Blog .:. September 2008 4 Entries

Hey you—with the keyboard—you’re weird

24 September 2008 Comments

It’s been a while since I did this, so here we go: weird keywords that bring people to my blog.

And here I thought I use “stuff” when I want to be vague and inarticulate, but apparently not. FIVE people have found my blog searching for “things.” I want to know what went through their heads when they typed that into the search box. “I heard you can find things on the internet… I wonder if that’s true?” Other similarly useless single-word searches include “about”, “sometimes”, “website”, “people” (ha! poor person wanted to find people, and stumbled upon one of the most self-absorbed blogs around. Whoops), and “would.”
making guilts from ribbons
I advise starting with some good Catholic ribbons.
humidity profile in halt
Say what? I have this image of a dressage queen frantically trying to find out if the judges at E and B will mark her down for frizzy hair at the halt.
quilting why arent my blocks the same size
If you’re anything like me, it’s because you can’t sew a straight line.
how do you teach dressage????
That’s a secret told only to people who use six or seven question marks. By using less that that, you show you just aren’t serious enough about learning.
how to make quilt heavy
Baste some coins to the batting. The more coins you put in, the heavier it will be. On the weekends, you can use it as makeshift armor at Ye Localle Ren Faire.
h/j rider?
That is not a question. It’s an abbreviated adjective and a noun.
term in dressage for a half pass left
I believe that is called a… wait for it… “half pass left.” (Now someone can tell me I’m an idiot and there’s some fancy name for it, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of one.)
dressage horse won t halt
No problem. Claim you and the horse were inspired by Anky’s ride on Salinero in the Olympics and have decided halting is for the birdies.
houston traffic blog
There were a surprising number of variations on this. Ok, I get it: I’ll shut up about the traffic already.


And, of course, the never-ending searches for “how to teach my horse to….” People, find a trainer. If you try to learn how to teach a piaffe from the internet, the closest you are going to get is a horse that is pissed off.


I’ve had it. Up to here and then some.

22 September 2008 Comments

Like far too many people in the US today, I eat badly and don’t exercise enough. And, like far too many people in the US, I’m overweight as a result.

This is not something I’ve always struggled with; it’s relatively new (the past four years or so), and all the more annoying for that. I know better. I have had better habits. I’d like to blame genetics, but I really can’t. I got myself into this, and, frankly, I’m sick of it. I’m getting myself out.

Of course, I’ve been telling myself that for the last six months or so, with no result. So this time, I’m pushing my own buttons. I actually signed up for a gym membership and some sessions with a personal trainer to jump start me. I know it will drive me insane if I’m paying for it and not using it, so hopefully that will help keep me on track.

It’s ok—I can see the look of disbelief on your face from here. No, I don’t really think that “I paid for it” is going to be enough motivation. I have a better motivation: for all that I talk about TBs, what I really, really want to buy is a pony. I’m short enough that I would fit a large pony just fine, if I were at a normal, healthy weight.

Only fifty pounds or so between me and that “if”, and six or seven months to make it. That’s doable, as long as I stay serious about this.

We’ll see. The only one who can make this happen is me. Let’s find out just how fed up (ha ha) I really am.

Tagged: Living & Eating Better

Ike, or something like it

19 September 2008 Comments

As Ike barreled down on Houston, I tore myself away from the ever-fascinating NOAA imagery to make a decision about evacuating.

The eye of the hurricane was projected to pass east of us, putting us on the “good” side of the hurricane. My apartment is well out of the surge zones; I would have to worry about wind damage and maybe some minor water damage if the apartment complex’s drainage is as bad as I suspect. In all honesty, the worst I expected to deal with was the lack of power after the hurricane.

So, while at work, I decided to stay. Then I went home, looked at all the trees and telephones in the parking lot, and looked in my car. My car is the single most expensive thing I own. Although it’s insured, I wasn’t keen on trying to get it repaired in a city suffering major infrastructure damage, as I expected Houston to be after Ike passed.

