Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part XXIII

I am posting stories from my job, because I think they're funny.  I've done my best to disguise my company name, even the industry, and to keep the people I write about and even some details of the situation anonymous.  If you know me, and know where I work, please don't include details in your comments.  I'll have to delete your comment and reconsider posting these stories.

Well, apparently the driver that arrived without bringing an empty trailer with him last week wasn't an anomaly.  Someone from the same company showed up over the weekend (as they were supposed to do), picked up the trailer we left here on the lot for them (as they were supposed to do), but didn't leave an empty in its place (as they WERE supposed to do, but didn't).  Then Monday, a THIRD driver showed up with just a tractor, no trailer.

What we can't figure out is what on earth the company is thinking.  Whether you live load or do as we do, and pre-load one trailer, and have them swap and empty for a loaded, I can only think of one circumstance in which a company wouldn't need an empty trailer to be brought in when the driver arrives--they're firing the trucking company and this is the last load to ever be picked up.  Otherwise, no matter the method, you've got to have an empty trailer, either to load while the driver waits, or to replace the full one being taken away so you have one to load later for the next guy.  I don't understand why the trucking company doesn't realize this.

So the one over the weekend we couldn't prevent, and had to just ask them to bring another one as soon as they could.  But once again, the boss wouldn't let the driver leave with our loaded trailer this week until they brought us a new one, which just makes our customer's load late.  I guess he's been burned before with letting the driver leave without replacing the trailer, but it sucks for our customer.  Not sure what the trucking company is smoking to not just send a trailer in the first weird.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Quick Groundwork 8/25/15

Shar and I had talked about riding, but she ended up going out to see a movie, plus it was really smoky, so I just decided to do a quick groundwork session and head home.  I got Arya out and tied her to the trailer to give her a once-over and a quick grooming session.

Flash was loose on the property (front gate closed to make sure he didn't wander TOO far), and he not only came over to my car when I first drove in, but he followed me around while I worked with Arya, too.  Not in an obnoxious way, he's very polite, but just . . . constantly there.  I got her out of the pen, and he tried to follow me.  Of course, I went through the lush green backyard, so I'm sure that had something to do with it.  But then I took her over to the trailer, and he followed us there, too.  I tied her up, and went into the barn to fetch the grooming kit, and he poked his head into the barn to check out where I'd disappeared to.  Then as I brushed Arya and picked her feet, he followed me around from one side to the other, watching, and snuffling my neck when I bent over.

I took Arya over to the round pen, and Flash followed along.  He probably would've followed us right inside if I'd let him, but I shut the gate behind just me and Arya.  Ha!  While I worked Arya, Flash just stood outside, not far from the gate, munching on the weeds.

Meanwhile, I got the whip and got myself situated.  I am SO uncoordinated that handling a rope with one hand and a whip with the other are pretty much beyond my capabilities, but I give it my best.  :-)
I pointed with the rope hand and clucked to Arya, fully expecting the next step to be to flick the whip at her (and the next step after THAT, if she hadn't started moving, would be to actually flick the whip to hit her in the butt).  To my great surprise and pleasure, she moved off with just the point and cluck!  After a week or so of no work!  I was so proud of her!  Of course, it took another cluck to actually get the trot, and she did get lazy and I had to remind her a few times to trot when she broke down to a walk.  But still...

After the first couple reminders that no, I wanted her to trot and expected her to take on the responsibility (Celena's word, and a good one!) of maintaining that gait, she did, grudgingly.  :-)  That girl is nothing if not LAZY.  :-)  We worked on stopping and facing me, and she did so nearly perfectly each time.  I think only once did I have to ask her to swing her butt a little further.  She always stopped when I asked, and didn't try to move in toward me.  GOOD girl!  I asked her to back (from the end of the rope) and come toward me a couple times, and she got face rubs a few of the times, but we worked on stopping and then starting back up, making sure not to always have her start off going the opposite direction, but switching it up between same/different to keep things at least slightly interesting.  But she was always VERY good about departing, not crowding, and stopping when I asked.  WHAT a good girl!

I tried to take some video to at least send to Celena, but if I'm clumsy with a rope and a whip, you should see me trying to negotiate with a rope, whip, and phone!  And Arya trying to figure out what on earth I'm trying to ask her.  "Hm, that looks like go, no wait now she's saying stop, no, now she's playing a game that involves whapping herself in the face with a whip.  What is up with my crazy human?  Maybe I'll just go hang out next to Flash."  Anyway, so here's a still from when I was trying to shoot video.  Cut off her ears and her hooves (what, she's big!) but at least you can see that look of confusion in her eye.  :-)

I probably should have also done a walk out the driveway, but now it was me who was too lazy.  And it was smoky and starting to affect me.  (I think the meth-y Zyrtec-D I've been taking helps, and was starting to wear off.)  So we called it a day and I took her over to the grass and let her graze a bit as a reward for a good session (well, ending the session quickly and not doing anything else was probably already a good enough reward, and grass was just the icing on the cake, or whatever).  Flash dutifully followed and kept her company while she grazed.  :-)  She didn't MIND, but she certainly didn't care whether she had company or not.  She'd wander off, and Flash would realize she'd disappeared, lift up his head to find her, then follow along.  Too cute.

