9.29.2010

I'd Hang it on My Wall.

Now that I have that small bit of horse out of my system (yeah right)  I will go on to talk about something else I find delightful.  My extraordinarily talented friend Lindsay confessed to being "that kid" in class who defended technology as a inevitable component of the Humanities. I was impressed at her insight, and it also made me think of some of the great things I've seen at the Uvinersity of Uhat. (yes, I change the letters on purpose. I ain't gettin' google searched out of a job thankyouverymuch).  One of my favorite departments that I NEVER would have known about and NEVER set foot in is the Center of Integrative Biomedical Computing, which creates real time, 3 dimensional, maleable images of, well ANYTHING.

Prepare to have your mind blown.

mere students, humans in their late teens or early 20s, can build images using code of everything from maps of comparative images of the Dark Universe to atmospheric changes over time to the complicated interior layers of a zebra fish and even through the many complicated arrangements within the body to show you a tumor in a living breathing human lung. 

Anyone who says that technology isn't beautiful or isn't relevant to the humanities isn't just a wet blanket, they are tragically uninformed.

1 day, 19 hours, 44 minutes and 51 seconds

until THIS.

I've watched this promo 7 times and it still makes me cry. 

9.23.2010

Something We Can All Agree On

I don't post political things here very often, but think of this more as applauding great rhetoric.  After Iran's leader Ahmadinejad claimed that "most americans agree with the view that 9/11 was an inside job aimed at saving Israel and the Zionist Movement"  the Americans walked out of the UN's auditorium.  Here's where it gets good.


Mark Kornblau, spokesman of the U.S. Mission to the world body, issued a statement within moments of Ahmadinejad's attack:


"Rather than representing the aspirations and goodwill of the Iranian people," he said, "Mr. Ahmadinejad has yet again chosen to spout vile conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic slurs that are as abhorrent and delusional as they are predictable."


I don't know Mark Kornblau, but I like him.

9.22.2010

Renequussance

My horse juice has been in 100% full gear mode for about a month now.  I'll give you a hint: It's probably better than beer.  What you need to know is this: The Universe is trying to tell me something.

After 4 years of living in Salt Lake in College, the only time that I ever went riding was when I went home to Sanpete County to ride the solid paint horse, Duke, that my parents had for awhile.  He was an awesome horse who got me back on my feet after the trauma of Starr and a couple safe but jarring tumbles off my mom's wonderful but rambunctious gelding, Ralphy.  So for that, Dukers, thank you.

Duke:

But never, in the 4 years I was here, did anyone ever offer me a horse to ride. 

Then I go to Virginia, I lease this amazing horse Murphy. All Murphy and I do for 2 or 3 times a week for 2 solid months is trot and gallop up down and around Manassas Battlefield until we're both pooped. No agenda, no fear, just good solid fun.  Something about that time changed me forever because now, nothing holds my attention like that memory. Except maybe the fantasy of doing more of that, forever.

looking between murphy's ears and out over Manassas:


And then right before I moved to California,  (as in, after my last day of work and mere hours before I was supposed to start driving across the country) I got a call from a world famous barn in Maryland that wanted me to come be a paid working student. Essentially, my dream job. They even once had Gem Twist, my favorite Breyer and real life horse, come and do a jumping demo there once. It was fate. One of their only requirements was that I not have a serious boyfriend or any plans to get married in the next year (they understandably want their students completely focused on the work and training).  I laughed.

I'm laughing now too. 

I didn't take the job, and I wasn't sure at the time why I wasn't.  I was positive that I had just blown my shot at the very thing I'd always wanted most. (I try really hard to convince myself that international politics interest me as much as what your horse's "road apples" tells you about their overall health and foraging techniques, but I'm so so so sorry to say that I don't.  It's so sad.)  And then I moved to California and then to Utah, and got married to awesome Dan, blah blah blah.  Cute. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HORSES????

So here's the weird thing. After all those years of no one offering me anything, in the past month 2 close friends, a stranger, and a coworker have all offered me a place to ride/train/manage horses for free, or would actually give ME money to do it. 

Is there something you'd like to say, Universe? I'm all ears. 

9.20.2010

I'm....THAT person?

I'm almost too mortified to admit this, except that it seems a little ridiculous, and possibly entertaining for someone to read. So I'm admitting to this.

The secretary brings in a big ass plate of cookies to the office.  How nice. It really is.  She offers one to me at her desk, and I want it, but I resist.  An hour later, SHE BRINGS THE COOKIES TO MY DESK, and again, in desperation to stick to my new healthy regimine of kicking crap and caffiene from my diet, I resist.  Not an hour later, she goes to lunch and says "could you watch the phones? and oh, if you change your mind, the cookies are still on my desk."

I'm only human, people. 

