June 30, 2006


Every few years, Rudder and I do Really Big Trips: Antarctica for two weeks, Australia and New Zealand for a month, New England in 17 days and 3000 miles.... Then we have the serendipitous trips that just come together, like the trip to Korea that ended up being almost free, due to a conference for Rudder, frequent flyer miles, and some family to stay with the last few days. Then we have the insane trips, like the one from Texas to Florida and back in three days to pick up a boat. These are just one of the occupational hazards of being married to Rudder.

If you draw an equilateral triangle with one of those types of trip at each point, I think this trip falls right in the middle - two states, two countries, two weeks, two distinct sets of packing. We drive to Oregon over 2 days, relax for a precious few days at Rudder's parents' place, then go race, drive immediately to California, race again, drive 12 hours home, repack, then fly to Amsterdam the next day. Poor Rudder has to go immediately to work, but I at least get the rest of that day to recuperate (though I do need to try to stay awake, to get on local time).

This trip was going to be exhausting anyway, what with two races and a 6 hour drive between them in two days, but now I will probably be gibbering on my first day back at home. (But, hopefully, happy.)

I think we have most of the logistics lined up. The catsitter (apprised of the trip's extension). The packing lists (2 sets). The gear (rowing gear, then repack with city clothes). Tthe decisions for me on what knitting and books to take (the sleeveless sweater and socks in progress, plus a hope of luring my MIL to the two yarn stores in her town, and the recent haul from Borders). The schedules (complex). At least I hope they're all lined up. Just because this trip is in two parts which will require different clothing and so on, it all seems a little more complicated than usual. But if things go well, I'll be back with a medal or two and maybe some good news.

Posted by dichroic at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2006

blogging for pay

I now have a corporate blog (visible on the Intranet only, and of course it's only for work topics). Guess it's a good thing I've gotten all this practice, huh?

Interesting item today: this Dear Abby column, the first letter. It boils down to, "My brother, to whom I am very close, is avoiding my wedding as a civil rights protest. Even though it will disrupt the most important day of my life, I agree with him and support him." The generosity of spirit bowls me over. I hope they can come to an accomodation that allows the brother to attend the wedding without compromising his principles, because a brother like that is one whose wedding you don't want to miss. (Maybe move the wedding to Canada?)

Otherwise, I'm just trying to get ready to travel. This includes all sorts of things you wouldn't normally expect, like neatening the house (so the maids and catsitter aren't disgusted) and winding yarn from skeins into balls (because the trip has two parts, and I might need to grab a knitting project in a hurry while packing for Phase II). And I can't find my nostepinne (a.k.a. stick to wind yarn around) so that latter was a bit slower than it should be even after I found a nearly-adequate substitute.

Posted by dichroic at 02:52 PM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2006

a somewhat unwelcome identification

Blearg. I feel kind of crappy - I think they snuck some caffeine in my decaf this morning. It feels like a caffeine reaction. You'd think I'd just give up on coffee entirely, but I like the taste and I don't usually have issues with decaf. (For some values of "usually", anyhow - but this could involve heterodyning between coffee and too much lunch or the Coke I had with lunch. Whatever...) This sort of thing doesn't last more than an hour or two for me, but one thing I notice is that while it does (or whenever I have any sort of queasiness or upset stomach), it dampens my sense of adventure considerably. Travel suddenly starts to look a lot less appealing and staying home in comfort looks much better.

One of the nice things about aging is that once youve figured out how your body works and how it affects your mind and emotions, you can start to allow for it in your plans, and know when a feeling a temporary and should be ignored until it goes away.

Oddly, this is one of the reasons I like the Aubrey and Maturin books; their characters are real enough that they sometimes get sick and sometimes have to visit the outhouse or the head. There's a scene in (I think) The Far Side of the World where an Admiral is entertaining Jack and several others at dinner, and has to keep ducking out ("Forgive me, apparently I ate something.") There's a hilarious scene where Jack, Stephen and Jagiello are captured in France and taken in to prison in a stagecoach - only the richness of French cream sauces forces Jack to have the driver stop the coach at every bush. (Apparently he's not considered a flight risk - perhaps the officer in charge figures he'd be stopped by the next bush.) The scene builds until the group plus the French intel officer taking them in (Duhamel, maybe?) eat some badly prepared crawfish and then, confined to the coach for an uncomfortable distance by an increasingly populous area, all but the abstemious Maturin rush into the prison upon arrival, past the admitting desk, to the (very) necessary.

It's always nice to be able to identify with the characters in a book, even if not for reasons one would wish. People in books too often have such conveniently ordered bodies: no aches or pains except when needed to advance the plot, no pit stops required on even the most desperate quest, no days when they just feel a little unaccountably off. Then again, they do tend to be prone to dramatic and fatal illnesses. I want to be a fictional character in my next life ... but only if I can get an author who will allow me a happy ending.

Posted by dichroic at 01:57 PM | Comments (1)

June 27, 2006

crying uncle

Our upcoming trip has just sprouted another tentacle, so it will be longer and even more complicated than originally planned. (I think Rudder's right. I need more yarn.) This is all a good thing, though. But I won't have internet access for chunks of it, so don't be surprised if things get quiet here after this week. If I do update, I'll use the Notify function, as usual. (I have a Notify function, if anyone cares who didn't already know - scroll down and look on the left sidebar to sign up.)

I just ended up posting a long comment in response to something Matociquala wrote. It's a bit tangential to her original point, but I think it's a point worth making on its own, so here's an expanded version.

She wrote:
I seem to recall Peter mentioning some studies to me, a while back, that tended to indicate that there was some genetic utility in homosexuality (and I don't remember what species of animal we were specifically talking about) in that the siblings of individuals that exhibited a same-sex preference tended to produce more surviving offspring.

Without getting into issues of sexuality because they're not relevant to my point, I can say that it's very useful to have a childless uncle (or aunt, I suppose) with a lifestyle different than your own, when you're growing up in an area where most people live in similar ways. I'm not sure if I knew anyone else growing up who had traveled outside the US other than for a military hitch, or who chose to live in a city other than where they were born. I don't think I knew anyone else with an advanced degree, other than doctors visited in a professional capacity. For me, my uncle was a window into another way of living.

Some physicist once wrote that two is a silly number - in the universe, things should come in zeroes, ones, or infinites. That is, there may be unique cases, but if there are two cases of something, there are almost always more. So once you know there's another way to live than the one you were brought up in, you can make the logical leap that there are still more ways to live, that you can choose for yourself where and how and with whom to shape a life. I think that's what having an uncle showed me.

Quite a lot of the people I grew up with seem to have built lives that are very similar to their parents' - maybe a little more prosperous, maybe in the suburbs rather than the city, but in the same geographic area (in a couple of cases in the same house) and within the same religious and social traditions. I'm not knocking that at all; being a fan of the examined life, I hope that their reasons for doing so are that they've thought about it and decided they like where and how they live. Even if they've never thought about it, I hope they just like where they live and have lives that suit them. That city has lots of good things to be said for it, and so does living close to the people you love.

I just don't think it would suit me. I have itchy feet. I don't regret leaving to try life in new cities, just that I've stayed in two of them for such long periods. I'd have liked to relocate every few years, but it's difficult when two jobs and all the logistics of houses and such are involved. Rudder doesn't mind moving to new places, but doesn't want to do it as often as I do. I don't regret at all falling in love with a husband from the opposite side of the country and from very different traditions. I don't regret any of the things we've done that make my mother think we're a little nuts sometimes (everything from skydiving to traveling to Antarctica to getting up at 4AM several times a week to row). I love housing a house with more space (and bathrooms!) than the one I grew up in. I might have some complaints here and there, but in the main I have a life that suits me, and it was having my uncle as an example that let me see that you could make different choices and influence your own life in a direction of your choosing. I can't claim it was an evolutionary advantage, since we also followed my uncle's example in choosing not to reproduce, but it certainly was an advantage in the evolution of my own life.

