Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Post of 2011

A rare photo of all 3 hooligans.  Lola hoarding all the toys of course and Strummer looking sad about it.

SO glad the holidays are over.  I'll spare you my ranting but in general, not my favorite time of year and because the retailers and my grandmother started in on the season extra early (she started hassling me the first week of October) I had my first holiday induced breakdown before Thanksgiving and usually I can make it until the first week of December.  We had friends over to our house for X-mas and that was fun but otherwise kind of a rough holiday season.  And aside from my grandmother I don't even exchange gifts anymore.  But it's finally, finally, mercifully over and my brain can relax and heave a sigh of relief. 

I suppose I should go over the year's stats for agility and triathlon and post a wrap up for the year as well as list of goals for the future but, meh, I don't feel like it and I've already posted next year's goals back at the beginning of October.  In short as a recap, USDAA Nationals and Xterra Nationals.  Short and sweet.  And if one or both of those fall through, DOCNA Champs.  We've already qualified for that though so it's not so much of a goal as a safety school. 

I'm also teaching myself to speed read.  I've always thought I was a painfully slow reader but it turns out I'm average.  So far after a few days I'm about 50% faster but still not reading super fast.  Supposedly should take a month or so of practice to shift my brain to read without sub-vocalizing.  In the meantime I've got a ridiculous amount of books checked out from the library.  At least I had the sense to read the speed reading ones first.

The agility field is finally free of snow.  Too windy to go today, strap your chihauhaus down windy, so no agility today but starting tomorrow I've got a bunch of exercises lined up to work on our weaknesses and some that simply look fun.  My training partner is out with a broken elbow so I'll be flying solo for a while but Joy is back teaching lessons and I've got a seminar with Mary Ellen Barry and Jennifer Crank in February  so I'm not completely on my own.

The first USDAA trial of the year is in 2 weeks and the entry was so big that they changed it from 1 ring to 2.  I didn't think USDAA Nationals would be that much of a draw for the AKC-only crowd but boy was I wrong about that.  At first I was twitchy at the thought of such a busy, cramped trial.  I'm not a fan of crowds and the arena area is tight for 2 rings .  But on the other hand it will be great practice for Strummer and me for the chaotic atmosphere of USDAA Nationals and there will be snow fencing between the rings so he should be fine.  Plus they'll have crating in another building so he won't have to listen dogs doing agility all day and hopefully will be able to relax a bit more than if he was crated in the arena.

Our first USDAA trial with a Team event is in March and I've got a good team lined up for that so I'm looking forward to it.  Everybody on the team wants to go to Nationals and if we qualify we'll stay together as a team.  Of course September is a long way off but it's nice to have a plan lined up so soon.  The best part though is that we're all on the same page of it's supposed to be fun and nobody is going to get bent out of shape if we don't qualify.

Triathlon training is chugging along as well.  Swimming and running are going well but I've been slacking on the bike due to all the snow.  I finally went out on the road bike after swim practice yesterday and I won't sugar coat it, it wasn't pretty.  An average speed of 12 mph or something for only a 14 mile ride.  All I can hope for is that my cyclometer was on the fritz.  Or maybe I was overly tired from swim practice and a hike with the dogs in the morning.  The trails should be dry by next week and predicted warm temps. of 50's-60's and sunny so I'll get back to the bike.

I'm also working on a little movie with the dogs that requires training some simple little tricks.  At least I thought they were simple.  Turns out I had my casting all wrong as they each learned each other's tricks more easily than their own.  It's coming along slowly though since it's a for fun thing with little point to it and on the back burner to everything else.  Plus I need to buy some props to progress any further.

Hope everyone has a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mud Lake

Sadly I never made it to Merry Clashmas last night.  The roads were clear but due to some changes to the show's schedule, namely changing the start time from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. and adding another support band I figured it would optimistically be 11:30 before the Nuns of Brixton took the stage and more likely could be closer to midnight which is WAY past my bedtime.  Plus the support band they added was a Screeching Weasel cover band and having been friends with Screeching Weasel back in the day I endured more of that band than any human should have to.  Not going to relive that at the ripe old age of 47.

Ben Weasel circa 1990 at their 'last' show the first time they broke up.  They went on to reform and break up for at least another 10 years, maybe more, but that was the last time I saw them since I moved to Boulder shortly after this show.  And yes, that is a Madonna tattoo.

For some reason the band thought it would be a good idea to dress in ladies lingerie.  And a friend of mine thought it would be a good idea to bring broccoli to the show and throw it at them.  I guess somehow it all made sense at the time.

I have even more revealing photos but I'll spare you as well as the band members who may have respectable lives these days.

Um, where was I?

Oh yes, we bugged out on the Nuns of Brixton because Indian food with a group of friends at the civilized hour of 6:00 p.m. sounded like a much more realistic plan.  We'll see the Nuns another time.  Instead I sang a few lines of 'Police and Thieves' before falling dead asleep in a pile of drool at around 10 pm.

The other good thing about this decision was that I jumped out of bed bright and early and full of energy for the first ski outing of the season.  We met our friends who were also supposed to go to the concert with us but who also bugged out in favor of Indian food and who were also happy to wake up without a screaming headache.

