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?