Posted by dichroic at 01:09 PM | Comments (2)

June 26, 2006


What do you know. After all these years apparently I've gotten Rudder trained. This past weekend we were discussing what we'd take for our upcoming trip to Oregona and California. For knitting, I'm taking a sock that's complete about to the ball of the foot and a top-down sweater done to about the bra-strap line. His comment was, "Remember, we have a lot of time driving, plus sitting at my parents' and at regattas. I don't think that's enough knitting."

Then we had an errand to Home Despot and I asked if he'd mind if we stopped at the Borders in the same shopping center. I picked up several books and commented that it was probably overkill; since this is a driving trip rather than a flying one I wouldn't be reading enroute. He said, "Well, you'll be reading a lot at my parents..."

I think I'll keep him.
(Don't worry, he's got me trained too. Why else would I have rowed two 1 km race pieces starting at 5AM this morning?)

Posted by dichroic at 02:06 PM | Comments (2)

June 25, 2006

excess baggage

For once I've got better pictures of Rudder than of me this weekend. And there's a reason for that. I got kicked off an airplane today, rejected as excess baggage. He was scheduled to go flying, just practicing some instrument approaches. I was going to ride along and take pictures. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to get the plane until 9AM, and by then it was already about 98 degrees. (For background, hot air is less dense, so the plane gets less lift.) The instructor was one he hadn't flown with before, and he's the biggest (heaviest) guy there. When he finally showed up after Rudder was done preflighting, he took a look at me in the back seat and said, "Uh, did you run a weight and balance?" We hadn't (ecause it's not usually a problem with only three people), so he went back inside and ran one. Sure enough, we were over gross take-off weight for the conditions. Of course, I was the lightest of us, but I was also the least necessary so I volunteered to get out, go home, and come back to pick RUdder up after the flight.

It wasn't until I turned onto our street that I remembered the instructor wasn't required for this flight. Rudder had booked him because he wasn't sure if I was going to ride along, and because I'm aadmittedly a little rusty. But we could have sent the instructor off, just used me a safety pilot, and saved some money. I'm not technically current, though (despite all of last years' flying, I never got my biannual because I thought I'd get the IFR rating and thus wouldn't need to) so we'd have had to ask if that's legal. So maybe we did need him.

Anyway, here are my favorite shots of Rudder with the airplane:

And here's what I did instead:

(Tech notes: These are all as taken, no Photoshopping. They were taken with the haze filter we always keep on the camera to protect the lens, and with the UV fllter we'd put on at Tahoe because we were taking pictures in the middle of the day and didn't want that flat midday light. The UV filter probably helped with the outside pictures, but I'm surprised at how well it worked with the indoor picture. That's without a flash, and with the nearby window shaded; it was a longish exposure and I just tried to sit very still. In contrast, another shot taken with flash was dark and flat and cool in lighting.)

Posted by dichroic at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2006

well, now that I've alienated everyone...

Someone I went to school with, all the way from 1st through 12th grades, found this site the other day and emailed me. (Among his words were "I must admit I did skip several thousand entries. You certainly do not seem to be at a loss for words." Well, yeah. I pointed out that the nice thing about blogs is that people can choose to read or not wothout anyone's feelings. Anyway, 2000 entiries is a somewhat more likely number when you think of it spread ovre five years and a bit.) Anyway, I remember him well and I remember his being a decent sort of guy, so I was happy to hear from him. Even better, he's still in touch with a couple of people with whom I was good friends back in the day, and with another one I didn't know well but who lives out here, just on the other side of town, so I've emailed some of them and heard back from one.

And then of course just while I'm writing to them, "Oh, A-- found me and gave me your address, hope you rmember me, and if you want pictures or to know what I'm up to, you can look at the blog, " right then I had to go post first the jewelry barter/sale policy and then the exercise stats along with photos no one really wants to see, that are just for my own reference. Oops.

(Also, my mother seems to have come across this page while looking at our regatta report and photos. I have no idea how that would happen.)

So I just want to say, if you're new here, that those are not what I usually write about. Usually this space is about reading and rowing and writing and ranting and working and travl and making stuff. It's a bit me-centric, but that's generally what blogs do. I hope you'll enjoy what you read, but if not, feel free to ignore it and I won't mind a bit.

Posted by dichroic at 07:31 PM | Comments (2)

fitness- actual progress, what do you know

Numbers and pics below the cut, not of general interest, go away.

1" below shoulders: 39.5
Upper arms, flexed: 11", both sides
Waist: 28.0" - YAY!!!
Hips: 36.0"
Upper thigh, flexed: 21", both sides (it's hard to know where to measure to be consistent!)
Middle of calf, flexed: 14.25", both sides
So actual progress this month, yay again!

May 27
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"

April 8:
1" below shoulders: 40.5
Upper arms, flexed: 11.5"
Waist: 28.5"
Hips: 36.5" (that counts as progress, at least)
Upper thigh, flexed: 21.5"
Middle of calf, flexed: 14.5"
Just for perspective, I need to say again that I'm only 5'2".

It actually does look like there's been some progress - in order, these photos are from May 2005, April 2006, and today:
When I put that bikini on today, I noticed that it's a size XL. That means I bought it in the girl's section. (Why Abercrombie was marketing string bikinis to people who are meant to be shopping in that size range, I don't want to think about.)

Posted by dichroic at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2006

time for a weekend

I just sent out a newsletter to pretty much The Known World (at least, the Corporate Version thereof) - I do hope there were no typos. Or at least no embarassing ones.

This should be a nice relaxing weekend; I'm looking forward to it because after this things get a little hectic. We have the driving trip to Oregon and California complete with two races and at least a couple of business trips between us. This weekend will mostly feature paying bills, shopping for food to take for the drive, and figuring out what all to pack.

The food part is less trivial than it sounds. We'll be driving for 2 days straight to get to Oregon so we need to figure if we're going to bring lunches or buy them on the way. I'm not much for breakfasts first thing in the morning so that will be fruit or Luna bars. I tend to eat more or less constantly instead of eating a lot at each meal (I feel a lot better that way) but on the other hand we both need to make weight for the Regionals regatta so snacks will be fruit and nuts and plain (not flavored) pretzels. We'll also need food for the races, but we'll probably just bring bars and Gu and then buy from more fruit and lunch materials closer to raceday. With as much driving as we have, I need to remember to bring not only my knitting, but things like the completed sock so I can make the second one I'm knitting match in size, or a long cable for my circular needle and so I can try my sweater on as it progresses and figure out any increases or decreases I need to make. (With four days of driving, plus sitting around regattas between races and hanging out in hotels, maybe I'll be finished, or nearly, with both projects by the time we get back.

And what do you know, I'm out of things to say. Must be time for a weekend.

Posted by dichroic at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2006

New not-exactly-a-business policy

There were a couple of comments on my latest necklace asking whether the jewelry I make is for sale. I've been thinking about it, and also put in a call to my brother to find out the relevant tax rules. I don't really want to make a business of it right now, though it sounds like at least the tax part wouldn't be difficult. Possibly in the future, if I have more time and better skills. On the other hand I also have more handmade jewelery than I can wear, I enjoy making more, and I need to keep making more if I want to build skills. So, here is what I've decided. If you see something posted here that you'd want, or if you have an idea for something you'd like me to make you, comment or email me and we can talk about terms. I'm posting this now so I can refer back to it, in case of any future questions. Some parameters:

  1. Barter is fine. If you make or have something you think I'd like to trade, ask me about it. If it's writing, like a story or poem, I just get a copy to read. You retain copyright. If it's a material item (say, you have an extra copy of a book I'd like) we each pay our own shipping.
  2. If you'd rather just pay cash, I can accept Paypal. For something like simple earrings, pendants, necklaces or bookmarks that take me little time to make, I'll just ask for the cost of materials and shipping. For more complicated pieces that take a long time to make, I'll add a small charge for labor.
  3. For landscape photos, you pay the cost to enlarge and print whatever size you specify, plus shipping. Rudder and I retain copyright to the image.
  4. I reserve the right to just give things away when I want to. (Dr. Bosun doesn't know it yet, but she's getting a rowing necklace for her birthday in a couple of weeks.) I also reserve the right to keep anything. If I'm being really diligent, I'll note when I post a picture if something's spoken for or if I mean to keep it.
  5. None of the above applies to knitting except the giving away part. It just takes too long and materials cost too much to ever be anything but a hobby. If I ever give you a hand-knitted item, you can safely assume it's made with as much love as yarn.
  6. All of the above applies until I say it doesn't any more. If and when I do change these policies, I will try to remember to edit this entry, but no guarantees.
  7. I've added a link in the sidebar to this entry, under Jewelry Making.

