Blog .:. September 2009 5 Entries

How to lose 25 pounds in 25 seconds

30 September 2009 Comments

One of my dubious talents is that I have a fairly accurate sense of my own weight.

It’s not good for much. I don’t even know when to put it to use. For example, I once shocked a gym trainer by telling him how much I weighed before I stepped on the scale. It wasn’t the knowledge that shocked him, it was the number—he insisted there was no way I was carrying that much weight. Had I been thinking straight, I would have bet the membership fees. As it was, I had to settle for being dead on the number and for his very confused look. He never did figure out where I was keeping the weight.

Between my Spider sense and the fact that it’s generally possible to tell if I am gaining or losing weight by how my clothes fit, I’ve never bothered to buy a scale. Personally, I think they are just one big, numeric guilt trip to help people quantify what they already know.

However, my extended family is having a weight-loss challenge and there is no question that I need to lose weight. Plus, I am going home for Christmas and it amuses me to shock my mother. I once convinced her I’d be halfway around the globe for the holidays, and I had a friend in that location playing along and helping with some phone call issues. Meanwhile, my brother picked me up at the airport and got me home. Mom came running in the house ten minutes after she thought I was going to call from said friend’s house, looked at me sitting on the couch and said—brilliantly—“You’re not supposed to be here!”

I’d have tried pulling that off again this year, but she and her husband have a habit of going off on vacation. I swear; parents having a life ruins all good holiday pranks. I had to verify she would be in town for Christmas before I bought my own plane tickets. I figure, if I can’t shock her with my arrival, I can at least surprise her with my appearance.

I’ve decided to participate in my family’s weight-loss challenge, although I’m not telling them about it. We’ll see. Surprising family is, honestly, probably a better motivation for me than anything else, so maybe this will work.

But it does mean I needed to buy a scale, because my Spider sense about my weight is not quite that accurate. And so, alas, I have to fall into the guilt by numbers trap.

The scale I bought—I’m sure you’re not surprised—does not talk. It does not measure my BMI. It does not—heaven forbid—measure my hydration level (although there was a scale that said it could do that. Really? Does it pinch you?). It doesn’t even have a digital readout.

I brought it home, took it out of the box, and without really thinking, stepped on it.

And stared.

Either my Spider sense had utterly deserted me or—ah, of course. I was on carpet. Did I mention I wasn’t thinking?

I moved it to the bathroom, where it informed me I weighed 25 pounds less. Sweet!

This time, the measurement was very close to what my Spider sense told me it should be.

So, here’s to a pound and a half weight loss per week, and a new wardrobe by Christmas.

Tagged: Bad Decisions, Holidays, Living & Eating Better

I thought my car was painted gray, but maybe it’s lemon-yellow

21 September 2009 Comments

So, here’s the thing. I bought this car in June of ‘07. It had approximately 5 miles on; no one had even test driven it.

While I was in the Great White North, the car was fine.

I come down to the Sunny South and get in a fender bender. Ok, my bad.

Then recently I was dropping off some paperwork for work, drove under an underpass, and a rock kicked up by a truck above me cracked my windshield. Nice. Why do other people get little chips that can be fixed and paid for by insurance, but I get the Mother of All Cracks? I’ll tell you the answer to that—because my deductible is greater than the cost of a new windshield. If it had been less—if my insurance company would have been the one paying for the repair—I guarantee the MOAC would have been a teeny chip.

Then, last week as I was driving home and happened to take the long way because I hate making left turns that are not at lights and especially hate making left turns that are not at lights during rush hour (so I took a right turn, if you didn’t follow the math), I drove over a nail.

Insta-flat tire.

Sadly, this has not cured my natural aversion to left turns across traffic. I must have been killed by a left-turn accident in a previous life.

Now, I am a pretty independent person and, while I am not the handiest person in the world, I’m not an idiot. I can change a tire. I can change my own oil. I know where the air filter is, and I know how to change wiper blades.

What I don’t know is what the heck happened to the jack in my move down to the Sunny South. It should be in the car, right?

Because my car’s designer was apparently on crack, the back of the car has six billion little compartments of unidentified purpose, although they are all very-specifically lined like they are expecting certain tools. I am captivated. And baffled. None of them contain a jack.

The last time I got a flat tire, I also couldn’t find the jack. But that was a used car, and I assumed the other owners lost it.

I am now forced to conclude that 1) jacks are allergic to me and run away screaming, or 2) the same creatures who eat single socks in the laundry also eat jacks.

It’s humiliating to stand there and wait for a tow truck to show up so some man can change my tire for me. Women everywhere, I apologize profusely for letting you down.

I would go buy a jack, but when I took the car in to get the flat tire fixed and an oil changed (even if I had my car’s jack, if you think I am getting under a car with the teeny excuse for a jack they put in cars, you’re smoking something) and sundry other maintenance things that needed to be done, they told me that my struts are leaking.