So here's a funny.  Emma's the horse that Arya's been the most bonded to, probably causing her barn-sour-ness (though it's also somewhat just because that's HOME, and not because of WHO is waiting for her there, I'm sure).  Emma is in the pasture that's just behind Flash and Arya in that picture above.  It adjoins the pasture that Arya's in, and they can visit over the fence, but the majority of both pastures doesn't have visibility to the other.  So when I pulled Arya out of the pasture and into Emma's view, Emma started hollering.  And when I took Arya to the opposite side of the trailer to groom her, Emma REALLY threw a fit.  Either she calmed down when I took Arya to the round pen or I was too busy concentrating to notice her, but whatever.  Then when I turned Arya loose to graze, Emma was standing at the gate, right near the grassy area, nickering at Arya and banging on the gate, trying to get her attention.  Arya completely ignored her.  However, after a few minutes of nibbling (no, that makes it sound too dainty--she was SNARFING) the green grass, Arya moseyed over to the dry dead grass right next to the pasture Emma is in.  Emma, now that she finally had her friend close enough to almost touch, moseyed off toward the hay feeder.  Sheesh.  What was THAT about.  Weirdo.  :-)

But anyway, very proud of my girlie for remembering our training through her week or so off, and then willingly performing for me when I asked.  Hopefully soon we'll do an actual ride, either a training ride around home with a buddy horse (lots of circling and such just like we did with Celena) or else a nice long trail ride OFF the property.  One or the other, hopefully both within the next week or so...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Part XXIII

I am posting stories from my job, because I think they're funny.  I've done my best to disguise my company name, even the industry, and to keep the people I write about and even some details of the situation anonymous.  If you know me, and know where I work, please don't include details in your comments.  I'll have to delete your comment and reconsider posting these stories.

This DOES involve a trucking company, but since it's not a truck driver, I'm classing it as just a regular old workplace story.

It's bad enough that I have to chase down invoices because apparently they rely on drivers to turn in paperwork that generates invoices, but today was a new one on me.

We'd gotten a quote from a trucking company prior to shipping to a new customer.  But when the bill came in, it was way lower than the quote (and therefore way lower than what we charged the customer).  Yay for making a profit on it, I guess, but that's not fair to our customer, and we'd rather have it corrected now than have a surprise later.  So I verified using Google Maps that it's 822 miles door to door (though of course the trucking companies sometimes charge based on a few more miles than that, especially if the trucks have to take a slightly different route than a car would or due to allowing for a couple of times getting off the freeway a bit for gas and/or rest stops) but they had only charged us 691 miles.

I e-mailed the company and told them they'd charged us for 691, but Google Maps showed 822, and asked if they would like to check into that and revise the bill.  I just got a reply this morning: 

"I have gotten this checked over and it is billed correctly."

Okay, if you say so.  Apparently [Trucking Company] has managed to find a shortcut that Google Maps doesn't know about.  Various "as the crow flies" apps online put the distance at ~710 miles, so they must be able to take the REALLY direct route, cutting through the curvature of the earth.  Oh well.  I did the right thing by bringing it to their attention, and hopefully if they DO revise the invoice later, after doing this much research on it, I'll remember it and be able to happily pay the added amount without freaking out.  :-)

*** Update:  They not only didn't revise their bill, they've shipped that route for us again, and once again billed for only 691 miles.  So weird.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Lesson Time! 8/15/15

So, after the past few rides out from the property, both solo and with other horses and riders, have gone less than optimally, I knew it was time to call out the big guns.  Celena is a great trainer of horses and riders alike, and I've had a few sessions with her, both one-on-one, semi-private, and in a small group clinic, but I knew that for THIS problem, she'd have to come to me instead of me going to her.  We made plans for her to come out on Saturday.

I arrived an hour or so early.  I originally thought I'd do some groundwork first, then realized that Celena would be starting with that, of course, so I probably shouldn't bother.  Arya'd be working hard enough once the lesson began.  :-)  So I just groomed her up nicely.  It'd been a while since I'd combed out her mane and tail, so I did a thorough grooming including those tasks.  Isn't she pretty?

But I can't really see her mane or tail, you say...

Well, here's here tail...

But this is what happens when I try to take a photo from the mane side when the sun is shining from that side.  :-)  Just watch the photos of the actual lesson for fluffy mane and tail.  :-)

When Celena and Paige (her trusty working student and today, puppy-sitter) arrived, the first order of business was for me to greet Tribe, Celena's new puppy.  He's SO adorable!  She also brought Luna, who I'd met before but got duly greeted as well.  And I let Noelle out of the house so SHE could greet everyone.  Happy puppies all around.

Then Celena had me show her in the round pen how I usually work Arya.  The truth is, I haven't been doing as much groundwork as I should be.  But we did some, then Celena took over to show me all the ways I was doing it wrong.  No, not really, she's much too nice to put it like that, but seriously, that was essentially the purpose.  :-)

First, I need to be sure I'm teaching Arya "responsibility."  She needs to maintain the gait she's put into (later on, she should also maintain speed within that gait, but we're going to just focus on the gait itself for now).  I've been pretty good about working on that when lunging.  She also need to work on the end of a line when lunging withOUT leaning on the rope.  I have NOT been good about reinforcing that.  Oops.  Celena also had to remind Arya a few times that when she cues her to go, she needs to GO.  Celena told me that when training a young horse, or a horse new to a specific task or cue, sure, you should gradually increase the "ask," by turning the virtual dial up slowly--1, 2, 3, 4, 5.  However, once a horse KNOWS what you're asking and is just being stubborn (e.g. Arya), then you can and should ask nicely, but when they don't respond, immediately turn the dial all the way up to reinforce that their life will be much more pleasant if they respond right away.  So ask with a level 1 or 2 cue, then immediately move to 5.  (Or 11, if the situation warrants.)  Arya was pretty stubborn about the "go" cue the first few times, but Celena got her moving off pretty consistently after a bit of work.

