summer_jackel: (Default)
Overly sugary energy drinks have become a mainstay of my time on the bike trainer; I find them somewhat wretched, but I crave them while I pedal. Well, I decided to try a new Rockstar flavor, and apparently didn't engage my eyeballs very well, because it wasn't until just now that I noticed it was GRAPE. Yeah guys, it's true, I actually spent money on Rockstar's version of grape soda. There's no excuse; I was emotionally calm and completely sober when I performed this act.

It tastes like some kind of Lovecraftian monster strangled to death in the Berkeley pit and left to putrify in a glass jar for a couple of weeks in August. With caffeine.

For the love of dog, save yourselves, don't ever try this stuff. I'm going to drink it anyway. That'll teach me.
summer_jackel: (Default)
Joyful Solstice, everyone. I just rode 4 hours on my trainer; now I'm making a delicious rare hamburger and a fruit smoothie, which I will enjoy out on the deck with a book in this lovely evening. It's been a hard several seasons, but things have been really nice for me lately.

***

re dog training; I'm asking for command suggetions. The parfait pretty much has all the commands I've taught him down and would like to learn some more, so I'm thinking of introducing the sendout, i.e, you ask the dog to go away from you, sit and await command. It doesn't seem hard to train, but I need a command for it, ideally one that is cute, catchy, easy to say and understand for Coba and kinda geeky. Does anyone have ideas? To clarify, it will be "Coba, [command]," and he will go away a few feet, sit and look at me.

I'm also going to try target-training him, iow to touch his nose and/or paw to my hand or another target. That will probably a stick or toy, but I'm thinking of training him to touch my hand first, as I can get him the treat faster and therefore help him make the association sooner. The hardest part of training a dog something is making sure he understands what it is you want, and colliethings tend to be both fast learners and highly training-motivated. For Coba in particular, doing something I ask is in and of itself a reward on top of the treats, so he's very fun to train. But anyway, I think I'm going to use 'touch' for using his nose, but I also need another command for 'touch it with your paw.' I would use 'paw,' but 'paws' is already the cue for 'your leash is under your leg; untangle yourself.' Any ideas for that one?

And for fun, other things Coba knows:

Sit, down, come, stand
stay (he has sit and down for about 5 min with a reasonably decent rate of not laying down on the sit stays. This matters because I want to compete in obedience with him). Stand-stays are a little harder.
rollover, sit up (although Rogue is much better at these than he is. Bliss doesn't know them at all yet).
focus give me your attention
heel , casual heel, means they can sniff around but not pull the leash. I've only trained Coba for this so far, but I think Bliss is getting ready for it. He's starting to show interest in what Coba's doing for the first time, so I'll begin his training soon. Rogue isn't a show dog and Jez doesn't have interest in this kind of training.
velcro , the show heel, sit whenever I stop and keep focus on me.
come round , what I use for the 'finish' command, where dog circles from in front of you to heel position. Coba doesn't seem to have a problem differentiating between 'come' and 'come round'---I tried to train a different finish, but that's just what I seem to want to say, and training the dogs is easier than training me. I've introduced this to Bliss but not really worked with him enough to have it solid yet.

oh, and load (the truck), off (your paws off me, or infrequently get off the couch), get (leave), banish (leave the room) and of course silence (you want to teach that one young if your dog is a sheltie).
summer_jackel: (Default)
So I go to my truck so I can go obtain a burrito for lunch, only to find some little pamphlet about God or Bible verses or some such stuck under my windshield wipers. Maybe it's because I'm already in something of a mood, but this pissed me really very off, thanks...not only does it waste trees and lack any of the scholarly, literary or philosophical examination that might make me actually interested in looking at something religious, finding it on my car just feels invasive. I mean, if they actually try and find me at home to discuss this, I can at least tell them not to waste their material by leaving it with me.

Tell you what, guys; keep your unpleasant, vengeful god and the way you continually misinterpret the teachings of a guy you claim is its son the hell away from me and I won't assume you're ALL a bunch of misogynistic, homophobic asses aping the religion of several thousand years ago on another continent, with no sense of the actual history of you own religion, ok? (no offense to actual asses, Asiatic, Somali, domestic or otherwise, intended).

