Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part XXVI

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.

A truck driver was apparently on one of his last few days with the company, having given notice previously.  He was on a run from our location to southern California, and got within a couple of hours of the destination and apparently decided he was done.  Done driving, done working for that company.  He ditched the truck and trailer and left.  Apparently he told dispatch he was doing so, but they didn't think through the ramifications of that far enough to realize that if the truck and trailer were sitting somewhere other than at the destination, that maybe, just MAYBE, the consignee wasn't getting their delivery.  The day after it was supposed to deliver, the customer finally contacted us to ask about the load, and we contacted the trucking company.  Oh, huh.  Wouldja look at that...the driver abandoned his load, and apparently it's still sitting right where he left it.  Huh.  Who woulda thunk it--it can't just haul itself wherever it needs to go.  Huh.  So they finally sent someone to go pick it up and finalize the delivery, which of course took ANOTHER day, making the load two days late.

Not the truck in question.  Just the photo I'll be using on these posts from now on.  :-)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy Anniversary to Me! (And Arya!)

So, a year ago today, Arya stepped off the trailer and into my life.  At the time, it was a try-before-buying deal, though I was fairly sure I would buy, but it wasn't necessarily permanent.  However, I paid for her and sealed the deal a couple weeks later, so now she's stuck with me.  :-)

So, things that have happened over the past year:

  • We entered and rider-option pulled from our first and only "endurance" ride (a Limited Distance ride)
  • We entered and successfully "completed" two trail rides held at endurance rides
  • We entered and basically flunked a trail challenge course, but had fun doing it
  • We attended a ride clinic as well as a few private and semi-private lessons; probably not as many as we SHOULD have, but time, money, and trailer rides have to all come together to make it happen
  • We've ridden on various trail rides with various companions, and even a couple new-to-her arenas
  • We entered a parade, though I led Arya rather than riding.  But she did great with all sorts of purple stuff in her mane and tail.  :-)
  • We've ridden on a trail ride with mules, with me on a different equine than her, and her with a different rider (my sister) AND we saw coyotes, all in one ride!
  • We've successfully done a couple of very easy, very short bareback rides
  • We've crossed wooden bridges out in the real world, which can be very scary!
  • I've come off her four times, and my sister came off her once.  I don't fully blame her for any of them, though I wish she would watch her feet so she doesn't trip, and that she wouldn't buck  (crowhop) when she gets worried or scared.  :-)
  • We've gone through a medical situation--her first (and hopefully last!) colic episode, with two vet visits but luckily minimal medical intervention required and a quick recovery.
Things she's learned or improved on in the past year:
  • She didn't use to "get" the procedure of walking through a gate being led by a human:  pause for human to open gate, back up a couple steps, walk through gate, turn back toward the gate, pause for human to close gate, continue onward.  Now she gets it and follows along with the procedure nicely, without prompting.
  • She was terrible about picking her feet up when I first got her, especially her hind feet.  She  now picks them all up, but kind of grudgingly, and she's not the best at actually holding their weight in the air herself--that part's up to me.
  • She has learned to back out of a trailer.  She wasn't very good at it the first couple times, but she's a pro now.  It's not REALLY necessary with Shar's big stock trailer (even if she's the first one off, she could back out of her slot, but then turn in the empty back half of the trailer), but it's a good skill to have, and might come in necessary in smaller trailers.
  • She was afraid of crossing water, but after a few short but tough sessions with Shar, she's finally decided it's not the end of the world.  She might still try to jump a small stream, but she willingly walks into rivers, and has even led the way.
  • She hasn't been great at being the lead horse for most of this past year, slowing down and even stopping to let someone else lead.  The past couple rides, she's actually led out quite willingly, and even eagerly.  We even met some cows on the trail, and she stopped dead in her tracks, then trusted me when I urged her forward.
  • She used to walk away for the first couple minutes when I'd go out to the pasture to catch her, sometimes to the FAR corner (though she never made me chase her for long, she'd just wander off then wait for me to catch up to her).  Now she comes to me.  I think the change happened with the colic--spending all night with her and being the one (well, along with Shar!) to hang out with her till she felt better, I guess she associates me with having helped her.  Aww...
  • She used to walk off when mounting.  Strangely, I never actually WORKED on this.  I told myself this was something we needed to work on, and she's magically been nearly perfect about it ever since.  Apparently just my attitude of "we are not going to walk off immediately after mounting" communicated that to her or something.
  • She's gotten better at groundwork.  She's always been fine about leading, but stopping when I stop and backing up when I back up, not so much.  She's improving, but we still have more to work on.  She's also gotten much better at lateral work from the ground, moving her hindquarters, front end, or whole body over with a voice cue and taps from a whip.  Need to work on it from the saddle, and from body language instead of actual tapping from the ground.
  • She did NOT get what I was asking for the first few times I asked her to trot in hand, a necessary skill for endurance rides.  But a couple training sessions, and she totally "got" it, and now does it with a simple voice command (and of course, trotting from the handler).