Working on the "go" cue and maintaining responsibility at the end of the line.

Then she showed me how I should be working on not just turning Arya around to head in the opposite direction, but actually asking her to STOP and disengage her body from its previous path and turn to face me (but yet not come in toward me).  Arya actually got the hang of this pretty quickly with Celena, but I'm always much less coordinated, so was curious how it would go with me.

Celena did usually have to cue her to turn her hindquarters just a bit further away, but by the end, Arya was getting the hang of even that part of the maneuver.

So after Celena got her good and warmed up, it was my turn.  And as predicted, it didn't go nearly as well as it had with Celena at the helm.  :-)  Arya took one look at the changeover and though "ha!  now's my chance to take advantage!"  I had a hard time getting her to go, so Celena showed me how to escalate my cues, and even had me practice whapping my whip with better aim, after I whacked Arya in the face (ouch!) and on the saddle (ineffective) when I should have been whacking her rump.  But with a bit of work, we actually got her going AND stopping quite well.  In fact, she did great with the stopping for me every time, now that she knew what we wanted.  Going was a bit harder, but once we got a couple very good sessions, we quit.

The next step was to take her for a hand walk off the property.  Her BFF (and the co-problem-causer, along with Arya herself) was in the front pasture, so we planned to walk right by it.  Wouldn't you know, Emma was too busy eating to actually come up to the fenceline, but we did still see some barn/herd sourness from Arya, so Celena got to work on addressing that.  I didn't take any photos, but she started off with walking, then halting and backing, to reinforce respect for her "bubble," then also added in some circling.  Arya would get "sticky" on the part of the circle where she was heading away from home, and "rushy" on the part where she was headed toward home, so Celena asked her to circle again until she at least didn't STOP, even if she did slow a bit.  This went fine for the first time or two, but one time when Arya stopped because she wanted to stick close to home and Celena asked her to GO, Arya got pissy and actually kicked out at her.  Celena stayed calm but also let her know that that was NOT the way to go about things.  Hope it stuck.  After getting kicked in the belly and getting VERY lucky that it didn't do much damage, it makes me really nervous.

After Celena felt that Arya was being respectful from the ground, even though she would have preferred to go home and hang out with her buddy, it was time to RIDE.  First Celena, but I brought my helmet along so I could get on out on the road as well.  We set off on our usual path for a solo ride, and I pointed out to Celena the intersection where she gave me the most trouble this last time.

Here's something innovative--Celena didn't just hop on and ride to where she wanted to go (like I've been attempting to do).  She got on and asked her to walk away from home, then turn and head home, then away from home, frequently circling or doing figure eights to keep her mind busy and her body supple and always checking in with her to see how she was doing in both regards.  Duh.  I don't know why this didn't occur to me, but it truly didn't.  I'm not sure how it would have gone even if it had, though, given my nervousness, but of course with Celena it went really well.  Arya had plenty of moments of "but I don't wanna!" but Celena insisted, and then rewarded after she did it.  Something else I need to work on through all of this is NOT nagging.  I have a tendency to micromanage the speed and steering.  Celena told me to focus on getting the right GAIT, but if it's a totally pokey walk (away from home) or a totally rushy walk (toward home), don't worry about it for now.  We can fine-tune later, but for now as long as she doesn't stop altogether or break into a trot, we're not going to care what speed she's going.  I'm also not going to micromanage which way her nose is pointing (toward home, duh), as long as her feet are doing what they're supposed to.  However, I do need to pick a path along the road (dead center, one tire track, whatever), and insist that Arya stick to it, rather than letting HER pick the route we take to get where we're going.

So yeah, Celena asked her to trot (going away from home) occasionally, halt occasionally, and did lots of circles and figure eights.  She insisted that she keep moving away from home, even at the intersection where Arya showed her obvious preference to head home.  She ignored whinnying as long as the rest of her behavior was good.  And when she felt Arya was ready, she asked if I was ready to get on.  Uh, I guess so.  :-)  I'd been nervous that morning prior to Celena arriving, but after seeing her working with Arya, and working with her myself, I actually wasn't nervous to get on this time.

Celena did a LOT of circles!

And a bit of "drunken sailoring" while trying to show Arya that she COULD walk in a straight line!

It's fun to see someone else ride my horse!  This is only the second time since she's been mine that anyone else has ridden her.  And as you can see, my nice custom (for me) fenders don't work so well for even relatively tall but shorter-than-me riders.  Oops.

We took her a bit toward home than the trouble spot where Celena had been working, partly to get Arya in a little more of a comfort zone, and partly to find a bit of a ditch for me to use as a height advantage.  :-)  Paige held Arya and Celena held the off-side stirrup, and I managed to heave myself on.  And it's not an exaggeration to use that word--I did kind of have to pull myself up the last little bit--I do NOT spring up far enough to mount lightly even from a block, but definitely not from the ground!  However, Arya didn't seem to mind, so I got on, got situated, and got a drink.

Then the work began.  At Celena's direction, I did circles and figure eights.  And as soon as Arya's feet did something I didn't expect, I started to hunch forward.  This is my go-to move when I panic, even though it's exactly the WRONG thing to do, and Celena coached me through it.  Lean back!  Boobs out!  Keep contact!  Don't cross your hands over her withers!  But it was exactly what I needed, and after the first couple circles with her constant reminders on just about every aspect, I got into the groove and was circling without much except the occasional verbal reminder (sometimes just to SMILE--this is supposed to be fun, after all!).

