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annual Chanukah poems

Getting ready to head out to the lake house for the holiday; Ted gets back from Korea today, then we’ll drive up tomorrow. I’ll work from home next week (the real home of my heart, not just the place I live during the week) then be completely off from Christmas through New Year’s Day. I’ve been saying for years that I wish we could celebrate 12 days of Christmas – I love the one in The Dark is Rising, where the Yule Log makes the family’s life a festival for twelve days and nights. But really, I suppose what we do isn’t too far off; we usually manage to make the last two weeks of the year special, and it doesn’t end at Christmas but goes all the way through New Year.

Anyway, as bad as I’ve been about writing here, there’s one annual tradition of mine I didn’t want to miss – here are two villanelles for Chanukah. The light-in-darkness theme might be a bit less closely tied to the holiday than usual; it has been a very, very dark year for a lot of us.

Lighting Candles, Just in Case
When I’ve finished cursing at the night,
I light a flame. The game is worth the candle,
I want to be the one who tends the light.

I may not help myself, try as I might;
when I’ve got all the trouble I can handle
and haven’t finished cursing at the night,

When all is dim, where once it was so bright,
And seems a trudge, where once it was an amble
I want to be the one who tends the light.

I cannot know what others have in sight
my beacon, when their way is rough with bramble;
Although I’m not done cursing at the night,

My flame might show the way and calm their fright,
As might-could-be’s gleam out in its example ….
I want to be the one who tends the light.

Though I’m not finished cursing at the night,
I want to be the one who tends the light.

Because Mr. Rogers’ Mother Said So
The darkness is so very dark this year,
but light is found in unexpected places.
Seek out the helpers – cross my heart, they’re here.

With dross abounding, gold becomes more dear
Though foulness seeks to hide its shining traces –
The darkness is so very dark this year,

But always, when disaster is severe
Humanity unfolds its kindest faces –
Seek out the helpers – cross my heart, they’re here.

Disasters loom, in Man’s and Nature’s spheres
while fear and hatred make their strongest cases –
The darkness is so very dark this year.

Although it’s faint, there’s reason still for cheer;
each setback turns up unexpected graces.
Seek out the helpers – cross my heart, they’re here.

Though darkness is so very dark this year,
Seek out the helpers. Cross my heart, they’re here.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

sliding down to the end of the year

I am not making good progress on my annual Chanukah poem, but the Holiday Challenge proceeds apace. I’m at 93,000m, just a bit short of halfway; that’s behind last year’s pace, but still on track to finish well ahead of Christmas Eve (if I don’t skimp any qorkouts, I should finish on December 18). That’s right where I want to be, or even a little ahead. Last year I think I overtrained; I could hardly persuade myself to work out at all in following weeks, got sick not long after, and was ill a total of three times in the first half of the year (starting at Intel and being around a lot more people may also have contributed).

I’m also feeling productive at work, in a very busy period right now, which is probably also not good for the poem. But I’m hoping to have a very quiet week working from home (the one on the lake) for the week before Christmas, and then I’m off through New Year’s, yay.

Knitting is also proceeding; I finished the lap blanket for my SIL and two kippot for my mom and nephew; I plan to make one more for my brother, and I expect to finish a cowl for me in the next day or so. Pictures … sometime.

I’ve been thinking over 2017; it feels to me that the year has been both worse for my country than I expected and better for me personally than expected. I was expecting Trump to foster a climate of xenophobia, to insist on that ridiculous wall, to posture and to lie and I even expected him to get in a pissing match with other nations. I was expecting Congress to try to shaft the poor and try to kill off Obamacare – not a great program but at least the closest approach we’ve had yet to the healthcare the rest of the world enjoys. I expected Trump to renege on his promise to support LGBTQ rights and I knew that the dominant party in Congress never did. What I wasn’t expecting was for Trump to try to kill everything Obama did for no other reason than that Obama did it – I hadn’t realized he harbored that much personal malice toward him.

