I should probably clarify a bit from yesterday. I don't want anyone to think I don't have any local friends!
We do have some community among the rowers, especially those that row as Arizona Outlaws, and most especially She-Hulk. I'd go to her if I needed any kind of help, not only because she's our friend but because she's that kind of person - like Jane of Lantern Hill, it's a keynote to her character. And lately I've been especially pleased to not only get the Cubemate rowing as an Outlaw, but also as we begin to be friends rather than just coworkers.
There have been a few others from various previous jobs I'd still count as friends, though of course I see them less often than when we worked together. Still, it is a difficult area to make friends and to build community. One reason is that so few people have roots here. It's happened to us again and again that we make friends with someone who then moves away - T2 and Egret are the most recent examples of this.
In addition, I do feel that I have supportive communities, plural, online. There are email discussion groups that I've been active on for nearly a decade, in addition to the people whose blogs I read and who read mine, on LJ, Diaryland and elsewhere. Some of those are among the first people I'd go to with a grief. Still, hugs don't travel well through the electrons and neither do casseroles or cookies. (On the other hand, a donation to the local Human Society in honored of a recently deceased cat works just fine over distance, and can be just as good for making you feel loved.)
So please don't take yesterday's entry as my way of whining "I'm all alo-o-o-o-ne and nobody likes me!" Just, sometimes, a little more so than I'd like to be. (And it's probably not coincidental if I tend to write things like that when Rudder is away.)
I've been reading Jane Yolen's journal, and can't miss the similarities to Madeleine L'Engle's writings about her family - not just A Two-Part Invention but all of her Crosswicks journals, and not just because both have had to deal with the slow and early death of beloved husbands, but because of the fullness of community within which both live, the family by birth and by choice who brought food and love and music and laughter and tears to mourn and celebrate. (Some things can only be expressed in run-on sentences.)
If Rudder or I were to fall deathly ill tomorrow, I don't think we'd have that. It's not only because we don't have children, though that may be a factor. It's only partly that we don't have a community with the same customs; it might be better if I go before Rudder (kineahora, not for decades and decades) because the last thing I'm going to want to do is to have to explain to everyone what sitting shiva is about and what people are supposed to do. I don't think it's because we don't meet the right kind of people; I think having that loving community has more to do with being able to like the people you do meet, and to recognize the ones you can love and let them know it. I've seen it done; I used to have a coworker and his wife who seemed to like most people, not in a syrupy indiscriminatory way but to appreciate each one. They were salty and funny and sarcastic, but when you spoke to them you felt they were enjoying talking to you, and they seemed to give that impression to most people. (As you might expect, they gave great parties.)
I'm more crotchety than that. There are too many people I just don't like much. There are also some who are just a bit annoying, but some of those are good friends - like family who have annoying quirks but who you love anyway. But if I can't respect someone or just can't find any sense of connection, unfortunately, it shows. Being crotchety has its own satisfactions, but there are some times when those are not nearly as satisfying satisfactions as having people to sing with and eat with and mourn with. (That's part of the issue. I really *don't* know many people I could sing with, and I miss that - but it would be better to appreciate whatever I could do with the people I do meet.) There are also quite a lot of people whom I annoy.
Stan Rogers put it this way (cut for length)
I used to be a Pharisee, Cynical and wise, telling rich, ungodly lies of humanity; And in the marketplace was seated A cripple with a lyre, I looked at him and said, "I've been rich, but so unhappy, What sets you so on fire". And he said, "Look upon me brother, I'm a man with peace of mind. You know I've never been much good at nothin' But the words I've wrought in rhyme, But I've a good woman to feed me, And friends to share a brew, And evenings we will sit around and sing together And it could be the same for you, if you just
Hold on to young friends you made of old,
And cleave to the woman that keeps you whole,
Keep a warm fire
For all your friends who come in from the cold.
I love you as a brother
And I don't even know your name.
I know this must sound different,
But for me it's always been the same.
Tonight the smoke is rising from all around the room,
And judging from the warmth of the smell from the kitchen,
There'll be supper ready soon.
And our table's set for twenty,
Room for more if they should come,
And later on we'll pass around the pipe for our pleasure
And sit and take a little rum, and we will
Hold on to young friends we made of old
And cleave to the women that keep us whole,
And keep a warm fire
For all our friends who come in from the cold;
We love them all as brothers
And we don't have to know their names
We know this must sound different,
But for us it always stays the same.
Hold on to young friends…etc.
I used to be so different,
Now I know I'll always stay the same
...but I don't think it's really that easy. (Certainly not for all those women in the kitchen cooking for twenty while the men sit around smoking!)
I'm not being callous to Jane Yolen's mourning; no matter how many other people she loves or who love her, it's clear there's a big hole left by her husband's death that nothing will fill. I just think that if you must go through that kind of grief, it might be a support consolation to know that the two of you had built a life full of shared interests and love.
Also I've replaced all the rubber bits on my sunglasses (the're made to cling even when sweaty but the rubber degrades over time), done two loads of laundry, and for the earrings I made today, I made the earwire parts myself for the first time, instead of using purchased ones. They look OK, though the cut ends are probably a little sharper than optimal.
Apparently my subconscious has decided that with Rudder gone, someone has to be energetic and productive around here. The cat, on the other hand, can only be described as nervous and clingy (I mean, more so than usual). I suspect he's worried: first the other cat disappeared, now Rudder's gone, and if I vanish who will feed him? Never mind that we've actually been gone for entire weekends since the other cat died and have always come back. Meanwhile, it would be nice to be able to use my computer mouse without having to reach under or around the cat.
As for the food thing, well, apparently I was hungry. This has been happening a lot lately; I'll feel very tired and lethargic, not hungry at all, sometimes even full - but if it's dinner time and I figure I ought to eat something, once I start putting food away, quite a bit more of it disappears than I'd expect, and afterwards I feel much better. Unfortunately, even though it's happened several times now, the tiredness often keeps me from making the connection and thinking, "oh, maybe I should eat something". I would like my hunger cues back, please.