We worked at the "bad" intersection for a while, then started working our way home, constantly circling, but rewarding good work with a nice free walk (no tugging at the reins as long as she didn't break into a trot) toward home.  When she started to get TOO rushy (i.e. trotting), we'd circle back away from home, halt a moment, continue on away from home, then circle back toward home and allow her to walk as long as feasible again.  One thing I noticed, that seemed pretty consistent, was on the side of the circle where we were headed home and then turning away from home, she was nice and soft and had a good bend in her body.  Then when we were headed away from home and I cued her to turn TOWARD home, probably because she was in a big hurry to get there, she would PLOW around the turn like a semi, no bend to her body, all stiff.  So that's probably something to work on in the future, but for now, as long as her attitude stayed soft and supple, we didn't worry about the little things.

LOTS of circles.  This wasn't the "bad" intersection, but we did lots of circles here, too.

Does this giant mustang make my butt look smaller?

Both of us walking with a purpose.  Me, to stay calm yet in control.  Arya, to get back home (behind us, as you might have noticed based on her ears) as soon as possible.

Circles, circles, circles...

Hey!  It almost looks like we're enjoying ourselves!  Even Arya is happy.  :-)  (She's headed toward home)

More looks of determination

I keep harping on the toward/away from home thing.  Her most obnoxious (and potentially dangerous, though my nervousness makes a much bigger deal out of them than they really are) behavior improved a TON just based on the groundwork, and then improved more with Celena.  But you could still have closed your eyes and known whether you were headed toward or away from home at almost any point--she was a slowpoke headed away from home, would pull toward home when perpendicular to the route, and would rush toward home when headed that direction.  Something to work on longer term, but a HUGE improvement over our latest solo ride.

However, when we got pretty close to home, I'd been riding her on a loose rein but she was still rushing toward home, but at one point, she actually relaxed and quit even rushing.  Maybe we were close enough that it counted as being home, maybe she just figured we'd get there eventually, who knows.  But she completely relaxed and no longer worried about how FAST we'd actually go down the driveway, and even calmly walked right past the driveway.  Good girl!!!  Celena had been talking about getting back on her herself, but decided to reward her good behavior by having her be done.

So when we got back, I pulled tack and immediately let her graze on the green grass in the front yard.

Isn't Tribe the cutest?  I tried taking a bunch of photos, but most turned out blurry, of course.

Then, per Shar's request, I turned the two geldings (Flash, and another boarder named Jag) out to graze, too.  They munched on the nice green grass for a little while.  And meanwhile, Arya headed over to eat some brown dry grass instead--weirdo!  Then the boys went for a bit of a walkabout and explored the property.  Jag even round-penned himself.  We'd apparently left it open after we used it, and he moseyed inside, took a spin, and wandered back out again.  :-)  They eventually headed back to the green grass (they're smarter than Arya), and I put Arya away and headed home.

Jag finishing up his round pen session
Lessons for me:

  • I have to do more groundwork, and I have to be consistent
  • When I do ride, I need to have confidence.  She CAN do what she's asked, I just need to stay calm and remember how to ask
  • However, I also need to set ourselves both up for success by taking small bites instead of big ones--i.e. doing the circling and such from the get-go so that she doesn't get single-minded about her goal while I tune out and hope for the best, but rather we both tune into each other from the start.

Obviously, having Celena work with Arya helped a lot, but I think more than anything, just having her there to direct ME helped a TON.  I have homework to work on before we attempt solo riding from home again, but I actually feel confident that if we were to try, it might not go perfectly smoothly, but that I'd be able to handle it, which is more than I can say for how I felt a few days ago.  So yay! 

I was supposed to go work with Arya Sunday to reinforce all the good stuff from Saturday, but I was home-bound with sinus issues from all the smoke, and didn't want to venture out.  So I'm going to MAKE myself go out there tonight, no matter how crappy I feel (less of a feat when I'm already out of the house and more than halfway there), and do some groundwork and a bit of a handwalk.  No riding tonight.  

Friday, August 14, 2015

Solo Ride 8/7/15

Man, this summer is slipping away, and I just haven't been riding much.  So I decided to ride this week, come hell or high water, and only got around to it on Friday.  I'd been feeling all allergy-laden (I've come to realize it's probably all the smoke in the air from wild fires) all week and not up to being outdoors.  Shar and I talked all week about riding, and I bailed on her every time, then by the time Friday came around, I was finally ready to ride, and she couldn't for some reason I don't remember now--had already ridden that day, I think, and was just wiped?

I tacked up my girlie...

What are we doin' today?

When I went to mount up, the usual butterflies started up, but for some reason, my silly girl finally stood still for me to mount.  She shuffled one foot a bit (totally forgivable, probably to redistribute weight after my significant poundage was added), but didn't actually MOVE.  Good girl!  We stood a moment, then set off.  She made a move for the green grass in the driveway, but willingly enough headed for the exit off the property instead.  She once again hinted that she wouldn't mind heading toward the former grazing area (it's all dead and dry now, though, but she apparently doesn't realize that) near the arena, but once again more than willingly went in the direction I suggested instead.

