Saturday, November 29, 2008

Frankenstack Update


To update all of you, Stacker had his stitches removed this week. Everything looks great! He celebrated by cavorting with his harem in the backyard and traveling to see the parental units for Thanksgiving. We've put the "I AM A MORON" sign back in the drawer. Hopefully it will stay there for a while. So, with another event behind us, I have added, yet again, to Stacker's name. He shall now be known as Baron Frankenstack von Chikkenfut.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

INGRID MÅNNEITRÅP - Part Två

Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day here. I took Ingrid out to pick up scrap cardboard so I could make forms to cut the paneling for the new van. She needed a bath and the new quickie wash just opened down the street. Perfect! After the quick $4 spritz we were off. A brand new windshield is certainly noticeable. Everything is clear and crisp. It's as if I'm in a new automobile.

However, all was not well in Swedesville.

Ingrid minced no words and brought the calamity of the situation to my attention immediately. There it was, glaring at me. The sharp contrast of orange on black left nothing to chance. The message that means everything yet divulges nothing at the same time. The feared "Check Engine Light".

I quickly ran through possible scenarios and their closely related financial vacuums. I opted for the quasi-expertise of the code reader at the auto parts store. I had a doomsday event percolating in the back of my mind, hoping not to be proven correct. The last two times I stopped by to donate to his kid's college fund, my mechanic (aka Grim Reaper) alluded to the fact that there was an overbearing evil lurking in Ingrid's shadows. The code reader's findings washed the juggernaut of despair across my bright and cheery facade, reducing it to rubble.

Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold

So, Monday morning I paid a visit to the Grim Reaper who confirmed my misfortune and that Ingrid would need a new catalytic converter. Unfortunately for me, Ingrid's composition does not allow for inferior product. No, she would need a replacement from the land of OEM. I felt my wallet cry a little inside. The only silver tint to the dark cloud of monetary reduction was the labor cost, a paltry $112.50. I took Ingrid home on Tuesday. Don't you hate having work done that improves neither the performance nor the appearance? Such an empty, hollow feeling.

So, where does that leave me? Well, I'm waiting for problem number three to show itself. I'm holding out hope that I can start a new trend where trouble comes in twos.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to eat myself into a tryptophan-induced coma. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

INGRID MÅNNEITRÅP

Did you get that? Translated, it says "Ingrid Moneytrap", otherwise known as my Volvo. Just when everything seemed right, the power of three has reared it's ugly head and paid a visit, bringing tragedy, contempt, and hatred with it. Nearly Armageddon-Esq in size.

Here's Part One:
Last Tuesday we ventured over to the local oil change establishment. Against my better judgement, I allowed them to replace the wiper blades.
As I was relaxing in the lobby watching "Cars" for the third time this year (it's on a continuous loop - I feel so sorry for the employees - water boarding pales in comparison) I glance over to see Captain Courageous attempting to replace the wiper blade. Had he had aforementioned hero's powers (even just a little) he would have not dropped the wiper assembly sans blade onto the windshield. An unholy thud emanated from the garage. Upon quick inspection, Captain Courageous determined that nothing happened and continued on his mission; two more blades to go. I basked in the false sense of security that flowed forth.
I paid for the yet unknown indiscretion and proceeded on my journey. As I pulled onto the road, the golden hue of the afternoon sun filling my field of vision as I merrily made my way home. Wait, what the????!!!!! Is that? Is that a CRACK!! U-TURN! I feel my blood pressure rise as, again, I pull into the local oil change establishment (nka La isla de los Imbéciles). I eyeball Captain Courageous who, surprisingly, is already making his way to me. I describe to him how life as I know it was going in a positive direction that day and that it had been forever tarnished and stained by his ineptitude at such a menial task. The young Captain's response, "I didn't know if that was there before or not" would have reduced a lesser individual to violence.
As I waited outside pondering the meaning of justifiable homicide, the good Captain returned to inform me that Mission Control would have my windshield replaced at no cost to me (duh). Learn from my misfortune. If it's advertised as an oil change establishment do not take them up on any offer for anything else. You'll only end up disappointed.