On the other hand I wasn’t expecting to change jobs this year, and I wasn’t expecting the stock market to keep booming as it had, so that every time I check my accounts I’ve made more money by doing nothing. I feel good about the job going into 2018; at this point 9 months in, my scope is continuing to grow, where I think in my last job it had started to constrict and it was becoming plain that some of the future growth I hoped for (and had been hinted to) wouldn’t happen. I don’t have nearly as good a feeling about the stock market; it feels like the bubble before a bust to me. I’m leaving my money in there because it’s mostly in index funds and I do trust the market to recuperate in the long run, but even if Mueller has the effect so many of us hope for, it’s likely t trash the market in the short run. (But I’m cheering him on nonetheless.)

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

Rowing, knitting, enjoying

This time of year it’s all about the knitting and the erg. Today I did 18km, the longest bit so far this year; Thursday begins the annual Concept II Holiday Challenge – my 16th, or something like that. It feels harder each year, but I think that perception is just because humans aren’t good at remembering pain. Certainly when I was showering this morning I remembered many post-erg showers when my arms felt just as heavy.

This week I finished and blocked My Find You Fade shawl; it took me 2 months, which is not bad for something that big. It uses more than half of 6 skeins of sock yarn; when I drape it around my shoulders, the ends reach to my ankles. I need to get Ted to help me take a picture of it on – though being so big it’s a little tricky to wear.

Last weekend at the lake house, whence I have moved all my beading stuff, I did some beadwork for the first time in ages – a necklace with some Roman glass and a pair of cobalt earrings.

For gift knitting, the kippah I’m making my mom for Chanukah will be done by tomorrow, the Wombat blanket for my SIL is close to done, and the dodecahedron for my nephew was finished long ago.

I started a pair of socks Thursday, which came in handy yesterday. My husband got home yesterday morning from a weeklong business trip, decided to try out some new woodcarving tools ….and I got home from work yesterday evening to be notified that I needed to drive him to the Immediate Care unit because he couldn’t stop the bleeding. (He ended up needing 2 stitches.) Tomorrow I will cast on one more project, a cowl, and will take that and the socks to my in-laws for Thanksgiving, and I’m still really liking the job, but it’s been a long time since any time off, so I’m looking forward to only two workdays before we leave. Tonight I made a recipe I’d saved in my recipe app long ago but never got around to, Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs – it’s always nice to find a recipe that’s easy and tasty (we have a gas grill and use it year ‘round). It’s a good weekend (apart from the spouse still being bandaged).

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

The weekend’s good thing: driving out to the lake house went well again. Ted had taken the week off, since he’s got vacation time to burn, and gone down there with the cats, though I’m under the impression that he still ended up working more than not. He’s not good at working less. I drove out to meet him, so being bak together was nice, and also the drive does seem to be getting easier. Partly I’m sure it’s practice, but I do think the DARE book has helped too. I listen to one of the audios at the start of each drive, just as a reminder.

The weekend’s bad thing: After a row on very rough water, I was putting my oars down Saturday when I threw my back out – something went twannng! and hurt for a few seconds, and then it felt achy and fragile for a while. It is mostly better – a massage I happened to have scheduled yesterday helped – but still aches it I sit too long. I haven’t rowed or erged since then, but planned to try it last night.

Yesterday’s good thing: my new desk finally arrived! It took forever because Pottery Barn managed to omit one essential piece while shipping it to their warehouse. I don’t think it would ever have arrived, if I hadn’t kept calling and escalating. But it got there yesterday morning, and then I realized that since I was working from home anyway, I could take a lunch break and go get the peripherals I needed, because working at a nonoptimal setup was not helping my back. Ted has an office in our house for his home conputer, plus another setup in a spare bedroom where he has a table and monitor he can plug his work laptop into, but I’d never had a real desk because I don’t like working at a proper desk if I can be on a couch. I wrote my whole book at the dining room table. But now, with early and late meetings, I’m doing enough work that I need a big monitor and proper keyboard, which means it needs everything else for a functional work environment. So now I have my very own desk and all the accoutrements (except I’m still stealing one of Ted’s chairs, because I’m not sure what I want for myself).

Yesterday’s (slightly) bad part: four skeins of yarn arrived in the mail, as part of a traveling swap – the idea is that you take one or more yarns you like, replace them with comparable yarn from your own stash and send it on. But there was nothing in there I liked, so I guess I will be sending on the whole box. (It’s good quality, but not to my taste.)

