Friday, May 30, 2008

Thought for the Day

The nice thing about a short week is how quickly we get to Friday.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The People I've Met

The Los Angeles Times ran an article about my friend Anthony De Longis and his work on the new Indiana Jones movie the other day. He trained Harrison Ford to use his bullwhip. Tony taught me to sword fight but said I was too tense to use a bullwhip. I'd still like to learn. I wrote about Tony a few weeks ago when he performed at the Hollywood Charity Horse Show.

Tony also choreographed the fight scenes and trained the actors for the wonderful film Secondhand Lions. If you haven't seen it, call Netflix, buy some popcorn and settle in for two hours with Robert Duval and Michael Caine.

Big Brown's Investors

There's an interesting article in today's New York Times about the (IMHO, sleazy) guy behind the "investment group" that owns Big Brown. The more I read, the more it smells. As I said, I'm rooting for the horse, not the questionable ownership scheme.

Getting My Digital House in Order

I didn't get nearly as much done as I had planned over the Memorial Day Weekend. I made a start on cleaning up the living room, but the table laden down with tax stuff is still glaring at me. Because the weather was so chilly, I didn't get anything done on the garden. More work for this coming weekend, I'm afraid.

I did make considerable progress in consolidating my digital photographs into one Adobe Lightroom catalogue. There are about 17,000 images in it right now and I think I've found the repository of the missing images of General Wesley Clark that I took at a fund raiser. He's a brilliant man, an amazing speaker, and one of those people who uses your name in the brief conversation you have so they remember it (John Denver did the same thing when I met him.) I had a panic yesterday when I realized the pictures weren't among the imported images for 2005, but last night I managed to find them in a different backup folder from my old PC laptop.

Unfortunately, about half of the images were shot as JPEGs, not RAW, so the long-term prognosis of the health of those images is not good. JPEGs are self-destructive, and every time you open one, it closes with different, uncontrollable, bits going to Jesus. I learned my mistake after I had the digital SLR for two years, so now I shoot everything I can in RAW (my pocket camera shoots only JPEGs) and I export to JPEGs when I need them.

I've also managed to get most of the image files off my MacBookPro and onto an external hard drive. There's a few more to go, but I'm planning to get another big external hard drive to hold them, because I don't need to go carting those images around with me when I'm traveling with the laptop. Currently, I've got about 1/3 of the internal hard drive free, which is a whole lot better than it was last week when 80% of the drive was filled. I'm aiming for the optimum of no more than 50% of the drive being filled, because processing slows down considerably when the drive has less free space. I've already noticed a difference in speed.

So my free advice to anyone reading this is that if you take digital photographs, buy a separate hard drive for storage. And if you care about long term survival of your photographs, back that hard drive up to another and shoot RAW if you've got the capability. I'd also suggest storing a set of files as DNGs (digital negatives, an open source RAW file format from Adobe), since all camera RAW files are proprietary and someday you may not be able to read the files in your own camera's software program.

Eventually, I will have to face the task of digitizing at least the best of my pre-digital work, if for no other reason than making digital portfolios. The other side of that coin is that I know those images, be they transparencies or black and white negatives, have a whole lot better chance of being readable in 10 years than my digital images do. When you think about how fast technology has changed, and the fact that it is virtually impossible to find a computer which can read 5 1/4" disks or files created in Windows 95, the long term prospects of looking at digital family pictures becomes pretty grim.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Adventure Continues

We took a family night and the three of us went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Daa daa dadum da da da. We had a swell time and ate a large bag of popcorn while willingly suspending our sense of disbelief.

Michael grew up watching this series and Star Wars. It's hard to believe I was pregnant with him when the first Indy film came out. For the second film, I remember sitting in line for the first show in D.C., which I saw with a friend. The third film opened about six weeks before I met Len and was still in release that fall when he came to visit me at law school in Cleveland. We went to see the film at the big theater in Shaker Heights before it was broken up into three small screening rooms. I think it was actually the first movie we went to together.

