September 07, 2006

more move logistics

So far I've had three nibbles from potential car-buyers. One was from a local guy who wanted to buy it for his teenage daughter. When we met so they could see it, I think he decided she wasn't enthusiastic about it, though some of that could have been because she was groggy (it was the crack of 9AM). I'm just as glad; the whole "Daddy will buy me whatever car I want" thing squicks me out a bit, but mostly it's because I really don't think it's a great first car. It's a very lightweight, extremely responsive convertible. It doesn't have a huge engine, but there's so little car to move that it's got a lot of pick-up. On the other hand, he wouldn't have to worry about her driving lots of friends around, I guess.

The other two sound like adults who want the car for themselves, so that's good. One is a woman several states away, who couldn't find one an MR-2 closer. At last report she was researching shipping options; I haven't heard from her in a couple of days, so either she's still researching or she decided it was too expensive. The other is a man in another part of this state who just called last night; he's supposed to call back to let me know when we can meet.

I have no idea how to handle tax, title, and license, I suppose I should probably call the DMV. But hopefully one of these will come through and buy the car.

In other news I have an actual contract, printed on real paper, sitting on my table back home. I just need to check with Rudder that his side is solid enough for me to go ahead and sign it. And then we'll be committed. (Er, to the contract.) The other paperwork complication is getting hold of my birth certificate and our marriage license. Oregon was quite efficient in sending Rudder's, but Pennsylvania appears to be much more disorganized. I was able to order the birth certificate online but the receipt points out that it can take up to ten days to get it sent to me. Because apparently printing and sending a record is way too difficult and it takes nine days to nerve yourself to do it. It kind of makes me glad I moved away.

Posted by dichroic at 12:31 PM

September 06, 2006

minor gripes, mostly

I am not coming down with a cold, I am not coming down with a cold, I am NOT coming down with a cold DAMMIT. My theory is it's allergies. It's suddenly gotten much more humid (it's a relative thing) so that's a possibility.Also, possibly because of the humidity, it's freeeezing at work. It's making me question the utility of that lace shawl I've begun: harder to knit and not warm enough for the office. Hmmm. In contrast. the alpaca-silk Clapotis I finished over the weekend is nicely snuggly.

Oh well, maybe I can wear the lace shawl if I ever go out for the evening. Or it can be a present sometime. (Not, however, for my great-aunt who is turning 90 later this month. This is a woman who worked in a high-fashion store into her 80s for the employee discount - I'm afraid she'd think a lace shawl was too old-ladyish for her.)

No further calls on the car today, though one person seems to be seriously interested. She's asked a lot of questions, anyhow. I do hope this isn't the sort of thing where you get a bunch of calls immediately and then nothing. I'm just anxious to get things started and moving.

In other frustrations, I'm trying again to get our marriage license. We were married in Montgomery County, just outside Philadelphia, but for some reason the first time I called to ask about getting a license I was told to mail a request to Philadelphia City Hall. Last Friday, I got a letter back saying they hadn't found our license. So I called Montgomery county and this time they'll all, "oh, yes, send us the request - here, want us to make sure it's on file here first?" It was, so now I have a little more assurance, but it's still annoying to have to send not one but two actual letters, on paper, with SASE and all that. I don't understand why it's such a hassle. Birth certificates, in contrast, are handled by the state rather than the county, and you can order an official copy online. Then again, we've recieved Rudder's from Oregon but not mine from PA, and we ordered them the same day, so I won't laud that system just yet. Then when I do get them I get to mail them right back to the capitols of the respective states for an apostille stamp, which is a legalization saying, "Yes, these official documents are really our official documents and we'll stand behind them. I can only conclude these systems were designed for people who never actually left the state in which they were born or married, which is ironic given that almost the only time you'd need an apostille is in the case of moving to another country.

Also, I really would like a nap now.

Posted by dichroic at 03:01 PM

September 05, 2006

daily challenges

Just overheard: "In typical boy fashion, he thought his fingers were much bigger than they actually are." Hee.

I am finally not sore, at least not much. On Sunday walking was painful. Saturday involved two hours of weeding, 25 km erging, and a massage. I don't think the erging was the problem, amusingly enough. After the weeding, I was fairly exhausted, but I wanted to get the long erg piece in before the scheduled massage. I told him I'd lie to not be sore the next day (well, that didn't work!) and he did do a lot of stretching of my hip joints. So I'm not sure if the problem was the weeding or the sstretching, but I'm inclined to blame the weeding.

I think normal people consider weeding the garden to be routine and erging over 15 miles to be outlandish. Apparently I'm a little backward.

The next challenge is what ti do about tomorrow. I've done such pitiful distances on the erg since I was sore yesterday and allergy-ish today that I really need to get some distance in. However, I'd need to be up by 4 to do the distance and shower before a 6AM telecon. That would be fine, but tonight is knitting, and since it's almost the only socializing I do lately I don't want to miss it. it doesn't start until 7, so one possibility is to erg after work today. I could erg this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon and then go to the gym Thursday morning, if I want to be relly virtuous. (Yeah, I wouldn't bet on it either.)

You know what annoys me? Well, OK, that. And yes, that too. And that other thing. But what I'm thinking about at this moment is those people who say things like, "You should just make exercise a part of your daily routine. You wouldn't skip brushing your teeth, would you?" Well, no, but brushing my teeth doesn't take an hour and leave me tired and sweaty. I do work out a lot, and it's true that works better if you do it as a matter of routine without thinking about it too much. But to get the amount of exercise I need to reach my goals, I need to spend a nontrivial amount of time on it, and sometimes I do have to make real sacrifices. It's not just a matter of spending less time planted on the couch, it's a matter of having to get to bed early, to get less sleep in the mornings than I'd like, to eat food that won't upset my workout instead of what I want to eat (this is nontrivial if I'm going out on the actual water, where there are no restroom breaks), and sometimes to give up things I'd like to do. I think the "exercise is like toothbrushing" people are either just doing the minimum to maintain health or are trying to persuade themselves.

Maybe that's the way to figure how much I want to go out tonight - if I want to go badly enough, I will bite the bullet and erg first.

Posted by dichroic at 03:10 PM

September 03, 2006


Eating alone doesn't produce moments of magic nearly as often as eating in good company. But when dinner includes candlelight, a glass of wine, homemade chicken soup with matzo balls, and a first reading of Elizabeth Bear's Blood and Iron the magic is there in plenty. (Though it would be even better if I had a brownie around to deal with the dishes.)

Also, my dining room has a tile floor, and it's open to the living room, which has likewise tile on the floor, a cathedral ceiling and no soft furnishings (just bookshelves and my library table). So when I sing along to the music in the book my uneven and untrained voice resonates like the Merlin's own.

Posted by dichroic at 08:20 PM

the complexities of selling

I've gone and taken the first true step toward our move - today I put my little car up for sale on Autotrader. I'm a little nervous about this because I haven't quite figured out the logistics. Obviously it's a better idea to meet a potential buyer somewhere public rather than at my house, especially with Rudder away. I've been told that cashier's checks are often faked so it's better to go to the bank with the buyer and get a check right there. But then what? There are no banks within walking distance of my house, and not much taxi service in my area. And no Rudder to help ferry cars. Do we go to the bank together and then both drive back to my house? (See "not meeting at my house", above.) Do I ask the buyer for a ride home? (But again, same issue.) Do I ask for a ride or to drive separately to the drugstore near my house, that I can walk home from? It's a safe area, but still, walking around with the check for the car in my pocket doesn't seem too brilliant.

This just all seems so complicated. On the other hand my asking price is midrange for the similar cars posted, about Blue Book value, and it's $4K above what the dealer would give me, so I gues it's worth it.

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

September 01, 2006

attempted upgrade

I tried today to upgrade this site to MT 3.32. Total failure - I updated the config file, moved all the files over, and ... nothing. When I tried to open my installation it couldn't find anything and I got a message saying the site was down and I should talk to the webmaster, which is less than helpful when I AM the webmaster. On the other hand at least I'm in good company. (Actually because of that entry I did have a sneaking suspiscion this was going to be tricky. Scalzi seems pretty tech-savvy.)

I wanted to upgrade because updating this site takes forever these days and I get error messages more often than not, even though the update generally does work. Presumably the problem has to do with rebuilding a site with 2100-some entries on it. I was hoping the new rev of the software would deal better with blogs on the verbose side, but I may never find out. One option is to just deal with things as they are, though it is a bit annoying. Another is to switch over to Wordpress; we use it on the Outlaws website and updateds are imediate but then again the archives are way smaller. My hosting company makes installing WP extremely easy but I have a feeling that connecting it to said 2100+ entries would not be trivial. A third option would be to start a brand new WP site, just with a llink back to my archives here, and there's some appeal to doing that as I make major changes in my life. (A fourth is either paying for MT support or paying them to actually do the installation but I doubt I'll do that.) I don't know, but don't be surprised if there are changes here one of these days.

Posted by dichroic at 03:31 PM

stupidity is not ok

One of my biggest pet peeves is adults modeling stupidity in front of kids. I don't mean making mistakes; I think it's good for kids to see that not everyone is infallible. I don't mean showing differences in tastes, either; I found it enormously liberating when my excellent high school teacher told us she hated Milton's Paradise Lost. I mean when people say an entire field of endeavor is just too hard, without even trying to crack it.

I generally watch the morning news while getting dressed for work. The channel I watch focuses a lot on local news. Yesterday they had a piece about a student-run math tutoring program at a local high school. The kids being interviewed had an equation written out on a white board to be reduced - something like 14a^2b / 42ab^3. (I'm using the ^ for powers, so a^2 is a squared). So OK, divide by 7, divide by a and b, realize the numeric part comes to 2/6 and divide by 2 to reduce farther. How hard is that? I had it solved in my head in about thirty seconds, and despite working in engineering, I very rarely do any math harder than balancing a checkbook.

The news anchors were all "Oh, that's too hard, I wouldn't have any idea how to solve that." Grr. People like that explain how the "Math is hard" Barbie made it to market. I wouldn't have a problem if they were talking about solving a differential equation, which is probably not required in J-school, but an adult ought to know 7th-grade algebra, or at least refrain from suggesting that it's perfectly peachy not to know it.

The only redeeming facotr is that I suspect not too many kids watch the morning news and the ones being interviewed already do now how to reduce a simple equation.

I think I was right about the feline issues. Yesterday I was home all evening, having been out the previous two evenings, and the cat was not only much more relaxed, he didn't start miauling until about two minutes before the alarm.

Posted by dichroic at 11:05 AM | Comments (2)

August 31, 2006

feline issues

I've got no great plans for the three day weekend - weeding the front yard, a long erg piece, food shopping. Nothing too exciting. I may check into selling my little car, too. (Anyone want a 2001 Toyota MR2 Syder convertible?) I'm hoping that being around the house more will help with the cat issue.

He's been very needy lately, which wouldn't be a problem except for two things. First, he's very vocal and has the whiniest voice I've ever heard on a cat. It sounds like he's trying to tell me something's wrong, but damned if I can figure out what it is. That still wouldn't be a problem, except that he keeps deciding to speak up in the middle of the night. I've been in sleep deficit all week, at least partly thanks to him. The other problem is that the neediness translates into wanting to be petted whenever I'm sitting or laying still, which wouldn't be a problem except he won't stay still lately. I don't mind too much having him on my lap while I use the computer, over even when he sita on the edge of the mousepad, but I do mind when he either parades back and forth in front of the keyboard or around my ankles, headbutting them whenever I'm not petting him enough. I don't even mind trying to get to sleep with him suggled up to me and one hand on him, but instead he keeps pacing back and forth and butting my hand for more petting. I'm really hoping that having me around a bit more calms him down at least during the night - we've always found that the more time we're with them, the better socialized both cats became, so I think having Rudder gone for so long and me busy - and away for three days last weekend - is the cause of the problem.

I hope so, anyway. I need more sleep. Damn cat.

Posted by dichroic at 02:16 PM

August 30, 2006


Today may be The Day, as Rudder was supposed to have gotten to review his contract. Am waiting for his call. Waiting......waiting....waiting....

Am not patient. In fact I went to the extent of calling him in his hotel room, which required calling my cell-phone service provider first to get the capability to make international calls. Reached him but he had just gotten back fromt he gym and was in the middle of dinner or something. He promised to call back, though. I don't mind waiting 20 minutes or an hour as long as I don't have to wait until tomorrow.


He called and the news is good! I may wait until tomorrow to talk to my boss; I've got some interesting ideas to propose *cough*layoff*cough* and it would help if I weren't grinning like a fool.

(I do apologize about all the vagueness. I should be able to post with detail and dates here within the next few days.)

OK. On other topics. And in pursuit of not grinning like a fool....

So I think last night I accidentally mastered dressing for the coffeeshop. My local knitting group meets there on Tuesdays, and last night was my third or fourth time. For work, I'd warn, starting from the bottom, my faaabulous black not-too-high-but-spike-heel pointy-toed D'orsay pumps, black tights, a Black Watch mini-kilt, a blue fitted Oxford, glasses instead of contacts and a haircomb with sparkly blue crystals. For the knit-in, I removed the tights and the shirt, subsitituting for the latter a black cami with "New Orleans Mardi Gras" on it in honor of the anniversary, and deciding to omit upper underpinnings because I get tired of the way bra straps always seem to be set wider than camisole-shirt straps. I don't go without often any more, but I still can without discomfort or being really, really obvious. (That is, you can tell, but you have to look carefully.) The reason I'm guessing this was the correct attire was that the (female) barista was suddenly much chattier than usual, even complimenting my shoes. (And no, I don't think she was hitting on me.)

Will have to experiment and see. In the next month because I'll be gone after that!

Posted by dichroic at 01:40 PM | Comments (4)

August 29, 2006


Funny - I feel like I've been slacking off all weekend on training. And I haven't really: I erged 5K Friday morning before heading out to Anaheim and another 6K on Sunday evening after coming home. (Granted, the latter was mostly so I could sleep in and skip the erg on Monday.) My logbook makes it look like I've been slacking, because I'm kind of erratic about where I log weekends, whether with the week before and the week after. So it looks like I only erged last week on Monday, Tuesday and Friday for a total of about 25 km, when actually I'd also done a half marathon the prior Sunday. On the other hand, I took off both Wednesday and Thursday.

I helped fix the problem by doing a 15km piece this morning before work (ouch). Still, I've done only 26 km in the past 7 days, compared with over 52 km in the 7 days prior. However, that latter is end-loaded, so closer to this week - I did 41 km in the last 3 DAYS of it. I'm not too far behind, but ideally I should do 20 km or so in the rest of this workweek and then another half-marathon on the weekend.

The reason for all this obsessing over numbers is just that, while I've been saying I'll probably do a half rather than a whole marathon at Rudder's annual ergathon which is now (ulp!) less than a month away, I'm going to feel like a weenie if I do. On the other hand, even if I do it, it's certainly going to take longer than last year's four hours and thirteen minutes, and that was painful enough.

On a different topic, I need to recount a conversation from yesterday - a classic example of how the brain reparses information. A coworker and I left the building at the same time, and he said something about the weather (temps are still getting to over 100F here), adding, "I talked to my sister in Colorado yesterday, and the high is about 50 there."

I said, "Yeah, I was in LA over the weekend and I was cold the whole time, though that was more of a problem indoors than out."

Pause. He's obviously thinking it over. Then he asks, "So where in southern California did you go?"

Fortunately, by then we'd reached his car, so I was spared further conversation.

Posted by dichroic at 12:39 PM | Comments (1)

August 28, 2006

WorldCon report

Summary: I had a good time, but not so good that I'm saving my pennies for Tokyo next year. I'd go again, if it's close to home and I'm not doing anything else, or if it's somewhere I want to go anyway, or most especially if there are a group of people I want to meet up with there.

Program events: Somehow I only made it to three panels, I'm not sure why. Two were OK, but not terribly exciting, even the one with the big names on it. The third (Shakespeare and his influence on your writing) was the best by a long shot. It was more about Shakespeare, his own writing, and his experiences in fiction than about the title topic; I htink I enjoyed it most because all of the panelists engage with WS or think about him in their daily lives, either as writers, actors or teachers, so they were all passionate about the topic. (Especially in the case of Sheila Finch, who as a teenager got to see Richard Burton as Hamlet some 13 times at the Old Vic. Yum.) (Participants: Amy Sterling Casil (moderator), Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Mary A. Turzillo, Sheila Finch.)

High points: I really enjoyed the kaffeeklatches, where you get to sit aroung a table with an author or editor and 9-10 other people and just talk. Great access to interesting people - some of the other participant's comments would have been worth it all by themselves. The readings turned out to be similarly intimate, which I hadn't expected.
Disappointments: See panels, above. Also, there was so much stuff going on that every decision to see one thing involved missing others. I think the worst was the raffle: I'd expect that it wouldn't take long and I could go sing sea shanties, but isntead it took well over an hour and I eventually gave my tickets to someone and left so I could start driving home. (A good decision, as it happened.) I didn't win anything and I missed the singing.
Surprises: I sort of wandered into a talk by Tim Powers that I hadn't really planned to attend, and it was wonderful. I went to the Hugos more or less from a feeling that it was a must-see (giving up a trip to trip to Disneyland with Anghara and Deck to do so, one of the more painful trade-offs) to do so, but I quite enjoyed the Hugos. Scalzi didn't look as I'd expected from pictures I'd seen, incidentally.

Shopping: Incredible. Resulting in many more things I am not supposed to be buying because I already have too many of them (books, dichroic earrings) plus an incredibly detailed ojime bead of a dragon and cat. (But can you ever really have too many books or earrings?)

High points: The dichroic glass was much cheaper than I'd expect. And it took me forever to decide among the nutsuke and ojime on one table, because it was incredible stuff (and not terribly expensive).
Disappointments: None, really. Though it was surprisingly hard to find a copy of Jo Walton's Farthing. (The table where I finally found it was right in front but I'd started from the back.)
Surprises: How very much of it there was. And reasonably priced, too.

People-watching: Oh, yes. There is no getting around the fact that there were loads of funny-looking people at Worldcon. However, there were also loads of people you might expect to be funny looking, but weren't - some of the most outlandishly costumed people gave me the feeling that this was their preferred dress, with mundane clothes being something they were forced into the rest of the time. Lots and lots of people in wheelchairs or with canes; I think there are several reasons for it, and that the noted acceptance of all sorts of disabilities in in the community is only a part of it. For one, like rowing it's a lifetime interest, not something you're likely to only do at a certain age. Of course, unlike regattas, SF and fandom are things you can engage in despite disabilities (there is adaptive rowing, but only a few regattas have events). Also, I think maybe WorldCon is a big enough deal that some people who might find it difficult to get out much otherwise spend their energy on this.

High points: The swash and the swagger and the fun of the costumes.
Disappointments: I missed the masquerade, though for good reason. (I was enjoying myself talking to people at dinner.)
Surprises: I realized that there is really nothing in current fashion that flatters larger people as much as the sorts of costuming people wear to Renfaires and cons. A cloak hides a multitude of sins. A bodice that's fitted, supportive and revealing doesn't hide anything but goes one better by turning generous curves into decided (and enticing) assets. The male version can take someone who looks like Wally from the Dilbert strip and turn him into a swashbuckling gallant. Also, the number of men in Utilikilts didn't surprise me at all - but the number who looked damn good in them did.

People-meeting: Famous people and friend-people and LJ people.

High points: Talking to some other first-timers, dinner on Friday with two other Lioness fans. Meeting James P. Hogan and Mary Kay Kare at the Information desk. Kaffeeklatches with Alma Alexander and Elizabeth Bear.
Disappointments: I saw my friend D for about two seconds Friday, while I was being shown the ropes at the Information desk, and never did find him again. Also, mush as I liked the Kaffeeklatches, the venue for them sucked - right next to a filk stage. One wired for sound. Not to mention assorted other noise from the rest of the Lounge area right outside the curtained area. I have excellent hearing (very few rock concerts in my past!) and I had trouble hearing occasionally, so it must have been terrible for people with hearing impairments. (T-shirt spotted: "Going deaf faster gives you more time for reading")
Surprises: One of the people I ate with Friday turned out to be a (very quiet!) member of the piffle list, which I've been a moderator of since its inception. Also, later that night I met someone from work - took her an amusing amount of time to refocus and realize who I was. Did not get hit on at all, which surprised me only because of some of the stuff I'd read about WorldCons of the past. One guy did compliment my dress (and smile) but he also called me "perky", which does not constitute hitting on someone in a bright scarlet dress with low neck, clingy top half and swirly skirt. (Or if he thought it did, he needs serious practice.)

Other events: Stuff not on the schedule.

High points: Watching Elise make a necklace crown.
Disappointments: The parties were less fun (smaller, quieter, soberer) than I expected, though since I got to be by midnight both nights I may have just missed the good parts. They weren't horrible, just not as expected. Also, of course, even the parts of them I was at would be much more fun for someone plugged in to fandom who was meeting old friends everywhere.
Surprises: Except for a little of the LA driving, I actually found the whole thing fairly relaxing, not tiring at all. I was on my feet the whole time, and constantly walking between the Convention Center, the Hilton which also hosted a lot of the events, and the Marriott where my room was, but I probably still ended up walking much less than at an average regatta. (And no exertion much beyond a walk, which of course makes a difference.) I had no trouble getting plenty of sleep and enough food. Of course, a lot of it probably comes right back to not knowing many people. I had no command performances, no juggling to fit everyone in my schedule, no getting waylaid wherever I walked. And I suspect the invite-only parties were the best ones, not surprisingly. (I did consider crashing the Tor party, but though Teresa Nielsen-Hayden stated that "regulars" of Making Light were welcome, I'm only a regular reader, not a regular part of the discussion, and I suspect she meant the latter.)

Packing: Stuff I brought or didn't.

Glad I brought: Bananas, a water bottle, and something to carry the latter, plus purchases and knitting. The knitting itself was also a good thing to bring, especially the Claptis shawl, because I was freezing most of the time and could spread it on my lap even while I wasn't knitting. Also, the shockingly red dress was good to wear to the parties.
Shouldn't have brought: My laptop, which I didn't use at all. The hotel charged $9.99 for Internet access, and while the con had it for free, for the same walk and the same wait I could use their computer without having to carry mine. Also, I should have brought fewer shorts and more long pants. Brrr.
Wish I'd brought: If I'd left the laptop home, I could have brought the long wide skirt that goes with the bellydancing top. I did bring the top but decided it looked stupid with jeans. I'd have fit right in.

The trip:

High points: Rudder was right: the Origins of Life lecture is pretty good. Also, the satellite radio had perfect reception all the way across the desert.
Sucky parts: Halfway to Quartzite I realized I'd forgotten to leave extra food for the cat. Fortunately our excellent catsitter has a key, so I called and threw myself on her mercy, adn fortunatley her schedule permitted a quick visit Saturday night. Then there was the LA traffic and construction on the way there. I was beginning to panic a bit that I'd be caught in traffic to the point of extreme bladder discomfort, but fortunately once I got past the construction on 215 it eased up. On the way back, there was no traffic in LA but then I-10 was closed at Quartzite. When I-10 is closed away from the big towns, a l-o-o-o-n-g detour is necessitated, so I got home an hour later than I'd been hoping.
Surprises: I was a good girl and erged 6K last night so I could sleep a little later this morning. (I think the workout helped me get to sleep, too.)

Oh, and...

  • I forgot to mention Betty Ballantine's fabulous dress, at the Hugos. I want to look like that when I'm in my 80s. I already know I won't sound as good: she has fabulous diction and sounds like a trained stage actress.

  • Apparently Harlan really is as big a jerk as reported. Connie Willis smiled and ignored it, but groping women, uninvited, is not funny. And the bit with the microphone was just gross.
  • Posted by dichroic at 02:53 PM | Comments (3)

August 24, 2006

fractured-brain postings

I'm having a fragmented-brain day today. So, assorted things:

Misia wrote:

In re: the much-talked-about sexist Forbes article many folks have been referencing today...the one about how men shouldn't marry "career women" because then they run a higher risk of facing "rocky" marriages... I have one thing to say, and I'm going to say it as a public service announcement for all and sundry:

Autonomous people who can support themselves economically have little compelling reason to stay in otherwise unrewarding relationships. If they do remain in those relationships, they have little compelling reason to remain monogamous if they do not wish to do so -- because they can afford, quite literally, to take the risk of having a relationship end.

This has always been true. The only reason any of this is even remotely newsworthy is that feminism has generated a few strides toward genuine equality and now women increasingly have the opportunity to consider relationships and marriage in more or less the same dynamic as men have historically taken for granted.

Moral of the Story: Heterosexual men are just gonna hafta figure out how to do better at being partners to women, because just having a dick and a paycheck ain't gonna cut it any more.

I find this utterly true, as I wrote in her comments - the only thing I'd add is that, to a man with both a brain and a heart, there's the major advantage to all this of having a partner who's with you because she wants to be, rather than because she has no good alternatives.

As far as I can tell, Israel and Lebanon agree that their cease-fire has more chance of holding with UN troops there, and are happy to have Italy leading it. You know, and I know, and for sure Italy knows that things could go disastrously wrong, nonetheless. And yet Italy wants to lead the forces. Granted they'd like to get more respect internationally, still, they know the risks are considerable, from damaged or dead Italian soldiers being not unlikely on up to a remote possibility of being implicated in the start of WWIII. One news report I heard, and I have no special reason to doubt it, claims that a part of the rationale is a desire on the part of the Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, to do the right and moral thing. (Note: not to rationalize what he wants to do by calling it "the right thing to do". There's a large difference.) What a concept.

I've about run out of gold wire for the linked jade necklace I've sporadically been working on. I've got plenty of jade nuggets left, but pending more time and more wire, I've attached a toggle clasp so I can wear it as a choker today and at Worldcon if I'm in a jade mood there. Knitting-wise I'm taking both the shawl and the sock projects. These new contacts seem to make close vision even more difficult - I was working by feel and blur in the necklace the other day when I had them in - so the sock may be tricky with them in. I may take my most of my beading gear there to, because of the presence of Elise and a good few of her acolytes. (The one case that holds most of it will fit in the my behind-seat storage.)

Girly TMI under the cut

This has been the first full month on a new birth control prescription - it was prescribed a couple of months ago but I had a pack of the old stuff to finish out and didn't want to be trying new meds while doing all that strenuous traveling. (Good thing, as it turned out; I had enough health issues otherwise.) They've had one disquieting effect: I starting bleeding two days later than expected. That's not much under nonmedicated circumstances, but it's a hell of a long time for me on the pill. I was pretty sure there was no reason for the delay than the change in hormones; somehow I just thing I'd know if I were really no longer a single-person domicile. still, it was a bit weird, especially since this isn't necessarily the best time for an unplanned pregnancy. (Not the worst in some ways, but not the best.) It finally started today, though not until I'd checked with a test I happened to have on hand. Still bad timing, because now I have to bring paraphernalia to Worldcon, but that's not a major issue, especially with the Diva cup. It's just a little annoying because I know from experience my gut tends to be a little more iirritable at these times.

Posted by dichroic at 02:12 PM

August 23, 2006

countdown to WorldCon

Having done a bit of useful reading up on the subject, I'm now feeling a bit more confident on what to bring to Worldcon. (M'ris's comment in that thread was partcularly useful on what to wear.) A detour to REI also helped, though that was more a matter of using the con to justify stuff I wanted than actually needing anything - spectacularly comfortable shoes that can be worn even with skirts, barefoot in summer and sith heavy socks in winter are always handy. (Rumor has it they'll be half-price this weekend - if so I can go get a refund for the difference.) I'll be bringing shorts, tank tops, a fleece pullover, possibly jeans if I have room, and a couple of very lightweight and comfortable dresses that fold into nothing. One of them I don't get to wear often because it's shockingly scarlet and quite clingy, in a suck-in-that-gut kind of way. I'll try to remember to suck it in and if not I figure it's a forgiving sort of group. If I have room I'll bring a long very full skirt that's fun to wear and the halter top I never get to wear with it (RenFaire purchase). Otherwise, I'll bring a bag or backpack I can carry around if I want something to carry books and water in. I'll bring only a couple of books that are book on my TBR list and by authors who will be there, in case I get a chance to get them signed. (I'd like to buy other books I've been wanting while there - I assume Farthing and Lies of Locke Lamora and Swordspoint won't be hard to find there. ) Pretzels and Luna bars, maybe grapes or bananas and probably cereal; gatorade and water - I'd be bringing those anyway for the drive, but I'll bring extra after what I've read because it sounds like getting properly fed and hydrated can be challenging. A lot of my handmade jewelry so I can choose what to wear and show it off. My PDA because there was a handy app to load the Program onto it. A laptop if I can fit it. And of course stuff like toiletries, iPod, cellphone and charger.

I'll be taking the little car, because I don't really trust my ten year old pickup for 12 hours of driving through the desert (it's in good shape but I worry) and I have no desire to deal with either fueling or parking Rudder's behemoth. That means I have NO trunk space and just a very little storage area behind the seats. I'll have to take my smallest suitcase and put it in the passenger footwell, and I can't take any but the tiniest cooler. It worked fine for the JournalCon trip, for about the same length drive.

I need to decide whether to bring the big shawl I'm knitting or start a pair of socks, for portability. Hopefully no one will mind if I knit during panels, especially since because I only use circs, the needle part is only a few inches loing anf there are no stabbing issues.

So now packing is more or less decided, my big worry is that the whole experience will be sort of meh. I mean, I expect that I'll go to lots of interesting panels, readings and kaffeeklatches, and the people-watching should be entertaining. I was excited to learn that there are a couple of people I do know who are going, and there are a few people who will probably recognize my nom from LJ. But all of those are authors or people very plugged in to the fannish world, and while I'll certainly say go be friendly, I expect they'll all have lots of people they're looking forward to spending time with and I won't be a limpet. I could easily see this being a weekend of lots of time (in a crowd but essentially) alone interrupted by a couple of hugs and a lot of two-line conversations. Oh well. No way to find if I'm wrong, or to meet people in case I want to go again, but to go and see.

Obsessing about what clothes to pack is far easier.

I had the same worries about JournalCon and had an extremely pleasantly social time there - but then again, it was smaller by literally two orders of magnitude. It should help, at least, that I'm not shy about talking to strangers.

I'm not looking forward to the driving through LA part, either - that's just never fun. But I'll survive that part.

Posted by dichroic at 03:12 PM

August 22, 2006

not whining

There are too many people in my life who won't let me wimp out.

I know, I know, this is a good thing, makes me live up to my own standards and all that. I wouldn't want it any other way, at least not if you ask me when I'm rested. Still, they can't stop me from griping about it and I'm tired and I'm gonna. Besides, I've erged 41 kilometers in the past three days and if that doesn't entitle a girl to whinge, I don't know what does.

I was supposed to row a double with She-Hulk this morning (her boat, since all our ours are now in storage several states away). But I'd been watching the weather forecasts, it was supposed to be hot today - a low in the high 80s and humidity up a bit. Honestly, it was probably no worse, or at least not much worse, than our second row last week - but last week's row was definitely on the warm side too. She knows as well as anyone that I don't do well in heat, having been there for last month's heat exhaustion that led into the Forever Virus. When I called to ask if she'd mind terribly if we didn't row, she suggested we commit to erging 15 km (each) instead - the distance of three laps around our lake. (Note that she and I had done two laps each day last week. I usually only do two, though she and Rudder do three.)

I weakly agreed. I couldn't think of a good reason to do less, especially since it's what I ought to do. Rudder's annual erg marathon is next month and I'm only mostly sure I won't be doing it this year. Just in case I do, and because I need to build my strength and stamina back up, I need to be doing more distance now anyway.

As it happened, this was a very good day not to row - there were lightning and rain this morning, which is unsual out here where monsoon storms are usually confined to evening. And yes, I did do my 15K this morning.On a workday. Before breakfast, even - does that only count as one impossible thing or can I break it up and count it as five?

(NOTE: Technically speaking, the above is a complaint, not a whine. Whining is against club rules, as defined in our charter.)

Posted by dichroic at 02:13 PM

August 21, 2006

meeting old and new friends

Rudder is gone for another month and my life has shifted into neutral again. Quiet mode, anyway. Except that I have Worldcon to look forward to this weekend. I'll miss the first couple of days. I'm taking Friday off so I can get there midway through the day instead of late at night, and then will need to leave early enough on Sunday so I'm not driving when my body wants to be sleeping. (Six hour solo drive through the desert, best not to be too dozy.) I will have the iPod and the satellite radio so I'm spoiled for entertainment.

The very good news is that, in addition to a couple of people from online I'm looking forward to meeting and the authors I want to fangirl at (from a respectful distance) (in some cases the two categories merge), there will be at least one and probably two people I already know there. One is an old friend of my brother's from his writing list whom I may have met more times in the flesh and certainly in more places than he has, and the other is an old and treasured friend from college - knowing that he's an active con-goer I finally thought to look him up on the membership list, and he's listed. I've sent him an email to make sure.

The other place where I'm delightedly meeting up with old friends and acquaintances, though in a less corporeal milieu, is in Baring-Gould's Annotated Sherlock Holmes. They are writers and book collecters, in most cases both, and of course all are Sherlockians. Christopher Morley is all over the place, and Dorothy L. Sayers pops in for frequent appearances. Madeleine Stern, the book collector, has apparently speculated extensively on Holmes' passion for collecting, and one of Doyle's early manuscripts was donated to the UT library by Frederic Dannay. Manly Wade Wellman and Anthony Boucher are also well represented. Poul Anderson. Jacques Barzun. Fletcher Pratt. About the only Sherlockian I haven't seen in evidence yet is Isaac Asimov; possibly his Baker Street Irregular days postdate Baring-Gould. (I'm actually a bit surprised at how recent the book is (1960) considering Baring Gould himself made an appearance in one of Laurie R. King;'s Homes/Russell stories inthe 1920s.)

Posted by dichroic at 01:13 PM

August 20, 2006

shopping ordeal

That was a complicated and long-drawn-out shopping endeavor.

1. Decided not to buy online because the combination of shipping and sales tax was something like 20% of the price of the actual clothes. Was considering two shirts, one pair corduroy pants, one vest. Debated about whether the second shirt was really necessary (or the vest, for that matter).

2. Went to mall. Store in mall does not carry petites. Tried on items anyway. Too long but otherwise fitting. Could have bought vest in store because petite size is not essential in something without arms or legs, but they didn't have color I wanted.

3. Tried to order via phone in store - they ship directly to your house but don't charge for shipping. (I don't understand this.)

4. Realized catalog in store was not the very latest (because it's one of those companies that sends out a barrage of catalogs at the start of each season) and didn't have some of the items I wanted.

5. Spoke to helpful salesman who showed me other catalog. Second catalog still didn't have items I wanted.

6. Realized first catalog had offer for free shipping. Asked if I could take one. (They had a stack.)

7. Came home and ordered online with code from catalog. I'm not sure the $15 I saved was worth all that time.

8. Reallized later that store not only didn't have vest in color I wanted, their vests were in entirely different colors than those in caalog / online. Odd.

On the plus side, I'm glad I went. I looked in a bunch of other stores and decided that yes, this particular onne had what I wanted. More important, I'd had trouble persuading myself to get up and go, having erged a half-marathon earlier, and it was good for me to walk around for a while.

Posted by dichroic at 07:55 PM

charged for the privilege

Shopping online is becoming much less appealing. I blame Congress. Seriously - I've just aborted two different online purchases from two different stores because the combination of shipping and handling and sales tax was in one case $20 for an $80 purchase and in the other $30 - including a $3 "delivery charge" - for a $150 purchase. Granted both purveyors have brick-and-mortar stores in the mall a mile and a half from me, but in one case I was trying to buy a jacket from last year's line that is marked down nearly 75%. They don't have it on the store's sale rack, because I looked last week. In the other case, the store has recently been cut to half its previous size (maybe their north woods style doesn't play well in Arizona?) and I don't know whether they carry many petites any more.

It may be possible to order these items in the store and have them shipped either to the store or to me without paying shipping. I'll have to decide if I want the itmes enough to bother. I certainly don't want them badly enough to pay a 25% premium for the "privilege" of being allowed to shop online.

It was a bad day for the taxpayer when it was decided that online and catalog purchases were subject to sale tax. Before, it was just a matter of debating the balance between shipping and sales tax. Now I feel lilke I'm being penalized for looking for convenience.

Posted by dichroic at 09:52 AM

August 18, 2006

bouncing on sunshine

I am having a good, good day. First and most, there is the Rudder, or at least the prospect of him when I get home from work. Last time he was home, two weeks ago, he got in late (well, after my bedtime) on Thursday night, and left early Saturday morning. I was still having some symptoms, and he was jetlagged, and all was not quite moonlight and roses. This time, he got to the boatyard around 5. I met him to unload boats (not ours, which were left in Oregon with his parents, but a couple others he was transporting). The we went home to reacquaint ourselves with each other and let the restaurants empty out a bit, and went out to a restaurant whose food is good and whose decor is the most beautiful in the area. The only drawback was finding I'd lost the opal from my body jewelry, probably either while changing into shorts before leaving work or while unloading the boats.

This morning there was wish-we-didn't-have-to-go-work brief snuggling. Then when I got to work I remembered to go check the ladies room and found my opal on the floor just outside it, a tiny white speck nestled in the rug that I almost didn't see. I'd been disappointed to *still* have no news when I checked my email before leaving from work, having been tols I'd probably hear by the end of the week, but just in case, I restrained myself until 9AM (6PM Dutch time) checked again via webmail, and ..... I have news! (News!!!!) Real news with real numbers and details, and the news is good! We'd also gotten a small bit of news that Rudder's contract will be a slightly different kind than originally planned, one that will be in our favor. I can't make any actual announcements yet because we stll don't have details for him, but I can say that the likelihood of our lives going as we'd wish (Europewards!) is now quite high.

It's just killing me not to be able to make real announcements and even more, to make them at work. Good thing I sit on a Swiss ball instead of a chair so I can bouncebouncebounce when no one's looking. (Bouncebouncebouncebounce.) And even better, I have a Rudder until Sunday morning! (More bouncing.)

Posted by dichroic at 12:30 PM

August 17, 2006

probably best not to ask what's in it...

I'm gettin' a bit tonight, tonight,
I'm gettin' a bit tonight,
I'm gettin' a bit tonight, tonight,
I'm gettin' a bit tonight,
Me mother says I must be quick,
If I'm to have the Spotted Dick,
I 'aven't 'ad any since Easter but
I'm gettin' a bit tonight!

The above ditty is about a type of pudding, really, though admittedly Spotted Dick is not an appealing name for a food item. It is entirely coincidental that Rudder is coming home tonight and this is the song running through my head. It would be even better if he weren't leaving again in under a week. I have a feeling a lot of his time at home will be spent recuperating, actually. He did do well in Masters Nationals, and will be returning home with two silver and one bronze medal - not a lot of clinkage, until you remember how high the level of competition is at Nationals.

I've kind of adjusted to being on my own, which is good since his next trip is a long one. My main problems now are the worry over that drip from the roof the other day, though it hasn't reappeared, and the fact that the cat has decided, apparently from watching Rudder wake up at 4 all these rowing mornings, that as the only male in the house it's his job to be the alarm clock. Unfortunately he seems to believe that 2 or 3AM is a perfectly fine time to wake me up. Petting him shuts him up, but I wish he'd save the neediness for when I'm already awake. I don't think he really likes being an only cat, but this is really not a good time for us to acquire a new kitten or two. But try explaining anything to a cat.

Oh, and thanks to all those who recommended the British version of What Not to Wear - unfortunately, my local cable provider doesn't seem to carry BBC America, which would account for why I hadn't seen it.

Posted by dichroic at 03:16 PM

August 16, 2006

it just popped out

I blame Baring-Gould. I picked up the two-volume set of his Annotated Sherlock Holmes last winter at a huge local book sale, and have finally gotten around to reading it. (I've enjoyed meeting my old friend Christopher Morley again -I hadn't realized he was such a pivotal Sherlockian.) I'd also been thinking that it's about time for a rereading of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Apparently the two heterodyned.

The results are here.

It was a bit odd, actually, for this non-fiction-writing type, as I was thinking about it at the gym this morning. (Also, I went to the gym this morning. Go me.) At first I thought there was a short simple drabble (basically the part with the multiple Memory Charms). I was just going to write that up and post it here or on my LJ. Then I saw there was a much bigger story to be told about what happened next, and I knew I didn't have the skills to write that. Finally, I saw how the first one fit together with the part I was most interested in of the second, to form a short story I could write that actually happens before the second story referenced above. Even though it's set earlier, I think it shows the reader enough to see what's likely to happen next.

That second story could still be written; it would be a mystery-adventure to which this vignette would be prologue. But I don't feel any great need to write it; I don't have any ideas of what the mystery could be, and the parts of it I would be interested in are already strongly enough implied in the story linked above that they don't need to be spelled out further. The mystery part would have to be strong enough to stand on its own, and ... I don't know. I don't know how to do it and I don't particularly even want to. Not my story, I guess. Odd how that works. maybe not so much: most things aren't my story, given that I don't generally have any urge to write fiction at all. Maybe the mystery is why Watson's Task was mine to write. Whatever, it's not great literature but it was fun. I hope someone else enjoys it too.

Posted by dichroic at 02:16 PM

August 15, 2006


Well, that was fun. You know how I keep complaining that even though I'm essentially well now, random symptoms keep cycling around and popping up just so all the little viruses can let me know they're not dead yet? This afternoon it was the coughing, the ugly mostly nonproductive "hack until it hurts" kind of coughing. And afterwards it did hurt, not in my throat but in my chest. The causality seemed pretty clear, but chest pain is not something I'd had previously (I did have some a couple of days ago, but I'm pretty sure that was heartburn.) And any time the words "chest pain" come up, online or in an article or whatever, the next words are generally something like "DO NOT FUCK AROUND. GO SEE A DOCTOR, STAT." It seemed more like my lungs that were hurting, not anything heart related, but still, it hurt pretty bad. I generally prefer things not to hurt. Also, you know, Sergei Grinkov.

It seemed like the time to take advantage of working at a big company that keeps nurses stashed here and there, so I went and alarmed my boss unnecesarily to find out where the local one is stashed and went to see him. He checked my pulse and blood oxygen and blood pressure, listened to my lungs, and concurred that it was probably just the coughing, which might have bumped or separated some cartilage. He told me to come back tomorrow, when a doctor will be there, if it still hurts.

So it was nothing, but I do feel better for having gone and gotten reassured.. They say chest pain can be a result of a panic attack; I can certainly see where it could cause one instead.

Posted by dichroic at 05:03 PM

but I like it...

All right, all you commenters, if the BBC version of What Not to Wear is so much better, what network shows it in the US?

Actually I have a sneaking feeling that the tips from the US stylists, though they might not work for everyone, probably would suit me - short, more straight than shapely, work in an office. Blazers nipped in at the waist and stopping at high hip? Check. (Though cardigans are more comfortable.) Long trousers and pointy toes to elongate my legs? Check. (Though it's difficult to find the right fit - either they're short enough in the rise and stop just below my ankles or they're long enough in the leg and come up to my ribcage.) Skirts at kneelength? Check. Only problem, other than trying to find things that fit, is that I like miniskirts and floaty ankle-length skirts more than I do knee-length skirts (I'm a bit bowlegged.) I like the occasional blazer, but twin sets are more versatile and comfortable for the office, and I like fabulous pointy-toed shoes but I like walking boots as well, and you can actually walk in the latter. Though I'm short, I'm reasonably proportionate, and I don't particularly see why I should try to look taller. I'd rather be remembered as little but fierce. I try to come up with outfits that fit and are clean, that look like I did mean to wear those things together, and that keep me covered enough to be decent for whatever environment I'm in (of course, that's very different depending whether I'm in a pool, in the grocery, or in the office).

I suspect the result is that some days I look like I'd rather be hiking, some days I look like I rather be at Woodstock or the Renfaire, or in a ballet class, or on a street corner selling papers in a newsboy cap circa 1928 (those would be the new knickers, yes). Or wearing elf ears in a Tolkien movie (all in tree-trunk brown today, I am). Actually, those are the good wardrobe days, because those days I've actively enjoying my clothes. Other good days are the ones when I look like I work in an office, but one that could be out of Sex and the City, and the clothes could be described as "fabulous". It's the days when I can only manage "professional" that I'm bored with my clothes.

Meanwhile, I wish I could be bored with my house. Unfortunately at the moment it's a bit too exciting. Last night I noticed water running off the roof from one spot for a while, then it stopped. It's either condensate from one of the A/C units, which means the drainpipe is blocked (only one, because the bucket it's suppose to empty into has definitely been filling up) or the water supply to the solar water heater is leaking, which is more of a problem. My hot water supply seems to be fine, but at the moment, water from the cold tap is plenty warm enough to shower in, so that's no guide. The water drip was not hot, so at least it's not heated water leaking. Unfortunately the pump to the solar heater wasn't on this morning after I showered (the supplemental electric heater is set to be on at the time we normally shower) so I couldn't check it. Last night when I noticed the problem, I had just run the hot water for a while washing the dishes, so the pump could have been on then. I didn't check until later, when it was off, and by then the drip had also stopped. On the other hand the A/C units cycle on and off depending on temperature, and it's been extremely humid (for us) so there's been lots of condensation. Hopefully tonight I will be able to tell.

Posted by dichroic at 03:26 PM

August 14, 2006

how to run your life, TV-style

I've been watching far too much TV while Rudder is away. This has a lot to do with getting sole custody of the remote; generally when he's around he flips through all the channels five times in a row then settles on either MythBusters (which I don't mind) or some lousy movie. He has a much higher tolerance for bad movies than I do; I'm not even all that interested in good ones. Normally when he has the TV on I more or less ignore it in favor of a book, and often when he's gone I don't turn it on for a week at a time. This time, though, I have been watching, partly to have another voice around and partly because I seem to have a very large tolerance for certain types of reality shows - thmostly ones about houses and clothes. The problem is, I turn out to be very suggestible, and now I have unprecedented levels of concern for staging my house and wearing clothing with defined waists and shoes with pointy toes. Last night I watched Miami Ink (about a tattoo studio); I think prehaps I'd better skip that one from now on, before I do something irrevocable.

I do have some reservations about What Not to Wear, though I enjoy seeing the clothes. The show has some strong points, especially in the way they compliment the beautiful figures of women of a variety shapes, and in the way they try to make sure each one has clothes that fit and flatter. However, they don't seem to allow much for different needs of different professions or regions. I don't think I've ever had a schoolteacher who wore a suit to work, yet they recommend them all the time, with high heels thrown in. They complained aboiut someone who "always dressed like she was going hiking" - not such a problem for someone who lives in Seattle. And they complain about people dressing too casually for the grocery store. As long as clothes are relatively clean and not so tight or skimpy as to show more an anyone wants to see, I hadn't thought there was such a thing as too casual for the grocery store.

Id also be curious to see their attitude toward pantyhose. In most cities, it's considered unprofessional to go without hose (or tights) under a skirt unless you're in a very casual office. We don't do that here. You will very rarely see a woman in hose in a Phoenix-area office, and if you do it's either because she's new here or because she's more comfortable that way (for support reasons, perhaps, or because she doesn't like wearing sandals to work and likes a liner in her shoes).

She-Hulk and I were talking about this last night. She's her own boss, and has a job where she's driving around a lot, and walking in and out of air-conditioned buildings. At least in the warmer months, her work outfits are usually something like a sleeveless sweater with shorts, longer ones that are mid-though or knee-length. I don't remember her shoes, but they're neither sneakers not high heels - probably low-heeled leather sandals. I've never seen her in any anything very tight, rowing uni excepted, and I've never seen her in shorts shorts or a low neckline. Shhe tends to wear neutral colors. To my mind, she dresses professionally and unobtrusively. I suspect Stacy and Clinton would have her in a dress. I'm trying to imagine it.

(Actually it's not that hard - but it would be a linen sheath, not the patterned sundresses with cinched waists they tend to push. And a sheath is a bit less maneuverable than shorts!)

Posted by dichroic at 01:33 PM | Comments (1)

August 11, 2006

in other news, there isn't any

After a week or so of finally feeling reasonably well, I woke up this morning with a sore throat, and had enough gunk in my throat to lead to some unpleasant moments this morning. I had better not be sick still; one other possibility is that I may have just gotten a piece of popcorn husk caught in my throat. (Does that happen to other people or only to me?)

Rudder has now done well enough in the heats to advance to finals in all of his races except for the mixed double; that one has so many competitors in the C age category (boat average age 42-49, I think - he's rowing with a former Olympian in her fifties) that there will be semifinal races later this afternoon.

Work's actually getting a little more interesting lately. Figures. In other news, there really isn't any. Rudder's still gone, and the plans for this weekend aren't that exciting except that I may go up to Flagstaff Sunday to do some volunteer work. Otherwise the major planned event is the half-marathon I really ought to erg tomorrow.

Assuming I'm not *&^$% sick, that is.

Posted by dichroic at 01:43 PM

in other news, there isn't any

After a week or so of finally feeling reasonably well, I woke up this morning with a sore throat, and had enough gunk in my throat to lead to some unpleasant moments this morning. I had better not be sick still; one other possibility is that I may have just gotten a piece of popcorn husk caught in my throat. (Does that happen to other people or only to me?)

Rudder has now done well enough in the heats to advance to finals in all of his races except for the mixed double; that one has so many competitors in the C age category (boat average age 42-49, I think - he's rowing with a former Olympian in her fifties) that there will be semifinal races later this afternoon.

Work's actually getting a little more interesting lately. Figures. In other news, there really isn't any. Rudder's still gone, and the plans for this weekend aren't that exciting except that I may go up to Flagstaff Sunday to do some volunteer work. Otherwise the major planned event is the half-marathon I really ought to erg tomorrow.

Assuming I'm not *&^$% sick, that is.

Posted by dichroic at 01:43 PM

August 10, 2006

racing, nesting

Rudder's just won his open race - it was only a heat with for the Men's double, C category (with another guy from here), but they were ahead by open water. Since this was a heat, that tells me that they probably weren't even really trying that hard. The top three advance to the final Saturday, so the real strenuous race is between thuird and fourth places. (Well, not in this particular case, where fourth place was way behind, but generally.) It's a four day regatta; the heats today and tomorrow advance to finals on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Not much going on here. I've been nesting in the evenings, knitting and reading comic books and watching TV shows like "While You Were Out" and "What Not to Wear". I have this vision of the people from the latter, twenty years from now when clumpy square-toed shoes are back in, being worn with oversized shorts and white socks or ankle-length skirts and big shirts, and these people are still wearing pointy shoes and fitted jackets over empire-waisted blouses because that's what they were told to wear. I've been enjoying not having to figure out what's for dinner that we both want and having sole custody of the remote control. I have been watching a lot more TV than usual, partly to get my knitting done and partly for company. It's a biggish house to rattle around in alone. The cat has been snugglier than usual and now will meow a couple of times an hour before the alarm goes off, then come to be petted and fall back asleep. It's not ideal - ideal would be coming to be petted before I go to sleep at night and then shutting up until the alarm goes off - but it's a big improvement over meowing every fifteen minutes for an hour, as he was doing.

I think I may take the Friday of Worldcon off, so I can get there in the early afternoon instead of at night. I'm mind-boggled by the amount of programming, with twenty or more things to do at any one time. Of course there are plenty of things I have no interest in, but I can see the choices will be difficult. Another difficult choice is what to wear. Choices range from jeans and a T-shirt to blend in, to something totally outrageous, like a long and wide silk skirt with a midriff-and-cleavage bearing top that I bought with it as a RenFaire costume (sort of a belly-dancer look) just because I can and I suspect no one will bat an eyelid at it. I suspect I end up bringing clothes I just enjoy wearing, which will probably range from outre to overalls. I'm still a little worried about not really knowing anyone there other than a few LiveJournal contacts, though.

Posted by dichroic at 02:13 PM

August 08, 2006

minor annoyances

  1. How do things disappear so thoroughly inside my house? Specifically, I'm thinking of my nostepinne and the big tote bag I sometimes use to take my knitting places; it has occurred to me that they may have run off together.
  2. Some people ought not to be permitted to use public or semi-public restrooms. Specifically, though would be the ones who don't clean up after themselves. (Exceptions made for people just learning to use a toilet, but then they need to bring a parent with them.) I will kindly spare you the description.
  3. After the third time a service person on the phone asks me to spell my name, if it's not just a bad connection, is it OK to say "Excuse me, could you please transfer me to someone smarter?"
  4. In some ways it may be a good thing my boat isn't here. They've caught one of our local serial killers, as you may have heard, but the other is on the loose still. Someone emailed me today that he's been targeting "women of small stature, white or Hispanic, with brown hair". Yes, that would be me. The boatyard is within his range, and it's dark and deserted at 5AM, especially since several of the rowing programs are on hiatus just now. And it pisses me off that I even have to think this way. (Actually, this one is not a minor annoyance.)
And one minor gratification: I went to the gym today, for the first time in a couple of months. I'd quit when I was tapering for the Gold Rush in May, never went back between that and the regattas in July, and then was sick forever. I don't seem to have lost too much in either strength or definition. I lifted weights one notch down from where I'd been, and if I go Thursday and once this weekend, I think I'll be back to where I was on most exercises. I felt OK while lifting, though I did feel pretty crappy afterward.
Posted by dichroic at 06:02 PM

Here's the thing about war: there's plenty of fault to go around. You can say that Israel is far from blameless here and I will agree. You can say that Hezbollah supports widows and orphans and has thereby built goodwill through the Arab world. On the other hand neither of those things wipe out that fact that Hezbollah has vowed to pursue both the destruction of the nation of Israel and the entirety of world Jewry, in so many words. That's not the sort of threat Israel can afford to ignore; it's also a level of shrill hatred that is unlikely to be in the least affected by diplomacy. Israel had to take action. Does that make killing civilians OK? No. Was there another way to reach peace once Syria and Iran instructed Hezbollah to step up the attacks? I don't know.

Here's the other thing about war: sometimes there are no good answers.

That false dichotomy problem is actually a major issue of illogic. Black and white are opposites. Light and heavy are opposites. Good and bad are opposites. If a thing is more of one, it is less of the other. One thing those examples have in common is that they're all pairs of adjectives. Nouns are very rarely opposites. If I say that Israel isn't blameless, it doesn't take one jot of fault away from Hezbollah. Or, for a common US example, if I call George Bush an immoral, sophomoric, hypocritical slave of big money, that doesn't mean I'm praising Bill Clinton by extension.

it takes a long, long time for me to get tired of arguments usually, but I get tired of stupid ones pretty quick.

Posted by dichroic at 01:03 PM

August 07, 2006

assorted news and opinion

Assorted and random news:

  • My husband and boat are currently in Oregon. However I did sort of manage a half-marathon on the erg this weekend - 15km on Saturday and 6km on Sunday. I took this morning off after realizing I hadn't had an off day since Wednesday, but I wish I had decided that before setting the alarm and waking up to it at 5 AM.

  • Apparently there are fairy doors springing up in Ann Arbor.

  • I haven't talked much about the Israel-Lebanon war here, mostly because it leaves me at a loss for words. How can Israel not respond to terrorist attacks on their country? How can Lebanon simply "throw Hammas out of government", as some are calling for, if they were legally voted in? But it's worth noting that only 1 civilian was killed rather than 40 in the attack on Houla. Maybe it does pay to warn people. Meanwhile I grieve for the one, while I rejoice for the 39 whose deaths were greatly exaggerated. If casualties on both sides of a war were reported side by side instead o each side only reporting their own, or at best reporting in separate news articles, I wonder if the wars themselves would diminish? Perception may not equal reality, but often it influences it.

  • I have about two feet of the Trellis and Vine scarf done, but I keep having to be stern with myself to work on it. Partly that's just normal boredom with a long project, but another part is that the yarn I picked, while gorgeous and soft, just doesn't show this patteern well. I keep wanting to set it aside and start something else instead.

  • I have finished and submitted the wine cozy pattern - I'm calling it Wooldridge, after a winery in Oregon we visited, because the name seems so appropriate. I've started a second one, and plan to give both to my in-laws for Christmas, maybe with one of those chilling sleeves you put in the freezer. (Maybe one with said sleeve for white wines and one without for reds?)

  • I am hooked on these Marvel Essential collections. I bought Fantastic Four #4 and Uncanny X-Men #1 this weekend.

  • I'm not so impressed with the Phoenix Public Market. Smaller than I'd hopes, the veggies were OK but not spectacular, and the handspun yarn vendor had mostly bulky weight stuff that wasn't too appealing in an Arizona August. Also I was stupid and drove the convertible, realizing only after I got there that I wouold have felt much safer leaving the pickup parked in a downtown lot.

  • I seem to be much more productive when Rudder's not around. I think part of that is not wasting energy on things that aren't my priorities and part of that is that deciding what to do is easier when there's only one person's preferences and appetites to consult. I miss him anyway, though.

So that covers Rudder, rowing, politics, knitting, books, and local news. What else do I write about anyway?

One thing I've been thinking about is women who stay at home to take care of kids or just because they want to. (Not including those who have jobs where they work from home for a salary; that's a different situation.) In theory I'm all for the right to make choices, for women or men. Actually, I think sometimes men get shafted. I worked in one place where it was rumored that it was much easier for women to negotiate part-time work, because it was assumed they were caring for children, than for men. Even if the men were caring for children, even if the women weren't. My other caveat comes from a show I watched the other day. It was a reality show centered around helping people with bad financial skills get on track, and on this episode there was a woman and her fiancee who were living with her father, without paying rent. The woman was a SAHM "because I'm not going to go work at a job I hate, just to make money". The fiancee worked a whopping nine hours per week. Meanwhile the woman's father was working two jobs and going into debt to support this family.

Now, I agree that childcare is an important job and so is many other that doesn't pay, and I have a lot of respect for those who do it well. If you decide you can do it best by being at home full-time, more power to you, and if you sacrifice luxuries or spend a lot of time figuring out how to stay within your budget I'll respect you all the more. I know that often a stay-at-home's time and ingenuity can contribute immensely to the family budget. (Same goes for those who stay at home to pursue other non-monetary work.) But if you have kids, and they are not fed or clothed adequately - not in designer gear, but in functional clothing - just because you're worried you "won't like" an outside job, you forfeit any respect. If you survive by mooching off of someone else's hard work, the same goes. I'm not talking about a partner, who has participated in the decision to have one person stay home; that person is presumably benefiting by having the best care for his or her children or by having the house well-kept and comfortable. Or maybe he / she's just benefiting from having a happy and more serene spouse, having decided that the family has enough money to get by on one income. Whatever; it's having a say that counts. But when you mooch off someone who doesn't get a say in the matter that's dishonorable. And it raises my esteem all the more for those who struggle with the decision and do what they must, whatever it is, to care for themselves and their families.

Posted by dichroic at 12:54 PM

August 03, 2006

small annoyances

Working from home today turned out to be a good call. I'm back at the coughing shit up stage, and that ugly little dry-heaving episode was much better to have had here than at work. Sigh. Also, I got a whole buch of work done I've been sort of staring vaguely at for a few days.

My wine cozy has felted quite nicely. Now I just have to write it up, submit it, and make another one (not because of the submission, but because I want another one to give away). The submission is complicated because the online magazine where I had tentatively planned to send it seems to require you to have someone else "test-knit" it. Seems odd, because the other places don't require that, and also it's just not going to happen before their deadline. I sent them an email yesterday asking about it, but have not heard back yet. The patterns they're currentlyl showing don't seem to have a test-knitter listed, so there may be wiggle-room. If they really do require a test-knitter, I'll either submit elsewhere or just publish the pattern here. (Or submit elsewhere and publish here if they reject it).

Rudder gets home tonight, yay! However, he called earlier to tell me the plane was late and he missed his connection, so it really will be tonight rather than late this afternoon as originally planned. Boo.

Posted by dichroic at 03:15 PM

August 02, 2006

I already have an alarm clock, thanks

Oh, yes. Also, I need to complain about the cat, but I'd forgotten until MaryAnn reminded me. I don't know whether he's updet because Rudder's away or what, but the cat is into one of his periodic phases of Helping the Humans by doing his best imitation of an alarm clock. He's been yowling at me around the time he thinks I should wake up - actually it's not yowling, really. It's more conversational than that:

"Meerp-meerp?" (Time to wake up, now!)
"Mreerp!" (I said wake UP, dammit.)
"Reerp-Meerp-mreep!" (OK, I let you sleep another fifteen minutes when you asked, but your snooze time is UP, woman, and it's time to FEED THE CAT. You cannot be late to FEED THE CAT. There is no more important time of day! Get up get up get UP NOW!!)

Shush cat and repeat. This wouldn't be that bad, at the appropriate time; however, his time sense is off, so that he's generally up to half an hour earlier than when he thinks I should get up. Worse, because cats are creatures of habit, he thinks if I woke up yesterday at 4AM to go row, then that is the traditions and I should do exactly the same thing today too, even if I'd planned today today to be my off day, my big chance to sleep in all the way to 6AM. The first day, I thought it was my own fault, because I'd thrown out the old bag of cat food, and had emptied his bowl and not refilled it. Not that he'd starve over the course of one night, after havbing had food all day, but he believes in being sure on these issues, and if the bowl was empty, he'd be convinced starvation was Imminent. But he's been doing this every morning since Rudder left, and to a lesser extent before that as well.

I can't just shut him out of the room. For one thing, our room is the hottest part of the house because it has mostly external walls, and without an open door and a fan blowing in it would be too hot to sleep comfortably. Also, his little box is in our bathroom (in the tub we never use because we have a separate shower). While I could move the little box out, even if I could tolerate the hear I think his response would just be to stand at the door and holler as loud as he can to get in.

Do they make cat muzzles?

Posted by dichroic at 03:29 PM

symptoms and yarn, yet again

The coughing thing is back, though a Fisherman's Friend drop seems to have quieted it significantly. It feels as though my symptoms aren't so much going away as cycling around and around; between sore throat, productive coughing, unproductive coughing (otherwise known as coughing shitup vs just coughing), and hoarseness. The only saving grace is that each time around they seem a little lessened.

Also, since I'm back at the coughing up a lung stage (or rather, since it's not as bad now, only coughing up part of a lung) I'm using this as a justification to work from home tomorrow. Yay for working from a comfy couch and avoiding the office environment! I seriously think my office building, an old one literally next to the airport, is a sick building. It's at the epicenter of Phoenix pollution. I really don't think it's what's making me sick now, but it's probably not helping either.

Last night I did manage to get out on a weekday for once. On the first Tuesday of every month, the local wing of the city's not-called-Stitch-and-Bitch-anymore (it's a whole big and ugly copyright issue) meets at a wine shop / wine bar a mile from my house. There was much chatting, some helpful hints, and good Australian wine, and I have now finished knitting my wine cozy. Tonight I get to felt it. If it comes out well, I'm going to submit the pattern to one of the online knitting magazines. The next step is to decide which. Of the three possibilities, Knitty and Magknits actually pay for submissions. On the other hand, I'm afraid the pattern is too simple for Knitty, plus there's already a wine cozy (a different style) in their archives. For the Love of Yarn doesn't pay, at least not yet, but the editor is a friend and the pattern suits their magazine very well. (In case it does come out well enough to submit, I should probably avoid details.)

Once this is done, I will probably cast on for socks. I want to make something lacy but not too complicated. Depending on whether my gauge works out for it, it will probably be either Falling Leaves or something based on it (I want to try its toe and heel) but with a different lace pattern. I have two skeins of sock yarn. That one will be for me. The other will probably be for my father-in-law, because I realized he's the only one of our four parents I haven't knit anything for, and I think those may be the plain version of Widdershins. I also want to cast on the supersoft alpaca/silk blend I bought for another Clapotis, even though the shawl I'm working on is only about 2' (of 5) along. However, given the time of year and the (lack of) speed of my knitting it might be better to concentrate on things I want to give other people this December instead of anything for myself. That includes the aforementioned socks, another wine cozy (if I like this one) and gloves for Rudder.

Posted by dichroic at 01:24 PM

July 28, 2006

your life, in 60 kg or less

Here's an interesting and nonhypothetical question. Say you were contemplating a move that required serious downsizing - to a place half the size of your current house. Say further that you were told you could take 60 kilos of your stuff. (The new place is furnished.) The rest of your gear will go into storage. What would you take?

Another way to put that is, how many clothes and books fit into 60 kilos, and what else do you need? That's a bit more than I weigh, but while I can visualize a 60-kilo person, I don't have a good idea how much stuff that is.

You also have whatever suitcases you carry with you. You could pay to send more stuff if you want, but it's expensive - the US Postal Service charges about $50 for a 20 kilo box, if you don't mind waiting a few weeks. (There are probably cheaper ways to ship freight.) It may be cheaper to buy some things new after you move but you don't want to waste money on duplication. Plus you have good reason to want to save as much of your money as possible, either for travel in your new place or for whatever happens next.

So what do you take? Clothes are fairly easy. You leave all the stuff you keep only for sentimental reasons, or that you hardly ever wear. You take your favorite clothes, and the stuff most suited to the climate and to what you'll be doing. Easy. You need your home computer, of course - what does a computer weigh? At least ours has a flat monitor. Or do you replace it with a laptop?

If you're me, you take your beading gear. That's small and light - it won't quite fit in one case, but two will leave plenty of space for expansion, and these cases are only about 12"x12"by6". You leave the odds and ends of yarn but take the knitting needles and any yarn you have enough of to make something. Yarn is light, too.

But what about the books? Apparently plenty of people relocate without books but I can't even imagine that. Say you have 30 kilos left, what books can you part with for a year or three? The textbooks, those won't hurt to leave. The dictionary and thesaurus and maybe even the omniscient New York Public Library Desk Reference, because their information is available online. All the coffee table books, the ones that were gifts or were on sale cheap, because you hardly ever read those and they're heavy and bulky. Maybe all the comic collections - they have a low content-to-weight ratio.

Some things obviously need to come along, because they have an extremely high entertainment-to-weight ratio: the single volume containing 7 Jane Austen novels. The complete Aubrey and Maturin novels in 5 volumes - this is exactly why I bought it. Either the Norton Anthology of Poetry or the Oxford Book of English Verse, though probably not both. The Complete Pooh (the Milne books, not the Disney ones). Maybe Barzun's extremely dense From Dawn to Decadence, which I bought in Korea in 2002 and still have only half-finished. Maybe the Steven Jay Goulds.

Then there are the things I love too much to leave behind. The hardcover of Freedom and Necessity. The few LM Alcotts I own (because I've read the others so many times I don't need to own them) and all of the LM Montgomerys - the latter fortunately almost all in paperback. The Harry Potter hardcovers - or maybe not, this would be a good time to buy the English editions in paperback. All of the Dorothy Sayers, which are mostly beat up paperbacks. The set of Dark is Rising paperbacks.

But then what else? The obvious answers are to weight it heavily toward paperbacks, and to leave behund anything I've only read once, because anything I don't reread I don't like all that much. But that still leaves a wide and varied field.

What would you take?

Posted by dichroic at 01:22 PM

July 27, 2006

And the results are in

Apparently I don't have mono. No, I just have some other virus that causes low energy, low-grade fever, clogged sinuses, sore throat, and low appetite and that hangs on forever. The low energy and appetite were just the first week or so, though. My tonsils are still swollen, but now they've gone back to hurting when I swallow. For some reason, swallowing hurts much, much more when I wake up in the middle of the night than it does during the day - right now it hurts, but not badly. What has been really annoying is that my tongue has been very sore for several days now. When I look at it in the mirror, it's got little bumps sprinkled over it, like some of the papillae have gotten enlarged. I've never heard of any illness causing a sore tongue - Google has, but they mostly seem to involve ulcers rather than tiny bumps. I thought at first maybe I'd burned it, but it's lasted too long and covers too much of my tongue to be that. It's an annoyance rather than a major problem, but that and the painful swallowing do make eating a fairly unrewarding experience.

Atfer I complained that the cafeteria has only vanilla pudding and low-cal chocolate frozen custard, then grabbed a plate of fries to go with my soup, the Cubemate pointed out that I seemed to be craving fats. Probalby true, but I've been craving cold food as well - a large part of last night's dinner was an experimental smoothie Rudder made and froze. (Not a complete success.) Giventhe combination of cravings, it's clear that what I really need to do is stop and pick up some ice cream or sorbet on my way home. It's a virus; they can't give me meds to fix everything. I figure ice cream is as likely to be the cure as anything else. And even if not I'll enjoy the process.

The doctor also told me that it's OK to race this weekend, but I should avoid getting dehydrated or overheated. Hm. Racing in Tempe. In July. During daylight, without getting overheated. How is that supposed to work?

Posted by dichroic at 12:43 PM | Comments (2)

July 25, 2006


Arlen Spector is trying to enable Congress to sue George Bush. We do live in historic times.

Speaking of historic times, here's a take on the Israel / Hezbollah conflict from a current Israeli soldier. It comforts me greatly to know that at least some of the people involved think about the human lives on both sides.

In less historic matters, I have taken the plunge and bought a membership to Worldcon in LA, so barring sudden drama or disaster I will be going.

Posted by dichroic at 05:12 PM

I may have what?

So I went to my doctor today. And guess what I may have? Guess what she ordered a blood test for, that may account for my having been ill for over two weeks, with symptoms at various times including sore throat, swollen tonsils, low-grade fever, swollen lympg glands, lack of appetite and lack of energy?

Yup. I may have mononucleosis. Again.

On the positive side, though it does tend to come in waves, I really feel like I'm on the downside of the illness. I'm eating normally again and have something approaching my normal level of energy. Rowing on Sunday was only an issue because of the heat, and I did 6K this morning, with a couple of harder 1km pieces in there. I did have a little trouble with the swollen tonsils whenever I was breathing hard past them, but otherwise no problems. And I had some wine with dinner last night, with no issues. (Come to think of it, that may mean it isn't mono. For a while after I had mono the first time, I was a very cheap date. Alcohol affected me pretty drastically for a few months after I was officially better.)

If it is mono, it's not nearly as bad as the first time I had it, in the summer after my freshman year. That time it really knocked me out, keeping me at home for a solid month. Even after I was pronounced better, I didn't have much energy for months; I had a lousy job rating for the fall semester then suddenly a much better one in spring. Other than the tonsils, I really feel pretty much back to normal.

Mono can vary a lot, though, so it's possible I just have a much lighter case. the doctor said my spleen didn't feel swollen. She pointed out that since I have had it before, I likely have some immunity built up. And in general, my immune system is in much better shape now. I weigh fifteen pounds or so more. I get eight hours of sleep a night instead of six, I eat much better now (not being limited to Dining Service food), and I'm stronger and in better aerobic shape. (I think. I worked out much less then, but walked a lot more.)

I went for the blood test right after the doctor's appointment. (Didn't doctors used to take blood right there in their offices? I don't know if they tested it themselves or sent it out, but it seems odd that now I have to go to a lab to get stuck.) They said they'll have the results to my doctor in 2-3 days. Another possibility she mentioned was cytomegalovirus (CMV) but looking at how it's caught and how it manifests, that seems less likely. I suspect that "unidentified virus" is a contender, too. Given that the treatment for mono and CMV is basically "Wait until it goes away (well, for CMV just until symptoms fade) I don't suppose it makes much difference.

