July 31, 2005

Sunday evening asnd all is well

We're back from San Diego; I'll write more later, but wanted to report that all is now well in my house.

(I don't actually like ice-cream cake quite as much as Rudder seems to think I do, but I did love getting an ice-cream cake with "#1 Crew Chief" on it for reasons related more to the intention than the taste.)

Posted by dichroic at 07:37 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2005

a little down

So far it still looks like we're headed for San Diego this weekend, though Rudder mentioned he might be coming down with something. I hope not, but given the week we've just had, with erratic hours, food, and sleep, it's far too likely. I do wish he'd won a medal; coming in 5th in his single race in the final at a worldwide event is nothing to be sneezed at, and he and She-Hulk did well in their mixed double, but sitll it's nice to have something tangible. (She-Hulk did win a bronze medal, for a women's quad).

Next question is, how do you plan a romantic weekend with someone who's just not inclined that way? I think he just finds candles to be uselessly ornamental. I told him I'd buy a new bathing suit, except for three things (1. he wouldn't notice; 2. his favorite kind of suit, at least on me, is the Speedo racing one-piece, not exactly what I had in mind to set a mood; 3. he'd find it far more exciting to know I'd saved the money toward the potential RV trip) and he started laughing because it was so true. Actually, I think I'd find a guy who was always trying for moonlight and roses to be annoying and exhausting, always trying too hard, but it would be nice for brief intervals. I won't be trading Rudder in any time soon because while I might find someone who didn't have his faults, in all my life I've never met any other man who didn't have much worse faults of his own. And if I did, he wouldn't want me, anyway - I have no illusions of perfection in myself. Still, while I have met happily married women who don't seem bothered by their partners' flaws, I've concluded that they are either far more patient than I, or just more reserved in talking about their annoyances.

Don't mind me, I'm still feeling a little down and unappreciated because of this past week. And it's really aimed at evreyone who was there, but poor Rudder gets to bear the brunt of it because, as the one who's married to me, he's the only one I think has obligations beyond common courtesy and friendship to consider how I feel.

Tell you what: you go read someone who's in a better mood and meanwhile I'll sit here, count my blessings, and try to appreciate what I have.

Oh- one thing about this, is that I feel a little better about skipping the Head of the Charles this year to go to JournalCon. I was expecting more people there, though - anyone going who hasn't yet registered?

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

July 28, 2005

world masters write-up

I just don't feel like posting a blow-by-blow account of the World Masters Games, so I won't. I think Rudder will do that on the Outlaw website (so far, he's got the saga of the trip there) and he's got results up there already, as well, so if you want the full history, go there. I'll just write up some of the high- and lowlights I remember, instead. There are more high points than low ones, but there's one big downer I want to vent about first.

The worst part of the regatta, for me, was that pit crews don't get no respect. I spent five days working my butt off (literally - my pants are a little looser this morning) fetching oars and collecting shoes, watching races and running back to bring shoes and take oars to get the boats off the water more quickly and make things easier for the racers, but when you're not the one racing, nobody talks or listens to you much. It's largely unavoidable; after an all-out race, of course everyone wants to talk over what they did, didn't do, and should have done, what they should do next time, and so on, and for decisions like where to go for dinner, the athletes' needs need to take priority. Still, I had this little fantasy where Rudder and co. would buy one of the medals they had for sale in the merchandise tent (flashy things, not like the real medals for winning races) and present it to me for being the Best Pit Crew Ever. They didn't, of course. I don't think it all has to be about me, and I certainly don't mind catering to other people for a while; it's just that five days of it get to be more than a bit wearing. I tried to make it clear that there was a problem back when it was still soon enough to do something about it, but I wasn't able to be clear enough (because having other people say they appreciate you after you've told them to isn't quite the same) and Rudder was braindead enough (due to not enough food or sleep) that it didn't help, and the two days where I just gave up and didn't talk much didn't make much impact. We talked the matter out yesterday, and I think he understands how serious the issue was for me. I confess, though, because I'm not a nice person, that I provided him a gratuitous object lesson in which .... it's difficult to avoid TMI, but in general terms I walked away at a time I'd normally have snuggled in and didn't let him provide retributary services, so he'd be the one feeling abandoned and devalued for once. (It actually says a lot for him, I suppose, that I even think that sort of thing would bother him. Some men would think of it as a bonus.)

One of the best things about the race was that the city of Edmonton (and the suburb Leduc, where the regatta was) did an incredible job of recruitment and publicity for the World Masters Games. They had plenty of volunteers everywhere, and everywhere we went, people were incredibly nice to us (I think some of that is national character, as well).

The biggest respect in which we screwed up was in not taking more time, to sightsee and to see other sports. We did see a little of Edmonton's downtown and also some of the West Edmonton Mall, which contains an amusement park, petting zoo, and water park and is second in size only to the Mall of America. Unfortunately I got deathly ill as soon as we walked in, I think partly from the noise, lights and number of people and partly from having waited too long and then eater too much and too fast earlier) and spent much of the time we were there trying to stay in range of a bathroom. (At least I wasn't queasy; the IBS is so much better than it was in my late teens and early twenties.) The others didn't want to just leave, because it was a bit of a drive to the hotel and because we were supposed to meet some people for dinner. Fortunately I felt a little better once we got into the restaurant where it was quieter and where there was a clean bathroom with no waiting line. Unfortunately, that all meant I didn't get to see the waterpark (Rudder and She-Hulk did take a quick run over) or buy the Canadian versions of the Harry Potter books I'd wanted.

The weather was lovely and cool, though unpredictable. Races in the afternoon of Day 2 had to be canceled due to too much wind. On Day 3 we all froze, but then a bunch of us got into the building they were using as Regatta Central and piled like puppies on a sofa, which was nicely warm in terms of both heat and cameraderie. On Day 4 they had to postpone the races for a while when a storm blew in, but it blew through quickly - meanwhile we lowered our canopy and all scrunched under it to stay dry, inviting in everyone else in range. It felt a lot like being a kid with a tent consisting of a blanket over the dining room table - fun.

The people at Telford Lake clearly had no experience in planning or holding a regatta; the venue is new, and is planned to be the site for many large events in future. Now they've worked the bugs out, those future events should all go well. It's a very nice venue. The first day, there were enough organizational issues that the regatta ran until about 6:30 instead of 2 as planned, with the unfortunate result that by the time we got to the Opening Ceremonies, we saw only about the last half hour. Rudder's pictures of the event came out brilliantly, though (I'll post some later). Things ran a bit more smoothly each day, and by about Day 3 they were running the races four minutes apart with almost no hitches. Each race takes about 4 minutes, and this is much closer than usual so they sometimes had two races on the course at once, which is nearly unheard of. There were something like 1300 participants, and the races couldn't run late both because of people's airfare and because the canoeing and kayaking events are on the same course, starting today, so the tight schedule was necessary to get everything in. It was made more complex when they have to make up races due to the weather stoppages, so some later races skipped semifinals and had just a couple winners of the heats go straight to finals, but everyone did get to race.

One planning issue was the food. For one thing, apparently no one realized how much rowers eat, and there were some issues with supplies and power as well. The grill shut down after about 15 minutes the first day, and they ran out of food on other days as well. Again, they learned over the course of the regatta, and an additional food truck was brought in the last few days. Another issue was the type of food: hamburgers are not an ideal food to eat before racing, They ought to have had bananas, and protein bars, nuts, peanut butter, nongreasy sandwiches, bagels, and so on. Also, since Rudder and She-Hulk had all those travel issues, they only got in late Thursday night, an hour or so before I did, so had no time to shop for food. Between that and all the schedule changes, everyone had a hard time getting enough to eat. The races ended so late each night that several times we couldn't get to dinner before 8:30 or 9 at night, which is a problem when you have to race early the next day. This got a little better once we'd gotten some fruit and sandwich materials. With all the physical activity - even I, who wasn't racing, was walking and running enough to be dead tired and sore each day - we still needed big dinners, and I'd gotten in at 1AM the first night and the others not much earlier so it took a while to catch up on the sleep and food deficits. Again, I think the locals learned enough over the course of this event that their next one should be smooth as silk. I just wish we hadn't been the guinea pigs. Still, there were things that were spectacularly well done - the number of volunteers, as I've mentioned; the number of athletes they'd gotten from all over the world; the shuttle service and the extreme niceness of the drivers; the signs all over the city that made us feel very welcome. I imagine that other sports, whose organizers had more experience, went a lot more smoothly, and the whole thing should be a huge and well-deserved boon to the local economy: no need to spend thousands, as with the Olympics, many more athletes (though there must be fewer spectators) and those athletes older and mostly better-heeled than most Olympians.

