this and that

by dichroic in daily updates

In no particular order, things that have been on my mind. It’s a scattered place in there.

One thing I didn’t mention was that after wearing high (not sky-high) heels all night at my reunion, my big toe was numb for the next few days – actually it was the left half of my left big toe and the right half of the second toe, so I assume those are on the same nerve and that I pinched it. This may mean I’m in trouble today; I wore my high heeled Docs (something like these, but mine have eyelets for the laces and more of a platform) but didn’t remember until I got to work that I have a meeting several blocks away. It doesn’t make sense to drive; I’d have to park far enough out that it’s silly not to walk in the first place. At least I don’t need to take my laptop, so I won’t have the weight of a backpack on me.

Exciting News: I just fund out this minute that the creators of the songbook Rise Up Singing, Peter Blood and Annie Patterson, are putting out a new songbook, Rise Again. The book’s website says “Rise Again will have a large variety of song genres just as Rise Up Singing but will have more songs from genres that were not very well-represented in RUS – blues, country, jazz standards, early rock, Motown, recent popular & indie songs written after 1995″. The website has a full list of songs, plus the preface by Pete Seeger. (I’d buy it is I didn’t already love the other one just for Beeswing, Jambalaya, Hey There, Delilah, Fear an Bhata, Pancho and Lefty… they’re all available online of course, but sometimes it’s easier to play from a book.)

I’m trying a new thing on the erg. I’d like to race on our home lake this April, if I can get in shape enough not to embarass myself too badly (that last spate of marathon training, which I abandoned about 2/3 through after the Holiday Challenge, never did really feel like it was clicking). Masters rowers race one km for our sprint races in spring and summer. In the past I’ve tried 2k training plans, adapting my own plan and just winging it; this time I decided to try something different and start with the Fast-Track FItness Training Programme from indoorsportservices.co.uk. (They used to be the UK arm of Concept 2.) I’ve used their marathon plan many times and found that it works well, so we’ll see how this one goes. It’s not explained quie as well as their marathon plan or even their 2K plan, but I’m pretty sure I understand what to do – and if not, what I think they mean is probably close enough. If our home race (the Covered Bridge Regatta) goes well enough, maybe I’ll even do a race or so in Portland. Maybe.

I’m a bit jealous of all my friends and family on the East Coast, because it seems that we are not getting a winter this winter. I’m especially envious of the Philadelphians, who got a day or two off of work and some snow to play in without actually having the inconvenience of criplling amounts of snow. Here, we’re expecting highs in the 50sF into the foreseeable future. It’s very nice and hasn’t even been raining all that much – even in winter, Portland has blue skies more often than you’d think, because our rain and clouds often don’t last the whole day. But I do miss winter. We had a few very cold days and even a snow flurry around Christmas, but that’s been it for the winter. Our one big storm last year was in February, so there’s hope, but the current warm forecasts stretch out through half the month.

I probably need to go to a doctor and talk about my thyroid – when I had my physical last fall, my TSH levels were a bit high, which is a symptom of low thyroid function. Last year, the doctor said I was borderline and could choose whether to treat it; this year the levels are higher still, so I suppose I should. Ironically, I’ve been putting this off because the potential payoff is so big (and I don’t believe they will really happen). Low thyroid function can result in fatigue, hair loss, carpal tunnel sydrome, forgetfulness, greater sensitivity to cold, difficulty losing weight, depression – who wouldn’t want more energy, better memory, thicker hair, easier weight loss (if you’re trying!), cheerier mood, less wrist pain, and so on? But none of those things are really *problems* for me. Sure, I have less energy than I’d like, but what I’d like is to be able to hop on an erg and do a half marathon any time. I’d like thicker hair but mine is just fine. I’d like my wrists to bother me less often, but I type, knit or row much of the day, every day. In my experience (as a fairly healthy person) you go to the doctor, she says, “Yes, you might have so and so,” and either they can’t do much about it or they try a treatment and nothing really happens. (It’s not that I’m anti-medicine, just that I’ve always been fairly healthy. The only cases where doctors have made any difference is when I’ve been ill with bacterial stuff, when I had some precancerous cervical cells removed a couple of decades ago, and on birth control. I do believe doctors are in general more use when there’s really something wrong – though of course they can’t always help even then.) So I’m in doubt if it’s worth a doctor’s visit and the costs thereof (I have high-deductible insurance) or if I should just wait until I have to go for some other reason.