I decided to let her decide which way we'd leave the property.  I've been turning left only, ever since she got REALLY attached to the neighbor horses one day and I had a hard time UN-latching her to make any progress, but the older horse passed away and the younger pony has found a new home, so that property no longer has horses.  It add a tiny bit of distance, but is a decent change in scenery (yet is scenery she's seen before, nothing brand new).  Or I didn't mind continuing our old habit.  So I let her choose.  We turned right.  Okay.  She was walking out fairly well--much better than the other direction, where she veers toward home, then when I steer her the other way, she "overcorrects" as if to say, "oh, you want to turn right, huh, well let's just turn ALL the way around and head home, then!"  I was working on deep breathing, relaxing, and letting my lower back be soft and plyable.  I took a deep breath and settled my seat, and she picked up a trot.  Hmm.  I didn't exactly ASK for it, but that is actually one of the exercises we did at Celena's clinic, so maybe she thought I asked for it.  I decided to go with it and let her trot a bit.  I was pleased with the fact she was being so forward while headed away from home.

Well.  That lasted all of 10 seconds or so, before I realized what she was up to.  She veered into a driveway (which, of course, conveniently [for her] pointed toward home).  Uh uh!  I finally pulled her up to a stop, but THAT was naughty!  So now we'd be sticking to a walk for the foreseeable future.  She walked willingly enough, and fairly straight, but kept trying to break into a trot.  I knew why--we were coming around to the corner with the junction where we're normally coming from the other way.  Normally, we'd be going west, then would turn north (then jog west again soon after).  Now, we were headed north, and would continue north at that junction (then turn west again soon).  She, of course, really really wanted to head east, toward home.

As we approached the intersection, I mentally prepared for her to want to turn.  I tried to physically stay relaxed.  A half dozen strides or so before the actual road took off, and a couple strides before she could even physically make much of a turn (due to a fence), she started trotting, then as soon as the fence ended, she darted toward home, on the shoulder of the road right next to the fence.

Okay.  Let me interject something here.  Those of you with horses who truly BOLT are going to laugh at me, mentally if not aloud.  Those of you with horses who buck or rear are going to think I'm insane.  Those of you with horses who go apeshit in any manner are likely to think I'm a total wuss.  Sorry.  This is my blog, and these are my feelings.  Even though in rational terms, she wasn't actually THAT naughty, I was getting scared-er by the second, and was physically shaking.

Okay, back to Arya.  She was jigging along the fenceline--barely faster than a walk, but her feet were trotting.  I was trying to one-rein stop, or even just steer her away from the fence, but her brain was on home, and her darling Emma, and NOT on me in the slightest.  She danced closer to the fence (wire grid on wood posts, luckily not barbed wire or T-posts), and my leg even rammed into it once, luckily without incident.  But I was a nervous wreck, and afraid I'd come off, and especially afraid I'd come off and get tangled in the fence.  And I was unable to control her speed OR direction.  I needed to get off, and do it under MY terms.  She kept dancing and prancing, and I knew I couldn't get off safely (I wasn't asking for gracefully, but at least in a spot that was level enough I wouldn't roll and ankle or twist a knee (right, Alanna and/or Wendy?), and without tangling my foot in the stirrup or any other equipment (right, Alanna?).  Finally, she pranced her way over to the dirt road and stood still for three seconds or so, and I hopped off, safely.  Whew.

But this needed to NOT be a reward for her.  Nosirree.  She needed to think we'd been having a nice ride while I was on board, and a very much NOT nice time after she became naughty and I got off.

I backed her up as fast as I could manage, from the road into and out of the ditch and nearly up to the fence she'd been trying to rub me off on (actually, I'm pretty sure she wasn't trying anything of the sort, just trying to go home and not thinking of much else).  I circled her until her mind was on me, and her feet didn't slow when heading away from her darling Emma or speed up when she was headed toward her darling Emma.  First at the trot, then the walk, until each was a steady rhythm.  I did some lateral work, pivoting her hind end around her front end and a little bit of sidepassing.  We walked and trotted away from home a ways, interspersing these exercises (a LOT of backing!) throughout.

Finally, she seemed to be focused on me instead of her buddy who was SO lonely (not--there are three other horses in the pasture!) at home, so we started heading toward home, but not in any hurry.  We stopped and touched things that made funny noises, like a plastic mailbox (whose owner came out and shooed us away--oops!) and stop signs, we backed up some more, and we stopped and stood still periodically.

Along the way, I took some pictures of our shadows:

Then, when we got back home, I didn't want arriving home to mean she was done working and immediately got to visit her buddy.  So I took her straight to the roundpen and put her to work.  I kept the bridle on and everything, just looped the reins through the pommel so they couldn't fall down.  Worked her in circles both directions, changing directions a couple times.  First, she was so high-energy she was cantering around, then she slowed to a trot but I made her keep it there for a while, then we ended with walking as I don't want to reinforce that circling (whether in the round pen or on a line) means FAST.  By the end she was definitely paying attention to me, and asking permission to come hang with me.  I stopped her and made her stay out on the circle for a minute, then allowed her to come in for some rubs.

Photo above, video below of the round pen work.

