change clothes in a phone booth and fly home to make the soup and the torte, and set the table and neaten the house. Then later I need to make the asparagus and probably scalloped potatoes. And I need to make charoses, though I won't bother with the whole Seder plate (no idea where to get a shankbone, for one thing.) And then there's the fun of having people for dinner and the drinking wine and eating, and then there's the cleaning, then Sunday morning I have to fly again. I signed up for a slot at 10AM, in hopes I can have at least some wine the night before and not be feeling it by then.

So apparently the stress isn't entirely just rubbed off from my book. But pre-emptive stress is sort of a stupid idea.

Posted by dichroic at 02:58 PM | Comments (1)

April 18, 2005

journalcon research

In case anyone cares, I've just called the Westin San Diego: JournalCon rates are not posted yet - the contract is still in progress. Regular rates are $50 more ($30 more with AAA discount) so con rates are worth waiting for.

I pointed out to Rudder the guilt-trippy position he'd put me in and as expected he said I had to make the decision on its own merits. Also, there will quite likely be other rowers going to Boston he could hang with.

Posted by dichroic at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)

apparently related to "Doug not-a-slave-to-fashion Berman" of Car Talk

I should probably clarify: I am not a slave to fashion, as anyone who's met me more than once can attest. There are fads I'll wear because I like them and they're in, like, say, ponchos, and then there are things I'll wear whether or not they're in because they're me. Swirly skirts, especially with plain T-shirts or tank tops, are in this category.

I still think of a plain un-logoed T-shirt and jeans as my basic outfit, even though I don't actually wear the two together that often. It's not dressy enough for work (though I can wear jeans on Firdays and plain jersey T's anytime, with a skirt or trousers) and it's too hot here to wear long pants half the year, outside the office.

There have been some fashion-driven changes over the years, though they've percolated into my wardrobe slowly and it's taken me a while to realize them. In high school, I often wore a loose top or tunic over tight jeans or pants. Now my general silhouette is a little different (so is everyone else's). With a few exceptions for long loose tops or sweaters, most of my shirts are more fitted now. I hardly ever wear my unisex T-shirts because they just don't look good on me now. The few logo-ed shirts I do wear are cut for girls (either literally (I can still buy from the girls dept, if the shoulders are loose enough ) or figuratively ("baby Ts" for women)). My jeans have been low-waisted ever since that fashion became mainstream enough for me to notice how much more comfortable it was. I don't wear the low low ones because I have no desire to show off my underwear a la Lewinsky, but lower waists mean my pants aren't attempting to impose a topological feature not present in the region of my rib cage, which is where so-called "natural" waistlines usually hit me. I wear my jeans either straight down or boot-cut usually; this may change with long-term fashion trends but I will never again wear the tight unstretchy jeans popular when I was in high school. one of the wonderfully liberating things about adulthood is not needing to impress anyone that much, along with the ability to look critically and realize that anything that tight isn't even flattering on most teenagers.

(Did anyone else who was around for the 1980s ever notice how many girls/women in those tight jeans had sharp corners where the wide butt ended and the skinny legs began? Not a good look, I thought even then.)

I've come to realize over the years that the thing to do with fashion is to take advantage of it: when something you like is in, or the jeans are a good cut that year, buy. If you don't, you'll be kicking yourself two years later when you can't find it.

Posted by dichroic at 04:01 PM | Comments (0)

the Dichroic fashion report

I don't case what the Manolo says: this is not a good year for shoes. I've been looking to replace a pair of dressy black shoes (for the crime of being uncomfortable) and a pair of tan mules (love them, but they're looking very worn). Both pairs have to be wearable without socks or stockings; even in offices much more formal than mine, most women just don't wear stockings in Arizona, especially in the warmer half of the year. (I do wear tights in winter.) I haven't been able to find anything I like. The best candidates have been merely OK, and I can't throw out a pair of shoes I love for a pair for which I have lukewarm feelings. (In the case of the black shoes, I don't love the originals but I can get by with plain black slides for most instances of that wardrobe niche.) I did find a perfect pair of black shoes with an ankle strap, round toe and kitten heel, but I've returned them because (unlike most shoes from Kenneth Cole Reaction, they had no padding underfoot and the toe part cut into my feet.

The majority of the shoes I've seen are either ugly or uncomfortable. Of course, that's true every year, but there are usually more exceptions to the general rule. One issue is that to many shoes I've tried on have long, pointy toes that add an inch or two to my feet. This is not a good look. I wear size eights, for cats' sake. That's not unusually large, until you factor in that I'm only about 5'2". In other words I'm this short because too much of me was turned up for feet. They really don't need shoes that make them look even longer.

The one style of shoes I do like this year are the ballet flats, especially the ones with the sparkly bits on them. I like sparkly bits. The only problem with the latter is that a lot of them appear to be made to the cheapest standards, i.e. those not incorporating comfort. The ones I've tried on were scratchy and unforgiving; I'm sure there are better-made ones, but I'm also sure those will cost far more than I want to spend for shoes that will last six months and would in any case be way out of style in a year. (I did buy a pair of sparkly flat mules on eBay for $13. For that price I can risk discomfort, though they may still prove unwearable.) The plain ballet slippers do look comfortable, but I already have black flats, and I wouldn't get enough wear out of red or pink or mint-green ones.