Stay tuned for Part Two...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Link! New Link!

Any and every body with an ounce of interest in horses be sure to check out the new link I added over there ---> ---> ---> ---> --->
The world games are coming to Lexington in 2010. For two weeks the best horses in the world will converge on the Kentucky Horse Park to compete in a variety of disciplines from Dressage to Eventing, Endurance to Reigning and more. Definitely the place for the equine junkie!!


Jennifer and I are definitely going and I'm pretty sure Denise and Matt (are you two ever getting married?) will go with us. Who else? It's going to be great!

Monday, November 24, 2008

If Money Flowed

I was recently tagged to list six things I would do if money were no object. I'm going to opt to reduce my list by excluding the obvious (new home, quit job, travel, etc). So here it goes.

1. I'd buy Jefferson County Kennel Club, then close it. I believe there is a place for the NGA Greyhound. However, it's not at this track, nor any other armpit track like it.

2. I would establish a Greyhound refuge, similar to Best Friends Animal Society and other canine rehabilitation centers. I would staff it with enough people (including those that truely cared for their Greyhounds at the tracks I close) to handle every Greyhound waiting for a new home.

3. Same as number two, except it would apply to any breed of horse. This would also include purchasing and closing all slaughterhouses in North America (for starters). I'd name the refuge after Ferdinand.

4. I would lobby tirelessly to help create laws that make any act of animal cruelty a felony. Personally, I'd like to see a variation Hammurabi's Code come into play, but that might be a little unrealistic. Although, it would leave a lasting first impression...



Sorry if you were looking for this to be an a-typical, self-serving list with a dash of philanthropy. I've been outside my box lately...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pa's Flash Allie FCh


The final installment of team B is none other than Allie, aka The Mule. She comes by that nickname honestly. She's stubbornly slow around the house. Call others' names and they usually come with a little pep in their step. Allie? Not a chance. That is, unless you know how to turn on her switch. Some dogs are low drive, some are medium, some high. Allie is either low or high. There is nothing in between. Put food in the equation and it's on!


Allie came home to stay in 2004. She had a brief career in lure coursing, achieving her Field Champion title and 3rd place finish in the 2005 International Invitational. Due to her inability to overcome her desire to run into other dogs on course, I opted to finish her career in Singles. One particular course of note was run in Cartersville with two Greyhounds, The Colonel and Icy, both belonging to a good friend of mine. Coming through the final turn, Colonel had the lead. Allie looked at him and thought, "I'm going to plow into him". Now, keep in mind, Colonel has 10lb easy over Allie. He shrugged off her advances, causing her to break stride. Here comes Icy. Icy ran right over Allie and spun her around. It was scary to watch, but with no injuries resulting, I thought it was good lesson learned. Don't mess with kennel mates, they stick together!




We moved on from coursing to tracking. Allie took to it quickly and we still enjoy it to this day. Lot less impact and, in my opinion, more fun. How cool is it to walk around for 300-400 yards, drop a glove, come back and get your dog and watch her find it?




While Stacker and Julie brought me into the Greyhound fold, Allie has opened my eyes to doing more with them. She was able to pass Jen's clicker class and earn her Canine Good Citizen award. It was Jen's class that got the two of us talking. Funny how things work out, huh? As I'm typing this, Allie is enjoying the coveted sun-soaked spot on the bed behind me. I feel truely blessed that throughout life's nooks and crannies I've managed to end up where I am.




So there you have it. My dogs, the B squad. Those that are cursed under muffled breath for being too slow, too unresponsive, or "no good". It's tough living in a house with an A team like this!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Last but not Least!

I've been strongly reminded that I have yet to post about Allie, my third dog. Sorry, I've been dragging my feet on this. I'll get it together this week, promise!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

First Taste!

You all know what it's like. That first bite of your favorite meal. The first sip of water when you're dying of thirst. This is right up there with them all.

