Saturday, September 30, 2006

A clean garage is good for the soul

I asked my dad to take a load of stuff to the dump this morning, I had a ton of recyclable stuff in big plastic bags - well, some of it has been there for a long time. With my schedule I just don't get to the drop-off center often enough. The garage has become chaotic as a result - stuff everywhere. Well, we loaded up the stuff I had bagged and my dad wasn't satisfied with the garage so we spent an hour (Mom, Dad and I) cleaning the garage. Dad went into his super organization mode: "dog stuff over here - camping stuff over here" OK, but Dad doesn't really understand that the camping stuff really is dog stuff, I tried to mention that but it went on deaf ears - plus never critize free labor.

Went out and ran agility with Murphy - he was really good again today - but surprisingly is falling out of the weaves in the middle...this is upsetting. But, I think I have the answer...In both courses today the weaves a straight on entry - and we hit them with speed (yay). Murph made his entries but I think he had too much speed to maintain them - falling out at the 6th or 7th pole, popping right back in and accellerating again. So, the fix I think is to drill the poles with speed and to check him a bit when he's coming full tilt at a straight on entry.

Since I'll spend most of October on the road (weekends at least) I bought Quincy a littermaid...I wondered if he'd use it - but it turns out it's his latest game - so I needn't have worried too much. I also moved him out of the guest room - I suppose he can still eat in there and he'll have the whole upstairs while I'm gone during the day, but with guest season coming up pretty soon I suspect that Linda wouldn't enjoy a kitty roommate.

Tomorrow is an obedience day if it doesn't rain (though it's expected to be a wash-out) I might lay down a track or two...

Took this photo of the boys the other day, one of my favorites:

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Dreams from the past.

I don't remember many of my dreams, maybe it's because I wake up so many times during the night, I feel like I don't hit my REM sleep until the early morning. My dream this morning was so real, so fresh so vivid. I found myself in Scotland - a place I've never been and a place that I would never expect to find a familiar soul. I found myself in a marketplace that was less Scottish and more Arabian, I can't describe the atmosphere other than it was peaceful, the crowd seemed to be intent on their own missons as though they didn't expect foreigners or tourists. I was shopping for a gift for my grandmother of all things I was looking for a rug template, Nana enjoys knotting and latching large wool rugs and has been looking for a particularly large kit. As I was leafing through burlap canvases I looked up and saw his eyes. Oh my god - those eyes. His eyes always got me, blue and deep I always felt like I could see into his soul and likewise he could see into mine. Then there was another woman in my dream - exotic, beautiful, she was brilliant - you could tell. Curly dark locks and those Italian green eyes that little girls wish for their entire lives - this was the kind of girl he'd go for. But his eyes met mine and stayed there - There was the embrace of old friends long separated by time and life. It was warm, it was comfortable, it was safe and I never wanted to let go. As the alarm pulled me from his arms I could still feel the closeness - the strength in his arms around me.

So what does that mean? I don't honestly know. I was tempted to pick up the phone and call him tonight - just to see how he's doing. He's a million miles away not just geographically. He's probably married with children of his own by now. We had fallen apart long before we stopped talking to each other or got involved with other people. Lives diverged, we both took the high road in opposite directions. So what does it mean that I had this amazing dream where everything was great - and I thought life was good before. I can't help but feel a little empty right now. Is this a sign to go forward or to go back? Time is a wicked captor sometimes.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Something about having undone jobs "out there" that makes them feel larger than they really are. Carrying the weight of undone tasks is more exhausting than actually doing them. But alas, the tasks on my list are still out there.

I got up with the best intentions, went out and had a good breakfast - there's truly something about eggs that is uniquely weekend-esque. Murphy and I went out to play agility this morning and laid down some really awesome runs. Murph was fast and on the ball today. I'm so pleased with his work the last couple of days. Tomorrow we switch gears and we'll do an obedience run-through, I'll be extra pleased if the obedience work goes as well as the agility has the last couple of days.

We'll see! Maybe I'll even get the house cleaned before practice tomorrow :-)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Things that go bump in the dark...

