August 31, 2005

Geordie Whelps says hi!

4:03 CDT update from WWL TV website (AP):

Michael Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services, announced he had declared a public health emergency in the area stretching from Louisiana to Florida. "We are gravely concerned about the potential for cholera, typhoid and dehydrating diseases that could come as a result of the stagnant water and the conditions," he said.
Chertoff and Leavitt spoke at a news conference attended by an unusual array of department and agency heads, each of whom came equipped with a list of actions already taken by the administration.
For his part, Bush flew over the storm-affected area during the day on his way to Washington from his Texas ranch. With the administration eager to demonstrate a rapid responsiveness to the human tragedy, the president also arranged to make public remarks in the Rose Garden after returning to the White House.

I don't know, maybe it's that liberal-media thing again, and the writer did this on purpose. But it sure looks like:
Paragraph 1: A person in a position of great power worries about dreadful consequences and has taken extreme actions.
Paragraph 2: Others in power are cooperating and can show that they have already done much hard work.
Paragraph 3: President Bush waved as he went by!

Paradxically, it makes me feel worse about my country's leader and better about those working for him, all at once.

Posted by dichroic at 03:18 PM | Comments (1)

New Orleans blues

I am home sick / working-from-home today. Don't worry, nothing major wrong with me. How odd to realize that the shorts I am wearing are about twenty years old. (Jams were in then. This is one reason I still have the shorts; I don't wear them often, or outside at all.) They fit comfortably enough, but I think they were looser when I was 19.

I've been fairly glued to the news coming in from New Orleans. I have enough memories of that city to take this personally - Rudder went to school there and still has friends whom I hope did not remain in the city; we used to go fairly often when we lived in Houston. We haven't been back since we went to mardi Gras in 1998 or so, but we still do a lot of Cajun inspired cooking and throw Mardi Gras parties every couple of years.

The reactions have also been fascinating. I was a bit taken aback at the Mississippi Governor's comparison of Biloxi to Hiroshima, which last I heard wasn't hit by a water bomb. On further thought, though, that may have been accurate: I keep thinking the whole area's under water, but if the tide that rolled over Biloxi has gone down by now, the resemblance may be there. I was also wondering whether, if National Guard members had been in place instead of in Iraq, whether things really would be better, as many bloggers claim. However, they're requesting 2000 volunteer workers from the Homeland Security Dept., so obviously the extra hands are needed.

Someone should tell Shrub that flying from close to the catastrophe to a thousand miles away is not going to be enough to save him from being criticized for not doing enough. I tend to think that he's fairly irrelevant to all of this, anyway, unless he can either mobilize resources others couldn't (which, to be fair, he has done a little in tapping national emergency gas and oil reserves) or in visiting in person to raise people's morale, as he did after 9/11. (Only problem with the latter is that immediately thereafter, he ticked those same people off, by not delivering funds he had promised for emergecy workers. If you're wondering, that's not a blurb from those so-called liberal media - I asked a firefighter of my acquaintance.) Granted, Shrub will be criticized for not doing enough no matter what he does. I'd feel sorry for him, but I think he honestly earned a lot of that bad credit, and anyway, most of my compassion is being funneled to Louisiana and Mississippi right now.

I've read the defenses, but I do reserve the right to be annoyed at people looting, defining looting as the ones taking electronics or dozens of pairs of jeans rather than those taking needed food, diapers, or whatever. And I do think it's a but ungrateful to yell at emergency services for not rescuing you fast enough after you disregarded the warnings. Too many people weren't able to leave town for good and inescapable reasons, but it's hard to think of an excuse for those who are mobile who didn't at least get to a friend in a higher part of town or at least, if staying home, stockpile a few days' worth of food. I reserve those rights, but am applying them very sparingly: I know that there are too many who couldn't move at all, or whose stockpiled food was wiped out when the flood passed all normal flooding levels (flooding is very common in New Orleans) and filled their house up to roof level.

I am very impressed at the number of donations pouring in, as I was after the 12/26 tsunami. Once again, I had to donate via the web, because phone lines were jammed. I've rarely been so happy not to get a call through. I'm also hugely impressed at the people helping, either those mobilizing to go in or those helping in other areas: the families and churches in Arkansas harboring refugees for no one knows how long, or the city of Houston clearing the Astrodome's schedule through December so it can serve as a refuge as long as it's needed, or the city of Dallas opening its schools to any children of refugees who want to go there.

New Orleans always did bring out the best and worst in people.

Posted by dichroic at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2005

what happened to the Audubon zoo?

I have an aversion to unairconditioned heat. In hot sweaty weather, I dehydrate very quickly. One result of this, for me, is frequent trips to the bathroom. I keep trying not to picture life in the Superdome, which now reportedly has walkways slick with humidity, filthy bathrooms, and more and more people being evacuated in. The National Guard is not allowing people to leave, and there's nowhere to go anyway.

I have a lot of fond memories of New Orleans. I also have all of the Benjamin January books, a decent working knowledge of American history, and a fairly good idea of the epidemics that ran rampant in New Orleans before modern public health: yellow fever and cholera, for two.

So I've donated to the Red Cross. If you want to, too, you can go here or call 1-800-HELP-NOW; I'd recommend the website because I couldn't get through on the phone. Fortunately, I also have some trust that our infrastructure and a healthy dose of Cajun self-reliance will make this ... well, still a tragedy, but a less dire one than it could have been.

This all is giving me new insight into Indonesia after the tsunami: imagine all this in a place where fewer people have power boats to get around, where there are fewer helicopters and less training for search-and-rescue, where there wasn't enough warning to get 80% of the population evacuated, or national stockpiles of gasoline, or or or or or....

Posted by dichroic at 02:22 PM | Comments (1)

August 29, 2005

preliminary anxiety

I set a new record for this year Saturday - did the half marathon in one hour, fifty-six minutes and 23 seconds. That's not a PR - I did one last year about fifty seconds faster - but it's nearly four minutes faster than last week's. And fifty seconds isn't a whole lot over 21, 097 meters - about 1.5 seconds average split, whereas I averaged more than 5 seconds faster than last week. The good thing is that this is partly because I did the whole stinkin' almost two hours with no breaks, but it's also partly because I just rowed faster. This was after going flying the the morning, so I'd already had that to tire me out and work up a sweat (we've had heat advisories the last several days. I ate half a bagel, drank some diluted Gatorade, and took more of the latter up with me to the erg, where I took a swig without stopping about every 2000 meters. I won't even try to push on that long when I do the marathon at the end of September: I'll permit myself a brief stop every 6 or 7 km and will probably again drink on the fly every 2K or so. I need to do the math to figure out what split I have to do to match last year's time.

In the meantime, I have other things to be anxious about. On Friday, we leave to fly to Lakeview, OR, in a Cessna 172. We did this once before in a 182: this is a less powerful plane, but a nice new one. The seats are more comfortable, for one thing, and it's a little reassuring not to be flying something as old as I am, even if airplanes do get much better maintenance than most cars. The worst thing is knowing that if we had to make a forced landing anywhere on the first half of the trip, we'd have to put down into a 110-degree desert, with only the water we're carrying with us. (We'll take some extra, but water is heavy.) We'll have a few snacks and will do Lindbergh one better by taking peanut butter AND jelly sandwiches. As Rudder reminds me, though, most of the time we'd be able to put down near a road, so chances are even if we can't make a phone call from wherever we are, it wouldn't be all that long before rescue came. And of course I've flown over heated deserts four times before this summer, on round trips to San Diego and Sanata Barbara, which no airplae issues whatever.

Plus, this time I'll have Rudder with me. He doesn't know the aircraft as well as the instructor I flew with before, but for dealing with emergencies, I'd put my money on him. And there won't be any emergencies, anyhow; that's what aircraft maintenance and preflight inspection and flight planning are for.

Still, better to get the worrying out of the way beforehand.

Posted by dichroic at 01:45 PM | Comments (1)

workout entry

Monday, 8/22: 15,000m on the erg: 5k at marathon pace, 5k at 10km pace, 5k at half-marathon pace.
Tuesday, 8/23: Supposed to fly, ended up with ground lesson due to crosswind.
Wednesday, 8/24: 10,800m on the water. 1K warmup, 2x 2K at 5K pace, 3K at marathon pace (well, almost 3K, the last time around). No blisters, yay.
Thursday, 8/25: 9000m on the erg: 3k at marathon pace, 3k at 10km pace, 3k at half-marathon pace. Good speed - the half-marathon 3K was faster than the 10K pace one either on Monday or last week.
Friday, 8/26: 12,000m on the erg. 1.5K warmup, 3x 1.5K at 5K pace, 2K at marathon pace.

Saturday: Half marathon, 21097 meters. Third weekend in a row. FOUR minutes faster than the two previous half-marathons, due to both increased speed and NO rest breaks! (I have no intention of doing the marathon either on the water or on the erg without rest stops, but it's still good to increase the time I can go without stopping.

Total 67.9 km for the week.