I feel all connected with istory today. I was reading Patrick O'Brian's The Fortune of War yesterday, about the battle between HMS Java and the USS Constitution at the beginning of the War of 1812, when I realized I already knew how the battle must end, I've actually been on the Constitution, Old Ironsides - in fact, she's not only still extant, she's commissioned in the US Navy. I knew she hadn't been taken, sunk or burned by the British. (In fact, " 'twas a famous vistory", though perhaps not for the 160-some casualties on both sides of the battle.) I've gotten the whole series and am curious to see how O'Brian partrays the rest of the war; it wasn't really much of a win for either side; the US didn't get Canada, the British didn't get to reclaim the US and if I recall correctly had to quit pressing men off American ships. It's taught as a victory in US schools, though (which is mostly done by not teaching very much beyond Dolly Madison saving Washington's portrait from the burning White House and the battle on Lake Champlain). I wonder if O'Brian's heroes will regard it as a British victory.
The today I took a look at the JewishGen website and found that they had data on one line of my family up to my great-great-great grandparents, who must have been born in the 1840s. I haven't known their names before. I am listed, and my whole family, but not my marriage to Rudder and no data for my father's parents or my mother's father's parents, so I suspect the data was entered by a distant cousin who I know has researched all the descendants of my one great-great-grandfather. Apparently he's found a little more data since self-publishing a book on the family (mostly a collection of family trees).
It has continued to be a productive weekend. So far the talley stands at three pair of earrings made, and a little more done on the second sock for Rudder. I've made some adjustments to my oars and boat, rowed a double with Dr. Bosun, done a bit of weeding, read a lot, polished my toenails, and paid some bills. I do need to get over the concept of recreational shopping; what I've spent this weekend on clothing, shoes and cosmetics would go most of the way toward the new oars I've been lusting after. On the other hand, it's been pointed out to me by cooler heads that the oars don't make sense, with our future so unsettled; if I were to use them for a few months and then put them in storage for a few years, I could come back to find vast advances in oars have been made and I'd just want a new set. And of course, the ones I have are perfectly fine; new ones would just be a little lighter, a little stiffer, and a bit easier to feather. On the positive side, no matter what we do, I can at least still wear and use the things I've bought this weekend.
On thing I haven't done since Rudder left is any cooking more complicated than making oatmeal or popcorn; I just don't seem to be hungry and since I still want to lose a couple more pounds (literally a couple) I'm not forcing myself to eat these days. On the other hand, I do need to keep eating well, even if in less quantity, so what I lose isn't muscle and so I have the energy for rowing and lifting. A salad I bought at Outback was dinner for both Saturday and Sunday nights. Today's food so far has comprised half a Belgian waffle (breakfast with She-Hulk and Dr. Bosun, yay), a pretzel, a bowl of popcorn and some yogurt. I really ought to make something for dinner, preferably something heavy on protein, but I can't think of anything that seems worth the trouble. Maybe I'll just have a cheesestick or Luna bar and some grapes. Mostly, though, I think there's just a natural ebb and flow in my appetite; I don't think it's a monthly cycle. I've never tracked it closely enough to be sure, but it seems to be longer than that. I'm not depressed, though of course I miss Rudder. I am a little less likely to eat just because of going only by my own body rhythms; when he's around we need to get him fed in large quantities at regular intervals, whereas I can just sort of graze through a day.
I should go though. I fibbed above; I haven't actually paid the bills yet - but I will before bedtime!
Edited to add: Looked in pantry. Inspired to make bowties and kasha - tasty and I can eat it for days. The kasha (buckwheat) has a surprising amount of protein. It really is best with gravy, but if I add extra bouillon to the seasonings it helps compensate.
Today I dropped Rudder off at the airport, then went to the gym. I like going on weekends because I'm not in a hurry to leave. I can do more free weights, whereas on weekdays I tend to use machines because they're faster. I do like my gym; there were any many women in the free weight area as men, they were lifting big heavy weights, and quite a few of them had the definition to prove they're serious about it. No powderpuffs doing endless reps of 2-pound weights, and no huge barrel-chested men with teeny skinny legs giving the women a hard time. In other parts of the gym were regulars and people who are clearly just starting out. A good mix. After going home to shower, I went to a new local bead store that's opened in the same location of one that had closed, and was pleased to find that though the new store has different owners, it carries some of the same dichroic beads I'd loved at the old one and hadn't been able to find since they closed. After coming home, I took some pictures of me for the weekend portrait project. I was going to try for some muscle shots, but I hated most of the results. Here's what I got when I cropped all the parts of my body that I thought looked awful: But I did quite like this shot I got while goofing around, so it's my official portrait for this weekend. I have no idea why it looks like steam is rising from my eyes, but I like the effect:
Here's Rudder heading out - unfortunately I'm not good enough at Photoshop to be able to entirely fix those shadows on his face:
I did eventually get some pictures that purport to show muscles, by dint of sucking in my stomach to the point of "ouch!" and not breathing, but decided to use those for a fitness progress entry instead. Then I spent the next several hours replacing the wheels on my boat's seat, remaking a bookmark, switching the silver spacers that were all I had on hand when I first made it for some gold(-colored) ones I bought today, and finishing two pair of earrings. The ones on the left are rose quartz and sterling; the others are sterling, aquamarine (I think) and iolite.
Now I'm off to get a massge - tomorrow I may drive up to Jerome or hang out here and look for new sandals, but either way I need to make some adjustments on my oars.
Time for progress photos and measurements again. Last time I did this was April 8; that entry, with pictures, is here. My stomach looks much better in the current set, but that has more to do with sucking it in to the point of discomfort (because I was originally going to use these for the portrait project) than to actual progress. (Also, today's photos were taken shortly after a gym session).
weight:128.0 (but this is the heaviest point of my cycle - April's same weight wasn't)
1" below shoulders: 40.25
Upper arms, flexed: 11.25", both sides
Waist: 28.5" - rats, still no change
Hips: 36.5" (that counts as progress, at least)
Upper thigh, flexed: 21"
Middle of calf, flexed: 14.25"
1" below shoulders: 40.5
Upper arms, flexed: 11.5"
Hips: 36.5" (that counts as progress, at least)
Upper thigh, flexed: 21.5"
Middle of calf, flexed: 14.5"
So the legs are a trifle smaller - I think I gain weight from the center out and lose it from the extremities in, with the gut always being the first to gain and the last to lose.
Just finished. What a lovely, lovely book.
