Sunday, February 24, 2013

Yay For Snow

Finally enough snow to go skiing in North Boulder Park.

Perfect snow conditions and only a 7 minute drive from my house.  Beats sitting in ski traffic for 4 hours on I-70.

Somebody else is happy to finally have enough snow for making snow monkeys.

More neighborhood hooligans.  The snow doesn't scare these guys away.

Supposed to be sunny tomorrow, maybe I'll go back for round 2.  Maybe I'll even brave a trip up to the high country sometime this week for some back country skiing.  Though maybe I should see how my abs and adductors are feeling tomorrow morning before I get too carried away.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dog Training By Numb3rs

I had some spare energy last week since I wasn't able to train and I came up with sort of a half baked idea about math and dog training.

Sometime last year I discovered the t.v. show Numb3rs and because I've got my thumb on the pulse of all things cultural this show started 7-8 years ago and has been off the air for several years now I'd only just discovered it.  How a crime drama involving a genius messy haired mathematician solving crimes for the FBI by using math escaped me for so long is a mystery.  I love math and crime solving and I even went out with a genius mathematician with messy hair in college so how did I miss this?  It's possible I did try to watch it and happened to surf onto it during one of the scenes with machine guns blaring, explosions, car chases, etc. because this show has quite a lot of that in every episode.  Apparently Hollywood thinks it can't sell a show about math to Americans unless it has lots of gunfire and loud noises and bloodshed.  And I don't know, maybe they're right, but the great thing about Netflix is that I can fast forward through the gunfire and explosions to the nerdy, mathy stuff.

They talk about Game Theory a lot in the show and this is another thing that has been around for a while that I was completely unaware of.  So of course I have to wonder if there's a way to apply it to dog training and in particular the running dogwalk.  A quick Google search doesn't reveal anybody trying this with dog training other than a short post in a blog about a little experiment involving a biscuit.  However a quick search of books on Game Theory at the Boulder Public Library reveals a book called, 'Game Theory and Animal Behavior' and there's a whole chapter on learning.  As you can see from the link this book costs $120 on Amazon but not only can I get it for free from the library but I can get an e-book that I can read on my fancy pants new tablet and I don't even have to leave the house or worry about late fees.  Within a minute of coming up with a hair-brained scheme I can get expensive books on it for free without even getting out of my chair.  Never mind all the zillions of other e-books at the library on Game Theory and YouTube videos and free online courses from universities like Yale.  And this is about where my brain explodes from the endless possibilities of it all.

To add to the madness, I found this TED video about how algorithms are taking over the world.  Algorithms are another thing they talk about a lot on the Numb3rs show and I'm convinced I can come up with a running dogwalk algorithm.  Anyway, this video is both fascinating and terrifying.  We're so worried about global warming and nuclear annihilation but I think we should put those things on the back burner and start turning our attention to the algorithms as yet another messy haired geek explains:

I'm pretty sure that if the algorithms are powerful enough to take down the stock market and catch a serial killer they can help me take my running dogwalk training to another level.  In the meantime, better bust out those old calculus books.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dry as Bone

This winter has been scary dry, even worse than last winter.  I hit the trails on my bike on Sunday and was greeted with this sight on the Left Hand Trail in Boulder.  The waterline for this reservoir should be where the trees/bushes are.

A view of the rest of the reservoir.  I've never seen little islands in this body of water before.  Again, the trees are where the waterline should be.

Despite the snow on Thursday the trails are already dry as a bone though it's possible this area didn't get as much or any snow even though it's only a few miles away.

We haven't had any sort of significant snowfall (more than 3"-4") all winter and while I'm hoping it doesn't come on the weekend I have to drive over and hour to Castle Rock for a USDAA trial I'm hoping we get at least one good dumping or it's going to be the super scariest fire season ever.

In other news, Strummer and I had a stand-off with some neighborhood hooligans on our walk today.

Actually this is an excuse to take a picture of my neighbor's cool trailer.  How much do you want one of those?  Well, I want one anyway though I would have no way to tow it.

Don't worry, in the end we sent the youngsters packing.

I wasn't going to mess with these guys.  They looked like they were for sure up to no good.

Went back to boot camp today and so far my foot is o.k.  So sore though, that instructor was hell bent on doing my abs in.  Meaty man arms are getting worse, not better, but at least I'm getting used to the sight of them so I guess that's something.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fun With Gizmos

After all my ranting about what the heck do I need with an iPad . . .  I didn't get an iPad but I did get a tablet, a horribly expensive tablet, ridiculously self-indulgent but it's for work to solve an actual problem I was having with trying to read client notes and some typed up protocols in the dark.  I'll spare you all the details of the more inexpensive fixes I've tried but I had settled on trying to read while hunched over the dim light of the laptop.  My back and eyes were not happy.  Then I found out I can get a tablet that you can hand write notes on with an electronic stylus pencil thingy that also allows you to read 2 screens at once.  So I can have client notes up on the screen at the same time as the protocols and I can make the writing bigger or smaller and read it in the dark.  And now I don't have to haul a big bag full of paperwork to and from the office, I can load all the documents onto the tablet.  Technology amazes me sometimes.  I'll be able to commute on my bike once the weather warms up a bit since I won't have so much crap to haul.  I've already used it with a couple of clients and now I can't imagine how I got by without it.  I'm aiming to get the office mostly paperless and cloud based so if there's flood or fire or whatever I won't lose my notes, recordings, protocols, etc.  I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