And just to complete my usual rowing/reading/knitting subject list: I’m currently working on the Follow Your Arrow 2 Mystery Knitalong – I like this one because there are 2 options for every clue, so that I get all the fun of discussion but don’t end up with the same FO as a thousand other knitters. My other current project is gloves for Ted. My plan is to complete these and then start a sweater for me (possibly Rogue, if I can figure out how to do it without a hood) and then a shawl for a friend’s birthday.

This is why I ought to blog more frequently, just to get all the daily stuff written up so it doesn’t come out in one big bolus.

requiescat in astra

by dichroic in daily updates

I take note of this week every year – we’re into the saddest week of the year for NASA, because of all the anniversaries clustered together:

Apollo 1 launch fire: January 27, 1967

  • Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Command Pilot
  • Edward H. White, Senior Pilot
  • Roger Chaffee, Pilot

Space Shuttle Challenger disaster: January 28, 1986

  • Francis R. Scobee, Commander
  • Michael J. Smith, Pilot
  • Ronald McNair, Mission Specialist
  • Ellison Onizuka, Mission Specialist
  • Judith Resnik, Mission Specialist
  • Greg Jarvis, Payload Specialist
  • Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist

Space Shuttle Columbia disaster: February 1, 2003

  • Rick D. Husband, Commander
  • William C. McCool, Pilot
  • Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander
  • Ilan Ramon, Payload Specialist
  • Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist
  • David M. Brown, Mission Specialist
  • Laurel Clark, Mission Specialist

Not forgotten.

reunion rundown

by dichroic in daily updates

The reunion was great, actually. It was funny – the whole thing was conceived and hatched on Facebook, so that’s where all the pre- and post-discussion was, I have never seen my FB feed explode as it did that weekend. Every time I went in there were a zillion new notifications or messages.

Whenever I felt at loose ends or wasn’t sure who to talk to, I walked around and took photos of everyone. Then I posted them right away. This proved to be a successful social strategy and useful too, as it made sure everyone was photographed, kept me busy, and provided documentary for people who weren’t able to make it. I think I ended up getting more photos than anyone else; I only saw two pictures of myself that weren’t on my own phone (from the times when I took a picture, then someone grabbed my phone and said “Now you get in the shot”.

January is definitely Not a Good Time for a reunion. At least one person didn’t come specifically because she didn’t want to travel to Philadelphia in January (she lives in Hong Kong and does travel a lot for work and fun). Several people who intended to make it couldn’t, due to flu. And we all got marooned at the hotel Sunday morning when there was an ice storm that shut down major roads and bridges. Luckily it warmed up enough so we could leave by noon or so.

I think the state store system has done horrible things to Pennsylvania’s drinking habits. For context, the reunion was held in a Fraternal Order of Police Lodge that, in addition to the function rooms, has a restaurant / bar for its members. We had a cash bar. So it ought to be fully stocked, right? The actual conversation went:

Me: What kind of red wine do you have?
Bartender: It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Me: Cool, I’ll have that. Just curious – what kind is it?
Bartender: You mean, like, what brand?

I’m having a hard time imagining that happen in Portland. (At the very least, they’d ask what winery; more likely they’d have a selection of local wines.) At the hotel bar later, they at least did have several types of red wine, though only one of each.

Anyway, it was unanimously agreed that it was a great reunion. It was a different kind of good time than Ted’s college reunion that we went to in January; there we got to have long conversations with good friend over the course of the weekend; here I connected to a lot of different people but there wasn’t really time and space to talk much. Mostly we talked just about the reunion itself and about high school. I think everyone felt that a bit, and the locals are arranging some more outings together.

It was also good to see Mom, and my brother, SIL, and nephew. Mom seems to be very happy and active in her new place, and is making friends. The place had a very nice jazz brunch – the last one of those I went to was in the Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans, so it obviously wasn’t quite on that scale but it wasn’t on that pricing scale either! But the food was excellent and there was plenty, including a Shrimp Louie that did have some spice to it, as well as real bagels and good lox (not a specialty in New Orleans but a brunch requirement in Philly!) and the band was good as well. My nephew is 3 and a half and is still convinced that the world should bend to his will if he only says “I want it!” enough but I think he’s starting to realize it’s a forlorn hope. (“Sorry, kid, they don’t have apple juice here.” “But dey do! Dey do have dzus!”) He protests but doesn’t throw a tantrum when the adults are cruel enough to make him go on the potty or drink the wrong kind of juice or whatever. It was good to spend time with all of them.