One of the best ways to get book recommendations is from other books. I would probably never have heard of E. Nesbit if nore for Edward Eager, but if all of his characters loved her, then I wanted to read her too - and it didn't take long to find that Nesbit was a much better author than Eager himself. (Caveat lector: this rule seems to break down for books that are more than a certain age. Nesbit's own characters love Mrs. Ewing, whom I'd have to say has not entirely stood the test of time (though the non-fairy-tale ones are better), and Jo March loved The Heir of Redclyffe, which isn't even my favorite of Yonge's - and she takes a certain mindset to read at all.)
The recommendations don't have to be within a story. If I had read Spider Robinson or John Scalzi I might have read him because he inspired them. (Or I might not - I've never read the Lensman books, despite Heinlein's glowing article on Doc Smith.)
This is all a lead-in to a thank-you for Jo Rowling. I had never heard of The Little White Horse until I read that it was one of her favorites, but now I love it and Linnets and Valerians. I've just acquired and am now reading I Capture the Castle and I'm having that falling-in-love-with-a-book experience (It usually only takes a few chapters to tell). I might have eventually heard about them via the Internet without JKR of course, but I heard it from her first, and for that I thank her.
What I wish is that the Web had been around when I was growing up. I can love I capture the Castle now, but when I was fourteen I would have moved in and lived inside it, as I did in Norma Johnston's books about Tish Sterling and Bridget Vandever. I enjoy the Shoes books now (Ballet Shoes, Dancing Shoes, etc) and The Little White Horse and Linnets and Valerians and Swallows and Amazons and I'd still be rereading them now no matter what - but I think they would all be that much dearer now if I could reread them with the memory of meeting them first at 8 or 10 or 12, as I can with Little Women and the Nesbit books, Narnia and The Dark is Rising.
I had a couple of firsts at lunch today. I was in a mood for some recreational shopping and had no meetings on or near lunch, so I decided to hit the local yarn store. I've been wanting to make a shrug or short wrap cardigan, something I could wear to work over a camisole. I could use some pale blue and green bamboo I've got (about 500 yds) or I could get something else to knit it in. I haven't found the perfect pattern yet. So I went to a locla knitting store. Unfortunately, having only been open a couple of months, they don't carry any magazines, books or other patterns. For the same reason, their yarn selection is a bit sparse. (They do have tons of Cascade yarns in every color; that's where I got the Fixation for my mom's mothers day set and I loved the colors of the Cascade 200. Just not for summer.) So I can say that I actually managed to walk out of a yarn store without buying a single thing.
I promptly blew all those savings on lunch, though. I went to the Japanese restaurant next door to grab some food. They agreed that I could get some sushi for takeout, even though our weather's been heating up. In return I promised not to order any raw fish. I think this was my first time being served by a sushi chef who wasn't Asian. (I may have encountered some that weren't specifically Japanese before, but my (round) eye for that distinction isn't all that finely honed.) Not only that, he had his hair in cornrows, or actually divided into little squares with a braid poking out of each. I suppose it keeps his hair out of the food, but for some reason it didn't inspire confidence. I think it would have been less off-putting somehow, if he hadn't been a white guy. It didn't help, either, that he was so skinny as to suggest that he's not all that fond of his own food preparations. (Of course, it is fairly nonfattening food, and I suppose he might just be fonder of cooking than eating.) Still, it all made me a bit glad that I was ordering cooked (= less expertise needed to keep it safe) food. It tasted OK, nothing special. Expensive, though, and the restaurant had a slightly downtrodden feel. I'll be back to the yarn store, to check out the increases in their stock, bt next time I think I'll grab lunch at the sandwich place across the way.
It's probably just as well I didn't splurge on yarn today. Rudder wil be away over the memorial Day weekend, leaving me with nothing much to do. I think retail therapy is in the cards.
Lots of meetings yesterday and today, so not much time to update. I'm trying to train pretty hard, but after a while it just gets to be too much - for instance, I'd rowed Friday, Saturday and Monday, including extra distance on Monday, and gone ot the gym yesterday. Today I was planning to row, but had a 7:30 telecon, so I decided to erg instead. There was at least a possibility of waking up at 4 (well, waking up at 4 when Rudder got up was a given, but getting out of bed was a possibility) or 4:30 so I could get some decent distance. I was definitely starting to feel burned out and just plain tired, though. Instead I slept until 5 and only managed to get in 5K on the erg. I'm going to take tomorrow off completely, row Friday, and go to the gym on Saturday. That will be similar to last week's pattern, which worked fairly well in having me feel strong and energetic for the last several rows.
Next week Rudder will be off traveling. I need to not slack off while he's gone, but rather hit the training pretty hard, because the week after that I can begin s slight taper for the lake Tahoe race. It's a bit of an anomaly, though, a longer race at a time in the year when we're usually doing sprints. I'll be rowing it in a double with Dr. Bosun. We went out last Saturday in the double belonging to Old Salt that we're intending to row in; we had to make a lot of adjustments to both the boat and our rowing, but it felt much better toward the end. We only rowed at a light pressure, though. We're going to row again in Rudder's double next week to see if it feels better, and I hope we can row a bit more at race pressure.
Dr. Bosun tends to do a lot of coaching while rowing; I don't think she means it as "I'm better than you and am telling you what to do" but as "this is what I see in your rowing, please tell me what you see in mine". I think some people have tended to assume the former rather than the latter and to get annoyed, but she was eager to hear any feedback I had for her, and in fact one of her comments was a useful change for me to make in my single as well as in our double. Fortunately she said it in a way that worked for me. If she had said, "You should begin pulling your arms too late" I would have assumed it was only a style difference and might have changed it in the double but not in my single. What she said, though, was, "I feel a check in the boat; I think it happens when you start bringing your arms in." A check in the boat's forward motion is always a bad thing, no matter what style you use, and when I tried bending my arms sooner she said she wasn't feeling the check anymore. That's something that's a big deal for me in training: saying the thing in the way that makes sense to the student. There is no one right way of training, because there is no one way of learning that works for everyone. For me, in rowing, I'm only going to listen to you if what you're saying makes physics / biomechanical / physiological sense.
At any rate, I think this race is more about a chance to go out rowing in a beautiful place than about any fierce competition. Still, feeling you did your best is always a good thing and winning a medal is even better.
This morning, Rudder and I were interviewed for Arizona Highways along with other rowers - we were first because had to get to work, so I don't know how many other people they talked to. They also took lots of footage of us rowing. I don't know how much of the footage of us will end up on the show, but given that our boats, unis, and oars have the distinctive sunrise design of the Arizona flag, I'm sure they'll at least include some of the film of us rowing by.