By now, most of you know that Jennifer and I took delivery on our new dog van. We're in the process of getting it accessorized and broken in properly. In the meantime we are still carting the teams around in the old van....that is, except for today!!

Jennifer went out to teach a private obedience lesson and took the A team in the old van. I was going to take the new van and run some errands. Imagine my surprise when it was suggested that I take the B team out in the new van! You don't have to ask me twice!




First trip in the new van belongs to the B squad!!! Yeah! The rear heater kicks like kung fu! In no time at all, we were all nice and toasty. The pilot's seat is a night and day difference from the older cockpit. No longer will we suffer knee and back pain from long trips. With a six-way adjustable seat and tilt-wheel, this is quite possibly the most comfortable cargo van ever! I love having the blank slate to work with. It's going to be fun to build in the shelves and compartments.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Have You Tried Moving?

While I'm not in sales, one of my job functions puts me face to face with our customers. It's inevitable. I'm usually standing on the side of the road staring at a utility pole, deep in thought. Out of the corner of my eye I see a vehicle pull in behind my work truck. I do a quick check of the area. Am I in someone's yard? Did I eat onions for lunch? Will someone hear me if I scream? Working in a rural area it's not out of the equation to be turned into fertilizer and deposited in the pasture across the road. Are cows big fans of Soylent Green? I don't really want to find out. I can typically expect only a handful of conversations:


1. What are you doing here?


2. You're not putting that on my property.


3. Public don't own this, I DO! *spit* (actual grammar used in this re-creation)


4. We'll see about that.


5. My neighbor has it, why can't I?


6. My personal favorite - The life story - How did they know that was exactly the reason I drove all the way out here??


So, I wasn't surprised to have a visitor yesterday while I was pre-surveying a job. It was in the morning (breath relatively minty fresh) and a quick look around assured me that my screams would be heard. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy talking with most of our customers, but you always have an exit strategy.

Customer: "I'm tired of dial-up and I've been trying for months to get DSL and "they" keep telling me I can't get it. They have it across the street." - Aha, good old number 5!

Good, I say to myself. He said "they" and not "you". He's not ready to place the blame on my shoulders, yet. Better not come back with my sarcastic response of "Have you tried moving across the street??".

Does everybody remember the hot new thing decades ago? Dial-up Internet!! Yeah, the sound of raccoons fighting off a pack marauding hyenas reverberating through your Caleco every time you fired up that modem. Ah, memories...

Remember that tv show The Land That Time Forgot? He lived in the neighborhood that technology bypassed. Almost everyone that didn't live on his street could get anything better than what he had. Now, when I make the follow-up phone call to break the bad news, I usually don't deliver that gem to them. I got tired of the profanity-laden onslaught that ensues. However, this man was in luck. We're going to see if we can include his neighborhood on an upgrade we have on the schedule.

Who knows, maybe we'll actually deliver someone's world after all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

FrankenStack




A couple years ago Stacker was unfortunate enough to push Travis to the breaking point. The signs were all there. Muzzle punches to the head and neck were the obvious ones, along with body posturing and psychotic barking episodes. Well, that "final straw" put Stacker in the ER clinic to get his face stitched back together. Travis had one superficial scratch. Stacker is a wuss. My sister, Beth, appropriately coined the term FrankenStack after that event. Very fitting. Swollen head, lines of stitches here and there across his face. All we needed was the mob of angry villagers and we'd be set.

It has been suggested he's bipolar. Maybe he is suffering from folie à deux all on his own?

Last Thursday we removed his bandages to see if he had full range of motion in his toe. No such luck. Time for that toe to go. The following morning I called Lake City Animal Hospital to set up a surgery appointment with Dr. Toby Carmichael. The adoption group I volunteer with, Southeastern Greyhound Adoption (SEGA), leases ten kennel runs from Toby in the back of his clinic to keep recent track retirees until they are adopted. He's also been our on-call vet when we've held lure coursing trials nearby in Cartersville. To say he knows Greyhound toes is a gross understatement.