There's something living in my garage. I have no idea what it is, it only makes noise at night. Yeah, it freaks me out - a lot. I go in the garage to get Murphy's stew out of the freezer and something is moving around in there hiding behind recyclables and under the junk car that hasn't left the garage in years...On a side note if the house goes on the market this fall that car will have to leave :-)

The critter was there last night too. Argh - I hate not knowing what's in there. A squirrel I can live with, a skunk not so much. The good news is that it's probably not a skunk - first there'd be some residual odor of skunk, secondly a Skunk would panic (I think) and let off their stink bomb when I went banging around in there last night trying to flush whatever it was out of there. The flushing was unsuccessful again tonight - obviously. Guess this makes garage cleanout a priority. I think I'll ask my dad to come over next weekend and take a load to the landfill - just throw stuff away en mass, fill up the truck and cleanse the garage. Cleanse the garage and cleanse your spirit...OK maybe not - but maybe a wee bit of my conscience.

Went out to train tonight, had intended to do obedience stuff but Marilyn and Val weren't able to come out tonight and after the stickies on Wednesday night I figured that we should do some distance work. The agility stuff was setup so we played agility. For all that was sticky on Wednesday I didn't expect our session this evening to go well at all, but Murph was on. He's back to saving my butt and handling like a sports car. OK he's not a Lamborghini but he's a solid Peugeot. I got some distance work on a serpentine that I wish folks had seen. Oh well. I wonder if some of the sticky was our first indoor practice in many moons - thats certainly something to think about - we do a lot of obedience indoors and very little indoor agility in the summer.

It's supposed to rain all weekend, heavy rains tomorrow - so we'll be indoors for agility tomorrow. I'll have to watch for the stick tomorrow, perhaps after tonight he'll only be tacky - silly obedience dog.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Tilting at Windmills

I had one of those days at work where it seemed like the harder I tried and the more I was able to cross off my list the further I sunk behind. Disheartening to say the least. Fighting battles against invisable foes only to have those same foes turn around and bite me in the kiester.

Murphy and I were supposed to meet Marilyn (and Sampson and new baby Colby) for practice tonight in Hinesburg - I just wasn't able to break away from work stuff in time to meet them and Marilyn's schedule is so booked these days - which is disappointing on so many levels. I want to meet the baby in the worst way (I hear he's a wicked cutie) and I spend far too much time training by myself already - I need distractions and eyeballs on what I'm working on - especially now that we're at the stage of proofing our open work.

It ended up working out OK anyway. There were a few neighbors who were outside and one had their dog - one of Murphy's doggie friends. So working around a misbehaving bouncing "I want to play" lab was a nice distraction. I had an interesting observation though - the more Jack wanted to play, and the more out of control Jack was about wanting to play, the better attention I got from Murphy - and today we worked without food. A paradox right?

Not so much - training and attention usually leads to good things. Play with another dog is rewarding, but it ain't meatballs - or the promise of potential meatballs.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sticky Dog!

It's been a few weeks since Murphy and I played any agility, we went out and did some pretty simple sequences today and while Murph was gung-ho about the game it was clear we were pretty rusty. We've been working a lot of obedience lately: heeling, with me, fronts, finishes - all stuff that may be working away from me - but ultimately is close work. I forget sometimes how hard it can be for a dog to work close and far at the same time. I found myself having to do more babysitting than I would have a month ago when Murphy really seemed in top form (agility-wise).

Tomorrow is an obedience day so we'll see what happens when I actually want him to be sticky...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

One more thing...

From the seminar last weekend  and this sounds awfully Milan-ish. There was insistence that there is no such thing as a shy dog. Shy dogs are really anti-social creatures who can be taught to accept the company of other dogs and people. Great, let's force dogs out of their comfort zones. Let's tell people with shy dogs that their dogs are anti-social and encourage them to "socialize" them. People unknowingly then over expose their dogs to situations and other dogs that are scary, turning fear into reactivity. It sounds great on the surface, but like any popular theories it'll be misused and treated as gospel for masses. I love it.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Long day at the seminar...

Murph and I are one day into a two day seminar with Celeste Meade. Number one border collie team in the country for obedience. I find it fascinating how perception differs from reality when it comes to folks who label themselves "purely positive" and their perspective on what the top obedience trainers do to their dogs in training. A couple of tidbits that surprised me: 8 of the top 10 obedience dogs in the Northeast are trained with e-collars. Yep, that's right - using e-collars to train and perfect go-outs, etc. I find that shocking (and I didn't intend to use the pun) but I guess not surprising. According to Celeste e-collars are making a comeback - the latest re-fad in training, people have seen them work SO well for imaginary fencing stuff that they've reinvented them for performance events. Celeste is NOT a fan of e-collars and won't allow them in her building - not even for herding. She feels they have a place in field work however, as it's not practical to go into the water to correct a dog.