The best part of the whole thing was getting to socialize with rowers from all over. We cemented existing ties with the San Diego Rowing Club, hung out and rowed with people from Samammish RC in Redmond, shared shelter with Canadians and Kiwis, met Brits and Russians and Germans. Also, we got to spend some quality time with people from our own area; our local four-time Olympian (she competed for Bulgaria) usually only rows a single, but this time she rowed a double and a quad with She-Hulk and though in the past she's seemed to be expecting others to take care of her, this time she really went out of her way to pull her weight even off the water, setting up tents and chairs, making breakfast for She-Hulk when the latter was racing and she wasn't, and even doing a load of laundry we all contributed to. When was the last time an Olympian washed your socks? She also brough along her 14-year-old son; we'd known him for as least the last five years or so, but this was the first time we really spent much time talking to him (he hadn't come to "away" regattas with us) and we enjoyed his company greatly. Four other men showed up, two for a double early on (made semifinals, didn't make finals, promptly left) and two for several events on the last couple of days, so we got to talk to them and their wives. (And in one case, an adorable three-year-old, who learned about the whole concept of having your foot fall asleep after I sat him on my shoulders to watch his daddy race. Oops. I think he's used to a broader platform, seeing as this is his daddy.)

Another really nice thing about the trip was that the regatta was so absorbing - I was tired running to help all our racers! - that I totally haven't thought about work for almost a week. And now I only have two days to the weekend, and a nice, cool trip to San Diego to pick up our boats. She-Hulk and one of the other women we row with keep telling us we need to make this a nice romantic weekend. I keep pointing out that I'm going with Rudder, who isn't exactly the Master of Romance. His comment was that at least it could be a relaxing weekend, but I pointed out that he's not much better at that. He answered, "I think I can do that after this regatta!" But he'll have two days rest, so I doubt it. Still, it will be a nice drive together with time to talk (car rides are good for that) and lovely coolth on the beaches, and there's still stuff in San Diego we haven't seen. We might even get to go sailing, if we're lucky.

Posted by dichroic at 03:44 PM | Comments (1)

July 21, 2005

the military calls it a 'Charlie Fox'

America West is based in Phoenix. One would think, therefore, that they would have figured out that it gets a bit warm here in summer.

Apparently not, however. Apparently on their longer flights, those requiring a full tank of fuel, they have taken to kicking off a few passengers on flights leaving in the full heat of the day. They also may delay flights a bit, waiting for temperatures to drop a few degrees. Those most recently checked in get the boot first.

Yesterday, I left work a little early to take Rudder and She-Hulk to the airport. Plans were to drop them off, then return tonight in She-Hulk's car and leave that in the parking lot, so we could all ride home together in one vehicle. (Her truck, because Rudder's truck is too big, my car is too small, and my pickup only seats two comfortably.) I got them to the airport nearly two hours before their flight, but of course many other people on the plane were coming from connecting flights so would have checked in hours before. This is all about the World Masters' Games, which is not just a regatta but includes a wide range of sports, so apparently there were athletes of all types at the airport in the same boat, so there were a lot of upset people in the Customer Service line. About two hours later, I got a call saying they were on the bubble for getting bumped, and that the flight was being delayed a bit in hopes the temperature would drop two degrees. Two hours later, I got a call asking, "Could you look up the distance from Kalispell, Montana to Edmonton?" We discussed several other cities. Calgary was out for some reason; either no flights there or no excess capacity. At about 9:30, they asked me to come get them. However, they weren't quite done yet. There was still finagling to do. The airport is twenty minutes away, but I still got to circle it a couple of times and try to wait in a fwe different inconspicuous places, thanks to the post-9/11 No Waiting signs. No one hassled me, so apparently I looked fairly innocuous.

After all that I got to bed at nearly 11. I decided not to erg, as planned, but unfortunately I was up around 4:30 anyway, because Rudder was tossing and turning - nervous energy from his taper, I presume. Also, after all that he was very quesdy and headachy by the time we got home but seems to be better this morning. At 5:30 I gave up and got up to go to work. Rudder and She-Hulk were somehow able to check me in last night, so I should be all right, but my flight arrives after 11. This is going to be a very long day. Mine won't be as bad as Rudder's though: after all that, they still couldn't get on a flight that actually goes to Edmonton. They'll be flying out this morning, but to Kalispell, Montana, and driving 370 miles to Edmonton. AND Rudder will now be leaving a day later than planned, to drive the car back to Kalispell. So they won't get a practice row, they won't have much time to rig, and they’re worried about getting in before regiatration closes because Rudder's singles race is first thing tomorrow.

I am having Tea. In fact, I've pulled out the big guns in terms of comfort drinks and am having peppermint Tea. I hope it helps.

Later: She-Hulk called to warn me that the airport economy lot, where I usually park is full. I have a feeling it may empty by evening, but I'll either call ahead or park elsewhere. Also, I should have mentioned that the airline did give them each vouchers good on any flight. The problem is, you reach a point in life where time really is more valuable than money.

At about 2 (their flight was supposed to be at 10) She Hulk called from Seattle, whence they were about to get on a plane to Calgary. So the good news is they'll only have to drive 200 miles, not 400. Yippee.

Posted by dichroic at 09:25 AM | Comments (1)

July 20, 2005

happy? somewhat

Three things that are making me happy today:

  • My skirt is all rainbowy and fluttery

  • I have a little (a very little) more information about my job and the reorg.

  • I leave for Edmonton tomorrow night (Rudder and She-Hulk leave tonight, so they can get a practice row in tomorrow)

  • I just found out that the scene of The Little Colonel in Arizona is right next to where I row. The lake has only been there for about five years, and the dam that keeps the Salt River mostly dry for a few decades; at the time the Little Colonel visited it would have been a seasonal river.

I'm not quite as happy about the new Supreme Court nominee. So far, what I've heard is that he's young enough to influence the Court for a long time, very brilliant, very nice personally, and very conservative. He apparently has a lot of Democratic friends in D.C., which means either that they are the sort of people to follow power in any guise or that he's got the intergrity to respect people of differing viewpoints. I'm hoping for the latter, obviously.

The news reported that several liberal groups are planning to oppose Roberts for being too cnoservative. That's not right. There's no reason a Supreme Court Justice shouldn't be conservative, not in the law or the Constitution. There are plenty of reasons for preferring that he not be too far to the right, but that's a battle we lost last November. The more important question, I think, is does he have the integrity and the stomach to follow the law as written or judge it against the Constitution either as written or as the Founders intended in his best impartial judgement? Even if it means a particular case goes against his own bias? If so, then given that and the other things that have been said about him, he's a worthy nominee and belongs on the bench, whether or not I agree with his views. If not, then I hope they fight and filibuster if necessary to keep him off the Court.

Posted by dichroic at 02:12 PM | Comments (1)

July 19, 2005

taking offense

I have added a couple more points from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to the post below, right under the cut tage; the current post is tangentially about a discussion of the book, but contains NO spoilers.