This morning: 9000m on the erg: 3k at marathon pace, 3k at 10km pace, 3k at half-marathon pace. The bottle of wine we consumed last night really didn't help the workout, but at least I did finish it, at not too bad a pace.

This week is the end of this cycle, so I'm only scheduled to do 50km - there's a light week at the end of each cycle. I will probably only manage 30-40 km, because we're flying (as pilots) to Oregon on Friday, returning Monday, weather permitting.

Posted by dichroic at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2005

a few tips

The political types and the news are annoying me again. Since each election season starts earlier than the last one, I thought it might be helpful to print some useful tips now:

    Note to conservatives:
  1. "Liberal" is a valid political position, even if it's one you don't agree with. It's not a dirty word.

  2. Liberals don't typically act as they do because they're immoral. More commonly, they act as they do because their own morals so dictate. For example, tolerance of other religions may be as cherished a value to one person as a particular religion is to another.

  3. Bullying is not generally a persuasive tactic - at least, not in the long run.

    Note to Liberals:
  1. Few of you believe in classic tax-and-spend liberalism anymore, but to those few who do: give it up. There are damn few Americans who trust their government enough for that to work. And the evidence is clear that that skeptical attitude goes back to the Founders.
  2. Some of those conservatives really believe those values, you know, and are not just using them to try to gain power over others. Thing is, those are the best people, the ones you want to work with. You won't get anywhere with them until you convince them that you are not trying to take away their rights to live as they wish, where those don't impinge on others - "others" in this case don't include their own minor children. (This is of course not counting the nutcases whose so-called values lead them to child abuse. However, you need to assume people are not nutcases until they show you they are.)
  3. "Shrill" is not generally a persuasive tone.
    Note to both sides:
  1. The vast majority of us are not extremists and aren't listening to or believing your party line, on either side. We tend to assume most of you aren't acting in our interests, anyway.
  2. When someone disagrees with you on a specific point, they might be only disagreeing on that one point. It's neither necessary or productive to receive every disagreement as an attack on your core beliefs, or to drag every point of contention into every argument on any subject.
  3. Even people who don't agree with you .... are people. Treat them that way.

That's the short version. Stephen Carter's book Civility pretty much covers the long version.

Posted by dichroic at 12:41 PM | Comments (3)

August 25, 2005

foreign policy

I was listening to the news this morning, to a story about some men who are being held at Guantanamo. They are Uighurs, members of a Muslim group in northwestern China. As I understand it, the US Justice Dept. has determined that they are not a threat to the US, but are holding the men until some other country can be found to take them in as refugees. They don't want to send the men back to china for fear they'll be mistreated or even tortured, but don't want to set them free here even temporaily "because we might be wrong and what if they are a threat to Americans?" (It strikes me that that may be the first time I've heard an official in the Bush administration use the words "We might be wrong." Pity it's in this context.) We don't want them here just in case they turn out to be a threat after all so we're trying to convince some other country to let them in. Apparently the issue of whether they might be a threat to other countries has not been considered, except of course by the other countries consulted, who have all refused so far to take the men.

It all reminds me of Arlo Guthrie's description of Reagan's foreign policy:

We gots to have our missiles over there in Europe. If we had 'em here, we could never use 'em. Because them Russians be knowing where they're comin' from and then they'd be bombin' us and we'd die. So you see we gots to have our missiles over there in Europe.

He didn't understand. But I knew I 'uz makin' sense because it weren't two weeks later I got a note from the President. Said, "Dear Arlo, Saw you on TV the other night. And you explained our foreign policy so wonderful and so clear that even I'm beginning to understand it!"

This isn't making me feel better about our current foreign policy.

Posted by dichroic at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

the ugly and some good


Work is crap, and at this point I'm both uncertain and ticked off.

The news is crap, too. And a friend of mine has just miscarried, on a first and dearly wanted pregnancy. I've read so many infertility stories that I was so pleased, for once, to see someone decide to get pregnant, conceive right on plan, announce it to a thrilled extended family, and move smoothly into a regimen of healthy eating and baby plans. And now this. Crap.

On the other hand, the BRAC commission seems to be a doing a decent job of not implementing stupid decisions about our national security, which comes as a great personal relief to at least one friend. And today has brought me the best sonnet I've come across in a long time. And this morning on the erg, I finally seemed to be picking up speed, a bit, compared to the identical workout last week and the week before.

There's always something, isn't there?

But even so, crap.

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

August 24, 2005

more training stuff

So far so good on the training. The tricky part now will be to keep going when life interferes without either getting to anal about making a set of arbitrary distances or letting things slide too badly. We're flying to Oregon Labor Day weekend (mostly me doing the flying, because I need the hours more than Rudder does), then there will be a bunch more flying as I finish off the rating in mid-September, then there will probably be a trip to LA for a pair of regattas in late October. I may be racing in one, in a double with She-Hulk. I wasn't this worried about distances in my training last year, but then I was starting out with a much better base. I had been doing some racing and was only just starting the flying lessons. I think I did a reasonable job maintaining my fitness, since I'm on my third week of this and the long pieces aren't feeling too bad, but I'm still slower than I was last year.

I would really like finishing the marathon in less time than we took in the double last year, though not taking 6 pee breaks will definitely help. It would also be nice to finish the erg marathon Rudder has set up at the end of September in less time than last year, but I have less hope of that.

This is all leaving much less time for my knitting, on which if I'm lucky I do one row a day, and for reading, though I've just ordered a new batch from Amazon courtesy of a nice little R&R bonus I received at work yesterday. I do read some of course - I can give up knitting or most other hobbies with no risk to my sanity or even my mood, but that's not true of reading. I think if I gave up all forms of exercise I would get crabby and a little jittery, but wouldn't feel damaged, as I would if books were off limits. At any rate, I'm finding the Pooh books much funnier than I remembered, with little asides and one-liners that generations of adults reading to their children must have stored up for use at work or to friends the next day.

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

August 23, 2005

biometric data

What seems to be happening is that the tide of fat is receding from my extremities toward my midsection. Which isn't surprising; my gut is always the first place to store it and the last to lose it. Only problem is, I didn't think I actually had much fat on my calves or upper arms. Either I was wrong or possibly some of this is muscle loss. The body-fat measuring scale remains mum: it hasn't registered any noticeable changes in rane of weight or fat, either way.

Edited to add: I checked with a couple trainers in the gym this morning, when I went there to shower after rowing; they seemed to agree that it was more likely a case of fat loss (and fat does tend to use a LIFO - last-in-first-out - queue) than muscle loss. They did say I still ought to be doing some weights, because trainers never understand about jobs and other timesucks, but conceded that rowing is at least resistance training.

I put the numbers behind the cut tag to spare those who don't care. I think I'll try to do this every month or so.

Current data
1" below shoulders: 41.0
Upper arms, flexed: 11 1/8"
Waist: 28.5" (drat)
Hips: 37"
Upper thigh, flexed: 21.5"
Middle of calf, flexed: 14.5"

Previous data, May 25.
1" below shoulders: 41.5
Upper arms, flexed: 11.5"
Waist: 28.5" (eek)
Hips: 37"
Upper thigh, flexed: 21.5"
Middle of calf, flexed: 15.5"

Posted by dichroic at 08:36 PM | Comments (1)

life as usual

I'm a little disappointed in you people. After all those glowing reports from previous JournalCons, when it turned up in a city close enough to drive to, I signed up. So now where are the rest of you? Last I looked, there are only 34 people on the list. That's not even enough to give out all my swag to.

There are a couple of people I really want to meet who are signed up, and I understand that sometimes life happens, say if you were going to go but then found yourself suddenly unemployed and out of funds, but what about everyone else? San Diego is a fun city and the weather should even be kind to us. So where are you all?

Otherwise, life is as usual. After all these erg sessions watching Disney Pooh, I'm rereading A.A. Milne to reacquaint myself with the real thing. My flying lesson this morning ended up being a ground lesson due to wind, but I think we have everything on track and on course for me to finish up within the next month or so, if everything goes smoothly and I'm not too boneheaded about the finer points of the autopilot. The rowing hasn't killed me yet; I've taken to trying to remember my resting heartrate first thing in the morning to make sure I'm not overdoing it. So far it's running around 60, so that's good. Rudder and I were talking last night about it, and compare heartrates then; his was only 50, and this was less than ten minutes after an *ahem* exercise that damn well should have raised his heartrate. I told him he's clearly not trying hard enough. He riposted that his level of fitness is such that he can take his heartrate way up (and did, he insisted) and then have it return to normal very quickly.

Humph, I say.

Posted by dichroic at 02:59 PM | Comments (2)

workout entry

So far, I'm doing OK at combining rowing and IFR training. It's a great life, if you don't weaken.