Posted by dichroic at 11:33 AM | Comments (2)

June 21, 2006

look what I made!

I've been working on this in dribs and drabs for some time - last night I realized it was nearly long enough so I added on a couple more beads and the clasp and called it done. For those of you following Elise's sale last week or who have seen her work before, some of the inspiration may be obvious. Not that I'm comparing this piece with any of hers. But this is my first real foray into wirebending, beyond the little bit of wrapping I do on pendants and earrings, so it's a learning piece for me. I like its asymmetry. It's comfortable to wear, too; I seem to have done an OK job in getting it to lie flat, and in tucking in all the ends, and it doesn't weigh enough to notice.

I think what I need now is a wire jig, or maybe I can improvise one. I would love to be able to curve wire as beautifully as Kythryne - looking at my wirework and hers, I'm certain a jig isn't the only difference, but it would help.

Thanks to a doctor's appointment this morning, I'm telecommuting today. Working from home, "multitasking" takes on different and far more interesting meanings (including those photos above), and I still get more work done.

Posted by dichroic at 12:16 PM | Comments (3)

June 20, 2006

the maid speaks

I'm just generally disgruntled these days. I've got that feeling that things are coming to an end, that it's time for a change and to start something new, but I don't really know what yet. (At least, I don't know which of a few possibilities. Reisefieber, I guess. What I'd really like to do it jst to retire, quit working, but given that all the things I'd like to do after that require money, I don't think that's happening anytime these next few decades.

That reminds me of something I read not long ago. It was in a book a hundred or so years old, and the narrator commented that she was always hearing young women wishing they were men, so they couold go do the work of the world. Her comment was that it was funny how often those were the most incompetent fluttery sorts, the ones least able to actually support themselves, who ought to be most grateful to have been born in a sphere in which they'd be taken care of all their lives.

It's a nice thought on my more strenuous days, that I could have been a Victorian lady on her pedestal with nothing more to do than pick flowers and twirl my parasol, or a 1920s matron, sent to a resort with my nanny and children for the summer while my husband worked in the city and came up on weekends. (In my more common-sensible moments, of course, I realize how I'd hate either fancy cage.) But also it was those women, or the corresponding upper class men who wrote all those books in which the women had those lovely leisurely lives. My ancestors were all too busy working.

Even in Jane Austen's time, when the women of the house were expected to know how to keep house (unlike their descendents who believed the more useless, the more upper-class), I suspect farmwives and servants far outnumbered the women who had time to spare. It might be interesting to read Jane Austen rewritten from the servants' point of view. Or maybe not:

"Scrubbed the floors again today. I might not have to do it every third day if the young ladies could be bothered to wipe their feet. The master and mistress had a screaming argument; why do they think none of use can hear when they're shouting at the tops of their lungs?"

"Laundry day, ugh. My hands are still bleeding. I think Miss Fanny has a suitor. Good. If he marries her that will be one less set of petticoats to starch."

"Ironed yesterday's laundry all day. We barely rescued the linens from the line before the storm set in, but at least I got to stay indoors after that. Miss Fanny crying, quarrelled with the suitor. Yesterday I had to threaten to call the mistress when he tried to kiss me over the laundry tub, so she's well rid of him. But of course I can't tell her that."

"Scrubbed the floors again. The housekeeper says that the young master has been sent down. One more gentleman to fight off. I'd leave here but where would I go?"

Posted by dichroic at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2006

Tahoe portraits

Here are a few portraits from the weekend. I haven't Photoshopped these at all, though I probably should have tried to lighten some shadows. You can see a lot more of our race photos here at Flickr.




Posted by dichroic at 08:33 PM | Comments (4)

North Tahoe Rowing Regatta

This entry is long, so in case you're in a hurry:
Regatta report, short version, just to spoil the surprise:
Old Salt and Dr. Bosun won - they were the mixed double on the short course, but they set a course record.
I won(!!!) - first of three in the Women's Maas Aeros on the short course.
Rudder came in fourth, out of a very competitive field of about 13, in the Maas 24 in the long course.

Long discursive version:
Lake Tahoe is a gorgeous, gorgeous place to row. For once, Rudder and I didn't have to drive; Old Salt, his wife the Artist, and Dr. Bosun not only drove the van, not only loaded it without our help (of course we offered, but they said they didn't need us) but actually loaned us the boats. Rudder rowed Old Salt's Maas 24 and I rowed his Maas Aero. Old Salt and Dr. Bosun rowed the double. Rudder and I got in to our hotel at King's Beach late Thursday night; looking out the window, I saw our room faced the hotel parking lot. It wasn't until the next morning I saw that what we actually had was a view of that beautiful lake. We met the other two there to get our boats off the van and went out for a morning row to get used to the boats. I had only rowed the Aero once before, in about 1999, but it's a really nice boat to row, friendly and eager to please, as long as you're not in a hurry. It's made for open water rowing, so is more stable and less speedy than flatwater boats like my Hudson single. We just did a short row that morning, out to the point that was the first turning point for the short course I'd be racing.
After that, we went to the coffeeshop next door to pick up breakfast. While there, a book jumped into my arms and said, "Can I come home with you? Pleeease?" I own and like a bunch of Will Shetterly's books, but had been a little reluctant to try Dogland because it's different from the others - not fantasy, mostly. But there it was in a large-format softcover with a $1 tag on it, sitting under a sign that said something about a book swap. I think the cashier was a little startled when I wanted to pay for it, but I only had two other books with me and I didn't want to leave either in its place. As it turns out, though, if I had bought a copy for full price it would have been well worth it.

Rudder and I were supposed to meet up with the others at their campsite for dinner, so we decided to spend the afternoon being tourists. We drove all the way around the lake, stopping at the scenic points to clamber over rocks and take photos. Lots of photos - I'll post the best to Flickr, once I've downloaded them. We finished at the campsite near Tahoe City, where Dr. Bosun cooked up a big spaghetti dinner for all of us (now including two of the Old Salt's and the Artist's grown children and the girlfriend of one). By the time none of us could eat any more and the Old Salt was trying to alienate nearby campers by playing us David Allen Coe songs on the van's stereo, it was time for us to head back to the hotel and get some sleep.

Race day had weather just as perfect as the day before (and the day after). It was extremely convenient having the race staged out of our hotel; the boats were stored on and launched from the beack about two minutes' walk from our room, so we could even go back and use the bathroom after the race meeting. They launched the racers ont he long course first, in several waves: first the doubles, then the men's faster Maas 24s (Rudder's race), the Men's Aeros, then all the women. Next they launched the short course: first the double (Old Salt and Dr. Bosun) and the flatwater racing shells, then all the women (including me) then all the men. The race categories were by boat design, so while all the women launched together, I was only competing against those in Aero like mine.