I've been participating in a discussion of HBP on one of my online discussion lists. In the course of the discussion, one participant mentioned that she has perceived Lupin as "genderqueer" (her word; I'm still not sure of all of it's implications), and his forced resignation as an analogy for what happens to teachers who are gay. Those weren't all of her words - I'm omitting the mention of something that happens in HBP - but her comments were no more explicit than that. Another took violent and huffy exception to the idea of seeing such things in a children's story, and demanded that any further discussion of such things be so labeled in the subject line. In the initial post she stated that the books couldn't possibly imply "those sorts of things"; I perceived her later posts to be saying that discussion of characters' possible gay identification was filth that she should be alerted of in advance, to avoid soiling her eyes. (In all fairness, I have just looked back over her posts and they are not quite as incendiary as I remember, except for the demand that the subject line warn of any mention of homosexuality, so she could avoid it.)

I am offended. I am very upset at the idea that homosexuality (again, as an identification: there was no mention or implication of actual sex at all) is such a horrible thing that right-minded people must be warned lest they see something against their morals. Incidentally, I'm not sure it's relevant (given that again, no actual sex was mentioned or implied) but this list consists only of adults.

That's not the interesting part, though. Someone said something discriminatory, yeah yeah, I'm offended, yeah, yeah, nothing new there. The thing that interests me is that I actually feel freer to be offended here simply because I'm not in the group that was slurred. I'm not sure why.

I happen to know that there are people on that list there people on the who identify as queer or bi, but I'm not one of them. I've only ever dated men, or wanted to, really; I can imagine being attracted by a woman but it's a bit of a stretch for me. I identify as straight. I would be upset anyhow on my gay friends' behalf but I find in this case I'm offended on my own. She's saying I can't talk about something I don't think is wrong, and telling me I couldn't choose a certain identity if I did want to. She's telling me her view of what if offensive should take priority over my own. I don't want to have to put it in the subject line every time I'm talking about something someone else has decided for me is offensive.

On the other hand, if she had been speaking of something that was part of my identity, say Judaism, I'd be more hesitant. I would certainly speak out loud
and clear and unashamed if I thought someone was calling my religion dirty. On the other hand, if I were writing about Jewish theology to a list involving a lot of conservative Christians (and I have done so, though thankfully no one in that group disparaged my religion, or I wouldn't have stayed in that group) I would put something in the subject or introductory matter to say that this is what I was writing about,
this is what I believe personally (or don't, I'm not that religious) this is what the Rabbis say and others may disagree. A warning, of sorts. If someone talks about the suffering of the Palestinians at the hand of the Israelis, I don't step up and argue every time, unless it seems to be an especially unbalanced argument. The Israelis have suffered too, at the hands of terror attacks, and as long as that is understood, I can agree that some of their retaliatory actions were unjustifiably brutal. I make allowances, and try to understand what the person really means to say.

In contrast, in this case, my own identity is not involved at all, and yet I'm finding I have a much lower tolerance for this offense. Odd, huh?

Posted by dichroic at 02:37 PM | Comments (2)

July 18, 2005

either knitting or Harry Potter

If you're not interested in either knitting or Harry Potter, you might want to go read someone else today.

I would like to proudly announce that I am sitting here at work in my newly-completed sleeveless turtleneck! I finished it while reading Harry Potter on Saturday, wove in the ends and blocked it yesterday. It fits perfectly. It's based on the pattern in the Yarn Girls' book. There's a fine line between "based on" and "inspired by"; in this case I think it's the former. I used a totally different yarn with a different edge (Sirdar Denim Ultra Bulky in a denim blue), and did the armhole edges in garter stitch rather than crocheting around the edges, so mine is a little more cut away than theirs at the shoulders (not too much for work, but it does show my shoulders a little more), and I didn't use an accent color at the neck. On the other hand I used their measurements and adapted for gauge, instead of just looking at the picture and figuring it out for my body. In general their patterns are simple to knit; I started this one only two weeks ago, and didn't even take it to Santa Barbara last weekend. On the other hand, they're a little too simple: no shaping or other interesting details. This one is ribbed fairly high up so didn't need any, but I did add a little shaping to the other tank top I knit from their book, which I also finally got around to washing and blocking yesterday. I may wear it to work (with a cardigan) later in the week.

Below are comments, questions, and predictions from and for the Harry Potter books; the following contains the very spoileriest and most blatant spoilers for Half-Blood Prince. You have been warned.

Wormtail's silver hand:
Nuada, a hero of Celtic mythology (sometimes conflated with Lugh) has a silver hand. I'm still wondering if that's deliberate on Rowling's part, though Nuada was a king and warrior, and his hand was severed during a battle.

Return to Hogwarts:
I have some trouble believing that Harry won't return to Hogwarts. First of all, if you look on the flypage where all the books in the series are listed, they are all subtitled "First Year at Hogwarts", "Second Year at Hogwarts", and so on. Rowling has said that her reason for having seven books is that she thought it would take that long to train a wizard. So how does that work if the severth year isn't at Hogwarts? Second, I think Harry would be foodlist not to return. He's not there just for fun; he's learned quite a lot each year. He's going up against one of the most formidable wizards ever, and while it's clear his strength will not be in superior magic skills, it still seems stupid for him not to prepare himself as thoroughly as he can.

Has anyone noticed that Hagrid's choronolgy doesn't add up? We know from PoA that he was expelled fifty years ago, aged 13; he says in HBP that his home has been at Hogwarts since he was 13 (which might be a mistake; he's been there since 11, though it's possible he's only thought of the place as "home" since his father died, and I can't remember when that was). Yet Molly Weasley, who was at Hogwarts less than fifty years ago (presumably thirty-ish years, judging by Bill's age) remembers someone else as gamekeeper (Book 4). So what was Hagrid doing at Hogwarts from the time he was 13 until he took the gamekeeper job?

I have seen speculation (admittedly from people who are emotionally invested in the idea of a romance between Harry and Hermione) that Harry and Ginny's relationship is not an important one, just a teenaged short-term romance. I don't think so. Teenaged romances, especially short-lived ones, are characterized by great Drama, punctuated by declarations of undying love and ending in weeping, wailing, and ganshing of teeth at their end. Ron's affaire Lavender is a perfect example of the sort. Ginny lets Harry go too easily. I don't believe it. She's too tenacious; she's never let anyone go off into trouble without her before, if she could possibly help it - as witness the invasion of the Ministry in OtP. I do think Harry is right that she understands what he has to do, agrees about its import, and maybe even accepts that he has to do some things alone. But for anything where his friends can accompany him, I think Ginny will turn up again.

RAB: Dammit, I thought I was so smart for guessing that RAB might be Regulus Black - until I found that half the Potter-reading Internet thought so too.

Dumbledore: I agree with others that Dumbledore expected to die, and at Snape's hand. He didn't seem to mind his withered hand; possibly he knew it wouldn't be for long. More important, when he came back to Hogwarts after drinking the potion - and why did he know it would be so hard to drink, and not even consider the possiblity of a ruse? - he asked for Snape. Especially given that Snape would be reluctant to come at Harry's call, Madam Pomfrey would have been a more likely choice. Also, if Dumbledore had only wanted to keep Harry safe from Draco, Immobilizing him is not a great way to do it; it seems more likely that Dumbledore wanted to keep Harry from interfering in what he knew was about to happen. Also, I cannot imagine Dumbledore shouting at Snape simply to keep him working for the Order. It wouldn't have worked, for one thing. An unwilling Order member would be more dangerous than Kreacher. It seems more likely and characteristic that Dumbledore was requiring Snape to do something much more abhorrent: maintain his deep cover at any cost and kill the only man who had ever trusted him. On the other hand, I don't think his death would have been necessary to make him more powerful in the way Aslan's did in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; that would only make sense in terms of a much more explicitly Christian linkage than the books have shown so far.

