Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Mermaid or Whale?

I didn't write this, and when it arrived in my inbox it was anon, but I thought it was worth sharing. (albeit I do question why the "French city" ad was in English but what can ya do eh?)

Anyways -- enjoy!

Recently, in a large French city, a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said:

A middle aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.

To Whom It May Concern:
Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans). They have an active sex life, they get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia, the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia. Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.

Mermaids don't exist. If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human? They don't have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them not to mention how could they have sex? Therefore they don't have kids either. Not to mention who wants to get close to a girl who's skin is all scaly and smells like a fish store? The choice is perfectly clear to me... I want to be a whale.

P.S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my grandkids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver and a latte with my friends. With time, we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room, it distributes out to the rest of our bodies. So we aren't heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy. Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think, "Good gosh, look how smart I am"!

“You haven't lost your smile at all, it's right under your nose. You just forgot it was there.”

Ever wonder how another person sees the same events you do? Well I do -- regularly :) hahaha and at Cedar Run I realized that while Nicole and I were living the same event, we were having very different experiences of it - and knowing how well she can write, I've asked her to contribute to the blog! hahaha so for the first "guest post" ever on Here There Be Dragons, see below. And *my* take of the same day is directly below that. hahaha but yeah I've always found it interesting to try and find out how other people see things. It's amazing what a difference the focus can make - things they'll vividly recall that I didn't even notice and vise versa.

For those of you who dread calling tech-support, our resident IT expert sent out this excellent tech-support site. Will save multiple hours on the phone w/ India if you use it first:

I am so unbelievably sore today. Wrenched my neck @ CR on Sun (silly baby move -- Si found something to shy away from, complete non-issue except it crunched my spine). Rode anyways of course. Perfectly fine on Monday, Tuesday all good till the very end of the night just as I finished teaching I turned wrong and *ouch*. Tues night there was no sleep cause every time I fell asleep I woke up hurting. N worse couldn't move :( Had to literally use my hands to roll my head over so I could change position. That whole "the human head weighs 8 pounds" thing is not so good when the neck muscles fail :( booo. Today I can move but it just hurts. All day. Not so bad as to cause any problems, just obnoxious. No fun at all. Ugh ok end of rant.

Was teaching a lesson the other night in a school environment. Reasonably good young rider, ready to put her horse on the bit but of course no idea how to do so or what's involved (barn is primarily *shudder* hunter or up/down -- I'm the only one who teaches dressage or xc, much to the amusement of my students :) -- so I get on horse to see if *he* knows what's involved. Yes, yes he does -- but in the 5 mins I was on him you should've seen the audience that gathered... General commentary was "we've never seen him do *that*" before!" which, given that he clearly knew what was expected w/ only a minor reminder is kinda sad. But I hop off and put student back up and sure enough w/in 5 mins or so she has him beautifully through, has a new appreciation for how much leg is involved, and a huge grin on her face "this is FUN!" hahaha and later confided to me that she really didn't want to ride that horse and had been going to ask for a change but was now really happy about it. hahaha and those moments are the reason I teach. Sooooo good to see that lightbulb turn on :) Now the interesting part will be seeing what happens *next* week.

I'll tell ya w/ the weather being what it is, I need more of those moments. Constant rain is really starting to get to me! If I were ok w/ this, I'd be living in Vancouver. Whole point of putting up w/ winter here is supposed to be amazing summer! Sheesh. Mother Nature's clearly not holding up her end of the deal. N could you have a talk w/ her please? >;-P N judging by people's status messages on FB, the rest of the world is starting to feel the same. Did find it somewhat disconcerting listening to them reporting about the drought in the States though. Could we split it? Send them half our rain and take half their sunshine? Please?

Vacation in less than 2 wks. Not that I'm counting down or anything >;-P

So when even the pro photographers are teasing about the size of the grin on my face when I'm running XC is that a good sign or should I be concerned? You'd think the novelty would've worn off by now eh? hahaha Andrew got a great head-on shot of Si and I running through the grass @ CR and it's pretty clear that both of us are having a great time (yes I ordered it -- for now it's here: if you're interested :)

Walking in search of lunch this afternoon and there was a group of people emptying the garbage. 6 or 7 people all w/ rubber gloves on and armed w/ collections of garbage bags and brooms were going from bin to bin emptying the city garbages and keeping each other entertained (that whole many hands thing). So when I was speaking to the shop-keeper, it turns out they're from the local half-way house. Was making a huge and instantly noticeable difference to the walk though. I was pretty impressed anyways.

Ok so that's enough disconnected babble for now. Have a good one :)

I'm A Groom; It's What I Do - Nicole Zemsta

Laur's note:
Cedar Run was a blast, but pretty early in the day I realized how very different my day was from Nicole's -- so I asked if she'd be interested in being a guest author for the blog :) hahaha she sent me this w/ permission to edit as I saw fit, but I asked for her view so her view is being provided in full -- even the parts that clearly demonstrate my incompetent side! hahaha I haven't laughed so hard as I did reading this in a long time... Well except maybe when we were *actually* there. Maybe you had to be there? I don't know - you tell me!


I'm A Groom; It's What I Do

A saying, a mantra, a code of conduct, but mostly just the answer to the question Why? Why did you get up before the night should be over (I AM in university, mind you) to spend all day standing with a horse that is not yours to not compete in a show that you could have ridden in yourself? Why were you able to remember the little things the rider didn't but should be able to remember, like putting fly spray on the horse? Why do you so patiently oblige my horse as she recruits you on her quest to find the perfect patch of clover? Why were you able to take all those pictures at the right time/angle and still be waiting for me when I finished the course to take my horse from me as we walk back to the trailers? Why were you able to make the rainbow transform into a burger and make the rain stop long enough for the windshield wipers to get their temper tantrum under control and us to get our "Super" dinner back to the beast?

I'm a groom and really that's just what I do. Although that last one is only able to occur with a magical combination of no sleep, a long day, and an empty stomach :P

Every eventer knows the general itinerary of a horse show. Firstly, arrive (sometimes stupid early) and get your package to learn your identity for the day. But did you know that the freshness of grass changes throughout the day, and the moment you arrive on site is the moment to assess every bloody blade within the vacinity of the trailer? Well your horse does, and so does the faithful groom attached to her at this point.

Of the many titles that are encompassed by "SuperGroom": groom, show mom, photographer, afternoon entertainer (for both rider AND horse :P) I would say that 'Official Time Keeper' is one of the most important. The start times for Necessary Torture, Thank God It Doesn't Have to Look Pretty, and Why We Event At All (aka Dressage, Stadium and XC) are all memorized and a good groom will have an eye for the approximate amount time before the start time the horse should begin to be tacked up, to allow enough time for the rider to get herself ready, as well as any emergency bathroom breaks or detours around the scary invisible monsters on the way to the warm-up ring.
Cedar Peaks with Sienna and Lauren (note the proper etiquette to address the horse first ;) ) was a brilliant HT day as always. I was more than happy to take lots of pictures, film a dressage test, set fences in warm-up, walk a course for a "Footing Update", and baby-sit Miss Si in-between phases. Why was Laur happy when she finished XC? Well because she had a brilliant run. How did I know before she told me? It may have something to do with me being able to hear "Good Girl!!" from ACROSS the field :P Super proud of my "little sister" and her superstar pony, it was a good competition for all...

That ended at noon. But wait, didn't we leave after 4pm? Ah yes... well in keeping theme with past posts, the short version goes something like this: rain-no rain-rain-no rain, socializing photo shoots, awake naps, Murray, an unlucky war, windshield wipers with attitude, a fat burger-shaped rainbow, and something about me being responsible for everything. Hmm... that doesn't make much sense, does it? Yeah well neither does the long version so brace yourself.

The weather was having issues with mood swings all day. Once the sun decided it was ok to wake up the morning was actually quite pleasant. Somewhere inbetween dressage and stadium, however, dark clouds started creeping and like any person who has to be outside all day should, I glared at them menacingly and gave them the best "Don't Even Think About It" face I could manage. Which apparently made them upset as they started to cry :-/ oops. Rain splattered glasses and a quick apology later, we made our peace for the time being and the sun came back to join the party.