One woman shot ahead from the beginning; I knew she was in a 24. Another was a little ahead but pulled away from the rest of us slowly; I hoped she was in one also. Another dropped behind the rest of us and the remaining woman and I stayed close all the way down the course. The first buoy was visible from the starting point, so the first leg was easier to steer, though my turn wasn't as good as it could have been. I couldn't see the next buoy from the first turn at all, and it was out in the middle of the lake, not near any any landmark I could sight on. This being open water racing, I had both a compass and a GPS, but the latter didn't work at all - it neverswitched from the starting waypoint to the first turn, let alone any later turns. The compass was only semi-useful; it's a hiking one, where you're supposed to turn the bezel to match the needle's north, which of course I couldn't do while rowing. The compass was taped to the boat, so of course the bezel turned when I did. It was a little bit of help, because I could at least estimate where my course was, for instance by knowing that an 89-degree course would be roughly at right angles to the needle. That's not precise enough to help in a race, so most I steered by watching other people until I was finally close enough to spot the buoy. That would have worked better if I'd known which other racers knew where they were going. I was a bit faster than the woman close to me, but she steered a better course, so she'd pull up to me than I'd catch up once I sighted the course. (At the time, though, I had no way of knowing if she was on or off course.) I finished only three seconds ahead of her, still not sure if she was in my category.

Since the long course took much longer to row, and since my boat was so stable, I decided to risk the camera. I paddled into shore, and got it from the Old Salt's daughter, who had most intelligently figured out which backpack was ours, gotten the camera out figured out our camera, and taken pictures of the double and of me coming into shore. (All of which I'd have asked her to do, but she wasn't there yet when we launched for the race.) I slung it over my neck and shoulder and rowed back out to the finish to take pictures of Rudder finishing.

After the race there was a wonderful lunch for the competitors and spectators. Once we were all too full to eat any more (which takes some doing for rowers right after a race) they announced the winners. They gave out water bottles instead of medals. (I'd have liked a medal - it's hard to hang a bottle on your wall.) For each event, they gave out awards to both the winner in raw time and to the winner after adjusting the time for age handicaps. Rudder was fourth in his race, but his was very competitive. Most of the people who beat him were ones he knew, some of the fastest rowers from along the California coast whom he's always pitted against at our bigger regattas. Old Salt and Dr. Bosun won, of course, being the only boat in their event, but they also set a record for the course. My jaw dropped when I was told I'd set the initial course record for my category, mostly in surprise - I knew that others had raced in that category in the past, so couldn't figure out why there wasn't an existing record for me to break or (more likely) not. It also puzzled me that I'd won with a time 13 full minutes slower than Dr. Bosun's winning time fromt he previous year. She'd been in a faster boat, but not that much faster - 13 minutes over 7000 meters is a whole lot. I won my race, but the woman I'd finished just ahead of won with the handicaps, so we both got bottles. What made me even happier was that I'd beat most of the men in the Aeros, along with a couple of people, both male and female, in the faster boats.

For the rest of the day, Rudder and I stayed in the room and did our best impressions of vegetation. Eventually we went out, had some excellent pizza two doors down from the hotel (this really was the most convenient set-up), then walked along the beach and watched hang gliders land. Coming back to the hotel we went and looked again at the race times, now posted, and found they'd been corrected. Apparently they'd used the same start time for all waves to launch on the short course. It didn't affect the results of each race, but all of our times were significantly faster. So that made it more sensible; I did still beat a couple of the men in the Aeros and even one guy in the faster boat, but not more than half of them. I pointed out to the organizer that, since the results from last year she'd posted for comparison did include someone in my category who had rowed the race faster, so I really didn't set a record. Apparently she'd just missed it, not surprising in the flurry of race planning. She also commented that the buoys might not have been placed quite correctly this year, so between that and the six minutes that the adjustment shaved off my time, it was all a lot more reasonable compared to last year's times. And of course, I still won my race!

The Old Salt kindly left the boats by the hotel for an extra day so that Rudder and I could take one more row on Tahoe on Sunday morning. We joined a whole flotilla of rowers setting out and went past the point where my race course had turned, over into Crystal Bay. We were going to row to a beach we'd spotted (possibly Sand Harbor, not sure), but that bay is deceptively large, and by the time we were finally starting to get somewhere close to the beach, my hands and bladder were all saying maybe it was time to turn around. (Also, when you're rowing across the middle of a bay, the scenery doesn't change the way it does when you're closer to shore and rowing around a point.) When we got back to shore, we found the Old Salt and Dr. Bosun had stopped by. (This is getting annoying. One of these days I may just give up and use first names.) We were very glad to see them, because the original plan had been for them to come by in the afternoon, after we'd left, and load up. This way we got to help.

After eating and showering, we had to check out of the hotel, but we still had an hour or so to kill. We used it up walking around Truckee's small but nice old downtown area, which provided the final surreal moment of the trip when I spotted the sign for Jimmy Bean Wool. I hadn't even known they had a brick-and-mortar store, but they have a big web store and are often one of the first to come up when I search online for a yarn. Apparently they have two stores; the other is in Reno. Of course, we went in. I restricted myself to a couple of skeins of sock yarn, because I had to be able to fit anything I'd bought in my backpack. We also visited a few galleries and an old-fashioned soda fountain who'd apparently never heard of chocolate soda before (at least, not without ice cream). The excursion used up just about the amount of time we needed to use before heading off to the airport, the trip back was smooth and we got home early enough to go out for Cajun food and get to bed almost on time. (It would have been in plenty of time if somebody hadn't refused to take the standard post-race day off from rowing practice this morning. Husbands. Humph.)

So yeah, beautiful place, good company, well-organized regatta, time to sightsee. Good weekend. And did I mention I won?????

Posted by dichroic at 03:19 PM | Comments (5)

June 15, 2006

race prep

I had better not be coming down with a cold, considering we leave tonight for Tahoe and I'm racing Saturday. It's nothing real yet, just an odd feeling in back of my nose. I'm trying to convince myself this probably has more to do with allergies, sinuses, and a front coming in. It's probably even true.

(Just deleted two more paragraphs discussing the topic. I don't even want to think about it.) What I want to think about instead is leaving early. Is not coming to work tomorrow. Is hanging out and getting to row on Lake Tahoe, which is just beautiful. Is playing with wavelets in a boat made for dealing with water a little rougher, trying to get a perfect stroke nonetheless so my boat feels like it's flying and I accelerate without having to really slog to get it moving. I want to think about blue skies over blue water and white boats, of cold mornings where I start off bundled in fleece and peel off as the day warms to a comfortable temperature, of breathing clean air and stretching out and making my muscles work.

I feel better already. See you after the race.

Posted by dichroic at 01:12 PM | Comments (2)

June 14, 2006

brain blinks

I had an idea the other day that wanted to be a book - a fiction one even. It poked me so hard I actually got out of bed to write it down. THen when I started poking back at it, it sort of unraveled and decided maybe it wasn't all that excited about the idea after all. I still think it would be an OK fluffy read though. (Feel free to steal it - after all, if someone else writes it they'd end up with a totally different story anyhow.) My thought was, there are the Harlequin-type romance novels, with their standardized plots. Then there are the chick-lit books with similar story arc but with heroines who have somewhat more realistic concerns and actual life problems. Still, all Bridget Jones or Becky the Shopaholic have at the end of the story is a man, maybe a few lost pounds or a better job and some really good shoes. My idea was that the fluffy heroine would get involved in something almost by accident, develop a passion for it, and really achieve something in the end. And she'd get her man. Or maybe her woman, because why limit the choices? Of course if I wrote the story she'd learn to row and win some important regatta (and the woman in the sequel would learn to fly and compete in aerobatics) but there's no reason she couldn't campaign for office or build a house or roll across the country in her wheelchair to raise money to research spinal injuries. And still get the Romantic Partner and live happily ever after. The story might still be formulaic but the heroine would actually accomplish something. In other words, it would be Betty Cavanna for grown-ups. I think there's a need there.