The car is two years old. So now the car is sitting in my parking lot, waiting for the dealership to call me back on Monday, because struts should not be leaking on a two-year old car.

And I still don’t own a jack.

There’s probably a lesson in this. I’d venture to say the lesson is “buy used, since you’re going to have problems anyway.”

Tagged: Cars & Trucks

Legal Victories in the Horse World

18 September 2009 Comments

In today’s sue-happy world, it’s no surprise that equestrians have a vested interest in ensuring equine liability laws remain in place. Written correctly, these laws allow for the unpredictable nature of the horse (saving the instructor from frivolous lawsuits every time a student breaks an arm) while still allowing valid suits to go forward (in case of negligent behavior).

Laws, of course, are only as good as the judges who uphold them.

In a recent decision, a New York judge rejected a claim from a woman who went on a riding date, fell off, and was injured. Article.

The injuries the woman suffered sound considerable, but pay close attention to the details of the decision, provided at the end of the article: the guy/date was not obligated to assess the woman’s riding abilities, she did not ask to stop the ride, and “Neither Plaintiff’s lack of recent riding experience, nor her requests for assistance when she found herself unable to control the horse, created a duty of care on Defendant’s part to prevent her from the risks associated with horseback riding.”

That last part seems especially important to me. The judge is saying that it was her responsibility to recognize (and end) the risk to herself. In other words, she should have gotten off or otherwise taken control of the situation, rather than expecting the date to do that for her.

Given that I was convinced our society no longer understood the meaning of personal responsibility, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to see this judgment and reasoning. I do wonder how the judgment would have gone if it had been a lesson situation—for instance, I’d assume that an instructor would have a duty to assess the abilities of a student and provide assistance if requested—but that doesn’t diminish the fact that one judge, at least, is saying that the only person responsible for personal safety in an inherently risky recreational activity is that person.

Way to go, New York judge. 

And, of course, there is the recent Tom Selleck judgment. Yes, Selleck won $187,000 in the battle over his lame horse. $120,000 of that was for the cost of the horse. I’ve seen lots of sniping online about the other $67,000, apparently from people who don’t realize that the award was strictly for damages and did not include a penalty. In other words, that award would cover board, medical expenses, and whatever else Selleck could prove he spent on the horse he would not have bought had he had all the information in front of him. Before you claim the amount is preposterous, his daughter has her eye on Grand Prix, right? I would be shocked if monthly board were not at (or above) $2,000 a month to have the horse in a location and with a trainer conducive to Grand Prix competition. The law suit took several years to go through court… 2K a month quickly adds up. That’s all speculation, but what isn’t speculation is that this $67,000 was damages. However it was spent, it was spent. This isn’t pain and suffering or other penalties—it was only damages. Actual money lost, being recouped through the court system.

Before you say a word about vetting, read this: article. Here are the relevant quotes:

The Sellecks hired Paul McClellan, a veterinarian, to conduct a pre-purchase examination of a horse named Zorro.

They alleged that McClellan had failed to follow up on information provided by the seller about Zorro, including that the horse had received veterinary treatment in the previous 30 days.

If he had, the Sellecks contended, McClellan would have discovered that veterinarian Richard Brian Markell had given Zorro five injections of joint lubricant and steroids used in the aggressive treatment of a lame horse three days before McClellan’s examination.

The Sellecks amended their complaint to add the sellers and Markell as defendants, alleging that the defendants had knowingly and actively participated in deceiving them regarding Zorro’s lameness.

He did a prepurchase exam. The sellers gave the horse five injections just three days before the prepurchase, and this was never disclosed to Selleck. And people still think he’s a whiny rich actor who should have… what, exactly?

When I traded in my used car, I had to fill out a form documenting every last thing that I knew of that was wrong with it. Yet in the horse world, we scream “buyer beware!” and place no burden on the seller to disclose or sell honestly.

Of course, everyone who is up in arms about Selleck’s award says “If Backyard Suzie had tried to sue, she never would have won.” You know, maybe not. There’s a question of available time and money. There may be a question of bias in the legal system.

But you know what? Backyard Suzie has a hell of a better chance of winning a similar lawsuit now that Tom Selleck’s case is there for precedent. And no, Backyard Suzie is probably not going to be awarded $187,000 because she will not have spent that much money in the first place. Again, that was only damages, not penalties.

What I love about this case is the precedent. I haven’t been able to find the actual judgment anywhere, but if the case went forward on the basis reported in the article I linked to—that the sellers actively deceived Selleck—that is a huge jump forward for buyers everywhere. This court case does not (from what I can see) absolve the buyer of all responsibility. Absolutely, the buyer should still do a prepurchase. Absolutely, the veterinarian needs to do a thorough job. Absolutely, if a seller has never xrayed a horse and does not know about arthritis in the hock, and the buyer does not xray on the prepurchase, the seller should not be liable for any sort of “loss of use” associated with the arthritis. But if the seller knows Snookem has a hock problem and actively deceives the buyer and veterinarian during the prepurchase? The seller should be liable.