What this is a good year for, is skirts. I love wearing skirts that billow out as I twirl and this is the year for it - ethnic printed dirndls and boho skirts with gathers and just-below-the knee skirts with lots of gussets. They're not too long, either; I actually love ankle-length wide flowing skirts but I have to concede mid-calf ones probably look better on me from a proportion standpoint. Therefore, I've concluded to hold off on the shoes as long as possible and to stop up on hippie skirts so I don't kick myself in two years when I can't find any. I've been told I have a hippie-ish style (by someone who still has Eighties big hair, that was) and accused, less recently, of having "granola" tattooed on my forehead. It's not really true; what my style is, is eclectic, meaning I don't really have one. Still, these skirts feel just right to me. The first ones I saw were far too expensive, the downside of them being in fashion, but now I'm seeing cheaper versions.

I actually started with the belly-dance-ish outfit at the Ren Faire - I figured I could always use a wide black skirt, but didn't realize at the time that the wonderfully full raw silk skirt I got would actually be in fashion for summer. (The coin belt and midriff top may get considerably less wear.) Since then I've succumbed to a khaki skirt that's narrow at the top but that has all kinds of gussets and inserts to flare it wide at the bottom, an apricot ethnic-printed (Moorish, sort of) skirt I can wear with plain brown or black tops, and a turquoise peasant skirt.

I'll probably wear that last at my Houston reunion, with a turquoise-trimmed black tank that has a design on the front that reminds me of something you'd see at a Grateful Dead concert, or on the wall in one of the druggier off-campus student houses in my college days. And it has sparkly bits on it. Did I mention I like sparkly bits? Anyway, it shows off my shoulders and it hides the jigglier results of not being in training, while showing off enough leg to prove I haven't been out of training for too long. And it's comfortable, it's cotton so it won't stick to me in Houston humidity, it's washable and not too binding to play volleyball if I want to but dressy enough to give me an excuse if I don't, and I can wear it with flip-flops (Teva ones with extra straps, so I could play v-ball in them if necessary) to dress it down a bit. And then I can come back to work and wear it with a black shell and blazer. It will be good.

Posted by dichroic at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2005

rowing flying sleeping

One other issue with JournalCon: when I mentioned it to Rudder last night, he said that if I don't go to Boston, he probably won't either, because it wouldn't be any fun without me. This is sweet, but guilt-inducing. I pointed out that he probably wouldn't want to go to the con; he agreed but said he'd rather stay home alone than go to Boston.

I don't believe he's trying to guilt-trip me; he generally just doesn't play that game. Still, it's having that effect, even though I've gone with him twice now. (Though he went with me once when I was racing and he wasn't, and last year we both competed.) I don't know. He may actually be looking for reasons not to go. It's a bit of a trap: if you do well enough to get an automatic in for the next year, it's prestigious enough that you feel sort of obligated to go and it can be hard to escape. There are quite a few other races near that time too, on other weekends: Newport, Marina del Rey, Austin, Atlanta, and of course the marathon in Louisiana. The sensible thing is probably to take what he says at face value and make my decision based on what I want to do. I'm not good at being sensible that way.

Flying last night went well. I was afraid it wouldn't because I was tired after work and it's a longer drive to the new flight school. But it was a nice night, and I had an instructor I like. We did a DME arc and two ILS landings (if you don't know what those are just nod and smile and move on). After we landed in the warm twilight and logged the flight, the night was so nice that I decided to put the top down for the drive home. Oops. There are diary farms near the airport. Note to self: in future keep car as sealed as possible when in proximity to large numbers of livestock.

This morning I skipped the workout, because tomorrow's video/coaching session will being me to 5 workouts for this week. Instead I stayed in bed until 6. It was wonderful. Tomorrow I may get to sleep until all of 6:30!

Posted by dichroic at 02:03 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2005

internal debates

About JournalCon, it occurs to me to wonder: how good a time to normal people have there? Most of the accounts I've read of it have been from people like Weetabix, people who get hundreds of hits and pages of comments each day. Is it as much fun for those of us without a huge following? I'm picturing myself walking around the Westin in San Diego wearing a big DICHROIC badge and trying to look cool, as people pass me, their eyes sliding off to the badge to my face and then off into the remote distance while they school their expressions to "Nobody home here," and walk on. Kind of like a bad day in junior high school. $169 a night is a bit much to pay for that. (Of course, if people I know end up going, things might be different. Not saying I need to be babysat or that I mind hanging out with strangers, it's just weird knowing no one when everyone else is greeting old friends.)

I think I may need to change my workout. I've been doing a hypertrophy (muslce-bulking) workout on the advice of the rowing coach we've been working with: sets of 5, 5, and 3 with the heaviest weights I can lift on the rowing specific exercises: lat pulldown, low row, dead lift, seated leg press, as well as 2x20 on some other stuff for balance. Problem is, it's sort of working. Between less aerobic exercise and doing the heavy short sets, I'm becoming a heavy short person. It's not all muscle, but it's not all flab, either. I'm sitting here in a fitted (fortunately stretch) button-down shirt that's clinging to my arms from shoulder to forearm like a desperate toddler around her mother's knees. I've had this shirt forever, and the arms were always snug, but this is annoying. I have similar issues with the legs of my jeans. Worse, if I gain much more weight I wouldn't be able to row as a lightweight, which is not so much a problem for competing even if I were racing (not all events even have lightweight categories) but which would require some serious mental adjustment. (Let's just say it's to where a doctor looking only at my BMI and not at my body would tell me to lose a few pounds.)