(Come to think of it, I like the wheelchair version almost more than the original, especially the part where she gets the guy. I actually know a guy who did hand-cycle across the US, so the research wouldn't even be too hard. please don't tell me to write the book though - I don't seem to have that need to write that real fiction authors do so I conclude I'm not one. On extremely rare occasions an idea absolutely clobbers me - but even then, it's never novel-length.)

How odd. I will not be buying any of the cat pendants at Elise's sale, I realized, because they're not my kind of cats. I didn't even realized I had an ur-cat in mind, but apparently I do, and it's darker, thinner, more fey and with a more baleful eye than these. Something like my first cat, in other words. (I did get other stuff form the sale. I'm not made of stone, you know.)


An acquaintance of mine is a bit upset at not getting a job she wanted. I'd offer sympathy, but the thing is, I don't think she'd actually be all that good at said job; in fact I think she could do some damage to other people, and I have a no-lying personal policy. I'm not sure what to say in offering sympathy in that circumstance . Fortunately, it's not a close enough acquaintance that I'm required to say anything. So I haven't. (Also, I'm not really in a position to judge and it's quite possible I'm entirely wrong and that she'd shine in that role.)


There's a news headline up right now, "Family praises Marine in Haditha probe". That would be about the man who is a "key figure in the US Military investigation of the alleged killing of 24 Iraqis, including 11 women and children, in Haditha last November". I was curious so I clicked on the article. Apparently it's his *own* family who's praising him. Why is this news? I mean, if an Iraqi family had come forward and said, "We know this man, he was stationed in our village, he did so much good for us that we don't believe he was part of this," that would be news. But when his own wife and sister think well of him, it's not exactly time to hold the presses.

My mommy and my husband think I'm pretty nice too. Can I be in the news next?

Posted by dichroic at 01:35 PM | Comments (4)

June 13, 2006

three has to be a roadrunner joke in here someplace...

Today at lunch I bought an anvil.

It just makes me happy to say that. Oh sure, some people might call it a bench block, but if you look at it, it's a perfect miniature anvil and it serves the purpose of one. It's just a couple inches long, and for some stupid reason it's covered with shiny chrome. But it is in fact a real anvil, and I bought it for function, not for its cuteness. I got it because I've been experimenting with making my own earwires, so I don't have to buy them. The ones I'm making are like this, but since I'm making them out of plain wire, when I take them off and put them down, the silver balls tend to roll right off. The anvil is so that I can pound the front part of the wires flat, to keep the balls in shape and make the wires more rigid. I'm hoping the small brass toolmakers' hammer I made in a shop class will work for that, but I'm not sure whether brass is harder than silver. I'm looking forward to testing it out and to getting that pristine chrome all scratched up. It's not actually all that much cheaper to make my own wires (maybe $.50 for the wire and silver balls vs. $1 for a pair of commercially made wires) but it's nice not to have to worry about running out. Also, now if I want to, say, pound a wire spiral flat I can.

I did think it was a bit strange when the woman at the bead store told me she'd bought a tiny anvil too, as soon at the shop got them in - "I don't know if I'll ever use it, but I love all kinds of miniature things and it was just so cute!" Cue Dichroic stepping s-l-o-w-l-y away from the counter.

I also bought a few findings including a clasp for a leather necklace. I've concluded that one soltuion tomaking more jewelry than I can wear is to give or barter some of it away. A few years back I bought a 3" long flat African bead at the local RenFaire, put it on a thing, put it away, and never wore it again. When I thought about it in this new light, it was clear that it's just not my style - but I know whose it might be. So I'll gussy it up with a clasp and maybe a little additional silver and see how it looks then.

Posted by dichroic at 04:06 PM | Comments (2)

June 12, 2006

feeling shafted

As weekends go, this one went all right, but it definitely had a couple of down spots. When we got married, Rudder said he wanted a ring with diamonds, since he didn't get an engagement ring. (My wedding ring is plain gold because I wanted one in the Jewish tradition, but my engagement ring does have diamonds, and is so pretty I still get occasional comments on it.) The one we got him has 5 small stones set in a horizontal row. When we lived in Houston, he hardly ever wore his ring because he worked with a lot of chemical and with electricity - gold conducts extremely well. When we moved here, he began wearing it all the time, because his job didn't entail electrical or chemical hazards. He keeps it on all the time, even at the gym or in the boat (I take mine off to sleep (the diamond on the engagement ring kind of sticks out) and to row, erg and lift because it hurts me to keep them on). As a result his ring has gotten scratched and a little beat up, and two of the stones are now missing.

Our anniversary is July 4, so as a gift I decided to get the missing stones replaced. I went to a jeweler recommended by a recently-engaged friend, but the price to do the work was a bit more than I expected. So I decided to shop around a bit; I went next to a store where we'd bought stuff before, which is part of a big chain. They quoted me $50 less, but before taking the ring, had to check that the diamonds were real, presumably so I couldn't claim they'd stolen and replaced them. As it turns out, they weren't. (If you wondered why I kept saying "stones" instead of diamonds above, now you know.)

That was a bit of a shock, thirteen years down the road. We'd bought the ring from a small custom store in Houston, where we'd also gotten mine. The jeweler there was a joy to work with and I hate to think she defrauded us. I don't think this ring has ever been left in a shop to be worked on, though. The other possibilities are that she didn't know (seems unlikely) or that she told us and we missed it (ditto, though she did have a heavy accent). We do know that mine is real, because it has been in the shop having the center stone replaced when it fell out, and I think they'd have noticed them then.

The store used a probe to test them and also looked under a loupe. Tthe stones were fairly scratched up; cubic zirconia is apparently much softer than diamond. I asked if they could just leave the CZs in place for now and just replace the missing ones with diamonds, but the jewelry store refused to work on them at all, due to a silly rigid corporate policy. I believed them about the CZs, but figured I should doublecheck anyway so I went to another, much ritzier jewelry store in the same shopping center. (I must be getting old. I wasn't wearing a bit of jewelry and no fancy clothes but all three stores treated me extremely well.) The jewelers at this fancy store confirmed the diagnosis, this time handing me a loupe so I could see the scratches for myself. They agreed to work on it, though; I decided to replace the missing CZs with diamonds and leave the others alone. Sometime when I'm at a loss for a gift idea, maybe I'll replace the other three.

Also, after I explained that my philosophy is not to get a better quality diamond than can be seen, they quoted me the same price as the big chain store. The stones in this ring are small and are channel-set in yellow gold, so there's very little point in getting a perfect white diamond. I like that I had a choice, and will be going back to this place again.

The only good part of it is, since Mer has said she doesn't mind my stealing her idea, while the ring is in the shop, I've asked the jeweler to see if they could engrave "Well worth the hassle" inside it. I need to come up with another shorter phrase in case that's too long; so far the best I have is "Even worth 4AM", the early wakings being my most common complaint.

The other bad thing that happened was that I got dumped again for this weekend's race in the double. She-Hulk, who has just been back to her hometown for two weeks, told me that a friend's husband there was dying and that if he did, she'd be flying back to the funeral even if it was race day, so I shouldn't depend on her and might want to row Old Salt's open water single (a Maas Aero) instead. I am not being properly sympathetic. In fact, I'm downright annoyed. She didn't tell me until late Saturday and then only because I'd called her about some other thing. (By then we'd had dinner and a whole bottle of wine so I decided not to think of it until the next day. We and she were supposed to meet the Old Salt, to give him the rack he'd need to carry a double, and she wouldn't have told me until then. Problem was, as I realized around 5:30 AM Sunday, I didn't know what time Old Salt was leaving for the boatyard, didn't want to wake his wife and didn't know if he'd have loaded his boats the night before. (He cartops his boat to the lake every time he rows, instead of storing it there.) So basically she told me too late for me to actually get to row the boat before we get to Tahoe. I will get to row it Friday, before Saturday's race, but if I hate it then, it's a bit late to do anything about it. I have rowed this boat once before, and liked it - but that was summer of 1999. Not only have I not rowed this particular boat, I haven't rowed a recreational or open water single for years and years.