I believe Dumbledore will be back, though. While Rowing has spent a lot of effort linking Dumbledore to the Phoenix - Fawkes seems to be more a familiar than a pet, Rowling has said on her website that Dumbledore's Patronus is a phoenix, and his body is consumed in white flame without any apparent outside intervention. Given all that I find it highly unlikely that there won't be some sort of rebirth. He may not stick around long, but I do think Dumbledore will come back in some way more substantial than as a ghost or a portrait.

Though I don't think Dumbledore is linked to Aslan, there do seem to be a few nods to other classics, though I can't quite tell if they're all in my mind or if they were in Rowling's as well. The dead people under the water in the cave reminded me of the ones in the marsh Gollum led Frodo and Sam through. In the repeated refrain that Harry is "Dumbledore's man", I kept hearing echos of Hawkin's pledge to his liege Merriman in the Dark is Rising books - though Harry's relationship to Dumbledore is of course more like Will's to Merriman. I can't imagine that JK Rowling readsHP fanfiction, for fear of being drawn away from her own vision (not to mention fear of lawsuits) or I'd think there were a couple other nods in there, between the scene with Narcissa and the fox and the bit about Lupin and Tonks (close enough to Werewolf and Metamorph that the latter could be backstory). I suppose there must just be a lot of foxes in England, and that other authors are, after all, following in JKR's lead.
Posted by dichroic at 01:28 PM | Comments (2)

July 16, 2005

Half-Blood Prince, comments but no spoilers

Done. This w as a much easier book to read than the last; there are certainly shocking and terrible things that happen in this book, but I don't think as many people will dislike it as did HP5. Eerything that happens feels somehow more 'right'; none of it feels like unnecessary roughing. I can definitely see why JKR says it's really one story with Book 7; there are more mysteries left hanging than in the other books. There's less of a feeling of completion, but it's not a really painful cliffhanger because at least we have a direction.

A lot of it is because Harry's not such a dickhead in this book. This time around, it's Ron and Hermione's turn to go through the more unsavory parts of adolescence, though more of it is backstage. That seems a little odd, as in the last two books, Hermione had suddenly developed a lot of empathy and insight into other characters; maybe it's that she just has a blind spot.

There are a few real spoilers I want to mention, but I think I'll wait another coupl eof days for that. And maybe a rereading.

Posted by dichroic at 09:37 PM | Comments (1)

Amazon and UPS came through

It's here!

Good timing too - I had slept late, erged, eaten while logging my meters on the Concept II site (got to eat right away for that glycemic window) and showered. The doorbell rang right after I stepped out of the shower. (Fortunately Rudder was available to answer it).

See you on the other side.

Posted by dichroic at 12:13 PM | Comments (2)

July 15, 2005

good plans

I am looking forward to this weekend. It starts tonight with an hour-and-a-half massage, followed by going home to wine and salmon grilled by Rudder. Tomorrow with luck my Potterbook will be delivered in the morning, as it was last time, but until it is, there's Order of the Phoenix to finish rereading, then Wild Swans to finish for the first (and not last!) time. (Also, if I can get Rudder to listen for the delivery, I ought to erg a bit.) Then there will be reading of HBP for several hours after delivery.

I hope it does come before noon. I can't stay up too late because on Sunday I have a short cross-country flight, just to an airport near Tucson and back to eke out a few more hours. We'll probably have breakfast at the airport after the flight. Afterward, I really ought to study up a bit, having promised myself to take the written exam soon. Also, along with all the reading there will be knitting. I finished the back of my sleeveless turtleneck last night, though I may go back and add a few more rows. It seems short. Now there's only the front to finish, two short shoulder seams to sew, and the neck to add. With such sedentary plans for the weekend, I ought to be able to get it done. Then I can decide whether to begin a baby blanket or another sleeveless top to take with me to Edmonton next week.

Also, there will be snuggling. Though I think Rudder knows but I'd probably better warn him that pre-delivery snuggling may be broken off abruptly if the doorbell rings. (No, I'm not that bad. I'd put the book down and come back, really I would. But I would make sure to get it, first.)

Yes. Good weekend plans.

Posted by dichroic at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

HBP spoiler policy

I have enough friends who are also passionate about Potter than I hsould probably post a Half-Blood Prince spoiler policy. If UPS is as timely as they were last time, I will probably be finished the book by late afternoon tomorrow. (If not, I will be bouncing off walls by then.) There will probably be commentary here. Any spoilers will be so labeled and stashed behind a cut tag, for easy avoidance. I may post some vague general impressions on the main site: I loved/hated it, other fans will love/hate it, it's darker than the others or not, I was shocked or not by what happened, that sort of thing. But no spoilers on the front page for at least a week or two.

LATER NOTE: Megan's pointed out that Bloglines ignores the cut tag. (LJ does too, but I think it just omits everything after the tag.) I'll try to remember to put in a clear warning and some spoiler space, as well. OK?

LATERLATER NOTE: Nevermind. (See Megan's second comment.)

I don't think I'll preorder next time. I really feel like I'm trapped in the house, having to wait for it. I won't even be able to erg unless Rudder can listen to the doorbell for me. Also, I'm not a huge fan of crowds, but some of hte parties might be fun, and since the book is being sold even in my supermarket, it shouldn't be hard to get without dealing with crowds, should I not be up for them.

Below the cut is some discussion of spoilers I've seen. There won't be any spoilers in my discussion, but I'll hide it anyway for the hypercautious, and so those who just don't care can avoid it.

Many of the spoilers I've seen are clearly not true, because they're mutually contradictory - particularly the ones about who will kiss whom. The problem is, I can't tell which ones. There are a couple, though, that I think are likely true.

The first is who will be the new DADA teacher. I believe this one because it seems logical in terms of both the story development and some comments JKR has made. It seems to match the way her mind works and would lead to some plot developments that would be great fun to explore.

The second is that purported page 606 some jerk posted on several LJ communities, placing it where it would show upon some people's friends' pages without warning. I went and looked at it. It looked right - I had just been reading OTP and the typeface, phrasing, and proportions all looked right. It could have been Photoshopped, but only by a writer whose commands of JKR's idiom is far better than most fanfic writers. Anyway, it seems like an awful lot of work for a mean prank. So I believe it, tentatively, even though I have heard it's a fake. However, it's nearly 70 pages from the end of the book. I believe it will turn out to be a real page, but that the shocking event on it will have an unexpected explanation: someone misunderstood what they saw, or or Polyjuice Potion was involved so the person they saw was really someone else, or the event was staged, or whatever. What I don't believe is that what the page says happens, did happen as simply as stated. It doesn't seem in keeping with anything I've read in the first five books. Furthermore, logically if it did, the book would likely either end there on a cliffhanger, with just a short chapter of denouement - though heretofore, JKR has always had some sort of satisfying conclusion and defeat to Voldemort in each book -- or else there would need to be a lot more book after it to deal with the repercussions. Anyway, this is all guessowkr, but that's my guess.

Posted by dichroic at 12:56 PM | Comments (3)

"it's always a perfect sky"

Yesterday, on the way to work, I heard a news story about labor camps in Florida that are disturbingly like indentured service, like the old mining towns ("St. Peter don't you call me cause I can't go / I owe my soul to the company store.") and another story on the London bombings. As I got out of the car, I thought, "What a hell of a world," and looked around for a spot of beauty to pull me away from despair. The problem is that I work in a complex of industrial buildings right next to Skthe back side of the city airport. Except for a few small scattered bits of landscaping in our parking lot, there is nothing but asphalt, cement, and manufactured products (cars, airliners, ugly buildings) to be seen. No planes were taking off on the nearby runway to lift my heart with their flight. I tried lifting my eyes to the hills, but that didn't work either. I can see Camelback and South Mountain from our lot, but while both can be beautiful to hike on, from a distance in July they are brown and bald and desolate, like the personification of despair in a Dantean landscape.

