Monday, June 29, 2009

Week In Training - June 22 through June 28

As promised I'm trying to be good about logging my training. Strum had a bunch more agility practice than I listed but I can't remember it exactly and it was mostly in the backyard.

Monday-Walk 2 miles (Lola & Cody)-morning
Swim-2300 yards (masters, Spruce Pool, Jane coach)
Knee good

Tuesday-Run/walk 3 miles (30 mins. of 2 mins. run/1 min. walk + warm up/cool down)
with dogs (Cody & Strummer)-morning
Knee good

Wednesday-Walk 2 miles (Strummer & Cody)-morning
Agility practice at B.E.-Lola
Knee bad

Thursday-Swim at Rez (about 30 minutes back and forth parallel to shoreline,
still not feeling in shape enough to do the course)-morning
Strummer's agility class w/ Joy-1/2 hour private-evening
Knee bad

Friday-2 mile walk (Strummer & Cody)-morning
Agility practice at B.E.-Strummer/dogwalk-morning
Agility practice at B.E.-Strummer/dogwalk-evening
Knee better

Saturday-3 mile walk (Strummer & Cody)-morning
Knee good

Sunday-3 mile walk (Strummer & Cody)-morning
Mountain biking-2 1/4 hours, over 12 miles, West Mag-afternoon
Knee good

Swim-3,000 yards (approx.), 1 1/2 hours
Bike-12 miles (off road, elevation), 2 1/4 hours
Run/Walk-2 miles, 1/2 hour

Total: 4 1/4 hours

Walking: 13 miles, approx. 4 hours

Not a great week for tri training but I did a lot of walking. My knee acted up, probably due to the hiking, so I didn't run as much as I would have liked and I missed Friday night swim practice due to being exhausted and needing to get up early Saturday morning. I'm hoping to have 7-9 hours of training per week and this was only 4 1/4. I'm not counting my walking as part of my tri training but I am keeping track of it because it effects my knee and my training so I need to track it to get the full picture. Hoping to get in more swim yardage this coming week, we'll see how it goes.

Friday, June 26, 2009

His heart couldn't...Beat It

Wow, yesterday was not a good day for ageing celebrity icons. Farrah Fawcett sure picked a bad day to check out, kind of like having your birthday on Christmas. Or maybe it was a good day depending on how her survivors feel about media attention.

I was never a big Michael Jackson fan except for the Jackson 5 when I was a kid. One of my best friends had all their 45's and we'd play them until they had no grooves left. When I was around 7 or 8 I remember winning a game of musical chairs at said friend's birthday party and the song she played was by the Jackson 5. Don't ask me how I can remember that and I can't remember where I put my prescription sunglasses. Seriously, they've been gone for almost a week and the sun has finally come out. I lost my keys once, well way more than once, but they were gone for forever and finally turned up inside one of my bike shoes. So yeah, who knows if I'll ever see those glasses again. Anyway, my friend later confessed that she'd rigged the musical chairs game so I would win. At first I was mad but I quickly realized that having the sort of friend who will cheat for you at musical chairs is maybe a pretty good thing to have in life. Maybe if Michael Jackson had had more friends like that as a kid things might have gone better for him.

One other thing I liked and respected about Michael was how he broke through MTV's racial barriers. For those who might be too young to know, prior to his Thriller video MTV played pretty much no black artists whatsoever. Maybe they did once at 3:00 a.m. on a Thursday but for the most part black artists were absent from the airways. I was not a big MTV fan at the time but my friend was and I remember her making a big deal about the 'Thriller' video debut on MTV. We huddled in front of her tiny portable t.v. that you had to smack the side of if you wanted to adjust the volume in her dorm room my freshman year of college and watched the historic debut. It was also a groundbreaking video because it had bits of 'movie' type story mixed in with the music video part. And though I wasn't a fan of his music I had to admit I'd never seen or heard anything like it, especially the dancing. And the video opened the flood gates for black artists and the rest is history.

The rest of his life? Part of me sees him as being a terrible victim of an abusive parent and feels sorry for him. And the other probably bigger part of me feels like 'ick'. For better or worse the world will certainly be a little less weird for his passing.