So while I know that life happens and that some things come before rowing and that I should honor She-Hulk for wanting to be there for her friend, mostly I'm just feeling a little shafted right now. No oar-related puns intended. At least when Dr. Bosun asked if I'd mind if she rowed with the Old Salt instead she gave me plenty of time to get used to the alternative.

Posted by dichroic at 12:59 PM | Comments (4)

June 11, 2006

Sunday photos

The skirt made me do it...

Besides stitching the photos together, I heightened contrast, lightened a few shadows, and motion-blurred my skirt.

To date, I've been happier with the pictures of me than those of Rudder - he photographs well enough, probably better than I do, but I feel like a lot of them really aren't capturing anything about him. I think that may be because he's such an active person and some of the shots are so still. So this one is called A Boy and His Car, next week I'll get him racing again at Tahoe, and the week after I'll try for a photo with airplane.

No Photoshopping at all here!

Oh, and while I'm naming things, yesterday's earrings are Un-Lonely Planets.

Posted by dichroic at 02:32 PM | Comments (2)

June 09, 2006

yet more earrings

Because what do you do with a pair of beads that look like Planet Earth?


Give them moons, of course.

Posted by dichroic at 09:07 PM | Comments (6)

racing on a dog-day, and some doggerel

This morning was a 5K race piece - plus of course extra distance to warm up and cool down. I can't say I was pleased with my speed, but I do feel like I'm back in proper racing form, ready for all the summer regattas. (If only it were a little faster racing form!) This heat really has me tired after a practice, though actually I'm not as drained today as yesterday. And tomorrow I get to sleep late!

While hosing off my boat after the row, I stepped on a rusty nail that went right through my rubber sandal, point up. Luckily it was near enough to my toes, blunt enough, and poked through slowly enough that I could just kind of feel a sharp thing where there shouldn't be one and shift my foot back out of my shoe, instead of impaling myself. It did scratch the bottom of my foot, but didn't break the skin. I called the doctor and they said just to keep it clean and dry (how do you keep a foot dry in 110-degree weather?) and go to Urgent Care if it puffs up. Unfortunately they couldn't find a tetanus shot on record.

Over on my piffle discussion list, partly to spur my own creativity, partly to channel some of the doggerel that keeps popping up on the list lately, and partly because I wanted to be entertained, I proposed a virtual contest: reframe a story you love in the style of a poet of your choice, and let people guess both story and poet. It's been kind of fun to watch the results. Of course people have taken it in all sorts of directions, not always in line with my original proposal, but that's part of the fun. Since that's where I've been channeling my creativity (such as it is today, here are the two pieces I've posted.

Both the story and the poet parodied in this one should be very easy to guess. The only creativity required was to see how well the two go together, then it just rolled out from there, with me stealing shamelessly from the original poem:

Whenever Peter Wimsey went to Town We people on the pavement looked at him. We was a gentleman from sole to crown, Clean-favored and imperially slim.

And he was always tastefully arrayed
And he was always piffling when he talked,
Yet still he made some nervous when he strayed
Too close - after murderers he stalked.

And he was rich - yes, and he was a lord,
And Bunter saw to every little taste
How many times, on reading them we swore
How happy we should be, if in his place.

So on we read and waited for the train
And scrubbed our floors and paid our bills and all
And Peter Wimsey, one fine summer day ....
Went to Oxford and married Harriet Vane and lived happily ever after, thank goodness!

(I really was thinking of the whole series, not a particular book.)

The poem parodied in this one should be easy to guess, since I've been able to use entire unchanged lines from the original and it's not exactly obscure. The story summarized may be a little trickier, but it's a favorite of mine and one I've recommended any number of times. The biggest clue is in the first line.

Scarred by the Chartists's downfall years before, He disappears, seems dead, then speaks once more, With too much knowledge to be left to bide, With too much passion, memory and pride He hangs between, in doubt to act or rest In doubt to deem himself of the oppressed In doubt his cause or safety to prefer In fear for those he'd doom, if he should err.

She starts in ignorance, her reason such
That 'twill not find too little, but too much
Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd;
She finds in him, abus'd or disabus'd;
Joined, now they can rise, though yet they fall;
Though understanding much, yet prey to all,
On one throw risk'd, in they wait in terror hurl'd;
Then cleansed and saved, to glory in the world.
Scarred by the Chartists's downfall years before,
He disappears, seems dead, then speaks once more,
With too much knowledge to be left to bide,
With too much passion, memory and pride
He hangs between, in doubt to act or rest
In doubt to deem himself of the oppressed
In doubt his cause or safety to prefer
In fear for those he'd doom, if he should err.

She starts in ignorance, her reason such
That 'twill not find too little, but too much
Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd;
She finds in him, abus'd or disabus'd;
Joined, now they can rise, though yet they fall;
Though understanding much, yet prey to all,
On one throw risk'd, in they wait in terror hurl'd;
Then cleansed and saved, to glory in the world.

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

June 08, 2006

mishpocheh values

This is important: the leadership of the The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism has issued a statement on the proposed Marriage Amendment. This is the faith in which I was raised. Despite the term "family values" having been a euphemism for "intolerance" for some time now, it so happens that the views of all of my immediate family (parents, brother, uncle, grandparents) with whom I've spoken on politics and religion pretty well correspond to this statement.

In other words, these are my family values:

"The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism views the application of equality as a standard which cannot be eroded by any other determinant, race, religion or history. Our Faith Members are not unfamiliar with discrimination and worse.....we will reject it, however garbed and rationalized, will fight for equality and will be determined in our stance by genuine equality, .neither discrimination per se nor discrimination garbed in the dress of double standards."

I've only copied the first paragraph here; go to the link above to see the rest. I recognize that a good chunk of it translates to "Quit poaching on our turf!" and that saying that the government has no business restricting marriage among consenting adult citizens is not the same as saying that this branch of Judaism supports this particular flavor of marriage. Nonetheless, I'm very pleased that they agree with me that being Jewish requires us to commit to rejecting discrimination and fighting for equality for all people.

Posted by dichroic at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

extremely mixed double

Rudder and I rowed together in the double this morning, not a usual thing. The plan four July 4th week is to spend a few days with his family, race on Saturday in the Rural Henley, a small race at Klamath Falls, OR, drive to Sacramento (6 hours) immediately after the race, where we'll meet a bunch of other Outlaw rowers, then race there on Sunday and drive home on Monday. Since it will be just the two of us and a small race, we plan to race a double together. We've never raced a small boat together and in fact today was only about our third time in a double together. (We have raced in the same boat often, but usually with me coxing and him rowing in an eight. Not at all the same.) It went very well, I think better than either of us expected. It helps that we've worked with the same coaches and have critiqued each other and row in the same style. We were actually pretty fast, certainly faster than I'd have expected. Today's planned workout was to do three laps of our lake, including warm up, 4 ten-minute pieces each consisting of 4 min at a rate of 28, 3 min at 30, 2 at 32, 1 at 34 and a cooldown. Rudder went a little easy on me, at least; we did the first piece at rates from 22 to 28, the second from 24-30, and the third and fourth from 26-32. For the two of us, rowing at 34 strokes per minute is clearly a little silly - that is, we could do it but on the recovery we'd be hauling ourselves up the slides instead of letting the boat move under us. It was good though, smooth and coordinated and with only minor issues. We did well at correcting any problems. It was much better than a usual third row with a new partner, but I suppose you could say we've been working on matching our rhythm for a long time now.

I'm tired still. (Though not as tired as I'll be after two back to back races and all that driving!)