Monday, 8/15: 9000m on erg: 3K at marathon pace, 3k at 10km pace, 3k at half-marathon pace
Tuesday, 8/16: 7750m on erg: 1K warmup, 2x alternate 1.5K at 5km pace, 2K at marathon pace (was supposed to be 3 sets, but I ran out of time).
Wednesday, 8/17: 11,250m on the water - 4K at marathon pace, 4K at 5km pace, rest at half-marathon pace. Then Wednesday evening, 1200 on the erg to warm up and lifted (a few) weights.
Thursday, 8/18: flew
Friday, 8/19: 8,000 on the erg - 1k warmup, 2x 1.5k at 5km pace, 2K at marathon pace
Saturday, 8/20: Half-marathon. 21097 meters in 120:12. That's about 40 sec faster than the pervious week, but I only stopped twice as opposed to three times the week before. So better on endurance but the actual speed was probably slower.

Monday, 8/22: 15,000 on the erg, and then even survived work. 5k at marathon pace, 5k at 10km pace, 5k at half-marathon pace.
Tuesday, 8/23: Supposed to fly, ended up with ground lesson due to crosswind.

I think I'm set to finish the IFR somewhere around late-mid September, weather, health, skills, and aircraft mechanics permitting.

Posted by dichroic at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2005

on aging

I've been mulling over youth and age, spurred on by The Once and Future King, Cat Stevens, a few very young LiveJournalers, a couple of older Diarylanders, Studs Terkel, my own aging, and a sense that too many people, of any age, keep their passions wrapped in cotton wool or let them sleep entirely.

T.H. White wrote about the seventh sense that comes in middle age, the sense of balance. That's not how I'd describe it, but I think I know what he means. His characters in their midlives have had to make compromises. The ones who were pure achieved the Grail and left the world, too perfect to stay in it. Those who were left had to fit their ideals in among their reality, and could only do their best with what tools they had. They had lost their idealism, yet still held to their ideals.

There are a couple of journals I read, where the thing that keeps striking me is how young the writers are. I don't mean by that that they're not bright, not educated, or not thoughtful; if any of those things were true I wouldn't be reading them. It's something about the intensity of each experience, and about the way they never forget to wonder or care, as older people sometimes do. There are other people I read because they're members of an LJ community Im in, who also keep reminding me of their youth by the black-and-white harshness of their judgements. I once started a poll about people's ages just to check my hypothesis that some of the most frequent posters there were in their late teens and early twenties (I didn't say that's why I was polling) and found that my guess was right.

I should say here that youth and age, at least in this essay, are not strictly defined by chronological age. I can think of a certain middle-aged U.S. President who shows all the harshness of youth's unblunted opinions, if none of its generosity or idealism.

The canonical picture of the difference between youth and age is the one Cat Stevens wrote, in Father and Son. A couple of representative verses:


All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it.
If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them you know not me.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy,
To be calm when you've found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you've got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

Stevens was young when he wrote that. I don't know if he just couldn't see the other side, or if he didn't have any good older people around, just those who were too tired or disillusioned to care. But that's a horrible thing to tell a young person: "You will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not." Age doesn't have to mean abandonment of dreams. Studs Terkel's book, Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who've Lived It makes that clear. The old people he interviewed who once lived and fought for a dream still burned with that fire: old unionists, old gay rights activists, old workers and lovers and people of passions. They were a lot like T.H. White's Arthurian characters, actually: some burned out early, some died young, some gave up, and some kept on struggling. (One of them I remember could have been the original of the 'fairy' on Fire Island in Peg Kerr's The Wild Swans.) They came to their accomodations with the world and tried to build their dreams within the bounds of its possiblities. I picture one of them telling Cat Stevens' young man, "You will still be here tomorrow - and so will your dreams, if you don't do anything too stupid today."

Aging, it seems to me, is a matter of coming to grips with your limitations and those of the world - and, if you don't become jaded, of the possibilities of transcending them, and the knowledge that it can happen, just not easily or often. It's realizing that other people are colored in shades of gray, not all one way or all the other. It's also realizing you may be wrong. I don't think some people ever get there. I think some just become ossified and give up or forget they ever did care - in some cases, very early on. Some have their dreams snuffed out early and become bitter. Some just forget, or never find their passions in the first place. Either way, not caring becomes a cocoon. A few people finally leave that hibernating phase and break out of it though not many. The best ones keep caring and keep fighting, balancing priorities and picking their battles, and if sometimes they have to bend a little, they stay unbroken to fight another day.

Being proud of being strange, as Mrissa's comments reminded me today, is another characteristically young thing. I think the aged version of that is being proud to be part of a community (which may be out of the mainstream) or being proud to have held to values that matter to one, even when they're not popular ones, rather than taking pride in strangeness for its own sake. (Again, "age" and "youth" here aren't strictly bounded by years. I remember a 50-year-old coworker who always talked about what a rebel he was, when as far as I could tell, the only rebellious thing he ever did was to wear black a lot.)

Anyway, that's how it looks to me today. I'm only 38. I have no intention of either dying or of becoming encased in amber anytime soon, so there may be further phases I don't know about yet. I think there are. I see hints of one in White's Book of Merlyn or in Denver Doug's writings, which seems to be about looking at the world, backwards and forwards, and letting it be what it will. I may not be understanding that one entirely. There may be others. I don't know - but I hope to live and grow long enough to find out.

Posted by dichroic at 01:41 PM | Comments (6)

August 20, 2005


After erging a half marathon this morning I stretched, showered, logged my meters at Concept II and went to the store, with no rest periods in between any of that. And then I was able (if barely) to lift our largest cooler, containing five bags of ice and two sixpacks of beer (other people are bringing the rest of the beer) out of the bed of my truck, and to get it into the house.

I guess all this exericse crap actually is paying off. Off to eat lunch now - time to replace some of those 1084 calories I burned on the erg.

Posted by dichroic at 01:36 PM | Comments (1)

August 19, 2005

by the numbers

I. Arrogant Bastard beer comes in really big bottles.

II. Which is a good thing, after you've stayed at work too late on a Friday then received a call at 5:45 screwing you over in relation to a 7AM flight the next day. And insinuating that you need to do all sorts of things your previous flight instructor never mentioned.

III. So it's good when you leave work, remember your husband's at a Happy Hour somewhere, turn around go back to work, reboot the computer to retrieve the email to find where he is, and go therre, to find tha tthe bar serves Arrogant Bastard.

IV. Though it's a bit darker than I was expecting. More of a stout really. But still appropriately named (see #2).

V. However, it's not great for driving home, and especially not great for when your husband calls to say he's going on to a place that has dancing, for "one more beer".

VI. Dammit.

VII. Because sober enough to use Roman numerals is still not really sober enough to drive unnecessarily.

VIII. And that half-marathon I should do first thing in the morning (now I don't have to go flying) means more beer and staying up late isn't a great idea either.

IX. Dammit again.

Posted by dichroic at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

much spluttering involved

I forgot to mention the weirdest thing that has happened to me this week: I got asked to run for Rodeo Queen.

My reaction involved much spluttering, fortunately not over the keyboard.

Actually, it wasn't quite as bizarre as it sounds; contestants do not compete to see who has the most charm, or looks best in a cowgirl hat or can stay on a bull longest. They just have to sell tickets to the rodeo. Whoever sells the most wins, and ticket proceeds (or maybe just some of them) go to charity.

Still: Rodeo Queen?? This East Coast urban Jewish engineer Anglophilic rowing readergirl? The mind just boggles.

Posted by dichroic at 03:55 PM | Comments (2)

"Pooh.... WHy that's Me!"

The worst thing about watching cartoons in the morning is being earwormed with their themes for the rest of the day.

I'm doing pretty well with my training otherwise, though. If - no, when - I do my half-marathon tomorrow, I'll have 59 km (PLUS a quickie weight workout!) for the week. The training schedule calls for 60, so I'm pretty much on track. It's periodized: I build up to 65km next week, then down to 40 or so for a "rest" week, then build up again for three weeks, down for one, etc.

I haven't decided whether to join in on Rudder's annual erg marathon at the end of September. I'll definitely participate, but I could opt to do a half-marathon. I did the full marathon last year. It hurt. In fact, it hurt much more than the actual water marathon in November. Of course, I also finished an hour faster.

Tomorrow I get to go fly, then erg, then get ready for a party. Or I could erg Sunday, but then I have to erg again the very next day. On balance, I'd rather be tired during the party. (It's all Rudder's work people, anyway.)

Posted by dichroic at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2005

rejected but effective

I'm a blood-donor reject yet again. Low hematocrit, or in layman's terms, the drop of blood didn't sink fast enough. At least I feel more virtuous for trying.

Notable quote from the Blood Mobile guy. I had commented that it was off that Native Hawaiians, Guamians, Samoans, and "Other Pacific Islanders" all got listed as separate races. Also, what do you do if you're an Australian native? You wouldn't be from an island. He said, "Wait... is Australia in the Pacific? Or (knowing look) is it in the Atlantic?" Yikes. (He also told me Filipinos were the same as, I think it was, Samoans. Now, I can think of a case in which Filipinos are related to Hawaiians (that is, a Filipino friend's Filipino grandmother lived there) but there are certain great and obvious differences between your average Filipino and your average Samoan. A hundred pounds or more, for one thing.)