I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade recently, so I was ready for any and all references. Like most of us, Steve, George and company seem to have erased Temple of Doom from the iconography. They have, however, included reference to The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which I happen to love.

Because I'm sure not everyone has seen it yet, I'll save most thoughts on specifics until another time. Except for one thing. Marion Ravenwood is still the best woman in the saga. No, two things. Unlike Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones' presence is necessary in this film.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

When TiVO Fails

Apparently, our digital recorder, courtesy of Time Warner Cable, can't automatically extend itself when a show runs late. So instead of seeing the crowning of the new American Idol last night, we got "and the winner is....David" followed by the sound you hear when someone is clearing their throat or trying to say the first syllable of Channukka way back by their tonsils. This was accompanied by the "do you want to erase window." So we did not get to see the thrill of victory, agony of defeat moment.

Not that I want to suggest that there was anything funny going on, but on Tuesday night it sure looked like the judges wanted David A. to win, even though at home we thought David C. did the better performances. So much so, that when David C. was overcome with emotion, I wondered whether he had been told the younger kid was going to win, come hell or high water. Then, earlier on the show on Wednesday, when Simon Cowell did his apology to David Cook for the comments the judges made on Tuesday, I wondered whether the producers and judges had gotten some sort of heads up that David A. had been on the receiving end of the voting trounce. 56% to 44% in voting is a huge difference in a competition which has usually been much tighter.

We were rather blown away by David A. at the beginning of this season, but as the show progressed, David Cook won us over. He had some absolutely amazing performances and his victory was hard earned. Good for him.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Return of the Belmont Tea

I've decided not to hold my contempt for Big Brown's investment owners against the horse himself and throw my OMG! There Might Be a Triple Crown Winner Belmont Stakes Tea. Thanks to TiVO, I was able to watch the Preakness after I was sure there were no new mishaps, and I've got to say I was impressed as all get out to watch Big Brown go loping past his competitors without breaking any apparent sweat.

I did the first Belmont Tea back when War Emblem looked like he might make history, then there was Funny Cide, and finally Smarty Jones. All fizzled when faced with the 1.5 miles of the Belmont. Afleet Alex had a great story, but only got two of the three races. Last year, I was knocked out by Rags to Riches and wished I'd had the party just to watch that filly take on the boys. But it is supposed to be a Triple Crown driven tea party, and I've only got so much energy to do the cooking and throw the bash.

I do it as a ladies only event (although Len will sometimes drop in to watch the race itself) and look at it as another of the "never too late to have a happy childhood" things. Wearing hats is encouraged. Dressing for an outing is fine, and a number of people have emulated the look of the Derby dress up in the past.

I encourage people to bring along tea dishes they like and to bring unusual teas to brew, but I'm usually in the kitchen for days in advance making things like lemon curd and faux Devon cream and shaped sandwich breads. I also make scones from a recipe I got from a cookbook published by a wonderful tea shop in Carlsbad, California which disappeared overnight, according to the locals. They are the best ever.

I've got a nice collection of books about taking tea and recipes from tea rooms all over the country and in Great Britain. Every year when we go to San Diego, a group of my women friends slips away from Comicon to try one of the local tea shoppes (current favorite: Tea on Chatsworth.) Locally, The Gilded Rose in Granada Hills is a nice place to go for tea, but I hear the Peninsula Hotel has a great tea room (though very pricey.)

Preparing a tea can be a lot of work, but it is definitely worth it. And I do so enjoy showing off my skills in the kitchen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Senator Kennedy

I don't always agree with Ted Kennedy--just most of the time.

My biggest disagreement with him was over the Visual Artists Rights Act which I thought did a lot more for established artists than it was ever going to do for working artists like I was back in the 1980s, and I told him so at the press conference he called to announce VARA. When the press conference was over, and I was talking to a lawyer from California, I felt a presence at my side, which moved closer as I moved away. It was the Senator. He wanted me to know that he would have his staff look into my concerns. I did help get photographers included in VARA, even if it is for limited edition, fine-art art prints of runs less than 200. It didn't help the average working photographer and it specifically excluded commercial photography. I know why it was written that way, I just wish the Senator had been willing to put more work into copyright issues affecting the majority of photographers.