Goals and things to work on for the coming year:
  • Enter and complete an LD (limited distance--25-30 mile) ride successfully
  • Get better about picking her feet up, and HOLDING them up
  • At rides, she's shown that she does NOT like horses coming up behind her.  She's fine with horses she knows riding close behind her on our normal trail rides, so it's a combo of it being strangers and the ride environment, I'm sure.  Need to find a way to work on this, hopefully, or else just more exposure at rides.
  • Lateral work--she barely understands my cues from the saddle.  She's pretty good from the ground, but we can work on more subtle cues from the ground for sure.
  • We definitely need to work on footwork--Arya took a big stumble that caused me to fall off, but she rarely picks her feet up enough in "trippy" terrain (rocks or roots or whatever).  We need to work on trotting over poles this winter--starting with them spaced regularly and working our way up to randomly-placed obstacles she actually has to LOOK and THINK her way through.
There are probably things I'm forgetting from each of those categories, but it's a pretty good look back at the last year and look forward to the next year.  I also meant to include some photos from throughout the past year in this post, but time has gotten away from me, and I gotta go visit my girlie and love on her a bit, so I'll end it with just this one photo, from a year ago today:

Friday, October 9, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Part XXVI

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.

A potential new customer was talking options with our sales person.  Size of packages, types of product, etc.  We load the trucks one of two ways--either hand stacked (the bags of our product are stacked into the trailer however they fit most efficiently; it takes a lot of manpower on both ends, but is ideal for customers who either don't have a forklift or don't mind the labor and want to save money and have the most possible packages per truckload) or palletized (much faster to load and unload, plus easy to deal with on the customer's end, as they can just take one package at a time off the stacked pallets, but we do charge a little extra per package to account for the fact that we have to buy the pallets and outer wrapping, and then of course can't recoup that cost).

The sales person was explaining the difference and the pros and cons to the customer.  Most folks, it's an easy decision--if they have a forklift, they usually prefer palletized loads as it's much quicker to unload them off the truck, move them to where they plan to store them, then either use or re-sell them straight off the pallet.  But some folks just don't have a forklift or prefer handstacked for their own reasons, which is fine too.

This guy apparently wanted the best of both worlds.  He kept asking about weather-proofing.  Well, all our product comes in plastic bags, which are pretty weather proof all on their own, but they can get tiny tears, especially the more they're handled, or it's possible one of the sealed ends could start coming open if it doesn't seal perfectly, so they're not 100% waterproof, and we don't guarantee that they will be.  When we palletize them, they're stacked on a pallet, get a top sheet of pretty thick plastic thrown over the top of the stack, then are wrapped with stretch film all the way around, a couple layers.  So the pallets are REALLY weatherproof, and could probably store outdoors indefinitely, without issue (though we still don't officially guarantee it, as who knows what happens to the plastic once it's out of our hands, we're more likely to state that it's quite weatherproof without an explicit guarantee).

