Thursday, April 30, 2009


Well, it looks like our match this weekend is going to be rained out since we're supposed to get two inches of rain in the next twenty-four hours. Rain in May in Northern California. Weird.

It's probably a good thing since it will allow us to learn things like, oh, hitting the ball on the other side of the horse without falling off, and passing the ball to a teammate instead of randomly hitting the ball and cheering because we didn't hit the dirt with the mallet again.

Still, it's a bit disappointing.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Which goal is ours?

Well, if anyone is looking for gut-splitting entertainment next Saturday, come join us for our first ever polo match in Yuba City. Or should that be "polo match". See, the initial idea was to have our beginners play against the beginners at Yuba, but for safety reasons, we're now just going to play against our own team members.

I can only imagine that the safety reasons involved are either a) riding ability, or b) knowledge of the rules. Since our group doesn't contain any really stellar riders and I can't imagine any group of people knowing any less about the rules of polo, I imagine that means we would have had our butts kicked all day long.

As Mike put it while watching us practice: "You do realize you're playing a tournament next week, don't you?"

Anyhow, it ought to be entertaining for everyone involved as long as I don't get thrown and trampled.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


So the stable in Walnut Creek has a big problem. Roughly a big dump trunk sized problem. And that problem is a big old pile of... manure. Literally.

See, the hay comes in, and then the hay goes out, but in between it is transformed into some prime poop. And while hay is expensive, it turns out that you have to pay someone a whole lot of money to haul away horse manure. Or, if you can't afford that, you just keep dumping it in the arena where it composts nicely but makes very soft footing that is really hard to hit a polo ball on.

Meanwhile homeowners like me have to go to Home Depot to buy plastic wrapped manure to put in the garden. This seems a little silly.

If I were an enterprising person I would be the middleman here and make manure-loads of money. But I'm just too lazy. So instead, I entertain myself by coming up with an imaginary advertisements for my imaginary money-making business:


Straight from the horse's a$$! (And the mules' too!)

Well-composted, shovel-ready manure available. No amount too large.

Fertilize your plants from the poop of polo champions!

From road apples to red apples!

Soft enough to land on when the horse throws you, yet gentle enough to throw around your plants.


Anyhow, if anyone in the Walnut Creek area needs some lovely fertilizer, I know where you can get some. Cheap.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lessons from the Large Animal Crowd

Although it would be flat-out malpractice if I were to treat a cow, theoretically I am allowed to treat large animals (or at least, I would be if I paid the fee to get my state license). The state doesn't make a distinction between large and small animal vets, and I actually did take most of the equine and food animal medicine classes because... well, why not?

The food animal people were probably the most laid back in the entire school. My theory is that it is because they didn't have to deal with quite as many crazy clients. In my experience, the crazy client scale runs approximately as follows (from truly whacked out down to people you might actually want to know):

1) Rabbit owners
1) Horse owners (it's a tie)
2) Bird owners
3) Small exotic mammal owners (guinea pig, hamster, etc)
4) Dog & cat owners
5) Pet farm animal owners (If you want to hear complaining, tell someone that their precious Priscilla the pig will be accommodated out in the large animal barn, not indoors in the small animal clinic...)
6) Reptile owners
942) Food animal owners

As you can see, despite having to deal with the occasional blocked pet goat and pot belly pig that needed surgery to remove a peach pit, the large animal people got to hang out with fairly normal people on the whole. (Please note that there was a separate service for horses and camelids. And boy were they unhappy about having to treat the camelids...)

It wasn't that the large animal clients only cared about the dollar value of their animals -- some of these tough guys came in and authorized care for far more than they were ever going to see in return. But the large animal clients had a much more realistic view of life, and if something died, well, they thanked you for your efforts and moved on with life.

Anyhow, the food animal classes were fun mostly because the people teaching them liked to tell stories. And they had some good stories -- like the time one of them exposed the entire junior class to a rabid donkey and everyone had to go get vaccinated. And how one had met his future wife in freshman anatomy over their dead anatomy horse. Who says romance is dead?

They also had some practical tips that you didn't get in any other class. Here are a few:

1) When leaving the farm, don't run over the dog.
2) Always park your truck facing out (so you can leave in a hurry if you need to).
3) If you're new to the area, listen to what the farmer tells you is wrong. He'll often be right, and you won't look like an idiot.

Anyhow, if you ever want to hang out with a good bunch of people, travel with a large animal vet. You can talk to all of the great people while your vet friend is pregnancy-checking (yes, via rectal palpation) a whole string of cows.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Only Sports Metaphor I'll Probably Ever Use Here

It's Thursday night, I'm tired, I had a good time at dinner with Rvan and Christina, so I'm punting.

Here's more Dan & Dan:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Random Thoughts Continued

- Some church just unveiled their new Jesus statue made of Legos. (Story here) That sounds almost as classy as the family nativity barns that were made from random Lego bits for years. At least they didn't add a gun to the Jesus statue. (Yes, that joke is for Jeff and Liam.)

- This guy is just amazingly talented. Possibly he could be curing cancer or solving world hunger instead of making videos, but whatever... How do you do stuff like this?

- Dustin Pedroia, some baseball player who comes from Woodland and whose family still owns a business here, called my fair city "a dump" in an interview, and then followed it by "and you can quote me on that." Well, Dustin, they did quote you on that. Now he's backpedaling and saying he didn't mean it that way. What way exactly did you mean it, Dustin? That it's only a dump when you're here? Please enlighten us all.