Rudder's not very happy with me, especially given the competitions and work travel he has coming up. Oddly, though, he seems to have gotten what I had and mostly thrown it off already. And the antibiotic seems to have helped him. It's possible I had more than one thing, as well; the doctor mentioned that mono is accompanied by strep 20% of the time. Still, it's not likely to have been strep, if only because if Rudder had had that, we've have known. Because of a kidney condition, it hits him very hard and can be serious.

The other worrying possibilities with mono are that it could ramp up again, since it apparently goes in waves, and that you're not supposed to exercise with it due to the possibility of rupturing your spleen. Since the doctor says I don't have an enlarged spleen, I don't think I'll worry about that for the moment. I certainly didn't work out during the more acute phase of this - the disease took care of that for itself.

More details in 2-3 days. I'm actually betting on "unidentified virus", myself.

Posted by dichroic at 01:32 PM | Comments (3)

July 24, 2006

bye bye boat

Grah. My tonsils are still very swollen. They don't hurt much most of the time, but when I sneeze there tends to be a little whimpering thereafter. It's now 15 days since I first got sick.I'm going to the doctor again tomorrow morning (my regular one this time) because this is ridiculous and I'm very tired of it.

On the plus side, I feel OK otherwise and this weekend actually featured some normal activity: I went to the mall, we went out to eat last night, and I got in a boat for the first time since my race two weeks ago. We have a small local sprint race next week, and I'll be racing in a double with someone I've never rowed with before. I hadn't really wanted to race at all, because racing during daylight hours in July in Phoenix strikes me as a profoundly stupid idea (which tells you what I think of the guy who organized this race). But it's only 500 meters and very low-pressure, so Rudder realized it would be a good time to build experience for some of our less-experienced local people. He set up several doubles with one more experienced and one less experienced racer. I couldn't bring myself to turn down the chance to do that sort of mentoring. And as I said, it's a quick race. I may take a separate car so I can leave right after the race instead of staying through the whole regatta. (Have I mentioned I don't do well in heat? More than a couple hundred times?) Then again, they're actually predicting temps below 100 (and thus well below this past weekend, which ranged from 112 to 118) so I'll stay if the heat doesn't bother me too much.

The whole moving to Europe thing is beginning to seem a little more real, but still nothing's definite. Rudder will be doing a lot of traveling there in the next couple of months, plus his trip to Seattle for Masters Nationals in mid-August. (I've elected not to go because I don't have enough vacation time and don't want to burn that I do have until things are definitely definite.) On his way back from the regatta, he'll be dropping off our boats to live in his parents' garage for the duration, so I will only have my boat here to row for another two weeks. I'm going to miss it. I may sniffle. (I'm going to miss Rudder too, especially since one of his trips is 4 weeks long. But I know he'll be coming back.) I may be able to borrow other people's boat to row in the interim, but it won't be the same.

Posted by dichroic at 12:58 PM

July 21, 2006

a hair piece

Hm. Thanks to a bit of serendity, I think I've just figured somethuing out.

(Warning: what follows is a totally shallow hair post, and also quite stupid in the sense of "It took you HOW long to figure that out?")

My hair is now long, enough (not to mention frizzy enough) to get in my way sometimes. Most recently I've noticed tendrils getting caught between my arm and body when I lean on something, which is not annoying but does feel odd. Also, several times this summer i've noticed that it can be hot, which I don't remember ever before for some reason. Because of all that and out of a desire to look at least vaguely professional, I often pull it back, either in a low ponytail or just the top half with a barrette. For regattas, I'll even sometimes do braids, because while they may look a little silly, they hold very well. However, I very rarely pull it all up into a bun or a French twist. I've more or less mistressed the knack of using a comb or hair fork which let me put it up both quickly and in a way that will stay put, but I don't don't like the way it looks very much. This has always seemed odd, because I tend to fluctuate between long and very shortl, and I think it looks all right short. You'd think "up" and "short" would have similar appearances, but no.

One thing I have realized for years is that when I have very short hair, I dress differently than when it's long. With short hair, I tend to wear more open necklines, fewer collars, and darker colors. The ideal top is black with a boatneck. That looks all right with long hair too, but the hair obscures the lines of the neckline. I wear lighter colors and collared shirts more often with long hair, just because I can and because I do like the look of fitted button-downs for work. Most of the clothes that work with short hair work with long hair, but not vice versa; when I have long hair I still wear the same clothes as with short hair but less often because more of my wardrobe begins to work well.

Today I happen to be wearing black and silver, a combination that always makes me feel good: a black sleeveless top with pale green accents, black stretch jeans, silver jewelry. I pulled my hair up just for variety, securing it with a wooden hair fork. The top is fitted, and because the jeans stretch, I feel a little like Catwoman. I could do a spinning roundhouse kick in these clothes, if I could do a spinning roundhouse kick at all. In other words, this is the perfect platonic ideal of a short-hair-friendly outfit for me. When I caught a glimpse in the mirror, I realized that I do look OK with my hair up with this outfit. It adds to the general lithe effect. ("Lithe" is a relative term and is only to be compared to the way I look at other times. Halle Berry I'm not.) So apparently, putting my hair up can be flattering, as long as I wear the same sort of clothes that look well with short hair.

You'd think that would have been intuitively obvious, but apparently my intuition has very large blind spots in some area.

Posted by dichroic at 01:07 PM

July 19, 2006

not silenced but improving

I'm a bit better today, though I still start coughing if I talk too much. It's been very interesting, actually, especially the end of last week when I had no voice at all or very little. It was frustrating not to be able to talk, the more so because I was in a country where English is a second language and so communication in both directions was impaired. That is, I couldn't read all the signs, and though most people in the Netherlands can speak English, since it's their second language they can't always express themselves with complete fluency. Plus I felt a little embarassed at the imbalance of effort, that they have to make all the accomodations for me because I can't speak the language in which they're most comfortable.

It had me thinking about the fairy tale about the seven swans, the one where seven brothers were turned into swans and their sister could not cry out of speak until she had sewn a shirt of nettles for each one. That was more appropriate as my voice came back and I could speak but knew I shouldn't for fear of making things worse again. Not to be able to communicate verbally for a couple of days was annoying, especially since it was a time when I had a lot to tell Rudder. I can't imagine being silent for years, when the constraint was self-imposed rather than physical. And yet it's not a totally improbable situation, just an exagerrated one. People silence themselves all the time on a particular topic or in a particular company, out of fear or shame or disgust or the feeling that no one's listening anyway. Most people have some topics they won't discuss, just for reasons of basic privacy or reticence. Other than those, I tend not to silence myself on any issue I care about, but in my case, I think it has less to do with bravery and more with lack of having the self-discipline to shut up.

On the food front, things are improving. Where two days ago lunch was half a bowl of soup and dinner was a banana, yesterday I had an actual dinner - a small chicken filet and two spears of asparagus - and today's lunch was half a quesadilla. I've been eating whatever on the theory that any calories were better than none, but I think it's probably time to go back to avoiding empty calories again (she said, finishing her Coke). And my weight's gone up a whole pound and a half. I'm right where I started a couple of years ago, which means I wouldn't mind keeping it here but even better would probably be to add on a few more pounds of muscle. Now I have a window to do so without risking my lightweight status.

Posted by dichroic at 01:10 PM | Comments (1)

July 18, 2006

back, still not well

Well. We are back home, having brought our germs with us. Rudder resisted valiantly, but finally conceded he was sick Sunday morning, just in time for the trip home (factoring in the time change, nineteen hours door to door, which is miserable enough if you're healthy). Symptom-wise, I seem to be down to a cough (not quite as hectic today as it was but only occasionally productive), the tail-end of laryngitis, and a lack of energy, and the last is probably attributable to the fact that I've been eating very little since this whole thing started eight days ago. My symptoms are lessened since I began the antibiotics Friday, so I guess they're working. Rudder seems to be affected more lightly, but some of that may just be stoicism. I'm a bit worried because some people at work have had similar sinus infections that lasted weeks, and Rudder can't afford weeks, with the Masters Nationals regatta coming up in August.

My own dismal finish in my race at Regionals convinced me not to race in Nationals this year, though it's certainly possible that having raced the day before and coming down with this illness later that day both contributed. I may or may not go to the regatta with Rudder depending on my work situation.

What with the not-eating thing, my weight is back to where it was a couple of years ago, before I pulled back from training to do more flying. I can't tell whether the loss is fat or muscle; my Tanita scale says my body-fat percent is about the same. I feel very weak, but that may just be from the illness, so I'll see about that once I'm better. I'm not planning to row or erg until I feel better - one nice thing about skip[ping Masters Nationals is that I can do that. I do have a local race here the weekend after next, but that's just 500 meters in a double, nothing too competitive.

I'm feeling a little guilty about not exactly throwing myself back into work, but this lack of energy is not helping my motivation level. Hopefully, once I feel more lively I can be more effective.

Posted by dichroic at 10:46 AM | Comments (1)

July 14, 2006

ill still

Last night while laying awake snorfling, I decided enough was enough and that I needed to see a doctor. I felt a bit better or at least more able to breathe when I woke again in the morning, because everything is always worst at 3AM, but did reconfirm my decision. Five days of illness with no real diminution in symptoms is just too much, and wasting time in bed on only my second time in Europe is maddening. Fortunately, this hotel has a concierge, so I asked Rudder to ask him to get me a doctor's appointment (it's not entirely easy to explain things on my own when I can't talk).

Oddly, Rudder didn't even discuss whether I really need a doctor. I think for some reason the laryngitis has him worried. I don't know why; for me it seems like a normal thing to have toward the end of a cold, though I don't remember any this total before.

The concierge was able to get me a morning appointment and a cab there. Due to the communication issue, I took the precaution of writing down my current symptoms and their history in advance. She examined the list, asked a few questions, looked at my throat and ears, and told me I had an "infection". Sinus or throat, I didn't find out, though I'd guess the former. She sent me around the corner to a pharmacy with a scrip for amoxicillin, then I came back to the office to ask them to call me a cab - good thing, as I'd blindly walked out of the office without paying. Oops. I suppose they're used to people who are a bit distracted there, though.

The meds are a little different; you dissolve the pill in a glass of water, which is much nicer than swallowing a big pill with a sore throat. And the doctor told me to get a nose spray to clear my sinuses, instead of Sudafed pills or something.

I've wasted most of another day in the hotel room, though I'm trying to persuade myself to go check out a grocery a block away - to see what sorts of things might be hard to find here. Tomorrow we're supposed to go to Amsterdam, and unless the 'cillin kicks in quickly, I'm afraid Rudder may be sightseeing there on his own. Phooey.

Posted by dichroic at 07:34 AM | Comments (2)

July 13, 2006

Some additional notes:

-- Yesterday was the first time I've been asked if I were Italian, and it was by someone who actually is Italian. My brother used to get it all the time, but he's got darker skin than I do. Mostly it was the hair, I think; it's long and a little wild and it was being especially big at the time because I'd had it pulled back earlier.

--Last time I was herre, around 9 years ago, the Dutch were wearing mostly black, stovepipe pants, and chunky high heels before those caught on in the US. This time, the fashion's nearly identical to that in the US.

--At first I thought this was a sinus infection. Now I think it's just a cold. I am quite ready to be done with it, either way.

-- The unusually (for me) long and even nails I had as of July 1 did not survive all that boat loading, unloading, racing, and rigging. The nail polish I bought here reeked worse than any I've had before and began chipping fairly promptly, but at least it camouflaged the unremovable dirt under where two nails that had broken short were splitting right where it met skin.

-- Rudder is snoring. I hope this doesn't mean he's getting the cold - he was sniffly during our flight, but seemed better today.

-- I haven't had much interest in food since Monday. Today as of 7:30 PM I'd eaten about six chunks of cut-up fruit, orange juice, tea, and a Luna Bar. At that point I gave up on Rudder being home soon and went and grabbed some ice cream and pasta - about ten bites of each, but at least it's calories. Of course Rudder was in the hotel room as soon as I got back with my food.

-- Or rather, without my food - they didn't take plastic so I had to scurry back to the room for cash.

-- This is the worst case of laryngitis I've had in years or maybe ever. Very comical but not helpful at meetings. It's also one reason I didn't just call room service.

-- I need to go take Nyquil and try to sleep now. But first -- did I mention I won not one, not two, but three medals last weekend???

Posted by dichroic at 01:30 PM | Comments (1)

a hectic trip, even for us

Since I've paid for the hotel Internet and I don't really feel up to sightseeing at the moment, I guess it's time for the trip-report-to-date. This trip was unfortunately planned backwards; we had all our relaxing time at the beginning and all the strenuous stuff toward the end (we do get to do a wee bit of relaxing the last couple of days, which for me began about two hours ago).

We loaded up the boats Friday morning, then started our trip with the luxury of being able to leave on a Saturday morning, instead of having to rush out after work. We drove about 10 hours north that first day, stopping at Los Banos, CA, then drove the remaining 8 hours to Rudder's parents' house in Grants Pass, OR, on Sunday. Our time there was all about eating well, sleeping well,and good conversation. We got to see some updates to their house and their beautiful front and back gardens (pics later) and my MIL helped me make a repair to my boat cover on her sewing machine. She also went with me to the local yarn stores, where I carefully refrained from pointing out to the exuberant character who ran one that she (MIL) was a local knitter for fear of entrapment. The highlight was July 4th, our 13th anniversary. The four of us visited several of the wineries which have sprung up in the Rogue Valley of Oregon - Rudder and I came home with a Wooldridge Chardonnay, a John Michael blush champagne, and some artisanal garlic-olive cheddar (sold at RoxyAnn winery, not sure who made it). Then on the way home we stopped at one of the ubiquitous fireworks shops. I'd never bought any before, because Pennsylvania is strict about such things and AZ is too hot, but I've gained a new appreciation for small ground-based fireworks. I kept thinking of the Bastable children, setting off their Guy Fawkes-day Catherine Wheels. Pictures of those to come too - Rudder took some great ones.

On Thursday, we drove two scenic hours to Klamath Falls, where members of the local Ewauna Rowing Club kindly let us store our boats in their boathouse and even gave us the combo so we could come row at any time. Rudder's parents followed us down, and on Friday his paternal grandparents came from two hours away in the other direction, and an aunt from another nearby town, so most of those days was spent hanging out, chatting, and taking family photos in the big comfy leather sofas in the hotel's lobby or it's little loft seating area.

On Saturday Rudder and I raced in the Rural Henley Regatta. This was the first time these grandparents had seen Rudder row (the other set are in Sacramento, where we race often) so that was a major reason to do this small regatta, but it was great fun in its own right, warm people and lovely cool weather. The Royal Henley, in England, is one of the world's most famous rowing races, a stake race (that is, between two stakes) of about 1.3 miles. In the Rural Henley, the top two finishers of each 1000 event get to race the Henley distance, after all the morning races are done. And the winner of each race gets a gorgeous commemorative plate with a steak (raw, sealed) on it, so it's a steak race.

Here's where the trip got exciting. The weather was perfect, except for one minor point: the wind was so strong that the waves in the first half of the course were scary. I was in the very first race, and Rudder was in the second. Rudder won his race, of course, so he got to compete with someone who won in the other heat of the men's singles. The women's singles only had one heat, but I came in second of four (second! I got second!) so *both* singles Henley races featured Arizona Outlaws. Only after that did they decide to hold the small boats to 500 meters because the water was so rough. We raced again in the double, our very first race rowing together. (We'd raced together before, but with me coxing a four or eight he rowed in.) We won by 5 seconds in raw time, but when the age handicaps were added in, we came in second by only 0.3 seconds, out of six boats.

By the time of the Henley races, the water had calmed down just enough to let us row the full course. Rudder won his, I lost mine - no surprise, since the woman who won was well ahead of me in the morning. The people running the regattas were generous enough to give medals for the Henleys as well as the other races, so the Outlaw take was three silver medals for me (!!!!); two golds, a silver, a plate, and a steak for Rudder. (He gave the steak to his parents.)

Right after that we had to load up the boats, say goodbye to the in-laws, and drive 6 hours south to Sacramento. And yes, I did wear my medals for the entire drive. The weather was getting warmer than it had been even while we were loading, and it got much hotter as we went South. By the time we got to Sacamento the outside air temp reading on Rudder's car was claiming 109 degrees. She-Hulk met us to unload the boats, but even with three of us it wasn't fun doing that in the heat, leaving us worried about the races. We went out for pasta and got very nearly a full night's sleep before the next set of races, the Southwest Masters Regional Championships. This was a much bigger race, but I didn't enjoy it nearly as much, though I think Rudder did. I came in DFL by a long shot in the women's lightweight singles, the first race of the day, then served as photographer and pit crew for the rest of the day. The other Outlaws did much better, with three gold medals and one silver for Rudder, two gold and two silver for She-Hulk. They were especially pleased because both felt they'd rowed extremely well, and done well in very competitive races and in trying conditions. The water was perfect and smooth here, but the heat was fearsome. Rudder and She-Hulk dealt well with it, mostly by keeping their shirts wet with ice water or the almost equally frigid lake water (it comes down from the mountains). Despite similar measures, the heat was really getting to me, and by around 2PM I apologetically borrowed She-Hulk's rental car and went back to the hotel to lay down and cool down. After a short nap, I woke up with sore tonsils and a feeling that my body economy was still fragile enough to make staying put a better option than returning, though I felt bad about leaving them to load up without me. They called when they were nearly done, and I did go back briefly for a few photos, and to join them for dinner and celebratory beers (margarita for She-Hulk).

Sometimes beer seems to help me feel better, but not that time. I woke up feeling much worse, with a very sort throat and snorting crap from my sinuses. Rudder and I had a twelve hour drive (She-Hulk was flying home) and no possible leeway, so I made the best of it by trying to get as much sleep as possible while not driving. Rudder drove most of it, as always, but this time we had me doing two shorter legs (120 miles or so each) which gave him enough of a break and a nap. The sore muscles didn't help, especially the ones in our sides from balancing on Saturday's rough water. The cold sapped my appetite, so I ate a few pretzels, a little dried fruit, and not much else all day.

We'd left early enough to get to the boatyard at about 6, where She-Hulk kindly came out to help us unload in yet more 109-degree weather. (According to the truck; it actually felt a little cooler.) The three of us got that done in under half an hour, then Rudder and I went home, ripped everything out of our suitcases and packed them up again with different clothes. The cat complained vociferously about our absence.

Once again we got very nearly enough sleep, got up at 5 and left for the airport before 6. I wasn't feeling any better, except that the muscle soreness was gone. Once we got on the plane, I took some night-time sinus meds on the first leg of the flight, then Nyquil on the international leg. It turns out those very long flights are much better when you spend large chunks of them asleep or half-conscious. The quarter of the airline meal I ate was my biggest meal in two days - not queasy, just uninterested in food and painful swallowing. When we got into Amsterdam, we had another two-hour drive into Eindhoven, in the southern Netherlands. Poor Rudder had to go to work right away; I got to walk around the very nice shopping area opposite the hotel, then try to balance resting (to get better) with not sleeping (to acclimate to the time zone). His meetings ran late, and it wasn't until 8:30 PM that he called to ask if I wanted to eat dinner with him and some coworkers. I did want to socialize, though still not to eat much, so I went and just picked at an appetizer. I did enjoy meeting the coworkers, though.

Today, my throat was slightly less painful, though I still didn't want to eat more than a little fruit at breakfast. I had meetings, four of them in four hours, for which I prepared with a 12-hour Sudafed and rode in with Rudder. The meetings went well, or would have if I had been able to talk. Still, the people I met with were patient with my croaking, and fortunately only one wanted to ask me many questions. By the last one, though, the cold or the Sudafed or the caffeine from the tea they kept feeding me (from complex mqachines that prodcue varied types of coffee, chocolate or tea) had combined to have me very ready to lay down. Rudder had talked about meeting me for lunch, but a bed seemed like a much better idea, so I got someone to call a cab, which brings me to dateresting here in the hotel room. Tomorrow, I hope to feel well enough to visit an open-air history museum in town, and on Saturday Rudder and I will go to Amsterdam for a day there before we fly home Sunday.

And then I have to go to work Monday!!!

Posted by dichroic at 07:00 AM | Comments (4)

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

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 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)

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

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

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 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 09, 2006

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)

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 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

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

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

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

May 31, 2006

not quite that bad

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.)

Posted by dichroic at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)

May 30, 2006


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.

Posted by dichroic at 03:47 PM

May 29, 2006

+1 productive

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.

Posted by dichroic at 08:27 PM | Comments (1)

history and productivity

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.

Posted by dichroic at 05:17 PM

May 26, 2006

better late than not at all

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.

Posted by dichroic at 01:25 PM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2006


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.

Posted by dichroic at 03:10 PM | Comments (1)

May 22, 2006

Arizona Waterways

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?

postscript: I want to go to this. And I've given a few dollars toward this, because it's so damn cool.

Posted by dichroic at 02:00 PM

May 19, 2006

a Unified Theory

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.

Posted by dichroic at 03:26 PM | Comments (1)

May 17, 2006

So yeah anyway whatever

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).

Posted by dichroic at 02:36 PM | Comments (1)

May 16, 2006

"Grr" said the worker

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.)

Posted by dichroic at 12:48 PM

May 15, 2006


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.

Posted by dichroic at 02:20 PM

May 12, 2006

to, or not to

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.

Posted by dichroic at 11:32 AM | Comments (1)

May 11, 2006

not catching up

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....

Posted by dichroic at 11:44 AM | Comments (1)

May 10, 2006


To the rest of my Women's Quad from last weekend:

  • Thanks!

To Rudder:

  • No, saying that "we" need to lose a few pounds doesn't make it better.

  • Also, re the planned trip that involves driving from Arizona to Oregon, racing, driving to Sacramento right after the races on the same day, racing there the next day, then driving twelve hours home: you do know we'll regret this, right?

  • But no matter how insane you are, thanks for taking my racing seriously. Even when I finishi DFL every singles race.

To the Bush Administration:

  • "Just because Bush reserves the right to disobey a law does not mean he is not enforcing it". No, it just means he could stop at any point. Not much of an improvement. Plus, it's a little sad to find that the logic classes I took apparently disqualify me from growing up to be President.

  • Oh, and also: the whole point of "rule of law" is that no one is above the laws. Sorry for the confusion.

To assorted people who were supposed to reply to me:

  • Remember when you said "early next week?" Uh, we're past that now.

To the Mexican restaurant where I bought lunch:

  • Who puts hot spices on their tortilla chips? That's what salsa is for.

To myself:

  • Really, it would be better to skip the spicy tortilla chips when you're wearing contact lenses. In fact, it might be better to eat less in general, if you want to race lightweight again in July.

  • Also, you do have stuff you should be doing. Get to it.

Posted by dichroic at 02:38 PM | Comments (2)

May 03, 2006

a woman of parts

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?

Posted by dichroic at 01:59 PM | Comments (3)

May 02, 2006

two re's - producing and gatta

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.

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

May 01, 2006

Flugtag: needed more beer

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.

Posted by dichroic at 01:24 PM

April 28, 2006

my worst training

The other thing I like about this time of year is the rowing. It's not too cold any more in the mornings when we get out there, before we warm up, but it's not too hot after we warm up, either. (It would be at midday, but not at 5AM.) And it's the season for egrets and herons: flapping slowly overhead or standing in line on the side of the lake for all the world like spectators. Though, at regattas when we do have spectators they tend to be less stately, more motley and considerably louder.

Today I gave probably the worst training session I've ever done. Not my fault, really, and I think I did OK in the circs. I was asked to give my lecture at yet another site, tied to the one I spoke to Monday. Someone from the first site arranged the training, and worked with the people at the second site to set it up. We went together to the training site, where I was supposed to speak to all hands int he cafeteria. When we got there, none of the guys who were supposed to do set-up showed up until about 5 minutes beforehand. Then there was a problem with the projector - I think the one mounted on the ceiling had been removed. They got someone to bring another one down (by now the audience had all shown up), but it was antiquated. We finally got it turned on and projecting from my computer, but then the problem was that it was cutting off the top of the slides. (The whole projected image was onscreen, that is but the top third of the slides wasn't included in the image.) I fiddled with it a bit, but then found that the remote wouldn't turn on at all and the menu accessible from the main controls wouldn't let me adjust the image manually.

At that point I gave up, and made myself instantly popular, but not entirely educational, by saying, "All right, that's enough. I won't waste your time any longer." I spent five minutes giving them the main highlights, promised to get my slides sent to everyone at the facility and emphasized that they should call me with any questions. Short of keeping them there for as long as it took to fix the system, which would have made everyone too resentful to listen to anything else I said, or bringing my own projector, which I had no reason to expect to have to do, I don't see what else I could have done. I think the people who asked me to do the training were at least happy to have the high points communicated and that I didn't panic and fall apart - fortunately, I'm not really prone to stage fright in this sort of thing.

Posted by dichroic at 05:40 PM | Comments (1)

April 27, 2006

bloom time

We have three distinct blooming seasons here. March is the wildflowers, when there are wildflowers. Unfortunately, all but two of the ten years I've lived here have been drought years, and the wildflowers were scanty. But those two years had blakets of yellow covering the mountainsides, starred with orange and purple for variety. A desert in bloom sounds so Biblical, somehow, though I don't think the Sinai blooms. But it is as glorious as it sounds.

Now, in April is my favorite of the blossom season, the blooming of the trees. The palo verdes are covered in tiny bright yellow blossoms, the same color forsythias bring to spring in climates farther north. I'm not sure if it's those or something else that fill the air with a sweet, sweet scent in early April. My favorite, though, are the jacarandas used in a lot of landscaping around here. The blossoms are an improbable Crayola lavender against a tender green of the new leaves. You can see a bit of the one in my backyard here.

In May it feels like summer here, and outdoors is best experienced in the dark or through the window of an air-conditioned car. One thing worth looking at through those windows is the saguaro blooms. First there are the buds, comically on top of the trunk like hair on a head. The the flowers open. Nothing subtle about them; they look like the Tim Burton version of daisies, white petals around a yellow center, but much bigger, stiffer, and sturdier and somehow a bit freakier. But they're still flowers nad still beautiful. They're one of the redeeming features about the onset of summer here.

Posted by dichroic at 04:20 PM | Comments (1)

the rolling river shores of changes

Lately I've read about more and more silly acts by the government, coupled with growing distrust of them on the one hand (record negative ratings, for one, protests on the other) and alarmist warnings about the coming Holy Wars on the other. I've heard about fundamentalists who believe women should be subjugated (note: I also know fundamentalists who believe in respecting women; the others are just so much noisier that it's hard to tell if they're gorwing in numbers or just shrillness) and secularists who want religion entirely out fo the political sphere. There seems to be more and more religious and political division. What I can't tell is what all of it means or whether it does mean anything at all. It feels like change is in the air, but it could just be useless venting. (Sorry, but I'm too lazy to go look up links to all of this).

It is about time; we seem to have been having periods of great change every forty years or so. But I'm not old enough to remember what the sixties and seventies felt like, in terms of the public sphere. I have no memory at all of the 1960s, having caught only the tag end, and the 1970s just felt like being a kid. On the other hand, communications are so much faster, more ubiquitous and more complete than they were then that I'm not sure I could tell anyway. How do you distinguish the rumblings of change from the results of negative news being perceived as a better story? How do you tell whether more people are becoming dissatisfied enough to act, or are only now speaking publically because the Internet has provided the means to complain to millions instead of to the water-cooler crowd?

The only thing I know is that these are interesting times. I do believe that the US and the other free countries will ultimately survive and continue providing unprecedented leavels of individual liberty and rising standards of living, but how much of that is stupid optimism based on a lack of understanding of the real factors in place? I bet plenty of people thought ancient Rome would endure, too. The most we can do is try to keep an eye on things and learn useful skills to deal with whatever happens. I don't plan to build a bomb shelter in the backyard; I do try to keep up with the news in a general way. We don't keep a survival kit at hand, though we do have all the components of one in the house - not deliberately, we just used to camp a lot. And we have that handy reservoir of water in the back yard, though it's cleverly disguised as a selling feature of the house. One other thing about the future: it's not apt to be boring.

Posted by dichroic at 01:43 PM | Comments (1)

April 26, 2006

on being leaned around

Grump. Silly old husband appears to have hidden the digital camera, just when I've finished a pair of earrings and a lariat-style silver oar necklace. Maybe I'll just wait until this weekend and photograph them along with the nearly done Mother's Day set - the kipah is done and the matching socks only need one toe grafted and some ends tucked in.

Work's been fairly busy, as the lack of entry at lunch today can attest. I've now given my little training to some 1500 people, with another 300 or so expected on Friday. Hopefully those numbers will impress my two-levels-up boss, because rumor has it there may be some shake-ups at work in a direction I'm not crazy about.

I got a lot done at work today, but didn't have much energy to sare anyway, after doing two 1000 meter race pieces this morning. I was a good girl and did them flat out, really at race pace. The downer is, they still weren't as fast as I'd like, especially with our big race a week and a half away. I'm only in one race that will really kill me, though, in my single. Of the other two, one is in a quad, sohst will go fast. My cubemate from work is in it, and she has a huge amount of power. She's just learning to scull (she rowed in college, but in a sweep boat with only one oar) and the differences take a lot of adjusting, but she's beginning to get the balance comfortable now. Actually, I think if we don't catch any crabs, we may finish respectably. She-Hulk was a bit worried about being in the boat with such a novie, but as our fourth rower pointed out, we'll be there and it's jst one more trip down the course, not a priority race for any of us. And as I pointed out, if all three of the other (bigger!) women had a high level of skill, they'd be looking for someone stronger than I am to fill out the boat to get a serious competitive crew.

It does get annoying. I don't have anything llike the power and reach these other women have, but I can more than carry my own lighter weight in the boat. I really don't appreciate being in a conversation where one person leans past me to say to another, "Hey, wan to do a quad in the next race? Great! We can get a couple other women from (insert name of club) and have a good composite (meaning, multiple-club) boat." It reminds me of college. I had one friend who, though not outstandingly gorgeous was somehow insanely attractive to me, and once or twice someone in a circle or at a table actually leaned past me to try to pick her up. (It wasn't her fault at all. I was there and she did nothing to invite it, and she was polite enough to be embarassed at the rudeness - and to downrate the guy accordingly.) So anyway, I've no idea how this boat will go, but I don't row in quads often and I think it will be fun. My third race is a 300 meter sprint - as She-Hulk once said, after I persuaded her to try one in practice, "Just when it starts to really hurt, you're done!" They hold that sprint every year at the end of this race, and it's pretty much my favorite event ever. Don't let those marathons fool you; I'm emphatically not a distance person. I like my pain to be over quickly.

Posted by dichroic at 08:14 PM

April 24, 2006

Monday surprise

I found out just this morning that the training I'm doing at a local site in, oh, just over an hour is going to be for hundreds and hundreds of people. Good thing I spent all last week practicing it, huh? Oh, and this is just after lunch, so keeping them all awake will be a large challenge. (Later note: they estimated over a thousand people there - the extra-large turn-out is not so much due to any fame of mine but probably to the fact that the organizers of the training provided cookies and gave away a pair of Suns tickets. Still, I take it as a personal victory that I saw very little snoozing in the crowd.)

The junior regatta Saturday went swimmingly, or rather non-swimmingly, which is a good thing in boats that narrow. Even the crew from upstate that had been on the water a grand total of five times, ever, stayed upright, though slow, and the kids reportedly had a blast. My necklaces raised a chunk of money for next year, and reportedly the first-place winners couldn't stop talking about the medals Rudder designed.

Posted by dichroic at 12:49 PM | Comments (1)

April 20, 2006

nearly done

This is the last night of my trip. One thing I have figured out on this trip is that mid-range hotels are more likely to have free internet - the expensive ones have it, but charge outrageous rates. I paid $10 yesterday for the one day - not sure my company will reimburse it, but I got back to the hotel at 3PM and figured otherwise I wouldn't have much to do that evening. (Having left my companions of the previous evenings back in Kansas City.) Also, the staff at the less fancy hotels seem to be friendlier, on average. I will say that the bed at the last place was lush, though. (For reference, my hotels in order were Residence Inn in Olathe, Marriott Wichita, and Holiday Inn in Owasso, OK.)

Other things I now know are that in Tulsa, one can order iced tea either sweet or unsweet, and that on Kansas highways people are religious about using the left lane only for passing. Also, this has been an extremely valuable use of my time - the training I'm giving, yes, but more the relationships and most the conversations that come up about the site's issues, stuff they didn't realize or hadn't even discussed internally.

Next, I get to go home, drive straight to the lake, help with registration for the junior regatta this weekend, then spend Saturday AM being dockmistress (getting people in and out to and from the races) and then probably the rest of the weekend recovering. I do hope they get lots of bids on the auction for the necklaces I made.

Posted by dichroic at 07:26 PM

April 19, 2006

I am deliberating avoiding quoting "Wichita Lineman" here

I was right; there definitely are worse things I could be doing than driving across Kansas on a morning in spring. Like sitting at a desk in a cubicle, for instance. It was a lovely April morning, with trees in bud and a cloudless sky. There may even have been snails on thorns, for all I could see. The rolling hills near the Missouri border gave way to the flatter waving Flint Hills; my iPod and the occasional cow near the road provided company.

The training I was here to do went well too, and sparked a conversation that raised an overlooked issue at the site that needed to be dealt with, so that was good.

For some reason, the hotel I booked on the company website turned out to be on the other side of town. Hoever, it only took about 20 minutes to drive across Wichita, and it is conveniently close to the highway I came in on, that I need to get back on tomorrow. The hotel is much fancier than the previous one, but less friendly. And they're charging for internet, while the last one (a different section of the same chain) gave it to me for free (well, no additional charge, anyway). At least the fitness center had a little more equipment. But the would-be fancy steakhouse in the hotel lobby, where I ate because I didn't feel like driving, gave me what looked like butter and turned out to taste like margarine with my baked potato. I'm sorry, no. You cannot qualify as a fancy restaurant unless you provide real butter. Or, even better, a choice, since I suppose some people prefer oleo. (And the Petit Filet was tres petit, only 4 oz. But at least the server warned me in advance, and I didn't feel cheated because I wouldn't have eaten more anyway.) A little while ago, someone came and knocked on my door, asking if I'd like the bed turned down. I refused. The bed looks wonderfully fluffy, but I think I can find my own way in. I'd trade that service for free internet, actually.

Posted by dichroic at 06:44 PM | Comments (1)

I am deliberating avoiding quoting "Wichita Lineman" here

I was right; there definitely are worse things I could be doing than driving across Kansas on a morning in spring. Like sitting at a desk in a cubicle, for instance. It was a lovely April morning, with trees in bud and a cloudless sky. There may even have been snails on thorns, for all I could see. The rolling hills near the Missouri border gave way to the flatter waving Flint Hills; my iPod and the occasional cow near the road provided company.

The training I was here to do went well too, and sparked a conversation that raised an overlooked issue at the site that needed to be dealt with, so that was good.

For some reason, the hotel I booked on the company website turned out to be on the other side of town. Hoever, it only took about 20 minutes to drive across Wichita, and it is conveniently close to the highway I came in on, that I need to get back on tomorrow. The hotel is much fancier than the previous one, but less friendly. And they're charging for internet, while the last one (a different section of the same chain) gave it to me for free (well, no additional charge, anyway). At least the fitness center had a little more equipment. But the would-be fancy steakhouse in the hotel lobby, where I ate because I didn't feel like driving, gave me what looked like butter and turned out to taste like margarine with my baked potato. I'm sorry, no. You cannot qualify as a fancy restaurant unless you provide real butter. Or, even better, a choice, since I suppose some people prefer oleo. (And the Petit Filet was tres petit, only 4 oz. But at least the server warned me in advance, and I didn't feel cheated because I wouldn't have eaten more anyway.) A little while ago, someone came and knocked on my door, asking if I'd like the bed turned down. I refused. The bed looks wonderfully fluffy, but I think I can find my own way in. I'd trade that service for free internet, actually.

Posted by dichroic at 06:44 PM | Comments (1)

April 18, 2006

I got to Kansas City on a Monday

Kansas, at least this corner of it, has turned out to be unexpectedly lovely and maybe a little sad. I was expecting the whole state to be pancake flat. (In fact, someone once conclusively proved that Kansas is flatter than a pancake. The proof is in the Annals of Improbable Research and Google turns up a number of articles on the study.) Actually, though, this part by Kansas City, Lawrence and Olathe is green and hilly, with redbuds and dogwood blooming everywhere, the trees just beginning to leaf out, and houses set amid fields next to red barns that look just as a barn in the Heartland should look. (Robert Heinlein was from Missouri, come to think of it. I bet "The Cool Green Hills of Earth" was inspired by hills very similar to these and maybe not too far from here.) The sadness is because now the fields are broken up by encroaching subdivisions and it's clear that in another decade a lot of these rolling green hills will be built over with lookalike tract mansions. It is to be hoped that the builders will at least learn from some of the older developments, where individual houses are set on curving streets, under arching trees, and wherre the houses don't all look alike. Or even better, if they leave some farmland and woodland here and there.

Tomorrow I'll drive out to Wichita, and apparently I'll be driving along the flint hills and on to the prairie, where you can see forever. Someone told me they've been reintroducing antelope, though I'll likely be a bit late in the morning to see those.

If there's one thing I have learned this evening, it's how to go to Carabba's (chain of Italian restaurants in the US). First I went down to the hotel lobby, to have some lemonade during the hotel's Happy Hour and to see whether the gentlemen I ate with last night were around. They weren't, so I went off to Carabba's, taking the hotel manager's advice to tell them she'd sent me. Also at her advice, I ate at the pizza bar. This turned out to be excellent advice. The cooks all talked to me. The servers all talked to me. The cooks gave me a free sampler of calamari (very fresh and with an excellent sauce for dipping - somehow I wouldn't have expected great calamari in the landlocked Midwest). Israel the pizza guy talked me into ordering the tiramisu and taking it back with me, since I couldn't have eaten any more while there. The tiramisu did not show up on the bill. When I pointed this out, along with the fact that my company was paying for my meal, they told me to forget it, that their comany liked to be generous too. When I got back to the hotel, the gentlemen were there. We hung out and talked (and they drank wine) for a while, and after hearing of my adventures they decided to go to Carabba's. I went back with them, me and my tiramisu. (I drove, because they appeared to have had a few glasses each.) The restaurant staff seemed to be pleased as punch to have me back at the pizza bar with two companions, eating my free dessert and drinking only soda water. This time they gave us calamari and mussels, and gave each of the men a small glass of a certain wine to taste. We argued amiably about the music (mostly old standards) in the background, politics, and the need for tolerance among world religions (as I said, they'd had a few). I won't be back to this Carabba's, since I'm leaving town tomorrow morning - but now I'm curious as to whether the staff in the one near home is as friendly. Yeah, it's a chain, but if the food is tasty, who cares?

Also, for reasons not entirely clear to me, one of the men I ate with (twenty years older than me and apparently happily married) has decide he wants to meet my mother.

Posted by dichroic at 08:18 PM | Comments (3)

April 17, 2006

upgraded and amused

It's been an interesting trip so far, in terms of people and upgrades.

People: I found an aisle seat only two rows back on the place, next to a man in the middle seat consoling a crying boy by the window. When I asked the man if the seat was available, he told me he was getting off the plane soon anyway. So it was me and the 7-year-old - I decided to chance his not crying the whole way and making himself sick. It was a good choice; he stopped crying shortly after his dad left, and became more cheerful as he got distracted, except for a sad little I miss my daddy every so often. He addressed me as Ma'am, poked me for attention now and then, and we talked about airplanes and Kansas and his big blue stuffed Easter bunny. Aside from the fact that poop jokes are the FUNNIEST THING EVER when you're seven, he was good company.

Upgrade: They were out of midsize cars so I ended up with a big ol' Pontiac. It handles well, once I got used to having to be extremely gentle on the brakes if I didn't want to stop the car in a millimeter.

Upgrade: The hotel was out of the normal studio rooms... so I'm in a two-bedroom suite. Itfeels like such a waste.

People: I did have company for dinner. I ran into a couple of guys in the hotel lobby who turned out to be not only from my company but from another side of the Quality department. I know their boss well (and conversation provided enough substantiating evidence that they really did work for her) so I decided to trust her judgement in people and went out to dinner with them for some classic Kansas City barbeque. Nice to have company, and they were pretty amusing.

I hope the rest of the week goes as well.

Posted by dichroic at 07:57 PM

April 15, 2006


I want new shoes. Dammit. However, I know exactly the sorts of shoes I want and I couldn't find them yesterday, not in the local shoe-warehouse place or even in a department store or two. Actually, I did find some in one of the department stoes that were nearly perfect, but if I'm paying full retail I also want them to be comfortable and I got the feeling that these were the sort that, immediately upon wearing them out of the store, wouldn't be. Actually, even at discount prices I still want them to be reasonably comfortable.

I'm tempted to go back for one pair the the discount place, but am trying to be strong and persuade myself that I already have too many shoes and should really not be spending money on ones that aren't exactly what I want. (For the record, what I really want are the Candie's shoes with the high wooden heel I had in about 1980 or a reasonable approximation thereof, and a pair of loafers with a heel rather like the black ones I own, only in brown.)

I think what I will do instead is to go work on socks and jewelry for other people. Maybe that will put me in a less acquisitive frame of mind.

Posted by dichroic at 01:17 PM

April 14, 2006

a cooking day

I have a confession to make: I'm cheating on my chicken soup. Since I have today off, I'm making a Passover-ish dinner (just the two of us, no Seder service). But since there are only two people to eat it, and since I'm going to be away all next week and Rudder doesn't have the correct genes to appreciate Jewish chicken soup properly. I didn't want to make a whole pot of soup. What I'll do instead is to use the Manischevitz mix (assuming it tastes OK) to eke out some chicken broth from the grocery, and toss in some carrots, celery, garlic, parsley and dill. At least it will smell right.

The rest of the dinner will consist of balsamic poached chicken with roasted new potatoes and asparagus - the recipe for all that is from the magazine Real Simple. I've never poached chicken before (putting it in boiling liquid, immediately taking it off the burner, and letting it sit for 15 minutes - but it's supposed to be sliced thickly before serving, so it will be obvious if it's not cooked through. Dessert will be M'ris's pear crisp, made with matzo meal instead of oats. That part is done already, so the house smells all nice and cinnamony. That's the only problem with the poached chicken, in fact; I can't figure out how to get rid of the boiling vinegar smell (the recipe warns of it) without also getting rid of the wonderful smells of cinnamon-covered baked pears and chicken broth with dill.

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

April 13, 2006

quick status

This should be fun. The other day, we were discussing Rudder's disappointment that the site's open house was held on a weekend and nothing would actually be happiening then, and my boss volunteered to give him a plant tour on a weekday. I'm not sure if he really meant it, but in keeping with my general philosophy of "Don't miss opportunities to do cool stuff," I took him at his word. Besides, we make all kinds of cool stuff here, but my job generally entails staying at a desk and not seeing any of it. So Rudder's coming in for lunch and to tour around the plant.

The training of the last three days was quite good, and I learned all kinds of useful tips in addition to the main meat of the course, so that was time well spent. Next week I'll be out teaching and driving through Kansas and Oklahoma. As long as the food-poisoning incident (or whatever - I don't think it was actually food poisoning, just a bit of disagreement between the ingested and the ingester) isn't repeated, it should be reasonably fun. Meanwhile, three day weekend! Wahoo! I expect to spend it in a thrilling combination of beading (the other necklaces for next week's regatta), rowing, knitting, and packing. In other words the usual. Plus, we'll have a sort-of Seder, meaning the food and some discussion of the holiday but not much ritual, tomorrow.

Posted by dichroic at 11:38 AM

April 11, 2006

elliptic (or is that the word I want?)

Not dead yet, just in training through tomorrow. It's on managing global projects, which is good since I had a telecon with someone about doing exacly that Monday morning before the training began. The exciting thing about this week is that I have training through tomorrow, one day at work and then Friday off. Then I have all of next week traveling for work in Kansas and Oklahoma, about which I'd feel a little better if I had this week to make sure I was all ready for it. I suppose it'll all turn out well, particularly if I remember to pack the iPod for those long drives.

Meanwhile, life is complex as usual, but all of the possibilities are looking good at the moment. I hope. Sorry for being elliptic but this is one of very few things I'm superstitious about talking about. (No. Not pregnant. You can just assume that's the default any time I'm vague about things, unless it's April Fool's Day.)

Posted by dichroic at 08:33 PM | Comments (1)

April 07, 2006

another week down

Thank goodness for Friday. It's been a long week. Weekend plans? Nothing special. I'm looking forward to it. Monday is actually going to be far more exciting than the weekend. Among other things, I get to have dinner with a pifflefriend! She's on sabbatical and is embarking on a world tour, that involves driving with many stops across the US, then heading off for Europe, and Asia. I don't remember all the details but I am wildly envious. I wish we could go with her. Still, I get to head off myself a bit out of my usual routine: training next week, a day off for Good Friday (I have no idea why they give us that, but a holiday is a holiday) and then a work trip through Kansas and Oklahoma. It's no world tour, but I expect I'll enjoy it.

I did have a small adventure yesterday. I was scheduled for a mammogram and bone density scan, the latter at my request and the former because the nurse practitioner thought I should. (I'm 39 and had one a few years ago, so I don't really understand why I'd need to be getting them regularly yet. I'm not ina high-risk category at all.) For the DEXA bone-density scan, the forms asked if I had any "metal devices implanted below the waist". I decided my navel piercing qualified and listed it, though technically it's at, not below, the waist. The tech asked about it specifically, and told me I could leave it in, but depending where it was in relation to my spine, it would obscure the pictures of one and possibly two of the four vertebrae they X-ray. I decided it was stupid to go in there and not get the benefit of it, so I took out the piercing, for the first time since it was inserted.

That wasn't the adventure. The adventure was putting it back in. I was afraid it would be difficult, but wasn't that bad. It was more like when I first had my ears pierced, and when I'd put in an earring it would want to hide behind a fold of skin instead of poking all the way through. This was actually a little easier because I could see it, and it only took a minute to get back through. I have changed out the little ball-end on it before, which is twiddly fine work, but that only involves metal-to-metal contact, not metal through skin, and I got that on relatively easily.

Posted by dichroic at 04:02 PM | Comments (1)

April 04, 2006


Zacharias Moussaoui dies, and is greeted at the entrance to Paradise by One who is unmistakeably Allah. Allah asks, "My child, what did you do to make My world a better place?" Moussaoui replies, "Lord, I tried to murder the infidels, to make the world more free for Your true believers who follow the Holy Quran. At least I was able to die as a martyr to make my cause known before the world." Allah answers, "But do you not see, the infidels are My children too. And by killing them, you would have taken away their chance to turn to My true teachings. Your act does not honor Me, but is born of hate and fear that deny My Presence in all people."

Tom DeLay dies, and is greeted at the Gates of Heaven by Jesus, looking as He is imagined in all the portraits of the Old Masters. "Tell me, My son, what did you do to make your world a better place?" DeLay replies, "My Lord, I did my best to ensure that my nation was governed by your principles. I spoke of Your Law in public places and changed our laws to prohibit those things that are an abomination unto You. I worked to help those with the money and the power to make these changes." He is surprised to see that Jesus is weeping. "My son," Jesus says, "You forget that the poor and the powerless are My children too, and that as you do the the least of them so you do to Me. Even even those forms of Love you would outlaw are also born of Me."

Dichroic dies, and is met by a shifting Being, now male, now female, now inhuman, but always too bright and glorious to be looked at directly. The Being speaks, and the world around it rumbles. "Tell me, daughter, what did you do in your time on Earth to help heal the world?" Dichroic is fearful. "Your Holiness," she stammers, "On Earth I was humble and powerless. I tried to treat others as I would be treated, according to Your Law, but I was not always successful. But I did try to speak against hate whenever I could, to remind others that all of us are equally Your children, and to encourage others to bring down the rich, those in power, and those who purported to teach Your laws while spreading hate." "Foolish daughter," rumbles the Being, with gentle affection. "Do you not understand that the rich and powerful are My children too?"

Anyway, sorry if the above looks like sacrilege to anyone. It's mostly a reminder to myself. My first reaction to the news about DeLay can be summarized as "Yahoo!" But I couldn't stay that happy - much as I despise the man, it's sad to see someone's whole life derailed like that. Stupid conscience.

Posted by dichroic at 02:07 PM | Comments (4)

April 03, 2006

not too rich or too thin

Last week's little gastric upset, during which I consumed a total of a slice and a half of toast and half a Clif Bar (plus tea, water, Powerade and ginger ale), and then considerably less than the usual amount of food for the next couple of days, appears to have shrunken my stomach. Is that possible in such a short time? Saturday night I walked into a restaurant hungry and walked out again feeling somewhat overfilled after eating a cup of French opinion soup, half a Caesar salad (with shrimp) and a slice or two of bread. I feel like I've had my stomach stapled. I've even been eating fewer pretzels.

I have a feeling that it would not be terribly difficult to stretch my stomach back to its normal size, but since I do in fact need to lose a few pounds, I'm trying not to do that, to eat lightly and slowly and let my satiation reflex catch up before I overstuff myself and begin feeling all oogy again. I haven't noticed any lack of energy (I rowed both Saturday and Sunday and erged today) so it feels more like not loading myself with extra calories I'd then have to dispose of one way or another rather than actual dieting. I am having to exercise a little conscious effort not to just keep eating until the normal amount is consumed, though. That's especially difficult with pretzels, where eating one induces cravings for another and it's all about mouth-feel and taste rather than actual hunger.

I haven't noticed any actual difference in weight, after the initial water-weight loss came back, but I never know how soon after a calorie deficit that actually shows up. Also, I'm at the heaviest part of my usual cycle just now, so I'd expect my weight to be lower by the end of the week. I keep reading that most people in good shape stay that way by making small adjustments when they see a trend they don't like; I walked miles every day, got enough exercise not to worry about that in my 20s, rowed more seriously in most of my 30s, and so am just needing to think about such things now. But it sounds like a good practice.

After that, it may be tempting fate to mention that I've finally gotten my credit card paid off from last year's flying expenses and my savings started back on the way up. I'm not at the status quo ante volarum (I have absolutely no idea how you say "flying" in Latin, actually) but at least I can see some progress on the way there.

I do hope Murphy (the guy with the Law) isn't reading this entry. Writing about starting to get calories and dollars under control just seems to be asking for either system or even something else entirely to fall apart.

Posted by dichroic at 02:15 PM

March 31, 2006

a curate's egg of a trip

I suppose the trip could be called successful. The training sessions went well and several people came up to me or to the site person who arranged it to say how good the training was. The fact that in some cases their commendations were phrased as "Wow, I thought that would be much more boring than it was!" doesn't make me any less proud. There was remarkably little head-bobbing as well, though the fact that the training only took half as long as expected probably had a lot to do with it. Law of human nature: training a very large group take less time than training a smaller one because many fewer people will speak up and there won't be any dialog. I encourgae people to ask questions and there were a couple, though in one case it was (according to site personnel) "the guy who always wants to make trouble", and fortunately, it turned out my response to his comment on conditions at his site was almost exactly what the site leaders would have said. The best I could do with this group was to get them laughing at some points, or nodding their heads, so that at least there was some interaction. For me, and I think for a lot of people, it's just not possible to pay attention for long if all the information flow is one-way.

Oh. I just noticed, when I get to thinking about ways to training and communicating with people, at least in my head it begins to sound like Elizabeth Bear or Sarah Monette journaling about writing fiction. Not in "quality"-meaning-how-good-it-is, because I think they're better writers than I am a trainer, but in "quality"-meaning-what-kind-of-thing-it-is. And that applies to the whole range of that subject: talking and writing, design of slides and usability of websites, when to take breaks and when to use humor and so on. When I write about writing I don't sound that way at all. I think that says a lot about what I know, but it just might also say something that gets me a little closer to what my Proper Job is supposed to be. Closer, but not there; it's to do with teaching and training and mentoring and communicating, but it's not teaching kids. It might be teaching in a university, but that's such a complex system to break into and then you only ever get to talk about one subject. Corporate trainer, maybe, but I want to be involved with knowing the information and putting it together, too, not just transmitting someone else's information. I don't know, but it's something to percolate.

At any rate, the socializing part of the trip went well too; I got to meet up with a couple of people I've known from online lists for much of a decade, but had never met in person. They looked pretty much as expected, because I'd seen pictures. They didn't sounds as I expected, because even when I know someone is from New York, I don't hear that accent when I read her words. We went out for Chinese food and conversation. I was expecting the Chinese food to be much better than here, but I don't think it really was - the conversation, on the other hand was superb. We discussed people and books and conventions and lives. I also enjoyed the drive out; one friend picked me up and we drove out the the home of the other, who lives in a region of big single-family traditional houses. There were some jaw-droppingly beautiful ones on the way.

What didn't go so well was the aftermath of that dinner. I had planned to teach my class and then meet up with one of the friends to go to a nearby aviation museum. Instead, I woke up at 3AM with my stomach burbling and grumbling and spent the rest of the night returning to the bathroom every little while. I wasn't nauseous, but I was definitely uncomfortable. Once my stomach was empty I felt a little better and had evolved a plan by morning. The plant is fortunately right close to the hotel; I went out and was able to teach my remaining two class sections with no problems; one nice thing about stomach issues, for me at least, is that a good enough distraction can make them call a temporary ceasefire. Afterward, I returned to the hotel, where I'd been able to get a late checkout, and rested. (Note: Hilton's HHonors program apparently allows you to check out as late as 3PM without fee.) I ordered up some tea and toast, because I was worried about getting dehydrated or lightheaded if I didn't eat or drink at all, which would make things even worse. I was able to eventually nibble down a slice and a half of the toast, and was feeling a bit better by 3, when I had to leave for the airport. Traffic was mercifully not too bad for the drive there, and with almost no food in there my guts behaved well on the drive, the airport and in the airplane. I picked up some Powerade in the airport and slugged down that, some water, eventually some ginger-ale, and half a Clif Bar during the course of the two-hour airport wait and the five+ hour flight, and that all seemed to work out just right. So far today I'm doing much better; I've had my normal breakfast of a clementine and a little dry cereal, plus half a sandwich and a few fries I couldn't resist, all without mishap. I'll continue to eat more lightly than normal for the rest of today, and hope I'm in shape for the planned light row with the Cubemate tomorrow. Catching up on sleep should also help, because by the time I got to bed last night I'd been up for 22 hours. Oh, well, could be a lot worse.

Posted by dichroic at 01:08 PM

March 28, 2006


The day did improve a bit when the gate agent was able to switch me to a window seat. Only one painful problem with that.

I was sharing the row with a big fat man and his big fat wife. No, they weren't the problem; the man was next to be but unlike many even much smaller men I've sat next to on airplanes, he was able to keep his elbows to himself and out of my seat. The problem was that it was a *long* flight, with the attendants bringing beverages by several times. I did get up to use the toilet once when the wife was already up, but after that I just decided to tough it out, because it seemed to be quite an effort for them to extract themselves from the tiny airline seats. (Purely my own fault; I'm sure if I had asked to get up they'd have been entirely polite about it as they were for the rest of the flight.). Unfortunately it took longer than I'd anticipated to get out of the holding pattern, into Newark, to the gate, and out of the plane from our row at the rear. In case anyone wants to know, the restrooms at Newark Airport are way too far from the gate I landed at. They should do something about that; I was beginning to mull over plots to leave a puddle behind a kiosk somewhere, because owowOWowow. After that, the driving seemed less of a challenge, anyway, and I found the hotel without incident. Oh, and free wirelss internet at the hotel, yay!

Posted by dichroic at 08:25 PM | Comments (3)


Yeesh. I could do without having to sit in a middle seat on a nonstop flight from Phoenix to Newark. Wish me luck, in getting neighbors who stay in their own seats instead of elbowing into mine. Also, the airline uses zones for boarding, and since I'm in Zone 5, the chances of getting a spot for my carry-on are looking low. (I don't usually like to be Mrs. Baggage, but I have a carry-on suitcase plus a laptop bag that will go under the seat.) Then I get to navigate from Newark Airport to my hotel, and driving at night in strange cities is always fun. Once there I get to teach 5 2-hour classes in two days.

On the bright side, I get to talk about my stuff to people at least some of whom want to know about it, and I get to meet up with a couple of very-long-time electron-friends whom I will now get to meat in the meat world. Plus no sitting at a desk for 2.5 days. I remember now why I like travel.

Posted by dichroic at 09:55 AM


Yeesh. I could do without having to sit in a middle seat on a nonstop flight from Phoenix to Newark. Wish me luck, in getting neighbors who stay in their own seats instead of elbowing into mine. Also, the airline uses zones for boarding, and since I'm in Zone 5, the chances of getting a spot for my carry-on are looking low. (I don't usually like to be Mrs. Baggage, but I have a carry-on suitcase plus a laptop bag that will go under the seat.) Then I get to navigate from Newark Airport to my hotel, and driving at night in strange cities is always fun. Once there I get to teach 5 2-hour classes in two days.

On the bright side, I get to talk about my stuff to people at least some of whom want to know about it, and I get to meet up with a couple of very-long-time electron-friends whom I will now get to meat in the meat world. Plus no sitting at a desk for 2.5 days. I remember now why I like travel.

Posted by dichroic at 09:55 AM | Comments (1)

March 27, 2006


Logistics are kicking my butt. Apparently it is not possible to fly directly from Kansas City to Wichita, nor from Wichita to Tulsa on a weekday morning. You have to go around by Dallas instead, and by the time you've done that, you've spent as much time from first takeoff to second landing as you would if you drove. And that's not even counting time to get to the airport, check in, deal with the rental car, and so on. I think I'm just going to take the iPod, maybe check out a couple of audiobooks from the library, and tell myself that a road trip through the Heartland is a much nicer way to spend a spring morning that sitting behind a desk. Maybe I'll take a Bill Staines CD along, too:

I have known the wind. It's been a friend all of my days,
And I have seen it dance, across the prairie when it plays.
And I have known the freedom too, of a wheatfield's rolling scene,
And they have never left me blue, so play your song for me.

I'm a sucker for appropriate music, and Staines has a lot of evocative songs about American places. I used to drive Rudder and out friend Bob nuts with Staines' song Lost Mine of the Chisos when we'd go backpacking in Big Bend.

The trip I leave on tomorrow has its share of complexities too: five 2-hour classes to teach in two days, and two piffle-y friends to hook up with Wednesday evening, though at least that latter part is a more pleasant complexity. I'm really not particualrly looking forward to finding my way out of Newark from the airport tomorrow night, either.

I'm really hoping I can manage without much driving on the Germany trip next month, but the way things are going, I have Dark Fears.

Posted by dichroic at 01:13 PM

March 23, 2006


We have some news on the Rudder's job front is good enough to get me excited, but indefinite enough that I can't get too excited just in case. ( Europe....

Meanwhile, between work and regattas, my upcoming travel plans include a work trip to New Jersey; a work trip to two cities in Kansas and one in Oklahoma; a regatta in northern California; a weekend trip to a cabin near our property; a work trip to three plants in Germany. There were also going to be a trip to Taos to meet my uncle, but out of sheer exhaustion I suggested the weekend near our property instead, and a work trip to Ohio that I've managed to talk down to a telecon instead. If this all sounds like it's not too bad, I should point out that this is just within the next two months. If I look out through the summer, I've also got regatta trips to Tahoe, southern Oregon and possible Seattle, and who knows what else from work. I'm tired already thinking about it.

There's similar confusion just inherent in the one regatta trip to California - there are three males and four females definitely going, three more people who we think are, and a couple of people from other clubs we often race with - so the trick is to figure out what boats we can put together so everyone gets to race as much as we want. There are events for men's, women, and mixed (that is, an equal number of men and women); lightweight and openweight; and age categories from 27 on up. Plus there's the factor of trying to put people of similar size and skill together, and of people's own preferences - some like bigger boats, some smaller, some don't want to be the one who steers, and so on.

It'll all work out, somehow or other. And it will be fun.

Posted by dichroic at 12:57 PM | Comments (1)

March 22, 2006

letters, we got letters...

Just heard back about that exam - I passed. The letter informed me that I am now entitled to put a (ridiculously long) string of letters after my name on business cards or in professional correspondence. So now, if I included all that plus a couple of previous certifications and added on my degrees, I could be:

Dichroic MyLastName, BS, MS, CQA, Black Belt, ASQ-CMQOE

Only I don't know where you get business cards big enough to fit all that, they wouldn't fit in anyone's wallet, and no one would know what it all meant anyhow. I think I'll stick to just my name, and leave all the initials off (unless I ever get a PhD, which would be so much more work than any of the above listed certifications that I suspect I'll want to advertise). Anyway, at least if I had to give up my Saturday morning for work, it'll do my resume some good.

To finish with something more substantive, I was looking through some old LJ entries today, and came across this over in one of Mary Ann's old posts. Molly Ivins is a favorite of mine, but I hadn't seen these words from her before:

On the general subject of political corruption, do not fall into the fatal error of cynicism. You do your country a great disservice by saying things like: "Eh, they're all crooks. Nothing anyone can do about it. Money will always find a way."

The answer is perpetual reform. Fix it, and if corruption comes back again, you just whack back at it again.... Don't blow the chance with cheap cynicism.

Posted by dichroic at 11:54 AM | Comments (1)

March 21, 2006

maybe I could use some black and white after all.

In that previous entry I praised complexity; I think I've gotten my comeuppance already.

The Arizona outlaws are sponsoring the Arizona State Junior Rowing Championships, meaning Rudder is doing a lot of the regatta organizing, a few of us will be volunteering at the regatta, and we bought a perpetual trophy last year and the first-place medals this year. In addition, She-Hulk is running a silent auction on the day of the regatta to raise some funds. Some large prizes have already been donated. I said I'd make a pair or two of earrings to auction off. She-Hulk suggested that a necklace might be easier to sell. Good thing; since volunteering to make the necklace, I've been looking for rowing charms. (The necklaces will look something like the bottom photo here, probably in the colors of the crews participating in the regatta.) That's been harder than expected. Given that I've bought charms for $5 or less, I figured I could find some online. No dice - I found ones for $$12 and $15 and $20 and up, which could get a bit expensive if I try to make a necklace in each crew's colors.

I knew that I'd bought the charm on my necklace from Whirling Girl - their own charms are more expensive (though very nice) but at some regatta I'd been to they were selling several someone else had made. I emailed and asked very politely if they could put me in touch with that person, and they did, promptly and graciously. (I tried as hard as I could not to sound like I was taking away business from them. They were so nice as to make me want to buy something, and as it turns out they have some hand balm I may try.) They sent the charm-maker's email. I emailed him. He replied and said he'd be out of town for two days and would email when he got back. I emailed again four days later. He asked for a phone number. I sent that back - that was Saturday. Today I sent it again, in case the mail had gone astray. He called, we discussed, he promptly sent me descriptions and pictures of his charms. Only one major problem: he's in Mexico and shipping would be $30 by UPS (these are $5-10 dollar charms, and I only need a maximum of four, but decided to order a few more to have on hand). So that cost is high enough that it would keep me from ordering.

Only then I thought to ask if he'd be at the big regatta early next month in San Diego. He won't but will be in San Antonio in a couple of weeks. I'll send him a check there and he'll mail my charms from there. So victory has been snatched from the jaws of defeat, but man. All I wanted was a couple cheap rowing charms to make necklaces for a good cause. This is all way too complicated.

Posted by dichroic at 03:39 PM

March 20, 2006

not a-changin' fast enough

Small work related rant: Why is it so freaking hard to get people to do something a better (and not significantly harder) way instead of "the way we've always done it"? Why do those people include the very ones who are supposed to be dedicated to continuous improvement?

I think I'm going to change my nameplate to read "Sisyphus". Would that be unprofessional? Would it be more or less so if I told anyone who asked to go look it up for themselves? (Because God forbid anyone hould have an elementary knowledge of mythology in your average office.)

On the plus side, I may have a couple of interesting trips coming up in the next few months. (Not that anyone at those sites will know their myths either, but at least there will be new places to see.)

I do sometimes wish I could have lived in the days when any educated person would have a good grounding in Greek, Latin, the classic authors, and the Bible. Of course, once I'm done pining I remind myself just have low a percentage of the population (especially the female part of it) was in fact "educated", not to mention how many things we have making use of the same brain cells today that Macaulay and Gibbons never dreamt of. I'm always as shocked when I encounter a white-collar professional who can't, say, download and view an image from an e-mail as Lord Peter Wimsey might have been upon meeting someone at his clubs who had no acquaintance with Homer.)

Still, to the original point, grr. Change happens. Suck it up and deal, unless it's change in the negative direction.

Posted by dichroic at 12:37 PM | Comments (1)

March 16, 2006

too blatant to miss

I've mentioned here before that I'm not the most empathetic person in the world. Therefore, while I'm ready to rail against prejudiced thinking whether or not it affects me personally, I confess I'm less likely to notice it when it's against a category I don't fall into. Sometimes, though, it's repeated or blatant enough that even I can't miss it.

One thing I've noticed lately is that even among people who won't stand for any prejudice against women*, prejudice against blonde women seems to be OK. (Including, in some cases, actual blonde women.) I've almost never encountered an assumption that pale-haired men are automatically stupid. I just don't get it. OK, at least it's something that can be changed, and maybe some people don't care because of the other stereotype that says blondes are more attractive, but I still don't understand why it's acceptable to judge anyone's brains by an accident of coloring. (Or even a deliberate coloring.)

An even more blatant example was in a book I read the other day. I'd picked up Emily Dickinson's Dead, by Jane Langton, because I've enjoyed her children's books. This one, though meaning to be a cozy mystery, was considerably more disturbing. The villain (yes, there will be spoilers here, but I doubt it will be a major issue for anyone) is an extremely obese, mentally unhinged, and quite unpleasant young woman. So far, fine, but there were frequent and unmistakeable insinuations that either she was fat because she was crazy or she was crazy because she was fat, most likely the latter. There are all kinds of little asides about how the character hides secrets from herself "in the folds of her neck or the creases under her belly" or wherever. I confess I may harbor some prejudices against fat people, in assuming that they are likely to be less active than thinner people (though I do know some exceptions) but I have not noticed larger people to be any less sane or more violent than smaller ones. (More annoyed at purveyors of retail clothing, yes, often, but that's a pretty sane reponse to provocation and hardly ever leads to murder.) As an antidote, to get the nasty taste out of my mind I'm rereading a bunch of Charlotte MacLeod. She has attractive heroes and heroines of all ages and sizes; petite and (relatively) young Sarah, Dittany, Helen and Janet may get their men, but it's the opulent Theonia and the charismatic Aunt Emma, the dramatic Aunt Arethusa, the Valkyrie Sieglinde and the bountiful blonde Iduna, all well into middle-age, who have men falling all over them. Refreshing.

Posted by dichroic at 12:07 PM | Comments (1)

March 15, 2006

time to buckle down

I really, really hate to say this, but I need to lose weight. I was hoping that, once I quit flying, I'd row enough more that the weight would just sort of melt away, but that doesn't seem to be happening. The summer before last, I weighed about 122. Right now I weigh about 130. However, before anyone starts thinking I've fallen prey to cultural standards and starts frantically commenting to tell me I'm fine the way I am, I should point out that I do have a good reason for needing to lose some: if I want to race as a lightweight in sprint races this spring and summer, I need to weigh in below 130. Last weekend's race didn't have lightweight events, but the one in May does. (Also, I'm 5'2". Unless I have enough muscle to compete as a body builder, I really ought to weigh a little less.)

At least some of that is muscle, and most of my clothes are either still size 4 or are size 6 and a bit loose, so I don't want to get rid of all the weight gain. (Some of it is breast, either due to the weight gain or the birth control, but I could happily get rid of that.) I used to go to weigh-ins and not even bother to remove my jacket and shoes. I don't really need to be able to show off like that, but I don't want to have to go without drinking anything or any of the other tricks people use to make weight. Most of them are no good for either health or performance. I've already cut out most sodas, but I never had more than one a day, so that doesn't make much difference. The sensible thing to do would be to cut out pretzels, but frankly I'm not sure I have the will power. I love pretzels; I crave the taste and the crunch and the salt. Substituting apples just isn't going to work. Celery might work better, but it's a little tricky at work (also loud). We've been eating a lot of popcorn at home, which is a way to fill up with a lot of bulk for relatively few calories. It works for Rudder to lose weight, but I think for me it's more an added food than a substitute for anything else (well, it might reduce the pretzel consumption a little). I refuse to do a low-carb or any other diet that restricts the variety I eat. I think I'll just start by putting the pretzels in a less accessible part of my desk and trying not to eat one unless I'm actually hungry.

I've tried monitoring what I eat in Fitday, but it's fairly difficult to figure out actual calories for, say, a stirfry of assorted veggies over jasmine rice. Someone told me the purchased version is easier to use than the online one, so that may be another option. I've never done a diet in my life, and I'm sort of hoping I can just lose a couple of pounds (two would work, though I'd prefer 5) by just eating a little less, in an unorganized sort of way.

Posted by dichroic at 11:46 AM | Comments (2)

March 10, 2006

good so far

My plans to celebrate a whole birthday week got quite thoroughly derailed. Can't blame the cat for his timing though - it was his birthday week too. It's a funny thing: I am reasonably good at remembering birthdays, but terrible at remembering death dates. Maybe it's a Freudian thing, about what I most want to remember. If so, it works well for me; I don't really remember the date my grandmother died, but I thought about her last Sunday on what would have been her 94th birthday, and it was much nicer to be thinking about her life rather than her death. Anyhow, I won't have much trouble remembering both dates for this cat. I'm not terribly upset about him, just a bit sad. He had a good long life and his decline was fast and didn't seem to hurt him - since this had to happen, it could have happened a lot worse.

But though the week was a bit rough, today has been good so far, with lots of unexpected birthday wishes. Rudder remembered to say Happy Birthdaynot only before Ileft but the instant he woke up, my cubemate (for whom I need a nom) gave me a card and present, someone to whom I'd mentioned the date a whole year ago (we were out having drinks for someone else's birthday) told several others at work, who have passed on good wishes, and I've gotten a few e-cards and good wishes online, all of which makes me feel both special and grateful. Even nicer, several of the birthday wishes have included good wishes for tomorrow's races!

Posted by dichroic at 10:53 AM | Comments (2)

March 09, 2006

feline funerary

Well, that was a day. Since we don't plan to be in our current house long-term, Rudder had the excellent and fitting idea of taking personal days off work and burying the cat up on our airpark property. For the rest of the day to make sense, I need to point out that though it's only a couple housrs from Phoenix, it's nearly 6000' higher, so there's a drastic climate change. I should also point out that while that area is pine forest instead of desert and does get more rain (and snow), it's not a lot more. Until yesterday, Phoenix had had no rain for a hundred forty-some days, and the airpark area had gotten a quarter of an inch for the year to date.