Yesterday ended up working out well. My current workout plan involves 5 days a week of more-or-less serious distance and two days off, which makes it difficult to get in any weightlifting, unless you're like Rudder, and crazy enough to lift and them erg 10K, or you're willing to do it on an off day. I'm not, because on the off day during the week, I'm using the extra time to go fly (like this morning) and on the weekend one, I'm recovering from all this. I need my vegetation time. Yesterday, I'd made an appointment to get my hair cut after work. When I got there, it turned out they had scheduled the appointment for today. I really didn't want to come in again - if I were good about these things, I wouldn't have been a month overdue for a trim, after all. After determining that I only needed a trim and that I didn't care if it wasn't blow-dried, they managed to squeeze me in, for a time 45 minutes later.

I was considering going to the Borders two miles away to kill time, but was afraid I'd be late getting back. But the salon is inside a fancy local gym (marble showers, towel service, climbing wall, waterpark, tables here and there selling chiropractic services and whatnot, and they're always sending out mailings asking us if we want to come try them for a week. Furthermore, I'd rowed that morning, and so had my gym bag and workout gear with me - and I even had sneakers, which I don't normally take to rowing, because there was a breeze at our house and I wanted to be able to erg at the boatyard or the gym, if it were too windy to row. So I explained at the desk, and asked nicely if I could have a pass to try out the gym, and they obliged, and I got to try out the marble showers, even. (Unfortunately, not the water park - didn't have a swimsuit.)

Of course all the weight machines were different than I'm used to (they didn't seem to have tons of free weights, or at least the only squat cages I saw were being used) so I ended up trying weights that were way too heavy and all my limbs felt like they were going to fall off. And of course, I didn't have time for more than the most crucial exercises, but hey! I got in a weight workout!

I was going to do the meme LA tagged me for, but this has gotten long, so I put it in a separate entry right before this one. Scroll down if you want to read it.

Posted by dichroic at 03:42 PM | Comments (1)


What was I doing 10 years ago?

I was 28. Married two years, living what turned out to be my last months in Houston - I moved here December of 1995. We were living in a tiny but well-designed house we'd had built for us in League City, an older part that had been a separate town back when the local big city was Galveston, not Houston, with live oaks arching over the narrow streets, and neighbors who actually know each other. Our house was (still is) vaguely Victorian, gray with blue and white trim - people used to stop and ask if we'd mind if they used our same color choices in a house in some other neighborhood, because our traditional color scheme was so unusual for the area that the siding guy tried to talk us out of it. (He'd thought it would be ugly, but later handsomely admitted he'd been wrong.

What was I doing 5 years ago?

I was 33. I think that was the year they filled and opened the lake here. I coxed the first boat ever to row on it, an eight that the local rowing club had stored for a few years against the day when there would be water to row on in the desert. I was working at the Internet company, in the good days before the bust, and doing a lot of rock climbing unti lwe started rowing regularly.

What was I doing 1 year ago?

Deciding to finally start my IFR, and putting through the paperwork for reimbursement. Getting back to rowing after a rest, after competing in Masters Nationals, practicing coxing for the Charles and rowing distance for the Marathon.

What was I doing yesterday?

Getting my hair cut, rowing through weeds (see prior entry) and lifting some bonus weights (see next entry). And working, of course.

What am I doing today?

When I moved to this part of the company, there was some question about whether I'd get reimbursed for the rest of the flight training. Today, finally, I found out I will. It's just a small part of what I pay, but still a nice benefit. Otherwise, flying with a new instructor. I was supposed to fly with him last Sunday, but the weather didn't cooperate. We had some miscommunication, but he recognized it and seems to understand that the issue is to work in such a way that we understand each other, rather than in one particular teaching method or another, so I think he'll work out. I miss the last one, though.

Five snacks I enjoy:

Pretzels, pretzels, and pretzels. Also popcorn. And fruit.

Five bands I like:

Bands, not singers? That's harder. Uh.... Great Big Sea, Silly Wizard, Bok, Muir and Trickett (do they count as a band?), Boiled in Lead, the Kennedys. (There's two of them, and probably some back-up people, at least on the albums, so they should count.)

Five things I would do with a million dollars:

Sounds awful but a million (is that after taxes?) isn't enough to dream big on any more. Still: assuming I wasn't allowed to save any, maybe donate a tithe (Penn, Tulane, Planned Parenthood, the Nature Conservancy, maybe Habitat for Humanity), build a house on the airpark property, buy a plane, give some to the 'rents and the 'rents-in-law, and travel on the last $100K.

Five locations I would like to run away to:

Queenstown, New Zealand; Santa Barbara, CA (assuming I was running with lots of money); London, England; Bend, OR or any one of those ski- or sport-based towns in beautiful places: Bend, Durango, CO, Asheville, NC, Ushuaia, Argentina, Flagstaff, AZ, Park City, Utah, that sort of place.

Five bad habits:

Picking at blisters/rips/loose bits of skins, breaking off split ends, eating too many pretzels, complaining, wasting time.

Five things I like doing:

Reading, talking about books, traveling, hiking or rowing alone when there's no pressure and I can stop to look around, getting a massage.

Five TV shows I like:

That are still on? Monster House, King of the Hill, Fear Factor, specials like the Kennedy Center Honors, and any of the decorating shows.

Five famous people I would like to meet:

That are still alive? Tom Hanks, Bill Bryson, Madeleine L'Engle, Burt Rutan, Pete Seeger. The list of semifamous people is much longer: writers (including several who blog), singers, astronauts, other adventurers.

Biggest joys in my life at the moment:

Rudder. The fact that it's a teeny bit cooler in the mornings. Finding out I will get reimbursed for some of my flying. My comfy bed. The Internet.

Five favorite toys:

My boat. My iPod. My Power Putty (like Silly Putty, but meant for strengthening grip). My articulated gryphon. My Palm.

Five people to tag:

Somehow I don't like tagging others, partly because lots of the ones I would tag have done thing, partly because though I kind of like being tagged, I know not everyone does (or do they and am I being lazy or selfish?). So if you want the meme, it's yours. Yes, that means you.

Posted by dichroic at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2005

swamp rowing

I went rowing this morning on actual water, more or less. The conditions were beautiful: enough breeze to dry my sweat without ruffling the water, cool enough that I was thinking about my rowing instead of how much I hate overheating. The sky was still dark that I could see stars as I carried my oars down, with the Hunter bringing the first harbinger of Fall.

There was only one problem. If you had seen me, your first thought would probably have been, "How is she rowing on sod?" I mean, really, it's bad when you can hear your boat cutting through the vegetation; at one point I thought I could just get out and walk back to the beach.

It's probably best illustrated by a photo I took of Rudder last Friday:
(More photos here.)

I saw something this morning I'd never seen before: one guy was out in a single, sinking, but slowly, so his boat was under all the vegetation and his body was above. It looked as if he were sitting on the grass. I never did get the whole story about that, but someone in a safety launch was coaching him and got him out before he'd even gotten entirely wet.
Other than that it was a good row, and I even got in more distance than I'd thought I would. 28K for the week so far, and if all goes well, I should just about double that this week. Another half-marathon Saturday, oh joy. The last one took most of the weekend to recover from. This one I can either do Saturday late morning after flying and then have to be lively enough for the get-together we're hosting for RUdder's coworkers that night, or do it Sunday morning after the get-together and hope I'm coherent enough for work Monday. All things considered, including Monday's erg piece, it's probably better to do it Saturday and have Sunday to recover.

Posted by dichroic at 02:37 PM | Comments (1)

August 16, 2005

ex liber rex quondam et rex futuris

This time around, I read The Once and Future King with a more critical eye. I still like The Sword in the Stone better than the rest of it, and prefer the standalone version of TSitS to the rest of it, but saying that the later books are not as good as the first still leaves them a lot of room to excel.

White switches gears after TSitS; that book is clearly aimed at children or possibly young adults, while the rest strikes me as more of an adult book. Those are difficult distinctions to make, especially for someone who can read Austen and Milne, Trollope and Travers with equal enjoyment. Maybe one over-simplified way to distinguish is that children-readers are still learning What is in the world, and What is the world, and should be educated by their books; young adults have learned the What and are wondering Why the world is and what it is For, and can be led by their books to ask the questions in ways that will permit them to find their own approixmations to answers; adults (some adults) know What is What but have forgotten that they ever wondered and may be led by their books to reexamine their questions and regain their wonder. By that standard, the later books are aimed at adults, while the first is for children verging on young adulthood.

(The later books' independent titles are The Queen of Air and Darkness, The Ill-Made Knight, and A Candle in the Wind, but I don't think anyone has read them separately since the omnibnus was published in 1958.)

I surmise that the change in tone is because White had a freer hand with TSitS, whereas in the later books he is retelling and expanding on stories told by Malory (who makes a cameo appearance in the last chapter). The extraordinary thing is that throughout all four books, both the TSitS and the other three adult books, he uses a style more common in children's books. (In fact, it's a little similar to the style Lemony Snicket uses, except that White explains not only words but characters.) While he is showing his reader the characters and their world, he pauses to tell in authorial voice exactly what he's showing: that Lancelot acts as he does because he has a purely Medieval religious view of chastity and purity, for example, or that Guinevere's contradictory actions are because she was "a real person", who can't be confined by simple labels: "Sometimes she acted one way, sometimes she acted another. She always acted like herself." And always there is Arthur in the background, lit by his dream and desperately trying to kindle a flame that will burn through England before his candle gutters.