But even now that we were done with the work, and I was going to go into the house for some shade and cold water, SHE wasn't going to get to immediately go back to her buddy.  Not yet.  I got her some nice cold water and tied her to the trailer and untacked her, and she stood there for another hour or so while Shar and I recapped and I messaged Celena that we definitely needed an on-site lesson to deal with her buddy sourness.  Now that it's taken me a week to write this, Celena's coming tomorrow, and I'm very much looking forward to her assessment, and adding some tools to my toolbox of dealing with Arya.  When I think about it objectively, I should be able to stay on and make her continue our ride, but in the moment, I freeze up and can't think about anything except the danger of falling and how I have to get off before I fall off.  So I don't know if I'm hoping she'll help me with my confidence, or just with dealing with Arya if/when I get off onto the ground, or what.  We'll see what tomorrow brings...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Weekend in WA

So, my brother had a baby a few weeks ago.  Well, his wife is the one who gave birth.  THEY had a baby.  Anyway, so I wanted to go visit.  I proposed a weekend, and my dad said that was a great time to visit because the airplane's annual inspection was expiring, and he hadn't been able to get an appointment for a few weeks, so we should head up Thursday so they could fly Friday before it expired at midnight.  Then my brother said that weekend wouldn't be good if we wanted to see him, because he was working a swing shift, then a day shift, then a midnight shift all in a row, with only enough hours off in between them to sleep.  But I was also planning to visit again a few weeks later, so the plane thing tipped the scales toward going.  I asked for Friday off work and asked to bring Nathan to work on Thursday.  My co-worker had to leave early for something, and my boss and I were just sitting there in the quiet, and he suggested I just go ahead and leave.  We got out of there about 25 minutes early.

And up on the mountain pass between Bend and Portland, where they're doing blasting (presumably to widen the road, or at least the shoulders, or something), they were going to have the road closed for an hour to do some blasting.  And we made it through there exactly 25 minutes before they closed it.  Woo!

We had a quick dinner at Chipotle in Gresham (still don't have one of those in Bend), and made it to my dad's house around 10 p.m.  We chatted a while, then went to bed.

Friday we got up and had a leisurely breakfast, then headed to my brother's house to meet the baby and set plans for the day/weekend.  I got to hold Mason a little bit.  He was sound asleep and didn't even stir.  The plan was for my dad and Nathan to head to the airport for a bit of flying.  My brother would meet them after their flight to take Nathan himself before heading for work, then they'd come back for me (I'd be hanging out at my dad's house) and we'd go to Eric's and Ying's for dinner, though Eric would be at work.  Her parents were there from Thailand, as well as Ying's brother and sister-in-law, who live with them, and they wanted to cook a big Thai dinner for us, even if Eric couldn't be there.

Gotta love little baby toes!

Part of what we talked about was possibly going swimming on Saturday, and both Nathan and I forgot to bring any swimsuits, so when they headed to the airport, I headed to Wal-Mart to look for some.  Of course, who buys swimsuits in August when it's actually hot?  They were well into back-to-school mode (and probably only days away from Halloween displays), with the selection of swimsuits having been picked over back when they were first displayed in probably March, so it took some searching, but I finally found a swimsuit bottom that would work for me, and I'd wear my exercise bra (thick, lots of coverage, and black) as a top, and I found a pair of shorts for Nathan, but they weren't swim trunks.  I headed home and knitted a while on a blanket I was working on for Mason.  I'd started it when I first heard the news that they were expecting, then in the heat of summer had kind of slacked off and needed to get it finished now that he was here.

Dad and Nathan got back about the time that they had agreed Eric would meet them at the airport--apparently Eric was feeling too sick to fly, and had begged off.  So now with quite a bit of time ahead of us before we were expected for dinner, we decided to go swimming now.  It was the weekend of SeaFair, a huge event in the Seattle area, with hydroplane races and Blue Angels flyovers, and it was HOT, so the first park we went to was full, as my dad expected, but we continued on and found another park along the shore of Lake Washington to swim.  The water was full of "seaweed," but it was cool and refreshing.  We swam for a while, then headed back home and changed into dry clothes for dinner.  

I got to see and hold Mason again, and he was AWAKE this time, which was awesome.  

He was actually much more interested in looking at my dad than looking at me.  We speculated it could be because grandpa looks a lot like daddy, but maybe it's more about the distance he can focus at right now.  Who knows...

There we go--a little eye contact!

We had a lovely dinner--they made fried tofu and left the chicken out of a mixed vegetable dish that usually has it so I'd have plenty to eat, plus made a shrimp dish that Dad said was delicious, and some yummy sauce.  I could've filled up on just rice and that sauce and been perfectly happy, but everything was good.  And bonus surprise, Eric was sick enough to get out of work way early, and was there to hang out with us, too.  We had a nice evening hanging out in their backyard.  Eric and Ying have done a lot of work to make a nice sanctuary back there--a large patio with a future brick pizza oven, large outdoor kitchen with a sink and BBQ and gas burners and a lot of counter space, a large roof area, etc.  It's wonderful, and very much reminiscent of Ying's parents' house (and many houses) in Thailand, with a huge focus on outdoor living, though of course that's not pratical nearly as many days of the year in Washington, though they're have an awesome summer for it now!  I got a few bug bites, but it was worth it.

Saturday, Eric had to work most of the day, so there were no plans to go over there.  So we decided to spend the day focused on swimming, and I asked if we could also bring Radar (my dad's dog) along.  Radar is an adorable mutt, probably the largest portion of his breeding is Chow--he's VERY fluffy.  My dad had gotten him shaved relatively recently, but he still seemed really hot, so I thought he might enjoy a day of hanging out near/in water.  My dad had taken him once before and he wasn't very interested in swimming, but I thought maybe with the heat it might be a little more incentive.  :-)

So the plan was to first head to a dog park with swimming access, then to a more people-focus (yet still with dogs allowed) swimming spot after that.  We went to Marymoor Off-Leash Dog Park.  Wow, they're not kidding about it being doggie Disneyland.  If you live or visit anywhere in the greater Puget Sound Area (okay, at least the greater Seattle area), and have a dog you like at least a little bit, you HAVE to take him or her to this park.  It is absolutely HUGE, and has water access for fetching/swimming in the water.  We pulled up and parked, and I was surprised that while it's an off-leash dog area, it doesn't have the usual double-gated entry point.  It was mostly fenced, but had just gaps in the fences instead of actual gates.  So if you have a dog likely to bolt, I guess you're on your own to keep it on leash until well into the park and leash up again before getting near the "gates."  Radar was fine, though, so he was off leash from the get-go and never strayed far.  He loved romping through the dry grass while we moseyed along the trails, and he especially loved meeting all the other dogs out there, from giant Great Danes to tiny Chihuauas and everything in between.  Radar is always a happy, expressive dog, but I swear he was grinning ear to ear.  