I pushed it all out of my mind as I entered the building for another long slow day in my windowless office. (I expect to be very busy soon, as the reorg takes hold, but right now things are very quiet. ) Later that afternoon, though, I went to make popcorn. As I stood by the microwave in a nearby office, I leaned on the window and looked out, as I always do, and I realized what I had forgotten in the morning. I looked out at the asphalt and the cement and the cars, but then I looked up, at the blue sky and the white clouds. I remembered something Richard Bach once wrote, in Illusions: Confessions of a Reluctant Messiah: "Is it a perfect sky? It's always a perfect sky," and something else he'd said in one of his essays on flying, that no matter where a pilot is, no matter how hemmed in city-ness and cement, at least she can always look up and see a free and unbound sky and know that her true home is right there. I'm not at the point in flying where I feel that the sky is my true home, but I've always loved to look at it. I don't believe there is anything more beautiful than the shapes and shading of clouds, unless it's galaxies; I don't have a very detailed faith, in the sense of believing I know exactly what God is and what She wants from me, but they keep me believing in a Great Artist behind the design of the universe.

This morning, the last thing I heard on my drive to work before I shut down my engine was a beautiful story from StoryCorps, from a bus driver who had gone out of his way to help a confused older lady find the friends she was to meet. He went into every restaurant on the block to look for them. When he had found them, he held his hand out to help her down. "I wanted to make her feel special, like it was a limousine or something. It's just a bus, you know?" He still remembered the feel of her hand and her comment that she was dying of cancer, but that he had made it the best day of her life so far. What struck me were the tears in his voice, as he said "I'll never forget her." He was the one who had done the kind deed, yet he was the one most affected by it. I'll wager she remembers the kind driver, if she is still alive, but he was the one who was so affected by the mitzvah he'd done that he had to tell the story to preserve it in an archive. And as I got out of the car and walked across the ugly parking lot, I instinctively looked up to marvel. Despite the pollution of the city, the blue was luminous, with a few white clouds to remind me of the monsoons that will be gathering in the next few weeks. It was another perfect sky.

Posted by dichroic at 10:20 AM | Comments (3)

July 14, 2005

reaction and rowing, rambling into a Rowling rant

Rudder's comment, when I told him about being asked if I were pregant, was "Well, you can use this to push you to work out harder."


OK, that's not really fair. His first comment was, "What? You don't look pregnant!" (Only the sad thing was, in that dress and while slumping, I did, a little. Say three or four months.) I did point out that I'm working out less not because I'm a lazy slacker (well, I am) but deliberately, to provide more time for the flight training.

Of course, that would be a little more convincing if I were studying as much as I should. I think I need to sign up for my written test so I'll have a deadline. (Two minutes later: called the FBO. They said I don't really need to be scheduled and can come in any time. OK then.... I'll plan for July 31.)

I did row today, but definitely picked the wrong day. Rudder says yesterday wasn't too hot. Today there were clouds overnight, which tend to hold the heat in so it doesn't cool off much, and at 5AM it was 95 degrees. Ick. I managed 8km, so at least it's enough to qualify (in my mind) as a workout, and not half of one. Still, working out in 95-degree weather is not my favorite thing. I don't like extreme heat much.

Rudder will be home this weekend, after all; a trailer is fortuitously heading out there from one of the local clubs because they'll be taking some of the San Diego club'sboats to Indianapolis for a juniors regatta, so Rudder's and She-Hulk's boats can go with it. I've informed him, though, that I already have plans for the weekend: a massage tomorrow night because I've been having some stress-induced problems with my neck, and of course reading on Saturday, starting whenever the UPS guy stops by. Rudder knows not to expect me to want to do anything else while I'm reading that book. Considering a new HP book only comes out every couple of years and that there's only one more, I don't think he's suffering too much.

It must be difficult to be J.K. Rowling right now. Of course she says (and believes, I'm sure) that she writes the story the way it needs to be written, whatever people thing, but with so much build-up she must be at least a little worried about the reaction to this book. After all, what if she has the big party for 75 cub reporters in that castle in Edinborough... and then when she reads them the book, they hate it? This is especially true because Order of the Phoenix was no one's favorite, not only because of the death of a character(spoiler removed to protect the unwary!) but because Harry is such an annoying prat for most of it. I can see why, that book did things it had to do and took Harry through some crises he needed to face. I think of it as a hinge for the series. I don't know of anyone who's avoiding this book because of that one, but two upsetting books in a row would be a problem.

There are also people who just think OtP is too long and bloated. I don't agree; there are parts that could be cut, but they'd mostly be unneeded plot elements rather than pointless bloat. Rowling has always needed better editing for logical flaws and inconsistencies, but that's nothing new.

There will be people disappointed in this one, I'm sure; it just can't be a light adventure story like the first couple of books. (Or if it is, I'll be the one disappointed.) There is too much going on, and the characters have all been through too much for this to be a simple story. The story will need not only danger but also some ambiguities and heartbreaks to work. That doesn't mean it all needs to be depressing, though. It could be compared for scope and content to Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series; in that analogy, we're moving through the last half of The Grey King or the first half of Silver on the Tree and there are wonders as well as terrors there, and new characters to love. Remember, Bran doesn't appear until The Grey King, and yet he's one of the most beloved characters in the book. And Silver on the Tree has Gwydion and the Lost Land.

I'm not saying that the series are entirely alike, other than that they are both lengthy series of fantasy for children/ young adults, that both draw on Celtic mythology (The Dark is Rising more than Harry Potter) and that I love both very much. But I do think the analogy is a useful one. This can't be a simple or easy book, but it could be a great one.

If I were Rowling, I'd be squirming on pins and needles to find out if people think it is.

Posted by dichroic at 11:41 AM | Comments (5)

July 13, 2005

back on, finally

My local network has just come back, after being down for most of the day - not internet, no intranet, no email, no shared drives. Very annoying.

So no time for a long entry today.

A few quick things though. Last night I gave in to my impatience and looked at a site purporting to have spoilers for HBP. For those avoiding spoilers, you may not have to worry much until after the book actually comes out. The information on that site (various postings to a forum) was so contradictory that I have no more idea not what happens in the book than I did before. It's quite possible that some of it was accurate, but there's no way to tell which parts - at least, not without spending a whole lot more time than I have to follow each thread and assess each poster.

My knee still hurts from Sunday's thwacking, but I was able to do my normal gym routine today. Knees always take a while to heal for me.

Also, when I said recently that I'd gained a few pounds? Impartial evidence: a coworker I see infrequently asked if I were pregnant. Granted I'm wearing a loose dress that I actually could wear for at least a few months of pregnancy, and that I was probably slumping, but still. She wasn't obnoxious about it, and I think I managed to keep her from feeling bad for asking, but still. I am NOT happy about this.

Posted by dichroic at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2005

being chosen and that damned tact thing

I pissed off someone I like and respect a lot yesterday. I knew what I said would probably enrage her, and I think she had a right to be angry with me, but I'm still not sure what else I could have said. I suppose I could have timed my comment better. She'd been treated badly by a couple of people and made a generalization about disliking the whole group they belonged to. I called her on it.

Now, the group she made the statement about is not a group that generally gets picked on too much (sorry, being purposely vague here). Further, my friend has had to deal with far more than her share of prejudice herself and it sucks when it seems like everyone else can get away with stuff and you can't. But still, I had to speak up.

Why? Two reasons: for her sake and for mine. I don't have the right to enforce a code of behavior on another adult, I know, but still, I believe that what she said went against her own true beliefs, and that she said it only because she was tired and frustrated and ticked off and just ready for someone else to have to do the hard work for a change, please God, I've done my part. I know that feeling well. But I don't believe in unconditional love. I believe in helping each other be what we can and ought to be, and helping to carry a burden when we're too tired.

