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Update: Whatever I did to my chest muscles this time, it either wasn’t the same thing as last time or was a lot less of a strain. That one lasted for weeks. This one just hurt Sunday and Monday, and was better yesterday. So I did a light erg piece – still seemed to be coughing a bit and it’s always hard to get onto the erg after a couple of days off, but I finished 5K, anyway. My plan is to erg either harder (interval pieces) or longer today – I haven’t decided which. Then I’ll try to do a strength and conditioning class tomorrow, work demands permitting.

We plan to head out to the lake house again this weekend since we can’t go next week, so hopefully I can get in some real rowing time. (Last week I only kayaked on Saturday – they were having dragboat races so I needed to go to the upper lake and I don’t like rowing there. Too many snags and shallow places.)

Also a cooking note: last night’s dinner was stuffed mushrooms, salad and sourdough bread – I stuffed cremini mushrooms with breadcrumbs, mushroom stems, garlic, leeks, parmegiano, and seasoning. I liked them, Ted said they were OK but wasn’t wildly enthusiastic. Next time I’d use less of the breadcrumbs and more of everything else. Last week’s new-recipe experiments succeeded better: We had Welsh rabbit one day and a wine/mushroom sauce over flatiron steak another day. The sauce was easy and very tasty – basically just saute mushrooms and scallions in about a half stick of melted butter, add a cup of wine, simmer until it reduces, then add another pat of butter and parsley at the end. The Welsh rabbit might be a better dinner for winter than summer, but it was taty and filling. We had lots of the sauce left over, so Ted used it to make homemade mac & cheese later in the week. That was OK, but needed more stuff in it than just sauce and noodles – even when we have the Kraft version, we add hotdogs!

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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I’m really missing the days when I blogged near-daily, and thus could go back and look up when everything happened in my life. (Also, I just learned that apparently my LJ hasn’t mirrored updates here since March due to plugin issues. Oops. Might need to handle that manually, if anybody is still there.)

This is mostly because it seems like I’ve been sick, or at least not-quite-well, all damn year. Some time in January I came down with a cold that lingered for about two weeks, then turned into bronchitis on the very day I was interviewing for my current job (you can imagine how much fun the interview was). The bronchitis was taken care of with antibiotics, but as it was ebbing I got a pain in my chest. No, not that kind of chest pain; it was right around where the left-tit underwire in a bra would be, and it hurt whenever I coughed or twisted. I was wondering about pleurisy, but the doctor concluded it was probably just a strained muscle, nothing to be done but rest it (not really possible, for a rib muscle, especially while coughing) and wait for it to heal.

Sometime in April or May I came down with another cold, but that one was mild and only lasted a few days. At a different time, I came up with a stiff neck – the kind where you can’t turn your head in one direction. That mostly resolved after a few days, but there’s still one particular spot on the right side of my neck that hurts it I stretch it at a certain angle.

Then in early June I cam up with yet another cold. This one was also mild, but it lasted for-bloody-ever, and the cough is aaaaalmost completely gone.

So here I am in mid-July, with a sore muscle in my neck, still coughing up stuff now and then. And yesterday (after yielding to Ted’s persuasion to try sleeping without a pillow, to see if it would hurt my neck) I woke up with another chest-muscle pain, this time on the right side. It’s not as bad as the left-side one was at its worst, but still hurts when I cough.

This is all tiny minor stuff, but it’s wreaked hell with my workout consistency for this year and it’s starting to just piss me off to feel that I haven’t been at 100% for months now. I’d see a doctor, but in my experience they’re not much good for small vague stuff.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

The Pioneer Woman’s wine/mushroom sauce: A++++, will make (and eat) again. As Ted pointed out, he rarely uses words like “Great” (he’s an Oregon native, but his mom grew up in the Midwest and it colors his speech) but he did this time. I used a red wine blend that was only OK at first and is left over from a week or so ago, but it was fine in the sauce. We had it over flatiron steak, which for some odd reason is much cheaper than flank steak in these parts (not true where my mom lives!).

The wine we drank with it was much better – a Syrah from Cana’s Feast. Most of the wineries around here focus on Pinot Noir, but Cana’s Feast also has a bunch of big reds. After three or four different chance-met strangers recommended the winery to us, we finally got around to it. We’ll definitely be buying more from them.

I’ve been rereading the Harry Potter series again, in honor of its 20th anniversary. This worked out very well for me when my Kindle’s touchscreen spontaneously died – because not only do I have the whole series in e-book (bought on sale cheap) but I have the UK editions at the Hillsboro house and the US hardbacks at the lake house. The Kindle was out of warranty but Amazon gave me a deep discount on a new one; however, it was very nice not to have to interrupt my reading until it got here.