The good part of today: I was waiting for a conference room and as the people from the previous meeting were walking out, one of them took a look at me and said “Paula???” It took me a few minutes to realize who he was, but we shared a cube once for about six months – a different company in a different state, about a decade and a half ago. It was fun to see him; it’s been a looooong time. Since then we’ve both moved into other industries; all my Six Sigma, expat and author experience have happened since then. Back then, he was a recent grad in his first software engineer job, wearing a t-shirt and holey jeans; now he’s mid-career, with apparently some direct reports of his own. He’s grown up well. It’s been a looooong time – since then we’ve both moved into other industries; all my Six Sigma, expat and author ex

(Unfortunately, the main shared experience I remember was that one of his close co-workers, a fit man in his fifties, droped dead while jogging. So I didn’t want to bring that up!)

The bad part of today is that I may need to back off on some of my social media, because people are beginning to irritate me – and in both cases, it’s mostly other feminists. In one case, someone who has a history of being condescending and spiky said something that felt denigrating to me. I’m not denying that it doesn’t seem to be what she intended, and she herself did apologize a bit if she’d worded it badly, which is all I was ever hoping for, so it’s better not to engage further anyway. But I am bemused at the people who normally are all about “you have the right to your own feelings” jumping out to tell me how wrong I am.

And then there is the “me too” thing. As it happens, I have never been sexually harassed, abused or raped. I appear to be in a small minority here. I realize it’s nothing but luck on my part, having seen women smarter and stronger than I am go through some horrible experiences. Of course I’ve had catcalls, but very few – a couple of whistles, and maybe one disgusting call-out. Of course I’ve encountered systematic sexism. I live in the world as it is. But I haven’t been groped, I’ve never been pressured into sex, I’ve never been threatened, or treated unfairly in overt ways – or the couple of times things might have gone that way, I’ve had people to notice and stand up for me – even when it was as innocuous as girls being required to wear skirts to a fifth grade dance when boys could get away with jeans, my mother wrote a note to the teacher. I’ve had at least one teacher who (I just found out) harassed some other girls – but he didn’t do it to me (possibly because I looked like a child at that age) and I didn’t even know about it at the time. The closest thing to inappropriate touching was a coworker who came up behind me and rubbed my shoulders – and I told him to stop. He wasn’t in any position of authority and our company had clearly stated anti-harassment policies they stood behind, so I had recourse. Or there was the stranger who literally leaned across me to hit on a friend of mine. I was not sexually harassed; I was inconvenienced by rudeness and ignored in a stunning display of bad manners – though I bet my friend feels she was harassed, because he was a bit creepy and kept telling her how much he was like his old girlfriend.

I am going into this level of detail (and have detailed other instances on FaceBook) to make the point that I remember the things that have happened to me. I am not in denial. I am not denying there has been some sexism, and I certainly do think these sorts of microaggressions contribute to the rape culture we have. But it has never risen to the level of harassment and abuse, and I find it paradoxical that I am now being told by avowed feminists that I am not competent to judge my own life experiences.

I think this is an important point. I’ve even seen it drawn as a triangle, with common microagresssions at the base rising to rape, shown as a rare thing, up at the point. I’m somewhere within that base, for sure, but I think it’s very important to make people realize that rape and abuse are not rare. I know woman after woman after woman with horrible stories to tell. Life-changing stories. Violence, or betrayal by people in positions of power and trust, or climates that left them unable to live their lives as they want and take the jobs or classes they chose. It’s epidemic. Yes, we need to crack down on microagressions because they contribute to the acceptance of macroaggression – but I will not be part of anything that allows anyone to assume that all the “me, too” comments are speaking of minor problems. Each woman, including me, has the right to determine for herself what rises to the level of aggression and harassment, and I know enough of my sisters’ stories to know what a huge festering sinkhole this is. I’ve been lucky, and somehow haven’t fallen in. What I want to say is, DON’T push me.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

Blanche DuBois had a point

This image has been my icon on Ravelry for over a year now.

