Blog .:. February 2007 6 Entries

The Lord of the Rings, or, Gandalph’s Attempt to Take Over the World

26 February 2007 Comments

Gandalph: Here, Frodo, have the ring.

Frodo: You mean a ring, surely?

Gandalph: Possibly, possibly. Look, can you do me a favor and just pop this ring over to the Mountain of Fire in Mordor? I promise to help, except for those times when I’m showing up late and leaving early and otherwise busy putting a king on a throne. But I’ll show back up at the very end, just in time to get all the credit. Ok?

Frodo: But I’m just a hobbit!

Gandalph: Would it make you feel better if you had a dethroned king for a bodyguard?

Aragorn: I don’t want to be king.

Frodo: Does this whiny brat have a sword?

Gandalph: Don’t be rude, Frodo. He’s a king. Or he will be soon. And yes he does have a sword, but it’s broken.

Aragorn: I don’t want to be king.

Gandalph: Shut up. If I can convince a bunch of hobbits to walk into Mordor, do you think you can stop me from putting you on a throne?

Aragorn: Look, even I can see it would be suicidal for four hobbits and one man to go to Mordor.

Gandalph: Yes, that’s why I’ve arranged for some help. An entourage, so to speak.

Boromir: I’m the Tension in the book. And also your Foil. I will make you realize you want to be king after all.

Aragorn: But I don’t…

Boromir: You will, even if I have to die to make it happen.

Aragorn: That’s a bit dramatic, don’t you think?

Boromir: It’s the fate of innocent foils everywhere.

Aragorn: Gandalph, I thought you were giving me help?

Gandalph: Well, there’s Legolas. He’s ineffable. He’ll reveal important plot points at strategic times to fill in all the missing information you don’t have. It’s practically mystical, the way he works.

Legolas: And my hair blows fetchingly in the wind, too. Look.

Gimli: Look at that twit and his wind-blown hair! It’s a good thing I’m here to be some real help!

Gandalph: No, Gimli. You’re the token minority.

Gimli: Elves and hobbits are minorities, too!

Gandalph: Yes, but hobbits are all over this tale and elves make strategic appearances whenever a deus ex machina moment is needed to save the day. Dwarves, on the other hand… have you. You’re it. But no pressure, right?

Gimli: What about Moria?

Gandalph: Well… the dwarves there are a bit moldy, wouldn’t you agree?

Aragorn: This is what you’re giving me to work with? And I’m not saying I want to be king, mind you.

Gandalph: Actually, you can have three more hobbits. Four of a kind beats a full house, you know, although you’re clearly not playing with a full house. Any thinking man would want to be king.

Aragorn: What am I supposed to do with three more hobbits?

Gandalph: Damn if I know. Just try not to lose any of them, ok?

Frodo: Um, this is all very nice, but what if I don’t want to go to Mordor after all? I’ve heard it’s not very nice and the inns have bedbugs.

Gandalph: Well, I phoned up Sauron and he’s sending some thugs after you. They’re not very nice… and unlike Aragorn here, their swords aren’t broken.

Frodo: So, like, if they’re here… they aren’t in Mordor, right?

Gandalph: Astute observation.

Frodo: I think I’ll go to Mordor.

Gandalph: Capital! It’s all arranged, then. [humming] One wizard to rule them all, One wizard to find them. One wizard to bring them all, and in the plot lines bind them…


Ammy vs. Pro

23 February 2007 Comments

So, the old Pro-Ammy debate. Or, the old Ammy Whine. You know the one: “I want to teach a few up-down lessons a week and I can’t do that because I’d have to give up my ammy status and turn pro and wah-wah-wah it’s not fair!”

Actually, it is fair. It is entirely fair. Because—and this is important—if you are receiving money for just one up-down lesson a week, you are running a business. A small business, but a business. At that point, every time you step into the show ring your ride is about more than just you and your horse. It’s also about showing off your abilities to potential clients—or to your current client(s). Even if there’s only one, and that one is your neighbor little Suzie, who worships the ground you trot on. Other parents, and Suzie’s parents, will be watching you ride. They’ll evaluate the skills you show. If you do well, maybe those other parents will approach you about teaching Jimmy. If you do poorly, maybe Suzie’s parents will think about finding a new instructor. You might not be thinking along these lines, but other people will. Even with just one student, every time you walk into the ring you are representing yourself, your horse, and your business. That’s a professional concern, and it has no place—absolutely none—in a ring with amateurs, who have no business concerns. None. Not one student, not one horse they are training (except their own).

I realize a lot of would-be up-down instructors don’t think of it as a business. They think of it as side income, something to help them level the costs of participating in an expensive hobby. I always wonder about that, because… do they tell their students that they don’t view the lessons as a business? That they think the up-down lessons are so… I don’t even know the word here… unimportant… that they want, on the one hand, to take the students’ money for teaching but on the other hand have the rest of the horse world say “It’s ok, you’re not really teaching. You (or your students) aren’t good enough to qualify you for Professional status, so be an ammy.”

Would you want to ride under someone like that? And I don’t mean someone who, maybe, chooses not to show but is a great instructor, so Pro-Ammy status never comes up. I mean someone who wants to teach, and get all the money and benefits of teaching, but then walk into the ring and claim they aren’t professional. What: “I’m good enough to teach you, but I’m not good enough to show against anyone else who teaches.”?

I don’t… get it. You teach and you’re a professional, or you don’t teach and you’re an ammy. You can’t teach just a little bit and still be an ammy, because no matter how people try to justify that, it comes across to me as… entirely unprofessional.