Mud Lake, just outside of Nederland

Trail conditions were awesome after Thursday's storm.  I think Ned got 27" or so.

I'm usually a bit wobbly that first time out but I did o.k. today considering all the twists and turns through the woods.

Finally some pictures of Boulder Canyon taken on the drive back home.

Sure beats battling the crowds at the mall or the airport.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

You know what they said? Well some of it was true.

The part about the snow was true.  The part about the 4-8"?  Not so much.

It took me 1 1/4 hours to shovel 14" of snow off half my driveway, sidewalk and various paths around my house.  Shhh, don't tell my chiropractor.  I think another inch fell while I was shoveling.

Shoveling is good cross training, right?

Lola has some words for the weather men/women.

We can play ball?

Please throw ball?  I'll be ever so good.

Watering Can is a fun game for both summer and winter.

This post's title is a quote from The Clash in honor of Joe Strummer's passing on this day.  I'll leave you with a little Clash in his honor.

Police and Thieves

The Nuns of Brixton's 'Merry Clashmas' show is on in Denver tomorrow and I'll cry if the roads are too icy to go.  But not as much as that video made me sob, sheesh.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Playing in the dirt

There are last little bits of snow that stubbornly refuse to melt so the trails have been mostly impassable for bikes.  I've been running on them but the mix of mud, icy snowpack and crusty snow don't make for good biking and it's bad for the trails to ride them when they're muddy.  But yesterday was so warm, no wind, I had to get a ride in so I grumpily hit the dirt roads out east on the plains.  But grumpy soon turned to happy when I remembered that the plains have their charms.

Beautiful views

 Haystack Mountain

The other nice thing about the dirt roads is that you can ride and not worry about technical skills.  Was nice to let the brain relax, mind wander and ride, ride, ride.  I pushed up the hills in a harder gear than I normally do for a nice strength workout and did some Fartlek on the flats (sprint for a bit then easy catch your breath then sprint again, whee, fun.).  The sun was warm, the winds were calm and the dirt was dry, inviting and clear of snow.
Plus I made a new friend.

I signed up for Xterra Curt Gowdy and Xterra Lory a couple of weeks ago since they had an early bird, package deal reduced price for the 2 of them.  Xterra Curt Gowdy up in Wyoming is 6 months away.  Seems like a lifetime right now but I know it'll be here in a blink of an eye so it's time to get back into a more regular training schedule.  I managed 3 masters workouts, 3 runs and 1 bike ride this past week, not bad for December.  I think it's a good idea to back off the biking as I work on my running which is my big weak spot right now.  I'm a fair weather biker and I don't like the trainer so it'll be all about the run these next couple of months.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Fun with DOCNA

Finally some interesting DOCNA courses this past weekend, at least in Standard.  We even had the back side of jump in one Standard course!  Very fun.  I screwed it up by not rotating far enough out of the front cross and sending Strum to the tunnel rather than the #13 dogwalk but still was fun to have the challenge.

 Overall a fun trial and some good stuff from the Strum man.  Nice dogwalks, he only got called on one and while none of them were that horrible outright leap there were some that I wish were nicer but overall good.  All his A-frames were pretty fabulous, didn't get called on any teeters but some weren't so fabulous.  DOCNA is very generous with acceptable teeter performance.  Still struggling with weave poles but he got quite a few this weekend.  Only 2 bars down all weekend and of course they had to be on an otherwise perfect run.  At least they were on the same run. 

Saturday didn't look so great on paper with only 1/5 Q's but really I couldn't complain about any of the runs except Jumpers at the end of a very long day.  It was after 6:00 and the 5th run of the day and both of us were tired.  I pulled him off of one jump then he ran past a jump on a long straight line at the end, something he did more as a baby but if I let up at the end he'll do that sometimes still.  They're talking about eliminating a standard run from February's DOCNA trial so the day won't be so long and if it turns out they can't then I won't enter Jumpers because it's too long of a day and silly for me to run when I'm so tired and out of focus.

We made up for it Sunday though with 4/5 Q's and some really nice runs, 1st places in Standard, Jumpers, and Trigility.

Strummer's 1st place Jumpers run from Sunday

Was happy to pull off that rear cross between #11 and #12.  Maybe practicing those rears is finally paying off.  Otherwise nothing too exciting here, DOCNA's typical pinwheel to serpentine to pinwheel Jumpers course.  At least the Standard courses had some interesting challenges.

Of course the only Standard run I don't have on tape is his perfect 1st place finish but oh well, here's the map anyway.

I put a blind cross between jumps 13 and 14 and it worked great since I was easily able to complete the cross and pick him up on my left before he took off for #13.  It's the only blind cross on a jump that I attempted for the whole trial because it was the only place that seemed a good choice.

The Standard runs I do have video for each have some minor errors, 2 dropped bars on the first video (Standard Rd. 4 map) and Strum misunderstood my flailing arms on the second video (Standard Rd. 1 map) and thought he was supposed to come up on my left after jump 14.  It's tempting to blame that on the blind cross from the other run but this run was before the run with the blind and aside from a few exercises at the seminar I haven't done them at all on a jump.  Was simply a miscommunication.  I don't flail my arms nearly as much as I used to but old habits die hard.  Even Jonny noticed it on the tape and thought it was confusing to the poor dog.