One auditor mentioned that her dogs LOVE the ecollar, when they come out of the cabinet her dogs jockey for position on who gets to put it on and go work. Celeste pointed out that the dogs are not jockeying for the collar so much as what the collar means for them...oh boy, we're going to go swim, we're going to go get some ducks - they are in drive and what happens in drive - true drive - is different than what happens outside of drive. One of Celeste's border collies is a peel 'em off the ceiling type of high-drive dogs - that is a different critter than the casual mellow fellow that her OTCH dog is - granted, I've only just met him and he's 11 - but he's a pretty casual dude.. Learning the key to your dog's drive is so important.

Back to perception vs. reality. Celeste is by and far a positive trainer. She doesn't use the word correction, she uses the word reinforcement instead. Hence my deduction is that there is positive and negative reinforcement. This seminar is focused on motivation - motivating the dogs to want to play the game. I've read Terri Arnold's books (and that's where Celeste started her training) and I've spent a great deal of time trying to prevent "poop face" in my dog. That's great, but I've done little to make every effort to prevent my own poop face.

Heelwork should be an aerobic exercise. Celeste (who is in good shape) came off a 3-4 minute heeling demo markedly breathing hard. I thought I hustled before - I've got to step things up even more so. I also need to put more thought into what each foot is doing...the idea is to help your dog - some of the things like stopping with your left foot puts you into your dog's space. Murph doesn't have a space issue, but I do think I got faster sits when I remembered to brake on my right foot (then another left step and bring right up to it).

Also interesting - in the first few minutes of the seminar Celeste asked us who played in what - meaning who did agility and who did tracking, etc. Celeste made an interesting point about agility runs. If you are aiming for a 200 run in obedience you're riding a fine line between NQ and that 200. To get a 200 your dog is always on that edge of control and motivation. I had never thought of it that way. Another slice of that apple is that when we have a fantastic agility run - you know the ones that make your weekend - but a bar was dropped or a contact blown - BUT the rest of that run was unbelieveable. You leave the ring after those kinds of runs and you don't care that you didn't qualify. Why should an obedience run be any different? Seriously - why is it any different if you have a great open obedience run and a tap on the broad jump? It's all about perception.

Why should we treat obedience runs differently than an agility run? In agility we've got an advantage - we're running. The mere movement and running the course makes the game motivating for the dogs. What can I do as an amateur non-poop face to make the obedience ring as much fun as the agility ring? I've got some ideas. One of the things I learned at Essex was that I lost my dog inbetween exercises and getting him back was tough for both of us. Celeste stresses "pick-ups" like in agility where you drop your dog off one side and pick up on the other: Flips, switches - whatever you call them. It's an interesting concept. I've got a few weeks to figure out what is going to work for us.

Another thing Celeste stresses is pet obedience - pet manners, pet "stuff". She won't allow people to move into her competition class until they've passed three levels of "pet class". When people approach her for private lessons she often tells them to go back to the pet classes and save some money - get the basics down - get the fundementals down. She stresses this over and over again, saying that she never ever gets upset with a student or dog having competition issues, she has HUGE problems with people who don't work through the pet issues before trying to do X,Y and Z. Pet stuff: Walk on a loose leash, wait, stay, social manners with other people and other dogs, sit, down, attention - really the basic stuff.

Celeste also has an interesting perspective on dog-to-dog interaction - let dogs be dogs. In her classes the dogs are off-lead running around with each other - one simple rule - no greeting other dogs in front of the withers. Smell all the pee-pees you want but nothing ahead of the withers. Her solution to dogs and puppies doing this is to take the dog's collar and lift (saying nothing) - a puppy time-out if you will. There was no emotion in this at all - no verbal cues and it was really effective with the couple of dog-aggressive in the crowd. One terrier in particular went from visablly looking for trouble to being totally relaxed and in the flow after perhaps three of these reinforcements. It's all a matter of leadership skills - pet stuff I think she would say.

Oh, and she won me over right away with the Cesaer Milan is full of crap bit. He's got two tricks in his bag - choke and pull. He might have some logical ideas of canine behavior but his toolbox is lacking and old-school - and if you really look at what he says and what he does they are almost two different things. But, like any other celebrity he's drawn into his own hype. I'm still not sure if I had to listen to him in person that I wouldn't smack him though...

One of my biggest reliefs is that constant eye-contact attention is not part of the program. Attention when you're working, yes. But the style is overall let your dog be a dog - not a four-legged robot.