Last weekend we went down to the lake house, hoping to get some rowing done in the unseasonably warm temperatures. (Oregon winters are rainy, but when you get nice days they are REALLY nice days!) Unfortunately the mornings were very windy, and then when we got out in the afternoon all the powerboaters had the same idea, and the wakes were pretty bad. Oh, well. It was still nice being there, especially being warm enough to eat on the deck (with a gas heater, but still.)

pre-reunion anxiety babbling

by dichroic in daily updates

I’m heading off tonight for my thirtieth reunion. I still have mixed feelings about this – it’s not like I was the belle of the ball back in high school, after all, and an unexpectedly nasty FB comment from a classmate yesterday has sapped my confidence.

I said something about my book in a relevant conversation and he commented “You know what would go well with your book? A ball gag, for when you start talking about process documentation. I called him on it, because this is someone I generally like and I didn’t think he intended to sound that vicious, we had it out in a private discussion, and it turned out he’d been annoyed by some earlier unrelated things I’d said, thought I was being patronizing, and the frustration resulted in snark. I admit he’s justified in the annoyance (his feedback echoed some I’d recently gotten at work) so I thanked him for the honesty as gracefully as I could manage. I think we’re good now, but still – the nasty comment came and blindsided me when I totally didn’t expect it. He may be justified in his proginal annoyance, but that doesn’t make it less painful to hear. More, probably. Sigh. And this is someone I always thought had kind of a soft spot for me (in a nonromantic sense).

So this is all increasing my enthusiasm. Rah. Also, it occurred to me this morning that the people coming from next furthest away are traveling from South Carolina and New Hampshire – most others are still in the Philly area or at most in NJ or DC. So it will be me and a roomful of lifelong East Coasters – Philadelphia accents everywhere, yo. And unfortunately a lot of the people I’d most like to see aren’t going, though there are definitely a few I’m looking forward to hanging out with (just hope it’s mutual!)

Also, I’ll probably freeze. The dress I found to wear is this one, in the purple – that flared skirt is very flattering, it turns out. (That’s code for “makes my belly less obvious”.) I’m wearing it with black wool lace tights and heels and a shawl, but the shawl that went best is a smaller one, not all that warm. I am wearing a long wool coat, so if it’s too cold at least I have that to pull on.

Someone at work mentioned that the fun part of reunions is laughing at the people who were stars in high school and are failures now, but the thing is – the vast majority of the people I went to school with, even the popular ones, weren’t really jerks even then. A lot of them have aged badly, or are poor, or have been divorced or whatever, but I don’t find myself wanting to laugh at them. I probably do have a better life than a lot of them – yes, there’s all the material stuff and the travel and all that but the biggest thing is the very happy marriage. But the main thing I want to convey is “Yes, I have a great life so you don’t have to worry about me. But I’ve done lots of things so I have good stories! Let me tell you my stories! And I want to hear your stories! Tell them to me.” Hopefully I can convey that.

(The woman who is running this shindig thinks of herself as a fun person, but a bit of a loser. She spent some time homeless; these days she has a happy marriage and stable housing but still some struggles with money. She’s put on a lot of weight due to knee issues, then had both knees replaced, went through a terribly painful recovery, and is now getting back to the activity level she’d like. She is kind and generous, enthusiastic and seems to like everyone. See? Doesn’t sound like a loser to me either – and if she is willing to tell it, I want to hear the story of how she got from homelessness to where she is now, because that sounds like an amazing accomplishment to me. OK, there, a thing to look forward to.)

I also need to go see my family. My nephew is three and a half, so I feel like I need to see him more than once a year while he is growing so fast, and I want him to remember who I am. I’m told he’s looking forward to seeing “An’ Pawwa” but is disappointed that “Unca Ted” isn’t coming. I also want to check on my mom, who moved last summer from the house she’d lived in since I was a fetus to an independent community. As far as I can tell over the phone, she loves it and is flourishing there, but it will be good to see for myself. So that’s another thing to look forward to.

I’m flying the redeye, but used miles to upgrade to first class in hopes of getting some sleep so I’ll be ready to stay up late Saturday night – at least the time change will help me there.