This customer clearly wanted the weatherproof aspects of a palletized load, but wanted the most packages per load, plus the lower price per package of a handstacked load.  He asked if we could send him a handstacked load and include some plastic for him to cover the packages with on his end.  Um, no.  Try a hardware store.  :-)

I mean, even if we did want to do that for him, our top sheets are just larger than a pallet, and our stretch film is meant to be used in an automated palletizer, and wouldn't really work the way he's thinking of.  He needs a large tarp (or one of those RV storage "tents") or something instead.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dusk Ride 10/6/15

Shar and I were planning to ride this evening.  Our first evening ride of the season.  Only a few more weeks of being able to start out while there's still some light out and progress into dark instead of tacking up in the dark!  Shar's working in Bend now, and even though I live in Bend, I work in Redmond, closer to her house than where she works.  So I beat her there, and got both Arya and Flash out and tied them to the trailer.  I picked out Arya's feet, and she was a little better about picking them up than the last couple times (after an emergency fill-in farrier bribed her with carrots to hold still, rather than smacking her for stomping her foot down).  I moved over to Flash, and marveled at how tiny his feet are, and how easy they are to deal with, both because they're smaller and lighter, and because he *gasp* actually holds his own feet up for you, so you aren't holding the weight of them.  Moved to the second foot, and Uh Oh!  There was a nail sticking out of his foot.  Ugh.  Snapped a photo for Shar:

I've since learned after the fact that I probably should have left the nail there until she got home, so she'd have the chance to decide whether to take X-rays with the nail in place, in order to see what structures it had hit in the hoof.  Big oops on my part, but I'm not sure whether she would have opted for that.  Ugh.  Plus keeping the nail in there right up until the moment of soaking it probably would have been better for avoiding infection, too.  But in the moment, the first thought I had (after snapping the photo) was to get the nail out.  So I did.  And took another picture, first of the hoof, then of the nail:

Probably a half inch of the nail was in his hoof.  Hopefully not enough to do major damage, but only time will tell at this point, since we lost the chance to x-ray it.

I finished picking his hooves, brushed both horses, and fly sprayed them both.  I was just starting to put Arya's reflective safety gear on for the night ride when Shar got home.  She came out and hadn't seen my messages or photos yet, but I filled her in and she took a look.  Her first inclination was to ride him anyway to get the blood pumping OUT to prevent infection getting IN, but she called and left a voicemail for her/our vet to check on Flash's tetanus status and get her opinion on what she should do.  Her second inclination, after seeing him possibly maybe limping the tiniest bit when she trotted him, was to ride Dalai instead.

The vet called back, and the shots we gave in the spring included tetanus, so that was one worry eliminated, at least, but the vet had some scary news--if the nail had penetrated the area where the coffin bone is, it could be BAD.  No way to know now, since I'd pulled the nail.  Ugh.  But Shar definitely needed to soak the foot for a while with salts, and then bandage it up with some antibiotic stuff to try to keep infection at bay for the next few days.

So I was on my own for a ride.  I mounted up and worked on the standing still concept.  She actually did really great--made one move like she wanted to walk, but I don't think her hooves actually moved.  We stood for a full minute or so.

I knew we wouldn't get too far before dark, and didn't want to ride solo in the dark-dark, but I was hoping to at least make it around the block.  But Arya had other ideas.  She was doing her usual drunken sailor walk away from home, pretending with each tiny correction of the reins that the cue meant she should turn 180 degrees and head back home, indeedy it did.  Yeah right.  So she bounced between the reins and my legs, meandering down the road, getting slower and slower the further we got from home.  I did a couple circles, very lopsided.  Ugh.  Then she started balking so much she was actually BACKING toward home.  Oh no you di-in't.  So we circled a ton.  And we trotted away from home.  And we walked CALMLY toward home, or circled if she started rushing toward home.  Yeah.  A LOT of circles.  And eventually they got more even, and walking toward home got less rushed.  She was never very enthusiastic about heading away from home, but two out of three ain't too bad.  She did get a little obnoxious with head tossing and such, making me a tiny bit concerned about bucking or whatever, but she of course never did, and I'm sure was never actually THAT close to doing so.  Just my paranoid tendencies.  But I didn't give up or get off or let her get away with it, so that's a win at least, right?