1) Load up truck with picks, shovels and other implements of destruction, plus lots of containers of water to water our trees since there's been so little rain.
2) Notice truck tires are visibly low. Make an otherwise-unneeded gas station stop to fill them before leaving.
3) Drive up 2.5 hours to property - at least it's a pretty drive. Get snowed on enroute - yes, in this year with no precipitation. Saddened at the thought of leaving cat to be snowed on.
4) Get there and spend half an hour chatting with neighbor, who's been on leave from his job in CA and staying at his adjacent property. Worry because his sweet but energetic dog is running around. I don't want him to dig up our cat. Rudder's occasional unaccountable reserve kicks in and he doesn't want me to tell neighbor what we're doing up there, so I can't just ask him to put his dog inside for a bit.
5) Dig large hole in clay soil. Hole had to be large because we'd decided to bury the cat in a box, so we wouldn't have to dump earth right on him. Good thing Rudder brought the pickax; the sequence was, Rudder use pickax to break up clay, Dichroic shovel it out. Would have been difficult with one person.
6) Bury cat. *snif* Only very light flakes of something between snow and sleet, fortunately, so they felt more like a blanket than an assault.
7) Drive to gas station to fuel up for drive home. Suddenly the truck key won't open the gas cap. Talk to nice people at DairyQueen attached to gas station, and decide to drive to local locksmith instead of waiting forever for AAA. Locksmith fixes problem quickly, only charges $10.
8) Drive home. Snow worsens as we drive over the Rim; visibility severely impaired. Rudder was driving; and I don't think he enjoyed that part.
9) Stop at local cycle store to pick up Gu for weekend race. Home. Shower. Change. By now it's 6:30. Off to Best Buy to buy a videocamera, expecting a quick choice between the three models Rudder has narrowed it down to. Turns into an hour-long ordeal with idiot salesman. Appears none will play frame-by-frame, one of the major capabilities Rudder wants (for analysis of rowing technique), but we can't fully test them in the store because some are anchored in a way that precludes putting in a tape and neither box nor salesman has the answer.
10) Go to restaurant, only to find it's packed. Decide to do takeout instead. Quick run to Apple Store while food is being prepared to find out if we could at least get a video to run frame by frame on the Mac. Answer appears to be yes, staff very helpful. Comment to Rudder, "So that's what customer service is supposed to look like!" Get dinner and get home, right around when we'd normally be going to bed.

Rudder and I agreed that, despite the aggravations of the day, it was a much more fitting way to spend it than if we'd dropped off the cat at the vet's to be cremated and gone into work as usual. At least his death was marked.

Posted by dichroic at 11:02 AM | Comments (1)

March 07, 2006

RIP Beast

No, not being trained, after all.

RIP, Beast.

The name is because he was a fairly feral kitten - a neighbor who worked with a local animal control unit rescued him and his brother when the shelter (a police one) there put his mom and the rest of the litter down. He's been with me since he was 5 weeks old, a year before either of us even met Rudder. We used to not be able to sleep with our feet outside the blankets, because he would attack our toes. He had blue eyes as a kitten that were startling against his long black fur; the neighbor who rescued him said he might have Siamese blood that would keep his eyes blue, but they did change, to a clear gold that showed up as well.

He was crotchety. He once treed a Houston cop (another neighbor) in my bathroom, and he scared more than one guest by hissing at them. But he was also empathetic and would always come to me when he knew I was upset. One day early on, when we had all first moved in together, the cat somehow knocked a closet door shut, trapping himself inside. Rudder got home first and opened the door - unfortunately, the cat then decided that the incident was Rudder's fault. When I came home I found Rudder fending the cat off with a tennis racket - I had to call the cat off and calm him down. After that rocky beginning he and Rudder because best buddies. From the winter of 2001 when I was away for three months, they went to sleep snuggled up together every night. He did mellow out a lot as he got older; he's had some trouble jumping upon things for the last few months, but it's only been the last few weeks that he hasn't been eating. It's been a quick way to go - actually, it reminds me of my grandmother (whose birthday was just Saturday). Same thing: she essentially decided it was time to go and stopped eating. In both cases, fortunately, they lived to a good age before making that decision. She met him the one time she visited me, in Houston. She didn't like him all that much, having superstitions about black cats, but they did have some things in common.

Anyway, I'm babbling now and I should quit writing. Rudder's trying to be comforting, but I should really go check if he's the one who needs comfort.

I've never had a real pet die before - as a kid, I only had goldfish and gerbils. My parents' dog died a few years ago, but that was long after I was out of the house and he and I only overlapped by a year or so. It wasn't the same.

Posted by dichroic at 07:11 PM | Comments (16)

taken advantage of

I'm beginning to suspect Rudder and I are being trained. Ever since the cat-shavingepisode it's been apparent just how thin our older cat had gotten. In the last couple of weeks, he's really seemed to be failing - a lot more litter-box near-misses (fortunately, the litter box is in a spare bathtub), one episode that resulted in our having to wash a down comforter and duvet, and a general lack of energy. He hasn't seemed to be upset or in pain, though, so we're guessing it's just age. We share a birthday, at least approximately, and he'll be 17 this week. He comes downstairs a lot less and just in general moves a lot less. The litter box is upstairs, but we've always kept the food and water in the kitchen. We added an upstairs water dish some time ago, but we've been so worried about how skinny he's getting that we've been bringing bits of tuna and canned food up to him. (Both cats have been getting dry Science Diet their whole lives.) He seems to be perking up a bit - the other cat is probably stealing the goodies, but at least we've seen the older one eating some of it. However, now he's feeling better, he just waits for us to deliver tidbits to him, and now we have sneaking feeling that he's wondering, "Hell, why didn't I figure this out years ago?" Nothing like being taken advantage of by a cat.

Actually, if you have a cat to begin with, there's also nothing UNlike being taken advantage of. Furry leeches.

Someone actually rendered me speechless earlier today. I was at a meeting in a conference room I hadn't been to before, trying to hook up to the projector mounted in there. Someone went out and got a local admin to help; it turned out to be a matter of selecting the approrpiate input via the projector's remote. In other words, something I should have figured out myself, and I said as much.

She said, "Oh, Paula, just be a girl. let someone else figure it out."

That was when my jaw dropped (literally, I think). Once I regained the ability to speak, I told her that if being girly meant dressing up in a skirt and makeup I was fine with it, but I didn't see any reason it should make me stupider around techniology - and that the relevant point was not that I'm a girl but that I'm an engineer.

People like that are one reason why the rest of us have to deal with stereotypes and glass ceilings. (The other reason, of course, is the people who believe the stereotypes and who build the glass ceilings.)

I can think of good reasons to play stupid, honestly. I just can't think of any that are worth the risk that someone might actually think you are stupid, or that are worth the self-respect I'd lose.

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

March 06, 2006

rest of the weekend.

The weekend did improve after Saturday morning. The board of the rowing's national governing body, US Rowing, was in town for their annual meeting, so rowers from all of the local groups were invited to have dinner with them. I enjoyed the dinner, taliking mostly to several board members and members of the referee committee, but probably not quite as much as Rudder did. He somehow ended up sitting with most of the athlete reps - these were all recent Olympian types, so I think he got to hear some interesting stories.

Where I was sitting, we talked more about work than rowing, but it was interesting - four relatively senior women, in four different fields, talking about dealing with bosses and such. I think I need to do that sort of networking more often.

On Sunday, Rudder went out for a row with She-Hulk and the two others who will be racing a mixed quad together next weekend, and I rowed with the Old Salt, because we'll be taking a double out in that race. It was a bit of a rocky row, but improved a lot once he got warmed up - well, the man turns 64 tomorrow, so it's not unreasonable that it takes him a few thousand meters. At least now we know, so he'll warm up a bit on the erg before our race. Only thing that worries me is that we were down to port the whole time; I'm afraid that racing that way might tweak my back a little and I've got another doubles race (with one of the junior girls) shortly after that, as well as a race in my single late in the day. I think it will be all right, though. The one thing that bugs me is that the race isn't handicapped, even though all the people in it are masters rowers. We'll be going against some fast crews (Rudder and She-Hulk, for one) and it's not like we're going to win anyway, but that handicap would have been nice. Any of this may change, though - they expect to post the final schedule today sometime.

After rowing, we all went to breakfast. Later on, I got to check out a new local yarn store - it's closer to my house than any of the existing ones and it's open on Sundays! The store was a little sparse on yarn, understandably as it was only their second day open, but did have a nice stock of various Cascade and Southwest Trading Company yarns (SWTC is a local company). I was also glad to be able to buy a little Denise add-on kit - extras of all the cables, and a few spare connectors and end-stops. They also had quite a variety of spinning wheels. (They looked intriguing, but I refuse to take up spinning, since I barely have time to knit. Also, I don't think I could read while spinning.) It was nice to hang out with the proprietors and some other local knitters including Brooke, too.

Then last night we went out to a fancy steak place for an early birthday dinner for me - it's not until Friday, but by then we'll be getting ready for the marathon and I won't be wanting steak that night (though Rudder will) much less wine. Good wine, by the way - it was a Spanish red, Bodegas Tarsus. (Rudder wanted me to write the name down, to remember it - I pointed out that that was unnecessary, since it shares a name with Dr. Who's spacecraft.)

Posted by dichroic at 03:27 PM

March 04, 2006

"Grr!" said the Manager

Well, NOW I am pissed off. Not only did I just spend half of my precious Saturday taking an exam that I don't care about for any reason but work (so why do they always schedule those on weekends? If I only need it for work, is it not a legitimate use of work time?) but I just found out I got one question wrong. I CHANGED it from the correct answer to a wrong one. I changed it BECAUSE I looked it up and my study guide turned out to be even suckier than I thought it was. I knew it sucked because of not having much of the info I needed, but I didn't know until I got home and did a quick websearch that it also had info that's flat-out wrong.


If anyone cares, the exam was for Certified Quality Manager, it's given and schedule by ASQ, the Aerican Society for Quallity, and the study guide is the CQM Primer from the Quality Council of Indiana. In the spirit of full disclosure I should note that the primer is for the pervious version of the exam (between last time it was administererd and now, they changed the exam from Certified Quality Manager to Certified Quality Manager / Operational Excellence. However, this mistake was in an area that hasn't changed. It was about one of Dr. Deming's principles, in fact, and those hadn't changed since he died over a decade ago.

Posted by dichroic at 12:35 PM | Comments (1)

February 28, 2006

on criticism

I'm having a remarkably unsuccessful sick day - "unsuccessful" in the sense that I've actually gotten quite a lot of work done. I'd been awakened by some fairly painfulstomach cramps and by morning was still feeling a bit shaky. I wanted to take a sick day, but I had three meetings to call into (two I'd set up myself), some training materials I wanted to get finished, and some necessary studying I need to do for that damned exam I have to take Saturday. Most important, I'd planned a luncheon with someone I haven't seen for years who, I recently found out, is working at another nearby site of my company's, and I didn't have her email address or phone number at home. So I drove in, picked up my laptop and study materials, and told my boss I was leaving again.

At least I've also gotten some dozing, pleasure reading and napping in as well, and knitting during meetings and while studying. Maybe I'll log it as half a sick day.

I'm pleased to be into the ribbing at the bottom of Rudder's sweater. Once I finish that, I just need to pick up and knit the ribbed neck and tuck in a few ends and I'll be done (unfortunately, just in time for 80 degree weather).

Someone commented here that she was annoyed by the Olympic commenters who asked every athlete about the flaws in their run, race, routine or game, and that she felt they were spending too much tme searching for negativity. (Unfortunately, I think I must have deleted the comment by mistake. I apologize to whoever wrote it - sometimes the real messages get lost among the blasted hordes of sp@m comments. ) She thought the commenters (I dislike the word "commentators") ought to be spending their time instead comgratulating the athletes on having achieved the level of excellence that is required to even compete in the Olympics. I've heard this argument from other people, including a college housemate who used to get upset if I made what he thought was a negative comment on any of these athletes who, after all, all have me far outclassed, but I don't really agree with it. For one thing, it would get very boring very quickly. For another, the commenters are mostly former athletes themselves in the sport they're reporting on. They know that after each run (or race or routine or game) the athletes are looking back over it, analyzing what they did right, what mistakes were made and what could be improved. I think that's what they're asking about. I have also heard, for example, the speed skater Ohno asked of his gold medal 500-meter race, "You went into that saying you needed a perfect race to win. So was that a perfect race for you?" which doesn't strike me as negative - but then perfect races are the exception, not the rule.

My gold standard, the most fun I've had watching the Olympics and the reason I try to watch them again each time in hopes ef recapturing the experience, is the 1976 Summer Olympics. Night after night my father and I sat in front of the TV, putting together a complicated jigsaw puzzle I can still visualize and watching the gymnastics. He was a former high-school gymnast and I would be one seven years later. (I was never very good, but I think he was.) The enjoyment for us was to pick each routine apart, spotting the mistakes and the things that went well. It turns out an eye for form in gymnastics allows you to critique ice-skating, the snowboarding halfpipe competitions and ski-jumping and, I realized this year, being able to spot a good race strategy in rowing has a lot of application to speedskating, so I enjoy watchig and critiquing all of those sports. What I think both the commenter here and my old housemate don't get is that this doesn't diminish the athletes in our eyes. If I say that the gymnast Olga Olgarovich has split her legs in her layout release from the unevens, or the skater Jane Doevitsch has a bad position in her spin, I'm never for a moment losing sight of her extraordinary skills, the dedication and work she's put into it, or the fact that what she's doing almost but not quite perfectly, I couldn't do at all. Rather, I'm enjoying an analytical exercise, comparing her to her Olympic peers and testing myself against the judges, to see if I can see what they're seeing and spot the tiny differences between competitors that they're spotting - or in a race where form matters, like luge or speedskating or rowing, to see if I can spot the tiny differences that keeps one athlete from catching up with another.

It's similar to when we do a video session out on the lake; we take turns videotaping each other rowing, and then we go watch and critique the video. If Rudder or She-Hulk or Dr. Bosun tells me I'm beding my arms too soon during the drive, or using too much body angle or whatever, it doesn't mean they think I'm a bad rower. It means they see where I can get better. And when they tell me about it, I thank them. My non-expert criticism will never do any of the Plympic athletes any direct good, but it won't harm them either, and it's made in much the same spirit.

Posted by dichroic at 02:08 PM

February 26, 2006

party gras report

The party went fairly well; it wasn't hugely attended, but the people who came seemed to have a good time, and Rudder and I enjoyed having them. They were a hungry crowd but not a thirsty one; most of the turkey is gone, one ofthe king cakes and all of the gumbo and jambalaya, but there are a lot of drinks left. That's better than the other way around; I'll give away the diet soda, which we don't drink, but otherwise the sodas and beer will keep until we get around to drinking them. Someone brought glow-in-the-dark Mardi Gras cups, which were a huge success and party poppers which strewed streamers and confetti - festive, but annoying to clean. She also (having been the one who talked us into having the party and so feeling some responsibility for it) brought the gumbo as well as a pitcher of hurricanes, the one drink that did go fast. Lethal, too.

This party will shine all the more by contrast to next Saturday, when I have to take a 4 hour exam for a work certification. I don't expect to enjoy that nearly as much.

Posted by dichroic at 05:48 PM

February 22, 2006

giant mutant turkeys in my fridge

It's been a day of accomplishment; my house smells good and there are three large turkeys marinating in the refrigerator. Rudder is off on a business trip, so I got to prepare the turkeys for our Mardi Gras party this weekend. (I got to go buy them myself, too, courtesy of his last business trip.) We deep fry them, Cajun style, and they have to have a spicy marinade injected. "Marinade" makes it sound simple, though; this stuff involves chopping up lots of onions, garlic, and celery, sauteeing them in butter and chicken broth, pureeing the whole mess, and injecting it all over the turkey. Or turkeys, actually. There are three duly injected and now residing in my fridge, two for the party and one for Rudder to carve up and freeze for assorted quick dinners.

I decided putting them in bags instead of Rudder's more usual large pan with foil on top would make it easier to fit them in the refrigerator, and it did, but the bagging wasn't easy. Today was my day off from working out, but between pouring the sauteed stuff from the cast-iron pan I used and lifting the injected and spice-and-goo covered turkeys into the bags, I feel like I ot a decent arm workout, at least. This sort of thing is why I lift weights: I'm strong for my size, but given that my size is extra-small, there are too many things in daily life I'd have trouble managing otherwise. (Did I mention that Rudder always wants big turkeys? These were 17-pounders. A 17-lb turkey is much harder to balance on one hand than a dumbbell of similar weight.)

It all went fairly smoothly, but it did take 3.5 hours. In the process I leanred how our blender's "pulse" feature works; unfortunately, I learned that while the lid was off. Oops. (There's one switch with high, low and pulse settings; high and low don't activate anything until other buttons are pushed.) I hadn't realized how vomitocious that pureed goop looks until it was all over me and the counter.

My boss gets a "Hero of the Mardi Gras" award for letting me telecommute today. Usually Rudder does this after work and we're up past our bedtimes. It wasn't a bad deal for the boss, either; I respomd to my first email of the day at 6Am and my last at 6PM and in between got to do a lot of other work including some I likely wouldn't have gotten to in the office. Some people like to keep work and home rigidly separated but I think I prefer mixing them up a bit. I don't feel so trapped when I can leave my work and go do something else for a few minutes and my breaks can be a lot more productive when they involve a load of laundry instead of chatting with a coworker. Now that I have a laptop with a wireless card I can work anywhere I'm comfortable - I checked email before getting out of bed this morning. Plus the food's better here . Unfortunately the boss's boss doesn't like the idea of any of us telecommuting on a regular basis.

I do hope this party turns out well. The food part will be fine, but I have no idea how many people will show up.

Posted by dichroic at 08:27 PM | Comments (2)

they like me ... except there's no "they" there

Lately most of the coment sp@m I've been getting here contains laudatory messages, instead of the ones I used to get asking if I wanted to meet hot girls, buy cheap drugs, or increase my penis size. They range from "very useful blog" or has "beautiful design! congrats to admin!" to "this site is realy very interesting" [sic], which always sounds like grudging praise, to "I have loved your site for its useful and funny content and simple design" and even "I love you so much!". (Of course, they still all contain URLs that refer to hot girls, cheap drugs or penis enlargement.) There's been a lot of it; this version of MovableType makes it easy to manage and delete sp@m but doesn't seem to have as comprehensive a list to block it.

It just feels odd to be getting such fulsome compliments from some anonymous company that's only out for my money. It's sort of simultanously gratifying and squicky to look at my comments and see that long list of "I love you, man", or words to that effect. I wish they'd just stop.

I don't understand sp@m anyway. Does anybody ever open an email from a stranger and think, "Why yes, I've been meaning to have my penis enlarged"? Or buy drugs that way? Ad if so, why?

Posted by dichroic at 01:10 PM | Comments (1)

February 21, 2006

still early to bed

Ow. Apparently it wasn't a good ide to come home from the gym last night and call one of my chattier relatives. Or at least it would have been smarter to use a headset or hold the phone in my hand, rather than between my neck and shoulder. Knitting while watching TV afterward probably didn't help either. I ended up with a muscle or nerve somehow pinched in my left shoulder. It was really hurting by the time I went to bed; a judicious combination of pressure on it and laying in a position where that shoulder wasn't squinched fixed it for last night, but it's hurting again.

So far, I have rowed Saturday (we were supposed to do a video session but couldn't get the camera working right) rowed 15K Sunday night, and did a fairly hard workout at the gym last night, with a bunch of stuff I don't usually get to in the mornings - an extended core workout, squats instead of leg press, and the incline leg press where you have to put actual weight plates on instead of sticking a little peg in a weight stack, and so on. The theory is that I'll row tonight and take tomorrow off, but we'll see. If I'm too tired to row I could take today off and erg tomorrow instead - I'll be telecommuting (yay!) so it seems silly to drive all the way to the lake, which is close to work.

I can't say that working out at night in order to watch the Olympics is being entirely successful. The problem is that, since I'm working out enough to really need 8 hours of sleep, I have to get to bed before the program is over in order to get up in time for work the next day. Even if I didn't worry about getting up at 6, by 9 or 10 I'm just tired. So I do get to watch a lot more of the Olympics than I would otherwise, but I don't get to see the medal-winning performances, since usually the top-seeded athletes are on last.

One more thing: I'm trying to figure out what to knit when I finish Rudder's sweater. Sine I can't (or at least don't know if there's a way to) have a poll here, I've put one up over at my LJ site. Go tell me what to do next. (In a nice way, of course.)

Posted by dichroic at 12:31 PM

February 20, 2006

but siriusly

Holy shit. That was both seriously cool and seriously hilarious. (Seriously, Red.) I just heard the Del McCoury cover Richard Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" - as bluegrass. It worked surprisingly well. The funniest part was when they changed Thompson's very English Box Hill (I always wonder if it was the same on which Emma Woodhouse and Frank Churchill picnicked) to a more Appalachian Knoxville. It worked surprisingly well, though as a folkie rather than a bluegrass fan of course I prefer the original.

I love me someSirius Disorder.

Posted by dichroic at 07:57 PM | Comments (1)

the flannel sheets are calling...

It turns out that erging 15 km while watching prime-time Olympics coverage is very conducive to sleeping like a dead thing, but not so good for getting up for work the next morning. Rudder's away again too, which probably contributed to my deep sleep. The cats may move more but they weigh so much less that they wake me less. Still, even though the sleep was deep, even though I got eight hours, it wasn't long enough. I'm meeting someone after work to row a double tonight, so I may just need to try for nine hours of sleep instead of eight.

My boss was saying the other day that he didn't see why people needed to waste so much time sleeping (instead of working - don't worry, he was mostly joking). On the other hand, Rudder and I find that the more exercise we get the more sleep we need, and I read something recently by a Olympian rower, now retired, that said that while in training she used to get 9-10 hours a night plus naps.

I can hear my bed calling and it's currently ten miles away.

Preparations are well under way for Saturday's Mardi Gras party. On Wednesday I get to telecommute, which will make injecting seasoning into the turkeys much easier. (Of course it will also mean more time spent unable to breathe, because of the amount of onions and garlic I have to sautee with seasoning.) I do hope enough people turn up to make it fun.

Posted by dichroic at 01:56 PM

February 17, 2006

I'm back, and all booked up

Just in case anyone's wondering, I'm back. I actually got home last night, but didn't have much time then (I was a good girl: flew in, drove home from the airport, got here around 6::30, ate a quick dinner and erged 6K), and the Internet was down at work all day. Albuquerque was quite nice and I can highly recommend the restaurant El Pinto - apparently President Bush ate there just a few weeks ago, and the people we were with made us get nachos for an appetizer because he'd had them.

I'm also poud to say I've now cataloged the books I bought at a large local booksale last week - 29 books for $38! Actually, it was the two volume annotated Sherlock Holes plus a hardback copy of Chaucer for $21 and the other 26 for $17. The challenge now, of course, is finding room for them all.

Posted by dichroic at 07:39 PM | Comments (1)

February 14, 2006

our wedding, and some preliminary matter

First: if any of you who are US citizens are interested the ACLU is putting together a petition for an investigation into White House soy ing on citizens, here. (If you're not a citizen and you want to protest, the administration's certainly giving you no lack of options in their foreign policy.)

I think this knitting thing's getting a little out of hand. My stash still fits in one big plastic container, but right now I have in work one sweater for Rudder (one sleeve done, one nearly so, then there's the body from the armpits down to do), and one pair of socks to match (barely started). I have yarn for a shawl for me (debating between another Clapotis or some simple lace) and gloves for Rudder (same pattern I did for my Dad, since it worked so well), not one but two sleeveless shells, plus a couple of odd balls of yarn for which I'm considering something like this or maybe this. Also, I want to make a kipah (yarmulke) for my mom, so I probably need some nice colorful cotton yarn for that in a sock or DK weight. I'm glad I started the socks, though - I've got a short business trip tomorrow and Thursday, and the sweater would have been too bulky to take along easily. Also it sheds like a cat.

There are worse earworms to have than Tom Paxton's song "Gettin' Up Early". I mention this to share it with any of you stuck with more annoying songs, though obviously it only works if you're actually acquainted with the song.

For some reason, that reminds me: I've been thinking about our wedding lately, after talking about it to my cubemate who's at the very beginning of planning her own. There are really not that many things I'd change if I could. The hotel we had it at managed brilliantly: the ceremony was in one room, set up with rows of chairs for our guests, and then they shooed us out for drinks into a private lobby while they opened the room into the one next to it and set the two up for dinner and dancing. No one had to drive between the wedding and reception. Since it was out in the 'burbs (his neighborhood, in fact) instead of downtown, our in-town guests weren't charged for parking while there was plenty of history nearby for the out-of-towners. The hotel provided candles, mirrors, and greenery for centerpieces, while the florist got exactly the shades I wanted for our bouquets. The people we wanted there most were there, and the JP did a nice ceremony that we wish we could remember. I'm glad we picked our attendents by friendship rather than gender. The honeymoon in Jamaica was one of the very few relaxing vacations we've taken together, which was exactly what we needed then.

There are a couple of things that were OK, but that I wish we could have done better. It would have been nice to videotape the ceremony because neither of us can really remember our vows. (I know I didn't promise to "obey" though - I was listening for that!) This being 1993, I was unable to find a dress without big puffy sleeves, though I tried - I liked my dress otherwise. (Wedding dresses in general turn out to be much more flattering than I'd expected.) I wish I could have found dresses the female attendents would wear again, but they all rejected my suggestion that they all pick any white dress they liked. (The dresses were white and tea-length, with gentle scoop necks and slightly puffed sleeves. Not unflattering and none of them fit badly, but I doubt they got worn for anything else.) Still, it was a pretty wedding, in my biased opinion.

The one thing I wish I could change was the music. If I could do it again, I'd interview several DJs. (Actually, if I could do it now I'd choose each song, preload it on an MP3 player, and ask someone trustworthy to manage the music and call us up for our first dance. The DJ we had seemed to have only 60s and 70s music, none of the more current stuff Rudder wanted and not even the song his parents requested (Twelfth of Never, not exactly obscure.) Also, while I couldn't have picked anything more perfect than "Sunrise, Sunset" for my dance with my father and Rudder's with his mother (my family has a lot of memories around that song), Rudder and I danced to "Unchained Melody", and while the tune is pretty, the lyrics were just not appropriate for the wedding of a couple who'd been living together. I was in a hurry when I picked it. If I could do that again, we'd dance to Si Kahn's "Like Butter Loves Bread", or Garnet Rogers' "All There Is" (actually, that song probably didn't exist yet) or maybe even "Some Enchanted Evening", which is easy to dance to and quite appropriate for us.

On the other hand, that's a pretty minor thing, to be the biggest change I'd make if I could redo our wedding. I'd marry the same man, no questions and no hesitation. And really, as long as the marriage is happy these thirteen years later, who cares what went wrong at the wedding?

Posted by dichroic at 12:21 PM

February 13, 2006

Monday braindump

I kept thinking I ought to update over the weekend, and I kept not getting around to it, so here's the Monday brain-dump.

I felt like I did good work on Friday. Due to all the reorganization around here and the resulting disruption of relationships and traditions, if it weren't for me, it's quite possible that a man would have retired after 35 years with this company -- all at one site, even -- and just walked out the door with no fuss or celebrations at all. And this is someone who's worked with people across that site and whom everyone loves, mind you, not someone whom nobody knows. Instead, we had a luncheon out with most of the people from my - and his - favorite group of coworkers. So many other people wanted to come along that I and a few others in that group did a little judicious pushing and as a result there was a proper cake in the cafeteria, with signs all over the plant, all organized by his current department. I hear a couple hundred people stopped by for that. Now he gets to embark on retirement feeling appreciated by the company he gave so many years to. It's possible someone else would have planned that, but as of three weeks before his retirement no one had, and I did, and now I'm feeling like I've done something of value.

I did get to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremonies on Friday night. It's funny, everyone always complains about NBC's intrusive commenting, but I could have used a bit more of it. There were a few points in the ceremonies where I could have used a bit more guidance as to what eactly was going on. For instance in the section where a mass of people formed up into the shape of a skater, a skiier, a ski jumper et cetera, I didn't figure out what they were doing until halfway through the formations. The earlier parts just looked like a giant walking, and a hint would have been nice. The 'splodey-head guys, with flames shooting out behind them were pretty cool, and I liked the krummhorns and the ladies leading each delegation of athletes with their skirts like mountains from a miniature railroad. Still, does anyone than me ever read the original Olympic ideals? This was not supposed to be about "America won two medals" and "Finland always wins the ski jump" and "The Netherlands owns speed skating": it's supposed to be about the athletes competing regardless of national rivalries. I know they all march together in the Closing Ceremonies, but that's after two weeks of nationalities. I'd like to see them all march in together - or, better, march in as countries and then swirl into one amorphous group, like a pre-Babel soceity based on sports instead of language.

I do like all the nicknames: "The Flying Tomato", and "The Exception", Tomba "La Bomba" and "The Herminator" and so on. I wish Michelle Kwan had decided to pull out a little earlier so Hughes could have gotten to march in the Opening Ceremonies - or maybe she could have anyway, as an alternate and just chose not to. I like Bode Miller's independence and refusal to conform, though I've concluded he lives deep inside his own head that I pity anyone he lives with.

My favorite moment of the Games to date was when some newswoman (Katie Couric?) was interviewing the female speed skater who had been elected to carry the U.S.A. flag in the parade of athletes and asked her, "Have you gotten a chance to practice with the flag? I hear it's very heavy - do you think you'll have any trouble with it?"

The Olympic speed skater responded, "Well, you know, I work out a lot. I think I'll be able to manage it."

With luck, that particular anchor won't view any future Olympians she interviews as poor weak little girlies.

Posted by dichroic at 02:44 PM | Comments (1)

February 10, 2006

Rudder back

I get a Rudder back tonight, yay! He did call yesterday, and we discussed the fact that taking a cab home is a trivial additional annoyance for him whereas driving out to the airport in the tail of rush hour and then finding parking is a PITA for me. He also pointed out that he's not conveying me to or from the airport for my business trip next week (we hadn't discussed it but it's close enough to work hours that I wasn't expecting him to). I felt guilty enough to offer a bribe er, an exchange of favors, but then I benefit from that as well. And I promised to tape the Olympic Opening Ceremonies for him, since we seem to be one of the few households in the US that is still lacking TiVo.

I did row before work this morning, and had the lake nearly to myself. Local rowing seems to be in something of a decline at the moment, or maybe too many people got tired of getting up early and are rowing late in the day. There was no one else at all rowing out of the boatyard, not even by the time I left. From the marina where the City program stores its boats, there was one four with a coaching launch, and another eight got out right around the time I was finishing, and that's it. Given that in earlier times there could be 50 or 70 people from several programs rowing in the morning, it felt strangely empty out there. But it's still fairly chilly in the mornings (high 40s today), and we do always have a down time in the number of rowers in winter.

It was nice having the quiet water, but of course rowing alone in the dark and cold isn't the safest thing. Still, at least I have some control over whether I fall in. What bothers me more is being in the boatyard area alone in the dark - it sets all my city-girl reflexes off. As far as I know, there hasn't been any sort or crime or violence there yet, but still.

Hey, did I mention I get a Rudder back tonight? With Dutch chocolate, even. (The nom's appropriate, too - I do feel a little adrift without him.)

Posted by dichroic at 04:04 PM

February 09, 2006


How bad a wife would I be if I stayed home to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremonies instead of picking Rudder up at the airport tomorrow night? I mean, assuming I discussed it with him first so he's not just standing there waiting for me like a lost puppy. (Of course, if he doesn't get a chance to call me today, it will be a moot point and I'll have to go anyway.)

I'm having a ridiculously hard time deciding whether to row in the morning, go to work (which is right near the airport), go home, and then go back to the airport to pick him up, or row between work and the airport. (Another sensible option would be just to work until 7 or so, but frankly, yuck.) The reason this decision is so hard, I've realized, is that I'm not crazy about rowing at either time. I like rowing in the morning, but not the part about getting up at 4AM and immediately venturing out into the cold. I don't like rowing after work as much because I'm tired then. Also, the lake tends to be crowded for the first while, though it gets calmer after a bit, and is nice once the sun is setting. It would entail going to the airport in dampish rowing clothes, too, though of course I could put somethign on over them.

Right now I'm leaning toward rowing beffore work, then going home and setting up the VCR to tape the ceremonies before heading back to the airport for Rudder. Unless he calls and volunteers to take a cab home :-)

Posted by dichroic at 12:35 PM | Comments (1)

February 08, 2006

unrelated brain dribbles

I always knew Maria was bright. In a conversation we were having about an entry of hers she wrote, "I do agree that semantics is very important here." I get so annoyed with people who say, "Well, that's just semantics," as if that were a reason to brush something aside as unimportant. Come on, people, semantics are the meaning of words and words are all we have to express our hopes, wishes, dreams, faith, deductions, fears and thoughts! How much more important could they be?


Knitting certainly is an expensive hobby. My city's Stitch'n'Bitch (Stitch'n'Bitch Stitch'n'Bitch Stitch'n'Bitch!! - take that you greedy people claiming trademark!) group has a lot of smaller meetings in the different parts of town, and last night I finally got to the monthly gathering at an Australian wine store only a mile from my house. I enjoyed myself; I'd planned to take this morning as my off day from exercise, so I didn't have to rush home, and some of my favorite people showed up. Including this silly person, who actually flew in all the way from Atlanta just for this meeting! I didn't spend quite as much as she did, but between two glasses of wine and the bottle I bought for Rudder for Valentine's Day, because it was from a part of New Zealand we enjoyed and was rated as a top wine, it wasn't a cheap evening. (Shh, don't tell Rudder about the wine. I got him some good truffles the other day too, but that's sort of coals to Newcastle for someone who's in the Netherlands at the moment.) Hey, I didn't say the knitting supplies were the expensive part.


The other night I was watching that Celebrity Skating show. I could have predicted Bruce Jenner and Tai Babilonia would win - oddly enough, because of my rowing coaching experience. Granted Jenner was the oldest one there, and it's been quite a while since he was an Olympian, but he's just done enough different sports where he would have to have a good awareness of his body - where the different parts of him are in space. I figure things like wrist position must matter in shotput and javelin throw, and hip and leg angle on the high jump. He may be a bit rusty and his body will have changed a bit since those days, which could account for the fact that evidently the pair didn't do all that well in their first few showings, but once he gets used to moving his body as it is now, that knowledge must make him more coachable than anyone who hasn't done that kind of sport. As for teaching rowing, I'll take a ballerina over a football player anytime - the ballerina can straighten her wrists, can control the rollout of legs, then body, then arms during the recovery, and won't get upset if s/he gets big ugly blisters, even if they are on hands instead of feet.

Posted by dichroic at 01:41 PM | Comments (1)

February 07, 2006

geese & gonzo

I had one of those moments this morning in which you realize that you've been a complete idiot for most of your life on some tiny point. The Broadway station was playing on the satellite radio, and Julie Andrews came on singing about her fav'rite things. And all of a sudden, I realized that the line "wilde geese that fly with the moon on their wings" was meant to be about geese flying at night with the moonlight on their wings, synecdoche rather than literal image. Even so, though that's a pretty thought, I still prefer my original image, of a flight of geese with their V-formation lined with so that it looks like it's supporting a rising moon. It seems to me to be wilder and more mythic somehow.

(Characteristic. Too stupid to figure out a simple line in a song I've known all her life, but when I do figure it out, I know it's synecdoche.)

Another odd thing I was thinking about: why do I know how to curtsey? I do, and I think I learned how as a very small girl, but what I can't figure out is why anyone would have bothered to teach me. Curtseying was just not done much by the 1970s, at least not in the US or at least not in the part of it where I lived. Maybe I asked to learn after reading Alice? ("Curtsey while you're thinking what to say; it saves time.")

I've seen news today that was so funny I actually went and looked to make sure it was real. According to the Washington Post (which I think is actually our national papre of record) , Arlen Spector really did accuse Alberto Gonzales of "smoking Dutch Cleanser". As for Gonzales'claim that "President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance of the enemy on a far broader scale -- far broader -- without any kind of probable cause standard, all communications in and out of the country," he actually did say those words - but only *after*, in the beginning of his speech, giving examples of Washington intercepting letters, Lincoln intercepting telegraphs without warrants, Wilson getting copies of every cable into or out of the US, and Roosevelt giving the military authority to review, without warrant, all telecommunications passing into or out of the United States.

So the bit about Washington's electronic surveillance was a stupid thing to say, but it was a slip of the tongue rather than complete idiocy. I'm not denying Gonzales's whole argument is pretty stupid, however; apparently somebody, or a whole lot of somebodies, wasn't paying attention in fourth grade when they were taught about that whole checks and balances thing.

Posted by dichroic at 01:07 PM | Comments (3)

February 06, 2006

the flags

Me (to cubemate): So, not to be divisive or anything, but how come the flags were at half mast for Rosa Parks but not for Betty Friedan?
Her: Don't know. Who makes that decision, anyway?
Me: It's the President .... Oh. Guess I answered my own question.

Explanation: I don't begrudge a whit of the honors given to Rosa Parks or to Coretta Scott King; I was glad to see them. It's easy to make an argument that Coretta's case is different, that she was honored for a whole lifetime of leading the fight against prejudice, war and poverty. Rosa Parks fought prejudice her whole life too, but the thing for which she is most honored is for being the living spark that set off the latest and hottest fire in that fight. In that respect, I think the analogy to Betty Friedan is accurate. I hesitated before posting this, because as both women's predecessors like the Grimkes and Sojourner Truth knew, the two battles are not separate but are part of a larger war against injustice in general.

Still, I think the lack of honors given to Friedan are an accurate barometer of the current level of social acceptance of feminism. I'm happy with how far we've come (far enough that when I read The Feminine Mystique I was shocked by the attitudes Friedan described) but it's as if we're supposed to believe that we got here without a fight, presumably because male society spontaneously decided that the previous state of affairs was wrong and women deserved something closer to equal opportunities and equal pay.

It's important to ackowledge and study the fight to get where we are. If all this was a gift, it can as easily be taken away.

I'm not sure why we honor the fight for equality of the races but not of the sexes. Both have captured a lot of ground, but neither fight has yet been won. In both cases, there are plenty of people who declare that the battle is over and equality reached when that isn't the experience of the people concerned, in an effort to prevent more ground from being won. My instinct says that the more the fights for equality among races, genders, and sexual preference are separated, the worse for those fighting - I wouldn't say there's anyone actually strategizing against either, but divide and conquer is an effective strategy nonetheless.

Posted by dichroic at 08:48 AM | Comments (1)

February 05, 2006

I got rocks!

Rudder had a bit o a problem on Friday night. While packing for a trip to the Netherlands, he couldn't find his drivers license. We'd had to use them a lot when we were in Vegas in December, because they wanted to see them every time we used a credit card, and he couldn't remember using it after that. He finally recalled that he'd had to show it at the hotel in San Diego in January, and when he called them, they had the card. Why they couldn't have actually called to tell him they had it anytime in the past three weeks we have no idea. So they'll be sending it to him, but that doesn't help a lot with his trip, on which he was supposed to rent a car. This is another time when his anal-retentive tendencies have come in handy: he did find a photocopy of his license. It's possible they'll let him have the car with that and his passport, but I don't know how likely that is.

Fortunately, he'll be in the Netherlands as opposed to, say, the US. He can take a train from Amsterdam to Eindhoven, where he'll be working, and then he should be able to get rides in to work with other people.

I went for the traditional "Rudder's away" massage yesterday. Today I was going to go for a long hike, but I decided to go row after dropping him off at the airport, since the lake is right by it. So I did a shorter hike today, up a small mountain called Usery Peak. It's 1.6 miles to the end of the trail, which isn't at the top of the mountain but at a formation called the Wind Caves (so 3.2 miles round trip), and it's about 800' elevation gain. I always think of it as being a short and easy hike, and am always surprised at how steep it is. But I didn't stop for any breaks on the way up and didn't have any problems with my knees or ankles, which tend to be weak, on the way down. Also, on some hikes I've had an issue on the way down in which when I step at an angle, my boot feels like a knife cutting into a tendon below my ankle bone. I don't know if the problem is from the boot or from my foot, but at any rate it didn't happen today.

I think my favorite part of the hike was near he end, when a little girl, maybe four or five years old, who was going up with her family came up to me and said, "I got rocks!", holding up her hand to show me three rounded stones. (Actually, she said "I got wocks!") This was, again, on a hiking trail. On a mountain. In the desert. No death of rocks, from sand grains on up to boulders. But she was pretty excited about her three special "wocks".

Posted by dichroic at 06:56 PM | Comments (1)

February 03, 2006

long quiet weekend

I get to leave work a bit early today. Unfortunately, it's because we have an appointment to go do our taxes. It's sort of like when you have a dentist appointment during the day; you get to leave work for it, but you don't get to be happy about it.

(Actually, this is better than that. Rudder and I have never yet managed to get just the right amount taken out each paycheck, so we err on the side of overpaying so that we get money back instead of having to pay now. Just our own little short-term loan to the government.)

I'm going to have a long weekend, or at least it will feel that way. Rudder's off on a business trip starting tomorrow, and time always seems to expand when there's only me to consider. I have no idea why this happens, but I wonder if the perceived telecoping of time as we age is at least partly because older people are more likely to be married or otherwise partnered. I will do the erging I skipped this morning, and try to accomplish a few little things around the house, but there will also be a massage, plenty of knitting and reading, maybe a trip to my favorite shoe store, and whatever food I want to eat. (I suspect that dinner next week will consist of a bowl of popcorn more than once - I tend to eat my biggest meal at lunchtime anyway.) Maybe I'll skip the erg and go off on a hike, since the weather is still cool enough for that to be possible. (Though it is going up to 80 F this weekend.) I haven't been hiking in far too long a time, and I miss the mountains a bit.

Posted by dichroic at 12:56 PM

February 02, 2006

A bunch of product reviews

One pan, three plaudits, though not in that order.

Ugg Boots
The problem with Uggs is they got to be fashionable - which still wouldn't be a major problem except that in that process people lost site of the basic concept. The genius of Uggs is that they are meant to be worn without socks, which puts snuggly absorbent sheeps' wool against your feet. This is a very good thing if your feet are cold. It's even better if your feet are cold and wet, as they tend to be if, say, you have just stepped out of your boat into the water, carried it up the sandy beach to the slings or boathouse, and washed the sand off it and your feet. This is why Uggs are very common among rowers at races in California during chilly parts of the year or day (which, in California, can be fairly random). It's also a good thing if you've just surfed in, put down your board, and taken off your wetsuit, and therein lies the clue to the etymUggology of the ugly boots. They're surfer gear. So while I have some sympathy for people who get annoyed at seeing them become a part of every other teenaged girl's dress-up-for-the-Mall outfit, I don't mind seeing people wear their surf gear casually. I think they look OK with jeans. They're much*] cuter with the tights and fleece top I'd wear for rowing - but note that these are not the things I'd wear out to socialize in.

Unlike most of their clones, Uggs have the same sheepskin all around your foot, including below it. Other manufacturers, maybe because they're reasching for the fashion-boot market, never seemed to get the wear-without-socks memo, and often seem to have either an inferior grade or fake sheepskin underfoot. Since I was worried about abosorbency, not to mention any sand that might still be on my feet, I didn't want that. The other facet of this is that the soles are fairly basic - you can get versions with soles that look more supportive, but the plain Uggs don't have anything like hiking insoles. I wouldn't wear mine for walking miles on hard surfaces, but they're blissfully comfy around the house and come my next chilly West-Coast regatta, my feet won't be chilly any more.

Martin's Pretzels
The claim on the website that these are "generally considered to be the best pretzels in the world" intrigued me enough to convince me to order a box. First I have to say that claim is just wrong. Martin's may be handtwisted, but they can't match the sourdough flavor of Snyders of Hanover - or the goodness of a real Philly soft pretzel (none of those awful Auntie Anne's abominations) though soft pretzels are really a different category. That said, though, the Martin's pretzels are pretty darned good, and quite addictive. The sourdough flavor is there, though not as noticeable as in Snyders. The best thing about them in my opinion is that they're baked very dark - I inherited a taste for nearly-burnt pretzels from my father. They're not as teeth-shatteringly hard as the Snyders, either, which is nice. They're available in salted and unsalted. (I myself will never eat unsalted pretzels until the day a doctor threatens me with dire effects if I don't - my blood pressure is just dandy, thank you - but I thought other people might like to know.) The salted ones tend to be a little too salty, but you can always rub a little off before eating. Oddly, the three-pound box I ordered from Martin's came fille with little bags of three or four pretzels. It's fairly convenient, actually, though I have a hunch that every time I eat a bagful I'm getting three or four times the recommended serving size. But they sure as tasty.

Tweezerman Mini
This is the one pan in these reviews. I guarantee that if you read any American fashion magazine's "best products" article, they'll list Tweezerman as the best tweezers. I've always been curious, but I couldn't quite bring myself to pay $18 for a silly pair of tweezers. Sure, they'll resharpen them for free, but that assumes you'll actually send them in for sharpening and I know myself well enough to know that's unlikely. This time at the drugstore, while I was facing the rack of tweezers, I decided to balance between the lure of the good stuff and the pinch of the wallet by getting the Minis, which are $6 cheaper than the full-sized version. Also, they come with a brightly colored case, helpful for finding with your glasses off.

Well, the case was nice. The tweezers, not so much. It is true that they were as precise as Tweezerman claimed, and it was easy to close on each little hair with them. Only problem is, they wouldn't grip on that hair - give a yank and the tweeze comes away with nothing in its grip. So yeah, they have nice sharp edges and all, but I was entirely unable to actually remove any hair with them, which is, after all, the raison d'etre of eyebrow tweezers, which is why my pair is probably now several feet deep in a landfill somewhere.

Sirius satellite radio:
This isn't something we'd have bought for ourselves. It was a gift last Xmas from members of Rudder's family who know we do a lot of driving trips. When we got it, Rudder seemed to have some issues installing it in his Hummer, and I was disappointed to find out that the folk music radio station listed on the box isn't there any more. Our tradition is that the driver gets to pick what we listen to, so on last month's trip to San Diego we got to hear a lot of the comedy stations and a little of the hard rock. I drive a lot more each day than Rudder does, so the obvious thing after the trip was to put in in my car, to see if I liked it enough to keep paying the monthly fee.

Well. Charge my card, because once away from Rudder's control, this is good stuff. While playing around with it in the house to learn its little quirks, I found a bunch of singer-songwriter songs on the Sirius Disorder station, and realized after a bit that none other than Pete and Maura Kennedy were the DJs. Then they did a nice long live interview, including several songs, with Janis Ian. I had no trouble installing it on my car (I didn't permanently attach the wires though, since this was just for a test) and had none of the problems Rudder had encountered in getting it to receive and play clearly (probably because his car is such a big hunk or metal. Then on my way to work that first morning I heard a number of folkie types whose CDs I have - Martin Sexton, Great Big Sea, Townes van Zandt,among others, and none of those get any play at all on the radio stations out here. Since then I've been switching between Sirius Disorder and the Coffeehouse for everything from those artists to Tracy Chapman, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Jack Jones, Dan Bern, Norah Jones, Chris Izaak - both the folkier and the bigger-name singer/songwriters pop up. I've also spent a good chunk of time on the Broadway station, with everything from Rogers & Hammerstein to Rent to Be Distressed (a parody about Disney taking over Broadway). And Christine Pedi hosts in the morning. I've also listened to the NPR stations (two!) and PRI and CBC for news, and a station that does nothing but traffic and weather for Phoenix and San Diego (I think it senses where you are - I haven't heard San Diego traffic yet). Since I have a convertible, I've been hiding the radio unit or taking it with me when I park the car in public - it pops right out of its cradle. I haven't had too much trouble locating and pressing the buttons while driving, even with the unit on the passenger side of the dashboard. (Remember: very small car.)

So, good stuff, and I'll probably keep the service. Only a few quibbles. 1) No trad folk music. 2) It only plays plugged in, not on a rechargeable battery like an iPod. I've only got one plug in my car and I can't listen to the satellite radio unplugged for a bit while I charge a cell phone. 3) At least with this car setup, we get lousy reception in the house. There is a house antenna / cradle I could buy separately that the radio unit plugs into, so I don't know if that would be better.

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

January 30, 2006

Mardi gras?

I seem to have all kinds of ideas of things to write about ... until I sit down at the computer, then they all go away.

We're debating whether to have our more-or-less annual Mardi Gras party this year. I feel that it's important to have it, this year of all years - but Rudder's travel schedule for work isn't conducive to a party Mardi Gras weekend or the weekend before, and since the whole traditional point of the event is to get your celebrating in before Lent begins, having one afterwards just feels wrong. If we do decide to have one, I'll need to do all the turkey-injecting (of seasonings) on my own. It's a formidable job. (So is cleaning up the kitchen afterward.)

On the other hand, someone else has volunteered to make and bring gumbo, so that's a big inducement. And the Olympics closing cermony isn't until the SUnday of that weekend. Oh, and by the way, I will not be doing the Knitting Olympics this year. More stress, I don't need. While I am looking forward to the chance to knit while watching much more TV than usual (at least, when I'm not erging in front of the Olympics) I'm more intrested in getting farther on the sweater I've already started. I do plan to start some socks soon (I like to have a small portable project going) but don't expect I could finish them in two weeks unless I didn't do much of anything else, which sort of takes away from that whole "knitting for fun" idea.

In other news, Rudder is convinced that the cat's fur is already growing back noticeably. I'm just convinced Rudder is imagining things.

Posted by dichroic at 01:39 PM

January 27, 2006

creation and elaboration

Drat. I don't know why the line breaks in yesterday's poemlet were all screwed up, but they're better now. Funny thing: I started out heading to work in a crappy mood. Then I started thinking about this poem built around an image I'd been playing with, of a round peg in an ill-fitting round hole, and suddenly I felt much better. I don't know whether that was just because of the feeling of accomplishment from making something, or from converting the things that are bothering me into something I like, or what, but it's something to remember.

Today I did get up and go rowing; I've been erging instead most days, because it lets me sleep an hour later and not go out into the cold. It was nice and calm today, but COLD. I spent half the row trying to put together a slightly goofy sonnet (these things would get finished much faster if I could take notes in the boat!) and the other half thinking about the connection between my arms and legs during the stroke and between my right arm and the water, because that didn't feel as solid as it ought to be. (I think some of that was due to wake, though.) It felt good, anyway; I wanted to keep the rating low but the pressure high through the practice and I'm satisfied that I did, for 10.2 km. Then since I skipped yesterday, I'll probably go to the gym tomorrow while Rudder does a half-marathon on the erg.

The other thing we need to do tomorrow is take our cat to the vet. He's been losing weight and getting lots of mats in his fur on the back half of his body. We went to the vet a couple of weeks ago, and she discussed the weightloss but didn't seem too concerned about the matted fur. It's getting worse, though, and we've found several mats entirely removed and laying on the rug. So tomorrow we'll take him into the groomers at the vet's office, and see if they have seen anything like this. We're wondering if he's just getting too old to groom himself, though you'd think the other cat would pitch in in that case. Whatever's causing the styling problems as well as the weightloss doesn't seem to be bothering him any; he's slowed down considerably but seems happy, and he is nearly 17, after all.

Posted by dichroic at 12:42 PM

January 25, 2006

Ms Pangloss speaks

Workwise, this has just been a frustrating day in a frustrating week in a frustrating month in a frustrating year.

Of course, that all loses some of its dramatic force when you recollect that we're still in January. Some other parts of my life are frustrating too, like my finances (savings still a little lower and Visa balance a little higher than I'd like - how I wish I'd quit flying sooner! - though they're still both in decent shape by most standards, I think) and my lack of decisions about competing and training this year, but all of those things are my own fault and are not nearly as annoying to me. The issues heterodyne, though: I will feel freer to take risks and make changes once my finances are slapped back into shape.

Am I just a privileged girl whining because she can't have cake and a pony too? Totally. There are more things right with my life than there are wrong with it.

On the way home from work after a crappy day, I like to play the "best thing possible" game: What's the best thing that could happen today? It has to be in the bounds of possibility; no fair dreaming about winning the lottery if I haven't bought a ticket. They can range from things that are barely possible (winning the lottery) to virtually certain (an evening with Rudder). Today's best possible things include the arrival of any of a few expected packages and knitting while rereading "Le Ton Beau de Marot". Come to think of it, I think Rudder has a meeting tonight, but I still get to snuggle with him before going to sleep, plus I can make one of my favorite dinners that he's not especially fond of (gambas al ajillas and dilled potatoes). And the one package I most confidently expect contains the fuzzy boots (fuzzy on the inside) I finally broke down and bought, so my feet will be happy. In addition, there could be beads, pretzels (I ordered some that claim to be the "world's best), a blazer, or even, remote possibility, a much delayed Chanukah present from the relative who tends to be vague about such things. Plenty of possibilities plus virtually assured Rudder-snuggles - lots to look forward to.

Except I started thinking about them too soon and now I'm anxious to go home. Oops. What are your best possible things today?

Posted by dichroic at 03:15 PM | Comments (3)

January 24, 2006


This is my 2000th entry! That makes me verbose even among bloggers. I thought about trying to write something profound .... for about a microsecond. Instead I'll write something totally frivolous because it seems more appropriate, on one of my core subjects (rowing, books, flying, knitting, clothes).

I'm a little disappointed today. I'm wearing a vest I bought this weekend, buttery soft cherry red suede with laser cut-outs. I got a smokin' deal on it, less than half price, but the thing was, when I tried it on this weekend, while wearing jeans, boots, lace tank top and a straw cowgirl hat I was trying on just for fun, it looked cool.

I was figuring I could wear it with my floaty long brown skirt and feel like a wood nymph. (I've always had a fondness for Maid Marian sort of clothing, to the point that I was thinking of this not as a vest but as a jerkin.) Both the vest and the skirt come from (different) stores that cater to women of a certain age (that I am fast approaching), but I shop there because they also cater to women who like interesting detailing in their clothing. I was enjoying the idea of pairing a vest and skirt aimed at middle-aged women to achieve a wood-nymph look.

Only problem was, provenance overpowered me. When I tried them on together, the two pieces, with a fitted white long-sleeved T-shirt under vest, looked less wood-nymph/Maid Marian and more, well.... middle aged. I tried again with a brown shirt matching the skirt, and the effect was better but still not what I wanted, plus I wasn't thrilled with the cherry-red right on top of the brown. So I gave up for yesterday and just wore brown on brown with boots, to achieve something much closer to the look I wanted.

Today I tried again with the jerkin / vest over the white shirt, first with a black skirt with red and white embroidery, then when I decided that was still too middle-aged, over dark gray pants and black boots. It's better, but still.... I'm going to try again, with a black shirt underneath, or jeans on a Friday, or a tank top in summer. I think the lesson is, one item from the middle-aged store can be cool, but I need to be very careful in putting two or more together, because apparently middle-aged-ness is an additive property.

Or maybe I should have bought the cowboy hat.

I'm actually up past 2000 entries, because there have been a few in my LiveJournal instead of in here. I tend to put memes in there, because the memes usually come from the LJ community. One I posted yesterday, though, is so lovely I'm going to cross post it. It's below the cut tag, to spare anyone who's already seen it at LJ.

Leave a list of fictional characters in your journal that you would love to get a message from. It is your friend-list's mission, should they choose to accept it, to write you an in-character "letter" from a character on that list. Then they post their own list in their journal and the process continues!

1. Danny Dunn (from Danny Dunn and the ... series
2. Oswald Bastable (E. Nesbit)
3. the Dowager Duchess of Denver (ditto)
4. Meg Murray (Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and sequelae)
5. Valancy Snaith / Redfern (of L.M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle
6. Susan Voight (Bull & Brust's Freedom and Necessity)
7. Anne Elliott (Jane Austen's Persuasion)
8. John (Elizabeth Peters' Vicky Bliss books)
9. John (Manly Wade Wellman)
10. Hermione Granger (JK Rowling)
11. Jacqueline Kirby (Elizabeth Peters)
12. Peter Shandy (Charlotte MacLeod)
13. Cecelia (of Wrede and Stevermer's Sorcery & Cecelia: or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot)
14. Jane Brailsford (Caroline Stevermer's A Scholar of Magics)
15. Nick Mallory (Diana Wynne Jones, Deep Secret and The Merlin Conspiracy
16. Will Stanton (Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising)
17. Stalky (Rudyard Kipling)
18. Puck (Kipling's version)
19. The Thing (Fantastic Four)
20. Merlin (T.H. White's version)

Posted by dichroic at 03:26 PM | Comments (3)

January 20, 2006


I'm having a Good Pants day. Back in October, I was shopping in San Diego (at JournalCon with LA - shopping with a friend was a treat for me, as I usually do it alone and LA is a fabulous shopping partner) when I came across a pair of cords I liked in the Levi's store. They were nearly perfect: great fit, good color, low-waisted enough for comfort but not low enough to put my underwear on display, and they made my butt look good. (Because really, why else wear tight pants?) But they were too long by several inches. LA suggested I buy them anyway, take them home and hem them, but I know me and it wouldn't have happened. By the time I'd gotten around to it, those pants would have grown whiskers.

LA's other suggestion was that I check the website to see if I could buy different lengths online. Brilliant idea, but Levi's didn't cooperate. Jeans came in three lengths, cords only in Too Long.

So I've been on a mission ever since then to find a similar pair. A week or so ago I finally found a pair online at the Gap's January sale. I'm wearing them now. Similar color and fit, shorter length. They're wonderfully comfortable, thanks to soft corduroy and some spandex, and Rudder approved the back view. Maybe a little, er, fitted for work, but I've found that stretch fabrics do tend to loosen up over time, and anyway it's Friday.

Not that it matters much, but it's nice to get something that's exactly what you want even when it's something frivolous.

Posted by dichroic at 11:39 AM | Comments (1)

January 18, 2006

goals? what goals?

Even after coming back from rowing camp, I'm having real trouble getting fired up to train this year. Part of it's the weather: right now it's in the high 30s / low 40s at 5AM most mornings. (Those of you to whom that doesn't sound that cold: how often do you go out at 5AM in the dark alone on the water at those temperatures? It's not all that bad once you're working hard, but getting started is a bitch, especially when you've just woken up and your body temperature is down. And of course there's a safety factor, too.)

I think, though, that more of it is just a cyclical thing. I'm ready to scale back on the rowing for a while and get fired up about something else. Rowing takes over your life to an extent where it cuts down on what else you do - can't stay up late, too tired to go hiking or climbing on the weekends, using up mos tof our vacation on regatta trips. Some people like being driven by a single goal; one woman once told me, "I don't do anything half-assed."

Well, I do. If I can't do something well, I'm still going to do it if I enjoy. In fact, that philosophy would have kept me from getting into rowing in the first place, because I just don't have the right genes to excel - not only the height, but the slow-twitch / fast twitch muscle fiber ratio and other things. For exampleRudder feels better the more he trains, up to a fairly high point, while I just burn out more quickly, either physically or mentally. Also, I'm generally going to enjoy doing several things at a time (on in closely proximate times, anyway) more than focusing on only one, even if it means that I don't do as well in any one thing.

I've been talking about cutting back on rowing for a couple of years now, to the point that anyone who reads here regularly is tired of hearing about it. Last year I actually did it, though that would have been more successful if I hadn't found that I wasn't really enjoying the flying I did in its place. It's hard to set longterm goals, because I still hope to move out of here and don't know if we'll be anywhere we can row, but I need to decide soon, at least for the visible time horizon, whether I want to race this year and train harder or scale back. And if I do scale back, I can't just sit and read and knit, because I've worked too hard to get such fitness as I have to just let it ooze away. And of course, there are other considerations: for example, I'd like to try yoga, but most classes I've seen are at night, which means I'd never get to see Rudder, since he'd still be on a rowing schedule. And of course, work always gets in the way. Oh, well, no better time to decide on the year's goals than at the beginning of the year.

Posted by dichroic at 01:13 PM

January 17, 2006

still good

If I had to describe the rowing camp in one word, it would be "chilly". My biggest regret of that weekend was that I didn't pack a hat. The local San Diego residents were in Ugg boots and fleece-lined pool parkas, and I am now lusting after one of each. (Well, two, in the case of the boots.) It was fairly windy, so we didn't get as much on-water coaching, videotaping, and feedback as last year, which was disappointing. On the other hand, I got a lot more out of the seminars this year, mostly stuff about planning my training, so that was a positive. I think Rudder was disappointed because he knew a lot of it already - he plans his training in much more detail than I do. We both enjoyed the chance to make new friends and contacts with rowers from other areas.

All in all, I don't think it was as much fun or as helpful as last year's. On the other hand, at one point yesterday when I was going around in circles repeating the first few strokes of a racing start over and over, I was able to fend off boredom by thinking, "Well, what would I be doing now otherwise?" It only took a short look around the blue skies over Mission Bay and a sniff of the clean breeze, contrasted with a visualization of my small cubicle in an industrial building set in the brown air next to Sky Harbor Airport to convince me that I was just where I ought to be.

Also, I got a good bit of sweater knitted, solidified some relationships with San Diego and Seattle area rowers, breathed clean air for three days straight (Rudder and I promptly started coughing (him) and sneezing (me) as we drove back into town) and had my gut behave well for a whole weekend of travel, which is rare. Usually I feel icky for at least a couple of hours somewhere, what with different food, water, stresses, and sleep schedule. So it could have been a little better, but it was still pretty darn good.

One other thing I learned: don't leave She-Hulk alone with a box of Williams & Sonoma's peppermint bark. Not that Rudder wouldn't have been just as bad if we hadn't just finished off two more boxes of the stuff over Xmas break.

Posted by dichroic at 12:04 PM | Comments (1)

January 13, 2006

time and stories

I wrote the folowing originally as a comment to Ebony, but it's long enough to deserve its own entry. Edited a little to stand alone.

I was thinking about time and immediacy earlier today - about history and experience. The radio had a bit on about MLK Jr, and it occurred to me that even in the 1960s, slavery was still close enough to be family memory for a lot of people rather than history.

I can very nearly do it myself - my grandmother, born in 1912, had stories about Prohibition and the Depression. I can remember my great-grandmother, who died when I was 9; she was born in 1892. My grandmother had a story or two about her grandfather, and he would have been born in the 1860s or 1870s. Beyond that there would be barriers of different countries and languages. And we're not a story-telling sort of family, particularly. If you were, and if you had something as life-altering as slavery or the end of it to talk about, I can imagine that the experience would have still felt vivid to the civil rights fighters in the 1960s.

Now it's forty years further on and as we lose a sense of history, past victories and defeats, righted wrongs and wrongs still unrighted don't matter as much to too many people. Movies may help some, when they do it right, to make history come alive. Maybe they should make one of the Delany sisters' books. I knew a lot less about the aftermath of slavery and about the Jim Crow days before I read their books. And maybe we should tell more stories, in general.

Off to rowing camp!

Posted by dichroic at 01:34 PM

January 12, 2006

nos moritori te spernimus, or something like that.

I think I'm about to get attacked, lambasted, hulled up one side and down the other at my meeting in a few minutes. They may even say mean things to me. I am consoling myself with the fact that I believe the work I've done is good, and that some of these people are just having it's-not-mine-so-it must-suck brainsets, and that at least it's not going to be like a Supreme Court nominee meeting. For one thing, it can't go on for more an a couple of hours. Also, I'm trying to regard it as practice, just on the off chance that I ever do get nominated to the Supreme Court. If that doesn't work, I'll try the approach of staying quiet for as long as I can (I'm not particularly good at it) and maybe taking notes, so people can get all of their frothing at the mouth finished before I respond. This would be much more fun if I could stay quiet and smile a secret and superior smile, but I think that's a bad tactic.

Oh well. Ave, Caesar.

Later note: well, not quite as bad as expected. I didn't actually have any skin flayed off, at least.

Posted by dichroic at 11:48 AM

January 11, 2006

the vanishing lens

Well, that was weird. I've been having some problems with my contact lenses since last spring; the left eye was getting irritated, so the eye doctor told me to leave them out for a while, then taken them out every night until my eye was better. (I wear Focus Night & Day, which are meant to be worn for a week at a time, then thrown away and replaced at the end of each month.) They've never really gotten completely better, so I've been wearing my glasses a lot more and have only recently been experimenting for leaving them in for one night, then taking them out the next.

But this is really odd, and it's the second time in a week. I think I'd just rubbed my lower eyelid slightly, maybe a quarter or half inch under my left eye, and next thing I know the contact lens has gotten lost in my eye. It's gone far enough back into the eye socket that I can't even see it until I roll my eye around and push on the upper lid to being it out a bit. Not a major problem, but not something I'd want to happen while driving.

And this can't be a good thing, really.

Posted by dichroic at 12:17 PM | Comments (1)

what's up and what's coming up

I finished my first glove last night. I just hope it fits - the fit is a trifle hard to figure out when the hand it's for is a few thousand miles away. I don't have any measurements; I could ask my dad to take some, but I'm afraid he'd measure to somewhere different than I would so all the numbers would be off. (Because really, how do you define the *exact* length of a finger? You could measure to the webbing between fingers on one side, or on the other, or to the knuckle, or....) I know he has small hands, for a man, so I've been trying to get the size somewhere between my hands and Rudder's. The only thing I'm not thrilled with is the cast off at the wrist, which looks great but is a little tighter than I'd like. Rudder was able to get his hand in the glove, so it's not too tight, but I may try to find a better way to redo it. (Technical note: I used a suspended bind-off, but it's still too tight. There's one from Elizabeth Zimmerman I considered, where you thread a tapestry needle and go through two stitches purlwise, then one knitwise and drop the stitch off, but EZ says it's not recommended for ribbing. I don't want anything ruffly.)

This all would have been easier if a needle I bought Saturday hadn't promptly broken on Sunday. Unfortunately I probably won't get to replace it unti the weekend after next because this weekend we'll be traveling.

I spent yesterday in a meeting up at the site where I used to work. It was an odd feeling: there were people I knew from each stage of my career with this company. Sort of a little "This is Your Life on the Job". Very handy for establishing contacts and picking up gossip. I also got to have lunch with a couple of my favorite former colleagues, and got some advice from one that may prove useful in dealing with my boss. (They're from the same culture, and apparently workplaces in that culture use a much more hierarchical model than is common in the US, which may account for some of the boss's quirks.)

This weekend we'll be going to San Diego for their Masters Rowing Camp - yes, Rudder and I are going to camp. Last year it was fun, though with all the rain and ensuing lake closures we didn't get to apply what we'd learned for a long time. This year that shouldn't be a problem, since we haven't had any rain at all since about October. (It's going to be a bad year for wildfires. Again.) I really need to decide soon how much racing I want to do, because if the answer is anything but "Not much" I need to ramp up my training. On the one hand, it's been so nice not to get up at 4AM and go out in the cold! On the other hand, Rudder is still doing just that, which means I get woken up anyhow, though at least I get to stay in bed until 5, when I get up to erg or go to the gym. I can can erg some days, but if I want to be anything like competitive, or at least as close to it as I can get, I need to spend more time on the water.

My cubiemate is trying to convince me to do the local erg competition, in February. Ugh. 2000 meters is an unpleasant distance, short enough to be sprinting as hard as you can, long enough to feel like it's going on forever. (Top female rowers do it in under 7 minutes; my best time to date for that distance is just under 9 minutes.) Very pukeworthy distance.

Posted by dichroic at 09:23 AM | Comments (1)

January 09, 2006

of age and work

It turns out that the vet's office is remarkably uncrowded on Friday nights. I suppose most people have better things to do.

We were there to get one cat his shots and to get the other one checked out; lately he's lost an alarming amount of weight and we've been finding mats in his fur. I suspect most of it is due to the inroads of age (he's 16) but we're going to try using a water fountain to get him to drink more, giving them occasional wet food to get him to eat more, and some thyroid meds to help him gain weight. He seems happy enough otherwise.

Speaking of the ravages of age, the saddest thing I've heard about Ariel Sharon's condition is that if it had been anyone else, they probably wouldn't have operated - sad, both because of the idea that important people get more attentive care than normal people and because of what it says about how lost Israel feels without him.

It was a calm and reasonably productive weekend: I rowed, we had breakfast out with the Old Salt and Dr. Bosun, I got one glove mostly done, all but the wrist cuff, we braved the local warehouse store, we had an enjoyable dinner out, and so on. The worst thing that happened was that a circular needle I bought Saturday (Addi Natura) broke on Sunday, forcing me to finish the gloves with a couple of DPNs on one side. And if that's the worst part of a day, it's a good day - in fact, I didn't have to get far into Monday at all for it to be worse.

This working for a living stuff is not my idea of fun. I feel there's got to be a Proper Job out there for me someplace, one I'd look forward to going in to on Mondays, but damme if I can figure out what it is.

Posted by dichroic at 01:14 PM | Comments (1)

January 05, 2006


The upgrade is complete. It was a little easier than I expected. Comments should be working properly now, but will now be held for approval before being posted. The new user interface is a bit better, especially in how comments are handled and I'm very pleased that the new install didn't run roughshod over my template or previous entries.

I'd planned to post a bibliography (list of links I used) from my Poetry Alphabet yesterday. Unfortunately I didn't save it, and when I stepped away from my computer for too long, it spontaneously shut down. Once I get over being annoyed by that I'll try to reconstitute and post it.

Posted by dichroic at 12:35 PM


It looks like the MT Blacklist plugin isn't supported any more, because it's been superseded by the anti-spam features in MovableType 3.2. So if you've been having trouble commenting in here, that's probably why. And that's why I'm upgrading to MT 3.2, so if this site goes wonky for a bit, that would be why.

Posted by dichroic at 11:17 AM

January 03, 2006

holiday breakdown

I never did write much about my holiday this year; I guess I was too busy enjoying it. So now it's over, this is the time to seal it into memory.

We decided to have a tree this year even though we'd be away for a few days before Christmas. To help keep it moist, we got a watering system that feeds into a hole drilled in the trunk, as well as having the tree set in the large reservoir of our cast iron stand. I'm not convinced the new system helped much: it seemed to be sealed over by the time we got back from Vegas and the tree never drank much more from there, though it did from ther main reservoir. Still, it did get some extra water in early on. The main thing I want to note about the tree is that we got a Grand Fir this year and it worked very well: it looked like a Douglas fir but has more rigid branches, better for hanging ornaments on, and it stayed fresh and green all the way until we took it down yesterday. (I've have liked to leave it up until the 12th day of Christmas, but we had yesterday off and the recyclers will pick it up tomorrow.)

We enjoyed the time in Vegas, but three days once a decade or so is enough for us. The only thing we'd have liked to do with more time would be to go hiking in the Red Rocks area. Otherwise, we walked through most of the major casinos, rose the monorail and the roller coaster in New York, New York, saw David Copperfield and Cirque du Soleil, watched white lions and dolphins, heard some musicians, saw some acrobats (besides CdS, I mean), enjoyed the Star Trek Experience, and even gambled a little. I don't really feel much need to go back until something changes or something new is added.

I finished the Holiday Challenge on Monday 12/20, but erged a bit more to bring my erg meters for the year up to a million meters. My total distance, water and erg, is somewhere around 1.5 million meters for the year, not quite a thousand miles (1.6 km), which is actually a little less than last year. Not too bad.