Strummy doing 'The Thriller'

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lake Isabelle

It's a bit early in the season for hiking at high altitude but I was hankering to hit the high country and with predictions of high 80's for Boulder I thought a trip to the Indian Peaks Wilderness area would be a great escape from the heat in town. I wanted to take all 3 dogs, or rather I felt bad at the idea of leaving someone behind, but Jonny wasn't having it so we only took Strummer. When we got there and I realized the trail conditions were 90% packed snow I was wishing we'd left him home as well. It would have been fine if we could have taken him off leash but dogs must be leashed in Wilderness Areas. This wouldn't have been a problem except that Strummer's method of getting to the bottom of a 4' tall snow drift is to take a flying leap off the top which is super fun when he's attached to your waist and you have a gimpy knee. I didn't think to bring my Yax Trax so the going was a bit slippy slidey and what is normally an easy peasy 2 hour or so hike turned into 3 hours and 40 minutes minus the 15-20 minutes we spent at Lake Isabelle once we finally got there. It was a beautiful day though and so far my knee seems to be holding up after the effort. I was a little worried with the unstable footing but so far so good. At one point Jonny decided to take a shortcut up a nearly vertical slope and I was practically crawling on hands and knees and unsure if I would make it either to the top or back down but somehow I did. I'm hoping I didn't overdo it.

The creek was running full tilt.

It's maybe hard to tell from the photo but that hole in the snow just above the trees is a roaring waterfall. We hiked over the top of it to get to the lake but there was no way to get a closer view of it.

Cool little snow bridge

At least somebody was happy to be hiking in the snow.

Worth the 2 hour slog through the snow, view of Lake Isabelle.

Meditating at 10,875 feet.

Most people come home from 3 hour 40 minute hikes in the snow at 10,000 feet with a trashed dog that leaves them in peace for the rest of the day. I hate those people. Little bastard didn't even nap in the car on the way home.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Off to the races

After much internal argument and debate about what if anything to do about a triathlon race schedule this summer I decided on the Fat Tire Triathlon at the end of August. I did this race as part of a relay back in 2005 and as a solo effort a year or two before that. The year I ran the full tri it had rained so much before the race that they had to reroute the bike course off of the single track so that the trails weren't trashed. The course went out and back on a dirt road. So I thought it would be fun to finally get to do the single track course as part of the race. I pre-rode the course before race day so I've ridden it before and it's beautiful. The race organizers put together a nice little video of the course so you can see the trails if you're interested:

I'm surprised more races don't do this, especially the off road ones. It gives you a great feel of what you're in for and is a good selling point for your race if you've got a nice scenic course.

I wanted to do the Indian Peaks Triathlon that I did a couple of years ago but decided against it for a number of reasons. The main reason being that the race is now run by a different guy and I don't like the new race director for a number of reasons. Also he raised the price of the race and given the state of the economy this really really pissed me off. I thought that took some nerve especially since many race directors are lowering their prices this year or at the very least not raising prices. So this year I'll go to a USDAA trial instead. That's the great thing about summer in Colorado, there's always plenty to do.

I'm hoping to have the discipline to log all my training and report it here on a weekly basis. It's funny to think that the main reason I started to blog was to force myself to record my training regularly and somehow that went right out the window. But record keeping is important and here's why. When I went to the Rez on Thurs. for my morning swim workout I got about 1/4 of the way and realized I was getting out of breath. At first I thought I was being silly and tried to talk myself into continuing but I soon felt like I had no business being out there and headed back to shore. I made it back no problem but it took me a while to catch my breath. When I got into work I checked the calendar and realized it had been over 4 weeks since I'd last been swimming! In my head I was thinking it had been maybe 2 or 3 so I need to keep track of things better. If I'd realized that I'd been off for so long I would have done a few pool workouts before heading back to the open water.

Hopefully now with money invested in a race I'll be more disciplined with my training and record keeping. The good thing about this race is that I don't have to follow any strict training program. I can do all the stuff I would do in the summer anyway and as long as I get in 7-9 hours a week I should be fine but the added pressure of the race should ensure that I get my butt out of bed to go to the Rez rather than rolling over and sleeping in when I feel like it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I want it good now

I'm glad last week is over is all I'm saying. I had 3 fashion disasters (I had to explain to 2 different people that no I don't have the day off work, I do actually go to the office dressed like this), one diagnosis for a possible root canal/dead tooth and started off Thursday by stepping into the toilet. Then there was the fun of dealing with day after day of thunderstorms and hail and the ensuing freaking out of dogs. I was seriously considering Vallium for everybody, especially me. Or especially Strummer. Either way.