Senator Kennedy has in most circumstances worked very hard for the so called average working person. He's been at the forefront of health insurance and child welfare legislation and equal rights. Despite his personal wealth, I always felt he wasn't in politics for the power of anything except to do good. Unlike plenty of people we could name who were in it for power. He's had his flaws, but I'd rather see him in his Senate seat than not. I'm still sorry he didn't make it to the White House.

I'm greatly saddened by the news in this last hour that Senator Kennedy has a brain tumor. I would hate to lose his voice in Congress. I would hate to lose the last of the bleeding-heart liberal legislators who inspired me. I wish him well and the best medical treatment that science has to offer.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I got a pleasant surprise from Arlene at Grey Horse Matters this afternoon when I got a chance to check e-mail from the workshop I'm attending. Thanks, Arlene.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

On a Very Hot Saturday

It is day two of an intensive workout in digital work flow and Adobe Lightroom called the D-65 Workshop. I love it. Today, we've got one of the Adobe developers in to speak. On Monday, I'll probably join Seth Resnick in talking about copyright issues. I'm only a recovering attorney, not a recovered one.

I'm in Hollywood, where it tends to be somewhat cooler than in the Valley. I spoke to Len a few minutes ago and he says it is unbelieveably hot. I guess it is a good weekend not to be out riding in Chatsworth. Poor Ace. He's still getting worked this weekend. I'm in an air conditioned studio and I won't be leaving until hours from now.

As I drove in this morning, I was screaming at the radio. There was an interview with the pretender going on. He never answered a direct question--always changed it to something he wanted to say to deflect responsibility for the economy, the fuel crisis, the housing debacle. I just keep counting down.

Last night, I was extremely pleased to see that Chris Matthews didn't let a Bush flack get away with throwing the "appeasement" buzz word around. He realized immediately that the flack didn't know what Neville Chamberlain did, when it happened, or why. I guess the session went on for more than five minutes live, with the idiot just ranting louder and louder about Obama being "an appeaser." I haven't been happy with Chris Matthews' behavior of the last 7 years, when he's been willing to let the Bushies get away with anything. I guess now that the wind has changed, he has developed some testosterone.

And how about people jumping all over McCain's less than straight-talk express? Or the idiotic remark that Mike Huckabee made about the noise at his appearance this week. Real Christian of him, wasn't it? Nice example for a minister to be making in such a public place.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bike to Work, Suburban L.A. Version

Between the time I left home this morning at 7:15 on my new bicycle and when I left the Campus Center at the end of my ride share event, the temperature must have gone up about 35 degrees. It is now bloody hot and I dread the trip home because there isn't a lot of shade along the way.

Pierce College recorded the hottest temperature ever recorded in Los Angeles County in July 2006: 119 degrees. The people who held a horse show here that day were very unhappy, even with a covered arena. According to Google, it is 95 degrees here right now. The thermometer in the shade outside my office says it is 100 degrees--and it feels like it. There's a big difference in the temperature from one part of the campus to another, and where the weather station is tends to be cooler than over here on the Farm. So it may well have been more than 119 degrees on the day of that record heat.

The bike ride took maybe 10 minutes, but I have no confidence when crossing streets, so total trip time was closer to 20 minutes because, for me, it was "bike and walk to work day." I stopped at the REI pit-stop near the Orange Line stop along Winnetka Avenue. I guess I expected to find it right near where passengers get on and off the bus, but that was rather silly of me. Adam from REI was situated in the parking lot, which meant leaving the bike path and he was under a black canopy. A more brightly colored one would have been a better idea. When I got there, he was being harassed by a Metro security cop. You'd think Metro would let security know what was going on, but I suspect it was just someone who didn't pay attention to e-mail or print about Bike to Work Week. Metro certainly did a lot to publicize it.