They wanted us in our boats and close together for the interview, so I sat at the dock, with Rudder floating nearby, so close that his port oar was resting on my boat's stern with his oar blade on the dock, and my oar on his bow. I hope no one who sees it thinks that's something rowers normally do. Anyway, for anyone reading this who gets Phoenix TV stations, it's supposed to be showing at the end of June, on channel 12 at 6:30. If it's viewable on the web, I'll post a link.
Practice this morning was "castles": starting at a rate of 20 strokes per minute, change rate every 2 minutes, first up 4 then down 2, up 4, down 2, so the rate goes 20, 24, 22, 26, 24, 28, 26, 30, 28, 32. It's kind of like drinking Singapore Slings: it feels all sweet and easy at first, then all of a sudden it's kicking your ass. I did two sets, the resident house masochist (that would be Rudder) did four. The interview was after that, so if you do see it and we look all tired and dishevelled, that's why.
I'm beginning to kind of enjoy this whole making lightweight eating plan. It's enormously freeing. If I'm eating a meal and I get full, I can just stop! And not have to try to finish it! And then eat again when I get hungry again! I seem to have spent half my life either being coaxed by my parents or grandparents to clean my plate, of trying to coax myself to make sure I get enough protein/iron/vegetables/calcium whatever. I've always eaten frequently; if I don't snack I eventually get grumpy and then lightheaded. My eating pattern now would be almost perfect, if I could only stop eating out of boredom, and if I were to substitute some healthier snacks. I don't think pretzels are bad for me, I just don't think they're good for me either. On the other hand, I'd probably be in a lot worse shape if I were tempted by sweet snacks instead of salty ones.
My haircut and pedicure have both worn off, or at least the visible effects have. My hair is curly again (since I don't blowdry it, I can't straighten it myself) and I had to remove the toenail polish after it chipped (it was actually a flake of the toenail that peeled off, so the polish can't be blamed for coming with it). I'm wearing sandals without polish today, but unlike at least one previous job, there's not anyone around here who would even notice, except Cubemate, who's not an overly critical sort, and at least I figure my toes are now reasonably fit to be seen. The announcement today of the leak of millions of veterans' personal data reminds me: the one thing I didn't like about this salon was the form they wanted me to fill out listing my address, phone, email, birthdate, marital status, and I don't remember what else, other than that it was none of their business. I gave them my address, on the theory that they could probably get that from having my credit card number, and left the rest blank. Presumably they want my birthday so they can give me some sort of freebie as a 'gift' (but then why do they need the year?) and my marital status so they know whether to try selling me one of their wedding packages (but then I could be single and going to a prom, or already married and want a glamorous hairdo as mother of the bride, so it still doesn't make sense. Or maybe they want all the data ready in case the Attorney General finished with libraries and goes after salons next?
This time I went for typical activities. This chair is no longer in our family room, but when it was, it was my usual chair, and this is my usual pose in it. (Now it's in the office and I sit in similar positions on the futon.)
Oh, and the straight Jennifer Aniston hair isn't usual - I just happened to get it trimmed today and had the stylist blowdry it straight for fun. Odd how much darker than usual it looks.
Rudder pretty much has two gearspeeds: high and off. This one isn't high.
In the photo of me, I just played with brightness and contrast, remove a couple red spots on my forehead, and dampened a hghlight on my nose. On Rudder's I played with levels, brightened his hair and dimmed highlights(should have used the flash diffuser I bought) but I also played with the lighting source, to focus on his face. Oh, and he was only pretending to sleep for the photo.
I had a hard time deciding which shots to use for this one. Here are some of the rejects - I haven't Photoshopped these at all.
This morning I just felt sortt of out of it - while driving to rowing, I felt almost faint (though I've never actually fainted, so don't really know what it would feel like), then I think I rowed part of my warmup half lap asleep, or maybe just very distracted. I actually did have a good workout, but decided to work from home today. I thought about taking a real sick day, but there was one teleconference I really wanted to call in to, so I thought I might as well do other work too, and not record it as a sick day. I have a wireless modem at home, and my laptop has a wireless network card, so I can do the rest and fluids thing while still getting work done.
This all would have worked better had I actually brought the computer ome last night. However, work is only 10 minutes from the lake, so I pulled my skirt on over my rowing shorts and went in and grabbed the laptop. I didn't see anyone on the way in or out, so no explanations needed.
Then when I emailed my manger to say I'd be out, he sent directions for a couple of things he wanted me to do and added, "Call me, if you feel well enough." Barring extreme laryngitis, I'm not really sure how I could be too sick to pick up a phone, but I suppose he was just trying to be nice.
I keep forgetting to record it, but I think I've figured out a Unified Theory of Dichroic, to explain why some physical parts of me don't quite work right, and I want to note it here for future reference. I'm not sure it's medically feasible, but it hangs together logically. (Cut for gastrointestinal TMI and for being not of general interest, don't say I didn't warn you.)
My theory is that I just don't process water as well as I should. This would explain why I get dehydrated sometimes even when I'd tried to drink enough, obviously, and why I have to pee more than a lot of others seem to have to. (Rudder has some camel genes, apparently, or possibly gerbil ones.) Too much water doesn't get to the bloodstream and organs and goes straight to the bladder. Less obviously, it could help explain the Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS can cover a wide range of symptoms, but I rarely have pain, never ever constipation, and I get queasy much less often than I did when I was younger, though still more than I'd like. The main symptom is basically having to spend more time in the bathroom than you'd think any healthy adult would - a combination of what drug companies like to euphemistically call "fecal urgency" combined with wanting to, er, get everything cleared out before going out (especially in a small plane or boat or anywhere else without bathroom facilities). My theory is that, because of the water-processig inefficiency, basically too much water makes it through to my lower intestines instead of getting absorbed earlier when it should.
As I said, I have no idea if this makes any medical sense whatsoever. On the other hand, no one else has any idea what really causes IBS, either.