So I sneak into the kitchen to get a plastic knife and a napkin, come back, cut a cookie in half (which people in our office do ALL THE TIME) and take the napkin and the cookie to my desk, feeling satisfied and guilty.  Guilty for eating the calories, and NOTHING else. 

The next thing I know, the secretary is back and whining in a voice the whole office can hear about how "someone took HALF A COOKIE. HALF A COOKIE! Who would just TAKE half a cookie? that's disgusting! Anyone want half a cookie now?" and everyone goes "EWWWW!!!!  Some people are so filthy.  No manners at all. Don't worry about it, it's not your fault that some people were obviously BORN IN A BARN." 

I wish I'd been born in a barn, because that would be terribly fitting, but I was born in a hospital, and had no idea that cutting a cookie and leaving half was filthy.  In the meantime I just sink lower and lower in my seat, turn red, and have chosen to hide behind paperwork the rest of the day.

I feel like propriety is a skill of mine- did I really go that far off the deep end?  Did they know it was me and wanted to make me sore about it?  Or is it completely INSANE to attack someone for this when there is CLEARLY an office precedent for breaking down sweets into less guilty sizes?!!?!

9.14.2010

Neigh Winny Stomp Snuffle Snuffle Bite, Repeat.

I’m hyperventilating. Not in a “call her therapist kind of way” but in a “she’s having too much fun, get her a paper bag and let her walk it off” kind of way.



I have two enormous pieces of equine related news. I don’t care if you don’t know what I’m talking about, hear me out and read this, because this is amazing, you will learn something, and your life will be better for it.


No, these are not horse races. These are not rodeos. The World Equestrian Games is the world championships of a variety of disciplines, from

Vaulting- a gymnastic exercise on horseback


 to Reining- a riding technique practiced in the Old West to train cowhorses


 to Dressage- a series of composed movements which originated in military training techniques in the ottoman empire and Europe, and is one of the oldest sports in the world.


Every 4 years, the World Equestrian Games brings all these disciplines together, and declares their world champions. It is as big of a deal to horsemen as the Olympic Games (which yes, there are also equestrian sports in, if you didn’t know that.)

Like the Olympics, the games are moved every 4 years to a new location, and 8 years ago they announced that the 2010 games would be in Kentucky. I swore to myself that day 8 years ago that I was going, no matter where I was or what I was doing. Little did I know when I bought my event tickets and confirmed my bed a year ago that I’d be flying in from Utah and not DC!
I will be going to the Dressage Gold Medal Freestyle Finals (6-7 minute routines set to music), and most importantly, the final 2 phases of the 3 Day Eventing Challenge.
People. This is so worth your while to know something about.  Don't give up yet.

Three Day Eventing is the X Games of horses. On Day 1, you perform Dressage, compulsory military movements judged on their accuracy, flexibility, and obedience.


Day 2, you ride a timed 5 mile course with natural obstacles that must be jumped- drop offs, ditches, picnic tables, rivers, etc.

 And Day 3, after this grueling test, you must Jump rickety poles in an arena fast and clean. Every pole you knock down costs you points.



The person with the least penalties at the end of 3 days is more than a champion, they are the ultimate reflection of what a horse and rider can physically accomplish. Also, these people are CRAZY.
So, indulge me, as I present to you the American Team of the 5 Most Crazy People Ever:
Karen O’Connor:

My hero since I was 11 years old, and is still at the top of the game. She and her husband David were on the bronze and silver medal teams together back in the 90’s and now David is the President of the US Equestrian Federation. I admit it, I once had action figures of them. Also, I once went to visit her row of stalls at an event and introduce myself, but when I arrived she was down on her knees in a stall with a sick horse. This woman loves her horses. Another reason that I love her.


Boyd Martin: I’m a married woman, so I won’t say what I was going to say about Boyd. But really, look at him. What do I NEED to say??



Buck Davidson: His father was a legend, and he’s not far behind. Very excited to see him ride in person.



Becky Holder: An up and comer, but I really love her because she’s a little heavy for an Eventer, but she’s been training really hard to be better at that, and I look up to her a lot for that.



Kim Severson- Olympic Individual Silver Medalist, and I met her at an event back in Pennsylvania. She was incredibly nice and down to earth. Would love to see her take the whole thing this year.

Phillip Dutton: Used to be a big hitter for the Kiwis down under, and then moved his operations to the US, and finally just a couple years back changed his citizenship to American- now he’s a big hitter for us. As if I needed one more reason to love him, he’s Boyd’s mentor, and he rides as many as 7 horses a day. <3
ha! I'm sure phillip would appreciate me using the image of his horse acting up while performing a flying lead change tee-hee. trust me, he's good.


I am going to Kentucky in 16 days to watch these people duke it out with the best of them. Dan keeps asking if I will remember he exists during those 4 days. If he calls me, I’m sure that his name will ring a bell.