Everything has consequences, right? One of the consequences of teaching a few up-down lessons a week is that you now have a business to represent. You don’t get to stop representing it just because you want to show as an amateur. So you decide: is amateur status more important than the income a few up-down lessons might bring? If it is, you don’t get to teach. Period. You get to be an amateur, but that means being an amateur. If the income is more important, than you lose your amateur status. You get to be an instructor, but that means being a professional. In all aspects—not just the ones that put money in your pocket.

(This rant brought to you by the letter “If I see one more discussion board topic about an amateur thinking they should be allowed to teach lessons and stay an amateur, I’m going to scream” and the number “I am still young enough to see things in black-and-white, but I’m old enough to know there’s lots of gray in the world, so I’d be happy to discuss the other side of this issue” and the conundrum “So why is it I’m happy to discuss this on a blog but not a discussion board, anyway? Oh, right: less trolls.”)


Photo Quilts

22 February 2007 Comments

As I have nothing new to post about riding (what with how I’m not riding for a week or two), here’s a project I meant to post around Christmas but didn’t:

The wall hanging was, if I remember right, about eighteen inches by three feet. The ornaments are about 2” square. I made these for a Secret Santa gift exchange this year—so the pictures, of course, are of my giftee, not me. And that seriously cool horse is hers, not mine. But I wanted to send something a little more personal than a bag of peppermints, and I’ve had the idea for this sort of photo-wall hanging floating around, so there was my excuse to make it! The ornaments were a side-effect, actually—I had extra transfer paper left over—but after seeing how well they turned out I made some for my up-down lesson students, too.

Tagged: Horses

Obligatory Occasional Cat Post

18 February 2007 Comments

People who have cats, babies/toddlers, and puppies can’t resist cornering every random stranger they meet and flashing wallet pictures at them. Or, worse—giving them detailed stories about what said cat, baby/toddler, or puppy did that morning. This is a medical condition known as Gushitis and there is no cure.

I’m just explaining why I have to post about my cats every so often on this blog, even though they aren’t horse related. My spleen could explode if I didn’t.

So. Tweedledee and Tweedledumb eat Cheerios. With relish. We discovered this accidentally, when they got to some spilled Cheerios before we did. At least we know what to feed them the next time we forget to buy cat food.

Meanwhile, old lady Pook has made her own discovery: heating pads.

She and I were curled on the couch together—I had the heating pad on my back and she was using my lap for her own personal heating pad, as she does. I got up to get a drink. Opportunist that she is, she moved to the cushion I’d been sitting on, because she knows all about retained heat and warm cushions.

Except this time I’d left the heating pad on. I came back from the kitchen to find her stretched out on the pad, purring her heart out.

Eventually, I convinced her that my house mate’s seat warmer thing (you heat it up in the microwave and it stays warm for a couple hours—it’s a great cushion to take to sporting events) was just as nice as the heating pad. Nicer, in my view, because there’s nothing electrical about it. Less worry is good, right? I wanted my heating pad back, too.

My house mate came home from work and looked at the two of us stretched out on the couch, both with our heating pads, and asked, “So, what’s wrong with you?”

“Sore back,” I said. That sounds a lot better than “It’s cold and I’m a wimp.”

“What’s Pook’s excuse?”

“It’s cold and she’s a wimp.”

She looked at Pook, still stretched out and purring happily, and sighed. “I’m not getting that seat warmer back, am I?”

Yeah, I should have thought of that before I borrowed it. I did promise to buy her a new one, though.

Tagged: Cats, Cats - Pookie, Cats - Tweedles

You call that cold?

9 February 2007 Comments

Suddenly everyone seems to be complaining of the cold.

This is the perfect chance for me to scoff and point out that it’s so cold here we can’t even put salt on the streets, because the salt doesn’t work (it just freezes anyway). This would be the perfect chance to point out that the temperatures hit twenty degrees and the horses started shedding out like it was spring (true).

But I’ll grant you a few things:

When you’re acclimated to warmer temperatures, relative cold comes into play. Twenty degrees is a heat wave to us, but then, so is eighty degrees. And I can’t laugh at anyone for thinking twenty degrees is bitterly cold when I know perfectly well that, come summer, if the temperature hits eighty, I’m going to whine about melting… and the rest of the world is going to go “Eighty!? Eighty?! Try a hundred degrees on for size!”

So. Relative temperatures, right? You’re allowed to think twenty degrees is cold if I can think eighty degrees is too hot to tolerate.

Also, since the snow shows up and stays around for eight months, we sort of know how to deal with it. When you’re not used to snow at all, or are only used to it for a day or two at a time, it probably is very chaotic. Our snowplows are pretty much always on the road. Yours probably have to be dusted off. Assuming the drivers can remember where they left their keys. By the pool, perhaps?

I’m not entirely unsympathetic, you know. I once lived in a town where school was canceled because it might snow the next day. They let everyone out early, so parents could pick them up and then make it to the grocery store to buy supplies. I wish I were kidding. It didn’t snow, in the end, but I think they let everyone stay out of school anyway. Just in case.

But here, we have laws about snow removal. For instance: you cannot shovel snow into the street. This is an actual law. Because that’s how much snow we get, and that snow doesn’t melt. Until May. Ok, April. But May sounds more dramatic, doesn’t it?

Hmm. I seem to have lost the point of this post. It’s just that everyone else is commenting on how cold it is, so I thought I should join in. Except that, it’s twenty degrees this week and that’s not cold. It’s a heat wave. I did mention the horses are shedding, right? I come out of the barn looking like I just got caught in the middle of a fur tornado.

Very weird. Maybe they know something we don’t know.

Meanwhile, any time you start feeling cold, just do what I do. Think of the places really far North, where there are electrical outlets at every parking space—because if you don’t plug your engine when you aren’t running it, you can’t get it started again. And (so I’ve heard) they leave their engines running when they fill up for gas.

Suddenly, your temperature feels all warm and toasty again, doesn’t it?


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