On the one hand, there is an actual reason to do the hypertrophy workout "due to the positive relationship between muscle size and muscle strength" (from the UCSD webpage). On the other hand, any unnecessary muscle I gain is something extra to drag around in the boat, and of course flab is totally useless. I may race in the Gold Rush regatta at the end of May: not sure yet. Otherwise I probably won't compete until at least fall, which makes this my off-season, a logical time to build strength. I think what I may do is hold the hypertrophy stuff to not more than once a week, do sets of 2 or 3x10 on the rowing-specific stuff as well as the other exercises if I make it to the gym more than once a week, and maybe try to get in a little more aerobic work, without taking the exercising to the point where it stresses me out. (Since I'm still working on the IFR and sm just switching to another flying school.) This week I've been good: I erged Monday, lifted hypertrophy Tuesday, rowed yesterday, and lifted again today. I'll also row a bit on Saturday as we're doing a video/critique session then.

For purposes of reference, today's workout was:
Warmup: erg 1km
Squats on Smith machine: 3x10, with the last set at 90lbs.
Assisted pull-up: 2x10, with the last set at an assist of 30 lbs.
Assisted dips: 2x10, with an assist of 60 lbs.
Seated leg press: 2x10 at 175 lbs
Calf raise: 2x10 on leg press machine, 275 lbs
Leg Abductor: 2x10 at 120 lbs
Leg Adductor: 2x10 at 100 lbs
Bench Pull: 3x10 ending at 75 lbs
Vertical Press (Bench Press on a machine): 2x10 ending at 60 lbs
Assorted abs and back, on a ball

Posted by dichroic at 02:05 PM | Comments (2)

April 13, 2005

Rules for a happy marriage

For some reason I started coming up with this list of "rules" after a particularly noticeable exercise by Rudder of Rule #1. (He avoided volunteering me to race a double with someone in May, even though she's pretty good, just in case I didn't want to race.) It started me thinking of the other rules we follow. SOme of these came naturally to us, some we had to learn.

  • Never volunteer your spouse for anything unless they've specifically told you to.

  • Don't marry anyone you don't respect. Otherwise you'll have to spend the rest of your life pretending you do, which is far too much work. (Don't marry anyone you don't love, either, but I'd hope that's obvious.)

  • Never call your spouse an idiot. Don't treat him or her like one, either.

  • Don't swear at your spouse. You can swear at a situation, but not at a person. (And of course, anyone who swears at (as opposed to in front of) their children - I don't mean, "Damn it!", I mean "You little bastards!" -- is a scum who doesn't deserve to have kids anyway. I used to have a neighbor who would shriek the latter at her kids, at a volume loud enough to be heard halfway down the street. Aside from the pure evilness of it, I always wondered at the logic of calling her own children illegitimate. Maybe they were, who knows.)

  • Never talk work in bed. Management-speak words like "paradigm" shold not be used in any context when horizontal.

  • Pick your battles. In some cases the winner should be the one who cares more about the issue, not the one who's right.

  • Try to notice how people treat not just you, but also your spouse. Men, especially, are likely to endear themselves to female spouses by refusing to play along in blatant sexism (as when a sales person assumes it must be the man who is buying a car). I assume the converse would be true also, for sexism directed against men.

  • You're going to disagree sometimes or to have to ask them to stop doing something that bothers you, so learn what works for you and your spouse in making it a productive, non-defensive discussion. sometimes those techniques you see in articles on how to argue actually work (like saying, "It really bothers me when you ____," instead of "You always ____").

  • Ignore tips in articles or lists like this unless they work for you, personally. Every happy family is not alike.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something critical here.

Posted by dichroic at 12:03 PM | Comments (2)


Somebody tell me why I row again? Actually, the problem isn't so much rowing as that I haven't been rowing and then not only went out this morning but did two thousand-meter race pieces. Well, sort-of race pieces. Not quite half-assed but maybe three-quarter-assed or at least enough to leave my ass and other assorted parts feeling it. There are blisters on my fingers, it's taking me several minutes to stand up, I'm walking like an old lady, and my lungs are announcing their presence instead of placidly inflating and deflating without fuss, as they normally do. You know about the lungs if you're an athlete or were one, or if you weren't but remember gym class vividly. This is where the lungs get annoyed at being forced to work hard and, apparently, cover themselves in a productive layer of gunk which I will now be coughing up all morning. When it gets really bad you can't take a deep breath without coughing and you then have exercise-induced asthma, whose only redeeming value is that it's not as scary as real asthma. It seems to get worse the shorter and more intense the piece you do is: I once pulled 500 meters in 1:58 and was coughing for two days.

The sad thing is that the faster of my two pieces was only 5:00.2. Not only is that not a time to beat other people, but even I can do considerably faster when I'm in training. I think I was hoping that getting a bit more rest these days would somehow magically make me faster when I got back in a boat.

Posted by dichroic at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2005


Some days I feel like a Who, as in "Horton hears a..." I seem to spend an inordinate amount of my time reminding people that I'm here - I and others like me.