I passed a number of riders going in both directions along the bike path, which runs for most of the length of the Orange Line from North Hollywood to Woodland Hills. My stretch is only about a mile long, from about 50 yards south of our house to maybe 200 yards from the cross street at the Mason entrance of Pierce to the Plant Facilities offices. That last 200 yards is scary: no bike lane and lots of construction vehicles, plus students who don't care about speed limit signs when they drive.

Adam gave me a bunch of puncture repair kits, so I was able to add them to the goodie bags we made up to give away. The bags are Pierce logo book bags with draw string shoulder straps. You don't want to put anything in that's too heavy, but I got one a couple of months ago and I find it very useful for carrying my chaps, gloves, and hard hat when I walk Ace between our barn and Gayle's training barn.

The bags aren't very expensive, but we added granola bars, a 32 ounce water bottle, a Metro map of bike routes throughout L.A., and the patch kits. We prepared 20 of them, but someone took two of them from the box last night. I didn't have a place to lock them up, but I was still disappointed that my co-workers would do that. The box was covered and it was with the rest of my maps, schedules, and brochures to give out.

Only about two dozen people stopped by, of whom a total of five (including me) qualified for the Bike to Work stuff, so there was plenty in the way of snacks and bags left over. I had ordered danish, croissants, juice, green tea and water for 50 people. A little over-reaching, I guess. I think I would have been better off if I had done this in the faculty-staff resource center. I could have gotten on the phone to remind people about stopping by to pick up schedules and maps. I now have a list of things I know to do for next year--including remembering to bring scissors, tape, table clothes and rubber bands (for repacking.) I'd also like to have some music to listen to.

It will be better attended next time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Spooking Chronicles, Part What?

The stinker took advantage of me when I probably should not have been taking a lesson on Monday and did another big spook. Again, I did stay on, but because I wasn't feeling well, it took me a bit more to get it under control. I also came out of contact with the seat because I got pulled forward and, apparently, I hit him with the whip.

I've been repeating the word Whoa! a lot. Gayle said I totally forgot it and I finally yelled it at him. He did stop when he heard it from me.

Clearly, this is the new evasion to avoid real work. It was a successful strategy in the past (Rod Bergen is so wrong about horses being unable to strategize), but I'm not going to be put off by it again. Eventually, he'll have to try something else. I'm much less bothered when he decides that a collected back up will work.

Gayle did say that I had a great collected canter underneath me when he took off. All I can say is, he feels like a whole lot bigger horse when his back is up under me. There's a lot of power when that engine is engaged.

Gayle asked me if Ashley could ride Ace in a dressage clinic at the end of the month (actually, it's June 1, I think) and, of course, I said yes. I'll go and watch. They'll be sharing the spot with the warmblood and rider they often take lessons with. The mare is about a hand and a half taller than Ace and proportionally bigger. So it is quite entertaining to watch them keep up or or slow down to stay with each other.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Riding the Spook

I had another great lesson on Saturday, including the moment when Ace saw a dragon (neither Gayle nor I saw it, of course) and took off across the arena. He was on a loose rein when it happened, but my hands were in the right place, so a finger on the pommel kept me balanced as he dropped the right shoulder. I never lost contact with the saddle, got him back under control, turned him and made him go right back to work. That obviously wasn't his plan, but he got the message.

Earlier in the lesson, I was letting him walk on a loose rein while I was pulling on a glove. Gayle commented about how relaxed I was, letting him move freely while I tried to get the glove on. After the spook, she said she couldn't have handled it any better than I did. She was pleased that we just went back to work after something we both knew was bound to happen at some point.

Knowing that he took off at a canter and I just sat there makes the thought of approaching the intentional canter less scary than it has been for quite a while. Gayle and Ashley both keep telling me that he has an awesome canter (as has anyone who's ever ridden him--he looks like a rocking horse.)

