More depressing than intended

by dichroic in daily updates

I’ve been rereading Georgette Heyer’s The Convenient Marriage. It’s funnier than I’d remembered, but the prejudice against women is just appalling. It’s not the obvious stuff that’s bothering me, like the double standards the hero and heroine are held to – I can ignore that as an artifact of its time, and actually Horry, the heroine of this one, has a surprising amount of agency. Not only does she propose to Lord Rule (to Sacrifice Herself on the Altar of Sisterly Love, or in plainer terms to save her older sister, who loves someone else) though he does later solicit permission from her mother (not her brother!) but after her marriage at 17 she instantly becomes a queen of society, with a social circle independent of her husband’s. This one is set in the Georgian period, not Regency times; Horry has gorgeously decorated satins instead of plain muslins, has young men visiting her bedroom to help her decided which patch to wear, and perhaps more freedom overall for women.

It’s not even the fact that Horry is continuously outsmarted and outmaneuvered by her husband that bothers me; given that he’s literally twice her age I should hope that he’s learned something over those years! What appalls me here is the need to sacrifice any of the sisters: Lord Rule wants to marry into the Winwood family because of its prestige, for some reason that is never well explained, but one of the Winwood girls has to marry Rule for his money – because of their brother’s Fatal Tendency to gamble deep. The family needs money, so one of the girls must marry a rich man; originally the eldest and most beautful sister is betrothed despite her Love for Another and is only saved by her youngest sister’s initiative. And nobody sees anything wrong with this, with a brother’s bad habits forcing his sister to be sold to save the family. They treat his “tendency” as an inescapable family fate, and it does run in the family – Horry gambles too, as soon as she is married and is allowed to, but there is no indication that it might beworse than a bad habit, if it ruins someone else’s life. The brother, Pel, is presented as a sympathetic character – not too bright, but with a good heart. He’s willing to go to great effort to support his sister when she’s in trouble, but there’s no sign of guilt or that he owes her anything.

It would be easier to dismiss all this if it were truly a reflection of social mores in the late 1700s – but for all her research, Heyer published this in 1934. It’s a reflection of her time, not George III’s, and her time is not so very long ago. My maternal grandparents were married in 1936; in 1934 they were dating, trying to earn enough money to marry on in those Depression years. Heyer’s book would have been fluffy escape reading for people dealing with the realities of a harsh time, and though she might have been portraying the customs of an older time, she still needed to be writing plots that would go down easily for her contemporary readers.

Even more depressing, here we are 84 years on, a long lifetime later, and we’re still hearing people who think it’s reasonable when a boy’s light action ruins a girl’s life, who still say it’s OK if he didn’t really mean to harm her. Or didn’t realize. Or couldn’t help himself.

back again

by dichroic in daily updates

So much for trying to re-establish a blogging habit – one disruption and I forgot all about it. I did decide to work from home (the lake home) all last week; it was wonderful and went very well, except for having to pay some data overage fees. However, the fees for 3 Gb of extra data were somewhere close to the minimum we’d need to pay every month to get wifi in that house (and were much cheaper than getting an unlimited data plan from Verizon!) so I guess this is what we’ll be doing any other time we work from that house, for the foreseeable future.

I was able to do a considerable amount of knitting while there, so I’ve now finished the initial knitting on this sweater.

Next comes the hard part: steeking, to turn the pullover into a cardigan. I need to sew (with a sewing machine, which is not something I have any experience with) along both sides of that from channel, then cut between the stitches, After that I need to pick up stitches and knit the plackets for buttons and button holes. I probably won’t get to that for a couple of weeks – I want to tackle it on a weekend at home, and we’re going to the beach this weekend. I’ve got a sock still in progress, but have cast on a couple other projects anyway: a sweater, because I want some plain knitting for car rides and telecons, and a shawl for a swap I’m doing.