On the other hand, burrito. Om nom nom.
summer_jackel: (Default)
One of these days, I should write about my dancing project (Initially, this was learning to dance ballroom, which mutated to include learning swing and also apparently now Viennese waltz; I opened Pandora's box with this one). Suffice to say that there was a swing dance last night. There was an excellent live band (Stompy Jones; swing bands have the cutest names), this was actually in Sonoma County, I was there in pleasant company and I actually managed to not make a fool of myself or look like a complete and utter rookie on the dance floor. Um, hopefully. I am by no means good...there were a few really good dancers there and I am not one of them...but I think I have achieved adequate beginner status. Wait, I can dance now? Really? How did that happen?

I spent this afternoon with the horses, which is really one of the finest ways I could hope to spend a clear and glorious November day. Bey got her Autumn trim, and I realized again how fulfilling it is to know how to trim my own horses. I've had this mare for 21 years, and post-farriery it seemed like I'd never actually looked at her in all of these subtle and really important little ways. She toes in a bit on her fore, more strongly at the left, and like many horses her hooves are not perfectly matched. They are good, strong feet, the soles thick and healthy from a lifetime barefoot, nicely hydrated from the moist ground.

This skill also means I don't have to watch any more farriers become increasingly murderous-looking as they realize how much they hate trimming my horse. It just means I have to do it. At least Bey is more obedient for me than she is for anyone else, right?

After Bey was loved on, trimmed, sworn at creatively and ruefully loved on some more with a promise to work on those back hooves a little more in the next few days, I worked with Equinox. He let me catch him with relative ease, and was leading obediently and almost perfectly around the arena with only the halter (you teach a baby to lead with another rope looped around his butt) less than 45 minutes later. This, you will recall, is the baby who only had a halter on him for the first time last Sunday. Better yet, when I was mucking his stall after the training session, he came up and hung out next to me, sniffing and requesting skritches. I am relieved and also touched...the little guy is starting to show an adorable personality. It's a bit sobering to consider that, assuming all goes well, he is going to be my companion for the next 21 years and then some...I have good reason to want the baby started well. I love this small horse quite vividly.

I didn't get to Dancer until the evening. I trimmed him as the sky faded on this short near-solstice day (with no cursing; Dancer almost acts like he likes his feet done) and then rode out into the vineyard at dusk. He's a youngster, and I had never taken him out so late, but he was mellow; you have to love Appaloosas. It was wonderful to listen to the birds calling right at dark, to enjoy the light quality of the sky as the first stars came out, and not have to worry too much about my horse killing me. Dancer got extra grain.

As I was looking all around for interesting wildlife (see it before horse does!) a suspiciously owl-shaped bunch of leaves in an almost bare maple tree turned its head clear around to regard me gravely. I have never been so close to a wild owl other than brief flyovers, but this one seemed unconcerned about some lady on a horse looking all starstruck. Possibly a great horned; this was a large bird and had big ear tufts. I was near enough that I could see the last of the sun touching the top crescent of her enormous eyes and flashing copper.

I feel suspended in a sea of blessings. If October is releasing and letting go, perhaps then in November there is room for things that are tender, very new, and possibly wonderful, and for rediscovering what has not been lost.
summer_jackel: (Default)
Today I accomplished two vital fall tasks. Now I'm on a bike, which you can tell because I am rambling on my LJ.


A bunch of ramble under the cut, because I'm riding trainer, and some pics. )
summer_jackel: (Default)
The dogs are charming. I am watching Chaos play with Rogue, very carefully so as not to overwhelm her. For once, she is reciprocating, pouncing lightly back at him with delicate pleasure. This is new; Rogue is very much on her dignity with the puppies, and while she will do her best to encourage them to spar with each other on walks and at the beach, she usually doesn't like to play with them directly.

Puppies play too hard and lack awareness of personal space, and though I am sometimes tempted to think of Rogue as a puppy still, I am out of date. She is not the pup I remember; she is our dominant female, menopausal, and a small dog. Rogue does not like to be stepped on, and she is probably feeling some of the aches and pains of middle age, though being a dog, she does not complain. No, there's a line she crossed; Skeeter was her age-companion and he is gone, and though I wanted Coba to fill that space in her life, he must, I think, remain puppy and not partner for her. Rogue has far more in common with Jez who, also bereft, has taken the doghouse that was once Pryde's. She is calmer than she ever was, older; Jez who I always thought of as the puppy as well.

It is a new time and these new dogs are starting to be less of strangers to me. They are gentler, sweet little dogs, easier to live with if less magnificent than a pack of three wolves. Jez is still wolf, still fierce, but perhaps enjoying her age and quiet amongst such soft puppies.