The most recent thing to spur a reaction was someone who wrote a sentence beginning with "All Jewish women..." and ending with something that I not only wouldn't do but couldn't. ("All Jewish women take on their husbands' minhag" (family ritual customs) - a bit impractical for a woman who has married a man who's not Jewish.) It's not only religion, though - far from it. There have been people who unthinkingly assumed that because I seemed like a nice, reasonably normal person I must be Christian, but there have also been people who designed rock climbing walls that only worked for tall people, or who designed engineering processes that failed to consider software engineers, who only considered male points of view, or who commented that Americans (implying "all Americans") are fat and lazy, despite actually living in the US and seeing plenty of people who were neither on a daily basis. (This was someone who came from a country - Zaire - where fat people were rare enough when he lived there that it could be assumed almost anyone who carried extra weight was rich and didn't do physical labor.)

In each of these cases I feel like I'm jumping up and down yelling, "I am here, I am here, I am here, I am here!" I'm short, Jewish, female, nonobservant, a software engineer (or I was), and an American who reads, doesn't watch much TV, and whose besetting sin isn't gluttony (much). And I'm not the only one. I'm beginning to dislike words like all and every and to have a kneejerk assumption that tolerance is alway good. Of course it's not ("Oh, the Nazis have overrun Poland? Oh, well, it's just their little way, and they're not bothering us any"), because kneejerk reactors run exactly the risk of doing what I'm complaining about and assuming every situation is the same.

What I really need, I think, is a little guy riding on my shoulder yelling, "Yop!" at intervals.

Posted by dichroic at 01:16 PM | Comments (4)

won't it be a jubilee?

I'm getting very psyched for this Houston reunion, as I see the names coming in on the reply list. The guy whose boat I first water-skiied behind will be there. My old lead who used to draw us system diagrams that inevitable ended up looking like a plate of pasta, and who used to organize all the Hawaiian-shirt Days, will be there. The guy who limited himself to spending $200 at the local RenFaire will be there (a man after my own shopping heart). The guy who once tried to tie my toes in knots (at a party, not at work) will be there. My old boss that the song "Big Boss Man" always reminds me of will be there (he was a good guy, actually, but ..."he ain't so big... he just tall, that's just about all"). The guy who heard that a co-worker had been born in 1968 and said, "That's the year I lost my virginity!" wil be there. The guy I taught to use a mouse, back when it was something not everyone could do, will be there. The guy who used to have a block of ice with a channel carved into it at his parties, to drink shots from, will be there. The guy who looks like Tom Petty will be there. The HR woman who hired me into my very first real job will be there. A whole bunch of people with thick Texas drawls and deep Texas roots will be there, the sort who could be characters in a novel by Sean Stewart, and I'll have to adjust my own speech so they don't all tell me to slow down. (It was never the Texans who bothered me: true Texans may be conservative, but it's in the traditional sense and they tend to have a live and let live attitude. It was all the Bible-belters who moved in from elsewhere and wanted us all to be pod people that annoyed me, including the one who was elected governor after Ann Richards.) And all the good ones will probably have a few beers, tell stories, and either stay all night or move it off to a bar by the water. I love bars on the water. Can't wait.

Posted by dichroic at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2005

where to go, where to go

Yikes. Looks like I have a tough decision to make around the third weekend in October: Boston for the Head of the Charles, or San Diego for Journalcon?

Rudder's pretty definitely competing in the HoCR again, but I don't know if I would be and likely wouldn't be asked until much closer to the regatta. Last year's crew were pretty happy with me (she said, smugly) but a couple of them have moved since then and wouldn't be rowing with the same club anyhow. And of course if anyone asked me to cox and I had decided to go to Journalcon, I could always say no. Anyone going to either Boston or San Diego that week, please weigh in.

Posted by dichroic at 03:43 PM | Comments (3)


No luck on finding the Fabulous Outfit, thought I did get to do some shopping this weekend. I saw some very cool peasant skirts and a tube top I liked, but price convinced me not to buy. ($44 for a smocked tube top?? $98 and up for skirts with raw edges? Yikes.) I did end up buying a skirt and shoes from Nordstrom online, because I couldn't resist the skirt even though it won't be delivered until July and because the shoes will replace a pair that's too uncomfortable. I'm too old to wear uncomfortable shoes. Everyone's too old to wear uncomfortable shoes, in my opinion.

I do have things I can wear for my reunion in three weeks, so that's not a dire situation, but I have a couple other shoe issues - worn-out ones I like and wear a lot that I haven't been able to replace. I have very specific niches in my shoe wardrobe; these are "low-to-medium heeled comfy but not too casual shoes that can be worn to work and that don't require socks." one pair in black and one in tan. The niches are currently filled by a pair of black slides and another of tan mules, but both are looking a little ragged. The tan ones are especially worn, and for some clothing the black or dark brown shoes that are most of what I own are just too severe.

My other current problem is Passover dinner, what to make for. There will be matzo ball soup, of course, and a deep-fried turkey. Conveniently, peanut oil is even kosher for Passover, not that any of my guests would care. (One guest is even Jewish. I think two Jews - him and me - is a record high nmumber for my "seders".) Bread, of course, will be matzah. Now I just need a salad, a couple of side dishes, and a dessert. Currently under consideration for the latter three are asparagus, scalloped potatoes (the milk in which is even permissable since we're having poultry instead of beef) and my Pasadic chocolate torte, which uses ground almonds instead of flour.