(I was amused recently when John Scalzi announced the new “digest” topic he’d be using once or twice a week, because it sounds like the way I always have blogged, multiple topics at once.)

So back to my other usual topic, rowing. This is the time of year when I always start building up distance to get ready for the Holiday Challenge.  I did get out a bunch of times while we were at the lake, but in general, I’m in terrible shape this year. I still work out five times a week, but I am noticeably slower than I used to be (less speed at the same perceived level of effort) and a lot of my workouts are only 5 km or so.  I did do 10 km on Monday, but only 5 km yesterday.

Part of that is in the head rather than the body, and I do know from experience that as I begin to build distance my brain adapts; it learns to zone out so I can row longer distances without it asking “are we done yet? are we almost done?” every 200 meters. Part of it, I’m afraid, is age. According to the US Rowing Masters handicap table, speed drops off more and more precipitously with increasing age. In a 1km race, I would get about a 14 second handicap at my current age, so it seems reasonable to expect my splits (projected time to row 500 m at a given level of effort) to drop by about 7 seconds. It’s probably not linear in real life, in that I suspect the average split for a marathon would not really drop off at the same rate as that for a 1000m race, but that’s still an easy approximation.

Part of it, though, is needing to get butt on erg and do more meters. Sigh.

where to work

by dichroic in daily updates

Today’s dilemma: work from home next week or come in? The ‘home’ in question would be the lake house, Rowell; Ted and probably the cats will be there all week, Ted on vacation and the cats just being cats. I can’t take the time off, but I could work from there. If I don’t, I will have to drive up and back twice myself, so it’s an extra 6 hours or so drive time, plus having to drive the other 6 hours (one round trip) by myself instead of with Ted. If I do, I will have to call in to one meeting it would be (somewhat) better to attend in person, and will miss the first rehearsal for choir for this season. (The advantage to belonging to a choir at work is that there is a general understanding that sometimes work happens and you can’t make a rehearsal. No one will be censorious if I don’t attend; I’ve just been looking forward to it for weeks.)

Also, it’s nice working while looking out at a lake rather than a cube wall, though admittedly my office desk is more ergonomic.

I am very glad to at least have the option – though my boss did say I needed to notify our next-level manager, who will be at that one meeting.

Oolong notes: the smoke has been gone for a week or so, but she’s still coughing and sneezing and being generally snotty. I’m not sure how much of that is a delayed effect, and how much is because the weather is now being volatile, switching between summer and fall in typical August fashion.

Otherwise, life is going well – real life, I mean, not work – because I’m halfway through the last Kate Daniels novel, which arrived yesterday, and in another few days the latest October Daye book will be arriving. I’m sure I’ll have Kate Daniels withdrawal, but at least there’s more by Ilona Andrews; I haven’t yet read the first book of the related Blood and Iron series, and I’m also enjoying the Innkeeper series, as the latest book has a new chapter posted online every week or so.

Local wine!

by dichroic in books, daily updates, wine

What’s better than a festival where you can taste wine from a bunch of local wineries in one place? A wine festival a little more than a mile from your own house … that happens a day after the weather has finally broken, with comfortable temperatures and no smoke. The air quality has been awful here for weeks due to fires all over the Western US and Canada but it finally cleared out yesterday, at the same time lowering the high temperature of the day from the 90s to the 70s.

We rode our bikes to Orenco for Taste the North Valley, and got to taste a couple wines from about ten different wineries. They didn’t have as much food as I expected – only one vendor selling shrimp couscous and chciken Cordon Bleu, which seem like odd choices if you’re only going to have two things. But the shrimp was excellent, and there are a whole bunch of restaurants right there anyway, for anyone who wanted more choices. Great way to spend a Friday night – and since the event started at 4 and we’d bought tickets in advance, it also gave me a great excuse to end a meeting that didn’t seem like it was going to end in any other way. (It was also clear that longer discussion was not likely to be productive.) So yay, though I probably do still need to do some work this weekend.