I have taught Chaos to fetch. I forget that you have to explain these things; the first time I threw a tennis ball for him, he stared at me in blank non-comprehension. There are moments when I wonder if he can actually see past that muzzle. But no, he'll fetch toys for me now with great excitement, and he is good at finding them when I throw them in difficult places. He has a sense of humor, this dog, and fairness, and perhaps the glimmerings of the subtle character that once earned collies literary status and fame. He at least gets that the thing to do with a thrown toy is not to let it bounce off the side of his head---that has to be a start. Chaos is beginning to understand that in order to court a middle-aged sheltie, one must not step on her, and perhaps we are all beginning to grow as a pack together, and to grow up.
summer_jackel: (Default)
I. My dogs are weird.

I usually lock Jez in the kennel at night, but I am getting a little more lax about Jez in general. At 10 (Jezebel is 10? Dear gods, when did that happen?) Miz Wolfie has slowed way down. When they were young, I was always aware that my pack could probably get out of the yard in about two minutes if they were motivated, for instance by the appearance of a dog they didn't like and might therefore want to eat, and supervised them accordingly. Still, when I woke up to the slightly concerned realization that I'd left her loose for the night, it was a far cry from the oh shit panic that same moment might have inspired when I was 25.

This morning, I was just mildly relieved to note Jez still asleep in her doghouse and all of my chickens yet living and unmolested. On closer inspection, the only thing out of place was an almost-empty bottle of kennel disinfectant in the doghouse with her. Thankfully unchewed, although I'm sure that she planned on it until she stopped to smell the thing. Dude, Jez, of all the forbidden items in the whole place that you could have appropriated for your illicit destructive pleasure, you chose the soap?

I should be grateful.

My dogs' friends are weird )
summer_jackel: (Default)
...this time from [livejournal.com profile] akiko. I am appreciating these, having the slowest work day ever.

Giant wolfy dogs, furry, birds, ocean walks, photography )
summer_jackel: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] leora gave me five words that she associates with me, to explain a little about.

And I'm editing it to go behind a cut because it's longish )
summer_jackel: (jackal play)
Answer-the-questions sort of meme from [livejournal.com profile] skye_ds 'neath cut.

Also, Adopt one today!, Adopt one today! and also Adopt one today! are bitty pixeldragons.

Questions questions )
summer_jackel: (jackal play)
Oh, but I guess it's worth the story. I rode Dancer the day before yesterday. I haven't been on him in over a month due to a mix of inclement weather and wanting quiet rides when I was at the stable...Dancer is fantastic, but he is a baby, and as I'm about to demonstrate, babies do screwy things sometimes, through no fault of their own.

Dancer was *very happy* to be out; he has a great attitude and enjoys exploring, and I swear that he gives me a pouty you-hurt-my-feelings look when I ride Tami. This time, it almost seemed like he was making a point of being extra good. An example of this was the two very small water crossings (less than fetlock deep) which he had only traversed a couple of times before, with much snorting and baby-horse skittishness. Crossing water is one of those things that you need to expect them to have a little nervousness about, at least at first. He blew at the streams a bit, but crossed them easily...looking back at me after each one, as if to make certain that I noticed he hadn't gotten upset about it.

When I rode him up to the river, it was only to let him have a drink and a look at the thing. I had no intention of asking him to cross it until next summer. However, he got his look, which included the trail on the other side, apparently, and decided of his own volition that he wanted across. I certainly didn't want to discourage his enthusiasm, so I let him do it.

The Russian River at this point is about belly-deep on him (waist high on me; Dancer is a small horse/large pony) and has stable footing, but there is a current. When Dancer felt it, he shied and tried to turn too quickly. When he gets frustrated, he does the little half-rear that Dressage people train into the piaffe, but which in this case caused him to unbalance and go over sideways. Me with him, of course. For a couple of seconds, I was pinned under the water by the flat of his shoulder, and a forehoof grazed my cheekbone as he struggled to get up. I had enough time to think, "oh shit, I may be about to get really hurt here" before he got off me and out of the river. I picked my sopping self out as my cell phone vibrated its death throes in my back pocket. Dancer was waiting for me on the bank, standing quietly and looking contrite.

Once I had determined that neither of us was injured, I reassured him and led him back across the river. Didn't want that to be the last thing he remembered about it, and hey, I was already soaked, so why not. I stood with him in the middle of the current until he got his bearings...watching him think about it and test his footing, watching him learn, was really fantastic. Once across, we checked out the trail for a bit, but turned back quickly because, clad in soaked denim, I was starting to shiver. He was disappointed and put up token resistance to turning back. It was really cute.