However, when we got to the water access point, he wasn't nearly so impressed.  Dad and I were wearing sandals, so we waded in to try to encourage him (he doesn't really fetch, so that wasn't going to entice him).  At first, he tried stepping anywhere BUT the water.  He'd get close, and step out onto a stepping-stone or two, but didn't want to touch the water.  Then eventually he put a toe in the water, but was not impressed and tried escaping up, out of the water under the fence (which luckily had a chicken wire fence behind it, so he couldn't go far).  He ended up slipping and falling into the water.  Oops!  But it did the trick on breaking the tension anyway, and he went in a LITTLE more willingly after that.  However, he was VERY tentative--always watching his step, sure that any change in the footing was his certain doom, and he clearly was not enjoying it.  He wandered around near Dad for a little bit, then told us he was done, as he wandered out of the water and off down the path sniffing dogs and such.

(Not my photo, snagged it from the internets)
We wandered off after him, and discovered that in addition to this entry point, there were THREE more, for a total of four.  Most of the others were wider, and they all had gravel and erosion protection, though most weren't as shaded as this one.  We tried again to get him to go in, and Dad and I were hot enough that we actually went swimming ourselves.  It turns out that even though the entry side of the "slough" (it's the Sammamish slough, but that word makes me think of grossly slow-flowing water, and this was too river-like to be called that, in my opinion) is shallow, and stays that way for a while, it gets pretty darn deep very quickly toward the middle.  We swam, but Radar was not interested in getting any more than his feet and legs wet.  Oh well.

We left the water area and wandered back through the trails through the dry grass again, then back to the car.  We stopped at a radio-controlled airport area, though no one was flying.  That park is HUGE and has a lot of different activities.  From there, we hit the highway and drove on non-freeway highways and backroads toward our next destination, stopping first in North Bend for lunch.  We had Radar with us, so looked for a place with outdoor seating.  We spotted one, and I hopped out to ask if they allowed dogs near the patio seating.  They allowed him not only NEAR the eating area, but right in there with us.  He sat under the table, greeting everyone who walked by (including the servers, who couldn't have been nicer about having him there--they even gave him some ice water in a stainless steel container).  The lunch was awesome, and then we hit the road for a few more minutes...

...ending up at Rattlesnake Lake.  There's a pretty arduous trail up onto a ridge there--we could see people up at the top on a little bitty rock outcropping.  Dad had hiked the trail a while back, and said it was a nice, if tough hike, and that Nathan and I were welcome to attempt it, but once was enough for him.  Well, it was a HOT day, so we were perfectly happy just to hang out at the lake.  The shore isn't very beachy--lots of large-ish rocks, plus the shore and water is full of stumps, but the water was great (a little colder than Sammamish Slough had been, but refreshing!) after getting hot on the walk from the car to the water.  Radar reiterated his lack of interest in the water.  He didn't HATE it, and wasn't exactly afraid of it, but he just didn't enjoy it.  He got in a little more readily than he had at the dog park, but not far and not for long.  Oh well, guess he's just not a water dog.

We played in the water for a while, then found a grassy spot to cool off (out of the hot sun) and warm up (from the cold water).  Nathan went and played in the water some more, and meanwhile what had started as just a couple high school or college-age kids turned into about 30 kids all waiting for their bus to un-park and come pick them up, swapping stories about the hike, and how hard-core they were for going off trail and straight down a cliff (to hear them tell it).  Kind of amusing, kind of annoying for those of us trying to relax/doze.  

Meanwhile, I'd been knitting away at all our stops and in the car, and I finally finished the knitting in the car on the way home, then just had to weave in the ends at home and wash it and lay it out in the sun to dry.

Eventually we left there and headed home, where Dad's girlfriend met up with us and Dad made us a delicious dinner of meat, corn, salad, and probably something else I no longer remember, which we ate outside again.  After dinner, we played some silly games and had fun first outside, then inside when it got too dark.  Meanwhile, I accumulated some more bug bites.  Ugh.

Eric was working a mid shift Saturday night to Sunday morning, and got off work at 8:00, so we checked with him about what time he wanted us to come, and he said 10-ish.  Dad and his girlfriend and I were up earlier than that, so we went on a bit of a walkabout and picked some blackberries, and Dad also pan-roasted some pecans.  We took those over to Eric's to add to the toppings he already had for Norwegian pancakes (aka Swedish pancakes or crepes).  And boy, between all the household members/guests from his house and us extra guests, we put away a TON of pancakes.

I got to give Eric and Ying the blanket for little Mason:

And of course I got to hold the little guy some more:

Apparently he wants to punch me!

Oh look, a picture actually OF me holding him.  :-)

Mason and his grandma (Ying's mom)

Ying with her neice - Ying's brother and sister and their daughter live with them.  She's shy around strangers, so was giving me the "you're a stranger to me!" stare.