On a completely different note, how did I never before read Diana Wynn Jones’ Power of Three, when I’ve had the book (real book, not Kindle) right here for years? And also, how did I never read the very Elizabeth Goudge-ian novella “Everard’s Ride” at the end of Jones’ collection Unexpected Magics, when I’ve definitely read Little Dot and some of the other stories in the book? Not that I’m complaining about having new DWJ to read!

by dichroic in daily updates

Looks like our respite from snot is ending; Oolong has been hacking and coughing though not quite as mucus-y as she was in spring (yet). It’s not surprising; due to fires across the PNW, our air quality is currently rated Unhealthy. Oolong is an indoor cat so she spends her life in an air-conditioned climate, but clearly she’s especially sensitive to pollens and pollutants.

It was nice while it lasted.

Meanwhile Tuesday was an expensive day. On the way back from last weekend’s family reunion, somehow my water bottle tipped over in my bag and wasnt completley closed. The water didn’t go all over the bag, but seemed to end up in my iPad, Kindle and knitting. The knitting is fine, of course, and luckily so is the Kindle. The iPad, not so much. I left it sitting in rice for two days, but when I pulled it out and plugged it in it still refused to power up. When I pulled out the sim card, it was still damp. That two-day delay also convinced me that I really missed having a tablet around; I use it for knitting patterns, GPS (easier to see than a phone), recipes, missing object games (hard to do on a phone) and generally just having information at my fingertips on a screen big enough to read it. So Tuesday after work, I first tried taking it to the Geek Squad and was informed they pretty much don’t fix water damage and that Apple might but it would cost weeks and hundreds of dollars. Then the Best Buy salesperson informed me they had no iPad Pros and no 9.7″ iPads with cellular capability in tthe store, so I went across the steet to Verizon. The person there confirmed the same story about getting it fixed, but sold me a new iPad. At least I “saved” around $400 by buying a regular iPad instead of replacing my iPad Pro; the Pro has a better display but not $400 better. Also one of the reasons I bought the previous one was to use the Apple Pencil – the regular iPads can do that now. I debated getting a Mini, but am not sure I want to go that much smaller – it’s enough bigger than my phone to definitely be useful, but I can imagine it still being hard to read street names or find hidden objects in a game.

Surprisingly, and very unlike the last few times I bought a device, I was out of there in under half an hour clutching my new toy. Of course that meant I had to go home and sync it to my computer but at least that can be done while I do other stuff. Unfortunately it had been nearly a year since I synced the old one! But it’s not like I keep a lot of data updated on the iPad; most documents I use are on the Cloud or Google Docs and other apps like Pepperplate, which I use for recipes, sync to an online account so nothing is lost. I’ve also been mostly storing new Notes in the cloud. The only thing I seem to be missing is all of my knitting patterns (even though I keep them in Goodreader, which was supposedly synced to the cloud). Ravelry saves me there; I can just re-load most of my patterns from there.

The one remaining issue is that the keyboard/cover from my iPad Pro won’t fit this one, and I hate carrying it around naked – it feels too fragile and too easy to drop.  In my experience it’s much, much cheaper to order a cover from Amazon than to buy one in either Beet Buy or Verizon; if I’m lucky the ones I bought Tuesday (separate cover and keyboard) will arrive before we head to the lake tonight. Yesterday I had a brilliant idea: I went looking for iPad keyboards on Amazon Prime Now, which delivers in just a few hours (the one I’d already ordered was only about $10, so having an extra would be OK). Not only did I find one, I found one that was $17 for a cover with built-in keyboard, that normally retails for $119. It was only an hour or two later, with the thing already out for delivery, that I realized I’d ordered an iPad *mini* cover. Oooooops. Not expecting this to work but figuring it was worth a try, I called Amazon to ask if I could just, like, give it back to the delivery person to return. Amazingly, they were able to cancel the delivery, refund the delivery fee, and even give me back a $5 credit I had that was used on the purchase. Shocking, in a very nice way.