FOr Christmas Day, it was just the two of us, and we'd been away for several of the previous days, so we opened presents and then just had a brisket. (I'm the only one I know for whom kasha and bowties is a usual Christmas dinner side dish.) Rudder goofed slightly, present-wise: he gave me a ruby pendant to go with some earrings he'd given me a few years ago, which would have been lovely except that he'd already given me the matching necklace at the next gifting occasion after the earrings. I liked the original one better, anyway, because the newer ruby was a deep pink instead of the original's beautiful port-wine color, but also the first one matches the earrings better. Other than the color and stone shape, though, the pendants were very similar. So with Rudder's permission, I went back to the store to exchange it. I put in some extra money and was able to get something I'd been wanting for a while - diamond stud earrings. (Similar to these, though about half the size.) Since I have long hair, I wanted something that would sparkle more than the one small stone I'd have been able to afford. I could afford these because since price goes up exponentially with size, three small stones are much cheaper than one bigger one. I think the three-stone design is prettier anyway.) I still feel a little guilty about echanging his gift, though, even though he was OK with it.

On New Year's Eve, we headed out to the Fiesta Bowl Block Party on Mill Ave. We got to hear Blues Traveler and Roger Hynes and the Peacemakers as well as several other bands, to see some fairly incredible motocross jumping, and to do a lot of people-watching. My favorite thing was a break-dancing troupe, who danced to their own percussion, made mostly on trash can and other scavenged instruments. New Year's Day we drank the champagne we hadn't had the night before and deep-fried a turkey, this time without injecting the spices a few days before. I like it this way - Rudder tends to overdo the spicing - but he likes it better the other way, and he does all the work.

I didn't get to do all the things I'd thought of, like updating the creaky old version of Movable Type I use here, but I finished the sweater I started only a short time before my break, I'm caught up on sleep for the moment, we spent lots of time together, I completed erging 200km for the month and a thousand km for the year, my house is (very slightly) neater than it was before the break, and I've read or reread the first five and a half Aubrey and Maturin books. (Before I buy any more of the paperbacks, I'm thinking of just springing for the 5-volume omnibus set Amazon is selling - wish I'd seen it before buying volumes 3, 4, and 5 recently. I have the first six and two or three others; each paperback volume costs $14 or so, while the hardcover omnibus set is $83, so it makes economic sense. Or I could read them from the library.) Throw in a visit to Vegas, and it was a satisfying vacation.

Oh, and Rudder's grandmother is doing much better - her memory will continue to degrade, of course, but she can swallow and talk and respond now. Definitely a satisfying holiday.

Posted by dichroic at 02:13 PM

December 30, 2005

2005: the year in review


Could have been better. Could have been a lot worse.

Posted by dichroic at 08:30 PM

December 29, 2005

at home

Sorry I haven't been writing; it's just that I'm home until January 3 and here there are so many interesting things to do. Also, I'm hoping to finish my Banff sweater before going back to work - I have just one more sleeve to do. I won't make it in time, though, if it takes the usual two days to dry after blocking.

Christmas was nice but low-key, just the two of us. We decided to make a brisket instead of our usual turkey, but are going to deep-fry a turkey on New Year's Day, just because. We may go to the Fiesta Bowl Block Party the night before, because the bowl and presumably the Block Party are moving to the other side of town starting next year. Also fingers are still crossed that we won't be here by then, though we still have no further information on possible future moves.

In rowing news, I finished the Holiday Challenge the Monday before Christmas, and as of today I have done a million meters on the erg this year - that's erging only, not including actual water meters. Given that I did row a marathon month before last, those aren't inconsequential, either. In mid-January we'll be heading to San Diego again for a Masters' Rowing Camp - the one last year was helpful and fun.

And really, that's about it.

Posted by dichroic at 11:51 AM

December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve

We're back. You know what, Vegas is expensive, and we don't even gamble much. (I did spend an hour at a craps table - started with $100, left with $75. Craps is (are?) good for being able to go for a long time on a reasonable amount of money, though Rudder did end up losing his stake. And of course I left all my change in assorted slot machines, as luck-offerings.) We got good rates on the hotel, and I will say that the higher-ticket items were, if not quite worth all that money, impressive enough to be worth at least most of it. We got tickets for Cirque Du Soleil's show Zutopia in advance, then ended up seeing David Copperfield at the last minute the night before. Both shows had me sitting with my jaw dropped open for substantial amounts of time. I didn't find the Cirque's compedy bits all that funny, but I guess you need to break up the astonishing acrobatics to give the audience a chance to absorb it all. And at Copperfield's show, even the bits we thought we'd figured out we couldn't have replicated - so much skill goes into the sleight of hand. The other high point of the trip was the Star Trek Experience - the Klingon ride, especially, was extremely well done.

After coming home, I finished wrapping the little things for Rudder (the big one is wrapped and under the tree already) and realized that once again, I have far too many things for him - gifts for all the nights of Chanukah (except the first night, tomorrow, because he'll have far too may things already) and several for the stocking. I solved the issue by wrapping one that was too big for the stocking and putting it under the tree with a tag "from Santa".

Not my fault if the man in red still thinks Rudder's a good boy, right?

And in case I don't write here tomorrow, Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to all.

Posted by dichroic at 07:50 PM

December 18, 2005

taking my time

V. much enjoying the free time. So far this weekend I have run a few errands, visited the bead store, finished all but 7km of the Holiday Challenge, got my mother's Chanukah gift finished, packed, and shipped, finished the back pf my Banff sweater, finished two more fingers of my father's gloves (it's an odd pattern in being knitted fingers first), attended two holiday parties, and reread Master and Commander, all at a lovely leisurely pace.

Not bad for being only 1:30 Sunday. Rudder's just off the erg, so we'll be going to get our Xmas tree soon.

Note half an hour later: I think we just set a landspeed record for tree selection and set-up. I ant to let it settle for a fwe hours before putting lights on, though.

Posted by dichroic at 01:25 PM

December 16, 2005


Two quick points:

1. Yippeeee!!!!

2. On a much more trivial note, I'm disappointed my cubemate is out today, just because I wanted someone to appreciate my clever hosiery tactic for the day. I wanted light textured tights to wear under a denim skirt, so I actually layered two pair: flesh-colored fishnets over plain buff-colored tights. (Of course, the fishnets solo would have worked, but the shoes aren't comfortable with only them and also it's chilly out today.) Also, less trivially, I wanted to wish her a happy holiday.

Posted by dichroic at 02:07 PM

17 days!

What a great start to a day. 8AM meetings aren't always the first thing I want to do in the morning, but at this one someone happened to mention that we have January 2 off and don't have to come back til the 3rd. Yay! A whole extra day off and a short first week back.

It would have been really strange to come back on Monday and find a totally empty and dark building. Except it probably wouldn't have really been dark.... I wonder how long it would have taken me to figure it out?

I totally finished my holiday cards last night, except for of course the odd one I might send if someone whose address I didn't have sends me one. That means that I have 17 days off, and hardly anything I have to do in that time. I need to pay a few bills, plan and cook Xmas dinner, wrap Rudder's gifts, make a few additions to one for my mom as soon as it arrives and send it to her, and that's really about it. Oh, and erg another 37 km. There are some things I ought to do - a little more decorating on the house, maybe some straightening up, rigging my boat - but nothing else that has to be done. That's not a lot of stuff, so I have 17 blissful days in which my time is almost entirely my own. I'm so excited.

All that said, it's ironic how scheduled tomorrow is: wake up, erg a half marathon, prepare and send my mom's gift, return some shampoo an idiot stylist said would be good for me (Aveda Blue Malva - I looked at the label and it said it brightens gray hair or tones down brassy shades in dyed hair - not what you want on dark brown hair with red highlights), buy some tights, and go to two parties. Except for the erging, though, all of that is either a quick task or is fun. Then I think SUnday or Monday we'll go see the Narnia movie, and later in the week we're going to spend a couple of days in Vegas, for the first time since about 1996 when I had a work trip there and Rudder joined me. And sometime in the next few days, I'll wrap up the poetry series by posting a list of the links I've used to research the poets and poems I've written about.

I'm excited to get the time to read and knit, cook or bake, and see Rudder when we're both awake. I'm excited not to be at work! And I'm looking forward to what 2006 might bring us.

On the down side, we got a Christmas card from Rudder's grandfather yesterday, and it was one of the saddest things I've seen. He wrote that Rudder's grandmother has been able to eat and to say a few words, a few of which could be understood, but that "It is unclear yet whether this improvement is enough to give us any hope." Ouch.

Posted by dichroic at 12:54 PM | Comments (2)

December 15, 2005

better news

Finally, my erging is coming back to me. I took two weeks off after the marathon, but from what erging has felt like since then, you'd think I'd taken two years off. I managed a half-marathon my first day back on the erg, but after that, it was always like pulling a weighted sled over bumpy ground to scrape out every kilometer. I was just going at an easy pace, too, not really trying to push it.

That may have been a part of the problem, actually. When you go faster on an erg, you've gotten the flywheel moving so there's less inertia to move with. Another problem is that our air has been incredibly crappy lately - so bad that Brooke even posted a picture. That not-a-cold thing I had last week was most likely allergies in reaction, and I'm still having to pause ferquently to blow my nose, especially in the first thousand meters or so. (Sniffling it back for too long gives me a headache or worse.)

Rudder's suggestion was to try some of the interval workouts I'd done for marathon training, or variants of them. I figured it couldn't hurt, and adding some changes in does break up the workout. I wasn't sure I could keep much pressure up for too long, though. So on Sunday I did a variant of one we use to practice racing starts in sprint season: 2 sets of 6 power tens (ten strokes as hard as possible) with three minutes rowing easy after each one, and a five minute rest between the sets (and a 1K warmup before). On Monday I did one of the marathon workouts that had a comparatively short intense part: 1K to warm up, then 3 sets of 1000 at a medium-hard pace, 2K easy. And on Tuesday, by gum, I finally felt like a rower again. I did 7500m in less than the times I'd taken for 7000m a few days before, with far fewer pauses. Yesterday I was a little short on time so just did 6500, but again it was a lot smoother. And today I had a little extra time, so I did 8K, without any real pauses in the last 7000. Whew. Feels good not to be slogging quite so much. TOmorrow I'll do another interval workout of some sort, and maybe even try for a half-marathon on Saturday, which would take out a lot of my remaining distance.

I'm off work for the rest of the year as soon as I leave tomorrow, so I'll have more time to do longer pieces. But Rudder and I have decided to go up to Vegas for a few days before Xmas, and I'd like to be done by then.

In even better news, Rudder talked to his father a couple days ago and apparently his grandmother's decline was all about the drugs she was on; since they've withdrawn a lot of them, she's able to eat on her own and even say a few words. (Apparently she ripped out the feeding tube herself. Ouch.) Of couse, she'll still never recover; senile dementia doesn't reverse itself. But it's a relief not to have to think of her being taken off a feeding tube. I support her wish to go and not be sustained beyond the point of hopelessness (not that a grand-daughter-in-law's opinion would be the crucial one) but that wouldn't have made it easy to watch or even hear about.

Posted by dichroic at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)

December 13, 2005

how to enjoy a holiday: celebrate someone else's

Unlike apparently almost everyone else, I am not sick of Christmas. I think this is because it's not really my holiday; my only childhood memories are of decorated malls, Rudolph and Charlie Brown on TV, and singing carols in school. And while we did occasionally gather together with my grandparents and uncle for a big dinner (because everyone had time off from work or school) it was fiarly low on the angst scale. I don't know whether that's because we have a small family (smaller now, unfortunately) or because we also had festive meals on all the major Jewish holidays, and saw each other throughout the year, so we didn't have to deal with all of our family issues in one burst.

I do celebrate it now with Rudder and his family, at least as far as having a tree (no crosses or angels on ours!), exchanging presents, listening to holiday music, and gathering over good food. I love my in-laws. I even like them. (Well, except my sister-in-law from heck, but she doesn't like any of us either and so just stays away.) Since I didn't grow up with any of them, I don't have any buried issues to erupt at the holiday table, or any hot buttons they've installed. (Rudder has a few, but they're comparatively minor and aren't really a problem over the few days at a time we normally see them.)

So in general, I get all of the good parts of Christmas with none of the tsuris and not much of the stress. With Chanukah being late this year, I'm not as beforehand with my presents as usual, but as of today they're all bought except maybe a few little things. We have no decorations up yet, but I only have about 20 more cards to write and send, and we have this weekend relatively free. My mom gave me some very pretty Chanukah candles, so I don't even have the hassle of finding them around here this year (though actually, I did see some somewhere). So even though we still haven't decided if we're staying home or driving to Rudder's parents' or grandparents', I will go on record as saying that I've been enjoying this holiday season, and I expect to enjoy it even more starting late Friday afternoon, when I leave work and don't come back until after New Year's Day.

I am a little sick of commercial Christmas music though. I like most of the classics, I love some of the more obscure ones, and I don't even mind Rudolph and Frosty until the umpty-ninth playing, But if I never hear Jingle Bell Rock or Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree again, I will survive easily.

Today I am thankful for: in-laws I enjoy
Concept II Holiday CHallenge: 58,600 meters to go

Posted by dichroic at 03:37 PM | Comments (3)

December 12, 2005

rowers on parade

Woody would be proud. Apparently Arlo Guthrie and friends will be riding on the City of New Orleans to raise money for musicians and clubs who lost everything in this year's hurricanes. More detail over at Bear's.

In other news (OK, it's not news) I really don't feel like being at work today. I did work from home Friday, on the theory that all my sniffling, sneezing, and other symptoms were due to being out in our incredibly poor air quality. Work is close to the major airport, and the pollution level seems mugh higher here. SUre enough, I felt much better on Friday than I had on the days before. Though even at home I've been sniffly: it wouldn't be such a problem but it's hard to erg when you have to stop and blow your nose every three hundred meters.

On Saturday, we rowed in the Tempe Holiday Boat Parade. I'll post pictures if any come out well. In his penchant for ever-increasing over-the-top-ness, this year Rudder managed to wangle the use of the rowing barge the city uses to train novices to row. It has eight rowing stations down wither side (for sweep rowers, obviously, with one oar apiece) and a catywalk down the middle for coaches. We had it manned by ten rowers, three of whom had never rowed before, but who were instumental in designing the decorations. At the stern was Santa (7' tall, inflatable) in his sleigh (foam) full of presents (plastic wrap over a plastic piping frame). In front of him were three windsurfing sails, each "manned" by an inflatable penguin, and there were lights strung all over everything, as many as the generator could handle. Santa was wearing an enormous Hawaiian shirt and a tinsel lei, because our theme was "Santa on holiday".

We won the human-powered division for I think the fourth time in the parade's six-year history; last year we didn't enter and the first year I'm not sure if they had a human-powered division. The first two years, Rudder decorated a double, then we did an eight and year before last, I think, a four. Unfortunately, we had no competition this year. Usually there are four or five kayaks entered. Of course, they couldn't have hoped to compete with the mighty juggernaut that was our barge this year, but then again, there's no reason the dragon boats or the Hawaiian outriggers that row on our lake couldn't have competed. (I'd think a dragon boat, especially, would be fun to decorate.)

The one disappointment was our prize. Last time, the city gave us a basket of things (we surmised) they had left over from donations to other events: certificates for a night's stay at a fancy local hotel, dinner at one restaurant, breakfast somewhere else, lunch at a third place, and so on. We divided them up among the rowers who participated, and later gave the hotel stay to someone who had trailered our boat back from Masters Nationals, so it all worked out nicely. This year, the parade was run by a local merchants' association, which you'd think would mean even more sponsorship, but apparently not: the prize was a basket with two jars of salsa and some chips.

Good thing Rudder does this just for the fun of designing and building the decorations.

Posted by dichroic at 01:36 PM

December 09, 2005

enjoying cleaner air at home

I'm working from home today. For the last few days, I sat in the office ad got snifflier throughout the day. It's not a cold, since it hasn't gotten any better or worse, and I was curious if the problem was either my drive to work through the brown cloud Phoenix calls air or the building or the location of the building, right next door to our major airport. Today's newspaper confirms that one of these likely is the cause: apparently the pollution right now is the worst it's been in years. And in fact, I'm not sneezing or drippig nearly as much today, here at home. Now if they'd only decide I could telecommute regularly ....

I don't expect there to be any news on Rudder's grandmother for several days. He doesn't seem too upset at the moment. He's never talked to his grandparents anywhere near as often as I did to mine, and while he's fond of them, it seems to be in a more distant way. He's not a particularly emotional person, either. So I have no idea how he'll react if they do remove her feeding tube, though I expect it will be relatively calmly, no matter how upset he is. If we do end uo traveling up there, I think I'll give him the part of his gift that would be useful for traveling ahead of time.

Also, I'd better get to work ordering the last few holiday gifts I need and getting my cards out. That is, by the way, most deliberately, H-O-L-I-D-A-Y cards. And anyone who thinks Christmas is the only holiday that ought to be celebrated at this time of year is welcome to fold one until it's all corners and try to absorb its message of peace by the suppository method.

I mean that in the most tolerant way possible of course.

Posted by dichroic at 02:47 PM

December 08, 2005

not good news

I spoke to my MIL again today; it appears that I may be down one grandmother-in-law as soon as a week from now. There is a possiblity that her rapid decline is a reaction to the drugs she's on, so they've taken her off all possible ones and will watch her for a week to see if there's any change, so there is still hope. Otherwise, they'll remove the feeding tube then, in accordance with her own written wishes. (That decision would have been so much harder for her family if she hadn't left those wishes.) Even if she does revive a bit, though, I don't think it can be a long-term effect. (I would be ecstatic to be wrong.) I have been lucky enough to have had enough relationship with all of Rudder's grandparents that her loss will make me very sad, but obviously it's a lot worse for Rudder and his mother. When I gave him the news yesterday he didn't seem too upset, pointing out that her mind is already gone (demntia, not Alzheimer's, but the effect is similar) and that this isn't any surprise, but he's never lost anyone close to him before and I don't know how he'll react when he does.

We were in the middle of a big shouting fight when I got the call saying my grandmother had died (several years ago now). To his credit, he dropped the argument immediately. I don't suppose there's anything I can do but to be there for him as he was for me.

We had no real plans for Christmas, but we both have two weeks off, so we can drive up to Oregon to his parents' or to Sacramento where his grandparents are if that seems advisable. Hell of a time of year for all this, though.

Drat. I keep forgetting this:
Today I am thankful for: Having six grandparents when I was little, four grandparents until I was (almost) adult and then getting a whole new set when I married. Maybe things are different when it comes to parents and step-parents, but in my opinion, grandparents are purely additive, and the more, the more love in your life.
Concept II Holiday Challenge: Around 94000 meters left.

Posted by dichroic at 01:09 PM | Comments (5)

December 06, 2005

about family

OK, that was cool. Over at, I was able to find my grandfather who came to the US in 1912, when he was 3. I knew his year of birth, but not his parents' exact names (at least, not how they'd be listed), and with a little detective work, I was able to find his mother and the three siblings he traveled with, plus his father and older brother who came over a few months earlier. I could see the passenger record and the ship's original manifest., and it was a lovely feeling, especially, to see the grandmother and great aunt for whom I'm named. My great-grandmother came over, in steerage, with a fourteen-year-old daughter, a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a baby. Yikes. At least she knew her husband and a 16-year-old son were waiting for her on the dock. (I don't know why there's a 9-year age gap between two of my aunts; perhaps my great-grandmother was a second wife. Since she's listed as 30 years old and her husband as 40, even allowing for early marriage back then, the two teenaged kids make that theory sound likely.) I've also found my dad's mother and possibly his father (the name is a common one but the age and city are right). I couldn't find my mother's mother's father, but I know my great-grandmother's family on that side came over a little before Ellis Island was opened.

Speaking of family, I don't believe I've mentioned what Rudder did to me while we were in Philadelphia. He told my father I could knit him gloves. For those of you who don't knit, I should point out that gloves, while a nice small project, are nasty fiddly things to knit. There are all those fingers, you see, not to mention thumb gussets and suchlike. This is why the Internet contains a zillion patterns for mittens and only a few for gloves. And, though a small hole in a sock where a stitch has been added may be unnoticeable inside shoes, it's my experience that the wind seeks out and blows through any little hole in a glove, so I need to do a good job on the fiddly bits. I think I probably ought to use fiddly little yarn and needles too. At least I think I can get away with DK instead of going down to sock yarn.

Normally, I'd have explained the difficulty and told them both to take a flying leap (or at least to settle for socks) but Dad actually sounded interested. He is so rarely interested in anything these days, and never has been much in gifts at all. So I can't just tell him to forget it. I settled for explaining to Rudder exactly what he'd let me in for (he was joking, originally) and hinting to Dad, unsuccessfully, that maybe he'd like a nice pair of socks instead. He won't wear mittens, either; I don't even think he'd wear fingerless gloves with mitten tops. So I guess I'm making gloves. I did warn him not to expect them any time soon.

Posted by dichroic at 03:51 PM | Comments (1)

December 05, 2005

keeping memories

I'm not exactly sick, but I'm not exactly not sick either. I don't feel bad, but I do seem to be dripping rather a lot. Also, when Rudder brought me tea yesterday morning, I tried to drink some of it while still mostly lying down (it was a mug with a lid on it, so that was a stupid move but not as stupid as it would otherwise have been) which resulted in not so much burning my tongue as burning my whole mouth, including my tongue, the left corner of my mouth, the inside of my lower lip, and a spot on my throat. None of it really hurts but I can tell it's not quite right and it feels almost as if I have a sore throat. Also, the steak and baked potato I had yesterday turned out to be much saltier than I'd have normally realized they were - they stung my mouth.

I only managed to erg 3000m this morning, but I think that's mostly because of waking up three hours earlier than on either of the last two days, coupled with having to blow my nose every couple hundred meters for the first thousand. My body's been kind of logy in general; yesterday I wanted to do a half marathon but only managed 11000m. As I said, not quite not sick. Rudder seems to be feeling noticeably better, at least.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. I still think that ought to be a case study for anyone studying management and leadership. Of course the people in it were inspired by a raging injustice, but it takes something more than demogoguery to keep hundreds of people organized, doing something that causes them great personal inconvenience for over a year. The logistics of organizing rides in a time and place when few people had cars, had to have been difficult at best. Many people walked to work, for miles in the cold damp winters and steaming Alabama summers. These would have been a normal cross-section of American people: old and young, fit and feeble. They walked. They put up with bombings of the leaders' houses and threats to their families. We have stories of the soldiers at Valley Forge, but they were soldiers. We have stories of the Pilgrims enduring scarcity in a new land and of the covered-wagon pioneers walking unimaginable distances, but in both cases there were few escapes: going home was either not feasible or was as difficult as continuing on. The people in Montgomery could have stopped at any time and simply returned to the status quo, which wasn't physically unendurable. They weren't starving or beaten (or at least, if they were beaten it was for the boycott itself). The buses were available, if only their back halves.

If the status quo was unendurable, it must have been their honor and spirits that were galled. And for that, they avoided the bus system for over a year. I don't know whether the drive and endurance came from the leadership of the movement, or the grassroots, though I would like to know. My guess is both.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott is a bit of history that is not forgotten, but too often reduced to a line or two in a history book. I think it ought to be remembered as one of the great American legends - I mean that not in the sense of something untrue but as one of the stories that has shaped our national character and should continue to shape our ideals. The Library of Congress has a project called StoryCorps, whose goal is to let people interview each other to recordtheir memories. I hope the idea will spread beyond the StoryCorps booths, so that people who remember the Depression, or WWII, or the Montgomery Bus Boycott will tell stheir stories to their children and to anyone else who wants to listen, so the stories will be remembered. We'll be losing most of those people in the next few decades; we need to keep their memories.

Concept II Holiday Challenge: 116300 meters left
Today I am thankful for: getting to sit in any part of the bus I choose.

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

December 03, 2005

present not accounted for

There's a meme going around about listing ten things you want for holiday gifts. I've been avoiding it because I'm having a very hard time thinking of anything I really want. Rudder's family has a tradition of giving each other wishlists; the idea is to list a variety of things at a variety of prices, so various family members cab get what they can find or afford. You get things you wanted, but the surprise lies in not knowing which things - also in the instantiation of the listed items, since we're often not all that specific. Anyway, neither of us has had an easy time thinking of items for the list this year.

Of course, there's a standard generic list of things I can always use more of - books, blothes, shoes, jewelry, and more books. If we were to do the RV thing, though (and Rudder's job's future is still up in the air) I'd be limited in the number of books and clothes and shoes I could take along. Then again, having a larger selection from which to choose what to take might be helpful.

The thing I was hoping not to be given was Rudder's nasty cold, or even my coworkers' milder ones. But alas, certain signs this morning are indcating someone may have been overly generous.

Posted by dichroic at 09:29 AM | Comments (1)

December 01, 2005

sleeping in the guest room

I will be so glad when Rudder is better - mostly for his sake, of course, but also for mine. I've been sleeping in the guest room for four days now, at his request (though he meant it for my own good). I've slept with earplugs the past couple of nights, partly because even two rooms down I can still hear his coughing, but also because the guest room is much closer to our heat pumps and they always wake me when they come on. (Fortunately, that's not until an hour or so before I have to wake up anyway; we have a programmable thermostat.) Also, the cats have both been sleeping with me - I guess Rudder's coughing bothers them too - and since this bed is a queen instead of a king they keep trying to sleep around the level of my knees, instead of down past my feet, which makes it difficult to turn over.

And then every conversation begins with "I feel like CRAP!", and the part about trying to figure what I can bring him to make him feel better (this is from my own caretaker side, not his request), the lack of company or anyone to snuggle with, and most annoying at all, the part about trying to get dressed almost in the dark so as not to disturb him more than necessary. I've been keeping my erg clothing in the erg room so I can change in there instead of in our bedroom. If he's still sick tonight, maybe I should lay out my work clothing for tomorrow as well. This is all getting very very old, though of course it's still not as bad as being the one who actually feels like crap. Poor Rudder.

So far, so good with the new cubemate. She talks the right amount (enough that I don't feel like I'm interrupting her work when I say something or like I'm talking to a blank wall, not so much that I can't get my work done) and shares the right amount about herself (enough that I think maybe we can be friends or at least work-friends, but not an unprofessional amount or TMI). She's an engineer by education, from a good enough school that it's safe to assume she got at least a somewhat-rounded education (as engineering educations go). And as I said, she's a rower - it's generally safe to assume that I have a lot in common with any female-engineer-rower. I haven't seen any evidence that she's a reader yet, but I can't expect perfection - and anyway, it's only been a few days. At any rate, it's nice to have someone around who can sympathize about split ends and erg pieces.

Concept II Holiday Challenge: 143, 400 meters left, or something like that (I need to check my math).
Today I am thankful for: not having caught what Rudder has!

Posted by dichroic at 01:27 PM

November 30, 2005

rudder adrift

Rudder is still sick. It came on gradually: siffles last Thursday, a feeling that he might be getting sick Friday, actually ill Saturday. It doesn't look like anything worse to me than a cold, with a low fever (100 or so), cough, copious snot, and so on. But he's perturbed that he hasn't started feeling better yet, that his lungs are congested, and that he's been feeling very tired - perturbed enough that he actually went to the doctor today and took the rest of the day off work. From the brief discussion I had with him, it sounds like the doctor didn't think it was anything major either, but gave him some antibiotics (which confuses me). He sounded pretty groggy, so I might have woken him up. At any rate, I'll be continuing to keep a close eye on him, because for Rudder, going to the doctor and taking a sick day are in themselves major symptoms.

So far I don't appear to have caught anything. I've been coughing and sneezing for than usual, but don't feel ill at all. I think it's just because of some construction work they're doing in the office. The admin here, who has asthma, felt bad enough because of it to go home in the middle of the day one day before the holiday, and I've been hearing a lot of drilling today.

I'm not enjoying cubicle-dwelling, but at least it's a relatively private cube. It's not one ofthose where my work is on display to anyone passing by. And there is one positive benefit: it turns out that my cubemate, whom I hadn't met before and who's only recently moved to town, is a rower!

Almost forgot:
Concept II Holiday Challenge::151400 meters left
Today I am thankful for: Decent health insurance.

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

November 29, 2005

being a lady

Something Sartorias wrote today reminded me of a small incident last week. One perk to visiting my parents or my uncle is the chance to reconnect with my grandparents, by hearing stories or using things they owned. So last week,I was browsing through my mom's baby book one day, looking for the family chart that shows my great-grandparents and a few of their parents (as far back as we know; I'll never do any further geneological research because of the overwhelming likelihood that records either weren't kept or were destroyed in wars and other upheavals.) In the 'A Message to My Daughter' section, my grandmother had written, "I always hoped you would be a young lady by the time you reached 11 years of age," and I thought to myself, "I have no idea what that means." No ball playing in the house? No belching in public? No inadvertent displays of underwear? Wearing gloves and hats? And why the fixed deadline?

I asked my mom, and she has no idea either - in fact, as soon as I started to ask the question, she said "I have no idea either," before I could even finish asking, so apparently it's something that's been puzzling her too. (Just for context, my grandmother was born in 1912 and my mom on Pearl Harbor Day, so consciousness raising came along only after my mother was grown and married. Like her mother, she would have grown up wearing gloves and hats and rigid undergarments.

I left most of the above as a comment to Sartorias, and she guessed that above all, it meant being nice and conforming. This would make sense, especially given that blending in was a way to minimize the anti-Semitism still around then.

I think it might largely have been about her perception of femininity. I always found it ironic that my grandmother used to scold me for not wearing enough jewelry and makeup, given that she was becoming an adult during the flapper era, and her grandmother would probably have yelled at her for wearing rouge or lipstick. She also used to complain that my hair "just hangs there and doesn't do anything. (At this point, I usually was envisioning it learning to sit up and beg.) In her defense, none of this was mean scolding, and she never tried at all to restrict my interests to traditional girl-things.

In the 80s, when she'd see me wearing, say, one earring or a cut-up sweatshirt, she'd just ask, "Is that what they're wearing?" and seemed perfectly happy as long as it was. So maybe this was all about her vision of womanhood. Maybe I was more of a tomboy, at least in appearance, than she wanted me to be, or maybe she was trying to make sure I got as much attention from men as she seems to have enjoyed in her youth. That turned out not to be a problem by the time I got to college, but she wouldn't have realized that going to engineering school is a much better way to get masculine attention than dressing in the height of fashion or wearing lipstick and pearls. (It's also a much better way to get the kind of attention I wanted, or to get attention from the kind of men I wanted.) Anyway, I wish I could ask her. I don't know whether or not she thought my mother became enough of a lady, or whether later decades made her revalue ladyhood, but I do know her children's happiness was a top priority for her until she died, so I suspect her goal for my mother was something she thought would give mom a better life. And whether she ever despaired of my grooming, when I graduated college, she sent me a note so proud that I still have it.

Posted by dichroic at 12:51 PM | Comments (1)

November 28, 2005

meeting friends, new and old

SO: Last Saturday night was Prattbunnymallcon. The other revelers gathered at noon at the Pratt house to see the bunnies. I'd have liked to see them and Mrs. P's lighthouses, but we'd gotten in at 2 AM the night before. My brother had picked us up (useful sometimes, having relatives who are nocturnal) and we'd stayed at his place. Since we were going to be out for dinner with friends our first two nights in Philadelphia, I figured we'd better stop in to visit with Mom and Dad before heading out to King of Prussia. The mall is easy enough to find, and the brother, who's only had his (first) car for a couple of months, did well driving out there. We found the brewpub with no problem and the rest of the group tore themselves away from the bunnies and met us there:

From left to right, that's Wolf, Bozoette Mary, LA and Mike, me, Mrs. Pratt, Mary's Joe, Rudder, Deb, Pratt's forehead, and my brother's right cheek. Art the waiter took the photo. (He wasn't much better at waitering.) The dinner was good as reported elsewhere; the JournalCon alumni were as easy to talk to as before, and none of the assorted spouses, kids or siblings seemed to feel too out of place. I didn't get to talk to Mike much because of the layout of the table, but my brother was at his end of the table and reported that he'd been telling some fascinating stories of his life. I think Deb's son felt a little out of place with all the grownups, but it didn't phase Wolf, who was being charming and so interactive with all the adults (pretty typical, at his age) that I would not have recognized him as the same kid in LA's descriptions of his early years. Mary's Joe was likewise charming and very funny and the attractive Mrs. Pratt put herself out to be a gracious local tour guide (possibly with thoughts of lighthouse gatherings in future compensation!)

Funny, none of us are really the type of female to go to the restroom in herds, but LA, Mary, and I sort of ran into each other there:
. Yes, I have special powers and my true self shows up in mirror reflections.

After the meal, Deb and son had to leave (I thought that was a shame at the time, but reading her explanation I'm sort of glad they did. Kids who mention the possibility of vomiting make me nervous too.) but the rest of us walked around the mall for a while. It was already full of Christmas regalia:

though I don't think Wolf found any toys he liked better than his camera - what a great way to keep a kid busy:

though he did like the rocket ship ride.

Sunday, Rudder and the brother and I met up with an old friend of mine from college days (I was in college, he worked in one of the labs there). I'd wanted the bro to meet him for some time. It was sort of funny: one of my sibling's less endearing traits is a tendency to brag about all the people he knows (many from SF cons) and all the things they've done. One of the cooler things about his apartment is the library he's somehow managed to fit in there. This friend has him vastly outclassed on both counts: the bro got very quiet (rare!) on first seeing his nineteenth-century West Philly house with the mahogany and cherry wood trim, and again when he casually mentioned a conversation with a Big Name Author. (I don't think the story was meant to have that effect, actually). But the best part of the evening was the restaurant he took us to: a high-end Italian place in a small town across the bridge in jersey. The owner hugged him when we walked in. The local Italian teacher (possibly the owner's wife) hugged him. The server hugged him. The service was about as good as you'd expect from those reactions. And the meal was phenomenal: all the authenticity of an Italian place in an Itallian neighborhood run by a guy from Italy, along with the cooking skills of a master chef. My friend brought the wines, plural, carefully picked to go with the various things we might order, and the owner, wife and server sampled each one as well. The conversation sparkled as well, and though I wasn't entirely pleased with either when my friend and brother went out to smoke - I liked that they seemed to bond over the cigs, but the bro was my partner in nagging our Dad to quit for most of our llives, so I hate to see him smoking himself now, and the friend has health conditions that make it seem like a bad idea. I tried not to nag much, but when I did say something they both took it in good part, and I was touched when in response to my comment that I didn't have big-sister nagging rights over him, the friend commented that I had at least little-sister rights. Beautiful place. Great dinner. If you're in the Philly area and you want an excellent Italian meal (fancy, not cheap), I have the restaurant's card somewhere.

Also, while I'm here: voila, the socks I finished on the way home from the marathon, the scarf I finished in Philadelphia, and the blanket I finished just before this last trip with the hat I started on the flight home. The blanket and hats are for twins; they'll have to share the blanket, but the second hat is on the needles now.

Posted by dichroic at 05:31 PM | Comments (3)

pedicure time

I am a bad house ape - Rudder and I both are. One of the cats has an ingrown claw, which we found out about by noticing a couple little blood spots on the floor. This isn't even the first time this has happened; it happened last winter right before his last vet appointment and of course we meant to check him and clip his claws more regularly. We have checked them a few times since and there hasn't been a problem - maybe he just runs around less when it's colder? But with all the travel last month, well...

Unfortunately we can't get him into the vet until tomorrow, but the person at the desk didn't sound worried and the Beast doesn't actually seem to be bothered by it, at least not nearly as bothered as he is about our messnig with his feet, even at the best of times. I have met cats for whom claw-clipping is as simple as: pick up cat, grab paw gently, clip claw carefully. This is not the case for either of ours. The process takes both of us and the steps are more like: find cat, who has mysteriously vanished as soon as we decide to clip; saunter casually up to him pretending nothing is going on, carefully hiding clipper; hold cat (one of us) and attempt to mobilize his head so he can't bite; grab paw (the other of us) and clip as many claws as possible before cat squirms away. (If you're going to suggest holding him by the scruff, we have and it doesn't seem to have much effect.) Getting him into his carrier used to be almost as much fun, until someone suggested using a pillow case. It's much easier to sneak up on a cat with a pillow case than with a carrier, and easier to put him into it, then decant cat and case together into carrier.

For the other cat, the reactions are similar but involve less tendency to bite and more struggling to run away. And no, we don't abuse our cats: one was feral as a kitten and the other is so scared of everything we think he may have been abused before we adopted him.

Is it my imagination or do female cats tend to be more placid? Both of ours are male.

For the last several years, every day between Thanskgiving and Christmas I've listed two things: my progress on the Concept II Holiday Challenge (200,000 meters on the erg from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and something I'm thankful for. (In fact, one major thing to be thankful for is that it's never too terribly hard to think of something each day.) So:

Concept II Holiday Challenge: 164900 meters left.
Today I am thankful: that both of our cats have been so healthy for the past 16 and 14 years.

Posted by dichroic at 12:19 PM | Comments (1)


In case anyone is wondering, I did write about the gatherings with friends last weekend, but my computer didn't so much eat my entry as refuce to post it (Internet connection was down). I'll put it up tonight, along with photos of the Prattbunnymallcon and (bonus!) several recently finished knitted objects.

Posted by dichroic at 10:02 AM

November 26, 2005

the short version

Somehow I just don't feel like writing. It's cold in my house. My fingers are stiff.

Short version is: didn't get to see all the people I wanted to, but did see most. Had a wonderful time with JournalCon folks on Saturday (more later about that, probably, but rest assured I will inform my brother of the reactions to him). Got to visit with assorted family-by-choice Sunday: went to see the new home of the couple who were big siblings to me during my adolescence, whose house down the block was my escape and whose kids I babysat, as well as another friend who touched me by informing me that I have little-sister-nagging rights. Thanksgiving, of course so it was about food and family: among the former, we had a decent brewpub meal and a phenomenal Italian one, a decent Chinese one and a good turkey one. Unfortunately, all the leftovers are a couple thousand miles away now. Among the latter, we saw my famly enough to appreciate them and to laugh to each other about their quirks, not enough to get too annoyed at anyone, so it was good. Also, we caught up on sleep. The futon at my parents' place is much harder than my bed and accordinglly less comfortable, but I do sleep well on it.

The only bad parts are the cold Rudder came home with (not to serious, I take it, since he's erging now) and the note from the catsitter about how she "couldn't find our mailbox", necessitating a run to the post office to pick up all our mail. (Two, actually, because they didn't open when they were supposed to.) And yes, she did have our phone number, not to mention the number of the woman she works for, who knows where our box is.

And now I have survived all the challenges of November and October, unless you count going back to begin working in a cubicle. ecember should be much easier, I think.

Posted by dichroic at 04:49 PM | Comments (2)

November 17, 2005

getting through

A couple quick notes:

I doubt I'll get to Q in the poetry series until after Thanksgiving, given my travel plans and the fact that I really need to be at home with my references to write it.

Anyone else I haven't made plans with for the Philly trip (or who wants to get in on the mini-JournalCon reprise (squee!) Saturday, email me for my cell phone #.)

I got a phone message from my uncle the other day: "I guess you're back from the marathon. I'm leaving for Berlin tomorrow so I won't tlak to you before you go to Philadelphia. You haven't been there for that long for a while, have you? I hope you survive staying there for a whole week."

It just amused me, because most people would consider rowing a marathon to be a more difficult feat of endurance than staying with your parents for a week, at least if your parents aren't evil, and mine aren't. They are well-meaning and they love us and are excited about this visit. The only thing is .... well, think of Mrs. Bennett. I wonder how often Elizabeth went back for a visited after moving to Pemberley? If it is possible to imagine a somewhat less vulgar set of Bennetts without the drive to marry their daughters to the richest man possible, but with the narrow outlook that made Longbourn the center of the universe and all other places not worth caring about, and if you couple that with Fanny Price's sense of oppression at the crowding and the noise in her family's small house when she had become used to Mansfield Park, you will have a fair picture.

In other words, that is, I'm spoiled. I'm used to living in a large and quiet house, its only other occupants two cats and a man with a decent sense of privacy. I'm used to my own comfy chair and my own big bed and more bathrooms than residents in the house. Going back to a smaller and noiser house, where people yell up and down stairs after I've gone to bed and will want to be with us every second, is going to be exhausting. Even if it is a perfectly reasonable house to live in, one where in fact I spent my first 22 years, even though (unlike poor Fanny Prise) they will be glad to have us there.

I'm not sure if it's easier or harder for Rudder. Harder, probably. He won't have all those pent-up annoyances from adolescence or years-old arguments that have me going from calm to annoyed in a microsecond (similarly, I think I find his parents much less annoying than he does, though we both enjoy their company) but he and my parents are oil and water. It's not that they dislike each other or anything, just that they might as well be separate species, with few interests or experiences in common. Maybe I can send him to the gym with my mom to work on a training plan for her (with me along to temper the workout and remind him she's not trying to win any races). He also suggested asking whether there are any home improvement projects around their house we could do while there, which isn't a bad idea. We might work on our Christmas letter. (Dear All: after flunking the instrument test twice, Dichroic has given up on flying....) And, as I said yesterday, I think going to the movies a few times may work out for all concerned.

Posted by dichroic at 12:46 PM | Comments (2)

November 15, 2005

More marathon memories

Assorted other memories from the weekend:

It was only yesterday that I realized on Saturday after the race, I'd had dinner with (among others) three men over sixty who had just rowed a marathon. And who all look OK in shorts. I mean, when I was young I used to see old men in shorts at the swim club. They had nasty pasty legs with no muscle and they'd wear black socks with their shorts and it all just seemed unnatural and uncomfortable for them. These old rower guys were wearing shorts or jeans because that's what you wear when it's fairly warm out and you're eating dinner at a pub. It looked right on them, and comfortable, and I won't mind at all if I look like a female version when I'm in my sixties.

The funniest part was when Old Salt, who is all of 6 years younger, commented about another rower, "Do you believe he's sixty-nine??" Well, he is a pretty young 69, but from down here, rowing a marathon at 69 doesn't look a whole lot more improbably than rowing it at 63.

It turns out that the Mobile Monet has her own website. It's always more comfortable when you can look at the work of someone you like and realize you like it a lot, too. Take a look. I can just about draw something so it's recognizable, so I'm always impressed at people who can paint at all, let alone paint well. Judging by the awards list, though, in her case other people think so too.

They've just gotten home, so we'll be getting the stuff we sent in the van tonight. This includes the camera bag, so with luck I'll have time to post a couple of race pictures before leaving again Friday.

Stevie Mo's girlfriend is learning to knit, and is just at the garter-stitch scarf stage, so both he and she were very impressed with my socks. I was going to show her how to purl, but then realized there might be something even more basic she needed, so I asked whether she knew how to undo a stitch. She didn't, so I showed her. Funny how differently people learn. I think as soon as I knew how to knit a stitch, it was pretty obvious to me how to undo it; apparently an engineering mind is more useful in knitting than one would suppose. On the other hand, she's majoring in Pastoral Studies, learning to be a hospital chaplain. I'm not sure I could possibly learn to do that job well at all, having all the empathy of your average rock. (I have compassion, just not empathy - can't read people well.)

I've figured out what we can do if we get bored in Philadelphia next week: movies. Generally, there are either too many movies I want to watch, or more commonly, nothing. Right now there are too many: Goblet of Fire, Chronicles of Narnia, Pride and Prejudice, Walk the Line, Mirrormask, even Chicken Little. This might be a good time to catch up, and that might even be something we can do with my dad, who is difficult to interest in anything.

Posted by dichroic at 03:57 PM

November 04, 2005

nothing much to say but have a good weekend

I'm getting ready to leave early for the drive to LA, so won't be getting to K in the poetry series until Monday or so. I can't think of anything major I want to write about, so just a couple little random points.

Yesterday, I got the strangest s p @ m comment here. It was a real comment, with lots of detail about a specific book I'd written about, but with interpolated links for some damn site or other that I have have no interest in. Yet it was obvious the writer had actually read the book I was discussing and it's not even that famous a book. I hope the %#^%# creators of that stuff have not figured out how to inset it in legitimate comments now.

On the way to work, I heard an NPR piece by a former journalist about the atrocities he'd seen in Rwanda and how hard it was and how shameful he felt at shaking the hand of some of the perpetrators of that genocide, in pursuit of interviews from them. He spoke of his interpreter, who had had to watch his own wife killed before his eyes, and who had actually paid her killers to shoot her instead of hacking at her with a machete. (The interpreter himself had been spared because he was Congolese.) I was thinking how it awful it must be when all you can do for someone you love is to give her an easier death. Then I got to thinking of a local rower, who can only wish he'd been abler to pay someone to give his wife a painless death. He has no one to blame, because she died of disease rather than murder. I forget the specifics of her disease, but I will never forget his description, "like Lou Gehrig's disease, only painful". I suppose in a way he did give her the easiest death he could, putting her into a hospice where I'm sure they did all they could with morphine and such, but it was still long and painful. So yeah, there are worse things. Or maybe this is why orderings and comparisons are silly in some cases. Some things are just awful, period.

I have no idea why I wanted to share all of that. Sorry for the downer.

On the upside, I was pleased to see that the Vatican does still remember St. Augustine's teachings, though I wish they'd managed to say so without phrasing it as a slur on other wings of Christianity.

Once again, I am annoyed at my clothing. My jeans are a little tight, fresh from the wash, but otherwise fit except for being too tight in the thighs. My sweater sleeves are so tight that the sleeves of the T-shirt I'm wearing show through. This is just silly. I even went and looked to see if Athleta or Title Nine had some cords cut in a more athletic fit, but I have some trouble getting past the fact that their pants are not only in a very casual cut, but $30 or $40 more than the basic cords that are really all I want. On the other hand, the Levis I tried on the other day were no only too long (no petites offered) but were so tight in the legs that they're not really suitable for work wear.

I'll be back here Monday, after the race. Maybe I'll be able to write about something more interesting then.

Posted by dichroic at 12:04 PM

November 01, 2005

fall holidays

back in normal clothes for an especially hectic day at work. (No, really, yesterday's costume wasn't all that exciting. No lats or other body parts on display. Rings on fingers, bells on toes - well, ankles, but rings on toes), coin belt, bra top, all over a long-sleeved black shirt and long wide skirt. No photos were taken. No loss to anyone, I assure you.) I was glad I wore a costume, though, because few people here did, and somebody needs to make a fool of herself and give a holiday its due. I like holidays of all sorts. I like special days, and small traditions, special foods, dressing up (whether fancy or costume) and things to look forward to. On the other hand, Rudder and I were Hallowe'en grinches last night and didn't give out candy, mostly due to feeling like things are too hectic lately. Anyhow, I'd be more inclined to give kids candy if I ever saw or talked to at least some of said kids the rest of the year. It's not like there's a relationship there. When I was young enough to trick or treat but old enough to go a bit afield, we might walk a block or two over to where we didn't know many people - but we always started on our own blocks. And with thirty or so houses on each side of the street, really, we didn't have to go too far afield to get a weighty haul. Rowhouses have some advantages, after all.

Speaking of rowhouses, we're batting around the idea of going to Philly for Thanksgiving. Airfares look reasonable, if we don't travel on weekends. If we do, we'll be there for a week or so, long enough to visit the friends we haven't seen in far too long. We'll be wanting to do day trips, too, to escape the confines of some of the family, but might also have some with us. There are for example a few of the local skiffy types I really want to introduce my brother to. (You for one, N. I think you'd like each other - or at least each other's libraries, which is always a good start.) once we figure it all out, I'll be putting out an email to all of my friends who can reasonably be considered as being in the area with dates and specifics to figure out who will be there and free when.

Posted by dichroic at 12:28 PM | Comments (3)

October 31, 2005

chiming in

Grr. My PC just ate my entry on iambic pentameter. It was a lame entry, but still a lot of work.

It's very difficult to convince yourself to work hard when you're dressed as a belly-dancer, even in a work-safe version where the skimpy top is worn over a long-sleeved T-shirt. (It's a tight black T-shirt, and my skirt is black, so it doesn't look quite as silly under a red raw silk top as you'd think.) I do like all the chiming sounds from my coin belt and bell anklet as I walk, though it means I can't sneak up on anyone.

Posted by dichroic at 03:57 PM | Comments (2)

another small victory

I forgot to mention another small victory of the weekend: yesterday I paid off my credit card. No more flying debt! I feel very free.

I wasn't going to do this now, because it takes my savings below where I like them to be, but I'd rather pay the interest to me than to a credit card company. So now I have to be nice to my boss (just in case!) until I get the savings back where I want them.

They're still a bit above the amount I spent when I was out of work in 2001, so I don't have to be too nice.

On the downside, I learned yesterday while inspecting it after an oil change and car wash, that my little car is bearing scars from JournalCon (more precisely, from the drive there). There were several paint chips on the hood; I don't remember seeing them before so I think it must have happened when a car ahead of me had a rear tire more or less explode, and a few pieces (small ones, fortunately) bounced up onto my hood and roof.

Posted by dichroic at 12:48 PM

October 27, 2005

forgotten items

There's stuff I keep meaning to write and forgetting, so here is the entry of forgotten things. It jumps around a lot because my brain is like that.

Item: I talked to a lot more cool people at JCon than I managed to link to, but in specific, I can't believe I didn't link to Bozoette Mary in my JournalCon recap entry, not just because of how much time I spent talking to her but because of how much I enjoyed that time. This has now been rectified.

Item: In an entry yesterday, I mentioned four upcoming races: Tempe, this Saturday from about 7-12; next Saturday in Marina del Rey; next Sunday in Newport, and the marathon in Natchitoches, November 12. In Marina del Rey, Rudder will be racing and I'll just watch; I'll race my single in each of the others. The part I forgot to mention was that if you're in the area of any of those, stop by and say hi! We can usually be found by the Arizona flags on our boats, jackets, oars, and unis. In the local Tempe race, I'll be dockmaster so I'll be especially easy to find, though busy.

Item: Another cool thing about JCon that I haven't mentioned was that, though several of the people there deal with serious medical issues, everyone was well enough for this weekend that no walking aids were used, unless you count Ray.

Item: I'm not sure if it was good or bad that I left JCon a little early, wanting to get home early enough to have dinner with Rudder, and so had to skip all the teary goodbyes. I did get to hug a few people, and on balance it's good in a way not to have "closure" for the weekend. Because that way I get to read people's recaps and feel like it's still sort of going on, at least in my head.

Item: My life is going really well just now, except for the work parts of it. For one thing, I'm going to be moved from my nice private office to a (shudder) cube - it's a corporate policy thing, not anything personal. I wonder how much trouble I'd get in for knitting during telecons, if I'm not behind a closed door?

Item: In an article today on Harriet Miers' withdrawal from consideration for the Supreme Court, I read the following sentence: ""The overall lesson of the two nominations taken together is that there is considerable safety in drawing from the very small pool of people who are universally considered qualified for appointment." Um.... Duh?

(Actually, it's even sadder that something so obvious is apparently not that obvious to the White House, or wasn't before all this storm und drang.)

Item: I'm a little worried about the scarf I'm knitting for my uncle. I started it last year, got a few inches in, and put it away to work on other things, since I wouldn't need it until this Chanukah. Problem is, I worked on it during all those panels at JCon and it's still only about 2' long. I've got a looong way to go. I need to finish a baby blanket by December, too, but I only have about 12 rows to go on that. Might add some little baby hats if I have time, since I'll have plenty of yarn left over. Time for the annual buying frenzy to start, too: Chanukah actually begins at Xmas this year, but my mother, brother, and husband have December birthdays. I have yarn for a sweater I want to knit, too - I'm thinking Banff, but with either a deep V neck or maybe the crossover neck from the poncho sweater.

Item: I find I'm still thinking of myself as a pilot. I have no great desire to go flying anytime soon, but I'm actually more interesting in talking about airplanes than when I was taking lessons. And for those who were confused, I AM still a pilot. I just can't fly in instrument conditions. This is not much of a problem, since I don't want to anyway. And at least now I'd know what to do if they did come up suddenly.

Item: I want to dress up for Hallowe'en on Monday. I do have my belly-dancing gear from the Renfaire - wonder if I could just wear the top over something to make it worksafe?

Posted by dichroic at 05:28 PM | Comments (3)

October 25, 2005

deaths and victories

First, the obit section. To quote the Neville Brothers, "Thank you, Miss Rosa. You are the spark that started our freedom movement. Thank you, Sister Rosa Parks.

Yeah, our movement. Three reasons:

If you look at me, it's obvious neither of my parents is black. If you look at my dad when he has a good suntan, it's not so obvious. My brother at the age of three asked, "Is Daddy black?" During his hitch in the Air Force in the 1950s, a few Georgians were similarly confused, and he got called "boy" and told not to drink at the white water fountain. So it's personal.

Second, the Civil RIghts movement can be considered as a major wave in the ongoing fight for liberation of all humans and against prejudice that's been going on for at least a couple hundred years now. Any victory in that war has at least some diminishing effect on all forms of prejudice, including some I've faced. So it is personal.

Third, the Civil Rights movement gave me a chance to grow up without acquiring the unthinking endemic racism that was so prevalent in North and South before it - or at least to grow up with less of it. I would never have felt my mind was in chains, but it would have been nonetheless. So it's personal when I say thank you.

Next, for anyone that reads the New York Times and saw the article about the rowers killed and injured when a speedboat ran over their four, you might have been wondering about the repeated mentions that the rowers weren't wearing life jackets. Item: you can't row in a life jacket. More importantly, rowers are not required by the Coast Guard to carry PFDs because the oars are approved floatation devices. The rowers were not being irresponsible by not wearing life jackets (and I've not convinced they'd have helped in this case). It sounds like their lights might have been a little feeble; how to light a rowing shell is an ongoing discussion in the rowing community. Rudder came up with one of the better mounting ideas I've seen, and we have two white LED bike lights in the stern and a red Trek Disco Inferno light in the bow that makes us hard to miss.

Obituaries done, but I'm still in earnest mode. One thing I'd wanted to write about what was happened before JournalCon. I went rowing Friday morning before driving out to San Diego, which permitted me to see the participants in the Three-Day Breast Cancer Walk gathering for the event. They were assembling in Tempe Beach Park, across the lake from where we launch, and they had to park a few blocks east so I got to see them all walking out to the Opening Ceremonies. There were hundreds of them, walking singly and in groups, male and female, many wearing pink, gathering at 5:30 in the morning to embark on a three-day 60 mile walk. It was incredible. I rowed a little extra that morning: partly to get in some extra distance since I wouldn't be rowing over the weekend (or on Monday - either the Westin gym or dancing at the Karaoke at JCon left me sore!) and partly so I could row very close to shore and shout good luck wishes at the participants as they walked to the start of their march.

Posted by dichroic at 04:34 PM | Comments (1)

October 24, 2005


JournalCon, or Snobby WhoreCon if you prefer, was fun. I was a little worried about that, since there would be no one I had met in person and only a few people with whom I'd exchange e-mails. There were in fact no snobby whores present, or if so they kept both facets well concealed. A gratifying number of people knew who I was, and my swag (silvered beads from India, on cords tied in jeweler's knots so they could be shortened or lengthened) went over well.

I was worried about getting there in time to register, but the drive in went smoothly, and I had no trouble finding the hotel. The Westin was nice - fluffy beds, modern decor, helpful staff (a little too helpful; when I was taking my assorted baggage down at the end of the weekend, they wouldn't let me just take a luggage cart. I had to have someone to roll it for me. Not sure if this was meant to make me feel pampered or if they were afraid I'd oll it into people). The Heavenly bed had me waking up sore every morning, but the pillows and the down blanket also had me sleeping like a dead thing (getting to bed 4-5 hours after my usual bedtime may have contributed). Apparently there were some complaints about the room rates, but it was a fairly smokin' deal for being in a hot area, right in the middle of the Gaslamp District. It's a tradeoff: be out in the boonies and sleep cheap, or be in walking distance of good restaurants and bars and near a major airport and pay more. We did take advantage of the walking distance, for a bar Friday night and tapas Saturday, so I think the JCon committee made the right decision. Dinner Friday featured Jingo, JournalCon bingo - I got to talk to a few people then by virtue of being able to sign in several squares: visited Australia, visited South America, used a car to get to JCon, a few others. I think that was when Jen Trance started telling people, "Yeah, Dichroic's done everything." Fortunately, that's not true, or I'd have to go die now.

Dinner was OK but not spectacular. Part of that was my own fault for ordering chicken; if I were running a caterer, I'd make the chicken option relatively bland, too, for people who like that. I should have gotten the salmon or the vegetarian entree, which looked more interesting. People were raving about the dessert, which was a small tower of three flavors that were either heavy mousse or light cheesecake, but I thought it was not only too sweet, but tasted too much like granular sugar. Maybe I'm just spoiled, because I rarely eat dessert and when I do it's for good reason. Also, we were all just getting acquainted, so conversation was a little light at my table. Saturday's dinner was a little better: excellent company and good tapas at Cafe Sevilla. The main problem with the restaurant is that so many things on the menu looked wonderful, and we could only try a few. Still, I got to sample about six different tapas and some paella, so it was definitely a good place for my first tapas experience. LA or CI: do either of you know the name of the other woman at our table? She's the one who had a limp and was hoarding aioli that night. I really liked her, talked to her quite a bit, but never quite got her name or site name and I'd like to read her.

There are several people I want to start reading regularly now, in fact - whoever that was, Mary, Minarae, Pratt, Carol Elaine, Fredlet, a bunch of others. The ones I already knew were mostly as advertised. LA is fabulous - no surprise there - and I was lucky enough to get to spend time with her, shopping and talking, and even got a short reading. Deb and I need to spend some time together comparing musical favorites. Cruel-Irony was about the only person there who was smaller than I am, and was another one I found easy to talk to. Trance is as cool as you probably thought she was.

The panels were OK; there was only one at a time, and they were informal, so mostly ended up as general discussions. They weren't the highlight of the event, but they were interesting. From what I can gather, this has been true of earlier years as well, so the committee chose a JournalCon Lite format on purpose. Given how much stuff there is to do in the area, I also appreciated the breaks between sessions.

The highlight, for me, was the karaoke session. Best party I've been to in a long time. There was also a Texas Hold-Em game going, but since I have very little interest in gambling, I never did stop in there. The karaoke ranged from "Ouch! I need to leave the room" to nearly professional. I don't know who recorded Sin Wagon, but I can tell you she's not much better at it than Jen Trance. And I don't know who Biensoul was channelling, but I'm guessing he's about 6'2", black, and wears big baggy pants and a lot of chains. She had not only the words but all the moves down. Her sister made me wish I had signed up to sing Me and Bobby McGee, except that she did it way better than I would have. I think I was somewhere in the middle; at least no one ran screaming from the room; I got some gratifying comments, and a whole chorus line got up to dance Timewarp with me. AND the DJ had the complete version, so I got to do Columbia. Yay!

It was even worth still having ringing in my ears the next morning.

(I think I told a couple of people I hadn't done karaoke since my wedding. Not strictly true, as I remembered later; the last time I sang karaoke was with a crazy Russian seaman and a couple other American women in the crew's recreation area on the Akademik Ioffe in the Antarctic Sea. But this was a better party, and no one had to be pried off me by soberer people. (Actually, it wasn't the karaoke singer but a crazier Russian who had to be pried off. Just in the interests of accuracy.))

That ended at midnight. Afterwards, some of us headed out to find a bar except then we lost everyone else, so went back to get them and then sat around the hotel, until most of them went out to get pancakes and I went to bed. Considering it was 1AM by then, I was impressed at the turnout at the 9AM session. Clearly these people are far more hardened than I.

I snuck out early in order to get home in time to have a proper dinner with Rudder, but did at least get to hug a few people goodbye. On the drive home I listened to some of the swag CDs, my iPod, which apparently had a little tiny DJ in it playing Twofer Sundays, and audiobooks from the library. I discovered I apparently eat like a French woman, except for all the pretzels. (Maybe a French woman near the German border?) I looked at red rock mountains and cacti, and thought of pulling over to take a picture to document the end of my weekend, but didn't. And for some reason, I did enjoy the drive.

My only regret from the weekend is that most of my pictures came out lousy. In a few cases, this is just because of over- or under-lighting, though. If I can fix them to look better, I'll post a few.

Posted by dichroic at 05:23 PM | Comments (6)

October 17, 2005

the weekend that was, the week that will be

It wasn't among the world's greatest weekends. The half marathon on the water on Saturday went smoothly, but the tea incident was just part of a whole series of frustrations with Rudder. I think we have it all ironed out as of this morning, fortunately; I'm not one of those who won't go to bed mad, but I was determined not to go into tomorrow's checkride distracted and annoyed. Yesterday's flight went well enough - one stupid mistake, but I won't make that one again - but I'm a bit worried about tomorrow. They're predicting rain all night and all morning, with thunderstorms this evening. It's supposed to be down to showers, with not too much wind, by the time I go up tomorrow, so I'm hoping for no worse than drizzle out of high clouds. Thunderstorms or strong wind are reasons to cancel; plain rain is not, but I really don't want to do my checkride in actual IMC!!! (Instrument Meteorological Conditions, aka flying in clouds.)

I get to leave on Friday morning for JournalCon, so no matter what happens tomorrow, I have something to look forward to. I haven't decided what to bring - jeans, of course, but like LA I'm not sure about dress clothes. If I have room, maybe my very full black skirt from the RenFaire - and if not, one that's knee-length, stretchy and packs small. On second thought, maybe I'll bring that one anyhow. I expect jeans-and-long-sleeves weather, in the 50s and 60s, and since I'm adapted to Arizona will bring a light jacket, probably either fleece or my rowing one. (Unfortunately, all the other rowers in town will be off at the Head of the Charles - this is especially problematic since the hotel doesn't have a rowing machine.) I'll bring my eensy car, so parking will be easy, and should try to remember to bring at least the small camera. I don't think I'll bring the big one since photo ops are more likely to be snapshots than anything that would need enlarging. I need to remember my swag, which will NOT be mix CDs. (I doubt most people out there really want mixes of Stan Rogers, Silly Wizard, and Great Big Sea.) Hm. What else do I need to bring? It's only two days, so probably not much.

For some reason I'm really looking forward to the solo drive. I've driven from here to LA once, from Worcester, MA to Philadelphia once (both round-trip), and that's about it for long solo drives. I've done lots of other driving trips, of course, but not alone. The only thing is that I really ought to either go to the library for or buy some audio books, in case I get tired of listening to music. The latter makes packing much easier, since I can just download onto the iPod. My cargo space is basically just the passenger seat, which will hold my luggage, drinks and snacks for the trip, so space is a consideration.

Anyone else going to JCon who wants my cellphone number (or wants to give me theirs), email me.

Posted by dichroic at 01:38 PM | Comments (2)

October 16, 2005

no Tea

Rudder got up and left before me this morning. (I'm going off to fly, he had to meet some people to work on a boat.) When I got downstairs I found the kettle was hot. I surmise he made Tea and didn't bring me any.

It would take more explanation and past history than I have time to type t explain why this upset me so. Suffice it to say that it did.

Posted by dichroic at 08:17 AM | Comments (3)

October 14, 2005

can I become a superhero without having to drown in toxic chemicals first?

I posted yesterday on my LJ and on the WeirdJews community about the idea of forgiveness, and the discussion on those posts has made me a lot more comfortable with the idea. To take the consensus there and turn it into concrete examples, I don't have to forgive George Bush for the deaths that have happened due to his actions or inactions, for example. I only have to forgive him for the things he has done to me personally, which are considerably more minor, a matter of some embarassment and upset feelings. The forgiveness doesn't have to preclude the sort of righteous anger that drives positive change. In fact, even if he had hurt me personally in a much more substantial way, I wouldn't have to forgive him unless he had actually apologized, though it might be better for my own mental state to do so.

I can live with that. I will endeavor to quit indulging the fantasy in which he comes to visit my company and instead of shaking hands I spit on him, literally or by saying, "Mr. President, you are an evil and despicable excuse for a man." (But I still wouldn't shake hands. I don't think I could ever actually spit on someone anyway, no matter how despiséd, because I would be so appalled if someone did it to me.)

My weekend will include a half marathon again, only this time on the water, on Saturday, and then on SUnday a flight with my instructor that will be a rehearsal for the IFR re-checkride. I don't know what I'll do if I don't pass this one, so I suppose I'd better pass.

It's probably just as well that I'm moving more of my training from the erg to the water. With all those long erg pieces, I think I've been watching way too many superhero movies - even the ones that didn't have heroes with actual superpowers (Daredevil, Catwoman) had heroes who can do cool tricks that normal people can't, like base-jumping off bridges and setting world records (xXx, Without Limits). Last night I noticed they'd left me with a residual desire to go flipping around, jumping onto improbably high objects, and taking down enemies much bigger than I am. This morning at rowing, I was thinking how cool it would be to attach a cape to my spandex uni. Considering that I have no martial arts or other fighting, that my flipping is mostly limited to a half-decent roundoff and a good cartwheel, and that a cape attached to a uni would just get cuaght in the slides or dragged in the water while rowing, this is probably not healthy. Either I need to go watch a movie in which smart people are glorified instead or else I need to switch bodies with one of my cats for a day.

Posted by dichroic at 03:34 PM

October 13, 2005


Today is Yom Kippur. Though so far today I have honored it more in the breach than in the observance (working, not fasting) , one of the most important facets of the holiday is that it ends the Days of Repentance, also known as the Ten Days of Awe. It is traditional at this time to end quarrels and to ask for and offer forgiveness. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I have borrowed some of the words below to ensure I didn't forget anything.)

If I have upset or offended any of you, then I apologize and beg forgiveness. If anything I have done has had the effect of hurting, demeaning, or otherwise injuring you, I promise that it was unintentional, and I apologize and beg forgiveness.

If any of you with whom I interact on the Internet or in real life have injured or upset me, I know that it was unintentional and I bear no grudge.

I am not a good person, I suspect. I ought to offer the same words to my coworkers, but I have not due to fear of ridicule or being seen as even stranger than they already think me. (I probably will do so in a few cases, however.) I will probably offer them to my husband. I ought to have forgiven others who have injured me or those I care about, but I am not sure how to bring myself to do that, in cases where there are no apologies or repentance (George Bush springs to mind, and the deaths he and the government he leads have caused.) I don't know whether there is an accepted Jewish opinion on this; that is, I'm sure there are many opinions, because it is so obviously an issue that has come up again and again - and for all I despise Bush and consider him unfit to lead a nation of freedom, clearly he is no Stalin or Hitler - but I don't know if there is one opinion that is accepted by most Jewish theologians.

Posted by dichroic at 01:49 PM

October 12, 2005


I can't quite figure out what my subconscious is trying to tell me, but apparently it tinks I'm some how bound. I had two dreams last week about being restrained. The first and worse one was on a morning when Rudder had gone off to row, and I got to sleep in a little longer. I dreamed that he had left the garage door open and that some man had come in to the house. He grabbed me and held me from behind, not hurting me or making any move to do anything else. Still, I assumed he was there for rape, murder, or other mayhem, or at least that I had better assume he was and act accordingly. I fought as dirty as I could, kicking and biting, but he was too strong and I couldn't escape at all. Nothing else happened before the alarm went off.

The other dream wasn't nearly as scary. It started out in some sort of gym / locker room setting. For some reason at first there were no showers. I was trying to take a sort of sponge bath, without being too revealing because I was standing by an opening to outdoors. Then I figured out where the real showers were, spent some time roaming around collecting all my gear, and headed toward them. At that point a woman, much larger than I am (but normally so, not a giant) didn't want me going there so she grabbed me and held me from behind in a bear hug, as the man did in the other dream. This time I wasn't so much frightened as annoyed, but again I fought as hard as I could and wasn't able to escape.

I don't know if my subconscious thinks I'm somehow trapped right now, if this could be about being stuck in my job or with the flying, or if I've just been getting tangled in the bedsheets.

Posted by dichroic at 02:01 PM

October 07, 2005

Friday randomness

While putting my jeans on this morning, I realized the 80s would have been a more comfortable decade if they'd had decent stretch denim back then. These jeans are fairly tight in the thighs, both because they'd just come out of the washer and because of my monstrous muscular legs (well, and that jiggly stuff on top of the montrous muscles!) but they're not uncomfortable at all, unlike what I wore back then (despite having less jiggle at the time).

I'm also thankful that the fashion nostalgia for the 80s has managed to forget and thus not resuscitate such things as high waisted jeans that were skin-tight all the way to the ankles, satin boxer shorts and jackets, enormous shoulder pads and big hair. Those can stay dead, please. Especially the tight jeans and shoulder pads; those other things are easier to avoid.

This will only be funny if you know something about Six Sigma:
Question: what's the difference between FEMA and a FMEA?
Answer: with a FMEA, you try to assess risks and figure out in advance how to deal with any disasters that may occur.

Yes, I am a geek.

Wish me luck with my checkride Sunday. The big question is, if I pass, should I treat myself to new ultralight oars or a rosy red blazer (much prettier in Pomegranate) in an incredibly soft wool? The best answer will be "both" but I need to get the credit card paid back off after all those flying expenses.

Posted by dichroic at 01:57 PM | Comments (2)

October 06, 2005


The things I'm thinking about my boss are probably best not set out in a public forum. Suffice it to say that he's making that whole trailer idea look better and better every day. It sounds like Rudder's boss is having the same effect, possibly more so.

My week began at about 5:15 Monday morning with an involuntary dunk in the lake. It will end with an IR checkride at 1PM Sunday. (Or possibly with said checkride being postponed due to a predicted thunderstorm.) And the parts in between haven't been easy either. Yesterday was nice and quiet, though it was a bit disconcerting when I went to shave my legs in my morning shower and found bruising along the insides of both thighs. I hadn't known they were there until then, though presumably they were a result of Monday's little adventure (on the theory that I'd have noticed if anything else had happened to cause bruises in that location).

The dunking wasn't all bad though: the water could have been much colder and now at least I've gotten my first one out of the wa. (As someone said, there are two kinds of rowers: those who have fallen in and those who will. Actually, most people fall in both categories.) The rest of yesterday wasn't bad either: I got a decent amount of work done and the all-B dinner I made at the same time (brisket, bowties & kasha, and beans, comma, green, with brownies for dessert) was tasty. With luck the checkride will be like that too: probably annoying but ultimately successful.

(My private-pilot checkride wasn't annoying at all; in fact it was a great learning experience and kind of fun, with a salty old guy who'd been a cropduster and who had definite Opinions about the FAA. But the instrument one is supposed to be the most difficult of all checkrides and there's a whole lot of finicky stuff to remember: when to push the OBS button on the autopilot or the GPS button on the VOR receiver, what various symbols mean on a low-altitude airways map, what the different types of NOTAMs and SIGMETs (notices to airmen and significant weather warnings, respectively) and so on and so on and so on.)

Posted by dichroic at 10:58 AM

October 04, 2005

as the year begins

This got me thinking: what would I wish to my friends, online and in real life, for the year that begins today?

Everyone has an upcoming year, whether you celebrate Rosh Hashana or not, so I don't feel a need to limit wishes to only those who celebrate it. If you're reading this, or if you're anyone else I care about (and you arean't reading this so you won't ever know but) I wish you all:

Life, love, liberty. Happiness, or at least the ability to pursue it. Prosperity.

Dreams and time to pursue them. Adventure, and comfort afterward.

Creative urges and the skills, ability, time, freedom and materials to satisfy them.
Something new to learn.

On a more concrete level, books to lose yourself in. Things to play with. Ideas to play with.

Stimulating arguments and cooperative agreements.

As I think about what I'd want for my friends, I keep coming back to Fred Small's words, and I don't think I can do better than to quote him. From Willie's Song:

May the rain run off your shoulder when you're caught in a storm When the frost comes a-calling may it find you safe and warm May your place be set, may your promises be kept, May you never forget you are loved.