Dancer re-crossed the river carefully and flawlessly, rider intact. There were no further incidents. Have I mentioned that I love this horse? Because I really, really love this horse. Despite dumping me in the river, which wasn't his fault at all, he is made of awesome.

AT&T replaced my phone, which was due an upgrade anyhow. My prescription was 2 years out of date, so yesterday I bit the bullet, got a new eye exam and ordered glasses, which always makes me nervous, grumpy and oddly wounded. (My eyes are actually pretty good compared to many, but I hate x1000 that I have to wear glasses at all and I am not good with having my eyes messed with. It isn't a logic thing). My left cheekbone is pretty sore, but somehow, probably owing to the arnica I have been slathering on it, has managed not to turn black and green yet. I hope it doesn't; I'm planning on attending Dickens faire the weekend after next and don't want to be all bruisy.

Yeah, if the worst I have to worry about after an unplanned equestrian river swim in December is new glasses and how I'm going to look next week, I think I did OK. Thanks, Dancer. You're a great horse.
summer_jackel: (Furries for Obama)
This election will be over soon, and I will be so very happy. I really want to go back to comfortably ignoring politics, oh please yes. But as we all know, there's some major stuff on the plate right now, so I don't get to yet.

My subject of bitchy rant at the moment is CA's Prop 8, which if passed would repeal existing and prevent future same-sex marriage in our state. I am of course livid about this, not just for the obvious reason of being gay, or even because the other side is dirty enough to sink to blackmail and extortion in an attempt to push their discriminatory agenda, or all of the many other good reasons I am sure exist to want to see this thing crash and burn.

The whole thing has me pissed off as a lawyer, too.

So Ok, people. There is a distinction between legal and sacred/religious/whathaveyou marriage. I am not at all thrilled that the term is used as a catchall for both, and conflating the two leads to lots of confusion, and, well, juicy little pockets of evil like Prop 8.

Legal marriage is the handy process of entering into a number of contracts all at once. They include imparting medical authority and rights with regards to the custody of minor children, but mostly these contracts are about property. Particularly real property (land).

California is a community property state, which in a nutshell means that (almost) all assets, earnings and property earned or obtained by either spouse during the marriage become equally and jointly owned by both. (There's more than that...a semester of law school and a day on the bar more...but that's all you really need for now). Personally I'm too much of a loner to enjoy the thought of entering into that particular contract, but hey, there are tax advantages, so if you're into it, go for it. The divorces get pretty unpleasant, but that's true in other states, too.

Legal marriage was originally a way for a husband and his bride's father to come into agreements vis. money and land (because of course the woman couldn't own it). The woman herself was part of the property being exchanged, because until the early 20th century her legal rights were abysmal. Yes, the law has changed since then, but ponder that history for a moment anyway.

Note that I haven't mentioned sex, other than that's the typical way a couple ends up with children. They are a part of the marriage contract, true, but California's complex family code will give custody to a surviving parent whether or not there was a marriage and has otherwise done everything it can to give equal rights to married and unmarried parents. This is a Good Thing For Everyone. So the bit in the marriage contract about children is pretty superfluous. Besides, we all know that there are other ways that straight couples come by kids as well, and plenty of gay folk have them too. (Hello, lesbian couples have been borrowing their male friends for stud service for ages, and that's just the easiest way).

Sex has nothing to do with legal marriage. Because it's an example of contract law. Denying legal rights, including the making of contracts, to a class of Americans based on gender is gender discrimination, pure and simple. That's illegal both in CA and Federally (I could look up the Act, but I'm being lazy), which is why this issue is eventually bound for the Supreme Court. This is a purely legal issue. No really. It is.

The Pro-8 folks are yowling about the sanctity of marriage and the desire to protect traditional unions, but trust me because I've studied it when I say contract law is anything but sacred, and if you want to look at traditional legal marriage, you end up with the woman-as-property bit. My long winded point here is that Prop 8 will in no way, shape or form change religious marriage. If you want to think gay sex is Teh Evil and marriage should only be between a man and woman of your own specific religion, well, fine, that hurts my feelings but I won't argue much. I'll support your right to think that, so long as you don't attempt to kill anyone. I firmly believe that the law should stay out of our churches as much as I believe that, well, the churches should stay out of our law...

Again, the fact that English uses the same word for legal and sacred "marriage" and that we are culturally conditioned to enter into both at the same time ANNOYS me. Annoys the HELL out of me. I don't like the traditions behind legal marriage, I don't like the bundle-of-contracts that no one talks about and most newlyweds don't understand because this institution is supposedly about relationships. I don't like the assumption in either type that making any kind of agreement will somehow keep a relationship alive forever, when the reality is that people grow and change, sometimes apart, whether or not they've agreed to co-own all their property.

