Position, posture, and riding

Ever have so many posts in the backlog that you just never get around to catching up? It’s been like that. Many good things (and a few annoying things) going on!

Good things first. I’ve made a lot of progress in riding, just in time for horse camp this week. Yay horse camp! There will be blogging from camp if I have internet access.

Earlier this year, I started feeling frustrated with my riding. Kasane some times responded to my aids, and other ties didn’t. Some times she would roll into a canter when I was asking her to leg yield at the trot. Kasane is a very compact horse. If I lean forward just a little, she goes faster. Looking down at her shoulders to check her canter lead is enough to cause her to change leads.

We went to two jumping clinics in one weekend. One clinic on Saturday my friend Sylvana taught and the Sunday clinic was sponsored by the local Horsemaster’s group. Both were excellent and helped me overcome my anxiety about going over jumps. Kasane gets excited about jumping and rushes. She loves jumping. Part of the many things I learned from those clinics is that her rushing is in large part because of my position.

I grew up riding hunt seat, which means I lean too far forward and have my hands too low when I ride. Many years of ballet also mean that a natural turnout when I’m riding. My toes some times look like they could be wings. (When you ride any style, your legs are supposed to be against the horse. Turning your toes out shifts where your legs make content and minimizes the area.

I took a month worth of riding to focus on sitting back, so I could retrain myself to not lean forward. The trick is to teach myself where it feels right when leaning back. Lots and lots of walking to get that before I moved on to trotting. If I was leaning too far forward by even just a little, she would roll into a canter (usually on the wrong lead).

When I am riding in the correct position, with my legs flat against her and my upper body not leaning forward, our communication is improved. My aids are lighter. She lifts her front end, her impulsion improves, her headset is freer. She uses herself better because I’m not in her way.

It’s been enlightening and exciting. Yesterday the barn owner helped me re-learn a dressage test for camp. She still had to remind me to lean back but it’s less frequent than it used to be. She said that my riding had made huge strides in the past month.

Some times focusing on the basics has repercussions all the way up the chain.

I was so tickled with Kasane. My riding instructor gave me home work to help with not leaning forward and to improve my leg position: lots of riding without stirrups.

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Abney Park

I’ve been listening to a lot of music by Abney Park. They posted a new song today that struck a cord. Video has lyrics.

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Plumber fixed the drip

The tub is no longer leaking. My neighbor said that the build quality on these houses isn’t very good and I believe him. This was the second time the tub had to be repaired because of a drip. One thing I did learn with these old Delta faucets: the springs have to be elongated just a little bit with a gentle squeeze from a pair of pliers. Otherwise, they are a little too short and don’t seat properly.

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Waiting on the plumber

So my day feels like I’m waiting on the plumber because he’s coming to fix the sink (well, tub faucet, but close enough).

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Kitteh likes water drip

I turned off the water to the house when I went to work and during the day over the weekend. I turned the water back on overnight so the pipes wouldn’t freeze. I was upstairs looking at the faucet, and BrieBrie decided to try and help me.

Help from BrieBrie means her investigating each tool and playing with anything that might move. BrieBrie had her back feet on the ground and her front feet on the tub rim. Just too cute.


For size comparison, here is a picture taken a few minutes after the first one. BrieBrie is sitting on the tub edge and Phaedra is on the floor near the tub.

2015-02-15 23.47.08

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Leaky bathtub faucet

A few months ago, my upstairs bathtub faucet began to drip. Just a little at first, but over the months it became a constant background noise. I couldn’t stand it and found a video on how to repair the Delta faucet. It is an older faucet, with a push-button diverter and a single knob that controls water amount and temperature. I took apart the faucet handle, replaced the inner rubber seals and springs. The leak stopped.

A month ago when the dripping started again. Just a few drips. If I moved the shower knob down and to the left, then the dripping would usually stop. The dripping went from a few paltry drips to a continuous stream.

2015-02-15 23.45.28

Nothing I have tried stops the stream of water. It’s hot water, too. Since it’s been warm, I shut off the household water when I went to bed last night and have called the home warranty place. They are going to send someone out on Monday to look at it.