Yes, my biggest problems are shoes (of which I have a rackful already) and what to serve guests for dinner. And also split ends, as usual. We should all have (only) such small problems.

Posted by dichroic at 02:12 PM | Comments (2)

April 08, 2005

The Red House

Am I the only one in modern times who has read E. Nesbit's The Red House? If so, it's a pity, becaue it's a lovable story. Unlike most of her books, it's for adults, not children, though there is a cameo appearance by the Bastables. (The Red House and its inmates also appear in _The WouldBeGoods_, if you remember the scene about the Antiquities.)

I've read through it before, but for some reason this time around, Len and Chloe are reminding me of a young Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, if they had found each other in springtime instead of late summer of their lives and had not had to pass through trenches and trauma before to get to their happiness. (The Red House was written in 1902, so maybe England in general was a little more innocent - after all the Boer War and Crimea were far away from home.) There are discussions of Proper Jobs - for a woman as well as a man, in 1902! I think Nesbit may have been doing a bit of the kind of idealizing Sayers and L.M. Montgomery did with the marriages in their books - her first marriage wasn't entirely unhappy, but what I've read of it suggests that she and her husband might not have had the pure understanding of each other Len and Chloe have.

They have an omnipotent friend Yolande instead of an omnipotent Bunter, but Yolande solves the servant issue in almost exactly the same way Harriet does in Thrones, Dominations. (Maybe Sayers or Paton Walsh read The Red House?)

It's a sweet book; a story beginning soon after a wedding and continuing through a happy marriage to the birth of a daughter couldn't be otherwise, but it has bits of acerbity reminiscent of Austen. Here's a bit of the flavor of both the acid and the sweetness, when the vicar's wife has just come to call, has mistaken Chloe (who was washing her own floors) for a maid and been corrected, and who has taken pains to tell Chloe how very exclusive the local society is:

"As the dear Bishop of Selsea used to say, we ought not to associate in intimacy with persons of distinctly different social rank from our own."

"Did he say that? Do you know him, then?"

"I have stayed at the palace."

"Are you sure you didn't misunderstand him? I have often heard him say that a man should choose associates of his own intellectual rank--"

"You have often heard him say?" The vicar's wife's voice trembled unaccountably.

"Yes--I know him rather well. He is my uncle. I never heard him mention your name. Yet I seem to know your face. Were you not Miss Blake before you married?"

The vicar's wife could not deny it.

"I remember you when I was a little girl and you were my uncle's housekeeper. Well, I was saying just now, domestic service is a very honorable calling."

There was a desperate pause. The woman was indeed delivered into Chloe's hands by the long arm of coincidence. She rose.

"I think I will go now," she said, in quite a broken voice.

Chloe caught her hand impulsively.

"I am sorry," she said. "I wouldn't have said it if I hadn't thought you wanted to be horrid to me. I dare say you didn't, really, but I have a hateful temper. Please forgive me. I won't tell a soul, if you'd rather I didn't. And I like you heaps better since I've remembered that you used to work too. Do forgive me! I won't tell any one, not even my husband," she went on; and I was shocked to find she could even think of keeping a secret from me. "Say you forgive me, and let me get you some tea."

Amusingly enough, despite the book's name, The Red House actually shows less of Nesbit's Socialist politics than some of her children's books. Len and Chloe sympathize with the servants, but don't mind being served (they are radical enough to view servants as people first, though - maybe that was Socialist, then). It's a sweet book overall but not sticky, and poignant in spots - when a woman gets pregnant now, her biggest fear doesn't have to be her own death in labor. I doubt it's in print, but I wish it were.

Besides, I want that house. Twenty-nine rooms!!

Posted by dichroic at 01:38 PM | Comments (1)


I think writers should have an idea bank, to which people could donate ideas for stories or essays. That way, no one would ever have to answer the question "Where do you get your ideas?" over and over, because the answer would be, "From the bank, if I run out of my own ideas." More importantly, I could have the pleasure of reading the story of the linguistics proessor who had a stroke, or the one about the Confederate reenactor who slipped back to the real battle, or the essay comparing Franklin's autobiography to Asimov's, without the bother of thinking them out myself.

If there are natural-born storytellers, I think I'm a natural-born audience member. Whatever you call the people who sit at the griot's feet, that's me. Not that I don't like to hold forth, but my proper place is on a soapbox or in a conversation, not in front of the fire when dinner's over and the tales are being told.

That's not a complaint, there - storytellers need audiences, writers need readers as much as readers need writers. There are just a coupl eof stories I want told so I can find out what happens next.

Posted by dichroic at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)

April 07, 2005

crew classic photos

Here are some pictures I've been meaning to put up. First, the dog-puke felted bag - slightly blurry but you get the gist:

Next, some from last weekend. Here's how you put a boat in the water (this is the local women's crew:

Here's how you get in (the men's crew):

Here's the finish flag, looking down the race course:

Here's Rudder's crew finishing their race, just after the race, and then on shore after recovering:

Here's a future rower, playing in the sand while waiting for his dad's boat to come back:

And here's what my truck looked like when we got home. All the rain this spring made for an EXTREMELY buggy drive. Unfortunately the windshield was very nearly as bad, despite cleaning it off every time we stopped for gas.