In other news, in the sweater I'm knitting, I've gotten as far along as I was on Sunday when I had to frog the whole thing. (Sort of a standard knitting joke; frog because rip-it, rip-it.) This time I am sure i's not twisted. (Of course, I was pretty sure last time too. Still not sure how that happened.) Also, I have a bunch of tiny jasper stars, one larger jasper star, one moon bead made of some kind of black sonte (maybe a different sort of jasper) and a shard of jasper that reminds me of a comet that want to be something together. Problem is, I'm not sure whether they want to be earrings, a necklace, or maybe even a barrette, and then what shape they want to be in. (I think the little stars want to dangle, though.) I may just wait a bit and see what other night-sky beads I come across (if I wait for November I'll have a meteorite bead!) and what ideas flutter by.

Posted by dichroic at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2006


Around 4PM I predicted to the Cubemate (who hasn't been here long) that we would have another dust storm but that it would hold off another couple hours.. At 4:20 or so, after I noted that there was another severe thunderstorm watch with a prediction of 40% chance of precip, we both decided to leave a little early to avoid it. Score: right 1, wrong 2. It's not really all that much fun driving during the thick of a dust storm, even worse when there's a touch of rain and some lightning. I got hit with a large cardboard box and several good-sized chunks of tumbleweed and the only reason I never had to pull over and stop wasbecause the traffic was sensible enough to be going at a crawl on the freewayduring the point of lowest visibility.

The dust storm's past now, two minutes after AI walked in; now we're getting substantial rain ("substantial" as in, big fat drops and lots of them) and quite a bit of thunder and lightning. Still: rain, yay!! We'll take it even if I do have to drive in it.

Posted by dichroic at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)

dust storms in the area and in the brain

Big dust storm last night; it was the sort where if I'd taken a picture of the leading edge, the dust cloud was opaque enough and sharply defined enough that the photo would have looked as if I'd had a finger in front of the lens. (I do actually have an old photo of a similar storm, but I don't have a digital version. Here is a slideshow from azcentral, though. The storm blew through pretty quickly, and unfortunately was all dust, no rain. By morning it was still windy enough that Rudder and I skipped rowing. We're planning to go towmorrow instead; we may even row together because we're talking about racing together in a double in Klamath Falls next month. We normally never do row together due to very mismatched physiologies and training philosophies (translation: he's much bigger than I am and is a masochist far more serious when it comes to training, and I'm not), but we're the only Arizona Outlaws who will be there, and it's a small race that we're not taking particularly seriously so we think it might be fun.

I'm not sure what we'll do if it's too windy again tomorrow. Erg, I guess.

I don't know if it's the job or what, but something is sucking out all my creativity lately. I did have one verse of a poem written while on the lake the other day but forgot half of it by the time I could write it down. (Well, really that hardly counts. When you're rowing on a calm lake with a mountain right beside you, and the lake if reflecting the sunrise, the mountain, the white bridges and the egrets flapping lazily overhead, who could not write a poem?) I know most of my writing here hasn't exactly been inspired lately. The knitting's going OK, but that's a different sort of creativity - unless I'm figuring out my own pattern, it's just making things, rather than figuring out how to make things. Satisfying, but in a different way. Beadwork counts as the sort of creativity I'm complaining about, because in general I'm answering questions like "How do I translate this idea into earrings?" or "What do these beads want to do?" rather than following someone else's instructions. My problem there is that I'm getting to the point of having more jewelry than I can wear. What I need to do is sell some of it (to fund making more) but I confess to having no real idea of how to do that. The nice thing about working in words rather than beads is that you never get to the point of having too many to keep around. But my brain doesn't seem to want to, just now.

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

June 06, 2006

getting ready for Tahoe

This Lake Tahoe regatta in two weeks is going to be interesting. As of last weekend, Dr. Bosun dumped me; she was very apologetic about it, but she called and asked if I'd mind rowing the single while she and the Old Salt rowed a double instead, because she didn't think we (she and I) were enjoying rowing together. It's true we had a lot of adjustments to make but we'd already done all of that so now I feel like we wasted our time. On the other hand, it's also true that she's a bit annoying to row with (and I think she was politely trying not to say that the converse is true as well). Also Rudder had a brilliant idea: She-Hulk had been hoping to row in Tahoe as well, and hadn't yet found a boat to borrow, so his idea was for her to row a double with me. I broached the idea to her and she was enthusiastic. So for this regatta, we will have Rudder in a single, Dr. Bosun and the Old Salt in a mixed double, and me and She-Hulk in a women's double.

The other interesting aspect is in the nature of the race. Apparently LakeTahoe counts as open water, rougher than the flat lakes we normally row on. There are two courses, a long loop of 8.75 nm and a short loop of 3.75 nm (16.205 and 6.945 km respectively). Rudder's racing the long course, the rest of us are saner. Flatwater boats (that is, our normal ones) are allowed to race the short course; only open-water boats (wider, usually with self-balers) are allowed to row the long course. All boats are required to carry a PFD (personal flotation device = life jacket). Normally rowers are not required to carry a separate PFD because our oars are Coast Guard-approved flotation devices. Also, they encourage everyone to carry a compass and/or GPS. I'm trying to encourge Rudder to carry one; he keeps making the point that he won't be able to see it while rowing, but my point is that it might be handy to have in case he gets lost enough to be willing to stop. The short course is in sight of land all the way, but I think I'll take a compass. (Actually, the long course is too, it's just a little further out.)

The thing I regret most about being in a double with Dr. Bosun is that she's done the race before and seems to think course-finding will be no issue. She-Hulk hasn't, and I suspect she'll be a little more nervous about it - and since she prefers to row bow, she'll be the one steering. We'll manage, though. On the other hand, we've raced together several times and are pretty comfortable rowing together; she's a chameleon who follows whatever her stroke (person in stroke seat, i.e. me) does. The down side to that is that she adapts no matter what I do so I won't necessarily improve; a couple of Dr. Bosun's comments actually were very helpful, pointing out things I needed to correct not just in our double but in general. But She-Hulk is more comfortable to row with, and over nearly 7 miles, that will be a good thing.

Posted by dichroic at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2006

sweater pixies

Rudder was able to come home on an earlier flight; he got in late Saturday afternoon. Apparently having him around after a week alone is distracting; Before I left for the airport Saturday, I began making this from this. (New skill: provisional cast-on - which looks way cool when you start with a plain cream colored yarn then knit a multicolored yarn into it. I maybe have to do that sometime on purpose for an edging, and not pull out the crochet chain that begins it.) Of course when I joined the yarn, I checked to make sure I didn't twist it. I checked several times. I even checked as I was knitting it. By last night I'd gotten a couple of inches into the sweater, and done 6 out of 10 or so increase rows. ("Or so" because I'm adapting to a different gauge than the one in the pattern, and since it's top down, I'll be able to try it on as I go. I took one more look at it - and found that somehow it was twisted, and instead of the neck of a sweater what I had instead was a Moebius strip.

I can only conclude that either Rudder's impending and then actual presence was even more distracting than I had thought, or else the Sweater Pixies have come to my house to play mischievous tricks on me. At least, since I have to redo my work, it's a very nice yarn to knit with - Artful Yarns Candy, in a color that's mostly blue with threads of orange and green. I have only four balls; I'm knitting the second size up which calls for five, but then I'm getting 19 instead of 22 stitches per inch. Also, judging by her picture in the sweater's pattern (and mine from yesterday), I will need considerably less yarn for the, er, top half od the body.