Standard Runs

Overall I'm pleased but definitely room for improvement.  So much snow and cold right now though, don't think the practice field will be clear anytime soon.  We were supposed to get 1-2" of snow on Friday night and I woke up to 4-5" in my yard and it was still snowing.  Almost rolled over in bed thinking I didn't want to drive but it's only 18-20 mins. to Boulder County Fairgrounds on a good day so I decided to chance it.  Roads were fine, just snow packed so I drove nice and slow and thankfully the few other drivers out on the road didn't do anything stupid so it was no problem, about 33-34 mins. and I was there.  I walked Strummer around the grounds before the trial started and the snow was all sparkly and magical.  I don't mind it if I don't have to drive in it.  It stayed in the 20's all day but the sun came out and the ground was so warm, was shorts weather a couple days ago, so the roads were clear for the drive home.  Thankfully my Jan. and Feb. trials are also at Boulder County Fairgrounds so it's not a long drive if it does snow.

I had a dinner party on Saturday night after that long long day, was so tired and was late to the party but I couldn't miss the 2nd Annual Soup Off.  Last year the competition was casual with no voting or prizes but this year we had official ballots and prizes.  There was some controversy over the scoring and some possible shenanigans from the Russian judge but after the smoke cleared Jonny took 1st place in the vegetarian category for his Sweet Potato Chipotle soup.  Was too spicy for me but I gave him high marks anyway.  Was a very fun night with our mountain biking friends but I didn't have time to shower and felt obliged to explain my grubbiness and (hopefully) faint aroma of horse arena.  Everybody else scrubbed up nicely and dressed all fashion forward but they forgave me, at least to my face anyway.  I only made it until 9:30 though then pure exhaustion set in and I had to make my apologies and go home.  I think the only reason I was able to get up at all on Sunday morning was that I jolted awake from a bad nightmare about the dogs and couldn't have gone back to sleep if I tried.

Somebody at the trial asked me if Strummer was neutered which I thought was a strange question at first.  When I told oh hells to the yes he is neutered she was disappointed and I realized she wanted to breed one of her dogs to him.  I told her it's just as well, he's crazy and she said she likes crazy.  But still.  I love Strummer to pieces, wouldn't part with him for the world and I love his personality but I'm telling you, the world is not big enough for any more Strummers.  Plenty of fast Border Collies that would make great agility dogs sitting in rescue anyway, no need to pump out any more onto the planet.

There was a winter Farmer's Market/holiday gift market going on in another building next door to the arena and on Sunday someone reminded me about the awesome tamales from last year.  Mmmm, vegetarian spinach tamales, sooo good on a freezing winter's day.  I brought some into the stands to watch the Starters class and soon everyone left to go get their own they smelled so good.  Have to remember that for both days next year.

Next trial is USDAA in January.  It'll be my first time ever entering the Tournament events in the Championship division - very exciting.  Otherwise we're back in Starters.  Not very exciting.  Now if only the snow would melt so I can get back to the dogwalk and weave poles.

Final Stats

Specialist Traditional Gamblers Saturday Q-2nd place

Specialist Standard Sunday Q-1st place

Specialist Strategic Time Gamble Q - 3rd place

Specialist Trigility Q - 1st place

Specialist Jumpers Q - 1st place

No titles that I'm aware of.


100%, not sure how many we did, somewhere between 8-10

7/7 - 100%, though some were close

Weave pole entries
Can't remember exactly.

Bars down
2 bars down, both in the same run one right after the other.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Crazy Dog Lady Goes to a Swim Meet

Some of the masters coaches got together and decided to have a swim meet for the beginners.  And while I'm hardly a beginner, I've never been in a swim meet before and the meet was open to anybody who wanted to go.  As it turned out plenty of fast, experienced folks turned up.  I wasn't going to go because I still don't have my flip turns figured out and I hadn't been swimming a whole lot the past few weeks.  But peer pressure from lane mates and the chance to do more diving off the blocks won out in the end.  It turns out I like diving from the blocks now that I sort of kind of know what to do.  And it was free so what did I have to lose?

It was funny how many people were nervous before the meet.  It was just supposed to be a fun thing to give people a taste for what a swim meet is like.  I wasn't nervous but was looking forward to seeing what my times would be for the various distances and my goal was to swim each one as hard as possible.  I signed up for the 200 yard freestyle, 100 yard free, 50 yard free and 200 yard relay (each person swims 50 yards).  200 yards was the farthest distance they had and only 4 of us signed up for it.  We had to put down estimated times for each event so they could seed us into waves and I grossly underestimated all my swim times because I didn't realize how much time you save by diving in.

In the end I had a blast and was shocked at how fast my times were.  It's long been a pipe dream of mine to swim 100 yards in under 1:30.  Best I've ever done in practice is maybe 1:34 and that was with some serious drafting.  But there's no drafting at the swim meet, you have the lane all to yourself so I figured I'd be a little bit slower than in practice and estimated my 100 yard time at 1:40.  In the end I swam it in 1:26.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I got out of the pool and saw my time.  Now this is not a fast time for a real swimmer but I was so happy to finally break that 1:30 barrier.

