Blog .:. November 2010 6 Entries

A Moment of Brilliance

25 November 2010 Comments

I love technology.

Mostly, I love to break things. I am a fantastic software tester, because I do things that no user in their right mind would ever do and invariably break the application. Anyone who has worked software support knows there is no such thing as “things no user in their right mind would ever do,” which is why I am an awesome tester. Actually, anyone who has worked support knows there is no such thing as a user in their right mind, which is how the ATT guy and I got to spend yesterday trading euphemisms for user error issues. Hardware, software—people run afoul of the ID-10T error everywhere.

I digress. I break things—that’s what you need to know. I break software, I run computers into the ground, and I have a box of 1,000 cords whose electronic counterparts are landfill in half a dozen countries. I would throw away the cords, too, but I am afraid some of them may be relevant to still-working electronic counterparts that I have in the house. The cords come with me, a sort of tangled testament to my love—and abuse—of gadgets.

Despite my ability to break things, I have never put any stock in extended warranties. If I buy one, I don’t break the gadget until after it expires. If I happen to break the gadget during the extended warranty period, the company refuses to honor it. Ever want to see me fly into a frothing rage? Ask me about Circuit City. I celebrated the day I heard they went bankrupt. What a bunch of crooks.

Back to the point.

In my box of 1,000 cords, I have a wall charger for my Kindle. My Kindle, sadly, is interred in a landfill somewhere. It was a tragic scene - I dropped it, and then slammed it against a table leg while trying to keep it from falling. I murdered it twice over.

That lost, lonely cord haunted me, but it took me a while to replace the Kindle. First I had to mourn Plastic Logic’s decision to scrap the Que and go straight to a second-generation product. Then I had to waffle about the evils of Amazon vs. the stupidity of all other eBook readers for a while. But I finally gave in and bought a Kindle DX, which has arrived. This time, I even bought the two-year extended warranty, which will ensure I will get 49 months’ use out of this Kindle before I break it.

I have been spending all my free time downloading free books and browsing through them. And playing with the Kindle, to see what happens if. So far I haven’t broken the Kindle, but I did manage to break the software I downloaded to manage my books on my computer. I am awesome like that.

One nice trend I have been seeing lately is that authors—particularly ones with many books published—will sometimes offer a free book to get people hooked. This is useful, and I’ve picked up a few here and there—I feel justified in picking up a free eBook if I already own 9 or 10 of the author’s books in print, and I appreciate the chance to sample an author or two whose name I recognize but whose cover and blurb (I am a shallow, shallow shopper) never convinced me to spend money on their books.

I am reading one of the latter books right now. I am 22% of the way through (so says the Kindle, and who’s to argue with an algorithm?) and am still not sure if I want to be reading this book, so it’s probably just as well that I didn’t pay money for it. I would stop reading it, but the next book on my list is War and Peace, and I’d rather save that for the holidays, when it will be fitting.

But as I was reading the equivalent of a luke-warm bath, one character said “thrall” and another thought “slave.”

And I had a moment of brilliance. Or perhaps a moment of “duh.” It’s hard to tell the difference, sometimes.

Thrall: someone in service to a feudal lord. In reality, not very far at all from a slave. Enthralled: to put someone in the state of being a thrall. Thus, to captivate or enslave someone.

For a moment, I basked in my own brilliance. All those times I used enthralled, I thought, and I never really thought about its etymology. It makes perfect sense!

And then I realized I never use “enthralled,” and neither do the people I know, and my revelation has as much practical application as a fireplace popcorn popper. Amusing to trot out at parties, perhaps, but difficult to justify when standing around the water cooler at work.

Nevertheless, I can add “enthralled” to my literary junk-drawer—a hodge-podge collection of ideas of no real use to anyone, anywhere, ever, but kept around in case they become useful sometime. And you never know—maybe I will need this in the future.

After all, I’ve already had to dig through my box of 1,000 spare cords to find my old Kindle charging cord, since my new Kindle charging cord is at the office. For once, my hoarding laziness pack-rat mentality thriftiness paid off—you never know when it could again.