The one good thing about last week was that my new camcorder finally came. I decided to keep it old school and ended up ordering a Canon miniDV camcorder. I was a little bit nauseous forking over the $219 because I've been not spending money on Stuff but it's such a critical part of my agility training and I'm not to a point where I want or need to give that up. I looked up the computer requirements for the software for the Flip Mino which a couple people recommended and my computer is indeed not fast enough. I also saw some reviews of the camera by people with older laptops and they reported skipping/jumping type problems with the uploaded video. I don't want to buy a new computer at the moment so all my old school equipment will have to do for now. I'm hoping that by the time I'm ready for a new computer they'll have some of the glitches of the HD camcorder technology worked out too.

I've got some video of Strum's dogwalk practice from the weekend and I think it looks worse than my old camera but maybe it's only a matter of tweaking some settings. I went through the manual for once and thought I'd set everything as they suggested but maybe I'm missing something somewhere. I used the same software and quality level to upload it so I think the problem is at the camera level.

I've been having a fair bit of frustration with Strum's dogwalk at the moment. It's good, it's great, it's a disaster and no consistency from practice to practice. I lowered his backyard plank/table to 3'-6" and I've been working on little proofing things and fading the treat gizmo. He's nearly perfect at home and usually is good at the field on the real dogwalk if I have the gizmo. But take the gizmo away and things quickly fall apart. So I've been trying to gradually fade the gizmo in the yard by doing 2 reps rewarding with it, then 2 reps with the gizmo in place but rewarding with a thrown toy (ball or tug) then moving the gizmo away and using only the toy or tug. The practice session shown on video below ended up being 9/12 or 75%, not great. The first 5 reps were good then once he realized I had a ball in my hand he started getting overexcited and leaping off the side. Even on the reps he got he was looking at me and not running straight ahead which is not what I want. I rewarded it because I was happy that he wasn't leaping but after watching the video I've decided I don't like that performance. To prevent it I start out the session standing well past the end of the plank so he's focusing forward on me then gradually moving back and throwing the ball while he's still on the plank so he's looking forward for it. He was 6/6 on Tuesday and 5/6 this morning and he's running forward nicely.

I apologize profusely for the tie dye fashion disaster. It's my shirt from DOCNA Champs. and for some reason I really like it even though I'm not a fan of tie dye. I had no idea how appalling it looked and I didn't think about what I was wearing when I made the video. Sad thing is I'll probably still wear it. In my defense there were some way worse outfits at the NE Regionals (long black baggy shorts and black calf length sock-yikes!). I'm going to be extremely careful of my clothes choices if I decide to go to Regionals this year and they are live streaming it. I can't imaging that USDAA would bother with our dinky Regionals but you never know.

Strum has a terrible fall near the end when the plank slips out from under him. He was o.k. I was not. I hesitated to post it but thought it might be a good warning to other people trying this method. If your plank isn't securely attached make sure it's stable at each rep! I had him do 2 more reps after he fell just to be sure he wasn't freaked out and he wasn't. I didn't count those reps in my final tally.

I'm still resisting the urge to use stride regulators and other props. I hate the idea of yet more stuff to fade. If I can't get him successful out at the field I may give in and use a stride regulator for a few reps. I've tried this already and he's fine with it there but take it away and the behavior doesn't necessarily stick. It's been a while though and may be worth revisiting.

First though I'm going to experiment more with turns and especially flips away to a tunnel. I've noticed that when we practice turns he's significantly more successful and maybe for him this is the easier scenario while running straight is harder. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I was hoping to get up to the high country for some hiking today but instead opted for the closer to home, 12 minute drive option of the foothills just above Boulder. I only took Strummer with me because he's a great hiking dog. He sticks to the trail and never goes very far ahead of me. Mostly he wants to chase a stick or pine cone until I get bored of tossing them to him. I felt bad leaving Cody home, he loves this hike but he can be a pain in the ass because he likes to lag behind and sniff or go off on his own walkies if he finds a little side trail. He has an excellent recall on the trails but I hate having to constantly call him and keep my eye on him. I did not feel bad about leaving Lola home. Her prey drive is through the roof and she has no regard for her body. Even at 8 years old she will go crashing down steep embankments and flying off tall rock ledges so for her safety and that off all rodent like woodland creatures I typically leave her home. Strum was a perfect boy on the trail and spent most of the hike off leash.