The other great victory for me was the 200 yards.  I guessed I'd swim it in 3:40 and swam it in 3:09, beating a guy that usually swims in front of me at workouts by a whopping 10 seconds.  And he was doing flip turns.  He was in the lane next to me and led for the first 100 yards then I noticed I was catching up to him and next thing I knew I was ahead and he never passed me again.  And I had the disadvantage of being in the end lane where the wall creates extra drag.  So happy with that result as well.

I'd guessed 45 seconds for the 50 yards and came in at 38 secs and in 2 place of 5 women which surprised me since I'm not a sprinter.

Our relay team was randomly assigned and came in 2nd out of 3 teams.  My 50 was 38 secs. for that one as well.

Afterwards a bunch of us went out for dinner and I had a fun time hanging out with my lane mates.  It turns out that when you're a hypnotherapist people are much more interested in your job than when you're a structural engineer.  And nobody mentioned dog poop the whole night.

Final Stats:

200 yard freestyle
2/2 women
3/4 overall
(1st place was 3:01.42, 4th place was 3:19.89)

100 yard freestyle
2/3 women
(1st place was 1:03.34, 3rd place was 1:33.9)

50 yard freestyle
38.14 secs
2/5 women
(1st place was 36.86, 3rd was 40.01, 4th was 42.86, 5th was 43.20)

200 yard freestyle relay
2/3 teams (1 male, 3 females on our team)
my leg was 38 secs.

Maybe pigs will fly and I'll do another one some day.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Chicken Hypnotist to the Stars

Don't ask me how I found this.  Criminal Minds fans will recognize Mathew Gray Gubler who plays the geeky/brainy Dr. Spencer Reid.  'Hypnotizing' a chicken.

As an aside Criminal Minds has been on t.v. since 2005 but I only just discovered it maybe 6-8 months ago when I found that they play old episodes for hours on end, sometimes on 2 channels at the same time.  It's seriously twisted for network television.  You can witness many dark and disturbing atrocities like a taxidermist  killing people and scooping out their eyeballs so his handiwork will be more life like or a psychopath who chops off his victims fingers then force feeds them back to his victim or Gavin Rossdale trying to sing 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' while dressed as a vampire.  It's not quite as good as Dexter but a reasonable substitute for those of us who don't want to pay for Showtime and if you go turn your t.v. on it's probably playing on some channel.

Anyway, back to the chicken.  Speaking from the point of view of a hypnotist I wouldn't exactly call that hypnosis but then what is it?  The best explanation I've been able to find is tonic immobility, basically a 'deer in the headlights' type of response.  But the explanation doesn't totally fit.  Why does the chicken snap out of it when Mathew snaps his fingers?  And why doesn't the chicken snap out of it when the rooster crows in the background before Mathew snaps his fingers?  And how is it that a Hollywood actor type can catch a chicken so easily let alone hypnotize it?  And will Jonny finally change his mind about keeping chickens so I can hypnotize them?  We need an animal behaviorist here.  Where's Patricia McConnell when you need her?

There are many other ways to hypnotize a chicken but I'll let you have the fun of investigating that yourself.  Who knows what celebrity chicken hypnotists you may find?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Running Dogwalk w/ Stride Regulator

Finally had a chance and the motivation to head out to the practice field for some running dogwalk practice.  This is my first ever try with the stride regulator that Rosanne recommended to me at the seminar last week.  It worked a treat, he was 6/6 though the video only shows the first 3 reps because the battery died.

I didn't push my luck and remove the stride regulator this practice session because I have a trial this weekend and a snowstorm coming tomorrow so no other chances to practice and I wanted to end with success.  I'm also debating whether or not to fade it at all.  My training partner always puts stride regulators on the A-frame for her dog, the only time he doesn't see them is at a trial.  He's got a beautiful running A-frame and in several years of competition I think has missed only 1.  There's a certain logic to leaving it up all the time.  For now I think I'm going to use it every practice until the mid-January USDAA trial and see how he does at the trial.  Nothing to lose at this point really.  If the behavior holds up in the ring I'll continue with it, if not I'll work on fading it.  I'll probably test him without it once or twice at course run-throughs between now and the Jan. trial but I'm going to try to set up the regulator at most course run-throughs as well.

I'm not thrilled about using a prop but I'm out of things to try and preliminary results are promising so we'll see what happens with this experiment.

I put the A-frame up to USDAA height and he had a few misses so I'll have to work on that as well for the next few weeks.  His A-frame was perfect at the seminar and it was USDAA height so no feedback for that.  I think I just need to reward the successes and stop the sequences when he misses same as I've been doing.  His A-frame is back to being very reliable so I'm not too worried about that.

Worked some teeters and weaves as well to sharpen him up a bit for the weekend.  Also did some easy Ketschker work with jumps.  I had a handling practice session with my training partner yesterday and Strum and I were struggling with the Ketschker, mostly with him refusing to take the jump so I worked with just one jump then 2 with me stationary with back to jump.  It wasn't until I added motion and turned into him to get into position for the Ketschker that he started refusing again mostly because he was too focused on his toy.  But we worked through it and he finally got it.  Definitely not something I'm ready to use in a trial but I can see how useful it'll be once we get a handle on it.  No good places for practicing blind crosses yesterday, we'll see if there's a good place to use one during the trial.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blue Skies on the Blue Sky Trail

Another miserable day out biking on the trails.