Well, one of the "grr" situations from yesterday may be resolving itself amusingly (as in, the people who were supposed to pave the way for me to do other things apparently did they just didn't bother telling me about it. This involves possible travel for me a mere week and a half away, so it's the sort of thing I sort of need to know). Another frustrating situation, once expressed (er, maybe a bit forcefully) to my new manager resulted in a bit too much flattery about my value to his team and all the exciting directions he wants us to go in. Actually it did make me feel better, not so much for the flattery (well, maybe except one bit that was passed on from above) but because most of what he was saying and planning were the things I'd be saying and planning in his shoes. It does make me feel better that the new manager and I are generally in agreement as to where we should be heading. So my morale today is less "Grrr" and more "So yeah anyway whatever".
Also the Cubemate and I went to the bead warehouse store at lunchtime and bought headpins and jumprings and a strand of jade beads and one of rose quartz and two of iolite (that last is for me to make a rowing necklace for her) so now I have beads to fondle. Because apparently the chunk of cash I just spent on BotMo wasn't enough. (Well of course it wasn't, says the impatient acquisitive magpie side of me; only some of that money was for May beads; the June pearls and the November meteorites won't be arriving for months!) I keep being reluctant to sign up too far in advance because of the actual possibility we might just chuck it all up and go adventuring, and would thus be hard to mail things to. But I couldn't let that Astronomy package go without signing up - me with aerospace all over my resume, and a space science degree. I'll figure some way to get it to me, wherever I am. I'm not really even doing all that much beadwork these days, to justify all this acquisitveness. But beads are so satisfying just to have around, to run through your hands and lay out in various combinations. No wonder dragons and magpies hoard shiny bits.
One major difference between knitting and beading, is that beaded jewelry doesn't really take all that long to make (though individual pieces may take a while to conceive) and that I can generally make it for cheaper than I can buy jewelry someone else has made. (Those strings of semi-precious stones I mentioned earlier? $3 each.) On the other hand, in knitting the yarn alone general costs more than a machine-made sweater or socks would. At least in theory, I can made something better-fitting and better-made than a storebought item, depending on my own skill, but the real benefit is more in the process, as a hobby, and in the satisfaction of being able to wear or give something I've made. It's kind of nice to be able to be able to switch between the hobbies, between short-term projects where the fun is in the designing and the wearing, and the longer-term ones where the satisfaction is in completing a big project (and also in the wearing, of course).
There are a lot of things I'd like to write about assorted work situations, but I don't want to write them here, and I don't want to write about some of them at all. However, it can all be summarized as "Grrrr."
The one thing I appreciated about the President's speech last night was that it seemed to be free of hatemongering, and to display a certain respect for people brave enough to risk a dangerous trip and willing to work hard to get their children a better life. I think several of the things he proposed won't work, mind you, but it was a huge relief to not to hear blatant demagoguery. How sad is it that my standards have fallen that low?
(And apparently there are a couple of ways to see a prejudicial subtext in what he said (one in the original entry, more in the comments). But my mind isn't subtle that way, and I think I', just as happy to have missed it.)
The weekend was very relaxing, as we'd hoped. Sleeping late, piney clean fresh air, nothing at all we had to do... Luckily my uncle found the place with no trouble even though he came in on a different road than we'd expect. There aren't a ton of restaurants in the area, so took all our food up. We grilled chicken breasts and corn on the cob on Friday night, stead and asparagus the second night. (Yes, we grill both the corn and the asparagus. Yum.) We also had Caesar salad (from a bag) Friday, baked potatoes on the side and strawberry shortcake for dessert Saturday, and Rudder made breakfast burritos with chorizo for Sunday breakfast. We drove along the Mogollon Rim on Saturday, stopping to picnic, visited the local bison-themed self-proclaimed "resort", and hung out on our own nearby property. She-Hulk's cabin was very comfortable, not to mention well-supplied - everything from shampoo to sugar to band-aids, a few Arizona magazines, and even the first five Nancy Drew books (the 1959 rewrites). I enjoyed reading a few of those. Also, there were enough bears there to fill a petting zoo - bears on the cabinet tops, bears on the tables, bears supporting tables, bear toilet-paper holders, bearsbearsbears. They'd be overpowering to live with, but for a weekend in a cabin they were fun.
We're staying home this coming weekend. I think a massage or pedicure is in order, for further detoxing (also because my feet really need the latter).
I'm not entirely satisfied with yesterday's "Hair" composition (scroll down). Maybe when I have some spare time I'll tweak the layout a bit, and try to make the photos match a little better in size and composition. Or I could just omit the first three photos, the ones with wet hair. I think the others might be more satisfying as a series on their own. (Opinions welcome, especially from anyone with more design sense than I have, which is quite a broad field.)
The funny thing about the picture of Rudder is that neither of us realized at the time that the rock he's on is cantilevered out, with nothing under it. They are sturdy rocks though - granite, I think.
Another nice thing about weekends is that I'm bored less, so I snack less. (I always snack some and I always will - I do better eating little bits frequently than big meals widely spaced.) I've been fairly good about stopping eating when I'm full - used to be I'd pass far too often straight from 'hungry' to 'queasy' so it was easy enough to stop eating. My IBS has gotten so much better, probably from all the exercise though it may just be aging, that I have to be a little more sensitive now to when I've eaten enough. My weight is very nearly to where I want it now; I'd like to get it to where this morning's weight is the top instead of the bottom of the usual range, but that's it. The challenge now is just to make sure I keep a goodly percentage of that weight in muscle - for one thing, I'm getting old enough to have cellulite on curves that used to be smooth, and I don't like it. All the protein over the weekend, the 10K on the erg today, and the weightlifting tomorrow should help with that, anyway.
Here are the photos from the weekend. First, a series, instead of a single shot for me.
Give me a head with hair,
Long, beautiful hair,
Shining, gleaming, streaming flaxen waxen,
Give me down-to-there hair, shoulder-length or longer,
Here, Baby, there, Mama, everywhere Daddy, Daddy
Grow it, flow it, long as God can grow it, my hair.
In Rudder's case, though, one photo says it all:
"Monarch of all I survey"
I was contacted by one of my oldest friends recently (since 2nd or 3rd grade, but I didn't have her most current address) and through her found that our old camp has a couple of YahooGroups, one from its all girl days (including when we were campers, me for two years, her for longer) and one from its coed days, when we were counselors, aged 16. My mother and grandmother went there too. (In the process I also learned Mom is not only on the YGroup but has a new email address she'd forgotten to tell me about. Mothers.)