To my surprise, Toby was available that Friday. I dropped Stacker off just before lunch and picked him up mid-afternoon. Everything went very well.

Hey Peanut, tell your Mom that this is the part where she may get a little squeamish...





Time for post-op pics!!







Dr. Carmichael did a great job. Stacker has been putting weight on this foot for the past few days now. We have a few more weeks to go before the stitches come out. My sister has decided that Stacker needs a new name, or at least an addition.

She is convinced that Stacker is the equivalent of Mr. Potato Head, complete with removable parts. She further proved her point when our sister, Anna, emailed to let us know she's having to amp another part of her Greyhound's tail due to another episode of happy tail.

No experience like this would be complete without some tragedy. Unfortunately, despite a sliding economy, I could not convince one single taxidermist to preserve his toe so I could turn it into a keychain.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Stand By Your Man




LISTEN UP!

I think I need to be the one to clear the air about my brother. You see, between Dad and I, we have invested the most time in trying to understand Stacker. First, let me say that Riley has it all wrong, I am NOT stuck in an abusive relationship. What would a teenager know about this? She wasn't even born when the one and only "incident" occurred.

I honestly believe that Stacker is bipolar. He's talked often about these headaches that he has and how he blacks out. Well, I've been keeping track of these blackouts and they coincide very closely with moments where his "darker" psyche steps out. His first incident with me was right before a thunderstorm. Did I mention he's FREAKED OUT (yeah, those ears are his trademark!) by thunderstorms? We were at Dad's old apartment getting our walk in before the rain came. There was an enormous clap of thunder that echoed perfectly through the complex. I was admiring it when out of nowhere a set of canines descended upon my head. OUCH! Fortunately, there was a little bite inhibition there. No scars. All was well. That was the only time Stacker has crossed the line with me. But, that moment opened my eyes to the fact that he may not know what he's doing when he acts out. I've seen it all. He's pretty bad when there's any kind of movement. Lure coursing was the worst! Dad had to muzzle him from the truck to the start. He had no problem on course, but get within five feet of him pre-course and watch out!! Stacker has mellowed a little as he's gotten older, but I know that evil lurks within. You can see it in his eyes, whether he knows it's there or not.

EVIL EYE GLOW
LOTS OF EVIL HERE - BOTH EYES GLOWING, AND MAKING ONE OF MINE GLOW THROUGH OSMOSIS...



Stacker doesn't know he's done anything wrong so please have compassion for the poor man, for he knows not what he does. He's a troubled soul. I feel pity for him and try to comfort him whenever I can. If he had known he ran right in front of Peanut he would feel HORRIBLE. So, on behalf of Stacker, I apologize to Peanut. Dad also wants me to let everyone know that he's going to update you on Stacker soon (even though mom kinda scooped the story!) and detail his progress. That's all for now!

Friday, November 7, 2008

From the Soapbox



WAKE UP!



It's time to LEARN, or at least Re-Educate Yourself!



So it’s official. One of the most left-leaning candidates in the history of the United States has emerged victorious. Around the country people are rejoicing that “change” will sweep across the land and the “evil, greedy” rich will get there comeuppance and justice will prevail! Sounds pretty good, huh?




FAIRNESS


These are the newest catch-words and they are gaining momentum



EQUALITY





POP QUIZ!



To which brand of government or type of society would you attach “equality”?















If you guessed Egalitarianism (triple word score in Scrabble!) then you are correct!!




Egalitarianism is “a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic rights and privileges” and “a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people.”


Did you see that?





Removal of inequalities, or, in other words, equality of results.






Can anyone tell me which society/government has “equality of results” as one of its prime objectives?













Did I hear socialism from the back of the blog?


Correct again!!




Is that what people really want? Individuality is naturally human. Each and every one of us has different wants and needs. These wants and needs are expressed through jobs, hobbies, clothes, cars, lifestyles, etc. What happens when you apply equality across individuality? Suffocating at best. Think of a non-necessity purchase you made recently. How many different brands, models, colors, etc did you have to choose from??