We moseyed our way back home, making LOTS of circles, and also heading away from home some of the time, too.  Eventually the circles got more even and circular, and she wasn't as deseperate to get home when we were pointed that way, so I started letting her walk out a while toward home before asking for another circle (instead of the ride being a total series of circles).  We got back to the driveway, and of course she pulled in that direction, but we moseyed past it with a purpose, and I asked her to trot away from home in THAT direction.  Then circles, then walk past the driveway again, then trot away from home again.  Etc. and so on.  We went back and forth past the driveway at least 10 times, maybe more, until she finally was merely gravitating in that direction instead of actively pulling, and it was nearly dark.  I rode her into the arena and circled it once in each direction, then we went around the back side of the barn, around the circular drive, past the trailer full of railroad ties, and back toward Shar.  We stopped, but I didn't get off.  We stood still, we backed up, and we tried doing a little sidepassing.

Then I tied her to the trailer, where she stood very nicely while I helped Shar doctor Flash's foot.  He'd been standing with his food in a bucket of saltwater for a while, and now it was time to bandage it up.  Shar ended up deciding on using one baby diaper (perfect because of the padding and absorption, plus the fact that you can use the built-in fasteners to secure it around the hoof while you work on getting the duct tape or vet wrap ready, instead of having to hold it to the hoof yourself), soaking it with betadine, then using a multi-layer duct tape "hoof boot" to protect the bottom, and wrapping the top part with vet wrap.  It probably wasn't pretty, but it got the job done.  It took me a while to prep the "hoof boot" (multiple strips of duct tape layered on each other in one direction, then multiple strips in the other direction, lather rinse repeat, so you end up with LOTS of layers on the bottom of the hoof, plus the overhang on the four sides to wrap up the sides of the hoof), then Shar got it secured on his hoof, then we both worked to get him set up in a stall for the night with some hay and water.  More to keep the wear on the "hoof boot" minimal than to keep him immobile--a little walking around is probably good for him and his hoof and his legs, but not so good if the bandage comes off or wears through and he gets infected in the puncture wound.

So.  That was a bit of an adventure, but hopefully Flash will be be fine, though he probably gets a few weeks of vacation.  And hopefully Arya learned something over the course of the evening, too, both the riding and the standing around after, and arriving home not being an immediate reward of rolling and eating.  :-)  Shar and Dalai are going out of town this coming weekend, but it sounds like Julie and I will be riding together.  Yay!  I need mine and Arya's solo adventures to be short and sweet still, I think, so it's good to have a buddy to ride with in order to actually have FUN.  :-)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part XXV

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.

A driver showed up with an empty trailer (yay!) to pick up a load.  We instructed him to drop the empty trailer in the rows of empty trailers out front, any spot was fine as long as it didn't block the flow of traffic, then he should hook onto the loaded trailer and head to the scale.  Well.  He was out there a very long time.  A very, very long time.  We could see him pulling forward, then back, then forward, then back, over and over and over.  Executing a 387-point turn to park the thing, apparently.  At one point, one of our employees (who drives the trailers all around our lot to put them on the loading docks then park them for later pickup, etc.) offered to back it in for him, but the driver wanted to do it.  Yikes.  Isn't backing a trailer into tricky spots (not that this spot was particularly tricky, and the driver had his pick of a few empty spots) part of getting a CDL?  And shouldn't it be part of getting hired to a trucking company as well?  After all, you'll be driving around THEIR equipment, and they don't want you damaging it OR taking up precious time trying to park.

The guy was seriously on the lot for two full hours, for what normally takes a driver 20 minutes or do (drop empty, hook onto loaded, drive over scale, come in for paperwork).  I hope they don't try to charge us detention!