Flying Stick!!!


How many times have I posted this view from the top of Skunk Canyon? Oh well, here I go again. It was a beautiful hike into and back out of the canyon, short but sweet. A huge bird that I thought was a Golden Eagle swooped very near me as it was being hassled by a smaller bird. I thought I saw a bit of red or orange making me doubt it was a Golden Eagle but it seemed way too big for a red-tailed hawk and that's about the end of my bird knowledge as far as what that bird looked like.

View of the Boulder Flatirons. So cliche I know but oh well, I can't help myself.

Wildflowers were fantabulous.

Poppies, poppies (she cackles in her best Wicked Witch of the West voice)

Dang it, it's thundering again. At least I got a nice hike in first. Glad I didn't go up high. Haven't been swimming all week due to the weather since all evening workouts are now outside. Come to think of it I don't think I swam last week either. Hopefully I can hit the Rez next week or I may forget how to swim altogether.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hall Ranch

I was hoping to make it up to the Blue Sky Trail that we did a few weeks ago in Fort Collins but the weather is hell bent on being scary and unpredictable and I didn't want to drive for an hour only to have to maybe turn around and drive back again in a hail storm or dodging tornadoes and lightning. But I badly wanted to ride so we opted for Hall Ranch which is a mere 20 minutes away. It's a popular trail due to its proximity to Boulder but today the crowds were not bad at all.

The trail goes through loads of meadows that were lush green and bursting with wildflowers due to all the crazy rain we've been getting.

I don't think of Hall as being any kind of big deal but when I take the time to stop and look at the scenery I always find some new view or pile of rocks to admire.

The only bad thing about the ride was that it was done with in 1 1/2 hours. We could have done a second loop or gone up a different trail but I was hungry and worried about the ever changing weather. Sure enough by the time we were settled into a table at a covered outdoor patio at a Boulder restaurant the thunder came and we enjoyed a cozy lunch while the storm raged around us.

The moisture and cool temps. day after day after day have been great but the thunder, lightning, hail and tornadoes are getting old. Poor Lola, it seems she will spend this summer cowering in the bathroom and Strummer will spend it curled up in my lap. And I think I may very well burn out my lawnmower.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Are we having fun yet?

I took the Trouble Twins to a Fun Match last Sunday to work on various training issues. It was at a place called Riverstone Agility and we'd never been there before so it was a great opportunity to get Strum on some new equipment at a new place. Also the owner generously gave all the money to Western Border Collie Rescue so it was good to go out and support them. I do the occasional reference check or home visit for them and they're an excellent group. And no, I didn't come home with more dogs than I left with though at one point I was ready to come home with less dogs than I left with. One good thing about Strummer, he's put me off wanting any more dogs which is good because I was sorely tempted by this little sweet pea. She knew all the moves-gave me that look, crawled in my lap so she could reach my face to give me lots of puppy kisses, acted cute at every and all opportunities. But I resisted though was tempted to see if they'd take a trade-in on Strummer. Oh, I keed, I keed, I would never part with Mr. Guaranteed Personality.

C'mon, you know you want me

We'll start with Lola since she was the success story of the day. My goal for her was to practice the table and she was perfect, flew right on no problemo and stayed until I released her. There was a curved tunnel next to the table so I was able to
send her through and do a bunch of table/tunnel reps. sometimes rewarding on the table, other times after she'd done a tunnel then the table again. The thrill of the sardines seems to be wearing off for her though so I think I'll try something else next time. And just when I was finally getting used to the smell. Her weaves and contacts were perfect. I think her only mistake for 2 runs was a knocked bar on a serpentine and those are so rare for her that I don't worry over them. She was a perfect little rockstar.

Strummer on the other hand. Actually his first run was not so terrible aside from some missed dogwalks. A-frame and weaves were perfect, teeter was a little iffy and I should have had him redo it. I can't remember how many dogwalks I had him do but it seemed like a lot (4 or maybe 6) and his success rate was low. Can't remember exactly, maybe 4/6, and I was depressed about that.

The course was nice, there were plenty of opportunities for modifying it for your needs or there were a Starters and Masters course nested if you didn't want to worry about being creative and making up your own. You can see the course map here.