But still, she's an adult, and I don't have a Behavior Police badge. It is her right even to hate if she wants to, and I probably just came off as pompous and interfering. So I guess I did it more for me. Whenever I've been silent in the face of prejudice I've regretted it, because whatever other people's standards may be, I'm not living up to my own. Her comment was mostly harmless, but if the last century's history proves anything, it's shown us what happens when you start generalizing groups of people, and where it can lead when you regard them as 'other'. As a Jew, I've heard a lot of discussion of what it means to be the Chosen People; I don't necessarily believe that Jews are specially chosen by God but I do believe that those of us who have seen and known what prejudice can do, whether Jews or any other group that's been the target of hate, do have a special burden. And it does suck, when we're tired and when people have been nasty and when it seems like everyone else in the world can say whatever they want and why should we have to be any better? But I believe we do. At least, I do, since I'm the one I can choose for. So I did it largely for me, so I wouldn't have to think less of myself for keeping quiet out of fear of having someone I care about angry at me.

But I wish I hadn't had to make her more upset than she was or get her mad at me. Sigh. I suppose I could have waited and commented later. It's that damned tact thing again. I never was good at that damned tact thing.

On a happier note, I think I didn't mention the good dream I had the other day, a couple of days after that awful nightmare. Best party I've been to in a long time. My friend D has a party every year on July 4 for his birthday, and I've missed it every year since leaving Philadelphia. This year, though, he made it easy to attend: the party was in a big building, and every door opened on a different city, so guests didn't have to travel to get there. For some reason, I took my mother and grandmother to it, which seemed to surprise everyone there, but they had a great time and the other people there seemed to enjoy them as well. (Do you think people's surprise might have something to do with my grandmother having been dead for eight years or so? She was alive in the dream, though - another nice thing about it.) I didn't actually realize about the doors to different cities until I tried to leave - I went out the different doors and couldn't find the lot where we'd left our car, until I went out one last door and the sky was still light, having been dark outside the other doors, and I realized that was because all the other doors led to later time zones where the sun had set, whereas in Phoenix it was still daylight. Good party, anyway. I think more people should set their parties up like that.

Posted by dichroic at 03:05 PM | Comments (3)

July 11, 2005

whang on the patella

Amusingly, Rudder's flight yesterdaywas apparently delayed because an early-morning flight got delayed and the repercussions reverberated through the day - the flight before his got delayed to his flight's time, his flight got delayed to the next scheduled slot and so on. Or that's his theory.

Meanwhile, when we were ready to go we stepped in and just flew off. Ha again.

I began reading Peg Kerr's Wild Swans in Santa Babara - I was going to save it for the upcoming Edmonton trip but it somehow found its way into my bag. I expected to like it; I like her writing on her web journal and a lot of people whose opinions I respect seem to love it. I was worried, though, that it might be depressing, since I knew part of the storyline involved the early days of AIDS, and that the two plots might be too disjointed, as some Amazon reviewers seemed to suggest. That wasn't my response at all; I got sucked in heard and early. I've peeked ahead, as I usually do, so I know that even the sad parts have enough grace and love to keep them from being unbearably depressing. Now I'm back home I want to finish rereading Harry Potter 4 and 5 before next Saturday's delivery, but I have a feeling I'll be done Wild Swans by then too. In fact, it's probably the ideal thing to read Saturday morning: not Potter-related at all and gripping enough in its own right to keep me from fidgeting while waiting. Only problem is, with Rudder gone and correspondingly fewer distractions, I'll be done it by 9AM Saturday. If you calln being swept along in a book a "problem".

Last night I whanged my knee on a corner of the (large, heavy, wooden) bed, smack in the middle of the kneecap. OwowowOWOWow. If you've heard of glass jaws, I think I have a glass knee; I certainly crumpled after I hit it. It's not swollen, that I can tell, but still hurts today - not so much in walking as when I climb stairs. I did erg to warm up at the gym this morning, and did do my regular seated leg presses, but I took the weight on that down a notch. Since what hurts is bone (tendon? cartilage?) and not muscle, I don't know if I need to avoid exercise that hurts it or if it doesn't matter, but it only hurt a little during the presses. Less than going up stairs. Still. Ow.

Posted by dichroic at 01:48 PM | Comments (2)

July 10, 2005

back from Santa Barbara

Wow. Santa Barbara is a very nice town, and he weather there was wonderful - nice and cool, with a sea breeze. Flying there went smoothly; we left here around stopped at Blythe to refuel, early enough that it was only hot, not blazingly hot. We got to Santa Barbara around 1:30. Rudder found us with no problem, and took us (and and my instructor, henceforth referred to as CFII since that's what he is - certified Flight Instructor, Instrument) to the Elephant Bar for lunch, and then down the main street so I could get a look at the town. The company Rudder went there to meet with had put him into an extremely nice hotel; we had a little suite with wood floors and a wrought iron bed and we'd booked a room for CFII. After checking him in and dropping our stuff, we all went for a long walk down the beach. I waded; I don't know how anyone can stand keeping their feet dry on a beach in summer, but Rudder and CFII did. We watched surfers and boogie boarders, but didn't get to see any kite surfers. The water is still cold enough that all of the surfers were wearing wetsuits, though other people were swimming in bathing suits. After that we walked out on a long pier and had dinner at a casuall place with a second floor deck. The food was all right, but I was very cold, not having brought a pullover. I didn't want to get too late a start in the morning and we were all tired from walking in the sand and from the salt air, so we walked back to the hotel and all went to sleep early. In the morning, we met for breakfast, headed to the airport, filed a flight plan and CFII and I headed back.

I think we probably left around 8:30 or so; we were expecting to get back here around 1. Rudder was on a commercial flight leaving around noon; he kept telling me he'd be back home "just a little after us". By the time we approached the airport, landed, taxiied, got all our stuff out, tied down the airplane, put the sunshades in its windows, noted down the Hobbs and Tach times, and I paid and drove home, it was about 2. It's 4:30 now, and Rudder's not here. There is this nice thing about general aviation airplanes: if the weather is acceptable at the departuer and destination airports and along the way, and neither the airplane nor pilot have anything much wrong with them, you can just go. I checked the airline web page and it looks like Rudder's plane was delayed for a couple of hours, presumably due to weather and some other airport entirely. Ha.

(Of course, it cou dhave been something wrong with the plane, which could just as easily have happened to mine, but still. Ha.)

Flying home wasn't quite as much fun. I was tired; Blythe was blazingly hot when we stopped for fuel, and we got some turbulence over the desert. Also, the whole last forty-five minutes was fairly miserable, as we descended into the blast furnace that s Phoenix in summer. The frst thing I did when I got home was to strip off my clothing and jump in the pool. For reasons I don't fully understand, my ponytail is still wet, two hours later (this is rare, in a desert) but no complaints about that.

Posted by dichroic at 05:28 PM | Comments (2)

July 08, 2005

they are us, and where we are

I've been thinking about a couple more things related to yesterday's bombing in London, one interesting and one dsiturbing.

Yesterday I rowed and so I got my news from NPR and then from Yahoo. Today I showered at home and watched the more mainstream morning news on TV. Even there, there seems to be far more coverage of the attacks than I remember there being on the Madrid train bombing last year. Why? More people were killed in Madrid, and there was at least as much organization, since there were 10 explosions. My theory is that many or most Americans feel closer to the English than we do to the Spanish, because of our colonial history, our more-or-less common language, and our close cooperation in the wars of this century. We do tend to be a bit self-centered in our focus on how an event affects us - but it looks to me as if we consider Londoners "us".

I wish I knew how our Spanish-language news services reported the Madrid attacks, in contrast to our English-language news.

Next point: it is proverbial that governments tend to prepare armies to fight the last war. That seems to apply for major terroist attacks, too. After 9/11, we tightened security in airports; after this we are tightening security on public transit. I hope that this is a misperception because what I hear is what makes the news rather than what security organizations really are doing, because it's a stupid thing to do. It's not hard to think of a dozen targets that would be more effective, if you had no qualms about taking innocent lives and wanted only to upset the greatest number of people. Those cretins in Oklahoma City upset public opinion far more (fortunately, only against themselves) because the building they blew up contained a daycare center. Just in the next week there will be large and chaotic gatherings of children in hundreds of unsecured locations. Most people there will not be being "vigilant", because they'll have their noses deep in the book they're waiting to buy. It's not a soft target - it's downright mushy. But it's not unique; there are gatherings of people every day for one reason or another. We can't stop them and we shouldn't - but for those whose business it is to be paranoid and to take precautions, it might be better to think about those situations, than one that's already been done. Last I heard, lack of imagination is not an entrance requirement for terrorists.