So that was day one a lot of information to process. Murph is sound asleep and ready for bed and it's only 8:30 - truth be told I picked up the phone to call my folks and thought "it's too late to call them" - it was 7:30, so yes. I'm ready for bed too! So far I'm pleasantly surprised with the seminar so far. I'm impressed with a "dog" person who communicates as well with people as she does with dogs. I'm surprised that her methods are more modern than I had expected from someone in the game so long - but I think the major message here is that whatever is in fashion for training styles bits and pieces still have merit. The key is figuring out what works for a given dog.

Whew, off to bed for us. Another early morning for us tomorrow as well. I'll summarize the second half tomorrow.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

I'm not one to dwell on awful things. I'm generally living in the moment with an eye to the future. However, todays bombardment of 9/11 images has me remembering back five years ago...I think Alan Jackson's song sums up the collective feelings of that day.

It was a beautiful, warm, calm morning. I had driven down to Yankee Nuclear power plant in Brattleboro the previous day for a consulting gig - I stopped to see Nana and Baa on the way home - and was so shocked that the security at the plant was so lax - I walked right into the building without ID.

Crystal blue skies, I had noticed them when I took Kasei for a walk at 8:30. We came home and I was watching the today show - at that point today ended at 9. They broke off one of those stupid beauty segments to say that that a plane had hit one of the towers. I watched the events unfold as if I were in a trance. My brother was home from school that term and I called the house. My dad had flown into Newark that morning, the old continental route from Burlington to Newark used to fly directly over the twin towers. It was a route I'd flown many times going to New Jersey for work years before. Lee had tried to call my dad's cell phone only to find it ringing on the dining room table a few feet away. Before the second plane hit and before we knew that it was a large plane (not a 20 seater commuter jet) that had hit the tower Lee was convinced it was Dad's flight. That thought never occured to me until he mentioned it. It was of some comfort then when they announced the flight numbers and points of origin (Boston).

It was some time later that I became aware of the national guard activity at the airport - it's 2 miles as the crow flies from my house - the airport was silent and blaring at the same time - an eerie feeling. I went outside to get away from some of the pixels of horror. For the first time in a long time I felt alone - lonely even, somewhat empty. I had Kasei of course and he was as loving as he could be in his own way. I called a couple of friends on the phone, tried to get in touch with some friends I had in the city and failed. I was trying to remember where they lived in proximity to the trade center. I had interviewed at a firm on Church Street and had spent a Friday afternoon in the city on their dime - looking UP at the twin towers while listening to a concert in the plaza on a late August afternoon. I actually accepted my first job after college from a pay phone in the bowels of the trade center mall on that very day after deciding that NYC was not the place for me at that moment in time. If things had been different, if it weren't for Kasei I might have taken that job. I just couldn't imagine making him into a city dog.

Months after 9/11 the sounds of F-16 fighter jets became a predictable part of living here - taking off and heading south on patrol every 6 hours: 5am, 11am, 5pm, 11pm - like clockwork for 6 months after the event.

That day and week I was completely sucked into the news coverage - the horror, the thirst for revenge and the feelings of helplessness. Five years later the topic is still prime for discussion - where were you, what did you do, how did you feel, did you know anyone - It was the birth of 24 hour news, it planted the seed that we weren't so isolated - we weren't totally safe and invincible and we could never be naive to world terrorism ever again. We learned the lesson we should have learned in 1993 when those same buildings were attacked.

On the 5th anniversary of those events it's also the eve of primary elections here - it's an interesting juxtiposition - heartfelt testimonies of people who've lost their husbands and wives cut to a bitter senate race commercial. It's almost comical in a way. I notice that none of that ads tonight mention the war in Iraq, Oil, terrorism. All the politicians are sticking to health care and amber alerts...

And the world isn't the same - but time is change, time is heelng and we're stronger because of it.

Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)
Alan Jackson

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Out in the yard with your wife and children
Working on some stage in LA
Did you stand there in shock at the site of
That black smoke rising against that blue sky
Did you shout out in anger
In fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry

Did you weep for the children
Who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below

Did you burst out in pride
For the red white and blue
The heroes who died just doing what they do
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself to what really matters

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Teaching a class full of innocent children
Driving down some cold interstate
Did you feel guilty cause you're a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone
Did you call up your mother and tell her you love her
Did you dust off that bible at home
Did you open your eyes and hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Speak with some stranger on the street
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Go out and buy you a gun
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watching
And turn on "I Love Lucy" reruns
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some stranger
Stand in line and give your own blood
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

The greatest is love
The greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Trying to be good...