But I still wish you adventure and dreams, too.

Posted by dichroic at 03:22 PM | Comments (2)

October 03, 2005

dear little village, little town

Listening to the ongoing interviews with people displaced from New Orleans, I started to hear something a little different today. The immediate shock of loss is over, and people are beginning to know what they've lost and what they have left. Suddenly I get it on a whole different level. Especially among those who are reluctantly comtemplating making a new life somewhere else, I started hearing a familiar tune.....

"All we found were my wedding rings and a waterlogged videotape..."

"A little bit of this, a little bit of that, a pot, a pan, a stove, a hat...."

People spoke of the difficulty of attending a new church, instead of the one they'd always attended, whose priest had baptized anf married them.

"Where else could Sabbath be so sweet?...."

People spoke of trying to keep in touch with the old neighborhood, whose residents are now scattered across the country.

"Where I know everyone I meet....">

People spoke of decide whether to leave, weighing in the balance leaving of jobs they'd been in for decades and old familiar routine, of leaving a place where they had a place and a role, where they knew who they were and how they fit into the community. And I heard:

"Soon I'll be a stranger in a strange new place, searching for an old familiar face..."

I don't have roots where I live now. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, as my parents were before me, but the generation of my family that immigrated to America ranges from my grandparents to my great-great-grandparents, no farther back. It takes books, movies, plays - stories - for me to understand what leaving means from a place where you do have roots, but though they have more free choice, and though visiting home or even moving back later will be much more possible than it was for immigrants a couple of generations ago, it looks to me like those who decide to leave New Orleans will be feeling something of what their ancestors did for wherever they left in order to settle there. For those who go back and then decide to move away, I suspect the American Wakes that used to be given to Irish immigrants will have a new life.

"What do we leave? Nothing much, only....

Only home. Only knowing who you are and how you fit into where you are. Only the part of you that's part of it. I hope that those who stay will be able to build a new home, and that those who go will find a new home.

Posted by dichroic at 11:16 AM | Comments (3)

September 30, 2005

Small is Beautiful

These days, cartoons aimed at little kids generally have some sort of moral in them . I can deal with that as long as the story is sufficiently engrossing to sugarcoat the moral so that it slides down easily, but every once in a while you get one that doesn't quite convey the message it's meant to get across.

This morning I was erging (only 9000 m, despite having skipped Tuesday's erg piece because I am a wuss) and watching The New Adventures of Pooh. I'm not as fond of this as I was of The Book of Pooh, which I used to wacth until ^%$^ Disney changed the schedule on me (presumably either they ran out of episodes of that an Madeleine or they thought older kids would be up at 5AM once the school year started) because in this rendition Rabbit is grouchier (though his expressions are wonderfully drawn), thre's an annoying added gopher character, and Pooh has gone beyond being a Bear of Little Brain to the point of idiocy and is furthermore such a glutton that he usually can't talk about anything but Hunny for more than about half a sentence.

Actually, Pooh was a little better than usual in this particular episode. In this one, Piglet, after needing a bit of help from his larger friends, (who were nice about it but kept referring to him as Little Friend) became very depressed about being such a Very Small Animal. First, his friends decided to console him by sneaking in while he was sleeping, taping magnifying spectables to his eyes and big boxes to his feet so that he was much taller and everything else looked tiny. At this point he began calling everyone else Little Friend, helping them by dint of his superior size and strength (and Rabbit's pulley system, unbeknownst to Piglet) and all but patting them on the head.

AFter the ruse was revealed, Piglet was so depressed that he decided to leave and get out of everyone's life. (Various characters do this about every third episode, whereas in Milne's original writings, the Hundred-Aker Wood was the whole world to them.) First his friends tried making Pooh a subsitute best friend by dressing Eeyore in Piglet's clothing. When this was unsatisfactory, they settled down to throw Piglet a Welcome Home Party on the theory that he'd have to come back home for it.

Meanwhle, Piglet finally turned around after a bunch of ants he'd helped along the way made him a cupcake to show how thankful they were for his help, and he realized that at least he was bigger than they were.

Presumab;y Disney was trying to show that everyone is important, but if I were a logically-minded little kid (as I was), I think the messages I'd have gotten would be:

I. Bigger people tend to be patronizing to smaller people. (True, that, and it's something kids often know well before thy learn the word "patronizing", though many forget it once they become Big.)
II. Bigger people are better than smaller people. It wasn't realizing that he could help someone that consoled Piglet, or realizing that his friends loved him as he is (as they plainly did, and said so) but realizing that he was bigger than someone else.

I don't think those are lessons I'd want to teach my hypothetical kid. (Especially if said kid was, like her mother, the smallest one in class.) And I bet whoever wrote that particular episode was Big. I don't mind being a Very Small Animal; it has many distinct advantages (except for rowing purposes). But I do mind the unthinking attitudes that tend to assume Bigger is Better for everything except women's waist sizes.

Posted by dichroic at 03:59 PM | Comments (4)

September 27, 2005

need a change

This morning I rebelled: totally skipped my workout and slept in until 6. Sometimes you just have to give yourself a little break.

On the other hand, I've been giving myself all too much of a break from flying. I haven't studied since having my stage check a week ago Sunday, and if I ever want to get this damned thing over with I need to get cracking. I am so looking forward to finishing and only being in one sort of training at once.

I think I've just been feeling a little overwhelmed in general lately: marathon training, IFR training, and most of all, work, which has just been annoying lately. I think what I need is the feeling of some change or progress in my life. Finishing the IFR would be a good one. Moving to someplace cooler would be even better. However, I'd even settle for finishing up the baby blanket I've been knitting for the last month or so and getting to start something new. (I did finally finish my Telecon Sock - actually based on the Crusoe pattern from Knitty, except I'm doing them toe-up, at a different gauge, and on two circs - but as that only means I get to start the second one, the excitement is less than overwhelming.) Of course I could just put the blanket down and start something else, but since it is for a coming baby, there's a deadline.

What I need is a) to study hard and finish the IFR, b) get in a properly reflective mood for Rosh Hashanah (I should read my old entries for that), and c) to start getting excited about JournalCon. Oh, and d) to remember that a major one of the things hanging over my head, the erg marathon, is both successful and OVER.

Posted by dichroic at 12:49 PM

September 26, 2005

survival and advancement

I guess the training worked - I felt much better Saturday afternoon, yesterday, and today than I remember being after last year's marathon. Of course, I had that vertigo thing starting the day of last year's marathon, so that was probably part of it. (Actually, looking back at last year's entries, I'd had some mild instances of dizziness a couple weeks before that.) It also probably helped that we did the marathon on Saturday instead of Sunday this year, and so we had a day to recover. Last year's marathon was planned for Saturday, but I had to ask Rudder to reschedule because it fell on Yom Kippur. I sitll have a couple of residual sore spots, but I also have a massage scheduled for tonight that ought to help with that. (I hope so: this morning's 6K wasn't too bad, but I have to do 15K tomorrow, and 12K on the water Wednesday.)

My doubles partner from last year's marathon (the on-the-water one) did this marathon too. He finished about five minutes behind me - he'd pulled faster times, but those 63-year-old kidneys necessitated a couple of extra breaks. Still, "miles ahead of those who stayed on the couch" - which includes the vast majority of those in their seventh decade.

It was interesting looking back at last September's entries here. At that point, I was getting ready for my first marathon, as I am now; just beginning the IFR training I'm winding up now; and searching for the job I've been in for nearly a year now. I like having this ability to look back at a snapshot of my life at a given time. It's like when you're hiking up a mountain, and the peak looks high and far above you, so you stop and look back over the trail you've hiked because it's encouraging to see how far you've already come.

I have a feeling that if I were to search my archives more closely, I'd find I've said that before.

Posted by dichroic at 01:08 PM | Comments (1)

September 23, 2005

I ate a mutant

I can't say I'm thrilled at the idea of doing a marathon tomorrow. At least if I finish this one I can be relatively confident of finishing the one on the water in November. (Assuming Natchitoches, Lousiana is spared by this wretched hurricane season.) Rudder is probably even less thrilled about tomorrow, because he's got some kind of head cold or allergy thing going on. (On the other hand, he's the one who's organized this for the third year in a row, so he's got only himself to blame!) There's a faint possibility some local reporter will come out for the event, too (apparently, 8-10 people crazy enough to row a marathon indoors are newsworthy), so I may just end up in the local news. If so, I'm hoping for newspaper rather than TV, in the hopes that no one will have to look at me in spandex, sweat running down my back, and an expression on my face or either vacant stupor or teeth-gritting pain.

It's been a rough and tiring week, overall. Aside from some needed food-shopping, I may well spend Sunday in bed or on the sofa doing nothing more athletic than knitting or reading. I'd like to get my baby blanket done before its intended recipients (rather, their prospective parents) move across the country, but it may not be possible.

And what does it mean when, on Friday of a rough week, depressed that you can't even look forward to the weekend. you go to the admin's desk to get a couple of M&Ms to cheer yourself up and the little gumball machine they're in disgorges a mutant M? It had a bump of candy coating sticking out one side, white at the tip - either a horn or a zit, depending on how you prefer to look at it. (Having eaten it myself, I prefer to think of it as a horn. Less gross.)

Posted by dichroic at 02:21 PM | Comments (2)

September 22, 2005


Today I officially postponed the work thing that conflicted with JournalCon. (I don't think I'm going to ask to be reimbursed for the postponement fee, since it was my screw-up.) So I'll be there in San Diego. This is my first JCon and I keep hearing about how it will be smaller than usual. Also, I haven't met anyone there in person - let's see: one person I email back and forth with, one friend of a friend of a friend, a couple of people whose blogs I occasionally comment on. Oh well, if it feels too weird, there's always shopping and beaches.

Posted by dichroic at 04:50 PM | Comments (2)

the little gray house

In December of 1995, we sold our house in League City, Texas, and moved to Arizona. We'd lived in that house for only a year and a half, but it was the first one we'd owned; we'd had it built, had chosen the floor plan and all of the colors and flooring and fixtures. It was the house in which we planned our Pennsylvania wedding and to which we returned after our honeymoon. It was where we lived as we finished our Masters degres. League City is a Houston suburb today, but it's far enough southeast of the city and old enough that in its youth, residents traded mostly in Galveston. In the days before air-conditioning and before the devastating 1900 hurricane, Galveston was the queen city of the region, while Houston was a small inland city. And for residents of League City, it was much faster to go to Galveston by boat than to Houston over land. As Rudder reminded me yesterday, our old house is in Galveston County. There's no doubt that if we still lived there we wouldn't be home today. We'd have evacuated to somewhere further inland.

Specifically, our former home is in risk zone G3, which is considered to be threatened by any hurricane of Category 3 or higher passing over the area. Local building requirements, stricter than those in Houston's Harris County, required it to be built with hurricane strapping, metal commectors reinforcing the wood frame, but that's not going to do much good in Cat 4 or 5 winds.

We built our house new, but it's in the hundred-year-old historic part of League City, not far from the City Park with its bandstand or the West Bay Common School Schoolhouse Museum. The land had apparently been in contention for years, and several lots had just become available in the old part of town where live oaks spread out to make a canopy across narrow streets. Most of the houses in the area are original Victorians, mostly in at least decent shape, some beautifully restored. Our builder gave us a choice of lot and of several house plans, all with vaguely Victorian exteriors to blend into the neighborhood. This was his first foray into modest houses; because he was used to building expensive custom homes (and because he wasn't all that bright, a fact that worked in our favor in several places), he gave us much more freedom than most builders do. In addition to all the usual choices of colors and carpets and hardware, we were able to make slight changes in the floorplan: we added a vaulted ceiling in the master bedroom, raised the hearth of the living room fireplace, and added drawers in the walls of the master closet and the second bedroom that were built into the roofspace of the first floor, which extended out beyond the second floor. We moved the back door from the dining room to the kitchen, so that anybody coming in from the back yard would track dirt on tile instead of carpet.

We visited the house every day as it was going up. Those drawers were added at the builder's wife's suggestion (she ran the office) at very little cost to us, as she walked through the house looking at the then-naked frame. The lead carpenter hated the half-wall, telling us it would be wobbly. At his suggestion, we had him add a column from the end of the wall up to the ceiling, which made it much more stable. The tile guy liked the tiles, but the siding guy hated the colors we'd picked (dove gray, with royal blue and white trim) and tried to talk us out of it. We were firm, and when he saw the finished product, he admitted that he'd been wrong and ours was the prettiest house on the block. We had people come by occasionally asking if we had a bit of scrap siding in those colors and if we'd mind if they copied them on a house somewhere else.

We put in raised beds on the side and behind the house, planting flowers, tomatoes, cantalope, and hot peppers, and put a banana plant by the downspout to soak up the excess water. There was one big tree in front, surrounded by a ring of Mexican Heather, and several others in back. My favorite features of that house were the built-in drawers, the walk-in closet on the second floor, and the hall closet on the first floor that extended back and under the stairs. (When we brewed, that's where we left the beer to ferment, since it was in the middle of the house and the temperature was fairly constant.) That house, at 1350 square feet, taught me that a little house can be comfortable to live in, if it's well-designed and has enough storage space. I still miss it.

I have friends in Houston, and lots of former coworkers and neighbors. Obviously my first concern now is for them, but I'm sparing a little bit of hope that that little house survives the hurricane without too much damage.

Posted by dichroic at 01:28 PM | Comments (1)

September 16, 2005

don't feel much like thinking

Aw... one of the nicest compliments I've gotten, from Melissa. Check out the poem she mentions, too: I hadn't seen it before and it's well worth reading.

I may donate money to the fund my company's set up, because they're matching donations. They'll use it to help employees who lost houses rebuild and then for community rebuilding projects. (I'm still not entirely sure on that, because it might be better to donate to something helping people who don't have a job to go back to.)

Well, drat. Because I don't feel much like thinking, I was going to end here with a meme someone or other tagged me with last week, but darned if I can find who or what it was. SInce this entry has now been up for fifteen minutes while I cleaned the crud out of my phone (that has probably been there since I moved into this office - I cleaned the phone when I moved in, but this grot was inside the mouthpiece grooves and required much dredging), I don't think much more is getting written today.

Though I did actually do a little writing this week - a fic about Shirley Blythe, his daughter and his airplane, a decade or so after WWI. It only needs a beta-reader to help bring it closer to something LMM could have written, had she liked airplanes. Anyone?

(Hint: If the names "Shirley Blythe" and LMM don't mean much to you, you're not the right person to read it. But thanks anyway.)

Posted by dichroic at 03:16 PM | Comments (1)

September 15, 2005

enough luck

On my way up to bed, I walked outside for a minute to look at the sky. It isn't even full dark yet, just dark enough to see the stars right overhead, if I stand just so that the palm tree blocks the streetlight behind the easement. And the small airport next to our neighborhood seemed to have upgraded their beacon lately, so the flashes wash across our yard, one green and two white for a civilian aerodrome. But when I looked up, there was a satellite moving south to north, a big bright one. Wrong direction for the Space Station, but nearly that bright.

I would think that seeing a satellite is a sign of good luck approaching, except that, like a rainbow, seeing a satellite or shooting star is enough luck on its own that asking for any more seems greedy.

Posted by dichroic at 08:57 PM

in the tunnel

I've been downright weepy lately, I begin to realize. Not depressed: depressed is when you don't see light at the end of the tunnel. I see light, but there is a tunnel. Part of that, of course, is the same reason everyone else who follows the news is depressed; part of it is because Rudder is away; part of it is because work is medium-sucky right now; part of it is due to various things not working out like the date conflict I just discovered, the vase I broke on my way out the door at 4:30 AM yesterday morning, the traffic jam on the highway this morning, the possiblity that I won't finish the IFR this weekend, and so on. I think it's all compounded by the annual elegiac wistfulness Fall generally brings. It's not a particularly unpleasant feeling, mostly (except when I think too hard about the news from Katrina or Iraq); it's more like having a quiet sniffle over a sad story, while seated in a comfortable chair in a warm safe house with a hot cup of tea handy and a purring cat on the back of the chair.

It's also a good feeling for moving into the season of the High Holidays, which have been for me a time of looking back and forward, regretting and hoping, leading into the endings and beginnings of fall and winter: the leaves and then the snow I know are falling elsewhere, if not here, as the world goes to sleep; the thankfulness for past gifts the harvest festivals of Shavuot, Hallowe'en* and Thanksgiving symbolize; and the defiant joy-and-light-in-winter of Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year. I love Fall and the beginning of Winter.

*Yeah, I know Hallowe'en isn't meant to be about harvest and thanksgiving: work with me here. There are corn and squash and pumpkins used for decorating, and there's candy. What's that if not a harvest, for a little kid?

Seasons, events, places, and books often have soundtracks for me, especially if they evoke any sort of strong emotion. NPR news has often brought me to tears, since Katrina hit: today they were of a different sort, brought on by their playing a snippet of "How Can I Keep From Singing?" during the news. That's the song for me right now, for its stubborn glow of hope in unsettled times. Yesterday they had a story on Eliza Gilkyson's song "Requiem": it's a beautiful song and very applicable, but it's also an invocation of Mother Mary, so I could never sing it without feeling that it's really someone else's song. "How Can I Keep From Singing?" hit me without being hindered by doctrinal differences. It speaks of love and hope in difficult and dangerous times. That's what I need to hear now, that and other music of hope and regret. In fact, I'm putting on the iPod now.

Posted by dichroic at 02:46 PM | Comments (3)

September 14, 2005

goofs and procedures

Son... of... a...BITCH!!

I've just realized that on the Friday and Saturday of JournalCon I'm signed up to take a class and then a test for a work-related certification. Getting said cert is supposed to be one of my goals for this year, and it's not given again until March. I've known about both of these dates for months, so I am an idiot for not realizing this sooner.

I'm investigating alternatives and options.

As it happens, this is the last time this particular certification will be given; next time around, the cert will be changed in a direction that actually matches one currently being emphasized in my company. I could change when I'm taking it, for a fee (that my sort-of boss has said the company would pay, though I think it's only fair for me to pay it in this instance). On the other hand, I signed up for this late (as stated, I am an idiot) and had to ask for special favors, so I hate to reschedule now. Also, it's a certification I don't much care about and am getting only because the boss said to.And it is supposed to be one of my goals for this year, as I wrote, but then again, the reorg has changed so many things that several of my goals are no longer valid.

There are a lot of 'then, agains' in this dilemma. I miss having Rudder around to talk stuff over with - this, and the issue of when I go for my IFR checkride. I've never been one to have a lot of close friends, and he's really the only one who knows all the background, plusses and minuses on both issues.

Speaking of job matters, something I heard on the Katrina-related news this morning hit me right where I work. Apparently, after the hurricane, the airport terminal in NOLA was used as an emergency medical clinic. The doctors there have had problems getting the supplies they needed, from drugs to catheters; apparently FEMA brought them in from elsewhere, but not their supplies (not for several days) and it was requiring properly filled-out forms for supply requests.

Not only does forcing people to fill out long forms in a disaster zone seem like a bad idea, but those physicians didn't have a fax machine handy to send the forms over to Baton Rouge. (Hello? Disaster zone?) The thing that really griped me, though, was a comment from a FEMA official:

"Those doctors are used to working in big emergency rooms, where when they want something, they just ask for it. They need to realize that this is the government they're dealing with, and we have procedures we need to follow."

Grrrrr. Grrrr on many levels.

This is what I do for a living. I read, write, explain, help implement, and improve procedures in an industry where faulty products can lead to major damage and even loss of life. If you get past all the regulations, standards, and requirements to their actual intent, this is what our procedures are for: they are there to make sure no equipment is damaged, no airplane crashes and most importantly no person is killed or injured because of any steps missed or corners cut in this company. That is why my job matters.

That FEMA quote is talking about the worst thing that could possibly happen in my field: lives put at risk, maybe even lost, because of bad procedures.

He's showing a fair bit of ignorance: hospitals certainly do have procedures. They are designed and streamlined so that no time is wasted in the emergency room, but someone has to make sure that the requisite objects are in place and organized to be ready when called for, and I'd bet it's done in a fairly standard way. Hospitals have a supply chain like any other business, and someone has to track drugs and supplies to know when to order more.

Done right, procedures can help things move along more quickly and enable a less-experienced person to do things right the first time, by following steps written by someone who knows what they're doing. Done wrong, they are called "red tape" and other less flattering things, and get in the way of doing the job - in this case, maybe fatally.

Procedures can be written to take emergencies into account, and I'd think FEMA, of all organizations, would have figured that out. An example in this case might have read something like, "Medical supplies must be requisitioned with the following form, which should be faxed to the XXX Adminstrator at XXX-XXX-XXXX. In cases of emergency, however, the prescribing physician may present a list of the drugs required, with signature and MD license number (or whatever doctors have). This must be supplemented by a full explanation on form YYY within 60 days from the time such supplies are issued."

See? Easy. Leave an out, but require someone in authority to take responsibility for taking that out, delineate the circumstances under which it can be used, and get it documented properly later, when the emergency is over, so you can keep track and so you have something to learn from for the next time.

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

September 13, 2005

assorted training

I think it's time to give some more money for hurricane relief, but I don't want to donate to the Red Cross this time. I've heard a few stories about places where they were blocked from going in, and about people getting frustrated with them - not many, but the few I've heard weren't counter-balanced by stories about all the good they've done. More importantly, they've gotten a huge percentage of all money donated to date, which is appropriate given that they're the designated first responder, but their focus is on immediate emergency relief (as it should be). Now I want to give money for use in rebuilding, either places or lives. Any suggestions?

I may be overtraining, or possibly just undersleeping. With Rudder away, I've been getting to bed a little late. I've been tired for the last couple of days, and my resting pulse rate seems to be up a couple of beats. I get to leave work early today for a dentist appointment, and even though I'll be dialing back in to work from home afterward, it should still make it easier to get to bed on time. If I'm not tired in the morning, I'll go row; otherwise I'll erg so I can sleep a little longer.

Part of the problem is the conflict between rowing and flight training. Now I've balanced y schedule with the FBO's and the examiners, it looks like I may be doing my check ride in two weeks, instead of early next week as I'd hopes. Sigh. I'd really, really like to have that all over with.

Posted by dichroic at 01:53 PM | Comments (6)

September 12, 2005

just sort of sitting here

Funny thing: I was all productive all weekend, but somehow I don't feel like doing a damn thing today. Unfortunately, I don't get the choice, on weekdays. I even cut my workout short this morning, though since in this case "short" means 13km instead of 15 km, I don't feel too guilty about that.

Thanks to those of you who responded and passed on the message in the previous post. Every once in a while I wish I had a bigger readership, for when I want to get a message like that out, but some of you who passed it on do, and at least a few people saw it from the countries who helped us.

(The only other times I wish I had more readership are to get some comforting responses on life-suckage posts, but since those tend to be job-related and so in friends-locked LJ posts for reasons of self-protection, that's a bit of a contradiction in terms. Oh, well. There aren't many of those anyway.)

Time to go be productive again, more or less. Or at least to sit here convincing myself I *shouldn't* go buy one of the many nice blazers now in stores for fall after work. Bad Dichroic. No bikkie.

Posted by dichroic at 02:02 PM

September 11, 2005

what I did

Well, I don't suppose I'd say it was a great weekend - I was adrift and Rudderless - but I suppose it was a productive one. Over the two days, I took Rudder to the airport, painted over the repairs I'd recently made to my boat, erged a half-marathon, went grocery shopping, put away all the food, did two loads of laundry, made matzo ball soup, made all of my swag for JournalCon, did a little knitting, did some desperately needed weeding in the back and front yards, did a little studying, practiced stalls and steep turns in preparation for my IFR checkride, wound 3 balls of yarn on the nostepinne I bought last week, installed a spiffy new PM3 monitor on our erg (which arrived as expected right after I finished erging 21097 meters Saturday morning), figured out why I couldn't get my iPod to play over a radio wrote two blog entries and took out the trash.

I do seem to have more time when Rudder's not here, but I like having him around anyway.

The funny thing about all of this is I recited that list to my mother, or at least the half of it I'd done by the time I talked to her yesterday evening, and she said, "That doesn't sound like all hat much. I get that much done on a weekend - well, not so much physical stuff, but I do that much." Maybe, but I'm a bit suspiscious (and I think I left a couple things out, too, when I was talking to her).

Posted by dichroic at 07:23 PM

September 08, 2005


Tagged by Swoop, sort of:

i • d • i • o • syn • cra • sy
1. A structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group.
2. A physiological or temperamental peculiarity.
3. An unusual individual reaction to food or a drug.

List five of your own idiosyncrasies and then tag five friends to do the same.

This one's easier than writing 20 things about myself, anyway, though I might eventually do that too.

1. I can't eat fat on meat - not "don't like", literally can't eat. It makes me gag. I like steak, but if you ever see me eating one there will be little cut-off edges pushed to one side of the plate. (Unless Rudder cooks the steak, in which case he generally indulges me by trimming it first.)

2. I'm a natural proofreader - can't help noticing misspellings or grammar errors in anything I read (except my own writing, which I can't edit nearly as well). That means that I can't read an badly edited story without being irretrievably distracted by the errors.

3. I like change - I tend to vacillate between long and very short hair, to want to change jobs every year or two (though it may be within a company or even a department - I just want to change what I'm doing), my wardrobe is best described as "eclectic", and I think ten years is way too long to have lived in this city.

4. I tend not to be able to find things stored above my eye level, even if they're visible. Since I'm 5'2", this leaves a lot of area. It also means I banged my head on the vent hood of Rudder's grandparents stove about three times this weekend, since it's just above the level of my eyebrows.

5. Cumulative lack of sleep makes me stupid; I tend to find myself missing basic routine steps - shaving one leg but not the other, for instance.

Posted by dichroic at 02:39 PM | Comments (3)

September 07, 2005

yesterday I bought a stick

Oh, my goodness. Go read this.(Especially you.) And then, once you're warmed up, read this, an essay on the fate of Susan in the Narnia books that will bowl you over. It's from the point of view of a brilliant, thoughtful conservative Christian. (I confess I don't string those four words together often, but they're appropriate here.)

Edited to add: Read the commentary, too.

After the adventures of the weekend, I took yesterday off to recuperate. The biggest excitement of the day was that I bought a stick. (A nostepinne, to be precise.) That's my life in a nutshell: some days I fly 800 miles in a tiny airplane, some days I buy a stick.

I'm back on schedule with the training now: 15km on the erg yesterday, 10km on the water today. I'd been sleepig in a little on the long weekend, but had to get up at 4 this morning, with the result that I woke in the middle of a dream. Sometimes the oddest thing about my dreams is not what happens in them but what happens after them. In this one, I had been introduced to a woman I liked very much, and we were going someplace on a train. She absently sang a snatch of a Richard Thompson song and, pleased that we had something in common, I sang a bit of another one to see if she'd pick up on it. (This is a perfectly normal thing to do in my world.) Her eyes widened in recognition, and we sang together, trying to top each other and remember lyrics. I woke up trying to remember the words to a song of his I liked that began, "She was seventeen..." but I kept getting sidetracked onto the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There." It wasn't until I had woken up much more thoroughly that I realized this was because Richard Thompson does not, in fact, have a song that begins with those words, at least not one I know. Pity: it was a good song. ("Beeswing", one of my favorites of his, does begin "I was nineteen when I came to town.")

Posted by dichroic at 03:38 PM | Comments (2)

September 01, 2005

the heart of Texas

Dear Texas,

I lived in Houston for 7 years, beginning of 1989 to end of 1995. I can't say I enjoyed it, but those years did have their high points, including meeting my husband. One thing I did learn is that Texas hospitality is not just a legend.

You're proving it again this week: housing 75,000 refugees from New Orleans, 25,000 each in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. Working to help refugees with Medicaid, foodstamps, and WIC. Helping place foste children and finding beds in nursing homes. Taking Louisiana's students into your schools, relaxing paperwork and immunization requirements in recognition that their paperwork is mostly now mud and most important, doling out the budget to make it real, and finding the money to buy them backpacks and school supplies.

Your companies are setting up phonebanks in the Astrodome. I hear one man is grilling ribs and burgers outside; he's issued New Orleans refugees a blanke invitation to come eat. The airport where my husband learned to fly is busy with aircraft transporting patients to your hospitals. Texas A&M's Galveston campus is finding room for 1000 displaced students, charging them the state minimum fee (if that's the normal in-state fee, it's way low). I may never tell an Aggie joke again.

Texas, I'm impressed. I'm proud of you. Your state heroes would be proud, I think. And by the way, you might want take some of New Orleans on a tour through Galveston, with special attention to how you raised the whole island after the hurricane of 1900.


Posted by dichroic at 09:04 PM | Comments (2)

yet another NOLA post

This is the best and most reasonable article I've seen on New Orleans so far. Where he has facts, he gives them; where he does math; he shows it; where he makes assumptions he lists them. This is how you analyze data and make good decisions. (The way you argue those decisions is to show either where his data are wrong or how other conclusions can be drawn from the information. But oh, his conclusions are scary.

Thanks to Bear for the link.

There are consoling bright spots (I'm particularly impressed with what Texas has been doing, and all the people taking thoeir boats in to help), but the news is much more depressing than after other major disasters I can remember: arguments over whether looters are justified, gunshots fired at aid helicopters, infighting among government agencies, stupid decisions like stopping Canadian aid at the border. My theory is that we're just more comfortable with somenoe to blame. After 9/11 or the London subway bombings, we knew who to blame, and the vast majority of bile was funnelled to the bombers instead of the victims or the government. No person set this hurricane to hit New Orleans, so instead, we turn to blaming local and Federal governments, looters, people who stayed behind, rescue organizations, and whoever else is there.

SOme actually are at fault, of course. I don't know if reinforcing levees would have allowed them to survive a Category 5 hurricane, but it would have increased the chances; figuring out how to evacuate those without cars or stocking water in the stadium you designate as a refuge for the desperate seem like good ideas. But even so, it seems like a better idea to work on fixing problems now. Cast blame later, and use even it for productive purposes like deciding who to vote for next time, or setting up better emergency plans. National sniping isn't productive, and in a desparate situation, wasted energy isn't affordable.

In other more local news, work is still frustratingly indeterminate and I'm still pissed off about it, we're still getting record high temperatures here, we're still flying to Oregon tomorrow, I'm still a bit nervous about that but looking forward to seeing Rudder's grandparents, to cooler weather there, and to time to relax between flights.

Posted by dichroic at 01:16 PM | Comments (2)

August 31, 2005

Geordie Whelps says hi!

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

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

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

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

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

New Orleans blues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by dichroic at 12:40 PM

August 30, 2005

what happened to the Audubon zoo?

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

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

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

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

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

August 25, 2005

the ugly and some good


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

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

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

There's always something, isn't there?

But even so, crap.

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

August 23, 2005

life as usual

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

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

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

Humph, I say.

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

August 19, 2005

by the numbers

I. Arrogant Bastard beer comes in really big bottles.

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

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

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

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

VI. Dammit.

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

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

IX. Dammit again.

Posted by dichroic at 08:59 PM

much spluttering involved

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

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

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

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

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

August 18, 2005

rejected but effective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What was I doing 10 years ago?

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

What was I doing 5 years ago?

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

What was I doing 1 year ago?

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

What was I doing yesterday?

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

What am I doing today?

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

Five snacks I enjoy:

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

Five bands I like:

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

Five things I would do with a million dollars:

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

Five locations I would like to run away to:

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

Five bad habits:

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

Five things I like doing:

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

Five TV shows I like:

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

Five famous people I would like to meet:

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

Biggest joys in my life at the moment:

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

Five favorite toys:

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

Five people to tag:

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

Posted by dichroic at 03:33 PM

August 11, 2005

new glasses


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

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

Posted by dichroic at 08:07 PM

BOOM. Damn. Ow.

RIP Swiss Ball / office chair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 04, 2005

rough day all around

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 02, 2005

a couple of oddities

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

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

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

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

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

August 01, 2005

harmony in the home

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 31, 2005

Sunday evening asnd all is well

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

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

Posted by dichroic at 07:37 PM

July 29, 2005

a little down

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 21, 2005

the military calls it a 'Charlie Fox'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 15, 2005

good plans

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

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

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

Yes. Good weekend plans.

Posted by dichroic at 04:42 PM

July 13, 2005

back on, finally

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

So no time for a long entry today.

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

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

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

Posted by dichroic at 03:40 PM

July 12, 2005

being chosen and that damned tact thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 11, 2005

whang on the patella

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

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

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

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

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

July 07, 2005

London calling

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 06, 2005

it came by night

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

July 05, 2005

anniversary weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 29, 2005

wardrobe maunderings

Sigh. I was trying to be good about not buying any clothes or books not absolutely necessary until we figure out whether there any of the possible-futures involving a spell of joblessness will come to pass. (For anyone not keeping up, these are good futures, involving either extended travel or a move to a new place. So don't worry. I suppose in this decade, nonintentional joblessness is also always a possibiliity, but though that chance is more likely right now than normal for both of us, given out various reorgs, I still don't think it's imminent.) Anyway, it's not like I don't have shelves and shelves full of books and closets full of clothes.

But we have this do for Rudder's grandparents this weekend, and the main affair is supposed to be fairly dressy. I was planning on wearing either a silk sleeveless shift dress, which has the additional merit of being reversible, or the very full, long raw silk black skirt I got at the RenFaire, but the shift didn't quite look dressy enough and none of the tops I tried with the skirt looked right. So tonight may involve a quick trip to Nordstrom.

Hmm. Maybe if I wear the red twin set with that skirt. The underneath part is a camisole with ribbon straps, the same ribbon trims the cardigan, and it's even got a bra built into the cami. I think that may work.

I just called my mother-in-law to check how dressy this affair is, and she told me how she'd worked with a personal shopper at Nordie's (she doesn't get to the city too often, so works with one to save time when she does) to get just the right outfit. This is one reason I enjoy talking to her much more than to the people who told me before that reunion in Houston, "Oh, it's casual, just wear anything." She understands that worrying about clothing may mean not that you're obsessive or shallow but that you want to look nice beause you care about the people you're seeing. (It could mean you're obsessive and shallow too, but I don't really do this often.) Also. I wouldn't spend time dithering over clothing if I didn't enjoy it.

I'm lookng forward to seeing all of the in-laws this weekend. Unfortunately, the ones with the little kids we haven't seen since we visited them in Korea won't be able to make it after all, but all the rest will be there. Should be fun.

Posted by dichroic at 01:47 PM | Comments (2)

June 27, 2005

imprefect present

One thing I'd nearly forgotten, in the rush to get ready for the trip for Rudder's grandparents' anniversary and all the other July travel, is that it's our anniversary on Monday. We're flying home that day, so we can go out for either a nice dinner or fireworks that evening, but I really ought to get him something. Only problem is, I have no idea what. Dang.

Posted by dichroic at 02:11 PM | Comments (1)


Re the last entry: commenter who said "I'd love to" without leaving an email or webpage? Um, yeah, not the most helpful thing ever. (Unless you're one of the ones who emailed me, in addition.

I had a long IM conversation with my brother last night - long in terms of time, anyway, which got me thinking about the medium. I'm not convinced IM is the most efficient means of conversation ever. If you want to get things said, phones are faster. If you want to get complex messages across, email is better. It's too slow to feel like real conversation, but not slow in the same convenient ways email is. Where I think it shines in in cases where for some reason you can't talk, during a class or meeting, say; to bring in different people conversing from different areas, as in a chat room; and to keep a desultory background conversation going while you do other things. But not for primary communication, in most cases. I'm likely showing my age, but I'm not sure if it's that I'm old, inflexible, and unable to adapt to this technology or that not being affected by trends, I can take a step back and look at it dispassionately. I'd prefer to think the latter.

We're still looking at the RV-travel thing, though we're also still exploring other avenues (i.e. the ones where we stay with our career path).

The logistics of the travel are a bit forbidding. One thing is that in going fulltime but for a limited period, we'd be doing it the most complicated way, almost. We'd be selling our house, but eventually coming back and buying another, so we have to put our furniture in storage instead of leaving it where it is or selling it off. And then there's the issues we'd have anyway. Phone (easy enough). Internet (not so simple). Life insurance. Health insurance. Disability insurance. Choosing the vehicles. Buying the other things we'd want - two kayaks, probably a new laptop Figuring out the minimum number of books I can stand to live with and choosing them. There would need to be some purchases there, too - a Writer's Market for writeup of the trip, a paperback dictionary so we wouldn't need the big one. Lots of maps and lists of campgrounds and such. Figuring out minimum clothing. Figuring out what we'd need to do to the house before selling it (possibly not much, in the current bubble, but the upstairs carpet is trashed). Listing the places we'd want to go (which is not a choore but a pleasure - we did some of that last night). Figuring a loose itinerary based on it. (A bit harder.)

But the hardest part of all, even harder than choosing books, would be what to do about the cats. If they were kittens, I'd give them to a pet adoption place. If they were nice mellow adult cats, I'd ask all my friends if anyone could give them a home. What they are, though, is old and crochety. And they have their claws. I can't in good conscience give them to anyone with small children, because I don't know how they (the cats) would react, and the possibilities are dire. And at 14 and 16, it's likely they'll be having health issues soon, though they've been extremely healthy so far. (I credit Science Diet.) I think between the two of them they've needed maybe two vet visits, other than for shots, yearly exams, and the exams required before taking them on the plane when we moved here. We've considered taking them - maybe adding a cat flap in the door to the 'garage' area and putting a litter box there. They hate riding in cars, but have always been in carriers. I don't know whether this would seem like a car to them. Another possibility would be seeing if Rudder's parents can take them. Or mine, but mine have made their opinion of cats clear over the years. It's a quandary.

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

June 24, 2005

on the road again, big time

This is what my July looks like:
First weekend: travel to Sacramento for Rudder's grandparents 65th anniversary.
Second weekend: Fly (as pilot) to Santa Barbara and back the next day.
Third weekend: possible trip to San Diego to get boats on their trailer to Edmonton.
Fourth week: Travel to Edmonton for World Masters Games.

I don't think I'll bother putting the suitcase away between times.

I may get a break the 3rd weekend; that trip depends on when they decide to load boats and on whether I can find an alternate method to get my Harry Potter fix. It's also possible either they won't load that weekend or I'll send Rudder without me and will stay in my chair from the time HPVI arrives until I finish it. If necessary I could probably buy it at midnight at a local store. If I don't get enough notice to cancel the one I have pre-ordered, well, I'm sure I can find a good home for my spare copy.

I did get all my photos moved over here yesterday. However, when I moved my old archives here, the script didn't handle line breaks well. So old entries have odd line-wraps and the links to photos and pages are mostly broken except in the cases where I've fixed them by hand. Also, the first three months or so didn't transfer over, for some reason. I think what I'll do is try to import the missing old entries (will probably edit the file by hand, since it's not more than 90 entries) and will gradually fix old entries with photos and links. (I can search on .jpg and http.) There are just far too many to fix them all.

Posted by dichroic at 12:40 PM | Comments (1)

June 23, 2005

housecleaning and stuff

I've actually managed to fix the issue with the story being all narration and no dialogue. I haven't gotten any farther on the plot, or figured out how much Antarctica I need, though.

Several people ahve commented on my post about writing fiction, and from some of their comments, I think I may have been unclear. The reason I don't do it much is not just because I'm not good at it; it's that I have no real drive to do it the way I think some of you do. I don't have characters coming to me and asking to see the light of day. It's very rare for a plot to come to me and want to be written; if I spend time trying to think of some I can grind out a few. Maybe one will taken wing to the extent that writing it is fun, or maybe not. It doesn't feel like my metier.

It doesn't feel awful or painful, either, and sometimes it's kind of fun, and sometimes it's satisfying, and sometimes I want to do it, because the alternative is to do something less fun. Rather like housecleaning. Braincleaning, maybe. When I've talked about what parts are hard for me to do, it's not meant as a complaint, but as a data point. I'm actually finding it fascinating as a matter of cognitive science to see what aspects come easily and what things are hard, especially as I've read the journals or books on writing from enough writers to suspect that at least some of the issues are different for them. I haven't yet figured whether it's just that each person has native strengths and weaknesses, or if fiction writers as a class have a different knack. Maybe there's a thesis in there for someone; it's an interesting question. I love learning about learning - metalearning, I guess.

Meanwhile, while things are slow, it's occurred to me that this is a good time to do some other housekeeping I've been putting off: downloading all the images on my old Diaryland site so I can stop paying for GOld membership, moving them here, and changing all the links to point to where they should go. (Fortunately, I think I can do a search-and-replace operation for that last part.) After that, I may migrate from MovableType to WordPress; the Outlaw site uses WordPress and it's been generally well-behaved, though I haven't entirely figured out all the template stuff. Setting up a new blog on WP was incredibly easy; I suspect migrating is a little trickier and riskier, though my host does have some tools to help.

Anyway, just a warning: if this site goes down in the next few days, that will be why.

Posted by dichroic at 12:01 PM

June 22, 2005

what happens when

F*ing cafeteria is out of F*ing Gatorade. I nearly cried. (There was a little sign saying how much it would have cost if they'd had any. I found that less than helpful.)

Rowing 9500 meters (including some interval pieces) in 90+ degree weather has made me demonstrably stupider. (I turned onto the wrong street on the way to work. Quod erat demonstrandum.) Stupid and emotional, not a pretty combination.

Oh yeah, this is what happens when I row hard. I had forgotten.

Somehow listening to the Charlie Daniels Band singing The Devil Down to Georgia seemed like the appropriate thing to do, though I can't say it helped any. Apparently when I'm stupid and emotional I want to listen to country music. Not sure if that says anything about either me or it.

By now, I'm more or less coherent and able to take the stairs at something better than an arthritic crawl. (I'm currently listening to the score from 1776. Back to my roots.) I've been immensely enjoying a discussion in her comments with RJ Anderson on matters of religion. One part of that enjoyment is because it's weaving in so nicely with what I've been reading in The Jew in the Lotus, and another major part is the articulate RJA herself. What a pleasure to debate with someone who disagrees with me on the postulates in question but who is civil, knowledgeable, and logical. I've had arguments with too many proselytizing Christians who claimed to believe every word of the Bible but who knew less of their own New Testament and history than I do, not to appreciate one who doesn't proselytize but simply sets out her own beliefs, and who knows not only her own history and theology but some of mine as well. Educational.

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

June 21, 2005

filling time with fiction

Would the person who's been Googling Dichroic Reflections along with my full name please leave a comment to tell me who you are? Then we can figure out if I'm the one you're looking for; there are at least four of us in the US with this same first and last name. Thank you.

I have been extremely bored lately, for large parts of my day. One result of this, in me at least, tends to be that I'm driven into creativity. Apparently I'm too lazy to create things unless I have nothing else to do. (Or multitasking - I knit because it's something I can do while reading.) Since I owuld be conspicuous taking knitting with me everywhere, I've been venturing into new territory and trying to write fiction. It's something I can do inconspicuously anywhere I have a pen and paper or computer. Or even without, if it's just a matter of thinking up plot ideas.

I say "just" but the truth is that figuring out what should happen is the hardest part for me and is the main reason I've never really been a fiction writer. One thing I've noticed, though, in recent years is the number of books, even great books, which really have no plot in the classic sense of a story with crisis, climax, and denouement. Tristram Shandy is probably too weird to be a good example, but, for instance, what happens in Little Women, other than that the characters live grow up? (Or don't in Beth's case.) The same could be said of Tom Sawyer, but in that case the book is really a string of episodes with a different plot in each section - the whitewashing, the raft episode, Injun Joe and the cave. On the other hand, I'm not quite bored enough to want to write a whole novel, and short stories do tend to have something resembling a plot - a small one at least - with some sort of problem that is solved. One way to avoid that is to write something that's not a story but just a vignette, a peek into a window, as I did here, but really, that's cheating a bit.

Next, there comes the technical challenge of assembling the story. I can write grammatically, and if not well at least fluently, and in different voices to some extent. Those things could definitely be improved, but at least my prose isn't going to cause the casual reader actual pain on the first glance. But it is interesting to realize what else there is to writing a story that I simply don't know. The thing is, though I'm only a so-so fiction writer, I am a very good reader. This means that I can often see what's wrong, but have no idea how to fix it. For example, I can write conversation, I can write description, and I can write narration, but I have no real idea who to balance them and move between them. (That's exactly why the Una story is almost all dialogue, with one long chunk of description cribbed from -- well, heavily influenced by -- Montgomery at the beginning.)

The current story is in omniscient third person, and the heroine is said to have done this and that and even thought this and that, but she never actually talks to anyone. Mark Helprin did write a story like that, but I think I need to assume that's because he knew what he was doing, and I don't. Also, the point of his story is that his hero really is very isolated and hardly talks to anyone. Mine is hanging out with her friends, and presumably chatting to them. I think the solution may be to introduce another character or three, sketchy ones, just so that she can be talking to them and telling her own story. Another way would be one L.M. Montgomery used, in which the character addressed various remarks off into the ether, to herself or no one, but that seems artificial. (Even though I've been known to do it myself.)

And then there's the problem of how much. I suspect this is an authorial problem in general, not one that's specific to me while I don't know what I'm doing. For example: This is a short story. In the middle of it, the heroine needs to go off to Antarctica. (Actually, she just needs to go somewhere remote, with wide spaces, and unlike home, but since I've been to Antarctica and can describe it, that's where she goes.) So she could go there and back in one line, and I could just spend some time discussing what she thought over while she was there, or I could talk about where she went and what she saw and how long it took, or I could talk about how she got there and the people that she met, her opinions of Buenos Aires and Ushuaia on the way and how she found penguins enchanting and seals dead boring. The trip could be anything from a paragraph to pages and pages, and the trick is to figure out what is actually necessary to the story.

And then there's the fine-tuning, making sure that every sentence is necessary (I can't really get it down to the word level now) and that the voice speaking is never out of character. That I know for sure is something all authors have to work on, though clearly they're skills that can be honed to work better and faster.

There's definitely an unevenness in quality between different stories, too; for instance the current one isn't nearly as good as Una's story. I don't knwo whather that stems from the compellingness of the original idea, the characterization, or the execution.

Also, there are some daily-life issues. It turns out that I can get pretty far back inside my head while figuring out a character or story point, which is not always a good thing while driving or in a meeting, about like being unconscious real world while reading a very good book.

I'm still bored - for one thing I can't think of enough plots to keep myself entertained - but at least I'm learning some of the dimensions of what I don't know.

Posted by dichroic at 02:26 PM | Comments (3)

June 16, 2005

whatever was wrong, isn't anymore

I do feel a little better today - did a slightly light routine in the gym this morning. And I figured out why my tonsils are probably sore and swollen due to our high pollution levels - there's been an alert yesterday and today. So that's good.

Posted by dichroic at 01:57 PM

June 15, 2005

an audacious idea

No beef last night. I was still a little on the low-energy side this morning, having again slept like a dead thing, but was able to manage 4k, on the erg with slightly less frequent stops. I've also gained about 4lbs since the weekend, so I'm beginning to wonder if it's a thyroid thing after all, or what. I've got an unexplanied sore spot on my neck, too, but probably not in the right place.I think I'll give it until after next weekend and see if anything's changed. It probably will, but if not I'll go see a doctor.

I'm beginning to like the Madeleine and Pooh cartoons shown at 5AM on the Disney Playhouse, for erging purposes. I especially like the way all the Madeleine characters will exclaim something in French and then repeat it in English - that way it's still clear but they don't have to dumb it down to far. Also, all the narrator's lines are in rhyme, in the meter Bemelman originally used:

In an old house in Paris, all covered in vines, Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. The smallest one was Madeleine.

Because really, how could I not like a story in which the smallest girl got to be the heroine?

I've been cleared to mention here that with changes going on in both our companies, if the worst happens to both of us (or the best , depending on your viewpoint) Rudder and I are playing with an idea we've been talking about for years: take to the road for six months or a year, in an RV with space in back for bikes, windsurfers, kayaks, and whatever. We spent Sunday afternoon going around looking at RVs to see the costs and possibilities. It looks like this would actually be financially feasible, given what's going on with real estate prices in our area. Of course, it's a giant leap of faith, making the assumptions that we could stand each other for that long a time in that small a space and that we could get back to work fairly quickly after we were ready to leave the road, and the logistics are very complicated. And most likely, we'll just stay with our jobs and ride out the waves. Still, what an adventure!

Not the least of the logistics is figuring out how few books I could get by with, for a year or whatever. We'd occasionally swing by wherever our stuff was stored, so I could rotate the stock then, but it wouldn't be frequent, and without much money or space, I wouldn't be able to buy new books. Thank goodness I'm a rereader; that makes it far easier.

Another issue is how to get mobile internet access; I'm sure this is a solved problem, but I just don't know the answer. One way would be to get a wireless internet card in a laptop and just take it to wireless access zones, but I'd like something at "home" as well. I'm sure there's a satellite method of some kind.

Another nontrivial issue is what Rudder will do when we're not sightseeing or doing something active and we're stuck indoors. As he pointed out, he does't really have any sedentary hobbies other than watching TV, which he mostly does only when he's pinned down by the need to eat. I'd love to get a book, or a column (hello, Outside?) or both out of the adventure, so that's one thing we could work on together.

And then there's the issues of how much stuff we need / can do without, how much it all would cost, health insurance, and such. And right now it's only a contingency plan, not a real one. We do have careers to worry about. Still, it's a lot of fun to think about and plan, sort of like the "if I won the lottery" game. If anyone reading this has done such a thing or knows someone who has (and who has actively traveled, not just pulled up a trailer somewhere and parked) I'd love to get in contact.

And if it really does happen? Then you'll hear lots about it. I'll be checking with everyone I know to find people and places to visit.

Posted by dichroic at 02:09 PM | Comments (6)

June 14, 2005

woolly headed

First, the calming things meme. Tagged by Taelle.

Things you enjoy, even when no one around you wants to go out and play. What lowers your stress/blood pressure/anxiety level? Make a list, post it to your journal... and then tag 5 friends and ask them to post it to theirs.

1. Reading. Actually, if it's to calm down, then it's more likely I'll be rereading.
2. Pedicures. The end result is nice but it's the process I enjoy..
3. Massage. Either by Rudder or by a professional. The latter last longer and are technically better, while the former convey love as well as feeling good. Both kinds are wonderful.
4. Hot showers. I don't tend to take one unless either I feel dirty or it's first thing in the morning - I mean, I don't think "I need to calm down, I'll go take a shower." But they do have that effect. Emma Bull wrote something along the lines of "A quantity of hot water poured over the head is a sovereign rememdy for most ills."
5. Rowing, but only if I remember to take the effort to clear out my mind and concentrate on what I'm doing, instead of what I need to do better or do next.

I am a total hypocrite about these memes, because I like being tagged but don't like tagging others for fear of being a nuisance. Also, I think most people I read have done this one. But if you haven't and you want to, please take yourself as tagged.

I'm still feeling unenergetic and woolly-headed, especially first thing in the morning. I stayed home and took it easy yesterday, and skipped working out this morning, but it didn't seem to help. I've been feeling this way since sometime Saturday, I think, and it kicked in fully while I was at the gym Sunday. I'd do two reps and my body would sort of coast to a stop, without my really planning to. Same thing on the erg yesterday morning - I did 2km in over 14 minutes, and that's only the time the erg counted - it pauses the timer when you stop moving. (Rudder's comment was, "I didn't know you could row so slow.") I've been getting enough sleep, food, and water, so that's not it - I was beginning to wonder this morning if it could be some sort of thyroid thing, but that probably wouldn't hit so abruptly. One unusual thing is that I've had beef for dinner each of the last three nights (homemade tacos, brisket, then burritos from Chipotle). I do know that my body seems to have a harder time digesting beef - I surmise it's too much protein at once, but don't really know. So I wonder if that could be it; I'll avoid it for the next few days and see what happens.

It's supposed to hit 107 here today and our unusually cool temperatures (only in the 90s until the last few days) are probably gone until fall. I wish the weather reporters weren't so damned chipper when they tell us that.

Assorted TMI below the cut tag.

I've never really noticed the reported effects of eating asparagus, but I sure can tell when I've had coffee.

Another sign of aging: my days of roaming free, mammarywise, seem to be over. I realized it yesterday - after I decide to stay home and rest, I changed to a halter top without underpinnings, and by afternoon was noticing an ache in an odd place (not quite where I'd have expected for that cause, though I'm not sure what I did expect). I'd done a pretty heavy workout the day before so that could have been it, so I'm testing today by wearing decent-for-work but not terribly supportive underpinnings, and noticing the same thing. Damn. Still no sag, courtesy of being fairly flattish for so long, but I think if I want to stay that way, I'd best start wearing underwires and other constructed garments more often. Damn damn damn. And I proabably need to take that into consideration when figuring out how far to taper the top of the tank top I'm knitting. I wasn't planning to worry about hiding straps - I don't care if they show a little, but they look stupid if they're in an entirely different line.

I'm going to try to spend less and save more for a while - no new clothes or books. I do need some cosmetics and toiletries, and I won't change to cheaper brands at the moment, but I'm just going to replace the things I use every day. Both of our companies are in flux, and the better our financial situation, the more freedom we have to explore different options if necessary. I'm a little too superstitious to say more now though, for fear of Murphy butting in. his ugly head.

Posted by dichroic at 01:19 PM | Comments (1)

June 10, 2005

tired and a little needy. also impressed.

I didn't row Wednesday due to lack of sleep (Rudder woke up with an unsettled stomach, and when he's up, I'm up, because I sleep too lightly to be a asleep in a room with someone who's awake. He felt better by morning but we were both a little short on sleep. You didn't need to know any of this.) so I did today. (Yesterday morning I went flying before work, to get ready for a stage check - practice checkride - that's supposedly going to happen this weekend.)

So anyway. Short-interval workouts are insidious. 30 seconds on, 90 seconds off, with the "on" being at race pace or actually a bit higher, more like the all-out effort I'd use for a racing start or a power 10, and the "off" at a paddle. Eighteen of those, plus about 3500 meters etady state to start and maybe another 500 at the end, and I'm beat. I'd like nothing so much right now and to go home and take a nap. Or just close the door and crawl under my desk.

It's a little annoying that the place we fly out of hasn't scheduled either my stage check for this weekend or Rudder's flight in a Cirrus, whose company reps are bringing one in for people to try, considering that it's now Friday and thus the weekend is TOMORROW. Perhaps they haven't noticed.
(While I was typing that someone called me and told me they have Rudder scheduled in the Cirrus for 8AM tomorrow. Wonder when they were going to tell us? Still no word on the stage check, though.)

So that's today. Back to yesterday-matters. First, if you haven't read the fanfic story I posted yesterday, scroll down and read it. I'll wait. (Unless of course you've never read L.M. Montgomery's Rilla of Ingleside, in which case don't bother. It's not a standalone sort of story.)

Back? Good. Tell if you like it. If you don't, tell me why not. I don't intend to make a practice of this, but I didn't really intend to write this one either, so in case it happens again, I should learn what I can from this. I have gotten some nice comments from people whose opinions I respect (and one sort of confusing one) but it's kind of bugging me that none of the people in the group I actually wrote it for have commented. (One exception, but she beta'd it for me, and she's too nice not to comment on the finished version after I asked for her help earlier.) There is no reason on earth this should be bothering me; I sid it was a gift for the list, and once you've given something you can't attach strings to it. Also, as I keep reminding myself, not everyone reads their email every day.

Also also, it's just a little fanfic: I took some care with it, but it's not really a serious effort. It's short and simple. I wrote it in a couple of days and didn't take as much effort as I would have if it were to be published somewhere other than my own site or maybe a fanfic hive where it will sink unnoticed and rarely read among a horde of other stories, many with the sort of grammar that discourages reading past the first paragraph. (Note: I'm taking about this one story only. I have read and enjoyed fanfics that were very well-written carefully crafted stories that undoubtedly took loads of time and effort. This wasn't one of those. I know because I was there.)

But this has given me a small insight into what it must be like to have written a book. Magnify my feelings a thousandfold and I can glimpse what it must be like to send your craft, your oeuvre which you've labored for years to built, then polish and make water-tight, out onto the wide oceans, and then wait for news of it, for people to tell you they've seen it and it's afloat, trim and trig and on course. Or before that, when you're sending out the manuscript to only a few people, but a few whose opinion matters, because if they like it they will publish it and then it can venture out into the wider world. Very scary. It makes me think authors must be stern and resolute people, with strong stomachs. (I can think of a few who might laugh to think of themselves in that light. Unless you can honestly say you really do write for yourself and not for the world's opinion, at all at all, t's probably best to just go around the corner and laugh quietly to yourself. Let me keep being impressed and take the compliment as it's given.)

Posted by dichroic at 01:13 PM | Comments (4)

June 03, 2005

a feelig of unnameable dread

Two observations:

I. I'm not really all that good at enjoying things while they're happening, though I try. I do better with anticipation and memory.

II. We're in the middle of a corporate reorg at work (I can write that because it's been officially announced in the news and everything). We won't know what's happening down at my level for at least another week or three. It's really not helping that I'm being earwormed by "The Sword of Damocles" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Posted by dichroic at 05:13 PM | Comments (1)

adjusting attitude and altitude

Today's features: a short story, some dithering, and some musing. I'll tell the story first, because it's inspiring.

I've been hearing stories for a few years of how colleges are so desperate to meet their Title IX requirements that they've been giving rowing scholarships to tall athletic girls even if they haven't rowed before. I hadn't seen any concrete examples until now, but I met one this morning.

The college who gets this girl will be happy with their bargain, though. She'd been burned out on her other sports and is looking forward to trying rowing, but she's never done it before (she did visit a practice at the school she'll be attending). This is the only city in this state with any rowing at all (well, one new junior program is just starting in another town). So she got in touch with someone here, arranged for a private lesson, and drove three hours to get here. She'll be coming to town on weekends to take lessons the rest of this summer. I was impressed - I haven't seen that kind of initiative even from most masters rowers. With that committment, I'm sure she'll do well.

And I checked - the coach at her prospective college didn't tell her to do this.

The dithering: I am not, as may be obvious from yesterday's entry, enthusiastic about tomorrow's flight to San Diego. In fact, I've been very nervous. This morning I went rowing, did a hundred meters, and thought, "OK, if I'm doing 10,000 meters today, that's 1/100th down, only 99 more like that to go. I can do this."

Now, I do tend to do fractions like that to keep myself going, and it's OK to do it sometimes - to think, "OK, I'm starting the middle third of the practice now," or, "Last half, it's all downhill from here." I count off hundred-meter bits to get through the end of practice, too, sometimes to the tune of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" or "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain", with improvised lyrics. (In my head, not out loud.) That's all fine. But to start a row counting it off as one more series of ordeals to get through, especially at a time when I'm rowing for pleasure and maintenance, not intense training, is a bad thing. It makes rowing one more stressor, and in me, it's a sign that I'm pretty stressed out already. Of course, tomorrow's flight is the main thing hanging over me right now.

So I sat up straighter, tried to row more smoothly, and tried to appreciate the milky reflection of the sky right before the sun rose, the way the sun seemed to pop up all at once, the motion of my boat, the feel of the horizontal lines I was pulling, and so on. And I'm trying to convince myself that tomorrow's flight will be an adventure, a fun challenge, and even a little bit miraculous, that I can fy a tiny airplane all the way from the desert to the ocean. It hasn't entirely sunk in yet, but I'm working on it. (It will help if Rudder can keep from nagging, "Have you considered this? What about that?" Having another pilot in the house is not always as helpful as you'd think, especially when I'm better off not dwelling on this more than enough to get everything ready.)

The Musing
Sometimes you see a face that seems to belong to another period - it's not clear if it's a matter of expression or what, though I don't know why faces ought to change by decade. Connie Willis, in To Say Nothing of the Dog has Ned initially thinking that Verity must be a Victorian contemp because of her perfect Waterhouse face; I once knew a woman who always seemed like she ought to be wearing 1940s outfits. I can't say what the changes stem from, or even if they're real. Some of it is probably hairstyle, too.

But bodies really have changed over time. If you look at a random group of people today, you'll see a few really fat ones, a majority who ranging from a little to a lot puffy around the gut or the hips, and a few hardbodies who obviously spend a lot of time in the gym. There will be only a few people who are somewhere in the middle, without either extra fat or bulging muscles, and maybe a couple of skinny ones. If it's a young group, there will be a few more in the middle group, and several who have that stretched exaggerated leanness of adolescence, but there will still be quite a few carrying extra weight.

Now go look at an old group photo - here are some from the building of Hoover Dam and here are a bunch of WWII bomber crew photos. It's easier to see in men, because there are just more group ohotos of them, and because they're likely to be wearing more form-fitting clothes. It would be easier still to see in a photo where some of the men are shirtless, and I have seen some like that, but not online. What you see in those is very, very few overweight people - but notice also that none of them look like gym rats. You rarely see bulging biceps or pecs, or carved washboard abs in old photos. What you see are barrel chests on some guys, and long stringy - but obviously strong - muscles on others. (The military guys may be a special case, because they're young and in military training, but remember this is just after the Depression. Some of those guys were eating better than they had at home. And some were flying missions nearly every day, which doesn't leave a lot of time for jogging or lifting weights.) I think there are two factors involved: fast food hadn't been invented yet, and peope got their muscles not by working out, but by plain working.

There is one place you do see the older physiques still, though: in athletes. I don't mean Olympic athletes, so much: for those people, working out is a full time job and they do have the carved washboard abs - though even there, only the weightlifters have large bulging arms. Other athletes' muscles are defined, but compact, because they can't afford any wasted weight. But think of the athletes you know: soccer-playing women, surfers, people who play Ultimate Frisbee twice a week. Think even of some of the pro sports: baseball players don't tend to be bulgy (or when they do, steroid rumors arise). Most basketball players have muscles, but they're not huge. Weight lifters do get huge, because they're building muscle for one quick all-out effort, and have no penalty for carrying excess around. Body builders look good, of course, but they just look fake to me, especially the ones with the dark even tans that you know come from a bottle or a tanning bed. Maybe it's the engineer in me, but I do like the idea of a body built more for use than for show.

(Now if I could just get rid of a little of that useless flab....)

Posted by dichroic at 12:37 PM

May 31, 2005

still pretty happy about the sweater

My fortune cookie from lunch says, "Consolidate your interests while the lights are active." ?????

They're putting together a care package for a guy from work who is in the National Guard, serving in Iraq. I've never met him; he was called up before I started in this job. I've asked others about him, and if I can get to a bookstore in time, I will buy a book I think he'd like. ("Freakanomics", because they say he's very intelligent, argumentive, and political; I figure he'll like it whether or not he agrees with the book's arguments.) Meanwhile, I've put in a box of maxipads and one of tampons (in plain paper bags) with a note asking them to pass them on to some of the women in his unit. I keep hearing that there are shortages of such things over there, and that strikes me as an appaling way to treat women you've asked to put themselves in harm's way.

Speaking of the war, last week I was very excited by the news that moderates of both parties came together to broker deals first in relation to filibusters and next to agree on stem cell research. I get so frustrated with party-line politics, and was pleased with the recognition that one does not necessarily have to disagree on everything with members of the other party. However, the thing that annoyed me was the right-wing argument that "some people believe that stem-cell research is immoral so they shouldn't have to see their tax dollars used for it." Funny thing, there: some people believe that the war is immoral, yet I don't see those same senators heaving any trouble with applying their tax dollars to it. How come?

Posted by dichroic at 02:20 PM

May 25, 2005

awards and anticipation

Awarded Most Egregious Phone-spam: It rang on my work phone, the caller ID showed up as 999-999-9999, and when I picked it up, an automated vaoice said, "Please hold for the next available representative." Not bloody likely.

Awarded Worst Hold Music: The maker of our boats uses automotive paint. We chose our exact colors by looking around car lots and then telling him the make and color name we wanted. When I called a local car dealer to find out idf they had touch-up paint in the color I need, they guy put me on hold while he went to look. The hold music was a song about the dealership. Ick.

I think I need a new trip to plan for. What I would like to do for our 40th birthdays is to take a trip we've talked about for a long time, where we'd take a year off, buy a horse trailer (so we could have living quarters up front, kayaks and bikes and boxes of books in the back) and travel around the country. For that to happen, though I need to start saving, uh, a while back. It would probably still be doable if we started right now, but there are two problems with that, for me: the IFR training, and the fact that I'd somehow have to convince myself to go into squirrel-hoarding mode, a thing which I've only done successfully when we were planning our wedding. Even that was easier because I got to buy and pay for things along the way (e.g. a dress) instead of saving one huge sum. Another problem would be holding Rudder to the at least theoretically affordable horse trailer. He dreams big. His fancy tends to run to a specially-designed Mega-Mover that would allow us to take our rowing shells along as well.

Failing that, I'd happily take a week in Italy or Scandinavia to celebrate the milestone birthdays. But I would like to have something big and exciting to plan for and anticipate.

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

May 24, 2005

family memory

There were some good things about this weekend's non-adventure. For one thing, I took along a sleeveless sweater I had started last fall and had abandoned in order to focus on gifts and then other projects. I've recently gotten back to it and had completed about half the first side when we left. I finished the first ball of yarn on Thursday's drive (this is why it was a good thing we turned back to get more yarn) and by the end of the trip had finished that side and gotten nearly halfway through the other. Now I have confidence that I can finish this, which is always a nice thing.

I think I may do another sleeveless sweater next. Given the combination of hot climate and (sometimes over-)air-conditioned office, I wear them a lot. I'd like to do the next one in the round; I haven't seen any patterns for sleeveless sweaters done that way, so I may either adapt a pattern from the Yarn Girls' book or make a top-down raglan and stop with cap sleeves instead of continuing the sleeves on down. I think that would look good in a rustic slubby sort of yarn. (Or if anyone has a pattern to recommend....)

Even better was the time we got to spend with Rudder's grandparents. His grandmother has some fairly severe Alzheimers or similar memory loss (I think they said it wasn't Alzheimers but the practical result is the same), and has been getting worse fairly rapidly in the last couple of years. It was good to spend time with her before it gets worse, and good to give Rudder's grandfather a break where he could get out, talk to other people, and have someone to help watch and talk to her.

She's still able to reason, though her memory is pretty far gone, which means that she has no idea (I don't think) who we are but is able to figure out that we must be family. On Friday evening, she walked into the bedroom when she wanted to get a glass of water, and had to be directed to go to the fridge instead. I couldn't tell whether she recognized the restaurant we ate in, though it's been in Sacramento as long as they've lived there and they used to eat there when they lived in the neighborhood (this would have been the 1970s and possibly the 60s). Several times she got into the back instead of the front seat of their car. At one point she called Rudder by his uncle's name (her son's) which seems like a good guess, though it's also not clear if she normally remembers names. The most interesting thing, from a cognitive perspective, is that her personality is still the same, despite the memory loss. She talks a lot less, but when she does, she still likes to be dogmatic and forceful as ever. She just lacks specific nouns. So she'll make statements like, "What you need to do, is to do that and then the other thing," or will finish statements with gestures, like miming eating while we were talking about Rudder and his grandfather bringing back the food. It was fascinating, and in some ways a little less sad than it would otherwise have been because she so clearly is still the same person she was. Of course, this is much easier on me, who met her as an adult, than it is on Rudder's mother and her sibs, and I expect the family gathering this summer will be both sad and happy. Rudder and I will probably be the ones playing with the little kids and telling stories to the not-so-littles. Some of those stories will definitely be about the grandparents, since I think only the oldest of the next generation will have any memory of their grandmother as she was, and the youngest of the grandchildren (now in college or recently graduated) didn't get to see those grandparents all that often.

Posted by dichroic at 01:45 PM | Comments (3)

May 23, 2005

the full story

We left work early Thursday afternoon. I picked the Antkeeper (she's a grad student studying social insects like ants and bees) up on my way home, feeling all proud that I'd remembered to drive the pickup that morning (since the Mozzie car would not have fit both her and her bags). We grabbed some sandwiches for the road and went to my house where Rudder had the Hummer almost fully loaded. The Antkeeper and Rudder had loaded the boats on tpop the day before. We were on the road out of town by 2:30, turning around only once - before we got out of our subdivision - when I realized I'd forgotten an extra ball of yarn. This turned out to be a good decision.

We talked and listened to music on the drive from Phoenix to and through LA, stopping as usual in Frasier Park, just on the north end of the Grapevine. The three of us shared a room that night - piling people into hotel rooms is par for the course on a rowing trip. Rudder and I didn't sleep especially well, probably because of the small bed, but we were up and on the road again by 8.
A couple of hours into the drive, my cell phone rang. It was She-Hulk, calling with bad news. The CSUS Aquatic Center, organizer of the regatta, had called to say the race had been canceled: floods had swept away the race course. I plunged into a flurry of phone calls, to CSUS, to our answering machine, to the race organizer contact, interspersed with fervent thanks for the invention of cell phones and was able to confirm the cancelation report.

We pulled into a gas station to confer. Since Sacramento was by now only about four or five hours away, and since the Antkeeper had a friend and Rudder has grandparents in town, we decided to continue on. We debated on whether to return a day early. Rudder and I decided to stay until Sunday, while after a few more calls, the Antkeeper decided to hang out with her friend that night and return home the next day Coach DI, who had driven the boat trailer up and had arrived before the decision was made to cancel.

Apparently, water had been released from the dam and the course had been washed out only the night before, which is why the race had been canceled with such short notice. Some rowers were already on a plane by then, some decided to go anyway since their tickets were paid for, and some decided to stay home. She-Hulk was among those deciding to stay home; fortunately we were able to cancel her hotel room (which Rudder had booked, and which she and the Antkeeper were going to share) for both nights. The Antkeeper stayed with Coach DI and another woman, since she'd be riding out with them.

That afternoon when we got to Sacramento, we unloaded the boats so as not to have to drive around with them, then headed out to the west side of town where both the Antkeeper's friend and Rudder's grandparents live. We spent an hour with the grandparents, got the Antkeeper hooked up with her friend, and headed back to the east side of town to meet another rower and his family for dinner. It turns out that a two-year-old is of great amusement value when you have a long wait at a restaurant. We enjoyed hanging out with both him and his parents; he's a fairly placid kid, a little shy with strangers, and easy to amuse. Toward the end of dinner, he and I were dancing (me sitting down, him standing on the bench on the other side of the table) and he was just having a ball. His parents have tried to bring him up to be easy to travel with and self-sufficient as two-year-olds go, but I also think he's just naturally a happy little kid.

It turned out that the hotel did have internet access, with some finagling (they had a kit to split from the the TV cable) and Rudder had brought my old laptop for the purpose of downloading race data from the boat computer, so I was able to get online to tell another diarist (who usually doesn't post about what city she lives in, so I won't name her) not to come out to the regatta, as she'd been thinking of doing. Unfortunately, that wasn't until night and she didn't check email so had to find out the hard way. Too bad, because I'd looked forward to meeting her.

On Saturday Rudder and I and his grandparents toured Fort Sutter and then went to the McLelland Field aviation "museum" - actually an outdoor display of static planes but quite a few were open, with volunteers to explain them. We fortuitously ended up having lunch at a restaurant the grandparents used to frequent years ago when they lived in that part of town. I would have liked to see the Governor's Mansion, but we'll be back in July to celebrate the grandparents' 65th anniversary with all of Rudder's aunts and uncles and cousins, so maybe then.

