Friday, April 23, 2010

Volcanic Beauty

A remarkable set of photos from the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Game On!

Sunday was the first Western Gaming Playday at Meridian Riding Club for this year. Smokey and I were, of course, in attendance.

While we held our own last year, with 15 people in the Super Senior Division at this event, and with placings only up to Fifth, I thought for certain we were going to get skunked. While this event is primarily about having fun, many of these folks ride like they mean it.

Well, I hate to brag, but...we brought home ribbons in five of the six events. Looking over my times from last year, I shaved as much as 3 seconds off some of my times. A friend commented to me "you've really stepped it up a notch." Having not practiced one iota all winter, I can't really claim to have worked on improving. So what changed? I had to think about that.

My conclusion is that the improvement is two-fold.

First, and foremost, I have implicit trust in Smokey. I know that if I give him the right signals, he will respond as I want. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body, and while he spooks rather easily, and in a rather large manner, he won't buck, rear, bolt or do anything dangerous. But make no mistake, Smokey Joe is fast, and needs very little encouragement from his rider to take off like a rocket. I know that horses don't think or feel the way humans do, but I dare say he enjoys a good run.

Second, I have gained the confidence in my riding skills to safely sit perched atop a running horse. I think I have reached the point of being a good rider. Not a great one, nor do I think I will ever achieve that level, but good, yes.

It was a good day, and the weather was beautiful. I have the ribbons and sunburn to prove it.

Government at Work Part II

4H is not dead. Hanging on by a thread, perhaps, but not gone.

There was enough of an outcry that the County Council trimmed the cut down to $100,000, from the original proposal of $200,000. Personally, I think they could have found somewhere else to save the $100K. Starting with their own bloated salaries.

This still represents a significant slash to the budget for the Extension Office. But it will keep the afloat for the time being, and allow them to search out other sources of funding.

DN3 had the opportunity to attend the subject Council meeting. Her assessment: the Council members were "rude". Of the seven, only one of them paid attention to each and every public comment. This would be Joyce MacDonald, one of the few members who was on our side, and one of only two to reply to my email. DN3 said that the other members spent of the time talking, or looking a their I phones. Typical government, IMHO. We little people don't know what's best for us, that's why we have them.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Horse in Need

A shameless plea for a shameless plea.

I've mentioned Katie's Blog about Argus before. She has found herself fostering a 14 year old Thoroughbred with a fractured splint bone. Repairing the fracture requires $2000 for and a relatively simple surgery. If the money for the surgery can be raised, Katie will provide the board and care at her farm for his rehabilitation.

Small Town Traffic Jam

Sent by a friend. Click to get the full effect. There are two other vehicles on the road.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I Didn't Care for the New Layout That I Tried

Sometimes change for the sake of change is not a good thing...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Government At Work

As with most government agencies, the Pierce County Council is struggling with budget shortfalls. This one is to the tune of $5.5 million. They will be voting on the new budget tomorrow. Instead of searching for places to cut waste and excess, Councilman Roger Bush, has proposed cutting, among other things, $200,000 from the budget of Washington State University(WSU) Pierce County Extension (PCE) Office.

WSU is the university that governs the 4H program in Washington state. In order for any of the 39 counties to have a 4H program, they must have an extension office. The funds currently available to the PCE office amount to $275,000. It doesn't take a financial whiz to realize that lopping $200,000 from that budget will result in the closure of the PCE office. This closure would be effective immediately, and with it the disbandment of the Pierce County 4H program.

To target the budget and support of programs which provide meaningful activities for our youth is both irresponsible and short sighted.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of adults who volunteer numerous hours toward the conduct of these programs. Many of the youth who are approaching voting age have been members of 4H for much of their childhood. As a program dedicated towards teaching life skills, 4H, for some youth, represents the difference between energy that is channeled towards the good, as opposed to mischief. Does this Council want to be remembered as the group who brought about the demise of the program?

Of course all of this was presented with typical government "transparency". The notifications of this proposal were sent out late last Friday night. With a vote set for tomorrow. When doing something unpopular no point in letting the people have a say in the matter.

I'm feeling a bit disenchanted these days.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Smokey!

By some unwritten convention, all horses age on Jan. 1st of each year. As I understand it this is so the high falutin' folks in the many facets of the show world can move their prized show ponies into the next age bracket.


For backyard hacks like me, that sounds like a bunch of hooey.

21 years ago today, an American Quarter Horse mare named Alamoannie birthed a foal sired by the Thoroughbred named Master Jorge. This little bundle of joy would come to be known as Master Alamo Joe, barn name Smokey. He also goes by the aliases of Mojo, Meathead, Mr. Man, What The Hell Are You Doing?, and Whoa Dammit.

Seeing as a fella only turns 21 once in a lifetime, Smokey and I held a proper celebration.

He is Risen!

Happy Easter, everyone!