He uses the technique not only to explain how his characters are as different from modern ones as a castle from an office building, or to peel back years to let a middle-aged reader (one who has developed the "seventh sense" of balance) recall the unsteadiness and fire of youth, but to insert comment about his own times (Merlyn's view of Hitler is especially good).

It ought to be very annoying. This is exactly the sort of telling, not showing, that authors are warned against. It ought to be grating enough to make the reader want to throw the book across the room. In lesser books, it is. Maybe it is in this book, for some people. For me, though, it's only charming. It deepens the characters and does wake my wonder. Maybe the cozy charm is because for me that wonder was so closely tied to the English books I lived in as a child, or maybe it's related to what Matociquala said about J.K. Rowling, and it doesn't matter what White does wrong, because of all he does right. (Oh, dear. I typed that first as "... all he does write." Ouch.)

I don't know, but now I want to go reread The Sword in the Stone, the better version where Margan Le Fay's castle is made of candy instead of lard, and The Book of Merlyn, which is really a book of old age, as well as of (appropriately, considering what book I picked up after TOaFK) freedom and necessity. And then I want to walk through a castle and work out, as White says any sensible person would, which were the granaries and which the armory, where the barbicans were and where the lord and his family lived.

Posted by dichroic at 01:44 PM | Comments (1)

August 15, 2005

not kindred

Today I am wearing black trousers, a fitted white button-down shirt, and a black and white houndstooth plaid vest. A coworker (the same one) commented that it was the most professional outfit she'd seen me in. It's certainly not the most professional outfit I've worn here, but then again she doesn't see me every day. (It hasn't escaped my notice that she'd get quite offended if I made the same sort of comments to her that she makes to me, but luckily I find her amusing.)

My wardrobe is best described as "eclectic"; the outfit I think of as most quintessentially me is probably a plain fitted jersey T-shirt and jeans, but I also enjoy wearing wide flowing skirts, short straight skirts, silk blouses, plaid flannel shirts, sweaters of all descriptions, fuzzy fleece pullovers.... I don't like wearing the same look every day; I get bored. So I strive for a basic level of professionalism and wear what I like. (Though I may have to give up the denim skirt I wore Friday. That front slit is unexceptional when I stand, but rises higher than is comfortable for work when I sit down.)

The coworker's comment is interesting, because the more I talk to her, the more orthogonal I think our views of the world are. Her clothes are professional enough, but I find them boring. They're not the sort worn by someone who doesn't care at all about clothing, or I probably wouldn't notice them at all; they want to be looked at but they're the sort of suit that sacrifices quality to achieve a dressy look with cheap fabrics. (They are, in fact, the sort of clothes that are one reason I don't wear suits or suit separates much, because when I go looking in department stores for suit-ish clothes I get disgusted with the sleazy fabrics. I'd rather wear honest cotton or wool, so I do, but seem to end up with less dressy clothes.)

It goes far beyond clothes, though. She's on a no-carb diet; if I were to diet I'd still want to eat what I liked, but less of it, and I don't believe in limiting the variety I eat. She's always looking to meet men; maybe I would be if I were still single, but when I was I tended to prefer to live my life and just meet whoever came along into it, instead of looking for them. I've always preferred to become friends before getting romantically involved, though when I met Rudder, everything sort of happened so fast that we did both at the same time. She's a political animal, work-wise; I understand the importance of the politics that are inevitable in every group of humans, but tend to avoid them when possible out of both lack of interest and a feeling that I wouldn't be good at it anyway.

She works out, but from her comments, I think she may be the sort of woman Marn talks about, who gets on the cardio equipment and says, "Well, time to burn off that doughnut!".

Most notably, recently we were discussing weight, and I proudly told her about Old Salt's comment, "My God, you're buff!" She said, "And you took that as a compliment? See, I'd be insulted by that."

I can't even get my mind around that. Also, you know those women on the front of muscle magazines that so many women are afraid of looking like? That doesn't happen by accident. Really. (In fact, I don't think it happens at all, save through better living through chemistry.)

She does read, some, or at least I've seen a book in her car (French Women Don't Get Fat) but I don't think she really understands about books, or why anyone would want to live with a nose in one. I'd be surprised if she walked into my house and didn't immediately ask, "Have you really read all of these? And why?"

She's nice enough, and I like her well enough as a work-buddy, but somehow, well ... I think Miss Cornelia Bryant would say she's " of the race that knoweth not Joseph". Which is ironic, because in many ways, Miss Cornelia might approve more of her than she would of me.

Posted by dichroic at 02:00 PM | Comments (2)

workout entry

Because I really should start doing this again. Don't worry, I've been working out 3-4 times per week all along; I'm not going into these kinds of distances cold. I just haven't been recording them here.

Monday, 8/8: 9000m on erg: 3000 at marathon pace, 3000 at 10km pace, 3000 at half-marathon pace
Tuesday, 8/9: 11000 on erg: 1km warmup, 2x 2000 at 5km pace, 3000 at marathon pace
Wednesday, 8/10: 1500 on erg to warm up, including 1x20 at low rate high resistance, then weights.
Thursday, 8/11: flew
Friday, 8/12: 6000m in the single, then met Okie in launch to photograph duckeweed on the lake.
Saturday, 8/13: half-marathon on the erg.
Monday, 8/15: 9000m on erg: 3000 at marathon pace, 3000 at 10km pace, 3000 at half-marathon pace

Posted by dichroic at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2005

to train to

Cross posted to Gymrats on LJ - I don't there there's much crossover in readership.

As I close in on finishing my IFR, I've begun to train harder again. We'll see how it goes, but last Monday I began training for the Marathon Rowng Championships in November (despite the name, anyone can enter). I did it last year, but had a better aerobic base by now. Still, I completed a half-marathon this morning on the erg (rowing machine) so I ought to be all right. (One coach I know claims the erg is 20% more effeort than a boat). I'll just be shooting to finish, not going for speed. Right now I'm building a lot of my distance on the erg; it lets me sleep longer (as opposed to driving to the lake, getting my boat out, carrying it down, rowing, carrying it back up, washing it, putting it away, and driving to home or work, whereas I have an erg int he spare bedroom) and it's still pretty hot here. As we get closer to the race, I'll shift more and more to the boat, to work on form over that long a time and to toughen up my hands and seat.

When you're on a machine for that long, two hours in my case, what you watch is important. I can do short pieces watching the news, or 10K pieces watching watever catoons Disney and Nick have on at 5AM. For this longer piece, we had borrowed a copy of the documentary From the Earth to the Moon, and it was perfect. (Caveat: I'm a space geek, of course, but I think it would be good for anyone with an interest in space exploration.) Parts 1 & 2 took me through all but the last 1500 of my 21097 meter piece. The whole thing is 10 hours so it will last for a lot of erg sessions.

So far, we've found that action is good, anything where you have to concentrate is bad, anything very quiet is hard to hear, and comedies aren't great because it's hard to push it while you're laughing. Things that have short exciting or inspiring sections are great because they get you to ramp it up, or you can tell yourself that you won't take a water break until a given space mission makes it back safe, or whatever. Music documentaries can work, if they're about heavy metal so you have music clips for those power 10s. Action movies that aren't too serious, like Lethal Weapon, can work well. The Harry Potter books on audio worked well for me too. Anyone got any other good movies or audiobooks to suggest for training?

Posted by dichroic at 11:47 AM | Comments (1)

August 12, 2005

doubled reflections

Mechaieh prompts, "things that capture reflections... other than mirrors and eyes". That seems appropriate: I spent part of this morning at a photoshoot (I was photographer, not model). Our lake is now 15-20% covered in duckweed. It's reputedly nontoxic and reputedly harmless to fish, water birds, and the single beaver who live there, but it's annoying to row through. It adds resistance. Worse is the emotional trauma: pity a poor rower pulling her little rowing heart out, only to find that her distance is declining and her split times are going up due to foliage wrapped around the StrokeCoach impeller. Yes, of course I'm exaggerating - but it is annoying not to know accurately how fast you're going compared to other practices.

So this morning, Rudder and I arranged to meet the lake coordinator at sunrise, so that he and I could take a launch out and photograph the layer of green on top of our water and Rudder carving a path through it, in the sunrise light. I had to be careful to include some uncovered water in all shots, so it didn't look like I was just photographing sod. Still, annoying as the duckweed is, it's a pleasant way to spend a morning, riding around on a lake taking pictures of the water, the lake surroundings and sky, and of Rudder with his flag-designed boat, oars and uni lit up by the dawn. Photographing water: double reflections there.