both my wrist and my social skills are feeling overworked

by dichroic in daily updates

We had a great weekend with Ted’s family celebrating his maternal grandfather’s 100th birthday (with luck, we’ll be able to do the same for his other grandfather in 3 years). All of his descendants were there except one who’s currently living abroad – the most exciting part was getting to meet the new baby who made this a five-generation gathering. I got some fabulous photos of people, though I won’t post them here because some family members don’t want pics of them online. Everyone was on good behavior and I got to spend time with some people I like a lot and don’t get to see often, as well as some of the kids before they reach an entire new life stage.

One downside, though – I came back to work Monday all peopled out. I am really not looking forward to an intense week of work (we specialize in those, around here) and then houseguests next weekend. Very welcome houseguests that I invited myself but still.

On the other hand, I’ve spent most of today in my cube typing, so now my wrists hurt and dealing with people sounds like a good break! (I’m sure that will change shortly, as I have to go deal with Best Buy. On the way back home, my water bootle spilled in my bag and it all seems to have gone in my iPad. Either the Geek Squad can fix it, or I guess I’m replacing it. Not the fun kind of ‘dealing with people’!)

A little remarked joy of middle age:

by dichroic in daily updates

Your friends understand the concept of RSVP, and let you know if they’re coming in time to figure out how much food you have to buy.

In related news, we are hosting the fourth more-or-less annual Black Sheep Knitting Retreat the weekend after next, which should be a lot of fun even though the Black Sheep Festival has moved away from Eugene, so we will just be hanging out at the house (unless of course people want to visit the Animal House weekend in nearby Cresswell, celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the movie there where much of it was filmed). Knitting, companionship, wine, hanging out, kayaking for those interested – should be fun.  

This weekend should be even more fun, as were flying to California for my GFIL’s hundredth birthday. It will be odd, being social two weekends in a row.

The other thing I’m currently enjoying is Anne Fadiman’s biography of her father, The Wine-Lover’s Daughter. As a fan of Clifton Fadiman, Anne Fadiman, and wine, it’s completely up my alley, though I do feel sorry for Anne, who apparently has never managed to enjoy wine as much as she’d like to.  At least she is totally qualified to participate in her father’s equal passion for books; his New Lifetime Reading Plan is an achievement, but her Ex Libris is a love letter and a friend to any bibliophile. Friends on the shelf (or Kindle) I are not the worst sort of friend.

non-ultralight packing

by dichroic in daily updates

I still don’t understand the whole ultralight packing thing. (It’s annoying mostly because people who are into that are often so self-righteous about it.) Like, I’m traveling for a three-day weekend, so it should be super-easy to pack carry-on only, right? I’m a small-ish person and it’s summer, so clothing is tiny. But here’s what I need: an outfit for Friday daytime, Friday night dinner, Saturday at a waterpark, and a formal-ish dinner Saturday night. Currently I have three dresses and a t-shirt/shorts, plus a bathing suit. Plus shorts/tank to sleep in. Not going to wear a bikini because 51 years old and not feeling like I want to show off every bit of jiggle (I have seen bigger people than me rock a bikini, but the way I’m proportioned means it’s not the most flattering for me – instead, a longer top and quick-dry shorts make me look athletic). Plus I would like to have dressier shoes for Saturday night, and it would have been nice to have one pair of casual shoes that look nice with a dress as well as shoes for the waterpark. I may combine the latter two, though it would mean wearing leather Keens to the waterpark. In an ideal world I would also take my work laptop / charger so I could work some to make up for leaving early Thursday, but I probably won’t unless I want to take a larger backpack for my plus-one bag. This is a 100th birthday party, so the whole family is there plus a new baby (5 generations) so camera gear is non-negotiable; between us we will probably take an SLR with a couple of lenses and a Go-Pro, plus of course my phone. And I need a cardigan for the plane / over-airconditioned spaces, plus a kindle and iPad and their chargers, plus my knitting.