You know what one of the best parts of having a groom to watch your horse is? The ability to get other things done while they go off galavanting. You know what one of the best parts about going off galavanting with the horse you're grooming? The ability to go back to the rider after she's finished what she needed to do and say, "Guess what you just missed out on!" :-). I've never been approached by so many random people nor had my picture taken so many times by people I don't know before in one afternoon. Is anyone surprised that Superstar Princess Pony is a social diva? From "What's her background? How old is she?" to "What do you call that colour?" to "Can I take my picture with her?" to "Goo! Goo! Gah!" (Oh ya, Si made friends with a baby! :D Now while *I* would not be a fan of being poked and proded, Si didn't seem to mind the strande affection she was receiving from this tiny blue-eyed bundle of joy who was oh-so-happy to meet her) we met lots of new people.

With thunderstorms looming in every direction we decided to stay close to Murray. Who's Murray? Well that would be the newest addition to our beloved family of "Uhh....What?" people, creatures, technology, and other various inanimate objects. At some point throughout the day the trailer found itself a McDonald's nametag: MurrayK. If ever I doubted that our inanimate objects try to tell us things, my sincerest apologies Murray. So now with the nametag pinned to some random wire hanging in the trailer (isn't that just a picture perfect safety image?) forever more will the Beast be towing Murray.

A couple hours later and STILL waiting for ribbons to be distributed, Sienna and I are assessing the grass situation once again. No longer in the rush of the show and therefore ready for a serious nap, I thank Si for not only being perfect resting height, but also liking me enough to allow me to lean pretty much on top of her while she grazes (sorry Laur, her and I have a connection like that apparently :P) Unfortunately the weather got cranky again and Laur arrived in time to get Si on the trailer. So NOW what do we do? Play cards of course!! Right! *palm to forhead* Duh!.... Uh wait a minute? You keep a deck of cards in your tack box? You see folks, while a normal and fully rested person might be skeptical at this random activity in the back of a horse trailer, I, with little rest and mostly because I've been friends with Laur for so long, instead smile, sit down on the dry side of my wooden block, and ask what we're playing. War: a game based solely on luck, requiring no skill nor strategy whatsoever = perfect. *Warning*: While playing a game based only on luck, any rules you make-up in trying to benefit yourself will inevitably back-fire and cause you to lose.

What's that? The ribbons are ready? I'd give them a standing ovation for their efficiency were my legs not tired from standing around *waiting* all freakin' day :P Anyways we're finally off and the only thing on the mind is the stomach that won't shut up, "feed me...feed me NOW" Did you know that when the weather is having a happy moment it makes a really pretty rainbow? Did you also know that when hungry your stomach doesn't care, and if you look hard enough that rainbow strangely resembles a burger? Hmm, interesting how that works...

I managed to make the rain stop long enough for us to get our food back to the beast without getting drenched... What? That tired and that hungry, for all I know I DID do that, along with negotiating the windshield wipers and various other perfectly reasonable and realistic events. Don't look at me like that, it's not my fault YOU didn't do it. It's really not hard, trust me when I say it's as if you don't have to do anything at all ;P

All in all it was a good day, a long and interesting day, but good. Yes, first and foremost I am there to help, that's what I'm supposed to be there for, but often small details are overlooked in my "supergroom assisstance". I feel it necessary to state that job or not, I thoroughly enjoy helping Lauren out, and I always have a lot of fun, not to mention the day is always filled with tons of laughter. But hey, I'm a groom; it's what I do :-)

I did that!

Upgraded Sienna to Entry level @ Cedar Run on Sunday. Short version: it was a great day, and it’s all about XC :) Long version… Read on:

I learned something at the show the other day... SuperGroom who's been coming w/ me for years, is evidently a minor deity. She's been holding out on me! But today she was responsible for everything from friendly courses, to turning the rain on and off at appropriate moments, to convincing the windshield wipers to co-operate! Pretty much any random thing and the response was "oh yeah, I did that." Completely flat, serious statement of fact. hahaha hey after an hour's sleep, these things are really funny. And well you should take credit for a job well done! Even if it wasn't necessarily you who did the job >;-P I'm pretty sure it's in The Rules as "take credit for flukes" :) she just took applying it to a whole new level! Now if only we could apply rule 1 as well or as consistently...

Alright so those of you who whine about getting up at the crack of dawn??? Well Nicole, Sienna and I were envying you yesterday! We'd already been up and going for several hours by the time dawn cracked (and we have pics to prove it! Soon :). With a 3:45 load time, my alarm clock went off @ 2:45. Yes that's am. There were groups of uni age types outside who were still up. There was a time, not so long ago, I would've been one of them :) After the reasonably long hike to Thornbury we were the first to arrive on site at about 6:20 (I was aiming for 6:30 so not bad :) I was beyond nervous about this one. I pretty well never get nervous about HTs so this was not a sensation I immediately recognized and once I did I was thoroughly *not* amused. I mean seriously it's ENTRY people -- we're a long way from the Olympics *g*

hahaha fortunately for me the nerves disappeared whenever I was actually ON the horse. Just made the in-between-phases time slightly less fun. On the plus side, I actually got to apply all the things I tell my students n it turns out they work *g* hahaha but what really works best for me is either socializing (who's surprised by this?) or finding someone more nervous than I and talking them out of it :) hahaha Neither of which are tips I generally give other people. *g*

Was a several minute hack over to dressage w/u which was good for Miss Sienna who got a chance to chill on the walk over. Have to admit it was good when a second horse got to w/u to keep her company though! Dr was on grass, which Si's never done before (how strange is that?!?! I run into the most unusual things trying to train an eventer out of a hunter barn -- never would that one have occurred to me till I was doing it). But being a superstar pony she really didn't care. She was NOT a big fan of the giant snakes (ummm those'd be hoses to the rest of us) that were beside the dr ring, but fortunately she got to meet them before the judge rang the bell so it was all good. Our test, while not competitive, was significantly better than the last one we did (admittedly that wouldn't take much, but still -- baby steps!) and it got much better as we went along so that's always a good sign. Judges comments were fair and appropriate to the level.

Stadium ring was HUGE -- they were only using half of it and it was *still* huge. hahaha Like riding on a putting green -- only issue is that as on a putting green, after several days of torrential rain, it had a squishy factor to it and was very slippery. Sienna was actually ok w/ it even w/o corks, but that could be cause we were in early. The attrition rate later in the afternoon due to slipping was pretty brutal.

Anyways, we were the first to go in our division, but they were alternating juniors w/ seniors/open so I was actually 2nd in the ring. In w/u at one point it was just the jr rider and I and her coach cranked the fences a hole or two beyond competition height. Now you have to understand at this point Sienna had never technically jumped competition height intentionally so I was slightly concerned about the first jump on course (*very* poor decision to bring a horse who wasn't ready, and I was fully prepared to scratch her if it was too much, but I know she can jump and she had already schooled the E cross so figured I'd decide then. Hadn't planned on her having a couple wks off right before the show!). Anyways -- girl's coach puts fences up so I figure let's try it and see. Well I'll tell ya, apparently Sienna was just waiting for something interesting to jump. Perfect form, in stride, confident, couldn't've been better. I was thrilled. So by this point the w/u oxer has grown significantly too. Ah why not? hahaha Si rounds the corner, picks it up, and just went for it. Again entirely focused, perfect form, no hesitation, beautiful. Make the world of her and I swear she did the equine version of shrugging her shoulders "yeah? And...?" So the TD shows up at this point and returns the w/u fences to their legal height *g* hahaha First rider goes in the ring and I jump Si over the now very friendly sized fence just so she has "this is easy" in mind when we go in the ring.

And in we go... Course was a totally fair E level course. Some of it seemed big -- but this would be cause we're used to PE *g* Only 3 of the fences were maxed and the only "scary" fence was very small and friendly. A *lot* of oxers though. Definitely did a double take when I saw that -- but really, you ride what's in front of you. No point stressing about it. hahaha 1st fence was good -- picture shows us an extra foot over it. hahaha and who's surprised by this? This will be a prob if she's still overjumping everything like that when we get to prelim! 2nd fence no problem. Rounded the corner to the 3rd and she focused on 4 (which was 6 strides passed 3). Stopped at 3 while looking @ 4. Cleared 3 on the 2nd try and then stopped at 4 for real. *sigh* Tried 4 again - this time proving she can jump maxed E at a trot. hahaha Flew over 5 which was a bit of an issue as it was a bending line, but we made it w/ a bit of assistance from Mr Crop and sheer determination ("I want to go XC! We can't go XC if we get eliminated. Therefore you WILL jump this on the first try"). 7 was a huge (well Entry huge :) oxer but directly towards home so really it rode like a speed bump hahaha and 8 was the "scary castle" which of course Sienna couldn't care less about so we were all good. It was a ride and a half getting her around that course, but since, unlike @ Checkmate, I was actually involved and riding properly this time we pulled it off. Even w/ the stops I was thrilled.