After that, we loaded the boats back on, then had dinner at a brewpub where we'd eaten after last year's regatta (after a lot of discussion about which exit it was on). The people who had chosen that place the previous year had done so because there was room to park with boats on top, so we knew that would be OK.

And yesterday we drove home, all 12 hours of it, with only one small spat to mar the trip (my not-so-faithful navigator was sleeping when he should have been guiding me though the tangles of LA, then wouldn't admit he'd been asleep). Other than that, it was a good trip, though not entirely the one we'd meant to take.

Posted by dichroic at 03:59 PM | Comments (2)

May 16, 2005

damned dog. or rather, damned human.

We may have to call the cops on a neighbor tonight. Someone down the block has gotten a new dog that barks ALL NIGHT LONG, and has for the last several nights. It's not that close, but it's just loud enough to be annoying. Last night it even kept Rudder awake, and he's been known to sleep through ringing phones. I'd have called last night, except I'm not sure which house the dog lives in. Then again, I suppose a police officer could easily have figured it out by listening.

I suppose I could go over and ask them to bring the dog in, but by the time it bothers me, I've usually gone to sleep and woken up again and am not inclined to get out of bed and go bang on a stranger's door. Last night the barking stopped at about 3AM, but I'd much rather not have been awake to know that!

Tonight, right before bed I'm going to walk down the block or on the bike path behind us and try to figure out which house it is, then take the cops' phone number to bed with me in case it doesn't stop at a reasonable hour. (Why would it? It hasn't for the last few days.) What I don't understand is, why can' dogs bark all night? I mean, physically. I'd be hoarse if I yelled for half an hour. Even my cats go hoarse after too much yowling. Why don't dogs have some sort of physical limits?

P.S. I use the term "neighborhood" loosely. What this is, is a subdivision. We say hi to the people on either side of us and wave at a few others when driving by, but otherwise we don't know the people on our street at all, and we've lived here nearly eight years. What I grew up in was a neighborhood, where on summer nights you sat on the steps and talked to the neighbors. If I lived in an actual neighborhood, I'd know who had gotten a dog and I'd know the people and could go over and ask them nicely not to let it outside to bark all freakin' night. (Ahem. Nicely, I said. It might have taken a little practice beforehand.) On the other hand, if the people who had the dog knew their neighbors, maybe they'd be a little less inclined to keep them awake all night.

Posted by dichroic at 02:18 PM | Comments (4)

May 13, 2005


There are thousands of tiny divorces going on all over my head. I'm not talking about my marriage; I'm talking about my dad-blasted split ends. They are both infuriating and addictive to break. Of course, it would probably be better if I either left them alone or used scissors instead of just pulling them apart at the break.... but they make such a satisfying pop when they break.

Meanwhile it's 4:13 on Friday the 13th, and I could leave now except that I need to meet people at the boatyard at 5:30 and it's only 10 minutes from here and there is no point in being there early so there's no point in leaving work early. Except of course there always is.

Posted by dichroic at 05:15 PM | Comments (1)

May 06, 2005


Rudder and I had the whole lake to ourselves this morning. No other rowers or coaches were out to see the sunrise over the water. You'd think it would be romantic .... if we hadn't been rowing in separate singles, generally at opposite ends of the lake!

Posted by dichroic at 09:58 AM

May 04, 2005

looking ahead

I operate best when I have things to look forward to, so this list is for my own reference. Now that my Houston reunion is over, upcoming events include:

  • the Gold Rush regatta in Sacramento, Saturday 5/12, and the drive there and back with Rudder.
  • a work holiday on Memorial Day, 5/30.
  • another trip to Sacramento on July 4 week, this time to celebrate Rudder's grandparents' 65th anniversary. (And our 12th.)
  • the release of Harry Potter Book 6, not to mention Johnny Depp's turn as the Willy Wonka, July 16.
  • A trip to Edmonton for the World Masters Games, end of July.

And, one hopes, plenty of smaller or unplanned pleasures sprinkled in there - otherwise June would be a desolate month! Tonight, for example, there will be rereading of the second of the Sarah Kelling books I bought in Houston, probably followed (some other night) by the Peter Shandy book I also bought, and then a return to Joseph Ellis's bio of George Washington. One of the things I love about books is that they're always there when you want them.

Posted by dichroic at 12:58 PM | Comments (5)

May 02, 2005

after a decade away

I'd say the weekend in Houston was a success. The beginning was a little rocky, in that I finally managed to find what seemed like the very last parking space in the airport's humongous East Economy lot and then got to wait forever for Southwest Egg Rolls to go at the airport Chili's. Fortunately I had allowed enough time for parking and had checked in online, and the egg rolls were actually fairly tasty. In compensation, the flight to Houston was blissfully empty and I actually got a whole row of three seats to myself, so I was able to lie fetally and doze a bit. That was also fortunate, because I got to the hotel after midnight (only having gotten a little lost: I got off the freeway at the right place but couldn't quite figure out how to get from the feeder road - Houston has feeders alongside all freeways - onto the street, so I took the long way around).

I wanted to get to the boathouse before 7. I'd been in contact with their scheduling person and had been told I probably couldn't get into a boat (they have a regatta next weekend) but still wanted to go say hello to any oldtimers around. As it turned out, no one got to row that day; the wind was high and there were whitecaps washing over the deck. I spent some time talking to rowers new since my day and peeking around the boathouse, and then got to talk to a couple of old friends. They didn't know I was coming, but both recognized me right away, and they haven't changed much either. (Their daughter, who I knew from when she was remarkably untemperamental six-year-old, is now a junior in college.) I've had dinner in their house and they've celebrated New Year's at mine, and in fact after we sold our house Rudder lived in their old one (for sale at the time) for a month before moving out to join me here. It seems incredible that I didn't keep addresses for all of these people, at least for holiday card purposes, but somehow I didn't. We went off and had (at a Starbucks that wasn't there a decade ago) and then I went back to bed to rest before the party later on.

I was at that party from 11AM to 8PM. It wasn't particularly raucous by company standards; as someone commented, in the old days there had been parties that led to divorces. But it was a good gathering, with a few hundred people there including all but a few of the ones I'd wanted most to see. There were a few spouses who had swapped around, a lot of kids who had grown up, a few people who looked much older and a lot more who looked pretty much the same. Everyone seemed as happy to see me as I was to see them. I don't care how many beers the person has had, it's still nice to hear, "You can't believe how good it is to see you!"

I stayed until the bitter end, on the theory that I'd rather help clean up than sit around a hotel room, and of course the others who stayed were the same ones who were at all the parties back when. It was odd, though: as glad as we were to see each other, I still felt a little out of it, because of course I don't have the daily topics of conversation people who see each other more frequently have built up. Still, a good time, and a wonderful turnout for a reunion that had been planned on the spur of the moment two months ago.

The couple I'd met at rowing on Saturday called around and got a few people together for breakfast on Sunday. That was happy and sad: besides the couple who set it up, one old friend hasn't changed at all except to get a little grayer, and our old housemate and his wife (for whose first meeting and subsequent courtng we were present) haven't changed themselves but have a houseful of daughters (I'm sure three of them keep the house full), but an older couple (who also met via rowing) have had a lot of serious health issues, and he especially seems much older. We'd all always said those two were a perfect match; he is always nice and she has a veneer of sweetness covering more sweetness that goes to the bone. That hasn't changed, at least, and I think he was thrilled to be around a bevy of beautiful women (I am speaking here of the former housemate's three daughters). I got everyone's address and managed to snag the check because I'm obnoxious that way.

The former housemate and family invited me to go for a spin on their boat, so I did get to see all around the lake, and got better acquainted with the daughters. The little one was shy and stayed on her parents' laps, but the older two wanted me to hang out with them in the front of the boat - "it's bumpy up there!" Windy, too, but we did backbends across the cushions when the boat was going slowly and the middle girl (6 or 7, I think) pretended to surf. Fun. I'd had to go check out of my hotel room beore meeting them at the boat and when I showed up the older girl presented me with a sign with my name on it. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with it, but I don't want to throw it out.

I spent the afternoon exploring the new Kemah Boardwalk area, riding a few rides and then eating an insanely spicy Cajun Shrimp boil at the Flying Dutchman - the rides and hotel and shops are new, the Dutchman and a few other restaurants are longtime landmarks. After that I walked a few blocks over to see all the new shops full of tchotchkelehs (not my style, though I briefly contmplated buy ing a Hawaiian shirt for my mom), then drove by my old house. It hasn't changed much, except for a new back fence and some different plantings. I was delighted to see that the used bookstore in an old house nearby is still there, but unfortunately it was closed on Sunday. I did treat myself to a stop by Half-Price Books, since the one in my area moved away. They are run individually, I think, so the Clear Lake one has a much different feel than that had had - more of a used bookstore, not so light and bright but with more crannies. I've always liked it. (Note: Clear Lake is the big lake there, and also what the whole area around the Johnson Space Center is called.)

I finished with a visit to the Space Center, the JSC's Disney-designed visitor center, which was a mistake. The only real changes were a huge playset for the 5th-grade-and-under crowd, and the prices are even worse than they were: $4 for parking (the only place in all of Clear Lake, that I know of, to charge for parking), $17 to get in, $5 for some fried mushrooms. It did feel right, though, to finish the weekend by looking at all of the pictures of all of the astronaut crews, and while I don't cry at movies much, I do still tear up at their Imax film, To Be an Astronaut. I skipped the tram tour of the real Space Center, having seen it all and being short on time. If you're in the area and have some spare $$$, it's probably worth seeing. Once.

The trip to the airport was smooth; the plane home was more crowded so I ended up sitting beside a small but imperious lady of 19 months and her mother. Happy and secure children are promiscuous with their touch; she had no problem leaning on me, standing up in her seat to flirt with the man behind us, and grabbing at my book. I averted one tantrum by letting her play with my tape measure - it retracts! (But it's plastic, not metal, and with no sharp edges.) That kept her busy for some time. She liked me; she even kissed my cheek once, and softly touched my chin a few times. (See "promiscuous" above. It's tricky for an adult; I could put an arm around my friends' six-year-old when she leaned on me, even though I hadn't met her before either, but of course I didn't want to reach out to touch a stranger's child.) Her mother was doing her best to get the girl to wear her seat belt when necessary, and there were a few crying jags due to overtiredness, and of course it's impossible to reason with a less-than-two-old about why she should sit still during takeoff, or eat her own crackers and not everyone else's, or not rest her feet on a stranger. But she was very cute, and reasonably well-behaved for someone entering her terrible twos. She entirely charmed the man behind me.

And then, I got to come home to Rudder. SO all in all, it was a weekend full of high points.

Posted by dichroic at 03:11 PM | Comments (2)

April 29, 2005

the hard parts

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

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

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

Posted by dichroic at 10:40 AM

April 25, 2005

weekend recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 20, 2005

motivation issues

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

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

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

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

Posted by dichroic at 01:55 PM

April 18, 2005

journalcon research

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

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

Posted by dichroic at 04:18 PM

the Dichroic fashion report

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by dichroic at 01:47 PM

April 15, 2005

rowing flying sleeping

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

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

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

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

Posted by dichroic at 02:03 PM

April 12, 2005


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

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

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

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

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

won't it be a jubilee?

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

Posted by dichroic at 10:48 AM

April 11, 2005

where to go, where to go

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

April 08, 2005


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

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

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

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

April 07, 2005


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by dichroic at 01:25 PM

April 06, 2005


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

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

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

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

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

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

April 05, 2005

stream of consciousness splutterings

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

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

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

April 04, 2005

good times in San Diego

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

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

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

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

April 01, 2005

if you were wondering

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

Posted by dichroic at 02:49 PM


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

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

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

Posted by dichroic at 12:24 PM

March 31, 2005

Debrief. Unpack. Repack.

It's been a while since I did a real update here. Let's see:

Last Friday I went to the gym, went flying, and then got to hang out with Egret and chicks. They were a little shy of me, since we haven't seen each other in a couple of months, but eventually made friends, and we had a good time until I was about to walk out the door. I was saying goodbye to Egret and T2, took a step back to open the door, and tripped over the boy, who had quietly come up and laid down right behind my feet. I didn't fall entirely on him, but stmbled a couple of steps before I could get away and off him. I'm not at all sure I didn't step on a hand or foot. He was screaming, of course, and I still feel bad, though Egret and T2 have assured me they've done the same thing several times when he's snuck up behind - of course he's still got that baby assurance that everyone knows where he is and what he's doing and will always catch him if he dives or avoid stepping on him. On a good note, I told Egret about baby sign a while ago and she's been using it and says it's really helped. She uses Ameslan with a few signs they've adapted themselves because it worked better for them than Baby Sign.

That evening we went out to a local seafood place that's entirely underground. Dinner was nothing spectacular, but afterwards, I decided to try some single-malt Scotch. I've always figured it would be something I'd like, but had never gotten into it. With vague memories of Iain Banks' Raw Spirit (Thanks, Mechaieh!) I decided, instead of trying something more approachable like Glenlivent, to dive straight into the peats of Islay, with a glass of Laphroig. *cough* I'm not good at identifying subtle flavors in wines and liquors (hmmm.... an oaky nose with hints of cedar, vanilla topnotes, with a finish redolent of varnish and elderberries). After my eyes stoped watering, though, I noticed three flavors in each sip: an initial hint of chocolate (and here I'd thought Banks was halucinating when he mentioned chocolate flavors in Scotch), followed by fire down the throat, and finishing with smoky peat. I'll do it again, but I'm fairly sure Rudder won't be ordering Scotch any time soon. Or at least not Laphroig.

Saturday was rowing and food shopping. On Sunday I finally got to fly a short cross-country. However, because the GPS database in the place wasn't up-to-date, we couldn't fly the IFR I'd originally planned and ended up flying a shorter VFR X-C, to an airfield just north of Tucson where a lot of retired commercial planes line both side of the field. It was fun, but I was so disgusted with the plane situation, and even more with the fact that they currently have NO aircraft with updated databases, that we went to breakfast at the next-closest local airport and I signed up with the FBO Rudder flies with. (It's the same one I got my private ticket at, though under new management.) My CFI, whom I like very much, was also infuriated and promised to go head-to-head with the management about the unacceptable situation. I really don't want to fly there at all anymore, but if he does that I may split my time, flying at the closer place on weekdays after work and doing my cross-countries on weekenda at the other FBO.
[Glossary: VFR: visual flying rules, i.e. I get to look out the window. IFR: Instrument flying rules, flying totally by instrument. CFI: certified flight instructor. Private ticket: private pilot VFR rating. FBO: Fixed-base operator, i.e. flying school and airplane rental business.]

After that we went to She-Hulk's for Easter dinner, which was delicious, and had a good time swapping stories with some of her geriatric neighbors. Funny old guys. So I got to row, fly and socialize with friends including babies and old people. A good weekend.

On Monday afternoon, the boss, two other coworkers and I flew out to Seattle. Monday night, I was lucky enough to meet up with two other members of my L.M. Montgomery list - we weren't sure if one could make it because she has a baby and a toddler, but luckily her husband was able to watch the kids and she drove all the way across town to my hotel. The other one was able to make it despite having had her car broken into the day before (and her dog in the back seat objecting to the plastic now coverig a window), and we had an excellent seafood dinner served by a very funny (and good) waitress. After that we went to JoAnn's across the street, because two of us sewed and two knit, though we didn't end up buying much. (The yarn was pretty much the same as at my local Michael's.)

On Tuesday after a day of useful benchmarking meetings, the company we were visiting took us to tour their factory - very cool_ and then for an even better seafood dinner (the SeaStar in Bellevue, WA - yum). One of the memorable parts was a woman at a table near us with a fox stole around her neck, complete with head and paws. Not the thing to wear in front of a tableful of engineers; we're not known for fashion, which makes it easier to notice when it's getting silly. (Also, the guys thought it was funny that she was wearing the stole with jeans, and I thought it was funny that the elegant upsweeping she was attempting to set off the fox was actually just help with a cheap plastic clip instead of being anything requiring actual effort or skill or or even anything prettier.)

After another day of meetings, we got to tour the distribution center, which was far more interesting than you'd expect a warehouse to be. (I kept picturing he whole thing as Santa's warehouse and envisioning all the people riding around on three-wheelers or forklifts in little elf suits.) The flight back was all right, though I was a little tense after hearing the conversation of the couple next to me: "I took Dramamine so I don't think I'll throw up." Thankfully, she didn't. The only bad part was the freeway going home. Three lanes were closed and the fourth was crawling so I had to take surface streets and got home a little later than I'd hoped, so I slept in a little and skipped the gym this morning. Oh well.

Plan for tonight: Unpack. Repack for this weekend's regatta trip.

Posted by dichroic at 02:02 PM | Comments (4)

March 29, 2005

caught between the horns

I was going to start an entry about how spoiled I really am ... we were just treated to dinner by the company we came to visit at Seastar, in Bellevue WA. The food was incredible, the place was beautiful, the company was amusing and we even got to laugh at a woman in a fox stole (head and all). And it wasn't even the best restaurant I've been to this year. (That would be Kai, at Wild Horse Pass Resort in Chandler, AZ. It's too close to bedtime to look up links, sorry.) Today was interesting; tomorrow may be less so but shouldn't be awful, and I get to sleep with Rudder at the end of it. Last night, I had a great time meeting two list-friends and enjoying some excellent salmon.

On the other hand, the world seems to be falling apart for a few too many people I care about. A member on a list I have moderated for years has died. Another has lost her daughter to cancer, far too young. Outfoxed's business is in trouble, and it's more a part of him than a job. Jenn is still hurting, when circumstances bring pain to the surface. There's earthquakes in Indonesia an as always there's starvation and violence and sorrow around the world. It's hard to be happy for me and sad for others without feeling heartless and spoiled and without having the grief seem too pale and thin to be real.

To bed. I'm babbling. And on the other hand, Jen is home and is a mom. There's bliss in the world too. It's a funny world, isn't it?

Posted by dichroic at 11:30 PM

March 28, 2005

Northwest Passage

I'm heading off to Seattle this afternoon. I think I'm set: I've printed out my boarding pass, charged my phone (and packed the charger), and checked that my boss will be leaving on time, unlike a previous boss who once missed a plane through sheer cockiness. (I wouldn't have minded, but he ended up in Cinncinati instead of Cleveland where I was and where we were supposed to be - and he had the rental car info and we still had to drive to Pittsburgh that night.) I've forgotten my umbrella but have packed a Goretex jacket, so I should be all right. And you can tell where I prioritize work via relaxation during travel: I have packed one knitting project (after much deliberation I packed a larger project on plastic needles instead of a portable sock on sharp metal needles) and about three books and a magazine. I do hope I don't end up sitting next to the boss because I intend to knit and read In Style on the plane and not pull out my laptop.

Actually, I packed four books, but I've brought Anne's House of Dreams not to read but to carry so friends from my L.M. Montgomery list can recognize me in my hotel lobby tonight. I've got said friend's number programmed into my cell phone. I've left an itinerary for Rudder. It's not that I don't travel much, just that it's been a while since I've traveled on business, and I never have for this company, and it's also that I packed last thing last night and didn't make a list so I'm worried I forgot something. I probably did, but it probably won't matter.

Posted by dichroic at 12:10 PM | Comments (1)

March 24, 2005

plans and randomizing (or not)

Thanks be to Jesus. No, literally - I get tomorrow off from work. So far plans include relaxing with reading and knitting, a flying lesson, paying bills, doing laundry, going to the mall and/or yarn store, visiting Egret and chicks... it hasn't escaped me that all of this is not entirely compatible with that "relax" idea.

The iPod shuffle feature is the best music-playing-related idea ever. Yes's Stormship Trooper followed by Bruce Cockburn followed by Robert Earl Keen twanging Happy Holidays Y'all followed by Steeleye Span followed by later Neil Young followed by Metallica followed by Bruce Cockburn. At least it would be random, except that my iPod seems to have a Bruce Cockburn fixation. This would be good if I have a Bruce Cockburn fixation but I don't, which is exactly why there's only one CD of his loaded on the iPod in the first place. Despite that, anytime I listen to more than a few songs in a row, there's Bruce. I am liking him more one song at a time than in whole-album doses, but still. Maybe the thing to try is uploading my one Springsteen CD to see if it's just something about the name Bruce the silly iPod likes. Besides, I need Thunder Road in my rebellious-mood playlist.

Right after we get back from this long weekend I'm off to Seattle on business for a couple of days, where if I'm lucky I may get to meet a couple of online friends. One of those goes back a good 6 years or so, through several jobs on my part and marriage, infertility, and then miraculous motherhood (twice!) on hers; the other is a more recent acquaintance I'm looking forward to getting to know better.

After that we may be off to San Diego, a bit unexpectedly, for the Crew Classic regatta. A local men's boat is short one rower and has more or less begged Rudder to fill in for the race. I'm not sure they entirely realize how long it's been since he last rowed sweep (one oar instead of two) but it's not so differnt that he won't do well.

One final thing: I'm somewhat glad I did see the Lord of the Rings movies first. I don't think I've come across more utter emotional desolation than the scene where Sam thinks that Frodo is dead, when he resolves to take on Frodo's mission, then come back to stay with his master forever. Snif. After all, even that tear-jerker scene that hit me so hard so young that it's part of my emotional landscape, the death of Beth in Little Women, isn't seen as parting forever by the characters. And Beth has more or less finished her life, as she says herself - her death doesn't presage desolation of the whole world. I understand why people skip some of the Frodo chapters, or alternate with the happier ones of the rest of the Companions.

Posted by dichroic at 01:07 PM | Comments (3)

March 23, 2005

getting past the news

Just three quick comments, and then I will declare this a Schiavo-free zone (the main page, at least: people can comment anything they want as long as it's not sp@m).

1. At least this sad story will have done some good if more people are moved to make Living Wills. I confess I've been delinquent on this myself; Rudder knows my preferences and so do my parents, but I should write it down.

2. I find the idea that my parents would know what I want better than Rudder does (because "they nurtured me as a dependent child") to be mind boggling: I've been out of their house for except for short periods for over two decades, and living with him daily for nearly three-quarters of that period.

3. As I understand the case, the heart attack that caused her coma was brought on by an eating disorder. How ironic that the root cause of her current death by starvation is that she was trying to starve herself.

OK, there. It's out of my system.

In much happier news, I've started knitting a to-be-felted bag based on the French Market Bag at Knitty, in the Manos del Uruguay I've had laying around since I didn't use it for Clapotis. I may use fewer stitches because the gauge is larger than that in the pattern, and I haven't decided whether to do the handles as in the pattern, or like a Booga Bag, or some other way entirely. What I really like about this pattern is that the bottom is knitted as a circle, and then you just go straight up the sides. I really don't like picking up stitches much, though obviously I can do it. ("Obviously" because it's just not that difficult.) I still can't imagine what this variegated yarn will look like when felted, but I do like the colors so am just working on faith. It's a nice change to work on something that grows so quickly: right now the bottom is 72 stitches around, or not much more than I expect my next socks (of actual sockweight yarn) to be, yet it's maybe 8" across.

Posted by dichroic at 12:33 PM | Comments (3)

March 17, 2005

I don't do windows.

I actually had a salesman refuse to sell to me today. I'm so proud.

Background: I've still got this cold/allergies/whatever. so I stayed home sick today to see if rest would help. This meant I got to be the one to see with the window salesman Rudder had scheduled for today. We'd already gotten bids from two other companies; Rudder had worked with those. I think this guy had insisted on being last.

He showed up and spent a lot of time trying to convince me that his were fine products of their kind and were far better than our existing windows. He's entirely right, of course, this being why we asked him to come give us a bid in the first place. (I may have rolled my eyes at this point, because I didn't need to know why we needed new windows but why we needed his windows in particular.) He told me his windows were far better than any of the competitors, and that their price was better, but he had no numbers to compare to the others. He did say the numbers were on the window manufacturers' webpages. He measured all of our windows and started talking about prices. Then he started doing the used-car salesman "What would it take to get you to make this decision immediately" bit. When I told him I wasn't going to decide right away because I don't do that on multi-thousand-dollar deals, as a matter of policy, he started getting a little upset. I think he assumed I wasn't deciding because Rudder wasn't here. I told him Rudder would have said the same thing. (True.) I also told him I wouldn't decide without looking up his windows' data on the Web, since he didn't have it, and that we weren't sure whether we wanted to do this instantly or wait a few months, which is also true.

At that point he decided he didn't want to deal with me because it was "evident I didn't trust him", and refused to write out the prices he had previously mentioned in an actual bid. (Also, when he was going to write them out, it was apparently going to be handwriting on lined paper, instead of a form listing exactly what he was offering, as we've seen with bids on other house improvements.) Well, duh I don't trust him. I've never met him before and know nothing about his company. I don't distrust him either (or rather, I didn't before) but I am certainly not going to fork over a few thousand dollars without checking actual data.

I am still going to look up his windows' data, however. I can only assume his reluctance to share it means he's got an inferior product. And if that's not the case, I may well write a letter to the company's owner. I haven't counted how many ways he insulted me/us, but there are definitely a few. Let's see: getting upset at dealing with me instead of Rudder (not sure if this is sexism or assuming we don't trust each other, but either way I don't like it). Pressuring me to make an instant decision. Wanting me to trust him with no accompanying data. Comparing his window to the existing ones instead of a competitors'. Getting upset when I asked him a couple of times about things other installers had said would be problematic (like the windows with no border from our stucco or the one touching a kitchen counter) despite not being an installer himself. Asking me to feel how strong his windows are. (Sorry, my built-in sensors aren't that accurate - can I use a baseball bat?) I think I'm better off without him.

Posted by dichroic at 04:39 PM | Comments (4)

March 15, 2005

he's back

My cat came back!!!!! In fact, I saw him at the back door not five minutes after finishing the last entry. I didn't even know he reads this :-)

Posted by dichroic at 08:59 PM | Comments (1)

Donne but missing

Funny how often these entries seem to be a balance between the good and the bad.

The Good:
An online discussion on John Donne I've signed up for started today. My university's writers' group this for alumni (of the school, not just the group) as a free seminar / salon sort of thing - they've done a couple before but this is my first time, since the earlier ones weren't on topics in which I was interested.

The Bad:
Outweighs the good, I'm afraid. We seem to be down one cat. He's been missing since sometime this weekend (though we really figured it out yesterday - this is the scaredy-cat who spends most of his time hiding, so his presence at any given time isn't expected. Rudder says he had the door open a lot over the weekend, so that cat may have run outside. However, outside is one of the things he's scared of, so he's never gone more than a few steps outside before, meaning if he did get brave and wander away he might not know where home is. We've looked around the front and back and called for him (he usually meows back) but have gotten no sight or answer.

Rudder's not home yet either, and he'd normally be in bed almost an hour ago. He did mentino something about an all-day meeting, so presumably it ran late. At least I know he knows how to get home.

Posted by dichroic at 08:48 PM

March 14, 2005

good influences

Or maybe I just didn't listen to enough music this weekend. It's hard to listen to I Know my Love (The Chieftains with the Corrs) without chair-dancing. (Ball-dancing in my case, but not the graceful kind.) It's hard to keep a down frame of mind while dancing around the office.

Posted by dichroic at 01:55 PM


Not one of the great weekends, I don't think. Let alone one of the great birthday weekends.

Thursday: Rudder had a regatta meeting; we debated whether he should stay home, but I ended up telling him to go (because it was the first meeting on planning this particular regatta) while I went for a massage, which was half price courtesy of his birthday gift. (I get one free one a month for 3 months plus member rates the rest of the time.) He got home around 8:30, which wasn't particularly helpful since we were both planning on rowing Friday morning, with all its incumbent 4AM alarm times.

Friday: Rowing was OK. Work was as usual. The chiropractor was a little disappointing since he didn't seem to recall that he'd said the previous time we'd be teaching me more exercises. (I kep quiet to see if he would remember.) I think I may go today, then quit. They did manage to mostly fix the hip joint problem I was having, and I don't see that we're doing anything to work on the crooked spine issue.

After that, Rudder and I went to dinner. This was supposed to be my birthday dinner, until he headed the wrong way, toward the new fondue restaurant instead of the fondue restaurant I'd been wanting to try and whose menu I had looked up online and shown him. He made it clear that he was too tired to go to the restaurant I wanted (maybe 3 miles further away). So we spent the rest of dinner (which was OK but not great) discussing whether that would be my official birthday dinner or not. I think we decided on not, but made no plans on what would be. I can't think of a more depressingly pointless dinner conversation, on further reflection. (Actually, I suppose I can. But this one was depressing and pointless, anyway.) Also, my allerigies or whatever weren't doing wonder for my ability to taste anything.

Saturday: slept in a little, went to the lake, did a little work on my boat, and had a nice breakfast/lunch with some of the characters we did last fall's marathon race with, so that was fun. However, since Friday afternoon, I'd been feeling ill, and the chicken soup I had Saturday at the restaurant didn't cure it. (Even though it had both matzo balls *and* kreplach. My illusions are destroyed.) I spent the afternoon resting and trying to figure out whether I had allergies or a cold. At 5 or so we went out to find sunset light and wil;dflowers, but what was supposed to be a half-hour drive to a state park ended up taking more like an hour and a half, due to unposted highway closures and roadwork. We did get about fifteen minutes of decent light at the park, though some of the flowers were closing for the night. Goign home took almost as long as getting there, due to trying to avoid the closed highway, and by the time we got home three and a half hours later, Rudder (who was driving) was not a happy man.

Sunday: The plane I was supposed to fly in Sunday morning had a small tangle with a lightpole, so they called Saturday to say they could put me in another plane on Sunday afternoon. An hour before the flight my instructor called to say we couldn't do an instrument cross country in it, because the GPS database was out of date. We could still fly it, but couldn't file as instrument so couldn't get the practice I needed at talking to control. Because the instructor and I both had colds or allergies we decided to just fly locally instead of doing the cross-country I had planned, which turned out to be a wise choice. By the time we finally landed for the last time, I could hardly hear. (I hadn't thought my ears were clogged or I wouldn't have flown at all, but apparently I was wrong.) Apparently I have a geas on me relating to cross-country flights. Every planned one so far has had to be cancelled due to weather or other factors.

Monday: Rudder emailed to say he'd booked flights to Edmonton in July. I had talked about possibly not going or going for only part of the time, since I'm not racing, but hadn't decided. He went ahead and booked flight for only himself and She-Hulk without asking me. Since it's still FOUR months off, I had expected to have some time decide - he said he hadn't planned to book this early either "but flights were cheap". Then he tried to tell me I had plenty of time to decide and the flights wouldn't fill up and wouldn't necessarily get more expensive, which of course would be a lot more convincing if he hadn't booked his own right away. Without asking if I wanted one. (I think She-Hulk did the booking, actually, but I'm sure she asked him whether I would need a ticket.) That's rectified now, and I think he understands why I might have been a little upset. I think.

On the plus side, I finished a sock and started another. Yee-f*ing-ha.

Maybe all my good luck's going to Jen. I'd like to think it's off doing something useful like that - she seems to have more freak bad luck than almost anyone else I know and it would be awfully nice if none of that happens to her while she's off meeting Li. A minorly bad few days here seem like a small price.

Posted by dichroic at 12:28 PM | Comments (2)

March 11, 2005

the proper frame of mind

I have figured out the proper mindset for one of my birthday gifts, though it took a little thought. My mother gave me something that is basically a long strand of tiger-eye colored beads (I think they're those fiber-optical things rather than actual tiger-eye, though) interspersed with magnetite at intervals, which looks like hematite but is magnetic, hence the name. Light brown with gunmetal gray. Hm. Interesting choice of colors. The magnetite beads attract each other, so the strand can be wrapped as a bracelet, long lariat, double wrapped with lariat end, or choker - at least, it could be a choker, had the maker not put little pewter charms on the end that look silly when coming off two different spots. I may remove one. Or it can be a headband, except that it tends to seize on to hairs and take them along when removed. Or a belt, I suppose.

I happen to know that she bought this months ago at a craft show and has been waiting for my birthday ever since. One would think that her thoughts on seeing this would be something like, "Dichroic does beadwork, and this is just a straight string, so I bet she could make it herself in ten minutes, for cheaper. Also, light brown and dark gray?" At least, if one were me, that's what one would have thought.

Upon reflection, however, I realized that's probably not what my mother would have thought. (I believe I know her pretty well, better than she knows me, though it's possible we're both wrong.) I bet she saw the bead table and thought, "Beads! Dichroic makes beads! And so she went over to the table and then the seller probably showed her how this thing can be a bracelet, a necklace or whatever, and she probably thought, "That's cooler than shit! " (Well, the Mom equivalent of cooler than shit. Not a phrase she uses.) "That reminds me of Dichroic. I bet she'd love it."

And it took me a little while to think it through, but really, to have someone think of you when they're faced with the Coolest Thing Ever, that's a pretty good compliment, isn't it?

Even in brown and gray.

Actually, it's sort of growing on me - from a distance, the brown beads look not like tigereye but like wood, so it's got kind of an ethnic-funky thing going. I still may do a little surgery so I can wear it as a choker, though.

Posted by dichroic at 02:48 PM | Comments (1)

March 10, 2005

not quite 100

One of my discussion lists has a tradition that on your birthday, you post 100 things about yourself. As I did last year, I'll just use that list for today's entry. (I get lazier as I get older.)

(Almost) 100 things

1. I've completed "100 things" birthday lists a couple of times before so this is really hard!
2. I have a pilot's license that I got the year I turned 30.
3. I'm working on an Instrument Rating.
4. I fly a Cessna 172.
5. I row a Hudson racing single.
6. I learned to knit last summer, mostly from a book. (Stitch 'n' Bitch.)
7. Finished Objects include several scarves, one Clapotis (sort of a cross between a scarf and a shawl), two small stuffed bunnies, 1 pair of socks, and one poncho (in a lace pattern with lots and lots of mistakes.
8. Objects currently on the needles include one sock for me, one cabled scarf for a gift, one sleeveless sweater for me.
9. On Myers-Brigg tests, I consistently come out an ENTP.
10. Despite that E, I do need to spend some time alone now and then.
11. And if I don't get enough reading time I get a bit squirrelly.
12. I learned to knit specifically because it was something I could do while reading. (Unlike beadwork, or cross-stitch.)
13. I have learned that magazines are easiest to read while knitting, large hardbooks next, then smaller hardbooks, then paperbacks. Paperbacks just don't want to stay open on their own.
14. I've kept an online diary for 4 years now, since March of 2001.
15. I've written 1500 entries so far. (And you thought I talked a lot here!)
16. I began on Diaryland.
17. I now have my own site here.
18. The riseagain part is mostly from a Stan Rogers song.
19. The dichoic part was inspired by the earrings I was wearing when I first began my diary.
20. I think it's appropriate because dichroic glass reflects multiple colors and I have a lot of variant interests.
21. I also have a Livejournal. I don't post there much; it's mostly so I can have a friends list to read other Livejournals.
22. I've been online since the late 1980s.
23. I was on my first mailing lists in the early 1990s - Alan Rowoth's folk-music list is one I was on for years.
24. Currently on quite a few mailing lists, but most are set to nomail.
25. I drive the tiniest car you've ever seen, a Toyota Mr-2 Spyder.
26. My husband's truck is huge, a Hummer.
27. They look very funny in the garage together.
28. I have brown eyes and hair.
29. I've only got a few gray hairs, so far.
30. I've had highlights a couple of times, but right now my hair is entirely its natural color.
31. I don't blow-dry - I just towel-dry, comb it, put in some stuff so it won't frizz, and go, even when it's long.
32. If I'm putting it up I usually wait until I get to work so it's dry so there will be some curl.
33. I go to the Renaissance Faire every year.
34. I really like buying unique jewelry there and especially hair ornaments.
35. I've been thinking of joining the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms).
36. I really want to find more of a community - this isn't a very easy area to make friends in.
37. Also I want people to sing with who don't believe you can't sing unless you're of professional quality.
38. I'm not!
39. I think I have reasonably good voice control; I just don't have a great voice.
40. I took guitar lessons for a couple of years, but I'm not very good at it.
41. I haven't played much for years.
42. I own a mandolin but can't play it at all.
43. My brother gave it to me for my last birthday.
44. He thinks I'm more musically talented than I am.
45. Most workdays, I eat fruit (a Clementine in winter, graes in summer) and some cereal in a bggie for breakfast
46. Which I eat in the car on the way to work.
47. This is a holdover from when I either rowed or lifted weights, showered in a gym, and then went straight to work.
48. Now I have a shorter commute, I shower at home after the gym.
49. I'm semiretired from rowing
50. By which I mean I'm trying to stay in reasonable shape, but not training to compete.
51. I find it wonderfully freeing to be able to decide not to work out if I don't feel like it.
52. Right after Xmas and in the first half of January when I wasn't working out at all I lost a couple of pounds.
53. Now I'm being pretty good about working out around four times a week and my weight has ballooned. (Well, up 5 lbs.)
54. I have no idea how this all works.
55. I have never been on a diet in my life.
56. But it's pretty clear I do eat too many simple carbs.
57. This would be because I count pretzels as a food group.
58.Snyder's sourdough hard pretzels are my favorite.
59. And soft pretzels are one of the major things I miss from living in Philadelphia.
60. Folk music is another thing I miss.
61. So is being able to walk or take public transportation everywhere.
62. I didn't get a driver's license until I was 22, a week before...
63. I moved to Texas for my first job. (Hey, it's hard to get 100 things! I wasn't going to waste items by combining them!)
64. I spent 22 years in Philadelphia, 7 in Houston, and I've been here for 9 in Phoenix.
65. I use the word "in" loosely, meaning the greater city area including suburbs.
66. The main thing I miss from Houston is all the water (we lived in the SE end of town, by Clear Lake).
67. I escpecially miss retaurants and bars on the water.
68. I also miss being able to send out an emai on Friday afternoon and gather a posse of people to go out with that night.
69. That really stopped even before we moved away, as our friends got older and settled down.
70. Not that we're big partiers...
71. But Rudder and I have never understood why so many people stop doing anything when they get married, even when they don't (yet) have kids.
72. We believe being married gives you a partner in adventure, not a reason to stop having them.
73. In my opinion we've lived here far too long and it's well past time to move to someplace cooler.
74. I'd like to live in a variety of places, for say, 2-5 years each.
75. Then when we got tired of moving we'd know where we'd like to go back to, to settle down.
76. Unfortunately, Rudder likes it here more than I do - he isn't adamant against moving, but wants more of a directed goal, somepleace to move *to*.
77. My idea is to move away *from*, just to keep trying new places.
78. I've been working intermittently on cataloging our books and am still not done.
79. I'm up to 1100 books catalogued.
80. Some of my best friends are fictional. (If you read the note I wrote the other day on how children read, I think it explains 80. Some others of my best friends are online, I think for similar reasons. Sometimes blogs and email lists give you a better view into someone. Sometimes it's just a view of a different side.) (Later note: Note referenced above was in an email, not an entry here. Oops. See last entry on March 11 for what it said.)
81. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. My job is OK but I think ideally I'd like more freedom to work anywhere, anytime. (Without, of course, sacrificing pay or working more hours. I did say "ideally".)
82. In retrospect I wish I'd had more trust in my future in college, to major in anything I wanted and trust I'd be able to earn a living with it. (Though that hasn't worked out for all of the people I know who've done it, it has for some.)
83. I find it slightly embarassing I don't speak more than a smidgen of any language but English - I can order from a menu or ask for the simplest of directions in Spanish but that's about it.
84. This is despite a year of French (4th grade), one of Latin (5th grade), 6 or Spnish (5th - 10th grade) and 6 of Hebrew school (of course, not all of that was language training).
85. And yet I think I have some talent for languages - I have a good eye for cognates and a good ear for accents.
86. Unfortunately I didn't figure that out until well after all those years of language classes. (For anyone outside the US reading this, this is unfortunately not uncommon. My husband had German for a few years in high school and knows considerably less of it than I do of Spanish.)
87. I am good at and comfortable with talking to strangers but not great at making friends.
88. This may be due to high expectations - read too many books in my youth about people who had bosom friends with whom they could share all their interests. This doesn't work well for me because there aren't too many people with such an oddly assorted set of interests.
89. Right now my biggest ones include rowing, knitting, flying, and as always, reading. I can't think of anyone interested in more than two of those - or at least, not in the same parts I am.
90. But I also think it doesn't necessarily matter that friends have the same interests, as long as they're interested in hearing about each other's interests.
91. Anyway, this is one reason I place a high value on the friends I do have, even those I don't see or hear from often.
92. I was born March 10, 1967, at 11:30 in the morning. It was snowing when they brought me home from the hospital.
93. And I've decided I am now officially too old to be bound by silly and arbitrary rules, so since I do want to post this today, I will end here!

Posted by dichroic at 02:19 PM | Comments (11)

March 09, 2005


This is scary: I noticed, after posting it, that this is entry #1500. It's completely unorganized - 1500 entries in and I still haven't gotten my thoughts together. Or maybe there is an organization, and it's a common one for me: in order, I've written about the Good, the Bad, and the thing I need to do better. I'm not sure what that means, except that though I'm not entirely an optimist or a pessimist, I'm closer to optimism (because of the eternal hope to do things better).

So far the thing I like most about the iPod is the shuffle feature. My biggest complaint about local radio has always been that they pick a set of 10 songs and play them until you want to hold the lead singer by the ears and yell at him to SING SOMETHING DIFFERENT THIS TIME, I'M TIRED OF THAT SONG! even though you know that not only would that be unproductive, but even the DJ really has little choice in the matter.

One recent local exception, now coming to a station near you: Alice Cooper's radio show. Alice (yes, the guy who used to wear all the face paint) is a local resident; he owns a restaurant and sponsors golf tournaments and stuff. He's been doing a stint on the local radio station and I think it's now syndicated. He plays everything from old Yardbirds to obscure songs of his own to new stuff. Dee Snyder (of Twisted Sister) has a similar show that gets played here on weekends. I'm beginning to like this faded-celebrity-DJ trend, because these guys do know music and seem to have enough clout to pick their own music.

Back to the iPod shuffle, it's like having a station that not only plays variety, but plays a variety of stuff I like, with no commericials. I really don't listen to my CDs all that often, except while driving, and I'm beginning to think it's just a dislike of listening to 13 of the same sort of songs in a row. (This would explain why I have so many tribute CDs, where a variety of bands sing songs by Bob Dylan or Richard Thompson or whoever, and also a lot of compilations, like Live at the Wherever.) So now the music flips from Garnet Rogers to Cosy Sheridan to Neil Young to Boiled in Lead to the Grateful Dead to Greg Brown and it's a Good Thing.

The Bad Thing, on the other hand, would be that I just remembered I don't have a birthday card for Yogi, my former coworker born the same day I was. I don't want to send an e-card because she usually sends me paper ones, but I might have to. I have a flying lesson tonight so won't have much time to shop for one. At least if I send it tomorrow it should get there the next day, via interoffice mail (same company, different site). Damn. There went that resolution, in near-record time. Does it count if I send an electronic one but I send it the day before so it's obvious I didn't just forget?

Also, note to self: I *will* get up and row on Friday! I took today off exercising because yesterday my body so clearly wanted the day off. I'm taking tomorrow off because I'm self-indulgent. Friday I will row. What I will not do is allow myself to need bigger clothes, and I won't diet, so there's not much choice left. I'm actually up 4-5 lbs, but so far the clothes all fit. My tight jeans were tighter than I'd like but they were also just out of the dryer. Still, I noticed my cheekbones in the mirror yesterday while erging. In other words, once again, I have no idea what my body's doing. I wish I came with an Owner's Manual.

Posted by dichroic at 11:52 AM | Comments (5)

March 08, 2005


Note to self: it is not really possible to reach under your desk while still sitting on your ball. Ouch.

Today's erg piece was fairy torturous, which is why I only did 5K. It's not that I was rowing hard at all, just that my body was putting in a strong vote for going back to bed. That was followed by a visit to the dentist. Week before last I had a dentist appointment at 7AM, got my teeth cleaned and went to work (actually, went home and telecommuted) and it all worked out well, so I figured a similar schedule would work well today. Unfortunately I forgot about one minor difference between getting teeth cleaned and getting a filling that makes before-work appointments not such a great idea. That was why I got to come in to work this morning with rubber tongue, numb lip, and teeth that didn't quite feel as if they fit together.

Just to make matters worse, I was scheduled to do a walk-through of one of the buildings on site with my boss all morning, which meant I got to try to talk to him and a bunch of people I don't know with a mouth that wasn't quite working right. "Hewwo, myf nam iv Paula, sorry I dust goh a fiwwing dis moring...."

At least the day has been uphill from there. My jaw still aches a little and my legs are tired, but I got the iPod reconfigured and reloaded last night, and I've got the Chieftains with Diana Krall trying to distract me from any minor physical issues.

Posted by dichroic at 02:17 PM | Comments (1)

March 07, 2005

product report: iPod

I was having a a most excellent day, but now my bubble is slightly busted. (I'm not sure that's possible, any more than being slightly pregnant.) With clear and sure decision, Rudder bought a new digital camera Saturday. We have a small digicam, but this one is on a par with our film camera. This will be nice, because we'll no longer have to tradeoff for who gets the good camera. (One afternoon in Antarctica, we got some spectacular penguin photos; unfortnuiately, he had the small digicam that day so they aren't quite as spectacular as they could have been.) After much vacillation, I ended up buying an iPod photo, which (with an accessory, due out later this month) can store photos to get them off the flash cards; can be taken to work to show digital photos around, and of course can play music and audiobooks.

In an attempt to justify blowing the money on it, I took it to the gym this morning. I don't normally listen to music in the gym (except what's played over the loudspeakers) but this turned out to be wonderful. Who knew? (Aside from everyone else in the world, I mean.) Moreover, I'd only loaded on a few CDs and a couple of bought songs: a tribute to Townes van Zandt and one to Bob Dylan, a Steeleye Span CD and one each by Stan and Garnet Rogers. Not, in other words, a likely pick for workout music. As it turned out, it worked perfectly, especially when a whaling chanty came on as I was doing lat pulldowns. The armband I had bought to holster it worked well enough, except that it was a little uncomfortable erging. However, the shirt I was wearing was actually designed for cycling, and so had water bottle pockets on the back. I popped the iPod in one of those and i worked perfectly - cords were kept out of my way and I was able to shift it enough to the side to be comfortable even during exercises involving a backrest. Also, the sound quality was fantastic and even without being loud thoroughly drowned out the gym music.

If I were doing a lot of this, didn't need the photo capability, and had the discipline to keep downloading different playlists, one of the miniscule iPod Shuffles might have been even better, but even though the iPod photo is the largest of the current flock of iPods, it's nowhere near big enough to be annoying.

However, there is one downside, which is what burst my bubble after I got to work. It turns out the iPod can sync to a Mac or a PC, but not both. I tried to upload iTUnes on my work PC, figuring I'd be able to listen to a couple of CDs I'd uploaded here (no dice; they're in RealAudio .rmj format) and in the process of loading software it reformatted the iPod and wiped off all the songs and photos I'd loaded last night. Grr. The manual warned of this, but of course I didn't read it until afterwards when it was too late.

Also, the controls take some getting used to. Still, I'm pretty impressed with the product - of course, being from Apple, it worked right out of the box. (Well, after charging.) Long may they run.

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

March 04, 2005

chiro ok, brain not too good.

The chiropractor visit was all right; I can't say I feel better but I don't feel worse either, and I do seem to have more flexibility in the hip joint that's been bothering me.

I'm feeling a little stupid just at the moment for not having figured out the second entry in Theresa Nielsen Hayden's Old English entry. I got the other two on my own at least (more or less; my New Testamant knowledge isn't quite good enough to identify the exact location of the first one).

Not much else to say. Rudder gets home today - yay! I found out one of my favorite people ever to share a mailing list with, who posted today after lurking for a very long time, was in my area last week. Boo. (I only recently rejoined that list after a few years away, and haven't posted much this time, so far. She wouldn't have known I'm here, if she even remembers me at all.)

Off to meetings.

Posted by dichroic at 12:01 PM | Comments (1)

March 03, 2005

Old Home Night

It's practically Old Home Night around here. First I caught the end of Rocky III (Hell, I don't know, maybe it was Rocky Iv. Or V or XII. I don't keep up.) which left me with pretty much the same impression as all the other Rocky movies I've seen: boxing just looks like a really, really bad idea. At least with all the sports I've done, getting hurt is just a side effct, not the main idea.

I've also been reading the latest of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum mysteries. Trenton's right over the bridge from Philly, so despite the lack of bounty hunters, low-level Mafia, really hot cops and even hotter mercenaries in my early youth it somehow reminds me of home. Must be all the rowhouses. Then I read Sixweasel's latest update and it was like a continuation, only with a slightly less obnoxious family, without the hot cops and mercs but with all the assholes. Or maybe she's got the hot cops, I don't know.

I need to go to bed. Going to bed not alone would be even better but Rudder doesn't get home until tomorrow morning. And I'm postponing going to sleep because I'm hoping he'll call home, if the vendors clamoring for his attention release him at a reasonable hour.

Posted by dichroic at 08:48 PM | Comments (1)

do what?

My brain is sort of in the mode of, "Whadda you wanna do?" "I dunno, whadda YOU wanna do?"

Unfortunately, there's only one of me here.

Posted by dichroic at 04:00 PM | Comments (1)

innate abilities

I did go to the Stitch'n'Bitch last night; first I got to have dinner at Wildflower with Kim, Jen, Brooke (and Jack) and Pam, then I stashed my stuff on a chair and did something more crucial than a stitch'n'bitch, the obligatory Changing Hands book browse'n'buy, then I knitted several inches more on my current sock and hung out with Becky and Alison.

Oddly enough I spent some time teaching a woman on my other side who has been knitting for years, but who may be one of the least adventurous knitters I've met. She learned from her mother in Continental style, and has made mittens and sweaters for her kids and grandkids.... but only things involving knit and purl stitches. She wanted to learn lace, so I showed her a simple YO k2tog pattern. Apparently she learns best by having someone demonstrate what to do, and the only other knitters she'd known used the English style and couldn't teach her. It must just be a (lack of) spatial sense thing; since the major difference is just which hand you hold the working yarn in, it just doesn't seem like a big deal to me to learn it one way and then convert to a method I found more comfortable. It's becaue I can do that, I suppose; whenever something comes naturally or has been learned well enough to be internalized, it's always hard to understand why other people can't figure it out. Still, it seemed funny to be teaching someone who has knitted sweaters, while I'm only 4" into my first one, and who has knitted for several more decades than I have years.

Tonight's adventure is the visit to the chiropractor. I wasn't sure whether thye can work with me in office clothes, so I brought shorts just in case.

Apropros of nothing, there are a lot of phrases I do not like, that I hear a lot. What they have in common is that they're generally euphemisms and usually either coy, or sexist. A sampling: "passed away", or worse "passed"; "loved ones", "little ones" (oddly, I don't mind a singular "little one" so much , as in Malvina Reynolds "Turn Around"), or "little man", especially when used to imply that that tiny bit of extra flesh makes him somehow more important. I don't know why I dislike them (except in that last case, where I know exactly why) but I wish people would just say "died", "family" or "people you love", and "children". I could also do without "hubby", though for some reason, possibly the Trumpkin factor, I don't mind "DH". I'm trying to think of other ones, but all the phrases I'm coming up with now are political, which is not at all the same thing.

Posted by dichroic at 12:22 PM | Comments (4)

March 01, 2005

early morning ambivalence

The massage last night did help with that problem in my hip joint - I had way more extension when I stretched this morning. Of course, that means I stretched it wa-a-yyy out, which I'll be regretting tomorrow morning, likely right around when I meet She-Hulk to go row. Oops.

I'm ambivalent on the 'go row' thing, anyway. Time on the water - yay! Waking up at 4AM and going out in the dark and cold, not so yay. I think going there will suck, being there will be good, having been there will be very good. (At least until tomorrow night when I go to the local Stitch'n'Bitch gathering and try to stay awake past 8.)

Oddly, that seems to be about all I have to say today. Off to go look up chiropractors and get this hip joint fixed.

Posted by dichroic at 12:00 PM

February 28, 2005


Drat. Yay. Not sure which.

Rudder's off on a business trip for a few days, so I did what I usually do to treat myself in his absence: I got a massage. Afterward, oddly, they told me it was prepaid and charged me only for the tip.

I thought maybe there was a mistake; they work on a membership basis, where a membership fee buys you one free session a month and reduced rates for any others. But they seemed fairly sure, so I took the gift of the Fates.

Shortly after I got home, Rudder called. It turns out what it was, was not the gift of the Fates but that of the Rudder. He bought me a three-month membership for my birthday, and told them it was not to start until March 10, but apparently they're better at effleurage than at thinking there. Or reading a calendar.

So yay for a massage a month, but drat for the spoiled surprise. I believe I will just be sensible about this ... and treat myself to a reduced-rate rubdown on or near my birthday.

Posted by dichroic at 08:22 PM

restaurant review

Rudder and I have a new candidate for Most Romantic Restaurant in Town (actually, just outside town). We've been to a lot of the other candidates, and though we've been impressed with some, we never thought they were as romantic as billed. At some, Rudder hasn't been impressed with the food - he's not a big fan of cuisine that attempts the unusual just to be unusual, or puts sweet sauces on all the meats or that doesn't provide enough food to be filling. (He's not just a meat-and-potatoes man; he's more adventurous an eater than thatt, but I think he wants those basics fulfilled before a chef starts trying to get fancy.) At others, the atmosphere hasn't been terribly conducive to romance.

For some specific examples, at Wrigley Mansion, I liked my meal, but Rudder didn't like his food at all. The mansion itself is beautiful and the view from its hilltop is amazing, but we didn't have a view at the table, and the room layout was very open so that we didn't feel secluded from other tables. At T. Cook's, the food was excellent (my journal entry from that day says I had lobster tortellini and he had a steak) but the atmosphere was romantic only if you believe that anything French Provincial is so by definition. Actually I'd call the decor "French barn"; we loved the look of the building and would like a house designed that way, but it was light and open, with again, no seclusion from other tables. The worst for romance may be Fleming's. We've been there several times, because they have the best steaks in town and one of the best wine selections. The room is darkened, with wine displayed around the walls and the service is always good. However, they also have a high noise level and a TV at the bar that faces into (and can be heard from) the restaurant. Maybe it's just me, but I consider "TV" and "romance" to be antonyms.

OK, so. On Friday night we went out to celebrate Rudder's annual bonus, and had decided to try a place I'd heard about in the Indian reservation just south of us. The restaurant is Kai, located int he Sheraton Wild Horse Pass resort. The chef (Janos Wilder) is classically trained but is mindful of his surroundings; using local products and influences in every dish. The servers were all attentive and well educated, and took care to point out the vegetables that were raised for the restaurant in a project at nearby schools, and the other local and traditional ingredients. The presentation of the food was also impressive, though the chef did fall prey to the Tower of Pisa shool of thought a bit too much. That's the one in which all food must apparent be somehow guided into a round shape and then piled up so that all flavors are layered. It does generally end up leaning, at least after the first bite.

The obligatory list of what we ate:
For appetizers, Rudder had butter-braised lobster with tear-drop tomatoes and avocado mousse (unexpectedly tasty) and something or other else I forgot. (See, you can tell it's a fancy place because the appetizers had their own little side dishes.) I had baby greens in pomegranate vinaigrette. Even the greens were round and vertical, in three little bouquets sprouting from rings of beetroot. On the side was a thinly sliced tiny pear no bigger than an olive and a bit of something unidentifiable and slightly sweet, with a texture partway between cornbread and granola bar.

For dinner, he had a buffalo tenderloin (there was sweet sauce, but it was drizzled in a thin ring around the platter, so the meat wasn't marinated in it and I had salmon and lobster. The salmon was rolled into three roulades with wilted spinach with slivers of mushroom on top of each, all sitting on lobster tabouleh, with a lobster claw perched atop the whole thing. For dessert, Rudder had Kahlua ice cream with whipped cream and cherries on more fry bread - fry bread is a traditional Navajo (and, I think, Pima) food and apparently the recipe used there came form their baker's grandmother. I had three types of not-too-sweet sorbet (one was strawberry-chipotle) with slices of grapefruit between.

The food quality was definitely there, and the sense of place added by the local ingredients and recipes added to the experience. So did the Navajo flute music playing quietly int he background. As for romance, we were seated at a small table by a window, from which we could look over two pools, a lake and part of a golf course to see the sun set over the Estrella mountains. The room was open, with no division between tables, but the low light and the few tables in the place kept it feeling intimate. The wine list was also fairly detailed. Nothing on it looked terribly unusual, but the Karralaa Shiraz we had was very good. We'll definitely be going back - not soon, because the price was an fancy as the food, but we'll be going back. (Of course, just because this place gets our vote for Most ROmantic, don't think we didn't have the usual geeky conversations about flying or whatever.)

The resort the restaurant is in in very nice, too; it's very careful to be appropriate to its place, with little plaques explaining ornaments of design features (one wall is designed to replicate one at the Casa Grande National Monument, not far away). It's only about 15 minutes from our house, so definitely seems like a good place to go for a glass of wine of an evening - or a spa weekend, if I had some spare cash and could talk Rudder into it.

Posted by dichroic at 01:18 PM

February 25, 2005

dream party

The other nght when I couldn't get to sleep, I was thinking that it's been a while since I've been to the East Coast. I saw my parents last fall when they visited us, but there are a lot of other people in the Mid_Atlantic states I really would like to see. From there my mind drifted as it does when you're laying in the dark with your eyes closed, and I got to wishing I could just throw a big party and invite everyone.

There are well over 20 people - I counted, including SOs - I would love to meet up with in that area, stretching from NE Philly to Alexandria on the SW side of Washington DC and filling a lot of the points between. (This is not to say there aren't people elsewhere I want to spend time with, just that there's a concentration in that one area.) Fantasy parties have the advantage that no one can't make it that day, and you never have to worry whether people will get along. Ideally, I could rent a big rambly old house for a long weekend, say somewhere on the north end of the Chesapeake Bay, fill it with food and drink, and invite people to come when they wanted and stay as long as they wanted. Make that a big rambly sound-insulated house; we could have quiet zones for sleeping, noisy zones full of music (and since this is my fantasy, music-making), and lots of space in between for talking.

If you're reading this and you live in the Philly-DC span, you'd be invited. (If you live elsewhere and wanted to come out, you'd be welcome.) One thing I realized as I thought about the people I'd like to spend time with is what a diverse group they are, more so than a group of my friends out here would be. There are people in their 20s and people in their 50s. (If people came from farthere away, there would be a wider range.) There are people I've known since birth, since grade school, high school, college, and people I've met in the last couple of years. There are people I've known online or known of for years and never met in person. There are a surprising lot of people who wouldn't know each other to start with, some of whom I've wanted to introduce for years. There are people who know each other, whom I know from different contexts so we've never all met together at once.

The majority would be readers - we might also need some alcoves to sneak away and read. There would be several folkies. There would be a lot of skiffy types, including some who have gone to several of the same cons and (AFAIK) never met. There would be people whose schooling stopped at high school graduation and people with doctorates, but no one who considers their education over and done with or who uses their brain only to hold the pillow down. (At least not all the time - occasional mindlessness is no bad thing.) There would be people with kids and people who live alone. There would be se married people, single people, and people with other arrangements. There would be several who identify as LGBT (well, LGB but not T, but that's only as far as I know, which isn't very far). There would be people who are doing OK financially and people who eat ramen by necessity just before a paycheck is due. And all of them are people I haven't seen in too long and want to spend time talking to - the one drawback to the party idea is that the fun of seeing people enjoy each other would probably be counterbalanced by my not getting to spend a lot of one-on-one time with each.

I'm not really planning to do it, even though it's at least technically possible, because experience tells me that I'd pick a weekend when half of the invitees would be unable to come and that none of the pairs I'd want to introduce to each other would both be there at the same time. But it was fun to think about and it sure would be fun to do.

Posted by dichroic at 11:56 AM | Comments (2)

February 24, 2005

She got off!

Thanks to a morning dental appointment with a telecon scheduled right afer it, I'm working from home today. Remember the scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix after Harry's trial where Ginny, Fred, and Gearge Weasley are doing a happy weasel-dance around the kitchen table, chanting "He got off! He got off! He got off!" That's about my reaction to working at home.


  • For some reason it feels like a vacation, but I still get as much or more work done, so there's no post-vacation workpile hangover.

  • I don't have to spend 8-10 hours under fluorescent lights

  • Supermarket sushi or even a can of Campbel's beats the hell out of cafeteria food (I'm terrible about taking lunch).

  • The chairs are more comfortable. If I want to I can unplug my laptop and go sprawl on a sofa.

  • I can do whatever I want during breaks.

  • Cleaner bathrooms with softer toilet paper.

  • Better snack food and provisions for cooking.

  • No traffic. No time wasted in traffic.

  • No one cares if I knit while on the phone.

  • Cats are often better company than coworkers.

  • Bigger rooms - less feeling closed in.

  • Windows.

  • Quiet. No other people yelling into speakerphones with their doors open. (This and the lack of fluourescent lights may be the two biggest reasons home is more relaxing.)

  • I can listen to any music I ant. Mostly I don't, but I could. More important, I can sing along. I can sing along even if not listening to music.

And that's just the short top-of-my-head list. She got off! She got off!

Posted by dichroic at 01:50 PM | Comments (1)

February 23, 2005

consanguinity of days

I have an odd memory for birthdays. I'm not bad at remembering them in general, and it's probably common to find it easier to remember the ones that are on or near to holidays. But if your birthday's close to mine, I will remember it forever, whether or not there's any need to.

I mean -- my birthday's March 10. And so:
I have a cousin whose birthday is March 7 and another whose is March 11. I haven't seen either since maybe 1992. A kid who lived around the corner in grade school's birthday is March 13 - he must have moved away because I don't think I ever saw him after about 4th grade. A coworker from three jobs ago's is on March 11, but at least he and I still keep in touch. A coworker from my last group has my identical birthday, even to the year - in fact I think that's one reason she and I keep in touch. Another from that job was born the same year a week later. My husband's grandmother's birthday is March 9, which is more than he remembers. She was born two days after me, and it must be either the same year or the year before, since we would have been in the same grade in school.

I think I may make birthday resolutions this year, since after all it's a new year of me. There's an old woman in a story by L.M. Montgomery who had resolved that her birthdays would be days of happiness for toher people, if she could manage it. I'm not sure I'm ready to try that. (Though all of my reasons not to collapse on investigation: I hardly see people outside work? The make it happy for them. And so on.) One of mine is going to be to be better at celebrating other people's birthdays. I've been terrible at that this year, at least for the ones I'm not on a gift-exchanging basis with, and most people really do seem to enjoy and appreciate being thought of, even if it's only an e-card.

Posted by dichroic at 12:03 PM | Comments (3)

February 22, 2005

uncurling the hedgehog

Pardon me here while I indulge in a little unlicensed pop-psychology analysis here. Yesterday, someone took me aside to tell me she felt our relationship was strained, and that I had made some comments that she thought were very hostile. I explained carefully that I'd had no such intent and apologized for anything I'd said that had come out sounding offensive, and we parted friends, but I think I need to be more careful of my speech in future. (Whereas her comment was that some comments she made that sounded patronizing were just because "that's the way she works and I just have to realize she doesn't mean to patronize" which doesn't sound quite like a fair trade, but anyway. Anything for a peaceful life.)

Of course, I don't feel that anything I said was nasty at all, but then I would think that, wouldn't I? If she thought I was being hostile, then others could have the same reaction. I want to write down a little analysis of her character here, so I can think out how to talk to her and (potentially in future) others like her. My reading is that this woman is, mostly, fearful. Somehow I think she's worried about not being as good as others - this may have something to do with not having the technical degree other people in her position have, though (as she's explained to me a few times) she has the practical experience to make up for that. I think she's afraid she won't get her fair share, of respect or whatever other good things are to be had. I think this explains a lot of her politics, as well. She supported GWB in the last election, which I know because she went around buttonholing everyone and telling them they ought to vote for him. She doesn't seem to be terribly conservative on most issues, except maybe for immigration, ironically the one place where Bush himself actually seems to have a desire to help the most needy. (She was fairly ticked at him for that.) I think she might be among the group that supported Bush and his ilk out of fear that the liberal elite might get a foothold and laugh at anyone not in their group. (People in this group might say their fear is that a bunch of over-educated book-smart types might gain power and not respect the people who have worked hard for what they have. I sympathize with both the need for respect where it's earned and the need not to be laughed at, but am not quite sure why a government aimed at making the rich richer would help with this, even if they do have down-home accents and attend your church.)

Also, I think her attitudes on a lot of things are a little behind the times; I get a distinct feeling that she feels a bit lessened that I'm married and she's not, though we're about the same age, and that despite working at a high level in a mostly male field, she expects different treatment from a female peer than from a male one.

In short words, I think she's defensive and that I need to be careful not to make her curl up and fan out the quills. In relationships, perceptions are the reality, and if she felt I was offensive, then I was, whether or not I meant to be. I'm very glad that she had the guts to take me aside to talk instead of just fuming, so that we could mend our relationship instead of having it fester, and I want to show my respect for that by still talking to her (more carefully) instead of being the sort of ass who tries to avoid being offensive by just avoiding the offended person entirely.

Posted by dichroic at 12:24 PM | Comments (2)

February 21, 2005

Outlaws up

If anyone's interested, our rowing website is .... well, not done, but drafted and populated. You can see it here. Feedback is welcome, as I've only tested it on a couple of browsers so far. We're still battling issues of sizing and placement of links that show up differently on differend monitors/browsers.

Also, you can buy gear with our logo here.

Yesterday, my flight was cut very short - the clouds above masked a low fog layer - it was thin enough to see through, more or less, but not legal to fly in without an instrument clearance. (And of course, no guarantee that it wouldn't thicken on us at an inooprtune time. When you're in the air, any time fog thickens is an inopportune time.) So my flight went as follows: take off, climb less than a thousand feet, enter fog, descend, turn around, land. A very expensive fifteen minutes. On the other hand, experience in dealing with weather and in landing from a lower altitude than standard pattern is useful.

We'd spent Saturday helping clean up the boatyard, then working on stuff around the house. Since I had my Sunday morning back, Rudder graciously acceded to my request that we do something fun with the rest of our weekend. We decided something outside would be more fun - despite the cloud layer, it was a nice, cool, partly sunny day, and decided to drive up north to see whether all this wet weather seemed to be helping the trees on our porperty to do better. The short answer is "no", I think just because trees don't do anything in one-season time increments, but the drive..... well. The desert was unbelievably, lushly Technicolor green. We saw actual waterfalls on the mountains, more than a few of them, in a bizarre desert-impersonates-Yosemite act. There were black-eyed Susans and other yellow flowers and purple lupines along the road. It was spectacular. Then up on the Mogollon Rim (6000-7000 feet elevation) we got rained on and drove through wisps of clous, then saw patches of snow under the junipers. As we rose higher, there were blankets of snow under the aspens and then coverlets of snow on the pines. We drove through rain, snow, and clouds low enough over the snow covering to give me a new understanding of the phenomenon of whiteout - I was trying to imagine navigation if there hadn't been a road visible under us. There are other places in the world that can provide as much variety in a two hour drive as Arizona, but possible not a lot of them. Which reminds me:

Ten Things I've Done That You Probably Haven't
  • Hiked through a rainforest to get to a glacier.
  • Slept outside on the continent of Antarctica.
  • Traveled on a ship through the Drake Passage
  • Kayaked in fjords on three continents. (Well, technically New Zealand isn't a continent but I suppose you could call it the Asian Pacific.)
  • Stood at the bottom of a Titan missile silo and looked up.
  • Flown in F-16, A-10, Space Shuttle, C-130, and A340 simulators (the high-level ones real pilots and astronauts use to train).
  • Gotten married in Valley Forge
  • Sung at the lighting of the City Hall Christmas tree in Philadelphia.
  • Visited the Demilitarized Zone in Korea
  • Eaten alligator, kangaroo, and rattlesnake.
Posted by dichroic at 12:25 PM | Comments (2)

February 17, 2005

one wasted day

My opinion of the Get Motivated! seminar I went to yesterday? If it comes to your town, don't go. It wasn't even worth getting out of the office for a day. The best thing about it was that I got about 4" done on sock #2, which I had foresightedly cast on the night before because I'm close enough to the end of sock #1 that I was afraid I'd run out of knitting. The final count was as follows:

  • 1 speaker with no focus and several unrelated anecdotes, includingone he nabbed from Robert Fulghum.
  • Two speakers whose entire substance was only a sales pitch for their (several hundred dollar) seminars, phrased so that wasn't obvious until the end of the speech when they revealed the techniques they were discussing could only be used with further training and a $200 web site subscription.
  • Two lousy singers including one who made the national anthem impossible to sing along to, then invited us to sing along with God Bless America and did the same thing to it.
  • Two Christian preachers who totally blindsided me (I was expecting to hear about business, not religion) including the seminar producer who gave a literal out-and-out come-to-Jesus speech, and whose speech involved a lot of annoyingly bad logic, and another who gave us a list of four websites with information "disproving" evolution. (He certainly motivated me .... to walk out of the seminar. I didn't but only becaue we'd carpooled.)
  • One general who gave a speech that was very funny and rah-rah patriotic but which had no content on any of the numerous interesting and useful things he could have discussed about his last campaign.
  • One famous but agedcomedian whose speech was supposed to be about laughter as a business tool but was actually just a stand-up routine.
  • 1 annoyingly perky mistress of ceremonies in an eye-smacking pink suit, running things. (I would have guessed she was on speed, but she and her husband run the seminars so I suspect she was merely buoyed up by the thought of all the profit they were making.)
  • Two speakers I'd actually go hear agin, if I didn't have to sit through the rest of them to do it.

If you ever get a chance, Joe Montana and Rudy Giuliani are worth hearing speak. But if someone invites you to this seminar thing, run away. Or take your something to do and earplugs.

I have certainly learned my lesson, though. When I was invited to this seminar by a coworker, I didn't ask to see the brochure and read through it carefully. Someone told me the brochure did discuss exactly the sort of thing that would be discussed, including the religion, so if I wasted a day, it's my own fault for not checking up more carefully. I suppose this even falls into the "preparation" theme but Montana and Giuliani discussed. Actually, there's a second lesson as well: when stuck in a situation like this, carefully monitor anyone who talks about leaving. My boss and another guy snuck back to work (in the latter's car) while I wasn't watching them

Posted by dichroic at 12:05 PM | Comments (3)

February 15, 2005

I could

I *could* tell them I'm sick and go home. I could I could. I think it's mostly a matter of having eaten too much at (and before) lunch but somehow a nap sounds like the best idea ever right about now...

Posted by dichroic at 02:12 PM

thinking about people

I keep thinking I ought to move this site over to LiveJournal (I do have a blog there but rarely write in it) in order to see if I get more commentary there. Then I keep reminding myself that once I got there I'd still be me. I just don't think I'm the kind of person who everyone loves and reads, either in real life or in my writing voice. (My writing voice is probably closer to the me I am inside my head than the persona you'd meet in the flesh, because of getting to talk about anything I want instead of having to worry about conversing only on topics other people are interested in at that time and place, in short sound bites because that's all there's space to say. Work is for work-talk, rowing is for rowing-talk, airports are for flying-talk, if I ever had time for Stitch'n'Bitch sessions they'd be for knitting talk, and outside that I rarely seem to get to talk to people other than Rudder.)