Tagged: Books & Reading, Computers & Gadgets, Leo Tolstoy, Living in the Digital Age, War and Peace by Tolstoy

In which Ro gets spunky

20 November 2010 Comments

My inner hunter princess may be under attack from a nascent dressage queen.

I’ve been riding Ro in a Wintec bridle. It fits her, but my inner hunter princess nearly died of embarrassment when I rode in the clinic last month with it. Not that a single person commented on it. It’s just, you know, the whole idea of it. It’s like nails on chalkboards for me. For schooling, sure. For shows and clinics, absolutely not.

So I was determined to buy a leather bridle before the schooling show, if only to give myself an excuse to go shopping.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a black bridle with a thin noseband and hook and stud ends? I mean, really. What the hell is wrong in dressage fashion land? All the bridles look like someone is trying to imitate the Nazgul horses form Lord of the Rings, with as much padding and metal do-dads on them as they can possibly get. It’s awful. I’d rather use the Wintec.

However, after much searching and debating and wondering just how hard it would be to dye a hunter-style bridle black, I finally came across a rolled black bridle in cob size.

And here my inner hunter princess had a moment of existential crisis: when the choices are a Wintec, a Nazgul bridle, or rolled leather, just what do you choose?

And my nascent inner dressage queen knocked out my momentarily-paralyzed inner hunter princess and ordered the rolled bridle.

It’s going to look a heck of a lot better on Ro than a Nazgul bridle, and it’s leather. I’m still bemused that there is a dressage queen in me somewhere. Who knew?

Fast forward to today. The bridle arrived. I took it out to the barn.

Ro took one look at the bridle and went and hid in her run. Brilliant—if her stall is empty, she must be gone! I might as well go home and give it all up as a lost cause, right?

But what I know and what Ro forgets is that she has the patience of a gnat. After twenty seconds, she peeked in to see if I was buying it. When she realized I wasn’t, she came over to see if the bridle might actually be a cookie.

I put it on and discovered what “cob size” actually means: Arab-sized cheek pieces, horse-sized noseband, and pony-sized throat latch. Really? What sort of Frankenstein horses are bridle makers using as their models, anyway?

Despite the odd sizing, it’ll work well enough for now.

I took it off, and Ro nearly dropped dead with shock when she realized she wasn’t going to have to go work tonight. While she ate her dinner, I conditioned the bridle to help get rid of that new bridle stiffness.

As soon as Ro realized stuff was being put on the tack locker—which is right in front of her stall and in easy reach—she stopped eating to check things out. The next thing I knew, she was running off to her run again—with the browband in her mouth.

I went and retrieved it and put her bridle back together. Either she approves of the bridle and wants to keep it for herself, or she hates it and wants to bury it where no one will ever find it again. Or my leather conditioner is tasty.

As I was wiping the dirt off the browband, she snuck behind me and tried to steal the noseband.

I’m guessing the conditioner is tasty.

The alternative—that Ro is somehow connected to the Tweedle Mob—is truly frightening.

Tagged: Cats, Cats - Jasper, Cats - Sebastian, Cats - Tweedles, Horses - Ro, J R R Tolkien, Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, Shopping, Tack & Equipment

It’s never a good sign…

14 November 2010 Comments

... when you walk into the barn and everyone comes running over to tell you your horse is nuts.

That was Wednesday. Apparently, the idea that her pasture mate could be fed and turned out while she was left inside blew the Princess’s little mind. Our ride that night ended up being a lot of cantering around and blowing off steam, but I think it’s good for them to have a mental break and just get to go sometimes, so that was ok. She wasn’t bad—just forward.

Then today I walked into the barn and the barn owner asked if I was riding. When I said yes, she laughed and said “Good luck with that.” Ro’s idea of a good time is trying out a crow hop or two, so I was a little concerned when a barrel racer who takes on young and spoiled horses to train found her behavior in the paddock that morning a little… exuberant. It’s like hearing the sheep are plotting war.

And, of course, this was the first lesson with my instructor since the clinic, and I have been raving non stop about what a super star Ro was in the clinic. I put Ro on the lunge line to see what I had—was there a brain in there? Was I going to be trying to pass off her antics as airs above ground?

As it turned out, there was nothing to worry about. I think Ro has figured out the difference between work and play time, because she was all business.