He's moving off my leg so easily these days that I regret that I wasn't able to find the right trainer sooner. Of course, I really wouldn't have been able to afford the training program I am in when I first got him. It does help to have him worked by Gayle and ridden by Ashley and I'm really glad that I don't have to longe him every time before I get on his back.

I dropped by Gayle's place when Ashley was riding him in a group lesson last week and Gayle told me that when the lesson was over, Ace was very confused that I was no longer there. He had noticed when I came in but didn't see me leave. I guess he knows who he owns.

I have seen him block other horses at the barn if they try to get too friendly with me. If he's with a group out in the arena and I'm in his run, he'll guard the gate and keep the other horses away. God forbid I open the door and someone beats him to his treats.

Sick Day

I took a sick day from work today. My sore throat reached that feeling of glass going down with a swallow. Fortunately, I've got my doctor's home number and he immediately said "infection" after I described the symptoms. Len went off to the pharamcy and 12 hours later, I could swallow again without pain. Aren't antibiotics wonderful?

There are four advantages of "employment" over "self-employment:" a regular paycheck (which allows you to budget, even if you could make more money in less time if you are self-employed), health insurance (prohibitively expensive if you are a sole proprietor), paid vacations, and paid sick days.

Although this was not a good day to take off, with all the things I need to do for Thursday's Bike to Work Day, the world doesn't end if I don't show up. In a sole proprietorship, if I don't work, it doesn't get done. I spent several San Diego Comicons working on pleadings for lawsuits when I should have been on vacation. That I don't miss at all.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Licenses & Micro-chips

Two years ago, I had an opportunity to get Ace micro-chipped at the college. I also had to pay for a license, which is more about counting horses than anything else. I'm glad I got the micro-chip, although I've read some scary things about them. Ace seems to be doing just fine with it. Since horses don't have collars on all the time (unlike dogs), I haven't quite figured out what to do with the license tag. If I were Ace, I'd hate to have it banging against my cheek if I put it on his halter.

The other day, Gina asked me if Ace was licensed, because they need to have all of the horses licensed in order to get a conditional use permit for the barn. I managed to dig up my license, which expired, and now I've got to drop by the Department of Animal Services to renew the license. I noticed the paperwork has the wrong address and it uses Ace's call name rather than his registered name. That's probably not as important.

The City of Los Angeles recently claimed some sort of ignorance about how many horses are in the San Fernando Valley, saying there were less than 500. That was based on license sales. Lots of horse owners gathered to let the City know they were quite wrong about that, but there is now a push to get the horses licensed.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Len's Latest Acheivement

Wizard Magazine published its 200th issue this week and came up with a list of the top 200 comic book characters. Beating out Batman, Superman, and Spiderman to come in at #1 is Wolverine, created by my talented husband, Len Wein (with art by John Romita, Sr.), in about 1973. In addition to Wolvie, Len's other X-men contributions, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus (Dave Cockrum was the artist on them--and Dave's redesign is the costume most people think of for Wolverine) made the list and Swamp Thing (Bernie Wrightson did the art) did, too. Five characters in a list that covers 70 years of comic book history, with thousands of characters to choose from. Not a bad achievement. Even if Wizard didn't bother to list the creators' names.

Do as We Say, Not as We Do

Does anyone remember how the Bush administration refused to allow much needed aid for Hurricane Katrina victims from foreign governments? Isn't it the height of arrogance for Laura Bush to chastise the Myanmar government for refusing to allow aid from the U.S. (and we're offering an embarrassing low level of aid) for their recent disaster?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sometimes It Is the Small Stuff

Len and I were on our way to a party Saturday night. We pulled out of the driveway and noticed the legs of two men on the sidewalk that passes our home. They were reaching up into our mulberry tree and grabbing as much fruit as they could stick into their mouths.