- Mr. Pedroia has apparently been taking diplomacy lessons from Billy Bob Thornton who, while touring with his band in Canada, said that Canadian audiences were like "mashed potatoes with no gravy". He cancelled his tour after the "mashed potatoes" began booing and heckling him. Oh, sorry, he cancelled his tour because of the flu. Right. The bigger issue here is the slander of mashed potatoes. What's wrong with you, Billy Bob? (Okay, aside from the obvious, that you're completely nuts...) Mashed potatoes are a wonderous food.

- On a related note, is baseball the most boring sport conceivable, or is there something else out there that would make you want to take a nap faster? I guess watching a bunch of overweight guys wearing tights spit tobacco and scratch themselves may be riveting entertainment for some people, but not me. At least with football they admit it's boring and plan sideline entertainment.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

More Tales of Midnight

One Friday night, in walked four giggling college freshmen and their big, goofy lab who was even goofier than normal because she had recently eaten a gigantic pot brownie (along with the plastic wrap covering it). I knew this because this group had the sense to call ahead, but even if they hadn't, it would have been fairly obvious since the dog was a little wobbly and kept burping up a potent mixture of weed and chocolate.

Slightly complicating the initial interview was the police officer who walked in with them. The girls had gotten lost on the way and had to ask directions. The officer was nice enough to escort them in to make sure they ended up in the right building. Then he just hung around.

Also complicating the initial interview was the fact that the girls were baked. (Further proof that they'd been partaking -- they'd left the lab in the room alone with a brownie out on the coffee table...) Just finding out who actually owned the dog took a good five minutes.

Now, I knew what was going on. And I knew the officer knew what was going on, even if he didn't really care. But I felt that spelling things out might force him to officially notice what was going on. This led to the following oblique conversation:

"Okay, so there are two possible toxicities that we might be dealing with here, right? There isn't really enough chocolate in a whole plate of brownies to cause a problem for a dog this size. The other substance " (long pause while we all looked at each other) " is probably not a big deal either, but it can cause some temporary side effects so I usually recommend making the dog vomit. Are we sure that's all she got into?"

Fifteen minutes and a little apomorphine later, the entire ICU smelled like Maui Wowie and Pillsbury's finest. (Then we had to stop the dog from eating it all over again.)

After that we ordered pizza.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Rules of Engagement

Okay, I know the last few times I tried to explain the rules to arena polo (Note From a Natural Athlete, Pollo Polo)*, I was a bit vague. I still don't have a good grasp on the finer points, but the following guide might help if you are new to the game.

Rule #1:
The only thing you're allowed to hit with the mallet is the ball. Tempting as it may be to mete out a little instantaneous justice when fouled by your own teammate for the fifth time in five minutes, it's not actually legal to haul off and whack said player with your mallet. At least not on purpose. If anyone else is watching.

Rule #2: Your goal is always the one on the opposite side of the arena from where you start. So if you line up on the left side of the line, your goal is on the right side. And it will stay on the right side the entire time. It doesn't actually change during the chukker. Hint: if people are yelling that you're going the wrong way, it's time to re-evaluate your strategy.

Rule #3: You're not allowed to swear. Really. It's in the rules. I actually saw someone penalized for this in a game.

Rule #4: You're not allowed to violate the right of way. This rule would be better if it didn't take the next three pages of the rulebook to describe who has the right of way. However, if five of the six people in the arena are heading towards the ball from one direction, and you're heading towards it at a ninety degree angle, it's fairly safe to assume that you do not have the right of way. If you continue on your course, your teammates may be tempted to violate rules one and three.

Rule #5: If you wear spurs, they must have rowels. No, I don't know why. I don't usually wear spurs, which contributed to Midge running backwards away from the ball during my last chukker. I may have to rethink the not-wearing-spurs plan.

Okay, so yeah, I need to work on my grasp of the rules a little bit. I'll keep you updated.

* Hah, did you see what I did there? I put in links, just like a real blogger!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Par Lez Voos?

In general, I think my parents did a pretty bang up job of raising us kids. (Please note, just because I said that, I haven't given up my right to blame my parents for everything that is wrong with me.)

I mean, they raised six kids, none of us have been in jail (as far as I know), and now that K-poo has a job again, we're all gainfully employed. Granted, their standards got more relaxed as the years went by, and Karen just skated through childhood to the extent that she didn't know how to weed when she stayed here, but like I said, we all turned out more or less okay.

However, I have one big bone to pick with my parents -- their willful mispronunciation of all French words.

It turns out that the damned elephant isn't called "BA-bar", he's called "Buh-BAR". He could leave the Louvre (and don't think I'm not grateful that I don't remember how that word was mangled) and people could say "Buh-bye Buh-BAR".

One of our favorite pastimes was playing the classic French road rage game, "Milly Bornz". Yes, three distinct syllables, with a sibilant ending, not to be confused with one of my mother's relatives. "Mille Bornes" was full of words to butcher, although I do believe we pronounced "coup ferre" somewhat correctly. Maybe not, though.

As a result of this anti-Gallic upbringing, I have been forced to avoid many odd foods for fear of having to order them out loud. I am limited to picking red or white wine, and a coup d'etat would have to be reported by somebody else.

Anyways, all I have to say is this: you'll have to pardon my French.