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Video on writing research papers

Excellent presentation by Professor Simon Peyton Jones of Microsoft Research. He provides a seven step process. One enlightening thing he said is to start writing and *then* do your research. The process of writing can help hone what research is necessary (and prevents being bogged down in research).

Additional resources on research are available on Professor Jones’ web site.

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Resume help

I’m helping a friend with a resume tonight so I’ve been reading through links on the latest and greatest in writing resumes. Most of the techniques I’ve used are still valid. The format needs to be updated but the general items that are included are the same.

It’s interesting that the idea of a professional “landing page” is now popular. A landing page used to be what you ended up on after clicking through on a banner ad. I suppose I’d rather see the term professional site or page instead of “landing page.”

When we were creating my friend’s resume, we used a bunch of different articles and sites for inspiration and information on current trends in resume writing.

Here are the links I found to help her tackle writing a resume:

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Neil Gaiman reads Jabberwocky

Neil Gaiman does a lovely recitation of Lewis Carroll’s famous poem, Jabberwocky.

Of course, this can’t be compared to the Muppet version.

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Update on kitties

BrieBrie and Phaedra have settled in and are doing incredibly well. BrieBrie has got her full Maine Coon on and has blossomed into a furrball. Phaedra is a cuddle cat: she has started sitting on my lap and purring. The little scaredy-cat has turned out to be pretty brave.

My parents were down for Thanksgiving and stayed in my room. This was the first time the kitties had to deal with people other than me staying in my room. Mom came in and they immediately loved all over her legs, purred against her, and were just so happy to be petted. They weren’t sure what to do when Ed came in. They did come out for him eventually. The kitties even slept on the bed with my parents.

Phaedra and BrieBrie have come so far from when I brought them home at the end of March. Every time I open the door, the kitties come running and greet me. They sleep with me every night. When I’m downstairs, I can hear them galloping upstairs like a heard of miniature elephants. Some nights, like tonight, they are quiet.

To show how much they have changed, here are some comparison pictures. Here is a picture of when I first met BrieBrie at Cat Angels.

BrieBrie on the chair at Cat Angels

BrieBrie on the chair at Cat Angels

Here is BrieBrie over the weekend, with her long haired heritage showing. She’s such a lovely cat.

BrieBrie, Thanksgiving weekend, Nov 2014

BrieBrie, Thanksgiving weekend, Nov 2014

BrieBrie Thanksgiving weekend, 2014

BrieBrie Thanksgiving weekend, 2014

And Phaedra, hiding under the chair at Cat Angels, on the same visit when I first met her. She was so scared, poor thing.

Phaedra, hiding and not very social

Phaedra, hiding and not very social

She is now an aggressive cuddle cat. She’s hysterical when she plays. The laser light is her friend and she goes after it with a frantic passion.

Phaedra looking very cute

Phaedra looking very cute

Phaedra in the sink 2

Phaedra in the sink 2

Phaedra by the food bowl

Phaedra by the food bowl

And finally, BrieBrie and Phaedra in the early morning curled up with me. This is probably one of my favorite pictures of them.

Morning with the kitties

Morning with the kitties

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Gentlemen’s sidesaddle benefit class

At the 2014 Region 11 Men’s Sidesaddle Class Benefit for the Arabian Horse in Distress Fund. Hysterical. (Video link won’t display. Sorry.)

2014 Region 11 Mens SideSaddle Class Benefit for AHDF raising over $15,000 from ArabianHorseGlobal on Vimeo.

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Kenya came up lame

My Mom’s lovely mare Kenya came up lame today. (Kenya is Kasane’s sister by the same sire.) Kenya’s back right leg was slightly swollen above the fetlock. We had the vet out and it turns out Kenya had an abscess. It cleared up shortly after about a week of bandaging… but she’s all better now.

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BrieBrie had Horner’s Syndrome

This past Friday evening, I noticed that BrieBrie was holding her left eye closed a little. I didn’t worry about it because I figured she had gotten into something. If it still didn’t look right in the morning, I would call the vet.