Posted by dichroic at 08:43 PM | Comments (1)


I have two sets of questions to answer, because other people were kind enough to give me things to think about instead of making me do it myself:

Interview meme:
1. Leave me a comment saying “interview me.”
2. I will respond by asking you five questions here. They will be different questions than the ones below.
3. You will update YOUR blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions

From Natalie:
1. What's your favorite yarn to work with?
I'm neither that picky nor all that experienced, so I'd sjut say a nice soft good-wool worsted weight. Two of those I've liked were Lorna's Laces Shepherd and Manos del Uruguay.
2. If you could go to any time and place, where would you go?
Depends: do I get to come back> If not, then it has to be either now or in the future, because I'm not giving up modern medicine. To visit, Samuel Johnson's London, ancient Ireland, or Britain after the Romans left and the Saxons had recovered a bit, but pre-Conquest. Actually, make that at the time of the historical Arthur (Artoris) so I can see what bits were based on fact. Also, Philadelphia at the time of the Declaration of Independence.
3. If you could only have one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I think I'd have to kill myself. No, wait - unless it was The Neverending Story - not the real book, but the story in the book that was literally Neverending.
4. Have you ever broken any bones? If so, which ones and how?
No. Not yet, anyway.
5. Styrofoam peanuts: irredeemably evil or a necessary evil?
Well, Styrofoam is recyclable, so not irredeemably evil. But I see no reason not to use air-popped popcorn instead.

From Brooke:
1. How did you get involved with rowing and what exactly is it? (I’m picturing rowboats like Kermit the Frog used to woo Ms. Piggy, and I know it has to be more high-tech than that.)
Think Olympic rowing. There's a picture of me and Rudder at here in singles. How I got into it: I had been playing Ultimate Frisbee a couple of times a week, starting November after I moved to Houston (1989). I met Rudder in March of 1990. By June 1990 it was getting too hot for me when we played in the evenings. (Ultimate involves a lot of running - think rubgy without the violence.) Rudder had rowed for a semester in college, wanted to get back into it, and had found the then=fledgeling Bay Area Rowing Club. (That's Galveston Bay, not San Francisco Bay.) He began rowing with them and talked me into taking a class, saying, "If you don't like it, you can always quit." Famous last words.

2. If you had to select one of your many interests and pursue it exclusively until you became and expert, which would you choose and why?
I'd read (actually, I think I already *am* expert there). Rowing and flying and knitting and beading, climbing and hiking and weight-lifting and so on all amuse or improve me, but I can do without any of them if I have to. Also, rowing is the longest-lasting of those and I've been doing it for fifteen years. I've been reading for thirty-five. It's sort of a habit by now.

3. How do you decide if you like a book? Is character development more important than plot? Do you like detailed descriptions or do you prefer writers who get down to the point? Do you always finish books or do you put them down if they annoy you?
No fair, that's three questions. a) If it's wonderful, I can tell because I want to reread it immediately or at least soon. (I thought I'd want to reread LoTR right away, but I seem to still be digesting it - in a sense I'm not done with the first rereading. Also, it's a big committment and sometimes no matter how wonderful, you just want a one-night-stand, bookwise.) b) Yes. I mean, my favorites range pretty widely. L.M. Montgomery, who is prone to descriptions of pearly skies over brooding lavender bays in twilight. Robert Heinlein does much less description except where necessary to the plot. Jane Austen described inner landscapes more than outer ones. Terry Pratchett doesn't do much describing at all, that I can think of.

4. With an unlimited amount of money, what are the first five things you would purchase for yourself? Who are the first five people you would buy gifts for and what would they be? Would you quit your job?
Oh, man. I think I wouldn't do much at all before I'd spent a lot of time thinking, because it would be so much fun deciding. I'd buy houses, more than one for me and wherever they wanted for my family and Rudder's - our parents, his gradparents, our brothers, and my uncle. There probably wouldn't be big initial gifts other than for family, though I'm sure over time we'd end up doing things like funding trips with friends. I'd buy plane tickets, or maybe part of a plane through one of those sharing services, so I could travel when and where I wanted instead of where the airlines went. I'd buy tuition, because I'd quit my job and go back to school for something like linguistics, cognitive science or folklore.

5. What is one thing new people knew about you before they met you? Do you think it’s easier to meet someone you’ve “known” online?
How would they know anything before they met me? If you mean meeting people in the flesh that I've known online, or meeting people that have heard about me from others, I think the two things that usually get conveyed are "small and smart" - more the latter for online people. It's not that I'm a genius, but that I'm smart in a verbal kind of way, so it tends to be more obvious than for someone whose smarts are more mathematical or theoretical, where you might not spot them on at first meeting. I don't know about "easier", meeting people that I've known online: I don't find meeting people especially difficult. What I would say is that when I meet someone in person I've known online, we're not strangers meeting for the first time. In some cases, we know each other better than we would if we had only met in person.

In a completely irrelevant topic, I did get in a spot of mall-shopping last night while Rudder had his meeting. It turns out that Land's End is not only no longer making the Perfect Work Pants (nonwrinkling, streatch twill, nice hand, right length, low-waisted enough for comfort, flat front, slight boot leg) but the new version that looks similar is not nearly as nice a fabric. Glad I checked then out at Sears instead of ordering). I used to be able to trust Land's End and L.L. Bean to keep putting out the same styles year after year, but aside from a few trademark items, they seem to be changing as fast as anyone else these days. I suppose that's not all bad; if they didn't change I'd never have gotten the Perfect Work Pants at all.

