Been There, Done That

commentary on many different thoughts

Month: August, 2013

Alvin the Awesome

This is Alvin taking care of me in my very first driving show!

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And this was the result!

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Thank You

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Just wanted to say thank you to my incredible friend, teacher and dance partner, Jari Muller, for putting up with me for eight whole years! Hope you can take another 20 or so!

Iditarod History

The Iditarod is the annual Anchorage to Nome dogsled race (thank you Wikipedia! and apologies for the mistake yesterday, not Fairbanks) held in March to test the insanity level of dogsled mushers. It was established in 1973 as a testosterone-laden “my dogs are better than your dogs” – “oh yeah?” competition, and has since become an international sport. 14 countries have sent their craziest folk to contest.

According to the History Channel’s story on dogsledding, the original theme for the Iditarod was to follow in the footsteps (or maybe dogprints) of a heroic race during the Klondike gold rush – to bring a desperately-needed diptheria vaccine from Anchorage to Nome.

Not to be outdone, the truly insane established the Iditabike in 1987, to push the sport of mountain biking to the outer edges of lunacy. Check out the glorious photos on the official website, http://www.iditabike.com. The race hasn’t been run for 20 years or so, according to the organizer, but it’s still worth a chuckle.

Musings of the Brain-Fried

Those of you who knew me when will agree that my ex was, in a word, different. He marched to his own drummer. And there are those who will agree with me that sometime the drumbeat did not resonate to anything of this world. This particular piece of musing came to mind recently.

In a local (very local) paper, there was a short article about a South Georgia (that’s our Georgia, not their Georgia, although you might be forgiven for the mistake in context) woman who wants to be the first Georgia woman to win the Iditarod. The Iditarod, for normal folks, is the insane Fairbanks (correct me if I’m wrong, I didn’t look it up) to Nome dog-sled race (yes, mushing) run every year in Alaska (obviously) in March. March in Alaska is not a tropical paradise, which is why the “insane” comment. Of the hundreds of teams that enter, only the strong (and the seriously insane) survive.

This woman has her three teams of Huskies (poor dogs in Georgia summers, but maybe she clips them) hooked to bike-carts to train, and is quite serious about this. More power to her. Don’t know if anything will come of it, but good luck to her.

Although this whole digression may have sounded like non sequituur in reference to Fang, ’twasn’t. Fang, bless him, wanted to do the Iditabike. Yes, the Iditabike. I believe it is run concurrently with the genuine Iditarod, on bicycles. I told you he was different.

And before you ask, I don’t know if he ever realized that dream – or the one about biking the Hindu Kush (look that one up on a map). But I have to admit – he had dreams. And a person without a dream is dead, whether alive or not. (Old Apache saying) Let’s hear it for dreams!!!

Panic Attacks

We all have them. We all deal with them. I spent the 3-hour drive home from my latest driving lesson speculating on the different forms they take!

With Moses, panic attacks used to take the form of heading into a jump either off-stride, too slow or completely discombobulated. Moses taught me to deal with these panic attacks by throwing the reins at him, grabbing as much mane as I could hold, and kicking for all I was worth. He was clever and very much into self-preservation, and he’d always take care of both of us, as long as I kept kicking. One problem with this:

With the young horse, this got me into even more trouble. I got him into a fence wrong (we were having the famous “one last school before the first show of the season”) and, forgetting this was The Young Horse, I threw the reins at him and kicked. Young Horse looked over his shoulder at me and said “huh?”. Not good. Two surgeries later …

On the dance floor, panic attacks show up in situations that I’m not completely sure I can handle. We’ve started doing American Style (that’s the Ginger Rogers style) in addition to International Standard (that’s what you see at the big European competitions). In International, you never take your hands off your partner. American style requires me to be out there all by myself sometimes. This can get intimidating when there are lots of other couples on the floor – most of them either in your way or in your face. I am learning how to keep kicking there – my motto is Stand Your Ground!!

International style is easier in that respect, because my partner is a true professional, and he can bail me out of almost anything I can get us into. Take for example the time we were doing a new advanced step for the first time. It required a spin with one leg crossed over the other (that part wasn’t so bad). Trouble was, I got both of my feet crossed between his crossed feet (still haven’t figured out how I managed that one). Bless him, he’s incredibly athletic and has marvelous balance, and he saved both of us from a nasty spill. Of course, I hear about it afterwards, and we fixed it at home, but at competitions, it’s nice to have a reliable anchor.

After a lot of times out there and dealing with “aaaaaack!”, you finally start figuring out which way is up and work through it.

Bucket List

Uganda 1964

Something to do when you’re looking for somewhere to go.

Waxing Nostalgic

Moses 94

This weekend in 1995 we did our one and only preliminary! He took awesome care of me.

Editors

I have babbled on and on about movies that could benefit from serious editing (last 30 minutes of The Return of the King; Dances with Wolves – by a chunk (my Daddy always called that one Dances with the Camera); most of the Bourne films (take out masses of extraneous violence); Lincoln). You are free to agree or disagree on these …

Once I started getting paid (!) to write, I discovered the wonderful world of editors. I’ve had good and bad editors (one took out a “not” in a sentence, which invalidated the entire article!) and wonderful ones (you know who you are!). I’ve started becoming aware of popular material that either has or could use a good editor. Take, for example:

Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. Award-winning science fiction (justifiably so – awesome piece). When it was originally published in the (I think it was) 50s, the editors removed – get this – 50,000 words from the manuscript. And it was an awesome read. About 10 years ago, the publishers released the “uncut” version, with the 50,000 words back in. In a word, ick. I would have given up in the first 3 chapters!

On the other hand: J K Rowling’s last Harry Potter book, The Deathly Hallows. Huge, over 700 pages. Most of it babble. It reads like she’s working from a checklist (let’s see, this one has to go, this one has to find this, this has to be there, this one has to be offed in a dramatic fashion to make the climax work), and I would happily have axed the redemption scenes and the epilogue. My opinion. Yours?

On the other hand, if you haven’t read Stephen King’s 11/23/63, do so. And get a pad of paper and a really sharp pencil and take notes on who’s who. I had to read it 3 times to really figure it out. This too is huge, but everything in those 800 pages means something.

On the side of editors: Team of Rivals (Doris K Goodwin). Basis for the movie Lincoln. Another 500+ pager, and another one that could have benefited from expurgation. Three different books, and they don’t really mesh.

Again, my opinion. Your thoughts?

And the Beat Goes On

Thought you’d like to see what we’ve been doing!

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Pink Elephants

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Cupcakes anyone?