Sun and dry trails and shorts weather, life is rough I tell you.

Colorado sucks.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Epitome of Poor Planning

4 pack roll of toilet paper from local Whole Foods:  $3.00

Not having to go to Target on Black Friday:  Priceless

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My dog ate my Chocolate Crack Pie Recipe

StrumMER!  This is a common refrain at my house.

It wouldn't be the holidays without Chocolate Crack Pie and it's also one of the very few things I can make that people like.  In fact Jonny went riding with someone yesterday who asked him if I would be making Chocolate Crack Pie this year.  So when a friend invited us over for Thanksgiving I said I would bring it even though she didn't request dessert.  Because you can never have too many desserts and if I make the pie for everybody I can have a piece and not have a whole pie sitting around my house for weeks, er, days, er, maybe 2 days if we're lucky.

I made the pie part yesterday because it needs to congeal in the fridge and left the recipe sitting out for today so I could make the mascarpone whipped cream topping.  Unfortunately I had drizzled melted butter on it because I'm kind of, well, very messy when I cook.  And that Strummer, he doesn't miss a trick and even though I'm careful not to leave food on the counter it never crossed my mind that a piece of paper drizzled with butter was a delicacy if you're a goat of a Border Collie.  He was careful to eat only the part that had butter on it but this was not helpful to me.

I thought that maybe this would be the last ever Chocolate Crack Pie.  I scoured my hard drive for the recipe to no avail.  I had to dig out the external hard drive for my old computers and dig through various file directory systems until I finally found it, of course in the very last possible location.  Naughty naughty dog, always causing me so much extra work.

I denies it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  Hopefully your dogs aren't as naughty as mine.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rosanne DeMascio Seminar

Strum and I had a fun 3 days but now I'm very tired.  Saturday we had a Running Contact session then a full day of Masters Handling on Sunday and a full day of International Handling on Monday.  Lots of running, lots of new handling stuff and an idea for moving forward with the dogwalk.  I don't have any video, was planning on asking people to shoot at least a few sequences but kept forgetting about it or remembered too close to my turn.

Lots of international flavor to the courses, even the novice/advanced folks had some back sides of jumps if I remember correctly.  It turns out it's not really a hard skill to learn and Strum and I have been getting better at it with practice.  We practiced all sorts of scenarios with back sides of jumps and I feel a lot more comfortable with them now and I have exercises for practicing the basic skills for them, especially sending through a gap.  I also did a lot more running backwards then I'm used to for handling threadles, wraps, pulling through a gap.  And the blind crosses!  I do them occasionally after tunnels, the A-frame, weave poles but pretty much never after jumps.  But wow, what a useful skill for certain scenarios and so easy and natural to learn.  Wish I'd had that skill for some of those courses at DOCNA Champs.  Will be fun to try them out at the upcoming DOCNA trial if the course calls for them.

I also learned how to use a Ketschker turn to handle a wrap.  When Marco Mouwen was here a million years ago he taught them to us and everybody was freaking out.  Nobody was terribly enthusiastic about the idea of sending their dog behind them and I never saw anybody do it at a trial.  It was back when I was running Cody and it turned out Cody was the one dog at the seminar that naturally did really well with it but aside from a 180 degree turn we didn't learn very many scenarios to use it and I never did see a use for it at a trial.  But it turns out to be a handy thing for handling certain types of wrap scenarios and Strummer picked it up fairly easily which was surprising because generally if I face him too soon it's too much collection and he'll refuse the jump he's headed for.  But he did well with it at the seminar.  Will have to practice that one a bit more before trotting it out at a trial.

Another handy little thing I learned was calling his name before a straight tunnel to alert him to a tight turn coming out.  At first I was skeptical about this because we already have a problem with very late commitment to tunnels and I was certain that calling his name would pull him off.  But surprisingly this turned out to work well for him.  I do sometimes call his name before he takes off for a jump to indicate a tight turn or convergence so it does sort of make sense that it should work and it's a consistent use of my cues.

And finally the dogwalk.  My next move for the dogwalk is the dreaded stride regulator.  I've been considering it and rejecting the idea for years now partly because I don't want to have to fade a prop but mostly because I wasn't sure where to put it.  But Strummer was doing his extend and leap move at the seminar so Rosanne was able to see where it should go and showed me where to put it.  It worked great at the seminar though, we'll see how he does out at the field and if it'll transfer to the ring.

Lots of running this weekend which was fun for me.  I've been watching some European handlers on YouTube and puzzling how it is that they run so quickly and aggressively on such technical courses that you would think would require a lot of collection but now I'm starting to understand.  I was tired by the end of each day and had to quit one exercise early both days.  We covered a lot of ground each day and I feel like I've got more than enough to work on for the next few months.  Rosanne was a great instructor, explained everything very clearly and had several different handling options for most of the handling challenges.  Was interesting to see myself as well as the others in the class able to handle such difficult stuff without a huge amount of struggle.  The handling seemed to come naturally without too much brain drain or over thinking, just going out there and doing.  Very fun.  The other attendees liked her as well, I woke up to a lot of positive feedback in my email box this morning.