Her eyes were noticeably different on Saturday morning. Her pupils were dilated unevenly: the right one was almost fully dilated open while the left was a slit with the still-droopy upper eyelid. Her behavior, demeanor, playfulness, and appetite were normal. She had no trouble seeing: she chased the heck out of the laser pointer light.


I called my vet at Piedmont Animal Hospital in Hillsborough and was told to come in immediately. BrieBrie was so good for the vet. No fussy, no struggling, just curled up quietly and let the vet look at her eyes.

BrieBrie’s eyes looked perfectly normal structurally. No apparent damage any where, whether externally or internally. The vet said that usually the symptoms will resolved in a few days and that there wasn’t a chance of going blind. (I was worried about stroke or a neurological issue because of my experience with other animals.) I’ve attached a picture from Saturday morning and a picture from Sunday afternoon. Her eyes started looking more normal on Sunday and today they look back to normal.


The vet said that BrieBrie has Horner’s Syndrome, a issue that can come up for no evident reason and go away on its own.

I have been so proud of her and Phaedra. When they go to the vet, they are so good. No fussing, no hissing, just quiet and patient. They are both gentle kitties.

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Upgrading Mac Pro video card

I upgraded the Mac Pro’s stock video card to a Gigabyte nVidia GeForce GTX 600 with 2 GB of video ram. The card requires a special power cable: PCIe Power Cable for Mac. No local stores had this part in stock, so I ordered it from Amazon. It finally arrived so the card was installed last night.

I followed the video instructions below and had the card installed in a few minutes. It was a little disconcerting because when the system booted the screen remained black until the login screen appeared.

I’ve been running a few days with the card installed. The only problem I’ve had is that the system doesn’t always seem to come back from sleep. When that happens, I end up having to reboot the machine. Not crazy about this but I’m not sure what’s causing the problem.

More investigation, which means another post!

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New-to-me Mac Pro

Periodically at work they offer old systems to employees as part of a employee-only sale. For the first time that I can remember, Mac Pros were available. There were a few early 2009 and 2008 models. My friend and I were lucky enough to get the only two early 2009 models left.

I currently have an iMac that I bought in early 2010 (listed as late 2009 model). It has a Core 2 Duo Intel processor. I’ve upgraded it to 8 GB of RAM, which helps. It has a lethargic 256MB video card that barely keeps up with the games I’d like to play. The hard drive was replaced under warranty. The screen is lovely with no bad pixels.

I bought the iMac when my old Hackintosh quit working. What I had really wanted instead of the Hackintosh was a Mac Pro because of the upgrade capabilities and power. Unfortunately, the cost of a Mac Pro was way out of my price range.

Until now. The Mac Pro might be old, but it still has a better processor, graphics card, and upgrade possibilities (four PCIe slots and four hard drive bays!). The system I got had 8 GB of RAM, a 640 GB hard drive, and the standard 512 MB nVidia graphics card. No operating system was installed.

Upgrades for a Mac Pro are different than upgrading a regular PC. Mac-compatible graphics cards are expensive, even old ones. If you know about building hackintoshes, then you know that there is an avid community that has written drivers for dozens of additional pieces of hardware. Why not use the kernel extensions (kexts, the equivalent of drivers) the community has written to enable hardware on a real Mac Pro?

I chose to add a new wifi card, upgrade the video card, upgrade the RAM, and add a new primary hard drive (since the 640 GB was probably original). RAM and hard drive were very easy to do: system now has 32 GB of RAM and a 2 TB hard drive, with the 640 GB available as extra storage space.

Quite a few of the hackintosh sites recommended a TP Link PCI express wifi card. The specific model (4800) wasn’t available locally, but the Wifi-N 300Mbs card (model TL-WN881ND) was in stock at a local shop. I installed the card and found a kext on a hackintosh site that let me get the card up and running immediately. Perfect.

I also got a MSI GTX 660 nVidia card, which should be natively supported from what I read. Unfortunately, I have to order a special power cable to be able to attach the card to the motherboard ($8 on Amazon). Hopefully by the end of the week I will have the system completely configured.

I’m using Migration Assistant tonight to move the data from the iMac to the Mac Pro. The cool thing is that I should be able to get enough from the iMac to cover the cost of the Mac Pro and the upgrades I’ve done.

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