Mason and his mam, with Dearna (the niece) in the background)

Ying and Mason, then Ying's SIL, neice, and Brother all in the photo, too.  Everyone is chowing down on the Norwegian pancakes ("weegies").

From there, Nathan and I headed back to Dad's to grab anything we'd forgotten and then headed home--a six-hour drive.  We stopped at Chipotle again.  :-)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part XXII

I am posting stories from my job, because I think they're funny.  I've done my best to disguise my company name, even the industry, and to keep the people I write about and even some details of the situation anonymous.  If you know me, and know where I work, please don't include details in your comments.  I'll have to delete your comment and reconsider posting these stories.

We had a load scheduled to go to northern California, normally just a one day trip.  However, when the driver still hadn't shown up by noon, we were getting a bit concerned about it getting delivered on time.  Finally, the driver showed up, but just in a truck without a trailer attached.  We pre-load the trailers here on our site so technically that isn't a problem--the driver could just hook up to the loaded trailer and go.  HOWEVER, that leaves us without an empty trailer to pre-load for the next customer, and so on and so on.  So the owner of the company didn't want to let this load go until we had a trailer.  If not ON the lot, at least on its way for sure, and not just an empty promise.  So he told the driver as much, and the driver got on the phone with his company.

An hour or so later, the driver comes back in to the office.  He finally got a trailer lined up for us, and the trucking company asked him to go pick it up.  "It's in Portland, which is what, 300 miles?  So you guys will still be here when I get back, right?"

Okay, let's do the math on that.  We'll be here until 5:00, which is four hours from now.  Do you plan to drive 75 miles an hour AVERAGE between here and Portland, including slowing down for towns, stopping at stoplights, and you know, the whole MOUNTAIN PASS thing?  Not to mention having to actually stop for a few minutes to attach the trailer...  Granted, one way will be with just a tractor and no trailer, and the other way will be with an empty trailer, but the maximum speed limit between here and Portland, except for MAYBE a few minutes on I-84, is 55.  Good luck averaging 75.

I patiently explained to the driver that even the near side of Portland is a 2 1/2 hour drive in a car, so add on however far through Portland he'd have to drive, going slower on the uphill parts of the pass, and likely the downhill parts, too, and he would most definitely not make it back before we left for the day.  So I gave him his paperwork so he'd have it once he did get back to pick up the loaded trailer, and asked if he'd be able to make it to the destination on his allotted hours (I doubted it, but figured I'd ask).  He said sure, no problem, though of course I had my doubts, based on his estimation of what a round trip to Portland should take (which, by the way, he had just come from and also happens to be where he lives, so it's not like he didn't know how far it was in TIME, not just distance).

Sure enough, we got a notification from the trucking company that our load was being delayed.  They said the new ETA was 11:00 p.m.  Hmmm, I'm pretty sure exactly NONE of our customers would appreciate a delivery at that time, even if they live at the site where it's being delivered, but this customer is a retail location and I'm sure they weren't open that late.  Heh.  So of course we had them reschedule it further until the morning.

So, morning comes, and we're going to check with the customer to make sure the load did, indeed deliver, and before we had a chance to call them, they called us.  I was the one who picked up the phone, and said we'd been just about to call them to make sure the load delivered.

"DID it deliver?'

"Well, yes, it's here."

"Hmmm...that didn't sound good.  Is there a problem?"

"Uh, yeah.  There was a little accident.  The driver drove into a light pole and we don't have power."  (Retail location remember, so this is a bit more than a minor inconvenience.  They're probably unable to serve THEIR customers during this time.)

Turns out, the driver had arrived during the night (as the dispatch had anticipated) and parked his rig in their lot.  Fine and dandy.  However, where he was parked wasn't the best place for him to be for unloading, so they knocked on his cab, woke him up, and asked him to move it to a better location.  They gave him instructions to go around the block, approach it again from a different angle, and showed him where to park.  However, he figured he knew better than they did, and attempted to execute a U-turn.  In a SEMI.  WITH a trailer.  And took out the electrical box on the corner.  I don't know whether it affected other properties' power or just the one, but it caused a major inconvenience for them and the THREE fire trucks and FOUR police cars that apparently responded (must've been a boring day in that neighborhood prior to this incident).

I'm sure the trucking company will eventually take care of the customer, monetarily, but it doesn't help them in the short term when they've got a business to run and no power.  I guess the driver did feel quite chastised, and I hope he learns a lesson from this.

* * * * *

To top it off, a full two weeks after the delivery described above (if you can call it that, though I guess the product arrived, so it WAS a delivery, however inconvenient), we received notification from the freight company that the driver was on site for seven hours, so we would be charged for five hours of detention (I think I've mentioned it before, but they allot two hours for loading or unloading on either end, and if you go over, they charge you in increments of 10 or 15 minutes, and it's NOT cheap).  Normally, they notify us of potential detention charges while the driver is on site, not two weeks later, so I have a couple guesses about why it took two weeks:  giving them the benefit of the doubt, they knew it was their fault at the time, and overrode the computer who said we should be charged, but must not have noted why they weren't charging us.  Now, two weeks later, some do-gooder is going through logs looking for anomalies and sees that the driver was there seven hours but we weren't charged detention, so they created the charges, not knowing that there's a reason we weren't charged.  If I want to take a more negative view, though, maybe they let it sit for two weeks hoping WE'D forget the story and just go ahead and pay it even though the driver being there for seven hours has nothing to do with unloading the product.  In fact, part of the reason he was there so long is that the customer was genuinely concerned about him being on the road and called the company dispatch to report not just the incident, but the potential safety issue.