I will have to decide, after Deathly Hallows, whether Cursed Child belongs in a reread of the series. I probably will, because I’ve only read it once, and it will be interesting to read it in proximity to the rest of the books instead of years apart. Might read Fantastic Beasts, too (I’ve only seen the movie, but a screenplay was published).

Work is still going well, though a bit quiet lately. It was too quiet for a week or so, but lately I’ve had interesting stuff to do but still enough time to hit the (on-site) gym. Nice. I would really like it if I can stay with this company until retirement.

Otherwise, not much going on.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

For the past year, on places like Facebook or Ravelry, I’ve been using an icon with a quote from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award sonnet – the words “love is love is love is love is love” on a rainbow background.

In the years I’ve been on social media, whether LJ or FB or Ravelry, I’ve generally preferred to use icons that are photos or drawings of myself or personal symbols (like my oars-on-propeller asterisk – to underscore that I am the one speaking here.

I heard this morning that today is the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub bombing. That means that sometime this week, it’s been one year since I started using this “love is love is love is love” icon. In that year, the state of the world has been such that there has not been one day that I could bear to put anything else in its place – that I felt I could stop chanting this message and go back to an innocuous photo of myself, or a silly picture or some other quote.

Not one fucking day.

Not that I think my icon makes any real difference, just that it’s been a year of constant vigilance, with no channel of resistance against the Dementors allowed to be safely ignored. I hope some day the world will at least slow down its descent into hell to the point that I can just be plain or silly or ironic again.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

I figured it out – I think the reason I have so much trouble keeping an updated blog these days is because it’s not a conversation, the way it was when Diaryland and then LiveJournal were real communities. I’m not a diarist – I’ve never managed to keep a private journal going for more than a few days. But give me a chance to say “Hey, I found / learned / thought of this cool thing,” and a chance for others to respond – or for me to respond to their cool things – and apparently I can go on for years.

The thing I’ve been meaning to write here is that I am still liking the new job – but then it’s three months in and I always like new jobs at this early stage – and that I am enjoying the flexibility. Lately I’ve been working my ass off, on a project that involves talking to people in several other countries. Due to time differences, I’ve had telecons at 8 or 9 at night, and a few as early as 5AM, though I’m trying to avoid any more of those. The flip side is that my boss doesn’t care where I work, so I can do early calls at home then wander into the office, or go do an errand then finish working at home. For instance, this morning, ‘d set the alarm 15 minutes early so I rolled out of bed, made a cuppa, had a 6AM call with Poland, and then showered and came into the office.) I know there are people who prefer to keep work and home very separate, but for me, I think having my life be one continuous entity feels a lot more freeing – I can do what I need to do when I need to do it, and I feel like I’m regarded as a professional rather than a prisoner.

Ther thing that prompter this entry was coming across an Old English Christmas greeting in one of the Chronicles of St. Mary’s short stories: Glaed Geol and Gesaelig Niw Gear!
So OK, the Christmas part of that isn’t far off the Swedish “Glad Jul” – not surprising since as I understand it, Old English and Old Norse were mutually intelligible to a large degree. But check out the new year part: while in modern Dutch you’d say “gelukkig nieuwjaar”, I don’t think you’d be completely out of line in wishing someone a cozy New Year’s Day with “gezellig nieuwjaar”. See the resemblance? “Gezellig” is one of those words that often gets mentioned when people talk about words in other languages (like hygge or wabi-sabi) that have no exact English equivalent – but it looks like we did have it, we just lost it!

A bit of googling tells me we didn’t completely lose it; the meaning morphed from happy to pious to innocent to foolish and ended up as our modern word “silly” – and of course the Dutch words is likely to have changed over time too and at least one view says they’re not related. (In general, it’s much harder to Google etymology in other languages, because the references tend to be *in* those languages – or in another one altogether.)

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

President Trump said something very silly about Andrew Jackson. This is no surprise, because I don’t expect him to have any knowledge of history (or morals, which are reqruird to realize that maybe the guy who kicked native Americans off their land or kept slaces didn’t have such a “big heart”). What’s a bit annoying are all the comments along the lines of, “Ha, ha, how can he be so stupid? Jackson died 16 years before the Civil War!”, as if the war’s roots weren’t in place unil just before the shooting started. There was always going to be conflict between the states on the slave issue; it was revealed in the argument on the wording of the Declaration of Independence (1776), codified in the Constitution (1789), and cemented into place with the invention of the cotton gin (1793). Slavery died a comparatively easy death in places like England or New York, that weren’t suited to growing cotton, but the cotton gin made large-scale cotton agriculture profitable, and it required a large low-salaried workforce.

By the time of Jackson, who was in office 1829-1837, it didn’t take a crystal ball to see the conflict coming, only to tell whether it would end up in a shooting war or if there could be a less violent solution. I’m certain Jackson would indeed have preferred the latter – as long as that solution allowed him and other slaveholders to retain their human “property”. Jackson was known as a populist, but only certain voices mattered in that particular vox populi – white ones, to be specific.