I’m not saying seller should be responsible for assessing the ability of the rider and guaranteeing X horse will do what Y rider wants, necessarily (think how much a horse’s personality can change in a new environment, with new handlers and a new routine…). I don’t think this court case is saying that, either. What I get from this is that the seller cannot knowingly deceive the buyer. That’s awesome. That should be common sense. And now there’s legal precedent.

I am seriously, seriously amazed at the rancor horse people have about this judgment because an actor brought the case to court. Dismissing the legal implications of this case because of who won it is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. This is significant, in very positive ways.

Added to this are Florida’s continuing refinement of its sales disclosure laws (you’ve heard of them, right? If not, here’s a good overview) and the improvement of inspections and increased citing of violations in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, which is the application of existing federal laws.

Honestly, we shouldn’t have to have laws that say “the seller should disclose known health information to buyers” or “you are responsible for your own safety,” but I would much rather see these laws going down in the books than not having them there at all.

Tagged: Horse Sale Ads, Horses

I don’t think I can do this anymore

11 September 2009 Comments

The interwebz, I mean, not riding.

Maybe it’s because I had teachers who would flay me alive if I jumped to conclusions without evidence. Maybe it’s because those same professors would not let me use any source whose authority could not be verified. Maybe it’s all that time spent studying Classics and poetry, which hounded rhetoric into my brain. Maybe it’s the way newspapers have all turned into little more than veneered tabloids, written to tell people exactly what they want to hear.

Maybe I have never recovered from the Freshman Comp student who tried to turn a research paper in to me… citing the Onion in three different places. In all seriousness. I thought it was a joke until her mother called me.

Maybe I am a stuck up academic snob.

Whatever it is, the current levels of mass hysteria in horse circles are climbing beyond the point where I can maintain my own sanity.

Do people not verify information? Do they not read between the lines in the newspaper and look for the facts behind whatever spin the reporter is using?

Do they not understand that emotional language does not equal facts?

Sorry, there is nothing funny here. I am exhausted by the emotion-based hysteria and the number of people swallowing stuff they read without taking a moment to verify facts. I am tired of watching stories make the rounds around the web, gaining nothing but hyperbole as they go.

I’d just like to see a fact or two surface and some reasoned discussion of said facts.

Hell, at this point, I’d take the Onion.

Tagged: Horses, Interwebz

Derailed: What is it with cats and laundry baskets?

7 September 2009 Comments

I was going to write a post about how in the past week I’ve had three lessons on three different horses at three different levels of training. In each lesson, we worked on shoulder in. I’m trying to organize my thoughts on what I learned, what carried over from lesson to lesson, what had to be adjusted for each horse, etc.

Then I came home and found my fourteen-year-old cat in my laundry basket.

My laundry basket, you should know, is one of those tall wicker ones. Not a little plastic tub. And because I sometimes do housework, and this week was one of those “sometimes,” the basket was empty except for a sheet.

To be fair, there was a stool next to the basket. It’s entirely possible that Pookie jumped on the stool and was able to look in the basket and see the sheet.

However, this is the cat who won’t jump up on the bed unless I put a box next to it as an intermediary step. And she hates jumping off things ten times more than she hates jumping on them.

I found it entirely implausible that she would think jumping up over the rim of the basket and dropping down three feet was a fun thing to do. I was seriously considering how in the world the other cat had gotten Pookie in the basket.

Imagine you showed up at the barn and your horse was standing on the barn roof. It’s that odd.

As soon as she saw me, she sat up and purred like crazy, so I fished her out and put her on the bed. Then I went to take a shower.

When I got out, I threw my dirty clothes in the hamper, on top of the sheet… and Pookie.

The little sneak jumped back in there.

I think Onyx has been cleared of complicity at this point, although I noticed she never came out to help me find Pookie. Lassie might have been happy to tell the world Timmy was stuck in the well, but Onyx is apparently going to let Pookie starve to death.

The shoulder in post will come… sometime this week. Meanwhile, it sounds like I need to go rescue Pookie again and find some way to close off the hamper so she can’t get back in there.

Tagged: Cats, Cats - Onyx, Cats - Pookie

Recent Comments

Carlos on How to make a ribbon quilt (22 June 2017).

Log Buyers Of America on Looking for a Hand? (Product Giveaway!) (19 May 2017).

mechanics in St joseph mo on Looking for a Hand? (Product Giveaway!) (19 May 2017).

nice people on Looking for a Hand? (Product Giveaway!) (12 April 2017).

hemorroides normales on Looking for a Hand? (Product Giveaway!) (1 April 2017).


Maintenance Note

Previous blog comments are currently not displaying due to some data migration issues.

New blog comments can be added and will show up as expected.

Old blog comments will be fixed when I have time.