I ran the novice course first with Strummer and he did a fairly nice job. I got in a front cross between #5 and #6 and I think everything else went to plan except for the #14 tunnel to the #15 dogwalk. For some reason Strum kept insisting on the tunnel and finally I had to send him back through the tunnel exit so I could get him on the dogwalk.

I should have run the novice course for his seocnd run because we weren't there to work on handling, just obstacles and especially the contacts but I thought I'd give it a try. Trouble was there was a storm coming and some distant thunder during our warm-up for his second run sent his brain straight out of the building. The ring was empty of dogs while people changed the jump heights so I decided to use the practice jump and on his second jump he went flying over the jump and charged straight into the ring even though there were no dogs running there leading me to believe that his desire to chase other dogs doing agility is perhaps in part a stress releaser. All along I'd figured it was a prey drive/self control issue but now I think there is that other dimension to it as well which makes the job of dealing with it all that much harder. Anyway, it was a challenge to get him to not lose his head at the dogs in the ring while we waited our turn which was a huge contrast to his first run of the morning where he was calm and focused. On this video you can see how relaxed he is (at least for him) as we enter the ring for his first run (scroll to mid-page for the video then we are at the very end).

We started off with the dogwalk and I can't even remember how many I had to make him do before he finally got it right. When he did I called him to me to collect his reward so he knew for sure that yes, that is what I wanted. I was out of position after the dogwalk so the handling after that point was a mess, poor guy was so confused as was I. It's always a challenge for me to get back into the flow of the course at fun matches after I stop to reward and get out of position. He did manage a nice A-frame again and weaves so it wasn't a total loss but yikes what a mess in general. Poor guy, I'm not sure if he was unhinged by the thunder or by being in his crate for over an hour while other dogs were running or what. I parked away from the ring with his crate facing away from the ring but still I imagine he could still hear to some extent. Also, there was a severe storm system on it's way that eventually turned into tornadoes in some areas. We were home way before the tornadoes started but maybe he could feel the bad weather coming and coupled with the thunder it upset him. He is o.k. doing some things outside with thunder and there were just a few isolated claps far away but still I guess it was all a bit much for him. He was a bag of nerves all day and for a while I was thinking maybe agility competitions are going to be too much for him if he's going to be a wreck for the whole day but then I found out about the tornadoes and even though they were far away (15-20 miles I think) perhaps the unsettled weather systems were upsetting him. Lola was off her head all day as well so hopefully that's all it was.

Strummer has no more trials until August so we have plenty of time to work on that dogwalk but that match makes me feel like I'm beating my head against a wall. My new video camera is supposed to arrive today so I can go over some practice sessions I taped before my old one started to croak. Trouble is there is such inconsistency from session to session, one day he's brilliant, the next it's like he has no clue. It's hard to say if he simply needs more practice or if what I'm doing is never going to be effective and I need to try some other way. I have a few ideas of things to try and maybe it's time to move ahead with them.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

West Mag-nificent

Finally a nice weekend day with sunshine and no dog agility so that means a trip up to the West Magnolia trails above the mountain town of Nederland.

I think I'm the only person on the planet who can somehow manage to look dorky riding a mountain bike on beautiful singletrack trails.

All this lovely singletrack just a 40 minute drive away.

Shoshone Trail heading through beautiful meadows that are normally full of wildflowers and I thought they'd be particularly spectacular what with the ridiculous amount of rain we've been getting but I think it's a bit early in the season for this windy meadow up at around 9000'.

View of the Continental Divide from the parking lot.

Pretty wildflowers.

I was at an agility fun match this morning but that will have to wait for another post.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

DOCNA Trial, USDAA Match

Lots of agility fun this past weekend in the form of a DOCNA trial for Strummer and Lola and a USDAA non-titling match for Strummer. In short the dogs did great, especially Miss Lola who had lovely fast Standard runs and picked up Q's in both of them. She's the only 22" Vet dog so of course she is first but she was also first of the whole masters class for one of her runs, 3rd for the other so not too shabby though admittedly this was a very small trial. She ran Traditional Gamblers as well and though she didn't quite eek out the gamble she had a beautiful opening. All her runs were fast & happy, hit all her contacts, weaves, etc. Couldn't ask for anything more.