History has shown that “equality of results” is impractical. It has failed to raise the standards of those it intended to benefit. Instead, it has only lowered them.


Go plant you a row or two of “equality” in your backyard.





You’ll have a bumper crop of poverty and famine.



Egalitarianism is an attempt at utopia. In their mad dash to create equality in results, Egalitarians often use the power of the government to pass laws that conflict with the natural laws of economics and individual expression. This level of belief is the real enemy of the individual and freedom. To reach "equality of results" individual wants and needs have to be ignored, along with sacrificing one's self-determination. The only equality we need is the freedom for each person to live their life as they choose.




Capitalism is the uneven distribution of wealth


Socialism is the even distribution of poverty







Ok, let’s take a break and do a little fairness role-playing.






Let’s base our exercise on imputed income:





Dan and Barbara have owned their home for several years. They enjoy a modest mortgage payment of $900 a month. They live in a neighborhood where several houses are available for rent. Average rental price, per month, is $2000. The powers that be (yeah, the IRS) come and tell you that since you are living in your home for less than your neighbors, that difference is considered income and you should pay income taxes on it, because it's not fair that your neighbors pay more. Add it up. That’s an additional $13,200 a year. Would that be enough to push you into a higher tax bracket?? Some of you are saying, “This could never happen”. Maybe you’re right, but this idea is not an old one. The Clinton administration was working on the concept of imputed income when the Republicans took over.

I don’t think the next four years are going to be as bad as some are making it out to be. With the economy being in such dire straits the Obama administration, along with Congress, are not going to have a lot of wiggle room to bring in sweeping changes and reform. President-elect Obama was voted in largely because of his “blank slate” platform and good intentions. Good intentions do not always guarantee good results. Now, I’m not old enough to remember this personally, but those of you out there who are wiser than me will remember back in the 70’s someone who was voted in on good intentions and yielded poor results.

Reality has a way of grounding lofty idealists. Think of it as someone running through the forest with their head in the clouds, not seeing the fallen trees of reality ahead of them.






Those that are not “drunk on the Kool-Aid” will see the fallacies and stumblings of any administration while those “blinded by the light” will see their leader as being “ham stringed” by the opposing party who “refuses” to work with him/her.



In closing I leave you with a quote from Barry Goldwater:








A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all way.”


Class dismissed…
The thoughts and ideas expressed in this blog posting are in no way consistent with the thoughts and ideas expressed by Barack Obama or the Democrat party. Therefore, you have been notified that any thoughts and ideas expressed in this blog posting are the equivalent of hate speech as defined by any mainstream media news outlet. Furthermore, aforementioned thoughts and ideas may cause offense to Democrats, liberals,non-achievers, those afflicted with wealth-envy, and any and all followers of the "Chosen One"...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

No Passing Sones - Julie


No, no, it's not Stones. She wasn't named by someone with a fear of kidney ailments...


Julie came home with me the same day as Stacker. They were having a two for one sale ;-) She is probably my clingiest dog. She's usually at my side (or anyone else's for that matter) soliciting (demanding) an ear scratch.

She's also my zoomiest dog. I've worked with all my dogs and they have good recalls. We enjoy hiking on a private piece of property nearby. The trails are rather closed in on either side with overgrown bushes, trees, etc. We were hiking one day and came down to a clearing by the lake. Julie started doing laps around us, getting farther and farther out. Well, the real estate ran out and she went flying off the bank and into the creek! I'd like to point out that this location is the exception to the rule. In unfamiliar areas they stay on lead with me.




She really is a crazy dog sometimes. The apartment where I used to live in Atlanta had it's own driveway and garage. I drove a full-size truck at the time so it stayed in the driveway. It did fit in the garage, but I had to make sure I had enough clean laundry because it blocked the laundry room (and pretty much everything else). I would always back up to the garage so I could load the dogs when it was time to go out. I customized it specifically for them, adding a camper shell and carpeted bedliner. I took out the back glass and sealed the cab with the bed so I could heat and cool the back and keep them comfortable. I also built shelves and elevated the floor so I could haul everything I needed with me without hoisting it onto the roof.