Posted by dichroic at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

flight planning

I'm trying to get ready for my flight to Santa Barbara tomorrow, and back on Sunday. There are so many things to remember that I feel like I'm drowning in paperwork - odd, considering I'm only flying a lightplane.

  • Check weather (this is just so I know whether to pack shorts or jeans; I'll do an aviation weather check tomorrow for things like expected winds at altitude and cloud ceilings
  • Flight planning. DUATS make it much, much easier, but I still need to double check it on a map to make sure that the route it picks is the most sensible one, and to make sure it doesn't demand I fly on an airway too high for my unpressurized plane.
  • Pack the walkie-talkie. Only because my silly husband refuses to own a cellphone.
  • Figure out where to park the plane at the destination airport - so Rudder knows where to find us. See previous point.
  • Decide if I need to stop for gas on the way. I don't legally - the flight will take about 35 gallons and I have 53 gal. usable fuel, but that's not including time to taxi or delays due to headwind. I have enough reserve that I don't really have to stop but ... it's my ass in that airplane. Also, make sure the place I plan to stop actually does have fuel.
  • Figure out what phone number or radio frequency I need to use to close the flight plan at the fuel stop.
  • Print out charts of the destination airport (Santa Barbara), the fuel stop airport (Blythe), and the alternate in case of bad weather (Santa Monica).
  • I need to pack some clothes, too.

Most of that is done by now - more would be, but I need to change the ink on my home printer because the printouts of the airports came out blurry. For some reason my work printer doesn't like the PDF files. The funny thing is, this is all much, much easier than planning a VFR (visual) flight would be.

Not everybody does this much planning for every cross-country. However, not everybody flies over a desert in 114-degree heat, either. Screwing up would be annoying.

Posted by dichroic at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

July 07, 2005

a literary knitting question

On a happier note, here's something I've been wondering.

Background: (It seems whenever I'm wondering about something there's always a lengthy background.) I've been watching cartoons lately while erging. I'm not at my best or brightest at 5AM, or whiler erging in general; the combination of the two prohibits functioning brain cells. I was watching the news, but you can't watch morning news for more than about twenty minutes without seeing far too many stories repeated. It turns out that from 5 to 6 AM, I can watch Disney Playhouse and see The New Adventures of Madeleine and Pooh's Playhouse. Oddly, the latter, which has stuffed animals supposedly inside a book in a sort of fuzzy Claymation, is followed by an animated version of Pooh. And the characters are recognizable in both but different in each: the animated version is more faithful to the original books. Owl is more pompous and Rabbit more irascible, for example.

At any rate, in Pooh's Playhouse yesterday, Piglet had a dream in which he encountered heffalumps. They were cute: shaped like small colorful elephants, with spots that changed color and noses shaped more like a seahorse's than an elephants trunk. Their language consisted entirely of the doo-wop sections from old songs. Through the use of pantomime and the help of a small, shy, nonscary heffalump, Piglet eventually figured out that "Boom shaka laka laka" menat "My feet are cold" and he solved the problem by knitting socks for all the heffalumps. Several sets of four socks, in almost no time - he must be an incredibly speedy knitter. His knitting hobby has been mentioned in other episodes, as well.

My question, for any parental types or anyone else who has reread Milne lately, is did Piglet knit in the original stories, or is that a Disney invention?

Posted by dichroic at 04:55 PM | Comments (3)

London calling

It sounds like all the people I know of in London are OK. I'm trying not to feel too relieved, reminding myself that that means the people someone else knows in London are not OK.

I rowed this morning, which meant I heard the news on the car radio at 4:30 AM. That's a horrible and appropriate time to be blindsided by news of tragedy. My first thought was of Ruthie, then I started running down a mental list of UK pifflers, trying to remember who is and isn't in London. Three and a half hours later when I got to work, most of those people had checked in. So I had a bit of relief until I remembered that M'ris is in London right now. Within an hour, though, Timprov had heard and posted that she, Mark, and their party are unhurt.

The first time I remember the Internet being used to report and check in disaster must have been about 1986, when there was a big earthquake in California (LA?). That was before the World Wide Web, but newsgroups were very active and one was set up that day for people there to check in and others to ask if someone had been seen and was OK. I knew then - I'm not prescient; it was obvious - that something had changed in the nature of communities and in how people talked to and cared for each other.

Today a community has been set up on LiveJournal set up just for Londoners to check in, and a list of those LJers who are known to be unhurt. I'm sure other web communities have done the same. People are talking about who's there, who might be hurt, who has checked in.

Funny thing: nobody I know only from physical meetings is in London now (to my knowledge). I'm grateful to the Internet for providing a means for me to hear that everyone there I care about is OK. But everyone there that I care about, is a person I've met online in the first place. I'm grateful for that, too.

Posted by dichroic at 01:52 PM | Comments (1)

July 06, 2005

it came by night

I had a horrible nightmare last night. Rudder and I had decided to take cryogenic sleep for 10,000 years. Actually, it wasn't really cryogenic - you just got a shot and went off to sleep. No chilling, no special maintenance facility, just sleep in your own house. It was mostly his decision, because he was bored nad unhappy with his job and thought things would be better that far ahead. He got his shot and had chosen to lay on a pallet on the floor instead of in a bed; he was drowsey but still awake ad talking to me. I was about to go get my shot, when someone from work (a specific, current coworker) called with something she needed me to do. Rudder wanted me to ignore the request, since after all they'd have to manage without me for the next ten thousand years, but I decided to do just this one thing first. When I got back, he was asleep. I stood there and looked at him and realized that we hadn't thought this through nearly enough, and that I didn't really believe it would work or that we'd survive, asleep, for all that time. And I realized I had to decide whether to follow my husband into a sleep I thought would likely kill me, or live the rest of my life without him.

That terrible decision was what made it the worst nightmare I've had in years.

Note 1: When I woke up, I deduced that he had decided to sleep on the floor on the theory that the bed would rot before he woke up. Why he thought the building would last ten thousand years, I have no idea.

Note 2: He actually is a little tired of his job, having been in the same position too long, and as I've noted, they're reorganizing, so he'll need to make some changes that could affect me. But we've talked it through, I made a conscious decision to follow his job (it's his turn) and I'm much happier about that than my subconscious seems to think.

Note 3: And then there's always Plan C: the RV trip.


In a totally unrelated matter, I've just finished two Sean Stewart novels back to back. Perfect Circle was good, along the same vein as his Mockingbird and Galveston, though a little more depressing than either. But his older book Nobody's Son totally blew me away; it was different enough from anything else of his I'd read that I wouldn't have guessed it was by the same author. I think it's a YA novel; one of the awareds listed on the front cover was for YA books, though there is a little sex (within marriage) and some very adult decisions to be made. What makes it a YA for me, is that Stewart directly discusses meaning-of-life sort of issues that adult books tend to address in a more indirect way. As a not very subtle person myself, that's one thing I appreciate in the genre. It's probably one reason I read speculative fiction, as well: adult SF and fantasy is much likelier to be more direct than "literary" books. LOTR is a prime example, and though Sean Stewart's own adult fiction is a bit more oblique, it's not hard to find the important points he's making. Even for me.

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

July 05, 2005

anniversary weekend

We were all gathering last weekend for Rudder's grandparents' 65th wedding anniversary in Sacramento - all of the children and grandchildren, and assorted spouses. (Unfortunately, the one set of great-grandkids and their mother couldn't come. They had good and sufficient reason, but I was hoping to see them. And their father forgot to bring pictures.)

