Sunday, November 29, 2009

Worst in Show?

So, they recently had a big dog show and this year decided some sort of terrier was the best. And by best, they mean best represents the guidelines that a bunch of breeders got together and decided would be the new goal. Then they practiced "line breeding" (which would be termed "incest" if we were talking about people) until they distorted the dog enough to match the imaginary standard.

There are other championships, of course, and some of them (eg, sheep herding) actually test the dogs' athletics, intelligence, and disposition. Those dogs are amazing.

Unfortunately I don't know any of those dogs.

However, I do know a dog whom I'd like to nominate for "Worst Farm Dog Ever". Meet Mackie.

Mackie isn't my dog, thank god. He lives out in Oakdale with all of the polo horses.

Here are his qualifications:
  • Guarding: Mackie loves everyone, especially if they have food. A total stranger could walk in, steal everything in the tack room, and walk out again and Mackie wouldn't even notice. The only time Mackie ever barks is when Reba (who actually is a good farm dog) barks at people coming onto the property. Then Mackie runs over and barks at Reba.
  • Herding: Mackie loves to herd the horses. Unfortunately, he always herds them away from the people trying to catch them. This gets really old when you're on foot chasing horses around on a thirty acre pasture. The horses constantly aim kicks at Mackie and there are times I wish they would connect.
  • Protecting: One of Mackie's favorite pastimes is herding the newly-hatched chicks around. This drives the mother hen crazy. For a while everyone thought that Mackie was keeping the chicks from being eaten by the hawks -- then Mike caught Mackie killing one of the chicks. Somehow a few of the chicks in every group survive to adulthood. Amazing.
For all his faults Mackie's still a pretty nice dog. He's just useless as a farm dog. Oh well. At least he's neutered.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Quintessential American Holiday

So, today I
  • played polo (a game invented in Iran)
  • on an Argentinian Thoroughbred
  • while wearing boots from Pakistan
  • and swinging a mallet made in New Zealand.
Then I drove home
  • in my Honda Civic
  • and made French onion soup
  • with cheese aged in a cave in Switzerland
  • while drinking cider imported from England.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Hope you enjoyed the day as much as I did.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


It had to happen eventually.

After a thirty year span, I fell off a horse again yesterday.

We were at the back of the pack when someone hit the ball backward. The horse in front of us turned, and my horse panicked and went sideways about three feet. I failed to make the lateral transition with him and ended up in the dirt. (As a side note: yes, this horse was spooked by another horse. I begin to see why he is no longer playing professional polo.)

In retrospect, it might have been wiser to find out the horse’s name before I got on. In this case, it turned out to be “Ono” or “Oh No!”. No matter how you spell it, that’s not a good name.

As falls go, it wasn’t bad. I landed on my side, but I didn’t get trampled, and I didn’t even get the wind knocked out of me. My hip is turning purple, my left shoulder is a bit off, and I have an odd lump on one shin, but the biggest bruise was to my pride.

As I climbed back to my feet, Ono had his head up and tail straight out as he did a victory lap around the entire arena.

Cocky bastard.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Many Faces of Evil (Part One)

I'm not sure who the first person was who thought "Hey, let's take these nasty, inedible, messy berries and store them in salt and Drain-o for a while. Maybe they'll be non-toxic and tastier then!" However it happened, now there's half an aisle in the grocery store taken up by this crap. And just try to get a vegetarian pizza without olives. I dare you.

The addition of bleu cheese is just icing on the yucky fondant of the stale olive cake. All it needs for the perfect evil trifecta is garlic, and BevMo was out of that flavor. Whitey G checked.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Can You Hear The Pixels Screaming?

The number of the day is 68.

In addition to being the last two digits of my birth year, sixty-eight is also the number of pictures I took (again with the nice camera) while randomly choosing different modes. I'm sure the buttons are supposed to be chosen in a careful, responsible manner, but that's not really what I do. Which might explain how almost all the pictures were worse than the last batch. I even managed to get a completely black picture, which isn't easy with a digital camera.

I think perhaps my next career choice should not be photographer, unless of course I win the lottery in the meantime. And if that happens I can afford to pay someone to take better pictures for me.

As threatened, a few cat pictures.

"Get a life"

Scooter is not amused


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Getting Tanked

So... you know that saying about how it's better to sit in silence and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt?

This post is kind of like that except with me and photography skills.

I borrowed a nice camera from the official unpaid intern of Cece Marie (a site I highly recommend if you are looking for a hostess apron, and I'm not just saying that because the official unpaid intern is my boss) so I could yet again take terrible pictures of my tank.