Personally...I am fond of long-term commitments and serious rituals made out of love. Something like a handfasting where the couple (triad, quad, whathaveyou) renews their vows every now and again to keep things current emotionally is more my speed, but I digress. I seem emotionally predisposed to long-term attachments and come on, I'm a Pagan, of COURSE I like Deep Meaningful Rituals...but I've just given you many of the reasons marriage (legal and sacred) as practiced in America today rubs my fur a bit wrong.

I just wanted to point out that Prop 8 is not even about what its supporters are claiming it's about. This thing is an example of pure sex discrimination, and an attempt to write it into our very constitution at that. Sacred marriage won't change when 8 fails, and if you want to go do it in a way that excludes gays, or anyone who isn't your flavor of religion, have at. It's a free country.

...it still is, isn't it? Right?
summer_jackel: (angry wolf)
Background. Over the last couple of days, I've talked to AT&T wireless people about four-five times, in the course of getting my cell number off of Lucy's plan and onto one of my own. Lucy is in Covelo now, we are no longer together, it makes sense. This thing I'm ranting about bothered me then, but tonight, calling them AGAIN after I apparently lost my *&^%$#@!!!!! cell phone, it just...really bothered me.

Subject of rant: So, you call AT&T. After going through enough sufficient menu options to make certain you are good and grumpy, you finally talk to a warm body, who gives you enough canned-AT&T catchphrases and sales pitches that you wonder if you might still be talking to a machine. Creepy. And then she helps you; so far so good, my salespeople did everything they were trying to do smoothly and efficiently. Also yay! I get a new phone tomorrow, gratis. Problem? At the end, they ask you how their service was, on a 1 to 5 scale.

...say what, again?

When you are in college rating your profs at the end of the semester, or any other 'rate your service' kind of situation I've ever, I think, encountered, your rating is anonymous. Why seems blatantly obvious. As a customer, I'm not going to give someone a bad rating to their face. Beyond that, though, it feels exploitative and just horribly rude somehow for an employer to ask this of its phonestaff.

I've been blessed never to have been subjected to any kind of customer service job; I loathe interacting with many strangers, especially when I have no avenue of escape from them. On top of that, I have a pretty deeply conditioned aversion to the telephone. I know not everyone would hate these jobs as much as I would, but still, I've friends who are tech support folk and such, and there are horror stories. How could you submit your employees to the humiliating experience of asking a particularly nasty, irate and/or abusive customer to "rate" them, and then presumably enter the rating into the database for the boss to see?

That's what rankles me; it's such forced-subservient behavior, and if it were me being asked to do this by my boss I would feel poorly used and rebellious. I mean, these people already act like trained spaniels.

I will welcome overt displays of submission only when they are offered of the person's own will and desire, not on pain of losing their job. A power imbalance like that is humiliating to both of us. I don't appreciate being made complicit in this.

Maybe that's at the core of why I've not done terribly well in the professional world, right there.
summer_jackel: (Default)
Which kinds of cute shall I inflict upon you today? Well, let's see. I have cat snuggling dog cute, I have tandem parrots eating breakfast cute, I have dogs romping on the beach in spring. And then there's the thermonuclear cute of death.

We'll start with Tiger-Skeeter interspecies loooooooooove.

Photobucket

Decisions, decisions )

Photo post

Mar. 2nd, 2008 11:28 am
summer_jackel: (Default)
Spring has come again to the place I live, blooming again into its most tender season, as beautiful as it is brief. Yesterday, Kestrel raced for the first time this season. After, we all went and napped in a blooming field.

Jackel's human pack frolicking in a field, also canine, feline and avian pack )

Also, aww, my dragons are hatching. Pet them with your mouse and help them grow. :)

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
summer_jackel: (Default)
So this morning, I was awoken from lazy drowsiness by the loud quacking of my two girl-ducks (OK, the drakes quack too but only the hens are loud) and the following immediately thereafter, sung by my girlfriend the trained soprano, to the tune of "Oh Danny Boy":


Oh Summer girl
The ducks, the ducks are calling
from coop to coop
and down the Meeker-side
their food is gone
and all the water's muddy
it's you, it's you must go and feed them now

But if you stall
then somebody might help you
but if you stall
then somebody maybe won't
but I must go
and no one else is home
it's you, it's you must go and feed them now


...well, I am awake. ;D (and the Dux fed).

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