The lesson ended up being just fabulous. She was going along just as fabulously as she did in the clinic. We also worked on canter departs, because it was clear to me after the clinic that we’ve been muddying through those on a wing and a prayer. We identified a couple issues—one being that I’m trying to make my aids too subtle for where she is, so I need to be stronger and more definite. When I do that, she’s great and picks up the lead I want. And good lord—her transitions are fabulous when we’re both together and on the ball.

I’m very, very pleased. We’re planning on a schooling show in December—the October one was nixed because of budget issues with the new saddle purchase. But it’s just as well—she’ll be that much more prepared by December. I’m also a little hopeful that I’ll be so concerned about giving her a good experience her first time out that my show nerves won’t be an issue. I think it’ll help that the score will be a total non-issue next to goals like “stay in the ring” and “don’t spook on top of the judge.”

Tagged: Horse Shows, Horses, Horses - Ro, Riding, Riding - Lessons, Sheep

The Things You See on Highways

14 November 2010 Comments

Yesterday, I found $4.86 in the washer after doing a load of clothes. Since I never carry cash, this is something of a miracle. Where did this $4.86 come from, and what does it signify?

In case it signifies better things to come, I spent the day window shopping for trucks, trailers, and multi-million dollar facilities. In the event that random change keeps showing up in my washing machine, I want to be prepared. It’s important to figure out what I will buy with my new-found wealth.

There are, of course, many ways to window shop. Visiting dealerships. Browsing the web. Driving on the highways and ogling everyone else’s trucks. And trailers.

Or trailer.

Specifically, a one-horse trailer that looked like something I would put together.

For people who have not been following the blog for any length of time, that was not a compliment. My mechanical abilities are… lacking. Entirely. Spectacularly. Electric drills confuse me, and it goes downhill from there.

I’m not sure how to describe this.

Imagine someone led a horse onto a piece of plywood and cobbled together some solid metal walls that went up about as far as the horse’s chest. Now imagine they realized they would need a roof, so they added some posts at the corners and added stock trailer-ish slats on the two long sides. Then they added a gate behind and tarped the top. With canvas. Who needs a waterproof roof, anyway?

If you’ve been paying attention, you realize the horse’s head and neck are currently having over a chest-high wall with nothing containing it. That’s ok—the trailer owner caught that, too. And built a box around the head and neck. And added a second tarp over the head and neck box.

I can only assume they didn’t want to waste the metal that would be required to make the trailer longer overall or something, so they just built it around the horse, in the shape of the horse. But don’t worry—the horse had at least 6” on any side of him to move around, and that’s plenty, right?

Then the trailer builder put the whole contraption on a single axle, hitched it up, and headed down the road.

The horse was a whole lot calmer than I would have been riding in that thing. Or else it was afraid to move and risk knocking off one of the walls.

I don’t have photos of the actual trailer, but it generally looked something like this.

Only it wasn’t quite so classy or solid looking.

Actually, I should have flagged down the driver. It was probably worth about $4.86.

Tagged: Bad Decisions, Cars & Trucks, Horses, Trailering

Back to Work (or not)

8 November 2010 Comments

Ro is healthy and is easing back into work.

I went from feeling great at lunch to feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck, so I suspect I am succumbing to a cold or flu or something equally unpleasant.

Oh, winter, how I hate you.

But perhaps the best moment of the past week:

Ro’s attitude had perked up and she was showing interest in food again. Actually, she was showing quite a lot of interest—in molasses.

I’d prepped her food and put it on the locker outside her stall while I ran to the car to get the molasses.

When I came back, Ro was peering intently over the stall wall at something just beyond the tack locker. Her ears were locked forward and she was practically quivering, she was so intent.

Turns out, she’d knocked the bucket of food over.

She stared at the spilled food, looked at me, stared at the spilled food. Looked at me. Stared at the food.

I put the empty bucket back on the locker. Too close to her, as it turned out—she shoved her nose in it, and, when she discovered it was empty, shoved it off the locker.

Stared at the spilled food. Looked at me. Stared at the spilled food.

It’s times like those that I really, really wish I knew what they were thinking.

Just what did she think the food was going to do?!

Tagged: Horses - Ro, Injury & Illness

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