Anyway, I think it would be fun to be the sort of person who gets hordes of comments on every entry, and constant phone calls in real life. On the other hand, I enjoy being me, too, and wouldn't want to give that up. (Possibly this is the appeal of Multiple Personality Syndrome.) Crankiness has its own satisfaction. Besides, one prerequisite of being widely loved seems to be being the sort of person who likes most people, and I don't. (I do seem to like a higher percentage of people I meet online which tells me that either I'd like people in general more if I knew them better, OR that the sites I read online tend to attract smarter, wittier, and more interesting people. Actually, the latter seems more likely. Also, print is in some ways a better forum for the exchange of complex ideas.)

Another side benefit of not having tons of casual on- and offline friends is that I do really appreciate and cherish the ones I have, which includes all of you who read this or leave notes here. (Spammers excepted. I may be getting mushy but I do have limits.) I love getting to read about the things other people really care about, and the things they're working on as well; it may be a little voyeuristic, but I find I worry when someone disappears, or is obviously unhappy, and I cheer when good things happen to people I read regularly.

Another benefit of blog-reading is the insight into other ways of living. For some reason, polyamory fascinates me - I think it's because in my neo-hippie mind that's more the way life should be. In real life, though, I don't have any great desire to try it out for myself, partly because I'm too lazy and probably too selfish to do it right and partly because, well, see above about not liking enough people. Two things I have noticed, though I haven't collected data on either, and there are plenty of exceptions, is that people who write about being poly seem to be less happy on average and that people who work from home or who don't have jobs seem to get sick more. (If you're thinking you're in one of those categories and I'm wrong, see the part about exceptions. This is just a general impression I've been getting and it doesn't apply to everyone.) The interesting thing about both is I can't tell cause and effect. For example, it could be that some people are more likely to be unhappy for whatever other reason and need to give and receive more love to and from more people to stay on a reasonable keel, that they'd be unhappier monogamous. Or it could be a system that can breed more happiness and more unhappiness both, depending on the people and the situation involved. And the health thing could be that people who go out less develop fewer immunities or it could be that people who have more health problems are more likely to work from home or quit their jobs because they have to. (This does apply to at least two people I read regularly.) Finally, it could be that there's no correlation in either case but that people tend to need to vent about problems and are less likely to write when things are going well because that's the normal state, or that I notice problems more and so get a false impression. Whatever, it's interesting to think about blog sociology and to see trends and connections.

And I think when they taught me statistics, they ruined me for being judgemental.

Posted by dichroic at 12:11 PM | Comments (2)

February 14, 2005

sweet nothings

Valentines' Day isn't a big thing at my house, not least because the letter "r" is about the only thing Rudder and romantic have in common. We usually exchange cards, and we typically go out for dinner on the weekend closest to V-Day but then we go out for dinner on the weekend closest to everything else, too. On Friday, Rudder gave me chocolate-covered strawberries that he'd intended to save for V-day because they came with a note saying "best if consumed within 48 hours". (He admitted the strawberries were because he still feels guilty for Xmas, a stratey that would have worked better if I were particularly fond of chocolate-covered strawberries. Still, nice thought.)

On Saturday, it was cloudy again and Rudder had flying time scheduled. I went along both in case there was anything I could learn and because I get a lot of knitting or napping (but not both) done in the back seat. He'd never gotten actual instrument time before, a lack which apparently became much more urgent after I got some on Thursday. The clouds were clearing near us, but there was still cloud cover to the north and south. At the CFI's suggestion, he ended up canceling the original idea of doing instrument landings at local airports in favor of a cross-country to Tucson, and did end up getting an hour or so in the clouds. We'd left late due to having to plan the cross-country, and it took longer than the originally intended plans. Also, I hadn't eaten much that day and the emergency Powerbar in Rudder's flight bag was fossilized, so by the time we got back I was starving. I figured Rudder would be hungry too, and too tired for our originally scheduled mall trip followed by dinner at the fish place near it, so I offered to treat Rudder to a steak to celebrate his first true instrument flying. He agreed, though we did end up paying for it from the household account after all.

On Sunday afternoon, we proceeded with the mall / fish restaurant thing. (It's a really fatiguing mall, full of flashing lights and hordes of people, including lots of small children to trip over. It's a much more tiring place to shop at than our local mall, but it's an outlet place and I needed hose. And while I'm in parenthesis, I might as well admit that all of the previous drivel was just to explain why we went out for dinner twice in a row, so it wouldn't sound as if we were that spoiled.) During dinner, between craning our heads to watch the person making goofy hats out of balloons, I asked Rudder if that dinner counted as our Valentine dinner or the previous day's steaks. He said, "The steak place - that's at least a little more romantic."

I answered, "Well, it might have been, if you hadn't spent half of dinner analyzing the restaurant's order-taking system." (Yes, he is even geekier than I am - I didn't complain that we'd spent the other half of the time discussing flying.)

He said, "Well, here then," and mouthed noiselessly at me.

I guessed, "Sweet nothings?"


"But how can I tell they're sweet?"

"Because I said them!"

Oig. Also yeesh.

So anyway, this morning while he was showering, I wrote out my card for him. I wrote,

_ . _..
.. ._.. _ _ _ ..._ . _._ _ _ _ _ .._ _.._ _ _ _ _.._ _ _ _
Then I drew a buble around it, labeled it "Sweet nothings", and left it where he'll find it tonight if not this morning.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that last night, we were talking about the Morse code identifiers used in flight navigational aids. Serve him right when he has to go look up the code.

Posted by dichroic at 12:07 PM

February 11, 2005

channeling Langston and Lindy

"Dona nobis pacem" says the old song: Give us peace, give us peace, give us peace.

But peace is not a thing to be given.
Peace is taken. Peace is earned,
Peace is held and peace is painfully made.

Peace is forged in the fire of a fierce determination,
Folded layers of decisions hammered for strength
With will.

Peace is built stick by stick,
Peace is balanced, stone on stone,
Stone on unthrown stone.
Peace is fitted together, each part slotted in
Where a place is found.

Peace is not poured in a pure stream from above;
Peace is built up from the ground by those who need its shelter most,
Holding it up,
Shoring it up,
Improvising as they build,
And propping where it starts to sag.

Peace is not the gift of gods or governments.
Peace is earned at the price of sweat, steel will,
Skill, care, unconfidence
And need.

That felt good. It's been a long, long while since I was able to write any poetry except by forcing it, a method guaranteed to produce nothing but doggerel (though still useful for practice). The beginning of this one came to me, though, when I was listening, ecstatic, to news of the Israeli/Palestinian ceasefire, and then, deflated, to the Israeli comment that the ceasefire depended on the Palestinians to maintain it. (Translation: one rebel throws one stone, or one renegade plants one bomb, and thwe're sending the army back in. Given the difficulty of controlling a whole population, I hope I'm mistranslating here.) Maybe because he cared about peace too, but I felt like I was channelling Langston Hughes as this thing above spoke in my head, with its pounding carpenter rhythm. (Or maybe that was Jimmy Carter, but he's not dead yet.) Of course, the words and the finishing still had to come through me, so I'm not blaming any lack of quality in this on Hughes. But it surely did feel good to have it come to me.

I did end up flying yesterday - and I got actual! (That means flying in actual instrument conditions, with a clearance, talking to Center, and the whole bit.) The wind wasn't bad but there was rain and low clouds. Once we were off the ground and I saw how bad the visibility was, I started worrying I wouldn't be able to see the runway well enough to land - fortunately I could once we were down to 1000 feet height-above-ground or so, but we did quite a bit of flying in the clouds with NO visibility at all. My instructor didn't even have me put on a hood (really a visor, worn so you can't look out and can see only the instrument panel). It was some scary shit, especially on the way back when Phx Approach was supposed to be vectoring us and didn't say anything for a very very long time. That was because they didn't need to, since we were heading straight for our home airport on a VOR radial, but the thing is they didn't say anything to anyone else either, which means there's no way to tell that the radios haven't gone out. Which would suck fairly hard in those conditions.

So yeah, it was scary to the point of pounding head and dropping pit of stomach. Of course that's not entirely rational; I had a CFI with me and my instruments were working fine. But they can break, and I'm not comfortable yet with what to do if they did, and anyway, instrument flying is inherently not a safe thing to do. There are mountains out there, and my little Cessna doesn't have a collision warning system to detect them. (Ironic, since that's one thing my company makes.) I do have a GPS with them programmed in, but again, the pit of my stomach doesn't know from GPSes.

I kept telling myself it was good to be doing this now, while there's a CFI along and I'm training in familiar territory, than to encounter it for the first time alone in a strange area. Here, at worst, we could have gone down low and found our way home by following roads and landmarks. Rudder pointed out that also, this is a good time in my training to do this because now some of the other tactics I'll be learning will be extremely memorable. (What to do if the radios go out, for instance.) The pit of my stomach doesn't listen to him, either.

Good experience, though. (I tell myself again.) Next time it will be much less scary. And one good thing was proving again that I'm not ruled by the pit of my stomach, because I flew well, nailed the ILS approach at Casa Grande (best one I've done yet) and did two landings so good the instructor was impressed. There's nothing like a bit of motivation to do it right, I guess.

Posted by dichroic at 12:19 PM | Comments (1)

February 10, 2005

tut, tut, looks like rain

Well, today's customer meeting went well and even ended earlier than expected. Yay. The simulator was booked for tonight so I'm scheduled to be flying an actual airplane after work - I usually try not to because flying instruments is hard enough without doing it at the end of a workday. I have a funny feeling it might not happen, though, due to the amount of wind. I was going to call and ask the FBO so I wouldn't have to leave work early only to find out I wasn't flying. (And bear in mind the airport is only five minutes from my house, so it's not like I'd be driving across town.) Luckily, a jolt of common sense hit me before I dialed; still, it scares me that I even thought of the idea of calling ahead "so I wouldn't have to leave work early unnecessarily".

Posted by dichroic at 03:50 PM | Comments (1)

February 08, 2005

too much caffeine

I must have gotten enough sleep or something. I'm feeling relatively productive today. Unfortunately the boss appears to have gotten even more sleep plus a large amount of caffeine. Yikes. Now if only he'd read the emails in order...

On the sock issue, I concluded from responses in the Knitlist that Cascade can shrink so knitting with it stretched out was a bad idea. I frogged the sock all the way back to the first few rows. Sigh. At least I'm getting a more reasonable gauge so it's going a wee bit faster now.

Back to work.

Posted by dichroic at 12:49 PM

February 07, 2005

football: sigh. Knitting: sigh. flying: not bad.

So, about them Eagles: sigh. Disappointing but no big surprise. Being a Philly fan is generally a lot like being a Red Sox fan, pre-2004.

The socks I am knitting are getting very much on my nerves, because they're taking SO FREAKING long - I started them last weekend and now I'm only about 4.5" in and I have to go retrieve yet ANOTHER dropped stitch when I get home. I know the reasons it's taking so long, but can't do much about it unless I frog the whole thing. 1) They're in Cascade Fixation and since I knew socks are supposed to be densely knitting, I'm knitting with the elastic stretched out and even with the size 5 needles I'm using, that gives me a gauge of around 7.5 sts and 13 rows per inch. The entire reason I selected Cascade as my first sock yarn was so I could use bigger needles, be able to see my stitches, and have it go faster. Sigh. (I've also just been told it shrinks a bit so this was probably not the best idea I've ever had. However, there's still tons of stretch in the sock.) 2) Since the Lorna's Laces yarn that was supposed to become socks for Rudder after I finished the Cascade ones for me turned out to be pinker than expected, he asked for the Cascade yarn instead. Since this is for him, I'm going back and ripping out rows when necessary to correct small defects, like loose stitches that leave small holes in the sock. Not that he'd complain, but he has tender feet and wouild probably not wear them if they're not comfortable.

Why is sock-knitting supposed to be so much fun? I'm not getting it.

On the other hand, I did my first ILS approaches in the airplane yesterday (I'd done one in the simulator last week) and they went fairly well. I'm a lot more comfortable flying these days, finally. If I can't be domestic at least I can be good at something. (Though also, the pot of chili I made yesterday to eat during the week came out reasonably well, if possibly a little heavy on the tomato sauce. So I'm not a complete failure, domestically speaking.)

Posted by dichroic at 12:50 PM | Comments (2)

February 06, 2005

the who from where?

Actual conversation, at work on Friday:

Me: So, will you be rooting for the Eagles Sunday?

Coworker: I dunno...... who are they playing?

Me: The New England Patriots.

Coworker: They're playing an international team???

The mind reels .... just so wrong, on many levels. Even worse was the part where she said, "Wait, I know my geography and there's no state called New England!"

Posted by dichroic at 01:58 PM | Comments (2)

February 04, 2005

Philly Girl sez:

Almost forgot to say: sorry, Patriots fans, but GO EAGLES!!!!!

Posted by dichroic at 02:09 PM

too long in the spotlight

Whew. Well, that's over. The conference was trememndouly useful, there was a lot of interesting informaiton and I got to meet quite a few people I had only spoken to on the phone, as well as a few I didn't know at all. I think I'm in a position where a lot of people are as eager to meet me as I am to meet them, which made things a lot easier. Also, my presentation went fairly well; a few people went out of their way to tell me I did well and a few others gave me some useful information.

You know what, though? Being professional and charming and nice to everyone is just downright tiring. Obviously it doesn't come naturally to me. It's a funny thng, too: most people who know me would say I'm an extrovert, and I always score ENTP on Myers-Briggs tests, I don't have a fear of big groups, and I find it fairly easy to talk to strangers, but I think I do need down time to recharge. I can't be "on" all the time for too long without getting itchy. Also, since there were evening activities on Tuesday, Wednesday AND Thursday that all ran late enough that I went home and straight to bed afterwards, I had no time at all to read, talk to Rudder, knit, or stare aimlessly into space. Going too long without reading, especially makes me uncomfortable, like someone with Tourette's Syndrome trying not to twitch. Unfortunately I have a flying lesson after today's workday, but after that I can finally go home and not do much of anything.

At leawst not until tomorrow when I have to row, take the cats for their shots (yuck) and get my hair cut.

Posted by dichroic at 01:41 PM

February 01, 2005

cons and chiros

Updates here may be sparse in the next few days I have a conference. It's local for me, but people are coming in from all over the world, and I have to go network, give a presentation, impress the bigwigs, and all that. (Yeah, I know - it sounds so corporate. I may even wear an actual suit tomorrow, albeit my trendy one with the long jacket. 2002 trendy, anyway - not much of a fashionista, me.)

I went to a chiropractor yesterday for a free assessment and checkup, and am thinking about starting a program with them. I'd love feedback from anyone who's been to one. I'm a little leery, because I've heard some unflattering opinions of chiropractry from doctors, and becaue my few forays into alternative medicine to date have been unrewarding (except massage, which is its own reward). Also, they set off my scam sensors when they added up my health insurance copayments and deductible and offered a 40% discount is I prepaid for the 21 sessions they estimated I'd need. On the plus side, $366 doesn't sound unreasonable for 21 sessions (of course, then there's whatever they bill my insurance), they admitted it might take more or fewer sessions, I like that they have me doing stretching and strengthening exercises, the place and people seem nice and sincere, and the coach at rowing camp opined that chiropractic treatment can be valuable for rowers. Also, it is undeniably true that my spine curves in one dimension so that my head is held a little to the left, and does not curve as it's supposed to in another so that my head is thrust forward a little more than it should be. I've seen this in posture checks over the years, in this chiro's X-rays, and in a doctor's X-rays of my spine a few years ago. And I figure have my spine go the way it's supposed to can only be good for rowing purposes, not to mention avoiding back problems later.

As I said, I'd really appreciate feedback from anyone who's been to a chiro and been helped or not helped by it.

Later note: A little due diligence informs me that I may be going to a chiropractor, but tno this chiropractor. They neglected to mention that they're not in-network for my insurance - in this case, the co-pays are probably less in- and out-of-network chiros (hard to tell, becaue in one case it's $30 and in the other it's 70%) and there's no deductible for in-network. Not a trivial difference. However, it turns out there are 23 chiros in my network within 5 miles of my house so if I decide to do this, it shouldn't be impossible to find an honest one. I should also state that, though my spine isn't quite where it should be, I have no back pain or other problems.

Little progress on the socks, probably because I have a fear of holes in them and so am holding the Fixation yarn (which is cotton with elastic in it) stretched tightly as I knit. I also have some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn fot future socks and even though it's nominally a finer gauge and I'll knit it with size 2 needles instead of the current size 5, I have a feeling it will knit up a little bigger for me. Or maybe not. I'm knitting the current ones toe-up, with a figure-eight cast-on, which I think is not usually the way people do their first socks but oh well. I also don't think knitting is quite as hard to figure out as some people seem to -- I see a lot of questions on the Knitlist to which my first answer would be either "try it and see" or "do the math" -- though I have a long way until I can do anything really complex. Another thing I want to try is Peace Fleece; some of their colors would be beautiful in a sweater and I want to support their principles. But that will have to wait until after at least some of the four projects I either have on the needles or have planned and bought yarn for are done. (Fixation ribbed socks for Rudder, in progress; Lorna's Laces socks for me, planned; cable scarf for my uncle which may not go to him until next Chanukah, in progress; sleeveless cotton sweater for me, about 4" in and put aside months ago to work on winter things. Maybe I need a sidebar here listing projects.)

Posted by dichroic at 12:22 PM | Comments (10)

January 31, 2005

anniversary week

It's funny how something can be all over the news for weeks, and then sink like a stone in still water. Once the ripples are gone, no one remembers unless it's personal. For me, these are a little personal and I want to bring them back to public memory. The deaths of a few explorers who knew the risks they took are not much compared to death tolls of unsuspecting innocents in Indonesia, but in another way, every single death is an equivalent tragedy, to those involved in mankind. The cllustering of these, three accidents in a week, is especially painful:

January 27, 1967: Apollo 1 explodes on the ground, killing 3 astronauts.

January 28, 1986: Space Shuttle Challenger explodes during liftoff, killing 7 astronauts.

February 1, 2003: Space Shuttle Columbia explodes during re-entry, killing 7 astronauts.

Here are all their names. There are so many stories along with those people: Grissom's near-drowning on only the second US space flight ever, the Teacher in Space program that put MacAuliffe on Challenger and, most horribly, many students right there to watch her death, the Holocaust-era drawing by a young boy who died in the concentration camps, that burned up along with Ilan Ramon on Columbia. Too many stories. The good news though, news that would have gratified all 17 of those astronauts even if they had known their fate in advance, is that we're going back up. NASA is taking safety precautions, and they have stocked the next mission with some top people. (Actually, all US astronauts are top people. I don't know what the selection process is like in other countries, but NASA has their pick of some incredible people, and they do pick them.) With luck, the next mission will launch at the beginning of May. With a little more luck and a whole lot of contingency planning, these astronauts will return home safely and with new knowledge.

Posted by dichroic at 08:56 AM

January 28, 2005

Annoying People, Type #3674

Annoying People, Type #3674

You know how some people will repeat what you're saying as you're saying it? I think it's a way to chime in and agree, to confirm they're hearing you, or somehting like that. Actually I don't find that all that annoying, unless it's done all the time /gritting teeth. However, yesterday in a class I saw that taken to a new level of obnoxiousness. There was a woman in the row in front of me who was chiming in along with the teacher. Frequently. And when she wasn't doing that, she was nodding or saying little encourgaing things: "Yup. That's right. I see that all the time." And when she wasn't doing that she was asking him questions, roughly three times as many as the rest of us put together, and when she wasn't doing that she was talking to the coworkers on either side of her. I think the man on her left was her boss; if I had been him I'd have been mortified. Oh and also, she laughed at all her own jokes, though no one else did.

The funny thing is that none of that would have been particularly obnoxious or even noticeable in a one-on-one discussion. In the class, though, it gave the impression that she thought she was in a private discussion, with no thought to the rest of us who were there and had paid to hear the instructor. Grr. I'm almost glad I didn't have a business card to give her when she asked. (My cards finally came in today, fortunately, becaue I'll need them next week.)

Here's one thing about being a new knitter: when you want to order online, you've never heard of any of the stores before. (Well, except eBay, and most of their things seem to be large lots of yarn. I'm not really up to sweaters yet) There are yarn stores in my city, but the nearest is a half hour away and I don't always have time to go - no time during the week and weekends are really the only time I can spend time with Rudder (when we're both awake). So I've been watching blogs and the Knitlist for mentions of purchases from online stores and noting when people seem to be happy with them, and also noting when Knitlisters are affiliated with those stores. (Somehow it seems reassuring that there's a real live person there.)

I'm guessing other people do the same, so I'd like to report that I've just made my first online yarn purchase, from Lamb's Ear Farm and was very happy with it. I ordered on Saturday, it was shipped Monday, and I received it on Wednesday. Also, Roxi was very prompt in emailing me when there was a question with my order (due to my typo) and in answering my questions. Also, the have a great selection and all of their yarns/colors are can be seen on the website. I'm sure I'll order from other sources as well (I'm interested in trying Elann and Knitpicks, for their low prices) but I'll definitely also be going back to Lamb's Ear for their selection, shipping and service.

I have no affiliation with any of the companies mentioned here, just wanted to share my experience because other peoples' have been so helpful to me.

Posted by dichroic at 12:43 PM | Comments (2)

January 26, 2005


I came on this link to the Implicit Association Test over at Scalzi's place. It's designed to show if you have unconscious biases for or against a group. (If you take one of the initial tests, designed to show prejudice linking gender to family/career or for or against fat people vs thin people or black people vs white people, you can then click on Measure Your Attitudes and select other tests, including a bunch about politics and religion. So far, it's shown that I have a moderately strong association between women and families and men and careers, no prejudice toward fat vs. thin people, a moderate preference for Judaism vs. other religions, and a moderate preference for black faces vs. white faces. Aside from the preference toward Judaism, and possibly the female/family connection, those results are not what I'd have expected and I wonder if it's really just showing I have a preference for right vs. left. Still, the tests do try to control for that.

(I'm human. I do have prejudices. I just try not to act unjustly because of them.) Anyway, the test is interesting and at least worth thinking about.

I had somewhere I wanted to go with this but can't remember it now. Incidentally, entries here may be a bit sparser than usual for the next little bit; I have training all day tomorrow and a conference part of next week. Meanwhile, my ends are splitting and I haven't had time to schedule a haircut. Cool Salon Guy is now Cool Work-at-Home Guy - he cuts hair out of his house since the salon he worked at closed, and unfortunately his house is a bit further for me. I keep debating whether to keep going to him; not only is it an issue of loyalty but I always enjoy talking to him and he knows how to cut my hair. On the other hand the drive is inconvenient and it just feels odd - not unsafe, just odd - to go to his house. I'll probably do what I've been doing: go to him and put the decision off another month.

Posted by dichroic at 12:24 PM | Comments (1)

January 25, 2005

Cool water

Chalk up one more reason to be glad I work here instead of at my old site. For what's supposed to be one company, there are a lot of odd little differences between the two sites. One of them is that there are bottled-water water coolers all over the place here; at the North site there are almost none - a few unfiltered fountains and one or two coolers that filter tap water, scattered over two enormous buildings. (To understand why all this really matters, you have to know that Phoenix-area tap water is undrinkable. I'm not fussy: I'll drink tap water in Philadelphia, Houston, Boston, San Diego, LA and pretty much anywhere else I've ever been including cities where many other people insist on bottled water, but the stuff here tastes nasty.)

I don't know if it's been on the national news, but apparently 3 of the city of Phoenix's water processing plants are down and one of the two remaining ones is working at half capacity. There's still water, but it may be contaminated and should be boiled before drinking. Apparently this problem arose because - wait for it - with all the rain up north some silt washed into the system and gunked it all up. (I wonder what they think people in other places, where rain is a normal occurrance, do?) I don't imagine many Phoenicians were thrilled to wake up and be told not to shower or to "shower very quickly" this morning. Fortunately I live in another contiguous city - especially fortunate since I was halfway through an erg workout when I found this out. However, both my current and former worksite are within the city of Phoenix.

I'm still on the e-mail list for my old site, so I was amused to be notified (not until after lunch, mind you) that they company would be supplying bottled water in the cafeteria for free - but the urged employees to be considerate of others and not take more than a bottle or two. Yikes. Here they just told us not to use the sinks, presumably in case someone wanted to lick their hands after washing them. (To be fair, some people do brush their teeth with that water after lunch.) But they left us bottles of hand sanitizer!

The funny thing is, normally our water is cheaper and we have restrictions more rarely than places that aren't nine years into a drought in the desert. (We don't know yet if this year's rains will be enough to end the drought - or rather, I suppose the drought is technically gone but water levels are still way low. Stay tuned.)

Posted by dichroic at 02:56 PM | Comments (3)

January 24, 2005


I think I'm in a holding pattern right now - rowing camp's over and I've got nothing exciting coming up unless you count a local work conference next week or a birthday in six weeks (a little too far away for even me to get exceited about yet.) Various stuff, good, bad and confusing happened otherwise.

The lake has reopened as of Saturday, but it's only open from dawn to dusk so I can't go back to regular training even if I wanted to. However, I was noticing my thighs touching as I walked today - not sure if they're actually bigger or if it's just that I've been wearing pants mostly instead of skirts, but either way it's an reminder that I should be doing a little more than the current low level of exercise. Rudder and I did go out rowing on Saturday; the lake water was brown and muddy, with trash washed up on shore, but beautifully calm. I just did one lap lightly, working on all the technique changes from camp.

Yesterday he went out rowing again while I went flying - She-Hulk came along to ride with me because she's been wanting to learn to fly and wanted to see what it was like. Unfortunately, since I hadn't flown in two weeks I kept overshooting my turns and having to tilt back the other way, which got her a little - not queasy, but on the edge of it. On the other hand I was flying under the hood, using instrument techniques, so all turns and changes in altitude were very slow and gentle and I made two excellent landings. In other words, aside from a little bit of turbulence, this was about as gentle as flight in a small plane is likely to be. Still, you do feel turbulence more in a small plane than a big one, and she was in the back seat which moves more in turns and from which visibility is more limited. I htink she liked it otherwise, and I suspect that in the front seat she'd have no issues - and of course more experience and being in control herself will both help. I do hope she decides to learn to fly.

I did get down to the decrease section on Clapotis but have put it aside for a few days. I only had one remaining ball of yarn which I'd taken a bit out of the middle of to match colors in an earlier section. I used part of it that matched onto the last bit well enough, but to go to my remaining bit I'd have had to do a transition from lime green directly to turquoise (it's supposed to go lime->olive->shamrock green->turquoise) and it looked too abrupt. I wasn't at all sure I had enough yarn to finish and had ordered an extra skein from Lamb's Ear Farm on Saturday so I'll have to wait. The people at Lamb's Ear seem very responsive and I know they're going to ship it today; I just hope it gets here quickly. Meanwhile I do have a few other things to work on.

The new bed has arrived safely and I can now sit up and read or knit comfortably in bed. It does rather, er, dominate the room, though. If I ever decide to hold court from bed (was it Louis XVI who did that?) I now have the platform from which to do it, though it's dubious how many courtiers would fit into our room now. The only real drawback to having a headboard when I'm not used to one is that now when I roll over, if my arms are above my head I'm apt to bang on it accidentally and I'm always afraid I'll wake Rudder.

Possible TMI below cut tag.

I'd been feeling a little odd lately - sort of a pre-period feeling in a post-period week; some of you will know what I mean. Combine that with the very light flow I'd had week before last, and, well, what LA had put into my head, and I figured I'd try something I'd always been a little curious about. One line showed. I can now confirm (at least, I presume I can) that pregancy tests do work even when you're on the pill (and, as always, that the pill really does work, but the past half of my life has been ample confirmation of that.

I'm oddly disappointed, somehow, slightly, and a little wistful. On the other hand, when I imagine how I'd feel if someone said, "You're fired and you'll never have a decent job again," I feel as if I'd been punched in the solar plexus and branded a terrible failure for life. If the pill did turn out not to be foolproof, I might not be aghast, but I think this is my brain's way of telling me which path I ought to take as long as I get to choose.

Another thing: I think if I did ever get pregnant under these circumstances (38 years old and on the pill) I'd be at such high risk that I wouldn't tell anyone but Rudder for a very long time - not even you virtual people out there in the electrons. It would be such high-risk and if I did miscarry far too many people I know, both IRL and on the web, would be hurt, either from reliving their own disappointments or from being happy about it and then having to realign emotions. But anyway, I'm not.

Posted by dichroic at 02:51 PM | Comments (2)

January 21, 2005

monsters under the bed

We ended up deciding on this bed rather than the leather one - partly so we don't have to worry as much about cat damage but mostly because we were worried about how well the other would go with the rest of our furniture, which is in Federal-to-Early Victorian cherry. (Repros, not antiques.) It's being delivered today. (yay!) So last night, Rudder wanted us to clean out under the bed before anyone saw it (anyone being delivery people, I suppose). Technically, I think he wanted me to clean it out, since he had a lake users' meeting after work. I took a look when I got home and it didn't look too bad - I cleared out a couple of pieces of junk and resolved to run a vacuum by the head and foot ends before I went to bed, figuring I'd let the deliverers of the new bed take apart the old frame.

When I got around to that, however ... oof. I had forgotten how much time the cats spend under the bed. Also, apparently our cleaning services gives people instructions that start with "Remember this isn't YOUR house. People that hire cleaning services are all slobs so you don't have to clean under or behind anything." (We'd been considering changing services, because they also seem to skip the erg room and their dusting tends to miss some areas.) I don't expect them to vauum the whole area under the bed, but they could do a lot better around the edges.

Vacuuming the foot end wasn't bad - we tend to stack workout gear there, so there were some fuzzies, but not too much. AT the other end, though, I had to push the bed out from the wall to get the vacuum in. By the time the space was wide enough, the boxsprings were falling off the fram (it's a king bed so there are two) and the further I pushed the bed out the worse it looked. Finally I leaned the mattress against the wall, took the boxsprings and stashed them in the hallway, and took the frame apart. (Of course Rudder got home just too late to help life the mattress.) Vacuuming it all up took one change of bag and several stops to clear cat hair from the vacuum beater brush.

Buying new furniture is a useful prod to deep cleaning. And stop looking at me like that. Don't tell me you regularly vacuum under the middle of king-sized beds either.

In other news, I broke down and made my first chiropractor appointment today. There's nothing particularly wrong, but the coach at rowing camp recommended it for rowers. At work today they had a car show for employee's cars - don't ask me how someone here affords a Lamborghini, but there were also lots of70s muscle cars, a couple of Model A's, some chopped and lowered street rods, '57 Chevys, a couple of race cars, and so on. I think my favorite was the VW Beetle converted to an off-road car - I don't think they kept anything but the sheet-metal. Anyway, they had free 5 minute massages, and one of Dichroic's Rules of Living is 43. Never pass up a free massage. It turned out they were from a chiropractor, and I figured my company would have made sure they were at least reputable. Maybe they'll know how to correct my curving spine and I'll instantly grow two inches.

Hey, it could happen.

Posted by dichroic at 01:12 PM | Comments (3)

January 20, 2005


Hello, my name is Dichroic and I am a procrastinator. I tend to get behind on things and lose track - or not lose track and then there's always that niggling guilt. It's even stupider when it's a pleasant task I procrastinate on.

All of which is to explain why I'm only now writing an entry to say why Keilyn rocks. I'm tempted just to write, "Well, duh." Obviously I think she's got great taste, because we have so many of the same interests - that's why she started commenting here in the first place. Of the things we don't have in common, some of her hobbies (like the SCA) are ones I've always had a tangential interest in and I think some of mine (rowing) are ditto for her. I've only recently started reading her LiveJournal (which I won't link because she hasn't linked it here) and she seems to be an interesting person in the view I get from that, as well. Also, once she commented here we corresponded a bit and found the coolest coincidence I've seen all year: we'd never met but her junior high best friend was one of my best friends in high school.

A lot of people seem to look back on their youth as a time of idiocy. In a recent comment on WeirdJews, someone wrote (not to me), "You are a goddamned idiot. Now, let's prove this mathmatically: take your age- subtract 10 from it. Were you a goddamed idiot back then? Of course you were! And you're just as big of a goddamed idiot right now - it'll just take you 10 years to figure it out." (That would be why I just set up an age poll on that community. I had a feeling few people past their 20s would write that.) Anyway, my first reaction was, "But I wasn't an idiot at nearly 28." On the other hand I don't think I was an idiot at nearly 18, or nearly 8, either - inexperienced, but not stupid or even terribly thoughtless. And I don't think my friends then were either - we might have been intense and inclined to take everything with the Utmost Seriousness, but no, not stupid, and not totally devoid of judgement either.

Wheer I'm going with this is that my high school friend certainly had good judgement in people; at last report she's still married to her boyfriend from back then - who incidentally may be the single smartest person I've ever met and who was also good friends with Keilyn. And good people don't generally age into not-good people - I suppose it could happen, but I think it would be fairly visible if it did. So despite a very slight acquaintance, I know Keilyn rocks, because I knew M and J and they knew her - and thought she rocked. Good enough evidence for me.

Maybe someday we can dig up M and J and all get together on one of my infrequent East Coast trips - now that would really rock.

Posted by dichroic at 12:34 PM | Comments (1)

January 14, 2005

rowing camp

I've got the usual pre-travel jitters, leading to agitation over such earth-shattering questions as: will I regret having chili for lunch on this afternoon's 6-hour drive? Will the scheduled 2-3 rows/day be too much, leading to shredded hands and an exhausted body? And how do we get to the boathouse in San Diego, anyhow?

Nevermind, it'll be fun - the chili will behave (probably), most of the rowing won't be very strenuous, and at least I can do something about that last one. And I get to spend a nice weekend with people I like on the water in Mission Bay. Sunshine is predicted for the weekend, and warm but not too warm temperatures. Saturday night we're feeding spaghetti to everyone in the rowing camp and we'll get to meet more people to hang out with when we travel to races. With luck I'll get both some ideas for maintenance training and then some help for when/if I get back into competition. I'll get a lot done on Clapotis on the drive. It will be good.

Posted by dichroic at 12:16 PM

January 13, 2005

improved feed and what to put in it

OK, I've gotten my RSS feed set so now you can read the full text of this at Livejournal (at Dichroic2) or Bloglines or wherever. (Though as Natalie points out the atom.xml feed already did have full text.)

Now, of course, the challenge would be to write things anyone actually wants to read.

For the knitters: Clapotis is now officially half-done - I'm half through the 7th of the 13 repeats in the middle section. However, the beginning took me a long time to figure out and it seems to be speeding up as I go, so I don't think it will take as long to do the second half. Also, I've got about 12 hours in the car this weekend, which should contribute enormously to available knitting time. (And motivation.)

Rowing: Those 12 hours will be spent getting to and from San Diego for rowing camp - this is run every year by Pattie Pinkerton, the USD womens' rowing coach and former Australian national team coach. We haven't gone before because the last two years we had only just gotten back from travel and didn't want to head out again, but this will be She-Hulk's third time and she's really liked it. Rudder and I both wimped out on working out again today (I did erg yesterday) so I'm a little worried I'll be too tired for some of the three on-the-water sessions a day the schedule shows, but we'll see. I keep reminding myself I did a marathon only two months ago and finished 200 km only two weeks ago and can't really be all that out of shape. I think I'll tell Patty I'm pulling back for this year and ask her to help me figure out a maintenance progam so I won't be too rusty or out of shape when / if I am ready to come back to it.

Also, this year I intend to keep logging workouts here but I won't be joining Fivehundred again unless I have a reason to set some distance-related goal sometime later this year. I made my 500 mile goal in 2003 (actually, I completed about 800 miles) and my 1000 mile goal last year. I don't need it for motivation; the need to train if I'm competing takes care of that, and if I'm not competing I don't think I need a distance goal. Still, it's a good site and anyone working on a fitness goal ought to consider it - it can be very helpful to have your numbers out there for the world to see.

Flying:I'm just under 20 hours into training now, working on VOR approaches and holds. The minimum training required for an IFR is 40 hours, but I'll take a lot more than that because at the beginning I had to spend a lot of time just burnishing off the rust - flying is definitely something that only shines in use - and because I need to build up a lot of time X-country time to meet the 50-hour requirement for the IFR rating.

Of course it's never a competition but all the same I was very disappointed, yesterday when I was reading the list of people who'd earned ratings at my school, to see the name of someone I don't respect much who had earned a private pilot rating in late 2003 and an IFR only 5 months later. I'm leff than halfway in and I've worked on this since September. There are lots of reasons: work (he had a much more flexible job), travel, racing, Christmas holidays, and so on, and if there's anything stupider than comparing yourself to someone else on this I don't know what it is (well, I can thin k of a few things :-) but still, it leaves me feeling I should do better.

Guilt can be useful. At least it nagged me into doing some of the reading/studying for this I'd been neglecting.

Politics: I heard something on BBC radio news yesterday that had me growling. Yesterday a plane 3 hours out of England, flying to NYC, was turned back because there was a man on board whose name was on the do-not-fly list. The pilot was told the man wouldn't be allowed to land in the US and so he had to turn the whole plane around. Correction: he chose to turn the whole plane arund and fly back to London. But they gave him the option to land in Bangor, Maine instead.


So is Maine now not part of the US? Or does the FAA just not care what happens up there?

More to the point, why could they have not just had someone meet the plane and question the man, especially given the number of mistakes there have been over that list? Clearly they weren't to worried about the man taking over the plane or they wouldn't have given the pilot the Maine option - at 747 speeds, you're not *that* far from some major targets. I really really hate when my country makes itself look that stupid.

Work: I'm beginning to feel more productive lately, and that I'm starting to learn what I need to do here. Now I need to go from there and start getting a lot more done - it's easy to get in bad habits when you don't have enough to do or you seem to be floating aimlessly. Enough of that.

Plans & Goals: I've been seeing a few 101 in 1001 lists lately on various websites - 101 things you'd like to accomplish in 1001 days. I'm flummoxed at the idea of having 101 goals - either they'd have to be mostly tiny ones, or else I'd feel uselessly overwhelmed. Also, I really have little idea of what I want to be doing three years from now. Most of my goals are limited to the next year or even next few months or else they're vaguer lifetime things I just want to do at some indeterminate time. Here are a few things I do know.

In the next year, I'd like to: knit some socks including some well-done enough for Rudder to wear (because he likes them, not just because I made them). Knit myself a sweater or two, including one with sleeves. Finish my IFR and stay current. Get a lot more comfortable flying, including long-distance flying. Get to the point where both I and my boss think I am good at my job. Stay reasonably fit. Get my finances back in shape - this IFR has led to credit card debt and I need to stop that.

In the next three years: Move OUT OF ARIZONA finally (or at least out of the hot part of it) and maybe even out of the country for a year or two. (Or the international part could come later - no rush there.) Either get back into competitive rowing or move on into some other sport. Keep flying. Get better at saving / investing. Keep gaining increasingly responsible work experience.

In the next decade: build a house or at least a hangar with an apartment on our airpark property. Buy a plane. Figure out a direction to go careerwise and move on it, or else shift careers entirely (but to what?). Take a year or half-year off just to travel around the country. Widen and deepen my circle of friends. Keep working on that tact thing. Find people to sing with. (Not perform, or necessarily even sing well - just sing.)

I could probably come up with 101 goals, but for a lfietime, not just in the next 101 days. One thing that did occur to me is that, if I could persuade Rudder to do it, we ought to look into joining the local SCA. I think he's afraid the people would be too loopy for him (whereas I'd expect to find the sort of F&SF people I've always enjoyed, though I'd expect some loopy types too even from my viewpoint) , and he's never found the local RenFaire more than mildly entertaining. But I think it would solve some of our problems: a new circle of people to meet, swordplay for a new physical activity, people for me to sing with, fun things like catapults and trebuchets for him to build. And people for me to talk history with. I don't know much about the local branch though - I know there is one but not how big or how fun, how open to playing with stereotypes or hung up on authenticity, or how friendly. It might be interesting to check out sometime, though. Another one for the "sometime" list.

Hmm. It can certainly be debated whether I'm entertaining (or just prone to logorrhea) but no one can say I'm not offering variety: blogging, knitting, rowing, flying, life goals, SCA-ding, and even a gratuitous Tennyson reference. (Virtual prizes for identifying it.)

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

January 11, 2005

tree-huggers united

I'm not usually a big of "art installations", but I love this one.

Posted by dichroic at 10:07 AM

January 10, 2005

oh, Pooh!

Saw this at Batten's place:

You are Pooh Bear.
Indulgence is not a bad word as far as you're
concerned, your confidence in being yourself is
what matters more than all that.
The most loyal of friends and always good fun to be
around, everyone needs someone like you in
their life.

Which Pooh character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by dichroic at 09:09 AM

January 07, 2005

feeling Lucy van Pelt-ish

I can tell I'm in an impatient mood. I went out at lunch to pick up some Chinese food and happed to be listening to Nancy Griffith's Other Voices, Other Rooms in the car. The giveaway was when I noticed I kept making up slightly revised lyrics to the songs she was singin. Sample verse from Bob Dylan's Spanish Leather:

How the f*** can you ask me again?
I have told you over and over
The same damned thing that I tell you today,
I would tell to you tomorrow.

See what I mean? I think I've been feeling a little crabby since just after Christmas. Mostly I think it's a post-holiday let-down thing; I feel like there's nothing much to look forward to, eventhough that's not strictly true. (We have a weekend in San Diego for rowing camp in a couple of weeks, for instance.) Still, I won't have much time off work until at least this summer.

This mood's probably been a little hard on Rudder. I had to bite my tongue hard last night to keeping from telling him to piss off or simply thwapping him with my mug. On the other hand, as I tell him, just because sometimes I react more drastically than others, doesn't mean I'm not annnoyed by the same things all the times. It just means that sometimes I show less reaction.

For some reason he particularly annoys me when he talks about my flying or flight-planning; it just feels like he drones on and on and on about it. And leans on my map and gets in my way. And tells me what to do like I'm an idiot. And tells me two different things two minutes apart. And did I mention that he goes ON and ON and ON?

I think I just have a low tolerance for flying talk in general just because it does tend to go on so long. Possibly also because when I was getting my private pilot rating I worked in an Air Force lab and Rudder had only recently completed his. So I got advice at work and I got advice at home until it's a wonder I didn't give up on the whole thing out of sheer stupidheaded rebellion. It probably exacerbates the whole issue that I'm a little dissatisfied with my flight school at the moment. Too many lessons cancelled due to issues with the airplanes and I'm not as thrilled with my teachers as I was with my first CFI, the one I worked with for my first rating. They're OK, just not great. I could move to another FBO (=flight school) but the others are at the next airport over, a 15-20 minute drive instead of 2 minutes, which makes getting to lessons before or right after work more difficult.

I'm also probably crabby either because I'm exercising less at the moment or because I'm feeling guilty about exercising less. But then if I worked out more I'd go back to being crabby at having to get up way too early and fit that in with the flying. Anyway the lake's still closed (becaue it's a river at the moment) so it's a moot point right now, as far as rowing goes.

So yeah, the reason's still in doubt, but the crabbiness is definitely here.

Posted by dichroic at 12:38 PM | Comments (2)

January 04, 2005

more bucks for the bang

Hey - those of you who work for Corporate Wherever, if you're donating to any of the charities working on tsunami relief, don't forget to check first if your place does matching donations. There's nothing up about it on my company's website (probably because this is only the second day we're back) but I've got a call in to the appropriate coordinator. I hadn't decided who to donate to (my top current choice is only accepting funds online, which I don't want to do from work) but I'll wait for that callback to try to double my impact. (Later: There's a press release. Now I just have to decide whether to donate through the company or direct to a charity as I usually do. )


I'm wearing my poncho today. Mistake-ridden it may be but after all that work I've got to get at least a little wear out of it, and anyway it went so well with a plain brown shirt ad flowing brown skirt that I decided to wear it instead of the sweater I'd originally planned. Unfortunately after all that work I made it too big and it's falling off my shoulders. I may need to see if I can unravel the (bastardized triple-needle join) seam and take five or so inches off of it. I did try it on as I was making it but was afraid it would be too tight and would bind my arms to my sides, plus it's a little tricky to get an accurate fit with a needle in there. (Yes, I know, I could have slid the stitches onto a piece of scrap yarn. I'm still new at this, remember?)

Posted by dichroic at 11:03 AM

January 03, 2005

one death at a time

This has been a horrible, horrible holiday, not for me personally but in a wider sense. Two online listsibs lost their mothers in the weeks just before Christmas. I've just heard that a work acquaintance, someone I worked with fairly closely at my last posting, lost his daughter in a car accident on Christmas Day. Not only does he have to bury a child, which always seems the worst of personal tragedies, but his his three-year-old grandaughter (named Seven, oddly) is now motherless.

And of course this all pales in contrast to the tsunami death toll. Last I heard it's up to 144,000 and the news is rife with stories of parents whose children were ripped from their arms.

I'm not callous to the news, but somehow the deaths of people I know or of people close to the ones I know affect me more than those thousands in Indonesia. It's probably a universal human failing, but in another way it's not really a failing. I think it's because 144,000 deaths don't mean anything. They are a news item, an impersonal statistic I can't really understand on any emotional level. One death means something; one death can rend the world. Each of those 144,000 deaths rends the world for those that loved the dead person. It's not a tragedy, it's 144,000 individual tragedies. Some of them are even sadder, in a way, because no one's world will be rent, because every single person who knew or loved that dead one has also died.

It's going to be strange next year, when for some people Christmas will be the usual season of joy and for many, many, it will be the anniversary of tears.

Posted by dichroic at 09:25 AM

January 01, 2005

old year and new year

I don't quite understand this. While there were many high points to 2004 that I can sum up easily - began the year in Antarctica, competed in and saw friends at Masters Nationals, did fairly well coxing in the Head of the Charles, completed a marathon, changed jobs, reducing my commute and getting a substantial raise, and beginning to work on my Instrument Flight Rating, our visit to the in-laws in summer and theirs to us at Xmas -- somehow my basic feelings for the year can be summed up as "Meh." There were parts of it that were wonderful, like the time on the Akademik Ioffe (the boat we were on to Antarctica) and the trip to Natchitoches for the marathon, I just don't feel especially excited or accomplished about the year overall. I have no idea why, but Rudder seems to feel the same.

We ended up staying home last night, with movies rented, Chandon champagne and shrimp on the barbie for dinner, and the evening went by immoderately quickly, then we slept in to an unheard of hour - nearly 10AM. This is what happens when you stay up past 8, I suppose.

I'm supposed to be flight-planning for a cross-country trip tomorrow. I don't like flightplanning much, because it's both tedious and scary (in that my neck depends on doing it right). Still, I'll have both an instructor and Rudder along for the actual trip. I suppose I should quit procrastinatig and get back to it.

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

December 30, 2004

unconnected brain offgassing

Random Observations:

I decided on the Noro Sillk Garden for th scarf - knitted the beginnings of it in both yarns to see how it worked out and the Manos was too heavy. Though if I do a second scarf of it, it might make a good shawl/lap robe for the office.

So far the Sillk Garden has broken three times on me (I don't think I knit all *that* tight) but at least it spit-splices well.

Watched VH1's 100 Best Heavy Metal / Hard Rock Bands last night. Why do they even try to make it suspenseful that Led Zeppelin was voted the best metal band of all time? And why didn't someone *tell* me Eddie Vedder was so good-looking? I mean, I've heard Pearl Jam, of ourse, but had never seen them.

Note to American Christians: As a semi-outsider I can report that the way you-all celebrate Christmas is terrible. Months of preparation for one day? It's just ludicrous and probably accounts for all those artificially high expectations that result in post-holiday letdown. I propose we all go to celebrating for all twelve days. Or we could do the Saturnalia thing, with the Lord of Misrule and all the role-reversals and such. And my company (and yours, if you're a wage-slave) should give me a holiday until Epiphany, too.

Besides, I've concluded I really need two weeks off: one to rest up and sleep and one to do stuff.

I rather wish some of you authorial types out there would read Diana Wynne Jones' Hexwood and let me know what you think. She's trying to do a lot of funky and confusing things with the structure - that is, some times the reader is supposed to be confused and sometimes I was anyway. I don't think it altogether succeeded; one indicator was that she had to explain a few threads in an Author's Note at the end. But it was interesting to watch her handling iof the tricky bits, and it's a good enough story that it kept me involved regardless. I'd rate it as a fascinating but not completely successful experiment. It reminded me of Fire and Hemlock more than anything else of hers I'd read, but I think the latter ties up the ends better. There aren't too many books I think ought to be longer, but this might be one.

I know part of the reason there seem to be so many miscarriages is because people know about pregnancies so much earlier, but I've known of far too many lately, some after the mother started showing signs of pregnancy. It breaks my heart, because some of these were so wanted.

Posted by dichroic at 09:23 PM | Comments (1)

December 27, 2004

end of Xmas

Well, yesterday's vegetable soup wasn't great - nothing really wrong with it, but it needed a couple extra hours in the crockpot. Other than that, I think my in-laws ae now convinced we're increedible cooks - the highlights at Xmas dinner were Rudder's deep-fried turkey and my cappucino pie. Yummy. The visit was a shining success in general. Rudder's grandmother commented that it seemed like we were always eating, which was true enough but funny, since I had the same reaction to visiting them last summer. Rudder's grandparents can't really walk far enough for any of the activities we'd have otherwise planned, so mostly we all just hung around, but I know everyone had a good time. Last night I dragged them all out to sit by a bonfire - I've been wanting to put floating candles on the pool for a awhile and this was my chance. It had been chilly but last night was cloudy, which holds heat in, so it was just warm enough for us not to freeze and cool enough to want to stay near the fire. The reflection of the fire and candles on the pol were magical and it turned out to be a great way to end their visit.

The only drawback was that I got very few gifts this year, especially compared to the loads of stuff I got everyone else. However, that was just because my family of course sent their gifts for Chanukah and some of our Xmas gifts were perishable things that we opened on arrival. For example we got lots of summer sausage and cheese, which were great to have with that many people around. Also, Rudder and I are giving each other a new bed, which we haven't gotten yet, and the grandparents' gift to us was their presence, which is a very nice sort of present but doesn't have a bow to untie. I did get a midweight fleece pullover from the in-laws, whicih is something I've been wanting - I've been jealous of Rudder's. Also, my MIL was delighted with the Moebius scarf and my GMIL seemed to like the scarf I knitted her, and I love giving gifts people love.

They left today because my FIL has to get back to work and they have a 2-3 day drive back. Now the big festive part of the holiday is over, Rudde is enjoying a nap and I'm looking forward to a whole week off work to do whatever I want. I'll post pics of the poncho later when Ruder's around to take pictures and, when I finish it, of the mini-Weasley sweater I'm knitting. (It's a top-down raglan and will be 3-4" tall - seemed lilke a good way to see how that works.)

Posted by dichroic at 09:54 AM

December 23, 2004

yearly application of tact

My theme song this Christmas is from Stan Rogers:

At last, I'm ready for Christmas, I've even finished the tree, At last, I'm ready for Christmas, like I thought I'd never be, With feet propped up by a nice warm fire and a matching inside glow. At last, I'm ready for Christmas, with nearly two hours to go.

Granted, I'm more or less ready two days before, not two hours, but only because Rudder's family arrives today. MIL's hat is DONE! though not wrapped, the tree is decked and the ornament boxes put away, the house is straightened to Rudder's standards, and the turkeys are injected (with seasoning / marinade).

I have done my act of kindness and tact for this year, too. There's a woman on an e-list of mine who has put me on her list of "inspirational" forwards. These are almost invariably a) treacly, b) preachy, and c) about Jesus. Worse, this is the second time she's done this; she had me on her list years ago when we were both on a related e-list; I think then I just blocked her email address. I've made no secret of being Jewish on this list. I don't know in what universe it's acceptable to send stuff like that to someone not of your faith, and in my particular universe it's not acceptable to send ANY regular forwards to ANYONE unless they've asked for them. I might send the occasional joke or picture that I think a specific person might especially like, but her messages were coming several times a day. However, contrary though it might be to reason, I do believe her motives were benign; I think she's just honestly clueless.

I emailed her and asked her politely to stop, and it was one of the hardest messages I've ever had to frame. It was far more difficult than you'd imagine not to write "What part of "Jewish" do you not understand?" or "Please get your god out of my inbox," or some such. (As may be obvious, I am not a naturally tactful person.) But I did it, and I must have succeeded in non-inflammatory phrasing, because she agreed to take me off her list, told me with no hint of irony that she "appreciated my being Jewish" (arrgggh!) and asked for a copy of something I'd written.

I suppose there are things to be said for tact, in that it so often seems to succeed where direct speech would only raise defensive hackles. I'd feel better if I could think of a similarly polite way to educate her on why what she's done is unacceptable, but I don't think I can do that without being worse than the original offense, and using rudeness to teach manners is generally not productive.

(Of course, by venting here I've probably already voided any tact KarmaI'd earned, anyway. It's still not a skill I've fully internalized, clearly.)

Posted by dichroic at 08:55 AM | Comments (6)

December 22, 2004

the best present

TranceJen asked, "What was the best gift you ever got on Christmas morning?"

I can't really remember being all that excited by my Chanukah gifts, though I'm sure I was at the time. I suppose the best ones were probably the (increasingly larger) bikes my grandparents gave me when I was 4, 8 and 12, and I also remember getting various Barbie stuff. (My least favorite gift from the grandparents was the two sets of underwear - it might've been a birthday rather than Chanukah - with sort of training-bra tops like undershirts that ended mid-rib cage that they gave me when I was 12 or so and had absolutely no need for any sort of bra, training or otherwise.)

The best gift, the one that made me feel most warm and fuzzy, was just a few years ago and again it mght have been a birthday rather than Christmas. It was from my in-laws (as I've said here before, I lucked out in the in-law lottery) and it was the "gift of a relaxing evening". It wasn't so much that I really needed some de-stressing time just then, though I certainly did, as that the accoutrements were so perfectly me. As I recall, they sent me some nice tea, some fancy popcorn (on the cob) and a gift certificate to Amazon. I don't know whether they knew me well enough to do all that or whether they conferred with Rudder, but I think they get equal credit either way, even though they did say I sitll have to do the hard part and supply the evening to relax in. They also gave me last year a drawing (lithograph? I don't know about these things) of "She Who Loves to Read", of a woman wiht bushy brown hair curled in a cushy chair with a book (and two more books beside her), a mug of tea, and a cat. The only way you can tell it's not me (other than that the woman in the drawing has a blank face because that's apparently what this artist does, and I do have eyes, nose and mouth) is that I'd never be sitting straight in the chair; I tend to sling myself crossways.

Still to do: finish wrapping presents, finish knitting my MIL's hat, and do a bit of straightening. Also, maybe I'll make brownies this evening - though Rudder will be injecting turkeys, so that might not be the world's best idea if I don't want brownies redolent of onion and garlic.

Posted by dichroic at 12:12 PM

December 20, 2004

almost ready for Christmas

Excellent weekend. It's not that we did anything terribly special but I got Rudder back and that's enough. For some reason, even though he was only gone for a week it was a very long week.

We are now more or less on track for the holiday and for Rudder's parents' and grandparents' visit. What I really need is a big DONE! stamp like they use on the show Monster House.

Food shopping: DONE!
All we need to do is pick up some milk right before guests arrive.

Boughten gifts purchased: DONE!
Including way too many extra gifts (to be marked "from Santa") and stocking stuffers.

Tree decorated: DONE!
At least, it's at a point where it looks all right if we don't do anything else to it. If I have time, I'll add a few more plain red and gold balls to it.

Homemade gifts: in progress -- all done but the hat for my MIL, and that's secondary to the long-since-finished Moebius scarf.

The beading stuff is put away and the ping-pong table is moved outside. There's still a little neatening to be done and guest beds to be sheeted, but the guest towels are out and the cleaning service will be in Sunday. I won't make the pies (one eggnog and one cappucino cream - I wonder where the espresso maker is?) until at least Christmas Eve. Aside from those I'm totally cheating on baking, having bought slice-and-bake cookies and brownie mix. Rudder will inject the turkeys on Thursday and deep-fry them Christmas day. The fridge is groaning with indigestion and bulging at the seams; Rudder's family went in for food gifts this year so in addition to the two turkeys we're deep-frying (one to eat and one to freeze) there's a smoked turkey, five kinds of cheese (well, I bought the Brie and goat cheeses) and I don't know how many kinds of sausage (plus the chorizo we bought for breakfast fajitas. The rest of this week will feature quit times at work, a party tonight, feverish knitting, and gift wrapping. Lots and lots of wrapping. Between the company of people who know how to be guests (not universal knowledge, I'm finding, but if you want to see how it's done right, invite Mechaieh to stay with you sometime) and the time off work, this should be fun and even relaxing. I'm hoping that "Lakeview time" is a traveling effect and that Rudder's grandparents bring it with them; when we've visited them we notice that time goes slower there and there seem to be more minutes in each day.

After the family leaves, we have a few more pleaant things planned. I need to row a bit to get used to the boat again; I've got a cross-country flight to plan and fly up to our property on the rim (VFR so I can enjoy the scenery); Rudder and I are 80% sure that this is the bed we're buying as our gift to each other. And though it willprobably take some weeks for it to be delivered, I'll be happy to spend plenty of the holiday break snoozing in our old bed.

Posted by dichroic at 10:13 AM | Comments (3)

December 15, 2004

plumbing emergency

Note the time stamp on this entry. It's not one you'll often see from me, considering our usual weekday bedtime is 8. Not only do we get up early for rowing but we both find massive amounts of exercise demand extra sleep.

Last night I noticed water dripping off the roof. My first thought was the heat pump, because we'd had one of the two replaced last summer. So I called those people and they said, yes the heat pump could drip when defrosting. It seemed to be dripping a *lot*, though. Well, tonight it was still dripping. (Both nights I got home after dark and wasn't too thrilled about climbing up on the roof when I couldn't see anyway.) So called back and they confirmed it wouldn't drip *that* much so I thought and finally realized it must be the solar water heater. (OK, I'm not too bright in plumbing matters.) Oops. I've called the company who replaced our solar panel a few years ago. (I was actually very pleased and surprised that both of these places were open, since I didn't get home until 6:30 or so.) They told me to unplug the control unit for now and they'd call me tomorrow and arrange a time to send someone that day.

I had made arrangements for the solar panel guys to come out tomorrow, then finally was heading up to bed (8:30) when I noticed a bulging spot on the wall by Rudder's side of the bed. And though it wasn't dripping and neither was the ceiling, the floor there was wet. When I looked in the erg room (the bedroom next to ours) the ceiling over the bookshelf was wet, too. That's when I got *really* worried. I brushed my teeth, cleaned the litterbox, washed my hands from that, turned off the water outside and called a 24-hour plumber. Then I called work to say I'd be in late tomorrow.

The plumber got here an hour later. (Thank goodness for 24-hour plumbing services!!) He went up into the attic, got all around in there and couldn't find the problem. Went up on the roof and finally found it, thank goodness. Apparently there's a hairline crack in the pipe to the solar panel. Over time that saturated the cover around the pipe. I think most of the water dripped off the roof, but the saturation in the pipe covering backed up and that's what got behind the walls. So since the broken pipe's outside, he can get to it to fix it relatively easily (note: his first try just failed when he turned the pump back on, so only relatively easily) and all we'll have to do is patch the spot on our bedroom wall where the bulge was (it's not all that big; the bulge was fist-size) and maybe put some spackle on the ceiling in the erg room. Whew. Since it is the pipe to the panel that's leaking, at the very worst he can turn off the valves to the solar. The water heater uses a combination of electric and solar power and can works just fine on electric alone, so that wouldn't be a big problem.

My plan is to get to work 10 hours from whenever I get to bed - 8 to sleep, 1 to erg, one to shower, dress, and drive. It's probably a good thing I was there from 7:30 until 6 today.

On the plus side, I used the time to get a bunch more cards done and more of the tree decorated. It's not my first choice of ways to find more time, but at least I can hope for a happy ending....

Posted by dichroic at 10:46 PM | Comments (1)


I should really avoid reading WeirdJews. I keep getting sucked in to commenting on things I don't know enough about, at least not compared to some of the people there. Clearly, it's all Mechaieh's fault - that I get sucked in, I mean, since I had never heard of the community until she mentioned it. Not her fault that I comment when ignorant, or that I'm ignorant to begin with.

It is pretty interesting to see a community combining Jews who are weird because they are frum with ones who are weird because they are intermarried or into Zen Buddhism or pierced and tattooed. Sometimes there are fireworks but I suppose being there at all says a lot for people's willingness to build community.

And me with my menorah in one room (the holiday is over so I need to clean off the wax and put it away) and my tree and much assorted paraphernalia in another. Between the beading stuff and the tree-and-house-decorating stuff and the not-being-home-much, my place is a mess. I hope I can get most of it done and put away by this weekend.

Come to think of it, this will be Rudder's extremely rural paternal grandparents' first visit to our house - they don't travel much. They live in a town of 3000 people, the biggest one for a hundred miles or more in every direction. There are several churches, but I'm not sure if there's fast food (not much of a loss there) and they have to go to metropolitan (not) Klamath Falls for any shopping much beyond a supermarket or hardware store. And they have wonderful stories about life during WWII or growing up on a homestead. I wonder what they'll make of my menorah and mezuzah?

They know I'm Jewish, of course, though we haven't ever talked much about it. They must have met other Jews .... I think.

Posted by dichroic at 03:43 PM

December 13, 2004

the tree

What do the Rose Window of the (US) National Cathedral, a hiking boot, the Eiffel Tower, a kayak (two, actually), a Beefeater, the Sydney Opera House, a leaf from Walden Pond (dipped in gold: I'm not sure Thoreau wold approve), some Korean tassels, an Alaskan sled dog, a Waterford crystal goblet, a REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT tag, and glass art from Oregon have in common?

Ans: They're all on my tree right this minute. We have a "travel" tree, for which we pick up ornaments wherever we go. I haven't even started on the shiny balls and icicles yet, because it's so much fun to hang these first for all the memories they bring. There are also the red and gold balls and crystal ornaments from our first Christmas tree together, and the tuna-can snowflakes from the tiny tree I had for a friend who visited me at Christmas before I'd even met Rudder.... those are good memories too. It's not my holiday, but I do love the accoutrements.

Posted by dichroic at 08:09 PM | Comments (1)

in order (more or less)

This morning for some reason I have Jimi Hendrix's Stone Free running around my head. Now it seems to be some tiddly circus music. Of course, everytime I think about that the Hendrix comes back but only for a moment and then it's diddly-ump-ump-ump, deedaly-dump-bump-bump again.

One thing I'm pleased about is that with all the running around this weekend, I really did get a lot of stuff done and did it in the right order. (As in, "I need to do some holiday cards and also laundry this evening so I should start the laundry first so there's time to get it into the dryer before I go to bed.) And I worked steadily instead of running from one half-done task to another. That doesn't mean I'm becoming more organized or anything, but it is a good sign that I'm not sleep-deprived any more. Tonight I'll buy some more strings of lights (whose price will determine whether I throw away or try to fix some old ones that aren't working right), finish putting the lights on the tree and get at least most of the ornaments on, and then write some more cards. Or it might be better to wait until Rudder's back to decorate the tree and get my last bit of holiday knitting done. What was that about doing things in order again?

Thankful for: Libraries. Just in general. I like libraries.
Holiday challenge: 59000m to go.

Posted by dichroic at 12:47 PM | Comments (1)

December 12, 2004

running like a chicken

Bad idea: getting a 9' tree right before the taller member of the household leaves for Europe for a week in prime tree-decorating time. We, uh, got a little carried away; we'd decided to put the tree in the front living room instead of the famaily room this year and the ceiligs are higher, and Rudder does have that tendency to go a bit overboard, and.... Actually I overstate. I think it was only 8 1/2'. Either way, I couldn't reach the top to put the topper on, and we have the Coolest Tree Topper ever, that we bought a couple of years ago. It's a Santa in a biplane; there's a candy-striped pole with a star on top that's hitched to the tallest branch and the biplane hangs off a hook and flies in a circle around the tree. I finally got it on by the simple expedient of bringing in clippers and lopping off that highest branch. (What? The pole is meant to go well above it. I didn't make the tree any shorter.) Only problem is..... apparently I hooked Santa onto his wire facing the wrong way. So he flies backwards. Oops. I'm not taking him off; it was hard enough putting him on. I think it will be easy for Rudder to turn him around when he gets home.

Other issue with a tree that big: I need to remember to get some more lights when I stop at the drugstore tomorrow. But the 2/3 that are lit up look good.

This weekend I did my best imitation of a cheicken with its head cut off: lots of running, not much squawking. Yesterday I went to a very high-maintenence party. There was a gift-swap and an ornament swap AND you were supposed to bring a dish. Yeesh. The first two were optional but I didn't feel like sitting around watching everyone else get presents. So I spent all day preparing for that. Correction: first I dropped Rudder off at the airport at 8, then I went to the boatyard and erged 8km, then I got check out in a coaching launch (She-Hulk and I were scheduled to do that at 9:30 and I didn't feel like driving home in between, hence the boatyard erging. I'm spoiled. Those ergs are icky.) Then I went to Ikea to get a prty gift in case I didn't finish the scarf I was knitting (and about $80 worth of other stuff for the house) then I came home and knitted frantically for two hours, finished my scarf but decided to also give the photo frame I'd bought, then I went to the supermarket for ingredients, then I made Mexican Layer Dip for the party. Then I went to the party. Did I mention it was 50 miles away?

At least I got to sleep in a wee bit today. Other than that it was a similarly frantic round. The List for the next week:

Finish lighting the tree
Decorate the tree
Finish decorating the rest of the house
Finish the remaining half or 2/3 of my cards and send them out
Knit one more dishrag
Knit a hat for my MIL
Clean house for company arriving 12/23
Erg 67000 km
Wrap presents
Make several more ornaments


On the other hand this weekend we got the tree and set it up. I got Rudder off to the Netherlands. I erged 18000m. I put together and shipped a gift package. I got organized for a group donation to the Heifer Project I'm handling. I did lots of cards. I finished knitting a scarf, made 8 beaded stitch markers and 4 ornaments, did assorted kinds of shopping, did 2 loads of laundry, saw some former coworkers I like, got checked out in the launch, made some decisions about how I'm working on the instrument rating, made myself some earrings (just since starting this entry) and probably other stuff I'm forgetting. So at least I don't feel unaccomplished.

Thankful for: All the stuff that's finished and done.
Holiday Challenge:67000m left to go.

Posted by dichroic at 07:56 PM

December 08, 2004

holiday of light

I have a post brewing in my mind about Chanukah being about not giving way to despair, but I think this is almost a prerequisite. The first year I had this journal I posted the lyrics to Peter Yarrow's Chanukah song, "Light One Candle". Every year since then I have been unable to resist posting it again, because every year since then the lyrics have become more and more timely. This year, given Recent Events, the tune has taken a new direction in my mind, and I find when I sing it I'm less apt to think of the miraculous oil that burned for eight days in the long-gone temple of Jerusalem, and more to be thinking of the torch of Liberty, here in the US and in other places around the world. May it burn bright and untarnished.

Light one candle for the Maccabee Children
With thanks that their light didn't die.
Light one candle for the pain they endured
When their right to exist was denied.
Light on candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand.
Light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peace maker's time is at hand.

Don't let the light go out
It's lasted for so many years
Don't let the light go out
Let it shine through our love and our tears.

Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never became our own foe.
Light one candle for those who are suffering
The pain we learned so long ago.
Light one candle for all we believe in
that anger won't tear us apart.
And light one candle to bring us together
With peace as the song in our hearts;.

Don't let the light go out,
It's lasted for so many years.
Don't let the light go out,
Let it shine through our love and our fears.

What is the memory that's valued so highly
That we keep it alive in that flame?
What's the commitment for those who have died,
When we cry out they have not died in vain?
We have come this far always believing
That justice would somehow prevail.
This is the burden, this is the promise,
THIS is why we will not fail.

Don't let the light go out,
It's lasted for so many years.
Don't let the light go out,
Let it shine through our love and our fears.

Don't let the light go out!
Don't let the light go out!
Don't let the light go out!

Posted by dichroic at 02:49 PM | Comments (2)


Not even 8AM and I am already not having a good day.

My Dad's still got health issues. The purely physical stuff is better but he's also bipolar (though it's usually held in check with maintenance meds) and is in a manic episode. Ever talked to someone who was clinically manic? It might be amusing IF it were someone you didn't know and you didn't care what sort of trouble they got into. Not so much in this case. It seems to be a relatively minor episode (he's not planning any get-rich-quick schemes) but he keeps calling to try to get me to help convince Mom they should buy a new car, and his is only a year old. At least he wants a Honda Civic Hybrid, not a Lexus.

My husband's got this itchy spot on his face and scalp - I can't see anything there to cause it but it's been keeping him awake and it's infuriating enough to make him go see a doctor (he generally only goes for serious things). My guess is spider bite - I'm hoping they can give him something to numb it.

And early this morning I had a small accident. No, not in a car, in an airplane. We were on the ground at the time (fortunately), taxiiing out. It was dark, there was no taxi line painted on the ground, and we clipped the wingtip of a parked airplane. Sigh. There was no danger or injury, at least. I couldn't see any damage to the Cessna I was in; the other one (also a Cessna 172) will need a wingtip (a small separate part) replaced. With luck that will be all the repairs necessary.

Nope, not a good day. I suppose this could all be worse. Hopefully the appropriate people / airplane doctors will be able to fix things fairly easily in all three cases.

Posted by dichroic at 08:11 AM

December 07, 2004

forgetterizing madly

Chanukah begins tonight. There are at least two posts (well, one real one, one with lyrics) that I've been waiting for this holiday to post. I'd better start writing.

This Holiday Challenge - or something - is leaving me very tired. Yesterday I stayed home from work just from exhaustion, and yet I felt good Sunday until I did the 75-minute piece. (It was a new personal record, did I mention? Or rather, within it I set a new record for distance in 60 minutes.) I was tired again this morning but I think it was just from this morning's erging, not a cumulative thing. Rudder and I had a long discussion last night; he's contemplating scaling way back on training after the World Masters Games this summer, but isn't sure what he'll do instead. He needs to have a project, preferably with lots of activity involved or as he says, he's neither happy or healthy. I only the other hand can be perfectly content with sedentary pursuits (reading, knitting, beadwork) punctuated by activity, instead of constant activity. I'm still not convinced about blood-type-based diets, but that book was frighteningly accurate about the type of exercise we each see to need.

Unfortunately, when I'm tired I also get stupid. For instance I realized today what went wrong with the coaster I was knitting (and then frogging) last night: five repeats of a three-stitch pattern plus two plain stitches on either side does not add up to seventeen stitches. I can fix that though; what's much worse is that I can't find the beautiful dichroic glass barrette I bought Saturday. I know I was looking at it yesterday and I'm hoping I didn't absent-mindedly throw it away. It'll probably turn up in the refrigerator or someplace similarly unlikely. I couldn't find the shirt I wanted to wear this morning either. How do you mislay an entire corduroy shirt? I don't even think I've worn it so far this year. I wonder if I ripped it last year and threw it away. Maybe it's eloped with my barrette?