First, I need to describe how our house is situated. We are on a cul-de-sac and we own one of the two houses that has a driveway on the cul-de-sac and a section of land which keeps the cul-de-sac from being a street to the major north-south avenue which is on the eastern border of our property. There is a sidewalk between our house and the one to the south of us, and both of the houses have a plot of land. Our mulberry tree, along the south wall of our garage and a bit of the slump-stone wall that forms the eastern border of our back yard, intertwines with some form of cypress and some branches overhang the sidewalk along the major street. We also have a strip of land closer to the street than the sidewalk is, for which we pay gardeners to mow. Unfortunately, the trapezoidal spit of land is not walled or fenced and people seem to think they are entitled to help themselves to the fruit of our Persian mulberry.

Often, the thieves are English-as-a-second-language folk who pretend to not understand as I tell them they are stealing. But they all seem to understand when I say "I will call the police if you don't stop now." It is a violation of California law to steal produce. I looked it up one day.

Not only did these two, middle-aged, white guys refuse to stop, they came at our car yelling at us about how it was their right to take the fruit and we couldn't stop them--it was on public property. Then, one of them got on the phone while the other one said "tell them it's Officer___," then they got hostile about my license plate, "are you a lawyer? What's your bar number? You're a liar. That's not your bar number." I pulled out my phone and I did call the police. I also pulled out my camera to take pictures of them. One reached toward the window to block the camera, at which time Len said "if you stick your hand in here, I'll take it off at the wrist."

I spoke to an officer and told her what was going on. She went to speak to her partner about whether these bozos were allowed to take the fruit off of my tree. While I was waiting for her return, the creeps kept circling the car and saying things like "she's not really on the phone to anyone." Finally, the officer came back on and said "they can pick up anything that falls on the sidewalk--that's public ground--but they cannot take the fruit off of the tree. That's a misdemeanor, and we can come out and arrest them. I told her they'd probably run off before the police could arrive, and they did go off, continuing to yell at me and grabbing more fruit as they left.

Typical bullies.

I worried they might do something to the house while we were out, but that didn't seem to happen.

You'd think to well-to-do middle-aged white guys would be smart enough to leave well enough alone, but no. The taller of the two schmucks was back again the next night, pulling down the higher branches of the tree to eat berries. I saw him as I turned to go into the driveway. I immediately drove out to get on the main street where I pulled out my camera and yelled at him to get away from my tree, that he was a thief, and probably a few other things I would have been better off not saying. He yelled at me that I was a black-hearted bitch, black-hearted just like those berries, and that I should die--he wanted me dead. Real nice guy. But pulling out the camera did send him on his way, yelling as he did. I turned the car around and followed him, snapping pictures, and then turned again when he crossed the street until he ducked into another cul-de-sac and disappeared before I could find him.

I went back home and sprayed the branches over the sidewalk with Bitter Apple. I thought about using cayenne pepper spray (which I have to keep horses from chewing on wood), but I was afraid I might actually cause some hurt to someone whereas bitter apple will only make them regret the taste.

As I said, sometimes it is the small stuff that can really set you off and you forget about "don't sweat the small stuff; it's all small stuff." We rarely get a chance to enjoy the mulberries because people steal them before we have a chance to get to them.

I am sorely tempted to make up wanted posters and leave them in the neighborhood to find out who this bozo is and have him arrested. The photos aren't that good, but I have this feeling that public pillory is some times the right punishment for the annoying crimes. Len thinks I'm making more of this that it deserves. I should probably be concerned that the prick lives in the neighborhood and likes to take his evening walk past my house.

The mulberries aren't worth that much, but most people cut them down because birds eat them and the droppings are nasty to clean off cars. I like having the tree there for the wildlife. They are welcome to what I don't want.

Well-off white guys can buy their own.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Sometimes it feels like I'm stuck in a rut with my riding and sometimes I feel like I'm making great progress. The spill last summer really put a damper on my riding for months, but I seem to be getting past it now. It helps to have a trainer who is sympathetic to this older rider and isn't forcing a time-table on me.

We had a great ride with our trainer on Saturday. It didn't hurt that we had managed a lesson for six days in a row--no rain, no wind, no holidays, nothing to interrupt the work while we were making up lessons for all of those occurrences. Ace was relaxed and ready to go, and even the "Day of the Horse" events taking place across the street didn't bother him--much. The static feedback from the microphone and loud speakers sounded like firecrackers and his ears perked right up. He got over it and I got on.