Oh, well. I think one of two outcomes is most likely; either I’ll have a really terrific time – or I’ll have a boring wallflower evening bookended with some nice visits with my family. Great or not-terrible. I can live with that.

dressed like a duck

by dichroic in clothing and style

Today, I am wearing my big green sweater, because University of Oregon Ducks (green and yellow) are playing Ohio State Buckeyes (red and gray) for the college bowl championships. I’m not normally a big ducks fan, for two reasons: 1) I’m a relatively recent transplant to this state and my in-laws went to the other state university, Oregon State, and 2) I don’t really care about football much anyway. But you have to support your state when they’re in playoffs …. especially when your corporate office is in Ohio!

I didn’t buy a U of O-specific shirt despite being in a Nike store yesterday – they’re expensive and I’d be unlikely to wear it again. (There is a close relationship between U of O and Nike, whose founder Phil Knight was originally a track coach there and now contributes $cads and $cads of ca$h to their sports teams.)

Last time I wore this particular dark green sweater, it was to a Tulane football game. Amusingly, if the Philadelphia Eagles had done a bit better this season, I could wear it on my trip to Philly this week. Can’t wear it this weekend as things stand, though, because I wouldn’t want to support the Packers against the Seahawks, who pretty much function as a regional team for the whole Pacific Northwest. Versatile sweater!

Just to complete the outfit I’m wearing duck shoes (these, so called because they were originally designed for duck hunting). They’re more comfortable than you’d expect rubber boots to be indoors. Only one small annoyance; they’ve been creaking when I walk all day. I finally realized that maybe the shoes have taken their “duck” nickname too literally. They’re not creaking – they’re quacking!

trip fidgeting

by dichroic in daily updates

I have a trip to Philadelphia coming up in a week and a harf, for my thirtieth high school reunion. Flights are booked. Hotel is booked – I will stay at a hotel near the venue (and also close to my brother’s house) for the first two nights, then stay at Mom’s place (independent living facility, which has a few hotel-like rooms for guests) the last night.

The rest of it is still a bit up in the air. I realized this morning how weird it’s goining to flying in; last time I flew into Philadelphia my dad was still alive (barely) and I stayed with my mom, in the same house I grew up in, from the day they brought me home as a newborn until I left for college. It was never all that great a house, and given that the neighborhood was becoming dangerous I’m glad Mom finally sold the house and got out of there. As far as I can tell, she loves her new place and is flourishing there; she’s always enjoyed being around people and she has plenty of activities including a gym and a pool. But still.

I haven’t figured out my transportation, either. The options on this end are to drive in and park at the airport or take the MAX train. Disadvantage to driving: Don’ wanna. Plus I’d hit the tail end of rush hour on the way to the airport, it will be dark and rainy both ways, and I’ll be tired on the way home. Disadvantage to MAX: my flight home lands at 7:40, so I’d be out on the train a bit later than I’m completely comfartable with, but I think it should be fine as long as I change trains either in the middle of downtown or at the Beaverton station, which tends to have lots of people. On the other end, I can rent a car or borrow Mom’s (she doesn’t drive it that much these days because everything she needs is right there). If I do the latter I either need my brother to pick me up, or to take the suburban train and it runs only hourly – of course, whether my brother can pick me up entirely depends on his schedule, though he did offer. Since he hasn’t actually sid yes or no I’m assuming I should plan on the train – it leaves an hour after I land at the airport and I’m not checking a bag, so that should be OK.

And then there’s trip knitting, which is always hard to decide. I finished a pair of socks yesterday, which leaves me with only one WIP (work in progress): a cowl-necked vest which is also close to done. I only have about 4″ of the neck left. What I’d like to do is to finish the vest and knit at least most of a cowl/hat thingy (Howlcat for Hunter, my mininephew, before the trip. That would mean I could knit a pair of gloves for Ted during the trip and start a sweater the weekend after I get home. The yarn for it is at the lake house. Even if the gloves aren’t done, I like habing one large and one small project on the needles at a time – but I do want both gloves and sweater finished while it’s cold enough to wear them. THing is, the Howlcat uses about 200m of both yarns, so I may not have enough time to do it. (I’d really love to use the same yarn I made a vest from for Hunter, but I probably don’t have enough of that either.) I think I’m going to have to ditch the Howlcat idea – after all, the kid just got a ton of gifts last month, from me and everyone else, and doesn’t exactly need more stuff!