So, I would call up to Julie and Stacker to have them come down the stairs, through the garage and into the back of the truck. Julie became so programmed that she didn't think through the process anymore. She took two steps through the garage and jumped into the truck. Well, one day I had pulled into the driveway instead of backing into it. I figured the dogs would follow me to the back of the truck and then jump in. Well, remember Julie's programming? She took two steps, jumped, freaked, then jumped again. End result? Greyhound on roof.



St. Louis, MO - 2003 - Photograph by Ken Standerford


Cartersville, GA - 2006 - Photograph by Shot On Site

I tried her at lure coursing and she did very well. However, during a run in St. Louis, Missouri, she hyper extended her front leg during a turn causing some soft tissue damage. That was over 5 years ago. That injury still turns up in the form of a limp if she's hiking for long periods or races around the yard for a long time.


Julie & Allie in the Narrows of Green River Gorge, NC - 2007

I like hiking with her because she doesn't get far away on our local hikes and she's generally easy to keep with me. However, with her recurring limp, I have to make sure the hikes aren't too long for her.



Signal Point, Chattanooga, TN - 2008

I've learned a lot from her and, because of that (and Jen-thanks hon!), it will only make me more successful with those that follow in her steps. If it weren't for Julie (and Stacker) I wouldn't be where I am now. Adopting these two introduced to me to the great people in the Southeastern Greyhound Club (SEGC). I ended up marrying one of those people and I couldn't be happier. I honestly can say that my life changed completely because of these dogs.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Stacker's Open Apology Response

At this time I am struggling to accept the open apology offered by Go Peanut Go (aka Nut). This malicious, unprovoked attack has left me battered and bruised. In no way did I "get what was coming to me" as some have already suggested. Nobody knows the true reason behind why I did what I did. Well, it's time the truth is told!


Ever since the "incident" I've been lying awake at night crying over what happened. You see, I really am a nice guy.





I happily share my space with others







Ladies First!







I'm also the night watchman when we sleep over at Mom and Dad's







So, when I saw Riley running with the Nut I was immediately afraid for my little sister.

The Nut is no stranger to violence.





She even tried to end my mom's agility career.

Whenever I would approach her and ask her to play nice she would just laugh in my face.







So you see, I didn't want to see my sister become another Nut statistic. She's too young to have her career cut short. Me on the other hand:

I'm gettin' old.

I'm not as fast as I used to be.

Riley has so much left ahead of her. I felt the only thing I could do was to step in the way and keep an aspiring agility star's career from tragically being cut short.

So now I wait to see the outcome of my chivalrous deed. I may lose my toe as a result. But I'm here to tell you I'd do it all over again if it saved one more family member from becoming another victim of the Nut.



History Lesson Coming Soon!

Stay tuned for a stroll through history.
Study up on your "forms of government" chapter!

Monday, November 3, 2008

TIME TO VOTE!!





If you're waiting until tomorrow, I hope you brought comfortable shoes!!

Is it just coincidence the street sign suggests not going left??????

Hazel Creek - Part 3


video



Lucky for me, I wasn't the one who woke up with enough bear fur under their hammock to make a rug! Nothing seemed distrubed so I'm sure we weren't visited overnight.




video



Day three will take us down Forney Creek to Fontana Lake. Our original plan was to hike back over Welch Ridge via Bear Creek Trail to Hazel Creek and hike out to the boats. Smith was suffering from blisters and I was developing a problem with my right instep so covering that much elevation (up and down) didn't sound like a good idea. Looking at the map we could bypass crossing the ridge by following the lake via the Lakeshore Trail.



video


At the next campsite we saw a group that had come in on horseback from the other direction. Smith and I decided next time we come out here we would bring horses.