Go walk XC -- now you may remember, the primary reason for upgrading here was because she had jumped the course already right? Yeah -- of all the fences on course, she had jumped 2. And one was in a different location -- as we all know, if you move the jump that makes it a NEW jump. hahaha On the plus side, by this point pony was a little tired. On the down side, by this point pony was a little tired. hahaha tired pony is more sane but also more nappy. Mr. Crop was again brought into the discussion when she started to suck back about 3 strides out of the first fence -- and that was all the reminder necessary. The rest of the course -- I swear it could've been a hunter round. Perfect entry pace (for the non-eventers out there this'd be a reasonably strong canter) -- kept her rhythm all the way around. Got to every fence but one perfectly in stride and she forgave me for that one (there was a twitch of hesitation at the next, but nothing tragic). I certainly had to ride every fence and most of the strides in-between *g*, but it was still way way better than I could ever have dreamed. Have never had a baby XC run go so well before. The course itself -- mostly random logs as one would expect. A few brush fences, a stone wall, etc. AND there was optional water on the course -- was very happy about that. Of course we opted in and Sienna went through no problem. Ended up clear and on time. Wow. I was, and still am, absolutely thrilled. As far as fitness goes -- well she's a TB. hahaha respiration and pulse were back to normal w/in about a minute. She was *very* tired though. Basically spent the afternoon sleeping :) This, however, could also be because I woke her up at 3:00 in the morning! hahaha

So after XC we took care of Sienna and then took care of us (Nicole finally got to change the rubber boots for sunscreen -- ummm doesn't *that* make for an image and a half that's just way more fun if I don't explain) and we had some lunch (which was either really good or I was *really* hungry). At this point the adrenaline was wearing off and I was fading fast. Did not feel up to driving home, so N took Sienna off to watch some stadium and I curled up in the beast for a nap. hahaha great system. Didn't sleep for long, but the whole 20 min cat nap thing helped a ton. Felt way more alive after that!

Go look at scores "we'll be ready in about half an hour" -- ok, worth waiting half an hour or so so go find Nicole and Sienna -- who had apparently been making friends w/ everybody on the property *g* I understand why everybody was drawn to Zelli -- she was simply gorgeous. But what is it about my totally typical Chestnut TB mare that attracts them? I have no idea -- but she is a suck and loves the attention so it's all good. Then we watched the very scary rain clouds coming in and decided to retreat to the safety of the trailer. N hung out w/ Si while I went to see if they were ready for ribbons yet... Nope not so much-- but I noticed an odd thing -- my score for stad was 12 (discounting the mountain of time faults). Having not been near a rail, and only 2 stops I didn't understand how this had happened. So I went on a quest to find the TD (who I know reasonably well) and spent quite a while chatting w/ other random people while I was looking for her. She wasn't sure at first either but she told me she'd find out for me -- and then the rain hit. So she went off to do TD things and I went off to rescue Nicole who was stuck in the rain w/ my pony. Of course *this* is the time Sienna decides she is *not* getting on the trailer. Booo. But a girl from the next trailer over offered the aid of a bucket of treats (I love eventers -- always help each other out) and sure enough that did the trick. So w/ Sienna and Nicole safe and dry I went back to the secretary's area. TD was back there talking to somebody else but as soon as she saw me she waved me over -- had taken the time to look up what was going on. Turns out that since the rule had changed to 2nd stop your out in T and above, the 2nd stop in the low levels is now 8 faults instead of 4. I was completely oblivious to this -- when they brought the 2 stop rule in I was in T so cared more about that and I guess somehow missed the other detail. OTOH, she had to look it up too so I don't feel so bad :) Clearly not too many people question it though. Really appreciated that she took the time to answer my question though -- esp as it'd make no difference in standing (and I told her that) and she was of course busy. All this being said, they still weren't showing any sign of giving out ribbons so I went back to the trailer to hang out w/ Nicole and SuperPony.

So what do you do when it's raining and you have to kill time? Pull out the deck of cards! hahaha Yes I have a deck of cards in my show box. Made some comment about them having been there since I was in HS, to which N commented on the rather clean condition of them... Well yeah -- I started teaching @ 16 and haven't had time to sit down at a show since! This is an entirely new concept for me. And if Stephy had gotten in I wouldn't've been playing cards then either! hahaha anyways Sienna was on one side of the trailer, so Nicole and I pulled up our chairs (read trailer stops) around our card table (read mounting stool) and tried to figure out what to play. Keep in mind we'd both been up since ridiculously early on next to no sleep. End result was War. hahaha game of complete luck that requires no skill whatsoever (well except to stop Nicole from stealing my cards!!!) Haven't had that much fun on such a silly game in a very very long time. Esp as N kept making up new rules that continuously backfired on her. hahaha Sienna just looked at us like we were insane. She may have been right. Anyways the Hundred Years War eventually came to an end (bet that's not the way you remember reading about in school!) and I went off to see what the status on prizes was. They *still* weren't ready, but were much closer, and by this point I was determined to get my pretty ribbon, so I went and visited w/ Kellie for a bit (hanging out in the control booth is always entertaining :) until I heard the "ready to announce E results" comment and off I went. Only had one person try to recruit me to jump judge while I was there. hahaha ummmm no sorry... Not today *g*

Approximately 3h after my division finished XC, I finally got my pretty white ribbon and various prizes and could go home. Stopped for food on the way (wasn't nearly as good as lunch!) and was fine for the drive home till I dropped Nicole off. From there to the barn was brutal. Clearly she was keeping me awake! Unloaded and wrapped and parked trailer all in a fog and headed home... To discover no hot water! Argh. hahaha quick trip to a friend's house to borrow her shower and then home to sleeeeeeeppppp.

It was a LONG day but that 4min and 17sec XC run made it all worth it. hmmmm come to think of it, it's probably best if we don't put it in perspective like that. >;-P Gotta love eventers.

oh and ps -- the trailer's name is now Murray. But that's another story . . .

We are born with two ears and one mouth, so use them proportionately.

Overheard the 2 ears and 1 mouth point today and really liked it so thought I'd share. The other one I overheard once a long time ago that has always stuck w/ me is "are you listening to me or waiting for your turn to talk?" Listen, listen more than you speak, and listen actively, and be amazed at what you learn.

Speaking of listening -- @ work today the person in charge of music was playing a decade an hour. hahaha the 30s/40s were awfully dull (we were all falling asleep). The 50s kind of half and half, and the rest of the day was just amusing as we went through "music I remember as a child" "memories of high-school/uni" "wow I haven't heard that in forever" <-- of the song that was played to death a handful of years ago, to current time. Amused me anyways -- and it seemed everybody else in the office.

Line of the day "tell your quads to shut up!" from lesson this morn. hahaha the quads of course being the brute muscle of the legs -- apparently mine were trying to take all the work from the various other muscles. hahaha "get out of the way, I've got it!" Bullies everywhere! The point was entirely valid and things went well once I figured out how to apply the concept but I definitely got a good laugh out of that image. Will be interesting to see if the abs are toasted tomorrow -- tis the first time in a very long time I've been sore *during* a lesson! hahaha of course I didn't acknowledge that at the time, but I can admit it now :)

So two interesting discussions in said lesson about 20 mins apart. The first was about the futility of aiming for perfection. "You're human. You can't be perfect, and if you try you're going to fail. If instead, you try to be just a little better than your best, you'll always keep improving." Ok so that's incredibly paraphrased as the actual discussion was very convoluted and I like this version much better. hahaha but tis the basic point. And a valid one. (it's amazing how much easier it is to help my students through sport psych than to apply it to myself!) So ok I can go w/ that. And we left it and moved on to other "good but not perfect" things. And then we get to jumping. "You can't make a mistake." hahaha excellent. And how does not making any mistakes differ from perfection? Sheesh. The mistake in this case is being in the wrong place w/ my body -- and by wrong I mean a fraction of an inch. "She's too small and too sensitive to allow that; lots of others will, anything bigger won't notice or care about the movement and anything less sensitive will ignore it. But she reacts to everything you do." On the plus side -- if I can learn to ride her successfully *knowing* that this is the case, it should improve my jumping significantly. The trick is, of course, to do so before she decides she doesn't like jumping! Although the way she was flying around the other day she certainly seemed to be enjoying herself. Looking for random fences to jump even when we were only doing flat. hahaha

On a different note -- ever wanted to be a model? You may be one already! Even if you never wanted to! Facebook has given permission to 3rd party advertisers to use YOUR photos in THEIR ads. Cute eh? To turn off this option:

Click on SETTINGS up where you see the log out link.
Select the tab that reads FACE BOOK ADS.
There is a drop down box, select NO ONE.
Save your changes.