I'm trying to be a better planner and a little more economical. The first step is to avoid buying lunch every day - partly inspired by the government approving the use of viruses to eliminate the listeria that can be found on cold cuts. They call the viruses "Bacteriophages" and honestly it creeps me out. The article on CNN is here:

I'm perfectly OK with the bacteria in yogurt and I don't particularly care about genetically modified fruits and vegetables. For whatever reason though putting a virus on meat that may or may not have a bacteria on it crosses a line in my comfort zone. Then there was the fact that buying a sandwich every day and showing most weekends was really draining the ol' pocketbook - it just doesn't make sense.

So today I converted last week's pot roast to barley and beef soup, made a batch of corn chowder, made a batch of chili and put together a chicken casserole. Ambitious maybe - let's hope I actually remember to bring the lunches to work!

On the training front I went out and worked Murphy for a while, he was very good - I've got to make it more fun for him, now that he's "got" everything 100% it's my job to keep it fresh and fun. We've got a seminar with Celeste Meade next weekend, she's focusing on the "want to do it" vs the "have to do it" - man, that's exactly what we need right now! I've got high expectations for this seminar - it's just that we need so much to get an experienced eye on what we're doing.

I did pull out the scent articles again tonight and we were back where we were three months ago before I let them slip - Murph got the right article three out of three times with a full 12 articles in the pile. Yeah, I know I should have dialed back the expectations since we haven't been working them regularly and that we had trouble last time we did the articles. Shame on me, yay for Murphy.

I'm up late for server work tonight, I remembered only as I was climbing the stairs for bed (Murphy and Quincy are very confused). Another late night - it's been too many late nights lately.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Fall is in the air.

It seems like April was yesterday and July just a heartbeat ago. Yesterday while I was stuck in the office all day the temperatures soared into the mid-80's. Today the 80's were gone and temperatures dropped all morning, then a hard rain and now that the sun is down it's pretty darn nippy out there! They are warning of frost tonight - something about that first frost warning that sends a chill of regret down my spine. It's no longer summertime - my most favorite season. It's getting dark earlier each day, the bird no longer wake me chirping at 4:30 in the morning - only one of these things I'm upset about of course.

It's getting to be casserole and homemade bread weekends, you know those crisp and damp Saturday afternoons where the smell of baking bread is the ultimate comfort. Time to get back into the habit of cleaning the house Saturday mornings and freeing up Saturday afternoons.

For the first time in many weeks I found myself with a Saturday morning and absolutely nothing to do. No shows, no run-throughs, no on-call work to be done. So Murphy and I headed over to the annual "Iron Dog" event put on by the state police. It's an event meant to test the police canines but they've opened it to the public in the last couple of years. It's a 1.5 mile course with obstacles...things like climbing through a car - through the front seat and out the back door. Another test required the dog to stay while the handler crawled into the back of a tractor trailer and grabbed "evidence" (a key ring). Handlers - civilians remember, had to shoot (paintballs) at a target and carry their dogs 25 yards. Fortuneatly for our pride we overslept and got there too late to register and run in the event (awwwww). But we did get to play some agility in a demo that NOMAD had setup. Murphy's agility runs were decent - not stellar - small tight area and we both seemed to know it wasn't for real anyway :-)

The photos from the Green Mountain Golden Ret club trial finally came in the mail yesterday. It's an indoor event and the photos aren't great I bought the package because I liked the weave pictures and there was one super expression picture.

Here's the expression picture, likely the one I will refer to when non-dog people ask me how I know Murphy likes playing the game with me:

I love this one too - Murph closes the eye closest to the pole he's weaving around - blink, blink, blink:

And one more for fun:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

They call it futility for a reason...

I worked Murph some tonight - just a bit of the open routine. Didn't work stays tonight - worked the heck out of stays yesterday when he did a 15 minute out of sight down while a little yorkie had a private lesson and then a 10 minute sit-stay while the puppy class filtered into the training center - all of the puppies walked by him - straining at their leashes to play. They all know Uncle Murphy from playtime at the end of puppy class.

So tonight we worked a lot of heeling - figure eights with imaginary posts - don't want to know what the neighbors think about that. He worked well, nothing spectacular, but he was a good boy.