I decided I would leave, provided I could take the cats out with me and would not be in the way of people who legitimately needed to evacuate. Some friends in San Antonio were willing to put the cats and I up for a couple days, and that left only the question of how to get out of town without interfering with the real evacuees.

Before I left my apartment, I checked the traffic, which showed I-10 to be moving freely. I thought that was too good to be true, but who was I to argue with technology? Turns out it was too good to be true—I-10 was a parking lot. It was just that the traffic backup didn’t start until past the sensors. I had no desire to sit in that traffic, must less add to it, so I took advantage of my GPS system’s best feature: the ability to avoid certain roads. It reprogrammed my route to go on Alt 90. As I drove the back roads to get to Alt 90, I decided that if this route was also busy, I would stay home.

Alt 90 was clear, clear, clear, so I hopped on it and headed west. I think this is the major flaw in evacuation plans: they put everyone on too few roads. It seems to me that if you want to get a lot of people out quickly, by spreading them across multiple routes you can reduce traffic and the infrastructure load (gas, accident response, etc) across a much wider area, allowing everyone to move quickly. But what do I know? I’m just the one who got to San Antonio in half the time it would have taken on I-10, passing numerous open and busy but not overwhelmed gas stations.

The cats and I spent a couple days in San Antonio—enough time to let Ike pass and then give first responders a chance to make the trip to Houston without having to deal with me as excess traffic (e.g. the convoys of utility trucks and water/food). Then I waited a few more days to hear if my apartment had power. That was the hardest part, really—not being able to find out the situation on my apartment. Although I was reasonably sure it had come through without damage, there’s a difference between “reasonable sure” and being sure.

The complex did lose some trees, although it doesn’t look like anyone’s cars were damaged. I probably could have stayed and the car would have been fine. But in a similar situation, I think I’d go again.

If I’d had a horse? That would have been tougher. You can’t throw the horse into the back of the car the way you can toss cats, and it’s much harder to fine a place to take in horses. You also have to balance how well the horses travel against the relative danger at their home location.

Coming back, it’s clear that it’s going to take Houston a long time to recover. There are still places without power, and I don’t mean in just the devastated zones on the coast. My office building doesn’t have power yet, and we’re working from home as best we can. My phone and internet service has been unreliable, making my ability to work spotty. My local gas station had gas this morning, the first time I have seen it open in a week.

All of which, frankly, is merely inconvenient. I’ve been lucky, and you won’t be hearing anything else from me on Ike for that reason—there’s nothing for me to report. And although I expect to be out helping some people who were not so fortunate this weekend, they can choose to tell (or not) their story in their own way.


I make a lousy race horse trainer

7 September 2008 Comments

I had the opportunity this weekend to play one of those games where you breed your race horse, train it, and then race it.

I lost, badly.

Here’s the thing, though: I finally understand why horse games don’t make any money. It’s because they just aren’t realistic for people who actually know anything about riding.

Take “my” little race horse, for example: poor guy was born wasp-waisted and with hind legs on steroids. When the program showed him walking off a trailer, it looked like his entire hind end was collapsing. Despite the fact that is was only computer graphics—and bad ones at that—it was still painful to watch. (Although it would explain why my horse ran so poorly; he probably needed some serious chiropractic adjustments).

So: ugly, unrealistic (even scary) graphics. At least I could handle the care and training part, right?

Nope. Feed the horse some hay, and he wants a carrot. Give him a carrot, and he wants some hay. Horse is sad? Try to cheer him up, and he walks off in a huff. Horse does a good job and you praise him? He walks off in a huff. Punish the horse? He walks off in a huff.

I know that once you sort out the algorithm, the game would be easy enough to win, but who wants to spend all day trying to figure out how to make a computer horse happy when you could be making a real horse happy?

Tagged: Computers & Gadgets, Horse Racing, Horses

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