And at the end of the seminar I was surprised to find out that the club was giving me vouchers for organizing the seminar, something I wasn't expecting at all and I was even more surprised at how generously they paid me.  It amounted to several whole trial entries, tournaments and all!  I was so excited about that.  I may even be able to afford to go to Regionals now if we can qualify in time since I won't have to pay for trial entries for several months.

Normal people's normal dogs are tired after a seminar with lots of running.  Strummer had a relatively quiet morning then decided a run around the yard with his watering can was in order.

What is this 'Rest Day'?

He may not need one but I do.  No agility until at least the weekend or maybe even next week.  I didn't make it to masters today either.  I wish a couple full days of agility were not so exhausting.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fun With Seminars

I somehow ended up in charge of the yearly seminar for one of the agility clubs I belong to because I made the critical mistake of going to a club meeting and not understanding how they work.  So when somebody said that I should be in charge of the next year's seminar in a half joking tone I figured everybody would forget about it by the next meeting and as long as I didn't go to any more meetings I'd be safe.  Now here's where you agility club meeting neophytes should perk up and pay attention and learn from my mistakes-it turns out they take notes at these meetings.  So imagine my surprise when several months later someone from the club emailed me offering to help me with the seminar.  On the one hand this was just what I needed to take on (what is the internet convention for indicating sarcasm?).  On the other hand there are certain advantages to being in charge.  For one I got to pick the presenter.  For another I get to attend for free.  And how hard can this be?  I somehow ended up in charge of putting on punk rock shows back in college and I was thinking that if I can deal with folks from the music industry I can deal with the dog agility folks.  I once had to stare down and remove a hostile football player suffering from roid rage or mental instability or something plus his psycho little accomplice because they were using the mosh pit as an excuse to beat the crap out of everyone with the misfortune to come within punching distance.  But knowledge is power and someone told me the football player had been arrested the previous week for wrapping some guy around a railing at a hotdog stand and this was not his first assault.  In fact he'd been in trouble so many times that the professional football team that had hired him to play the following fall had threatened to cut him if he had but one more incident.  And despite his dearth of brain cells and overabundance of testosterone he was able to do the math (just) and decided that maybe assaulting a puny little female engineering student was not worth his multi-million dollar NFL career.  Then there was the girl with Borderline Personality Disorder who would try to insert herself into the operation with the sole purpose of sabotaging things and I had a hard time explaining to people why we couldn't let her 'help' because for those unfamiliar with Borderlines they are very charismatic and manipulative and nobody would believe me that she was going to be a problem.  Until she was a problem, then they believed me.

Anyway, I figured that a dog agility seminar would be a piece of cake compared to all the meatheads and drama of the music world and let's not even get into the sleazy band managers and roadies never mind the bands themselves who often ended up staying at my house as if I already didn't have enough disruption to my life (though admittedly I did meet some interesting people).  And so far I was right.  I picked Rosanne Demascio for the instructor and she's been really easy to work with and other club members have been very helpful with telling me what I need to do and helping coordinate things.  Of course there may be unanticipated things that happen on the day but so far everything is set and organized and I don't anticipate any big issues.  The seminar filled except for the Novice/Advanced Handling class but the club was committed to offering such a class so not much I could do about that.  There's also an AKC trial and another seminar going on the same weekend and I couldn't do anything about that either because the club has the same dates every year for the arena.  It's very hard to rent space in this particular arena so we take whatever dates we can get.  It's a very nice facility too, has heat and bathrooms with running hot water.

I'm excited to finally have some instruction.  I haven't had a lesson since the Mary Ellen Barry/Jennifer Crank seminar last February.  My training partner has been an invaluable set of eyes and has helped me a lot but it's nice to have some instruction and a fresh set of eyes every once in a while.  I've signed up for a day of Masters Handling, a day of International Handling and a 2 hour running contact session.  This turned out to be one of the most popular sessions next to the Foundation session.  I'm hoping I can get some ideas for what to try next.  I'm somewhat at a loss at the moment and feel like I'm beating my head against the wall.  No matter what I try I can't seem to get past the 70% accuracy mark and I've lost a lot of Standard Q's to the dogwalk.  Also I'd like to qualify for USDAA Nationals in the Grand Prix and I'd hate to miss Q's for the dogswalk.  I'm willing to put the work in to break through that barrier but at this point I'm not sure what that work should be. 

In other news I was in a swim meet and had a lot of fun and did not embarrass myself and had another mountain biking lesson but I guess those stories will have to wait for another day.

In the meantime I think someone is excited about the weekend.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Career Opportunities

You are getting sleepy.

No I'm not!

Yes you are.

O.k., I guess I am.