My friend Vince comments on this in his blog as well: Which I'm sharing mostly cause the image he has to go along w/ it made me laugh.

So I have a 7:45 dressage ride time on Sunday. In Thornbury. Where? You ask... Yeah drive to Collingwood and keep going for another half-hour. "Oh 7:45's not *that* early" -- yeah that comes only from the uninitiated into horse shows. Ride time @ 7:45, means on horse by 7. Means on property by 6:30 (and *that* I can only get away with cause I'll have SuperGroom w/ me - aka Nicole :), means leave by 4:00 (and that's pushing it but I'm counting on a lack of traffic :), means load @ 3:45, means be at the barn to feed horse by 3:15. Means leaving my house shortly before 3am. Ugh. So I have a brilliant idea -- I have an acquaintance w/ a farm in Thornbury -- I'll call and get permission to leave my horse there overnight and go up on Sat. Call and she's kewl w/ this. All set right? Collingwood's a tourist town, should be no problem finding somewhere for N and I to stay. Yeah apparently it's the Elvis Festival this weekend. *THE* Elvis festival at that. Every room in every hotel, motel and B&B that's under $250/night is booked. NOT amused. So we're back to me getting up @ 2:30am on Sun morning. Sheesh. Not many years ago that'd mean just don't go to bed! hahaha I'm getting OLD!

At work we have an "all out of list" list in the kitchen that has a typical pre-printed list of items and a few blank lines. Well today when I glanced at the list it had all the usual stuff: coffee, milk, tp, etc but then the first two blank lines included: Time and Excuses. hahaha now really -- I have trouble believing anybody creative enough to work at this office is ever likely to run out of excuses, but it still amused me :)

Off for now :) Have a great wknd!

“In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.” - Nietzsche

I came across this post which caught my eye mostly cause of the subject line (above) n then I enjoyed it so I figured I'd share. Enjoy!

Batman for a day – and forever -- by Tim Cork

Thirteen years ago, on Halloween, I took my kids to school dressed as Batman. I was a big hit at their school, not only with my own children but also with their friends and even their teachers. After I dropped them off, I went speeding off to work in my Batmobile – my black BMW. Speeding is the right word. My adrenaline was pumping and I didn’t realize just how fast I was driving. A minute later, a policeman pulled me over.

As he got out of his car and started walking toward the Batmobile, he caught sight of how I was dressed. A little smile flickered across his face as he asked me to roll down the window.

“Where are you going, Batman?” he asked.

“Gotham City,” I said.

“Very funny,” he replied, and then told me that I had been speeding and he was going to have to ticket me.

“Officer,” I said, “I just dropped my kids off at school and everyone was so excited by how I was dressed, I guess I kind of got caught up in the moment.”

The officer said he had two young kids himself. I could tell I had connected with him. Then he said, “Take off the mask.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that,” I said. “I cannot reveal my identity.”

“A ticket will be coming your way if you don’t oblige.”

I held my ground, and, fortunately, he relented. Fun and humour saved the day.

I wore the Batman suit into my office and walked around for a while before going to my office. People got a big kick out of trying to guess who was behind the mask.

That evening I got back into the costume and went trick-or-treating with my kids. They really enjoyed their dad being part of the action. When we arrived home I climbed on the roof and spread my wings in the moonlight, creating quite the scene for the entire neighbourhood.

I tell this story to point out that you must have fun in life. Smile, laugh and enjoy every day! Never take yourself too seriously. No one else is! Take what you do seriously though. When you take yourself too seriously you are in danger or crossing over from self-confidence to arrogance. There is no room in this world for arrogant people. What are you thoughts??

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
– Theodor Geisl (Dr. Seuss)

Using the blog to sway elections -- that's what the internet's for right? :)

So my friend Lissa is trying to win a "popular pet" contest so that her dog can be the spokesdog for an Aussi brand of parasite protection (ok so might not be *my* first job choice but to each their own eh?) Anyways, she's at the top of her area, but not quite the top of the state, so I thought I'd post the link to help her out. Go here: and vote! And if you have time/inclination flip through her photos and vote for them too! And if you're really bored, post me a note here or FB to let me know you did :)

Cheers :)

If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.

So it's the day after the day after and I am *sore*. Can honestly say I never realized trampolining (for that's def what it was) was such a good upper-body workout! hahaha But yeah arms/chest/shoulder muscles all feeling it today. Abs a little bit but not nearly as much as after a solid dressage lesson *g*

Grumpy mood today. Don't know if it's cause it's grey outside or what but really finding myself short on patience. Which of course heightens the stupidity of the behavior of those around me *sigh* Although Friday afternoon may be responsible for that as well. Ah well - weekend tomorrow!

So my lovely little TB who's been off for a week was a little ummmm explosive when I rode her yesterday *g* Apparently she spent that week learning how to be a normal chestnut OTTB mare. hahaha and while I appreciate that she's feeling significantly better, I *really* would like the breaks and steering put back where I left them! And would kinda prefer to only jump obstacles that *both* of us can see! hahaha was concerned that she was running off adrenaline and wasn't really ok but when I went to see her this morn her legs were still cool, she still moved sound, n oh yeah -- still high as a kite. Sheesh. Hacking this wknd could be entertaining -- pedestrians watch out!

Is it just me or is it amusing that one of the first things on CanadaPost's website is "taking steps to support mental health". hahaha came across that today n just had to share :)

Walking down the street in search of lunch today and gotta admit, Toronto is starting to reek. Ugh. Is making for some interesting photo ops though -- this one someone else created amused me:

I have been amused by Pepsi's latest ad campaign. While I really dislike Pepsi (says she who cannot function w/o her Coke! hahaha definitely took several cases to the States w/ me since theirs just isn't right!) their current advertising really catches my eye -- some of it's quite inventive. And says something for the power of their logo that that's all that's seen -- the name's not on the ads (@ least not in big print :)

Supposed to go XC tomorrow. So of course it's supposed to rain. Classic eh? Sheesh >;-P

You know you're spending entirely too much time on Facebook when you find yourself thinking in status messages! hahaha not that *I* would do that of course! Never :) But seriously ever do that? -- hear a line in a song or some random crazy part of a conversation and think "that'd make a great status message!"? Occurs to me along w/ "gotta remember that next time I can't think of anything to write in the blog". N then I think of just how sad that really is and it makes me laugh. Ah well - normal's boring >;-P I still think a pyscho-analysis of FB messages could be entertaining (if not actually particularly useful :). Maybe that can be my PHD thesis!

Happy birthday to me!!!

Yesterday was my bday. Short (6 word!) story summaries:
- Getting older; pretending to be younger.
- lots of fun had by all!
- Bday: animals, movie, trampoline, games, dinner!

N really, that last one covers just about all of it... But if you want a *little* more detail...