Speaking of dichroic glass, since my new job isn't oo far from a large bead wholesale sort of place, I've been meaning to go and today I nipped over at lunch. I hadn't been there for a year or more and it turns out they're now selling beautiful dichroic beads at a bulk price, $1 / gram. I see more dichroic earrings in my near future - I feel like I should recall a beadwork gift I mailed out a couple of days ago, just so I could redo it with my signature glass. Oh well, too late, and it came out well anyway with the beads I did use.

Another thing I forgot: to take pictures of the things I mailed this weekend so I could post pictures here of my finished objects later, after the recipient sees them. Oh well again. My forgetterer is going at full speed these days.

One more thing I've been forgetting:

Thankful for: Chanukah starts tonight, reminding me that we Jews are still here. From Haman to Herod to Hitler, there were a lot of people who tried to make sure that either I - me personally, this affects the person living in this head, it's not just ancient history -- didn't exist at all, or that I wasn't Jewish, in which case if I existed (and would all my ancestors have married the same people, given a wider pool to choose from?) I would certainly be a different person in many respects. That's pretty amazing, that I am here despite them all. Glad to be here, even if I was clearly brainwashed in all those Hebrew School years.

Holiday Challenge: About 110000 m left to go.

Posted by dichroic at 03:06 PM | Comments (1)

December 06, 2004


After yesterday's long distance piece (75 minutes) I'm totally wasted. I cranked out a very slow 7600m this morning, just so I wouldn't fall behind, and then called in sick. It's a perfect day for it, rainy and chill, and I'm sitting here with hot chocolate listening to the rain. I'm planning to mostly sit in one pace and just rest today. Well, and finish some knitting and beading but at least that's sedentary.

Posted by dichroic at 07:08 AM | Comments (1)

December 05, 2004


Dad's out of the hospital. Mom took him in on Friday for an alarming group of symptoms including dizziness, slurred speech, and short-term memory loss; it looks now like those were all caused by high blood sugar (he's diabetic and not particularly careful about it) and possibly a TIA (mini-stroke - he had one of those before when I was in high school). He says he feels better now than he has in 20 years, though from what my brother says I'm not sure I believe that. Still, though I know how serious diabetes can be, his is adult onset and not all that severe and I'm glad it's "only" that and not something new. At least that's something that's nonlethal, if he works harder at controlling it.

Meanwhile, my weekend was relatively calm and productive. I still haven't done anything on my cards, but I got two presents finished and mailed and another started. Also a small party on Friday night, a flying lesson today (ground, not in the airplane), a trip to the Tempe Arts Fest Saturday in which I only got to see maybe a quarter of the booths (it's enormous), 4000m on the erg yesterday, a 75-minute 144000 piece today incorporating a 60 minute personal record, a food shopping trip today, visits to two furniture stores looking for the bed Rudder and I have agreed to give each other for Christmas, calls to my parents each day to check on Dad .... I keep wondering, is this what other people's less frenetic weekends look like?

Posted by dichroic at 06:53 PM | Comments (7)

December 02, 2004

this and that (and that and that and that...)

I'm just back from the department Christmas luncheon. Well, technically it was a "holiday" lunch and everyone carefully said "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". But there were enormous wreaths on the restaurant walls including one with antique-ish but oddly disembodied Santa heads all over it (were their bodies cut off and used in the stew?) and the VP wore a Twelve Days of Christmas tie (which would come in handy as a cheat sheet if you were singing that song and had trouble remembering) so, you know, really it was a CHristmas party. However, it was free and there were steaks; I am not complaining. It was nice.

I am looking forward to this weekend. Aside from a small party Friday night and flying Sunday morning and some food shopping somewhen, I need to get finished making the ____ for ____ so I can mail it with the other things going out that way. (The scary part is that there's more than one object fitting in those dashes.) Then there's some other gift knitting I'm postponing because it doesn't have to be done until Christmas. And I need to do cards, though my decision to computer-print all the labels this year will help a lot there. (Does anyone really mind if the label isn't handwritten as long as the message in the card is?) And I need to read Mer's story because I promised and I want to give her feedback before it's too late to be useful.

Hmmm. So maybe if I print the story, since it will be on paper and not in a book and thus will lay flat, I can read that while knitting .... but not while beading. Drat. Or maybe I shouild try doing one thing at at a time to see if I finish faster. Or maybe I could figure out how to erg and read and put knitting needles in place of the erg handle.....

Not complaining, not at all. These are all pleasant tasks, with the possible exception of erging and food shopping. It all sounds to me like a good way to spend a weekend.

Posted by dichroic at 02:02 PM

December 01, 2004

another Murphy day

Quite possibly this is the funniest thing you'll see this holiday season - at least if you're a geek like me.

Also, check this watercolor out - that's my lake and the rower could as well be me. I was able to find a phone number for someone who has the name of that artist; I'm thinking of calling him to see if he's done any others like it.

Today quite a few of the things that could go wrong did, though at least the first one to do so redeemed itself.

At ten 'til five, I got into my cold car (the garage door still being broken) and drove to the little airport a quarter of a mile away to meet my flight instructor. Five AM, no CFI. Five after, no CFI. At ten after I left a note and went home - I'd have waited longer but a convertible that has been sitting outside overnight is not the warmest of vehicles when temperatures are in the low 30s. At home I took off my jackets (fleece and shell), hung them off and had one shoe off and was considering whether to erg, work, or do some of the studying for the IFR I'd been neglecting, when the phone rang. Of course it was my instructor, who has just moved and who had seriously underestimated how long her drive to the airport would take. Back again to the airport, and we did have just enough time to get a good lesson in. ("Good" being a relative term. I don't like doing stalls, let alone doing them under the hood.)

Next it was home to wait for the garage-door repairman and to try to install the software and certificate onto my new laptop that will let me work from home in future. The repairman won that one; it was fifteen minutes after he'd finished that we (I and the person from the "Help" Desk) finally got the software in and almost working - that is, it seemed to be working and I got no other error messages but apparently the remote server was down so I couldn't actually log in. Then I walked over to tell my next-door neighbor his sprinkler-system pump was squealing. (He'd heard it but had thought it was a car alarm; I was afraid it might be his burglar alarm and was pondering whether to call the police if he hadn't been home.) Then it turned out the repairman didn't win after all, because as I was trying to leave for work the garage door wouldn't close all the way. By then, of course, the repairer was long gone, so I called his company, they had him call me back, and we arranged for me to leave the side door open so he could get in to fix it without me there.

The laptop had shown one odd behavior at home: when booting up the screen would go blank as if it were trying to use a projector or other monitor instead and I'd have to hit F8 to get the display back. This turned out to be foreshadowing. When I got to the office I found the silly thing had decided it likes its independence; now it goes blank while booting up in the docking station and will not show any display after the first Windoze splash screen, though it works well enough when not docked. I've called IT about it and after trying afew things they promised to send out one of their local people to address the problem. That was, oh five hours ago now. This laptop screen is tiny. There's a reason I used quotes when mentioning the "Help" Desk in the last paragraph. Eyestrain R Me today. But apparently the garage door is now working.

Posted by dichroic at 02:52 PM | Comments (2)

November 30, 2004


Last night our garage door broke (the spring above the door is now in two pieces) so I had to park outside .... and this morning I had to scarpe frost off my windshield. Here in Arizona, ice scrapers are NOT something we habitually keep in the car.

Of course it was just a light frost so a credit card worked fine for scraping purposes, but still, for Arizona this is just Not Right. And I erged at home this morning, so it was 7AM when I was leaving for work - not like it was a 4:30AM drive to rowing. Just Not Right.

Posted by dichroic at 02:26 PM

November 27, 2004

a little mystery

Several things:

1) Today I received a mystery package, presumably a Chanukah gift. It was addressed only to me, not Rudder and comes from Borderland Books, but there was no note on the box or in it to say who it's from. I got Rudder to unbox it, and the book (I assume it's a book) is still in brown wrapping, so there might be a note inside. I've asked Rudder to look, so that I don't see what it is until Chanukah begins. Rudder is into delayed gratification so we generally don't open presents until the holiday. I don't much mind this, though I think it's silly when even on his birthday he waits until dinnertime to open presents. However, being fonder of short-term gratification myself, and because it's addressed only to me, I will assume it's for Chanukah, not Christmas. Anyway, if it's from one of you out there (and if so, who?) it got here, and I thank you preliminarily. I'll thank you for real after I open it.

2) Our turkey on Thanksgiving was the worst I've ever made. No fault of mine, I don't think - we got just the breast and it was way too juicy and the injected juices didn't taste like real turkey. Bleah. On the other hand, my kasha was flavorful, the cookies I baked were/are excellent, and the pumpkin pastries were great. The only problem with the latter was that I made the full recipe and had way too much left over after I filled the pastry shells. I put the rest of the batter in the fridge, got a graham-cracker crust the next day, and made a pie. Tasty.

3) LJ appreciation meme. Maria is true-blue; you can absolutely rely on her to always try to do right and act kindly. She is honest, good, and giving, and tries to improve in a way that's now out of fashion, but that I appreciate because some of my own ideas are old ones.

I can't write about Maria without writing about her faith and I think she'd be glad of that. It's a funny thing. I previously wrote about LA, who is not religious - not sure if she's atheist, agnostic, or Deist, but she isn't into churches. I could make a good case that LA is a good person because she's not religious; if you don't believe that God ordered the estate of the rich man ad the poor man, or that anybody's second coming will make everything all right, it stands to reason you'd better get busy and fix the world yourself, best you can. Maria is almost the polar opposite: she's a Christian who lives her faith and who is both better and pleasanter because of it. I know something about this. Like many American Jews, I suspect, I have a rather Christianized morality, from keeping company with Jo March, with Aslan, and with the Christianized versions of fairy tales we get from Andersen and the Grimms. (Also maybe from Hillel and the rabbis who stressed a merciful God rather than a purely just one and the need for men and women to treat our neighbors well, but that's another story.) Maria lives more like Jo March than like many more vocal modern Christians; she uses her faith as a yardstick not to measure other people and find them lacking but to see where she herself needs to improve, and she preaches only by her own example. I don't know if she believes that different people have different paths to righteousness or only that they need to find their own paths to Jesus, but either way she refrains from forcing her views even on those she loves most. Her joy in her God is evident and so is her joy in her friends, her family and her husband. I hope they all work to deserve her as she does to measure up to them.

Posted by dichroic at 08:12 PM | Comments (1)

November 25, 2004

traditions begin again

I hereby declare that this journal has been around long enough (since March 2001) to have Traditions. Two things begin at Thanksgiving for me every year: from Thanksgiving to Christmas Concept II sponsors their Holiday Challenge, to row 200,000 meters from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, and I like to track the decreasing meters here. Also, the first year I kept this diary, I began listing one thing I am thankful for on each entry from Thanksgiving to Christmas (or at least once a day).

I haven't gotten my erg meters in today (though I have baked cookies, made kasha and bowties, and got my turkey in the over, so that will have to wait until after dinner. (Long after.) However, I promised to write about anyone who writes in and asks me to, so I'll combine two pleasant tasks here. (There's still time to get in on that. Yes, I'm talking to you.)

I'll give each person their own entry.

I'm thankful I know LA. I've been reading her now for a couple of years, during which she's variously amused, interested, educated and galvanised me, while talking about everything from politics to parenting to clothing to the Craft. I've seen her grow through difficult marital times and shrink herself down to where she's now longer camouflaging her fire in excess flesh. LA speaks her mind, always (at least always when she's online), but, and this is the beauty part for a data-driven person like me, she's never ignorant about it. She's opinionated but no matter how mad she may be she always has facts to back up her view. Even when her views are colored by her prejudices, she'll resist acting on them if the data points the other way.

Despite her views on "Chihuahuas", for example, she has taken pains to point out that she only includes in that class small helpless-looking manipulative bitchy women. As a small helpless-looking woman myself, I appreciate that. I also think it's kind of funny that tall, blonde, well-built, fiercely smart women sometimes think the world responds better to petite dark-haired women when it's so clearly the other way. :-) I wonder if Ellizabeth Peters had someone like LA in mind when she created the tall, blonde, well-built, fiercely smart and fearsomely educated Vicky Bliss -- who, Peters fans will recall, gets to sleep with one of the sexiest male leads *ever*, Sir John Smythe.

Another thing I'm thankful for is that the FDA has just approved a new drug for MS that apparently has a lot of promise. Because can you imagine an LA with nothing holding her body back from doing all her mind can accomplish? If this drug works as well as they hope, I'm standing back.

Holiday Challenge: The whole 200,000 meters to go. I hope to take 6600 of that off tonight.
Thankful for: See above.

Posted by dichroic at 02:52 PM

November 23, 2004

dinner and not much else

My current knitting project is supposed to be small and easy - and it would be, if I didn't end up pulling out almost as many rows as I knit. I keep thinking I'm done with the two-color part only to see a hole at the join where I forgot to wrap the yarns around each other. I think this morning's telecon was a draw: two rows knitted, two rows frogged.

I am unreasonaby excited about the long Thanksgiving weeked, maybe mostly because I have very little planned. Thursday there will be cooking, of course, but it's just the two of us. We're having a roasted turkey breast instead of our more usual deep-fried huge bird (the latter will be for Xmas), tomato-and-bread salad, asparagus, kasha varnishkes, possibly stuffing (neither of us is a huge fan, but I want to try a new recipe), cranberry sauce from a can (Rudder doesn't like it and I don't feel like making my own for just me), and pumpkin pastries (another experiment - I'll make pumpkin pie filling and cook it in Pepperidge Farm puff pastry shells). If I can find or make daiquiri mix there may be cranberry daiquiris, from Rudder's aunt's recipe. There may also be cookie-baking. It's been a long time since I've baked cookies.

Other than that, there isn't much planned - one flying lesson, a little work on the boats, more knitting, purchasing Mom's birthday gift, some reading because I've done so little lately that I'm in withdrawal, and oh yes, approximately 26400 meters on the erg. Concept II's annual holiday challenge to erg 200,000 between Thanksgiving and Xmas begins Thursday.

Posted by dichroic at 12:47 PM | Comments (2)

sharing the love

I like this meme. I'm always a little skeptical of those that say something like "Comment here and tell me why you love me," because it seems a little presumptuous to assume people do. So here's a new twist I like a lot better, where no one will get their feelings stomped on. Kipped from the (very cool) Kiwi Maria:

1. Reply to this post if you want/need me to tell you how cool you are!

2. Watch my journal over the next few days for a post just about you and why I think you rock my socks.

3. Post these instructions in your journal and give your friends a much needed dose of love and adoration!

CAVEAT: if I barely know you, this might be a bit difficult. Please don't be offended.

Posted by dichroic at 10:27 AM | Comments (3)

November 22, 2004

mangling trees and manipulating wood sticks

It seems like I spent the whole weekend mangling and macerating trees - and when I wasn't doing that I still had my hands on wood sticks. On Saturday we drove up to our airpark property, because we needed to cut down a few more casualties of drought and bark beetle. We've been getting more rain lately as well as snow in the high country, so I'm hoping these will be the last to die. Cutting down a dead tree feels like attending a funeral.

On Sunday there was even more fun with clippers and saw as we did a much-too-belated trimming of our pineapple palm. Even after stomping the assorted (lethally sharp) fronds and other tree parts down three times, they were heaped up so high in my pickup that we had to strap them down. Disposing of them at the town dump, where you back up to a ledge and toss your debris down into a dumpster, would have been a lot easier if the wind hadn't been blowing over the dumpsters and straight at us.

That wind got me a little more free time in the afternoon, though: I'd been scheduled to fly but my instructor called saying it was just too windy. The downside to that is that I haven't been up for nearly a month now. I filled in the time knitting, paying bills, printing labels for holiday cards and doing laundry. A wild life, it is. The conclusion from the bill paying is that I am still quite broke, between the missed paycheck when I transferred jobs, some money I owe Rudder from all our traveling, my holiday shopping,. I ought to be in better shape as I "borrowed" money from savings to cover the missed check, but in fact I have been spending like a fiend. My new raise would help a lot, except that less than half made it into my check after taxes. I think I may just have to run a balance this month and next on my credit card, a thing I usually try to avoid. However, I do still have the flight training reimbursement to look forward to and a bonus in February. And there ought to be a decent tax return, but that may go to replacing all our windows.

Anyway. On Saturday night I went to the local Stitch and Bitch group's sleepover at my friend Alison's business. (Alison was referred to as Pigtails in her rowing days, during the early years of this blog, but she uses her real name online so I suppose I can.) That was interesting - I never get out to S'n'B things due to lack of time but this one was at a time I could make and close to home. There were only about six of us there, but it was nice to meet people, and they seemed interesting. (Looking through someone's copy of Bust magazine was especially interesting as its content appears to be an odd combination of Jane, In Style, Ms., and Penthouse Forum.) I finally managed to get the eyelash yarn scarf for Rudder's grandmother untangled and completed, got a good start on another dishrag, and got some helpful advice on changing colors mid-row.

I also concluded that when subsituting powdered cumin for toasted cumin seeds in dressing, it's best to reduce the quantity by more than a little, and Rudder perfected his salmon-grilling technique (apparently a combination of butter and Jack Daniels is useful in getting the grill to flare up and give it just the right amount of blackening). Yum.

Posted by dichroic at 12:39 PM

November 21, 2004

Candles, dammit!

Note to merchants in the region of Chandler, Arizona: I am Jewish and I am here.

Your Christmas displays are all very nice but Christmas, despite the marketing pressure to start the holiday season earlier and earlier each year, is not unti December 25. Chanukah begis December 7 this year. I want my candles, dammit.

I'm talking to you, Michaels, with your aisles and aisles of candles. Christmas doesn't even need candles, now most people put electric lights on their tree. Chanukah observations require it - so where are they? And I'm talking to you, Pier 1, who try to cultivate such an international atmosphere. You have ginger-scented candles and pine-scented candles and beach-scented candles. How about some that will fit my menorah? I'll even forgo the scent. I'm talking to you, Walgreen, with your seasonal aisle full of wiggling Santas and gift wrap. And most of all I'm talking to you, Cost Plus's so-called World Market. How about those parts of the world that aren't Xtian? And how can you have a floor-to-ceiling banner talking about Chanukah, the Festival of Lights on which we kindle the "sacred Menorah" [sic] yet not have a single Chanukah item other than a few gift bags in blue and white with six-pointed stars? (Even there I had to check closely because they were mixed in with blue and white bags featuring Santa's elves.) And please, while I appreciated your salepeople's helpful attitude, it doesn't help when they tell me the holiday goods are stocked in phases. Chanukah is two weeks away!!!! It's not going to do me any good getting my candles in time for Christmas.

American is not a Christian nation. It's a nation founded on values with a historically Judeo-Christian background and grown on contributions by people of all faiths. Today we are a pluralistic society with many beliefs and many holidays. So how about we stock our stores that way??

My non-Jewish husband and I celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas. I wouold prefer not to start the holiday season already pissed off at Christmas for totally taking over my culture.

Posted by dichroic at 03:55 PM | Comments (3)

November 19, 2004


Before my head got hijacked again by the Israeli situation, I was thinking on more pleasant lines: holiday gifts. I do enjoy trying to find the perfect thing for each person. Rudder and I decided to buy a bed together - we just have a mattress, boxspring and frame, no headboard or footboard, and it's by the window so there's not even a wall to lean pillows on, and they tend to slip toward the window even while we're trying to get to sleep. The hazard, of course, is that it's already a comfy nest that's hard to persuade ourselves to get out of, and making it more comfortable may not help matters. I also have to get Rudder a gift for his birthday on the 23rd; so far I'm going with a ###### (letters omitted just in case he sees this for any reason) but still could change my mind and return it or possibly add something else.

I have the same issue with my brother and mother - needing both a birthday and a Chanukah gift. I've made a scarf for Mom, and she's asked for gym gear. I want to get her good wicking fabrics rather than cotton so it's just a matter of seeing what I can find that doesn't cost a fortune. (I have the same problem with my own workout gear - as much as I Like some of the things in the catalogs, I have issues with $40 sport tops (or $80 for fleece ones) and $60 pants.) I have one gift bought and ordered for the brother and just need another one now. He and my uncle are both fairly easy to buy for, because they have so many interests, and because I share enough of those interests to know what to get. I'm thinking of a nice leather passport wallet for my uncle. (The only problem with some of these gift ideas is making sure I don't repeat ones from previous years!)

Dad is the hard one. He doesn't have any hobbies to speak of but reading and napping, so this year I am going to combine pastimes and buy my father a husband. (You know, one of those pillows shaped for reading in bed - I just like saying it the other way.)

Yesterday, I had a revelation as to the perfect gift for one friend, but it's something I have to make - between that and a few other things, like untangling the scarf for Rudder's grandmother, my knitting needles will be busy. (I was binding it off when I realized I waw out of yarn and should have done so a row earlier. I tried to back up a row, dropped a stiches and now, several pulled-out rows of eyelash yarn back, am still in a hopeless tangle. It so was fast to knit that I'm tempted just to start over, but that's probably not the best idea.) I've got the Mobius scarf for Rudder's mother done, and he can deal with the rest of the gifts for his family. We also have to buy something for AR and OG, and maybe for Rudder's young cousins, but shopping for toys is always something to look forward.

Oh, and then there's a gift exchange - need to find something for that person. She's a reader and a knitter, and collects children's books - maybe I need a knitting book for kids? And then there are cards, lots and lots of cards since I have been so foolish as to sign up for not one but two list holiday card exchanges. Also, I htink the parents and grandparents in-law are coming for the holiday, so I believe some baking may be in my forecast, as well as assorted meal planning. For the rest of the next month, I may be found either on the erg (for the Holiday Challenge) or drowning happily in holiday clutter.

Posted by dichroic at 10:03 AM

November 18, 2004


I have a feeling work's about to be a little scary. Of the people who work in my department, one guy's off in military training about to be deployed to Iraq for a year, one guy's in the Czech Republic at our plant there for two weeks, and one guy's on vacation for two weeks. And then thee's me, in the job for about three weeks now. Yikes. There are other people in the department, but they all work on different stuff. Of course, the boss is still here....but I'm not sure if that's a helpful thing or not.

Posted by dichroic at 09:19 PM

November 10, 2004

you know WHO???

I am glad I posted those questions the other day. I wrote them not as a test but in hopes other people would share some of the off coincidences and bits of knowledge that please them. I'd have to say that succeeded, at least as far as coincidences go.

As a direct result of some ensuing conversation, one reader and I discovered some mutual friends.

Now, the world has always seemed smaller to me than the number of people in it would indicate. I was amused when we were two days out on a trail in Big Bend, one of the more remote parts of Texas, and someone hiking by the other way recognized me from Houston. I thought it was a little bizarre when we went to a rock-climbing class at Smith Rock in Central Texas and ran into someone I'd worked with at Penn. Aerospace is a smaller world, so I wasn't terribly shocked to walk through the halls at my company right before I left and run into a coworker from three jobs before who was just starting there, or to meet someone yesterday who had first hired a rowing friend of mine who used to work at yet another site in this company and is now in DC.

But this .... this is really weird. I'm not sure I can get across the oddness of this coincidence without lots of background and more details on other people than I want to give, but I'll try. This reader suggested that we might have some mutual acquaintances given our common interests and city of origin, so we exchanged a few details of who went to school where and so on, and I suggested a few names. Now, granted some of the interest communities are tight, but Philadelphia's a big, big city. It turns out that my best friend in high school was her best friend in junior high -- so I realized later on that some of the stuff she'd told me were things I'd already heard, back in about 10th grade from our mutual friend. We never had met, because none of us had driver's licenses yet so it was easy to lose touch after transferring schools.

That's not all of it, though. I have (still have) a friend I met when I was in college. He was a bit older but worked in one of the labs and used to hang out with some of my other friends. We became good friends when I got into folk music, because he'd been a fixture in that community for years. It turns out this reader has known him since she was a pup, because her parents were into some of the same groups. Now, he has no connection (that I know) of to my high school friends other than me and this reader; if they were ever met at all, it's likely to have been at my college graduation party.

This is just mind-numbingly odd. Or as she wrote, "There are only 87 real people in the world. All the rest are just bad special effects."

Anyhow, answers are below the cut tag.

  • What character appears in the works of both John Myers Myers and Susan Cooper? Golias in Silverlock is the archetypal bard; his use-name comes from medieval French romances and his other names are other mythical [song]makers throughout Western tradition. They include Widsith (Old English / Norse), Orpheus (Greek), Amergin (Irish), Demodocus (Greek again), Boyan (Russian) and the one I'm most familiar with, Taliesin (Welsh). It is Taliesin who guides Will and Bran through the Lost Land in Susan Cooper's The Grey King. Taliesin shows up also in Tennyson's Idylls of the King and, if I'm not misremembering, in Lloyd Alexander's Prydain trilogy, and in Charles de Lint's Moonheart (or maybe its sequel). He's an archetype and a well-known one; he makes appearances through a lot of fantasy.

    (And it's here I wish I were a fiction writer. You know how the subject of a wizard portrait in the Harry Potterverse can make appearances not only in adjacent frames but also in her or her other portraits hung anywhere in the world? What if Taliesin could rove throughout any of the books and myths in which he appears?)

  • Name one book written by the man whose own personal library has been transplanted to the top floor of the Philadelphia Public Library's main building.
    When he died, the book collector A. Edward Newton donated his books to the Philadelphia Free Library. Newton was a contemporary and frequent customer of Dr. A.S. Rosenbach. His wife and daughter decided that if the Library were getting his books, they ought to have the whole library as well and so it was dismantled and relocated from his house in the suburbs, Oak Knoll, tothe Central Library in Center City Philadelphia, on the sixth floor just past the rare books section. They even have lighted backdrops outside the windows to make it look as if the room looks outside. I visited the library in December of 2001. Nearly two years later I was reading Newton's The Book Collecting Game and was shocked to realize I had actually stood in his library. Other books by Newton include The Greatest Book in the World and Other Papers; A Tourist in Spite of Himself and A Magnificant Farce and Other Diversions of a Book Collector. I have The Book Collecting Game and The Greatest Book in my favorite section of my library, the books about books. (My library doesn't compare to Newton's by several orders of magnitude in almost any aspect, but I like it.)
  • When I was in college two of my favorite Japanese restaurants were named respectively Hikaru and Genji. For what literary reason is this amusing?
    The hero of Lady Murasaki's A Tale of Genji, which some people call the first novel ever published, is Hikaru no Genji, The Shining Genji. I think I learned about the coincidence of Hikaru and Genji while reading something speculating on Captain Sulu's first name. I still maintain a steady diet of F&SF is one of the easiest ways to become well-read, at least by proxy. (I mean, if you haven't read all the great stories and histories, you've at least read about a lot of them.)
  • Cite internal proof (in his songs or on his CDs) that Stan Rogers read Robert A. Heinlein.
    If the lines in Stan Rogers' song Lies, "So this is Beauty's finish / Like Rodin's Belle Heaulmiere / The pretty maiden trapped inside the ranch wife's toil and care" don't owe something to the analysis of Rodin's sculpture in Heinlein's A Stranger in a Strange Land, I will eat my copy of Stranger. There was something on one of Stan's album covers, too (From Fresh Water, maybe) but I can't remember now what it was.
  • In what way is John Adam's daughter Nabby's name the opposite of the word "apron"?
    The indefinite articles 'a' and 'an', and the possessive 'my' and 'mine' (archaic) sometimes bleed over into the next word. So "an napron" used to be "a napron" - this is also why you see "nuncle" for "uncle" in Shakespeare. John and Abigail Adams' daughter Abigail was called "Nabby" to distinguish her from her mother. I'm fairly sure that "mine" for "my" wasn't commonly used by the Adams' time but I'd bet Nabby for Abby, like Nan or Nancy as a nickname (originally "an ekename", meaning "an also-name" by the way) still sounded natural as sort of a survival from when "Mine Abby" would have sounded right.
  • Posted by dichroic at 10:14 AM | Comments (3)

November 08, 2004

the usual balance

The good news: Not only did I finish the Moebius scarf yesterday, late afternoon, but I thought I had enough yarn left for a matching hat -- and I finished that too! It's a simple hat with a roll brim. I got the basic pattern from the Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits, but it was in fact very simple and I got bored a couple inches in so I added some mini-cables. I would have posted a picture, but Rudder had the digi-camera and he didn't get back until bedtime last night. I'll try to post one tonight or tomorrow.

The bad news: Well, they finally put me on the correct server for my new job site. Translation: I got here this morning and couldn't log in. We got that straightened out with one phone call, but somehow in the process they screwed up my email and I still can't get into that. Sigh....

Tomorrow I'll post answers to my trivia questions, so there's still time if you want to try answering them or (even better) post your own. Though the point was really not the answers but to share the nuggets of knowledge, or as Ruthie says, "Isn't it great how everyone has their own things they geek out about?"

Posted by dichroic at 09:39 AM | Comments (1)

November 04, 2004

What the ENT said

I finally got to an ENT specialist tonight. He opines that my "benign positional paroxysmal vertigo", or something like that, is caused by displacement of otoliths, crystals found in the ear. On looking up the website linked there, I'm surprised that he didn't do the Epley Repositioning Maneuver that seems to be mentioned in most of the websites. He did give me some exercises, though - maybe they do the same thing.

He also prescribed what may be one of my worst nightmares: the No-CATS diet. That is, no caffeine, alcohol, tobacco or salt until the dizziness goes away. So fine, I can avoid Cokes for a while. I can stay away from even my occasional beer. I don't smoke anyway. But no salt? No SALT???? How on earth is that supposed to work? And doesn't he know pretzels count as a major food group? I don't think we even have any food in the house that doesn't have salt in it, except maybe the container of pepper. For example, tomorrow is a rowing morning; that means today's typical meal choices would be a salad (salt in the dressing), soup (ever examined the label on a can of Campbell's?) or maybe a baked potato (salted butter). The potato or salad probably aren't too bad, especially if I made my own vinaigrette for the latte, but they aren't unsalted either. I ended up having tortellini instead, with cilantro pesto, which also had salt, but at least it was one of the last ingredients. (Incidentally, I would have thought cilantro pesto would be pesto made with cilantro, not pesto made from cilantro instead of basil. Not something I'll buy again.)

The theory behind the No-CATS diet is that it will keep me from adding more fluid to my ears, in case that exacerbates the effects. I don't see it listed on any of the websites as a typical therapy, but I can't suppose it would hurt, either. I'll do my best to at least cut down on the salt, and I'll do all my exercises. But I'd have to be much worse off than I am to get me to give up on pretzels.

Posted by dichroic at 07:51 PM | Comments (3)

October 29, 2004

the familiar rides along

In honor of Hallowe'en, I'm wearing a griffin on my shoulder today. (Or possibly a gryphon; we haven't discussed his preferred spelling.) My new coworkers seem to be amused by him, which is a good sign, I think.

What has surprised me, though, is not how many people don't recognize what he is -- it seems entirely reasonable to see a beak poking through feathery fur and not think "griffin", especially since his back legs are tucked into my shirt for stability -- but how many don't know what a griffin is. Maybe I should poll on unicorn recognition. Clearly, some people had misspent childhoods.

I always have trouble with a thing I know well, remembering when and why I learned it. That means I never know what to expect everyone else to know, and what things they may just not have come upon. Not having kids is probably a contributing factor, since I haven't gotten to watch someone else learning all the things there are to know to live in the world.

Posted by dichroic at 01:26 PM

October 27, 2004


I am unreasonably excited by the fact that I got to work with my hair wet this morning. It took me ten minutes or less to drive from the gym where I shower after rowing to work. If I decide to join the gym at work, it will be even a little faster - the other gym is in the wrong direction from the lake, though only by half a mile or so. There are a couple other incentives for joining the work gym. The weight equipment isn't bad, though not as nice as my regular gym, but it does have two ergs, rumor has it the hot water is more reliable, and they provide towels so I wouldn't have to have wet ones hanging in my car every day. If I do join, it will probably be in addition to my current gym, not instead. The two together cost less per month than a lot of the fancier gyms, and neither requires me to sign up to any long committment.

I did actually do one productive thing at work today, talked to someone about what else I'll be doing, and have got my exercise ball / office chair all set up and my badge converted, so I feel like I'm settling in a bit. I won't really be settled until I know what I'm doing without asking and my own computer instead of a borrowed one, so that's all a few weeks away.

I wonder if we'll know who will be President of the US by this time next week? Either way, for a better perspective on what's really important and how much impact we all have, go out and look at the Blood Moon tonight. Even better, if you can, do it with someone's arm around you.

Posted by dichroic at 02:49 PM

October 26, 2004

it all evens out

I would just like to note that after steering a damn good course on one of the trickiest regatta courses in the world on Sunday, last night I managed to smack my head into a corner of my very own bedroom.

My left eyelid is still a little swollen and hurts, but at least it didn't develop into a full-blown black eye. That would have been a wonderful way to start a new job.

Posted by dichroic at 04:16 PM | Comments (2)

Here I am

Well, here I am in the new job. The boss is out of town this week, so there doesn't seem to be too much for me to do yet other than read documents and fight with IT over getting my account moved here. I'm sure a few weeks from now I'll be longing for calm again, but I expect this week to be on the slow side.

So that's two of the more nerve-wracking events of this fall over with and gone reasonably well so far: the big regatta and the job change. The next happening is company tomorrow night, which should be pleasant and not nerve-wracking at all. After that, there's only working on the IFR rating and the marathon regatta, both of which I get to take at my own pace.

One note: During my trip, the comments here got sledge-hammered with sp@m. In the process of trying to fix that from a hotel computer, I managed to delete some of the real ones, unfortunately. (Somehow, the character ";" got listed on my blacklist, so some comments containing it were deleted before I realized and stopped it.) So if you ever happen to notcie a comment of your missing, that's why - rest assured that I did read it and appreciate it when you posted, even if it's not there now.

Posted by dichroic at 02:40 PM | Comments (2)

October 20, 2004

a sad goodbye

All my work stuff is in boxes. My bag of Swedish fish is taped shut and the empty box of pretzels is in the trash. The exercise ball ball I use as a desk chair is deflated and boxed. All that's left is to send one more email, leave "Goodbye and Thank you" cards under my coworkers' doors, and go home.


It's been a good job and a great bunch of people to work with.

Then again, what do you expect of a day that started with hearing of a dead body found in a lake ... right after we got off said lake?

Tomorrow it's off to Boston for the big regatta, so likely this is the last entry until after that. Regatta results can be seen at the Head of the CHarles website:
Rudder: Event 3M Men's Club Single bow #8 race @12:49 EST on October 23rd
Dichroic: Coxing a Rocky Mt. boat, Event 15W Women's Masters Four bow #16 @11:04 EST on October 24th
If this does not work enter the main web site at and look around.

Posted by dichroic at 03:31 PM

October 19, 2004


I did some of my favorite kind of matchmaking today. Not the romantic kind; I honestly don't quite know how to assess whether people will do well together and if it doesn't work there's apt to be a mess to clean up. What I like doing is introducing people with common interests: in this case one father who's just begun homeschooling his kindergartner to another who has three kids being homeschooled (and one in the larval stage) and who is passionate and committed about it. There are some people who homeschool because it's easier for parent or child (I doubt those kids learn much). There are some who homeschool because they're afraid of what the kids might learn in a (gasp) public school. And then there are some who do it because they're passionate about educating their kids the best they can, who are willing to seek out resources and study curricula and their children to see how the two can be best put together. I think both of these guys are that last sort - at least one is and one might be or become so. So this matchmaking may help not only the parents but the children. I feel like I've done a good deed.

Counting down to my last day - packing files, both the physical and the electronic sort. Yikes.

Posted by dichroic at 02:43 PM

October 18, 2004


Scariest moment of the weekend: when Rudder-the-workaholic, the workout king, the masochist, commented that I'd been "working all weekend". Second scariest: realizing he was right. This weekend, I went to a dinner from Rudder's work, studied instrument flying weather reports and the Head of the Charles rules and racecourse, took a flying lesson, rowed int he double on Saturday and did a half-marathon on the erg Sunday, got about a foot and a half of scarf knitted, did most of my packing for the Boston trip, did three loads of laundry, made chili, and helped load Rudder's and She-Hulk's boats onto a trailer bound for Boston. At that, it was an easier weekend than planned, since I didn't have to plan or fly a cross-country or drive up to Flagstaff to meet the boat trailer.

I'm not sure normal people (if such animals exist) have weekends quite like that, at least not routinely.

Two more days here. My office looks like a moving zone, comprising boxes and stuff waiting to be boxed or tossed.

Thanks to all who posted comments over the weekend. It was very, very nice to hear from real people, especially in view of the 60 sp@mbot comments I've had to delete today (MTBlacklist is a wonderful thing.)

Finally, the poetry meme, one of the better memes I've come across lately - I've seen this all over, and have come across several poems I hadn't seen before. So here are my contributions, though I'm afraid neither is very obscure: one from Stan Rogers, who, I'm pleased to see, did make it into the CBC's longer list of great Canadians, if not into the top ten; and one from Gerard Manley Hopkins, because as an imperfect and quirky thing myself, I've always liked it.


Cold wind on the harbour and rain on the road
Wet promise of winter brings recourse to coal
There's fire in the blood and a fog on Bras d'Or
The giant will rise with the moon.

'Twas the same ancient fever in the Isles of the Blest
That our fathers brought with them when they went West
It's the blood of the Druids that never will rest
The giant will rise with the moon.

So crash the glass down, move with the tide
Young friends and old whiskey are burning inside
Crash the glass down, Fingal will rise
With the moon

In inclement weather the people are fey
Three thousand year stories as the night slips away
Remembering Fingal feels not far away
The giant will rise with the moon

The wind's in the North, there'll be new moon tonight
But we have no circle to dance in its sight
So light a torch, bring the bottle, and build the fire bright
The giant will rise with the moon.
- Stan Rogers, 1976, on: Fogarty's Cove

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things--
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Posted by dichroic at 03:33 PM

October 16, 2004

show some love

Could somebody do me a big favor? Could somebody NOT a spammer please leave a comment?

Roughly the last fifty comments in here have been spam and I'm getting very sick of it. Does anyone really think this is a good way to get me to buy prescription drugs or gamble online? Because I'd have to say even if I'd been planning to do either I wouldn't give my business to a spammer.

As it turned out, I was flying today, not tomorrow. Between that nad the fact that the FBO (flight school / pilot shop) didn't have currnet maps, I didn't do the cross-country after all, just a regular flight. The row with Marathon D was this morning too, and we're loading Rudder's boat on a trailer or Boston late tonight 9that being when we expect the trailer in from LA) which means I have nothing scheduled for tomorrow (other than laundry, food shopping and such. I'm very much looking forward to it.

But please, the comments.

Posted by dichroic at 08:10 PM

October 15, 2004

knit content and weekend plans

Wednesday on the way home there was a stop at Jessica Knits to pick up a gift certificate for our admin, who suddenly announced she was retiring. Of course I left without spending any additional money ..... OK, no, not really. There was some handpainted bulky wool in light blues and turquoise with which I hope to make a Moebius scarf for my mother-in-law for Christmas, and some light reddish mohair to make a lightweight scarf for me someday. This would all be after I complete the poncho, now about 3' long (you can see its beginnings here) and the scarf for Mom's early-December birthday, which is knitted with one strand each of purple cotton chenille, fine lilac GGH alpaca, and a novelty yarn with tufts of lilac or sage every few inches all held together. (I forget the names and don't have them here to look up.)

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the Berroco Medley scarf, and I gave it away today- just picture a small scarf garter-stitched in this yarn (the variegated one).

Today was the going-away luncheon for me, the aforementined retired admin, and another repatriating coworker who got her offer the same day I got mine. We gave the coworker a plant (with my Berroco scarf wrapped around the pot). To my great relief they did not doom any plantlife by giving it to me to kill but instead gave me a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. Apparently my coworkers do know me well after these two years together.

Weekend plans:
1. A work dinner from Rudder's place tonight - the company's anniversary or something like that. 2. Row with D, dodging around the duathlon, sailing lessons, and milk carton boat derby all being held on our lake tomorrow. 3. Plan a cross-country flight. 4. Execute said cross country flight. 5. Throughout, review Head of the Charles course for the very next weekend!!!

Posted by dichroic at 04:16 PM

October 14, 2004


Meme kipped from Fairmer. I'm interpreting "friends list" as anybody likely to be reading this.

A book you own that no one on your friends list does:
Probably lots but the one I'm most sure of is Deafness and Cheerfulness. It's circa 1901 and the title is an accurate description of what it's about. Books others are at least unlikely to own:
Hmmm. Can't include the rowing books, if being in the Livejournal Boathouse and Ergfreaks communities count as having them on my friends list. I doubt anyone reading this collects the Polly of Pebbly Pit series from the 1920s. Or Flying Machines, a coffee-table book of bizarre aircraft. Or Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World, about Scott's doomed Antarctic expedition. Or Antarctica: The Complete Story David McGonigal and Dr Lynn Woodworth, and inscribed to me by its authors. (Possibly some of you might have Diana Birchall's In Defense of Mrs. Elton, printed by the Jane Austen Society and also inscribed to me by its author.) Oh, and then there's Christopher Morley's Philadelphia, which if you're familiar with the city, you need to get. And anyway, I'd bet large sums of money no one else has any of those books in combination (except maybe the two Antarctic ones).

A CD you own that no one on your friends list does:
Not sure of the CD name but it's by Tribe Nunzio - it might be "How Long?" Z by Mary Zikos, but that's a cassette, not a CD. Rules of the Road by Alex Bevan. And So Shall We Yet, Bok, Muir, and Trickett.

A DVD/VHS tape you own that no one on your friends list does:
Rowing Through, unless any of the Boathouse people has that.

A place you've been that no one on your friends list has been:
I could say my parents' basement, but my brother sometimes reads this.
Antarctica. The bottom of a missile silo in Tucson. Osan, Korea. Buenos Aires? The Lower Caverns at Carlsbad. The South Rim at Big Bend. The top of Humphreys Peak, Arizona. Plush, Oregon. Lower Devil's Canyon, Arizona.

Posted by dichroic at 03:44 PM

October 12, 2004


Life is getting complicated again. The plan was to do a cross-country flight up to our high-country property this Sunday (it's on an airstrip) to get some more flying time and build up my cross-country hours, because I'll need a lot more than I have to get my IFR. The complications:

1. I didn't plan my flight last weekend so would have to do it Saturday.
2. I had forgotten that Rudder has to drive up to Flagstaff this weekend to get his boat on a trailer to Boston. He won't know exactly what time the guy will get there so it may be an overnight trip. He won't have to leave early Saturday but I'm rowing so can't do the planning in the morning. (Though I'm not rowing until 8:30. Hmmm...)
3. I like Flag and I like road trips with Rudder. I'd also like him in the plane with me because he's flown to the property before. He'll remember all the landmarks and be helpful at spotting them. I will have an instructor along, though.

So my options are either to blow off the flight or go without Rudder. Blah. I keep reminding myself this is supposed to be fun, so may take the blow-it-off option.

Another complication is that I don't yet know how transitioning to another business division will affect my IFR training reimbursement. I've got a couple of calls in to find out. They only reimburse after you've reached certain milestones (15 hours, taking the written test) and I don't think I'll manage either of those in the next week. The worst that can happen is that I'll end up having to pay for it myself, which after all is what I did for my private pilot rating and what Rudder did for both his private and his IFR. At the very least, the reimbursement policy will have done some good in kicking me into flying again.

The next Presidential debate, which will be right near me, is going to be a bit inconvenient. Tempe is the next town over - it's where I row several days a week and I go through it every day. They've got our lake closed on Wednesday after 9 AM, well after I'm off the water, so that won't be a problem, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to take my scheduled flying lesson. They've got restrictions on the airspace within 60 nautical miles of the debate until 9AM or so Thursday morning, though we may possibly be able to go with an IFR clearance.

Too many things going on, but at least they're all good ones.

Posted by dichroic at 02:27 PM

October 11, 2004

an unusual attitude

It was a productive weekend, I guess; I paid some bills, caught up on some sleep, spent too much money on new clothes and shoes (again - clothing is one of my temptations and Fall clothing is more so), rowed a double with D to make sure we won't hate rowing together in the marathon, reviewed the Head of the Charles course with Yosemite Sam, got to socialize with Rudder and D and Dr. Bosun and a crazy (former) Russian I asked because he was there and I didn't want to be rude (should have been rude. He's a jerk) and went flying, beginning to work on partial panel and unusual attitudes. Not a particularly busy weekend.

Note to nonaviators: Partial panel is when some of the flight instruments are covered to simulate instrument failure. Unusual attitudes are when the instructor has you close your eyes, jinks around a bit to get you disoriented (no trouble with me - still got that vertigo thing going, a bit), gets the plane pointed nose up or down and banked to one said, then says, "OK, open your eyes now. Your airplane," so you can get used to recovering to straight and level flight without getting into a spin or some dumb situation like that. Surprisingly, it was a little easier than I expected - but I'm not really looking forward to doing those with a partial panel.

Rudder and I also watched Rowing Through, a movie about the legendary rower Tiff Woods, the even more legendary coach Harry Parker, and the 1984 Olympic trials. It would have been a good movie to watch with the sound off. It had some of the most beautiful cinematography I've ever seen, with rowers swinging together in sweaty races or singles going out on eligiac fall Boston afternoons with the mist rising. On the other hand it was one of those sort of vague movies that kept skipping years of time with no explanation for why anything happened (why were all those young Olympic rower men knitting at the Olympic selection camp?) and dialogue I couldn't catch half the time. It was definitely worth watching .... listening to, I'm not so sure about.

This is my last full week working here at this site. I'm kind of sad, actually.

Posted by dichroic at 02:37 PM

October 08, 2004

home silent home

The parents left for home this morning. We enjoy having company, but it's also nice to get our house back to ourselves. For one thing, everyone over the age of 8 goes to bed later than we do, but the guest bath is right outside our bedroom door and we have to keep the door open a crack or face the Wrath of Cats. Listen to the Wrath of Cats, rather. Between that and having to cook or go out for real balanced meals we've been a little sleep-deprived this week. I don't have to be up until 7:30 tomorrow and I am mightily looking forward to that.

Mom came out to rowing this morning; she was, impressively, all bright and chipper and ready to go by 4:20 or so. I think she enjoyed it. I told the guys in the eight I was coxing that all those photos she was taking had less to do with me than with the sight of all those men in spandex. (She insists she was focusing on me. I think I'll check with Dad when they download the photos.)

In other news, I passed my Biannual Flight Review yesterday morning so I am once again a current pilot. Yay!

Posted by dichroic at 03:41 PM

October 07, 2004

a puzzle solved and a visit almost over

Got it! I think Toy Sub was a band. And it mattered to me because I met a guy who was in it (mmm, musician guys) and who, I think, lived in some basement apartment with the rest of the band. And this would have been back before I met Rudder, which makes it either Late Philadelphia or Very Early Houston, but well over a decade ago, and very brief, which would be why I couldn't remember it.

Phew. I feel better.

Otherwise, life is all meeting meeting meeting meeting >trytosqueezeinwork< meeting meeting, with all the usual work and getting ready to transition to the new job. The current plan goes: last day at old job, fly to Boston, compete in the Head of the Charles, fly home, first day at new job. Phew.

Then there are parents in the house when I get home. I fell unbelievably far behind in reading email even with all the spam filtered out and deleted about two pages unread this morning. Mostly it was all list stuff; I did check the subject line to make sure I kept any actual emails. I think my parents' visit went fairly well. It's been hard seeing how old my Dad's gotten (for someone not yet 70 and not retired) but Mom is doing great, working out and traveling and even taking some classes at her synagogue. I did have two days off to take them places and Mom was very brave and drove downtown to the Heard Museum all by herself yesterday (Dad was there but isn't wanting to drive any more than necessary). I'm not being snide; I know how hard it can be to drive in a strange city when you're nervous. The difference between us isn't lack of fearfulness but that I've never felt that was an excuse not to do something. I'm really happy that she's challenging herself more these days. She's going to come out for rowing and ride on the coaching launch; I wonder what she'll think of it.

Posted by dichroic at 01:21 PM

October 04, 2004

dodging the 'rents

Major advantage to being on vacation today: getting to watch SpaceShipOne fly into space on live webcast to win the XPrize. Honestly, I thought it would take much longer than this; not for the first time, I am very glad that there is such a person as Burt Rutan in the world.

On the other hand, they have the a news anchor with the weirdest haircut I've ever seen broadcasting.

Don't expect much in the way of entries here today or tomorrow; my parents are visiting and they have an annoying habit of wandering by and looking over my shoulder when I'm on the computer. (Mom's in the shower at the moment and I don't know if Dad's up yet.)

Yesterday we showed them our airpark property; today I'm taking them to see Biosphere 2, tomorrow the zoo. After that they're on their own while I go back to work.

Two minutes later:

SpaceShipOne made it has released from its parent ship!!!!!!

One more minute: They made it!!!!!

Posted by dichroic at 08:45 AM

October 01, 2004

Big news and a question

It's official. In a month or sooner, I will be transferring to another part of the same company - less than half the commute distance, a good salary increase (>10%), the word "manager" in the title (which seems to mean a lot here), and a chance to learn a new area while using what I'm beginning to think of as my core competencies: talking, writing, developing processes. I've officially accepted but my boss is out of town so the transfer date isn't set yet. For an internal transfer, it has to be negotiated between him and the new boss.

So yay!

Now, a question: why do I get the feeling that the words "toy sub" ought to mean something to me? I have a hazy association with college days and possibly Kurt Vonnegut's books, but can't remember any corroborating detail. Is it some sort of password or catchphrase? I did a web search but only turned up references to actual toy submarines.

It was a license plate on an SUV this morning, and was especially appropriate because the truck was decked out for serious off-roading, complete with snorkel.

Posted by dichroic at 05:04 PM

obligatory psa

Yes, I watched the debate. I thought Kerry did a bit better, but then I would, wouldn't I? I don't think there was a clear enough winner to change the mind of anyone who had already picked a candidate.

Whoever your candidate is, please go out and vote, if you're a US citizen over 18 and not a felon. Whoever wins, it's going to be pretty acrimonious around here come November; the last thing we need is yet another President picked by a small minority or, worse, another one picked by the Supreme Court.

My parents are coming in tomorrow, paying me only their third visit since I moved away in 1989. I've been trying to figure out things to do that won't be too athletic for my dad. I don't think he likes doing a lot of walking these days. (Note to self: IMAX movie.) I've also been trying to figure out what to feed them, since she keeps semi-kosher and he's got health-related diet restrictions on things like salt and sugar. Breakfasts are especially hard for me, since our normal weekend brekkers range from a Power Bar to instant oatmeal to picking up bagels to going out to eat. (Other note to self: look up recipe for Dutch Apple Pancake before going food shopping.)

I'm still a little dizzy; I've made a doctor's appointment for early next week. I hate to go when my parents are here because I'm afraid they'll worry more than it deserves. I did survive coxing this morning, so that's good; I think the vertigo is fading a bit, though not yet entirely. I may go to the doctor even if it's gone, since this is the second time it's happened. At least yesterday's drive home was a lot better than Wednesday's; I don't figure dehydration is the main cause of all this but it certainly did make things worse.

And thanks to a Lunch 'n' Learn sort of meeting, to which I figured if I could take lunch I could take my knitting, I've nearly finished my scarf of Berocco Medley. It's the Berroco Mix colorway which looks like the main body of this when knitted up. It's just a short thin decorative scarf, made for ornament rather than warmth. All it needs now is binding off and fringe.

Posted by dichroic at 03:03 PM

September 29, 2004

here we go again

My getting-out-of-bed line each morning is, more or less, "Here we go again". (Imagine a sardonically humorous tone here.) Of course it varies: the general gamut runs from "Oh, shit, here we go again," to "Here we go again - hey I get to do something fun today!" You wouldn't necessarily hear me say all that if you were actually in my bedroom (in fact, if you were actually in my bedroom when I woke up, my line would be anything from "Who the hell are you?" to "Uh-oh," depending how menacing you are). The usual soundtrack to my getting up is more like "Rrrrrr," or, if I'm particularly sore, "RrrrRRRrrR". You can take it from me, though, it more or less translates to "Here we go again."

What we also have here is a perfect illustration of how certain authors manage to establlish a foothold in my brain that lingers a while after I finish the book. The above can be blamed on my rereading a couple of Bill Bryson books in the last fwe days. Anyway.

I've often wondered what it would be like to have such a superlatively wonderfully Proper Job that I bounded out of bed each morning with a song on my lips. (Actually, it would probably still sound like "Rrrrr," at least until I had splashed water on my face and brushed my teeth.) I'm not really sure it's realistically possible. As I've said before, I do like my current job quite a lot, though I wouldn't call it my Proper Job in the Gaudy Night sense of the words. Anyhow, my bed is large and very comfy. Sheets are flannel. Pillows are feather and down. Comforter is down and flannel covered. (We've discovered that flannel, being soft and absorbent, is as comfortable in Arizona summer as in northern winter.) Most of all, Rudder is snuggly, and it's finally getting cool enough for me to begin appreciating his thermal properties. I'm not sure there's any kind of work in the world that would make me eager to leave that bed.

That said, I've been offered a new job (same company) so we'll see how my mornings go - I'm just hoping for a good ratio of "Oh, good" to "Oh shit" before the "Here we go again" part. At the very least, I'll be spared the part about "Here we go again with a forty mile drive to work."

Posted by dichroic at 12:54 PM

September 28, 2004

conflicting causes

Baxk to work today - fortunately it's been a calm sort of day, relatively. Actually, driving in wasn't a problem and neither is sitting at a computer. Both are activities where you tend to keep your head fairly still. What's been more of a problem are "real-life" sorts of activities, like getting water or going to the bathroom, where I might happen to look up or down. Still, I think the dizziness has been less frequent than yesterday. I can't quite tell whether that's because I move my head less in an office setting or because it's really better.

I'd have to say I don't really understand the reasons for this. The doctor said it was most likely due to a combination of some fluid he saw behind my eardrums and low electrolytes. Considering it came on right after doing a marathon, the electrolytes seem far more likely.On the other hand, if that were the main cause, I'd think the dizziness would just be more or less constant, not only when I tilt my head. That seems more like an inner-ear thing.

I'm not dwelling on this because I'm a hypochondriac - it's just that I'm an engineer and I'm frustrated because the proximate and ultimate causes don't seem to be matching up in a logical way. At any rate, there's no queasiness so the whole experience is just a little strange, not particularly unpleasant. I do expect to row tomorrow (but a light workout, in case the low-electrolyte thing is true).

On the positive side, there may be some good things about to happen at work. More tomorrow or so on that.

Posted by dichroic at 03:29 PM | Comments (1)

September 27, 2004


Oig. I think I was a little behind on my hydration Saturday (though Egret's excellent matzo ball soup certainly helped) and was feeling just a wee touch unbalanced going into the erg marathon. After it and ever since, that "wee touch" has become the sort of dizziness that necessitates holding on to a handy sofa cushion, railing or husband when tilting my head - not every time, oddly enough, but frequently.

On the plus side, it made me feel much more jusitified in calling in a post-marathon sick day. Rudder took one too (after rowing in the morning, the masochist) so he was nice and handy when I needed to hold on to him.

I did go see a doctor just in case it was something to worry about; after hearing the whole story and checking me out he concluded it was probably just a combination of a bit of (allergy-induced) fluid behind the eardrums and low electrolytes. He prescribed taking it easy for a few days and trying to drink a lot and eat fruits rich in potassium. I will say it's an entertaining sort of malady, sort of like having a roller coaster in my head.

I canceled my flying lesson tomorrow, though, just because it didn't seem like a great idea to fly dizzy. I hated to, because I hadn't flown over the weekend, but better rusty than risky.

Posted by dichroic at 06:15 PM

September 24, 2004

family at holidays

As ways for resetting your moral compass, there's solitude and reflection and then there are friends. Maybe there's a reason that, though the High Holy Days are a time for introspection, they begin and end with big services that are held in community, usually with big crowds showing up.

My family has never been that observant. We went to holiday services and some Shabbat services, lit Shabbat and Chanukah candles (though not Havdalah candles) and my brother and I went to Hebrew school, but we didn't keep kosher, recite the Shema when we woke up and other blessings through the day, or go to daily services. For holidays, we'd have a big family dinner, but without doing a full-blown Seder at Passover or all the blessing of bread and wine before and thanksgiving prayers after other meals.

Now that I'm a few thousand miles away without too many other Jews around, I like to celebrate major holidays with a big dinner of my own. We usually invite friends over (even though I generally have to explain what the holidays are) and have had T2 and Egret several times.

I didn't get to do much for Rosh Hashanah this year: too much going on and it happened midweek. But Egret decided we'd had them over too many times and she needed to reciprocate, so she invited us over for dinner for Yom Kippur.

I will wait while you all go "Awww...." and then "Uh-oh."

No, I didn't have the heart to point out that it's traditionally a fasting holiday. I don't fast these days anyway, so it didn't seem terribly relevant. But what a gesture of friendship. She's not Jewish, mind you (actually, I think she has about 1/4 or 1/8 Jewish blood, but was brought up Catholic). I did have to laugh the other day when she asked she needed to put out salt water and parsley or if that was another holiday. Then I had to sniffle today when she told me her menu: Chicken soup. Matzo balls. An apricot chicken recipe she found at a Jewish site. Again: not Jewish. Just trying to make a friend feel loved. (Oh, and also homemade bread and chocolate cake. Mmm.)

Now you can go "Awwwww...*snif*" without the "Uh-oh" afterward.

Posted by dichroic at 01:35 PM

September 21, 2004

mighty big car (not!)

It was actually in the high 60s this morning as I drove to work. Driving in with the top down and the heater on just a touch to warm my feet.... ahhhh. And Fred Eaglesmith playing to set the driving mood.

At least half of Fred's songs are about car sin one way or another. It was funny, the only time I drove Rudder's Hummer, the Orange Crush, in to work, listening to the Eaglesmith CD for the first time, when his song "Mighty Big Car" came on. It was even funnier today, hearing it as I drove the Mozzie, my tiny convertible. I felt like a mosquito with delusions of elephancy.

The KnittingNovices discussion group has been having a thread lately on things to do while knitting, like watching old movies or listening to books on tape. One woman mentioned using a cookbook stand to read while she knits. (An idea I should try.) I replied with the following, which I suspect may not be a popular view on that particular list:

I've used books on tape while driving and for long pieces on the rowing machine (Harry Potter V will take you through quite a few 10-20 km pieces :-) but if I'm downstairs in my house, as I usually am while knitting, there are *all those* books around and I can't resist their siren song. In fact, one of the reasons I took up knitting was to having something to do with my hands while reading. (I can't do beadwork and read.) I tend to sit sideways in a big comfy chair, so my book rests on my knees and my knitting basket is on the floor beside me. It can't be more than a few inches from the chair or the trailing yarn is long enough to fascinate the cats.

I won't say it's always easy doing both at the same time; this is why I don't anticipate doing any complex lace patterns any time soon. But if I had to give up one or the other, it would be no contest - the knitting would have to go. I read about like I breathe - constantly and by necessity. Incidentally, one tip that may be useful is that magazines are a bit easier to combine with knitting than books. They stay open flat and tend to require a bit less focus.

I can just see people reading that and thinking, "Rowing machine? People actually use those? Lots of books in a house? Why would you do that? And giving up knitting for reading? Is she mad?"

On the other hand, someone else remarked about knitting while listening to audiobooks, "Don't they get in the way of the conversations you have with yourself?" That struck me for a moment, until I realized that my first reaction had been, "You need silence to have conversations with yourself?" I don't even need quiet to have conversations with other people. I know people who require an uninterrupted block of time in which to read, or who can't talk when there are interruptions; I can participate in one conversation while casting asides into another (at a party, for example) and will always rather read than not even if I only have time for half a page. I think it may be easier for me to multitask than not to. Born that way, I guess. It's just as well, because I think my life would drive me insane otherwise.

I may also try to scale back keep only my hands busy this Saturday, Yom Kippur, when I would like to pay a little more attention to the "conversations I have with myself." Or Whoever.

Posted by dichroic at 02:30 PM

September 20, 2004

nope, didn't win

Bummer. Didn't win a contest I entered. I didn't really expect to, both on the logical premise that loads of other people were bound to be entering, some of them more talented, and on the less-logical grounds that I had a strong hunch I owuld win and my strong hunches are so invariably wrong as almost to constitute real psychic powers, just in the backwards direction.

I can console myself on two grounds. First, I honestly thought my own essay was better-written than most of the several winning ones I read, much of the credit for which should go to my proof-readers. It was just a different sort of thing, less personal than any of the winning ones. (Except perhaps the one about mushrooms. How you can give a "power of purpose" award to an essay on mushrooms with only a small and inconclusive digression on an unnamed person's story defeats me and my logical brain.) I mean here "better written" mostly in terms of style, I should say; several of the winners had excellent substance, delivering more emotional impact than my essay.

Second, I entered because Mer told me to. She thought my writing would suit the contest and was good enough, and I take that as a huge compliment.

So now I have an essay on the common theme of a driving purpose and its power to unite people to a common and difficult goal, and no idea what to do with it. It's sort of an exhortatory thing. I can't think of anyone who does much with that except motivational organizations like Franklin Covey, and they seem to lean more towards epigrams than essays. Oh, well. I suppose honing a skill can never be entirely a waste, and I probably got enough fun to be repaid for my work just in thinking what I'd do with $100,000.

Posted by dichroic at 02:43 PM

September 19, 2004

a yarn-store yarn, or a real-life parable

Rudder has spent the last hour watching a TV show about making the world's biggest slice of toast. For a man who is so hyperactive, he has a surprisingly high tolerance for TV inanity between his spurts of activity.

Yesterday I went to check out a local yarn store I hadn't been in befor. I meant to get two sets of needles (metal for some boucle yarn that wasn't sliding over bamboo ones, wood for another project I want to take on a plane next month), needle gauge, and some better stitch markers. I got talked into trying a Denise set (only about $15 more than the individual needles would have been) and also ended up buying the markers and gauge, a book (Treasury of Magical Knitting by Cat Bordhi on knitting Moebius-strip scarves) and of course some yarn. Oops. After that splurge I'm attempting to talk myself out of a visit to the shoe store today.

On the more virtuous side, I set a new PR for a half-marathon erg yesterday (21097 meters, 13.1 miles) and took my 3rd IFR flying lesson today.

While I was in the yarn store, a woman bustled in talking on a cell phone and briefly interuppted her conversation to say that she was a teacher directing a group of children making masks, and could the store donate any yarn? Some of the girls wanted it for hair. The store employee referred her to the owner, who was at a worktable in back of the store. The teacher said, "Oh, I'm really in a hurry, could you just ask her for me?"

It gets worse. The employee patiently explained that the teacher would do better asking for herself. She ungraciously told the person on the other end of the cell phone she'd call back, turned off the phone, walked to the back of the store and explained her mission again. The store owner explained that they had several charities to whom they already donated scrap wool. The teacher said, "But I'm a teacher! And I don't have much money for these things. Well, could I at least be put on your list for next year?" The store owner explained that there was a waiting list. At that point a customer working at the back table offered to donate her own scraps for the students. The teacher spent at least five or ten minutes bustling back and forth kooing for her cards, not finding them, and making a production of giving the woman her phone number. Then she said something like, "I used to do all this stuff (gesturing around the store) but I'm way too busy to just sit around a yarn store knitting these days."

To her credit, the other customer did not immediately withdraw her offer to donate yarn. Instead, she told the teacher, "Actually, I work taking care of homeless back home in Puerto Rico," and then listed several other things she does, all both noble and time-consuming. I wanted to go over and cheer for her after the teacher had left (reminding the other woman several more times to call her about the yarn) but I settled for talking to her while I was trying some sample needles to see if I liked them. She was very interesting. I think still another customer did say something about her being a "good person", because I heard her respond, "No, I am not a good person. But I try to be one. That is all you can do, to try."

Pity she couldn't send herself along with her scrap yarn to those kids making the masks, I think they might have learned more of value from her than from their own teacher.

Posted by dichroic at 03:03 PM

September 16, 2004

the good and the ugly

They're forecasting us a high of 98 Saturday, 91 Sunday, and 88 Monday. Yay!!!! Finally down out of the 100s. With luck, and given the way our seasons tend to change all at once, it will stay out.

Tomorrow I have meetings from 10-11:30, 11-12:30, 12:30-1:30. Even aside from the not-unusual overlap, this is a problem, given that the cafeteria is open 11-1 and that I am Not Functional if I go too long without food.

Posted by dichroic at 03:54 PM

yet another no-free-time rant

How not to portray a professional image or impress people: arrive 15 minutes late for an 8AM meeting. I allowed 40 minutes for a drive that should take 25 even during rush hour, and it ended up taking me an hour or a little more. Which is pretty scary when you consider it takes 40-60 minutes to drive tomy current office, more than twice as far away. This is not a good way to get away from having to make that commute.

Meanwhile my job is busy enough that I won't be able to work from home Friday, as I had hoped. Actually, if I had been smarter I would have gone home and telecommuted after my morning meeting today, since that was on my side of town and I only have one other meeting today which I could have called into. Drat. (No, wait, I did have one more. It just got canceled. So I'm not colluding in my own lack of time.)

I notice this particularly in reading other knitters, in blogs or newsgroups. People are always writing about finishing a sweater in five days or a poncho in a week or whatever. Me, I'm lucky if I get to knit more than one row in a day. O course, it would be faster if I weren't trying to read at the same time, but I'd be far more likely to keep reading and quit knitting than the other way around. Books are my sine qua non.

Posted by dichroic at 01:36 PM

September 15, 2004

booking it

Some people just shouldn't be allowed into a bookstore when they're even mildly ticked off. I decided to spend my luch hour spending on my favorite vice. Fifty dollars later...
...I remembered why I don't generally go into bookstores on my lunch hour.

The ticked off part was just because of the way work's been going; the boss has been edgy and I've had meetings starting at 8AM, meetings ending at 5PM, and everywhere in between. At least the boss seems a little calmer today, though my schedule's not.

Also, I had a pleasant moment of self-realization when I was asking someone at work if she knew just where this bookstore is (it's in a very confusing shopping center). I happened to mention that I could as easily go to DSW (discount shoes) in the same center, and she said, "Oh, shoes! That would be much better than books!" My visceral reaction was, "Not even close," much as I do like shoes. So yes, I'm still me. I may have to act all professional sometimes and even (gasp) pretend to be tactful, but it's kind of nice to know basics don't change.

One of the things I bought was Maggie Righetti's Knitting in Plain English. Paging through it, I think I've figured out how to make my poncho project much less of a pain in the ass. The problem is, it's only a 3-stitch repeating pattern but when I make a mistake I can't see it on this openwork pattern so it tends to be much later when I notice it and this pattern is hard to unknit. I'm spending way too much time recounting to make sure I still have 45 stitches in each row. I think the solution may be to place markers every 6 or 9 stitches, so I can see where I am more easily. (This is probably a "Duh" moment for experienced knitters, of whom I am emphatically not one.)

Posted by dichroic at 05:31 PM

September 14, 2004

avgas WHERE?

I feel like an undercover superhero today. Mostly it's just the clothes, though.

It actually took me some time to decide what to wear today, since I had a flying lesson before work. I needed something I could climb around an airplane in (which lets out tight short skirts). A bigger problem was that it's hard not to get dirty - it's even worse with the newer Cessna 172s (which this was) because instead of having to check the fuel at a sump point (to make sure it's avgas and to look for water or grit in the fuel) on each wing, you now have to check it in 13 places. Thirteen! There are five on each wing and three on the underside of the belly, which necessitates getting down on the ground. For obvious reasons, the ground at an airport is often not a miracle of cleanliness. That is probably my least favorite engineering decision on the new Cessnas. Also, since I was flying at 5AM, I'd be doing all that in the dark.

I didn't want to be too hot, knowing I'd be sweating anyway by the end of the lesson. (Instrument flying is hard!) I didn't want to have to change for work because I knew I'd be in a hurry, since it's forty miles and I had an 8AM meeting. And of course, there's that annoying professionalism thing.

What I came up with was a black camisole, black jeans, and a long loose plum-colored shirt to be left in the car during the lesson and worn over the outfit for work. I got a glimpse of myself in a mirror after the lesson and realized I looked like an extra for Charlie's Angels in the camisole and black stretch jeans. (Maybe an extra who would need a bit of digital touchup, but still.) If I could do a spinning kick at all, I could do one in this getup. Moreover, the tunic on top is closed with snaps, not buttons, so if the need arose I could rip it off dramatically without even needing a phone booth.

I did manage to keep relatively clean, except for a spritz of avgas down my cleavage. Think Rudder would consider that sexy?

Posted by dichroic at 01:31 PM

September 13, 2004

wine, flying, ponchos, elves...yeah, I'm rambling again

I'm just going to have to give up drinking red wine on the evenings before rowing. It just unsettles my stomach too much, drat it. This morning I got all the way out to the lake and then decided it wasn't going to work and came back home, which of course is a serious waste of potential sleeping time. I tought about erging but decided not to by virtue of yesterday's half-marathon in two parts (12.2 km in the boat, 9 km on the erg). Unfortunately I'm also going to miss tomorrow's workout because I've got a flying lesson. I've really got to ping D about that marathon. This would all be a bit easier to manage if I knew I weren't doing it, and it would at least have a point if I am.

After all that fuss about having the erg marathon on Yom Kippur, it turns out I have an (internal) interview on Rosh Hashanah. I'm not sure whether to regard that as a Bad Thing or an appropriate augur of new beginnings.

On the clothing front, I'm wearing the poncho I bought yesterday, and it seems to be working; I've gotten three compliments, one effusive, and no cries of "What the hell are you wearing?" It's a dressy, indoors one, lightweight in a delicte lacy knit, waist-length and with slits at the side that come up to my elbows, so it's not in the way for writing or typing, and is in shades of green and brown. More elf/sprite clothing. (Do elves wear ponchos?) . I like elf clothing, actually, and have a distressing paucity of it in my wardrobe these days. It's hard to be both corporate and elvish - good thing I don't actually have to be terribly corporate, engineers as a group not being known for their fashion senses. Or for being elven, I suppose.

Posted by dichroic at 03:13 PM

September 12, 2004

my sports: flying, rowing, shopping

I shouldn't be here. I should be over on my bank site paying bills, or over on Excel preparing some stuff I have to do later in the week or possible somewhere else productive.

Yeah, right. I like to think of it not so much as "procrastinating" but as "getting warmed up to work". That would be more convincing if it didn't take as long as the actual work.

Yesterday morning I went flying, piloting a Cessna 172 for the first time in a couple of years - we did both some under-the-hood instrument work and some basic landing practice. I actually was less rusty than expected, and got compliments from both the instructor and, by far the harder to impress, from Rudder, who was riding along in the back seat. After that I went for a massage, having been sore as a consequence of making some changes to my rowing stroke, and then completed my financial ruin with a binge at the mall.

J.Jill was especially productive; I came away with a skirt and microsuede shirt that when combined, need only soft boots and pointed ears to make a perfect elven costume (it's my hippie side coming out) as well as a pair of pants that, unusually for that store, actually fit. Well, almost; I had to order the petite size.