I had him ready in time to spend around half an hour warming him up before Gayle got to the barn, so we were able to get a lot more done in the alloted time. I took only the first hour of my 7:45 yoga class, but thats when most of the stretching gets done, so it worked out well for me.

The extra work outs Ace is getting from Gayle and Ashley are really paying off. He's moving off my leg and I can get him to trot without holding a motivational tool in my hand. He really feels far more forward than he has in a long time. He's keeping his back up and his head down and when he starts reaching under himself, he's got a very powerful trot. I'm still having a little problem falling forward, but I'm working a lot harder at leaning back and engaging my abdominals to stay in the saddle. One of these days I know I will have to go back to the Schleese and won't have the false sense of security of the western saddle.

We've learned we cannot say "Good Boy." Ace has decided those words mean he can stop. He's done a good job and the job is over. Not exactly, pal. He can be quite adamant about not moving forward after hearing those words. When he is moving, he'll take any direction in the general vicinity of his hoop to mean "oh, I can go inside the hula hoop and be safe and get treats." I've gotten much better at keeping him from going into the hoop when I don't want him to. He is very funny. You cannot convince me that horses don't have a sense of logic and can't plan their actions.

When we were finished working, and Ace had a chance to romp in the arena on his own, I got his weekly bran mash ready. I added a lot of water, so it was a very soupy gruel. He went diving in to find carrots and I swear he had slop all the way to his eyes. I have no idea how he keeps the stuff out of his nose. He nickered at me between forays to the bottom of the bucket and I just kept telling him "keep that dirty nose away from me." He stained his sock when he wiped his mouth on his left front leg.

We went to a birthday party on Saturday evening where I had a long talk with a friend about the Kentucky Derby. She knows a lot more about Thoroughbred breeding than I do and said that Eight Belles' sire is producing big, fast babies that break down at an alarming rate. She can't understand why anyone would breed to him. That information makes me even more upset by what happened, as has the more explicit reports of what happened to the filly's legs. One can't help but think that money means more than anything to people who engage in this sport. Kay also thinks that it will be a freak if Big Brown wins the Triple Crown. She and I are both waiting to see what the reports on his feet are coming out of the Derby. I haven't seen or heard anything yet.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


I couldn't bring myself to watch the Kentucky Derby last year. I was still feeling grief for the loss of Barbaro. After today, I may never watch it again.

We set the DVR as we ran out for lunch and when we came back home, it was just as the TV showed Big Brown as the unofficial winner. I wish I had waited a few more minutes before running back 90 minutes to the build up for the race.

My heart was with Eight Belles, a magnificent 17 hand filly. And what a race she had. And then disaster as she collapsed after coming in second. The camera showed her down on the track and then she was surrounded by the vet trucks. She was put down right on the track, both her front ankles broken.

Big Brown threw his rider when the filly collapsed near him. He ran a great race, despite whatever problems he may have with sore feet. But his race is overshadowed by the death on the track, one of many this year.

Is it that the Thoroughbreds are so in-bred that they are breaking down? If so, isn't it time for them to breed back in some Arabian blood to strengthen them? Or is it that the horses are raced too young in the U.S. and it is time to ban such early trauma on these animals.

Whatever the reason, the Triple Crown has dulled for me and I don't know if I can hold a Belmont Tea if Big Brown takes the Preakness.

Friday, May 2, 2008

To the Moon, Really

NASA is gathering names for its "Send Your Name to the Moon" Project and you can join by clicking on the link. After you type in your name, you get to download a certificate of participation which would be pretty cool on a color printer. I figure it is the only way I'll ever be that close to another heavenly body (well, I have been much closer to Hugh Jackman, but you know what I mean.) I'm thinking about adding Ace's name to the list. How long do you think it will take for anyone to wonder about the sanity of naming a child "Auspicious Comet"?