Still reading? Don't you know better by now? hahaha ok then -- long version...:

So last year was a fairly depressing bday so this year instead of lamenting getting older, I figured I'd celebrate being young :) Very young. hahaha arguably significantly younger than the calendar dates would suggest... Booked the day off work with my main goal for the day being to sleep in :) There had also been discussion of visiting a water park for the day *g*

Anyways -- did end up setting the alarm just-in-case cause didn't really want to sleep *all* day, but for a much more civilized 9 instead of 5:30. Was very very nice. N then when I wandered bleary-eyed into the washroom I found a bday card waiting for me. Yeah! hahaha Thanks Mum :) Great start to the day. Puttered around for a while and made a dozen or so phone calls and chatted on FB for a bit (thanks for all the bday wishes!!!). Eventually travel downstairs and find . . . birthday cake!!! hahaha single-sized Deep N Delicious (my fav :) with a bday candle! Awwwww totally made my morning. And yes, I definitely had cake for breakfast. There was also a funky "the year you were born" dvd that I haven't watched yet but looks pretty entertaining :) Look at the mail and . . . another bday card! hahaha woohoo. Thanks Barb :) That one will be shared w/ Sienna *g*

So in the dozen or so phone calls were several trying to decide what to do w/ today. Nicole and Steph both had the day off to come play (boooo P for not joining us!) but the waterpark was unanimously vetoed for being too cold (booo should *not* be an issue mid-July)! So no waterpark; no Canada's Wonderland due to the fact that neither S nor I have any particular love for rollercoasters; what's left? Various ideas were thrown out -- there's the science centre (shot down on the basis of everybody I know who's been in the last few years has been very disappointed), playing tourist in TO (could make for some entertaining pics, but too close to work for both S and I! :), the tree-top walk in Collingwood (this looked really good and we tried to get in but they were fully booked. Turned out being one of those "thank Howard for unanswered prayers" moments as we since heard it's not particularly good, I'm going to the better one in Halliburton in Aug, AND we had WAY more fun w/ what we did end up w/). Let's see, what other options were there? Fighting zillions of kids to see Harry Potter (vetoed cause I don't like kids >;-P), going to play tourist in Niagara (this one almost won - we could've had some fun in a haunted house but most of the fun stuff there is indoors and it was a decent day), the zoo (nope, I was really disappointed in it the last time I was there), go karts, the ROM (too grown-up), paintball (N really like that idea, but S and I wimped out :), then S hit on the African Lion Safari. hahaha perfect!

I, however, was still stuck on the Harry Potter idea -- particularly excited when I realized it's playing in the VIP theatre (no kids!). So I booked us tickets, but the system crashed while it was booking. Booo. We went anyways but by the time we got there it was sold out. Really? Does *nobody* work??? Ah well, not tragic, off to the Af-ri-can-Li-on-Sa-far-ie! (Can you hear the commercial now? hahaha you're welcome :) We got there just in time to watch the elephants go swimming -- the dog-paddling (elephant-paddling?) baby was by far the most entertaining. Pile into the vehicle to head out on safari... Past the rather ominous "trespassers will be eaten!" warning and away we go. We obeyed the "doors closed and locked" rule the whole way around, and the "windows closed" rule *most* of the way *g* hahaha prob would've been better if S had warned me that particular window sometimes gets stuck open BEFORE I opened it, but what can ya do eh? The first time I've ever applied the statement "I hate windows!" to an actual window *g*

So ostriches (and any giant bird really) generally terrify me, but safe behind the glass it was very kewl to see super up-close (as she was trying to join us IN the vehicle). hahaha pecking @ the glass - presumably picking some form of food off of it. And then was highly entertained by me poking at the window back at her (and it's only a *her* due to the eyelashes -- no male could have a face like that! hahaha) so she followed my finger around the screen for a while but when I stopped playing to take some pics, she got bored and left. I did get some phenomenal pictures though. Wow.

Drove by the lions lounging on their rocks (windows up there too!). Loved that the male lion was hanging out w/ his paws over the edge just the way Red does -- although poor Red is *maybe* the size of one of the paws! hahaha There was a safari employee hanging out by the lions in a truck -- have to figure his job is entirely to make sure nobody's enough of an idiot to try and pat the cats! There was another one at the cheetahs -- but this one wasn't even pretending to be paying attention to what the tourists were doing. Ah well, guess it's not the most mentally challenging job...

On through various animals -- some of which we could identify, some of which we couldn't; some of which would come play with the cars, some of which couldn't be bothered :) Possibly the most entertaining part was the running "did you know" commentary from S. hahaha this was brilliant not only cause she came up w/ the *most* obscure facts you could imagine (and knowing my love of trivia you can imagine what this includes :) BUT that of the three of us she's the one who's never technically *seen* any of these animals in person before. I don't know how you get through public school with never going to a zoo, but somehow she pulled it off. We did what we could to remedy that today *g* The drive through the monkey zone was highly entertaining :) What I wouldn't give for a fraction of their energy!!! Watched one tear a strip off the top of a van (oops) and a whole bunch hitching rides in pickup trucks. At the end of monkey world there was another staff member w/ a very long stick whose job was clearly to make sure there were no monkey escapees! hahaha Really interesting to watch some of the family groups though -- can see how Jane Goodall et al could spend so many years watching them.

Continued the safari past the man-eating trees! Very very scary items barely contained by a serious fence! The "safarius janitorius" was also behind a pretty serious fence -- they were hard to get good pics of as they had a tendency to be slouching behind their brooms. hahaha last thing on the drive was to be stopped by the herd of bison crossing the road (some of you will remember the traffic-jam causing cows in VT??? Well this was the way more impressive version!)

We briefly considered both elephant rides and pony rides, but there was a height limit for pony rides (boo) and the elephant rides didn't seem worth the price of admission. That and I have visions of said elephants going on strike and I just don't want to be on the day that happens! And I rode one as a child so no need again. Feel much the same about riding camels (albeit I was an adult when I tried that). Anyways -- after a very healthy lunch (read french fries and sno cones) and a slight detour through the gift shop (yeah blue bubble frog!!! I mean really, what's a bday w/o a blue bubble frog???) we headed back and decided to try the theatre again. Harry Potter had already started its second playing of the day in the VIP lounge so we (sticking w/ the kid motif) went for Ice Age 3 -- in 3D! hahaha woohoo :) So as far as the movie goes -- it was ok, a few good one-liners "Pick up Syd now and *then* Roger!" hahaha but really nowhere near as good as the first one. That being said, I haven't seen a 3D movie since I was 8 yrs old @ Disney World -- complete w/ red and blue glasses... That experience, what I recall of it anyways, was more about things popping out at you. This one was more like watching a stage performance than a movie. There's depth to it (kinda had the same feel as those 3D pictures from the early 90s that when you stared at them the right way an image would pop out -- remember those? Now picture a whole movie like that :) but very much a front-of-the-stage/back-of-the-stage idea instead of things flying at you. There were some things that were definitely "in front of the stage" such as the snowflakes and some of the credits, and the very occasional movement of a character, but for the most part it was like watching a stage play w/ really great scenery! hahaha Don't know enough about the technology to know if it can be applied to real people? I've only see it for cartoons... Would make for a way better overall experience though :)

So after the 3D fun and games we were all ready to go play again -- and where better to go play than . . . Pladium!!! hahaha yeah haven't been there in many many years either and haven't had so much fun in a very long time. First thing was the go karts :) Highly amused that you need a driver's license for them *g* But then we couldn't use the fast ones cause the track was wet (we got there just as it stopped drizzling)... booo but still took a lap in the slower ones hahaha. We admired the mini-put course but really, it was quite boring and there were no water obstacles or castles, so why bother? But then we found . . . the trampoline! hahaha now I haven't been on any sort of trampoline since I was a child, and I've never been on one w/ a harness before! I will say getting on a scale after having chocolate cake for breakfast and french fries for lunch, was not much fun but such is life *g* Anyways - S was less interested in playing this game so she got nominated to be camera person while N and I played. I got hooked up first and was off bouncing while N was still getting set up. OMG I have not laughed so hard or so long in . . . well possibly ever. N those of you who've seen me after day two of a horse show will know that's saying something *g* Seriously, would've been very embarrassing except that I was having too much fun to care. The sideline comment was something about "it's like she's being tickled to death." hahaha but really the up-up-up part is a blast, and then there's that moment's hesitation of "oops this was a *really* bad idea" and then you're down so fast you laugh cause you survived and then you're going back up again. Rinse and repeat. N was braver than I -- she caught up in seconds n while I was still getting used to the whole up-down idea, she'd moved on to flips! hahaha I had to try it -- mostly cause she'd done it ("if your friends jumped off a bridge . . . " <-- and there we have how bungee jumping was invented! :) And I did it :) And I survived -- laughing the whole way *g* But I suspect it wasn't nearly as graceful as hers were. hahaha if you ever decide eventing's getting boring N I think we found your next sport! And really, the warning signs for this one were significantly more intense than anything we sign to gallop across a field @ solid obstacles!