First I took a bunch and realized why everyone else takes pictures of their reef tanks in a darkened room. For those of you in my own clueless bracket -- taking pictures of something on the other side of glass in daylight gives some great reflections of the person taking the pictures.

Seventy pictures total. Really. Here are the best five.

First, the obligatory full tank shot with full lighting:
Yeah, it's not really in focus in the front, but that was the best of a bad bunch.

Next up, the same thing with just actinic lights on:

Next, a shot that doesn't really show much of the coral, but does show a couple of different types of macroalgae. I think the macroalgae are some of the coolest things in the tank.

Next up, the Duncan, which is growing two new heads (neither of which can be seen in this photo, of course...). There's also a Blastomussa in the background on the other side of the tank:

And finally, the "they're so easy to keep that most people don't even bother" corals which are my favorites:

Honestly, I think most of the improvement came from using a tripod. I may keep the camera another night and try again tomorrow with lighting changes.

Or maybe I'll just take a few hundred pictures of my cats. You've been warned.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Polo Chronicles, Continued

Now that the temperatures have dropped from hellish to chilly, I've gone back to playing polo most weekends. My riding has improved enough over the last year that I've gone from beginner to intermediate status, which means that I can usually stay on the horse as long as it doesn't do anything stupid, like spin, leap forward, or run backwards.

However, the pool of available horses in Oakdale is constantly changing as Mike wheels and deals and tries to find homes for the horses of retirement age. This means that I can never figure out which horse is safe for me to ride, and I have to rely on people who know the string better.

Here is an actual conversation I had with Mike and Shauna yesterday. I had gone over to grab my helmet after tacking up the horse...

Shauna: Who are you riding this chukker?

Me: Starlight.

(Both Mike and Shauna stop moving for a moment.)

Shauna: Who told you to ride Starlight?

Me: Heeder.

Shauna: He told you to ride Starlight? Really?

Mike: What did you do to make him mad at you? Are you standing in the way of his promotion at work?

Me: So... you think I shouldn't ride Starlight?

Mike: Oh, no. You'll be fine.

With friends like these, who needs enemies? Anyhow, I rode Starlight and it all went well. Or, at least, I didn't fall off. I count that as a win.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Senility Now!

When I was about nine years old, I wrote a series of first person mysteries which prominently featured the phrase "and then I, the great detective, ..." before some lengthy piece of exposition multiple times in each story.

Sadly, all those stories have been lost to humanity, and my writing style has changed*, but I work with someone who reminds me of this type of storytelling almost every day. He insists upon giving the blow-by-blow of all his bug fixes, including false starts and unnecessary detours. If he's really proud of his work, or especially perplexed, you get to hear the same story as he goes from cubicle to cubicle, telling it to everyone. All the non-computer geek people are probably thinking how boring it would be to listen to someone give a monologue about coding, but trust me, it's boring even for the computer people.

Some (okay, most) days I don't have a lot of patience for this sort of thing.

Anyhow, I do try to be somewhat polite. Jeff used to chant George's mantra "Serenity now" every once in a while. That didn't help.

My mom has a necklace which has a little silver ball that makes a nice little tinkling sound. It was originally called a serenity ball, but somewhere along the line she referred to it as a "senility" ball, and that's the name that stuck.

So, now you know. If you happen to pass my cubicle at the right time, you may hear the cry "Senility now!"

Because let's be honest, at least I have a shot at senility someday...

* (Now my fiction is mostly written in third person.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's My Party, I Can Sleep If I Want To

Things to do on your 41st birthday:
  • Wake up at 7am, but only because the cats haven't caught on to the idea of a time change.
  • Go back to bed after feeding said cats. And the dog. And the birds.
  • Wake up to your phone ringing a few times. Ignore it.
  • Wake up because someone is knocking on the door. Find out that Ponch (aka "Hot" of "Hot & Hotter") is on the porch asking if today would be a good day to fix the hole in the overhang.
  • Make up some lame-ass excuse to explain the fact that it's 1:30 in the afternoon and you've obviously just woken up.
  • Do the dishes.
  • Eat some leftover Halloween candy.
  • Read.
  • Make pumpkin curry. Meh. Maybe it wasn't very good because of the three ingredients that weren't at the store. Or maybe it just wasn't a great recipe.
  • Read twenty variations of "Happy Birthday" written on your Facebook wall.
  • Read some more.
  • Bake the pumpkin seeds with cinnamon, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. Decide that you like plain salt better.
  • Continue reading.
  • Consider going back to bed.
Yep, another pretty exciting day.