One thing that all has me thinking about is weight. That summer we were counselors, between the indifferent food and all the extra activity, I got down to 95 pounds, the lowest I've been at my current height. During the course of the summer, I got sick at least three times: once from dehydration, once from a staph infection (but no one else who'd drunk from the same bottle as the girl who originally had it got staph - or else they all fought it off) and once from a stomach virus. Even at my normal 100 - 105* I got sick a few times a year back then. By the end of college or my early working days my weight got up to 110, and up to 115 in Houston when I began playing Ultimate Frisbee and then stayed around 110-115 when I began then rowing. A hundred ten seems to be a switch for me; at anything above that weight I get sick much less often. (When I moved in with Rudder, he got me taking a multivitamin daily, which probably also helps.) A few years after we moved out here, the lake opened, and we began rowing much more seriously and lifting weights. My weight went up to 120-123*, and I hardly ever got sick. Also, after I couple years of rowing, I noticed that the IBS was bothering me a lot less. In the last two years, when I was working on my instrument rating, I was lifting heavy and rowing less, and my weight went up to 130. I'm trying to keep it a bit lower, because of wanting to row lightweight, and right now it's at 127*, or at least anywhere from 125-130 depending on time of cycle, time of day, how recently I've gone to the bathroom, and so on. When I tried to give blood a few months ago, I wasn't reject for low blood iron, as I usually was about 4/5 times in the past. Two months ago, I got a physical and asked to have my ferretin levels checked, on the advice of a rowing coach who says blood iron is often low in rowers but it may not show in standard tests. My levels were very good. Yesterday, I gave blood again, and the droplet they took to test sank right to the bottom of the vial, heavy with iron.
In other words, in my experience, the heavier I get, the healthier I am. I don't intend to test this by continuing to gain weight - at least, the only way I can imagine doing that would be if I got much more seriously into weightlifting. I surmise there would be a point of diminishing returns, and eventually one at which continued weight gain would decrease my health. On the other hand, my BMI right now is 23 - within the normal range, but toward the higher end of it.
For another, when I turned 16 I was wearing preteen and student sizes. I was very happy, toward the end of high school (aged 17) to finally be able to wear junior size 1 or 3. In college I was wearing junior 3-5 or a misses 2 or 4. In recent years, I've gotten a little curvier and more muscular; I can't fit into as many juniors sizes, which seem to assume twiglike arms and legs. I mostly wear a misses 4, occasionally a 6 if something is cut small or I want it to fit more loosely. Now there are a couple contributing factors; there may have been some upward creep in manufacturers sizing and the current lower wiasts fit my body shape much better, since I've always had a very straight waist and hence not a small one. Still, even at 5'2"*, I doubt many people would consider someone who wears US size 4 to be overweight. My resting heart rate is 57. My blood pressure is generally something like 118 over 70 or 80. (Granted, it was higher yesterday: at work, right after walking about two city blocks to the vampires' mobile unit, right before donating blood. I'm not afraid of needles, but I don't think anyone really likes them. So I don't think that BP counts.) My cholesterol is good. My bodyfat percentage is at the lower end of the normal range.
What I'm saying here, is that maybe someone ought to rethink the weight charts. Maybe they ought to chart immune system function against weight, as well as things like heart rate and BP and cholesterol. Maybe medical professionals ought to make it clearer that thinner isn't always better. I'm willing to believe that obesity (in the technical medical definition) may be unhealthy, because beyond a certain point it's demonstrably harder for epople to get around (that is, people who weigh 500 lbs seem to have a harder time walking). On the other hand, body builders can easily get into the range medically considered obese, and more commonly, so can people who may have a little extra fat but also a lot of muscle (including some very healthy rower friends of mine). Maybe there are better ways to assess health, and better recommendations we should be making.
Decision to make this morning. Coming out of the gym shower after rowing, I noticed my navel piercing is missing the top little silver ball that holds it in place. I have a couple of options. I can go buy a new one at lunch, because the place where I got it pierced isn't too far from here. I can be very careful with it and wait until I get home, hoping I didn't lose the little lapis topper I bought for it but haven't worn for a long time since deciding I liked the silver ball better.
Or I can just take it out and let it close. There are a lot of good reason to do that: for one, it never really healed all that well. For another, I'm so short-waisted that several of my pants and skirts (even slightly low-waisted ones) come up over it and irritate it. My abs have never been in good enough condition for me to want to display it publicly, and Rudder's not crazy about it.
The only good reasons I can think of to have a piercing (because, after all a non-medically necessary intrusive object in your body is not a default state) is because it means something to you or because you like the way it looks. Therefore, the appropriate action would be to examine those reasons and decide if either apply. It doesn't have a special specific meaning to me - that is, I didn't get it to commemorate some triumph or milestone in my life. In more general terms, the main thing it means is thatI can think of myself as the sort of person who would have a body piercing instead of the sort who wouldn't - meaning, it lets me believe a little more daring and rebellion into my self-image. (Yes, I do know just how common piercings are and how stupid that is, especially as compared to some less common daring things I've done.) As for liking the way it looks - I don't know. The problem is that I don't like the way my stomach looks in general. The picture links above is with everything sucked in, a waistband strategically arranged, a few pounds less on me - and even then, you're not seeing the side view. Then again, the piercing only shows from the front anyway. And it doesn't show at all with a shirt in front of it!
Hmm. So far the preponderance of reasons seem to be in favor of taking it out. But I just somehow don't want to, which I suppose is also a good reason.
LATER: Writing this out did help; once I looked at all the reasons for and against, I realized I just don't want to take out my piercing, whatever the reasons say. So I went out at lunch and bought an opal ball set in prongs, and a plain steel one in case the opal breaks or I decide I don't like it as much. Coincidentally, the guy who sold them to be had big flat dichroic cabochons - over an inch across set in his stretched earlobes. Too bad they didn't have dichroic ends for my little barbell. I asked and they said someone had tried but couldn't successfully combine the glass and the metal - pretty stupid answer (on the part of the would-be manufacturers, not the person I was talking to) considerably they could have just set a glass ball in prongs, as with the opal I bought. Anyway, I think it's close enough. Opal, the original dichroic, now set in a Dichroic not too near you.