I created it soon after the Orlando nightclub shootings, borrowing the words from the sonnet Lin-Manuel Miranda read at the Tony awards, right after and in response to the shootings. (Go

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<p>This image has been my icon on Ravelry for over a year now.<br /> <img src="http://www.riseagain.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/love_rainbow_xlarge.jpg" alt="" width="240" height="240" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-4827" srcset="http://www.riseagain.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/love_rainbow_xlarge.jpg 240w, http://www.riseagain.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/love_rainbow_xlarge-150x150.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 240px) 100vw, 240px" /></p> <p>I created it soon after the Orlando nightclub shootings, borrowing the words from the sonnet Lin-Manuel Miranda read at the Tony awards, right after and in response to the shootings. (Go <a href="http://<a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2016/06/lin-manuel-miranda-tony-speech">sonnet</a>&#8220;>read it again</a>; it&#8217;s the right words for today. I&#8217;l wait.) World events ever since then have been such that I haven’t once been able to bear the idea of taking it down and going back to a ‘normal’ icon. Clearly I won&#8217;t be taking it down today, either.</p> <p>But yesterday a random stranger on Ravelry sent me a note. She&#8217;s een my icon and loved it. She told me about the pretty Black Lab in her own user icon there, then sent another note sying she&#8217;d read about me and we sound a lot alike. I&#8217;m not convinced of that part, entirely; for one thing, she added, &#8220;In my town there is no majority &#8212; we are all people&#8221; and well, I don&#8217;t live in Utopia yet. She also sounds a lot more cheerful than I am!</p> <p>So I told her the story of my icon, and why I&#8217;ve kept it up so long (typically on Ravelry, LJ and elsewhere I&#8217;ve always used pictures or drawings of myself, since the icon is there by my words). She answered back, </p> <blockquote><p> Paula &#8211;</p> <p>Hugs and more hugs and a spare one to put in your pocket (it does not expire).</p> <p>No, you are not a downer. Looking at your lovely icon reminds me of a tea cup I have in as many colors-red, orange, yellow, blue, darker blue, and don’t know what to call it.</p> <p>First saying is Whatever your mind can conceive and beleive, it will achieve.</p> <p>Dream great dreams and make them come true.</p> <p>Nothing in the world can take the pace of persistence.</p> <p>and on and on and on. Were it possible, I’d hand it to you right this instant. Full of tea/cocoa/coffee/cafe con leche or whatever you like best.</p> <p>I’l think of you every time I use it henceforth. </p></blockquote> <p>So like I said, I&#8217;m not entirely sure she got what I was saying, and she&#8217;s clearly way more cheerful than I am feeling today &#8230; but damned if I don&#8217;t feel a little better on account of these kind words from a total stranger.</p> <p style="text-align: right"><small>Mirrored from <a href="http://www.riseagain.net/wp/2017/10/02/blanche-dubois-had-a-point/" title="Read Original Post">Dichroic Reflections</a>.</small></p>

Some Yom Kippur thoughts

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I was thinking about the approaching holiday. Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Jews are supposed to repent for their sins in the previous year, and ask forgiveness from Lowe’s they have injured or offended.

I’m sure that this year, as every year, I have Knight at my husband, remove about my family, then annoyed at coworkers who are only trying to do their best, goofed off when I should have work harder, or not done the kind act that was in front of me, And for all those things I am truly sorry.

This year, though, repentance for everything comes harder. I suspect that the times when I have most offended others were when I was speaking out in favor of love and freedom against hatred and repression. I am not sorry for speaking out. I am proud. I’m sorry for those. Probably, though, there were times when I could have spoken better. There may have been times when, in the satisfaction of righteous indignation, I offended someone when I could have actually change their mind. I’m sorry for that. There may have been times when I was unclear, and thus alienated someone Who might otherwise they’re on my side. I am sorry for that. Maybe there were times I could’ve been more persuasive if I have chosen my words more carefully I’m sorry for those missed opportunities. here may have been times when I didn’t recognize the common humanity in those I opposed – not the true haters, but those with a legitimate grievance who then got swept along on a riptide of demagoguery. I know that happens with the best intentions: you don’t have to be much of a student of history to have seen it again and again. Did I ever put a hand out to those in the riptide? Was I swept along myself? I hope to do better in future.

Most of all, I am sorry there were times when I should have spoken up, but didn’t.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.


starting the new year with an outing

Last night, I met up with 5 other local knitters, took the MAX (lightrail) downtown, had dinner at Kenny & Zukes (so I got to have matzo ball soup for Roash Hashanah dinner, yay – and it was good, too) and then went over to Powell’s to hear Clara Parkes speak about her new book, A Stash of One’s Own (a collection of essays about the yarn stashes that every knitter tends to accumulate, revel in or guilt-trip over, pet now and then when no one is watching, and sometimes *gasp* cull).