The other VERY BIG horse news is that I am a PAID EQUESTRIAN! Something I have always dreamed about. It’s a pittance, but a very nice young lady about my age or older has asked me to exercise her lovely Connemera/Thoroughbred mix once or twice a week. I put up an ad on Craigslist offering my services as a seasoned rider looking to make a few bucks for the WEG. After a couple weeks of silence (which is what I expected) I was surprised to receive an email. A perfect situation really! I’m delighted. I’ll be going to meet the owner and her horse this evening, I will let you know how it turns out.
Here is a picture of the lovely mare:

9.09.2010

Shana Tova!

Strange things are happening. It's Rosh Hashana, which is the Jewish New Year, and that is excellent.  My small and personal observance of the holiday may or may not have made me dream incessantly about Jewish things last night, including me telling a small hispanic boy who threatened to burn a Torah that "I dare you to, but you don't have the CHUTZPAH!"  and then proceeded to tell him that this country's very fibers were woven by the immigrants of every country, and his liberties were paid for on the burdened backs of my untiring Jewish ancestors. So apparently, in my own subconscious, I am an 83 year old yiddish woman from upstate New York.

Actually, there is nothing surprising about that.

Then when I woke up this morning there was a text from my Harvard/Peace Corps/Students First friend (let's call her Wonderwoman) and Wonderwoman has sent me a picture on her phone from a book of a ravine filled with ousted Jews from an "unknown soviet state" which looks suspiciously like the ravine we saw in Moldova where a whole village of Jews were left to starve to death.  Whether they are the same ravine or not is entirely irrelevant; this happened all over, to hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews. But it was weird to see it in front of me on a cell phone right then.

I have been so swept away in love and work and a new life that sometimes I forget there is an incremental fraction of powerful Jewish blood in my veins, and that I once promised myself I would do more to unearth their past. So while I am not a practicing Jew who can be freed of my sins today, I do plan and hope to observe the new Jewish year, and paradoxically, to make the world less about Jews and Gentiles, or Torahs and Qu'urans, and more about people.  I won't contribute to a divided world.  I won't contribute to collective negativity.  I won't put anyone in the ravine. 



9.08.2010

Game Theory.

In the course of the past couple of weeks, things have gotten exponentially better at my job. My productivity has gone through the roof, and the work that I’m producing is the caliber that I expect of myself. And sure enough, once I started truly committing myself to the research and to the letters and to each patron of the Uvinersity of Uhat that I am writing to, the number of errors, the amount of red ink, and the amount of worry has gone down. And as my confidence improves, the confidence is more apparent in my writing too, and I actually sound more like the accomplished middle aged white males I’m supposed to be writing on behalf of! It’s quickly turned into a beautiful cycle of success, and I’m starting to really enjoy my work. For cubicle work, it’s the most rewarding thing that I can imagine.

 Today, I was given a truly great opportunity by my boss to interview the chairman of a committee here about his experiences as a student and philanthropist. The interview went superbly (though in listening to the playback, I’ve realized that I laugh a lot when I’m nervous. I really need to break that on the off-chance that I someday get to interview Ellie Wiesel or Nelson Mandela. I have a feeling that would end TERRIBLY) and I had a wonderful time researching the individual, asking him questions, taking his leads into interesting subjects, and challenging my writing abilities to produce something that will be on the Uvinersity website. All great news. What wasn’t as great was the rather awkward moment when a supervisor made an unsolicited office politics move in the middle of it.


As I may have mentioned here before, I share my job title with another woman. She does all the same work and responsibilities that I do, and has in fact been here just a little while longer. (Also, she’s an opera singer. Thus, let her be known as “Opera Singer”. But my boss gave me this assignment, which was fine, and then asked the Opera Singer to fetch the Chairman and me coffee or water or whatever else we needed for the course of the interview. It just seemed like an unnecessary request when we have 2 receptionists and an executive secretary that normally do that sort of thing.  So in the middle of the interview, she was sent it with cups, a pitcher, and asking how we took our coffee.  I could tell she was a little hurt, and I don't blame her. 

 I am proud of the work I do, but I would certainly not want it shoved in my coworker’s face, nor do I think it’s necessary. I actually think she gets things done a little faster than me, and she is the most polite person on the phone and in person with donors of anyone in the office. Despite the fact that I am sure our writing and productivity are compared by others on a regular basis, I don’t consider her my competition, I consider her a friend and a great coworker who keeps me honest and on task (other than taking a wee break to write this blog.) So what was a great moment in my job and career was made a little bittersweet by the fact that it was shoved in her face for reasons that seem to only be a matter of mind games.


I hope it doesn’t damage my own future or karma or anything else to say this, but I hope she comes back with a fire and shows them all what’s what. We don’t do games. We do our jobs.


And blog occasionally.