Inside was just as entertaining -- I learned that while I fly and evade well, I can't shoot to save my life (or anybody else's!), race cars w/ less than 5 gears are a waste of time, I have not the *slightest* idea how to waterski, but ironically was ok w/ a surfboard (nowhere near as good as S though!). I STILL love air-hockey. I've never understood why, but I can play that game endlessly :) Except it becomes a full contact sport when S joins in and that's a whole lot less good *g* It's great though cause playing w/ N I could take a break and she'd just play all on her own until eventually she'd score on herself. Really makes my job easier :) The one series of race cars I think had to have been rigged -- N took the first one (Red), I took the 2nd one (blue) and S took the 3rd one (cause pink was way too far away to be sociable :)... And w/o fail we'd end 1, 2, 3... N always says that's why she picked red as her colour - I'm starting to think there's something to it! hahaha cause I certainly end up w/ more than my fair share of 2nds! Played some DDR, and watched some kids play who clearly have waaayyy too much time -- was very impressive to watch though. And I guess if you're going to dedicate that much time to learning to play a video game, just as well it be one that requires significant coordination and reasonable physical ability. Played some Japanese guitar hero -- and failed miserably *g* Evidently you have to strum the guitar not just push the buttons. Oops *g* Pinball gets boring very rapidly (sorry Dad). And truck racing has to be the most boring game ever invented.

After a few hours of play we had exhausted the video game supply and it was dark so the outside things were shut down for the night (although go karts in the dark might actually've been more fun -- methinks the lack of speed wouldn't've been such an issue! :) so we left to go find food @ Jack Asstor's. Very yummy. Way too much of it. Entertaining artwork on the table and the walls. And three very hungry (ummmm did you notice the menu of the day? And the others didn't even have the cake to start!) and very tired customers. So things ranged from very quiet to very silly throughout.

hahaha and that was about it. Just a typical day really :) I'm sure there's lots more than I've missed -- I'll probably remember it when I have time to go through the pics! hahaha those'll be on FB prob this wknd... Some amazing most incredibly silly :) N or S feel free to add stories I've missed (or status lines I've forgotten) and thanks again for an amazing bday!

Talking to imaginary inanimate objects...

So about the subject line... Well maybe it's best if you just don't ask :)

Today's fact of the day: The first testicular guard "cup" was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. It took 100 years for men to realize that the brain is also important. Now really, who's surprised by this? hahaha my apologies to the intelligent male readers in the crowd - clearly the exception that makes the rule!

Last Sun night I was toasted and decided I'd be intelligent and go to sleep early. Good plan right? 9:30, in bed, 9:30:05 asleep. hahaha unheard of for me to fall asleep that fast but I did. Fast-forward a bit and I wake up feeling fairly alert, rested etc but aware it wasn't time to get up yet. I was thinking 3 or 4 am. N was a little surprised the lights were still on so I figured I'd turn the lights off and then go back and doze for the hour or so till the alarm went off. All good in theory; until I realized the lights were still on cause it was all of 9:58. Frig. Found the downside to the 20min cat-nap. I do that sometimes when I get to that point of exhaustion but still have to function through the day -- sleep for 20 mins (as per my phone alarm clock) and then good to go for the rest of the day. Well clearly my body registered that it was not normal bedtime and as I was at that point of exhaustion it must be a 20min recharge. Not so kewl as the end result was me up all night n totally exhausted all day Mon. Booo. Appropriate cat-nap on Mon got me through that day but still, really shouldn't've been necessary. Sheesh.

Got to work today to be told "we're going out for breakfast." ummm ok... It's the first down day after several intense weeks and sure enough 9:00 everybody piles into two cars and we drive to High Park for breakfast. Never actually been there before -- quite the place! Food was great and then we went for a wander around the park. Went to the zoo (seriously! who knew? I certainly didn't *g*) but it was closed due to the strike (boooo) so couldn't go in there. Clearly not everybody's striking though cause the trash bins etc were all emptied w/ fresh bags in them. Anyways -- was just a super nice way to start the morning. Also enjoyed watching the various park-goers while we were eating breakfast (outside of course :) the moms w/ babies doing aerobics were easy enough to figure, but some of the people you can't help wondering what they're doing there :) Or their stories... Like the very elderly couple moving slowly enough that one wonders how they made it that far, but consistently, holding hands the whole way. How long have they been together? For how many years have they walked the loop together? What changes have they seen? Was the lady once in the "moms and babies" group? Did the man once shortcut through the park to his high-power/high-stress office job? How did they last so long and still be holding hands? Or did they meet in a retirement condo and this is a first date? Are they starting a new chapter in their lives? Or how bout the tween-age girl with the three very BIG dogs. She didn't look particularly thrilled to be there. Are they hers? Is this a summer business? How will this effect her going forward -- will she decide she loves animals and end up a trainer; or will she decide she never wants to see them again and never so much as have a pet. Or the random guy w/ the red jacket. Looked kinda like he was on his own planet. What's the weather like there?

hahaha and that reminds me -- random conversation at breakfast this morning. The deserted island discussion -- if you were on a cruiseship that sank and a small community of people survived to end up on an uncharted and until now uninhabited island -- how would you contribute to the society? With no technology most of our team's jobs became instantly void; what other things could you do? What would you do? This has of course been discussed in every highschool classroom to ever study Lord of the Flies, but still sort of interesting.

I haven't ridden my horse in entirely too long (today's day 4! That's so wrong). Starting to really get to me! Rode a student's horse the other day for a few mins, but somehow that's just not the same at all. So do I send Cedar Run entries and figure she'll be sound (and ready) by then? Tricky... Went to look at a farm on Sun -- has absolutely everything I'm looking for and a reasonable price. Seriously lacking downpayment though. Booo on that. Was so amazing though - could picture just how everything would work. And would need *some* work, but most of that was within my abilities so not tragic.

Oops gotta run! Off to teach.

“The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.” - William Somerset Maugham

Alright so today's post may well be a cut-and-past of other people's brilliance, but some days that's the way it goes :)

Now your intellectual challenge for today -- see if you can figure out what these words have in common (Bev I expect you to have this solved by the time you get to the 3rd word :)

1 Banana
2 Dresser
3 Grammar
4 Potato
5 Revive
6 Uneven
7 Assess

and no the interesting (well in a geeky sort of way) answer is not that they all have at least 2 double letters. Keep thinking!

And while you're thinking about that we'll move on to other things.... Read this today, which has evidently been floating around the Internet since before the before the Internet existed (in the unique way hyperbole functions in my world this is, in-fact, possible :) but which I'd never seen before:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
- Frank Outlaw (may or may not be accurately attributed -- couldn't verify w/ any reputable source)

So does this mean if I *think* about running a brilliantly successful riding school it'll be my destiny? hahaha don't I wish :) Methinks however that Joel Barker's statement that "Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes time. Vision with action can change the world." while far more intense, is also a little more realistic. Albeit I don't want to change the *whole* world, just my little portion of it. For now anyways :)

Technology today has been playing not so kewl games with me. My personal email has been rejecting messages from one of my best friends -- important ones too -- like dinner plans! >;-P And then my work email has been ignoring one of our bigger clients (fortunately I got her on the phone and figured out that this was happening, but never did manage to solve it). And the only person whose been getting my text messages today is the one who almost never gets them. hahaha classic. Ah well, at least it's Friday.

What are the odds the proposed thunderstorm for tonight will hold off till after I'm done @ the barn? Is it a bad thing that I'm actually looking forward to it raining all day tomorrow so I can get some work done? Sheesh. But I'm equally looking forward to Sunday being perfect weather!