I did row a lap first, which puts me up to about 37 km for the week. I'm supposed to erg 18km soetime this weekend, and may, if feeling either particularly gung-ho or especially fatalistic, turn that into a half marathon instead. Once you've rowed 18 km, you might as well row 21. My weight hasn't gone down, but I think I'm jiggling a little less, and a new mail-ordered pair of pants that were a little tight in the waist a couple of weeks ago were comfortable Wednesday. (Which might also be due to not washing them between wearings. They're in the laundry pile now, so I'll see.)

Posted by dichroic at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2005

new glasses


They're a bit bigger than my old ones, mostly in width, and the left eye is half a diopter stronger. Between that and the fact that I'd been wearing glasses all day until I picked thm up, the distortion bothered me at first. It was making the drive home interesting. Then I got to thinking about what T.H. White had done with The Once and Future King, and how it differed from what Malory did, and by the time I was back on the subject of the new glasses, the distortion wasn't an issue any more. It bothered me again when I stepped out of the car and moved my head, but that was momentary. I like them; I think the frames are heavy enough to look like I'm wearing glasses and that they are a separate entity (as opposed to wearing frames so unnoticeable that the fleeting impression is of an inexplicably glassy eye) while not being so heavy that the glasses are all you see. And I think the upswept line is kind to my face.

When you've been wearing glasses for 35 years and are of an analytical turn of mind, thse are all things to be considered. Rudder likes them too.

Posted by dichroic at 08:07 PM | Comments (0)

BOOM. Damn. Ow.

RIP Swiss Ball / office chair.

I heard a loud hissing, then before I could even look down there was a pop and a thump, as I landed on the floor. It must have been loud, because the guy in the next office came running, and the admin around the corner poked her head in a minute later. I've had that ball for two years or so, and used it every workday, so it's not surprising it's died; what surprised me is that it didn't spring a leak and deflate, but rather exploded into two entirely separate pieces. I guess I bounced on it a few times too many.

Casualties: one knee seems a little sore (though that could be from the gym yesterday) and my butt is a little grumpy where I landed on it. Good thing it's padded. Also, I think my lower back is a little stiff from the impact. The thud hurt my head, like a fall in snowboarding, but that passed.

I've been called a ballbreaker before, but not in that context.

Today was my last lesson with the CFII I've been working with, and his last lesson as an instructor there. He took the controls and did a little joyriding on the way back in, but it's not really possible to get too wild in a Cessna 172. He's going off to go be an airline pilot and fly the big jets. I'm glad for him, but I wish it had taken another month or so. He's the third main one I've worked with and now I have to fly with yet another instructor to finish. It's a matter of finding someone whose teaching style meshes well with my learning style. Also, this one is a 20-year retired Navy helo pilot with over 50 combat missions, who flew in both Iraq wars. He was instructing just to build up fixed time hours to qualify for the airlines. I liked the feeling that whatever happened, he's flown in worse, and I like his laid-back style.

This weekend, I'm flying with RUdder as safety pilot, just to practice my approaches. We'll see how that goes. It's legal for me, as a VFR pilot, to fly under the hood with any qualified pilot as safety, and I'm more than completed all the dual flying instruction required to quality, so now it's just a matter of finished my cross-country reqrirement and getting proficient enough for the checkride.

Posted by dichroic at 02:42 PM | Comments (2)

August 10, 2005

question authority, and everything else

Why is my body so binary? That is, why can it go from feeling crappy to starving, or from starving to feeling overfilled and crappy so quickly? (In the latter case, it took about 8 peanut-butter-filled pretzel nuggets today.) It doesn't happen all the time, and in fact much less often than it used to, but I still don't know why and can't predict it well. My best theory is that either aging or exercise has greatly helped the IBS. But why?

Why does the local hippie-granola Co-Op still sell Chai Tea Luna bars? Or rather more importantly, why doesn't everyone else? Back before the supermarkets stopped carrying them, it seemed like every Luna-bar-eater I talked to agreed with me that Chai Tea was the best flavor. So if Luna is still making them, why did most outlets quit selling that flavor? And why do they still sell the yucky Toasted Nut and Cranberry ones? The only excuse I can think of for the latter is to market to people who believe that food must taste awful to be good for them.

Why do companies assume that body part sizes are predictable? No, not that one - well actually, come to think of it, that one too. For another example, I recently tried an off-the-shelf mouth guard. I knew I needed small, given that every dentist who works on my mouth comments on how small it is and pulls out the child-sized implements, but for some reason the packaging tells you which size to get based on your height. I am a small person with a small mouth, but it has not been my observation that these factors are generally related. (Maybe they should go by hat size or number of fingers you can cram in your mouth?) Similarly I was at the afore-mentioned co-op buying a small-sized Diva Cup, because I can feel pressure when the other one is in place and it's sometimes uncormfortable. I had originally bought the larger size becuase it said women over 30 should, even if they hadn't had kids - maybe I should have known to get the small one, but the problem with being a straight women (with decently reticent friends) is that there's very little opportunity to assess comparative sizes. I'm hoping this one will be more comfortable, not to mention easier to get in and out of place.

How could I have had one person say, "My God, you're buff!" and another ask, "Are you pregnant?" within two weeks of each other, even given the difference between work and workout clothing?

Why are plumbing chores always ten times harder than expected? (Rudder just replaced our reverse osmosis system - I'm not fussy, but it's unversally agreed that the local tap water is undrinkable, at least in terms of taste. It took him three days.)

Why do office jobs have to be so sedentary?

Why, even with my current shorter commute, does working out more still have to mean sleeping less? Somehow, I still think I should be able to exercise, work a full day, have dinner and a little time to relax, and then be able to get as much sleep as my body needs, even if that's more than 8 hours.

Why are RVs never designed with bookshelves?

How am I supposed to finish my IFR when yet another instructor is moving on? I'm glad when they get jobs with the airlines, but I'm getting tired of breaking in new ones. Having finished the required of instruction, I'd consider just flying with RUdder until I was ready to take the test, but he doesn't know enough about using the GPS and autopilot. (He did his IFR before those were common on small planes.) And anyway, learning from him is difficult for me, at least if I want to stay married to him.

Why don't I have a copy of The Sword in the Stone? (Other than as part of The Once and Future King.) How can I have missed on getting that?

I could probably sit here and ask questions all day.

Posted by dichroic at 03:04 PM | Comments (1)

August 09, 2005

connecting to rainbows

This morning a rainbow kept me company most of the way to work, a good long one with about forty degrees showing I don't think I ever saw a rainbow, or not more than a tiny sliver of one, until I grew up. The city I was born, raised and educated in is not a good place for them, because of weather patterns, topology, architecture, and vegetation. I think there probably are fewer of them to begin with, because there are hills but no tall mountains to snag clouds, and so the weather patterns are a wider-spread and more uniform. Showers in one part of the sky and sun in another are not unknown, but they're notable. Here, on the other hand, rainstorms can be watched coming in and going away, and more often than not there is sun in part of the sky except while the storm is right overhead. Also, in my birth city, rowhouses crowd in, not tall but close together, and the streets between them are lined with tees, so that a much smaller sliver of the sky can be seen. Walking in the city feels more like being in a canyon lidded with an angle of sky, than as here, being on a plain roofed with as bowl of sky. If there was a rainbow in the area there, I had less chance of being able to see it.

As a result, when I see rainbows, I pay attention to them. Even though they're not rare here, they seem to be less common in the morning than in the afternoon. I put on a CD of Irish music to go with it, not because we saw any rainboaws there but because music from that misty climate seemed appropriate. (And after all, where do leprechauns keep their gold?) For a moment there was even a double arc. Eventually I went through some heavier traffic and had to concentrate, and when I came out the rainbow had faded. But the song that was playing then put me in mind of the Ring of Kerry and the Cliffs of Moher, which had me thinking of the ocean in general. I miss living by water, and the ocean is the best water, because it was waves as well as the relfections all water has, and maybe a little just because of its salt. After all, our most distant ancestors came from the sea, and we retain its echo flowing in our veins. (Never tell me there's no poetry in science.)

A small sliver of the other end of the rainbow peeked out at the end of my drive, then hid behind the buliding. As I walked in the door, I asked another woman walking in if she'd seen the rainbow. She said, "Oh, no. Was there a rainbow? I don't notice anything in the morning." I am not known as an observant person, but there are some things that really ought not to be missed.

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

enough with the sqeaking

I've been watching Disney Playhouse while I erg (because it's about the most intellectual stimulation I can handle at 5AM and while on the erg) and have realized a trend: it seems like a lot of the old standby kids' shows have added characters since my time, and they nearly all seem to be modeled on small childnre. (You can tell they're small children because they have high squeaky choices, though in my experience even toddlers are not uniformly squeaky in real life.) I'm a first generation Sesame Street kid, for example; I remember when Mr. Hooper was alive, Snuffleopagus was a mystery, and Oscar was orange (he turned green a few seasons in). Occasionally, Buffy St. Marie came on and sang folk songs. Back then, the focal Muppets, if I can call them that, were Kermit, Ernie, and Bert, with frequent appearances from Cookie Monster and Grover and occasional ones from Herry and other monsters. Those were still the main characters when my brother was watching the show, around the time Cookie Monster was wearing gold chains and singing "Disco Toothbrush. By the time I was old enough to babysit, Cookie Monster was doing rap, and Elmo had been added with a full range of toys for sale. Now I think they've added a new even squeakier girl Muppet. Similarly, I had both original and Disney versions of Pooh, but the latter were still based mostly on the former.

