Been There, Done That

commentary on many different thoughts

Month: April, 2014

The Weather

I thought, when I left Indiana, that I was leaving Tornado Alley behind me. Wrong. We’re due for some lulus here today. Brings back memories:

1. I was at a hunter show with one of my trainer’s young ponies. We were about half-way through a perfectly nice course when the clock struck 11am on a Friday morning. You say, so what? In my part of Indiana, tornado sirens were tested every Friday morning at 11am. And there was such a siren at the foot of the arena where we were jumping. Needless to say, the pony gave a huge start, but fortunately settled down and went on with his work. We ended up winning that class!

2. Indiana is flat. Period. You can draw one topographical line across the state and account for it all. Which means that (at least while I was there), when you were outside the city limits (where our barn was) you could see for miles and miles. We learned very quickly that if you saw the Storm Chaser tornado vehicles in your neighborhood, you very rapidly went somewhere else – preferably deep and dark. Where the Storm Chasers were, you didn’t want to be.

Anyway, deep sympathy for the folks who’ve been in harm’s way this week in Arkansas and Mississippi and Alabama. Our thoughts are with you.

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Ironies

Bravo for life’s little ironies.

At my first Saddlebred show of the season last weekend, I was enjoying watching the suit classes perform. Suit classes are for people who know what they’re doing, as opposed to the Academy classes, in which I drive. Academy classes are introduction to horse shows for those of us who cannot afford, or have never been, to big-time horse shows. Rules for Academy are strict – the horse must be a lesson horse (I love the official description: the horse must earn his living as a lesson horse), it must be naturally shod and shown in lesson (not ultra-fancy) tack.

Anyway, something I really enjoy about Saddlebred shows is the calliope. The musician plays tunes appropriate to the gait being called, and it gives a pleasant lilt to the atmosphere. Until something caught my ear. He was playing an up-beat version of Del Shannon’s “Runaway”. A more inappropriate tune for a horse show, I couldn’t begin to imagine!

Words, words, words

Internet services just ran an an article on “the most annoying words at work”. They were covering vogue buzzwords like “interface” (I must interface with the other department); “circle” (I will circle back to the client); and a good many others.

Still don’t take into consideration my two pet peeves: “that’s the way we’ve always done it!” (said with a long drawn out and high-pitched “always”) when used as an excuse for why something didn’t get done as directed. The other is a phrase which is (hopefully) confined to the life and accident-and-health insurance industries (although morticians may suffer from the same complaint) and that is “he (or she) became deceased”. Since there are so many other monosyllabic euphemisms for “he died”, please use one that’s grammatically correct.

I spent years coaching staff on the only acceptable format for legal documents: if a second-grader can’t understand what you’ve written, go back and do it again. I learned this the hard way. Graduating from a very, very academically rigorous liberal arts college with a sesquipedalian vocabulary of which I was inordinately proud, I learned quickly that my purple prose just wouldn’t cut the mustard in the business world. I now pride myself on being the only attorney of my acquaintance who can write a solid, enforceable legal document in language that the layman can readily understand. Credit for this goes to my very first boss, Matthew McGuire, who endured countless re-writes until he got it through to me.

More Re-Cap

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Awards time – with Jari. When teacher is happy, everybody happy.

Michigan Re-Cap

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Us!

Slightly Weird Light

Bonfire

While the traditional lighting of the Easter bonfire is richly symbolic and fraught with meaning, this shot from last year’s ceremony at the Episcopal cathedral tickled my sense of irony. The bishop is front left.

Hello Cupcake!

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Birthday cupcakes for a friend who “digs” elephants!

The New Light

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Happy Easter! The Austrian tradition is to kindle new fire in token of the new Light. This is done just before dawn.

Never Too Late to be Cool!

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This ran a few days ago on FB, and I think it says everything there is to say!

Mangle-ing The Classics

Everyone’s heard my diatribe on the movie version of the Hobbit. It’s a short book, as Tolkien’s works go, and could have been shorter. To turn it into 3 separate movies – and including guurrls – is ridiculous …. LOTR three-parter was at least folllowing the outline of the books, although the movies included much (guurrls again …) that wasn’t in the text and left out a lot that was.

What really set me thinking about mangling of classic written works was something that came up in the A-Z series I just ran. I was thinking of going for either “N” (National), “V” (Velvet) or “P” (Pie) for one of the letters. Now the problem there was the difference between the Enid Bagnold book “National Velvet” and the film starring a young (very young) Elizabeth Taylor and the late (may he rest in peace) Mickey Rooney. One major, major problem with the film, which is, by the way, a perfectly lovely film all by itself. BUT: The BOOK’s main premise (and remember this because it’s the whole underlying theme of the book) is the truism that in order to win the Grand National, the horse must be a Thoroughbred (stamina, courage, jumping ability, speed). The Grand National is the granddaddy of all jump races. I walked the course once while I was living in England, and you could not PAY me to even ride toward those fences.

The point of the book is that the Pie is a piebald (hence, logically enough, his name). Thoroughbreds cannot be piebalds. Or at least that’s what the Jockey Club registries both here and in England maintain. (By the way, so does the AQHA – the American Quarter Horse Association: if the horse has paint markings, it’s not eligible for registry as a Quarter Horse). If it’s piebald/skewbald/pinto/paint, what-have-you, it’s not a thoroughbred.

Velvet and her trusty sidesick (who in the book is a Henry Dailey – type figure, not a young ‘un) set out to prove this wrong. (As a sideline, also, Velvet disguises herself because guuurllls can’t ride in the Grand National – way too strenuous for our delicate constitutions.) And since it’s classic kiddie lit, there is a happy ending, proving that you don’t have to be an aristocrat to do great things.

This is what set me off about the film: The horse playing The Pie is a (get this) gorgeous chestnut thoroughbred.