Because as of last June I am officially a Certified Consulting Hypnotherapist with the National Guild of Hypnotists.  I had to pass an exam and everything.  It probably seems an odd career leap, Professional Structural Engineer to Hypnotherapist but when I was an undergrad studying engineering I was interested in psychology and took every class I could that didn't require the lab class prerequisite.  Because that class made you electric shock animals and since Animal Rights movements/protests were starting to become popular back then they even warned you up front that you had to shock the animals, there was no other way to complete the course work.  So if you wanted a psychology degree from the University of Illinois back in the mid-80's you had to be willing to pull the switch on the lab animals and I was so not o.k. with that.  I also wasn't interested in pursuing a career where that was a common method of 'research'.  Plus if you've ever taken a psychology course, yikes, the experiments they did were the stuff of horror movies.  I couldn't fathom the sort of twisted minds who thought them up and didn't want any part of it really. 

But I have a friend in Chicago whose wife is a hypnotherapist (as well as massage therapist for the Chicago Bears) and after talking to her I decided that that's what I have to do with the rest of my life.  Because the construction industry is getting worse rather than better and predictions are for even more decline.  And to be honest I was getting a little burnt out.  It wasn't so bad that I was looking to change careers but so far I love my new one.  Hypnotherapy is very fun and I love helping people.  I'm not so thrilled with having to start my own business, never was one of those folks who dreamed of being an entrepreneur and I knew it would be a lot of work but most hypnotherapists work for themselves so that's how it goes.  There's a lot to learn about running a business and marketing but I'm soaking up all I can and experimenting with different things to see what's effective.  I get a little more business each month and hopefully one day enough to pay my mortgage.

In addition to my regular certification course I took a specialty course in Sports Hypnosis and I'm working on creating a little niche for myself in that area.  Lots of athletes in Boulder.  I even wrote an article on using hypnosis for mental management in agility for Clean Run that is supposed to run in January so keep your eyes peeled for that.

I'm also looking into doing medical type stuff, chronic pain relief, IBS, Fybromyalgia, etc.  The specialized training is expensive but it sounds really interesting and how cool would it be to help people with those sorts of issues?

Creating my own website has been an adventure in itself.  Like I said in a previous post, if you're looking to start a website do not let some well meaning (or perhaps evil meaning) friend convince you that Wordpress is easy, especially if you're not familiar with the jargon of website design.  It still needs a lot of work and a lot more content but this is what I have so far:

I need a more professional looking photo and a lot more content but so far it's bringing in the bulk of my business.

The one nice thing about being the boss is that I get to pick my office location and I found a place 2.8 miles/9 mins. from home.  I'm in a chiropractor's office and there is also a naturopath, massage therapist, acupuncturist, etc.  I've also got Skype set up because I've already got one potential client who lives a couple of hours away.  Lots of hours spent figuring all this stuff out but at some point it'll all pay off.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Crazy Dog Lady Pees Her Pants

Went over to the Lory Xterra website to see if they were taking registrations yet since the race sells out quickly and found out they've added a new race, Xterra Curt Gowdy.  This race is in Curt Gowdy State Park up in Wyoming between Laramie and Cheyenne and I've heard nothing but rave reviews about how awesome the mountain bike trails are up there.  They're somewhat newish, only a few years old and I haven't made my way up there yet but now I have a good excuse.  So excited for this race.  The drive is only 1 hour, 50 minutes which means I now have 4 local Xterra races to try to qualify for Nat's. even though I almost certainly won't go.  Though I'll admit I've secretly been trying to convince myself I can do it, ie both Xterra and USDAA Nat's. only 2 days apart.  Yeah, right, I know, I know.  But I hit the trails on my bike today and it felt so good and I felt so sure I could somehow squeeze both in.  I know when that race rolls around in Sept. I'm going to so want to be there.  I even have a secret plan for how I'm going to make it all work.  My impulse control is getting worse as I age.

And as if that isn't enough exciting news for one week I also found out that I now have a reason to live during the month of December, namely 'Merry Clash-mas', featuring the Nuns of Brixton (a Clash cover band that dresses up like nuns, Joe Strummer is smiling in his grave), The Shaloms (billed as 'The Jewish Ramones') and Coverage (a Descendents cover band).  A concert with Clash, Ramones and Descendents cover bands-my brain is exploding from the awesomeness of it.  Locals mark your calendars for Thurs., Dec. 22, Bluebird Theater in Denver.  And if you aren't local then you still have plenty of time to buy your plane tickets.  Ah the anticipation, I'm going to feel like a little kid at, well, Clash-mas.

Skanking Nuns!  Everybody get your dancing shoes on.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sundogs and Strumdogs at Walker Ranch

Jonny had the day off so we went for a hike at Walker Ranch.  Normally it's a popular mountain biking trail but there was still some snow and ice on the shady parts of the trail and we didn't see a single biker or hardly any people for that matter.  We were greeted at the trail head by some spectacular sundogs.

One of these days I'll figure out how to photograph them.  My cheapo point and shoot was struggling.

We took Strummer along but sometimes I wonder how much he enjoys hiking with the both of us.  If we drift too far apart he breaks out in stress dander.  Other things cause it too while we're hiking though I could only guess at what.  He's such a worrier sometimes.

But he's not like that the whole hike and I'm sure he enjoys it for the most part.

Throw the pine cone and all will be o.k.

We hiked for 2.6 miles to an upper parking lot that had a nice viewpoint then called it a day and headed back.