Posted by dichroic at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

between one fish and one bicycle

A Constitutional ban on gay marriage, or rather a statement that marriage is between one man and one woman, has been in the news lately; apparently it's likely to come up before the Senate soon. One of my state's senators, John Kyl, is pushing the bill, and there's also likely to be a related initiative in this state next fall. Even John McCain, the one of our Senators whom I can stand, has made it clear that he supports the state initiative; he doesn't like the Federal ban only because he believes it's an issue best left to the states. Between that and all the other issues spurred by those among the conservative Christian movements who haven't found it necessary to pay any attention to Jesus' actual teachings, I particularly enjoyed this quote that I came across over the weekend:

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.

-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

Rudder likes to point out that past Constitutional amendments have all been about guarateeing or expanding freedoms, not taking them away. He's quite wrong, of course; previous amendments have severely restricted the rights of the Federal government, of would-be slaveholders, of would-be discriminators and so on. I can only find three cases, however, where an amendment, in minorly restricting one person, did not grant broader and more important freedoms to many others: I. Amendment 14, Section 3: No person may serve in any government office who previously, as a member of Congress or other officer of the US, member of a state legiislature or executive or judicial officer of any state has committed treason or rebellion against the United Sates. Of course, you could argue that this gives US citizens the right not to be led by traitors - and even this ban can be overridden by a 2/3 vote of each House of Congress presumably to cover the case of someone who had served in the Confederate Forces and was later judged to be loyal to the United States. II. Amendment 22: No one can serve as President more than twice. This restricts the freedoms of one person at a time. Big whoop. III. Amendment 18, Prohibition: illegalized alcohol. Repealed by Amendment 22, so you can see how successful that was.

Accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that perhaps using the Constitution to restrict personal freedoms is perhaps not an action likely to be approved by history. Also, I'm one of those people they want to "protect": one heterosexual woman, happily married to one hetero man. I'm still a bit confused:what actually am I supposed to feel threatened by? Supposing we got invited to a friend's commitment ceremony: would Rudder dump me and run off with the groomsman? Would that be more likely if it were a legal marriage rather than a commitment only?

Sorry, I just don't see it.

Posted by dichroic at 12:15 PM | Comments (2)

June 04, 2006

weekend pictures

The hard parts in this portrait project are twain: deciding on an idea or ideas, and then deciding among the results. Two shots today, because I'm wimping out on that decision, and also because each photo has both of us in it:

Also, because I wanted to see if direct sun would work better for beadwork photos, here's an incomplete piece I've been noodling around on (there's an earlier photo here):

Posted by dichroic at 06:16 PM | Comments (1)

June 02, 2006

another reason to work out

Last night, I dreamed I was working on something with a bunch of very competent women, and I asked one of them, "Of all the computer systems that have become self aware, have any of them identified as female?"

She answered, but the two examples she gave were more ghost stories than anything except computers. The first one was brief and I don't remember it, but the second one changed so that I was experiencing it rather than being told about it. A woman I knew well (possibly the same one) beckoned me to come with her. We got into the car, and her driving was extremely good, but very scary - like something out of a movie car chase. I think I screamed a few times, or at least squeaked (only within the dream) but I enjoyed it, too. I don't think she said anything at all; by then I was suspecting she was a ghost on the theory that no normal human could drive like that, though I'd seen her alive shortly before.. At last she skidded diagonally into a very small parking spot, and beckoned me to follow her into a house (which looked like one of the rowhouses across the street from my parents, at the far end of the block). We walked in, walked through the living room and dining room right behind an older woman who was happily chattering on the phone to a friend about some plans for the day. She appeared not to notice us. We walked though some more rooms, around a corner and up some stairs (the inside of this house was bigger than the rowhouses really are). She took me to a bathroom where I saw an indistinct shape on the floor of the shower. Apparently I wasn't wearing my glasses or contacts, and everything was even fuzzier than it would really be without them. I didn't want to look too closely, but I realized that the object on the floor was a dead man, that the woman downstairs had killed him, and that the woman who had brought me had just died herself and was now on a mission to bring justice to this man. (No idea why he couldn't be his own rescuer.) Obviously what I was supposed to do was to call the police; the only question was, should I stay in the house and call them from my cell phone? I knew it would be dangerous to stay there long, in case the murderess found me in her house. Or should I attempt to sneak back past her, get out of the house and then call? But I had no idea why the woman hadn't noticed us on the way up, or why she wouldn't spot me on my way back out.

While I was trying to figure that out, I woke up, and was very glad to find myself in my bed with nothing much going on. It was about 3:45. I'd packed for rowing, though I'd been considering sleeping in a little and erging instead. But Rudder wasn't there to curl up to, to convince my subconscious that the dream was over and everything was OK, and enough fear was left over from the dream that I kept thinking someone could break in with me alone in the house - not something I worry about, except when I'm lying awake at 3AM. Or 3:45. So I lay there for a few more minutes, enjoying at least being able to stay in bed, and then I got up and went rowing.

I know where some of the images come from. There was a whole bit, a much better part of the dream, where I was working with the women before my question about female AIs. I figure it stems from all the WisCon discussions going on over at LiveJournal, and in fact I posted a little more there about it. My parents' house and neighborhood shows up a lot in my dreams, since I lived there until I left home, and I did once walk into a house across the street and go upstairs to find a dead man. In that case, though, his wife hadn't killed him; he'd had a stroke or heart attack and she ran outside yelling for help. My mom and I went over and I tried to breathe for him (having had CPR training a fwe years before) but it was too late. I've no idea where the ghost-woman with the short dark hair came from, though, or why ghosts are crazy drivers.

It was a good rowing day, at least. I had the lake nearly to myself - with Rudder, She-Hulk, and the Cubemate out of town only a couple of others were out that early, and I got to practice with my new rigging in the sunrise. As everyone knows, sunrise is very good for banishing ghosts.

Posted by dichroic at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2006


I got to go be social last night. A couple of people on my L.M. Montgomery discussion group have recently moved to town and I had dinner with one of them. (The other couldn't make it.) I'd arranged to meet her at a restaurant on Mill Avenue, both because I like the food and atmosphere and because Mill Ave is one of the things you do want to show to anyone new to town. The restaurant had a few minor issues; first the server forgot my wine (while remembering S's, which is just bizarre). Then they very apologetically asked us to move; a large party that had been set up on the other end of the outdoor seating area was objecting to being in the sun and asked to move to our side. Since there were only two of us, we could sit in a shady area on that side, though it was a little hotter than our original table (farther from the misters). They offered to comp our dessert, but neither of us wanted any, so they agreed to comp one of the glasses of wine. (And as it turned out, they undercharged for the other.)

That was a good glass of wine, anyhow. Rieslings and Gewurztraminers are usually too sweet for me, but the sommelier at the last fancy place Rudder and I ate at had told us that Gewurztraminers from Alsace, on the French side of the border tend not to be sweet. When I saw an Alsation Gewurztraminer on the menu last night, I decided to check his theory, and he was right. It was sweet right at the front in the first taste, but the sweetness didn't materialize through to the finish (I don't really know the proper wine descriptions), and it went very well with the mango vinaigrette on my salad.

After dinner, we walked along Mill, because S wanted to look for some lightweight floaty summer clothes. I guess I hadn't entirely realized that you don't actually need to be all that big (and she isn't) to find it difficult to fit in the sizes most women's stores carry. Also, of course, the stores on that street are mostly catering to college students and expecting them to be skinny. (Based on my observation of ASU students at Flugtag, I have no idea why.) But we had a good time looking at the Hippie Gypsy clothes (really, that's the name of a store), completed with stuffed Jerry Garcia dolls, and laughing at the retreads of fashions we remembered from the 1980s and the very odd ideas of layering on the mannequins at Urban Outfitters. I was tempted by a T-shirt with Horton the Elephant on it, that said, "A person's a person, no matter how small," but managed to resist it because of all the spending last weekend.

I did skip the gym this morning, but went to work a bit early instead; I'll go Saturday and have a longer session instead, then shower and go get Rudder from the airport. Only two more sleeps until he's home, yay!

Posted by dichroic at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)