One thing that scares me at present is whether Trump will be impeached. I can see one scenario where the Republicans in Congress turn on him, declare his incompetence to serve, present themselves as the champions of the American people, ride a tidal wave into office in 2018 …. and work closely with President Pence (shudder) to kill national health insurance, restrict women’s and LGBTQ civil rights, and set up an oligarchy that only has a somewhat larger group in power than Trump intended. I don’t really want to see Tump impeached unless Pence goes with him and Ryan is either kicked out, running scared, or overpowered by a strong Democratice / Independent majority.

A more hopeful view is that the just-voted budget is a sign of a new maturity and bipartisan mood in Congress, leading to cooperation and good-faith negotiation on what’s best for the United States. Not sure that’s really the way to bet, but it could happen.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

You know what’s really frustrating, in that “good problem to have” kind of way? When you’ve made a really amazing dinner, and have no idea why. Herewith, an analysis of the components.

  • Flatiron steak: we have these all the time – for some reason, they’re a lot cheaper than flank steaks where we live, though when visiting family in Philadelphia I’ve found flank sakes as reasonably priced there as they were when Mom served them to us. This one might have been a little thicker than usual, because it was a perfect mix of charred on the outside with (pink on the end parts I eat, red in the middle for Ted who likes his steaks medium rare). I usually cook this for 8 minutes on one side, 5 on the other, but gave this one a little extra time until the thermometer said it was done. We let it ‘rest’ 5:00 or so
  • Grilled endive: I had this once on ausiness trip to Toledo – not my favorite city, but I did like this restaurant, which I think was the Registry Bistro. I’ve made this at home once before, but this time was much better – I just cut the endive in halves, made a cut in the base as most recipes instruct, drizzled them with oive oil and salt, and put them on the grill for a few minutes less than the meat – maybe 5′ and 3′.
  • When I had bruschetta for yesterday’s dinner there was some tomato mixture left over, so I topped the endive with it.
  • Then we had bread, from the easiest recipe ever (recipe makes dough for four or so loaves, you pull off a chunk and bake it when you want some) and some olive oil with herbs, pepper and salt to dip it into.
  • And finally, some not too fancy wine we picked up during my birthday weekend in McMinnville: Three Wines Remy’s Red, which was redolent of cherries and balsamic, is reasonably priced, and went so well with this meal that we’re wondering if we should head back to McMinnville and buy a case of it. Tasty stuff, and might be very interesting to age a few years.

So, no idea why this dinner combined so well, but yum. Timely, too: today I took Ted in for his first colonoscopy (just because we’ve hit the age where theey start perpetuating such indignities on us) so after a day on a liquid diet and various other unpleasantries, he needed a good dinner. Tomorrow: shrimp etouffee.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

A bunch of little stuff

The family visit went well, and I think everyone enjoyed it. The 5yo only broke one thing in our non-child-proofed house, which seems reasonable. (A three-dimensional cat puzzle carved out of a single piece of wood. He’d been told to be careful with it; problem was, after the first time I let him play with it under supervision, he kept grabbing it to take apart and put back together, and wasn’t too good about not forcing pieces in when they didn’t fit quite right. I was able to fix the piece he broke to where it doesn’t show.) He also knocked a bunch of pieces I’d completed in a jigsaw puzzle off the table; I responded to that one with (intentionally) very loud shock, so that he definitely realized he’d done an upsetting thing. Overall, less damage and brattiness than I’d expected, and he kept seeking us out so even when he clearly felt in disgrace for doing a Bad Thing, he knew he wasn’t being outcast and that we weren’t being mean to him. (In fact, at one point I took him aside for a private, quiet, and Very Serious talk about how hurtful it was when he ignored his bubbe, my mom, for the shiny fun new people around. Not sure that one made an impression, but maybe. He got a little caught up in explaining how it “hurts his heart” if people are mean to him or ignore him – it wasn’t clear if that translated to how other people feel when he ignores them. But hey, five years old. I always figure something that didn’t make sense at the time might recur to him later on.)

I still have scars on my hand and knee from when I tripped on uneven sidewalk, ‘racing’ with him. He wanted to race everywhere – I did more running that week than I normally do in a year. I did think it spoke well for his compassion that he was willing to go home and not do the fun things we’d planned to do in the park, when I was all bloody – lucky the park bathroom was open and I had a bandaid, so we didn’t have to abort our plans.

The sad part of the visit was seeing how old Mom has gotten, not in looks but behavior and abilities. She fell twice in airports on the way home. In many ways, her independent living center has been wonderful for her. But she’s on the young side for the place, and she’s a bit of a sponge, picking up ideas from people around her; I think being around people a decade or two older all the time has aged her perceptions of her own capabilities, and that’s definitely an area where perception is reality.