I so wish we didn't have to go away this weekend. A relative of mine is doing a trip around the Southwest, and we're meeting him for a weekend at She-Hulk's cabin, which is very close to our airpark property. I know we'll enjoy this; he's a friend as well as a relative, and he's coming considerably farther to see us than we're going to see him. Besides Arizona, he'll be stopping in Albuquerque and Big Bend, so it's a long driving trip (he's retired). It's just that we're still recovering from last weekend, and having to plan, shop for and pack all the food for a weekend for three people (including two big eaters!) and schlep ourselves and our gear out there Friday night is not looking appealing. We both played hookey from the gym this morning, too, and catching up Saturday would have been good.
I know we'll enjoy the weekend when we get there; we'll be able to sleep late, hang around outside in pleasant temperate weather, maybe drive up and see Meteor Crater. It's just the preparation and lack of time to catch up that's stressing me. That seems to happen a lot when I'm worn out: I know I'll enjoy something and even get to relax if I just do it, but it seems like too much trouble to do it. Does that happen to other people too?
I also need to crank back up on training, since I'm going to race in Tahoe next month, the Rural Henley in Klamath Falls, OR and SW Regionals in Sacramento in July (those two are back to back on the same weekend, 6 hours apart) and maybe Masters Nationals in Seattle. (I'm sort of hoping things will turn out so we miss that one, but that's a long story.) Speaking of things that are tiring to contemplate....
To the rest of my Women's Quad from last weekend:
To the Bush Administration:
To assorted people who were supposed to reply to me:
To the Mexican restaurant where I bought lunch:
Now that's seriously cool. Because we had so many regatta pictures that were good enough to share, I decided to start using Flickr. I knew it was a good way to share photos and that I could make a little photo "badge" to show tiny thumbnails in a blog (like the one here, in the right column) and let people click it to see the photos in a more visible size. What I didn't know was that if you scroll to Additional Information and click on More Properties, it shows precise data about how the photo was taken: camera type, exposure, aperture, date taken, focal length, metering pattern, flash, and on and on. This seemed especially improbable because the photos went through a few programs: I downloaded to iPhoto on the Mac, exported them in the size I wanted, then used Flickr's Uploadr tool. It turns out, according to Flickr, "Almost all new digital cameras save JPEG (jpg) files with EXIF (Exchangeable Image File) data. Camera settings and scene information are recorded by the camera into the image file."
I wonder if all that is saved even if I postprocess in Photoshop? Probably. Anyway, way cool.
I've also been
goofing around honing my chartmaking skills playing with graphs from the race data. My main conclusion is that I definitely need to race Antgirl more often - she's a little more consistent and has a faster final sprint, but otherwise we're much closer than I'd have thought.
Here are my favorite pictures of us from the weekend. Me in the quad after our race:
I cropped it, lightened shadows and played with the color balance a smidge.
And Rudder with his men's doubles partner - they look so commanding because I was lying on the ground and was too lazy to get up. No post-processing at all except to scale down the image:
There were lots of good pictures, though; you can see more of them here.
The regatta weekend was fun, and now I'm sitting here wishing I was back in it instead of here at work. I'll try to combine the weekend's the stories with a chronological order.
I left work at noon. This was a bit difficult since my boss two levels up (henceforth BTLU) had put together a big meeting of people from all over the country. I was supposed to present, we were running an hour late, and though I'd discussed needing to leave with both my old and new bosses (pre and post last week's reorg) I wasn't sure if anyone had told BTLU. I finally broke it to him; he looked surprised (I found out a few minutes later that he had been told - probably wasn't listening) but we did manage to work it out so I got to do my preso. And didn't get fired for leaving. Then I snuck out, picked up Antgirl (well, she needs a nom and that's what she studies) and sandwiches, and went home, where Rudder was packing the last bits and pieces into the Hummer. We drove to Frazier Park (north of LA, just past the Grapevine), spent the night there and then drove the rest of the way to Sacramento on Friday. After unloading the boats, Rudder and I had dinner with his grandparents, who live just on the other side of town, and his parents, who came in for the weekend.
We now have cafeteria envy. His grandparents live in one of those care centers where you have an apartment of your own and then can get the increasing levels of care you need as you age (well, at least in theory - it's not working out entirely as planned for them). They have a large dining room, nicely done in an Arts & Crafts / Mission style, with very good food - not institutional-ish at all and nothing at all like any of the work or dorm cafeterias I've eaten in. We wish we had one like it, so we didn't have to cook and plan all our own meals. Why should we have to wait until retirement? Also, it was a very good pre-regatta meal - roast beef or salmon, several choices of veg, pasta, salads, desserts, and served early in the evening. I want one!
On Saturday, I had four races, and Rudder had six or so. The race seemed to be less well-attended than other years, but the level of competition was higher. (This may be because they moved it from Memorial Day weekend to earlier in May, luring fewer more casual competitors.) We didn't get a ton of medals this time around. In the quad, we won a bronze medal - and even better, we came from behind and passed another crew, so that was very satisfying. (In this race, they handicap for age by making younger crews start later - we had an 8 second handicap.) I finished not only last but DFL in both my singles races (sigh) but was felt like I was pulling strong, cleanly, and at full-out power in both. I'd have been extremely happy with my races, if not for that pesky part about being way behind the other competitors. Sigh. On the other hand, I did have a 16-second handicap, while the youngest other competitor had 7 seconds and most of the others had 0-2 seconds. These women may have been older (the oldest was 55) but they were buff! The woman starting at the zero mark - that is, the oldest one in the race - looked much more like 40 than 55 from where I was sitting, 13 meters away. Good reason to keep rowing.
I did make lightweight with no trouble - in fact, I was able to weigh in with jacket and shoes on and be just a fraction under the 130 lb cutoff, so that was good. I think I may have to lose a few of those extra pounds for real, but my weight fluctuates so much normally it's hard to tell. Also, there's a fine balance between staying properly hydrated and not having to make pit-stops every hour, so I probably was a little dehydrated all weekend.
Rudder got fewer medals than usual for him. He didn't do well in his singles race - well, there was a lot of competition, with about 10 people split into two heats, and he did make it to finals. that he was 5 of 6 in the finals, based on results in past races, tends to indicate some national-caliber competition which in fact there was. He and our other male rower did win silver medals in their men's doubles and men's quad races (The quad was with two guys from San Diego). This year, Rudder didn't race lightweight at all, and he and She-Hulk decided to race in a mixed quad rather than their usual double. I think they regretted that. He raced the 300m dash this year, and of course I did because it's my favorite race, but this year, the fast people stayed until end and neither of us did well.