We came in and played some house ball - then for whatever reason - for so much insanity...I decided to do some scent article work. I don't remember the last time we worked them - and it showed, MAN it showed. Kitty wasn't even impressed. I had previously worked through the leather article affinity (he prefers the leather articles - though he has no problem with the metal ones). We had gotten over that problem months ago when we last worked articles. So the lesson here is don't expect too much when you haven't practiced a trick in a while and just when you think you've got that obedience girdle all tucked in and buttoned, a bit of tummy is going to poke out where you least expect it.

Fortuneatly, we've got time before we've got to put our scent articles to the test for that fall (and old man winter) is coming we'll have more time to work it anyway (too cold and dark outside to play in the front yard). So many pieces.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Backup your Backups...

As someone who makes their living working with computers, data and connectivity, I have no excuse to lose data when a disk goes bad - no excuse. Except one must remember that even the best laid plans (lenny, I's gonna have me some rabbits) can go horribly wrong. I thought I'd run a routine defragment job on one of my systems Sunday night - the job ran for 10 seconds and barfed. This isn't normally a big deal, except when I went to access a file on that disk several moments later and got the dreaded "disk isn't formatted, would you like to format it now".

Crap. Crap. Crap. OK, the only thing I care about on that drive is my money file - my checking account info from the last eight years - I depend on that program. No sweat, I've got a backup, every Wednesday night I back up the file and overwrite the previous version - if you sensed a "gotcha" coming well, there it was. My backup on another disk of that file was corrupt - don't know how, don't know why. So 11pm Sunday night I kick off a chkdsk on that volume and head to bed - tossing and turning with dreams of data loss fresh in my head.

I wake up the next morning, labor day - fittingly - and chdsk is still running. Crap. I reboot the damn machine and it's dog slow coming up - too many apps and drivers trying to read a dead disk. So I bring my old pIII out of the closet an old SCSI RAID 5 machine purchased when a former employer went out of business (dot-bombed) and had a fire sale. This machine has no problem booting up without reading the bum disk. To save pixels, I ran chkdsk a total of 17 times for one stinking file - but I got it back, in fact it appears the whole disk is back for the moment - don't know how I got THAT lucky. Don't worry, I have no faith in that drive anymore, I'll place an order for a replacement.

So, the moral of the story - backup your backups. Test your backups and it pays to be persistant...

Monday, September 04, 2006

The crickets are back.

The crickets are back. Well, I suppose they never left. The county fair has been going on for the last 10 days. Each night a concert, tractor pulls, demo derby, loudspeaker cackles, loud music...we're about a mile away as the crow flies but it's been a loud event this year. Its a sign of fall - sure as the schools re-open and the pencils fly off the shelves at staples. Every time I walk out of the house I smell the fair: dough sometimes, but always the strong smell of onions sauteed in animal fat - ummmmmm. I went to the fair on opening day. I'm not much for rides, something about the characters that assemble them 24 hours before the event and then how they "advertise" for help taking everything down at the end of the event $8/hour to take the crap apart.

I generally go and visit the animals - makes me miss being involved with horses. This year there was a "Morgan Sporthorse" on display - I wasn't very good at hiding my contempt. OK, I'm a snob. A sporthorse is a talented equine - one that excels in multiple disciplines and I really don't consider gymkanas to be "sporting" events. Give me a warmblood sporthorse any day - a horse over 16 hands and then we'll talk.

Opening day is the only day you want to go through the poultry building - especially if the fair coincides with warm weather (stink). I love the sheep - I remember my three sheep I had as a child: Inky, Blacky and Snow White...silly names. My mom was pregnant with my brother when we had them - well she had them. I was 6 and got to pat them, she had to clean up sheep poop :-) She was about 8 1/2 months along when she fell face first into a pile of sheep poo, that was the end of the sheep. She gave them to my Uncle (they were living in his barn anyhow) who I presume sold them for meat - I don't remember seeing them again. Yeah, I know - disposable pets what an awful message to teach your kids - I don't even remember missing them, they were there (rescued from meat in the first place) and then they weren't and I had a baby brother and we moved to VT.

Ironic isn't it - folks at the fair wander between the food vendors, the barns and the rides. For the sarcastic it's easy to notice that all of the animals in the barns are represented just 200 yards away in the deep fryers... Bessy on a stick and clucky in Buffalo sauce.

So the crickets are back to being the loudest noisemakers in the neighborhood, the kids (most of them) are already back in school and in another 10 days (give or take a day or two) the first crop of "fair flies" will infest our lovely village. Annual rituals all spelling the end of summer and the beginnings of fall.