Strum's A-frame was 3/3 and his dogwalk was 4/6. He missed one in Gamblers so I had him redo twice and he was perfect, the other was in Standard and since DOCNA allows training I took the E, redid the dogwalk and got a nice solid hit. There was a bit of running amok at the end of his first Standard run but he got his head together for the second one. I think he thought the teeter was a dogwalk and he flew to the end which rattled me a bit and led to an off course while I was distracted but an otherwise nice run aside from the danged dogwalk which was just before the last jump and we all know how that one sometimes goes. He had the worst leap I've ever seen-awful-and I couldn't redo because he'd already crossed the finish jump. This sort of thing is up to the judge because once I had it happen with Cody and the judge told me later that he would have let me redo the dogwalk. I asked this judge and she thought a moment and said no, I think you're through. Which is fair enough but it never hurts to ask. He didn't get the gamble either but had a beautiful opening, lovely weaves, hit his A-frame, took everything according to plan.

Strummer did have issues with keeping his head around the ring and I had to put in some work to keep him sane and focused. This ring had no fencing or visual barriers, just a piece of tape to mark off the boundary and this makes a huge difference. But we need to work on this and there's no time like the present.

The video is awful since it was shot from a tripod (no human to pan the shots). I feel bad posting it but it shows the running contacts and I even pulled some clips of the contacts and showed them in slow motion at the end of the runs for anyone who's interested. It's only video of Strummer, no Lola I'm afraid.


On Sunday I opted to enter Strummer only in a non-titling USDAA match. Why enter a non-titling trial? Well for one thing it was so cheap, just $5 a run which is cheaper than a fun match or course run-throughs around here. True you can't bring toys or treats in the ring but still this was a great opportunity to give Strum some ring experience and not blow a ton of money. The judge did allow a restricted amount of training in the ring, ie you could redo an obstacle once if you wanted. Only problem was for the dogwalk you had to bring him back around to the start which I opted not to do because I felt it would confuse and stress him too much. But it was nice to have the option.

The trial site was probably the most scenic I've ever been to-a beautiful park with lush grass and lots of shade trees that backed right up to Garden of the Gods with Pikes Peak looming right behind that. It was gorgeous. There were so many big mature trees in the neighborhood that I was able to crate Strum in the car for the whole day. What a relief not to have to wrangle with the EZ-up. Unfortunately they can't have regular trials there because there was insufficient parking for a full trial.

Honestly, I wish there were more opportunities like this in agility. Cheap entry fee, small classes so no waiting around forever, people not stressing over Q's and titles and yet it felt like a real competition. There were cool toys for prizes for runs that would have been Q's which I think are preferable to ribbons. I was done with 4 runs before 2:00! It was perfect if you ask me.

Strum continued to struggle with the keeping his cool around the ring (no visual barriers again) for the first couple of runs but as the day wore on he finally calmed down a bit. I guess after 2 days and all those runs I finally had worn him down plus I think he was getting used to his warm-up routine.

Gamblers was first and was a bit wild but he listened well for the most part. I used the class mainly to work on the dogwalk. I think he was 2/4 (maybe was 3/4), hard to remember and though I set the camera up on a tripod I forgot to turn it on before our run.

The Standard course was well over his head. The courses were supposed to be Advanced level but they were more like Masters courses. My plan was to ask him for what I felt he could do and not push him for what I felt he couldn't and in the end I thought he did a nice job considering how tough it was for him. His dogwalk was legal but there was a leap which doesn't meet my criteria so I verbally marked it. His A-frame was lovely and he even nicely managed a flip away to a tunnel which we've hardly if ever worked on. His weaves were gorgeous, teeter was good, did a great job with a serpentine. He flew off the table though, something he's done before and something we've been working on though obviously not enough. He got back up on it no problem and even let me lead out a bit while the judge was counting. He had an off course at a place I knew would be tough for him so I couldn't feel too bad about it and he dropped a bar in the opening which I wasn't thrilled about.

Snooker was interesting. It was a somewhat confusing course because there were several tunnel/jump combo's to keep track of and one of the reds was also part of the #6 tunnel/jump combo. I figured out a nice flowing course and of course the crazy wee monkey knocks the very first red bar. Ugh. Somehow I managed to keep it together and make up an entirely new course with all the crazy combo's and I made it to #4 in the closing when the whistle blew. Huh, wuh? I stood there in confusion and then the judge said 'oops, never mind, keep going'. So I did then the buzzer went but he said 'it's o.k., keep going' and I made it to that darn red that was part of #6 and as I came up on it my brain said 'no, it's a red, danger will rogers, don't go over that' for just enough of a split second to lose the Strum man into a tunnel. Judge said I could keep going though so we finished off and got to practice a tricky entry into the #7 weaves.