So I was thinking about numbers and coincidence today -- heard a thing on the radio about Michael Jackson and the number 7 (namely "Michael Jackson has 7 letters in his first and last name. He signed his will on 7/7/02. His memorial was on 7/7/09 ... exactly 7 years after the will was signed. His two biggest hits -- "Black & White" and "Billie Jean" — were each #1 for 7 weeks. His three biggest albums — "Thriller," "Bad" and "Dangerous" — each produced 7 top 40 hits. He was the 7th of 9 children. He was born in 1958 ... 19 + 58 = 77. He died on the 25th ... 2 + 5 = 7. ") n my first thought was "somebody had way too much free time to come up w/ that!" hahaha and that you can manipulate numbers any way you like. There was a huge thing about the 911 #s after the 2001 attacks (Snopes even tackles this one (several times) and I gotta admit I love the response @ the bottom of their analysis: -- and if you do a search for coincidence on their site . . . well let's just say you'll be reading for a while!). And I'm sure all sorts of other ones about famous people who've died... Then there's the whole Abraham Lincoln/John Kennedy thing that's more coincidence than numbers but follows the same concept ("Two presidents with seven letters in their last names, and elected to office 100 years apart, 1860 and 1960. Both were assassinated on Friday in the presence of their wives, Lincoln in Ford's theater and Kennedy in an automobile made by the Ford motor company. Both assassins went by three names: John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, with fifteen letters in each complete name. Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and fled to a theater, and Booth shot Lincoln in a theater and fled to a barn (a kind of warehouse). Both succeeding vice-presidents were southern Democrats and former senators named Johnson (Andrew and Lyndon), with thirteen letters in their names and born 100 years apart, 1808 and 1908.") Which lead me to wonder if everybody has a number that's in some way connected to their life (aka is there actually something to numerology? And if so, does it actually do you any good to know it?), or alternately if any number can be seen to fit your life if you're creative enough. I tend to believe the 2nd - my only hesitation lies in the whole fibonacci and pi thing where that sequence and one really strange number can be seen to be just about everywhere. But one site pointed out the flip side of the above ("But if we compare other relevant attributes we fail to find coincidences. Lincoln and Kennedy were born and died in different months, dates, and states, and neither date is 100 years apart. Their ages at death were different, as were the names of their wives. Of course, had any of these features corresponded for the two presidents, it would have been included in the list of "mysterious" coincidences. For any two people with reasonably eventful lives it is possible to find coincidences between them." - So basically everything logical leads right back to the if you're creative enough and have enough free time you can make the numbers line up argument. hahaha All I want is to be creative enough to come up w/ that! But really, I have better things to do w/ my time @ the moment... Anybody who can answer in plain English (no formulas!) for me why Pi is everywhere (other than that it's suitably yummy!) I'd love to hear it :) Or is that too a case of "just making it fit" :)

Ok so that's definitely enough babbling for now. See what happens when I don't get enough sleep? hahaha used to do me really well when I had to turn out an extra 50 pages or so overnight for a term paper, but it's "real-life" applications seem to be rather limited. Oh and for the curious -- re the word list at the top of the post (remember that :), in each of the words listed, if you take the first letter, place it at the end of the word, and then spell the word backwards, it will be the same word. Math in letters.


No Left Turns - Michael Gartner

I didn't write this, just got it in my inbox and thought I'd share. It's written by Michael Gartner, editor of newspapers large and small and president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. ChickenSoup type style. Enjoy!


My father never drove a car. Well, that's not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car.

He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

'In those days,' he told me when he was in his 90s, 'to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it.'

At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: 'Oh, bull----!' she said. 'He hit a horse.'

'Well,' my father said, 'there was that, too.'

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars -- the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford -- but we had none.

My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together. My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. 'No one in the family drives,' my mother would explain, and that was that.

Sometimes, my father would say, 'But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one.' It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

But, sure enough, my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at the local Chevy dealership.

It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car.

Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make any sense to my mother.

So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive.

She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father's idea. 'Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?' I remember him saying many times.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps -- though they seldom left the city limits -- and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage. (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home. If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests 'Father Fast' and 'Father Slow.'

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she
drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: 'The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored.'

If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out -- and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream.. As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, 'Do you want to know the secret of a long life?'

'I guess so,' I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

'No left turns,' he said.

'What?' I asked.

'No left turns,' he repeated. 'Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic. As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn.'

'What?' I said again.

'No left turns,' he said. 'Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer. So we always make three rights.'

'You're kidding!' I said, and I turned to my mother for support.

'No,' she said, 'your father is right. We make three rights. It works.' But then she added: 'Except when your father loses count.'

I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing.
'Loses count?' I asked.

'Yes,' my father admitted, 'that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again.'

I couldn't resist. 'Do you ever go for 11?' I asked.

'No,' he said ' If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week.'

My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car
keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90.

She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102.

They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few
years later for $3,000.

Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom -- the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.

Anyway, my father continued to walk daily -- he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising -- and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to
give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news and more politics.

A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, 'You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred.' At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, 'You know, I'm probably not going to live much longer.'

'You're probably right,' I said.

'Why would you say that?' He countered, somewhat irritated.

'Because you're 102 years old,' I said.

'Yes,' he said, 'you're right.' He stayed in bed all the next day.

That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night.

He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said: 'I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room
is dead yet.'

An hour or so later, he spoke his last words: 'I want you to know,' he said, clearly and lucidly, 'that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have.'

A short time later, he died.

I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long. I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life, or because he quit taking left turns.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about the one's who don't. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.

Now wasn't it worth reading?

“Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

So your geeky fact of the day:

At 56 seconds past 12:34 today (July 8, 2009) the date will read: 12:34:56 7-8-9

Just thought I'd share :) And no, I didn't come up w/ this on my own, Jason posted it on his FB and as is the way of such things I promptly confirmed and copied :) And yes I realize some countries have to wait till Aug 7 for this to hold true -- but those of you there just have that much more to look forward to now! Aren't you lucky >;-P

So project meetings at this office are sort of entertaining. They take a little longer than they would otherwise, but they're far less brutally boring then they tend to be in more traditional offices... Only place I've worked where I can be pretty well guaranteed to be laughing @ least once throughout (n the guys, whose sense of humour is slightly different than mine, far more :) In today's meeting we were discussing a certain project and one person states "I have three points to make. One. . . . " and as he starts the first point the person sitting next to him, with lots of drama and fanfare raises one finger (no not *that* one -- be civilized here people!) making a big deal of being on point one... When the speaker moved to point two, a second drama was presented but far less exciting because it appeared that our editorial dramatist was writing notes at the same time he was providing the count. Why became evident when the speaker got to point three, and a nicely illustrated 3 was presented to the group flashcard style :) hahaha and what I liked was it wasn't mocking or behind the speakers back/over his head/whatever. It was all upfront and our speaker took it w/ good humour AND got his points (all three of them) across before turning the discussion to a critique of the 3 flashcard *g*. And this is why our meetings go on forever. A bit of an ADD factor going on, but I have to admit on days when I'm not frantically busy it's fairly entertaining. But the really brilliant part was when several hours later, said speaker was helping another member of our office sort through a problem and said something about "ok two questions for you:" then he stops and looks around... Asks the guy from the first meeting (who by this point is under headphones and totally in his own world on another project) "Hey -- we need some flash cards!" hahaha so sure enough, he clues in really fast and pauses from what he's doing to hold up his notepad (which from that distance I'm pretty sure he was just holding up blank paper, but still :) so the original speaker could continue.

So I found the perfect farm for a home base for Graduate Riding School. A little farther away than I wanted but still in a reasonable area. Has everything I wanted (right size, indoor ring, tack room, etc etc) in the right pricerange. Only issue being, of course, that I'm significantly short of the req'd downpayment! Boooo on that. Any suggestions as to where to find 100K or so? hahaha

Had a blast riding my pony yesterday. She was a *little* high after two days off and a cool breezy evening (speaking of -- what happened to SUMMER?!?!?! Seriously people, it's almost mid-july and the temp's still sometimes in the teens. I think we need to have a chat w/ Mother Nature and the Global Warming people -- somebody's not holding up their end!). But yes, superpony likes the weather and had a very good time running around the ring :)

So this week I'm functioning in that "slightly-beyond-exhausted" phase where you grab a 20min cat-nap in the car @ lunchtime to make it through the rest of the day. Thinking I might spend all day Saturday asleep. Was thinking of going XC but weathernetwork informs me it'll be thunderstorming. Sheesh.

Had to laugh today I had a v-mail from the woman who sold me my rabbit. Talk about a follow-up call! hahaha was what 2 years ago I bought it? "Haven't spoken to you in a while; just wanted to make sure you're still enjoying your car." hahaha well credit to her for making an effort. Anybody looking to buy a VW in Brampton, she's your person :) And that's probably precisely *why* she makes such calls, but still, I was impressed.

Off for now!