Now, on both the puppet and cartoon versions of Winnie the Pooh, they've added a squeaky little bluebird named Kessie - on an episde that must have been her first introduction, Rabbit adopted her as a baby bird who could barely talk. Now she has a full vocabulary and speaks in an infinitesimally lower register, but is still plainly a small child. (The cartoon Pooh, which is less uniformly cheery than the puppet version, also has a very funny grumpy old gopher gaffer who wears a miner's lamp and some annoying Heffalumps with Bronx accents who seem to have strayed over from a Bugs Bunny cartoon.) I dfon't really see why Kessie is needed; if children want a Very Small and timid animal to identify with, there's always Piglet - but they've lost the whole point that the Hundred-Aker Wood and its inhabitants are all in Christopher Robin's imagination. Who needs more to identify with than that?

Reputedly, Barbie was invented when a female Mattel exec realized that her own daughter preferred playing with older dolls, instead of babys. (Yes, I know, she was then based on the German Lili dolls, but those were for adults.) I think maybe the producers of kids' shows need to learn the Barbie lesson again. Kids like playing grown-up, or rather kid-appropriate versions thereof - pirates and princesses, parents and pioneers. That's how they learn. I'm not convinced they need a squeaky-voiced little-kid character in order to be able to identify with a story.

Posted by dichroic at 11:13 AM | Comments (2)

August 08, 2005

No, in this case I am NOT interested in expressing my opinion

These stupid phone surveys have gotten to be very nearly as irritating as phone solicitations were before the Do Not Call list went into effect. We've gotten calls nearly every night this week, and I am now Officially Annoyed.

This last one was the worst so far. Transcript, with commentary in square brackets:

Caller: "Hi, I'm calling with a survey about opinions on political issues in your area." [They're getting more brazen - this one didn't even give the standard speech about how she wasn't selling anything.]
Me, being polite: "Sorry, I don't want to do a survey now. Please take us off your calling list."
Caller: "Sorry, I can't do that - I don't even know how to do that. [If that's not illegal, it should be.] All I can do is put down a refusal."
Me: "Please do that."
Caller: "Actually, the survey is for the male head of the household."
Me: "He refuses too."
Caller: "Actually I can't take a refusal from anyone but the person I'm supposed to talk to."
Me, losing patience, "Well, then I'll just have to hang up and I suppose that counts as a refusal." *click*

This is ridiculous. My loyalty is to my husband, not some intrusive surveying, and I have a right to protect my family from petty annoyance. I believe phone surveys ought to also come under the purview of the Do Not Call list. They haven't woken us up yet, as the phone solicitors used to do, but now we're in training for fall and back on rowers' hours (at least Rudder is; I can sleep later while I'm only erging) I'm sure that will happen soon.

Posted by dichroic at 07:06 PM | Comments (7)


Since my last regular post here, I have erged a total of 14km, rowed 10km, and passed the IFR written test. Not bad for one weekend. I've also done an unhealthy amount of cramming pretest, begun rereading The Once and Future King (I need to go see if I have a copy of the standalone version of The Sword in the Stone though, because I like it much better than the abbreviated version in TOaFK), knitted a little more of the rowing-rearview-mirror-cozy Rudder requested, helped Rudder a little on the first 1/4 of the installation of our new reverse osmosis system (it's being obnoxious and he's regetting buying it instead of just changing the filters on the old one, even though the old one was having other problems) and had breakfast Saturday with the Old Salt.

He made my day at that breakfast - made my weekend in fact, and possibly my entire month, because almost the first thing he said was, "My God, you're buff! What have you been doing, lifting weights?" So that was nice, especially because he's blunt enough that you know he means what he says, complimentary or not.

I guess I've officially begun training for the November marathon. Last week I put in 30km for the week, for the first time in ages (most weeks last year I did 30-40km), or timesliced another way I've done 39km in the last 7 days. Rudder found a training plan online that has you building up to 80-110 km per week, and today I did my first workout from that. It's been a long time since I've done a real planned workout piece, not just a "go out and row/erg". I can't say I enjoyed the way I felt when I got to my desk this morning, and tomorrow's piece is worse. The thing is, it's a 26-week program, but because we've been rowing all along and because of when the regatta is, we're starting at week 13. Rudder has himself and She-Hulk doing his own plan based on the peridicity of this one, the 100 km version, but with weights added and other fiendish changes, because he's a little twisted that way. I'm on the 80km version, because I haven't been training as hard and because I only want to finish the marathon, not set a record. It's a lot more distance than I've been doing, but only about one more workout per week (I'll mostly drop the weightlifting, as I did last fall) so it shouldn't been too much strain on my body. As he says, I may not adhere to it strictly, but at least it's a framework. Hopefully I can get my IFR finished within the next month, and then I'll have more time for training and more money for everything eles. Or more likely, for saving.

Posted by dichroic at 01:31 PM | Comments (1)

August 07, 2005

written test taken


In case that text isn't clear for you, the important parts are:

EXAM: Instrument Rating Airplane

This is just the written, though. Next comes finishing up training, then the hard part: the checkride and oral quiz.

Posted by dichroic at 04:53 PM | Comments (14)

August 05, 2005

still not ready

I am really not ready for this exam. I found a practice test online, and am getting scores ranging from 60-80% (70 is required to pass). I'd be much happier with a 70-90 range. I'll see how I'm doing by Sunday; there's no hard deadline, and I can take the test pretty much whenever I want. I just want this IFR stuff over will, so I can quit hemorrhaging money on long / frequent flights. Once it's done, I should try to fly once a month or so, to maintain proficiency, but that won't be ungodly expensive.

Rudder and I may try to fly up to his Oregon grandparents' for Labor Day; that would give me enough hours to finish the cross-country requirements, and their town is remote enough that it takes very nearly as long to fly commercially and have to drive over.

I've been studying sort of backwards, reviewing test questions first and then when necessary reading up in the book. I had originally tried reading first, but some of the material is so tedious, and the authors make so many hoary and hokey jokes (any stray pilots reading this now know exactly what set of books I'm talking about). When I do the questions first, then when I read on the subject I'm having an easier time concentrating. Instead of dozing off, I think, "Oh, this came up and I didn't know it," so it's easier to pay attention. There are also DVDs to play on my computer, but those are even more annoying than the book.

Also, Rudder has gone insane. He's planning a third annual erg marathon despite saying last year in so many words that he wouldn't do it this year, and has presented She-Hulk with a marathon training schedule that involves doing 1,100,000 meters over the next few months. (He knows better than to try to talk me into that. He showed me an 80,000 variation of the training. Big improvement, not.) We're hoping this all wears off and he finds somewhere else to channel his formidable energy, now that the Charles race is out.

Posted by dichroic at 02:47 PM | Comments (1)

August 04, 2005

rough day all around

Yesterday was rough all around - I did 10K on the erg in the morning, work kicked my butt, and then the IFR study materials kicked my butt some more. I'm still hoping to take that test this weekend, but I'm not really ready for it. There's so much to learn and so much of it is arbitrary and unconnected. A lot of it strikes me as unimportant for a pilot to know, or as being something I can look up instead of memorizing when I need it.

Please don't tell me you're sure I'll do fine. I promise, if I tell you I'm not ready for a test, I'm really not. I'm not one of those horrid people who tells you they don't know anything and then gets a perfect score.

Yesterday I took a practice test in a book of Rudder's, which confused the issue further. Some things have changed and I think some of the things on it aren't in the newer test (other things, like GPS, have been added, however), so I did very badly on it. When I picked some random questions out of my own test-prep book, I did a little better but still not as well as I'd like. Also, I've been traumatized a little since the time, months ago, when I was reading comments to a rare flying entry on an otherwise political blog written by another pilot, for a in which any number of people claimed to have passed with a perfect score or with only one or two wrong. I don't think that's what will happen to me, and I'm used to doing well on tests.

I (finally!) had my interview for the job in which I am more or les the current incumbent (but not enough of one to be a shoo-in) today, too.

Still, Rudder's day was more traumatic than mine. He's been trying to decide whether to compete in the Head of the Charles again this year. Unfortunately, in the flurry that was our July, he had totally forgotten that the deadline for singles entries is August 1 (for some reason, every other event has until September 1). He was upset about it to a degree that I think surprised himself; he hadn't been sure he wanted to do that race, but when he found out he couldn't, I think he was confronted by the yawning chasm of time that he would otherwise have spent rowing, and had no idea what to do with it.