After being disappointed there I went to the Gap, where I ended up with another pair of khakis (similar to the other Perfect Work Pants, a pair of khakis I got there a year or so ago - I wish they'd had them in more colors, but khakis are always good for work), a low-waisted flared skirt in cotton sheeting also in a khaki color, very comfortable, and a pair of capris in a dark cadet blue. I bought the latter two a size up, partly because I like things a little loose and comfortable and partly because I didn't see my size there, but that turned out to be a mistake in the case of the capris. I'm wearing them today (with a black T and blazer). I couldn't really have gone smaller because there's no extra room in the legs (it's mostly muscle, I swear!) but I hadn't really thought about the combo of room in the hips and waist with the low waist in this style. I have to hitch them up when I stand up. And I checked - I can actually get these off without unzipping the fly. Oops. I think what I may have here are Fat Pants.

I barely managed to resist buying another skirt, in a very lightweight lilac cotton (muslin, maybe? I'm not good with fabrics) with a magenta satiny underlayer. It was so pretty, and fit well, but wrinkled quite a bit when I crushed a handful, and I couldn't walk in it wihtout having it cling to my legs. I can see the wrinkling; it's not unreasonable to expect people to iron their clothing (not me, but some people) and I might have considered it if that were the only issue. But the cling?There is such a thing as static spray but it's not foolproof. Don't these people test their clothing designs on actual people?

Posted by dichroic at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2005


I am very much looking forward to going to Houston in three weeks. I can't tell you how odd it feels to type that, mostly because I hated living there and was glad to escape ten years ago. I quite liked some of the people I met there, though, and I haven't kept in touch with many of them - a few rowers, our friend B, and of course Rudder (with whom I've kept in touch in a most literal sense). My old company has completed or lost most of its NASA contracts and before folding up shop and stealing away, they're having a reunion for all of the people who have worked there over the years and the various incarnations of the company. (It was owned by four different large aerospace companies during the 7 years I worked there, and there were a few more before that.)

My current boss was bemused by the idea of a company reunion; he said, "It must be some company." I don't think it is really anything special; I think one main reason people want to meet up is because there was so much socializing there after hours from the company. I don't know if that's a particular company thing or a Texas thing. We had Happy Hours every month. (Note to party planners: you set this up by calling a bar and telling them you want to have a Happy Hour there and expect X people to show up. They usually provide a roped-off area or reserved tables, free appetizers, and drink specials, at no cost to you. At least in southeast Houston they do. Then you make sure X people actually show up so the bar will like you and want to work with you again.)

I haven't seen most of these people since I moved away in December, 1995. The reunions planners decided to use eVite to track attendees, luckily for me, because it's been great fun to see the names of people responding. As I read the names, faces I haven't thought of in a decade, and some I have, keep popping up in my mind's eye. I wonder who I'll recognize when I get there: who went bald or got tattooed, gained or lost weight or dyed their hair, who has gotten married or divorced or changed fields or had kids. This will be fun. (And if not, it's Texas, so there will be plenty of beer.)

Some of you will be realizing the great problem this all poses, however - more than one, really, but one that I can do something about. (The issue of how to look good in all the photos is probably insuperable. I don't think I'm bad-looking at all, but I mostly don't photograph well. Any photos you see here have generally been culled from a herd of much worse ones.) The big problem, though, is of course what to wear. First and foremost, it need to look fabulous without looking like I've tried too hard. It needs to be casual enough for Houston, comfortable and lightweight in the muggy heat, and forgiving enough to play volleyball if someone starts a game and I get dragged into it. (I'm not crazy about v-ball, but that never seems to matter. Then again, maybe wearing a dress would be a good excuse not to play?) Also, it needs to make it clear that I am no broader in the beam than I was a decade ago (or not much), and if it highlights the added muscle without spotlighting the flab I've added this non-competing season that would be good too. It doesn't have to be extremely professional, since this is not a current work group or in my current city, but sleazy is never a good look either. (Well, not at my age/shape.) Oh, and again, Clear Lake (in southeast Houston) is a very casual area. You might see some big hair, but most people will probably be wearing shorts. I suppose I could try some of the Bermuda shorts that are supposed to be in this season, but I have a hunch they're among the many styles that don't have quite the intended long and lean effect on someone my height.

I'm going shopping this weekend, and maybe tonight. (Rudder has a regatta meeting this evening.) I plan to cruise the mall with the word "fabulous" firmly in mind.

Posted by dichroic at 04:05 PM | Comments (2)

April 05, 2005

stream of consciousness splutterings

How did it get to be so late? The felted bag looks a little less like cat puke now it's drier, but still .... in future I think I need to felt only a) single-colored yarn 2) yarn with harmonizing (not contrasting) shades 3) yarn in shades that would look OK blended (i.e. not a problem if black and white blend to gray). I can't wait to go to Houston! And that's something I never thought I'd write. I need to write here about the reunion I'm going back for. I also need to write someone about the great magazine article I just read in More - it was about how unfair it is that current books about raising teenage girls seem to alternately demonize and canonize them, instead of admitting they may just be human like the rest of us. And who knew I'd enjoy a magazine aimed at women over 40 so much? I read it at the chiropractor's office and he let me take it home. I guess there's not a whole lot of difference in interests between 38 and 40-year-olds. Big shock there. It's been a very short day since I spent the morning offsite in training and forget to wear a watch so haven't really been tracking my afternoon. Stupid Land's End made a pair of perfect pants for me and now before I got around to buying them in every color has stopped making them. I need to go this weekend and see if the style that looks similar really is. (It's convenient having them at Sears so I can try things on.) I also need to see if I can buy something to make me look fabulous for the above-mentioned reunion (that I still really need to write about). Maybe a new face would help. Preferably a more photogenic one. Gosh, it's late. Need to get a little more work done today.