I bought the thing thinking I'd try it out and decide it wouldn't be useful before the nausea over what I'd spent had worn off and I'd end up returning it.  But now you just try prying it from my cold dead hands.  Aside from the worderlfulness at work it also does all kinds of fun stuff like this:

And this:

And who knows what else.  I looked up some drawing apps and artists had posted the most amazing drawings they'd made with a $5 app.  Maybe I'll finally even learn to draw a little better.  I've always wanted to take an oil painting class up at the university but wow, so expensive, and then the cost of materials, yikes.  Every once in a while I pull out my copy of 'Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain' and work on some of the exercises.  Will be interesting to try it out with the tablet.

In other unrelated news I managed to get a patellar plate injury.  Woke up at 2 am with a horrible shooting pain in my foot.  Lola lying on top of my foot and crushing it wasn't helping matters.  Could barely walk when I got up in the morning but it got better over the day.  Went to the chiropractor in the afternoon and he said it was likely a patellar plate injury which is usually caused by high mileage running in racing flats/minimal shoes or running/jumping while barefoot.  Which is exactly what I had been doing for about 15-20 minutes on Monday morning at boot camp.  We were inside and jumping on and off the Bosu ball which is difficult for me in shoes so I took them off.  Further in the class when we started doing more explosive jumping I put my shoes back on.  Nothing hurt all day, took the dogs for a walk, normal activity.  So weird that it waited until 2 am.  Thankfully it's better now and I can walk but for a while my foot was so swollen and red.  I'm supposed to rest it for 4-5 days but chyeah, right.  Somebody needs to shove me in a crate, I swear I'm worse than Strummer at sitting still.  We've got some snow today so hopefully that will slow me down a little for the next couple of rest days.

Though it won't slow these guys down.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Jaded at the DOCNA Trial

The good news about the weekend is that Strummer had an awesome time, ran so fast and focused and I had a great time running him.  However the courses were so similar to each other and so easy, pinwheel after pinwheel after pinwheel.  Dogwalk to tunnel.  Serpentine.  Sigh.  I know, every trial I have the same complaint and yet I keep going.  I like to trial and I like wide open courses every now and again and if I don't do DOCNA I have only USDAA and it cuts my trials in half.  Giving money to the AKC is out of the question.  So I stay home or suffer the pinwheels.  And Strummer doesn't care, he was so happy, he doesn't care what the course is like.  I think I'm a bit out of step with DOCNA's target market though.

Despite the easy courses we had only one Q in Jumpers because it was a woesome weekend for the dogwalk, only 2/7 dogwalk hits and those were in Gamblers.  Two standard runs had the exact same dogwalk challenge and I practiced it in 2 Gamblers runs so I had the wonderfully frustrating experience of 4 dogwalk misses on the exact same challenge.  And it wasn't even challenging.  And the other miss was the dreaded 180 degree turn off the dogwalk towards you to a tunnel under the dogwalk.  So 5 dogwalk misses on only 2 different challenges.  At least he was consistent and I know what I need to practice.

Everything else was nearly perfect though, 6/7 weave entries, no knocked bars, 6/6 hits on the A-frame.  Strum had some beautiful runs despite the dogwalk madness.

Saturday Jumpers and Standard

DOCNA 2-9-2013 JUMPERS STANDARD from colliebrains on Vimeo.

Sunday 2 rounds of Standard and Time Gamble

DOCNA STANDARD 1 & 2, TIME GAMBLE from colliebrains on Vimeo.

When I saw Sunday's course maps and noticed that about half of one of the Standard runs was exactly the same as the day before and saw a pinwheel in both courses I lost a bit of enthusiasm for the day.  I handled one run using rear crosses instead of the more comfortable for me front crosses and it was good to practice something different but otherwise I was feeling bored with the course challenges.  Maybe a bit jaded with DOCNA in general.  I was planning on going to a DOCNA trial in April to fill a hole in my trialing schedule but we'll see.  Maybe I'll give it one more chance.  There isn't another DOCNA trial until August so I would have plenty of time to start missing it again.  So looking forward to USDAA and the Masters Challenge classes next month.

At least the heat was working and the arena was plenty toasty and the 3-6" of snow predicted for Saturday night never materialized.  I was done with my 3 runs by 2:15 on Saturday and 12:45 on Sunday and the trial was only 20 minutes away so there are some good things about DOCNA trials close to home.  Now if only I could get the dust out of my lungs.  Only one more dirt arena trial until next October.

Trial Stats

Specialist Jumpers Q, 1st place

Dogwalks:  2/7 (28%) 

A-frames:  6/6 (100%)

Weave entries:  6/7 (86%)  no pop outs

Knocked bars:  None

Teeters:  5/5 (100%)

Refusals:  None

2 Off courses:  1 in Standard, I let off handling at an easy tunnel/A-frame discrimination after he'd missed his dogwalk, 1 in another Standard round, Strum flipped into the tunnel off the dogwalk rather than doing the turn towards me for the tunnel entrance under the dogwalk.