Cubemate, who's only been rowing sculls (two oars rather than one) for about a month and Antgirl did fairly well in their double - 4 of 6, very good considering this was the first big Masters regatta for both of them.Antgirl also came in third in her single - her first single race except for a small local one in horrible conditions - making her the only female Outlaw to achieve "clinkage". (Our term for multiple medals.) She-Hulk didn't do well in her single, her least favorite event, but did better in her double with a rower from San Diego, finishing just a few seconds from a medal.
I think everyone had a good time. Every Outlaw went home with at least one medal, and though some of us might have wished to do a little better, we all had races that felt good, that we can be proud of. We have lots of video so we can spot our flaws, and largely thanks to Cubemate's fiancee, our Pit Crew Extraordinaire, we have lots of great still photos. I've only seen them on the camera's little screen so far, but if they look as good blown up as they did there, I'll be posting a couple here as part of my self-and-Rudder-portrait project and sharing the rest on Flickr. (I'll post a couple no matter what, and a few more on the Outlaw website but it looks like there are a lot of good ones.)
Antgirl was going on to meet her brother, who lives in the Bay Area, so it was Rudder and me on the drive home - we enjoyed her company but it was nice to have the alone time too. And then as usual it was down to the two of us unloading. We were a boat-moving machine, getting four boats and accompanying parts unloaded in the boatyard in under half an hour - also as usual, a half hour well past our usual bedtimes, so we had incentive to be efficient. We might be groggy, but we have this stuff down to a fine science.
The main thing wrong with this weekend is that now it's over. But we get to do it again at a race on Lake Tahoe in June and then in back-to-back races in Oregon and back to Sacramento in July.
Sometimes the different parts of your life can combine to bite you in odd ways. For example, if you happen to be an engineer who knits and who also rows competitively, apparently what happens is extreme overthinking of what knitting project to take with you to a regatta. I've got a strong suspicion that this is something most people don't spend a whole lot of thought on.
There are three options: the wrap I'm about a foot and a half into, the plain socks I'm making in a self-striping yarn to go with the sweater I made for Rudder, or something else entirely, possibly this sweater for me. I'll be knitting in the car, twelve hours or so each way (well, until it gets dark) and probably at the regatta itself, when I'm not racing, taking pictures, or being pit crew for someone else. Each project has its pros and cons for the trip. It would be nice to get that much more time put into the wrap, because I'd like to have it for work. While it isn't extremely complicated, I'm worried I might have to pay too much attention to it to be practical for knitting while hanging out with other people, and may have to look at it too much for car-riding. (I can look at things while in the car, but if I stare at something small too intently for too long, I start feeling a little icky. That's one reason I started knitting in the first place, because I don't like reading for long in the car.) The socks are fairly mindless knitting, except for turning the heel (which needs to happen to the first one in about another inch) but they're string-and-toothpicks eyestrain knitting, which could be a problem in the car if I do have to look at it, to turn the heel or fix a mistake. Come to think of it, I did knit socks on the way home from the marathon last fall without problem, though I don't think I turned the heels during the drive. There's no deadline on these; I don't think Rudder will be wanting wool socks anytime soon, with our temperatures getting up to 100 now. The third pattern would be both mindless and larger scale, and I have the yarn for it; the only problem with it is that I hate to start something new while I've got two projects already on the needles that are going slowly.
It's not like picking the wrong project will ruin either my trip or the knitting project. I think most (sensible) people would just grab one (or two) and go. But what fun is that?
Good grief. It's a very (re)productive time of year, apparently - I've read news of three pregnancies today - one new announcement, two progress reports. They have some other things in common: all are at the "whew! past the risky first trimester" stage, all follow miscarriages (so it's a really big whew!), all are much wanted babies, and all, blessedly, are doing well.
So yay. Babies are a good way to start people. Good parents and a lot of love are a way to start good people.
Work had a minor reorg yesterday. Could be better. Could also be worse. Could have been more thoroughly planned, too. Speaking of work, it feels kind of odd in a way that my cubemate and I be will competing in a quad together this weekend. I mean, it just seems a little strange to be taking off work at the same time and traveling (separately) to the same place for the same purpose. I've made good friends at work before, but I guess I've never vacationed with any of them - that is, if regattas count as vacations, since they tend to involve harder work than the stuff we get paid for. Assuming we can borrow a boat (still iffy, unfortunately, I think this quad may actually do reasonably well, for what it is. That is, we're a motley assorted bunch, one of whom has only just learned to scull (she's an experienced sweep rower, though) and while I've rowed with each of these women and competed in a double with one of them (She-Hulk) we've never all rowed together. We hope to rememdy that tomorrow morning. Still, there's a lot of power in the boat and it's only a 1K race. All I hope is that if any of us catch a crab or otherwise screw up, that it isn't too big an issue and that it isn't me.
Should be fun, though. The nice thing about racing in a powerful quad is that the races are over much faster than in my single. My third race is a 300 meter dash, so there's only the one 1000m race in my single that wil really hurt.
I keep forgetting to mention this - last week, I actually heard a weather forecaster say, verbatim, "Temperatures will be below average, as they typically are this time of year." Apparently meterology students are not required to take statistics.
On Saturday (before all that picture-taking) we went out to see Flugtag. It was lively, and well-attended, mostly by collegiate types (the event was at Tempe beach Park, which is pretty much ASU territory), but I was a bit disappointed actually. For one thing, it was just too hot and too crowded for me. The latter was especially a problem because I had a hard time seeing much. The announcer was the loud goofy sort trying too hard to be funny that they usually get for things like that. The biggest disappointment, though, was the flying craft. There were a few real attempts, mostly modified hang-gliders, but too many of them were just an excuse to do a skit and jump off a thirty-foot platform into a lake on a hot day, rather than any real attempt to make something fly. One we saw was made to look like the A-Team's van, with, of course, an appropriate skit. One that at least had wings was "Air Farce One", which came complete with a George Bush imiltation that actually was pretty funny no matter whether you voted for or against; that one came in second. My vote for silliest would have gone to the inflated peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich with the crew of Elivs impersonators.
A few beers would probably have made the whole thing considerably more enjoyable, but it was hot enough that I was worried about ataying hydrated, so I stuck with water and lemonade. Not enough water and lemonade, probably, as I was feeling oogy Sunday, but better than if I'd been imbibing.