Random other thoughts and happenings:

Yesterday my company had Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener speak. It was a good and moving talk – I’d called in, instead of driving to the site he spoke at, and bought his book on Amazon before the speech was even over. My favorite part of the speech was a quote from Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” Pretty perceptive for a guy who died a few years before the French Revolution. (However, I can’t help thinking that a name like Alter Wiener is just begging for a bilingual Yiddish-English pun. (I had a vague memeory and looked it up – Alter, meaning ‘old’, was a Yiddish name given to sickly babies in the hopes of confusing the Angel of Death. As my husband pointed out, given that more old people die, the logic there is not entirely clear.))

***

Gap seems to be delving into their archives for designs lately – just recently I’ve bought new versions of my favorite dress from the 90s (though the fabric has changed a bit) and my favorite henley shirt from the 80s. So anyone who still misses a beloved item of clothing that you outgrew or outwore, that happened to be from the Gap, might want to go take a look.

***

Still enjoying the new job. For a while there things were going too slowly as I waited for my projects to really get started, but as of yesterday that doesn’t seem to be a problem any more. Rather the opposite – which is good. Still, if I ever get as busy as Ted is, for more than a short while – someone please shoot me. (He works 6:30 AM to 6 or 7 most nights, plus additional work on weekends. Bloody ridiculous.)

***

Having a gym at the job is definitely upping my exercise intensity, not to mention lots more walking and stair climbing. However, so far I’ve been working here going on two months and the only change I’ve seen is that maybe my calves are a little more defined. (We’ll see how well I can continue with the gym classes I’ve been taking as my job heats up – but having the gym right here means that even if I miss a specific class, I can go any time I’m free.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

When I was a small child, back in the days when hippies roamed the earth, there was a poster above my bed with the words:

WAR
is not
healthy
for children
and other
living things

Apparently I internalized that message, because my immediate gut response to Trump launching “the mother of all bombs” into Syria was along the lines of “Oh, crap. I don’t want to die.” I do not want to die in WWIII, and I especially don’t want it to happen soon. I do not appreciate that blowhard who wormed his way into the White House trying to prove his manhood by playing chicken with Syria and its Russian supporters, or conversely with North Korea and its China supporters. People get hurt playing chicken (just ask my spouse, who spent half of his fourth grade year in a full-leg cast). The bigger the scale you’re playing on, the more people who are likely to get hurt.

(Yes, we just had a visit from my whole family; it was very nice and I need to write about that, but I had to get this off my fingertips first.)

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

There’s a Facebook meme going around lately that’s bugging me. It says “I don’t want to feed hungry children so they’ll do better in school. I just want to feed them because they’re hungry.” I think it’s supposed to show the compassion of the poster, because they’re all about feeding the hungry instead of worrying about outcomes, or something. Like so many FB memes, it’s ridiculously oversimplified – as if you could only have one reason for feeding a hungry child.

The thing is, if you feed a child today, she’ll be hungry again tomorrow. It’s a bandage, not a long-term healing. I don’t say that to deride bandages – without them you can bleed to death before any healing occurs. Acute problems need immediate actions to give you time to ceate a systemic fix. But if you only apply that bandage, then you’ve still got the main problem – a child who isn’t getting fed at home.

On the other hand, if you feed that child today, and again tomorrow, and the next day, and the rest of the term, he’s got a reason to keep coming to school and the resources to pay attention once he’s there. If you keep feeding her as long as she needs it, she’s got more reason to stay in school.

Maybe that kid will grow up to be Ray Fields. Ray was probably the most financially successful person I knew growing up – he started a grocery store, built it into a small chain, and eventually sold the chain to Safeway. he still lived on our block because he liked it, but drove a nice car and wintered in Florida. He was a happy man, I think, with a stable marriage, a son he got along with and eventually two beautiful granddaughters. He was also a good man and a wise one; everybody on the block liked hanging out and talking to him, because he was always interesting and interested in you. He told me once that school lunch was sometimes the only good meal he got in a day, growing up during the Depression, and that it was the main reason he and his brother went to school.

Or maybe that kid won’t be Ray Fields. Maybe he’ll just be a kid who doesn’t drop out of high school, and who doesn’t have all the later health issues that childhood malnutrition can lead to. That’s still a pretty good outcome – and one that will help the kid earn enough of a living that she and her own kids won’t go hungry in the future.

So one school meal feeds a hungry kid so he isn’t hungry anymore, and a whole program of them can change lives and improve society. It’s both a bandage and a long-term solution. Pretty good for an intervention that isn’t even all that expensive (compared to, say, sending 100 Secret Service agents to Aspen and getting them skis). I agree that helping a hungry kid to not be hungry anymore is a worthy goal; I just don’t think it’s any reason to scoff at the long-term benefits of that school lunch.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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