Of course, part of the reason he was considering not racing was a promise to me to pull back a little bit and train less, because I am very, very tired of being woken regularly at 4AM. (I sleep lightly enough that it is simply not possible for him to get up without waking me, no matter how quiet he is.) However much I hate that, though, it was even worse to see how sad and at loose ends he was. I don't fully understand why this has to be so hard for him - I'd be delighted with extra time, and would have no trouble filling it as full as I wanted to - but with some of the other changes we're considering and with the way his job is going, putting the effort into house or work projects as he would otherwise isn't much of an option. He's considering other races for the fall now; with luck, since the level of competition most places won't be quite as high as ion Boston, he'll be able to pull back at least a little on the training.

Posted by dichroic at 02:32 PM | Comments (1)

August 03, 2005

singing flight

Scalzi began a discussion thread with, "Why are there so many songs about rainbows?" Actually, I'm not convinced there are. I can think of three, offhand: The Rainbow Connection, obviously; Somewhere Over the Rainbow; and Look to the Rainbow, from Finian's R.

But the real question, to my mind, should be, "Why are there so few songs about flying?" I 've never actually sailed anything bigger than a Sunfish (been on a few others were sailing, though), but I can sing you songs about sailing until you beg for mercy. (Granted, for most people, that happens in about five minutes.) There are hundreds of them, and not all the sailing songs date back to the days when people actually did sing attheir work. Yet there are hardly any songs about actually being off the ground, chasing clouds and rainbows. Not that you can get near a rainbow, but I have now flown through clouds. There are a few that are only tangential and don't really count, like Leaving on a Jet Plane or Early Morning Rain, but as far as actual flying songs, all I can think of are Archie Fisher's song Bill Hosie (about a man who built a replican Supermarine S-5 and Bill Staines' Tingmissartoq (about the plane Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh took up tot eh Arctic) and both of those are fairly obscure. Note: both can be found on Staines' album Looking for the Wind, should you want to hear them - but even that album, titled about his first landing at the controls, contains only those two and Early Morning Rain for flying songs.)

There are a few songs about flying without airplanes: Iron Maiden, Ani DiFranco, Reilly & Maloney and Richard Berman have all sung about Icaurs, though only the first and third of those really dwell on the flying experience, and there's I'm Flying! from the Peter Pan musical.

There's the Indigo Girls' song Airplane, but that's mostly about wishing you were back on the ground. John Denver once put the poem High Flight to music, but I've never found a recording. (He was hosting a special about NASA -I'd love a video of the whole thing.) There are a couple of songs about space flight, though I think of that as a different animal (an even more exciting one, in my opinion), but both Space Oddity and its remake Major Tom end with the astronaut's death. Elton John's Rocketman is about the dreary planetside part of the job. His Rocket Man is a trucker who just happens to drive a spaceship.

With the amount of time humanity has spent on dreaming of flight and on trying to get off the ground, you'd think we'd sing about it a little more.

Posted by dichroic at 01:05 PM | Comments (4)

August 02, 2005

a couple of oddities

Something happened during the Canada trip that actually made me feel a little better about the attack on American civil liberties beefing up of U.S Security: we met a Border Patrol officer with a sense of humor. Rudder had a small mustache when I met him and up until he turned 30; he'd always said he wouldn't shave it off until at least that age, so when he turned 30 I reminded him of that statement and asked him to remove it at least for a little while, so I could see what his whole face looked like. He decided to keep it off (and in my opinion looks better without it, though he looks awfully good with a beard, even a half-grown one), but his passport photo still shows him with the 'stache.

Coming through the Edmonton airport we had to stop at the US Customs desk, where the officer had to check our passports. We talked a little about what we'd been doing; he told us he lives on the lake where the regatta was held. The guy took a look at Rudder's photo, and She-Hulk commented on the mustache in the old picture. The officer, said, "Oh, that's a real SuperTrooper mustache!". The he flinched, when he realized he probably wasn't supposed to make personal comments.

It was probably funnier due to our food- and sleep-deprivation at the time.

Today's gaffe: apparently I did do a fairly hard gym workout this morning. Getting dressed afterward I omitted an item of underclothing generally considered crucial. Oops. Fortunately,I'm wearing a lined shift whose outside is a sort of tweedy woven wool, and I still don't sag so the omission doesn't show at all. I've been trying not to go without any more, though, after noticing that without support I tend to be a little sore at the end of the day - after all, I don't want to become saggy either. Oops.

Posted by dichroic at 01:32 PM | Comments (2)

August 01, 2005

harmony in the home

We left for San Diego on Saturday morning a little after 8 (this is called "sleeping in" in my house). It was nice, actually, not to have to drive out after work. As part of that whole romantic weekend idea, we'd decided to shell out for the beachfront hotel, a pricey proposition in Mission Beach in July. What I didn't realize was that Rudder had also booked an oceanfront room. We were in a small but nice room on the third floor, with a good-sized balcony looking over the beach. After we brought our clothes up to the room, Rudder began making noises about needing a cart to bring up "some extra stuff". He wouldn't normally have needed anything else, so figuring something was up, I invoked the Christmas present rule and avoided asking any awkward questions.

It turned out that he'd brought along an extra cooler (in addition to the one with drinks for the six-hour drive) and a large cardboard box. It is, apparently, very helpful to be able to rely upon your spouse's obliviousness (I wouldn't know). This was also aided by Rudder's own normal overpacking tendencies; if I had noticed the extra cooler, I'd have assumed it was there to hold some boat part or other, since the main reason for our trip was to pick up the boats the local Rowing Club brought back for us from the World Masters Games. I invented some errand involving going downstairs, and when I came back to the room, he'd gotten it all set up.

Given that we were only home for two and a half days between trips, he really outdid himself. There was, as mentioned, an ice cream cake with "#1 Crew Chief" in icing, packed inside our biggest pot (the one we used to brew beer in) in the cooler with some dry ice, to survive the trip. On the table on the other side of the room was a large basket packed with some fancy cheese, crackers, those delicate rolled cookies from Pepperidge Farms, English Breakfast tea (loose), wine, and champagne. Also a candle shaped like a rosebud, and a card.


Padding the basket, as had to be pointed out to me, was blue, red, and yellow tissue paper (our Arizona Outlaws colors), and it was topped with a copper ribbon, to match the star in the middle of the state flag (and our logo). He'd also brought all the necessary plates and utensils, even a cheese knife and a tea infuser.

As it turned out, the basket and wine were things we already owned, and I had bought the tea and forgotten about it a few months ago, but he didn't have a lot of time to work and I don't think the reuse devalues the gesture any.

The card was very sweet, but I will not share its contents except to say that Rudder writes the worst-spelled love notes you can possibly imagine (he's not lazy but dyslexic). For some besotted reason I find it endearing, and always have.

By the time we arrived, checked in and unpacked - and I'd thanked him appropriately - it was nearly 3PM. The traffic on Mission Bay Drive is much worse in July than in spring or fall, when we're normally there. We decided just to spend the afternoon on the beach. Rudder especially was still recuperating from the Canada trip. The water was cold, but I decided that the cold would be less painful than not going in. Rudder, never a fan of full immersion, decided it was too cold for him, so he held my pants and glasses while I made my way into the waves. I finally managed to go deep enough to catch a wave successfully, surprising myself with what may be my only actual body-surfing to date, and ended up getting wet all over, with a bit of the thin Earth-blood taste of the sea in my mouth. I didn't stay in long, because of the cold and because I didn't want to keep Rudder waiting. We walked a bit farther, then he sat by the hotel hot tub while I immersed to warm up. After I showered, we ate dinner at Nick's - I'd picked the name from the hotel guide, but it turned out to be the same place we'd eaten at in January, when we were in town for the rowing camp. We enjoyed it both times.

I really think I did handle this latest pique fairly well; Rudder knew I was mad at him, and maybe a little distant, but wasn't finding me unpleasant to be around. He naturally shows love by doing things for me (which, unfortunately, doesn't work as well on me as verbalizing) so presumably accepts love the same way. I made sure to keep doing things for him, even while talking to him less than I normally would, and to tell him flat out (but calmly) that I was upset and exactly why. (Also, to be fair, I didn't feel unappreciated just by him but by the whole group, but he's the one I have to live with and the one whose actions affect me most.) He implied at one point this weekend that he'd wanted to go out of his way to be nice to me - and did - partly because I "didn't bitch much this time at all".

I think I was also on his schedule. When he'd decided to do the World Masters a while ago, he'd said something at the time about not having much time to focus on me during the training, and having to do it afterward. He said something to a similar effect that reminded me of that this weekend, so I think part of this all was a reaction to Recent Events, but another part was the timing. Apparently I'm a line item on his schedule. I guess that's a good thing - always nice to be a priority - and I can't say I wasn't warned.

He's still deciding whether to race at the Charles this year, especially as I expect to be JournalConning that weekend instead. However, head race training is usually not quite as intense. Meanwhile, I'm having almost a reverse problem, in that he's taking all this week off from training (barring maybe a weight workout or two) but I can't afford to do that. If I'm considering doing the Natchitoches Marathon at all this year, I need to begin building up distance now. (A month ago would have been better, but all that travel interfered.) So paradoxically, now I have to worry about not waking him up. And after this past weekend, I actually don't want to wake him.

Posted by dichroic at 02:42 PM | Comments (1)