It all felt like such a Portland thing to do 🙂 It might not have been the most traditional way to spend Erev Rosh Hashana, but I heard a speech by a rabbi the other day in which he talked about how we try to begin the year as we want it to go on – I could deal with a year full of friends, fun outings, knitting and yarn talk, and good food.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.


New iPad, complete with keyboard and Pencil. Am typing this just because I can, and noticing that my brain seems to be wired to think that keyboard+mouse is an inseparable set. I keep wanting too grab a mouse instead of touching the screen to select stuff. (This also keeps me using the touchpad when working on my work laptop, which actually has a touchscreen.) The iPad arrived yesterday, so I went to Verizon to turn in the old one for credit – good thing I remembered to ask about the keyboard, which the person last time I was there apparently had marked as having been a sale rather than an order. I only ordered it because they didn’t have any in stock – I bet that was wrong too, since today they found only one, that had been shelved in the wrong section. I got suspicious after noticing they’d emailed an order confirmation for the iPad itself, but an order receipt for the keyboard. And, come to think of it, neither one for the Pencil – I got a paper receipt for that one.

Next week they will be rolling out iOS 11, so I should be able to have even more fun with the pencil then.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

at least I get to knit on the way

Tomorrow should be interesting, if somewhat lacking in the sleep department – I’m traveling to the Santa Clara office. One of the better perks of working for Intel is getting to go on the shuttle (corporate jet) between the major offices. However, to get the maximum time there, I need to check in at 5:45 AM and I land back home at 8:30 PM (and still have to drive home, but it’s only ten minutes or so). This is way better than flying commercial, because you apparently just show up, show ID and get on, no major security hassles.

Also, I had a midyear review today (my first formal review since starting here) and was nervous, but the boss seems to be happy enough with me, so that’s good.

Meanwhile, I figured it was time to post a few more finished objects. Some socks, a toy for a coworker’s new baby, cowls (the blue one for me, the dark red for a swap)
and a couple summer sweaters.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

Charlottesville: two points

I have a question. Is there *any* accurate (non-alt-right) evidence that the “antifa” engaged in unprovoked violence in Charlottesville? I am seeing a few well-intentioned people saying that they deplore racism yada yada but that they deprecate violence on *both* sides.

I went combing through the news and the only evidence I could find of violence from people on the left was that the protests and counterprotests devolved into ‘taunting, shoving, and brawling’. Of course I’d like to believe that the Nazis started it, and others were only defending themselves – but either way, in my opinion, brawling with people who are brawling with you is waaaay different than

1) Arranging a riot and showing up armed and ready to fight
2) Trapping activists inside a church where they’re holding a prayer vigil
3) Surrounding and roughing up a small group of UVA students trying to defend their campus from interlopers
4) running your car into counterprotestors and then reportedly backing up over them to cause maximum damage

So, OK, I’m against initiating violence, but even violence has degrees – and defending yourself and others is not only OK but required. It’s not a binary “did it happen or didn’t it” thing, and while I’m perfectly prepared to call out my own fellow travelers for conduct unbecoming when required, I don’t think there was any here that needs to be called out.

While I’m at it, another quick question: I first saw that term “antifa” or “anti fa” used by the alt-right. Now I’m seeing it everywhere. Are we reclaiming it? Is “anti fa”, with the space, meant to mean “anti fascist”?

I just heard a fascinating and somewhat depressing discussion on Federal prosecution of the man who killed Heather Heyer. Apparently this may be tricky for them (this applies only to the Federal case; VA laws may differ).

  • They may not be able to make a hate crime charge stick because, no matter who he was aiming at, the victim in this case was white. (Maybe they can still get that to stick because others were injured? I don’t know.)
  • The Federal KKK law will only apply if he turns to to have been conspiring with others, not if it was a lone-wolf attack
  • If they call it terrorism, that gives the investigation more power but they can’t prosecute it as terrorism because the Federal law only covers the international variety, not domestic terrorism.

Sounds like we need to rethink some laws. At least murder is still illegal.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.