It's times like this I really wish I had Photoshop.  Or some dog pants.

South Boulder Creek

Another sundog at the end of our hike.  Had a beautiful photo of it next to a peak but it didn't come out at all, was just a white blob so this will have to do.

Tomorrow I have agility practice in the a.m. with my training partner then a swim meet in the afternoon.  I only agreed to the swim meet because of peer pressure and the gathering at Southern Sun afterwards.  Because apparently I'll suffer any indignity for an avocado veggie burger and fries with my masters lane mates.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

USDAA Nationals a boon for DOCNA Champs?

At first when USDAA announced they were moving their Nationals to 3 days after DOCNA Champs I thought, 'Poor little DOCNA Champs just can't catch a break, kicked to the curb then stomped into the gutter.'  But it turns out there are people out there who actually want to go to a trial before Nat's. Now I thought I'd go to DOCNA Champs because it's fun and 40 minutes away and I may as well if I'm not going to Xterra Nat's. and if I only enter a few classes it'll be a nice little warm-up.  But then a local club proposed moving their USDAA trial that would normally be the week after Nat's. to the same weekend as DOCNA Champs. as a warm-up for USDAA Nat's.  And people were all over it.  Apparently a club in Phoenix did this one year and they were so overwhelmed they didn't do it again.  Personally I think a 3 day trial with Team just 3 days before Nat's. is all kinds of crazy and I've got a high drive dog but I guess lots of people like the idea.  In the end the club decided against it because they didn't want to deal with the potentially large crowd so I wonder if DOCNA Champs will get some folks coming into town early and looking for a chance to warm up for USDAA Nat's. or even some locals who dabble in DOCNA and normally wouldn't have gone to Champs?  Could make for an interesting DOCNA Champs and possibly more than make up for the split with the AZ crowd.  Will be interesting to see what happens and if DOCNA will try to market to the USDAA folks.  If I was in charge I'd waive the qualifying requirement for people who had qualified for USDAA Nat's. since lots of areas in the country don't have DOCNA.  People from other areas would have the opportunity to check out the venue and maybe somebody would like it enough to go back home and put on a trial or two.  And it would be great to see some new competition at Champs.  The agility plot thickens.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Dogs on NPR

There was an interesting interview with Mark Derr on NPR's Fresh Air about the evolution of dogs.  Mark Derr had some great quotes, my favorite being, 'Dog's are nuts.  They do crazy things'.  I should check for spy cams at my house.  But I also have to give him props for speaking about against breeding for defect:

"I'll say it bluntly, and it has to be said: Some of these breeds are incapable of giving birth without C-section. ... I think that it certainly is wrong to produce animals that aren't healthy. It's bad for the animal and bad for the people who take them into their homes and find out that this dog they love is going to die at a very young age because of an inheritable disease. ... We really should ask ourselves whether it is fair to the animal to do that. I am of the opinion that it's not."

This quote is the short version, he had more to say on breeding issues in the interview and sadly he acknowledged that saying these things had gotten him in trouble in the past.  Because even more sadly speaking out against intentionally creating breeds of dogs with genetic diseases, deformities, orthopedic and breathing problems, etc. is controversial.


Indoor drop-ins started up last night at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, a nice heated arena just 18 minutes from my house.  18 minutes when it's not rush hour that is.  After 10 minutes I found myself in a parking lot of traffic doing 10 minutes miles and happily would have turned around and headed back home at the first turn-off but for my little black and white friend who had started whining his head off as soon as we hit the highway for my little friend is a clever one and he knows all the routes that lead to agility.  He was so excited, I couldn't tease him like that then deny him.  So I endured the 35 minute drive of traffic and whining and 45 minutes of  waiting around for our 90 seconds in the ring.  Because it appears that my dog is totally spoiled.  But he was so happy, was worth the $4 and 2 hours all told.  Just.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Eye Candy Monday - Wonderland Lake

The high country is beautiful in the fall but the trails in my neighborhood are no slouches either.  Took the little point and shoot on my daily dog walk around Wonderland Lake because the colors are mahvelous this time of year.  I'm behind in my blogging, that week in Chicago with no internet set me back so these photos are from around Oct. 18.

Nice views of the Flatirons

Where the plains meet the start of the Rocky Mountains

Two snowstorms and several windy days later and the leaves are now brown and crunchy and mostly gone but it was nice while it lasted.

Piled on the clothes for a bike ride out  on the dirt roads on the plains yesterday.  Jonny laughed at me because I was wearing all my heaviest gear and as much layers as I could fit and still move but with temps. in the mid-40's and 20-30 mph winds I was happy for every layer.  Sunny blue skies though and beautiful views of the dusting of snow still left on the hills, llamas, miniature horses, weird metal sculpture of a person with a pumpkin for a head, all kinds of cool stuff out there and I forgot to put a battery in my camera because I was so preoccupied with digging out my winter gear.  Ah well, next time.  2 1/4 hours/21.5 miles of gloriousness on legs that felt stronger than I thought they would since I can't even begin to remember the last time I was on my bike.  Been focusing on the running lately since that's my big weakness at the moment and the cool fall temps. are perfect for running.  Had some agility practice too but I'll save that for another post.