Weekend fun and games

"Welcome to OverReaction News. Where if it doesn't scare you, it isn't news worthy." hahaha that was the slogan of the parody broadcast that was playing @ work this morn. Did lead in to something more serious discussing the issues raised by OverReaction News, but the original broadcast was very clever. Have no idea what station it was on or where it came from, but if you hear it it's worth a listen :)

So Sienna went to her first HT on Sat. Full story is on the Graduate Riding School blog; short version is I rode horribly and she was a superstar. hahaha ended in 6th place (pink - ugh) -- more cause other people did really poorly then cause we did particularly well, but still I was very proud of her. She got a bag of apples as a prize... And it turns out she doesn't *like* apples. Only I would have a horse who doesn't like apples. Sheesh. Was an amazingly gorgeous day though, and I got to socialize for a while with friends I don't get to see anymore so that was good :)

On Sunday I ventured to hunter land. And yes I've heard the skating in Hell is good this wk :) One student who's a regular of mine and two occasionals that I picked up at the show. All three did really well. And while I had a good time while I was there (cause let's be honest, I *like* coaching @ shows!) I was definitely ready for it to be done by the end. Now some of that could've been cause I was still not feeling particularly well from Sat but really I think it was just that outside-diagonal-outside-diagonal can only be interesting for so long. Sorry hunter world, just my opinion of course, but I've yet to be proven wrong! Again, full story on GRS blog.

5 minutes you'll never get back...

So I'm writing this entry more because I have 20 mins and a keyboard then because I actually have anything to say. Consider yourself forewarned.

Still reading? hahaha either you're braver than I or really bored :)

So my horse -- this was originally entirely a horse-related blog so let's start there. My non-vet but very intelligent friend J has managed to accurately diagnose Sienna's issue. She is clearly presenting all the signs of OSCTB. I can't believe I didn't catch it! What kind of horse-woman am I?!?!? *sigh* -- well you know how it is, when you're too close to the situation, sometimes it takes an outsider to state the obvious. What? You've never heard of OSCTB b4? That'd be Over Sensitive Chestnut Thoroughbred Mare Syndrome... Ah yes, I can see you nodding your head. "That scratch -- I might bleed to DEATH if you ride me. It HURTS!" ummm what scratch is that??? Or better yet "my tummy hurts... I'm perfectly fine and will eat everything and TPR are all perfect, but if you brush me there I'll kick you!" Yes, she got me yesterday. I was not amused. So my superstar pony who's been entirely sound all week went off as soon as my jump coach was supposed to arrive. I was not amused. Going back to see what mood she's in tonight and ascertain whether or not we'll be going to play anywhere tomorrow. Also now have her on a small mountain of supplements *sigh* in hopes of combating said tummy-ache and various other ailments. Oh well -- at least I never have to worry she's hiding anything!

I'm really looking forward to doing the Walk in the Clouds this summer -- is it a sad thing that I'm counting down days to a one-day vacation more than a month ahead of time? Before that though will be waterpark adventures (hahaha that should be a riot -- weather had better be good!) and hopefully some zip-lining (haven't *quite* figured out when that's going to fit in, but I'm sure it will :)

Also on the to-do list -- anybody w/in a reasonable drive of Brampton who has ever had even a fleeting enjoyment of Shakespeare should drop by and watch this: -- it's free! (wasn't the first time I went to see it :) and an absolute riot. Summary: Complete Works is 3 guys, 1 dead playwright, 37 plays and 154 sonnets in 90 minutes. Definitely geek-humour (as in it helps if you've @ least heard of Shakespeare @ some point :) but man did I ever laugh. Won't mention the whole being pulled up on stage thing... Fortunately for all involved they explicitly state "no recording devices" hahaha... So who's going to let me drag them along this time? I think I'm running out of friends who'll attend Shakespeare w/ me -- even funny Shakespeare! Ker you up for a repeat visit? Some warm sunny night? This one will be way more entertaining than the last one we saw :)

I'm very excited about my new travel mug -- that looks exactly like a Styrofoam coffee cup. hahaha thanx Bev :) One of our clients had one in a meeting a month or two ago and I was highly amused by it (yes I know - it doesn't take much :) but then one magically appeared the other day! woohoo!

Getting tired of having all my fun lessons getting rained out. What happened to summer? Warm and sunny can come any time now!

Ok well I'm off now :) You were warned...


2 of 3 phases...

*stolen from GRS blog*

So my pony met the most fearsome of beasts @ my dr coach's farm the other day. No it wasn't the white chain of doom, or even the gremlins that live @ C...

It was . . .

*insert jaws theme here*

. . . a mini!!!! Now we all know that ponies are demons in cute furry coats, but minis... Well they're demon ponies who've been taken over by aliens! And therefore should be snorted at and run away from. It was pretty funny, esp following her "I'm too tired to go for a walk" act. Sheesh. I will admit she was pretty tired the next day though -- although whether it was from an hour of dressage or 30 seconds of saving the world from ferocious aliens, I'm not sure.

Same outting Sienna had another run-in that demonstrated to me exactly *why* she keeps getting beat up in the field. Miss Sienna wants very much to be the boss mare -- the problem is that she's all talk. This was demonstrated very clearly in our warmup. Gorgeous long indoor ring w/ a full wall of mirrors on one short end.... Now she's seen mirrors before, even these mirrors before, and it's never been an issue. But this time she decided it was time to exert her authority with the "other" horse. So we trot up to the mirror, get within a few strides, and she pins her ears and makes all sorts of seriously nasty faces -- which is all well and good, but then the OTHER horse did the EXACT SAME THING!!!! And yes my super-brave-wanna-be-boss mare promptly turned and ran away. hahahhaha and it didn't help that her rider was laughing at her. So the next time we came around and clearly having decided the resident mare is WAY scarier than she is, Si decided to make friends. Approached the mirror w/ ears forward and all happy, and the mirror-mare was very receptive to this of course and the two were the greatest of friends after that. hahaha sadly it doesn't work quite that way in the paddock and hence the continual bumps n bruises. *sigh*

Lesson itself was a riot. Only dr coach I've ever had who actually makes dressage entertaining while making a valiant effort to actually fix us. Of course I've no idea if she does so *intentionally* >;-P hahaha sorry M :) But the combination of coach who has, heaven forbid, expectations! Of us producing something that resembles dressage! With my silly little TB who, let's be honest, thinks anything that's not eating is a complete waste of time, n me who ODed on dressage last year and so have been slightly less than dedicated this year... Well let's just say we do better in the "interpretive" division. (and for the non-horse-people in the audience, said division does not technically exist outside my mind :) Where circles occasionally (ummm often) have one square corner, and the canter could have anywhere between 2 and 4 beats, and the rider may or may not be actually sitting. hahaha but she sticks it out and somehow by the end of the lesson she always manages to transform us into something that won't get us laughed out of the dressage ring (or so I like to pretend anyways). Have to get back on a normal lesson schedule; it's the only way my dq homework will get done. hmmmm somehow I don't generally have that problem w/ jump homework *g* N never w/ XC homework... Funny, I never seem to *get* XC homework. Booo. But if pony is going to compete anytime soon *cough*Sat*cough* we really have to learn how to go from the trot to the canter.

Now while we haven't got the whole T/C thing down yet, we did have fun galloping around XC @ Cedar Run last wknd. Incredibly gorgeous facility. For those considering going... I have no idea what's going to be where, but they have a HUGE field (that had stad fences in it) that has the most amazing footing. Like riding on a putting green. It may get shrunk to put dressage in there too -- I don't know, but if the whole thing stays stad it'll make for a fun rolling course. There's a sandring too so potential for a dressage ring there. No idea where warmup may end up. Can't speak to what the stad course may be but XC (what was built as of then anyways) was fair and inviting. PE the logs-in-the-grass you'd expect. E and PT also friendly and inviting; the first few quite low, then others to size. T course wasn't up yet (we saw some of them being built) but I would expect the same. There's a natural water crossing (presumably not on the lower levels) and they were in the process of building a man-made water complex as well. E and up had jumps in the woods as well as in standard open areas. At least 2 PT/T bank complexes -- one very natural one in the woods, and one standard "we built this so there'd be a bank" in a field. That has a run up and jump off w/ a few strides to an easy vert, or a jump on/jump off/2strides log combo. Striding rides really well both ways even on a greenbean... There's a great PE/E run (about 100ft from each other) that has 4 fences in a row, connecting 4 rows of trees, several strides apart that was a ton of fun to go through. Super inviting. Lots of portable fences and standard hogs-back type jumps. There was a PT/T shark's tooth that was eating horses (be aware if it appears on your course cause it didn't look like anything particularly exciting!) Nothing particularly inventive (although the run through the trees was entertaining), but up and down hills, gorgeous scenery, mostly sand footing, and a short jog through the woods which is always fun :)