My poor mother-in-law did not have a great weekend. First, on the drive down from Oregon, the plastic lining the right front tire area came loose There wasn't a dealer near, so they ended up taking it off and fixing the loose ends with duct tape. After driving a 1966 truck into extreme geriatric old age, they had decided to treat themselves when purchasing this latest car a couple years ago, which made this sting a little more; as the MIL said, you don't really want to be driving your BMW with duct tape holding it together. Next, on the way to the airport to pick us up, the two of them both missed seeing a stop sign and got pulled over. They didn't get ticketed at least, and it gave them a story to tell all weekend (ou know how parental types are, with the repeated stories. We went to see the grandparents, picked up Rudder's brother from the airport, then she and I lolled around the hotel pool, in the course of which the pool light came out in her hands. We did get it to stay in place, eventually, and I was hoping this string of little misfortunes was just going to add a little color to the weekend. Unfortunately, things blew up after that

Saturday night, we all gathered at the local aunt's house for dinner. Everyone ate the same things, so we don't know if it was something else she'd eaten or a bug, but the MIL woke up at 5AM to throw up. She stayed in bed all day, but it didn't help - there was a period in the afternoon when she couldn't even keep water down. And she wasn't able to make it that night to he formal dinner celebrating her parents' anniversary.

We had a good time otherwise, but my heart's still a little broken for her. Sixty-fifth anniversaries don't come around often, and they'd decided to get everyone together because her mother's short term memory has gotten very bad; soon she won't be able to share in a conversation at all. (Right now she mostly can't; but every once in a while an old memory will get through or she'll respond to flattery.) So we took any many photos as we could (so did everyone; we have pictures of people taking pictures because it was a true representation of our weekend) and we tried to remember all the stories we cold to tell them to her. But it's not the same.

Rudder and I got home yesterday, our twelfth anniversary, by around 1:00. Much as I love fireworks it's just too blasted hot to be outdoors for long even at night, but I did want to do something celebratory. We went to see Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which I highly recommend as an anniversary movie. It reminds me of True Lies, but this time the wife gets to kick ass too. It wasn't exactly profound, but clever and witty and some parts of the marriage rang true to life for us. Afterwards we had an early, relatively fancy dinner, consumed most of a bottle of wine, and engaged in other celebratory activities. Rudder passed out (not literally) very early, but fortunately woke up again before I was ready to go to sleep, so I didn't end up feeling abandoned.

He had to work today, but I have the day off, which has been handy. Every holiday should be followed by an extra day for getting chores and errands done!

Posted by dichroic at 06:42 PM | Comments (2)

July 01, 2005

FO post

Last night I finished crocheting straps on the Rowan Cotton Braid tank top, so it's all done except for tucking in ends. It's based on one in the Yarn Girls' book, but I adjusted it for a totally different yarn and just kept trying it on for length and width. I got the fit right this time, yay. I will probably crochet around the bootm, which will add a hair to the length and, I hope, keep it from wanting to roll upward.


Posted by dichroic at 01:35 PM | Comments (3)

a JHC maneuver

Awright, time for a little clarification here.

First, I have lived in this body for thirty-eight years. I know it well. I know what it can do, what it doesn't want to do, and what it should be. I'm moderately fond of it, but there's no denying that it does have some annoying flaws. (IBS and a natural lack of endurance are two examples.) And I know how it can and should look, and how it should perform. Unless you have seen me naked and had extensive discussions about my athletic performance, you don't. I am not the fittest person you know, just possibly the one who talks most about training. It's not the same thing.

Possibly I was misleading when I used the word "overweight". What I meant to say is that I weigh a lot for me. Some of that is good because it's muscle from weightlifting. Some of it is not good, because it comes from not doing enough cardio.I would like to remove the latter weight but not the former; I could happily weigh ten pounds more if it were all functional weight.

Further, I have seen my body change since l I deemphazized training to work on my flying. Not only am I more jiggly, but a year ago I could sit down on any given day and erg a half-marathon. Last year I rowed a full marathon. I don't think I could do either of those right now. Also, I know women who are much fitter who weigh twenty or even fifty pounds more. However, I am not only 5'2" but also small-boned, so as LA commented, a little bit of weight makes a big difference on me. Also, I have a fairly rectangular shape: no defined waist, relatively small bust and hips. Women with an hourglass shape can put weight on and just exaggerate the hourglass effect, but When I put weight on it goes straight to the gut, which is just not an attractive look.

I am trying to get back to where I was last fall, more or less; I'm not trying hard, because training is still not a priority, but I am trying to work out a little harder when I do work out, not to eat when I'm not hungry, and to go easy on the soda and fried foods. I don't think those steps qualify as "obsessive". I may sound obsessive when I write here, but that's mostly because this is the place where I talk about myself and I often work things out for myself as I talk or write. Believe me, I do not go around thinking, "OMG I'm hyoooge!" But I do really hate when clothes that fit well last year are tight.

Second: yes, I am being judgemental. I try not to judge individuals, but I do still judge people in the aggregate. I would prefer more people not to be fat because there are some associated health risks; I want people I like not to have health risks so they'll be around longer and I want everyone else not to send up insurance rates. For similar reasons I'm not thrilled when my friends smoke. Several of them do; I don't bother them about it because they have a perfect right to make their own decisions, but I don't have to be happy about it.

Now, I'm not assuming fat people are stupider or lazier or less sexy or of less worth as human beings. However, what they do have in common is that they weigh more. Ignore for a moment the studies that say that weighing more contributes to heart disease, diabetes, cancer and all that. People argue with all of those, and it's true that weighing too little can also strain some body systems. As an engineer and an athlete (more or less) I tend to look at things from a functional viewpoint. If I'm fat, I have more weight to haul around. That's OK if it's tissue that helps do the hauling (i.e. muscle) but not otherwise. More weight per muscle amount means more to haul over distance when you're walking or runing or cycling or rowing, and it means a lot more impact on land. Force on joints is mass times acceleration. Further, it's an impact force, so the time in question is very small - F = m * dv/dt. dv is the change in velocity - when I walk, my leg goes from whatever speed it's moving at to zero in a fraction of a section, so it's a noticeable change in velocity divided by a very small change in time. It's a lot of force on leg and feet joints, is what I'm saying. Also, if you're fat, you are bigger. There's more tissue to keep oxygenated, so your heart and lungs have to do more work for the same level of activity. Therefore, fat people are likely not to be able to do as much stuff, or to have the stuff they do take a bigger toll of their body. This is why I tend to think it's a bad thing that so many people are fat in the US.

On the other hand, some fat is needed to provide energy to keep the body running and to provide a little padding on the sharp edges. A little reserve seems to help the immunity system, as well - when my weight was too low (the summer I was a camp counselor, some parts of college) I got sick a lot more. This is why overcompensating with strenuous diet or excessive exercise is also bad.

Finally, that 77% weight percentile I mentioned yesterday is by age and height, so it takes by the droopiness of age and my height into account. If it weren't by height, I would expect to have an even lower percentile just because I'm short. If I thought most other American women worked out, I could figure that many of the ones who are heavier are just more muscular. In fact, it's almost certainly true that some of them are in this category, but from general observations, probably not most.

In my specific case, extra weight gained has to be hauled along in a race. It slows me down. Also, I have flat feet and weak knees, so I don't want to increase the imapct on them. I don't plan ever to be a runner, but I have a lot of sightseeing left to do, and walking is a good way to do it. I want my clothes to continue to fit so I don't have to spend lots of money on new ones. I need to retain enough fat to supply energy for long or strenuous workouts and so I get sick less often. I need to be able to work out a lot both for the feeling that I can do anything I want, physically - lift heavy things ro go on for long distances or run fast when I want to - and also because it seems to help a lot with the IBS. I know my operating parameters, is what I'm saying.

Posted by dichroic at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)