And as of tomorrow the boss is out for 3 weeks!

Posted by dichroic at 05:27 PM | Comments (1)

April 04, 2005

oh, dear

I just removed my first attempt at felting from the washer. (I tried hand-felting last night, but wasn't having as much of an affect as I wanted.) It's nicely thick and fuzzy, though slightly more shrunken than I'd wanted, but unfortunately my pretty variegated Manos now looks like a dog's breakfast. Post dog.

With luck the colors will look better when it dries.

Posted by dichroic at 07:25 PM | Comments (2)

good times in San Diego

They Might Be Giants make particularly pernicious earworms. Anyone who has read Mercedes Lackey's SERRAted Edge books (the ones with Tannim the mage) may recall why they are particularly dangerous (or useful, depending on your perspective).

The weekend in San Diego was all right. Rudder's team came in fourth in their heat, which put them in the Petit Finals where they came in fourth again. Not too bad for a scratch team with two experienced very rowers, a few other Masters rowers, three ASU guys and two juniors. The weather was pleasant and so were the people I got to hang out with. (None of the ones I was glad to avoid when I left their respective programs was there, except the coaches. Coach DI is perfectly pleasant as long as he's not my coach anyway, and in fact I think he has mellowed a bit. He still can't organize worth a crap, but the parents in his juniors program generally take care of that and I think he's gotten a lot better at dealing with his rowers since his early coaching days. Yosemite Sam, on the other hand, was nice enough but appears to have morphed into the I-ching of rowing. Before each event he would given his rowers vague oracular pronouncements that made little or no sense and weren't particularly inspiring. At one point he told an outgoing cox to "paint a good picture". I knew what he meant - he claims a coxswain's job is to "paint a picture" for her rowers of where they are in relation to the course and the competitors - but I'm not at all sure she did.

Anyway, it was a pleasant weekend. It's odd to just show up to row with boats and everything all taken care of instead of having to do it all ourselves. I finished knitting the bag I was working on. We got home relatively early, so I took a stab at hand-felting it. It's nowhere near as dense as I'd like so I'll throw it in the washer next. I also started on some socks with actual sock yarn and size 2 needles, aka string and toothpicks. Tonight it will be time for laundry and all of the other minutiae of daily life, including the good bits about life with Rudder and the less good bits about stepping up my workouts.

Posted by dichroic at 01:28 PM | Comments (3)

April 01, 2005

in pacem

I have an odd fondness for Pope John Paul II. I disagree with him on many if not most controversial issues: contraception, abortion, married priests, women clergy, gay marriage, right-to-death / right-to-life, and so on, but I can't help but honor him for his consistency, his heroism as a young man, his reaching out to other religions, and his integrity. I believe that he competely believes in his own motto ("Totally Yours") and, even more more rare, that he tries always to act on it. I think his positions and those of his Church have caused some real harm and pain (imagine being a gay Catholic), but have also done a lot of good (imagine being a Pole in the 1980s), and that he has only been wrong, not malicious, oblivious, self-righteous, or evil. I don't know whether the good outweighs the bad, but luckily I don't have to judge that.

I can't concur with those who are praying for his miraculous recovery. The man is old and tired, and has been worn out in the performance of his duty. He hasn't spared himself when he thought there were things he needed to do. He's made it clear he wants to die as he has lived, at God's will. If God wills for him to recover, I'm sure he will be happy to live to serve on, but given his age and illnesses, any reprieve can't be for all that many years. What I wish for him is what I think he would want for himself, that in life or death, whether it comes soon or late, he always feels his God near him. That seems like the right thing to hope.

I wish you peace and blessings, Karol Wojtyla. I'd like your successor to be a little less conservative, but I hope he will have your faith and your concern for duty, and that he will continue to extend the Church's hand in friendship to people of other religions, as you did.

Posted by dichroic at 03:27 PM | Comments (1)

if you were wondering

Later note: The review went reasonably well. I am a "valued contributor", as opposed to "needs improvement" or "promotable", which isn't bad given that I've only been in this job for six months and am still learning. And I even get a tiny raise, despite having gotten a big one when I got this job. Woohoo!

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


Arg. Just asked by the boss to prepare a complex report for the uberboss.... by Monday. I don't think he realizes how much work these entail. I keep trying to tell him, but it's not penetrating the Don't Want to Hear it field bosses tend to have. He doesn't quite wave his hand and say, "Bah!", but close.

Unfortunately I can't work on it this weekend unless I take my laptop to a San Diego beach, which doesn't sound particularly good for the laptop.

And since I have an annual review meeting this afternoon, I suppose I'd best get back to it.

Posted by dichroic at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)