I think the ultralight packers’ advice would be to wear only one outfit Friday (I’ll be in Sacramento and it will be around 100 degrees F – I expect to sweat). Granted, I could probably find dressy flats that would be lighter than the wedge heels I’m packing. But do these people not get cold on planes? Or sweat and want clean clothes? Or read enough to want a non-backlit device? Or work on weekends? Or take good pictures of special occasions? Or need lots of sunscreen and not have an easy way to get to a store? It also ticks me off that the advice tends to assume that anyone who travels a lot will of course be in the carryon-only brigade. Anyone who reads this knows that I have traveled a lot; it’s mostly convinced me that I usually appreciate having choices and a change of clothing available.

Currently I have a messenger bag plus a carry-on-sized suitcase, but I still might need to take more of the camera gear, that would drive a larger bag. Ted doesn’t even try to pack light, so we may end up having to visit the bag check anyway; it would at least make packing sunscreen easier.

Clockwork and cat

by dichroic in daily updates

Today’s odd experience: Just outside the work cafeteria, they often have a table with vendors selling something and offering samples – local honey, local chocolatiers, new energy drinks, and so on. Today they had someone offering samples of a product billed as “a meal in a bottle”. It’s call Soylent. I did not take a sample.

The other thing I wish I’d been blogging about is Oolong, our cat with chronic rhinitis. All spring she was a complete snot factory – I mean, it was fairly disgusting – and now for the last month or more you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with her. Around here, the tradition is that July 4 is when summer begins; any time after that you can plan outside activities without worrying about getting rained out. I’d like to know if her symptoms abated round then, which could be due to sinus stuff from pressure changes, or early, so I could check how well they track with pollen count. Anyway, she’s a fairly cuddly cat, who unlike her sister doesn’t claw or bite, and I am enjoying being able to snuggle her without a high risk of getting sneezed on with extreme mucus-ness.

With her sister Macchiato, the challenge is more about how to convince her that love-bites are not the best way to show affection to the furless members of your family.

a quick post, with good intentions

by dichroic in daily updates, travel

I think maybe I need to get back in the habit of daily posts, or at least multiple times a week, even if they are short entries. For one thing, my right wrist has been bothering me and it’s irritating not to ba able to check back entries and see when this started. I know it was a problem during our vacation, but don’t remember if it happened before that.

Speaking of vacations, things have been happening and I need to write about them! We had a gorgeous 11-day cruise on a sailing ship in French Polynesia, to islands like Ranigora, Bora Bora, Tahiti and Moorea, and we have amazing photos I need to do a long post about that, including how wonderful the ship’s crew were (and how I wasn’t that imporessed is the booking office, on land). That might all go into the other more public blog (which has been suffering even more from attrition) but I will link it here.

On the way back I was able to do my Global Entry interview, so now when I travel I can go into the TSA Pre-Check line – yay! THis will be good becauswe we do have another flight this month – we’ll be traveling to California for a weekend to attend Ted’s grandfather’s 100th birthday party. (I enjoy his family, so am looking forward to this.)

Work was extremely busy for several weeks there but seems to be a little calmer now. My manager has moved on and as part of the resulting reorgs, they seem to want me to take a more senior role in the group now. We will see how this really materializes, though. (It’s a chain reaction, with every change having to depend on some other change happening.)

Meanwhile, knitting has been happening, and rowing – we went to the lake house both of the last two weekends. We might go again this weekend – when we were away for a month due to the Polynesia trip, all our blueberries withered. Deep watering has fixed that, but they’re not ripe yet and with the family trip coming up in a couple of weeks we don’t want to leave them for too long. Right after that we’ve having a knitting retreat, and I’d like to be able to have fresh blueberries to offer! If they won’t wither on the bush, we’ll have a bumper crop this year.