I’m also a bit worried about the weather there – I really, really wish my class hadn’t decided on a reunion in freakin January – but not much I can do about that now that I bought the plane ticket.

long live Oregon … and love

by dichroic in daily updates, politics

An online friend is celebrating the fact that, only seven years after her wedding, she is now legally married even when she’s at home.

My response, because 2014 was a good year in many ways:
If you were to come visit me, you could be hiking under the pines married. Drizzly afternoons and foggy mornings married. Clear blue days with distant snowy mountains married. Sunday afternoon at the vineyard, with a glass of Pinot and an incredible view married. Pumpkin fields in autumn married. Lunch at the food carts married. Brewpub around the corner married. Burger joints with local beef, organic veggies and wild-caught salmon married. Made in Oregon married. Green heart sticker married.

(Note: This is an issue I care a lot about. Same-sex marriage was legalized in DC back in December, 2009 – two months after my uncle died there, alone. Not that legalizing marriage would have made a practical difference, but I know the news would have thrilled him, and I have reasonably strong belief that feeling he needed to stay closeted was a big part of why he never found a life partner. While we wait, people die.)

quiet holidays

by dichroic in daily updates

There’s not much to say about this past holiday; it was nice but exceedingly quiet. We went down to Rowell (the lake house) of course; finished the Holiday Challenge early then had a few days when it was warm enough to get into a boat, then the weather turned and was either cold, rainy or both. Aside from a few trips to a supermarket or such, I spent most of the time indoors dressed in fleece, wool or pajamas. The inlaws came up just after Christmas for a couple of days, so we had steaks for Christmas Day and deep-fried a turkey for them. I did roasted onions and tomato/pomegranate salad out of a new cookbook (thanks, Mechaieh!) and made a grain-free sugar-free apple pie that wasn’t very pie-ish (more like a crumble topping over bits of baked apple) but tasty nonetheless. Otherwise, there was much reading, knitting, cooking and not much of anything else. It was nice.

Back to work today, with much reminding myself that I don’t actually dislike my job required.

time to light a candle

by dichroic in musing

I post the lyrics to Peter Yarrow’s song Light One Candle every year at Chanukah, because I believe deeply in the message in it. It’s also relevant to a couple of articles I’ve recently read; one describes the song as being controversial because it’s “not Jewish enough”; in my opinion if that whole Chosen People idea means anything, it means that we have certain responsibilities toward other people that come out of our own experiences. “Light one candle for those who are suffering the pain we learned so long ago.”

Tikkun Olam, healing the world, is a Jewish value; to quote the Velveteen Rabbi quoting the Pirke Avot, “Jewish tradition teaches us to cultivate hope in place of despair. It’s not incumbent on us to finish the work, but neither are we free to refrain from beginning it.” That is also why I agree with another article, that “Black Lives Matter!” is indeed a Jewish issue. All lives matter.

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 one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand
But light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peacemaker’s time is at hand

[Chorus:]
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 become our own foe
And light one candle for those who are suffering
Pain we learned so long ago
Light one candle for all we believe in
That anger not tear us apart
And light one candle to find us together
With peace as the song in our hearts

[Chorus]

What is the memory that’s valued so highly
That we keep it alive in that flame?
What’s the commitment to those who have died
That we cry out they’ve 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!

[Chorus]
Don’t let the light go out!
Don’t let the light go out!
Don’t let the light go out!

the downward slide

by dichroic in daily updates

Four days left – I’m off for the next two weeks.

And after quitting time on Friday I plan to do two weeks’ worth of nothing.

At least, that is, for values of “nothing” including: pack up the car and the cats, head out to the lake house, finish the Holiday Challenge (Friday or Saturday depending when we go to the lake, get the tree and set it up, have the roofer out to fix a leak he appears to have missed, wrap all the presents, cook holiday-ish meals, probably host the in-laws for a few days, do some house cleaning that gets neglected when we’re only there for a couple days at a time, row if the weather is nice, go hiking maybe, get in a bunch of weight lifting since we have a weight set there but not here and, you know, the general stuff of life. As long as there gets to be lots of knitting and lots of reading, everyone present is well-fed, and people like the presents I give them, I’m good.