After the run the judge said he'd made a mistake with the whistle and I could re-run up to #5 if I wanted but I told him it was o.k., we were here to train and we'd gotten in plenty of training for our run. I felt bad for Strum though, he was so confused with all the stopping and starting that he was breaking out into his stress dander by the time we finished our run. He was flying though, he sounded like a herd of galloping buffalo thundering through all those tunnels and I think the dander was as much due to overexcitement as it was to stress and confusion.

Jumpers was the highlight of the day. Again it was what I would consider a masters level course and Strum had a beautiful clean run, super crazy fast but for a wide turn at the start and a little spin on a rear cross (must work more of those) which was good enough for second place in the 22" Champ. class which was made up exclusively of Border Collies and some crazy fast ones at that. It was funny seeing his name up in the placements with some really competitive masters dogs. More importantly it was a blast running the little rocket man. He did a nice call to heel on his lead out and a beautiful lateral send so I could get in place for a front cross. What fun.

Below is some more crappy video shot from the tripod. It's just Standard and Jumpers and shorter than the other video.


This upcoming weekend there will be yet more agility for Strum and Lola. I signed them up for 2 runs of Standard at a local Fun Match. It's a benefit for Western Border Collie Rescue who I do occasional volunteer work for. If anyone local is interested in going it's this Sunday out at Riverstone Ranch and they are taking day of entries. Runs start at 10 am. Sounds like there will be a lot of rescue members there with their fosters so if you're in the market for a rescue BC this would be a great opportunity to check out the fosters. And if you see me canoodling with any of them please slap me upside the head. Much to Jonny's dismay I found out that it's Boulder County that has a 3 dog limit not the city of Boulder. Not that I'm at all up for #4, seriously I would have a break down so please do not let me near the fosters if you happen to see me there.

We're going to bust out the sardines to work on Lola's table and for Strum of course we're going to focus on contacts and calm around the ring. Should be fun, we've never been to this place before so it's a great opportunity to get Strum on some different equipment.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Camcorder Recommendations?

We had a fun weekend of agility and I'll post about that later but for now I have a more pressing issue. My JVC miniDV camcorder is at least 8 years old, maybe older I can't remember exactly when I got it, and has been acting flaky lately. After Sunday's trial I came home and tried to upload the footage I shot and the camera locked up completely with an EO4 error message. I did some internet research and found that JVC cameras are rife with this problem, whatever it is, and it seems amazing that mine lasted as long as it did based on the experiences of others. Someone was even starting a class action lawsuit because JVC apparently has known about the problem for years and done nothing about it. Not sure how the suit turned out but I did find 9 suggestions for getting the camera to work again. I tried 8 of them to no avail (didn't have a can of compressed air at home to try #9) then came up with my own idea of let's bang the camera on the ground and voila it worked like magic, camera is now up and running. However it sounds a bit sickly and I don't trust it to run for much longer so I'm in the market for a new camera. I thought I'd replace it with another miniDV and found this Canon camera but after some research found that miniDV is supposedly a dying format and I don't want to buy something that shortly will be obsolete. My next choice is a flash drive but then I can't play back my miniDV tapes that I already have and have to hope that my old JVC holds out long enough to transfer the tape to DVD's to be archived.

I've tried doing some internet research but I don't have a clue and the info. I'm getting is confusing. Some say miniDVD is best, others say it is outdated and many of the answers are gibberish to me, for example:

There is no advantage to tape anymore. If you need high capacity at cheap cost, you can get a HDD based camera.

The codecs used for HD cameras on Tape are generally well past their "use by" date, and don't produce better quality images than modern codecs, even at about twice the bitrate (Which also translates to twice the storage and performance hit while editing-- for no quality benefit.)

The question now is Flash or Hard Drive.

Uh, yeah, I don't speak that particular dialect of geek so maybe someone out in agility land can translate and/or recommend something. I don't need anything fancy, looking to spend $250-$350 max.

I don't think those cheapo HD cameras are a good choice for me because my laptop is oldish (at least 5-6 years old I think) and I don't think it can handle the high def conversions and I'm not sure how to check.